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Hoping to redeem themselves after the Note 7 debacle, Samsung’s latest entry in their popular flagship S-series brings mobile firsts and some interesting changes to the mix. There’s no denying that the phone is an absolute stunner in pictures. But a pretty phone isn’t always a phone that’s good for daily use.
Reviews are rolling in on this much-anticipated release and we’ve slogged through them all so you don’t have to!
Let’s see what they’re saying!
Google’s Nexus series offered a mid-tier option for those looking for fastlane access to the best of Google’s Android operating system. However, Google never made their own handsets. Instead they handed the reins to other manufacturers and focused on the software. Until now that is. The Google Pixel is the first completely Google phone and they have made bold claims about what to expect.
The phone is finally out and reviews are rolling in. Does the Pixel have what it takes to compete with the big names in Android flagship phones? Let’s see what others are saying!
Reviews on the overall design of the phone are divided. One group feels the phone is bland. The other feels that it’s a perfect take on the designs of the other flagship phones this year. However, no one had issues with quality or comfortable usage. The Guardian noted, “The Pixel feels great in the hand, with nicely curved edges and flat sides that make it easy to grip and hold on to.” Android Police sided with the critics, saying, “The Pixel is a phone that seems to say "You're just going to put a case on me anyway, why should I dress up for the occasion?"
Quickly selling out upon release, the iPhone 7 is the next release in Apple’s famous smartphone series. While they typically followed what they called a “tick-tock” release pattern, where major updates and features changed every two releases, the 7 marks a first in that while it should be a “tick” release, it appears to be a refinement of previous releases.
As it’s also the most expensive iPhone to date, do these refinements make it worth purchasing? Reviews are rolling out and we’ve dug into them all to bring you this summary!
Four of the biggest changes to the iPhone 7 come in the design. Reviews indicate that while some are controversial they’re all improvements.
The first is the lack of headphone port on the phone. Apple provides both a pair of Lighting port earbuds and a 3.5mm-to-Lightning adapter in the box to ensure you can still enjoy your iTunes collection. In a few months, they plan to introduce their AirPods for wireless connectivity.
As the big brother to Apple’s new iPhone 7, the 7 Plus takes the iPhone series into phablet territory. With the launch out of the way, reviews are rolling in.
But which one should you pick? Let’s see what reviewers are saying!
The iPhone 7 Plus shares many traits with it’s smaller sibling. However, the differences made a huge impression on most reviewers.
The biggest change is the dual rear camera setup. While the 7 Plus includes the same 12MP wide-angle lens as the 7, it also includes a second telephoto lens. This effectively allows you to enjoy 2x zoom without any of the quality loss or noise of digital zoom. Apple also plans to release updates to allow photo effects, such as bokeh, using both lenses at the same time. Many reviewers noted that this made the extra cost of the Plus worthwhile.
Fans of Android phones have loved most of Samsung’s Galaxy-series flagships. However, with the minor issues of the S6 and a fresh wave of flagships debuting from the competition, Samsung needed to hit a homerun with the S7 to stay near the top of the pack.
While the phone might look like an S6 on the outside, Samsung has been hard at work tweaking and polishing their favorite flagship. Do the changes add up? We’ve scoured reviews from the biggest tech sites on the Internet to find out! Let’s dig in!
Huawei has slowly evolved from simple Chinese smartphone copycat to a company capable of churning out high quality products. In fact, Google used them to build the Nexus 6P. With the P9, Huawei hopes to finally become a household name.
Despite being cheaper than the Galaxy S7 and LG G5, the P9 doesn’t skimp on quality. It’s slim at only 0.27 inches. The all metal body gives it a nice heft, though it remains a manageable weight of 5.1 ounces. In terms of the design, reviewers were surprised with how comfortable it is. The straight sides seem sharp, but the chamfered edges and rounded corners made it easy to hold and the “tacky” texture thanks to the ceramic coating on the back gave them a good grip. While this design is not uncommon, The Verge states, “I look at the P9’s design, ask myself how it could be improved, and I find no easy answer.”
The Motorola G-Series has built a loyal following on its affordable pricing, bloat-free software and attention to design details. However, Motorola has changed hands from Google to Lenovo since the last release--leaving some wondering what will come of the phone line. With the new Motorola Moto G4, it seems the answer is finally here!
We’ve scoured the leading review sites to see what people are saying about the phone. Let’s take a look at what they’re saying!
Looking at the phone, you’re greeted with a plastic chassis typical of the budget- to mid-tier market. Reviewers all agree that the design is one of the best currently available for the price. The Inquirer chimed in on the look, saying, “Yes it's simple, but the smooth curves make it stylish too.”
While other companies are pushing forward with larger and larger screens, Sony's Xperia Z5 Compact is one of the few smartphones in 2015 that offers a sub 5-inch display. Despite being only 5 inches tall, it manages to be fairly thick at 0.4 inches, leading many experts to call it chunky and chubby. This slight thickness made it feel like a less than premium device to critics, which was only amplified thanks to its plastic sides. With that said, they still found it to be an attractive device thanks to the frosted glass back panel and array of color options. As well, the added thickness and rounded corners provided them with a comfortable fit.
Gracing the front of the Z5 Compact is the petite 4.6-inch, 720 IPS LCD screen. This provides a Retina-like pixel density of 323ppi. While some critics bemoan the fact that it isn't full HD, they all agree it is sharp enough for most people. Still, there are some limitations to this resolution as they were not able to watch some videos at the intended resolution. The screen did deliver in other aspects, however. They describe it as bright with good viewing angles and good color balance. Unlike larger smartphones, they were also able to use the phone one-handed easily. Some reviewers did discover it took them some time to get used to typing on the smaller screen as they had become accustomed to larger ones.
Even for Apple it can be difficult to get consumers excited about a new smartphone every year. After all, how different can the new one be from the prior year? Many reviewers considered the iPhone 6 to be a great phone, but barely an upgrade from the iPhone 5S aside from the larger screen and better camera. Apple promises that the iPhone 6S is different as noted by their marketing tagline, "The only thing that's changed is everything." At first glance, it might seem like not much has changed. The 6S looks almost identical to its predecessor except it is now heavier at 143 grams and slightly thicker at 0.3 inches. The extra padding and weight comes from the use of adoption of the Series 7000 aluminum build. This tougher aluminum frame is meant to prevent bending, an issue some experts discovered in the iPhone 6 Plus. When tested they did not notice any flex with Digital Spy going as far as calling it, "…the most well-constructed handset on the market."
The 6S has the same 4.7-inch, 750 pixel display as the 6, which disappointed reviewers. While it is technically a Retina display (326ppi pixel density) they were not wowed by the sharpness or contrast ratio, especially when compared side-by-side to the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge+. Still, they add it the screen is just as bright and colors still vibrant. What really makes the display special is the new 3D Touch technology. In essence it is a touch sensitive screen that will pull up different options/commands when users do a regular versus a firm press. While it might sound simple in theory, experts warn there is a bit of a learning curve and fine-line between a firm press and the traditional long press. Still, they add once they got used to it, they found it incredibly useful as it accessed dozens of useful shortcuts and gave them the ability to easily preview emails without going into the actual email, check links from messages and view pop-ups in their calendar.
While other phone manufacturers have turned their nose up at the stylus, Samsung has fully embraced it with their Note5 smartphone. Of course, Samsung knows a thing or two about a stylus smartphone as all their Note models ship with one. Besides this addition, reviewers consider the Note5 the least distinctive in terms of overall design. In fact, many find it practically identical to the Galaxy S6 as it has completely straights sides, flat face and slightly curved rear. At 6 x 3 x 0.3 inches, it definitely is a large device. Still, experts explain it had an overall slim feeling to it thanks in part to a thinner middle and thicker top and bottom edges. In a departure from its older models, Samsung decked out the Note 5 with metal edges and a glass back. Sadly, experts did notice the glass back attracted fingerprints, but add the issue is easily remedied with a quick wipe.
The reason for the Note5's large size is due to the 5.7-inch Super AMOLED display. With a resolution of 1,440 pixels, it offers an incredibly sharp 518 pixels per inch. As expected, reviewers had zero issues with fuzziness or pixelization. As an AMOLED screen, it offered critics crisp whites, deep blacks and vibrant albeit oversaturated colors. They also praise its overall brightness with Engadget stating, "…the screen is an absolute champ under the sweltering summer sun…I had no problem thumbing through…various photo sets."
Not sure what to look for in a mobile phone? Check out some of our in-depth guides, comparison tools, & resources!
While modern smart phones offer a ton of features, they’re not so great for battery life or durability. For emergency use, we recommend a standard prepaid phone. What they lack in features they make up for in battery life--some will hold a charge for weeks or months.
Be sure to check the top off terms. Most require you to add minutes to your plan at specified intervals to keep your phone active. Most prepaid carriers offer long-term options to avoid wasting minutes you’re not using.
Kids are prone to drops, spills and other accidents. Adding the cost of a new iPhone to your next trip to visit grandma isn’t exactly cheap. Fortunately, the budget Android market offers a long-list of affordable phones. Smaller phones will offer a lower price in most cases but might not work for those with developing motor skills. Larger phones, while more expensive, offer chunkier buttons and easier navigation for growing fingers and minds.
For young adults, a solid mid-tier smartphone option offers reliable performance without blowing your budget. Used phones are an excellent way to ensure you find an up-to-date phone without the high price tag of the latest flagship releases. Last generation’s iPhone or Galaxy offers everything a student needs at a price that will make parents happy too! If you’re not sure where to find a good used smart phone, our Phone Buyer’s Guide offers everything you need to know!
If you’re looking to replace traditional landline service, a standard phone is a great introduction to the world of mobile phones. They use a standard keypad and don’t require understanding advanced features for basic use.
If you’re looking to join the smartphone crowd, we recommend an iPhone. Not only are these devices dependable, they offer a simple user interface and support for Apple devices is some of the best around. Better still, most Apple phones feature a similar interface, so upgrading or replacing one Apple phone with another won’t mean relearning how to use the device.
In most cases, buying a phone at full price will offer the greatest flexibility in the future. However, this depends on why the carrier is offering a discount.
In the case of refurbished phones, you’re getting a discount for a returned--and possibly repaired--product. Don’t let the label scare you. As long as you’re buying from a reputable source, you’ll often find that refurbished phones come with similar warranties to new devices and cost much less. If you’re looking to save some money, this is an option to consider.
In the case of phone subsidies, you’re getting a discount in exchange for maintaining service with a specific carrier. If you know the carrier’s service and coverage fits your needs, this might be a good deal. However, a short time after the initial purchase, you’ll be locked into your contract. Getting out of a cell phone contract isn’t impossible, but it can be expensive.
While some apps offer versions for different phones, your phone’s operating system will limit your app choice. iOS apps will not run on Android or Windows 10 for example.
In the case of one-time purchase apps, you will likely need to repurchase the app if you switch phone operating systems.
Many subscription-based apps will allow you to download a version of the app for a variety of devices. However, if you intend to use a specific app, research the supported operating systems to avoid any future complications.
Yes and no. On a hardware level, you will need a dual-SIM phone to support multiple separate lines from your carrier. However, if you’re an area with CDMA network coverage, you won’t be able to take advantage of this feature.
If you don’t mind using a virtual number, there are a variety of apps to add second numbers to your phone using software. Many require additional payments and plans to function. Popular options include Skype, Sideline and Line2.
No. The features and specifications for mobile phones are determined by the manufacturer. This makes researching your phone prior to purchasing essential. If you’re not sure where to start, consider our Phone Buyer’s Guide. If you’re looking to get a little more performance out of your phone, our Guide to Saving on Mobile Data offers tips that might squeeze a little more performance out of your phone and 9 Great Uses for Your Old Smartphone or Tablet offers ways to repurpose a device that might be collecting dust.
This will depend on how you purchased your phone and your current contract obligations. If you have an unlocked GSM or CDMA phone, it should work on any other carrier using the same network type.
If your phone is currently locked to your carrier, you will need to request to unlock it before you can change providers. As long as you are no longer under contract, most carriers will unlock the phone at no cost.
Yes! In fact, we think this one of the most overlooked options for upgrading your phone or making some spare cash with your old devices. If you’re looking to sell, we have a comprehensive guide on Selling Your Used Phone for Maximum Profit.
Looking to buy? We have a section in our Phone Buyer’s Guide dedicated to what to look for in a used phone. Topics include ensuring that the phone is valid and functional, getting the best price and the best sites for finding used mobile phones.
Monthly and prepaid data tariffs add up fast. While it might seem like they’ve become a standard part of owning a mobile phone, there are still a few exceptions. If you pick up a standard phone, you’ll sacrifice some features, but most don’t require data plans. Feature phones will vary depending on the exact features that they add. Still, most carriers offer lower priced plans since the data used by feature phones is often much less than that of smartphone.
If you’re using a smartphone and you’re no longer on contract, you might be able to drop data service if you deactivate the phone and use it over Wi-Fi. Apps such as Line2 and Skype make it simple to maintain a phone number on the device without the need for traditional carrier service. However, this will mean that you no longer can make or recieve calls or text when outside of Wi-Fi range.
If you’re stuck keeping a data plan on your phone but looking for ways to reduce costs, we offer guides on finding how much data you need and saving data on your mobile phone.
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