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1 month ago

Pixel 2 XL screen burn-in is real, Google working on software fixes to mitigate (update)

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Google Pixel 2 XL

This isn't a great sign.

Consternation surrounding the display in the Google Pixel 2 XL is well known at this point, and to be honest most of it has been pretty overblown. But we have something new to talk about now: screen burn-in. It's something people with OLED screens worry about (to varying degrees) and something people who prefer LCDs like to poke fun about. But one of our Pixel 2 XL review units, in use for about a week, is already seeing some pretty crazy levels of burn-in.

Viewing a grey image on the screen, you get a clear look at where the navigation bar has started to settle in on the display. You also interestingly see the portions of pixels where the back, home, and recents buttons go — those don't seem to be burned in themselves (displaying white instead of black), but the outlines clearly show where they are compared to the black portion that's burned in. Or that may be some optical trickery and the buttons are burned in. We're just not sure what we're seeing here.

So as a quick refresher, what is burn-in?

Screen burn-in happens when a portion of the display has the same imagery long enough to cause a ghost image of it to hang around after you change the screen to display something else. It's usually most noticeable in the notification shade or status bar (the clock is notorious for "burning in") but it can also happen with navigation buttons or even home screen icons. It's usually an issue with OLED panels and usually takes a good few months before it starts to show up.

When you change what's on your screen, leftover images can stay behind. But they shouldn't.

There's also a phenomenon called image retention. Image retention, or ghosting, is a part of the screen staying barely visible even after you've moved away and have something new on the display. Like burn-in, this usually happens with buttons or icons, but anything on your display can leave a ghost image if it's static and on long enough. Image retention is usually associated with LCD panels, and plenty of people with an LG G6 or LG V20 have noticed it. Thankfully, image retention is temporary and will go away on its own after a short time.

At first glance, what we see looks more like screen burn-in than image retention. While burn-in is more often associated with OLED and image retention is associated with LCD, there is crossover and you could see either issue on any type of display. As more reports come in and more people have examples to share the problem can hopefully be pinpointed.

How to check your screen

It can be difficult to see screen burn because we usually have so much information on our screens. Here's a quick test you can do to check your phone.

  • Open this article in a web browser on your phone.
  • Click and open each of these thumbnails and view the images full screen

  • Check the bottom of your screen where the navigation buttons normally appear and check the notifications areas (especially around the clock) for a faint "ghost" image of any screen elements that were left behind.

Screen burn, of either type, can be barely noticeable or it can be distinct and in your face. Using a black or red background is the best way to see it, but you still may need to look very closely.

What should you do?

This particular Pixel 2 XL, as we said, has only been in use for about a week — each day seeing about 3 hours of time with the screen on. We don't want to jump to the conclusion that this is indicative of how all Pixel 2 XL's will age, and we sure hope it that isn't the case. After tweeting out the image earlier today we started to get a few replies indicating that others were seeing the same type of burn-in after similar periods, though.

After reaching out to Google with our concerns, a spokesperson replied with the following statement, saying that the company is aware of the concerns surrounding this issue and is investigating it:

The Pixel 2 XL screen has been designed with an advanced POLED technology, including QHD+ resolution, wide color gamut, and high contrast ratio for natural and beautiful colors and renderings. We put all of our products through extensive quality testing before launch and in the manufacturing of every unit. We are actively investigating this report."

If you're seeing screen burn-in on a Pixel 2 XL (or any phone) after a week, or even just a month, of a regular use, you're going to be entitled to a warranty replacement from the manufacturer. As we saw with the 2016 Pixels, of which some experienced burn-in and screen issues early on, people were being granted posthaste warranty replacements.

What you shouldn't do is try any workarounds or apps from Google Play that promise to "fix" screen burn. Right now nobody even knows exactly what we're seeing, only that it's there. Hang tight and wait for more information before you make anything worse.

What Google wants to do to fix it

After a few days of investigating the problem, Google has come out with a response about the Pixel 2 XL's display. It's distinctly broken up into two pieces: one to address questions about the screen's colors, and another to talk about burn-in.

Google claims there's no major issue here — but it still has some fixes in the work.

On the first point, Google explains how it tuned the Pixel 2 XL's display to be more color accurate, following a DCI-P3 color gamut that focuses on being realistic with just a little extra pop. This compares to some other phones unfavorably, looking dull or washed out. To address this, Google plans to release a software update with a "saturated" screen mode that ups the colors — to what extent, we don't yet know. The Pixel 2 and 2 XL currently have a "vivid mode" for the screen, but the toggle doesn't seem to change much to our eyes.

Now, on the burn-in point — which is the problem that has really taken off. From the top, Google is at pains to explain that all OLED displays have some level of burn-in risk — and this is certainly backed up by history — so the only question is how fast the burn-in occurs, and how noticeable it is. Google claims that in its testing the Pixel 2 XL's burn-in and image retention issues are within the range of industry expectations,

Despite these claims, Google does plan to issue a set of software changes to mitigate or reduce screen burn-in over time on the Pixel 2 XL. The changes currently in the works include (but aren't limited to) a drop in the peak brightness by 50 nits, a navigation bar that fades out after a period of inactivity, and an option for more apps to use a white navigation bar.

Google Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL

Google Store Project Fi Verizon Best Buy

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1 month ago

The state of smartphone audio: DAC, codecs, and other terms you need to know

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What you need to know when all the audio chatter starts.

It's awesome to see smartphone audio starting to get some attention. Companies like LG and HTC are stepping up and putting specialized audio components into their phones, Sony is still pushing things forward with software optimizations, and new high-resolution Bluetooth codecs have even stubborn audiophiles like me interested in what they can do. This is also important stuff because the way we listen to our music will eventually be changing, as the trusty 3.5 mm headphone jack slowly but surely becomes a thing of the past.

But not everyone is into audio, and there are so many odd-sounding words and abbreviations and secret codes getting thrown around. You don't have to know what any of them mean to enjoy the music, but we all want to know what we're reading or hearing. So let's dig in and check out what some of the most common things you'll hear actually mean!

General terms you need to know

There are a few terms you'll see in every audio discussion. And like every other audio term, they really don't mean what it seems like they should mean sometimes. Here are the basics to get you started so you can keep up with just about any audio talk.

  • Bitrate is the number of bits of data that are processed per unit of time. When talking about audio, that rate of time is usually measured in seconds as bps (bits per second). Standard SI prefixes apply (not Binary Prefixes), so kbps (kilobits per second) = 1,000 bps, Mbps (megabits per second) = 1,000 kbps and Gbps (gigabits per second) = 1,000 Mbps. A higher number means more data is being processed so audio will sound better.
  • -bit is the way audio bit depth is written. Bit depth is the number of bits of information included in each individual sample (see Hz below). CD audio uses 16-bits per sample while DVD audio uses 24-bits per sample. Hi-resolution audio players will also be able to play 32-bit audio, and this includes some phones like the LG V30.
  • Container A container is a metafile format that controls and describes how multiple types of data exists inside a single computer file. A good example of this difficult idea is an MP4 file. An MP4 file can hold encoded audio, encoded video, metadata like subtitles or lyrics and album art in any combination. A container doesn't decide how its data is encoded, so you might be able to open an MP4 file and not be able to playback any of the data without the proper codecs. Yeah, it's kind of a mess and impossible to describe without using computer-speak. All you need to know is that audio containers hold encoded files and you'll need the proper codec installed to play any of them.
  • Codec A codec is software (we'll leave hardware codecs for another day) used to encode and decode digital data. Codec is short for coder-decoder. The coder encodes data and gets it ready for some sort of transmission, and at the other end, the decoder reverses the encoding. MP3 is a popular audio codec. Applications like Audacity can use an MP3 coder to encode music into a .mp3 file and your favorite audio player uses an MP3 decoder to turn it back the way it was and play it.
  • Compression Popular codecs compress an audio file while encoding it to make it smaller and easier to transmit. This is the same concept a .zip file uses to crunch down the contents of a folder. Ideally, you want an uncompressed file to be a bit-by-bit copy of the original, but most compression algorithms discard data that won't drastically change the way the audio sounds. Or at least they try to.
  • DAC A DAC is a Digital to Analog Converter that turns computer bits (the digital) into sounds (the analog) that can come through a pair of headphones. Every device that can play digital music has a DAC, as does every pair of Bluetooth headphones. Some just have a better DAC than others and are able to create cleaner analog audio from the digital source.

More: What is a DAC and why should I care about having a good one?

  • Dolby A company that specializes in noise reduction and audio encoding. Dolby licenses its tech to several phone manufacturers.
  • Hz or kHz Hz is the abbreviation for Hertz. When talking about digital audio you'll usually see it measured in kHz (kilohertz) and it designates the sampling frequency — the number of times the audio is sampled (analyzed and recorded) per second. Landline phone audio is 8kHz. VoIP telephones are 16kHz. Audio CDs are 44.1kHz. This continues all the way up to 5,644.8kHz which is Philips and Sony's Double-Rate DSD (Direct Stream Digital) format and absolutely insane. Generally, the higher the sample rate the better the audio will sound, but there are diminishing returns once you pass 192kHz that many people aren't going to be able to hear.
  • Lossless Lossless is a type of audio compression that can create an exact copy of the original when a file is uncompressed. FLAC and ALAC files are lossless.
  • Lossy Lossy is a type of audio compression that rebuilds an "approximation of the original data" but compresses the data into a smaller file. MP3 files are lossy.

Bluetooth

Bluetooth has its own slew of audio-related terms and they will be more important as we see more and more phones without a headphone jack. It gets its own section so we can break a few things down.

Bluetooth Profiles

Bluetooth profiles are a set of specifications that both the source (the device sending the audio like your phone) and the destination (the device that receives the audio like your favorite headphones) know what each other can do and how to work together and stream audio to your ears. Even the Bluetooth earbud of old needs a Bluetooth profile to connect, and this is the only way to make everything work.

  • HSP (Headset Profile) The HSP profile is required for basic headset operation. It has very limited remote control capabilities and the audio quality is 64 kbps (mono) maximum.
  • HFP (Handsfree Profile) HFP is an advanced version of HSP that's also designed for headsets (not headphones). It provides redialing and voice dialing through remote control. HFP version 1.6 uses a mono configuration of the standard SBC codec. See the codecs section below for details.
  • A2DP (Advanced Audio Distribution Profile) This profile was designed for stereo audio for things like multimedia. This is the profile your headphones (not a headset) need to use.
  • AVRCP (Audio/Video Remote Control Profile) AVRCP is used with A2DP to provide remote control for things like play/pause or track skipping. Versions 1.4 allow for full volume control of both devices, while lower versions control the volume of the headset only and not the source.

If you want to use a Bluetooth earbud or the like to take calls and don't care about other audio, you need a device that uses HSP, but you want a device that uses HFP so you have more control.

If you want to also listen to music through a stereo Bluetooth device — headset, headphones, portable speaker, etc. — you want both A2DP and AVRCP for the best experience.

Bluetooth audio codecs

Bluetooth audio codecs don't have to be Bluetooth only. They are encoding and decoding instructions that the right coder and decoder use to take raw audio, turn it into something better for transmission, then turn it back into raw audio once it reaches your headphones. You can't play any audio without the right coder and decoder, so support for audio codecs is pretty important.

You'll usually find information about what codecs a pair of headphones can use in the box they came in, and you'll find information about the codecs your phone can use in the manual or on the manufacturer's website.

  • SBC (Subband Coding) This is the default A2DP codec and the minimum required for stereo audio. Every stereo Bluetooth device must support SBC because it's the failsafe fallback if no other codec matches both the source and destination hardware. It provides an uncompressed stereo audio stream up to 328kpbs at 44.1 kHz. Because it's not compressed there is no need for the target (your headphones) to decompress it. It does tax Bluetooth's limited bandwidth and is subject to skipping or buffering (depending on your source) when conditions aren't ideal. There are several "levels" of SBC (low, medium, and high) and the quality is determined by the source device.
  • AAC (Advanced Audio Coding) This is the same AAC encoding you'll find for music that's not streamed wirelessly, and is what iTunes uses. It provides better audio than MP3 compression at the same bitrates and can rival lossless files in quality. Most headphones don't include AAC, but high-end models designed for use with the iPhone or iPod will, and they transfer data at 250 kbps.
  • aptX aptX is a proprietary audio codec developed in 2010 by APT (hence the name) to provide higher quality audio than SBC can deliver. It encodes a CD-like quality (16-bit / 44.1kHz) audio stream using more efficient audio encoding (compression, much like the .mp3 codec) and a higher data transfer rates of 352kbps. aptX is not required for stereo audio, and you'll find a lot of equipment doesn't include it.
  • aptX LL This is a version of the aptX codec designed for especially low latency. It's used in devices like gaming headsets that value low latency over quality, but still provides audio comparable to SBC. aptX LL can transmit stereo audio with latency as low as 32 milliseconds, which is faster than we can process so it appears to be latency-free.
  • aptX HD This is a version of the aptX codec that uses newer and better compression methods and higher data transfer rates (576kbps) to deliver 24-bit / 48kHz stereo audio. the compression algorithms have been designed to inject very little noise, and aptX HD streams approach lossless hi-resolution audio in quality. aptX HD is fairly new and not very many devices support it, though this will most certainly change.

More: aptX versus aptX HD: What's the difference?

  • LDAC LDAC is an audio codec designed by Sony to deliver "true hi-resolution" audio over Bluetooth. It can transmit audio at a maximum of 24-bit / 96kHz at speeds up to 990kbps. Like SBC, it has three settings: low (330kbps transfer speeds), medium (660kbps transfer speeds), and high (990kbps transfer speeds). Sony claims LDAC can transmit audio playback up to 24-bit / 96kHz without any downsampling (lowering the sample rate in Hertz) at the source. LDAC is very new, and while Android Oreo supports the codec very few peripherals do right now.

Audio file types

There are hundreds of audio coding formats. Some are specialized, like aptX for Bluetooth or ATRAC for the PlayStation or Walkman, but there are a handful of standards you'll find on portable devices like your phone. Most of the time the format defines the file type — MP3 format audio uses a .mp3 file extension, AAC audio uses a .m4a file extension and so on. Audio coding formats need to be supported by the player software, not your device itself, but for many your device must have a license to use them.

  • AAC (Advanced Audio Coding) This format is also a standard Bluetooth audio codec, though not very popularly supported. It supports audio compression with little data loss so audio sounds clearer than MP3 but still has comparable bitrates. This is the native format your old iPod uses and some audio players can play it through an MP4 container with the .m4a file extension.
  • ALAC (Apple Lossless Audio Codec) Developed by Apple as a lossless audio compression format, ALAC is now open source and royalty free. It delivers 8 channels of audio at 16, 20, 24 and 32-bit depth, with a maximum 384kHz sample rate. ALAC is also stored in an MP4 container with a .m4a file extension, but it's not the same lossy compression used with AAC.
  • FLAC (Free Lossless Audio Codec) FLAC is an open and royalty free audio codec that supports 4 to 24-bit audio at any sampling rate between 1 Hz to 655.35kHz on 8 channels. FLAC is capable of compression an audio file by 60% and still have an exact copy when uncompressed. Files using the FLAC coding format have a .flac extension.
  • MP3 (MPEG-1 or MPEG-2 Audio Layer III) MP3 is a lossy codec that can shrink CD quality (1411.2kbps) audio by up to 95% and provide comparable quality when uncompressed at playback. There are various sampling and playback rates and the higher the number the better it will sound. The MP3 codec intelligently reads audio files and discards data that we won't be able to hear during compression and encoding. You'll find .mp3 files just about everywhere and most any player can play them back.
  • Vorbis/Ogg Ogg is an open source container format that can multiplex independent streams for audio, video, text (subtitles and lyrics), and metadata. It can house numerous audio coding formats, but the most popular one you'll see on your phone is Vorbis. Vorbis is an open source audio format that can encode source material from 8kHz to 192kHz with a maximum of 255 channels and create output files between 45 and 500kbps. Files with the extension .ogg are native to Android and play through the systems default player or any number of third-party players.
  • WMA (Windows Media Audio) WMA is an audio codec that's actually four separate audio codecs: WMA, WMA Pro, WMA Lossless, and WMA Voice. WMA was developed by Microsoft to compete with MP3 and covers the spectrum from single-channel mono audio with WMA Voice (it's actually important to handle this type of audio in a special way) to 24-bit / 96kHz using 6 discrete channels. The compression ratio for music varies between 1.7:1 and 3:1. All WMA-encoded files carry the .wma extension and are supported by third-party players.

The most important part

You don't need to know any of this to enjoy listening to your music through your favorite headphones, and that's what really matters. Like everything else, some people will care and will debate about individual products until the end of time, and that's because they enjoy the underlying tech and how it works. Neither group is right or wrong, so don't feel left out if this just isn't your thing.

Just know that audio from our phones is getting better, the companies who make headphones are making better ones, and the music you love today will sound just as good, if not better tomorrow.

Rock on!

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1 month ago

Moto G5S Plus review: Too much of a good thing

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This is Motorola's most prestigious budget phone, but you can do better.

You'd be forgiven for not paying close attention to the release of the Moto G5S Plus; it snuck into the company's lineup in early August alongside the Moto G5S.

The 'S' stands for "Special Edition" (Moto G5SE Plus was too much of a mouthful?), and they're moderately improved versions of the existing Moto G5 line that debuted earlier in the year. Why would Motorola introduce slightly updated versions of existing phones less than six months after their release? Who knows?!

What I do know is that the Moto G5S Plus, which is available unlocked in the U.S. for $279, is one of the better budget phones you can buy, but the slightly better build quality, additional camera, and larger display don't justify the additional cost over the existing Moto G5 Plus.

See at Motorola

Moto G5S Plus What you'll love

There's a lot to like about the phone when you consider its $279 starting price: the metal build quality is unimpeachable, its 5.5-inch 1080p LCD display is vivid and relatively sharp, and its software is among the best in the business, replete with truly useful additions to Android that I actually rely on.

Moto G5S Plus specs

The improvements to build quality over the existing Moto G5 Plus — which, also mostly metal, is no slouch — are immediate. Dense and sizeable, the phone belies its budget status with clicky buttons, chamfered edges, and precise etching that wouldn't be out of place on a device three to four times its asking price.

This phone looks like a slightly larger version of the same budget phone Motorola's been selling for nine months.

Immediately recognizable as a 2017 Motorola device, too, the phone looks pretty good, especially in the new Blush Gold hue that, in the right light, appears lusciously copper. I like it — a lot. There's a fingerprint sensor below the screen, a rounded "Batwing" divot on the back, and a circular camera module with — and this is new — two sensors instead of one. We'll get to that a bit later, but suffice it to say if you've seen a Motorola phone recently, this one will not be difficult to get used to.

That's fine because the design is perfectly serviceable; count me among the people that will take a fast, reliable front fingerprint sensor over whatever shenanigans Samsung is up to these days. Here, that's exactly what you get: you can choose to use the sensor as just that (as well as an on/off button by holding it down for a second), or as a navigation tool with Motorola's One Button Nav feature. I'm still not comfortable recommending it for daily use given the tiny amount of reclaimed screen real estate, but others I've spoken to swear by it, so give it a try.

Along for the ride is Motorola's industry-leading notification system, Moto Display. Thank goodness Lenovo, Motorola's not-so-new parent company, hasn't messed with a good thing here, because there's no better way to triage Android notifications than with Moto Display. No other ambient display, from Samsung to LG to Google itself, comes close.

The Moto G5S Plus has the same 1080p screen as its G5 Plus counterpart, but it's ever-so-slightly less dense. And it's still LCD, not OLED. That's not a slight against the screen — it's fine — but if you're looking for next-gen resolution here, you're out of luck.

Here's what's significantly better than the Moto G5 Plus, though: the bottom-firing speaker is much louder and clearer than the single front-facing speaker on the smaller phone; the base model comes with 3GB of RAM instead of 2GB; and the front-facing camera gets upped to 8MP with a wider ƒ/2.0 lens and a real LED flash compared to 5MP/ƒ2.2/display flash. That front-facing camera is legit.

The phone also works with all four U.S. carriers out of the box, which is a huge boon to carrier portability. (This review focuses on the U.S. model only.)

Moto G5S Plus What needs work

The same processor, screen resolution, battery size and charging port doesn't scream "special edition".

I having nothing inherently against iterative improvements, but there is very little "special" in the Moto G5 Plus Special Edition. Its larger display, as mentioned, doesn't add anything to the experience, and the modicum of additional metal, while certainly appreciated from a density perspective, can't alone justify the added cost over the G5 Plus.

Motorola also chose to keep the same Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 processor inside the phone, too, which is a fine chip, but since it debuted in the Moto Z Play last year, it has since been displaced by the Snapdragon 626 and, more recently, the 630 (where it finds a home in the excellent Moto X4). Similarly, the 3000mAh battery inside the phone hasn't changed either, which means battery life hasn't improved over the Moto G5 Plus. Again, fine, but it would have been nice to see the phone achieve better uptime than its predecessor, since that phone wasn't particularly impressive in that area.

All of these decisions would be understandable were it not for the phone's biggest change, the inclusion of a dual camera setup — two seemingly-identical 13MP camera sensors with ƒ/2.0 lenses. Having two sensors obviously allows for shots with artificial bokeh, but they lack the additional connective tissue to justify what is clearly a downgrade in traditional photography from the Moto G5 Plus.

That phone has a single 12MP sensor with 1.4-micron Dual Autofocus pixels and a wide ƒ/1.7 lens. It's not the best camera — it struggles in low light — but it's damn good for its price class. In fact, it's probably unmatched under $300. Motorola sacrifices fidelity for a gimmick with the Moto G5S Plus; the 13MP primary sensor, which will be used far more often than both together, has smaller pixels, less reliable autofocus, and much less impressive low-light prowess. For all but a few situations, this is a worse camera experience than its cheaper counterpart.

In fact, even that depth gimmick is undermined by some abysmal performance in the camera app; switching to it causes the frame rate to drop precipitously, making it difficult to line up a good shot. And as we discovered with the Moto Z2 Force, which contains better camera hardware, Motorola's depth algorithms need a lot of work. The Note 8, this isn't.

That isn't to say the G5S Plus can't take great daylight photos — look at some of the ones I captured above for proof — but they're not particularly impressive, with muddy details.

Lastly, Motorola decided to maintain the Micro-USB port, which has been eliminated from nearly every other phone being released today, budget to premium. In fact, Motorola's own $399 Moto X4 is all-in on USB-C, as is the excellent Moto Z Play lineup. The company missed an opportunity to move the needle with its Moto G lineup here.

Moto G5S Plus Buy the other one

I have no idea why the Moto G5S Plus exists. It's a nice phone, and it sure looks and feels great — certainly better than any budget phone Motorola has made before. But it's just not a true upgrade over the Moto G5 Plus.

I'm not telling you to go out and buy a Huawei or a ZTE; I'm telling you to buy another Motorola. Specifically, if you're looking at the entry-level $279 Moto G5S Plus, which comes with 3GB of RAM and 32GB of storage, look instead at the upgraded Moto G5 Plus, which features 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage. At $299, it's around the same price and, in my opinion, better prepared to handle the onslaught of the real world.

See Moto G5 Plus at Amazon

If you do insist on buying the Moto G5S Plus, you do get a few advantages: a bigger screen, a better front-facing camera, a slightly newer version of Android, and the knowledge that you're getting a special edition. If that's enough for you, grab it from Motorola directly.

See Moto G5S Plus at Motorola

Moto G5

See at Amazon

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1 month ago

T-Mobile's Galaxy S8 Active passes through the FCC

37

A rugged and long-lasting Galaxy S8 is making its way to T-Mobile customers.

Each year since the Galaxy S4, Samsung has released an "Active" variant of its Galaxy S flagship with a more rugged design and other small touches that vary from year-to-year. These Active devices have typically been exclusives to AT&T, but this year, Samsung will be expanding this lineup to T-Mobile. We first heard murmurings of this in late September, and those have all but been confirmed with the T-Mobile S8 Active making its way through the FCC.

The model number for the S8 Active on T-Mobile is SM-G892U, and according to its listing in the FCC's database, it'll support LTE Band 71 and 66. The FCC listing doesn't exactly mention T-Mobile, but LTE Band 71 is being developed specifically by T-Mobile for use with phones on its network. As such, it's pretty clear that this is where the phone is heading.

The Galaxy S8 Active has been available on AT&T since early September, and along with a more ruggedized design, it also features a ginormous 4,000 mAh battery that offers some of the best endurance available in a 2017 flagship.

T-Mobile has yet to officially announce the S8 Active for its network, and while we won't know pricing or availability until it does so, our guess is that it'll be similar to its cost on AT&T. In other words, expect to pay about $850 for the privilege of that durable build and long-lasting battery pack.

Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+

Verizon AT&T T-Mobile Sprint Unlocked

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1 month ago

Is the Pixel 2 XL's screen burn-in that big of a deal?

147

A major issue, or just a minor annoyance?

Ever since reviews first started coming out, Google's Pixel 2 XL has been faced with an onslaught of controversy and outrage surrounding its display. Initially, people were complaining about the phone's muted colors. Blue tints when looking at the display from an angle followed this, and now, there's the issue of possible screen burn-in.

Our own Alex Dobie first reported burn-in on his Pixel 2 XL this past weekend, spotting an outline of the navigation bar that had been burnt into the bottom of his 2 XL's display. We already went into further detail on the matter and talked more about what exactly burn-in really is, but seeing as how this is very much so a user-facing issue, we want to hear your thoughts on the matter.

Here's what some of our forum users have already had to say.

*/
gnahc79 10-22-2017 11:19 AM “

IMO this is worth worrying about. A $850+ phone that you have to look out for burn in? No way, this isn't the plasma TV days of the early 2000s. If AC's Alex Dobie got burn in after 7 days of normal use, I don't see replacing a phone every 7 days being a realistic option.

Reply
*/
osubeavs728 10-22-2017 01:43 PM “

Accurate colors, all for it. "blue tint," non-issue. Screen burn in though, would have me a bit worried. Definitely still excited for my Panda, but will keep a close eye on it. Any burn in and the warranty department will definitely get used to seeing my number pop up.

Reply
*/
maverick7526 10-22-2017 02:08 PM “

If this is a legitimate issue, Google will have to warranty replace them. It has literally been 72 hrs since official release. I'm not seeing the issue, however I keep my screen brightness around 30% or less, which may help with reducing burn in/image retention.

Reply
*/
DMP89145 10-22-2017 03:46 PM “

I'm as big of a supporter of Google and their efforts with the Pixel brand as much as anyone, but 7 days is unreasonable. Yes, OLED panels suffer from burn in, but after some time generally... To me, this is on a different level than the blue hue. A "cooler" display falls in the "preference" category... Burn-in, and 7 day burn in at that, is more QC. It's a brand new phone for crying out loud.

Reply
*/
marcb11 10-22-2017 04:55 PM “

Just did a white screen on my OG Pixel and guess what? Super faint image of my Nav bar. And also guess what, I have never ever noticed it before in a year of use. So to me, this is a non-issue, if I didn't read this I'd never even know it was an issue and lived my life happily.

Reply

It would obviously be preferable for the phone to not have any screen burn-in in the first place, but based on what we know and have seen so far – is the Pixel 2 XL's reported burn-in an issue for you?

Join the conversation in the forums!

Google Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL

Google Store Project Fi Verizon Best Buy

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1 month ago

HMD Global is launching a new Nokia phone in India on October 31

3

The Nokia 7 could make its way to India next week.

India is one of HMD Global's largest markets, and the company is getting ready to launch a new device in the subcontinent next week. The manufacturer has sent out invites to the media for an event on October 31, where it will launch a new phone in India. There's no mention of the device in question, but it'll likely be the Nokia 7, which made its debut in China late last week.

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1 month ago

Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 shows up at TENAA with 5.99-inch 18:9 display

8

Xiaomi's upcoming budget phone will feature an 18:9 display with thin bezels.

The Redmi Note 4 turned out to be one of the most popular devices in the budget segment this year, and it looks like Xiaomi is all set to announce a successor. A phone bearing model number MEE7 has made its way through TENAA, and the device in question is likely to be the Redmi Note 5. Based on the images in the listing, Xiaomi is looking to switch to an 18:9 display with thin bezels for its upcoming budget phone.

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1 month ago

Essential Phone gets a $200 price drop to $499

129

The Essential Phone now has a more palatable starting price.

The Essential Phone didn't have an easy go of things in its first few weeks on the market. Lauded for its incredible industrial design, the phone's software was barebones to a fault and its camera was criticized for its slow speed, poor low-light performance, and lack of features.

Now months later, Essential's marketing department peep-quiet, the phone has received numerous updates, many of which have improved the overall software experience while adding much-needed camera usability. It's not perfect, but it's a heck of a lot better than when we reviewed it in late August.

Starting today, though, it's going to be easier to justify purchasing Essential's first hardware product: it's receiving a $200 price cut to $499 on the company's website, and existing buyers will get a Friends & Family coupon worth the same amount towards a new Essential Phone or a 360-degree camera add-on. From the company's blog:

At Essential, one of our driving principles is that premium craftsmanship and the latest technologies shouldn't be for the few. We could have created a massive TV campaign to capture your attention, but we think making it easier for people to get their hands on our first products is a better way to get to know us.

At $499, the phone is considerably more competitive against flagships like the Pixel 2 and Galaxy S8. Given that the price drop is only for the unlocked version directly sold from the company's website, it's unlikely to cause too much of a stir, but the move is appreciated nonetheless. Sprint, the Essential Phone's exclusive U.S. carrier, has dropped the price to around $350 when bought on a monthly finance plan, but still sells it for $699 outright. TELUS, Essential's Canadian carrier partner, sells the phone for free alongside a $95/month plan, but hasn't budged on the $1050 outright price, either. Relief is expected in the coming days, though.

With Android Oreo on the horizon, does the price drop to $499 make you more interested in the Essential Phone? Let us know in the comments below!

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1 month ago

From the Editor's Desk: Android 8.1 and Oreo's AI future

10
Pixel 2 XL

Pixel Visual Core and Mate 10 event offer clues about what's next for Android and AI.

Google hasn't yet (explicitly) announced Android 8.1 Oreo. But reading between the lines of two recent Android announcements gives us a small, tantalizing glimpse of the first Oreo maintenance release. Most significantly, expect a major focus on AI APIs that could bring exciting new features for Google Pixel 2 and Huawei Mate 10 owners.

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1 month ago

This is what the OnePlus 5T will probably look like

74

This is the OnePlus 5T you're looking for.

In early October, a device render popped up for what was supposedly the OnePlus 5T. The render showed off a phone with a 6-inch 18:9 display with very minimal bezels, but it also looked a whole lot like another phone from Oppo. Since then, a new look at the 5T has surfaced, and it's more of what we'd expect to see from OnePlus later this year.

The new render was uploaded by a user on Weibo, and while the phone looks similar to what we saw at the beginning of the month, there are a few big differences.

For starters, the "Never Settle" wallpaper that's shown on the display is a lot more convincing than the lock screen on the other render that definitely didn't belong to OxygenOS. The alert slider is no longer missing, the corners of the display aren't so heavily rounded, and the render as a whole is much higher-res than what we saw last time around.

The top and bottom bezels don't seem to have changed, with the ones on the sides being ever so slightly thicker (oh it could just be because this one doesn't showcase curved edges like what we previously saw).

Old render (left), New render (right)

We also get a look at the back of the 5T, revealing the new position of the fingerprint scanner. The back does look exactly the same as the current OnePlus 5, but that's sort of what we're expecting considering the identical design between the OnePlus 3 and 3T.

Are these official images of the OnePlus 5T? We aren't sure. Is this the final design for the phone? Possibly, but we can't say for certain. What we can say, however, is that, between the two renders we've seen at this point, this is the one I'd bet my money on as to what the device will end up looking like.

OnePlus 5T and OnePlus 5

OnePlus Amazon

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1 month ago

Mate 10 Pro scores one point less than Pixel 2 in DxOMark test

32

Huawei's Mate 10 Pro is a worthy contender to the unstoppable Pixel 2.

There are a lot of reasons to like the Pixel 2, but for a lot of people, the biggest one is the phone's fantastic camera. The Pixel 2's camera is exceptionally good, and Google proudly announced that it received a score of 98 from DxOMark during the unveiling for the phone on October 4. That's the highest score DxO has ever handed out to a phone, but that's bound to change at one point or another.

DxO recently put the Huawei Mate 10 Pro through its paces and ended up giving the phone a score of 97 – just one point less than the Pixel 2.

Although the Mate 10 Pro got an overall score of 97, that doesn't mean it's exactly one point worse than the Pixel 2 (whatever that would mean in the first place).

Final DxOMark scores are a combination of a lot of different things, including separate scores for exposure and contrast, color, texture, noise, and a bunch of other factors. Photo and video performance are also broken up into two different categories, and different weights are placed on each factor for both photo and video.

Taking a look at the Mate 10 Pro, DxO gave the phone a 100 for its photo output and 91 for video; comparatively, the Pixel 2 scored a 99 and 96 respectively. The Mate 10 Pro scored very high marks for its exposure and contrast, color, and autofocus in both photos and videos, and it even beat the Pixel 2 in regards to bokeh portrait shots, noise, artifacts, and zoom.

We don't advise basing your buying decisions solely on DxoMark rankings, but they do offer a detailed look into just what a smartphone camera has to offer.

If you want to read through DxO's entire findings, you can check out their Mate 10 Pro review here.

Huawei Mate 10

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1 month ago

LG V30 review by MrMobile

20

LG didn't do itself any favors by waiting until October to release its V30 smartphone in the US, after first announcing it back in August. But it's telling that, in the intervening weeks, I haven't been able to go a day without someone on my Twitter feed asking me for an ETA on my LG V30 review. This is a smartphone that's got people stoked.

Part of that is the natural demand for an underdog alternative to Samsung's Galaxy Note 8, or curiosity about how much of the V30's DNA made it into the LG-made Google Pixel 2 XL. But comparing the V30 to either of those competitors misses the point. The V30 isn't just LG's higher-end model for the fall; it's one of the only three smartphones in recent memory designed specifically for shooting near-professional-quality mobile video. (The other two were its immediate predecessors, the LG V10 and V20.)

The V30 packs updates to the styling and specs of its forerunners, while tossing in more cinematography features like in-camera color grading and support for the Cine-Log format. It also brings its own version of the super-wide-angle dual-camera system that kept the LG G6 in my pocket for much of this year, and includes a 32-bit Hi-Fi DAC and 3.5mm headphone jack for the audiophiles in the audience. But with a price point starting at $800 and a selfie camera that falls far behind the quality of the primary shooter, will the LG V30 be able to live up to the hype created by its long road to release? Check out MrMobile's LG V30 review to find out, and then hit up Alex Dobie's LG V30 review for the full take, as only Android Central can tell it.

Stay social, my friends

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1 month ago

What do you think about Google's Pixel 2?

63

So, how's that Pixel 2 treating you?

Google's Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL started to arrive on people's doorsteps this past Wednesday, and while it'll still be a while before everyone who preordered the phones gets their hands on them, plenty of early adopters have already shared their thoughts on Google's flagships for 2017.

Andrew and Alex both came away with very positive feelings for the Pixel 2 in their reviews, praising both the regular and XL model as two of the best Android phones you can buy right now. Each device has its own set of pros and cons, and while we could dive into a lot more detail on that front, that's not what we're here to do.

Today, we want to look at what you have to say about the Pixel 2. Here's what some of our forum users have said so far.

*/
Damu357 10-19-2017 08:46 PM “

I love my pixel 2 XL, so far it's been great. The battery life is amazing, speakers are great, and even the sound quality has improved for phone calls. It doesn't feel plastic at all, or hollow. Nice job Google

Reply
*/
polbit 10-19-2017 09:46 PM “

I started on Windows Mobile (Motorola Q, anyone, anyone??), and have switched back and forth between Android and iOS. I always longed for a phone that would combine the two - the fluidity and app quality of iOS, with customizability of Android, etc., etc. So far, my new Pixel 2XL has it all. Absolutely love it, and it's been a while since I got this excited about a phone (probably since Note...

Reply
*/
BCWARE 10-19-2017 03:48 PM “

I have been a Droid guy for a long long time. Have literally owned a phone from every major player...a few Nexus, including my 6 that I just sent back to Google regrettably.....went back to Samsung to check the hype and because I have tech ADD. Yesterday my P2XL arrived...and less than 24 hours in...I am in love. Fast, Oreo...the screen is just fine. Camera is magnificent...just pleased as...

Reply
*/
gabbott 10-19-2017 10:14 PM “

I've had my Pixel 2 XL set up for the past few hours and love it! The speakers are great and get loud, this thing is really fast, and I actually really like the display and the way that colors are rendered. Have yet to play around with the camera.

Reply

If you purchased the Pixel 2 and already have your hands on the phone, we want to know – What do you think about the Pixel 2/Pixel 2 XL?

Join the conversation in the forums!

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1 month ago

Could Google 'fix' the Pixel 2 XL's display with a software update?

86
Google Pixel 2 XL

Okay, now let's talk about the realistic parts of the situation.

We know people have opinions on the Pixel 2 XL's display. Some are bad, some are good, and some people want everyone to just move on with their lives and pick the phone that works for them for a variety of reasons. We know that the Pixel 2 XL's display has a few characteristics that are polarizing: the color representation, off-axis color shifting, grain on light backgrounds and weak shadow detail are all points of contention right now.

So rather than continuing to debate how bad each aspect of the display is, let's go to the next level: will Google release an update for the Pixel 2 XL to change the way the display looks? Let's look at the possibility.

Will Google address the screen with an update?

Google Pixel 2 XL

We know Google is constantly working on software for its Pixels, and we're sure there's already a little backlog of different features, fixes and changes that are already slated for an upcoming release. But with the amount of attention the Pixel 2 XL's screen is getting, Google has chosen to respond to this point in particular. When asked for comment on the Pixel 2 XL's display, Google provided the following statement to The Verge (emphasis mine):

We designed the Pixel display to have a more natural and accurate rendition of colors this year but we know some people prefer more vivid colors so we've added an option to boost colors by 10% for a more saturated display. We're always looking at people's responses to Pixel and we will look at adding more color options through a software update if we see a lot of feedback.

Google typically doesn't make many public comments on exactly what it plans to fix or change in direct response to complaints on current software builds, but it's not surprising that this one has raised to the point where it's considering changes. Go look at Google's product forums and you'll see complaints and bug reports filed for every thing you could imagine, but most don't reach the level of needing a public comment from Google — but that's where we're at with the Pixel 2 XL's display.

So there's a good chance that engineers at Google will be looking into the display tuning when it comes to release the next big software update for the Pixel 2 and 2 XL — presumably, Android 8.1. The question is, what all can Google actually do with a simple software update? Well, not as much as you'd think.

What can actually be 'fixed' with an update?

Google Pixel 2 XL and LG V30

To set the stage, manufacturers aren't even capable of making two panels back to back that look identical. Out of a batch of 1000 screens coming off of a production line, there will be variations from number one to 1000 — and LG is making far more than 1000 of these. There are tolerances that each fits within, but they are a range and not absolute. That's not to excuse issues with any screen, but rather to caution us all from looking at one phone and thinking it's completely representative of all Pixel 2 XLs.

Now, lot of what we perceive as quality of "the screen" itself actually comes down to the software tuning and calibration of that screen. The phone's software tells the screen what to do, how to adjust to various inputs, what brightness to show and what colors to recreate with which values. And within the parameters of what the screen is actually capable of, it'll do it. Further to that point, Android Oreo even offers developers the option to define a specific color space in their app, overriding the default OS setting.

Google can change the tuning of the screen, but it can't overcome physical limitations.

Google has tuned the Pixel 2 XL's display to be very accurate — more specifically, 100% accurate to the DCI-P3 color space. Other phones are not as accurate to the DCI-P3 color space (like the Pixel 2, at 93%), or are tuned to a different color space entirely. This is one reason why different screens look different to our eyes. Google could, in theory, change the Pixel 2 XL's software so that it displays colors differently — in this case, maybe with higher overall saturation. It could change the values of the red, green and blue the screen is told to show, and it'd have a direct effect on how it looks to us.

The problem here is that the Pixel 2 XL's display isn't completely malleable and able to be changed to whatever Google's engineers' collective hearts desire. It has physical limitations, and it turns out that most of what people have been complaining about in the Pixel 2 XL's display are these physical issues, not just software tuning. Changes in the software can't address the fact that the display distorts colors when you tilt the phone, nor can it address the bits of grain viewed at low brightness on white backgrounds. These are just characteristics of the display — they just happen to be ones that people are really focusing on.

So with this new-found knowledge, what do we do? Well, look at the Pixel 2 XL and decide if you like how the display looks right now. Don't buy a phone for what it could be in the future, buy it for how you feel about it on Day 1 and anything else that comes in a software update later on down the road is just gravy.

Google Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL

Google Store Project Fi Verizon Best Buy

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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1 month ago

On the Pixel 2 XL, OLED displays, and Samsung

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There are a lot of reasons to choose one phone over the other, and the only right choice is the one you make.

The internet is like that big platter your grandmother breaks out during the holidays. The one with little compartments for all the different things, from olives to cheese to onion dip. In our compartment, where everything mobile and all the things that connect to all the other things live, everywhere you look you see that the Pixel 2 XL has a horrible display. Like, the worst ever.

At least that's what the internet tells me. Tossing out the noise from folks who have never seen it and just like to say things to stir the pot, you'll find that people have some issue with the overall quality, but very few people who have it or have used it think the display is bad. It's just not as great as what we find in Samsung's latest phones. My reaction to this is "duh."

Nobody makes OLED displays at the sizes used for mobile devices as good as Samsung does. Not LG, not Toshiba, not Sony. Nobody. Nobody can "tune" an OLED display as well as Samsung can. This is because Samsung was one of the pioneers of OLED display tech and it throws away as many panels that don't meet its standards as other companies make in total. Samsung is the best there is, and anyone saying differently should be offering an explanation why.

No other company comes close to Samsung when making small OLED panels.

Samsung Electronics is a hardware company. It not only makes the best displays but makes other parts that are best-in-class or close to it: processors, memory controllers, solid-state memory, flash memory and all sorts of other electronics. This is what Samsung does, and has been doing since 1987 when Samsung split into groups like Samsung Electronics and Samsung Life Insurance. This is what Samsung Electronics is very, very good at.

Even if you buy a phone from another company that uses a Samsung OLED display, it's not going to look as good as a phone that says Samsung on the back. This will be an unpopular opinion, but that doesn't mean it's not true. Samsung goes the extra mile because it takes pride in its display technology. And it should — as phone enthusiasts, we all know it.

Google is not a hardware company. It is trying to become one and do a reverse Apple thing (Apple started with hardware first), but right now it has four phones that it designed and had other companies build, and one in-house SoC with the Pixel Visual Core when it comes to mobile hardware. The Google Wifi or Chromecast unit you see weren't built by Google, either. Google is a software company. A software company that earns a very healthy income through advertising.

We need to realize we're paying Samsung $900 for a superb display and very usable software when we buy the Galaxy Note 8, but we're paying Google $900 for a very usable display and superb software.

Don't buy a Pixel 2 XL because you want the best hardware. You'll be disappointed.

There's just no reason to buy a Pixel 2 XL that is not related to the software. Even the camera, which has wowed just about everyone, is great because of software. The regular updates — software. No carrier interference — software. Access to new features before anyone else — you guessed it. The Pixel 2 XL only exists as a vehicle for Google's software. Conversely, the Galaxy Note 8 uses the software as a way to make its superb hardware something you want to buy. Two different companies specialize in two different things, but both use a phone to sell them to you.

If I were to pull out my credit card and buy a phone today, I would buy a Samsung phone if I wanted a great display above everything else. I would tell you to do the same thing if you asked me. But if I cared more about the software, whether that means getting the latest versions of things right away, or staying up to date, or even not having to wade through a bunch of stuff I won't ever use, I would buy a Pixel 2.

Both are the best phones you can buy, but for very different reasons.

Google Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL

Google Store Project Fi Verizon Best Buy

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