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Android to iPhone, part two: What I've liked about switching to the iPhone X

I can already tell I’ll have a hard time going back to Android’s software navigation keys.

One of the most pleasantly surprising features of the iPhone X - and something that’s going to read like it’s straight out of Phil Schiller’s marketing playbook - comes in the form of what Apple removed from the phone: the home button. By forcing the issue of gesture navigation instead of going half-in with soft keys, Apple’s made a convert of me. I like gesture nav.

It’s also kind of broken. There’s no universal gesture to go back (some apps let you swipe from the left - sometimes), and the quick switcher button at the top left of the phone requires some serious thumb acrobatics to reach.

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Nanoleaf Aurora review: The coolest and most extravagant smart lights you can own

Some of you may have already heard about the Nanoleaf Aurora. These modular triangular light panels can be formed in any shape you like and are WiFi-enabled, allowing you to control them via your phone or Google Home and Alexa. But those of you who haven't will probably scroll down to see the high price tag and scoff in disbelief. $229.99 for a set of 9 light panels and a music module is a rather extravagant price to pay. But that's exactly what the Nanoleaf are: extravagant. They go a step beyond smart lights like Hue and LiFX and straight into "cool art deco" territory.

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ASUS Zenfone V review: A very cheap Verizon exclusive that gets the job done

Asus has been busy in 2017, but amongst the madness that is the Zenfone 4 family, the company took some time to partner with Verizon to launch another device exclusive to Big Red. This is the Zenfone V, a phone that bears some resemblance to one of Samsung's older phones, but it packs 2016 flagship specs into a small, manageable frame all for just $240 ($10/month).

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Fitbit Ionic review: Not the smartest smartwatch

Fitbit started out making simple step counters that clipped on your pocket, but over time it added displays, exercise tracking, heart rate monitors, and more. Many of its rivals have changed their focus or simply gone out of business, but Fitbit is fast becoming a household name. The last few wrist-based Fitbit devices have been vaguely smartwatch-like, but the true Fitbit smartwatch has been elusive—until now. After acquiring some bits from the now-defunct Pebble, Fitbit has its very own smartwatch called the Ionic.

This device has a definite "Fitbit" aesthetic. It's thick, and the screen is rectangular and rather small. You want corners?

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TicHome Mini review: A worthy portable Google Home Mini alternative, as long as you don’t mind paying double

Google introduced the Assistant SDK back in April, making it possible for third parties to build the digital companion into their devices. Sure enough, at IFA 2017 in Berlin back in August, the first Google Assistant-enabled speakers were announced, due to hit the market this fall. There are now several different options from a range of manufacturers, and they cover various use cases and price points.

Other Google Home alternatives with better speakers have also been announced by the likes of Sony and Panasonic. For those on a tighter budget there’s also the Zolo Mojo from Anker. And before that has even gone on sale, Google itself launched the Google Home Mini.

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I’ve never used an iPhone, part one: Switching to the iPhone X and first thoughts

On a fall day over eight years ago, I walked into an AT&T store in Davis, my college town, to see the iPhone 3GS. I held it, stared at it, looked at the price card, then back at the phone, and then down at the price card again. Reality began to set in.

I was locked into a contract with my Sony-Ericsson feature phone for another six months. I asked about early upgrade pricing - $200 on top of the $199 AT&T already charged for the phone - but I was a student, and my meager checking account balance could barely withstand the regular on-contract price and accompanying increase in the monthly service fee.

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OnePlus 5T review: Bigger screen, bigger price, but still a good deal

The motives of many smartphone makers are somewhat opaque to outside observers, but OnePlus is as transparent as they come. OnePlus iterates its hardware relentlessly to stay on the cutting edge, and it responds to the community in a way most OEMs don't. If the smartphone market is trending someplace, you can bet OnePlus is going to follow, and it'll manage to do it all a little cheaper than the other guys.

That brings us to the latest phone from OnePlus, the predictably named OnePlus 5T. This phone is dropping just a few months after the OnePlus 5, so it's not surprising much of that phone's hardware has been recycled.

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Roku Streaming Stick & Stick+ review: A great pair of Chromecast competitors

Roku was one of the first companies in the streaming set-top box market. Over the years, it has released quite a few devices, ranging from Chromecast-shaped sticks to 4K-capable boxes. You may recall that Roku revamped its lineup last month, and now sells five different products for different use cases.

The original Streaming Stick was released in 2012, and while it received generally favorable reviews, the requirement of MHL-enabled TVs (to draw power) and the poor performance were major drawbacks. An updated model with a microUSB power connector was released in 2014 to positive reviews. Roku replaced it again in 2016 with a smaller and more compact version.

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Nokia 8 review: Nokia looks and Nexus feel make for a very enjoyable experience

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.

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The ZTE Axon M is the weirdest smartphone I've ever tried [and failed] to use

"It's interesting." That's what I heard most often when I would show someone ZTE's bizarre dual-screen phone.

And, inevitably, "Who's it for?"

I never came up with a good answer. The Axon M is unlike any other smartphone on the market. Some people have made a point of likening it to the long-deceased Kyocera Echo, and while it is similar to that phone, the concept has evolved a fair bit. The Axon M is more mature, more considered, and more thoughtful - ZTE clearly spent time thinking about how a dual-screen phone would work, and how to minimize some of (though definitely not all) the pain points it would present.

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