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+Nexus18

Packaging:

 

The box is pretty small and minimal looking, it is fancier than previous Nexus packages. We get the following in the box:

 

  • USB Type C charger
  • USB Type C to USB Type C Cable
  • USB Type C to USB Type A Cable
  • 90 day google play music free trial
  • Sim tray removal pin

 

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Design and Feel:

 

The front of the device reminds me an awful lot of an iphone and galaxy device except with a speaker on the bottom and the lack of hard/capacitive buttons:

 

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On the back, we have subtle curves at the edges, which helps with comfort in the hand.

 

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On the right side we have the volume rocker and a textured power button, I would have liked the power button to be a bit further up as I am turning the screen on every time I pick the device up. The volume rocker feels a bit loose. In comparison, I much prefer the more clicky/tactile Nexus 5 buttons.

 

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On the left side, we have the SIM tray, which is opened by using the supplied pin:

 

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At the top we have the headphone jack and on the bottom we have the USB Type C port:

 

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There is no doubt that the "P" in the Nexus name means "Premium" as this phone is just that, the Aluminium body feels extremely nice to touch and of higher quality than plastic & glass phones, it reminds me of my old HTC one S with its Aluminium body and plastic strip at the bottom with all the logos on it, which still feels nice. The durability of the phone is still questionable and hopefully there will be some drop tests to show us how it will fare with regards to the screen, here's hoping that with the solid Aluminium construction and Gorilla Glass 4, the 6P will hold up well....

 

I have medium sized hands (length is about 7 and a half inches from the tip of my middle finger to the base of my hand) and I find the phone to be too big, I don't really have an issue with the width though, more the height, which bothers me as not only is it hard to reach the top of the screen but it is a nuisance for pockets too, as you can see below:

 

6TXWCxBh.jpg

 

Using Phonearenas size comparison tool, this is how it compares to my Nexus 5:

 

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I can't deny though that when I go back to the Nexus 5, it does feel like a toy in comparison but at the same time, it is considerably smaller with a grippy soft touch plastic, thus it just feels so much better for one handed usage.

 

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The phone is also very slippy and I'm finding it hard to pick up of a flat hard surface.

 

Regarding the colour, I would have preferred Graphite, although the Aluminium had a much earlier ETA for delivery so I just went with it. I also had some concerns with the graphite too i.e. it would show scratches and dents more easily and supposedly it is a finger print magnet. Aluminium isn't bad looking at all, it is very sleek and the silver chamfered sides look very good, a black carbon fibre dbrand skin on the back with those silver sides and the black front will look a lot better too.

 

Hardware & Display:

 

The specs of the 6P:

 

  • 3GB RAM
  • Snapdragon 810 CPU
  • Adreno 430 GPU
  • 32/64/128 GB Storage options
  • 12MP laser autofocus, dual LED flash with 1.55um pixels, 4K @ 30FPS
  • Front facing camera: 8MP, 1080P @ 30FPS 
  • USB C
  • 5.7" 2560x1440 AMOLED screen + Gorilla Glass 4 with an oleophobic coating
  • 3450 mAh battery
  • Front facing stereo speakers
  • Fingerprint sensor

 

As you can see, quite the spec list! The only thing, which I would like to have had is wireless charging.

 

As a result of the 810, 3GB RAM, adreno 430, the phone is extremely fast and smooth, it feels just that little bit more instant than my Nexus 5, which is also running Marshmallow. Also, I'm happy to confirm other reviewer's findings with regards to the lack of the over heating problem with the 810 chip, there is none and as far as I can tell, there is no throttling, if there is, it isn't causing any issues in day to day performance.

 

One of the new features on this Nexus phone is the fingerprint sensor i.e. Nexus Imprint, not only is it cool and secure, but it is super quick at unlocking your phone even when the screen isn't turned on, we are literally talking about less than 1 second for unlocking your phone. The placement of the sensor is very good too, initially it seems a bit odd but after a day of using it, you quickly realise it makes sense to have it on the back. Obviously if the phone is on the desk, you have to lift it up to use the scanner but you can also just unlock the phone like any other phone i.e. power button then enter your pin/pattern/password. You can save more than 1 fingerprint too.

 

h9eJqwhh.jpg

 

Ever since the HTC one M7 was announced, I have been wanting every device to move to front facing stereo speakers and thankfully it seems like almost every android device maker is moving to this at long last, I just can't describe just how much better the listening experience is with stereo speakers AND having them on the front as opposed to just one speaker, which is usually either on the bottom or back. In my experience, the 6P is easily up there with the HTC one boomsound stereo speaker.

 

Regarding WIFI speeds, I'm on Virgin Media 150MB package, the Nexus 6P has no problems getting that on 5GHZ, with 2.4GHZ, it gets a slightly slower speed:

 

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I can't give "real world" results for the battery life as I have not put my SIM card in it yet since I'm trying to decide if I can adapt to the larger size first... however, that aside, I can give you a rough idea as to the battery life without a SIM. With web browsing, youtube videos, some camera usage, wifi on all the time and the brightness slider to about 4/5 of the way, this is my latest usage:

 

WfTVUB0h.png 

 

Considering that there is no SIM card, I would have expected better battery life to be honest. With a SIM, I suspect that my battery will get half a day to a day less. So for now, my initial impression is that battery life isn't going to be very good, you should have no problems getting a full day of heavy usage though. If I do keep the 6P, I will update this once I have a SIM card in it.

 

I can vouch for the new Marshmallow feature "Doze", it works wonders when your phone is idle/asleep as you can see from the battery graph, and yes having a SIM in will drain the phone more but my Nexus 5 with a SIM has similar results when idle/asleep.

 

Regarding charging, the phone charges extremely quick using the supplied cable and charger, to charge from 18%, to 60%, it took about 30 minutes and to get to "fully charged" status, it took 1 hour and 21 minutes.

 

With an ifixit score of 2/10, you won't be able to repair the phone yourself should you drop it or/and want to replace the battery etc. 

 

The screen on the 6P is supposedly Samsung's latest AMOLED panel i.e. the one used in the note 5. It looks absolutely fantastic with its true blacks/infinite contrast ratio, great viewing angles (although from certain angles, you will get a pink, yellow, or blue hue depending on the content being displayed and what angle you are viewing it from), pin sharp with a PPI of 518. Out of the box, the colours are rather saturated i.e. colours, particularly blue look almost neon like, however, in the developer settings, we have a sRGB setting, which might seem dull at first, however, once your eyes adjust, you will soon realise it is a lot more accurate than the default setting. The screen with the Oleophobic coating feels  exceptionally smooth and seems to hold up relatively well against finger/greasy marks. Unfortunately my photos don't do the screen any justice though.

 

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As you can see in this photo, you also see more content on the 6P than my Nexus 5 1080P screen:

 

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My only complaint with the display is the brightness, when I first put it side by side with my Nexus 5, it seemed very dull, I had to more or less max the brightness setting in order to match the brightness of my Nexus 5 (set at half way brightness) (this could also just be due to the Nexus 5 having a higher gamma so things in general look brighter). However, it seems like this is either a bug or a deliberate setting to stop the brightness from going too high, possibly to reduce the chances of burn-in. When you disable adaptive brightness, the screen is a lot brighter, the downside to this is that you have to manually control the brightness for different lighting conditions. In sunlight, the display copes well, it is easy to make out content without the need for using your hand as cover.

 

Software:

 

Not much to say about a Nexus device other than, you don't have to worry about getting updates in a timely manner or bloat, this is the sole reason I go with Nexus over any other android phone.

 

The latest version of android is called Marshmallow and there isn't an awful lot of new features over Lollipop, the main things are Google now on tap, which will essentially take a screenshot of your screen and search for any articles, accounts etc. on the person, website etc. You can also control which permissions apps can have i.e. if you download a photo gallery app and it requests access to your contacts, you can disable that permission. We have seemingly reached a stage in the development of Android's operating system whereby Google is adding incremental refinements rather than a radical overhaul.  

 

 YdICgDwh.png

 

A few nice little tweaks to the Marshmallow on the 6P and 5X is the quick camera launch where you can tap the power button twice to open it, again this is very quick.

 

We also have ambient display, which is pretty much Motorola's feature where the screen will turn on when you move the device and show any notifications on a black screen, unfortunately, this doesn't work anywhere as well as Motorola's implementation, it is hit and miss when it activates and half the time, it won't even turn on or it will be delayed by about 5 seconds.... Thankfully we can disable it and use the RGB notification LED:

 

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Camera:

 

Overall the camera is very impressive, it might not have the most feature rich software/UI, however, the "overall" quality is fantastic and easily up there with all the other good smartphone cameras.

 

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With auto mode, you will get good photos 90% of the time, the tap to focus works quickly + accurately and creates a nice depth of field effect for macro shots, however, in some scenarios, the phone will pick the wrong mode and as a result, you have exposure problems as you will see with two photos below:

 

Spoiler

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I recommend keeping HDR+ on for night shots, it takes an extra second to process but the end result, you get a clearer, brighter and a less noisy photo. First photo is a normal shot and the second photo is HDR+:

 

Spoiler

img 

 

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img 

 

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And in exceptionally low lighting, in the following order: normal, HDR+ and with flash:

 

Spoiler

img 

 

img

 

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There is also a GIF feature using photos from the burst feature in the Google camera app, although it isn't good quality and as you can see, rather laggy:

 

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When I got my HTC one S, I loved the slow motion video recording. With this phone, it is back but in much better quality i.e. 720P @ 240FPS or 720P @ 120FPS

 

Within the google photo app, you can control which parts of the video playback in slow motion so those parts where nothing happens can be quickly played and the exciting parts played back in slow motion, however, a few problems with this:

 

  • These changes aren't universal i.e. if you upload the video to youtube or watch on your PC through a media player, the entire video is played back in slow motion
  • When using this feature in the Google photo app, the video appears to freeze at times, however, the sound continues to play

 

Coming from the Nexus 5 camera with OIS, I was concerned about videos and low light photography but I'm pleased to report that I haven't found it to be a massive issue on the 6P, low lighting photography seems to cope ok and the videos whilst not as smooth as my Nexus 5 still look decent enough, the auto focus seems to be a bit slow though.

 

To see 4k, 1080P and slow motion 240 + 120FPS videos, check my youtube channel out:

 

https://www.youtube.com/user/Nexus201991/videos

 

As you can probably tell, the stereo recording is of very good quality and picks up sound very easily.

 

Regarding the size, a 40 second clip for a 4k video is 107MB and the 1080P video is 43MB.

 

Considering EIC is a software implementation and the Sony Xperia z5, iphone 6 have a similar method but smoother video recording, I think Google should be able to improve this as well. As for the front camera, the quality is pretty good and we can also take HDR+ shots with the front camera:

 

kF98sPhh.png

 

With a screen of this size, framing your photo is a lot easier/better, however, I'm also finding it harder to take photos due to the size of the device, I feel that this is where having a dedicated camera shutter button on the side would really be of benefit.

 

And lastly, you can take RAW shots too, however, you have to use 3rd party apps such as manual camera, camera FV-5. Once again, I suspect that Google will add this feature to the camera app sometime soon... 

 

Conclusion:

 

For the first time ever, Google have nailed it, they have made a phone, which doesn't compromise any of the keys area, at least not to the same extent as previous nexus devices! Pretty much everything about this phone is great and there are only a few niggles. Whilst they have made this smaller than their previous Nexus 6, unfortunately it is still a very big phone and I would have much preferred for it to be thicker but smaller in height. I know that we have the choice of a smaller Nexus device i.e. the 5X but the problem is, the 6P is just better in almost every area and the price of the 5X is too high in comparison.

 

As for the pricing, I feel that Google have a fair price considering every thing that you are getting with the 6P, however, if you don't care about stock android, Nexus device for updates or having front facing stereo speakers then I feel that the likes of the LG G4, Note 4 & Galaxy s6 now hitting <£400 (and in the case of the LG G4 <£300) are also worth looking at.

 

Pros:

 

  • Great camera for all conditions
  • Great screen overall (especially with sRGB setting enabled)
  • Front facing stereo speakers
  • USB C
  • Fast charging
  • Nexus Imprint is extremely good
  • Choice of 32, 64 or 128GB
  • Nexus device so you never need to worry about updates
  • Stock android, thus no bloat
  • Great performance

 

Cons:

 

  • Size, mainly just the length that I find to be problematic
  • Slippy and hard to pick up of a hard surface especially when the screen is face down
  • With adaptive brightness on, the display is quite dim
  • Power and volume buttons don't feel as good as the Nexus 5
  • Video recording quality/focus and EIC stabilization could be improved
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+JHBrown

Thanks for the review. Looks like a great phone. 

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kingroach

Bought the phone and returned the next day. It seems to get hot if you watch videos for more than couple of minutes. Its not burning hot but you definitely feel the warmth. The phone feels a little fragile; that could be because I always use Motorola droid phones which are built like tank. But the biggest reason behind me returning the phone is that the visual voice mail doesn't work with verizon. Verizon doesn't have their free basic visual voice mail app in the play store. They only have the $2.99 premium voicemail app which I downloaded but couldn't get to work. 

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adrynalyne

Bought the phone and returned the next day. It seems to get hot if you watch videos for more than couple of minutes. Its not burning hot but you definitely feel the warmth. The phone feels a little fragile; that could be because I always use Motorola droid phones which are built like tank. But the biggest reason behind me returning the phone is that the visual voice mail doesn't work with verizon. Verizon doesn't have their free basic visual voice mail app in the play store. They only have the $2.99 premium voicemail app which I downloaded but couldn't get to work. 

Interesting reason to return it...you could have used Google Voice for visual voicemail and it is free.

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tsupersonic

Nice review. I want this phone, but I think it's too big. I would love if this device had the footprint of the original Nexus 5. 

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+Nexus18

Thanks, glad you all like the review :)

I didn't have any issues with heat at all, every recent android device that I have used will always get warm to touch when doing something like watching 1080P+ videos, gaming, charging etc. The 6P was no different in my experience, perhaps it gets slightly warmer but I can't say it is something that has really bothered me tbh.

Unfortunately I couldn't get use to the size, as mentioned in the review, it was just the height that really bothered me so I returned it last week :(

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+John Teacake

Spot on review fella!!

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Depicus

Great review, shame they put the buttons in the middle as I use my phone for gps and clamp it in the car so these would be problematic but otherwise looks great.

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neo1911

Excellent review. But you are missing the biggest Con for this device.

The Snapdragon 810 puts this phone on Insta No-buy list for me. That is proven failed design no matter how nicely Qualcomm try to repackage it V1, V2, V2.1. They all heat and throttle by little intensive tasks.

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dipsylalapo

Great review, shame they put the buttons in the middle as I use my phone for gps and clamp it in the car so these would be problematic but otherwise looks great.

Not really an issue is it? I think it's just the fingerprint scanner on the back so unless you're making a purchase whilst driving :p

The LG G4 has it's unlock buttons at the back too but you can also tap to unlock so makes it less of an issue. 

Great review by the way :)

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+Nexus18

Thanks :)

@dipsylalapo

I think he is referring to the buttons on the right side of the phone. I would be surprised if there wasn't a clamp out there that supported the 6p though! :p

@@d5aqoëp

I was also very wary of going with the phone due to the 810 chip being used as pretty much every phone that has the chip shows signs of throttling or/and heat problems with "real world usage" but honestly, from my use over a week, it really wasn't a problem at all with the 6P, I experienced no performance issues and didn't feel that the phone was getting any hotter than my nexus 7 2013 or N5. Androidcentral did an interesting article regarding this:

http://www.androidcentral.com/does-nexus-6p-get-hot

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Depicus

Not really an issue is it? I think it's just the fingerprint scanner on the back so unless you're making a purchase whilst driving :p

The LG G4 has it's unlock buttons at the back too but you can also tap to unlock so makes it less of an issue. 

Great review by the way :)

 

With the power button in the middle every time I go over a bump it would turn off :) 

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MikeChipshop

Great review. I picked this phone up last week and i've got to say your review is spot on.

For the size, it's fine for me because i tend not to take it out and about in my pocket, rather i have it in my bag and use it for work related stuff with two hands. So one handed use and portability wasn't a huge issue for me. I've yet to see any throttling or heat issues, despite using it with Netflix in a doctors waiting room for 25 mins!

I constantly miss the power button though, this is just muscle memory from my old Nexus 5 though and i'm sure i'll get used to it.

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dipsylalapo

@dipsylalapo

I think he is referring to the buttons on the right side of the phone. I would be surprised if there wasn't a clamp out there that supported the 6p though! :p

 

With the power button in the middle every time I go over a bump it would turn off :) 

 Yep that would make sense! My bad

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MikeChipshop

 

With the power button in the middle every time I go over a bump it would turn off :) 

 


Lucky i don't use mine for a sat nav! The state of the roads around here i would get as far as 2mins down the road and then i'd hear... "turn left at the ne... *powers off*" 

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tsupersonic


Lucky i don't use mine for a sat nav! The state of the roads around here i would get as far as 2mins down the road and then i'd hear... "turn left at the ne... *powers off*" 

 

Well...you should charge your phone while you use GPS, otherwise you will have excessive battery drain. 

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oldtimefighter

I have a Nexus 6P (graphite 64GB) that is about to ship... I am worried about the supposed back glass cracking issue and not a fan of the unibody aluminum phones but guess it wasn't a deal breaker for me.  Why Google jumped on that bandwagon I will never know. The people talking about the 820 and getting warm is really BS. My N5 feels warm if watch videos for a little while and the 6P is aluminum so where do you think the heat goes? Yeah, the phone will feel warm.

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      Performance with the Kirin 9000 is fine, as it is with all flagship chipsets. It's just frustrating that benchmarks are blocked.



      Obviously, there are still no Google services on Huawei devices, at least for now. That means that for most of the apps that you want to use, you need to find workarounds, which Huawei is pretty dedicated to helping you find. First of all, Phone Clone brings everything over from your old phone except for Google apps. That makes things nice and easy.

      If you need more apps, you can check AppGallery, but Huawei also has something called Petal Search. Petal Search checks trusted APK sites (it is definitely not perfect) and finds the app you're looking for. It even downloads and installs it for you. Unfortunately, it will not keep it updated for you.

      Living life without Google isn't very hard, at least in my experience. Obviously, I'm more of a Microsoft guy anyway, and Microsoft's apps are pretty standalone. For notes, I use OneNote, for cloud storage I use OneDrive, and so on. If you're glued to using Google, then you should already know that this isn't the phone for you.

      Battery life on the Mate 40 Pro is excellent, and I had no trouble getting through the day. The 4,400mAh battery gets the job done, but even if it doesn't, Huawei fast charging is just out of control. This thing supports 66W wired charging and 50W wireless charging. Even with the old 40W wired charging and 27W wireless charging, I was happy. At this point, you can get a lot of juice on just a little time charging.

      Conclusion
      Once again, Huawei has produced a winner in the Mate 40 Pro. However, it's a rare time that it doesn't have a key feature that would have me tell you to upgrade from its predecessor. The 90Hz display is new compared to the Mate 30 Pro, but the Mate 30 Pro had those beautiful waterfall edges. And besides, I'd like to see a 120Hz refresh rate in something this premium.



      It's also a real shame that benchmarking apps were blocked. One of the key features of the Mate 40 Pro, or any Mate series device for that matter, is that it has the latest Kirin processor and we get to see how it measures up against what Apple and Qualcomm have to offer. Sadly, we don't get to see how it measures up this time. Obviously, Google services would offer an easier experience, although that's not a deal-breaker for me.

      But overall, like I said, it's a winner. Benchmarking apps aren't what make a phone great. This thing has a beautiful 90Hz OLED display, even if I want 120Hz. It's also got a unique and bold design, something that Huawei is second to none at providing. And finally, it's got one of the best cameras on the market.

      If you want to check it out, you can find it here.

      As an Amazon Associate, Neowin may earn commission from qualifying purchases.

    • By indospot
      Samsung Galaxy Watch3 review: Stellar hardware, but I don't love Tizen
      by João Carrasqueira

      Samsung's summer Unpacked event brought with it quite a few new devices, including the Galaxy Note20 Ultra - which I just reviewed earlier this week - and the Galaxy Watch3. Samsung actually hadn't released a new standard Galaxy Watch since 2018, and in 2019 we only got the Galaxy Watch Active2.

      The biggest difference between the standard Galaxy Watch and Galaxy Watch Active is that the latter is more so designed for a sportier lifestyle, while the former has more of a business look to it. Samsung's smartwatches are often seen as some of the best options available for Android smartphones, so I was excited to try out the Galaxy Watch3.

      The most notable features added with this model are blood pressure monitoring and electrocardiograms (ECG), but these are only available in select markets, and that doesn't include Portugal - where I live. There are also things like blood oxygen monitoring and fall detection, and those do work regardless of region.

      Specs
      Chipset Exynos 9110 (dual-core 1.15GHz) Case 45mm x 46.11mm x 11.1mm, 53.8g, stainless steel case Display 1.4-inch Circular Super AMOLED, 360x360, Gorilla Glass DX Battery 340mAh

      RAM 1GB Storage 8GB Strap 22mm, black leather Connectivity Bluetooth, Wi-Fi Durability Water resistance up to 5ATM, IP68, MIL-STD-810G OS Tizen-based Wearable OS 5.5; OneUI Watch 2.0 Price $429.99/€447-€469.90/£419 Day one
      Design and display
      The Galaxy Watch3 is 14% thinner, 8% smaller, and 15% lighter than the previous generation of the Galaxy Watch, and I'm glad that's the case. Even with those reductions, the Galaxy Watch3 is significantly thicker than the OPPO Watch I reviewed in the summer, and I'd say that's a noticeable difference. It's not necessarily uncomfortable, though, and there are definitely bigger watches out there.



      Out of the box, my review unit came with a black leather strap, but I exercise with my smartwatches, and I couldn't bear the guilt of ruining the leather with sweat, so I ended up buying a cheap rubber strap at a local watch seller. That's the big advantage of watches that use standard strap fittings, you can easily find a replacement strap and you're not stuck in an ecosystem of potentially more expensive straps.



      Easily the thing that makes this watch stand out the most is the design of the case, particularly the bezel. Samsung uses a rotating bezel on its watches, which serves as a navigation method, and it's just so good. The precision of the clicks as you rotate the bezel make navigation feel natural, which is helped by the UI Samsung uses, and you don't have to smudge up your screen to do it. This is my favorite thing about this watch, it's just so cool to use this bezel and it has a premium feeling to it that's just great. I generally prefer rectangular displays, but this is the right way to do a circular one.



      The right side of the watch has two buttons - one to go back and one to go to the home screen. You can also hold the Home button to summon Bixby, or double-press it to see your recent apps. Between the two buttons is a microphone which you'll use when taking calls.

      On the left side, there's a tiny speaker grill, which you might think results in less than stellar sound, but it works just fine for calls, I had no issues whatsoever. The watch also has a feature to eject water out of the speaker if you take it swimming or something, which is cool.



      On the back, you'll notice that there are no charging pins, and that's because the watch charges wirelessly, a very welcome addition for anyone who's had chargers malfunction because of sweat building up in the connectors. You can charge the watch off the back of the Galaxy Note20 Ultra too, though I explained in that review why that might not be a good idea.



      The main attraction is, of course, the display, and as you'd expect from Samsung, it's pretty great. The 45mm variant of the Galaxy Watch3 has a 1.4-inch Super AMOLED display, though there's a 41mm variant with a 1.2-inch display. Both have the same resolution, so the pixel density is actually a bit higher on the smaller model. Like all AMOLED displays, blacks are truly black and colors look vibrant, everything is great here. The watch supports automatic brightness, so there's never any issues when I'm outside or anything. There's also an option for an always-on display, but I personally don't care about it.



      Tizen and its problems
      Like most of Samsung's smartwatches, the Galaxy Watch3 runs on Tizen, Samsung's own operating system designed primarily for wearables. What I hear most often is that people prefer Tizen over Google's Wear OS, but I have to be controversial here and say I prefer Google's offering.

      Tizen has a lot of great things to it, though. The amount of options for watch faces on this watch is incredible, and not only were there some faces I really like out of the box, there are even more great ones you can get from the Galaxy Store. I love informational and colorful watch faces, and I could find a few without too much trouble.

      Gallery: Galaxy Watch3 screenshots
      Samsung has also made it very intuitive to navigate the UI with its rotating bezel, making everything work together perfectly. You rotate the bezel to the left to see your notifications, or to the right to go through your widgets, which can be for weather, exercise shortcuts, sleep information, and more. Opening the app menu, you also see the circular layout for how apps are presented, and this too feels natural with the rotating bezel of the Galaxy Watch3. Every time I get to use that bezel, using this watch is a joy.

      Tizen offers some smart features I appreciate, like music playback controls (from your phone or the watch itself), and the ability to respond to notifications from the watch. I don't love the typing experience on the Galaxy Watch3, but it's nice to be able to do it if I want to, and not every smartwatch has that option. It also works especially well with Samsung phones, since apps like Reminder sync between the two devices, and you get access to Bixby just like on your phone. In fact, I'd say Bixby on Tizen works better than Google Assistant on Wear OS, in my experience.

      Samsung also has its own Health app, which is responsible for tracking workouts, monitoring your heart rate, stress levels, blood oxygen, and so on. Exercise tracking is pretty good here, with detailed insights into your performance and all the information I could want. There's also a running coach exercise option, which lets you set a specific level of exercise and guides you to achieve it, including the ability to detect asymmetry in your running patterns. On top of that, Samsung provides a ton of health tracking features, like stress monitoring, blood oxygen measurements, fall detection, and, in some markets, blood pressure monitoring and ECG.



      But there are some things about Tizen that just don't feel right to me for multiple reasons. Let's start with Samsung Health. Yes, it can track plenty of workouts, but one thing I was used to tracking with Google Fit or Huawei's LiteOS was my time playing Ring Fit Adventure. Since this goes over plenty of exercise types, I usually began tracking it as CrossFit, which both of those systems offer as an option. Tizen doesn't, and the only way I could track that kind of exercise would be if it individually recognized each type of workout, and even then I'd have to be switching between workout types constantly. There's also no high-intensity interval training (HIIT) option.

      Another thing Samsung Health does is automatically track workouts, something I first experienced on the Honor Watch GS Pro. It's usually a cool feature, but here, not only does it sometimes detect workouts when I'm not doing anything, automatic workouts don't work like regular workouts. Once the watch starts detecting a workout, you can't pause or cancel it yourself like you would with a workout you start manually. At that point, I'd rather just disable automatic workouts. Also, as you'll see in the screenshot below, some of these workouts were recorded in the future.

      But it gets even more annoying. Like most watches, this can track your heart rate, and like the aforementioned Honor Watch GS Pro, it can monitor your stress levels. Cool, right? Except that, out of the box, the watch measures your heart rate every 10 minutes, and for some reason, that doesn't allow it to measure your stress level automatically. To do that, you have to measure your heart rate continuously, which kills the battery in less than a day. You either have to constantly charge the watch or be limited to monitoring your stress levels manually. Coming from the no-frills stress monitoring of Honor watches, this just feels pointless.



      There's also sleep tracking here, which is cool since not every Wear OS watch offers it, and it's more detailed than what I tried with the OPPO Watch. But for some reason, I've had multiple instances where the watch asks me to confirm if I slept at the times it thinks I did, which was odd. But not as odd as the fact that it just didn't record any sleep at all over the weekend, even though I always wear the watch to sleep. There's no clear indication as to why this happens.

      Outside of Samsung Health, there are more things that bother me. One thing I've noticed is that sometimes the raise-to-wake gesture just stops working for no apparent reason. Disabling and re-enabling the gesture in the settings fixes it, so I don't think it's a hardware problem.

      I had also hoped that connecting all-Samsung devices would enable some useful features, specifically using my Galaxy Buds Live to start a workout on my watch through the Galaxy Note20 Ultra. It doesn't work, and Bixby says that's due to privacy reasons, so maybe I can't blame that on Samsung. Also, as I mentioned above, Samsung Reminder can sync with your Samsung phone. But as I mentioned in my review of the Note20 Ultra, creating a reminder with the phone syncs it with Microsoft To-Do. If you use the Galaxy Watch3, it will sync to your phone, but not to Microsoft's service.



      It's also worth mentioning that yes, connecting to a Samsung phone is required to enable Samsung Messages, which gives you the most complete SMS experience on your watch. But in reality, this just makes me feel like using a Wear OS watch would be much less limiting, since I can get a proper SMS experience on most Android phones. Samsung also says that you can see photos and emoji directly on the watch when using a Samsung phone, but using Telegram for instance, I could see images in my notifications when I connected the Honor 10X Lite. Weirdly enough, that doesn't work the same way when connected to the Galaxy Note20 Ultra.

      This may not be the fault of Samsung necessarily, but I'll just lay out all my frustrations with this watch. I was really happy to see that my preferred maps app, HERE WeGo, is available on Tizen, and when I set it up, I got this notification on my phone saying that the apps were linked between the two devices. But when I actually tried to use it a few days later, I couldn't get the connection to happen again, and the watch told me that using navigation without connecting to my phone would use more battery. But the watch was connected to the phone, the app just wasn't recognizing it anymore, and there's no way to force it to connect between devices.

      You may say that some of these things also can't be done on Wear OS, but I personally prefer it because it knows its limits. The OPPO Watch can only track sleep between 8PM and 10AM, so when I go to sleep at 5AM on the weekend, I know why the watch says I only slept 5 hours that night. On the Galaxy Watch3, I have no idea why no sleep was recorded at all. At the end of the day, these quirks just made me not enjoy using the watch, and it's heavily impacted my perception of it, even when it has some solid qualities.

      Performance and battery life
      Battery life on the Galaxy Watch3 is one of its notable upsides compared to Wear OS. Even with a relatively small 340mAh battery, the watch always lasts me two days comfortably, sometimes three days. That's not incredibly long, but it's much better than my experience with Wear OS, which only lasts me one day. Of course, that figure doesn't include using an always-on display and is based on heart rate monitoring once every 10 minutes instead of continuously. And because there's no great way to track CrossFit-like training, it's also not tracking exercise as often as other watches I've tried.



      Like I mentioned at the start, the watch charges wirelessly, which is great, though it doesn't charge as quickly as I'd like. Placing it on the charger at around 10% battery means I'll be waiting almost two hours for it to charge completely, which is a bit longer than I'd like.

      In terms of performance, there isn't much to say with smartwatches. For the most part, it works just fine, though I do find it a little strange that sometimes I'll raise my wrist and it takes a couple of seconds for the time to update from the last time I looked at the watch. Sometimes the watch will be quite a few minutes behind for a brief moment. It can also happen that some animations are laggy immediately after waking the watch, but that's not exclusive to this particular device.

      Conclusion
      The Samsung Galaxy Watch3 has some great qualities. The premium design is great and I absolutely adore the rotating bezel, it's easily the most unique thing about this watch, and also the best control interface for a smartwatch. It feels natural and prevents your screen from getting too dirty. It has a beautiful AMOLED display and solid audio for calls as well.



      And Tizen isn't a bad platform necessarily. It has all the smart features I love to have on a smartwatch, like notification replies, music playback, tons of watch faces to choose from, and solid exercise tracking with cool features like the running coach. But there are many quirks to the software and decisions or errors that I just don't understand. I know Tizen is one of the older wearable platforms, but as someone who experiences Google's Wear OS and Huawei's LiteOS first, it feels like Tizen tries to take bits from one and add it to the other, but most of it ends up feeling undercooked.

      With the Samsung Galaxy Watch3 being one of the most expensive smartwatches you can get, and with it requiring a Samsung phone to make full use of its features, it's hard to wholeheartedly recommend it. But it does have a stellar design, and while there are a few flaws, Tizen still offers a lot of what you'd expect and want in a smartwatch. It's still a fine choice if you're okay with its limitations.

      If you're interested, you can find it on Amazon UK, where it's currently starting at £339 instead of £399 for the 41mm size. The 45mm variant in this review is going for £349 instead of £419. In the U.S., the 41mm variant is discounted to $339 instead of $399.99, and the 45mm version is $369, down from $429.99. Those prices are for Bluetooth versions, and can go up from there.

    • By Rich Woods
      Microsoft is once again reportedly bringing Android apps to Windows
      by Rich Woods



      When Microsoft first introduced Windows 10, it promised a series of "bridges" to bring apps to the Windows Store, which is now called the Microsoft Store. Project Centennial brought Win32 apps to the Store, Project Westminster was for hosted web apps, Project Islandwood let developers recompile an iOS app with minimal modifications, and Project Astoria would actually allow Android APKs to be installed and run on Windows.

      Project Astoria was the only one that never actually shipped (other than in Insider Previews), and it was pronounced dead in February 2016. As it turns out, not all was lost. It evolved into the Windows Subsystem for Linux as we know it today.

      According to a new report from Windows Central's Zac Bowden, Microsoft once again has a plan to bring Android apps to Windows 10. This time it's called Project Latte, and it will be based on the Windows Subsystem for Linux. Being that WSL supports GUI apps now and GPU acceleration, there's a stronger basis for getting this to work properly.

      The reasons that Project Astoria was killed off are still unclear. According to Microsoft, it was just too confusing for developers to have both an iOS and an Android bridge. Unofficially, some people said it was never good enough for production, while others said it was too good, with Microsoft fearing that Astoria could cannibalize its own UWP app ambitions.

      Of course, Microsoft ruined that all on its own, and native Windows apps are no longer where the firm feels it needs to be. With Your Phone, you can basically stream Android apps to your PC, going so far as to add shortcuts for them. The next step is getting them to run natively.

      Limitations of Project Latte don't really sound any different than they were for Project Astoria. Developers won't need to make any major modifications, but of course, there won't be any Google Play Services support. There's just no way that Microsoft could get that up and running while companies like Huawei have failed.

      As for when this will arrive, Bowden is expecting it to show up in the fall 2021 update, which is expected to be a major one. We'll see x64 emulation on ARM PCs, an overhauled UI, and more.

    • By indospot
      Samsung Galaxy Note20 Ultra review: almost everything you want, for a price you don't
      by João Carrasqueira

      Samsung has been considered one of the top Android smartphone manufacturers for some time now, and we hear about how great the Galaxy S and Note series are every year. Until now, I had never had the chance to use the company's high-end smartphones for an extended period, so I was excited to get the chance to review the Galaxy Note20 Ultra.

      Being that I live in Europe, I got stuck with the Exynos variant of the phone, and while I can't personally speak to the differences between Exynos and Snapdragon models, Samsung's chipsets definitely have a less than stellar reputation. Still, this is Samsung's "everything phone", meaning it delivers almost everything you would want a phone to do, and then some.

      It's not all amazing, though, and while it's a very capable smartphone, the exorbitant price tag of €1,339.90 is hard to swallow. In fact, I can say right now that this isn't a phone you should buy - at least not at this price.

      CPU Exynos 990 (Octa-core) - two 2.73GHz custom cores, two 2.5GHz Cortex-A76, four 2.0GHz Cortex-A55 GPU Mali-G77 MP11 Display 6.9 inches, 1440x3088, 525ppi, 120Hz FHD or 60Hz QHD, Dynamic AMOLED 2X Body 161.9x73.7x7.8mm (6.37x2.90x0.31in), 186g (6.56oz) Camera 108MP main + 12MP ultra-wide + 12MP telephoto, Front - 10MP Video 8K - 24fps, 4K - 60fps, HDR10+, Front - 4K - 60fps Aperture f/1.8 + f/2.0 + f/3.0, Front - F/2.2 Storage 256GB UFS 3.0 RAM 12GB Battery 4,500mAh, 25W fast charging 5G Sub6 + mmWave Color Mystic Bronze, Mystic Black, Mystic White OS Android 10 with OneUI 2.5 Price €1309 - €1,339.90; £1,179 Day one
      Design
      Samsung's Galaxy Note series is typically responsible for the company's largest phones, and that certainly holds true here. The Note20 Ultra feels massive, and almost to a fault. I like being able to use phones with one hand, but this phone makes me constantly feel like I don't have a good enough grasp on it. The phone's backplate has a satin-like finish that feels nice to the touch, but it adds to the feeling that this phone can slip out of my hand at any time. Altogether, this has made it so that I don't want to use the phone a lot of the time. I do like the Mystic Bronze color, though.



      The camera bump on this phone is absolutely massive, too, and while that's not something you'll feel all the time, it's noticeable. Laying it down on a table, the phone will rock much more than any other phone I've tested, but again, that shouldn't be something that affects the way you use the phone.



      One thing I find interesting about the Galaxy Note20 Ultra's design is that the top and bottom sides of the phone are completely flat. It makes the phone feel more substantial, but it also makes it more comfortable in a way, since I almost always hold my phones so that the bottom edge is resting on my little finger. Speaking of which, the bottom edge houses the bottom-firing speaker, a USB Type-C port, a microphone, and of course, the S Pen that makes this phone unique.



      The top edge is a lot cleaner, with another microphone and the SIM card slot.



      Over on the right side, there's the power button that can also be used to summon Bixby, along with the volume rocker.



      The left side of the phone is completely clean, which is probably helped by the fact that that's where the S Pen is stored.



      Display, S Pen, and sound
      The Samsung Galaxy Note20 Ultra packs a huge 6.9-inch display, and to be absolutely clear, this is the best-looking phone display I've ever used. Everything here is just stellar, with beautiful and vivid colors, pure blacks, smooth animations thanks to the 120Hz refresh rate, and no color distortions or issues I could complain about. The punch-hole for the selfie camera is also the smallest I've seen yet, or at least it feels that way because of the sheer size of the display. I'd say, as far as visuals go, this display is pretty much perfect. The only potential downside is that you can't use QHD+ and 120Hz at the same time. There's also an ultrasonic fingerprint sensor under the display, which works fine, though it's not as fast as the optical sensors most other phones use.



      Using it, though, can be a different story. My complaints about the phone's size are exacerbated by the huge display and the curved edges at the sides. Not only is the phone somewhat hard to hold, typing with a single hand can be torture, not because I can't reach both sides of the screen, but because whenever I reach over to the A key, my hand touches the delete button, so words keep disappearing from my texts. I thought this was a bug with Samsung's keyboard for a while until I realized I was deleting words by accident. It's become more and more common to hear arguments against the use of curved edges, and it becomes an even bigger problem at this size.

      Of course, what makes the Note series special is the S Pen, and that definitely holds true here in my opinion. When you pop the S Pen out of its slot, you get a list of shortcuts to common S Pen actions and apps, like drawing on a screenshot, taking notes, or open apps like PENUP, where you can get more creative and color some images to share with the community. Some of the S Pen's features can be considered gimmicks and novelties, but they can be quite fun to use.



      Beyond being fun, though, the S Pen is just a very useful tool in my opinion. Samsung's handwriting keyboard works really well, and when I'm standing or sitting still, it's my favorite way to type on this phone. It feels natural and it's almost never annoying, which I can't say for some other handwriting experiences like my laptop (a late 2017 HP Envy x360, for reference). One of the features that's been added in recent iterations of the S Pen is the ability to convert handwritten notes in the Samsung Notes app to plain text, and it's also great to have. Even better, you don't even need to convert it for the text to be searchable, you can just search for the words you want, and if you wrote them with the pen, they will still show up.



      Recent iterations of the S Pen have also added support for Air Gestures, which are quick shortcuts to a number of actions, which can change based on the app you're using if developers want to hook into the feature. One gesture I personally find useful is shaking the S Pen to start drawing on a screenshot of the current screen. You can also use the S Pen as a remote shutter button for the Camera app, which is another great use case for it.

      As for sound, The Galaxy Note20 Ultra has a bottom-firing speaker and an amplified earpiece for stereo sound, and it's pretty good. It gets fairly loud and the audio comes out clean without any distortion that I can detect. I don't think it's the loudest I've heard, but it doesn't leave much to be desired.

      Camera
      The Galaxy Note20 Ultra packs a triple-camera setup on the back, comprised of a 108MP primary camera, a 12MP wide-angle, and another 12MP periscope camera for telephoto shots with 5x optical zoom and up to 50x digital zoom. As I've mentioned in other reviews, this kind of setup is my favorite, with the ability to zoom in and out at a wide range of levels. All of these cameras produce 12MP shots by default, since the main sensor uses Samsung's "Nonacell" technology, combining nine pixels into one, though you can switch to 108MP mode if you want to.

      Results from these cameras are generally good, but I'm not completely sold on them. I'd heard a few times about Samsung phones' tendency to oversaturate shots, and I can definitely see that happening here. Some shots crank up the saturation much more than they should, and while it can look pretty, I try to judge cameras on how accurately they represent what I'm seeing, so I don't let personal preference play as much of a role. In many situations, especially during the day, the Note20 Ultra doesn't do that very well.

      Gallery: Galaxy Note20 Ultra samples
      One thing I have to give Samsung credit for is the consistency of the images from all three of the cameras. It's really easy with three different sensors for shots to change significantly depending on whether you're using the main camera or the telephoto, but the cameras here are fairly consistent, though it depends on the situation.

      Samsung packed a lot of camera features into this phone, and the company has most often highlighted Single Take, a feature that captures a series of photos and videos over a few seconds and save what it considers the best ones. This can be useful if you're taking pictures of moving subjects, for example. It must be noted, however, that Single Take is not exclusive to the Note20 Ultra. There's also a Pro Video mode, which I personally find more interesting. It gives you a handful of manual controls for focus, white balance, directional audio recording, and more, so you can adjust it all on the fly while recording.



      There are some omissions that I find weird, though, like the fact that the ultra-wide angle camera can't double as a macro camera, like many other high-end phones do. For a phone that's about being able to do everything, that's something I would have liked to have.

      Performance and battery life
      As I noted at the start, I have the European variant of the Galaxy Note20 Ultra, which means it's powered by the Exynos 990 chipset, developed by Samsung itself. It's still a flagship processor, and you won't really see much in the way of slowdowns or anything like that, but I have had some problems with this phone.

      For example, while using it for navigation with the HERE WeGo app, if I turn off the screen, it simply stops giving me directions, and I need to turn it on for the phone to locate me again. I don't currently have a way to hold the phone where I can see the screen while I'm driving, so it's not uncommon for me to rely on just voice directions, but I can't do that with this phone. Of course, I can't say for sure that has to do with the chipset being used here, but it's the first time I notice this issue with one of my phones. And yes, the app is allowed to run and get location access in the background.

      Setting that aside, let's take a look at benchmarks to see how the Note20 Ultra measures against other flagships. First, we have AnTuTu, which is a general benchmark:



      Right away, you can see a notable difference between this and the Snapdragon variant of the phone, but it's no slouch either. Next up is Geekbench 5, a CPU test:



      In terms of single-core performance, the Exynos 990 seems to outperform the Snapdragon 865 in the OnePlus 8 family, but it gets handily beaten in multi-core performance. Finally, GFXBench tests the GPU:



      Moving on to battery life, I was again disappointed by this phone. In the first couple of days, I was having to charge the phone long before I went to bed, even after trying to moderate my usage more than usual. At one point I was at 7% battery by 7PM, after unplugging the phone at around 9:15AM, and without anything that could be considered heavy usage. It turns out that one of my apps had been draining more battery than usual in the background, and after disabling background activity for it, the Galaxy Note20 Ultra usually got me through the day, but it's still not amazing.

      With a sizable 4,500mAh battery, I really expected a lot more, but this is worse than something like the OPPO Find X2 Pro with its smaller 4,050mAh battery. Samsung offers Wireless PowerShare so you can wirelessly charge other devices off of this phone, but I never want to do that because the phone itself is more likely to be dead by the end of the day than my watch or earbuds are. I can't speak to whether this also applies to Snapdragon variants of this phone, but this is what you're getting if you buy it in Europe, and it's not great. The phone also supports 25W charging, which is fine, but pales in comparison to the aforementioned Find X2 Pro.

      Software and Microsoft integrations
      The Galaxy Note20 Ultra is running Android 10 and OneUI 2.5, though Android 11 should be on the way soon. As I mentioned in my review of the Galaxy A51 back in March, Samsung's OneUI is one of the most complex skins in the Android universe, and I don't really love it. It constantly gives me a feeling that there's something I might be supposed to try out, but I just don't know how to find it. With this being my second Samsung phone review, I'm a bit more comfortable with it by now, but I still get that feeling sometimes. One thing Samsung fixed, though, is that the Android 10 navigation gestures now work with third-party launchers.

      All the features I mentioned in my previous review are still here, but one of the things that makes Samsung phones stand out these days is the deep link between Samsung apps and services and Microsoft's equivalent services, as well as specific features of the Your Phone app for Windows 10.

      In terms of integration between specific apps, we have OneDrive replacing Samsung Cloud in the My Files app and as the sync service for photos on the Gallery app; Samsung Notes syncing with the OneNote Feed, which you can access in Outlook on the web or the OneNote app for Windows 10; and Samsung Reminders syncing with Microsoft To Do.



      These things work fine, and they can make it simpler to have these items sync across your phone and PC, but I have a hard time seeing them as a big selling point considering you can just install those Microsoft apps on your phone. Sure, it's easier to keep using the same apps, but most of these links aren't linked by default or prompted to you visibly, so it's not that much easier to set up than just installing the Microsoft apps you want. However, the Samsung Reminders integration is pretty cool, since you can make it work with Bixby, which makes it easier to create reminders with your voice. Of course, that comes with the downside of using Bixby.

      As for Your Phone, the capabilities of the app have grown, and they're actually very nice to have. Now, not only can you see your phone's screen on your PC, you can open individual apps from your phone, and even pin them to the taskbar as if they were PC apps, and run them simultaneously. There are quite a few times when I want to check something out on my phone quickly and I don't want to have to shift my attention away from my PC screen, so this is awesome. You can even drag and drop files between your phone and PC this way, it's really cool. What's more, you can also enable clipboard sync, so copied items on the PC show up on your phone and vice versa.



      Galaxy Buds Live
      In addition to the Galaxy Note20 Ultra, Samsung also sent me the Galaxy Buds Live, and while I'm not exactly an audio expert, it's worth talking about the overall experience. I quite like the aesthetic of the Buds Live, and Mystic Bronze is probably the best color to get here, just because it sticks out a lot less from most skin tones and makes them pretty subtle. I find them comfortable enough, but every now and then I get this feeling that they're not secure enough and they might fall off. They have never fallen off accidentally, even when riding my bike at high speeds, but the in-ear tip design of other earbuds feels a bit safer to me.



      Setting up the Galaxy Buds Live is especially easy with a Samsung phone like the Note20 Ultra, and as you pop the case open, they show up on your phone, ready to connect. In fact, the Buds Live are even supported by Windows 10's Swift Pair feature, so they also show up on your PC if they're not paired with another device yet. The process of connecting to other phones is like any other pair of true wireless earbuds.

      It's also pretty easy to switch between devices with the Buds Live, though it's not as seamless as what Apple touts with its AirPods, for example, where it automatically switches to wherever you have media playing if you have a bunch of Apple devices. Here, you can just head into the Bluetooth settings on a paired device and connect to the earbuds, even if they're currently connected and playing media somewhere else. It requires more action from the user, but it's a seamless process and it works well.



      The big selling point of the Buds Live compared to Samsung's other earbuds is the active noise cancellation, but if that's the reason you're considering them, I can tell you it's not worth it. At first, I had to repeatedly turn ANC on and off because I was never sure if it was enabled or not. The only situation where I could notice a real difference was when I was sitting in my car with the AC on, and the earbuds did make the noise slightly quieter, but not by much. A better test might be with plane engine rumble on a flight, but that's not something I can do right now.

      The Galaxy Buds Live have touch controls, but I was somewhat disappointed that there aren't swipe gestures like some other premium earbuds have. Because of this, volume controls have to come at the cost of some other features, like activating my voice assistant or enabling active noise cancellation. This isn't a huge problem because I usually have a smartwatch connected as well, but having to pull out my phone for these actions would be annoying.



      As for sound, the Galaxy Buds Live are alright, but as I've stated before, I'm not an audio expert. Switching from my PC speakers to the Buds Live, I do feel like the sound is a little less clean with the earbuds, but that could just be because they're earbuds instead of the large drivers you can get with PCs or even phones.

      It's also worth noting that the Galaxy Buds Live charge in the case, and the case itself charges via USB Type-C, as it should. It also supports wireless charging, and you can charge off the back of the Galaxy Note20 Ultra, as I mentioned above. I haven't had to do this, though, because the battery life on the earbuds has been solid and I've never had to charge them beyond the first charge when I got them.



      Conclusion
      As far as its role of being Samsung's "everything phone" goes, the Note20 Ultra does a good enough job. It has a huge, gorgeous display, the S Pen, solid stereo speakers, premium design, and some cool exclusive features to boot, like the links with Windows 10 and other Microsoft apps and services. It does a lot of things well enough, and is even the best at some of them, like the amazing display and the S Pen features.

      But as a phone with a standard form factor that costs €1,339, there are a bit too many shortcomings to overlook. The camera is good, but not amazing, and the consistent oversaturation can get annoying. The huge display is good for media consumption, but the curved edges are prone to accidental touches, and the overall size of the phone makes it hard to use with one hand. And while performance in general terms is good, battery life on this Exynos model is far from what you'd expect of a 4,500mAh battery. I'm also just not a big fan of OneUI, but that's less of a problem.



      Most of those things aren't necessarily huge problems. But what is huge is the price tag for this phone, at €1,339.90. I think the Galaxy Note20 Ultra is a really good phone. It's just not a phone that should ever cost as much as it does, even in the context of other incredibly expensive phones like the iPhone 12 Pro Max or - a personal favorite of mine - the OPPO Find X2 Pro.

      That said, if you're interested, you can find it on Amazon UK, where it's currently discounted to £929, a much better deal. That price only applies to the Mystic White version, though, and it goes up from there. Over in the U.S., you can get the Snapdragon variant with 128GB of internal storage, which is discounted to $1,049.99. The Galaxy Buds Live can be had for $139.99 (currently $30 off) in the U.S., and in the UK starting at £103.16.

    • By Namerah S
      Sennheiser CX 400BT True Wireless review: A battery that just doesn't give in
      by Namerah Saud Fatmi

      With the rise in popularity of truly wireless earphones, hundreds of brands and companies have come up with their take on the audio device concept. Today's review will take a look at Sennheiser's latest creation: the CX 400BT TW earbuds. Sitting a tier below the premium MOMENTUM True Wireless 2, the CX 400 BT buds were designed to deliver superior sound quality with everyday usage in mind.

      The real question is whether the CX 400BT can stand their ground against alternatives with similar price points from competitors like Jabra or Sony. At an asking price of $199.95, no ANC and a lack of an IP rating, will the world-renown German engineering fail to deliver? Let's find out.

      Specs
      Weight 49 grams (6g each earbud + 37g charging case) Design In-ear, closed acoustics Connectivity Bluetooth 5.1 | USB Type-C Battery 5V, 600 mA | Up to 7 hrs, 20 hrs with charging case Speaker Sennheiser 7mm dynamic driver Frequency response 5Hz to 21,000Hz Frequency response (microphone) 100Hz to 10kHz Total harmonic distortion <0,08% (1kHz / 94dB) Codecs SBC, AAC, aptX Supported Profiles A2DP, AVRCP, HSP, HFP



      Design


      Right off the bat, the CX 400BT TW earbuds have a nice premium feel to them. The truly wireless earphones come in a matte silicone case with glossy highlights here and there which accent the finishing of the product. As it has a matte coat, the charging case does not track any fingerprints. It also has a nice weight to it, neither too light nor too heavy.

      Turn the case around and you will find a USB-C charging slot (a compatible cable comes in the box), a small LED light and a button - the only physical button on the entire device. You can press the button to learn the battery status of the earbuds. If the battery is high, the light flashes green, if it's been used about midway, it blinks yellow, and if the charge is low, it turns red.



      Moving on to the stars of the show, the earbuds that are housed inside the silicone case are small, sleek and ergonomic. Each individual earbud has a touch panel on its exterior to navigate controls. The right earbud has three tiny little holes in a corner which are barely visible. These serve as the microphone. You can tap each bud once, twice or hold down to trigger different controls such as pause, play, volume controls, voice assistant, and answering or declining calls.

      Owing to the small size and squarish design of the earbuds, they fit in nice and snug when worn. I found no issues while wearing and using them for long periods of time. Rather, I would often forget that they were on in the first place. Contrary to my fears, the buds are not prone to falling out either. Overall, it was a very comfortable wear experience.



      One of the biggest disappointments for me was the lack of an IP rating on this thing. Although it also lacks active noise cancellation, the water and dust resistance certification is a bigger priority for me personally. Through an unfortunate incident, I was able to discover that despite the missing IP rating, the CX 400BT earphones are considerably durable.

      While walking to work one unlucky morning, I happened to drop the case in a nearby pool of drain water. My immediate reaction was to pick it up and douse clean water all over it. After several hours of sanitization and intense cleaning up with tissues at my workplace, I was amazed to find out that the earbuds were working just as good as before! Following this incident, I think from a durability standpoint, the CX 400BT are pretty good despite not having any sort of resistance certification.

      Performance


      Speaking of the actual performance of the Sennheiser TW earbuds, the sound quality is simply excellent. Music and calls sound very crisp and clear, and the bass and treble also sound great. Though it doesn't have ANC, the in-ear closed acoustic technology manages to shut out outside noise very well. The only time when I could hear external sounds with the CX 400BT on was in the midst of heavy traffic and even that was reduced to a low, barely audible hum.

      The microphone works pleasingly well, despite the petite nature of the buds and their distance from the mouth. As for the touch panels, they are also great and respond perfectly without any accidental touches. All controls are completely customisable and can be changed via Sennheiser's mobile phone app. It is called Smart Control and is available for Android and iOS. It also has an equalizer, allowing users to adjust the sound preferences to their liking.

      Battery life


      On paper, the battery specifications state that the earbuds can stay alive for up to seven hours with continuous playback. When factoring in the silicone case, the battery life is further extended to a cap of 20 hours of back-to-back playback. I decided to put this to the test and my results were well above satisfactory.

      After fully charging up the CX 400BT, I was able to use the TW earphones (including the case) for 14 days straight. I tend to listen to music while working, so the actual playback time according to my estimates would be about 21 hours of real-world usage. Once drained, it took me 1hr 6m to charge the case back up fully, as opposed to the 1hr 30m official charge time. The results speak for themselves, the battery life deserves applause.

      Conclusion


      In the end, I would say that if you're an average Joe living the nine to five corporate life but have a penchant for music on the go (coupled with a tendency to be clumsy like me), these earbuds will work as a fabulous fit. The sound quality is wonderful, they look really stylish and are very comfortable to wear.

      Some other plus points that make up for the lack of ANC and IP rating are the unexpectedly good durability and the easy-to-use controls. Add to that the brilliant battery life and you have an absolute winner on your hands.

      If you're looking to buy a pair of Sennheiser's CX 400BT TW earbuds, you can purchase them for a temporarily discounted price of $129.98 from Amazon.

      As an Amazon Associate, Neowin may earn commission from qualifying purchases.