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Editorials

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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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Android versus iOS software updates revisited: Two years later and not much has changed

Two years ago, I drew up a little comparison between the duration of software support for iOS and Nexus devices, and the differences were stark. Whereas Google only committed to 24 months of OS updates on its flagship phones, Apple typically updates their iPhones for up to 5 years after release. At the time, I was somewhat hopeful that things would improve gradually over time: Google had just formalized the 24-month update policy a few weeks prior, and we were already seeing a few devices like the Nexus 4 and the 2012 Nexus 7 that were being kept up-to-date for 34 or 38 months.

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Opinion: The Pixel 2 XL, despite one big flaw, is still my favorite phone ever

I've been using the Google Pixel 2 XL now for over a week. Its predecessor, the 2016 Pixel XL, is what I called the best Android phone ever six months after its release. I'm fairly certain that the 2 XL will take the original's title, at least in my opinion, without issue.

Before flaws, refinements

Around the internet, I am seeing a lot of revisionist history claiming the original Pixel XL was essentially a no-compromise, highly polished smartphone. Here's the thing: it wasn't.

The original Pixel had significant flaws, and in spite of them, I still thought it was the best smartphone I'd ever used.

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A year and a day: The short history of Google's Allo so far

Allo was released on Google Play just over a year ago, on September 20th. It suffered a bit at the hands of hype between its early announcement at 2016's I/O and the actual release, which didn't come for months. But since then it has been a major part of the conversation when it comes to Android. Google made a big decision and faced a lot of criticism when it resolved to launch another messaging service. Now that it's been a year, how has it held up?

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Opinion: The new Pixels will have the same problem as the current ones - they're just Android phones

A little-acknowledged but persistent problem has plagued every Google handset since the original Nexus One: Their most defining characteristics - Google's services and Android itself - are not unique to them.

With each new Google phone, consumers do often get their first chance to buy (well, assuming they're in stock - a big assumption) a device that ships with the latest version of Android. Or, they can wait four or five months and buy one that ships with that same version of Android from another, better-known vendor, typically with all of the major improvements and new features intact. Such a limited window of exclusivity on a highly iterative and admittedly quite geeky facet of a product all but ensures most people cannot be bothered to understand any of this.

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Opinion: The iPhone X will overshadow the new Pixels, and Google needs a battle plan

Today, Apple announced the iPhone X to the fanfare of hundreds of members of the media, investors, and its own employees at a large event in the company's new purpose-built Steve Jobs Theater, housed within its brand-new mega-campus. Next month, Google will announce the second generation of its Pixel smartphones, alongside a handful of other new products, at what will likely be a comparatively small affair attended almost exclusively by technology journalists. It will probably be in a nice - but decidedly rented - event space in San Francisco.

Apple will ship millions of iPhone Xs before the year is out, assuming supply is not an issue.

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The iPhone X and Apple Day: Thoughts from five Android Police team members

The iPhone X is, undoubtedly, the most radical rethink of the iPhone to date. Not just for what it adds, but also what it eliminates: no home button, no fingerprint scanner, and no real bezels to speak of. While the design of Apple's new phone isn't exactly unfamiliar, it's still fairly stunning in its own right, and pretty much seals the deal on low-bezel phones being the future.

There's no doubt in my mind that the iPhone X will create an attention vacuum for all other smartphones. Certainly, other phones will still be announced and get coverage, but it will be far more limited in terms of staying power and general interest to the smartphone-buying public.

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Opinion: The Galaxy Note8 is the beginning of the end of the Note - at least as we knew it

The Galaxy Note8 is, by all accounts, a perfectly competent high-end smartphone from a trusted smartphone brand. Samsung will sell millions of Note8s to Note fans the world over, which will amass Samsung a not-inconsequential pile of money, having made the whole enterprise ostensibly worthwhile. But behind a muted-to-mildly-positive critical reception and a sound business case lies a pretty inescapable truth: the Galaxy Note just doesn't make very much sense anymore.

Product overlap plus

The Galaxy S8+, released alongside the S8 earlier this year, offers a screen that is just a tenth of an inch smaller than the Note8's, a battery with 200mAh more capacity, and a basically comparable software experience.

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Opinion: Motorola's Z phones are quickly becoming little more than Mod money grabs

Motorola announced the Z2 Force at an event in New York City yesterday, ostensibly the 2017 flagship for the struggling smartphone brand, following up the Z and Z Force of 2016. The Z series is notable both for marking a major transition in Moto's flagship strategy, but also for the Moto Mods that underpinned the alleged reasoning behind that shift.

Motorola loves to toss out figures about the adoption rate for Moto Mods, but it hasn't issued any really solid ones in regard to which Mods people are using or how often they're using them. The reality is that this is probably because the battery Mod - the most painfully, glaringly, obvious use case for Mods - makes up the great bulk of that uptake.

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Opinion: Good smartphones are getting more expensive - because we're demanding more from them

When OnePlus announced the OnePlus 5, the newest handset from a company that has become synonymous with value for money among smartphone enthusiasts, there was some real sticker shock. The phone starts at $479, making it $30 more expensive than the OnePlus 3T, and $80 more expensive than the base OnePlus 3. The OnePlus 3 was, in turn, $70 more expensive than the OnePlus 2, which was $30 more expensive than the original OnePlus One.

To take things end to end, the original OnePlus One 64GB retailed for $349 when it was announced in 2014. Today, the 64GB OnePlus 5 costs $479, a price creep of nearly 40% over the years if you compare along the same storage capacity.

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