Samsung's flagship announcements have become cornerstones of the Android upgrade cycle. Just like last year, the company has announced two new Galaxy-branded phones at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona: the Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 Edge. Both phones are modest bumps over their previous designs, both in terms of hardware and style, but there are some notably improved features that power users and practical consumers will both appreciate.
The new phones bring back two of the most-missed features that were dropped from the S6 generation: expandable storage (via MicroSD cards) and water-resistant bodies. The former comes from a new "hybrid" nano-SIM tray, which houses both the SIM card and the MicroSD card in a single metal tray that slides out via a standard SIM tool.
I have been using the Google Pixel XL for six months now. Not continuously, mind you - I have taken breaks here and there. But after using the Galaxy S8+, the LG G6, and the OnePlus 3T, there is only one phone I've instinctively found myself returning to, and it's this one. Google's Pixel isn't without its flaws; in fact, it has a great many I can cite with ease.
The Bluetooth connectivity sucks. The back of the phone has very obvious wear rub. The glass window scratches easily. It's not waterproof. 'OK Google' hotword detection breaks for no apparent reason, necessitating a reboot.
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.
I've been using the Pixel 5 for the better part of a week now, and it's the first Google phone in years I'm getting a very particular feeling about. It takes great photos, I think the physical design is muted in a very charmingly Google way, and the software is exactly the unfettered Android experience I've come to know and love. But I'm just not sure how long I'm going to keep using it now that this review has gone up.
The Pixel 5 is by its nature an exercise in compromise. A slower chipset, the lack of face unlock, a missing telephoto camera lens, and cost cuts on components like haptics make it a bizarre case of this year's phone being worse in very material ways than last year's.
I can already tell I’ll have a hard time going back to Android’s software navigation keys.
One of the most pleasantly surprising features of the iPhone X - and something that’s going to read like it’s straight out of Phil Schiller’s marketing playbook - comes in the form of what Apple removed from the phone: the home button. By forcing the issue of gesture navigation instead of going half-in with soft keys, Apple’s made a convert of me. I like gesture nav.
It’s also kind of broken. There’s no universal gesture to go back (some apps let you swipe from the left - sometimes), and the quick switcher button at the top left of the phone requires some serious thumb acrobatics to reach.
Okay, not everything was unveiled. One piece of information we were waiting to see confirmed was the processor. Rather than adopt the Snapdragon 810, LG has opted for the 808. It and Qualcomm boast that with this processor the device is able to get more than a full day of battery life.
The Nexus 5 was perhaps the worst-kept secret in tech this year, but nonetheless, rumor and speculation built up a category 5 hypestorm around it - everything from the farfetched, like revolutionary camera tech and flexible displays, to the mundane-but-desirable, like a much larger battery or 3GB of RAM.
But now the Nexus 5 is finally here, and Google has, for the most part, built a very iterative product. As with every Nexus, the design is all-new, though the phone still carries that typically understated Nexus look. The display is just a bit larger, at 4.95", the 8MP OIS camera isn't a huge step forward, the phone isn't all that much lighter or thinner (9g and 0.5mm, respectively), and the battery has grown a paltry 200mAh.
Of the two communication apps that Google announced at I/O, Duo surely seemed like the less interesting one. Video calls have been done again and again, and by now, if you have someone you want to talk to and see at the same time, odds are you already have your preferred way of doing that. But my last few days with Duo have shown me another side to the story. Duo isn't trying to revolutionize video calls, it just wants to approach them from a more modern perspective, one that builds on our smartphone-carrying habits, our needs for immediacy, and our disdain for complexity.
Now that Google's phones are ditching the headphone jack, it only makes sense that the company wants to sell you some expensive Bluetooth earbuds. At the press event today, Google announced the 'Pixel Buds', a pair of earbuds with Assistant built-in.
It's been a month and change since Google launched its first true wireless earbuds. When I first got my hands on the Pixel Buds, I was struck by their fit and finish, comfort, and sound quality, but nagging problems like audible interference at low volumes and short battery life left me feeling lukewarm on the whole. I've been using them regularly ever since, but unfortunately, my opinion hasn't changed: there are too many compromises in the 2020 Pixel Buds to justify their price for most buyers.