October, Techtober - Month in Review

My Take on What’s New

It’s been a busy month in the smartphone world. October is generally known as Techtober for this reason and I have enjoyed a lot of content from my favorite Tech-bloggers and Youtubers.

Here is my take on the new devices we’ve been seeing:

Huawei Mate 20 Pro

Huawei still makes things fun in the smartphone world. Both when releasing their new devices, and in the order they do so. The Mate 20 Lite was released without much of a fuzz already a month ago and looking good as a lower tier smartphone.

Recently the Mate 20 and 20 Pro was announced though, and they are heading to stores very shortly. In Sweden it is the Pro model that is officially announced, and in my eyes that is also the more interesting one.

Huawei was first with a main stream in display (under display) fingerprint scanner. In addition to this the company have also created their own version of Face ID with the 3D facial recognition and both are offered in this device. The star of the show is of course the rear cameras, being a triple-camera setup. The company did away with the monochrome sensor which is a little bit saddening to me as I always found that intriguing. They did however exchange it with a ultra-wide angled lens, much like what LG is doing but with a seemingly better quality.

The phone is still rocking the 40 MP main camera that standards to a 10 MP pixel-binning technique and a 3x optical zoom making this an even more versatile camera than the one on the P20 Pro before it.
Huawei was first to announce its new Kirin 980 SOC which is a 7mm processor setup. this is said to be the fastest in Android phones, but just on par with the Snapdragon 845 when it comes to graphically intensive gaming. Included is also wireless charging, and even reverse wireless charging which I don’t see my self using but it is still cool.

I am personally hyped to try the Mate 20 Pro and I consider it as my next review-unit after the iPhone XS.

Google Pixel 3 and 3 XL

This one is shrouded in controversy. I actually started to believe that Google was pulling a marketing stunt with the Pixel 3 design, both the standard unit with its still big bezels in comparison but especially with the 3XL’s notch.

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I find the Pixel 3 series to be incremental with a few good updates and pretty standard, or even bad, design choices. It is rocking top-tier specs, aside from the RAM, and the camera was already the best last year so it sees no major improvements besides in software. That is mostly fine though, but reviewers are also calling out Google for software-issues like lag and hiccups which is hard to accept. There is finally Wireless charging on on the Pixel lineup though!

While the rear camera remains lonely, and Google not adding a second lens just for the sake of it I don’t think users will mind given the quality. Google did however see it fit to place a super-wide angled camera on the front, giving you the ability to take group selfies like never before. I guess the Pixel 3 phones are for the selfie lovers out there.

When I reviewed the LG G7 ThinQ I was annoyed that the phone regularly force-closed Spotify when using the camera. Apparently both the Pixel 3 and 3 XL does this as well which to me is unacceptable. This is a close rival to the iPhone XS and I foresee the iPhone winning both from regular consumers and in my eyes at the moment. I is also still not coming to Scandinavia.

Xiaomi Mi Mix 3

I was super excited for this announcement. After flipping the Mi Mix 2s after my review I have still remembered the phone fondly. The Mix 3 seems to build on what made the last model great but with design upgrades that are both exciting and questionable.

Following Oppo’s Find X idea of pop-up cameras, Xiaomi decided against the motorized implementation and instead made a slider that you move physically and attaches magnetically. The slider only houses the from facing cameras and has been rated to last for at least 300 000 slides. That is a lot of times and for normal users that don’t take selfies all of the time it should last for over three years, if this is correct. I do however see it gathering dust and pocket-lint as much as the Oppo phone.

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The cameras are pretty much the same as on the last model, which were really good, but with software upgrades that seems to make a difference. Highest on the list is a night mode that in a lot of ways functions like the one on Huaweis devices, not necessarily as good but still to a satisfying degree. Xiaomi also stuck to the Ceramic backing with wireless charging included.
Xioami also bundles a wireless quick-charger in the box. This is a trend i really hope will catch on!

There is no official word on the Global release, but I for one look forward to it all the same.

iPhone XR

I have a hard time grasping this one. I wont start bashing the resolution as that isn’t everything and people have enjoyed Apples screens since before the X and XS. What I cannot come to terms with is the European pricing, specifically here in Sweden. The iPhone XR is just shy of the price of last years iPhone X and for that price I don’t see myself using it, nor recommending it.

It’s not the display quality in it self, but the bezels look to large to be a “full screen” with a notch. It is however available in a lot of colors which is nice to see. Even if those colors are pretty simple, and nothing like Huaweis gradient offerings.

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Offering a single rear camera Apple had to re-invent its Portrait mode and it seems like they’ve managed to do just that. With the single camera and software depth-sensing the XR looks like it takes some good portraits, and without the forced zoom that comes when using a 2 times zoom for the job. Limitations are present however and the XR will tell you it is only available on human faces.

No personally I cannot recommend this phone to my countrymen. I would go for the better looking iPhone X of 2017 instead.

OnePlus 6T

Being a fan, the 6T announcement was something I waited for. It doesn’t bring a whole lot new to the table though, and a lot of it will be ported to the previous 6 with software-updates.

There is still no wireless charging, as OnePlus claims that it is not good enough, and except for the display notch and chin shrinking the design is pretty much the same.

There is also the strange move of making the base (cheapest) model with 6 GB of RAM and 128 GB of storage. So you pay more for 8 GB of RAM with the same storage-capacity with the middle-device.

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I also found it funny that Qualcomm attended the event to market the power of the Snapdragon 845 processor that’s been used since early 2018.
The headphone jack is gone now, making room for an under the screen fingerprint sensor and a bigger (3700 MaH) battery. For me those are welcome trade-offs.

New to the OnePlus 6T is official carrier support in the US, making OnePlus more successful on this front than Huawei and Xioami. Consumers in the US can now purchase the phone in stores and it is compatible to be used with the Verizon carrier as well. This is a huge step for the company, so congratulations.

What I Walk Away With

Personally, I am disappointed by the Pixel 3 and 3 XL release. I was hyped for the announcement but has since pretty much forgotten about them.

What is most impressive this year is the fact that all of these phones running Android is launching with Android 9 Pie out of the box. Last year this was still unthinkable. Both Samsung and LG released phones this fall (Note 9 and V40) still running Android 8 and without any release date for the update.

The iPhone XR is not doing much for me, but in the US I can see that it is a valuable alternative for consumers.

I am looking at what phone I should try next, the OnePlus 6T or the Huawei Mate 20 Pro.
What do you think? Let me know in the comments below!

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