10 Best Android Launchers

Every Android phone has a home screen launcher. It’s the one app that we use the most. One of the unique features of Android is the ability to change the home screen launcher. As a result, there are tons of different launchers to choose from. Launchers some of the most downloaded apps in Play Store. It can be hard to sift through them all. We’ve got 10 launchers that are worth your time. Enjoy!

Nova Launcher

Nova Launcher is not only a great home screen replacement, it’s also one of the best Android apps ever made. Nova has been getting regular updates since Ice Cream Sandwich. It’s currently our favorite launcher. What makes Nova so great is the plethora of customization options. At the core, it’s a basic stock launcher, but it can do so much more. All it takes is a little tweaking to get the perfect home screen.

  • Download: Nova Launcher
  • Price: Free
  • Rating: 4.6
  • Installs: 10,000,000 – 50,000,000

Action Launcher 3

Action Launcher is a great launcher if you’re looking for some unique features. The home screen can change color (search bar, folders, etc) depending on your wallpaper, “Shutters” allow you to see a widget by swiping up on an app icon, “Quickpage” is a slide-out drawer for widgets, and “Covers” turn app icons into folders. Action Launcher is very powerful.

Apex Launcher

Apex Launcher first arrived around the same time as Nova Launcher. At one time, Apex had more customization options than Nova. The two launchers have a lot in common. They’re basic stock launchers with a ton of customization options. You can have something that looks very plain or trick it out in a completely unique look.

  • Download: Apex Launcher
  • Price: Free
  • Rating: 4.3
  • Installs: 10,000,000 – 50,000,000

Arrow Launcher

Arrow is a super lightweight and fast launcher from Microsoft. One of the main features is a page with widgets that show things like recent photos, frequently used apps, favorite contacts, and more. Each of the widgets can be “pinned” as their own page on your home screen. If you like Bing, Arrow can change the wallpaper every day to the Bing photo.

  • Download: Arrow Launcher
  • Price: Free
  • Rating: 4.4
  • Installs: 1,000,000 – 5,000,000

Aviate Launcher

The Aviate Launcher offers a fresh take on the app drawer. Instead of an alphabetical grid or list of icons, Aviate automatically organizes your apps into folders. The categorized folders are just a swipe away. The home screen is a simple 10 icon dock and you can swipe up to see favorite contacts to call or message. If you like organization, Aviate is a nice option.

Evie Launcher

Evie Launcher is one of the newest apps on our list. It has a minimalist design that will remind you of the stock Android launcher. All your apps are stored in a drawer that can be opened by swiping up. The drawer can be organized in a list or grid. Swiping down on the home screen opens a universal search for all types of things.

  • Download: Evie Launcher
  • Price: Free
  • Rating: 4.6
  • Installs: 500,000 – 1,000,000

ASAP Launcher

As the name implies, ASAP Launcher is all about speed. The dock at the bottom can be expanded to show recent apps and your pinned favorites. ASAP also puts your quick settings just a swipe away. Swipe in from the right edge to show toggles for things like brightness, WiFi, Bluetooth, Airplane mode, and more. The drawer is organized into a vertical list with a search bar.

  • Download: ASAP Launcher
  • Price: Free
  • Rating: 4.3
  • Installs: 100,000 – 500,000

Solo Launcher

Solo Launcher (no relation to Han) prides itself on being a launcher for “DIY themers.” It has a “Beautify” app that allows you to change the theme, wallpaper, fonts, and more. Solo also has a wide range of gestures that help you navigate the interface quickly. The right side has a page for news and universal search helps you find anything.

  • Download: Solo Launcher
  • Price: Free
  • Rating: 4.5
  • Installs: 100,000 – 500,000

ADW Launcher 2

ADW is the oldest launcher on this list, but it was seemingly abandoned a couple of times. Last year, ADW came back from the dead for the second time. ADW was the most customizable launcher before any of the other launchers on this list existed. It has more options than you can shake a stick at. ADW was the OG launcher for hardcore users and it’s still great.

  • Download: ADW Launcher 2
  • Price: Free
  • Rating: 4.3
  • Installs: 10,000,000 – 50,000,000

Smart Launcher 3

Everything is “smart” these days, so why not have a Smart Launcher? This launcher is designed to make your phone more intuitive and organized. The main screen gives you access to basic phone functions like camera, browser, photos, etc. The app drawer is organized into categories automatically, and the search bar is universal. It can even turn off your display with a double-tap.

  • Download:Smart Launcher 3
  • Price: Free
  • Rating: 4.4
  • Installs: 10,000,000 – 50,000,000

More Great Apps

In loving memory of LauncherPro

http://phandroid.com/2017/02/16/best-android-launchers/

ZTE Blade V8 Pro vs Honor 6X [PICS]

For a vast majority of folks, smartphone cameras are one of the most important aspects for anyone in the market for a new smartphone. Typically, we see high-end flagships receive the majority of the testing, while lower-end models simply fall to the wayside. It probably has something to do with the fact that most people expect low-end devices to deliver poor, if not average results at best.

But it seems we’ve reached a point where having an affordable Android device doesn’t necessarily mean you have to sacrifice too much when it comes to photo quality. For instance, a few weeks back we put the Honor 6X in a head-to-head match against the iPhone 7 and lo and behold, the 6X not only held its own, it actually beat the iPhone in some instances. What a time to be alive…

Running with that idea, we wanted to take a look at another recently released Android device — the ZTE Blade V8 Pro — and see if the phone’s shooting capabilities are up to snuff. Seeing as how most people searching for a new sub $250 smartphone will likely be checking out the ZTE Blade V8 Pro and the Honor 6X, we decided to compare the results of each in a photo shootout. Which phone comes out on top? See for yourself.

Daytime shooting

We’ve said this plenty of times before: bright, sunny, outdoor sunshine is the best lighting environment for any sort of camera, especially smartphone cameras with their tiny sensors. This is as absolutely the best possible situation and if you’re looking for maximum quality — this is as good as it’s going to get.

I had really high hopes for the ZTE Blade V8 Pro but to my surprise, it didn’t really stand much of a chance against the Honor 6X (which easily held its own again the iPhone 7 in a previous camera shootout). Both the Blade V8 Pro and 6X feature 12MP cameras, so detail was about the same on both. I might give the slight edge to the BV8P which allowed a bit more noise to creep into shots, thus resulting in slightly higher detail when it came to fine textured concrete, stucco, asphalt, or fabrics. As we mentioned before, the Honor 6X is quite aggressive with its post processing, smoothing out anything it thinks might be noise, even at its lowest ISO setting.

ZTE Blade V8 Pro (left), Honor 6X (right)

The biggest differences between the two devices was how piss poor the Blade V8 Pro’s dynamic range was. It’s so contrasty that anything remotely dark in an image is almost pitch black, while brighter areas are completely blown out. The best example of this being the beat up old van. On the V8 Pro, you can barely make out the rims, while the sunlight on the hood is almost pure white. If there was one area where the Honor 6X absolutely mopped the floor with the Blade V8 Pro it was in dynamic range.

One thing I did like about the the Blade V8 Pro was the color vibrancy (something that even carried to low light shooting). Sure, it may not be as “color accurate,” but normies will enjoy it. Photos on the BV8P mostly had a more pure white color balance (the Honor 6X always looks a tad too warm), but sometimes an odd pink hue would creep in and ruin things. If you look at the sky above the blue van, it almost looks purple. Yeah, not good.

The front facing camera test once again was no contest, even with both phones featuring 8MP shooters. Once again, the Blade V8 Pro photos had way too much contrast with virtually no detail to them. Of course, not everybody is a fan of super detailed front facing cameras, but even then each device offers its own “beautifying” software features to help smooth things out.

Paired photos: ZTE Blade V8 Pro (left), Honor 6X (right)

Night time / indoor low light

Now, we already know how awful the Honor 6X was at low light shooting, it was something I made clear in both my iPhone 7 comparison and my review. That being said, the Honor 6X set the bar pretty low, so I can’t say I was expecting the ZTE Blade V8 Pro to be much worse. After looking over the photos from the Blade V8 Pro, it’s sort of a mixed bag.

Of course, the photos on the Blade V8 Pro were still as contrasty as ever, but it in some low lighting conditions… it kind of works. For indoor restaurant lighting, the V8 Pro’s images had near perfect white balance (Honor 6X was mostly pink), much more vibrant colors, and typically less noise. Sure the photo can be a little darker than you’d probably want it, but shadows can be edited in post to help lighten them a bit.

Heading outside, I’d probably have to give the win to the Honor 6X, if for nothing else than its better dynamic range. Sure, the colors on the ZTE Blade Pro V8 had a lot more pop to them and there was a more accurate white balance, but that only goes so far. As usual, lights on the Blade VP where completely blown out and the image was far too dark to see anything. There was just no middle ground (something the Honor 6X was able to find) and made taking photos of human subjects nearly impossible.

Taking things back inside to the worst possible lighting environment — an extremely dimly lit bar — the tables quickly turn in favor of the Honor 6X. Here the ZTE Blade V8 Pro struggled to focus on subjects, requiring more than a few taps to get the focus just right. Even then, the image was just too dark to make heads or tails out of anything and ZTE Blade V8 Pro’s extremely aggressive noise filtering kicked in, smoothing things out beyond recognition.

I never thought a competing camera could actually make the Honor 6X look good, but the Blade V8 Pro in this extremely challenging lighting situation proved me wrong. It was the same story with the front facing camera inside a dimly lit car, with the Honor 6X actually looking pretty darn acceptable. Who would’a thunk.

Paired photos: ZTE Blade V8 Pro (left), Honor 6X (right)

Performance

Performance is where the gap really widens between the two devices. I’ve already talked about the slow shutter/save speed on the Honor 6X and yes, it’s bad. Real bad. Even in outside daylight, the shutter is just slow and makes taking photos feel like a chore. You don’t want to have to think when taking a photo, but the Honor 6X forces you to remain perfectly still after taking a photo to avoid a blurred photo.

The ZTE Blade V8 Pro on the other hand, is the exact opposite. Snapping photos happens in an instant. Even in HDR mode (really, the only way you should be taking photos on this phone), the BV8P still fires off shots and saves them quicker than the Honor 6X in its regular auto mode. Speaking of HDR, it’s all but completely broken on the Honor 6X. Shooting in this mode does virtually nothing to increase dynamic range on the device (which, to be fair, already does a pretty good job in auto mode), leaving me to wonder if it’s really just enabled by default.

Of course, quickly snapping a photo will only take you so far, especially if you have to manually tap-to-focus just to lock onto your subject. That’s where the Blade V8 Pro falls short, especially during nighttime shooting or indoor shots. Both phones feature your standard phase detection auto focus (PDAF) but more often than not, the V8 Pro had trouble locking onto just about anything, making tap-to-focus a necessity in most every situation.

Dual camera mode

ZTE Blade V8 Pro (left), Honor 6X (right) in dual-camera mode

Because dual rear cameras are all the rage these days, both devices feature a two cameras on the rear, with the secondary camera used mainly to add a shallow depth of field special effect. These “virtual aperture” effects are supposed to simulate a wide aperture lens, but are mostly trash across both devices.

Comparing the two, the ZTE Blade V8 Pro does do a slightly better job at keeping subjects in focus and blurring out backgrounds, but it’s certainly not perfect and nowhere near what you’ll find on the iPhone 7 Plus. I also found the UI used to play around with the virtual aperture setting on photos to be a bit more user friendly on the Blade V8 Pro, so we’ll have to give the Blade the “dual-camera win” overall.

This was a really tough bout. Although it’s clear that neither device is perfect, in the end we’re going to have to give the final win to the Honor 6X. Although the ZTE Blade V8 Pro was nice in some lower indoor lighting conditions (surprisingly so), that was the only area where the phone’s photo quality truly shined. Looking at the Honor 6X, what the phone lacks in snappy performance, it makes up for in all around image quality.

Keep in mind that this photo bout was only when comparing off-the-hip photo shooting capabilities in auto-mode. Both devices feature their respective manual shooting modes and it’s definitely possible to get more favorable results by playing around with either of these (especially if you shoot in HDR mode on the Blade V8 Pro), but if you’re looking for the best possible shooting experience for the least amount of money, the Honor 6X comes out on top.

Camera shootout: ZTE Blade V8 Pro vs Honor 6X [PICS]

Meizu M5 versus M5 Note – budget smartphone review

As we’ve seen with our recent Meizu MX6 and Pro 6 Plus reviews, Meizu is more than capable of delivering flagship tier smartphones at a reasonable price. Today, we’re taking a look two more phones from Meizu, but these devices are at the opposite end of the spectrum – the M5 and the M5 Note.

The same…

As their names imply, these two phones do have a lot in common. The Meizu M5 and the M5 Note have the same 13MP main camera and 5MP front-facing camera sensors. Both have fingerprint scanners, both have 16GB of storage, both support microSD cards (up to 256GB), both run on Android Marshmallow with Meizu’s FlyMe UI and come in a variety of different color options. 

Yet different…

But there are also some differences that are worth considering. First, is the price. Meizu is selling the base M5 for just $100 while the M5 Note commands nearly a 50% price bump, selling for $146.  The higher price of the M5 Note means you get a larger, higher resolution display – a 5.5-inch 1080p panel versus the 5.2-inch 720 panel of the M5.

There’s also a big difference in the build materials of the phones. The basic design is the same with a glass panel covering the front of both phones. The M5’s body is wrapped in cheap plastic while the body of the M5 Note is wrapped in an aluminum shell with stylish chamfered edges. The M5 looks like it’s a hundred dollar phone, but the M5 Note looks like it should be selling for $300 or more

And to top things off, the Note has 3GB of RAM, a MediaTek MT6755 chip, and a 4,000 mAh battery. The base M5 only has 2GB of RAM and MediaTek’s slower MT6750 SoC with a 3,070 mAh battery. 

As the spec sheets of these two phones makes perfectly clear, the Meizu M5 Note is a much better device than the regular M5. It’s faster, has a better display, more RAM, faster processor, and added battery life make the M5 Note much for suited for someone who enjoys playing games or surfing the web.

But that doesn’t mean the M5 is a bad phone. The phone sells for $100 – roughly the same price as a decent pair of Bluetooth headphones.

Performance

Naturally, performance isn’t going to be a huge selling point for either of these phones. They handle the phone’s Flyme UI just fine and can multi-task reasonable well, but limited RAM means that apps fall out of memory pretty quickly. 

For optimal performance, you will want to go into the battery settings and switch from “Balance” to “Performance” mode. You’ll sacrifice a bit of battery life, but the improved performance is well worth the trade-off.

Both phones can be used for gaming, but don’t expect a smooth experience if you’re loading up a first person shooter like Modern Combat or a fast-paced racing game like Need for Speed. You’ll be treated to long load times, dropped frames and intermittent lag. Our recommendation would be to stick to puzzle games or titles with minimalist graphics. Again, the M5 Note does a little better than the base M5, but playing some of the newer games from the Play Store can be a frustrating experience.

Battery

On the battery front, things are a bit different. Since both phones have underpowered processors and limited RAM, their respective batteries perform exceptionally well. The M5 and its 3,070 mAh battery cell is outstanding. Getting through a long day on a single charge is a breeze, even with two hours of gaming and 4 to 5 hours of screen-on time. The same can be said for the M5 Note and its 4,000 mAh cell. Most of the time, the phones have more than a 25% charge when plugging them in at night after being used during a 14 hour day.

And if you pretend that you’re over 60 and cut down on gaming and excessive web browsing, you can easily extend the battery life of both phones to two full days without breaking a sweat.

Camera

Since these devices are quite cheap, don’t expect too much from the 13MP main and 5MP front-facing cameras. The camera UI is clean and easy to use, but auto-focus on both cameras is slow. This means that there’s a good chance that you will miss the shot you wanted. But you can get some decent shots from both devices, just as long as you don’t zoom in. If you do, you’ll notice a lot of compression artifacts and blurred edges if you don’t have a steady hand.

If you enjoy taking pictures once the sun goes down, you’ll need quite a bit of patience if you want to get a good shot. More often than not, the images turn out blurry and even when you do get a blur-free shot it’ll likely be darker than you’d expect. Optical image stabilization could definitely improve the camera performance on the two phones, but that’s a luxury feature that’s reserved for more expensive devices. 

Meizu M5 camera samples

Meizu M5 Note camera samples

Comparatively, the front-facing cameras of both phones fare a little better. The 5MP sensors can produce sharp images in good light and you even get Meizu’s beauty mode if you want to clean up a few of those annoying blemishes or magically knock off a few of those extra pounds you put on over the holidays. 

Software

As mentioned in our other Meizu reviews, you will have to use the included Google Play services installer to get the Play Store and Google’s other apps up and running. These two devices also use Meizu’s unique navigational system, which relies on tapping and pressing on the home button along with swiping up from the bottom of the screen to navigate back to the home screen or pull up recent apps.

Since I’ve now used four different Meizu phones over the past few months, I’ve gotten accustomed to Flyme UI. There’s no app drawer to hide away the apps you seldom use, but the interface is clean and there’s zero bloatware to speak of. You can always install a third-party launcher on the phone, but then you’d need to forego using the dozens of themes which allow you to completely customize the look of the software.

Final Thoughts

After all that, you may be thinking that Meizu M5 and the M5 Note aren’t worth your hard earned cash. If you’re on the hunt for a great mid-range device, I suggest you stay away. But if you need something simple and cheap, for someone who doesn’t have high expectations and isn’t going to push their phone to hard, the $100 and $150 price points of these phones make them extremely appealing.

It’s quite easy to find phones with much faster processors and superior camera performance, but those devices will likely cost double of what Meizu is charging for the M5 and M5 Note. My recommendation would be Meizu’s M5 Note, but anyone on a tight budget would likely be satisfied with either of these two phones – just as long as you opt for the 32GB models so you can install more than a few dozen apps before running out of storage.

MEIZU M5 Rating: star_fullstar_fullstar_fullstar_25star_empty (3.2 /5)

The Good

  • Really Cheap
  • Good battery life
  • Uncluttered Android build

The Bad

  • Cheap build quality
  • Undewhelming camera
  • Unconventional navigational system

MEIZU M5 Note Rating: star_fullstar_fullstar_fullstar_50star_empty (3.7 /5)

The Good

  • Cheap
  • Great battery life
  • Uncluttered Android build
  • Elegant design

The Bad

  • Undewhelming camera
  • Unconventional navigational system

Meizu M5 versus M5 Note – budget smartphone review

The #1 thing every ZTE Blade V8 Pro owner should do [VIDEO]

Aside from its wonderfully awful name, the ZTE Blade V8 Pro is actually one pretty amazing Android device. At $230, the ZTE’s BVP is a tremendous value, offering a mixture of solid hardware and a healthy helping of software features to dive into. Unfortunately, not all of these software features actually benefit the user, the biggest issue most people having with the phone relating to its overly aggressive RAM management.

Why “screen-lock cleaning” is such a problem

Just like we saw in EMUI 4.1 running on Huawei/Honor, ZTE’s custom Android software (MiFavor) closes all background apps every time you turn off the display — yes, even music apps — severely handicapping the phone’s ability to multitask. They call it “screen-lock cleaning” and you might be asking yourself, “Why on earth would ZTE do this?”

Well, like other Chinese manufacturers, ZTE also has the false notion that too many apps open in the background can slow down your device — even drain battery more quickly unless they’re promptly closed. It’s one of Android’s biggest myths and the reason we saw so many people recommending those awful “Task Killer” apps back in the day. What people don’t understand is that the Android OS already manages RAM perfectly fine on its own, closing the app you haven’t used in the longest time as new apps require resources. Again, Android doesn’t need the help of 3rd party software to function properly.

There’s a reason our phones have RAM in the first place: so more apps can stay open in the background and do what they need to. Whether you’re downloading a video in the background, listening to music, or simply want to pick up exactly where you left off inside an app, having apps open in RAM is a basic smartphone function and the reason why having more of it is better to the user experience.

Ironically, this aggressive approach to RAM management can have the exact opposite effect. Here’s how your Android device suffers when background apps are closed:

  1. Performance – Because apps take longer to open from a cold start (instead being kept open in RAM), your device feels slower.
  2. Battery life – Having to open apps from scratch (as opposed to them being kept open in RAM) puts more strain on the CPU, thus negatively impacting battery life.
  3. Productivity – When apps are killed off prematurely in the background, you have to start apps all over again, losing your place. This can be especially problematic while playing games, attempting to multitask (listening to music), or using navigation apps.

If you head on over to the ZTE Blade V8 Pro’s listing on Amazon, you’ll see more than a few complaints about the way the phone kills music apps when the display is turned off. Whether you frequently listen to music on your device or not, this is a huge issue and effects every application.

How to stop the ZTE Blade V8 Pro from killing background apps

The good news? ZTE gives you the option to disable this terrible software “feature” for the most part, you just gotta know where to look. Here’s how you stop the background app killing madness:

  1. Open the Settings app
  2. Tap on the Power manager tile
  3. Select Power management for apps
  4. Tap the 3-dot menu in the upper right and select: App protection list
  5. Tap the 3-dot menu in the upper right again and select: Set all to off

This will prevent all the apps you have installed on the device from being closed immediately when you lock the phone. Now, whenever you wake up your phone, you’ll be able to pick up exactly where you left off inside of apps and games without missing a single beat. This will greatly increase your enjoyment using the ZTE Blade V8 Pro with virtually no downside.

Still doesn’t help Spotify, Pandora, and other music streaming apps

Unfortunately, this doesn’t always stop the Blade V8 Pro from killing some music streaming apps prematurely. When the screen is off for more than 15 minutes, some streaming apps like Spotify, Pandora, or others will still be automatically closed. It appears to be some kind of additional power saving feature — outside of the ones listed above — hardwired into the OS with no way to turn it off. It’s incredibly frustrating for anyone trying to listen to music longer than 15 minutes and is something that is sure to be a deal breaker. It’s entirely possible a future software update for the Blade V8 Pro will fix this issue and we’ve already reached out to ZTE to try and get something more definite.

Get rid of those annoying “high-power-consumption” warnings

Now that you’ve stopped the Blade V8 Pro from killing (most) background apps, your work isn’t over. The phone will still pester you to close apps they feel are using “excessive battery” just like what we saw on Huawei/Honor devices. I’m sure they mean well enough, but the problem is that in almost every case the notification shows you the apps you’re most frequently using.

Spend most of your day browsing Facebook? Expect to see the “high-power-consumption” notification popping up to warn you about Facebook. Watch a lot YouTube videos? Yup, you can expect to get a notification about that as well. It’s annoying at best, and only serves to make the user more paranoid about every app they have installed on the phone. Our advice? Turn it off. Here’s how:

  1. Open the Settings app
  2. Tap on the Power manager tile
  3. Select Fast battery drain apps
  4. Select Display high-power-consumption apps in status bar
  5. In the top right, tap on the toggle button to switch it to the OFF position for all apps (or toggle off for each app individually)

*****

It’s always a tad bit frustrating when OEMs handicap their devices in an attempt to deliver slightly better battery life. The ZTE Blade V8 Pro is no exception. Like most smartphones to come out of China these days, the only thing holding the phone back is its software, but at least you can do something about it (mostly). We hope this tutorial will help maximizes your enjoyment with the phone and get the most you possible can out of it.

The #1 thing every ZTE Blade V8 Pro owner should do [VIDEO]

Here’s everything we know so far about the LG G6

Last year wasn’t a great one for LG as the company as the LG G5 vastly underperformed, leading LG to completely revisit their plans for the LG G6. As we get closer to Mobile World Congress 2017, we have been learning more and more information about the device that is looking to take on the likes of the Galaxy S8.

Initial Rumors

Although this wasn’t much of a rumor, considering it came out in February of 2015, LG actually trademarked the LG G6 moniker. This came along with the LG G7, LG G8, and LG G9. Regardless, the trademark all but confirmed that the company has no plans to change the moniker of its flagship for the next few years.

Design

The first big rumors regarding the G6 were in reference to the design language for the device. Due to the underwhelming performance of the LG G5, the company decided to pivot away from modularity, in favor of a more traditional smartphone design.

This rumor continued to make its rounds until LG confirmed the speculation in early January. This confirmation also came after the first render of the G6 was leaked. The design appeared to be similar to that of the LG V20, which was launched in late 2016.

The renders showed that LG would be keeping the dual-camera setup that was present on both the G5 and the V20. However, there isn’t much information available regarding the camera quality on the G6. All we can assume for now is that LG will likely be incrementally improving the camera setup, or we could see the same module which was used in the V20.

Moving away from all of the renders from case makers (and there were plenty), we finally got what appeared to be an official press render of the G6. The render showed off the left side of the device, along with the front camera and bezels.

Drawing conclusions from these renders, the G6 will feature an aluminum body with a new slim-bezel display. In fact, early in January, LG announced an all new QHD LCD display panel which is likely to be used in the G6. This panel is a bit different from the norm, however, as it measures in at an aspect ratio of 18:9. For comparison the LG G5 has an aspect ratio of 16:9.

This led to much speculation that LG would be slimming down the bezels for its next flagship. Considering that Samsung has been rumored to do the same, and Xiaomi beat everyone to the punch, this came as no surprise.

Since the official press render leaked, there have been some more images that have appeared showing of the G6. One of which were supposed images of a LG G6 prototype. These images confirmed the non-modular design, along with the dual-camera setup and fingerprint scanner placement.

Then, we saw a new image of a fully-furnished device with a glossy black back. This seemingly confirmed early reports that the front and back of the G6 would be made from glass, with the edges of the G6 being made from aluminum.

Finally, the most recent leak of the LG G6 shows the device in all of its glory. A set of new images confirms the same information from previous leaks, as well as showing off all 4 sides of the G6. Some of you will be happy to see that the 3.5mm headphone jack will make its return, after there were some concerns that LG would join the ranks of Apple and Motorola and remove the aging technology.

LG G6 Possible Specs

So now that we have had a better look at what the device will supposedly look like, let’s take a look at what we think will be under the hood. The G6 will feature a 5.7-inch QHD+ LCD Display, with an aspect ration of 18:9 (or 2:1) and a resolution of 1,440 x 2,880 pixels. The new display will also be 10% brighter, while consuming 30% less power when compared to previous options.

Now for the fun part. Initial reports claimed that LG would be taking advantage of the new Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor. However, these reports were short lived after a new rumor surfaced which has suggested that Samsung is “hoarding” Qualcomm’s supply of the Snapdragon 835 for the Galaxy S8/Galaxy S8 Plus release.

This has led to speculation that LG will revert “back” to the Snapdragon 821 processor. This processor was launched in late 2016 and provides a slight improvement over the Snapdragon 820 which was found in many 2016 flagships. There are still some of us holding out hope that the reports of the Snapdragon 835 being unavailable are nothing but folks blowing smoke, but who knows.

Spec/Feature Breakdown: 

  • 5.7-inch QHD LCD Display; 18:9 aspect ratio
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 Processor
  • USB Type-C
  • Wireless Charging
  • Fingerprint Scanner
  • Google Assistant
  • LG Pay/MST Payments
  • 148.8 x 72.3 x 8.3mm

Odds & Ends

In an effort to get everyone hyped about the upcoming smartphone, LG released a teaser video which asked consumers “What’s on your wish list for the ideal smartphone”. The answers consisted of the following:

  • Big screen
  • Smaller Body
  • Waterproof
  • Capture it all at once
  • Reliable

The video states that all of our “wishes for the ideal smartphone will come to life”, and that it would be arriving in “February 2017”. This has helped those of us who love to speculate, to be able to put the pieces of the puzzle together to figure out what LG will be releasing.

Google Assistant

Currently, only a handful of devices include native Google Assistant support, but the LG G6 may be the latest to be added to the list. A rumor has suggested that LG and Google have reached a partnership to bring Google Assistant to the G6, along with the 2 new LG Android Wear 2.0 smartwatches that were recently unveiled.

This would be a huge move in the right direction for Google, as it would hopefully open the door for more OEMs to bring Assistant to our 2017 devices. These are nothing more than rumors, but if Google’s new smartwatches are made by LG, then we would feel a bit more confident.

LG Pay

What could be a huge focal point for LG and the G6 is the launch of LG Pay. The company has been working on an MST payment option for sometime, and what better time to introduce the new payment option than alongside the G6.

Previously, LG’s plans for LG Pay revolved around the “White Card”, but that approach was abandoned in favor of the convenience which is provided by MST. If launched along with the G6, LG Pay would provide a way for users to make payments at credit/debit card terminals without pulling out your wallet and could work with older terminals which don’t include an NFC landing pad.

Announcement/Launch Date

LG has confirmed it will be unveiling the LG G6 at a press conference during Mobile World Congress 2017. This event will be taking place on February 26th, which is one day before MWC 2017 officially gets underway.

As for when we could see the G6 on store shelves, Evan Blass has revealed that the device will launch in South Korea on March 9th. The device will launch in the US on April 7th.

This is a little bit later than when the G5 was released last year, but LG is doing everything it can to release its flagship before Samsung launches the Galaxy S8. With Samsung’s self-imposed delay of its 2017 flagship, this may be the best opportunity that LG has to make a dent in the market and rebound from a subpar 2016.

Here’s everything we know so far about the LG G6

Sanitize your germ-ridden smartphone using PhoneSoap 2.0

It’s a story you’ve heard before: your smartphone is a cesspool of bacteria and germs — 5 times worse than a public toilet seat (which just so happens to be my favorite place to use my phone). In fact, there are so many unique germs on your phone that a recent study showed how researchers could use them to tell a person’s diet, health status, hygiene products, gender, or even the places they’ve visited.

We’ve seen a relatively small effort by a few companies at tackling this issue of icky germs, whether it was the Kyocera’s washable smartphone or Corning’s specially formulated Gorilla Glass enriched with antimicrobial ionic silver. Of course, this doesn’t apply to whatever device you currently own and although hygiene plays a big part in the build up of germs and bacteria on your phone, it’s definitely not foolproof. Because your warm smartphone is the perfect breeding ground for microbes, even if you’re a clean freak (as I, myself, learned), germs and bacteria always seem to find a home on your device.

One solution is to fight bacteria and germs using alcohol wipes, hand sanitizers, or other harsh chemicals to sanitize your smartphone, but it’s probably not the best idea. Not only can these liquids creep inside ports and break down weatherproof seals, they can also strip the oleophobic layer from the display, diminishing that slick “new phone” feeling we all love so much. It’s because of this, manufacturers like Apple don’t even recommend using these types of products on your devices and we wouldn’t either.

So, what else can germaphobes do to ensure their phone isn’t a petri dish of harmful microorganisms? All you need is some light.

The power of the UV-C light

There’s another interesting way to kill germs on your phone, one that doesn’t require chemicals, wipes, or even anything to come in contact with the phone at all. It’s called PhoneSoap and it could be the single best invention for smartphone addicted germaphobes.

PhoneSoap works much the same way as those toothbrush sanitizers you’ll find on Amazon. Like a mini tanning bed, your phone rests inside PhoneSoap while it blankets your phone in glorious UV-C light. It’s this light that kills 99.9% of germs and bacteria, some of which you want to avoid (flu virus, E. coli, or even MRSA, for example) and even “super bugs” that have built up a resistance to chemicals and antibiotics. In fact, hospitals use a similar method to sterilize and disinfect entire rooms using robots to emit a powerful UV light. It’s the perfect way to kill germs without the use of harsh chemicals.

Still fits the 5.9-inch Huawei Mate 9 easily

If PhoneSoap sounds familiar, that’s because it was one of those bright ideas to come out of TV’s Shark Tank. That was years ago. PhoneSoap recently launched a new model — PhoneSoap 2.0 — and is larger to accommodate phablet-sized smartphones (see the Mate 9 above). There’s also a redesigned cable pass-through hole so you can charge your phone while it’s being sanitized, and “acoustic” outlets so you can still hear your alarm in the morning. The cable hole is still sort of crude and we would have loved to see a more streamlined approach, but it works.

PhoneSoap is still powered by a regular micro USB cable and the entire process takes about 10 minutes with no heat. Once you’re done, you’ll have the peace of mind of knowing your phone is clean and free from disgusting little germs.

Even if you don’t classify yourself a bona fide “germaphobe,” the thought of someone using the restroom then preparing your food without washing their hands probably makes you uncomfortable (a moment captured beautifully in the Seinfeld clip below). Ironically, it just so happens the best time to use your smartphone is while you’re killing time on the toilet. So, even in the event someone does wash their hands after using the restroom, they’ll be back to checking messages on their dirty phone shortly after. Kind of gross, right?

Of course, the toughest sell is trying to convince consumers PhoneSoap is doing anything at all, with no real way to actually see the results, at least not without a microscope. For skeptics or those doubting, The Discovery Channel actually went hands on with PhoneSoap a few years back, taking it to the lab to see if the claims were true. The results? PhoneSoap virtually eliminated all traces of bacteria from the device. It just works.

PhoneSoap 2.0 comes in a variety of colors to match your home decor and is priced at $60 with free Prime shipping on Amazon, or directly from their website for $50 + $5 shipping (3-7 days). It’s not any more expensive than a new PS4 game, but still hardly an impulse buy. There’s also a much larger version to hold your tablets, but at $120, double the size comes double the price.

Buy on Amazon

Antibacterial phone wax?

But the PhoneSoap charger is just one part in the goal to achieve a perfectly clean and sanitary smartphone. There’s also PhoneSoap Polish. Yup, it seems the guys at PhoneSoap have thought of everything. PhoneSoap Polish is a combination wax/polish similar to Smitty’s Glass Wax which I told you guys about a little while ago. After trying them both, I have to say, PhoneSoap Polish is superior in a few different ways.

First off, PhoneSoap Polish is a solid, 100% all natural — antibacterial — wax that’s completely non-toxic and chemical free. Although it’s technically safe to eat, I wouldn’t recommend it. The wax acts helps prevent fingerprints and bacteria from building up on the glass, but like Smitty’s, it’s not really oleophobic. That means you’ll still get some fingerprint build up, but smudges will be much easier to remove with a shirt or microfiber cleaning cloth, so it definitely helps.

On top of the cap is a sponge which is used to spread and massage the wax compound into the display. This helps the wax fill in the microscopic pores where bacteria like to live. Like a car wax, once it’s built up a haze you can wipe it off using the included microfiber cleaning cloth. PhoneSoap recommends leaving the haze over night before removing for best results.

Once polished, you’ll be amazed at how slick, glossy, fingerprint free your display will be — just like the day it came out of the box. If you enjoy the way your finger glides over a brand new display, than you’re definitely going to want to grab this. Not only will it rejuvenate old devices, but protect your phone’s factory oleophobic layer from wearing down.

Because it’s solid compound (unlike Smitty’s) it seemed to work better on new smartphones that still had oleophobic layer intact and lasted longer between applications. Not only that, it’s antibacterial as well, a huge win in my book. At $18, it’s more expensive than Smitty’s but still reasonably priced and should last the lifetime of the phone. If you’re looking to pick up a bottle, you can find the buy link below.

Buy on Amazon

****

With all the nasty things we touch throughout the day, our smartphone’s shouldn’t be one of them. PhoneSoap’s line of products make it easy to keep our devices clean, sanitary, and provides the peace of mind of knowing that your smartphone is no longer harboring a tiny city of bacteria. There’s no easier way to keep your sanity than by dropping your smartphone into a PhoneSoap charger for a few minutes each day, or by using PhoneSoap Polish to keep it feeling fresh and new.

For those suffering from mild/moderate OCD or just regular folk who don’t like the idea of having dirty smartphone pressed against their face, PhoneSoap could be the perfect product for you. For more on PhoneSoap, including their full range of products and accessories, check out their website below.

[PhoneSoap]

Your smartphone is disgusting and full of germs, but PhoneSoap can sanitize it using UV light [VIDEO]

Android Wear 2.0 debuts with the LG Watch Style and Watch Sport

After rumors coming through left and right, Google finally took the wraps off of the first smartwatches to don Android Wear 2.0. The LG Watch Style and LG Watch Sport have been unveiled and bring a classic look to your wrist, while offering the latest that Android Wear has to offer.

LG Watch Sport


The LG Watch Sport is the big brother of the two new smartwatches, as it features many add-ons that you would expect from a smartwatch. Other than being powered by Android Wear 2.0, the Watch Sport features a 1.38-inch POLED display, with a resolution of 480 x 480.

Powering the Watch Sport is Qualcomm’s Snapdragon Wear 2100 processor, along with 768MB of RAM. LG also added 4GB of storage to the smartwatch, if you want to be able to keep music directly on your wrist.

In order to take advantage of everything this smartwatch has to offer, you’ll be happy to know that you can leave your smartphone at home as the Watch Sport also includes cellular radios, and GPS.

Other features that are packed into the Watch Sport include an NFC chip for Android Pay, as well as a heart rate sensor. If you’re worried about how the Watch Sport will withstand the elements, then you’ll be happy to know that this smartwatch includes an IP68 certification.

Finally, the Watch Sport features a 430mAh battery, which can be recharged thanks to wireless charging. The new smartwatch is also available in 2 different colors: Titanium and Dark Blue.

LG Watch Style


The LG Watch Style is the little brother of the group, with a display that measures in at 1.2-inches with a resolution of 360×360. The Watch Style includes the same Snapdragon 2100 Wear processor and 4GB of storage, but LG reigned back the RAM a bit (512MB).

Considering that the Watch Sport is the “flagship” of these two new smartwatches, there aren’t as many extra features packed into here. However, the Watch Style does include Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, an accelerometer, gyroscope, and ambient light sensor.

As for the battery, the Watch Style includes a smaller 240mAh battery which can also be recharged wirelessly. Finally, the Watch Style will also be able to withstand some of the elements, as it is IP67 certified.

Android Wear 2.0


The latest version of Android Wear has been delayed for sometime after being shown off at Google I/O 2016. Today marks the first day that you can download the new software onto your compatible smartwatch. As for the features that are included, we are looking at an array of new capabilities.

The biggest new feature is the addition of Google Assistant. You will be able to quickly ask Assistant to perform any tasks without ever taking out your phone. In order to activate Assistant, you can either hold down the power button on your watch or say “OK Google”.

Another big feature of Android Wear 2.0 is the inclusion of new watch faces. These watch faces are interactive and can be personalized to your liking, depending on what time of the day it is. All you’ll need to do, is switch to the watch face that best fits the activity that you’re performing.

Google Fit has also seen an upgrade as you can now keep track of your pace, distance, calories burned or heart rate (if you have a compatible smartwatch). These metrics can be measured whether you’re walking, running or cycling. You’ll be able to even measure your various reps that are being taken in the gym, including weight-lifting, push-ups, sit-ups, or squats.

Perhaps the other biggest feature coming to Android Wear 2.0 smartwatches is the addition of the Play Store onto your wrist. You will be able to download an array of applications to your smartwatch, including Uber, Android Pay, Runkeeper, and Google Messenger.

Pricing & Availability


The LG Watch Sport will be available at numerous outlets, including AT&T, Verizon, and the Google Store. The Watch Style will only be available through Best Buy or the Google Store for the time being.

Pricing for the LG Watch Sport starts at $379.99, but Verizon is currently offering the smartwatch for $329.99 when purchasing through a 2-year contract. As for AT&T, the Watch Sport will be available for $49.99 with a 2-year agreement with purchase of either the LG G5 or LG V20.

AT&T is also offering the Watch Sport for $17.50 per month for 20 months through the carrier’s installment plan. The LG Watch Style is priced at a respectable $249.99, if you’re willing to forego any of the other features packed into the Watch Sport.

Both smartwatches will go on sale in the United States starting on February 10th.

Android Wear 2.0 debuts with the LG Watch Style and Watch Sport

15 Tips & Tricks to use Twitter like a boss

Twitter is one of the most popular social networks on the internet. It’s not nearly as big as Facebook, but Twitter has become a staple in the internet age. Almost every TV show and commercial has a Twitter hashtag plastered on the screen. Even the President of the United States is an avid Twitter user. Twitter has a few features that everyone should know. Beginners and veterans. Here are 15 to get you started.

Read also: Facebook Tips

Autoplay videos only on Wi-Fi

By default, Twitter will automatically play videos when you scroll past them. The audio doesn’t play, but it’s still eating up data in the background. You can choose to have videos only autoplay when you’re connected to a Wi-Fi network or disable autoplay completely. If you have a limited data plan, you should do this.

  1. Go to Settings > Data usage
  2. Tap Video autoplay
  3. Select Wi-Fi only

String together tweets by replying to yourself

The 140-character limit is perhaps the most iconic feature of Twitter. It’s great for getting to the point quickly and sharing your thoughts briefly, but sometimes 140 characters just isn’t enough. You could use a 3rd-party app or take a screenshot of your Notes app, but there’s a much better way. Simply reply to yourself to create a chronological “thread.”

  1. Send the first tweet
  2. Tap the reply button
  3. Remove your username and write tweet
  4. Tap Reply when you’re done

Disable images in your timeline

You might not realize it, but photos in your timeline could be considered the same as autoplaying videos. The photo is loaded in the background while you scroll through your timeline. If you want to save even more data, you can disable image previews. You’ll only see images if you tap on a specific tweet.

  1. Go to Settings > Data usage
  2. Uncheck Image previews in timeline
  3. Images will be indicated by a pic.twitter.com URL

Tag photos instead of using “@” mentions

Another one of the core features of Twitter is the “@” mention system. It’s an easy way to quickly tag another user. However, there are times when using the @ mention doesn’t make sense. Tagging someone in a photo is one of those times. An @ mention is hard to track, but tagging somone in a photo is easier to find later.

  1. Compose a tweet
  2. Add a photo
  3. Tap Who’s in this photo?
  4. Find the person
  5. Tap DONE

Create lists to organize streams

If your timeline is full of hundreds of accounts, it’s time to get organized. Twitter Lists are a powerful and underutilized feature. You can essentially create multiple timelines. LIsts are perfect for accounts that you want to check occasionally but don’t want to be cluttering up your feed all the time.

  1. Slide-out the menu from the left
  2. Select Lists
  3. Tap the (+) to create a list
  4. Give the list a name and description
  5. Tap SAVE
  6. To add someone to a list, go to their profile
  7. Tap the three-dot menu
  8. Tap Add to list

Mute people and specific words

One of Twitter’s biggest problems is filtering out abuse. In the last couple of years, they have rolled out tools to help users block stuff they don’t want to see. Blocking accounts is an effective method, but muting is even better. A mute is essentially a “shadow ban.” The person doesn’t realize you can’t see any of their tweets. You can also mute specific words and phrases from showing up in your timeline.

Mute people

  1. Go to the account profile
  2. Tap the three-dot menu icon
  3. Tap Mute
  4. Tap Yes, I’m sure

Mute words

  1. Go to Settings > Notifications
  2. Select Muted words
  3. Tap the (+) button
  4. Enter a word or phrase
  5. Tap SAVE

Use the built-in GIF search

GIFs are a major form of communication on the web. Sometimes a GIF can say more than what you can type in 140 characters or less. GIFs are especially useful when replying to people. There are a million places to find GIFs on the web, but thankfully you don’t have to leave the Twitter app.

  1. Compose a tweet
  2. Tap the GIF button in the bottom toolbar
  3. Select a category or search at the top
  4. Tap a GIF to add it to your tweet

Share multiple images in a tweet

Here’s an easy tip for sharing images. Twitter doesn’t allow you to make photo galleries like Facebook, but you can still share multiple images at once. Twitter allows you to attach up to 4 images to a single tweet.

  1. Compose a tweet
  2. Tap the camera icon in the toolbar
  3. Select an image
  4. Tap the camera icon again
  5. Select another image
  6. You can add up to four images in a tweet

Add your location to tweets

“Checking in” is a really big deal over on Facebook, but Twitter also has a similar feature. You can add your location to tweets just like you would on Facebook. This is great if you want to add location to a photo or just brag about being at the Super Bowl.

  1. Compose a tweet
  2. Tap the map pin icon in the toolbar
  3. Give Twitter permission to use location (if you haven’t already)
  4. Search for a location or choose from the list

Get notifications from only people you follow

If you have a large following, or just don’t like random strangers, you might get annoyed with all the notifications. Twitter allows you to filter out notifications from people you aren’t following. So only the people you care about will be able to buzz your phone.

  1. Go to Settings > Notifications
  2. Check the box for Only people you follow

Change the font size

Android phones come in many different screen sizes and eyes come in many different vision capabilites. It’s nice to be able to change the font size to match your screen and eye preferences. Some people like small text to fit a lot on screen, but others need bigger text to be able to read. Twitter allows you to change the font size.

  1. Go to Settings > Display and sound
  2. Tap Font size
  3. Select the font size (13 pt to 20 pt)

Use Night Mode to make the UI easier on eyes

Another thing you can do to help your eyes is turn on Night Mode. By default, Twitter has a bright white interface. It can be hard to look at when you’re in a dark environment. A lot of people also just prefer dark interfaces. Twitter has a Night Mode that changes the UI to a dark navy blue.

  1. Swipe open the menu from the left
  2. Toggle the switch for Night mode

Mute conversations you no longer care about

Ever get caught in a conversation that you don’t care about? It can be very annoying when your username is being used in a conversation that you’re not interested in. For a while, there was nothing you can do about it, but now you can actually mute a conversation. Any tweet in the conversation won’t send a notification to your phone.

  1. Open the conversation
  2. Tap the icon in the right corner of the most recent reply
  3. Select Mute this conversation

Pin a tweet to your profile

If you’re particularly proud about a tweet, or you have a tweet with information that you want people to see, you can pin it to your profile. A pinned tweet is stuck at the top of your profile and will be the first thing people see when they visit your profile.

  1. Find a tweet that you like
  2. Tap the icon in the right corner
  3. Select Pin to profile
  4. Pinning a different tweet will replace this one

Subscribe to a users’ tweets

You can follow accounts to see tweets in your timeline, but if you really like a certain account you can subscribe to get notified every time they tweet. It’s a great way to make sure you never miss a thing from your favorite accounts.

  1. Go to the profile of the account you want to subscribe to
  2. Tap the bell icon next to the follow button
  3. Check the box for Account notifications

More Android Tips & Tricks

15 Tips & Tricks to use Twitter like a boss

Meizu Pro 6 Plus review: the untraditional flagship

Samsung, HTC, LG and Sony may be battling things in the high-end flagship smartphone segment, but that doesn’t mean that there’s no competition within the budget smartphone segment. OnePlus has carved out a decent share of this specific category, along with most of the mindshare, but the Meizu Pro 6 Plus is a device which is worth considering if you have about $450 burning a hole in your pocket.

Specifications

  • Processor: Exynos 8890 (Octo-core, 2.0 GHz with Mali-T880 MP10 GPU)
  • Display: 5.7-inch, QHD, Super AMOLED, 3D Touch
  • Dimensions: 155.6 x 77.3 x 7.3 mm
  • Weight: 158 g
  • RAM: 4GB
  • Storage: 64GB
  • Main camera: 12MP, phase detect & laser auto-focus, 10-led circular flash
  • Front camera: 5MP
  • USB: 3.1, Type-C
  • Wi-Fi: 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac (dual band)
  • Battery: 3400 mAh battery
  • Biometric: Fingerprint sensor, heart rate sensor (Chinese version only)

Design

When you first look at the Meizu Pro 6 Plus, I’d forgive you if you didn’t immediately recognize it. I’ve honestly had a hard time distinguishing the phone from Meizu’s cheaper MX6 which I reviewed a few months back. As you can see, Meizu is sticking with its iPhone/Samsung design mashup which features an aluminum unibody with a powdercoat finish and 2.5D glass around the front. 

The design isn’t original by any means, but it is well executed. It feels like a premium device and as we noted in our unboxing and first impressions post, the attention to detail even extends to the packaging.

The Pro 6 Plus is a big phone, but its 7.3mm thin body and rounded corners allow the phone to comfortably rest in the hand as you stretch to reach the far corners of the 5.7-inch display. The good news is that the display on this phone is substantially sharper than that of the MX6. You get a QHD Super AMOLED panel which is stunning from nearly every angle and visibility in direct sunlight is actually good as well.

Software experience

Since the phone is mainly intended for the Chinese market, it doesn’t come with Google Play pre-installed. That’s easily remedied through the included Google Apps installer that’s pre-loaded on the phone which downloads and installs everything that’s needed to get the Play Store up and running. It’s an extra step, but definitely not a dealbreaker. 

While we complain about the over complicated software found on Samsung, LG and Huawei smartphones, we kinda wish Meizu would have done a little bit more with its barebones “Flyme” skin which sits on top of Android 6.0.1. The user interface is clean and simple. If you really need an app drawer to hide away all the apps that you only use once or twice a month, I recommend installing your favorite alternative. But if you’re OK with organizing apps into dedicated folders, the Flyme launcher works just fine. It can even be customized with unique icon packs and wallpapers with the included Themes app. 

I really enjoy the fact that there is absolutely zero bloatware installed on the device, but it would have been nice to have a few additional customization features built into the software.

An example of this would be the minimal effort put into the supporting the phone’s 3D touch display. Pressing hard on Settings, Phone, Camera and a few other app icons show contextual menus for each app, but the support for the feature ends there. It would have been nice to have the option to uninstall or change the notification settings when pressing hard on other apps. It wouldn’t have been hard to add generic contextual menus to third-party apps which allowed you to change the notification settings when pressing hard on other apps.

While Meizu’s phones run on Android, navigating the phone’s UI takes a bit to get used to. The Pro 6 Plus uses a combination of gestures, presses, and taps which are used to replace the on-screen navigation bar.  In addition to acting as a fingerprint scanner, the home button is also used as the back button when tapped. When pressed, the same button takes you to the phone’s home screen and a press and hold will also turn the display off. To access your most recent apps, just swipe up from the bottom of the display.

Performance & battery life

Finding a phone with decent performance is getting easier and easier these days, especially when we’re talking about phones built by Chinese manufacturers. The Pro 6 Plus is no exception. It may not be as fast as the OnePlus 3T and its Snapdragon 821 processor, but the octa-core Exynos 8890 chip inside this phone has enough power to spare. As we saw with the Samsung Galaxy S7, the 8890 is a great chip for gaming and is fast enough to satisfy the demands of the more arduous multi-tasker.

To get the most out of the  Exynos 8890 chip, you’ll need to go into the Meizu Pro 6 Plus’ power management settings and switch from “Balance” more to “Performance” mode. 

If you don’t touch any of the settings, the 3,400 mAh battery inside the Pro 6 Plus holds enough juice to keep you going for a day and a half on a single charge with roughly 5 hours of screen-on time. Switching to “Performance” increase the processor’s battery consumption. In my experience, I was still able to go a full day on a single charge (6 AM to 10:30 PM) with a little more than 4 hours of screen-on time with “Performance” turned on. 

Camera

On paper, the Meizu Pro 6 Plus’ camera should be just as good as what you get on flagship devices from the competition. Sadly, results are lackluster.

If you’re snapping pictures in good lighting, the shots turn out fine, but quite a bit of detail is lost when the lighting isn’t ideal as the ISO gets cranked up significantly. You’ll also have a number of blurry shots to contend with since the phone doesn’t have optical image stabilization.

But the camera isn’t all bad. Macro shots typically turn out well and the manual mode allows you to adjust the settings on your own, allowing you to capture some decent shots. The front-facing 5MP camera isn’t anything special, but the images turn out well. And if you want to make yourself look a bit better, the built-in “beauty” mode will remove your blemishes and give you a thin face.

Conclusion

Meizu isn’t going to be winning any awards with the Pro 6 Plus, but the phone is definitely competitive with other devices that sell for less than $450. It doesn’t lead the pack in any specific category, but it’s far from being the worst “budget” flagship smartphone out there. If you don’t mind Meizu’s unique navigation setup and want a sleek-looking powerful Android phone, the Pro 6 Plus is definitely worth considering. 

Just keep in mind that the phone isn’t intended for the US market. It will work on T-Mobile and AT&T’s 4G networks, but it doesn’t support all the network bands needed to offer reliable connectivity. Tha’s not as much of an issue if you live outside the US.

The Good

  • Great high-resolution display
  • Good battery life
  • Powerful and fast
  • Uncluttered Android build
  • Sleek design

The Bad

  • Google Play isn’t re-installed
  • Looks a bit like an iPhone
  • Unreliable fingerprint sensor
  • Mediocre camera
  • Unconventional navigational system

The Bottom Line

If you know what you’re getting into, the Meizu Pro 6 Plus is a delight. Those looking for a smartphone with the traditional Android experience, there are other options that are better suited for you.

Meizu Pro 6 Plus review: the untraditional flagship

#1 thing every Huawei owner should do

If you’re one of the many people who own a Huawei or Honor branded device — such as the recently released Honor 6X — there’s a good chance it’s currently running Android Marshmallow/EMUI 4.1. The exception to this being the Huawei Mate 9, which is one of the first to run EMUI 5.0 out of the box, but for everyone else, here’s a friendly PSA that your device’s performance is currently being severely handicapped and what you can do it about it.

By default, EMUI 4.1 has a little software feature that kills any and all background apps every time you sleep the display. On the surface this may sound like a good idea but killing off background apps on your device actually does far more harm to the user experience than good. Not only does this further perpetuate the myth that Android is incapable of managing RAM on its own (requiring the help of 3rd party software to function properly), but that this will somehow yield better performance and battery life as a result.

There are the 3 main areas where the user experience is actually hindered — not improved — by EMUI 4.1’s aggressive RAM management:

  1. Performance – Because apps take longer to open from a cold start (instead being kept open in RAM), your device feels slower.
  2. Battery life – Having to open apps from scratch (as opposed to them being kept open in RAM) puts more strain on the CPU, thus negatively impacting battery life.
  3. Productivity – Apps killed off prematurely in the background cause you to lose your place inside apps by having to start over. This can be especially problematic while playing games and attempting to multitask, losing your progress in the process.

Stop the background app killing madness

Don’t worry, you can stop the app killing madness by taking advantage of a EMUI feature called “Protected apps.” This allows you to white list specific apps so that they don’t fall victim to EMUI’s bloody thirsty rage as soon as the lights go out (i.e., turn off the display). It’s not easy to find and you’ll need to do a little digging, but here’s where you’ll find it:

  1. Open the Settings app
  2. Scroll down and select Advanced settings
  3. Tap on Battery manager
  4. Tap on Protected apps
  5. Turn ON Protect all

Although all of your currently installed apps will now be protected, you’ll need to make sure to come back and protect new apps you installed from the Google Play Store. Each. And every. Time. It’s kind of annoying that the “Protect all” settings don’t stick, but this will all be fixed in EMUI 5.0.

Once you’re done, your phone will immediately feel more responsive. This is most noticeable on low to mid range devices where the processor isn’t that speedy and can take a few seconds to open heavy apps or games. Now, whenever you get around to waking your phone, you’ll be able to pick up exactly where you left off inside of apps and games, without missing a beat. For me, it greatly increased my enjoyment using the Honor 6X.

While you’re at it, stop being paranoid about “power intensive apps”

Now that we’ve protected apps from being auto-killed in the background, our work still isn’t over. The other part of the equation is EMUI’s app killing propaganda machine, also known as the Power Intensive Prompt. It’s annoying at best and downright misleading at worst.

The EMUI’s Power Intensive Prompt means well enough by attempting to notify you when it believes an app may have gone rogue and is using “too much power.” The problem is 99% of the time this isn’t even true and almost always has to do with apps you use frequently. The solution? Turn these horrible warnings off and stop being paranoid about all your apps. Here’s how:

  1. Open the Settings app
  2. Select Advanced settings
  3. Select Battery manager
  4. Tap on the gear icon (upper right)
  5. Turn off Power-intensive prompt

The best way to tell if an app is using more battery than it probably should? Just take a look at your battery stats: Settings > Advanced settings > Battery manager > Consumption level. Under the Software drop down, you’ll be presented with a list of all the apps installed on your device (many of them core system apps) along with the percentage of battery they’ve been using.

Contrary to what this list tells you, apps open in the background aren’t actually “running” the same way leaving your car running continues consuming gas. They’re actually paused, frozen for whenever you decide to return to them. What you want to keep an eye out for are days when your battery life isn’t quite what it normally is. That’s when you dive into Consumption level to see if there’s a rogue app using too much battery.

For instance, if you see a photo editing app you haven’t used that day topping the consumption list, you may want to consider uninstalling it or just performing a simple reboot to see if that fixes things. On flip side, if it’s an app you frequently use (Facebook or Instagram) don’t be alarmed if you see it at the top of this list — this is normal.

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Looking ahead, an updated version of Huawei’s custom software — EMUI 5.0 (Android 7.0 Nougat) — no longer requires you protect all your apps to keep them safe in the background. Seems Huawei finally got the memo and starting in EMUI 5.0, the background app killing feature is finally turned off by default. It’s still there, so you’ll still have the option to enable it for some/all apps should you choose.

So when will your device see EMUI 5.0? Huawei has confirmed that update will be headed soon to the Huawei Mate 8, Huawei P9, Huawei P9 Plus, Huawei P9 Lite, Huawei Nova, and the Huawei Nova Plus before the end of March. As for the Honor 6X, Honor confirmed a rollout during Q2 of this year, so be on the lookout.

The #1 thing everyone with a Huawei device running Android Marshmallow should do