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Editorials

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Android 9 Pie revisited: Our 7 favorite and 3 least liked features

Almost two weeks have passed since Google served us a slice of its official Android 9 Pie. Some of us had followed for months as the different developer previews landed and weren't too fazed by the final release, but for those users who preferred to wait, there were many surprising changes from 8.1 Oreo to 9 Pie.

We've previously listed our five favorite Android P features and five least liked ones, but that was back in March, after the first developer preview and before the implementation of many other interesting changes. Today, we take another look at the final Pie release and see which features we like and which ones we're not too fond of.

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Why you should buy the Galaxy Note9

The Galaxy Note9 is the most expensive Galaxy smartphone ever launched in the United States (there have been more expensive Samsung phones sold abroad). It's also easily the best. I've been using it the past five days, and I am left with the same basic impressions I had with the Galaxy S9+, but better. And that's exactly what the Note 9 should deliver.

Of course, with every smartphone release comes the question of whether this generation is the one to buy, or if a rival manufacturer is simply going to release something better a month or two from now. With the Note9, I believe you can rest assured that a purchase today is unlikely to be one you'll regret tomorrow.

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Opinion: Android 9 Pie's Digital Wellbeing has too little data and too many options, but that can be fixed

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.

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The Galaxy Note9 is Samsung's fanboy phone

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.

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The 5G Moto Mod will be an awkward but necessary first step into the era of 5G phones

The race to 5G is on with every carrier promising big rollouts of next-generation networks in the coming year, but what about the phones? The first wave of consumer 5G devices are likely to be Wi-Fi hotspots, but Motorola thinks it has a way to offer the world's first 5G phone with the recently announced 5G Moto Mod. It's a strange device that will require certain compromises, but it's still probably better than the way we transitioned to 4G. Remember the Thunderbolt? Yeah, that's a low bar, but still.

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You're not wrong - smartphones aren't as exciting as they used to be

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.

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The 2018 Google Pixelbook tablet seems imminent - here's what it needs to succeed

Rumors that Google will be launching a second-generation Pixelbook device this fall have recently begun to converge in a convincing way. Evan Blass - along with Kevin Tofel over at About Chromebooks - have provided the most compelling evidence yet. Blass, a very reliable leaker, says that Google will launch the device before the end of the year (he's usually right). Tofel, looking at commits for a device in the Chrome repositories codenamed 'Atlas,' discovered it is the only ChromeOS device aside from the current Pixelbook without an SD card slot. Finally, Chrome Unboxed spotted a commit showing that Atlas is booting on an image from the current Pixelbook.

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I used an Android Go phone for a month, and it was terrible

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.

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Remember: You aren't just buying a phone, you're buying an accessory ecosystem

Pretty much the first question that I am half-jokingly asked once a new acquaintance discovers my profession is: What phone should I buy? In fact, when you boil it down, that's what most of this job really works out to. All this news, all these reviews, most everything we write is with the goal of educating our readers to answer that question for themselves. But one thing we often neglect to mention when you pick out a new phone is that you're buying a lot more than just one piece of hardware. 

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The Pixel 2 XL's oleophobic coating is so bad I almost don't want to use the phone anymore

When the Pixel 2 XL came out, there was a great deal of consternation about the LG-made OLED panel. I was firmly in the "it's fine" camp, but my opinion has changed over time. No, I didn't suddenly decide the blue shift was a deal breaker. The oleophobic coating on the glass is just so bad that my phone is constantly a smeared, gross mess. It's so annoying that I almost don't want to use this phone, which I otherwise adore.

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