Smartphone Reviews

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If it looks like a premium smartphone, acts like a premium smartphone but is the same price as a 'budget' smartphone, is it still a premium smartphone? Not really, no.

But that doesn't mean it's all bad news for the Agora 8 Plus.

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The price of high-end smartphones has gotten out of control. The iPhone X starts at $1579, while Samsung's Galaxy Note 8 retails at $1499, and as much as I like nice things, ponying up that much for a phone is kind of ridiculous. Do we really need a notch that lets you turn your face into an animated pile of poop, or a stylus that won't make your shitty stick figures look any better? But don't fret, because it's still possible to get a very good phone for a decent price.

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A few months ago, Huawei passed Apple to become the second largest smartphone maker in the world, (Samsung is number one). Its latest flagship handset, the Mate 10 and Mate 10 Pro, comes complete with its own homegrown silicon that Huawei claims should make its smartphone the most intelligent.

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I'm a total gadget nerd, and it's been five years since a new smartphone made me nod to myself with the understanding that, "Yes, I need that thing more than I need air." But the buzz around the iPhone X has had me a little more hyped than usual.

Not just because the iPhone finally ditched the bezels and got an OLED display -- Samsung's Galaxy S8 lost its bezels in March -- but because the iPhone X is the line's first significant overhaul since the iPhone 4. I should know better than to fall for the hype, but after spending nearly a week with the device, I've actually convinced myself that spending $1579 on a phone seems like a good idea. If you hate me for saying that, that's OK, I hate me too.

Shared from SMH

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The iPhone X is a weird and wonderful device. Apple's new phone looks and behaves so differently to the iPhones we're used to, but it takes just a day or two to become familiar with it. Apple has been subtly training us for life without a home button over the past few iterations of iOS by emphasising swipe gestures, and the iPhone X benefits from this established muscle memory.

I've only had a few days to play with the iPhone X, so I can't reliably comment on things such as battery life, but here are my first impressions of Apple's tenth anniversary flagship phone.

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As the folks at Razer would tell it, the plan was always to make a phone. No one at Razer was quite sure what that phone would look like, or precisely how it would be a "gamer" phone -- Razer's peripherals and laptops are built primarily for gamers -- but the phone was a distant dream. Now it's a distinct reality, and at $US699, the new gaming-focused Razer Phone could even be a solid alternative for people tired of slick glass-backed OLED phones like the iPhone X and Galaxy S8.

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Battery life is the number one concern when people think about buying a new smartphone, to the point that if a phone had nearly double the longevity of even the most expensive flagship handsets, it would be easy to overlook some of its faults. But at some point deficiencies start to drag down the novelty of having a really big battery, which is precisely the problem with the Asus ZenFone 4 Max. This thing has one of the biggest batteries you can find in a smartphone -- and it's only $US200! Yet budget components take all the fun out of it.

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We often talk about flagship phones here at Gizmodo -- they're where you'll find the best of the best in brand new technology. Technology like super-wide full-screen displays with super-thin bezels. Thing is, though, that tech trickles down into mainstream, affordable phones -- like this one. The LG Q6 is the cheapest way to get a good camera and a great screen in any new phone under $500.

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The Google Pixel 2 might not have as vibrant a blue color scheme, but this is a different phone from last year's model, with a sharper design (that colorful camera button) and some new features that could inspire hope in Google fans who were less than stoked after last year's outing.

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This year, Apple broke from tradition and introduced two totally new iPhones: the iPhone 8 and the iPhone X. What's up with that? As cool as the iPhone X looks, the iPhone 8 is still a fantastic device.

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In August 2017, Andy Rubin, the creator of Android, and his disciples at Essential Products descended onto this mortal plane to grace us with the PH-1 -- a device that seeks to right the wrongs of modern smartphone design. Almost monolithic in appearance, the PH-1, or the Essential Phone as it's more commonly known, is forged from a combination of titanium and ceramic meant to withstand the rigors of daily living without needing to be shrouded in ugly plastic cases. OK, let's get real, there's a lot of hype behind the phone, but is all that hot air really warranted? Ummm, no.

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Forgive me for passing up the chance to beat the exploding battery joke into the ground. Let's get straight to the point: Samsung's once dominant flagship phablet is back after a two year hiatus. Sporting a stunning extra-widescreen 18.5:9 display, the new Galaxy Note8 is bigger and more engaging than ever before, and it packs a larger power pack than any Note besides the ill-fated Galaxy Note 7 too. But a lot has changed since 2015 -- especially when you consider that starting at $1499, the new Note8 is now more expensive than ever.

That means there are two questions it needs to answer: Does the Galaxy Note8 still make sense in 2017, and can it possibly be worth $1499?

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A year after the disastrous Galaxy Note7, Samsung is back with another Note, its flagship big-screen smartphone that is the best it'll build in 2017. Welcome to the Note8 -- it's a masterpiece, an agenda-setting phone that's the first of a new breed of devices that could well replace your entire PC.

The Galaxy Note8 faces stronger competition than ever, but that's a great thing for you, the customer. It catches up to Apple and its competitors with an excellent dual camera, and it streaks ahead with the best screen of any phone ever. If this is the benchmark for top-end phones, I'm really excited to see what this forces everyone else to come up with.

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Motorola's mod-friendly smartphone, the Moto Z, is back. It's back in Z2 Play form, refining the original idea a little and bringing one of 2016's most interesting -- if not exactly compelling -- phones into late 2017. The base hardware is better, and Motorola is to be applauded for that, but the Moto Mods themselves have changed little.

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Every time a new platform comes out, the gadget world runs headfirst into a vicious Catch-22: How do you get people to adopt new technology when there isn't any content, and if there isn't anyone using the tech, how do you convince developers to make content for that platform? Recently, we've seen this situation unfold for VR headsets like the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift. Despite both systems' ability to evoke profound jaw-dropping reactions from those who've tried it, VR is still too expensive and thin on content for people to really care.

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In the world of smartphones, the Essential Phone has been anxiously anticipated with the reverence we should probably save for Kendrick Lamar albums. Why? Andy Rubin, the creator of Android, is behind the whole thing. After ditching Google in 2014, Rubin ran off to open a bakery (YUM!), but he's returned to the world of gadgets to "inject passion back into smartphones," whatever that means. It's not even out yet and people are calling his new device the anti-iPhone.