LG G7 UK price, release date and specs rumours: LG denies delay of its next flagship phone

 

The LG G7, which was apparently delayed by LG vice chairman Jo Seong-jin, is delayed no more! According to LG, that is.

After news broke last week, via  about the LG G7 being delayed, the South Korean manufacturer issued a statement to Android Central rebuffing the claims. Having apparently delayed the LG G7 due to being disappointed with its design, LG’s statement claimed that “the successor to the G6 is on schedule and the official name will be announced when the time is right. Until then, reports of a decision being made on the timing and name are all speculative.”

You may have noticed that, hidden among that statement, lies another tidbit of news – the LG G7 may not even be called the G7 at all. According to reports, LG is planning to ditch the “G” branding and switch to something different for the G6’s successor. Plans are to use two numbers instead of one, so it doesn’t seem outdated compared to the Samsung Galaxy S9.

There’s also rumours that the LG G7 could be the rumoured LG folding phone whose plans have appeared online. Chances are, this late in the day, it won’t be – but people do love to speculate.

READ NEXT: The best upcoming phones of 2018

For everything you need to know about the LG G7, read our guide to all the latest news and rumours below.

LG G7: Everything you need to know about LG’s next flagship

LG G7 UK price and release date: When will the LG G7 come out?

High-end smartphones are packing ever-increasing RRPs. The LG G6 launched at £650, and Samsung Galaxy S8 at £680. Since these have dropped in price to around £370 and £520 respectively. Following on from Apple’s event on 12 September, with the iPhone 8 starting at £699, iPhone 8 Plus from £799, and iPhone X at a ridiculously high £999, smartphone prices are on a hike.

We’d take a stab at the LG G7 sitting anywhere between £600-800. We’ll update this article as more is known about the LG G7.

In terms of its release date, we initially expected it to launch at MWC 2018, in Barcelona, the tech event that takes place every February. However, according to recent rumours, it seems that Jo Seong-jin, Vice Chairman and CEO of LG Electronics has ordered a full redesign of the phone – pushing back the release date to April 2018.

However, with the release of the LG V30 still fresh off from the South Korean manufacturer, we might even see the G7 pushed back to 2019. Only time will tell.

^ Pictured: LG V30 display

READ NEXT: Samsung Galaxy S8 review: The best Android phone now comes with Bixby

LG G7 specs: What to expect from the LG G7

The big news for the rumoured LG G7 handset – and we’re pretty sceptical about this – is that it will reportedly have 5G functionality. That’s right, the LG G7 is said to bolster 5G modems, meaning the potential for superfast data speeds should linger inside LG’s next flagship.

This report comes from Business Korea and goes as far to suggest 5G might be the unique selling point for the LG G7 when it launches. However, 5G is still very much a work in progress so this won’t mean much yet in the UK as we won’t have the infrastructure in place.

The same report also sheds light on the Samsung’s Galaxy S9. Business Korea says the Samsung Galaxy S9 will similarly pack 5G connectivity, indicating the two South Korean companies will go head-to-head in this department.

Business Korea’s claim is a little more thought out, stating that the 5G specs mean it will contain a Qualcomm Snapdragon X50 5G modem.

^ Pictured: LG V30 camera

Smartphone cameras are handy for taking high-quality snaps. A lot of competition has grown in the market for the best smartphone camera, especially after the Google Pixel (and Pixel 2) took things to another level with its post-processing capabilities. The LG V30 has dual cameras with a 16-megapixel f/1.6 and 12-megapixel f/1.9 lenses. We expect a slight bump in specs, with more pixels and a better aperture.

There’s not much information regarding the LG G7’s power, but we’ve done some crawling on the web and can bring you a few predictions about the sort of processor the LG G7 will have.

We presume it’ll run on Qualcomm’s latest chip. At the time of writing that’s the recently announced Snapdragon 845. The 845 brings a faster performance, better efficiency and better graphics capabilities over the 835. We will also likely see the G7 running on Android 8 Oreo, as the new operating system was announced in mid-2017.

Given the LG V30 ships with 64GB of internal memory and a slot to expand memory to 256GB – we see the LG G7 supporting the same storage capabilities.

With the improvements of the Snapdragon 845 processor, come better camera capabilities. The Spectra 280, a new image signal processor supports faster 60fps at up to 16-megapixels, which means any phone with an 845 processor should perform better under low-light conditions.

There are rumours that indicate the G7 will feature an iris sensor – a feature Samsung has included in its Galaxy S8 already. LG has yet to include any other biometric parameters other than its fingerprint sensor, so we wouldn’t be surprised to see these patents come to life in the upcoming G7.

READ NEXT: LG G6 review: Now cheaper, but still outclassed by Galaxy S8

LG G7 display: A redesigned AMOLED screen?

Details regarding the display are just as dry. In May, LG revealed a fingerprint sensor will sit under the glass display, thus not needing its own dedicated button. For those wondering, it’ll free up space on the device.

Removing and replacing the fingerprint sensor to have it built-into the screen would differentiate the device from similar devices. While we currently don’t know much about the display, it’s safe to assume LG will continue with the full glass front.

That said, LG reshaping the screen is certainly a possibility. Samsung and LG are already leading the charge on bezel-less smartphones. Apple recently removed its physical button in favour of Face ID, a means of unlocking your device with facial recognition.

It’s safe to assume LG will follow this trend and launch the LG G7 with as much glass and as little bezel on the front of the device.

Samsung Galaxy S9 and S9+ UK price, release date and specs: Battery leaks, an unboxing video and the Galaxy S9 Active

 

NEWS: The Galaxy S9 and S9+ might not be the only phones Samsung is planning to unveil in February 2018. There are rumours that Samsung will be launching the Galaxy S9 Active, too. However, this might not come to the UK market. As with the Galaxy S8 Active that only launched in certain markets, such as the US, we might never see the phone land this side of the pond.

There are leaks of the S9 and S9+ batteries. The phones will respectively have a 3,000mAh and 3,500mAh capacity. An unboxing of a Galaxy S9+ clone on YouTube has also appeared. In the video, the fingerprint sensor has moved below the camera, while the rest of the phone has remained largely unchanged. Is this how Samsung’s upcoming phone will look like? We’ll find out soon enough.

Hankering for more Galaxy S9 details? Here’s everything we know about Samsung’s latest pair of flagships.

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Samsung Galaxy S9 and S9+ UK price: How much will they cost?

  • Around £700 for the S9 and £800 for S9+

The Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+ launched at both £679 and £779 when they first released and it’s highly unlikely that the S9 and it’s plus-sized alternative will be much cheaper, if at all.

The Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+ were a huge success at its asking price, so Samsung has no reason to reduce the price of the S9. What’s more, it’s very unusual to see a manufacturer reduce the price of a new handset – usually, the RRP just spirals upwards with each new release (here’s looking at you OnePlus).

Samsung Galaxy S9 and S9+ UK release date: When do they launch?

  • MWC 2018 announcement: 25 February 2018

Samsung typically releases its phones at MWC or at its own dedicated events a little later in the year. In 2018, the former is the case, with the Galaxy S9 launching at MWC.

The annual trade show takes place from 26 February and finishes on 1 March this year, and we will be there in full force bringing you the latest coverage. It has now been confirmed that the S9 will be unveiled at the Unpacked event on 25 February 2018.

Its release date has yet to be confirmed, but according to Evan Blass on Twitter, a well-respected tipster, the S9 pre-orders will start on 1 March and its release date will be on 16 March 2018.

Samsung Galaxy S9 and S9+ specs: What’s inside?

  • Processor: Snapdragon 845 (US & China-only), Exynos 9810 (UK, worldwide)
  • RAM: 4GB
  • Display: 5.8in and 6.2in
  • Camera: Two ‘Super Speed’ 12-megapixel cameras with OIS (F1.5/F2.4) or Single adjustable aperture lens
  • Storage: 64GB internal space (up to 256GB with microSD card)
  • Rear-mounted fingerprint reader
  • Water-resistant IP68
  • Integration with Bixby
  • USB 3.1 Type-C
  • 3.5mm headphone jack included, with AKG stereo speakers
  • Android 8.0 Oreo

Following the launch of Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 845 chipset (US and China-only) and Samsung’s very own Exynos 9810, it’s safe to assume the S9 and S9+ will be equipped with the latest flagship processor. The new chipset features a 2.9GHz octa-core processor that promises to be 40% faster in single-core performance than its predecessor, the Exynos 8895.

Its GPU performance looks to be also 20% more powerful, too, with the ARM Mali-G72. This also means that video playback will support HEVC and VP9 codecs – a welcome addition for those looking to record in 4K (as file sizes will be more detailed and have a smaller file size), something we’ve seen with the GoPro Hero6.

There’s an image that’s emerged from Reddit user ‘minhvn’ (see below) that showcases the full specs of the Galaxy S9 – seemingly confirming that the fingerprint sensor will make its way to the back of the phone, too.

^Image source: Reddit user ‘minhvn’

As for the S9 variant with the Snapdragon 845 chipset, the phone will support Quick Charge 4+, which means you’ll be able to charge your phone from empty to 50% in just 15mins.

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Samsung Galaxy S9 and S9+: Camera

Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who has correctly predicted many launches (notably from Apple), anticipates that both Galaxy S9 and S9+ will feature a dual-lens camera or a single-lens adjustable aperture camera. This follows on from the dual-cam Samsung Galaxy Note 8 or the Samsung W2018 flip phone seen in China.

According to Korean IT site ET News, Samsung will also feature a sensor capable of shooting at 1,000fps. This would allow super-slow-mo videos, close to Sony’s recent effort with the Xperia XZ Premium, which has a sensor capable of 960fps. This seems increasingly likely as the S9 box leak suggests a ‘Super Speed’ camera.

It’s logical that Samsung sticks to a similar camera design with the Galaxy S9 and S9+. Some suggest the South Korea manufacturer might even opt for a telephoto lens for its secondary lens, just like Apple’s iPhone 8.

Fresh rumours also indicate that Samsung will boast the best aperture on a smartphone, ever. With the dual 12-megapixel rear cameras featuring an F1.5 and F2.4 sensor, the S9 and S9+ are set to draw in more light than ever before. This will drastically increase its low-light performance and hopefully provide an alternative to the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL’s stunning camera. We could also see an adjustable aperture lens as seen on the Samsung W2018 phone in China. Here, the aperture dynamically adjusts.

We also expect to see a return of the front-facing Iris Scanner with an 8-megapixel selfie camera with autofocus. Following on from the Samsung Galaxy A8, we might even see dual-front facing cameras, too.

READ NEXT: Samsung Galaxy A8 review: Hands-on with Samsung’s latest mid-range smartphone

Samsung Galaxy S9 and S9+: Design

We now have our first glimpse of what to expect with Samsung’s Galaxy S9 and S9+. Leaked renders from case manufacturer Olixar suggest that both the fingerprint reader and rear camera arrangement will change slightly from the previous effort.

With the S9, the fingerprint reader is now situated below the rear camera, as opposed to the right. Likewise, the S9+ also benefits from the new fingerprint reader placement but also appears to be going the dual-camera route, just like with Samsung’s Galaxy Note 8. Source: MobileFun.co.uk

NFC is most likely going to be included, which means we’ll see the S9 and S9+ feature wireless charging capabilities, too. We presume it’ll be a Qi-certified phone, which means you can use it with existing charging pads.

READ NEXT: The best iPhone and Android phone deals

Samsung Galaxy S9 and S9+: Display

As with the Galaxy S8 and S8+, we’d expect both the S9 and S9+ to launch with an 18.5:9 HDR display. There is a slight chance the phone might be bendable too – but we’re banking on this feature being exclusively used on the Note range-only.

Size wise, the S9 will most likely come with a 5.8in display, while the S9+ a larger 6.2in display.

Samsung Galaxy S9 and S9+: A 3.5mm headphone jack and stereo speakers

A few rumours suggest the S9 and S9+ will no longer feature a 3.5mm headphone jack. After the release of the Google Pixel 2, and a few other Android smartphones that have done away with the jack, we wouldn’t be all too surprised to see it being removed altogether.

However, there’s still a chance we might see the 3.5mm jack on the S9 and S9+. On 5 November 2017, Samsung released a controversial ad that took aim at the iPhone X. In it, the Koren firm heavily hinted that the 3.5mm headphone jack was here to stay.

There are also rumours of AKG partnering up with Samsung to include earphones within the package. Better still, it looks like there will be stereo speakers for the first time on a Samsung device – a feature we’ve been longing to see.

Samsung Galaxy S9 and S9+: Security

With the S9 and S9+, we’d expect to see a fingerprint sensor included, with its placement around the back of the phone, as it was with the S8.

Given the release of the iPhone X, which uses your face to unlock the device (through Face ID), we expect to Samsung to improve its facial recognition on the S9 and S9+. UniverseIce on Twitter, a renowned tipster, thinks the S9 (and S9+) will include a front-facing 3D sensor with face unlocking technology. With the release of the Samsung Exynos 9810 chipset, it all seems highly probable.

There are rumours that suggest Samsung is looking to integrate both iris and face recognition for a more efficient way of unlocking your phone. Apple’s iPhone X works well in low-light conditions and is one of the criticisms of the OnePlus 5T and Honor View 10 that somewhat struggle to unlock at night.

video on YouTube has emerged, which outlines how the technology will work under bright ambient light or low-light conditions. We’ll have to wait and see what the South Korean manufacturer has in store for us in late February.

Also, early rumours of an in-fingerprint sensor seem to have faded away. Despite Synaptics showcasing the Clear ID FS9500 optical sensor on the Vivo X20 UD at CES 2018 (see below), we’re unlikely to see it in this year’s Galaxy S-line. Read more about the in-display fingerprint sensor on our sister publication, Alphr.

Samsung Galaxy S9 and S9+: Android version

Android 8.0 Oreo was released in 2017, and given the update cycle of Samsung phones, it’s expected the South Korean manufacturer will feature Android 8.0 Oreo on the S9 and S9+. Following the announcement of the Samsung Experience 9.0 Beta, this seems likely, too.

Motorola Moto Z2 Play review: Lenovo’s modular phone makes a triumphant comeback

 

It’s no surprise last year’s Moto Z Play remains a top-tier smartphone. It cooked up almost everything to perfection, coupling top-notch looks with a long-lasting battery, a great camera and the ability to add capabilities via Mods. Crucially, though, cost was kept to a minimum and its successor, the Motorola Moto Z2 Play, seeks to bolster the original’s successes.

READ NEXT: Best smartphone 2018

And right off the bat, it’s great to see those Moto Mods are returning. Some said these extras were gimmicky, but I was convinced of their potential. Too often there’s a drawback when picking up your new phone, be it disappointing battery life or a missing feature, but these mods allow you to flesh out your phone as you see fit.

Motorola Moto Z2 Play review: What you need to know

Motorola’s Moto Z2 Play is king where battery life is concerned. Like its mid-range forebear, it’ll cost you half the price of its flagship alternatives, and last a considerable amount longer on a single charge, too. There’s a 5.5in Full HD display and it has a Snapdragon 626 processor inside, with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage, expandable via microSD.

It’s also complemented with these ‘Moto Mods’, that is a set of modular attachments that stick to the back of the phone. There’s a wide range of extras on offer, including a Hasselblad optical zoom lens, battery pack for added longevity and even a JBL-branded speaker.

Motorola Moto Z2 Play review: Price and competition

As with its predecessor, another key part of the Moto Z2 Play appeal is its wallet-pleasing price. The Z2 Play will set you back a cool £379, in line with mid-priced handsets such as the OnePlus 5 at £449. There’s also the Honor 9 at £370 and the original Moto Z Play is still kicking about at around £365.

Those Moto Mods I mentioned? Pricing is varied, starting at £60 for the Incipio battery pack, running up to £250 for the projector add-on. The new mods – the JBL Soundboost 2, gamepad, wireless charger and 3,750mAh Motorola battery pack – aren’t available yet, though, and pricing is still to be confirmed.

Buy Motorola Moto Z2 Play now

Motorola Moto Z2 Play review: Design

When it comes to looks, the Moto Z2 Play doesn’t deviate too far from the rest of the Moto Z lineup, but there are a few subtle (and welcome) changes. The new phone’s aluminium unibody is just 6mm thin, a good 15% skinnier than last year’s, and it weighs a mere 145g, which is pretty impressive for a phone with a 5.5in display.

The glossy back has gone – thank heavens – and has been replaced with a fingerprint-friendly gunmetal grey matte finish instead. On the left edge, you’ll spot the volume rocker and power button, with a USB Type-C port for charging and 3.5mm headphone jack mounted on the bottom edge.

The rear camera protrusion is still there, bulging 2.7 millimetres from the rest of the device, and doesn’t play nicely with desks. The connector pins for the Moto Mods aren’t anywhere near as obtrusive, however, sitting flush with the rest of the phone’s rear panel.

Motorola Moto Z2 Play review: Moto Mods

Up its metaphorical sleeve lies the Moto Z2 Play’s party trick: it’s moddable. As previously mentioned, a series of connector pins reside on the back of the phone and these enable connectivity with a variety of add-ons.

And there’s a good handful of mods to choose from at the moment, which you can find on Motorola’s website: the Hasselblad TrueZoom adds a 10x optical zoom to the phone; the Incipio offGRID Power Pack mod gives you an extra 2,220mAh battery; the Moto Insta-Share projector turns your phone into a mini projector; the Turbopower pack adds a supplementary 3,490mAh; the Moto Gamepad adds controller support; the wireless charger plate makes it faster to charge your phone without wires, and the JBL SoundBoost 2 speaker adds some grunt to your phone.

All of them are a doddle to connect and use. They snap magnetically with no mechanical latches to break or snap, and the stay solidly in place. Interestingly, Motorola has also released a Moto Mod dev kit, so expect to see many more third-party Mods become available in the near future.

However, not all mods are worth getting. I had a play with Motorola’s smart speaker with Amazon Alexa and for £99 was bitterly disappointed. Even with the four added far-field microphones, Alexa didn’t always pick up my voice and the fact that I could use Alexa without the mod, made me question the actual purpose of the add-on.

You’d also hope to hear a drastic improvement on the sound quality front, but I found a £30 Bluetooth speaker, such as the Creative Muvo 2c outshines the £99 moto mod. In comparison to the Muvo 2c, the smart speaker has recessed mids, a bloated bass and rolled off highs.

So, if you want a portable speaker solution and don’t want to be lugging around a large-sized add-on, you’d be better off using the Amazon Alexa app on your Moto Z2 and a small Bluetooth speaker like the Muvo 2c.

READ NEXT: Best Bluetooth speakers 2018: Portable, indoor waterproof and budget Bluetooth speakers

Motorola Moto Z2 Play review: Performance and battery life

Internally, the Moto Z2 Play has seen a pretty generous bump in performance. With Qualcomm’s mid-sector octa-core Snapdragon 626 processor and 4GB of RAM, this was hardly going to be the snappiest of handsets, but we should see a jump from last year’s offering, which employed the older Snapdragon 625.

Buy Motorola Moto Z2 Play now

And, for the price, it’s a respectable enough performer. Here’s how it did in our Geekbench 4 benchmarks, which measure’s overall CPU performance:

The result, as you can see, is that the Moto Z2 Play performs better than its predecessor. In fact, the Moto Z2 Play has seen a 18% bump when it comes to multi-core processing, and a 12% increase in single-core. It doesn’t fare quite so well against its similarly priced competitors, mind, lagging behind both the OnePlus 5 and Xiaomi’s Mi 6, and just a hair’s breadth above Samsung’s cheaper Galaxy A5.

Graphics performance is less impressive, though, with no change in either the onscreen or offscreen GFXbench Manhattan 3.0 tests, at 10fps and 9.7fps respectively. Dodging incoming traffic in Crossy Road was easy enough but things did tend to slow down a little during enemy-heavy firefights in Sky Force: Reloaded.

Crucially, battery life is still impressive, although it doesn’t quite hit the heights of the Moto Z Play. That’s largely because the Moto Z2 Play has a smaller 3,000mAh battery than the Z’s 3,510mAh, but longevity remains very good and it achieved a time of 19hrs 33mins in our video playback test. At the time of writing that was good enough to place it fourth in our all-time smartphone battery charts, behind the Lenovo P2 at the top, the Moto Z Play and the OnePlus 5.

Motorola Moto Z2 Play review: Display

On the surface, the Moto Z2 Play’s screen should be a beauty. Its 5.5in size is generous and the 1080p resolution sufficiently sharp that you can’t see the pixels in normal use. Unfortunately, it’s not quite as good as you might expect.

The phones gives you two display modes to choose from: Vibrant and Standard. You’d expect the former to generate colours that are drastically oversaturated and they are that, but even in the slightly less in-your-face Standard mode, colours were way off.

Our colour-accuracy measurements returned an average Delta E of 4.04 (0 would be perfect), a result that indicates a display that struggles to reproduce key colours accurately.

Elsewhere, given this is a Super AMOLED panel, the contrast ratio is perfect and max brightness has jumped from 354cd/m2 to a more sunlight-friendly 420cd/m2, so it ought to be comfortably readable outside in all but the sunniest of conditions.

Motorola Moto Z2 Play review: Camera

Just like last year, the Moto Z2 Play doesn’t have optical image stabilisation, but the rest of the specifications are decent. The resolution is 12 megapixels, falling from the 16 megapixels of last year, you get both laser and phase detection autofocus, and the aperture is a bright f/1.7.

The aperture, in particular, is a considerable improvement over the Moto Z’s f/2.0 and, in low-light, the difference is stark. As our still-life shot shows, the camera is capable of reproducing heaps of detail without too much noise spoiling the image. Exposure levels could do with a slight tweak, mind, as images did tend to look a little overexposed.

Outdoor shots didn’t pose too much of a problem, either. In fact, the Moto Z2 Play picks up plenty of rich colours and crisp details in sunny conditions, particularly in hard-to-capture areas like foliage.

Enabling HDR did have a slight tendency to make shots look artificial, with hints of oversaturation, but on the flipside it also tended to reduce instances of over-exposure.

Motorola Moto Z2 Play review: Verdict

With last year’s Moto Z Play bucking the trend of the middling mid-ranger, I had high hopes its 2017 successor would be even better. And, when all’s said and done, Motorola has created a fantastic smartphone in the Moto Z2 Play.

Its all-day battery life alone is enough to have you reaching for your wallet, even if it isn’t quite so long-lasting as last year’s. The issue, aside from the slight performance bump and the design overhaul, is that the Moto Z2 Play doesn’t really offer anything new. It’s still a thoroughly impressive phone, though, and one I’m happy to recommend.

Buy Motorola Moto Z2 Play now

Nokia 3 review: Is this the budget Android phone to beat?

 

Update: What’s in store for Nokia at MWC?

MWC is fast approaching, and Nokia – at least according to our invite – will be there in full force. But, what can we expect from the phones giant?

If you recall, last year’s MWC was Nokia’s grand resurgence, following the acquisition from Finnish firm HMD Global. The tech company launched the Nokia 3310 – a re-imagining of the indestructo-phone from the early noughties – and a plethora of budget to mid-range Android-powered handsets.

My prediction for this year’s MWC? I put money on Nokia launching a proper flagship smartphone, to rival the likes of Samsung and Apple. The firm has done the low-cost alternatives already, now it’s time for the big guns.

Whatever happens, we won’t have long to wait.

My Nokia 3 review continues below.

Nokia 3 review

In 2014, Nokia left the smartphone arena. After years of producing great phones, the once-dominant mobile firm had let it all slip through its fingers, selling up to Microsoft after a disastrous few years as the only big firm making Window Phone handsets.

Now, however, after a three-year sabbatical, the Nokia is back with a new range of phones, a fresh approach and Android at the helm. The Nokia 3 is its cheapest offering.

READ NEXT: Best budget smartphone 2017

Nokia 3 review: What you need to know

The Nokia 3 is the firm’s first proper smartphone in three years, with Nokia ditching Windows in favour of Android. And it’s a stock Android OS experience at that: there’s no gaudy overlay here.

Aimed at those less able to justify spending top dollar on a smartphone, its specifications are hardly industry-leading. There’s a 5in, 720p IPS display, 16GB of internal storage, a quad-core processor paired with 2GB of RAM, 8-megapixel front and rear cameras and support for expandable storage up to an additional 128GB via microSD.

Nokia 3 review: Price and competition

The Nokia 3 is cheap, though, at £130 and undercuts much of the competition from other big brands. The Moto G5 costs £165; Samsung’s Galaxy J5 is £169. There’s also our current favourite to contend with: Lenovo’s long-lasting P2 at a pricier £180 or so. Its closest competition probably comes from the 2016 Moto G4, which you can pick up for £140 these days.

Nokia 3 review: Design

Despite the three-year absence, the 3 is very much a Nokia design. In fact, the Nokia 3 adopts a similar look and feel to the Lumia phones of old, with metal edging surrounding a matte-finish polycarbonate rear panel and a handsome screen upfront. Nokia’s logo is subtly etched into its back, beneath the solitary rear camera at the top.

It’s also nice and pocketable, weighing a dinky 140g and a slim 7.5mm. Throw in a 3.5mm headphone jack and microSD slot, and you have a handset that’s both attractive and practical. Don’t expect USB Type-C and fast-charging, mind, nor any kind of dust- or water-resistance.

Nokia 3 review: Display

The Nokia 3’s 5in display is a little uninspiring at first pass. It’s only 720p, a far cry from the Full HD offerings on the Moto G5 and G4 before it. You’ll only see the difference if you look close, though, and in the areas that matter it’s a fine display. A contrast ratio of 1,119:1 ensures the onscreen image is punchy, and it’s readable in bright sunlight, too, thanks to a maximum brightness of 473cd/m2, a polarising layer to cut glare and the fact that the glass is fully laminated to the LCD beneath.

Its colour performance is what drags it down. Spend five minutes with it and you’ll spot some off-looking colours, with reds in particular looking awfully muddy. An average Delta E measurement of 4.04 (I’d prefer a score of between one and two) affirms this, and the end result is a screen with strange-looking colours across the board.

Nokia 3 review: Performance and battery life

As for the core components, they’re not particularly impressive, either, with a quad-core 1.4GHz MediaTek MT6737 processor paired with just 2GB of RAM. Performance in our benchmarks wasn’t very impressive at all.

As you can see, the Nokia 3 doesn’t stack up particularly well. In fact, it’s slower than all of them, including the Moto G4 from 2016. Navigating apps and menus wasn’t particularly taxing, but panning and zooming around Google Maps was sluggish at times.

Likewise, gaming performance isn’t up to snuff. While simple games such as Threes posed no problem, more action-heavy titles will provide a stiff challenge. In the GFXBench Manhattan 3 test, the Nokia 3 returned an average frame rate of 5fps – about the same as the Samsung Galaxy J5 and behind the 2016 Moto G4.

Battery life isn’t too bad, but as is the case with general speed, the Nokia 3 still trails behind. Lasting 10hrs 40mins in our continuous video-playback test, it will survive a day on a single use provided you’re a little conservative, but again it’s worth spending a touch more to get better longevity.

Nokia 3 review: Camera

Budget smartphones typically fall flat when it comes to the camera, and the Nokia 3 is no exception.

We’re treated – for want of a better term – to an 8-megapixel, f/2.0 camera on the back, with very little going for it. There’s no laser or phase-detection autofocus for instance, no image stabilisation, and video can only be shot at 720p. Yep, that’s 720p.

Performance is as you might expect. Low-light shots lack vibrance, look bland and lack detail, with some very washed-out images. Shots in good light didn’t fare much better either, with overexposed highlights a theme, and a general lack of detail.

It’s typical budget smartphone fare, but as Motorola has proved over the past few years, you shouldn’t have to put up with that.

Nokia 3 review: Verdict

Nokia’s first stab at a budget Android smartphone is decent enough, but it doesn’t bring anything noteworthy to the table. It’s a looker, sure, and its display is pretty good, but elsewhere it’s disappointing. Performance is below par, battery life isn’t great and the camera isn’t up to scratch either.

The trouble is at £130, there isn’t much direct competition, aside from the 2016 Motorola Moto G4, which you can still buy for £140. But, as long as you don’t mind buying a generation-old phone, the Moto is the better choice. It has a bigger, higher-resolution screen, faster performance, a better camera and superior battery life.

OnePlus 6 UK release date, price and specs: Will the OnePlus 6 launch earlier than expected?

 

OnePlus is known for its affordable smartphones – and “smart” is the operative word. They’re sleek, stylish, highly functioning, all without breaking the bank. There’s ample precedence here; we adored the OnePlus 5T, praising its gorgeous new design, all-display front, lengthy battery life, and lightning quick performance, although at £449, it’s hardly what you’d call a steal – at least compared to previous entries.

Given our predilection for OnePlus flagships, we’re buzzing for the brand’s next big release. Nothing’s set in stone just yet, but there are a few interesting tidbits circulating the rumour mill. We will be updating this page as and when more information comes to light.

Most recently, a source has suggested to GizmoChina that the OnePlus 6 will be with us as soon as March. Given the only recent release of the OnePlus 5T, that feels a touch unlikely, but stranger things have happened.

Here’s everything else we know about the OnePlus 6 so far.

OnePlus 6: Rumours

The rumour mill is just heating up, although the company’s founder Carl Pei did crop up on Reddit to ask one user where they preferred the fingerprint reader. This, you’re aware, is hardly concrete stuff, but it’s not the first time Pei’s treated social media as a focus group; a recent Twitter poll clarified that, yes, the bulk of people do think headphone jacks are a good idea. The landslide win suggests to us the OnePlus 6 handsets will indeed be sporting them.

And a fresh rumour indicates that iPhone X-style facial recognition could come to OnePlus’ – currently hypothetical – OnePlus 6. According to a reliable source, Android marvel reports that the OnePlus 6 could have a similar facial unlocking system to Apple’s newest flagship.

Not to leave things at that, the source also suggests that the OnePlus 6’s front-facing camera setup will be equipped with an infrared light and 3D camera, to help detect specific facial features and measure depth.

More recently, a source told GizmoChina that the phone would sport the recently announced Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 processor. This is no surprise, and even if it’s pure speculation, it’s hard not to assume this will be the case. OnePlus, after all, always chases down the newest processor it can, and the Snapdragon 845 will be just that when the OnePlus 6 emerges.

As far as other features go, our money’s on the dual lens camera making a reappearance, given it factored into the success of the OnePlus 5T. Whilst it’s not off the cards that the OnePlus 6 might get an upgrade to a 2k screen, it’s uncertain; the rumour’s been around for several generations now, with considerable downsides of 2k (it’s expensive, drains battery, and is all wholly unnecessary for non-VR users) suggesting the OnePlus 6 won’t see this upgrade.

OnePlus 6: Release date

There aren’t masses of continuity here, making predictions a tad tricky. The OnePlus One launched in April 2014, with its successor emerging in July 2015. The OnePlus 3 followed suit, launching in June 2016, with the 3T and 5T launching in November 2016 and 2017 respectively.

GizmoChina, again, reports that the phone is set for a March 2018 release date. Colour us sceptical on that one – it just feels too soon after the OnePlus 5T – although such a move would make it more competitive with the Samsung Galaxy S9, which has been confirmed for a February reveal.

June 2018 still feels more likely to us, but watch this space.

OnePlus 6: Price

Again, there’s an element of unpredictability here, as recent years have seen OnePlus’ prices surge. Initially, the brand prided itself on making smartphones financially accessible, with the OnePlus One costing a paltry £229.

There’s trouble brewing, too; Pei suggested on a Reddit AMA (Ask Me Anything) that he’d consider manufacturing a smartphone that costs over $800 (£600). “[W]e don’t believe in selling products at a loss,” he explained. Makes sense, that.

That being said, we can’t imagine the price soaring far above the OnePlus 5 and 5T’s £450 price tag, although nor can we imagine it being much lower. Taking a punt, we’d proffer an estimate of around £500-£550. We will, of course, be updating this page as and when more information about the OnePlus 6 becomes available, so stay tuned.

Apple iPhone X review: A great phone, but is Apple killing the iPhone X?

 

News update: Is Apple planning to kill the iPhone X?

Uh oh. Just a few short months into its lifespan, it looks like Apple’s “future of the smartphone” might not have so much of a bright future after all. Should rumours be believed of course.

Yes, there’s nothing like a bit of Apple controversy to kickstart 2018. According to Apple Insider, a source close to the iPhone X states that poor sales are to blame for an upcoming manufacturing cease in the summer.

To be clear though, the source does go on to continue that they believe Apple is due to announce three new smartphones in September, including a second-generation iPhone X, a plus-sized model and an iPhone SE follow-up, so it’s likely that big-screened iPhones are here to stay for the time being.

Of course, these details should be taken with a grain of salt, and I will be updating this article as (and if) the story develops.

That being said, my original iPhone X review continues below.

Apple iPhone X review

The iPhone X is one of the most controversial, talked about smartphones in years and, for once, it isn’t because it’s simply the latest Apple handset.

It’s because it heralds a number of firsts: it’s the first time Apple has used OLED technology in one of its smartphone screens; it’s the first time it has removed the home button; and it’s the first time the firm has used facial recognition as a means of authentication.

Perhaps most controversially, though, the iPhone X represents the very first time Apple has hit the £1,000 mark for a base-model iPhone. The question is, who’s going to spend this much money on a phone?

READ NEXT: The best iPhone and Android phone deals in 2018

 

 

Apple iPhone x review: What do you need to know

That’s very much a question at the end of this review. For now, however, I’m going to concentrate on the phone’s key features. And it’s the screen that makes the iPhone X so special. As I already mentioned, it’s the first time Apple has employed OLED technology, but it’s also the first iPhone to remove the big bezels from above and below the screen.

Inside is Apple’s A11 Bionic processor, which we’ve already seen in the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus, a choice of 64GB or 128GB of storage and dual cameras on the rear of the phone, too.

Apple iPhone X review: Price and competition

As discussed previously, this is the first base model iPhone that has cost more than £1,000. That’s for the 64GB version; the 256GB version costs £1,149 (ouch!). That’s an awful lot of money by anyone’s standards – as much as a decent ultraportable laptop – and there are no other phones that come close in price currently on the market (save the slightly crazy Huawei Mate 10 Pro Porsche Design edition).

The phone that comes the nearest is the Samsung Galaxy Note 8, but even that is £220 less expensive than the iPhone X at around £770 and it comes with a pressure-sensitive stylus. Perhaps the iPhone X’s strongest competition, however, is that which comes from within. The iPhone 8 Plus, although old-fashioned and terribly bulky for a 5.5in phone, is still brilliant and starts at £799. The only practical thing it lacks compared with the iPhone X is Face ID.

Alas, the iPhone X’s spiritual competitor is the Samsung Galaxy S8, which has a near identical screen size and set of features. I say alas, because you can buy a Samsung Galaxy S8 today for the Tidy sum of around £520 – that’s half the price.

Apple iPhone X review: Design

The iPhone X is available in two colours: white, with a chrome silver trim, and black, with a shiny dark grey trim. Neither, to my eyes, look as good as a £1,000 smartphone ought to. Next to the “mocha brown” Mate 10 Pro I’ve been using for the past couple of weeks, it’s positively dour. The trim on my white review model starts picking up greasy fingerprints the moment I pick it up, quickly losing its box-fresh lustre, as does the rather plain white rear.

There’s no surprise about the positioning of the phone’s various physical elements. Aside from the lack of home button and the power button, which has moved around to the right edge, they’re all in the places you’d expect. Other things from previous generations also remain in place, with dust and waterproofing to the IP67 standard and no 3.5mm headphone jack. I’m still of the opinion, incidentally, that removing it was a misstep.

Likewise, I’m not convinced by the camera module on the rear. It’s large, unsightly and juts out around a millimetre. This completely unbalances the phone when it’s placed on a flat surface, so the phone rattles whenever you swipe or tap. The infamous “notch” on the front, which so many have scoffed at, doesn’t bother me at all. Quite the opposite, in fact: I feel it lends the phone character – an identifiable X factor if you like – that makes it look different to most other current flagships. Lord knows it needs something to help it stand out.

The positives are the same as they are with every other 18:9 aspect ratio, low-bezel phone I’ve used: it a high screen-to-body ratio, which essentially means more screen real-estate for a smaller size of phone. So, while it might have a larger 5.8in screen than anything we’ve seen on an iPhone before, it’s considerably smaller and lighter than the 5.5in design Apple has been using for the past three years. And those trademark rounded corners and edges mean the iPhone X is just as comfortable to hold and slide into a tight pocket.

Apple iPhone X review: Face ID

The big consequence of filling almost the entire front of the iPhone X with screen is that there’s no longer any room for a home button on the front nor, surprisingly, a fingerprint reader. Instead, Apple is moving to a new biometric approach, with Face ID the primary means of unlocking the phone and using Apple Pay.

Face ID works by using the phone’s “True Depth” camera to project infrared dots onto your face – 30,000 of them, in fact – and producing a 3D model of your face that it stores internally alongside a two-dimensional infrared image. It then uses the same sensor to scan your face, match it against the stored model and unlock your phone – in a fraction of a second.

Apple claims the likelihood of someone who isn’t you unlocking your phone using the new system is one in a million, making it more secure than Touch ID but what is it like to use?

I’ve been testing it out for a few days now and I’m rather impressed by the system as a whole. Setting it up is as simple as enrolling a fingerprint on an iPhone 8 Plus. Just line up your face in the provided circular loupe and move it around so the sensor can build up a full model of the planes and contours of your mug. Do this a couple of times and you’re ready to rock and roll.

Unlocking with Face ID works pretty much perfectly, both for those with glasses and without. I’ve yet to have a failure, in fact, and you don’t have to look straight at the phone either. Even with the phone placed to the left side of my keyboard I only have to press the side button or double tap the screen and it’ll see my face and unlock.

I do have a couple of small complaints. First, unlocking for use at contactless payment terminals isn’t quite as convenient as before. Now, you’re forced to double tap the side button and then raise the phone so it can get a good look at you before tapping on the reader. Before, all you needed to do was double tap the home button and leave your thumb there so the phone could recognise your fingerprint.

Second, I’m still coming to terms with the fact that, even after Face ID has used my face to unlock the iPhone X, I still have to swipe up to get to the home screen. Three steps where you used to be able to simply press and hold. Something needs to be done.

Still, at least Face ID works more reliably and is a touch more flexible than Samsung’s iris recognition tech, which doesn’t work at all if you’re wearing glasses. And it’s good to know that Apple provides protection against accidental unlocking – while you’re sleeping for instance – by implementing a system Apple calls Attention-Aware, which checks that you’re awake and alert before unlocking the phone.

Delve into the settings, and you’ll also find that the same system can be used to prevent the phone dimming the display or lowering the volume of alerts if it detects your face is in the vicinity and your eyes are open.

Of course, you can also use the Face ID camera to track your facial movements and map them onto an “Animoji” as well, and this is great fun. What isn’t quite so fun is the repositioning of the Control Centre. Yes, in addition to removing the home button, the action for calling up the place where you can quickly update settings such as screen brightness, flight mode and volume has moved: you now have to drag your thumb down from the top right corner. I don’t like it.

At least getting to the recent apps view is a little more intuitive: just drag your thumb up from the bottom edge of the screen and hold it still for a short while and up pops a sideways-scrolling view of what you’ve launched recently, complete with iPhone X- style curved corners.

iPhone X review: Performance and display quality

Performance, as always seems to be the case with current generation iPhones, is superlative. The new Apple A11 Bionic chip is inside, coupled with 3GB of RAM, and it produces very similar benchmark results to the iPhone 8 Plus. So it’s basically faster than any other phone on the market in terms of its CPU and graphics processing grunt.

In really demanding games I’d expect the iPhone 8 Plus and iPhone 8 to marginally outperform it, but by and large the 60Hz refresh rate of the iPhone X’s edge-to-edge screen limits frame rates across the range.

As for that display, which don’t forget is Apple’s first OLED effort, well it’s truly excellent. It has a resolution of 2,046 x 1,125, which delivers a pixel density of 458ppi and it’s the best iPhone display ever made.

Unlike the Pixel 2 XL, there are no problems with viewing and odd-looking colours. Contrast, as you’d expect from an OLED display, is essentially perfect, and colour accuracy is absolutely spot on.

As with all current generation iPhones, the screen has adaptive colour profiling, so in the browser, where most graphics and professionally produced photographic material is targeted at the sRGB colour space, it tweaks onscreen colours to match. During video playback, meanwhile, the phone will automatically switch profiles to the wider DCI-P3 colour space.

Here, I measured the average colour difference (delta E) in the browser at 1.04 across all our tests. That’s astonishing accuracy in a phone, especially one with an OLED display.

What’s more is it’s bright, peaking at 501cd/m2 with the screen filled with white and supports both HDR10 and Dolby Vision as well as Apple’s ambient light-matching tech, True Tone. This is one superb display, make no mistake, and it’s at least as good as the screens adorning Samsung’s trio of S8, S8 Plus and Note 8 offerings.

Finally, to battery life. Now, I must stress that at this stage it’s a little too early to say whether or not the iPhone X’s stamina is good or not. I simply haven’t had the chance to use it enough to gauge real-world use accurately so far. What I can say, though, that its performance in our video playback benchmark wasn’t all that impressive. It lasted a mere 9hrs 22mins, in fact, falling well short of the 13hrs 54mins mark set by the iPhone 8 Plus.

iPhone X review: Camera

The camera is great, though, and for all the same good reasons as the iPhone 8 Plus. It isn’t the quite best phone camera on the market, but it does a mighty fine job of taking reliable photos and crisp, steady 4K 60fps video.

As with the iPhone 8 Plus, the X has two cameras on the rear, both 12 megapixels, both using Sony sensors. One is a wide angle camera, the other a telephoto. The key difference between this and the iPhone 8 Plus is that the telephoto camera has a slightly brighter aperture at f/2.4. It’s optically stabilised, too, just like the main f/1.8 camera.

In theory, this means telephoto shots in low light should look cleaner and less noisy in poor light than with the iPhone 8 Plus. A quick glance at the EXIF data, though, shows that, as soon as the light drops, the iPhone X’s camera software simply uses a crop of a shot from the main camera. It’s effectively digital zoom and it hits quality. Badly.

The other camera is essentially the same unit as found in the iPhone 8 Plus, and the results from it in good light and bad are the same. It isn’t as good as from the Pixel 2, which has the best camera on the market, but it’s a match for all its other rivals. Exposures are bang on, autofocus is reliable and it handles noise more elegantly than, say, the Huawei Mate 10, whose camera has a brighter aperture, but tends to soften images with over-processing.

Portrait mode works just as nicely as ever and if you enable HDR you’ll find that it’s effective, yet subtle, lifting out details nicely in highlights and shadows without making your shots look artificial.

Meanwhile, at the front, is a 7-megapixel camera – your go-to shooter for selfies (and unlocking, of course). This produces decent selfies and makes use of the technology used for Face ID to produce portrait images with blurred backgrounds. It isn’t as good as the rear camera at producing flattering photos, though, and the edge detection doesn’t seem as good, either, leaving ragged patches all over the place where the depth hasn’t quite been detected accurately enough.

iPhone X review: Verdict

The iPhone X moves things on in terms of design, at last, drawing level with Samsung in terms of pure aesthetics, introducing what is a genuinely innovative and effective means of accurately recognising faces and unlocking the phone.

It’s supremely quick, has a brilliantly colour-accurate display – Apple’s best ever, in fact – and the camera is sublime. Unfortunately, it is the price that takes all the headlines here. With prices starting at a bum-clenchingly pricey £999 for the 64GB version and a frankly lunatic price of £1,149 for the top spec 256GB phone, Apple’s top-end smartphone is simply too expensive.

And yes, I know. Other manufacturers have been moving their prices steadily northwards in recent times as well. None, however, have taken things this far. The question is, does the reality of the iPhone X justify the premium charged over the likes of the Samsung Galaxy Note 8? Or, more realistically, the Galaxy S8?

The answer to that question is no. The iPhone X is many things: it’s Apple’s best ever phone, it has an unbelievably good display, but there’s no way I could recommend it to someone when there’s a phone that’s just as good, if not better in some ways, and will cost you nearly half as much. Sorry Apple, but that’s just the way it is.

Samsung Galaxy Note 9 UK price, release date and specs: Launching in August?

 

The Samsung Galaxy Note 8 may be a glimmer in its maker’s eye – and the Note 7 was an even hotter glimmer – but we’re already looking at what the Korean tech firm has in store for its next plus-sized Note handset. Hear that sound outside your window? Why, that’s the non-stop train of consumerism, rolling its merry way through your local station. Toot toot.

READ NEXT: What to expect from MWC 2018

History has taught us that the Samsung Galaxy S flagship series debuts earlier in the year – with the Galaxy S9 presumably launching at this year’s MWC conference – while its larger Galaxy Note phablet counterpart tends to emerge towards the tail end of the year. Given that track record, we’re making an educated guess that the Galaxy Note 9 will launch in August 2018.

With Apple’s iPhone X still kicking up hordes of excitement about facial-recognition technology, end-to-end screens and err animated emoji, but what can we expect from the Samsung Galaxy Note 9? Here is what we know, or largely take an educated guess, so far.

Samsung Galaxy Note 9: Everything you need to know

Samsung Galaxy Note 9: UK release date and price

Again, and can’t stress this enough, we don’t have any official word from Samsung about the Galaxy Note 9 just yet. Samsung’s upcoming golden child is the Galaxy S9, so they’ll be concentrating on that launch in the coming months. As such, we don’t know how much the Note 9 will cost, or when it will release. I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t make an educated guess though, eh?

As mentioned before, we expect the Note 9 to launch in the UK towards the tail end of the year, around August 2018. That’ll give the upcoming Galaxy S9 some breathing room, and allow the Note 9 to be the hot flagship come Christmas, just like last year.

As for price, I think we were all taken aback by how much the Note 8 cost last year. £869 was a gut-wrenching shock, but we can expect the Note 9 to fetch roughly the same price in 2018. Best start saving up I guess.

Samsung Galaxy Note 9: Features

Mobile reporter Benjamin Geskin has mocked up a set of renders for the Galaxy Note 9, based on a handful of early rumours about what specs the handset may include.

The results look a lot like both the Note 8 and the iPhone X, with a 4K 6.4in display, a fingerprint sensor embedded into the screen, and an even fuller “infinity display”.

If you look at pictures of the Galaxy Note 8, you’ll see that Geskin has stretched the display on that device to totally eliminate the top and bottom bezels. There have indeed been reports that Samsung may be working on a new form of screen, although the patents unearthed about that particular direction hint at something slightly different to the “notched” display on the iPhone X.

A recent patent filed at the WIPO points at a phone with an all display front, bar tiny holes for the front-facing camera and IR sensors. If this is the case, and it certainly looks exciting, the Note 9 will be the first all-screened phone, without any bezels. Imagine that.

But back to Geskin’s render, which also shows an under-display fingerprint sensor. This is slightly confirmed by what was show off at this year’s CES tech conference. A firm called Synaptics showed off what they called a “Clear ID FS9500 optical sensor”, which can supposedly read your fingerprint under the display. While we’re unlikely to see this tech in the Galaxy S9 – I may end up eating those words – I’d say it’s a high possibility a fingerprint sensor will be embedded under the Note 9’s screen.

But what about Apple effectively dumping its fingerprint sensor in favour of a new Face ID system? Which brings us to…

Facial recognition. There’s currently no evidence to suggest whether Samsung will or won’t push facial recognition as a stable of the Note 9. Seeing as the company already has a form of the tech-enabled in its handsets, it seems like likely that it will try to out-face Apple with its future handsets.

Samsung Galaxy Note 9: Design

A patent from Samsung at the World Intellectual Property Organisation indicates that we might be looking at more screen than ever before. The whole of the front of the handset could be a screen, while still maintaining a fingerprint scanner and front-facing camera on the front hand side.

 

 

That would give it an advantage over Apple’s iPhone X, which needed a ‘notch’ at the top to house the camera, and had to remove the fingerprint scanner entirely to accomplish the all-screen front side. Of course, we don’t know if this patent will be in the Note 9, or for a later model, but it’s an interesting insight into where the device is going.

Could the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 be something completely different?

Based on this year’s releases, it would be easy to predict that all smartphones will look largely identical come 2020. That pattern may be bucked, however, with a whole new concept based on foldable technology.

A foldable phone from Samsung has been long-rumoured, with reports centred on a device dubbed the Samsung Galaxy X. A new handset line makes a lot of sense, but could Samsung instead decide to premier its new foldable approach with the Note 9?

The president of Samsung’s mobile division, Koh Dong-jin, has said the company is aiming to release a bendable flagship in 2018. Given the benefits this could bring to a phone with a large form factor, it may very well be the case that the Korean company wants the Note 9 to be a phablet that can be folded into your pocket.

Of course, all of this is guesswork. We’ll be updating this page with more concrete news as it surfaces over the coming months.

Google Pixel 2 XL review: Google’s supersized, bezel-less flagship is now only £644

 

Deal alert: Pixel 2 XL now only £644

Despite lacking in deals over the pre-Christmas sales, Google’s Pixel 2 XL has recently received an excellent bargain over at Carphone Warehouse.

As it stands, and I’m afraid we don’t know when this deal ends, the Google Pixel 2 XL is currently only £669 – that’s a saving of £130. A good enough deal in its own right, but do a little bit of poking around and you’ll spot something even better.

READ NEXT: Best smartphone deals in January sales

Simply head to the contract deals section, and arrange the list by cheapest total cost. From here, you’ll see a Pixel 2 rolling contract deal on O2 with a £629 upfront cost at £15 a month. So long as you cancel the contract before your first month is up, you’ll have a Pixel 2 XL for just £644 – that’s £150 off.

Likewise, you can pick up its regular-sized alternative for only £474.

Buy Google Pixel 2 XL at Carphone Warehouse

That said, my original Pixel 2 XL review continues below

Google Pixel 2 XL review

I hate to be the bearer of bad news. But somebody has to tell die-hard Android fans that Google’s Pixel 2 XL isn’t very good. And that’s not just because it doesn’t offer a single feature that other manufacturers haven’t already done, and done better.

READ NEXT: Best smartphone 2017

That’s not necessarily a fatal flaw: you can do things competently and still sell. Unfortunately, there’s also one gigantic flaw that holds it back from any possible recommendation.

Buy Google Pixel 2 XL from Carphone Warehouse

Google Pixel 2 XL review: What you need to know

The Pixel 2 XL is Google’s latest plus-sized flagship. The second-generation Pixel XL is a smartphone that’s meant to pave the way for the next wave of Android smartphones, with top-end specs and a camera that’s best in its class.

Released a month after the regular-sized Pixel 2, the 2 XL is a 6in smartphone with a P-OLED screen and a 20-megapixel rear camera that, according to DxOMark, is unbeatable. The latest Snapdragon 835 processor runs the show, complete with 4GB of RAM and a choice of either 64GB or 128GB of non-expandable storage.

Google Pixel 2 XL review: Price and competition

At £799 for the 64GB model and £899 for the 128GB variant, Google’s second Pixel-branded smartphone creeps alarmingly close to Apple’s four-figured iPhone X.

Not only that, but 2017 has already been a year filled with excellent flagships. The Pixel 2 XL is forced to fight with Samsung’s excellent Android-wielding Galaxy S8 Plus (£621) and Apple’s iPhone 8 Plus (£799). Huawei’s fresh-faced Mate 10 Pro has also entered the ring, at $799.

Google Pixel 2 XL review: Design

The Pixel 2 XL’s design is marvellous. We may have been treated to many bezel-less displays this year; from Samsung’s Galaxy S8 to LG’s V30, but Google’s latest plus-sized smartphone is a particularly special one.

You’ll find a similar two-tone mash-up of glass and sand-blasted aluminium as last year’s effort, complete with rounded corners and edges that wrap around the phone, bordering the front display. The fingerprint reader can still be spotted on the rear (just below the camera) and it’s easy to reach despite the 2 XL’s full-bodied frame.

Coming in at 7.9mm thin, and weighing 175g, it may be a little portly but those rounded corners make for a phone that fits comfortably in the hand. On the right-hand side, you’ll find the easy-to-reach power button and volume rocker, and the left houses the nano-SIM tray. On the bottom, you’ll spot the solitary USB Type-C port for charging.

Pixel fans will be disgruntled to discover that there’s no 3.5mm headphone jack – just like with the regular-sized Pixel 2 – despite Google’s mockery of Apple precisely 12 months ago. Both phones do come with a USB Type-C to 3.5mm adapter in the box, and you can always use a pair of Bluetooth headphones instead, but most people would still class this as “annoying”.

Google Pixel 2 XL review: Display

Despite its special looks, it’s the Pixel 2 XL’s display that sets it back. Remember that one, glaring flaw I teased earlier? Well, this is it.

At first pass, its specifications are beguiling. The Pixel 2 XL’s P-OLED display measures 6in across the diagonal, with a resolution of 1,400 x 2,880, with both videos and Android games looking superb, with oodles of contrast. That is, however, provided you’re looking at the screen dead on.

Simply load up a web-page, or start viewing Netflix, and tilt the phone just a little bit to the left or right, up or down, and the screen takes on a distractingly hideous blue-ish tint. It’s a problem that, for someone who likes to read a lot on my phone on the go, rendered the Pixel 2 XL completely unusable.

And then there’s the bothersome flickering with the phone’s auto-brightness mode. Clearly, the Pixel 2 XL struggles to jump from one brightness to the other.

For £799 you’d expect the best, and the display issues with the Pixel 2 XL are simply inexcusable.

Buy Google Pixel 2 XL from Carphone Warehouse

Google Pixel 2 XL review: Performance and battery life

Internally, the Pixel 2 XL is powered by Qualcomm’s latest octa-core Snapdragon 835 processor: the same chipset found in Samsung’s Galaxy S8 Plus and the cheaper OnePlus 5. Elsewhere, you’ll find 4GB of RAM and either 64GB or 128GB of non-expandable storage.

And the Pixel 2 XL’s performance is a match for every other manufacturer on the market, with only Apple’s iPhone 8 Plus edging out in front. Here’s how the Pixel 2 XL performed in Geekbench 4’s rigorous multi- and single-core processing tests:

Likewise, the Pixel 2 XL’s graphics performance is a similar story. As the below chart proves, it’s just as fast as its rivals but is again pipped at the post by Apple’s iPhone 8 Plus.

In terms of battery life, we’ve seen some excellent results from Snapdragon 835-equipped smartphones in 2017, with the superb OnePlus 5 leading the charge with its 21-hour lifespan. In our own continuous video playback test, the Pixel 2 XL’s 3,520mAh battery managed to squeeze out 15hrs and 9mins before running out of juice, lagging behind the OnePlus 5 by a good five hours.

It’s also a shame that, unlike the Galaxy S8 and iPhone 8, the Pixel 2 XL doesn’t come equipped with wireless charging. Having said that, the Pixel 2 XL does benefit from fast charging, taking roughly 1hr and 27mins to reach full capacity from flat.

Google Pixel 2 XL review: Camera

Finally, on to the Pixel 2 XL’s excellent rear camera. The folks at DxOMark awarded it a score of 98 – higher than any other smartphone camera on the market – and I’ve been itching to put it through its paces ever since the grand unveiling.

The Pixel 2 XL’s 12.2-megapixel sensor, equipped with a bright f/1.8 aperture, optical image stabilisation and phase-detect and laser autofocus produced images with loads of detail. And, with Google refining the performance of its excellent HDR+ processing algorithms, those images are much speedier to capture.

Put the Pixel 2 XL up against last year’s effort, and photographs captured by Google’s latest have better colour reproduction in outdoor conditions and a more neutral cast in low light. If you recall, last year’s Pixel struggled with white balance compensation, producing images with a warm, yellowish tint, but there’s no such evidence of that here.

Buy Google Pixel 2 XL from Carphone Warehouse

With the two images side-by-side, the differences aren’t quite so in your face, but pictures did look slightly more natural, with a touch more accurate colour saturation. There’s also a handful of new shooting features too, including “motion photo”, which captures a brief section of video to go with your still shots, and a portrait mode, which replicated the blurred “bokeh” background effect you get when shooting with a DSLR.

The Pixel 2 is also capable of shooting 4K video at 30fps. Although, quality isn’t as good as still shots – with footage looking too dark and oversaturated. Samsung’s Galaxy S8 definitely has the upper hand when it comes to video, even if the Pixel 2 XL does try to compensate with 120fps and 240fps recording.

Google Pixel 2 XL review: Android 8.0 Oreo

This year’s Pixel 2 XL is running stock Android Oreo – which has made an appearance on the original Pixel via a software update – but it doesn’t include any real, impactful changes.

Picture-in-picture is the major development here, a feature focussed on multitasking that lets you keep one app, for example Netflix, in a small floating window while checking your email (or anything else you fancy) full-screen.

One of the cooler new features makes cut-and-paste much easier, through a feature called Smart Text Select. This automatically recognises items like phone numbers, place names and addresses, making it easier to select what you need quickly with a single tap.

And finally, we have Google Lens, which is all about analysing live images rather than static ones, interpreting everyday objects such as buildings, flowers and signs and providing information on them as you point the camera at them. Just like with Samsung’s own Bixby, Lens should recognise what you’re pointing your camera at and offer to perform follow-up actions on that information. I say should, because as it stands Lens struggles a bit, identifying London’s famous BT Tower as simply a “control tower” and a bottle of red wine as “liqueur”.

Google Pixel 2 XL review: Verdict

It’s very disappointing that in the end, the Pixel 2 XL’s display issues drag the phone back from greatness. Because of this, and unlike its regular-sized alternative, the 2 XL won’t be rocketing to the top spot of our smartphones hierarchy anytime soon.

Sure, it has the latest, and greatest processor on-board, and includes the best smartphone camera to date, but its lofty price and poor video capture quality mean Google’s plus-sized Pixel 2 XL is certainly not a phone I can recommend. At least, not in its current state.

Hardware
Processor Octa-core 2.35GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 835
RAM 4GB
Screen size 6in
Screen resolution 2,880 x 1,440
Screen type P-OLED
Front camera 8-megapixel
Rear camera 12.2-megapixel
Flash Dual-LED
GPS Yes
Compass Yes
Storage (free) 64/128GB
Memory card slot (supplied) No
Wi-Fi 802.11ac
Bluetooth 5.0
NFC Yes
Wireless data 4G
Dimensions 158 x 77 x 7.9mm
Weight 175g
Features
Operating system Android 8.0
Battery size 3,520mAh

Google Pixel 2 review: The Android smartphone, redefined — now only £504

 

Deal alert: Get £140 off the Google Pixel 2

The Pixel 2 didn’t receive much love in the pre-Christmas sales but now that we’ve welcomed in a new year, there’s an excellent Pixel 2 deal doing the rounds.

At the moment, and I’m afraid you just missed out on a slightly better deal, you can pick up Google’s Pixel 2 with 64GB of onboard storage on the cheap. Head to Carphone Warehouse, and you’ll spot that the Pixel 2 is on offer for £529 – slightly up on the £499 deal – but dig a little deeper into the contract offers and you can get it slightly cheaper.

READ NEXT: The best phone deals in the January sales

Simply sort the contract section by lowest cost, and you’ll spot the Pixel 2 at £15 per month on a rolling contract on O2, with an upfront cost of £489. Cancel the contract before the first month ends, and you have a Pixel 2 for just £504.

Likewise, its plus-sized alternative, the Pixel 2 XL, is also heavily discounted.

Buy Google Pixel 2 now at Carphone Warehouse

My original Google Pixel 2 review continues below.

Google Pixel 2 review

Google’s inevitable iPhone 8 riposte has arrived. Following the success of the iPhone 7-beating Pixel last year, it was obvious Google would once again attempt to trump Apple’s efforts with a barrage of refinements and hardware upgrades. And again, the Pixel 2 is primed to make the same hard-hitting statement this year: there’s still a spot for Android in your pocket.

Google Pixel 2 review: What you need to know

The Pixel 2 is Google’s latest Android flagship. The successor to last year’s excellent Pixel handset, this is the smartphone that’s primed to set the benchmark for Android phones for the next 12 months.

As the smaller of the two new Pixels, the Pixel 2 is a 5in smartphone with an AMOLED screen and a 12-megapixel rear camera that, according to the folks at DxOMark, is the best in its class. And as you’d expect, performance takes a step up too, with the latest Snapdragon 835 processor buddying up with 4GB of RAM and a choice of either 64GB or 128GB of non-expandable storage.

Google Pixel 2 review: Price and competition

At £629 for the 64GB model and £729 for the 128GB variant, Google’s second Pixel-branded smartphone doesn’t come cheap. However, since it’s a smaller 5in phone, there’s not quite as much direct competition as you might expect for the Pixel 2.

You have the iPhone 8, which has a 4.7in screen and costs £699, the Sony Xperia XZ1 Compact with a 4.6in display for £499 and that’s about it for the big manufacturers. It’s worth considering the Samsung Galaxy S8 in the same bracket, too; although the screen is larger at 5.8in, it’s only fractionally larger than the Google Pixel 2, and it’s cheaper as well, at around £500 currently.

Google Pixel 2 review: Design

If you’re already familiar with last year’s effort, 2017’s design won’t come as much of a surprise. Both the Pixel 2 and its plus-sized sibling keep the divisive two-tone glass and metal rear of their predecessors, although the glass strip at the top is much slimmer than before, occupying roughly an eighth of its behind.

You’ll still find the circular fingerprint reader on the back, along with a solitary USB Type-C port on the bottom for charging. On the left-hand edge sits both the power button and volume rocker.

Are we missing something? Yep, the Pixel 2 doesn’t have a 3.5mm headphone jack – a startling move given Google’s mockery of Apple last year. You better get familiar with the supplied USB Type-C to 3.5mm adapter, or invest in a decent pair of Bluetooth headphones. At least Google’s latest phone has IP67 dust- and water-resistance, a feature last year’s Pixel lacked.

There’s also Google’s “Active Edge”, with which you can activate Google Assistant without pressing a single button. It’s basically the same as the HTC U11’s squeezy feature, but with machine learning behind it that can tell a deliberate squeeze from an accidental one.

Google Pixel 2 review: Performance and battery life

Despite rumours suggesting otherwise, the Pixel 2 is powered by Qualcomm’s latest Snapdragon 835 processor, as opposed to the as-yet-unannounced Snapdragon 836 chipset. That’s not to say the 835 isn’t welcome; most of 2017’s best phones are all powered by it.

The processor works in tandem with 4GB of RAM and a choice of either 64GB or 128GB of storage. Like last year, there’s no microSD expansion, but you’ll find a 2,770mAh battery on the inside, slightly down from last year’s 2,770mAh.

It’s no surprise then given the more power efficient internals, that the Pixel 2 is a rapid performer. It’s quicker than last year’s Pixel, naturally, and at least as quick as most of its rivals; the only phone it lags behind is the Apple iPhone 8 Plus. Here’s how the Pixel 2 performed in the Geekbench 4 multi- and single-core CPU tests:

Likewise, the Pixel 2’s graphics performance is more than good enough to handle anything you can download from Google Play. As you should be able to see from the graph below, it’s once again as quick as its rivals and slower than the iPhone 8 Plus. The only outlier is the Galaxy S8, which has more pixels to render per frame than the Pixel and thus is slightly slower in the “onscreen” (native resolution) test.

It’s battery life that’s the most important aspect of performance, though, and here the Pixel 2 is a bit of a mixed bag. In our video rundown battery life test, with the screen calibrated to 170cd/m² brightness and Flight mode switched on, the Pixel 2 lasted 14hrs 17mins. For reference, that’s four hours longer than the Sony Xperia XZ Premium, but slightly behind last year’s Pixel and a long way short of the Samsung Galaxy S8. But it performed well in real-world use, dipping to just 30% after a snap-happy Sunday at Kew Gardens.

Should the Pixel 2 fall flat, though, Google’s latest charges quickly. After 30 minutes of charging from zero, battery levels reached 44%, and after just 1hr and 20mins, the Pixel 2 was fully charged. It can’t quite match the OnePlus 5’s rapidity in this regard, but it’s pretty nippy nonetheless.

Google Pixel 2 review: Software and features

Software-wise, not too much has changed from last year’s Pixel. It’s running stock Android Oreo – which has made an appearance on the original Pixel – but it doesn’t include any real, impactful changes.

Picture-in-picture is the major development here, a feature focussed on multitasking that lets you keep one app, for example Netflix, in a small floating window while checking your email (or anything else you fancy) full-screen.

One of the cooler new features makes cut-and-paste much easier, through a feature called Smart Text Select. This automatically recognises items such as phone numbers, place names and addresses, making it easier to select what you need quickly with a single tap.

Buy Google Pixel 2 from Carphone Warehouse

And, finally, we have Google Lens, which is all about analysing live images rather than static ones, interpreting everyday objects like buildings, flowers and signs and providing information on them as you point the camera at them. Just like with Samsung’s own Bixby, Lens should recognise what you’re pointing your camera at and offer to perform follow-up actions on that information. I say should, because as it stands Lens struggles a bit, identifying London’s famous BT Tower as simply a “control tower” and a bottle of red wine as “liqueur”.

Google Pixel 2 review: Display

The Pixel 2 doesn’t come equipped with the same edge-to-edge 2K display of the bigger, Pixel 2 XL; instead, we’re treated to a regular 5in Full HD (1,080 x 1,920) AMOLED panel with a regular 16:9 aspect ratio, bezels and all. Have a read of my Pixel 2 XL review, though, and you’ll find that this is, in fact, a good thing.

Unlike the original Pixel, you can choose from either “standard” or “vibrant” display profiles in the phone’s settings. The former produces more accurate-looking colours, while the latter had a tendency to oversaturate colours – but not by much.

Both modes are reasonably colour accurate. The “standard” profile is the better of the two, with our X-Rite colour calibrator returning an average Delta E of 1.71 (0 is perfect) and is a much better display than the 2 XL’s display with its viewing-angle problems.

It’s reasonably readable in bright sunlight, too. A circular polarising layer helps to reduce glare while peak brightness reaches 410cd/m² . That’s not as bright as the Samsung Galaxy S8 achieves, though, so expect to do some screen shading in really bright conditions. Given this is an AMOLED panel, though, at least contrast is perfect, which means both movies and photos benefit from plenty of pop.

Google Pixel 2 review: Camera

Last, but certainly not least, is the camera. Here, we’re treated to an almost identical 12-megapixel rear snapper to last year’s, but with a wider f/1.8 aperture that has both optical and electronic image stabilisation for seriously stable shots.

Given the wider aperture, the Pixel 2’s low-light performance is simply stunning, wrestling away its predecessor’s crown in one swift strike. If anything, the colours are slightly less rich than the original’s efforts, but it outperforms its predecessor with more neutral and accurate colour representation.

White balance is slightly off, leaving us with pictures that looked slightly warmer than they should be, but there’s a noticeable improvement over last year’s Pixel. The original tended to wash over the image with a yellow-ish tint, but the same ill effect hasn’t reappeared.

Where the Pixel 2 also impresses is in outdoor shots. In good light, the Pixel 2 produced pictures with superb dynamic range and colour saturation, while the white balance was much more accurate. The Pixel really does set a brand new smartphone photography benchmark, distancing itself even further from both its predecessor and Samsung’s excellent Galaxy S8.

There’s also a handful of new shooting features too, including “motion photo”, which captures a brief section of video to go with your still shots, and a portrait mode, which replicates the blurred “bokeh” background effect you get when shooting with a DSLR.

Meanwhile, the same can’t be said about its video capabilities. 4K capture is crisp and bursting with detail, but the Pixel 2 suffers from some very odd-looking colours. Across the palate, colours are hyper-saturated, and detail capture is noticeably softer than both the S8 and last year’s effort.

Google Pixel 2 review: Verdict

Once again, Google is leading the Android charge. It might be sticking with same uninspired design as last year’s – and lacks the bezel-less display of its supersized sibling – but a much-needed processor upgrade and welcome camera improvements have seen the Pixel 2 rocket to the top of our smartphone wish list. The Google Pixel 2 is as good as Android handsets get and, arguably, as good as any smartphone on the market. You should probably buy one.

Hardware
Processor Octa-core 2.35GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 835
RAM 4GB
Screen size 5in
Screen resolution 1,920 x 1,080
Screen type AMOLED
Front camera 8-megapixel
Rear camera 12.2-megapixel
Flash dual-LED
GPS Yes
Compass Yes
Storage (free) 64/128GB
Memory card slot (supplied) N/A
Wi-Fi 802.11ac
Bluetooth 5.0
NFC Yes
Wireless data 4G
Dimensions 145 x 70 x 8 mm
Weight 143g
Features
Operating system Android 8.0
Battery size 2,700mAh

HTC U11 Plus review: HTC is back, but is this slight upgrade worth the wait?

 

The big smartphone bandwagon of 2017 was 18:9 screens, with most of the major manufacturers jumping on board. HTC missed out on the initial wave, but it’s now put that right with the launch of the HTC U11 Plus.

READ NEXT: Best smartphones of 2018

HTC U11 Plus review: What you need to know

It has a larger edge-to-edge display and a slightly bigger battery than the original HTC U11, with a lot of the same features, so it’s more a slight refresh than a total rejig. However, as we really liked the U11, that’s no bad thing.

Other than that, the HTC U11 Plus also sees slightly improved IP68 dust and water resistance and has a bigger 3,930mAh battery. As for software, Android Oreo is also available straight out of the box, although this is largely obscured by HTC’s intrusive HTC Sense overlay.

In most other respects, other than a higher price, the U11 Plus is identical to the older HTC U11: same Snapdragon 835 processor, same “UltraPixel 3” rear camera, same squeezy edges, although oddly the front camera has seen a downgrade, from 16-megapixels to just eight.

HTC U11 Plus review: Price and competition

The HTC U11 Plus is available now at the current price of £699. That’s pretty much par for the course for a new flagship phone of this size. It’s the same price as Razer’s recently announced Razer Phone (£699) and the Huawei Mate 10 Pro, although it’s £250 more expensive than the OnePlus 5T (£450) and £120 more than the Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus, which you can currently buy for around £580.

HTC U11 Plus review: Design and key features

Aside from the bezel-less display (more on that later) the HTC U11 Plus is hauntingly familiar. Unlike the model it one-ups, the phone is available in only one colour this time: Ceramic Black, with a Translucent Black design launching later next year.

As before, the rear is coated in a mirror-finish rear panel topped with glass that veers between a subtle reflective grey and a darker black, depending on where you catch the light. It’s still a marvellous sight, although I can’t say I’m not disappointed at the lack of more vibrant colour choices.

Size-wise, it’s a bit of a bulky beast as well. Compared with the Huawei Mate 10 Pro, which I’ve been using for the past couple of months, there’s more heft (10g), more height (4.3mm) and more thickness (0.6mm), too, all of which is noticeable when you pick it up; it’s a more cumbersome phone. And although the rear of the U11 Plus seems to have improved fingerprint resistance, you’ll still be cleaning constantly to keep it looking its best.

Elsewhere, both the volume rocker and power button are sensibly placed on the right edge, with the solitary USB-C port on the bottom and audio emanating from a small slot on the bottom edge and from the phone’s earpiece.

There’s still no 3.5mm headphone jack but you do get a pair of HTC Usonic USB Type-C earphones included in the box, which have active noise cancellation and ear-scanning capabilities. They’re far from the best earphones you’ll ever hear, though, with a slightly over-bassy and muddy sound to them, so it’s just as well that HTC also includes a 3.5mm adapter in the box so you can connect a pair of your choice.

Elsewhere, there’s a bigger 3,930mAh-capacity battery than the HTC U11, the phone is dust- and water-resistant to the IP68 standard, like many of its rivals are, and it has a microSD slot that doubles as a second SIM card slot if required.

HTC U11 Plus review: Display quality

As for the display, the HTC U11 Plus follows the same long, tall and bezel-free fad as its cutthroat competition and that means nearly the entire front is dominated by its 6in QHD+ display (1,440 x 2,880). Due to slightly thicker top and bottom bezels, the phone’s screen-to-body ratio isn’t quite as high as it is on the Mate 10 Pro or the Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus, though.

It’s also worth noting, too, that you can’t adjust the resolution as you can with the Samsung Galaxy S8; this is useful for smoothing out choppy frame rates in demanding games and eking out a bit of extra battery life.

Another difference between this phone and its two key rivals is that it uses an IPS-derived Super LCD panel instead of an AMOLED one and that translates here to slightly low sRGB and DCI-P3 coverage rates of 89.7% and 87.3% respectively. Likewise, colours, overall, look a touch wan and washed out.

A bigger problem, however, is the display’s brightness. I measured it at a maximum of 365cd/m2 in auto-brightness mode (it was even dimmer with adaptive brightness disabled) which means you’ll struggle to read the screen in bright conditions. The Samsung Galaxy S8, for comparison, peaks at well above 500cd/m2 when displaying an all-white screen, while the Huawei Mate 10 Pro hit 570cd/m2 and the OnePlus 5T measured 420cd/m2 at their brightest.

HTC U11 Plus review: Software and improved Edge Sense

As for software, other than the appearance of Android Oreo, Edge Sense has been updated. Yes, that squeezy gimmick from last year is now new and improved. Give it a grope and it’ll bring up a rotary wheel of shortcuts to your favourite apps, and it’s now much more customisable than before.

Otherwise, the HTC U11 Plus is as you were on the software front, with Edge Sense providing what could charitably be called “its own quirky way of doing things UI”. I don’t like the way it looks out of the box, but you can at least download themes for it to adjust the way it looks, or install something like Nova Launcher if you prefer a purer Android appearance.

The phone is also supposed to support Amazon’s Alexa in addition to Google Assistant, which would at least give the phone a unique angle but I couldn’t get it to run on my review sample at all, despite the HTC Alexa app apparently being installed.

HTC U11 Plus review: Performance and battery life

At least HTC hasn’t messed with the performance of the phone. In fact, it’s pretty much the same as the HTC U11 and every other Snapdragon-based phone on the market. There’s a Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 under the hood, with its twin quad-core CPUs running at 2.45GHz and 1.9GHz respectively, an Adreno 540 GPU and 6GB or 4GB of RAM. There isn’t much that fazes HTC’s big beast.

The only outlier is the Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus, which (as noted above) allow you to reduce the screen resolution in favour of increased frame rates. Since the HTC U11 Plus does not allow you to do this you’ll have to rely on in-game quality settings to get a smooth frame rate. Still, there aren’t many Android games demanding enough to really push the capabilities of the Adreno 540 anyway.

Battery life is pretty good, too. Although the HTC U11 Plus didn’t perform particularly well in our video rundown benchmark lasting a mere 11hrs 29mins, in day-to-day use I’ve so far been getting around a day and a half from the 3,930mAh battery. It’s early days yet, but after about a week of use GSAM Battery Monitor is reporting 1 day 12.3hrs per average charge. I’d expect to see that number fall slightly in the coming weeks, but it’s a good start and the only phone I’ve used recently that’s better than this is the Huawei Mate 10 Pro.

One disappointment is that although the Snapdragon 835 chipset supports Gigabit 4G speeds, the U11 Plus’ speed is capped at 800Mbits/sec – that’s a downgrade from the HTC U11.

HTC U11 Plus review: Camera

Given that HTC is behind the superb Pixel 2 you’d expect a pretty good camera as well. And largely that proves to be the case. The rear camera is a 12-megapixel effort with an aperture of f/1.7, which is pretty darned bright. It has dual-pixel phase detect autofocus, ensuring super snappy focus across the sensor and there’s also optical image stabilisation (OIS) and a dual-tone LED flash.

Image quality is superb. With and without HDR engaged, the HTC U11 Plus’ camera picks up superb amounts of detail, captures scenes of extreme dark and bright shades sympathetically and reproduces rich colours in low light without too much noise spoiling the show.

If I were to be picky, on close analysis the Google Pixel 2 beats it for colour reproduction and overall performance. In the outdoor comparison shots above you can see that there’s more speckly compression artifacting in the HTC’s image’s lower contrast shots. Meanwhile, in the low light indoor shots, the HTC U11+ is smearing the stuffed bear’s fur far more and introducing a touch more distracting noise in the background. There isn’t much in it, but the difference is tangible.

For video, quality is excellent with the camera recording crisp, colourful 4K footage at up to 30fps. Once again, though, it falls short of its main rivals, because you can’t record 4K footage with EIS (electronic image stabilisation) applied. The result is very shaky shots, no matter how hard you try to hold the phone still.

HTC U11 Plus review: Verdict

And that’s the story with the HTC U11 Plus as a whole: it’s good, just not great, and there are phones at least as good that cost less. The OnePlus 5T is a good example: it has a Snapdragon 835 inside, a superb dual-lens rear camera and excellent battery life, yet it costs £450 – a whole £150 less than the HTC U11 Plus.

That’s not all, though. The Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus is now available for around £580 and is a much better phone, while the Huawei Mate 10 Pro is slimmer, looks nicer, has a superior screen and beats it for battery life.

Not that there’s anything particularly wrong with the HTC U11 Plus. It’s a great smartphone that I’d happily use as my day-to-day handset, but the simple fact is that, for the money, you can do better than this.

Hardware
Processor Octa-core 2.45GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 835
RAM 6GB
Screen size 6in
Screen resolution 2,880 x 1,440
Screen type Super LCD
Front camera 8-megapixel
Rear camera 12-megapixel
Flash dual-LED
GPS Yes
Compass Yes
Storage (free) 128GB
Memory card slot (supplied) microSD
Wi-Fi 802.11ac
Bluetooth 5.0
NFC Yes
Wireless data 4G
Dimensions 58.5 x 74.9 x 8.5 mm
Weight 188g
Features
Operating system Android 8.0
Battery size 3,930mAh