The Smartphone Industry Needs to Take New Chances, Like Motorola and LG are Doing With Modules

With Motorola on the verge of announcing its newest phone fit with modular capabilities and LG having just come off a an opening month or two where it introduced its take on a modular phone, I think it’s clear that smartphone makers have realized that in order to survive going forward, they need to do something new. It’s time to innovate again. It’s time to take chances, offer more value in new ways, make phones more than just phones, and move beyond the simple, slab smartphone that just gets the basics right. The smartphone world needs something new, something fresh. The last thing it needs are a bunch of devices that the average consumer can’t tell apart but seem to fit a tech media narrative of what they view as success or good.

Many of your favorite smartphone makers, outside of Samsung, are struggling and have been for years. Since the early gold rush to Android supremacy four and five years ago, the industry has matured, maybe even plateaued, and made it extremely difficult for anyone to succeed. Companies like Samsung and Apple are still doing quite well as they established dominance long ago and haven’t given it up, partially because they have massive marketing budgets, but also because they keep making great products that mean something to owners of them. For companies like Motorola and LG, they can’t compete with that reputation or marketing budget by just doing the same old thing. And that right there is why I’m glad that they are both taking chances by going this modular route. (more…)

Video: Android Wear 2.0 First Look and Tour!

During Google I/O last week, Google showed off Android Wear 2.0, the biggest update the platform has ever seen. They told us to expect it later this year on consumer devices, but did push out a developer preview to the Huawei Watch and LG Watch Urbane LTE for those interested in getting their apps ready ahead of time. It’s also available for those of us who live on the bleeding, buggy edge of all things Android. Yep, that means we flashed 2.0 to a Huawei Watch to take it for a spin.  (more…)

Chromebooks Just Killed the Tablet

If you are at all considering an Android tablet purchase at the moment, feel free to stop. I say that because in a couple of weeks, Android apps and the Google Play store will arrive on select Chromebooks. By the end of the year, those same apps will arrive on dozens and dozens of additional Chromebooks at varying prices and in a variety of forms, some of which can emulate a tablet experience. This major move of Android apps onto Chromebooks from Google has all but eliminated the need for Android tablets to even exist.

Let me explain.  (more…)

Video: Huawei P9 – A Week With the New Flagship

For the better part of the last week, I have had the Huawei P9 in house for testing. That may sound odd, since we don’t typically give much coverage to phones that will never arrive in the US, but with Huawei seemingly on the verge of making a big splash here, we wanted to see what their non-Nexus flagships are like. We wanted to see if their Android skin is as bad as its reputation, if the hardware is as good (or better) than that of the 6P, and also begin to familiarize ourselves with the world’s new number 3 phone manufacturer.

The video below will walk you through all of this, but to summarize, I’ll just say this – the software is worse than expected, but the hardware might be the best I’ve held this year.  (more…)

5 Reasons the LG G5 is Worth Buying

The LG G5, even as a flagship device that might not make our top 3 smartphones of moment, is still a very good phone for 2016. It’s not the best, no, but it does have some things going for it that make it a compelling option.

In our G5 review, we talked about it all. We talked about the camera setup, fingerprint reader, battery life, swappable battery situation, modules (or lack thereof), design, and performance. We talked about why the G5, overall, is a solid phone and pointed out areas that need improving. But if you want the straight-to-the-point reasons why this may still be a phone to consider, we have that for you below.

These are 5 reasons the LG G5 is still worth buying.  (more…)

Buying an Unlocked Smartphone

I buy a lot of unlocked smartphones. In fact, as I type this, in front of me, there are eight smartphones on my desk and every single one of them is “unlocked.” Why do I buy them, you ask? For a number reasons, all of which I mentioned in this lengthy piece written about a year ago. The basics are this, though – they give me flexibility to test different networks, they often get faster software updates than carrier phones, they tend to be less expensive, and have far fewer bloatware apps than their relatives who are attached to carriers. They are the phones I will continue to choose time and time again.

With that in mind, I get the feeling that many of you are still confused as to what an unlocked smartphone is and may even need help in buying one. So today, let’s take a few minutes to talk through some of the things to look for when buying an unlocked smartphone.  (more…)

5 Reasons the HTC 10 is Worth Buying

Not interested in reading through every single word from our detailed HTC 10 review and would instead just like us to tell you five quick reasons why this latest flagship from a VR company is worth your money? OK, cool, we can do that. Actually, it should be really easy to do since this is a really, really solid phone from HTC.

Things like the design, clean software approach, potential for quickly released future updates, a solid camera, and an impressive audio experience all come to mind as reasons this phone is worth your money.

Here we go! These are the 5 reasons the HTC 10 is worth buying.  (more…)

HTC 10 Review

With the HTC 10, I get the feeling that HTC is looking for a fresh start. They are coming off of years in a row of bad smartphones, but seem to have a renewed vision or outlook now that they are a VR company. That’s only part-joke there, by the way, because I really do get the feeling that this has become a VR company who also makes phones. Just look at the lack of a big splashy press event, commercials, or other promotion for the phone outside of handing it off to a bunch of tech blogs and tweeting about their findings. And that’s not a bad thing, because HTC probably needed their focus adjusted into something other than the tough-to-compete-in smartphone market, in order to get back to making good phones again. The HTC 10, without spoiling too much, is without a doubt a really good phone.

We’ll dive into all of the details below, but HTC, with the 10, has done almost all of the things we look for in a smartphone, right. They trimmed up the software experience, will probably deliver updates to it faster than anyone else, built a phone that looks and feels equally as good, included almost all of the top tier specs, and even managed to deliver a very solid camera experience.

Let’s get into it. This is our HTC 10 review.  (more…)