By now you’re probably familiar with the Huawei ban. Back in May, as part of the US government’s pointless trade war with China, Huawei was put on an “entity list” preventing American companies from doing business with the Chinese giant. As a result, Huawei lost access to Intel and Qualcomm’s chips, Microsoft and Google’s software — like Windows and Google Mobile Services (GMS) — and much more US tech.
Huawei mostly makes phones using its own Kirin processors, so losing access to Qualcomm’s hardware isn’t a huge issue. The company can also continue using Android since it’s open source. But losing access to GMS means new Huawei phones cannot run Google’s apps or services, or third party apps that use Google’s APIs — a deal breaker in many markets, including Europe, where Huawei handsets are extremely popular. Read More
The OnePlus 7T sounds like my perfect phone on paper, packing a nice high-end chipset, a bright 1,000 nit 90Hz screen, and the latest Android 10 software. While flagships are pushing the market into fatigue at over a thousand dollars, this phone champions affordability at "just" $600. In fact, I loved almost everything about the OnePlus 7T, though folks like me who are picky when it comes to screens may be disappointed. Read More
We've already taken a look at KaiOS, the operating system for flip phones that Google has invested millions of dollars into. It's designed to bring improvements from the smartphone era, such as personal device tracking and VoLTE, back to the world (and price point) of feature phones. The platform is already a smash hit in countries like India, but until now, the only KaiOS phones to appear in the United States are running older OS versions with the app store and other features missing. Read More
As much as I like to credit to HMD Global for giving Motorola some desperately-needed competition here in America, some of the company's latest phones have been... problematic. The Nokia 4.2 suffers from performance issues, the 9 PureView had a buggy camera and fingerprint sensor, and last year's Nokia 7.1 has a handful of hardware and software problems.
The newest device in Nokia's lineup is the 7.2, a mid-range device priced at $350 in the United States and €299 in Europe. It has a similar design to last year's 7.1 (gotta love the notch-and-chin combo) with the same price, but the hardware has received a minor refresh, and there's an all-new camera setup. Read More
Asus has been on a roll with its Android devices lately. The Zenfone 6 made headlines earlier this year for bringing flagship specifications to a sub-$500 price point, giving OnePlus a run for its money. Last year's ROG Phone, sold under the company's 'Republic of Gamers' brand, was also a pretty great device. Nearly a year later, Asus has followed it up with a sequel. Read More
Between my podcast and my various writing gigs, I play with a lot of new phones — about one per week, actually. Most of these are the usual sort of high-end stuff (both premium and affordable), some are specialized, niche products, and a few are mid-range devices. Obviously, my dance card is pretty full, so I rarely get the chance to dip my toes in the pool of oddball Chinese phones. I recently partnered with an online store for my blog and they offered to send me a sub-$300 handset of my choice. I settled on the uleFone Armor 6E, an affordable, ruggedized phone with decent specs — at least on paper. Read More
Motorola once held a practically unchallenged position at the top of the budget smartphone food chain, but increasingly capable competition from the likes of Nokia and a host of Chinese brands has changed the landscape in recent years. The now Lenovo-owned company has also lost its value proposition edge, with the Moto G7 not able to justify its $300 price tag and the recently announced Moto E6 arriving with a perplexing $50 price hike. At the same time, the brand’s high-end lineup is also in disarray — the Moto Z4 continues the focus on irrelevant Mods rather than genuinely compelling hardware. Read More
The Galaxy Note10+ is the biggest Galaxy Note Samsung's released yet (which tends to be the case every year), but I'll get straight to the point: it's quite possibly the one with the fewest differences from its smaller Galaxy S siblings, as well. Even size doesn't seem to be much of a differentiator anymore, as the six-month-old Galaxy S10+ is a scant few millimeters shorter and narrower than the mighty Note10+. This is where I've ended up after using the phone for a couple of weeks, and I just can't shake that comparison. Read More
Sony used to be one of the most successful mobile companies in the world, but it never really got into a groove as modern smartphones took over the market. Sony has been on a slow downward slide for the last decade thanks to a string of mediocre, overpriced devices and failing relations with carriers. There have been some bright spots along the way, though, and Sony has been focusing on the hardware more in recent years. Last year's Xperia XZ3 was an encouraging improvement, and the new Xperia 1 is better still. However, it's just not good enough. Read More
I’ll just come right out and say it: gaming phones are a gimmick. You can get 99% of the same gaming experience using a flagship without sacrificing other core functionality like camera performance. And don’t get me wrong—shoulder buttons, blinking lights, and other gaming-specific features are certainly nice to have, but hardcore gaming on phones isn’t a big enough market (at least yet). In reality, too few mobile games are designed to take full advantage of extra controls or 90Hz displays.
Before you reach for your pitchforks, though, there’s one area where gaming phones have been leading the pack lately, and that’s value—at least on paper. Read More