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Huawei making push for North America: P10 and P10 Plus launching in Canada

Huawei has announced that it will launch its latest flagship phones, the Huawei P10 and P10 Plus, in Canada this Spring.

This is big news for the Chinese manufacturer, as it will be the first time the company has sold a flagship phone through tier one carriers in North America. In the past few years, Huawei’s movements in this territory have reportedly been held up because of security worries: specifically, it was alleged that Huawei’s ties to the Chinese government posed a threat to the United States (claims Huawei has refuted).

I recently spoke to Scott Brady, Vice President of Corporate Affairs for Huawei Canada, to ask about the move.

See also:

LG G6 vs Xperia XZ Premium vs Huawei P10 Plus

2 hours ago

“There’s never been an issue on the security front in Canada,” Brady said. “The key barrier, really [is that it] had to have North American specs.”

Brady explained that to spec the phone for compatibility only in the Canadian market “didn’t make a lot of sense” for Huawei in the past, which affected how Huawei marketed itself in that region.

“It made no business sense for us whatsoever to be investing in building a huge brand, a consumer brand, for Huawei, when in fact we didn’t have those consumer products.” Instead, Huawei has been more focused on selling to operators in Canada and investing in research like 5G.

Huawei has since become one of the largest smartphone manufacturers in the world and has amassed more than 700 employees in Canada alone. Huawei’s CEO Richard Yu has even spoken about overtaking Apple and Samsung in the coming years. “We recognize that we now need to build a consumer brand [in Canada],” said Brady, and it’s starting with the latest flagships.

As to whether Huawei was eyeing deals with tier one manufacturers in the US, Brady told me that he could only speak for Huawei’s plans in Canada, but noted: “We think it’s a good chance to demonstrate that the Huawei brand can be successful with tier 1 operators in a North American market.”

That notion, combined with Richard Yu’s comments, could indicate that the company is closer than ever to US deals.

Read our hands-on Huawei P10 review at the link and give us your thoughts on Huawei’s move into Canada in the comments.

Huawei making push for North America: P10 and P10 Plus launching in Canada

Huawei has announced that it will launch its latest flagship phones, the Huawei P10 and P10 Plus, in Canada this Spring.

This is big news for the Chinese manufacturer, as it will be the first time the company has sold a flagship phone through tier one carriers in North America. In the past few years, Huawei’s movements in this territory have reportedly been held up because of security worries: specifically, it was alleged that Huawei’s ties to the Chinese government posed a threat to the United States (claims Huawei has refuted).

I recently spoke to Scott Brady, Vice President of Corporate Affairs for Huawei Canada, to ask about the move.

See also:

LG G6 vs Xperia XZ Premium vs Huawei P10 Plus

2 hours ago

“There’s never been an issue on the security front in Canada,” Brady said. “The key barrier, really [is that it] had to have North American specs.”

Brady explained that to spec the phone for compatibility only in the Canadian market “didn’t make a lot of sense” for Huawei in the past, which affected how Huawei marketed itself in that region.

“It made no business sense for us whatsoever to be investing in building a huge brand, a consumer brand, for Huawei, when in fact we didn’t have those consumer products.” Instead, Huawei has been more focused on selling to operators in Canada and investing in research like 5G.

Huawei has since become one of the largest smartphone manufacturers in the world and has amassed more than 700 employees in Canada alone. Huawei’s CEO Richard Yu has even spoken about overtaking Apple and Samsung in the coming years. “We recognize that we now need to build a consumer brand [in Canada],” said Brady, and it’s starting with the latest flagships.

As to whether Huawei was eyeing deals with tier one manufacturers in the US, Brady told me that he could only speak for Huawei’s plans in Canada, but noted: “We think it’s a good chance to demonstrate that the Huawei brand can be successful with tier 1 operators in a North American market.”

That notion, combined with Richard Yu’s comments, could indicate that the company is closer than ever to US deals.

Read our hands-on Huawei P10 review at the link and give us your thoughts on Huawei’s move into Canada in the comments.

What would you change about the LG G6? [Poll of the Week]

Last week’s poll summary: Out of over 9,600 total votes, 65.8% of our readers said they wish Google Allo had SMS support. 20.5% of our readers said they’d like to use Allo on multiple devices, while 6.1% said they wish Google didn’t store user messages on their servers. On the plus side, it looks like Google is listening to user feedback; the company is now working on a web version of Allo.

The all-new LG G6. After a disappointing 2016 flagship with the G5, LG has gone back to basics and made an attractive, well-built smartphone.

Certainly the most standout feature on the G6 is its 5.7-inch Quad HD LCD display, with its interesting aspect ratio of 18:9. It also comes with a Snapdragon 821 processor (LG said it couldn’t wait for the 835), 4GB of RAM, plenty of on-board storage and dual 13MP rear cameras. It’s also worth pointing out that this is the first LG flagship in recent years to not feature a removable battery. The G5 had it, the V20 had it, but unfortunately the G6’s 3,300mAh unit is sealed in.

It’s hard to deny that the G6 is a feature-packed device, but unfortunately some of those features are region specific. For instance, the G6 that’s coming to the U.S. is the only variant that supports wireless charging, while the Hi-Fi Quad DAC is exclusive to South Korea and certain markets in Asia. What’s more, the G6 with 64GB of storage is only available in a handful of markets, too. Why are there so many region-specific features? We’re assuming its due to penny-pinching, but we’d still have much rather seen one G6 variant with all three of these features listed above.

So, what would you change about the LG G6? Would you have preferred a removable battery, or do you think LG should have waited for the Snapdragon 835 to become available? Be sure to cast your vote in the poll below, and if you have anything else you’d like to add, feel free to speak up in the comments.

Note: You can choose more than one answer.

Be sure to check out all our LG G6 content below:

What would you change about the LG G6? [Poll of the Week]

Last week’s poll summary: Out of over 9,600 total votes, 65.8% of our readers said they wish Google Allo had SMS support. 20.5% of our readers said they’d like to use Allo on multiple devices, while 6.1% said they wish Google didn’t store user messages on their servers. On the plus side, it looks like Google is listening to user feedback; the company is now working on a web version of Allo.

The all-new LG G6. After a disappointing 2016 flagship with the G5, LG has gone back to basics and made an attractive, well-built smartphone.

Certainly the most standout feature on the G6 is its 5.7-inch Quad HD LCD display, with its interesting aspect ratio of 18:9. It also comes with a Snapdragon 821 processor (LG said it couldn’t wait for the 835), 4GB of RAM, plenty of on-board storage and dual 13MP rear cameras. It’s also worth pointing out that this is the first LG flagship in recent years to not feature a removable battery. The G5 had it, the V20 had it, but unfortunately the G6’s 3,300mAh unit is sealed in.

It’s hard to deny that the G6 is a feature-packed device, but unfortunately some of those features are region specific. For instance, the G6 that’s coming to the U.S. is the only variant that supports wireless charging, while the Hi-Fi Quad DAC is exclusive to South Korea and certain markets in Asia. What’s more, the G6 with 64GB of storage is only available in a handful of markets, too. Why are there so many region-specific features? We’re assuming its due to penny-pinching, but we’d still have much rather seen one G6 variant with all three of these features listed above.

So, what would you change about the LG G6? Would you have preferred a removable battery, or do you think LG should have waited for the Snapdragon 835 to become available? Be sure to cast your vote in the poll below, and if you have anything else you’d like to add, feel free to speak up in the comments.

Note: You can choose more than one answer.

Be sure to check out all our LG G6 content below:

LG G6 vs Xperia XZ Premium vs Huawei P10 Plus

MWC 2017 has already given us a number of interesting announcements, but the biggest releases so far have been the Huawei P10 and P10 Plus, the LG G6, and the Sony Xperia XZ Premium. Three high-end handsets brimming with flagship tech, so it’s time to stack them up against one another to see how they fair. I’ve also thrown HTC’s U Ultra into the mix for comparison, given that it was only announced in January and sets a good bar for a refined flagship experience.

One of the most contentious issues with smartphones specs already this year has been the delayed arrival of Qualcomm’s next-generation Snapdragon 835 processor. As expected, the LG G6 is sticking with the older 821 model and Huawei’s P10 range is comfortable with its custom HiSilicon chip. However, the Sony Xperia XZ Premium will ship packing a Snapdragon 835 inside, making it the first handsets to be announced with the chip, ahead of its expected debut inside the Galaxy S8.

This immediately puts the Xperia XZ Premium out ahead in terms of both performance and energy efficiency, given that the Snapdragon 835 is being built on a smaller 10nm FinFET manufacturing process. In our testing, the HiSilicon 960 edges ahead of the Snapdragon 821, but the 835 is boasting around a 20-27 percent uptick in performance that will regain the crown for Qualcomm. However, customers are going to have to wait to get their hands on that extra performance boost, as the XZ Premium’s release data is simply stated as sometime in “Spring 2017”.

 LG G6Xperia XZ PremiumHuawei P10 PlusHTC U Ultra
Display5.7-inch QHD 18:9 LCD
2880 x 1440
5.5-inch 4K LCD
3840 x 2160
5.5-inch QHD LCD
2560 x 1440
5.7-inch QHD LCD
2560x1440
SoCQualcomm Snapdragon 821Qualcomm Snapdragon 835HiSilicon Kirin 960Snapdragon 821
CPU2x 2.35GHz Kryo
2x 1.6GHz Kryo
4x 2.45GHz Kryo 280
4x 1.9GHz Kryo 280
4x 2.4GHz Cortex-A73
4x 1.8GHz Cortex-A53
2x 2.35GHz Kryo
2x 1.6GHz Kryo
GPUAdreno 530Adreno 540Mali-G71 MP8Adreno 530
RAM4GB4GB4/6GB4GB
Storage32/64GB (64GB variant only available in some regions)64GB64/128GB64 / 128GB
MicroSD?Yes, up to 2TBYes, up to 256GBYes, up to 256GBYes, up to 258GB
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We also see a lead for the Xperia XZ Premium when we look at the raw display specifications too. While all of the other manufacturers on our list have opted for QHD LCD panels, Sony has released its second 4K capable smartphone, which boasts a whopping 801 pixel per inch display. However just like last time, this resolution is completely overkill for a smartphone form factor and the display is unfortunately not quick enough to support DayDream for virtual reality applications either. Furthermore, Sony will likely again limit the occasions that the display runs at its full resolution to the playback of 4K videos and viewing other high resolution media, so as not drain the battery.

LG is also attempting a new display trick by adopting early support for a 18:9 aspect ratio with some sleek looking rounded corners, and this does lend itself nicely to displaying two exactly square apps on the screen at once. LG and Sony also both tout HDR capabilities with their new displays, which can mean increased color depth (10-bit vs 8-bit RGB) when playing back certain content. On balance through, all of these screens are going to offer identical image clarity, with some minor differences in color reproduction, contrast and brightness that we’ll have to test at a later date. It’s also worth noting though that the regular Huawei P10 only comes with a 1080p panel, though the P10 Plus ups things to QHD.

See also: PSA: Not all LG G6s are created equal

Other core specifications look very familiar across all of the devices, with 4GB of RAM offered as the standard. Although Huawei boosts this up to a maximum of 6GB if you buy the 128GB flash memory version of its P10 Plus. The LG G6 is the weakest in terms of internal storage. It has a base of 32GB, while the highest storage option you can get is 64GB (only in some regions, though). Still, the G6 does support microSD expansion up to 2TB if you find yourself using up that internal storage too quickly. It’s worth noting that other phones come with a minimum of 64GB flash as the standard, and 256GB microSD cards are support across the board.

 LG G6Xperia XZ PremiumHuawei P10 PlusHTC U Ultra
CamerasDual 13MP f/1.8 rear with OIS & laser AF
5MP front
19MP rear with OIS and PDAF
13MP front
Dual 12 & 20MP f/1.8 rear with OIS and PDAF
8MP front
12MP f/1.8 rear with OIS, PDAF and laser AF
16MP front
Battery3,300mAh3,230mAh3,750mAh3,000mAh
NFCYesYesYesYes
Fast ChargeQuick Charge 3.0Quick Charge 3.0 / Qnovo Adaptive ChargeHuawei SuperChargeQuick Charge 3.0
IP RatingIP68IP68NoNo
3.5mm audioYesYesYesNo
ExtrasUSB Type-C, Wireless Charging, 32-bit audio, FM RadioUSB Type-CUSB Type-CUSB Type-C, Boomsound, Hi Res audio, HTC Sense Companion
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LG G6 hands-on: A return to form

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On to cameras, and it’s here that we again see the biggest differentiation between handset manufacturers. Many are sticking with single sensor setups, including the Xperia XZ Premium, HTC U Ultra, and many of last year’s phones like the Galaxy S7, Google Pixel, and others, although resolutions, apertures, and pixel sizes are still varied. Sony again attempts to go one step further with a 960fps slow motion video capture option in its handset, but the recording time is severely limited, which detracts from its usefulness.

NFC for mobile payments sees universal support, as we would expect from today’s flagships, as does the USB Type-C connector and fast charging solutions. IP68 ratings are reserved for the XZ Premium and G6, while it's only the latter that offers wireless charging too.

On the other hand, LG and Huawei remain committed to dual camera configurations, although both have again taken different approaches; LG with a wide angle lens and Huawei with its RGB + monochrome Leica design. Of course, we can’t compare quality without some side by side tests, but we’re likely to see some big differences based on the space available for sensor sizes and the like. There is some consensus among flagship smartphones camera though. Faster autofocusing technologies are common and optical image stabilization is a universal feature here, meaning stable video and less blurry low light pictures.

There’s more crossover when it comes to extra features. NFC for mobile payments and small data transfers sees universal support, as we would expect from today’s flagships, as does the USB Type-C connector and fast charging solutions. However, Huawei has its own SuperCharge alternative to the common Qualcomm Quick Charge, meaning that third party accessory support will be more limited.

Looking at audio, all three of the new MWC flagships are sticking with the 3.5mm audio connector, suggesting that companies have heard the outcry from consumers who are unwilling to ditch their convenience of their current headphones. The LG G6 boasts another “Quad DAC” and 32-bit file support, although this will be limited to certain countries. HTC again sets a high bar with BoomSound, but you’ll need a USB to 3.5mm adaptor to keep using your old headphones. Meanwhile, Sony is bringing its wireless LDAC compression for better sound over Bluetooth and Automatic Headphone Optimisation, but there’s no mention of any superior DAC hardware.

IP ratings for water and dust resistance remain more hit and miss. Both the new LG G6 and Xperia XZ Premium tout an impressive IP68 rating, which matches the Galaxy s7 from last year. However, the P10 Plus and U Ultra don’t offer any water protection. Wireless charging and dedicated HiFi audio components are less common still, and this is an area that LG appears to come out ahead of its competitors. That is until we learned that these features would only be appearing in some markets, leaving European and US customers with a much more basic model.

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Sony Xperia XZ Premium & XZs hands-on!

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Picking a winner

On paper, the Sony Xperia XZ Premium offers the superior specifications, what with a 4K display and Snapdragon 835, while the LG G6 looks to be one of the most feature rich handsets ever built. However, both come with their own caveats. LG seems to have missed a trick by region locking some of the G6’s more interesting features. On the other hand, consumers are going to have to wait longer for the XZ Premium, likely months, and the 4K display and 960fps video features are more gimmicky that groundbreaking.

Without a leap in processing power, intergenerational flagships offer solid refinements to the 2016 formula, but might struggle under the shadow of more powerful releases looming right around the corner.

Meanwhile, the Huawei P10 and P10 Plus refine the company’s strategy and offer performance that currently sits nicely in between last year’s flagships and what we can expect from upcoming 2017 models. Unfortunately, the phones don’t come with all the bells and whistles offered by some of these competitors. But in Europe, at least, the phone seems to offer as much, if not more, than the LG G6.

Without a leap in processing power, intergenerational flagships, like the LG G6 and U Ultra, offer solid refinements to the 2016 formula, but might struggle under the shadow of more powerful releases looming right around the corner. The Xperia XZ Premium looks most like the 2017 flagship that many will have envisioned over the past few months, but by the time it hits store shelves there’s bound to be more competition.

Personally, I’m undecided between the Xperia XZ Premium or the P10 Plus, and even the LG G6 looks tempting in certain regions. How about yourselves?

T-Mobile giving customers a free line for free as a way of saying thanks

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T-Mobile has been working hard to change its image over the last few years, thanks to its Uncarrier approach. Their efforts have slowly but surely paid off and now Tmo wants to thank its current customers by giving them a pretty sweet deal: a free line of service.

Starting Wednesday, March 1st, all current customers of T-Mobile will be able to add an additional line for free, as long as they are on a qualifying plan which includes T-Mobile ONE, Simple Choice, and Simple Choice No Credit plans. Basically, anyone with two or more current lines will likely be eligible.

As an example, T-Mobile is highlighting that its current offer of two lines for T-Mobile ONE for $100 will now mean three lines for that same price, as long as you sign up for the free added line while the promo is active.

We’ve seen other carriers offer free lines, but T-Mobile is going a step further by making it permanent. That’s right, while the offer to add the line is limited, once you add the extra line you will continue to receive it free as long as you are on an eligible T-Mobile plan that is in good standing.

For more details, be sure to check out the full press release. What do you think of this latest offer? Let us know your thoughts down in the comments.

MediaTek Helio X30 officially launched at MWC

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Back in August 2016, MediaTek unveiled the Helio X30 system-on-chip (SoC). At Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, the company officially launched the chipset and announced that it will be available soon. The first smartphones featuring the Helio X30 will be released sometime in the second quarter of the year.

The Helio X30 is the company’s most powerful SoC and will, therefore, be used in high-end devices. The MediaTek Helio X30 is created with a 10nm manufacturing process and uses a design that’s based on three clusters of cores. The company says that it requires 50 percent less power and offers a 35 percent performance increase when compared to its predecessor.

It sports two ARM Cortex-A73 cores clocked at 2.5 GHz, four ARM Cortex-A53 cores clocked at 2.2 GHz, and four ARM Cortex-A35 cores running at 1.9 GHz. The CPU supports three downlink Carrier Aggregation (3CA) and two uplink Carrier Aggregation (2CA) for high volume content streaming.

See also:

MediaTek launches Helio P25 chip with dual-camera smartphones in mind

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The SoC features the Imagination PowerVR Series7XT Plus GPU, which is clocked at 800 MHz and is 2.4 times faster and 60 percent more energy efficient when compared to its predecessor. MediaTek’s Helio X30 supports displays with a resolution of up to 2560 x 1600 pixels, up to 8 GB of RAM, and incorporates two 14-bit image signal processors (ISPs) supporting 16+16 MP dual cameras.

It also comes with the latest CorePilot 4.0 technology, which maximizes battery life by predicting your power usage scenario on the device and then prioritizing which application is most critical at a certain point in time.

We expect to see quite a few smartphones with MediaTek’s Helio X30 chipset this year, with the first one being the Vernee Apollo 2 that should see the light of day during MWC in Barcelona.

Nubia N1 Lite announced at MWC 2017

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There’s been plenty of big announcements at MWC this year, most notably the LG G6, Huawei P10, and even the new 4K Sony flagship phone. Let’s not forget about the little guys though. At MWC 2017 Nubia is showing off a new version of the Nubia N1, a scaled down model dubbed the Nubia N1 Lite.

The official press release is honestly a bit vague on the processor, but we do know it offers a quad-core chipset, likely of the MediaTek variety. There’s also 2GB RAM, 16GB storage, a 5.5-inch 720p display, LTE, a 3000 mAh battery, and the main cam is an 8MP shooter with an f/2.0 aperture and dual-LED. Up front is a 5MP shooter with built-in flash. As you can tell, the specs here aren’t exactly exciting, though at least there is still a fingerprint scanner on the back.

See also:

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The software on the N1 Lite will be based on Android 6.0 Marshmallow, which even for a budget phone is a bit disappointing in 2017. The Nubia N1 Lite will launch in March in Germany, Spain, Italy, and the Czech Republic. It will also be offered in India, Thailand, Vietnam, and Indonesia.

Looking for more great MWC coverage? Stay tuned as we continue to bring you more, also be sure to check out our MWC 2017 hub page!

 

OPPO announces 5X Precision Optical Zoom

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As expected, OPPO has just unveiled a very interesting dual camera technology at Mobile World Congress 2017 that should end up making its way into future smartphones from the company. Known as 5X Precision Optical Zoom, the name gives away what OPPO is looking to achieve after its year long research and development effort.

5x optical zoom in a smartphone form factor is no small feat, and OPPO has had to come up with a rather interesting take on dual camera technology to get it to work as intended. The solution makes use of a telephoto and wide-angle lens setup that we’ve seen from other companies. However, OPPO’s engineers also divert light through a prism using a periscope-style structure placed at a 90-degree angle to the rear-facing wide-angle lens. So there aren’t two sensors visible to the user in this design, instead the second telescopic sensor appears to be hidden away inside the module.

By refracting light in this manner, OPPO is able to zoom in on distant objects without relying on bulky lenses. Presumably there’s then some clever software trickery performed to help stitch together image data from both of the camera for mid-way zoom levels. In total there are 50 components inside the module, which still manages to measure just 5.7mm high.

OPPO announces 5X Precision Optical Zoom

One of the seldom mentioned important issues with zoom technologies is image stabilization. Even the smallest shake shows up much more noticeably when zooming in. As such, OPPO has paired its 5x zoom module with an all-new optical image stabilization solution, which the company says improved performance over its last generation technology by 40 percent, by offering precise rotation increments of 0.0025 degrees. This means that pictures should stay sharp and free of blur even when zoomed in by a factor of 5x.

This all sounds rather promising, but OPPO hasn’t announced the first smartphone to launch sporting the technology yet. Perhaps this dual camera setup is destined for the next entry in the company’s photography focused F-series?

Android Wear 2.0 for ASUS ZenWatch 2 and 3 coming in early Q2

A few weeks ago, Google announced Android Wear 2.0. The new version of the operating system made its debut on the LG Watch Sport and LG Watch Style and is expected to come to other smartwatches eventually including the ASUS ZenWatch 2 and ZenWatch 3.

Earlier this month, ASUS confirmed that it will update the ZenWatch 2 and 3 to Android Wear 2.0. But it looks like it will take some time before the update rolls out to the company’s smartwatches. Responding to a user’s question on Twitter, ASUS North America said that the ZenWatch 2 and 3 will be bumped up to Android Wear 2.0 in early Q2.

The second quarter of the year starts on April 1 and ends on June 30, which means that the update should be available sometime in April or at the beginning of May at the latest if everything goes as planned.

If you own an Asus ZenWatch 2 or 3, you have something to look forward to. The update will bring a bunch of new features to your smartwatch including standalone apps, smarter watch faces, and the popular Google Assistant that will allow you to interact with your watch with voice commands.

If you want to know more about the latest features of the OS, check out our “Android Wear 2.0 announced – everything you need to know” post.