Android One is an ambitious smartphone initiative launched by Google in 2014. To date, it's been limited to a handful of countries - mostly in Asia - and it remains at best unclear if it's actually been successful. The idea was nice enough: Inexpensive Android phones built by typical handset-makers, but with Google lending a helping hand on the messy business of software updates. Of course, the carrot also came with a stick. In exchange for this software support, those handset companies agreed to use what Google decided constituted a good, proper Android - no bloat, stock look and feel, and regular security patches. Read More
HTC has been lagging behind its competitors for years, despite some fantastic hardware and critical acclaim. So for 2017 the company is going in a completely new design direction, dumping the aluminum unibody phones it's become known for and shifting to a more generic glass front and back. The first products displaying this new direction are the HTC U Ultra, the new flagship phone, and the U Play, a mid-range model. They'll both go on sale later this year. Read More
When shopping for a budget or mid-range phone, there is always an element of compromise. How many high-end features, how much capability are you willing to give up for the sake of a few hundred dollars? It's a similar proposition in just about any field - from a multi-year car purchase to a simple meal - but the scales are tipping for mobile. The last few years have been marked by amazing value, and thus less and less compromise, in the mid-range segment.
Which brings us to LeEco. Previously exclusive to the Chinese market, the company's debut in the US is highlighted by the LePro 3. Read More
Chinese manufacturer LeEco made a splash with its US debut, even if it wasn't a particularly promising one. Today it has its sights set squarely on the mid-range market with $100 discounts on both of the debut American phones: the Le S3 and Le Pro3. (And yes, after penning down an initial writeup for the latter, I am LeTired of this LeNaming scheme.) That brings the pricing down to just $149 and $299, respectively, assuming you can snag one of the phones once the sale starts at 10 AM Pacific time. Read More
BlackBerry launched its first Android phone, the PRIV in late 2015. While the company's smartphone losses have slowed, the PRIV's high price is proving to be a barrier to BlackBerry's comeback (even with that price cut the other day). CEO John Chen now says that BlackBerry will shift to the mid-range this year with two new phones. Read More
ZTE doesn't want to talk about the Blade V7 phone they have on the slate for Mobile World Congress, at least not yet. A promotional website has a small image and a broken link, but if you put in the URL manually, you can see the newly-announced device in all its golden mid-range glory. The V7 kind of looks like the bastard child of an iPhone and one of HTC's later One devices (sorry, ZTE, but that circle home button and custom icon theme are pretty telling), but it's none the worse for being born out of wedlock. It's hard to go wrong with an all-aluminum body, right? Read More
When OPPO announced the F1 at the start of this year's CES, it didn't include much in the way of details. Now the device is available for pre-order. It costs $249, €229, or the equivalent in your local currency. To reserve a unit, OPPO wants a $5/€5 deposit. OPPO says some units will go out in early February. Read More
Remember when a low-cost phone meant something you were kind of embarrassed to pull out in front of your judgmental in-laws? A tiny screen, a chunky plastic body, and a processor with about as much kick as a grasshopper with polio - you'd be lucky if you could get Angry Birds to run on the thing. That's no longer the case - there are plenty of phones available for under $200 that look downright swanky. Case in point: the new VIBE S1 Lite, which Lenovo announced at CES in Las Vegas. It's quite a looker, and according to Lenovo, it will sell for around $199 USD. Read More
Android news tends to focus on the flagship phones from the largest companies, if only because they inform the direction of phone design for the following year or so. But it's important to remember that giant corporations like LG release dozens of new models in the same timeframe. The first two LG phones announced for 2016 are the K7 and K10, both being revealed before the enormous Consumer Electronics Show (which doesn't technically begin until Wednesday).
Both phones are quite few steps down from flagships, but noticeably above the entry level, much like the older L series that they're based on. Read More
Verizon and Motorola are announcing the latest entries in their long-running DROID series in Chicago today. The DROID Turbo 2 is the new flagship, and its "shatter-proof" screen is the clear highlight, but the partners also announced an updated version of the popular DROID Maxx from 2013. The new DROID Maxx 2 is a mid-range device that shares a lot of design DNA with the Moto X Play revealed earlier this year. Read More