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1 month ago

Motorola is announcing a new phone at Mobile World Congress in February

27

Motorola teases a new phone to launch at MWC.

Motorola is set to launch a new phone in Barcelona next month prior to the start of Mobile World Congress.

The annual show has become a traditional venue for manufacturers to launch phones for the European market, but many of them end up in North America and beyond.

Motorola is holding its event at 4:30pm on February 26, and while it's unclear what the Lenovo subsidiary is launching at this point, based on the render in the vague invite, it's unlikely to be part of its Moto Z line.

It's possible it may be another Moto X product, or a variant of the Moto M, which was released in Asia late last year, but the likely scenario is a new Moto G, which is due for a refresh after the successful Moto G4 and G4 Plus.

We'll have to wait and see; MWC 2017 is only a short time away!

More: Huawei's next flagship to launch at MWC 2017

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1 month ago

Video: LG G6 rumors, leaks, features and more!

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As is traditional in the weeks leading up to a new LG flagship phone, the Korean company has slowly started to trickle out details of its next big thing, the LG G6. We're expecting the new phone, which could be one of the first Snapdragon 835 devices, to break cover at Mobile World Congress in late February. And based on what LG has already teased, we're set for a new, unibody design, with the company moving away from the ill-fated modularity it introduced in the G5.

Other features likely to make it into the G6, based on LG's recent teaser, include water resistance — finally — and new camera tricks that'll let you "capture it all at once." Check out our video for more on what we're expecting from the first big Android announcement of the year!

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1 month ago

Huawei Mate 9 now available on Three UK

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Huawei Mate 9

Prices for the 5.9-incher start at £31 per month.

Huawei's biggest and best phone yet, the Mate 9, arrives on store shelves in the UK today through Three. The carrier has Huawei's 5.9-inch flagship in space gray with 64GB of storage, with on-contract prices starting at £31 per month with a £99 upfront payment. (That'll get you the phone with a 1GB data allowance.)

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1 month ago

Best Cheap Android Phones of 2017

The Moto G4 represents the ideal experience for an inexpensive Android phone and is a fantastic value.

Best overall

Moto G4

See at Amazon

The Moto G line basically created the high-value low-cost phone segment, and years on has kept making great options that start at amazingly low prices. The latest, the Moto G4, builds on the same formula. You get a 5.5-inch phone that gives you a solid screen, 13MP camera, long battery life and most of Moto's great software features.

On the downside, the Snapdragon 617 processor and 2GB of RAM can sometimes come up short if you have expectations set by more expensive phones, and the hardware doesn't exactly feel inspired. But you have to give in somewhere.

Bottom-line: You really can't go wrong with a Moto G4 — it's the inexpensive phone that all other inexpensive phones are measured by.

One more thing: If you want to endure ads on your lock screen, Amazon will sell you a Moto G4 for $50 off.

Why the Moto G4 is best

Moto just knows how to get the most out of inexpensive hardware.

Ever since it debuted the Moto G and Moto E lines, Motorola has known how to take inexpensive hardware and make it sing with great performance and software features that elevated the whole phone above what you'd expect for the money. Now that Moto is part of Lenovo, things haven't changed: the Moto G4 is an excellent value.

From our Moto G4 review:

So is the Moto G4 worth the $199.99 price tag? In a word, yes. This phone packs a serious punch for its asking cost. You get fantastic battery life, a decent display, and a camera that delivers great results.

The Moto G4 isn't a spectacular specimen of finely crafted hardware or exquisite design, but that's not what you want in a cheap phone. You want to get a good screen, enough power, plenty of storage and a capable camera — the Moto G4 delivers on all points, while offering you a clean and simple software experience that isn't loaded up with useless cruft that slows down the phone.

If you're willing to spend a little extra money it's worth cerious consideration to get the Moto G4 Plus, but if you can't spend extra the baseline Moto G4 will handle your basic smartphone needs and then some.

Best backup

Honor 6X

See at Amazon

For the new year the Honor 6X replaces its predecessor the 5X on this list. While you won't be blown away by magnificent design or all of the top-end features, the Honor 6X is an exercise in what you can get for about $250. You get a good enough screen, expandable storage and a fingerprint sensor, wrapped in a metal body that's better than the plastic offerings out there. There's also a neat dual camera setup around back that can take interesting-looking shots.

Sure it's stuck on Micro-USB and the software has yet to make the jump to Huawei's new EMUI 5.0 (and we can't wait for that to come), but you can't get that complete of a package in a phone this inexpensive.

Bottom-line: It doesn't offer everything, but it's a solid package for the money.

One more thing: Keep an eye out for discounts and promotional "flash sales" at lower prices.

Best under $100

Moto E LTE (2015)

See at Amazon

Motorola's second-generation Moto E adds LTE to the mix, while retaining more of the premium features from more expensive Moto phones than ever before. You're looking at a basic 4.5-inch qHD (960x540) LCD display, and a Snapdragon 410 processor running the show in the LTE model (which is the one to buy).

Beyond that, the latest Moto E is an unspectacular but solid budget offering, with a decidedly basic 5-megapixel rear shooter and chunky plastic construction. It does have Moto's excellent software experience going for it though, and has been updated to Android 6.0 Marshmallow. For well under $100 ($87 at the time of writing), it's a great buy if you're on a strict budget.

Bottom-line: The Moto E LTE gets you basic smartphone functions and doesn't feel as cheap as the price tag would lead you to believe.

One more thing: Don't expect an update to Android 7.0 Nougat on the Moto E.

Best in Europe

Wileyfox Swift 2

See at Amazon

The Wileyfox Swift 2 is the British company's latest Android phone and has every right to be taken notice of. It costs a ridiculously cheap £119 and packs Moto G-matching hardware while undercutting it on price.

The display is nice, the battery life is pretty good, the overall appearance is on point and the software provided by Cyanogen is slick, speedy and bloat-free. It's not available officially outside Europe right now, but it's absolutely one of the best cheap phones money can buy. And with recent offers dropping the price to just £99, it really is a bargain.

Bottom-line: For those in Europe looking something a little nicer than a Moto E, with a fresh software experience, the Swift is a good choice.

One more thing: Don't be tempted by the lower-end Spark or Storm. The Swift is the only one we recommend.

Conclusion

If you don't want to spend over $200 and still want a great Android phone, the Moto G4 is the best choice. You don't get the best looking or feeling phone, but it offers a top-notch experience, especially for the price.

Best overall

Moto G4

See at Amazon

The Moto G line basically created the high-value low-cost phone segment, and years on has kept making great options that start at amazingly low prices. The latest, the Moto G4, builds on the same formula. You get a 5.5-inch phone that gives you a solid screen, 13MP camera, long battery life and most of Moto's great software features.

On the downside, the Snapdragon 617 processor and 2GB of RAM can sometimes come up short if you have expectations set by more expensive phones, and the hardware doesn't exactly feel inspired. But you have to give in somewhere.

Bottom-line: You really can't go wrong with a Moto G4 — it's the inexpensive phone that all other inexpensive phones are measured by.

One more thing: If you want to endure ads on your lock screen, Amazon will sell you a Moto G4 for $50 off.

Best Android phones under $400
Best Android phones under $100

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1 month ago

Huawei P8 Lite 2017 unveiled with Nougat, hitting Europe this month

2

P8 Lite gets a 2017 refresh with EMUI 5.0 and Kirin 655.

Huawei has refreshed the P8 Lite with a 2017 model that features upgraded hardware in the form of a 5.2-inch Full HD display and a Kirin 655 SoC. The phone also comes with 3GB of RAM and a rather disappointing 16GB internal memory, but there is a microSD card slot.

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1 month ago

Lenovo K6 Power review: A multimedia powerhouse

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Lenovo K6 Power review

The Lenovo K6 Power offers impressive specs and a compelling software experience that makes it one of the best phones in the entry-level segment.

Quick take:

Lenovo has been steadily gaining ground in India over the last 12 months, and the K6 Power is the company's best offering yet in the entry-level segment. With a metal body, decent internals, and amazing battery life, the K6 Power offers a lot for ₹9,999, making it one of the most desirable phones in this category.

The good

  • Compact design
  • Excellent battery life
  • Great stereo speakers

The bad

  • Average camera
  • Slow software updates
  • Weird placement of charging port

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1 month ago

Video: HTC U Ultra + U Play first impressions!

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Just a week removed from the end of CES, we already have our first major Android launch of 2017 — from HTC. The Taiwanese company has just unveiled the HTC U Ultra and U Play — a pair of new phones pitched as "flagship" devices.

But while both pack the same impressive metal-and-glass construction, the Ultra is the handset you'll want to get more excited about. It's got top-tier internals, an upgraded version of the camera from the HTC 10, Android 7.0 Nougat out of the box and AI smarts thanks to the new "Sense Companion." It's early days for both these phones: so early, in fact, that HTC isn't allowing live hands-on video. But we're still able to give you an early sneak peek at both phones. You'll find everything you need to know compressed into four minutes in our first look video!

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1 month ago

Android's progress lives and dies by Samsung

130

Google makes Android, but Samsung increasingly owns Android. And that's a problem for updates.

In Canada, we have seasons. It's currently winter, and therefore cold. Not so cold, but enough to change the snow to rain and back again, and it's been doing a fair amount of both lately.

But aside from cold hands and wet feet, this type of weather isn't great for most Android phones, and only one in my lineup right now is IP68 water resistant: the Samsung Galaxy S7 edge. But as wonderful and beautiful as that phone is — and despite the presence of a Micro-USB, it's barely aged a day — its success is actively being undermined by the fact that it's running Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow, and has been since I got it in March.

The problem

More than ever Google's Android strategy is permanently and inextricably aligned with Samsung's

With Samsung officially rolling out Nougat to its GS7 lineup, the time is ripe for talking about how much influence the company has over how Android's update-reliant fragmentation is seen by the world. But this is not just about Samsung's flagships, either. No, looking at this month's Android version distribution numbers, it occurred to me that more than ever Google's Android strategy is permanently and inextricably aligned with Samsung's as long as the former develops the OS for free and the latter keeps building the world's most popular phones on top of it.

And while we've heard rumors for years that Mountain View will take Android updates into its own hands, the most likely scenario is one that's playing out already: Google releasing annual updates to its Pixel line and keeping those running the latest version of its mobile OS for as long as possible.

In the meantime, it's hard to look at the paucity of phones out there running Nougat without levelling some of the blame directly at Samsung. While the Korean giant has certainly had a tough few months, potentially pushing back the release of Android 7.0 for its non-exploding phones, there's no question Samsung has a dubious track record for expeditious updates. A flick of the switch on a couple of generations of handsets would singlehandedly quintuple the number of phones running the latest version of Android.

It's going on six months since Android 7.0's official release on Nexus devices.

This time, Samsung did do things a little differently by offering a public (though hard-to-sign-up-for) beta of Nougat for the Galaxy S7 and S7 edge, but as valuable as such a process will be to the overall stability and performance of the phone's eventual release candidate, it will be nearly a full year after Android N was announced, and going on six months since Android 7.0's official release on Nexus devices.

The cold hard data

Even though Samsung begins its Nougat trickle next week, it will be months before all 50 million or so units get it — the majority will have been sold through carrier channels, most of whom perform their own extensive quality control — and many of those may receive the older Android 7.0 instead of the more recent Android 7.1.1. Again, this is nothing new. But based on new data from Kantar WorldPanel, Samsung's latest phones captured 28.9% of holiday sales, sitting closely behind the iPhone as the most popular devices in the U.S. That's millions of phones unboxed during the busiest season of the year running year-old Android software.

That same data from Kantar claims Google's Pixel phones accounted for just 1.3% of the smartphones sold in the same period, and more than half of that business was done from a single carrier, Verizon. Most people in the U.S. still buy their phones through carriers, and thanks to the longevity of hardware, last-generation devices are still being offered at tremendous discounts to people who just want something that works.

Devices like the Galaxy A and Galaxy J are the devices sold and forgotten, never receiving the upgrades us early adopters so crave.

Moving down the line, Samsung's A and J series are competent devices that, according to IDC, comprise the majority of the company's smartphone shipments every quarter. These are the devices sold and forgotten, never receiving the upgrades us early adopters so crave. But the longer replacement cycle of smartphones coupled with the fact that Samsung has little incentive to invest the considerable engineering time to even issue security updates to those entry-level and mid-range phones, let alone the updated Android code, means that we'll likely see slower uptake of Google's latest Android versions unless the cycle is broken. Same goes for older flagships like the Galaxy S6, Galaxy S5 — even the Galaxy S4, which Verizon still sells — which are still being purchased in the millions.

This isn't really Samsung's fault, either. The company has a right to support or neglect its phones as it sees fit, and millions of customers are obviously speaking with their wallets by continuing to purchase Galaxys over competing Android devices, most of which have better update track records. But that Android's long-term health is so caught up in Samsung's own update strategy can't sit well with Google, and the Pixel's modest success hasn't, and likely won't for some time, positively impact Mountain View's own desire to get the Platonic ideal into as many pockets as possible.

Well, I guess there's always next year.

Samsung Galaxy S7 and S7 edge

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1 month ago

Wileyfox unveils Swift 2 X with FHD display, Snapdragon 430 for £219

2

A larger Swift 2 Plus with a Full HD display.

Wileyfox has introduced the Swift 2 X, the third phone in the Swift family. The phone is now available for £219, and offers decent specs for the price in the form of a 5.2-inch Full HD display, Snapdragon 430 SoC, 3GB of RAM, 32GB storage, and a microSD slot.

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1 month ago

Samsung and LG may launch foldable phones this year

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It's time to get excited about foldable screens.

After showcasing concepts for several years, it looks like Samsung may finally launch a phone with a foldable screen later this year. Citing anonymous sources, The Korea Herald states that Samsung is getting ready to launch 100,000 units of a phone that unfurls into a 7-inch tablet sometime in the third quarter of 2017. Apparently, Samsung was already working on fold-in screens — panels that fold inward — and it wasn't a major challenge for the vendor to switch to screens that fold outward.

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1 month ago

Stable Nougat OTA now hitting Galaxy S7 and S7 edge, starting with beta users

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Android 7.0 Nougat is now making its way to the S7 and S7 edge.

After concluding the beta program last week, Samsung announced that it would roll out the stable Android 7.0 Nougat update to the Galaxy S7 and the S7 edge later this month. The company is now kicking off its rollout, with the update making its way initially to those enrolled in the Galaxy Beta Programme.

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1 month ago

HTC U Ultra + U Play hands-on: Hardware design isn't everything

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HTC U Ultra and U Play

HTC keeps making really interesting phones, but will anyone care? I want to believe.

The question is asked every single time HTC releases any phone, from its mid-range Desire line up to the One (and now just numbered) flagships. HTC's phones always pack stunning designs, clean and fast software, a few neat ideas ... and usually a couple of odd decisions that throw people off. On the whole they're still good phones, though, so why doesn't anyone ever seem to care? Through a combination of factors the smartphone market has started to leave HTC behind. It's a big company that doesn't make products that often go head-to-head with the likes of Samsung and Apple, but at the same time are too expensive to compete with the scrappier competition from OnePlus, Moto and Huawei in the mid-range market.

HTC's grasp at a chunk of the 2017 smartphone market isn't a new phone in an existing line, but instead two phones in a brand new line with a fresh name. They are the HTC U Ultra and U Play, phones that are ostensibly all about "you" (get it now?), and independent from previous offerings. They're marked by a fresh design approach and the start of injecting artificial intelligence into HTC's software, and are designed to take on the flagship (U Ultra) and top-end of the mid-range (U Play) markets.

With a beautiful glass exterior, high-end specs and a couple of features aimed at grabbing interest, the U Ultra is getting out ahead of the other flagships expected to launch in a couple of months. The U Play, for its efforts, is targeting other more price-sensitive markets with a size and spec cut inside the same excellent chassis. Will the pair offer enough to make people start considering HTC again? We take a look at what they have to offer.

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1 month ago

HTC announces U Ultra and U Play: Beautiful glass back in two sizes with disparate spec sheets

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HTC U Ultra and U Play

HTC is waiting less than two weeks into 2017 to launch two new phones.

At an event today in Taiwan, HTC unveiled its latest phones in a new line: the HTC U Ultra and U Play. The two models follow a familiar strategy for HTC, launching one high-end device and another in the same line with lower specs to target different audiences. To that point, the U Ultra is the phone we'll see here in the U.S. and around the world, while the U Play will see a much more limited release.

Both phones have a brand new design language for HTC, dominated by a curved full-glass back look it calls "liquid surface" and accented by clean metal accents and a muted front. The phones retain a front fingerprint sensor that doubles as a home button flanked by capacitive back and recents keys. You won't find a headphone jack on either phone, as HTC continues its high-quality USB-C audio story started with the HTC Bolt.

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1 month ago

HTC U Ultra specs: 5.7-inch QHD display, Snapdragon 821, 3000 mAh battery

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HTC U Ultra

You should know every last spec you're getting in a new phone.

HTC's U Ultra is a big phone, with plenty of specs under its beautiful glass exterior. When it comes to what you expect from a high-end phone, you get it here: Snapdragon 821, 4GB of RAM, 64GB of storage, a 5.7-inch QHD display covered by Gorilla Glass 5 and a top-end camera with big pixels and a fast aperture. It's all here, and more, in the full HTC U Ultra spec sheet.

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1 month ago

HTC U Play specs: 5.2-inch 1080p, MediaTek CPU, 16MP camera

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HTC U Play

Stepping down in size but also internal specs.

The HTC U Play may retain the excellent external hardware of its larger sibling, but the internal specs are decidedly downmarket from the U Ultra. In order to cut down the price, the U Play moves to a MediaTek processor and in some cases 3GB of RAM and 32GB of storage. It also drops to a less-desirable 16MP camera, smaller battery and a 1080p display resolution.

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