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Phone Reviews

349

[Update: Two weeks later] The OnePlus 7 Pro is the best smartphone you can buy right now

The flagship smartphone space is getting pretty stale in 2019. LG and HTC are floundering, overall sales are declining, Google's Pixels are an expensive bundle of compromises, Huawei has left the high-end US market, and Samsung is... Samsung. There's space for disruption, and while we wait for other Chinese OEMs to join the stateside fray, OnePlus is making a big push to compete with the latest $1000 flagships. The only catch when it comes to its new OnePlus 7 Pro is that it costs $670.

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132

The Huawei P30 Pro is the world's best camera phone, even with a future in doubt

I've had mixed feelings about Huawei phones for years. The company's intrusive EMUI software was to blame for much of that, but a history of  sub-par camera performance and its spotty update track record didn't help. When we reviewed the Mate 20 Pro, we saw a lot of progress, with Huawei shipping a phone with the most recent version of Android mere months after it had launched. Stellar cameras, flagship performance, and an excellent OLED display hit the point home: Huawei was very ready to play in the smartphone big leagues.

Fast-forward to 2019, and the P30 Pro takes what made the Mate 20 Pro great and just keeps building on it.

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77

The ASUS Zenfone 6 is a surprise flagship at a surprisingly low price

Last year's Asus Zenfone 5Z was an excellent phone with great hardware and an even better price point. The Zenfone 6, however, takes everything its predecessor did well and ups the ante with a wholly original design, powerful hardware, and a motorized flip-up camera, all while starting at $499 like the 5Z.

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127

OnePlus 7 review: A superb update to the 6T and still the best value smartphone around

In a long-expected move, OnePlus launched a more premium device earlier this month with a more premium price tag to boot. US consumers were presented the OnePlus 7 Pro as the only option for a brand-new OnePlus phone, but other markets have also been treated a with a cheaper alternative. The standard OnePlus 7 is something of an updated 6T — practically identical on the outside but with some significant enhancements on the inside — and at £499/€559, it also starts at the same price. Interestingly, the OnePlus 7 is even cheaper than the 6T in India where it starts at just 32,999 INR.

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34

The Honor 20 Pro is a stripped down Huawei P30 Pro — in all the right ways

 

Over the last six months or so, Honor has undertaken a rebranding exercise in part to give the impression of a more modern smartphone maker that appeals to a youthful audience and in part to distance itself from parent company Huawei. In view of recent political developments, it’s obviously hugely beneficial for Huawei to have a sub-brand that carries a different name and cachet, although they come as a package as far as Google is concerned and that looks like it could spell trouble for both.

Let's assume, for a moment, that it will all get sorted out (otherwise this review will have been a massive waste of time).

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276

Review: The Pixel 3a and 3a XL make almost any phone under $500 look bad

The Pixel 3a, Google’s new entry-level smartphone starts at an attractive $399, and comes in only two configurations: regular and extra large. The 3a XL is the phone I’ve been using for over a week now, and it costs a bit more, at $479. But that seems eminently reasonable for the larger 6” screen and 3700mAh battery the extra $80 net you. Otherwise, there really aren’t any noteworthy differences: both phones have 64GB of storage, 4GB of RAM (yes, yes, I know), Snapdragon 670 processors, and identical cameras. And no doubt, many people’s first question with a cheaper version of any phone will be “what am I giving up?” To be sure, that’s important - and you can find the answers over here.

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105

The LG G8 is a good phone that can't escape some of the bad ideas behind it

Right now, the dominant trend in flagship smartphone design is one of refinement. Instead of aiming to sell shoppers on the appeal of tricks like modular hardware, or overloading a handset with gimmicky sensors, successful phones are instead trying to achieve the platonic ideal of basically existing as little more than one big screen. That's driven recent efforts like the proliferation of in-display fingerprint sensors, pop-out selfie cams, and the evolution of the notch to hole-punch designs. But you wouldn't know much of that, to look at the LG G8 ThinQ.

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120

With the Moto G7, Lenovo finally killed the G-series magic

Motorola started the trend of cheap phones that aren't junk with the original Moto G back in 2013. That was the first time you could buy a phone for a couple hundred bucks that would get you through a day without making you want to hurl it through the nearest window. The success of that phone led other OEMs to target lower prices, and the battle rages to this day. However, Motorola has moved the Moto G a bit more up-market. Each successive generation has been a little more expensive, but some premium smartphone features are still missing.

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80

The Sony Xperia 10 is really long and really boring

After a period of what seemed like smartphone stagnation, we're finally seeing some weird devices again. With edge-to-edge screens, hole-punch cameras, and displays that fold in half being high-end oddities, Sony saw fit to shake up the budget formula, too, and plopped ultra-tall 21:9 displays in its Xperia 10 and 10 Plus. And while I applaud its efforts, being long doesn't save the Xperia 10 line from being terminally boring.

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109

The Nokia 9 PureView is a good phone ruined by serious problems

The HMD-backed resurgence of Nokia in the smartphone market has been a real treat to watch. After years of watching Microsoft bungle its Nokia acquisition, the Nokia name is again emblazoned on excellent smartphone products. However, most Nokia phones have been toward the budget end of the spectrum. They've been good for the money, but the Nokia 9 PureView is a true flagship with high-end specs, a wild five-camera setup, and an in-display fingerprint sensor. All that, and it's a few hundred dollars less than competing phones.

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