Android Authority Android News, Reviews, How To Sat, 22 Sep 2018 15:09:41 +0000 en-US hourly 1 54cc39 Earn a much bigger payday with top IT certifications like CompTIA Sat, 22 Sep 2018 15:09:41 +0000 it career
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10 features from other ROMs, skins, and platforms we’d like to see in stock Android Sat, 22 Sep 2018 14:00:27 +0000 The Google Pixel 2 XL.

Stock Android has improved massively over the years, receiving plenty of polish and functionality since its launch roughly a decade ago. In the beginning, we didn’t have copy and paste, multi-touch, or even Wi-Fi tethering.

Despite how far it’s come, there are plenty of cool features in ROMs, Android skins, and rival platforms we’d like to see in the pure version of Android.

App twin (Xiaomi, Huawei)

The Dual Messenger feature on Samsung phones.

First popularized by devices from Xiaomi and Huawei, app twinning functionality has since made its way to Samsung phones, called Dual Messenger (seen above). It lets you run two accounts on one communication app. So if you want to run two WhatsApp or Facebook accounts on one phone, this makes it possible.

This is especially handy if you have a dual-SIM phone and WhatsApp accounts for both personal and business use, or if you’re travelling. It’s not the biggest feature, but it’s been adopted by a few of the biggest brands around, so it wouldn’t hurt if pure Android grabbed it too.

Off-screen gestures (various OEMs)

Screen-off gestures on a OnePlus smartphone.

I thought drawing gestures on an unlit screen was very niche, but it turns out my colleague Mitja loves it. It’s actually one of the oldest features on the list, used by Huawei, Oppo, OnePlus (seen above), Cubot, Vivo, and Lava for a while now. It’s also been available on ROMs like Cyanogen and LineageOS.

Off-screen gestures allow users to conduct a variety of actions with a simple scribble, such as drawing the letter C to open the camera. These gestures also allow users to launch everything from the music player to user-defined shortcuts.

Game mode (Samsung)

Samsung offered its Game Tools on 2016’s Galaxy S7, and it’s been a staple feature ever since. We’ve seen modes like this this on a host of devices since then, including 2018’s gaming-focused smartphones.

The Korean firm’s game mode is essentially a collection of handy tweaks for gaming, accessible by tapping the gaming icon (D-pad and four buttons) in the navigation bar. This pop-up menu lets you block notifications during a game, quickly activate screenshots and screen recording, and record audio from your microphone.

Editor's Pick

Samsung also has its Game Launcher, which gathers all your games in one folder. From here, you can also use a power-saving/performance slider for games (crank it up for max performance, turn it down for power saving), and get a breakdown of games played.

We’d really like to see pure Android gain a gaming mode with associated settings, especially as we see more ports of popular games like Fortnite and PUBG. This way, OEMs won’t have to build their own mode from scratch.

Wi-Fi password sharing (Xiaomi, Windows Phone)

The Wi-Fi sharing option on Xiaomi phones.

The ability to quickly share a Wi-Fi password with friends from your smartphone is rather handy. Microsoft was one of the first to take a stab at this, on Windows Phone and Windows 10. In Xiaomi’s case, the MIUI skin uses QR codes to enable password sharing — no need to actually give out the password either.

Even if stock Android takes the Xiaomi route of QR codes, we’d love to see this third-party feature in a future version of pure Android.

PC mode (Windows 10 Mobile, Samsung, Huawei)

We’ve seen PC-like experiences on smartphones before, such as 2011’s Motorola Atrix and the HTC Advantage Windows Mobile device before that. Windows 10 Mobile reinvigorated the concept in 2015, essentially delivering a Windows 10 desktop mode when connected to a dock and screen (or your Xbox One).

Samsung upped the ante by actually making many apps usable in its DeX mode, and Huawei’s PC mode eschewed a dock in favor of a simple USB Type-C to HDMI cable. The result is that today’s PC-style modes aren’t a completely rubbish experience.

We’d like to see stock Android gain a PC mode of sorts when connected to a large screen. Sure, smartphones aren’t quite as capable as a dedicated Windows or Mac computer, but a PC desktop mode on stock Android could help make presentations an easier endeavor.

Scrolling screenshot support (Samsung, Huawei, LG, Xiaomi)Scroll capture on a Samsung phone.

Screenshot support is ubiquitous on smartphones these days, but what if you need to take a screenshot of an entire thread or article? That’s where scrolling screenshots come in, available on Samsung, Huawei, and Xiaomi phones.

The feature works pretty well too, as you activate a screenshot and then tap the “scroll” button that appears to keep the screenshot going.

Themes (Xiaomi, Huawei, Samsung, LG, Sony etc)

This feature is available on loads of smartphones around the world, allowing users to quickly give their device a fresh coat of paint. Stock Android allows for some customization in this regard, but it seems to lack a proper, easily accessible theme engine.

Loads of third-party phones ship with theme engines and storefronts, allowing for quickly browsing and downloading desired themes. Of course, there are some things a new theme can’t change on these phones (like system menus), so if Google takes this route, we’d like to see deeper customization. The company and third-party developers actually seem to be making progress in this department, too.

System profiles/Smart settings (LineageOS, LG UX)

The smart settings menu on an LG smartphone.

Changing system settings based on location or connectivity triggers has been possible with Tasker for years now. LineageOS and LG’s UX arguably do it the easiest, though.

Editor's Pick

LG’s feature is buried under the smart settings/context awareness feature. Tap this menu and you’ll be able to set what happens when you arrive at home or work. It’s not super expansive, mostly covering sound profiles and wireless connectivity, but it’s a neat start.

LineageOS’s system profiles rely on connectivity triggers (connecting to a Wi-Fi network, or toggling Bluetooth/NFC) or manual activation.The purpose is similar to LG, allowing you to automatically change a few settings when you get to work or home.

Timeshift camera functionality (BlackBerry 10, Samsung)


One of the best things about the BlackBerry 10 was its Timeshift feature in the camera app. Simply take a photo of people in this mode and you can “rewind” to a better expression by tapping a person’s face. This is particularly handy if someone blinks in a group shot.

We’ve seen Samsung offer a similar, albeit less impressive approach with its Best Faces feature, capturing five images and letting you swap out faces accordingly. Given today’s more powerful chipsets and machine learning prowess, it seems like a neat feature to revisit with modern hardware.

Biometric safe (Huawei, Xiaomi, Samsung, TCL)

Samsung (YouTube)

Fingerprint scanners have made our lives much easier. They’re faster than a PIN and often come with extra features, like swiping down to activate notifications. One of the coolest extra features might be the safe functionality, which lets you hide sensitive content in a fingerprint-protected folder.

Unfortunately, stock Android lacks this feature, but Huawei, Xiaomi, Samsung, and BlackBerry/TCL all sport biometric safes. The BlackBerry Key2 takes this a step further by sending all photos taken with the fingerprint scanner gesture to the biometric safe — smart stuff.

Those are our favorite features from other platforms, skins, and ROMs we’d like to see on stock Android. There are a few honorable mentions too, like Xiaomi’s quick ball functionality and more versatile volume keys (skipping music tracks via these buttons would be nice).

What feature would you like on stock Android? Let us know in the comments below!

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Here are the best high-end smartphones that won’t break the bank Sat, 22 Sep 2018 13:00:47 +0000 The front of the Xiaomi Mi 8.

Between Xiaomi, OnePlus, Honor, and other brands, it seems like many manufacturers are confidently balancing features and price, delivering cheap flagships in the process. This is the most impressive year yet for these kinds of phones. 

With that in mind, let’s take a look at some top-shelf phones that won’t cost the world.

Xiaomi Pocophone F1

The front of the Pocophone F1.

Starting at $300, the Pocophone F1 might be the most impressive cheap flagship out there. The first phone from Xiaomi’s Pocophone (or Poco in India) sub-brand was a home run, offering features you’d expect from $700 or $800 phones.

The headline-grabbing addition is the Snapdragon 845 processor — the same chipset found in flagships from Samsung, HTC, LG, Sony and others. Add 6GB or 8GB of RAM, 64GB or 256GB of expandable storage, and a 4,000mAh battery, and you’ve got a fantastic deal.

The phone also packs a 12MP and 5MP rear camera pairing (no OIS here) and a 16MP front-camera setup. However, the camera experience isn’t really flagship level, as our Pocophone F1 review shows. The phone also lacks NFC connectivity, but at least it’s got a headphone jack.

Xiaomi has also taken a more lightweight approach to the user-interface, and an encouraging commitment to updates so far. The phone is scheduled to launch in several dozen countries, and its already on sale in India. Everyone else can check out the Amazon store listing below.

Xiaomi Mi 8

The back of the Xiaomi Mi 8.

If you like the idea of the Pocophone F1, but need a Xiaomi phone with more features, the Mi 8 is for you. It offers the same Snapdragon 845, 6GB or 8GB of RAM, and 64GB to 256GB storage options as the F1, but makes upgrades everywhere else.

The phone packs a 6.21-inch full HD+ AMOLED screen (with a notch), dual-frequency GPS for more accurate navigation, NFC, a 12MP and 12MP telephoto camera setup, and a 20MP selfie camera. Prominent benchmarking website DxOMark gave the phone’s camera a score of 99 — one point ahead of the Pixel 2 and two ahead of the iPhone X and Huawei Mate 10 Pro.

There are a few missing features if you’re coming from a Samsung or LG device like wireless charging, a headphone jack, and water and dust resistance. Additionally, the 3,400mAh battery is a solid size, but it’s well short of the 4,000mAh Pocophone F1 and Galaxy Note 9. Still, for roughly $420, you get a cheap flagship phone anyway.

Asus Zenfone 5Z

Asus Zenfone 5Z

For a starting price of $500, the Asus Zenfone 5Z is yet another smartphone offering flagship performance for hundreds of dollars below actual flagship prices. 

The phone has a Snapdragon 845 processor, a notched 6.2-inch LCD screen (full HD+), 6GB of RAM, 64GB of expandable storage, and a 3,300mAh battery. It also offers a 12MP primary shooter with OIS, an 8MP super wide angle secondary snapper, a headphone jack, NFC, and support for Hi-Res Audio files.

The ZenUI skin is pretty handy, offering loads of AI-branded features. One of the standout features in this regard is AI Ringtone, which lowers or boosts a ringtones volume in reaction to your environment.

The phone seems like an iPhone X rip-off in the design department, but this is still undeniably one of the best cheap flagships out there.

OnePlus 6

OnePlus 6

The OnePlus series popularized the “affordable flagship,” and although the price has crept up over time, the latest model is still a cheap flagship compared to Samsung, Apple, and Huawei’s ultra-premium devices.

Retailing for $529, the OnePlus 6 offers what you’d expect from a top-end phone: a Snapdragon 845, 6GB or 8GB of RAM, and 64GB to 256GB of storage. The device also has a 6.28-inch full HD+ AMOLED screen (albeit with a notch), OnePlus’ trademark Dash Charge technology, and a 3,300mAh battery.

Rounding out the package is a 16MP and 20MP dual camera setup (with OIS on the primary sensor), a 16MP front-facing camera, NFC and, yes, a headphone jack. The phone also packs the lightweight HydrogenOS skin based on Android 8.1, although Android Pie is also available as a beta download.

There are a couple of omissions here though, such as a microSD slot, wireless charging, and water resistance, though the latter two features are still relatively uncommon in a $500 to $600 flagship. The camera performance also still isn’t as good as top-end phones from Samsung, Google, and Huawei, as we found in our OnePlus 6 review — at this price, you can’t live ’em all.

Honor Play

Honor’s take on the gaming smartphone hasn’t been as spectacular as the Asus ROG Phone, but it definitely takes the cake in affordability.

For 349 euros (~$407), you get a flagship-level Kirin 970 chipset with AI silicon, 4GB or 6GB of RAM, 64GB of expandable storage, a 6.3-inch notched full HD+ LCD screen, and a 3,750mAh battery. The Kirin 970 chipset isn’t quite as nimble as the Snapdragon 845, but it’s still high end, so it’ll handle gaming well.

Aside from the capable silicon, Huawei’s sub-brand implemented haptic feedback for games, and introduced GPU Turbo technology to boost performance. That’s pretty much it, but no matter how you look at it, you’re getting a powerful phone for $300.

The camera department isn’t as impressive as the core specs — 16MP and 2MP rear camera combination struggles in low light. The 16MP selfie shooter should do a solid, if unspectacular job in most conditions. 

Honor 10

Honor 10 phantom green

If you want the Honor Play’s horsepower but need better camera performance, the Honor 10 might be for you.

The Honor 10 sports a dual-camera setup on the back, with a 16MP f/1.8 primary shooter and a 24MP f/1.8 monochrome secondary snapper. Much like other recent Huawei and Honor flagships, it’s got AI-powered scene recognition and a wide aperture mode. We’ve also got a 24MP selfie camera, akin to the P20 series.

The camera department isn’t perfect, as the phone lacks OIS, which means more shudder and blur in low-light situations. In any case, our own Oliver Cragg was pretty impressed with the cameras in his Honor 10 review.

Completing the spec-sheet is a Kirin 970 SoC, 4GB or 6GB of RAM, 64GB to 128GB of (non-expandable) storage, a 3,400mAh battery, a headphone jack, and NFC. Not bad for 399 euros (~$466).

These are our favorite cheap flagships, covering everything from Asus and OnePlus to Honor and Xiaomi. This just shows that while traditional super-phones from Samsung, LG, Huawei, and others are great, you don’t need to spend a ton of money for a great experience.

Have we missed a few flagship killers? Let us know in the comments section.

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A beginner’s guide to the Xiaomi camera app: Here’s what those settings and modes do Sat, 22 Sep 2018 12:00:33 +0000

The Xiaomi camera app isn’t the worst app around, but plenty of users find its iOS-style interface a little obtuse. If you ever wondered about the app’s more advanced options, or even its basic functions, we’ve got some advice for you.

The basic viewfinder options

Smartphone photography tips.

When you launch the Xiaomi camera app on your budget phone, you’ll be greeted by the viewfinder, with several icons dotted around the window.

The large white button at the bottom is the shutter key. The icon to the left (holding the phone in portrait) takes you to your previously taken shots. The red icon to the right of the shutter key is the video recording mode.

Just above those main buttons sits three more buttons. From right to left, there’s a camera toggle button for quickly switching between the main and selfie camera, an “options” menu button, and a filter menu for applying various effects before taking a shot.

The viewfinder in the Xiaomi Camera app.

Finally, the flash icon sits in the top-left corner (tap it to enable the camera flash) and the HDR toggle in the top-right corner (tap it to enable HDR mode). You’ll want to enable HDR for scenes with both bright and dark elements. That way you can make out detail in the shadows without blowing out the clouds.

The camera app on many premium Xiaomi phones usually differs a little from the budget devices. The more expensive phones tend to use a hamburger button instead of the “options” menu, usually containing shooting modes and settings menus. These more premium phones also copy the iPhone by allowing you to scroll laterally through the camera modes from the viewfinder.

Digging into the various modes

Modes in the Xiaomi camera app.

Tapping the “options” menu (or the hamburger menu) will bring up a list of all the Xiaomi camera modes. If you want to take a panorama or dabble with manual mode on your cheaper phone, you need to visit this menu first.

A single-camera budget Xiaomi phone usually has roughly nine modes here:

  • Panorama: This is handy if you’re taking shots of landscapes or the city.
  • Timer: This mode takes a shot after a user-defined delay (like three, five, or ten seconds).
  • Audio: Use this mode to take a photo with your voice instead of your finger — any sound will do.
  • Manual: This mode allows you to adjust white balance and ISO before taking a shot. More expensive Xiaomi phones also let you adjust shutter speed and several other variables.
  • Straighten: This option presents a virtual box over your viewfinder, constantly shifting to help you straighten your shot out.
  • Beautify: This applies a user-defined level of “beauty” enhancement to your shots (low, medium or high), usually taking the form of skin smoothing.
  • HHT: This stands for handheld twilight and is for taking better low-light images. The mode uses multiple images for a better shot.
  • Scene: This mode lets you choose from roughly a dozen scenes before taking the photo, with each scene offering minor camera tweaks. Notable scenes include landscape, backlit, and beach.
  • Tilt-shift: This mode delivers the tilt-shift effect when you take a photo, blurring everything but a pre-defined area to simulate a miniature scene. The mode offers to either blur everything but a small circle in the center, or everything bar the middle third of the screen.

More expensive dual-camera Xiaomi phones usually have a few more modes, too:

  • AI mode: Enable AI mode and your camera will automatically adjust various settings based on the recognized scene. So expect more colorful shots of food, for example.
  • Portrait mode: This mode generates a shot with a lovely bokeh effect, blurring the background but keeping the subject perfectly in focus.

What other settings are available?

The settings menu in the Xiaomi Camera app.

Tap the gear icon in the top-right of the options menu will open a menu with settings for saving location info for photos, disabling or enabling camera sounds, a pocket mode (disabling touch gestures if you put the phone in your pocket while the camera app is open), a time-stamp option (showing the time and date of the photo), and more.

Read: Smartphone photography tips — 16 tricks you should know

There are several handy options here, starting with the “show gridlines” toggle. I usually enable this option, as it helps me keep things straight and level, and use the rule of thirds more easily. The “volume buttons function” option lets you tap the volume button to either take a photo or zoom, which is handy if you want a physical camera button on your phone.

We also see options for contrast, saturation and sharpness, in case you want to crank up the colors for Instagram. The last option really worth knowing is the “auto exposure settings” field, which determines how your Xiaomi phone sets exposure. We’d recommend leaving it on “spot metering,” which bases the exposure on where you tapped to focus. Tap on a bright area and the phone will set the exposure lower to compensate, and vice-versa.

All your video options

Video settings in the Xiaomi Camera app.

Switch to the video recording mode and the “options” menu changes accordingly too. Instead of options like manual, panorama, and tilt-shift, there’s a brief list of video modes. If you’re using a Redmi 5 like me, you’ll only see a time-lapse or slow-motion option.

Tapping the gear icon will bring up different settings to tinker with too. You’ll want to pay attention to video quality (try adjusting your video quality to HD if you’re short on storage space), and the time-lapse interval (how many shots are being taken for a time-lapse).

It’s also worth noting that you might not see the slow-motion video mode if your camera quality is set to Full HD, as some budget phones only capture slow-mo at HD. You’d think the camera app would present the slow-mo option and switch the video resolution in the background when you actually tap it, but Xiaomi is definitely backwards in this regard.

A few handy tips

Try adjusting exposure like this

An alternative way to adjust exposure in the Xiaomi Camera app.

When actually taking photos, the Xiaomi camera app has an alternative way to adjust exposure. Simply tap to focus, then hold on the resulting icon with arrows pointing up and down. From here, drag the icon up for a higher exposure and down for a lower exposure.

Use the fingerprint scanner

The back of the Redmi Note 5.

If you’ve got a Xiaomi phone with a fingerprint scanner, you’ve also got an extra way to take shots. The Xiaomi camera app lets you take photos by simply tapping the scanner. You might find this handy for taking selfies, when the main shutter key is in an awkward spot.

Take photos while recording video

The Xiaomi Camera app while recording a video.

Many phones can take shots while recording a clip, and it’s pretty easy in the Xiaomi camera app. Simply start recording, then tap the circular icon next to the “stop” button. The photo won’t be high-resolution at all — it’s more like a screengrab — but it’s still a useful trick and shows you don’t necessarily have to choose between video or photo. If you’re not seeing the feature, you might have to enable it via settings > image capture while recording.

That’s it!

That’s pretty much all there is to the Xiaomi camera app. Let us know in the comments if you’ve got any more tips and tricks to share!

Need more MIUI and Xiaomi help? Check out our guide to MIUI themes over here, or how to take a screenshot on Xiaomi devices over here.

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UK Deals of the Week: Xiaomi Pocophone F1 for £254 (15% off), Nokia 7 Plus deals Sat, 22 Sep 2018 09:00:20 +0000 Pocophone F1

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 two great deals on the Nokia 7 Plus, a discount on the hugely popular Pocophone F1, a 128GB SanDisk Micro SD card for just £24.99, 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.

Nokia 7 plus


Xiaomi Pocophone F1 (SIM Free, 64GB) – £254 (was £299) w/code JBUY599 @ eGlobal Central

Nokia 7 Plus (SIM Free, 64GB) – £199 w/ 12 month O2/Vodafone SIM only or £299 w/ free Nokia 3310 @ Carphone Warehouse

Huawei Mate 10 Pro (SIM Free, 128GB) – £379 (was £699) @ Amazon

Honor 7X (SIM Free, 64GB) – £179 (was £199) @ Argos

LG G Flex 2 (SIM Free, 16GB) – £99 (was £130) @ Appliances Direct


SanDisk 128GB Micro SDXC Card – £24.99 (was £59.99) @ MyMemory

Toshiba Exceria 64GB Micro SDXC Card – £11.99 (was £29.99) @ PicStop

RAVPower USB C Power Delivery Car Charger – £9.99 w/code 8GULN786 (£13.99 non-Prime) @ Amazon

JBL T450BT Bluetooth Headphones – £29.99 (was £39.99) @ CPW

Philips Hue app


Philips Hue White Ambience A19 E27 60W Equivalent Smart Bulb Starter Kit @ £87 (was £119) @ Amazon

YI Home Indoor Security Camera 720p – £19.99 w/code YIHOME18 (was £49.99) @ Amazon

TP Link HS100 Smart Plug Twin Pack – £28.99 (was £59.99) @ Costco

More UK content:

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

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.
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Pop quiz: Test your knowledge of this week’s headlines Sat, 22 Sep 2018 07:00:00 +0000 Pop quiz news headlines

This quiz contains 10 questions that revolve around interesting news stories we published this week on our website. If you’re a regular Android Authority reader, you should be able to get a good score.

Are you up for the challenge? Press the Start Quiz button to get started — and don’t forget to share your result on social media at the end.

This is the ninth quiz in our regular weekly series. You can take the other eight via the links below:

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

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10 best battle royale games like PUBG Mobile or Fortnite on Android! Sat, 22 Sep 2018 04:46:09 +0000 This is the featured image for the best battle royale games for android
Fortnite and PUBG Mobile hit Android in a big way. Both games have millions of players already and it jump started the battle royale genre on mobile. They are also two of the best first-person shooter games available. However, they are not for everyone. Both games have long play times with a fairly simple premise. Some players may want to try something else in the genre. We can help with that! Here are the best free battle royale games on Android right now. We intend on adding games like Brawl Stars and H1Z1 when they become more widely available.

Price: Freemium
DOWNLOAD ON GOOGLE PLAY is a fairly basic battle royale game. It has all of the desirable elements. You spawn into a map with a bunch of players. Everybody kills one another until only one remains. The game features 35-player battles, a bunch of weapons, simple controls, and more. There are some occasional lag and connectivity issues. However, it's an accessible game into the world of battle royale. It's a freemium title, but most battle royale games are. The developers are also apparently working on network stability in future updates.

Creative Destruction

Price: Freemium
Creative Destruction is extremely similar to Fortnite. In fact, we consider it a clone. It's a decent clone, though. The game includes a large map with varying landscapes and 100-person matches. You can craft and destroy stuff. Additionally, you can play in third or first person perspectives. We thought that was really fun. The game runs terribly on some midrange and low end phones. Additionally, it has the occasional bug. However, the experience was still quite good in our testing.


Price: Freemium
Fortnite had a controversial launch. However, it's easily one of the best and most popular battle royale games. The game includes a 100-player battle royale. You drop into an island from a plane, build your armaments, find weapons, and take out the other players. There were some issues with early versions of the game. However, Epic Games continues to optimize the game for more and more devices every update. Hit the link above to sign up for the almost-open beta, see a list of compatible devices, and learn how to install the game. It is not available on Google Play.

Garena Free Fire

Price: Freemium
Garena Free Fire is one of the most popular battle royale games. It's weird that it doesn't get as much chatter as Fortnite or PUBG considering its 100 million downloads. The game includes ten minute games with up to 50 participants. It uses shooter mechanics like most of its peers. You can also create four-man squads with a voice chat. Our testing went surprisingly well. The graphics are decent and the game play is smooth. Loading is actually fairly quick. There honestly isn't a lot wrong with this one. It is a freemium game, though, to the surprise of nobody.

Most IO games

Price: Freemium (usually)
There are a ton of IO games out there with battle royale elements. Some notable examples include,,,, and many, many others. The games usually put you in the middle of a massive battle of some sort with a bunch of random players worldwide. The mechanics differ by game. has axes and uses blobs. However, the core premise is the same for most of these games. There are a lot of people with you and you keep going until you or everyone else loses. They are usually freemium titles and they all seem to suffer from similar connectivity and lag issues. However, they are probably the simplest battle royale games available.

Knives Out

Price: Freemium
Knives Out is another popular battle royale game on mobile. It features a lot of the same mechanics you see in other games. You drop into a map and try to survive against everyone else. The game features simple mechanics, team play, a varied map, and plenty of weapons. It's about as typical of a shooter battle royale experience as you can get. This one does have a problem with players breaking the rules and some connectivity issues. We saw more complaints for this one than most others. It's still a decent experience, but we might recommend one of the others before this one.

Pixel's Unknown Battle Ground

Price: Freemium
Pixel's Unknown Battle Ground is a clone of PUBG, obviously. It uses pixel style graphics, but most of the mechanics and controls are the same as other shooter battle royale games. You drop in, find stuff, kill the other players, and survive the longest. This one also features an in-game chat, auto shooting, lower graphics settings for lower end phones, This one has some stability issues that we noticed during our testing. Frankly, if you're going for something like this, you might as well go with PUBG Mobile itself. Still, it's better than most of the other PUBG clones on Google Play.

Rules of Survival

Price: Freemium
Rules of Survival is another PUBG clone with a lot of the same elements. You drop in from an airplane, find stuff, and kill people as per the norm. This one has some additional weapons, vehicles, and matches with 120 players. It's a little less composed than most battle royale games, but that also adds an element of chaos for better or for worse. It has stability and lag issues like most other games. Some matches were more fun than others. It's also a freemium game like most of the others. It's different, but not by a lot.

PUBG Mobile and PUBG Mobile Lite

Price: Freemium
PUBG Mobile is one of the two big names in battle royale games on mobile. Most of the other eight games on this copy off of PUBG Mobile or Fortnite. It features 100-person matches on a large map that slowly collapses to get players to engage with one another. There are a variety of weapons, gear, and vehicles to aid in destruction. It's a surprisingly stable game that runs fairly smooth as long as you have the right graphics settings for your device. There is also a PUBG Mobile Lite version for those with lower end devices. It has less intense graphics, 50 players instead of 100, and a few other optimizations.

Price: Freemium
DOWNLOAD ON GOOGLE PLAY is an arcade shooter with battle royale elements. You drop into a world with a bunch of players. The goal is to be the last person standing, obviously. It uses simple 2D graphics, simple controls, and simple mechanics. It doesn't take long to learn. Additionally, there are team play modes, a metric ton of cosmetic stuff, leaderboards, weekly events, and more. This feels more like a mobile game than a console title ported to mobile. That's perfectly okay, but it does come with a bunch of freemium elements. Plus, the stability is a little rocky on occasion. Otherwise, it's a decent experience.

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

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Samsung Galaxy S10: All the rumors in one place (Updated September 21) Fri, 21 Sep 2018 21:32:45 +0000 Samsung Galaxy S10

Updated September 21, 2018 (05:32PM EST): Model numbers of the upcoming line of Samsung Galaxy S10 devices leaked recently, as well as some codename information that points to 5G support. Read below for more info!

In 2019, Samsung will launch its follow up to the Galaxy S9 and S9 Plus, the Samsung Galaxy S10. Even this far ahead of its release, there are already lots of rumors about what the S10 will be like — including how many models will be launched — and what kinds of new hardware and software features will be included.

The manufacturer has yet to comment officially about the specs, price, and release date for the Samsung Galaxy S10, but there are enough credible rumors to give us an idea of what to expect.

Release date: CES 2019 announcement and February release

The nitty-gritty

  • Release date rumors have not been confirmed by Samsung.
  • One report claims the Galaxy S10 could be announced in January at CES 2019.
  • This could mean the phones could go on sale as early as February 2019.

In the past, Samsung used the Mobile World Congress trade show, held in Barcelona in late February, to introduce the newest members of the Galaxy S series. However, The Korea Herald recently reported Samsung could reveal the Galaxy S10 models well ahead of that usual timeframe, and in a new location.

The report claims Samsung may use the Consumer Electronics Show, held in early January 2019 in Las Vegas, to announce the Galaxy S10 models. If that’s the case, the phones could go on sale in February, well ahead of the series’ traditional March launch. The story claims Samsung is moving up the release of the Galaxy S10 because it plans to use MWC 2019 as the place where it will officially reveal its long-rumored, highly anticipated foldable smartphone.

Samsung slightly moved up the release of the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 to compensate for weaker-than-expected sales of the Galaxy S9, so that might also be a factor with the rumored change in release strategy for the Galaxy S10 as well.

Specs: 3 different Galaxy S10 models in the works

The nitty-gritty

  • Leaked model numbers seemingly confirm that Samsung will release three different Galaxy S10 models at once.
  • The highest end model could have three rear cameras.
  • Other rumors claim the phones could have an in-display fingerprint sensor and a 3D sensor.

We are still several months away from the launch of the Samsung Galaxy S10, which is rumored to have the internal codename “Beyond.” Some rumors concerning the phones’ hardware specs have already hit the internet. One of them claims Samsung will launch three different S10 models at once.

The three devices have apparently been given the codenames Beyond 0, Beyond 1, and Beyond 2. Of the three devices, Beyond 1 will reportedly be the successor to the Galaxy S9, Beyond 2 will be the successor to the Galaxy S9 Plus, and Beyond 0 will be a new entry-level device.

In September 2018, three model numbers leaked online which seemingly confirm that there will be three different variants of the Galaxy S10. The model numbers are SM-G970, SM-G975, and SM-G973. The first two model numbers match up with previous ones for phones like the Samsung Galaxy S9, but the third model number is brand new and could be a reference to the “Beyond 0” entry level device.

According to this rumor, two of the devices will have 5.8-inch displays, while the third would have a 6.2-inch screen.

3D mapping camera sensor like you’ve never seen before

The same story also claims one of the 5.8-inch Galaxy S10 models would have a single rear camera, while the second would have two rear camera sensors. The highest end 6.2-inch Galaxy S10 could have as many as three rear cameras, according to some rumors — similar to the Huawei P20 Pro.

A recent report (in Korean) has added more information about the cameras that will potentially be found on the upcoming devices. It says that the Galaxy S10 Plus will get a dual-lens camera setup on the front of the device, and a triple-lens camera on the rear. The rear setup will be the same as the Galaxy S9 Plus but with the addition of a 16MP, 120-degree ultra-wide angle lens, according to the rumors.

The same report says that the Galaxy S10 will sport a single camera on the front and a triple camera on the rear. Meanwhile, the entry-level device will get a single camera on the front and a dual camera on the rear.

However, another report (in German) suggests otherwise. It says that only the Galaxy S10 Plus will get the rear triple camera and that the Galaxy S10 and the entry-level device will both only get dual-lens rear cameras. It also claims that the Galaxy S10 Plus will get a 12MP main lens with f/1.5 to f/2.4 variable aperture, a 16MP 123-degree super-wide-angle lens with f/1.9 aperture, as well as a 13MP zoom lens with f/2.4 aperture.

The same report suggests that the rear camera found on the other two devices will be the same as the Galaxy S10 Plus but without the 13MP zoom lens.

Another rumor claims the Galaxy S10 could be the first Samsung phone to have a 3D sensor. This could allow the phone to map the outside world in 3D and assist its augmented reality features, like improved versions of the S9’s AR Emoji.

Another Samsung first for the Galaxy S10 could be the addition of an in-display fingerprint scanner.

Futuristic in-display fingerprint scanner

Another Samsung first for the S10 could be the addition of an in-display fingerprint scanner. A new report suggests that Samsung will eschew using the current in-display fingerprint sensor tech used by Vivo and Oppo to instead use its own ultrasonic tech. Theoretically, ultrasonic fingerprint scans could be faster and more efficient than the current optical sensors that companies put underneath displays.

While one would expect something like in-display fingerprint sensors to only land on the higher-end versions of the Galaxy S10 line, a report from Korean site The Investor suggests that all three variants will have the in-display scanner tech. However, the lower-end model will feature the more-common optical sensor and the two higher-end models will get the utrasonic versions.

Also, the Samsung Galaxy S10 might not have an iris scanner like whats included in the Galaxy S9 models. Apparently, the rumors claim the in-display fingerprint sensor will take the place of the iris scanner for opening and locking the smartphone.

Sound-emitting screen

Some rumors claim the Galaxy S10 could use its screen as a replacement for its built-in speaker. Apparently, Samsung Display has created a sound-emitting screen that could be used on the Galaxy S10. It’s similar technology to the Vivo Nex phone.

Out-of-this-world processor and maybe a 5G variant

If history is a guide, we can expect the Galaxy S10 to be the first smartphone to have Qualcomm’s next-generation version of its highest-end Snapdragon mobile phone processor, beyond the current Snapdragon 845, for the U.S. market. It will likely release in the rest of the world sporting the next generation version of Samsung’s in-house Exynos chip, ahead of the current Exynos 9810 model.

It’s possible Samsung could launch the lowest end Galaxy S10 with just 4GB of RAM and 64GB storage, like the 5.8-inch Galaxy S9. If the rumors of two more models are accurate, they could have 6GB or even 8GB of RAM, and as much as 512GB of storage space.

We did hear a rumor that the Galaxy S10 line will NOT be 5G-capable. According to rumors, there will be a 5G phone from Samsung that releases next year, but it will be its own standalone model and not an S10 or Note 10 device.

However, the “Beyond” codenames mentioned earlier did include a Beyond 2 5G model. This could mean that there will be a Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus model that will also have 5G connection capabilities. However, since there are rumors saying that there will NOT be a 5G Galaxy S10, we don’t know what to believe quite yet.

It’s also likely the Samsung Galaxy S10 will launch running Android 9.0 Pie with an updated version of the Samsung Experience UI skin and an updated version of its Bixby digital assistant. Other hardware specs for the phone, such as the size of its battery, its water and dust resistance rating, and whether or not it will have a headphone jack, are unknown at this time.

 Samsung Galaxy S10 rumored specifications
Display5.8-inch, 6.2-inch displays
ProcessorNext-gen Snapdragon or Exynos chip
Storageup to 512GB
CameraSingle, dual and triple rear camera setup
Water resistantUnknown
Headphone jackUnknown
SoftwareAndroid P with Samsung Experience
Other featuresIn-display fingerprint sensor and speaker, 3D sensor

Design: New specs can dictate the Samsung Galaxy S10 overall design

The nitty-gritty

  • The Galaxy S10 could look much different than previous phones in the series.
  • Some rumors suggest that it could come close to a truly bezel-free design.

The Samsung Galaxy S10 could have very different look compared to the Infinity Display design of Galaxy S8 or S9 phones. Indeed, if the rumors about the in-display fingerprint scanner and audio features are correct, the phones could be the closest Samsung has come to being truly bezel-less. A recent Twitter post from an internet gadget leaker showed off a photo of what the leaker suggested was an S10 prototype, and it had almost no bezels. However, that image is almost certainly a fake.

The S10 could come close to a 100 percent bezel-free phone, but we won’t know until credible photos and renders appear closer to the phone’s launch.

Price & availability

The nitty-gritty

  • The Galaxy S10 price will certainly vary depending on the phone’s model and hardware specs.
  • The low-end model could be priced around $700, while the highest end model could cost over $1,000.

Obviously, Samsung has not indicated how it will price the Galaxy S10 models. If the company actually releases three different versions of the S10, each with its own RAM and storage capacity, pricing could vary widely, from as low as around $700 for the smaller 5.8-inch model with the lowest RAM and storage, to over $1,000 for the 6.2-inch model with more RAM and storage.

Samsung Galaxy S10: Conclusion

These are all the rumors and credible speculation we’ve come across so far about the Samsung Galaxy S10. As we always do with this kind of post, we will be updating this page on a regular basis as more rumors, and any official statements and specs from Samsung, are released

In the meantime, share your thoughts on the Samsung Galaxy S10. Do you think the Samsung Galaxy S10 will be a worthy successor to the S9? Let us know in the comments!

Previous coverage:

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Samsung Galaxy Note 9 camera review Fri, 21 Sep 2018 21:17:01 +0000 Commonly labeled as Samsung’s true high-end line, the Galaxy Note series features some of the most impressive devices in the market. Refined design, stronger specs, more advanced features, and S-Pen functionality are but a few of the things you can expect from the new Samsung Galaxy Note 9. Then there’s the camera, which this time around is an incremental upgrade over the Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus shooter.

This is not exactly bad news — the Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus is a great camera phone. Samsung may have managed to turn something great into something even better.

Both the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 and S9 Plus use the same hardware, including the 12MP dual sensors, as well as the dual-aperture lens. The difference is in the software; more specifically, the addition of artificial intelligence.

Samsung may have managed to turn something great into something even better.

How good is the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 at taking pictures? Let’s find out if the South Korean giant can live up to its reputation this time around in this Samsung Galaxy Note 9 camera review.

Editor’s note: this article was updated Sept. 21 to include objective test results. For more information, read more about how we test.

Photos have been resized for quicker loading times, but that is the only editing these images have undergone. If you want to pixel peep and analyze the full resolution photos, we have put them in a Google Drive folder for you.

Samsung Galaxy Note 9 camera specs

Rear cameras:

  • Wide-angle Super Speed Dual Pixel 12MP AF sensor
    • Sensor size: 1/2.55″
    • Pixel Size: 1.4µm
    • Sensor ratio: 4:3
    • 77-degree field of view
    • Dual Aperture: f/1.5 mode, f/2.4 mode
  • Telephoto
    • 12MP AF sensor
    • Sensor size: 1/3.4″
    • Pixel Size: 1.0µm
    • Sensor ratio: 4:3
    • 45-degree field of view
    • f/2.4 aperture
  • Dual OIS (Optical Image Stabilization)
  • VDIS (Video Digital Image Stabilization)
  • Optical zoom: 2X
  • Digital zoom: 10X
  • Scene optimizer
  • Flaw detection
  • Modes: Live Focus, Auto, Pro, Panorama, Dual Capture, Super Slow-Mo, AR Emoji, Hyperlapse, HDR, Motion Photo
  • Video recording: 4K 60fps, 4K 30fps, QHD 30fps, 1080p 240fps, 1080p 60fps, 1080p 30fps, 720p 960fps, 720p 30fps

Front camera: 

  • 8MP AF sensor
    • Sensor size: 1/3.6″
    • Pixel size: 1.22µm
    • Sensor ratio: 4:3
    • 80-degree field of view
    • F/1.7 aperture
  • Modes: Selfie Focus, Selfie, Wide Selfie

Samsung Galaxy Note 9 camera app

Right off the bat, the camera app seems pretty crowded. There are shooting modes along the top (Panorama, Pro, Live Focus, Auto, Super Slow-Mo, AR Emoji, and Hyperlapse), and a plethora of options next to the shutter button (Settings, Full Screen, Flash, Filters, and Camera Rotation). Right next to those you will find Bixby Vision and Zoom. It’s all quite a bit to take in, and very confusing at first if you’re not already familiar with Samsung’s busy layout.

The onslaught of options can be a bit overwhelming and there is definitely a learning curve to using this app. However, these functions represent most of what you will interact with when taking any shot, so the camera app ends up being pretty easy to use once you settle in: Most important options are right on the main screen.

The settings menu offers plenty of options. Here you can change the resolution of images and videos, toggle the Scene Optimizer (AI) on or off, Set a timer, control HDR, and much more.

You can have fun with the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 camera even when you are not taking a picture. Bixby Vision turns the camera into a smart assistant of sorts. Point it at signs and Bixby Vision will translate writing for you. It can even recognize landmarks and guide you through streets, telling you where businesses are. In addition, Bixby Vision can recognize dishes and offer nutritional details, or identify products and help you shop for them.

Launching AR Emoji lets you create cool images of yourself using digital accessories like glasses and hats. You can also switch your face to an animal’s. Additionally, there is an endless list of AR Emoji packs you can download from the Galaxy Apps store.

The camera app is full of neat tricks and surprises. It’s a bit confusing at first, but once you learn it, chances are no other manufacturer can offer such an ample selection of features.

  • Ease of use: 9/10
  • Intuitiveness: 7/10
  • Features: 10/10
  • Advanced Settings: 10/10

Score: 9/10


Daylight shots are as good as we can expect a high-end camera phone to produce. All cameras shine the most in direct sunlight, with only minute differences in the details.

In the first image, the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 picked up great detail all across the frame, from the flowers in the front to the building in the back. Colors were well saturated, showcasing lively green plants, colorful flowers, and a great sky. Details can be lost in the strong shadows, but there weren’t many low-lit areas to ruin this specific shot. The same can’t be said about the rest of the photos, though.

While these pictures are still great, they lose plenty of detail in the dark. This is to be expected in strong sunlight, but it also says a lot about the phone’s HDR capabilities, which is on auto by default (it can be forced on or off manually). We can especially notice this phenomenon in the last image.

Overall, all images are very well exposed, crisp, colorful, and nothing negative really stands out enough to make a bad impression. It’s a Samsung flagship camera, after all!

Score: 9/10


A photo that “pops” needs to have a certain level of saturation. The trick is not saturating so much that it makes color look unnatural, something many phones struggle with. Finding the right balance is not simple, but we feel Samsung got pretty close to it with the Galaxy Note 9 — at least closer than before.

The only image we felt was over-saturated was the fourth (flowers). This is likely because Samsung’s new Scene Optimizer (AI support) can recognize what you are shooting and enhance the settings to better suit the photo. This usually means boosting contrast and saturation, among other things.

All other shots do pretty well keeping the look natural while making colors more extravagant. My only concern is the first image’s warmer tone, which tells us the camera had a hard time picking up the right white balance indoors. Either that or it was thrown off by all the other colors. Regardless, it messed up somewhere, which needs to be noted. There was also plenty of over-softening in this image, which loses detail once you zoom in.

As seen in the daylight photos, dynamic range is still not the best, even with HDR on auto. The building in the back of the second image loses plenty of detail in the dark, as does the shaded area in the third shot. Maybe the contrasting lighting needs to be more obvious for Samsung’s smart system to recognize the need to turn HDR on.

Either way, colors sure look great overall, thanks to the great hardware and plenty of software help. However, these enhancements do take a toll on other departments.

Score: 8.5/10

Our objective lab results bear this out too. In ideal settings, the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 does a great job at managing color errors, though it’s better at white balance inside the lab than it is in the real world.

A chart showing the color performance of the Samsung Galaxy Note 9.

Blues, greens, and reds are boosted to make those colors pop — but overall color error is low.

Compared to its closest competitors, this is an impressive result — especially considering the fact that as smartphones have eaten up the point and shoot market, they tend to gravitate towards oversaturated and “tastefully altered” filter profiles. The upside here is that you can alter these images pretty heavily if you enable the RAW capture in the camera settings, and having a camera module that is as accurate as possible helps avoid headaches later on.

Color error (DeltaC00)

Lower is Better

While most camera modules do well in ideal conditions, the Note 9 is neck-and-neck with the Google Pixel 2 XL — widely regarded as one of the best units out there. However, the Pixel tends to oversaturate images to a higher degree than the Note 9. Some people like that, others don’t; but at least with the Note 9 you get to choose.

Color Saturation (Percent)

Lower is Better

The Samsung Galaxy Note 9 does a great job at handling noise, though in low light it does what all smartphone cameras do: aggressively average it out. You can see a few places where it makes the photos look a little blotchy if there wasn’t a ton of light, and that’s a very normal thing for a smartphone camera to do. Compared to its peers, the Note 9’s noise level is a little on the high side, but far, far below what anybody would consider “bad” or even “noticeable.” Really, it’s only when these numbers approach 3% or higher where you’d notice an issue, and many Instagram filters push this level even further to achieve their looks. Noise is not a big worry for the Note 9.

Noise (Percent)

Lower is Better


From the texture to the little groves in material, pixel peepers want to see it all. I have found Samsung is usually pretty average at this, mostly because they focus so much on software enhancements. Photos from its phones are typically colorful, well-exposed, and very often have no noticeable noise. However, this level of post-processing is bound to also bring some noticeable flaws.

The Samsung Galaxy Note 9 is no exception. There are remnants of what seems like plenty of detail, which means the sensor is probably capable of capturing it if the original shots were left alone. The images do give you a grasp of texture and crispness, but only from afar. Zoom in and all those color mixtures lose their feel.

To see this effect, simply zoom in on the first image’s wall, the second image’s sculpting, and the foliage and wood in the other shots. As mentioned above though, these pictures still give off the impression of detail when seen without a looking glass.

Score: 7.5/10

Smartphone cameras are naturally very limited in what they can accomplish in regards to sharpness, so it’s no surprise that there’s all sorts of software magic used on the backend to boost edge detection.

Sharpness (not adjusted)

Higher is Better

At first glance, that chart would imply that the Note 9’s camera is far sharper than the rest of the pack. However, that’s not exactly the case. While the unit is impressive, the camera leans on what’s called “oversharpening” to achieve these results. Essentially, it detects areas that should be the edges of objects in the photo, and increases contrast for a few pixels. This is also similar to how the “clarity” slider in Photoshop works. If it’s under 25%, you may not be able to notice anything happening, but any further than that and you’ll occasionally see artifacts or surreal-looking edges.


Lower is Better

We should mention that software oversharpening isn’t necessarily bad, as it’s sometimes required to make photos look decent when you’re working with certain hardware limitations.


A good landscape shot can capture both the big picture and the small details. It needs to be balanced, because capturing a large area usually means having a plethora of factors to consider. If you weren’t a fan of the details and low dynamic range in the other shots, chances are you won’t be a huge fan of the Samsung Galaxy Note 9’s landscape photography abilities.

Let’s start with the San Diego skyline image, which usually looks amazing at night if you have the right camera to shoot it. Sadly, I don’t feel the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 made the cut here. This was the best of four tries too. I can definitely say many other phones have done better with this scene. The shot is noisy, details in the water have been lost, and zooming in doesn’t reveal much detail from the buildings.

Let’s go back to daylight, where the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 does better. It seems the Samsung Galaxy Note 9’s AI could tell the fourth image was of plants, as you can definitely see the enhancement in the green colors and more vivid sky. We can’t say the same about the third image, though it does look more true to life. The second image is not as striking, but we can see more detail in the water, the boat, and the pier.

Score: 7.5/10

Portrait Mode

In Portrait Mode, the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 tries to recreate the bokeh effect you see in advanced lenses with a shallow depth of field, by using its two lenses to interpret what is in the foreground and background. The software will then attempt to artificially blur out what shouldn’t be in focus.

This is a very cool effect, but a trained eye will very easily find issues. Sometimes the phone will inaccurately outline the subject, other times parts that shouldn’t be blurred out will be (and vice versa). I do have to say I am surprised by Samsung’s ability to get this one right, though.

The first three images outline the subject very well and the blurring out looks natural enough to keep most users happy. I love how the third image shows the blurring by levels. I am in focus, the boat is a little blurred out, then the city in the background is even blurrier.

Since I like testing portrait mode with inanimate objects, I figured this little scooter was the right subject. Though there are a couple small misses, I like what Samsung did here. Once again the blurring has been organized in stages. The further away an object is, the blurrier it gets.

Overall, the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 is very adept at handling Portrait Mode and making the bokeh effect look more realistic. Sure, a couple of the low-light samples missed the white balance and looking closer will reveal some mistakes, but bokeh accuracy was nearly spot on.

Score: 9/10


High dynamic range evenly exposes a frame with multiple levels of light, normally by mixing multiple photos taken at different exposure levels. The end result is an image with reduced highlights, increased shadows, and an even exposure.

Previous photos have proven the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 is not the best at handling dynamic range. Those had HDR in auto, so for these four shots I forced HDR on. Sadly, the results were still not amazing, but the phone did perform better in some instances.

The first and third images didn’t surprise me. Shadows are dark and detail in these areas is lost. There is not much sign of the software even trying to even out exposure across the frame.

I like the photo of the lion sculpture in San Diego’s Zoo though. You can notice the texture in the metal and the detail in the sculpture’s head — impressive considering the sun was right behind it. The same effect can be seen in the second image, which shows plenty of detail in the palm trees, despite our star being in the background. The sky and buildings are also evenly exposed.

The Samsung Galaxy Note 9 did great with some images, but horribly with others. It almost felt like a gamble, which is never a good thing.

Score: 7/10


Instagram foodies rejoice. The Samsung Galaxy Note 9 can take a good food shot, especially with its Scene Optimizer (artificial intelligence). The software will then modify settings to better suit your tasty snacks.

Samsung doesn’t specify what these changes are, but we can tell that sharpness and saturation definitely got bumped up. These images also showed a warmer color, likely thanks to the increase in saturation. White balance looks a bit off thanks to this.

While the first image is way too warm, it’s still nice and a little editing can save it. Zooming into the fries and onion rings reveals plenty of detail, which is nice considering Samsung tends to over-soften shots when it gets a little dark. There is also much to see in the meat, lettuce, and tomato.

Zooming in on the bread also reveals the flour dust and texture very nicely. The meat in the second image looks just like it tasted, and you can really see what’s going on in the shot with the fries and onion rings (right down to the oil).

Samsung seems to have gotten its food mode right, and the AI was smart enough to always turn it on when needed. Hopefully, in the future they can fix the niggling white balance issue.

Score: 9.5/10


It is in low-light situations that phone cameras are really tested. The shooter needs to bump the ISO up, extend the shutter speed without making it too slow (which would create motion blur), and in this case, open the aperture up to its maximum (f/1.5). Even the most capable camera struggles in low light, so smartphones use software to bolster their results.

The Samsung Galaxy Note 9’s images had very little digital noise, which means they have likely been softened with software. Zoom into the photos and you will find this is definitely the case. The concrete looks too smooth, the wood has lost texture, and the stones have also lost detail.

The boat image missed the right white balance, and dynamic range is pretty horrible in the last photo. Overall, the images look pretty good, and the camera really did a good job exposing these shots well. These places were seriously dark (especially the spot in the second photo), and it’s really impressive the Note 9 got the pictures it did.

Furthermore, the things we complained about in this section can only be noticed when really taking a close look at the shot — save for the white balance, of course.

Score: 8.5/10


Just as you can expect, the front-facing camera is not quite as impressive as the rear. It still did a pretty good job during my testing period, though. White balance was always on point, there was plenty of detail, colors were accurate, and images were plenty crisp. You can lose some detail due to beautification, but it makes my smooth porcelain skin look even better.

Score: 8/10


The Samsung Galaxy Note 9’s video recording capabilities are quite impressive. The colors are vibrant, white balance is perfect, everything looks crisp, and I see no signs of ghosting or stuttering.

This bad boy can shoot at a whopping 4K 60fps, which is impressive by most smartphone standards. However, shooting at this setting means losing EIS, which is likely why image stabilization wasn’t exactly the best in this video sample.

You can definitely notice my steps and slight hand shaking, but the OIS is good enough to keep things relatively stable. I tried reducing the resolution and framerate, and though the video was more stable, the difference was not too noticeable.

Regardless, any mode will produce some stunning video. Some competitors have better stabilization, but this is good enough. The Samsung Galaxy Note 9 does amazingly in all other video recording factors.

Score: 9.5/10

4K video sharpness

Higher is Better

The Note 9 definitely struggles a little bit in comparison to the Google Pixel 2 XL, but lab results often look worse than they actually are. The sharpness is on par with the OnePlus 6, after all. Given that the line pairs per picture height (LP/PH) we recorded exceed 1250, you should be reasonably happy with the quality provided by this phone.


Samsung Galaxy Note 9 camera

Overall score: 8.5/10

The Samsung Galaxy Note series has a reputation for great design, unparalleled performance, and great cameras. The Note 9’s camera is definitely up there, but it’s still hard to beat beasts like the Huawei P20 Pro and a couple others. Regardless, an overall 8.5 score is nothing to scoff at.

The camera can almost always produce well-exposed images with the right white balance. Images look very striking thanks to the vibrant hues and high contrast. The camera application received one of our higher camera review scores, thanks to its ample selection of features and modes. We also can’t forget low light capabilities, which are pretty exceptional too.

Overall, the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 offers a great camera with very few downsides. Among these is bad HDR. Though the sensor can grab plenty of detail (as seen in Food Mode), it is often covered up by the extensive processing thrown at images.

In summary, the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 can create great images rivaling its biggest competitors. You will definitely impress most of your friends with awesome photos. It is definitely not the best smartphone camera out there, though your experience likely won’t be affected much by the camera’s downsides.

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Deal: Save 20% on Panasonic’s Sony WH1000xM2 clone Fri, 21 Sep 2018 21:10:37 +0000 Panasonic headphone deal, active noise cancelling over ear headphones for $61 off.

The Panasonic headphone deal includes hi-res active noise canceling headphones which are now available for $61 off, a 20 percent discount. These over-ear wireless headphones provide many of the same features as the Sony WH-1000XM2, including LDAC and aptX HD support.

The headphones feature a 20-hour battery life and require just 15 minutes to quick charge. Similar to the Sony WH-1000XM3 and its predecessor, the Panasonic headphones house 40mm drivers. Additionally, when you invest in the Panasonic headphone deal, you get headphones that can allow ambient noise in simply by covering the right housing with your palm.

There’s no indication regarding the duration of this deal, so now’s the time to try out that new pair of noise-canceling headphones.

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.
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