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6
Feb

What is Windows Polaris?


Since the release of Windows 10 in 2015, Microsoft has made it clear that it wants to move away from its past style of operating system releases and towards a new, more singular and unified approach. It’s already brought together its desktop Windows 10 OS with Windows 10 Mobile, and Xbox Live infrastructure — and Polaris could be the next step in that trend.

But what is Windows Polaris? Although we don’t know for sure just yet, as Microsoft hasn’t made any sort of official announcements, the general line of thinking is that it’s the PC component in Microsoft’s future Windows strategy. Windows Core OS will act as a base for all future Windows iterations. We’ve had hints that Andromeda OS will be the version used in mobile, which could be used on a future Surface phone. Meanwhile, Polaris could be the one you run on your desktop or laptop.

Windows Core OS

The main element that’s needed to make Windows Polaris a reality is Windows Core OS. It’s been hinted at by anonymous sources and reports since the latter months of 2017 and is the baseline operating system that Polaris and other iterations will likely be built on top of.

The idea behind Windows Core OS is to turn Microsoft’s aging Windows platform into something far more modular so it can react more swiftly to changes in the market. Where OEMs looking to build new devices at this time have to opt for pre-packaged versions of Windows, possibly containing features they don’t need, Windows Core OS would make it so that new versions could be crafted specifically for devices without much effort.

Windows Core OS would mean that any new form-factor of device could have its very own Windows operating system with all and crucially, only, the features it needs. That should in turn speed up battery life, performance, and make the whole experience easier to understand for the casual user. In that way, they wouldn’t be unlike the operating systems that have come to dominate the mobile space in recent years.

Microsoft began to move towards this ideal back in 2015 when it unified its kernel and OS core across all Windows devices. UWP apps served through the Microsoft Store are another component of that plan. With those elements in place, the last piece of the Windows Core OS puzzle, as per WinowsCentral, is Windows CShell. It lets Microsoft and device makers overhaul the look and feel of its operating system for specific devices, without having to rebuild it from the ground up.

It could even allow models to shift between UIs depending on their usage at the time — a little like how Microsoft’s already existing Continuum feature works.

Once those components of Windows Core OS are in place, Microsoft is said to be planning to release a multitude of variants off of that baseline, each known as separate “composers.” One of those is said to be called Andromeda, designed for the mobile space, while Polaris is thought to be the one aimed at traditional Windows PCs of various form-factors.

Polaris benefits

Even if Windows Core OS may be a form of Windows that more commonly mirrors the streamlined mobile operating systems like Android and iOS, Microsoft hasn’t forgotten about the desktop and laptop market. Indeed, according to Windows Central, Polaris is Microsoft’s attempt to strip back all of the legacy elements of the Windows experience to shed some fat and become far better for it.

By stripping out some of the legacy components that make the modern Windows operating system so compatible with hardware and software of yesteryear, it should operate faster, especially on lower-end devices. Its security will also be improved and we could see better battery life on portable devices as well.

Aimed more towards casual users and possibly built as a successor to Windows 10 S, Polaris will likely make itself easier to manage through a simplification of settings and back-end systems. A new UWP version of the Windows File Explorer should make navigation easier for those who haven’t been brought up on decades of Windows usage. Likewise, the Settings App would replace much of the typical functions of the Control Panel, making accessing certain backend functions more intuitive.

What will be lost?

A major component of all that streamlining though is removing functions and features that have been part of Windows for multiple versions. While that’s great for casual users who didn’t need advanced or legacy features anyway, for those more versed in Windows usage, there could be some notable absences from Windows Core OS and Windows Polaris specifically.

The traditional File Explorer and Control Panel could be just the tip of the iceberg. Certain apps like Microsoft’s Paint and Notepad could be lost, alongside things like fax support. There’s even talk of Win32 app functionality being removed, making it so anything not built using Microsoft’s UWP wouldn’t function.

While it seems unlikely that Microsoft would remove that functionality entirely — the suggestion is virtualization and cloud-streaming could allow legacy apps to still run on Polaris — Microsoft has been very keen to push people towards the Microsoft Store. There are obvious benefits to that kind of ecosystem and Android and iOS have leveraged their own application marketplaces successfully for years, but that’s not likely to be a ‘feature’ of Polaris that appeals to everyone.

How do you get it?

For now, you don’t. Polaris is very much an internal development project at Microsoft with no official anything. Although there has been some suggestion that it could see the light of day in 2019, that’s far from certain.

Should Polaris make an appearance at some point in the future though, it won’t be forced on anyone. Thought likely to run alongside traditional Windows 10 systems rather than instead of, Polaris would be something that manufacturers could offer for entry-level systems, or as a customizable option for consumers. Certain market segments with specific needs, like education and enterprise, could also be potential audiences.

Due to the way Polaris is designed off of a new baseline Windows ecosystem too, it’s unlikely that there will be an upgrade path to or from Windows 10 as it exists now. That separation may please Windows users who want the full control offered by a more traditional Windows operating system, but it would be interesting to see how that effects uptake. Existing editions of Windows 10 have taken years to overtake the beloved Windows 7 install base. Polaris could take far longer if only new devices can support it.

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6
Feb

HGST drives top Backblaze HDD reliability report again, surpass Seagate


Cloud backup provider Backblaze has once again released its hard drive reliability report and the results are similar to last time. HGST has once again proven to be the most reliable hard drive manufacturer of those used at the backup company, even beating out parent company Western Digital. Seagate however, despite being a popular choice at Backblaze, fared far worse.

For nearly the past five years, Backblaze has been recording hard drive statistics at its data centers, noting which drives failed, when they died, and how long they lasted. Backblaze’s sample size of thousands of drives means it gives us solid, actionable data in its reports, which is why when it notes that some manufacturers make much more reliable drives than others, it’s noteworthy.

That’s certainly the case following this latest report. In the fourth quarter of 2017, just 22 of 23,265 HGST drives failed. Extrapolating that data over a full 12-month period, the worst failure rate Backblaze expects of its HGST drives is 0.45 percent.

That same annualized failure rate for Western Digital drives was slightly worse, though with a sample size of 662 drives, those statistics are not quite as compelling.

Seagate’s statistics however, paint a far grimmer picture. Although the most popular drives used by Backblaze, with a total of 67,787 drives tracked by the study, it also saw the highest failure rates. In the case of one of the 8TB Seagate drives, 44 failed from around 14,000, equating to an annualized failure rate of 1.22 percent. Other annualized failure rates saw two percent and even nearly three percent in one category.

Although other drives had estimated rates of as high as 29 percent, those were far smaller sample sizes, so are arguably not as accurate.

It’s not all bleak for Seagate however. Although its drives did experience the highest failure rate of Backblaze hard drives in the last quarter, drive reliability does appear to be gradually improving. While the number of 6TB Seagate drives used by Backblaze has remained constant for the past three years, the failure rate has fallen from 2.2 percent to 0.7 percent. Western Digital has also seen improvements with its 6TB models.

HGST has been consistently the most reliable over the years though, especially at the 4TB level, wherein each of the past three years it has achieved a sub-one percent failure rate.

If you’d like to look at more data from Backblaze, its entire back catalogue of reliability tests is archived on its website.

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6
Feb

Painter Essentials 6 brings traditional paints to a faster digital canvas


Corel’s Painter mimics real paint mediums on a digital interface from the strokes to the way the “brush” even runs out of paint — and the new Painter Essentials is bringing more of those features to a simplified user interface. On Tuesday, January 6, Corel launched Painter Essentials 6 with enhancements to brush technology, boosts in performance, and additions previously only available on the pricier version of the software.

Like the predecessors, Painter Essentials 6 is designed with traditional art mediums in mind. Brushes from chalk and pencil to oils and watercolors are designed to behave like the real thing — digital artists can even mix the paint colors together like with the physical paint palette. When pairing the desktop software with a tablet, the program is also pressure-sensitive to the stylus (and flipping the stylus around automatically swaps to eraser mode). Along with starting from a blank canvas, Painter Essentials 6 can also convert a photo to a paint style, or, for more control, users can paint in the details of the image with the different photo cloning brushes.

While a focus on the physical paint medium was part of the software family’s focus from the start, Painter Essentials 6 brings a few new features to the line. For those traditionally inspired brushes, the dynamic speckles or paint splatters are improved. Drip and blend options have also been enhanced.

“The big thing that separates Painter is the natural media — it really mimics traditional media, emulating real-world strokes,” Corel’s Digital Arts Product Manager Chris Pierce said during an early demo of the software.

Painter Essentials 6 also includes a handful of tools designed to speed up the editing process — a mirror mode will create the other half of symmetrical drawings automatically in real time. A kaleidoscope tool will similarly repeat brush strokes across multiple plane lines.

The sixth iteration of the beginner-friendly paint program also sees a 1.3 to 1.5 times speed improvement over the previous version. Pierce says that brushes will run faster, without a delay when painting, and that users of the old version will notice a significant difference in speed. Mac users will also notice some improvements with enhanced operating system support.

The program’s workflow also sees some improvement, Pierce says, while keeping the focus on creating a paint software that’s simple for beginners. A new welcome screen means newbies can start right with a tutorial, a gallery for inspiration, or go into a photo edit or blank canvas.

Painter 2018 remains Corel’s paint flagship, but Essentials users can now purchase additional brush packs to expand the options, a feature previously only found in the more advanced software. Corel is also adding the option to upgrade from Corel Painter Essentials 6 to Painter 2018 for a discounted price of $230, a move that Pierce says gives beginners trying out the basic program room to grow into the advanced version.

Corel Painter Essentials 6 is available for both Mac and PC, along with offering compatibility with Adobe Photoshop, including preserving layers. The software retails for about $50 as a one-time purchase.

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6
Feb

Apple leads tablet market as detachable devices continue their rise


The report of the International Data Corporation (IDC) on the health of the tablet market is out, and it brings with it very few surprises. Apple continues to dominate the tablet market, shipping almost as many tablets in the final quarter of the year as the second and third place manufacturers (Amazon and Samsung) combined. While sales of 13.2 million units (m.u.) only comes out to a 0.6-percent rise over last year’s 13.1 m.u. in the fourth quarter, Apple still saw an increase in sales over the whole of 2017, with sales rising 3 percent from 42.6 m.u. to 43.8 m.u.

However, the real winner in the fourth quarter and across 2017 has to be Amazon, who saw sales rise by an amazing 50.3-percent in the fourth quarter of 2017 compared to the same quarter of 2016, overtaking Samsung for second place, and seeing an increase over the year of 38 percent. Not yet enough to overtake Samsung’s sales throughout 2017, but certainly enough to worry Samsung for 2018.

Amazon’s success is likely down to dominating much of the low-end tablet market, offering its Fire tablets for a significant discount over the holiday period, and attaching its Alexa voice assistant into the devices. Huawei too had a good year, overtaking Lenovo in both the fourth quarter and in terms of annual sales to take over the fourth place position on the tables.

Despite these success stories, the overall tablet market saw a decline this year, falling 7.9 percent in the fourth quarter and 6.5 percent across 2017. However, it’s not all bad news, as within the tablet ecosystem sales of detachable tablets (tablets designed to work with detachable keyboards) continued their rise, with sales climbing by 1.6 percent over 2017. While this is a drop from the 24 percent growth seen in 2016, analysts put this lack of growth down to the delay in the launch of 2017’s Microsoft Surface device. They also warn that while the high-end range is well accounted for in detachable tablets, a solid mid range is what’s required to ensure further growth in this area.

“With the first wave of Windows on ARM products expected to begin shipping in the second quarter of 2018, we believe the detachables category has the potential to continue its growth trajectory,” said Lauren Guenveur, senior research analyst for IDC devices and displays. “Many of these products are being introduced at the premium end of the market. What remains glaringly sparse, and needed, are strong players in the mid-segment of the market.”

While old-fashioned “slate-style” tablets continue to sell, primarily as a means of consuming media more efficiently, the rise of detachable tablets may indicate tablets are increasingly finding a role as productivity machines, thanks to their slim profiles, light weight, and powerful hardware. The report warns that while some manufacturers like Lenovo are all too happy to follow the trend towards detachable tablets, others would be wise to increase their efforts in that space, judging by its growth. Huawei, in particular, could be in for a rude shock in the future should it not heed this advice.

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6
Feb

Rumored Chrome UI update could use darker grays to make it look cleaner


A second generation of Google’s “Material Design” user interface overhaul for the Android operating system is rumored to be in the works, with the suggestion that it could be darkening colors and tweaking iconography. The purpose of the update, if it is enacted as it appears, would be to improve readability on devices, as well as tweak the way Android responds to touch inputs.

The original Material Design user interface was implemented in 2014 with the launch of Android Lollipop. It introduced a clean color palette and subtle physics to give the Android OS and associated apps more of a real-world feel. Google has made it easier over the years for other developers to adopt the design choices, too. Although little is known about a successor, a few mentions on the Chromium Gerrit do suggest that Material Design 2 is being actively developed.

None of the changes noted are drastic, as XDA-Developers explains, but they would lead to a subtle alteration in how Android looks. Specifically, grays and reds would appear slightly darker, as well as changes in the layout and size of certain interface elements. They also change aspects of the standard Chrome toolbar, making it brighter than the existing light gray color scheme, and in fact nearly white.

On a more functional level, Google also appears to be tweaking the way touch support works with the Chrome web browser on Chrome OS. There are references to touch optimization elements within the Material Design 2 notes, though they don’t go into any detail.

All of this is mere speculation at this point, because no official announcement has been made by Google regarding the Chromium commits and Material Design 2. However, shortly after this story first broke, the original commits were made private, which would suggest they weren’t intended for public release. That doesn’t necessarily mean they are legitimate, but it adds a little more weight to the idea that Google has something up its UI design sleeve.

When you consider too that 9to5Mac received tips just over a year ago about a potential successor to Material Design, it seems quite likely that at some point in the future Google will be making some subtle but substantial changes to how Chrome looks on various devices.

According to the tip we received last year, the goals of this supposed Material successor are to increase readability and efficiency, and minimize clutter. It’s the “cleanestimplementation of a natural UI yet.”

— Stephen Hall (@hallstephenj) February 5, 2018

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6
Feb

Rumored Chrome UI update could use darker grays to make it look cleaner


A second generation of Google’s “Material Design” user interface overhaul for the Android operating system is rumored to be in the works, with the suggestion that it could be darkening colors and tweaking iconography. The purpose of the update, if it is enacted as it appears, would be to improve readability on devices, as well as tweak the way Android responds to touch inputs.

The original Material Design user interface was implemented in 2014 with the launch of Android Lollipop. It introduced a clean color palette and subtle physics to give the Android OS and associated apps more of a real-world feel. Google has made it easier over the years for other developers to adopt the design choices, too. Although little is known about a successor, a few mentions on the Chromium Gerrit do suggest that Material Design 2 is being actively developed.

None of the changes noted are drastic, as XDA-Developers explains, but they would lead to a subtle alteration in how Android looks. Specifically, grays and reds would appear slightly darker, as well as changes in the layout and size of certain interface elements. They also change aspects of the standard Chrome toolbar, making it brighter than the existing light gray color scheme, and in fact nearly white.

On a more functional level, Google also appears to be tweaking the way touch support works with the Chrome web browser on Chrome OS. There are references to touch optimization elements within the Material Design 2 notes, though they don’t go into any detail.

All of this is mere speculation at this point, because no official announcement has been made by Google regarding the Chromium commits and Material Design 2. However, shortly after this story first broke, the original commits were made private, which would suggest they weren’t intended for public release. That doesn’t necessarily mean they are legitimate, but it adds a little more weight to the idea that Google has something up its UI design sleeve.

When you consider too that 9to5Mac received tips just over a year ago about a potential successor to Material Design, it seems quite likely that at some point in the future Google will be making some subtle but substantial changes to how Chrome looks on various devices.

According to the tip we received last year, the goals of this supposed Material successor are to increase readability and efficiency, and minimize clutter. It’s the “cleanestimplementation of a natural UI yet.”

— Stephen Hall (@hallstephenj) February 5, 2018

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6
Feb

Japan just launched the smallest rocket to carry a satellite into space


Though Elon Musk might disagree, bigger isn’t always better, at least not when it comes to breaking records. Over the weekend, Japan launched a miniature satellite by way of a modified SS-520 “sounding” rocket. This marks the second attempt the nation has made to launch the little satellite into space, and its first success. More importantly, however, it also marks the world’s smallest rocket to ever successfully place a satellite in orbit. The payload, TRICOM-1R, has a mass of just seven pounds, making the entire mission a rather diminutive (but no less important) one.

The rocket behind the satellite, the SS-520, was initially designed as a sounding rocket, which means that it’s meant to take measurements and perform experiments during sub-orbital flights. It’s capable of reaching altitudes of just over 500 miles, and so is not quite so high as other more powerful rockets. Over the weekend, the SS-520 made its fourth flight, nearly 20 years to the day after its maiden voyage. The rocket first took off on February 5, 1998, and later carried out an ionospheric research mission in December 2000. It then took a 17-year hiatus, and did not see the skies again until its unsuccessful mission last year. Upon investigation, it appeared that the issue was a poorly protected electrical connection that caused the failure.

When it launched on February 3, 2018, however, all systems were go. The rocket managed to deliver TRICOM-1R into space about seven and a half minutes after liftoff. The satellite carries both a store-and-forward communications payload as well as five small cameras to take pictures of Earth. It measures just 4.6 by 4.6 by 13.6 inches, including its antennae.

The launch of the satellite was actually Japan’s second in 2018 — it earlier sent an Epsilon rocket into space from Uchinoura for that purpose last month. The nation’s next orbital launch is expected to take place later in February, making 2018 a rather busy year for the country’s space program.

As for the SS-520, the rocket is next expected to launch as part of a suborbital ionospheric mission from Svalbard. So while all eyes today may be on the launch of the enormous Falcon Heavy, the SS-520 is here to prove that you don’t always need to be the biggest to be successful.

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6
Feb

France outlaws texting while driving, even when you’re at a red light


We know you’re not so reckless as to still be texting while you’re driving, but now, the French government is looking to be even more sure that this dangerous habit is eliminated for good. A court in the European nation has ruled that it is illegal for drivers not only to text while driving but basically to text while they’re in the car at all. Even if you’ve pulled over, stopped at a red light, or have your hazard lights turned on, you better not have your smartphone in hand. If you want to run the risk, you could be looking at a fine of up to 135 euros, or about $167.

Anytime you aren’t parked in a designated parking lot (or your own driveway), your phone now has to be put away in France. In addition to the fine, French drivers will also face three points on their driving license for three years (think of it as a demerit), which is the same punishment doled out to folks who are caught actually texting while driving.

But before you cry foul and say that the laws have gone too far, you might consider the challenges France has faced in attempting to make their roads safer. Road mortality in the nation has been on the rise for the last three years in a row, which marks the longest period of continued increase since 1972. In 2016, the death toll resulting from motorist accidents reached 3,469. We should point out, however, that this is still markedly lower than numbers in the U.S. — in 2016, the number of reported casualties at home as a result of car accidents was 40,000.

As such, it comes as little surprise that governments are doing everything they can to reduce injuries and fatalities in whatever ways they can.

Of course, there are a few exceptions to the rule. If you’re driving in a car with Bluetooth audio (or any other hands-free method), you’re welcome to make calls or otherwise operate your smartphone, as long as you can do it with only your voice. And naturally, if your car breaks down on the side of the road, you’re not forbidden from taking out your phone to call for help.

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6
Feb

Samsung’s new sensor mixes hardware and software, enabling cheaper dual cameras


The bokeh effects and low light capabilities of dual camera smartphones will soon be easier to find — and without spending so much. On Tuesday, February 6, Samsung announced an Isocell Dual image sensor designed specifically for midrange and budget smartphones.

Dual camera designs are typically included in the pricier smartphones because two cameras means twice as much to implement into not just hardware, but the software as well. Samsung explains that, in order to implement dual cameras, the manufacturer of the device needs to optimize not just the cameras, but the software, and also must work with different vendors in order to make those two cameras a reality.

Samsung’s latest dual-camera sensor, however, attempts to address the difficulty of implementing dual lenses — because it’s not just a sensor. The latest Isocell Dual is an entire camera module that has both the necessary hardware and the software already optimized for those cameras. Samsung says the new option is an industry first for combining both hardware and software into a single solution and should help manufacturers spend fewer resources to implement the dual lenses.

The new complete Isocell Dual options include a 13-megapixel and five-megapixel pair with the refocusing algorithms that create that stronger bokeh or out-of-focus effect in the background. Samsung’s low-light algorithm is being paired with a set of eight-megapixel dual cameras.

Samsung is now selling the complete camera modules to manufacturers — which means it’s too early to tell just how much of a price difference the complete camera module will create for consumers. Samsung says the new option will make it easier for manufacturers to add the feature to mid- and entry-level devices.

“Dual cameras are delivering new and exciting photo-taking experiences on mobile devices,” Ben K. Hur, vice president of System LSI marketing at Samsung Electronics, said in a press release. “Samsung’s total solution for Isocell Dual will make our customers’ product development process easier, allowing them to bring the most optimized dual camera features to a wider range of consumers.”

The camera combo comes a few months after Samsung also created a dual pixel sensor that uses two sides of the pixel, rather than two lenses, to create similar dual lens effects.

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6
Feb

Google Pixel 2 vs. Moto X4: Which should you buy?


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Whether or not you’re on Project Fi, the Pixel 2 and Moto X4 are two excellent phones that are very deserving of your dollars.

Phones like the Galaxy Note 8 and Pixel 2 XL are great choices for folks that love big phones, but if you’re like me, you’re okay with sacrificing some screen real estate if it means you can easily use your device with one hand. In 2017, two of the better small phones to be released were the Google Pixel 2 and Moto X4.

The Pixel 2 and Moto X4 have a lot in common, including great software experiences, unique designs, and compatibility on Project Fi. However, there is one big factor that sets these two phones apart – price. The Pixel 2 will set you back $250 more compared to the Moto X4, and today we’re going to determine if it’s worth the additional cash.

Why you should spend more for the Pixel 2

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It shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that the Google Pixel 2 is better than the Moto X4 in just about every single way. I wouldn’t necessarily say the Pixel 2 offers $250 more phone than what you get with the X4, but there are a few key points where you can really see where those extra dollars went.

First and foremost, that camera. The Pixel 2 has the best camera on a phone right now, and while the Moto X4 doesn’t take bad pictures by any means, the Pixel 2 just blows it out of the water. Even though the Pixel 2 has one lens compared to the two on the Moto X4, it still offers better detail, more natural portrait shots, and handles environments with big exposure differences much better.

Another area where the Pixel 2 gets an edge is with its multimedia experience. Despite having a smaller 5-inch display compared to the X4’s 5.2-inch one, the Super AMOLED panel produces far deeper blacks and more enjoyable colors than the IPS panel on the Moto option. Some of this can be mitigated by changing the Moto X4’s color profile to Standard instead of Vibrant that it defaults to, but even so, things still end up looking more cartoony than I’d like.

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On that same note, while the Moto X4’s single front-facing speaker gets surprisingly loud for its size, the Pixel 2’s dual front-facing ones kick out a richer sound and get just a hair louder, too.

Lastly, the Pixel 2 has that user experience you can only really get with Pixel phones. The ability to squeeze the sides to launch Google Assistant is something I find myself using every single day, the Now Playing feature that automatically detects songs in the background never ceases to amaze me, and the overall performance has a level of smoothness you won’t find on the Moto X4.

Why the Moto X4 is still worth it

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The Pixel 2 is obviously a great phone, but for a lot of people, $649 is more than they’re willing and/or able to spend on a new phone. If you’d like to get about 80% of the Pixel 2 experience for $250 less (or sometimes more), that’s where the Moto X4 comes in.

One area where I think most people will agree the Moto X4 actually surpasses the Pixel 2 is with its design. The glass back of the X4 is stunning, and depending on how the light catches it, can showcase a multitude of patterns and waves. Speaking of which, the positioning of the new camera sensors often shows a reflection that resembles an “X.” Well done, Motorola.

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The glass panel does make the Moto X4 a fingerprint magnet, and while I personally prefer the more utilitarian design of the Pixel 2, the X4 is far more eye-catching. There’s also an aluminum frame that feels sturdy and cool to the touch, the texture of the power button makes it easy to differentiate from the volume ones, and there’s even a 3.5mm headphone jack and microSD card support – two things you won’t find on the Pixel 2.

The Moto X4 surpasses the Pixel 2 in some areas.

Another area where the Moto X4 excels is with its software experience. It may not be as snappy as the Pixel 2, but there are a lot of extra goodies here that make the X4 a lot of fun to use. Twisting and chopping to activate the camera and flashlight are two of my favorite smartphone features ever, the option to hide Android’s navigation buttons and use just the front-facing fingerprint sensor works surprisingly well, and Windows users can even use the X4 to bypass their desktop’s password/PIN.

In addition to all this, the Moto X4 also punches above its price range with support for Google Pay via NFC, a reliable fingerprint sensor, and a Wireless Sound System setting that allows you to listen to audio on up to 4 Bluetooth devices at once.

Which should you buy? Google Pixel 2

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Like I said above, it shouldn’t be a revelation that the Pixel 2 is the better of the two phones. It’s Google’s flagship phone competing against a mid-range handset from Motorola, so it’s obviously going to be a superior product.

You can’t go wrong with either of these phones.

However, what is surprising is just how well the Moto X4 manages to keep up with the Pixel 2. It may lack the DNA that made me fall in love with the first two Moto X devices, but even so, it’s still one of the best mid-rangers you can buy.

The Pixel 2 and Moto X4 are primarily sold as unlocked phones, and while you can get financing options and discounts on the Pixel 2 through Verizon, both phones are also two of the few devices that work with Google’s Project Fi.

If you have the cash and money isn’t an object for you, get the Pixel 2. It’s the best Android phone you can currently get, and I can easily recommend it at its MSRP of $649. However, if you’re trying to save a few bucks, don’t second-guess the Moto X4. It’s not a bad deal at all for $399, but you can get it for even less depending on where you shop. Amazon sells a Prime Exclusive version of the phone for just $279, and if you activate it on Project Fi, you’ll currently spend even less at $249.

See Pixel 2 at Google

See Moto X4 at Amazon

Google Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL

  • Pixel 2 FAQ: Everything you need to know!
  • Google Pixel 2 and 2 XL review: The new standard
  • Google Pixel 2 specs
  • Google Pixel 2 vs. Pixel 2 XL: What’s the difference?
  • Join our Pixel 2 forums

Best Buy
Verizon
Google Store
Project Fi

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