Linus Reviews HTC One M8 for Windows


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+LogicalApex

Very good review overall. The reality is Windows Phone isn't a platform for an enthusiast as it just lacks far too much and Microsoft seems content with the status quo. Sadly, Windows Phone is more locked than iOS without the marketshare and clout to force developers and users to cater to its limits.

 

When I look at what was great about Windows Mobile I see it living on in Android. Sadly, Microsoft has failed to gain traction in an iOS clone (business model, not UI) and they likely are too late to correct it.

 

Yep they threw the baby out with the bathwater. Only time will tell if throwing their existing Windows Mobile customer base off a cliff will help them or harm them...

At the very least it will give their competitors a large influx of customers (as many have delayed purchases to see how 7 shakes down) as many switch from Windows Mobile to something else...

They are starting not only the OS over, but their customer base too. Not to say it will make Windows Phone 7 a failure, but it definitely makes the success story a lot harder to achieve. And if they don't get strong sales early on they might run into a problem convincing OEMs and Carriers to pickup the platform.

They aren't too late, but they do need to be gambling wisely.

 

Throwing the enthusiast market to Android has proven to be the biggest blunder MS made in mobile...

 

I see. That's crazy. Unbelievable how the three big companies sometimes seem more interested in tripping each other than to offer us better solutions.

 

The sad reality of competition. The companies will only work together to the extent that it helps themselves.

 

Oh yes, on the topic of dialing: Either set up speed dial, pin the contacts to your start screen, or just tell Cortana to call that person. Seriously, learn the phone you're reviewing.

The lack of T9 is a drag. It should be included. I don't use voice services on any platform (I don't like them). I also wouldn't pin contacts to my screen. Just not something I like to do. I prefer to dial via T9. I was always hoping it would come to Windows Phone during my 2 years with the platform.

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vcfan

came in here with a bag of popcorn expecting a Linus Torvalds windows product review. left disappointed. 

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Dot Matrix

So no "official" app then?

Yes, there is an official app, but Google forced Microsoft to essentially castrate it. All it is now is just a web wrapped to the mobile site.

 

It's right here, if you want to take a look: http://www.windowsphone.com/en-us/store/app/youtube/dcbb1ac6-a89a-df11-a490-00237de2db9e

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+E.Worm Jimmy

came in here with a bag of popcorn expecting a Linus Torvalds windows product review. left disappointed. 

 

you are not the only one....

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+warwagon

Review was spot on. It was my experience on the Windows phone as well.

 

I just didn't find it very useful.

 

I will give WP 8 one complement though, the voice dictation was incredible.

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BajiRav

un-objective....

   

 

 

can you name points why it is?

 

 

everything i have heard from actual users points to me that WP is way behind, not only in developer support, but in basic usability.  

as a long time MS fan, i am disappointed, but i am not going to dismiss the points as humorous. i find them mostly upsetting.. as i expected much better of them!

His problem with Windows Phones are

 

- Google services are missing : we all know the history

- He doesn't like the UI : subjective

- OS doesn't work like Android : subjective

- keyboard is horrible : highly subjective and the first time I have heard anyone complain about WP keyboard.

 

He could have put more efforts to not come off as anti-WP but when he begins his video by clearly biased statements (all the good points are thrown out as meh nothing special), there is nothing objective left in it.

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+Heartripper

Sorry if it's a dumb question, what do you mean with T9 dialing?

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articuno1au

You can't get Google apps because Google doesn't want to support the Microsoft platform. They have actively blocked the development of a YouTube app by Microsoft because "its not built with HTML 5". This requirement is something they enforce nowhere else. Microsoft released an awesome YouTube app, but Google cease and desisted it..

 

He is right in shooting down that a lot of Google Apps aren't available.

 

His complaint at the start is that apps he regularly uses aren't available for WP. Swype isn't, nor is it for iPhone, but he paints over this by saying it's coming.. Ignoring that Microsoft already support the same functionality (and in my experience it's better on WP, although that's subjective). Wow, he complained about the lack of Swype then says he doesn't use swype typing -_- What a ###### nut.. Also, using a 5.5 inch device and complaining about the size of the keyboard.. Douche hat.

 

He also attacks an app that requires specific hardware support to use (unsurprising given that the HTC One M8 is the only hardware the supports it and it just released.. Oh and it comes with a HTC version of the app he is whinging he doesn't have..).

 

He proceeds to lambast Microsoft for scam apps.. Certainly something they should fix.. Not like they don't exist on other platforms though. Google in particular has had serious issues with scamware and ###### apps. This isn't unique to MS and attacking the OS as a whole for this issue just reeks of bias.

 

His attack on the navigation is semi justified. It is a little counter intuitive. That having been said, it's merely a different way of approaching navigation. It's not stupid, and in the context of the rest of the operating system it does make sense. He does, however, overplay the issue.

 

His T9 dialing (pressing a number and having names suggested that contain that number) issue is a pain in the ass, especially given Microsoft had it in Windows Mobile 4 (which is older than me >.>). However he overplays this by going Phone -> People -> Phone instead of cutting out the original step and going straight to people to dial. He also has multiple phone numbers set on the Windows Phone side whilst he has default dialing on Android. Bit of ###### again.

 

He does highlight some awesome things with regards to notifications and alarms as well as quick access to customisable toggles. He calls out Cortana for being awesome (which it really is.. I love Google Now, but Cortana is definitely it's equal in a lot of ways (not in some others)). He complains that you can't control volume or screen brightness by voice... Seriously? Press the damn button you ######. Also, technically you can control these, you just need to install an app. He is right about having to hit the button repeatedly. It's annoying as balls and has been addressed in part in the next operating system release (8.1 GDR2).

 

He proceeds to complain that you need third party apps like YouTube, which I addressed in part above, but he ignores that IE will play YouTube videos without the need for an App, and the OS provides this functionality to any app that chooses to call it. He complains that pebble's third party app doesn't work for calls (due to lack of API). Well no ######, it only just got full BT support. It will come, but it's not the deal breaker he claims it is for the OS in general. It might exclude some people, but not everyone. DropCam point is moronic.

 

His complaint really is that it's not Android. He has a workflow that he likes, and he's bitching out the OS for not supporting him seamlessly. Seriously..

 

Windows Phone isn't for everyone, but attack it for the stuff it realistically fails at. This video is appalling. I generally like his reviews, but this is pants.

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George P

The whole Google apps/services bit is a joke in this case, let's blame the OS for google not wanting to support it, ok.   It's also funny how they wanted MS to make the youtube app HTML5 and said this is a requirement but then not even their own official apps for android and iOS use HTML5.  It's so petty and silly at this point, good thing I don't care about Google apps and services like some of you seem to, I'm good with the alternatives and my one throwaway gmail account works just fine on WP, so that's all that matters in my case.

 

Metrotube is also great, if you haven't bothered to even try it and complain about no good Youtube app then your review is a joke from the get go, in many cases, even on the other platforms, the 3rd party apps can be better than the official ones.   Sure there's still an app gap, no doubting it, but it's changing, Spotify, which I use, is now on par with the other platforms.    MS is also doing what it can, it's only being slowed down by the carriers holding back updates.  WP8.1.1 is another nice update to the OS, and what i'm hearing about update 2, or 8.1.2 if you will, sounds good to.  

 

In short, this review is a joke if I've ever seen one.

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(Account no longer active)

WP users: go and try an Android M8 before commenting (note UI completely customizable).

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George P

WP users: go and try an Android M8 before commenting (note UI completely customizable).

 

 No one said anything about Android and only about WP,  we should suddenly go and get the Android version of the M8 now, for what exactly?   You could say that trying any Android phone is the same, the OS is what the OS, like any WP phone will give you the same thing.  Unless you love HTCs blinkfeed so much, but I doubt it.    There's no need to do what you suggest in this case. 

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Dot Matrix

WP users: go and try an Android M8 before commenting (note UI completely customizable).

What does that have to do with anything here?

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theyarecomingforyou

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2013/05/24/microsoft_pulls_youtube_winphone_app/

 

TL:DR Microsoft made a gorgeous youtube app for WP8.  Google issued a takedown notice, Microsoft made changes that they asked for and republished, Google proceeds to make up ###### and issue another takedown notice, Microsoft caves and reverts to the terrible previous app.  Google are ######.

According to that article it was removed because it didn't display ads and allowed users to download videos, both of which are against the T&C. I'd be surprised if it wasn't removed. Given how popular YouTube is Microsoft should have done everything in its power to work around Google's demands, as Apple has done.

 

Therein lies the problem.  He calls it as HE sees it, not everyone else.

 

I rather see an unbiased review, not some twit telling everyone who a phone is for(or in this case not for).

I think his assessment is spot on. When you consider that Windows Phone has less than a 3% worldwide market share it's hard to argue that he's wrong for saying it's a phone for 'no-one'. His review isn't biased, he just doesn't like Windows Phone.

 

The whole Google apps/services bit is a joke in this case, let's blame the OS for google not wanting to support it, ok.   It's also funny how they wanted MS to make the youtube app HTML5 and said this is a requirement but then not even their own official apps for android and iOS use HTML5.  It's so petty and silly at this point, good thing I don't care about Google apps and services like some of you seem to

People don't care why they can't access Google services, just that they can't. The reality is that most people do use Google services and it's a perfectly legitimate criticism to bring up.

 

In short, this review is a joke if I've ever seen one.

I disagree. Linus calls it how he sees it from the perspective of a tech enthusiast. I love being on the cutting edge of technology?from mobile phones to PCs?and Microsoft just isn't delivering that with Windows Phone.

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jakem1

A video by and for people who don't know what they're talking about.

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+LogicalApex

I think the people who are most annoyed with the review and its attack on WP may be helped to see it from the perspective of where the HTC One M8 for Windows is positioned. It is positioned as an enthusiast phone, but Windows Phone as an OS is severely lacking in areas that are important to enthusiasts. This forms the basis for him saying the phone is a phone for no one. I think people are incorrectly extrapolating his assertion to encompass Windows Phone irrespective of device.

 

The problems for Microsoft with Windows Phone are immense. They gambled wrong and I don't see them making any realistic attempts to right the ship. Although the OS appeals to some, we all have different needs, it won't be doing enough to actually become a real threat to iOS or Android in the foreseeable future. It is a lot like walking. Imagine that there is a person 2 blocks ahead of you that you want to catch up to so you can say hi. It isn't enough to actually walk at their pace if you hope to close the gap between you two. You have to walk 2 or 3x as fast as they do as the only way to close the gap is for you to move faster.

 

Google built Android for a simple purpose... To drive people deeper into Google's ecosystem of services which ultimately feed its Ad machine. This means to pull people off Android you have to top Google's ecosystem of services and make people switch from those as well. The longer Android is allowed to dominate the harder this becomes as the deeper those ties become for the user. This is why Google is so hostile to offering Microsoft parity access to their ecosystem and it won't be changing anytime soon. As icing on the cake, for enthusiasts, Android is also extremely customizable so enthusiasts can make the devices do almost anything and run on almost anything.

 

Apple has the purchase ties that make users reluctant to jump ship in any serious manner. Not only do they have a strong brand, but iOS users tend to buy their apps and content and not pay cheaply while doing so (in addition to often getting new apps first). The longer iOS exists and has a domineering position the more costly it is for the user to switch. They would be losing hundreds of dollars in content (apps, etc.) investments on iOS and might even lose access to sub ecosystems entirely (such as an app that doesn't support third party clients and has no official WP client). In order to counteract this Microsoft needs to continue to get parity among apps, try and get first release priority, and pay users in marketplace credit to switch. None of those are easy.

 

I have said it countless times in the past, but Microsoft adopting an iOS style business model was a problem for Windows Phone. In doing so they lost the enthusiast crowd overnight and the enthusiast crowd tends to be developers and power users who drive a lot of traction for the OS. It is a shame that places like XDA-Developers were founded for enthusiasts on Microsoft devices (Windows Mobile Phone PDAs) now cater solely to Android.

 

tl;dr: It isn't about apps. It is about an incorrect marketing choice by Microsoft and their inability to actually compete with the dominate platforms. Windows Phone lacks any realistic edge that can pull users its way. It is too late for Microsoft to correct this as they haven't even acknowledged that they see the problem yet...

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ctebah

I think the video is spot on.  People have to realize that the major reason why WP has such a low share is that NOBODY is buying it.  Except for the 3-4% of course.  But seriously, it could be that the majority of the people are just no interested in that platform.  Carriers are not supporting it, OEMS aren't making as many products and developers are not making as many apps.  It's simple, WP is a very minor player when it comes to smartphone market.

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Dot Matrix

Windows Phone lacks any realistic edge that can pull users its way. It is too late for Microsoft to correct this as they haven't even acknowledged that they see the problem yet...

It has plenty of edge. It offers much in the way of the iPhone, without out being overly open, and succumbing to the multitude of issues Android is. At this point in my life, I don't need a thousand and one fart apps, and I don't need to be flashing my phone with whatever ROM is popular this week. I don't have time for those games anymore. I need a phone that just works, and stays working - and that phone is Windows Phone.

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elenarie

WP users: go and try an Android M8 before commenting (note UI completely customizable).

 

68k-like users, my phone Lumia 920 works just fine, yet you don't see me whine about other phones.

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+LogicalApex

It has plenty of edge. It offers much in the way of the iPhone, without out being overly open, and succumbing to the multitude of issues Android is. At this point in my life, I don't need a thousand and one fart apps, and I don't need to be flashing my phone with whatever ROM is popular this week. I don't have time for those games anymore. I need a phone that just works, and stays working - and that phone is Windows Phone.

What edge is there? Honestly.

 

As I said earlier, Microsoft has to counter the competitive advantages of each platform appropriately. Android's big pull is Google's ecosystem and its secondary pull is its catering to the needs of enthusiasts users. Microsoft has no answer to either one of these. At present they are left begging Google to bless them with access to its ecosystem. The enthusiast market is very important due to the large percentage of developers that encompass it. Developers passionate about tinkering with the platform usually invest the time to code apps for it...

 

They have an almost 1:1 business model copy of iOS, but they are failing because they lack the historical advantage of iOS. Windows Phone offers a decent alternative to iOS users except they have to counter the reality that users have invested heavily in iOS content and they haven't convinced developers to target their platform first. They also locked the platform so much that they are almost always behind on trends. Like the restrictions mentioned in the video that prevent wearables for properly targeting Windows Phone if they wanted to at present, for instance. There was also the missing Bluetooth LE support that prevented things like the FitBit from coming out with Windows Phone support at the same time as iOS (I think this has been added now).

 

The best the Windows Phone offers at present is a different UI and some interesting hardware features. It doesn't offer any serious edge...

 

This may change in the future, but it is likely too late for Microsoft. They are busy trying to show users that major apps are on the platform while they seem unaware of the real reason people are choosing their competitors.

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ctebah

What edge is there? Honestly.

 

Windows Phone has virtually no edge over Android or iOS platforms.  Nothing that would be seen as a major feature worth switching.  No matter how many megapixels their high end cameras have, no matter how much free stuff like the office may come bundled, it just isn't enticing to users. 

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Max Norris

Coming from somebody who owns both a WP and Android phone, I can say there's quite a lot of crap in the thread. They're both quite solid, and I use both about equally. (Although neither of which gets as much use as my Windows tablet, by far.) The apps I personally use are available for both, I honestly don't care who has more of the random crap apps. My WP gets significantly better battery life, much more hassle/trouble free, and has a higher "it just works" factor for what I need it to do. I also personally like having something that's a bit different from everybody else, I'm not one for following the herd, I could give a rat's behind about market share, and I don't have an agenda to drive.. if it works, I keep it, and WP works very well. Both of my phones are getting a bit dated, very likely to just switch to a WP One M8 and be done with it.

Different, yes. But it sounds like the "reviewer" couldn't be bothered to figure out the differences, never mind some complete misinformation.

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pallentx

Everyone keeps saying WP is severely lacking, but no one lists what? I get the apps are lacking. That's a real and serious problem for WP. But what about the OS is lacking? Is it lacking anything anyone actually cares about? If you have all the apps you personally want, is it "lacking"?

 

I know I'm a minority, but I prefer WP to the others. I use it because I like it most. The UI is super clean, easy to use, but powerful enough to customize to my own workflow. Its the goldilocks between the iPhone and Android. Like many users, I'm not really interested in Snapchat or Yo, or whatever the latest app we all install this week. I use my phone to communicate with people, SMS, calls, social stuff, twitter, FB, etc, banking and a few select apps. For the sake of the platform, yes, they need LOTS more developer support and something may come along at some point that I may wish I could have, but for now, I have what I need and I like that I can chose the phone UI I like best.

 

I have seen numerous articles lately where reviewers express that they love the UI of WP and its a real pleasure to use, but they cant recommend it, or cant use it themselves because its missing apps. That tells me there is something compelling about WP, but its just missing that one thing - apps. That may or may not be an issue for everyone. Its not for me, its not for my parents, its not for my inlaws, who got Android phones and haven't installed one single app in the six months since they got them.

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neo158

Everyone keeps saying WP is severely lacking, but no one lists what? I get the apps are lacking. That's a real and serious problem for WP. But what about the OS is lacking? Is it lacking anything anyone actually cares about? If you have all the apps you personally want, is it "lacking"?

 

I know I'm a minority, but I prefer WP to the others. I use it because I like it most. The UI is super clean, easy to use, but powerful enough to customize to my own workflow. Its the goldilocks between the iPhone and Android. Like many users, I'm not really interested in Snapchat or Yo, or whatever the latest app we all install this week. I use my phone to communicate with people, SMS, calls, social stuff, twitter, FB, etc, banking and a few select apps. For the sake of the platform, yes, they need LOTS more developer support and something may come along at some point that I may wish I could have, but for now, I have what I need and I like that I can chose the phone UI I like best.

 

I have seen numerous articles lately where reviewers express that they love the UI of WP and its a real pleasure to use, but they cant recommend it, or cant use it themselves because its missing apps. That tells me there is something compelling about WP, but its just missing that one thing - apps. That may or may not be an issue for everyone. Its not for me, its not for my parents, its not for my inlaws, who got Android phones and haven't installed one single app in the six months since they got them.

Exactly. People are spreading FUD but I would like to see, from those people, exactly what apps are missing from the platform as well as what features are missing. That won't happen though because they are happy to cling to the FUD that makes people hate WP.

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      Games are also awesome on this big screen, and titles like PUBG Mobile and Asphalt 9 scale really well to the big screen, so you get a huge canvas for them while still having solid controls. However, cloud gaming services don't work as well in terms of the touch controls offered, since they'll always be blocking your view at least a bit. It's up to each service to make it possible to move the game stream to the top portion of the display, though, which would help a lot.

      One thing that you might find disappointing is that you can't open the display halfway, so it's always either fully open or fully closed. As such, there's nothing that would take advantage of that ability, like being able to watch a video on one half while scrolling through comments on the other half. On the other hand, Huawei does better in terms of accessories and includes a case in the box that doubles as a kickstand, so you can watch videos on the big screen much more easily. The kickstand can be used in either portrait or landscape orientation, but when the phone is unfolded, it works better in landscape due to the weight distribution.



      However, I still find the lack of dedicated features for this big display a bit disappointing. Just like any other Android phone, the Mate X2 lets you use apps in split-screen mode, but using it on the big display is hardly any different from using it on the smaller one. You can split the screen in half, but you can't resize the apps to your liking as far as I've been able to tell. It's always half the screen for each app. I also feel like we could have used the ability to split the screen into even smaller sections, like how Samsung allows for up to three apps to be open at once. You do get floating windows for additional apps, but that's not the same thing. On top of that, you can't create app pairs so that the same two apps are launched at once, you always have to set them up manually, which is a cumbersome process after a while. You can, however, use a feature called App Multiplier, which lets you run multiple instances of the same app at the same time.



      The closest thing to a unique feature that you get for this dual-screen dynamic is that if you have an app open on one display, it will transition over to the other one when you fold or unfold the phone. I feel like that's the bare minimum you'd expect from this form factor, though. Even then, how well the transition goes depends on how each app scales its UI, and some apps may have to be restarted to offer the best experience on each display.

      You could argue that having a big screen that fits in a normal(ish)-sized phone is a big benefit by itself, and it certainly is, but Samsung has proven that more can be done with it, and I wish Huawei had learned from that.

      Cameras (and the one that's missing)
      One of the criticisms that's been directed at Samsung's foldables has been the fact that they're mostly using camera setups that lag behind its traditional flagships, making it seem as though they're an afterthought. The Galaxy Z Fold2, for example, has overall lesser cameras compared to the Galaxy S20 that preceded it, and even more so compared to phones like the S20 Ultra or Note20 Ultra.

      Huawei has taken a different approach, with a camera setup that doesn't seem to be lacking in any way, at least on paper. There are four sensors on the back of this phone, including the 50MP RYYB flagship sensor we've seen on other Huawei flagships. This sensor is a big deal for night time performance, and on that front, it delivers well. You also get a 16MP ultra-wide camera, a 12MP 3x zoom camera, and an 8MP periscope camera with 10x optical zoom. That combination of zoom levels is impressive and something I praised heavily in my review of the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra, and it truly makes this feel like a flagship phone in terms of cameras.



      For the most part, the Huawei Mate X2 delivers in its camera performance, though I must reiterate my relatively short period for this review. The main sensor is naturally the star of the show, and low-light performance is so good it nearly makes night mode redundant. I did find some inconsistencies between the color balance across the different cameras, which I think were more noticeable than some other phones, even during the day. Even the main camera sometimes tends to oversaturate, and other times makes colors a bit too cool.

      Gallery: Huawei Mate X2 camera samples
      Like other phones, you'll see most of the differences between cameras at night, and that's where you'll really need night mode to help even things out. I find Huawei's night mode to be a bit more painful than other phones, since it often asked me to hold still for up to seven seconds while it took a photo, which meant I got blurry photos more often.

      One issue that I found is that the camera sometimes has issues with autofocus, specifically the 3x zoom camera can look very messy in some scenarios. I also had some problems nailing the right shot when zooming in to 100x, and got overall lesser quality than from the Galaxy S21 Ultra at that zoom level.

      One benefit of foldables is that the main camera can also be your selfie camera when you unfold the phone, and the main camera on the Mate X2 makes for a stellar selfie camera compared to the one on the cover display, but that's not to say that the selfie camera is bad. You can see a comparison of the two cameras above. One thing that Samsung does and Huawei doesn't is let both displays be used at the same time. For example, if you're taking a picture of someone else with the phone unfolded, the Galaxy Z Fold2 lets the other person see themselves on the smaller screen. You can't do that here, though.



      Here's a fun fact: you have to manually tap the option to switch cameras if you want to take a selfie with the main camera, and you have to tap it again to switch back. If you swipe up to go to the home screen while using the small screen to take a selfie, you can only go back to the big screen by closing and re-opening the phone, or opening the Camera app and switching the screens again. Again, I feel like some software work could be done to make this process a bit more natural.

      As for the selfie camera on the inside of the phone, there isn't one, which is one of the faux pas this phone makes in my opinion. Having no camera cutout on the inner display may please some people, but it means that you can't take video calls on this phone while using the big screen. The phone just asks you to close it and look at the cover screen instead. That's a big deal because a lot of people are taking a lot of calls right now. And when you're already charging this much for a phone, it's an odd omission.

      I also have to mention that I'm just not the biggest fan of Huawei's camera software. What you see in the viewfinder is sometimes radically different from the final shot, night mode takes a bit too long to process (though you get the benefits of that, too), and I would prefer if the zoom controls were closer to my thumb. Also, HDR is a whole separate mode instead of simply having a toggle for it while taking photos, which makes it more inconvenient than some other phones.

      Performance and software
      While I made the point earlier that there's no point debating whether you should buy this phone, I think it's still worth talking about the basics of a phone review. The Mate X2 is powered by the Kirin 9000, which is a 5nm chipset introduced last fall, but still based on older Cortex-A77 cores from Arm, opting out of both Cortex-A78 and Cortex-X1 cores that were introduced last year. It also has 8GB of RAM, which seems oddly low for a phone this premium, and up to 512GB of internal storage.

      Despite that, the Huawei Mate X2 pulled slightly ahead of the Galaxy S21 Ultra and even the OnePlus 9 (though it loses to the 9 Pro) in the AnTuTu benchmark, so it looks like Huawei didn't miss out too much by using older cores. This benchmark measures various performance aspects in one test.



      Usually, I'd include GeekBench results as well, but the app refuses to run on the Mate X2, so we'll have to move on to GFXBench, which tests the GPU of the phone. The results here are in line with other flagships, too, so performance isn't something you'll be missing.



      Battery life on the Mate X2 is solid, often lasting me a day and a half with at least a couple hours of YouTube on the big inner display, some web browsing, and some texting. Considering the display size and the 4,500mAh battery, those are impressive numbers, but it doesn't take long to realize how that's achieved. Huawei phones are notorious for delayed notifications, and that certainly applies here. It's happened almost every day that notifications are either delayed or just not sent at all, and I've gone hours not knowing I had received messages in some of my apps. It's incredibly frustrating, and it's a long-standing issue with the brand, so if you're already a Huawei fan, it's probably not going to be worse than usual.

      Also, this phone is only available in China for now, but even if it releases worldwide, it will be plagued by the same problem as every other Huawei phone nowadays, which is the lack of Google services. No matter how much you hate Google, too many apps just don't work without those services. Like I said, GeekBench 5 wouldn't run even after sharing the APK file from another phone. Pokémon GO doesn't work either, and I also lost the ability to use Microsoft Authenticator because of this.

      Conclusion
      Despite being over two years old, the foldable market still feels like it's in an embryonic state, which makes it exciting to keep an eye on but also somewhat frustrating when it comes to actually using these devices. I love a lot of what Huawei did here, especially the design. Having most of the weight of the phone directly on the user's hand is ingenious and it almost makes you question why no one else has done it yet. It's also one of the thinner foldables right now, and the cover display has one of the most natural aspect ratios we've seen on any foldable so far, so using it as a normal phone is actually a viable option.



      I also appreciate that Huawei wasn't afraid of using a flagship camera setup on the back of the phone, which you can't say for Samsung's foldables. The results aren't always the best, but at least it isn't evident that Huawei was trying to cut corners in this area. And a lot about the phone is in line with flagship material - high-resolution displays, 90Hz refresh rate, and a solidly built design.

      But some decisions are a bit frustrating, such as the lack of a camera on the inner portion of the phone, making video calls far less convenient. I also feel like there's plenty of room for improvement in terms of multitasking on the big screen, and some software limitations make it feel like the dual-screen dynamic could have been more thought through. Of course, that's to say nothing of Huawei's overly aggressive battery management and lack of Google services.



      In the end, I don't think it would be possible to recommend any phone that costs over $2,700, no matter how much Huawei did right; I just wish I had been more blown away by it than I was. Regardless, there's a lot that other manufacturers can learn from this phone. I hope the wedge-shaped design becomes more of a trend with future foldables, and I hope more of them also have a cover display more similar to this one. I hope we'll eventually see flagship cameras on foldables like Huawei tried to do here. At the same time, I think Huawei could stand to learn from what Samsung has done, too, particularly on the software side of things.

    • By Sszecret
      Microsoft Weekly: Edge Beta for Linux, a new Segoe font, and games galore
      by Florin Bodnarescu



      A number of things happened in the last seven days, including the arrival of Edge Beta on Linux, the unveiling of a new Segoe font variant, and even a refresh of the Azure logo. You can find info about that, as well as much more below, in your Microsoft digest for the week of May 2 - 8.

      Edge Beta for Linux


      We should begin with a little info regarding Edge, as not much has happened with the browser this week.

      For starters, build 92.0.878.0 made its way to the Dev Channel. While this would normally be pretty exciting, Microsoft says the build doesn’t change much, given that it came out just a few days after the previous build. The changes are so minor that the company didn’t even bother publishing its usual post about it.

      Moving on to the stable version, namely version 90, folks may be experiencing problems with YouTube playback, namely crashing. This bug has been acknowledged by a Microsoft engineer, who suggested users disable hardware acceleration as a workaround. The same engineer confirmed that the company is working on a fix, but that the issue may be more significant than initially thought.

      And since we’re taking a tour through the various Insider channels, it’s worth pointing out that over six months after the Dev channel availability of Edge for Linux, there is now a Beta variant for the open-source OS.

      Lastly, Microsoft is now testing everse image search in the Bing sidebar. This does pretty much exactly what it sounds like it would, namely allows you to right-click on an image and search for it on Bing in the sidebar which appears on the right of the Edge browser. As per Reddit user Leopeva64-2 who stumbled upon this, the capability is available in Edge Dev, though we have not seen this on any of our test devices.

      A new font


      For Insiders in the Dev channel, Microsoft pushed out yet another preview build, 21376, which included the usual array of fixes and, rather interestingly a new Segoe font variant.

      While Segoe UI itself has been used as a default system font going all the way back to Windows Vista, a number of variants have been revealed since, including Segoe Script, Segoe Pro, and what Microsoft used for its Modern design icons, Segoe MDL2 Assets.

      The new font is called Segoe UI Variable and as the name implies, it’s meant to vary slightly depending on the use case. Segoe UI itself for example was originally designed to be optimal at 9pt sizes, while Segoe UI Variable tweaks the letter weight and tracking depending on the size.

      For smaller text, the letters are more tightly tracked, have more weight and are more open, while at display size, text isn’t quite as tightly tracked and has amplified letter terminals. For those not familiar, tracking refers to the overall horizontal spacing between font characters. This is not to be confused with kerning, which refers to the proportional spacing between two individual letters, whereas tracking refers to, say, an entire word.

      On the subject of change, we should touch on the fact that Microsoft is set to fully remove Flash from Windows 10 in July. While support for Flash was dropped by Adobe on December 31, 2020, and Microsoft released a manual update to remove it back in October of the same year, it was, as the name implies, not necessarily mandatory. Starting in July, the Redmond giant is set to push out the update to Windows 10 v1809 and above, automagically removing the media plugin.

      To that end, the firm is also removing any update blocks for versions 2004 and 20H2 (May 2020 Update, October 2020 Update), allowing folks to freely upgrade to these supported variants. We’re on the verge of a new feature update anyway, so it’s not much of a surprise that Microsoft wants folks on the latest Windows 10 version, if possible.

      Last but not least, to the dismay of perhaps three people, Windows 10X is allegedly delayed indefinitely, as Microsoft focuses on Windows 10 proper.

      Since its original unveil at the end of 2019 with the dual-screen Surface Neo and Duo, the former device was delayed out of its Holiday 2020 release window, and Windows 10X was repurposed for single-screen devices - in stark contrast to its initial 'dual-screen devices first' approach. For now, it seems that the Redmond firm is putting 10X on the backburner, focusing its resources on the expected Sun Valley UI refresh coming to Windows 10 later this year.

      Games galore


      In a rather surprising announcement, Microsoft decided to take the wraps off a sizeable selection of titles now supporting FPS Boost. More than quadrupling the number of supported games from 23 to 97, the latest additions include Dying Light, a number of LEGO games, ReCore, and more, with supported framerates from 60 to 120FPS.

      There are good news on the Game Pass front as well, with FIFA 21, Red Dead Online, Psychonauts, Outlast 2 and many others either already available or joining the subscription very soon. Additionally, folks in the U.S. also get four months of Spotify Premium with Game Pass Ultimate, though this is available for new users only.

      On the revenue share front, Microsoft dropped its cut from 30% to 12% on PC, and was planning to do the same on console, but it will no longer do so. An interesting tidbit about the company’s strategy relates to exactly why it lowered its split. As per the court documents filed in January, this is done “in exchange for the grant of streaming rights to Microsoft.”, in other words, xCloud. It’s not exactly clear whether the proposal was far enough along to even be discussed with console publishers, but for the time being, the revenue split on Xbox remains 30/70.

      If you don’t think that’s such a great deal, maybe some of the Deals with Gold will pique your interest, like the discounts for Borderlands 3, Control, PAYDAY 2: Crimewave Edition, and others.

      However, if you have no desire to buy more games and already own the latest iteration of Flight Simulator or the spin-off title Minecraft Dungeons, it’s worth checking for updates, as both first-party games have received a number of enhancements and fixes.

      Dev channel
      The latest monthly Office Insider build on the Mac has added the ‘Share to Teams’ capability in Outlook, and more. Microsoft has announced its automation tool for security testing AI systems, dubbed Counterfit. Live transcriptions will soon be added for unscheduled and channel meetings in Teams. Microsoft has announced Reading Progress for Teams for education. Whiteboard now has improved Teams integration, support for rich content like images and stickers, and more. The Redmond giant has detailed more education features coming through August. Excel on the web now supports Power BI-connected PivotTables. Microsoft has delivered oxygen, ventilators, and more to support India’s COVID-19 response. New customization options are now available for Reply-all Storm Protection in Microsoft 365. Microsoft customers in the EU will be able to store all their data in the region by 2022. The Redmond firm has warned of a widespread gift card scam targeting organizations. Logging off
      We end the week with a refreshed Azure logo, an interesting Defender bug, and some Surface firmware updates.



      Starting with Azure, Microsoft has decided that the logo for its cloud service needed a bit of a Fluent Design facelift, and as such unveiled a brand-new icon. Ditching the angular shape of the old logo, this one is much more reminiscent of say, the Visual Studio icon, though in some cases, it may remind folks of the Adobe or Autodesk logos.

      On the flip side, what wasn’t needed was a rather weird Microsoft Defender bug, which ended up creating “thousands” of files in users' boot drives. Some folks saw small files less than 2KB in size, while other users reported multiple GBs of storage being eaten up. A fix is already rolling out, and if you’re on Microsoft Defender engine version 1.1.18100.5, you’ll be bumped up to 1.1.18100.6 following this update.

      Finally, for owners of the Surface Pro 4, Studio, Laptop 1,2, and 4, Microsoft has released a slew of firmware updates meant to bring stability and security enhancements.

      Missed any of the previous columns? Be sure to have a look right here.



      If you’d like to get a daily digest of news from Neowin, we now have a Newsletter you can sign up to either via the ‘Get our newsletter’ widget in the sidebar, or this link.

    • By Abhay V
      Microsoft removes all update blocks for Windows 10 versions 2004 and 20H2
      by Abhay Venkatesh



      Microsoft releases major Windows 10 updates in a staggered fashion, meaning not all devices get the update immediately. For the past couple of years, the firm has let users decide if they want to install a feature update till the time that the version that they are on reaches the end-of-support. The company does enforce update blocks – essentially blocking those PCs from being served the updates – due to known issues. The firm then gradually removes these “safeguard holds” as and when the issues are fixes.

      Since the release of Windows 10 version 2004 (May 2020 Update) one year ago, there have been various holds on certain devices. Considering that the October 2020 Update (version 20H2) contains the same bits as that of version 2004, those blocks also applied to this version of the OS. Though most of these update holds have been removed over the last year and versions 2004 and 20H2 now account for 80% of total Windows 10 machines, at least two upgrade blocks relating to Conexant audio drivers were still in place, at least for some users.

      Now, Microsoft has officially noted in the known issues page for both versions (spotted by Ghacks) that the issues have been resolved as of yesterday, May 7, 2021. This means that any devices that have been prevented from upgrading to the May 2020 Update or the October 2020 Update from older versions will now be served the bits automatically. An estimated 11% of users are still running the November 2019 update (version 1909).

      Of course, users have had other ways to update to the latest versions such as by using the Media Creation Tool or performing a fresh install using the available ISOs. Additionally, the company also added a Group Policy to Windows 10 allowing IT admins to circumvent these blocks or disable them and force devices to update, in case they deem it necessary.

      The official update from the Redmond firm about the lifting of these long-standing safeguard holds comes just a few days from the official end-of-support date for Windows 10 version 1909. Starting May 11, all Home, Pro, and Pro Education SKUs will reach the end-of-support, meaning those on version 1909 must move to any of the newer versions. This also signals the first time that all supported Window 10 versions will receive the same servicing updates, since the upcoming Windows 10 May 2021 Update (21H1) is yet another enablement package, just like version 20H2.

      Have any of your devices been blocked from receiving versions 2004 or 20H2, or has your organization held off on updating the devices to a newer version? Let us know in the comments below!

    • By indospot
      Huawei Band 6 review: a stylish fitness band with a big display
      by João Carrasqueira

      A couple of weeks ago, I got the chance to review the Honor Band 6, the first smart band from Honor since it officially split from Huawei a few months ago. Soon after that, Huawei reached out to me about the Huawei Band 6, and to my surprise, the smart bands are still almost identical, though I suppose that's to be expected considering how little time has passed since the split.

      Regardless, I was interested in testing the Huawei Band 6 because there are some key differences that might make this a more compelling device, with the most notable one on the spec sheet being the additional sports modes available on the Huawei model, along with a higher price tag. Are the differences enough to justify the price hike? Let's find out.

      Specs
      Body 43x25.4x10.99mm, 29g with strap (18g without strap) Strap Silicone strap, swappable Display 1.47-inch AMOLED, 368x194, 282ppi Sensors Accelerometer Optical heart rate sensor (with sleep monitoring and stress monitoring) SpO2 sensor (with continuous monitoring) Battery life Up to 14 days with typical usage, 10 days with heavy usage Water resistance 5ATM OS LiteOS Colors Black frame: Graphite Black, Forest Green
      Golden frame: Amber Sunrise (as reviewed), Sakura Pink

      Price €59.99-€69.99 (varies by market) Design
      Like I said, the Huawei Band 6 is incredibly similar to the product from its former sister company in terms of design, and that goes right down to the packaging, which uses an almost identical template. I actually kind of prefer the more colorful look of the Honor Band 6's package, but that's probably a useless point to make.



      The smart bands themselves are also incredibly similar, with the same display size, the same lone button on the right-hand side, and the same strap mechanism. There are some key differences, though, and I prefer the Huawei version because of it. For starters, it's ever so slightly thinner, but the body is also slightly rounder, which I think looks more elegant. Huawei also offers more color variants of its band, with either golden or black variants of the metal frame along with four different strap colors (versus three for the Honor Band 6). Huawei also let me choose which color I'd get, and I love this orange Amber Sunrise model.



      The differences continue at the edges. The left-hand side of the frame is completely clean this time around, no Huawei branding in sight.



      Meanwhile, the right side has the same single button, but without any accent colors. I usually like accented power buttons, but I'm not a big fan of the red Honor typically uses, so I'm happy about this difference, too.



      The back is pretty much identical, housing the body sensors and the charging pins. You can also see that it uses the same strap mechanism.



      Over on the front, the 1.46-inch AMOLED display is also nearly identical to that of the Honor Band 6. It's the same size and resolution, though putting them side-by-side, the Huawei model seems to produce slightly warmer colors.



      A couple of things you'll be missing here are the support for automatic brightness and always-on displays. I don't mind the latter point at all, personally, but I know some people like it. Automatic brightness can be useful, though I find the medium brightness level to mostly work well enough both indoors and outdoors.

      Overall, I was already a big fan of the compact design and big display of the Honor Band 6, and it feels more refined on this watch, so it definitely gets a thumbs-up from me.

      Fitness and health tracking
      For general health tracking, the Huawei Band 6 covers all the basics, with 24/7 heart rate and stress monitoring, sleep tracking, and female cycle tracking (if it applies to you). One big advantage that this smart band offers versus the Honor equivalent is all-day SpO2 monitoring, and it's actually the first time I see any wearable offer this. Usually, you have to measure your SpO2 levels manually every time, but Huawei made it work throughout the day, which makes this feature much more useful. However, it still requires you to be relatively still for the measurement, so there will be some prolonged periods without measurements if you're constantly on the move.



      One thing to note if you're using a non-Huawei or Honor smartphone is that the Huawei Health app on the Google Play Store hasn't been updated in months. You'll need to find the latest APK files elsewhere on the internet for this feature to light up - but phones with access to the Huawei AppGallery can just update the app through there.

      There are more advantages to the Huawei Band 6, though, as it can track up to 96 exercise modes, which is a huge step up from the 10 modes supported by the Honor version. In fact, this number is the same as what's supported on the Honor Watch ES, which was much more expensive when it launched and is also significantly bigger. That model also offered guided workout routines, though, which you don't get here.



      The Huawei Band 6 still doesn't have a GPS, but one thing I learned during my review period is that if you have a Huawei phone, these watches can in fact pull your location from your phone automatically. It just doesn't work with other phone brands, and in that case, the "outdoor cycle" workout mode is hidden from the watch UI, and you have to start it from the Huawei Health app on your phone. What's annoying is that this doesn't happen for other outdoor workouts, like running and walking. You can start those from the watch, but it won't register any movement, so the workout isn't saved.



      In terms of health tracking, I found that the Huawei Band 6 is a bit more responsive to changes in my heart rate compared to the Honor sibling. I wasn't sure of this when I first reviewed it, but that model has a tendency to get stuck on the same value for longer, and sometimes it showed me very irregular values, like over 130bpm while I'm sitting at my desk. The Huawei version updates more quickly, both throughout the day and during workouts, and thus paints a more realistic picture.

      You can also sync your health data with Google Fit, which I like to do, but only some types of exercise are registered there. When I register a Ring Fit Adventure session as cross fit, it doesn't sync to Google's service, for instance.

      Software and battery life
      The Huawei Band 6 runs the same OS as most other Huawei and Honor smartwatches, including the Honor Band 6. That's a big jump from previous generations of the smart bands, though, which had simpler and less animated interfaces to fit the smaller screen. There's a myriad of watch faces available for the Band 6 so you can have it suit your preference.



      Swiping left or right from the watch face will show you widgets like your activity rings, heart rate monitoring, and so on, and you can customize those through the band's settings. You also get the usual slew of "apps" by pressing the side button, which are:

      Workout Workout records Heart rate SpO2 Activity records Sleep Stress Breathing exercises Music Weather Notifications Stopwatch Timer Alarm Flashlight Remote shutter (requires a Huawei/Honor phone) Find phone Settings The software is very simple and somewhat limited in what it can do, but that helps it achieve incredible battery life. Something like Wear OS has many more smart features, support for apps from the Play Store, and so on, but you can pretty much only use a Wear OS watch for one day before charging again. The Huawei Band 6 promises up to 14 days on a charge for average users, and 10 days of intensive use, which is about what I got. That's with some firmware updates in there, almost daily exercise tracking, and continuous heart rate, stress, sleep, and SpO2 monitoring. It's great to not have to worry about charging nearly as often.



      I've said a few times already that I still prefer having the smart features of Wear OS at the expense of battery life, but I'm starting to change my tune a bit. Wear OS has become incredibly frustrating for me because it requires me to reset my watch every time I need to use a different phone for a review, and whenever I reset it, it's a gamble what kind of experience I'll get. It may work flawlessly or it may have some weird bug that can only be fixed by resetting again. I appreciate how easy it is to pair the Huawei Band 6 (and other Huawei/Honor wearables) with a different phone without losing anything.

      Conclusion
      At first glance, the Huawei Band 6 doesn't seem to stand out that much from the device I reviewed a couple of weeks ago, but once you dive into it, there are a few advantages that make this easily a better device. The design overall is better and you get more color options to boot, it offers far more exercise modes if you need more advanced tracking, and it adds all-day SpO2 monitoring, which is completely new for a Huawei/Honor wearable. On top of that, heart rate monitoring just seems slightly more accurate here.

      At €59.99 in most European markets, the official price of the Huawei Band 6 is €10 above that of its Honor equivalent, but I'd say the advantages it has easily justify the price increase if you're in the market for a somewhat affordable wearable. Feature-wise, there's no disadvantage for the Huawei version, and even if you're only looking for the basics right now, a small step up in price can help you future-proof yourself if you want to get more serious about fitness later.



      You can buy the Huawei Band 6 from Huawei's website, though prices vary by country. In most European countries, it costs around €59, while others go up to €69.99. In the UK, it can be had for £59.99. You can also check out our review of the Honor Band 6 if you'd like to compare them,

    • By anmol112
      Microsoft Azure icon gets a Fluent Design makeover
      by Anmol Mehrotra



      In a blog post, Microsoft unveiled a new icon for its Azure cloud service. The icon is based on Microsoft’s Fluent Design System that debuted back in 2017.

      Microsoft has noted that the new icon will be available across all the Azure services as well as on the website in the coming weeks. The company also highlighted that the new icon represents “unity of Azure within the larger Microsoft family of product icons” and is carefully crafted to look familiar to “what customers know and love” while representing the future of the service.

      Microsoft Azure is not the first service to get a Fluent Design makeover. Back in 2018, Microsoft started rolling out Fluent Design elements for Office apps and in 2019, the company unveiled new icons for its services including Windows. Since then, the company has been hard at work to update all of its services with the new Fluent Design System.

      As usual, the new icon for Azure services will roll out in the coming weeks and Microsoft will allow users to chip in and share their thoughts. If you are interested in sharing suggestions or criticism with Microsoft, then you can do so using the feedback form.