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Huawei Band 2 Pro Activity Tracker Review

Huawei Band 2 Pro Wristband

Wearables are in a weird spot these days. Smartwatches haven’t really been a hit with the masses, resulting in manufacturers slowing down development of new ones. But fitness trackers on the other hand have been steadily moving forward. It makes sense when you think about it. Fitness trackers give the user functionality that they wouldn’t otherwise have, where smartwatches are an extension of the smartphone’s functions.

Now that we’re past our thought of the day, we can introduce an interesting new activity tracker – from a company who’s not really known for fitness devices, Huawei.

Huawei Band 2 Pro Wristband

The Band 2 Pro is actually its second gen wristband tracker, so it’s more refined and more competitive with established devices. Huawei has our attention with its quality smartphones, now lets see if it deliver the same excellence in a fitness tracker.


Most of us have an image of what a Huawei wearable looks like. The Huawei Watch has been one of the best Android Wear smartwatch offerings for the past few years. But fitness wristbands have a different priority, and with the Band 2 Pro, Huawei completely devotes it to that cause rather than one that balances fitness and smartwatch functions.

Huawei Band 2 Pro Wristband

Huawei Band 2 Pro Wristband

So unlike the comparable Samsung Gear Fit2 Pro, which sports a sizable OLED screen and touch controls, the Band 2 Pro keeps things simple with a slim, monochrome display and single-button control. It’s clear that you won’t be doing smartwatch-like actions here, like responding to texts or emails on this device. The Band 2 Pro is strictly designed to be a fitness tracker, and to do those particular functions as well as possible.

And this is easily seen when you put the wristband on. It’s slim, lightweight, and curves perfectly around the wrist. Being a smartwatch user, I particularly appreciated the relative thinness of the electronics compartment. This is a wristband that you should come to forget you’re wearing.

Huawei Band 2 Pro Wristband

Not having a everything-but-the-kitchen-sink kind of focus also means cost is kept down. You can find the Band 2 Pro south of $70 in the right places. But Huawei handles the construction well in spite of that. The electronics casing is a mix of hard plastic, metallic side rails, and glass on top – all sealed tightly to meet the device’s robust 5 ATM water/dust-proof rating.

The band portion is practical and comfortable rubber. The locking mechanism is the simple prong-through-slot sort. That isn’t the most secure method, but Huawei thoughtfully made it a two-prong clasp, for redundancy. We can attest that even after rigorous use, we never felt like the band would come undone.

Huawei Band 2 Pro Wristband

Huawei Band 2 Pro Wristband


If you haven’t used this kind of activity tracker before, the primary purpose of it is to record fitness data of your workouts and feed you that information in a meaningful way. On the Band 2 Pro, you simply select a specific workout type from a set of options, began your workout, and then end the program when you’re done. The wristband stores the data, and when communication with a mobile device is present, it will send the data over for analysis.

So this means that you need to pair the wristband with a smartphone or such in order to really use it. You also need to install Huawei’s accompanying apps, as they’re the system’s console.

Huawei Band 2 Pro WristbandWhen tracking is initiated for a workout, the watch will actively display progress.

There isn’t a touchscreen on the Band 2 Pro, and control is only through a single, capactive button on the bottom of the display. This would be painful if the device had smartwatch-like functionality, but it doesn’t. All you’re going to do on this wristband is scroll through options and start/stop programs. Sure, scrolling through a menu is better accomplished by swiping up and down, but it’s not the end of the world here. Though, we will say that it’s annoying that we can only scroll in one direction with the single button. If you overshoot an option, you have to cycle through the whole list to get back to it.

Huawei used P-OLED tech to power the screen. So since the display utilizes a black background and only the text draws power, you can expect the thing to go the distance in regard to battery life. It should achieve three weeks under “normal” usage from a full charge. The only downside here is that the P-OLED visibility is a little weak outdoors, and a struggle to see in direct sunlight (and there’s no way to adjust the brightness). We would’ve liked Huawei to implement an adaptive brightness setting, being that this is a device you’ll likely be using outside quite a bit.

Huawei Band 2 Pro Wristband

Packing is simple: Charging cable, charging interface bit, manual, and wristband.

Huawei Band 2 Pro Wristband

To charge, the two pins on the charging bit line up with the points on the wristband. It clasps on and then you plug in the microUSB jack.

What you see on the wristband is pretty simple. The Home screen is a layout of basic information, like the battery level, Bluetooth connection status, date, and time. You also see your pedometer count for the day (it resets daily). We didn’t see a way to change the layout or the pedometer info for a different stat.

A concern we had was a limited set of exercises to choose from. You’re given four: Outdoor Run, Outdoor Cycle, Swim, and Indoor Run. We would’ve liked Huawei to account for a few other popular aerobic exercises (i.e. elliptical, cross-fit, punching bag, etc.). However, nothing’s stopping you from using “Indoor Run” for say an elliptical workout. You’ll still get some relevant stats, like heart rate and steps. But then you’ll also get some wasted data, like pace and average speed, that could’ve been something useful if the program was actually tuned for that exercise. You also wouldn’t get an accurate calories burnt count.

Huawei Band 2 Pro WristbandThe sensors at work.

In addition to the heart rate sensor, another praiseworthy feature in the Band 2 Pro considering its price is a standalone GPS. This means it has its own GPS unit built-in and doesn’t need to piggy back off the phone. This also means that if you’re doing an outdoor workout, you don’t necessarily need to have your phone on you to capture movement and distance data. Having a GPS also allows for more accurate speed recording.

The other options on the wristband are a module to check other pedometer-related stats of the day (distance covered, calories burnt, amount of inactive time, etc.), conduct a BPM measurement, and one that runs you through a focused breathing session.


Huawei Wear app.

There are two apps that go along with the use of the Band 2 Pro: the Huawei Wear and Huawei Health apps. The latter is the one you’ll be using regularly to access your fitness stats. Huawei’s Wear app is just for managing the wearable device itself, similar to Android Wear, where you’re given a few settings/controls.

For instance, the wristband can function as an alarm – you can set that here. There are also toggles for Do Not Disturb, a couple gestures (tilt to wake or rotate wrist to scroll), and left or right hand wearing preferences. But there are three important settings here that you’ll probably want to enable, as they are fantastic:

  • TruSleep: The wristband detects when you go to sleep and captures your sleeping patterns
  • Automatically Measure Heart Rate: As implied, lets heart rate sensor monitor you all day so you can know the average and how it fluctuates throughout each day.
  • Activity Reminder: A reminder to get up and do something each hour it detects you being inactive – perfect for cubicle life.

So being that Huawei isn’t really known for fitness-related devices, I expected the health software to be pretty basic. But it was a pleasant surprise that it’s quite the contrary. You get an impressive amount of information for each event.

Huawei Band 2 Pro Wristband

Home screen of Huawei Health app

Huawei Band 2 Pro Wristband

Pedometer tracking breakdown

Huawei Band 2 Pro Wristband

Outdoor tracking (with GPS enabled) can show you the route and distance you did.

The layout is intuitive, starting with the daily pedometer readings at the very top and scroll-able sections (or cards) for the measurements in question. Tapping on a card takes you to into overview stats of that subject, which then you can dig into for more detailed information.

What impressed us was the extra and useful information that you come across along the way, like how much of your BPM’s correspond to certain activity categories (even just within a workout too), training ranking (so you can have a comparison as you progress), VO2Max metric (assessment of how fit you are by measuring oxygen consumption during exercise), recovery time indicator (predicts when your body is fully recovered for the next workout, so you don’t over do it), and the ability to set up a personal running training plan (where the device analyzes your level and coaches you through the progression).

Huawei Band 2 Pro Wristband

BPM capture breakdown.

Huawei Band 2 Pro Wristband

Multitude of measurements you can see after a run

Huawei Band 2 Pro Wristband

Sleep measurements over a night are commendably detailed.

The sleep analysis is also really impressive. You’ll be given a sleep quality ranking and how much sleep you got on a daily basis, but also a really detailed breakdown of the sleep session, like how much of it was light sleep, deep sleep, REM sleep. You’ll also be given ranking for qualities like deep sleep continuity, breathing, and regularity of time up. Recognizing that users may not know what to make of the information, Huawei generously partnered with Harvard Medical School’s The Center for Dynamical Biomarkers to provide robust information of what the stats all mean and if they’re good or bad.

Final Thoughts

Huawei Band 2 Pro Wristband

The Huawei Band 2 Pro is a good buy and definitely a recommendation by us. You’re getting a lot for your money on the things that count in an activity tracker wristband. It’s durably put together, slim and comfortable, and its capture and conveyance of fitness data is spot on. Huawei went above and beyond in several ways (i.e. built-in GPS and considerate analysis information) when considering the price tag of the Band 2 Pro. Sure, touchscreen controls would’ve been nice, but it’s an appropriate compromise all things considered.

Huawei Band 2 Pro Official Page


Dell’s latest Inspiron notebook packs in AMD’s Ryzen APU with Vega graphics

Nvidia and AMD continue to duke it out in the GPU wars. While things are a bit theoretical in the desktop thanks to cryptocurrency miners buying up all available inventory, the impact is becoming very real in mobile computing. Nvidia has had success with pushing its faster GPUs into thinner chassis, and AMD is making its own mark there as well. Now, Dell is quietly expanding its own line with one of AMD’s most recent mobile efforts.

Specifically, we’re talking about the mashup of AMD’s Ryzen CPU and its Radeon Vega graphics chips. AMD has four such chips available, ranging in power from the lower-end Ryzen 3 2200U and 2300U quad-core and single-threaded options, up to the highest-end Ryzen 5 2500U and Ryzen 7 2700U versions with four cores and eight threads. Dell’s first offering using these chips is its Inspiron 17 5000, which offer a choice between the Ryzen 3 2200U and the Ryzen 5 2500U.

So, what does that mean in terms of actual performance? When equipped in one of the first machines to ship with the Ryzen 5 2500U, the HP Envy x360 15, the AMD chip provides slightly less CPU performance than the Intel eighth-generation Core i5-8250U processor in Geekbench 4 and Cinebench R15. In graphics performance, the Ryzen 5 2500U benefitted significantly from its Vega 8 GPU, significantly outperforming integrated Intel UHD 620 graphics and coming in below the Acer Swift 3 equipped with the discrete Nvidia MX150 GPU.

That means that the Dell Inspiron 17 will provide a good platform for entry-level gaming, able to run some older titles at 1080p as long as you turn down the graphics detail and to run less-demanding recent titles like eSports and the like. At the same time, the notebook should provide better performance in creative apps like image and video editing than you’ll get with machines that rely solely on Intel’s integrated GPU.

Pricing on the Inspiron 17 5000 starts at $680 for an AMD Ryzen 3 2200U with Radeon Vega3 graphics, 8GB of DDR4-2400MHz RAM, and a 1TB 5400 RPM SATA hard disk drive (HDD). That runs all the way up to $1,040 for an AMD Ryzen 5 2500U with Radeon Vega8 graphics, 16GB of DDR4-2400MHz RAM, and a 2TB 5400 RPM SATA HDD. You’ll also get a 17-inch Full HD (1,920 x 1,080 or 130PPI) display, a tray-loading DVD reader/writer, and a slew of ports including two USB-A 3.1 ports, one USB-A 2.0 port, and a full-size HDMI connection.

You can order an Inspiron 17 5000 today and it should arrive around the middle of March 2018. If you’re looking for a notebook with solid processor performance and improved graphics performance, than Dell’s use of AMD’s latest round in the GPU wars offers up a solid option.

Editors’ Recommendations

  • Intel’s Radeon-backed ‘Hades Canyon’ mini PC runs games at 1080p, Ultra graphics
  • Intel promises its new CPUs will match Nvidia’s potent GTX 1060, thanks to AMD
  • Lenovo’s updated ThinkPads include T480s with Nvidia MX150, affordable X-Series
  • Intel’s chip-packing Radeon graphics slips a brief tease just before CES 2018
  • Acer’s new laptops include a liquid-cooled 2-in-1, $250 fanless Chromebook


Intel’s Radeon-backed ‘Hades Canyon’ mini PC runs games at 1080p, Ultra graphics

Korean site Playwares recently published a review with benchmarks from Intel’s upcoming $999 “Hades Canyon” miniature PC. The review is no longer online, but that didn’t stop sleuths from grabbing everything they could before the article went offline, including the NUC’s hardware breakdown and gaming performance. The big deal is that the device sports a new “module” cramming together Intel’s processor with discrete AMD graphics into one chip.

For starters, here are the module’s specifications: 


Core i7-8809G 

CPU architecture: 

Kaby Lake-G (14nm) 





Base speed: 


Max speed: 


L3 Cache: 


Power use: 

100 watts (total package) 

Integrated graphics: 

Intel HD Graphics 630 

Base speed: 


Boost speed: 


Discrete graphics: 

AMD Radeon RX Vega M GH Graphics
(RX Vega 24) 

Compute units: 



1,536 stream processors 

Base speed: 


Max speed: 


FP32 Performance (max): 


Discrete GPU dedicated memory: 


Memory bandwidth: 


Memory bus: 


Memory clock: 


According to the benchmarks, AMD’s discrete GPU provides almost the same performance (3.7 TFLOPS) as Nvidia’s current GeForce GTX 1060 card (4.0 TFLOPS), only it’s part of a complete module with direct access to the CPU and dedicated memory. 

But how well does Hades Canyon perform as a gaming “machine” despite its small form factor size? Take a look at the numbers in frames-per-second (the higher the better): 




Rise of the Tomb Raider
1080P / Ultra / DX12 



Total War: Warhammer
1080P / Ultra / DX12 



The Division
1080P / Ultra / DX12 



For Honor

47.44 (1080P)
33.26 (1440P) 

52.46 (1080P)
36.57 (1440P) 

Assassin’s Creed Origins
1080P / Ultra 



Rainbow Six Siege
1080P / Ultra 



Metro 2033 Redux
Very High 

53.81 (1080P)
32.78 (1440P) 

57.59 (1080P)
36.62 (1440P) 

1080P / Epic 



1080P / Custom 



Tekken 7

60.75 (1080P)
51.13 (1440P) 

60.97 (1080P)
57.31 (1440P) 

Here we weeded out the synthetic tests – benchmarking games after disabling hardware and/or software to generate higher numbers – and a few minimum frame count entries. AMD’s discrete GPU appears to run just fine at 1,920 x 1080 with Ultra graphics settings, but gamers may want to consider cranking down the visual level a notch to squeeze out better 1080p performance.  

On the processor side, Intel’s refreshed seventh-generation CPU cores (Intel says they’re 8th Gen H-Series) managed a 5268 single-core score in Geekbench, and a 17183 multi-core score. Overclocked, the module saw a single-core score of 5571 and a multi-core score of 18788.

Finally, here are the specifications for the reviewed Hades Canyon NUC: 




Core i7-8809G 


2x empty SODIMM slots
Up to 32GB DDR4 @ 2400MHz+ 


1x empty M.2 22×40 slot
1x empty M.2 22×80 slot 


Wireless AC
Bluetooth 4.2 

Ports (front): 

1x SDXC card slot
1x HDMI 2.0a
1x USB-C 3.1 Gen2 (10Gbps)
2x USB-A 3.1 Gen1 (5Gbps, one charges)
1x Headphone jack 

Ports (back): 

2x Thunderbolt 3
1x HDMI 2.0a
4x USB-A 3.1 Gen1
2x Mini DisplayPort
2x Gigabit Ethernet
1x SPDIF audio optical jack 


7.1 multi-channel digital audio 

Power supply: 

230 watts 


8.70 x 5.59 x 1.53 inches 

 Intel’s NUC8i7HVK, along with the NUC8i7HNK packing the Core i7-8705G module, is expected to arrive this spring. You’ll need to purchase the memory, storage, and operating system separately. 

Editors’ Recommendations

  • Intel’s ‘Hades Canyon’ NUC packs gaming hardware into just 1.2 liters
  • Intel ‘Hades Canyon’ NUC hands-on review
  • Intel’s chip-packing Radeon graphics slips a brief tease just before CES 2018
  • Lenovo’s updated ThinkPads include T480s with Nvidia MX150, affordable X-Series
  • Intel promises its new CPUs will match Nvidia’s potent GTX 1060, thanks to AMD


MoviePass may not cost much, but your privacy is part of the price

MoviePass has seen ups and downs as of late. The company’s decision to drop its subscription price to $10 a month last year did very well for the company, bringing in new subscribers and revenue to boot, but the company was recently pelted by customers for blocking access to the Jennifer Lawrence spy-thriller Red Sparrow. That seems like a drop in the bucket compared to the company’s latest misstep in which MoviePass CEO Mitch Lowe boasted that the company tracks users’ locations before and after the movie showings they attend, Media Play News reports.

Lowe was speaking at a Hollywood event in a keynote titled, “Data is the New Oil: How Will MoviePass Monetize It?” when he began to talk about just how much data MoviePass has on its customers. “We watch how you drive from home to the movies,” Lowe said. “We watch where you go afterwards.”

The CEO says that the company is doing this to help its service provide a full night out the movies. Presumably, data about where customers are coming from or going to after the movies could be used to help offer dinner recommendations or provide customers with ideas for where they might want to go when a film is over. Still, customers haven’t been explicitly told that the company is tracking what they’re doing at that level and may not be thrilled to find out.

Then there is the question of what else the company may be doing with that data. When MoviePass launched, the service cost $50 per month. With the price being as low as it is now, that means the company is likely making its money some other way and providing other parties with data collected on its customers could be part of that. Even if this information is anonymized before its handed to other companies, customers likely won’t be happy.

So far, outside of Lowe’s talk, MoviePass has yet to spill the beans on what exactly it is doing with this data, as it’s likely that nobody at the company expected Lowes’ words to make it outside the room of Hollywood executives he was speaking to. Now that the words are out, the company is likely going to have to address the matter.

Editors’ Recommendations

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  • ‘SOS’ hands-on preview
  • Don’t need sports or locals? Philo could be your live TV streamer of choice
  • Apple Music vs. Spotify: Which service is the streaming king?


Xiaomi plans to launch its smartphones in the U.S. by the end of 2018

Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

In February, Lei Jun — founder and CEO of Chinese technology company Xiaomi — revealed his plans for further global expansion. According to The Wall Street Journal, Xiaomi plans on entering the U.S. smartphone market as early as the end of 2018.

“We’ve always been considering entering the U.S. market. We plan to start entering the market by end 2018, or by early 2019,” Jun told the publication.

Xiaomi’s hardware is already available in more than 70 countries spread across Asia, Africa, and parts of Europe. At the end of 2017, it placed fourth in China — right behind Vivo, Huawei, and Oppo. Around the same time, Xiaomi also increased its phone shipments globally by 83 percent.

News of Xiaomi entering the U.S. market has been surfacing for a few years now. In 2016, it was rumored the company was testing its phones on U.S. networks, with plans on releasing the devices within a few years.

If the company ends up launching its handsets in North America, it is still unclear whether it will try and sell the smartphones through U.S. carriers or directly to its consumers through its website. As of now, you’re able to purchase items other than smartphones on the site — such as the Mi Bluetooth speaker, Mi Sphere Camera Kit, and more.

But breaking into the U.S. smartphone market hasn’t been an easy venture in the past, specifically for Chinese manufacturers. In January, Huawei announced its flagship smartphone would not be sold by U.S. carriers with rumors that it was supposedly due to security concerns.

Carriers such as AT&T and Verizon reportedly both gave into cutting ties with Huawei due to the pressure of U.S. lawmakers. According to reports, politicians advised that having any connection to either Huawei or China mobile could ruin their ability to do business with the U.S. government.

The issue stemmed primarily from a 2012 congressional report that suggested U.S. carriers should not only stay away from Huawei gear but ZTE as well. The reasoning behind why U.S. carriers should stay away was specifically because, “China might use it to spy on Americans.”

It’s still unclear whether Xiaomi will be faced with similar scrutiny when it comes to U.S. carriers. But the expansion to the U.S. will allow for the company to grow its presence in the country.

Editors’ Recommendations

  • Xiaomi CEO vows more global expansion and renewed assault on China market
  • U.S. lawmakers reportedly pressure AT&T to completely cut ties with Huawei
  • ZTE and Huawei respond to intelligence agency warnings over security risks
  • Amazon, Google trade punches over Nest smart home product sales
  • Microsoft and Xiaomi team up to produce smart speakers, laptops, and more


ModiFace replaces makeup brushes with neural networks, and it’s coming to the S9

Brenda Stolyar/Digital Trends

Samsung’s Galaxy S9 and S9 Plus come with a variety of new camera features including AR Emoji, Super Slow Motion, and a variable aperture. But there’s one more new trick that we’ve never seen built into a smartphone before – the augmented reality makeup tool in Bixby Vision.

Baked into the S9’s camera app, Makeup lets you apply different products to your face with augmented reality. Point the selfie camera at your face, and the makeup styles you pick are layered over your face, exactly like Snapchat filters. The benefit is you’re trying on makeup in the comfort of your own home, while also avoiding the need to clean up afterwards. It’s the first time we’ve seen this kind of feature built into a smartphone, but the technology is far from new. Samsung tapped ModiFace, a company with more than a decade of research in this field, to integrate its beauty AR technology into the camera.

From skincare to augmented reality makeup

If you’ve ever used the Sephora app to virtually try-on makeup, or Benefit’s Brow Try-On app to test out a new eyebrow shape, then you’ve used ModiFace’s AR technology. The company now powers more than 200 custom augmented reality apps for high-end beauty brands, but it all initially started with skincare.

Smartphone popularity inspired ModiFace to test its technology with augmented reality.

Before the smartphone revolution, ModiFace worked with dermatologists and certain brands to help people find solutions for skincare concerns.

People could upload a photo of themselves to a web app, and the company would process it to pinpoint problem areas and suggest improvements to skincare routines.

ModiFace originally used 2D images with the web app, but as technology progressed, the company was soon able to move to allowing users to upload video. When smartphones got popular, ModiFace began testing its technology with augmented reality, and added makeup and hair to its roster of supported features.

“With the smartphone boom, it was the perfect opportunity for us to expand because it allowed us to bring AR right to our users in the palm of [their] hand,” Jeff Houghton, ModiFace vice president of Technology, told Digital Trends.

Its current software development kits (SDKs) are the culmination of 10 years of engineering. By working closely with beauty brands, ModiFace is able to provide a lightning fast and easy-to-follow user experience, while also encouraging product discoverability.

ModiFace’s technology powers more than 200 augmented reality apps for high-end beauty brands, including numerous smart mirrors, that allow customers virtually try on makeup in real-time. Photo Credit: ModiFace.

Its technology doesn’t stop at smartphone apps, extending to retail stores as well. Back in November, MAC Cosmetics debuted its MAC Virtual Try-On Mirror at certain locations. The mirror lets customers virtually try on makeup in real-time by swiping throughout the interface. It helps eliminate the need to test a lot of products at the store, narrowing it down to the styles you like the most.

Putting its tech on the Galaxy S9

The same technology and concept is what’s available on the new Galaxy S9. By collaborating with Samsung, ModiFace was able to optimize the experience.

The partnership
could also kick start a
new trend for phone manufacturers.

“Starting in house, we train our Neural Networks on thousands of images to create the base tracking and face analysis for our apps,” Houghton said. “This Neural Network is then embedded inside Samsung’s app. We worked with Samsung to tweak several parameters to make sure we were achieving the effects that brands and end users want to see.”

The partnership between the two companies could kick start a new trend for phone manufacturers. While beauty technology is still in its infancy, makeup has found its way on to our screens for years through social media. Whether it’s YouTube or Instagram tutorials, people are constantly looking to their smartphones to find new inspiration when it comes to makeup. With the Galaxy S9, all you need to do is swipe open the camera and you have a catalog of makeup at your disposal.

On the Galaxy S9, you can search through a variety of different cosmetic products available from both Sephora or Cover Girl, and you can purchase them on the spot. As you scroll through each product, it will apply itself to your face like Snapchat filters.

Using facial tracking and 3D video rendering, the makeup filters are mapped to the face at 30 frames per second. There’s no lag, and nothing is misaligned. It works as instantly as you to tap the next product you want to try on. You can try on complete looks – which includes lipstick, foundation, eyeshadow, blush, mascara and eyeliner – or you can try them all separately.

Trying on foundation can be extremely tricky, almost always requires being at the store and having an employee help you find your exact shade. There’s also different foundation types to take into account – matte, sheer, water-based, or ones that provide full coverage. To make sure the shades are as accurate as possible, the ModiFace team tediously went through each product and compared how it looked in real life versus how it looked on the smartphone. They worked with both Samsung and the brands directly to create a matching render.

“I myself was actually involved with that process and it’s kind of a lot of fun,” Houghton said. “You get to try on a lot of different things, and then you get to wipe them off and see how they look in the app. It involves a lot of screenshot comparison and manual work to make sure that the product we’ve included is just perfect.”

The team went through each product and compared how it looked in real life
versus how it looked
on the smartphone.

But there’s still always room for improvement. Using deep learning and image research, the team studies internal data — gathered from those who are testing the final product — to learn more about a user’s face in order to train its algorithms. This helps to produce better results when it comes to factors like how colors mix on to your lip, how light gets added into those colors, and how your face should look under different lighting if you have a specific foundation on. The data also helps to improve texture and overall coverage of the makeup.

With this kind of deep learning, the company is able to create new and more realistic effects. Recently, ModiFace partnered with L’Oreal to create 3D hair tracking that can recolor your hair in real time. The company has plans to work with Samsung to bring similar effects to its phones.

But for those with privacy concerns, Modiface doesn’t collect or monitor any data from its applications when in the hands of users. Any images you take with the apps will never leave your device.

Editors’ Recommendations

  • 5 features you may not have heard about on the Samsung Galaxy S9
  • The Samsung Galaxy S9 is finally here: Here’s everything you need to know
  • Samsung Galaxy S9 hands-on review
  • Flagship face-off: Samsung’s Galaxy S9 Plus vs. Google’s Pixel 2 XL
  • The best Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus cases to keep your titan safe


The MacBook Air doesn’t need a price cut, it needs a redesign

A new report from a reliable source has indicated Apple is looking to release a cheaper MacBook Air later this year. Obviously, we don’t know the specifics yet, but it’s an interesting report, especially when compared to the January report that the MacBook Air was going to be replaced later this year.

It could come in the form of a dramatic price cut of the 12-inch laptop, or in a complete redesign of the MacBook Air — either way, it’s time for something new in the entry-level market, not just a price cut. Apple has been riding the wave of the MacBook Air for years, selling it on name recognition alone. According to Apple, it was meant to be discontinued a long time ago, but has stayed in circulation due to how well it sold. An update has been a long time coming.

Regardless of the direction of this new laptop, there are a few things Apple has to do to fix the problem. Here are the most important — a fresh 1080p display, an 8th-gen Intel processor, and some Thunderbolt 3 ports.

.@Apple might have a cheaper update or replacement to the #MacbookAir coming out this year. What feature would be a must-have for you?

RT for a larger sample size!

— Digital Trends (@DigitalTrends) March 5, 2018

According to the results from our poll, people are looking for something new in the MacBook Air, not just a price cut. But the prospect of Apple continuing to sell the current MacBook Air at a cheaper price is definitely possible. After all, it’s been doing it for years.

Selling an outdated laptop at a cheaper price isn’t the same as designing a product for that specific price point. It’d be the equivalent of Apple selling the iPhone SE — a phone that looked like the iPhone 4 — without completely updating the internals when it came out. Apple’s been doing this for years with the MacBook Air. Not cool.

The cheapest MacBook will always sell well, even with an old design and outdated internals. Giving it another price cut is just taking advantage of that fact, rather than building something innovative for the entry-level market, like the original MacBook. It doesn’t need a Touch Bar and all the fanciest new features. It just needs to be a solid computer at a decent price. If Apple pull that off, we’ll consider it a great budget laptop again.

Editors’ Recommendations

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  • 65 inches. 4K. 120Hz. Nvidia’s BFGD is all the monitor you will ever need


The best computer speakers

The built-in speakers lining your laptop or monitor are rarely worthy of praise. With those chintzy stock speakers, you’re missing out on all the nuance that goes into the creation of your favorite songs, film scores, and, of course, Overwatch taunts. A quality speaker system is essential if you want to make the most of your media.

With that in mind, we’ve put together a list of the best computer speakers on the market. We can’t guarantee they’ll make Bastion’s fanfare any less infuriating, but at least it will sound better.

The Best

Aperion Allaire ($400)

The Allaire offers the most complete combination of high-end sound quality, versatility, and connectivity in the genre. With Bluetooth, a digital optical input, an analog input, a subwoofer output, and a USB port for charging devices, the Allaire is suitable for almost any installation. It includes a 1-inch dome tweeter and a 4-inch woven fiberglass woofer. However, what really sells us on this set is its outstanding sound quality, which offers rich bass response, pure midrange details, and pristine treble. For a desktop that often doubles as an entertainment center, there is no better choice at this price point.

Read our full Aperion Allaire review

Buy them now from:

Aperion Audio

The Rest

Edifier e25 Luna Eclipse ($184)

The ultra-modern e25 Luna Eclipse is as outstanding in terms of build quality as it is in sound. The slick, egg-shaped speakers produce a clear, open midrange and a surprising amount of bass via the integrated 3.5-inch drivers and dual passive radiators. They offer phenomenal sound for the price, with a bevy of flashy features to boot – such as an auxiliary port for connecting to additional devices.

Read our full Edifier e25 Luna Eclipse review

Buy them now from:


Logitech Z337 ($100)

The overall output of Logitech’s Z337 speaker kit is rather decent for a desktop-oriented system, providing 40 watts of quality sound without rattling the walls: a pair of eight-watt satellite speakers and a 24-watt subwoofer pumping deep bass at your feet. But the kit isn’t just for your desktop or laptop: it’s a great setup for your Bluetooth device too (v4.1 and newer). Other connectivity options include a 3.5mm audio jack, one RCA input, and a headphone jack. Adding to the bundle is a wired audio dial for pairing Bluetooth devices to the system, adjusting the volume, and switching off the power. The subwoofer has its own-built in control dial to manually adjust the bass. 

Buy them now from:

Amazon Logitech

Audioengine A2+ ($249)

Audioengine’s A2+ are a simple and sweet speaker upgrade for your computer or related devices. The dynamic bookshelf speakers bask in clear accuracy and nuanced undertones that span the frequency range, while offering an integrated digital-to-analog converter that lets you forego your computer’s analog output in favor of a purer signal. These speakers may lack a bit in the low-end, but they shine with versatility.

Buy them now from:


Bose Companion 5 ($399)

Bose has a certain reputation for high-priced speakers that can easily fill a room with swelling sound. In this particular case, that reputation is well deserved. This pricey speaker set (a subwoofer, plus drivers perched on stands to better broadcast their sound) is perfect for supplying office music or using computer speakers as your primary house music system. They are also compatible with additional audio devices with an included USB cable, as well as Bose Bluetooth adapters. If you are looking for a top line speaker set that’s extra low on maintenance, this makes a great choice.

Buy them now from:

Amazon Bose

Creative GigaWorks T20 Series II ($100) 

Version 2 of Creative’s GigaWorks T20 Series kit consists of two 14-watt speakers each with a dedicated cloth-domed tweeter and a larger mid-range driver. There’s no included subwoofer, but instead each speaker consists of what Creative calls BasXPort: proprietary technology that pushes sound waves from the inner chamber up through an opening at the top of each speaker to produce better, natural mid-range audio. But you can still control your bass level through a dedicated knob found on the right speaker along with treble and volume controls. The right speaker even provides a headphone jack and a 3.5mm auxiliary jack for audio input. 

Buy them now from: 

Amazon Creative 

 Update: Adjusted to fine-tune the list.

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Asus ZenBook Flip 14 vs. Lenovo Yoga 920

Sitting right above the 13.3-inch convertible 2-in-1 are a few 14-inch machines that provide slightly larger displays without adding too much to chassis size. Lenovo’s Yoga 920 is a classic example, and one of the most robustly built. Asus has just introduced another option, the ZenBook Flip 14, that enjoys the distinction of building in a bone fide discrete GPU.

The Lenovo Yoga line has long been one of our favorite among the premium brands, and the Yoga 920 represents refined version. We pit the Asus ZenBook Flip 14 vs. the Lenovo Yoga 920 to see if discrete graphics is enough to win over one of the best around.

Asus ZenBook Flip 14

Lenovo Yoga 920

12.89 x 8.92 x 0.55 in
12.7 x 8.8 x 0.50 in

3.31 pounds
3.02 pounds

Full-size backlit keyboard
Full-size backlit keyboard

Up to eighth-generation Intel Core i7
Up to eighth-generation Intel Core i7

8GB or 16GB RAM
8GB or 16GB

Intel UHD 620

Nvidia GeForce MX150

Intel UHD 620

14-inch IPS display
13.9-inch IPS display

Full HD (1,920 x 1,080 or 157 PPI)
Full HD (1,920 x 1,080 or 158 PPI)

Up to 512GB PCIe SSD
Up to 1TB PCIe SSD

802.11ac, Bluetooth 4.1
802.11ac, Bluetooth 4.1

USB-A 3.0 (x2), USB-C 3.1, HDMI, microSD card reader, 3.5mm combo jack
USB-A 3.0, USB-C with Thunderbolt 3, 3.5mm combo jack

Windows Hello
Fingerprint scanner
Fingerprint scanner

Operating System
Windows 10
Windows 10

57 watt-hour
70 watt-hour



3.5 out of 5 stars
4.5 out of 5 stars


The ZenBook Flip 14 shares the same basic aesthetic as the rest of the ZenBook line, with the iconic Asus concentric circle design adorning the lid, and a Slate Gray color scheme that’s rather conservative. It does little to stand out in a crowd. In terms of build quality, we found it to offered a mostly rigid chassis that’s just the slightest bit flexible  in the lid and keyboard deck. The rather stiff hinge required two hands to open, but kept the display firmly in place.

The Lenovo Yoga 920 was refreshed late in 2017, and it adopted the same basic Yoga look with some subtle changes. There are some additional angles providing a slightly cleaner overall appearance, and three color schemes (Platinum, Bronze, and Copper) are available. The Yoga 920 is relatively thin (0.50 inches compared to the ZenBook’s 0.55 inches) and light (3.02 pounds versus 3.31 pounds), with smaller display bezels for a smaller chassis overall. Most significantly, the Yoga 920 is built like a tank, with not a single surface bending under pressure, and the hinge both looks more modern. It’s smooth and effective while moving through the usual 2-in-1 modes.

Of all the notebooks we’ve reviewed lately that have shaved off some girth, the Yoga 920 has managed to hold onto its impressively solid build. While it’s also somewhat conservative, it’s a much more attractive machine than the ZenBook Flip 14.

Winner: Lenovo Yoga 920


Both the Zenbook Flip 14 and the Yoga 920 sport Intel’s latest and greatest mobile CPUs, the powerful and efficient eighth-generation Intel Core series. Our review units were equipped with the Intel Core i7-8550U, a chip that packs in four cores, doubling the previous generation. The CPU manages clock speeds to provide awesome performance when needed, and great efficiency when battery life is paramount.

While Asus and Lenovo both squeeze out good performance from the CPUs, the Yoga 920 was just slightly faster in terms of its processor performance. But the ZenBook Flip 14 has a trick up its sleave — it incorporates a discrete GPU, the low-end Nvidia GeForce MX150. This isn’t a hardcore gaming GPU but rather one that’s suited for older titles and eSports gaming, but it’s significantly faster than the usual integrated Intel graphics inside the Yoga 920.

If you want to do some light gaming on your convertible 2-in-1, or to encode some video, then you’ll appreciate the ZenBook Flip 14’s mobile graphics performance.

Winner: Asus ZenBook Flip 14

Keyboard, Mouse, and Pen

Mark Coppock/Digital Trends

In our review, we weren’t terribly impressed by the ZenBook Flip 14’s keyboard, finding that while it offered decent key travel, the bottoming action is much too abrupt and makes typing less comfortable and precise. The touchpad was good, however, with Microsoft Precision touchpad support and a large surface area — although some of it is taken up by the Windows Hello-supporting fingerprint scanner. Asus includes its active pen with the ZenBook, but the machine’s display is oddly sticky and makes inking an imprecise affair.

The Yoga 920’s keyboard is of typical Lenovo quality, on the other hand. While we found the keys a bit stiff, the good travel and distinct tactile feedback made for a precise typing experience. The Microsoft Precision touchpad was less responsive than we like, though, with some issues using gestures. The Lenovo active pen was another standout, offering four times the pressure sensitivity (4,096 versus 1,024), and with a display that provides a more suitable surface, and thus a significantly better inking experience. The Yoga 920 also uses a fingerprint scanner for Windows Hello support.

Although the ZenBook Flip 14’s touchpad was better, the Yoga 920’s keyboard and pen are vast improvements. They combined to give Lenovo the win in this round.

Winner: Lenovo Yoga 920


Asus focused mostly on providing legacy connectivity support on the ZenBook Flip 14, with two USB-A 3.0 ports and a full-size HDMI port to go with the single USB-C 3.1 port. That’s in addition to the microSD card slot, 2×2 MU-MIMO Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth. Most notably, Asus did not equip its 2-in-1 with Thunderbolt 3, which limits display support and negates the option of an external GPU enclosure.

Lenovo, on the other hand, looked to both the past and the present with the Yoga 920, equipping a USB-A 3.0 port to go with two Thunderbolt 3-supporting USB-C ports. There’s also an SD card reader and the usual Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity.

The Yoga 920 might not have a discrete GPU, but its Thunderbolt 3 support means you can plug in an external GPU enclosure for even faster gaming than the ZenBook Flip 14 as long as you’re sitting still. That gives Lenovo another win.

Winner: Lenovo Yoga 920


Mark Coppock/Digital Trends

We found the ZenBook Flip 14’s 14-inch Full HD (1,920 x 1,080 or 157 PPI) display to be slightly less than average for the premium 2-in-1 class. Brightness was particularly low, and contrast and color gamut were all at the low end of the range. It was a decent enough experience subjectively, as are even average premium displays today, but its objective qualities leave something to be desired.

The Yoga 920’s 13.9-inch Full HD (158 PPI) display was quite a bit better. First, brightness was much higher, exceeding the 300 nit baseline we like to see, and its contrast and color support were superior. Perhaps most important, Lenovo also offers a 4K UHD (3,840 x 2,160 or 317 PPI) option for the Yoga 920, something that Asus is not offering for the ZenBook.

Not only is the Yoga 920’s entry-level display better, but you can step up to a much sharper 4K option as well. That’s a real win for Lenovo.

Winner: Lenovo Yoga 920

Portability and Battery Life

Intel’s eighth-generation CPUs are very efficient when they’re working on the typical productivity task. They’ll use more battery if you doing more intensive tasks like encoding video, but Office work, web browsing, and watching movies will barely move the battery meter.

In our testing, the Yoga 920 and ZenBook Flip 14 both burned the battery at close to the same clip when performing more CPU intensive tasks, coming within a few minutes of each other running our intensive Basemark test and looping through a series of web pages. The Yoga 920, however, last almost four hours longer when playing a local video, meaning that its going to last much longer when you’re consuming media.

Both 2-in-1s will likely get you through most of a day’s work without needing to plug in, but you can’t ignore the Yoga 920’s power-sipping ways when watching movies and TV shows.

Winner: Lenovo Yoga 920

Availability and Price

Both the Yoga 920 and the ZenBook Flip 14 can be equipped with configurations that lie firmly in the premium notebook space. Our review ZenBook was built with a Core i7-8550U, 16GB of RAM, and a 512GB SSD for a retail price of $1,300. This compares to $1,600 for a similarly equipped Yoga 920. You can also pick up a budget configuration of the ZenBook for $900, with a Core i5-8250U, 8GB of RAM, and 256GB SSD. The equivalent Yoga 920 runs a much more expensive and premium $1,200.

We have to give some kudos to Lenovo for offering a 4K display option, which adds $200 to the price, along with the option of a 1TB SSD that Asus omits. But the ZenBook Flip 14 is clearly the more frugal machine, and in fact its budget option is a great alternative for anyone looking to save some money.

Winner: Asus ZenBook Flip 14

The Yoga 920 is  a more refined machine

The ZenBook Flip 14 is a two-trick pony in this particular comparison. It has faster graphics allowing for some entry-level gaming, and it’s less expensive. Those are good qualities to have.

The Yoga 920, however, is a more refined convertible 2-in-1, with class-leading build quality, a conservative yet modern aesthetic, and better processor performance and battery life. If you really want to run Rocket League while on the road, then the ZenBook Flip 14 is a good option. For everyone else, the Yoga 920’s overall design wins out — and if you insist on gaming, then put a real GPU into an enclosure and plug it into the Thunderbolt 3 port. That’s something the ZenBook just can’t support.

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The top trends we saw at Mobile World Congress 2018

Mobile World Congress 2018 has come and gone, and while one of the biggest smartphones of the year launched at the trade show in Barcelona, there’s still a lot of information to gleam on what we can expect with smartphones for the rest of the year.

From the continuing bezel-less trend and the return of the notch, to artificial intelligence and ever-improving budget phones, here are the top trends we noticed at MWC.

Bezel-less trend is here to stay

Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

The bezel-less trend, where manufacturers trim the edges around a smartphone screen, is far from over. It all began with the Xiaomi Mi Mix in 2016, and now even Apple has embraced it, increasing the screen size of the iPhone X while cutting the bezels around the screen. The benefit is using a smaller, narrower phone, while getting more screen real estate. For example, Apple’s iPhone X is smaller than the iPhone 8 Plus, but it has a bigger screen.

Narrower devices also mean phone-makers are adopting the 18:9 aspect ratio over the traditional 16:9 ratio, which means you’ll see more content in vertical-scrolling apps, as well as have more space for multi-tasking with split-screen mode. Even budget phones like Alcatel’s new 5 series are adopting the aspect ratio, and that means we can expect the bezel-less trend and the 18:9 aspect ratio to trickle down to more budget phones this year. Hardly surprising, since flagship features are always quick to jump down to affordable devices.

Copying the notch

Asus ZenFone 5 (Simon Hill/Digital Trends)

But there’s one more display-related trend that won’t be going away soon: The notch. If you take a look at the iPhone X, you’ll see a notch-like cutout sticking into the screen at the top. This houses the TrueDepth cameras and sensors that help make Face ID and Animojis work. The notch hasn’t exactly been well-received, but at least it’s packed with plenty of tech powering a bunch of new features. At MWC, it’s evident smartphone manufacturers want to copy the notch design, without adding any nifty features. Instead of using a black stripe like Samsung, device-makers are adding notches to their phones for the sake of copying Apple. We’ve rounded up a few, including Asus with the ZenFone 5, but rumors point to Huawei imitating Apple with the upcoming P20 as well. These notches don’t add much value other than housing the front-facing camera.

Thankfully, some manufacturers are toying around with different designs. Vivo, for example, has a camera protruding from the top of the phone, and Xiaomi put the front-facing camera on a single, bottom bezel. Either way, expect more phones with notches this year until someone figures out how to make a truly bezel-less smartphone.

Everyone’s working on artificial intelligence

Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

LG hardly had a presence at Mobile World Congress, and its only major announcement was a new version of the well-received LG V30. The LG V30S ThinQ has more RAM and more internal storage, but it’s also packed with artificial intelligence. LG’s A.I. improvements come to the camera app specifically, where it can identify scenes and apply the right colors to make a photograph pop. These additions are hardly a reason to buy the phone, but it demonstrates that LG is serious about developing and improving its own A.I. Samsung is also going strong with Bixby, introducing a handful of new camera-related A.I. features to Bixby Vision. A.I. was on the tip of everyone’s tongue, but we’ve yet to see any game-changing improvements like what Google and Apple have already integrated into their respective operating systems. This year, expect to see every phone launching with some type of highlight A.I. feature meant to improve your smartphone experience. Whether it will actually improve anything remains to be seen.

AR still needs a killer app

Brenda Stolyar/Digital Trends

Like A.I., augmented reality also was a must-have feature at MWC. ZTE’s Blade V9 smartphone has some basic augmented-reality stickers baked into the camera app, but it’s Samsung’s Galaxy S9 that took the spotlight with AR Emojis. Similar to Apple’s Animoji, you can create your own emoji, and use motion tracking to record a video. It doesn’t work as well as Animoji, but it goes a step further by creating a sticker pack based on your likeness. Some of Samsung’s other AR improvements include a makeup tool built into the camera app, allowing people to layer styles on their face and make purchases directly in the app. While both AR Emojis and Makeup are neat additions, we’ve yet to find a game-changing AR app or feature we want to continuously use. We imagine every camera app on every smartphone in 2018 will have a separate category dedicated for augmented reality.

Goodbye wearables

Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

Last year, Huawei launched the Huawei Watch 2 at MWC. In 2018, not a single major manufacturer announced a smartwatch. Yes, there were companies present showing off wearables, but other than the assortment of fitness trackers, hybrid watches, or quirky wearables, we hardly saw any innovation in this category. Wearables aren’t dead, as evidenced by Fitbit and Apple, but competitors still aren’t offering compelling reasons to buy them. Google specifically mentioned improvements to Android Wear will come at its developer conference this year, but we’re not expecting any major developments this year in this category.

Budget and feature phones get better

Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

We say this every year, but budget phones are getting even better. Like bezel-less displays, tech found in high-end smartphones quickly trickle downs to their affordable counterparts. HMD Global’s $345 Nokia 6 is a good example — it’s packed with a lot of tech, and the build quality is excellent. But at MWC this year, Google launched a slew of Android Go smartphones. Android Go is a version of Android for phones with very little RAM and storage, as the core operating system takes up very little space. These phones cost under $100, like the Nokia 1, and they are capable of offering a solid smartphone experience for very little money. We think they’ll prove quite popular, and there are plenty of other budget smartphones to come that are sure to make us question the price tag.

Dumb phones are also seeing some improvement. A company called KaiOS is quickly becoming the operating system of choice for feature phones, such as the Nokia 8110 4G. Before you scoff — there are 1.3 billion feature phone users in the world, and it’s estimated about 600 million of these devices will be sold every year for the next 5 years. Dumb phones are significantly cheaper than touchscreen smartphones, and they often require very little data. KaiOS is bringing smart functionality and apps to these phones, like Google Maps, Google Assistant, and even Facebook, in an effort to bridge the digital divide.

5G looms

Maskot/Getty Images

You couldn’t walk anywhere at MWC without seeing some type of advertisement or promotion for 5G technology. The fifth generation network aims to bring super-fast internet connectivity speeds, which provides benefits for a variety of services and industries. We spoke to every major U.S. carrier for an update on 5G, and the consensus is we’ll see the technology deployed in various cities by the end of this year. That still doesn’t mean you’ll get to use it until 2019, which is when we expect to see the first smartphone capable of utilizing the network. Everyone’s racing to be the first 5G carrier, or the first smartphone that supports 5G. Expect a lot of talk about download and upload speeds at major smartphone press conferences this year.

Editors’ Recommendations

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  • Here are all the Nokia phones HMD Global unveiled at MWC 2018

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