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Our 2017 Top 5 Smartphones

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If you are not already tired with the number of advertisements from the Samsung and Apple’s latest flagship phones everywhere you go, then you must be really disconnected from the world at the moment, or “Teen Titans Go!” is your favorite show.  Even then, you might be drawn into the latest phones to play “Pokemon Go!”.  Well if you don’t understand of what I’m talking about, try watching an NFL game on Sunday.  There should be at least an advertisement from Samsung or Apple on every media timeouts in the game that was/will be televised probably till the end of the 2017/18 NFL season.  Let’s face it, they are the leaders in the industry at the moment, but let’s not forget about the other guys.  Some of which we believe are great phones that gets no love.  Matter of fact, some of which I’d rather have than the iPhone or Note.  Well maybe…..  Either way, we compiled a list of phones that you might want to consider. 


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5.  Motorola Moto X4 | Grade: B+

Despite their issues in the past, Moto X still feel like the perfect example of what effect Motorola can change in the Android world. "Moto X" was synonymous with being greater than the sum of its parts, and offering an experience that was wonderful despite not having the absolute latest specs and piles of features.


When rumors of a Moto X line returns, the hype was instantly ignited. For all of the success of the Moto G line and the ambition of the Moto Z line, Motorola fans just wanted a new Moto X — and hopefully, one that was a true continuation of what made its predecessors so intriguing.  That they got.

On September 20, 2017, Google and Motorola announced that the Moto X4 will be coming to Google’s Project Fi wireless carrier with the stripped-down Android One treatment. The Project Fi Moto X4 will cost around $399 and come in two colors: black or silver.

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Although the Android One version of the X4 is a little different than the one Motorola is selling in Europe and other parts of the world, which means that it lacks some of the enhancements that Motorola adds to its Android phones.  Moto Voice, Moto Access, attentive display, or one-button navigation options on the Fi phone will not be available.  It will have Motorola’s helpful gestures and some display customizations.  Fi X4 will not have Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant either — the Google Assistant will be the only voice assistant option on the phone.

Android 7.1 Nougat is launched with the smartphone, but will receive an update to Android Oreo before the end of the year.  It is expected that the Android One Moto X4 will be among the first phones to receive Android P when that is released.  Otherwise, the hardware of the Fi Moto X4 is the same as the one announced in early September 2017.

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It has a 5.2-inch 1080p display, Snapdragon 630 processor, 3,000mAh battery, and IP68 water and dust resistance. It has a dual-rear camera with 12-megapixel and 8-megapixel sensors, plus a 16-megapixel front camera with special low-light mode.  This is an important mark for Android One, as it is the first non-Google phone to be offered on Google’s own Project Fi service.  Originally the only phones that officially worked with Fi were Google’s Nexus and Pixel phones. Since the launch of the Pixel and Pixel XL, the cheapest Project Fi phone available cost $649.

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This probably won’t be the last Android One phone in the US — Google has committed to bringing the Android One experience to more price points in the future — nor will it likely be the last non-Google Project Fi phone to come. But it is a good mid-range option from a known manufacturer, which should help bring more into the Project Fi fold.


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4.  LG V30 | Grade: B

The LG V30 is a high-end handset in every sense.  It features a dual camera setup, class-leading processor, and an edge-to-edge OLED display. LG focused primarily on the video and audio experiences with its latest flagship, and has delivered one of the most impressive mobile entertainment packages.lg-v30-ifa-1.jpg

Information from carriers and retailers regarding the V30’s availability and price are yet available.  According to Android Authority, pre-orders began in South Korea on September 15, and the U.S. on September 17, and then the rest of the world on September 28.   At the moment, we don’t know when to expect the V30 in the United States.

When the LG V30 does begin shipping, it will come with a bonus.   A Daydream View headset.  Leaked promotional material on AT&T’s website mentions an included “VR Content Package” (with a $145 price tag) with Google’s Daydream View VR headset. The listing has since been removed, but we expect LG to either confirm or deny it ahead of the V30’s ship date.

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The V30 has been heavily inspired by the design of the LG G6. It features a similar “bezel-less” screen, with rounded corners bordering the display, and the same orientation of the dual cameras and fingerprint sensor around back. The sides are glass, which doesn’t help with durability — we cracked one while writing our LG V30 hands on — but the phone does look more polished than last year’s metallic LG V20.

The six-inch screen features an 18:9 aspect ratio with a resolution of 2,880 x 1,440, just like the G6 — although it differs in one significant way. Whereas the G6’s panel was LCD, the V30’s is OLED. It is a new direction for LG and in line with the way the industry is heading, thanks to the technology’s ability to provide more vivid colors, including perfect blacks, and dynamically conserve battery.




It is also a departure from a trend established in previous V-series devices — the second display. Unlike the V20 and the V10 before it, the V30 does not have a “ticker” above the primary screen, beside the front-facing camera. The full-face display negates the need for it, the company claims, and it replaced the shortcuts and action previously stored there with a software solution — a floating quick actions bar that can be revealed or hidden at any time.

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The V30 carries Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 835 system-on-chip, and paired with 4GB of RAM. The base model offers 64GB of internal storage, though you can expand it thanks to a Micro SD slot. The battery weighs in at 3,300mAh, which is about average for its class, and support for wireless charging.




One of the ways the V30 has an excellent audio system. Similar to the V20, the V30 has an upgraded 32-bit Quad DAC system for richer and more accurate sound. LG is the only mainstream manufacturer really innovating the listening experience in this way, so we hope the implementation is spot-on once again. The phone will also stream high-resolution audio in a way that conserves more data.

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The V30 won’t be the first smartphone to launch with the latest version of Android. You won’t find Android 8.0 Oreo on the V30, but Android 7.1.2 instead. LG has confirmed it is already working on bringing the update to the V30 shortly after the phone launches. You’ll also see some new special features like Voice Imprint, which lets you unlock your phone with a pre-selected voice phrase, as well as a facial-recognition feature lets you unlock the V30 with your face. Google Assistant is also on board, and LG has worked with the search giant to offer commands tied to the cameras that only work on the V30.




LG also invested a great deal of effort into improving the V20’s camera capability. The V30 utilizes a similar pairing of a standard and wide-angle lens, with the former rated at 16 megapixels and the latter at 13. But the new device goes a few steps further, with an f/1.6 aperture and an f/1.9 aperture, respectively. The bigger aperture will allow more light into shots, which should especially improve images captured in dark environments. It should also help reduce distortion with the wide-angle lens. At the front, there is a 5-megapixel wide-angle camera for selfies.

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LG also implemented a new technology with the V30 known as Point and Zoom. Simply tap an object on the screen and a slider will appear, allowing you to close in on that aspect of the frame first using the wide-angle lens, before switching to the normal one, and then using digital zoom. It should be a handy feature for producing fun videos and blends the V30’s two cameras in a seamless, intuitive way. It works in a new camera mode in the V30 called Cine Video, which offers a number of color-graded themes designed around movie genres. These are added to videos before you start filming.




One of the V20’s weak points was its lack of durability. Although it complies with a variety of military standard tests, it isn’t water resistant — putting it at a disadvantage next to the Apple iPhone and Samsung Galaxy series. Part of that was due to the removable battery and back cover, which has been removed this time around. Sealing the components has allowed the V30 to achieve that IP68 rating. Possible worthy trade.

The V30 utilizes a combination of Corning’s Gorilla Glass 5 on both sides, and Gorilla Glass 4 over the camera lenses to keep the device scratch- and shatter-free. LG also says it improved the handset’s heat management and dispersion — something phone makers do not typically point out, which is an encouraging sign.




3.  Doogee S60 | Grade: B+

There are a few rugged smartphones on the market.  The Galaxy Active series or the LG X Venture are a couple notable ones.  But those aren't tough enough. If you’re going to get something that rugged, you need a phone that will survive "fields, underwater and other outdoor environments"?  The phone needs to self-portray itself as "manly, strong, and a definite leader in the market".  Check out the Doogee S60.  It may be your new “huckleberry”.nexus2cee_s60_6.jpg

The Doogee S60 has an extremely durable design made of a "special material", and is covered in a gold finish.  Now that’s tough.  The front has a 5.2" HD display with Gorilla Glass 5. The S60 is powered by a MediaTek Helio P25, which "features a powerful performance" and is "rarely found in a professional rugged phone." The Galaxy Active phones would be a better fit for the MediaTek chip, but that’s Doogee way of “living on the edge”.  Or is it “cutting the edge”.

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This phone is made for outdoor use.  Built-in sensors include a compass, gyroscope, baroreceptor, and coulomb meter.  It’s all you need when lost in a forest.  If you aren't already rushing to grab your wallet, you should know that Doogee is making a "Game of Throne Edition" of the S60.  You can win one from the contest on Doogee's website, and each unit has a GoT quote embedded on the back, with one at the moment, says "Hordor."

As a rugged phone, Doogee S60 had achieved IP68 protection, and the body is designed with a special material and enhanced craftsmanship for drop and shock resistance as well. S60 is covered by a gold finish with black plastic cushion around the corners. Almost the whole back cover is made of aluminum alloy, a highly intensive aerospace grade material which is much stronger than other materials.

As oppose to the display, the S60 minimizes the bezel to get a unique 5.2” FHD display. The screen is protected by Corning Gorilla Glass 5. It’ll take quite a bit of an impact to crack the screen.  Overall, S60 is manly, strong, and special in market.

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The powerful performance with an octa-core MTK Helio P25, and is rarely found in a professional rugged phone. The 6GB of RAM fits right along with the “Supersized American” image.  It runs on Android 7.0 Nougat out of box, and 64GB/128GB of internal storage.  The 5580mAh battery is impressive. The massive battery can sustain for a moderate use of three days in this phone. Moreover, the advanced fast charging technology up to 12V-2A is applied to S60, which gives 30% power in 10 minutes charging. Wireless charging and OTG are supported, making S60 a backup power bank.




S60 is using the Sony® IMX 230 sensor with an incredibly big 1/2.4 inch of CMOS size, a popular camera sensor which were applied in Huawei, Xiaomi flagships. The camera supports PDAF and OIS technology, which are working together to improve focus speed by 100% and create crystal-clear photos.

The S60 is designed to work in fields, underwater and other outdoor environments. So the GPS and GLONASS navigating system are essential. There are many useful sensors built-in, such as compass, gyroscope, coulomb-meter, baroceptor, which helps when you are exploring the fields.  NFC is supported, just as a physical PTT (Push to Talk) button and SOS button are put in the side of S60.



2.  Sony Xperia XZ1  | Grade: B+

The Sony Xperia XZ1 is their latest flagship phone.  Similar to the past, they have indulged its seemingly irrepressible passion for its omni-balance design, which has changed in subtle ways over the last four years.AndroidPIT-Sony-XZ1-compact-7422-w782.jpg

The Xperia XZ1 made its way to India on September 25, 2017.   Launch offers include 5 percent cashback on purchases made with HDFC and ICICI cards and a discount on the Style Cover Stand.  While the US was expecting September 19 and September 22 in the UK but is now released.  We don’t yet have availability dates for other regions around the world. 

Sony Xperia XZ1 is setting the price at $699.99 and is SIM-free at launch. The Xperia XZ1 is a couple of years old, such is its similarity to previous handsets such as the Xperia XZ from 2016, which is its immediate predecessor, as well as the Xperia Z5 (2015) and Xperia Z3 (2014).

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The specifications are more 2017 with a Snapdragon 835 chipset, 4GB of RAM, 19MP rear-facing camera, HDR support for the display and Android 8.0 Oreo on board.  That said, in a year when Samsung, LG and Apple have all gone almost bezel-less, and HTC and OnePlus overhauled their design propositions.  I don’t know…. It feels like Sony is slipping behind everyone... Slick premium design, but it looks dated and bezel-heavy.  It is water and dust resistance, with an easy-access microSD slot. 

Sony has aimed on revolutionizing its flagship phones for a slicker, more impressive finish, which design hasn’t moved on in a significant way for several years now.  It means the Sony Xperia XZ1 looks a little dated, especially next to the Samsung Galaxy S8 and LG G6 boasting impressively small bezels – and with the iPhone X adopting this futuristic look as well it feels like Sony is missing a trick.  It’s not the only manufacturer to keep the additional space around the screen though – the new iPhone 8, HTC U11 and OnePlus 5 all boast sizable bezel – but there’s no question that the bezel-less look is a lot better.




Xperia XZ1 is a touch thinner than its predecessor at 7.4mm (down from 8.1mm), and it boasts a metal uni-body carved from a single piece of aluminum, giving it a strong yet surprisingly lightweight feel in the hand – an improvement over the XZ.  There are three antenna breakout points on the handset, which appear as three slender bands on the sides of the device. Sony says these will improve network connection no matter how you’re holding the phone.  This makes the Xperia XZ1 a touch more expensive than the LG G6, HTC U11 and iPhone 7, but cheaper than the Samsung Galaxy S8 and iPhone 8.




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1.  Yota Phone 3 | Grade: B

Yota phones biggest pitch which stood out from the rest is of its integration of both a regular touchscreen and an E Ink screen on the same device.  After two moderate releases of the phone, Yota is making a comeback with the Yota 3, or Yotaphone 3.  A new model set to go on sale later this year. It’s the first we’ve heard of Yota since 2016, when a 30 percent stake in the Russian firm was acquired by Rex Global Entertainment Holdings, a Hong Kong-based entertainment company, under the name of China Baoli Innovation Technologies.image.jpg

While the phone has been announced, official details and images are still filtering through. This isn’t your traditional phone.  Yet, it’s not even an ideal phone, but if you really think about it, it’s pretty revolutionary.  The Yota phones traditionally have two screens.  A normal touchscreen on the front, and an E Ink display on the back. The Yota 3 will have the same setup, and although the phone has been officially announced, images were less common than you’d expect. A series of press shots have now been published by the Yotaphone Club, which may give us a proper look at the device.

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The front of the phone has a fingerprint sensor under the screen, and the device appears to have a metal body shell. While it looks like many other smartphones released over the past few years, the screen on the back, which measures 5.2-inches, separates it from the pack. And at first glance it’s difficult to tell which is the front and rear of the Yota 3. Under the E Ink screen is Yota’s branding, and there are Android-style software buttons to control the interface.

It’s impossible to see the thickness of the Yota 3, which has been an issue in the past, and no dimensions have been released. The press images — which haven’t come directly from Yota, and therefore may not be accurate — are flattering though, and the phone looks good.

The previous Yota phones have been a challenge to buy, with limited releases in varying parts of the world. Once again a wide international release for the Yota 3 seems unlikely.  Two versions are likely to be made, a $350 64GB model and a more expensive $450 model with 128GB of storage space. However, a Russian source says the Yota3 is only destined for release in China — where China Baoli has the sales rights — and in Russia around November this year. This site claims the Yota 3 will be sold in China and Russia from September, but doesn’t provide a source.

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While Yota’s intentions are good, the company has struggled recently.  A failed manufacturing partnership with ZTE, various executives including the CEO leaving the firm, and a failed crowd-funding campaign to bring the YotaPhone 2 to the United States.




Now they’re back.  Apparently, we should expect a 5.5-inch AMOLED screen on the front, and a 5.2-inch E Ink screen on the back, according to specs published by Engadget.  A Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 processor and 4GB of RAM is likely to power the phone, putting it squarely up against other midrange Android phones such as the Motorola Moto Z Play, and the Huawei Nova. Two screens won’t stop the Yota 3 from having two cameras. Expect a 12-megapixel camera on the back, and a 13-megapixel selfie cam on the front. Other specifications include a MicroSD card slot, and dual-SIM configuration. The phone will run Android 7.0 Nougat with Yota’s own Yota 3.0 OS dual-operating system interface over the top.  It’s not a bad phone, but even worth the try.




We pretty sure there will be more phone releasing very shortly after this article.  But we thought we get you on a head start with ideas of (iPhone & Note)less devices.  My opinion, I’d like to take a chance on the Yotaphone 3.