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Reviews

22

Sony Xperia 1 II review: Missing the point

As smartphones have converged on the "flat glass slab" form factor, companies like Samsung and OnePlus have risen to the top. Sony, on the other hand, has not. The $1,200 Sony Xperia 1 II is the company's latest attempt to sell you a phone, but it feels more like a vanity project for Sony than a viable product. It's got dazzling specifications, but that's not enough to make a phone competitive these days.

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5

Samsung Galaxy A21 review: Large device, small price

Samsung loves its big, flashy, obscenely expensive phones, but it sells a ton of budget phones, too. The Galaxy A21 is certainly big, but it's not flashy, and it definitely isn't expensive. For $250, it offers a generously expansive display and solid battery life — but average-at-best performance and cameras for the price should give budget-conscious big-phone enthusiasts pause.

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307

Google Pixel 4a review: All the phone you need, none of what you don't

When the Pixel 3a launched at Google I/O 2019, it came closer budget smartphone perfection than any phone in the US had before. That is, until the iPhone SE landed. The Pixel 4a is taking Apple's pint-sized iPhone on directly this year, and while many would argue it's an apples to oranges comparison, I think Google actually comes out on top in a lot of important ways. I can't say I necessarily expected to feel that way, either. Google has a reputation for the little, nagging issues that often make its phones feel less than they could be. With the Pixel 4a, though, it really is a struggle to find meaningful flaws—and I'm serious about that.

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64

LG Velvet review: Different doesn't necessarily mean 'better'

LG could use a win. While it once innovated with modular hardware and pushing the whole industry past 16:9 screens, it's been hard to find any unambiguous successes over the last few generations of G- and V-series flagships. That's not to say that they weren't decently good phones, but none really stood out — maybe the V40 was one of the best, but even then we couldn't recommend paying big money for it. Is it time to take things back to the drawing board?

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1

Tribit QuietPlus 72 headphones review: Cancelling noise and high price tags

Wireless headphones have been around for years, but they've taken on increased importance now that phone manufacturers are leaving out the 3.5mm jack. Companies like Sony and Bose have been cranking out great options, but most of those products cost $200 or $300. That money can get you a lot of premium features like active noise cancellation and high fidelity sound — but do you need to spend that much? The Tribit QuietPlus 72 headphones cost just $70 and offer some premium features like ANC and multi-device pairing. However, the construction is lower quality, there are no customization options, and the ANC is merely okay — they don't excel in any one area.

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259

OnePlus Nord review: Back to flagship killing

OnePlus got started with affordable so-called “flagship killers” like the OnePlus One and OnePlus 3. But over the years, its phones have become more expensive (as have most phones, to be fair). Its focus on getting more features and advanced hardware have increased too, though, culminating in the recent OnePlus 8 Pro — every bit a true "flagship," and with a price tag to match. Fans of the brand have thus yearned for a return to the alluring value proposition of old, and the company has finally obliged in the form of the OnePlus Nord.

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4

Samsung Galaxy A11 review: A competent entry-level smartphone

Samsung has so many budget phones that it can be hard to keep track of them all. One of the company's more recent releases is the Galaxy A11, a low-end device with an MSRP of $179.99. However, the sub-$200 price bracket is a highly competitive one, and the Galaxy A11 is fighting the new Moto E, Nokia 2.3, and even other Samsung-made phones for your hard-earned cash.

The Galaxy A11 sits near the bottom of Samsung's phone lineup in the United States, alongside last year's Galaxy A10e and the Galaxy A01. It's a capable smartphone, but depending on what features you care about, there are better options out there.

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19

Motorola Edge review: Lasts so long on a charge you'll get tired of holding it

Motorola took a few years off from making flagship phones, but 2020 was supposed to be its big chance to get back into the high-end. Well, it's a lot harder to sell a $1,000 phone in the midst of a global pandemic, but maybe a somewhat cheaper phone has a shot? The new Motorola Edge is the pared-down version of the Edge+ that launched a few months ago. Unlike that phone, this one is unlocked and has a Snapdragon 765 for 5G connectivity rather than the 865.

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51

OnePlus Buds review: Fantastic $80 AirPods knockoffs

Bluetooth headphones are a dime a dozen, but good headphones — especially good true wireless headphones — are anything but cheap. OnePlus used to be known for its "flagship-killer" mantra, and now the company is bringing the same approach to Bluetooth headphones with its new OnePlus Buds. For just $80, you can get a good-sounding and very comfortable pair of truly wireless earbuds (or, more honestly speaking, AirPods clones), and they're easy to recommend.

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44

Fire HD 8 Plus (2020) review: One step closer to the combo tablet-smart display dream

Amazon's Fire tablets are popular for one, simple reason: they're really, really cheap. But what happens when you make a slightly-less-cheap Fire tablet? That's the question Amazon sought to answer with the Fire HD 8 Plus, a very-slightly-better version of the new Amazon Fire HD 8 last month, which was already a decent upgrade from previous Fire tablets in both hardware and software.

With the HD 8 Plus, Amazon attempts to bring some quality of life improvements like more RAM and wireless charging—a rarity in any tablet—to the table. Combined with the wireless charging stand that essentially turns the HD 8 Plus into a detachable Echo Show, Amazon has what to date is probably the best version of a combination tablet smart display (even if it's not amazing as either).

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