Phone Reviews

BlackBerry KEYone Review: With QWERTY comes compromise

BlackBerry KEYone Review: With QWERTY comes compromise

The phoenix metaphor is overused in a tech world where brand recycling has become commonplace, so let's just call the BlackBerry KEYone a QWERTY comeback. You'd be forgiven for dismissing it for not one but two reasons, after all. First, for packing a physical keyboard in an age where more flexible, programable touchscreen interfaces are the status-quo. Second, for its attempt at resurrecting a nameplate that long ago lost its shine.

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Samsung Galaxy S8 Review: On the shoulders of giants

Samsung Galaxy S8 Review: On the shoulders of giants

In the cat and mouse game between Samsung and Apple, the user is the real winner, and never has that been so apparent as with the new Samsung Galaxy S8. Undoubtedly the most eagerly-anticipated Android smartphone of 2017, the Galaxy S8 is Samsung's first big opportunity to put the Note 7 battery debacle behind it, and instead wow consumers with its latest industrial design, services, and more. Question is, with the same camera as the old Galaxy S7, not to mention flagship feature Bixby Voice absent until later in the year, does the Galaxy S8 and its big S8+ sibling do enough today to overshadow the iPhone 8 tomorrow?

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Huawei Honor 8 Pro Review

Huawei Honor 8 Pro Review

Just when you thought you've seen all the Android flagships that this half of 2017 has to offer, along comes Honor to blow your presumptions away. Many might brush off this Huawei sub-brand because it is, well, a sub-brand. That, however, would be a grave mistake with the Honor 8 Pro. Because as far as this latest Honor flagship is concerned, it could have been called the "Huawei P10 Plus Lite". Which is to say, it's pretty darned impressive. Especially for something that comes well under this year's high-end smartphone prices.

Design

Let's face it. A lot of consumers will knock the Honor 8 Pro off for looking like an iPhone knock off. Admittedly, that impression might be warranted. You have the same soft curves on the edges and the same all-metal unibody build. It even has the very conspicuous antenna lines though, thankfully, not as bad as the iPhone 6 and 6s.

There are subtle differences, of course, and the biggest one is the rear camera bump. Or rather, the lack of it. Despite being only 6.97 mm thin, Honor has seemingly done the impossible and made the camera bump disappear. What you get is one, flat, continuous rear what won't rock when placed on a flat surface.

You'd be doing yourself a great disservice if you stopped at how the Honor 8 Pro looked. If you manage to get past the all too familiar surface, you'll discover a treasure trove of features you'd only find in more expensive smartphones this time of year.

Specs

Calling the Honor 8 Pro a "Lite" version of Huawei's P10 Plus is actually not too far-fetched. Actually the Honor 8 Pro is larger than the P10 Plus, so we can't really call it "mini" either. But for almost all intents and purposes, the two are eerily similar, give or take a few misses.

With the Honor 8 Pro, the company is jumping onto the QHD bandwagon at long last. Previous models would settle for 1080p Full HD, even at 5.7 inches like this one. It is powered by the latest Kirin 960, the very same processor inside both the Huawei P10 and the P10 Plus. There's also an 8 megapixel front camera, exactly like those other two.

Of course, there are differences as well, and, quite surprisingly, for the better. Unlike the Huawei P10 Plus, for example, the Honor 8 Pro only has one memory configuration: 6 GB of RAM and 64 GB of expandable storage. And also unlike the P10 Plus, the Honor 8 Pro has a larger 4,000 mAh battery that's promised to last even longer but still charge just as fast. Here's a rundown of those juicy numbers:

• Operating System: Android 7.0 Nougat, EMUI 5.1
• CPU: Huawei Kirin 960, octa-core 4x2.4 GHz + 4x1.8 GHz
• RAM: 6 GB
• Storage: 64 GB, expandable up to 128 GB
• Display: 5.7 inches, 2560x1440 QHD (515 ppi)
• Main Camera: 12 MP + 12 MP f/2.2
• Secondary Camera: 8 MP f/1.9
• Connectivity: Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, 2.4 GHz/5 GHz, Bluetooth 4.2, micro USB, 3.5 mm headphone jack
• Battery: 4,000 mAh, fast charging
• Dimensions: 157 x 77.5 x 6.97 mm
• Weight: 184 g

The bottom line here is that the Honor 8 Pro is almost, blow for blow, equal to the Huawei P10 Plus, which is no slouch in any department. The Kirin 960 is one of the underestimated powerhouses in the mobile processor market, and Huawei's EMUI 5.1 promises even more performance optimizations on the software side.

Of course, the Honor 8 Pro isn't the Huawei P10 Plus, so something, other than the design, has to be different. Or to put it bluntly, worse. Sadly, that comes down to the cameras, but it isn't as bad as it sounds.

Camera

Huawei has found its calling in dual camera smartphones and that DNA has naturally been inherited by is sub-brand as well. Unfortunately, it couldn't inherit everything (otherwise, it would be a clone, wouldn't it?). Some things, like a privileged contract with famed camera maker Leica, are reserved for the bigger brand.

Here, the Honor 8 Pro had to settle for a bit less. Instead of the P10 Plus' massive dual 20 megapixel f1/.8 sensors, the Honor 8 Pro only gets a 12 megapixel f/2.2 combo, almost similar to last year's Huawei P9. Almost. There is no trace of Leica here, however, which would give some more professional mobile photographers pause for thought.

In practice, however, the Honor 8 Pro still packs quite a punch in this aspect, better than its rivals on this tier. Photos, especially in bright light, are bright and colors are quite vivid. With the right manual settings, you can get near-professional output without having broken your bank account. Of course, there are tons of modes and features that ad a bit of flavor to your photos and videos, like the now common Beauty mode. The "wide aperture mode" is probably going to give the most interesting effect, blurring the background for a bokeh effect.

Naturally, it has its shortcomings, especially in handling less than ideal lighting situations. Then again, even the Huawei P10 Plus, with its f/1.8 aperture, sometimes falters there. What chance does an f/2.2 has then? And unlike the P10 or P10 Plus, the Honor 8 Pro's front camera doesn't have extra features to boast of. It's not bad, definitely, but nothing to fall head over heels either.

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Wrap-up

The Honor 8 Pro is definitely one of the unexpected surprises of the smartphone market this year. You would have never expected that Honor, whose smartphones so far have been on the far side of mid-range, would come so close to Huawei's own flagship while still remaining within reach for many consumers. That translates to around 500 EUR, roughly $540, still well below the $700-800 tags on this year's premium handsets.

It's not perfect, mind you, but it gets damned close, especially for that price. Sure, you won't get FullVisions or Infinity Displays, Quad DACs or even Leica lenses. But you still get a solid performing smartphone with a very acceptable camera at a bargain. You might call it the "poor man's Huawei P10 Plus" or even the "iPhone 7 Plus for Android fans", but don't let that prevent you from seeing what the Honor 8 Pro truly is: one of if not the most formidable Android smartphones to hit the market this year.

Moto G5 Plus Review : Budget Phone Authority

Moto G5 Plus Review : Budget Phone Authority

The 5th generation of Motorola’s Moto G series returns to a place of extraordinary accomplishment. What Lenovo’s Motorola crew have done is to design a device that does exactly what its originator intended for the series. Like the Moto G, the Moto G5 Plus is delivered with highly acceptable hardware and software for an extremely reasonable price. Plus it has the same image sensor as one of the very best smartphone cameras ever released.

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LG G6 Review: The display is the key

LG G6 Review: The display is the key

After the ill-fated modular excesses of 2016, LG has found its head in 2017, and the LG G6 is all the better for it. Owners of the G5 may be left frustrated that the vision of interchangeable accessories and growing functionality they were promised has failed to pan out, but the rest of us are getting a far more rational - and, thus, usable - device instead. That all comes down to the G6's screen.

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OPPO F3 Plus Review

OPPO F3 Plus Review

These days, if your smartphone doesn't have defining special feature or selling point, it's going to be forgotten amidst a sea of smartphones whose designs and specs are starting to all look alike. And it isn't enough anymore to have a wallet-friendly price only. OEMs need to offer more. Some boast screens with almost no bezels. Others flaunt dual cameras. The OPPO F3 Plus, which was just announced last week, sort of mixes all those, but with a different twist. Yes, it has dual cameras, but it puts those on the front, making sure you get the perfect selfie, whether by yourself or with others. But how does that promise measure up in practice? We take a long hard look to find out.

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HTC U Ultra Review: Flawed Beauty

HTC U Ultra Review: Flawed Beauty

The fans won't want to hear it, but HTC has made a misstep with the HTC U Ultra. Flagship follow-up to last year's HTC 10, it promises high-style and plenty of functionality to go with its premium $749 price tag, and there's no denying that its high-gloss glass body caught my magpie-like eye. All the same, some questionable hardware decisions have left me frustrated.

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A new Google Pixel XL Review in brief, 5-months later

A new Google Pixel XL Review in brief, 5-months later

It's been 5 months since I started using a Google Pixel XL and, like no other phone before it, I can't imagine switching to any other device. While it's quite possible the newest wave of smartphones from brands like Samsung and LG will out-style and out-display the Pixel with their newest devices this year, there's little real reason why I'd feel the need to switch. Our initial Google Pixel Review took place back in October of 2016 when the smartphone launched - can sustained quality over this period of time make the heart fonder?

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Kyocera DuraForce PRO Ultra-Rugged Smartphone Review

Kyocera DuraForce PRO Ultra-Rugged Smartphone Review

The Kyocera DuraForce PRO ultra-rugged smartphone has launched at three big carriers, and it promises to offer everything the outdoorsy, adventurous mobile user needs. Ultra-durable design? Check. Super-wide-angle HD action camera? Check. Waterproof, dustproof, shockproof, and drop-proof? Check, check, check and check. The phone makes some pretty big promises on paper, but does it hold up to use and abuse in the real world? Read on to find out!

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Huawei Mate 9 Review [International Edition]

Huawei Mate 9 Review [International Edition]

The Huawei Mate 9 represents a real maturation of Huawei in a number of areas - most importantly in the company's dedication to a solid final product. What we've seen from Huawei in the past is a set of fairly good or really great components mixed with questionable execution. Here in the year 2017, Huawei has a smartphone that's ready to compete with the biggest brands in the United States, as well as the rest of the world.

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Xiaomi Mi Note 2 Review: Curved-edge Values

Xiaomi Mi Note 2 Review: Curved-edge Values

This week we're having a peek at the Xiaomi Mi Note 2, a device released internationally at a key time in the company's history. Given the look and the feel of the device at hand, this is also a key time for the company to do battle against one of its biggest adversaries in the market: Samsung. With no new Galaxy Note on the market and the Galaxy S7 Edge nearing a year old, the Xiaomi Mi Note 2 looks - on the surface, at least - to be able to offer an alternative to Samsung defectors.

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Honor 6X Review: The $249 promise

Honor 6X Review: The $249 promise

Honor may be obsessed with Millennials, but most of us can appreciate an affordable smartphone that punches above its price, and that's just what the Honor 6X promises to be. Follow-up to the well-received 5X, the new Android handset gets a competitive $249.99 price tag, but can often be found closer to $200 with Huawei-owned Honor's periodic sales. With dual-cameras that sounds like a legitimate bargain, so does the overall experience live up to what Honor offers on paper?

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