Aukey is among our favorite brands when it comes to affordable and powerful chargers, but some evidence is mounting that legitimate reviews might not be enough for the company. A 7GB data leak on an unsecured Chinese server (spotted by SafetyDetectives) exposed a number of Amazon sellers offering customers free products in exchange for favorable reviews, and it looks like Aukey is one of the companies caught in the middle of this scheme. Amazon has taken action and removed almost all products sold by the company.
Since their inception, durability has been a pressing issue for foldable devices, as evidenced by the launch problems that plagued the original Galaxy Fold. The Z Flip and Z Fold2 represented a significant leap in build quality, refining the design and greatly improving the hinge mechanism. But even with those changes, there was still the conspicuous absence of any IP rating; it's much harder to waterproof something with moving parts, after all. Thankfully, Samsung may have found a way to bring some level of ingress protection to the upcoming Z Flip2 and Z Fold3.
Oppo isn't a household name in the US, but in Europe and other territories it's a common sight for buyers of budget and midrange devices alike. The company's Find flagship line (its equivalent to the Galaxy S) is being updated at an event in a couple of weeks, but a new leak is already managing to reveal pretty much all the info you could want on these upcoming phones.
Niantic has just released a beta and dogfood app for Ingress Prime on the Google Play Store. These are both clearly testing apps for the game, and the beta's description even provides a link to a Google Doc for users to report the issues they run into when testing this beta (though this link's text is currently cut off, so you can't navigate to the appropriate page). Then there's the dogfood app, which should ideally exist for Niantic employees to test new features. However, having installed the titles, it's clear they are public-facing, so everyone is free to jump into both the dogfood and beta apps to check them out, and apparently, the release notes for the dogfood version will appear in the Ingress Prime release notes in the future.
While Google did release a "flagship" Pixel 5 this year, I think the more budget-friendly Pixel 4a 5G has stolen its thunder. The sleeper-hit is basically a bigger Pixel 5 that's missing a few features, but $200 cheaper. That means skipping out on an IP rating, 90Hz display, a bit of RAM, and a metal (ish) build, but you get a bigger screen and a headphone jack, paired with with the same camera, internals, and the Pixel software experience. At just $500, this is my favorite phone of 2020.
Smartphone gimbals (a.k.a. stabilizers) aren't a new product category, but they've changed and improved quite a bit over the years. While there are always new features being added, that can make them cumbersome and get in the way of usability. Zhiyun is trying out a more simplified and compact design with the Smooth-X and Smooth-XS that's targeted at travelers and casual users. These aren't as flexible as most gimbals, but they're easier to use, cost less, and take less space.
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As the Pixel 5 starts to make its way into customers' hands, we've received several reports of a gap between the screen's plastic bumper and the bioresin-coated aluminum frame of the phone. Reports vary, but the area around the front-facing camera appears to be a hotspot for the problem. Although customers were concerned this gap could affect the phone's IP-rated water resistance, a representative on Google's support forums claims its 'a normal part of the design' and has no impact on water and dust resistance or functionality.
The Pokémon GO developer Niantic has just announced its fourth game, and yes, it's another augmented reality title. Shocking, I know. Since Niantic has already reskinned its original AR game Ingress with a Pokémon theme and a Harry Potter theme, the studio has now set its sights on the popular board game Catan, in cooperation with Asmodee. This upcoming title is called Catan: World Explorers, and it's billed as a massively-multiplayer augmented reality game that will "transform the entire Earth into one giant game of Catan," which at least sounds somewhat interesting.
Pokémon GO might not be as popular as it used to be, especially amid a pandemic that has many of us staying home as much as we can, but the company behind it is nevertheless working on improving the game. As such, Niantic has announced that it will start testing reality blending next month, which will allow Pokémon to hide behind real-world objects that block your view, just as though they were real.
With the OnePlus 8, the company has put together a compelling phone that has a very calculated mix of features and compromises to keep its price tag relatively reasonable. The emerging Chinese brand that once started off in the mid-tier segment is now sailing in premium waters — a perfect recipe for leaving one’s existing customers in dilemma. The OnePlus 6 and 6T, released in 2018, are nearing their two-year cycles, and many of their owners were eyeing the 8 as a fitting replacement. But the substantially higher starting price of the non-Pro 2020 model has somewhat diluted the value-for-money element, posing a tough question for those due for an upgrade: Is the OnePlus 8 even worth upgrading to?