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All burned out: Samsung’s Galaxy Note 7 is done for

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Samsung did something today I thought it would never do — not after what had occurred recently. All across the company, stockholders, executives, and staff must have thought the same thing.

The Galaxy Note 7 should’ve been fixed. That’s the whole point of the recall, exchange, or whatever it is Samsung did the past couple of weeks on an unprecedented scale — all that effort should have resulted in a safer phone than when it first arrived in stores. Even though its propensity to spontaneously combust in your hand or in your home should be the least of your concerns when deciding on your next handset.

Yet, clearly — pardon me — the fire on the Note 7 hasn’t died down. And it has forced Samsung to ask carriers and retailers worldwide to “stop sales and exchanges” of the troubled phone and tell customers to “power down and stop using” their device altogether. Again — and at a time when the company was starting to win back the trust of affected customers with swift action and accountability, along with apologies and compensation.

[irp posts=”4358" name=”How to tell if your Samsung Galaxy Note 7 has faulty or ‘safe’ battery”]

For a while, things seemed to be going well enough. I was there to witness first-hand how genuine company representatives were to Note 7 owners who exchanged their phones on the first day of Samsung’s replacement program in the Philippines. Samsung even put out a press release saying more than one million customers around the world are using “safe” Note 7 units. How long ago those times seem.

Today’s announcement puts the final nail in the Note 7’s coffin; or, more accurately, its black cardboard box. Not that critics and consumers alike didn’t see it coming. As The Verge notes, at least five incidents of replacement units igniting were reported in the U.S. alone within the past week.

Today’s announcement puts the final nail in the Note 7’s coffin.

A Note 7 caught fire on a plane, prompting airline staff to evacuate those inside; a man in Kentucky woke up to find his bedroom filled with black smoke from his burnt replacement device; a Virginia native saw his Note 7 “burst into flames” on his nightstand just two days ago. Many more incidents were reported across China, Taiwan, and South Korea.

It all seems like a replay of the same nightmare scenario Samsung found itself in a month ago. Which is a shame, because I really like the Galaxy Note 7. The rest of the folks here do so, too. So do a bunch of other people in tech, as well as consumers who want their handsets big and cutting edge. Beyond the top-shelf specs, the Note 7 has fancy looks; it has fancy features (the retina scanner is more useful than I predicted); it has fancy everything — including price.

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Most importantly, Samsung tried to push the needle forward amid a stagnating industry mired in a prolonged technical slump. Perhaps, as others had suggested, it tried too hard, having recently found out about the “dull” iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus.

We’re already months behind its fall launch, but the Note 7 obviously still isn’t market-ready, for whatever reasons. But its rivals are. And in the coming months, you can expect to see Samsung’s fiercest competitors pounce on the opportunity to sell more big-screen handsets while throwing shade at Samsung’s misdeeds and misfortunes. Sick of seeing those new phone commercials? Well, too bad — you’re probably going to see more of them.

Perhaps Samsung tried too hard to push the needle forward amid a stagnating industry mired in a prolonged technical slump.

This site had a lot of content planned for Samsung’s co-flagship, and the operative word here is “had.” The post-crisis review, the how-tos, the related videos — they’re all in the past tense now. The recommendation I made in early August is also no longer accurate; the best advice I could give anybody still using the Note 7 is the same one Samsung is dispensing with urgency: Turn off your device immediately and return it to a store for a refund or another handset. Period. No ifs and buts.

What was supposed to be the most important Samsung smartphone yet had crashed and burned unlike any other, leaving in its trail more questions about the company’s commitment to consumer safety than anything else. Samsung, it bears noting, did the right thing and went to great lengths to keep the battery issue in check. It halted sales and issued a global recall of potentially flammable handsets — twice, following a botched first try.

[irp[irp posts=”1319" name=”Samsung Galaxy S7, S7 Edge Hands On – Better than eyes can see”]

For the tech giant, maybe the best way to move forward is to eat a sizable slice of humble pie, drop the Note 7 altogether, and focus on the development of its other signature smartphone, next year’s S8. After all, it has enough in the coffers that it can afford to permanently discontinue the Note 7.

The longer this issue takes to resolve, the bigger the mess it makes. What it can’t afford is to let its reputation go up in smoke over one product that has caught fire a few times too many.

Best Smartphones

Best Midrange Smartphones from $200 to $400

December 2019 Edition

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When premium phones are out of financial reach and entry-level handsets just don’t make your cut, something in between is the next best thing. This is our updated list of the best midrange smartphones retailing from US$ 200 to US$ 400.

Formulating this category was tricky, since you can’t set an exact price and some of these devices are, in fact, the flagship phones of their respective brands. To simplify things, we chose a price range that simply sits between our other lists for best budget, upper-midrange, and premium smartphones.

Here they are in no particular order:

Realme XT (US$ 333)

The Realme XT is our choice for best smartphone with a 64MP camera. This smartphone produces flagship-level photos.

REVIEW: Realme XT

Xiaomi Mi 9 SE (US$ 300)

Xiaomi has always been a part of the list and the Mi 9 SE truly deserves its spot. It’s a flagship-grade phone from its design to its specs. It’s dubbed as a “compact flagship” thanks to its smaller-than-usual form factor. If you’re looking for a phone that won’t hurt your pockets both in size and price, check out the Mi 9 SE.

REVIEW: Xiaomi Mi 9 SE

Realme 5 Pro (US$ 232)

A quadruple-camera setup at this price point seems unlikely but Realme made it happen. And it’s not just the setup, the lenses actually take photos with good image quality. That would have been enough to recommend this but it also has a Snapdragon 712 AIE chip with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage. If you’re looking for a great deal, this is it.

HANDS-ON: Realme 5 Pro

ASUS ZenFone Max Pro M2 (US$ 245)

While not as affordable as its predecessor, the ZenFone Max Pro M2 still does several things most phones can’t even dream of at this price point. We get an upper-midrange chip, large 5000mAh battery, versatile cameras, and a pure take on Android.

REVIEW: ASUS ZenFone Max Pro M2

Huawei Nova 5T (US$ 367)

Huawei managed to put a flagship-level chip with a glass back and with triple cameras on a midrange phone. These are things you expect from brands like Xiaomi but Huawei was able to pull it off as well.

READ: Huawei Nova 5T

Samsung Galaxy A50s (US$ 345)

Samsung’s pivot to the A series has been fantastic and the Galaxy A50s is another proof of that. It’s a refinement of everything that was good with the Galaxy A50. If you’re a die-hard Samsung fan looking for a midrange phone, the Galaxy A50s is a solid option.

REVIEW: Samsung Galaxy A50s

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Best Smartphones

Best Budget Smartphones below $200

December 2019 Edition

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Welcome to GadgetMatch’s list of the best smartphones priced below US$ 200! Each month, we update our selection with the budget-friendly phones we believe are most deserving of your hard-earned savings.

Even though the spotlight has been on high-end smartphones this entire year, there have been a few surprisingly good entry-level handsets coming out lately, as well. So good, in fact, that we had to reassess our entire list.

Here they are in no particular order:

Redmi Note 8 (US$ 155)

The Redmi Note 8 is proof that you can put quality cameras on a budget smartphone. It has a 48MP main shooter which is what you’ll find on most flagships and midrangers. With a Qualcomm Snapdragon 665 SoC, it should also have no trouble handling basic gaming and other tasks you do on your phone.

READ: Redmi Note 8

ASUS ZenFone Max M2 (US$ 175)

We were disappointed to find out that the ZenFone Max Pro M2 went above the US$ 200 mark, but we still have the non-Pro Max M2 to buy at this price point. Fortunately, the fast Snapdragon 632 processor, large 4000mAh battery, and dual rear cameras remain.

REVIEW: ASUS ZenFone Max M2

OPPO A5s (US$ 117)

The OPPO A5s perhaps is best looked at as a transition device more than anything else. It does what you expect out of budget smartphones. It’s good to have “for now” but you might look elsewhere for a more reliable daily driver.

REVIEW: OPPO A5s

Realme 5 (US$ 154)

Realme is giving Xiaomi a run for its money on our top-of-mind easy phones to recommend. The Realme 5 is a real treat for people looking for a budget smartphone that provides more than what they need.

HANDS-ON: Realme 5

Samsung Galaxy A20 (US$ 190)

Samsung’s revived Galaxy A-series proves that the company cares about every price segment. The Galaxy A20, in particular, is the most well-rounded below US$ 200 thanks to its ultra-wide camera, AMOLED display, and hefty battery.

REVIEW: Samsung Galaxy A20

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Best Smartphones

Best Upper-Midrange Smartphones from $400 to $600

December 2019 Edition

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When premium phones are out of financial reach and entry-level handsets just don’t make your cut, something in between is the next best thing. This is our updated list of the best upper-midrange smartphones retailing from US$ 400 to US$ 600.

Formulating this category was tricky, since you can’t set an exact price and some of these devices are, in fact, the flagship phones of their respective brands. To simplify things, we chose a price range that simply sits between our other lists for best budget, midrange, and premium smartphones.

Here they are in no particular order:

Redmi K20 Pro (US$ 364)

With the future of Pocophone up in the air, the Redmi K20 Pro fills the category that the sub-brand created for itself. On paper, it’s equipped with flagship specs but without the price tag usually associated with top of the line smartphones.

READ: Redmi K20 Pro

Realme X2 Pro (CNY 3299)

The Realme X2 Pro has flagship killer written all over it. Equipped with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 855+ and a 64MP camera sensor along with three other cameras, this phone promises to be a powerhouse with a price tag that doesn’t require sacrificing any of your internal organs.

HANDS-ON: Realme X2 Pro

Google Pixel 3a (US$ 399)

Years after the death of the Nexus line, Google has finally unleashed a more affordable Pixel phone that still has the same great set of cameras. While the body is now plastic and the processor isn’t as fast, the Pixel 3a still runs circles around the competition at this price point.

REVIEW: Google Pixel 3a

Xiaomi Mi 9 (EUR 449)

Xiaomi once again brings the latest and fastest processor available to the midrange segment. That’s right: The Mi 9 has the Snapdragon 855 chipset, and it doesn’t cost a fortune. Not only that, Xiaomi’s flagship also has speedy wireless charging and class-leading cameras.

REVIEW: Xiaomi Mi 9

OnePlus 7T (US$ 599)

When the OnePlus 7 and 7 Pro came out, the company wanted to clearly communicate that they’re competing in the premium space. Fast forward to the OnePlus 7T and it looks like they are back to their flagship killing ways offering premium-level specs at a price lower than most top-of-the-line flagships.

UNBOXING & HANDS-ON: OnePlus 7

ASUS ZenFone 6 (EUR 499)

ASUS wowed us with the ZenFone 6 and its new Flip Camera. The unique mechanism of the phone’s camera not only allows a notch-free display, but it also lets users take incredible selfies using the primary shooters. Also, ASUS has blessed its new smartphone with the latest specs possible at a competitive price point.

REVIEW: ASUS ZenFone 6

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