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31
Oct

Mophie’s $70 Wireless Charge Stream Desk Stand Now Available for Purchase


Mophie’s newest wireless charger, the Charge Stream Desk Stand, is now available for purchase from the Mophie website for $70.

Designed to work with the iPhone 8, 8 Plus, X, XS, XS Max, and XR, Mophie’s Charge Stream Desk Stand is its first upright wireless charging option, designed to hold the iPhone in an upright vertical or horizontal position while it charges rather than a flat horizontal position.

Mophie’s Charge Stream looks a lot like Mophie’s Charge Stream Pad+ or Wireless Charging Base propped up with a metal stand, and that’s because it can be removed from the base and used as a standard wireless charging pad.

The Charge Stream delivers up to 10W of wireless charging power, and it will charge Apple’s iPhones at the faster 7.5W charging speed. A Quick Charge 2.0 wall adapter and a 1.5m USB-A to micro-USB cable are included to power the Charge Stream.

Tag: Mophie
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31
Oct

Deals: Save on RAVPower’s USB-C Hubs and $100-$300 on 2018 MacBook Pros


Following in the wake of Apple’s Mac and iPad event yesterday, MacBook Pro models that were refreshed over the summer have received a few discounts at Adorama and B&H Photo. The new sales are currently the best found online among the major retailers and offer $100-$300 off original prices.

Note: MacRumors is an affiliate partner with these vendors. When you click a link and make a purchase, we may receive a small payment, which helps us keep the site running.

  • 13-inch MacBook Pro (2.3 GHz, 8GB RAM, 256GB SSD) – $1,699.00, down from $1,799.00 at B&H / Adorama
  • 15-inch MacBook Pro (2.2 GHz, 16GB RAM, 256GB SSD) – $2,199.00, down from $2,399.00 at B&H / Adorama
  • 15-inch MacBook Pro (2.6 GHz, 16 B RAM, 512GB SSD) – $2,499.00, down from $2,799.00 at Adorama

For older model MacBook Pros, there are also numerous sales on Mid 2017 refreshes:

  • 15-inch MacBook Pro (2.8 GHz, 16GB RAM, 256GB SSD) – $1,899.00, down from $2,399.00 at B&H
  • 15-inch MacBook Pro (2.9 GHz, 16GB RAM, 512GB SSD, Silver) – $2,099.00, down from $2,799.00 at B&H / Adorama
  • 15-inch MacBook Pro (2.9 GHz, 16GB RAM, 512GB SSD, Space Gray) – $2,149.00, down from $2,799.00 at B&H / Adorama

A few of these sales will expire later tonight at 11:59 p.m. ET, so be sure to browse both websites and place your order soon if you’re interested. If you’re on the hunt for USB-C accessories to go along with a new MacBook Pro or 2018 MacBook Air, RAVPower has kicked off notable sales today that will last through most of November.

  • VAVA USB-C Docking Station with 4K Dual Display – $119.00 with code QSFGATW8, down from $149.00
  • VAVA Gigabit Ethernet USB-C Hub For MacBook – $9.99 with code ADANN87P, down from $19.99
  • VAVA 8-in-1 USB C Hub for MacBook – $34.99 with code NKHFIWQU, down from $59.99
  • HooToo 6-in-1 USB-C Hub for MacBook (Silver and Grey) – $34.99 with code LTQ6VM67, down from $59.99
  • HooToo 7-in-1 USB-C Hub for MacBook – $33.99 with code RH6NNKJZ, down from $49.99

For more information on the latest sales, visit our Deals Roundup.

Related Roundup: Apple Deals
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31
Oct

Oppo R17 Pro review: More cameras, more batteries, more speed


Oppo has had a very exciting year, releasing smartphones like the Oppo Find X and the Oppo F9, which offered innovative and unique features. Although we’re in the home stretch of 2018 smartphone releases, it doesn’t seem like the company is slowing down. Its latest release, the Oppo R17 Pro, comes equipped with two batteries, three cameras, an in-screen fingerprint sensor, and a host of other interesting features.

As exciting and futuristic as the phone sounds, how does it perform day to day? Find out in our Oppo R17 Pro review.

Design

Oppo R17 Pro Review

The Oppo R17 Pro is one of the most beautiful and elegant designs I’ve had the chance to lay my hands on all year.

Most smartphone designs this year have followed a very basic formula of metal and glass. The Oppo R17 Pro is no different, but it makes it exciting. The Oppo R17 Pro is one of the most beautiful and elegant designs I’ve had laid my hands on all year. The R17 Pro has a sleek design with tapered edges, rounded corners, with a metal and glass combination that exudes a high-quality feel. It’s dense but it doesn’t feel too heavy or too light. The perfect balance of weight and ergonomics make the R7 Pro extremely comfortable to hold.

Oppo R17 Pro Review

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Huawei Mate 20 Pro review: The phone for power users

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The most eye-catching part about the R17 Pro’s design is its new fog gradient color, which beautifully flows from purple to blue. This may remind you of the twilight color of the Huawei P20 Pro. Unlike the P20 Pro, the coating on the Oppo R17 Pro’s rear glass panel isn’t reflective. Instead, it has more of a satin appearance and looks less like glass. I like Oppo’s take on this gradient color scheme better. It hides fingerprints and smudges more effectively and blends in more seamlessly with the metal frame. The color will turn a lot of heads, and while it’s super photogenic, you have to see it in person to truly appreciate how incredible it looks.

Oppo R17 Pro Review

Going around the Oppo R17 Pro you’ll find the typical slew of buttons and ports in their usual places. The power button is comfortably placed on the right side with volume buttons on the opposing left side. The bottom houses a single speaker, microphone, USB Type-C port, and a dual sim card tray. The top of the phone has another microphone but otherwise is completely blank. Unfortunately, there is no headphone jack if you care about that sort of thing.

Oppo R17 Pro Review

You also won’t find a fingerprint sensor anywhere on this phone, at least not the traditional kind. Much like the Vivo X21 or the more recent Huawei Mate 20 Pro, the Oppo R17 Pro has a fingerprint sensor underneath the display. In-screen fingerprint sensors seem like the future of fingerprint sensors on our smartphones and the R17 Pro is the next smartphone to dive into this technology head first.

Oppo R17 Pro Review

Oppo claims the R17 Pro’s in-screen fingerprint sensor will unlock the device in under half a second, which is reasonably fast for an in-screen fingerprint sensor. The phone lives up to that claim most of the time, but it isn’t consistent. There were several instances where it took a second or two before my fingerprint unlocked the phone. Sometimes it failed to unlock entirely. It didn’t happen enough to make me stop using the fingerprint sensor entirely, but it shows this technology still has room for improvement before it reaches the reliability and accuracy of a standard fingerprint sensor.

Display

Oppo R17 Pro Review

The display is surrounded by extremely thin bezels and has a very tiny notch giving it an impressive 91.5 percent screen-to-body ratio.

The Oppo R17 Pro has a large 6.4 inch AMOLED screen with 19.5:9 aspect ratio and 2,340 x 1,080 resolution. The screen looks fantastic, with the vibrant colors, great contrast, and inky deep blacks typical of AMOLED displays. The 1080p resolution is a step below QHD, but my eyes couldn’t tell the difference. It’s still plenty sharp, and text and graphics are crisp and comfortable to read. The display is surrounded by extremely thin bezels and there’s a very tiny notch, giving the phone an impressive 91.5 percent screen-to-body ratio.

Oppo R17 Pro Review

The notch on the Oppo R17 Pro is the same waterdrop design Oppo used on the F9 and F9 Pro, similar to the one on the Huawei Mate 20. The notch is this small because it only houses a camera — the proximity and light sensors are hidden underneath the display. There’s still an earpiece in the shape of a tiny slit on the outer bezel above the notch. Oppo’s ingenuity for creating such a small notch is impressive and something more manufacturers should pick up on. It’s more attractive and eats up a lot less screen.

Performance

Oppo R17 Pro Review

Inside the Oppo R17 Pro is a Snapdragon 710 processor, 8GB of RAM, 128GB of storage and an equivalent 3,700mAh battery. There’s no microSD card slot, but 128 gigabytes of internal storage should be more than enough for most consumers. The Snapdragon 710 puts the R17 Pro more in the midrange category, as it sits below Qualcomm’s more powerful Snapdragon 845, but above the 600 series Snapdragons.

The Oppo R17 Pro could be best described as a high-end mid-range smartphone and the specifications and benchmark scores certainly reflect that. In everyday use, the R17 Pro performs well. The device is very quick to launch applications and multitask, and it feels very smooth when navigating through the interface or scrolling through a webpage. The 8GB of RAM made for an excellent multitasking experience and the phone never came close to using up all the RAM. The total amount of RAM usage hovered around 4.5GB on average.






Batteries on smartphones usually aren’t that interesting to talk about but this one is due to the fact that there are two of them inside of the R17 Pro. The R17 Pro has two 1,850mAh batteries giving a grand total 3,700mAh. The purpose of the two batteries is to provide for faster charging than if the device only had one battery. The phone charges via SuperVOOC Flash Charge using the provided charger and according to Oppo, SuperVOOC can reach close to 50W of charging power, providing 40 percent battery in 10 minutes.

The Oppo R17 Pro does not have wireless charging but who needs wireless charging when you have charging speeds as fast as SuperVOOC.

I tested this claim with the phone completely dead and sure enough, the phone was at 40 percent after 10 minutes. I took this a few steps further and after another 10 minutes of charging the R17 Pro reached 74 percent. At the 30 minute mark, the phone was almost fully charged at 96 percent. This was truly impressive. The phone also stays cool to the touch while charging as SuperVOOC keeps the heat in the charging brick instead of transferring it to the phone. Despite the glass back the Oppo R17 Pro does not have wireless charging but who needs wireless charging when you have charging speeds as fast as SuperVOOC.

Oppo R17 Pro Review

As for how long the phone lasted on a single charge, I was getting through a full day very comfortably. A full day’s worth of use for me typically consists of reading emails, social media, watching YouTube, playing games, and taking photos. I sometimes ended the day with around 50 percent left and on those days I did not charge the device until the following day. Oppo doesn’t make it easy to gauge battery life statistics but I estimate I got anywhere between 15 and 20 hours per charge.


Camera

Oppo R17 Pro Review

Triple cameras on smartphones are starting to crop up more and more and the Oppo R17 Pro is one of the few smartphones released this year with three cameras. The primary camera is a 12MP sensor with OIS and a variable aperture of f/1.5 and f/2.4 similar to Samsung Galaxy S9 or Galaxy Note 9. Unlike Samsung’s implementation which lets you control the aperture both automatically and manually, the Oppo R17 Pro decides automatically which aperture to use based on the lighting conditions, with no option to manually change the aperture.

Oppo R17 Pro Review

The secondary sensor is 20MP at f/2.6 and leveraged to create background bokeh for portrait mode and 3D portrait mode lighting effects. There’s a handful of different lighting effects meant to make your portraits look more professional or playful, but I thought they were a little gimmicky.

The third camera is probably the most unique of the bunch. It’s a TOF (Time of Flight) 3D stereo camera. The 3D camera allows you to capture 3D images in seconds by circling the camera around an object or person. It reminded me a lot of the 3D Creator from Sony Xperia devices. I didn’t find the 3D scanning particularly useful and on my review device, the feature was very buggy. The 3D feature often crashed the camera or froze during the scanning process and the majority of my 3D images did not come out perfectly. Here’s hoping a software update from Oppo will fix most of these issues.

The front-facing camera sounds equally as impressive with a whopping 25MP sensor, and selfie photos come out quite good with natural colors and skin tones. The results aren’t quite as sharp as what you might get from a phone such as the Google Pixel 3, but they’re more than adequate.


Similar to many other smartphone cameras on the market the Oppo R17 Pro comes with AI camera features. AI beauty mode is available on the front facing camera for hiding blemishes and softening details in faces. I’m usually not a fan of beauty modes, as they’re typically aggressive, but I didn’t mind it on the R17 Pro. The results were very subtle and selfies still looked natural with the mode enabled. The rear camera has AI scene recognition and can recognize 23 different scenes. After the camera recognizes the scene it will optimize the image based on what it sees to produce a better photo.

Ultra Night Mode significantly improves shadow and highlight detail and produces a brighter image.

See also

Here’s what the Google Pixel 3’s Night Sight camera can do

Night Sight it just one of the swanky new photography features packed into the new Google Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL. The mode promises super well-lit and detailed shots even in the most dimly …

Picture quality from the 12MP main camera has been great. Images are sharp and detailed, and color reproduction is vibrant without appearing unnatural. What I’ve been most impressed with is the Ultra Night Mode for low-light or night time photography. This will automatically kick in if the camera decides the situation is too dark, or you can toggle to it manually. You’ll get a visual cue on the screen when a night mode photo is being taken and it will require you to hold the phone steady for a couple of seconds while it works its magic. Ultra Night Mode significantly improves shadow and highlight detail and produces a brighter image. The differences with and without it are astounding. It oversharpens the images, making them look a little unnatural, but the overall results are still fantastic.



Check out the full gallery of camera samples below for easy viewing or click here for the full res images.

Software

Oppo R17 Pro Review

The software is ColorOS version 5.2 on top of Android 8.1 Oreo. If you’ve used any recent Oppo device the software experience will feel very familiar. ColorOS has always been a little too bright, playful, and iOS-like for my taste, but it comes jam-packed with features. On your left-most home screen lives a smart assistant giving you quick access to specific functions and other glanceable information such as the weather, calendar, and step tracker.




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The smart sidebar can also give you quick access to functions and apps by swiping in from the edge of the display similar to Samsung’s edge UX features. ColorOS supports many other smart features, such as smart driving and gesture controls for split-screen multitasking, taking a screenshot, and turning on the display.

Although the Oppo R17 Pro doesn’t come with Android 9.0 Pie, it still supports gesture-based navigation in place of the traditional on-screen navigation buttons. As to whether the R17 Pro will get updated to Android Pie remains to be seen. Hopefully Oppo does it sooner than later.

Specifications

CPU Qualcomm Snapdragon 710
2.2GHz speed
Octa-Core, 64-bit processor
GPU Adreno 616
RAM 8GB
Storage 128GB
microSD Slot None
Batteries 1,850mAh + 1,850mAh batteries
Combined total: 3,700mAh
Biometric security In-display fingerprint sensor
Rear Cameras 20MP lens + 12MP lens + “3D stereo camera”
F1.5/F2.4+F2.6
LED monochrome flash
Front Camera 25MP
Display 6.4-inch AMOLED
2,340 x 1,080 resolution
“Waterdrop” notch
402ppi
Screen-to-body ratio: 91.5%
SIM Dual-SIM slot, nano
Connectivity Bluetooth 5.0
WLAN 2.4G / WLAN 5.1G / WLAN 5.8G / WLAN Display
Ports USB Type-C 3.1
No headphone jack
Network bands Click here
Dimensions 157.6 x 74.6 x 7.9mm
183g

Pricing & Final Thoughts

Oppo R17 Pro Review

The Oppo R17 Pro is priced at 4,299 Yuan (~$509). I wouldn’t expect an official U.S. release anytime soon, or even at all. The best alternative for U.S. residents is the OnePlus 6T, which offers almost identical hardware minus the extra camera and fancy fog gradient color. You may also prefer the software experience of the OnePlus 6T as it’s more like stock Android.

Don’t miss: OnePlus 6T first impressions: All about trade-offs

The Oppo R17 Pro has a lot of great things going for it. I like how Oppo keeps pushing boundaries with every smartphone release. The camera is great, the in-screen fingerprint sensor is fairly reliable, and SuperVOOC Flash Charge is wickedly fast. The phone is also quite attractive, especially with the fog gradient finish. If you can get your hands on one, it’s a phone worth considering.

31
Oct

Drink up, Intel’s Whiskey Lake 8th-gen CPUs are coming to Chromebooks


Intel’s new-generation of U-series processors are making their way to Chromebooks in the near future, bringing native support for gigabit Wi-Fi and the option of LTE cellular data connectivity. As a result, Chrome OS devices that are configured with the new chips will be more connected than ever before. Thanks to low power requirements they could help extend the battery life of the lean notebooks as well.

Intel debuted its Whiskey Lake CPUs at the end of August, highlighting their improved connectivity, as well as the smart-assistant benefits of their companion Y-Series processors. It’s the U-Series though, with its wireless networking capabilities, that has been spotted in the Chromium repository, as per Chrome Unboxed.

The first Chromebook to sport the new CPUs is code-named “Sarien” and is said to be in the early stages of development, so it isn’t expected for some time. However, we can speculate about the kind of hardware it will contain. Although Chromebooks are typically leaner devices than their Windows counterparts, Google’s Pixelbook proved an exception there and the U-Series does have a couple of decently powerful options. Alongside the dual-core i3-8145U which turbos up to 3.9GHz, there is also the option of a quad-core i5-8265U which supports hyperthreading for up to eight simultaneous threads.

If Sarien proves to be a high-end Chromebook, the developers could always fit it with a Core i7-8565U. That chip sports four cores and eight threads, and can be clocked up to 4.6GHz — though that seems a little unlikely for a Chromebook as the chip is expensive at more than $400. Its thermal design power requirements can reach 25w, too, which isn’t ideal for a small-form-factor laptop.

Chrome Unboxed expects we won’t see the new, Whiskey Lake-powered Chromebook until the second quarter of 2019 at the earliest, but it does highlight how encouraging this is. Chromebooks are being made with brand-new hardware and that’s promising for anyone considering one for their next laptop upgrade. They can enjoy the benefits of the latest and greatest and still use the lean Chrome OS platform.

If you can’t wait and just want a great Chromebook right now, check out our breakdown of the best Chromebooks of 2018.

Editors’ Recommendations

  • Intel’s Whiskey Lake CPUs include hardware fix for Meltdown, Amber Lake does not
  • Google Pixelbook 2: Everything you need to know
  • Here are the 10 best laptop deals for October 2018
  • Intel’s latest 8th-gen mobile processors improve battery life and performance
  • Dell’s new Inspiron 2-in-1 PCs, premium Inspiron 2-in-1 Chromebook debut at IFA



31
Oct

Master your new Razer Phone 2 with these handy tips and tricks


Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

From its 120Hz display, to its jaw-dropping Dolby Atmos speakers, the Razer Phone 2 is made for gaming. But at $800, the phone is probably going to be used for a whole lot more than playing Pokemon Go. If you’re a lucky new owner, we’ve compiled a few of our favorite Razer Phone 2 tips and tricks to get you started with your new phone.

How to set up Do Not Disturb

Whether you want a little time away from your email or you simply want to have a good night’s sleep without tons of notifications, Do Not Disturb mode can can help. When you set up Do Not Disturb, you can easily create multiple schedules that limit the number and types of notifications and calls you’ll receive.

Setting up Do Not Disturb mode is easy. Simply go to Settings > Sound > Do Not Disturb Preferences.  From here you can customize the pre-defined rules by tapping on them. If you’d like to create a custom rule, select Add More and choose either Event Rule or Time Rule. When you’ve finished updating any rule, make sure you enable it by toggling on the slider at the top of the screen.

How to customize your homepage with Theme Store

Looking to jazz up your home screen? You’re in luck because the Razer Phone 2 has an awesome Theme Store that allows you to totally customize your phone. If you want to give it a shot, just open the Theme Store app and scroll through the Featured and Game Theme sections. You can also search for specific themes by tapping the magnifying glass icon at the bottom of the screen. When you’ve found a theme you like, tap on it and select Download. Once it is downloaded, press the Apply button to change to your new theme.

How to record video in 4K

Just about every flagship supports 4K video recording and the Razer Phone 2 is no exception. However, if you want to record video in 4K you’ll need to make an adjustment to the settings in your Camera app.

To switch to 4K resolution tap the Camera icon followed by the gear icon below the viewfinder. Select Back Camera Resolution and tap the radio button next to UHD 4K.

How to find games optimized for the Razer Phone 2

One of the things that makes the Razer Phone 2 stand out is its awesome 120Hz display. In contrast to 60Hz displays found on other smartphones, the Razer Phone 2’s display offers latency-free gaming and buttery smooth performance. But what good is the awesome display if you can’t find games that are optimized for it?

Luckily, Razer is a step ahead of the game and created Cortex. This app allows you to quickly access your game library, find new games, and even optimize the phone for game play. To find new games, simply open the Cortex app and tap the featured icon. From this screen you can easily download supported games from the Google Play store.

If you already have a library of games, you just need to open the Cortex app to find them neatly stored under the Library tab. Finally, you’ll notice a Game Booster tab on the lower right side of the screen. From here you can choose which power mode you’d like to use on the phone in general, or simply improve performance on selected games and apps by tapping the Manage Games icon.

How to customize the Razer logo

Last year’s Razer Phone had a relatively ho-hum design. This year, however, Razer made some changes that make its newest flagship a bit more eye-catching. One of those changes is the addition of the backlit Razer logo on the phone. The new logo is more than just for show though, it can also alert you when you have new notifications.

You can easily customize both the color and function of the Razer logo on your new phone. If you want to give it a shot go to Settings > Chroma. Toggle on the My Chroma Effect slider and tap My Chroma Effect. From this screen you can adjust the color by tapping on the color wheel or entering a Hex code, and you can adjust the brightness by tapping on the brightness icon at the bottom of the display. You can also tap the effect icon on the bottom right side of the screen to customize the logo lighting effect. Tap the back arrow to return to the primary screen: From here you can select when you’d like the logo to be illuminated by tapping your preferred icon under the Battery Consumption tab.

How to wake the screen by lifting your phone

Like its predecessor, the new Razer Phone 2 has speakers that sit prominently at the top and bottom of the display. While this means the phone has awesome audio quality, it also means there’s no room for a fingerprint sensor. For better or worse, Razer chose to put the fingerprint sensor on the side of its phone, making it difficult to access when it’s sitting on a table.

Luckily there’s a somewhat hidden gesture that can wake your screen whenever you lift the phone. To turn on the feature go to Settings > Display and tap on Advanced. Select Ambient Display and toggle the slider next to Lift To Check Phone. 

How to change the display refresh rate

Perhaps the standout feature on the new Razer Phone 2 is its 120Hz display. We’ve already talked about what it can do for game performance, but did you know it can drain your battery rather quickly? Fortunately you can easily choose between three different refresh rates on your new smartphone.

To change your display’s refresh rate, go to Settings > Display and tap on Refresh Rate. You’ll see three options: 60Hz, 90Hz, and 120Hz. Tap the appropriate radio box next to your preferred refresh rate. If you’re unsure which refresh rate to select, you’ll probably want to choose 120Hz when gaming, and 90Hz for daily use. If you find your battery draining quickly at 90Hz, you may want to give 60Hz a shot.

Now you’ve learned a few of our favorite tips and tricks, you may want to change a few settings on your new Razer Phone 2 in order to have the best user experience.

Editors’ Recommendations

  • Key settings you need to change on your brand-new Razer Phone 2
  • Razer Phone 2 review
  • The Razer Phone 2: Everything you need to know
  • Razer Phone 2 vs. Red Magic Phone vs. Honor Play: Which gaming phone is best?
  • Razer Phone 2 vs. Razer Phone: Is it time to level up?



31
Oct

The ZTE Blade Max View and Blade Max 2s offer dramatic displays for under $200


ZTE has taken the wraps off of the new ZTE Blade Max View and ZTE Blade Max 2s, two sub-$200 phones aimed at offering a good experience at a low price. Both of the phones seem to offer features that might otherwise be reserved for more expensive phones, along with a relatively modern design and decent specs.

Here’s everything you need to know about the ZTE Blade Max View and ZTE Blade Max 2s.

ZTE Blade Max View

The ZTE Blade Max View offers some great specs for the price. Namely, you will find a 6-inch display with a resolution of 2,160 x 1,080, which isn’t bad at all for a phone in this price range. The aspect ration on that display comes in at 18:9, which helps give it a modern feel despite the fact that the screen isn’t edge-to-edge.

ZTE hasn’t specified the processor model on here beyond to say that it’s a 1.4GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon chip, which probably means its a 400-series chip, like the Snapdragon 430. That processor is coupled with 3GB of RAM and 32GB of storage, though if you want more storage, there is also a MicroSD card slot. The battery sits in at 4,000mAh, which is pretty big and ZTE says that will get you 20 hours of talk time.

The camera on the device is a dual-sensor camera, and it offers one 16-megapixel sensor and one 2-megapixel sensor. Right underneath those cameras, you will find a fingerprint sensor. On the front, there’s an 8-megapixel sensor.

The ZTE Blade Max View is priced at $200 and supports any GSM network plus Verizon, meaning you won’t be able to get it if you’re a Sprint customer. It’s now available from Newegg, B&H, and ZTE’s website.

ZTE Blade Max 2s

The ZTE Blade Max 2s is similar to the Blade Max View in many ways. For starters, it has the same 1.4GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon processor, coupled with a slightly less 2GB of RAM and 32GB of storage — though again, there is a MicroSD card slot in case you need it. The display of the phone also comes in at 6 inches, with a resolution of 2,160 x 1,080, and like the Blade Max View, the battery is also 4,000mAh.

When it comes to cameras, the Blade Max 2s boasts one 13-megapixel rear-facing camera and one 5-megapixel front-facing camera. It also has a rear-mounted fingerprint sensor.

The ZTE Blade Max 2s is available for $180 and can be purchased from Newegg, B&H, and ZTE’s website.



31
Oct

Windows 10 October 2018 Update won’t launch in October after all


The Windows 10 October 2018 update which was slated for — you guessed it — October, looks unlikely to release in that month at all after further delays pushed back its secondary roll out. The latest round of fixes addresses issues with dragging files from a zip archive in Windows’ File Explorer, adding to a growing number of patches that have been released to Windows Insiders since the original release of the update in early October.

Initially launched on October 2 as part of Microsoft’s Surface event, which saw the debut of new devices like the Surface Studio 2 and Surface Pro 6, the Windows 10 October 2018 update brought with it a number of new features, including better smartphone integration and improved screenshot editing capabilities. However, it was quickly plagued with dangerous bugs that caused data deletion and driver incompatibility. It was bad enough that Microsoft pulled the update and sent it back to its testers to try and iron out some of the bugs.

Since then we’ve received multiple reports of additional bug fixes and it’s still not clear when the wider Windows 10 user base can expect to receive the update. What is clear is that it isn’t going to release in October — we’ve simply run out of time.

When it does become available, however, we do know that it won’t have a nasty zip archive bug that was recently patched out. As Ars Technica describes it, the problem would see the dragging and dropping of files from zip archives not provide a prompt to the user to see if they want to overwrite a file with the same name. The Windows 10 17763 build that comprises the October 2018 Update was instead simply ignoring files with the same name and not copying them over.

The patch for that particular flaw is now with the slow and release rings of Microsoft’s Windows Insider program, so should be about ready for the main release build. It joins additional patches for the data deletion, audio issues, and driver compatibility problems that have plagued the premium Windows update. It’s all very late though, pushing back the release of the update well beyond when it was initially planned to see widespread adoption.

Editors’ Recommendations

  • Problems with Microsoft’s Windows October 2018 Update aren’t over yet
  • A new bug in the Windows 10 October 2018 Update could delete your files
  • The next big Windows update could launch as soon as October 2
  • Windows Insiders get fix for October 2018 Update’s data delete bug
  • Did the Windows October 2018 update delete your files? Microsoft can help



31
Oct

How the 2018 Apple iPad Pro 12.9 stacks up against its 2017 and 2015 versions


You can hardly fail to be impressed by the new 12.9-inch iPad Pro. Apple has shaved down the bezels, packing even more processing power into a slimmer body without shrinking down the beautiful display. At first glance, the only thing that isn’t more appealing about this year’s 12.9-inch iPad Pro compared to previous models is the price.

We decided to dig a little deeper and pit the 2018 12.9-inch iPad Pro against the 2017 and 2015 versions to find out precisely what has changed. If you’re wondering whether you need to upgrade, or are looking to save a few dollars by buying the older model, we have all the answers you need right here.

Specs

Apple iPad Pro 12.9 (2018)
Apple iPad Pro 12.9 (2017)
Apple iPad Pro 12.9 (2015)

Size
280.6 x 214.9 x 5.9 mm (11.04 x 8.46 x 0.23 inches)
305.7 x 220.6 x 6.9 mm (12.04 x 8.69 x 0.27 inches)
305.7 x 220.6 x 6.9 mm (12.04 x 8.69 x 0.27 inches)

Weight
631 grams (22.24 ounces)
677 grams (23.88 ounces)
713 grams (25.15 ounces)

Screen size
12.9-inch Liquid Retina IPS LCD display
12.9-inch IPS LCD display
12.9-inch IPS LCD display

Screen resolution
2,732 x 2,048 (264 pixels-per-inch)
2,732 x 2,048 pixels (264 pixels-per-inch)
2,732 x 2,048 pixels (264 pixels-per-inch)

Operating system
iOS 12
iOS 10 (upgradable to iOS 12)
iOS 9 (upgradable to iOS 12)

Storage space
64GB, 256GB, 512GB, 1TB
64GB, 256GB, 512GB
32GB, 128GB, 256GB

MicroSD Card slot
No
No
No

Tap to pay services
Apple Pay
Apple Pay
Apple Pay

Processor
A12X Bionic
A10X Fusion
A9X

RAM
TBC
4GB
4GB

Camera
12MP rear, 7MP front
12MP rear, 7MP front
8MP rear, 1.2MP front

Video
2,160p at 60 frames per second, 1,080p at 120 fps, 720p at 240 fps
2,160p at 60 frames per second, 1,080p at 120 fps, 720p at 240 fps
1,080p at 30 fps, 720p at 120 fps

Bluetooth version
Bluetooth 5.0
Bluetooth 4.2
Bluetooth 4.0

Ports
USB-C
Lightning, 3.5mm audio jack
Lightning, 3.5mm audio jack

Fingerprint sensor
No
Yes (front)
Yes (front)

Water resistance
No
No
No

Battery
36.71 Wh
41 Wh (10,891 mAh)
38.8 Wh (10,307 mAh)

App marketplace
Apple App Store
Apple App Store
Apple App Store

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

Colors
Silver, Space Gray
Space Gray, Gold, Silver
Space Gray, Gold, Silver

Price
$1,000 plus
$650 plus
$600 plus

Buy from
Apple
Amazon
Discontinued

Review score
Hands-on
News
4.5 out of 5 stars

Performance, battery life, and charging

Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

Apple has packed a new octa-core A12X Bionic processor into the latest iPad Pro, which it says is capable of delivering graphics at twice the speed of its predecessor. The 2017 model had a hexa-core A10X Fusion chip inside, while the original had the A9X. Last year’s iPad Pro was already a speed demon, so it’s tough to say how much of a difference you’ll feel, but if you’re upgrading from the 2015 model, then you’ll notice the speed boost. If you’re in the habit of editing large images or playing a lot of graphically intensive games, then you’ll want the new iPad Pro for sure, if you’re just watching Netflix and browsing the web, then all this power may be overkill for you.

The battery in this year’s 12.9-inch iPad Pro appears to be smaller, but improvements in efficiency should make up for the shortfall. Apple suggests 10 hours of battery life from a single charge, or 9 hours if you opt for the cellular version, which is exactly what it said about the 2017 and 2015 versions. The new iPad has made the switch from Lightning port to USB-C, which gives you more choice for accessories and enables you to connect your iPhone and charge it from the tablet.

Winner: Apple iPad Pro 12.9 (2018)

Design and durability

Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

Probably the most striking difference between this year’s 12.9-inch iPad Pro and previous versions is the design. While the 2015 and 2017 versions look identical, there’s no way you’d mistake the latest because the new iPad Pro is a lot more attractive. Apple has packed the same size display into a much smaller body, shaving millimeters off in every direction. The bezels are slimmed way down, the home button is gone, and the recycled aluminum frame is squared off. The 2018 iPad Pro is still very big and not the easiest device to handle, but it’s a big improvement over its predecessors.

We’re also pleased to see Apple adopt USB-C in the new iPad, instead of sticking to the proprietary Lightning port you’ll find in the old ones. The only thing that may be construed as a design disadvantage for the newer iPad Pro is the fact that Apple has ditched the 3.5mm audio jack.

You’re definitely going to want to invest in a case whatever iPad Pro you have. There’s no water resistance and nothing much to divide these tablets in terms of durability.

Winner: Apple iPad Pro 12.9 (2018)

Display

Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

All three 12.9-inch iPad Pros feature IPS LCD screens with 2,732 x 2,048-pixel resolutions. They are plenty sharp with a 264 pixels-per-inch density. The newer models feature a variable refresh rate that goes up to 120Hz and shifts automatically based on the content you are looking at to maintain a smooth look. The same TrueTone tech adjusts the brightness for readability indoors and out. Apple has dubbed the screen in the new iPad Pro “Liquid Retina”, just as it did with the iPhone XR, but that’s largely marketing speak. We don’t think there’s actually any difference between the 2017 and 2018 models here, but they’re both slightly better than the original.

Winner: Tie

Camera

Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

Taking photos with tablets is uncomfortable, especially when they’re this big. However, the iPad Pro does offer some intriguing augmented reality content, so it does need that 12-megapixel camera on the back. There’s also a 7-megapixel front-facing camera that’s ideal for FaceTime calls. The latest two versions have the same cameras on paper, but only the new iPad Pro has Face ID, which replaces Touch ID, enabling you to unlock your tablet by looking at it. With the same TrueDepth sensors as the iPhone X and XS lines, the new iPad Pro can also handle Portrait mode, Animoji, and Memoji. The original iPad Pro lags way behind with an 8-megapixel main camera and a 1.2-megapixel front-facing camera.

Winner: Apple iPad Pro 12.9 (2018)

Software and updates

Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

While the 2017 iPad Pro originally came with iOS 10, and the original came with iOS 9, they have since been upgraded to the latest iOS 12, which is also what you’ll find on the new iPad Pro. The software experience on these tablets is virtually identical, but as we mentioned in the last section, only the new iPad has Apple’s TrueDepth technology which allows it to scan your face to unlock and for purchases, but also to use fun Animoji and Memoji. The fact that the newer iPad is more powerful also means it will likely continue to get updates for a little longer than the older versions.

Winner: Apple iPad Pro 12.9 (2018)

Special features

Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

The optional extras for the iPad Pro are expensive, but Apple has made some improvements to the Smart Keyboard and to the Apple Pencil. Both attach easily, thanks to a system of magnets, and they charge up automatically once attached. The old Apple Pencil had to be plugged in to the Lightning port to charge, so wireless charging is an improvement. There was also nowhere to store the Apple Pencil with the old iPad Pros, so if it’s a feature you’re interested in, the new magnetic attachment is going to be pleasing. Sadly, it doesn’t come with the tablet, and you’ll need to pay an extra $130 to enjoy it.

Winner: Apple iPad Pro 12.9 (2018)

Price

The 12.9-inch iPad Pro starts at $999 for the 64GB Wi-Fi-only version and goes all the way up to $1,899 for the 1TB model with cellular support. If you want a Smart Keyboard that’s another $200 and the new Apple Pencil is $130. The second-generation 2017 model started at $799 and so did the original. They’ve both been discontinued now, but you might still find the 2017 version in stock at some retailers or you can pick up a refurbished one for close to $600. You may spot deeper discounts in the next few weeks.

Overall winner: Apple iPad Pro 12.9 (2018)

There’s no doubt that the new 12.9-inch iPad Pro is superior. It boasts a much slicker design, more processing power, and a few other extras including Face ID, USB-C, and better accessories. The big stumbling block is the price. It’s a lot more expensive than its predecessors and not everything has been upgraded. The display, camera, and battery life are much the same. If you already have the 2017 model it’s going to be tough to justify the upgrade, but owners of the original 12.9-inch iPad Pro will want to bite.

Editors’ Recommendations

  • Surface Pro 6 vs. iPad Pro
  • iPad Pro (2018) hands on review
  • The new iPad Pro is here, and it adds the best of the iPhone to the tablet
  • iPad Pro 2018: 5 features we love, 5 features we don’t
  • The best iPad deals for October 2018



31
Oct

How the 2018 Apple iPad Pro 12.9 stacks up against its 2017 and 2015 versions


You can hardly fail to be impressed by the new 12.9-inch iPad Pro. Apple has shaved down the bezels, packing even more processing power into a slimmer body without shrinking down the beautiful display. At first glance, the only thing that isn’t more appealing about this year’s 12.9-inch iPad Pro compared to previous models is the price.

We decided to dig a little deeper and pit the 2018 12.9-inch iPad Pro against the 2017 and 2015 versions to find out precisely what has changed. If you’re wondering whether you need to upgrade, or are looking to save a few dollars by buying the older model, we have all the answers you need right here.

Specs

Apple iPad Pro 12.9 (2018)
Apple iPad Pro 12.9 (2017)
Apple iPad Pro 12.9 (2015)

Size
280.6 x 214.9 x 5.9 mm (11.04 x 8.46 x 0.23 inches)
305.7 x 220.6 x 6.9 mm (12.04 x 8.69 x 0.27 inches)
305.7 x 220.6 x 6.9 mm (12.04 x 8.69 x 0.27 inches)

Weight
631 grams (22.24 ounces)
677 grams (23.88 ounces)
713 grams (25.15 ounces)

Screen size
12.9-inch Liquid Retina IPS LCD display
12.9-inch IPS LCD display
12.9-inch IPS LCD display

Screen resolution
2,732 x 2,048 (264 pixels-per-inch)
2,732 x 2,048 pixels (264 pixels-per-inch)
2,732 x 2,048 pixels (264 pixels-per-inch)

Operating system
iOS 12
iOS 10 (upgradable to iOS 12)
iOS 9 (upgradable to iOS 12)

Storage space
64GB, 256GB, 512GB, 1TB
64GB, 256GB, 512GB
32GB, 128GB, 256GB

MicroSD Card slot
No
No
No

Tap to pay services
Apple Pay
Apple Pay
Apple Pay

Processor
A12X Bionic
A10X Fusion
A9X

RAM
TBC
4GB
4GB

Camera
12MP rear, 7MP front
12MP rear, 7MP front
8MP rear, 1.2MP front

Video
2,160p at 60 frames per second, 1,080p at 120 fps, 720p at 240 fps
2,160p at 60 frames per second, 1,080p at 120 fps, 720p at 240 fps
1,080p at 30 fps, 720p at 120 fps

Bluetooth version
Bluetooth 5.0
Bluetooth 4.2
Bluetooth 4.0

Ports
USB-C
Lightning, 3.5mm audio jack
Lightning, 3.5mm audio jack

Fingerprint sensor
No
Yes (front)
Yes (front)

Water resistance
No
No
No

Battery
36.71 Wh
41 Wh (10,891 mAh)
38.8 Wh (10,307 mAh)

App marketplace
Apple App Store
Apple App Store
Apple App Store

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

Colors
Silver, Space Gray
Space Gray, Gold, Silver
Space Gray, Gold, Silver

Price
$1,000 plus
$650 plus
$600 plus

Buy from
Apple
Amazon
Discontinued

Review score
Hands-on
News
4.5 out of 5 stars

Performance, battery life, and charging

Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

Apple has packed a new octa-core A12X Bionic processor into the latest iPad Pro, which it says is capable of delivering graphics at twice the speed of its predecessor. The 2017 model had a hexa-core A10X Fusion chip inside, while the original had the A9X. Last year’s iPad Pro was already a speed demon, so it’s tough to say how much of a difference you’ll feel, but if you’re upgrading from the 2015 model, then you’ll notice the speed boost. If you’re in the habit of editing large images or playing a lot of graphically intensive games, then you’ll want the new iPad Pro for sure, if you’re just watching Netflix and browsing the web, then all this power may be overkill for you.

The battery in this year’s 12.9-inch iPad Pro appears to be smaller, but improvements in efficiency should make up for the shortfall. Apple suggests 10 hours of battery life from a single charge, or 9 hours if you opt for the cellular version, which is exactly what it said about the 2017 and 2015 versions. The new iPad has made the switch from Lightning port to USB-C, which gives you more choice for accessories and enables you to connect your iPhone and charge it from the tablet.

Winner: Apple iPad Pro 12.9 (2018)

Design and durability

Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

Probably the most striking difference between this year’s 12.9-inch iPad Pro and previous versions is the design. While the 2015 and 2017 versions look identical, there’s no way you’d mistake the latest because the new iPad Pro is a lot more attractive. Apple has packed the same size display into a much smaller body, shaving millimeters off in every direction. The bezels are slimmed way down, the home button is gone, and the recycled aluminum frame is squared off. The 2018 iPad Pro is still very big and not the easiest device to handle, but it’s a big improvement over its predecessors.

We’re also pleased to see Apple adopt USB-C in the new iPad, instead of sticking to the proprietary Lightning port you’ll find in the old ones. The only thing that may be construed as a design disadvantage for the newer iPad Pro is the fact that Apple has ditched the 3.5mm audio jack.

You’re definitely going to want to invest in a case whatever iPad Pro you have. There’s no water resistance and nothing much to divide these tablets in terms of durability.

Winner: Apple iPad Pro 12.9 (2018)

Display

Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

All three 12.9-inch iPad Pros feature IPS LCD screens with 2,732 x 2,048-pixel resolutions. They are plenty sharp with a 264 pixels-per-inch density. The newer models feature a variable refresh rate that goes up to 120Hz and shifts automatically based on the content you are looking at to maintain a smooth look. The same TrueTone tech adjusts the brightness for readability indoors and out. Apple has dubbed the screen in the new iPad Pro “Liquid Retina”, just as it did with the iPhone XR, but that’s largely marketing speak. We don’t think there’s actually any difference between the 2017 and 2018 models here, but they’re both slightly better than the original.

Winner: Tie

Camera

Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

Taking photos with tablets is uncomfortable, especially when they’re this big. However, the iPad Pro does offer some intriguing augmented reality content, so it does need that 12-megapixel camera on the back. There’s also a 7-megapixel front-facing camera that’s ideal for FaceTime calls. The latest two versions have the same cameras on paper, but only the new iPad Pro has Face ID, which replaces Touch ID, enabling you to unlock your tablet by looking at it. With the same TrueDepth sensors as the iPhone X and XS lines, the new iPad Pro can also handle Portrait mode, Animoji, and Memoji. The original iPad Pro lags way behind with an 8-megapixel main camera and a 1.2-megapixel front-facing camera.

Winner: Apple iPad Pro 12.9 (2018)

Software and updates

Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

While the 2017 iPad Pro originally came with iOS 10, and the original came with iOS 9, they have since been upgraded to the latest iOS 12, which is also what you’ll find on the new iPad Pro. The software experience on these tablets is virtually identical, but as we mentioned in the last section, only the new iPad has Apple’s TrueDepth technology which allows it to scan your face to unlock and for purchases, but also to use fun Animoji and Memoji. The fact that the newer iPad is more powerful also means it will likely continue to get updates for a little longer than the older versions.

Winner: Apple iPad Pro 12.9 (2018)

Special features

Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

The optional extras for the iPad Pro are expensive, but Apple has made some improvements to the Smart Keyboard and to the Apple Pencil. Both attach easily, thanks to a system of magnets, and they charge up automatically once attached. The old Apple Pencil had to be plugged in to the Lightning port to charge, so wireless charging is an improvement. There was also nowhere to store the Apple Pencil with the old iPad Pros, so if it’s a feature you’re interested in, the new magnetic attachment is going to be pleasing. Sadly, it doesn’t come with the tablet, and you’ll need to pay an extra $130 to enjoy it.

Winner: Apple iPad Pro 12.9 (2018)

Price

The 12.9-inch iPad Pro starts at $999 for the 64GB Wi-Fi-only version and goes all the way up to $1,899 for the 1TB model with cellular support. If you want a Smart Keyboard that’s another $200 and the new Apple Pencil is $130. The second-generation 2017 model started at $799 and so did the original. They’ve both been discontinued now, but you might still find the 2017 version in stock at some retailers or you can pick up a refurbished one for close to $600. You may spot deeper discounts in the next few weeks.

Overall winner: Apple iPad Pro 12.9 (2018)

There’s no doubt that the new 12.9-inch iPad Pro is superior. It boasts a much slicker design, more processing power, and a few other extras including Face ID, USB-C, and better accessories. The big stumbling block is the price. It’s a lot more expensive than its predecessors and not everything has been upgraded. The display, camera, and battery life are much the same. If you already have the 2017 model it’s going to be tough to justify the upgrade, but owners of the original 12.9-inch iPad Pro will want to bite.

Editors’ Recommendations

  • Surface Pro 6 vs. iPad Pro
  • iPad Pro (2018) hands on review
  • The new iPad Pro is here, and it adds the best of the iPhone to the tablet
  • iPad Pro 2018: 5 features we love, 5 features we don’t
  • The best iPad deals for October 2018



31
Oct

What is Android fragmentation, and can Google ever fix it?


Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

Back in 2007, Google and its partners in the Open Handset Alliance set out with the goal of developing open standards for smartphones. Android was to be a great equalizer, creating a level playing field for manufacturers and developers. It was a vision with clear appeal. That’s partly why, 10 years or so later, Android is the dominant mobile platform with a 88 percent share of the worldwide mobile operating systems market in the second quarter of 2018, according to Statista.

If we want fragmentation to end, we’re going to have to demand it.

The open ideals that it was founded upon led to unprecedented diversity and a huge smartphone revolution, but they also sparked one of the most persistent criticisms of Android: Fragmentation. There’s a fairly universal perception that Android fragmentation is a barrier to a consistent user experience, a security risk, and a challenge for app developers.

But will Google ever end fragmentation? What is it doing to tackle the issue? And why is it taking so long?

Wait, what exactly is fragmentation?

Concerns and warnings about the impact of fragmentation are as old as Android itself.

“Literally before the close of business on the same day we announced Android (4:46pm to be precise), I saw the first article about Android fragmentation,” wrote then Open Source & Compatibility Program Manager, Dan Morrill, in a 2010 blog post on the official Android developer site. “The thing is, nobody ever defined ‘fragmentation’ — or rather, everybody has a different definition.”

We could be talking about the different versions of Android, the multitude of different devices, the manufacturer skins that sit on top, or even forks, like Amazon’s Fire OS.

What’s cited most often is the slow pace of adoption for new Android versions. Less than 1 percent of devices run the latest Android 9.0 Pie today, 21.5 percent run Oreo (version 8.0 or 8.1 of the OS), 28.2 percent run Nougat, and the rest are still running older versions, according to the latest data from the official Android developer site. This is frequently compared to iOS, where Apple said 53 percent of users are on iOS 12, 40 percent on iOS 11, and just 7 percent on earlier versions.

For ordinary folks who own a phone, fragmentation means that many Android device owners don’t have access to the latest and greatest features in the platform, but it has also been consistently raised as a major threat to security. Tim Cook famously referenced an article on ZDNet, entitled “Android fragmentation turning devices into a toxic hellstew of vulnerabilities” on a slide at WWDC in 2014. He even added animated flames to the word “hellstew” for a greater incendiary impact, and it played into a common perception of Android as potentially insecure.

It’s a criticism that Google has struggled to deal with. Adoption of the latest version of Android isn’t just about getting the latest features; it’s also about getting the latest bug fixes and security updates. We can see how Google would like things to run by looking at the Pixel line, where it rolls out platform updates quickly and monthly security patches are released over-the-air. The problem is that Google cannot, or will not, force manufacturers and carriers to do the same.

Android phone manufacturers try to add value and differentiate their devices by adding their own custom user interfaces, but that additional layer of software on top of Android means an extra round of testing and tweaking before a new version can be released. Wireless carriers have their own demands about how updates should be tested and rolled out, as well. If you want to get an idea of how it works check out this HTC infographic.

Issuing phone updates through wireless carriers is a complex process that’s time-consuming and costly. If you don’t count customer satisfaction (over time), there isn’t much incentive for manufacturers to push out new Android versions, either. Their business model isn’t based on extending the life of your smartphone. Just the opposite, in fact: It would be better for them if you bought a new one. There’s plenty of evidence that phone owners are getting fed up with this attitude. A Dutch consumer group sued Samsung for not updating Android on 82 percent of its phones.

What is Google doing to combat fragmentation?

Google has tried various strategies to tackle fragmentation, with mixed success. A lot of new features and security updates actually come through Google Play Services now, which is updated independently of the platform. Google also frequently rolls out major new features to its suite of apps, like Google Maps or Gmail, as app updates, while Apple bundles them into an annual iOS update. The Material Design libraries and guidelines were also designed to create a uniform look and feel across the platform.

Google tried to persuade manufacturers to release stock Android versions of their devices with its short-lived Google Play Edition program, but it failed to take off and ended quietly quite some time ago. The Android One program is a rare example of Google exerting more control over the hardware experience, but it has taken a long time to build any momentum. Most Nokia phones built by HMD Global run Android One.

For a time, there were rumors that Google might build its own smartphone processors. This would potentially enable it to more closely align new features and functionality in the Android platform with the hardware that will run them, just like Apple does with iOS. But it has never happened. What did happen was Project Treble, which has made it a bit faster and easier for phone makers to organize Android updates for their devices by separating low-level code that relates to the processor, modem, and other hardware, so they don’t need to be updated every time a new Android version comes along. Previously, the phone maker would have had to wait for the chipset provider, usually Qualcomm, to update that hardware code.

Project Treble and Google’s other efforts have no doubt had a positive impact. In 2018, both the OnePlus 6 and the Essential Phone released Android Pie or a beta for it as soon as Google released the version. Sony has the XZ3, which runs Pie, and Huawei’s Mate 20 and Mate 20 Pro are also on the latest version. But you only need to look at the devices waiting for Android 9.0 Pie updates to see there’s still a problem here. Google is stuck between a rock and a hard place because Android was originally intended to be an open platform to promote device innovation and variety. There’s no doubt it was a success. There are more than 2 billion monthly active users of Android. But there was a high price for that success.

How Google could fix the problem

Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

Google could try to put a foot down and enforce a unified update system, threatening to pull its services from manufacturers that don’t fall into line. But, if it does that, then the company will be criticized for going against those open ideals — and there’s always a risk that some phone makers may choose to ditch Android altogether.

There isn’t much incentive for manufacturers to push out new Android versions.

On the other hand, it’s abundantly clear that most manufacturers and carriers are still not going to handle updates in a timely manner if left to their own devices. That leaves many Android users with outdated firmware and potential security holes, despite the fact that the hardware they own is perfectly capable of running the latest Android releases.

Whatever you think about fragmentation, it doesn’t seem to put much of a dent in Android’s popularity. The OS accounted for 85.9 percent of all smartphone sales worldwide in the first quarter of 2018, according to Gartner. There isn’t much evidence it’s discouraging developers from creating new apps for Android either. There are more than 2.5 million apps in the Google Play Store now, despite some major culls, according to AppBrain.

That doesn’t mean things can’t or shouldn’t improve. Imagine a system where manufacturer user interfaces like Samsung’s Experience and Huawei’s EMUI were replaced by apps and launchers. All pre-installed manufacturer and carrier apps could be uninstalled if you didn’t want them. Android updates would come directly from Google over-the-air, just as they do with Pixel devices right now, and iPhones. That would be a better system for Android device owners, and a lot safer. But if we want fragmentation to end, we’re going to have to demand it.

Editors’ Recommendations

  • Opinion: Apple needs to modernize its antiquated annual app update routine
  • Android 8.0 Oreo operating system is now on 19 percent of active devices
  • What is Android? All your questions about the operating system answered
  • Android Go: Everything you need to know
  • A look back at the first Android phone, 10 years later



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