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2 weeks ago

Xiaomi Redmi Y1 specs: 16MP front camera with LED flash and Snapdragon 435

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The Redmi Y1 brings a great selfie camera to the budget segment.

The Xiaomi Redmi Y1 is now official in India, and like the rest of Xiaomi's offerings, you get great value for your money. The highlight of the phone is a 16MP front camera, which has an LED flash module that lets you take decent selfies in low-light scenarios.

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2 weeks ago

Xiaomi Redmi Y1 with 16MP front camera unveiled in India for ₹8,999

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The Redmi Y1 offers an outstanding selfie camera, and the rest of the hardware isn't all that bad either.

For Xiaomi, the Redmi series is the moneymaker. The manufacturer has focused its attention on the budget segment over the last twelve months, rolling out one hit after another in the Redmi Note 4, Redmi 4A, and the Redmi 4. The Redmi Note 4 turned out to be the best-selling phone in the country this year, followed by the Redmi 4 and the Redmi 4A.

With its latest handset, Xiaomi is looking to keep that momentum going. The Redmi Y1 offers the same great value for money as its siblings, but the defining characteristic of the phone is a 16MP front camera with LED flash. The camera is touted to be one of the best in this segment, and Xiaomi is confident enough in the phone's abilities that it is branching out the device into its own sub-brand in the Redmi series.

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2 weeks ago

HTC U11+ hands-on preview: More screen, more battery, translucent body

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HTC U11+

HTC has a new phone with a giant battery, an 18:9 screen and Android Oreo. But you won't be able to buy it in the U.S.

2017 has been the year of the 18:9 smartphone. Increasingly, Android phones with "traditional" widescreen displays have started to look seriously old-hat. One notable victim of 16:9 ennui this past year was the HTC U11 — a high-end device that did almost everything really well, but which, from the front, looked remarkably dated next to the latest creations from Samsung. The technology and feature set was all there, but the GS8-like excitement was lacking.

So in a somewhat surprising move, HTC kicks off November with a new flagship phone launch. It's the Taiwanese company's biggest smartphone screen to date, in that trendy 18:9 aspect ratio, paired with its biggest battery to date, encased in hardware that finally feels as polished and modern as the One M7 and M8 did back in the glory days.

And yet, being an HTC phone with no current U.S. launch plans and a scaled-back UK presence involving zero British carriers, it's unclear whether the U11+ will be able to move the needle much, if at all.

Physically, the HTC U11+ is a slimmer, elongated, slightly flattened U11. It's noticeably taller, a bit less curvy, and slightly easier to hold onto than its forerunner, despite the move to lankier 6-inch, 18:9 chassis.

Around the front, it's pretty much all screen — a SuperLCD 6 panel that looked phenomenal in the hour or so I got to play with the device. It's sufficiently bright, punchy and sharp, with a Quad HD+ resolution and colors that appear just as vibrant as the U11's. And with significantly trimmed bezels compared to that phone, the front face is more forward-looking.

HTC U11+

It has the look of a standard 2017 flagship, which is good, if not particularly outstanding.

The new svelte bezels also necessitate the relocation of the fingerprint scanner around the back of the phone, where we've seen it used time and time again to great effect.

As for the side walls, newly chamfered borders make the U11+ far easier to hold onto than the older model. The feel is more HTC 10 than U11 — at least around the sides.

The back panel, however, is very much in line with HTC's current design language. The generally well-received "liquid surface" finish returns in a couple of colors. Firstly, there's an incredibly shiny, almost mirrored black finish. It's somewhere between the black U11 and Sony's ridiculously reflective XZ Premium.

The translucent U11+ is a truly unique and undeniably cool piece of hardware.

But the version that really caught our eye was the translucent model, which retains some of the subtle reflectiveness of other U-series phones, while also providing a window into the phone's internal hardware. The most noticeable feature is the NFC antenna, located right by the HTC logo, and which actually becomes an unconventional design feature. Look more closely, especially around the top of the device, and bits of PCB come into focus around the camera module and mainboard.

HTC U11+

It's nerdy, sure, but it's one of those rare glimmers of brilliance that reminds us that HTC is still HTC. I had the same feeling about the fiery red U11 when I first saw that back in early May. And while this is far less ostentatious, it's unique, aesthetically pleasing, and just damn cool. The internals of the phone themselves become points of visual differentiation.

HTC is playing its cards close to its chest in terms of European launch plans for the translucent color variant. I'd imagine Taiwan (and possibly other parts of Asia) would get it at launch, but the safer black model is likely to be more readily available in the West.

HTC U11+

The spec sheet is almost a mirror image of the U11's, with a few small but significant exceptions. The screen size and resolution, naturally, jump to 6 inches at 2880x1440. There's a way bigger battery, with a capacity of 3930mAh basically guaranteeing all-day use, and even a second day if you're careful. And the U11+ also boasts Android 8.0 Oreo out of the box, augmented by HTC's Sense software, which has grown one or two new tricks in this latest phone.

Storage and RAM comes in 4GB/64GB and 6GB/128GB configurations, and this time — finally — the UK will be getting the higher-specced model.

More: HTC U11+ specs

The core of the device remains unchanged from the standard U11 released earlier in 2017.

Key U11 features like Edge Sense — the feature where you can squeeze the phone's bezels to activate Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa, take a photo or perform other actions — also returns, with a minor software overhaul we'll get to later. Same with BoomSound Hi-Fi — HTC's on-device audio solution — and HTC USonic, the USB-C-based wired audio package. I'll still bemoan the lack of a 3.5mm headphone jack, but at least with a larger battery onboard you're less likely to need to use wired audio and your charger at the same time.

The U11's excellent "UltraPixel 3" camera makes a return too — that's a good thing, as it's easily one of the best Android cameras on the market right now, coming close to the quality we've seen from the Google Pixel 2 XL. (Thanks in part to the always-on "HDR Boost," HTC's answer to Google's HDR+.). Meanwhile, the front camera has been downscaled to an 8-megapixel resolution, but with a larger physical sensor, which should improve low-light performance.

We'll dive deeper into the U11+'s camera in our full review, but first impressions are that little has changed.

The U11+ will be the first phone to run HTC Sense and Android 8.0 Oreo, and HTC's UI has undergone some small tweaks to bring it in line with the new version of the OS. Some of these are small cosmetic tweaks, like the move to "squircle" (squared circle) icons for many apps in the launcher, or the lighter notification shade and Settings app.

Oreo marks an evolution in Sense's design, not an overhaul.

There are other, more functional, changes too, most notably the new rotary menu that pops up when you squeeze the phone at the home screen. Two wheels of app and setting shortcuts pop up, and these can be anchored to either side of the display for easier one-handability.

This whole setup is reminiscent of Samsung's Edge Panels, which is to say it seems like a feature that'll be occasionally useful, but far from a revolutionary addition.

In a meeting ahead of today's announcement, HTC noted that the software we were shown wasn't yet finalized, and we weren't able to show any of the phone's software besides the home screen and navigation wheel. In any case, if you're familiar with the U11's software, you'll pretty much know what to expect here. The core Sense apps are still overdue a visual overhaul, and it's somewhat jarring to see apps that have barely changed since 2014 alongside newer UI elements from Oreo.

HTC U11+

The U11+ is competitively priced in the UK, but there's no word on carriers.

The HTC U11+ feels like a substantial step up from the U11, but many of the changes are admittedly fairly superficial. From the front, it now looks like a phone that belongs on store shelves in 2017. Yet ironically, it's stuck with a geographically limited release and a lack of carrier support. So even in the select countries it's coming to, like the UK, you'll need to buy it from HTC directly. The phone gets a lot right, but HTC's business challenges are still sizeable obstacles for this handset.

So yeah — the HTC U11+ won't be coming to the United States anytime soon, but in Europe it'll sell for £699, which gets you the 6GB/128GB variant. That's good value for money in the context of some other flagship phones pushing near four figures. Sales begin November 20, and those HTC fans that remain are sure to find plenty to like about the the latest phone from this once-dominant brand. But it's not clear how this phone will be able to get HTC out of its current financial rut.

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2 weeks ago

HTC U11 Life coming to the U.S. via T-Mobile, globally as Android One model

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A return to the the lower price segment by HTC.

After pretty thoroughly leaking ahead of time, HTC has made the new mid-range U11 Life official. The U11 Life takes on much of the styling and features of the U11 flagship launched earlier this year, but scales back materials and specs to meet a $349 price point.

It has a 5.2-inch 1080p SuperLCD screen, and is powered by a Snapdragon 630 processor, 2600mAh battery, 3GB of RAM, and 32GB of storage. Despite the drop in specs, the U11 Life keeps IP67 water-resistance, Edge Sense squeezing, a fingerprint sensor and has HTC's USonic active noise-cancelling earbuds in the box. And yes, that means there's no headphone jack here.

See at T-Mobile See at HTC

The body of the U11 Life may look nearly identical to the U11 from a distance, and that's definitely a good thing, but the frame is plastic rather than metal and the back is an acrylic material instead of curved glass. The cameras are of course of lower quality as well, with 16MP BSI sensors and f/2.0 lenses on back and front, both lacking OIS. Thankfully not many more corners are cut, as this $349 phone still has NFC, Bluetooth 5.0, 802.11ac Wi-Fi and many of the other "nice to have" features so often dropped in lower-end phones.

HTC U11 Life specs

Many people would prefer to have the Android One version, but it just isn't available here.

Now here's the interesting part: there are two distinct models of the U11 Life, one for North America and another globally. Internationally, the U11 Life is identical hardware-wise but is one of the new crop of mid-range Android One devices, meaning the U11 Life has a Google-sanctioned version of Android 8.0 with few HTC changes aside from the addition of Edge Sense. Certain markets will also see a bump up to 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage, though it seems like the 3/32GB model will be what most people see.

The North American model is running Android 7.1.1 with HTC's Sense customizations, and in the U.S. the only carrier you can buy it through is T-Mobile — though thankfully HTC.com is also selling it unlocked (and lacking Verizon and Sprint support, sorry). HTC says it will update the U11 Life to Android 8.0 within 30 days, but don't expect the interface to change much — this will still be Sense, not Android One.

The U11 Life goes on sale right away from HTC.com in the U.S. for $349, Canada for $449, and on November 3 from T-Mobile. Various nternational markets will also announce availability independently, but pricing is set at £349 in the UK and €349 in Europe.

HTC U11 Life review: High style at a low price, with compromises

See at T-Mobile See at HTC

Press release:

HTC U11 life: Premium Innovations Without Putting a Squeeze On Your Wallet

Squeezable Edge Sense, Amazing Cameras, Weather-Resistant Design, and USonic Noise Cancelling Earbuds In-Box Deliver Unparalleled Smartphone Value

SEATTLE – Nov. 2, 2017 – Building on the award-winning design and innovation of the flagship HTC U11, HTC today announced the newest member of the "U" family of smartphones, the HTC U11 life. Like its predecessor, the HTC U11 life is designed to reflect "U" – your drive, passion, creativity, and individuality – yet uniquely delivers flagship-quality features and experiences at just a fraction of a flagship's price.

The HTC U11 life gives you the best innovations from the HTC U11 and more:

  • Edge Sense, the next dimension in touch interaction that lets you squeeze HTC U11 life to perform your most common useful actions, including Google Assistant.
  • Amazing cameras, with Phase Detection Autofocus and HDR Boost on the 16MP main camera for faster, clearer photos, and UltraPixel light sensitivity on the 16MP front camera for awesome selfies even in low light. Google Photos is also the default gallery, providing free and unlimited storage of high quality photos and videos.
  • Durable, weather-resistant liquid surface design, incorporating an acrylic glass back that stunningly transforms light with every movement you make – even in rain, snow, or dust with IP67 water and dust resistance1.
  • HTC USonic earbuds in-box, the most personal listening experience on a smartphone that adapts to your ears, in addition to built-in Active Noise Cancellation.
  • Get the latest from Google with Android One – enjoy the newest Android OS update, Android Oreo, right out of the box, bringing you a best-in-class software experience designed by Google.

The HTC U11 life in Sapphire Blue is available in the US and Canada beginning today for just $349 ($449 CAD) at htc.com. It will also be available in T-Mobile stores nationwide and at t-mobile.com beginning Nov. 3.

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2 weeks ago

HTC U11+ specs: 6-inch LCD, Snapdragon 835 and 3930mAh battery

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HTC U11 Plus

Snapdragon 835, Oreo, and an enormous battery.

HTC's new big-screened handset, the U11+, builds upon one of the lesser-known flagships of 2017 and adds a big battery, Android Oreo and a new 18:9 aspect ratio. We've got a full hands-on report live now, but if you'd prefer to peruse the spec sheet, that's exactly what you'll find down below. Enjoy!

Category Specification Platform Android 8.0 Oreo with HTC Sense Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 835, 64-bit octa-core up to 2.45GHz Display 6-inch SuperLCD 6, 2880x1440
Corning Gorilla Glass 5 RAM 4/6GB (Varies by region) Storage 64/128GB (Varies by region)
microSD up to 2TB Battery 3930mAh
Quick Charge 3.0 Water/dust-resistance IP68 Main Camera 12MP UltraPixel 3, 1.4-micron pixels, f/1.7
UltraSpeed Autofocus, BSI sensor, OIS, Dual LED flash Front Camera 8MP, f/2.0, 85-degree field of view
BSI sensor, HDR Boost Sound HTC USonic with Active Noise Cancellation
HTC BoomSound™ Hi-Fi edition
Hi-Res Audio stereo recording,Hi-Res audio certified
Qualcomm aptX HD, LDAC 24-bit high resolution wireless audio Network HSPA: 850/900/1900/2100 MHz
FDD-LTE Band 1, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 12, 17, 20, 28, 32
TDD-LTE Band 38, 39, 40, 41 Sensors Edge Sensor, Ambient light sensor, Proximity sensor, Motion G-sensor, Compass sensor, Gyro sensor, Magnetic sensor, Fingerprint sensor, Sensor Hub for activity tracking Location GPS, AGPS, GLONASS Connectivity USB 3.1, Type-C
802.11ac Wi-Fi Dual-band, Bluetooth 5.0, NFC
HTC Connect, AirPlay, Chromecast, DLNA, Miracast Additional Features Always-on voice commands, Motion Launch, Quiet ring on pick-up, Pocket mode, Flip to mute, Display color personalization Size  158.5 x 74.9 x 8.5 mm Weight  188 g

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2 weeks ago

HTC U11 Life specs: 5.2-inch display, 2600mAh battery, and Snapdragon 630

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HTC U11 Life

Here's what HTC can pack into a phone for under $400.

HTC is continuing the U11 brand with the new lower-end U11 Life, but it sure isn't re-using any of the flagship's components. With a launch price of $349, the HTC U11 Life is constrained quite a bit in its specs, meaning we're looking at a few corners shaved here and there — but there are a few other additions that are nice to see in an inexpensive device.

Here's the full spec sheet for the HTC U11 Life.

Category Spec Operating system Android 7.1.1 Nougat (North America)
Android 8.0 with Android One (Global) Display 5.2-inch SuperLCD, 1920x1080
Gorilla Glass 3 Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 630 RAM 3GB (North America)
4GB (Global, some regions) Storage 32GB (North America)
64GB (Global, some regions) Expandable microSDXC up to 2TB Rear camera 16MP, f/2.0, BSI sensor, PDAF
HDR, Pro mode, 4K video, hyperlapse Front camera 16MP, f/2.0, BSI sensor
HDR, 1080p video Battery 2600mAh Charging USB-C
5V/2A max Connectivity Wi-Fi 802.11ac dual-band, NFC, USB 2.0, Bluetooth 5.0
Cat 9 LTE, VoLTE, Wi-Fi Calling (where supported) Network (U.S.) LTE Band 1/2/3/4/5/7/12/13/17/20/28/66
HSPA 850/900/AWS/1900/2100 MHz Location GPS + AGPS, GLONASS, Beidou Sensors Edge sense, ambient light, proximity, motion G, gyro, compass, magnetic, sensor hub Headphone jack No
USB-C USonic earbuds Water resistance IP67 rating Security One-touch fingerprint sensor Dimensions 149.09 x 72.9 x 8.1 mm
142 g Colors Blue (North America)
Black, white (Global)

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2 weeks ago

HTC U11 Life review: High style at a low price, with compromises

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HTC U11 Life

HTC's bringing a budget phone back to the U.S., and it's hoping the U11 name will help it out this time around.

The quick take

The U11 Life is better-looking than most phones at $350, and has nice features like waterproofing, a good screen, and active noice-cancelling headphones in the box. The build quality drops off significantly from the "original" U11, as you'd expect being less than half the price. The daily performance leaves something to be desired, as other phones with the same specs have better speed and fluidity. This will be a great device for many, but it definitely isn't the U11 experience scaled down proportionately — it's far more of a give-and-take choice.

The Good

  • Beautiful design for this price level
  • Built well, even if out of cheaper materials
  • Good screen at 1080p resolution
  • USonic USB-C earbuds with noise cancellation
  • IP67 water-resistance

The Bad

  • Performance not befitting the specs
  • Camera slow and weak in low light
  • No headphone jack or USB-C adapter
  • Weak speaker

See at T-Mobile See at HTC

HTC U11 Life

Looks for less

HTC U11 Life Things you'll love

For HTC, the U11 was a relative hit. It's not challenging Samsung for sales figures, but I think it's doing better than expected. To hopefully parlay some of that good brand awareness in 2017, it's launching a $350 phone with the same name and type of design to hit an altogether new market. The U11 Life does a pretty great job of bringing the looks and quality of the U11 down to less than half the price.

HTC U11 Life specs

A slice of that U11 style for about half the price.

Setting the U11 Life next to a "proper" U11, it's tough to tell them apart. The flowing, colorful back, sleek lines and shiny sides meet up with an inky black front with relatively large bezels. It looks far more expensive than it is — and far better than your average "did anyone even think about this design?" look in this price bracket.

But then you pick it up, and realize HTC has done a full recreation of the U11 in plastic. Not cheap plastic, or creaky plastic — well-executed molded plastic. The back is "acrylic," technically, as HTC will tell you, and that helps it mimic the glass back of the U11 while being substantially cheaper and easier to work with. The phone feels like plastic, it isn't fooling anyone, but for $350 it's tough to expect much else. Despite that it feels nice and sturdy, but we can certainly expect that soft plastic to scuff and ding over the course of a couple years in ways that metal and glass wouldn't.

Instead of higher-end materials, HTC spent the money on components and features. For this budget device, a Snadragon 630 processor, 3GB of RAM, 32GB of storage (with microSD) and a 1080p display definitely aren't a given. And the 5.2-inch SuperLCD panel is solid at that, even if it isn't as bright as the ones found on phones a couple hundred dollars more.

Then you get some extra hardware features also not often found on a cheap device. There's a good fingerprint sensor on the front, HTC's "Edge Sense" squeeze function, IP67 water-resistance, a pair of capable 16MP cameras, NFC, Bluetooth 5.0 and a pair of HTC's USonic active noise-cancelling earbuds in the box. All of these features, aside from the camera components, are shared with the full-priced U11 in an attempt to great some consistency in the lineup. This will make the sales pitch in T-Mobile stores a whole lot easier.

You can actually take some fine photos, with the typical low-light shortcomings.

The U11 Life's cameras are actually quite good, right on par with what you'd expect at this lower price. You get a 16MP BSI sensor with f/2.0 lens on both the front and back, with the rear camera getting a few extra features like auto focus, HDR, manual mode and 4K video. The rear camera produces surprisingly good photos in daylight, with a good amount of detail and colors that pop. Its HDR mode can get some light and color out of areas where most cheap phones struggle.

But the rear camera has all of its own struggles. Primarily in low light, where it really fights to get a clear shot. Not only is there a good bit of noise, that's still paired up with slower shutter speeds to give you some blur unless you're dead-steady with your hands. Typically you'll get something with the ISO cranked up in order to get a usable photo, but low light shots are obviously the clear shortcoming of the lower-end camera components.

HTC U11 Life

Performance struggles

HTC U11 Life Things you'll hate

The U11 Life, when it arrives in Europe, will be one of the new crop of slightly higher-end Android One phones. But here in the U.S., it's just a standard HTC phone with the same Sense software — whether you're buying from T-Mobile or unlocked. I make the distinction because these lower-end devices often benefit heavily from the light and performant Android One software experience, and this is the U11 Life's one major shortcoming.

HTC U11 (red) and U11 Life (blue)

We all expect a $350 phone to have slower performance than the $700+ flagships they look up to — but the U11 Life comes up even short of those lowered expectations. I say that because despite its Snapdragon 630 processor and 3GB of RAM, the phone just doesn't come close to the performance of the Moto X4 (which I just reviewed) with the same exact specs pushing the same screen size and resolution. Apps are notably slower to load, you get an additional hesitation now and a gain, and sometimes scrolling lags. The camera in particular is slow to open and function.

As I found in my review of the HTC U11, Sense itself is a fine take on Android — and I still feel that way about the interface design on the U11 Life. The only real issue here is the inconsistent and slow performance that just doesn't line up with the specs.

I wonder if performance has been ratcheted down for battery life reasons, because the U11 Life has done surprisingly well in this respect even though it has just a 2600mAh battery. I was able to push through a full day as I normally do on any other phone and come out with at least 15% at bedtime, which I definitely wouldn't have expected after the Moto X4 did roughly the same with a 15% larger battery. And one other interesting thing to note on the subject: HTC doesn't include Quick Charge on the U11 Life, just standard 5V/2A charging.

It's disappointing to see weaker performance than phones with the exact same specs.

The one big caveat to all of this is the current state of the software. The U11 Life is shipping with Android 7.1.1, but HTC is committing to sending out the Android 8.0 update within 30 days of the launch. Considering the tight release time frame, it makes us wonder if there will be much more optimization for speed and fluidity in that upcoming release. We'd never say to buy a phone based on what performance could be with a future update, but we sure hope Oreo improves the U11 Life's performance up to the levels where we know these specs can offer.

And then there's the other wrinkle that the global version of the U11 Life is actually shipping with Android One software. This version will have a cleaner (and presumably consistently faster) take on Android 8.0 not far removed from the Google Pixel 2, with few customizations from HTC. But that model isn't coming to North America, and this model also isn't going global — so you can't cross-shop between the two, you get what you get.

The rest of the handful of issues with the U11 Life are audio-related. It has a single speaker, and it's pretty weak at that — a far cry from the U11's rich and loud dual speakers. It also skips out on the headphone jack, which I think is even more of a bad decision on an inexpensive phone where people are even less likely to pony up for expensive Bluetooth headphones. HTC doesn't include a USB-C to 3.5 mm headphone adapter, either — but for what it's worth my Essential Phone and Google Pixel 2 adapters worked, and HTC sells 'em for $11.99. But the one bit of respite is HTC including its USonic active noise-cancelling headphones in the box, which are a step up from the headphones with most phones at this price (if you get them at all).

HTC U11 Life

Little slice of flagship

HTC U11 Life Should you buy it?

HTC executed pretty well on its goal of brining the U11 design down to a much lower price point, and also kept many of the hardware features that you don't typically see down here. It's an attractive phone with a nice spec sheet, good screen and an average pair of cameras to round it out.

You get a feel of flagship features, but have to take a couple compromises at this price point.

But it's really easy to question the lackluster and inconsistent performance on a phone that certainly has the spec sheet to do much better, and you wonder if it will continue to be this bad after the Android 8.0 update arrives. If there's one thing we've seen in the past couple of years, it's that cheap phones don't have to be slow or stuttery — they can be fast and smooth.

Buying from T-Mobile at what I assume will be a discounted sub-$349 price, the U11 Life stands strong against the rest of the cheap competition that's filled with compromises and so often misses on many of the core specs and features the U11 Life still has. It's an easy buy for someone who doesn't want to spend a lot but still wants a little slice of the flagship experience and is willing to give up on overall performance to get it.

But even at this lower price, and especially at the unlocked price of $349, you wonder why someone would pick up the U11 Life rather than something like a Moto G5 Plus and get better performance. Or hey, even step up just an extra $50 to get the fantastic Moto X4 that is on a higher level in terms of hardware materials, performance and cameras.

See at T-Mobile See at HTC

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2 weeks ago

Razer Phone specs: Top-end everything

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Razer Phone

What's inside the Razer Phone? A whole lot of top-end smartphone hardware.

The Razer Phone is official, marking the first entry into the smartphone world for the gaming-focused brand. There's a lot to get stuck into, and you'll want to check out our full hands-on preview for all the details on Razer's latest creation. But if you just want the all-important numbers, then look no further than the chart below.

Behold — your official Razer Phone spec sheet.

Category Specification Software Android 7.1.1 Display 5.72-inch IGZO LCD 2560x1440
120Hz, Wide Color Gamut (WCG)
Corning Gorilla Glass 3 Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 Mobile Platform RAM 8GB dual channel (LPDDR4, 1600MHz) Storage 64GB UFS
Expansion microSD class 10, up to 2TB Battery 4000 mAh lithium-ion battery
Qualcomm QuickCharge 4.0+ Rear Cameras 12MP f/1.75 wide-angle
12MP f/2.6 telephoto
Dual PDAF
Dual tone, dual LED flash Front Camera 8MP f/2.0, fixed focus Sound Stereo Front facing speakers
Dual Amplifiers
Audio Adapter with THX certified DAC Security One-touch fingerprint sensor Wireless 802.11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.2, NFC Network GSM: Quad-band GSM UMTS: B1/2/3/4/5/8
LTE:B1/2/3/4/5/7/8/12/17/19/20/25/26/28/29/30/66
TDD LTE: B38/39/40/41 TD-SCDMA: B34/39 Size 158.5 x 77.7 x 8 mm ( 6.24 x 3.06 x 0.31 in ) Weight 197 g

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2 weeks ago

Razer Phone hands-on preview: The gamer phone

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Razer Phone

Razer brings us the Nextbit Robin's supercharged, supersized gamer-focused successor.

So Razer made an Android phone.

And not just PC maker Razer — the brand best-known for premium gaming laptops and peripherals — but also the smartphone design talent it acquired when it gobbled up Nextbit last year. Among the big names behind this phone: former HTC design lead Scott Croyle, the man responsible for the HTC One M7 and M8, and of course the Nextbit Robin. Croyle has since departed Razer to start his own design consultancy, but the team he built remains in place.

And the fruit of their labors goes public today: Meet the Razer Phone.

Meet the badass, murdered-out aluminum cousin of the Nextbit Robin.

Even at first glance, the phone's design heritage is plain to see. This device is essentially the badass, murdered-out aluminum cousin of the Nextbit Robin. The Razer Phone, like the Robin, isn't particularly chasing svelte proportions or super-slim bezels. In keeping with Razer's target audience, the phone's design conveys power, but without the gaudiness that's seen in some gaming brands.

Though sophisticated, the Razer Phone is also kind of a tank. The 5.7-inch display is flanked by dual stereo speakers and contained in a great big, unapologetic black metal chassis. The Nextbit DNA is evident here too — again, in the speakers, but also in the proportions and how angular this phone is, as well as the placement of the fingerprint scanner on the side. Despite the overall bulk of the device, there's a pleasing symmetry to the Razer phone's hardware.

The pitch-black aluminium — decorated around the back with a sizeable Razer logo — gives it an imposing yet modern look. Like many of Razer's laptops, it means business, but it's not too over-the-top. (For an unfortunate example of the opposite, see Acer's ill-fated Predator tablet.)

Being a phone for gamers, high-end specs are a key focus: The Razer Phone is powered by a Snapdragon 835 processor, with 8GB of RAM and 64GB of storage plus microSD expansion and a 4,000mAh battery. That enormous battery capacity matches the Huawei Mate 10 — in fact, I'm not aware of any high-end phone that has this much juice to offer. Razer's also shipping the phone with QuickCharge 4+ for extra-quick refills — the first product to be announced with the latest Qualcomm charging standard.

The two front-facing speakers are fantastic — ludicrously loud, and worthy of their prominent placement. And you'd hope so, since the Razer phone is the latest Android flagship to forego the 3.5mm headphone jack. The dongle is at least THX-certified. But it's still a dongle, which is basically a bad thing. It's hard to imagine space being constrained in such a large phone.

Razer Phone

Razer is betting on a fancy new 120Hz display to push gamers to its new handset.

The display is an impressive 5.7-inch Sharp panel at Quad HD resolution, but what's really unique about it is that it's a 120Hz panel, and that faster refresh rate — as you may have heard from iPhone X reviews — makes everything extra-smooth. Razer has developed a dynamic refresh rate technology that intelligently adjusts it down to the level required by whichever app you're using in order to save battery power. For static images and less demanding apps, it'll go lower. In games, or when scrolling through apps or feeds, it can crank all the way up to 120Hz.

Extra frames make everything look smoother and more pleasing, but obviously gaming is where this feature is expected to set the Razer Phone aside. Many games will just work at the new, higher refresh rate. But Razer says it's working with major developers to uncap frame rates and let their phone run in all its 120Hz glory. We demoed just a couple of titles on the Razer Phone during our brief time with it, and we'll take a deeper dive in our full review.

To help it push all those frames, Razer claims best-in-class thermals, using heatpipe technology adapted from its Blade series gaming laptops. Hopefully that'll improve performance endurance over time, which has generally been a weak point for phones — particularly Android phones — in graphically intensive titles.

The software's based on Android 7.1.1 Nougat, not the new Oreo, which is a little disappointing. Although Razer promises an update to 8.0 in the first quarter of 2018, you're shipping on old firmware, and that's not a great look for an enthusiast product. At least the company's offering a clean, near-stock build of the OS — with the exception of a few green accents here and there, naturally.

What's more, the stock launcher for the Razer Phone is... Nova Launcher — a specialized build of the fan-favorite home screen app, with Google Feed integration and support for the phone's high refresh rate. Out of the box, it looks pretty much like a stock Android launcher, which is fine if you weren't hoping for anything more dazzling or space-age, as we've seen from Samsung and Google in their latest home screen layouts.

The cameras lack OIS, but first impressions are solid.

The jury is mostly out on camera performance right now. We've only had a very short amount of time playing with the Razer Phone's dual cameras, mainly indoors. Either way, you get two 12-megapixel cameras, one standard, one telephoto, behind f/1.75 and f/2.4 lenses respectively. There's no OIS (optical image stabilization), which seems like an oversight for a current high-end phone — so we'll have to see how well the phone handles low-light photos in our full review. Either way, the (very) small handful of indoor samples we shot turned out pretty well.

The Razer Phone seems to get a lot right. I'm a fan of the design, despite its going against the grain of the broader high-end space. Razer hits a lot of the right cues for its target audience, with ridiculous specs, a key differentiator in the form of 120Hz support, and an enthusiast-friendly software experience.

But we'll have to give it the full review treatment before we know whether this phone's unique display and powerful hardware can make up for missing features like OIS, a headphone jack and water resistance. These three seem like odd omissions for a phone aimed at gamers and early adopters, as does the lack of Daydream VR support, considering the phone's high refresh rate. (It's likely there are some LCD-related technical hurdles still left to be overcome there.)

The Razer phone will ship later this year for $699 in the U.S., and in countries like the UK, where it's sold on carriers, Three will be the exclusive partner.

Razer has a dedicated following in the gaming space, and a solid first effort in the form of the Razer phone. Can it transform this into a foothold in the highly competitive high-end smartphone market? The brand certainly has a chance, but I'd be more confident if it could boast more up-to-date software, a stronger camera setup, and key features like water resistance.

Thinking about picking up a Razer phone? Give us your first impressions down in the comments!

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2 weeks ago

Razer Phone hands-on: A phone for gamers (but not a gaming phone)

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The idea of a smartphone built just for gamers is not a new one (recall my throwback video featuring the Nokia NGage from 2003). For PC-gaming goliath Razer, updating that idea for 2017 means blending bold design –like a special 120Hz screen and loud speakers– with uncharacteristic restraint (there's no manufacturer software skin aside from Nova Launcher) and a spec sheet that more than makes up for the lack of Chroma LEDs. Looks aside, a "Nextbit Robin 2" this is not.

But to hear Razer tell it, this isn't a phone for hardcore gaming. The company isn't launching a special catalog of titles or even the long-rumored PC-to-phone streaming service. Rather than being a gaming phone, this a "phone for gamers" … and that distinction is an important one to keep in mind if you're considering pre-ordering one of these.

Confused? Not for long. Join me for the MrMobile first look at the Razer Phone; check out Android Central and Windows Central's take on the same; and be sure you're subscribed to theMrMobile on YouTube so you don't miss the full Razer Phone review when it drops!

Stay social, my friends

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2 weeks ago

How to take the best photos with your Google Pixel 2

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Google Pixel 2 camera

For many, the most important feature of a smartphone is its camera.

The Google Pixel 2 has a superb camera. There's no doubt about that. But we know that with all photography, it's not just the tools — it's how you use them that makes a huge difference. Even though you can open up your Pixel 2 with no knowledge of photography and take some great shots, you should strive to do more — and we have a handful of great tips to help you get the most out of this phone's camera.

Turn on location

Google Pixel 2 Google Photos search

Every time you take a photo with a modern smartphone, it's capable of having its GPS-based location tied to that photo — that is, if you turn on this setting. Keeping a location tied to a photo may not seem important right now, but think about years down the road when you want to remember even more about the photo that you took — knowing more than a date and time will be super valuable. It also lets services like Google Photos easily group and make your photos searchable by location.

To turn it on, hop into your camera settings and you'll see the toggle for "Save location" right at the top. You can always turn this feature back off later, and Google Photos will also remove location information from photos when you share them from the app.

Use Smartburst with moving subjects

Google's camera app has a typical burst function: press and hold the shutter button, and it'll take photos in quick succession until you release it. But behind the scenes, this isn't actually a regular burst shot — it's a "Smartburst." Basically what this means is that the camera app will take a whole bunch of photos in quick succession, as expected, but also pick out what it thinks are the best ones after processing. The camera takes roughly 10 shots per second to hopefully grab one that's just right.

Smartburst can do a better job than you can.

This is super useful when you or your subject (or both) are moving, where Smartburst will very often get photos you'd never get by guessing when to hit the shutter yourself. If you're in a situation like this, just press and hold that shutter and see what the results were later. You may not have another opportunity for that exact shot, so do it when you can.

When you go to review the burst shots, you'll see them grouped together with the "best" one highlighted. It's then easy to keep that photo and delete the rest.

Choose your grid lines

Google Pixel camera grid lines

You may think that having grid lines on your viewfinder will be distracting, but they can be super useful for helping you line up shots from the get-go. Tap the grid-like button on the side of the camera viewfinder, and you'll see four different options — no grid, 3 x 3, 4 x 4 and Golden Ratio — to choose from. Most people will be best off with the 3 x 3 grid.

Use these lines to easily center your subject, get a flat horizon on that next sunset shot, or fill out the frame evenly with various elements dispersed into the three sections. Don't let the initial distraction of the lines put you off — this is super helpful to have!

Use focus and exposure lock

Google Pixel 2 camera exposure lock

Unlike most phones, the Pixel 2 doesn't have a "Pro" or "Manual" mode that lets you tweak settings for a custom shot. The closest thing it has is an option to change the exposure manually, as well as lock the focus and exposure when you change it.

You don't get a full manual mode, but this is pretty helpful

When you tap on the camera viewfinder, the phone will focus on that point and also set the exposure to what it thinks is right for the point. But you can override that by moving the exposure slider on the right side of the viewfinder after tapping — up to +2 or down to -2, as you see fit. As soon as you move the camera, though, it'll re-focus and re-expose the image — that is, unless you hit the little "lock" button at the top of the exposure slider. Once you lock it, the settings stay put no matter how you move the camera or subject.

Most of the time you'll want to just let the camera choose the exposure and even the focal point. But if you need a different part of the frame to be your subject or want to change the exposure for a unique look, you have the option.

Don't be tempted by the flash

Google Pixel 2

Lighting is everything in photography, so many amateur photogs will immediately think "more is better" and want to turn on their flash to get a "better" photo — but this is hardly ever the case. With the advanced HDR+ processing in the Pixel 2, chances are you can get a better photo by leaving the flash off and letting the camera do its magic.

Take control of the light — just don't do it with a flash.

In other cases, re-positioning the camera to direct the light in different ways will have a better effect on quality as well. It is true that many pro photographers use flashes in certain circumstances, but the inherent issues of having a very small, direct flash on a phone so close to the lens makes it far less useful than a professional camera flash.

The best way to look at it is this: the flash on your phone should be used as an absolute last resort. Try a few shots, reposition, find other light sources, exhaust your other options — and if you need to get more light, then you can turn on the flash.

Increase the panorama resolution

The Pixel 2 can take super-high-resolution panorama shots, but by default it actually isn't set to the highest possible resolution — presumably for size and processing time concerns. But you should be willing to deal with those things in order to get the best possible panoramas.

Go into the camera settings, scroll down to "Panorama resolution" and select "High" — now you'll take the best possible panoramas, even if it means dealing with a larger file and longer processing time in the end.

Google Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL

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2 weeks ago

Pixel Visual Core won't be available until Oreo 8.1 Developer Preview 2

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Developer Preview 2 and the Pixel Visual Core will be available later this month.

Google's Pixel 2 and 2 XL are two of the best phones for a lot of different reasons, but one of their strongest aspects is easily the camera performance. The Pixel 2/2XL can already capture some of the best photos possible in a smartphone, but thanks to the currently unused Pixel Visual Core inside of them, photo and video output has the chance to get even better.

The Pixel Visual Core is Google's first ever SoC, and although it was initially believed that the new tech would be available to use in the recently released Developer Preview 1 for Android 8.1 Oreo, that no longer appears to be the case.

Spotted by Ron Amadeo from Ars Technica, the Release Notes for Oreo 8.1 Developer Preview 1 reveal that the Pixel Visual Core won't actually turn on until Developer Preview 2:

Pixel Visual Core is Google's first custom-designed co-processor for image processing and machine learning on consumer devices. If your app uses the camera APIs and you have a Pixel 2 device, you'll be able to try an early version of Pixel Visual Core starting in Developer Preview 2, planned for November 2017. Testing on Developer Preview 1 is not yet supported.

This is disappointing for those that were hoping to put the Pixel Visual Core through its paces as soon as possible, but seeing as how we're already in November and the public release for Oreo 8.1 is expected to go live at some point next month, we shouldn't have to wait too much longer before Developer Preview 2 is released. Stay tuned.

Google Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL

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2 weeks ago

Google removes warranty deductibles from Pixel 2 Preferred Care insurance

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Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL warranty deductibles previously cost $79 and $99, respectively.

The Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL are not cheap phones, and as such, some users will rightfully want to add an insurance plan when buying them to ensure they're protected from just about anything. Google sells a Preferred Care service alongside the Pixel 2/2XL for $129, and thanks to the recent removal of deductibles, it's now an even better deal than ever.

Preferred Care still costs the same at that $129 price, but rather than having to shell out a $79 or $99 deductible for the Pixel 2 or Pixel 2 XL, respectively, when making a claim, Google is dropping these added costs entirely in favor of two claims for free during Preferred Care's two years of protection. However, what's worth noting here is that this only applies to warranty claims. If you're filing a claim due to accidental damage, the deductible will still apply.

Google's deductibles weren't all that outrageous in the first place considering the $649 and $849 prices of the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL, but it's a move that makes sense following the recent extension of the manufacturer's warranty for all Pixel 2 devices that are sold.

In addition to the two device claims that are now free, Preferred Care also comes with priority access to customer support and expert sessions for learning all the ins and outs for what your Pixel 2 has to offer.

Google Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL

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2 weeks ago

HTC U11 Plus and its translucent back revealed in hands-on video

70

HTC's U11 Plus gets the full hands-on treatment just a day before its official announcement.

On November 2, HTC will be holding a press event where it'll likely be unveiling the HTC U11 Plus – a more powerful and modern version of the U11 that came out earlier this year. We've already seen renders and official teasers from HTC itself, but thanks to a new hands-on video that was leaked, we now have an even better idea of what to expect from the U11 Plus when it's announced tomorrow.

Originally seen by the folks over at Phandroid, a hands-on video of the U11 Plus was uploaded to Facebook, but then quickly taken down as it wasn't supposed to have gone live as early as it did. However, you can still check out the video below because this is the Internet and nothing is ever gone for good.

For those that speak English, the man in the video confirms that the U11 Plus will come equipped with a 6-inch display, 128GB of internal storage, and a large 4,000 mAh battery that should allow for truly impressive stamina. The U11 Plus in the video also showcases a translucent backside, and this is something that was recently confirmed by Evan Blass and an earlier teaser image from HTC.

The translucent back shows a coil of some sort below the HTC logo in the middle, and although not yet confirmed, this is believed to be a look at the phone's wireless charging system.

Also revealed in the video is a hands-on look at the U11 Life, and while we already know everything about this device thanks to a leak on T-Mobile's website, it's still fun to see how the phone looks outside of renders ahead of its announcement.

HTC U11

Amazon Sprint HTC

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2 weeks ago

This is why the Pixel 2 XL's $200 premium is worth it

50

Are slimmer bezels, a bigger display, and larger battery worth the added price?

Google's Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL are very similar in a lot of ways. The camera package is the same, the software experience is identical, both phones come equipped with front-facing speakers, and even the design remains mostly unchanged from phone-to-phone.

Even with this being the case, there are still a few key differences between the devices. The Pixel 2 XL has a considerably larger display with much smaller bezels compared to the regular Pixel 2, and thanks to its bigger footprint, there's also room for a beefier battery.

The Pixel 2 XL is the more impressive of the two phones, but is it really worth the extra $200 over its smaller brother?

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

*/
N4Newbie 10-30-2017 10:31 AM “

I agree with the bigger screen; having had several "big screen" phones in a row now, I don't think I could go back to a small one. OTOH, I was getting an old Nexus 5 ready to list on Swappa the other day and I was pleasantly reminded of just how great the 5 fits my hand.

Reply
*/
Richard Servello 10-30-2017 10:22 AM “

bigger screen, bigger battery.

Reply
*/
bhatech 10-30-2017 10:49 AM “

I have both the 2 XL and 2, honestly the Pixel 2 screen feels very small to me. Screen is better and feels great and all I agree, but I think I'm used to bigger screens now and the Pixel 2 screen feels small. Battery life has been surprisingly good on the Pixel 2 as well even with smaller battery size. I'm still torn which one to keep, most likely will keep the 2 XL and return the Pixel 2. But if...

Reply
*/
Guto Aaron 10-30-2017 01:32 PM “

I ordered both at one point too, but cancelled my Pixel 2 in favour of 2XL. For me the big screen and big battery was nice, but the better design was the deciding factor. Pixel 2 and iPhone 8 just look unimpressive by now!

Reply

Whether it be for slimmer bezels, a bigger display, or increased battery capacity, we want to know – What are your reasons for choosing the Pixel 2 XL over the regular Pixel 2?

Join the conversation in the forums!

Google Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL

Google Store Project Fi Verizon Best Buy

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