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phone reviews

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The LG G8 is a good phone that can't escape some of the bad ideas behind it

Right now, the dominant trend in flagship smartphone design is one of refinement. Instead of aiming to sell shoppers on the appeal of tricks like modular hardware, or overloading a handset with gimmicky sensors, successful phones are instead trying to achieve the platonic ideal of basically existing as little more than one big screen. That's driven recent efforts like the proliferation of in-display fingerprint sensors, pop-out selfie cams, and the evolution of the notch to hole-punch designs. But you wouldn't know much of that, to look at the LG G8 ThinQ.

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With the Moto G7, Lenovo finally killed the G-series magic

Motorola started the trend of cheap phones that aren't junk with the original Moto G back in 2013. That was the first time you could buy a phone for a couple hundred bucks that would get you through a day without making you want to hurl it through the nearest window. The success of that phone led other OEMs to target lower prices, and the battle rages to this day. However, Motorola has moved the Moto G a bit more up-market. Each successive generation has been a little more expensive, but some premium smartphone features are still missing.

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The Sony Xperia 10 is really long and really boring

After a period of what seemed like smartphone stagnation, we're finally seeing some weird devices again. With edge-to-edge screens, hole-punch cameras, and displays that fold in half being high-end oddities, Sony saw fit to shake up the budget formula, too, and plopped ultra-tall 21:9 displays in its Xperia 10 and 10 Plus. And while I applaud its efforts, being long doesn't save the Xperia 10 line from being terminally boring.

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The Nokia 9 PureView is a good phone ruined by serious problems

The HMD-backed resurgence of Nokia in the smartphone market has been a real treat to watch. After years of watching Microsoft bungle its Nokia acquisition, the Nokia name is again emblazoned on excellent smartphone products. However, most Nokia phones have been toward the budget end of the spectrum. They've been good for the money, but the Nokia 9 PureView is a true flagship with high-end specs, a wild five-camera setup, and an in-display fingerprint sensor. All that, and it's a few hundred dollars less than competing phones.

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The Nubia Red Magic Mars is cheap, fast, ugly, and buggy

Nubia is finally selling a phone in North America. Sadly, it's not that wacky dual-screen device but the more modest Red Magic Mars gaming phone. We've talked repeatedly about how most gaming phones aren't any more suited to gaming than the competition, but the Red Magic Mars at least tries to justify the name with dedicated shoulder buttons and a custom gaming mode.

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Huawei Mate 20 Pro review: Sweet cameras, sour software

Despite being frozen out of the US market due to political opposition, Huawei still managed to surpass Apple this summer to become the world’s second largest phone maker behind Samsung. The Chinese manufacturer was the first to market with triple rear cameras in the P20 Pro this Spring, and many lauded its photos as the best produced by any smartphone.

Huawei’s latest flagship effort is the Mate 20 Pro, with a similar camera setup and innovations such as an in-display fingerprint sensor and 3D laser depth sensing for secure face unlock. It’s powered by the proprietary Kirin 980 chipset — the world’s first 7nm mobile SoC — and sports a 6.39” 2K+ OLED display.

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Pixel 3 and 3 XL review: Come for the camera, stay for everything else

Android has become the most popular computing platform on the planet, but Google has had problems selling very many Android phones itself. It tried for years to make Nexus devices "a thing," but they never caught on outside the nerd demographic. With the debut of the Pixel program in 2016, the company took a different approach—it started building smartphones with consumers in mind. Google hasn't done everything perfectly, but it's gotten enough right that the first and second generation Pixels have been relatively easy to recommend. That brings us to the third-gen Pixels.

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Moto Z3 review: An okay 2017 flagship phone in 2018

Motorola is still pumping out successful mid-range and budget phones, but a smash-hit flagship device has eluded it for years. The Moto Z phones with their modular accessories have potential, but consumers aren't running out to buy many $200 projectors or $130 photo printers. If you ignore the Moto Mods, past Moto Z flagships have at least been top-of-the-line phones with uncluttered software and modern specs. That's what makes the new Moto Z3 so perplexing. It's specced like a phone from 2017. Plus, it's exclusive to Verizon.

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Sony Xperia XZ2 Premium review: A Sony vanity project and nothing more

There was a time not that many years ago when Sony was trusted implicitly by consumers all over the world. You knew if you bought a Sony product, you were getting the best, and people were willing to pay more for that peace of mind. However, Sony has struggled to find its place in today's hyper-competitive world, particularly when it comes to smartphones. Sony makes phones that are good in some ways, but the issues often outweigh the strengths. Through it all, the price is still consistently higher than competing devices.

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Moto Z3 Play review: An unacceptable price for a decent phone

Motorola has changed a lot since the days when it was a Google company. Ah, what a time that was! With the glory days of the Moto X long behind us, it's all about Moto Mods now. The company has just launched its first 2018 Z device—the Moto Z3 Play, and it's pushing the modular angle even harder. When you purchase the Z3 Play, you get a Motorola battery Mod in the box, plus support for all the Mods released thus far. Unfortunately, that's not as strong a selling point as Motorola would have you believe.

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