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Editorials

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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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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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Why doesn't Project Fi support RCS yet, Google?

Back in April, Google announced that it was pausing work on its Allo chat client to focus more on its RCS-enabled texting app, Android Messages. News of an upcoming web client for Messages was released alongside the announcement (something we’d known about for months), making it seem like Google was all-in on its SMS and RCS platform going forward. Now, that web client has arrived, and RCS continues its rollout around the world. The one, slight wrinkle? Google’s branded carrier, Project Fi, doesn’t even support RCS. And there’s still no timeline as to when it will.

RCS (Rich Communication Services) has been hailed as the ‘iMessage for Android,’ meant to finally bridge the feature gap between Apple’s closed communication platform and the ancient SMS standard.

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First, they came for your phone's headphone jack—is the USB port next?

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.

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Xiaomi wants to come to America, but it feels more stuck in China than ever

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.

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