Oura Ring 2 review: The early adopter catches the worm

The Oura Ring 2 is an exciting ring-shaped health tracking device that measures something a little different from all the other calorie-focused trackers out there. In theory it can help you to feel better, perform better, and make smarter decisions regarding health and training.

This is the second iteration of a relatively-underground product that launched on Kickstarter a couple of years ago. The company is still small, but it has begun generating quite a buzz in the biohacking community.

In this Oura Ring 2 review, let’s see if this really is the game changing piece of kit that the health tracking industry sorely needs.

The concept

To my mind, fitness trackers have huge untapped potential to help us measure our daily activities, mental performance, and physiology in actionable ways. Unfortunately, most trackers amount to little more than fancy pedometers with not-so-accurate heart rate monitors.

For all I love the idea of tracking my fitness, I go through long stretches of not wearing these devices because, quite simply, the data they provide is not quite worth the inconvenience of wearing them.

fitbit charge 3 black band display

If you’re want to lose weight, a Fitbit or similar alternative can be a useful tool for tracking calories, but as I’ve explained on the site before, those measurements are imperfect and the entire strategy has its issues.

The Oura Ring 2 places its focus elsewhere: on providing deeper, more actionable data around sleep, stress, and recovery. This isn’t just about losing weight; it’s about performing your best and feeling better. That the video on the original Kickstarter campaign featured people playing the piano and conducting business is telling. This isn’t just for running and weightlifting. Oura calls it “living ready.”

Oura calls it ‘living ready.’

Can a ring really help you to overcome the chronic fatigue and stress endemic to the 21st century?

Hardware: Put a ring on it

The ring is packed with the usual sensors: an infrared heart rate monitor measuring slight changes in the color of your skin, a gyroscope, accelerometer, and three temperature sensors. Using that, it can autodetect when you fall asleep, identify how long you spent in each sleep stage, count how many times you wake up in the night, and measure your heart rate. Likewise, it counts steps during the day and lets you manually add activities. All this information is then visible through the app, divided into days.

Oura Ring 2 Heart Rate Monitor

I have no complaints with the design and comfort of the ring. The original Oura was rather large and ostentatious looking, and drew a lot of attention to itself. The new ring is much subtler and can easily pass for a regular piece of jewelry. It comes in matte black, glossy black, rose gold, or chrome, and looks like a perfectly round wedding band apart from a slight point indicating which way is supposed to face up.

The device has no blinking lights or other readouts (even the IR sensor remains dark), and a welcome feature for many is the option to put it into airplane mode. That’s handy for airplanes (this could be a useful tool for combating jet lag), but also for people who are funny about wearing technologies that emit any kind of signal.

It’s very easy to forget it’s there. If you’re used to wearing any other kind of ring, this is no different.

Most importantly, I found wearing the device during my Oura Ring 2 review very comfortable. It’s very easy to forget it’s there. In fact if you’re used to wearing any other kind of ring, then this is no different. Because it’s so subtle, you can easily wear this along with a watch and not look ridiculous — which is another benefit of a finger-bound device.

Oura Ring 2 Jewellery

The Oura Ring 2 is not that different from a wedding band

There are practical advantages to wearing a fitness tracker on your finger too. It’s much easier to obtain a heart rate from the thin flesh here, and your extremities are the first to show a change in body temperature. More on this later.

Related

When I reviewed the Motiv Ring a few months back, one complaint I had was that it got scratched very easily during training and wasn’t comfortable when weight lifting or boxing. While this is still true to a degree with the Oura Ring 2, the titanium with scratch-resistant DLC construction is certainly superior to the ceramic Motiv ring. I’ve only picked up a few light scratches on the underside so far. However, seeing as this is more of a health tracker than a fitness tracker, it actually matters a whole lot less.

Motiv Ring vs Oura Ring

The slightly less durable Motiv Ring

The ring can store six weeks of data without syncing, and you’ll be able to get six days of use between charges. It charges pretty quickly, so you can just place it on the stand during your morning shower when prompted (though it is water resistant if you wish to keep it on).

Overall, the design and attention to detail is excellent here.

Overall, the design and attention to detail is excellent here — especially for a small startup. The entirely white, cube-shaped box makes a strong first impression, and the charging stand looks good and is easy to use as well (which bucks the trend for fitness trackers that normally come with fiddly and unusual charging methods). The app does need some work in a few key areas, but we’ll discuss that more in a moment.

Oura Ring 2 review: The best sleep tracking in town

Don’t miss

The Oura Ring 2 is probably the best sleep tracker I have ever used. On the face of it, like the best Fitbit devices, it will give you a detailed breakdown of your time in light sleep, deep sleep, and REM sleep. This tells you not only how long you have slept, but how restorative that sleep was likely to have been. Sleep detection is also incredibly accurate, with the reports being spot on 99 percent of the time. I had one night that didn’t seem to correlate with what I’d experienced, but it wasn’t major difference and it was a one off — something any device on the market will occasionally experience.

The Oura Ring 2 is probably the best sleep tracker I have ever used.

The only big omission I noticed, is that it doesn’t seem able to detect day-time naps. I know that’s something Bailey will be disappointed to hear. Similarly, while my wife was in labor the other week (woop!) I actually went one entire night without sleeping and rather than registering that for what it was, the ring acted as though I had not been wearing it (even though it would have been able to detect waking movement the entire time). Rather than saying “oh no, you haven’t slept like… at all,” it instead treated the data as missing.

Oura Ring Sleep Tracking

This is what sleep looks like when you’re a new dad

So, there are a couple of drawbacks, but what’s impressive is all the additional data the Oura Ring 2 tracks during sleep.

Resting heart rate is an excellent indicator of recovery, and of overall physical fitness, for example. A post on the Oura blog explains how a U-shaped curve demonstrates your body has fully recovered from the day before, whereas as a downward slope might indicate you could have benefited from a little extra nap time — explaining why you perhaps wake up feeling groggy and what to do about it next time.

Resting heart rate is an excellent indicator of recovery, and of overall physical fitness.

You’ll also be able to see how long it took you to fall asleep (sleep latency), how optimal your sleep timing was with regards to external cues, how efficient your sleep was, how many times you woke up, and more. Tapping on any of these points will then provide more detail — often a graph or chart accompanied by some explanation by Oura and perhaps a link to an external blog post. All this is great and it is by far the most detailed sleep tracking I’ve ever encountered.

Oura Ring 2 side view

A Biohacker’s dream: Readiness and heart rate variability

But wait, there’s more.

Digging deeper, there’s a whole lot more data you don’t typically see in these kinds of apps. To name a few: body temperature, a recovery index, and heart rate variability.

Oura ring body temperature

Body temperature of course tells you just how hot or cold you were during the night. This very useful inclusion could bring to light some interesting patterns and trends. For instance: does being cooler at night help you sleep better?

It can also indicate that something might be wrong, like if you have the start of a fever. Not many other trackers provide users with this data and the Oura has an edge here, seeing as it’s easier to measure temperature changes from the fingers and toes.

Oura Ring 2 on Hand

Resting heart rate data is meanwhile taken and used to generate a “recovery index.” This shows you how long it takes for your resting heart rate to stabilize once you hit the sack. Tapping that item in the app tells us this should happen in the first half hour after you hit the hay. There’s so much to dig into here and explore, you can spend a long time each morning reading your stats.

Heart rate variability is an even more interesting stat a lot of people won’t be familiar with. This basically tells you about your sympathetic tone, and whether you are sympathetic or parasympathetic dominant (fight or flight, or rest and digest).

There’s a lot of fascinating heart rate variability research being conducted at the moment, and it could also be linked to optimal mental states for performance and other cool stuff.

While many of us assume our heart rate takes on a steady rhythm, the truth is it changes as you breathe in and out. When you breathe in, your heart rate should increase slightly, and when you breathe out, it should decrease. If you are highly stressed, your heart rate will be constantly elevated and your breathing will have less of an impact on it. This essentially suggests you are either chronically stressed or overtraining and need more time to recover.

There’s a lot of fascinating heart rate variability research being conducted at the moment. It could be linked to optimal mental states for performance and other cool stuff. Other fitness trackers simply aren’t accurate enough to provide this data, but the 250Hz infrared lights here are more than capable (the pulse strength in the finger is also greater than on the wrist — 50-100 times greater in fact!).

Oura then takes all of this data and uses it to provide a “readiness score.” This intended to advise your training schedule. If your readiness is low, then you should avoid intensive training that day, maybe reschedule a hectic meeting, and perhaps reflect a little on what you could change about your current lifestyle. In short, it aggregates all that complex data and turns it into a single number you can act on.

Oura Ring 2 Readiness Score

I will never be ‘ready’ again

A couple of miss-steps

I’m singing the Oura Ring 2’s praises a lot here because it is the device I’ve been waiting for a long time. This fitness tracker doesn’t just measure the same old tired data, and it provides some actually useful and actionable advice. It’s a glimpse at how technology can help us perform better.

That’s not to say it’s perfect.

Oura Ring 2 Design

One area of concern for me was with the step counting. I noticed the app often reported I had completed thousands more steps than my other tracking methods. I spoke to a rep from Oura about this and they explained that the “steps” counted are actually a measure of overall movement and energy expenditure, translated to steps (the metabolic equivalent to steps). This is actually a more useful method on the whole than strictly tracking steps, though it is a little confusing given the app reports the score simply as “steps.”

It’s a shame there isn’t also a simple step count shown. It would be useful if this was a pedometer, too. I’m also not 100 percent convinced — how can the motion sensors pick up enough movement from a single finger to recognize such a broad scope of movement?

The app was often reporting that I had completed thousands more steps than my other tracking methods

Activity tracking could also use a little smoothing out. It detects activities like walks and runs automatically, but it won’t recognize every type of training. That included my own workouts, which was probably fair enough. I was mainly doing a lot of pull ups and push ups, which don’t provide much movement in the hands.

It is reasonable to expect it might at least notice the elevated heart rate and register that as a period of heightened activity. No such luck.

Training wearing the Oura Ring 2

This triceps workout will need to be added manually to the app

Another shortcoming is with compatibility. Apple users can connect the app to Apple’s Health Kit without an issue, but Android users have no such option. There’s no support for Google Fit for instance, so you can’t register workouts with a second tracker and have the data sync up automatically. There’s no way to connect to MyFitnessPal either, which means you can’t really use this as a tool for losing weight, as you might a Fitbit.

This is coming to the product very soon (sometime in 2019) so it’s not totally fair to mark it down on that basis. However, as it stands, don’t expect the kind of deep integration with third party offerings that you’ve maybe come to expect.

There’s no way to retroactively add a workout for a previous day

For now, any workouts you do will need to be added manually. Unfortunately, if you should forget to do this one day, you’ll miss the opportunity. There’s no way to retroactively add a workout for a previous day. That’s down to the complexity of the algorithms used and understandable, but it’s still a shame that my data will be incomplete (and corresponding advice wrong) if I forget to log my training — something I often do. I wouldn’t mind seeing my readiness score change when I update my data — in fact it would be encouraging.

The app’s UI also needs work. It’s quite fiddly to find what you’re looking for and syncing with Bluetooth occasionally takes a little longer than it should. Still, the app is being actively updated all the time and I’ve already seen improvements. In fact, they just recently added an on-boarding process to the iOS version for orienting new users. Presumably the Android version will get the same treatment soon.

Oura Ring App

Some of those might sound like big problems, but Oura assures us more updates are coming. This is still a product in its infancy (despite this being the second hardware iteration) and apparently a lot of cool stuff is planned.

In future, I’d really like to see some graphs and charts showing relationships between the data. For instance, I’d love to see how my body temperature correlates with how soundly I slept. As it is, it’s great to be able to see trends over time and a baseline though.

Oura Ring Review

Perhaps the best way to think of this is as a health tracker first and a fitness tracker second. It’s actually ideal for wearing in conjunction with a traditional wrist-worn tracker, and once integration with other apps is introduced, it will become even more potent in that regard. Although the data it offers is slightly imperfect due to the shortcomings I’ve identified, it’s still more than enough to be actionable and it’s the only device doing anything like this right now. I’m really excited to see where this goes in future.

What to do with all this data?

Ultimately, the amount and quality of the data here is better than any device I’ve used before. It truly makes it possible to make positive lifestyle changes and see them reflected in my sleep and the way I feel. This is the promise of every sleep tracker, but very few provide enough detail or explanation to be practical in that regard. None of them offer insights like body temperature and heart rate variance.

For instance, I was feeling a little rough a few weeks ago and when I looked at the app, I could see my “recovery index” was low. Tapping the icon explained this could be a result of a late-night workout — which I did that night — and my resting heart rate was exactly what you might expect it to be as a result of this.

I read a user review stating they used the Oura Ring to predict the onset of a cold before it hit. Personally, I’ve been using it to track how well I’m coping with the extreme sleep deprivation that comes from fatherhood. Suffice it to say, not well! However, at least I now know how bad the damage is and whether or not to consider training as a result.

One user used the Oura ring in order to predict the onset of a cold before it hit

In some ways the Oura Ring 2 still finding its footing, but it is pretty awesome already and there’s a lot more awesome coming. For the price (around $350), it might be worth hanging on a little while longer if you’re a casual user (perhaps until the Google Fit integration next year). If you love this stuff as much as I do and consider yourself an enthusiast, you’ll have no regrets becoming an early adopter. Whoever you are, the ring can certainly help you understand more about yourself and why you feel rough some days and great on others.

This is an excellent device for any biohacker and has the potential to become essential for a much larger audience soon.

Samsung Galaxy A7 (2018) review: The rise of the mid-range

To a lot of people, Samsung just makes flagship devices like the Galaxy S9 and the Galaxy Note 9. However, it also makes a range of mid-tier devices with its “J” and “A” series. The “J” phones are the more competitively priced and the “A” range is designed to be more premium. I recently got hold of a Samsung Galaxy A7 (2018) because I wanted to run Speed Test G on it and its Exynos processor. I was so impressed, I thought it warranted a full written review!

Samsung Galaxy A7 (2018) design

The first things you may notice about the A7 are the bezels. In an age where flagship devices are all about edge-to-edge displays and getting the highest screen-t0-body ratio possible, the A7 (2018) might seem a little jarring. When I showed the device to a teenager in my family, the first reaction was, “wow, look at the bezels.”

The A7 (2018) has a 10 percent lower screen-to-body ratio than a device like the Galaxy S9 Plus, which is one of the reasons it’s cheaper. Making all those curved edges costs money in the manufacturing process. That doesn’t mean the A7 (2018) is ugly — it isn’t. In fact, if you can see past the bezels, it has a certain elegance, even a premium look and feel.

The device has a 2.5D rear glass back, which means it is a glass sandwich with some kind of toughened plastic frame acting as the filling. The glass on the back can be a fingerprint magnet, or more precisely a finger-smear magnet, but that is par for the course nowadays.

The buttons are fine but the volume keys may be a bit too far up. All the buttons are on the right side and the SIM tray is on the left. My biggest gripe is with the power key — not as a power key, but as a fingerprint reader. It works well as a power button, but it is quite narrow, which means using it for authentication or unlocking isn’t as seamless as other Samsung experiences. Yes, you can wake and unlock the phone using your registered finger on the power button, but not 100 percent of the time. Once it in while it will glitch and you need to try again (or even a third time). I guess we have been spoiled by the high accuracy of existing fingerprint reader technology.

On the bottom edge of the device, there is a headphone jack (hooray), a MicroUSB port (not so much hooray), and a single speaker. The audio is clear and loud and doesn’t suffer from distortion at higher levels.

Samsung Galaxy A7 (2018) display

The A7 (2018) has a 6.0-inch FHD+ Super AMOLED Infinity Display. It is bright, clear, and vivid. The colors are rich, and as usual with AMOLED the blacks are deep. Once you have grown accustomed to the bezels, the vibrancy of the display makes using the Galaxy A7 a pleasure. You might even catch yourself wondering why you need to spend so much money on a flagship, when devices like this exist in the mid-range.

There is no physical home button, so on-screen navigation is the order of the day, something that’s been the Samsung way for quite a while now. The 6.0-inch display offers a screen resolution of 2,220 x 1,080 (FHD+), which is actually the default resolution for flagship devices like the S9 and Note 9 (although they can go higher). The display has a 18.5:9 aspect ratio, and a 411ppi density.

Overall the display is certainly a strong plus point for the A7 (2018).

See also: The best displays of 2018

Samsung Galaxy A7 (2018) software

The A7 (2018) comes with Android 8.0 Oreo and Samsung Experience 9.0. If you are familiar with Samsung’s skin and UI then you will feel right at home here. Because of the unifying nature of the Samsung Experience, the UI looks and responds exactly like a bigger flagship. When I put the Note 9 next to the A7 it is hard to tell them apart from a UI perspective. The settings menu is the same, the Samsung icons are the same, and the theme is the same.

Editor’s Pick

One thing missing compared to its bigger siblings is Bixby Voice. While Bixby Home is present (swiping left from the home screen) the voice assistant isn’t included and there is no dedicated Bixby button. I guess Samsung considers Bixby a luxury for flagship owners. The snarky side of me is tempted to say the lack of Bixby voice is another reason to buy the A7 (2018), but I shall resist! The device still has AI functionality, though — you can access Google Assistant by long pressing on the home key.

Samsung Galaxy A7 (2018) performance

The A7 (2018) uses the 14nm Exynos 7885 processor. It has an octa-core CPU with two 2.2GHz Cortex-A73 CPU cores and six 1.6GHz Cortex-A53 cores. For gaming, there is good news and bad news. The 7885 features an Arm Mali-G71 GPU. The G71 is an advanced GPU using Arm’s latest Bifrost GPU architecture.

Unfortunately the G71 can be configured by chipmakers like Samsung to including anything from 1 to 32 shader cores. The Exynos 8895 in the Galaxy S8 and Note 8, has a G71 GPU with 20 shader codes. The Exynos 7885 has two. That said, I tested the device with both Asphalt 9 and PUBG Mobile (using the Medium graphics settings) and found the gameplay to be smooth.

The Exynos 7885 also has a built-in LTE modem which supports 2G, 3G and 4G, with LTE download speeds reaching 600Mbps. There is also a nifty Image Signal Processor (more on that in the camera section). On board, there is also 4GB of RAM (6GB on some models), 64GB of internal storage (128GB models available) and a microSD card slot.

For those who like benchmark numbers, the A7 (2018) scored 1524 on Geekbench’s single-core tests and 4379 on its multi-core tests. That puts in into the same ballpark as a Galaxy S7 with a Snapdragon 820 processor. For AnTuTu, which also tests the GPU, the score was 123,302. The AnTuTu score puts the A7 (2018) in the same general area as a flagship device from early 2016.

Samsung Galaxy A7 (2018) battery

The 3,300mAh battery in the A7 (2018) is larger than the battery in the Samsung Galaxy S9 and certainly big enough to give you all-day battery life. According to my testing, you should get at least six hours of screen-on time per charge. That number will increase if you mainly do less demanding tasks like watching YouTube. If you enjoy a bit of 3D gaming, then no fear, five hours minimum. Remember, screen brightness can dramatically change the battery life. If you bump up the brightness to max, expect to shave at least an hour off of all those numbers.

Samsung Galaxy A7 (2018) camera

The camera on the A7 (2018) is a story of simultaneous brilliance and woeful inadequacy. It is brilliant in that it has three cameras — one for normal photos, one for wide-angle shots, and one for depth information. It is brilliant in that the depth camera adds the ability to alter the depth of field while taking a shot, and afterwards. It is brilliant in that the main camera has a 24MP sensor and an f/1.7 aperture, which is great for low-light.

It is woefully inadequate in that the wide-angle camera is just 8MP. It is inadequate because it lacks OIS. It is inadequate because it can only record FHD at 30fps.

Related: Best of Android 2018: The best cameras

Maybe “woefully inadequate” is harsh — this isn’t a premium device — but Samsung has managed to raise the standard with the A7 to a tantalizing level, only to fumble the details. For daily use, there is little bad to say about the main 24MP camera. The colors are true, the dynamic range is good, and the HDR functions work well.

However, the 8MP wide-angle camera is just a little too wide. The pictures often suffer from barrel distortion and the slower f/2.4 aperture isn’t as good in low light.


The third camera is for depth information. It uses a 5MP sensor and an aperture of f/2.2. Those numbers aren’t so important as the purpose of this camera is to enable the depth-of-field functions. The inclusion of a bokeh mode is certainly a plus for the A7, as it is often a feature reserved for more premium devices. While the effect isn’t as precise or advanced as flagship devices, it is nonetheless useful and fun to play with.


Having opted for an 8MP wide-angle camera on the back, there is some redemption for selfie lovers. The A7 (2018) has a 24MP front-facing camera! There is a f/2.0 lens and lots of computational photography options, including bokeh selfies, beauty mode, pro-lighting (for “a more glamorous look and feel”), AR emoji, and wide-selfie, which is basically a panorama mode for the front-facing camera.

It’s not like the 8MP sensor and the occasional barrel distortion on the wide-angle camera ruins the camera experience. Overall the A7 (2018) packs a solid setup backed by lots of interesting trickery from the software.

Here are some more sample photos so you can judge for yourself. If you want to see the full resolutions images you can find them here.

Samsung Galaxy A7 (2018) specs

  Samsung Galaxy A7 (2018)
Display 6.0-inch Super AMOLED
2,220 x 1,080 (FHD+) resolution
SoC Exynos 7885 Octa (14 nm), 64-bit
CPU Octa-core (2 x 2.2GHz Cortex-A73 & 6 x 1.6GHz Cortex-A53)
GPU GPU Mali-G71MP2
RAM 4 or 6GB
Storage 64 or 128GB
MicroSD card slot
Cameras Rear cameras:
Triple camera: 24MP (F1.7) + 5MP (F2.2) + 8MP (F.24)
Flash

Front camera:
24MP sensor, f/2.0 aperture, LED flash

Battery 3,300mAh
Network 2G:
– GSM850, GSM900, DCS1800, PCS1900
3G UMTS
– B1(2100), B2(1900), B4(AWS), B5(850), B8(900)
4G FDD LTE
– B1(2100), B2(1900), B3(1800), B4(AWS), B5(850), B7(2600), B8(900), B12(700), B13(700), B17(700), B20(800), B28(700), B66(AWS-3)
4G TDD LTE
– B38(2600), B40(2300), B41(2500)
Connectivity MicroUSB
3.5mm headphone jack
Bluetooth 5 (LE up to 2 Mbps)
Wi-Fi: 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac 2.4G+5GHz, VHT80
GPS, Glonass, Beidou
Software Android 8.0
Samsung Experience 9.0
Dimensions and weight 159.8 x 76.8 x 7.5mm
168g
Colors blue, black, gold

Pricing and final thoughts

Overall the Samsung Galaxy A7 (2018) is a better than average mid-range device. It has a great Super AMOLED screen and an intriguing triple camera setup. The battery life is good and it has a headphone jack! The dual-core GPU could potentially be worrisome to gamers, but if you are more of Candy Crush kind of person, you have nothing to worry about.

If the A7 (2018) doesn’t tempt you, plenty of other mid-range phones have solid chipsets and good cameras, including the Xiaomi Mi A2, Nokia 7.1 Plus, Honor Play, Asus Zenfone 5Z, Moto G6 Plus, or of course the flagship spec’d Pocophone F1.

The Samsung Galaxy A7 (2018) is available in blue, black, and gold for 279 euros (~$317) in Europe and 249 pounds (~$315) in the U.K. Those prices are dependent on various seasonal discounts. It won’t be coming officially to the U.S. but you can find it on Amazon!

Honor Magic 2 review: A phone full of new tricks

The Honor Magic 2 is an exclusive smartphone to China markets, but it’s a very compelling device and could pave the way for future smartphones. It has a slider design, six cameras, an in-screen fingerprint sensor, and a notch-free bezel-less display.

Is the experience as magical as it sounds or is this phone simply just smoke and mirrors? Find out in our Honor Magic 2 review.

Design

Honor Magic 2

On the outside, the Honor Magic 2 looks like your average flagship smartphone. It’s constructed of glass panels on the front and rear with a metal frame holding it all together. The build quality is exceptional. The entire phone makes heavy use of rounded corners, sides, and tapered edges for a sleek appearance that’s more comfortable.

Honor Magic 2 slider

The slider form factor allows Honor to achieve a nearly bezel-less screen with no notch and have the front facing cameras hidden.

What makes the Honor Magic 2’s design unique is its slider mechanism. This is similar to the Xiaomi Mi Mix 3 and will give you feelings of nostalgia if you ever used old school slider phones from yesteryears. The slider form factor allows Honor to achieve a nearly bezel-less screen with no notch and have the front facing cameras hidden. Sliding the screen downwards will reveal the three front-facing cameras.

Honor Magic 2 front camera

Having a moving part on a smartphone undoubtedly raises concerns over hardware failure but I don’t see this slider failing anytime soon. The slider mechanism feels sturdy, durable, and solidly holds the front and back half of the phone into place whether the phone is opened or closed. The slider mechanism does, however, prevent the phone from being water and dust resistant. Dust actually collects quite easily in the areas exposed when the slider is open. So far this hasn’t negatively affected the Magic 2 in any way, but do your best to keep these areas clean all the same.

Honor Magic 2

Just like the Huawei P20 Pro from Honor’s parent company, the Magic 2 features gradient color schemes. The model I’ve been using is the black edition, but it looks more silver than black. The Magic 2 also comes in red and blue variants. The black model flows from a bright silver on the top half to a dark blue on the bottom half of the phone. The gradient color is beautiful and eye-catching, but the reflective finish makes the Magic 2 hard to keep clean from fingerprints. The protruding camera lenses on the rear are also a magnet for dust and equally difficult to keep clean.

Display

Honor Magic 2 display

The Honor Magic 2 features a large 6.39-inch full-view 2,340 x 1,080 AMOLED display with incredibly thin bezels surrounding all sides. As mentioned earlier, there is no notch, so you get a fullscreen experience with no cutout. The display looks gorgeous. Colors are vibrant, viewing angles are fantastic, and the screen is sharp and crisp. Viewing content on this display is enjoyable and text and graphics are easy to read. Outdoor visibility on the Magic 2’s display also posed no issues, it gets plenty bright to comfortably see in direct sunlight.

Performance

Honor Magic 2

Editor’s Pick

The Honor Magic 2 is no slouch in performance. The Magic 2 has the same horsepower as the Huawei Mate 20 Pro, with a Kirin 980 SoC and 6GB or 8GB of RAM. The Kirin 980 is one of the most powerful chipsets on the market so it’s no surprise that the Magic 2 performs very well in benchmarks and real-world use. The phone is extremely fast to launch applications, multitask, and navigating through the UI is a silky smooth experience. Gaming is also great. High-end titles from the Google Play Store such as Shadowgun Legends runs smoothly with great graphics and consistent frame rates.





Battery life performance is equally impressive. Although the 3,400mAh battery is not as large as those of Huawei’s P series and Mate series, it’s been more than adequate for the Honor Magic 2. With a good mixture of reading emails, text messages, browsing social media, playing games, and watching YouTube, Magic 2 easily lasted me through a full day. Screen-on time consistently reached the five-hour mark which should be more than enough for most users. The Honor Magic 2 also features a 40W fast charger in the box that gets you a 50 percent charge in only 15 minutes.




Hardware

Honor Magic 2 usb c

Hardware on the Honor Magic 2 is fairly run of the mill. There’s a single USB Type-C port at the bottom accompanied by a single speaker. You won’t find a headphone jack anywhere on the device. There’s also no wireless charging or microSD expansion but the Magic 2 offers plenty of internal storage with 128 and 256-gigabyte options.

Honor Magic 2 fingerprint sensor

It isn’t frustratingly awful to use but it’s not as good as a standard fingerprint sensor.

The Honor Magic 2 has an in-display fingerprint sensor, similar to the Oppo R17 Pro and the OnePlus 6T. A small area of the display is illuminated with a fingerprint graphic to show you where to place your finger to properly unlock the device. One thing all in-display fingerprint sensors currently have in common is their slowness an inconsistency — the Magic 2 is no different. It isn’t frustratingly awful to use but it’s not as good as a standard fingerprint sensor. This technology will get considerably better over time but we probably won’t get to that point until next year.

Camera

Honor Magic 2 rear cameras

Another truly unique feature of the Honor Magic 2 is the camera setup, because it has six sensors — three on the rear and three on the front. The main camera on the rear is a 16-megapixel f/1.8 lens, accompanied by a 16-megapixel wide angle and 24-megapixel monochrome sensor. The monochrome sensor is used for capturing black and white photos and portrait mode photography.

Honor Magic 2

The main front-facing camera is also 16MP, flanked by two additional 2MP cameras. The main sensor is the only one for taking photos, while the 2MP sensors are meant for 3D facial unlocking, portrait mode, and portrait mode lighting effects. The 3D facial unlock works very well and is extremely fast. Slide the phone open to reveal the camera, and the phone unlocks before you know it. This is a much more secure option for unlocking the Magic 2, and it’s much faster and more reliable than the fingerprint sensor.

Both the front and rear cameras take advantage of the Kirin 980’s NPU, incorporating AI scene recognition. This means the camera can recognize scenes and objects like food, plants, urban landscapes, pets, and more, and adjust the image accordingly for the best results. While having the AI scene recognition enabled makes a difference in the way the images look, it isn’t easily noticeable in every scene. In some situations, you might even prefer your photos without the AI enhancements and it’s probably better to keep it turned off if you prefer to tweak your images manually.



General image quality from the rear camera is quite impressive and I found very little to complain about with the Magic 2 as my daily smartphone camera. The camera produces sharp images with accurate colors and excellent contrast. Dynamic range on the Honor Magic 2’s cameras provides great shadow and highlight detail and high contrast situations were handled very well. The camera also performs well in low light. Details are still very crisp and sharp, images are still full of color, and there is very little noise. Highlights in low light situations are handled very well thanks to the camera’s excellent dynamic range. There’s no blooming or overexposure which helps retain plenty of detail.

We’ve included a gallery below for easy viewing but you can see the full resolution images by clicking here.

Software

Honor Magic 2

If you don’t like EMUI, the Magic 2 won’t do much to change your opinion.

The Honor Magic 2 ships with the latest Android 9.0 Pie with Magic UI 2.0 on top. Magic UI is essentially the same interface as EMUI found on other Honor or Huawei devices, but it’s been rebranded for the Magic 2. If you’ve used EMUI before and enjoy the experience, you’ll feel right at home on the Magic 2. If you don’t like EMUI, the Magic 2 won’t do much to change your opinion. I prefer a more stock-like experience so EMUI’s colorful and cartoonish aesthetics aren’t exactly my cup of tea.




With Magic UI 2.0 Honor has implemented its own AI assistant called “YOYO.” This virtual assistant is machine-learning capable and supposed to have mind-reading capabilities, which sounds strange to say the least. Unfortunately, I was unable to test this feature, as it currently only understands Mandarin. This makes sense considering the Honor Magic 2 is only marketed in China. Because this is a device for China markets you’ll also find many Chinese applications pre-installed. Should this device ever come to other markets these apps will most likely not be installed but it’s something to be aware of should you decide to import the Magic 2.

Specifications

  Honor Magic 2
Display 6.39-inch AMOLED
2340 x 1080
403PPI
SoC Huawei Kirin 980
Octa-core CPU (2 @ 2.6GHz, 2 @ 1.92GHz, 4 @ 1.8GHz)
Dual NPU
GPU Arm Mali-G76 MP10
720Mhz
RAM 6GB/8GB
LPDDR4X
Storage 128GB/256GB
Non-expandable
Cameras Main: 16MP f/1.8 sensor
Second: 16MP f/2.2 ultra wide angle sensor
Third: 24MP f/1.8 monochrome sensor
Front:
Main: 16MP f/2.0 sensor
Second: 2MP f/2.4 sensor
Third: 2MP f/2.4 sensor
Audio No headphone jack
Battery 3,400mAh
40 watt SuperCharge
Sensors Gravity
Proximity
Hall
Ambient Light
Front 3D camera
In-Display Fingerprint
Connectivity Wi-FI 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, 2.4Ghz/5Ghz
Bluetooth 5.0
Dual frequency GPS
Glonass
Beidou
Galileo
QZSS
NFC
USB Type-C
SIM Dual nano-SIM
Software Magic UI 2.0 or EMUI 9.0
Android 9.0 Pie
Dimensions and weight 157.32 x 75.13 x 8.3mm
206g
Colors Black, Blue, Red

Pricing & final thoughts

Honor Magic 2 design

The Honor Magic 2 costs 3,799 yuan (~$545) for the base model with 6GB RAM and 128GB of storage, 4,299 yuan (~$615) for 8GB RAM and 128GB model, and 4,799 yuan (~$690) for the 8GB RAM version with 256GB of storage. Pricing is very competitive compared to many other flagship smartphones.

Considering how feature packed and powerful the Magic 2 is, it’s a great deal. The notch free display, six cameras, and slider design offer a wonderful and unique hardware experience. The unfortunate part is you’ll most likely pay a lot more to import it, as Honor has no plans to release it elsewhere. If you want a similar slider phone experience, the more widely available Xiaomi Mi Mix 3 might be a better option.

Next: Xiaomi Mi Mix 3 hands-on: The bezel-less slider

Nokia 8.1 hands-on: The best yet from HMD Global?

Nokia 8.1

Last week, HMD Global unveiled the Nokia 8.1 in Dubai and today the company launched its latest smartphone in India.

The new Nokia 8.1 is not a successor to the Nokia 8 or Nokia 8 Sirocco in terms of specifications and also isn’t in the same segment as those flagship smartphones. The nomenclature can confuse you, but essentially, the Nokia 8.1 is the successor to the Nokia 7 plus – a segment that the company likes to call as ‘affordable premium’.

I spent some time with the Nokia 8.1 ahead of its launch, and here are my first impressions of the same.

Design

Nokia 8.1

The Nokia 8.1 sports an elegant dual-tone design with 6000-series aluminum frame that packs in a sculpted glass body. The chrome trims, that we’ve seen on Nokia 7 plus before, up the aesthetics of the phone.

The Nokia 8.1 has a definite flair to it without any outlandish design choices, and the glass and metal are sandwiched tastefully.

On the front, there’s a 6.18-inch Full HD+ edge-to-edge display with an 18.7:9 aspect ratio and 420ppi. It’s an HDR10-compliant display and has a contrast ratio of 1500:1. With the notch and minimum bezels, the 8.1 manages to pack in a larger display than even the Nokia 7 plus.

It’s a beautiful and bright display – with great legibility outdoors in sun – and the new Adaptive Brightness feature in Android 9 Pie automatically adjusts your settings learning from your screen brightness preferences.

Hardware

The Nokia 8.1 is powered by Qualcomm Snapdragon 710, Qualcomm’s maiden SoC in its new 700 mobile platform series. Snapdragon 710 fits comfortably between the mid-range 600 and high-end 800 series and aims to make premium smartphone features more accessible via mid-range devices, like the 8.1.

And it succeeds in that very well. The AI-powered Snapdragon 710 is a solid chipset and the Nokia 8.1 could give you the impression of flagship innards in your daily drill. With 4GB of RAM, the smartphone just blazes through anything thrown at it.

There’s 64GB of internal storage, and although it’s expandable by up to 400GB using microSD card, many multimedia hoarders would find it a tad underwhelming.

The Nokia 8.1 packs a 3500mAh battery with support for 18W fast charging.

  Nokia 8.1
Display 6.18-inch (15.70cm) PureDisplay
Full HD+ (2246 x 1080)
18.7:9 aspect ratio
420ppi
Corning Gorilla Glass
SoC Qualcomm Snapdragon 710
8 x Kryo 360 CPU
10nm manufacturing process
GPU Adreno 616
RAM 4GB LPPDDR4x
Storage 64GB e-MMC 5.1
Expandable up to 400GB
Cameras Front camera: 20MP

Rear camera:
12MP f/1.8 aperture primary sensor
13MP depth sensor
OIS + EIS
Dual Hi-Cri flash

Battery 3500mAh
18W fast charging
Audio 3.5 mm headphone jack
Single speaker with smart amplifier
Nokia OZO surround sound capture
Connectivity LTE Cat. 6, 2CA, L+L, VoLTE, VoWiFi
WiFi 802.11 b/g/n/ac
Bluetooth 5.0
GPS/AGPS+GLONASS+Beidou
IP Rating None
Sensors mbient light sensor, Proximity sensor, Accelerometer (G-sensor), E-compass, Gyroscope, Fingerprint sensor (rear), NFC
Software Android 9 Pie
Android One
Dimensions 154.8 x 75.76 x 7.97 mm
180 g
Colors Blue/Silver, Steel/Copper, Iron/Steel

Camera

Nokia 8.1

The Nokia 8.1 sports a 12MP primary sensor with f/1.8 aperture and 1.4 micron pixel size combined with a 13MP depth sensor with Optical Image Stabilization (OIS). The Zeiss optics are combined with some AI smarts like automatic scene detection and professional portrait shots, and Nokia’s Pro Camera goodness as well as Dual-Sight mode that allows you to simultaneously shoot and stream from both the cameras.

The phone, interestingly, allows you to capture 4K video at 30fps. Apart from hardware stabilization, there’s also EIS that would help in those videos.

On the front, there’s a 20MP adaptive selfie camera with pixel binning technology that helps you take better shots in dimmer conditions.

Android One

Nokia 8.1

Like other phones in HMD Global’s portfolio, the Nokia 8.1 is an Android One smartphone. It ships with Android 9 Oreo out of the box, and offers a clean, stock Android experience. With phones on Android 8.1 Oreo still launching in December 2018, HMD Global deserves big props for offering one of the most up-to-date Android experience on Nokia phones.

Android One certification means the smartphone will receive two years of guaranteed Android “letter” upgrades and three years of monthly security updates. Nokia 8.1 is also a part of the Android Enterprise Recommended program.

Gallery

Summary

The Nokia 8.1 sits pretty between the mid-range smartphone segment and the ‘flagship killers’. It’s a well-rounded smartphone that tries to punch above the specifications sheet thanks to Qualcomm Snapdragon 710 processor that aces the performance bit.

The cohesive experience and stylish design of the Nokia 8.1 makes me wonder if this is the best Nokia phone since HMD Global brought the brand home. You’d have to look hard to find an issue with this one, really.

The Nokia 8.1 comes in three color variants – Blue/Silver, Steel/Copper, and a new Iron/Steel combination – and will globally retail at 399 Euros ($450).

While the device is going on sale in the Middle East for 1499 UAE Dirhams this week, it is priced at ₹26,999 ($372) in India and will go on sale on Amazon.in and top offline retailers.

Plantronics BackBeat Fit 3100 review: Take it to the pool or the streets

There are a few salient categories of true wireless earbuds: the AirPods wannabes, the cheap but good stuff, and the sporty variants. The Plantronics BackBeat Fit 3100 falls into the third division and includes IP57-certified earbuds with a 740mAh charging case. If you can overlook the bulky design and high price, it’s the ideal union of durable and functional.

Full review available at our sister site, SoundGuys.com

What is Plantronics BackBeat Fit 3100 like?

Plantronics BackBeat Fit 3100: The earbuds in the case, which lays open, and flanked by two faux greenery pieces.

The Plantronics BackBeat Fit 3100 retails for $149.99.

Like the beloved Plantronics BackBeat Fit, the 3100 model is built to endure. The IP57 rating denotes dust- and water-resistance, while the malleable ear hooks promote a secure, comfortable fit. Each earbud houses a holographic panel but they differ in functionality: the left one is touch-capacitive and permits volume adjustments. The right one, on the other hand, lacks touch capabilities but allows for playback and call control.

Editor’s Pick

Since the carrying case houses a substantial battery, its frame, too, is large. Quick charging is afforded whereby 15 minutes of charging provides one hour of playback, and the case provides two extra charge cycles to the to the 3.72 standalone battery life. Be aware, though, of how the earbuds are returned to the case: the exact, textured cutouts look nice but make it too easy to place the ‘buds in without initiating charging.

Although the BackBeat Fit 3100 affords a slew of comprehensive controls, listeners can’t access virtual assistants from the earbuds.

Working out with the Plantronics BackBeat Fit 3100 takes some getting used to, but I found it to be a pleasure. As a consequence of the Ambient Aware ear tips — which promote safety by keeping the listener aware of her surroundings — a seal isn’t formed, mimicking the feeling of a precarious fit. Granted, the ear hook design is effective at keeping things stable. Unfortunately, what’s not as stable as I’ve come to expect from Plantronics products — like the Voyager 6200 UC — is connectivity: stutters sporadically occur when outdoors.

Related: Why true wireless connectivity is so bad

How do the earbuds sound?

Plantronics BackBeat Fit 3100: A woman wearing the earbuds in profile view to show the size.

Although the earbuds protrude quite a bit from the ear, stability isn’t compromised.

They sound fine. As is the case with workout earbuds, sound quality takes a backseat to durability and functionality. Bass frequencies receive a hefty amount of emphasis, but much of it goes unheard due to the ingress of external noise from the non-existent seal. Pushing the earbuds against my ear canal results in an audible exaggerated low-end, but doing so during a workout is just impractical.

Vocals and treble frequencies maintain an audible presence, but it’s nothing emphatic. Highs are especially difficult to differentiate during a song occupied by more than two instruments. Generally speaking, detail and clarity are lacking too. At first read, it may seem I’m knocking the audio quality, but that’s not the case. Given the context of how the Plantronics BackBeat Fit 3100 will be used, the sub-par audio quality is forgivable and can be understood as a repercussion of the Ambient Aware benefit: continual awareness of one’s surroundings.

Should you buy the Plantronics BackBeat Fit 3100?

Plantronics BackBeat Fit 3100: A top-down image of the right earbud next to the open and empty carrying case.

While the precise cutouts are a nice touch, users must be aware of how the earbuds are placed to initiate charging.

If you’re an avid aquaphilic or outdoor enthusiast in the market for true wireless earbuds, the Plantronics BackBeat Fit 3100 stands as a smart and safe choice. The controls are easy to command and the ‘buds stay in place, even if it doesn’t always feel like they will. Connectivity is disappointing, but only because the company usually outshines the competition when it comes to Bluetooth stability. Unfortunately, this is the main plague of true wireless earbuds and something competitors and Plantronics alike will improve upon as the technology advances.

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.

Honor 8C, the first smartphone with Snapdragon 632 processor, launched in India

The Honor 8C render. Honor

Honor has announced the launch of its ne9w mid-range smartphone, the Honor 8C, in India. Honor 8C is the world’s first smartphone equipped with Qualcomm Snapdragon 632 processor.

Mid-range specifications

Honor 8C is quite an affordable smartphone but manages to pack in mid-range specifications. There’s Snapdragon 632 processor with 4GB of RAM, backed by a large 4000mAh battery. The company claims that the Honor 8C can run for 2 days in one charge.

On the camera front, Honor 8C is equipped with a 13MP + 2MP AI Dual camera with f1.8 aperture and new AI modes that can recognize 22 objects and 500 scenarios. There’s also AI Face Unlock along with an 8MP front-facing camera with soft light.

There’s no Android 9 Pie out of the box since the Honor 8C comes with EMUI 8.2 based on Android 8.1 Oreo.

  Honor 8C
Display 15.9cm HD+ (1520 x 720) TFT LCD (IPS)
269ppi
SoC Qualcomm Snapdragon 632
Octa-Core (8 x 1.8GHz)
RAM 4GB
Storage 32GB/64GB
Expandable up to 256GB with microSD card
Cameras 8M FF front camera

13M + 2M rear camera
PDAF

Battery 4000mAh
Sensors Fingerprint sensor, Proximity sensor, Ambient light sensor, Digital compass, Gravity sensor
Software Android 8.1 Oreo with EMUI 8.2 lite
Dimensions and weight 158.72mm (H) x 75.94mm (W) x 7.98mm (D)
167g
Colors Blue, Black

Pricing and availability

Honor 8C comes in two color variants – Blue and Black – and will go on sale exclusively on Amazon India starting December 10. While the 32GB variant is priced at 11,999, the 64GB variant is priced at 12,999.

What do you think of the new Honor 8C, and its pricing? Tell us in the comments!

OnePlus 6T review: Fundamentally great

The OnePlus 6 is one of my favorite Android phones ever. The hardware is simple and streamlined, providing a blank slate for its incredible software. The OnePlus 6 nails the fundamentals first, before adding complexity to the system.

The OnePlus 6T is largely the same, with a few key differences. The changes the 6T makes are few and far between, but its improvements are big ones — as is its one new downside.

It’s impossible to review the OnePlus 6T without consistently comparing it to the OnePlus 6. While this review will focus on what’s new with OnePlus’ new flagship, it will also compare it to the last device, which is less than six months old.

Read our full OnePlus 6T review to find out more.

OnePlus 6T review notes: I’ve been using the OnePlus 6T on Project Fi’s network in the U.S. and Canada for 11 days. Our OnePlus 6T is running Android 9.0 Pie and OxygenOS version 9.0.4 on the October 2018 security patch. We’ll refrain from adding review scores until we can put the device through our full suite of tests.

The OnePlus 6T review unit was provided to Android Authority by OnePlus.

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OnePlus 6T review: Design

I’ll be upfront: I like the design of the OnePlus 6 a bit more than the OnePlus 6T. While there isn’t a huge differential between the two, it’s the small things that give the OnePlus 6 the edge for me. The 6T is a bit thicker, with a more defined curve to pack a bigger battery. OnePlus says users will enjoy the curve in their hand more than the flat design of the OnePlus 6. Personally, I’m not one of those people, but the 400mAh of extra battery capacity makes this design change just about worth it.

The display of the OnePlus 6T has a slightly smaller bottom bezel than the OnePlus 6, but honestly, the delta is hardly noticeable. The biggest physical change seen on the front of this device is the new teardrop-style notch.

OnePlus 6T vs OnePlus 6

While the OnePlus 6’s notch was quite small in its own right, the 6T reduces the notch even further, resulting in an obstruction hardly larger than the single front-facing camera. OnePlus managed to shift the earpiece into the frame of the device, allowing for a noticeably reduced notch. I didn’t think this would make that big of a difference, but it was definitely noticeable while watching fullscreen content.

Related: Best OnePlus 6T cases and accessories

On the bottom of the device you’ll find a USB Type-C port and two speaker grills. Sadly only one of the grills is real. I really would have loved to see stereo speakers on this device, and the fake speaker grill seems like a pretty major waste of space. I suppose we’ll have to hope for one in the OnePlus 7.

I don’t buy OnePlus’ reasoning for removing the headphone jack.

OnePlus has also removed the headphone jack, apparently to increase battery capacity and make the sound chamber bigger. I don’t really buy this reasoning. I understand we now live in a world where the headphone jack is as good as dead in mobile devices, but it’s frustrating having one less company keeping it alive.

OnePlus 6T screen outside

OnePlus 6T review: Display

The OnePlus 6T sports a 6.41-inch optic AMOLED display with a resolution of 2,340 x 1,080 and a pixel density of 402ppi. If you’re worried that 1080p isn’t good enough, don’t. You probably won’t notice the difference between 1080p and 1440p unless you’re watching content specifically tailored for that resolution, and almost all mobile content looks great in 1080p.

The phone also offers a variety of different screen calibration modes upon setup, including system default, sRGB, DCI-P3, Adaptive mode, and a user-defined custom calibration profile. I left it on default, but you can always toggle these modes on and off if you want to try a different setting.

The display of the OnePlus 6T is also technically brighter than the OnePlus 6, but again the delta is hardly noticeable. The screen looks good in nearly all situations, and it doesn’t have much trouble in direct sunlight. OnePlus also offers extra features like reading modes to help you use the screen more comfortably in the evening and before bed.

OnePlus 6T cameras and back

OnePlus 6T review: Performance

OnePlus’ phones are all about being fast and smooth, and the 6T delivers on this promise. OxygenOS has been one of the most lightweight versions of Android for a while now, offering a few extra features and optimizations to make OnePlus’ phones feel fast. I never saw any significant frame drops during my time with the device, and things like Gaming Mode help give an extra boost of performance when you need it.

Also read

In benchmarks, the OnePlus 6T performs admirably, even beating out the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 in our testing.

We put the 6T through Geekbench 4, AnTuTu, and 3DMark benchmark tests. You can see the results below.

OnePlus 6T Benchmark
OnePlus 6T Benchmark
OnePlus 6T Benchmark

Geekbench 4 gave the OnePlus 6T a single-core score of 2,368. In comparison, the OnePlus 6 scored 2,454, and the Galaxy S9 scored 2,144. The OnePlus 6T achieved a multi-core score of 8,843, while the OnePlus 6 scored 8,967, and the Galaxy S9 scored 8,116.

OnePlus 6T Benchmark
OnePlus 6T Benchmark
OnePlus 6T Benchmark

The OnePlus 6T scored 4,697 in 3DMark, while the OnePlus 6 and Galaxy S9 scored 4,680 and 4,672, respectively.

OnePlus 6T Benchmark
OnePlus 6T Benchmark
OnePlus 6T Benchmark

Finally, the OnePlus 6T scored 292,266 in AnTuTu, compared to the OnePlus 6’s 262,614 and the S9’s 266,559.

OnePlus 6T back outside

OnePlus 6T review: Hardware

OnePlus doesn’t skimp on hardware. The 6T runs the same Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 as the last generation, with 6 or 8GB of RAM and 128 or 256GB of storage to boot. It’s interesting that the company would maintain the same core specifications as the OnePlus 6, but it improved on a few other departments instead to keep the device worth buying.

You’re trading a headphone jack and some thickness for more battery, an in-screen fingerprint reader, and a smaller notch.

OnePlus bumped the battery capacity in the OnePlus 6T from 3,300 to 3,700mAh, which it says should increase battery life by about 20 percent. Technically this is only a 12 percent capacity increase, but software improvements in RAM management help boost the 6T’s total screen-on time.

I frequently got around eight hours of screen-on time, some of the best battery life I’ve ever had in a smartphone. 

OnePlus 6T Battery Life
OnePlus 6T Battery Life

This is some of the best battery life I have ever had in an Android phone,  and the OnePlus 6T doesn’t even have a monster battery like the 4,000mAh Razer Phone 2 or 4,200mAh Huawei Mate 20 Pro. Software adjustments aiding in RAM management are being pushed to the OnePlus 6 as well, so its battery live should improve too.

OnePlus 6T fingerprint reader

Probably the most highly marketed addition to the OnePlus 6T is the in-screen fingerprint reader. This optical reader shoots light up at your finger to read your print. It completely replaces the fingerprint reader on the rear of the device and works for logging into secure apps, as well as unlocking the device.

Unfortunately, this scanner is often rather slow and sometimes inaccurate, though it’s definitely much better than first-generation readers in phones like the Huawei Mate RS. The technology still seems to need another generation to mature before it is as seamless as traditional fingerprint readers. OnePlus says this should get better over time, learning your fingerprint as you use it. I haven’t found this to be the case during my 11 days with the device, but I hope the success rate gets better after a few software updates.

Related: Best Bluetooth headphones for your headphone jack-less OnePlus 6T

As mentioned before, the OnePlus 6T jettisons the headphone jack, replacing it with a fake speaker grill. This move doesn’t make a lot of sense to me, but OnePlus said it needed that space for a bigger battery and larger sound chamber. OnePlus also said it had been planning this move for a while and thought now was the right time. User polls would strongly suggest against that, but it is what it is.

OnePlus 6T camera app

OnePlus 6T review: Camera

The OnePlus 6T has two cameras on the rear — one 16MP main shooter with a f/1.7 aperture and OIS, and a secondary 20MP shooter primarily used for depth sensing. The front-facing camera is 16MP.

OnePlus hasn’t actually updated the camera hardware in the OnePlus 6T, but it made some adjustments to its processing and portrait algorithms, as well as adding a new Night Mode setting. The OnePlus 6’s camera wasn’t exactly bad, but it seemed a bit desaturated and soft compared to its competitors. This remains true here, though I definitely noticed better color and sharpness in better lit scenarios.

OnePlus 6T Sample Photo

While photos are definitely flatter than other mobile cameras on the market, I personally prefer this kind of processing to overly punchy, highly saturated sensors. Sharpness is good but not overdone like many mobile cameras right now.


The 6T struggles pretty badly in dimly lit scenarios. To reduce noise, the sensor will add a lot of smoothing, which makes images pretty muddy. To get around this, OnePlus has added a new “Night” mode, which takes a long exposure to increase sharpness and dynamic range. If you were hoping this mode would magically turn night into day like Night Sight on the Pixel, you will be sorely disappointed. This mode definitely aids in sharpness a little bit, but it’s hardly noticeable.

OnePlus gloated about this feature quite a bit, mentioning how its two-second exposure was much shorter than most other night modes on the market. While this is technically true, it takes about four or five seconds to fully process, which is still pretty long.

OnePlus 6T selfie
OnePlus 6T selfie

The front-facing camera on the OnePlus 6T is a bit soft. In both standard mode and portrait mode it tends to smooth out skin. This could look good in some circumstances, but here it just looks artificial. It’s also even more desaturated than the rear camera and tends to wash faces out.

OnePlus 6T Portrait Mode
OnePlus 6T Portrait mode

Portrait mode, on the other hand, is quite good. Cutouts are generally solid, though accuracy can be hit or miss at times. In the examples above, you can see how the camera had trouble with the subject’s ears when photographed against a similarly-colored wall. Even so, I’m happy with the sharpness in this mode.

Specialized portrait modes are coming, but have not yet materialized, so we’ll have to wait and see how well they work.

OnePlus 6T night mode
OnePlus 6T night mode

Finally, we get to night mode, which OnePlus designed to help with dynamic range and sharpness in dimly-lit scenes. This definitely seems to be the case, and it is actually quite good at preserving highlights. The mode will also give you more detail where night scenes would generally be a bit smudgy, which is nice to see. This is effectively the same result as Google’s HDR+ mode which takes almost no time to process though, so I really think they should just add this processing into the default auto mode.

Check out our full gallery below to see a wide variety of samples from our review period, or you can pixel peep them in full resolution here!

OnePlus 6T screen outside

OnePlus 6T review: Software

OxygenOS is my favorite skin of Android ever. It hasn’t changed much since the OnePlus 6, but I don’t really care. The 6T launches with Android 9.0 Pie, with some updated navigation gestures to make the phone a bit easier to use, and some background optimizations.

The first improvement is something called Smart Boost, which takes advantage of the extra RAM OnePlus  crammed into the device to store key app data in memory, allowing them to open between five and 20 percent faster. Because two of the three models OnePlus offers have 8GB of RAM, there is plenty of extra memory to be had. Even the 6GB model likely handles this fine.

OxygenOS is my favorite skin of Android ever.

Smart Boost works on apps selected by OnePlus — primarily a selection of gaming apps, though more optimized apps are planned for the future. It would be nice to see some kind of system-wide or user-selected app data storage, but that probably won’t happen. Either way, it’s a clever way to utilize unused hardware.

OnePlus has also updated its Gaming Mode by allowing for transparent floating message notifications. Gaming Mode has traditionally blocked all incoming notifications and messages to allow for a distraction-free experience, but OnePlus now allows for more customization around what gets through.

Besides those changes, there isn’t a lot new here. Android Pie offers updates too numerous to explain in this review, so we suggest you head over to our dedicated Android 9.0 Pie review to see what all the fuss is about.

All of these software tweaks and improvements will be coming to the OnePlus 6 as well.

OnePlus 6T specs

  OnePlus 6T
Display 6.41-inch AMOLED
2,340 x 1,080 resolution
402ppi
19.5:9 screen ratio
Corning Gorilla Glass 6
SoC Qualcomm Snapdragon 845
Octa-core, 10nm, up to 2.8GHz
GPU Adreno 630
RAM 6GB/8GB LPDDR4X
Storage 128GB/256GB
UFS 2.1 2-LANE
Cameras Rear cameras
Main: 16MP, f/1.7 aperture
Secondary: 20MP, f/1.7 aperture
OIS & EIS
Video: 4K resolution video at 30/60fps

Front cameras
Main: 16MP, f/2.0 aperture
EIS: Yes
Video: 1080P video at 30fps

Audio USB 2.0 Type-C
No headphone jack
Bottom-facing speaker
Dirac HD Sound
Dirac Power Sound
Battery 3,700mAh battery
Non-removable
Fast Charge (5V 4A)
IP rating N/A
Sensors In-screen fingerprint sensor
Hall
Accelerometer
Gyroscope
Proximity
Ambient light sensor
Electronic compass
Sensor hub
Network LTE: Supports 5xCA, 64QAM, 256QAM & 4×4 MIMO,
up to DL CAT16 (1Gbps)/UL CAT13 (150 Mbps) depending on carrier support

NA/EU: FDD LTE: Band 1/2/3/4/5/7/8/12/13/17/18/19/20/25/26/28/29/30/32/66/71
TDD LTE: Band 34/38/39/40/41/46
TD-SCDMA: Band 34/39
UMTS(WCDMA): Band 1/2/4/5/8/9/19
CDMA: BC0/BC1GSM: 850/900/1800/1900 MHz

CN/IN: FDD LTE: Band 1/2/3/4/5/7/8/1213/17/18/19/20/25/26/28/29/66
TDD LTE: Band 34/38/39/40/41
TD-SCDMA: Band 34/39
UMTS(WCDMA): Band 1/2/4/5/8/9/19
CDMA: BC0/BC1
GSM: 850/900/1800/1900 MHz

Connectivity Wi-Fi: 2×2 MIMO, Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, 2.4G/5G
Bluetooth 5.0, support aptX & aptX HD
NFC
GPS, GLONASS, BeiDou, Galile
WLAN
SIM Dual nano-SIM slot (single on T-Mobile model)
Software OxygenOS based on Android 9 Pie
Colors Mirror Black, Midnight Black
In-box USB Type-C to 3.5mm adapter
Screen protector (pre-applied)
Translucent phone Case
OnePlus Fast Charge Type-C cable
OnePlus Fast Charge power adapter
SIM tray ejector
Quick start guide
Safety information

OnePlus 6T podcast!

OnePlus 6T price and availability

The OnePlus 6T is available now from OnePlus.com and T-Mobile in the United States. This is actually the biggest news of the entire launch, as this is the first time a OnePlus device has been widely available in the United States through a carrier.

You can walk into any of the 5,600 T-Mobile stores throughout the United States and buy the device today, though it will only be available in the 8GB and 128GB model for $579. Keep in mind the T-Mobile variant is a different SKU, meaning you’ll likely get software updates a bit slower than if you bought the device directly from OnePlus.

Check out our dedicated article here to see the differences between the unlocked and T-Mobile models.

The pricing of the OnePlus 6 is as follows:

  • 6GB RAM /128GB Storage— $549
  • 8GB RAM /128GB Storage— $579
  • 8GB RAM/256GB Storage — $629

Global pricing and availability can be found right here.

OnePlus 6T screen on windowsill

OnePlus 6T review: Final thoughts

Starting at $549, OnePlus’ latest flagship is still one of the best deals you can get on a smartphone right now. No other manufacturer has perfected the marriage of hardware and software quite as well as OnePlus, and even Google is still having issues optimizing its vision of Android for its hardware.

It’s impossible to review the OnePlus 6T without comparing it to the OnePlus 6. The two devices are so similar, there is no way I can recommend upgrading to the OnePlus 6T if you already own a OnePlus 6. Both phones have almost the exact same specifications, save the battery and in-screen fingerprint reader. The 6 will even get all the software improvements in the 6T.

If you’re on something like a 5T or older, very few devices offer the speed and power of the OnePlus 6T for under $600. This phone is even more of a steal if you take advantage of T-Mobile’s trade-in deal to get the 8GB and 128GB model for just $279. That’s basically robbery for a device of this quality.

As usual, you won’t be disappointed with OnePlus’ new phone. It doesn’t have specialized features like an S Pen or a 40MP camera, but it nails the fundamentals to a higher degree than nearly any other device in the Android ecosystem. If you’re looking for the best value on a U.S. carrier right now, the OnePlus 6T is it.

Next: The best Android phones you can buy

Huawei Mate 20 Pro review: The phone for power users

Let’s get it out of the way. You’ll probably want to buy the Mate 20 Pro. It’s sexy, it’s powerful, it’s one of the best phones you can get right now. The real question is if you should pay no less than 1,050 euros (~$1,205) for the privilege of owning it. Or should you “settle” for one of the many great alternatives and save some money in the process?

It’s not an easy question — we’ll spend this in-depth Huawei Mate 20 Pro review trying to answer it. Buckle up!

huawei mate 20 pro twilight variant

About our Huawei Mate 20 Pro review

I wrote this review after spending around ten days with a Mate 20 Pro review unit supplied by Huawei. The phone (model LYA-L29) was the Twilight dual-SIM version, with 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage. It ran EMUI 9.0 out of the box, with the October 2018 security patch and build number C432E10R1P16. I used it mostly on my home Wi-Fi network, as well as Orange Romania’s 4G+ network.

Technically, the software on the review unit was non-final, but Huawei said it’s indicative of the final release software. According to the company, features like 3D Live Object Modeling and AI Color, will roll out to the phone over the next weeks. We will update this Mate 20 Pro review when these features become available.

My colleague David Imel spent a similar amount of time with another Mate 20 Pro review unit. You can watch his video review at the top of this post.

What’s in the box

huawei mate 20 pro retail box

usb type-c headphones that are bundled with the huawei mate 20 pro twilight
the supercharge fast charger brick bundled with the huawei mate 20 pro

The Mate 20 Pro comes in a simple black box with a charger, a pair of white USB Type-C earbuds, a USB Type-C-to-3.5mm audio adapter, and a basic silicone case.

Editor’s Pick

The charger can go up to 40W and it’s very fast (more about that later). The transparent case will do fine for the first few days, but it gets very grimy so you’ll probably want to pick up something nicer. The wired earbuds look a lot like Apple’s. They are very light and they don’t insulate noise from outside, but they sound surprisingly good, with nice bass and clear highs. Definitely give them a try before you throw them in a drawer.

Design and build quality

Huawei is one of the elite few phone makers competitors tend to copy. The company has been putting out great designs for years, even while its software has struggled to keep up. That doesn’t mean Huawei shies away from copying others when it suits it. The Mate 20 Pro embodies both approaches: the front takes cues from Apple and Samsung, and the back is uniquely Huawei.

Huawei Mate 20 screen

The Mate 20 Pro’s front looks like every other flagship that launched this past few months. There’s a big notch up top — not as big as the Pixel 3 XL’s thankfully — with rounded corners and thin bezels on the sides and bottom. The edges of the screen curve down into a thin aluminum frame, much like the Galaxy S9 Plus.

The Mate 20 Pro’s triple-camera boldly positions Huawei as a design leader

The symmetrical tapered edges of the phone are also very Samsung-like. The thin power button and volume rocker are on the right-hand side. They’re nice and responsive, but placed a little too close together, and can result in accidental screenshots. On all color options, the power button is a lovely orange-reddish hue. It’s a nice accent that gives the phone more personality.

the colored power button on the side of the huawei mate 20 pro twilight

The back of the Mate 20 Pro is dominated by the square camera module. Huawei calls it “Simply Iconic” and boasts about the resemblance it bears to the headlights of certain luxury cars, particularly Porsche.

back of huawei mate 20 pro twilight with water droplets on it

Editor’s Pick

I personally love it. It’s fresh and it instantly sets the phone apart from anything else out there. Others will hate it — I heard the term “kitchen stove” from a couple fellow reviewers. Regardless how you feel about it, the Mate 20’s triple camera is a big, bold statement meant to show Huawei is a design leader, not a follower. It remains to be seen if others will embrace this design, as triple cameras go mainstream.

Color options

The Mate 20 Pro is available in five versions: Pink Gold, Midnight Blue, Emerald Green, Twilight, and Black. My favorite is Emerald Green, which is a gorgeous bluish-green hue. Emerald Green and Midnight Blue both have a textured pattern on the back, but you won’t really notice it unless you scratch the surface with your fingernail, which gives off a satisfying rattling noise. The texture helps stave off fingerprints, which are a pain on the non-textured color versions. Regardless, it’s still glass, so you’ll want a good case on it. Twilight and Pink Gold feature Huawei’s distinctive shifting paint jobs. I am not a fan personally, but if you enjoy attention, these are the versions to get. Finally, Black is just black.

Mate 20 Pro in Midnight Blue and Emerald Green held in hand

Mate 20 Pro in Midnight Blue and Emerald Green

The Mate 20 Pro is a relatively hefty phone. It weighs 189 grams and I found myself having to shift it around after holding it in one hand for more than a few minutes. The good news is it’s narrow enough to use with one hand without constantly worrying about dropping it. It also feels very nice in the hand, thanks to the thin rounded sides.

Display

The OLED screen on the Mate 20 Pro is expansive, beautiful, and bright. I had no problems using it at roughly 40 percent brightness indoors.

the front of the Huawei Mate 20 Pro showing the notch

The tall 1,440 x 3,120 format is a mixed blessing. You can use the 6.39-inch phone with one hand, but at the same time it can be hard to balance it in the palm of your hand — especially if you prefer the classic navigation bar instead of navigation gestures.

The Mate 20 Pro’s OLED screen is expansive, beautiful, and bright.

If you really care about high pixel densities, make sure you go into settings and change the resolution to QHD+. Otherwise, the phone uses the default Smart setting, which changes the resolution dynamically in order to save power. In my experience, I didn’t see any real difference between QHD+ and Full HD+, so the latter is a good compromise between power consumption and image quality.

the curved screen of the huawei mate 20 pro twilight

By default, the Mate 20 Pro uses the Vivid color setting, which amps up the colors. You can switch to Normal, for a more true-to-life experience, and also customize the color temperature, from cool to warm and everything in between. There’s also a setting to automatically adjust colors based on ambient light, offering a “paper-like experience,” but I really didn’t see a difference.

Deep in the display settings you’ll find a way to “hide” the notch, basically turning the area around the notch black at all times. It’s great if you find the notch an eye-sore, but it won’t do anything about the cramped status bar, which is the biggest offense I take when it comes to notches. At least Huawei put the notch to good use. The black strip houses the front-facing camera, the earpiece (which doubles as a secondary speaker), and the emitters and sensors for the 3D face unlock system.

huawei mate 20 pro with notch set to hidden
huawei mate 20 pro with visible notch

Core specs

Just like smartphone design, smartphone specs have been converging — especially at the high end of the market. However, the Huawei Mate 20 Pro stands out for a couple of reasons.

Read: Huawei Mate 20 and 20 Pro specs: There’s a clear winner

The Mate 20 Pro runs on a Kirin 980 processor, designed by Huawei’s own HiSilicon division. That alone makes the Mate 20 Pro stand out from virtually all other 2018 Android flagships, which use Snapdragon 845 chips from Qualcomm.

huawei mate 20 pro review - core specs

Huawei’s control over the processor allowed it to focus heavily on AI. The Kirin 980 has two neural processing units (NPUs) designed for real-time photo manipulation, live translation, and other AI-reliant tasks. AI is used in multiple areas of the Mate 20 Pro, but most users will only interact with the AI imaging features. We’ll talk more about them in the camera section of our Mate 20 Pro review.

Editor’s Pick

The Kirin 980 is an octa-core chip built on the state-of-the-art 7-nanometer manufacturing process, which packs transistors closer together, resulting in better performance and smaller power consumption compared to older processes.

The Mate 20 Pro is available with 6 or 8GB of RAM and 128 or 256GB of storage, depending on the market. The phone comes with a new type of expandable storage called Nano Memory, instead of the popular microSD. We don’t know many details about this new type of memory card, other than it supports capacities of 256GB and write speeds of up to 90MB/second.

The problem is Nano Memory has no obvious benefits for consumers (unless it turns out it’s much cheaper than microSD) and one obvious disadvantage: you can only buy it from Huawei. While the company’s CEO told Android Authority Huawei wants to make Nano Memory an industry standard, no other company has pledged to support it so far.

huawei mate 20 pro twilight with empty hybrid tray for nano memory and SIM

Because the card is exactly the same size as a nano-SIM card, Huawei was able to use a tiny, double-sided hybrid tray for SIM and memory, saving internal space in the process.

Nano Memory is a Huawei exclusive for now

Side note: Huawei placed a microphone right by the Mate 20 Pro’s SIM tray. Make sure you don’t poke your microphone with the SIM tool, like this hapless reviewer did.

Huawei Mate 20 USB Type C port

Performance

The Mate 20 Pro runs just as smoothly as you would expect from a current high-end phone. I haven’t encountered any lag episodes worth mentioning, though David noticed a few snags on his unit, especially when switching apps. Performance during gaming and general use was blazing fast.

Blazing gaming performance and snappy general use.

Let’s talk about benchmarks for a minute. Huawei was recently caught gaming benchmark results by setting its phones to “Performance Mode” when running popular benchmarking apps. This peak performance wasn’t actually accessible in real life applications, as Huawei programmed its devices to throttle themselves in order to save power. After the news broke, the company pledged to drop this misleading practice and to make the Performance Mode accessible to all apps as part of EMUI 9.

The Mate 20 Pro lets you enable Performance Mode from the battery settings and it has a noticeable effect, but only in benchmarks.

Running AnTuTu with Performance Mode on and off results in a massive difference. Without it, the Mate 20 Pro barely manages to rank among AnTuTu’s top ten fastest phones, scoring between 240,000 and 280,000 points. With Performance Mode enabled, my Mate 20 Pro review unit hit over 304,000 points, ranking first and beating dedicated gaming phones like the Asus ROG or Xiaomi Black Shark.

huawei mate 20 pro review antutu benchmark with performance mode on and off

Left: Performance Mode off. Right: Performance Mode on.

In non-benchmarking use, I haven’t seen any real improvements in the speed or smoothness of the Mate 20 Pro with Performance Mode on. Considering this mode has a noticeable impact on battery life, most users will want to keep it off.

Other hardware features

The Huawei Mate 20 Pro is the first major, mainstream phone with an in-display fingerprint sensor. We’ve previously seen the feature on Vivo phones, and OnePlus is getting ready to release the OnePlus 6T with an in-display fingerprint reader at the end of the month.

Huawei’s implementation works very well, and it’s definitely a step up over the Vivo X21, which I reviewed back in May. The phone unlocks very fast, though it’s still not as fast as some conventional fingerprint readers. The only times I had issues with the reader was when touching it with the sides of my thumb — in these cases, I had to press harder for the fingerprint to register.

in-screen fingerprint reader showing on the screen of the huawei mate 20 pro twilight

You probably won’t need to use the fingerprint reader much if you enable the face recognition function on the Mate 20 Pro. The phone projects an array of infrared dots on your face, forming a 3D map that is compared to the reference data collected during setup — similar to the iPhone X’s feature.

The feature is usually fast and accurate, though a little inconsistent. Sometimes, the phone unlocks almost instantly, others times it takes one or two seconds. It’s not a huge issue, but it’s a little jarring when you have to wait.

Editor’s Pick

Biometric authentication works with the App Lock and PrivateSpace features, as well. App Lock lets you lock access to specific apps until the phone detects your face or fingerprint — great for keeping kids out of sensitive apps. PrivateSpace lets you set up a completely separate workspace that opens when you use a specific fingerprint. You could use this function to hide stuff from prying eyes or simply to keep your work and personal apps separate.

face enroll screen on huawei mate 20 pro

The Huawei Mate 20 Pro features IP68 dust and water resistance. The phone has an IR blaster at the top, and the preloaded remote control app is pretty good. Finally, the dual-SIM tray lets you use two cellular services, but only one of the SIMs can be used for data or voice calls at a time.

Battery and (very) fast charging

Without doubt, the battery is the highlight of the Huawei Mate 20 Pro. If you care about battery life primarily, this phone is worth the premium for its huge battery and fast charging alone.

The Mate 20 Pro features a 4,200mAh battery — about five percent more than the Galaxy Note 9, 22 percent more than the Pixel 3 XL, 27 percent more than the LG V40 ThinQ, and 32 percent more than the iPhone XS Max. Battery life depends on other factors besides the capacity of the battery, but it’s hard to argue with these numbers.

The Mate 20 Pro is worth the premium for its record-setting battery and extremely fast charging alone.

I routinely got more than 7.5 hours of screen-on time out of the Mate 20 Pro, with medium usage, auto-brightness on, Performance Mode off, and the dark UI theme. With heavier usage, including gaming, running benchmarks, and more YouTube streaming, I got between six and seven hours of screen-on time. Light and medium users will probably only need to charge every two or two and a half days. Even if you’re a heavy user, this phone should easily last you a full day and then some.

huawei mate 20 pro review twilight screen on time battery statistics

The Mate 20 Pro charges incredibly fast with the 40W charger included in the box. Huawei says its goes from zero to 70 percent in 30 minutes. In my testing, it was even faster, hitting 73 percent in 30 minutes. The phone charges five percent every two minutes and doesn’t get exceedingly hot in the process.

We’ve seen fast-charging phones before, but the Mate 20 Pro also has the largest battery out of any mainstream device. That it charges so fast with the bundled charger — no need to spend extra on a separate one — is especially impressive.

charging graph huawei mate 20 pro twilight

As an aside, according to Huawei’s CEO Richard Yu, the company could have put an even bigger 4,500mAh battery on the Mate 20 Pro, but opted for the 4,200mAh unit in order to make the 40W charging possible.

The Mate 20 Pro is the first phone on the market to support 15W wireless charging. I wasn’t able to test this, but Huawei claims it’s significantly faster than the iPhone XS Max and other competitors.

The icing on the cake is the reverse wireless charging. You can use the Mate 20 Pro to wirelessly charge any Qi-enabled device. Just turn the feature on in the settings, place the device you want to charge on the back of the Mate 20 Pro, and off it goes.

However, reverse wireless charging is pretty slow. With a Galaxy S9 Plus, it took a few minutes for each percent of battery life. It’s a little finicky, too. You need to align the two devices closely, and charging stops if you move them too much around. You won’t be able to just throw the two phones in a pocket and forget about them.

galaxy s9 plus reverse wireless charging from huawei mate 20 pro

You’ll need to enable reverse wireless charging from battery settings every time you use it, as it auto-disables to save power if you don’t use it for a while. Also, you won’t be able to use it when battery life is below 20 percent.

It may be tempting to dismiss reverse wireless charging as just a cool party trick, but we all know how stressful an empty battery can be. In those situations, every little bit of juice helps.

Sound

There is no 3.5mm audio jack on the Huawei Mate 20 Pro. It’s one of the very few legitimately important features missing from the device. The bundled USB Type-C earbuds are pretty decent, and you can also use your favorite headphones with the bundled adapter.

usb type-c earbuds shipping with the huawei mate 20 pro

The Mate 20 Pro has two speakers cleverly hidden in the USB Type-C port and the earpiece. The one in the Type-C port is the main one, and gets a bit louder. Surprisingly, it only gets muffled a little when you plug in the Type-C cable to charge the phone.

The phone gets decently loud, though not as loud as the Galaxy S9 Plus. Sound is a little tinier than the Samsung flagship as well.

Don’t miss: The best headphones with USB Type-C

Camera

The Huawei Mate 20 Pro camera has plenty of great features and a few strong points, but also some weaknesses.

The Mate 20 Pro features three cameras on the back: a primary 40MP one with f/1.8 aperture; a telephoto 8MP with f/2.4 aperture and OIS; and a 20MP ultra-wide with f/2.2 aperture. On the front, there’s a single 24MP camera.

the three cameras on the back of the huawei mate 20 pro twilight

It’s a highly versatile camera system that lets you shoot everything from macro details to long-distance, zoomed-in scenery. It can be great in skilled hands, but can also turn out some mediocre shots if you just shoot in auto.

It’s an impressively versatile camera that lets you shoot everything from macro details to sweeping scenery

David got some great shots out of the Huawei Mate 20 Pro. He noted he usually needed to lower the exposure manually, as the phone tends to overexpose in order to extract more details out of shadows.






I, on the other hand, just point and shoot in auto mode. I occasionally struggled to get good pics in low light.



The Mate 20 Pro is not terrible in low light auto mode, but I was expecting better. My Pixel 2, with its single camera, does a better job. It’s possible that Huawei’s auto algorithms are not as good as its hardware, and image quality could improve with future updates. If that happens, we’ll revisit this Huawei Mate 20 Pro review.

Inconsistent image quality aside, the Mate 20 Pro is a powerful camera phone. I love how you can switch between the different lenses with a simple swipe.

camera screen on huawei mate 20 pro

The wide-angle camera is great when you need to get more stuff in one shot, be it more people, an entire room, or a sweeping landscape.

It’s also great for taking close-ups: In wide-angle mode, the Mate 20 Pro can focus on objects that are just a couple of centimeters away from the lens. That’s a unique feature on smartphones, as far as I know. If you enjoy macro photography, you’ll love this phone.

Macro shot of moss on a tree taken on Huawei Mate 20 Pro

Macro shot of moss on a tree

The telephoto lens’ 3X optical zoom is great for framing nice portraits or for closing in on distant details. You can zoom up to 10X in total, and it’s way better than what most phones can do.

huawei mate 20 pro zoom in sample

Left: 1X. Right: 10X.

Portrait mode is pretty great and you can couple it with the 3X optical zoom for a more powerful effect. Using aperture mode, you can play with the depth of field after you take the shot and you can also apply filters — e.g. make the background black-and-white, but keep the subject in color.

portrait taken on Huawei Mate 20 Pro

Night mode is meant for very dark conditions — you need to hold the phone as still as possible for four seconds, while the camera captures multiple frames at different ISO values and combines them into one image. It could help you get a picture in otherwise unshootable conditions.

Stage Lighting shot on Mate 20 Pro

Stage Lighting shot on Mate 20 Pro

The selfie camera is pretty good, though pics sometimes turn out too soft. You can play with some silly tools to spruce up your selfies, including an Apple-style stage lighting option.

There are many other camera features and options, like monochrome, live video filters, AR lens, light painting, time-lapse, and even an underwater mode. The camera app itself is well designed and easy to use.

You can also choose to enable Huawei’s Master AI mode from the camera settings. It attempts to recognize and apply the best settings for each scene (e.g. cat, historic building, greenery, clouds). I didn’t see a huge difference with or without it, but your mileage may vary.

The Huawei Mate 20 Pro camera is feature-packed, powerful, and versatile. If you take the time to learn it inside out and tweak your settings for each scene, it will reward you with some great results. Let’s just hope Huawei works on the auto algorithm for low light.

Full resolution camera samples are available in this Google Drive folder.

Software

The first Huawei device I ever used, the Ascend Mate 7, had pretty bad software. It was busy, unpolished, and a little ugly. Four generations later, the software on the Mate 20 Pro is much improved. There are still some small issues and Huawei still needlessly copies Apple in some areas, but overall I really enjoy using the Mate 20 Pro.

The phone runs EMUI 9.0, based on Android Pie. Kudos to Huawei for offering Pie out of the box.

front view of huawei mate 20 pro twilight

You can choose between the conventional three-key navigation bar, a gesture-based interface, or a navigation dock. I liked the gesture-based interface the most: swipe up from the bottom to go to the home screen, swipe up and hold to go to recent apps, swipe from either edge to go back. It’s intuitive and easier to use on a tall phone than the navigation bar, though it tends to interfere with apps where you swipe from the sides to open menus, like Sync for Reddit or Slack.

You can choose between using an app drawer or just dumping everything on the homescreen. The app drawer itself looks great. The quick settings menu is pretty and functional. The settings section is generally intuitive — reorganized for EMUI 9 — though some settings are hidden in unexpected places.

huawei mate 20 pro twilight showing app drawer

You have lots of customization options, including my personal favorite, a system-wide dark mode that looks great on the OLED screen and also helps save battery.

Dark mode looks fantastic and helps save battery.

I recently started using Digital Wellbeing on my Pixel 2 to cut down on my phone usage, and I was happy to see similar functionality on the Mate 20 Pro. It’s called Digital Balance, and it actually has a few extra features, like granular usage statistics and a limit on your daily total screen time. Fun fact, I unlocked the Mate 20 Pro over 600 times in the making of this review, or every 16 minutes on average.

huawei mate 20 pro with open quick settings drawer

I noticed a number of small bugs and usability issues. Even with media volume set to zero, there’s a tiny “click” sound when loading autoplaying content in apps like Twitter or Chrome. You can’t swipe back from the app drawer. On the home screen, you can’t tap the names of apps to open them, but weirdly you can in the app drawer. The 3D emoji — an Apple feature Huawei basically cloned — are janky and sometimes fail to record your facial expressions. I also spotted a couple typos in the UI, though nothing egregious. We’ll revisit these issues once Huawei rolls out the promised update in a few days.

My Mate 20 Pro review unit came preloaded with a few Huawei utilities, as well as two third-party apps — eBay and Booking.com. In other words, bloatware isn’t too bad, though that tends to vary from market to market.

huawei mate 20 pro with a game on the screen

All in all, EMUI 9 is not flawless, but it’s clearly an improvement over previous versions. I still think the Pixel line has a better, more intuitive, and easier to use UI. That I’m even comparing them should be taken as high praise for Huawei.

Huawei Mate 20 Pro review conclusion: Is it worth the money?

The Mate 20 Pro is a powerful, feature-packed, exciting phone. It looks gorgeous, it feels great in the hand, and it runs solid software. It charges wickedly fast and can chug along for days on a single charge. Its biggest issue is the inconsistent low-light image quality, but even that is offset by the sheer versatility of its cameras.

I personally love the Mate 20 Pro and I think you will love it too. But… I didn’t have to pay for the phone I reviewed. Would I spend 1,050 euros on a Mate 20 Pro? I don’t think I would, only because I wouldn’t spend that kind of money on any phone.

Lots of people don’t mind paying a premium for true quality. If you only change your phone every two or three years, it makes sense to get something nice. If you’re like that, the Huawei Mate 20 Pro is probably the best phone you can get today.

Perhaps the most desireable phone on the market right now.

Other phones may beat the Mate 20 Pro in specific areas. The Pixel 3 XL can take better pictures with less effort. The V40 has better sound. The Note 9 is just as powerful and comes with the S Pen, a headphone jack and a non-proprietary memory slot. These are all great phones for power users, just like Huawei’s flagship. But then the Mate 20 Pro has a 40MP main sensor, good wide angle and telephoto lenses, reverse wireless charging, 40W rapid charging, 3D face unlock, an in-screen fingerprint scanner, and crazy battery life. Where other phones lean on one great special feature to justify their price tags, the Mate 20 Pro has a bunch of them.

Bottom line, you won’t find a more desirable phone on the market right now.

Huawei Mate 20 and Mate 20 Pro

A note on U.S. availability

The Huawei Mate 20 Pro may be a great phone, but it’s not good enough for the U.S. government. Suspicions over Huawei’s alleged ties with the Chinese government have caused an almost complete ban on the company’s smartphones in the U.S.

Huawei confirmed it would not be selling the Mate 20 Pro in the States, forcing would-be customers to look into importing a unit from other countries. That’s definitely an option, but prices of imported phones tend to be higher than the manufacturer’s suggested retail price, potentially making the Mate 20 Pro even more expensive.

If you decide to import one or pick one up directly from an overseas store, make sure to check the supported bands (you can in see them in the specs table below) against the bands used by your carrier in the area you live.

Which variant should you choose?

Editor’s Pick

If it’s an option, we suggest getting the dual-SIM model, with 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage, in either Emerald Green or Midnight Blue (fewer fingerprints). While some markets will get the model with 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage as an option, the 6GB/128GB variant should be good enough for most users. You might be tempted to choose the slightly cheaper Mate 20 instead – while they look similar, the Mate 20 has a poorer screen, a less impressive camera, slower charging, and comes with a lower water resistance rating.

Full specs

  Huawei Mate 20 Pro
Display 6.39-inch curved OLED
3,120 x 1,440 resolution
538 ppi
19.5:9 aspect ratio
DCI-P3
Processor Huawei Kirin 980
Octa-core CPU (2 @ 2.6GHz, 2 @ 1.92GHz, 4 @ 1.8GHz)
Dual NPU
GPU Mali-G76 720MHz
RAM 6GB/8GB
Storage 128GB/256GB
NM (nano memory) card slot
Battery 4,200mAh
40W Huawei Supercharge
Can be used as a wireless charger for other Qi-enabled devices
15W wireless charging
Cameras Rear:
Main: 40MP sensor, f/1.8 aperture
Second: 8MP 3x telephoto sensor, OIS, f/2.4 aperture
Third: 20MP ultra-wide sensor, f/2.2 aperture, 16mm focal length equivalent
Front: 24MP RGB sensor
Network LYA-L29:
Primary SIM card:
4G LTE TDD: B34 / B38 / B39 / B40
4G LTE FDD: B1 / B2 / B3 / B4 / B5 / B6 / B7 / B8 / B9 / B12 / B17 / B18 / B19 / B20 / B26 / B28 / B32
3G WCDMA: B1 / B2 / B4 / B5 / B6 (Japan) / B8 / B19 (Japan);
3G TD-SCDMA: B34 / B39
2G GSM: B2 / B3 / B5 / B8 (850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900 MHz)
Secondary SIM card:
4G LTE TDD: B34 / B38 / B39 / B40
4G LTE FDD: B1 / B2 / B3 / B4 / B5 / B6 / B7 / B8 / B9 / B12 / B17 / B18 / B19 / B20 / B26 / B28
3G WCDMA: B1 / B2 / B4 / B5 / B6 / B8 / B19
2G GSM: B2 / B3 / B5 / B8 (850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900 MHz)

LYA-L09:
4G LTE TDD: B34 / B38 / B39 / B40
4G LTE FDD: B1 / B2 / B3 / B4 / B5 / B6 / B7 / B8 / B9 / B12 / B17 / B18 / B19 / B20 / B26 / B28 / B32
3G WCDMA: B1 / B2 / B4 / B5 / B6 (Japan) / B8 / B19 (Japan);
3G TD-SCDMA: B34 / B39
2G GSM: B2 / B3 / B5 / B8 (850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900 MHz)

Connectivity 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac (wave2), 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz
Bluetooth 5.0, BLE, SBC, AAC, aptX, aptX HD, LDAC and HWA Audio
Type-C, USB 3.1 GEN1
Type-C earjack
PC Data Synchronisation
IR blaster
GPS (L1 + L5 dual band) / AGPS / Glonass / BeiDou / Galileo (E1 + E5a dual band) / QZSS (L1 + L5 dual band)
NFC
Biometric security In-display fingerprint sensor
Dot projector, TOF proximity sensor, flood illuminator, and an IR camera for face-unlock
Headphone jack No
Dimensions 157.8 x 72.3 x 8.6mm
189g
IP rating IP68
Software version Android 9.0 Pie with EMUI 9.0
Colors Pink Gold, Midnight Blue, Emerald Green, Twilight, Black

Huawei Mate 20 series: Quick overview

Something manufacturers do to sell more phones is launch “families” of phones with similar names and looks, but very different specs (and manufacturing costs). Huawei launched five Mate 20 phones, ranging from mid-range to super-premium, clearly hoping the prestige of the flagships would rub off on the cheaper models. Here’s a breakdown, for clarity:

  • Mate 20 LiteMid-range, cheaper processor, 2017 design. 399 euros (~$455)
  • Mate 20Great core specs, but lots of features missing compared to the Pro variant. 799 euros (~$925)
  • Mate 20X – Huge screen, geared towards gamers and power-users.  899 euros (~$1,045)
  • Mate 20 Pro – The top mainstream model, full of bells and whistles. 1,049 euros (~$1,215)
  • Mate 20 RS Porsche DesignLimited-edition luxury version of Mate 20 Pro, with leather back and extra storage. 1,695 euros (~$1,965)

That concludes our Huawei Mate 20 Pro review. Let us know what you think about the phone and our impressions.

Read next: Huawei Mate 20 and Mate 20 Pro: Where to buy, when, and for how much

Lenovo Chromebook C330 review: Is this really only $279?

The problem with making laptops is keeping them fresh and competitive each year is more than a little difficult. The 2-in-1 design changed the landscape, but manufacturers still need to come up with new ways to entice customers into purchasing their latest products.

Google also helped change the landscape with the introduction of Chrome OS, promising fast performance for affordable prices with the platform’s lightweight design. The education sector ate them up, and now they’ve become popular alternatives to Windows- and macOS-based PCs.

Lenovo’s Chromebook C330 brings the simplicity of Chrome OS and marries it with the flexibility of a 2-in-1 design – all for under $300

With its new Chromebook C330, Lenovo combines both worlds at a highly affordable price: A Chrome OS-based 2-in-1 converts into laptop, stand, tent and tablet modes. It’s not exactly the largest Chromebook around, but it’s compact, and you can easily slip it into a book bag or briefcase.

For this Lenovo Chromebook C330 review, Lenovo provided us with the 81HY blizzard white model, which has a maximum 64GB of storage (the cheaper model has 32GB), 4GB of LPDDR3 memory clocked at 1,866MHz (four slots), an 11.6-inch screen, and a four-core MediaTek processor. It has a starting price of $279 and hits stores on October 21.

It all starts with the display

The Lenovo Chromebook C330 sports an 11.6-inch IPS LCD screen supporting 10-point touch input, deep rich colors and wide viewing angles. The 1,366 x 768 screen is unsurprising given the Chromebook’s price, but it also provides a 60Hz refresh rate, which is decent for running video at a smooth 60fps. The IPS panel lives up to its promise, with vivid, bright colors at any angle and no visual wash out when your melon changes position.

By comparison, Google’s Pixelbook released in early 2018 sports a slightly larger 12.3-inch screen and an impressive 2,400 x 1,600 resolution, packing 235ppi versus Lenovo’s Chromebook with 160ppi. The Pixelbook is the “luxury model” of Chromebook, with a starting price of $999 although Lenovo’s highly affordable C330 does an excellent job bringing a “luxury” feel to a sub-$300 device.

The big tease with Lenovo’s current design is the actual color scheme. When you open the lid, you’re presented with a mostly black screen and don’t really see the huge bezels on each side until you light up the display. The top and side bezels are around 0.75 inches wide, while the bottom black bezel measures an inch tall. The remaining portion of the lid is white and measures an additional inch to accommodate the 360-degree hinge. The well-hidden 720p webcam (0.9MP, fixed focus) resides in the top bezel.

Build quality

lenovo chromebook c330 hinge gap

Moving down into the main keyboard area, you’ll see noticeable gaps between the screen, the bulky hinge, and the base. That’s the trade-off of having a 360-degree hinge, but it makes the Chromebook usable in four positions: laptop, tent, stand and tablet modes. These gaps are likely more apparent due to the review unit’s blizzard white exterior, though in comparison there aren’t gaps like that in Google’s Pixelbook.

Lenovo Chromebook C330 ports left

The left side houses one USB Type-C port (5Gbps), one HDMI port, one USB-A port (5Gbps) and a full-size SD card slot. The right side plays host to an audio combo jack, the volume buttons and the power button. The Chromebook doesn’t include an Ethernet port for wired networking, but it has Wireless AC and Bluetooth connectivity. There aren’t any visible vents for heat dissipation.

lenovo chromebook c330 ports right

Unfortunately, the Chromebook’s two speakers are mounted on the bottom, pushing sound down and away from your ears. When it’s on a table, the audio sounds muffled and singular (non-stereo). Your best option here on an audible level is to view media in tent or stand mode so the speakers are pointing in your direction.

Overall, the Lenovo Chromebook C330 is quite attractive — it’s almost cute. The edges are crisp and somewhat angled, with a slight edge around the dark display area — at least with the blizzard white model. It’s slightly thicker in the front than the back although the specifications list a measurement of 11.5 (W) x 8.5 (D) x 0.8 (H) inches. It’s not horribly thick, but not quite as thin as other models at this size. Still, it’s a decent 2.65 pounds. Given its 11.6-inch size, it should be a great lightweight solution for students.

Keyboard and trackpad

Complementing a great screen is a decent keyboard. There’s no number pad or backlighting, the latter of which is unfortunate given backlit keys are becoming more of a standard. The keys are extremely large and responsive, colored dark grey with white lettering. The keys are also highly responsive and bouncy, providing a great input experience. Media keys like brightness control, audio control, and more sit along the top.

Below the keyboard is a large trackpad with a matte white finish, blending into the cool blizzard white theme. Despite its appearance, the trackpad is smooth to the touch and highly responsive, tracking our finger better than the trackpad I use on the latest MacBook Air. The trackpad measures just over four inches wide and provides a nice “click” tactile feedback when pressed.

Processor performance

Lenovo Chromebook C330

Powering the Lenovo is a MediaTek MT8173c four-core processor, featuring two “big” cores running at 2.11GHz and two “little” cores running at 1.7GHz. This chip has slightly higher speeds than the vanilla MT8173 model for tablets, hence the added “c” for Chromebooks in the label. Using Geekbench, the chip scored a 1457 in the single-core test and a 2984 score in the multi-core test.

MediaTek’s chip falls just behind the Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 used in the Samsung Galaxy S7 smartphone. In the Chromebook space, Lenovo’s C330 out-performs the Rockchip RK3399 used in the Asus Chromebook Flip C101PA and falls behind the Intel Pentium N4200 processor installed in the Acer Chromebook 15 released in late 2017.

It is not a powerhouse, but it doesn’t need to be.

Numbers aside, Lenovo’s Chromebook simply feels super zippy. The Chrome browser opened near-instantaneous, and Order and Chaos 2 took five seconds to reach the in-game connection screen. Google Sheets loaded in five seconds too — partly due to our wireless connection — while the Play Games app took around three seconds to fully load. Benchmark numbers are great when comparing Chromebook to Chromebook, but Lenovo’s model shows you don’t need a crazy beefy processor to get the job done.

Part of the overall speed relies on the integrated storage, as PCMark’s benchmark showed an average read speed of 2,339MB per second and an average write speed of a mere 64MB per second. At the time of this review, we did not have any information about the storage capacity limit of the Chromebook’s built-in SD card reader.

Graphics performance

Lenovo Chromebook C330 stand mode

The Chromebook’s graphics are integrated into MediaTek’s processor — there’s no discrete GPU here. Given this model supports Google Play and Android apps, we can see the device’s potential using a variety of benchmarks including 3DMark, AnTuTu, PCMark for Android and GFXBench GL.

First, let’s start with GFXBench GL Benchmark. In the Aztec Ruins High Tier benchmark at 720p, the Chromebook averaged a mere 6.4fps, falling behind devices like Nvidia’s Shield tablet and the Samsung Galaxy S7 phone in performance. The Manhattan benchmark produced the highest frame rate, with an average of 24fps at 720p, yet it wasn’t enough to come even close to the results seen with the HP Chromebook 11 G5, the Asus Chromebook C202SA or the Acer Chromebook 11 (N3060).

Using the 3DMark Sling Shot benchmark, Lenovo’s Chromebook surpassed the Asus Chromebook Flip C101PA, but fell behind the Acer Chromebook 15. In the second Ice Storm test, Lenovo’s Chromebook surpassed both.

A gaming machine it’s not, but considering it runs Chrome OS – we aren’t really surprised

Moving on to AnTuTu, Lenovo’s Chromebook produced an average framerate of a mere 4.55 frames per second. It only managed an average of 4.61 frames per second in the second Coastline test.

Keep in mind that Lenovo’s Chromebook has a maximum 1,366 x 768 resolution running at 60Hz. If you’re playing a 1080p video in full-screen mode, you typically won’t see any issues regarding choppiness. The opening cinematic for Titan Quest performed really well in full-screen mode, but the game itself wouldn’t play correctly in this mode. In fact, it would only run correctly in a window one-quarter the size of the Chromebook’s screen. The framerate was decent but not the smooth 60FPS the display’s refresh rate supports.

We can likely blame Titan Quest’s issues on a lack of optimization. We didn’t see any similar problems with Gameloft’s MMORPG Order and Chaos 2, as the game ran without major issues in full-screen mode using the default settings. Typical grind-based gameplay produced decent framerates although we saw tons of choppiness when large special effects consumed the screen. The framerate noticeably dropped and felt sluggish/jerky when we installed the optional HD graphics.

If you don’t plan to game on Lenovo’s Chromebook, you’ll have no worries about graphics. It’s capable of decent gameplay, but don’t expect stellar performance. Lenovo’s Chromebook appears best suited for games with simpler visuals, like the web-based Legends series by Spacetime Studios.

Battery performance

Lenovo Chromebook C330 tablet mode

Lenovo’s Chromebook features a three-cell 1,000mAh battery promising up to 10 hours of typical use (although Chrome OS reports 13 hours). Because battery testing and reporting is typically measured using a specific screen brightness level, we instead ran tests 100 percent and 50 percent brightness.

For the first test, PCMark performed a variety of methods to drain the battery. At a screen brightness of 100 percent, the battery lasted seven hours and 20 minutes. With the screen set at a 50 percent brightness level, the battery endured for nine hours and nine minutes.

The battery can easily last a whole work day, and then some.

We got similar battery performance in our web browsing test, where we put the Chromebook in a continuous webpage-loading loop until the battery depleted. Here the battery lasted nine hours and 10 minutes with the screen set a 50 percent brightness and seven hours and 51 minutes with the screen brightness set at 100 percent.

Another method of testing the battery is to use the built-in CROSH command in Chrome OS. You can set the duration up to 600 seconds and Chrome OS will report the battery drainage percentage in that timeframe. With the display set to 100 percent brightness, the battery drained 1.34 percent in 10 minutes, so in 10 hours 80.4 percent of its charge would be depleted. With the brightness level set at 50 percent, the battery only drained 1.02 percent in 10 minutes.

Finally, we looped the 1080p version of Aquaman’s recent extended movie trailer at the 50-percent brightness mark and saw the battery last 11 hours and 36 minutes. At the 100 percent brightness level, we drained the battery in nine hours and 53 minutes.

Software and apps

Lenovo Chromebook C330

Lenovo’s Chromebook really shows how lightweight Google’s operating system is. It comes with the standard taskbar along the bottom with a battery meter, Wi-Fi icon, system clock and so on. The launcher button on the far left pulls up a search bar with five recently-used apps that expands into an Android-like app drawer. If you’re not familiar with Chrome OS, it’s designed to run web-based apps so there’s nothing to install, requiring very little overall storage.

This Chromebook supports Google Play and Android-based apps, which you do need to download and install. The 32GB and 64GB storage options help here, but if you’re downloading large Android apps, you may find yourself utilizing the SD card reader. Not all Android apps will run perfectly on Chrome OS as we experienced with Titan Quest, but that may or may not have anything to do with Google’s current Android support in Chrome OS.

Finally, given the roots of Chrome OS, you won’t find any unnecessary bloatware installed on this device. In fact, if you’re moving from an older Chromebook, Google takes the Android approach and stores your software configuration in the cloud, so setup won’t take much work. When you sign in, all your apps will even re-download.

A decent Chromebook at a great price

Lenovo Chromebook C330

$279 is crazy cheap for a 2-in-1 device, but Lenovo’s Chromebook C330 doesn’t feel like a cheap device. Its solid, lightweight build oozes craftsmanship and style. The blizzard white color scheme is definitely attractive, though the white exterior highlights its biggest visual design flaws: The wide gaps between the screen, the hinge, and the base.

On a feature level, you have plenty of connectivity options for the office, home, or school. While there’s no stylus support or an included peripheral, the tablet mode and 10-point touch input offer something many Chromebooks simply lack. Despite its size and lightweight, this Chromebook doesn’t feel small.

It performs well in general, though we’ve seen better. It’s zippy enough to get the job done. Running Android applications — especially games — through Google Play can be a hit or miss. If you’re streaming or playing a 1080p video locally from the machine, you shouldn’t experience any major issues.

If you’re looking for a sub-13-inch 2-in-1 device not tied to Microsoft or Apple for less than $300, you can’t beat this Chromebook. It’s great if you want more than a tablet to surf the internet, work, stream videos, or simply be creative. Lenovo’s Chromebook C330 should serve as a great computing solution for students too.

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