Google announced a new "unlimited" plan for its Fi cellular service this morning, and on paper, it's an improvement in most ways over the company's current pricing model for heavy duty users. Data caps have been increased to 22GB before throttling, while pricing for individuals has been lowered to $70 per month (previously, Fi maxed out at $80/mo for individual users). The catch is that it's $70 per month, full stop — Fi's dynamic data pricing doesn't apply to unlimited subscribers. For those who want to stick with Fi's old dynamic model, they'll still be limited to 15GB per month before throttling may occur, and enjoy the same per-gigabyte pricing they always have. Read More
Today, Apple will announce some new iPhones. Before the year is through, it will sell tens of millions of these phones worldwide, with each sale averaging a price any other smartphone maker could only dream of. Around a month from now, Google will offer its retort, in the form of the Pixel 4. The Pixel 4 will not be the source of any grand claims about sales figures, because Google will probably be lucky to even crack a million units before 2019 ends, if the Pixel 3's struggles are any sort of evidence.
After three years and soon four generations of Pixel smartphones, Google has failed to generate meaningful marketplace traction for its in-house smartphone brand. Read More
The 5G phones are finally coming fast and furious. For example, Samsung's newly-announced Galaxy A90 5G brings some of the best of Samsung's smartphone know-how and 5G at a much more palatable price point. There's just one little catch: it's probably not going to be compatible with the majority of 5G networks in the US. And it definitely won't be the last such 5G phone that doesn't end up in the US this year or next as a result.
For a variety of reasons, most US carriers (T-Mobile, AT&T, and Verizon) have chosen to bank a significant part of their 5G efforts on a technology called millimeter wave, which is commonly abbreviated in the industry as 'mmWave.' This type of 5G works in an extremely high part of the RF spectrum (in excess of 24GHz, and up to 60-70GHz), and has been pushed primarily by modem and chipset developers Qualcomm as a key part of 5G's promise. Read More
The tick-tock cycle of OnePlus phones is a little deceptive. While the almost identical names might make it seem like differences are few, these “T” refreshes do sometimes bring bigger changes in design, as with the OnePlus 5T, or entirely new features, as in the case of the OnePlus 6T last year. Specs for OnePlus’ next flagship phone — likely the “OnePlus 7T Pro” if history holds — will probably be familiar, but that doesn’t mean there aren't any improvements the company can deliver, and I have some wants. Read More
Samsung's phones always have a little something for everyone. If you need extra storage for niche workflows or huge offline music collections, you could always pick up a Galaxy S or Note phone with microSD support, and even enjoy the anachronism of a headphone jack. That's Samsung's M.O.: build phones with everything. But over the years, that approach slowly began to change, and with the Note10, I think it's fair to say the Samsung "kitchen sink" smartphone is now firmly a thing of the past. Read More
Xiaomi has generally been the poster child for the narrative that extols and marvels at the rise of China's young smartphone manufacturers globally. Like Huawei, Oppo, and Vivo, Xiaomi sells tens of millions of phones every year, and it does so at highly aggressive prices—often so low that they're a source of novelty in and of themselves for curious westerners. But the company's stock tells a very different story: of a Xiaomi that has failed to capitalize on its advantages, and is now worth less than a social media network best known for memes and the ramblings of one Very Angry President. Read More
Today, Google fully detailed two of the as-yet-unannounced Pixel 4's features most likely to receive top billing when it debuts in October: 3D facial recognition and radar-powered gesture controls. While only the Soli radar stuff is truly novel in the smartphone industry, Google will also be launching first Android phone with truly secure face unlock rivaling that of Apple's in the iPhone X (other Android phones have used it, but Android as an OS couldn't fully take advantage of it yet).
Following on the tease of the phone and its design earlier in the summer, Google is providing an unprecedented level of insight into a product that is months away from release—the sort of move tech marketers and lawyers traditionally dread, in the event the product fails to deliver, or fails to attract sufficient hype. Read More
Over the last week, I've been revisiting the older OnePlus 6T in the wake of using the 7 Pro as my daily driver for some months. While there are still things about the older phone that I enjoy (and frankly prefer, like the smaller size), I just can't recommend the phone anymore at its current $550 price. OnePlus needs to bring that price down closer to or under $500. Read More
When Google first announced its Smart Display platform, one of the focal points was the kitchen. The Google Assistant would be able to find you recipes, put items into a shopping list, convert units, set timers, and answer simple cooking questions to keep your hands free for the actual task of preparing and cooking a meal. At least, that was the experience in theory. In practice, I've found my smart display to be little more than a glorified timer and music streaming box, with my smartphone continuing to be the invaluable research and display tool I rely on when cooking from a recipe or learning a technique for the first time. Read More
Huawei has a strong, well-known smartphone brand globally. And that's proving to be a liability more than an advantage these days.
When PCMag attempted to ship a Huawei P30 Pro from its UK offices to its US ones via FedEx last week (we covered it here), something annoying—but not unexpected—happened. FedEx refused to carry out the shipment and sent it back to the UK, which then caused the UK parcel handler to come up with a fake customs excuse for the failed delivery. And in the meantime, a flurry of social media help desk responses from the brands only served to confuse, not clarify, the situation. Read More