Google’s latest ‘flagship’ is unusual, to say the least. You see, it’s not a traditional flagship in terms of specifications or price, yet it’s clearly what Google considers its top smartphone for 2020. It could be argued that 2019’s Pixel 4 and 4 XL are superior – they’re certainly more powerful and (in the XL’s case) larger, plus they did have a proper telephoto camera. You could also argue that this year’s Pixel 4a 5G is better value, but I’d like to review the ‘5’ on its own merits – as it’s a super-compact slice of high tech with only one Achilles heel (for my personal needs).
It’s been a few years since OnePlus really annoyed me (given their ‘Never Settle’ slogan) when they lampooned Apple’s dropping of my beloved 3.5mm audio jack and then their parent company, effectively OPPO at the time, handed them a design to rebadge that… didn’t include the jack. And so they ‘settled’, with some embarrassment. But we’ve forgiven them now and I approached this, the OnePlus 8 Pro, with fresh eyes and enthusiasm, to judge it on its own merits. And was very glad I did – it may not have Apple or Samsung’s brand recognition, but it undercuts the flagships from these brands while often out-performing them. Read our comprehensive OnePlus 8 Pro review after the break.
Both Google and Apple are betting big on Augmented Reality with ARcore and ARkit tools respectively. While the developers are busy creating AR apps, the companies themselves have added some AR use cases in Android and iOS. Apple has added the Measure app to measure objects using the iPhone camera app. Google is focusing on fun elements here. Back in February 2018, the search giant launched AR stickers for the Google Camera app on Pixel devices. The functionality was limited to Pixel devices and Android phones with the Google Camera app. Last year, Google announced 3D animals function using the AR through its search engine.
Google usually releases a preview build of Android in the first half of every year to offer us an early look at things that it has been working. This year, the internet search giant unexpectedly released a really early preview of Android 11 last week. It is the earliest that Google has ever released a developer preview. We’ve had a chance to explore Android 11 and some of its interesting features.
The Pixel 4 XL (and, by extension, the slightly smaller Pixel 4) is a stunning piece of technology and a worthy flagship. It really is. And yet, even six weeks on, I can’t possibly recommend anyone buy it… yet. While its camera system is stunning, while its stereo speakers are jaw droppingly good, while its face recognition system is fast and effective, at least for unlocking the phone, real world activity is still massively impacted by third party banking and password apps not supporting the new biometric APIs (think Face ID) system. Again… yet. It’ll all come together in time and, as usual Google will need an update or two of their own (a ‘feature drop’ is happening as I write this), so I’ll leave a lengthier verdict for some time in early 2020.
Last week, Samsung unveiled its flagship Galaxy Note 10 series. Like previous flagship devices from Samsung, the Galaxy Note 10 and Note 10+ are also IP68 certified which means they are dust and water-resistant.
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Last week, I reviewed the new Google Pixel 3a, concluding that it was a huge deal in terms of getting guaranteed updates and Google’s vision for Android (plus that excellent camera) to the true mainstream, at a price half or a third that of other top smartphones, many of which will be left high and dry in terms of support after a year or so. So here we have the Pixel 3a XL, the sister device and – obviously – larger. So what’s different and is there any more significance to the XL?
The Pixel 3a is Google’s first attempt at a mid-range device. And so far, it looks like they’ve delivered a great device. It’s the only mid-range Android phone with a great camera. If you’re looking for a great Android phone under $500, Pixel 3a and Pixel 3a XL are definitely worth considering. But the question remains. Which color Pixel 3a or Pixel 3a XL should you buy? Read our guide to find out.