We asked, you told us: Manual camera controls are nice, but only sometimes gets used

Huawei Mate 10 Pro camera manual controls

Whether you spend $300 or $1,000 on a smartphone, chances are you will be able to capture decent-looking photos. Of course, there will likely be a quality difference when using auto settings.

One way to improve images is by using manual camera controls found on some handsets. By learning how to properly set the ISO, shutter speed, and other settings, users can typically squeeze a better-looking frame from whatever phone they have in their pocket.

So we decided to ask you, do you use manual mode? Here’s what you had to say.

Do you use manual mode on your smartphone’s camera?

Results

Averaging out the roughly 30 thousand votes across the website and YouTube, most of this week’s poll participants say that they only sometimes use manual mode. As multiple people went on to comment, the primary reason why they do not use more frequently is that it takes time to set up. Relying more on auto allows them to take out their smartphone and snap a photo quickly.

Editor’s Pick

Following the top answer, with 29.5 percent and 24 percent of the votes respectively, we have “Rarely” and “I’ve never used it.” These results appear to follow in line with the reasoning that voters gave for the same answer. Either it’s just much more easy to take their phone out to grab a photo, or in some cases, their handsets do not offer a manual mode option.

Noteworthy comments

Here are some of the best comments from last week’s poll explaining why they voted the way that they did:

  • Most of the time, the only time I tend to use auto mode is one when I need to take something quickly.
  • Samsung galaxy s9 plus here and I use it occasionally for some shots that might benefit from the extra settings.
  • Despite me having a P20 Pro, I don’t actually use Pro mode much at all.
  • I am a horrible photographer. In my case, the best camera is the one my friend has on him / her. But i do try to improve Auto shots by adjusting professional settings. Maybe i’m getting better, but i wouldn’t bet on it.
  • Pixel 3 here. So never.
  • I use pro mode when I want to get the absolute best shot that my phone can get. In great lighting I’ll use auto when just snapping a quick photo here and there, but when I want the best output Pro mode is what I turn to.

That’s it for this week, everyone. As always, thanks for voting, thanks for the comments, and don’t forget to let us know what you thought of the results below.

We asked, you told us: Oppo Reno’s shark fin selfie camera is neat, but is a no-go

Oppo Reno Hands On shark fin popup camera

Urged on by customers, smartphone companies have done their best to eliminate screen bezel. While this has resulted in some introducing features such as notches, others such as Oppo, Samsung, and Vivo have introduced motorized pop-up cameras.

Each company has taken on the pop-up mechanism in its own but relatively similar fashion. Oppo Reno’s camera module, on the other hand, slides up at an angle. This shark fin design is unique and differentiates it from the competition.

So we decided to ask you, are you a fan of the Oppo Reno’s shark fin selfie camera? Here’s what you had to say.

Oppo Reno shark fin selfie camera

Results

Out of the roughly 23 thousand votes across the website, Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube, just over 50 percent were against the Oppo Reno’s shark fin camera and flash module. Similar to past polls, voters on the site were the only ones to differ from the rest of the pack as they voted for the unique design.

Looking through the comment section, it appears as those most aren’t actually against the shark fin design, but instead against motorized/moving pieces on smartphones. Just like what we’ve seen with the Samsung Galaxy Fold, pieces of debris can quickly get between moving parts and cause damage. Many fear that something similar would happen, causing the front-facing camera to no longer work.

Noteworthy comments

Here are some of the best comments from last week’s poll explaining why they voted the way that they did:

  • Wonder what happens the first time you drop it on the top edge while the camera is extended? The current mania for bezel free phones is ludicrous. It offer no real world benefit. So you get a couple of extra lines of text on a web page. So what? And all the compromises that end up being made to achieve that are creating phones that are less functional, not more.
  • I like the design, but had to vote nay because of no secure face unlock and no water resistance. I’ve gotten spoiled by no notch, no hole punch, better than average water resistance, stereo speakers, dual front cameras, and 3D face mapping.
  • I think it looks good, tho a hole punch is better because it doesn’t have compromises like water resistance
  • If durability isn’t a problem it’s much more preferable than a punch hole or water drop camera. However, we rarely use the selfie camera so we couldn’t care less if there is one at all. I’m guessing we may be in the minority in that sense. Although we don’t know anyone personally that does that every day or even every other day save for special occasions.
  • I can see dirt getting stuck in there or scratching it up maybe the leaver gets broken it gets pulled on
  • Why people hate things that are different? I think it looks cool lol I welcome all change

That’s it for this week, everyone. As always, thanks for voting, thanks for the comments, and don’t forget to let us know what you thought of the results below.

We asked, you told us: Most don’t see the benefit of a smartwatch or fitness tracker

fossil sport neon yellow oled display on wrist

Several years ago, it looked like wearables might be the next big thing in the technology world. As you can probably assume, they haven’t taken off in the way many hoped they would.

Despite this, over the last several years, we’ve seen a growing number of companies try their hand at making smartwatches, fitness trackers and other wearables. So we decided to ask you, do you own and use a smart wearable? Here is what you had to say.

Do you own a smartwatch, fitness tracker, or other wearable?

Results

When we average out the roughly 50,000 votes between the poll on the website and YouTube, we’re left with the above results. Surprisingly, despite a seemingly large adoption rate of various smart devices, most of you don’t wear or even own a smartwatch, fitness tracker, or other wearables.

It is interesting to learn that more of you have smartwatches than fitness trackers. Looking through the comments, it’s pretty clear that most wear smartwatches so that they can look at notifications in addition to tracking their fitness. Personally, this is why I wear a smartwatch over something like a Fitbit.

Editor’s Pick

Going forward, I can see the adoption rate of smartwatches continue to grow. While Wear OS has been stumbling, Samsung’s Tizen-powered smartwatches and the Apple Watch continue to be more popular. As companies bake in reliable fitness tech, sales of dedicated health trackers might drop.

Noteworthy comments

Here are some of the best comments from last week’s poll explaining why they voted the way that they did:

  • I wear a regular watch, it tells the time.
  • Galaxy Watch(Midnight Black), every day and night. I charge it in the mornings and evenings when I have little use for it so that I have it throughout the day to help manage notifications, communication & small tasks and then can also track my sleep at night with Samsung Health.
  • I own a Swiss watch which increases (or at least holds) value over time, best decision over any of these options
  • I use a Mobvoi ticwatch E. I got it and Mobvoi’s ticpods free on indigogo last year and both have been really great!
  • Apple Watch Series 4. The best of the best.
  • I own a bunch of them. The only one I use, though, is my Gear S3. It’s reliable and useable. It has MST too.
  • Well for rough step tracking the pedometer inside my smartphone is more than enough and is very consistent so no need for me.
  • It got damaged. So now I used my regular watch

That’s it for this week, everyone. As always, thanks for voting, thanks for the comments, and don’t forget to let us know what you thought of the results below.

Did you buy a Samsung Galaxy S10? (Poll of the Week)

Last week’s poll summary: Last week, we asked you to choose between the Samsung Galaxy Fold and the Huawei Mate X. Out of over 60,000 total votes, roughly 39 percent of voters said they’d buy the Mate X over the Galaxy Fold. Just 28 percent would choose the Galaxy Fold over the Mate X. What’s strange is that 30 percent of voters said they’d choose neither phone.


The Samsung Galaxy S10 lineup goes on sale this week, and we want to know if you’re buying one.

Overall, we’ve heard very little complaints from our readers with the S10 family so far. Not only do the smartphones pack in all the features you could want, Samsung is catering to a wide variety of users this year.

Don’t miss

If you’re after the biggest phone with the best specs you can get, the Galaxy S10 Plus is for you. Meanwhile, the Galaxy S10 is still a pretty big phone and has a very similar spec sheet, though you do get a few less features. The Galaxy S10e, Samsung’s answer to the iPhone XR, is a much smaller, more affordable phone.

The problem is, these phones are pricey. The cheapest Galaxy S10e starts at $749.99, the S10 proper will cost you $899.99, and the S10 Plus starts at $999.99.

Did you order any one of these phones? If so, which one? Cast your vote in the poll below, and speak up in the comments with your thoughts. Oh, and our Galaxy S10 Plus review will likely drop sometime very soon, so stay tuned for that!

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

We asked, you told us: Playmojis are fun, but you don’t use them

Google Pixel 3 Love Playmoji

Augmented reality, much like virtual reality, never really took off the way that many believed it would. While some are using it in creative ways, most people aren’t walking around holding their smartphones in front of their faces, augmenting the world around them.

Despite this, Google continues to work on its AR Playground platform. For example, in just the last two weeks, the Silicon Valley company has released two new Playmoji packs.

So we decided to ask you, do you use Google’s Playmoji? Here’s what you had to say.

Do you use Playmoji?

Results

Unsurprisingly, 39 percent of those who participated in this week’s poll stated that they have never used Playmoji. Following that, 24 percent of the votes marked that they’ve used Playmoji once or twice and six percent said they use it all of the time.

As a Pixel owner, I can honestly say that I’ve used Playmoji when new AR packs were released, but I’ve never taken out my phone and dropped Iron Man into the scene because I thought it would enhance my photos. For me, the AR technology is fun to play with, but it isn’t something I would use once a day, week, or even month.

The sentiment towards Playmoji appears to remain unchanged for non-Pixel owners. While nine percent of the voters said they would use Google’s AR stickers, 22 percent said they wouldn’t.

As Google is rumored to be working to bring its AR Playground platform to other Android handsets, this statistic makes me believe the company’s efforts might be wasted.

Noteworthy comments

Here are some of the best comments from last week’s poll explaining why they voted the way that they did:

  • I showed it to my (young) son a couple of years ago with the Star Wars characters and that was that.
  • Basically it [Playmoji] is the new Google+ that is just gimmick, a pain to use, doesn’t solve any real problem and only creates a marginal entertainment value that hurts the battery more than anything else.
  • I really love the Childish Gambino pack!!! I use it sometimes when I remember BUT it uses a LOT OF BATTERY. It is fun and, sometimes, people feel surprise on how well it is implemented… BUT, you know, it is not useful at all (it’s more like a game that you play sometimes when you a bored)
  • My kids (5 & 3 yr old boys) love it.

That’s it for this week, everyone. As always, thanks for voting, thanks for the comments, and don’t forget to let us know what you thought of the results below.

We asked, you told us: Most of you don’t use third-party email apps

Gmail Logo

One of the best parts of our smartphones is that if there’s a default app that we don’t like, we can go and download a third-party option. An example of an app that many replace is the pre-installed email app.

For that reason, we decided to ask you, what email client do you use? Here are the results.

What email client do you use?

Results

Unsurprisingly, 52 percent of the participants in this week’s poll stated that they use the Gmail app for checking their email. This result isn’t surprising as almost every Android device has Google’s email client pre-installed.

And as the Gmail mobile app can also be used with external email accounts, most people don’t have a reason to find another email client.

Coming in second is Microsoft’s Outlook client with 13 percent of the votes. The reason for this is likely because they use Outlook’s desktop client on their home and work computers.

And in third, we have Inbox by Gmail (R.I.P.). Since its launch, Inbox has been a vastly popular Gmail alternative thanks to its smart features and simplistic design. Thankfully, it looks like some of the app’s functionality might make its way over to the Gmail app.

Unfortunately, Google is shutting down the client in March which means the nine percent of our readers who still use it will have to find an alternative email app within the next two months.

Noteworthy comments

Here are some of the best comments from last week’s poll explaining why they voted the way that they did:

  • Nine for work emails and Gmail app for personal emails
  • Gmail for personal. Outlook for work Outlook also has my work calendar. 
    Editor’s Pick
  • I use the native one for each (Gmail, outlook and IOS mail) I like having them separate from each other
  • K-9 on the Android phone. Evolution on the laptop.
  • Inbox by Gmail. I hate Google for killing it, and will definitely not use the stock Gmail app. Thankfully, SparkMail is coming soon to Android, to which I’ll be shifting.
  • I used to use Newton until it went away, but see it’s now back. I switched to Pop, now called Spike, which is similar to Newton.

That’s it for this week, everyone. As always, thanks for voting, thanks for the comments, and don’t forget to let us know what you thought of the results below.

We asked, you told us: Most of you keep phones between one to two years

HTC U12+ vs Pixel 2 XL

Smartphone manufacturers typically stick to a very strict release schedule which usually includes releasing at least one new phone every year. But with premium handsets costing anywhere between $700 and $1,000, it’s not feasible for many to buy a new phone every year.

Keeping a device for more than a year isn’t the end of the world, but it means that you probably won’t get all of the latest and greatest features. For some, this isn’t that big of a deal. For others, this is a reason to switch phones more often.

So we decided to ask you, are you switching phones every year, two years, or are you holding onto your handsets until they’re dead? Here’s what you had to say.

How long do you usually keep a phone?

Results

Unsurprisingly, most of you voted that you’re keeping smartphones for a least one to two years, with a large percentage of people holding onto handsets for over two years.

These results are even less surprising when you consider that most financing options usually last around two years. By the time that the device is paid off, it has been one to two years, and there’s a reason to upgrade.

In the grand scheme of things, you aren’t missing much by skipping a single smartphone generation. Yes, some of the new features introduced into Android and by the handset’s manufacturer won’t get added to older devices, but these tend to be minuscule.

Noteworthy comments

Here are some of the best comments from last week’s poll explaining why they voted the way that they did:

  • I keep my phones as long as they’re getting major Android upgrades. Since my Pixel 2 will be getting three years of upgrades that’s how long I’ll keep it.
  • For me the ideal would be to keep a phone for at least 2 years, my S7 Edge is going strong with almost 3 now
  • I buy a new phone when the apps I use advise me that support for my Android version will end. I’m on my second smartphone. First one bought in 2012. Second one bought in 2018.
  • I’ve actually had my Note 8 since the day it was released in September 2017, which is weird as I usually change phones every year, not longer than that. It is a great phone though, so no need to upgrade.
  • My carrier allow me to upgrade my 2 years plan 6 months early so I usually take up the offer if there’s a good deal. I usually buy a flagship Samsung device just before it get updated for 0 or very cheap up front, so while I don’t have the latest and greatest, I’m sure to get updates for the duration of my contract.
  • Buy a flagship, skip one version and upgrade to the following one. Repeat Mode. Reason – Device Hardware and Software are outdated in as early as an year these days.

That’s it for this week, everyone. As always, thanks for voting, thanks for the comments, and don’t forget to let us know what you thought of the results below.

What version of Android are you running? (Poll of the Week)

Last week’s poll summary: Last week, we asked you if you’d ever buy a slider phone. Surprisingly, out of almost 56,000 total votes, the results were pretty much split down the middle – roughly 50.5 percent of voters said they wouldn’t buy a slider phone, while 49.5 percent said they would.


Android updates may be rolling out faster than ever before, but the majority of users still aren’t running the latest version of Android. At least, we think — Google hasn’t updated the Android distribution dashboard since late October 2018. At that time, Android 9 Pie wasn’t even on the chart, meaning it was installed on less than 0.1 percent of all Android devices.

See For Yourself

However, thanks to initiatives like Project Treble, third-party manufacturers have been able to roll out Android 9 Pie to their devices much quicker than ever before. We looked at the data and found many manufacturers averaging roughly 118 days before rolling out Pie to their devices, whereas the number was closer to 170 days for the Oreo update.

We want to hear from you. What version of Android is your phone running?

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

Next: Android Q: The top features we know about so far

We asked, you told us: Slider phones aren’t for you

Xiaomi Mi Mix 3 - slider mechanism

In the quest to get rid of bezels, smartphone companies have made countless attempts to redesign smartphones. While most companies are now moving towards hole-punch displays, some are experimenting with sliding phones.

This design concept separates the screen portion of the phone from the rest of the handset. By doing this, the screen can include minimal amounts of bezel as the front-facing camera and other sensors are located behind the display on the main part of the device.

The primary issue with this design is that there are moving pieces. Whether the sliding mechanism is done automatically with a motor or the user has to slide the two pieces apart physically, something could break or get damaged. If that happens, you lose access to the camera and any other sensor hidden behind the display.

So with phones like the OnePlus 7 rumored to be using a slider mechanism, we decided if you would buy a slider phone. Here are your answers.

Would you buy a slider phone?

Results

Surprisingly, the results are almost split down the middle. While a majority of the 1,800+ voters who voiced their opinion on the website stated that they would buy a slider phone, the polls from Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube all skewed to “no.”

As outlined above, it appears that most people are against the slider form factor because there’s a chance that something might break. But on the other side, a lot of people said they were all for the change in style since it would stop companies from introducing phones with notches and hole-punch cameras.

Noteworthy comments

Here are some of the best comments from last week’s poll explaining why they voted the way that they did:

  • I’d prefer a simple bezel, instead of making the phone more complex, fragile and expensive.
  • I prefer the slider option over a notch or a punch hole in the display, and it could work as way to protect the front camera.
  • i would rather to not have front camera and no slider
  • Yeah why not, i rarely use the front camera anyway
  • Pros : • you can play with your slider • possible jack revival ( or sacrificed again for extra something ) • no notch, so full screen ( perhaps with small chin )
    Cons : • No IP Rating • possible broken slider cuz’ u playin it a lot

That’s it for this week, everyone. As always, thanks for voting, thanks for the comments, and don’t forget to let us know what you thought of the results below.

We asked, you told us: The Pixel 4 / 4 XL is the most anticipated phone of 2019

Google Pixel 3 XL Camera

As there can’t be constant advances in technology, we occasionally have years that are just kind of boring. That is exactly what 2018 was. 2019 is the year that we could actually see a lot of advances and growth in the Android market.

So with all of that in mind, we asked you what phone you’re most excited to see announced in 2019. Here is what you had to say.

What phone are you most looking forward to in 2019?

Results

Sliding in just ahead of the OnePlus 7 / 7T, the Google Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL took the crown with 18.8 percent of the votes. While the search giant’s flagships have always been a safe but boring option, it offers the best in camera performance, Android updates, and more.

After a lackluster launch of the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL, we can only hope that Google doesn’t drop the ball with its 2019 handsets.

As mentioned, the OnePlus 7 / 7T came in second with 18.1 percent of the reader’s votes. As the Chinese company has been producing some of the best smartphones for the price, this result isn’t all that surprising. With OnePlus’ push into the U.S. market and desire to be at the forefront of 5G, it could easily be one of the most popular brands in 2019.

And coming in third, we have the Samsung Galaxy S10 and S10 Plus. As the South Korean company’s two flagships are the world’s most popular Android handsets, this isn’t surprising. While the Galaxy line hasn’t seen many changes over the last several years, we could see some changes with Samsung rumored to be using an Infinity-O display with the S10 handsets.

Noteworthy comments

Here are some of the best comments from last week’s poll explaining why they voted the way that they did:

  • I guess I’m not surprised the Pixel has the most. It’s such a boring phone though . Let me guess, it’ll look pretty much the same? I hate that I think this way as I was a huge Nexus fan and want to be excited about the Pixel, but that ridiculous price tag!
  • The Android One program is very promising and Xiaomi didn’t disappoint with it’s Mi A2. Let’s see what’s coming up.
  • The Xiaomi Mi A3. All the goodness of a ‘flagship killer’ without the ridiculous gimmicks for half the price.
  • Waiting for the Moto z4 (hoping for a force variant) or the Nokia 9 pureview.
  • IDK why, but Honor V20. Man this thing is sexy

That’s it for this week, everyone. As always, thanks for voting, thanks for the comments, and don’t forget to let us know what you thought of the results below.