Flagship smartphones are the race cars of the mobile device market. With normal automobiles you don’t need to go 200mph just to get to work. You don’t need specialized tires, exhausts, engines, and steering wheels for an everyday driver, but that doesn’t mean you don’t want to go fast. Sometimes you want more than you need, and there is nothing wrong with that if you can afford it.
Without race cars, the limits of automobile technology wouldn’t be pushed. Did you know the rear view mirror and disk brakes came from race cars? What seemed innovative when those products were invented are now standard on all cars and trucks.
The smartphone industry is no different – flagship smartphones push the limits of what you can do with mobile technology. 1080p HD displays were “overkill” just two years ago, but are now almost a must have on a smartphone no matter the price. Fast processors, ultra-clear displays, massive amounts of RAM, and killer cameras on flagships make the mobile tech industry move forward.
While budget smartphones are an area of focus for me, I realize I may have forgotten about the enthusiasts who do want to go 200mph on their commute to work. So I have put together my list of the best flagships you can get before Mobile World Conference brings us a whole host of new phones for 2016.
Bear in mind, when 2016 came about, I made a vow to only use smartphones that are unlocked and cost less than $400. Flagship smartphones are a passion of mine, but for 2016 I am only going to use and review smartphones that can save you hundreds of dollars.
With that being said, I still want to share the top five Android flagship smartphones you can get today without taking money into consideration.
Number 5 – HTC One A9
One of the most underrated phones is the HTC made One A9. Software wise, it is one of the few devices that actually runs Android 6.0 Marshmallow with its litany of features many users yearn for. The One A9 is very easy to hold with an all metal design, has a fantastic fingerprint reader for security, and comes with UH OH protection. No other flagship offers free protection from accidents, and that is what sets the A9 apart from the crowd.
No matter how hard some people try, they will drop, scratch and break phones – even with cases on. Replacing or fixing a device is never cheap unless you buy the HTC One A9 since it is free. And better yet, with Android 6.0 the A9 runs buttery smooth and has great battery life.
- Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 617, Octa-core; 64-bit, 4 x 1.5GHz + 4 x 1.2GHz
- Memory: 3GB RAM / 32GB Storage
- Main camera: 13MP with sapphire cover lens, auto-focus , BSI sensor, OIS, ƒ/2.0, 1080p video recording
Front camera: HTC UltraPixel™, fixed focus, ƒ/2.0, 1080p video recording
- Display: 5.0 inch, Full HD 1080p
HTC One A9 at – Amazon.com, AT&T, Sprint
Number 4 – Samsung Galaxy S6 edge
Without question the Samsung Galaxy S6 edge is one of the most unique 5.1″ smartphones you can get today. It has a gorgeous 2.5D dual curved display that easy to use in one hand. With a Samsung made Exynos octa-core processor, and 3GB of RAM, the S6 edge frequently sits atop benchmark tests even though this phone was released almost a year ago.
The dual edge display wraps around the sides to give the phone a full display without bezels. As beautiful as the S6 edge is, the best part about the phone is the 16MP rear camera which is only matched in quality by its bigger brother, the Galaxy Note5. No other non Galaxy smartphone comes close to the high-quality pictures from the S6 lineup. And that 2k Super AMOLED display is to die for.
The main gripes I have with the S6 edge are the lack of expandable memory, slow updates, and replaceable battery. But it is still a great device you can still use in one hand.
- Processor: Samsung Exynos 7420 2.1GHz, 1.5GHz; Octa-Core
- Memory: 3GB RAM/32GB Storage
- Main camera: 16MP
Front camera: 5MP
- Display: 5.1 inch, F1440 x 2560 pixels (~577 ppi pixel density) Super AMOLED
Samsung Galaxy S6 edge at Amazon.com, AT&T, Sprint, Verizon, and T-Mobile
Number 3 – Samsung Galaxy Note5
Any other year and the Samsung Galaxy Note would have been my top pick. The Samsung Galaxy Note line is arguably the most functional smartphone you can get with its top of the line specs, and one of a kind stylus. When the first Note came out, people laughed and said the large display was unwieldy. But the choice to go with a 5.7″ display set the trend for other large smartphones.
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While the Note5 sits at number three, it used to sit at number one for me. Samsung decided to take away features like the IR Blaster, expandable memory, and removable battery from its most prolific smartphone. It replaced those features with an S6 like build that indluded a metal frame sandwiched in between two very sturdy pieces of Gorilla Glass 4. The processor, camera, and 2k AMOLED display are the best you can get on any smartphone. And like the S6 edge, the Note5 also has built-in wireless charging capabilities making it much more convenient to recharge your device.
And the S-Pen, while not for everyone, is super useful for those who still like to use a pen for note taking.
Random question – Did you know Samsung refers to the Note5 without a space in the name?
- Processor: Samsung Exynos 7420 2.1GHz, 1.5GHz; Octa-Core
- Memory: 4GB RAM/32GB Storage
- Main camera: 16MP
Front camera: 5MP
- Display: 5.7 inch, F1440 x 2560 pixels (~518 ppi pixel density) Super AMOLED
Samsung Galaxy Note5 at Amazon.com, Sprint, AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon
Number 2 – LG V10
LG quietly sneaked out a powerhouse in the second half of 2015 with the LG V10. The LG V10 is a dual display smartphone with just about every feature you can think of. The dual display is similar to the Samsung Galaxy Note Edge design from 2014, but instead of the second display being on the side, it sits on top of the main display. You can control your music, see current weather conditions, check recently used apps,and see notifications all without disturbing your main display.
The V10 also added real steel siding to the smartphone that gives it a gorgeous look with a four foot drop rating to keep it from breaking in minor accidents. The base memory is also massive at 64GB with the option to expand via the micro SD card slot, and it also has a user replaceable battery too. I find the V10 to be the replacement for what I miss most in the Galaxy Note5. The Quantum 2k display is a real gem too – it has one of the clearest displays of any smartphone and it does it without Samsung’s Super AMOLED technology.
If you like HiFi music, the V10 also has a built in digital to analog converter(DAC) which is audiophile code for a chip that makes music sound awesome. The built-in DAC sets the V10 apart from all other Android smartphones.
- Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 808 MSM8992, Hexa-core, 1800 MHz, ARM Cortex-A57 and ARM Cortex-A53, 64-bit
- Memory: 4GB RAM/64GB Storage
- Main camera: 16MP
Front camera: 5MP
- Display: 5.7 inch, F1440 x 2560 pixels (~515 ppi pixel density) Quantum IPS
LG V10 at Amazon.com, AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon
The best of the best Google Nexus 6P
You can’t go wrong with any of the top three phones if you like plus sized phones. But the Huawei made Google Nexus 6P is the overall champ of the flagships. It comes in an all metal body that is gorgeous, easy to hold, slim and “premium”.
What sets the Nexus 6P apart from the others is the ability to be used across any network, including Google’s own Project Fi, and the pure unadulterated version of Android 6.0 Marshmallow. Manufacturers are struggling mightily to keep up with Google’s software updates, and sometimes over customize what Android should be.
The Nexus 6P doesn’t have the greatest specs on paper, but with a clean version of Android it has incredible battery life, access to the most timely updates, and the smoothest software interface of all Android smartphones. The included fingerprint reader on the back is also amazing with incredible accuracy, and your finger will not only unlock your device, it will also turn on the display.
Other flagships that are sold through wireless carriers get added bloatware, and another layer of customization which slows updates to a grinding halt while taking up valuable space. Pure Android 6.0 Marshmallow is Google’s idea of what mobile software should be and I agree 100%. It’s fast, clean, and gets regular updates.
- Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 v2.1 2.0 GHz Octa-core 64-bit
- Memory: 3GB RAM/32GB Storage
- Main camera: 12.3MP
Front camera: 8MP
- Display: 5.7 inch,WQHD (2560 x 1440) AMOLED display at 518 ppi
Nexus 6P at Amazon.com, and Google.com
I know my top five smartphones you can get today may not match your list. Let me know what your top five phones you can get today are below.
The post We ranked the top 5 flagship Android phones you can get right now appeared first on AndroidGuys.
It’s always good finding out that your phone’s manufacturer is planning on rolling out the latest version of Android to your handset, and today it’s the turn of Huawei’s Honor brand of smartphones. According to a tweet by @HiHonorIndia, the company will begin pushing out the final version of its Android 6.0 Marshmallow update to selected handsets in February next year.
The selected handsets include the following models:
- Honor 7
- Honor 4C
- Honor 4X
- Honor 6
- Honor 6 Plus
While February is still 3 months away, it’s good that Huawei has been transparent in its intentions as it rides the good publicity generated by its partnership with Google to produce the well-received Nexus 6P.
If you own an Honor 7 and can’t wait until February for the Marshmallow update, Huawei is said to be making a beta of the Android 6.0 firmware available to beta test in the coming weeks. So it might be worth keeping an eye for the announcement.
Come comment on this article: Huawei’s Honor brand to receive Marshmallow update in February 2016
Although Android 4.0 made use of a dark color scheme to handle menus and settings, 5.0 saw a complete visual overhaul that extended to the color pallet as well: everything became bright white. Personal preferences aside, the new coat of paint irked more than a few users, but especially those with an AMOLED-packing device. Earlier this year when Google launched the Developer Preview of Android M, some eagle-eyed users were quick to spot a new option: Hidden away in the Developer Options settings tab was the ability to select either a Light or Dark theme for the OS skin.
Unfortunately, as the Developer Preview builds are ultimately a work-in-progress, the feature was eventually cut, and remains absent from the “RTM” build. Enter Hernán Castañón, who was taking a peek at the source code for Marshmallow and has discovered references to a “night mode”:
At the moment it’s impossible to know just what will become of this finding, if anything at all. Google could be planning to formally introduce the feature in a future update (say, Android 6.1 perhaps) or it could be just extra code. Still, much like the “hidden” multi-tasking it’s possible that at the very least some talented people might be able to work their magic and bring on the darkness.
The idea of a night mode that would allow the OS to intelligently change the color theme depending on the time of day would definitely be a major plus for anyone who has ever tried using their phone in the middle of the night and be bathed in glowing white light. And it looks cool to boot.
Should Google have included a Dark Theme option with Android, much like it offers on the stock Android keyboard? Leave us your thoughts below.
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Google is currently holding an event in San Francisco and the company has just announced that the new Android Marshmallow update is set to roll out to existing Nexus devices next week. Like previous years, the company’s own devices are the first to get the update and Google has confirmed that these devices will be getting the new Android 6.0 update next week:
At the moment, the company hasn’t confirmed whether both versions of the Nexus 7 will get the latest update or whether it will only be the Nexus 7 2013 but of course, we’ll let you know as soon as we find out. Unfortunately, it looks like the LG Nexus 4 and HTC-made Nexus 10 have reached their end-of-life status with Google not mentioning that these devices will be getting the Android Marshmallow update.
What does Google’s latest update bring? The list of new feature is extensive but the key features include Android Pay, Google Now on Tap, a new simplified permissions system, better battery management, improved sharing functionality and simplified volume controls.
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Google has also added a new doze feature to increase standby time when you’re not using the phone, automatic backup and restore of app data and settings to Google Drive, a new RAM manager and a new vertical app drawer that also displays your four more recently used apps at the top. Lastly, Google has also listened to feedback and Android Marshmallow now brings support for a horizontal home screen, which has been missing until now.
Do you have a Nexus device and if so, which one? Are you looking forward to the update? Let us know your views in the comments below and check out our Diving Into M series for a closer look at some of the features in the Android Marshmallow OS.
According to Canadian mobile service provider Telus, Google is planning to roll out Android 6.0 Marshmallow to both the Nexus 5 and Nexus 6 beginning Monday, October 5th. We already know that Google is holding an event on Tuesday, September 29th, where the company will most likely announce its two new Nexus devices, the LG-made Nexus 5X and Huawei-made Nexus 6P. This is when we’ll get more availability details regarding the next version of Android as well.
As you can see from the attached screenshot below, Telus’ software update information appears to be three months old. However, MobileSyrup says this information has been just recently updated, but we might still want to take this information with a grain of salt.
Even though this rumored roll out date is tentative, the date still fits in perfectly with how Google normally handles software updates with Nexus devices. Do note, however, that October 5th is when the update will likely begin rolling out to devices, so it may be a little while longer than that before all Nexus devices get the update.
Be sure to stay tuned to Android Authority for more information regarding Android 6.0 Marshmallow, new Nexus devices and more.
How would you like to get your hands on some Android Marshmallow goodness? Not the 6.0 stuff that’s going to roll out with new devices in the coming weeks. We’re talking a more collectible type of Android – namely some figurines.
We’ve got ten of these new Android M collectibles we’re ready to give away. What do they look like? Well, that’s a secret for now. All in good time.
How to win
We’re going to make this one nice and easy, and fun, too! There are two ways to enter with endless options at your disposal.
- Leave a comment below (using a legit login so we can track down winners) telling us your favorite Android feature. It doesn’t matter what it is – multi-tasking, widgets, live wallpapers, etc. Briefly explain why you love it so much.
- Tag us on Instagram (@androidguys) or Twitter (@androidguys) with the hashtag #AGAndroidM with a picture of anything that starts with the letter ‘m’. Anything counts, but keep it clean!
Indeed, you can enter both ways to increase your chances of winning. We’ll randomly select winners from the two methods so be sure to cover your bases.
You should know
We’re going to open this contest up to readers around the globe. Your entries need to be submitted by Midnight on Monday, September 28. We’ll announce winners across social media and update the post to name the lucky ten!
The post GIVEAWAY! Win one of ten official Android M collectible figurines appeared first on AndroidGuys.
Google aims to improve Android with each major release, however it doesn’t always manage to pack in the features and improvements that users and developers are asking for. The release of Android M is upon us, and here are eight things Google still needs to improve.
While Android M offers features such as arranging quick toggles and having a possible dark theme, it is still no match compared to custom ROMs. Theming and changes to the core look of the OS are nothing new to the rooting community and it is time Google allows this deep customization in stock Android.
Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich had a dedicated tablet UI which made the tablet and phone experience very different. Jelly Bean unified the tablet and phone UI to look and act very similar while keeping them separate and Lollipop basically made them indistinguishable. This is a good and a bad thing. While the experience is now the same, no matter what (stock Android) device you are using, there aren’t any special software features that make having a tablet worth while. Which leads into our next section.
Multitasking and RAM management
Multi-window multitasking is nothing new for owners of smartphones that come with customized versions of Android like those from Samsung or LG. But until now it has not been included in stock Android. While still in the experimental stage, this feature is now in the Android M dev preview. It enables apps to be opened simultaneously in all four corners, or two side-by-side. The only problem is that it doesn’t necessarily look pretty, and closing apps in this view may reveal others that are behind it. This can lead to a confusing experience, which I am hoping will be addressed in coming updates.
Also the RAM management issues that should have been addressed in KitKat, still exist today. When I have a lot of apps open I see multiple launcher redraws and quite a bit of lag, which have hindered the experience on my Nexus 6. The Nexus 9 with only 2 GBs of RAM is even worse and without these issues being fixed multi-window apps and heavy multitasking do not seem possible on stock Android yet.
There are no universal gestures in Android, the only major one is double tap to wake and stock Android only supports that on the Nexus 9, so the other Nexus devices are not able to take advantage of this. Custom launchers support some gestures but they only work on the home screen. There are apps that enable universal custom gestures if you are rooted and they enable you to do anything with just a swipe. This could be very useful and could even replace the navigation bar all together by having gestures that act as the back, home and recent apps controls.
Google introduced lockscreen widgets in Android 4.2 and sort of removed them in Lollipop. Swiping left or right now opens the camera or phone. There is no option to add widgets and swipe between them like you could in Jelly Bean and KitKat, however the notifications are actionable, so there is still the ability to change songs and do anything that you can do in the notification shade. This method works but it is not as pretty or as useful as it used to be. Having the ability to add widgets like Jelly Bean and KitKat, with actionable notifications would be a very nice upgrade.
Privacy and permission settings
App Ops made a slight appearance in Android 4.3 Jelly Bean. It let you control which apps can take advantage of what permissions. If you didn’t want Facebook being able to see your location, you could block the app from being able to do so. Unfortunately this feature was removed in Android 4.4.2 KitKat. Being able to control app permissions is a must have and it would be a welcome addition to Android M or any future Android release.
Full system backup and restore
This is nothing new in the root community, one of the best things about being unlocked and rooted is the ability to install a custom recovery. CWM Recovery and TWRP both offer ways to make Android backups which backup the whole system in case something goes wrong. This only takes a few clicks and the options provided are very customizable. Restoring is also a breeze with just a few steps. Google is getting closer with the ability to backup app data in Android M and the ability to add accounts and the home screen layout using Tap & Go. This is relatively convenient compared to older versions of Android but it doesn’t compare to a full system restore or a dedicated app like Titanium Backup.
The ability to remove bloatware
Carrier branded devices are known to come with a lot of bloatware. AT&T installs apps in the double digits on branded devices and even on the Nexus 6 when it came out. AT&T is not the only one at fault however, most of the carriers have some form of bloatware that you can’t get rid of no matter how hard you try, unless you are rooted. Disabling the apps in settings will get rid of them in the app drawer and prevent them from doing anything, but they still take up space on your device. Even the American Nexus 6 has Verizon bloat built in no matter what carrier you use it on.
Google has improved Android immensely since its first release in 2008, but there are always things to improve on. New Android releases bring a lot to the table while leaving a few things behind. Android M is no different, however with some options that should have been added long ago, along with better battery life, greater performance and other improvements, it is a worthwhile upgrade.
There was much discussion around the changes Google introduced in Android Lollipop to the volume system, and more specifically the volume slider, but putting the confusing system aside, the slider animation itself wasn’t a great experience.
It appears that Google has changed the way things work in the latest Android Marshmallow Developer Preview and now when users hit a volume key, the panel slides into view. The expand icon now does just that and has a full transition from up to down with the rest of the slider folding out.
It seems Google is taking their own guidance, finally.
Just as the shape of an object indicates how it might behave, watching an object move demonstrates whether it’s light, heavy, flexible, rigid, small or large. In the world of material design, motion describes spatial relationships, functionality, and intention with beauty and fluidity.
It’s the small things that please us, hey Google.
The post Latest Android Marshmallow Developer Preview intros new volume animation appeared first on AndroidGuys.
We finally have the gooey answer to the Android M conundrum and it’s Marshmallow. Not a major shock, it was always a front-runner, but some people have been surprised by the fact that Marshmallow will be version 6.0 of Android and not 5.2 or 5.5. Should a whole number leap imply some major overhaul? Why is Google jumping straight to 6.0? There are various possible reasons.
It never made sense
Did Google’s version system ever really make sense? Anyone who has worked with programmers will understand the often arbitrary nature of version numbers. Traditionally, the first number is supposed to mark a major version and the second number a minor version, but that’s just a general convention, it’s not an unbreakable rule. In practice, version numbers often just mark the point that something was pushed out the door. They’re useful because they make it possible to track down problems later, but they don’t really tell the end user anything, and they’re not really meant to.
Let’s take a brief look at the historical line-up of Android versions:
- Android 1.0
- Android 1.1
- Android 1.5 Cupcake
- Android 1.6 Donut
- Android 2.0 Éclair
- Android 2.2 Froyo
- Android 2.3 Gingerbread
- Android 3.0 Honeycomb
- Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich
- Android 4.1 (4.2, 4.3) Jelly Bean
- Android 4.4 Kitkat
- Android 5.0 Lollipop
Take a look through the versions and try to find a pattern that establishes consistently why some versions are whole number leaps and others aren’t. The closest you could argue is probably that whole numbers indicate an aesthetic leap, but Éclair didn’t really and Marshmallow won’t either. What does it matter when the system never really made sense anyway?
The dessert names are for users, marking larger leaps of style and function, but even the incremental updates within names have sometimes delivered more than just bug fixes. There’s no real consistency there.
Maybe it is a major version
Perhaps you could argue that Marshmallow is a major update, even if there isn’t an aesthetic overhaul. We’re getting a much improved, granular app permission system, a revamped payment system in Android Pay, contextual data with Now on Tap, support for fingerprint sensors, seamless custom Chrome tabs for apps, deep linking directly into apps, better cut and paste, support for USB Type C, a battery life boost with Doze, and the list goes on. Check out the Diving into M series for more.
That sounds like a lot. But then Froyo, Gingerbread, and Jelly Bean all delivered long lists of improvements without getting a number bump. Push notifications, Wi-Fi hotspot functionality, NFC, Google Now, IR blaster support, Bluetooth LE, and many other things came without whole number updates. What makes Marshmallow different?
Leaving Lollipop behind
It could be just as much to do with distancing Android from version 5.0 Lollipop as it is with reaching version 6.0. It’s no secret that Lollipop has negative associations for some people. There have been serious battery life issues for a lot of devices, Wi-Fi problems, lagging, stuttering, and frequent crashes, not to mention a host of smaller bugs. Version 5.1 doesn’t seem to have solved everyone’s issues, either.
It has also been far from a smooth roll out. Google’s latest figures suggest 5.0 adoption is at 15.5% with 5.1 accounting for another 2.6%. Bugs galore will ensure that Lollipop isn’t as fondly remembered as it might have been, but it’s not just the problems, it’s also the design changes. The Priority Mode has not been popular with people who want a simple silent option, widget support disappeared from the lock screen, and not everyone likes the new Material Design aesthetic.
Microsoft was so keen to distance itself from the unpopular Windows 8 that it skipped a whole number to land on Windows 10. Maybe Google is trying to make a similar break and show clearly that Marshmallow has moved on from Lollipop. If you didn’t like 5.0 then try 6.0.
Switching to the annual release cycle
We were discussing how a yearly release cycle could improve the Android experience a while back. Predictability and stability makes it easier for everyone to plan. It will help tackle the fragmentation issue and introduce a bit more clarity. OEMs, carriers, and developers can work with an established schedule far more easily than a series of random updates. It also means one big exciting release with the attendant fanfare each year, instead of a steady dribble of smaller improvements. That’s something that the media and consumers are more likely to get excited about.
It makes a lot of sense to assign a new name and number to the annual update and to save those .x releases for minor changes and bug fixes. It’s nice and neat. It’s a system that makes logical sense. Everyone can grasp what’s going on and that can only be a good thing.
Whatever dessert it’s named after matters a great deal less than what it’s like to use, and the version number matters even less than that. There’s really no reason for most people to care. Suffice to say that Android keeps on getting better and Android 6.0 Marshmallow looks like a real improvement that delivers a nice mix of new features and smart refinements to what we have already.
One drawback of this shift in mindset for the annual release schedule is that we now have 12 months of speculation about what Android N will be called. Neapolitan ice cream? Nut brittle? My money is on nougat. You heard it here first.
Android Marshmallow was officially named yesterday, along with the unveiling of the new mascot over at Google HQ. We are still a way away from getting to play with the final version of the new OS, but we can all enjoy new boot animation (above) until then.
The animation was pulled from the latest developer preview build for Android Marshmallow, which is available for a number of Nexus devices. There’s a very familiar theme to the current Lollipop boot animation.
Although there is still a long wait until Marshmallow for many of us, some Android users can enjoy the boot animation early, as it is also available as a download-able APK, see the source link. Although, you will need to be running a ROM with CM Theme Engine support to make use of it. Just install the file and pick it from the boot animation tab.
If you are after some more Android 6.0 customization options, you can also download the stock wallpapers from the Preview 3 build too.
What do you think?