The thing about the Galaxy Note 8 is that it’s not ‘just’ a smartphone. It’s that and a stylus-centric tablet and a pocket computer, all in one. Even though there are annoyances, there’s no escaping the raw power and flexibility of the Note 8. It’s beautiful, it’s immaculately built, and it packs enormous productivity and performance punches.
Author Archives: Steve Litchfield
Every. Single. Reviewer. Slams every single phone with no headphone jack and manufacturers just aren’t listening.
You know the drill by now. In a review (or preview) of (e.g.) the (new) Pixel 2 or Essential phone or iPhone 7/8/X or HTC U11, the reviewer says something like: “Sadly” or ‘Unfortunately” or even “Unforgivably”, in the context of there being no 3.5mm headphone/audio jack. I have yet to see a single reviewer or commenter exclaiming “Hooray, the jack has gone”.
The Nokia 6 is the current* spearhead of the brand’s return to the smartphone world in 2017 and follows several years of being locked out, following the Microsoft buyout of its Devices division in 2013. It’s still Nokia in terms of logo and branding, it’s still designed in Finland, it’s still made like a tank, but the actual firm behind it is HMD Global and all the manufacturing is in China. So take the ‘Nokia’ branding with just a pinch of salt.
There are numerous superlatives that could be levelled at the new HTC U11. It’s super-speedy, it takes superb photos, it’s virtually ‘stock’ (Android), the display’s fabulous… and it’s a great mirror. Not electronically, through the selfie camera – the back of the U11 itself is effectively mirrored, reflecting colours and details from whatever’s in front of it. Which at least makes the unadorned phone stand out in a crowd, even if it’s the lady opposite you on the tube checking that her hair looks OK…
After much testing of the new OnePlus 5, this flagship is all about balance. Every manufacturer has to juggle specifications, hardware design constraints and component prices in order to bring the product home at just the right price yet without compromising performance. And OnePlus has proved itself something of a master at this in the past, with the ‘5’ fitting right into the same pattern. The headline omissions from the aforementioned juggling are the use of ‘only’ a 1080p screen, the lack of official waterproofing, and the single loudspeaker, plus there’s a dubiously specified dual camera. But more on these below in my full OnePlus 5 review…
“You get what you pay for” is one of the oldest adages in the English language. Either in the context of something ultra-cheap, or – here – of something super-expensive, with the new Samsung Galaxy S8+ coming in at £779 inc VAT in the UK and similar top end prices across the world. Yet, after spending a week with the S8+ I am forced to admit that you do get an awful lot for your money. Whether you enjoy using all the tech depends, as usual, on how much you like Samsung – its sometimes quirky designs, its software, its ecosystem – and, in this case, how much you’re prepared to experiment with new ways of unlocking your phone.
After a torrid year living down the interesting but horribly flawed G5, LG has seemingly come good with this, the G6 – it does seem as though the even numbered in the ‘G’ range are always the ones to go for. True, there’s nothing spectacular here, but then that’s kind of the point, this is LG doubling down on just doing everything well rather than striking down a new blind alley… again. Notable here in our G6 review is a 2:1 screen with smaller top and bottom bezels, but elsewhere it’s a set of intelligent compromises to try and create a smartphone that’s all things to all men. And on the whole LG has succeeded.
A year on (from the P9) and a subtle shift in emphasis for the latest Huawei consumer flagship – the company has gone all out for the most profitable sector of the market, traditionally dominated by Apple with the iPhone. Here we have front-mounted fingerprint sensor and home control, rounded aluminium unibody that’s almost indistinguishable from the iPhone 6S, plus a raft of cosmetic options – and a suitably iPhone-like bump up in price by over £100. Which is not to say that the P10, reviewed here, isn’t a great little smartphone – it is. It’s just perhaps not the one you should actually choose.
I’ve been a huge fan of the Marshall London smartphone in the last couple of years. The richest front facing stereo speakers on any phone in the world still, in 2017, by quite a margin. (And yes, I’ve used the ZTE Axon 7.) Stereo microphones that can record the loudest band. A grippy and durable outer skin that has never needed a case. Twin headphone jacks with independent volume controls. A high end DAC for powerful headphone output. A replaceable battery, the list goes on. I reviewed the Marshall London here 18 months ago. And, after an eternity, it’s been updated.
A slightly dramatic headline, admittedly, but accurate. You see, Android 6.0 and above uses new systems from Google to help extend battery life: ‘Doze’, which restricts what apps can do in the background when a phone is stationary and unused, and ‘App Standby’, which does much the same thing but is based on how long it is since you last used a particular application. In either case, certain applications can be accidentally affected – but here’s how to keep them chugging along.