Electric cars have been around for a few years now, although if we’re being technical, they’ve being around since the 19th century. But the first electric car of the modern era, and the first highway legal production all-electric battery powered vehicle was the Tesla Roadster, first developed in 2004.
When Tesla’s contract with Lotus ran out – the Roadster was based on the Lotus Elise – the company produced the first Model S in 2012. Since then, electric car sales have sky-rocketed. Note that we’re talking about all-electric cars here, and not hybrid or plug-in hybrids that combine an electric motor with a fuel-powered engine.
It’s easy to see why they’re so popular now. The range of vehicles have improved and increased considerably, so it’s now possible to go further than the end of your road before you need to plug it in again to charge up.
How do I charge my electric car?
The network of public use car chargers is increasing all the time as well. Zap-map, which keeps a live database of the number of chargers in the UK, says there are currently 4,356 charging locations nationally, with 12,333 connectors.
There are four different types of charger for electric vehicles: Slow, which connects to a standard 3-pin plug in your home. The initial rollout of public chargers used this connection too, but they’re slowly being replaced by Fast and Rapid chargers. A full charge using a Slow connector will typically take between six to eight hours.
A Fast charger doubles the amount of current supplied compared to a Slow charger, and as a result, halves the charge time to between three to four hours.
We then move on to Rapid AC chargers, which can supply up to 43kW of power to charge a typical electric vehicle to 80 per cent in around half an hour. There are currently 648 Rapid AC chargers around the UK.
Finally, there are Rapid DC chargers, which supply up to 50kW of power and can also charge a car up to 80 per cent in half an hour. There are more DC chargers around the UK than the AC variant, with 1,370 connectors at the time of writing.
Technology for home charging units has been enhanced so you can recharge the battery of most cars completely in up to nine hours. So putting it on overnight will nearly always result in a fully charged car when you step into it in the morning.
How much do electric cars cost?
The price of electric cars is now firmly in the affordable category too, with basic models costing around £13,000. The UK Government is still running an incentive scheme that will see you get up £4,500 off the price of an electric car that meets the set criteria. You can read more about the criteria for electric vehicles, and how much you could receive, on the UK Government website.
So buying an electric car is now more achievable and affordable than ever, and the range of cars now caters for all areas of the market, whether it be a city car to get easily around town, a high-performance saloon or even a seven-seater for all the family.
But what cars are available in the UK right now? Read on to find out.
- Four-seater city car
- Prices start at £33,070
- 125 mile range, top speed of 50mph
The BMW i3 certainly turns heads due to its somewhat unusual looks. But under that boxy exterior, the i3 is every much a BMW as any of its regular, fuel-powered cars. It will accelerate you to 62mph in 7.3 seconds, so it doesn’t exactly hang about and keep you going for up to 125 mile on a single charge. It can make full use of Rapid AC and DC charging, giving you 80 per cent juice in 40 minutes.
- BMW i3 review
- Four-seater city car
- Prices start at £12,495
- 93 mile range, top speed of 80mph
Citroen already has a city car in the form of the C1, but the C-Zero throws out the petrol engine in favour of a 14.5kWh battery that will keep you moving for up to 93 miles on a single charge. It offers regenerative braking, which takes the kinetic energy created under braking, and transfer it to electric power that’s stored in the battery.
Ford Focus Electric
- Family hatchback
- Prices start at £31,680
- 100 mile range, top speed of 85mph
The Ford Focus Electric is, quite literally, an electric version of Ford’s popular Focus hatchback. It costs a fair bit more than the most basic petrol powered version, but you can be safe in the knowledge that you’re helping the environment, and you have instant power from the electric motor.
There’s a Butterflies feature that’s part of a new Smartgauge service that helps you to drive more economically. The better you drive, the more butterflies will appear on the screen with the instrument cluster.
- Family saloon
- Prices start at £24,500
- 174 mile range, top speed of 103mph
The Hyundai Ioniq is available in all-electric, hybrid and plug-in hybrid variants. The all-electric version has plenty of range from a single charge to get you to most destinations, but if you do need to top up the electric tank on a journey, it will replenish 80 per cent of battery in 30 minutes from a DC charger.
Kia Soul EV
- Prices start at £29,995
- 132 mile range, top speed of 90mph
The Soul EV was the first all-electric SUV in Europe. It offers plenty of space inside, not least because it’s an SUV, but also because no space is being taken up by a combustion engine. It offers plenty of mod-cons such as heated seats, sat-nav and cruise control. The regenerative braking system really works too, to keep the range of the battery as high as possible
- Kia Soul EV: Europe’s first full electric SUV (hands-on)
- City car
- Prices from £12,995
- 79 mile range, top speed of 63mph
The Mahindra e2o make look a bit basic, but if you’re after a small city car that runs on electric power, it more than fits the bill. There are two models available: City and TechX. The latter has a £15,995 asking price but offers plenty of upgrades over the City version. You get leather seats, alloy wheels, an emergency revive system that gives you an extra 8 miles of range, a reversing camera and touchscreen infotainment system.
Mercedes-Benz B-Class Electric Drive
- Small hatchback
- Prices from £33,290
- 124 mile range, top speed of 99.5mph
If you want a bit more luxury from your electric vehicle, then the B-Class Electric Drive should be on your shopping list. Offering the same eye-catching exterior and sumptuous interior as the regular B-Class, the Electric Drive takes everything that’s great about the original car, and gives it an instant 340nM of power. However, buyers should note that it can’t be charged via a DC charge point, so the shortest charging time is around three hours with an at-home wall box.
- Small hatchback
- Prices from £21,680 plus monthly charge between £70-£113 for the battery
- 6 models
- 124-155 mile range, top speed of 89mph
The Nissan Leaf is one of the best selling electric cars available today, and has sold in excess of 12,000 units in the UK alone. It’s offered in Acenta, or higher-spec Tekna variants, along with a Black Edition that looks like a planet-saving Batmobile. The Leaf also has a companion app that lets you monitor your driving range, activate climate control and start or pause charging.
- Nissan Leaf 2016 first drive: Increased range, but not a huge change
- City car
- Prices from £12,495
- 93 mile range, top speed of 81mph
The Peugeot iOn is essentially a rebadged Citroen C-Zero. It offers the same 93 mile range, the same amount of power and the same looks. You get automatic air conditioning as standard, along with Bluetooth and USB connectivity.
We’re not entirely sure how Peugeot has gone about pricing it though. The company’s website says the car starts at £12,495, but a further look into the brochure says the on the road price is £15,995 after you get the £4,500 Government grant. You may want to quiz Peugeot over the pricing if you’re looking to buy.
- Small hatchback
- Prices from £14,125 plus £59 monthly charge for battery
- Up to 250 mile range, top speed of 84mph
The Renault Zoe is well engineered, enjoyable to drive and – although the interior has a certain eco feel – not an unpleasant thing to be in. It’s often forgotten in the sea of BMW i3s and Teslas, but as an everyday electric car, it barely puts a foot wrong. You get a decent amount of tech included in the asking price, and now that Renault has released a new battery that gives it up to a 250 mile range, it’s one of the best electric cars on the market right now.
- Renault Zoe review: Electrical engineering
- The Renault Zoe can now go 250 miles, further than any other electric car
Tesla Model S
- 7 models
- Claimed range of up to 409 miles,
- Prices from £58,800
- P100D 0-60mph in 2.5 seconds
The Tesla Model S is perhaps one of the best known electric cars available today. It marries the economic and environmental benefits of electric power, with a serious helping of luxury and speed. It also has an incredibly intelligent Autopilot mode that can keep you in the same lane on the motorway, whilst monitoring cars around you and keeping up to a decent speed. The Model S can get really expensive depending on which model and options you choose, but you’re getting an awful lot in return.
- Tesla Model S P90D review: If your robot chauffeur were a racing driver
Tesal Model X
- 7-seater SUV
- 4 models
- Prices start at £76,700
- Up to 351 mile range, 0-60 in 2.9 seconds
The Model X is the fastest SUV on the planet, and will catapult you to 60mph in 2.9 seconds, making it hypercar quick. The other talking point of the Model X is its falcon wing doors, that open up and out the way to allow passengers to easily access the second and third rows of seats. Tesla says they work perfectly in car parks too, so you needn’t worry about them hitting the ceiling and getting damaged.
- Tesla Model X preview: An SUV without compromise?
- Prices start at £31,680
- 186 mile range, top speed of 87mph
The e-Golf takes the regular, well-selling Golf, rips the engine out and replaces it with an 115PS electric motor, with a 24.2kWh battery instead. It’s 186 mile claimed range is pretty respectable, and it accepts a DC connector super fast charging at a compatible station. VW has implemented regenerative braking too, to help top up the battery when you slow the car down.
- City car
- Prices start at £25,280
- 99 mile range, top speed of 80mph
This 5-door city car comes with a plethora of kit as standard, with some extras available at affordable prices. It will get you around town with ease, and with 210nM of torque available on tap, it won’t hang about at the lights, either. Like it’s e-Golf bigger brother, the e-Up has DC charging that will recharge the battery in just half an hour.
Remember that time Apple launched an iOS app called Clips so people could go forth and pepper their social networks with cleverly edited videos? Well, you probably don’t, because it hasn’t happened yet. Soon, though! If everything goes according to plan, you’ll be able to grab it from the App Store at around 1PM (Eastern) this afternoon. In the meantime, we’ve spent a little more time with Apple’s new video-editing app. Despite its dead-simple interface, Clips is capable of some pretty impressive feats.
The broad strokes are just as we explained them the first time: hold down a big, red record button to shoot a clip, plop it into your project’s timeline, and load it up with symbols, filters and emoji for good measure. If that sounds simple, well, it is. Mostly. After all, it’s meant to sit in between the pure automation of iOS’s photo memories and the more in-depth work that comes with using mobile iMovie. And sure, you could piece together a similar video project in an app like Instagram, or a similar Snapchat store.
Clips’ surprisingly handy list of features is what sets it apart. It almost feels like Apple baked extra bells and whistles into the app to give it a leg up on other social platforms without having to build a social network of its own. While you’ll be able to piece together something interesting before long, some of the finer points take a little more time to figure out. Fortunately, you’ll be able to access a handy Help section in the app that wasn’t ready for me to look at just yet.
So yeah, after you factor in time recording clips, massaging them into the right order, adding the right effects and rendering the project into a shareable form, your first project will probably take a few minutes to complete. As it turns out, you can make things pretty damned complex: a single project can contain over 300 clips, and run for up 60 minutes. I wasn’t about to be the first person to shoot a full-length documentary with this thing, but I wouldn’t be surprised if someone took up that challenge soon. As enjoyable as the app can be, though, it definitely still feels like a first attempt.
Consider one of Clips’ most useful features: Live Titles. I loved these auto-captions when Apple first showed them off, but its shortcomings became more apparent the more I used it. Don’t get me wrong: It usually nails most of what people on camera say. Funny misinterpretations became less funny the more they happened, though, which detracted a bit from the magic of the experience. You can still jump in and edit those captions when needed; I just wished Siri was a little better at this. (The captions in my example video? They had to be heavily massaged.)
There are other spots where workflow breaks down a little bit. Despite being able to drag clips around a project’s timeline, there’s no way to drag it into another project. Instead, you have to save that clip to your Camera Roll and then re-add it to the other project. In the process, you’ll lose any of your live subtitles. You’ll also have to hold down the record button for the full duration to add those clips, which can be tedious. (It allows you record new audio over the track that was already there, which is nice I guess, but sometimes you just want to plop a clip into place.) I get Apple wanted to use that big red button everywhere for consistency, but I sometimes wondered if the designers didn’t make things a little obtuse in their search for simplicity.
Some things, however, work just as elegantly as advertised. Adding comic book and black-and-white Prisma-style filters to a clip took a single touch, and the live view was especially helpful as I framed up shots in our office. And as far as I’m concerned, the coolest thing about Clips is still how it tailors music to fit your specific creation. Remember, they’re cobbled together on the fly from collection of intros, middle bits and closers. I bounced between a couple options before choosing the jaunty, slightly inappropriate tune for my Clips opus, and it just came together perfectly. Well played, Apple.
After fiddling with Clips for a week, I’m still not the type of person to go out and make videos to blast them at friends, family and the internet at large. Despite its early shortcomings, though, Clips makes me feel like I could go out and craft something actually worth watching if I weren’t so stuffy.
It was August 2013 that Elon Musk, under pressure from Shervin Pishevar, published his white paper on the Hyperloop. Just three years and seven months later, and the world’s first Hyperloop tube has been declared ready for testing. Hyperloop One has announced that DevLoop, its Nevada test facility, has been “finalized,” and will serve as the testbed for the future of transportation.
We already knew that the DevLoop tube would be 3.3 meters wide, but the company revealed that DevLoop stands 500 meters long. When we spoke to the company’s leaders in January, we learned that there are still several issues that stand between it and a first flight. For instance, co-founder Josh Giegel revealed that getting the pod’s electronics to work reliably in a low-pressure environment was proving tricky.
Hyperloop One has often made very loud overtures to countries outside the US that are looking to redevelop their transportation. The longstanding belief is that somewhere in the UAE, probably Dubai, will be the first to build a freight or passenger Hyperloop in the real world. After all, land is plentiful, distances between cities are long and, frankly, there’s money enough to afford it.
To counter this impression, Hyperloop One has announced that it’s currently looking at 11 routes inside the US as part of its global challenge program. The routes vary wildly between a dinky, 64 miles journey between Boston and Providence all the way through to a 1,152 mile route connecting Cheyenne and Houston. That last journey, for instance, currently takes 17 hours by car, but would take just 105 minutes in the Hyperloop.
Using math, that last figure supposes an average speed of 658 miles per hour, which would take into account acceleration, deceleration and geography on the route. The fact that we’re still so close to that much-vaunted top speed of 750mph suggests that Hyperloop may live up to the hype. Not to mention that it’s taken less than four years for this technology to turn from a fever dream into a halfway realistic proposition.
Source: Hyperloop One
Just as Microsoft promised last fall, the Xbox One finally has support for next-generation audio formats like Dolby Atmos and DTS:X — provided you have a recent home theater receiver that supports them. You just have to flip on the “bitstream passthrough” feature in the console’s Blu-ray settings to get things going, which lets your receiver do all the audio decoding work.
The big difference with Dolby Atmos and DTS:X, compared to older audio formats, is that they go beyond the traditional 5.1/7.1 speaker philosophy. Instead of sending sound to discrete channels, they’re “object-based” formats that expand the sound field across all of your speakers. Notably, that includes speakers either mounted above you or with upward-firing capabilities that bounce sound off of your ceiling.
While they’re both niche formats, there are plenty of Blu-ray titles on the market that support Atmos, like Mad Max: Fury Road, Jupiter Ascending and Game of Thrones. That codec should also pair nicely with the Xbox One S’s 4K Blu-ray drive, as most UHD titles also include Atmos support. And of course, it’ll likely be something the upcoming Project Scorpio supports as well.
Blu-ray Bitstream pass-through is now live on Xbox One consoles. Reboot & select ‘Let my receiver decode audio’ in Blu-ray settings page pic.twitter.com/SWsqaGA46n
— Larry Hryb 💬 (@majornelson) April 5, 2017
The year was 2013, the company was Motorola, and the device was the Moto G. It set a new standard for affordable smartphones, offering a user experience that left the existing sea of cheap, crappy Android handsets in the dust. Years later, it seems the Moto G bloodline can do no wrong. As another generation of G emerges, can Motorola do with the G5 and G5 Plus what it does best, striking an ideal balance between hardware and price point? Of course it can.
Every year since Motorola released the first G, it’s made relatively minor tweaks to a common design language. Last year’s G4 series represented the biggest shift at the time. The domed back was abandoned in favor of a flatter, boxier shape, making for a more serious look compared to past G models. With the G5 and G5 Plus, Motorola has continued down that road to the extent that its latest smartphones bear little resemblance to their storied predecessors. But I’m not convinced that’s a good thing.
The Moto G concept has always been about putting affordability first. That hasn’t changed with this generation, but the value proposition now includes metal, a premium building material that hasn’t featured on any previous models. For me, though, this is little more than a gimmicky selling point. Motorola has been careful in its description of the new phones’ “metal finish.” That’s important because you aren’t getting an aircraft-grade aluminum unibody (which would be a significant leap in construction) but a lone metal panel that fills the majority of the back plate on both devices.
This is most obvious on the G5, as you have to pry off the back piece to get at the SIM and microSD slots. Looking at the entire rear panel inside-out, you can clearly see where a thin metal sheet has been bonded to an otherwise all-plastic frame. The G5 Plus uses a drawer to absorb all your little cards — a clever double-sided one that accepts two SIMs and a microSD, in fact — so the limited amount of metal isn’t as conspicuous. There’s also virtually no discernible difference in texture between the metal and plastic parts, which further disguises the marriage of materials.
I’ve probably labored the point enough already, but my final word would be to ignore the marketing spiel. The G5 and G5 Plus are not metal phones; they’re plastic with a sliver of metal glued to the back. That said, I don’t want you thinking they’re flimsy or fragile. Both are solid, well-built handsets that laughed off my feeble attempts to bend and twist them.
There are other things to like about the design of the G5 and G5 Plus. For starters, both are small enough that you can easily use them one-handed, with no sharp corners digging into your palm. I’m also a fan of the bold black ring encircling the primary camera and companion flash on both handsets. It reminds me of the old Nokia Lumia 1020, though it’s actually a design element borrowed from Motorola’s higher-end Z line.
On the G5, this camera enclosure is flush with the back plate, whereas on the Plus it’s elevated by roughly two millimeters. This hump is actually quite attractive, highlighting what’s arguably the phone’s only eye-catching accent. Aside from this obvious difference, the G5 and G5 Plus look almost identical. You can barely tell the G5 Plus is a couple of millimeters taller and one millimeter wider than the G5 (all in the name of accommodating its slightly larger display). The standard 3.5mm headphone jack sits on the top edge of the G5 and on the bottom edge of the G5 Plus, next to the micro-USB charging port, but that pretty much covers the exterior differences.
Whereas past iterations have been colorful and playful, this year’s models are just a bit boring by comparison. The little dimple on the back of previous Gs where the Motorola logo sat (also serving as a natural finger rest) is gone, replaced by a raised, shiny plaque that has as tendency to collect hand grime. I get that Motorola is going for a more mature look, but it lacks a certain refinement. There’s a significant amount of dead bezel framing the displays, for instance.
Furthermore, the G5 and G5 Plus don’t allow for Moto Maker customization, meaning you’re torn between either the drab two-tone gray/silver color scheme or the slightly ostentatious gold. A “sapphire blue” model has begun hitting some markets and is the best-looking option from what I’ve seen online, but it’s not widely available yet. In general, I feel the signature characteristics of the G line are progressively being eroded. The peak, for me, was the 2015 Moto G, which was the first model to offer Maker personalization and the only member of the lineage to boast true waterproofing.
The G5 and G5 Plus both sport full HD (1,920 x 1,080) LCD displays, which is the best resolution you can reasonably expect at these prices. Last year’s G4 models offered the choice of 5- or 5.5-inch panels, but this time you have your pick of either a 5-incher on the regular G5 or the 5.2-inch screen of the G5 Plus — at least you do in some parts of the world, anyway, as only the G5 Plus is sold in the US.
Bigger doesn’t necessarily mean better and I actually prefer the display of the G5 over the G5 Plus, though it’s worth noting that the latter is protected by Gorilla Glass 3 and the former soda-lime glass. Blacks are excellent on both devices and white balance accurate, but colors appear a bit more vibrant on the smaller model. You need to see them side by side to catch this slight difference, though, and colors are still nicely saturated on the G5 Plus.
This discrepancy is likely due to the fact the G5’s display has a bit more power behind it. Neither panel performs particularly well in bright sunlight. You can still check the time and read your emails, but even at maximum brightness, glare is very obvious.
The next version of Android, simply called “O” for now, is already available for developers to poke around. It would be slightly disappointing, then, if your new phone didn’t have a relatively fresh public release out of the box, which is something I’ve experienced recently. Thankfully, both Moto G5s are running Android 7.0 Nougat. It may not appear to be lightyears ahead of Marshmallow, but many of the tweaks are hidden, designed to improve performance and stability, among other things.
If you’re not familiar with the functionality specific to Nougat, there’s little to catch up on. You can now run apps side by side, similar to how the deceased Xbox One Snap feature works. Except here, running two apps on a 5-inchish display isn’t particularly useful; switching between full-screen apps typically gets the job done more comfortably. This leaves the richer notification drawer as the only genuinely useful improvement. The way it groups notifications and allows you to expand your recent emails (as an example) so you can see progressively more info after every tap is neat. This means you can do more micromanaging within the drawer, instead of having to go into individual apps.
Motorola has never been one to stray too far from stock Android, and the G5s are no exception. Better yet, the few customizations the company included are all much appreciated. Motorola’s circular clock widget, which shows the time, date, local weather and remaining battery charge is gorgeously minimalist. Also, the icon to bring up the app drawer has been removed and replaced with an arguably more natural up-swipe gesture, giving you an empty spot for another homescreen shortcut.
With one-button navigation, you can also free up space on the screen by using the fingerprint sensor as all three standard Android keys. You tap it as if it’s a normal home button and swipe left for back or right for recents.
The handy little tweaks continue on the lockscreen, should you choose to enable Motorola’s special notifications feature. Move the phone to any degree after it’s been left alone for a few seconds and the time plus a record of any unchecked notifications will briefly flash on the screen. Hold your finger on any of the bubble icons signaling something unseen, and it expands to show more info. From there, opening it fully or dismissing it is only a swipe away. It’s not a revolutionary new take on lockscreen notifications by any means; it just looks prettier than the white bars you get when you fully wake your phone.
By far the best feature contributions by Motorola are the whole-phone gestures you can enable. Without needing to unlock the G5 and G5 Plus, two successive chop motions turns the flashlight on, while two wrist twists opens the camera. They may sound gimmicky but the camera quick-launch feature is genuinely the first I’ve found myself using naturally, probably because it’s so physical (as opposed to more fiddly implementations like entering the Konami code on a volume rocker). It certainly made grabbing camera samples on both phones while strolling around London much more spontaneous.
Otherwise, the G5s run the flavor of Nougat you know and like, with Motorola slipping in only helpful additions that don’t hinder Android performance.
If there’s one thing I like about a camera app, it’s simplicity, being able to point and shoot without feeling like I should be picking a different scene mode for every snap. That’s why Motorola’s camera app is exactly my cup of tea. It boots up almost immediately and has a clean interface, with HDR, flash options and a countdown timer the only settings you can fiddle with from the viewfinder. In addition to familiar modes including panorama and slow-mo video, there’s a “professional” option that puts additional settings in the viewfinder. They allow you to manually adjust ISO, white balance and exposure — standard stuff. I’ve never been one to labor over settings when I just want to grab a quick snap, so it’s fortunate that Motorola make it easy to ignore them.
That’s because, even in the regular point-and-shoot mode, if you tap the screen to select your focal point, a little exposure slider appears around the perimeter of the reticle. It’s a stroke of genius. How often do you look at the viewfinder and question the white balance setting? Likely never. But I bet you’ve been in a situation where you frame your shot and the exposure meter picks up a bright blue sky and hides your subject in darkness.
It’s normal — auto-exposure is a fickle beast — but Motorola solves that problem with one, simple slider. Between that, the wrist-twisting quick-launch gesture and the uncluttered interface, the camera app is a joy to use. Oh, and I almost forgot to mention you can use the camera to scan QR and bar codes. Not something you’ll be doing all that often, I imagine, but it’s convenient you don’t have to install another app for this.
Though the G5 and G5 Plus carry different cameras, there’s little that separates them where image processing is concerned. Shutter and focus response are basically immediate across both devices; and even in low-light conditions, or when you force HDR mode (it’s set to auto by default), you’re only waiting an extra few milliseconds for these photos to process before you can grab your next shot. In short, both handsets lend themselves well to moments you have to be quick to capture.
Both devices have the same front-facing 5-megapixel camera with wide-angle lens and f/2.2 aperture. You don’t find many front-facers with lower resolutions than that these days, but it does the job if you’re the type who doesn’t demand selfies or video calls of the highest quality. There’s a beautification mode if you prefer your skin homogenized, an HDR mode that works as expected, and the display will double as a makeshift flash in a pinch. So, not a great number of megapixels, but all the features you might want.
The regular G5 plays host to a 13-megapixel primary camera with f/2.0 aperture and phase detection autofocus. And for a device as cheap as this, it’s a pretty impressive shooter. I recently spent time with a succession of affordable devices (for review purposes) that had 13MP cameras or better (on paper), but the G5 is on a completely different level. Images are full of detail and color reproduction is almost always accurate. The HDR mode does what it’s supposed to, adding a bit more depth to already well-saturated images. White balance is on point, and only infrequently does auto-exposure require manual correction, which is easy thanks to the reticule slider I mentioned.
Camera performance falls off in low light, but it’s not useless in unfavorable conditions. As you’d expect, shutter speed declines and images lose that crisp definition as graininess creeps in. Auto-exposure and white balance settings struggle a little more than they do in the spring sun, but in spite of all this, you can still squeeze some decent photos out of the G5 in low light. Sometimes they’re borderline good if you have a steady hand and enough contrast in the frame. Way better than I’ve experienced on plenty of phones, anyway.
Video clips filmed on the G5 are good enough, but not great. At 1080p/30 fps, you get a fair amount of detail, but focus can be a bit fidgety when panning, while the audio is muffled and one-dimensional. Auto-exposure works well and holds steady, though, which is something I often find to be problematic on smartphones. In low light, video performance stands up pretty well even if you do lose a significant amount of detail and take on a lot more grain.
The G5 Plus features exactly the same primary camera as the Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge. That is a 12MP sensor with “dual autofocus pixels” and f/1.7 aperture. And credit where credit’s due: it’s a flagship-grade camera that spits out the same quality of images as the Galaxy S7 line. Quite simply, it takes gorgeous, vivid images with heaps of detail. You can also leave the phone to take care of white balance and exposure, because it’s rarely wrong.
There are a couple of reasons why the camera on the G5 Plus is just a bit better than the one on the G5. Firstly, it takes better pictures in the macro range, with the f/1.7 aperture allowing for a shallower depth of field that results in softer background blur (bokeh). But more importantly, the G5 Plus has superior light metering and dynamic range that shows in images as improved contrast. The G5 Plus automatically employs HDR mode much more regularly than the G5, but even when you forcibly turn it off, the Plus captures more texture in any given scene.
Similarly, the G5 Plus picks up more detail and contrast in low-light situations, which is expected given the points I just covered. Images aren’t quite as grainy, but the G5 Plus also isn’t immune to slowing shutter speeds and the odd, questionable choice of white balance and exposure setting. All told, it’s a solid nighttime shooter.
Video performance is comparable across the devices. Audio is slightly crisper on the G5 Plus and focus holds steadier, but there’s no marked improvement in quality at 1080p/30 fps. Well, just a little in low-light conditions, with the G5 Plus sucking up a few more photons. The Plus is also capable of shooting 4K video, however — a feature you won’t find on the G5. Ultra HD clips are beautifully detailed, though they should be, really.
Regardless of whether you pick up a G5 or a G5 Plus, you won’t be disappointed. These are some good cameras, and not just good for the price points, either.
Performance and battery life
The Moto G5 runs on a 1.4GHz octa-core Snapdragon 430 chip and Adreno 505 GPU, while the G5 Plus steps things up a notch with a beefier 2.0GHz octa-core Snapdragon 635 processor and Adreno 506 GPU. Beyond that, there are bunch of different configurations. In the UK, there’s one G5 option with 2GB of RAM and 16 gigs of internal storage, as well as a dual-SIM, Amazon-exclusive config with 3GB of RAM and the same amount of memory. There’s just one G5 Plus variant, with three gigs of RAM and 32GB of storage.
The G5 Plus is the only handset you can buy in the US, and you have the choice between two variants. One with 2GB of RAM and 32 gigs of storage, and another with double both those values. Other territories have different builds, too, like the 4GB/32GB model available only in Asia. Storage isn’t something you need to focus on that much, since both the G5 and Plus support microSD cards as large as 128GB. And in terms of RAM, you’re probably going to want to get as much as you can afford.
It’s all about future-proofing. Choosing a G5 Plus over a G5 doesn’t just get you a faster chip — it also means your phone stays faster for longer as OS, app updates and general use begin to take their toll on performance. Similarly, more RAM simply means there’s more to tap, whether that be to support multitasking or resource-intensive apps.
I can only comment on the review devices I have on hand, both of which carry three gigs of RAM. Whether you’re jumping in and out of popular apps — from your text messages and Gmail accounts to YouTube and Chrome — or poking around the homescreen, settings menu and app drawer, both devices are extremely slick. Qualcomm’s Snapdragon processors are de rigueur for smartphones, of course, but Android 7.0 Nougat has a lot to do with this.
I’ve recently used phones with Snapdragon 430s running Marshmallow and though I felt they offered a great user experience (especially for the price), they weren’t without gremlins. But not once during my time with either the G5 or G5 Plus have I seen an unexplained hang, an app crash, a laggy response to a swipe or tap, or any other hiccup. Both devices are extremely pleasant to use, so much so that they’ve reset my expectations for how affordable phones should perform.
There are minor speed differences between them. In general use, apps that load as fast as you need them to on the G5 boot up even faster on G5 Plus, though we’re talking improvements in the milliseconds. And when you’re playing a 3D game like the zombie blaster Unkilled, both phones run it perfectly well at the highest graphics settings, but it was a little smoother on the Plus thanks to a higher base frame rate. None of my go-to games posed any problem for either device. That said, I did notice something strange when playing Asphalt 8: Airborne on the highest detail setting. The Plus definitely had the G5 beat on max frame rate, but performance was more consistent on the G5, hiding any evidence of dropped frames.
The fact Motorola has included NFC in the G line for the first time should be a good thing, and it is. Hooray for Android Pay and similar services. There’s just one problem: The useful little chip is present in the European model of the G5 Plus, but missing from the US version. Don’t ask me why they decided not to include something that has such an obvious benefit to buyers, because I don’t understand it either.
Another area where the G5s differ is battery capacity. You’re looking at a 2,800mAh removable battery in the G5 and a 3,000mAh unit hidden under the G5 Plus’ shell. Neither is big enough to get you through two days of frequent use, but they don’t exactly disappoint. The G5 Plus got me through a good day and a half of moderately intensive tapping before crying out for a wall socket. The G5 wasn’t too far behind either, and this is reflected in their battery rundown scores. Looping an HD video at 50 percent brightness, the G5’s battery died after nine hours and five minutes on average (based on several runs). The G5 Plus bested that with an average result of 10 hours and 20 minutes. They don’t break any records and will often require daily charge, but these aren’t worst scores I’ve seen.
The G5 and G5 Plus both use micro-USB for charging and data transfer instead of the newer USB-C standard. They still boast some form of fast-charging, however, though they only work when the battery is dead or close to it. It’s called “rapid” on the G5 and “turbo” on the G5 Plus, and both promise hours of use from just 15 minutes of plug-in time. In my experience, 10 minutes gets you juiced up roughly 10 to 15 percent. Charging begins to slow as the battery fills and in total, the G5 goes from dead to 100 in a little over two hours. The G5 Plus’ larger battery will achieve the same result in about an hour and 45 minutes.
This one’s simple: There isn’t any. If you’re in the market for an affordable, off-contract phone, trust me when I say you want it to be running Android Nougat. But this seriously limits your options.
In the US, the 2GB/32GB G5 Plus will set you back $229 while the 4GB/64GB version costs $300. The only phone that I’d consider in the running right now is the $250 Honor 6X. It has a comparable processor, 5.5-inch 1080p display, three gigs of RAM and dual rear cameras that let you play around with focal point and background blur, among other tricks. The only issue is that it’s still running EMUI 4.1, which is based on Android Marshmallow. An update to the latest version of EMUI, which uses Nougat as its backbone, is coming in the relatively near future, though.
All roads lead to the G5 Plus at this point and that’s even clearer if you’re an Amazon Prime member. If you can live with lockscreen ads (and I imagine you can), you can grab a 2GB/32GB G5 Plus for just $185, or the 4GB/64GB variant for $230. If you want to go cheaper, then you still needn’t look further than Motorola. Though it features slightly older components, the G4 is discounted to $180 right now on Motorola’s site (this sale ends in May) and you customize your very own through Moto Maker. The G4 is also part of the Prime exclusive program, so if you’re happy with a plain white or black model, you can snag one for a mere $130.
If you’re in any of the territories where the G5 is on sale, you might as well stop reading now and just go buy one. In the UK, you can pick up a Moto G5 for £180 (roughly $225 at the current exchange rate), and there’s no point trying to recommend anything else at that price point. Better yet, grab the Amazon-exclusive model for £190 and give yourself an extra gig of RAM to work with. Have a bit more cash to hand? Upgrade to the £250 G5 Plus.
We at Engadget probably sound like a broken record now, but yet again, Motorola is showing the industry how to make great, affordable devices. I’m not a fan of the design direction Motorola has taken with the the G line, and don’t pay attention to any mention of metal bodies — a thin metal sheet stuck to a plastic frame does not a metal phone make. Also, why Motorola released the G5 Plus in the US without NFC when it’s available elsewhere is beyond me. Surely, people would like the option of paying with their phones.
The slightly boring design and that NFC issue aside, the G5 and G5 Plus both deliver unmatched value. With this generation, the camera on both devices is a highlight; solid performance courtesy of Nougat ranks a close second. I would have loved waterproofing and a brighter display, but I guess you can’t have it all. The G5s aren’t game-changing upgrades over last year’s G4s. But when you make the best affordable smartphones around, all you really need to do is freshen up some of the components and voila! — you’ve created another excellent pair.
It’s only been a few days since President Trump signed the bill rolling back rules that kept consumer data private from internet service providers, but it looks like Democrats aren’t letting this one go yet. A few days ago, Congresswoman Jacky Rosen (D-NV) introduced a bill that would essentially roll back the one signed this week and reinstate all the consumer protections that were set to go into effect. Of course, both the Senate and House of Representatives just voted to do away with those protections, so this bill is likely going to serve more as a symbolic gesture rather than a piece of legislation that’ll actually make a difference to US citizens.
Rosen’s not the only politician looking to put pressure on the government to restore consumer privacy protection, either. Senator Ed Markey (D-MA) said yesterday that he’s leading a group of seven other democrats looking to get more clarity around how ISPs will use consumer data that’s available to them. Specifically, the group is asking AT&T, Comcast, Charter, Verizon, Sprint, T-Mobile and CenturyLink whether they will use opt-in consent to use or sell consumer information. They’re also asking what opt-out procedures are like, whether data on former customers is stored, if they make consumers pay to opt out, what the polices to protect customer data are like, and a host of other questions.
We’re seeking answers from ISPs about how Trump & #GOP rollback of #BroadbandPrivacy protections will impact you. https://t.co/ShG8CEFRlK
— Ed Markey (@SenMarkey) April 5, 2017
Whether or not Markey’s inquires will lead to actual responses from the companies in question remains to be seen; it’s also not clear what’ll be done with this info if the ISPs do respond. But it wouldn’t be surprising to see more legislation introduced like Rosen’s bill. Indeed, Markey recently told CNET that he plans to “introduce legislation that directs the FCC to reinstate strong broadband privacy rules.”
And if enough constituents let their representatives know how mad they are about the privacy rollback, those representatives might feel enough pressure to reconsider the next time a bill is brought up. There’s also the possibility of states putting their own protective measures in place — so either way, it’s worth letting your representatives know how you feel about privacy.
Via: Privacy News Online
Source: Jacky Rosen, Edward Markey
One of the Galaxy S8’s standout features is Samsung’s Bixby assistant. It not only organizes your schedule and talks to you, but also helps translate and identify items around you via the phone’s camera. It even talks to your SmartThings-compatible home appliances, and can quickly be summoned with a dedicated physical button on the S8’s left edge. But if you don’t plan on using Bixby very much, that piece of hardware becomes mostly redundant. Luckily for you rebels, the internet’s inventive community has found a way to assign that physical button to any app you wish.
To be clear, Samsung does not officially let you change the function of that button. The company told Engadget that it “do(es) not have any plans to support remapping the Bixby button.” There aren’t specific details on how this works right now, but Samsung tells us that, depending on how you press it, the key “will launch Bixby Home screen or Bixby Voice.”
If that’s not something you want to do with the button, you can use an tool called All In one Gestures to assign it to another app. Redditer Homeguy123 verified this method by trying it out on an S8 at his local T-Mobile outlet.
The Galaxy S8 hasn’t even begun shipping yet, so we can’t confirm if this DIY process causes any other glitches on the phone. Samsung told us that it has “no comment at this time on any third party activity.” If you’ve already ordered a Galaxy S8 and know for certain you want to use this button for something else, check out the step-by-step instructions over at XDA, at your own risk.
Via: The Verge
A couple of years ago, Facebook introduced M, an AI-powered personal assistant for Messenger. The idea behind M is that you could ask it to do pretty much anything — book flights, cancel your cable service and even find a plumber — and it’ll do it for you, with the occasional help from human beings. It was rolled out to just a small test market of users in San Francisco, but we’ve not heard much about it since then. Until now. Today, Facebook has announced that a version of M will finally be available to all Messenger users in the US. It’s called “M suggestions,” and it’ll essentially pop up at certain points of your Messenger conversation to recommend related content or features.
In this initial rollout phase, suggestions from M will center around just a few features: stickers, payments, location, making plans, polls and getting a ride. So if you say “Happy birthday,” M might pop up a row of stickers featuring balloons and cake. If your friend says “pay me $10,” M would then show a link to Messenger’s payments function so you can indeed send them their money. If they say “Where are you?” M would recognize the query and unveil a shortcut to location-sharing. As for events, if someone says “Yes, let’s meet tomorrow,” it’ll immediately provide a link to create an appointment. For group conversations, it might suggest a poll if people are having a hard time deciding what to do. And if they then talk about how to get to that appointment, it would suggest a couple of Get a Ride options of either Lyft or Uber.
Not everybody will see the same M suggestions; the key with M is that it’s supposed to be tailored to your particular preference or style of conversation. So if you’re not the type to use stickers, you might not ever see the sticker option. “The personalization is based on established patterns,” said Stan Chudnovsky, head of product for Messenger. “It’s the AI’s decision on what to serve and how.” The idea here is that the more you use it, the more it’ll learn about you and tailor the experience to fit your likes and dislikes. But if you don’t like M at all, you can mute it in settings.
Chudnovsky tells us that the idea of M was to do everything for a small group of people just to see what Facebook could learn from the experiment. That way the team could take the lessons it learned and then implement certain features on a larger scale. As for whether M itself would ever roll out globally, the answer appears to be no, as it would be much too resource-intensive. But something like automated M suggestions is simple enough.
Right now, M suggestions don’t appear to be as powerful as Google Assistant is in Allo, but this is just the beginning. Get ready for more features in the coming weeks and months as Facebook improves its AI smarts. For now, however, you can get a taste by updating your Messenger app on either iOS or Android as long as you’re in the US; global users will have to wait a little longer.
Over the past few years, we’ve seen the iPad go from curious experiment to Apple’s vision for the future of computing. But we’ve also seen the tablet market dry up — not even the iPad has been immune to those changes. Still, it’s hard not to look at the new, 2017 iPad as a market mover, a $329 machine meant to appeal to newcomers and old-school iPad owners in need of an upgrade. While this iPad is priced for everyone, it’s not meant for everyone. It’s not as slim as older models, and it lacks some of the really neat features that appear in Apple’s Pro line. In other words, the 2017 iPad is a no-nonsense machine. But, it’s a damned good one.
No, it’s not just in your head — this iPad feels very, very familiar. It’s as if a designer tore a hole in time itself, reached into the past to grab an original iPad Air and stuck some more up-to-date parts inside. That said, Apple wanted to keep these basic models distinct from more premium iPads, so you won’t find any Smart Connector pins on the iPad’s left side or a laminated display (more on that later).
This presents a fascinating problem for Apple and its loyalists: This iPad effectively replaced 2014’s premium iPad Air 2 as the best full-size, non-Pro tablet in the company’s lineup. That wouldn’t be a problem for some people if the 2017 iPad was as slim and sleek as the Air 2 was, but it’s not. Both pack a 9.7-inch screen running at 2,048×1,536, but the 2017 iPad’s 7.5m waistline is slightly thicker than the Air 2’s, and it’s a little heavier, to boot.
These extra millimeters and grams may be a point of contention for some in the Apple community, and to them I say, “Whatever.” Those minor changes barely registered after the first moments. (And this is coming from a guy who toted around an Air 2 until it died.) This thicker design was palatable once before, and while it’s not as technically impressive as Apple’s more recent iPads, I didn’t notice my hands, arms or wrists getting more fatigued than usual while reading Kindle books for a few hours. And there’s a plus side hidden inside this aluminum frame: Apple went with a 32.9Whr battery, which is much bigger than the Air 2’s and even a little more capacious than the original Air’s. Now, I miss the Air 2’s design as much as anyone else, but it’s nice to see a company — especially Apple — offer up better battery life, even if it comes at the expense of sleekness.
Also inside the new iPad is one of Apple’s A9 chipsets, which we first met in the iPhone 6s. It’s paired with 2GB of RAM and either 32 or 128GB of storage. And no, that’s not a typo: There’s no 64GB option available. As always, you’ll be able to shell out extra ($130, in this case) for an LTE-enabled model, which adds a few grams to the iPad’s weight. The new iPad is also home to an 8-megapixel rear camera that takes surprisingly good photos, and there’s something to using such a big screen as a viewfinder. But you’ll still look a little silly doing it, and your phone is probably the better camera anyway.
And then there are the little things. The Touch ID sensor embedded in the home button works as fast as the iPhone 6s’ — which is to say you’ll probably never have trouble with it. Oh, and Apple moved some magnets around, so most original iPad Air cases won’t work correctly with the 2017 model.
Display and sound
The 2017 iPad’s screen runs at the same resolution as the Air 2 and the 9.7-inch iPad Pro, but there are a few key differences. See, all of the new iPads Apple released in the past three years had optically-laminated displays; that is, the screen was physically bonded to the glass, leaving no gap between them. Not so with this iPad. This saves Apple some money in the manufacturing process but it keeps the iPad from feeling like a seamless window onto the digital world. That said, if you hate the hollow thunking sound that comes with tapping a nonbonded screen, maybe just stay away from this one.
You also won’t find an anti-glare coating on this iPad’s screen, either, likely another cost-saving measure that I wish Apple had reconsidered. The display itself is actually slightly brighter than the Air 2’s (500 nits, compared to the earlier models’ 400), which keep visuals nice and legible in most situations. Things get a little hairier when you take the iPad outside or into a bright room; reflections that seem dull on the iPad Pros are more distracting on this model. For an iPad that’s mostly great, this stands out as one of its most pronounced bummers.
Those compromises, while not ideal, aren’t deal-breakers considering the price. That gap doesn’t matter much when you’re looking at the iPad dead-on, where colors are bright and vivid. Viewing angles are still quite good, so (assuming you dodge those reflections) you won’t have trouble sharing videos with the people sitting next to you.
The sound, meanwhile, hasn’t changed much since the days of the Air 2. There’s a single row of speaker holes drilled into the iPad’s bottom, and the output gets plenty loud without distortion. You’ll miss out on some bass relying on these built-in speakers, obviously. But, thankfully, Apple isn’t taking a stand here — there’s still a headphone jack, so you can plug in your go-to cans.
Performance and software
While we’ve tested some faster iPads, make no mistake: Cheap or not, the 2017 model is a big step up from most earlier models. That’s all thanks to the included dual-core A9 chipset (clocked at 1.85GHz, or so Geekbench says) and 2GB of RAM, which allows for comfortable web browsing, app use and multitasking. Over my week of testing, I mostly used the iPad as a productivity and gaming machine, so I’d punctuate long stretches of email triaging and Slack messaging with a few rounds of that Elder Scrolls card game or cruising around in Galaxy on Fire 3. The iPad handled all of these tasks with only the occasional hiccup when I was trying to flummox it by rapidly jumping in and out of apps.
It just works well, and that’s a pretty big compliment. I never found myself wondering why something was taking so long to load. Our usual slew of benchmarks bear out my experience: While less powerful than either of the two iPad Pro models, the 2017 iPad showed healthy gains compared with the iPad Air 2.
|Geekbench 3.0 Multi-core||5,235||5,235||4,510|
|3DMark IS Unlimited||29,247||33,403||21,659|
|Google Octane 2.0||17,993||19,946||10,659|
There’s really not much to say on the software front — the iPad comes loaded with iOS 10.3, which should be plenty familiar by now. You can check out the broad strokes in our iOS 10 review, but you’ll now benefit from Apple’s new, more-stable file system and the ability to locate errant AirPods. If nothing else, the iPad is a capable foundation for features like split-screen multitasking.
Running two apps in side-by-side windows worked well enough on my old Air 2, but the extra power produced by the new iPad’s A9 kept everything running more smoothly. It’s clear why Apple wanted this iPad to exist. It isn’t just because the company needed a low-cost tablet to boost its bottom line; it also wanted to provide a stronger base level of performance to help iOS really shine.
More important than the software that comes on the iPad are the updates it will eventually get. With the introduction of the 2017 model, people can go out and buy a relatively cheap iPad that’ll continue to be supported for years. That’s a pretty big deal when you consider the Air 2 — the previous budget-friendly 9.7-inch iPad — is more than 2 years old. Future versions of iOS and the apps they enable will continue to tax our hardware, and a longer support window is reason enough to buy this model over an aging Air.
iPad Pro 12.9
iPad mini 4
iPad Air 2
iPad Pro 9.7
Lenovo Yoga 3 Pro
Surface Pro 4
I was concerned that Apple’s choice of chipset might have had some effect on battery life, but I shouldn’t have been. In terms of pure longevity, this is one of the best iPads we’ve tested. Consider the standard Engadget video rundown test, where we loop an HD video with the screen set at 50 percent brightness: The 2017 iPad lasted for 12 hours and 41 minutes. That’s well ahead of either the iPad Pro and the Air 2. (The only model that came out ahead was the iPad mini 4, which obviously had to drive a much smaller screen.) That’s also well past the 10-hour figure Apple trotted out once again, which isn’t exactly a surprise. Apple, after all, is notorious for low-balling its battery estimates. It holds up well when you’re doing more than bingeing on The Night Manager, too. When it came to my usual working-and-gaming cycle, the iPad stuck around for five or six days of consistent use before needing a recharge.
With a price starting at $329, there aren’t many good, direct competitors to the 2017 iPad. Devices like the new Galaxy Tab S3 are more expensive and are meant to stack up against the iPad Pro. Samsung’s Galaxy Tab S2 could be a worthy alternative if you haven’t pledged allegiance to an operating system. It packs an incredible Super AMOLED display and a surprisingly clean, if not quite up-to-date, build of TouchWiz’d Android 6.0.
If you plan to pick up a low-cost tablet for gaming, you might also want to check out NVIDIA’s Shield K1, which starts at $199. It packs a smaller 8-inch screen, but the included Tegra chipset and mostly clean build of Android 7.0 Nougat make it one of the better inexpensive tablet picks. That said, the 2017 iPad would still be our pick — it’s the most tantalizing choice for the money.
This iPad, perhaps more than any in recent memory, is an exercise in compromise. Yes, Apple has said that the iPad most clearly represents its vision of “people should get things done,” and the development of products like the iPad Pro speak to that belief. There is a time for innovation, and this wasn’t it. This time, Apple was just trying to build the best iPad it could for the masses. In that respect, it did a great job, even if the result isn’t as exciting as everyone hoped.
I feel for people who wanted something a little sleeker or more powerful: They have no other choice than to pay up for the Pro line. For everyone else, though — people who have never had iPads or people stuck with really old ones — this thing is a tempting buy that won’t let you down.
Apple today announced that its social video creation app “Clips,” announced last month, will be available on the App Store for iPhone and iPad around 10:00 a.m. Pacific Time today, as reported by Engadget.
Clips lets users combine videos, images, and music into one seamless video that can then be shared through iMessage, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and elsewhere. Users can also create animated captions called “Live Titles” using only their voice, and apply effects such as comic book filters, speech bubbles, and shapes.
Here’s a quick hands-on video from Scott Stein at CNET:
As noted by The Verge, clips have a familiar square format popularized by Instagram. Individual video clips up to 30 minutes in length can be combined to create up to an hour-long video shareable in 1080p HD.
Clips are created in a square format, and are added to a basic timeline at the bottom of the screen. You can add individual video clips up to 30 minutes long to this timeline; and the total run time of a finished Clips video can be as long as 60 minutes. It’s also created and shared in 1080p HD, if your source video is HD. This is the kind of stuff that makes it much more of a video creation app than a Snapchat competitor.
MacRumors will provide a closer look at Clips when the app launches on the App Store later today.
More First Impressions: TechCrunch, TIME, Mashable, and The Wall Street Journal
Update: Clips is now available on the App Store [Direct Link] for both iPhone and iPad, but propagation issues may be temporarily causing the app to be listed as only for iPad.
Tags: App Store, Clips
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