Whenever we get asked whether to buy a current midrange smartphone or a similarly priced flagship from last year, we normally suggest the latter. After all, they were once the pride and joy of their respective brands, and buying them below the original retail price is a great deal.
For this list, we take a look back at the high-end phones we loved in 2015. Now that all of this year’s flagship devices are out, we can tell for certain which handsets of yesteryear matter the most.
Samsung Galaxy Note 5
Last year’s Samsung Galaxy Note 5 is, without a doubt, the best stylus-equipped smartphone you can buy right now, and that’s primarily because of the Galaxy Note 7’s unfortunate downfall. If you must have a digital pen attached to your phone at all times, there’s really no better option than finding Samsung’s fifth-generation flagship.
It’s easy to forget, but before the Galaxy Note 7 came into the picture, its predecessor was widely considered to be the best smartphone money could buy, even when 2016’s best began rolling out. To this day, you can’t argue against the Galaxy Note 5’s speedy in-house Exynos chipset, optically stabilized rear camera, and stunning 5.7-inch Quad HD Super AMOLED display.
Sony Xperia Z5 Premium
This had to be the most polarizing flagship of 2015. It sought to answer the question: Do we really need a 4K display on a pocket-sized smartphone? The conclusion was mostly no, but the Xperia Z5 Premium was more than its overbearing screen resolution.
More importantly, it was the final torchbearer of Sony’s long-running Z series of water-resistant smartphones, and the last Xperia we could truly call premium. It had Qualcomm’s best processor in the Snapdragon 810, a high-resolution 23-megapixel rear camera, and fingerprint scanner conveniently placed on the side.
In a year that sorely lacked groundbreaking smartphone innovations, the LG V10 definitely stood out. As much as we liked the V20’s aggressive features in our recent review, it’s no V10; the pioneering V-series flagship made better use of its rugged image and secondary LCD display.
Another feather in the V10’s cap is the use of Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 808 chipset. If you recall, the higher-end Snapdragon 810 processor that most flagship smartphones had last year was prone to overheating to the point of automatic shutdowns. LG evaded the issue by employing a more efficient hexa-core processor without compromising performance.
Apple iPhone 6s
Considering the minor cosmetic differences between the iPhone 7 and iPhone 6s, last year’s model is still a fantastic deal. You don’t lose out on much; features like waterproofing and optical image stabilization for the camera aren’t must-haves unless you’re a travel photographer seeking a secondary pocket shooter.
Despite being a year old, the iPhone 6s’ A9 chipset is nothing to sneeze at; it can easily outpace every other phone on this list. You can also expect timely firmware updates for the next few years. And let’s not forget: You get to keep the 3.5mm audio jack!
Google Nexus 6P
With the release of Google’s new line of Pixel phones, the Nexus brand is effectively shelved, making the Nexus 6P a new-age collector’s item. What makes it so alluring is its continued support for the latest Android updates. You can enroll in Android’s beta program for version 7.1 of Nougat right now, and experience the best of the operating system before everyone else — except Pixel users, of course.
On top of that, the Nexus 6P has features other phones continue to envy, such as the front-facing stereo speakers, beautiful 5.7-inch Quad HD AMOLED display, and highly accurate fingerprint scanner. Its camera, despite having no image stabilization or fancy extra lens, can still hold its own against today’s best.
Explainer: 4 electric car myths, debunked
What you should know about the car of the future
Did you know that the first electric vehicle was invented by Scottish inventor Robert Anderson in 1832? Back then, electricity-powered cars were nothing but curiosities and novelties. Now, electric vehicles are readying themselves to take over the car industry in just a few decades.
As with all revolutionary technology, reception for electric cars is lukewarm at best. Most consumers are still wary with converting to full electric, citing an unstable and uncertain future for the industry.
With the car and fuel industry hanging in the balance, gas car companies have a lot to gain by downplaying the benefits of electric vehicles. Due to the lack of information available, unproven myths inevitably pop up. Myths, as always, need to be debunked especially when electric cars overtake gas car production.
Myth 1: Electric cars are more expensive than gas cars
The cost of an electric vehicle is the most hotly contested aspect of EVs. Admittedly, the world’s most famous electric car, the Tesla Model S, still falls under the luxury car category. The battery-powered car still hovers around the US$ 100,000 range.
Budget-friendlier alternatives are out now, but their price ranges are still a bit more than a conventional car. The Chevrolet Bolt and the Nissan Leaf both cost around US$ 40,000, for example.
Additionally, installing a home charging station compounds that price by about US$ 600.
It’s no surprise that most consumers are turned off by the exorbitant costs of EVs. However, the one-time price tag fails to show how much cheaper it is in the long run.
Right now, the cost of one kilowatt-hour (the standard for EVs) is below the cost of one liter of gasoline. Roughly estimating, one kWh costs 20 cents, while one liter of gas costs US$ 1, according to today’s standards.
The Nissan Leaf carries a 40kWh battery. Charging it to full will cost 40kWh x US$ 0.20 = US$ 8. Meanwhile, a 40L gas car will cost 40L x US$ 1 = US$ 40. Added with a much steeper maintenance cost, gasoline vehicles will quickly overtake the cost of EVs in the long run. (Of course, actual costs will still vary on usage, real prices, and road conditions.)
Myth 2: EVs don’t perform as well as gas cars
Don’t be fooled. Even if EVs are remarkably silent on the road, they are hiding powerful engines that are quickly catching up to the standards of speed today.
At their core, gasoline vehicles are inherently faulty. Their emissions aren’t only a hit on air pollution; they also mean that a car wastes a huge portion of their energy through heat, smoke, and other harmful pollutants.
On the other hand, EVs convert up to 62 percent of their stored energy for movement. For comparison, gas cars only use up 21 percent of their energy.
In terms of mileage, EVs can travel up to 193 kilometers on a full charge, adequate for a day’s worth of traveling. However, gas cars still rule the road by hundreds of kilometers more. It’s only a matter of time before EVs catch up, though. The industry-leading Tesla Model S 100D already tops out at 530+ kilometers.
Finally, when it comes to speed, EVs can do well to catch up with you in traffic. For example, both the Nissan Leaf and the Chevrolet Bolt reach speeds of up to 150km/h. While the more widely available EVs can still be woefully left in the dirt on a straightaway, the Tesla Model X blazes through with a top speed of 250km/h.
Amid all of this, EVs do their jobs quietly. If you’re not paying attention, an EV can sneak up on you from behind. Besides air pollution, EVs avoid noise pollution, too.
Myth 3: Maintaining an EV is more trouble than it’s worth
Both an EV and a gas car take you from one place to the other. EVs just do it with far fewer components. Unlike conventional cars, EVs aren’t frequent visitors to the mechanics. Fewer parts mean fewer components to maintain.
That doesn’t mean that everything is breezy, though. Replacing the battery is a nightmare for your budgeting. For example, a Nissan Leaf replacement battery costs US$ 5,499.
Thankfully, batteries are a lot more durable than you would expect. The Nissan Leaf guarantees a battery life of eight years or 100,000 miles (or approximately 161,000 kilometers). Most electric car brands already offer warranties (including replacements) before their batteries expire. Moreover, electric car batteries are completely recyclable. You might even get a trade-in return for your old battery.
Currently, the only hurdle impeding an electric car’s maintenance is the lack of able mechanics who specialize in EVs. On the bright side, by the time that you’ll need a thorough repair on your EV, the employment industry will have evolved to accommodate your needs.
Myth 4: Electric vehicles are the saviors of the environment
There is no doubt that EVs eliminate the carbon emissions that gas cars will always emit. Even from their construction, EVs carry a design trait that puts them beyond gas cars: They don’t have a tailpipe.
Currently, 75 percent of air pollution comes from motor vehicles. With their energy-efficient design, EVs eliminate the pollution caused by carbon emission. Converting to an EV is one of the greenest decisions you can make to save the environment.
However, it has its own fair share of gray areas. Critics often share the myth that EVs only displace the emissions from the tailpipe to a coal plant’s smoke stack.
Which is partly true.
On their own, the world’s main methods of producing power are terribly unprepared for a sudden surge in demand. Despite recent developments in renewable energy, coal power is still the world’s leading generator of electricity.
Hypothetically, if everyone in the world adopted EVs right now, coal plants would have to exponentially increase their output, creating more smokestack emissions as a result.
Luckily, the world isn’t ready to go full EV yet. Early predictions still date the takeover to 2040. We still have a lot of time to adjust our energy consumption for more energy-efficient means, like solar, hydro, and nuclear.
In reality, EVs can’t save the world by themselves. The myth that they just displace damage is only half-true. However, the environment can’t survive with 50 percent solutions. It has to rely on us changing our perspectives on energy.
Electric vehicles are the future. But with unchecked energy consumption rates, that future can look quite grim.
All that we can expect from Nokia at MWC 2018
We’re looking forward to all of them!
Under the helm of HMD Global, Nokia rose back as one of the popular mobile phone brands that fully embraces Android. While the journey back to the top is still a long way to go, Nokia continues to pique our interest in their new and upcoming releases.
With Mobile World Congress 2018 just a couple of days away, let’s have a quick recap of what we can expect from Nokia’s announcement in Barcelona.
Google already confirmed that we’re seeing the first batch of Android Go-powered phones at MWC 2018, and one them could be the long-rumored Nokia 1. There’s not much to expect from the device, because it’s a low-end smartphone. It’s rumored to have a pocketable HD display with 1GB of memory and 8GB of storage, which is enough to run Android Go.
Nokia 7 Plus
Speaking of Android One, Nokia is also expected to unwrap their Android One smartphone, the Nokia 7 Plus. If the Nokia 1 with Android Go is targeted for those who are on a tight budget, the Nokia 7 Plus will be a midrange phone.
According to previous rumors, it’ll have a 6-inch Full HD+ display with an 18:9 aspect ratio. A Snapdragon 660 processor will power the phone along with an ample 4GB of memory and 64GB of storage.
Keeping in with the trend, it’ll have two rear cameras with Zeiss-branded lenses. The fingerprint reader is positioned at the back since the front is occupied by the near-borderless display.
Nokia’s next flagship is quite confusing to determine. There have been many rumors about it but none as concrete as the Nokia 1 or 7 Plus. When it comes to its name, the premium Nokia phone might be called the Nokia 9 which is one number higher than the previous flagship.
Being a 2018 flagship, the Nokia 9 is expected to sport the latest specs and design including an edge-to-edge display with curved sides ala Samsung Galaxy S8 and dual rear cameras with Zeiss optics. It’s also rumored to sport the latest Snapdragon 845 processor (as it should) and unique colors like the Nokia 8’s.
Nokia 8 Sirocco
Lastly, there are also rumors about the return of Nokia’s prestige Sirocco branding. If you guys can still remember the golden years of Nokia, Sirocco-branded phones have the most premium craftsmanship among Nokia’s lineup. Interestingly, HMD Global has trademarked the Nokia 8 Sirocco name.
The Nokia 8 Sirocco is likely to feature an OLED display, dual-selfie cameras, and added storage, but the rest of the specs like the Snapdragon 835 processor and memory are expected to carry over from the original Nokia 8. Even the design might be similar, but with more premium craftsmanship.
Nothing’s official, so take everything with a grain of salt. We’ll be covering Nokia’s event at MWC 2018 live, so stay tuned here on GadgetMatch!
Mobile World Congress will be different in 2018
Setting the stage for the biggest smartphone show on earth! And how Samsung’s upcoming S9 will disrupt the whole show.
This year’s Mobile World Congress is shaping up to be quite different. And I have a feeling it’s in large part because of the Samsung Galaxy S9 launch, happening just one day before the show’s actual start.
Last year, the Korean tech giant chose a later time and place for its flagship launch, giving other brands the chance to share the MWC spotlight.
Last year, I remember being quietly thankful for Samsung’s almost absence from MWC (they unveiled tablets instead. The show then became a place where other brands could all take part in the conversation, and smaller brands were allowed a chance to be part of the narrative.
Perhaps strategically then, and completely within its own rights, Samsung is choosing to exert its dominance at MWC 2018, using it as the platform to launch its most anticipated flagship sequel.
With the Galaxy S9 expected to dominate the headlines, Samsung’s closest rivals will have to go big or go home.
We hope to be pleasantly surprised by HMD Global, whose nostalgia-fueled Nokia 3310 reboot was the unprecedented star of last year’s show.
Their launch event is also set for the 25th, the same day as Samsung’s. Expected are at least two phones: the Nokia 1 meant for developing markets, and a new midranger the Nokia 7+. Although the actual news-maker — if patent filings are to be believed, the Nokia 10 with five rear cameras — is being saved for a later date. But wouldn’t it be great if we saw another retro phone make a comeback?
Also on the 25th, Sony is expected to unveil its new flagship, the Xperia XZ2, but that’s all we know so far. It’s almost uncharacteristic of the smartphone industry to go without any leaks. We’ve got our fingers crossed that the surprises will be great.
Then on the 27th, ASUS will launch the ZenFone 5. A newcomer to MWC, reps from ASUS tell GadgetMatch their presence at the event will elevate the company’s stature in the smartphone space. The original ZenFone 5 from 2014 disrupted the smartphone industry, and their #BackTo5 campaign hints at a similar thrust.
Others have prudently decided to take a back seat and create moments of their own at a later date.
Unlike previous years, LG and Huawei will not be launching their 2018 flagships in Barcelona. Both brands will be at MWC with smaller announcements instead.
By not going with its usual launch schedule, LG will have the time to further refine the upcoming G7 (name not yet confirmed), secure the right parts, and prep to hit retail stores closer to the phone’s launch date. Factors that could have done last year’s phone some good. If last year’s V30 was any indication, and with LG’s new ThinQ AI announcements at CES coming into play, the G7 has the potential to be a runaway success.
Huawei’s is also pushing back its P11 (or P20) launch event to March. I have high hopes for Huawei, whose forward-thinking AI approach to smartphone computing set them apart last year. A later launch date for their next flagship launch will allow them to chart their own path and stand out as the smartphone leader they are quickly becoming.
At MWC, Huawei will be launching a line of new tablets. But we really look forward to sitting down with CEO Richard Yu to speak about the current roadblocks that stand in the way of their entry into the North American market.
Whatever the case, if this is how the cards fall, then 2018 looks to be a great year for smartphone enthusiasts, and for us journalists who cover them live. It all happens in Spain at MWC 2018. We hope you’ve got your seat belts fastened, because its going to be a thrilling ride.
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