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.

Note: There is a widget embedded within this post, please visit the site to participate in this post’s widget.


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.

Huawei troubles poised to land on US industry

The Huawei logo.

Huawei is in deep trouble. It might not quite be ZTE levels of trouble, but the winds are swirling.

I’ve written about Huawei’s security and telecommunication equipment problems before. Add in trade wars and criminal allegations, and you’re almost caught up.

Previously I’ve tried to get to the bottom of security issues with Huawei, but the exact secrets have never quite been revealed. The Five Eyes nations firmly believe Huawei is more or less a proxy for the Chinese state, but the public hasn’t seen verifiable proof.

Things are changing. The arrest of CFO Meng Wanzhou, daughter of founder Ren Zhengfei, in Canada occurred on Dec. 1. The public wasn’t aware of her detention until Friday, December 7th.

The arrest of Meng Wanzhou is cataclysmic. You may have seen the headlines about Beijing’s fury, threats to Canada, and furor, but it hasn’t taken legal action, as you might have well expected.

The situation currently surrounding Huawei has major implications for worldwide 5G rollout.

Here’s how the South China Morning Post described the aftermath of the arrest:

“The shocked tone rings false. If China’s ambassador to Canada was really so sure Meng’s arrest was wrong, he could have filed a writ of habeas corpus to have her brought immediately before a court to determine the lawfulness of her detention. He did not.”

Meng was eventually freed on a $7.5m bail, and must wear an ankle bracelet along with paying for 24/7 security to ensure she does not attempt to flee Canada, as an extradition hearing is set up. Meng was also forced to surrender all passports and travel documents.

The U.S. Justice Department is seeking to pursue investigations that Huawei violated U.S. sanctions on Iran. While non-U.S. companies are free to deal with Iran — Samsung sells smartphones to Iranians — they can’t sell U.S. technologies like Intel or Qualcomm chipsets or modems. A similar breach of sanctions saw ZTE barred from using U.S. companies’ technology — something later watered down to fines after reported intervention from the White House.

Any such ban would be devastating for Huawei’s business. Of Huawei’s reported 92 core suppliers, 33 are U.S. corporations, including chip makers such as Intel, Qualcomm, Broadcom, and Micron.

Any ban on Huawei utilizing U.S. technology, would cause serious issues for the company’s handsets and 5G technology. Huawei manufactures more of its own chips, including an award-winning processor but this could still cripple it. Huawei is largely a symbol of China’s success, both domestically and abroad.

For us, we need to imagine if Tim Cook or Sundar Pichai were arrested in China. The uproar would be immense, and many would feel China would be overreaching.  In this case, the U.S. involving Canada adds a third party, and Canadians may be anxious about retaliation from Beijing having been caught up in the Huawei mess.

Additionally, the U.S. is still pressuring its allies to avoid Huawei telecommunications equipment. Japan is the latest country to exclude both Huawei and ZTE from the 5G network rollout. BT in the UK also recently decided to bar Huawei equipment from its 5G rollout, and remove existing Huawei 4G infrastructure as well.

Why?

Spy agencies come in from the cold

Five Eyes world map

We know that the Five Eyes (U.S., U.K., Canada, Australia, New Zealand — often abbreviated FVEY) attorneys general met this year from an Australian government release later removed from a Home Affairs website, though you can read it here.

Then came a rare set of speeches by top intelligence chiefs. These were significant, even if the words were moderate and indirect.

On Oct. 29, the first ever public speech was made by head of the Australian Signals Directorate Mike Burgess, following Australia’s ban on Huawei’s involvement in 5G networks:

These twin themes of technological and strategic economic shifts can be seen in the government’s recent decision to prohibit telecommunications carriers from using high-risk vendors in 5G networks.

This decision, which was not taken lightly, was supported by technical advice from my agency, all elements of my agency. Our intelligence and offensive cyber experts that led the formation of our cyber security advice. Offence informs defence.

Then came the second-ever public speech by an MI6 boss, Alex Younger on Dec. 3, who sounded a general warning over technology:

But I have also witnessed the damage new technologies can do in the hands of a skilled opponent unrestrained by any notion of law or morality, as well as the potentially existential challenge the data age poses to the traditional operating methods of a secret intelligence agency.

We and our allies face a battle to make sure technology works to our advantage, not to that of our opponents.

“We need to decide the extent to which we re going to be comfortable with Chinese ownership of these technologies and these platforms in an environment where some of our allies have taken a quite definite position,” Younger said in later comments reported by the BBC.

Three days later, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service’s top spy, David Vigneault, gave his first public speech.

“Plainly said: there is state-sponsored espionage in Canada,” said Vigneault.

None of these spymasters mentioned Huawei or ZTE, but you don’t need to have beaten an Escape Room game to understand the warnings.

Then from the top echelon of the U.S. seat of power came the hugely significant speech by Vice President Mike Pence, a truly extraordinary attack on China at The Hudson Institute. Hostile and directly mentioning China no less than 91 times in remarks heard around the world.

How much does hurting Huawei hurt US networks and allies?

Huawei is banned from involvement with 5G rollout in the U.S., Japan, Australia, and New Zealand. Canada may follow suit, with a former prime minister calling for the same limitation. Huawei remains active with 20 5G contracts with other major carriers, and it’s actively involved in 5G rollout and testing in the U.K., despite spy chief concerns.

At the very least, carriers in countries banning Huawei will have a more expensive and difficult rollout of 5G technology. That means consumers will have to wait longer and pay more for 5G when it becomes available. Countries will have to rely on Swedish giant Ericsson and Finnish Nokia, a two-horse race for most major wireless bands. Samsung is a contender in mmWave very high spectrum bands only.

Any country banning Huawei will have a more difficult rollout of 5G technology.

This will likely mean slower U.S. uptake of 5G wireless. We’re already seeing test environments in some major urban centers, but significant 5G penetration outside of major cities soon is unlikely.

The U.S. has legitimate concerns about the importance of 5G infrastructure. 5G will, in as little as two or three years, take over from even wired installations where the traditional routing of major voice and data takes place. Significant and nationwide telecommunications infrastructure could be at risk to Chinese influence, however small, and however much Huawei protests its innocence.

The next major act of significance will be the outcome of Meng Wanzhou’s extradition, and the response from China. For now, China is incensed, but not retaliating. If that changes, U.S. lag on 5G infrastructure could be the least of its worries.

Here are the 10 best Christmas tech gifts under $100

Christmas is not that far away, but plenty of you out there might have put off getting gifts until the last minute. That moment has now arrived, and some of you might not know what to get your family, friends, or colleagues.

Good news! There are plenty of quality gift ideas out there that should make anyone happy, and they don’t all cost an arm and a leg. Here are our picks for the 10 best Christmas gifts you can buy for under $100.

Roku Ultra 4K streaming media box

Best Christmas gifts - Roku

If your family or friends are interested in turning their television into a truly smart TV, the Roku Ultra 4K streaming media box is the best way to do just that. It supports streaming even from 4K video services, and they can even connect the box physically to a network router with its built-in Ethernet port for the best possible data connection. The Roku Ultra also comes with a remote that supports voice commands for searching for your favorite TV show or movie without a lot of tedious button pushing. It even ships with a pair of JBL headphones, which connect to the remote.

Editor’s Pick

The Roku OS offers access to thousands of streaming services, including all the major ones like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video and others. The Roku Channel also offers a selection of movies and TV shows for free, with ads. You can get the Roku Ultra from Amazon right now for $79.99.

Amazon Echo smart speaker

Best Christmas gifts - Echo

The leading smart speaker brand comes from Amazon, and it’s easy to see why. The Echo lineup of smart speakers lets people get information like news and weather with just their voice, along with fun stuff like playing music playlists, games, and more. You can even use Echo smart speakers to send commands to other smart devices, go shopping on Amazon, and more.

Editor’s Pick

The standard Amazon Echo speaker not only looks good, with its stitched fabric material you can get in different colors, but it also sounds great, thanks to its 2.5-inch woofer and its 0.6-inch tweeter. You can get this great Christmas gift at the moment on Amazon for just $69.99.

Barnes & Noble Nook tablet

Best Christmas gifts- Nook Barnes & Noble

Amazon’s family of Fire tablets are made for budget audiences, but they are limited by Fire OS and its app system. Installing standard Android apps requires side loading the Google Play Store, which can be a pain for anyone who gets one as a gift this holiday.

Editor’s Pick

Barnes & Noble is trying once again to go after Amazon’s tablet audience with its latest Nook tablet. It has a 7-inch IPS display and a resolution of 600 x 1,024. There’s 16GB of onboard storage which can be expanded to 128GB with the built-in microSD slot. Best of all, this is a true Android tablet, which means the person who gets this gift can download almost any Android app via the Google Play store. You can snap up the new Barnes & Noble Nook tablet right now for just $49.99, either online or at your closest Barnes & Noble location.

Amazon Kindle Paperwhite eReader

Best Christmas gifts - Kindle

 

Many of your friends or family might not want a full tablet, but they may still love to read. In that case, there’s really no better gift than the Amazon Kindle Paperwhite eReader. The e-ink screen it uses makes it easy to read text, and the 300 ppi glare-free display works great even in direct sunlight.

The standard Kindle Paperwhite has 8GB of storage — enough to store thousands of books. Users can even download magazines and audiobook to the Kindle Paperwhite. Amazon offers not just Wi-Fi hardware but also free cellular connections too, meaning your friends or family members can buy and download eBooks almost anywhere. Finally, the battery life should last at least a few weeks, even with heavy use. You can get the Amazon Kindle Paperwhite eReader right now for the special discount price of $99.99.

Nokia 2 smartphone

Best Christmas gifts - Nokia 2

Many people would like to get a new smartphone for the holidays, but you don’t have to spend tons of money to get one. The Nokia 2 comes in at $99, and it has a big 4,100mAh battery inside. Anyone you give this pone to should be able to use it for up to two days on a single charge, which could be pretty helpful.

The Nokia 2 also has a 5-inch display, a Qualcomm Snapdragon 212 processor, 1GB of RAM, 8GB of expandable onboard storage, an 8MP rear camera, and a 5MP front camera. It’s not really meant as a primary phone, but given its price and battery life, this can be a great gift for anyone who wants a secondary phone. It’s available now on Amazon, again for just $99.

JBL Flip 4 Bluetooth speaker

Best Christmas gifts - JBL

While smart speakers are cool, they don’t always offer the best sound quality. If your family or friends want a better audio experience while playing music from your smartphone, get a Bluetooth wireless speaker for them. Our sister site SoundGuys says the best Bluetooth speaker under $100 is the JBL Flip 4

Read more: Best Bluetooth speakers under $100

Not only does this speaker offer excellent sound quality for the price, it also has a Connect+ plus button. This allows the JBL Flip 4 to connect to up to 100 other speakers with this feature, which means you can buy one for each member of a family, and they can link them all up so the music plays everywhere. It’s also got a an IPX7 waterproof rating, which means your friends can take this to the pool once summer starts again with no worries. Finally, the battery should last up to 12 hours if they don’t have the volume all the way up. It’s available now on Amazon for $74.95.

Anker Soundcore Liberty Air wireless earbuds

Best Christmas gifts - Anker

More and more smartphones are shipping without the traditional headphone jack, which means your family and friends might be looking for some good wireless earbuds. Again, the team at SoundGuys has been trying them al. The best ones they found for under $100 is the Anker Soundcore Liberty Air earbuds.

Read more: Best wireless earbuds under $100

For such a low price for wireless earbuds, you get some solid audio quality with this Anker product, and it supports Bluetooth 5.0 for the best wireless connection. Indeed, our testing found these devices rarely dropped a signal, which is an issue with earbuds at lower price points. It only needs to be paired with your smartphone once, so when you take them out of the case, they should just work. They are also IPX5 certified for water resistance, which means they should be excellent for when you are working out at the gym. Finally, they have a battery life of up to 4.82 hours. They are available now from Amazon for $79.99

Samsung Wireless Charger Duo pad

Best Christmas gifts - Samsung Samsung.com

It’s likely some of your family and friends own a smartphone, or maybe even two, with wireless charging capabilities. It’s also possible that they own a smartwatch as well. For people who own both, you might want to get the Samsung Wireless Charger Duo pad, which can charge up two smartphones, or a phone and a smartwatch, at the same time.

Editor’s Pick

The larger pad supports any Qi-based smartphone, such as the Samsung Galaxy S9, the Galaxy Note 9,  or even phones like the Apple iPhone XSLG V40 ThinQ, and Google Pixel 3. The large pad can also be raised up so whoever gets this gift can watch videos hands-free on the phone while it charges up. The smaller pad can also charge up any Qi-based phone, or a smartwatch with the tech like the Samsung Galaxy Watch and the older Gear watches. It’s available now on Amazon for a discounted price of $79.84.

Anker PowerCore 20,100mAh portable charger

Best Christmas gifts - Anker

While wireless charging pads can be convenient, they are also not the fastest way to charge up your smartphone, nor are they usually all that compact. The Anker PowerCore 20,100mAh portable charger is the perfect gift for someone who wants to keep their phone powered up without the need to go searching for an open outlet.

Editor’s Pick

This portable charger should be able to power up their smartphone several times on a single charge with its large 20,100mAh battery. It also uses Anker’s own PowerIQ and VoltageBoost technology to charge up the phone as quickly as possible. In fact, it has two USB charging ports so it can handle two devices at the same time. Yet, for all of its capacity, it weighs just 12.5 ounces, which means it won’t be hard for whoever receives it to take it with them on a trip. It’s available on Amazon now for as low as $39.99.

Garmin vivofit 4 fitness tracker

Best Christmas gifts - Garmin

As we end 2018, many people are looking to 2019 as the year they finally get back in shape. If someone on your gift giving list wants to do that, one of the best ways they can keep track of their physical activities is with a fitness tracker. The  Garmin vivofit 4 not only will allow them to do just that, but it also won’t hurt your wallet when you buy one for them.

Editor’s Pick

The vivofit 4 is much lighter and slimmer to wear than a standard smartwatch, yet it can keep track of the number of steps your gift receiver takes, how many calories they have burned, and more. It even has a feature called Move IQ, which will automatically detect if they are walking, running, biking, using an elliptical, or swimming. Its color display is easy to read, its battery life should last up to a year, and it’s IP5 certified for water resistance, which means you can swim in the pool while wearing it. You can get the Garmin vivofit 4 from Amazon for $59.99.

Affiliate disclosure: We may receive compensation in connection with your purchase of products via links on this page. The compensation received will never influence the content, topics or posts made in this blog. See our disclosure policy for more details.

PUBG Mobile: Test out how much you really know about the action-packed game

pubg mobile android game moto g6

PUBG Mobile is one of the most popular Android games at the moment with well over 100 million downloads. You play as a mercenary who parachutes onto an island along with up to 99 other players. Once you land, you have to find weapons, ammo, and other supplies, and then try to take out as many other players as possible. The last man standing wins.

In this quiz, we’ll test out just how familiar you really are with the battle royale game. The questions revolve around weapons, controls, vehicles, maps, and more. If you consider yourself an expert at PUBG Mobile, you should get the majority of them right.

Are you ready to take on the challenge? Press the Start button below to get started — and don’t forget to share your score on social media at the end.

Note: There is a widget embedded within this post, please visit the site to participate in this post’s widget.


This is the 20th 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.

Fortnite Season 7 guide: Start date, Battle Pass, skins, map changes, challenges, and more!

Fortnite Season 7 start date, battle pass, skins, challenges

Fortnite Season 7 is fast approaching, and it looks like a cold snap is about to hit Epic Games’ hit battle royale game. With all the confusion over Season 6’s giant cube finally put to bed, the Fortnite team has begun teasing a winter theme to coincide with the Christmas season.

Below we’ll be piecing together all the clues and leaks, and running through everything we know so far. Here you’ll find the Fortnite Season 7 start time, Battle Pass details, map changes, weekly challenges, new skins, and more! Check back frequently to stay up to date on the ever evolving world of Fortnite!

Put down your Llama Bell and check out the rest of our Fortnite content:


When does Fortnite Season 7 start?

Fortnite Season 6 and the Season 6 Battle Pass end this Thursday. Fortnite Season 7 starts later that same day on Dec. 6. Here are the usual start times for Fornite Seasons:

  • 4 a.m. ET
  • 1 a.m. PT
  • 10 a.m. CEST
  • 9 a.m. BST

Epic confirmed the Season 7 release date on Twitter just three days before the mayhem is due to kick off. Dec. 6 also happens to coincide with The Game Awards. The show’s host, Geoff Keighley, confirmed that a big Fortnite announcement and “world premiere” will be announced during the event.

While there’s a chance we might catch our first glimpse of the Fortnite Season 7 trailer at the show, one of Epic’s PR representatives has teased that the announcement is much more significant than the new Season launch.

Epic Games’ worldwide creative director of Fortnite will be in attendance for the big reveal, as well as mega-popular Fortnite streamer Ninja, who is both nominated for an award and presenting.

When will Fortnite Season 7 end?

The Fortnite Season 7 end date should fall ten weeks after the start on Thursday, Feb. 14, 2019.

How much does the Fortnite Season 7 Battle Pass cost?

Like the previous seasons, the Fortnite Season 7 Battle Pass should cost 950 V-Bucks. You can buy 1,000 V-Bucks for $10. While there’s a free Battle Pass for players who don’t want to spend their hard earned cash, you’ll only unlock the most sought after exclusive skins, emotes, and other cosmetics by completing challenges to progress through the premium Battle Pass’ 100 levels.


Fortnite Season 7 Theme and Map Changes

Fortnite season 7 iceberg castle

After an exploding giant cube transformed Loot Lake into Leaky Lake in the closing weeks of Season 6, things have gotten a little quieter around the Fortnite map — that’s all about to change.

All the signs point to a winter theme for Season 7, with a possible medieval theme once the Christmas period comes to an end. Here’s what we know so far.

Editor’s Pick

The first sign of a cold front came with the appearance of a blizzard in the middle of November, which was visible when peering out beyond the map from Flush Factory.

A week later, the snow storm parted to reveal a massive iceberg. At the same time, players started noticing you could now see your avatar’s breath in the cold when standing on the starting island. 

The map changes seem to suggest we’ll be treated to a range of skins and other items that fit a winter theme. There’s also the chance the iceberg could collide with an existing area of the map — data-mined files are suggesting Tilted Towers could (again!) be a target.

The winter theme was later all-but-confirmed by Epic Games thanks to a teaser image accompanying the Season 7 release date. The image shows an icy figure wearing a crown that also doubles up as a mountain with a tiny skier on the right side. The caption “a bitter ice spreads” is also a pretty big giveaway!

However, this could all just be the tip of the iceberg (get it?).

Eagle-eyed players have now noticed the top of a medieval-style castle poking out of the iceberg (see image above), indicating the rest of the building is encased in the ice.

Going as close to the iceberg as possible from r/FortNiteBR

This could also tie-in with the portal technology in the Wailing Woods laboratory, which shows a reflection of a castle at certain angles.

We’ll know more as Epic begins to further tease Season 7 this week ahead of the full launch.


Fortnite Season 7 Skins

Fortnite Season 7 winter event

Fortnite Season 7 Battle Pass Skins

We’ve yet to see any of the new skins for Season 7. As soon as we do we’ll post them here!


Fortnite Season 7 Weekly Challenges

Fortnite Season 7 start date, skins, battle pass

To get all the new stuff in Season 7 you’ll need to complete Free Pass Weekly Challenges and Battle Pass Weekly Challenges!

Previous weekly challenges will be available even after a new week starts, we’ll list them below in reverse chronological order when a new one goes live (the most recent week first). We’ll also include some handy tips for the trickier challenges.


That’s all for this Fortnite Season 7 guide. What are you most looking forward to this season and what would you like to see in Season 8? Let us know in the comments!

What will smartphones of the future look like? Here are 6 (crazy) predictions

smartphones of the future

My first mobile phone was the Ericsson A1018s. I bought it at a gas station in 1999 when I was 11 years old. Some of its biggest features were changing the ringtone (there were 12 options) and caller ID — impressive, I know. You could also customize the device by getting a keyboard plate with a different color.

Technology has come a long way since. Today’s smartphones sport large touchscreen displays, impressive cameras, and high-tech features like 3D facial recognition. While phones were primarily used for making calls back in the day, now we use them for things like listening to music, browsing the web, playing games, and watching cat videos on YouTube.

Editor’s Pick

If you told me back in 1999 what these devices would be capable of in around 20 years, I’d call you crazy — and I wouldn’t be alone. Back then, no one could have predicted the impact phones would have on our lives. It would have sounded like science fiction.

This got me thinking: what will smartphones of the future look like? What features will these devices have in 20, 30, or even 50 years that seem like science fiction today? Here’s what I’ve come up with.

Mind control

mind control

Back in the day, the main way of using a phone was a physical keypad. This was eventually replaced by the touchscreens we use today. With services like Google Assistant and Samsung Bixby, we can now interact with our devices just by using our voices.

I think the next step in this evolution is mind control. The technology would allow you to perform every task you can do via touch or voice with your mind. You could open an app of choice, play a specific video on some futuristic version of YouTube, and even edit images with your thoughts. You could also send a text, control the screen brightness, or create a movie from the videos you’ve captured — you get the picture.

Editor’s Pick

Using smartphones would be a lot faster with mind control. You’d no longer have to search for an app to open it or stretch your finger all the way to the top of the screen to tap it. You could perform any task in a heartbeat.

We’re still far, far away from something like this becoming a reality, but scientists are making progress in this field. As we reported last year, Facebook’s Building 8 division is developing technology to allow people to type with their minds. The typing speed targeted is 100 words per minute, which is about five times faster when compared to typing on our smartphones.

Scientists at MIT are also working on something similar with a device called AlterEgo, which lets the user converse with machines with only their thoughts. Here’s hoping any such technology in the future doesn’t require you wear a weird contraption on your head to use it.

Even though the idea of using a smartphone with your thoughts seems crazy now, it just may become a thing decades down the line. Fingers crossed!

Over-the-air charging

the future of smartphones -- charging

Let’s face it: the battery life of the average smartphone sucks. Even if you have a high-end phone like the Mate 20 Pro with its massive 4,200mAh battery, you’re still only looking at around two days of average use. Once the device runs out of juice, you either have to plug it in for a couple of hours or place it on a wireless charging pad, if your phone supports it.

Things could be quite different in the future. A company called Energous is developing technology to charge devices over the air. Place your phone within three feet of the WattUp Mid Field transmitter and it will start charging right away. I love this idea, but let’s take it a step further.

With over-the-air charging, you’d never have to worry about running out of juice again.

Imagine a future where these transmitters are a lot more powerful and can charge devices over-the-air at great distances. They could be placed across countries, just like cell phone towers today, and would constantly charge your smartphone from afar, making sure it never runs out of juice. These charging transmitters would be so powerful, they’d keep your smartphone’s battery at 100 percent all the time. You’d never have to worry about battery life again and would get rid of all those pesky charging cables for good.

The technology wouldn’t be exclusive to smartphones either. It would constantly charge all your gadgets, from Chromebooks, to Bluetooth headphones, and smartwatches. It could even charge your electric car, which is what we’ll probably all be driving in the future.

Stretchable phones

stretchable smartphones of the future

The next big thing in display technology in the near future seems to be flexible displays. We recently saw the first foldable phone, the Royole FlexPai, and we expect many more from companies like Samsung, LG, and Huawei.

When I think about the next technological breakthrough in this area — decades away — I envision stretchable phones. Instead of unfolding a phone for more screen like with the FlexPai, you’d stretch it out to increase its size, sort of like a rubber band. All you’d have to do is pull the phone from two of its corners diagonally.

Read more: Foldable phones with flexible displays – Here are the ones we know about so far

This type of design would let you quickly increase the size of the device when watching videos and make it smaller to fit in your pocket. For it to work, the vast majority of components would have to be stretchable, not just the display.

Obviously, there would be a limit to how far you can stretch a device. If that limit was 50 percent of the size of a phone, for example, it would mean you could transform a 6-inch display into a 9-inch one.

futuristic phones

Work is already being done in the field of stretchable displays, but we’re a long way off from fully stretchable phones becoming a reality. Samsung announced a prototype of a stretchable display last year which can be dented up to 12mm without causing damage — shown in the image above. That display just bounces back to its original flat shape — similar to a trampoline — so it’s not really what I have in mind for the future.

Engineering researchers at Michigan State University have also developed the first stretchable integrated circuit and see a future for stretchable electronics.

“Our work could soon lead to printed displays that can easily be stretched to larger sizes, as well as wearable electronics and soft robotics applications,” said Chuan Wang, assistant professor at Michigan State University in a releases from the school.

In addition to making phones larger or smaller, stretchable displays would also add a new dimension to things like gaming and watching videos. Imagine playing a first-person shooter game and the display flexing out while someone is shooting at you — the experience could be a lot more immersive.

Changing colors

phones of the future

Phones come in a variety of colors and choosing the best one can often be a struggle. Black, silver, and white give off a more classic vibe, but they’re also boring. Red, green, or purple colorways stand out more, but can give devices a toyish, less professional look. With smartphones of the future, you may not have to choose anymore.

Imagine a phone with a completely transparent back made from a glass-like material that fully absorbs light. The device would have one or more LED lights inside, the color of which you could change in the settings of the phone (or maybe with your mind!). When you choose orange, the entire back cover would completely absorb the color of the light and look exactly the same, almost as if it were painted on.

You would be able to change the color of your smartphone as frequently as you’d like.

This technology would allow you to switch between different colors as frequently as you’d like. The feature could also have a mode to change the color automatically on a daily basis. With a few LED lights inside properly positioned, you could also create gradient colors, like what the Huawei P20 Pro has.

This new glass-like material (as well as the display) would also be virtually unbreakable, so you wouldn’t have to worry about it cracking if you drop your phone. Unlike glass phones today, it would also be resistant to fingerprints.

OLED and E-ink in one

smartphones of the future

OLED displays are great for watching videos and playing games, but they aren’t the best for reading. E-ink displays like those in Amazon’s Kindle e-readers are a much better option. I’ve been using a Kindle Paperwhite for years now and love the fact my eyes don’t get strained after reading for a few hours. It also lets me read outside, under direct sunlight.

This is more or less impossible with OLED displays. Sure, features like night mode filter out blue light and can even turn the screen to monochrome, but even when enabled OLED displays still don’t come close to matching e-ink technology in terms of reading comfort.

Editor’s Pick

The smartphones of the future I envision would combine OLED and e-ink technology into one, likely killing dedicated e-readers. With a simple tap in the settings, you could transform an OLED display into an e-ink screen for reading books, articles, and various documents without all that light shining into your face. An e-ink display is also a lot less power hungry, which could mean longer battery life.

Unfortunately, something like this is impossible at this point. Apple had a similar idea back in 2011 when it applied for a patent regarding a hybrid e-ink/OLED display, but we haven’t seen this technology hit the market yet. There are phones available today featuring both display technologies, but they don’t combine them into one.

The YotaPhone 3 features an AMOLED display on the front and an e-ink display on the back. Mobvoi’s TicWatch Pro wearable also which lets users switch between an LCD and OLED display for improved battery life, but even this doesn’t quite match the kind of futuristic hybrid display technology we could see in the coming decades.

Will there even be smartphones in the future?

Smartphones of the future may not be smartphones at all. These devices may take on a whole new form factor, which will enable us to perform the same tasks as smartphones do today — and more.

I see a future where smartphones in their current form get replaced by what look like regular glasses. Yes, I know we’ve already seen devices like Google Glass, which failed miserably. But the product I have in mind goes beyond Google’s pet project. It’s sort of like Google Glass on steroids.

My version of futuristic glasses would let you make calls, watch videos, listen to music…

My version of futuristic glasses would let you make and receive calls. When someone rings you, you’d see their name/image in front of your eyes. When you answer the call, you’d immediately hear the caller without having to use an earphone. The glasses would use bone conduction technology or something even more high-tech. They’d also be able to play music, offer turn-by-turn navigation, and read the emails and texts you’ve received. All these things could also be displayed in front of your eyes using AR technology.

Of course, the glasses would feature a camera on board. When you’d want to take a picture, a frame would show up in front of your eyes, showing exactly what the camera will capture. Say the word “Snap” in your head and the image will be taken.

Thanks to AR technology, the glasses would project a screen/image in front of you, allowing you to watch your favorite shows, play games, see the images you’ve captured with the camera, and browse the web. That means you wouldn’t have to buy a dedicated TV, which would save you money as well as space in your home.

Vizux

With these glasses, you’d also be able to see 3D holograms of people. Just imagine sitting in your living room and watching Marilyn Monroe singing you Happy Birthday Mr. President. Or Fik-Shun dancing. Or porn. The experience would be extremely immersive.

A lot of companies are already working in the field of smart and connected glasses. In addition to Google, Intel showed off a pair of smart glasses this year, which project a stream of information in front of you (directions, notifications…). But unfortunately, the company has already given up on the technology. An Amazon-backed company called North is working on a similar idea with their glasses called Focals, which are expected to go on sale by the end of this year. Then there are mixed reality headsets like the Microsoft HoloLens, which brings holograms in front of your eyes — see how it works in the video below.

So the glasses I have in mind would combine smartphone capabilities with holograms and other features offered by today’s smart glasses. It’s an interesting idea, but let’s go crazy and take it a step further. Imagine these futuristic glasses being replaced by a small computer placed in your brain. You’d be able to receive calls by hearing the voice of the caller in your head, just like your thoughts. You’d listen to music the same way, hear GPS direction, and more.

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Additionally, you’d be able to take pictures, watch videos, play games, and see holograms. But instead of the images being projected in front of you by the glasses, the computer in your head would project them through your eyes. Essentially, this computer would be capable of doing the exact same things as the smart glasses of the future, but it would be less intrusive. Well, kind of. It would have to be placed in your brain, but at least you wouldn’t have to put it on and off every five minutes. It would also be impossible to lose it or for someone to steal it.

It all sounds like science fiction. Something you’d expect to see in a cartoon like The Jetsons. But hey, perhaps it will become a real thing in the future. After all, work is already being done in this area.

Elon Musk founded a company called Neuralink last year, which is working in the field of “neural lace” technology. The idea is to implant tiny electrodes into the human brain to allow them to communicate directly with machines. The technology would also enable you to upload and download your thoughts — seriously. With that in mind, I feel like anything is possible in the future. However, the current development of the technology is still far behind my wild imagination.


I see a future where everything is connected and our smartphones – or whatever replaces it – can communicate seamlessly with virtually every device. As long as you have it with you, your front door will open once you get near it, you’ll be able to unlock your car and start the engine, and even go through the mechanical gate at the subway and airport if the ticket is saved on your phone. It’d be fantastic — at least until your phone gets stolen.

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So that’s it for my thoughts on what I’d like to see from mobile devices in the future. Now it’s your turn. Think about what features smartphones of the future could bring to the table and share them with us in the comments below!