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hands-on

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The Elder Scrolls: Blades shows potential in first public demo (hands-on)

The yearly E3 expo is always a major event for video games, but smartphone games are rarely showcased. Even Fortnite, one of the most popular smartphone games in existence at the moment, only had playable demos of the home console versions. Earlier this week, Bethesda announced The Elder Scrolls: Blades for iPhone and Android, and it showed off the game to E3 attendees.

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AsteroidOS 1.0 is a promising open-source smartwatch OS with plenty of room for improvement

When smartwatches first hit the market several years ago, I immediately hopped on board. As an avid lover of watches, I found myself very interested in the concept of wearing a timepiece that also doubled as a notification mirror for my phone. At the time, I worked in jobs where phone use was either discouraged or outright prohibited, whether by policy or the frantic pace of the position. But unfortunately for me, I have a compulsion to know what's going on with my phone at any and all times — I can't just ignore my phone going off. So smartwatches offered me a chance to keep my phone in my pocket, but still be kept apprised of my incoming notifications.

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Hands-on with the Nokia 2.1, 3.1, and 5.1: HMD keeps making great value Android phones

The Nokia brand has been through an incredible transformation in recent years, under the guidance of HMD Global. Its products have received almost universal praise, so much so that we’re now at a point when I would honestly recommend a Nokia phone ahead of pretty much anything else in the budget-to-midrange space. Recent Nokia devices feel like they should be more expensive than they are, have a pleasing minimal design aesthetic, and — perhaps most importantly — they all run either Android Go or Android One, meaning they get fast updates and are devoid of bloatware.

With another $100 million of investment recently announced, it's hard not to look at the success HMD Global is having and wonder why more OEMs don’t go down the same route — the "pure, secure, and up-to-date" motto must really resonate with consumers trying to get the best possible deal for their money.

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HTC U12+ hands-on: Bigger, better, and just a bit weirder

Last year, it felt like the sudden rise of smartphones with extra-wide-aspect-ratio screens — those starting at 18:9 and going up from there — caught HTC by surprise. While spring flagships from the likes of LG and Samsung were early adopters of the new screen geometry, HTC's U11 came across like a leftover from 2016, with its bog-standard 5.5-inch 16:9 panel.

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OnePlus 6 hands-on: A somewhat less obnoxious notch

After numerous teases, leaks, and deleted Twitter polls, the OnePlus 6 is official. OnePlus has made a number of significant changes that its fans might not love, but the OnePlus 6 is very 2018. This device sports a screen notch, which is all the rage among smartphone OEMs. There's also an all-glass chassis, which OnePlus has resisted for years. This is still a OnePlus phone, so it comes with killer specs and a pretty reasonable price tag.

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[Hands-on] Dungeon Hunter Champions, a mashup of ARPG and MOBA mechanics that result in nothing special

Gameloft's Dungeon Hunter is a very well known action RPG series for Android, and it looks like the studio is trying to evolve it into something new so that they can latch onto the latest trend of MOBA gameplay. That's why they created Dungeon Hunter Champions. Not only does it contain all of the ARPG gameplay you enjoyed in their earlier Dungeon Hunter titles, but there are also a few different PvP modes thrown into the mix including a 5v5 MOBA battlefield. I suppose the devs feel this will appeal to old and new fans alike, which really isn't a terrible strategy.

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[Hands-on] Disney Heroes: Battle Mode, a boring auto-brawler with a kid-friendly theme

PerBlue Entertainment's Disney Heroes: Battle Mode is an upcoming free-to-play hero collection auto-brawler that takes advantage of both Disney and Pixar licenses for its theme. I have been able to get my hands on a working pre-release version, so I figured why not give some insight on what this game has to offer before it officially releases so that our readers will have a good idea what to expect. So without further ado, here are my thoughts on the beta of Disney Heroes: Battle Mode.

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[Hands-on] IKEA Place uses AR to see if your Ektorp goes with that Lövbacken

Today IKEA has announced that its IKEA Place augmented reality app, previously exclusive to iOS, is now available for Android. With it, prospective furniture customers can see if a given IKEA product will be a good fit—in every sense. From relative sizes to aesthetic comparisons, you can choose just the right side table, lamp, or shelf to fit your particular niche, and even search for your existing IKEA furniture in the app.

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Hands-on with the ASUS ZenFone 5Z and 5 series: Shameless notch-envy

ASUS' Android phones might slide under the radar for most, but the company's new ZenFone 5 series probably won't. The company has had some trouble historically trying to penetrate the US phone market to any great depth—perhaps a result of its crowded, sometimes confusing product portfolio—but nonetheless it persists. Some of its phones have even been pretty good. But now that the wraps have been taken off its latest line of phones, it seems like ASUS has found a successful way to attract the attention it wanted: by copying the iPhone X's notch. 

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[Hands-on] Android Go is more capable than you think

It's been a while since Google first talked about Android Go at last year's I/O, but the first phones are finally appearing. There are several Go devices making their debut here at Mobile World Congress, and we've spent some time using one and talking to Google about what consumers can expect from Android Go. I was relieved to see how full-featured Go phones are. This isn't Android Lite; it's Android with some smart optimizations.

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