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16
Nov

Create interactive photos with DESCRIPIX


Sometimes you want to present a visual that has different ‘layers’ to it. While your main visual conveys on overall sense of understanding, there may be more nuanced details within the frame that you’d like to expand on. But, it can get confusing to continually switch between multiple frames to tell your story concisely.

What you’d like is to be able to “zoom in” to your frame, to show your audience the details necessary to fully state your case.

You can do just that with the app DESCRIPIX, from the French developer Vmotion. It’s a free app (with a paid “Pro” version, of course) that lets you annotate a visual (photo, graphic, etc) with text, web links, and even other photos. The key difference here is that the annotations are displayed pop-up style; hidden with different colored markers. Only by touching a marker does it bring up the full annotation. This means that you can have several annotations as-needed on a single image, without making the main visual overly busy and complicated.

A great example is the server rack in the video above. To add all the text, links, and other stuff onto this single image would be nearly impossible. But the small markers retain the usability of the main image, while offering a plethora of ancillary information at the viewer’s fingertips.

App Usability

Starting a new project….

You can download the DESCRIPIX app for free from the Play Store. Once downloaded, you’re presented with a pretty simple menu. Each main image is called a “project”. You can open existing projects, or start a new one. New projects can be either an image on your device, or you can take a new photo on the fly and start building from there.

You simply tap on a spot in your main image, and choose whether you want to add text, a web link, or a pop-up image. Once your drop your marker, you can move it more precisely with the help of a magnifier (see below), and also rotate the marker itself, to maximize its usefulness in your main image (also below).

Place the marker EXACTLY where you want it.

Customize the marker itself.

Creating these markers and annotations was pretty intuitive and pain-free. In fact it’s so easy you can get carried away pretty easily; in messing with different projects I had to teach myself to scale it back. That said, you can get pretty dense with the markers before it gets visually distracting.

The main app menu is equally minimal, with space to manage projects and individual files, share the app, and upgrade to the “Pro” version. These last two points are key, as after you create your annotated masterpiece, you need your audience to also have the app installed to actually utilize the pop-up functionality…..so sharing the app with your audience members is vital to getting what you want out of the app (obviously).
There is a ‘save to .pdf’ function, but when doing this you get what I call a ‘notes’ version of your image (very similar to a Powerpoint presenter view, with all the behind-the-scenes notation), in lieu of a polished annotated image.

Pretty clean-cut menu.

Upgrade!

The free app will only let you send fully editable versions of your projects.  If you don’t others able to mess with your presentation, you may also want to upgrade to the Pro version ($5.49), which allows the sending of read-only projects.
In the app you can directly share your project, but it goes out as a proprietary .vsaf file, so again, your recipient/audience needs to have DESCRIPIX installed for it to be of any use.

Conclusion

Overall DESCRIPIX is a fun app that could be very useful. It’s obviously main limiting factor is that the interactive files are proprietary to the app itself, so you need a good install base within your target audience for your projects to be very useful. But if you need to share multi-layered visual information to a consistent group of people, DESCRIPIX could be just the tool for the job.

Download DESCRIPIX from the Play Store here.

16
Nov

Habla español? Now Google Assistant does too, on phones at least


Si hay algo frustrante en el mundo de la tecnología para aquellas personas que no hablan inglés, es la limitación que imponen usualmente los servicios en tecnología que no hablan otro idioma además del inglés.

Esa limitación se hace mucho más evidente, cuando se evidencia que las grandes empresas de tecnología quieren que utilicemos sus Asistentes hasta en la sopa, pero cuando los vamos a utilizar nos damos cuenta de que no entiende nuestro acento extranjero cuando hablamos inglés.

Google quiere cambiar esta situación y acaba de anunciar que el Asistente de Google por fin estará disponible en español, aunque claro está, únicamente en los celulares por ahora.

La actualización llegará en las próximas semanas a algunos celulares que funcionen con sistema operativo Android 6.0 o posterior, que tengan 1.5 GB de memoria y 720p de resolución y a finales de este año, llegará a los iPhone de Apple.

Un vocero de Google nos confirmó que la actualización se limitará por ahora a los teléfonos Android, pero añade que en el futuro llegará también a las bocinas de Google como la Google Home y la Google Home Mini, aunque no se sabe exactamente cuándo.

El idioma español estará disponible en Español de los Estados Unidos, Español de México, de España y con esta actualización, también estará disponible en italiano. Según el comunicado de Google, puedes pedirle al Asistente que reproduzca tu canción favorita, que te diga la temperatura local, o incluso podrás preguntarle cosas chistosas como si sabe nadar.

La Asistente de Google ya habla francés en Canadá y Francia, alemán en Alemania, inglés en Australia, portugués en Brasil y por supuesto, inglés en los Estados Unidos, Canadá y Australia.

Sin duda es un paso muy importante y ambicioso para Google y no nos aguantamos las ganas de probar la Asistente en nuestros celulares apenas la actualización esté disponible. Por supuesto, les estaremos contando qué tal funciona este sistema de inteligencia artificial de Google.

Recomendaciones del editor

  • Google Home, Home Mini y Home Max: aquí te contamos cuál te conviene
  • El Google Home Mini podría terminar remplazando a tu Alexa
  • El Asistente de Google llega a las nuevas bocinas de JBL
  • Google abrirá sus tiendas Pop-up en Nueva York y Los Ángeles
  • Los audífonos Google Pixel Buds pueden traducir cualquier idioma en un instante

16
Nov

OnePlus 5T hands-on review


Research Center:
OnePlus 5T

Despite saying another T-version of its flagship smartphone wasn’t certain, OnePlus is back with the OnePlus 5T — a revised version of its excellent OnePlus 5 smartphone. It follows in the footsteps of the 2016 OnePlus 3T, and this approach is similar to what Apple does with its “S” revisions — the “T” denotes the phone is only a slight improvement over the original OnePlus 5. While Apple takes a whole year between these revisions, the OnePlus 5T comes just six months after the OnePlus 5’s release. In our OnePlus 5T hands-on review, we take a closer look at what’s new, and what it means to you.

Slimming those bezels

At a quick glance, it’s easy to see the biggest difference between the OnePlus 5 and the OnePlus 5T. There’s now a large 6.01-inch screen dominating the front of the phone, but the body remains essentially the same size as the 5.5-inch OnePlus 5. This has been achieved by minimizing the edges (or bezels) above and below the display panel, and squeezing the sides even closer than ever before. It’s a significant achievement, technically, and gives the OnePlus 5T the cutting-edge visual excitement the OnePlus 5 now lacks. Slimming the bezels around the screen has been a major smartphone trend this year, from the Samsung Galaxy S8 to even Apple’s iPhone X.

Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

The Full Optic AMOLED screen resolution has slightly increased to cope with the new 18:9 aspect ratio, now packing 2,160 x 1,080 pixels. The 1080p screen on the OnePlus 5 is excellent, and the 5T’s screen is just as good, with deep blacks, high contrast, and the ability to get really bright. You won’t miss the extra pixels needed to reach a 1,440p resolution, in the same way you don’t on the Huawei Mate 10 Pro, which shares the same size and resolution screen.

Fingerprints and faces

Enlarging the screen and shrinking the bezels has forced OnePlus to relocate the fingerprint sensor to the rear of the phone, and the home button has disappeared entirely. OnePlus has used the outgoing format since the OnePlus 2, and some hardcore fans may find this change controversial. We actually welcome it. Fingerprint sensors on the rear are almost standard across the Android world now, with LG, Samsung, Google, and others adopting it. The fingerprint sensor is well-placed, easy to locate without feeling around, and beyond lightning fast.

The fingerprint sensor is well-placed, easy to locate without feeling around, and beyond lightning fast.

But it’s also not the only way to unlock your phone. OnePlus has added a face unlock mode, which it describes as complementary, rather than a direct replacement for the fingerprint sensor. It’s not an iris scanner like the Samsung Galaxy Note 8, nor does it rely on a 3D scan of your face like the Apple iPhone X. Instead it’s like LG’s face unlock system in the V30, and it uses the selfie camera. The good news is it works really well. You need to hit the sleep/wake key to turn on the screen first, but it unlocks the phone lightning fast without issue every time we tried it. Security-wise, it doesn’t replace the fingerprint sensor for authenticating Android Pay, and OnePlus told Digital Trends it’s more about convenience.

Changes to the dual camera

OnePlus has retained the dual-lens camera from the OnePlus 5 on the T model, but there are some changes to the lenses. Gone is the telephoto lens and in comes a standard lens with a much wider f/1.7 aperture. The intent is for it to help with performance in low-light scenarios.

Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

Portrait mode is still available, but we’ve not had much time to test it yet. Backgrounds blur out nicely, with well-defined edges, plus pictures are no longer cropped in portrait mode, giving a wider field of view. You’ll oddly still see a 2x zoom option on the camera, but this is no longer optical, but digital zoom — so the camera is essentially cropping the image when you zoom in.

OnePlus 5T Compared To

Sony Xperia XZ1 Compact

Lenovo Moto G5S Plus

HTC U11 Life

Google Pixel 2

LG V30

Sony Xperia XZ1

Essential Phone (PH-1)

Asus Zenfone AR

ZTE Blade Z Max

Moto Z2 Force

Asus Zenfone 3 Zoom

Moto Z2 Play

Motorola Moto E4

Huawei Nova 2 Plus

HTC One A9

All this sounds like we may lose out on some great camera benefits with the 5T. Other than Portrait Mode, the only way to use the secondary lens is to be in a low-light environment. We’ll have to test it more to see how it stacks up, and whether the change is really necessary or an improvement. The OnePlus 5 camera is excellent, and we hope the OnePlus 5T can live up to it.

Similar design, same specs

The 5T’s metal body is really slim, and the curve around the edge of the body makes it very comfortable to hold. It’s still a little stunner though, and we really adore the minimalist approach. It’s not all good news though: The camera lens bulge has got bigger, and it’s a shame the fingerprint sensor looks like an afterthought. It’s not as indented as we’d like. A little attention to the design here would have only increased its attractiveness, just like OnePlus has always done with the home button on the front of the phone. Positive outlook: Changing the design radically like this has made it look less like an iPhone.

The edge-to-edge screen gives the OnePlus 5T the cutting-edge visual excitement the OnePlus 5 now lacks.

There’s only one color available: The popular midnight black. You still get a choice of either 6GB of RAM and 64GB storage, or 8GB of RAM and 128GB RAM storage. The OnePlus 5T has the same processor — Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 835 — as well as the same 3,300mAh battery with Dash Charge fast charging. The company assured us you’ll still see similar battery life, despite the larger, higher resolution screen.

More good news — the OnePlus 5T keeps the headphone jack, which is frankly surprising at a time when such a thing is becoming less common.

OnePlus’s OxygenOS software is layered over Android 7.1.1 Nougat. Before you get your pitchforks out, an update to Android 8.0 Oreo will arrive for the 5T and the 5 in the first quarter of 2018. Oddly, Oneplus will release the Oreo update for the OnePlus 3 and 3T later this year.

We like OnePlus’ software as it’s very lightweight but incredibly customizable. There’s a ton of options to tweak the layout just the way you want. Performance is also fluid and fast as we have yet to run into any issues.

The phone the OnePlus 5 should have been

The OnePlus 5T feels like the phone the OnePlus 5 should have been — it’s more of an upgrade than the 5 was over the OnePlus 3T (there was no OnePlus 4). The edge-to-edge screen is a great improvement, but we’re a little concerned the camera has taken a backwards step. We’ll find out for sure after spending more time with the device.

How much extra is OnePlus charging for the OnePlus 5T? The very good news is it isn’t much at all. In the U.S., the phone starts at $500 for the 64GB model, and $560 for 128GB. It starts at 450 British pounds in the U.K., and will also be sold with a contract through the O2 network.

In a year where at least one smartphone has topped $1,000, the OnePlus 5T looks like astonishingly good value given the hardware specifications and style. OnePlus has ignored adding in many extra features — like Daydream VR support, and artificial intelligence outside of Google Assistant — keeping the phone simple, accessible, and laser focused. It’s extremely welcome as phones become more complicated, often with little benefit to you and me.

16
Nov

The OnePlus 5T is official, on sale Nov 21 for $499


It’s time for another T.

For the observant phone geeks, the OnePlus 5T hype cycle and leaks have revealed much of what there is to know about the phone. But of course, we needed confirmation from OnePlus itself: yup, the OnePlus 5T is here, and it’s up for sale earlier than many would’ve thought. Unveiled at its first in-person launch event in New York City, the OnePlus 5T focuses on improving a shortcoming of its predecessor, the camera, while modernizing the design a bit with a move to a larger, taller display.

oneplus-5t-launch-photo.jpg?itok=tHbqnRx

Unlike the jump from the OnePlus 3 to the OnePlus 3T where the focus was purely on internal spec bumps, the OnePlus 5T marks changes in the exterior hardware and leaves the internals nearly identical. The most striking change is the move to a 6-inch 18:9 AMOLED display that’s quickly becoming an industry standard form factor. It removes a lot of excess bezel in the process, and moves the fingerprint sensor to the phone’s back. It’s arguably a more ergonomic placement, and it lets OnePlus give you more screen in a body that’s only marginally taller than the OnePlus 5.

OnePlus 5T specs

The 5T adds a few new features, and doesn’t lose anything in the process.

Beyond that larger display, things are identical — you’ll find buttons, switches and ports in all of the exact same places, and even the hardware materials and build feel the same. The internal specs carry over, but that’s not a bad thing. A Snapdragon 835 with 6 or 8GB of RAM and 64 or 128GB of storage is still great for a 2017 flagship, as is the 3300mAh battery with Dash Charge quick charging. The body still doesn’t have an IP67 water-resistance rating, but that’s simply one of those corners that has to be cut to keep the price down.

OnePlus has interestingly given up on the telephoto secondary camera after less than a year, with the OnePlus 5T’s secondary instead being a “low light” specialized sensor with the same focal length as the main camera, which remains unchanged. That second sensor is 20MP with 1-micron pixels, and lacks OIS — which on the face of it is a puzzling decision for a camera meant to enable better low-light photos. The camera app automatically switches to the second sensor in really dark situations, so expect to use the main sensor most of the time — and therefore get effectively the same photos as you would on a OnePlus 5.

Is $499 pushing the envelope of what OnePlus fans will pay?

One other interesting change is a new “face unlock” feature that’s much better than promises to be better any other we’ve seen on an Android phone but nowhere near on the same level as the iPhone X’s Face ID. It’s designed to be super-fast, but because it identifies just 100 features of your face using the front-facing camera it isn’t nearly as secure as Apple’s solution. A neat selling feature for sure, but not one meant to replace the fingerprint sensor.

The OnePlus 5T is launching on Android 7.1.2 Nougat, rather than Oreo as we originally expected. OnePlus is claiming it will have a beta version of the Oreo update ready for both 5T and 5 owners by the end of 2017, but we’ll have to wait until “early 2018” for a stable build on the phones.

We’ve finally shrugged off the whole “invite” nonsense for good, as OnePlus is once again opening up sales almost immediately. On November 21, dozens of countries get a chance to buy. Pricing has bumped modestly, slotting up to $499 (€499, £449) for the 6GB/64GB model and $559 for 8GB/128GB. That’s still a relative bargain as flagship phone prices have ballooned over $800 as of late, and even though OnePlus hasn’t changed much from the OnePlus 5 it’s easy to see this as a great upgrade for fans with a OnePlus 3 or 3T or for someone who wants to keep cost down but still get a “flagship” phone.

Press release:

Presenting the OnePlus 5T – A New View

6″ Full Optic AMOLED Display with 18:9 aspect ratio, and dual camera deliver immersive viewing experience and enhanced low-light performance in sleek flagship smartphone

NEW YORK – November 16, 2017 – OnePlus today announced the OnePlus 5T its latest premium flagship device. The OnePlus 5T is the company’s most competitive product to date, offering key hardware and software updates inspired by the active OnePlus community, including a higher resolution, 18:9 display, enhanced low-light camera performance, and numerous new software features.
“We love nothing more than offering our community the latest and greatest technology and a user experience to beat expectations,” said OnePlus Founder and CEO Pete Lau. “Once again, we’ve worked hard to refine every last detail.”

Immersive Display

The OnePlus 5T marks the introduction of a 6-inch Full Optic AMOLED Display with an 18:9 aspect ratio to deliver a more immersive viewing experience, all while keeping a form factor similar to that of the OnePlus 5. Thanks to the built-in software algorithm, the OnePlus 5T’s Full Optic AMOLED display features a new Sunlight Display that adapts automatically to harsh light to facilitate a great viewing experience. In addition to enhancing the visual appearance of the device, the larger display helps to improve the overall user experience. Users can calibrate their screens based on their viewing preferences across four different modes, including default, sRGB, DCI-P3 and adaptive.
To ensure the OnePlus 5T’s seamless front design, OnePlus moved its famously fast ceramic fingerprint sensor, which unlocks the phone in under 0.2 seconds, to the back of the device. The seamless aluminum unibody of the OnePlus 5T is both functionally and visually slim, creating a phone that is not only comfortable to hold but extremely durable. Designed with painstaking attention to detail, the OnePlus 5T continues OnePlus design’s proud tradition of refinement and total cohesion.

Dual Camera with Enhanced Low-light Performance

The OnePlus 5T comes with key improvements that enhance camera performance in low-light. The OnePlus 5T features the same main camera as that of the OnePlus 5, but boasts an improved secondary camera equipped with a large f/1.7 aperture for superior low light photography. With Intelligent Pixel Technology, the OnePlus 5T’s secondary camera merges four pixels into one, reducing noise in low-light environments and enhancing clarity.

Additional software improvements have also been added to Portrait Mode to improve noise reduction. This is accomplished through new multi-frame algorithms that compare different frames of the same scene to filter out inconsistencies and improve the overall clarity of portraits.

Android Refined – OxygenOS

OnePlus’ operating system, OxygenOS, offers a refined Android experience that is faster, cleaner and more customizable than other Android experiences. OxygenOS’ new platform enables a more streamlined software development process, resulting in faster, more consistent updates guided largely by user feedback. Newly added to OxygenOS is Face Unlock, which allows OnePlus users to unlock their phone just by looking at their device. One of the fastest on the Android market, Face Unlock uses over 100 identifiers to unlock the OnePlus 5T.
Similar to its approach to hardware, OnePlus’ approach to software is centered around an experience that is refined, efficient and minimalistic. New features are vetted by OnePlus users through channels like the OxygenOS Beta Program and only added once OnePlus is confident the features can improve the way users use their phone.

A Day’s Power in Half an Hour

First introduced with the OnePlus 3, Dash Charge is one of the fastest charging solutions on the global market and a favorite feature amongst OnePlus users. A quick half-hour charge gives the OnePlus 5T enough power for the day. By carrying more current and shifting the power management from the handset to the adapter to keep the phone cooler during charging, Dash Charge can continue to fast charge the OnePlus 5T even while using GPS or playing graphically intensive games.

Smooth Performance

The OnePlus 5T offers a smooth experience through a combination of powerful hardware and intelligent software that works seamlessly together. With up to 8 GB of LPDDR4X RAM, the OnePlus 5T can run a large number of apps in the background without a single second of lag, allowing users to switch between apps with ease. The OnePlus 5T’s dual-lane storage, based on UFS 2.1, ensures faster app loading and read/write speeds.

The OnePlus 5T takes advantage of one of the most powerful and energy efficient platforms on the market, the Qualcomm® SnapdragonTM 835. The Adreno 540 GPU boosts graphical performance, so users can play demanding games smoother than ever before.

Price and Availability

The OnePlus 5T in both the 64 GB and 128 GB (Midnight Black version) storage options will be available on OnePlus.net in the United States and in Europe on November 21st starting from USD 499 / EUR 499 / GBP 449.

16
Nov

Oreo is coming to the OnePlus 5 and 5T in beta by the end of 2017


OnePlus has been pretty good about rolling out consistent software updates to its 2016 and 2017 devices, and that’s set to continue.

The OnePlus 5T is launching on November 21, and when it does it will ship with Android 7.1.1 Nougat, not 8.0 Oreo as many expected.

PB160017_0.jpg?itok=OEHcywnA

That’s all part of the plan, according to OnePlus, as the company is treating the 5T as an extension — as essentially the same phone — as the OnePlus 5. From a software perspective, despite minor differences and a few additional features in the newer model, they are identical.

Stable Oreo builds won’t arrive until 2018.

With the OnePlus 3 and 3T currently testing Oreo as part of an open beta program, OnePlus plans to add the 5 and 5T to the same program before the end of the year. The OnePlus 5 will get it in “late November,” while the OnePlus 5T will be added to the beta in “late December” since, according to OnePlus, the software is more complicated.

Then, a few weeks later, the OnePlus 3 and 3T will receive final versions of Oreo, since they’re a fair bit ahead in terms of development. Finally, the OnePlus 5 and 5T will get upgraded to stable versions of Oreo in “early 2018.”

All told, OnePlus is confident that its 2016 and 2017 lineups will receive Android Oreo far before most other flagships, and that’s good news for current and prospective owners. Even if it’s a bit disappointing to wait until the new year for the stable Oreo build on the latest phones.

OnePlus 5T and OnePlus 5

  • OnePlus 5T hands-on preview: Relentless iteration
  • OnePlus 5T specs
  • All of the latest OnePlus 5T news
  • Join the discussion in the forums

OnePlus
Amazon

16
Nov

Amazon Echo vs. Dot vs. Tap vs. Show: Which should you buy?


Which Amazon Echo is best for you? I have no idea. But here’s how I’d approach each one.

I own too many Amazon Echo speakers. From the original Echo to the Echo Dot and the newfangled Echo Show with its screen and camera. Plus the Amazon Tap, and Echo Look, which you can’t even buy without an invitation. (And you probably shouldn’t but it, for reasons I’ll get into in a second.)

This isn’t a cookie-cutter list of all the Echo speakers and why you should buy them. Hell, a couple I think you probably should stay away from. This is a list of how I see things after having used them all for months and months. Hit the links below to jump on down to the Echo that tickles your fancy.

  • Echo Dot
  • Echo
  • Echo Plus
  • Echo Tap
  • Echo Show
  • Echo Look

Echo Dot: The best Amazon Echo for starting out

Start simple. If you’re just not sure about this whole Alexa thing and really don’t know how much you’ll get out of an Amazon Echo, it’s best to not spend a lot of money. Start with an Echo Dot.

The Echo Dot costs $49 retail, but it’s not uncommon to see it on sale for as low as $30. And at that price it’s kind of a no-brainer. Buy one and give it a go.

Another pro tip here is to buy more than one at a time. Amazon typically has deals if you buy multiple Echoes Dot at one time — $20 is the usual savings. So if you’re like me and you know you’ll want to stash a few of these around the house, save yourself a few bucks and take advantage.

See at Amazon

The redesigned Amazon Echo: A great mid-range option

Amazon has completely redesigned the basic Echo for 2017. It’s shorter than the original and more squat in stature. And you can get one clad in fabric for $99. That’s not a bad buy, and it’s what I’d recommend for someone who wants to get something better than the Dot, but still not spend more than a hundred bucks. The sound quality is decent for that price. Can you get something better? Yeah. But not for less money.

If you want to spend a little more, though, $119 will get you a new Echo with a wood veneer, or in matte plastic. I’ve found the fabric to be plenty good, though.

See at Amazon

Amazon Echo Plus: The best-sounding Echo yet

amazon-echo-plus-review-2017-12.jpg?itok

Amazon decided to keep the tried and true Echo design, but give it better internals. That gives us the $149 Echo Plus. It sounds a little better than the previous-generation Echo, and definitely better than the current 2017 model. It comes in the same matte plastic, but now you can get silver in addition to black and white.

Also new for the Echo Plus is the ability to serve as a smart home hub — if the devices you’re looking to support use Zigbee to connect. (You’re forgiven if you don’t know what Zigbee is — it’s not something an end user should ever have to worry about.) It likely won’t solve all your smart home problems, but it’s a nice little addition nonetheless.

See at Amazon

Amazon Tap: Smaller, portable, expensive

amazon-tap-press-image.jpg?itok=nyKY9Kkl

For whatever reason, this isn’t an “Echo” device. It’s “Alexa-enabled.” OK. (Maybe it’s because the “Alexa” hotword isn’t enabled by default, and instead you’re supposed to push the microphone button.) But no matter. For all intents and purposes it’s an Echo, and it’s meant to be portable.

The Tap has a charging base that allows you to just pick up the speaker and take it wherever you want. And it sounds decent. Not great, but good. Good enough for $129 retail, though? Eh, now Amazon is starting to ask a lot — particularly when you can get a portable battery base for the original Echo for just $50 and get a much better speaker for your troubles. Or you could stick an Echo Dot in this little cordless speaker and get a decent experience — again, for just $50.

Personally, I don’t really see the necessity of a portable Alexa speaker — especially since the speaker itself is going to need to be connected to the Internet at all times for the Alexa stuff to work. And hotspotting to your phone just isn’t something I want to bother with.

Your money probably is better off with any other Echo — or just a traditional Bluetooth speaker.

See at Amazon

Echo Show: Will it ever get better?

I was an early fan of the Echo Show — the potential for an Alexa-enabled device with a large touchscreen is enormous. Unfortunately, it’s yet to pan out in the first few months. The headlines you get are pure fluff, with very little actual news, if ever — and Amazon says it’s done this on purpose.

Then Google decided to not let YouTube videos play on the Echo Show — likely because Amazon’s implementation was doing so without advertising. That killed one of the few reasons I’d actually recommend the Echo Show.

And then there’s the fact that very few Alexa Skills actually take advantage of the display in the first place. It’s a novelty at this point, not a necessity — even though making video calls on the Echo Show is still a great experience.

See at Amazon

Echo Look: How much do you care about what you wear?

There’s a pretty good chance you shouldn’t buy the Echo Look. Unless you really care about fashion — to the point that you want to take a picture of what you’re wearing and send it to Amazon for cataloging and analysis — then you’ll just want to ignore this. For that’s what Echo Look is good at. It’s got a camera and its own app for taking your picture from head to toe, and it does a nice job of highlighting you while downplaying everything else.

From there it lets you flip back through what you’ve worn day after day, and you can have it compare two outfits and decide which it thinks looks better on you. (To varying degrees of success, I found.)

You very much will get out of Echo Look what you put into it. I don’t care so much about what I’m wearing, so this wasn’t really $200 well spent for me. Your wardrobe mileage may vary.

And to be fair, you can’t just go out and buy an Echo Look. You’ll have to tell Amazon you’re interested in it, and then wait for an invitation.

See at Amazon

Updated November 2017: We’ve added the newest offerings from Amazon — the redesigned Echo, and new Echo Plus. Also, we’ve downgraded the Echo Show.

Amazon Echo

  • Tap, Echo or Dot: The ultimate Alexa question
  • All about Alexa Skills
  • Amazon Echo review
  • Echo Dot review
  • Top Echo Tips & Tricks
  • Amazon Echo vs. Google Home
  • Get the latest Alexa news

See at Amazon

16
Nov

‘Bit Rot’ explained: Why your phone is slower than when it was new


galaxy-note-4-white-14.jpg?itok=aVZHnctn

Your phone was faster yesterday than it is today, and will be slower tomorrow. Bit Rot is a real thing.

Computers are kind of like people — as they age they tend to get a little slower and flaws are easier to see.

Our phones are computers shrunk down to be pocket-sized and easy to carry around. And that means as time goes by, things aren’t happening as quickly as they used to or things can get a little buggy. This is universal; it happens to Galaxy phones and LG phones and Pixel phones and iPhones and every other phone that does more than make calls and send texts. Some people say they don’t see it happening, and that’s because of why it happens and the way software is written for all the different phones out in the wild. But it is still happening on your phone right now, and always will be.

Let’s take a look at what is commonly known as “Bit Rot” and see if we can’t understand things a little better.

What is Bit Rot, exactly?

It’s a term that gets thrown around a lot by people who are into computers, and it basically means that the software is “old” and has become slower than it used to be. There are three things at play, and they’re well documented even if they’re not very easy to understand: Software Erosion, Software Entropy, and Software Bloat.

First, some outliers

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Sometimes there can be other factors, too. Data Degradation and Feature Creep can cause programs and apps to slow down, but they’re easier to explain and are a little different than what we call Bit Rot. Data Degradation is a fancy word that means your memory — either the RAM, the storage or both — is getting old. RAM and Solid State media require an electric charge and over time it can disperse more than it was designed to do. This means some of the stored bits (software bits) can be changed. When a few bits are wrong, many programs can compensate but that takes time and the programs are a little slower. When a lot of bits are wrong things pretty much stop working as intended.

Data degradation and feature creep can make your phone slower, too, but are different from Bit Rot.

Feature Creep is easy to understand. Your phone was built with a specific set of software in mind. When you get an update that adds more features, the hardware has to work harder and things get slower. Online forums are filled with people who hated a recent update on their Galaxy phone and people with older iPhones who hate the latest version of iOS. That’s because the software was written with newer and more capable hardware in mind, just like the software your phone originally shipped with was. We all love new features and updates, but the old adage “be careful what you wish for” is right on the money here.

These issues can certainly have an effect, but they’re different from Bit Rot and probably aren’t contributing much towards any slowness on our phones because we don’t keep them long enough to see it in action.

Software Erosion

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Software Erosion is the slow but steady deterioration of performance that can happen to any software, whether it’s something we use a lot or just a little. Or even never. This happens because we use the software and all applications change when they’re used — we add user data to the base so that the software does what we want it to do. Note that this is different than software getting slow or buggy while we’re using it a lot but goes back to normal with a restart. That’s usually due to small errors accumulating over time or a memory leak. You can’t fix Software Erosion by closing and re-opening an app or restarting your phone.

All software has bugs and all software needs regular maintenance it never gets.

There are two different types of Software Erosion, dormant and active. Dormant software erosion happens when a program or parts of a program you don’t use stop working well because other things changed, and active erosion happens because of changes while you’re using it. Both types happen because of a few different reasons.

  • Unused or leftover code can (and often does) contain bugs that don’t get caught.

All software has bugs, no matter what a developer of user says. When a company changes some code there’s a very good chance some of the original code is never going to be used but is still built into the final product. Bugs here aren’t as likely to get caught and can have an immediate effect or one that takes a while to show up.

  • Changes because the software isn’t user-friendly happen a lot.

A developer builds software with a specific idea of how we will use it, but once it gets into our hands we often don’t use it that way! Sometimes this isn’t our fault and software has a poorly implemented interface so we do things a developer never thought we would. Other times it is our fault and we do things like make multiple accounts or run multiple instances of an app or function that wasn’t designed to run that way. This can leave user data or cached data that is more difficult for an app to process.

  • Lack of updates and maintenance are bad.

Any developer will tell you that the job isn’t finished once the program is published, and software needs to be maintained. This means fixing bugs users find, but also frequent updates to work well with other software. Lack of regular maintenance across the board is the biggest cause of Software Erosion.

The “Android” that runs on your phone is actually a big group of independently running programs and services that need to communicate with each other constantly. An example: Facebook makes another change on their servers, then updates the app in Google Play. Your Contacts app ties into Facebook, so it might need an update. Or your camera gets an update but the gallery application that’s tied to it doesn’t. All the parts of the system need to work with all the other parts, and that means regular maintenance.

The good news here is that a lot of Software Erosion problems are fixed with a factory reset where all the user data is wiped. The bad news is that it all comes back eventually.

Software Entropy

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All software that we can’t change has bugs and unused code (see above). These bugs will probably stay unchanged over time, but can get worse as the complexity of software we can change increases. This is called Software Entropy.

The software you change affects the software you can’t change because the system itself gets more complex.

Most of the software on your phone is in a closed system. You might be able to update the keyboard or camera app from the Play Store, but the bulk of the operating system is installed at the factory and only changed with a full system update. This is very different from all the apps, both factory-installed user apps and ones you installed yourself. The software you can change gets more complex over time and the software you can’t change has to deal with it.

The people who wrote the software on your phone are pretty darn smart when it comes to all of this. But nobody can know the things we’ll do, what new apps will be capable of doing, and how apps designed for one set of APIs (application programming interfaces), for instance, Samsung’s APIs from their software development kit, will work with apps designed for another set of APIs, like the ones from Google that are part of Android. The developers have to do their best to guess and make the software in a way that won’t break and hope for the best.

There are two ways to fight Software Entropy — regular software maintenance through timely updates, or resetting the user software back to the factory state.

Software Bloat

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This isn’t what the name suggests, though extra bloatware apps can and do cause things to run slower. Software Bloat when talking about Bit Rot means software that is filled with extra or unused features.

The more features added to any program, the more complex it will be. Complexity makes applications slower.

“Extra” features are impossible to define. Apps, or parts of apps, that I don’t use are extraneous to me, but you might use and love them. From a computer’s point of view, the only good application is one that does only one thing then closes itself once finished. This is impractical from a user point of view; imagine a keyboard app that closed after each letter was typed. The companies that make the phones we love have to find a happy medium between features and performance by using the right hardware or cutting back on features in apps. That could mean adding more RAM and using a faster processor or trimming features from an app, or both.

Another part of the “extra” features is software that has to be able to handle multiple (and often competing) standards. Your email applications are a great example of this. If you use Gmail and use the Gmail app, things are a lot more streamlined than they would be if you’re using the other email app with a Gmail account, or an Exchange account, or something like a Yahoo! POP3 account. The Email app has to be able to do things the Gmail app can’t, and has to be able to handle the different types of data we create. This takes time to process and as we add more data it takes more time.

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Perhaps the best example of “extra” features and how they affect performance would be comparing Evernote and Google Keep. If you only use the app to take notes, all the extras in Evernote mean it takes a lot more time to add or read them. If you like those extra features, you’ll quickly find that Google Keep just can’t do most of them. There is no right or wrong here, but this does have a big impact on performance.

Unused “leftover” features can still run and cause problems, and our phones are filled with them.

Unused features are more frustrating because we don’t know they are there and we couldn’t do anything to change things if we did. When a company like LG (we’ll pick on them here, but this applies to every company making phones, even Google) makes a phone with their own apps that are duplicates of “stock” android apps like the phone dialer or the calendar, there is a lot of leftover code that isn’t being used. Some of the code still runs when you start your phone, too. We’ve talked about how this means bugs will be harder to find in that portion of code, but it also can have a big impact on performance. And when Software Entropy is factored in we see how those bugs can get worse and worse over time.

When you see silly arguments in comments about how a phone like the Moto G5 is faster than a Galaxy S8 with half the hardware power, Software Bloat is why.

So what does all this mean and what can I do about it?

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That’s an easy question — it means that some phones are slower than others and some phones get noticeably slower over time while others are less affected. And there’s not really anything we can do about it.

More features mean slower software and more opportunity for Bit Rot to happen. It’s a trade many gladly make.

Real talk — a phone like the Note 8 is noticeably slower (and shows it when attached to tools that monitor performance) than a Pixel 2. The Note 8 will get even slower six months or so down the road. But the Pixel 2 will never be able to do some of the things a Note 8 does, no matter how many apps we install or how we hack the crap out of it. I can annotate a screenshot with the S Pen immediately after I capture it on the Note 8, but on the Pixel 2, I have to share the screenshot to another device to annotate it with the same level of features and detail.

Like the Evernote vs. Google Keep argument above, what’s better is largely a matter of features that you like. The Note 8 has all the features. This means it has all the bugs and software bloat that makes Bit Rot more noticeable. This could be a problem for you, but for others, it’s not because there is no other way to get the feature-set. This is why there are more Android phones than just a Pixel and Pixel Plus and what everyone means when they say Android gives you a choice.

And when Bit Rot ever becomes enough of a problem that you need to do something about it, just factory reset your phone and take a few hours to set everything back up.

Questions?

Sound off in the comments below!

16
Nov

OnePlus 5T specs: 6-inch display, Snapdragon 835 and new low-light camera


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Everything inside the latest from OnePlus.

Unlike the jump from the OnePlus 3 to the 3T, moving from the OnePlus 5 to the 5T focuses on exterior changes and leaves the internal specs near identical. The same core components of the processor, RAM, storage, battery and charging remain. The only notable changes are the screen size, fingerprint sensor placement and switch to a secondary camera that focuses on low light performance rather than a telephoto lens.

Here’s everything you’ll find inside the OnePlus 5T.

Operating system Android 7.1 Nougat
Display 6-inch Optic AMOLED, 2160×1080 (18:9 aspect ratio)
Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 octa-coreAdreno 540 GPU
Storage 64/128GB UFS 2.1
RAM 6/8GB LPDDR4X
Rear camera 1 16MP (IMX 398), 1.12-micron pixels, f/1.7Dual LED flash, 4K 30 fps, 1080p 60 fps, 720p 120 fps video
Rear camera 2 20MP (IMX 376k), 1-micron pixels, f/1.7
Front camera 16MP (IMX 371), 1-micron pixels, f/2.01080p 30 fps video
Battery 3300mAhNon-removable
Charging USB-CDash Charge
Water resistance No
Security One-touch fingerprint sensor
Connectivity 802.11ac Wi-Fi, 2×2 MIMO, Bluetooth 5.0, aptX HDUSB-C (2.0), NFCGPS, GLONASS, BeiDou, Galileo
Network 3xCA, 256QAM, DL Cat 12, UL Cat 13FDD-LTE Band 1/2/3/4/5/7/8/12/17/18/ 19/20/25/26/28/29/30/66TDD-LTE Band 34/38/39/40/41TD-SCDMA Band 34/39HSPA Band 1/2/4/5/8
Dimensions 156.1 x 75 x 7.3 mm162 g
Colors Midnight Black

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16
Nov

OnePlus 5T hands-on preview: Relentless iteration


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The march of innovation never ends.

OnePlus has perfected a strategy over the last two years. Rather than expanding its product portfolio, it simply takes its flagship phone and iterates on it, adding subtle features and updating the design, while sticking to the core principles of having fantastic specs for the money. And in the past two generations now, that has included a mid-cycle refresh of its phone with a “T” variant. Understanding that the diehard fans don’t wait to wait a whole year for a new phone, for fear of having “old” tech in their pocket, OnePlus stays on the bleeding edge by giving a six-month refresh with a few key changes and a small price bump to match.

Comparing the OnePlus 5T to its immediate predecessor, the OnePlus 5, isn’t all that exciting. But watching OnePlus relentlessly iterate with one phone after another, unceremoniously killing off its predecessor in the process, sure is. Here’s what OnePlus has to offer in the 5T.

Moving look

OnePlus 5T Hands-on video

Some things are best conveyed with video. To see the OnePlus 5T in action, you’ll want to watch our hands-on preview above. When you’re finished, continue on for all of the details!

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What’s the same

OnePlus 5T Carryovers from the OnePlus 5

Let’s just lay it out from the start: about 90% of the OnePlus 5T is identical to the OnePlus 5. I’ll get into the specifics of what has changed below, but despite those subtle proportional differences the core materials and build quality are identical to its predecessor. The aluminum slab of a frame is near-featureless, with rounded sides and almost no texture to help you hang on to it. Even though the 5T is slightly different in size the ports and switches are all in the exact same places — the headphone jack and Alert Slider both remain, thankfully.

Let’s just lay it out from the start: about 90% of the OnePlus 5T is identical to the OnePlus 5.

The spec sheets for the two phones are also identical. A Snapdragon 835 processor runs the show, supported by either 6GB of RAM and 64GB storage or 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage once again. A 3300mAh battery provides the power, and the 5V/4A Dash Charge charging system refills it. But beyond that, you’ll find all of the same finer details, down to the same radio bands and connectivity options. This is, in every respect, the same platform inside.

OnePlus 5T specs

The OnePlus 5T is still running Nougat, barely changed from what’s on the OnePlus 5 today — there are a couple subtle launcher changes and a new gesture in the camera app, but no wholesale redesigns or feature additions. Funnily enough, the OnePlus 3 and 3T are actually a step ahead of the 5T in one respect, as it has an early look at the Oreo update through its beta program already, which is the software that will be coming to all phones from the OnePlus 3 onwards by the end of 2017.

OxygenOS is still great — one of my favorite manufacturer customizations of Android — but it continues to be a head-scratcher why OnePlus doesn’t time new software releases to coincide with new hardware. With so much shared between the 5 and 5T in terms of hardware and specs, it would’ve been a nice little differentiator to see the new phone also debut new Oreo software and at least have that head start going for it.

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A few tweaks

OnePlus 5T Hardware changes

So, what is different? Well, the few changes that have been made actually have an influence on how the potential buying public will perceive the OnePlus 5T. Unlike the OnePlus 3 to the 3T last year, the company swapped out the display to completely change the look of the front of the device.

You simply get more screen in the same body — it’s a win-win.

Gone is the “old”-looking 5.5-inch 16:9 panel, replaced by a 6-inch 2:1 panel instead. It’s a near-identical Optic AMOLED screen, with very similar tuning, colors and brightness, and though it isn’t a mind-blowing panel like the Galaxy Note 8 it also doesn’t have any notable flaws that’ll put you off at first glance. The bigger display necessitated the reduction of the top and bottom bezels to keep the phone manageable in the hand, and it definitely still is. The OnePlus 5T is just marginally taller than the 5 and the same width and thickness, so you simply get more usable display in effectively the same footprint — it’s win-win.

That necessitated the removal of capacitive keys below the display, which was a long-held nod to the enthusiast crowd that traditionally loves OnePlus phones. But alas, it’s time to let go — I see a not-so-distant future where no phones have capacitive keys, and it’s beautiful. The fingerprint sensor also moved, of course, repositioning to the rear where many of the same enthusiasts happily use it on phones like the Pixel 2 XL. It’s still a super-fast sensor, and it has an ergonomic placement that makes plenty of sense — it also lets you swipe on it to lower the notification shade. Nice.

Those smaller bezels seem to have had a direct correlation to the camera bump on the back of the phone growing in thickness, as there just wasn’t as much room to jam everything above the display. It’s still a dual camera module and is the same width and height, but sits higher off the back and provides for a bigger wobble when the phone is on a table. A subtle difference, and one you probably wouldn’t notice unless someone told you.

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Camera changes

OnePlus 5T A few feature additions

The remaining changes and differentiators with the OnePlus 5T are extremely subtle, and they have to do with the cameras.

It seems as though OnePlus wasn’t happy with the OnePlus 5’s secondary telephoto lens, as it has scrapped it just a few months in with the 5T. The secondary camera remains, but it now has the same focal length as the primary camera. The sensor itself has changed, though, to a Sony IMX 376k (from IMX 350) and the lens is now f/1.7 to match the primary. That new sensor is still 20MP with quite small 1-micron pixels and doesn’t have OIS — which isn’t typically a recipe for success in bad lighting even though OnePlus claims the second sensor is “tuned” for low-light photography.

I think everyone would trade Portrait Mode for better photos out of the main camera.

You can’t explicitly switch to that secondary low-light camera, so it only comes on automatically — and early indications are that it only enables in really dark scenes. The secondary camera is shaping up to once again be more of an afterthought than a point of strength, just like on the OnePlus 5, leaving me leaning toward being upset that the main camera didn’t pick up any improvements. Yes that dual lens approach lets OnePlus do its Portrait Mode shots, but that’s about it — and I think just about everyone would trade that feature for better photos from the primary camera.

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Over on the front side, OnePlus hasn’t changed anything about the camera hardware — a 16MP Sony sensor with f/2.0 lens — but has managed to leverage something in it for a fresh feature: Face Unlock. Though this is far from what Apple is doing with Face ID, OnePlus is claiming (and initially, delivering) much better accuracy and speed than Android’s longstanding built-in “Trusted Face” unlocking.

Face Unlock works by using the front camera to identify 100 reference points — but not depth information — in your face, and works entirely locally to the phone without storing a complete picture of your face. It starts working the moment you press the power button (or double tap the screen to wake it), and it unlocks extremely quickly — almost unsettlingly so. To that point, OnePlus isn’t making any claim that Face Unlock is particularly secure, and is positioning it as a good offering for someone who doesn’t typically want to deal with secure lock screens. If you want to keep things locked up tight, you still need to use a password or fingerprint.

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Relentless iteration

OnePlus 5T First thoughts

The OnePlus 5T in itself isn’t very exciting. It isn’t even much of an improvement over the original OnePlus 5. But with the way that OnePlus operates, it doesn’t really matter. You can’t buy the OnePlus 5 anymore — and the new 5T is simply a better version of that phone for a starting price that’s just $20 higher. To evaluate the OnePlus 5T properly, you have to see how it stands on its own, and what it offers as a complete package for $499 at the end of 2017.

Anyone who was intrigued by a OnePlus 5 a month ago will be happy with the 5T, that’s for sure. And if you’ve been holding onto a trusty old OnePlus 3 or 3T it offers a great upgrade proposition — once again simply offering a newer and better version of the phone you have now. The OnePlus 5T, with its full spec sheet and solid hardware, still compares favorably to the rest of the market even as its price took another small jump. Provided people aren’t put off by the idea of OnePlus continuously refreshing its flagship phone every six months at the expense of the prior model immediately becoming obsolete, it’s poised to have the same success as its other flagships have up to this point.

We’ll have full impressions of this phone in our complete review — look for it here in the coming days!

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16
Nov

OnePlus 5T vs. OnePlus 3T: Should you upgrade?


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The iterative march can make it tough to know when to upgrade.

The average OnePlus phone owner likely upgrades faster than owners of other brands, but even they have limits. Most won’t drop the money to get a new phone every six months … but jumping up every year is totally reasonable. With the release of the OnePlus 5T there are a whole lot of OnePlus 3T owners eyeballing this upgrade who understandably passed on the quick jump to the original OnePlus 5 while their own purchase was still nice and fresh. And there are probably many OnePlus 3 owners feeling the same way, not wanting to wait another half a year for whatever succeeds it.

Whether you’re hanging onto a OnePlus 3 or the slightly upgraded 3T, we want to give you the information you need to know if the OnePlus 5T is a worthy upgrade at $499.

What’s the same

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OnePlus has held a pretty amazing consistency in its flagships from the original OnePlus One up to today’s 5T. Though the exterior of the OnePlus 5T looks quite different from the 3 or 3T, the core experience of using the phone hasn’t changed all that much. Android 7.1 Nougat on the OnePlus 3 and 3T is near-identical to what ships on the 5T, and all three phones are slated for the Android 8.0 Oreo update by the end of 2017.

The core experience of using the phone hasn’t changed much from the OnePlus 3 to the 5T.

Performance, too, is extremely consistent between the phones. Though the OnePlus 3 may seem “old” to phone nerds, its Snapdragon 820 processor and 6GB of RAM are more than capable of pushing this nimble OxygenOS software and all of the latest apps at nearly the same pace as a Snapdragon 835 and (potentially) 8GB of RAM on the latest OnePlus 5T.

Beyond the software being displayed on the screen, the core hardware experience hasn’t changed much either. We’ll talk about the design changes below, but when you think about the basic hardware features — like ports, buttons, speaker, radios, etc. — you’ll find few discrepancies between the previous generation and the latest. Again, it’s worth remembering that even the OnePlus 3 isn’t particularly old at this point, and when it was released it had most of the latest and greatest internals — they’ve aged well.

What’s different

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The most obvious difference with this upgrade is the change of hardware design. OnePlus is using the same simple, solid and efficient hardware in the 5T as it did back with the 3, but it’s much more sleek and refined in 2017. The OnePlus 5T has a bit more character, more polish and more style when set next to the generic-looking OnePlus 3. The feel isn’t much different between the two, but looks are important.

There’s no doubt the OnePlus 5T feels like a far more ‘modern’ phone.

The same goes with the view from the front, where the 6-inch 2:1 display on the OnePlus 5T just feels more modern compared to the larger bezels surrounding a 5.5-inch 16:9 display on the older phones. And it isn’t just for looks: you get the benefit of more usable screen space in effectively the same package, too, and the fingerprint sensor is just as usable on the back of the phone. The Optic AMOLED display panel itself isn’t notably improved from last year, but getting more of it in the same basic package is a win-win.

We’ve established that the OnePlus 5T doesn’t necessarily have a huge lead in terms of performance today compared to the older phones, but its newer specs certainly give it a longer runway into the future. The Snapdragon 820 holds up just fine today, but how about in another year? It won’t feel the same as the 5T’s Snapdragon 835. And that brings up a larger point about the future of software on these phones: the OnePlus 3 and 3T are likely done with official software support following the Oreo update, while the 5T will see at least the “P” release in 2018.

The 5T’s specs aren’t game-changing today, but they will help a ton going forward.

The one clear point of differentiation in terms of specs and their actual effect on your daily use right off the bat will be when talking about battery. The OnePlus 3’s 3000mAh capacity is of course 10% smaller than the 5T’s 3300mAh, but the newer phone also has a much more efficient processor on board to make better use of it. That’s a real-world improvement you’ll see in battery life day after day. Now when talking about the OnePlus 3T with its 3400mAh capacity, you won’t see much of a difference — you can’t argue with that extra capacity.

The camera comparison between these phones is a bit of a mixed bag as well. You can quite easily argue that the OnePlus 5T’s newer sensor, secondary lens for low light and Portrait Mode as a complete package is better overall than the single 16MP camera on the OnePlus 3 and 3T. But in many shooting conditions that old camera — with its optical image stabilization — is going to do an admirable job that’ll compare favorably to the OnePlus 5T. Yes the newer phone has more features, but in terms of raw shot-to-shot photo quality OnePlus just hasn’t made massive strides in the last year.

Should you upgrade?

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As you can see, OnePlus hasn’t made huge improvements in features or performance when comparing the OnePlus 5T to even the original OnePlus 3. But that really is more of a testament to how well the OnePlus 3 has held up over time than the OnePlus 5T being unattractive on its own. OnePlus takes a relatively conservative approach, and isn’t particularly willing to throw out features or specs with the new phone — it instead refines in some areas and adds in others to give you a better phone with each generation.

This isn’t a ‘sure thing’ sort of upgrade, but you can find reason for it — and it may not be expensive.

When you look at things this way, it’s easy to say that your can be happy with your OnePlus 3T or even OnePlus 3 at the end of 2017, choosing to not drop the extra money on a new OnePlus 5T that isn’t a substantial upgrade. Yes the hardware is nicer, the screen is larger and the specs give you more runway for the future; but today you’ll get almost the same experience using a OnePlus 3 as you do on the OnePlus 5T.

The one thing making this upgrade decision interesting is how well OnePlus phones seem to hold their value on the used market. Browsing OnePlus listings on popular trade site Swappa shows OnePlus 3s still selling for over $200, and 3Ts often snagging upwards of $300. That’s a solid return on a phone that’s at least a year old, and gets you about half way toward your new OnePlus 5T, should you decide to upgrade.

If you’re willing to sell on your OnePlus 3 or 3T, you can hop onto the latest and greatest from the company for what comes out to a modest investment. And in doing so, you’re getting a phone with a longer runway into the future and the same great day-to-day OnePlus experience you already know and love.

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