HTC confirms no new flagship smartphone in the spring

A month ago we reported that HTC would not be releasing an HTC U13 in the spring of 2019. While the company is still planning to release at least one high-end smartphone in 2019, HTC Taiwan president Darren Chen has confirmed that the company’s roadmap does not feature a flagship smartphone for the spring.

Instead, HTC plans to extend the life cycle of the HTC U12+ which was released in May of this year. Chen did not elaborate on HTC’s plans for a flagship device later in 2019, but our source did previously share that “something else” will be coming from HTC, likely during the  second half of the year. 

Chen revealed that HTC’s efforts for 2019 would be centered around mid-range and high-end devices for 2019, in an effort to reboot smartphone sales and increase revenue for the company. It’s no secret that HTC isn’t doing well. 2018 will be the worst year on record for the company with revenue taking a 50-60% nosedive when compared to 2017. 

HTC will be relying on new smartphones like the HTC Desire 12s and the HTC U12 Life to move the needle a little. These new devices don’t offer much for those who have been HTC fans for the past decade, but they should be able to hold HTC over and pull in more revenue as HTC works on more profitable products to bring to market. 

Source: DigiTimes

World’s first SD855 smartphone benchmarks kill the competition

When Qualcomm
announced the new Snapdragon 855 last month, they promised that the new 7nm
chip would be significantly more powerful than the Snapdragon 845 and would
also give Huawei’s Kirin 980 and Apple A12 a run for their money. While it’s
easy to get excited about claims like that, we’ve been waiting for some
real-world numbers to back them up.

Thanks to today’s unveiling of the Lenovo Z5 Pro GT which is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 SoC, we can now get a better look at howmuch more powerful Qualcomm’s new chip actually is.

During the Z Pro GT’s unveiling, Lenovo shared some numbers, revealing that the phone managed to score a mind-boggling 368,480 points onAntutu. When compared to the Antutu benchmark numbers of the iPhone XS, the Lenovo Z Pro GT has a 3-5% performance advantage. But that gap grows to 20% when matched up against devices running the Kirin 980 and there’s an astounding 25% gap when you look at devices running the Snapdragon 845.

To be fair, the Lenovo Z5 Pro GT’s Antutu benchmark numbers area little skewed since the benchmarked device was equipped with 12GB of RAM. By removing the RAM “advantage” that the phone has over its competitors, Antutubelieves that the phone would still manage a score in the 360,000 point range. Even with this drop, the Lenovo Z5 Pro GT is still the most powerful smartphone to be benchmarked by Antutu and should give us a good baseline for how other Android smartphones running the Snapdragon 855 should perform. For those who don’t know, a leaked Antutu benchmark score for the upcoming Samsung GalaxyS10 surfaced recently with a score of 343,051. Since the device isn’t expected to make its debut for at least two more months, those scores couldeasily reach 360,000 as the software is finalized and performance optimizationsare made.

While few of you will likely be buying the new Lenovo Z5 ProGT, the performance numbers we’re seeing from the Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 lookpromising. The new chipset will deliver incredibly powerful smartphones in 2019 and the new 7nm manufacturing process will also give those devices improved battery life.

What’s your take on the performance of the new Snapdragon
855? Do you think it’ll be worth upgrading from a high-end 2018 smartphone to
one running a SD855 in 2019? Share your thoughts in the comments.

Lenovo Z5 Pro GT features 12GB of RAM, SD 855, hidden front-facing cameras

Say hello to the Lenovo Z5 Pro GT. The phone itself isn’t much to look at, but its internals are really what we should be focusing on. The device is the world’s first smartphone to sport a Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 and it’s also the world’s first smartphone with 12GB of RAM. But that’s not all. The Lenovo Z5 Pro GT is built with a sliding display which hides two front-facing cameras which means you get a true edge-to-edge display which isn’t marred by a notch or punch-hole. 

The other specifications of the Lenovo Z5 Pro GT include a 6.39-inch 2,340 x 1,080 AMOLED display, 512GB of storage, 16MP + 24MP dual cameras on the back, 16MP + 8MP (infrared) cameras on the front, 3,350mAh battery, dual nano SIM slots, USB-C port and NFC. 

Lenovo Z Pro GT pricing and availability

Despite the late-2018 announcement, the Lenovo Z5 Pro GT doesn’t actually go on sale until the end of January 2019. Lenovo will be selling the base models of the Z5 Pro GT (6GB of RAM, 128GB of storage) for 2,698 yuan ($390 USD) and the top of the line model with 12GB of RAM and 512GB of storage for 4,398 yuan ($640 USD). Pre-orders will begin on January 15th and the device will officially go on sale January 24th in China. Lenovo plans on bringing the Lenovo Z5 Pro GT to other Asian and European markets, but there’s little chance tht it will make it to North America. 

Help us choose the best smartphones of 2018

With the end of 2018 in sight, we thought this would be the perfect time to choose the best smartphones of the year. If you haven’t been paying close attention, 2018 has delivered quite a few outstanding devices. Sure, the notch has been present on most of them, but that really didn’t detract too much from the amazing cameras, performance and battery life that nearly all flagship devices packed in this year. 

Our team is working on our official list of best smartphones for 2018, but we also want your input for our official “Reader’s Choice Awards: Best Smartphones of 2018” article which will be going up early next week. 

What we need from you is your vote and a comment. The results of the poll will determine the winners and select comments about individual devices will be included for each device in the final article. If the device you want to vote for is not listed in the poll, feel free to add it in the poll’s comment section. 

We’re slowly working through our selection process for the best devices of 2018, but we’d really curious to see which smartphones you guys think is worthy to be crowned best smartphone of 2018. 

Take Our Poll

HTC tries to get back in the game with Desire 12s

HTC has introduced its latest Desire series smartphone in Taiwan. The new HTC Desire 12s isn’t exactly the smartphone Android enthusiast will be clamoring over, but at least its spec sheet sheet mirrors its price. 

The budget device is 8.3 mm thick and sports a unique dual-material design which has shiny texture and double lines matte texture. The handset is light weight and sports a 5.7-inch 18:9 aspect ratio multi-touch display with HD+ resolution.

The HTC Desire 12s specs include octa-core Snapdragon 435 SoC and has options of 3GB RAM with 32GB RAM and 4GB RAM with 64GB ROM. There is a 13MP front and 13MP rear camera both accompanied with LED flash.

HTC Desire 12s Specifications

Dimensions: 154.2 x 72.7 x 8.3 mmWeight: 150 gramsFingerprint sensors: RearSIM: Dual Nano SIMOperating System: Android 8.1 Oreo with HTC Sense UIDisplay: 5.7-inch 2.5D curved glass display with 1440 x 720 pixels resolution HD+ resolution, 18:9 aspect ratio, multi-touch supportChipset: octa-core (1.4GHz A53 x 4 + 1.1GHz A53 x 4) Snapdragon 435 mobile platform with Adreno 505 GPURAM and Storage: 3GB RAM with 32GB storage, 4GB RAM with 64GB storage. Expandable using MicroSD cardFront camera: 13MP with LED flash, F/2.4 Aperture, BSI Sensor, Fixed Focal length, Face detectionRear camera: 13MP with LED Flash, F/2.2 Aperture, PDAF, 1080p video recordingBattery: 3075 mAh with 5V/1A chargingConnectivity: 4G VoLTE, Wi-FI 802.11 b/g/n, Wi-Fi Hotspot, Bluetooth V4.2, GPS/GLONASS, MicroUSB, NFC, 3.5mm Audio JackSensors: Ambient Light, Proximity, Gravity, Compass, Magnetic

The HTC Desire 12s 3GB/32GB model is priced at NT$ 5990 (US$ 195 / Rs. 13,900 approx.). The Desire 12s 4GB/64GB variant costs NT$ 6990 (US$ 225 / Rs. 16,250 approx.). The device comes in Red Bloom, Refreshing Silver and Personalised Black colours and is already on sale in Taiwan.

There’s no indication that the HTC Desire 12s will be making its way to the US market, but we could see the phone pop up in a handful of countries across Asia and Europe. It’s doubtful that this device will do much of HTC’s bottom line, but it’s nice to see that HTC hasn’t yet thrown in the towel. 

Source: HTC

Nokia is back, but will it last?

It’s been over two and a half years since we first covered the news that the Nokia brand was being brought back to mobile, and with Android devices just like many had hoped would happen. While the nostalgia for Nokia was strong it seemed like a tall order to come back from the near total collapse of the brand after Microsoft essentially buried them right next to Windows Phone. And as we pointed out at the time, this wasn’t Nokia proper that was going to be building the new devices, HMD Global had merely bought the rights to brand their devices as Nokia. It seemed like a question of when, not if, we were going to have to bury the Nokia brand for a second time.
Fast forward to today and while the Nokia brand may not be poised to retake the crown as ruler of the mobile landscape, they are doing considerably better than I think all but the most ardent of Nokia fans would have predicted. HMD Global recently reported that they have sold over 70 million devices in slightly less than 2 years, now this does also include feature phones (“classic phones” as they refer to them on the Nokia site), but regardless, it’s an impressive figure and the smartphone sales have been sufficient to return Nokia to the top 10 smartphone brands by sales in 2018.
But the numbers aren’t all sunshine and roses for Nokia. The demographic breakdown for their device sales show that over 80% of their phones are going to men over the age of 35, that reflects a dependence on nostalgia that has to be worrisome for the company looking ahead.
The way the company has achieved its initial gains is by following the blueprint that many Nokia fans had hoped to see from the company back before Microsoft purchased them in 2013 — producing solid hardware with essentially a pure Android experience. To date, we’ve only been able to see them stick the landing on this one with low to mid-end hardware, which to be sure is a critical part of the market. We’ve seen they are finding success there, but it’s safe to assume that at least some Nokia fans would like to see the company produce a great flagship device. To be clear, the Nokia 8 and Nokia 8 Sirroco weren’t terrible by any means, but both failed to meet the high bar set by the likes of Samsung and even Google. Nokia fans that remember such highlights as the Nokia Lumia 1020 have to be hoping for a device that leapfrogs the competition in some regard.
But can the new Nokia deliver such a device?
Hope exists in the form of the long-rumored Nokia 9. The rumors have morphed a few times but seem to have settled now as a true flagship device that we expect in Q1 of 2019, likely at Mobile World Congress. Recent leaks have suggested that the phone will have 5 cameras on the back and that the full name will be the “Nokia 9 PureView” the name of the high-end camera system used in the Nokia 808 and 1020 that blew the competition out of the water at the time with a significantly larger sensor and a 40+ MP count. This could be exactly the kind of halo product that Nokia needs in order to garner the attention of younger buyers and expand beyond the old Nokia faithful.
On the flipside, this could prove to be a critical moment for at least the high-end aspirations of the new Nokia, whether this device can live up to the name of its PureView predecessors or if it amounts to little more than a gimmick. For a brand that at least at the moment is highly dependent on nostalgia, this could burn that bridge once and for all with high-end customers if it misses the mark.

Samsung’s foldable smartphone to feature astronomically price, massive battery

The foldable Samsung Smartphone which was teased at Samsung’s developer conference this fall will easily be the most expensive smartphone in Samsung’s 2019 lineup. According to a new report from CGS-CIMB Research, the Samsung foldable smartphone’s sticker price will likely start at $1,800, making it $800 more expensive than the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 base model. For that price, users will be getting a  4.6-inch display on the front of the device (when folded) and a larger  7.3-inch foldable display. Due to the folding nature of the device, the report claims that it will likely feature two separate batteries with a total capacity of at least 6,000mAh.
Other specifications are likely to include a Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 SoC, at least 6GB of RAM, 128GB of storage and an ultrasonic in-display fingerprint sensor.
While Samsung has not revealed when the foldable smartphone will be making its official debut, there’s a chance that it will officially be unveiled alongside the Samsung Galaxy S10. Based on the most recent Galaxy S10 rumor, that could mean that both phones will make an appearance at MWC 2019 in Barcelona.
Industry reports have shown that Samsung is only planning to build 1 million units of the device in 2019. Despite the Samsung FOldable smartphone’s alleged $1,800 price point, the company will likely sell every unit it builds. We’re still not sure if the device will off a better experience than the regular devices we’re using now, but we’re definitely curious to see if the foldable smartphone is what will usher us into the next wave of hardware innovations.
Source: Lets Go Digital via SamMobile

The 5G we were promised won’t be coming in 2019

With 4G coverage still not at 100% and the 2019 influx of 5G capable handsets about to land in our pockets, what can we really expect in 2019 from 5G?
The fifth generation of connectivity, *ahem* 5G, will be ready for the average Joe next year. Software and hardware are in the works, and carriers are getting ready to flip the switch of their 5G networks in the first half of 2019.
What we know:

Qualcomm has released details of its next-gen Snapdragon mobile CPU with X50 5G modem and antenna
Samsung and Verizon announced plans to launch a 5G smartphone on Verizon’s 5G network in the first half of 2019 using Qualcomm’s 5G-capable chip
Apple will reportedly wait until 2020 to release a 5G smartphone, preferring to wait until all the kinks have been worked out and 5G is more widely available
LG plans to beat Samsung to the punch with the first true 5G phone. The device will be out in the first half of 2019 as a Sprint exclusive

What we DON’T know:

How quickly the 5G rollout will actually happen over the year outside of major cities
If most major cities will even be enabled from day one
If remote and rural areas will even see 5G

Those who lived through the 3G to 4G upgrade will remember there were some serious issues when 4G first rolled out. Carriers took years to offer decent coverage and the first few generations of 4G devices were plagued with issues. As a person who lives in rural France, it was October 2016 when I saw 4G flash up on my notification bar for the first time. It was glorious, my life went from 2.4Mbps to 45Mbps in 24hrs, however, this leaves me thinking “how long will it be before I can even start to think about 5G?” My next smartphone is more than likely to be 5G enabled but I have a strong feeling that I’ll be left stranded in a 4G wasteland waiting for the world around me to catch up. What’s more, I certainly won’t be alone in waiting.
So, should we be hyped?  
The hype is actually real. 5G boasts the ability to take advantage of truly unlimited data at up to 2GBps, but its expected average speed should be around 300MBps. If you ask most smartphone users, those speeds would be a dream, but mobile connectivity is only the beginning. From smart-home security to self-driving cars, all the Internet-connected devices in your life will be able to talk to each other at lightning-fast speeds with reduced latency.
5G could finally make AR & VR headsets more viable for mainstream users. Augmented reality glasses and virtual reality headsets haven’t breached the mainstream, but tech companies are hedging bets that these devices will eventually replace our smartphones. With 5G connectivity, that is a real possibility.
But don’t go getting too excited just yet. There’s still a lot of work to be done, including compatibility trials to make sure the radios play nicely with hardware and infrastructure build-out so that 5G coverage isn’t concentrated solely in high-density cities.
With Qualcomm leading the charge, we’ve seen a lot of positive progress on the 5G front in 2018. Despite 2019 looking like a big year for network launches and new handsets promising to usher us into the 5G era, it looks like it won’t be until 2020 or even 2021 before network providers have enough towers upgraded with new equipment to deliver 5G speeds to a significant portion of the population.

Where will see it first? In the US, the charge will be led by Verizon and AT&T, but T-Mobile and Sprint will be pushing their 5G deployments as well. The largest metropolitan areas with the fastest internet backbones will see the 5G icon pop up first, but it’ll be years before 5G coverage trickles out to the suburbs and rural areas will likely never see it. In France, I’ll likely have to make a trip to Paris to experience anything, and that’s only if they hit the rollout targets. C’est la vie.
The reason for this is the limitation of the mmWave technology being used for 5G. While mmWave can offer much faster speeds than LTE, it doesn’t travel far and has a hard time penetrating walls. To deliver G coverage, service providers will need to build out a much more dense network of 5G towers to offer good coverage — something that would be too expensive to do in rural areas. Where G coverage isn’t feasible, service providers will continue to improve their 4G networks, eventually offering Gigabit LTE. Or in other words, the 4G speeds we were promised back in 2011.

As for hardware, smartphones with 5G connectivity will be more expensive and will likely suffer from poor battery life. OnePlus has stated that its first-gen 5G devices will carry a $200-$300 premium over their LTE counterparts due to the new Qualcomm X50 modem, and multiple QTM052 antenna modules needed to connect to a 5G network. The extra modem and antennas will increase a phone’s power consumption, likely reducing battery life to what we saw on the first generation of 4G smartphones like the HTC Thunderbolt.
There’s little doubt that we’ll see the first G networks come online in 2019 with the first round of 5G devices. Just don’t get your hopes up. You’ll likely not be living the 5G dream for years to come.

Liquipel review: OnePlus 6 water resistance test

It’s pretty easy to find smartphones and other gadgets with IP dust and water resistance ratings these days. Often times, we purchase water-resistant devices without even knowing it. But if you’re using a device from OnePlus of a smartphone that didn’t have an excessively-high price tag, there’s a good chance that won’t do too well if exposed to water or moisture. Sure, most smartphones which lack an official IP (ingress protection) rating will be just fine if they get a little wet from a few drops of rain, but you’ll be lucky if they survive an accidental dip in the pool or a drop in the toilet (yes, most water damages smartphones are from toilet drops).
That’s where’s Liquipel come in with its Liquipel Watersafe Technology. A few years back, Liquipel developed its Watersafe nanocoating which can be applied to smartphones, smartwatches, tablets and other gadgets, creating a water-resistant barrier which blocks liquid from coming into contact with a device’s circuitry, dramatically reducing the chance that an internal component will fail after it’s been submerged into water. Liquipel doesn’t claim that its nanocoating is a substitute for an official IP certification, but it does offer a “you break it, we fix it” guarantee.

To put the Liquipel Watersafe Technology to the test we dug up a OnePlus 6 and mailed it to Liquipel’s facility. The nanocoating process only takes roughly 20 minutes. The device is placed into a proprietary machine that applies a liquid repellent substance to electronics and fabrics. Once the vacuum process is complete, the Liquipel formulation is injected and transforms from a liquid to a gas as it enters the chamber. To complete the process, a plasma is introduced that decomposes the liquid repellent’s molecules and polymerizes them to themselves.
The company managed to apply the coating to our OnePlus 6 within 24 hours of receiving it and shipped it back with express 2-day shipping. Once we got it back, we decided that the best way to test it out was by dunking the OnePlus 6 in a bucket of water and leaving it there for 30 minutes (make sure you watch the video). The OnePlus 6 managed to survive being submerged in water for 30 minutes, but that’s not uncommon since corrosion of the phone’s circuitry typically happens when water evaporates while the phone dries out. The only issue we did identify was a muffled speaker which was easily remedied why shaking the phone a few times and then turning on some music so that the speaker’s vibrations could push the remaining water out of its audio chamber.

One thing that the Liquipel coating can’t really protect against is water of moisture build-up in the cameras of your phone, but that’s typically not an issue unless you drop the phone into water that’s a few feet deep. We didn’t have any moisture build-up in the camera of our OnePlus 6, but that’s something to be aware of if you’re considering the Liquipel treatment for your device.
Our initial plan was to test the phone after 24 hours to see if it was still functional, but we pushed that back to 72 hours since we were not able to find any issues after the first day. As promised by Liquipel, after three full days, the OnePlus 6 was working perfectly. The phone’s two speakers produced crisp audio when listening to music or taking a call, the 3.5mm headphone jack didn’t have any issues and the USB-C port on the bottom had no issues charging or connecting the phone to a computer.
At $60, the Liquipel treatment isn’t necessarily cheap, but it’s definitely not too much to ask for a product that will keep your device safe from water and moisture. The price also includes the return shipping costs, Liquipel’s screen protector coating and a case for your device. If you have a OnePlus or any other device that doesn’t have an official water resistance rating, the Liquipel Watersafe Technology is one of the only real options out there if you’d like to keep your device alive if it’s accidentally submerged in water, so $60 is certainly not too much to pay for peace of mind.

The punch hole is just as bad as the notch

As an HTC user, one thing I’ve never had to worry about are notches. But now with the “hole punch” being the next screen/camera craze seemingly about to storm the smartphone market, I’m slowly coming to terms with the fact that my next smartphone might include an ugly black spot on the screen.
But why are we being forced to sacrifice screen real estate for notches or the aptly-named hole-punch camera cutout? Is this simply a design trend that will fade away as quickly as it showed up or are the notch and punch-hole here to stay?
I mean there are even seriously viable alternatives emerging such as the Xiaomi Mi Mix 3 with their sliding phone throwback and the pop-up cameras of the Oppo Find X to name but two both adding functionality while maintaining full-screen real estate. Personally pop-up and sliding cameras aren’t for me, I’m not sure I like the added possibility of mechanical failure. But at least they are trying, right?
Notches flew on to our screens in August of 2017 with the introduction of Sharp’s Aquos S2 overshadowed swiftly by the Essential PH1, then followed by countless other manufacturers. Fast forward just over a year and we see the internet recoiling in horror when the sheer size of the Pixel 3’s notch was revealed. I can’t help wonder if this has sparked some kind of retreat? Boardroom meeting across the globe discussing how they’d break up our full-screen experience over the next 18 months of smartphone releases. “I know let’s just punch a hole out the screen” – Le sigh. Let’s not even mention LG’s patent for an oval cutout.

This still leaves me asking the question though: why? Notches are ugly. Dead space is ugly. Are my dreams of true edge-to-edge screens really that crazy? Any way you cut it, the notch and the punch-hole aren’t really a step forward in my book.
It can certainly be argued that the hole is aesthetically not that bad — but as consumers, we’re constantly being asked to compromise screen space for dead space. I’d rather have a modest bezel that houses the cameras, speakers and fingerprint sensors (That’s right I think rear fingerprint sensors are useless too) rather than see my handsets getting more and more erm edge to edge “glassy”?
Yesterday’s unveiling of the Samsung Galaxy A8s and Honor View 20 were just the beginning. Lenovo’s Z5S has already received certification by the TENAA in China and then there’s the upcoming Huawei Nova 4 is expected to be the first Huawei-branded phone to feature the hole-punch camera and is likely to be introduced on 17th December 2018.
Needless to say, I like display notches and holes as much as I’d like to see a cluster of dead pixels.
I’m merely opening up a conversation here, manufacturers are producing the units, consumers are buying them. However, I see opinions to the contrary all across social media. Do people really like notches and cutouts are much as we a led to believe? All i know is the punch-hole is just as bad as the notch and I’m almost dreading what might be coming next unless of course, it’s a return to nice sturdy bezels and aluminum bodies.