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Phone Reviews

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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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Samsung Galaxy S6 Review: Samsung's Most Unexpected And Best Phone To Date

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.

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HTC One M9 Review: The Phone Only HTC Could Build... For The Third Time

HTC was one of Android's earliest supporters. When the Dream launched in 2009, little did HTC likely know that its fortunes would skyrocket in the few years after, along with its share of the smartphone market. Not long after, though, those fortunes began to wane - with the launch of the original One series (One X, S, V), HTC's first attempt to rebrand its smartphone design image began.

The One X was, and I still think is, a beautiful phone. While the Tegra version was lamentable, the Qualcomm-powered variants received generally wide praise. The next year, One M7 launched. It, too, was very good-looking, and while the Ultrapixel camera was controversial, the phone debuted to very positive reviews.

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Hands On With The Blu Studio X Plus And Studio G, Available Now Exclusively From Best Buy

 

Back at CES in January, Blu announced a handful of upcoming devices that were all basically slated to hit shelves in the first quarter of 2015. We've already taken a look at two of those phones: the super sleek and thin Vivo Air, as well as the massive battery-packing Studio Energy. Today, I have the Studio X Plus (which is exactly like the Studio X, just larger) and the ultra-affordable Studio G, two more devices that were announced in that same lineup.

Both phones are from Blu's Studio line, which is basically Blu's midrange series of devices. You typically find slightly slower processors and lower-quality displays than what you'd see on the company's higher-end devices, but they also have prices to match.

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