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2 months ago

OnePlus 3T now available to pre-order on O2 UK

0

On-contract prices start at £31 per month.

O2 UK has officially kicked off pre-orders for the OnePlus 3T ahead of the street date of November 28. The exclusive UK carrier partner for the souped-up OnePlus 3 successor has both the 64GB and 128GB models available online, in the new "gunmetal" color option. Prices start at £31 per month and £9.99 upfront for a mere 500MB data allowance, rising to £52 per month for a hefty 30GB bundle. (That's for the 64GB base model.)

In addition, eager fans can get their hands on the OnePlus 3T a little early, as O2 will be hosting a pop-up event next Thursday afternoon in London.

The OnePlus 3T will be available in O2 stores and online from 28 November, with O2's 134 Oxford Street London store hosting an exclusive OnePlus pop-up event from 3:02pm on Thursday 24 November.

See at O2

OnePlus 3T and OnePlus 3

OnePlus Amazon

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2 months ago

Confirmed: OnePlus 3 to be discontinued in favor of new 3T model

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OnePlus 3

When it's gone, it's gone.

With the arrival of the OnePlus 3T — a new mid-cycle refresh of the OnePlus 3 — some have been wondering what the future holds for OnePlus's original (and more affordable) flagship phone. Well, the short version is: It's going away, and it's not coming back.

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2 months ago

A Galaxy S7 exploded in Canada, but let's not freak out

170

A Galaxy S7 has reportedly exploded. Let's talk about it.

It's a sobering thought: you're driving down the street and you feel your pocket start to get hot. You instinctively pad it down, realize it's your phone and take it out. The phone then starts smoking, bursting into flames as you hold it. You try to safely get to the side of the road while still holding this flaming piece of metal and glass. It burns you as you do this, so you open the window and throw the phone outside, as flames consume it from within. Later, after being bandaged and treated for second-degree burns, you retrieve the piece of wreckage and begin to make sense of the madness.

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2 months ago

Best Modular Phone

Moto Z Droid

A modular phone lets you connect accessories to add new features make it even better. Here are the best choices right now.

Best Overall

Moto Z / Moto Z Force

Moto Z

See at Verizon (Moto Z) See at Verizon (Z Force) See at Amazon

Motorola's latest flagship phones come with a standard load out of high-end specs — a Snapdragon 820 processor, 4GB of RAM, a pretty decent (though not trailblazing) 13-megapixel camera and an attractive, super-thin metal design. But what makes these phones special are the mods — modular attachments which snap to the back of the phone thanks to the magic of magnetism. There are mods for increasing your battery capacity, adding a high-quality speaker, turning your phone into a mini projector, or adding an optically-zooming camera. And any mods you buy now will also work with next year's Moto phones.

You also benefit from Moto's lightweight Android UI, which (aside from the expected Verizon bloatware apps) doesn't bog you down with unnecessary features or an obnoxious third-party software skin. The Verizon-exclusive Moto Z Force gives you a shatterproof display and a bigger battery, as well as all the benefits of the regular Moto Z, in a slightly thicker chassis.

Bottom line: Moto does modular support right, with some really interesting and useful mods, and an easy mechanism for swapping them in and out.

One more thing: There's no headphone jack, so you'll need to use a USB-C dongle to connect most headphones to the Moto Z. #donglelife

Why the Moto Z + Z Force are the best

Modularity done right.

Without the mods, the Moto Z might have been yet another decent high-end smartphone. But the mods change all that, allowing Moto to build out meaningful functionality in a series of surprisingly great accessories. If you just want to add some visual flair to the phone, Moto's Style Shells are for you. There are a couple of great battery mods available, including wireless charging options. Even the seemingly ludicrous pico projector mod could be useful for road warriors.

Who says smartphones are becoming boring?

Best mid-range

Moto Z Play

Moto Z Play

See at Verizon See at Amazon

The Moto Z Play is what you get if you take the central idea of the Moto Z and re-engineer it as a really solid mid-range Android phone. It uses Qualcomm's super-efficient Snapdragon 625 chip, paired with 3GB of RAM and a hefty 3,600mAh battery, delivering outstanding longevity. The 5.5-inch display gets bumped down to 1080p, but still looks great. And there's a glass back now, as opposed to the Moto Z's metal unibody.

Fortunately, the Z Play uses the same ecosystem of mods as the regular Moto Z, so you can expand its functionality just as much as other phones in the series.

Bottom line: Forget last year's disappointing Moto X Play. The Moto Z Play is legit — a great mid-range smartphone even without the mods.

One More thing: With its gigantic battery and power-sipping CPU, the Moto Z Play is among the best Android phones out there for battery life.

Best non-Moto

LG G5

See at Verizon See at AT&T See at T-Mobile See at Sprint See at Amazon (Unlocked)

LG's first shot at a modular smartphone is a decent all-rounder, although the Korean firm's ecosystem of modular "Friends" isn't as robust as what we've seen for the Moto Z. You're basically looking at a camera grip, which doubles as an extra battery, a hi-fi audio module, and... that's basically it. (Unless you count the bundled bottom segment, which does nothing in particular.)

At least you get cutting-edge specs: A Snapdragon 820 processor, 4GB of RAM, and an excellent 16-megapixel rear camera, backed up by a wide-angle 8-megapixel shooter. The G5 is stronger as an all-round smartphone than it is as a showcase for modularity, but it's still a decent buy — particularly with recent price cuts.

Bottom-line: The G5's modular setup isn't as polished as Moto's, but it does boast a battery camera and a more hand-friendly form factor.

One more thing: The G5 also comes with the benefit of a fully removable battery, something of a rarity in smartphones these days.

Conclusion

Motorola has taken modular smartphones beyond a mere concept, and shown how you can build out modularity in a way that's easy to use, and adds value. The Moto Z and Moto Z Force will both give you the best modular experience available, thanks to snap-on accessories that are simple to attach, and do a bunch of cool stuff. Beyond that, they're just good, enjoyable phones to use in their own right.

Best Overall

Moto Z / Moto Z Force

Moto Z

See at Verizon (Moto Z) See at Verizon (Z Force) See at Amazon

Motorola's latest flagship phones come with a standard load out of high-end specs — a Snapdragon 820 processor, 4GB of RAM, a pretty decent (though not trailblazing) 13-megapixel camera and an attractive, super-thin metal design. But what makes these phones special are the mods — modular attachments which snap to the back of the phone thanks to the magic of magnetism. There are mods for increasing your battery capacity, adding a high-quality speaker, turning your phone into a mini projector, or adding an optically-zooming camera. And any mods you buy now will also work with next year's Moto phones.

You also benefit from Moto's lightweight Android UI, which (aside from the expected Verizon bloatware apps) doesn't bog you down with unnecessary features or an obnoxious third-party software skin. The Verizon-exclusive Moto Z Force gives you a shatterproof display and a bigger battery, as well as all the benefits of the regular Moto Z, in a slightly thicker chassis.

Bottom line: Moto does modular support right, with some really interesting and useful mods, and an easy mechanism for swapping them in and out.

One more thing: There's no headphone jack, so you'll need to use a USB-C dongle to connect most headphones to the Moto Z. #donglelife

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2 months ago

Best Phone For VR

You don't need a Vive or an Oculus Rift to experience great VR. A Galaxy S7 will do just fine.

Listen, we get it: You don't have space for an immersive virtual reality experience like the HTC Vive, nor do you want to shell out upwards of $600 for a fancy Oculus Rift setup. Thankfully, you don't have to—at least, not for the headset. If you've already got a high-end flagship in your hands from the likes of Samsung or Google, chances are it's ready for VR.

Right now, Samsung's Gear VR is leading the charge. It's in households and on roller coasters. And it's an affordable $99 for Oculus-blessed virtual reality.

Best Overall

Samsung Galaxy S7

See at Amazon   See at AT&T   See at Sprint  See at T-Mobile   See at Verizon

We have to pick the latest and greatest from Samsung for virtual reality. The Galaxy S7 launched alongside Samsung's first big Gear VR headset push, which features a responsive D-pad button on the unit, and a slightly wider field of view than Google Cardboard. The S7 itself comes with top of the line specifications, including a Snapdragon 820 processor and 4GB of RAM, as well as a substantial 3000 mAh battery.

Samsung has also been touting its Vulkan API graphics compatibility precisely because it'll make games run more smoothly, which should translate to virtual reality, too. And since it sports a smaller 5-inch Super AMOLED display with ridiculous 534ppi density, you'll have fewer opportunities to observe the "screen door effect" in VR.

Bottom line: If virtual reality is your main concern from your next smartphone, the Galaxy S7 is the one to consider.

One more thing: Samsung offers this phone in three colors, and they will all function the same in either version of the Gear VR.

Why the Galaxy S7 is the best

Big, beautiful, and well-equipped for virtual reality.

The Galaxy S7 is the best precisely because it's fully equipped to deal with all that virtual reality requires: a powerful processor, a capable graphics processor, and enough memory to handle rendering the visuals on screen. It's also worth nothing that Samsung's offers the most established virtual reality ecosystem at the moment. The company has been actively commissioning interactive games and video content for the Gear VR over the years, and it's been pushing headsets as add-ons with every new device launch. The Gear VR will surely be around for a while, and if you're already a Samsung user, it's a great way to become acquainted with virtual reality.

Best battery life

Samsung Galaxy S7 edge

See at AT&T See at Sprint See at T-Mobile See at Verizon See at Amazon

You need a VR machine that can keep you in the zone for a long time. The Galaxy S7 edge's 3600 mAh battery is about two percent larger than the Note 7's, but it lasts that much longer. Every little bit counts when you're in a virtual reality.

Inside, the Galaxy S7 Edge is essentially the same hardware as the rest of the Galaxy family of smartphones that have launched this year. It also offers a beautiful 5.5-inch Super AMOLED display and powerful processor.

Bottom line: It's bigger than the Galaxy S7, but the curved display may have some unintended negative consequences in some VR experiences.

One more thing: The Galaxy S7 edge works with the second-gen Gear VR headset, too!

Best Daydream phone

Google Pixel/Pixel XL

See at Google See at Verizon

We certainly couldn't ignore the fact that Google's Pixel and Pixel XL smartphones are the next big thing to happen to virtual reality. With its launch came the arrival of Daydream, Google's next step into virtual reality. Daydream is a comfortable alternative to Samsung's Gear VR. It's easy to set up, light to wear, and comes in an array of neat colors. You can read more about it here.

The only real downside to using Daydream View right now is a limited number of apps and games. This is a platform Google will work hard to grow over the next couple of months, but for now it's a limitation that isn't found elsewhere.

Bottom line: Daydream has the potential to be the best VR platform powered by a phone once there are more apps and games available. If you're using VR potential as a barometer for your next phone choice, the Pixel XL should eventually offer you quite a bit.

One more thing: Daydream View comes with the only controller you'll ever need in order to enjoy every experience.

Best Overall

Samsung Galaxy S7

See at Amazon   See at AT&T   See at Sprint  See at T-Mobile   See at Verizon

We have to pick the latest and greatest from Samsung for virtual reality. The Galaxy S7 launched alongside Samsung's first big Gear VR headset push, which features a responsive D-pad button on the unit, and a slightly wider field of view than Google Cardboard. The S7 itself comes with top of the line specifications, including a Snapdragon 820 processor and 4GB of RAM, as well as a substantial 3000 mAh battery.

Samsung has also been touting its Vulkan API graphics compatibility precisely because it'll make games run more smoothly, which should translate to virtual reality, too. And since it sports a smaller 5.5-inch Super AMOLED display with ridiculous 534ppi density, you'll have fewer opportunities to observe the "screen door effect" in VR.

Bottom line: If virtual reality is your main concern from your next smartphone, the Galaxy S7 is the one to consider.

One more thing: Samsung offers this phone in three colors, and they will all function the same in either version of the Gear VR.

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2 months ago

OnePlus 3T is coming to O2 UK — just weeks after its predecessor

4
OnePlus 3

UK carrier partnership to continue with new, upgraded OnePlus 3T model.

OnePlus and O2 made waves with their partnership to bring the OnePlus 3 to British store shelves, including the option to buy on contract. And it looks like the partnership will continue with the OnePlus 3T, as the carrier has confirmed that it'll "exclusively" range the mid-cycle refresh from OnePlus.

Pre-orders begin November 17 ahead of the November 28 street date. OnePlus fans will also be able to get the phone early at a pop-up event O2 will be hosting in London. The event at will kick off at 3:02pm next Thursday, 24 November at O2's 134 Oxford Street store.

Tariffs for the 64GB version include £31 per month for 500 minutes, unlimited texts and 500MB of data, and £42 per month for unlimited minutes, unlimited texts and 5GB of data. Both tariffs come with a £9.99 upfront payment. The 64GB version will also be available for a one off payment of £417.99.

Tariffs for the 128GB version include £33 per month for 500 minutes, unlimited texts and 500MB of data, and £44 per month for unlimited minutes, unlimited texts and 5GB of data. Both tariffs come with no upfront payment. The 128GB version will also be available for a one off payment of £456.

O2's pricing has always tracked slightly higher than OnePlus's, so the above pricing isn't too surprising. That said, it pushes OnePlus's latest offering closer to traditional high-end phone pricing than ever before.

It's unclear whether the OnePlus 3T will completely replace the OnePlus 3 on O2 store shelves — the timing of the 3T launch has it coming to O2 stores less than two months after its predecessor first went on sale through the network.

The OnePlus 3T brings a few important spec bumps to the table, including a Snapdragon 821 processor, a bigger 3,400mAh battery and a 16-megapixel selfie camera. Bought direct from OnePlus, it sells for £70 more than the regular OnePlus 3, at £399.

See at O2

OnePlus 3T and OnePlus 3

OnePlus Amazon

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2 months ago

No, Samsung probably isn't going to sell refurbished Note 7s in 2017

46
Galaxy Note 7

Resurfaced report claiming Samsung will sell refurbed versions of exploding handset actually dates back to September.

Are you ready for a bizarre footnote in the Galaxy Note 7 saga? First picked up by SamMobile and attributed to Korean outlet The Investor (which has made its name in recent weeks with some questionable Galaxy S8 rumors), the story goes that notoriously fire-prone handset might go on sale again in 2017 — at least in emerging markets like India and Vietnam.

[Samsung] is expected to sell the refurbished products of its handset from next year, according to sources. "Samsung has not made a final decision yet, but it will likely sell the refurbished Note 7 units next year," an industry source said. The source anticipated the refurbished handsets will be mostly sold in emerging markets such as India and Vietnam where low-end and mid-range smartphones are popular.

Except that probably won't happen. The story has been picked up by multiple outlets in recent days, however the original source is a report dated September 26, a few weeks before the Note 7 was killed off for good. Back when the original story was published — with supposedly "safe" Note 7s being sent out to consumers under the recall program — it was absolutely realistic that Samsung might want to replace the internals of the old "unsafe" models and sell them on as refurbs. Right now, after a second recall and subsequent cancellation? No way.

As it stands, there's no such thing as a "safe" Note 7, and a full-page ad run in U.S. newspapers last week suggested the company was still investigating what was making the phones go boom.

So the Note 7 is still dead, and probably isn't ever going back on sale. All the standard arguments against a return for the product still apply. The Note 7 is a joke, and its brand is terminally damaged. Samsung is surely hoping to just sweep the whole thing under some kind of giant, fire-retardant rug at this point, and instead focus on the Galaxy S8.

Update: Samsung declined to comment on the report, saying it doesn't comment on rumor or speculation. We've also updated this article to clarify that the original source dates back to late September.

Samsung Galaxy Note 7

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2 months ago

OnePlus 3T is official: Mid-cycle bump adds new processor, bigger battery and $40 to price

104
OnePlus 3T

Less than 6 months after launch, the OnePlus 3 gets a refresh with new specs and a higher price.

OnePlus has really led the charge in the popularity of high-end phones being sold at a mid-range price, and it's doing something interesting with the mid-cycle refresh of its latest flagship the OnePlus 3. The new model is simply called the OnePlus 3T, and it brings some new internal specs, a fresh color option and new software to what is already regarded as one of the best phones you can buy for just $400.

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2 months ago

OnePlus 3T vs. OnePlus 3: What's the difference?

29
OnePlus 3

Here are the differences between the original OnePlus 3 and its mid-cycle replacement.

To lay it down from the start: not much has changed from the five-month-old OnePlus 3 to the new OnePlus 3T. Externally, things are identical between the two aside from a new color option. Internally is where you'll find the subtle (yet important) changes, though most of the internal specs remain unchanged as well.

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2 months ago

OnePlus 3T specs: Snapdragon 821, 3400 mAh battery and 128GB storage option

16
OnePlus 3T

From the outside, things look dead identical to the original OnePlus 3 — so it's what's on the inside that counts.

For this mid-cycle refresh, OnePlus has focused on bumping the specs and adding a few extra hardware features to the OnePlus 3T. The core of the experience in terms of external hardware, display and main camera components remain unchanged. But internally we have some new additions with a better processor, new front camera, 128GB storage option and a larger battery.

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2 months ago

Huawei Mate 9 Pro is a Porsche Design Mate 9 without the Porsche branding

17
Huawei Mate 9 Pro

No word on any release outside of China for now.

Huawei has announced a third variant of its new Mate 9 for its home market of China, following the announcement of the regular Mate 9 and its pricey Porsche Design-branded sibling. As Gizchina reports, the Huawei Mate 9 Pro is basically a Porsche Design Mate 9 without the Porsche branding and sleek black paint job. And there are a few internal hardware tweaks, too.

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2 months ago

OnePlus 3T: Play this neat flying game while you wait for the new phone

7
OnePlus 3T game

Collect blue things. Avoid red things.

The OnePlus 3T is due to be unveiled today, bringing an expected upgrade to a Snapdragon 821 processor, among other rumored hardware upgrades. That's has led some impatient fans to start probing OnePlus's web servers for early clues about what to expect.

Turns out if you hit up oneplus.net/oneplus-3t or oneplus.net/3t, you're treated to.... not an unannounced smartphone, but a fun little flying game to keep you occupied until all is revealed. Take to the skies in your stylized polygonal airplane, collecting blue blobs and avoiding red ones. Basically, it's a neat little endless runner that you can play with a mouse, trackpad or touchscreen.

It's not clear whether there's any reward for high scores. (There's no scoreboard that we can see.) Either way, there shouldn't be too long left before we find out what's next from OnePlus. A tweet posted around six hours hints at an announcement around 1 p.m. ET.

Be sure to hit the comments and let us know how far you get in the game!

OnePlus 3T and OnePlus 3

OnePlus Amazon

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2 months ago

ZTE Axon 7 Mini review: Smaller, but not as quick

45

A shiny little smartphone package that's almost a better deal than its sibling.

Remember small phones? The kind that easily fit into your pocket, a small clutch purse, or even your car's cup holder? Compact devices are making a comeback and ZTE is one of those companies that's latching on to the trend.

The Axon 7 Mini is indeed a shrunken-down version of its larger, 5.5-inch counterpart, the Axon 7 — and that's precisely what makes it such a good deal. You're getting the same svelte, aluminum unibody hardware, in addition to stereo speakers, solid mid-range specifications, and a camera that's pretty decent in favorable lighting conditions for $100 less than its older sibling. But the Axon 7 Mini would have been a better deal if its software didn't require so much editing.

The bottom line

The ZTE Axon 7 Mini is a capable, compact little package that's a worthy consideration at its $300 starting price point. But be forewarned that its software could become a force to reckon with over time.

The Good

  • Solid, stylish build
  • Packs more into its pricepoint than other manufactuters
  • It's a small phone!

The Bad

  • Software is packed with gimmicks galore
  • Camera struggles in low light environments
  • Not all apps will play nice with its mid-range processor
Width Height Thickness 5.81
147.5 mm
2.80 in
71mm
0.31 in
7.8mm
  • Display:
    • 5.2-inch Full HD
    • AMOLED Display
    • 1080x1920 resolution (423ppi)
  • Camera:
    • 16MP, ƒ/1.9 lens, PDAF
    • 8MP front camera, ƒ/2.2 lens, 1080p
  • Battery:
    • 2705 mAh capacity
    • Quick Charge 2.0
  • Chips:
    • Qualcomm Snapdragon 617 processor
    • Octa-core 1.5GHz
    • 3GB RAM
    • 32GB internal storage
    • microSD slot with adoptable storage

About this review

I (Florence Ion) am reviewing the ZTE Axon 7 Mini after spending a week with it on AT&T's network in the San Francisco Bay Area. The phone is running Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow under ZTE's MiFavor UI 4.0. It did not receive software updates during my testing period.

ZTE Axon 7 Mini Hardware

One of the biggest complaints I hear is that smartphones these days are "just too big." That's all gradually changing, however, as more manufacturers concede to the fact that consumers like to have a choice. In this case, you can choose between ZTE's larger, supercharged Axon 7 smartphone, or the similarly-styled, mid-range Axon 7 Mini that's a bit more pocketable.

The Axon 7 Mini's aluminum gold chassis is hot. It's striking. And the Mini's futurustic style makes you feel like you're carrying a device worth more than its price tag. The Mini's patterned and perforated speaker grilles also give it a cool edge and you'll notice that each speaker feels velvety to the touch. It's a nice contrast against the device's smooth back plate. And if you're just not that keen on gold, the Axon 7 Mini comes in silver, too.

One bummer of wielding a smaller device is that you're oftentimes compromising on the display size, but not so with the Axon 7 Mini. ZTE clearly whittled down as much as it could of the chassis around the Mini's 5.2-inch 1080p AMOLED display. There's almost no bezel on either side.

Using this phone gave me nostalgia for the smaller phones I used to wield simply because the Axon 7 Mini is easier to accommodate. I don't usually have this much luck with the Pixel XL, for instance; I have to choose a bag very carefully to accommodate its extra bulk, and I'm usually doing finger acrobatics to hold on to it, my car keys, and my wallet at the same time. By contrast, the Axon 7 Mini can be operated one-handed, and you won't feel like you're reaching across a scorching desert as you're extending an index finger along the back of the phone towards the rear-facing fingerprint sensor.

The Axon 7 Mini can be operated one-handed, and you won't feel like you're reaching across a scorching desert to access its fingerprint sensor.

The Axon 7 Mini makes me a little nervous with its protruding optics. I don't mind the center placement of the lens, but having it stick out so much that even the clear plastic case included in its box doesn't shield it makes it seem as if this were an overlooked design decision. I like the lens to be flat on the backside so that when you put on a case, there's a bit of buffer between the ground and the camera.

Casual games like Lumines run fine on the device's mid-range Qualcomm Snapdragon 617 processor and 3GB of RAM. But expect to encounter the occasional slow down. I experienced a few of my own with apps like Snapchat and Hulu. There were also a few instances where apps like PCMark crashed seemingly for no apparent reason. I'll be curious to see what ZTE's MiFavor UI 4.0 runs like six months from now, which is typically when systems start to exhibit slowdown. For now, expect relatively speedy performance as long as you're limiting your usage to two tasks at a time.

I'll be curious to see what ZTE's MiFavor UI 4.0 runs like six months from now.

Lastly, everyone's favorite topic: Battery life. I kept the Axon 7 Mini for about three days on standby and it reminded me of one of those demon-possessed porcelain dolls — it just wouldn't die! The Mini told a different story under duress, however. I left it on overnight for a PCMark battery rundown benchmark and its 2705 mAh battery lasted just under five hours with the screen set to 200 nits. It's the best battery performance we've seen in a while from a phone this price. ZTE also includes a QuickCharge 2.0 charger in the box. In my testing, it managed to replenish close to 40 percent in about 45 minutes. It's not as fast as what some flagships offer with QuickCharge 3.0, but ZTE had to cut costs somewhere.

ZTE Axon 7 Mini Software

ZTE's interpretation of Android is the second-least offensive of the Chinese OEMs. MiFavor UI 4.0 retains the app drawer and sports Marshmallow's icon style, but it's not nearly the same experience as using a phone built by a Google. Its extra features are polarizing, too. For instance, while I appreciate the ability to review a screenshot before saving it, I absolutely abhor the little arrow that lives the navigation bar — this exists solely so that you can hide it if the app you're using won't hide it for you, but it was more of a nuisance than a helping hand.

There's also the Mi-Pop virtual navigation keys, which act like a chat head and don't disappear when you're playing a game. They're exhausting to learn to use and frankly not needed considering the Axon 7 Mini's compact screen size.

app drawerHome screen.Notification shade.Silly voice commands.

MiFavor UI is not a bad rendition of Android, but I wish ZTE would have taken a hint from the OnePlus method.

And then there are the experimental features, like the app that lets you control the Axon 7 Mini with just your voice. It's not the best feature addition, considering it barely works half the time, and you're better off just using Google Now.

MiFavor UI is not a bad rendition of Android. But I wish that ZTE would have taken a hint from the OnePlus method. At the very least, MiFavor UI is much more palatable than Huawei's EMUI.

axon 7 mini rear view

ZTE Axon 7 Mini Cameras

The Axon 7 Mini is equipped with a 16-megapixel rear-facing camera. It boasts an aperture of f/1.9, digital image stabilization, touch to focus, face detection, and instant exposure control, which shows up as a slider option in the viewfinder. Basically the same specs as its larger counterpart.

The Mini's camera is not always particularly fast. I went for a walk with just the phone in my hand to snap photos of the sunset and while I liked the color composition of the photos I captured, I was saddened when I got home and realized that many of the snaps were either blurry or out of the focus. That lack of optical image stabilization can be a bit of a bummer in varying light conditions. Any of the photos that were in focus weren't particularly sharp, either.

The Axon 7 Mini is also quite sensitive to lighting, which is why it's so prone to producing blurry photos. If you use the tap-to-focus functionality, the photo will tend to expose to the area you've tapped rather than the entire scene. As exhibited in the first photo in the gallery below, this can be problematic in outdoor environments.

If you look at the last picture in the gallery above, you'll see I shot the last photo with one of the Axon 7 Mini's extra camera features, referred to as "Super Night Mode." It's helpful, but there's a bit of a learning curve. I would have appreciated if Super Night Mode popped up with an alert, for instance, to consider using a tripod so that I could take better night shots. Instead, I came out with a blurry photo. The rest of the Axon 7 Mini's extra camera features would also benefit from this kind handholding, if only to get new users into the groove.

On the plus side, the Axon 7 Mini's manual mode is pretty robust. It has all the same controls as Samsung and LG's flagships and you can set the shutter open for up to seven seconds. However, there is no ability to shoot in RAW, so don't expect to become a professional smartphone photographer with this kit in hand.

The Axon 7 Mini is pretty decent at video stabilization. The only shakiness I experienced was from my own terrible camera work. Regardless, while the Mini doesn't record as smoothly as the Google Pixel, it's substantial enough for pointing-and-recording. I also appreciated that I didn't have to touch the screen to maintain focus while recording, though you will notice a bit of blur in between scenes as the Mini constantly attempts to adjust the focus, especially in low-light environments.

I am feeling this selfie cam.

As for selfies, you'll do fine with the Axon 7 Mini in your hand. Its 8-megapixel front-facing camera is capable in well-lit environments, and its f/2.2 aperture ensures that you can still snap a headshot when the lights are down low. I also appreciate that ZTE's beautify mode isn't as alien-like as LG and Samsung's.

ZTE Axon 7 Mini Odds and Ends

For a smaller smartphone starting at $300, the Axon 7 Mini is pretty well-equipped. In addition to the features covered here, the Mini also has an expansion slot for a microSD card that doubles as a SIM tray for when you're overseas. Additionally, it sports a USB Type-C port, which is quickly becoming the standard for Android devices across the board. There's also a generous 32GB of storage inside, which is double what you normally find in a phone this price.

ZTE has bundled in a plethora of audio features, including a chip for Hi-Fi Recording, as well as dual noise-suppression microphones. Its Dolby-made dual speakers are also pretty impressive for jamming out to Spotify tunes, though you'll quickly hear its limitations the louder you go.

Should you Buy it? Sure

The Axon 7 Mini made an impression not because of its smaller size, but because of how much polish ZTE put into it. You'll sense it the minute you take it out of its box. Inside, it's nestled neatly by ample padding, protected as if it were a high-end flagship device. The trick is that even though it looks like one and boasts some of the same features, it doesn't nearly cost as much. At $300, you're getting a mix of high-end features paired with mid-range specifications in a stylish, compact little package. If you're looking for a deal, the Axon 7 Mini is it.

See at Amazon

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2 months ago

Galaxy S8: Samsung reportedly considering pressure-sensitive display, because of course they are

59
Galaxy S7 edge

But the technology isn't the hard part — developer support is.

Just like last year, the rumor mill is churning over the possibility of Samsung including a pressure-sensitive display (like Apple's 3D Touch) in its upcoming flagship phone. This time the source of the speculation is Korean outlet The Investor, which has been coughing up Galaxy S8 rumors for the past couple of weeks, citing "multiple industry sources."

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2 months ago

Euro HTC 10 rumored for Nougat update in the next month

12

Late November or early December launch, according to tipster.

This one's firmly a rumor for the moment, but it comes via a usually reliable source. Twitter's @LlabTooFeR, who has a solid track record with HTC leaks, says the European variant of the HTC 10, is looking like it'll get Android 7.0 Nougat around the end of November, or early December.

That's broadly in line with the Q4 2016 window given by HTC for unlocked models. As always, carrier variants will almost certainly take longer to receive the update — possibly slipping into early 2017.

We already got a look at HTC Sense + Android 7.0 in the Sprint-exclusive HTC Bolt, announced in the past week.

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