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Plastic fantastic: The Pixel 3a is a refreshing break from the delicate glass sandwich

Sometime in the last few years, "plastic" became a dirty word in smartphones. The reasons for this — like evoking the kind of cheap and unpleasant designs that defined early Android phones — are probably less important the outcomes. A whole class of materials were re-branded as low-rent, and today even many relatively affordable phones have made the switch to fully aluminum or metal-and-glass sandwiches for the superficially premium look they impart.

But Google's newest smartphone bucks the trend, and in just the right way: the Pixel 3a stands apart with its genuinely nice, unapologetically plastic design.

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In-display fingerprint readers are a mistake — right now, anyway (opinion)

Six months ago, I was excited: The OnePlus 6T had just been officially announced bringing in-display fingerprint sensors to the mainstream US market. This was a genuinely new technology, after all, in a field of nearly-identical gadgets. It gave us all something to talk about as we anticipated all the ways it would change The Phone Experience for the better. But, six months later I've come to the conclusion that in-display fingerprint readers, as they stand today, were a mistake.

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'Superzoom' lenses will be the biggest thing to happen to smartphone cameras in years

For all the fanfare ultra wide angle cameras receive on the internet, it’s getting closer that has long presented the greatest frustration in smartphone photography. Digital zoom has been the stuff of tech-savvy humor for years, a feature reserved for those so illiterate in their usage of cameras as to not understand that it achieves the same end effect as cropping an un-zoomed photo with a simple editor. Why zoom at all, we say, when the camera isn’t able to gather any more data, but instead actually destroys it, and all for the sake of a noisy, blurry photo? While this has a strong ring of “technically true,” I also believe it fundamentally ignores and misunderstands why people use zoom in the first place - and also why I believe optical superzoom systems are the future of smartphone cameras.

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Verizon's Google Pixel exclusive finally appears to be ending - it's about time

Following a report from 9to5Google this morning, we were able to independently corroborate that T-Mobile plans to sell Google's current Pixel 3 and 3 XL smartphones, as well as add that the upcoming (and still unannounced) Pixel 3a and 3a XL will also be available in T-Mobile stores. The exact sale date is unclear, but my guess is that it will be timed against the launch of the new 3a devices, which we're expecting on May 7th. T-Mobile being added to the Pixel roster isn't just news in the sense of T-Mobile, though - it's a pretty big deal in regard to the larger strategy with the Pixel brand and what the end of Verizon exclusivity means, as well.

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Five perspectives on Wear OS for its five-year anniversary

Today marks the fifth anniversary of the original announcement of Wear OS (née Android Wear). The platform has iterated through several different generations of hardware, a change of name, and its software has evolved a lot through the years. With half a decade of experience now behind it, some of us here at Android Police decided to sit down and hash out our feelings for Wear OS in 2019.

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Huawei has now tried passing off DSLR photos as smartphone shots three times - it should know better

A few days back, stories broke that Huawei had tried to pass off not just one, but at least two photos as part of teaser images for the upcoming P30's telescopic optical zoom. Both were professional DSLR shots, one of which was easily reverse-searched as being from a stock image repository on the web, the other outed as shot by someone back in 2009. The facts came to light quickly and without much effort: Huawei was caught red-handed, and its later attempts to sidestep an apology seemed half-hearted at best (which, no: Huawei has not apologized - its statement admits no fault of any kind).

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Foldable phones don't seem ready yet, and they're definitely not worth $2000

"It's the first generation." I heard it over and over during Mobile World Congress whenever the topic of foldable smartphones inevitably arose. Everyone is talking about foldables (which yes, that's not a word, except now it is), and everyone has a take. They're the game-changing future our ever-expanding screens require. They're going to be huge with [insert demographic/region/niche here]. They're expensive now, but they won't always be. They're not going to be very good now, either, but just wait - this is only the first generation.

But it isn't - not exactly. Take a closer look at that image at the top of the post - do you recognize that foldable phone?

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Very bad news site says Pixel 4 "could be" modular because you'll click on it

It's early, but my least favorite news story of 2019 so far is this awful garbage from T3, a tech news site from the UK, about the Pixel 4 potentially being "modular." I won't link to it (nice try, T3!), but I will give you the title and a synopsis.

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Ready or not, 5G will probably be the death of these 3 smartphone companies

5G is either the biggest change to our wireless world in decades or the most overhyped marketing spin from carriers in as long - and it all depends on just who you’re asking. Cynical tech journalists like me have real reason to downplay the technology’s importance and relevance to ordinary consumers, but we needn’t get into all that here. Carrier and phone manufacturers, meanwhile, believe it will usher in a new age of devices and use cases we can’t yet fully imagine. The reality is probably somewhere in the middle - closer to the cynical end, I’d argue! - but I think regardless of how 5G plays out, it means very bad things for struggling phone manufacturers.

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Google hardware year in review: What worked, what didn't, and what we want in 2019

Google’s hardware division is a rare success story inside a remarkably successful company - and one that has taken the better part of a decade to meet that definition. Its ambitions in the physical product space have grown from a geeky internet sideshow into a full-scale retail assault, and 2018 saw that ascendance continue. For all the naysayers it’s had - and there have been many - Google continues to position its hardware portfolio exactly where it needs to be: in stores. Chromecasts and Home Minis litter hundreds of Walmarts, Targets, and Best Buys, and Pixel smartphones are in Verizon locations across the country.

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