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Phone Reviews

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Hands-On With The Nuu Z8, A Decent New Smartphone In the $250-300 Range

We're entering into an era where you no longer have to spend more than a few hundred dollars on a good, usable smartphone. Manufacturers like Blu have done a lot for the budget smartphone, and more mainstream phone makers like Motorola have brought the words "budget" and "flagship" together in a way we didn't think would ever be possible.

I've been messing with a new affordable device from a relatively new manufacturer to the scene here lately: the Nuu Z8. Nuu currently has a couple of other budget devices on the market, but the Z8 is what the company is calling its flagship device.

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Asus ZenFone 2E Review: A Disappointing Low-End Entry In The ZenFone Lineup

Competition in Android smartphones is better now than it's ever been, and not just in the flagship segment. With devices like the Moto G, the ZenFone 2, and various Blu designs, the mid-range is heating up with phones that are jam-packed with value. But how about the low-end, entry phone segment? For those people who just want a device that runs a few apps, plays a nice round of Threes, and maybe browse for some sports scores? Before a few years ago, they were limited to whatever bottom-of-the-line, low-margin phones Samsung and LG would spare.

These days things are a little different.

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Hands-On With The Blu Vivo Selfie, Energy X Plus, And Studio C 5+5

Earlier this week, Blu announced a handful of new phones: the Vivo Selfie, Studio C 5+5, Studio C 5+5 LTE, and Energy X Plus. Each handset has something that makes it stand out from the others, and all of them come in at the low price points that we've come to expect from Blu. In short, we've got a thin and light phone made for selfies, a pair of ultra-affordable devices with dual 5MP shooters, and one with a battery that's in it for the long haul.

I've had three of the four for the last few days, with the only exception being the 5+5 LTE since it's virtually identical to the 5+5, just with the addition of LTE.

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Galaxy S6 Review Addendum: Three Months Later

The Galaxy S6 has been out for three months now, so it's time to revisit this phone and see if any of my feelings from the original review have evolved. At the time this seemed like a pretty fantastic phone with few drawbacks. Samsung made a lot of changes with this year's Galaxy flagship, so does it also avoid some of the long-term pitfalls of past phones? Let's find out.

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ASUS ZenFone 2 Review: A Good Inexpensive Phone That Would Be Much Better With Stock Android

When you think smartphones, ASUS probably rarely comes to mind. While the company has been building Android phones for several years now, their market penetration outside of Asia has been relatively low, and so they rarely get much attention in American or European markets. But the ZenFone 2, when it launched at CES six months ago, definitely raised eyebrows.

At a starting price of just $199, ASUS is offering up a phone with extremely impressive specifications for a do-a-double-take MSRP - it almost sounds too good to be true. Thankfully, I don't think it is - the ZenFone 2 is a solid phone that works pretty much like any Android 5.0+ device you'll encounter while simultaneously blowing the doors off pretty much any competitor at this price point for raw spec sheet power.

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Hands-On With The Blu Life One And Life 8 XL: Two Upcoming Budget Smartphones With A Lot To Offer For The Price

Back at CES earlier this year, Blu announced a handful of phones, including the Vivo Air, Studio X, and Studio Energy. Today, we're looking at the final phone from that announcement, the Life One, as well as another handset Blu has coming out in a few weeks, the Life 8 XL.

Let's jump right in with specs.

Life One

Specs

Display 5-inch 1280x720 display with Gorilla Glass 3
Processor 1.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 410 with Adreno 306
RAM 1GB
Camera 13 MP rear shooter, 5MP front
Storage 8GB with SD card slot (up to 64GB)
Ports microUSB, 3.5mm headphone jack
Wireless LTE, HSPA+, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth
Dimensions 143 x 72.1 x 7.5mm, 125g
Battery 2420mAh
OS Android 4.4.2 (Lollipop coming next month)
Price $149 ($99 for one week during pre-orders)
Buy Amazon (Pre-order; release date: June 19th)

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The first thing worth noting about the Life One is the processor - it's a 64 bit Snapdragon 410.

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Hands On With The Studio C, Blu's First Lollipop Phone - Available Today For $99

I've spent time with a lot of Blu handsets over the past couple of years, and one of the biggest downsides (to me, at least) is always the outdated software. In fact, every Blu phone I've looked at so far this year has been running KitKat. Fortunately, Lollipop is set to hit a few of the company's handsets starting this month, and it also just released the Studio C - its first offering to run Lollipop right out of the box.

The Studio C is a modest midranger with specs similar to some of Blu's other more recent devices (like the Studio Energy):

Specs

Display 5-inch 1280x720 with Blu Infinite View Technology
Processor 1.3GHz quad-core Mediatek MT6582 with Mali-400 GPU
RAM 1 GB
Camera 8MP rear, 2MP front
Storage 8GB internal, microSD Card slot
Ports microUSB, 3.5mm headphone jack
Wireless 850/1700/1900, Dual SIM
Dimensions 144 x 72.4 x 9.4 mm, 172 g
Battery 3,000 mAh
OS Android 5.0
Price $99
Buy Amazon

Powerhouse?

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LG G4 Review: Perhaps The Most Practically Appealing Of 2015's Flagship Phones

LG has developed something of a cult following in the smartphone enthusiast world since it introduced the G2 back in 2013. With the G3, it became the first major smartphone OEM to bring a QHD (2.5K) display, among the first to use the Snapdragon 801 processor, introduced a great camera with OIS, and generally built a fast, bleeding-edge phone.

The G4 could be seen as a largely corrective measure - mostly existing to improve on its predecessor's pitfalls. The G3's display was criticized as dull and lacking much in the way of brightness. The G4's has much better contrast, improved viewing angles, output, and uses less power.

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Hands-On With The Blu Selfie: Dual 13MP Cameras And A Great Form Factor Go A Long Way

While smartphone enthusiasts typically care deeply about every spec inside the phones they buy, there's one feature that nearly every smartphone owner wants: a good camera. In fact, on several occasions, I've had friends and family ask which phone they should buy based around that one qualification: which phone has the best camera? Needless to say, a good shooter is a pretty big deal in the smartphone world.

With a name like Selfie, to say that Blu's newest handset is all about the camera experience would be pretty accurate. Not only does it have a 13 MP rear shooter, but also a 13 MP front camera with flash.

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Alcatel OneTouch Idol 3 (5.5") Review: $250 Buys You So Much More Phone Than It Used To

Not long ago, a $250 unlocked smartphone was probably asking for trouble - a sketchy processor, WVGA display, potato-resolution camera, and 3G were basically what you could expect. But as technology has marched forward, component costs for things like 1080p LCD panels, 13MP camera sensors, and LTE have become much cheaper.

The Alcatel OneTouch Idol 3 5.5" (I know, I know, the name is ridiculous), which I will from here on call the Idol 3 for the sake of brevity and sanity, has the things you want in a modern smartphone. A big - but not ridiculously large - 1080p IPS-LCD display, a modern Qualcomm processor, dual front-facing speakers, LTE, a 13MP Sony IMX image sensor, and a respectably capacious 2910mAh battery.

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