I still remember when we used to bicker over iPhone vs Symbian, before Android took over the second part of that argument. I also remember when Xenon vs LED flash was the most controversial discussion in the smartphone world for several years - some of you may have been toddlers when that started. And I remember when apps weren't a thing, when 3G was the hottest novelty, when we thanked our lucky stars because companies stopped using massive proprietary charging and earphone ports, and when a smartphone with a 2.8" display (Nokia N95 8GB) counted as monstrous. Nowadays, we feel cheated when the second back lens in a phone doesn't bring a lot of improvement, or when the display's color shifts at an angle as if everyone is side-glancing at their phones all the time, when a device has a MicroUSB port and not USB-C, or when it takes a fraction of a millisecond longer for a swipe to register. Read More
Confused nostalgia. It's hard to find another way to describe my feeling right now as I sit down to write this Nokia 8 review. For those who don't know my history, my career covering mobile devices started with a personal blog in 2006 and a Nokia 3250 XpressMusic. For several years, I was Dotsisx (.sisx), a nickname that evokes how much I was involved with the Symbian OS. I reviewed phones, I covered events, I spent hours daily looking for the best apps and games. Even when the first iPhone launched and Android started making waves, I was a Symbian user through and through. Read More
I've had the Nokia 8 for a little over a week and have run Android 7.1.1 on it out of the box. Yesterday though, Nokia announced a beta labs program to test out Oreo on the Nokia 8 and I instantly jumped at the opportunity. After downloading and installing the update, the Nokia 8 booted into Android 8.0 and I started looking for the small changes that Nokia has implemented this time around.
Nokia uses stock Android and adds very few changes on top of it to customize the experience, and Oreo is no exception. The device feels like a Nexus/Pixel whether you're on the homescreen, diving deep into the settings, or checking out your notifications. Read More
Xiaomi phones always have the same problem. While the company's devices have generally great specifications and design for the price, the software experience is usually not very good. If you've read one of our Xiaomi device reviews, or used one of the company's phones yourself, you probably know what I'm talking about.
All of Xiaomi's phones and tablets ship with MIUI, a heavily modified version of Android that has countless problems. Some of these include Bluetooth connectivity bugs, terrible notification handling, and over-the-top power management that can outright break notifications for many apps. Jordan went in depth about MIUI's issues here, if you're interested in details. Read More
It's easy to forget here in the West that Lenovo still makes its own phones (versus relying solely on Motorola). Despite that, the Chinese company just announced its newest device, the K8 Note. It comes with some decent specs, an attractive price, and stock Android 7.1.1. Read More
Perhaps the most common complaint about Android phones is that the software doesn't always hit the heights of the hardware. It's true of many flagship phones from a variety of OEMs, and one of the culprits is usually bloated custom UI skins. In trying to differentiate their devices, many phone makers end up diminishing the overall software experience. Companies like Sony and Motorola have been rightly praised for their use of near stock Android on their devices, and it seems that Moto's parent company Lenovo is now ready to follow suit. Read More
Sundar Pichai made a series of statements at recode's Code Conference yesterday that seem to have the internet aflutter. Pichai claimed that Google would be adding more software features to future Nexus devices, specifically: "You’ll see us hopefully add more features on top of Android on Nexus phones... There’s a lot of software innovation to be had."
Some have taken this to mean that "stock Android" on Nexus phones is no more. That Google will begin to differentiate just like its partners, with proprietary features and software, and that this marks a move away from a "purer" interpretation of Android. This makes sense until you actually think about it, because Nexus phones haven't run "stock" Android in years, and it's time for us to have a conversation about what that word even means, let alone the idea that Google's interpretation of Android is somehow "purer."
For starters, all of the following applications that ship on Nexus phones today are closed-source. Read More
Among dedicated Android fans, there is a consensus that stock Android is the best experience. That being said, not everyone is smitten with the Nexus hardware. A new option for conflicted users is rumored to be dropping tomorrow at Google I/O. A version of the Samsung Galaxy S4 – dubbed the Google Edition – could be released with the latest version of stock Android on board.
If this is indeed true, it wouldn't be the first time Google has created a new variant of a Samsung product. Back at I/O 2011 Google handed out a special edition Galaxy Tab 10.1 with stock Honeycomb. Read More
When I reviewed the First, I realized it was much, much more than just a Facebook experience device. Sure, it's sporting Home out of the box, flashes a Facebook logo during the boot process, and is adorned with that same logo on the back, but it's not just about Facebook. This little diamond in the rough is running stock Android 4.1.2 beneath Facebook Home, so you're quite literally three (or so) taps away from a Nexus-like experience.
No quicker than I could say good things about this device, however, people were trying to shoot it down, with the price playing a pretty large factor in that. Read More
If you like Nexus tablets, Vizio is gunning for your wallet. Today, the company announced a duo of tablets running stock Android. The first is most similar to the Nexus 10: a 10" display with the same retina-melting 2560x1600 resolution, only this one is powered by a Tegra 4 processor. Kal-El may not be a slouch, but let's be real. It's hard to not envy the 72 GPU cores that Wayne is packing.
Here are the known specs for the device:
- 10" 2560x1600 display
- Tegra 4 SoC
- 32GB storage
- Front & rear cameras
- Mini USB (Yes, mini not micro; see center photo below)
- Micro HDMI
- Android 4.2 Jelly Bean (model shown running 4.1)
As if that wasn't enough, the company also announced a direct Nexus 7 competitor. Read More