10 tech predictions from the staff of Android Authority

2018 is almost at an end and it’s undoubtedly been an excellent year for smartphones. We’re already quickly gearing up for 2019’s early high profile releases, and — leaks aside — we’re pretty confident that our veteran industry status gives us a pretty good idea about what to expect.

Here are ten of the Android Authority staff’s best and most out-there predictions for what 2019 will hold.

Gaming phones become more competitive

If you hadn’t noticed, mobile gaming is a big thing, especially in China. So big in fact that we now have a number of dedicated gaming smartphones on the market, including the Razer Phone 2, Asus ROG Phone, and Xiaomi Black Shark.

See also

Cutting-edge processor specs alone aren’t going to be enough next year though, predicts our Luka Mlinar. Gaming phones need to offer more. That’s certainly true when you consider that every other flagship smartphone will be using the same chipset next year: the Snapdragon 855.

We could see better cooling systems, but gimmicks like “speed boost” gaming modes aren’t fooling anyone. Instead, gaming phones may morph to offer superior controllers, even higher screen refresh rates, better audio and feedback features, and perhaps even some more useful gaming software and ecosystem tools. Personally, I’m still waiting on a Sony Xperia Play reboot to gift us an awesome PlayStation phone.

Facebook will (unfortunately) be fine

2018 hasn’t been a good year for Facebook, nor for the privacy of its users. Scandal after scandal has hit the social network throughout 2018, yet it’s still standing firm. Facebook will keep on doing creepy things in 2019, so foresees Sam Moore.

I probably don’t need to remind you about the Cambridge Analytica scandal, the U.S. Senate hearing50 million accounts hacked, the further data theft of 29 million users, exposing private photos, and recent revelations about granting message access to third-party companies. But I will. Honestly, it’s miraculous that the company hasn’t succumbed to any of this. I can only fathom that Facebook is so deeply integrated into people’s lives that they can’t bring themselves to rid of it.

If you’re looking for a healthy New Year’s resolution, at least give less of your precious personal data to Mark.

Also read: The biggest tech and mobile blunders of 2018

MOAR CAMERAS

The back of the Nokia 9. 91Mobiles/OnLeaks

If 2018 was the year of the triple camera, 2019 will be the year of the quad or even quintuple camera monster. Or so Android Authority’s Joe Hindy and Williams Pelegrin predict.

Related

The introduction of telephoto, wide-angle, monochrome, and depth sensor camera combinations pushed smartphone photography capabilities up another notch this year. It certainly wouldn’t be a surprise to see manufacturers throw everything they can at both front and rear camera setups in 2019. Samsung already has a quad-camera phone with its Galaxy A9 2018 edition, and flagship models could go even further.

Heck, if that crazy Nokia 9 leak turns out to be true we could be looking at our first penta-camera sometime next year. That would make triple cameras look positively pedestrian. But will it be better than a Pixel?

Farewell bezels, hello holes

Honor View20 selfie camera

Display holes (is that seriously what we’re calling them?) are a safe bet for 2019, so it’s not surprising that a few of our staff suggested this one. We all know Samsung’s Infinity-O display is in production and have already had our first look at the Honor View 20 and its display hole. Expect a number of 2019 smartphones to come sporting this new look.

These advances in display slicing technology open the door for some cool new technological tricks to replace the notch. In-display cameras are a given, but manufacturers could also hide many more sensors, such as 3D facial scanning, into these holes.

We’ve also seen our first in-display fingerprint scanners hit the market this year and Samsung’s UPS display technology suggests it has found a way to embed cameras inside panels too. Perhaps manufacturers will hide other bits of front-facing technology seamlessly into the display in 2019. All in all, these trends probably mean even thinner bezels for 2019’s smartphones too.

Cryptocurrency finally gets a useful dApp, or it dies

I think this was a serious suggestion from Tristan Rayner, but who can be sure when it comes to the apparently infinite, reality-defying possibilities of blockchain?

Despite this year’s major setbacks for the valuations of popular cryptocurrencies, the fundamentals of secure open ledgers and decentralized applications remain appealing. 2019 could finally be the year that a breakthrough application (dApp) that relies on blockchain appears. Perhaps complete with its own currency to keep the data crunching ticking over.

Luka isn’t so optimistic about cryptocurrencies, and who can blame him after the Bitcoin bubble appeared to burst early last year. $17.1k to just $3.7k over the last twelve months certainly looks like curtains for the coin’s mainstream popularity. 2019 could well be the year that decides the fate of cryptocurrencies. Either a breakthrough dApp appears to renew faith, or the idea continues its gradual decline into irrelevance.

Just please, no more attempts at a blockchain phone. OK, everyone?

Battery life won’t get any better (sadly)

Adam Molina points out that we’re probably not looking at longer battery life next year. A disappointing prediction given that this is consistently one of the most requested updates to phones each year.

But with battery sizes gradually increasing and smartphone processors moving on to more efficiency 7nm processes, you’re probably wondering why we’re not predicting a revolution in battery life.

First is that manufacturers keep finding new ways to consume these power savings. Be that a higher performing processor and higher quality gaming, brighter and higher resolution displays, new power consuming content like HDR video, more power hungry multi-camera setups, and 5G. Secondly, because even a generous 20-percent boost to battery life might only add an hour of screen on time to many phones. That’s obviously a good thing, but even for the best phones that last a whole day that extra hour or even two isn’t going to make up the difference to the next milestone: multi-day battery life.

Sorry about this one.

We’ll still be waiting for Android Pie updates

Hadlee Simons is similarly pessimistic in his expectations for 2019 — many of us are going to be sat hammering that refresh button for our Android Pie update.

Hadlee has a pretty good point. Despite the introduction of Project Treble for Oreo-based devices, we haven’t seen the biggest manufacturers offer vastly faster update times to Android Pie. Huawei might just squeeze in its updates before the end of the year, but Samsung, LG, HTC, and others haven’t pushed out their updates to many customers yet, with the exception of a few preview programs.

Instead, the lesser known OEMs with a smaller number of handsets to support have been doing a better job. Essential and OnePlus being notably quick adopters, along with other stock-like OS manufacturers. Unfortunately even Treble doesn’t appear to have encouraged big manufacturers to put the necessary resources into pushing out faster software updates for their phones. Mid-range handsets also appear to still be forgotten about too.

We’ll find at least two more ways to complain about the notch

Hopefully, 2018 won’t be remembered as the year of the notch. Although not universally loathed, it’s definitely one of the more contentious adoptions in the smartphone space this year — so much so that the notch has spawned more than its share of memes and jokes over the last year and a bit.

We’ve heard it all this year, from it’s downright ugly (I’m looking at you Pixel 3 XL) to that it makes phones look like shameless iPhone clones. There have also been plenty of complaints about some of the software the tweaks made to Android Pie, such as the clock position, to accommodate the notch. You folks certainly know what you don’t like.

Our Executive Editor Kris Carlon reckons that we’ll find at least two new things to hate about the notch next year. Better get cracking.

Phones with 16GB of RAM

Our own Feliks Mangus predicts that we could see smartphones packing in a whopping 16GB of RAM hit shelves in 2019. This would undoubtedly be overkill, but is it possible?

The swanky OnePlus 6T McLaren edition comes in a crazy 10GB RAM variant. The newly announced Lenovo Z5 Pro GT already promises 12GB of RAM paired up with a brand new Snapdragon 855 SoC and we’re still not even into 2019’s major smartphone announcements.

While 8GB probably seems like a sensible limit for most flagship smartphones, we’ll surely see some manufacturers push the RAM count even higher. If only to grab headlines rather than offer up revolutionary performance.

5G signal on Galaxy Note 8

5G doesn’t live up to the hype

Both Tristan and I are calling this one now: 5G isn’t going to be the game changer for smartphones that many companies are eagerly hyping up.

Editor’s Pick

If you recall the rollout of 4G LTE, you already know what to expect. Only certain cities will see the technology first and even then coverage will be spotty at best. Couple this with the unknowns about smartphone form factors and, more importantly, battery life and those first 5G smartphones might not be so appealing either.

That said, 5G works. It’s going to have some interesting use cases for home and business internet access, and eventually mass IoT and all that other jargon too. But for smartphones, 2019’s 5G wireless rollout will probably be a muted experience for most of us. Unless you’re that crazy person streaming 4K HDR video to your tiny 6-inch display outside a mmWave base station in downtown New York.

What about your predictions?

That’s enough from us, what are your biggest predictions for smartphones, and tech in general, in 2019?

Next: 2019 will be a great year for smartwatches and fitness trackers — here’s why

HTC in 2019: Last chance saloon

HTC in 2019: HTC U12 Plus

Remember those awful Robert Downey Jr.-starring ads HTC spent millions on that joked HTC was an acronym for ‘hilariously’ random phrases like “Hipster Troll Car wash?”

I know, I tried to forget too.

After yet another rough year of layoffs, free-falling sales numbers, and a further drift into obscurity in the smartphone market, HTC in 2018 could quite easily have stood for “Hard Times Continued.”

2018 marked the tenth anniversary of the first ever Android smartphone — the HTC Dream/T-Mobile G1 — but unfortunately for HTC, there was very little else worth celebrating.

Let’s review HTC’s 2018 and look ahead to see we can expect from the fallen Android giant in 2019.

Another 12 months of turmoil

Rewind back to the start of 2018 and HTC found itself in a bit of a transitional phase. Fresh off an atrocious 12 months where revenues plummeted to a 13-year low, the firm received a much-needed injection of cash after selling its “Powered by HTC” R&D division to Google for $1.1 billion.

Despite the reduced workforce and talent pool, Google’s money meant HTC had the time and funds to design and develop new phones to try to turn its fortunes around. Unfortunately, fortune wasn’t ready to turn in HTC’s favor.

A fresh round of layoffs hit the company’s North American wing in February as part of a restructuring plan to bring together the smartphone and VR teams. This was followed by a much wider cull in July when 1,500 employees were cut at HTC’s HQ in Taiwan.

Read more: Here are the best HTC phones you can buy right now

The latter represented a whopping 22 percent of the company’s global workforce and was justified by HTC as being an essential move to ensure “more effective and flexible resource management going forward.”

Some of HTC’s most high profile figureheads also abandoned their stations. Smartphone president Chialin Chang departed in February after a six year tenure, while Mo Versi — a.k.a. the HTC updates guy — exited in March.

The overall picture gets even bleaker when you delve into HTC’s 2018 financials.

HTC’s final revenue figures for 2018 will make for dire reading.

HTC registered its lowest revenue total in 13 years at NTD 62.12 billion ($2.1 billion) in 2017. As of Q3 2018, the company’s overall revenue for the year sat at a paltry NTD 19.6 billion (~$636 million).

Save for an incredibly unlikely miraculous turnaround in Q4, HTC’s final revenue figures for 2018 will make for some dire reading when they are eventually released to investors and the public in the coming weeks.

Amidst all of the speculation surrounding HTC’s uncertain future, rumors that the brand was considering pulling of out India completely, and getting slapped by U.K. advertising standards over a “misleading” ad, the phones that HTC actually released in 2018 more or less got lost in the wider discourse.

On the flagship front, HTC eschewed recent tradition and released the HTC U12 Plus — a follow-up to the U11 series that didn’t enjoy a non-Plus version, instead adopting the moniker due to its large size and top-tier specs.

Yet despite its all-round impressive performance and gorgeous Liquid Surface design, the HTC U12 Plus was a hard phone for many to recommend.

In our HTC U12 Plus review, Jimmy Westenberg bemoaned HTC’s neglected software suite, its innovative-yet-awkward pressure sensitive buttons, the higher price tag compared to the U11, and the lack of any tangible reason to recommend the phone over rival devices from Samsung, Google, or even LG.

HTC in 2019: HTC U12 Life

The U12 series was later bolstered by the arrival of the U12 Life — a capable mid-ranger with a severe identity crisis that seemed to echo its creator’s own lack of direction.

Aside from three entries in the affordable Desire 12 series, HTC’s only other notable contribution to the Android market in 2018 was the company’s first blockchain phone, the HTC Exodus 1, which went up for pre-order exclusively in bitcoin or ethereum tokens in late October.

With the value of major cryptocurrencies dropping throughout the year, it’s hard to imagine that HTC’s ultra-niche blockchain phone will have delivered the kind of sales numbers the company desperately needs.

New horizons

HTC in 2019: HTC Vive

Without that $1.1 billion windfall from Google, there’s every chance HTC’s smartphone division (and perhaps even the company as a whole) wouldn’t have made it to 2019.

HTC said it would invest in virtual reality and Internet of Things technologies at the time of the big-money sale. The latter has yet to really materialize, but HTC’s support of the Vive brand remains resolute.

Related: VR headset buyer’s guide – what are your options?

HTC went on the offensive singling out critics of forecasts showing evidence of the VR market shrinking in a bullish blog post in mid-2018. It also talked up demand for the wireless Vive Pro headset and high interest in China for the enterprise-focused, standalone Vive Focus, which launched worldwide in November.

One encouraging development for HTC’s wider ambitions in both the smartphone and VR sectors is the imminent dawn of 5G.

Editor’s Pick

The next-generation networks, which are due to start turning on in the U.S. throughout 2019, could potentially shake up the status quo and open up new opportunities for struggling Android OEMs.

Likewise, virtual reality experiences are set to benefit greatly from 5G’s lower latency, increased fidelity, and a potentially lower entry price for consumers and businesses as computational work shifts away from expensive PC hardware toward cloud-based solutions.

Of course, each new investment will eat further into HTC’s coffers and if revenue continues to fall, something will have to give. There’s no doubt that HTC absolutely can’t afford another year of dwindling sales if it wants to remain in the smartphone market long-term.

The beginning of the end, or the start of something new?

HTC in 2019

So, how can HTC save its smartphone business?

Android Authority’s C. Scott Brown has already shared a few ideas that could help stop the slump, but HTC has mostly stuck to the same “strategic investments” line we also heard back in 2012 and 2017.

The only real indication of HTC’s plans for 2019 and beyond came in an interview with HTC president Darren Chen in December. Chen said the company will “continue to extend its high-end U12 Plus lineup in 2019,” which sparked speculation that HTC wouldn’t be released a ‘new’ flagship in the first half of the year.

HTC later clarified this won’t be the case, although I’m left wondering whether it’ll have been better off being true come the end of 2019. A vague commitment to deliver a new flagship and a few mid-range devices doesn’t sound like the drastic rethink HTC could well need to claw back much needed market share.

HTC’s glory years fade further from memory with each passing year.

Perhaps the next elite HTC smartphone will be a Galaxy S10 killer. HTC’s Desire series — including the mega-affordable, entry-level Desire 12s launched in December — could finally become a true contender in the ultra-competitive emergent markets currently dominated by Chinese OEMs. Maybe the Exodus 1 will be the go-to phone for crypto fans all across the world. 2019 could even be the year where virtual reality and Vive enters the mainstream powered by 5G.

All of these things are possible, but the company’s scattershot strategies and limp statements of intent will do little to convince the growing number of doubters inside the smartphone industry, or the buyers whose memories of HTC’s glory years fade further with each passing year.

Ten years ago HTC changed the game with the G1. A decade later it finds itself in the last chance saloon. How the mighty have fallen.


Do you think HTC can right the ship in 2019? Let us know in the comments and be sure to look out for our other posts in this series for the rest of Android’s leading OEMs.

Android in 2018 is the opening act for Android in 2019

Samsung Galaxy Note 9

As the end of 2018 gets closer, we’ll start seeing the usual “Best of 2018” lists for smartphones and mobile devices. Android Authority will take part in all the fun as usual. No doubt some of these lists (and the comments) will mention how lackluster 2018 was for the mobile industry, with incremental updates and little innovation.

To be clear, 2018 hasn’t been bad. We’ve seen incredibly cool devices that slide, pop, and bend. We’ve seen great products made even better with subtle tweaks and refinements. We’ve seen established brands launch new sub-brands to rousing success. We’ve seen brands still establishing themselves achieve things few would have suspected.

There have also been incredible advancements in photography, with multi-lensed smartphones becoming the norm and AI-powered photography tricks empowering even novices to take professional-quality shots.

However, let’s face it: despite all that, 2018 has also been full of yawns.

It’s hard to correctly judge the future, but I think Android in 2018 won’t be fondly remembered in the Android history books.

Just look at how nearly every manufacturer jumped onto the notched display bandwagon, resulting in a deluge of iPhone X clones. Regardless of how you feel about the notch, it’s hard to deny there were a lot of look-alike devices this year, which makes for a pretty yawn-inducing market.

Editor’s Pick

We also yawned at the launch of “new” devices that look and feel so similar to the previous device they’re hard to tell apart. A lot of the major smartphone releases were just revamps of previous devices with a few extra bells and whistles added. Just look at the iPhone XS, Google Pixel 3, Samsung Galaxy S9, Samsung Galaxy Note 9, LG V40 ThinQ, and the Sony Xperia XZ3, all of which are minor steps up from the previous models. It would seem appropriate to label 2018 an “S” year.

Even the Google Pixel 3 XL — one of the most talked-about devices of the year — fully leaked months before it launched, and landed to a chorus of yawns.

For these reasons and more, it would be easy for me to write an article where I bash this year’s Android devices. Instead, I’m going to spin things into a more positive take: Android in 2018 will likely be the competent opening act to the true main event: Android in 2019.

Android in 2019

Samsung Foldable Phone

Each major Android OEM has made a lot of promises about what it will have to offer next year. In fact, companies like Samsung and Motorola dedicated large parts of their 2018 device launches hyping up what is coming soon, rather than what they actually had on offer that day.

Let’s check out what a handful of the major OEMs have coming up.

Samsung

In early November, Samsung finally revealed its years-in-the-making foldable phone. The potentially game-changing device opens up into a bendable tablet, allowing users to do all sorts of things currently impossible to do on a standard smartphone. Samsung didn’t fully reveal the device at the event but promised we’d see it in 2019.

The 2019 iteration of the Galaxy S series (likely called the Samsung Galaxy S10) looks to be a complete overhaul from what we’ve seen over the past two years. We expect three (or possibly even four) variants of the S10 instead of the usual two, and we expect them to sport some unique technology like 3D mapping scanners and ultrasonic in-display fingerprint sensors. It’s also possible the S10 line could launch with an Infinity-O display, with a small hole cut out for the front-facing camera.

We also expect to see a 5G-enabled smartphone from Sammy in 2019. However, we aren’t sure if it will be part of the S10 line or something all its own.

Regardless, we know Samsung is currently in a “crisis” and working hard behind the scenes to get consumers excited about buying its smartphones again, which is good news for all of us.

OnePlus

OnePlus is revamping its entire smartphone strategy in 2019 by releasing a 5G model that won’t be a successor to the most recent OnePlus 6T. That means there will likely be two smartphone lines running concurrently from OnePlus. This will be the biggest strategy change for the company since it launched the OnePlus X in 2015.

OnePlus also might release a television in 2019, as weird as that sounds. The Chinese company gets bigger, more popular, and more ambitious every year. 2019 will likely be quite exciting for OnePlus.

The major Android OEMs have made some big promises in 2019 which are making us pretty excited.

Xiaomi

Xiaomi is doing some exciting things in 2019, too. It’s already started to trickle into new territories this year, including the U.K. The company is also selling products in the United States, but not smartphones yet. It’s absolutely possible we’ll see Xiaomi smartphones worldwide in 2019, even in the U.S.

The launch of the ultra-cheap Pocophone F1 was one of the surprise hits of 2018, and we fully expect Xiaomi to double down on its new sub-brand in 2019. While the Pocophone F1 was certainly awesome, it wasn’t without flaws, and we hope the Pocophone F2 (or whatever it gets called) will fix some of those issues.

As with most other OEMs on this list, Xiaomi is promising a 5G smartphone in 2019. It’s also promising a foldable phone to compete with Samsung (and possibly LG). Either way, we’d just be happy to finally be able to buy Xiaomi devices in the U.S.

Huawei

Like Samsung, Xiaomi, LG, and others, Huawei has promised a foldable phone in 2019. However, it is one-upping the competition by claiming its foldable device will be 5G capable and possibly even the first one from a major OEM to market.

Huawei will be pushing its very popular sub-brand Honor hard in 2019. In certain areas of the world, Huawei’s biggest competitor is Honor, which is the best kind of problem for any company to have. As such, you can likely expect more powerful mid-range and budget devices for incredibly cheap prices.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like we’ll be seeing Huawei devices in the United States in 2019. The company could surprise us, but it looks like we’ll still be watching Huawei’s success from afar in the immediate future.

LG

Let’s face it: 2018 hasn’t been the greatest year for LG. After a controversial decision to abandon its original plans for the follow-up to the LG G6, the company launched the LG G7 ThinQ later than planned and to lukewarm sales. The company’s smartphone lineup has gotten incredibly confusing, with the LG V30 quickly followed up by the LG V30S ThinQ and then the LG V35 ThinQ after that, and so on.

However, 2019 could be a new dawn for LG. It’s even apparently hired a “turnaround expert” to solve its mounting financial woes in the mobile sector.

Nothing would please us more than to see LG make a true comeback. LG devices are usually pretty awesome, albeit with a few caveats, but those caveats combined with a usually-very-high asking price make them hard to recommend. Hopefully, LG’s future strategy will take this into account.

Choose your perspective

Many of you reading this might be disappointed with 2018’s phones. You might be holding on to your 2017 device because nothing this year motivated you to run out and replace it. That makes sense.

However, just because 2018 didn’t blow us away, it doesn’t mean we should start with the doomsday talk. We can choose to see 2018 as a stepping stone year, building up the hype for what’s going to really wow us in 2019. There are certainly enough potentially awesome things on the horizon to warrant a positive outlook.

Do you agree? Do you think 2018 is paving the way for an awesome 2019, or do you think next year will be more of the same? Sound off in the comments!

NEXT: Google dev hints Android Q previews could come to more users, sooner

The Razer Raiju Mobile controller is amazing(ly expensive)

This is the featured image for the Razer Raiju Mobile review

Mobile gaming is still finding its way. We’re definitely getting higher caliber mobile games than we’ve ever had. However, there is still a long way to go. Software controls are still a little clunky with a lot of genres, particularly shooters and platformers. It is still more preferable to play with a hardware controller over software controls.

The Razer Raiju Mobile controller may be a positive step in that direction. We had the opportunity to play with Razer’s latest piece of mobile gaming hardware over the weekend and we’d like to share our thoughts with you.


Razer Rajiu Mobile controller front

The front of the controller has a very standard layout for a modern hardware controller.

The basics

Editor’s Pick

The Razer Raiju Mobile is a mobile gaming controller with a cradle for your smartphone along with both wired and wireless options. The front is your standard modern controller layout with a d-pad, two joysticks, and four buttons. The bottom-center of the front houses four more buttons, including the typical start and select buttons as well as a home and back button for controlling your Android phone. Moving around the back shows two hidden buttons right around where your fingers rest while holding the controller. There is also a switch back there where players can switch between two Bluetooth modes or wired mode. The top houses a ridiculous six shoulder buttons — four normal buttons and two triggers.

The top-center of the device houses a phone cradle that tilts up to 60 degrees, while a phone is actively resting in the cradle. The controller is housed in textured plastic, which actually feels really nice. Obviously we don’t recommend dropping this from any height onto any surface, especially with the added heft of a phone in the cradle. Like any plastic controller, we imagine that it does not have good relationships with hardwood floors.

The controller had no problems holding any of our tester devices in its little cradle.

The Razer Raiju Controller comes with two USB Type-C cables in the box. The first is a longer cable for connecting your controller to a power source. You also get a shorter cable for direct connections to your phone for use in wired mode. Both cables come with some snazzy caps for dust prevention. Razer claims the device gets up to 23 hours per charge with up to a four hour charge time.

There are two modes for the Razer Raiju Controller, the first of which is your standard Bluetooth mode. The controller can remember two total devices, and you can switch between those two with the switch on the back. The pairing sequence is simple enough and works exactly like Bluetooth headphones. Just hit the home and start buttons to initialize pairing mode and you’re off to the races.

The Bluetooth pairing worked on the first try without any difficulties. We did notice that switching from wired to Bluetooth and back again — as one is wont to do during testing — can mess up the connection. However, turning the device off and back on again always fixed it. There is also an official app for the Razer Raiju Mobile controller. It allows you to re-map several of the controller’s buttons and adjust the sensitivity of the joysticks. It’s super basic, but it worked well and we thought it was a nice touch.


Razer Raiju Mobile controller vs xbox one and PS4

The controller is comparable in size to the Xbox One controller and slightly larger than the PlayStation 4 controller.

The feel

The Razer Raiju Mobile controller has an excellent feel. Most of the controller is covered in a textured plastic and it adds some grip. Each joystick has a rougher, rubberized coating for even better grip and all of the individual buttons are glossy plastic. The back of the controller is textured differently for better grip. You can see from the image above that it’s about as big as an Xbox One controller and a little larger than a PlayStation 4 controller. It has a good weight to it, even with a phone as large as the Galaxy Note 9 nestled in its cradle.

See also

The cradle itself has no noticeable problems. It clicks as you adjust it and stays wherever you leave it. It fit all of our tester devices without any problems, although the Galaxy Note 9 was a bit of a squeeze. Once the phone is in the cradle, you can move the cradle forward to change the angle if you need to. Each button has a light, satisfying click that leaves no doubts that you actually hit the button. The triggers have a smooth pull very similar to the second generation Xbox One controllers. There is also an optional hair-trigger mode for actuating the triggers more quickly. The switches for that mode are on the back of the controller.

Holding the controller is simply delightful. I am a 5’10” male with mostly average measurements. My hands fit firmly around this thing and I experienced no noticeable discomfort, even over a longer playing session. If I had nitpicks, I’d say that I prefer the more meaty button presses of the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One controllers versus the light click of the Razer Raiju Mobile buttons, but this is just a preference.


Razer Raiju Mobile Final Fantasy IV

Supported games play with no discernible issues on the Razer Raiju Mobile.

The gaming

We played a few games from Razer’s list of supported games. including Riptide GP Renegade, Final Fantasy IV, and Alto’s Odyssey. For kicks, we also tried out the ePSXe emulator as well as the unsupported Gunstar Heroes, just to see how it’d react. Here are our observations:

  • Games with official support use the controller beautifully with no discernible issues. The button layouts were generally logical and it never took long to figure out the controls. Some games seem to like to use multiple buttons for the same action, but this wasn’t a problem during our testing.
  • Games and emulators not on Razer’s compatibility list are a mixed bag. Gunstar Heroes failed conclusively while ePSXe worked, but it required quite a bit of tedious configuration. Straying outside of Razer’s compatibility list results in a mixed experience overall.
  • We found that we frequently hit buttons on accident. In particular, the two paddle buttons in the back are super easy to press as are the non-trigger shoulder buttons. Thankfully, those buttons don’t really do much in any of the games we tested, but this thing is seriously covered in buttons.
  • Speaking of the paddle buttons, they actually don’t get use from the games. They let you adjust the sensitivity of the joysticks on the fly. This is configurable in the Razer Raiju Mobile app, although we really only noticed a difference when our paddles were set to a very different sensitivity from our default setting. These are definitely better for quick, large adjustments rather than subtle ones. Additionally, two of the shoulder buttons as well as the start and select buttons are configurable in the mobile app as well.
  • The hair trigger setting on the controller also worked as expected.
  • It doesn’t just work for the Razer Phone 2. We tested it with a Samsung Galaxy Note 9 as well as a Pixel XL and it worked fine.

It feels like we should have said more here. However, there just isn’t much to say. When the game supported the controller and everything connected properly, the experience was basically flawless. It’s not a panacea for mobile gaming’s horrible record of controller support, but that’s hardly Razer’s fault.


Razer Raiju Mobile box contents

This is everything you get in the box with a Razer Raiju Mobile. We like the stickers and braided USB Type-C cables a lot.

Recommendations and price

We’re going to just pull the band-aid off quickly. This thing costs $159.99. The Xbox One controller (pictured above) was $99.99 and a PlayStation 4 controller runs for $59.99. Then again, the Xbox One Elite controller with hair trigger locks also costs $149.99 so there is some context to support the Raiju Mobile’s price tag. Even so, it’s difficult to recommend this to casual players at that price. There are a few instances where we might recommend this to someone:

  • Those with multiple devices who also play a bunch of games. For instance, this controller should work well with Android TV as well as most mobile and tablet devices. One game controller for all of your devices may be worth the investment to some people.
  • Hardcore mobile gamers who want a controller with uncommon features like button re-mapping and hardware hair trigger locks.
  • Anyone who plays a sizable number of the games on Razer’s supported games list and wants a controller they are sure will work with those titles.

Of course, this is basically a first impressions post, so we can’t comment on anything like long term durability. The uncommon features, sleek looks, plentiful buttons, and excellent feel while gaming make a compelling case for the more hardcore mobile gamer much like the Xbox One Elite controller does for Xbox’s more hardware player base. For better or worse, Razer knows exactly what kind of consumer they’re targeting with those features at that price. Casual mobile gamers may want to try something a little bit cheaper.


The back of the Raiju Mobile houses the hair trigger lock switches (top), the Bluetooth/wired switch (middle), and the two paddle buttons (bottom). A surprisingly busy back of a controller.

The Razer Raiju Controller is definitely a positive force in the mobile gaming industry. It’s also priced outside of the sensibilities of most casual mobile gamers. Still, this is an excellent controller with no major flaws out of the box with an excellent feel and experience. Of course, we can’t comment on the long term durability of it because we only had it a few days. If you happen to be one of the folks that don’t mind the price, you can learn more from Razer’s website!

Google Pixel 3 international giveaway!

It’s time for the Sunday giveaway! Like every week, we’re giving away another a brand new Android phone to one lucky Android Authority reader.

A big congratulations to the winners of last week’s Insta360 ONE X giveaway, Zelijko A. from Serbia, Alam K. from Australia, and Ilya E. from Russia.

This week we’re giving away a brand new Google Pixel 3, courtesy of the Android Authority app!

If you’re looking for the best way to stay up to date with AndroidAuthority.com, look no further than the AA app for Android. Available for free in the Google Play Store, the official AA app is the fastest way to get all the latest news, rumors, tips and tricks, and device reviews on your mobile device.

It’s fast, looks good, and gives you breaking Android news at your fingertips — what more could you want?

The Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL are here. While they may not rival the Galaxy Note 9 in terms of specs, these phones improve on the very aspect that made the Pixel 2 so great — the camera. They still sport the same single rear cameras as the Pixel 2, but there are a ton of camera software improvements here. Top Shot mode will take multiple pictures of your subject and recommend the best one. Night Sight also brings next-level low-light photography thanks to computational photography.

They both have 18:9 screens (18.5:9 for the XL), yet they still look very different from one another. The Pixel 3 has a 5.5-inch Full HD+ screen that makes it look like a smaller Pixel 2 XL, while the Pixel 3 XL has a big ol’ notch at the top of its screen. Both phones also come with Qi wireless charging support, no headphone jack (womp womp), and still manage to squeeze in front-facing speakers.

To learn more about the Google Pixel 3 and 3 XL, head to our related coverage below:

Enter the giveaway here

Google Pixel 3 international giveaway!

Don’t miss: JBL Charge 4 giveaway

Winners gallery

Terms & conditions

  • This is an international giveaway (except when we can not ship to your country).
  • If we can not ship to your country, you will be compensated with an online gift card of equal MSRP value to the prize.
  • We are not responsible for lost shipments.
  • We are not responsible if your giveaway prize malfunctions.
  • You must be age of majority in your country of residence.
  • We are not responsible for any duties or import fees that you may incur.
  • Only one entry per person; please do not enter multiple email addresses. We will verify all winners and if we detect multiple email addresses by the same person you will not be eligible to win.
  • We reserve all rights to make any changes to this giveaway.
  • This giveaway is operated by Android Authority.
  • The prize will ship when it is available to purchase.

More: Android Authority international giveaway FAQs

Running Samsung Dex and EMUI on a 49-inch ultrawide monitor? Sure, why not

Samsung CJ89 Monitor Wide Angle Picture

Chrome OS and Android offer portable alternatives to your traditional Mac and Windows desktop environments and some big phone names have been working to improve the Android experience further. It’s been a while since we played around with some of the most well-known options, so we thought it was time we caught up. While not as fully featured as a traditional OS, Samsung Dex and Huawei EMUI offer functional desktop environments bringing mobile apps to big screens.

There are few bigger screens than the ultra-wide-screen 49-inch Samsung CJ89 monitor. The monitor supports display inputs over USB Type-C, making it an ideal testbed for running smartphone desktops. Before we dive into a bit more about the mobile-come-desktop experience, here’s an overview of the Samsung CJ89 monitor.

Meet the Samsung CJ89

At 49 inches, the Samsung CJ89 is a monster. It completely fills your peripheral vision, which is arguably a tad impractical. It’s basically impossible to take everything in at once. I’m used to a dual monitor setup, but the CJ89 really is something else. “Super ultra-wide screen,” as Samsung describes it, probably doesn’t go far enough. You can easily fit three or four windows side by side.

  Samsung J89 specs
Display Size 48.9-inches
Aspect Ratio 32:9
Screen Curvature & Viewing Angle 1800Rm, 178°(H) / 178°(V)
Resolution 3,840 x 1,080
or 2x 1,920 x 1,080
Response Time 5ms (gray-to-gray)
Refresh Rate 144Hz
Contrast Radio 3000:1 (Typical),
2400:1 (Min)
Brightness 300cd/m2 (Typical),
250cd/m2 (Min)
HDR? No
Ports 1x HDMI (v2.0)
1x Display Port (v1.2)
2x USB Type-C
3x USB Type-A
1x 3.5mm headphones

Quality wise, the display hits the right notes. It could probably do with a little more vertical resolution than just 1,080, but that would bump up the graphics requirements to power this beast. At 300 nits, it’s retina-scorchingly bright when cranked up up all the way in my dingy office. Meanwhile, the contrast and color balance are perfectly fine for my eye, though the display is more about its crazy width rather than groundbreaking specs. There’s no HDR support here, for example, and the 7W built-in speakers are no match for a dedicated external pair.

The monitor features a ton of ports on the back, though just one HDMI 2.0 and one DisplayPort 1.2 for PC connections. The rest are USB ports to connect up peripherals, two of which are USB Type-C supporting high wattage Power Delivery to charge up phones and tablets. The USB Type-C ports also support display signals, meaning you can mirror your laptop, tablet, or phone’s display.

Samsung CJ89 Monitor Ports

I hope you like USB ports because the CJ89 has plenty of them, but only one HDMI and one DP.

Single monitor, dual inputs

One of the Samsung CJ89’s more unique features is its Picture-by-Picture mode. This takes inputs from two of the port inputs, which it can mix and match, and displays them simultaneously. Supported secondary inputs include another PC, a laptop, or a mobile device.

Furthermore, these secondary devices can connect using a range of inputs. The two USB Type-C ports on the back support Android screen cloning, EMUI Desktop, and Samsung Dex. They are also powered at up to 15W and 95W, so they can charge up your phone and power the Samsung Dex Station while running the display.

Picture-by-Picture mode allows you to run two devices on the display side by side

Samsung CJ89 Monitor DEX

The feature isn’t seamless when using a Dex Station. This slightly older Samsung product doesn’t support video over a USB Type-C connection, so you need to connect using the HDMI port on the back of the Dex Station to the monitor. There’s only one HDMI connector, so you’ll have to mess around with adaptors to keep your primary PC connected too.

This isn’t a problem with the latest Samsung devices. Both the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 and  Galaxy Tab S4 support Dex over just a USB Type-C cable. These models remove the need for a dock altogether, matching Huawei’s EMUI Desktop. When connecting via USB-C, you can use your PC keyboard and monitor by flicking a simple switch.

Why use Android desktop environments?

The persistent question about Samsung’s Dex and Huawei’s EMUI is why? Why use a slightly sluggish, less comprehensive operating system for PC work when you probably have a perfectly functioning desktop or laptop at hand?

There’s something rather helpful about having the same apps you regularly use on your phone on your desktop side-by-side. Ensuring the morning’s emails are answered and properly synced, without having to rely on Outlook or various web tabs, is great. It’s also rather neat for apps with notifications, like Slack or WhatsApp, so your phone and PC app don’t duplicate the notifications. Having one app at your desk for each feature is less hectic and there’s plenty of room on this monitor for that type of multitasking.

Samsung CJ89 Monitor EMUI

Handling the work day’s usual phone notifications in a desktop environment is a pleasant change

That you can also use a single keyboard and mouse setup for both operating systems with this monitor makes this actually practical. That said, you have to fiddle with the Switch USB button to swap the peripherals over. It’s a necessary feature, but it prevents this from being a seamless experience. Especially as there’s a slight delay during the changeover, as it’s basically unplugging and plugging your keyboard back into Windows.

This side-by-side feature definitely won’t be a major selling point for many consumers. Those dipping their toes into Dex or EMUI might actually get some good use out of a dual monitor type setup like this though. Of course, if you’re simply planning to plug your computer into this monitor, you’ll avoid most of the pain points I’ve mentioned here.

Samsung CJ89 Super Wide Screen Monitor

Final thoughts

If you’re wanting to use a monitor like this as I have, the Samsung CJ89 is definitely built for modern devices that support monitors over USB Type-C. Laptop class power over USB Type-C also makes the monitor a power hub for your portable gadgets. However, the single HDMI input makes it difficult to use the multi-display mode with older devices. You can always use cable adapters, but I wouldn’t recommend it. While mobile desktop options have improved in recent years, they’re still no match for a dedicated desktop.

Editor’s Pick

As an ultra-wide-screen monitor, the Samsung CJ89 is pretty great. With a 32:9 aspect ratio, the 49-inch monitor has plenty of space for multiple applications. Once you get used to the monitor’s humongous size, it’s a multitaskers dream. The biggest drawback is its 7W speakers, which are passable for voice but frankly terrible for music and film sound effects.

At 899 pounds and 1,409 euros (around $1,140) this is an expensive monitor I personally can’t quite justify. At this price point, the monitor should offer HDR, a higher resolution, and support for FreeSync to make the most of its 144Hz refresh rate. Dex certainly works, but I’m not switching over to a mobile OS for work anytime soon. The idea is undeniably enticing though: as phone desktop modes improve, you could save so much money on a computer you could (maybe) justify spending at least some of it on a crazy ultra-wide monitor like this.

Brawl Stars tips and tricks: How to fight your way to the top!

Brawl Stars has finally launched globally on Android and iOS, and it looks like the developer of Clash of Clans and Clash Royale might have another smash hit game on its hands.

Supercell’s new mobile MOBA/arena fighter has already amassed over five million downloads on the Google Play Store. That means there are plenty of players competing in Brawl Stars 3v3 online match ups and its unique take on a Fortnite/PUBG Mobile-style battle royale mode.

Editor’s Pick

In this guide, you’ll find some essential tips and tricks that will help you choose the best Brawlers for any game mode, unlock new rare and legendary characters, farm tokens and gems, and much more!

Brawl Stars: How to unlock new Brawlers

No MOBA-style game is complete without a roster of colorful characters with different abilities and classes. Thankfully, Brawl Stars delivers with 22 total Brawlers that cater to various play-styles.

There are currently three ways to get new Brawlers, not counting the promotion that unlocks Barley by linking/setting up your Supercell ID. The first is by earning Trophies (I’ll explain how to get these and all of Brawl Stars’ other currencies later) and passing pre-set milestones on Trophy Road.

This starts at 10 Trophies when you’ll unlock Nita and ends at 3,000 Trophies which gets you Bo. The other Trophy Road Brawlers are Colt (60 Trophies), Bull (250 Trophies), Jessie (500 Trophies), Brock (1,000 Trophies), and Dynamike (2,000 Trophies).

Brawl Stars tips tricks new brawlers

Trophy Road guarantees new characters but you’ll only ever unlock Common Brawlers.

You can also occasionally buy new Brawlers in the Shop using Gems, Brawl Stars’ premium currency. Be sure to save your Gems and be on the lookout for timed special offers.

The final way to get new Brawlers is the one you’ll rely on the most: Brawl Boxes.

Brawl Boxes serve up random drops of Coins, Power Points, and sometimes new Brawlers.

Related: 10 best battle royale games like PUBG Mobile or Fortnite on Android!

You’ll get a bunch of Brawl Boxes organically as you play the game over time, but the best way of unlocking new Brawlers is Big Boxes and Mega Boxes. Big Boxes will give you three times more drops than regular Brawl Boxes, while Mega Boxes go up to ten times more. Big Boxes and Mega Boxes can be obtained through Trophy Road, collecting Star Tokens, and by spending real money in the Shop.

It’s worth noting that the longer it takes for you to unlock a new character, the higher the chance the next Brawl Box (of any size) will contain a fresh fighter to play with.

Brawl Stars best brawlers

I like how all of these Brawler profile images could be the Play Store art for a new Supercell game.

Brawl Stars: Best Brawlers and tier list

Brawlers in Brawl Stars are categorized by their rarity tiers: Common, Rare, Super Rare, Epic, Mythic, and Legendary.

While you might think the Legendary Brawlers are automatically the best, that’s not quite how the game works.

Every Brawler in Brawl Stars has their individual strengths and weaknesses. Some, like the tanky Nita who unlocks very early on, are incredibly strong in specific game modes like Gem Grab.

Meanwhile, damage-focused Brawlers like Colt are better at clocking up those kills in Bounty.

For a good idea of which Brawlers to pick for each mode, check out YouTuber KairosTime’s most recent Brawl Stars tier list.

As for the roster, here’s every Brawler in the game so far ranked by rarity:

Common Brawlers

Bo
Brock
Bull
Colt
Dynamike
Jessie
Nita
Shelly

Rare Brawlers

Barley
El Primo
Poco

Super Rare Brawlers

Darryl
Penny
Ricochet

Epic Brawlers

Frank
Pam
Piper

Mythic Brawlers

Mortis
Tara

Legendary Brawlers

Crow
Leon
Spike

Brawl Stars upgrade brawlers

Remember, you don’t need to upgrade every Brawler in the game. You can save Coins and spend them on your favorites first.

Brawl Stars: How to upgrade Brawlers and unlock Star Powers

Another reason why there isn’t exactly a best Brawler in Brawl Stars is that you can power up each hero to boost their stats, giving them more health, attack damage, and Super damage.

First off, ignore each Brawler’s rank completely as this only relates to your overall Trophy haul — not their stats. Instead, keep an eye on each Brawler’s Power Points meter. Once this is full you can spend Coins to upgrade a Brawler’s overall Power Level. Just note that Power Points are specific to each character, so you can’t use El Primo’s Points to level up Poco, for example.

Once you hit Power Level 9, you’ll be able to unlock that Brawler’s Star Power, which is a permanent passive buff that’s unique to that character. You’ll have to get lucky to get the Star Power though, as these are random drops from Brawl Boxes.

Brawl Stars farm star tokens gems power points

If you can find a decent duos partner, Showdown is a great way to farm Trophies.

Brawl Stars: How to get Gems, Coins, Tokens, Star Tokens, Trophies, and Power Points

As you might have noticed, there are loads of different currency types in Brawl Stars and keeping track of them all can get a little confusing. To help you know your Tokens from your Star Tokens, here are all the currencies in the game to date and what you’ll be using them for:

Coins: Used to upgrade Brawlers

  • Coins are available in Brawl Boxes and Coin packs in the Shop (in-app purchase).

Gems: Used to buy exclusive skins, other shop items, or Brawl Boxes

  • Gems are available in Brawl Boxes and Gem packs in the Shop (in-app purchase).

Tokens: Used to obtain a Brawl Box for every 100 Tokens

  • Tokens are gained by raising your Experience level and increased Brawlers ranks. You’ll also get 20 Tokens for every game you play up to five times. This resets in increments of 20 every three hours. Token Doublers are also available from the Shop and in Brawl Boxes.

Star Tokens: Used to get a Big Box for every 10 Star Tokens

  • Found in Brawl Boxes and by completing Events. The latter will reset for each game mode about once per day.

Trophies: Used to rank up Brawlers and unlock rewards on Trophy Road

  • You’ll get Trophies by winning games. You’ll also lose a nominal number of trophies (usually just one) if you’re defeated.

Experience: Used to obtain Tokens with each Experience level

  • Gain Experience by playing games and getting star player awards.

Power Points: Used to upgrade Brawler stats

  • Power Points drop in Brawl Boxes and are often available to buy with Coins in the Shop once per day.
Brawl Stars gameplay tips

Team balance is important, but only at really high levels of play.

Brawl Stars: Gameplay tips and game modes

So far we’ve looked at how Brawl Stars’ general set-up, but that’s not going to help you in the thick of a fight. Here are a few tips and tricks to help you win and master each game mode.

Brawl Stars heist

The yellow circle around El Primo indicates he’s stored a Super.

Know your game modes!

There are a few different modes in Brawl Stars, each with their own set of rules and win conditions. The main two are Gem Grab (3v3 mode, collect and hold on to your Gems!) and Showdown (single or duos battle royale mode), but you’ll also see Bounty (3v3 mode, collect Stars by eliminating opponents), Heist (3v3 mode, protect your safe and break open your opponents’), and Brawl Ball (3v3 mode, basically soccer with guns) on rotation.

This is the most obvious and crucial tip: learn the rules!

I’ve lost track of the amount of times I’ve lost a round of Gem Grab in Brawl Stars because my teammates run off trying to get kills rather than holding onto those precious Gems. Likewise, I’ve won my fair share of Showdown matches because often everyone ignores the Power Cubes which increase your attack damage giving you a huge advantage.

The long and short is don’t lose sight of the overall objective. You can chalk up all those glory kills but it will mean nothing if you’re on the losing team when the round is up.

Know your Brawlers!

It’s all well and good understanding the game modes, but if you don’t know how to make the most out of your chosen Brawler’s abilities and Super attacks you might as well start waving the white flag of surrender before the round even begins.

Practice is the key here. Learn which Brawlers suit each game mode and what their toolkit is for. Don’t rush in as Poco when you could be healing, but also don’t hold back as El Primo when you could be soaking up damage directed at your teammates.

You’ll also need to learn the range and spread of each Brawler’s attacks, as some are best in face-to-face throwdowns while others are better standing back and taking pot shots from behind cover.

Brawl Stars super

Colt’s Super can be lethal but will often miss if you rely on auto aim.

Auto aim and tracking

Brawl Stars is quite forgiving compared to other MOBAs, especially when it comes to aiming. Instead of having to manually aim your shots with the virtual stick, you can just tap it to shoot at the nearest enemy.

Don’t do this.

While it’s fine to spam the attack button at very close range, if there’s any kind of distance between you and your target it’ll most likely miss when auto aiming. This also takes the choice of who you want to attack out of your hands and sometimes you’ll shoot a full health enemy rather than the one on 1HP that’s holding all the Gems.

Try to aim ahead of foes and track their movements with your shots, especially your Supers so you don’t end up wasting them.

Tap to move

Brawl Stars is controlled using two virtual sticks as standard, but you can switch this in the settings to a tap to move scheme. Give both a try and see which one suits you better.

Attack as a team

Solo Showdown aside, Brawl Stars is a team game and running in alone will almost always end in disaster. Attacking in numbers and picking off those out of cover is the name of the game. If you can, team up with friends or use the game’s Club system to join forces with other players online. Set up voice chat on Discord or a similar app so you can communicate and share strategies in the heat of battle.

Brawl Stars gem grab

Hiding is a legitimate strategy when you’ve got ten Gems and there are seconds to go.

Run away!

It may sound cowardly, but knowing when to retreat can sometimes be the difference between winning or losing.

If you can get out of danger and stop shooting for a few seconds your Brawler will gradually regain health so you can get back into the fight fully revitalized. Hiding in the grass or using cover can help you escape fatal damage.

Similarly, if you’ve managed to snag a massive wad of Gems in Gem Grab or Stars in Bounty then you absolutely don’t want to die! When the countdown begins for the end of the game, it’s a perfectly legitimate strategy to run away and let the timer tick down to victory.

Watch those circles

Each Brawler will have a circle around them during each game with the friendly team in blue and the enemy team in red. When another circle appears around a Brawler this means they have a Super ready to go.

Keep an eye on which of your foes (and allies) have Supers to burn to avoid an untimely death.


That’s it for our Brawl Stars guide! Do you have any tips and tricks to share with your fellow Brawlers? Punch that comment button below!

Insta360 ONE and ONE X action camera international giveaway!

It’s time for the Sunday giveaway!

A big congratulations to the winner of last week’s OnePlus 6T international giveaway, Offord from Canada.

This week we’re giving away three Insta360 cameras!

In the world of 360 action cameras, it doesn’t get much better than the new Insta360 ONE X.

The Insta360 ONE X was made to provide best-in-class image quality no matter the environment, whether you’re skiing down a snowy mountain or deep-sea diving. It’s able to shoot 5.7K video at 30fps, 4K video at 50fps, and 3K video at 100fps. Perhaps most importantly, the ONE X features FlowState Stabilization, which means you’ll never have to worry about your videos coming out shaky.

We’re not just giving away one camera this week, we’re giving away three… and more! Check out the giveaway widget below to find out how to win. And if you want to see some great Insta360 ONE X footage, be sure to follow Insta360 on Instagram and subscribe on YouTube!

Enter the giveaway here

Insta360 ONE and ONE X action camera international giveaway!

Don’t miss: JBL Charge 4 giveaway

Winners gallery

Terms & conditions

  • This is an international giveaway (except when we can not ship to your country).
  • If we can not ship to your country, you will be compensated with an online gift card of equal MSRP value to the prize.
  • We are not responsible for lost shipments.
  • We are not responsible if your giveaway prize malfunctions.
  • You must be age of majority in your country of residence.
  • We are not responsible for any duties or import fees that you may incur.
  • Only one entry per person; please do not enter multiple email addresses. We will verify all winners and if we detect multiple email addresses by the same person you will not be eligible to win.
  • We reserve all rights to make any changes to this giveaway.
  • This giveaway is operated by Android Authority.
  • The prize will ship when it is available to purchase.

More: Android Authority international giveaway FAQs

The most underrated smartphones of 2018

Sony Xperia XZ2 Compact

We saw plenty of fantastic smartphones in 2018, ranging from the Google Pixel 3 and Samsung Galaxy Note 9 to the Huawei Mate 20 Pro and OnePlus 6T. All that’s even before we get into the ultra-competitive mid-range sector, where phones like the Pocophone F1, Honor 8X, and Realme 2 Pro fought for supremacy.

These phones got plenty of critical (and likely commercial) acclaim, but what about some of the sleeper hits of 2018? Let’s take a look at some of the more underrated phones of the year.


BlackBerry Key2

Blackberry Key2

The new BlackBerry isn’t generating as many headlines as the new Nokia, but that doesn’t mean its phones aren’t worth a look. In fact, the BlackBerry Key2 might just be the best BlackBerry phone since the brand switched to Android.

Believe it or not, some people out there still prefer a physical keypad. The Key2 should make them feel right at home. Its keyboard has a couple of neat tricks too, such as the ability to assign an app to each key or the unique fingerprint scanner embedded in the spacebar. There’s also the convenience key, which gives you another shortcut to pretty much anything.

The BlackBerry flourishes are felt in the software too, such as the BlackBerry Hub for notifications and messages, the Privacy Shade to prevent people snooping over your shoulder, and DTEK security suite. Despite all that, the phone still looks and feels like a stock version of Android rather than something more garish.

The core specs don’t quite fit the $650 price tag though, largely due to the mid-range Snapdragon 660 chipset. You also get 6GB of RAM, 64GB or 128GB of storage, a rear dual camera with two 12MP lenses (one standard and one telephoto), 8MP selfie snapper, and a 3,500mAh battery.

And how many other phones offer a physical keypad anyway?


LG G7 ThinQ

The LG G7.

The company’s first proper flagship of the year delivered almost everything you could want in a high-end LG phone. That means a wide-angle 16MP secondary camera (albeit with a slightly narrower field of view), quad-DAC audio hardware, and a 3.5mm headphone jack.

The company also included extras like water resistance, wireless charging, a Google Assistant button, and an interesting BoomBox speaker. The latter uses the space inside your phone to create louder sound, and you can even amplify the sound by putting it on a hard surface.

Related

Other noteworthy specs include a bright, 6.1-inch LCD display (3,120 x 1,440), 4GB or 6GB of RAM, 64GB or 128GB of expandable storage, a 16MP main camera, and an 8MP selfie snapper.

The phone could do with a bigger battery and it’s not a groundbreaking release, our own Lanh Nguyen wrote in his LG G7 review. He still thought the phone had the “firepower” to duke it out with other flagships. With the device available for just under $600, it certainly seems like a wise purchase.


Motorola One Power

A promo shot, showing the Motorola One Power Motorola

The budget Moto series has seemingly been overshadowed by Huawei and Xiaomi devices, but phones like the Motorola One Power show that the company still has a lot to offer.

The phone’s headline feature is a 5,000mAh battery, which means two-day endurance — even more if you really try — should be well within your grasp. You’ll need to look at the Xiaomi Mi Max 3 and the Honor Note 10 for similar endurance from the two Chinese super-brands.

This isn’t a one-trick pony, however, offering a 16MP and 5MP rear camera pairing, a 12MP selfie snapper with LED flash, USB Type-C connectivity, and a headphone jack. Toss in a Snapdragon 636 chipset, 3GB or 6GB of RAM, 32GB or 64GB of expandable storage, and a 6.2-inch notched full HD+ display, and you’ve got a capable phone for around $226.

You’ll also be glad to hear that the phone is part of the Android One program (hence the “One” in the name, presumably). This means the device is running stock Android for the most part and is guaranteed to receive feature updates for two years and security updates for three years.


Motorola Moto Z3

The front of the Moto Z3.

Motorola’s Verizon-only flagship felt more like a Moto Z2.1 in some ways, with the same fundamental design and 2017’s Snapdragon 835 chipset. However, it’s definitely one of the more underrated smartphones thanks to the $500 price tag.

The Moto Z3 also continued the Moto Mod tradition established back in 2016, allowing you to slap a variety of add-ons onto the back of the device. So if you need a better camera, louder speakers, a gamepad or even a projector, Motorola has your back.

Read: All you need to know about the 5G phones confirmed so far

The Moto Mod system also allows the company to claim it’s the first to launch a 5G-ready phone. Yep, the company confirmed the Moto Z3 will have 5G thanks to a separate Moto Mod accessory in 2019.

Motorola’s phone also sports 4GB or 6GB of RAM, 64GB or 128GB of expandable storage, a dual 12MP rear camera setup (one standard and one monochrome), an 8MP selfie snapper, and a 3,000mAh battery.


Sony Xperia XZ2 Compact

If ever a brand was perennially known for underrated smartphones, it would be Sony. The company has quietly been crafting polished flagships for a while now, even if the camera quality is often inconsistent. If you’re looking for a smaller high-end phone, the Xperia XZ2 Compact is pretty much the winner by default.

Staying with the camera experience, the Compact offers a single 19MP f/2.0 shooter. This camera offers proper 960fps super slow-mo (in 720p or 1080p), predictive capture, and 4K HDR video recording too. Selfies are handled by a bog-standard 5MP front-facing snapper.

Sony has generally focused on multimedia, and this rings true for the Xperia XZ2 Compact as well. It has SDR-to-HDR conversion, front-facing speakers, high resolution audio support, and LDAC support for Bluetooth headsets.

Other noteworthy specs include the Snapdragon 845 chipset, 4GB of RAM, 64GB of expandable storage, a 2,870mAh battery, water resistance, and a rear fingerprint scanner. The phone’s currently available for around $500, so you’re definitely getting a good deal.


Sony Xperia XZ3

The back of the Sony Xperia XZ3.

Two Sony phones on the list? You’d better believe it.

The Xperia XZ3 improved on the XZ2 series in a few meaningful ways.

Gone is the XZ2 Compact’s 5-inch full HD+ LCD screen, being replaced by a 6-inch 1,440p OLED screen. The smaller phone’s 5MP selfie snapper has also been replaced, with the XZ3 featuring a 13MP front-facing camera instead. Sony has also bumped the battery size to 3,300mAh, from the Compact’s 2,870mAh pack. And yes, Sony has tossed in wireless charging too.

Editor’s Pick

Probably the weirdest addition is the dynamic vibration system, however, which is essentially force feedback for video clips and movies. It’s not new — first seen on the standard Xperia XZ2 — but it’s yet another feature missing from the Compact model.

The rest of the phone is largely similar to the XZ2 Compact, so that means a Snapdragon 845 chipset, 4GB of RAM, a 19MP f/2.0 main camera with 960fps super slow-mo, water resistance, USB Type-C, and no headphone jack. You can’t win ’em all, right?


Those are our picks for the most underrated smartphones of 2018. What would you add to the list? Let us know in the comments section!

Fortnite quiz: True or false?

Fortnite Season 7 Battle pass skins

Last week, we tested out just how familiar you are with PUBG Mobile. The results were impressive — 97 percent of all participants got at least seven correct answers out of ten. This week, we’ll test out how much you really know about the mobile version of Fortnite, one of the most popular battle royale games on Android.

The quiz below contains 10 statements that revolve around things like weapons and controls, and your job is to figure out whether they are true or false. If you think you’re a Fortnite expert, you should get the majority of them right.

Click the Start button if you’re up for the challenge — and don’t forget to share your score with friends on social media when you’re done.

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This is the 21st quiz in our regular weekly series. You can take a few of the most popular ones via the links below or check out all of them by clicking here.

Let us know which questions you thought were the hardest and share your result with others in the comment section.