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3 weeks ago

Everything you need to know about the Galaxy S8's cameras

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The 12-megapixel 'Dual Pixel' rear-facing camera is back and paired with a better front-facing camera and a tweaked camera interface.

Samsung doesn't seem to be making too much of a spectacle of the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+'s main camera, and that's likely because it hasn't changed the hardware. The flagship duo come equipped with the same camera hardware as their predecessors: a 12-megapixel "Dual Pixel" sensor that was often heralded as the best before the Google Pixel.

But regardless of the reprise, there are some new camera features to check out in Samsung's new smartphones. Let's take a look at the new additions, including new photo processing, a better front-facing camera, Snapchat-like features, and a slightly tweaked camera interface that makes it easier to multitask between camera modes.

Rear camera

gs8

The Galaxy S8 and S8+ feature a 12-megapixel "Dual Pixel" rear-facing camera with a f/1.7 lens, which is similar to the Galaxy S7, though it's not the same image sensor. It's equipped with OIS (optical image stabilization) and PDAF (phase-detect auto focus), as well as auto HDR and a manual mode that enables you to shoot in RAW.

There are no new camera modes.

There are no new camera modes to the Galaxy S8, but you'll see all the usual suspects in the interface, including a Panorama mode, Selective focus mode (akin to the iPhone 7's Portrait mode), and Hyperlapse mode. The same live colored filters made popular in older Samsung phones are included here, too, and there's also a new feature that brings Snapchat-like augmented reality filters to the viewfinder. You can use them as you're recording video or while snapping photos. I'm not sure if the filters will work with multiple people in the shot (like some of Snapchat's filters do), but they did work on Mr. Mobile.

A few snapshots of the Galaxy S8's camera interface.

The camera app interface also remains relatively unchanged. It's simple to use; a quick swipe to the left starts up the video recording mode, and a swipe to the right brings you to the different camera modes. There is a slight tweak this time around in that you can slide the shutter key up and down to digitally zoom — way quicker than pinching on the viewfinder to zoom.

We obviously haven't used the camera in any sort of extended period where we can evaluate its quality, but this will, of course, be the biggest question: How much has Samsung improved its software to make a step up over last year's quality? Though the Galaxy S7's camera was really good, in this industry if you're standing still you're falling behind — new camera firmware and improved processing from the new ISP (image signal processor) should improve things, but we don't know how much yet.

Front camera

You can use the silly Snapchat-like features here, too.

The Galaxy S8 and S8+'s front-facing camera is a complete revamp: 8 megapixels with auto focus and an f/1.7 lens. You'll get decent low light photos just as you would with the rear-facing camera, and the Galaxy S8 will have a simpler time attempting to keep your face in focus — most phones today, even in the high end, still don't have auto focus on the front-facer. You can use the silly Snapchat-like features here, too, and there is a beauty mode that buffs out your imperfections and makes you look like the freshly airbrushed model you wish you could be. The filter also works on your friends in group selfies.

There's so much more to the Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+ than just its cameras. Be sure to read our full rundown of the devices and breakdowns of the various features from Samsung's latest flagship family!

Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+

Verizon AT&T T-Mobile Sprint

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3 weeks ago

Five things the Galaxy S8 does better than the LG G6

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LG G6 vs Galaxy S8

The Galaxy S8 is a good deal more expensive than the LG G6. Here are five things that (sorta) justify the cost...

Samsung and LG's Android flagships, the G6 and Galaxy S8 are set to go head-to-head in the coming weeks, in what'll be one of the biggest Android rivalries of the year. This year, both manufacturers are targeting slightly different price points for their high-end offerings, with the G6 selling for $100 (or more, depending on your carrier) less than the GS8.

So what does Samsung bring to the table to (potentially) justify that extra cash? Let's take a look...

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3 weeks ago

LG G6 review: A return to form

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LG G6

After years of chasing gimmicks, LG decides to just make a good phone.

The quick take

The quick take: LG achieves its goal of packing a balanced, powerful Android experience into a more hand-friendly form factor. But it remains to be seen whether the G6 is a true "flagship" to compete with the upcoming Galaxy S8. The LG G6's success (or otherwise) will depend on its price tag, and how the competition measures up.

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3 weeks ago

LG G6 now available: Here's everything you need to know!

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The LG G6 is one of the most exciting phones of the year, and a good introduction to flagship season 2017! Should you buy it or wait for the Galaxy S8?

It's April 7, and that means the LG G6 is now available to buy in the U.S. and Canada (though carriers have been shipping them to some lucky pre-orderers for a couple of weeks now). Choosing to buy a new phone is a tough decision, but choosing to buy the LG G6 when the Samsung Galaxy S8 is on the horizon — it comes out in two weeks — makes the choice that much harder.

If you're in the market for a new phone, and are considering the LG G6, here are some things you need to know.

It's got a big screen, but feels really compact

The LG G6 is the first of likely many phones with a non-standard screen aspect ratio. Specifically, its 2:1 (or 18:9, for a more standard comparison) screen makes it considerably taller than most phones out there today, but coupled with the near-elimination of bezels around the bright, beautiful IPS display, it's one hand-friendly.

The screen really is beautiful. Contrast is great for an IPS display, an area where Samsung's AMOLED panels traditionally take the lead, and colors are punchy and accurate. Indeed, LG's 2880x1440 pixel screen is Dolby Vision HDR certified, as well as HDR 10 certified, two competing standards that, with the help of Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Vudu and others will make it much more pleasant to watch video content on a relatively small phone screen.

How the LG G6 was made

It's got wireless charging, but only in the U.S. and Canada

For some reason, LG decided to keep one of its best features, wireless charging, limited to the North American market. It's not a huge deal — most people rely on Quick Charge wired charging through the USB-C port — but it's strange nonetheless. Still, the phone's 3,300mAh battery may need a top-up, wired or wireless, once or twice throughout the day, as we've found the phone to have less-than-stellar uptime compared to phones like the Pixel XL.

These LG G6 features are limited to some regions

Its two cameras are wonderful and creative

Like the G5 and V20, the LG G6 has two cameras on the back, each 13MP in resolution but with differing focal lengths that transition seamlessly using toggles in the simple-yet-powerful camera app.

We've spent some time playing with G6's optics, and while the regular, optically-stabilized is great indoors and out, it's the wide-angle sensor that we've grown to love, especially when taking landscape photos that capture the whole field of view.

LG's also got some really fun camera modes that take advantage of its symmetrical screen, which can be divided into two perfect squares. You may not want to use the word 'twofie', but the phone can take two square photos at the same time using the front and back cameras.

Only the Korean unit gets the Quad DAC

One of our favorite features from the LG V20, the Quad DAC that makes music incredibly inviting, full and sonorous, is not coming to the North American or European models of the G6. Citing higher costs, LG says that there just isn't a big market for audiophile components in smartphones — but that doesn't exactly assuage our frustrations.

Get a microSD card, because the storage won't last

Another strange decision, especially in light of the Galaxy S8 coming with 64GB of storage by default — the North American and European LG G6 only comes with 32GB of internal storage, with no option to buy a higher-capacity model. Sure, 32GB should be fine for most people, but it won't last forever, which is why we recommend you buy a big, spacious microSD card for it.

Don't buy an LG G6 without a microSD card

The launcher is still pretty terrible

We like the software on the G6 — it's LG's most restrained take on Android to date, and there's very little to complain about. But the launcher, which eschews the app drawer and adds ugly borders around all homescreen icons, is pretty bad.

Our recommendation? Download Nova Launcher, Action Launcher, Evie Launcher, or something that resembles the opposite of whatever LG is thinking.

Those colors are gorgeous

Black or platinum — doesn't matter. Both colors are really, really nice, and they shimmer and reflect light in their own unique ways. I haven't been a big fan of the generic silver that seems to ship with every phone these days, but LG's take on it, called Platinum, is really something else altogether. And then there's the shiny, fingerprint-friendly black color, which I've been using. I love it; as long as you keep it clean, it's one of the crispest-looking phones I've ever had in my pocket.

There's also a white variant, but it's not coming to the U.S.

Which color LG G6 should you buy?

It's a really solid phone

Honestly, the LG G6 doesn't do anything badly. It's well-designed, gorgeously-engineered, and comes off as a mature, reliable piece of equipment. As MrMobile said in his review, it wears its chunkiness on its sleeve, not trying to hide its metal frame with sloping glass. As a result, it may feel a bit squat next to the Galaxy S8, but I've grown to really love that solidity, both in my hand and my pocket.

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donm527 04-02-2017 12:07 PM “

The LG G6 has clean strong lines and thick frame leans on the industrial side. Bezels down to a minimum and screen framed with the right amount of chin. Silver has a business classy look to me while the murdered out black reminds me of my LG G2 days and very nice too. You say the S8 UI looks clean but can't understand how you can say that compared to the G6. The G6 would be closer to stock...

Reply

It's waterproof, drop-resistant, and covered in glass, just like the Galaxy S8. And while it lacks this year's Snapdragon 835 platform, I've yet to worry about its performance, since the Snapdragon 821 — which powers the Pixel and Pixel XL — is still so good, and feels so new.

The bottom-firing speaker is good, the headphone quality is great, as is the call quality and LTE reception. I had some trouble connecting to one particular LG Bluetooth speaker, and the Bluetooth volume was unexpectedly low on another speaker, but that's the extent of the bugs I've found so far.

It's around $100 cheaper than the Galaxy S8

So here we come to the final decision. At between $650 and $700, depending on the carrier, the LG G6 is around $100 cheaper than the Galaxy S8. That's a lot of money to save on a phone that's better in some ways (it's much easier to pick up off a table, and the fingerprint sensor placement is so much better) and nearly as good in others.

If you've made up your mind, you can learn everything you need to know about the phone in our forums!

Then you can figure out which carrier to buy it from.

Where to buy the LG G6 in the U.S.

LG G6

Verizon Sprint T-Mobile AT&T B&H

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3 weeks ago

Where to buy the LG G6 in the U.S.

76
LG G6

You can now buy the LG G6 in the U.S.

One of our favorite phones of 2017 so far is now available on American shores. The big four U.S. carriers have started selling the LG G6, and all are offering a free Google Home, courtesy of LG, if you order your G6 before April 30.

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3 weeks ago

Limited edition Galaxy S8 Asiana Airlines version can be bought with miles

0

Koreans can use airline miles to bag a cheaper GS8 — as long as they don't mind a bit of extra branding.

For a limited time, Asiana Airlines passengers will be able to purchase a limited edition Samsung Galaxy S8 or S8+ using airline miles. The promotion, which follows a similar deal for last year's Galaxy S7 series, offers Samsung's new phones at a discount with 30,000 mileage points.

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3 weeks ago

Samsung Galaxy C7 Pro lands in India with 16MP front and rear cameras

5

Samsung is going after OPPO and Vivo with the Galaxy C7 Pro.

To create more of a differentiation between its Galaxy A series — which sits one tier below the flagship Galaxy S lineup — and the budget Galaxy J series, Samsung is rolling out the Galaxy C lineup. First unveiled in China earlier this year, the Galaxy C7 Pro has made its debut in India, and there's a lot to talk about.

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3 weeks ago

Where to buy the Huawei P10 + P10 Plus in the UK

10
Huawei P10

Huawei's latest flagship phone is available to pre-order in the UK!

The P10 is Huawei's best mainstream flagship yet, available in 5.1- and 5.5-inch flavors. It packs Huawei's latest Kirin 960 processor, up to 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage (in the P10 Plus), and the company's best Leica-branded camera yet. (Check out our review for more on what's great — and not so great — about the phones.)

The regular P10 is available across all major operators plus Carphone Warehouse, while the P10 Plus is offered across all but O2.

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3 weeks ago

Everything you need to know about Sprint's Unlimited Freedom plan

39

A complete breakdown of Sprint's Unlimited Freedom plan and everything else you can get when you sign up for service.

In the United States, there are a lot of companies that can get you and your phone online, but most people use one of the four biggest: AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon. Choosing between them can be difficult. Your first priority should be what service works best in the places you spend your time. It's not worth saving $10 a month if the service is bad. Once you have that sorted, you can look at what each company has to offer and the prices they charge for it.

More: Which unlimited plan should you buy?

Let's take a look at Sprint to see what they can give you and what it will cost.

Updated, April 2017: This post has been updated with the latest information about Sprint's plans and pricing.

Sprint Unlimited Freedom plan details

  • Unlimited talk, text, and data (with certain restrictions)
  • Unlimited data for streaming video up to 1080p
  • Unlimited data for gaming up to 8Mbps
  • Unlimited data for streaming music up to 1.5Mbps
  • 10GB high-speed mobile hotspot with VPN and P2P support
  • Add a tablet with unlimited data for $25 per month

Note: These features apply only to new accounts.

Sprint's definition of Unlimited Data means that after you use 23 GB in a single month, your service can be slowed down if you're in a congested area. You'll hear the word throttled used here but you need to know that it's only a temporary deprioritization of your data connection when you're in a busy area. It may not happen at all depending on how many other customers are using the same towers.

Buying a phone and getting exactly the data plan and extras you want is far easier on Sprint than every other company we've tried.

Sprint's Unlimited Freedom plan applies only to new customers who are also buying (outright purchases or financing) or leasing phones from Sprint at the time of purchase, and credit approval is required. There is an activation fee of up to $30 per line and the Unlimited Freedom Plan requires eBilling. Current customers can call 1-866-275-1411 with questions about changing their plan.

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Sprint offers a 14-day satisfaction guarantee and devices purchased on installments are subject to a $350 early termination fee.

Additional lines can be added to a Sprint Unlimited Freedom plan. Every line has the same benefits outlined above and requires an equipment purchase. Here is a pricing breakdown.

  • One line of service is $50
  • Two lines of service is $80
  • Three lines of service is $100
  • Four lines of service is $120

These prices are part of a limited promotion and are set to change on June 30, 2018. They also include the standard AutoPay discount ($5) the carrier uses to determine their advertised pricing.

Sprint Unlimited Freedom plan add-ons

Sprint's Unlimited Freedom plan is a no-frills option at a low price. There are few extras and add-ons available if you want international options or a few extra features.

  • Free Sprint Open World Winter Promo: Free calls, texts and high-speed data from Canada, Mexico and 25 other countries in Latin America until March 31, 2017
  • Mexico-Canada Plus: Unlimited calls and texts from the U.S. to Mexico and Canada, unlimited messaging to 180 countries and discounted international calling rates from the U.S. for $5 per month
  • Upgrade your phone every 12 months with a $5 monthly charge

Sprint also offers trials and discounts on some premium services for new customers. Spotify Premium has a 30-day trial available, as does Lookout and Sprint Family Locator. After the trial period, normal monthly rates apply.

Sprint also will offer "unlimited access to exclusive artist content not available anywhere else" now that the company has bought one-third of Tidal, though exact details on this aren't yet available.

See at Sprint

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3 weeks ago

Best Cases for LG V20

43

What are the best cases for the LG V20?

Update April 2017: These are still the best cases to get for your LG V20.

Life is full of unfortunate surprises, which is why you want to be prepared in case you drop your sparkling clean LG V20 onto the ground. Protect your new smartphone with one of these affordable insurance plans.

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3 weeks ago

Sprint is going all-in on unlimited and killing its 50%-off deal to boost revenue

26

Sprint is getting rid of its metered plans entirely as it moves to a single unlimited plan.

Sprint has announced its intention to get rid of its metered plans and go all-in on unlimited as it tries to find a balance between the intensely competitive U.S. wireless market and its own need to keep revenues high.

The company is ending its long-standing 50%-off deal, which offered up to four lines for $90 per month to new customers, and is instead settling on a more reasonable, but still lower-than-T-Mobile pricing structure that starts at $50 per month for one line.

The change actually makes it cheaper than before to have two lines on the service — it's down to $80 from $90 — rising to $100 for three lines and $120 for four, a $20 to $40 discount over T-Mobile.

Sprint also claims to support unlimited HD video streaming unlike T-Mobile, but T-Mobile is currently promoting that feature, along with 10GB of high-speed LTE tethering, with its own unlimited plan for a limited time.

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The second way Sprint is using to sell its new unlimited plan is by advertising its spectrum allotment, which is higher than the rest of the U.S. carriers.

Sprint has more spectrum than any other carrier in the U.S. With holdings of more than 160MHz of 2.5GHz spectrum in the top 100 U.S. markets, Sprint has the right kind of high-band spectrum that is built for data and very fast speeds. This is a tremendous advantage, allowing Sprint to keep adding the capacity and speed needed to meet customers' increasing demand for data now and well into the future. Perfect for unlimited.

High-band spectrum, though, is much more difficult to use reliably on smartphones, and Sprint lacks the same coverage in the 700MHz spectrum, which puts it at a disadvantage next to Verizon and AT&T.

These unlimited prices are also only for a limited time — the price of a single line goes up to $60 on June 30, 2018 — and includes a $5 AutoPay discount.

Everything you need to know about Sprint's Unlimited plan

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3 weeks ago

Galaxy S8's Snapchat-like filters are the perfect tool for Instagram

10

You hate Snapchat. You wish you could get the funny effects without installing the app. This is the answer!

I see you: the Snapchat naysayers with the app icon secretly stashed at the back of the Home screen. You know you give yourself away if you post a filtered selfie to Instagram Stories, right?

Perhaps you should consider the Galaxy S8 as your next smartphone. It comes chock full of Snapchat-like filters already baked into the phone's native camera app, and they're just as much of a delight to use as the ones they imitate. Their inclusion is also a nice compromise for anyone who loves the idea of silly augmented reality camera effects but doesn't want to deal with Snapchat's often sluggish Android app.

Like the real thing

Galaxy S8 filters effects.

A sampling of the Galaxy S8's filter effects.

I had a chance to play around with the Galaxy S8's filter effects at a media briefing a few weeks back. They looked high definition in the view finder and seemed more responsive to subtle body movements, at least compared to my experience with Snapchat. Samsung's inherent facial recognition feature is likely the reason for why tracking felt so fast. Unfortunately, I didn't have a chance to test the effects with another person in the picture.

The Galaxy S8's built-in filters will be great for Instagram Stories users.

The Galaxy S8's built-in filters will be especially beneficial for Instagram users who don't typically have access to augmented reality effects for their Stories. They won't have to maintain a dual app life, either, and have to switch between using Snapchat, saving and exporting to the camera roll, and then importing back into Instagram. It's easier to do it all with the default camera app, which is also more user-friendly.

Interestingly, Snapchat users won't be reaping many benefits from the built-in filter effects on the Galaxy S8. Any photos or videos that are not produced with the Snapchat app fail to translate. The app has an extremely clunky import mechanism, likely to discourage others from using other apps, and thus, any media imported through the camera roll is published with an accosting white border around it.

Will the kids like it?

Snapchat has this reputation — and rightfully so — of being the young millennials app, which is why this feels like such an obvious ploy for the youths. But this could also turn out to be one of Samsung's smartest marketing ploys, particularly if the filters take off worldwide and the people using them are prolific on social media.

If the filters included with the Galaxy S8 were specially designed for Samsung's devices, that means that anyone posting content made with those filters is representing Samsung, in some capacity. It's in the same vein as Snapchat's puppy dog filter; when people see someone posting a picture with the puppy dog filter, they immediately associate with the Snapchat app.

This could turn out to be one of Samsung's smartest marketing ploys.

If this sort of thing catches on as a mainstream camera effect, much like how Instagram-like vintage photo filters are now bundled into most default camera apps, perhaps we should all look forward to a future abundant in augmented reality photo effects.

Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+

Verizon AT&T T-Mobile Sprint

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3 weeks ago

Nougat is rolling out to the Sprint Galaxy Note 5 and Galaxy S6 edge+

29

Nougat for 2015-era phones, thanks to Samsung and Sprint.

The 2015-era Galaxy Note 5 and Galaxy S6 edge+ are getting their Nougat updates on Sprint today. The phones, which are still in use by millions around the world, were promised an update to Android 7.0 back in January, and it's great to see Samsung (and its carrier partners) following through on their claim with relative haste.

The Galaxy Note 5 and Galaxy S6 edge+ benefit from the same simplification and lightening of the UI as its newer counterparts — though perhaps not to the same extent, if past years are any indication — along with the March security patch.

There's no word on when other variants of the Note 5 and GS6 edge+ will receive Nougat, but we'll keep an eye out.

Samsung Galaxy Note 5

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img { width: 100%; height: auto; } .devicebox ul { display: table; margin: 0 0 10px; width: 100%; } .devicebox ul li { background: #f7f7f7; margin: 2px 0; padding: 4px 15px; } .devicebox ul li:hover { background: #fff; } .devicebox ul li:before { display: none; } .devicebox p ~ p { line-height: 1.25; } .devicebox p:first-of-type + p { padding: 15px; } .devicebox a.buy-link { border-radius: 5px; display: inline-block; font: 14px/31px "Proxima Nova Extrabld",Helvetica,Arial,sans-serif; text-align: center; } .devicebox a.buy-link, .devicebox a.buy-link:link, .devicebox a.buy-link:active, .devicebox a.buy-link:visited { background: #37B5D7; color: #FFF; } .devicebox a.buy-link:hover { background: #2694B2; text-decoration: none; } .devicebox a.buy-link:before { content: "\e61e"; font: 40px/0 "ac_iconset" !important; margin: 0 3px 0 -8px; vertical-align: middle; } @media all and (min-width: 1025px), all and (max-width: 800px) and (min-width: 660px) { /* div:not(.columns-3) excludes help menu content */ .article-body-wrap > div:not(.columns-3) > *:first-child:not(.sticky-wrapper) .devicebox { padding: 20px 0 25px; } .article-body-wrap > div:not(.columns-3) > *:first-child:not(.sticky-wrapper) .devicebox .video { float: left; margin: 0 30px 0 0; width: calc(100% - 375px); } .article-body-wrap > div:not(.columns-3) > *:first-child:not(.sticky-wrapper) .devicebox h3 + p { bottom: 37px; display: block; overflow: hidden; position: absolute; top: 60px; width: calc(100% - 375px); } .article-body-wrap > div:not(.columns-3) > *:first-child:not(.sticky-wrapper) .devicebox p img, .article-body-wrap > div:not(.columns-3) > *:first-child:not(.sticky-wrapper) .devicebox p > img { position: absolute; top: 50%; transform: translateY(-50%); } .article-body-wrap > div:not(.columns-3) > *:first-child:not(.sticky-wrapper) .devicebox p:nth-child(n+3), .article-body-wrap > div:not(.columns-3) > *:first-child:not(.sticky-wrapper) .devicebox ul { box-sizing: border-box; margin-left: calc(100% - 345px); width: 340px; } .article-body-wrap > div:not(.columns-3) > *:first-child:not(.sticky-wrapper) .devicebox p.list-head { margin-top: -5px; } } @media all and (max-width: 1024px) and (min-width: 801px), all and (max-width: 660px) { .devicebox h3 { text-align: center; } .devicebox ul, .devicebox p { display: block; } } @media all and (max-width: 800px) and (min-width: 660px) { .devicebox { padding: 20px 0 25px; } .devicebox .video { float: left; margin: 0 30px 0 0; width: calc(100% - 375px); } .devicebox h3 + p { bottom: 37px; display: block; overflow: hidden; position: absolute; top: 60px; width: calc(100% - 375px); } .devicebox p img, .devicebox p > img { position: absolute; top: 50%; transform: translateY(-50%); } .devicebox p:nth-child(n+3), .devicebox ul { box-sizing: border-box; margin-left: calc(100% - 345px); width: 340px; } .devicebox p.list-head { margin-top: -5px; } } @media all and (min-width: 1025px), all and (max-width: 800px) and (min-width: 661px), all and (max-width: 500px) { /* 2x buy buttons */ .devicebox a.buy-link { width: calc(50% - 2.5px); margin: 0 5px 5px 0; } .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-of-type(even) { margin: 0 0 5px 0; } .devicebox a.buy-link:last-of-type:nth-of-type(odd) { width: 100%; } } @media all and (max-width: 1024px) and (min-width: 801px), all and (max-width: 659px) and (min-width: 501px) { /* 3x buy buttons */ .devicebox a.buy-link { width: calc(100%/3 - 10px/3); margin: 0 5px 5px 0; } .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-of-type(3n):not(:nth-last-of-type(2)) { margin: 0 0 5px 0; } .devicebox a.buy-link:only-child { width: 100%; margin: 0 0 5px 0; } .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-last-of-type(2):nth-of-type(3n+1), .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-last-of-type(2):nth-of-type(3n+1) ~ a.buy-link, .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-last-of-type(4):nth-of-type(3n+1), .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-last-of-type(4):nth-of-type(3n+1) ~ a.buy-link { width: calc(50% - 2.5px); } .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-last-of-type(2):nth-of-type(3n+1) ~ a.buy-link, .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-last-of-type(4):nth-of-type(3n+1) ~ a.buy-link:nth-last-of-type(odd) { margin: 0 0 5px 0; } } @media all and (max-width: 800px) { .devicebox { margin: 0 0 30px; max-width: none; width: auto; } } @media all and (max-width: 500px) { .devicebox { margin: 0 0 30px; max-width: none; width: auto; } .devicebox a.buy-link:before { display: none; } } .page-admin .devicebox {max-width: 350px;} .page-admin .devicebox .video_iframe {position: relative; height: 0; padding-bottom: 56.9%;} .page-admin .devicebox .video_iframe iframe {width: 100%; height: 100%; position: absolute;} /*-->*/ /*-->*/ /*-->*/

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3 weeks ago

OnePlus is doing everything right lately

112

The amazing story of OnePlus figuring out how to make great products people want.

A strange thing has happened between mid-2016 and today: OnePlus stopped screwing up.

The company that was notorious for poorly-considered marketing campaigns and forcing customers to wait months in virtual lines for new phones has improbably and wholeheartedly corrected course over the past nine months, turning into, at least from the outside, a well-run and confident machine. After releasing the OnePlus 3 in June of 2016 — a phone that our Andrew Martonik called "a downright great smartphone" — the company has begun manufacturing its phones in India to meet growing demand, expanded its profitable and surprisingly good accessories line, and ironed out its logistics enough to ship phones to order for the first time in its existence.

Then, in November, OnePlus surprised everyone by releasing an upgraded version of its then-five month-old flagship phone, and was among the first third-party manufacturers to release Android 7.1.1 only months after just hitting its target for a Nougat update.

A year ago...

OnePlus is hardly recognizable, in a good way.

A year ago, a list this breathless and expansive would have seemed impossible to anyone looking at how the company was being run. A mass exodus (or a planned consolidation, depending on who you speak to) of its software development team made apparent that the company was, at times, chasing its own tail, trying to decide how to best manage its explosive growth on a shoestring budget. But the company bore the criticism relatively well, admitting fault when necessary while doubling down on the core, early-adopter audience that gave it life back when it debuted in 2014.

Today, the company regularly releases software updates for both of its 3-series phones, and as I sit here with a newly-released Midnight Black OnePlus 3T running Android 7.1.1 Oxygen OS Open Beta 4, if you must know), I am simply floored at its uniformity, at how utterly cohesive and mature the thing feels, and how OnePlus managed to figure out how best to sell its products — that is, by doing simple and good better than any other smartphone manufacturer.

With release of the limited edition Midnight Black OnePlus 3T, it's clear the company's marketing machine is in rhythm with its product and logistics divisions, eking out as much goodwill and return business during the natural year-long product cycle before the whole thing begins again.

Midnight Black

Yes, it's merely an updated color of an existing phone, itself a minor refresh of an existing phone, but the Midnight Black OnePlus 3T is a really stunning piece of hardware. Moreover, after using it for a few days, it's hard to imagine OnePlus ever falling considerably behind the competition again in terms of industrial design or build quality, nor — despite my own public concerns — reverting to a poor state of Android software quality.

Indeed, the worst criticism one can level against OnePlus's software is that it too quickly abandons its aging product lineup — the OnePlus 2, released in 2015, isn't getting Nougat anytime soon — but the same can be said of Samsung, LG and many companies.

Using the OnePlus 3T is a joy; it just works. Performance is superb, and the latest beta (which will eventually roll out to all users) addresses the touch latency problems that were evident on early Nougat builds. And there are some subtle things that I really like: the haptic engine is tuned just perfectly to my taste, even at its default setting. Tapping away on the keyboard evinces the exact right feedback response. The front fingerprint sensor, which doubles as a home button if you want it to, is incredibly fast, as is launching the camera, which I have done dozens of times to use the excellent rear sensor.

Using the OnePlus 3T is a joy; it just works.

Of course, the 5.5-inch 1080p panel isn't the most accurate or brightest out there, and it's framed by large top and bottom bezels that, after using the LG G6 and Galaxy S8, make the phone seem oversized and awkward in one hand. I have no doubt OnePlus plans to address this — as do most manufacturers with any aspirations of greatness — with the 3T's successor, but the design will look increasingly dated as the year rolls on. Still, this is a good phone, mainly for the fundamentals. And for that black.

I've heard the term "murdered out" to describe the exact shade of black that has become increasingly common on phones like the Galaxy Note 7, Galaxy S7, and, now, the OnePlus 3T, and I think that's fair. This thing isn't pitch dark — it shimmers in the light — but it carries the smooth, aggressive confidence of a much more expensive product.

Come a long way

Being just a regular OnePlus 3T in a new shade is one thing; the other part of the equation is the beta build I'm running, which should be rolling out more widely in the coming weeks.

I feel like I could hand the OnePlus 3T to anyone and not worry about the learning curve.

Open Beta 4 is still based on Android 7.1.1, but adds some major improvements to the launcher, which is quickly becoming my favorite manufacturer skin around. It now has a Pixel Launcher-like app drawer, which you swipe up from the bottom which, combined with the widely-loved 'swipe-down-for-notifications' gesture, brings it as close to perfect as I would want. It also supports icon packs, and comes with two excellent ones pre-loaded — I highly recommend Dives if you aren't using a OnePlus 3/3T — that just keep everything looking fresh and clean.

Here's the thing: I feel like I can hand this phone to someone who has never used Android before and feel confident in his or her ability to just pick it up and get to know the operating system. OnePlus has its fair share of gimmicks hidden in the settings — why would you want to draw an 'O' to activate the camera when double-pressing the power button does the same thing much more intuitively — but they're few and far between, and don't distract from the first-on experience.

A year later

I didn't expect OnePlus to get to this point so quickly; I thought it had a couple more years of growing pains yet. But I'm incredibly encouraged by what I'm seeing, both from an end user and company culture perspective.

It appears to have found some much-needed equilibrium to balance out the frenetic momentum that kept it afloat until now. The fact that the Midnight Black OnePlus 3T is just $479, undercutting many other high-end Android phones by more than $200, further sweetens the pot. As Alex Dobie pointed out in this smart piece, it seems that OnePlus plans to depress its handset prices indefinitely, even if it takes a loss on the hardware, to further other aspects of the business.

[These peripherals, like bags and headphones], say a lot about the growth of OnePlus as a brand, and hints at how it might make the bulk of its profit further down the line. The company has admitted that it makes very little profit on sales of phones like the OnePlus One, 2 and 3. That's no surprise when you're shipping devices with cutting-edge specs around the $400 mark.

But look at the accessories and gear sections of OnePlus's store. It's packed with much higher-margin items like branded power banks, earbuds and chargers, not to mention bags and clothing. By ensuring every customer feels like they belong to the OnePlus family, they're more likely to fork out for more expensive accessories either at the point of purchase, or further down the line. (The 3T also has a OnePlus Community app preloaded, which plays into that strategy.)

The phones, the community, the exclusivity, fosters a user base that makes people want to invest further in the brand. That OnePlus is a much more coherent, self-assured company with a working logistics arm that ships phones on time to match its ambitious sales goals is a bonus, and one that puts it in good stead for 2017 and beyond.

See at OnePlus

OnePlus 3T and OnePlus 3

OnePlus Amazon

img { width: 100%; height: auto; } .devicebox ul { display: table; margin: 0 0 10px; width: 100%; } .devicebox ul li { background: #f7f7f7; margin: 2px 0; padding: 4px 15px; } .devicebox ul li:hover { background: #fff; } .devicebox ul li:before { display: none; } .devicebox p ~ p { line-height: 1.25; } .devicebox p:first-of-type + p { padding: 15px; } .devicebox a.buy-link { border-radius: 5px; display: inline-block; font: 14px/31px "Proxima Nova Extrabld",Helvetica,Arial,sans-serif; text-align: center; } .devicebox a.buy-link, .devicebox a.buy-link:link, .devicebox a.buy-link:active, .devicebox a.buy-link:visited { background: #37B5D7; color: #FFF; } .devicebox a.buy-link:hover { background: #2694B2; text-decoration: none; } .devicebox a.buy-link:before { content: "\e61e"; font: 40px/0 "ac_iconset" !important; margin: 0 3px 0 -8px; vertical-align: middle; } @media all and (min-width: 1025px), all and (max-width: 800px) and (min-width: 660px) { /* div:not(.columns-3) excludes help menu content */ .article-body-wrap > div:not(.columns-3) > *:first-child:not(.sticky-wrapper) .devicebox { padding: 20px 0 25px; } .article-body-wrap > div:not(.columns-3) > *:first-child:not(.sticky-wrapper) .devicebox .video { float: left; margin: 0 30px 0 0; width: calc(100% - 375px); } .article-body-wrap > div:not(.columns-3) > *:first-child:not(.sticky-wrapper) .devicebox h3 + p { bottom: 37px; display: block; overflow: hidden; position: absolute; top: 60px; width: calc(100% - 375px); } .article-body-wrap > div:not(.columns-3) > *:first-child:not(.sticky-wrapper) .devicebox p img, .article-body-wrap > div:not(.columns-3) > *:first-child:not(.sticky-wrapper) .devicebox p > img { position: absolute; top: 50%; transform: translateY(-50%); } .article-body-wrap > div:not(.columns-3) > *:first-child:not(.sticky-wrapper) .devicebox p:nth-child(n+3), .article-body-wrap > div:not(.columns-3) > *:first-child:not(.sticky-wrapper) .devicebox ul { box-sizing: border-box; margin-left: calc(100% - 345px); width: 340px; } .article-body-wrap > div:not(.columns-3) > *:first-child:not(.sticky-wrapper) .devicebox p.list-head { margin-top: -5px; } } @media all and (max-width: 1024px) and (min-width: 801px), all and (max-width: 660px) { .devicebox h3 { text-align: center; } .devicebox ul, .devicebox p { display: block; } } @media all and (max-width: 800px) and (min-width: 660px) { .devicebox { padding: 20px 0 25px; } .devicebox .video { float: left; margin: 0 30px 0 0; width: calc(100% - 375px); } .devicebox h3 + p { bottom: 37px; display: block; overflow: hidden; position: absolute; top: 60px; width: calc(100% - 375px); } .devicebox p img, .devicebox p > img { position: absolute; top: 50%; transform: translateY(-50%); } .devicebox p:nth-child(n+3), .devicebox ul { box-sizing: border-box; margin-left: calc(100% - 345px); width: 340px; } .devicebox p.list-head { margin-top: -5px; } } @media all and (min-width: 1025px), all and (max-width: 800px) and (min-width: 661px), all and (max-width: 500px) { /* 2x buy buttons */ .devicebox a.buy-link { width: calc(50% - 2.5px); margin: 0 5px 5px 0; } .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-of-type(even) { margin: 0 0 5px 0; } .devicebox a.buy-link:last-of-type:nth-of-type(odd) { width: 100%; } } @media all and (max-width: 1024px) and (min-width: 801px), all and (max-width: 659px) and (min-width: 501px) { /* 3x buy buttons */ .devicebox a.buy-link { width: calc(100%/3 - 10px/3); margin: 0 5px 5px 0; } .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-of-type(3n):not(:nth-last-of-type(2)) { margin: 0 0 5px 0; } .devicebox a.buy-link:only-child { width: 100%; margin: 0 0 5px 0; } .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-last-of-type(2):nth-of-type(3n+1), .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-last-of-type(2):nth-of-type(3n+1) ~ a.buy-link, .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-last-of-type(4):nth-of-type(3n+1), .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-last-of-type(4):nth-of-type(3n+1) ~ a.buy-link { width: calc(50% - 2.5px); } .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-last-of-type(2):nth-of-type(3n+1) ~ a.buy-link, .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-last-of-type(4):nth-of-type(3n+1) ~ a.buy-link:nth-last-of-type(odd) { margin: 0 0 5px 0; } } @media all and (max-width: 800px) { .devicebox { margin: 0 0 30px; max-width: none; width: auto; } } @media all and (max-width: 500px) { .devicebox { margin: 0 0 30px; max-width: none; width: auto; } .devicebox a.buy-link:before { display: none; } } .page-admin .devicebox {max-width: 350px;} .page-admin .devicebox .video_iframe {position: relative; height: 0; padding-bottom: 56.9%;} .page-admin .devicebox .video_iframe iframe {width: 100%; height: 100%; position: absolute;} /*-->*/ /*-->*/ /*-->*/

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3 weeks ago

Watch our Honor 8 Pro video review!

2

The 400 euro price point is where we've seen some of the most exciting phones of the past year, bringing about the rise of brands like OnePlus and Honor. 2016's Honor 8 was a decent bet for anyone wanting a lot of phone for not a lot of money — but in many ways it was still a mid-range phone.

So what would happen if you took the DNA of the Honor 8 and applied it to a bigger flagship-tier product. Well — you'd get this: the Honor 8 Pro.

In a lot of ways, the Honor 8 Pro takes every aspect of the Honor 8 and cranks it up a notch or two. It's bigger physically, with a larger, higher-res display. It's more powerful, thanks to Huawei's latest Kirin 960 chip. It's got a whopping 6 gigs of RAM, up from 4 in the Honor 8. And the base storage has been bumped to 64GB, plus microSD. And fuelling all that is an enormous 4,000mAh battery, matching the two-day battery life of the Huawei Mate 9 in a much more compact body.

This is clearly Honor's most high-end handset yet, so how does it measure up? Check out our video review for the verdict!

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