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…
Android Phone Reviews
“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.
The Moto G series single-handedly brought back Motorola’s smartphone business back from the brink of extinction. While the company was eventually sold off to Lenovo after being acquired by Google, its Moto G series have continued to sell in millions of units across the world despite the constant change in its leadership and vision.
The Redmi Note 3 was among the most popular budget Android smartphones in India last year. For its price, the phone packed extremely powerful internals, a huge battery, and had decent build quality. It was not without its flaws though, with the 16MP rear shooter being a real disappointment.
Huawei has been fine tuning its digital native (for which read teenagers and twenty somethings) smartphones for a couple of years now and, with the Honor 6X, has (almost) perfected the delicate balance between technology and value for money. The 6X has (almost, again) no weaknesses, at least in this relatively budget segment of the market. If you want a decent (if not top end) smartphone, don’t want to pay top dollar and don’t mind your Android experience to be slightly tweaked from Google’s Nexus and Pixel ambitions, then the Honor 6X is an easy recommendation.
Smartphones have been getting closer to this Star Trek-like form factor for years. Just as the original Samsung Galaxy Nexus appalled us all with a giant 4.7” screen in 2011, a vision of the future from Google, the Xiaomi Mi Mix here with a screen that almost touches the edges on three sides, with a 6.4” display in a form factor smaller than any previous sub-6” phablets, is a clear indication of where things are going. And we know where they’ll end up – we saw it on TV, on Star Trek Next Generation 20 years ago…
To much fanfare, Xiaomi unveiled the Mi 5 at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona this year. Despite the handset being primarily available in China and India, Xiaomi decided to unveil its flagship handset for the first half of 2016 at the biggest mobile event in the world to show off its engineering prowess. The Mi 5 sure impressed everyone when it was first launched with its sleek design and impressive specs. However, when the device actually launched, it did not turn out to be that impressive. The glass black felt cheap, the 4-axis stabilized 16MP camera was mediocre, and MIUI on the Mi 5 was filled with bugs.
Time to answer a few questions. Yes, this is Google’s headline Android phone for the year. Yes, it goes under the Pixel brand rather than Nexus. Yes, Google’s marketing department has gone into overdrive trying to create a genuine consumer phone that can more obviously match the Apple iPhone 7 Plus. And yes, as a result it’s arguably at least £200 too expensive here in the UK. And similarly across the world. But is the super speedy and phenomenally well put together Google Pixel XL worth the branding premium?