In 2016, if you aren’t Apple or Samsung and you make smartphones for a living, you need to find new ways to stand out or you may not be around for long. This industry is tougher than ever and has become increasingly difficult for anyone to sell enough phones to remain (or become) profitable. For Motorola, they think that could all change through modularity and the idea that a smartphone can be improved depending on the situation, thanks to swappable hardware.
With the Moto Z and Moto Z Force, Motorola has introduced phones that are not only high-end devices with top-tier specs, they are also compatible with Moto Mods, a line of modules that attach to the backs of each via pins and magnets that could help improve an audio experience, battery life, etc. Motorola may not be the first to usher in the era of modules (that would be LG), but they more than likely are the first to at least get it close to right.
Over the past week, we’ve spent time with both the Moto Z DROID and Moto Z Force DROID, the Verizon versions of Motorola’s new phones, to see if 1) they are any good at being high-end phones, and 2) if this Moto Mods deal is worth your attention and investment. I took on the Moto Z, which you’ll find out all about below, while Tim has the Moto Z Force. You can read his review right here.
This is our Moto Z DROID review. (more…)
Introduced as the Moto Z Force DROID Edition, now launched sans Edition, the Moto Z Force DROID could be described as a follow-up to last year’s DROID Turbo 2, but it’s much more than that. On paper, the Moto Z Force DROID attempts to bring the best of specs and modular functionality into a single device, offering a big battery and stellar camera to get people excited for this year’s lineup of DROID phones. Combine all this tech nifty-ness into an incredibly thin body and you would think Moto and Lenovo are positioned to have themselves one very popular device.
The Moto Z (DROID) and Moto Z Force (DROID) were announced on June 9, meaning we have had quite a long time to get unexcited about these devices, but putting the delayed launch aside, let’s find out how they fare after a week in our pockets.
Here’s our Moto Z Force DROID review. (more…)
After what I can only describe as a confusing 2015 for OnePlus, the upstart Chinese manufacturer is back for 2016 with another flagship phone. This time, though, the hypetrain has departed, there are no gimmicky feature trollouts per week, promises of it destroying 2017 phones are no where to be found, and that f*cking invite system that stayed around for far too long, might be gone for good. Oh, and that phone is the OnePlus 3, a phone that on paper, stacks up with the best without any major sacrifices and even has NFC. Yes, NFC is here.
I’ve spent the better part of the past three weeks with the OnePlus 3 in hand and can’t help but nod in appreciation or congratulation to OnePlus. There just aren’t any glaring issues with this phone, nor is OnePlus doing and saying a bunch of annoying things to turn us off. They, for lack of a better descriptor, seem to have done a great job. Let’s talk about it all in greater detail.
This is our OnePlus 3 review. (more…)
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…)
After Samsung finally took design seriously in 2015 by incorporating copious amounts of glass and metal into phones like the Galaxy S6, they left LG as one of the last major phone companies to still produce all-plastic flagships. LG caught some flack for it with the launch of the G4, so for 2016, they introduced the G5 as their first all-metal phone.
Along with the metal body, LG managed to keep their popular removable battery feature while attempting to usher in an era of modularity through phones, by offering up modules that could potentially add-on functionality on the fly. The idea could mean big things in the future, but the G5 and its couple of modules are here now. In other words, we are going to judge them today. LG also went with a dual-camera setup to give its users more flexibility when taking photos, a move that may have led to a questionable design.
I’ll say this, though, you’ve got to give it up to LG in the risk department because they certainly took some this time around. Did they pay off? Let’s find out.
This is our LG G5 review. (more…)
I reviewed the Galaxy S6 Edge last year, coming away impressed overall with Samsung’s design, camera, and display technology. There were a few shortcomings, such as battery life and the usefulness of the Edge Panel, but as Samsung announced when they introduced both the Galaxy S7 and the Galaxy S7 Edge, most of the problems I had with last year’s device have been addressed. There’s a bigger battery, they completely reworked Edge Panel, and even threw in water resistance and expandable storage as a bonus. On paper, this should be the ultimate phone.
I will say, the Galaxy S7 Edge is much like the Galaxy S7, so instead of diving deep into features that have already been touched on in Kellen’s review, I will attempt to primarily speak about features specific to the Galaxy S7 Edge. Don’t worry, there’s still plenty to talk about.
Here is our Galaxy S7 Edge review. (more…)
In 2015, Samsung finally took design seriously. By doing so, they created a line-up of Galaxy S and Note phones that featured metal frames and glass panels with jewel-like appearances, on top of next-level specs. The S6 series, along with the Note 5, were nothing short of amazing. They were all, without a doubt, phones that few could match up to not only in 2015, but maybe even beyond. It was the first time we were able to look at a phone (or phones) and realistically say, this phone might be better than phones released a year from now. OnePlus claimed they were making the 2016 flagship killer, but in reality, it was Samsung.
Now that we are in 2016 and Samsung’s first two flagship phones are out – the Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 Edge – one has to wonder if Samsung has bested their previous efforts? Or better yet – has Samsung done enough from last year to this year? After spending the past couple of weeks with the Galaxy S7, I can safely say that they certainly have in many ways. The Galaxy S7 fixes all of the issues we had with the Galaxy S6, yet still puts forth an even better overall design.
As I mentioned, I have had the regular S7 and am about to tell you all about it. If you were looking for the full Galaxy S7 Edge review, Tim will have that shortly. Edit: Our Galaxy S7 Edge review is now ready. You can read it here.
For now, this is our Samsung Galaxy S7 review. (more…)
The BlackBerry Priv is, in my opinion, the most important phone of the year. That’s not something I say lightly. The Priv gets so many things right and has a uniquely beneficial experience that you can’t get on any other device, but like every other phone there are flaws. Is the Priv the phone of the year or just another nail in BlackBerry’s (née RIM) coffin?
This is our BlackBerry Priv review. (more…)