How little can you spend on a phone in 2017 and still have a good experience? Companies like Lenovo-owned Motorola and BLU are pushing the envelope when it comes to the budget segment in the US. But, even a dated flagship can outcompete almost everything in the current entry-level market, and right now you can pick up one of 2016's most overlooked examples, the Nextbit Robin, for around $130 from Amazon. We think that deserves a second look. Read More
OnePlus burst onto the scene in 2014 with the OnePlus One, a phone running Cyanogen OS with an incredibly attractive price tag. From the very start, OnePlus talked a big game and was sometimes annoyingly overconfident. The success of that first phone ensured we'd see at least a few more phones from OnePlus. There have been some ups and downs since the OnePlus One launched, but the trajectory has been upward overall.
The OnePlus 5 has the most refined design this company has ever put out, but at the same time it would be impossible to ignore the resemblance to the iPhone. Read More
Motorola has gone through some big changes in the last few years; from its waning days of independence (with crummy phones), to the Google acquisition (with much better phones), and finally to being manhandled by Lenovo (with weird phones). One of Motorola's most important products through all of this has been the Moto G. The original Moto G boosted interest in budget devices by showing everyone they don't have to be terrible. Now, here we are with the fifth iteration—the Moto G5 Plus, a phone that can be yours for the low, low price of $230.
The Moto G5 Plus looks and feels more premium than past devices in the series, but it also comes with a few limitations that keep it slotted in firmly below the Moto Z family. Read More
Huawei has become one of the largest phone makers on the planet, and it's done so without too much help from the US market. The company has dabbled mostly with mid-range phones here, including some from the Honor sub-brand. The Mate 9 is the first phone Huawei has brought to the US that isn't explicitly going after the budget crowd. It's running the latest version of Huawei's in-house Kirin SoC, has an all metal housing, and the Leica-branded cameras are present too.
The hardware side hasn't been Huawei's problem in western markets. It's the software. I've always had trouble using Huawei phones for very long because of the many, many annoyances present in the EMUI Android skin. Read More
We're used to crowdfunded smartphones being delayed into obsolescence by poor planning and over-promising. Coming from that sort of pedigree, the Nextbit Robin is already a success because it actually exists. This phone hit Kickstarter last year and raked in over $1.3 million. The promised delivery was January, and now it's out there just a little late. So, good on Nextbit for releasing a phone, but is it worth buying? Let's find out. Read More
Sony rushes from one flagship phone to the next, making only iterative changes most of the time. With the Z5 generation, there are three different variants of the phone—a standard Z5, the Z5 Compact, and our focus today, the Z5 Premium. What makes it premium? Well, it's the first phone with a 4K display. Does that really do you any good, though? Let's find out. Read More
I remember not that long ago thinking that a 4.7-inch phone screen was pretty large. How could they get bigger than that and still be usable? Surely this is the end of the road... and here we are a few years later and the Xperia Z5 Compact is considered diminutive at 4.6-inches. When I say this phone is small (and it is) I mean it's small compared to every other Android flagship.
Consumers have voted with their dollars and told OEMs they want big phones, leaving the Xperia Compact series as your last bastion of tiny flagship phones. When a device basically owns a niche, it doesn't have to be amazing, it just needs to be. Read More
OnePlus came out of nowhere last year with a phone that appealed to a lot of cynical smartphone-using curmudgeons. A device with great specs, capable software, and a reasonable price? What's the catch? Oh, invites. Well, the OnePlus One still managed to win a lot of fans, and now the company's followup, the OnePlus 2 is (sort of) available. This device also has an invite system, and the price is a little higher. Is it worth scrounging and begging to get an invite to buy this one, though? After all, they claim it's a "2016 flagship killer." Let's find out. Read More
Samsung must have known it had a problem early in the Galaxy S5's run when most of the reviews called the phone "boring" or "predictable," while also conceding that it was a good device. A good, predictable phone isn't going to sell like gangbusters, and indeed, the Galaxy S5 fell short of expectations. Over the next few months, we saw devices like the Galaxy Alpha and Galaxy Note 4 that played around with more premium materials and different designs, but the Galaxy S6 is the culmination of Samsung's plans to rehab its reputation.
The Galaxy S6 is still distinctly Samsung with the oblong home button, big camera sensor, and industry-leading AMOLED panel, but it almost feels like it was made by a version of Samsung from some bizarre parallel reality where plastic doesn't exist. Read More
The original Moto X was a very well-reviewed phone, but it just didn't sell as well as Motorola and Google had hoped. It deserved more attention than it got, but the smartphone consuming public can be a fickle beast. That's why this year's Moto X makes a few changes to appeal to a wider audience. It's a little bigger, a lot faster, and has a more premium design.
This approach is rife with benefits and a few drawbacks, but one thing is certain, this is one of the best smartphones ever created.