Many hybrid watches only resemble classic timepieces on a superficial level. If you want a watch with a true mechanical movement, you have to forego modern conveniences. Ressence wants to fix that with its newly unveiled Type 2 e-Crown Concept. The watch, designed with the help of Nest co-founder Tony Fadell, only requires conventional setup when you initially set the time. From then on, a paired iPhone app can automatically set the watch to one of two time zones using its namesake e-Crown. If the power reserve runs out or Daylight Savings Time kicks in, you don’t have to use the old-fashioned setting mechanism unless you want to — you just have to tap on the watch face.
The design uses both kinetic and solar power to keep running, and it’ll even automatically open shutters to reveal the solar cells when the battery runs below 50 percent.
You can’t buy this exact watch. As the “concept” name indicates, it’s a technology demonstrator. Ressence does plan a production version of the Type 2 later in 2018, though. And this could represent the future of mechanical watches for the industry at large. Purists may insist on manually winding their watches (and they still can), but these digital elements could make mechanicals more accessible to a generation that has grown up with smartphones. They can enjoy the automatic timekeeping of a smartwatch without having to accept the battery life and style sacrifices that frequently come along for the ride.
I’ve been lugging around a DSLR ever since I conned my parents into buying me a Minolta Maxxum 5D in 2006, and let me tell you, that didn’t win me any popularity points back in high school — even if all my friends ended up with amazing MySpace profile pics.
Things are different now. In the strange days between film and digital, nobody was expected to produce quality photography. Now a staggering number of kids want to become YouTubers, and the line between professional and amateur photographers has blurred beyond the point of recognition. But what I know is that for many, a high-end smartphone is a much more sensible purchase than a dedicated camera, no matter what kind of art you’re trying to create.
These things are tools, so this comparison is designed to help you pick the right tool for the job. I’m going to compare the iPhone X, the Pixel 2, the Galaxy Note 8 and the Huawei Mate 10 Pro. I’ve tested these devices in scenarios that are particularly tricky for smartphone cameras and their small sensors: scenes with high contrast, backlighting or substantial vibration.
But before we get into the tests, let’s look at what we’re working with.
Native 24fps video
Mate 10 Pro
Scene one: Williamsburg Ferry
This scene tests: dynamic range, color, sharpness
Mate 10 Pro
The iPhone X and the Pixel 2 did the best in this scene. The iPhone provided a true-to-life rendition of the scene, whereas the Pixel 2 photo looks somewhat artificial. The Pixel 2, though, provided great detail and exposure without noise or sharpening artifacts. Both the Mate 10 Pro and the Galaxy Note 8 crunched the blacks, leaving little detail in the shadows, and the Mate 10 Pro’s aggressive sharpening left artifacts in the water.
Scene two: backlit architecture
This scene tests: detail, dynamic range
Mate 10 Pro
The Pixel 2 and the iPhone X captured nice colors and kept noise to a minimum in all but the most extreme areas. The Pixel 2, however, rendered so much more detail in the architecture — but once again the results look noticeably artificial. The Note 8 did not fare well here; it’s by far the worst in what should have been plenty of light. It’s underexposed, there are artifacts in the shadows and I would even say there’s some noticeable lens distortion. The Mate 10 is fine, but its 20-megapixel sensor didn’t seem to provide any more detail than the Note 8’s 12MP module.
Scene three: low-light bar scene
This scene tests: noise, low-light color, detail
Mate 10 Pro
It’s difficult to pick a winner here, and it may come down to taste. The Mate 10 Pro looks the most detailed and the Pixel 2 has a pleasant look overall, but the iPhone X didn’t render details or color well and the Note 8 looks bad. I would go with the Pixel 2, because unlike the Mate 10 Pro, it achieves its look without artifacting. That being said, it’s great to see an example of the Mate 10 Pro’s dual-camera system providing real-world benefits.
Scene four: selfies
This scene tests: skin tones, detail
Mate 10 Pro
The Pixel 2 blows everything else out of the water in terms of selfies. The iPhone X comes in a close second and has the added benefit of not making me look 10 years older than I am. There is one important caveat here: The Note 8 (and the Galaxy S8 / S8+) have real focusing mechanisms, whereas most selfie cameras are fixed focus. It’s subtle, but because the Note 8 can actually focus on my face, the background is every so slightly blurred. Please, smartphone makers, use a focusing mechanism on the front-facing camera!
Scene five: synthetic bokeh
All four of these devices include some kind of synthetic bokeh mode that blurs the background around the subject, reminiscent of a DSLR with a wide aperture lens. Sometimes these work well, and in some scenarios they fail pretty bad. The scenes shown here are essentially torture tests: I picked objects with challenging geometry that would show how well these synthetic bokeh modes perform in a worst-case scenario.
Before I go on, there’s one piece of essential vocabulary we need to define: the mask. A mask in this context is essentially the outline of the subject, where everything outside the line is blurred. Each device uses different techniques to create the mask: The iPhone X and the Note 8 use dual cameras to size up the subject, the Pixel 2 uses dual sub-pixels and the Mate 10 Pro’s technique lives somewhere in software.
As you can see in the astronaut-image set, the iPhone X has two errors in its mask: the one on the helmet and the one under the astronaut’s right arm. The rest of the mask is pretty good. In the polygonal-sculpture image set the iPhone X almost makes it, but there are several parts of the mask with issues. As for the hardest test, the plant, the iPhone completely falls down.
Mate 10 Pro
The Mate 10 Pro surprised me with its Wide Aperture Mode; it’s not flawless by any means, but overall the effect looks pretty good. In the astronaut-image set, for example, the mask is well defined except for the area underneath the arm, and at smaller viewing sizes you might not notice this. In the polygonal-sculpture test there are, again, small errors in the mask, but they don’t ruin the image. However, when we get to the plant, the Mate 10 Pro can’t track all the tendrils.
Both the Note 8 and the iPhone X zoom in quite a bit to achieve their synthetic bokeh effect, and that makes any issues with the mask all the more pronounced. With the astronaut, however, we see much better results than with the iPhone X — even the area under the arm is properly blurred! Unfortunately things go downhill with the polygonal sculpture, though the issue isn’t with the blurring mask — it’s with the exposure. I think this is because I was throwing off the exposure by tapping on a black object, but the algorithm should be able to handle that.
Now, at first glance it looks like the Note 8 completely blew it with the plant, but that’s not entirely the case. If you look closely, you can see that the Note 8 is able to isolate the tendrils in the mask, but in the places where the tendrils overlap with the edges of the tables or light furniture in the background, it loses track. Ultimately, the Note 8 failed this test, but it did better than the iPhone X or the Mate 10 Pro.
The Pixel 2 handles the astronaut scene better than the competition. The area under the arm is blurred, though I will say that there are small errors in the mask around the edges. At smaller viewing sizes, however, the Pixel 2 wins here. The polygonal sculpture is also the best out of the four with proper exposure and a good mask around the edges. With the plant we see the same problems as the Note 8, where the mask algorithm loses track of the tendrils as they overlap with a visually similar background. That being said, I think the areas around the tendrils (the ones that aren’t glitched out) look better than the same areas on the Note 8.
As long as you stick with simple images of people in good light, the iPhone X will do alright, but I was surprised by how well the Mate 10 Pro and the Galaxy Note 8 performed. The Pixel 2 particularly stood out though; its ability to both capture a pleasing image in its synthetic bokeh mode and its ability to isolate complicated subjects make it the clear winner.
There’s a lot to talk about when it comes to video on smartphones. Should you shoot in 4K? Is electronic image stabilization, or EIS, more important than optical image stabilization, or OIS? What is HEVC or H265? For the sake of this piece, however, we’re going to focus on the basics: Which phones have the best noise control, and which have the best stabilization?
Noise in 4K
In this test I cycle a set of lights on and off so that we can see how much noise each device renders at varying light levels. There’s a light meter at the bottom of the scene, and this allows us to compare noise levels at approximately the same light level. What is a lux, you ask? It’s a measure of light in a given area, so one lux is one lumen per square meter. And what is a lumen? It’s the amount of light given off by a candle. Listen, I don’t make the rules — I’m just measuring light.
At extremely low light levels (six lux and 40 lux) I am sort of baffled by how well the Mate 10 Pro performs. Sure, it has all kinds of artifacts, but it looks pretty darn good, especially when you compare it to the Note 8, which also has artifacts but looks terrible at these light levels. One thing I am noticing is that at six and 40 lux, the iPhone X is willing to let the scene be dark (which it is) whereas the Pixel 2 is sort of desperately trying to elevate the exposure of the black backdrop, which makes the noise noticeable.
The Mate 10 Pro starts to look decent at 40 lux, which, again, is incredible. The iPhone X, Note 8, and Pixel 2 need more than 540 lux to quell obvious noise.
Here we test the video stabilization of all four devices at the maximum common resolution: 4K at 30 frames per second. I was walking naturally without trying to stabilize with my feet.
The Pixel 2 is the most stable, but the iPhone X does well too. Despite the Mate 10 Pro’s great low-light video performance, it doesn’t produce stable video. The Note 8 is a curious case, because it does stabilize well, but the video has an aggressive jelly effect that’s disconcerting to look at. This goes away at 1080p (as you can see in the video below), but the iPhone X and the Pixel 2 are able to stabilize 4K video without this effect. You can see a similar stabilization test in 1080p below.
You don’t have to the use the front-facing camera to vlog with your phone, but you’ll probably want to. Here we test the stabilization of the front-facing cameras. Why does my face look like that? I’m holding the camera rig as far away from my body as possible.
One thing you’ll probably notice right away is that the Mate 10 Pro and the Note 8 are very zoomed in, and that’s because they’re using electronic image stabilization, which crops the image in and moves it around to compensate for motion. That being said, the Pixel 2 and the iPhone X are doing this too but without an uncomfortably close mustache inspection, making them the winners.
The Mate 10 Pro managed to surprise me. I think Huawei should ease up on the punchyness of the camera tuning, but the low-light photography, low-light video and portrait mode are awfully good in the right conditions. The Note 8 also surprised me, but with noisy low-light images and video as well as that jellylike video stabilization.
So which smartphone has the best camera? I feel confident giving that honor to the Pixel 2, but as we’ve seen, each device has pros and cons. The iPhone X, for example, is the only device that offers a native 24fps 4K video option, which is important if you want to mix it with footage from other cameras. But the Pixel 2’s HDR still images, unmatched selfie camera, stable video and surprisingly good portrait mode put it ahead of the competition.
You just realized that your phone is low on juice, and panic sets in. How much charge can you get in a limited amount of time? We tested 10 of the top flagship phones and found that the OnePlus 5T is the fastest in the land.
The good news is that most of the premium Android phones these days offer some form of quick charging via their USB-C adapters. In the case of the latest iPhones, you can get fast charging, but only if you pay extra for both a 29-watt power adapter and a USB-C-to-Lightning cable (about $ 68 total). Yes, I’m serious.
For our first round of testing, we wanted to find what battery percentage these phones could reach in 30 minutes of charging with their included adapters. The phones were on, but the screens were turned off. With the iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus and iPhone X, we used both the standard AC plug and the fast-charging gear to bring you both sets of results.
The OnePlus 5T led the pack, reaching an impressive 59 percent in 30 minutes. The advantage for the OnePlus? Unlike most other Android phones, it doesn’t use Qualcomm’s QuickCharge technology. Instead, it employs the proprietary Dash Charge, which delivers higher amperage than QuickCharge and uses dedicated circuitry in the charger itself for heat management. (Android Central has a great explainer on how Dash Charge works.)
MORE: Smartphones with the Longest Battery Life
The next-best phone in the first round of our testing was the LG V30, at 53 percent. The iPhone X, iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus were all close behind, at 50 percent, 49 percent and 47 percent, respectively, when we used the fast-charging gear Apple sells separately.
Flagship phone battery capacity and battery life compared
Google Pixel 2 XL
Galaxy Note 8
Google Pixel 2
iPhone 8 Plus
* Based on Tom’s Guide web surfing battery test over LTE
However, it’s important to note that these iPhones charge slower than the rest of the field even with their included adapters. For instance, the iPhone X hit only 17 percent after 30 minutes.
Among other phones, the Galaxy Note 8, S8 and S8+ were all in the same ballpark, at 35 to 38 percent, and the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL had comparable results.
So how about after an hour? The OnePlus 5T once again took the prize, reaching 93 percent in 60 minutes. The LG V30 snagged second place, at 86 percent, and the latest iPhones all vied for third place, though the iPhone X had the most capacity, at 81 percent. And, yes, you could argue that you need to cheat to hit these numbers with the iPhone, because you have to buy extra gear.
Overall, if filling up your phone fast is a top priority, the OnePlus 5T is the champ. And at $ 499, it’s also the most affordable phone you can get that comes with flagship-level specs and performance.
When LG took the wraps off of the LG V30 at IFA last week, it spent nearly 20 of its 50-minute presentation talking about the phone’s dual camera system. Juno Cho, President of Mobile Communications, rattled off statistics like “almost 80 percent of smartphone users use their smartphone at least once a week to shoot videos.” He also said that “we are literally on the verge of transitioning from storytelling to storyshowing,” which is almost as crazy as Samsung’s new catchphrase: “Your New Normal.” I digress.
Cho is on to something: YouTube, Snapchat and Instagram are proof that amatuer video is massively popular. Having spotted this trend, LG is positioning the V30 as the ideal tool for anyone trying to break into making video. I decided to put LG’s claim to the test and spent some time using the V30 to snap stories for Instagram and Snapchat, plus I took plenty of regular videos with the (amazing) built-in camera app.
Unfortunately the Android versions of Instagram and Snapchat are so bad that I couldn’t see much of a difference between the blotchy stories that were shot on my Xperia X Compact (bad camera) and the blotchy stories shot on the V30 (good camera), so that was out. Instead I decided to narrow my focus to the following three questions: Can you use the V30 to make YouTube videos? Is the V30 a reasonable substitute for a dedicated camera? And is the V30 the best smartphone for making video?
Can you use the V30 to make YouTube videos?
Can you use the V30 to vlog? Can you use the V30 to make YouTube videos even if you’re not vlogging? Yes. This seems like a simple question, and it is: You can use almost any camera to make videos for YouTube, but unfortunately “camera” and “Android phone” are not always compatible. I got the bright idea to vlog with the HTC 10 last year because of that front-facing camera with image stabilization, but HTC’s default app (at the time) allowed videos to dip below 24 frames per second (fps) in low light, and that just looks terrible. It’s fine if a video is dark; it’s not fine if it looks like a simulated drug trip.
The V30s wide-angle lens is perfect for vlogging.
Is the V30 a reasonable substitute for a dedicated camera?
Luckily my experience with the HTC 10 was not repeated with the V30. In fact, the V30 is the closest thing I’ve seen to a smartphone behaving like a real camera to date. Not only does LG give you control over the really important stuff like white balance and ISO, it also gives you control of shutter speed in video (!) and three options for bitrate (!!!). If you’re someone who knows cameras and has ever tried to use one of the faux manual video apps on many smartphones, this is like being handed a cool glass of water in hell.
And with a couple of exceptions the V30’s camera app does exactly what it says it’s doing, and, this is what I consider necessary for a smartphone to replace a dedicated camera. Not sensor or aperture size or anything like that. The camera has to do what I tell it to do and it has to work all of the time. Then it can replace my real camera.
LG’s manual camera app gives almost total control over video recording.
Despite what LG says on stage, the V30 can’t match cameras with DSLR-sized sensors, if we’re being realistic. A tiny sensor will never produce the bokeh or sensitivity of a sensor of nearly three times the size. But LG gave us something new with the V30: LG-Cine Log. B&H has a lengthy explanation of Log (short for logarithmic) recording, but in a nutshell this mode gives you flat, unsharpened video that’s much better for editing in programs like Premiere and Final Cut. Smartphones may not have the resolving power of larger cameras, but gaining full control over the recording makes the concession far more palatable.
I won’t dwell on Log recording because it is somewhat technical, but one thing is worth noting—and it’s not even clear that LG has this in mind—but for the first time you’ll be able to download and share color profiles with other people in the form of lookup tables or LUTs. Plenty of communities exist for trading and selling LUTs for Sony and Panasonic cameras, and maybe there’s a better colorist out there than the engineers at LG. I look forward to spending $ 15 on their V30 LUT package on Gumroad.
Smartphones may not have the resolving power of larger cameras, but gaining full control over the recording makes the concession far more palatable.
But of course, nothing’s perfect and neither is the V30. I should disclaim that we’re using pre-production V30s and the camera firmware and software isn’t final. That being said, I did find a couple of strange behaviors with the V30 camera. First, when you plug in an external microphone, the app doesn’t automatically record with it. Instead you have to tap on the microphone icon and set it to record from the headset mic. This is unlike any camera or smartphone I’ve ever used, so this behavior is a bit head-scratcher. Second, something is wrong with 1080p video from the wide angle camera. Again, this is a pre-production model, but the 1080p video from the wide angle camera looks someone set the sharpening and noise reduction to 100 and called it a day.
Is the V30 the best smartphone for making video?
The iPhone 7 Plus and the recently announced Galaxy Note 8 also have dual camera systems, and both take very good video, but their telephoto lenses aren’t a perfect match for what people want to create on YouTube. The tight shots that the telephoto lenses provide are great for interviews and documentary style video, but those aren’t the prevailing formats on YouTube right now. The V30’s combination of wide angle and normal lens open up more popular YouTube formats like vlogging, extreme sports videos, skate videos, and several more. And while the upcoming iPhone announcement could change a lot, the current iPhone 7 series lacks a headphone jack, making it an ordeal to charge and use an external microphone at the same time.
Otherwise it comes down to taste. Video taken on the iPhone, in my opinion, has best-in-class coloring. Samsung’s coloring is fine but looks weird and is hard to post-process because it’s already been pushed pretty far. Not only does the V30 offer Log video that allows you to choose your coloring later, I also think the colors coming out of regular video are very nice.
So can the V30 cut it as your primary video making device? The answer is absolutely yes. Thanks to its versatile dual-camera system the V30 is capable of getting lots of different shots. The camera app itself and the manual video mode within it make the V30 worth considering by itself, and nice perks like the headphone jack and waterproofing set it above devices like the iPhone and the OnePlus 5. Samsung’s “Do What You Can’t” campaign is clearly in love with the idea of empowering content creators, but LG has actually come to the table with the tools content creators need.
Sprint has revealed yet another two new programs in an effort to lure subscribers away from other carriers. Back in June, it introduced a promo offering other carriers’ customers a year of free data. Now, it has launched Sprint Flex and Sprint Deals, which it describes as the “simplest and most flexible device financing program.” Flex is for customers who want to lease phones before they commit to purchasing them — they can choose to turn in their devices and upgrade to a new one in either 12 or 18 months.
Those who choose to upgrade in 12 months can avail themselves of iPhone Forever or Galaxy Forever at no additional monthly charge, giving them the chance to switch to the newest Apple or Samsung flagship every year. But those who wait until 18 months to decide can also opt to keep paying for six more months to officially own the phone or to pay for the whole amount in one go.
Sprint Deals, the carrier’s other new program, gives new customers the chance to get a line even without a credit check. Those who do get a credit check can lease a low-end to mid-range phone for $ 5 to $ 10 a month. On the other hand, those who don’t can get a subscription under Sprint Forward’s pay-in-advance plans. They need to pay for their phones in advance, as well, but they’ll at least get 25 to 50 percent off the devices’ retail price.
Sprint has likely been cooking up more and more promotions, since it hasn’t been growing as much as it would like these past few years. T-Mobile even eclipsed its customer number under John Legere’s leadership. According to reports that surfaced in May, the two carriers are talking about a merger again, except this time, Sprint might have to be the one to surrender the wheel.
Chinese phonemaker Oukitel is releasing a new Android phone June, according to The Verge and Android Headlines, and its slogan is apparently “To be the king.” You’ll be hard-pressed to recognize the device as “the king” when you see its specs. However, it does have one impressive feature: a 10,000 mAh battery that only takes three hours to charge, just like Oukitel’s $ 240 K10000 smartphone launched a couple of years ago. In fact, this one’s its direct successor called the K10000 Pro. The company showed the phone off at MWC this year, but it hasn’t officially announced its details and availability yet. We can probably expect to hear something similar to the 10 to 15 days per charge claim it made when it revealed the K10000, though.
One of the biggest issues with smartphones today is that manufacturers tend to load them with all sorts of features without giving their battery life the proper boost it needs. That why compared to most smartphone’s batteries today, 10,000 mAh is massive. Even Asus ZenFone Max only has 5,000 mAh. Google’s Pixel XL has a 3,450mAh battery, while Samsung’s Galaxy S8 Plus has 3,500 mAh. The downside is that the K10000 weighed a ton. This one is reportedly lighter at 292.5 grams, but it’s still much heavier than, say, the iPhone 7 Plus, which weighs 188 grams. Whether it can actually last 10 to 15 days is another story, but it’s worth noting Android Headlines got 24 hours of on-screen time out of it at MWC.
Despite its enormous power source, the K10000 Pro is far from the ideal phone we’ve all been dreaming of. According to The Verge and The Hans India it will sport a 5.5-inch 1080p Gorilla Glass display, 3GB of RAM, 32GB of storage and will be powered by a MediaTek octa-core 1.5Ghz processor. It’s definitely no tech titan flagship material. If you think it’s the perfect phone for camping trips, though, keep an eye out for Oukitel’s announcement.
Source: The Verge, The Hans India, Android Headlines
In the interest of full disclosure, I’ll admit my bias right up front: I have never liked Samsung’s smartphones. The Galaxy and Note series have both been wildly successful — so much so that they basically cemented Samsung’s status as Apple’s equal in the smartphone war, at least here in the US. But the cheap plastic design and overwrought software found in early Galaxy devices turned me off, to the point that I thought I’d never take their phones seriously.
When a few colleagues started talking up the Galaxy S8 after an early preview, I remained skeptical. Yes, the company had been taking big steps forward in industrial design over the past two years, but I just couldn’t imagine how something with screens this large could be comfortable. (We all remember the tragedy that was the massive Nexus 6.)
How wrong I was.
Ever since Samsung first unveiled the Galaxy S8 late in March, I’ve had to eat my words. At first, a phone with a tall, 18.5:9 aspect ratio seemed to be a strange design decision, but it was the right one. Despite its massive screen size, the S8 is basically the same width as phones with much smaller displays. Keeping the S8 relatively narrow was probably the most important design decision Samsung made. The S8 measures 68.1mm wide, a scant 1mm wider than the iPhone 7. This size makes using the S8 with one hand absolutely a reasonable prospect, something I didn’t imagine when hearing about a device with a 5.8-inch screen. It’s something you really need to hold to appreciate.
I can’t overstate how that completely changed my view on the S8. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still a Large Phone and not everyone will be able to use it comfortably in one hand. The tall aspect ratio also makes reaching UI elements at the top of the display challenging, for sure — getting to the notification pane is trickier than I’d like. But all told, it’s far more useable than I ever expected. (The S8 Plus manages a similar trick, packing a larger screen into a frame that’s basically the same size as the iPhone 7 Plus. It’s not a one-hand device, but it’s still much smaller than it has any right to be.)
Indeed, it’s not just useable — it’s downright enjoyable, more so than any other phone I’ve tried with such a massive screen. There will be some growing pains as app developers adjust to this odd new screen size, but the S8 is both immersive and beautiful. Holding and using the first iPhone was a magical and futuristic experience compared to every other phone that was on the market in 2007. Using the S8 feels the same — it’s the closest we’ve gotten to that sci-fi dream of having a glowing glass slate device to guide us through the universe.
Designing and then manufacturing such a device at scale was likely quite difficult, but it paid off. I’m far from the only one out there who now looks at Samsung as the undisputed hardware design master in the field. Quite a trick, considering most of the media coverage around the company in the last six months has focused on exploding phones. Assuming nothing goes wrong with the S8, I think we can safely say that the company has put its huge misstep behind it.
Even better for Samsung, it now has a good five or six months to bask in the glory. Apple will almost certainly unveil a new iPhone with an overhauled design, and it’s hard to imagine that Google’s next Pixel will keep its surprisingly large bezels, but neither of those phones are expected until the fall. That’s a long time for Samsung to crow about its revolutionary new phone design, and it wouldn’t be surprising if sales ended up reflecting that. Yes, LG’s G6 has a similar bezel-less design, but the fit and finish isn’t quite as excellent, and Samsung has been handily beating LG in terms of smartphone marketshare for a long time now. The S8 will only grow that lead.
Still, the Galaxy S8 isn’t a perfect phone. I’d still vastly prefer the stock Android experience that Google offers on the Pixel, even though the skin formerly known as TouchWiz is now polished and totally usable. Bloatware remains a problem, and Bixby is not at all ready for prime time. Also, what’s up with that fingerprint sensor?
But then again, no smartphone is perfect. And the good news with software issues is that they’re often fixable — particularly when you consider how relatively open and flexible Android has proven to be over the years. Software evolves and changes — but when you buy a phone, you’re usually committing to that hardware for a good two years. For the first time, I’d be willing to make that commitment with a Samsung phone.
The creator of Android, Andy Rubin, is building a new smartphone — and today, he shared the first image of his mysterious hardware. It’s just a tease, revealing only the corner of the phone, where battery, time and network information is displayed in tiny white text.
I’m really excited about how this is shaping up. Eager to get it in more people’s hands… pic.twitter.com/LRzQCFSKTm
— Andy Rubin (@Arubin) March 27, 2017
The new device comes from Rubin’s company, Essential Products Inc., which is focused on creating tablets, smartphones and mobile software. Essential’s flagship phone will serve as the foundation for a lineup of connected products, according to early reports about the company’s movements. A handful of its smartphone prototypes are larger than an iPhone 7 Plus, featuring bezel-free screens and ceramic backings. Rubin and co. are apparently working on a proprietary version of Apple’s 3D Touch and they’re playing around with magnetic charging accessories.
The image Rubin shared today is reminiscent of Xiaomi’s Mi MIX concept phone, which has an edge-to-edge 1080p LCD and a ceramic body. However, with such a small portion of the hardware exposed in this single tweet, it’s hard to say where the similarities truly begin (and end).
Essential’s flagship smartphone is expected to drop in mid-2017.
It turns out the rumors were true: Android creator Andy Rubin is returning to phones with his latest company Essential Products Inc. According to a report from Bloomberg, Essential aims to bring together several mobile and smart home products under one platform and the company will release a flagship smartphone around the middle of this year.
In a filing with California regulators, Essential listed tablets, smartphones and mobile software among its products, but according to Bloomberg‘s sources, the company’s first device will be the center of a whole suite of connected products. Essential’s 40-person team was largely poached from both Apple and Google, so the phone will compete directly with the iPhone and Pixel in terms of both specs and price point. Essential’s various prototypes reportedly sport features like a large, bezel-free screen that’s bigger than an iPhone 7 Plus and a ceramic back that requires some finesse to manufacture. The company is also working on a version of Apple’s 3D Touch and developing its own magnetic charging and accessories connector that will allow the device to add aftermarket hardware features. As for the software, Bloomberg says it’s currently “unclear” whether the devices will run on an Android-based operating system.
Essential Products at least partially grew out of Rubin’s Silicon Valley incubator Playground Global, which is focused on quantum computing and artificial intelligence. Foxconn, which is an investor in Playground Global, is reportedly in talks to build the new device.