It's Galaxy Note7 review day here in the US! ...Our review isn't ready. I received my evaluation device less than a week ago, and we've been swamped here with various leak posts and bringing on some new faces (say "hi!" to the newest members of our team when you spot their bylines), and there just hasn't been time for me to fully formulate thoughts and compile them into a 5000-word-plus post for you. But would you take an abridged review/extended hands-on until I can make good on that promise? If so, read on.
Early review notes
Industrial design and attention to physical detail continue to climb to ever-greater heights at Samsung.
There is perhaps no better-selling “enthusiast” or “power-user” smartphone than Samsung's Galaxy Note series. When it debuted in 2011, it was dismissed as ridiculous by many (myself included). It was too big, we said - too big to hold, “and for what? Who needs this?” many of us barked at the time (how wrong we were). But the Note series became a runaway success, and each year, millions of Samsung fans await the latest iteration.
Last year’s Note, though, may have been the biggest letdown in the Note series yet. It had no microSD slot, no removable battery, and it didn’t even launch in Europe - perhaps a signal of the Note series entering a wind-down phase.
Motorola under the stewardship of Lenovo is doing something very different this year. The Moto X brand may not be gone, but it's certainly not the company's focus right now. Instead, we have the Moto Z and Moto Z Force. They're thin and they have Moto Mods—snap-on modules like projectors and speakers that make the phones much less thin. The Z is coming to Verizon first as a Droid phone (that's what I have to review), but the device I'm looking at now is very similar to what Motorola will release unlocked later this year.
I can't recall ever using a smartphone larger than the Xiaomi Mi Max. The Samsung Galaxy Mega 6.3 is the closest I've ever come, and the Mi Max is over a tenth of an inch larger on the display diagonal than even that phone. While it's not the largest smartphone ever, the Xiaomi Mi Max is certainly in the upper echelons of size in the taxonomic order smartphonus, dwarfing 5" devices we once called "large" just four or five years ago.
While we've got our textual first impressions of the HTC 10 up and available for you, we've also got them in easy-to-digest video form! Mark Burstiner takes a quick look at the newest flagship from HTC in our latest set of moving pictures we have placed on the YouTube.
To give you the quick rundown: the HTC 10 is coming out here in the US in early May, and the unlocked version with 32GB of storage will sticker for $699. The 10 ticks many of the same boxes as the LG G5 and Samsung Galaxy S7 here in America - a Snapdragon 820 processor, 4GB of RAM, at least 32GB of storage, microSD card slot, a strong on-paper camera, a fingerprint scanner, and Android 6.0.
Let us waste no time: the HTC 10 is here, and we're able to tell you a little bit about it today (a very, very little, frankly). While the phone doesn't ship to consumers (in the US, at least) until early May, we've got a production unlocked version of the US handset right now, and I've got some thoughts on it. Unfortunately, I am only able to tell you about certain aspects of the phone in strongly suggested single sentences (i.e., camera, speed, display, audio performance, software). Which is weird. But hey, I'll try!
The design of phone is fair game, though, so let's dig in on this point.
Earlier this evening in Barcelona, we had our first chance to look at the Galaxy S7 and S7 edge in the flesh. Unfortunately, it wasn't under ideal conditions, and I don't feel comfortable putting down a large number of thoughts about the devices just yet. We need some more time with them. But, we did manage to record a video demonstrating the phones, as well as snap a gallery of photos for your perusal, should you be so interested. We'll have a full hands-on of the S7 and S7 edge later this week, but for now, here's our first look at Samsung's new flagship duo.
We've had a chance to spend some significant time with the Huawei Mate 8 in the last 24 hours, and so I felt an intial impressions post was warranted. The "space gray" (yes, really) 32GB unit I've been using is technically preproduction per Huawei's own disclaimer, though the software feels largely finished and the phone physically feels ready for sale.
The Mate 8, by the way, is not a phone you'll be seeing in America. Huawei has taken a pretty careful approach in regard to its US device launches, and its most expensive handsets generally never make it here through any official channels.
Sony's first attempt at making Android slates was less than a rousing success. Not one to be discouraged, Sony is back with a new Android-powered tablet called the Xperia Tablet Z. This is the big brother of the Xperia Z flagship smartphone. I've spent a little time with the Tablet Z and I have some thoughts in advance of the full review.
The device is surprisingly thin and light. Yes, I know what the spec sheet says, but it's different when you get it in your hands. Just knowing that it's 495g and has a 10.1-inch screen doesn't mean much until you pick it up.
In a word, yes, it has. Mostly. While my time with the Nexus 7 was limited, Android tablets are a sort of beast that are rather easy to evaluate quickly, mostly because they're all pretty similar. Now, the Nexus 7 is by no means a normal Android tablet, it's much better than that.