Google Pixel XL

Google Pixel XL

Best of Android 2016: Battery

What is Best of Android?                

In Best of Android, we take the most important smartphones of the year and compare them side-by-side and in-depth. This year, with so many good phones available, we’ve stepped things up a notch and brought the 10 biggest Android phones of the year to the competition.

Read more about Best of Android and thanks for being such a valuable part of the Android Authority family!

If you’re anything like us, you constantly get asked “what is the best phone?” and “which Android phone has the best battery life?” Rather than relying on the infamous “moderate-to-heavy usage” yardstick, we’re getting technical.

You will have undoubtedly read the battery section in each device’s full review throughout the year, but Best of Android 2016 puts them all side-by-side through a series of specially calibrated Android Authority tests using our own custom battery tests and benchmarks, so you can compare apples and apples.

See also:

Best of Android 2016: Performance

1 day ago

The tests include our custom “general” battery test, comprising a variety of different tasks aimed at replicating average daily usage. We also have dedicated battery tests for Wi-Fi browsing, gaming and video playback, along with a battery recharge test because we know just how important fast charging has become.

There’s no guesswork to interpret here, just cold, hard data to reveal the true lay of the land. Each device was ranked for each individual test with those scores averaged out at the end to declare our overall winner. But first, lets get our hands dirty in each tested category. For reference, here are the actual battery capacities of each tested device:

Huawei Mate 94,000 mAh ZTE Axon 73,250 mAh
Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge3,600 mAh LG V20 3,200 mAh
Moto Z Force Droid3,500 mAh HTC 103,000 mAh
Google Pixel XL3,450 mAh Xiaomi Mi 53,000 mAh
OnePlus 3T3,400 mAh Sony Xperia XZ2,900 mAh

Charging time

When it comes to charging times there are two main things to consider: the capacity of the battery and the charging tech involved. All things being equal, a smaller battery will charge faster than a larger battery (although all batteries charge faster at the beginning and slow down as they near a full charge). But each manufacturer also has their own custom fast charging tech, some of which is better than others. So, to keep things on an even keel, we’ve ranked our devices in two different ways.

The first is obvious: which device charged fastest, regardless of how large its battery cell is. This is the “real world” test. The second takes a more apples-to-apples approach so you can tell which device’s battery charges faster pound-for-pound. Based on the time taken in the real world test, we calculated the charge rate for each device, so you can see a relative comparison per unit of battery capacity, kind of like miles per gallon for your car. All tests were conducted using the supplied charger.

In 2016, the fastest phone to charge a full battery was the OnePlus 3T with its phenomenal Dash Charge tech. The 3T’s 3,400 mAh battery took just 87 minutes to charge completely. Second place was tied at 89 minutes, with the Huawei Mate 9 and ZTE Axon 7 sharing the podium, but considering the Mate 9 has a 4,000 mAh battery compared to the Axon 7’s 3,250 mAh capacity, the Mate 9 clearly has the edge. The LG V20 took fourth place, taking 90 minutes to charge its 3,200 mAh battery.

On the slow side of things, the Sony Xperia XZ won on all counts: the smallest battery that took the longest time to charge (2,900 mAh in 143 minutes). However, this is primarily due to the XZ coming with a standard 1.5A charger in the box rather than a fast charger that supports Qualcomm Quick Charge. The Xiaomi Mi 5 wasn’t far behind though, taking 139 minutes to charge its 3,000 mAh cell and it does have a Quick Charge 3.0 charger in the box.

As promised we also calculated how many mAh each device could charge in a standard time, in this case, one minute. This lets you know which device has the most efficient battery charger. The winner? The Mate 9, which juiced up 45 mAh per minute on average (remember, batteries charge slower as they near completion). The One Plus 3T was next, with 39 mAh/minute, followed by the S7 Edge with 37.5 mAh/minute and the Axon 7 with 36.5 mAh/minute. Not surprisingly, the slowest rates were the XZ (20 mAh/minute) and Mi 5 (21.5 mAh/minute).

Use time (Wi-Fi browsing)

The first benchmark test we ran was Wi-Fi browsing. Our Wi-Fi test repeatedly loads a selection of webpages until the battery goes from 100% to zero. Device displays are set to 200 nits brightness and pages are loaded over Wi-Fi with airplane mode enabled. Auto-updates and any battery saver modes are also disabled during the test.

Wi-Fi browsing isn’t such a taxing task, so we saw some pretty epic battery durations. Best of all though was the Huawei Mate 9 and it’s massive 4,000 mAh battery (the largest on our list) which managed to keep the lights on for an impressive 14 hours and four minutes.

Best of Android 2016: Battery

In second spot was the ZTE Axon 7 (3,250 mAh) with 11 and a half hours of browsing time, followed by the Xiaomi Mi 5 (3,000 mAh) and the Google Pixel XL (3,450 mAh) at around 10 and three quarter hours.

Interestingly, the device with the second largest battery capacity on our list – the Galaxy S7 Edge with a 3,600 mAh battery – came in second last, with just 8 hours and 11 minutes of web browsing before shutting down. But the HTC 10 was the worst of all with just shy of 7 hours and a half hours of browsing time.

Use time (gaming)

The next benchmark tests battery life for gaming. Games tax battery life more than browsing due to the enhanced graphical demands. Our test runs Epic Citadel, a 3D gaming simulation on a device with a fully charged battery on 200 nits brightness until the battery is depleted. The simulations run at the maximum resolution of the device (so keep that in mind when comparing devices with Full HD resolution versus QHD).

Best of Android 2016: Battery

3D gaming is amongst the most demanding tasks you can ask of your smartphone, but some phones are better equipped to handle those demands than others. In this test, our best battery duration was the HTC 10 with 8 hours and 29 minutes. A very impressive feat, especially considering the HTC 10 came in dead last on the Wi-Fi browsing test.

Second place went to the ZTE Axon 7 with 8 hours and 15 minutes, followed by the OnePlus 3T just short of 7 hours and the Xiaomi Mi 5 with just under 6 and a half hours. The Galaxy S7 Edge had the worst gaming performance of all, with just 3 hours and 46 minutes.

Use time (video playback)

Our last dedicated battery test is for video playback, perhaps the most common way to deplete your battery by doing just one thing. As you have probably guessed, our test runs an endless loop of video to see how long each device lasts before the battery runs from full to empty. The Full HD video file at 23.9fps, was stored locally and Wi-Fi was turned off.

Best of Android 2016: Battery

This test resulted in similar, but not identical, results to the Wi-Fi browsing test. The Huawei Mate 9 took first place, with 14 hours and 12 minutes, followed by the OnePlus 3T with just under 12 hours and the Xiaomi Mi 5 with 11 hours and 51 minutes. The worst performer here was the Google Pixel XL, which barely limped past 7 hours of video playback despite having the fourth largest battery of the bunch and the newest version of Android.

General battery test

Our general battery test uses a combination of the above three dedicated tests and extrapolates run time based on “general” usage. Of course, your mileage may vary, but because the test is identical on each device, it gives a good indication of how well each phone handles a variety of tasks. As you can probably tell from the results above, different devices excel at different tasks, so this test is designed to provide an “all-rounder” rating.

Best of Android 2016: Battery

In the general usage test, the results were a lot closer. The Xiaomi Mi 5 ultimately came out on top with 7 and a quarter hours, with the Huawei Mate 9 hot on its tail with just over 7 hours. But considering the Mate 9 has a 33 percent larger battery than the Mi 5, the Mi 5’s dominance in this category is even more impressive.

Third place went to the Axon 7, followed by a cluster of devices with very similar run times: the HTC 10, OnePlus 3T and the Moto Z Force Droid. The weakest performer was the Galaxy S7 Edge with 4 and a quarter hours.

Wrap up

While it’s interesting to know how each device performs on an even playing field, the fact of the matter is that all batteries aren’t created equal. Some devices have larger batteries, some have faster charging tech and some have better software optimizations for prolonging battery life. So, given the tests we ran on each device and the combined results, which Android smartphone has the best all-round battery in 2016?

The Huawei Mate 9

The Huawei Mate 9 has the largest battery of all the tested devices, but it also has the fastest per-minute charge rate and very good all-round performance. It’s clearly your best bet if you spend a lot of time watching videos or browsing the web, but hardcore mobile gamers are probably better off looking elsewhere. Second place overall went to the excellent ZTE Axon 7 and the OnePlus 3T’s battery bump helped it score third spot.

1. Huawei Mate 98.66. HTC 104.6
2. ZTE Axon 78.07. Google Pixel XL3.8
3. OnePlus 3T7.67. LG V203.8
4. Xiaomi Mi 57.09. Sony Xperia XZ3.6
5. Lenovo Moto Z Force Droid4.810. Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge3.2

A note on results: Our overall battery scores were calculated by assigning points between 1-10 to each device in each category. The best performer scored 10 points, second place 9 points and so on, regardless of how close the margin was. Those category scores were then averaged for the final grading you see above.

Keep in mind that there are a whole bunch of factors at play when considering battery life: screen brightness, stability of your network connections, display resolution, whether GPS and location sharing are on, screen timeout settings, battery capacity, Android version, battery saving modes, background processes, syncing, auto-updates and so on. Each user will have different habits that greatly affect their battery mileage.

Of course, you may not be a gamer or perhaps you never watch videos on your phone. In these cases, our overall winner based on equally weighting each test may not be compatible with your particular needs or preferences. If so, just take a closer look at the categories that do apply to your usage habits and draw your conclusions from there.

Want the best phone for gaming? Get the ZTE Axon 7. The best phone for watching YouTube videos or browsing? Then you’ll want the Mate 9. The phone you can juice up the fastest as you rush out the door? The OnePlus 3T, and so on. Thanks for reading and be sure to check out the other categories in the Best of Android 2016 series.


Credits

Tested by: Gary Sims, Andrew Grush, Nirave Gondhia, John Velasco, Joshua Vergara, Lanh Nguyen
Series Contributors: Rob TriggsEdgar Cervantes, Kris Carlon
Series Editors: Nirave Gondhia, Bogdan Petrovan, Andrew Grush

Best of Android 2016: Performance

What is Best of Android?                

In Best of Android, we take the most important smartphones of the year and compare them side-by-side and in-depth. This year, with so many good phones available, we’ve stepped things up a notch and brought the 10 biggest Android phones of the year to the competition.

Read more about Best of Android and thanks for being such a valuable part of the Android Authority family!

We know how important performance is when it comes to a high-end Android phone. No one wants to fork out several hundred dollars for a phone and then suffer from lag. And if there’s a phone out there that costs half the price of most mainstream flagships and has better performance we know you’re going to want to know all about it.

See also:

Best of Android 2016: Display

19 hours ago

In this installment of the Best of Android 2016, we’re tackling the sticky issue of Android performance. Do the best specs on paper always result in the best stats under pressure? Or is software more important? What about RAM? Is more always better or can optimization be the key to heavy workload dominance?

We’ve run 10 of the biggest Android phones of 2016 through a series of popular benchmark tests, all available in Google Play so you can install them too and see how your phone stacks up against the best of the best in 2016. Results in each individual benchmark are ranked and at the end those results are averaged out to declare an overall winner.

DeviceCPUGPU RAM (GB)Display
resolution
Xiaomi Mi 5Snapdragon 820Adreno 5304FHD
OnePlus 3TSnapdragon 821Adreno 5306FHD
Huawei Mate 9Kirin 960Mali G71 MP84FHD
ZTE Axon 7Snapdragon 820Adreno 5304FHD
Moto Z Force DroidSnapdragon 820Adreno 5304QHD
Sony Xperia XZSnapdragon 820Adreno 5303FHD
HTC 10Snapdragon 820Adreno 5304QHD
LG V20Snapdragon 820Adreno 5304QHD
Samsung Galaxy S7 EdgeExynos 8890Mali-T880 MP124QHD
Google Pixel XLSnapdragon 821Adreno 5304QHD

At the heart of every smartphone is a System-on-a-Chip (SoC) that contains the CPU, the GPU and a whole bunch of other stuff like a DSP, ISP and the cellular modems. Obviously the choice of SoC will have a significant impact on the overall device performance, however it isn’t the only factor. The speed of the internal flash storage is certainly a factor, especially when it comes to app loading times. Secondly, the screen resolution will also influence performance as the CPU and GPU will need to work harder to maintain smooth animations.

Looking at the table above you can see that the Snapdragon 820/821 is the dominant SoC. The 821 is a slightly tweaked version of the 820 with improved performance and power efficiency. The only device not using a Qualcomm SoC is the Huawei Mate 9 which uses Huawei’s own Kirin 960. There are two versions of the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge, one with a Snapdragon 820 (which we used for the results in this test) and another that uses Samsung’s own Exynos 8890 SoC (which scored slightly lower on most benchmarks, hence using the 820 results here) .

AnTuTu

AnTuTu is one of the “standard” benchmarks for Android, it measures both CPU and GPU usage as well as a few other things like RAM bandwidth and I/O throughput. Although all of its workloads are completely artificial, meaning they don’t reflect real world usage, the benchmark is still useful for establishing a baseline about the general performance of a device.

Best of Android 2016: Performance

As you can see the OnePlus 3T gets the highest score from AnTuTu followed by the Moto Z Force Droid and the LG V20. Having said that, all the devices performed amazingly for AnTuTu. Last year’s winner was the Galaxy Note 5 with its Exynos 7420 SoC, however it scored less than 70,000. Now all the devices in our test score over 120,000! The Xiaomi Mi 5 was the weakest performer in AnTuTu.

GeekBench 4

GeekBench is another popular Android benchmarking tool, however this app only tests the CPU performance. The test is split into two parts, the single-core tests, which measures the speed of an individual core, regardless of how many cores there are on the SoC; and the multi-core tests, which exercises all the cores on the SoC simultaneously.

Best of Android 2016: Performance

The Geekbench king is the Huawei Mate 9 with its Kirin 960 SoC. The Kirin 960 uses four ARM Cortex-A73 cores and four ARM Cortex-A53 cores plus the Mali G71 MP8 GPU. The Mate 9 gets the top score for both the single-core tests and the multi-core tests.

Next up is the OnePlus 3T and the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge. The former does better on the single-core tests but comes third in the multi-core tests. Conversely, the Samsung comes third overall for the single-core tests but second for the multi-core tests. The weakest single-core performance was shown by the Mi 5, with the HTC 10 producing the poorest multi-core results.

Basemark OS II

Basemark OS II is an “All-In-One” benchmark that tests the overall performance of a device including system, memory, graphics, and web browsing. As well as these individual scores there is a overall rating calculated (graph below includes Vellamo scores).
Best of Android 2016: Performance

The OnePlus 3T comes out on top of the Basemark OS II tests with a score of 2,719. Next comes the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge with 2,659 and the Huawei Mate 9 with 2,588. Interestingly there is only a 5% difference in score among the top three devices.

At the other end of the scale, the Xiaomi Mi 5 was weakest (2.091), followed by the LG V20 (2,188) and HTC 10 (2,197) in second and third last places, respectively.

Vellamo

Vellamo is Qualcomm’s own benchmarking utility, which breaks tests down into three main “chapters”: Browser, Multicore and Metal. We ran the Browser test on the default internet app on each device to see how well they handle web content and then ran Metal to evaluate single-core performance of the mobile processor.

For the Metal test of Vellamo the top scoring device is once again the OnePlus 3T with 4,238, the only device break the 4K barrier. Next comes the ZTE Axon 7, the first time the ZTE has appeared on the podium! In third place is the LG V20. The poorest result in Metal was the Xiaomi Mi 5 which was the only device to not make 3K (interestingly, the Pixel XL only just scraped by with 3,040).

Turning to the Vellamo web browsing tests the top place goes to the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge with 7,778. In second place comes the Huawei Mate 9 and after that the OnePlus 3T. The weakest Vellamo browsing result was from the ZTE Axon 7 (3,756).

Jet Stream

JetStream is a JavaScript benchmark tool that focuses on advanced web applications, performing tests for latency and throughout (sustained peak performance). Jet Stream covers a variety of advanced workloads and programming techniques to avoid the possibility of software tweaks to “game” individual benchmarks and runs 39 different tests to produce a single overall score.

Best of Android 2016: Performance

Like the Vellamo web browsing test, the top three phones are the S7 Edge, the Mate 9 and the OnePlus 3T, but this time the ordering is different. First came the Huawei Mate 9, then the OnePlus 3T and in third place the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge. The HTC 10 was the worst and the Xiaomi Mi 5 just a little better.

3DMark

3DMark is probably the world’s leading benchmark tool because of its cross-platform nature and because of its emphasis on 3D graphics. The Slingshot Extreme test is designed specifically for the OpenGL ES 3.1 standard. 3DMark not only has rules for manufacturers to avoid OEMs modifying the way the system runs when tests are being performed, but you can compare 3DMark results with over 3,000 Android devices as well as the latest iPhones and iPads.

It is worth re-emphasizing at this point that devices with lower screen resolutions rank better as the GPU has less work to do. In fact QHD displays have 77 percent more pixels than Full HD displays!

Best of Android 2016: Performance

As we can see the top three results all go to devices with Full HD displays: the OnePlus 3T, the ZTE Axon 7 and the Huawei Mate 9. However, what is even more impressive is that the score for the Google Pixel XL is only 17 percent less than the Huawei Mate 9 but yet the Pixel XL is pushing around 77 percent more pixels! The worst 3DMark performance came from the HTC 10 by a wide margin.

GFXBench

Like 3DMark, GFXBench is primarily concerned with GPU performance. It includes a new 1440p Manhattan 3.1.1 for OpenGL ES 3.1 test and other assorted benchmarks that test Android Extension Pack features like hardware tessellation on game-like content. We ran the demanding T-Rex and Manhattan 3.1 benchmarks for our tests. Again, be mindful of display resolution differences.

Best of Android 2016: Performance

The winner for the T-Rex test is the ZTE Axon 7, in second is the Xiaomi Mi 5 and in third is the Sony Xperia XZ. Not too surprisingly, all three of them have a Full HD display. The leading device with a QHD display is the Moto Z Force Droid, which is just 2fps slower than the Sony Xperia XZ and only 1fps slower than the OnePlus 3T.

As for the Manhattan test, the top performers are the Sony Xperia XZ and the OnePlus 3T which both scored 32fps. Again, both devices have a Full HD display. Next comes the Pixel XL (30fps with a QHD screen) and in third is the Huawei Mate 9 (28fps and Full HD again).

Wrap up

Overall, the best performer came first by quite a wide margin. It came first in AnTuTu, Basemark OS II, 3DMark and GFXBench Manhattan (tied with the Sony). It also managed a top three result for all the other tests with the exception of the GFXBench T-Rex test, where it came fourth. So which Android phone has the best performance in 2016?

The OnePlus 3T

The OnePlus 3T sports the brand-new Snapdragon 821 SoC, combined with 6 GB of RAM and a Full HD display, a killer combination that made it unbeatable where these tests were concerned.

In second place is the Huawei Mate 9. It has the highest Geekbench score plus it came in first in the JetStream JavaScript benchmark suite. It also finished in the top three repeatedly across other tests, helped in part by its Full HD display (a feature our top three all share).

In third overall place is the Sony Xperia XZ. While it didn’t win any of the tests outright, it did come in joint first for the GFXBench Manhattan test and scored well for the GFX T-Rex test.

It is also worth mentioning the ZTE Axon 7, which took fourth place overall and was the highest performing device with a QHD display. The Moto Z Force Droid was next, followed by the Pixel XL, both of which also feature QHD displays.

1. OnePlus 3T9.076. Google Pixel XL5.29
2. Huawei Mate 97.797. Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge5.00
3. Sony Xperia XZ6.798. LG V204.57
4. ZTE Axon 75.869. Xiaomi Mi 53.14
5. Lenovo Moto Z Force Droid5.6410. HTC 102.14

A note on results: Our overall performance scores were calculated by assigning points between 1-10 to each device for each tested benchmark. The best performer scored 10 points, second place 9 points and so on, regardless of how close the margin was. Those category scores were then averaged for the final grading you see above.

There are obviously a few things that can affect how well any given device performs in benchmarks. Screen resolution, CPU, GPU, RAM, firmware, software optimizations and so on can all affect the results.

As you can see above, devices with Full HD displays did better overall due to having fewer pixels to push around but we also had some standout results from QHD devices. If you don’t think 2K is worth the drain on performance and battery life, then the OnePlus 3T is the obvious choice. But if you’re looking for a QHD smartphone with top notch performance, you can’t go past the Axon 7. Interestingly, these are two of the most affordable devices on our list.

Thanks for reading and be sure to check out the other categories in the Best of Android 2016 series.


Credits

Tested by: Gary Sims, Andrew Grush, Nirave Gondhia, John Velasco, Joshua Vergara, Lanh Nguyen
Series Contributors: Rob TriggsEdgar Cervantes, Kris Carlon
Series Editors: Nirave Gondhia, Bogdan Petrovan, Andrew Grush

Best of Android 2016: Display

What is Best of Android?                

In Best of Android, we aim to answer the single most important question that we get asked every day: what’s the best Android phone you can buy right now?

Looking at 2016, here are the 10 phones we feel make up the best currently available on the market from each of these manufacturers

Check out the rest of this year’s edition and find out more here; Best of Android. Thanks for being a part of Android Authority!

To kick off our Best of Android 2016 series we are going to delve right on into every smartphone’s big upfront piece of tech – its display.

This year’s phones are a mixture of LCD and AMOLED and are either Full HD or QHD. Interestingly they are all over 5.0 inches with the smallest entrant being the Xiaomi Mi 5 with its 5.15 inch display. The largest is the 5.9 inch Huawei Mate 9.

 SizeTypeResolutionPixel density
Galaxy S7 Edge5.5-inchesAMOLED2560 x 1440534 ppi
HTC 105.2-inchesSuper LCD52560 x 1440565 ppi
Sony Xperia XZ5.2-inchesIPS LCD1920 x 1080424 ppi
Pixel XL5.5-inchesAMOLED2560 x 1440534 ppi
Xiaomi Mi 55.15-inchesIPS LCD1920 x 1080428 ppi
Moto Z Force Droid5.5-inchesAMOLED2560 x 1440534 ppi
OnePlus 3T5.5-inchesAMOLED1920 x 1080401 ppi
LG V205.7-inchesIPS LCD2560 x 1440513 ppi
Huawei Mate 95.9-inchesIPS LCD1920 x 1080373 ppi
ZTE Axon 75.5-inchesAMOLED2560 x 1440534 ppi

Before we dive into all of the results, a quick word about our test. We paired up an X-rite’s i1 Display Pro spectrophotometer with CalMAN’s ColorChecker software and its MobileForge companion app, which is used to wirelessly sync up the test images between the phone and our PC software. We set the phone to our desired brightness for each test, attached the i1 Display Pro to the middle of the display, made sure that it was flush to the screen, and then ran the software. Some phones have the option to adjust the screen colors and temperature but each phone was set to its default out-of-the-box state.

How do they compare? Let’s find out.

Display Luminance

To start with, we ramped up each phone to full brightness and measured a white light output with the i1 Display Pro. Since some devices don’t actually use the absolute maximum brightness when set manually to 100%, we also set the displays to “auto brightness” and shone a torch into the light sensor. On some phones that makes the display go even brighter. For example, the LG V20 has a brightness of 526 nits on 100% manual, which is a good result. However on “auto” the same display can be pushed to 708 nits!

The LG V20 is by far the brightest display with a massive 708 nits, followed by Xiaomi Mi 5 and the Sony Xperia XZ with 650 and 613 nits respectively. The Huawei Mate 9 also manages more than 600 nits. At the other end of the scale we have the ZTE Axon 7 which can only manage 339 nits. The rest of the devices manage at least 400 nits. It is also worth noting that like the LG V20, the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge and the Moto Z Force Droid also have significantly different brightness levels on manual and auto.

Color temperature

Color reproduction and the science of color can be quite complex, but it is worth noting a few things that will help you understand the display on your smartphone. Incidentally it might also help you improve the photos you take and how to buy light bulbs! Color is a characteristic of light, and it depends on the frequency of the light you are seeing. The lower frequency colors are red and orange while the high frequency colors are blue and purple. In between are all the colors of the rainbow.

When you see something as red it is because that object is reflecting the red light waves better than the other colors. In fact some of the other light waves are being absorbed and turned into heat. When an object reflects all of the colors equally we see it as white. Now since color is an attribute of light you will have noticed that objects take on a different hue when seen under different light. The sun at dusk shows things differently to the sun at noon. The light from a football stadium portrays things differently to candle light, and so on.

To help define the composition of light we use the Kelvin scale. Candles and sunsets give off light that is closer to red (which we call ‘warm’) but the light from the sun when we have “clear blue skies” is… yes, bluer… or “cooler.” Cool colors like blue generally have color temperatures over 7000K, while warmer colors like red and orange lie around the 2000K mark. For a variety of reasons, that we won’t get into now, the sweet spot for white light is 6500K. Color temperatures lower than that will be “warm” and above it will be “cool.”

So, what does this all have to do with displays? Basically, the display on a smartphone is a light source, similar to a TV or the monitor on a PC. The light it generates has a temperature. The closer that temperature is to 6500K then the closer it is to that sweet spot for white.

We tested all the devices to get a color temperature reading and here are the results:

Best of Android 2016: Display

The first thing to note is that none of the displays on test are actually configured to 6500K by default. But we can see that the Samsung  Galaxy S7 has the closest color temperature to 6500K, followed by the Moto Z Force Droid and the ZTE Axon 7. At the other end of the scale are the LG V20 and the Huawei Mate 9, both of which have color temperatures in excess of 8700K, giving the whites a clear blue tint:

Best of Android 2016: Display

The reason that 6500K is important is because most media is calibrated to 6500K which means that the further a display is away from that sweet spot then the further away the reproduced colors will be from the intended colors.

Color range

Since displays produce the whole gamut of colors it is important to know how faithfully those colors are reproduced. You might think that red is red and green is green, but as always it is a bit more complicated than that! Starting from the white 6500K sweet spot, a display needs to generate colors by increasing the amount of one (or more) colors while decreasing others, this mixture of red, green and blue yields the desired color. But how well a display can do that will determine its color accuracy.

Here is a set of color space diagrams generated for each display. The closer the different plot circles are to the target squares then the better the accuracy.

As you can see the best display is the one found on the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge. The white dot in the middle is almost on target and the different branches shoot off in the right directions. The display is particularly good in the blues (including cyan and magenta). However by contrast the color accuracy on the LG V20, the Huawei Mate 9 and the HTC 10 is disappointing. Starting with the LG V20 and the HTC 10 you can see that the cyan and magenta targets are way off and none of the colors (except blue) are on the right line. The graph for the Huawei Mate 9 tells a similar story to that of the other two, but with an additional twist, here the cyan and magenta lines actually curve!

One thing to note is that all three devices have LCD displays and not AMOLED displays. The other two LCD panels in our test are the Xiaomi Mi 5 and the Sony Xperia XZ. These both exhibit the same tendencies as the other LCD devices however to a less extent. However it is worth pointing out that the magenta line on the Xperia XZ starts to the left of the target (more blue) and crosses over the line to yield redder colors. On top of that the greens are certainly more blueish-green that normal green!

That doesn’t mean that all the AMOLED panels are automatically “better.” Take a look at the ZTE Axon 7, it shares many of the faults seen on the LCD panels, however at least its cyan and magenta reproduction actually hits the target in some cases! The closest device to the S7 Edge is the Moto Z Force Droid, which does well in the cyan, blue, magenta and reds, however it does wander a bit for the greens and yellows. Third place goes to the Google Pixel XL which is almost as good as the Moto Z Force Droid, but not quite.

Conclusion

In terms of color temperature and color accuracy the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge is the clear winner. And while it has a display brightness of over 400 nits there are AMOLED displays that are brighter, most notably the Moto Z Force Droid. As for the LCD displays in our test, these tend to be brighter, however their color accuracy and color temperature are not as good.

If you want the brightest LCD panel with the best color temperature and highest color accuracy (among the LCD panels) then the Xiaomi Mi 5 is the winner, however it only offers Full HD rather than the QHD of the S7 Edge and the Z Force Droid.


Credits

Tested by: Gary Sims, Andrew Grush, Nirave Gondhia, John Velasco, Joshua Vergara, Lanh Nguyen
Series Contributors: Rob TriggsEdgar Cervantes, Kris Carlon
Series Editors: Nirave Gondhia, Bogdan Petrovan, Andrew Grush

Some Google Pixel devices shutting down at 30% battery

It seems that some Pixel devices are affected by the same infamous shutdown bug that plagued the Nexus 6P where the device would prematurely turn off at 25 to 35 percent.

The Huawei Nexus 6P has finally received the Nougat update. But ever since, Google’s last ever Nexus device has been on the news, and for all the wrong reasons. Among the problems was a shutdown bug: the phone would shut down when the battery is at 30 percent or so.

Well, it looks like the issue isn’t unique to those Nexus 6P users. A few Reddit users are reporting that their Pixel devices are also suffering from the same shutdown bug. Some Pixel phones would prematurely shut down at or around 30 percent and would not turn back on until a charger is connected. A user by the name of vrski_15, who started the thread explains:

Twice in last 5 days, has the phone shutdown abruptly while I am in middle of something. In both instances, battery was between 25-35%, and the phone under normal conditions should have lasted for at least next 3-4 hours.

With the Nexus 6P, Huawei first ruled that this was not a hardware problem but a software-related one. However, users found that the problem persisted even after downgrading to Android Marshmallow. This led Huawei to investigate further with Google, and although the company hasn’t revealed the cause yet, it is probably related to the problem that these Pixel users have been experiencing.

Google announced its very first smartphone back in October, and its design wasn’t the only thing that was controversial; its premium price tag was also pretty shocking for many. A premium price tag means a premium device. However, there have already been a few too many separate issues reported regarding the Pixel duo. With Samsung determined to gain back customers with the Galaxy S8 and with a fleet of affordable premium Android devices coming from Chinese companies, Google may need to step up its game if it wants to stay relevant in the insanely competitive market of smartphones.

Is your Pixel phone affected by the shutdown bug? Let us know by leaving a comment below!

Google to roll out January’s Android security update next week

Google may be getting ready to release the latest Android security update next week, but slightly later than usual. Support pages on Verizon Wireless for its Google Pixel and Pixel XL smartphones show that the upcoming patch could go live for those devices on Tuesday, January 3.

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November 19, 2016

The support pages show that the build number for the new security patch will be NMF26U. Normally, these kinds of updates begin to roll out on the first Monday of each month, which in January’s case is on January 2. However, due to the officially observed holiday of New Year’s Day, that may explain why the Verizon support pages show the update is being pushed back to Tuesday, January 3.

In any case, this new over-the-air update is likely to be a small one for the Pixel and Pixel XL compared to the updates they received in December, which also included the new Android 7.1.1 Nougat version. The security updates will likely roll out to a larger number of Android smartphones throughout the month of January.

Are you happy with the pace of security update for Android, or should they be launched more often or less often? Let us know what you think in the comments.

Sprint offering up to $325 in account credits if you activate the Pixel/Pixel XL on their network

Currently, Verizon is the only US carrier selling Google’s Pixel phones. However, T-Mobile started offering account credits to those who activate either the Google Pixel or Pixel XL on their network back in October. Now, Sprint is apparently doing the same thing. According to a report from Android Police, the carrier has sent out a promo to selected customers via email, offering them up to $325 in account credits if they bring an unlocked Pixel/Pixel XL smartphone to their network.

The $325 in credits is valid for the Pixel XL and is delivered equally over the course of 24 months — $13.55 per month. Those who have the smaller of Google’s two devices are eligible to receive up to $240 in credits, or $10 per month.

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3 days ago

As already said, the offer is currently only available to selected users. But if you haven’t received an email from Sprint but would consider getting the deal, there’s still hope. Simply contact Sprint’s support, tell them that you’re interested in the Pixel promo, and hope for the best. Who knows, you just might get lucky.

But keep in mind that the promo will end soon, as it’s only available until the end of the month. So if you’re thinking of getting the deal, you’ll have to move fast.

If you do decide to contact Sprint regarding the promo, let us know if you were able to get it.

Google looking into reported issues with Pixel’s Double-tap to wake feature

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If you own either the Google Pixel or Pixel XL, and have had issues getting the smartphone’s Double-tap to wake feature to work regularly, you are apparently not alone. Google is now looking into a number of reports that claim the popular feature is not working consistently.

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November 7, 2016

Some of those online reports claim that the feature has issues when the Pixel is in its Doze power saving mode, with the Double-tap feature working only after owners move the phone slightly. 9to5Google reports there is a small workaround that allows Double-tap to engage more accurately if the owner changes the Pixel’s lock time to ‘immediately’ after sleep.

In any case, it appears that Google knows there is a problem with the Pixel’s Double-tap feature. A company product manager has confirmed that the team is “working towards a future fix.” Hopefully that can be made available soon.

In the meantime, if you do own a Pixel or Pixel XL, have you experienced any issues with getting the Double-tap to wake feature to work on your device? If that’s the case, feel free to let us know and post your impressions in the comments, along with if the workaround actually does work for you.

Google Store spreads holiday cheer with free expedited shipping until Dec. 21

If you are still looking to get the perfect tech gift for a family member or friend, Google wants to help out with a special offer. From now until December 21 at 3 p.m. Eastern time, the Google Store hardware retail site is offering free expedited shipping for any orders.

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November 18, 2016

That means any orders made on the site in that time frame should be shipped out and arrive at your doorstep, or the person you bought the product for, before Christmas. This is an excellent offer for people who want to get a new Google Pixel or Pixel XL smartphone, or perhaps a Daydream View VR headset to go with it.  You can also get the Google Home connected speaker, a Chromecast streaming dongle like the 4K-capable Chromecast Ultra, and even more products and accessories before the big day arrives, and not have to spend anything on shipping.

Google’s support page does point out that people who place their order on the Google Store site before 11 a.m. in their local time zone should count from the day they place the order, Orders turned in after 11 a.m. in their local time should be counted from the day after the order is placed.

Will you be ordering from the Google Store for a last-minute holiday gift?

Verizon offers the Google Pixel and others for free with eligible phone trade-in

If you’ve been eyeing Google’s Pixel or Pixel XL but don’t want to spend the money to get one, you’re in luck. Verizon has just announced a new promotion that will let new customers trade in their existing device to net them a new smartphone for free.

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3 weeks ago

Starting today, you’ll be able to get an iPhone 7iPhone 7 PlusMoto Z or Moto Z Force, Samsung Galaxy S7Galaxy S7 Edge, or LG V20 for free when you trade in an eligible phone. That’s certainly not a bad deal, as most of the phones listed here cost quite the pretty penny.

Let’s talk about the fine print before you run off to the local Verizon store, though. To get the “free” phone, you’ll first have to buy your new phone and activate it on a Verizon plan, then you’ll receive up to $792 in bill credit that will be applied over a 24-month period. Also, your existing phone must be in “good, working and cosmetic condition” to be eligible for trade in. The list of eligible trade-in phones can be found at this link.

While that may sound like a few too many caveats, this is actually a really good deal if you’re sick of your current phone. If you’re interested, be sure to head to the source link below to get all the details on this limited time promotion.

Google Pixel XL 32 GB back in stock at Google Store

The Google Pixel XL 32 GB model is back in stock at the Google online store. The device is shipping within two to three weeks for the limited edition ‘Really Blue’ model, or four to five weeks for the ‘Very Silver’ and ‘Quite Black’ variants. Meanwhile, the 128 GB version remains out of stock in both black and silver variants with no indication of when it will next be available.

The Google Pixel phones have been frequently out of stock since they launched on October 20, with the Pixel XL being in particularly short supply. The device is also currently unavailable at BestBuy with no ETA and Verizon, which provides an estimated shipping date of January 20.

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Recently, finance firm Morgen Stanley predicted that Google would sell three million Pixel phones in 2016, and a further five or six million next year, generating almost $4 billion in revenue for the company. Without the inventory, it might struggle to hit those figures.

For more on Google’s latest flagship, head to our full Google Pixel XL review.