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1
Jul

Float off the grid with this solar-powered tiny home houseboat


If you like to fish and are intrigued by the tiny home movement and the concept of living off the grid, Quebec-based Daigno‘s Le Koroc 3-float pontoon houseboat offers a lifestyle that combines all three elements.

Houseboats appeal to people who relish living on the water with no permanent address. Because the 5,640 pound, trailerable 3-pontoon Le Koroc is light enough to tow with a medium-sized pickup truck or SUV, the vessel is also relatively easy to move on land.

Full-time living on Le Koroc could be challenging, but the Daigno houseboat is ready for off-grid fishing trips and short-term escapes.


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The 26-foot long, 8-foot 6-inch wide Le Koroc is available in two configurations. The differences between the two are limited to the built-ins on their respective 10-foot 11-inch long by 8-foot 4-inch wide decks.

The Fishing Series has a live fish tank, a cleaning station, fishing rod and net holders, and a downrigger. The Holiday Series replaces the fishing-centric elements with seating and a small center table.

The cabin configuration is identical with each version of the tiny houseboat. The 13-foot 1-inch long by 8-foot 6-inch wide enclosed space has a kitchen area with sink, 2-burner stove, fridge, and cupboard. The cabin also contains a 3-fixture bathroom, a 2-person bistro table, and a rear area that configures for dining, seating, or sleeping. Small storage spaces are spread around the cabin but don’t count on stowing much.

The Daigno cabin is built of laminated white cedar beams and ultralight plywood. The exterior deck flooring is marine grade plywood with a vinyl membrane overlay. The boat has a painted metal roof and painted aluminum windows and patio door.

Additional Choices for Nautical Enjoyment


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The biggest, most extravagant superyachts

Standard equipment with Le Koroc includes a 90-horsepower outboard motor, a dashboard and instrument panel with sonar, 192-liter gas tank, and a marine battery for the outboard.

A 265-watt solar panel connected to a switched and fused electrical panel charges two 6-volt batteries for lighting and the refrigerator. The vessel comes with a Suburban 6-gallon water heater, a Nova Kool 4.5-cubic foot 12-volt refrigerator, and a 2-burner propane stove fueled by a 30-pound propane tank. In addition to standard navigation lights, the houseboat has indoor and outdoor recessed LED lighting.

Water systems include a 56-liter fresh water tank and a charcoal-based gray water filtration system. There are three toilet options: bio-controlled litter, chemical with integrated reservoir, and compost by Nature’s Head.

Le Koroc lists for just under $61,000. An optional 4-wheel, 2-axle galvanized trailer with hydraulic disc brakes costs $5,000. Available options include an 8K BTU propane heater, a fish tank with pump, a protective top for the deck, and canvas tops, and more.

Editors’ Recommendations

  • Best travel trailers
  • The Escapod is a stylish, full-featured backcountry travel trailer
  • The best camping stoves
  • 12 cool houseboats that will set your imagination adrift
  • Tank vs. tankless heaters: Why tankless is not always the best choice



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1
Jul

Useful iOS 12 tips and tricks


Apple’s iOS 12 mobile operating system introduces a ton of new features, with more options to help boost productivity on your iPhone. But updating to a new operating system can be overwhelming, so we’re here to make the adjustment far easier with some useful iOS 12 tips and tricks. If you want to check it out for yourself, here’s how to download iOS 12.

How to check battery performance

To check on your battery, tap on Settings > Battery and you will find graphs that highlight your battery level and usage time over the last 24 hours. Below that is a more detailed report showing how much time is spent with the screen on and off, along with the percentage of how much battery power was put toward the apps you are using. There is also an option to view your battery usage over the last 10 days.

While it was first introduced in iOS 11, you can access battery health information as well, by tapping on Battery Health listed above the graph.

How to use Screen Time

Brenda Stolyar/Digital Trends

In an effort to help us use our smartphones less, iOS 12 comes with a new app called Screen Time. This is where you can set time limits for apps, check on your smartphone usage, and also schedule Downtime. With Downtime, you can schedule time away from your smartphone which will restrict certain apps from sending notifications.

How to manage grouped notifications

Brenda Stolyar/Digital Trends

In iOS 12, notifications on your lock screen are now grouped together. By swiping to the left on a specific notification, you can tap on Manage, which brings you to two options: Deliver Quietly and Turn Off. If you choose for future notifications from that particular app to deliver quietly, alerts will bypass the lock screen and will only show up in the Notification Center. Turning them off will stop notifications from coming in completely.

Under Settings, you can choose whether you want the notifications grouped a certain way. If you choose Automatic, then the notifications will be grouped by the same app but in different stacks. For instance, if you receive text messages from two separate people, you will see each message stacked into two different piles. There is also the option to group By App so that all of your text messages will be compiled into one stack regardless of who texted you.

For those who want to revert back to the original way notifications appear on the lock screen, there is also the option to turn off the setting completely.

How to edit photos and add stickers in iMessage

Using the camera app in iMessage, you can now have more fun with your photos. By tapping on the star icon in the lower left-hand corner, you will enable the selfie camera. From there, you’re able to add decorations like stickers (which can be downloaded via the App Store) and shapes, along with your Animoji and Memoji, that you can overlay on your face.

Once you’re done adding your decor, tapping on the ‘X’ brings you to the camera shutter button. When you’re satisfied with your photo, you can embed it into the message window by tapping on the blue arrow.

How to add another Face ID profile

In iOS 12, you can now add two different Face ID profiles to unlock your phone. Go to Settings > Face ID & Passcode and tap Set Up an Alternate Appearance. Once you scan your Face ID using the camera, tap Done and the setup will be complete.

How to add shortcuts to Siri

With Siri Shortcuts, you can assign quick actions, but the feature is still in beta, so there is not much you’re able to do with it at the moment. For now, you can customize voice commands to trigger a specific action like View Recent Photos. To create voice commands, go to Settings > Siri & Search > My Shortcuts and tap Add Shortcuts. From there, you can choose from ones that Siri recommends based on your activity or create your own by tapping the plus sign.

How to enable trackpad mode

For devices that don’t have 3D Touch features, iOS 12 has a keyboard mode that turns it into a virtual trackpad. By holding down the spacebar, you can then drag your finger around to select specific text. Once you let go, you can then tap on the text to copy, cut, paste, share, and more.

How to access shortcuts in iMessage

In iOS 11, accessing more options requires tapping on the information icon in the upper right-hand corner. From there, you’re able to choose from FaceTime, FaceTime audio, and more details — such as images, attachments, location, and the ability to hide alerts or send read receipts.

With iOS 12, the information icon is more hidden but it makes the iMessage interface look cleaner. You can find it by tapping on the contact name within the message window, which also presents you with shortcuts for FaceTime and audio — tapping on those icons will enable either FaceTime option.

How to turn on Do Not Disturb at bedtime

Brenda Stolyar/Digital Trends

Do Not Disturb received an overhaul with iOS 12, allowing you to customize the setting a bit more. Aside from being able to set specific times that you would like for your phone to kick into Do Not Disturb mode via your Settings, you can also turn on Bedtime Mode. Depending on the hours you set, this will silence all notifications until the morning. The screen will dim and only display the date and time, and will also let you know that it’s now set to that mode.

How to manage Voice Memo app settings

Brenda Stolyar/Digital Trends

Aside from a redesign to Voice Memo, you can also make a few tweaks via your Settings. For the Voice Memos app, you’re now able to permanently delete voice memos after a specific amount of time and choose between different files types: AAC (smaller file size) or Uncompressed (larger file size). You can also choose whether you want the memo to save by location or by recording number.

Editors’ Recommendations

  • iOS 12’s best new features
  • Measure, Apple Books, Shortcuts: Our favorite new and updated apps in iOS 12
  • Apple iOS 12 hands-on review
  • iPhone notifications are no longer a nuisance with iOS 12
  • Live updates: How to watch Apple’s WWDC 2018 keynote



1
Jul

LG Smart TVs, Sphero robots, MacBook laptops, and more are all discounted today


Whether you’re looking for new tech gear or household items, we’ve got you covered.

We found plenty of great deals today that include big discounts at Best Buy’s 4th of July sale event, along with deals on LG smart TVs, Sphero robots, and more! Time’s running out to take advantage of these prices, so hurry!

View the rest of the deals

If you want to know about the deals as soon as they are happening, you’ll want to follow Thrifter on Twitter, and sign up for the newsletter, because missing out on a great deal stinks!

1
Jul

Best Philips Hue Alternatives in 2018


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What’s the best alternative to Philips Hue? Here are our favorites!

Philips Hue smart lights are some of the coolest on the market and they’re definitely some of the most popular, but they can be quite expensive, especially once you get into colored bulbs. If you’re looking for a less expensive alternative or just something other than what’s popular, then check out these other awesome options.

  • GE Link Starter Kit
  • LIFX A19 Wi-Fi Smart Bulb
  • Lucero A19 Smart Bulb
  • Cree A19 LED Bulb
  • Sylvania Lightify by Osram
  • Flux Bluetooth Smart LED bulb
  • IKEA Tradfri
  • Eufy Lumos
  • Nanoleaf Aurora Rhythm Smarter Kit
  • Z-Wave

GE Link Starter Kit

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This starter kit from GE features two A19 LED bulbs and a link hub, allowing you to control all GE bulbs through the Wink mobile app. Although these bulbs only come in a soft white, they’re great for general use around your home, while still having complete control over scheduling. The GE Link starter kit is also compatible with Amazon Echo, but requires the Wink hub. Pricing starts around $60 for the bundle.

See at Amazon

LIFX A19 Wi-Fi Smart Bulb

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The LIFX Wi-Fi bulb provides 16 million colors and 1,000 shades of white, connecting over your Wi-Fi network without the need for a hub. Simply download the LIFX app and gain control of lighting effects and custom schedules to suit your needs. Each A19 bulb only consumes 17 watts of energy and has a lumen count of 1017. LIFX bulbs even work with Nest Protect and Thermostat, flashing the lights when smoke is detected or switching the lights on and off automatically to make it appear as if someone is home while you’re away on vacation. You can order the LIFX bulb starting at $60 for one. LIFX bulbs are Amazon Certified to work with Alexa.

See at Amazon

Lucero A19 Smart Bulb

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This colorful LED Bluetooth bulb from Lucero can be customized through the Lucero Smart Bulb app, where you can sync with your music and even control up to 50 bulbs in various groups (up to five). With over 16 million colors, there are plenty of options to suit your mood while managing to stay energy efficient at only 7.5 watts. These affordable smart bulbs are available for just $35 each.

See at Amazon

Cree A19 LED Bulb

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The daylight (5000K) dimmable Cree LED bulb is compatible with multiple platforms, including Amazon Echo, Wink, WeMo, and more. After setting up with a compatible hub, you can schedule your Cree bulbs to turn on and off at any specific time, adjust brightness, or even customize them to work while you’re away from home as an extra security measure. Each Cree bulb is only 11.5 watts and is available for about $15 — not bad for its 22-year lifespan.

See at Amazon

Sylvania Lightify by Osram

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The best feature of the Lightify bulbs by Osram is that they’re compatible with Alexa. If you have an Echo in your house, then these will work right out of the box (so long as you have a hub), so you can control your lights with just your voice!

Lightify comes in RGBW, tuneable white, and soft white, so you have your choice of light temperature to best suit your room. Just download the Lightify app, and you’re on your way. These bulbs fit into standard sockets, and you can adjust color temperature in the RGBW and tuneable white bulbs to best fit your mood or needs (soft white when it’s time to chill, daylight to help you stay awake). Pricing starts at $34 for a color bulb, but you can get a 2-pack for $65.

See at Amazon

Flux Bluetooth Smart LED bulb

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Flux bulbs are color-changing bulbs that work via Bluetooth instead of Wi-Fi like the other bulbs on this list, which means you won’t be able to control them with you’re not at home. That being said, you can still schedule actions, like having the bulbs turn on when you’re away from home or to wake you up in the morning.

Flux bulbs feature over 16 million colors, which you control directly from the Flux app. You can control the mode (strobe, shifting colors, etc.), and these will even sync with music on your phone to add some extra atmosphere to your dance party.

Flux bulbs come in 7- or 10-watt (60-watt equivalent) iterations and are available for around $34.

See at Amazon

IKEA Tradfri

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Believe it or not, IKEA has some pretty rad smart bulbs that are inexpensive (around $18/bulb) and work well. They have a brightness equal to roughly a 70-watt incandescent bulb and are dimmable using the Tradfri remote. In fact, you can control up to 10 bulbs, panels, or light doors, which are all dimmable as well. You can also switch from warmer-colored light to cooler hues depending on your mood and the time of day.

Thanks to community member snapphane for the tip!

See at IKEA

Eufy Lumos

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Eufy’s tunable Lumos bulbs are rather affordable at roughly $21 (if you don’t want tunable, you can opt for straight soft white for about $20), and the ability to adjust from warm to cool light is perfect for setting the right mood and ambiance.

You can adjust everything right in the Eufy app, and these bulbs are Amazon certified to work with Alexa, as well as compatible with Google Assistant. You can set schedules, turn the bulbs off from anywhere there’s an internet connection, and you get an 18-month warranty should anything go wrong. Best part is that there’s no hub needed!

See at Best Buy

Nanoleaf Aurora Rhythm Smarter Kit

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It’s kind of a travesty that I’ve left this off the list for so long. The Nanoleaf Aurora isn’t just a smart lighting setup; it’s wall art. Gorgeous, light-up wall art. The best part is that “rhythm” isn’t just in the name. The Aurora’s nine-panel system lights up along with your favorite tunes, and you can orient the panels in anyway you like. For $230, you get the nine LED panels, an upgrade module, panel links, mounting stencils, pads, a power supply, and a controller unit.

See at Best Buy

Z-Wave

Z-Wave isn’t a bulb, but a technology that allows many switches to be used to wirelessly control normal, everyday lightbulbs. With any Z-Wave switch, you can control not-smart bulbs via a great smart home hub — no need to pay through the nose for smart bulbs that last decades (though they are a pretty solid investment).

The light of your life

Which smart lights do you use? Sound off in the comments below!

Updated June 2018: Updated pricing for each item and added the Nanoleaf Aurora Rhythm Smarter Kit.

1
Jul

Best Large Screen (Phablet) Android Phone in 2018


When you need a big screen, you have tons of choices.

  • Best overall
  • Best runner-up
  • Best budget option
  • Best camera quality
  • Best with a stylus

Best overall

Samsung Galaxy S9+

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See at Amazon

The Galaxy S9+ is all about giving you the most features in the most beautiful package with a really big screen to take it all in. You get top-end specs across the board, plus all of the hardware features you expect: waterproofing, wireless charging, an SD card slot, a headphone jack and more.

The camera is all-new this year, with a sensor that does fantastic processing to remove noise and sharpen fine detail. It’s aided by a dual-aperture lens to get the best combination of light and detail in different shots, and is paired with a secondary telephoto lens for zoom and portrait mode shooting.

You don’t get the clean and simple software experience of the Pixel 2 XL, which may take some extra customization and tweaking on your part, but the Galaxy S9+ is far less polarizing overall — just about anyone looking for a high-end phone will love using it.

Bottom line: The Galaxy S9+ doesn’t require much thought — it can do everything, and looks great doing it, with few real downsides.

One more thing: You may be tempted by the Note 8 (or upcoming Note 9), but unless you really need the S Pen you should just stick with the Galaxy S9+.

Why the Samsung Galaxy S9+ is the best large screen (phablet) Android phone

The Samsung Galaxy S9+ builds on years of Samsung’s excellence making some of the most popular and best-selling phones around the world. It starts with a gorgeously sculpted metal and glass body, available in three colors, that’s waterproof but still includes great features like dual speakers, a headphone jack and an SD card slot. Inside are the latest and greatest specs, plus a standout pair of cameras on the back and the best display on the market around front.

Samsung designs its phones to be appealing to the widest possible audience.

Samsung designs its phones to be appealing to the widest possible audience, and that makes the Galaxy S9+ a great device for just about anyone. It has a big and beautiful display that’s quite simply the best in the industry, but with very small bezels and curved edges it fits into a relatively compact size.

Internally, it has all of the latest specs to handle any app or task you need. It also has a pair of cameras on the back that are in the mix as the best available today. Samsung has also kept around crowd-pleasing features like wireless charging, waterproofing, an SD card slot and a headphone jack. Really, the Galaxy S9+ does a great job at being all things to all people.

Best of all, if you don’t care for the larger size of the Galaxy S9+ for whatever reason, you can simply buy the smaller and less expensive Galaxy S9 instead and get the same core experience with only a few changes.

Is it a good time to buy?

Yes. The Samsung Galaxy S9+ launched the first week of March 2018, meaning it is still the latest and great phone that Samsung makes. The Galaxy Note 9 is expected to be on sale in late August 2018, which will likely be only a marginal improvement over the Galaxy S9+, and the Galaxy S9+’s successor will not be unveiled until March 2019.

8 reasons to buy

  • Big, best-in-class display by all measures
  • Sleek and beautiful hardware in multiple color options
  • Top-notch specs, waterproofing, wireless charging and more
  • Up to 256GB of storage available, plus an SD card slot
  • Fantastic dual cameras that take great photos
  • Every software feature you could ask for
  • Dual speakers and a headphone jack
  • Available in just about every region on every carrier imaginable

3 reasons not to buy

  • Lots of unnecessary apps and features
  • Long-term software update speed is a concern
  • Curved screen can be difficult for some to use

Runner-up

Google Pixel 2 XL

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See at Best Buy

No phone is perfect for everyone’s needs, and if you find the Galaxy S9+’s software to be overwhelming or grating, you’ll want to look at the Google Pixel 2 XL instead.

Google’s take on Android is clean, fast and a pleasure to use every day — as you’d expect, it also perfectly integrates with Google’s apps and services. The Pixel 2 XL doesn’t have a fantastic screen or headphone jack like the Galaxy S9+ does, but that’s one of the trade-offs you make in order to get this fantastic software experience. The screen is physically smaller as well, at just 6-inches to the Galaxy S9+’s 6.2.

The camera on Google’s flagship is just as good, though, and some would say that the overall experience, aided by that great software, is more consistent and approachable. You also get three years of guaranteed software updates, which provides excellent peace of mind.

Bottom line: The best Android software experience comes straight from Google. Top-notch performance and camera add to the experience, but the screen and more limited availability detract.

One more thing: Even though we recommend the larger Pixel 2 XL, the smaller and cheaper Pixel 2 is just as good, and easier to use with one hand.

Best value

OnePlus 6

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See at OnePlus

These top-end phones are expensive, but that doesn’t mean you’re stuck paying top-dollar for your next upgrade. The OnePlus 6 provides nearly the same experience as these other devices at a substantial discount — just $529.

Even with the lower price, the screen is still very big at 6.28-inches diagonally, though it does have a display notch to take up a tiny bit of that top portion.

You get all of the latest specs inside, and it’s wrapped up in a beautiful metal-and-glass frame not unlike the Galaxy S9+. There are a few shortcomings, like an average display, basic speaker and subpar vibration motor, but the software experience is more akin to the Pixel 2 XL than the Galaxy S9+ — and that’s a good thing.

OnePlus has dramatically improved its camera offering to where the OnePlus 6 is just a stone’s throw away from the top-of-the-line phones, which just adds to the great value this phone offers.

Bottom line: The OnePlus 6 is the phone to buy if you want something cheap, fast, and stylish that still has a huge screen.

One more thing: The OnePlus 6 doesn’t work on Verizon or Sprint, and is only available directly from OnePlus.

Amazing camera

Huawei P20 Pro

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See at Amazon

You may think that the “Leica” branding is a bit of a joke at first, but don’t let that turn you away — the Huawei P20 Pro has an amazing set of cameras that can produce the best photos of any smartphone today. The combination of a 40MP main sensor, an 8MP telephoto camera and a 20MP monochrome sensor give you unending shooting options, and the software pulling it all together knows all of the tricks to create stellar photos.

The screen comes in at 6.1-inches diagonal, which is a tad smaller than the Galaxy S9+, and it also has a display notch at the top that takes up a bit more screen real estate as well.

The rest of the phone experience isn’t subpar, either — Huawei’s built a beautiful phone here with powerful specs. It’s just let down as ever by the Huawei software that heavily tweaks and modifies Android — to a fault. Some can look past that to get those wonderful cameras, though, and will even go so far as to import an international version to the U.S.

Bottom line: With three rear cameras that are all amazing and EMUI software that’s more than tolerable, get this phone for the photos, stay for everything else.

One more thing: The P20 Pro has a 4000mAh battery that should last nearly two days if you go easy on it.

Best with a stylus

Samsung Galaxy Note 8

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See at Amazon

Just 6 months after launching, the Galaxy Note 8 was almost entirely supplanted by the Galaxy S9+ — which is of course our top pick here. The Note 8 is a fantastic phone, but with the addition of features and specs, the Galaxy S9+ is the same or better across the board with a larger battery, newer camera, faster processor and slightly more compact body.

The only trump card the Note 8 can play is that it has a stylus, which is obviously a big deal for a small number of faithful Note owners. For some, having a big screen without the precise input of a stylus is worthless, so the Note 8 lives on for those who need that feature.

Bottom line: If you have to have a stylus, there’s no substitute for the Galaxy Note 8.

One more thing: The Galaxy Note 9 will be announced on August 9 — if you can wait to buy and want the latest and greatest, we recommend that you hold off until then.

Conclusion

The best large screen (phablet) Android phone for most potential buyers is the Samsung Galaxy S9+, as it provides the best experience and most features with a big screen — it’s also available everywhere, from any carrier or retailer you could imagine.

If you’re a bit more discerning about the software experience, you’ll want to look at the Google Pixel 2 XL instead — you’ll have to buy from Verizon or unlocked, and get a little smaller display, but that Google software is worth it for many people. For less money, the OnePlus 6 gives you a near-flagship experience and also has great clean software on a large display. The most versatile camera imaginable can be found in the Huawei P20 Pro, and the rest of the phone isn’t exactly bad — you’ll just have to put up with some software quirks to take advantage of that great imaging.

Best overall

Samsung Galaxy S9+

galaxy-s9-plus-black-back-angle-standing

See at Amazon

The Galaxy S9+ is all about giving you the most features in the most beautiful package with a really big screen to take it all in. You get top-end specs across the board, plus all of the hardware features you expect: waterproofing, wireless charging, an SD card slot, a headphone jack and more.

The camera is all-new this year, with a sensor that does fantastic processing to remove noise and sharpen fine detail. It’s aided by a dual-aperture lens to get the best combination of light and detail in different shots, and is paired with a secondary telephoto lens for zoom and portrait mode shooting.

You don’t get the clean and simple software experience of the Pixel 2 XL, which may take some extra customization and tweaking on your part, but the Galaxy S9+ is far less polarizing overall — just about anyone looking for a high-end phone will love using it.

Bottom line: The Galaxy S9+ doesn’t require much thought — it can do everything, and looks great doing it, with few real downsides.

One more thing: You may be tempted by the Note 8 (or upcoming Note 9), but unless you really need the S Pen you should just stick with the Galaxy S9+.

Update June 2018: Keeping in like with our overall best Android phones picks, the Galaxy S9+ takes over the top spot here on account of its wide availability and broad appeal. The Pixel 2 XL remains as a solid backup choice, and we’ve added the Huawei P20 Pro as an option with an amazing camera. The Note 8 remains, for now, as the choice for people who want a stylus.

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