ASUS

ASUS

New & upcoming Android phones (January 2017)

2017 is upon us and we’ve already seen the first smartphone announcements of the year in the form of the HTC U Ultra, Asus ZenFone AR, and the US release of the Huawei Mate 9. There’s also plenty of rumors swirling around LG, Samsung, and even Huawei’s next flagships.

In the first half of this post we talk about new Android phones that have either been formally announced or have been on the market for 90 days or less. In the second part we turn on our crystal balls and talk about phones that have yet to be confirmed, pointing out some of the biggest rumors we’ve been hearing so far.

So without further ado, let’s take a look at some of the most interesting upcoming and new devices heading our way in the hopefully not too distant future!

See also:

Best Android phones

3 weeks ago

New Android phones

HTC U Ultra

New & upcoming Android phones (January 2017)

Things have been rough for HTC over the last few years, despite their best attempts to change the company’s falling fortunes. Enter the HTC U Ultra. The Ultra breaks some of the company’s traditions moving away from the HTC numbered nomenclature and ditching metal in favor of a glass-clad design.

While the HTC 11 is still expected to happen later in the year, the U Ultra currently stands as the company’s flagship, with the U Play filling the mid-range niche. 

Spec wise, the HTC U Ultra offers flagship worthy specs including a Snapdragon 821 processor with 4GB RAM and a solid (on paper at least) camera package. Whether that is enough to gain HTC the much needed attention it is after? Only time well tell for sure. The HTC U Ultra has already been formally announced but won’t hit the market until March this year. However, if you are interested you can pre-order now.

Specs

  • 5.7-inch Super LCD5 display with Quad HD resolution
  • 2.15 GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 processor
  • 4GB of RAM
  • 64/128GB of on-board storage, microSD card expansion up to 2TB
  • 12 MP HTC Ultrapixel 2 camera, 16MP front camera
  • Non-removable 3,000 mAh battery
  • Android 7.0 Nougat with Sense
  • 162.41 x 79.79 x 3.6-7.99mm, 170g

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Pre-order now

Asus Zenfone AR

New & upcoming Android phones (January 2017)

The ZenFone line started out pretty modestly back in 2015 but over the years it has evolved quite a bit and this year it is set to climb even further heights. At CES 2017 Asus formally announced the ZenFone AR, the world’s first high-end Tango-powered handset.

Powered by a Snapdragon 821 processor with a whopping 8GB of RAM, the ZenFone AR is the very definition of a powerhouse device. Other key specs include a 5.7-inch QHD Super AMOLED display, a 23MP rear cam, and all the special cameras and sensors required for Tango’s AR functions. Additionally, the AR will be completely ready for Google’s Daydream VR platform and will even offer its own VR headset that works with the standard.

As for when it is coming? That’s a less easy to answer question. Asus is no stranger to announcing phones and then waiting forever to actually launch them. For Asus’ part they currently suggest a Q2 launch, though exactly when in Q2 remains a mystery.  Nonetheless, this is certainly a phone worth looking out for.

Specs

  • 5.7-inch 1440×2560 Super AMOLED
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 821
  • 8GB of RAM
  • 32/64/128/256 GB of on-board storage, microSD card expansion up to 256GB
  • 23 MP rear camera, 8MP front camera, extra cameras and sensors included for Tango experience
  • Non-removable 3,300mAh battery
  • Android 7.0 Nougat
  • 158.7 x 77.7 x 9 mm, 170g

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OnePlus 3T

New & upcoming Android phones (January 2017)

We weren’t expecting OnePlus to release another new flagship in 2016, but it happened. If you were a fan of the OnePlus 3, you’ll certainly love the OnePlus 3T. While it has been around for a little bit now, it’s still relatively new enough to make this list for now.

With its powerful Snapdragon 821 processor backed by 6GB of RAM, the 3T absolutely flies through web browsing, gaming and most other everyday tasks. It also has a bigger battery this time around (3,400mAh to be exact), which is more than enough to get you through a full day of use on a single charge. In addition, the 3T now sports 16MP rear and front-facing camera sensors, a dual-SIM card slot, plenty of on-board storage, and a fast front-facing fingerprint sensor on the front.

Basically the OnePlus 3T is a better OnePlus 3, and we’re certainly not complaining. You can buy it right from OnePlus’ website in Gunmetal and Soft Gold color options.

Specs

  • 5.5-inch Optic AMOLED display with 1920 x 1080 resolution, 401ppi
  • 2.35GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 821
  • 6GB of RAM
  • 64/128GB of on-board storage, no microSD card expansion
  • 16MP rear camera, 16MP front camera
  • Non-removable 3,400mAh battery
  • Android 7.0 Nougat
  • 152.7 x 74.7 x 7.35mm, 158g

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Buy now from OnePlus

Huawei Mate 9

New & upcoming Android phones (January 2017)

Huawei has done a great job at making its way to the mainstream over the past few years – first with the Huawei P9, and now with the Mate 9. While the Mate 9 has been on the market since late 2016, in January the company finally brought its flagship over to the US, making it a very new device for the US market and marking the first time we’ve ever seen a high-end Huawei flagship in the states.

With a big 5.9-inch display, powerful Kirin 960 processor, dual-SIM capabilities, and an impressive camera setup, the Mate 9 may be one of the best big phones of the year. While its display is ‘only’ 1080p and its software is a bit odd sometimes, we still think the high price tag is worth it. If you’re after a smartphone that offers exceptional battery life and incredible performance, the standard Mate 9 delivers in spades. If money is no object and you want a smartphone that is unattainable to most customers, the Porsche Design Mate 9 might be worth your while.

Specs

  • 5.9-inch IPS LCD display with 1920 x 1080 resolution, 373ppi
  • Octa-core Hisilicon Kirin 960 processor
  • 4GB of RAM
  • 64GB of on-board storage, microSD expansion up to 256GB
  • Dual 20 and 12MP rear cameras, 8MP front camera
  • Non-removable 4,000mAh battery
  • Android 7.0 Nougat
  • 156.9 x 78.9 x 7.9mm, 190g

Read more

Buy now from Amazon

Upcoming phones

Samsung Galaxy S8

New & upcoming Android phones (January 2017)

Unofficial render of the Galaxy S8 based on rumors

With Samsung pulling the plug on the Note 7, it’s only natural that rumors would turn to the Samsung Galaxy S8. While the handset isn’t expected until sometime in late April (based on most recent rumors), there are a number of alleged features heading to the device.

First, the Galaxy S8 will reportedly offer up two variants. Previously it was believed they would  be 5.1-inch and 5.5-inch in size. More recently, we’ve seen an image leak that lends credence to a claim that Samsung is significantly jumping up screen sizes to 5.7 and 6.2-inches. While that seems pretty massive, these larger sizes are said to be achievable in much smaller than expected packages thanks to slim bezels, curved displays, and a tall screen ratio that sees Samsung ditch its physical keys in favor of software buttons.

Other rumors claim that Samsung will introduce a dual camera setup and will offer different processor configurations depending on the market: Snapdragon 835 or Exynos 8895. None of these changes are that unexpected, given Samsung’s past behaviors in terms of using mixed processors and adapting to new technology trends. Obviously there’s a lot unknown about this device, but below you’ll find some of the rumored specs — just keep in mind this list will be updated as we hear more.

Unconfirmed specs

  • Standard model: 5.7-inch AMOLED QHD, curved
  • Phablet model: 6.2-inch AMOLED (possibly 4K), curved
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 or Exynos 8895, depending on market
  • No solid rumors on RAM, but likely in the 4 to 6GB range
  • No solid details on storage, microSD or external UFS likely
  • 16MP/8MP dual camera setup
  • Rear mounted fingerprint scanner a possibility, that or an under-the-glass front scanner
  • Non-removable battery
  • Android Nougat

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LG G6

New & upcoming Android phones (January 2017)

LG G5 pictured above.

While the LG G5 attempted to really change up the way LG designed its phones, ultimately it didn’t end up faring all that well in the market. The whole modular thing didn’t catch on quite like they had hoped, and frankly so many other OEMs were doing a better job last year that LG found in hard to keep up. Will things be different with the G6? LG certainly hopes so and for what it is worth, they seem to have pretty big plans.

First, the LG G6 is expected to ditch removeable batteries and modules in favor of a glass and metal design. Second, it will be moving to a taller format (similar to the rumored Galaxy S8) with a ratio of 18:9. Google and LG are also reportedly working together to bring Google Assistant to the LG G6 and we expect at least a few other tricks up the phone’s virtual sleeves as well.

As for the rest of the specs? Obviously there are a lot of unknowns at this point, though some of the rumors suggest we are looking at a Snapdragon 835 or 821 (depending on the rumor you believe) with 6GB RAM. It really comes down to when the phone plans to launch, as the Snapdragon 830 has yet to officially ship with any handsets and is still reportedly a little ways out.

Unconfirmed specs

  • 5.7-inch QHD display with 18:9 ratio
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 or 821
  • 6GB RAM
  • 64GB likely, microSD expected
  • dual camera setup, few details currently rumored
  • Rear mounted fingerprint scanner
  • Non-removable battery
  • Android Nougat

Read more


Huawei P10

New & upcoming Android phones (January 2017)

Huawei P9 pictured above.

Frankly, we don’t know much about the Huawei P10 for sure. We don’t even know if that will end up its name or not. All we know for sure is that Huawei has indicated that at MWC 2017 it will show off its next flagship, and it seems pretty likely that it will be a successor to the Huawei P9.

Based on current rumors, the Huawei P10 is said to be a mostly metallic flagship, as per Huawei’s usual style. Under the hood we can expect a Kirin processor, very possibly the same Kirin 960 found in the current Mate 9 phablet. One area where the P10 is supposedly going to differ from the P9 is the screen size, jumping from 5.2-inches to 5.5-inches. Additionally, the display is supposedly going to be an AMOLED with a QHD resolution, a jump forward from the LCD 1080p display of its predecessor. On the camera front, we expect the Leica partnership to continue, with the phone offering a dual-camera setup, though the specfics aren’t known just yet.

Bottom-line, there are a ton of unknowns about the next flagship from Huawei, all we know is it will be formally unveiled at MWC and is expected to hit store shelves sometime in March or April.

Unconfirmed specs

  • 5.5-inch QHD AMOLED display
  • Octa-core Hisilicon Kirin 960 processor
  • 4 or 6GB of RAM likely, possibly multiple configurations here
  • 32/64/128GB likely, microSD very likely
  • Dual camera setup, possibly similar or the same as the Mate 9’s
  • Android 7.0 Nougat

Read more


What phones are you excited about?

Are there any phones we didn’t add to this post and you are looking forward to? Hit the comments and let us know! Also share your thoughts on the handsets listed above.

Deal: ASUS OnHub Wireless Router, with Google WiFi support, for just $100 ($90 off)

Before Google launched its own WiFi mesh routers in late 2016, it partnered with other companies to release some impressive (sometimes pricey) wireless routers in 2015 under the OnHub brand. Today, the ASUS OnHub Wireless Router can be bought at Best Buy with a big discount. Best of all, this ASUS product will also work with your home Google WiFi mesh network if you have one set up.

See also:

Google OnHub router first impressions

June 9, 2016

Right now, you can snag the ASUS OnHub Wireless Router for just $99.99 at Best Buy, which is a huge $92 discount from its normal $192 price tag. One of the nicer things about the OnHub products is that they are not super-ugly to look at. There are no boxes with big antennas poking out; instead, this device is a cylinder that gets slightly smaller at the top, making it look somewhat like a vase or air freshener, with no visible antennas at all.

OnHub is also very easy to set up. All you really have to do is plug it in and then use the Google WiFi (formerly the Google On) app to complete the process. While hardcore tech fans won’t get a ton of options with OnHub, that’s not who this product was made for. Instead, it was created and designed for folks who would normally have difficulties figuring out some of a router’s deeper settings (the OnHub still has them available in Developer Tools if you really want them).

However, this product from ASUS does have a few nifty features, such as an easy way to set up guest access to your WiFi network for visitors. You can even set it up so that when you wave your hand over it, the router will give priority access to one device for a certain period of time, in case you want to make sure your Xbox One has the best connection during a Halo 5 multiplayer match. Finally, if you own any of the Google WiFi mesh routers, the OnHub router can connect to them seamlessly with the Google WiFi app.

All in all, this is an excellent price for a router that is both powerful and easy to use. Head to the Best Buy link below to take advantage of the deal.

Buy now from Best Buy

Next: Google WiFi review

Acer and ASUS to launch new 2-in-1 Chromebooks for schools

This post originally appeared on our sister site, TabTimes.

Google continues to work with third-party hardware companies to introduce new Chromebooks for the growing education market. Today, it announced two new additions, the Acer Chromebook Spin 11 and the ASUS Chromebook C213, both of which are 2-in-1 convertible devices with touchscreen displays.

In a blog post, Google said it has been working with both companies, along with educators, to add a number of requested features in these two Chromebooks, along with others that will be launched later this year. One addition is USB Type-C charging support so that the Chromebooks can quickly charge other devices. Another is a camera that is placed on the keyboard side, so that when the Chromebook’s 360-degree display is flipped, the camera will face outward.

See also: Samsung Chromebook Plus & Pro hands-on

Finally, Google says that both the new Acer and ASUS Chromebooks will come with their own stylus. The company says they will look very much like a standard pencil, complete with an eraser for correcting mistakes. Both of the Chromebooks will use a input prediction model that was developed from Google’s machine learning technology. This will help the stylus to be more responsive when it is used on a Chromebook touchscreen. In addition, the stylus can be used with any apps, such as Google Keep, that use Optical Character Recognition to help search for any handwritten notes or pages.

So far, Google has not announced any specific hardware specs or pricing for the new Acer and ASUS Chromebooks, but since they are both targeting schools, we would imagine they would be pretty inexpensive. With Google now also confirming that all of the new Chromebooks due in 2017 will also be able to run Android apps as well, these two new models could become very popular when they go on sale. Both could be especially big hits among school systems who might be looking for alternatives to using Windows 10 notebooks or Apple’s iPad lineup of tablets.

ASUS could launch Zenfone 4 series in May

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ASUS could launch its ZenFone 4 series of smartphones in May, according to sources from the company’s Taiwan supply chain. The news arrives via Digitimes, who also suggests that ASUS is aiming to ship more than 20 million smartphones in 2017.

Sources told Digitimes that ASUS shipped around 17.5 million ZenFone smartphones in 2016, falling short of its 25 million projection (which had already been decreased from 30 million). Digitimes had previously reported ASUS was targeting yearly smartphone shipments in the region of 35-40 millio units.

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See also:

Asus rolling out Android Nougat update to ZenFone 3

2 weeks ago

Little has been rumored regarding the upcoming Zenfone 4 series, though a leak from late December suggested a ZenFone 4 device could be in the works with a 5.2-inch display and 4850 mAh battery. We’re not holding our breath for that one.

ASUS’ most recent handsets were shown off at CES 2017 earlier this month. Asus revealed the Zenfone 3 Zoom and the 8 GB of RAM wielding Zenfone AR (seen at the top), which will support both Google Daydream and Project Tango.

Best cheap Android phones (January 2017)

There was a time, not all that long ago, that in order to own a powerful smartphone you would either need to commit to a two-year contract, or you would be expected to pay as much as $600 – $800. Thankfully this has changed considerably in the last few years. There are now several manufacturers that offer handsets that bring quality specs and yet are priced low enough you don’t need to take out a second mortgage or sign your life away to a carrier. In this article, we take a look at some of the best cheap Android phones on the market.

Now, obviously the idea of “low-cost” is somewhat subjective. For some folks it is anything under $300, for others it might mean devices that are under $200. With this in mind, we’ll bring you nine devices in all: three that are under $200, three that are under $300, and three that are under $400 — this way everyone wins.

As for how we’ll ‘rank’ the phones? Basically we are looking at a number of factors though price/value ratio is probably among one of the highest factors here. It is also worth mentioning that all devices on this list will be full unlocked, and off contract. For those US readers looking for even cheaper phones and don’t mind going with a locked-down handset through a prepaid carrier, you’ll want to check out our Cricket, AT&T, Boost, T-Mobile and Verizon prepaid lists.

Editor’s note – we will be updating this list as more devices hit the market. This article reflects things from a US/EU centric perspective, though many of these devices and pricing will apply to other international markets as well.

Best phones under $200

Moto G4 Play

See more Moto G4 Play photos

Lenovo’s Moto G4 Play enters the market with a low price tag, solid specifications and a familiar design language we’ve all grown to love.

It sports a 5.0-inch HD display, solid Snapdragon 410 processor, 2GB of RAM, and an 8MP rear camera that’s great for snapping the occasional photo. Plus, you get a removable 2800mAh battery, which is a feature many manufacturers have been leaving out of their phones lately.

Specs

  • 5.0-inch IPS LCD display with 1280 x 720 resolution, 294ppi
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 410 processor
  • 2GB of RAM
  • 16GB of on-board storage, microSD expansion up to 256GB
  • 8MP rear camera, 5MP front camera
  • Removable 2800mAh battery
  • Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow
  • 144.4 x 72 x 9.9mm, 137g

Read more

Buy now from Amazon

Nexus 5X (Project Fi only)

Best cheap Android phones (January 2017)

See more Nexus 5X photos

Google chose to release two Nexus smartphones in 2015 – the higher-end Nexus 6P made by Huawei and the LG-made Nexus 5X, which is the true sequel to LG’s beloved Nexus 5 from 2013. Both of these devices feature similar specifications, but they still manage to stand out drastically from one another. The Nexus 5X has a solid Snapdragon 808 processor, a 2700mAh battery and a really great 12.3 megapixel rear-facing camera. It also boasts a fingerprint scanner on the back, a front-facing speaker that provides decent audio quality and of course, this phone runs the latest version of Android.

In our full review, we had just a few gripes. While the Snapdragon 808 processor is very capable of performing just about everything you throw at it, the fact that the 5X comes with just 2GB of RAM makes us nervous for the future. It also only comes with 16 or 32GB of on-board storage with no microSD card expansion, so folks who are used to 32 or 64GB variants will need to rely on cloud storage when it comes to keeping media on the phone.
Considering that the Nexus 6P costed only $120 more than the 5X at launch, it was a tad difficult to recommend this smartphone at the start. Now Google is offering the Nexus 5X on Project Fi for the low price of just $200. If you’re looking for a solid smartphone in this price range and would like to try out Google’s Project Fi network, the Nexus 5X is for you.

Specs

  • 5.2-inch IPS LCD display with 1920 x 1080 resolution, 423ppi
  • 1.8GHz hexa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 808 processor
  • 2GB of RAM
  • 16/32GB of on-board storage, no microSD card expansion
  • 12.3MP rear camera, 5MP front camera
  • Non-removable 2700mAh battery
  • Android 7.0 Nougat
  • 147 x 72.6 x 7.9mm, 136g

Read more

See it at Project Fi

Best phones under $300

Moto G4 Plus

Best cheap Android phones (January 2017)

See more Moto G4 Plus photos

The Moto G series has always been among the best bang for your buck smartphones around, and things remain the same with Motorola’s latest mid-ranger, the Moto G4 Plus. It has everything you’d want in an inexpensive smartphone: a big Full HD display, plenty of RAM and onboard storage, and also a great 16MP rear-facing camera. This G4 Plus model also comes with a fingerprint sensor, which is a first for the Moto G line.

The best part? It’s available for just $250 through Moto Maker, so you’ll be able to customize the colors, engraving on the back, greeting, and more.

Specs

  • 5.5-inch IPS LCD display with 1920 x 1080 resolution, 401ppi
  • Octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 617 processor
  • 2/3/4GB of RAM
  • 16/32/64GB of on-board storage, microSD expansion up to 256GB
  • 16MP rear camera, 5MP front camera
  • Non-removable 3000mAh battery
  • Android 6.0 Marshmallow
  • 153 x 76.6 x 9.8mm, 155g

Read more

Buy now from Amazon

ASUS ZenFone 3 (ZE552KL)

Best cheap Android phones (January 2017)

See more ASUS ZenFone 3 photos

While the ASUS ZenFone 3 might be a sub-$300 handset, that doesn’t mean it makes many compromises.

In our full review, we told you that the ZenFone 3 is a reliable daily driver, and doesn’t break a sweat while pushing for performance or gaming. Plus, it has a wonderful 16MP rear-facing camera, as well as a battery that will certainly have no problems lasting the entire day on a single charge. Oh, and in case you haven’t noticed, this phone is downright beautiful.

When comparing the ZenFone 3’s specs with other devices in this price range, it’s worth noting that you can probably find a similarly-spec’d device for a little less money. Still, if you’re a fan of ASUS devices in general and are looking for a low-cost smartphone that offers very little compromise, you can’t go wrong with the ASUS ZenFone 3.

Specs

  • 5.5-inch Super IPS+ LCD display with 1920 x 1080 resolution, 401ppi
  • 2.0GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 processor
  • 3/4GB of RAM
  • 32/64GB of on-board storage, microSD expansion up to 256GB
  • 16MP rear camera, 8MP front camera
  • Non-removable 3,000mAh battery
  • Android 7.0 Nougat
  • 152.6 x 77.4 x 7.7mm, 155g

Read more

Buy now from Amazon

Honor 6X

Best cheap Android phones (January 2017)

See more Honor 6X photos

2015’s Honor 5X has been one of our favorite budget-friendly smartphones for awhile now, but its specifications and software have been aging a little bit lately. Luckily, Huawei’s sub-brand Honor is back with a successor to the 5X, aiming to win over the growing number of consumers looking for a decent smartphone that won’t break the bank.

The Honor 6X sports a big 5.5-inch 1080p display, a zippy Kirin 655 processor, plenty of RAM, 32 or 64GB of on-board storage and microSD card expansion up to 256GB. This device also comes with a feature that we don’t often see on sub-$300 phones – a dual camera setup.

Perhaps our favorite part about this phone is the battery life. While a 3,340mAh unit doesn’t seem all that big, it allowed our Honor 6X to last well into a second day on a single charge. Not bad at all!

This is basically one of the most competitive phones you’ll find in this price range. Dual cameras, a long-lasting battery, an excellent fingerprint sensor and an asking price of only $250… what more could you want?

Specs

  • 5.5-inch IPS LCD display with 1920 x 1080 resolution, 403ppi
  • Octa-core HiSilicon Kirin 655 processor
  • 3/4GB of RAM
  • 32/64GB of on-board storage, microSD expansion up to 256GB
  • Dual 12 and 2MP rear cameras, 8MP front camera
  • Non-removable 3,340mAh battery
  • Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow
  • 150.9 x 76.2 x 8.2mm, 162g

Read more

Buy now from Amazon

Best phones under $400

ZTE Axon 7

Best cheap Android phones (January 2017)

See more ZTE Axon 7 photos

ZTE’s Axon Pro from 2015 was a good phone, but it fell short in a few key areas. It came to market with only one storage option, no expandable memory, and the dual camera setup on the back of the device felt a bit gimmicky. Not only does the company’s latest flagship fix all of those problems, it brings much more to the table.

It has a big 5.5-inch Quad HD AMOLED display, the latest Snapdragon processor, plenty of RAM, multiple storage options, and yes, expandable memory up to 256GB. It also sports some killer front-facing speakers, all-day battery life, a great camera, and a sleek, attractive design. While certain parts of the software could use a little more polish, the ZTE Axon 7 goes toe-to-toe with the best in the Android market. It’s also inexpensive at only $400, making this an even more attractive option for folks looking to score a solid flagship device.

Specs

  • 5.5-inch AMOLED display with 2560 x 1440 resolution, 538ppi
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 processor
  • 4/6GB of RAM
  • 64/128GB of on-board storage, microSD expansion up to 256GB
  • 20MP front camera, 8MP rear camera
  • Non-removable 3250mAh battery
  • Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow
  • 151.7 x 75 x 7.9mm, 175g

Read more

Buy now from Amazon

Honor 8

Best cheap Android phones (January 2017)

See more Honor 8 photos

Huawei has brought what many have wanted from an affordable flagship for a while now: a gorgeous design, a smaller size, and a great camera. In addition, the Honor 8’s excellent performance and IR blaster are not always common on an affordable smartphone. The Honor 8’s software might not be for everyone, but we think the impressive camera performance and high-end design really make up for it.

While the Honor 8 enters the market in an incredibly competitive price segment, we can say that this is one of the better phones you can buy for around $400.

Specs

  • 5.2-inch LTPS display with 1920 x 1080 resolution, 423ppi
  • HiSilicon Kirin 950 processor
  • 4GB of RAM
  • 32/64GB of on-board storage, microSD expansion up to 256GB
  • Dual 12MP rear cameras, 8MP front camera
  • Non-removable 3,000mAh battery
  • Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow
  • 145.5 x 71 x 7.5mm, 153g

Read more

Buy now from Amazon

So there you have it – our picks for the best budget-friendly options Android has to offer at the moment. Did we miss anything? Be sure to let us know your thoughts in the comment section below.

See also:

Best Android phones

2 weeks ago

Next: Best prepaid phone plans

Asus rolling out Android Nougat update to ZenFone 3

We have some great news for those of you who use the Asus ZenFone 3. The smartphone, which was announced back in May 2016, shipped with Android Marshmallow on board. Now, Asus is rolling out the Android 7.0 Nougat update to the device.

The update is currently being sent out to users in the Philippines, but we expect that it will soon be available to users in other parts of the world as well. The update brings quite a few new features to the device including the popular multi-window support and an improved version of the Doze power management mode.

See also:

Asus ZenFone AR hands-on: Tango, Daydream, 8GB of RAM, oh my!

4 days ago

The update is currently being rolled out to both the 5.2-inch (ZE520KL) as well as the 5.5-inch (ZE552KL) version of the device. Aside from the difference in screen size, both smartphones come with the Snapdragon 625 chipset, a fingerprint scanner, a 16 MP primary camera with an f/2.0 aperture, and an 8 MP selfie snapper. The Asus ZenFone 3 is also quite easy on the eyes and features a glass back as well as a metal frame, which makes the device feel sturdy in the hand.

If you want to learn more about the device, feel free to check out our review of the Asus ZenFone 3.

How did we end up with smartphones packing 8GB RAM?

ASUS unveiled its ZenFone AR smartphone at CES 2017 earlier, which packs in plenty of impressive features, including a Tango 3D capture camera and Google DayDream virtual reality support. Another noteworthy specification is that the phone is the first to launch with a whopping 8GB RAM. That’s enough memory to match a high performance PC or video games console, so how did we end up here?

Of course, there’s always an incentive for manufacturers to improve their specifications and be the first with something new, especially when it comes to grabbing the headlines. We saw this with CPU core count a few years ago with the first to quad, octa, and then deca-core processors, and some may remember the camera megapixel wars too. It’s the same story with RAM today, and manufacturers have been steadily increasing the amount of memory in their high-end smartphones even though it’s surplus to requirements for browsing Facebook and playing YouTube videos.

The amount of RAM packed into high-end smartphones has increased substantially over just the past two years

Still, that didn’t stop LG boasting about the arrival of the first phone with 2GB of RAM, the Optimus LTE2, back in 2012. This was followed up by the Asus Zenfone 2’s touting of the world’s first 4GB RAM smartphone in April 2015. The vivo XPlay 5 was the first handset to feature 6GB back in March of 2016, and now just a year later we have our first handset with 8GB RAM. As you can see, the amount of RAM packed into high-end smartphones has increased substantially over just the past two years, and so it wouldn’t be surprising to see even larger amounts appear next year, perhaps a 12GB packaging combination could be on the horizon.

The major facilitator of this trend has been the falling price of DRAM. The past couple of years has seen a major fall in mobile DRAM contract prices, and this cost has continued to decline throughout most of 2016. 8Gb (1GB) of high performance LPDDR4 can be bought for just $6 today, and the average price per GB of RAM fell below $5 in 2016, which includes more expensive PC RAM and dedicated graphics memory.

How did we end up with smartphones packing 8GB RAM? TheMemoryGuy

The cost of implementing large mobile RAM pools has also come down thanks to the increasing prevalence of Package on Package (PoP) memory containing flash and RAM on a single chip. So rather than having to purchase individual RAM and Flash packages, as well as the memory controllers, single packages greatly cut down on the costs of production. The combined 64GB flash, 3GB LPDDR4 Samsung PoP memory inside the Galaxy S7 edge cost around only $50. With prices at a low, there’s very little reason not to include plenty of RAM for bragging rights and to keep increasingly large apps opening up nice and quickly, even if it’s not top of the line LPDRR4X.

8GB RAM might seem like overkill today, but in a year or two this will almost certainly be considered a requirement if virtual reality becomes the big hit that many expect.

Smaller PoP packages with more internal memory have been made possible in recent years thanks to the shrinking of manufacturing nodes. While much fuss is made about the performance improvements that smaller manufacturing processes bring to processors and the like, they’re equally as important for helping to squeeze additional memory into a smaller package and decrease power consumption. As we know, power consumption is a major constraint in mobile products, and more efficient memory packages are equally as important as low prices for bringing big memory counts to smartphones. Samsung unveiled its 10nm 8GB LPDDR4 module back in October, after announcing a 10nm 6GB chip earlier in the year.

While such huge RAM amounts seem superfluous for the most common mobile applications, consumers are beginning to demand more from their handsets and these scenarios are requiring more memory. Gaming and virtual reality are certainly the leading trends, and this is putting strains not only on the amount of available memory, but also its performance. Memory bandwidth has been a bottle neck for graphics performance in smartphones for a long time now, but the arrival of LPDDR4 and LPDDR4X memory, which has been supported by Qualcomm’s flagship processors since the Snapdragon 810, is helping to alleviate this bottleneck. MediaTek’s Helio X30, HiSilicon’s new Kirin 960, and Samsung’s Exynos 8890 also support LPDDR4 memory, which offers up 28.7GB/s bandwidth.

How did we end up with smartphones packing 8GB RAM?

If we want our smartphones to close in on the capabilities in today’s laptops, PCs and games consoles, and this is certainly where VR, AR, and mobile gaming trends are taking us, then our smartphones require not only more memory, but faster and more efficient RAM as well. 8GB RAM might seem like overkill today, but in a year or two this will almost certainly be considered a requirement if virtual reality becomes the big hit that many expect. It’s no coincidence that ASUS debuted the first 8GB RAM smartphone while also touting virtual reality and Tango capture capabilities.

Asus ZenFone AR hands-on: Tango, Daydream, 8GB of RAM, oh my!

CES 2017 is in full swing and some of the coolest smartphone announcements at the show are coming from Asus. The Taiwanese manufacturer revealed a ZenFone 3 variant equipped with dual cameras and optical zoom, but it’s actually the ZenFone AR that really piqued our interest, thanks to a combo of great specs and advanced features from Google.

The ZenFone AR is the first high-end Tango phone (and the second overall, after the Lenovo Phab 2 Pro), the first phone that supports Tango and Daydream VR, and the first smartphone with 8GB of RAM.

That’s a lot of premieres, so let’s take a closer look at what the Asus ZenFone brings to the table, live from CES 2017.

Asus ZenFone AR hands-on: Tango, Daydream, 8GB of RAM, oh my!

As mentioned, the ZenFone AR will be the second commercially available Tango-ready smartphone, but unlike the Phab 2 Pro the ZenFone AR is much sleeker looking, more manageable in the hand, and a lot less bulky.

The phone has a full metal frame that wraps around the entire perimeter of the phone and on the back there’s a very soft leather backing that feels extremely nice and also provides a lot of grip.

Asus ZenFone AR hands-on: Tango, Daydream, 8GB of RAM, oh my!

Also on the back is a 23MP camera, as well as the optical hardware needed to run Tango applications – this includes sensors for motion tracking and a depth sensing camera. The Tango module takes up the space where the fingerprint sensor is usually found on Asus phones, so the sensor is now placed on the front, embedded in the physical home button, which is flanked by capacitive keys.

Asus ZenFone AR hands-on: Tango, Daydream, 8GB of RAM, oh my!

If you’re still somehow not familiar with what Tango is, here is a very brief explanation. Tango is an augmented reality (AR) platform created by Google. Born from Google’s advanced technologies labs, Tango eventually graduated last year to become a real product. Tango-equipped phones can understand the physical space, by measuring the distance between the phone and objects in the real world. In practice, that means Tango phones can be used for AR applications like navigating through in-door spaces, but also for more recreational purposes like games. There are currently over 30 Tango apps in the Play Store, with dozens more coming this year.

Asus ZenFone AR hands-on: Tango, Daydream, 8GB of RAM, oh my!

Besides Tango, ZenFone AR also supports Daydream VR, Google’s virtual reality platform for mobile devices. As such, it’s compatible with Daydream View and other Daydream headsets and you’re pretty much guaranteed to have a good time using mobile VR applications on it.

The phone has all the specs you’d want on a VR-focused device, including a large, bright, and beautiful 5.7-inch Super AMOLED screen with Quad HD resolution and a Snapdragon 821 processor inside (sadly, it won’t get the brand-new Snapdragon 835, as we were hoping). The ZenFone AR will come with either 6GB of RAM or a whopping 8GB of RAM, a first for any smartphone.

Asus ZenFone AR hands-on: Tango, Daydream, 8GB of RAM, oh my!

All those hardware features will tax the system, so the ZenFone AR includes a vapor cooling system to help prevent the phone from overheating when using its AR and VR capabilities.

As all Daydream-ready devices, the ZenFone AR is running Android 7.0 Nougat, but not without Asus’ ZenUI customizations on top of it.

You can expect to see the ZenFone AR released in the second quarter of this year (April-June), but exact pricing and availability are still to be confirmed. The ZenFone AR is definitely shaping up to be a very interesting device, especially with both Tango and Daydream inside. The specifications – and especially the 8GB of RAM – make us curious to see how the ZenFone AR performs in real life. We’ll definitely pick it up for further testing once its release date approaches.

Meanwhile, keep it tuned to our YouTube channel and visit our CES page for all the latest from Las Vegas, and also tell us what you think about the Asus ZenFone AR!

ASUS ZenFone AR confirmed with Tango camera, 8GB of RAM and Daydream VR support

ASUS has finally confirmed one of the worst-kept secrets of CES 2017. The company has officially announced the ASUS ZenFone AR smartphone, which is only the second such phone that will support Google’s Tango augmented reality-themed 3D camera. The phone also supports Google’s Daydream smartphone VR platform, which means it can be used with the Daydream View headset.

See also:

Google Daydream View review

November 10, 2016

The Tango part of the ZenFone AR includes a 23MP rear camera,  along with separate motion tracking and depth sensing cameras.  It will allow the phone to use one of over 30 apps in the Google Play Store that have been developed specifically to use Tango’s augmented reality features.

The ZenFone AR will be a fairly large phone, with a 5.7-inch 1440×2560 Super AMOLED display. That’s still a lot smaller than the first Tango-based phone, the 6.4-inch Lenovo Phab 2 Pro. Inside, the ZenFone AR will have a Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 processor, along with a whopping 8GB of RAM. We are a bit disappointed that the phone won’t come with the just announced Snapdragon 835 chip, especially considering its release time frame, but it’s still a pretty solid powerhouse.

On the bright side, the phone will come with Android 7.0 Nougat out of the box. ASUS says the ZenFone AR will have a five-magnet speaker that can support DTS Virtual Surround Sound for better headset audio effects. At the moment, there’s no info on the phone’s onboard storage amount.

There’s no word yet on a price tag for the ASUS ZenFone AR, but the company stated that it plans to release the phone sometime in the second quarter of 2017.

Asus ZenFone 3 Zoom announced, features dual-camera setup with optical zoom

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At CES 2017 Asus has unveiled a number of new products, including an official successor to the ZenFone Zoom, dubbed the ZenFone 3 Zoom. The big draw here is the device’s camera which has an optical zoom feature, as you probably figured out by the name.

The Asus ZenFone 3 Zoom offers a dual-camera configuration that delivers 2.3X magnification on one of the lenses, and other rocks a 12MP wide-angle setup with f/1.7 aperture. The reason for the two lens configuration is to provide a bokeh affect, of course. Until we spend more time with the phone, it’s hard to say how good this setup really is, but if you are looking for optical zoom this is one of the few options available on the market today.

As for the rest of the specs? It’s all pretty mid-range. The ZenFone 3 Zoom is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 625, has a 5.5-inch 1080p display, and a hefty 5000 mAh battery. Storage, RAM, and other details aren’t fully disclosed just yet. Pricing is also still a mystery, though the phone is expected to hit stores this February.

If optical zoom is your thing, this could be a great option, though judging from past optical zoom-equipped handsets, we imagine it will come at a bit of a premium cost — though that’s just speculation at this point. What do you think of the ZenFone 3 Zoom? Let us know down in the comments.