Google’spop-up stores made it easy for customers to walk in and buy up a Pixel 2 or Pixel 2 XL without having to go directly to a Verizon store. They employed a third-party Verizon retailer, Victra, to handle sales and activations for the Pixel.
As sure as the sunrise that follows after the moon, so is the torture that follows a newly released phone. This time around, it’s the turn of the smaller of Google’s new handsets, the Pixel 2, to face up to the softly spoken serial smartphone mangler, JerryRigEverything. And let me tell you right here, the scenes are borderline graphic.
Announced during the first half of the year, but only recently available for purchase, the Essential Phone is a flagship device with steep price tag though not as high as some other flagship-level smartphones on the market. As a smaller company trying to get a foothold in the market, Essential is not in a position to be able to do things like BOGO offers. If you are interested in the Essential Phone but have not been able to deal with the regular $699 price tag for the unlocked version, some relief is available thanks to a special $100 off deal Best Buy is running at the moment.
Although it may not be a phone you will ever get a chance to buy thanks to being released only in China, HMD Global has officially announced the Nokia 7 smartphone. This mid-range phone is part of HMD Global’s continued resurrection of the Nokia brand and from a business standpoint, being able to offer a device in the large Chinese market is an important step.
Virtual assistants are heading to almost every device we can think of, from refrigerators to headphones, with Google Assistant and Amazon’s Alexa being the main culprits. While Google Assistant is baked into pretty much every Android smartphone today, Amazon’s Alexa has basically made a one-off appearance on Huawei’s Mate 9 and nothing since. That’s about to change, however, with the launch of Motorola’s Smart Speaker Moto Mod that adds Alexa to the Moto Z series of handsets.
Back in June 2016, Amazon started the Prime Exclusive program that offered Prime members select smartphones at a nice discount, but just being a paying member wasn’t enough. The phones came with Amazon’s ads and offers plastered all over the lock screen. For many users, the lock screen is just a speed bump to get into the phone, so who cares if a bunch of ads are rotating around there. For enthusiasts, however, it can be a deal breaker and not worth the discount. The Moto X4, which is ironically also offered as a “pure” Android One phone, is joining the list of Amazon’s “ad phones.”
Google occasionally does pop-up locations in big cities to show off their products and give people a chance to test them out before buying them. The “stores” don’t really sell anything, but the hands-on experience is unique for Google since they don’t really have a physical retail presence in the US like Apple or Microsoft.
According to the latest tip revealed by Evan Blass, Lenovo is planning to add Play branded devices back to their Moto G series during 2018. Currently, we expect Motorola to release both the Moto G6 and the Moto G6 Plus as part of the G series of devices. The Moto G6 Play will be a third option for consumers.
A custom eight-core Image Processing Unit (IPU) is sitting idle inside the new Google Pixel 2 phones, just waiting for Android 8.1 to wake it up. Google already claims that the Pixel 2 cameras are the best on any smartphone, so the fact that a Google-designed SoC will soon dedicate itself to image processing is an exciting prospect. Google says that photos will process faster and more efficiently when the SoC is switched on, making the best camera even better. This isn’t just a software update, but a true hardware addition.
Huawei’s Mate 10 launched on Monday sporting a new EMUI 8 custom interface running atop of Android 8Oreo and boasting AI assisted photography. Owners of last year’s Mate 9 handset needn’t feel left out though because the Chinese handset maker is in the process of rolling an Android Oreo beta program for the device. The beta program is open for Mate 9 users in the UK and the rest of Europe, and it’s best to sign up soon because the shutoff date to test the Oreo beta firmware is October 19th, as in tomorrow. Join us after the break for more details.
Following the texting bug that hit Samsung Galaxy S8 phones a week ago, many Pixel phones are unable to receive text messages after the official Android 8.0 Oreo update. Outgoing texts seem unaffected, but incoming messages just aren’t happening. Google is aware of the issue and actively working on a solution.
ZTE has announced the Axon M in partnership with AT&T, which might just be the weirdest device you’ll see this year. It’s a folding style phone with pretty standard hardware, but it’s also a flagship ZTE phone on a major US carrier, which is a big deal on its own.
With 4G coverage being available pretty wherever we go these days, Qualcomm is one of the companies working hard to crack 5G, the next generation data connection. Back at MWC in February, Qualcomm was showing off a 5G modem that was around the same size as a standard motherboard for a desktop computer. Today, the chip manufacturer has announced it has managed to achieve a 5G data connection on its Snapdragon X50 5G mobile modem chipset.
Now that the Google Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL phones are official, the “Now Playing” feature has gotten a lot of attention. Music playing in the background is automatically detected and identified on your lock screen. It basically takes Shazam to the next level. Google claims that the feature can work offline and won’t send anything to the cloud, which is a sensitive topic after the Google Home Mini’s “spying” issue came to light. Most importantly, the “Now Playing” feature won’t drain your battery as it utilizes a proven technology, AmbientSense.
Huawei has taken the wraps off the Mate 10 and Mate 10 Pro, unveiling a phone with a deep focus on artificial intelligence and excellent photography. Sure, that seems to be the trend in 2017 anyway, but Huawei went all in on these devices.