For years, fans and analysts alike have clamored for Apple to release a proper "mid-range" iPhone. Today, they finally got what they wanted - sort of. The new iPhone Xr represents an entirely new direction for the iPhone lineup, and one that poses a serious threat to "flagship" tier Android phones that lurk anywhere above its $749 MSRP.
While you may be thinking "there's nothing 'mid-range' about $749," be reminded that the iPhone Xs and Xs Max cost $1000 and $1100, respectively, making the all-new Xr a fairly significant price cut in Apple terms. It's also not even the smallest iPhone: the Xr features a 6.1" LCD (the Xs is a 5.8" OLED, the Max is 6.5") that Apple claims will wipe the floor with any other in terms of color accuracy, and given their history, I believe them. Read More
The Pixel 3 XL may be the most reliably leaked smartphone of 2018. It's been seen on a train, it's been accidentally left in a car, appeared in about a half dozen hotels and airports, and it's even been reviewed by a Russian blog that managed to get one of a handful of stolen units that showed up in Ukraine. So much has leaked about the phone that essentially all of that wonderful pre-launch mystery has been sapped, and a sobering (if predictable) reality has set in: Google's next phone is not really all that different from any other phone released in 2018. Read More
In what is partly an experiment and partly a series, I've been using the Galaxy Nexus as my personal phone exclusively for the last week. It has been a nostalgic experience, as the Galaxy Nexus was the first (good) Android device that I used full-time. And while the sentimental tech-romantic in me would love to tell you all that it's been mostly fine — like my week using the Nexus 5 — I can't. It's actually been pretty rough. Read More
If you follow smartphone news closely, chances are you've read about handsets “designed” specifically for gaming (or gamers). There's the ASUS ROG phone, the Xiaomi-backed Black Shark, one from ZTE sub-brand Nubia, and this really weird thing from a Chinese company called Doogee. There have been others in the past as well, including the recent Razer Phone and the long-forgotten Sony Xperia Play. While they've all taken slightly different approaches in defining what exactly a gaming smartphone is, all but the Sony have squarely targeted the PC gamer demographic - and for good reason.
In the world of PCs, gaming-oriented products have a long and storied history. Read More
Digital Wellbeing is one of the bigger features with landed with Android 9 Pie—though it seems like Google is keeping it separate and distinct in the Pixel-only public beta. I've spent the last week using it to analyze my use patterns and place restrictions on how I use my phone, and while the tool brings together a lot of options for precise configuration, I've found the data it actually provides is a bit lackluster. But I think there are ways it can be improved. Read More
Sitting through Samsung's Unpacked press conference in Brooklyn yesterday, I wasn't struck with a barrage of technical specifications, comparisons to the competition, or endless feature demos. Samsung didn't even really attempt to sell the new Note as revolutionary, or to convince its audience that they were getting a great product for the money. Instead, it appealed to something more human, more base: emotion.
The Note9 announcement opened with a montage of journalists disparaging the original Galaxy Note back in 2011 (to be fair, it was a bad phone), followed by a supercut on the rise of the Big Phone and the Note's subsequent dominance of the segment it essentially created. Read More
A new processor, a new camera, a new screen, and better-faster-stronger everything are annual givens for our smartphones, and it seems people are starting to notice - and are increasingly becoming indifferent to it all. But are smartphones actually getting more boring? Or is it just that we have become so spoiled by mobile technology that its seemingly inevitable march forward is no longer interesting? It's a bit of a navel-gazing exercise, I must admit, but I think it's something worth talking about - especially with a look to the smartphone's larger history. Read More
With the vast selection of pre-existing, inexpensive Android phones, Android Go and its worse-spec'd ~$100 handsets were quickly dismissed by many. To be honest, I shared the attitude, but I wanted to give the concept a fair shake before I shrugged it off as another well-intended but misguided effort on Google's part. So I willingly gave up all my fun flagships—my Pixels, OnePluses, Essential, etc.—and spent one calendar-precise month as a digital monk on the mountain, using only my Android Go-powered Alcatel 1X.
My opinion hasn't changed: Android Go is an overpriced, terrible experience. Read More
When Apple released the first iPhone without a headphone jack two years ago, many - critics, consumers, and competitors alike - were quick to cry foul. The decision was widely derided arrogant and unfriendly, and CMO Phil Schiller took a well-deserved beating in the court of public opinion for calling the removal of the 3.5mm jack “courageous.”
Imagine, then, what would happen if Apple was to remove the charging and data port from the iPhone entirely.
It's not as wild as it sounds. A report from trusted Apple leaker Mark Gurman recently revealed that the company had considered doing just that with the iPhone X. Read More
For all the traction China’s many smartphone brands have gained globally in the past decade, it’s in China itself where they remain most popular. And for good reason: because Chinese consumers don’t have access to many Western products or services. Xiaomi is one of the most popular smartphone brands in China, and while the unique market in that country has encouraged the company to think differently than its more global rivals in some ways, its latest smartphone strikes me as one built by China, for China. There’s nothing wrong with that in and of itself, but it makes me question just what Xiaomi’s pitch to the rest of the world will be, or if the company’s phones will ever matter outside a few, select regions. Read More