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4
Sep

Amazon Joins Apple as World’s Second Trillion Dollar U.S. Company


Amazon has officially become the world’s second trillion dollar publicly traded U.S. company, in terms of market cap, which is simply the company’s number of outstanding shares multiplied by its stock price.

Amazon shares briefly crossed the $2,050.27 mark in intraday trading today, giving the online retail giant a market cap of slightly over $1,000,000,000,000, based on its latest total of 487,741,189 outstanding shares. The milestone was fueled by a roughly one percent increase in Amazon’s stock price today.

Apple beat Amazon in the race to a trillion dollar valuation when its stock price crossed $207.05 on August 2. After those two companies, tech rivals Microsoft and Google are closest in line, with market caps around $850 billion and $840 billion respectively as of mid-day trading on Tuesday.

Amazon shares have more than tripled in the past three years, as the company expands upon its dominant position in online and physical retail.

Amazon competes with Apple in a number of areas, with its digital assistant Alexa rivaling Siri and its Prime Music service rivaling Apple Music. Apple is also expected to launch a Netflix-like streaming video service next year, with dozens of original series, that competes with Amazon Prime Video.

Tag: Amazon
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4
Sep

Apple’s 2019 iPhones Won’t Adopt Fingerprint on Display Technology


Apple doesn’t plan to return to fingerprint recognition for biometric authentication features with its 2019 iPhone lineup, according to a new note to investors shared this morning by Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo.

Kuo does not expect Apple’s 2019 iPhones to support fingerprint on display technology, which would allow the iPhone to read a fingerprint through its display, doing away with the need for a physical Home button.

Instead, Apple is likely to continue to use the TrueDepth Camera System for Face ID as a biometric authentication method in the iPhone and other devices.

According to Kuo, Android manufacturers are keen to adopt fingerprint on display technology as a way to differentiate their devices from the iPhone.

All main Android brands currently treat FOD as the important function to differentiate themselves from iPhone (we expect 2H19 iPhone models will not support FOD). The reasons are as follows: (1) The user feedback on the iPhone is lower than expected. (2) The user feedback on the first FOD smartphone, Vivo’s X21 FOD version, is higher than expected, and (3) FOD is the best fingerprint recognition solution for the full-screen design which is necessary for a high-end smartphone.

Kuo last year said that Android manufacturers were several years away from matching the iPhone’s advanced Face ID technology. Companies like Samsung have adopted facial recognition, but not a secure 3D version like Apple has implemented, which is likely another reason Android manufacturers are focusing on fingerprint on display technology.


Over the course of the next year, Kuo expects an increasing number of Android manufacturers to adopt fingerprint on display functionality, encouraged by Vivo’s implementation and advances in technology that will cut down on component pricing and experience.

By the first half of 2019, Kuo is counting on an uptick in fingerprint on display manufacturers, with “marked improvements for user experience” coming due to an upgrade to a larger aperture lens and ultrasonic fingerprint on display mass production.

Samsung, one of Apple’s main competitors, is expected to adopt fingerprint on display technology for its Galaxy S10 during the first quarter of 2019.

Related Roundup: iPhone XSTags: Ming-Chi Kuo, Android
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4
Sep

Apple Seeds Tenth Beta of macOS Mojave to Developers


Apple today seeded the tenth beta of an upcoming macOS Mojave update to developers for testing purposes, one week after releasing the ninth beta and more than two months after introducing the software at the Worldwide Developers Conference.

macOS Mojave introduces a new method of installing software updates, so after the initial beta has been installed using the appropriate profile from the Developer Center, additional betas can be downloaded through opening up System Preferences and choosing the “Software Update” option.

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Apple’s macOS Mojave update introduces a systemwide Dark Mode, with Mojave users able to choose between a light theme or the new dark theme, which changes the color of the dock, menu bar, apps, and other elements. Dark Mode is accompanied by Dynamic Desktops, aka wallpapers that subtly change throughout the day. Additional wallpapers were introduced in the fourth and fifth betas.

Stacks, a new desktop organization system, keeps all of your desktop files neat and organized, while Finder has been enhanced with a Gallery View, a Sidebar, a revamped Quick Look option and Quick Actions, so you can do more in the Finder window than ever before.

Screenshots can now be edited using Markup tools and a new management options that also allow for easy screen recording, while Continuity camera, a new feature, allows you to import photos and document scans directly from an iPhone or iPad to the Mac.


The Apple News, Stocks, Home, and Voice Memos apps have been ported from iOS to macOS as part of a multiyear project Apple is working on to make it easier to bring iOS apps to Macs, and Apple has introduced several new privacy protections to keep your data safer than ever.

Apple is also making it harder for websites to track you with a range of new Safari tools, and it’s also easier to make and store secure, hard-to-guess passwords for each and every website.

Apple has added an entirely revamped Mac App Store to macOS Mojave that makes it easier to discover apps with a featured section and specific categories for games, creative apps, productivity apps, apps for developers, and more.


macOS Mojave was initially supposed to include a Group FaceTime feature that includes support for chatting with up to 32 people at one time, but it was removed in macOS Mojave beta 7 and the feature won’t be available until later in the year.

macOS Mojave is available to developers and public beta testers to work out bugs and other issues ahead of an upcoming fall public release.

Related Roundup: macOS Mojave
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4
Sep

LG G7 One hands-on: Android One, but one stripped down device


Earlier this year, LG launched the G7 — a no-frills device bringing the best of Android into a solid package, at a price consumers found hard to swallow. While reception of the G7 has gotten more positive as the device’s price has declined, LG decided to develop an even simpler device with stripped down internals at a lower price. Can a cheaper G7 prevail on such a competitive market?

This is our hands-on with the LG G7 One.

The LG G7 One focuses on delivering a pure Android One experience with a new level of integration with the Google ecosystem. It’s the most powerful Android One phone to date, though it’s also clearly a tier below the LG G7 ThinQ in order to be more affordable.

The LG G7 One is more like a G7 Lite. But the G7 One is more than just another cheap phone. It’s a mid-ranged device, but it has some of the best parts of the G7 ThinQ hanging in there.

Last year’s specs are now considered mid-range, and that’s a pretty good deal for most consumers.

Let’s take a look at what these two devices have in common:

LG G7 One vs. LG G7 ThinQ – what’s the same:

  • 6.1-inch Super LCD Display with notch
  • 3,000mAh battery
  • Expandable storage
  • IP68 rated for dust and water resistance
  • MIL-STD 810G certified for sturdiness
  • Hi-Fi Quad DAC audio for headphones
  • Dedicated Google Assistant button for fine AI control

What’s different on the LG G7 One:

  • Android One
  • Snapdragon 835, down from 845
  • 4GB of RAM (with no 6GB option)
  • 32GB internal storage only
  • Single-shooter, dropping the secondary wide-angle lens
  • 156g, dropping 6g
  • Two colors only
  • Qualcomm Quick Charge 3.0, dropping from 4.0

LG G7 One Camera

Affordability is all about compromises

The G7 One opts for some more affordable hardware, dropping its specs down the still more-than-capable Snapdragon 835, with 4GB of RAM. This is plenty of power for most phones, especially if they run the unencumbered Android One.

The battery, at the same 3,000mAh capacity, is probably going to remain one of the weaker elements of the G7. It was in the G7 ThinQ, and even with some lower specs, we aren’t expecting much more life out of the G7 One.

We’ll wait until we can do real testing for a verdict, but it’s risky of LG not to add more capacity given battery life reviewed poorly in the flagship. Adding a touch of misery is the fact that the G7 One only supports QuickCharge 3.0, so it’ll be that little bit slower charging back up.

The one unforgivable spec for me personally is the 32GB of storage. Sure, the microSD expansion in this phone allows you to bump the capacity as high as you would need, but you shouldn’t have to buy extra accessories to make phones usable in 2018. Some people may disagree with my opinion, but with our media continually becoming more rapidly accessible and high quality, I would have liked this device to come with 64GB.

LG G7 One Front

What remains is quality

On the plus side, the G7 One sticks with what LG does well. It’s still got peace-of-mind waterproofing via the IP68 rating and the MIL-STD 810G certification, plus great audio with the Quad DAC. The display is the same Super Bright 1,000 nits release as well, and while we’d all like to see LG’s pOLED display technology in this phone, that’s not going to happen on a budget release.

Brushed glass is a great option if you hate fingerprints

The body of the LG G7 One is made of brushed glass, which feels a bit like plastic, but it’s also much better at hiding fingerprints. Buttons, ports, and layout are mostly the same compared to the G7, so you’ll feel at home here if you liked the design of that device. It’s so similar that the rear camera is curious. The rear camera housing still looks like it has a dual camera, but the “lens” on the bottom, which was the wide-angle lens in the G7 ThinQ, is actually two proximity sensors. The G7 One drops the second wide-angle camera, which is quite a drag considering how unique the wide angle was in the original model.

LG G7 One Back

What’s new, via Android One

LG’s Android skin has always been a bit polarizing, and it’s nice to see the company adopt Google’s vision for third-party Android. The result is an extremely lightweight experience with Google apps at the core. Most users will likely be happy with the simplicity of this device. If you want to learn more about how Google works with manufacturers to develop Android One devices, check out our explainer.

The G7 One camera sports Google Lens within the camera app, which is Google’s new method of examining what the camera sees via computer vision and AI. It worked like a treat while testing LG’s pre-production unit, readily identifying objects in our AirBnB. Within an instant or two, Google Lens identified our lampshade and presented us with several options to buy something of similar shape and color here in Germany. More on Google Lens and what it can do here.

Android One means the G7 One will get at least two years of regular updates, and we already know Android 9.0 Pie is coming to  “qualifying” Android One devices by the end of the fall. Our LG contact confirmed that the G7 One will get the update then, which is a nice treat for anyone looking to get in on Google’s latest and greatest.

LG G7 One Front

LG G7 One pricing and availability

In terms of pricing, the less beefy specs in the G7 One should make a sizeable difference to the MSRP. LG said in a press release both it and the G7 Fit are “priced exceptionally,” but didn’t say what that price was.

As a reference, BlackBerry made almost all the same choices in creating a more accessible model BlackBerry Key2, cutting down on performance to save on cost for the Key2 LE. Those very similar decisions saw BlackBerry cut the price for the lower-tier device by a third, so we hope to see LG go at least as far here. In theory, that’d mean a $499 device, though we’d like to see $399 or less, especially considering phones like the Pocophone have recently hit the market with flagship specs. That final figure will really, really matter given what’s on offer.

It’d be so easy to say if LG doesn’t ensure this is a significantly cheaper device, it’ll fall flat. Given the growing popularity for a stock Android experience, and the nice flagship-level device build quality, this might do well — even if LG asks for too much money for it on day one.

LG didn’t reveal availability info at IFA 2018. Our hands-on was with a pre-production model, implying full production is just over the horizon for now. We’ll be sure to let you know as soon as we have that information.

What are your thoughts on the G7 One? Is this the more affordable option you were looking for? Let us know down below.

4
Sep

Xperia XZ3 vs. XZ2 Premium vs. XZ2 vs. XZ2 Compact: Smartphone battle royale


Rich Shibley/Digital Trends

The Sony Xperia XZ3 has been revealed, and it has Sony’s first ever smartphone OLED display. But while it’s the newest Xperia, it’s not the only one around. Should you be saving your pennies for Sony’s latest, or should you invest in other Sony flagship phones that were released within the past four months? Those include the Xperia XZ2 Premium, Xperia XZ2, and XZ2 Compact. To find out, we put together a jumbo-sized battle royale, with your pocket space as the prize.

Specs

Xperia XZ3
Xperia XZ2 Premium

Xperia XZ2

Xperia XZ2 Compact

Size
158 x 73 x 9.9 mm (6.22 x 2.87 x 0.39 inches)
158 x 80 x 11.9 mm (6.22 x 3.15 x 0.47 inches)
153 x 72 x 11.1 mm (6.02 x 2.83 x 0.44 inches)
135 x 65 x 12.1 mm (5.31 x 2.56 x 0.48 inches)

Weight
193 grams (6.81 ounces)
236 grams (8.32 ounces)
198 grams (6.98 ounces)
168 grams (5.93 ounces)

Screen size
6-inch OLED display
5.8-inch IPS LCD display
5.7-inch IPS LCD display
5-inch IPS LCD display

Screen resolution
2,880 x 1,440 pixels (537 pixels per inch)
3,840 x 2,160 pixels (765 pixels per inch)
2,160 x 1,080 pixels (424 pixels per inch)
2,160 x 1,080 pixels (483 pixels per inch)

Operating system
Android 9.0 Pie
Android 8.0 Oreo
Android 8.0 Oreo
Android 8.0 Oreo

Storage space
64GB
64GB
64GB
64GB

MicroSD card slot
Yes, up to 512GB
Yes, up to 512GB
Yes, up to 512GB
Yes, up to 512GB

Tap-to-pay services
Google Pay
Google Pay
Google Pay
Google Pay

Processor
Qualcomm Snapdragon 845
Qualcomm Snapdragon 845
Qualcomm Snapdragon 845
Qualcomm Snapdragon 845

RAM
4GB
6GB
4GB, 6GB
4GB

Camera
19MP rear, 13MP front
Dual 19MP & 12MP rear, 13MP front
19MP rear, 5MP front
19MP rear, 5MP front

Video
Up to 4K at 30 frames per second, 1080p at 960 fps
Up to 4K at 30 frames per second, 1080p at 960 fps
Up to 4K at 30 frames per second, 1080p at 960 fps
Up to 4K at 30 frames per second, 1080p at 960 fps

Bluetooth version
Bluetooth 5.0
Bluetooth 5.0
Bluetooth 5.0
Bluetooth 5.0

Ports
USB-C
USB-C
USB-C
USB-C

Fingerprint sensor
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes

Water resistance
IP68/IP65
IP68/IP65
IP68/IP65
IP68/IP65

Battery
3,330mAh

QuickCharge 3.0

Qi wireless charging

3,540mAh

QuickCharge 3.0

Qi wireless charging

3,180mAh

QuickCharge 3.0

Qi wireless charging

2,870mAh

QuickCharge 3.0

App marketplace
Google Play Store
Google Play Store
Google Play Store
Google Play Store

Network support
T-Mobile, AT&T
T-Mobile, AT&T
T-Mobile, AT&T
T-Mobile, AT&T

Colors
Black, Silver White, Forest Green, Bordeaux Red
Chrome Black, Chrome Silver
Liquid Black, Liquid Silver, Deep Green, Ash Pink
Black, White Silver, Moss Green, Coral Pink

Price
$900
$1,000
$800
$650

Buy from
Best Buy, Amazon

Best Buy, Amazon

Best Buy, Focus, Amazon, BuyDig

Best Buy, Amazon, Focus, BuyDig

Review score
Hands-on review
2.5 out of 5 stars
3 out of 5 stars
4 out of 5 stars

Performance, battery life, and charging

Rich Shibley/Digital Trends

Since all four are equipped with the powerful Snapdragon 845, you’re likely to find similar performance in each. The amount of RAM available in each phone varies, but since all have at least 4GB available, you’re unlikely to find much of a difference in real-world performance. They are all square on storage space too, with 64GB available in each and up to 512GB extra through a MicroSD card.

Can the battery break the tie? Possibly. Each phone has a battery sufficient for at least a day’s worth of tapping, streaming, and watching. The XZ3 has a slightly larger battery than its counterpart, which puts the XZ2 out of the running — but the XZ2 Premium and XZ2 Compact both sport great batteries for their sizes, even with the Premium’s massive 4K resolution pulling hard on the 3,540mAh battery.

There’s Quick Charge 3.0 on each of these phones, too, but the XZ2 Compact suffers slightly in lacking the convenience of wireless charging. With the Compact out of the running, it comes down to the XZ3 and the XZ2 Premium — and having 2GB more RAM just squeezes the win for the XZ2 Premium. Realistically, the XZ3 and XZ2 Premium are neck-and-neck.

Winner: Sony Xperia XZ2 Premium

Design and durability

Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

All four of these phones follow Sony’s new Ambient Flow design ethos, but there are small differences to be found. First off, the XZ2 Premium’s 16:9 aspect ratio display gives it some seriously chunky bezels at the top and the bottom of the device, putting it out of the running. The XZ2 and XZ2 Compact have a slimmer forehead and chin, but neither can compete with the more curved look Sony’s taken with the XZ3. The XZ3’s screen curves into the body, reducing the bezels on the sides, and it’s combined with further reductions of top and bottom bezels.

Other than these differences, all four phones are pretty much the same. They all are IP68/65 rating for water and dust-resistance, none has a headphone jack, and they’re all on the heavier side for 2018 smartphones. All but the Compact are also extremely slippery glass phones, so it’s definitely worth picking up a case for grip and protection. The Compact has a glass back and it’s easier to hold, which makes it slightly more durable.

Still, the design changes made with the Xperia XZ3 make it the more attractive phone.

Winner: Sony Xperia XZ3

Display

Rich Shibley/Digital Trends

The Xperia XZ3 is the first Sony smartphone to come with an OLED display, putting the IPS LCD displays in the XZ2 and XZ2 Compact to shame with deep inky blacks and bright vibrant colors. But can it beat the astoundingly sharp 4K resolution of the XZ2 Premium? It’s a hard choice to make, and one that’s likely to be personal — but for us, it’s so hard to tell the difference between the sharpness on the XZ3’s Quad HD+ resolution and the XZ2 Premium’s 4K resolution that the better OLED color reproduction and deep blacks on the XZ3 make the choice clear.

The XZ3 might have the best screen we’ve ever seen on an Xperia phone, and it wins this round.

Winner: Sony Xperia XZ3

Camera

Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

Sony’s camera hardware is some of the best around, but it tends to fall slightly short of true greatness. The XZ2 and XZ2 Compact have capable cameras, but it’s the dual-lens XZ2 Premium that showed us what Sony’s really capable of with some exceptional low-light performance. The XZ3 should be the next step up in Sony’s evolution, but for some reason the company chose to step back down to the same 19-megapixel single lens from the XZ2. We’re expecting the XZ3 to have a strong camera — but we doubt it will be capable of matching the XZ2 Premium’s performance.

Around the front of the XZ3 you’ll find a 13-megapixel selfie shooter that’s much the same as the XZ2 Premium’s. All four of the phones also support 4K HDR video recording and super-slow motion video at 1080p.

Each of these phones have a capable camera suite, but we’re confident that the XZ2 Premium is the strongest of these four.

Winner: Sony Xperia XZ2 Premium

Software and updates

Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

Sony’s record with Android updates is strong, but the XZ3 takes an immediate lead straight out of the gate with the inclusion of Android 9.0 Pie. Sony has confirmed that the entire XZ2 range will receive Android 9.0 Pie eventually, but since that’s yet to happen it gives the XZ3 the lead. Being a newer phone, you can also expect the XZ3 to be supported for slightly longer than the XZ2 range.

Outside of the more advanced operating system, you’ll find similar amounts of Sony’s usual bloatware applied to these devices.

The Xpera XZ3’s use of Android 9.0 Pie gives it the win here.

Winner: Sony Xperia XZ3

Special features

Rich Shibley/Digital Trends

Being a Sony-made device, every one of these four devices comes with Sony’s PS Remote Play that allows users to stream their PlayStation 4 gameplay to their Xperia smartphones, bypassing the need for a TV. Another niche feature is the 3D Creator app, which creates 3D models of objects using the phone’s camera. You’ll also get a more immersive experience from the Dynamic Vibration System on the XZ3, XZ2, and XZ2 Premium that vibrates during videos to emphasize punches, gunshots, or other activities.

Sony’s added more features to the XZ3 though, and you might find them more useful. Side Sense is similar to Samsung’s Edge Sense, and it brings up a shortcut menu of frequent apps and actions when you tap the side of the screen. The Smart Launch feature launches the camera automatically when held in landscape.

The Xperia XZ3’s additional features are still a little niche — but since it gets everything the XZ2 range gets, this is clear win for the XZ3.

Winner: Sony Xperia XZ3

Price

You can buy one of Sony’s Xperia XZ2 smartphones from a range of retailers right now, but you’ll commonly find them on Amazon and Best Buy. The XZ3 will be available from Best Buy and Amazon from October 17.

The Xperia XZ3 will set you back $900, while the XZ2 Premium retails for a staggering $1,000. The XZ2 costs $800 — and the XZ2 Compact is the cheapest of the lot, starting from $650.

Xperia smartphones don’t work with CDMA networks, so there’s no support for Verizon and Sprint — but they will work fine with AT&T and T-Mobile.

Overall winner: Sony Xperia XZ3

The Xperia XZ3 is, in many ways, a very similar beast to the XZ2 range. There’s been no really big jump in power or design, and most of the improvements involve fine-tuning rather than an overhaul. But the differences that are present are enough to make the Xperia XZ3 the more solid choice out of the four on offer.

The exception is the XZ2 Compact, which targets people who desire smaller phones. It’s one of your best choices if you don’t want a massive device.

Editors’ Recommendations

  • Sony’s Xperia XZ2 Premium has a crazy-high ISO for photos and video
  • Sony Xperia XZ2 review
  • LG V35 ThinQ vs. Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus vs. Galaxy S9: Flagship standoff
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 9 vs. BlackBerry Key2: Productivity powerhouse punch-out
  • Dell XPS 15 vs. MacBook Pro 15



4
Sep

Do you regret buying the Galaxy Note 9?


$1,000 second thoughts.

Late last month, Samsung officially launched the Galaxy Note 9 for everyone around the world to purchase. The phone’s not cheaper with a starting price tag of $1,000, but you definitely get what you pay for thanks to the gorgeous display, huge battery, S Pen, and more.

note-9-blue-back-in-hand_0.jpg?itok=-uIb

A lot of our AC forum members have been rocking the Note 9 since the day it came out, and recently, one user asked if anyone had any regrets about upgrading to the phone.

Here are just a few of the responses.

avatar375644_1.gifJax112
09-03-2018 04:24 PM

None at all. This is the phone I’ve been waiting for. Don’t get me wrong I loved the Note 8 but this thing is great.

Reply

avatar2840190_9.gifJewels81
09-03-2018 04:30 PM

No regrets here. I got both note8 and note9. I can go back and forth when want to. But since getting the note9, the note8 has been put in it’s original box for back up.

Reply

default.jpgGary02468
09-03-2018 04:42 PM

I’m happy with my N8->N9 upgrade. I like the stereo speakers, the much longer battery life, the enhanced S-Pen, the dual-aperture camera, and the extra storage (128 GB is sufficient for me, in addition to my 256 GB SD card). And the AR emoji are cute. Plus I got the free Duo fast-charging stand, Dex station, and AKG Bluetooth headphones. And I sold my N8 for more than $400.

Reply

avatar1803267_2.gifCary Quinn
09-03-2018 06:39 PM

I almost regret not having the money for the 512 Gb version.

Reply

What say you? Do you regret getting the Note 9?

Join the conversation in the forums!

Samsung Galaxy Note 9

  • Samsung Galaxy Note 9 review
  • Galaxy Note 9 vs. Note 8
  • Where to buy the Galaxy Note 9
  • Galaxy Note 9 specifications
  • Is the Note 8 still a good buy?
  • Join our Galaxy Note 9 forums

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Verizon
T-Mobile
Samsung
Amazon

4
Sep

Type away for days on an unlocked BlackBerry KEYone for just $350


Accurate typing on the go!

Amazon currently has the unlocked BlackBerry KEYone on sale for just $349.99, which is a new all-time low. When it was first released, the KEYone sold for $550 and recently it dropped down to a regular price of $400, making today’s price an extra $50 off.

blackberry-keyone-boxes-1.jpg?itok=6EvZV

The KEYone has an intuitive smart keyboard with flick typing, fingerprint sensor, and customizable shortcuts. It’s built with aluminum casing and Corning Gorilla glass for protection. It also has a Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 processor, a 3505mAh battery, and runs on Android’s Nougat operating system.

CrackBerry has the rundown on everything you need to know to use your new KEYone, including a Beginner’s Guide and a list of helpful how-to articles. The BlackBerry KEY2 is also now available for pre-order, though it is priced at $650.

See at Amazon

4
Sep

Samsung will launch its foldable Galaxy X smartphone this year


samsung-foldable-screen.jpg?itok=0zw7Dx5

This will be the next big thing … at some point.

The mobile industry has been tracking this rumored Samsung “Galaxy X” prototype phone for several months, gradually pushing back the supposed launch timeline for what’s apparently to be a successor to the general “Galaxy S” line. But even so, we’re still struggling for details on what this supposed Galaxy X with a foldable display will be. Here’s the latest information.

The latest Galaxy X news

September 4, 2018 —Samsung confirms a folding phone will be launched this year

While there’s been no doubt that Samsung’s working on a foldable smartphone, one detail we haven’t had a definite answer on is when the thing will be released. That’s now changing, however, as the company’s CEO of its mobile division — DJ Kohn — confirmed to CNBC that a folding phone will launch at some point this year.

Koh told CNBC that “it’s time to deliver” and that Samsung has “nearly concluded” its development of the phone. We’re still uncertain how exactly the foldable nature will be implemented, but during IFA in Berlin, Kohn went on record saying:

You can use most of the uses … on foldable status. But when you need to browse or see something, then you may need to unfold it. But even unfolded, what kind of benefit does that give compared to the tablet? If the unfolded experience is the same as the tablet, why would they (consumers) buy it? So every device, every feature, every innovation should have a meaningful message to our end customer. So when the end customer uses it, they think ‘wow, this is the reason Samsung made it’.

July 18, 2018 — Galaxy X reported to fold in the shape of a wallet, might cost over $1,500

A report from The Wall Street Journal surfaced this morning outlining a few key details we can expect from the Galaxy X. When describing the design of the phone, part of the report notes that:

The screen can be folded in half, like a wallet, these people said. When folded, the exterior of the phone boasts a small display bar on the front and cameras in the back, they added.

Furthermore, it’s said that the Galaxy X has a screen that measures in at 7-inches diagonally.

As for pricing and availability, WSJ notes that the Galaxy X has “taken on a greater sense of urgency in recent months” and that its price tag could reach well beyond $1,500. The phone’s expected to be released at some point in early 2019.

All the big details

Some background on Galaxy X rumors

galaxy-s6-edge-note-edge-fronts.jpg?itok

No, you didn’t miss an announcement — Samsung didn’t have anything public to say about the Galaxy X (if that is its real name) at CES 2018. But as many companies do, Samsung took the opportunity of having so many high-up industry people together to show off what it’s working on to partners. According to The Investor, this year that included the Galaxy X. The device in question has a 7.3-inch display that can fold in the middle — multiple versions were shown, with different capabilities such as folding both inwards and outwards.

The inward-folding model (protecting the screen when closed) is reportedly the design with the most traction at the moment. The outward-folding one, on the other hand, includes “more advanced next-generation technology,” whatever that entails. The rest of the specs of the phone aren’t yet known, and considering how far out we are from a potential release — reportedly as late as early 2019 — those can and will change between now and then.

How will a ‘foldable’ phone actually work?

Samsung has of course been putting curved panels in production phones since the Galaxy Note Edge that eventually spawned into a phenomenon that has become a hallmark of Samsung’s high-end devices. The company has been experimenting with bendable OLED panels for years, going so far as to show them off publicly as technology demonstrations. But the question is whether it could make devices with displays that could be actively bent or folded thousands of times as a regular part of use. The display would have to be very robust, but then you also have the issue of what covers the display panel — typical Gorilla Glass wouldn’t do the trick.

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LetsGoDigital has worked up renderings based on reports and patent filings that show the Galaxy X as a vertical-orientation phone, but with a hinge mechanism built into the sides of the phone. The phone would be rigid (and what looks to be extremely tall as well) when the display is extended and flat, but you could pull the top and bottom apart to expose the hinge to then bend while the screen follows suit.

Further renders show the phone while closed, which leaves a gap around the hinge portion not unlike a Microsoft Surface Book laptop. Large internal components would of course split between the top and bottom halves of the phone by the hinge.

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Early rumors pointed to a Galaxy X with a hinge and two displays, but now we’re talking about just one panel.

Early rumors of the Galaxy X pointed to some sort of announcement or teaser as early as late 2017, which obviously didn’t happen. But those same rumors questioned whether the Galaxy X was truly a “bendable” phone with a single screen, or simply a hinged device with two distinct panels — like the ZTE Axon M, for example. It seems now that Samsung’s going to attempt a full-on single bendable display. Other rumors also had indicated Samsung had a more tablet-shaped device with this bendable display technology in place, and that may still be on the table in different future devices, but in terms of the “Galaxy X” it looks to be a traditional vertical phone orientation.

When it will be announced

During IFA 2018 over in Berlin, Samsung’s mobile division CEO — DJ Koh — confirmed that a foldable smartphone will be launched before the year is over.

Koh teased that we may learn more information during the Samsung Developer Conference in November, but it’s still unclear when this year the phone will actually go up for purchase.

Update August 2018: Updated with a new statement from Samsung about the Galaxy X’s launch.

4
Sep

Xiaomi shares hands-on Mi Mix 3 photo, confirms 5G capabilities


Where’d the bezels go?

Less than a week ago, Xiaomi shared an official render for its upcoming Mi Mix 3 smartphone — confirming a nearly bezel-less design and a mechanical slider that houses the phone’s camera sensors.

Now, Xiaomi’s Director of Product Management, Donovan Sung, has confirmed another feature for the phone — 5G.

Sharing one more photo. Does anyone see anything interesting? 😎#Xiaomi pic.twitter.com/LjZGibMsuR

— Donovan Sung (@donovansung) September 3, 2018

Sung shared the above Tweet on September 3, and as you can see in the upper right-hand corner of the Mi Mix 3’s screen, there’s a very prominent 5G icon.

Along with the 5G confirmation, this photo also gives us another look at the Mi Mix 3’s design, this time with its slider portion closed.

Are you getting excited for the Mi Mix 3?

Xiaomi render suggests the Mi Mix 3 will also feature a mechanical slider

4
Sep

Marvel’s Spider-Man review: Amazing, Spectacular, and a little clumsy


In which Insomniac Games teaches a master class in what it means to make something for every kind of Spidey fan.

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While the Spider-Man archive in my brain runs back as far as I can remember, my first Spider-Man videogame was Spider-Man 2. For most people, this game was a deeply positive experience. For me, it was a waking nightmare from which there was no return. I was working in the games department of a Best Buy, where we’d received a full copy of the game to put in our demo station. This lead people to come in as soon as the store opened each day and wait for a turn to play. We had that game in the demo station for almost six months, during which I heard the sounds of web slinging approximately 700 billion times. To say I was not a fan of Spider-Man games at this point would be underselling it considerably.

30 seconds into the first gameplay teaser for Insomniac’s vision of a whole new Spider-Man game, and all of that negativity washed away entirely. I was excited and, like countless others, started following every step of the development process. The PlayStation 4 community has been following this game so closely that there was an argument about whether game performance had forced developers to adjust the size of puddles in the game because one was not where it looked like it should be from a pair of gameplay videos. It is not understating anything to say this title has earned itself a rabid fan base before it even launched and, after spending 16 hours in this game, I can safely say a lot of that hype has been well earned.

Marvel’s Spider-Man



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Price: $60

Bottom line: On top of being absolutely stuffed with fun things from every corner of the Spider-verse, this game is fun as hell to play from beginning to end. It absolutely deserves a place on your shelf.

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Pros:

  • Breathtakingly beautiful
  • Strong story
  • Excellent combat system
  • Heaps of content

Cons:

  • Boss fights are way too scripted
  • Non-combatant AI is sloppy

About this review

I’ve been playing a copy of Marvel’s Spider Man, provided by Sony, for the last four days. While I have completed the core story, I have only completed 64% of the total game according to the save menu. My total gameplay time for this review is 16.4 hours.

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NYC has never looked so pretty

Marvel’s Spider-Man world and story

Welcome to a New York City-sized sandbox. For long-time Spider-Man fans, your first few minutes in this game will feel all too familiar. Sling the web, sail through the city, spot a bad guy, do the friendly neighborhood thing, repeat. This is the experience you paid for, the thing everyone craves when they hear about a Spider-Man game.

But what Insomniac has done here exists on an entirely different level from any other game in this genre. This world doesn’t just kind of look like NYC, it feels like you’re actually there. As someone who regularly travels to a lot of the places in New York where events unfold in this game, it was beyond cool to see things like the Amtrak entrance to Madison Square Garden and appreciate how real it seemed. There’s a mission where you are put inside of Grand Central Terminal and you can actually walk up into the Apple Store on the balcony and crouch among the tables full of phones. And for people who have actually stood next to those tables, surreal doesn’t adequately cover it.

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The basics of a Spider-Man game are polished to a point of realism as well. Most Spider-Man fans are used to having that “what did that web he just shot even attach to” conversation while playing these games. It’s even something you hear about the movies at times. Even in a city like New York, there are limitations to where you can attach a web and swing through and those limitations are pretty reasonably respected in this game. When you sail through the city, your web looks like it connected to something. If you’re up high above the buildings, you can’t shoot a web into nothing and continue swinging. You fall below the buildings and then the web starts flying again. This gameplay mechanic is fairly automatic as you play but there are lots of little things you can do to speed yourself up or perform aerial tricks which make the experience a whole lot more dynamic. You can choose to be less engaged when traveling from place to place, but the game rewards you for having fun and really getting into character. And really, that’s a theme for the whole game. You are rewarded for being excited about the game and for not taking every moment super seriously.

For many, this is going to be a fairly new take on Spider-Man and I personally loved every minute of it.

Since this web travel mechanic includes a bit of a free-fall, Insomniac doubled-down and includes a way for you to basically skydive straight down from time to time. This is a handy and visually stunning way to bring yourself down closer to the streets and it also helps close the gap when chasing villains in a car. However, all of this sort of falls apart if you hit the ground accidentally. If this happens, Spider-Man assumes the tried and true three-point superhero landing – even if that drop happened from the top of the Empire State Building.

There is no death or damage from falling when travelling through the city but you do get to scare the pants off the citizens walking the sidewalks. When you hit the ground everyone around you is immediately alarmed and scatters but this AI quickly forgets why it is running away when someone recognizes you so you get this mix of panic and someone shouting about getting your autograph. This weird mixed panic mechanic even happens when you land on the roof of a police building. The officers standing on the roof for seemingly no reason are not only surprised to see you, but frequently say things like “we don’t need your help right now” as they run from you. Clearly, the civilian AI didn’t get the same level of polish as the rest of the city.

As for our hero, well let’s just say he’s not the Spider-Man you’ve seen in the recent Marvel Cinematic Universe films. This isn’t Tony Stark’s ward, as Doctor Strange would call him. This is grown up Peter Parker. He’s graduated from college, has a job, struggles to pay his rent on time and has a great relationship with his aging Aunt May when he remembers to stop by to see her. You aren’t playing through an origin story; this Spider-Man has lived through multiple revisions to his suit and has already defeated many of the big-name villains from the early days of the comics. J. Jonah Jameson has been relieved of his post at the Bugle, and spends his days as a Alex Jones-esque radio loon, which you tune in to as you sail through the city. For many, this is going to be a fairly new take on Spider-Man and I personally loved every minute of it.

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Perhaps my favorite part of the world Insomniac has created for this game is in the little details. It couldn’t be more clear this game was made by people who cherish the Spider-Man franchise and had some opinions on the direction it had been taken in previously. The game is positively stuffed with references to the other movies and games and comics, from the suits you can unlock to the trinkets you find lying around the city. There are jokes about web gliders, commentary on past relationships and so many nods to other parts of the Marvel universe.

And the focus is always on Spider-Man, instead of constantly bumping into the other heroes who also live in the city. You can find Doctor Strange’s New York Sanctum or Jessica Jones’ Alias Investigations, but there’s no awkward side-quest where you have to interact with these heroes and help them with something. This is the most complete Spider-Man experience I’ve ever played and every kind of fan is going to deeply appreciate how much work went in to building this shrine to Spidey.

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Meanwhile Jameson is over here shouting about Nazis made of bees…

Marvel’s Spider-Man gameplay and missions

Capturing the way Spider-Man fights in video game form is a challenge no previous developer has quite managed. Spider-Man’s combat style is fluid; he fights in the air and on the ground and around obstacles and with every part of his body constantly. Spider-Man dodges first, attacks when opportunity arises and relies on his webs and web-based gadgets to get him out of trouble when the stakes are truly high. Building all of these elements into a single combat system, without making it too difficult for most people to play and still have fun, seemed almost impossible before playing this game. Insomniac, in my opinion, absolutely nailed what it is to fight as Spider-Man.

This combat system is something truly special. You are rewarded for dodging at just the right moment or landing that perfect hit, and you can spend that reward in real time on more devastating and visually stunning takedowns or on quick bursts of health to keep the fight going. You can be surrounded by a dozen enemies and not feel overwhelmed, as long as you keep moving and remember to use your gadgets. Give some of the enemies a reason to pause and free themselves from webs, while you focus on taking down the others. Use the momentum of one enemy to take out another. Never stay on the ground for long, and always remember to dodge first and punch later. It’s challenging but also deeply exciting, and judging from the way my whole family sat and watched as I played this game, it’s almost more entertaining to watch than it is to play.

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And as much as you are rewarded for thinking like Spider-Man, you’re punished for trying to take on too many enemies with just brute force. This game has no problem killing you in combat and, in most cases, that death is surprisingly violent. You don’t see blood and guts or anything, but the visuals of Spider-Man’s broken body as a car hits him or as he’s beaten into the dirt quickly refocus you into seeking a different strategy. In missions, death resets you to the last save point but out in the sandbox, you’ll revert to the closest high point on a building or lamp post and whatever random encounter you were in will have disappeared. The bottom line is you really need to be constantly thinking about how you are fighting and moving, which ends up being quite a bit of fun.

Marvel’s Spider-Man is a thrilling celebration of everything fans love about the friendly neighborhood web-slinger.

Unfortunately, all of that fluid combat and careful thought goes out the window as soon as you are in a boss fight. Every boss fight is scripted, almost entirely taking away your user agency in exchange for something that looks nice. And it’s almost always the same format, too: interrupt the bad guy, land a hit, dodge the counter. Everything else is quick-time events and the occasional grouping of non-boss mobs to help you restore your combat bars for health or extra points for more visual takedowns. It honestly felt like the boss fights were designed by a different team, whose focus was more on exposition than gameplay. As incredible as normal combat feels, that’s how lackluster every boss fight is throughout this game.

When you’re not following the story, the sandbox is filled with tons of other things for you to do. You can flex Peter Parker’s mind with research puzzles, stop random crime events throughout the city, follow clues left by Black Cat and a bunch of other clusters of tasks. Each of these events on the map earn you tokens, which you can spend on upgrading your gadgets and purchasing new suits with new abilities. And, mercifully, you aren’t presented with all of these options at the very beginning of the game. Instead, there’s a nice slow trickle so you’re encouraged to spend a fairly even amount of time exploring the city in between plot points throughout the entire game. There are, however, some obvious advantages to fulfilling these side missions as early as possible, especially if your goal is to collect all of the suits.

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Each of the Spider-Man suits you can unlock has a specific ability attached to it. Some help with stealth, while others give you combat or healing advantages. None of these abilities are actually locked to the suit after you purchase them, which means you can wear the Iron Spider suit from Avenger’s Infinity War but use the super stealth ability from the Spider-Man Noir suit. This means you can wear your favorite suit throughout the whole game without compromising your abilities, which I appreciated. It also means there’s value in unlocking things as quickly as possible so you can see how those abilities impact your combat style throughout the missions. Without giving too much away, you’re really going to want to play with as many of these abilities as possible.

The combination of story and side missions comes together to really make this game feel full. By the time you reach the endgame, the map is covered in things to do and the difficulty level for everything from combat to puzzles increases at a steady pace. The whole design encourages you to play through all of the game evenly, instead of just plowing through the story in a rush to the end, which should come together to make at least 20 hours of gameplay by the time you’ve reached the final mission in the story.

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That ending though

Marvel’s Spider-Man review

Insomniac deserves all of the positivity this game is about to receive. It couldn’t be more clear this was a labor of love crafted by folks who genuinely enjoy every facet of the universe they were invited to be a part of. The story is unique yet familiar, the combat natural while complex, and there’s a constant focus on Spider-Man and his immediate connections I deeply appreciated. Marvel’s Spider-Man is a thrilling celebration of everything fans love about the friendly neighborhood web-slinger and, with three different DLC packs already announced, it’s clear this is going to be a deeply popular game for quite a while.

4.5
out of 5


The best thing you can do for the Spider-Man fan in your life is make sure they have time to really explore this game deeply and with as few spoilers as possible. Also, don’t be too alarmed if you catch them shouting with excitement towards the end of the game. It’s fine, I promise. We all did it.

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