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Editorials

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Phones are boring, so now we're making up conspiracy theories about them

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.

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I used a Galaxy Nexus for a week, in 2018 - it didn't go well

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.

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10 things I'd like to see in the (presumably) upcoming OnePlus 6T

The OnePlus 6 is, without much question in my mind, one of the best phones of this year. On paper, it matches most of 2018's flagships, but the aggressive pricing makes it a great value when compared to most of its competition. Still, there are a lot of ways that the OnePlus 6 could be improved if the company sticks to its mid-generation "T" refresh, and I've put together a decent-sized list of all the things I'd like to see in the OnePlus 6T.

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A 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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The most interesting smartphone innovations in the last year (or so)

We've seen our mobile devices evolve from novelties to ubiquitous, do-it-all pocket supercomputers in just a few decades. Lately, though, there's been a sense of fatigue about the progression of mobile technology: the breakneck pace of big-ticket advancements has slowed, and even devices which we can't find fault with just seem kind of meh. Smartphones have matured, and the days of the next big thing actually being something big are largely behind us, but that doesn't mean improvements have stopped altogether. Here are a few of the noteworthy innovations and trends we've seen over the past 12 months.

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Using a Nexus 5 is a surprisingly okay experience in 2018

Android hardware has come a long way in the last five years, and as we come up on that Pixel time of year, I've been thinking back on earlier Android handsets and the path we've taken to get here. In a useful coincidence, I was convinced into using a Nexus 5 for a week as my only personal phone with no backup — I like to take that sort of risk once in a while. This time I was pleasantly surprised, the Nexus 5 has aged a lot better than I expected it to.

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Gaming smartphones are the industry’s next pointless fad

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.

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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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