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Phone Reviews

183

LG V40 review: The best LG's ever built still isn't quite enough

The LG V40 is almost certainly the best smartphone the company has ever released. It has the best cameras, the best display, the best performance, and the most refined design of any LG phone I've ever used. And in 2018, that just isn't enough to more than an also-ran in the high-end smartphone space. At $950 unlocked, the V40 seeks to play in the smartphone big leagues with the Galaxy Note9 and iPhone XS. The sad truth is that for all this phone does right, it does just enough wrong (or simply, not as well) to knock itself out of contention.

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184

Essential Phone re-review: Good software isn't good enough for most of us

When it was first released, Essential's entry into the phone market was a bit of a flop. Reviews for the PH-1 weren't profoundly negative, but the phone's almost $700 price was humorously high considering its features and problems at the time. A bit over a year later, many of its early issues have been fixed or improved, the phone is one of just a handful to be updated to Android 9 Pie, and it's dropped down as cheap as $250 for Amazon Prime Day — though it's closer to $330 now.

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125

Sony Xperia XZ3 review: After years of mediocrity, Sony is finally ready to compete

For several years now, Sony fans and critics have been calling for the Japanese company to move away from its boxy, dated hardware design language and join its rivals in releasing a modern Android smartphone. When the Xperia XZ2 and XZ2 Compact arrived at MWC 2018 in February, we hailed them as a small step in the right direction. Curved glass and greatly reduced bezels around an 18:9 screen combined with high-end internals and a relatively stock treatment of Android — a recipe that was also followed for the overpriced XZ2 Premium that came in the summer.

It’s somewhat surprising that we’re talking about another flagship Sony phone so soon, yet the Xperia XZ3 stole the show at IFA 2018 and goes on sale at the beginning of October, just six months after the XZ2 was released and three months after the XZ2 Premium.

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45

Alcatel 7 review: A decent budget phone with one major drawback

There aren't very many good budget phones in the United States. There are a few standouts, like the Nokia 6.1 and Moto G6, but most pale in comparison to budget devices sold in Asia and parts of Europe.

Alcatel, a sub-brand of TCL, is somewhat well known in the United States thanks to the hordes of inexpensive phones it sells through prepaid carriers (like MetroPCS and Cricket). The company's phones usually aren't anything special, but the recently-announced Alcatel 7 piqued my interest.

The Alcatel 7 has a 6-inch 2160x1080 2.5D display, a 4,000mAh battery, and USB Type-C. At a retail price of $179.99, it seems like good value on paper, even though it's a MetroPCS exclusive.

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157

Xiaomi Mi A2 review: Two steps forward, one step back

Very few smartphone makers can eke out as much value from a device as Xiaomi. We often look at the company's line-up and wonder how small its margins must be if it can delivery such high specs at such low prices. This is especially true of the low-end and mid-range market, where others scramble to offer minimum usable specs and Xiaomi's devices are impressively better.

But for the longest time, recommending Xiaomi's products outside of its foothold markets of China, India, and South East Asia, had been difficult. You couldn't find them easily so you'd had to purchase from an untrusted source and gamble with future support in case something went wrong with the hardware, plus the Android interface felt more tailored toward the Eastern markets than the Western ones.

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48

ASUS Zenfone Live L1 review: The best phone you can get for $110, but you shouldn't buy one (yet)

We've been critical when it comes to Android Go-powered phones in the US, but Asus' new Zenfone Live L1 is set to change our mind. It's the first genuinely good experience I've had with the platform, and combined with a Snapdragon 425, 3,000mAh battery, and price-defying 5.5" 720p IPS display, I think it could be the best phone you can buy for $110. At least, it will be once Asus fixes a serious issue it has with randomly locking up, which the company promises with a future update.

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103

Asus Zenfone 5Z review: As good as it is, buy a OnePlus 6 instead

When Asus announced the Zenfone 5 lineup at MWC, all eyes were fixed on the the king of the group, the 5Z. Fast forward almost six months and the phone is finally available to purchase at a mere $500 in the U.S. While the high-end Android flagship market is squarely controlled by Samsung, there's a curious middle ground between budget and top-tier devices. This "affordable flagship" space is heavily populated with offerings from OnePlus, Honor, and Xiaomi, but Asus has set its sights on a piece of that pie with the 5Z.

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353

Galaxy Note9 review: It's $1000, and it's the one to get

Spending $1000 on a smartphone is something we'd all probably have balked at just five years ago. How times have changed.

The Galaxy Note9 is Samsung's first mainstream handset to crest the magical four-digit mark, and I sincerely doubt it will be the last. Thousand dollar phones are the new normal, and for all that is excellent about the newest Note, that we've reached this point still seems fairly inevitable. Last year's Note8 was $930, this year's is $70 more than that - and it's easy to see why: The Note9 starts at 128GB of storage and 6GB of RAM, and packs in a larger 4000mAh battery.

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26

Moto Z3 review: An okay 2017 flagship phone in 2018

Motorola is still pumping out successful mid-range and budget phones, but a smash-hit flagship device has eluded it for years. The Moto Z phones with their modular accessories have potential, but consumers aren't running out to buy many $200 projectors or $130 photo printers. If you ignore the Moto Mods, past Moto Z flagships have at least been top-of-the-line phones with uncluttered software and modern specs. That's what makes the new Moto Z3 so perplexing. It's specced like a phone from 2017. Plus, it's exclusive to Verizon.

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183

Sony Xperia XZ2 Premium review: A Sony vanity project and nothing more

There was a time not that many years ago when Sony was trusted implicitly by consumers all over the world. You knew if you bought a Sony product, you were getting the best, and people were willing to pay more for that peace of mind. However, Sony has struggled to find its place in today's hyper-competitive world, particularly when it comes to smartphones. Sony makes phones that are good in some ways, but the issues often outweigh the strengths. Through it all, the price is still consistently higher than competing devices.

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