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Reviews

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ZTE Axon 7 review: Mostly good hardware, but bad software

ZTE has long been known as a purveyor of inexpensive devices—you might even call them cheap. Many phones manufactured by ZTE in past years didn't even have the company's name on them. Last year, it started going after the premium device market with the Axon Pro. ZTE is back in 2016 with another Axon—the Axon 7. This $400 phone seems to target potential OnePlus 3 buyers with similar specs and a few notable improvements, at least on paper. Does the Axon 7 mark ZTE's arrival in the budget flagship space or does OnePlus still own it?

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Fitbit Blaze review: A great activity tracker that looks like a smartwatch, wants to be a sports watch, and is neither

Activity trackers are not miracle workers. Wearing a Fitbit isn't going to make you healthier, just like buying a piano for the living room won't make you a pianist. They're not going to force you to take a run instead of eating bags of Doritos while binge watching House of Cards for an entire weekend, and they're not magic pills that will do the hard work for you.

Activity trackers, however, are invaluable tools and immense help if you really want to get healthier and/or stay healthy. If you have already made the decision to be more active and it isn't just a spur of the moment, short-lived resolution, then activity trackers can be one more weapon in your arsenal.

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ZeroLemon 8500mAh case for the Nexus 6P review: Momma always said, if you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all

Sorry mom.

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Wileyfox Spark review: Could do better

Phones have progressed enormously in the last few years. If I look at my beloved Nexus 4, bought new in 2012, it had a Snapdragon S4 Pro chip, 2GB RAM, and 16GB storage. It cost me £279, or $349 in the US. For a phone of that quality, $349 was a stupendous price, much cheaper than comparable phones from Samsung, Motorola, or HTC. It kept me going for two years before the battery finally gave out.

Fast forward to this year. A tiny British company, Wileyfox, has released a phone, the Spark, with 1GB RAM and 8GB storage, for £89.99 ($120).

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Alcatel Idol 4S review: Too much money for too little phone

Last year, Alcatel made its first real foray into the US unlocked smartphone market with the Idol 3. That phone cost $249, but at the time, offered quite a bit for the money. A large 5.5" 1080p display (with a fairly good LCD panel), dual front-facing speakers, no real bloatware to speak of, LTE, solid cameras (13MP/8MP), and a microSD card slot. High on features, low on price may as well have been the tagline for the Idol 3, and while it was at times excruciatingly slow owing to its Snapdragon 615 chipset, I found it an overall good value proposition.

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Moto Z and Moto Z Force review: A modular miss

Motorola is trying something new—it's like a whole new company with new owners, new phones, and a new approach to making money on said phones. The Moto Z and Z Force (currently only available as Verizon exclusives) are "modular" phones with a series of snap-on rear panel accessories. They're also very thin and lacking a headphone jack. There are certainly reasons to be skeptical of these devices, but they're also very interesting in an industry that has had trouble innovating beyond the standard black slab.

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Libratone One Click review: Sophisticated styling, smooth sounds, and spiffy straps

This pretty little thing is the Libratone One Click. Designed by Danish engineers, with characteristic Scandinavian simplicity, it's a speaker that has caught the attention of everyone I've shown it to. Sure, it looks nice, but how does it sound? Read on my friends, and you'll find out.

What's in the box

  • The speaker: It measures 4.7”×1.6”× 8” and weighs 2lbs with a 3" woofer, 1" tweeter and a passive driver.
  • MicroUSB charging cable: No proprietary cord or charger. Sweet.
  • Two different handles: A short one and a longer one, more on those later.
  • Instructions and warranty info: In several European languages!

Notable features

  • Water resistant: IPX4 rated - splash proof.
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Moto G4 and G4 Plus review: Still the best budget phone you can buy

Motorola has had a strange couple of years. It was making some interesting, though mediocre phones, then it was acquired by Google. Then, it started making great phones. Before we could truly enjoy the new Motorola, the company was sold off to Chinese mega-firm Lenovo. We all worried what this would mean for Motorola, and now we're seeing the first products from the new-new Moto—the Moto G4 and Moto G4 Plus.

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The $60 phone, day eleven: the "slowening" begins, I take a hiatus

Aziz Ansari's cultishly popular Master of None is a show you should watch (and also a Netflix exclusive). Ansari plays Dev, a not-convincingly-struggling actor in New York City. At one point, he is cast as a doctor in a film called The Sickening. Which, in the words of the show, is a "black virus" movie. The plot is familiar: there's some kind of unstoppable super-plague that turns everyone into not-zombies, and Dev's character is the one man who is trying to stop it. He, too, of course, succumbs to The Sickening in the end.

The purposely generic and vague namesake of that fake movie, though, I find is perfectly fit to be coopted and molded for use in describing a common Android smartphone phenomenon: the slowening.

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ZenFone 3 review: Zen and the art of great midrange phones

The original ZenFone would be two years old this month, but I doubt many of them are still in use. It was highly anticipated before release, and widely panned shortly thereafter. I have friends who bought the first generation ZenFone, and the issues were obvious right from the start: the battery couldn't last half a day, the UI was clumsy and unresponsive, it got so hot you could barely hold it, and the build quality and design really weren't up to par.

A lot has changed in the last two years. The ZenFone 2 was well-received by our team and continues to be a good buy for the price.

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