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10
Jun

From the 6S Plus to the X, how much did the iPhone camera improve?


The iPhone X features Apple’s latest-and-greatest camera technology, but does the device actually capture better photos than any of the iPhone models that came before it? Here, we pitted the four latest iPhones — from the 6S Plus to the X — to see just how much Apple’s camera technology has improved over the past several years.

When available, we opted to use the Plus versions of each phone over the release version, namely because their enlarged size of these devices allowed Apple to equip them with slightly better cameras than their predecessors. For our tests, we also decided to use the rear-facing cameras, which offer high resolution than their front-facing counterparts.

Apple continues to make routine improvements to the cameras found on its flagship product, and in recent years has added optical image stabilization and Portrait Lighting, the latter of which allows you to pre-set lighting affects to a subject’s face. But do these software enhancements translate into actual photo quality?

The first picture featured in our test, a latte on a wooden surface, looked about the same across all four devices, with some slight differences between the 6S Plus and 7 Plus. This doesn’t tell us much, other than perhaps that ideal lighting can produce quality photos across all of these devices.

The next photo, which showcases a woman working on a laptop in a well-lit room, is where the differences start to appear. The photo from the 6S Plus is substantially darker than the others, with less detail on the woman’s hair and face in particular. The 7 Plus is also less detailed, but remains brighter overall. The 8 Plus and X looked considerably better than the other two, but similar to one another, which makes sense considering they feature many of the same hardware components. Unlike the first picture, we can see a clear trajectory, with steadily sharper images and better lighting with each consecutive model.

Next, we headed to the Kelloggs Store in New York, where they had several boxes of cereal lined up. The lighting for this picture, like the first one, was also pretty good, making it harder to tell a difference between the four devices. If we zoom in on one of the boxes, however, we can still see that the 8 and X produce slightly sharper images than their predecessors.

When looking at images of the Flat Iron building, there is also a noticeable difference. The 6S Plus image was darker and fuzzier than the rest, though, the images produced by the 7 Plus images were similar, if not slightly brighter. The iPhone 8 image looked great, as did the iPhone X, which ended up a bit more blue than the 8. That said, the bluer hue was likely the result of a color temperature decision that was made by the phone in the moment.

Where many cameras tend to struggle is in low-light scenarios, which were the backdrop for the next two photos. Both of these images were taken outside, at night, one with a lit building in the distance and another with statues closer in. The 6S Plus produced relatively dark images, both of which featured a smudged affect. You can, however, begin to see some noticeable improvement as you move toward the newer phones.

The final image — which was essentially our motion blur test — was taken in a bar at night. We took about eight photos with each phone as people moved around the space, and chose the ones that had the least amount of blur. For some reason, the 8 Plus really struggled with producing a clear photo under these conditions, which doesn’t make much sense considering all the other phones, even the 6S Plus, were able to produce decent-looking photos. In the end, we chalked this up to a fluke or user error.

At the end of the day, each camera is capable of producing excellent photos, especially with the right lighting conditions. There is nothing wrong with the 6S Plus photos. They are a bit darker, sure, and not as sharp as they could have been, but it’s only really noticeable when you compare it to the other cameras in our lineup. The 8 Plus and X have similar cameras, and as such, produced nearly identical photos. Point being: The cameras on each phone have steadily gotten better with each iteration, with only minor differences between the iPhone 8 and X.

David Cogen — a regular contributor here at Digital Trends — runs TheUnlockr, a popular tech blog that focuses on tech news, tips and tricks, and the latest tech. You can also find him on Twitter discussing the latest tech trends.

Editors’ Recommendations

  • The big one: Huawei P20 Pro vs. Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus vs. Google Pixel 2 vs. Apple iPhone X
  • Face ID on your iPhone X giving you grief? The fix may surprise you
  • Apple iPhone 8 review
  • We put the last 4 iPhones through a battery beatdown
  • Huawei P20 Pro vs. Apple iPhone X: A battle of flagship smartphones



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10
Jun

Best Samsung phones


Looking for the best Samsung phones? Samsung’s lines, particularly the well-regarded Galaxy series, are filled with many different models for different types of users and they come at a wide variety of prices. Picking one out on your own can be hard. We’re going to help out with a list of the top Samsung phones with details on what makes them great. Check out our list to see what matches your needs, and where you can buy one.

Note that your preferred phone carrier is likely to offer their own versions of these models, but it’s always smart to make sure they sell what you are looking for, or that your chosen unlocked model is compatible with your network.

Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus ($820)

The Galaxy S9 Plus showcases the cutting edge of Samsung tech, and includes a ton of tempting features, including an upgraded, dual-lens camera that is one of the best you can find in any smartphone. Other desirable features, like out-of-the-box waterproofing and wireless charging, are also included. The high definition AMOLED Infinity Display is gorgeous, and there is a big battery, ensuring your phone will last. It’s pretty expensive compared to our other top picks, but you also get the best of everything.

Buy it now at:

Amazon

Samsung Galaxy Note 8 ($750)

Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

If you’re looking for a slightly cheaper price and really like using a stylus with your phone, the Galaxy Note 8 may be an even better pick than the S9 Plus. The 6.3-inch AMOLED screen is one of the most beautiful we have seen, making this phone a pleasure to work on. The dual camera is also very good for snapping photos, and this phone is great for social media use or professional work. It may not quite match the style and power of the S9 Plus, but it’s certainly worth considering.

Buy it now at:

Amazon

Samsung Galaxy S9 ($720)

Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

Knock a hundred bucks off the S9 Plus price tag, downsize the screen to 5.8-inches, and you have the Galaxy S9, an incredibly good phone with a smaller form factor. If you like smaller phones for their pocket fit or easier handling, the S9 may be better than the Plus version. It still comes with water resistance, a wonderful AMOLED screen, wireless charging, and expanded storage options, so you aren’t losing much except for a little screen real estate, a bit of battery capacity, and the second camera on the back with the telephoto lens.

Buy it now at:

Amazon

Samsung Galaxy S8 Active ($849)

Kyle Wiggers/Digital Trends

Do you find that many modern smartphones are a little too fragile for your everyday adventures — and yet you can’t help feeling envious of the latest Galaxy models your friends have? Worry no more, the Galaxy S8 Active is the phone for you. This is a ruggedized version of the Galaxy S series that’s built to survive in tougher conditions. The 5.8-inch, Full HD, AMOLED screen is shatter-resistant, and the frame boasts military-grade metal protection to prevent damage in case of drops onto hard surfaces, even without a protective case (although a case may still be a good idea).

Buy it now at:

Samsung (AT&T version)

Samsung Galaxy A5 ($280)

You don’t have to spend a fortune to snag a decent Samsung smartphone. The A5 is under $300 and it sports a Full HD, 5.2-inch, Super AMOLED screen, 16-megapixel cameras front and back, and plenty of power under the hood. It also has an IP68 rating, meaning it can take a dunk without damage. There’s also 32GB of storage, with an option to expand via the MicroSD card slot. The flat display may lack the attractive curves of Samsung’s top phones, but with a metal unibody the A5 is still good-looking and a bargain at this price.

Buy it now at:

Amazon

Samsung Galaxy J2 Pro ($125)

The J2 Pro is a great choice if you’re looking for the most affordable Galaxy phone. It gives you the basic Galaxy experience without bumping the price up: That includes a 5-inch AMOLED screen (at a 960 x 540-pixel resolution), 16GB of internal memory, and an 8-megapixel camera with autofocus. It’s a much smaller phone than the new Galaxy S lines too, which makes it handy for those of us who prefer smaller smartphones…and only want the essentials.

Buy it now at:

Amazon

Samsung Convoy 3 ($65)

Yes, the Convoy 3 is a flip phone — which is exactly what some people want. Maybe you never got into the smartphone craze, or maybe you want an extra durable phone design for onsite work where smartphones are just too delicate to use consistently. The Convoy 3 has military-spec ruggedization, dual mics with noise cancellation, and a push-to-talk feature for walkie-talkie fans. Basically, it’s a flip phone that’s still worth buying, and those aren’t always easy to find.

Buy it now at:

Amazon

Editors’ Recommendations

  • Samsung Galaxy S8 vs. Galaxy S8 Plus: Which galactic star should you pick?
  • Samsung Galaxy S9 and S9 Plus: Here’s everything you need to know
  • The Galaxy S9 Plus vs. Galaxy Note 8: Samsung’s heavyweights slug it out
  • Here’s how to buy the brand-new Samsung Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9 Plus
  • HTC U12 Plus vs. Galaxy S9 Plus: Clash of the plus-sized phones



10
Jun

How to fix common Google Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL problems


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Having trouble with your Pixel 2 or Pixel 2 XL? Here’s where you start.

No phone is perfect. And even though the Pixel 2 and 2 XL seem to be pretty solid devices, there are some issues that have cropped up over time as thousands and thousands of them made their way out into the wild. Some of the problems are inherent in all smartphones, others appear in rare cases and a couple are simply unavoidable in the Pixel 2 and 2 XL in particular.

If you’re having trouble with any aspect of your Pixel 2 or Pixel 2 XL, this is a great place to start. We’ve gathered up some of the most common issues owners are having, and accompany them with some possible remedies.

Pixel 2 XL is slow to wake up following June 2018 security patch

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One of the upsides to Google’s Pixel phones is that you’re first in line for big firmware upgrades and monthly security patches. The June 2018 security patch fixed a handful of small bugs, but shortly after users started to download it, complaints started popping up about the larger Pixel 2 XL being considerably slower to wake up.

Instead of the screen powering up in less than a second, multiple owners of the Pixel 2 XL are reporting that it now takes between two and three seconds. There are a few threads on Reddit highlighting the issue, as well as a report on Google’s Issue Tracker.

Some people have found that turning the Always On Display mode resolves the issue, and to do so, head to Settings -> Display -> Advanced -> Ambient Display -> Always On.

Thankfully, Google’s noted that it’s aware of the bug and is looking into it for a permanent solution.

Pixel 2 XL has issues with the proximity sensor

Way back in December 2017, Pixel 2 XL owners started complaining about issues with the proximity sensor following the Android 8.1 update. Screen protectors would cause Always On Display to turn off, turning the screen back on proved to be a challenge while on a call, and more.

All of this seemed to revolve around strange behavior with the proximity sensor, but thanks to the June 2018 security patch, it’s been fixed. As noted in the Android Security Bulletin:

  • A-68114567 & A-74058011 Display Improve consistency of Always On Display Pixel 2 XL
  • A-70282393 Performance Improve proximity sensor behavior Pixel 2 XL

MMS messages aren’t being received properly

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As popular as Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, and other services are, it’s still hard to beat the universal use of good-old texting. Unfortunately for Pixel 2 and 2 XL users, MMS messages aren’t working as they should.

When receiving an MMS file, such as a picture or video, it just shows up as “Message not found.” Google said that it fixed this bug back on March 31, but even so, a lot of users weren’t seeing any resolution. On April 10, Google then noted that:

Although text message issues should already be resolved for some of you, we’ve heard the feedback that this is still a problem for some of you. We’re still investigating this issue with AT&T for those affected, and we’ll post updates here when we know more.

If you’re still experiencing trouble here, it’s reported that the issue is fixed by going to Settings -> Network & Internet -> Mobile Network -> Advanced and then toggling off Enhanced 4G LTE Mode.

Fingerprint sensor is slower (Android P beta only)

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There’s a lot to unpack in Android P, but if you choose to dive into the open beta, be aware that your fingerprint sensor might work a bit slower than you’re used to.

A few members on the Android Central forums have reported that the fingerprint sensor on the Pixel 2 XL doesn’t unlock the phone as fast as it did when running Oreo.

Some users have reported that the sensor is now “ultra slow” with others not noticing any difference at all. Although not yet confirmed, I’d expect we see this patched with the next update to the beta.

Adaptive Battery turns off by itself (Android P beta only)

android-p-beta-adaptive-battery_0.jpg?it

If you downloaded the Android P beta on your Pixel 2, one of the new features you’ve likely been eager to check out is Adaptive Battery — a tool that learns your habits and then limits CPU usage accordingly to extend your battery life even longer.

Turning the feature on is as easy as jumping into settings and tapping on a toggle, but some of our forum users are reporting that Adaptive Battery tends to turn itself off with no prior warning.

To check and see if Adaptive Battery is still turned on, go to Settings -> Battery -> Adaptive Battery. If the toggle is turned off, just tap Use Adaptive Battery to turn it back on. There’s not a fix for this quite yet, but here’s to hoping it’ll be patched in the next beta update.

Screen color is ‘wrong’

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How you feel about the color and saturation of your phone display is a very personal decision, and everyone has different thoughts on what looks “right.” But the Pixel 2 XL in particular has taken heat for not having the most colorful or saturated display out there, to the point of looking dull to some. If you’re not a fan of how your Pixel 2 or 2 XL’s screen looks, you have some options.

Go into your Settings, then Display and tap on Colors and choose between the three options. “Natural” will be the most neutral and simple, “Boosted” will be natural still but with a little extra punch, and “Saturated” will go more over the top with colors. Most people will be happiest with Boosted, but those coming from other OLED phones that are often tuned to offer deeper colors will want to switch to Saturated to keep things familiar.

Noticing screen burn-in

Perhaps the biggest hullabaloo surrounding the Pixel 2 XL has been early reports of image retention and full-on burn-in on the screen. The former isn’t much more than an annoyance — sometimes things that have been shown on the screen for a long time stay there faintly for a bit after switching away. The latter is more of an issue — burn-in seems the same as image retention at first, but the effects are permanent and typically seen for core interface elements like the navigation and status bars.

Don’t go hunting for screen burn-in, but if you see it early you should get a replacement.

The most important thing to say here is that you probably shouldn’t go hunting for signs of screen burn-in on your phone. If you don’t notice it in the regular use of the phone, you shouldn’t have any issue with it — and at the same time, every phone today with an OLED-based screen will have some level of burn-in over time. It’s just a characteristic of the display technology at this point.

But if you’re noticing screen burn-in on your Pixel 2 or 2 XL early on, such as within the first few weeks, you shouldn’t hesitate to contact Google support and get a replacement device. While burn-in is relatively common, it doesn’t typically set in on phones so rapidly — and seeing a considerable amount right from the start isn’t a great sign for how that display will look a year on. Google will offer you at least a two week return period, and you should take advantage of it. For serious cases, Google has also extended its manufacturer defect warranty to a full two years.

Bad battery life

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“I’m seeing bad battery life” is the holy grail of problems that are nearly impossible to diagnose. But here are some good basic principles to follow when trying to improve battery life:

  • Check for power-hungry apps: One badly coded app can be a nuisance; a handful of badly coded apps can destroy your battery. At the end of the day, go into your battery settings, scroll down and see what percentage of your day’s battery life was consumed by which apps. If a single app is using more than 5%, think about if it really needs to be using that much — investigate to see if you can get it to calm down.
  • Uninstall unused apps: A bad app can’t drain your battery if it isn’t installed. If you started up your new Pixel 2 and just installed all 100 apps from your last phone, chances are there are dozens on there you don’t actually need. Uninstall the useless ones — you can always install them later if you decide you need them.
  • Turn off always-on display: It doesn’t have a huge effect, but any time the screen is even partially illuminated it’s using battery. Go into the Display settings and turn off “Always-on” — a nice compromise is keeping “Lift to check phone” turned on to have it illuminate when you grab your phone.
  • Reduce display sleep time: In the same vein, you can set your display to go to sleep quickly when it isn’t being interacted with. By default the phone is at 1 minute, but you can set it as low as 15 seconds if you’d prefer to save the battery instead of the convenience of having the screen stay awake.
  • Use a static wallpaper: Out of the box the phones use a great “living wallpaper” that subtly animates. It looks cool, but also uses up battery. Switch to a static wallpaper, and you’ll save some precious juice.

One thing to consider at some point, particularly on the Pixel 2 with its 2700mAh battery capacity, is that you just won’t be able to get more battery life out of your phone no matter what you do. Even if you follow all of the above steps, you have to use your phone at some point — and if you use it hard, it’s going to drain the battery quickly.

Slow performance

Chances are your Pixel 2 or 2 XL is still zippy, but perhaps 6 or 12 months into owning it you’ll notice it slow down a bit. This is normal, but it’s also preventable! It’s no coincidence that some of the fixes for bad battery life noted above are also applicable to issues with bad performance. The best thing you can do is figure out if there is an app (or multiple apps) running rogue in the background and sapping your processor power or memory.

The best thing you can do is check on misbehaving apps and clear up your storage.

First, go to your battery settings and see if an app is draining an an usual amount of your battery over the course of the day — if it is, there’s a good chance it’s also using up other system resources. While you’re thinking about apps, also consider uninstalling old apps you haven’t used in a while — there’s no need to keep them around, potentially running in the background, if you have no intention of using them.

Next, go into Settings and then Storage to see if you have enough free space on your phone. Chances are if you’re at a critically low storage level you’ll have a notification bothering you about it, but if you’re pushing up past 90% full storage you may run into other performance issues. The Storage settings give you a readout of what’s using up storage, and an option to automatically free up space.

LTE, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and GPS problems

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Dealing with wireless radios is so often referred to as a sort of dark art — something that’s difficult to understand but so often extremely frustrating to deal with. But on phones, we rely on mobile networks, Wi-FI, Bluetooth and GPS on a daily basis. If you’re having troubles with any of the set, here are a few tips to consider trying:

  • Turn the radio off and back on again. Yes, really — just toggle on airplane (flight) mode, and turn it back off about 15 seconds later. Give your various radios a few minutes to reconnect to everything, and see if that fixes your issues.
  • At the same time, power cycle the device on the other end. There’s a good chance the cheap pair of Bluetooth headphones, or the wireless router at home, is what’s having an issue. Turn it off and start over.
  • Forget the network or device you’re having trouble with. Whether it’s a Bluetooth speaker or a Wi-Fi network, go into the network/device list and forget it — start back from scratch and see if it fixes it.
  • Reset network settings by going into Settings, Reset options and “Reset WI-Fi, mobile & Bluetooth.” Confirm you want to reset, and it will return all of these areas back to their defaults. Now you can start fresh and reconnect to each device one at a time to determine where the issue may be.

There are so many potential issues here that it’s tough to get into the details. But start here — and hopefully you get on the right path to troubleshooting where the issues are and how to fix them.

Clicking noise in Pixel 2 earpiece

One of the more peculiar issues on the Pixel 2 in particular is a reported “clicking” or “hissing” noise heard in the earpiece when making a call. It wasn’t present on all calls or all phones, but it’s happening on enough phones that Google has addressed the problem. According to Google it has rolled out a fix for the clicking sound.

Previously, Google had indicating that turning off NFC would fix the problem temporarily, and though some have reported that this doesn’t work, it may be worth a shot if you’re still waiting for that November update. If the problem persists beyond that update, that points to a potential hardware problem and you may want to contact Google support and look for a replacement device if you’re still within your return window.

How to factory reset the Pixel 2 or 2 XL

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For the software-related issues noted here, if the step by step processes to try and fix them don’t work sometimes the only way to go is a full-on factory reset of the phone.

Before going any further, make sure you’ve backed up any data you want to save. Make sure Google Photos is synced, and you have any other important data offloaded to a service like Google Drive or Dropbox. Then, proceed.

Go into Settings and scroll down to select System.
Tap on Reset options and then Erase all data (factory reset).
Scroll down to acknowledge and tap Reset at the bottom.
Confirm your PIN or passcode, and proceed.

After a brief period and a reboot of the phone, it will come back exactly as it did the first day you took it out of the box. Use this opportunity to start anew — don’t necessarily just reinstall all of the same things you had before, because that may be how you had troubles in the first place!

Updated June 2018: Updated this list with the most recent bugs/issues facing the Pixel 2/2 XL.

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

10
Jun

BlackBerry Key2 vs. Apple iPhone X: Which fruit-themed flagship is best?


Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

The physical keyboard had all but disappeared from the smartphone scene when the BlackBerry KeyOne came along last year. Now, BlackBerry is back with a sequel that improves on its predecessor in almost every way. The Key2 has a more stylish design, a better camera, more raw power, and an even bigger battery. But can it possibly topple one of the best smartphones on the market in Apple’s iPhone X? Let’s take a closer look.

Specs

BlackBerry Key2
Apple iPhone X

Size

151.4 x 71.8 x 8.5 mm (5.96 x 2.82 x 0.33 inches)

143.6 x 70.9 x 7.7 mm (5.65 x 2.79 x 0.30 inches)

Weight
168 grams (5.92 ounces)
174 grams (6.14 ounces)

Screen size
4.5-inch IPS LCD
5.8-inch Super Retina AMOLED display

Screen resolution
1,620 x 1,080 pixels (434 pixels per inch)
2,436 x 1,125 pixels (458 ppi)

Operating system
Android 8.1 Oreo
iOS 11

Storage space
64GB (U.S.), 128GB (International)
64GB, 256GB

MicroSD card slot
Yes
No

Tap-to-pay services
Google Pay
Apple Pay

Processor
Qualcomm Snapdragon 660
A11 Bionic

RAM
6GB
3GB

Camera
Dual 12MP, 8MP front
Dual 12MP rear, 7MP FaceTime HD front

Video
Up to 4K at 30 frames per second (fps)
2,160p at 60 fps, 1,080p at 240 fps

Bluetooth version
Bluetooth 5.0
Bluetooth 5.0

Ports
3.5mm headphone jack, USB-C
Lightning

Fingerprint sensor
Yes
No

Water resistance
No
IP67

Battery
3,500mAh
2,716mAh

App marketplace
Google Play Store
Apple App Store

Network support
Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile
AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, Sprint

Colors
Black, silver
Space Gray, Silver

Price
$650
 $1,000

Buy from
BlackBerry

AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, Apple

Review score
Hands-on review
4.5 out of 5 stars

Performance, battery life, and charging

Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

The BlackBerry Key2 is a mixed bag. BlackBerry has eschewed the top Qualcomm processor that’s currently powering most Android flagships, the Snapdragon 845, and opted instead for the Snapdragon 660. There’s no such scrimping in the RAM department because the Key2 has a whopping 6GB, which is paired with 64GB of internal storage and a MicroSD card slot for expansion. The Key2 should be a smooth performer, if not quite as fast as the top phones, but it will certainly be a dream for multitaskers.

Apple’s iPhone X is undoubtedly much faster with its proprietary A11 Bionic processor inside. It’s backed by just 3GB of RAM, but iOS handles memory management differently, so don’t read too much into the fact it has half the RAM of the Key2. The iPhone X comes with 64GB or 256GB of storage and there’s no room for a MicroSD card.

You get a huge 3,500mAh battery in the BlackBerry Key2, which supports Quick Charge 3.0 via the USB-C port. Its predecessor had a smaller battery but offered great battery life, so we expect similarly impressive stamina from the Key2. It may even stretch a couple of days between charges. The iPhone X has a 2,716mAh battery that’s going to need charging every night. Unfortunately, there’s no fast charging out of the box — you’ll have to buy a USB-C to Lightning cable and a USB-C PD power brick, but the iPhone X does have support for Qi wireless charging.

There’s no denying that the iPhone X is the more powerful phone and we think Qi wireless charging is very handy, but Apple really should be including the fast-charging kit in the box considering the high price of the phone. The iPhone X takes this round, but if battery life is a priority for you, then the BlackBerry Key2 may be the one for you.

Winner: Apple iPhone X

Design and durability

Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

The contrast in design is striking, to say the least. The BlackBerry Key2 harks back to an earlier age, but BlackBerry has refined the chunky style of the KeyOne considerably, turning out a lighter phone with a bigger, more usable keyboard. That keyboard takes up a large portion of the front of the phone and means you get a smaller touchscreen. The frame is aluminum and the back is textured for enhanced grip.

Apple’s iPhone X has that distinctive edge-to-edge display with the notch at the top and a stylish glass back. It looks much classier and much more modern than the Key2, though we suspect it would come off a lot worse in a fall. The iPhone X does have one advantage in the durability stakes, however. Because of the keyboard, the BlackBerry Key2 can’t be submerged, whereas the iPhone X has an IP67 rating that means it can survive a dunk in the bath.

Winner: Apple iPhone X

Display

This category is a real mismatch. The iPhone X boasts a 5.8-inch AMOLED screen with a resolution of 2,436 x 1,125 pixels. It’s one of the best displays around and one that you’ll never tire of gazing at. The BlackBerry Key2 has a 4.5-inch IPS LCD with a resolution of 1,620 x 1,080 pixels. It’s almost as sharp as the iPhone X display, but it doesn’t come close to matching the contrast. The iPhone X’s screen is bigger and better.

Winner: Apple iPhone X

Camera

Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

Dual-lens cameras are commonplace now and both of these phones have them. The BlackBerry Key2 has a dual 12-megapixel camera, pairing an f/1.8 aperture with an f/2.6 aperture. The iPhone X also pairs 12-megapixel lenses, but with f/1.8 and f/2.4 apertures. Lower numbers mean a bigger aperture, which should translate to better low-light photography. Of course, there’s a lot more to a camera than the numbers.

The front-facing cameras are pretty similar, but in the video department, the iPhone X pulls ahead with the ability to shoot 4K at up to 60 frames per second and slow motion 1080p at 240fps.

The KeyOne had a surprisingly decent camera, so we expect the Key2 to be similarly solid. We’ve found that the iPhone X camera can go toe-to-toe with the best of them. While we’ve yet to really put the Key2 through its paces, we’ll be surprised if it can match the iPhone X.

Winner: Apple iPhone X

Software and updates

The BlackBerry Key2 is running Android Oreo 8.1 and BlackBerry has made various additions to enhance Android for business users and to improve security and protect your privacy. The Key2 will be getting the Android P update and a further two years of software support. You can also expect BlackBerry to roll out security updates quickly.

The iPhone X runs iOS 11, but will be updated to iOS 12 very soon. It will likely continue to receive updates for many years to come. With no coordination necessary when Apple rolls out updates, the iPhone X will also get new versions swiftly. If you care about software updates, buy an iPhone.

Winner: Apple iPhone X

Special features

Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

You will not find a better physical keyboard on a modern smartphone than the one on the BlackBerry Key2 and that’s very much its unique selling point. The keyboard is 20 percent larger than the KeyOne keyboard and it’s more tactile. You can also customize it to your liking with the ability to assign two tasks to every key, based on short and long presses.

The headline special feature in the iPhone X is FaceID, the new front-facing camera system that can securely recognize your face and unlock the phone automatically. It replaces TouchID, but the change was as much about achieving the all-screen front that Apple wanted as it was about offering something new.

Winner: BlackBerry Key2

Price

Starting from $1,000, the Apple iPhone X is very expensive, even for a top-end flagship. You can spread the cost with a contract through all the major carriers, and it will work on any network.

The BlackBerry Key2 is a lot cheaper at $650 and it should also work on all the major networks.

Overall winner: Apple iPhone X

Because they’re so different, we can’t see too many people weighing these two phones against each other as their next purchase. But if you are, then we recommend the iPhone X. Apart from the keyboard and the battery life, the iPhone X bests the BlackBerry Key2 in every way. It’s one of the fastest phones around, with a stunning display and an excellent camera. The big stumbling block is price. At a full $350 cheaper, the BlackBerry Key2 is much more affordable.

Editors’ Recommendations

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  • Huawei P20 Pro vs. Apple iPhone X: A battle of flagship smartphones
  • BlackBerry Key2 hands-on review
  • The Blackberry Key2: Everything you need to know about 2018’s top keyboard phone



10
Jun

FCC adopts news rules to stop phone companies from ‘slamming’ and ‘cramming’


The Federal Communications Commission has adopted new rules which should make it harder for phone companies and ISPs to take advantage of customers using dishonest sales techniques. In particular, the new rules take aim at the practices known as “slamming” and “cramming.”

Cramming occurs when phone companies add unauthorized charges to your bill at the end of the month. Among mobile carriers, these extra fees often take the form of device insurance, extra features, or bill credits that never actually materialize, despite repeated promises from sales reps. These sorts of practices are most commonly found among wireless franchise stores where sales associates work on commission and are sometimes not even employed by the company they claim to be representing. Among ISPs and cable providers, this can often take the form of switching customers to bundles without their express consent.

The FCC’s statement says that its new rules will ensure that there is “a clear ban on misrepresentations made during sales calls.” The organization has also increased the protections available to consumers who have fallen victims to such dishonest practices.

Slamming refers to dishonest tactics designed to trick unwary customers into switching to a different service provider. Under the new rules, if a salesperson is found to have been dishonest or deceptive when obtaining a customer’s permission to switch services, the customer’s consent will be revoked. Furthermore, if carriers are found to have misled third-party verification services, their access to such services will be revoked for several years. According to the FCC, unethical companies will even go so far as to call customers and ask them questions unrelated to their service and then edit those answers in a manner meant to deceive third-party verification services.

Technically speaking, these practices are already against the law, but the FCC is hoping that these new rules and guidelines will make it easier to enforce existing regulations and provide better safeguards for consumers.

Given the FCC’s successful efforts in repealing net neutrality, it is good to see the organization taking a stance that could provide real benefits to consumers. This is assuming, of course, that these new regulations are appropriately enforced.

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10
Jun

IBM and the Department of Energy show off the world’s fastest supercomputer, Summit


IBM and the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory have revealed the world’s “most powerful and smartest scientific supercomputer.” Known as Summit, IBM says that its new computer will be capable of processing 200,000 quadrillion calculations per second. To put that into perspective, if every person on Earth did a single calculation per second, it would take 305 days to do what Summit does in a single second. Assuming those numbers are accurate, that would make Summit the world’s fastest supercomputer. It would also mark the first time since 2012 that a U.S. computer held that title.

Summit has been in the works for several years now and features some truly impressive specs. According to Tech Crunch, the computer will feature 4,608 compute servers, 22 IBM Power9 chips and six Nvidia Tesla V100 GPUs each. In addition, the machine will feature more than 10 petabytes of memory. As the Nvidia GPUs attest, this machine will be primarily used for the development of artificial intelligence and machine learning. In addition to the the work on A.I., Summit will also be used for research into energy and other scientific endeavors at Oak Ridge.

IBM was the Department of Energy’s general contractor for the Summit project, but they also had the help of several other partners within the tech industry. The GPUs were provided by Nvidia, which remains one of the leaders in cutting-edge GPU development. Mellanox and Redhat were also brought on to work on the development of Summit.

While Summit is the most powerful of the Department of Energy’s supercomputers, it is not the only that is being developed. Work is also being done on a less powerful computer known as Sierra. Sierra will be used at the  Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and will be clock in at 125 pertraflops. While this makes it less powerful than Summit, it is still more advanced than anything else the Department of Energy currently has access to.

Both Sierra and Summit are scheduled to go online sometime this year and will provide a much-needed boost to the U.S’s arsenal of supercomputers. In recent years, the top spots were held by other countries, but Summit is the United States’ chance to retake the lead.

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10
Jun

Players can team to explore a shared world when ‘Anthem’ debuts in February 2019


Prior to the E3 2018 gaming conference, Electronic Arts revealed that Anthem will arrive on the Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC on February 22, 2019. At the show, members of BioWare sat down on the stage to answer a few questions about the upcoming shooter, and presented a demo to remind us of the awesome gameplay coming next winter.

To some degree, Anthem is similar to Destiny in that you can play through the main story on your own — although BioWare says it’s “challenging” — or team up with others in co-op gameplay. Anthem is also designed to host additional stories for “years to come,” just like the Destiny games. That extended shelf life could include a new moment with a character you’ve come to love, a mission taking you deep into the lore, or a world event.

But the huge difference between Destiny and Anthem is the latter game’s environment, as it’s constantly changing based on seasons, weather, world events, and so on. Based on the demo, you mostly travel from point A to point B, flying in your highly customizable “Javelin” exosuits. BioWare promises deep customization given you’re wearing these outfits for the long haul, including changing their geometry and colors.

Players assume the role of a freelancer who’s uniquely skilled to drive these suits. There are four in all: The Ranger that’s good at one-on-one combat, the Colossus designed for heavy artillery, the Storm, and the Interceptor. You can switch between these suits depending on the mission at hand, your mood, and other factors. You’ll also have an option to purchase cosmetic and vanity items, but that’s it: There will be no “loot boxes” or premium weapons/armor to purchase.

The design of Anthem centers around an “our world, my story” concept. When out in the open world, you face a dangerous environment and focus on completing the current mission. This is where other players can join. All gamers play in a living, shared world and everyone experiences the same changes in weather, rise and fall of the sun, etc.

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After completing a mission, you can return to your base and collect your rewards. This aspect is a “single-player” experience where you converse with characters and face the consequences of your actions. According to BioWare, this is where your story “really lives and breathes.” Anthem will not be an MMO, nor will it be a multiplayer game with a story tacked on.

Lead writer Cathleen Rootsaert said the gods abandoned their massive tools and left the world unfinished. These tools are in constant conflict with an “unknowable force” called the Anthem of Creation. The chaos caused between those two factors is constantly reshaping the world, causing violent storms, mutated creatures, gigantic monsters, and more. It’s a dangerous world that requires exosuits and comrades.

As for the gameplay demo, it revealed a lot of flying. The mission had a team invade a base housing a superweapon, and ended when they entered the heart of the base and a giant monster dropped in to say hello.

Editors’ Recommendations

  • EA shows more ‘Anthem’ and ‘Battlefield V’ at E3 2018, debuts all-access subscription
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  • Here’s what to expect from Electronic Arts at EA Play 2018
  • ‘Destiny 2: Warmind’ review
  • ‘God of War’ review



10
Jun

OnePlus fixing in-person vulnerability that makes phone easy to hack


oneplus-6-mirror-black-with-boxes.jpg?it

Flaw allows a modified boot image to load and grant complete admin control to anyone with the know-how.

The OnePlus 6 is a really great phone for not a lot of money. It’s easy to see why anyone would want to buy one, and if you recently pick one up, you need to be aware of a new exploit that could give the right person complete control over your device.

First reported at XDA Developers, president of Edge Security, Jason Donenfeld (under his XDA username zx2c4) shows that the flaw allows a person who has access to your phone and a computer to boot the system using a modified image. Notice the “has access to your phone and a computer” part — this only works when the phone is tethered via USB to a computer with the right tools and software. Nothing you download or install can do this.

The #OnePlus6 allows booting arbitrary images with `fastboot boot image.img`, even when the bootloader is completely locked and in secure mode. pic.twitter.com/MaP0bgEXXd

— Edge Security (@EdgeSecurity) June 9, 2018

This exploit works while the bootloader is still locked. That means it doesn’t depend on you having already enabled developer settings, enabled USB debugging, or enabled bootloader unlocking. That’s why it’s a serious problem even though you can unlock the bootloader on the OnePlus 6 manually if you like.

A custom image that places files in the correct location and changes a few system parameters can alter the system permanently, which could allow the OnePlus 6 to be rooted. While some users might think rooting a phone while keeping the bootloader locked is a good thing, having an exploit that allows anyone to do it once they have your phone in their hands is not.

OnePlus has responded to an inquiry by Android Police and says:

We take security seriously at OnePlus. We are in contact with the security researcher, and a software update will be rolling out shortly.

We hope this can be fixed in short order by a simple over-the-air update.

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  • Join the discussion in the forums

10
Jun

The LeveTop is a cylindrical, vertical drone that looks like a coffee mug


You’ve never seen a drone that looks like a coffee mug. That is, until you see the LeveTop. What makes this particular quadcopter particularly interesting isn’t necessarily its flight capabilities (though they’re impressive) or its camera (though it’s more than capable of getting the job done). Rather, it’s the fact that the LeveTop almost looks like a thermos when it’s packed away, only to morph into an autonomous and intelligent drone capable of exploring the skies on your behalf.

Undeniably the most noteworthy aspect of the LeveTop is the compact quadruple folding frame. Its vertical, cylindrical shape looks unlike anything else on the market — at least that we’ve  seen — and the design is about more than just aesthetics. As LeveTop founder Longway Wang told Forbes, the shape of the drone actually helps it fly a bit more steadily, and of course, makes it more portable, too. When you’re finished using LeveTop, you need only to fold down its wings, and you can grab the body of the drone and be on your merry way — there will be no extruding, fragile parts to speak of. Adding to its portability, the unit weighs less than a pound..

As for the technical specs of the drone, the LeveTop is capable of flying for 20 minutes at a time at speeds of up to 33 miles per hour, and can reach an altitude of 100 meters above the ground. With four brushless motors, it should be able to get air quite quickly and keep tabs on everything it sees, as the drone is outfitted with a 1080p camera with a 4µm pixel size that should be able to take both photos and videos.

The drone also boasts an advanced GPS system that will follow you wherever you go  –provided, of course, that you’re carrying your smartphone, which must be synced to the drone to get it to work properly.

Wang is reasonable when it comes to his expectations for the drone. While it’s admittedly not the most powerful nor the most affordable, it is still accessible and useful enough for most drone enthusiasts to get their feet wet.

“The drone industry is just beginning,” he told Forbes. “As A.I. and 5G take shape and become more widespread in a few years, drone performances will improve, and the market will grow bigger.”

And thus far, the LeveTop has met with considerable success. It blew past its initial fundraising goal on Indiegogo, ultimately raising nearly $240,000. And while you should still exercise caution whenever taking part of a crowdfunding project, if the design of the LeveTop has caught your eye, a contribution of $179 should get you one of these drones by July 0f this year.

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10
Jun

Almost a quarter of Tesla Model 3 orders refunded, according to report


Despite the optimism and hope from fans for the success of the Tesla Model 3, it seems even some of its potential customers weren’t happy with the issues the company’s been having with the EV’s launch. According to Recode, another production delay recently made headlines, causing a new peak of pre-order cancellations — nearly a quarter of all Model 3’s initial reservations.

Since Tesla’s Elon Musk announced the Model 3 over two years ago, the company began accepting $1,000 deposits while promising the delivery of these vehicles by 2018. Bouncing off of the success of the Model S and Model X, Tesla managed to score several hundred thousand reservation orders.

Things went awry fast, however, as Tesla struggled with production roll-out and quality control issues that made headlines across the world. This caused both customer and investor confidence to dwindle very quickly, leading many to question the company’s validity and ability to produce a mass-market electric vehicle on such a massive scale to be the “EV alternative to a BMW 3-Series.” It also raised eyebrows over the handling of the company’s finances.

Many customers have been demanding their money back as a result of these production issues. New data surfaced around the end of April this year from financial data firm Second Measure. The company sorts and analyzes data regarding billions of dollars of anonymized credit and debit card purchases.

The firm discovered that Tesla refunded almost 23 percent of all Model 3 deposits in the U.S. In the grand scheme of things, this isn’t a back-breaking number and cancellations are expected to a certain degree. But while Tesla received around 450,000 reservations last quarter, the company only delivered 8,180 Model 3s. Yea, it’s that far behind.

Potential Tesla Model 3 customers are still supposedly eligible to replace a deposit for a Model 3 when production becomes steadier. But this still might have an effect on Tesla’s near-future performance in sales, as customers could simply choose an entirely different car brand and model altogether.

Recode spoke to a Tesla representative, who said that Second Measure’s data doesn’t accurately portray the company’s internal data. The same representative didn’t disclose the size of the data discrepancy, however.

This isn’t to discredit Second Measure, since the same firm accurately discovered that of the 518,000 gross reservations, the company only netted around 455,000 reservation confirmations (Elon Musk confirmed this data back in August). This implies that there were around 63,000 cancellations, resulting in a 12 percent cancellation rate.

Editors’ Recommendations

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