Category Archives: Android Authority

Nokia 5 review

For a budget-friendly phone, the Nokia 5 looks and feels rather premium. But for many, it’s what’s on the inside that counts, and that’s where the phone’s lower price starts to become evident. The question with any budget phone is what compromises had to be made in order to achieve the price – and whether those compromises are ones you can live with.

Find out if this budget-friendly device is right for you in our full Nokia 5 review!

Design

The Nokia 5 is sleek and doesn’t feel ‘cheap’ at all in the hand.

The Nokia 5 is sleek and doesn’t feel “cheap” at all in the hand. Like many more premium models, it’s made entirely from metal (precision-milled aluminum) and has rounded corners for a very ergonomic feel. It’s just the right amount of weighty too, giving the impression of quality as a result.

The look is also distinct, with nods to the design language of old Lumia devices. The metal chassis gives it a two-toned finish and a kind of ‘jacket’ that surrounds the front panel. My test unit has a matte chrome finish that looks very nice across the back. The device is also available in black, dark blue, and the in-vogue rose gold.

All in all, the Nokia 5’s aesthetics are not going to win any pageants against the likes of the Galaxy S8, but it’s definitely a looker.

Speakers are located on the bottom of the device and are pretty loud, though not without occasional distortion when cranked up. They’re also located just where you don’t want them for gaming. There’s a fingerprint sensor on the home button (which is an indent rather than a button) and it’s quite fast. Additionally, the phone is ‘drip’ resistant with IP52 certification, which means you won’t be able to take it swimming.

Display

The Nokia 5 sports a pretty basic 720p IPS display. If you love crisp white web pages and photos that pop on the screen before you upload them to the PC, you might be disappointed here. Watching media is acceptable but not the best experience for gaming or watching YouTube. If you use your smartphone as a primary media consumption device, then it might be worth looking for something with at least a small bump up in resolution.

This probably isn’t the best phone for people that watch a ton of YouTube videos

At 5.2 inches, you theoretically get a lot of screen real estate but this is somewhat neutered by the lower resolution. For instance, when you use Android’s multitasking feature (which does work fine in terms of performance), you won’t be able to resize apps and will be forced to stick at a 50/50 screen share. Likewise, apps feel a little squashed and claustrophobic at anything less than 100%.

Performance and hardware

The Nokia 5’s performance depends heavily on which task you’re trying to accomplish

Powering the Nokia 5 is an octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 430 processor clocked at 1.4 GHz with an Adreno 505 GPU. We’ve seen the Snapdragon 430 perform well in other low-cost handsets, though the Nokia 5’s performance depends heavily on which task you’re trying to accomplish.

For instance, we rarely ran into any issues when multitasking, despite the device’s low 2 GB of RAM. However, we did notice a ton of lag when browsing web pages and gaming, and dropped frames became somewhat normal.

It’s all perfectly serviceable, it’s just not the most pleasant experience. Whether this is acceptable to you will likely depend on whether browsing and consuming media on your phone is something you do often or particularly enjoy. If not, you may not need this to be the most polished experience.

Call quality, signal strength, Bluetooth, and Wi-Fi all work just fine and I experienced no dropped calls or other worrying issues. I will say that YouTube seemed to occasionally downgrade my resolution even on home Wi-Fi, though I’m not sure if this was just a glitch for me or not.

You’ll probably want to invest in a microSD card

What’s more likely to be a problem for the average user is the tiny amount of internal storage. You get just 16 GB, which will fill up fast if you take a few photos and install a few apps; especially as only half of that will be available when you first boot up the device. Fortunately, there is expandable storage (microSD up to 128 GB) but personally I find that to be a poor substitute and would much rather have both. I’m sure other users would feel similarly.

Battery

Battery life here is just fine. The device tends to last me all day, and I even consider myself to be a power user. In one day, I used Google Maps to navigate with the screen on during an hour-long journey, watched several YouTube programs, played Transformers: Forged to Fight, and had two long calls and it still made it well into the evening.

The device tends to last me all day, and I even consider myself to be a power user

It’s no workhorse though, and when you consider the 720p display, one might expect better battery performance. It only has a 3,000 mAh battery, so any longevity here is likely coming from the innate software optimization found in Android. Quick Charge 3.0 is a nice addition for a budget phone, which will be able to get you around a 50% charge in an hour.

Additionally, the decision to go with a MicroUSB port over USB Type-C does feel pretty backwards, and means you can expect slower transfer speeds than other Android devices out there.

Camera

Another area where corners seem to have been cut is the camera.

There was a time when cameras were Nokia’s ‘thing’, but you’ll be disappointed if you were expecting anything exciting here

There was a time when cameras were Nokia’s ‘thing’ (Lumia 1020 anyone?), but you’ll be disappointed if you were expecting anything exciting here. The megapixel count is respectable at 13 MP, but the main problem here is lighting. Most photos come out too dark, even in good lighting conditions. There is a hefty flash on the back, though it mostly leaves things with brilliant white spots and long shadows.

Daylight shots look fairly washed out most of the time, and other times they’ll appear overexposed or blurred – especially when shooting moving subjects. HDR is present and the autofocus works well enough, so you can get some nice shots with a little work and patience. Just know that you’ll want to take another camera with you on holiday and that your Facebook albums aren’t going to be the most dynamic among your friends.

Camera software is disappointingly basic too, with no fun or unique features to explore. For example, you won’t find any fun filters to play with, nor will you have the option to change settings manually. It really does feel rather stripped back.

Nokia 5 camera samples

The 8 MP front-facing camera is capable of recording video in 1080p. This ironically means you can’t play them back at full resolution until you get them home and onto the computer!

Software

The Nokia 5’s software experience is something that will make many of our readers happy though, and that’s because it’s basically running stock Android. With no bloatware or crazy customizations, things run as quickly as possible.

See also:
Android Nougat review: what’s new in Android 7.1.2?

Android Nougat review: what’s new in Android 7.1.2?

April 14, 2017

It’s also running one of the latest versions of Android, 7.1.1 Nougat, which means you’ll get access to the latest features from Google, such as Google Assistant. As long as the device is on or plugged in, you can summon Google at any time to offer you conversions in the kitchen, or to start navigation while driving. That’s a pretty great feature in such an affordable device.

With no bloatware or crazy customizations, things run as quickly as possible.

While a lot of people love the bare-bones Android experience, it’s not going to be perfect for every user. For instance, to do something simple like displaying the battery percentage in your status bar, you need to navigate to the well-hidden System UI Tuner to do so. It’d also be nice to have a tethering shortcut in the quick settings panel. Things like this demonstrate that customizations aren’t always a bad thing – and you may actually miss some of them when they’re gone. Many people won’t notice these things are missing though, and there are apps to handle most of it. As it is, stock Android can sometimes feel a little empty.

Specifications

  Nokia 5
Display 5.2-inch IPS LCD display
1280 x 720 resolution
282 ppi
2.5D Corning Gorilla Glass
Processor Octa-core 1.4 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 430 Mobile Platform
GPU Adreno 505
RAM 2 GB
Storage 16 GB
MicroSD Yes, up to 128 GB
Cameras Rear: 13 MP sensor with PDAF, 1.12 μm pixels, f/2.0 aperture, dual-tone flash

Front: 8 MP sensor with AF, 1.12 μm pixels, f/2.0 aperture, 84-degree field-of-view

Battery 3,000 mAh
Non-removable
Networks GSM: 850/900/1800/1900
WCDMA: Band 1, 2, 5, 8
LTE: Band 1, 3, 5, 7, 8, 20, 28, 38, 40
Connectivity Micro USB (USB 2.0)
USB OTG
Wi-Fi
Bluetooth 4.1
Software Android 7.1.1 Nougat
Dimensions and weight 149.7 x 72.5 x 8.05 mm
160 g
Colors Tempered Blue, Silver, Matte Black, Copper

Gallery

Pricing and final thoughts

I always find it tricky to review budget devices like this. When you spend this little – €189 to be exact – you know that you’re not likely to get the very best design, specs, and camera. Instead you need to choose which of these things matters most to you and where you want the limited budget to go. The Nokia 5 is for those people to whom looks matter more than specs and performance. If you want a phone that will serve as a bit more of a fashion statement and look good when you use it, then this might be a solid choice.

If you want a phone that will serve as a bit more of a fashion statement and look good good when you use it, then this might be a solid choice.

But if you’re someone who loves mobile gaming and consuming media, then something with a better screen and a little more oomph may be your preference. Either way, you’ll want to invest in a microSD card and you’ll probably still need to bring a camera with you when you travel.

Like the Nokia 5’s look but want a little more screen resolution and maybe some stereo speakers? Then check out the Nokia 6. Because it’s, well, that.

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Swidget is a modular smart home system hidden in your outlets

Turning your current living space into a smart home can be complicated and expensive, but things are changing. We are starting to see accessories like the Belkin Wemo Switch and Phillips Hue lights, which can turn any space into an intelligent one. The newest addition to this trend comes from crowdfunding site Kickstarter, and it goes by the name of Swidget.

Other featured campaigns:

Swidget looks like an ordinary wall plug, but its true functionality comes from its modular design, which allows you to turn any electrical outlet into part of your smart home system. There is a slot in the middle, which can be occupied by one of the many inserts offered by the company. These include motion sensors, night lights, cameras, Alexa repeaters, USB chargers, speakers, WiFi extenders, speakers and more.

Said accessories can then connect to services like Smartthings, Nest, Google Home, Alexa and others to work with your other intelligent devices.

One thing about current smart home products is that once set up, trying to re-arrange things can become an annoying task. It is Swidget’s modularity that takes it to the next step. Inserts can easily adapt to new set-ups, which likely makes this the most versatile product of its kind.

Interested? You can sign up for the experience for as low as $38 by backing the Kickstarter project. Go check out the campaign and hit the comments to tell us what you think of Swidget!

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Don’t buy a new flagship smartphone right now – here’s why

The month of August has traditionally been one of the slowest of the year in terms of new smartphone releases (and, really, for tech news in general). Part of the reason is that many of us are trying to enjoy our nearly ending summers and get in some vacation time before the kids have to go back to school and/or college.

So with nothing new immediately coming out, you might be tempted to purchase a new flagship phone right about now. Here’s some friendly advice: Don’t do it.

 

Big price cuts are on their way

So far in 2017, we have seen a ton of impressive flagship phones hit the market, including the Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus, the LG G6, the HTC U11, the Motorola Moto Z2 Force, the OnePlus 5 and many more — but the year isn’t over.

As you might already know, IFA is almost here, and around this time we see plenty of new handsets  prepare to hit the scene. Okay, but what if you don’t want one of those shiny new late-2017 flagships? You should still wait until they are announced (or, better yet, released).

While we have seen some temporary, and even permanent, price cuts on many of 2016 and 2017’s flagships already, this trend will heat up even further as the new fall flagships arrive. That means if you are in love with a late-2016 or early-2017 model, waiting just a bit longer could allow you to pick it up at a significant discount. This includes used phones, which tend to see pretty big drops in pricing after the next generation of devices are announced.

So if you like a current flagship, do yourself a favor and wait just a few more months. Your wallet will appreciate it.

The new phones are on their way very soon, like tomorrow even

Another reason why you shouldn’t buy a phone now is that more options are coming soon.  If you want to get your hands on the latest and greatest flagship phones, we would definitely advise you to wait. Over the next couple of months, we will see a ton of new phones launch from nearly every major phone maker, and even a couple of newcomers.

In fact, the announcements may start as early as this week. HMD Global is expected to hold a press event in London on August 16 where it will reportedly reveal its latest Nokia branded smartphone, the Nokia 8. Rumors and leaks about the Nokia 8 claim it will have specs like the current processor speed leader, the Qualcomm Snapdragon 835, inside, along with Zeiss-branded dual-camera on the back.

 

Next week, Samsung is expected to officially announce the Galaxy Note 8, its latest large screen phone, at a press event in New York City on August 23. It’s expected to have an 6.4-inch Infinity Display and an embedded S Pen stylus, which has become the trademark of the Note series. The Note 8 is expected to go on sale sometime late in August or in September.

We may also get some details about the launch date of the new Essential Phone this week or next week. The nearly bezel-free phone comes from a new company, Essential, that was founded by Android co-creator Andy Rubin. While a number of the company’s major executives have already departed before the phone’s launch, the handset does seem to have some solid hardware specs. We will have to see if it will compete with the established flagships that are already on the market, or will be launched later.

At the end of August, our eyes will turn over to Berlin for the start of the 2017 IFA trade show. LG has already confirmed it will officially announced a new phone, the V30, at a press event on August 30. The V30 is rumored to share the same 18:9 aspect ratio for its display that was included in the current G6 phone, with a 6-inch main screen combined with a new software “floating bar” that will take the place of the V20’s secondary display. The V30 is expected to go on sale in mid-to-late September.

 

Let’s not forget Google in this mix. The company behind Android is planning to launch successors to its Pixel family of smartphones later this fall. Rumors claim that the smaller Pixel 2 will be made by HTC (who made both the first Pixel and Pixel XL phones in 2016) while LG will create the larger Pixel 2 XL.The two phones may likely be the first two to have Android 8.0, also known for now as Android O, out of the box. We can expect to see both phones go on sale sometime in October.

While they are not Android phones, we can’t ignore the fact that Apple is almost certainly going to launch new models of its popular iPhone later this fall. In addition to iPhone 7s and iPhone 7S Plus, Apple is highly expected to launch the iPhone 8, which is rumored to have an all new nearly bezel-free display along with other high-end features.

Believe it or not, that’s just a sample of the new flagship phones that might be on our way in the next couple of months. We could also see new high-end and mid-ranges phones coming from Motorola, Sony, Huawei, and others, and there may be one or two surprises that we don’t know anything about yet.

Conclusion

Hopefully, this will help convince you that buying a new high-end phone right now is not the best idea. We will see a a ton of new devices coming on the market soon, and the current phones will see big price drops. Android Authority will be here to cover all of these new launches and provide you with the best information so you can pick the phone that’s right for your needs, and your budget.

In the meantime, which upcoming smartphone are you most looking forward to checking out? Let us know what you think in the comments!

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Pixel 2 FCC listing shows Android 8.0.1 pre-loaded and more

Google’s upcoming Pixel 2 phone, the successor to 2016’s Pixel handset, is now officially listed on the website for the US’s Federal Communications Commission. The FCC listing confirms a few of the previous rumors about the phone, along with revealing that it will have Android 8.0.1, also known for now as Android O, installed out of the box.

See also:
Google Pixel 2: Everything we know so far

Google Pixel 2: Everything we know so far

1 week ago

The listing was filed by HTC, which confirms rumors that the Taiwan-based company is making the smaller of the two planned Pixel 2 phones for Google (the larger model, the successor to the Pixel XL, is rumored to be made by LG). The FCC listing includes screenshots that mention an “Active Edge” feature in the Pixel 2’s “Languages, input and gestures” settings. This is likely to be a reference for the Pixel 2’s rumored ability to let owners squeeze its sides to perform various phone functions, similar to the same Edge Sense feature found on the HTC U11. The listing also seems to suggest that the Pixel 2 will be released with at least 64 GB of onboard storage, and will come with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor.

All of this would seem to be consistent with previous rumors about the Pixel 2, which have also claimed that it will have two front-facing stereo speakers, but will also ditch the traditional 3.5 mm headphone jack. The design of the Pixel 2 is also rumored to be nearly identical to the current Pixel handset. Google will likely reveal both the Pixel 2 and the Pixel 2 XL officially later this fall, with a possible launch in October.

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Edge Sense Plus makes the HTC U11 a shortcut machine

The HTC U11 is good at a lot of things. The speakers – while not front facing – are top notch, performance is speedy, and the screen is big and bright. Perhaps the most standout feature on the U11 is Edge Sense, which lets you launch custom shortcuts when you squeeze the sides of the phone. It sounds weird, but I’m a huge fan.

As it stands right now, you’re a tad limited in what actions you can use with Edge Sense. You can program either a short of a long squeeze to launch the default voice assistant, open the camera, launch an app on your phone, take a screenshot, and perform a few other actions. HTC has been teasing some notable improvements to Edge Sense including the ability to zoom in on Google Maps and Photos with a squeeze, answer/hang up phone calls, dismiss alarms, and pause videos, but unfortunately these updates haven’t arrived yet.

Luckily there’s an app out there that lets you maximize your U11’s Edge Sense powers. It’s called Edge Sense Plus.

I’ve been using Edge Sense Plus ever since I received my U11, and I’m not planning on looking back. It’s not that Edge Sense is unfinished or lacking in any substantial way, but this new third-party app, at least in my opinion, enhances the whole experience.

Edge Sense Plus gives you access to more shortcuts. For instance, you can set Edge Sense Plus to launch things like the recent apps menu, toggle pre-set brightness settings, switch to vibration mode, skip tracks in your media player, launch split screen mode, go to the lock screen… the list goes on. Here’s the full list of shortcuts you can currently use with Edge Sense Plus:

  • Action per app
  • Open the Sidebar
  • Start application
  • Shortcut (direct calls, messages, etc.)
  • Recent apps
  • Auto-rotation
  • Brightness
  • DnD
  • Vibration
  • Bluetooth
  • Wi-Fi
  • Play/pause media player
  • Previous track
  • Next track
  • Keep awake
  • Google Assistant
  • HTC Alexa
  • Lock screen
  • Back
  • Home
  • Split screen
  • Expand/collapse status bar
  • Expand status bar
  • Sync toggle
  • Sync all accounts
  • Previous app
  • Flashlight
  • NFC (root)
  • GPS (root)
  • Turn off display (root)
  • Screenshot (root)

 

Most of these options are pretty self explanatory, but there’s one feature that’s definitely worth pointing out. It’s called the Sidebar, and it gives you easy access to a convenient, customizable sidebar that appears on the edge of your screen when you squeeze your phone. You can include any application you want in the Sidebar, and also include quick settings and recent apps shortcuts if you choose to invest in the premium version. You can even change the colors of the panel, title, divider, and more.

You don’t even have to be on the home screen to activate the Sidebar. Just squeeze your phone when your in any app and it’ll show up.

I’ve set my short-squeeze action to launch the Sidebar and my long-squeeze action to play/pause my favorite podcast client, Pocket Casts. For me, I find it really convenient to pause my podcasts by squeezing my phone rather than pressing the power button then tapping pause on my screen.

It also lets you set a sound to play when you perform a short or long squeeze, which can be fun and a little annoying at times

But the extra features don’t stop there. The app lets you set a sound to play when you perform a short or long squeeze, which can be fun and a little annoying at times. I set my phone to make a BB-8 sound every time I launched the Sidebar, which got old really fast. Maybe I should try it with a sound that’s a little less jarring.

What’s more, you can also enable the G-Sensor, which allows you to trigger different actions based on your phone’s position. For instance, my normal short-squeeze action might be to launch the Sidebar when I’m holding it, but when my device is laying down I can set it to activate the lock screen. It’s a nice touch.

If you’d like to take everything one step further, you can invest in the premium version of Edge Sense Plus, which will run you just $2.99. For that price, you’ll be able to set a double-squeeze action, set a long- and double-squeeze actions with G-Sensor enabled, set your own double squeeze interval, and more.

I love this app, and it’s really awesome to see developers take an impressive hardware feature and run with it. If you own a U11, have you given Edge Sense Plus a shot? What would you like to see HTC bring to Edge Sense? Let us know in the comments.

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