I've been using the HTC U Ultra for a little over a full week now. It's the latest "flagship" (I know, that word) from HTC, and the specifications generally would support such a classification. A Snapdragon 821 processor, 5.7" Quad HD LCD display, 4GB of RAM, 64GB of storage, f/1.8 rear camera, UltraPixel front camera, and USB Type C with Qualcomm Quick Charge 3.0 round out the major talking points. The price tag, too, says "top of the line": you'll pay $749 for the privilege of owning a U Ultra here in the US, and that doesn't even mean four-carrier support - you're stuck on GSM networks only. Read More
The Samsung Galaxy Note 7 debacle created quite a gaping wound in the Android world. A lot of people loved that phone, some even ridiculously calling it "perfect." The recalls and eventual cancellation left much to be desired, an opportunity that Xiaomi leaped on. The Mi Note 2, the Chinese OEM's attempt to fill the void, is a big, beautiful, and powerful device.
OnePlus started its existence as a brash upstart, and today it's... a brash upstart. It is, however, a brash upstart that has produced a very good 2016 flagship phone. The OnePlus 3 and 3T are basically the same phone, but the 3T has more power under the hood and dollars on its price tag. Both phones offered similarly good experiences at launch, and now they're even better with Nougat.
So, how do these phones (specifically the OnePlus 3T) hold up? Quite well, but OP's actions in 2017 will be telling. This will be a pivotal year for the company. It could become a staple of the smartphone industry or prove to be just another middling player that will eventually fade away. Read More
Budget flagships are all the rage these days. After all, why would anyone pay $769 for something like a Google Pixel XL when similar or only marginally worse performance can be had from a $439 OnePlus 3T? The category has come a seriously long way since the Nexus 4 first pioneered it, largely thanks to loads of new entrants in the past few years from both new and storied nameplates. Read More
Hardware design is a tricky subject. Some companies take risks to define their own aesthetic, while others borrow, in varying degrees, the design languages of more popular brands. What I have in my hands is the latter; the Meizu Pro 6 Plus borrows heavily from Apple's style, especially when viewed from the front. Its software is also an attempt to mimic iOS, for better or for worse.
Overall, however, I find that this phone is the classic story with a twist. The Pro 6 Plus has some actually nice hardware, but the native Flyme OS is a mixed bag. I am not sure if this is a case of Stockholm syndrome or what, but I found that I could tolerate the software for the most part. 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
It would be understandable if you have never heard of Meizu. While it is one of the top electronics companies in mainland China, the company isn't massively popular outside of the country. The M5 Note is the newest device to come out of Meizu, and like many of its recent phones, is being sold internationally.
From the spec sheet, the M5 Note looks like a solid device. A Mediatek Helio P10 CPU, 1080p LCD screen, at least 3GB of RAM, a massive 4,000mAh battery. The price is perhaps most impressive, costing just 899 CNY for the base model - roughly $131 USD. For comparison, the Moto G4 Play with a Snapdragon 410, 720p display, and 2GB of RAM costs more at its regular price. Read More
Design is extremely important in regard to pretty much everything. From fashion to cars, computer hardware to software, you can never escape good or bad design. Sometimes, the sheer popularity of a product will cause others to copy what they perceive to be worth imitating, despite the inevitable sneers from consumers and competitors alike. Such is the case with the Elephone S7, a pretty unashamed clone of the well-known Galaxy S7 Edge. But what if the copycat is actually halfway decent?
The Ele S7 holds up as a capable device. The hardware is pretty good and it runs an almost stock version of Android, which is a nice change of pace from what we usually see with Chinese phones. Read More
The Lenovo Phab2 Pro is not the first device to have Google's Tango augmented reality platform, but it's the first one to be aimed at consumers. It's also the first Lenovo-branded smartphone to launch in the US. With the Phab2 Pro, you can see virtual items overlaid in the real world, or explore virtual worlds by moving around in the real one. But let's not forget, this is a phone too. People will presumably buy this product to carry around with them on a daily basis, but it's only available as a $500 unlocked device. So, it's up to Lenovo to make a good pitch to US phone buyers who have more choices than ever before. 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