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5 of the best underrated Android phones

By Dane O’Leary

Whether you’re a power user, enthusiast, or a mainstream consumer, there’s a strong chance that the Android phone in your pocket is one of the last couple generations of Samsung, LG, HTC, or Sony flagships. In fact, statistics indicate that there’s more than a one-in-five chance that any smartphone user — whether he or she is using Android, iOS, or Windows Phone — owns a Samsung Android phone. So clearly, the Android smartphone market is dominated by flagships produced by the companies I mentioned above and a small number of others you might expect.

But there’s a new trend we’ve been seeing over the past couple years. We can now find flagship-level quality in mid-range devices. In other words, it’s no longer necessary to spend upward of a thousand dollars to get much of what the Samsung Galaxy S8 has to offer. Companies like Huawei, OnePlus, ZTE, and Lenovorola are leading the charge when it comes to making Android phones we would’ve snubbed just a few short years ago that can actually compete with the industry’s best-selling flagships.

In tribute to those devices that are often overlooked in favor of the big flagships, here are five of the best and most underrated Android phones, as well as what makes them so great.

Vivo V5 Plus — the unsung selfie hero

Every now and then, I like to look up the top OEMs for smartphone sales. At the top of the list, you always see Samsung, followed distantly by Apple. Beyond those two, there are a number of top-selling OEMs that are virtually unknown in the U.S., one of which is Vivo. Only appearing among the top-selling OEMs occasionally, Vivo is arguably most well-known for the Xplay 3S, which was the first smartphone with a 1440p QHD display. While Vivo hasn’t made too many headlines since then, the company still makes great smartphones. Interestingly, many of Vivo’s smartphones focus on one specific feature or set of features. In the case of the Vivo V5 Plus, that would be selfies.

Let’s face it: As painful as they can make browsing our social media feeds, selfies are an important smartphone feature for a lot of people. According to statistics, about 17 million selfies are uploaded to social media each week, and that’s just by millennials between the ages of 18 and 24. And if you’ve ever taken a selfie, you know that it can take dozens of shots before you get the perfect “duck face”, so we can safely assume that far more than 17 million selfies are actually taken. Meanwhile, Google says that more than 24 billion of users’ selfies are uploaded to Google Photos. Let that sink in for a minute.

See also:

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Vivo V5 Plus review

February 9, 2017

With more than 24 billion of selfies uploaded to Google Photos, a top-notch front facing camera clearly meets consumer demand.

For all your selfie aficionados out there, the Vivo V5 Plus is a device you may want to consider. It has 16 MP shooter on the rear, but that’s not where the V5 Plus shines. On the front is a dual-camera setup with a primary sensor at 20 MP and an 8 MP secondary to bring in additional depth-of-field information. In other words, you get incredible sharpness and rich detail due to the primary’s higher-than-average pixel count, and the secondary sensor allows you to achieve that highly-desirable bokeh effect, which is how you get that creamy blurred background behind a subject that’s perfectly in focus.

Aside from the impressive selfie capabilities, the Vivo V5 Plus has an aluminum unibody design that’s more than reminiscent of the iPhone with a 5.5” display, a Hi-Fi audio chip, and Vivo’s own Funtouch 3.0 Android skin. After a quiet launch in January of this year, the V5 Plus is available for around $400, but the cost of importing may drive up that cost considerably since it’s not officially available in the US at this time. It may not be worth the trouble with its slightly unimpressive specs, but in the hands of someone with selfie addiction, the Vivo V5 Plus is priceless.

Xiaomi Mi Note 2 — where power, design, and shamelessness converge

Notice how both the front and back glass curve to meet the aluminum chassis in perfect symmetry, how there’s a complete absence of side bezels, how the only materials present in the construction of the device is glass with a bit of metal. Xiaomi’s phablet is more than just reminiscent of another company’s design language; before you even hold it in your hand, Xiaomi’s Mi Note 2 is sure to trigger a sense of déjà vu, evoking memories of the brief time we spent with the late Samsung Galaxy Note7. Were it not for the Note7’s tragically short lifespan, we surely would’ve seen the Mi Note 2 as just another Asian clone. As it stands, the Mi Note 2 is as overlooked as it is impressive, and (at least for the time being) it happens to also be the best way to fill that Note7-shaped hole in our hearts.

Fortunately, the Mi Note 2’s resemblance to the Note7 is more than just skin deep. Unfortunately, Xiaomi opted for a 5.5-inch 1080p FHD OLED rather than going QHD like the Note7, but the Mi Note 2 runs on a Snapdragon 821 CPU, Adreno 530 GPU, 6 GB of RAM, and 128 GB of built-in storage. Our own benchmarks show the Mi Note 2 as an outstanding performer, meaning that the power users among us should have no issues running the latest apps and games. …read more

Source:: android authority

    

Deal: Get the Asus ZenFone Zoom and a 10,050 mAh power bank for $179.99 at B&H (was $250)

By Mitja Rutnik

If you’re looking for a camera-centric smartphone, you might want to consider checking out the deal B&H is currently offering. The retailer is selling the Asus ZenFone Zoom for $179.99. The device has a list price of $349.99 which is a little bit inflated, as it retails for around $250 on average. It is unlocked and comes in black.

To sweeten the deal, B&H is also giving out a free Asus ZenPower battery pack with a capacity of 10,050 mAh to customers who buy the ZenFone Zoom. The power bank normally retails for $24.99 and can be yours in either the silver or blue color option.

See also:

Tango powered Asus ZenFone AR is coming to the United States, via Verizon

1 week ago

The Asus ZenFone Zoom went on sale in the US back in February 2016 for $399. As a refresher, it has a 5.5-inch Full HD display and is powered by the Intel Atom Z3590 processor. Its biggest feature is definitely the primary camera, which has a 13 MP sensor, 3x optical zoom, optical image stabilization, dual-LED flash, and laser autofocus. There’s also a selfie snapper on board with a 5 MP sensor.

The smartphone has 4 GB of RAM and 32 GB of storage that can be expanded with a microSD card (up to 256 GB). It sports a 3,000 mAh battery and ships with Android 5.0 Lollipop on board, which you can upgrade to Marshmallow.

If you want to get the deal, you’ll have to move fast. It expires today, May 26, at 8:15 pm (EDT). Those of you interested can visit B&H’s sales page by clicking the button below.

…read more

Source:: android authority

    

Samsung Galaxy J5 2017 and J7 2017 features confirmed in Russian user manual

By Scott Adam Gordon

We’ve seen a number of rumors regarding the proposed Samsung Galaxy J5 2017 and J7 2017 in recent weeks, including a detailed specs leak. Now, Romanian Android site AndroidU.ro has got its hands on a Russian Samsung manual for the J5 2017 and J7 2017, confirming further details about the handsets.

The manual concerns models J5530FM (J5 2017) and SM-J730F / DS (J7 2017), and while it’s written mostly in Russian, the images reveal that the devices will make use of a combined physical home button/fingerprint sensor and include NFC capabilities. The documentation also verifies microSD card compatibility and the presence of a 3.5 mm headphone jack, which is placed on the bottom of the unit. It appears you’ll find micro-USB connectivity, rather than USB type-C, there too.

See also:

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Bizarre Samsung patent shows smartwatch with camera in center of display

1 day ago

What’s more, the document filename mentions Nougat and references to Android Nougat features like multi-window appear throughout. It’s pretty safe to assume it will be running Android 7.0, then.

Meanwhile, the images seemingly confirm the leaked pictures of the J5 2017 and J7 2017 that we recently came across — which could also mean that the indicated specs are accurate.

When these handsets will be released still remains a mystery, but with the leaks now arriving thicker and faster, it has to be soon.

…read more

Source:: android authority

    

Kyocera’s rugged DuraForce PRO arrives on T-Mobile

By Evan Selleck

The rugged DuraForce PRO with Kyocera branding has finally arrived on T-Mobile‘s network. The handset launched on AT&T and Sprint’s networks late last year, and arrived on Verizon earlier this year.

Nothing has changed in the specs department when it comes to the Un-carrier launch. The DuraForce PRO features a 5-inch 1080p HD display, an octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 617 processor, and 3GB of RAM. There is 32GB of built-in storage and a microSD card slot to expand upon it. The battery measures in at 3240mAh, and the DuraForce PRO features wireless charging, too.

Two of the major takeaways are the rear Super Wide View HD action camera as well as the T-Mobile-exclusive Action Overlay mode while recording a video. With this latter feature, owners can record video and include a heads-up display that will show interesting details like g-force, a date stamp, time elapsed, and altitude.

There’s also 13-megapixel camera on the back and a 5-megapixel front-facing shooter on the other side. The DuraForce PRO is IP68-rated for dust and water resistance and it reaches Military Standard 810G, which means the handset can survive sudden extreme conditions, including shock, temperatures, salt fog, freezing rain, and even solar radiation, among other elements.

The DuraForce PRO for T-Mobile is available now and it’s priced at $17 down and $17 per month for 24 months, for a total of $425.

…read more

Source:: androidandme

    

Nova Launcher beta adds Android O-like notification dots and rounded search bar

By Scott Adam Gordon

Nova Launcher, one of the most popular launchers on Android, introduced dynamic notifications earlier this month. This provides a quick look at missed notifications direct from the app icons. In the latest beta update, Nova Launcher has now added an option for notifications badges similar to those offered in Android O.

The feature, known on Nova simply as Dots, was announced yesterday on the Nova Launcher beta Google+ community page. The functionality will allow you to see the number of notifications you have waiting in a particular app in the same format as can be found in the latest stock Android preview build.

See also:

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Update: Nova Launcher gets dynamic notification badges with stable update

3 weeks ago

However, unlike the Android O version, it’s not yet possible to tap-and-hold the app icon to open it up for a deeper look at what’s happening. On the Google+ community page, developer Cliff Wade said that feature hadn’t been “yet”, which suggests that it could be on its way in the future. Right now, this is just another way to visualize your notifications outside of the status bar.

Meanwhile, the latest Nova update includes a new round search bar style (instead of the more traditional square one) and other performance improvements.

You can sign up to become a Nova Launcher beta tester here to check out the latest improvements, or download the standard version at the link below.

…read more

Source:: android authority

    

Xiaomi sold more than 3 million Mi Max smartphones so far

By Mitja Rutnik

Xiaomi took the wraps off the Mi Max 2 yesterday. During the reveal, the company also shared the latest sales numbers of its predecessor.

The Mi Max, which was released in May 2016, has proven to be quite popular among consumer. The Chinese manufacturer has managed to sell more than three million units of the device so far. What’s interesting is that half of them (1.5 million) were sold in the first two months since the smartphone was released.

Xiaomi hopes that its successor will be even more popular. The Xiaomi Mi Max 2 falls into the phablet category thanks to its 6.44-inch Full HD display. It features a massive 5,300 mAh battery that you can get up to 68 percent in one hour of charging.

See also:

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Xiaomi makes push into North American market via Mexico

2 weeks ago

You’ll find the Snapdragon 625 chipset under the hood along with 4 GB of RAM. It comes with either 64 or 128 GB of expandable storage and is equipped with a 12 MP primary camera. It also sports a selfie snapper that has a 5 MP sensor, a fingerprint scanner, and an IR blaster. The Mi Max 2 runs Android Nougat with Xiaomi’s MIUI 8 user interface on top.

The 64 GB version of the device will set you back 1,699 yuan (around $245), while the 128 GB variant can be yours for 1,999 yuan (around $290).

Do you think that the Xiaomi Mi Max 2 will outsell its predecessor? Let us know down below.

…read more

Source:: android authority

    

OnePlus 3T to remain available in India until “later this year”

By Mitja Rutnik

Yesterday, OnePlus announced that those who want to get their hands on the 3T have to move fast. The smartphone is running out of stock and won’t be available for purchase starting in June.

However, it looks like the OnePlus 3T will only get discontinued in North America, Europe, and Hong Kong. The company has recently said that the smartphone will still be available in India until “later this year.” You’ll be able to get both the 64 GB and 128 GB versions of the device from all three official sales channels: OnePlus’ online store, Amazon India, and the OnePlus Experience Store in Bangalore.

OnePlus will discontinue its flagship device because it’s gearing up to announce its successor. The OnePlus 5 is expected to be officially revealed sometime this summer, probably at the end of June or in July.

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OnePlus teamed up with the creators of DxOMark for the OnePlus 5 camera

1 week ago

The reason as to why the 3T will remain available in India probably has to do with the price. The OnePlus 5 is expected to be more expensive than its predecessor and the company wants to make sure it also has a more affordable option available for consumers.

Price is one of the most important factors that influences consumers’ purchasing decisions in the country. OnePlus wants to make sure its sales in India don’t decrease because of the higher price tag of its upcoming flagship. It sounds like a good strategy on paper and will probably work, especially if the OnePlus 3T gets a price cut as soon as the new model is announced.

Would you consider buying the OnePlus 5 if it will be more expensive than its predecessor? Share your thoughts with us in the comment section below.

…read more

Source:: android authority

    

Deal: Verizon LG G6 can be yours for just $288 at Best Buy ($384 off)

By Mitja Rutnik

We have come across a great deal on the LG G6 over at Best Buy. The retailer is selling the flagship smartphone for just $287.76. Some conditions do apply though, as the offer is only available for the Verizon variant of the device. You’ll also have to pay it off over the course of two years — $11.99 per month.

Best Buy normally sells the LG G6 for $672 or $28 per month, which means that you’ll save exactly $384.24 if you get the deal. The smartphone is available in the Black or Platinum color option.

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Weekly Plan Spotlight: LG G6 50% off from Sprint

3 days ago

LG officially took the wraps of the G6 at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona in February. The high-end device features a 5.7-inch QHD+ display with 18:9 aspect ratio and minimal bezels. You’ll find the Snapdragon 821 chipset under the hood along with 4 GB of RAM. There’s 32 GB of storage available that you can expand for an additional 256 GB with the help of a microSD card.

The smartphone comes equipped with two 13 MP cameras on the back and a selfie snapper that has a 5 MP sensor. Then there’s the 3,300 mAh battery, a fingerprint scanner, and Android 7.0 Nougat. To learn more about it, feel free to check out our review of the LG G6.

Unfortunately, there’s no word on how long the deal will last for. If you want to get it, visit the retailer’s website by clicking the button below.

…read more

Source:: android authority

    

Huawei reveals Nova 2 and Nova 2 Plus with dual rear cameras and 20 MP front camera

By Scott Adam Gordon

Huawei has just announced the Nova 2 (below) and Nova 2 Plus (above) at an event in China. Huawei confirmed last week that the handsets would be unveiled soon, and now we’ve got all the details.

Sequels to the original Nova and Nova Plus from 2016, the new devices once again come in metal unibodies with almost identical specs: the major differences between them lie in the display size and the battery, with the Plus model having the larger of both.

While last year’s phones were something of a letdown in the camera department, it looks like Huawei has aimed to address this on the successors, providing dual 12 MP + 8 MP rear cameras and 20 MP selfie cameras on both devices. If nothing else, these phones should deliver in the photography department: check out the core specs below.

Huawei Nova 2 specs

  • Display: 5-inch, Full-HD (1920 x 1080 pixels) LTPS 2.5D display
  • Processor: octa-core Snapdragon 625 processor with MaliT830-MP2 GPU
  • Memory: 4 GB of RAM and 64 GB of internal storage space, expandable up to 128 GB via microSD
  • Cameras: 12 MP + 8 MP rear camera with LED flash, 1.25μm pixel size, PFAF, f/1.8 aperture. 20 MP front-facing camera
  • Battery: 2,950 mAh battery
  • SIM: Hybrid Dual SIM (nano + nano/microSD)
  • Software: Android 7.0 Nougat with EMUI 5.1
  • Sound: AK4376A Hi-Fi audio chip, 3D surround sound, 3.5 mm headphone jack:
  • Fingerprint sensor: Yes
  • Dimensions: 142.2 x 68.9 x 6.9 mm
  • Weight: 143 g
  • Connectivity: 4G LTE, Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.2, GPS / GLONASS, USB Type-C

Huawei Nova 2 Plus specs

  • Display: 5.5-inch, Full-HD (1920 x 1080 pixels) LTPS 2.5D display
  • Processor: octa-core Snapdragon 625 processor with MaliT830-MP2 GPU
  • Memory: 4 GB of RAM and 128 GB of internal storage space, expandable up to 128 GB via microSD
  • Cameras: 12 MP + 8 MP rear camera with LED flash, 1.25μm pixel size, PFAF, f/1.8 aperture. 20 MP front-facing camera
  • Battery: 3,340 mAh battery
  • SIM: Hybrid Dual SIM (nano + nano/microSD)
  • Software: Android 7.0 Nougat with EMUI 5.1
  • Sound: AK4376 audio chip, 3.5 mm headphone jack
  • Fingerprint sensor: Yes
  • Dimensions: 153.9 x 74.9 x 6.9 mm
  • Weight: 169 g
  • Connectivity: 4G LTE, Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.2, GPS / GLONASS, USB Type-C

The Nova 2 and Nova 2 Plus will be available in blue, green, gold, black and rose gold color variants, with the prices set at 2499 yuan (around $365) for the Nova 2 and 2899 yuan (around $423) for the Nova 2 Plus (note that the Nova 2 Plus model also comes with an extra 64 GB of internal storage space).

They’re up for pre-order now and will go on sale in China on June 16 but we don’t have any further availability details just yet. We reached out to Huawei regarding the matter and a spokesperson told us it had nothing to share right now but hoped to have more info soon.

What are your thoughts on the Nova 2 and Nova 2 Plus? Let us know in the comments.

…read more

Source:: android authority

    

LG Nexus 5X bootloop lawsuit dropped by one law firm

By Mitja Rutnik

LG has gotten itself into some legal trouble because of the bootloop issues Nexus 5X users have been experiencing. Fortunately for the company, one of the lawsuits has now been dropped. Chimicles & Tikellis LLP, the law firm that took LG to court, has filed a notice of voluntary dismissal of the case at the beginning of the month.

The law firm claims that it dropped the case because LG has decided to extend the warranty for some customers, is willing to repair affected devices and offer refunds in certain cases.

See also:

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Android 7.1.2 adds pull-down notification fingerprint gesture to Nexus 5X

February 2, 2017

However, it is worth pointing out that Chimicles & Tikellis LLP isn’t the only law firm that took LG to court. Girard Gibbs LLP is also suing the company over the Nexus 5X bootloop issue and, at least for now, the case is still open. LG just might ink the same deal with the law firm as it did with Chimicles & Tikellis LLP, although this hasn’t been confirmed yet.

Read: What’s going on with LG and those bootloops?

Do you own a Nexus 5X? Have you experienced any problems with the smartphone? Let us know by posting a comment down below.

…read more

Source:: android authority