"Smartphone addiction" is a term that entered our cultural lexicon relatively recently - you could say it's A Thing. And it's a thing increasingly cited by techno-skeptics and self-help authors looking to capitalize on our natural desire to purge "unhealthy" habits from our lives (historically, a very American kind of fad). Not to mention: the ever-popular fear that we're all being spied on. Some people are even switching back to dumphones to avoid all the awfulness smartphones have brought into our lives. In short, the smartphone's ubiquity has made it The Next Big Source of All Your ProblemsTM. And I think, in spite of the best intentions - being more in the moment, having more meaningful interactions, and sleeping better - we've all kind of jumped the gun here. Read More
Since Essential launched the PH-1 last year, the phone has gained a cult following. Although the phone isn't without its faults, there aren't many other choices for a Snapdragon 835 below $500, and many people took advantage of last fall's Sprint and Amazon sales that saw the price fall lower, under $400. Essential also pioneered the "notch," which (like it or hate it) is only just now coming into vogue. The company and its products aren't perfect by any means, but one might even call Essential disruptive.
For better or worse, I’m reminded of another company that pioneered disruption in the flagship space: OnePlus. Read More
It's undeniable that PUBG Mobile is the biggest FPS release on Android in years—maybe ever. The full version of the game has attracted a lot of dedicated players, and naturally, there's significant interest in the mobile edition. The controls are bad, but they're the same level of bad for everyone... unless you connect a keyboard and mouse. That raises a question: is using a keyboard and mouse in a competitive mobile shooter the same as cheating? Read More
Motorola is in trouble. As it has been, frankly, for much of the past five-plus years. The Lenovo-owned smartphone brand once known for its positively prodigious portfolio hasn't announced a new phone in well over six months. That was the Moto X4, which got a mixed reception and has gone on discount so frequently of late that it seems poor sales are probably a given (granted, it's horrendously overpriced). But the X4 was never really competitive in its segment, and its reason for existence remains something of a mystery to me. Read More
The Galaxy S9 and S9+ are upon us, and if there's one thing we already can safely say, it's that they'll be the best-selling premium Android smartphones of 2018. And we can also safely say that they'll hold that title by a very wide margin. This despite the fact that they look, feel, and function remarkably similar to the Galaxy S phones Samsung launched in 2017. You might even say the Galaxy S9 is kind of boring - a sentiment I've seen widely expressed in comments and across the web since its announcement yesterday.
But before we dive in to that topic, let's get back to the numbers. Read More
If you live in the United States and walk into a Verizon store, you have essentially four options when it comes to choosing a premium smartphone brand: Apple, Samsung, LG, and Google. Yesterday, we learned that continuing to expect LG will be one of these options probably isn't the best bet.
While there may yet be a premium LG phone that launches on Verizon, the Korean conglomerate looks poised to join Motorola as one of Verizon's when-it's-convenient handset partners, and is quite possibly on its way to the Verizon graveyard with the likes of HTC, Sony, and BlackBerry.
The same can generally be said of AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint. Read More
As we say goodbye to 2017, I'd like you to think back to five years ago - specifically, Google five years ago. At that time, if I had told you Google was one of the world's most important consumer electronics manufacturers, you'd probably have laughed at me.
Mentally put yourself in 2012: Google's just announced the fourth Nexus phone, the Nexus 4, running Android 4.2 Jelly Bean, along with the Nexus 10 tablet. At Google I/O six months prior, it unveiled the Nexus Q - a device intended to be some sort of smart entertainment hub... and proceeded to cancel its public launch. Read More
A little-acknowledged but persistent problem has plagued every Google handset since the original Nexus One: Their most defining characteristics - Google's services and Android itself - are not unique to them.
With each new Google phone, consumers do often get their first chance to buy (well, assuming they're in stock - a big assumption) a device that ships with the latest version of Android. Or, they can wait four or five months and buy one that ships with that same version of Android from another, better-known vendor, typically with all of the major improvements and new features intact. Such a limited window of exclusivity on a highly iterative and admittedly quite geeky facet of a product all but ensures most people cannot be bothered to understand any of this. Read More
The iPhone X is, undoubtedly, the most radical rethink of the iPhone to date. Not just for what it adds, but also what it eliminates: no home button, no fingerprint scanner, and no real bezels to speak of. While the design of Apple's new phone isn't exactly unfamiliar, it's still fairly stunning in its own right, and pretty much seals the deal on low-bezel phones being the future.
There's no doubt in my mind that the iPhone X will create an attention vacuum for all other smartphones. Certainly, other phones will still be announced and get coverage, but it will be far more limited in terms of staying power and general interest to the smartphone-buying public. Read More