Huawei told CNET that a disclaimer at the end of the video outlines the images and content shown ‘are for reference only.’
The Arabic text translates to: ‘Product characteristics and actual specifications may vary (including but not limited to appearance, color, size), as well as actual presentation contents (including but not limited to backgrounds, user interface, and controls).’
‘s transformation into a media company isn’t going to be easy.
The telecom provider, which has placed big bets in media with its acquisition of DirecTV and Time Warner, posted a mixed bag in its third-quarter results, with a strong showing from its rebranded WarnerMedia segment but also a loss of traditional television customers.
WarnerMedia saw revenue rise 6.5 percent to $8.2 billion, helped by HBO’s rising subscription revenue and the success of Crazy Rich Asians. But the company saw a net decline of 346,000 customers in traditional video, despite a gain of 49,000 customers in its DirecTV Now streaming service.
On the core wireless side, AT&T boasted that it added 3.4 million accounts in the US, but that was mostly driven by connected devices like cars and the Apple Watch, and a gain of 481,000 prepaid phone customers. It added 69,000 postpaid phone customers, or people who pay their bills at the end of the month and generally boast higher credit scores.
The wide range of results is part of the new status quo for AT&T, which is undergoing a transformation from a purely telecom company into a media powerhouse. The company is betting heavily on the move to streaming services, having offered two options — DirecTV Now and AT&T Watch — on top of the various streaming services tied directly to core properties like HBO. AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson said he plans to launch another one next year.
AT&T is eager to talk about its media properties as competition in its core wireless business continues to be fierce. The company has been among the big losers as T-Mobile and Sprint have mounted their comebacks, picking customers away from the bigger players.
In Mexico, AT&T added 907,000 wireless subscribers to bring its base up to 17.3 million, with revenue rising 2.6 percent over a year ago.
Its media and advertising business, which last month was rebranded Xandr (a reference to Alexander Graham Bell), saw revenue rise 33.6 percent over a year ago.
The company posted a third-quarter profit of $4.72 billion, or 65 cents a share, compared with a year-earlier gain of $3.12 billion, or 49 cents a share, when Time Warner wasn’t a part of the company yet.
Excluding one-time charges, the company earned 90 cents a share, while revenue rose 15.3 percent to $45.74 billion.
Analysts expected AT&T to earn 94 cents a share on revenue of $45.65 billion, according to Yahoo Finance.
AT&T shares fell 2.3 percent to $32.27 in premarket trading.
Speaking in his native Mandarin, OnePlus‘ founder and CEO Pete Lau exudes a reserved persona, despite being only weeks away from unveiling the OnePlus 6T phone. Compared to the company’s other founder, Carl Pei, Lau carries himself more formally. Though the two look unassuming in their own ways, Pei is often seen wearing cotton tees and clapping back on Twitter about free phone handouts and false productrumors. Meanwhile Lau, who is 14 years Pei’s senior, mostly tweets about OnePlus industry news.
It’s this calm demeanor that betrays his nervousness inside — something you wouldn’t notice until Lau explicitly mentioned it when asked about the launch.
‘My feelings are, to best summarize, complex,’ said Lau through an interpreter. ‘It’s a mix of both excitement and anxiety.’ Donning a black button-up and bespeckled navy blazer, he goes on to compare his feelings to when your own child is about to be born.
Though the OnePlus 6T isn’t out yet, we already know a fair bit about the upcoming phone. And unlike the previous years of ‘T-devices’ (which are seen as half-step updates to the counterpart phones before it, like the OnePlus 3T over the 3), the OnePlus 6T is shaping up to be dramatically different than its OnePlus 6 predecessor.
Add on the fact that OnePlus is launching in October — a month earlier than usual — and it’s easy to understand why Lau’s feeling eager.
Goodbye to the headphone jack
Lau plays a hands-on role in the development of OnePlus’s products. He’s an engineer at heart, having worked at the Chinese device maker Oppo for 15 years. (Oppo and OnePlus share the same parent company, BBK Electronics.)
But as the CEO of OnePlus since founding it in 2013, he sees himself as the product manager of all product managers at the company. He knows he has to make the tough calls. That includes following a trend popularized first by Apple and later Google in lopping off the headphone jack on the 6T.
‘This has been one of the most difficult decisions for us to make,’ said Lau. ‘The most difficult task in the day-to-day is… finding a balance in what’s ultimately going to be part of the end product and what has to be said ‘No’ to.’
One of the reasons OnePlus cut the headphone jack was to make room for the in-screen fingerprint sensor, which the company brands as Screen Unlock. By replacing the physical sensor on the back of the phone to under the screen, the fingerprint reader takes up essential space inside, near the bottom of the phone.
It’s also banking on its customers’ use of Bluetooth headphones. After conducting a user survey, it found that 59 percent of respondents already used wireless headphones to listen to music and place calls. And for the first time since June 2016, sales of Bluetooth headphones overtook non-Bluetooth headphones in the US, according to analyst firm NPD.
‘Consumers miss the 3.5mm jack when they’re gone,’ said GlobalData research director Avi Greengart, ‘but Apple has shown that having them is not a primary purchase driver.’
By releasing its own Bluetooth earbuds earlier this year called Bullets Wireless, OnePlus set the stage for shifting 6T owners over to wireless headphones. So far, things are looking good — within minutes, Bullets Wireless sold out in some regions.
Still, Lau knows that the move will be controversial, especially since plenty of people still use wired headphones. Wired headphones give you more options to shop from, they’re cheaper, they don’t require a charge and they don’t run into connectivity issues. Last year, a Yahoo Finance survey reported that 73 percent of Android users said they wouldn’t switch to an iPhone because of its lack of a headphone port. It also didn’t help that Carl Pei conducted casual Twitter polls to show how much OnePlus listened to user feedback. Most of his respondents preferred to keep the headphone jack.
To those who are upset that the OnePlus 6T won’t have a jack, Lau believes the tradeoffs are worth it. ‘After you experience the Screen Unlock you’ll fall in love with it,’ he said. ‘[You’ll] realize that it’s the experience that you wanted.’
But soon, users in the US and elsewhere will have the feature on the OnePlus 6T — edging out both Apple and Samsung who are both rumored to include this technology in their future phones.
In addition to streamlining the OnePlus 6T’s design, FOD eliminates the need to pick up the phone to unlock the screen.
‘We unlock our phones multiple times a day, and Screen Unlock reduces the number of steps to complete the action,’ said a OnePlus engineer in a prior interview with CNET. ‘By adding this feature as an addition to other display unlocking options such as Face Unlock, users will have options to unlock the display in a way that is most efficient for them.’
Despite being known as ‘in-screen fingerprint readers’ the technology is actually embedded underneath displays. When you touch the designated area of the screen with your finger, a sensor array turns on the display to light your finger. Your fingerprint is then read by an optical image sensor and an AI processor. If the print matches, the screen unlocks.
Originally, last year’s OnePlus 5T was supposed to have FOD. But it didn’t work as fast or as efficiently as the company wanted, and the feature was delayed until the 6T. Along with OnePlus’ implementation, Lau believes the phone industry will continue in this direction, similar to how onscreen notches caught on within a few years.
There are a few downsides to this fad though. Not only did OnePlus eliminate 6T’s headphone jack because of the FOD, it also made the phone 0.45mm thicker. The feature also bumped up the overall cost of the phone. There’s no official price out yet, but earlier reports tentatively put it at $550 — or $21 more than the OnePlus 6.
‘Screen Unlock technology is something very new and there’s a definite cost required for that new technology,’ said Lau. ‘It’s not cheap.’
OnePlus’ future: Wireless charging and water resistance
Since it launched the first OnePlus One in 2014, OnePlus was known for offering phones with premium specs at a wallet-friendly price. But the company is dealing with the dilemma of serving up similar features that iPhones and Galaxy S-devices offer, while keeping prices low. And compared to other brands, OnePlus has one of the highest increases in cost from model to model (the expected $21 price increase of the 6T is yet another addition to the steady climb of prices).
Meanwhile, rival companies are incorporating cutting-edge technology into their phones at a neck breaking pace. Apple, Samsung and LG for instance, have phones with wireless charging.
But OnePlus’ signature fast-charging technology, known as Dash Charging, is a fan-favorite feature. In order for OnePlus to release a phone with wireless charging, the device would have to charge as quickly as what users are accustomed to with Dash Charging. That means the phone would have to be thicker and it would conduct a lot of heat.
‘We’re working hard on this,’ said Lau. ‘When we get to the day that the wireless charging can get up to speed without the implication of heat that we expect, then I believe we can integrate the technology.’
Many competitors, including Google, also certify their phones with an IP rating for water resistance.
But to Lau — who says the OnePlus 6T is more water resistant than any of its predecessors and can survive an accidental drop in the sink or a splash during a rainstorm — the cost to go through official IP certification just isn’t worth it.
‘The number of users that are taking their phone to go swimming are few and far between,’ said Lau. To have everyone else pay, say, $30 more, ‘for the sake of an IP rating’ in order to accommodate the one user who goes off and swims with their phone is ‘unreasonable,’ according to Lau.
OnePlus 6T pricing
Incorporating these new features, which Lau isn’t necessarily ruling out, all goes back to increasing prices. Though he insists that prices don’t dictate the end product, and that giving people the latest and greatest in tech is the company’s main priority, it’s clear that OnePlus would lose its luster as the scrappy darling of the Android phone world if its prices were on par with its rivals.
‘As flagship phones from Apple, Samsung and Huawei are all topping the $1,000 price point,’ said Greengart, ‘OnePlus has a real opportunity to package leading edge technology at a lower price point.’
For now, OnePlus is still mainly an internet-centric, direct-to-consumers online retailer, which helps keep costs low. In addition, a possible $550 price tag would still put it at around $100 to $450 cheaper than the iPhone XS, the Galaxy Note 9 and the Pixel 2.
Lau also doesn’t appear too worried about any outcry over the OnePlus 6T’s price either. He’s more jazzed about users’ reactions to the fingerprint scanner. And while he’s no stranger to public events, his products launches are still cause for anxiety.
‘The most difficult thing right now,’ said Lau, ‘is that the teams are expecting [me] to memorize English.’
Android is a decade old and so is the first Android phone, the T-Mobile G1. Also called the HTC Dream, the G1 entered a mobile world much more crowded than it is now. People still used flip phones, the iPhone was just beginning its ascent, and powerful companies like BlackBerry, Palm and Microsoft were jockeying to keep our attention. It was a different time.
The G1 was a fascinating, strange and wonderful phone — rough around the edges, but full of promise. Just as I did with the original iPhone’s tenth birthday, I’m using the Androidiversary to review CNET’s original G1 review. Read on for the excerpts (in italics) from that original review, written by former CNETers Bonnie Cha and Nicole Lee. I follow with my thoughts on what we got right and what we got wrong.
Originally published: Oct. 16, 2008
The Dream has probably stirred up as much anticipation and hype as the Apple iPhone, not only because it would be the first smartphone to run Google’s mobile platform but also because of its potential to overtake Apple’s darling.
OK, I admit that we did hedge a bit here. The G1 arrived with iPhone-like hype — a type of frenzy that we don’t see for any phone today — but it was difficult to really foresee in 2008 just how huge Android would become. The G1 arrived at only one carrier — the smallest of the big four — and as Roger Cheng writes in his look back at 10 years of Android, its birth was a little, well, messy. But overtake Apple’s darling it did. Today, Android runs more than 85 percent of the world’s phones. For many of us, it’s an Apple-Android world.
We certainly wouldn’t call it sexy. Instead, the words ‘interesting’ and ‘weird’ come to mind, mostly because the bottom section of the phone juts out at a slight angle. In a battle of pure looks, the iPhone would win hands down.
We (or I, at least) still wouldn’t call the G1 sexy. At this point, I’d only call it ‘weird’ and I’d still name the first iPhone as the prettiest. The ‘chin’ got in the way when you were typing, and the G1 looked, and felt, like at a brick — all at a time when phone design was actually interesting. Even CNET’s David Katzmaier, who bought the G1 and loved it, called it ugly. That said, I’m still glad HTC didn’t design the G1 like a BlackBerry. We all have to start somewhere, and far lovelier Android phones were to come.
There’s a good reason for G1’s larger size: a full Qwerty keyboard. There are a number of users who are reluctant to switch to a full touchscreen smartphone because of the lack of a tactile keyboard.
Touchscreens were a thing in 2008, but with BlackBerry still a major player at the time, most ‘smartphones’ (we hardly even use that term anymore) had real keyboards. What’s more, most touchscreens that did exist were terrible, including BlackBerry’s first touchscreen phone, the Storm.
If you were accustomed to using to a real keyboard, making the switch to a touchscreen-only life was difficult, and many people with well-honed BlackBerry thumbs held out until the bitter end. But the second Android phone, the Google Ion/T-Mobile MyTouch 3G, ditched physical keyboard and later Androids (with a few exceptions) fell in line.
The actual display measures 3.2 inches diagonally. It’s vibrant and sharp, and like the iPhone and BlackBerry Storm, the touchscreen is capacitive, so it will only respond to the touch of your finger and not your fingernail or other objects like a stylus.
Here’s another word we don’t use anymore: capacitive. Why? All the phone displays we use today are capacitive, meaning the screen works by sensing small charge of electricity energy from your finger. Ten years ago, though, some phone displays were resistive. They required you to actually press down to register your touch, like Apple’s 3D Touch today. Since capacitive displays were easier to use, they eventually won out.
The T-Mobile G1’s interface is generally clean, fun and easy to use, and we like that you can customize the Home screen with your favorite apps easily. We would even say that the touchscreen’s responsiveness is on a par with that on the iPhone’s. But the phone’s overall interface isn’t as intuitive.
Android is much cleaner now than it was when it first debuted. Now, which OS is ‘best’ depends only on your personal preference. But transport me back to 2008 and I’d still prefer iOS. Of course, one of the G1’s big advantages was that you could customize the home screen from the very beginning and in a way that was far better easier to use than Windows Mobile. The iPhone only let you tweak the home screen with later iOS updates.
On the bottom of the unit is a mini USB port where you connect the power charger. Sadly, this is also your only option for connecting a headset, as there’s no dedicated headphone jack, 3.5mm or otherwise. If you want the privilege of using your own headphones, you’ll have to spend extra money to buy an adapter.
This is another area where the G1 Was ahead of its time, but not in a good way. Being forced to buy an headphones adapter was annoying and unusual in 2008. Now, it’s only annoying.
The quad-band G1 offers speakerphone, voice dialing, conference calling and speed dial. There’s no support for visual voicemail.
The iPhone had visual voicemail from the start, but Android gained it before too long. Every phone nowadays has multiple bands, a speakerphone, voice dialing and the other features we listed, but that wasn’t the case 10 years ago.
As with the iPhone 3G, there’s no love for stereo Bluetooth or tethering, so you can’t use it as a modem for your laptop. The latter is a lesser issue for us, but if we can’t get a 3.5mm headphone jack, we’d at least like stereo Bluetooth support.
Stereo Bluetooth had existed since 2004, but most phones were slow to adopt it. The feature arrive with the Android 1.5 Cupcake update in 2009 and iPhone users had to wait until iOS 3 the same year. In retrospect, no Bluetooth tethering wasn’t that outrageous (it’s cute that we expected the iPhone to ever get it).
You can pan across the screen with your finger, and though you can’t zoom in by pinching as you can on the iPhone, you can bring up onscreen zoom controls at the bottom of the display. Similar to the iPhone, you can also double-tap on a Web page to zoom in on a particular section.
Sure, double-tapping is nice and all, but pinch-and-zoom was a serious omission on the G1. Android wouldn’t get that ability until a few months later.
Of course, you’re not limited to the touchscreen when navigating the browser. In fact, we preferred the trackball for scrolling around pages.
I love trackballs — I grew up playing Centipede in arcades — and I was fond of the tiny trackball on the G1. You didn’t need it, and there’s certainly no use for one on a phone now, but it was fun.
There are a few hiccups with the G1 browser that keep it from being a totally seamless experience, however. Even though we like having the physical Qwerty keyboard, an onscreen keyboard would make entering text while holding the phone vertically much more convenient.
Because it was more comfortable to browse on the G1 with the screen closed, It was irritating to constantly to open it again each time you wanted to type. A virtual keyboard would arrive with an Android update the next year.
Since the Android Market is so new, it’s hard to compare its available applications to those on the App Store, but it shows serious promise.
Whether the Android Market was better than the iTunes App Store, which had launched only three months before, was beside the point. What really mattered was that Android had an app ecosystem from birth. Even then it was clear that apps would come to define how we used our phones. Bravo, Android.
Downloading applications was a breeze on both Wi-Fi and over T-Mobile’s 3G network — we didn’t have a chance to download them over GPRS.
Like with all of the major carriers, T-Mobile’s 3G network wasn’t terribly robust or widespread at this point. Though the carrier had introduced its first 3G-capable phone, the Samsung SGH-T639, in October, 2007, it had only activated its 3G network earlier in 2008.
To our delight, you get copy-and-paste capabilities, and there’s an attachment viewer to open Word, Excel, PowerPoint and PDF documents. But note, you can’t edit said files (the iPhone is also view-only).
Android beat iOS to a few features, most notably copy-and-paste and multimedia messaging (iPhone users caught up on both with iOS 3). For editing Microsoft Office docs, there would be apps in the Android Market.
We especially like that you can instantly convert any song to a ringtone directly from the music player.
The song-as-ringtone feature was fantastic — it’s still far easier to do that on Android than on the iPhone.
The microSD card slot can support up to 8GB cards.
The microSD card was another advantage the G1 (and Android) had over the iPhone, and advantage that’s still true today. As a fun fact, the Galaxy Note 9 can take 512GB memory cards.
The 3.2-megapixel camera beats the iPhone’s 2-megapixel camera, but you can’t record video. Worse, there are no camera settings, such as white balance, effects and shooting modes.
The G1 beat the 2-megapixel camera on both the original iPhone and the iPhone 3G. The missing video recording and editing features was disappointing, but Android would later get those features. To show you how far things have come, the Galaxy Note 9 has two(!) 12-megapixel cameras.
The G1 doesn’t quite offer the mass appeal and ease of use of the iPhone, so it won’t be a good fit for someone making the jump from a regular mobile to their first smartphone. Power business users also might want to hold off until more corporate support and productivity applications are added. We’d say the T-Mobile G1 is best-suited for early adopters and gadget hounds who love tinkering around and modding their devices.
I’d still say we were correct here. The G1 felt like an experiment, appealing to people that wanted to deeply change and perfect their phones or those that just didn’t want an iPhone. Fortunately, it didn’t take long for Android to win over more people, worker bees and smartphone newbies included.
But they don’t contain many surprises. In the handful of new photos shown below, we see what looks like the standard-size Galaxy S10 and the larger Galaxy S10 Plus. The photos show phones with very slim bezels, a front-facing ‘Infinity-O’ hole punch camera and, on the larger phone, an elongated pill-shaped cutout that accommodates two lenses.
In the weeks before a new phone is introduced, case and accessory makers often get access to the device’s final dimensions. With these, they’re able to create ‘dummy’ phones that look like the finished product, and which may even have some limited electronic capabilities. We are now squarely in that period for the Galaxy S10. Here a handful of images that have appeared online over the past few hours:
Verizon’s 5G is calling a mulligan. Last month, CNET editor Jessica Dolcourt traveled to Chicago to experience first-hand what the carrier’s new 5G network was like. It wasn’t as fast or reliable as expected, but when she tested it out again this week, data speeds blew past 1Gbps.
While the network isn’t quite ready for a nationwide rollout, it’s understandable why it wants to get a jump on 5G. 5G is the latest generation of cellular tech that will connect users to a super-fast mobile network, and carriers are fighting to get there first. In April, Sprint and AT&T reached a settlement after Sprint sued AT&T for displaying ‘5G E’ connectivity on some of its phones, including iPhones. This is despite the fact that its network technology remains unchanged from 4G.
More 5G deployment will take place throughout this year and next. Carriers in the US and around the globe are laying the necessary infrastructure to roll out a faster and more expansive wireless network. In Britain, for example, Vodafone said it will launch its network in July and the government is allowing Huawei access to set up the country’s 5G infrastructure.
Many industries will benefit from faster connectivity — self-driving cars, drones and the internet of things, to name a few — but most people will likely experience the benefits of a robust 5G network only through a 5G-enabled phone. After all, the grand promises carriers and chip-makers are making with 5G coverage don’t mean much if you can’t access the network with your own device.
Since the beginning of this year, many phone-makers unveiled their upcoming 5G phones. To help you keep tabs on when we can expect 5G phones — with real 5G connectivity — here’s what the major phone-makers have announced, and what they haven’t announced, about their 5G phone plans so far.
Apple’s in no rush to launch a 5G iPhone and it’s likely you won’t see one until 2025. There are a couple of reasons for this. First, Apple usually isn’t the first in on mobile trends, preferring instead to perfect an emerging technology before committing to it. For example, it was behind its competitors in making phones with 3G and 4G LTE connectivity when those networks just launched.
Second, Apple stopped working with the leading 5G modem provider, Qualcomm, because of a dispute over Qualcomm’s licensing fees. The two companies settled their litigation in April, and then agreed to a multiyear 5G chip deal. This lead to Apple’s previous partner of 5G modems, Intel, to ultimately exit the 5G phone modem business altogether.
Despite all these legal issues, that doesn’t mean Apple is totally ignoring 5G. As mentioned before, some iPhone models on AT&T are displaying the misleading ‘5G E’ symbol on its network.
Apple did not respond for a request to comment.
Verizon has now begun selling the Galaxy S10 5G. Priced at $1,300 and originally unveiled during Unpacked, it has a 6.7-inch display, four rear cameras and the ability to wirelessly charge other devices. After this launch with Verizon, it will then head to AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile.
Interested buyers will have to be on Verizon’s Above or Beyond unlimited plans to access 5G on phones. But the company said it will waive its $10 5G add-on fee for a ‘limited time’ for those users who buy a 5G phone, including those purchasing the S10 5G.
The Galaxy S10 5G won’t be the only 5G phone from Samsung. Its foldable Galaxy Fold will have a 5G variant too, however that phone’s launch has been delayed due to reported screen issues that the company said it recently solved. And AT&T announced it will carry additional Samsung 5G phones by the second half of 2019 (no word yet on the specific devices though).
Google hasn’t revealed its plans for 5G, and the company declined to reply to a request to comment. What we do know is that Verizon is continuing its plans to roll out its 5G network in early 2019, similar to other carriers.
What does that have to do with Google exactly? For the past few years, Google has tapped Verizon as its exclusive carrier partner for its Pixel phones, including its last flagship, the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL (However, Google also sells the phone unlocked or on its Wi-Fi-first network, Google Fi. Its most recent mid-range phone, the Pixel 3A and Pixel 3A XL, are also now available from other carriers.)
This could mean that Google’s next flagship, presumably called the Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL, could be a 5G phone. If it sticks with its usual phone launch schedule, the Pixel 4 would debut around October 2019 — well after the first half of the year.
Announced at MWC this year, the LG V50 ThinQ 5G will be available to Sprint users on May 31 for $1,152. The carrier didn’t release an official date for its 5G roll out, but it did say that it will turn on 5G for Atlanta, Dallas and Kansas City in May. It’ll also flip the switch for a handful of other cities afterwards, in the first half of 2019. (FYI, Sprint is also expected to merge with T-Mobile soon, a move that carrier speed analyst Ookla said ‘could result in an unmatched network in the face of 5G.’)
The V50 will also be Sprint’s first 5G phone but it will also be made available on Verizon’s 5G Ultra Wideband network, T-Mobile and AT&T later in the year. The phone features a 6.4-inch OLED display, three rear cameras that include a wide-angle and telephoto lens, the Snapdragon 855 chipset and two front-facing cameras. It can also attach to a Dual Screen accessory that increases the phone’s display size.
Last August, Lenovo unveiled the Motorola Moto Z3, a phone that has 5G — kind of. It only connects to 5G with a Moto Mod modular accessory, which attaches to the back of the phone using magnetic pins. With the Mod, Motorola says the phone will deliver data 10 times faster than other 4G LTE devices.
When we first tested Verizon’s 5G network with the phone and Mod in April, Dolcourt noticed ‘theoretical download speeds kissing 600Mbps.’ But other times, ‘The download would start strong, the phone would flicker to show the 4G logo, and speeds would plummet.’ The Mod is onsale now for $200 (the full retail price is $350). More recently, supposed leaked images of the phone’s successor, the Moto Z4, were posted onlin. No word yet on its 5G status.
As for a Motorola phone that wouldn’t need an accessory to connect to 5G, the company is working on making such a device, but you’ll have to wait much longer. Doug Michau, Motorola Mobility’s director of technical sales and operations, said that phone would come much later than early 2019. More specifically, Michau said it would launch in ‘definitely less than three years, but no time frame yet.’
Chinese phone maker has two 5G phones waiting in the wings. One is the Mate X, which combines 5G speeds and a foldable display. The device has a 6.6-inch display when folded closed, and and 8-inch OLED screen when you flip it open. It also features a 4,500-mAh battery and three rear cameras. The Mate X is scheduled to launch in the middle of the year and will cost a whopping 2,300 euros (about $2,600).
Its second phone is the Mate 20 X 5G. Available in the UK in June for £999 (or about $1,279 in the US and AU$1,856 in Australia), the device has a huge 7.2-inch displa, a 4,200mAh battery and a triple rear-camera setup. EE, Vodafone, Three and O2 will carry the Mate 20 X 5G.
Don’t expect these phones to come to the US, though. Calling it a security threat to the Department of Defense, the US government banned the sale of Huawei phones on US military bases. In May, an executive order put limits on foreign involvement in the US’ carrier networks, which Huawei said will leave the US behind in 5G. Retail giant Best Buy also stopped selling Huawei products in March 2018 and Huawei’s CFO was arrested in Canada at the request of the US in an act her father said was politically motivated. Italy also wants to ban the company from supplying 5G equipment.
That doesn’t necessarily spell the end of Huawei and its 5G ambitions, though. ‘Our products and solutions are used by major carriers, Fortune 500 companies and hundreds of millions of consumers in more than 170 countries around the world,’ a Huawei spokesman said last March. ‘We have earned the trust of our partners across the global value chain.’
OnePlus’ latest phone, the OnePlus 7 Pro has a 5G variant that will sell on the UK carrier EE’s 5G network. Though the company didn’t release official pricing or availability, OnePlus did say it was ‘coming soon,’ and the regular OnePlus 7 Pro starts at $669, and £649 (or AU$962 in Australia). EE’s 5G deployment will also span 16 cities in 2019, starting with London, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Belfast, Birmingham and Manchester.
The OnePlus 7 Pro features a 6.67-inch, 90Hz display, a pop-up selfie camera and three rear cameras. In the US the phone is available through T-Mobile, but unlocked models work on AT&T and Verizon.
Though Nokia isn’t the phone giant that it was 15 years ago, it’s still taking steps toward a 5G future. It’s currently working with Qualcomm to make 5G devices and in July, the company announced a $3.5 billion partnership with T-Mobile, which includes taking advantage of T-Mobile’s 600MHz spectrum to back its 5G network.
But don’t expect 5G Nokia phones anytime soon; in February HMD CEO Florian Seiche (who makes Nokia phones) said those devices probably won’t arrive until 2020. Nokia also stands to benefit from 5G in other ways though. In addition to Qualcomm and Ericsson, the company has patent rights to 5G technology, and stands to make up to $3.50 for every 5G smartphone sold.
Taiwanese electronics company HTC also had something 5G-related to show off at MWC. Instead of a phone, though, it was a 5G hotspot. Available on Sprint for $600, the hub connects up to 20 people simultaneously. Equipped with a 5-inch display, audio speakers and Android Pie software, the device is also a media hub that users can make video calls with or use to check mail. The HTC 5G Hub hotspot ships out May 31.
ZTE’s latest phone, the Axon 10 Pro 5G, will launch in June, but a 4G version of the phone is already available in Germany for 599 euro ($671, £520, AU$967). It’s equipped with a Snapdragon 855 processor and has a fingerprint scanner embedded in its screen. On the back are three cameras that have AI capabilities, including scene recognition. The rear setup includes a wide-angle camera, a standard lens and a third telephoto camera. For your selfie shots, the front of the phone has a 20-megapixel camera.
In February ZTE said it was aiming to have 5G phones off the ground in either late 2018 or early 2019, but followed that up with a ‘late 2019‘ prediction. Currently, ZTE is working with eight international carriers to roll out 5G testing. While the future of ZTE in the US is up in the air due to a recent (now lifted) ban on its phones because the company violated trade sanctions, the Axon 10 Pro will at least be available in the first half of this year in Europe and China.
Chinese phone-maker Xiaomi remixed its Mi Mix 3 with a new 5G model. Aptly named Mi Mix 3 5G, the phone costs 599 euros (about $679) and will launch on May 23. It’s unlikely that the phone will be available in the US. The company’s initial 5G network partners include many European carriers, including Orange, Sunrise, Telefonica, Three, TIM and Vodafone — the last of which will exclusively carry the Mi Mix 3 5G first.
The phone itself features 6.39-inch AMOLED display, a Snapdragon 845 processor and dual 12-megapixel rear cameras. Calling it ‘almost the perfect phone,’ CNET editor Aloysius Low also mentioned that it’s neither water resistant nor do its front-facing cameras have secure 3D face unlocking.
After showing off a prototype at MWC, OnePlus’ sister company Oppo finally debuted its trio of Oppo Reno phones in Shanghai. One of the phones includes a 5G model and will be available on the UK carrier EE. The device features a 6.6-inch screen, a Snapdragon 855 chipset and a pop-up selfie camera.
Though it’s unlikely to come to the US, the 5G version is scheduled for release some time between April and June. In addition to EE, Oppo is working with four other carriers (Swisscom, Australia’s Telstra and Optus, as well as Singtel in Singapore) to launch the phone. It’s also partnering with China Mobile to sell the phone later this summer.
Phones are not getting any cheaper. You can spend upwards of $1,000 for something like the iPhone XS or Galaxy Note 9. So to protect your investment from accidental drops, bumps or scratches, you really need a case.
Each brought a brand new iPhone XR and their toughest case to face our challenge: dropping them from various heights onto a hard surface covered in paving tiles. We also had a special force test involving a ball bearing just in case we had a tie on our hands (like we did in 2018’s drop test with our three-way tie).
We only allowed screen protectors to be used on the phones if they were included in the retail packaging with the case.
We started off the first round dropping phones from 6 feet (1.8 meters). That’s afoot more than the height at which the iPhone XR cracked without a case in our earlier drop test, so we thought it was a good place to start.
Each case was dropped screen side down onto the tiles. These were the results:
After each drop, we assessed the phones. If there were any cracks on the back, or damage to the screen and camera, the case would be disqualified. But all of the phones survived our first round without any scratches.
This time, we took them to 10 feet. Vanessa hopped up on the scissor lift and made her way up to the set height.
iPhone XR cases, round 2
Classic (bike mount)
Again, we inspected each phone after each drop and there was no damage to any of the phones.
Originally, we had planned to take the phones to 15 feet. But in the interests of time, we decided to go straight to the last round. Vanessa took the 10 phones all the way to the roof, which was approximately 19 feet.
iPhone XR cases, round 3
Classic (bike mount)
All the phones survived from our highest limit, even if some weren’t rated for that extreme height. We genuinely didn’t expect all the cases to survive this last drop height. Seeing as we couldn’t raise the roof any higher, we had to take it to the next level.
Enter the force test. We had a long length of plastic tubing standing by with a 2.5-pound steel ball bearing that was going to help break the tie — literally.
Rather than dropping the ball directly onto the screen which would definitely break the phone, we flipped them over and let the case take the impact of the ball. This meant the screen was face down on the paving tile.
We dropped the ball bearing from 4 feet, down the tube onto the backs of the phones. Here’s what happened.
iPhone XR cases, bonus round
Pixel damage from ball impact
Classic (bike mount)
Screen protector damaged, but phone worked fine
Here’s the caveat: the paving tile cracked from the impact from the first ball bearing drop. Each subsequent ball drop caused the tile to crack a little more. We know this was less than ideal and may have given an advantage to the first phones on the surface, but we weren’t able to swap it out.
Also bear in mind this was far from a scientific test and definitely not a real world situation!
With six phones remaining and our time well and truly running out, we went straight to the top of the cannonball tube to determine a winner. We dropped the ball bearing from 16 feet onto the phones.
iPhone XR cases, tiebreaker
Screen protector damaged, pixels damaged from impact but phone still intact
Classic (bike mount)
Cracked screen, dented
Cracked screen, dented
Cracked screen, dented
Cracked screen, dented
All the phones were damaged from this final ball drop.
To determine a winner, we decided to choose the phone that was least damaged overall, and that was the Zizo case. But in our eyes, all the phones were winners having survived the initial 20-foot drop.
Watch the entire event unfold in the video on this page to see all the damage and the crowd reactions. Plus, you can also watch the drop test on YouTube.
If you didn’t see your favorite case manufacturer in our drop test, encourage them to enter next year’s competition!
HTC just debuted the brilliantly colored flame-red model of its U12 Plus phone. It’s a bright pinkish-red with yellow- and violet-hued highlights that shift with the light.
It’s slated to ship in September, but you can preorder it now directly from HTC for the standard $800 off-contract price. It’s available in the US and Canada, at least for the moment.
We had mixed feelings when we reviewed this phone a couple months ago. It’s fast and water resistant, but the battery life isn’t great for its size and the side-squeeze button trick gets old pretty quickly.
I’ve done my fair share of drop tests in my time at CNET, and I’ve never come out of one without a broken phone. Until now. The iPhone XS didn’t crack.
I took Apple’s new iPhone XS through my typical four-drop tests, the same one that cracked last year’s iPhone X on the first fall. But while the new iPhone XS looks a lot like last year’s X, with a stainless steel frame and glass on either side, this time it may just be that glass that sets the iPhone XS apart — and above.
At last week’s launch, Phil Schiller, Apple’s marketing chief, said the iPhone XS is ‘covered on the front and the back with a new formulation of glass that is the most durable glass ever in a smartphone.’
This isn’t the first time we’ve heard this from Apple. In fact, Apple also said that last year’s 2017 iPhone lineup had ‘the most durable glass ever built into a smartphone,’ and you know what happened to our iPhone X.
I subjected a brand-new gold iPhone XS to a series of drops on the cement sidewalk outside of CNET’s San Francisco headquarters, the place where many of our phones have met their doom.
To be clear, these tests aren’t scientific, but they are real-world demonstrations of what could happen when your phone takes a tumble. The results tend to vary from drop to drop. And yes, I still plan to see just how much abuse this iPhone XS can take before it finally cracks.
Drop 1: Pocket height (3 feet), screen side down
I started off with a drop from pocket height, or about 3 feet (90 cm). This is a natural height from which people tend to drop their phones. This is also the same impact that cracked last year’s iPhone X.
I wanted to test the most important part of the phone first, so I dropped it screen-side down. The top edge of the screen broke the fall, then the XS bounced on the bottom edge and did a little flip in the air before landing again, this time completely face down.
Our iPhone XS looked intact upon first inspection, save for a few scuffs on the metal frame. But upon closer inspection, I noticed that most of the ‘damage’ was cement debris that just rubbed right off. The glass on the edge of the screen near the top left-hand corner had a tiny dent, but it was barely noticeable, and there were no cracks on either side.
Considering last year’s iPhone X had already cracked at this point, I would say it’s already a win for our iPhone XS — up to now. But the testing continued.
Drop 2: Pocket height (3 feet), screen side up
Next I wanted to test out the glass on the back, so I dropped the iPhone XS from the same height (3 feet), this time with the screen facing up.
This time the phone changed positions in midair and landed on the top left-hand side, not on its face. After this initial impact, it bounced on the side of that stainless steel frame and then onto its back for its final landing.
Again, it was hard to pinpoint the damage. The frame looked like it had sustained a few more scrapes than before. There were tiny dents on the gold finish of the stainless steel, about the size of a grain of sand. The glass on the front and back of the phone was still intact.
With that one out of the way, I decided to go even higher.
Drop 3: Eye level (5 feet), free fall
For my next drop, I wanted to take it up to eye level, which is roughly the height at which it would fall from your hands if you’re taking a picture.
I held the phone in landscape mode with the screen facing me and let it go.
Once again the steel frame broke the iPhone XS’ fall. The first point of impact was the top-left corner of the phone, then it bounced on the bottom corner, rotated to hit the bottom edge and then slid out and landed screen side down on the edge of the sidewalk.
The tiny dents on the top left-hand corner of the frame had multiplied, but I had to inspect it closely to notice. Everything else still looked exactly the same. No major damage.
Drop 4: Eye level (5 feet), screen side down
I was running out of time to shoot our drop test, and the glass on the iPhone XS was still intact. For the last test, I decided to drop it again from 5 feet (1.5 meters), but this time starting out with the screen face down.
Again, the phone did not land exactly how I wanted it to. Instead, it landed on the top-right corner toward the rear-facing camera, then did a couple of flips in the air before landing with the screen facing up.
This time there was a lot of cement debris on the camera, making me think it had scratched. It wiped off easily. The edge of the bump where the rear-facing camera is had a few grain-size dents on the top, but the glass on the camera didn’t break. And everything else still looked pretty much the same as it did before this second 5-foot drop.
Based on how similar the iPhone XS looks to its predecessor, the iPhone X, I was expecting it to crack on the first drop or two. Clearly, I was wrong.
After four falls from up to 5 feet onto the concrete sidewalk, this iPhone XS came out almost intact. It has a few tiny dents and scrapes on the frame and the side of the camera, but the glass is nearly flawless.
Does that mean that the iPhone XS glass is stronger? That’s a tough call to make, given the nature of our tests. But I can tell you it fared significantly better than last year’s iPhone X, which ended up with cracks on both sides and tiny pieces of glass falling off the edges after only two drops from hip height.
I reached out to Apple for more information, but the company declined to give further details about the iPhone XS glass compared to that of the iPhone X. We do know that Corning has supplied glass for previous iPhones, but we don’t know whether or not the iPhone XS is covered in Corning’s latest Gorilla Glass 6. Corning also declined to comment for this story.
I would still recommend putting a case on your $1,000-plus iPhone XS and XS Max for some peace of mind. After all, it will cost you $279 to replace the XS screen and $329 for the XS Max (without AppleCare+ coverage). But maybe this means you can be a little more confident with them out and about.
The camera on your phone is pretty spectacular. In an instant, it can capture a milestone in your child’s life, a night out with friends or that particularly attractive slice of avocado toast in front of you.
Phones can produce incredible photos and benefit from compelling features like portrait mode. But video shot on phones still lags dramatically behind in terms of image quality, dynamic range and low-light performance.
It’s time for video from our phones to reach the same level of quality as the photos we take. Here are some ways companies can improve the way phones record video and a few video features that might be nice add-ons, too.
Android phones need better processors for video
The iPhone XR, XS and XS Max capture the best overall videos on any phone you can buy. This comes in part from Apple’s A12 chipset and ‘Neural Engine,’ which speedily process footage.
Meanwhile, Qualcomm, which makes processors for Android phones such as the upcoming Galaxy S10, recently launched the new Snapdragon 855 chipset. CNET tested the new chip and found it was 45 percent faster than last year’s Snapdragon 845 processor. This should help provide some extra muscle for Android phones.
It’s only a matter of time before phones wrangle enough power to record and optimize video via AI and machine learning. Google is in the best position to do this since it already uses AI and machine learning to improve photos. Needless to say, video would require a phone to handle much more data compared to a single photo, and adding that extra burden of ‘enhancing’ video footage quickly would require a level of power a couple of generations away.
Portrait video mode would be a fun feature, but I wonder how well it would work. Flagship phones are in their third generation of portrait mode for photos and some results are still hit-or-miss. One can only imagine what the early, rough days of portrait mode video would look like.
If you have an iPhone with portrait mode, you can get a taste of what a video version might look like by watching the live preview of the effect before you snap a photo.
Improve low-light video like the iPhone’s Auto Low Light FPS
One of the most underrated features on the iPhone XR, XS and XS Max is Auto Low Light FPS. It’s something you can enable in the camera settings and it reduces the frame rate in low-light to improve video quality. The idea is to let each frame gather a little more light and the result can be amazing.
Samsung’s current flagship phones can switch to a wider aperture. This also lets in more light during low-light video recording, but the results are just okay. Other than that though, there isn’t another Android phone that we know of that has a video feature specifically for overcoming the challenges of low light.
The Pixel 3, Huawei P20 Pro and Mate 20 Pro have a low-light photo mode that compiles multiple photos into a single picture. It would be interesting to see if Google or Huawei find a similar feature for video. In Huawei’s case, it could use exposure information from its other rear cameras and combine it with the video from the main camera to create a beautiful low-light video.
Good video needs great audio
It might sound odd, but video is only as good as its audio. Bad audio can make a video unwatchable and that’s something many phones today are shockingly guilty of. I’m looking at you, OnePlus 6T and Pixel 3. It’s not that the microphones on the phones are bad, it’s that they’ll never be close enough to the subject to pick up good sound. Think about how a news reporter in the field holds a stick mic to pick up better-quality audio.
If you don’t have your own audio crew and boom mic operator, perhaps the answer lies in software and processing. Phones could use AI or machine learning to improve and optimize the audio on videos. In a way, that’s what noise-cancelling phone mics already do.
Another approach would be adding more microphones and then the phone would mix and optimize recordings into a single track.
If you’re looking for professional quality audio, there are a number of shotgun mic accessories available, not to mention wireless lavalier mics designed to work with phones.
Refine the quality of slow motion video
It is bonkers to think that a phone can record 1080p video at 240fps when even high-end video cameras top out at just 120fps. But not all slow motion is created equal. When looking at 1080p 240fps slow motion recordings from both the iPhone XS and the Galaxy Note 9 there are noticeable differences. The iPhone has better image quality and a wider dynamic range than the Note 9.
Companies like Samsung, Huawei, Sony and OnePlus have a ‘super’ slow motion mode that captures 480 or even 960fps. But these videos are recorded at a lower resolution and look pretty bad except in the most optimal of situations.
Slow motion video is another area where processing power can drastically help improve image quality. AI and machine learning might also help slow motion footage look more dramatic without sacrificing resolution.
Add Hitchcock’s dolly zoom effect
Portrait mode really showed off the way a phone can mimic an expensive professional stills camera. Phone makers should add a video-specific feature like the dolly zoom effect that you see in movies such as Vertigo, Jaws and Ratatouille — it’s also known as the Vertigo effect.
This happens when a camera lens zooms in or out while the physical camera moves in the opposite direction. With so many phones adding a second camera for zoom, it’s possible that Apple or Samsung could come up with a way to mimic this effect by using video captured by dual rear cameras. I’m sure the moment phones can pull off the dolly effect, Instagram will be brimming with videos using it.
Since we’re dreaming big, it’d be great if phones could undo framing mistakes while filming video. If you accidentally cut someone’s head out of a shot, for example, your phone could ‘magically’ add it back in using information it gathered from its second camera.
I know this sounds crazy, but it would be justifiably useful. The same approach could be used to get rid of an errant thumb or finger that accidentally made its way into frame while you filmed.
Phone cameras need to make serious strides in terms of video quality and features. The solution lies in a mix of more powerful processors alongside AI and machine learning to optimize video beyond what a sensor can capture. If the improvements phone makers made to photos are any indication, there will be plenty of awesome video features available down the road.
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