Poll: Would you use your smartphone as your main computer?

The latest flagships from Samsung and Huawei make much of the fact that they can be connected to PC peripherals and used as a desktop. But who’s really excited for this?

Modern flagship phones pack some seriously powerful hardware for mobile devices, more than enough to take care of the average person’s daily computing needs such as web browsing, multimedia and word processing. So it seems only logical that our smartphones try and usurp the traditional home PC.

Opinion by Nicholas Montegriffo

Most people don’t really need a computer more powerful than a smartphone.

What do you think?

3 participants

There’s certainly something appealing about replacing the clunky box PC with something easily portable, especially if you do a lot of work on the go, or you get frustrated with having to switch between your home and mobile device. 

AndroidPIT samsung dex dock 4075 DeX brings the Samsung mobile experience to your desktop. / © AndroidPIT

The main solutions on offer come from Samsung, with its DeX dock that can connect the S8, S8+ or Note 8 to PC peripherals, and the Huawei Mate 10 Pro, which doesn’t even need a dock to serve as your desktop computer. We’ve been excited about the possibilities offered by these powerful devices, and have tested out Samsung’s DeX with both the Galaxy S8 and the Galaxy Note 8. We’ve also tried out the Huawei Mate 10 Pro as desktop.

In all cases we’ve been impressed by the possibilities, although it still feels like this kind of functionality needs more development, especially when it comes to apps. But this kind of development will follow if there’s enough user interest, so we ask you, the AndroidPIT community, what you think:

Obviously, for hardcore gamers, video editors, and other power users, even a powerful flagship smartphone as a home PC would be out of the question, but for most people it could be very convenient.

Could you see yourself using your mobile device as your main desktop too? Do you already? Tell us the reason for your answer in the comments!

Android News + App Reviews + Hardware Reviews – AndroidPIT

Samsung sees the upcycling potential of millions of its old devices

Do you have a discarded Samsung smartphone in your drawer and don’t quite know what to do with it? It’s not worth selling because no one will pay you enough for it, and it would be a shame to throw it away because it actually still works. But giving it away is not an option either because it’s no longer reliable. Samsung is now working on an answer to the problem and is developing software to keep millions of old Samsung devices in use.

“Upcycling, also known as creative reuse, is the process of transforming by-products, waste materials, useless, or unwanted products into new materials or products of better quality or for better environmental value.” (Wikipedia, 11/2/2017)

By the time two or three years pass, it begins to happen: Your smartphone gets slow, the battery no longer lasts an entire day, the software stops receiving updates, the storage is full, or the smartphone is simply toast. And when its replacement is purchased, the old device no longer gets any attention.

So, what are you supposed to do with the thing? Unlike with old PCs, you cannot simply install Linux on it and re-use it for certain tasks, abuse it as a server or make it do similar tasks that do not require a lot of computational power. Locked bootloaders or missing closed-source drivers prevent us from using our smartphones with third-party software unimpeded.

With Galaxy Upcycling, Samsung is at least creating an interface that was previously missing. It allows software developers to unlock the bootloader, remove Android from old Galaxy devices, and directly interact with the device’s hardware, e.g. the display, Wi-Fi, microphone, biometric sensor, loudspeaker, Bluetooth or cameras.

The following animation explains the basics of the concept. It also shows how Samsung wants to market the project, because the new software for the smartphones will be sold at Samsung’s online shop together with any required peripherals (you can already preview it online here).

Samsung had demonstrated the upcycling system at the Samsung Developer Conference alongside open-source repairers iFixit, which was surprising in itself. Matthew Gault of Vice Motherboard was at the scene and talked to the people behind the project. It quickly became clear to him that Samsung was sensing a win-win situation. 

These new possible uses make Samsung devices more attractive over the long term. Until now, they were practically useless—but not totally broken—after three to four years; that is no longer the case after a software upcycling as described above. Suddenly, these devices are once again useful as…

  • a Bitcoin mining cluster.
  • a hands-free kit.
  • a sensor monitor.
  • a Linux-based desktop.
  • a miniature arcade machine.

Samsung is creating new demand for the devices, thereby increasing the value of used devices. By implication, customers are more likely to shell out around $ 1,000 for new devices if they know that they will get back half of that when they finish using them.

AndroidPIT samsung dex dock 4091 Can you imagine simply being able to install Linux directly onto your Note 8 in two years? / © AndroidPIT

So far, it doesn’t look like Samsung’s upcycling program would change anything about the ecosystem’s closed nature. The manufacturer alone still has control over the available drivers and the possibilities offered by the software. Furthermore, closed-source components that we are not allowed to examine remain in the software, so a true opening is not in the cards.

Opinion by Eric Ferrari-Herrmann

Samsung is taking steps in the right direction.

What do you think?

21 participants

However, this opens a large door for creativity which was previously not possible, and many manufacturers ought to follow in these footsteps, since they are also responsible for making their devices seem useless after an excessively brief period of time, even though that’s actually not the case and the demand for their computational power is undoubtedly everywhere.

What do you do with your old devices? Do you keep them as backups, sell them, pass them on to family or use them for another purpose?

Android News + App Reviews + Hardware Reviews – AndroidPIT

Google Play Store not working? Here's what you can do

There are quite a few factors that could possibly affect the Play Store, we’ll run through the troubleshooting methods beginning with simple solutions down to the more complicated, but at any point you can follow the link to the detailed solution down below:

1. Troubleshooting guide – getting started

First of all you’ll want to make sure the problem is on your end and not a wider problem with Google. Check the Play Store status on a service like downdetector, for example. If a lot of users are reporting a similar problem, then chances are it’s on Google’s side and you’ll need to wait for them to fix it.

If you suspect the problem is on the user end, you’ll first want to restart your phone. It seems obvious, but this can be a quick solution to many issues. If your problem repeats, then it’s time to get to work.

To start off, we want to check a couple of simple things outside of Google Play that might be affecting its performance. Namely, your that your date and time settings are correct and that your Internet connection is working properly. 

2. Check Google apps

If the Play Store is frozen or glitching, force close it by swiping it away or going to Settings > Apps > All select the Google Play Store and hit “Force stop”.

Then, you’ll want to make sure that Google Play itself is up to date and clean. This involves making sure you have the latest version of Google Play installed. If you still have problems, you’ll want to do some housekeeping. This means clearing the Google Play Store cache and, if this doesn’t solve things, going further and clearing out your Play Store data.

If there’s still an issue after the Play Store has been cleaned up, we’ll have to go a little deeper, and clear data and cache on Google Play Services, as well as make sure to Install the latest version of Google Play Services. If the issue persists, the next step (make sure to record your passwords, etc.) is to reset your Google account on your device.

3. Check third party apps

The steps above should confirm whether the issue lies with the Google Play system itself, but sometimes the problem can originate from a different, related app, that can be interfering with the Play Store. First, check your disabled apps, and make sure that you enable Download Manager. You should also disable your VPN if you have one.

4. Drastic solutions

Now, we’re getting to some more technical solutions that need to be done with care, so make sure you’ve tried the above methods first. Now, if you’ve rooted your device, then we recommend to delete the file “hosts.txt” in your system directory. If this doesn’t work or if you don’t want to root your phone, then return to the Play Store and uninstall previous updates.

Finally, as a last resort, you can always perform a factory data reset on your smartphone. This will erase all your data, so make sure to back up first.

Below are all the solutions outlined in detail.

Check your date and time settings

Google checks your Android smartphone’s date and time for the Play Store. If the store does not find a time, then it could cause some issues. Google’s servers could have a tough time syncing with your device and cause your Play Store to act up.

To fix this issue, you need to go into your the Settings in your Android device. Under System you should see Date and Time. Tap on this and you will see whether your phone is on the Automatic date and time provided by your network. If it isn’t already then you should toggle it on.

If your device is on automatic and your Google Play Store is still not working then you should manually set the date and time. You first need to turn Automatic date and time off. Then start by entering the date and time with as much accuracy as possible. If this doesn’t work, don’t worry, there are still many more solutions for getting your Google Play Store up and running again.

AndroidPIT google play not working 2 Setting the date and time could help if your Google Play Store is not working. / © AndroidPIT

Check your Internet connection

It may seem too simple or easy, but checking your Internet connection could solve the problems you’re having. Try switching from Wi-Fi to mobile data, or vice versa, and see if the problem persists. You should also try switching your phone to “airplane mode” and back again. Finally, you can reset your router to make absolutely sure you have a good connection.

Install the latest version of Google Play 

It’s silly, but sometimes a Google Play update is available but won’t automatically download until days after being released. If you get the APK, you can have the newest version immediately though. Read this article to find out how.

playstore Make sure you have the latest version of Google Play Store. / © AndroidPIT

Clear the Google Play Store cache

In some cases, you can get the Play Store going again by just emptying the cache. The cache is a storage area that temporarily holds data so it can be quickly retrieved without needing to be reloaded. This could solve your problem and emptying it is easy.

First go in the Settings from your smartphone’s home screen. You should then go into your Apps or Application manager, it depends on your device. From there you should either be able to scroll down and hit Clear cache or you might have to first go into Storage then Clear cache.

Once this has been completed, go back into your Google Play Store and see if your problem has been solved. If not, you should try one of the other solutions here.

AndroidPIT google play not working 1 Try clearing the cache. / © AndroidPIT

Clear out your Play Store data 

Deleting your data from the Play Store is similar to our first tip but erases quite a bit more. It sets the app back to square one and gets rid of your saved information, hopefully including whatever glitchy data was causing the problem.

Remember, when you do this your files, settings, accounts, databases and other information will be erased. You should make sure you have the log-in information for the account as it will be taken off the Google Play Store account.

To get started, head into your Settings and find the Apps or Application manager. From there you should be able to scroll down to Clear data or go into Storage first then Clear data.

AndroidPIT google play not working 4 Clearing your cache and/or data could fix the problem you’ve been having. / © AndroidPIT

Clear data and cache on Google Play Services

It is possible that Play Store problems could stem from issues with Google Play Services. If Google Play Store is the heart of your Android device, then Google Play Services is its soul. Play Services is the mysterious background process that allows apps to communicate with different parts of your device, enabling them to sync, send push notifications and so on.

If clearing the cache and data in your Google Play Store didn’t work then you may need to go into your Google Play Services and clear the data and cache there. Doing this is easy.

You need to go into your Settings and hit Application manager or Apps. From there, find the Google Play Services app (the puzzle piece). Depending on your device, you should be able to tap the Clear cache button or you might need to go into Storage first then hit Clear cache. If that fails to solve the problem, come back to this page and hit Manage space or Manage storage then tap Clear all data.

AndroidPIT google play not working 3 Clearing the data and cache in Google Play Services can fix your Play Store problems. / © AndroidPIT

Install the latest version of Google Play Services

Another thing that may help is to download and install the latest version of Google Play Services and the Google Play Store. The most current version of the software is likely to be the most stable, so it’s useful to keep it updated.

Firstly, you need to make sure your Google Play Store is up-to-date. Go into the Google Play Store app and hit the menu button (three lines in the top left hand corner of your screen). From there tap Settings and under General you should be able to see when your Google Play app updates. Tap Auto-update apps and ensure that Auto-update apps over Wi-Fi is checked. Now, make sure you’re connected to Wi-Fi.

Getting the latest version of Google Play Services is much more difficult and too long to mention here. Read our tutorial here for a detailed explanation on how to get the latest version

AndroidPIT google play not working 5 Is your Google Play Services app up-to-date? / © AndroidPIT

Reset your Google account on your device

We’re now coming to the slightly more drastic solutions. If your Play Store app still isn’t working, then you may need to refresh your Google account on your Android device. This will mean your Google account on your entire phone will be reset and not just in the Google Play Store. Make sure you know the account(s) before you start this. You could lose the entire account if you’re not careful.

So to do this, remove your account then add it again. It’s pretty simple to do. Go to your Settings and tap Accounts. Now you need to tap the Google account you want to remove, then tap the menu icon (three dots at the top right) and tap Remove account. Do this for every Google account on your device.

Now you need to re-enter your Google account. Go back into your Settings and tap on Account again. The only thing you should see is Add Account. If you see an account then you forgot to remove one. Tap Add Account and follow the on-screen steps to re-add your account.

AndroidPIT google play not working 1 Removing your Google account then re-adding it could help. / © AndroidPIT

Check your disabled apps

Many apps need other apps in order to function properly. This is especially true when you’re dealing with system apps such as the Google Play Store. If you recently disabled an app that could be your problem. Luckily, this is easy to fix.

Go into your Settings and Application manager or Apps and scroll to the bottom. This is where disabled apps end up. If you see any disabled services, just go into these and hit Enable and see if that helps.

AndroidPIT google play not working 6 Enable your disabled apps. / © AndroidPIT

Disable your VPN

Having a VPN is a great way to get all your favorite media outside your geographic location. You can even use a VPN to install an app in the Play Store of another country. But your VPN could be causing you problems with your Google Play Store in the region you’re currently in.

If you have a VPN enabled on your Android device you should disable it. Go into your Settings and tap More or More networks depending on your device. Hit VPN and toggle it off. 

AndroidPIT google play not working 9 Disable your VPN and that might help. / © AndroidPIT

Enable Download Manager

There is a chance that the Play Store will stop working if your download manager is disabled. If this is the case, the solution is simple.

Go into your Settings and tap either Apps or Application manager (depending on your device). You should either see all of your apps or you might have to choose All. From there find Downloads or Download manager and hit this.

You should be able to see if Download manager is disabled. If it is then you’ll see a button marked Enable. Simply tap this button to switch Download manager back on. If all you see are buttons for Force Stop and Disable (possibly grayed-out, as seen below), then Download manager is not disabled and you can rule this possibility out.

AndroidPIT google play not working 7 Disabling the Android Download Manager wreaks havoc on your system. / © AndroidPIT

Delete the file “hosts.txt” (requires root)

For advanced users who have already rooted their device, open your root-privileged file explorer of choice. Then go to your root/system directory and search for “hosts.txt” and delete the file. Note: do not touch any of the other system files!

Uninstall previous updates to Google Play

Generally, when you have a problem with an app you can just uninstall it and then reinstall it. Well, that works for some apps, but the Google Play Store is a system app on your Android device. What you can do instead is uninstall previous updates to the app and this might help your problem.

You first need to head into your Settings, tap either Apps or Application manager, and you should either see all of your apps or you might have to choose All. From there find the Google Play Store and tap Uninstall updates.

If your Google Play Store is still not working then you need to go back and reinstall the updates. From there, head down to our last solution.

Opinion by Cory Schmidt

Google Play Store errors are easy to fix

What do you think?

1676 participants

Perform a factory data reset on your smartphone

If you’re still facing problems after having tried all of the above, then you may have little choice but to do a factory reset. This is a drastic measure and there are consequences. All of your data will be lost. So you should perform a complete backup beforehand.

Once your data is backed it’s time to do a reset. Go to your Settings and tap Backup & reset. Now, make sure the Back up my data slider is on. Tap Back up account to select which account you want your data backed up to. Ensure you have access to this account.

Once you’ve done this, go to the Backup & reset menu and tap the Factory data reset button at the bottom. Confirm that you want to do this, and your phone will be as it was when you bought it. Your data will be restored when you log back into your Google account.

AndroidPIT google play not working 8 Make sure you back everything up before performing a factory reset. / © AndroidPIT

Did these solutions work for you? Do you have any other advice to get the Google Play Store working again? Let us know in the comments.

Android News + App Reviews + Hardware Reviews – AndroidPIT

Is Huawei the new Samsung?

You’ve definitely heard of Huawei, the famous Chinese brand founded in 1987 with a focus on network and telecommunication solutions. Inspired by Apple and other industry giants, it has conquered the market thanks to its ability to manufacture competitively priced smartphones. So, it’s no surprise that consumers now walk into stores asking for them by name without any hesitation.

How many people do you know with a Huawei smartphone in their pocket? And how many times have you heard someone say “I need a new phone, and I’m going for a Huawei!” It’s a widespread phenomenon. Many of my friends and family have opted for one already. Why? There are several reasons.

Opinion by Jessica Murgia

More and more people I know are choosing to buy Huawei smartphones

What do you think?

40 participants

In recent years, Huawei has shown what it’s capable of: making quality devices that can meet user needs without an excessively large price tag. That’s with the exception of the Mate 10 Pro Porsche Design, which has a price that reflects the excess which the Porsche brand is known for.

Huawei seems to have taken the features and most interesting ideas from its competitors and then integrated them into its devices at more competitive prices.

Little by little, Huawei has made its way into the pockets of users by taking advantage of its telecom experience. The first Huawei phones to hit the market looked like iPhone clones. The similarities didn’t stop with the design, but extended to the software’s user interface as well, however immature by comparison. Since these aspects of the Cupertino firm’s devices were pleasing to users, why not use them? But it wasn’t just Apple that Huawei looked to for inspiration. The aluminum body of the Mate S, for example, was reminiscent of an HTC. 

AndroidPIT huawei p9 vs p10 9533 The Huawei P9 has become popular thanks to its dual Leica camera. © AndroidPIT

Huawei seems to have taken the features and most interesting ideas from its competitors and then integrated them into its devices at more competitive prices. Fears of it being just another unreliable Chinese brand have subsided over time. Meanwhile, the software has matured, its own Kirin processors have proven themselves, customer service capacity has risen to quell user fears and the first physical stores have opened their doors.

Huawei looks around at what’s happening, seeks to understand its users and competitors, and looks to the future with a focus on innovation.

The brand then sought to get a step ahead of its competitors, for example with the P9, the first smartphone to offer a dual rear camera, a feature which is almost boring today. To give their offerings even more appeal, Huawei has decided to collaborate with experts like Leica for lenses, Porsche for the Mate Design range, Harman / Kardon for the four Mediapad M3 speakers, and Amazon’s Alexa for the US version of the Mate 9. This intelligent strategy has helped to make up for Huawei’s weaknesses and meet the needs of users thanks to the help of some well-loved brands.

Opinion by Jessica Murgia

Collaboration with other brands is essential to offering the best for users

What do you think?

32 participants

And then there is marketing. In the streets you can see Huawei posters everywhere. On television and in magazines, Huawei brings in famous faces as ambassadors, like Lionel Messi from the sports world and the actress Scarlett Johansson. A bit like Apple, Huawei seems to be everywhere now.

AndroidPIT Porsche Design Huawei Mate 9 4754 With the Kirin 970, Huawei brings artificial intelligence to the Mate 10 Pro. © AndroidPIT

The Chinese brand is diversifying its products and services, and offering not only smartphones and tablets, but also smartwatches, connected wristbands, cloud and IoT products in its collaboration with the University of Toronto, artificial intelligence, 5G and so on. Part of its profits are invested in research and innovation, which are carried out in various dedicated centers in different countries around the world.

Huawei looks around at what’s happening, seeks to understand its users and competitors, and looks toward the future with a focus on innovation. It has made a name for itself in the market and this translates into customers marching into stores and asking for a Huawei smartphone confidently, without even considering the different models’ or product lines’ differences, much as is the case with strong brands like Samsung. In addition to flagships, the P Lite range has helped a lot, just like Galaxy J and A lines from its South Korean competitor.

Opinion by Jessica Murgia

If Huawei can conquer the US market, it could become the top smartphone brand in the world.

What do you think?

34 participants

Today, everyone knows Huawei. The brand has to stay on course, offering quality devices without increasing prices, and integrating the best technologies by anticipating trends and leading the market in the coming years. If it does this, Huawei could soon be the top smartphone brand in the world.

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HTC U11+ hands-on: a welcome addition

HTC has just presented the exciting HTC U11+ alongside the U11 Life. Will HTC’s 6-inch,18:9 format phablet be just a niche choice among the top smartphones of 2017, or will it outshine the rest in its category? Find out in our hands-on review.

HTC U11+ release date and price

Is it coming or not? The rumor mill had been chattering about the possibility of a Plus version of the HTC U11 for some time, then the reliable leaker Evan Blass threw everyone off a bit with this Tweet:

Well, we all make mistakes sometimes. The HTC U11+ arrived after all on November 2, alongside the Android One equipped HTC U11 Life. The HTC U11+ will be released starting later this month in Ceramic Black, and in a Translucent Black in the first quarter of next year. With the latter variant, you can actually see the inner workings of the phone, which is a clever touch.

Our American readers will be sad to hear that, according to The Verge, HTC has no plans to bring the HTC U11+ to the US, though it will be available in Europe, Asia and other markets globally. The HTC U11+ with 6 GB of RAM alone will be available for purchase on November 20 in the UK for £699, which is around $ 925. In Europe, the price will be equivalent at €799.

HTC U11+ design and build quality

With regard to the design, there are hardly any changes compared to the U11 at first sight, apart from the front-filling display and the fingerprint sensor being placed on the back.

AndroidPIT HTC U11 Plus 1855 The fingerprint scanner migrated to the back. / © AndroidPIT

Only once you pick it up can you notice that the aluminum frame of the U11+ is wider and more robust. It is also noticeable that the frame is less rounded and appears more flat. This adds to the ergonomics of the 188 gram smartphone.

AndroidPIT HTC U11 Plus 1845 Typical of HTC, there’s a textured power button. / © AndroidPIT

The design of the HTC U11+ seems more elegant and coherent than its predecessor, thanks in part to the more restrained coloring and the new 2:1 proportion. In addition, the smartphone offers better protection against dust and water, moving up from IP67 to IP68 certification. That means an improvement from a maximum of 30 minutes and 1 meter resistance to fresh water to protection against indefinite immersion in at least 1.5 meters of water.

AndroidPIT HTC U11 Plus 1843 Headphones have to be plugged into a USB Type-C port. / © AndroidPIT

HTC U11+ display

In 2017, 18:9 display formats have been all the rage among manufacturers like Samsung, LG, Google and Huawei. Now, HTC has jumped on the bandwagon a bit late to the party with the HTC U11+, though it retains some of HTC’s peculiarities, like Super LCD technology in the display. The 6-inch screen has a 1,440 x 2,880 resolution and covers the DCI-P3 color space. In addition, it should be HDR10 compatible, but this may only come post-launch with a software update since HTC has yet to negotiate with content providers like Netflix and Amazon.

AndroidPIT HTC U11 Plus vs Google Pixel2 XL 1907 Google Pixel 2 XL (left) und HTC U11+ (right) / © AndroidPIT

HTC U11+ special features

Like the HTC U11, Pixel 2 and Pixel XL 2, the U11 + also has a squeezable sides. HTC calls this Edge Sense, while Google calls this feature Active Edge. HTC has further refined the software for the U11+ so that it can now be configured in many ways. Not only can various apps and voice assistants can be launched with a squeeze, but even functions in an app can be controlled that way. For example, the camera can be launched from directly inside the Facebook app by squeezing so that the photo taken can be edited directly inside the Facebook app and posted immediately.

AndroidPIT HTC U11 Plus interface 2021 Still in the beta phase for now, but it’s possible that it could be ready for the December launch. / © AndroidPIT

For HTC U11 users, this feature will arrive later via an update.

HTC U11+ software

While the technical updates are minor, HTC has tweaked and optimized the software for the U11+. The most obvious change is that HTC Sense is now based on the new version of Android, Android 8.0 Oreo. Once again, you’ll find three assistants on board Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa and HTC Companion.

A new software feature was added, a dial-shaped one-handed control menu. It features two levels of app shortcuts to keep you from having to swipe around the app drawer and homescreens to open your frequently used apps. 

AndroidPIT HTC U11 Plus interface 1999 Practical, one-handed control. / © AndroidPIT

Above the dial, there’s space for a monthly calendar. Sadly, the calendar can’t be replaced by another widget, but that could come in future updates. As a reminder, in the beginning, you could use Edge Sense to trigger the assistant.

Another handy gimmick is the two-sided navigation bar, which can be arranged as you please. Screenshot and screen recording functions can be put there, as an example.

AndroidPIT HTC U11 Plus interface 2005 The two-sided navigation bar in action. / © AndroidPIT

HTC U11+ performance

The HTC U11+ has inherited its technical specs from its predecessor. The processor is the Snapdragon 835 from Qualcomm, and depending on the market, memory configurations include 6 GB of RAM with 128 GB of UFS 2.1 storage and 4 GB of RAM with 64 GB of storage, expandable by up to 2 TB via MicroSD.

AndroidPIT HTC U11 LG V30 Galaxy Note8 Pixel2 plus Huawei Mate10 pro 1977 In terms of performance, we expect the HTC U11 to be able to keep up with the competition. / © AndroidPIT

Since the devices that were available for this hands-on were pre-production models, we were unable to do any meaningful benchmarking. But, we expect performance to be on par with the HTC U11 since the specs are the same with the exception of different amounts of storage and RAM available.

HTC U11+ audio

Of course, the U11 with Plus can do what the HTC U11 can do without Plus. Here, HTC passes along Boom Sound, USonic headphones and four microphones for both Active Noise Cancelling and 3D audio recording. In our final review, we’ll find out if any aspect of the experience has changed, testing it with or without headphones, during calls and during entertainment use.

HTC U11+ camera

For the camera, HTC sticks to the tried and true. The U11+ has a 12.2 MP main camera with an aperture of f / 1.7 and a focal length of 28mm (small picture equivalent). When it comes to stabilization, HTC once again relies on the duo of optical and electronic image stabilization. The front camera has an 8 MP sensor with a f / 2.0 aperture with a focal length of 28mm (also small picture equivalent). We already saw what this combination was capable of in our review of its predecessor.

AndroidPIT HTC U11 Plus interface 2037 Can the camera of the HTC U11+ keep up with the competitors? / © AndroidPIT

We will find out in an upcoming comparison if the camera software will be able to keep up with newer competitors like the Galaxy Note 8, Google Pixel 2 (XL) and the Huawei Mate 10 Pro, so stay tuned.

HTC U11+ battery

The HTC U11+ is packing a 3,930 mAh battery. With that kind of capacity, the phablet is hot on the heels of the Huawei Mate 10 Pro with its round 4,000 mAh. HTC relies on both Qualcomm’s Quick Charge 3.0 and USB Power Delivery for fast charging. Check out our article on the differences between these fast charging technologies in this article.

In our final review, we’ll see how long the phablet can hold out on 3,930 mAh, how it stacks up to the competition and which fast charging technology works quickest with it.

HTC U11+ technical specifications

Dimensions: 158.5 x 74.9 x 8.5 mm
Weight: 188 g
Battery size: 3930 mAh
Screen size: 6 in
Display technology: LCD
Screen: 2880 x 1440 pixels (537 ppi)
Front camera: 8 megapixels
Rear camera: 12.2 megapixels
Flashlight: Dual-LED
Android version: 8.0 – Oreo
User interface: HTC Sense
RAM: 6 GB
Internal storage: 128 GB
Removable storage: microSD
Chipset: Qualcomm Snapdragon 835
Number of cores: 8
Max. clock speed: 2.45 GHz
Connectivity:
HSPA, LTE, NFC, Dual-SIM , Bluetooth 5.0

Early Verdict

Despite testing a pre-production model, the HTC U11+ showed the potential of becoming one of the top smartphones of the year. It’s a high quality, powerful device. The new “App Dial” is a practical addition which puts app shortcuts within thumb’s reach for one-handed convenience.

It’s still too early to give a final verdict, of course. When we tested the HTC U11+, it still didn’t have the final software, and even after the launch in a few weeks there could still be some changes here and there. Overall, it’s a very promising phablet with a 6-inch display and it can be considered an insider’s pick among the top smartphones of 2017, just like its predecessor, the HTC U11.

HTC U11+

To device database

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Razer phone hands-on review: by gamers, for gamers

The gaming specialists break new ground today with the introduction of an Android smartphone specially designed for gamers. Simply named the Razer Phone, the new device is meant to appeal to users who want to enjoy games, videos and music of the highest quality.

Release date and price

The Razer Phone will be available for pre-order in selected countries from November 3rd in the Razer Online Store. During the hands-on session, Tom Moss and Eric Lin from Razer informed me that the start of sales and the first day of delivery would be November 14th. The Razer Phone will only be available in the online shop of Razer and, in certain countries, from the network operator “3”.

For the time being, Razer’s first smartphone is aimed at 10 selected countries in the North American and European markets.

Although nowadays it’s not unusual to see a premium smartphone debut with a price around $ 1,000, Razer’s first offering is slated to be somewhat less expensive. We expect a US price tag in the range of just over $ 700,  which would be quite acceptable considering the hardware we examine further down and in line with the price in Europe (€749.99) and the UK (£699.99). The Razer Phone bucks the trend by not coming in various confusing combinations of memory, color, and available sizes, including different display resolutions. If you want a Razer phone, you get THE Razer Phone with Qualcomm’s latest and fastest processor, 8 GB RAM and the 5.7-inch Sharp IGOZ display, which offers a maximum refresh rate of 120 Hz. Razer squeezes all this into a casing that reminds me of a pumped up Nextbit Robin. 

Design and build quality

Some may call it old-fashioned, others would say that the Razer Phone’s design takes a backseat to other priorities, catering to the needs of its target group. The Razer Phone’s specifications are focused on maximum performance, a display with the highest refresh rate, a large battery for long running times and loud and good audio reproduction, rather than a front-filling display with rounded display corners.

AndroidPIT razer phone 0296  The angular Razer Phone. / © AndroidPIT

From a distance, you might even think that the Razer phone is a Sony Mobile 2017 version 2.0, because the smartphone adopts and even expands the Sony Xperia smartphone’s angular design, which is an unsung feature of the Sony Xperia range. Like the Sony Xperia XZ Premium, which I recently described in an in-depth review, the Razer Phone can stand upright. Even better than the Xperia XZ Premium, the Razer Phone can also be set up in landscape mode without an additional case and stand. It’s clear that a light push or even an air blast is enough to break the balance of the Razer Phone, but I personally liked the solid and angular design of the Xperia XZ Premium. If you don’t like the angular design, you will most likely not like the look of the Razer Phone. But you can’t please everybody, and inevitably some commentators will argue over the Razer Phone’s “old school” design. 

AndroidPIT razer phone 0308 The design is very similar to the old Nextbit Robin. / © AndroidPIT

The quality of the Razer phone’s workmanship is undisputed. The aluminium housing is very robust and our test device was not creaking or groaning in any way during the hands-on operation when pressed at critical points.

Display

Gamers have very sensitive eyes. If the display does not react within a fraction of a millisecond, or if it does not show frame rates above 100 Hertz, the gamer will complain about jerky images. Razer knows their fanbase and takes no risks with their first smartphone. The Razer Phone integrates a display from the Sharp IGOZ series, the same screen technology is already used in Razer’s notebooks, which features a maximum refresh rate of 120 Hertz.

AndroidPIT razer phone 0315 Thanks to the high refresh rate, games should be very fluid. / © AndroidPIT

Razer showed me what the display and the rest of the equipment is capable of delivering during the hands-on session with the Twitter app and a frame counter integrated on the demo device. Fast scrolling was quickly and smoothly displayed. However, we still have to wait for our review sample and see if the performance can be reproduced in long term use.

AndroidPIT razer phone 0311 The IGOZ display in the Razer Phone can be tailored to your needs. / © AndroidPIT

At the PC, high frame rates are quite understandable, because in combination with input devices such as a mouse, gamepad or keyboard, a fast display with a high frame rate is important for accurate and responsive playing. Most of the time, however, only hardcore gamers from a professional eSport clan notice this. The normal user will hardly notice any difference in a match of Hearthstone, Pokemon Go, etc. In theory, at least. We need to find out more once we have received our final test device and test the Razer Phone with different kinds of game.

Software

When it comes to software, the Razer Phone relies on Google’s Android operating system, which is not surprising, since the heads behind the cloud phone have also switched to Razer with the acquisition of Nextbit by the gaming specialist. Tom Moss and Mike Chan are former Google employees and so are naturally very familiar with the Android mobile operating system.

The Razer Phone will welcome you with Android 7.1.1.1 when delivered. In my conversation with Tom Moss and Eric Lin, I was promised an update to Android 8. x Oreo for the first quarter of 2018.

AndroidPIT razer phone 0300 The Nova Launcher has been trimmed and refined by Razer again. / © AndroidPIT

The Razer Phone used during our hands-on doesn’t have the final version of the software, because Game Boost was implemented but not finished. Also the framecounter activated for demo purposes will most likely not make it into the final version of the Razer Phone. But Tom assured me during the hands-on session that the Razer Phone will be offered with a special version of the Nova Launcher. “Super Nova” as he likes to call it, is integrated with Google Assistant and can be adapted later with special themes. Of course, most themes will most likely be created with games publishers. From what I know of Razer’s history, I feel it’s safe to say that the possibility to customize the UI to your own preferences will certainly be a feature on the smartphone. 

In order to get an added value from the high refresh rate, Razer works together with games publishers. Numerous partners, who will be eager to free their apps and games from the framelock, have already been announced at the launch event today. More will follow. 

Performance

The Razer phone’s hardware features mentioned above are indeed impressive on paper, but in comparison to the competition they are mostly identical. As with PC gaming, Razer can only use the hardware offered by chip manufacturers such as Qualcomm and co. Inside the Razer Phones is the fastest Qualcomm processor currently available on the market. The Snapdragon 835 still has 8 GB of RAM and 64 GB of internal memory in the form of UFS chips. The memory can be extended by up to 2 TB via MicroSD cards.

AndroidPIT razer phone 0326 Razer stands for performance in gaming, which should also apply to the Razer Phone. / © AndroidPIT

The features alone, which are comparable to those of the maximum configuration of the OnePlus 5, should be enough to be able to play along with the current smartphones in terms of performance. But Razer doesn’t want to just play along. The ambitions are higher for the gaming specialist and its fans. You want to get the maximum possible performance out of the hardware, so that the demanding gamer gets a maximum of frames at maximum detail level. Razer uses software tweaks that are already known from Samsung’s Galaxy S and Note series and the LG V30. This refers to additional software functions that adjust the clock rate of the processor and the resolution of the display, depending on the app requirements. Razer dubs this set of functions “game booster” and here the user can define whether the four performance cores of the Snapdragon 835 SoC should perform their service at full or lower clock rate.  

According to Tom Moss, Razer was able to use the technical know-how accumulated over many years in heat dissipation for the Razer Phone. A heat pipe and two-layer heatspreader ensure that the smartphone does not overheat in continuous use and under full load. Whether the Razer solution really pays off in continuous operation as one would expect is something we have to find out in our upcoming review.

Audio

The Razer Phone doesn’t just want to be understood as a pure gaming smartphone. It is intended to provide the player or even normal smartphone users with good media playback capabilities. The two forward-facing speakers blast music, game audio and video soundtracks directly towards the user. The output directly on the smartphone is Dolby Atmos certified. The certificates are good, but I was still pleasantly surprised by the volume of both speakers during the hands-on.

AndroidPIT razer phone 0303 The front speakers are certified by Dolby Atmos. / © AndroidPIT

Bad news for fans of the good old headphone jack, because the Razer phone doesn’t have a 3.5mm jack on the phone itself. To connect analog headphones, there is a USB type C dongle, which has a THX-certified DAC inside.

AndroidPIT razer phone 0319 In the USB dongle, Razer installs a THX-certified DAC. / © AndroidPIT

If you don’t want to listen directly to the speakers and you don’t want to use cable headphones, then there might be a third option with the Razer Phone—Bluetooth 4.2 with aptx support. The Razer Phone we tried did not come with aptxHD and Bluetooth 5.0. However, since other smartphones with similar hardware configurations can offer Bluetooth 5.0 and aptxHD, it is quite likely that the manufacturer will still be able to provide these features via software update. Unfortunately, Razer couldn’t tell us whether this is feasible during the hands-on. 
 

Camera

Of course, you also have to be able to create photos or videos with the Razer Phone. In the main camera, Razer is following the trend towards a dual camera solution a la Apple, Samsung and co. In plain language, that means a wide-angle and a telephoto lens are available. Both image sensors offer a maximum resolution of 12 megapixels and are supposed to match that of the Galaxy S7. The wide angle lens is the full beam lens with an aperture of f/1.75 and the telephoto lens with an aperture of f/2.6.

AndroidPIT razer phone 0323 We will find out in a final test whether the cameras can match the Galaxy S7. / © AndroidPIT

For selfies, the Razer Phone has a camera with a maximum resolution of 8 megapixels and an aperture of f/2.0 above the display, unfortunately without autofocus. In our final test, the quality of the cameras from the Razer Phone will be examined in depth.

Battery

Another critical element of smartphone hardware is the battery. Razer has installed a 4,000 mAh battery in the smartphone. Purely from the battery capacity, the Razer Phone ranks at the level of a Huawei Mate 10 Pro. Whether it can beat Huawei’s famously long runtime could not be verified in the short hands-on time. But as soon as we have received the Razer Phone in its final version, we will of course start comparing battery life.

AndroidPIT razer phone 0327 A short message from the co-founder of Razer is included with the Razer Phone as well as a Quick Charge 4+ charger. / © AndroidPIT

Even though Razer apparently did not want to pay the license fees for Bluetooth 5.0 in the audio sector, they were more generous when it came to the fastest QuickCharge standard. Instead of “only” using QuickCharge 3.0 like 99 percent of the smartphone competition, the battery of the Razer Phone can be charged with QuickCharge 4+. Qualcomm created the new charging technology just a few months ago as an update to QuickCharge 4.0, and until now only ZTE wanted to use Qualcomm’s latest high-speed charging technology for the Nubia Z17.

As an advantage over QC4, Qualcomm states that the devices become less warm during charging, the loading speed is up to 15 percent faster and the overall efficiency is 30 percent better than with Quick Charge 4. It’s also worth noting that Razer has included a corresponding power supply unit with the delivery.

Early Verdict

The gaming specialist has recognized that the brand’s demanding fanbase don’t just need headsets, keyboards, mice and other peripherals, but that they are also playing more and more mobile games. Hence the need for a smartphone with the snake logo. The Razer Phone is well tuned to the needs of the gamer community: a large display with high resolution and 120 Hertz refresh rate, stereo speakers with plenty of power and virtual 3D sound with Dolby Atmos certification. Under the hood you get top-of-the-range hardware, which can’t be pushed to the limit by gaming apps. 

One possible weak spot might be the camera, because the IMX260 sensor that we are familiar with from the Galaxy S7 might not be able to meet the highest demands. When it comes to snapping selfies and photos of the clan at LAN parties, the Razer gaming fan might be disappointed. 

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Best Bluetooth speakers of 2017

Bluetooth speakers are the perfect accessory for any event – they’re portable, they’re wireless, they connect to your phone, and they can produce some sweet, sweet sounds. Whether it’s for home, in the park or at the beach, we’ve found the perfect speaker for you. Here are our picks for the best Bluetooth speakers of 2017.

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Best value Bluetooth speaker: Anker SoundCore 

We’ve heard plenty of Bluetooth speakers over the years, but the brand new Anker SoundCore is a revolution. Not only does it sound incredibly good but, at just $ 39.99, it’s unbelievably affordable too.

The Anker SoundCore offers rich bass for its size and perfect mid-tones. While it can’t reach the same volume as some of the other speakers on this list, for morning music, watching movies or casual listening, the SoundCore is a great option.

AndroidPIT Speakers 1 3 The Anker SoundCore delivers surprisingly good sound quality for its low price. / © ANDROIDPIT

With outstanding battery life (up to 24 hours of play time), this little speaker can keep you grooving all day long. Unfortunately, it lacks NFC pairing, but Bluetooth 4.0 ensures a smooth connection and low energy consumption and, thanks to its built-in mic, it can also be used for hands-free calls.

AndroidPIT Speakers 5 The LG Music Flow P5 can be paired with another speaker for stereo surround sound. / © ANDROIDPIT

Best weatherproof Bluetooth speaker: TDK Life on Record A34

The rugged design of this Bluetooth speaker makes it stand up to some tough weather conditions. Come rain or shine, this speaker will continue to deliver a great sound quality. It’s IP64 certified, meaning it’s resistant to water splashes and dust; imagine being able to take your Bluetooth speaker to the beach or park and not having to worry about it being damaged by the elements.

You can take it anywhere thanks to its rechargeable battery and it can produce up to eight hours of playback on a single charge.

Opinion by Scott Adam Gordon

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tdk life record a34 This weatherproof Bluetooth speaker delivers. / © TDK

Best Bluetooth multi-speaker offering: LG Music Flow P5

Considering the $ 99.99 price of the LG Music Flow P5, there’s not a lot to report. There’s no NFC pairing, line-in cable or speaker phone. The music quality of the P5 doesn’t live up to that of the Anker or Bose speakers on this list either. So what’s so good about it?

The secret power of the Music Flow P5 is its ability to connect multiple speakers. The LG software used by the Music Flow P5 allows you to pair two speakers, and either have them emit the same sound (which is great for filling an entire room with music) or function as a stereo pair.

If you like the idea of having a couple of quality Bluetooth speakers around the house, with the option to combine them into a more versatile and powerful system when required, then the LG Music Flow P5 is for you.

AndroidPIT Speakers 7 The MusicFlow P5 software lets you connect multiple speakers. / © ANDROIDPIT

Best Bluetooth speaker for sound quality: Bose SoundLink Mini II

It probably comes as no surprise that Bose knows how to put together a pretty swanky Bluetooth speaker. The SoundLink Mini II is easily the best sounding Bluetooth speaker on this list, but it comes at a price: $ 199.99 to be exact.

That price will be an investment in your musical education, though, because you’ll discover just how good a Bluetooth speaker can sound. You won’t get the same day-long battery life as some speakers on this list (playback time is just 10 hours) but you will get speaker phone support and a nifty charging cradle. That makes this one of the best Bluetooth speakers for phones.

Sadly, there’s no NFC pairing, but there are voice prompts to guide you through the not-exactly-rocket-science pairing process. There’s also a bunch of optional covers to give it a little more style but really, the reason you’d buy this speaker is because you want the best and you can afford it.

soundlinkminispeaker1 The SoundLink Mini II is a lovely little thing that sounds exceptional. / © Bose

Best Bluetooth speaker for bass-lovers: Anker A7909

The excitingly-named Anker A7909 is the big brother to the SoundCore. It has the same all-day battery life (which promises enough juice to play 500 tracks back-to-back) as the SoundCore, but more bass and a heavier, beefier sound.

The Anker A7909 costs a little more – $ 56.99 – than its little sibling, but it offers even better sound. You’ll also get NFC pairing, two 5-watt drivers, a line-in jack on the rear, a male-male cable and a micro USB charging cable along with a nifty travel pouch.

The best things about the Anker A7909 are its seriously high volume and solid bass, which comes via a dedicated bass port. The bass is really rich and the mid-range is crystal clear but, as with the SoundCore, the high end lacks a little. It all depends on the style of music you’re into, of course, but for bass-heavy beats the Anker A7909 is great.

AndroidPIT Speakers 4 The Anker A7909 is the best Bluetooth speaker for bass lovers. / © ANDROIDPIT

Best all-round Bluetooth speaker: UE Boom 2

Logitech speakers have been a mainstay of my desk life since back when the internet was only used by the military. The UE Boom 2 by Logitech is a 360-degree Bluetooth speaker that has been built with optimum portability and resilience in mind. The UE Boom 2 hits 90 decibels, making it great for outdoor activities where lower volume speakers can get lost.

Unlike some of the other speakers on this list, the UE Boom 2 is IP67-rated waterproof and shockproof and is pretty indestructible. There’s also a clip so you can hook up a carabiner and hang the UE Boom from your bike or backpack. 

It’s not all form and no function though: the UE Boom also works as a speaker phone, has a line-in port for cabled connections, promises a 15-hour battery life and you can pair two UE Booms in stereo, as with the Music Flow P5, by using the companion app. This is another great Bluetooth speaker for phone use.

ueboom speaker1 The UE Boom 2 by Logitech is perfect for outdoor enthusiasts. / © Logitech

Do you have a Bluetooth speaker? What is your favorite? Let us know in the comments.

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Get better selfies with these top apps

Humans are a narcissistic bunch, which explains the numerous historical monuments of people that have been erected in the past. Modern day self-worship is best expressed through selfies, the snapping of one’s own self using the front-facing camera on a smartphone. Here is a list of the best selfie apps we’ve found. Give these a shot!

Snapping a selfie can be considered to be an art form. Although anyone can do it, not everyone is able to get the dynamics right. A self-proclaimed “selfie phone” like the Oppo F1S might help you take better selfies, but if you want something more than what the stock camera app is able to deliver, there are numerous dedicated selfie apps out there. Which are the ones that yield the best results?

YouCam Perfect

Why did we pick YouCam Perfect as the best selfie app for Android smartphones? It not only does a great job working with handsets running on Android 4.0 or newer, it is also equipped with a slew of selfie editing tools. These tools are all you need to touch up that recently snapped selfie that makes it Instagram or Pinterest worthy. You will be able to beautify yourself, reshape your face without having to go under the knife, remove certain objects (like photobombers) and stylize your overall look. YouCam Perfect is available as a free download on the Google Play Store.

Candy Camera

Candy Camera is perfect for those who love to tinker around, since you are able to apply special effects and see the immediate changes in real time. With more than a hundred filters to choose from, you will definitely be have plenty of choices, although after playing with it for a while, we realized that there are only a handful of filters that see action, while the rest are there “just in case”. To remain on par with other selfie apps, Candy Camera also comes with its own suite of editing features. While it is free to download, there are in-app purchases, but we found that it works great without them. Those with older Android smartphones will find Candy Camera handy since it works as far back as Android 2.3.3. 

Anker Selfie Stick The selfie stick has become extremely commonplace today. / © Anker

Selfie Camera for Facebook

The Selfie Camera for Facebook app has its fair share of fans, especially those who live and breathe Facebook. While your selfies might already look good courtesy of your genes, it is always nice to get some outside help with the app’s list of available frames and effects. Not only that, the instantaneous nature of this app allows you to share your specially curated selfies in an instant across a wide range of social networks. Expect features like filters, a selfie timer to snag the perfect angle, beautification ability and tilt shift effects be frequently accessed. The ability to include quotes makes it stand out from other selfie apps. While free to download, there are in-app purchases available to further enhance your experience.

BestMe Selfie Camera

Now here is a great way to look like a superstar, since this is a specially designed camera and editor just for selfies. With 125 real-time filters to choose from, you will never have another social media post that looks like you just got out of bed. There are also emoji and tag stickers to play around with, while Instagram users will benefit from its Blur Effect. Built-in support for selfie sticks makes it appealing as well, and BestMe Selfie Camera is riding on the new trend of emoji photos.

Selfie Studio

How can you not love an app that calls itself Selfie Studio? It describes itself perfectly, although the main drawback would be its inability to use any other camera apart from the front-facing one. This is a minor flaw though, since many of the newer smartphones do come with front-facing cameras that are no pushovers. For those who love all things psychedelic, Selfie Studio is able to liven up selfies with colors of your choice. There are additional features to make the photo taking experience more versatile and seamless such as silent shot, volume key shutter and auto reverse.

So, which of the above have you tried, and what did you think? Do you have a favorite selfie app that you would like to share with us?

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The Nokia 2 is official and boasts a 2-day battery life

After releasing the top-of-the-range Nokia 8, and waiting to launch the rumored Nokia 9, HMD Global has announced a new entry-level smartphone for less demanding users. Called the Nokia 2, the new model’s main selling points are its affordability, as well as a long battery life.

Nokia 2 design 

The cheapest of Nokia smartphones doesn’t neglect its design. The images of the Nokia 2 show a classic but elegant looking smartphone with simple lines and no buttons on the front. As you might expect, the body is made of plastic and comes in three colors: black, copper or white. 

Nokia 2 hardware

The Nokia 2 is an entry-level smartphone, with an introductory price of below $ 99, so naturally it does not offer especially high-end specifications. Under the hood, the Nokia 2 packs a Snapdragon 212 processor with 1 GB of RAM and 8 GB of internal storage. 5 inch HD display for the screen. The Nokia 2 would ship with Android Nougat ready, but with the update to Android Oreo confirmed. The phone will also have Google Assistant, making it stand out from the crowd in the entry-level market.

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When it comes to photos, the Nokia 2 features an 8-megapixel main sensor at the rear and a 5-megapixel front sensor. Finally, there’s its most interesting and hyped feature, the 4100 mAh battery. HMD promises 2 days away from the charger, assuming you use the phone for 5 hours a day. 

nokia 2 leaks 1 This is what the Nokia 2 looks like. / © AndroidPIT

Nokia 2 technical specifications

  Nokia 2
OS Android Nougat
Display IPS LCD 5 inch, HD
Processor Snapdragon 212
GPU Adreno 304
RAM 1 GB
Internal Memory 8 GB expandable via microSD
 
Camera 8 MP (rear) / 5 MP (front)
Connectivity Bluetooth 4.1, WIFI 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, dual-band, WiFi Direct, hotspot
Battery 4100 mAh
Dimensions 143,5×71,3×9,3 mm

Nokia 2 release date and price

The Nokia 2 is the most affordable smartphone with a $ 99 launch price. Its release is scheduled for mid-November.

What do you think? Will the impressive battery make the Nokia 2 the king of entry-level smartphones? 

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What is the best material for smartphones and tablets?

The humble mobile phone has evolved in so many ways, that even the choice of material used has become a “feature” that manufacturers tout. While silicon leads plastic by a wee bit in making up a smartphone, iron is not too far behind, holding the third place at 20.47 per cent according to Statista. Here is a closer look at what are the most common materials used to make smartphones and tablets, in addition to an overview of what’s used in the various the flagship models today. If you have a preferred material for smartphone bodies, be sure to let us know in our poll!

Aluminum and glass mixture

A combination of aluminum and glass has become quite the trend in recently, and many different smartphone manufacturers have incorporated that into their flagship handsets. While we do not deny that these materials make any handset stand out and ooze with class, there’s the unfortunate drawback of turning your device into a fingerprint collector all too easily. No matter how tough glass can get, it does not welcome falls and knocks too kindly, so cracks are bound to be a common occurrence for those with sweaty palms or clumsy fingers. It is in your (and your smartphone’s) best interest to invest in a good protective case for your smartphone if its body is made out of aluminum and glass.

CNC aluminum/aluminum

Offering a premium look and feel, aluminum works great most of the time since it is one of the better materials out there that can conduct heat, hence helping to keep the handset cooler when the processor works hard. This is assuming that there is a proper amount of insulation or airflow designed into the aluminum body. It is also far more durable compared to plastic, so having the smartphone body crack would take some pretty serious abuse. 

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ABS plastic

ABS, or acrylonitrile butadiene styrene in full, is a very cheap and extremely light plastic, but it fares poorly in terms of conducting heat. You will find entry level smartphones make use of ABS plastic, which helps to lower the overall manufacturing cost. 

Carbon fiber

Carbon fiber is not only lightweight and flexible, it is also very strong when compared to plastic. While it allows one to enjoy a lighter weight without sacrificing structural integrity in the event of a knock or drop, it is a poor heat conductor. Smartphones that feature a carbon fiber body would need a good heat dispersion or cooling system to keep the innards nice and well ventilated when the processor is called upon to work harder than normal. 

The state of the flagship

We will now look at Samsung, LG, HTC, Google, Motorola and Apple with their respective flagships and materials used for the smartphone chassis, where the aluminum and glass combination seems to be a major trend at the moment.

Samsung

Samsung’s Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+ will feature Gorilla Glass 5 in front and at the back, while the camera’s glass is protected by Gorilla Glass 3. Long gone are the days when the Samsung A300 (famously known as the Blue I) flip phone featured a stunning secondary display that glowed in a blue color. Never mind that it felt like recycled plastic , there was an overwhelming coolness about it. The Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+ both use a mixture of glass and aluminum alloy that exudes elegance, although that automatically qualifies it as a fingerprint magnet. The Galaxy Note 8 phablet also follows a similar route.

AndroidPIT glaxy note 8 vs lg v 30 0032 Samsung and LG compete to perfect the glass & aluminum look. / © AndroidPIT

LG

Anything that Samsung does, its bitter rival LG will also attempt to usurp. Case in point, the LG G6 and LG V30 which too, comes with a body that emphasizes on aluminum alloy and glass to get the job done. At the end of the day, a whole lot of success in selling a smartphone model also lies in its design, and we certainly think that LG has done a very good job for both flagship models in terms of marrying aesthetics to functionality and materials used.

HTC

HTC’s U11 might be your latest smartphone squeeze, and it also follows in the footsteps of aluminum alloy and glass. No surprise there as the Taiwanese company makes an attempt to return to its glory days where it was top dog in the world of Android smartphones. We like the idea of incorporating a squeeze feature to access various features on the smartphone, where glass and aluminum have made that possible.

google pixel 2 side2 Pixel 2 is good looking but demands protection. / © AndroidPIT

Google

Google’s Pixel 2 takes a slightly different route, although it plays with the same idea. Featuring a mixture of metal and glass, you will find that there is a certain solidity to the Pixel 2 handset. Still, with glass on the outside, the same drawbacks remain, including it being a fingerprint collector and being more prone to cracking when dropped or knocked against a hard surface. Why not check out what are the best Pixel 2 accessories that you can get to keep your shiny new Pixel 2 protected?

Motorola

Motorola’s Z2 Force is the cream of the crop for this year, and it does stand out from the crowd by featuring just an aluminum alloy to make up its chassis. This automatically makes it more durable (at least the back segment) since there is no glass to worry about should you accidentally bump into the corner of a table or drop it on the floor. However, like all metals, there is a possibility of bending or denting in certain situations. Still, the Z2 Force is proof that a smartphone can look good with a standalone milled aluminum case. 

AndroidPIT sony xperia xz1 review 9241 Polycarbonate and aluminum allow make up this beautiful looking Xperia XZ1 from Sony. / © AndroidPIT

Sony

Sony’s foray into the smartphone arena continues, but their market share is a far cry from earlier days. The Xperia XZ1 is the flagship model for this year, where it boasts of a body that is made out of a polycarbonate and aluminum alloy. Sony’s aesthetics have always been its strong suit, and you can be sure that the Xperia XZ1 might even feel as though you were carrying a mini Bravia TV in your pocket. One thing is for sure though, you will spend far less time wiping fingerprints from the Xperia XZ1 compared to many other flagship smartphones from other manufacturers. Sleek looking and functional, this is a decent purchase for anyone who wants a top shelf smartphone.

Apple

Apple’s take on the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus also plays to a similar tune, where it features a mixture of aluminum with glass in front and at the back. This trend will most probably continue for at least a few more smartphone generations down the road before pragmatism or a new design idea takes over. 

Which material do you like the most?

At the end of the day, customers have no say in the choice of material used by smartphone manufacturers, but we can vote by our wallet. No doubt some of us are ‘forced’ to embrace the aluminum and glass mixture simply because of brand preference. Which particular material do you think works best for you, and why? Let us know your favorite in our poll below.

What’s your personal phone made out of? Would you change it for your next one?

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