OnePlus 3T review: the flagship killer

The OnePlus 3 is one of the best smartphones of 2016, but OnePlus has already decided to raise the bar even higher. They wanted to offer users the best possible experience, so they’re now offering even better hardware with the new OnePlus 3T. Check out our review of OnePlus’ latest and greatest to find out if it really beats its predecessor. Update: OnePlus has confirmed stock is running out in certain markets. Check out the Release Date and Price section below for details.

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Good

  • Good camera
  • Fluid, customizable interface
  • Quick “Dash Charge” system
  • High performance

Bad

  • No design update since the OnePlus 3
  • No microSD slot
  • Only Full-HD (1920×1080) Screen Resolution
  • No Android Nougat yet

Lowest price: OnePlus 3T

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OnePlus 3T release date and price

OnePlus just posted a “last call” on its official forum instructing readers to buy the OnePlus 3T “before stock runs out”. Owners of the device can rest assured that the 3T, and the somewhat older OnePlus 3, will continue to get software updates and support. If you want to buy a OnePlus 3T, you’d be well advised to act fast, as the manufacturer confirmed to PhoneArena that the device will be out of stock in Europe and the UK starting June 1. At least for now, the OnePlus 3T is still available in the US for $ 439 and Canada for CA$ 599. There’s no word yet on how much stock is left for the North American market.

The OnePlus 3T had its launch event on November 15. It’s available in two colors and in two different variants – 64 GB or 128 GB. The 64 and 128 GB models are sold in the US for $ 439 and $ 479, respectively. The Gunmetal version was previously the only color available, but as of January 6 at 7 PM PST / 10 PM EST, Soft Gold can be purchased globally as well.

The global pricing for the 64 GB/128 GB versions is £399/£439 for the UK, $ 599/$ 640 CAD in Canada, ₹29,999/₹34,999 for India, and in Australia where it’s not officially available, the equivalent price is $ 580/$ 630 AUD.

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It is more expensive than the OnePlus 3 was, which is a shame since there is nothing particularly creative about the 3T. With the OnePlus 3 now off the shelves, the brand probably has good expectations for the smartphone anyway. A phablet of this quality at this price point isn’t exactly common.

AndroidPIT oneplus 3t 1334 On the left is the OnePlus 3T in Gunmetal, and on the right, its predecessor, the OnePlus 3. / © AndroidPIT

OnePlus 3T design and build quality

My colleague Omar raved about the design of the OnePlus 3 during his test of the device. I find myself in the same situation with the OnePlus 3T today, with one key difference: the OnePlus 3 was the rightful heir to the OnePlus 2, while the OnePlus 3T is just a little brother to the OnePlus 3.

If you liked the design of the OnePlus 3, you’ll like the OnePlus 3T. The design is basically the same. OnePlus kept the aluminum unibody, the elegant curved edges, the fingerprint scanner on the front, the sound setting Hotkeys…all the things which made us fall in love with the OnePlus 3. It’s not particularly helpful to review all of these features, so I will just share the ones which really make the phone’s strengths stand out.

androidpit oneplus 3t screen2 The fingerprint scanner is located under the screen. / © AndroidPIT

OnePlus knows how to make use of space on their phones. Unlike Google, which puts an empty space under the screen of its Pixel phones, OnePlus takes advantage of the space to house its fingerprint reader. Above, we find the speaker and sensors. On the right side, we find the button to turn the display off and on, and trays for two nano SIM cards.

AndroidPIT oneplus 3t 1380 Apart from the new Gunmetal color, the 3T looks the same as a OnePlus 3. / © AndroidPIT

If there’s one thing I find handy on an iPhone, it’s the ability to switch from ringtone to silent mode with the easily distinguishable side buttons. OnePlus gave the 3T a similar setup, giving the ability to switch to silent mode without having to turn on the screen.

Another advantage is the USB (2.0) Type-C port found on the bottom of the device, between the speaker and the mini-jack (yes, there is a mini-jack!). Having the mini-jack port on the bottom of the device isn’t necessarily bad; it just means you have to put your phone in your pocket upside down when you listen to music, so it’s right-side-up and ready to use when you take it out that way.

AndroidPIT oneplus 3t 1369 Unfortunately, the camera protrudes a little bit from the back of the phone. / © AndroidPIT

With regard to handling, it is a treat. Of course, you must love screens which are a little bit big, and in certain circumstances it is necessary to use two hands. This device is subjectively large, with the following dimensions: 152.7 x 74.7 x 7.35 mm. That being said, it’s certainly not too big, as you don’t have to worry about it having difficulty sliding into your pocket.

If you want a phone with a premium look and feel, you will be well-served by the OnePlus 3T. The surface and build quality of the 3T is consistent with other metal body phones like the Google Pixel, giving it a truly chic appearance. Of the two colors, Soft Gold and Gunmetal, I really like the Gunmetal which recalls the lighter gray shade of the original OnePlus 3.

OnePlus 3T display

Once again, OnePlus opted for a 5.5-inch display. This is something that was successful on its predecessor, the OnePlus 3. The screen is an Optic AMOLED, which according to OnePlus co-founder Carl Pei, is tweaked specifically for the handset, making contrast and color temperature truer to life and viewing better when outdoors. The OnePlus 3T comes with a Full-HD screen and this choice has advantages and disadvantages. One the one hand, the energy consumption is not too high, particularly with the AMOLED screen. But the downside is that the definition is not ideal for VR.

androidpit oneplus 3t screen1 You can adjust the display settings yourself. / © AndroidPIT

The screen is 5.5 inches, making it one of the smaller phablets. Like that of the OnePlus 3, the pixel density is 401 ppi. The screen is Full-HD (1920×1080), which at the advent of VR, is unfortunate. Some newer phones have Quad-HD (2560×1440) resolution instead. Nevertheless, the screen is quite good, the colors are vivid, and I have no problems with it. You can adjust the display settings yourself by calibrating the screen, setting the color temperature differently or by using the sRGB mode. It is pleasant to use this mode, since it makes it less tiring for the eyes, but the yellow hue may get on your nerves.

Unfortunately, I lack the special equipment to test the screen brightness objectively, but it seems to be pretty good. White on the screen sometimes tends toward yellow or blue hues depending on the angle you hold the device. I couldn’t test it in strong sunlight, since the sun isn’t strong in Berlin this time of year. The 3T’s night mode adapts the colors of the screen so your eyes don’t get tired when reading in low light conditions. This is one of the more interesting features of the device for me.

By default, the Gorilla Glass 4 screen comes with a 2.5D screen protector. The protector comes pre-installed since Gorilla Glass 4 is more easily scratched than Gorilla Glass 3.

OnePlus 3T software

Here is where I was really disappointed. On the 3T we find OxygenOS 3.5.1, which is based on…Android 6.0.1! Android Nougat was officially released months ago, and new phones are already being sold running the new version of the OS, but OnePlus opted for the tried and true Marshmallow version anyway. That being said, they already announced that the 3 and 3T would be able to update to Nougat in December.

androidpit oneplus 3t review themes No Nougat, just good old Marshmallow. Do you prefer the light or dark theme? / © AndroidPIT

In short, the user interface is a lot like stock Android and it isn’t built upon the latest version of Android, which is a shame. That said, like with the OnePlus 3, the picture isn’t totally black. Some of the the interface elements have changed, like the quick bar settings which look more like Nougat, and the more intuitive options, in addition to a weather app and voice recorder which also appeared.

On one hand, devotees of pure Android will find it agreeable, despite some tiny differences like smaller icons here and there. On the other hand, there is no bloatware. The software provides some useful functions, like accessibility help for the visually impaired (TalkBack, different font sizes, zoom gestures) and the App Locker function which locks certain apps with a code through the “Never Settle” banner on the top left of the home screen.

androidpit oneplus 3t review neversettle The menu provides quick access to contacts, apps, and widgets. / © AndroidPIT

This mode allows you to quickly access your recent contacts, apps, and a status panel which gives you an idea of your remaining battery life, memory usage, and other widgets. Personally, I don’t find this very useful, since I prefer to use Google Now to get weather and news updates, but I’m sure some will like it.

If you want to customize your menus, you have two options: light or dark. Plus, you can set a secondary color, like an all black menu with green text that will really stand out. More black on an AMOLED is always good for battery life. It’s not necessarily useful, but some will like having the color options.

OnePlus 3T performance

Before we get too far, let’s talk about the technical specs of this device. The processor is a 2.35 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 821. According to Qualcomm, it’s 10 percent more powerful than its predecessor, the 820 with its 2.2 GHz. To complement this, we find the improved Adreno 530 graphics chip, which also boasts at least a 5 percent performance boost and low battery consumption. Along with all of this, we find 6 GB of RAM, plus 64 GB or 128 GB of storage, the latter of which is only available in the Gunmetal color.

oneplus 3t benchmark scores This device does great on benchmark tests. / © AndroidPIT

On the 3T, we find UFS 2.0 (universal flash storage), which should allow for relatively quick loading of apps. In practice, I’ve found this to be true. For everyday use, the performance is good: the RAM and processor can handle multitasking and deliver a good experience consistently. I haven’t encountered any crashes, slow downs, or bugs. Everything seems to be fluid. The phone seems to get warm after heavy use, but nothing abnormal. The fingerprint reader can unlock the device and take you to the home screen in 0.2 seconds.

You can use both nano SIM trays on the device, but OnePlus unfortunately didn’t give us a MicroSD card slot.

A feature which will please many is the dual SIM. You can use both nano SIM trays on the device, but OnePlus unfortunately didn’t give us a MicroSD card slot. The North American model sports WCDMA: Bands 1/2/4/5/8, FDD-LTE: Bands 1/2/4/5/7/8/12/17/30, and CDMA EVDO: BC0. The OnePlus 3 has a relatively low SAR.

As far as benchmarks go, the smartphone scores well, even against the OnePlus 3 which sets the bar. You can find the results of the test in the table below. The battery life test was carried out with the screen at maximum brightness, a topic which we will return to in the section on the battery. 

Benchmarks – OnePlus 3T

  3D Mark Sling Shot ES 3.1 3D Mark Sling Shot ES 3.0

3D Mark Sling Shot ES 2.0

Geekbench 4 – single core Geekbench 4 – multicore PC Mark Work Performance 2.0 PC Mark Storage PC Mark Battery Google Octane 2.0
OnePlus 3T 2358 2983 30610 1884 4394 5759 4688 4h 54m 6566
OnePlus 3 2291 2862 27038 1715 3972 5355 3646 4h 52m 8115

If you’re a VR aficionado, I have bad news. I am very pessimistic about this phone’s VR potential due to the low resolution of the screen.

The OnePlus 3T has slightly elevated SAR levels from the OnePlus 3, with the highest reported levels being 0.995W/kg (head) and  0.645W/kg (body).

OnePlus 3T audio

Here again, we find a single speaker located on the bottom of the phone, on the left side of the USB port, With regard to sound quality, the mono speaker isn’t as good as a stereo speaker you could buy in a store, but the quality is satisfactory for what it is. The max volume is pretty high, but at high volumes, quality is degraded and sounds metallic.

AndroidPIT oneplus 3t 1377 The mono speaker for listening to music. / © AndroidPIT

Unfortunately, the phone doesn’t come with headphones. Most manufacturers offer headphones, even if they’re not the best quality ones. As you can imagine, the audio experience is better with headphones.

During calls, I haven’t experienced any problems. I could hear and be heard clearly with no concerns about audio quality.

OnePlus 3T camera

On the back of the OnePlus 3T, we find the same configuration as that of the OnePlus 3: a Sony IMX 298 16 MP (back) lens with an f/2.0 aperture, and a pixel size of 1.12 microns. That said, the potential is different. Our expert photographer, Robert, has examined the issue and found some differences between the old model and the new one.

The most notable difference is the edge-to-edge sharpness of the OnePlus 3T. Lens quality is often prioritized for maximum sharpness in the center of the image area, since most people will ideally photograph their subjects in that space. The areas around the edge can often be softer due to manufacturing or other implementation issues in a lens. However, the OnePlus 3T is sharper edge-to-edge compared to it’s predecessor. This will be most apparent in good shooting conditions, like on a bright sunny day, which is when shutter speeds are fast enough to not diminish image quality with blur.

The camera on the 3T is perhaps not the best on the market, but it does the job quickly with phase detection auto-focus (0.2 seconds) and generally provides good results. Its photos are good quality, even when conditions aren’t very bright. Details show up well and there are no saturation issues. That said, if you zoom in a lot, you will see a sort of border or outline between black and white shapes (like branches and the sky).

IMG 20161116 134926 The green leaves show up very well. / © AndroidPIT

On the front, we have another 16 MP camera, but it is not the same as the back one: it is a Samsung 3P8SP. The aperture is f/2.0. The quality is good, more than good enough for selfies. The front camera can also take videos in 1080p at 30 fps, 1080p at 60 fps, 720p, and 4K. You can see the difference in quality between the OnePlus 3 and the 3T: the colors are better and the details are crisper.

The image stabilization is equally good, both optically and electronically. The camera app is the same as the OnePlus 3, both in terms of the interface and its options. Save Location, Shutter Sound, and Save RAW Image are the only possible settings, but rest assured that you will find the manual mode, panorama mode, and the video options, including slow motion and accelerated. The slow motion videos can be shot in 720p. And you can also save your photos in .RAW format.

androidpit oneplus 3t review photo The regular and manual camera mode interfaces are both simple. / © AndroidPIT

Hint: you can launch the camera app with a double-tap on the camera button, just like the OnePlus 3. It is a shame that there weren’t any revolutionary changes to the rear camera, given that the competition doesn’t hesitate to up their game with a f/1.7 aperture. For example, Samsung increases their potential during low light conditions and improved the Bokeh effect.

OnePlus 3T battery

The OnePlus 3 has a batter capacity of 3000 mAh, but it decided to go a step beyond with the OnePlus 3T by offering 3,400 mAh. A larger battery in the same size device, without making design concessions, is very interesting.

In general, the battery life is good, but I must admit that I didn’t use it too heavily: just instant messaging, news, a bit of video, some music…In short, a user like me will have the phone lasting a day and a half easily. I made time to test it in the shoes of a demanding user, and spent time on it watching videos and playing games, and the phone doesn’t disappoint. Overall, it is longer lasting than its predecessor.

The Dash Charge system (5 volts 4 amps) allows for quick charging of the phone. The technology provides a stronger current while maintaining a low voltage, which can transfer energy and files quickly. Specifically, I charged the battery from 9 percent to 100 percent in about 75 minutes.

OnePlus has indicated that the system provides a whole day’s worth of battery life in just 30 minutes of charging time. In practice, I went from 5 percent to 57 percent in half an hour, with WiFi and mobile data turned on. A heavy user would likely not last a whole day with just 57 percent, realistically.

I went from 5 percent to 57 percent in half an hour.

We hear that fast charging is extraordinary because it avoids heating up the device, and the user may therefore continue to use their phone while charging without any danger. This is maybe true, but we can’t assume everything will be cool. The charger itself will heat up as well, and after a while, the phone starts to heat up too. Admittedly the situation is under control, at least according to OnePlus, but a hot charger would panic anyone.

With the PCMark 2.0 benchmark, the phone got a 4h 54m score with maximum brightness and the WiFi turned on. In comparison, the OnePlus 3 got 4h 52m with the same conditions (WiFi on, max brightness, and no SIM card).

OnePlus 3T technical specifications

Dimensions: 152.7 x 74.7 x 7.35 mm
Weight: 158 g
Battery size: 3400 mAh
Screen size: 5.5 in
Display technology: AMOLED
Screen: 1920 x 1080 pixels (401 ppi)
Front camera: 16 megapixels
Rear camera: 16 megapixels
Flashlight: LED
Android version: 6.0.1 – Marshmallow
User interface: Oxygen OS
RAM: 6 GB
Internal storage: 128 GB
64 GB
Removable storage: Not available
Chipset: Qualcomm Snapdragon 821
Number of cores: 4
Max. clock speed: 2.35 GHz
Connectivity: LTE, NFC, Dual-SIM , Bluetooth 4.2

Final verdict

The OnePlus 3T is the flagship killer. The OnePlus 3’s crown is being taken by the 3T. What was best about the OnePlus 3 is now made even better by the 3T: an upgraded Snapdragon 821 processor, a larger battery, an improved front camera and various software adjustments. In short, the OnePlus 3T does a great impression of a OnePlus 3 version 2.0.

That said, if you’ve already got a OnePlus 3, don’t bother to upgrade. The lack of Android Nougat is a mistake on the part of OnePlus, in my opinion. True, the update will be available in December, but a phone with these specs running last year’s version of Android just isn’t right. The lack of a microSD card slot is also regrettable, but that’s not a surprise, since the OnePlus 3 didn’t have it either.

In the end, the OnePlus 3 is no longer available and this will motivate people to buy the OnePlus 3T, which is more expensive but also more interesting than the OnePlus3. However, I wonder if it would have been easier to simply wait for the OnePlus 4. Could it be that the young Chinese manufacturer will hold us off with the OnePlus 3T, as a signal that it may be a long while before we get the OnePlus 4? Stay tuned.

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Poll: Will the iPhone 8 be better than the Galaxy S8?

The latest Samsung flagship was just made available in April, but we’ve spent enough time with it to try out all of its features and do a full review of the device. The Galaxy S8 is a winning smartphone in almost every way, so the iPhone 8 will have to make substantial improvements over its predecessor in order to outdo it. Do you think it’s up to the task?

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In his comparison of the iPhone 7 and Galaxy S8, AndroidPIT Spain editor Luis Ortega concluded that even after setting his bias in favor of Android aside, the current top Apple smartphone just couldn’t stand up to the brand new Samsung flagship. They’re both excellent devices, but the S8’s modern, eye-catching design leaves the iPhone 7 in the dust. For the next iPhone to compete, it will have to step up its game in this respect, and offer a performance that’s just as fluid and battery life that’s at least as long.

The latest rumors point to the next iPhone having a more powerful processor and smaller bezels this time around, in addition to ditching the home button. Apple may also be adding a vertical dual camera and a 3D facial recognition camera from LG. If it manages to achieve better battery life than the S8, or even just better placement of the fingerprint scanner, that would be a notable victory for the iPhone 8. We won’t know its specs with any degree of certainty until the device is presented in September, though.

While such a choice depends heavily on which brand and OS you prefer, we would like to know what you think:

Let us know how you decided which device will be the winner in the comments.

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Project Treble: Google is finally doing something to improve Android updates

Just before the Google I/O, Google introduced Project Treble, a new hidden feature on Android O. In the future, Android updates will be sent out without requiring an adjustment from system on chip (SoC) manufacturers, as Google has now developed a vendor interface.

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Android updates go through a long journey before they reach user devices. They start from Google’s development labs before heading to driver creation by component manufacturers, and then firmware implementation and testing by manufacturers and network operators… so it’s a long wait for “just” an update as the whole process can take six months or more.

The following infographic explains the various phases that take place before an Android update is released.

google android update flowchart From the developer to the user: the journey of an Android update. / © Google

For all important updates, manufacturers of SoCs and other chips are required to make adjustments. So if a manufacturer doesn’t adapt the SoC to the new Android version, it can’t receive the official update. Open Source projects such as Lineage OS are a last resort if the manufacturer doesn’t adapt the SoC. These projects develop the necessary adaptations or produce temporary solutions so that the old version of the software is compatible with the new Android version. The disadvantage is that this process doesn’t allow the official update to then be released onto the phone, and there’s no alternative for developers.

This is where Project Treble comes in: with it, Android O receives a standardized vendor interface. This defines the interface that the Android framework uses to access vendor implementation. Through Project Treble, it will be possible to update Android software independently from the vendor implementation.

project treble changes Project Treble separates the Android framework from the vendor implementation. / © Google

Through this method, after an Android update, the vendor implementation remains unaffected. “With Project Treble, we’re re-architecting Android to make it easier, faster and less costly for manufacturers to update devices to a new version of Android”, states Iliyan Malchev, Project Treble project manager, on his blog.

Project Treble’s technical details are still unknown. However, it’s clear that this restructuring of the system will bring many changes to developing updates. Google hopes that manufacturer updates will be developed and distributed as quickly as possible. The smartphone and tablet support period will also be increased. Up until now, Android devices received updates for a period of around two years. But now, thanks to Project Treble, even older generation smartphones will be able to receive the latest Android updates.

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We don’t yet know whether the new vendor interface will succeed in improving the Android Nougat situation: Google needs support from Vulkan 1.0, but this isn’t possible on older chips. Because of this, many 2014 flagships will not receive the update.

Although the blog stated that Project Treble will be available for all new smartphones with Android O, the Pixel devices are already equipped with Android O’s developer preview. In addition to this, Project Treble could arrive on smartphones in the form of an update.

We’ll have to wait and see whether users will also benefit from advantages outlined by Google, and perhaps developers will be happy to develop updates that require less effort and, more importantly, less money.

Is Google moving in the right direction with Project Treble? Tell us what you think in the comments below.

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The dream is over: why Google Daydream isn't taking off

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Google has invested resources into the virtual reality field for many years. Its first product was Cardboard, a VR headset made from cardboard. Google created its VR specifications around the cardboard, so that virtually all Android smartphones are VR-ready. Of course, not all of these phones are capable of virtual reality performance. For this, Google designed the Daydream platform. Instead of just specifying the parameters of the headset, Daydream defines the VR headset and establishes certain requirements for smartphone hardware.

Daydream seemed to be the hit of Google I/O 2016. Who could resist such a concept? Would Samsung have to retire the Gear VR? Anything seemed possible. But nine months later, the truth is that none of the newest line of flagship smartphones support Daydream. Let’s take a look at why.

AndroidPIT google daydream view 0670 Daydream View with Google Pixel and Pixel XL/ © AndroidPIT

Daydream and Gear VR: the battle for VR supremacy 

The fact is that virtual reality isn’t just an exciting concept. Entire branches of industry are expecting to earn serious money here. That’s why the issue isn’t just about smartphone support for Daydream but rather a broader platform strategy. A successful platform means more revenue than from just individual hardware sales. 

For Google, two things are decisive. Firstly, Daydream defines hardware performance. Secondly, Google is the outlet for content via the Play Store. Daydream is Google’s VR platform, with which it aims to earn real money. 

The same is true for Samsung. The Galaxy S8 has the Oculus Store, of course, to purchase content for the Gear VR. Samsung and Oculus will likely include a small contract for each purchase. It’s clear that Samsung isn’t thinking of certifying its smartphones as Daydream-ready, even though their hardware would be powerful enough for it. 

Oculus on the other hand, fights for a market share in the PC-based VR sector. Oculus Rift is ultimately one of best known VR goggles ever. Other PC and console-based VR solutions are provided by HTC with its Vive and Sony’s Playstation VR. 

The sales numbers are clear: Samsung’s Gear VR headset was by far the biggest selling headset in 2016,  largely due to the pre-order initiative for Galaxy S7 customers.

vr statistics 2016 The 2016 VR Market. / © SuperData Research / Unity Technologies

Virtual reality: battling to dominate 

Still none of the above platforms show any clear lead in the race. It’s become apparent that Samsung and Google are the main competitors in the mobile sector. The figures above also show Google’s ebbing power relationship with its competitors. But Daydream was only released at the end of the year, the numbers for 2017 should be a lot tighter. 

Samsung is betting on its Gear VR

Nominally, Samsung is on the back foot. Only Galaxy S smartphones support Gear VR but judging by the public interest surrounding the S8 launch, this may not be a huge disadvantage. The Gear VR may at least persuade those interested in VR not to mention that the recently introduced Gear VR controller may even be tempting to gamers. 

To a certain extent, Samsung’s second pillar is their partner Oculus. Oculus cooperates with many game manufacturers and also maintains a high quality of content on the Gear VR platform. Our inside sources confirm that quality is the main target for Samsung. Achieving a high number of Gear VR apps doesn’t make sense for the company.

Samsung may potentially even release their own headset onto the market, and take up the fight against Vive and their own partner Oculus. But competing against Oculus seems unlikely. It would make more sense for Samsung to bring out an Oculus-compatible VR solution instead.

AndroidPIT samsung gear vr controller 7311 The new Gear VR controller will appeal to gamers / © AndroidPIT

Google and Daydream: doomed to fail without partners

With Daydream View, Google offers a good headset and controller. It also uses a largely open and sensible specification which manufacturers merely have to implement in their own smartphones. With the Play Store they also have a generally accepted distribution channel. In spite of this, Daydream doesn’t seem to be succeeding. Particularly troubling for Google is that Samsung, the most important manufacturer of high-end Smartphones, has brought its own supported platform into the competition. 

According to Google’s own website, four Daydream-ready smartphones are currently available: ZTE Axon 7, Lenovo Moto Z as well as the Google Pixel and Pixel XL. Soon to join the club is the Huawei Mate 9 Pro and Asus ZenFone AR. To restate: the high-end smartphones of 2017 are absent from this list. 

AMOLED is an automatic requirement for Daydream

The fact that the Galaxy S8 is missing from this list can be explained by the above reasons. But the Huawei P10? This is likely due to a product decision by Huawei. Daydream requires a very quick pixel switching time. AMOLED displays have a technological advantage here, which is why they are currently a de facto prerequisite for Daydream. This excludes not only the P10 but the LG G6 and HTC U Ultra, and likely also the Sony Xperia XZ Premium. 

Huawei has also put the P10 on an IPS panel, possibly to save money. However, a look at other manufacturers suggests that other interests are at play. HTC and Vive are surely considering a VR system of their own – they would be silly not to. Sony has entered their Playstation VR into the race. And LG? Even LG has VR ambitions and introduced a VR headset for Valve’s Steam VR platform.

AndroidPIT google daydream view 0651 Daydream was conceived as an open platform / © AndroidPIT

Google Daydream: not the expected home run

Google hasn’t ignited any enthusiasm from manufacturers with Daydream. To make matters worse, mobile VR is important for Samsung, but how often would anyone use VR on the move? Much evidence shows that VR is used primarily as living room technology. Thus Sony has no interest in combining its Playstation VR with a Daydream-compatible smartphone. This is even more true for HTC and Vive.

Google seems to only have Asus, Huawei, Lenovo or ZTE left as reliable partners and manufacturer seeing as they   (probably) don’t have VR ambitions themselves.

Sony, Vive and Valve: Two living room platforms with potential

With Vive, HTC created VR goggles which can make computers VR-ready. Vive has since become its own company. Together with Valve and its gaming platform Steam, Vive is equipped to enter the VR arena.

With the Playstation, Sony succeeded in creating the emblem of the modern gaming platform. This success could be harnessed for VR gaming – Playstation VR. The above figures put Sony in second place, although still clearly behind Samsung. 

AndroidPIT mwc vr experiences 1 Virtual reality: what next? / © AndroidPIT

Virtual reality: now comes the real battle

In 2016, Samsung managed to distribute quite a few Gear VR headsets. The S7 pre-order initiative was primarily responsible for the strong sales. HTC and Vive will push their own VR platforms. But what about Google? The failed Daydream launch last year certainly didn’t help. Google also cannot expect any support from Samsung, HTC or Sony.

Market research institute IDC predicts the market value of VR goggles reaching 18.6 million USD by 2021. In 2016 there was a turnover of 2.1 million USD – indicative of a rapidly growing market.

The die are cast. In the coming months and years, many tech industry heavyweights will fight for supremacy in the VR sector. The aim is to assert themselves as the leading VR platform.  Is there enough room for multiple VR platforms? How will the collaboration between Samsung and Oculus develop? Will Google have a chance with Daydream?

The arena is ready. Let the games begin.

Do you see one manufacturers taking the lead? Have you already picked a VR platform?

 

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How to find your downloaded files on Android

This might seem like a funny question for those of you who are more used to using Android, but a lot of beginners are struggling to find their files once they have been downloaded. How many of you are wondering the same thing? In this article, we’ll explain to you how to easily find your downloaded files on your Android device.

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Before diving into the details, we ought to define what we mean by ‘downloaded files’. These are items that you download from your browser, for example. They aren’t files that you receive via an app (via WhatsApp, for example) as those are generally stored by default in the app’s archive.

Finding downloaded files on Android

Here’s an easy tutorial on how to find downloaded files on your Android device. It just takes a few basic actions, nothing too intimidating, even for an Android newcomer. 

Firstly, you need a file manager. You’ll find several of these in our article on the best file managers around if you want to download one. Reminder: on Marshmallow, you’ll have access to a file explorer in the settings.

MM File Explorer Here’s how to access Android 6.0 Marshmallow’s own file explorer. / © ANDROIDPIT

After that, all you have to do is look for the “Download” archive. This will be on the internal and not the external memory, so don’t go into the archives for your microSD card.

androidPIT marshmallow download file The downloaded files can be found in the “Download” archives. © AndroidPIT

And there you have it, now you’ll be able to access your downloaded files on Android. If you run into any problems, feel free to use the comments section below to ask for help. For now, we hope we’ve been able to help you a little.

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Andy Rubin's Essential Phone release date confirmed

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What is Essential?

Andy Rubin was the Senior Vice President of Google’s mobile sector up until 2014. His successor was Sundar Pichai, the now Google CEO, who was then succeeded in turn by Hiroshi Lockheimer. Rubin was the Android inventor and under his leadership, the OS was installed on billions of devices. Later, he got into robotics at Google, but soon left this area as well in order to pursue his own interests.

After 2014, Andy Rubin began to work intensely with young startups and, under his tutelage, Playground Global found worldwide success. The focus of the company was on artificial intelligence, robotics and augmented reality. Now, it would like to integrate the innovations that it was able to achieve in a new smartphone, as recently reported by Bloomberg.

With the support of a team of 40 people, made up of former Apple and Google employees, the Android founder has now started a new company called Essential. It will reportedly produce not only smartphones but also smart home hardware, with the high-end smartphone at the center of the ecosystem.

Essential Phone: price and release date

All the speculation and rumors surrounding the upcoming smartphone of Andy Rubin’s new startup called Essential will end on May 30, 2017. The Essential Phone’s unveiling date was announced on Twitter by the recently created official account of the company.

A report from Bloomberg says that the phone will likely cost close to the same as the iPhone 7 (around $ 649).

Essential Phone: bezel-less design

The new smartphone from the Android inventor Andy Rubin will celebrate its market launch this year and, of course, come with top equipment and an AI. Rubin gave us a first glimpse of how the Essential Phone will look back in March with the following Tweet: 

In the picture, you can only see the upper right corner of the smartphone, but from this small section alone, you can tell the Essential Phone will have a nearly bezel-less display design. Whether the display will occupy almost the entire front, or whether the Essential Phone will have a “chin” bezel at the bottom like the Xiaomi Mi Mix, we can’t yet discern.

Essential Phone: camera and possible modular attachments

If the Essential smartphone is to have a nearly bezel-less design, that begs a question: where will the front camera go? The Xiaomi Mi Mix, pictured below, has a selfie cam on the bottom right corner of the front of the phone, meaning you have to flip it upside down in order to avoid taking pictures of the inside of your nose. Needless to say, this is a bit awkward. Essential could opt for this placement, or they could take a page from Huawei’s book. The Huawei ShotX has a rear camera that flips up to face the front.

AndroidPIT Xiaomi mi mix 2574 The Xiaomi Mi Mix’s selfie camera is located on its thin bottom bezel. / © AndroidPIT

It could also be the case that the new Essential phone has modular attachments instead of a built-in front camera. The tweet below appears to show an attachment at the top of the device which could be either an external front camera or a 360 degree camera. 

A report from Bloomberg says the Essential Phone could have a proprietary connector, which would allow for an extension of the phone’s functionality, similar to Moto Mods. It also mentions a spherical 360 degree camera is already in the works, and this could be what we see in the tweet above.

Essential Phone: software

Artificial intelligence

2017 will be the year of AI and assistants. Rubin realized this, and if you look at progress in the entire tech sector right now, you’d see that Amazon is even a hair further along than Google is in the race to have control over your household. For those who don’t participate right now, they’ll lose an opportunity to get on board. Andy Rubin, a robotics expert, is likely to make Essential a big player in the market. According to the Bloomberg report, Essential will be a “platform company designed to tie multiple devices together” and it is “working on a suite of consumer hardware products, including ones for the mobile and smart home markets”. 

The report also mentions that the device could be docked into your home or car using a proprietary connector, making Amazon Echo and Google Home useless, since your smartphone could then function as a central control hub for your smart home gadgets, like stereos and routers. There is still no word on whether the AI of the Essential Phone will be Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa or another artificial intelligence.

Will it run Android or something new?

Will this be an Android smartphone or a completely new player on the market? Andy Rubin could have chosen to ditch Android and install a Play Store-compatible spin-off, with a core he can better control. Taking Cyanogen Inc. as an example though, we saw that this approach can end embarrassingly, especially if it is done with the premise of sticking it to Google. In October 2016, about four years after the foundation of Inc, the first Android-deviation Cyanogenmod came to an end. Two months after, the company also closed. Android, without Google, is hardly feasible, especially if you aren’t named Amazon. So, its no surprise that Essential Phone will run Android. This has even been confirmed by none other than Alphabet Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt. 

Essential Phone: early specs rumors

Even if you can’t trust database entries from benchmarks 100 percent, they can give a very good initial idea of what to expect from a phone specs. The Essential FIH-PM1 device can now be found in the GFXBench database. According to the entry, will have an 18:9 display ratio with a 5.5-inch display diagonal. The resolution is 1,312 x 2,560 pixels. This is a lower resolution and also smaller screen diagonal than the Samsung Galaxy S8 and LG G6 offer.

AndroidPIT Samsung Galaxy S8 vs LG G6 2461 Essential will follow the new display format trend; 18:9 for the Galaxy S8 and 18:5 for the LG G6. / © AndroidPIT

Since it will be a top smartphone, it’s no surprise to find the Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 with 2.2 GHz, Adreno 540 GPU and 4 GB of RAM in the benchmark. The internal memory listed is only 16 GB, but this could be easily increased before the release of the phone. A 12 MP main camera and 8 MP front camera complete the picture. 

Essential Phone rumored technical specs

Technical Specs Essential Phone
Type Smartphone
Dimensions unknown
Weight unknown
Battery unknown
Display size 5.5 inches
Display technology unknown
Resolution 1.312 x 2.560 Pixel (ca. 18:9)
Front camera speculated to be 8 MP
Rear camera speculated to be 12 MP
Flash LED
Android Version Android, probably 7.0 Nougat
UI unknown
RAM 4 GB
Internal storage 16 GB
Removable storage unknown
Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 with Adreno 540 GPU
Clock speed 2.2 GHz
Connectivity Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS, NFC, USB Type-C

The table above reflects the latest rumors about the Essential Phone, and it will be updated as more information surfaces. 

Let us know what you think about the Essential Phone in the comments!

Android News + App Reviews + Hardware Reviews – AndroidPIT

Best translation apps for Android

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Best all-round translation app: Google Translate

If you need a translation app that does everything you need – plus things you never thought you needed – then Google Translate is the ticket. It works with any Android app so you can quickly translate within WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Evernote, Google Chrome, Feedly, etc.

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The type-translate function currently supports 90 languages, which are also supported if you want to take a picture and have it translated or use your finger to write the words. Two-way automatic voice translation is limited to 40 languages.

The coolest feature of Google Translate is the instant camera text translation, which instantly translates public transportation schedules, warning signs, menus and many more. The size or font of the text does not matter, Google Translate will instantly translate it. This function is limited to 26 languages, but works incredibly well, and you will be amazed at the number of instances where it comes in handy. Plus, once you download the relevant language packs, you can translate while offline.

ANDROIDPIT google translate 1 Google Translate instantly translates texts of different sizes and colors. / © ANDROIDPIT Google Translate Install on Google Play

Best translation app for offline use: Microsoft Translator

Microsoft jumped into the Android translation market with its simple and sophisticated app. It’s designed for offline use and supports 42 languages. Getting them is easy. You just need to download each language individually. Each one is around 200 MB and once downloaded you will be able to translate offline.

The interface for Microsoft Translator is practical and well-designed. When you open the app you are given four buttons for quick access. You can choose speechb detection translation, keyboard translation or two-way translation.

While the interface is much nicer than most translation apps, Microsoft Translator is not a versatile translation app. It doesn’t translate text as instantaneously as Google Translate. The app does support Android Wear and this can give you quick translation access that other apps cannot.

AndroidPIT hello app Microsoft Translator has a clean interface with simple functions that work offline. / © ANDROIDPIT Translator Install on Google Play

Best translation app for voice recognition: Translate voice

Translate voice has the best voice recognition of any of the translation apps we could find. You can say a word or read an entire paragraph and the app keeps up with you. It is dependent on your smartphone’s voice recognition capabilities so results could vary. 

Translate voice has the best voice recognition of any translation app.

This app is especially helpful for when you are in social situations where typing is impractical. With Translate voice, you can say phrases and then play the translation aloud to the other person. 

Translate voice is limited by its number of usable functions. If you need something that is more thorough in its translation services, you should probably try one of the other translation apps.

AndroidPIT translator apps 2 Translate voice is great for translating verbal communication. / © ANDROIDPIT Translate voice – Translator Install on Google Play

Best translation app for simplicity: Easy Language Translator

If you want a translation fast on a simple interface then Easy Language Translator is your best bet. This app was developed with ease-of-use in mind and is ideal for beginners. It has just two translation functions – typing and speaking – and they both offer up translations quickly.  

Easy Language Translator’s buttons are relatively large and have flags next to them so you can quickly distinguish between the languages. The large font size makes it easy to see your translations. The app only has a few functions but that’s part of what makes it so easy.

The default settings are user-friendly but you can customize them to make the app even better. There are 10 font sizes and six themes. You can choose which functions you want, such as dictionary, phonetics and corrections.

androidpit best translation apps The best translation app for quick and easy use is Easy Language Translator. / © ANDROIDPIT Easy Language Translator Install on Google Play

Best translation app for individual words: PONS

PONS Online Dictionary is a dictionary with translator functions, which means it can give you in-depth descriptions of words. Words often have several meanings, so PONS gives you a few options displayed in a simple interface.

The word ‘current’ could mean ‘electrical current’ or ‘new’ and could appear as a noun or an adjective. You need to find out which way this word is meant to be used in order to get the right translation and PONS is great at helping you figure this out.

PONS is also good for finding and translating phrases in which to use these words. A suggested phrase for ‘current’ is ‘this version is current,’ which is immediately translated on the other half of the screen. This gives you a better understanding of the word in both languages. 

ANDROIDPIT google translate 5 PONS is great for teaching you more about the words you translate. / © ANDROIDPIT PONS Online Translator Install on Google Play

Best translation app for accuracy: iTranslate

If you need a sentence or two translated, iTranslate will give you the most accurate results. It is equipped to handle more than 90 languages. And though this is just a small fraction of the total languages in the world, it will be useful in the majority of situations.

iTranslate is also the best app to use for typing or copying text. The swipe feature quickly copies blocks of text and translates them effortlessly. If you find something in your translation that you may need later, you can save it in your favorites. 

While the voice recognition is not the best, it does have an amazing audio function that can read back translations in different dialects. For instance, you can choose between British, American and Australian English. You can also have the text read back to you more slowly. 

AndroidPIT translator apps 5 The accuracy of iTranslate is unmatched. / © ANDROIDPIT iTranslate – Free Translator Install on Google Play

Best translation app for messaging: GBoard

Whether you’re travelling or sending SMS messages to friends from around the world, it can be a pain to jump from app to app just to send a message in another language and translate replies. With GBoard, the keyboard app from Google, this problem is finally solved. It’s a multi-lingual keyboard with a translator built right in!

You can use its many keyboard configurations to type in multiple languages, and you can switch between your native language and any of your other secondary languages just by holding down the spacebar button. It will auto-correct and make suggestions for any of your enabled languages.

But, the real magic is that Google’s keyboard has Google Translate built in. That means you can type in your native tongue, and it will translate into another language instantly as you type. Just select the language you want it to translate to, and it will translate simultaneously as you type, word by word, then you can edit the result as you see fit before sending the message. GBoard also has built-in search functions if you want to look up words, and you can copy and paste replies to translate them to a language you can read.

gboard google translate GBoard is the obvious choice for translating messages. / © Google Gboard – the Google Keyboard Install on Google Play

What do you use translation apps for? What do you think is the best translation app? Let us know in the comments. 

Android News + App Reviews + Hardware Reviews – AndroidPIT

3 reasons why you should keep your Galaxy S7 Edge

For a little while now, the Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+ have been available to buy in stores. Perhaps you’re wondering whether it’s worth the money. If you own a Galaxy S7 or S7 Edge, the decision is made all the more difficult. Read on to see why we think you should hang on to your Galaxy S7 for the time being.

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1. The aging design is still perfectly modern

Obviously, the design of the Samsung Galaxy S8 is very modern, with the huge screen probably being one of its biggest assets. It inevitably knocks a few years onto the S7 Edge – a device which, prior to the S8’s launch, had been one of the nicest phones available at the time. Fear not though, if you compare the Galaxy S7 Edge to other current smartphones, the S7 Edge hasn’t lost any of its charm. At the moment, the “competitors” are the new Galaxy and the LG G6.

Of course, once the new size/display ratios really begin to invade the market, the Galaxy S7 and the S7 Edge will become truly antiquated, but unfortunately there’s not much we can do about that. Anyway, as that day has not yet arrived, don’t rush – especially if you bear in mind that in a few months, the price of the Galaxy S8 will have dropped significantly.

Lowest price: Samsung Galaxy S8

Best price AndroidPIT Samsung Galaxy S7 17 The Samsung Galaxy S8 made the S7 Edge seem old, but it’s really not the case. Yet. © ANDROIDPIT

2. The performance of the Galaxy S7 Edge is still excellent

Yes, the Galaxy S8 is better than the Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge in terms of performance. The Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 chip offers better processing power, better battery life and more. Despite that, the performance of the Galaxy S7 was already excellent, so much so that it can run any game from the Play Store without encountering issues. And battery life? That was also already perfectly decent.

Obviously, we always want the best. Virtual reality, for example, has a lot more potential on the S8 (which will be compatible with Daydream this Summer), but is VR really your priority with a smartphone? Are you especially interested in the launcher of the S8 and Bixby? If so, don’t worry, it’ll almost certainly arrive on the Galaxy S7 soon enough.

AndroidPIT Galaxy S8 vs Galaxy S7 comparison 2509 Against the S8, it’s not really a question of want, but rather of need. The S8 obviously has more potential, but the S7 Edge will do everything you require of it. © AndroidPIT

3. The camera of the S7 Edge is still one of the best

One might think that an aging smartphone loses its grandeur, but the Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge is an exception to this rule, at least in terms of camera quality. To give you an idea, DxOMark ranks the S7 and S7 Edge (since they have the same camera) in the 5th place overall, just behind the Samsung Galaxy S8, HTC 10Google Pixel and HTC U11, which recently reached the top spot in the rankings. 

Opinion by Benoit Pepicq

I will keep my Galaxy S7 or S7 Edge and not buy the S8

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This camera was so good that the Galaxy S8 has reused much the same configuration for its S8. Among other features, there is the same number of megapixels (12 MP) and the same aperture (f / 1.7). One difference should be noted though: the S8 uses a Samsung sensor while the S7 uses a Sony sensor. But regardless of which sensor is used, the result is still excellent on both devices.

AndroidPIT Samsung galaxy s7 edge 17 The Galaxy S7 / S7 Edge camera sensor is one of the best on the market. © ANDROIDPIT

Do you plan to buy the Galaxy S8 or do you want to keep your Galaxy S7 for a while longer?

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HTC U11 review: an actual rival to the Galaxy S8

The HTC U11 is here, and it’s aiming to knock the Samsung Galaxy S8 off the winner’s podium as this year’s best Android smartphone. So, what are the ingredients HTC has used in its recipe for success? Add a strong processor, a new user interface and Edge Sense, then wrap it up into a device with a high-quality design and send it to market. But, is all of this enough to help HTC get to the top? Don’t forget to check out the price and release date section below to get a $ 50 discount code.

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Good

  • Fantastic camera
  • Great performance
  • Superb sound
  • Edge Sense
  • Dual SIM

Bad

  • Wide frame
  • Poor brightness
  • No mini-jack

HTC U11 release date and price

The HTC U11 was officially revealed on May 16, and the word is that it will be available worldwide in a variety of colors from May onward. Pre-ordered devices will begin shipping in June in the US.

There are $ 50 promo codes being circulated online for the HTC U11 now, bringing the price down to $ 600. Simply use any of these three codes: LOVEU11, ONLY4U11 or JUST4U11. These apply to the Sprint, Verizon and unlocked versions of the device – note that the unlocked version works with AT&T and T-Mobile. You can get the discount by ordering from HTC here.

AndroidPIT HTC U 4629 The back of the HTC U11 shimmers and shines in each color. / © ANDROIDPIT

HTC U11 design and build quality

The latest flagship device to come from the Taiwanese manufacturer is one of the most eye-catching smartphones to be released so far this year. With its curved and colorful glass surfaces, the HTC U11 stands out among other current smartphones – at least within the high-end range of devices, where most have kept to the quite frankly boring, plain design rule. The protective glass above the display (Gorilla Glass 5) flows smoothly into the slim, symmetrical aluminum frame as well as the glass on the back (Gorilla Glass 3). 

AndroidPIT HTC U 11 4614 The HTC U11 is very bright on the back. At the bottom is one of its four microphones. / © AndroidPIT

The point at which the glass meets the metal is perfect, and the frames of the device are similar to what you’ll find on the HTC U11’s strongest competitor, the Samsung Galaxy S8. The back cover of the HTC U11 shimmers and gleams beautifully, and looks stunning – so as long as you diligently polish away the fingerprints that will inevitably accumulate there.

AndroidPIT HTC U 11 4597 The build quality of the frames is reminiscent of the S8 but the HTC U11’s screen is flat. / © AndroidPIT AndroidPIT HTC U 11 4664 Hybrid card slot at the top of the HTC U11. / © AndroidPIT

At only 7.9 mm thick, the HTC U11 is quite slim and the camera almost disappears into the case without a trace – you’ll only really notice it when you place the device down on a flat surface. The dimensions also provide a few surprises, as the 5.5-inch screen is housed in a frame that is only 75.9 mm wide. Weighing in at 169 grams, it’s not necessarily a lightweight device but it fits well enough into your hand and the weight is well-balanced.

AndroidPIT HTC U 11 4685 A very generous frame on the HTC U11. / © AndroidPIT

The volume rocker and power button are located on the right-hand side of the device and are easy to access and operate. The U11 has been given IP67 certification, meaning the device is dust and water resistant up to a depth of 1 meter for 30 minutes. The device comes with a hybrid SIM card slot, using either a single SIM card and a second nano SIM card or a microSD. There are four microphones on the edges of the U11: on the lower rear, at the top on the front, on the bottom frame and the top frame. So, be careful when you record anything as there are many points that you could cover with your hand.

After seeing the new screen formats for the Galaxy S8 and LG G6, which are both somewhat more elongated and have rounded corners, seeing a screen with square corners is reminiscent of the more old-fashioned smartphones on the market. Technologically speaking, along with the Sony XZ Premium, the U11 is the most advanced smartphone currently available on the market. Visually though, it’s nothing novel. 

u11 xzp s8 g6 The four brightest stars in the Android universe for 2017. / © ANDROIDPIT

HTC U11 display

The HTC U11 sports a 5.5-inch QHD display (2,560 x 1,440 pixels), giving the screen a pixel density of 539 ppi. All in all, this is more than enough to give users a crisp image. With its black background, the HTC U11 can – at least briefly – hide the fact that the screen is not an OLED panel. As a result, the colors are not as bright as those you’d have with an OLED screen. It’s not obvious if you look directly at the display, but if you look at the side of the screen there is a visible light grey haze. 

AndroidPIT HTC U 4753 The front of the HTC U11. / © ANDROIDPIT

When we used the U11 in direct sunlight we had to raise the brightness level to the maximum, so if you’re out and about on a sunny day you’ll probably miss being able to adjust it even further. That said, it’s still very user friendly. The screen of the HTC U11 is very good and shows that the manufacturer has improved a lot in this area. 

The frames surrounding the screen are quite wide. The side edges have a thickness of more than 3 mm, which I suppose was necessary in order to accommodate the curve of the glass. This makes the screen-to-body ratio around 71.4%, which is not as bad as the iPhone 7 Plus (67.7%) but it’s not as good as the S8 (84%).

AndroidPIT HTC U 11 4601 Black is a little lack luster on the HTC U11. / © ANDROIDPIT

HTC U11 special features

The HTC U11 is mainly operated via the touchscreen – just like every other smartphone. However, HTC is bringing its users an alternative way to interact with the phone with its brand new feature: Edge Sense. The U11 comes with a pressure sensitive frame, which will react to users squeezing the sides of the device. The HTC U11 is able to distinguish between simple presses and long presses, and will be able to perform various functions based on these. 

AndroidPIT HTC U 4686 Give the sides a squeeze. / © ANDROIDPIT

According to the manufacturer, Edge Sense works effectively underwater as well as with gloves. When setting it up for the first time, the user will need to adjust it to their own grip pressure to avoid any unintended actions being triggered. When you set up the system you can choose the degree of pressure you want for different functions – a short press for some or a long press for others. 

In fact, the Edge Sense feature worked quite well in our preliminary HTC U11 tests – despite the beta firmware. For example, you can use Edge Sense to start the camera, shoot a photo, summon Google Assistant or activate the keyboard. Later, Edge Sense will be extended and you’ll then be able to access any of your apps. In some situations, having this feature to operate key functions on a smartphone will be very helpful for some users. 

AndroidPIT HTCES camera HTC Edge Sense in action on the HTC U11. / © ANDROIDPIT AndroidPIT HTCES options The Edge Sense settings. / © ANDROIDPIT

In my opinion, Edge Sense is one of the best innovations we’ve seen so far in 2017. I find it very practical, and I particularly like the fact that it as some distinctive functions which for using the camera. I hope HTC is able to extend the functionality of the Edge Sense with future updates so it can be used for third-party apps. 

AndroidPIT HTC U11 Edge Sense camera HTC Edge Sense funcionando con la cámara del HTC U11. / © AndroidPIT

HTC U11 software

When choosing the operating system, HTC obviously wanted to avoid taking chances with its latest device and so it has provided the U11 with the most up-to-date Android version available: Android Nougat 7.1.1. The HTC Sense UI has a visually unobtrusive design and is very economical when it comes to apps.

The manufacturer hasn’t announced when it intends to distribute an Android O update, though there are a number of reasons why they haven’t done this. Firstly, Android O isn’t available yet. And secondly, HTC has been one of the few manufacturers providing regular, timely updates for their devices for years. We’re fully expecting the HTC U11 be one of the first smartphones to receive the Android O update whenever it is released.

AndroidPIT HTC U11 software HTC Help, Boots+ and Sense Companion. / © ANDROIDPIT

In addition to the HTC Sense Companion is Boost +, which helps to manage your smartphone. This is becoming a popular feature for a number of manufacturers, and rightly so as this helps you to do things like optimize the battery, free up memory and block apps. HTC Help is also installed to ensure that the hardware is working  properly. 

AndroidPIT HTC U 11 4605 The U11 was released with Android Nougat – when will it receive Android O?  / © ANDROIDPIT

HTC U11 performance

With the Qualcomm Snapdragon 835, the HTC U11 comes equipped with one of the best chipsets available today and has more than enough power to support itself for all tasks over the next two to three years. The 4 GB of RAM is less than some fans were hoping to see on a new HTC device, but this is more than sufficient.

The proof of this will be in the benchmark tests, as this is the only way we can really put the processor through its paces. In the table below you can see how the U11 surpasses the performance of any other Android smartphone we have seen released to date, even the Xperia XZ Premium. For gaming, the performance is fantastic. I tested the device playing Need for Speed: No Limits, and found that some aspects of the game which were usually slow were very fluid when I played it using the U11. The graphics were also the best I’ve seen in a long time. 

HTC U11 Benchmark Comparison  

 
  HTC U11 Samsung Galaxy S8+ Huawei Mate 9 Xperia XZ Premium
3DMark SlingShot ES 3.1 3.599 3.132 2.293 3.245
3DMark SlingShot ES 3.0 4.129 3.336 2.724 3.697
3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited 40.034 28.742 27.516 40.286
Geekbench Single Core 1.905 2.014 1.843 1.898
Geekbench Multi Core 6.454 6.479 5.840 6.294
PCMark Work Performance 6.787 5.094 6.350 6.338
PCMark Storage 4.772 7.340 4.989
Google Octane 2.0 11.928 10.440 8.807 11.086

There is one small detail that we found confusing: the HTC U11 doesn’t come with Bluetooth 5. For some reason, HTC has decided to go with Bluetooth 4.2 for it’s 2017 flagship. There may be a chance that Bluetooth 5 could be activated later. It’s not clear exactly how HTC could go about doing this, but having Bluetooth 5 would have genuine advantages

HTC U11 audio

With BoomSound, HTC set the benchmark for smartphone speakers at quite a high level. The HTC U11 also has BoomSound speakers on board, but for this device, they have been completely redesigned. The sound designers were involved in the development of the HTC U11 right from the start, and were allowed to design the interior of the phone to create enough resonance. This has apparently worked well, because the new HTC smartphone has great resonance, and the sound is loud and balanced. That said, the HTC U11 doesn’t have genuine stereo sound: the call speaker at the top works in concert with the loud speaker at the bottom.

AndroidPIT HTC U 4670 The HTC U11 has USB Type-C. / © AndroidPIT

HTC has also worked on the headphones of the U11, which are identical to those of the HTC U Play and U Ultra. Thanks to the Snapdragon 835 and its software, HTC now has Active Noise Cancellation. The microphones used for this are located in the HTC USonic headphones themselves. When you try it out, you can hear in just a few seconds that the active noise cancelling works excellently.

The HTC U11 itself has four microphones on board, which are used to pick up conversations and record targeted or omni-directional sound for videos. The microphones are also important for Google Assistant and the HTC Sense Companion, which will have company soon: a few weeks after the launch of the U11, HTC will also integrate Amazon Alexa into the system. The user can then pick and choose which assistant they prefer to control apps and functions.

HTC prefers digital sound and therefore does not include a traditional 3.5 mm jack, but you are given an adapter with the device so you can still use your old headphones. This USB-type C-to-DAC adapter with DAC technology also delivers spectacular sound. As a side note, when this plug is connected to the smartphone it will consume power, so it’s best to unplug is when you’re not using it. 

AndroidPIT HTC U11 sound Changing your audio profile is a piece of cake with the HTC U11. / © ANDROIDPIT

HTC U11 camera

The main camera of the HTC U11 has 12 MP and an aperture of f / 1.7. HTC wants to surpass the camera performance of the HTC 10, and it has succeeded, having been awarded a strong 90 points compared to the HTC 10’s 88 points by DxOMark. It is the highest-rated smartphone camera ever tested by DxOMark. The device comes with laser autofocus, and it works like the Galaxy S8, with dual pixel focus – so each pixel is also used for focusing. This makes the HTC U11 camera really fast, and with its new HDR Boost technology the dynamic range offers a variety of shades and brightness.

The HTC U11 is the highest-rated smartphone camera ever tested by DxOMark

The colors are bright and very natural. What surprises me most is the level of detail. In low light conditions HTC has opted for an aggressive automatic configuration, that is, the details are perfectly represented but some noise appears.This way although the conditions are bad for a snapshot we will always have something to do. We also have a manual mode in which we can adjust the shot to our liking.

AndroidPIT HTC U11 camera crop The HTC U11 captures all the details. / © ANDROIDPIT

At first sight, any pictures taken come out very nicely. However, the HTC U11 doesn’t yet have all the final software on board – there may still be some changes that become apparent after our final tests. Video recording is possible in 4K with 30 images per second, and slow motion in Full-HD creates 120 frames per second. The camera has both optical and electronic image stabilization.

The front camera has 16 MP and fixed focus, and the aperture is f / 2.0. HDR Boost can also be used with the front camera.

AndroidPIT HTC U 4793 The HTC U11’s rear camera. / © ANDROIDPIT

HTC U11 battery

The battery of the HTC U11 is non-removable and has a capacity of 3,000 mAh which is more than enough energy for one full day without needing to recharge. With a very demanding use, such as using the camera for extended periods, the U11 is able to withstand about 12 hours. For normal use, such as sporadic photos, gaming, videos and calls and emailing, the battery can last up to 20 hours. 

AndroidPIT HTC U 11 4667 USB 3.1 Type C with Quick Charge 3.0. / © ANDROIDPIT

Thanks to QuickCharge 3.0, HTC promises a 50 percent charge after half an hour, and a full recharge after 90 minutes. In our own tests, the HTC U11 reached 30% in 18 minutes, 50% in 34 minutes and 100% in 94 minutes (1:34 h). These numbers are all very close to the manufacturer’s promised result.

AndroidPIT HTC U11 battery The battery can withstand some pretty heavy usage. / © ANDROIDPIT

HTC U11 technical specifications

Dimensions: 153.9 x 75.9 x 7.9 mm
Weight: 169 g
Battery size: 3000 mAh
Screen size: 5.5 in
Display technology: LCD
Screen: 2560 x 1440 pixels (534 ppi)
Front camera: 16 megapixels
Rear camera: 12.2 megapixels
Flashlight: Dual-LED
Android version: 7.1.1 – Nougat
User interface: HTC Sense
RAM: 4 GB
Internal storage: 64 GB
Removable storage: microSD
Chipset: Qualcomm Snapdragon 835
Number of cores: 8
Max. clock speed: 2.45 GHz
Connectivity: HSPA, LTE, NFC, Bluetooth 4.2

Final verdict

At present, the HTC U11 is the best available alternative to the Galaxy S8; it has better performance, spectacular audio quality and a fantastic camera. In terms of battery performance, it is strong but it doesn’t really stand out from other premium-range smartphones. That said, it’s certainly a smartphone to keep in mind.

The U11 is primarily aimed at those users who are looking for a different design, although fans of the mythical HTC One series might miss the metallic finish. It’s also a good option for anyone not entirely convinced by the design of the Galaxy S8. In terms of software and hardware, the U11 is fully up to date and the inclusion of Edge Sense is an added novelty which is also very practical. 

The downsides of HTC U11 are ones which most of us will be able to forgive quite easily. If design features aren’t are major game changer for you, I think you’d struggle to find a smartphone with better features and functionality than the HTC U11. 

AndroidPIT HTC U 11 4633 HTC U11 en varios colores. / © AndroidPIT

HTC U11

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The most common Fitbit problems and their solutions

If you’re an amateur in connected/sports devices, you’ve probably heard about the brand Fitbit. It offers a whole range of connected bracelets, some with a screen, others without. Although people usually have a very positive experience with these devices, some problems can still occur. So how do we fix these? Read on to find out!

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Want to skip ahead to a specific problem? Click on the link below:

MyFitbit device doesn’t charge

How strange! You’ve plugged in your device to charge but nothing happens. This could be down to several things, particularly the quality of your USB cable or the USB port on your PC, so take a look at those two components first before seeking a more in depth explanation.

Depending on the model, you’ll see one or several LEDs light up. If none of them light up, your device/battery is probably damaged and you should get in contact with the manufacturer to work something out with your warranty. Although this appears to be obvious at first glance, don’t forget that your connected devices need time to charge, so don’t expect to find your device fully charged after just a half-hour of charging. If your device is completely dead, several minutes of charge are often needed before the bracelet will light up again.

AndroidPIT fitbit alta hr 3992 Connect the charging cable to the device, and voila! © AndroidPIT

My Fitbit device and smartphone aren’t synchronizing

Synchronizing your device is done through the Fitbit app using Bluetooth. As most after-sale customer services will tell you, check if everything is connected before doing anything. Likewise, check whether everything is running smoothly in terms of software: give the Fitbit app the necessary permissions and check that nothing is blocking the connection.

Once that’s done, check that everything is well set up so that the synchronization can be maintained. Without this verification step, the connection may break after a while. To avoid this, ensure that you have activated the Always Connected and All-day Sync modes in your account settings.

androidpit fitbit alta app No synchronization, no data! © AndroidPIT

The screen and/or bracelet of my Fitbit is broken

Fitbit offers several ranges of connected bracelets and, in general, they’re pretty good. It just takes a spot of bad luck to be the one to encounter a problem: you might trip or fall and break the screen, or you might be seriously unlucky and have received a defective model where the bracelet has broken after just a few days of use. In theory, you can return your device up to 45 days after purchase (for any reason) but “the returned products must be in a good physical state (not broken or damaged)”.

Opinion by Benoit Pepicq

I use my Fitbit every single day

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You can obviously take advantage of the warranty but only under certain conditions, as with all warranties, assuming responsibility for an “accident” is important. In other words, if you damage the device yourself in some way, it can’t be refunded. All Fitbit devices should be under warranty for a year. This warranty “doesn’t cover integrated software” and only applies to “the original owner of the product purchased from an authorized vendor or sales channel”. You’ll find more information on the subject on the official Fitbit page about return policy and warranty.

AndroidPIT fitbit alta hr 3983 The vast majority of Fitbit bracelets don’t encounter any issues. © AndroidPIT

My Fitbit device hurts me and/or leaves marks on my skin

Fitbit offers several types of bracelet materials: leather, metal, nylon and elastomer. While it’s a rare occurrence, some skin types can have an allergic reaction to one or several of these materials, particularly if you have dry skin. If you see that your skin is becoming irritated, take the bracelet off immediately. You can then contact Fitbit to exchange the type of bracelet.

Fitbit bracelets are waterproof but your skin can react badly to the combination of water and the bracelet material, particularly with perspiration. Fitbit provides more advice on the official Fitbit page on wear and care.

AndroidPIT fitbit alta hr 3820 Make sure you’re not allergic to the bracelet material of your Fitbit. © AndroidPIT

My Fitbit device doesn’t receive notifications from my smartphone

Some Fitbit devices receive notifications directly from a smartphone, like smartwatches. You can carry out a “Windows” solution, i.e. turning it off and on again to see if it works. But it’s better to look for the source of the problem: are your two devices actually connected? If they are, deactivate Bluetooth then reactivate it. How far apart are the devices from one another? A Bluetooth connection has a limited reach (apart from Bluetooth 5 but we we’re a little while off that yet). Are the notifications activated in the app? Check this in the configurations. 

AndroidPIT fitbit alta hr 3839 Connection made via Bluetooth. © AndroidPIT

Fitbit Alta HR

Have you encountered any problems with your Fitbit bracelet? Let us know if we’ve missed anything in the comments below.

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