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1 month ago

Honor View 10 hands-on preview: Flagship killer killer?

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Honor View 10

Honor's latest premium phone is gunning for the OnePlus 5T, with competitive specs, a matching price and AI camera features.

The Honor V series, once limited to China, has evolved into Honor View, with the launch of the brand's most premium Western-targeted device to date. The Honor View 10, just announced at its global launch event in London, brings across many specs from the more expensive Huawei Mate 10 Pro, and lands at a price point that pits it directly against the OnePlus 5T.

For €499 or £449, you get Huawei's latest Kirin 970 processor, complete with Neural Processing Unit (NPU) for AI-based future-proofing, along with 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage, and Android 8.0 Oreo. And around the back, a dual 20-megapixel plus 16-megapixel camera rig promises impressive low-light performance and AI scene detection copied wholesale from the Mate 10. Throw in a headphone jack, fast biometrics, a 3,750mAh SuperCharging battery and you've got a very compelling €499 phone.

And with the View 10 already confirmed for a U.S. launch, this could be the device to reverse Honor's fortunes stateside, following the flop of last year's Honor 8.

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1 month ago

BLU finally addresses Life One X2 bug that locks users out of the phone

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A fix is here, but the damage is already done.

Exactly a week ago on November 28, some individuals started to complain about a pretty nasty bug that was affecting the BLU Life One X2. After downloading and installing a software update for the phone, users reported being met with a new screen asking for a password they didn't have. In other words, they were completely locked out of their device.

People began to discover that factory resetting the phone helped get past the screen, and while this did work for some, the real horror is that BLU took six whole days to actually address what was going on.

BLU sent out two messages on its official Twitter account on December 4, and they read as follows:

One user that spoke with BLU has since shared a link to the .zip file that supposedly fixes the issue, but it's not entirely clear how it's supposed to be used. Our guess is that it needs to be flashed to the Life One X2 since there's no way to get past the password screen and to the OS itself, but since BLU hasn't made instructions for using the file public, we'd advise contacting the company directly and following its directions to ensure you don't screw up your phone even more.

It's certainly relieving that owners of a Life One X2 now have a way to actually use their phone once again, but if you ask me, being radio silent for almost a whole week with something like this is unacceptable.

Some users can't access their BLU Life One X2 after latest software update

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1 month ago

Best ASUS Phones

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Best overall

ASUS ZenFone 4 Pro

See at Amazon See at Best Buy

ASUS's latest flagship, the ZenFone 4 Pro, packs a lot of power into a well-built metal and glass phone. It features the powerful Snapdragon 835 chipset, along with 6GB of RAM, up to 128GB of internal storage, and an impressive 3600mAh battery. The ZenFone 4 Pro also has a dual camera setup, offering a 2X telephoto lens alongside the primary f/1.7 lens.

Bottom line: The ZenFone 4 Pro is ASUS's top offering at the moment, combining powerful specs with premium design.

One more thing: There are many different flavors of the ZenFone 4, so if the Pro doesn't resonate with you, you can choose from a number of other options.

Why the ZenFone 4 Pro is the best

From the specs to the performance and design, everything about the ZenFone 4 Pro feels high-end.

The ZenFone 4 Pro comes as part of the broader ZenFone 4 lineup, and stands as ASUS's current top dog. Its 2.5D glass melts into the metal frame for a premium look and feel, and the new ZenUI 4 software running on top of Android 7.1.1 is fast and responsive. That's aided by its top-tier specs, including Qualcomm's ever-popular Snapdragon 835 chipset.

The dual camera layout allows for 2X optical zoom, as well as portrait mode to help you achieve that artificial bokeh effect. The ZenFone 4 Pro is also one of ASUS's only phones with an AMOLED display, and though it doesn't have the fancy 2:1 aspect ratio of many of today's flagships, the bezels are still relatively small and make room for a fingerprint sensor built into the home button on the front.

Best for photography

ASUS ZenFone 3 Zoom

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The Snapdragon 625 processor and 1080p screen may not be top of the line, but they're perfectly serviceable for the average consumer. Instead of having an optical zoom kit like with the original ZenFone Zoom, ASUS outfitted the ZenFone 3 Zoom with two camera sensors, the lenses of which have different focal lengths. This allows for optical zoom without the added thickness of its predecessor, and the artificial bokeh effects that have since become standard in modern flagships.

Bottom line: The ZenFone 3 Zoom takes the DNA of the excellent ZenFone 3 lineup and adds superlative specs and a fantastic dual-camera setup.

One more thing: With the larger focus on cameras with the entire ZenFone 4 lineup, it's likely that this will be the last ZenFone Zoom.

Best for augmented reality

ASUS ZenFone AR

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The ZenFone AR is interesting not because of its specs, but because it is the first device to combine Google's Tango and Daydream platforms into one device. The specs are nothing to sneeze at, either: a Snapdragon 821 processor and either 6GB or 8GB RAM makes it pretty powerful, and the 5.7-inch QHD Super AMOLED display is covered with Gorilla Glass 4.

Bottom line: The ZenFone AR isn't just one of the best ASUS phones, it's the best phone for virtual and augmented reality.

One more thing: Though Verizon briefly carried the ZenFone AR, it's no longer being offered on their site, so your best bet is to buy the unlocked model.

Conclusion

ASUS has a habit of releasing a handful of nearly identical phones all at the same time, leading to a wide range of confusing options, but a lot of those options are truly great phones. The ZenFone 4 Pro is an all-around heavy hitter with powerful specs and speedy performance, and the combination of a 1080p display and a large battery makes it an endurance champ, too. At the same time, the ZenFone 3 Zoom lets you get closer to your subject than almost any other phone with 2.3X optical zoom, and the ZenFone AR is one the company's more ambitious projects with support for the most popular AR and VR platforms on Android.

Best overall

ASUS ZenFone 4 Pro

See at Amazon See at Best Buy

ASUS's latest flagship, the ZenFone 4 Pro, packs a lot of power into a well-built metal and glass phone. It features the powerful Snapdragon 835 chipset, along with 6GB of RAM, up to 128GB of internal storage, and an impressive 3600mAh battery. The ZenFone 4 Pro also has a dual camera setup, offering a 2X telephoto lens alongside the primary f/1.7 lens.

Bottom line: The ZenFone 4 Pro is ASUS's top offering at the moment, combining powerful specs with premium design.

One more thing: There are many different flavors of the ZenFone 4, so if the Pro doesn't resonate with you, you can choose from a number of other options.

Update, November 2017: Removed some older devices from the list and crowned the ZenFone 4 Pro as the top ASUS smartphone.

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1 month ago

New Honor View 10 is an Honor V10 for the rest of the world

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Honor View10

The new flagship has a headphone jack, Huawei's latest processor and a big battery.

Honor today at a global launch event in London announced that its high-end V10 phone will be launching in Europe early in 2018 with a new name: Honor View 10. The phone was previously announced for the Chinese market in November, boasting top-tier specs.

The Honor View 10 is the brand's first Android Oreo phone, and its first with Huawei's new Kirin 970 processor, which enabled AI features in apps thanks to its Neural Processing Unit (NPU) — paired with 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage. Other key specs include a 5.99-inch 18:9 Full HD+ (2160x1080) display, all packed inside a premium glass and metal body.

A fresh take on the core specs of the Huawei Mate 10 Pro.

For imaging, there's a dual 16MP-plus-20MP rear camera setup with AI shooting technology similar to what we've seen in the Mate 10 Pro. Alongside that there's a 13MP selfie camera that also works for face unlock. Battery capacity is set at a healthy 3,750 mAh, and the new phone features a re-branded version of Huawei's SuperCharge tech, with 4.5A charging for faster, cooler refills. Unlike the Mate 10 Pro, Honor also keeps the increasingly rare 3.5mm headphone jack. And Honor has managed to fit its fingerprint scanner around the front of the phone, in the phone's slim bottom bezel.

While it's the first time the Honor "V" or "View" brand has been used in western Europe, it's not the first V-series phone to launch outside China. Earlier in the year, we got the Honor 8 Pro, which was a re-badged version of the Honor V9.

The Honor View 10 be available in blue and black colors in January, and will sell for €499 and £449 when it launches in Europe and the UK respectively. It'll also be coming to the United States and Russia, though no local pricing was given for those regions.

Honor View 10 specs

Category Specification Operating System EMUI 8 / Android 8 Processor Huawei Kirin 970
10nm, 4X Cortex-A73 + 4X Cortex-A53, ARM Mali G72-MP12 GPU, Neural Processing Unit (NPU) RAM 6GB Storage 128GB Display 5.99 inches
2160x1080
428 ppi, 2:1 aspect ratio Main Cameras 16MP RGB sensor
20MP monochrome sensor
f/1.8 (both) Front Camera 13MP Connectivity Wifi a/b/g/n/ac, 2.4/5GHz
Bluetooth 4.2
Fingerprint
USB Type-C supporting USB-OTG SIM Card Dual nano SIM
nano SIM + microSD Frequency bands 4G LTE: B1/B3/B5/B7/B8/B20
3G UMTS: B1/B2/B5/B8
GSM/EDGE: B2/B3/B5/B8 Battery 3750mAh, 5V/4.5A fast charging Dimensions 157 x 75 x 7 mm Weight 172 grams Colors Navy Blue, Midnight Black, Beach Gold, Aurora Blue, Charm Red Price €499 or £449

Want to learn more? Read our full Honor View 10 preview!

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1 month ago

Honor 7X review: The new budget champion

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Honor 7X

Honor's latest affordable phone packs an 18:9 screen, a beautiful aluminum chassis and a decent camera into a device that sells for just £269.99.

The quick take

There are always trade-offs when buying a phone for less than £300, but Honor manages to successfully walk the budget tightrope, with only a few minor concerns around UI and the lack of NFC for mobile payments.

The Good

  • Premium design and good-looking display
  • Decent mid-range performance
  • Dependable camera for general use
  • Decent one-day battery life

The Bad

  • Ships on Nougat
  • Uses outdated microUSB port
  • EMUI weirdness persists

Honor 7X

Honor 7X Full Review

The budget phone world is a hugely competitive space, as Huawei's Honor brand well knows from its recent efforts with the Honor 5X and 6X. These phones have generally managed to balance feature set, build quality and price with generally successful results. The Honor 5X was one of the first handsets to bring metal construction and fingerprint recognition to a cheaper price tier. And a year ago, the Honor 6X added a surprisingly competent dual camera rig to the experience.

A year on, Honor has taken the bones of the 6X, and fleshed it out into something that looks and feels more premium than anything I've used at its price point of £269.99. A brushed aluminum body with distinctive colors, including a trademark blue hue. A beautiful 18:9 display. And software which, though not entirely current, gets the job done.

About this review

We're publishing this review after just over two weeks with an unlocked European Honor 7X (BND-L21). I (Alex Dobie) have been using it on Three in the UK, and also in Taiwan on Taiwan Mobile. The phone was running software version 101, based on Android 7.0 Nougat, with the October 5, 2017 Android security patch.

Honor 7X

Metal slab

Honor 7X Hardware

On the outside, the Honor 7X broadly resembles a mash-up between an Honor 8 Pro and a Huawei Mate 10 Pro. It boasts a new, taller 18:9 aspect ratio, with a 5.93-inch Full HD+ (2160x1080) LCD panel — a first in such an inexpensive handset. The curves of the Honor 7X are more iPhone-like than other metal-bodied Android phones, including OnePlus's just-launched 5T. As a result, it's a little slick in the hand, though not disastrously so.

The body of the phone is furnished with a brushed, anodized aluminum finish that's almost identical to the much more expensive Honor 8 Pro — including the signature navy blue hue that'll be the main color for the UK. A plain old black model will also be offered, for the color-averse.

Other distinguishing features: top and bottom antenna bands, a slight bump around each of the two rear cameras, and a recessed rear-mounted fingerprint scanner. The 7X's biometrics, by the way, are fast and accurate -- though, naturally, lagging behind the speed of the Mate 10 Pro.

You could argue about whether, like the 6X and 5X, the design is a bit derivative. What's more important is that there's nothing at all cheap-feeling about this phone. Around the front, the 2.5D glass of the display finally has an oleophobic coating, which sounds like a small thing, but is hugely important in stopping the screen getting gunked up by fingerprints. That's aside from the tall aspect ratio that gives makes phone just as modern-looking as a OnePlus 5T or LG V30.

The 7X's premium finish is a leap beyond the Honor 6X.

The premium design and brushed finish of the Honor 7X takes a step beyond 6X and 5X. Fortunately, the flagship-like aesthetics of the Honor 7X don't come at the cost of durability. While Honor isn't advertising the 7X as being drop-resistant in the same way as, for example, a Moto Z2 Force, the 7X does boast reinforced corners — the main impact point for any drop — to reduce the likelihood of permanent damage if it hits the floor. I haven't put this to the test with my unit, but I did witness the phone survive a few impromptu drop tests at a meeting in London ahead of today's announcement.

It also feels sturdy and well-built, with good weight distribution and haptics that are a little soft, but not rattly.

On the inside, the Honor 7X runs the latest of Huawei's mid-level Kirin chips, the Kirin 659 — an octa-core 16nm part, along with 4GB of RAM and (in the UK) 64GB of storage, plus microSD. Like many other dual-SIM phones, the 7X's hybrid slot can support either a single SIM plus SD Card, or two SIMs and no SD card.

It's worth noting, however, that unlike some other dual-SIM handsets, the second SIM will only work in 2G mode, not 3G mode. Why does that matter? In some places like South Korea and Taiwan, 2G networks have been deactivated, making the second SIM slot useless.

Overall performance throughout my two weeks with the Honor 7X has been solid, though somewhat less dazzling than what I've seen from Qualcomm's latest Snapdragon 630 chipset. In day-to-day tasks, the Honor 7X is performant enough to handle everything you might want to throw at it. But with heavy background tasks running -- for example, app updates -- a little performance jank can creep in.

There's also no NFC, which makes Android Pay a non-starter on the phone. This omission in particular feels like a big miss.

On the other hand, at least the roomy 4GB of RAM means app reloads are seldom a problem.

Honor 7X

A great-looking screen with no fingerprint-related issues.

And the display itself, a 2160x1080 LCD panel, has been given the attention it deserves. Along with the all-important oleophobic coating, it's a solid upgrade from the 6X's display in all the key metrics -- outdoor visibility, color vibrance and viewing angles. This is no flagship-tier panel, but it's also not as disappointing as the LCDs used in some of Motorola's G5-series phones.

Audio-wise, the ever elusive 3.5mm headphone jack is thankfully present, alongside a single bottom-firing that gets reasonably loud, but is lacking in bass.

There's another slightly weird component decision here too -- the Honor 7X's use of a fairly dated microUSB port, as opposed to the newer USB Type-C. It works just as well for charging, which maxes out at 5V/2A anyway, but it goes against the grain of what is otherwise quite a forward-looking phone.

Overall, then this is a device with good-enough mid-level internals packaged inside a deceptively high-end chassis. The Honor 7X's hardware has just enough power to get the job done, and just enough style to stand out at its chosen price point.

Software

EMUI 5.1

Honor 7X Software

On the software side, the compromises of running a mid-range chip are also apparent: The Honor 7X runs the older EMUI 5.1 firmware from the Huawei mothership, based on Android 7.0 Nougat. That's as opposed to the newer EMUI 8 found in Kirin 970-powered handsets like the Honor V10 and Huawei Mate 10. Visually, this doesn't make a whole lot of difference, and Honor has even ported some of EMUI 8's more useful features back to the older software. Apps that don't support 18:9 natively can easily be scaled up to fill the full size of the display. And some messaging apps can (optionally) open messages in a split-screen view if you're watching full-screen video.

The Honor 7X's lock screen has also been tweaked slightly compared with what we've seen on earlier EMUI phones (on both 5.x and 8.0). With the re-tooled lock screen, it's now easier to expand notifications and swipe to unlock. Both changes make for a more polished experience in a part of Android you'll use every day.

Honor 7X

EMUI 5 adapts to a new, taller aspect ratio, with a couple of other feature additions ported from version 8.

Besides that, this is EMUI 5.1 just as we've seen it on a number of phones over the past twelve months. It's an improvement on what came before, with a clean blue-and-white color scheme, but there's still some software weirdness, including icons that don't quite gel with the rest of Android.

However, I do appreciate many of EMUI's many convenient additions , like the one-handed mode, which is easy to activate with a swipe along the software keys. EMUI can also run multiple instances of certain messaging apps, like WeChat, WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger, which is particularly useful in a dual-SIM device, where you might be juggling both work and personal numbers.

We've gone into much more detail on Huawei's EMUI 5 software in our reviews of the Mate 9 and Honor 9, and much of the software experience is unchanged. It's a fast, responsive interface occasionally held back by weird design decisions.

Honor 7X

Dual shooter

Honor 7X Cameras

Around the back, the Honor 7X 16-megapixel main camera with PDAF (phase-detection autofocus) behind an f/2.2 lens, backed up by a 2-megapixel secondary sensor for depth-sensing and portrait mode. (Unlike some Huawei-built phones, the secondary sensor doesn't capture fine details, it just captures depth.)

Not a huge upgrade from the Honor 6X's camera hardware, but the 7X's camera still impresses.

The resolution is upgraded from the 13-megapixel sensor used in the Honor 6X, but besides that, many of the strengths and weaknesses of that camera carry over. There's no OIS (optical image stabilization), so performance can quickly degrade in darker conditions, and hand motion can introduce blurring into photos, even in relatively well-lit shots.

That's even more noticeable in the 7X's new portrait mode, the performance of which quickly tails off in darker conditions.

Honor's excellent post-processing picks up the slack, though, and just like the Honor 6X, a steady hand will be rewarded with surprisingly good-looking shots. In particular, the 7X manages to eke out impressive dynamic range from daylight shots, considering the price of this phone.

Despite the general smudginess of night-time photos from the Honor 7X compared to more expensive models, I've been generally happy with the photo quality from this phone. Don't expect miracles, but also don't expect a camera that's a total afterthought.

Around the front, there's an 8-megapixel setup that's also capable of capturing portrait mode shots — a feature that's only just starting to gain prominence in the Android world. Again, in the context of this phone's price, the selfie camera works pretty well. Noise is generally absent from selfies, though images are much softer than higher-end offerings. (And edge detection can be pretty rough considering the limits of the camera and the processor.)

Honor 7X

Power up

Honor 7X Battery Life

Last year's Honor 6X proved to be a pleasant surprise in terms of battery longevity. And the 7X promises at least decent performance in this area, thanks to the same 3,340mAh internal battery capacity that served its forerunner so well. That's nothing to write home about in the flagship space, it's plenty for a device like the 7X, running lower-powered silicon.

An average battery capacity goes a long way, thanks to efficient innards.

Between an efficient CPU using Cortex-A53 cores and a relatively large battery, the Honor 7X has enough juice to get you through a full day of use. I regularly got solid 16-17 hour days from the phone's battery, with mixed use on LTE and Wi-Fi, and screen-on time in the 4-hour ballpark. The Kirin 659's use of four A53s makes power draw relatively predictable, and I didn't notice any excessive power draw even in intensive tasks like desktop web browsing or gaming.

Unfortunately there's no advanced quick charging solution to be found here, like Huawei's Super Charging, or even 9V quick charging. But the Honor 7X's 5V/2A rapid charging is speedy enough that occasional evening refills aren't too tedious with the bundled 2A plug.

Honor 7X

The bottom line

Should you buy the Honor 7X? Yes

The Honor 7X has flagship looks, but not quite flagship brawn. You'll need to settle for a less powerful CPU, a less capable camera, especially in low light, no NFC, and year-old Android software. Nevertheless, despite these compromises, which were surely necessary to hit the £269.99 price point, the Honor 7X delivers an enjoyable, high-performance Android experience in a chassis that's just as desirable as phones costing twice as much.

You may well notice how much faster, say, a OnePlus 5T is compared to the Honor 7X. But in terms of the construction and overall quality, there's really not much in it at all. And in normal day-to-day use, the 7X's performance is perfectly fine, with no cutting of corners around RAM or internal storage.

Mid-range internals in a high-end chassis makes for a pretty good phone.

Like other Huawei and Honor phones, contending with weird-looking software continues to be a thing. As well as running an old version of Android -- which, to Huawei's credit, is no longer a given for the company's phones -- the Honor 7X's EMUI 5 interface will be jarring to newcomers in the West. It's not as attractive as stock Android, and niggling app compatibility issues remain.

Ultimately, though, a phone at this price is all about balance, and the Honor 7X certainly offers the best balance of any handset I've used in the £250-300 bracket. If you're after a stylish budget phone that doesn't skimp on performance or features, it's absolutely worth a look.

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1 month ago

Best Android Phones with Expandable Storage

Best overall

Samsung Galaxy Note 8

See at Amazon See at Best Buy See at T-Mobile See at Verizon See at AT&T See at Sprint See at Samsung

Samsung's Galaxy Note series is back in style, with an enormous near bezelless display, new S Pen features and Samsung's first dual camera system in a smartphone. The Note 8 takes everything we loved about the Galaxy S8+, including the slick industrial design and futuristic-looking software, and ramps it up further. The display is the best you'll find on any phone, with brightness up to 1200 nits, ensuring visibility even in the most challenging summer conditions.

The Note 8 features everything you'd expect from a modern Samsung phone — water resistance, wireless charging, and 64GB of storage, plus microSD. It's powered by Qualcomm's Snapdragon 835 chip in the U.S., or Samsung's own Exynos equivalent internationally, with a hefty 6GB of RAM for smoother performance.

Bottom line: The Samsung Galaxy Note 8 is just about the most expensive Android phone you can buy right now, but with good reason — it's also one of the very best.

One more thing:If you're buying in the U.S., you'll miss out on some of the more exotic color options, like blue and gold. (In Europe, you'll have black and gold to choose from.)

Why the Galaxy Note 8 is the best

A gorgeous phone loaded with features, and top-notch performance.

The enormous screen size (and equally sizeable price) won't be for everyone, but the Galaxy Note 8 delivers expandable storage and top-tier performance, speedy software and impressive features in a phenomenal hardware chassis. This is a phone which excels at everything it does, despite some concerns over the placement of that rear-mounted fingerprint scanner.

That the Note's slightly wonky biometrics stand out as a major criticism just shows how great the rest of the phone is. Samsung's symmetrical metal and glass design language has reached new heights this year, and the company's SuperAMOLED "Infinity Display" provides an enormous 6.3 inches of display realestate in a handset that's still (just about) pocketable.

There's 64GB of space built in, but that SD slot will ensure your Note 8 should never run out of space for photos, videos and music.

Best smaller phone

Samsung Galaxy S8

See at Verizon See at AT&T See at T-Mobile See at Sprint See at Best Buy

The Galaxy S8 is the best-looking small Android phone out there. With a 5.8-inch screen inside a small physical body, the S8 is all screen. On the inside, it has the same core internals as the Note 8, only with 4GB of RAM and only one rear camera. (The same main camera as its S Pen-toting brethren.)

Yes the fingerprint sensor is slightly awkward to use, but the GS8's iris scanner is dramatically improved to make up for it. And it only takes one look at the industry-leading display to start to forgive Samsung's decisions on the back.

Though its software can be a little overwhelming to novices, you can't argue that Samsung continues to pack in hundreds of features to a single phone, making sure there's something in here for everyone's needs. Samsung continues to take this approach of offering more more more with just a few compromises — and it continues to work.

Bottom line: If you don't want to deal with the added size or expense of a Note 8, the GS8 gives you almost all the features of the larger model in a smaller package, for less dough.

One more thing: Want a bigger battery and an almost-Note-8-level screen? You'll want to check out the Galaxy S8+.

Other great alternatives

Here's the thing about microSD slots in Android phones: They're not exactly a rarity. In fact, the majority of our favorite flagships from the past year have included expandable storage. A few great, recent examples include:

The mid-range option

LG G6

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

LG's high-end offering from earlier in 2017 now firmly fits into the "mid-range" category — meaning it doesn't perform quite at the level of some of the others on this list, but it is possible to track down a G6 for considerably less than its higher-end rivals.

The features a tall yet ergonomic 18:9 aspect ratio, and it's powered by the still-capable Snapdragon 821 processor, and 4GB of RAM. All that technology is wrapped up in a sturdy metal and glass design that's both functional and beautiful.

Bottom line: The LG G6 is a solid all-rounder with capable cameras, and a hand-friendly 5.7-inch display, thanks to its 18:9 aspect ratio.

One more thing: Depending on which country you buy in, your G6's feature set may differ. In the U.S. it comes with wireless charging. In Asia it comes with a Quad DAC for better wired audio. (In Europe, you get neither. Womp womp.)

Best budget pick

Honor 7X

With a premium anodized aluminum chassis and dual cameras at the back, the Honor 7X doesn't feel like a budget phone. The internal hardware is also surprisingly good, with the phone featuring a 14nm Kirin 659 SoC, 4GB of RAM, 64GB storage, and a 3340mAh battery. The 6-inch Full HD+ display is one of the best in this segment, and the first at this price point to boast the new 18:9 aspect ratio. The main 16MP camera at the back is joined by a 2MP secondary sensor that adds depth information to images, giving you an optional a bokeh effect.

The Honor 7X has a hybrid dual-SIM card slot, which means that the secondary SIM card slot doubles up as a microSD slot. And in 2018 it'll be upgradeable to Android Oreo too!

Bottom line: The Honor 7X offers a lot of value for its relatively low price tag.

One more thing: Like other Huawei phones sold in the U.S., the Honor 7X will not work on Verizon or Sprint.

Conclusion

If you want a phone that has expandable storage, the Samsung Galaxy Note 8 is still your best option. Sure, it's expensive, but the Note 8 boasts top-of-the-line hardware, a stunning metal and glass design, and two of the best cameras in this space. Water resistance and fast wireless charging make it an even more compelling choice. Add all that and throw in a microSD slot that supports up to 256GB of expandable storage and it's easy to see why the Galaxy Note 8 is the most feature-rich Android phone around.

Best overall

Samsung Galaxy Note 8

See at Amazon See at Best Buy See at T-Mobile See at Verizon See at AT&T See at Sprint See at Samsung

Samsung's Galaxy Note series is back in style, with an enormous near bezelless display, new S Pen features and Samsung's first dual camera system in a smartphone. The Note 8 takes everything we loved about the Galaxy S8+, including the slick industrial design and futuristic-looking software, and ramps it up further. The display is the best you'll find on any phone, with brightness up to 1200 nits ensuring visibility even in the most challenging summer conditions.

The Note 8 features everything you'd expect from a modern Samsung phone — water resistance, wireless charging, and 64GB of storage, plus microSD. It's powered by Qualcomm's Snapdragon 835 chip in the U.S., or Samsung's own Exynos equivalent internationally, with a hefty 6GB of RAM for smoother performance.

Bottom line: The Samsung Galaxy Note 8 is just about the most expensive Android phone you can buy right now, but with good reason — it's also one of the very best.

One more thing:If you're buying in the U.S., you'll miss out on some of the more exotic color options, like blue and gold. (In Europe, you'll have black and gold to choose from.)

Update, December 2017: The Note 8 still reigns supreme, and we've updated our entry-level pick to the new Honor 7X.

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1 month ago

OnePlus 5T India review: Hitting all the right notes

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OnePlus 5T India review

The OnePlus 5T builds on the strengths of the OnePlus 5 while introducing a gorgeous new display and low-light camera.

OnePlus is doing rather well in India. The Chinese manufacturer racked up a market share of over 28% in the premium segment, a 16% surge in the space of a few quarters. A healthy interest in the OnePlus 5 was a major contributor to the uptick in market share, with the device by itself accounting for 24.75% of the market share in the premium category.

Of course, OnePlus didn't have much competition in this segment when it launched the OnePlus 5 in the country earlier this year. Xiaomi missed out on a huge opportunity by not bringing the Mi 6 to India, and with the Moto Z2 Play fielding largely unchanged hardware, there weren't a lot of phones that went toe-to-toe with OnePlus' offering regarding sheer performance.

That has changed in recent months, with the introduction of the Mi Mix 2 and the Nokia 8. Both phones are powered by the Snapdragon 835 and offer exciting features — a bezel-less frame in case of the Mi Mix 2 and classic industrial design with the Nokia 8 — that make them viable contenders in this space.

OnePlus hasn't been sitting on its laurels either. With the OnePlus 5T, the company is finally making the switch to an all-screen front, and there's a brand-new secondary camera that's designed to improve low-light photography.

The phone is launching just five months after the debut of the OnePlus 5, and given that we've seen the same last year with the OnePlus 3/3T, it's safe to assume that OnePlus will be sticking to a two-phone release cycle going forward. For what it's worth, the company is calling the 5T an upgraded variant of the OnePlus 5. Let's find out if it fits that bill.

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1 month ago

Wireless Charging 201: What Modern Dad (and family) is using!

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How wireless charging brought my family — or at least our phones — just a little bit closer.

This is the second of a series of three videos sponsored by the Wireless Power Consortium (which really does have one of the coolest names in the business). Previously, we took a high-level look at wireless charging. Coming up next: wireless charging on the go.

Wireless charging is (yet another) one of those things that I've been able to do for a long time, but something that my family had never gotten to use. Just another one of Dad's crazy nerd things. We've come a long way in the past seven or so years — when I can first recall plopping a phone down on a charger, without having to plug anything into my device first. For one, we've settled on a standard — Qi. That's a big deal, and it's something we'd all been waiting to be sussed out. And we now have more phones with wireless charging than ever before. Samsung's all over it. LG's latest do it. And finally the iPhone 8 and iPhone X have adopted Qi charging.

Read more on Qi charging at the Wireless Power Consortium!

And there are more (and better) charging pads than ever before. We can charge faster. We can hide them away inside furniture, or at least make them look far less industrial than in years past. And because my entire family can now take advantage of wireless charging, I've strategically stashed a few chargers throughout the home.

The biggest change for us is that phones no longer live in our bedrooms overnight. No more soft glow right next to my head. No more notifications. No more buzzing.

Instead, we've got a dedicated wireless charging area for our phones out in the living room. It works great. It looks pretty darn good, too, and it gets rid of that kind of stressful tension you get when your phone is right next to your pillow. (If you haven't tried moving your phone away from where you sleep, I highly recommend it.)

And we've also got convenience charging in the kitchen, making it easy to stay topped off while making our way through a recipe.

Here's what we're using in our house. If you've got something we should take a look at, let us know in the comments!

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Wireless Charging #QiPower

What I'm using

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1 month ago

Marc's Favorite Things of 2017

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Marc's Favorite Things of 2017

2017 was a great year — I got to test out a bunch of great gear and play some outstanding games with friends. With the holiday shopping season fast approaching (I do most of mine on Christmas Eve), you might still be trying to figure out what to get for that tech lover on your list — or looking for a sweet gift to give yourself. I'm here to help with my favorite things of 2017.

Samsung Galaxy S8

The Google Pixel was my favorite phone of 2016 and I was pretty sure I was over Samsung phones. I wasn't overly impressed with the Samsung Galaxy S8 unveiling, and yet the very first moment I held one in my hand it was like "WOW". The Galaxy S8 set the smartphone trends for 2017 — small bezels and that gorgeous curved-corner display — while still managing to squeeze a headphone jack in there. Hallelujah!

With the sexiest screen you ever done seen and top-end specs to enjoy all your streaming and gaming desires, the Galaxy S8 is an easy phone to recommend heading into 2018 and beyond. PROTIP: Snag a RhinoShield Bumper Guard for just $25 and keep your phone well protected without covering up that sweet design.

From $633 Buy Now

EcoFlow River

The EcoFlow River is a mobile power pack that over-delivers with its specs and is easily the coolest tech accessory I tested in 2017. Featuring 11 different ports that include two AC outlets on the back and an array of USB ports on the front (two standard USB, two Quick Charge USB, and two USB-C), you'll be able to keep all your devices charged no matter where you are in the world. Keep all your friends' phones charged at your music festival campsite or play your own tunes on an electric guitar in the middle of a forest — the EcoFlow River opens up a whole new world of possibilities.

$599 Buy Now

Cuphead

Cuphead straight up stole my heart in 2017. In a gaming industry dominated by first-person shooters and gorgeous action-adventure games, along comes a game like Cuphead that combines tough-as-nails platforming action with the most gorgeous, hand-drawn animation so that it literally feels like you're playing a 1930's cartoon complete with an incredible jazz soundtrack. There was so much hype surrounding this game and it managed to totally live up to it all and then some. Available on Steam and Xbox One/Windows 10 for just $20, it's my must-own game of 2017.

$20 Buy Now

Anker SoundCore 2

There's a ton of options out there for portable Bluetooth speakers, but the Anker SoundCore 2 is the one I've been recommending to all my friends and family. It's got a massive battery that'll power your tunes for up to 24 hours, and the sound quality is quite impressive for its compact size. It's water resistant and pairs quick and easy with any phone. At just $32, it's a great gift for any music lover on your list.

$32 Buy Now

Eufy BodySense Smart Scale

I started focusing on my personal health more in 2017, and no piece of tech helped me get a better grasp on my overall health and wellness than the Eufy BodySense Smart Scale. It's quick and easy to set up and instantly tracks your weight, body fat percentage, muscle mass and much more every time you step onto the scale in the morning. so you can review all your data and track your progress no matter your wellness goals.

$50 Buy Now

Pandemic Legacy (Seasons 1 + 2)

We live in troubled times, so what better form of escapism than playing an epic tabletop board game where your goal is to prevent the world from slipping off the brink of annihilation? Pandemic Legacy has been responsible for some of the most incredible and intense moments I've ever experienced playing a board game. Season One was an absolute barnburner, and Season Two is shaping up to be just as twist-filled and suspenseful. It's a great gift for any board game nerds on your shopping list this season.

$56 Buy Now

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text-align: center; } #ctBoc .article-body-wrap .ggsub p:last-of-type, #ctBoc .article .ggsub p:last-of-type { bottom: 25px; color: #363636; display: block; font-size: 32px; left: 50%; margin: 0 auto; position: absolute; text-align: center; transform: translate(-50%,0); width: calc(100% - 40px); } #ctBoc .article-body-wrap .ggsub a.cta.shop, #ctBoc .article .ggsub a.cta.shop { font: 18px "geomanist-medium",Helvetica,Arial,sans-serif; margin: 0 0 20px 5px; padding: 15px 25px; text-transform: uppercase; vertical-align: 7px; } #ctBoc .article-body-wrap .ggsub a.cta.shop:before, #ctBoc .article .ggsub a.cta.shop:before { display: none; } /* Odd Number End Subs */ @media all and (min-width: 801px) { #ctBoc .article-body-wrap .ggsubs > .ggsub:last-of-type:nth-of-type(odd), #ctBoc .article .ggsubs > .ggsub:last-of-type:nth-of-type(odd) { padding-left: 50%; } #ctBoc .article-body-wrap .ggsubs > .ggsub:last-of-type:nth-of-type(odd) p:first-of-type, #ctBoc .article .ggsubs > .ggsub:last-of-type:nth-of-type(odd) p:first-of-type { position: absolute; height: 100%; left: 0; padding-bottom: 0; top: 0; width: 50%; } #ctBoc .article-body-wrap .ggsubs > .ggsub:last-of-type:nth-of-type(odd) p:last-of-type, #ctBoc .article .ggsubs > .ggsub:last-of-type:nth-of-type(odd) p:last-of-type { left: calc(75% + 10px); } } @media all and (max-width: 1240px) { #ctBoc .article-body-wrap .ggsub p:first-of-type, #ctBoc .article .ggsub p:first-of-type { height: calc(50vw - 60px); } } @media all and (max-width: 800px) { #ctBoc .article-body-wrap .container:not(.expando) .ggsub, #ctBoc .article .article-body__section:not(.expando) .ggsub { flex: 1 1 100%; padding-bottom: 20px; } #ctBoc .article-body-wrap .container:not(.expando) .ggsub p:first-of-type, #ctBoc .article .article-body__section:not(.expando) .ggsub p:first-of-type { height: calc(66vw - 40px); } #ctBoc .article-body-wrap .container:not(.expando) .ggsub p:last-of-type, #ctBoc .article .article-body__section:not(.expando) .ggsub p:last-of-type { bottom: auto; left: auto; position: relative; transform: none; } } @media all and (max-width: 600px) { #ctBoc .article-body-wrap .ggsub, #ctBoc .article .ggsub { margin: 10px; } #ctBoc .article-body-wrap .ggsub h2, #ctBoc .article .ggsub h2 { margin: 30px 30px 20px; } #ctBoc .article-body-wrap .ggsub h2 + p, #ctBoc .article .ggsub h2 + p { margin: 20px 30px 30px; } } /* EXPANDOPRESTO */ #ctBoc .article-body-wrap .narrow.expando, #ctBoc .article .narrow.expando { max-width: 1200px; overflow: hidden; } #ctBoc .article-body-wrap .expando input, #ctBoc .article .expando input { cursor: pointer; display: table; height: 60px; left: 50%; opacity: 0; position: absolute; top: 0; transform: translate(-50%,0); width: 350px; z-index: 1; } #ctBoc .article-body-wrap .expando input + p, #ctBoc .article .expando input + p { display: table; height: 60px; margin: 0 auto; position: relative; transition: 1s; } #ctBoc .article-body-wrap .expando input + p:before, #ctBoc .article-body-wrap .expando input + p:after, #ctBoc .article .expando input + p:before, #ctBoc .article .expando input + p:after { bottom: 0; border: 2px solid; border-radius: 50%; content: "|"; font-size: 20px; height: 30px; left: 50%; line-height: 32.5px; position: absolute; text-align: center; transform: translate(-50%,0); transition: 1s; width: 30px; } #ctBoc .article-body-wrap .expando input + p:before, #ctBoc .article .expando input + p:before { border-color: transparent; transform: translate(-50%,0) rotate(90deg); } #ctBoc .article-body-wrap .expando input ~ .expander, #ctBoc .article .expando input ~ .expander { display: flex; max-height: 0px; transition: 2s; } #ctBoc .article-body-wrap .expando input:checked + p, #ctBoc .article .expando input:checked + p { margin-top: -25px; } #ctBoc .article-body-wrap .expando input:checked + p:before, #ctBoc .article-body-wrap .expando input:checked + p:after, #ctBoc .article .expando input:checked + p:before, #ctBoc .article .expando input:checked + p:after { line-height: 31px; } #ctBoc .article-body-wrap .expando input:checked + p:before, #ctBoc .article .expando input:checked + p:before { transform: translate(-50%,0) rotate(-45deg); } #ctBoc .article-body-wrap .expando input:checked + p:after, #ctBoc .article .expando input:checked + p:after { transform: translate(-50%,0) rotate(045deg); } #ctBoc .article-body-wrap .expando input:checked ~ .expander, #ctBoc .article .expando input:checked ~ .expander { max-height: 10000px; transition: 5s; } #ctBoc .article-body-wrap .expander, #ctBoc .article .expander { display: flex; flex-wrap: wrap; } /* Expansion blocks */ #ctBoc .article-body-wrap .expando .ggsub, #ctBoc .article .expando .ggsub { padding-bottom: 60px; } #ctBoc .article-body-wrap .expando .ggsub p:first-of-type, #ctBoc .article .expando .ggsub p:first-of-type { padding-bottom: 66%; } #ctBoc .article-body-wrap .expando .ggsub h2, #ctBoc .article .expando .ggsub h2 { font-size: 200%; margin: 30px; } #ctBoc .article-body-wrap .expando .ggsub h2 + p:not(:last-of-type), #ctBoc .article .expando .ggsub h2 + p:not(:last-of-type) { display: none; } #ctBoc .article-body-wrap .expando .ggsub p:last-of-type, #ctBoc .article .expando .ggsub p:last-of-type { bottom: 5px; font-size: 200%; } #ctBoc .article-body-wrap .expando .ggsub a.cta.shop, #ctBoc .article .expando .ggsub a.cta.shop { font-size: 55%; vertical-align: 4px; } #ctBoc .article-body-wrap .expander > ul, #ctBoc .article .expander > ul { column-count: 2; column-gap: 40px; margin: 20px auto; max-width: 800px } #ctBoc .article-body-wrap .expander > ul li, #ctBoc .article .expander > ul li { padding: 20px 0 0; } #ctBoc .article-body-wrap .expander > ul li:before, #ctBoc .article .expander > ul li:before { display: none; } #ctBoc .article-body-wrap .expander > ul li a, #ctBoc .article .expander > ul li a { color: #484848; } #ctBoc .article-body-wrap .expander > ul li a:hover, #ctBoc .article .expander > ul li a:hover { color: #72b825; text-decoration: underline; } @media all and (min-width: 1201px) { #ctBoc .article-body-wrap .expando .ggsub, #ctBoc .article .expando .ggsub { width: calc(25% - 40px); } #ctBoc .article-body-wrap .expando .ggsub:first-of-type:nth-last-of-type(4n+3):nth-last-of-type(n+3), #ctBoc .article-body-wrap .expando .ggsub:first-of-type:nth-last-of-type(4n+3):nth-last-of-type(n+3) ~ .ggsub:nth-of-type(-n+3), #ctBoc .article-body-wrap .expando .ggsub:first-of-type:nth-last-of-type(4n+2):nth-last-of-type(n+6), #ctBoc .article-body-wrap .expando .ggsub:first-of-type:nth-last-of-type(4n+2):nth-last-of-type(n+6) ~ .ggsub:nth-of-type(-n+6), #ctBoc .article-body-wrap .expando .ggsub:first-of-type:nth-last-of-type(4n+1):nth-last-of-type(n+9), #ctBoc .article-body-wrap .expando .ggsub:first-of-type:nth-last-of-type(4n+1):nth-last-of-type(n+9) ~ .ggsub:nth-of-type(-n+9), #ctBoc .article-body-wrap .expando .ggsub:nth-of-type(3):nth-last-of-type(3), #ctBoc .article-body-wrap .expando .ggsub:nth-of-type(3):nth-last-of-type(3) ~ .ggsub, #ctBoc .article-body-wrap .expando .ggsub:first-of-type:nth-last-of-type(3), #ctBoc .article-body-wrap .expando .ggsub:first-of-type:nth-last-of-type(3) ~ .ggsub, #ctBoc .article .expando .ggsub:first-of-type:nth-last-of-type(4n+3):nth-last-of-type(n+3), #ctBoc .article .expando .ggsub:first-of-type:nth-last-of-type(4n+3):nth-last-of-type(n+3) ~ .ggsub:nth-of-type(-n+3), #ctBoc .article .expando .ggsub:first-of-type:nth-last-of-type(4n+2):nth-last-of-type(n+6), #ctBoc .article .expando .ggsub:first-of-type:nth-last-of-type(4n+2):nth-last-of-type(n+6) ~ .ggsub:nth-of-type(-n+6), #ctBoc .article .expando .ggsub:first-of-type:nth-last-of-type(4n+1):nth-last-of-type(n+9), #ctBoc .article .expando .ggsub:first-of-type:nth-last-of-type(4n+1):nth-last-of-type(n+9) ~ .ggsub:nth-of-type(-n+9), #ctBoc .article .expando .ggsub:nth-of-type(3):nth-last-of-type(3), #ctBoc .article .expando .ggsub:nth-of-type(3):nth-last-of-type(3) ~ .ggsub, #ctBoc .article .expando .ggsub:first-of-type:nth-last-of-type(3), #ctBoc .article .expando .ggsub:first-of-type:nth-last-of-type(3) ~ .ggsub { width: calc(100% / 3 - 40px); } #ctBoc .article-body-wrap .expando .ggsub:first-of-type:nth-last-of-type(5), #ctBoc .article-body-wrap .expando .ggsub:first-of-type:nth-last-of-type(5) + .ggsub, #ctBoc .article-body-wrap .expando .ggsub:first-of-type:nth-last-of-type(2), #ctBoc .article-body-wrap .expando .ggsub:first-of-type:nth-last-of-type(2) + .ggsub, #ctBoc .article .expando .ggsub:first-of-type:nth-last-of-type(5), #ctBoc .article .expando .ggsub:first-of-type:nth-last-of-type(5) + .ggsub, #ctBoc .article .expando .ggsub:first-of-type:nth-last-of-type(2), #ctBoc .article .expando .ggsub:first-of-type:nth-last-of-type(2) + .ggsub { width: calc(50% - 40px); } } @media all and (max-width: 1200px) and (min-width: 801px) { #ctBoc .article-body-wrap .expando .ggsub, #ctBoc .article .expando .ggsub { width: calc(100% / 3 - 40px); } #ctBoc .article-body-wrap .expando .ggsub:first-of-type:nth-last-of-type(3n+2):nth-last-of-type(n+2), #ctBoc .article-body-wrap .expando .ggsub:first-of-type:nth-last-of-type(3n+2):nth-last-of-type(n+2) ~ .ggsub:nth-of-type(-n+2), #ctBoc .article-body-wrap .expando .ggsub:first-of-type:nth-last-of-type(3n+1):nth-last-of-type(n+1), #ctBoc .article-body-wrap .expando .ggsub:first-of-type:nth-last-of-type(3n+1):nth-last-of-type(n+1) ~ .ggsub:nth-of-type(-n+4), #ctBoc .article-body-wrap .expando .ggsub:first-of-type:nth-last-of-type(2), #ctBoc .article-body-wrap .expando .ggsub:first-of-type:nth-last-of-type(2) + .ggsub, #ctBoc .article .expando .ggsub:first-of-type:nth-last-of-type(3n+2):nth-last-of-type(n+2), #ctBoc .article .expando .ggsub:first-of-type:nth-last-of-type(3n+2):nth-last-of-type(n+2) ~ .ggsub:nth-of-type(-n+2), #ctBoc .article .expando .ggsub:first-of-type:nth-last-of-type(3n+1):nth-last-of-type(n+1), #ctBoc .article .expando .ggsub:first-of-type:nth-last-of-type(3n+1):nth-last-of-type(n+1) ~ .ggsub:nth-of-type(-n+4), #ctBoc .article .expando .ggsub:first-of-type:nth-last-of-type(2), #ctBoc .article .expando .ggsub:first-of-type:nth-last-of-type(2) + .ggsub { width: calc(50% - 40px); } } @media all and (max-width: 800px) { #ctBoc .article-body-wrap .expando .ggsub, #ctBoc .article .expando .ggsub { width: calc(50% - 40px); } #ctBoc .article-body-wrap .expando .ggsub:last-of-type:nth-of-type(odd), #ctBoc .article .expando .ggsub:last-of-type:nth-of-type(odd) { padding-left: 50%; width: calc(100% - 40px); } #ctBoc .article-body-wrap .expando .ggsub:last-of-type:nth-of-type(odd) p:first-of-type, #ctBoc .article .expando .ggsub:last-of-type:nth-of-type(odd) p:first-of-type { position: absolute; height: 100%; left: 0; padding-bottom: 0; top: 0; width: 50%; } #ctBoc .article-body-wrap .expando .ggsub:last-of-type:nth-of-type(odd) p:last-of-type, #ctBoc .article .expando .ggsub:last-of-type:nth-of-type(odd) p:last-of-type { left: calc(75% + 10px); } } @media all and (max-width: 600px) { #ctBoc .article-body-wrap .expando .ggsub, #ctBoc .article .expando .ggsub { padding-bottom: 70px; width: calc(50% - 20px); } #ctBoc .article-body-wrap .expando .ggsub:last-of-type:nth-of-type(odd), #ctBoc .article .expando .ggsub:last-of-type:nth-of-type(odd) { padding-left: 50%; width: calc(100% - 20px); } #ctBoc .article-body-wrap .expando .ggsub h2, #ctBoc .article .expando .ggsub h2 { font-size: 150%; margin: 10px 20px; } #ctBoc .article-body-wrap .expando .ggsub p:last-of-type, #ctBoc .article .expando .ggsub p:last-of-type { font-size: 175%; } #ctBoc .article-body-wrap .expando .ggsub a.cta.shop, #ctBoc .article .expando .ggsub a.cta.shop { font-size: 66%; padding: 10px 15px; vertical-align: 2px; } #ctBoc .article-body-wrap .expando .ggsub:last-of-type:nth-of-type(odd), #ctBoc .article .expando .ggsub:last-of-type:nth-of-type(odd) { padding-top: 10px; } #ctBoc .article-body-wrap .expander > ul, #ctBoc .article .expander > ul { column-count: 1; } } @media all and (max-width: 480px) { #ctBoc .article-body-wrap .expando .ggsub p:last-of-type, #ctBoc .article .expando .ggsub p:last-of-type { font-size: 150%; } #ctBoc .article-body-wrap .expando .ggsub a.cta.shop, #ctBoc .article .expando .ggsub a.cta.shop { margin: 0 0 20px; padding: 10px; } } .fb_like_and_share { margin-top: 25px; } /* SEASONAL */ /* body { background: #31334a; } body.im .header__brand, body.im .top-header__brand, body.im .article-body p.ggsite img { filter: brightness(59%) invert(1) sepia(1) hue-rotate(190deg); } body.wp .top-header__brand { filter: invert(1); } #ctBoc .ggtitle h2 { color: #fff; text-shadow: .25vw .25vw #000; } .header, .swiper-container, .recent-posts, #page-top, .recent-posts .topics, .header__navigation-item, .top-header--scrolled .top-header-inner, .nav-drawer__header, .top-header-inner { background: #28293b; color: #fff; } .header__navigation-item a, .header__navigation-item--icon a, .header__navigation-item--icon button, .header__navigation-item--special a, .header__navigation-item--special button, .header__navigation-item--icon a:hover, .header__navigation-item--icon button:hover, .header__navigation-item--special a:hover, .header__navigation-item--special button:hover, .top-header__offer, .top-header__offer a, .top-header__navigation-item a, .top-header__navigation-item button, .top-header--scrolled .top-header__navigation-item a, .top-header--scrolled .top-header__navigation-item button { color: #fff; } #header-navigation-right>ul>li, .header #navigation ul ul, .header #header-navigation-right ul ul { border-color: #684fb4; } #header-navigation-left li, #header-navigation-right>ul>li { border-color: #684fb4 !important; } .header:after, .header #navigation ul li:hover, .header #navigation ul li.active, .header .header-navigation ul>li:hover, .header .header-navigation ul>li.active, .header #header-navigation-right .search.active, .navigation-right .menu ul li:hover a, .navigation-right .menu ul li.hover a, .navigation-right .menu ul li.hover-f a, .header #header-navigation-right ul ul li:hover a, .header #navigation ul ul li:hover a, .top-header__navigation-item a:focus, .top-header__navigation-item a:hover, .top-header__navigation-item button:focus, .top-header__navigation-item button:hover, .top-header__drawer-toggle, .top-header--scrolled .top-header__drawer-toggle, body.cb .header .logo:before { background: #747ba9; color: #fff; } .article-body .ggsite img { filter: sepia(0.5) hue-rotate(190deg); } body.im p.ggsite { background: #31334a; padding: 10px 20px; } #ctBoc a.cta.shop, #ctBoc ul.cta.shop { background-color: #ebde76; border: none; color: #000; } #ctBoc a.cta.shop:hover, #ctBoc ul.cta.shop:hover { background-color: #41d9ff; } #ctBoc .article-body-wrap .gghero.gghero-color-1, #ctBoc .article .gghero.gghero-color-1 { background: #28293b; } #ctBoc .article-body-wrap .gghero.gghero-color-2, #ctBoc .article-body-wrap .gghero.gghero-color-10, #ctBoc .article .gghero.gghero-color-2, #ctBoc .article .gghero.gghero-color-10 { background: #373e59; } #ctBoc .article-body-wrap .gghero.gghero-color-3, #ctBoc .article-body-wrap .gghero.gghero-color-9, #ctBoc .article .gghero.gghero-color-3, #ctBoc .article .gghero.gghero-color-9 { background: #46587a; } #ctBoc .article-body-wrap .gghero.gghero-color-4, #ctBoc .article-body-wrap .gghero.gghero-color-8, #ctBoc .article .gghero.gghero-color-4, #ctBoc .article .gghero.gghero-color-8 { background: #507499; } #ctBoc .article-body-wrap .gghero.gghero-color-5, #ctBoc .article-body-wrap .gghero.gghero-color-7, #ctBoc .article .gghero.gghero-color-5, #ctBoc .article .gghero.gghero-color-7 { background: #5697b8; } #ctBoc .article-body-wrap .gghero.gghero-color-6, #ctBoc .article .gghero.gghero-color-6 { background: #5ac0d7; } */ /* WC Seasonal */ body.wp { background: #ca1878; } body.wp .top-header__brand { filter: invert(1); } .wp #ctBoc .ggtitle h2 { text-shadow: .25vw .25vw #911458; } .wp .header, .wp .swiper-container, .wp .recent-posts, .wp #page-top, .wp .recent-posts .topics, .wp .header__navigation-item, .wp .top-header--scrolled .top-header-inner, .wp .nav-drawer__header, .wp .top-header-inner { background: #732978; color: #fff; } .wp .header__navigation-item a, .wp .header__navigation-item--icon a, .wp .header__navigation-item--icon button, .wp .header__navigation-item--special a, .wp .header__navigation-item--special button, .wp .header__navigation-item--icon a:hover, .wp .header__navigation-item--icon button:hover, .wp .header__navigation-item--special a:hover, .wp .header__navigation-item--special button:hover, .wp .top-header__offer, .wp .top-header__offer a, .wp .top-header__navigation-item a, .wp .top-header__navigation-item button, .wp .top-header--scrolled .top-header__navigation-item a, .wp .top-header--scrolled .top-header__navigation-item button { color: #fff; } .wp #header-navigation-right>ul>li, .wp .header #navigation ul ul, .wp .header #header-navigation-right ul ul { border-color: #684fb4; } .wp #header-navigation-left li, .wp #header-navigation-right>ul>li { border-color: #684fb4 !important; } .wp .header:after, .wp .header #navigation ul li:hover, .wp .header #navigation ul li.active, .wp .header .header-navigation ul>li:hover, .wp .header .header-navigation ul>li.active, .wp .header #header-navigation-right .search.active, .wp .navigation-right .menu ul li:hover a, .wp .navigation-right .menu ul li.hover a, .wp .navigation-right .menu ul li.hover-f a, .wp .header #header-navigation-right ul ul li:hover a, .wp .header #navigation ul ul li:hover a, .wp .top-header__navigation-item a:focus, .wp .top-header__navigation-item a:hover, .wp .top-header__navigation-item button:focus, .wp .top-header__navigation-item button:hover, .wp .top-header__drawer-toggle, .wp .top-header--scrolled .top-header__drawer-toggle { background: #943b73; color: #fff; } .wp .article-body .ggsite img { filter: sepia(0.5) hue-rotate(260deg); } .wp #ctBoc a.cta.shop, .wp #ctBoc ul.cta.shop { background-color: #caa4f1; border: none; color: #000; } .wp #ctBoc a.cta.shop:hover, .wp #ctBoc ul.cta.shop:hover { background-color: #b178e9; color: #fff; opacity: 1; } .wp #ctBoc .article-body-wrap .gghero.gghero-color-1, .wp #ctBoc .article .gghero.gghero-color-1 { background: #943b73; } .wp #ctBoc .article-body-wrap .gghero.gghero-color-2, .wp #ctBoc .article-body-wrap .gghero.gghero-color-10, .wp #ctBoc .article .gghero.gghero-color-2, .wp #ctBoc .article .gghero.gghero-color-10 { background: #a63f82; } .wp #ctBoc .article-body-wrap .gghero.gghero-color-3, .wp #ctBoc .article-body-wrap .gghero.gghero-color-9, .wp #ctBoc .article .gghero.gghero-color-3, .wp #ctBoc .article .gghero.gghero-color-9 { background: #b84290; } .wp #ctBoc .article-body-wrap .gghero.gghero-color-4, .wp #ctBoc .article-body-wrap .gghero.gghero-color-8, .wp #ctBoc .article .gghero.gghero-color-4, .wp #ctBoc .article .gghero.gghero-color-8 { background: #c7449d; 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1 month ago

Best Phone For Seniors

Best overall

Samsung Galaxy S8

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

The Galaxy S8 is one of the most well-rounded phones on the market, and it's a great choice for power users and first-time smartphone owners alike.

From outstanding build quality and a gorgeous design to one of the best cameras on the market, the Galaxy S8 leaves little to be desired, but its long list of features can feel overwhelming to someone who's new to smartphones entirely. Luckily, the Galaxy S8 has an Easy Mode that lowers the bar for people who are transitioning from an older feature phone, or who needs a bit of extra guidance. Samsung also has a number of intuitive accessibility features that go above and beyond the average Android device.

Bottom line: The Galaxy S8 packs everything and the kitchen sink, and includes Easy Mode to make its myriad of features more approachable.

One more thing: Samsung's Easy Mode can be activated from anywhere, but once you get the hang of it, it's also simple to turn off!

Why the Samsung Galaxy S8 is best

The Galaxy S8 is the best phone for seniors because it's the best phone for most people, and has plenty of options for those who need a bit of extra help.

Easy Mode doesn't have to be a negative thing, and Samsung has done a great job making its Android software simple and intuitive. Even without it, the Galaxy S8 is one of the most accessible Android phones, with plenty of ways to make the software more user-friendly.

Features like Always-On display show you notifications even when the phone is off, while wireless charging support means you don't have to fumble for a USB-C cable in the dark.

The Galaxy S8 is also one of the best-selling Android phones on the market, so it's easy to find someone who can help if you can't figure out a certain feature. Finally, even though it's a relatively compact device, the Galaxy S8 manages excellent battery life.

Best for less

LG G6

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

Like the Galaxy S8, the LG G6 is very easy to pick up and begin using. It has a large display in a relatively small body, excellent performance, and great cameras. It also has convenient features like wireless charging and support for microSD expansion.

Also like Samsung's latest, the G6 has an intuitive Easy Mode, enlarging home screen icons and text while simplifying navigation. Its large display also leaves plenty of room for a large keyboard, and its dual cameras around back take fantastic photos. The G6 may be cheaper than the Galaxy S8, but you wouldn't know it by looking at it.

Bottom-line: The LG G6 offers a similar range of features and accessibility as the Galaxy S8, at a much lower price.

One more thing: The price of the G6 fluctuates heavily depending on where you buy it from. At the moment, it's cheapest at Sprint for $480, though there's an Amazon Prime version with ads for even less, totalling at $400.

Best for cheap

Moto G5 Plus

See at Amazon See at Best Buy

You can't do much better than a $230 phone that performs like a much more expensive phone. The Moto G5 Plus combines fast and fluid performance with useful features like Moto Display, all while retaining the simplicity of near-stock Android.

No one makes cheap phones like Motorola, and the company improved every aspect of its Moto G line this year, from the camera to the battery life.

Bottom line: The Moto G5 Plus is an outstanding value with simple software, and it comes unlocked out of the box so you can use it on most carriers around the world.

One more thing: If you don't mind seeing ads from Amazon in your lock screen and notification panel, you can pick up the Prime Exclusive Moto G5 Plus at a $45 discount.

Conclusion

The Galaxy S8 is the best choice for seniors because it is the best choice for most people. Compact, affordable, and extremely easy to use, the phone's Easy Mode is a great example of Samsung broadening the appeal of its phones as they grow more popular.

Best overall

Samsung Galaxy S8

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

The Galaxy S8 is one of the most well-rounded phones on the market, and it's a great choice for power users and first-time smartphone owners alike.

From outstanding build quality and a gorgeous design to one of the best cameras on the market, the Galaxy S8 leaves little to be desired, but its long list of features can feel overwhelming to someone who's new to smartphones entirely. Luckily, the Galaxy S8 has an Easy Mode that lowers the bar for people who are transitioning from an older feature phone, or who needs a bit of extra guidance. Samsung also has a number of intuitive accessibility features that go above and beyond the average Android device.

Bottom line: The Galaxy S8 packs everything and the kitchen sink, and includes Easy Mode to make its myriad of features more approachable.

One more thing: Samsung's Easy Mode can be activated from anywhere, but once you get the hang of it, it's also simple to turn off!

Update, November 2016: The Galaxy S8 is our new best overall recommendation, and the Moto G4 was replaced with the Moto G5 Plus.

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1 month ago

Motorola's releasing a Star Wars Moto Mod, but only in China

8

The force is strong with this Style Shell.

You can do a lot of different things with Moto Mods, but my personal favorite are Motorola's Style Shells. Attaching a projector or 360 camera is cool and all, but being able to change up the look of a phone on the fly is something that appeals to me a lot more.

Motorola already has a great selection of Style Shells to choose from, but in honor of the upcoming Star Wars: The Last Jedi film, the company will be releasing a special Star Wars-themed one.

First spotted by Tech Droider, this Style Shell showcases Darth Vader holding his iconic red lightsaber with the word "Sith" behind him and the Star Wars logo plastered near the bottom. It's an odd choice to showcase Vader rather than one of the newer characters, but that doesn't stop the Style Shell from looking any less awesome.

Motorola will likely launch the Shell in a few weeks as we get closer to the release of The Last Jedi, and when it is available, it should only cost around $20 USD. Unfortunately, just like the special Moto Mods released around the time of Transformers: The Last Knight, this Star Wars one will only be available in China.

For our readers in India, don't forget to check out the even more awesome Star Wars edition of the OnePlus 5T.

Moto Z2 Force

Verizon AT&T T-Mobile Sprint Best Buy

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1 month ago

Best MVNOs that use Verizon's network

8

Verizon MVNOs aren't quite as popular as ones powered by other carriers, but if you know where to look, there are still some solid choices to be found.

The four big wireless service providers in the United States are AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon. Each one has their own unique set of deals and features, but these aren't the only options you have to choose from.

Which unlimited plan should you buy?

Mobile Virtual Network Operators (or MVNOs for short) are other providers that harness the network of the Big Four carriers so you can still choose the one that has the best coverage in your area while having more flexibility over what you spend. If you're in the market for an MVNO that's powered by Verizon, these are the top ones we recommend the most.

Note: No matter which Verizon MVNO you choose, you'll need to have a phone with the following CDMA bands:

  • 3G: 800Mhz (BC0), 1900Mhz (BC1)
  • LTE: 700Mhz (Band 13), 1700/2100Mhz (Band 4), 1900Mhz (Band 2)

Straight Talk

If you live in a town that has a Walmart, it's kind of impossible to not hear a thing or two about Straight Talk Wireless. Straight Talk plans are sold in-stores at Walmart and online, and similar to another pick on this list, it uses the service of all four major carriers to cover as many customers as possible — including Verizon.

There are four unlimited plans to choose from, with the cheapest one costing $35/month for 2GB of 4G LTE. Jumping up to $45/month will give you 10GB of LTE to use, and if you want to go big with the $55/month plan, you'll have unlimited LTE speeds. Also, if you want to be able to talk to friends or family overseas, Straight Talk has an international plan that comes with 10GB of LTE and unlimited calling/texting to Mexico, China, Canada, and India for $60/month.

You can buy a phone directly through Straight Talk, including devices like the Galaxy S8 and iPhone 8, or bring your own and just pop in a SIM card.

See at Straight Talk

Total Wireless

Another great option to consider when looking for Verizon MVNOs is Total Wireless. Plans start out as cheap as $25 for unlimited talking and texting if you don't need any data, but if you're like us, you'll want to spend the extra $10 for the $35/month plan that comes with 5GB of LTE data.

Unlike Straight Talk, Total Wireless has the option of signing up with family plans, and they work out as follows:

  • 2 lines with 15GB of shared data ($60/month)
  • 3 lines with 20GB of shared data ($85/month)
  • 4 lines with 25GB of shared data ($100/month)

Total Wireless lets you add 5GB of Carryover Data for $10 no matter which plan you choose, and with Carryover Data, any that's unused carries over to the next month without any hassle. The most notable phones in Total Wireless's lineup include the Galaxy S6 and iPhone 7, but thankfully, you can just order a SIM card for your own device.

See at Total Wireless

Page Plus Cellular

For our last pick, we recommend checking out Page Plus Cellular. I actually used Page Plus some years back when I used to rely on Big Red's service to communicate with the outside world, and while there's nothing here that's groundbreaking, it's a solid MVNO with some good plans worth checking out.

Page Plus plans start out at just $10/month with automatic billing turned on, and while you'll only get 500 minutes and texts with 100MB of data, it's a dirt cheap option that just may work for some folks that only use their phone here and there for basic communication.

Unlimited plans start out at $36/month with auto-billing, and this includes 3GB of 4G LTE data before being slowed down to 2G. That's 2GB less of LTE speeds compared to what you'll find with Total Wireless's comparable plan, but what's nice with Page Plus is that this also includes unlimited international texting and a $10 credit for international calling.

You can purchase all of Samsung and Apple's biggest phones from the past couple years through Page Plus, or pick up the company's SIM card for your own phone for $0.99.

See at Page Plus

Xfinity Mobile

Xfinity Mobile just launched this past August, and while it's only available for subscribers of Comcast's home internet service, it's a pretty good deal for those that are. Xfinity Mobile comes with unlimited nationwide calling and texting, access to more than 18 million Wi-Fi hotspots, and 100MB of shared monthly data are included by default with your regular Internet plan. If you need more data (which you likely will), you can either pay $12 per 1GB that you use or pay $45/month for unlimited 4G LTE speeds.

Unlike the other MVNOs on this list, Xfinity Mobile doesn't let you bring over your existing phone. All of the big Samsung and Apple devices are here to choose from, including the Galaxy Note 8 and iPhone X, and Xfinity Mobile offers financing to make the devices as affordable as possible.

See at Xfinity Mobile

Your pick

What would you choose if you need Verizon's coverage without having to pay Verizon's prices? Let us know!

Alternative carriers (MVNOS)

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1 month ago

HTC U11+ review: The best phone you can't buy

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HTC U11+

HTC rounds off a turbulent year with an excellent Oreo-powered phablet

The quick take

HTC's new 6-inch phone takes everything we loved about the U11 and augments it with a more up-to-date design, the latest Android software, and a huge battery.

The Good

  • Beautiful glass chassis
  • Fast, up-to-date software
  • Solid camera performance
  • Dependable battery life, even with heavy use

The Bad

  • Incredibly slippery
  • Display lacks the brightness and punch of competitors
  • Design not as svelte as rivals

HTC U11+ Full Review

It's become something of a sad cliche to preface an HTC review with a refresher of the company's current monetary woes, contrasting what have generally been quality products with what has generally been a grim financial performance. Sure, HTC as a company has indeed seen better days, but it still knows how to make great Android phones, as evidenced by the quality of devices like the U11.

Now, as the year draws to a close, there's a new model on the horizon — at least for some of us. The HTC U11+ boasts a larger, taller screen, a souped-up battery, and Android Oreo out of the box. The U11+ won't be launching in the United States, possibly due to lack of carrier interest, possibly thanks to the woeful performance of the U Ultra just nine months ago. In the UK, it's being sold only through HTC's website, with none of the major networks or high street retailers picking up the device. And it's a shame to see such a limited release, because this is a really good phone — perhaps the most competitive HTC handset since the days of the M7 and M8.

Razer Phone

About this review

We're publishing this review after twelve days with an unlocked Asia-model HTC U11+ (2Q4D100). I (Alex Dobie) used the U11+ primarily in Taipei, Taiwan in dual-SIM mode, with a Taiwan Mobile SIM and an EE (UK) SIM roaming on Chunghwa Telecom. I also used it in single-SIM mode (with the TWM SIM only) for two days during this time, in order to judge any performance or battery life differences without the second SIM.

The phone was running software version 1.05.709.12, based on Android 8.0 Oreo, with the October 1, 2017 Android security patch.

HTC U11+ Video Review

Liquid surface

HTC U11+ Hardware

For the HTC faithful, the most notable change in the U11+ is its move to a taller aspect ratio, and with it, a welcome reduction in screen bezels. With its latest flagship, HTC finally joins the 18:9 club, with a display more in keeping with current flagship trends. The front face of the device isn't exactly bezelless — there's still both a forehead and chin to be seen here — but the borders have been trimmed down significantly from older HTC offerings, like the decidedly bezelly (non-Plus) U11. Accordingly, from the front, it no longer looks anywhere near as dated as its forerunners. Were it actually being sold in carrier stores in the West, it wouldn't look entirely out of place alongside a Galaxy S8 or Pixel 2 XL.

Of course, this is still an HTC U phone, and fittingly there's a gorgeous "liquid surface" curved glass panel around the back of the U11+, which is every bit as eye-catching as the other models in this series. This isn't just any old Gorilla Glass 5 panel — HTC uses multiple layers of the substance to give the rear of the U11+ a unique shimmer. I've been using the black version, which has more of a reflective gunmetal finish than the pitch black you might find around the back of a Samsung phone. There's also a blue model, which is more or less identical to the blue U11, and really unique translucent color option that won't be on sale in Europe until 2018.

HTC finally joins the 18:9 club.

HTC has changed more than just the dimensions in its latest phone. There are redesigned brushed aluminum side walls too, which are reminiscent of the old HTC 10, and as a result more angular, and a little easier to hold onto. Despite these design tweaks, this is still a supremely slippery phone. Between the 6-inch display diagonal and the very slick finish of the glass back, you may well want to take advantage of the protective case bundled in the box. And like all glass-backed phones, hairline scratches on the rear of the U11+ are basically an inevitability if you go without any sort of protection.

Incidentally, the taller screen means the fingerprint scanner now lives around the back of the phone, just below the single rear camera, and HTC has also reintroduced on-screen keys to its Android UI. For me, both are welcome changes.

There's a fair amount of heft to the U11+, in terms of both size and weight, but I don't really mind that. The phone feels solid and well-made, and a little more grown-up than the regular U11, which was trying a little too hard to be curvy. Unlike just about every other HTC phone, these extra-large proportions are filled out by an extra-large battery. Personally, I'm absolutely fine carrying a less svelte handset if it means I also get a gigantic battery.

HTC U11+

The extra heft of the U11+ is filled out by an extra-large battery.

The front of the U11+ is featureless except for the earpiece, and a 6-inch SuperLCD 6 display at 2880x1440 resolution. (SuperLCD, like SuperAMOLED, is largely a meaningless marketing term; the "6" just signifies that HTC feels this screen is a generation above that of the regular U11's SuperLCD 5.) These 6-inch, 18:9 panels are increasingly becoming the new normal — the industry seems to be settling on this size as the new go-to standard for larger Android phones, and that's great. It works well on the U11+ just like it does on the Pixel 2 or LG V30 — though with significantly more heft than the LG phone. The panel itself is attractive, if not spectacular. It lacks the awesome daylight visibility of the Samsung Galaxy Note 8, and the punch of OLED in general, but on the whole, it looks good — there are no glaring issues here. The panel is tuned to DCI-P3 by default, but you can monkey with colors in the settings, including tweaking white balance and switching to sRGB mode for more accurate color reproduction.

More: HTC U11+ specs

Under the hood, HTC takes the core specs of the U11+ and layers on a few key upgrades, which means this is another rock-solid Android phone running Qualcomm's proven Snapdragon 835 platform. In the UK, 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage is the standard loadout — in some other places, like Taiwan, there's a 4GB-plus-64GB version as well. (As mentioned above, I've been using the 6+128 version.) The battery jumps to a whopping 3,930mAh, putting it in the same league as the Huawei Mate 10, at least in terms of the numbers. (More on that later.) And the water resistance spec steps up to IP68 from the U11's IP67. Other specs are unchanged — Snapdragon 835, microSD expandability and Quick Charge 3, but no wireless charging.

There's still no headphone jack to be found, which I hate having to deal with in every phone that omits it. But alongside the standard 3.5mm dongle, HTC does include its pretty great USonic noise-canceling earbuds in the box, which impressively dampen background noise whether you're walking down the street, on a busy train carriage, or dealing with turbulence on a long-haul flight. Compared to some manufacturers, I at least feel like there's a decent trade-off for HTC's omission of the increasingly rare 3.5mm jack.

When you're not using earbuds, a U11-style BoomSound Hi-Fi setup, combining the earpiece speaker and a bottom firing woofer, provides about the very best on-device playback outside of the few phones that offer front-facing speakers. Audio quality is about on par with the U11 — reasonably loud, but sometimes lacking in bass. That's fine overall, though perhaps slightly disappointing for some — I do feel like there's probably room for front speakers in this design, particularly given the size of the top and bottom bezels.

HTC U11+

Freshly-baked cookies

HTC U11+ Software

New phones shipping with Oreo are still relatively few and far between, so it's great to see the HTC U11+ arriving with Android 8.0 out of the box. HTC's Sense customisations are still around too, and look mostly the same as on the U11 — as Android "skins" go, this remains a relatively light touch, with most of the underlying design direction appearing to have come from Google.

The most obvious change from earlier Sense versions can be seen on the home screen. New "squircle"-style icons (which I can take or leave) borrow a few visual cues from Samsung's current phones. Other core HTC Sense features remain largely unchanged from the U11. BlinkFeed fills the leftmost home screen panel with news and social updates. And the Sense Home launcher inherits a couple of fashionable features from other phones, letting you swipe up for the app drawer, or down for notifications. (Bafflingly, though, there's no option to swipe the fingerprint scanner to bring down the notification shade.)

HTC's UI combines mostly stock Oreo with one or two differentiating software tricks.

These few changes don't do much to alleviate the general staleness of Sense, however. Many Sense apps haven't changed in years, whether it's the Dialer and Messages apps unchanged from the 2015's One M9, or the weather animations that date all the way back to 2011's Sensation. The combination of Sense-plus-Oreo looks fine and is perfectly pleasant to use, with pastel colors, light accents, and clean lines. But this is far from the overhaul that I think HTC's UI really needs.

HTC has at least built out its squeezy 'Edge Sense' capabilities — the function introduced in the U11, which lets you perform certain actions by squeezing the sides of the phone. More actions in specific apps are now supported, including Google Calendar, Facebook, Instagram and Google Photos. And there's also a way to map specific functions of other apps to a squeeze as well, through a kind of recording function, which tells Android to simulate a tap in a certain area when you squeeze in a particular app. This feels a little clumsy, particularly because it creates complications when you're in landscape mode, but overall it works well enough.

HTC U11+

The new Edge Launcher feature is another Edge Sense addition. Similar to Samsung's Edge Panels, it gives you a couple of wheels of shortcuts, alongside a quick calendar view. Wheels of shortcuts — either apps or quick settings — can be realigned to either edge, accommodating both right-handed users and lefties.

Personally, I've found Edge Sense works pretty well as a quick camera shortcut — it's really helpful to not have to fumble around and double-tap that power button. But I've mostly ignored all the other stuff it can do. In other apps, it's usually easier to just tap the screen, as opposed to adjusting your grip and clumsily squeezing. (I've also noticed fewer instances of blurry shots when I do use Edge Sense to take a photo — the software will wait a second to make sure everything's stable before shooting, which is a welcome improvement from the U11.)

More than nine months on, HTC Sense Companion still isn't anywhere near useful.

At the same time, Sense Companion, which was useless on the U Ultra and useless on the U11, is just as much of a waste of space on the U11+. HTC's on-device AI thing didn't show me a single useful piece of information in a week or so of use. And any utility it might offer is undone by occasional crazy suggestions, like telling me to wake up early for a co-worker's doctor's appointment on another continent, or telling me tomorrow's weather in my home country while I'm traveling overseas. It's tripped up way too often by travel, or shared Google calendars, and should either be given the engineering work it sorely needs, or be scrapped entirely.

HTC's software still has the fundamentals down, though. It's insanely fast — every bit as performant as Google's Pixel phones — and doesn't add too much cruft on top of stock Android. To me, that speed and clarity are worth the one or two superfluous features that I can easily disable.

A few additional software nuggets:

  • HTC Boost+, the company's dubious performance-boosting app, now appears to come with adds enabled by default on the U11+. Not great.
  • HTC's touch response continues to rank among the best on any Android phone.
  • The hacked Google Pixel 2 HDR+ camera app works great on the U11+, about matching the performance of Google's handsets in the challenging situations where it shows.
  • ... But of course as we'll get to later, HTC's own camera app also does a fantastic job on this phone.

HTC U11+

Lots of juice

HTC U11+ Battery Life

The U11+ boasts the kind of battery capacity which basically guarantees you solid longevity. And in its latest phone, HTC takes advantage of an almost 4,000mAh cell ensure a full day between charges, even with heavy use. The only time I needed an evening re-charge was in dual-SIM mode, using the phone continually for YouTube streaming over LTE, occasional music playback and social networking, and a few hours of 4G tethering. With lighter use, you'll manage a day and a half with ease. This isn't really a two-day phone, though. I still feel like Huawei's Mate 10 Pro gets slightly more mileage from a similar sized battery, possibly due to software tuning, or its use of a lower-res OLED display.

I should also point out that I noticed higher than average standby power draw in dual-SIM mode — noticeably more than with other Snapdragon 835 phones. It's possible this was due to the quirks of roaming on a UK SIM on a Taiwanese network. Using the phone in single-SIM mode, with just a Taiwan Mobile SIM installed, produced standby times more in line with dual-SIM contemporaries like the Huawei Mate 10 Pro and OnePlus 5T.

Unsurprisingly, it's really hard to kill off the U11+'s almost 4,000mAh cell in under a day.

When I was really pushing the U11+ in dual-SIM mode, I'd get between 18 and 19 hours per charge, with screen-on times between four and seven hours. As always, it depends on what you're doing.

In any case, if you're caught short, HTC still offers both regular and extreme power-saving modes, the former of which saved my bacon on one occasion, while out recording video after a long day of general use.

When it's time to recharge, the bundled Quick Charge 3 brick will quickly bring you out of the danger zone if you forget to charge overnight, and the phone also supports quick charging over USB-PD. Charging speeds aren't quite up to the level of OnePlus's Dash Charge or Huawei's SuperCharge, but you'll still be able to pull enough power to see you through the day in the time it takes to take a shower and eat a quick breakfast.

HTC U11+

HDR Boost, boosted

HTC U11+ Cameras

The U11+'s main camera packs the exact same hardware found on the standard model — a 12-megapixel Sony sensor with 1.4-micron pixels, and optical stabilization, behind an f/1.7 lens. And like the regular U11, the Plus leans heavily on HTC's HDR Boost technology, which helps it capture more color detail in night shots, and gather more dynamic range from most scenes in general. This is basically, HTC's answer to Google's HDR+ cameras.

Fittingly, HTC's HDR Boost-equipped camera the closest I've seen another manufacturer come to matching the HDR+ features of the Pixel 2. Google is still unchallenged when it comes to noise reduction and extreme low-light photography, thanks to that computational edge. (Google's Panorama mode is also infinitely superior to HTC's, for what that's worth.) Nevertheless, the U11+ is a very close competitor, and for my money, it's essentially a coin toss between the U11+ and the Huawei Mate 10 for the number-two spot.

HTC U11+

Basically, this is the U11's camera with slightly upgraded software.

As a particular point of strength, HTC's camera is superb at pulling lots of color out of night scenes, and pulling more dynamic range out of challenging light in general. And unlike the early days of the U11, the camera no longer tends towards over-exposing darker scenes quite so much. HDR Boost also seems a little quicker than I remember it being on the U11, possibly thanks to software enhancement, or the extra couple gigs of RAM compared to the 4GB U11 I was using earlier in the year.

And although at first I made fun of HTC's ability to take photos with a squeeze of the bezel, I was actually able to capture few unique angles with HTC's squeezy shutter shortcut — shots that would've been almost impossible to capture while reaching for the on-screen shutter key. (See the shot of the cat in the gallery below.)

In every other way, this setup is identical to the camera of the U11. The main thing you don't get here that many competing phones do offer is portrait mode, which may or may not be a big deal for you. Personally, I can live without it. But in the coming year, expect this to become a table-stakes feature for all high-end phone cameras.

HTC U11+

Around the front, an 8-megapixel camera and f/2.0 lens aims to up the U11+'s selfie game, particularly in darker conditions. I've found the results closely match the very similar setup used in the Google Pixel 2, though obviously without that phone's front-facing portrait mode option. Once again, in selfie mode, the U11+'s squeezy shutter shortcut comes into play, allowing for easier captures when contorting your thumb towards the on-screen controls isn't an option.

HTC U11+

The bottom line

Should you buy the HTC U11+? Yes, if you can

The U11+ is almost certainly the flagship HTC should've released six months ago. This phone looks more modern than the regular U11 — and with a bigger battery, higher specs, a sharper design and more fleshed-out Edge Sense options it's way more competitive in the market in general. In the UK, its 699-pound price point — or 629 if you can find it on sale — makes it comfortably more affordable than the Pixel 2 XL, and a genuine competitor to the more widely-ranged Huawei Mate 10 Pro.

The worst thing you can say about the U11+ is that it's yet another excellent phone in a year overflowing with great new Android handsets. It's tough to stand out, and the U11+'s true differentiating features — battery life, software quality and day-to-day performance — don't make for an easy sell.

This is the phone HTC should've released six months ago.

Nevertheless, the U11+ makes the strongest case yet for HTC's continued presence in the smartphone market. For the first time in a while, I feel like HTC kinda has its mojo back — at least on the product side.

Availability is another question altogether, though. If you're in the UK, the only place to buy a U11+ is direct from HTC, and in the U.S., there are no launch plans at all. For that reason, it's unlikely this phone will do much to move the needle for the company.

But assuming you can buy it, the U11+ is a top-notch Oreo-powered flagship with solid construction, a beautiful glass design whether you go mirrored or translucent, and differentiation through clean software, a fantastic camera and dependable battery life. It might not be as exciting as a Note 8 or a Pixel 2 XL, but it's just as worthy of your attention, and your money.

See at HTC

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1 month ago

How's the Pixel 2 treating you after the honeymoon phase?

43

Two months on, the Pixel 2 is still an incredible device.

With each new smartphone release, there's a honeymoon period that begins as soon as you take your new gadget out of its box for the first time. The initial excitement and hype surrounding it can sometimes make it easy to overlook shortcomings that you'll start to notice later on down the road, and this is often what makes or breaks a phone.

It's been two months since Google first announced the Pixel 2, and now that a lot of folks have had multiple weeks to use it, it's possible that thoughts and opinions have changed.

One of our forum users posed the question of what people are liking/disliking about the Pixel 2 now that the honeymoon phase is over, and these are some of the top responses.

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nelamvr6 12-01-2017 09:25 PM “

I haven't had any issues, and I flat out love this phone! It's the best phone I've ever had. I am using the Google Assistant way more than I thought I would, and I'm usually using the Active Edge to summon her. I had Google Assistant on my previous Samsung S6, like all Android phones. But I find the implementation on the Pixel 2 to be way more useful. I also really like the Now Playing...

Reply
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Ca_lvn 12-01-2017 10:04 PM “

Very happy overall with the phone! Lots of Pros no regrets. If I share pictures with somebody or show them pictures im constantly asked what phone that is they're impressed with the clarity of the pics. The assistant is definitely one of my favorites Hopefully a future update will allow my S3 watch to receive calls without creating issues with the phone speaker.

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Orion78 12-01-2017 11:19 PM “

I've had mine since October. 19th. It's basically the first batch that got shipped and no issues like every writer and their mom are posting. I absolutely love this phone. It's fluid and in my opinion the best combo of hardware and software today. Guess what? I actually love the screen. The camera is so great that I have to take pics constantly to believe it's so great lol. It's scary to think...

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djepperson1 12-02-2017 08:20 AM “

this phone has been my favorite phone I've had. I've gone through so many phones over the past couple years each time I get a itch try something new because there is always that one thing that keeps me from keeping it long term. now that I've had the phone I have no itch to get a different phone even in the slightest even with it supposed flaws it's the perfect phone for me. the features I...

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As always, we'd now like to hear from you – Now that the Pixel 2's been out for a hot minute, how are you still liking/disliking the phone?

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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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1 month ago

Xiaomi teases all-screen Redmi 5 and Redmi 5 Plus ahead of launch

3

Xiaomi offers an early look at its upcoming budget phones.

Xiaomi is all set to unveil the Redmi 5 and Redmi 5 Plus in China on December 7, and the company's global spokesperson Donovan Sung‏ has served up an early preview of both devices on Twitter. The upcoming Redmi phones will be the first budget devices from the company to offer all-screen displays with minimal bezels and an 18:9 ratio. Both phones showed up at China's certification authority TENAA last week, giving us an early look at the specs on offer.

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