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Phone Reviews

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HTC U11 Life review: A "value" U11 that isn't much of a value at all

The HTC U11 Life is one of two new smartphones announced by HTC today. I've been using it for over a week already, though, getting to know HTC's latest attempt to penetrate the ever-elusive premium midrange segment. At $349, the Life is positioned to do battle against the likes of the Moto X4 and, I guess, the 64GB Moto G5S Plus. That's really kind of it.

You see, here in America there are very few premium midrange phones on the market because, quite frankly, they don't sell. The reason they don't sell is simple: monthly installment plans make more expensive, better smartphones affordable for most people.

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ASUS Zenfone 4 Max review: Not a shining example of a good budget phone

Asus just announced its Zenfone 4 family of devices a couple of months ago, creating a convoluted and confusing portfolio. To kick things off, we have the Zenfone 4 Max on the lower end of the group. For $199, you get budget-level specs, except for the massive 5,000mAh battery. Besides it just being large and providing a lot of life, the Zenfone 4 Max's battery can also charge other devices. Cool, right?

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Moto X4 (Android One edition) review: This is not the Moto X you're looking for

Motorola had hit a rough patch when Google came calling back in 2011. It took some time to clear out the queue of sub-standard devices, but the first true Google-backed Motorola effort came in 2013 with the launch of the Moto X. This device broke new ground with clever software features like Moto Display (called Active Display at the time) and a customizable design. Motorola made a few more Moto X phones, all of which were excellent devices. Lenovo didn't keep the Moto X going when it took over from Google, preferring to sell devices like the modular Moto Z.

Here we are, two years after the last Moto X launched, and there's another phone that calls itself "Moto X." This is the Moto X4, a device that comes with the added distinction of being the first Android One phone in the US.

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Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL review: The best gets (mostly) better

We were all a little concerned to see the Nexus program come to an end, but Google assuaged our fears with the 2016 Pixel phones. They weren't the prettiest devices on the market, but the Pixels showed what was possible when Google got serious about making a phone. These devices had terrific cameras and consistently fast performance—even to this day the Pixel and Pixel XL are robust experiences. They were not perfect, though.

The Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL are a chance for Google to address some shortcomings from last year while keeping the things that worked. Google has done that for the most part.

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Xiaomi Mi A1 (Android One) review: Almost the perfect budget phone

Xiaomi phones always have the same problem. While the company's devices have generally great specifications and design for the price, the software experience is usually not very good. If you've read one of our Xiaomi device reviews, or used one of the company's phones yourself, you probably know what I'm talking about.

All of Xiaomi's phones and tablets ship with MIUI, a heavily modified version of Android that has countless problems. Some of these include Bluetooth connectivity bugs, terrible notification handling, and over-the-top power management that can outright break notifications for many apps. Jordan went in depth about MIUI's issues here, if you're interested in details.

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Moto G5S Plus review: Steadily advancing on flagship territory, but it's not clear why

It's been a few years since the Motorola that we knew and loved was replaced by what I like to call Lenovorola. Gone are the quick updates, Moto Maker, and a lot of other things that made Motorola great; instead, we now have a ton of different models, super slow (or potentially nonexistent) updates, and strange-looking camera bumps.

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Essential Phone review: Essentially okay

Anyone who reads Android Police probably has a good idea who Andy Rubin is—he founded Android before it was acquired by Google, and was in charge of the platform for a number of years. After leaving Google, he dabbled in a few ventures, as very wealthy people are wont to do. Eventually, Rubin started Essential, a company that has now launched its first Android smartphone. The hype train got started earlier this year when Rubin posted an image of the phone showing off its impossibly small bezels, but they hid the unusual cutout in the teaser.

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Galaxy Note8 review: An overpriced S8+ with a pen is still a pretty great phone

A little under a year ago, I'd have said that there might not be a Galaxy Note8 at all. Of course, I'd have been wrong. But after the Note7's disastrous recall episode, it seemed perfectly fair to ask whether the Galaxy Note would continue be a thing. After all, battery fires aside, the Note really didn't seem to be the focus of Samsung's smartphone development the way it once was. The Note7 wasn't much more than a stretched, squared-off Galaxy S7 edge. And even before that, the Note5 wasn't much different from the pen-less Galaxy S6 Edge+ it debuted alongside. If there were a perfect time to call it quits on the Note series, a major recall followed by a total product cancellation would have been it.

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Galaxy S8 Active review: A really rugged, really expensive phone

The Galaxy S8 Active is the fifth Samsung S phone to bear the Active name, and it's easily the most refined take on the concept yet. Currently, the S8 Active is only available on AT&T, and that's the model we've received for review, but eventually, Samsung has less than subtly implied it will make its way to other carriers here in the US, as well to the unlocked market.

What's new compared to the outgoing S7 Active? Frankly, everything.

There are no more hardware navigation keys. The Active key is gone, too. It also doesn't look like it was styled by someone at the local army surplus, either.

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ASUS ZenFone AR review: A decent phone, but Tango still fails to impress

Google has partnered with another manufacturer to produce a phone with Tango on board, for better or for worse. Stepping up to the plate this time is Asus with the ZenFone AR. The first phone ever to support both Tango and Daydream VR comes in a much, much smaller package than last year's Phab2 Pro from Lenovo, and accomplishes both things in an arguably better manner.

The ZenFone AR comes with a pretty good camera, a nice Super AMOLED screen, Nougat, and the least offensive version of ZenUI to date. Unfortunately, it's the battery life that really drags this phone down.

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