Conventional wisdom says that smartphones in 2018 are little more than glass slabs with similar features and, while the discerning enthusiast knows that this is not true (there are plenty of differentiators), the new OnePlus 6 is a great example of a ubiquitous ‘slab’ with little real character or star quality. Other than value, since it retains the OnePlus tradition of offering flagship chipsets at a relatively affordable price.
Author Archives: Steve Litchfield
The months and years roll by and Huawei and Honor smartphones evolve… slowly. Each is – genuinely – better than the last, but the glossy mass of glass, the avalanche of Emotion UI and bundled software, the dual camera ideas, much also stays the same. Is there enough new for the Honor 10? Actually yes, mainly through the AI in the camera, though there are quirks, plus a surprisingly low price point.
It’s not often that an accessory is perfect. Yet this Mophie design gets as close as it possibly can, building inexorably to something of a huge caveat: its price. But hopefully this look through the tech and design will convince you that this is worth $100 or so, if you occasionally live on the ragged battery edge…
One complaint about general phone reviews has been that they focus(!) too much on the cameras – most of us only take a handful of photos per day, yet quite often a third of a phone review is talking about its camera. However, remember that you may only take a few photos and use your phone for a few minutes each day, but the shots it produces are memories and will stay with you for years to come, while the hours you spend in Twitter and Facebook are utterly ephemeral.
Starting with a (ahem) mock drama set in Samsung’s boardroom, I present my assessment of the brand new Galaxy S9 (and, by extension, the S9+, since most of the hardware and software are identical). It’s perhaps the ultimate do-everything smartphone for the man in the street, and Samsung knows its market – this will sell by the tens of millions. Is it perfect? Not quite, as you’ll see, but it’s darned good and worthy of heaps of praise here.
Attending Honor’s big event this week in London, I couldn’t help shake the feeling that despite their claims about innovation, and a few software tweaks aside, all they really did was copy what has already been done and make it cheaper to end users. From the 2:1 display – understandable – to a new, upcoming front camera projector and ID system, teased for 2018, that’s set to be a carbon copy of what the iPhone X does – complete with Animoji. However, like most of us, I’m all for making things cheaper, and I loved last year’s Honor 6X – really decent specs and capabilities in a premium-feeling phone that cost around £220 or so. Amazing. Can the 7X live up to the same billing?
Right up front I have to tell you, there’s nothing special to see here, nothing unique. Move right along. Unless you want a bargain Android flagship. You see, the USP here is the price. By taking imaging and durability down just one small notch from the top end, the OnePlus 5T manages to shave off many hundreds of pounds. While keeping the flagship internals and traditional OnePlus attributes and popular features. In short, it’s a hit!
“Watch, listen, play” is the opening shot of Razer’s pitch for this, the eponymous Razer Phone. We’ve seen a number of phones aimed at gamers in the past, usually with gimmicky extra controls or savage compromises, but the Razer Phone only has one – which I’ll come to in a moment. I’ve been playing with the very first retail Razer Phone in the UK, exclusively handled by the popular Three network (who also sell it on pay-as-you-go*, don’t worry).
All of Google’s ducks were seemingly lined up in a row. The industry was moving towards ‘bezel-less’ phones with 18:9 screens, its Assistant is now pretty mature, its camera image processing is second to none, its wireless audio is top notch, and so on. And as a result, the Pixel 2 XL is very nearly the perfect smartphone, the template for everything else for the next five years. As Google are inclined to do though, they arguably blew it – and not for the reasons you might suspect me of picking*. I’m talking display and pricing – read on…
And so to this year’s Google Pixels, now with ‘2’ in the name, still with the two sizes (regular and XL), with pumped up internals and stereo speakers but sadly missing a standard headphone jack. Google has put all its expertise in machine learning and image processing into these phones, making them a fascinating choice for the best in phone imaging, but arguably unremarkable otherwise.