The Huawei P30 Pro’s cameras put the iPhone and Galaxy S10+ to shame

For the past few years, Huawei has been working hard to make sure its flagship devices remain competitive with Samsung and Apple. The design, performance and camera capabilities of Huawei’s Mate and P-series smartphones did the job, but last year Huawei kicked things into overdrive with the Huawei P20 Pro and Mate 20 Pro.
At yesterday’s unveiling of the new Huawei P30 series, the company showed no sign of slowing down, especially on the camera front. While the P30’s cameras offer a huge step up over last year’s P20, the P30 Pro is the device to get if you’re looking for the ultimate camera experience on a smartphone. Huawei even boasted that the new device will usher in a “new era of smartphone photography.” 
Right out of the gate, the Huawei P30 Pro beats the competition simply with the number of camera sensors its features on the back of the phone. Huawei has crammed in a total of four sensors, one of which features a periscope-style 5X telephoto lens. The main camera is equipped with a 40MP sensor with an incredible f/1.6 lens. A second 20MP sensor is then paired with a 16mm ultra-wide lens and the third 8MP sensor sports a 125mm 55 telephoto, f/3.4 periscope lens.  The fourth sensor on the P30 Pro is a ToF sensor which is used for more accurate depth calculations for improved portrait images which Huawei claims can accurately map a subject’s hair so that it doesn’t blur into the background. 
While that may seem like a lot, Huawei also decided to change the sensor technology as well. Rather than opting for the traditional RGGB sub- Pixel array that nearly all camera sensors use, the Huawei P30 camera sensors use an RYYB sub-pixel layout. The reason for the change is that this configuration allows each pixel to capture 40% more light. On top of that, the sensor on the P30 Pro is also capable of ISO 409,600, allowing the phone to capture images with as little as 1 LUX of light.
Rather than simply giving us the specs and calling it a day, Huawei decided to show off what the cameras on the Huawei P30 Pro are capable of.

Huawei started their comparison with images captured in a dark room with a mother and daughter. The images from the Samsung Galaxy S10+ and Apple iPhone Xs Max turned out dark as you’d expect, but thanks to the new sensors and the ISO capabilities of the P30 Pro, Huawei’s phone delivers an image which looks like it was captured during the day.

Huawei even showed off images of the night sky over Africa. The images captured by the Apple and Samsung phones were completely black, but the one from the Huawei P30 Pro highlighted a tree, the hills in the background, the gradient sky and quite a few stars. This example was skewed a bit in Huawei’s favor since the shutter time was 0.85 seconds on its device versus 0.25 on the other two phones.

In true Huawei fashion, the comparisons then shifted dramatically in the company favor with shots like these which showed a 1/4-second exposure from the iPhone, a 10-second exposure from the Galaxy S10+ and 30-second exposures from the P30 and P30 Pro.
At this point, Huawei’s CEO took a jab at Samsung, noting that “the Galaxy phone cannot see the galaxy. But with the Huawei P30 and P30 Pro, you can see the galaxy.”

Huawei then shifted its focus to the 5X telephoto lens of the phone, showing side-by-side comparisons with its main competitors. This image here is from a sight chart which was photographed from across the room. When zoomed in, the image from the Huawei P30 Pro is the only one that retains enough details to reveal the small letters on the chart.

Driving the point home, Huawei then highlighted an image of the moon. The iPhone came in dead last, simply showing a white blob in the sky. The Samsung Galaxy S10+ fared better, revealing a lot more detail than the iPhone, but Huawei’s device (which is capable of 50X digital zoom) delivered an astounding image incredible detail.
While on-stage comparisons like these are never truly fair, it’s clear that the new sensors that Huawei is using in the P30 and P30 Pro have a leg up on the competition.

2019 could be the beginning of the end for Huawei

Over the years we’ve seen quite a few smartphone markers quickly rise into the spotlight and then fade away. Palm, Nokia, RIM, Motorola, HTC and others all enjoyed tremendous success, followed by a dramatic fall. The interesting thing is that the stories behind the successes and failures of these companies are all different. They bet on the wrong platform, moved too slowly, got lost in the shuffle or simply lost their identity. 

But since each company faced unique difficulties, it’s been hard for other companies to learn from their mistakes. While it’s easy to spot a company that’s a few years into a decline, it’s harder to predict which company will be the next to fall from grace. Because of that, you likely wouldn’t believe us if we told you that #2 smartphone maker on the globe will be the one facing an uncertain future. 

Huawei surpassed Apple on the charts back in 2017, moving from being the #3 smartphone maker to the #2 spot, positioning itself nicely behind Samsung. The company is expected to ship more than 200 million devices in 2018, up from 153 million units in 2017. Huawei has been on an unprecedented growth spurt, overtaking its competitors one by one by delivering cutting-edge smartphone like the Huawei Mate 20 Pro and budget-friendly devices with competitive specs with its Honor brand. 

The most surprising aspect of Huawie’s growth has been that it’s managed to capture 15% of the global smartphone market share without breaking into the North American market. That point was to be Huawei’s main focus for 2018, but it’s also where things started to go wrong as well.

Back in January of this year, Huawei’s CES press conference was where the company was planning to announce its official entry into the US market. Huawei had worked out deals to bring the Huawei Mate 10 Pro to AT&T and Verizon, putting its best phone on thousands of stores across the US. But those deals fell through at the last minute. According to the rumors, AT&T and Verizon backed out at the last minute due to pressure from the US Senate and House committees which insisted that Huawei would be “a security threat” if it managed to secure a firm foothold in the US market. 

Huawei pushed forward with the Mate 10 Pro announcement, choosing to sell the device unlocked through Best Buy and its own website. In February, the US’ offensive went one step further with the heads of multiple US intelligence agencies warning Congress about the threat posed by Huawei’s close ties with the Chinese government. 

“We’re deeply concerned about the risks of allowing any company or entity that is beholden to foreign governments that don’t share our values to gain positions of power inside our telecommunications networks,”

While no specific threats of espionage were shared, the US government’s anti-Huawei stance was enough for Best Buy to rethink it’s relationship with Huawei, announcing that it would phase out sales of unlocked Huawei devices. 

Since then, the US government has been putting pressure on its allies across the globe to limit their use of Huawei networking equipment. So far, New Zealand, the UK, Canada and Australia appear to have taken a stance against Huawei as well, citing security concerns with Huawei’s equipment. 

Just this week, we learned that the Sprint and T-Mobile merger in the US was given a security approval based on the agreement from Deutsche Telekom (T-Mobile’s parent company) and SoftBank Group (Sprint’s parent company) to not use Huawei network equipment to build out their 5G networks. This is a huge blow for Hauwei as SoftBank Group and Deutsche Telekom operate the largest networks in Japan and Germany. 

On top of that, Huawei CFO Wanzhou Meng was arrested in Vancouver on December 1st. The arrest is related to Huawei’s supposed violation of international sanctions on Iran. While the exact details of the violation are still being kept under wraps, the US is hoping to have Meng extradited to the US to face trial. Making matters worse, Wanzhou Meng also serves as vice-chair of Huawei’s board and is the daughter of the company’s founder.

So where does all this leave Huawei?

While Huawei’s smartphone business is bigger than ever, its network infrastructure business will be facing tough times in 2019 and beyond. For those who don’t know, Huawei’s network equipment business if far bigger and dramatically more lucrative for Huawei than its smartphone business. It’s also the reason why the company’s smartphones have become so popular across Asia and Europe.

Huawei has used sales of its network equipment to service providers across the globe as a bargaining chip to get them to also sell its smartphones to their customers. That’s one of the reasons why Huawei’s smartphones hadn’t yet established a foothold in the US. Huawei has been banned from bidding on US network builds in the US since 2011, essentially freezing out any relationships between Huawei and US service providers. 

If more countries ban Hauwei equipment from their 5G network build outs, the relationship that Huawei has with service provider around the globe will suffer. There’s a very good chance that customers will start seeing fewer Hauwei devices in carrier shops in Europe, forcing the company to retreat to Asia and more friendly markets. This would inevitably lead to a dramatic decline in the sales of Huawei smartphones, resulting in a drop in market share. 

The good news is that none of this is set in stone. Huawei is currently trying to work with the UK to address the security concerns they have. The company could also make significant changes to distance itself from the Chinese government, adding independent oversight of certain portions of its business. At this point, Huawei’s fate is still in its own hands. They can choose to play defense and try to fend off the attacks on its businesses or go on the offensive and present a plan which will change the narrative in 2019. 

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

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.

Mainstream media still doesn’t understand Android

Those of us who have been using Android for years have a good understanding of the platform, its limitations and how it compares to the competition. While I’ve been a proud Android user since the original T-Mobile G1, I’ll be the first to admit that Android has its fair share of issues. For all its versatility, power and compatibility, the platform can’t compete with the simplicity of iOS. For all its restrictions, Apple’s devices and ecosystem do create a more-cohesive environment that gives its users a sense of security and peace of mind. Android simply doesn’t have that.
But the issue I’m struggling with is how Android is still so misunderstood. A consumer who has never used Android before definitely gets a pass, but the media definitely doesn’t. An article published on Business Insider a few weeks back shows that even mainstream media still doesn’t seem to understand Android.
Below are a few examples pulled from the article.

Android as an open-source platform
Android’s software is built on an open-source platform, which gives developers the ability to create apps that can do more. The potential for customization is basically limitless.
It’s true that Android does have a lot more customization options when compared to iOS, but that’s not necessarily due to the open-source nature of the platform. Because Android is open-source, the code can be taken, modified and used in any way imaginable, but that doesn’t mean that an app developer is given magical powers to transform the Pixel or any other device at will through an app installed through the Play Store.

Android devices as fundamentally insecure
While I never got a virus scare with iOS, using Android reminds me of surfing the web in the early 2000s. I’ve frequently had to exit out of apps like a maniac as pop-ups flooded my screen.
Security is definitely an important topic to cover, but there’s a big difference between security and pop-up ads. It’s not Android’s fault that a user downloads an app from a developer that is more concerned about making a few extra bucks with ads than offering a great user experience. Read the reviews before you download and you’ll find amazing apps.
This hit home for me earlier this year when an Ars Technica report revealed that Facebook had been collecting texting data and call history from users through its Messenger app. Though users technically opt in, the specifics of what Facebook was allowed to collect was hidden in the fine print. This breach of privacy affected only Android users.
The Facebook messaging tracking fiasco was a huge story this year, but it’s surprising that the media is still blaming this on Android. Yes, Android did allow Facebook to collect specific data on its users, but that was not a flaw in the system. Facebook was the one at fault for simply breaching consumer trust.

Android’s main features
What I missed most was the ability to copy and paste from a text message. Google recently resolved this issue, but at the time it was a huge pain, especially when people sent addresses. You really get used to the ability to simply click an address and have it come up in your maps app.
I always laugh when iOS users think their devices have the corner on certain features which were actually implemented on Android years before Apple got around to them. Copy & Paste is far better on Android than it is on iOS and clicking on a link to open it in Maps has been around for about a decade.

…you could find many of these functionalities on the Google Play store. But the effort of finding something and vetting its quality never seems worth it.

Finding great apps on Android is just as easy as it is on iOS. The default apps on Android may not have all the same features as those on iOS, but the versatility that Android offers mean that developers can do a lot more on the platform than they can on iOS.
Final thoughts
While Android devices account for the vast majority of smartphone sales around the globe, iOS is still the platform of choice for many members of the press. I don’t have an issue with that since choosing an operating system is subjective to the user’s needs. What irks me is that there is so much uneducated reporting on Android, painting it as an operating system for coders and gamers.
If you’re still not sure why your friends and family members are reluctant to switch from iOS to Android, I suggest reading the Business Insider article. It’s definitely eye-opening, revealing how little the media and general consumers really know about Android.
Source: Business Insider
 

The future of glass smartphones may have a bit less slip

Let’s face it, glass backs are not going anywhere. A glass back on a smartphone is synonymous with premium and high end, even when budget phones are long using glass backs. We can’t deny that they feel great.
A metal back is also premium, but there’s one issue: the ability to support wireless charging. A metal back won’t allow for wireless charging to work, but glass and plastic will. But plastic is so 2012.
Plastic is seen as cheap, and we can’t blame people for thinking so. Many budget phones with plastic construction definitely feel the part. And we can’t forget how awful Samsung products felt back in the day. The Galaxy S3 was a strangely slick, plasticky mess. The Galaxy Tab 10.1 was even worse, with more flex in the back panel than a party balloon. It doesn’t have to be that way, as plastic can be made to feel good, but glass is definitely the better feeling material.
Now that we’re stuck with glass, we get to see the disadvantages. The main one is that it’s slippery. Unlike a textured plastic or aluminum finish, regular glass tends to slip out of the hand easier. Not only that, but it also likes to slide off angled surfaces. Sometimes you’ll only realize the surface isn’t level by your phone slowly sliding off.
To make matters worse, glass is also fragile (but I don’t have to tell you that). Being brittle, it’ll crack and shatter easily from drops. A soft aluminum frame and poor buffer between aluminum and glass makes this even more likely. Not all phones are built alike, but if it has a glass back, it’ll likely shatter after only a few drops. Fragile and hard to hold is a dangerous combination.

While manufacturers can design a device with a higher chance of surviving drops, glass will still remain the weak point. But glass doesn’t have to be so slippery! And manufacturers are finally catching on.
The Google Pixel 3 duo have some strong frosting on the rear glass, creating a texture that avoids a bit of the slipperiness of regular glass. OnePlus took a similar route with their Midnight Black color, which is just black glass with a light frosted texture across the entire thing. This is a step in the right direction, but it does have one downside. Frosted glass is far easier to scratch, leaving marks on the frosted surface even when treating it as delicately as possible.
Huawei took it in a different direction with the Mate 20 Pro. The rear glass has a fine grid of raised dots, creating a fine texture that’s not easy to see outside of direct light. It still looks like glass and reflects like glass, but it adds a bit of much-needed grip and makes a nice sound when you run a fingernail across it. It also doesn’t suffer any of the downsides that frosting does, as keys don’t leave any marks. Unfortunately, like most polished glass surfaces, it doesn’t stop fingerprints.
This is likely only the beginning. Now that we’re seeing manufacturers starting to experiment with various textures on glass, we should see new and interesting ways to get a grip on our wildly expensive glass smartphones. Of course, you could (and probably should) use a case or skin, but some of us love the feel of a naked phone, experienced as it’s designed to be. It’s a risky way of life to be sure, but a rewarding one.

Two weeks in and I’m still looking for the Pixel 3’s ‘It’ factor

There are a lot of reasons why you should buy a new phone. Typically, the decision to buy a new smartphone is spurred by the fact that you own a device that’s a few years old, is running slow and can’t keep up with your daily needs. Newer devices are always faster, sleeker and come with cameras which are substantially better than the one we’ve been holding onto.
While there’s no shortage of great Android devices to choose from these days, it’s actually becoming harder to choose the right phone to fit your individual needs. All these devices offer incredible performance and new software tricks which promise to make your life easier, but many of them simply lack that “It” factor that sets them apart from the competition.
I purchased the new Pixel 3 a few weeks back and have been using it as my daily driver as I’ve been working on my Pixel 3 review (I promise, it’s almost done). The phone looks good and has all the features you’d want in a flagship Android smartphone, but I’m still not sure what the phone’s “it” factor is. Some will point out that the Pixel 3 runs stock Android or that its camera is phenomenal, but it’s honestly no better than last year’s Pixel 2. And in making that comparison, the Pixel 2 actually comes out ahead since the new Pixel 3 made its debut with a $150 markup.

The only real distinguishing factor that the Pixel 3 has to offer is its secondary selfie camera which features a 19mm ultra-wide angle lens. If you’ve seen my Pixel 3 versus Pixel 2 camera comparison, it’s hard to miss the dramatic difference that the wide-angle lens has to offer. That being said, the LG V40 also sports a wide-angle lens up front in addition to a triple-camera setup on the back of the phone.
Making things worse is the Pixel 3 RAM management issue. Google has promised that a fix is in the works, but it’s disappointing that the issue existed in the first place. Google could have skirted the issue by equipping its phone with 6GB of RAM  — something that’s become the norm on all other flagship devices these days. Instead, we have a phone with the same amount of RAM as last year’s device and software that kills off background apps at its own discretion.
Maybe I’m just being too picky or maybe I’m just not seeing it, but I don’t think Google’s Pixel 3 has an “it” factor.

It’s time for manufacturers to ditch custom UI’s for stock Android

Before I begin, I’m writing this completely from an HTC user perspective. I understand there are other manufacturers out there, but my experience of other brands is limited, if your experiences are different or you have anything to add from the other side of the fence, I’d love to read your comments.
“We’ve come a long way baby.”
Since the first Android phone in 2008 from HTC, we’ve seen a full spectrum of “skins” or custom User Interfaces from numerous manufacturers based on the Android OS. Ten years ago, it is what seemed like the only way to make the most of the bare bones Android and introduce new features that stock software was lacking. In 2009 HTC released the HTC Hero (my first Android phone) running brand new HTC Sense which was the metaphorical springboard to the Android experience we have everywhere today.
However, to the tech-savvy user, an Android skin is, at best, an unnecessary inconvenience. More often, it’s a clunky, not cool, faux fashion statement by manufacturers who are clearly out of touch with user expectations.
Ask any Android fanboy and you’ll usually hear two points of view: Android is better than iOS, and the closer to stock (or AOSP), the better. I’d have to agree, however, this hasn’t always been my mantra. Ever since the first Android skin appeared in the form of HTC Sense, way back in 2009, I was convinced that custom UI was the only way to really enjoy the Android mobile experience. It was something they did really well and made the Android experience easy and fun, without too much bloat.
So what do we get when we buy a device without stock Android? The traditional arguments against skins and manufacturer tweaks are abundant, here are a few:

Skins are generally uglier than Stock Android
They include bloatware or duplicate apps
Your phone’s performance will suffer
Material design is basically nonexistent
Updates come less frequently, if at all
The core Android experience gets confused
Your battery life will suffer

Until the last year or two, I wouldn’t have agreed with many of these points. However watching the rapid growth of Google’s homegrown Pixel line (Successor of Nexus) and comparing them with my 9-year unbroken relationship streak with HTC and HTC sense, I’m seeing less and less evidence to convince me that manufacturer UI is the way to go. Often saying to myself “I’m so heavily invested in the Google infrastructure and software suite, do I even need HTC Sense?” — I find myself being increasingly frustrated by the twists and turns standing between me and useful features, hindering my productivity.
Photo by Hugh Han on Unsplash
In a sea of manufacturers who are all fighting for market share, is there room for segregated UI experiences anymore? I’ve been an HTC user for nearly 10 years, I liked HTC sense and I’ve never considered leaving because I didn’t want to adjust my habits and learn a new UI. I was happy, but as advancements in camera software and design language progress and manufacturer software updates get left behind, not to mention the rapid downturn of HTC’s business. So I’m left here feeling lost and wondering: is it time to change the game?

… Given the choice, how would you like that presented to you? Factory unlocked stock android experience that comes at a premium. Manufacturer Custom UI with slight price also at premium price. Or Locked Carrier UI with unit price reduction.
— Darren Millar (@darrenmillar) November 2, 2018

I have no regrets in admitting I love HTC hardware but I’ve started to fall out of love with the user experience. Simple things that should just work, don’t. Software updates, although still amongst the fastest in the industry, are becoming delayed. Imagine for a minute that all software was created equal (please don’t mention iOS) and the hardware was the variable. If this was the case, users like me might become more adventurous with their hardware choices, knowing the UI was going to be the same whichever road they picked. I’d go as far as saying that I’m scared to move to another manufacturer in case I just can’t become friends with the user experience. In a world of $1000 flagships, who can really afford to be bold enough to flip-flop between brands without the peace of mind of a seamless user experience which is ultimately at the mercy of the software.
However cliché it might sound, I guess the best version of Android is what works best for you, but what do you think? Is it time to adopt a universal Android experience and let the user choose a phone based purely on design and features? I think I’m ready for that future.
 

Rejoice, the era of the smartphone notch has come to end!

Yesterday’s unveiling of the Lenovo Z5 Pro may have passed under your radar, but it signifies something quite important — the death of the smartphone display notch. While the Xiaomi Mi Mix 3 and Honor Magic 2 both feature a similar slider design which allows the front-facing camera and sensors to be hidden below the display, the Z5 Pro is the first sub-$300 smartphone to do so.
When the iPhone X made its debut, Android fanboys were among the first to criticize Apple for the massive notch which dominated the top of the display. While the size of the notch was justified due to the number of sensors that it housed, it definitely wasn’t pretty and the extra screen real estate offered by the space on both sides of the notch was negligible.
But to the dismay of many, most Android smartphone manufacturers jumped head first into the notch arena, delivering dozens of mid-range and flagship smartphone with notches at the top of their displays. Shockingly, the smartphone with the most offensive notch is actually Google’s own Pixel 3 XL which features an obnoxiously tall notch for no apparent reason. With the exception of the OnePlus 6T, I’m sure we can all agree that notches don’t look good. But they do have one redeeming quality — offering a high screen-to-body ratio, fitting a larger display into a device with a smaller footprint.
Fortunately, smartphone manufacturers appear to have come to their senses. A few months back, the Oppo Find X and Vivo NEX introduced mechanical pop-up front-facing cameras to get rid of the notch, but the new slider designs from Lenovo, Xiaomi and Honor are a lot more practical and cheaper to build.

The Lenovo Z5 Pro is equipped with a Snapdragon 710 SoC, 4 or 6GB of RAM, 64 or 128GB of storage, a notchless 6.39-inch display with a resolution of 2,340 x 1,080 and a 95.06 percent screen-to-body ratio. The sliding display hides the earpiece, proximity sensor, and dual-sensor 16MP+8MP infrared front-facing camera setup and you also get a 16MP+24MP dual-sensor camera on the back of the phone. Lenovo also crammed in a 3,350mAh battery and included an in-display fingerprint sensor. Not bad for 1,998 yuan or roughly $288.

There’s no guarantee that all manufacturers will stop copying Apple and ditch the notch. But now that we have five smartphone manufacturers looking at alternative ways to deliver full-screen displays, the notch will hopefully go down as a short-lived fad that we can hopefully erase from our consciousness.

The Pixel Slate can’t compete with the new iPad Pro

When Google unveiled the Pixel Slate last month, I was quite excited. The new ChromeOS tablet was 7mm thick and weighed a mere 1.6 pounds, making it thinner and lighter than most other 12-inch tablets. While the Pixel Slate wasn’t really positioned as an extreme workhorse or a gaming powerhouse, Google will be offering it with an 8th Gen Intel Core i7, sporting 16GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD. That’s more than enough power to keep up with an intense workday or gaming session, but you’ll I’m not sure too many people will be buying that version since it’s priced at $1599. Most people will opt for the $599 model which is equipped with an 8th Gen Intel Celeron processor, 4GB of RAM and 32GB of storage. The basic model should still be very capable, but nowhere near as powerful.
The Pixel Slate represents the perfect middle ground between an Android tablet and a full-featured Windows device, but with the introduction of the new Apple iPad Pro, it’ll likely go unnoticed. To start, the new 12.9-inch iPad is absolutely gorgeous. Surprisingly, Apple managed to finally shrink down the bezels around the display while still including a front-facing camera and the other sensors needed for Face-ID. On top of that, you get a higher resolution camera on the back that can record 4K video at 60fps (Pixel Slate is limited to 1080p at 30fps), 512GB and 1TB high-capacity storage options (the Slate only goes up to 256GB) and support for Bluetooth 5.0. Naturally, at $999, the base model of the iPad Pro does cost more than the Pixel Slate, but the Apple A12X Bionic chip inside Apple’s tablet is faster than “92% of portable PCs.” While we would never blindly take Apple at its word, new iPad Pro Geekbench scores show that the tablet is just as fast as a 2018 Mac Book Pro running a 2.6 GHz Intel Core i7.
If we look at the number, a 2018 iPad Pro with 256GB of storage which costs $1149 offers the same (if not better) performance as the $1,599 Pixel Slate at a fraction of the cost. Now we all know that Google’s hardware products have never been positioned at being budget-friendly, but I never thought that it would lose to Apple on pricing by a 28% margin.
To be fair, the Pixel Slate’s 48 WHr battery is significantly larger than the 36.71 WHr cell inside the iPad Pro. Google’s tablet also features two USB-C posts and front-facing stereo speakers which should deliver much better audio than Apple’s new tablet and the 16GB of RAM you get with the $1599 Pixel Slate is likely a lot more than what Apple will include in the 2018 iPad Pro. But in my book, the new iPad Pro still has the advantage – mainly because it has a broad selection of apps which have been developed to work flawlessly on its 12.9-inch display. Sure, the Pixel Slate can run thousands of Android apps that can be downloaded through Google Play, but it’s still hard to find more than a few apps which truly take advantage of a larger display. On the other side, you have the iPad Pro which can run the new full version of Adobe Photoshop which can edit a 3GB PSD file without a hitch, Adobe Premier Rush (this one is coming to Android sometime in 2019) and the dozens of music editing apps available for iOS.
Apple has simply built a much better tablet ecosystem than Google.
It’s hard to say how well the Pixel Slate will perform. Google will likely push its new tablet with a huge marketing campaign, positioning it as an alternative to Microsoft’s Surface and Apple’s new iPad. I don’t think the Pixel Slate will be a complete flop, but it’ll definitely look that way when Apple announced millions of iPad Pro sales before the end of the year.