Android Authority Android News, Reviews, How To Mon, 28 May 2018 09:35:37 +0000 en-US hourly 1 54cc39 The Lenovo Z5 sounds unbelievable and it’s launching June 5 Mon, 28 May 2018 09:35:37 +0000

  • Lenovo is set to launch the Lenovo Z5 on June 5.
  • The device is rumored to feature 45-day standby times, 4TB of storage, and a truly bezel-less display.
  • If it delivers on the promise, it could become a world-beating smartphone.

Lenovo will launch the Lenovo Z5 (or perhaps Lenovo ZUK Z5) on June 5 in Beijing, according to Lenovo Group VP Chang Cheng. Cheng made the announcement on Weibo earlier today (via Playful Droid) while publishing an official poster for the event.

Cheng has teased the handset, the latest in Lenovo’s ZUK series, a number of times in recent weeks, dropping some weighty hints about what it will offer.

Teaser poster for the Lenovo Z5 showing a device silhouette and Chinese characters Weibo

Cheng has said the Z5 will show off four technological breakthroughs, based on 18 patented technologies, including a potential 95 percent screen-to-body ratio.

Cheng has revealed aspects of the design in renders and the sketch below and, if the representations are accurate, this would beat out all other Android flagships in this particular area (maybe with the exception of the upcoming Vivo Apex).

Lenovo Z5 concept image Weibo

That Lenovo could outdo giants like Xiaomi, Samsung, and Huawei with a “truly” full-screen device is already unlikely — the company isn’t exactly known for display tech innovations. But other comments by Cheng have only made the Z5 sound even more outrageous.

Editor's Pick

Cheng has hinted that the phone could have as much as 4TB of internal storage space, and up to 45-day standby times (potentially three of the aforementioned four breakthroughs).

If the Z5 delivered all of this, it would represent one of the biggest technological leaps we’ve ever seen in the smartphone sphere. I mean, manufacturers are trying desperately to deliver 45-hours of standby time, never mind 45 days.

All of these ideas are based on scraps from Chinese social media so it’s difficult to parse what’s a likelihood from simple misunderstanding. I’ll tell you one thing for sure, though: I’m glad I’ve only got a week to find out what the Lenovo Z5 is really all about.

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HTC U12 Plus comes with headphone adapter in Europe, so why not US? Mon, 28 May 2018 09:18:29 +0000 The HTC U12 Plus.

  • Live in the States? Then the HTC U12 Plus doesn’t include a headphone adapter in the box.
  • European users seem to get a free headphone adapter, however.
  • Bluetooth headsets are rising in popularity, but is it too soon for HTC to actually drop the adapter?

Our HTC U12 Plus hands-on confirmed the lack of a headphone adapter in the device’s box, meaning users would have to buy one elsewhere. However, it seems like U.S. fans have gotten the raw end of the deal, as European buyers can pick up a free dongle with U12 Plus purchases.

The HTC USA Twitter channel told a user that the U12 Plus wouldn’t feature a headphone adapter. The user then checked the European website, noticing a headphone adapter was included when the device was added to their cart.

We’ve tried it for ourselves, noticing that the U.K. and German websites included the headphone adapter for free in our cart. Meanwhile, the U.S. store indeed misses the headphone adapter addition. So what could be the reason for the discrepancy?

One possibility is HTC is conducting a trial run for removing the headphone adapter from all future flagships. After all, it might be difficult for HTC to make a firm decision without trying it in a few markets first. And who knows, the backlash might be so severe that it tanks the company’s already lackluster sales.

We’ve contacted HTC for clarity around the regional discrepancy and will update the article accordingly when we receive a response.

The demise of headphone adapters

Google Pixel 2 and headphone adapter.

It feels almost inevitable that flagship phones will eventually ditch the adapter in the box. But the million dollar question is just when is the right time to do so? U.K. retail chain the Argos Group reported a 300% increase in Bluetooth headphone sales in the 12 months since the iPhone 7’s release.

Now, that jump in sales could be due to necessity, as the iPhone 7 lacks a headphone jack, forcing owners to either use the mildly inconvenient adapter or seek Lightning/Bluetooth alternatives. But before Apple even dropped the headphone jack, the NPD Group reported wireless headphone sales revenue surpassed non-Bluetooth sales for the first time back in June 2016. At first glance, it looks like a damning bit of news for wired headphone enthusiasts.

Read more: Why having no headphone jack is a bad idea

However, the NPD report was talking about dollars spent as opposed to actual units sold. It added that Bluetooth headphones only accounted for 17 percent in terms of actual numbers sold. The sheer premium compared to wired headphones could be the reason, rather than most consumers actually ditching wired headsets.

Editor's Pick

Then there’s a Gartner report from August 2017, which suggests that all “premium mobile phones” will ditch the headphone jack by 2021 — hardly around the corner, to be fair. So while the market is evidently moving in a wireless direction, it seems like a very bold move to ditch the headphone adapter right now. Fortunately, HTC includes a pair of USB Type-C headphones in their packaging anyway, helping to soften the blow.

Will Apple follow HTC’s lead and simply ditch the adapter too? It wouldn’t be the first time that Android OEMs beat Apple to dropping a standard. Back in 2016, Lenovo and Chinese brand LeEco beat Apple to ditching the 3.5mm jack.

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5G Moto Mod image leaks, but are we even ready for it? Mon, 28 May 2018 07:34:09 +0000 Moto Z3 Play and 5G Moto Mod. XDA-Developers

  • Images of a 5G Moto Mod have surfaced online, with the mod tipped to deliver high-speed connectivity to the Moto Z3 Play.
  • The add-on also has a large bump at the top, presumably for the antenna.
  • The Moto Z3 Play is expected to launch later this year.

Lenovo has some pretty nifty Moto Mods, but it looks like the 5G Moto Mod for the upcoming Moto Z3 Play could be one of the more interesting ones.

Images of the add-on (and smartphone) have leaked via XDA-Developers, showing us a rather chunky mod. It actually resembles a power bank mod, albeit with a protrusion at the top — ostensibly for the antenna. Part of me wishes there was an actual antenna you could pop up and down, if only for nostalgia’s sake…

A 5G Moto Mod would supply 5G cellular connectivity to the smartphone, delivering higher speed downloads and uploads in accordance with the new standard. Presumably, the Z3 Play would feature an internal cellular modem for 4G connectivity by default.

Editor's Pick

We wouldn’t be surprised if there was an extra battery in the mod too, as the first generation of new cellular connectivity can be power-sapping. You also have to wonder whether the 5G Moto Mod would work with previous Moto Z releases. After all, this doesn’t seem like a simple gamepad mod or power bank add-on.

Another question is whether the mod will allow users to share their 5G connection as a Wi-Fi hotspot. This way, you wouldn’t need to buy a separate 5G dongle or wait for a true 5G phone to share a higher speed cellular connection.

Is 5G support necessary yet?

5G connectivity is set to launch in the U.S. in several markets in the second half of 2018, courtesy of Verizon. However, the carrier isn’t using the official 5G standard (called 5G New Radio), delivering its own standard which will then be switched to the official standard in time. The company isn’t targeting mobile connectivity either, focusing on 5G for home use right now.

Sprint has also announced markets for 5G, but it’s targeting the first half of 2019. The carrier is upgrading its towers with the required antennas, and will then switch to the official 5G NR standard later.

This makes us wonder whether the new Moto Mod would actually go on sale in 2019, when the official standard is more widespread. If the company does have 5G NR support via the mod in 2018, it would certainly make for a unique proposition, as 5G phones are only expected to launch in any meaningful numbers by 2019. It would, however, only be able to access those 5G speeds in a few U.S. cities until it rolls out further through 2020 and beyond.

What about Z3 Play?

An apparent Moto Z3 Play render. Android Headlines

The upcoming Moto Z3 Play is shaping up to be a notable upgrade over previous Play models. An earlier FCC filing, corroborated by XDA-Developers, has revealed a mid-range Snapdragon 636 processor, 4GB of RAM, and 32GB or 64GB of expandable storage.

The XDA report also yielded more camera details, such as a Cinemagraph mode, portrait mode on front and rear cameras, and a color pop mode. Other claimed specs include a 3,000mAh battery, side-mounted fingerprint scanner, and a 6-inch AMOLED display (18:9).

It looks like Lenovo is dropping the headphone jack on the Play model too, so you’ll either have to get an adapter or use Bluetooth/USB Type-C headphones. Who knows, the company may launch a headphone jack Moto Mod instead…

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10 best new Android games from May 2018! Sun, 27 May 2018 23:05:07 +0000 This is the featured image for the best new android games from May 2018 article on Android Authority
Android gaming is getting bigger and better every month it seems and there is always a slew of new titles coming to Google Play. Whether you’re a casual gamer or you want something with a bit more meat on its bones, there’s usually a game coming out to suit everyone’s taste. Some months are better than others, but there is usually at least one great new game on mobile every month. Let’s take a look at the best new Android games from the last month! You can watch the videos on YouTube from previous months by clicking here! You can also check out our picks for the best new Android games for 2017 in the video above!

Animal Super Squad

Price: $4.99
Animal Super Squad is a new adventure-platformer with some puzzle elements. You roll an animal through a course and physics takes over. The game features a variety of playable characters, a bunch of levels, and more. It's a goofy game that doesn't take itself too seriously. There isn't much else to say about it, really. It's entertaining, occasionally funny, and it's not a freemium game. You can get it for $4.99 with no additional in-app purchases or advertisements.

Distraint: Deluxe Edition

Price: $4.49
Distraint is a remake of the original. It features all of the psychological thriller goodness of the original. However, this version also includes better coloring, better animations and lighting effects, better audio, and improved controls. It's a little short at around two to four hours for completion. That's about the only knock on this game. It's otherwise quite good. It runs for $4.49 with no in-app purchases or advertisements.

Dungeon Hunter Champions

Price: Freemium
Dungeon Hunter Champions is the latest game in the popular series by Gameloft. This one is actually a MOBA. It features five versus five battles, online PvP, over 250 champions, guilds, leaderboards, and more. This distinguishes itself from others with a campaign mode as well. The game has a ton of content and it keeps you busy. There seems to be a small issue with bugs and crashes. Otherwise, people seem to like this one. It's a freemium game, though, so do tread carefully.

Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery

Price: Freemium
Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery is already extremely popular. You play as a character at Hogwarts. You explore the school grounds, attend classes, unlock characters, play a campaign, and more. It works quite well mechanically. Plus, it has voice actors from the movies. There is really only one downside to this game and it's the freemium model. This game is very aggressive with its in-app purchase strategy and you wait for a lot of things in this game. The story line and activities are otherwise interesting and fun.

Homo Machina

Price: $2.99
Homo Machina is an interesting new puzzle game. It explores the human anatomy through a series of metaphors and vignettes. You play inside the body of a human. You make it move by solving puzzles and interacting with characters. Each level is basically one human action. For instance, one level wakes the human up by opening its eyes. This is a really short game and it's a tad buggy. However, those are the only two knocks against this one. It's a good puzzle game.

Jurassic World Alive

Price: Free / $9.99 per month
Jurassic World Alive is a new AR game similar to Pokemon Go. You explore the real world, collect dinosaurs from the movies, and battle them with other players. The dinosaurs scale to builds and it looks really cool. You also collect items from collection points, build a roster of dinosaurs, and collect DNA via drone flight. The game uses a very unusual $9.99 per month subscription instead of the usual freemium model. We'll see how that works. This game is only available in certain parts of the world right now, but keep your eye out.

Paladins Strike

Price: Freemium
Paladins Strike is another new MOBA game. This one has shooter elements as well. You play five versus five battles with a selection of 15 champions. It's the standard MOBA stuff. You capture points and beat your opponents. The game also features other game modes like Siege and Juggernaut. It helps keep things fresher for longer, but it all revolves around the same basic mechanics. The game had a rough start with bugs and small issues. They seem to have overcome these difficulties and people are enjoying the game quite a bit now.

RBI Baseball 18

Price: $6.99
RBI Baseball 18 is MLB's yearly mobile baseball game refresh. This one features decent graphics, simpler controls than previous iterations of the game, a full roster of players on every official MLB team, and more. You also get authentic ballparks, access to old MLB legends, and some various game modes. This is a game series on the rise. Last year's game was fairly disappointing. This one seems like it's actually pretty decent. We're hoping they use this momentum to do an even better game next year.
RBI Baseball 18

Sago Mini Apartment

Price: $2.99
Sago Mini Apartment is a new kids game. It features a variety of kid friendly mini games. You start in an apartment. Each floor has a different game to play. The games include counting games, hand-eye coordination games, music games, and more. It also packs in some cute characters, colorful graphics, and simple controls. It's about on par with what we'd expect a kids game to be. It costs $2.99 with additional in-app purchases or ads, another good idea for a kids game.

Still Here

Price: $3.99
Still Here is a fun little puzzle-adventure game with platformer elements. You play as Pip the alien (or two other playable characters). You then jump around, explore the world, solve puzzles, and befriend various NPCs. Each level has its own set of quests and the game has an actual story line to follow as well. We especially liked the graphics and simple game play mechanics. It's not overly challenging, but it's still entertaining and fun. The game goes for $3.99 with no in-app purchases or ads.

If we missed any great new Android games, tell us about them in the comments! You can also click here to check out our latest Android apps and games lists!

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10 best new Android apps from May 2018! Sun, 27 May 2018 19:10:52 +0000 This is the featured image for the best Android apps from May 2018
App developers are pushing the envelope on a daily basis trying to improve and enhance our smartphone and tablet experiences. In fact, so many Android apps come out every day that it’s difficult to keep track of them all. It’s difficult to usurp the best of the best but if you’re getting bored with what you’ve got and want to try something new, check out the best new Android apps from the last month! You can watch the videos from past months by clicking here! You can check out our selections for the best Android apps from 2017 in the video above!


Price: $3.99
CamToPlan is an ARCore app. It lets you map out rooms with your camera and AR technology. You move along the baseboards of your room. The app maps it out. It then creates a 2D representation of the room. This is useful for planning, construction, and other uses. It boasts a 2% margin of error in ideal conditions. The app works best with good lighting and a good contrast between the floor and the wall. It's far from perfect. However, this is one of the better uses of ARCore tech that we've seen. It runs for $3.99 with no additional in-app purchases or advertisements.


Price: Free / Up to $1.99
Forest is a neat little game for phone addicts. You open the app and plant a tree. The tree only grows when you don't use your phone. You use that as motivation to put the phone down and leave it alone for a while. The app keeps track of the trees you grew along with a sharing features for you and your friends. Over time, you just use the phone less often. There are a few bugs, but it's otherwise stable. It's also relatively inexpensive.

Google News

Price: Free
Google News replaced Google Play Newsstand this month. It's Google's new app and it's decent. There are a range of standard features, including a news feed, recommendations, and some control elements so you see the stuff you want. The app also tries to deliver full coverage of events from credible sources. The definition of credible sources is a little ambiguous these days, but the app seems to do an okay job of finding good stuff. The app also lets you subscribe to newspapers and magazines. It works okay, but the algorithm needs a lot of time to gauge your interest in stuff.
Google News

Horizon Explorer

Price: Free
Horizon Explorer is a neat little app. It uses ARCore along with your camera. You point your camera at a spot far away from you and the app tells you how far away it is. It actually works surprisingly well. There aren't a ton of uses for an app like this one. However, the developers promise more features in future updates. This is another excellent use of Google's ARCore technology. Plus, it's just downright fun to use. The app is currently free with no ads, no in-app purchases, and it doesn't run in the background.

Material Gallery

Price: Free
Material Gallery is a new app by Google. It's mostly for developers. Developers can upload their design work and get critiques from other developers. You can upload screenshots, mock-ups, or even whiteboard sessions if you want to. Additionally, you can leave feedback on other people's work. It might be a useful tool for developers with new apps. However, us normal people don't have much use for it. It's a free app with no in-app purchases or ads.
Material Gallery

Opera Touch

Price: Free
Opera Touch is Opera's latest attempt at a browser app. Thankfully, this one is pretty decent. It features cross-platform syncing with its browser app, a feature that even Microsoft has at this point. However, unlike competitors, there is no login or account required. It uses a QR code that you scan with the app to your desktop version to sync the two together. There are also other features such as privacy browsing, a Fast Action Button, a search button, and more. It still needs work, but frankly, not that much. It's a decent web browser.


Price: Free / Up to $49.99 (eventually)
Siempo is a new launcher for Android phones. It's also an app for smartphone addicts that want to kick the habit. The app has a variety of features to get you off of your phone. That includes batched notifications so you only get them occasionally. Additionally, it features a simplified home screen as well. The app even randomizes your app drawer on occasion. It's a goofy concept but it works strangely well. The app is entirely free right now. Google Play lists in-app purchases up to $49.99. However, we could not find them in the app during our testing.

Steam Link

Price: Free
Steam Link is an interesting new app from Valve. It lets you play PC games on your mobile devices. It works like Nvidia's GameStream, except the game plays on your PC instead of the cloud. You connect a controller to your phone, enable the link, and play. The game plays on your PC and streams the visuals to your phone over local WiFi. It's a little janky as expected. It is a new release after all. The only downside is playing complex PC games with something as simple as a mobile phone controller. Otherwise, we liked it.
Steam Link


Price: Free / $11.99 per month / $74.99 per year
VPNhub is one of the most interesting releases of 2018 so far. It's a new VPN app by Pornhub. It's a strangely good VPN for a porn website. The app is unlimited and free on US servers. There is a monthly subscription for additional features like over 1,000 servers worldwide. It also boasts a no logging policy and we like that a lot. We didn't run into any issues during our testing. However, it is just a little bit expensive for a mobile VPN. Otherwise, this is actually legitimately good.

YouTube Music

Price: Free / $9.99 per month
YouTube launched its new music service this month, kind of! The update rolled out about a week ago. However, many are still waiting for it. It's only available in the US and many people in the US are on a waiting list. Anyway, the app features on-demand music streaming similar to Google Play Music, but also all of the YouTube Music features from before the update. Thus, it's a sort of combination of the two. It has some issues and there are questions about whether or not it'll be as good as Google Play Music in terms of selection and music quality. However, it's too soon to tell if this is going to be great or not. We have our hands-on linked up just below if you want to see it.

If we missed any great new Android apps, tell us about them in the comments!

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RED Hydrogen One: What we know so far Sun, 27 May 2018 17:05:15 +0000 The RED Hydrogen One

We first heard about the Red Hydrogen One back in January. Ever since, news of the ambitious and innovative new smartphone from Red, an American company well known for its professional cinema cameras, had been dripping out slowly — until last week.

CNET and The Verge got to go hands-on at Red Hollywood Studios, giving us a look at the Red Hydrogen One, but not the display. Turns out, it isn’t so much a screen but a holographic display.

“There is no way to describe or show the 4 view (4V) display other than seeing it in person. There’s just no way,” said Red founder and CEO Jim Jannard, speaking to the crowd gathered in Hollywood to see the phone.

Display: “4 View” is at least half the pitch

First of all, Red Hydrogen One isn’t a smartphone in the conventional sense. It’s described as one part of a range of cameras and specially created media that can display via a multi-dimensional display. It’s not a totally new concept in the mobile space. The Amazon Fire Phone offered a 3D display experience criticized for being both bad and without purpose. The LG Optimus 3D and the HTC EVO 3D offered something similar in 2011. They might’ve been too early, with limited viewing angles and depth of field. The Nintendo 3DS also did 3D earlier, though CNET claims the Red Hydrogen One does it better.

The 3D effect worked in real-time via video calling, which surprises

CNET was pretty bullish on the “4 View” display actually, describing it as adding depth to a normal 2D display. That might be expected when watching pre-produced clips from movies, but it apparently even worked when video calling someone, using Skype or Messenger or what have you — the live image also had the 3D effect. Some trolls called it a high-res Nintendo 3DS, which is probably not all that far from the truth, but being able to capture footage or stream it live could be cool — at least if both parties own a Red Hydrogen One to see it.

The screen will be a 5.7-inch LCD display with a 2560 x 1440 resolution. The Verge mentioned a layer beneath the LCD display that can “direct light in multiple directions instead of the standard two that happen with lenticular displays.” That’s where the depth comes from.

Design: Robust is putting it mildly

The Red’s design philosophy is all over this Android smartphone, so think industrial. It’s not a petite thing, described as like an iPhone in an Otterbox, and it has various metal fins over it for grip. The edges have a wavy shape for better grip. Sticking with that industrial style, Red is offering it either aluminum (preorder price: $1,195) or titanium (preorder price: $1,595). We don’t think you’ll need a case for it, at least — it’s a pretty chunky device.

The design is modular in nature, with connector pins on the back to snap in modules. While we’ve seen that more or less fail in the past, the phone will be part of Red’s existing ecosystem, rather than one that doesn’t exist yet, like with Essential. It appears the one module Red will start with is a bolt-on giant image sensor that allows DSLR size-factors and has connectors for Red’s other cameras, along with lens mounts for existing professional lenses from the likes of Canon, Nikon, Leica, and so on. There may be more modules down the line.

Read next: Here’s how LG V30’s camera compares with $50,000 RED Weapon

The phone can apparently be plugged into existing Red cameras such as the Epic-W or Red Weapon as part of the display. Peter Jackson used a Red camera rig to film The Hobbit trilogy, just so you know.

Specs: Not great, but not the focus

We know it will be an Android smartphone powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 835, which was the top of the line last year. There are also stereo speakers, a USB-C connector, hybrid SIM tray (dual-SIM or SIM and microSD card), a headphone jack, and a hefty 4,500mAh battery.

What we don’t know is a much longer list. RAM, internal storage, Android OS, sensors, battery size, and so on, are a mystery for now. We saw Phil Holland, a Director in LA, release a shot of the front display at least, although of course, not on:

Red Hydrogen One front display

Phil Holland/

We also don’t know much about the camera. We know it can shoot video for the Red Hydrogen One display via a front-facing two-lens setup, as well as normal 2D shots and video as well. Given it’s Red, we expect something decent, though the full power will likely be unlocked by adding professional lenses. Aspects like megapixels and pixel size, along with the quality of the provided dual rear-cameras, and details for things like f-stops, OIS, focusing methods, built-in flash, bokeh mode, and so on, are unknown. The same goes for the front dual camera as well.

What we expect from the Red Hydrogen One

What we don’t expect is a bestseller that will climb to the top of Android charts. It’s too expensive for that, running at $1,195 for an aluminum preorder or $1,595 for titanium. A first device has a long way to go to generate any significant momentum, even as a niche product in the movie-making business.

We’re hoping for a device that might give 3D displays a fresh life, after the disaster that was the Fire Phone. It’s pretty rare that something radically different enters the smartphone market, but the Red Hydrogen One might just be that. Part of the problem is you won’t know if it’s good until you see it yourself.

When we expect the Red Hydrogen One is another good question. The phone slipped from a Q1 2018 release after Red decided to stick tight with U.S. carriers and go for a simultaneous release date. It’s now scheduled for an August 2018 launch.

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Must read: top 10 Android stories Sun, 27 May 2018 15:59:45 +0000

This week we reviewed the OnePlus 6 and Nokia 8 Sirocco, went hands-on with the new HTC U12 Plus, and more. Here’s what you need to know about the past week in Android.

Who wants to win an HTC U12 Plus?

Interested in the new HTC U12 Plus? Of course you are! Here’s how you can win one in this week’s Sunday giveaway.

10 Android stories we handpicked for you

HTC U12 Plus hands-on: Literally more sensitive than ever The HTC U12 Plus is the company’s most sensitive phone… literally. See how some new squeeze features and a different take on buttons adds some unique qualities to HTC’s latest flagship.

OnePlus 6 review: The spiritual successor to the Nexus The OnePlus 6 is here. The latest OnePlus handset feels very familiar, but that’s a large part of what makes it so good.

Nokia 8 Sirocco review: A premium indulgence The Nokia 8 Sirocco is shiny, solid, and offers pure and up-to-date Android experience… but does that merit a premium price tag? Find out in our Nokia 8 review.

Essential reportedly cancels next smartphone, company may be up for sale The unconfirmed report comes less than a year after Essential Products’ first phone launched, which was not a sales success.

HTC U12 Plus vs the competition: How does HTC’s new phone stack up? The HTC U12 Plus might be a beast on paper, but let’s see how HTC’s best smartphone stacks up against the OnePlus 6, LG G7 ThinQ, and Google Pixel 2 XL.

How stable is the Android P beta developer preview? Is the Android P beta stable enough to install on your smartphone? Read on to find out!

Red Hydrogen One: Is it a more polished Nintendo 3DS? Don’t expect the phone to pop holographic images out of the display, as it seems to be a more advanced take on glasses-free 3D.

Our top 5 favorite HTC U12 Plus features Here are the top 5 HTC U12 Plus features that you need to know.

HTC U12 Plus color comparison: Ceramic black, flame red, and translucent blue The new HTC U12 Plus colors include titanium black, flame red, and translucent blue. Check out our HTC U12 Plus color comparison before you pick out your favorite version.

HTC U12 Plus specs: This phone is a beast The HTC U12 Plus is turning out to be one heck of a phone. Here’s the full list of HTC U12 Plus specs.

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HTC U12 Plus international giveaway! Sun, 27 May 2018 12:00:47 +0000 Welcome to the Sunday Giveaway, the place where we giveaway a new Android phone each and every Sunday.

A big congratulations to last week’s winner of the OnePlus 6 international giveaway: Davin K. (Indonesia)

This week we are giving away a brand new HTC U12 Plus, courtesy of the Android Authority Newsletter!

Get caught up on the week’s top stories, reviews, and features by signing up for the Android Authority Weekly Newsletter. Every Sunday, you’ll receive an email alert with a roundup of the best content from the previous week.

The HTC U11 was one of our favorite smartphones of 2017, and the new HTC U12 Plus looks to follow in its footsteps.

HTC is still using its fancy Liquid Surface design here, but this time the company released a new transparent blue color option that has us very excited. You can actually see through the back of the phone! There are also new-and-improved Edge Sense 2 features that not only allow you to squeeze the sides of the phone to access apps and shortcuts, but also double-tap the side of the device to shrink the screen for better one-handed usability.

On the camera front, the U12 Plus seems to be an upgrade over its predecessors, at least on paper. It sports a 16MP wide-angle lens and a 20MP telephoto lens around back, while the front has two 8MP cameras. The U11’s camera was one of the best of 2017, so we’re really excited to see how the U12 Plus performs.

To learn more about the HTC U12 Plus, head to our related coverage below:

Enter the giveaway here

HTC U12 Plus international giveaway!

Don’t miss: Best Android phone (May 2018) giveaway

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More: Android Authority international giveaway FAQs

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Vivo X21 review: Fast and fun, but not without compromises Sun, 27 May 2018 09:48:21 +0000 You’re reading a Vivo X21 review, so you’ve hopefully heard of the Chinese brand before. But mention Vivo to a random person on the street, and you’ll probably only get a blank stare. That’s a shame, because the X21 proved to me that Vivo can some make pretty solid devices.

The Vivo X21 is not just a good phone, it’s innovative, thanks to its under-glass fingerprint sensor. The Snapdragon 660 processor technically makes it a mid-ranger, but don’t let that fool you. This phone feels like a flagship in many ways.

Read: Vivo V9 review: An iPhone X clone with AI selfies

Sure, there are compromises. You don’t have to be a stock Android purist to dislike Funtouch OS’ shameless copying of iOS. The use of a microUSB port feels old school, and not in a good way. There’s also a notch. The X21 is not exactly cheap, either.

Is the X21 worth your money? Find out in our Vivo X21 review.

Vivo x21 review

About this Vivo X21 review

I spent about ten days with a Vivo X21 UD review unit (model number “vivo 1725”) for this review. The phone runs the latest publicly available version of Funtouch OS 4, build PD1728F_EX_A_1.6.18, based on Android 8.1, running the March security patches. I used the phone mostly over my home office Wi-Fi, but also on Orange Romania’s 4G network.

The Vivo X21 UD is the top of the line variant, featuring an under-display fingerprint sensor and 128GB of storage. Vivo also sells cheaper Vivo X21 variants with rear-mounted scanners and either 64GB or 128GB of storage space.

For simplicity, throughout this review we’ll refer to the phone as Vivo X21.

Vivo x21 review back

What’s in the box

Before we begin our Vivo X21 review, let’s take a look at the contents of the retail box. The Vivo X21 comes in a simple blue box featuring the FIFA World Cup logo, of which Vivo is the official smartphone provider. (Don’t confuse the regular Vivo X21 UD with the special World Cup Edition, which comes in blue or red and features a snazzy soccer-inspired pattern on the back.)

In the box, you’ll get a basic clear Vivo X21 case, a 2A charger and USB cable, and a pair of earbuds. The earbuds are tiny and very light, but they actually sound decent.

Vivo x21 retail box

Vivo x21 ud earbuds
Vivo x21 ud charger

Vivo X21 build and design

The Vivo X21 doesn’t look particularly striking, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Not everyone wants a flashy color-shifting phone. If you don’t like to stand out or you don’t care about design that much, the understated Vivo X21 will be perfect for you.

Don’t get me wrong, the black X21 review unit I tested is quite sleek. It features an all-black aluminum frame and a glass back with tapered edges, which make it very comfortable to hold. It’s about 7.5 millimeters at its thickest point, but it’s surprisingly easy to handle, especially considering the 6.28-inch screen. The tall 19:9 aspect ratio helps a lot, and it also gives the front of the phone that modern bezel-less look everyone craves these days.

Vivo x21 review front display

The Vivo X21 doesn’t feel as premium as the Galaxy S9 or the Huawei P20 Pro. It doesn’t have the same solidity and the glass back feels a bit cheaper and more like plastic. On the flip side, it’s also less slippery and less fingerprint-prone. I could almost see myself using it without a case. Almost.

With the fingerprint sensor hidden under the screen, the back of the X21 looks very clean.

Fans of minimalism will enjoy the Vivo X21. With the fingerprint sensor hidden under the screen, the back of the phone is very clean. Even the dual cameras are discreet, though Vivo couldn’t resist adding a superfluous “Designed by Vivo” inscription at the bottom.

vivo x21 back
vivo x21 ud top

The display

The Vivo X21’s display is beautiful. It’s only Full HD (Plus, to be pedantic), but I wasn’t bothered by the lower pixel density at all. Only when placed side by side with the Galaxy S9 could I see a difference in image quality, especially around text elements. Maybe someone with better eyesight will disagree, but Full HD is good enough for me.

The screen is an OLED panel with the characteristic vibrant color palette and inky blacks. The icons just pop, especially when you use a nice dark background.

vivo x21 ud notch

The Vivo X21 gets very bright. My regular phone is a Google Pixel 2, which really struggles in broad daylight, especially when displaying darker images or UIs. In contrast (pun intended), I could use Reddit Sync’s or Twitter’s dark UIs without straining my eyes on the X21. I don’t have data to back it up, but the Vivo X21 looks even brighter than the Galaxy S9 Plus.

The notch breaks the all-screen illusion, though at least it’s fairly small. Too many pixels have been wasted debating the notch, so I won’t add much other than to say that it was not the eyesore I expected. It often disappeared into the black border around it. But even when it didn’t, I hardly noticed it.

The notch was not the eyesore I expected.

The only issue is that it steals real estate from the status bar, which makes it much less useful (More on that in a bit).

vivo x21 ud review screen

Unfortunately for all of you notch-haters out there, the X21 lacks the option to hide the notch by forcing a black status bar, like the Huawei P20 or OnePlus 6.

The Vivo X21 features an always-on display that looks pretty similar to Samsung’s implementation. It even offers a Side Clock version, though the X21 doesn’t have the curved edges of Samsung’s flagships. You can customize the color and background of the always-on clock, but you can only opt to see notifications for missed calls and messages, not emails, or other types of notifications, which is a shame.

Always on display on vivo x21 ud

Whether you enable the always-on display or not, the Vivo X21 always shows a fingerprint icon when the screen is turned off. This is so you know where the embedded sensor is. The icon also pops up when you need to authenticate in LastPass or other apps that use the fingerprint scanner.

LastPass vs 1Password vs Enpass: Which of these password managers is the best?

I am curious to see how the Vivo X21 fares after a while, because that always-on fingerprint icon could cause burn-in. I haven’t noticed any issues so far, but it’s something to keep an eye on.

The fingerprint scanner

The Vivo X21 is the first commercial smartphone with a fingerprint sensor underneath the screen. It doesn’t sound like a big deal — none of my non-techie friends seemed impressed with it — but it is.

Phone makers and component suppliers have been working on the technology for years. Now Vivo and Synaptics have finally cracked the problem. Even better, Vivo beat the big boys to the punch. Samsung and Apple have yet to release phones with under-display fingerprint scanners, and Huawei only did it on the prohibitively expensive Mate RS, announced shortly after the Vivo X21.

Using the fingerprint sensor on the Vivo X21 UD

Put simply, Vivo glued a thumbnail-sized sensor on the back of the X21’s OLED display. The light from the OLED display reflects on the minute ridges and valleys of your fingerprint and reaches the sensor through the tiny gaps between the display’s pixels.

The Vivo X21’s under-display fingerprint sensor works great — most of the time. Just touch it like a regular fingerprint sensor and the phone unlocks itself in a split second. It’s only marginally slower than a conventional scanner. You don’t even need to press harder than usual, though it helps if you place your whole finger print on the screen, not just the tip.

The Vivo X21’s under-display fingerprint sensor works great — most of the time.

The fingerprint sensor icon on Vivo X21 ud

That said, this is clearly first-gen technology. It doesn’t always work the first try and occasionally it requires multiple presses to register and unlock. A couple of times, the phone even asked me to enter my PIN, after multiple failed attempts to use the registered fingerprint. It’s also inconsistent. Sometimes the X21 unlocks super fast. Other times you need to press and hold for more than a second.

Vivo will no doubt solve these teething pains within a couple of years. But right now, embedded fingerprint technology is not as reliable as conventional sensors. If you buy the Vivo X21, have a little patience. You can also sidestep the issues by enabling the infrared-based facial recognition, which is fast and accurate.

Bonus fact: In direct sunlight, you can actually see the fingerprint sensor beneath the screen. It’s not distracting, but it’s there and it looks a bit like light-bleed. This only happens in very bright conditions, as I never noticed it indoors.

Visibile fingerprint sensor beneath display on Vivo X21 UD

Vivo X21 hardware and performance

The Vivo X21 is powered by the Snapdragon 660, Qualcomm’s 2017 chip for upper mid-range phones. Despite the mid-range chip, I didn’t notice any performance issues on the X21. The phone felt just as fast as my daily driver, the Pixel 2, which is powered by the Snapdragon 835.

One possible explanation for this smooth performance is the Vivo X21’s 6GB of RAM. That’s 2GB more than the Pixel 2, Galaxy S9, and other recent flagships. Thanks to the generous RAM, I was able to multi-task between a couple of games, Slack, Google Chrome, and the camera app without a snag.

Despite the mid-range chip, I didn’t notice any performance issues on the X21. It felt just as fast as my daily driver, the Pixel 2.

Another pleasant surprise was the 128GB of storage space (expandable). Leaving well over 100GB free for user media, it’s another area where the nominally mid-range Vivo X21 trumps many flagships out there.

The 3,200mAh battery on the Vivo X21 easily lasted me more than a day with my regular medium-to-light usage. I can’t give you screen-on time stats, because Vivo doesn’t provide them in the settings. Judging from the battery capacity and my experience with phones with larger batteries like Huawei’s Mate series, the Vivo X21 won’t get you through two days of medium usage. If you’re happy to charge your phone every night, the X21 will do just fine.

Read: Here are the handsets with the best smartphone speakers

Vivo’s tagline is “Camera & Music,” so audio should be a big deal on the X21. There’s a “Hi-Fi” DAC on board. To my non-audiophile ears, headphone sound quality was just about the same as the Pixel 2. The single bottom-firing speaker gets pretty loud, but it’s not as clear and detailed as on other phones. Plus, it’s pretty easy to muffle it with the palm of your hand.

Vivo X21 ud back

You get an audio jack, up top. Vivo would have been crazy not to include one, as the X21 features a microUSB port, instead of USB Type-C. There’s nothing inherently wrong with microUSB, but it feels out of place on a 2018 high-end-ish phone.

The infrared facial recognition function was a pleasant surprise. I was expecting a laggy camera-based Face ID knockoff, but it’s actually very fast and seamless – just wake up the phone and it unlocks. It’s usually faster than using the fingerprint sensor and it works in various lighting conditions, from broad daylight to a dark cinema. It’s not completely reliable though: sometimes you need to move the phone around to get it to unlock, and sunglasses tend to throw it off.

Vivo X21 review – Full specs

 Vivo X21 UD
Display6-28-inch AMOLED 1080 x 2280, 402 ppi, 19:9
SoCQualcomm Snapdragon 660, octa-core
GPUAdreno 512
64/128GB for non-UD version
expandable via microSD
CamerasRear: 12 MP f/1.8, 1.4µm, Phase Detection Autofocus + 5 MP f/2.4
Front: 12MP, f/2.0
Audio32-bit/192kHz audio, 3.5mm audio jack
Battery3,200 mAh, fast charging
IP ratingNone
SensorsFingerprint (under display), accelerometer, proximity, compass
NetworkGSM 850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900
HSDPA 850 / 900 / 1900 / 2100
LTE band 1(2100), 2(1900), 3(1800), 5(850), 8(900), 34(2000), 38(2600), 39(1900), 40(2300), 41(2500)
ConnectivityWi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, dual-band, WiFi Direct, hotspot
Bluetooth 5.0
FM radio
microUSB 2.0
SIMDual SIM/hybrid slot
SoftwareAndroid 8.1
Funtouch OS 4
Dimensions and weight154.5 x 74.8 x 7.4 mm
156.2 g
ColorsBlack, Ruby Red
Aurora White (non UD model only)

The camera

The Vivo X21 comes with a 12MP f/1.8 main camera with phase detection autofocus, assisted by a 5MP f/2.4 secondary camera. The front camera is also 12MP, but with an f/2.0 lens.

If you’ve played with a recent iPhone (or an Android-powered clone), the camera app on the Vivo X21 will look very familiar. The general interface is the same and the iPhone inspiration is visible throughout. However, Vivo’s camera app isn’t as polished as it could be. For example, the AR stickers are displayed around the shutter button, which makes it hard to tell what’s going on.

vivo x21 ud camera app in professional mode

The obligatory beauty mode is present and accounted for. Take a selfie or a portrait and you can pick from six degrees of skin-smoothing and wrinkle-removing. Other noteworthy features are the Live Photos (with sound) and the AR stickers. Because who doesn’t like virtual bunny ears?

vivo x21 ud beauty mode comparison

The Vivo X21’s dual camera setup can take some decent portrait shots. The bokeh effect isn’t very realistic, but it’s pleasant enough, and separation between the subject and the background is usually on point. Portrait mode is made for…portraits, but I was able get some nice shots of other things as well. It’s nice you can select the amount of bokeh you want to add to your pics, though I found the swipe-based interface hard to use.

vivo x21 ud portrait mode

General image quality is solid in good lighting, though pictures taken with the Vivo X21 are rarely great. (I may be spoiled by the excellent camera of the Pixel 2.) When lighting diminishes, pictures become too dark and grainy for my taste. Despite the phase detection autofocus, a moving subject (or slight camera shakes) often resulted in unusable shots. Even outside, many shots turned out worse than I had anticipated.

Vivo X21 review – samples gallery

I don’t take a lot of selfies, but the 12MP front camera got the job done most of the times. It also supports portrait mode, though it’s entirely software-based. That means you can’t select the bokeh level like you can on the rear cameras and the bokeh effect is less impressive. A couple of times, the camera turned out weirdly over-sharpened selfies.

General image quality is solid in good lighting, though pictures taken with the Vivo X21 are rarely great.

To wrap up, the Vivo X21’s cameras will give you all the basics and a couple of fun extras, but you shouldn’t expect anything spectacular.

The software

I really like the Vivo X21’s hardware. But the software is a bit of a letdown.

Vivo copied tons of details from iOS, from the general appearance of the icons, to the way the launcher lacks an app drawer, and the quick settings menu at the bottom of the screen. I don’t care much that Vivo copied Apple. It doesn’t matter who came up with an idea or design, as long as it works well. But here’s the thing – some of the iOS-inspired features in Funtouch OS are objectively worse than what you get in stock Android, Samsung TouchWiz, or HTC Sense.

vivo x21 ud control center quick settings

My biggest gripe with Funtouch OS on the Vivo X21 is the quick settings interface. On every Android phone I’ve ever used, the quick settings were part of the notification drawer, accessible with a swipe from the top. On the X21, you need to swipe up from the bottom of the screen to get to the quick settings. If you’re coming from an iPhone, it might make sense. I struggled to get used to it. The swipe-up gesture didn’t work very consistently either — I often had to swipe up twice or more to open the settings. And I doubt I was swiping it wrong!

I really like the Vivo X21’s hardware. Sadly, the software is a bit of a letdown.

The X21 gives you the option to switch to an all-gestures interface, instead of the familiar Android navigation buttons. In this gesture mode, the bottom of the screen is divided into three areas: swipe up on the right side to open the control center; swipe up on the center to go back to the home screen; swipe up on the left side to go back one screen. Side swiping the central area of the screen lets you scroll through the active apps. While I could probably get used to this feature, the classic buttons just work better.

vivo x21 ud gestures interface

The status bar is a bit of a mess — the notch takes up a lot of it, and the remaining space is not used very well. On the left, the clock and the network signal indicator take up most of the real estate, meaning you usually only see one notification icon. Inexplicably, Vivo replaced the default icons with its own, though it’s possible to revert to the normal ones if you dig deep into the settings.

vivo x21 ud screen with notch

The notification drawer feels half-baked as well. The UI is overly simplistic, some elements are misaligned, and the functionality is a little inconsistent. Some ongoing notifications — like the weather notification from the Google app — are not expanded by default, requiring you to tap on them to see them. Other notifications do nothing, they just take up space without offering any information. It’s not a good experience.

vivo x21 ud notification shade

The launcher is rather basic, and it lacks an app drawer, which forces you to use folders if you want to keep your stuff in order. There are no app shortcuts or many other creature comforts. At least you can install Nova to fix it if you don’t like it. I did enjoy the ability to search on device and on the web with a quick swipe down on the screen — it was fast and convenient.

Besides the major stuff I mentioned, I spotted other small usability issues on my Vivo X21 review unit. You can’t change screen brightness by tapping on the scroll bar, like you can on most other phones; instead, you need to tap and drag the knob. The styling of section names makes some settings menus confusing. Even if you set another keyboard as default, the phone sometimes switches to the pre-loaded one, usually when you type in passwords.

These are all minor issues, but they add up.

I will give credit to Vivo for packing Funtouch with features and customization options, but it still needs a lot of refining. The devil is always in the details, and that’s where Funtouch falls short.

vivo x21 ud folders interface

On the bright side, the Vivo X21 is part of a select group of devices that have access to the recently launched Android P beta. Vivo isn’t known for its updates focus, so it was definitely a surprise to see the X21 on the list. Let’s hope the closer collaboration with Google will result in a stronger focus on software in the future. We will update this Vivo X21 review once we take Android P for a spin in the coming days.

The devil is always in the details, and that’s where Funtouch falls short.

The competition

The Vivo X21 is a solid device with great hardware and a few cool tricks up its sleeve. But the smartphone market is jam-packed, so what are some Vivo X21 alternatives you should know about?

We don’t know the international price of the Vivo X21 yet, but in China, the 64GB of storage of the phone costs 2,898 yuan (~ $455), the 128GB version costs 3,198 yuan (~ $500), and the Vivo X21 UD version with 128GB of storage and an under-display fingerprint reader costs 3,598 yuan (~$565).

International prices of the Vivo X21 will probably be higher than in China, so here are a few other devices you could check out:

  • OnePlus 6 (8GB RAM and 128GB storage) for $580. The OnePlus 6 offers more RAM and a stronger, more future-proof processor. The software is more refined and you get fast and frequent updates.
  • Honor 10 (6GB RAM and 128GB storage) for $470. Similar memory and storage, but the processor is stronger. The Honor 10 features more powerful cameras, front and back. On the downside, the display is smaller and just an LCD.
  • Nokia 7 Plus (4GB RAM and 64GB storage) for $470. Similar processor, but less memory and an LCD screen. Fast updates and a clean UI go a long way.
  • Vivo V9 (4GB RAM/64GB storage) for $350. Vivo’s own V9 looks almost identical to the Vivo X21, but comes with generally lower specs and an LCD screen. No snazzy fingerprint scanner either, but much cheaper.

We’ll update our Vivo X21 review once the phone’s price is announced in more markets.

Final thoughts

The Vivo X21 is a fun device that gets a lot of things right. The display is a joy to look at, performance is solid, and the fingerprint sensor and facial recognition work well. It looks great, and most of the times it works just as well. It’s let down by the software, which lacks polish and attention to detail, and comes with several UI elements that just don’t make sense.

The Vivo X21 is a fun device that gets a lot of things right.

We don’t know yet the international prices of the Vivo X21, but the phone is likely to be on the expensive side. If that’s the case, “fun” might not be enough to justify paying $100 or even $200 more compared to some of the phones we mentioned above. And cool as it may be, the under-glass fingerprint sensor isn’t worth paying a big premium for.

Further reading

Done with our Vivo X21 review? Here are some of our other great content you should check out:

There you have it for our Vivo X21 review. Let us know your thoughts in the comments!

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UK Deals of the Week: £100 off Samsung Gear S3 smartwatch, Honor 7X for £209 Sun, 27 May 2018 07:51:36 +0000

Welcome to your weekly round-up of the best U.K. deals of the week for Android phones, network plans, accessories, smart home tech, and a little of whatever else is on offer in the world of mobile.

Editor's Pick

This week’s deals include savings on both the Gear S3 Frontier and Classic, a nice discount on the Honor 7X, a ridiculously cheap SIM only deal with loads of data, and much more.

Below are the most enticing deals we’ve seen this week hand-picked with a little help from the folks over at HotUKDeals – the U.K.’s biggest deal-sharing community.


Honor 7X (SIM Free, 64GB) – £209 (was £269) @ AO

Huawei Mate 10 Pro (SIM Free, 128GB) – £499 (was £699) @ Amazon

Google Pixel 2 XL (Refurbished, SIM Free, 64GB) – £479 @ Appliances Direct


iD Mobile SIM only, 30 days, 10GB data, 300 minutes, unlimited texts – £10 @ iD Mobile


Samsung Gear S3 Frontier – £249 (was £349) @ Currys

Samsung Gear S3 Classic – £249 (was £349) @ Currys

Fitbit Flex 2 – £39 (was £49) @ Argos


Lenovo Tab 3 10.1 (16GB) – £99 (was £119) @ Argos

More UK content:

Have you seen any amazing deals this week? Be sure to share your finds in the comments.

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