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LG G3 review: the company's best phone yet

Bigger, higher resolution, simpler to use. That's how we described LG's latest flagship, the G3, when we finally got our hands on it last week. The headline feature is, without a doubt, that Quad HD (2,560 x 1,440) screen. I've been gazing at it intensely since the review unit landed in my hand. But, the G3's not just a one-trick pony; there's a lot going on under that "metallic skin." Good thing there's a full Engadget review here to tell you all about it.

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HTC created what was undoubtedly one of the best smartphones of last year with the original One. That was later followed up by the One mini, which was surprising in the sense that the handset maker hadn't before attempted a slimmed-down, scaled-back version of any of its flagship devices. HTC's nemesis Samsung established this trend when it launched the Galaxy S III mini, and it inspired many discussions about the ethics of slapping the name of top-tier handsets onto lesser devices. (Sony obviously made an executive decision to avoid the "mini" epithet for its Xperia Z1 Compact, which is actually just a smaller, but equally specced version of the flagship Z1.)

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OnePlus One review: a $300 smartphone has never looked so good

Look at your phone. If you can honestly admit that you love every single thing about it, I have good news: You can stop reading this review, since it won't have an impact on your happiness. But if there's even one thing you wish your smartphone could do better, it means you had to make compromises when you bought it. Everybody wants a perfect phone, but such a thing simply doesn't exist. So, we settle on a phone that has only 95 percent of the features we want, and that... kinda sucks.

OnePlus believes it doesn't have to be this way. Its motto, "Never Settle," represents the fledgling Chinese company's mission to build and sell the perfect smartphone. Its first attempt is the One, a premium-looking device that has customizable firmware and top-shelf specs. Oh, and it'll sell for $299 unlocked and free of contract, which is even less expensive than Google's Nexus 5. Seems a little over-ambitious for a small startup with no official track record, doesn't it? Let's find out if the One is too good to be true.

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Lenovo ThinkPad 8 review: sharp screen, worst-in-class battery life

Not long ago, I vowed to review every 8-inch Windows tablet. That's partly because they're popular, sure, but there was another reason, too: Their specs are so similar that you'd have to actually use one to know which is best. In a field full of same-y options, though, the Lenovo ThinkPad 8 would seem to stand out: It's the only one with a full HD screen, not to mention a 128GB storage option (good news for folks who'd rather not store stuff on a microSD card). Other bonus points include an aluminum casing -- a step above other tablet designs -- as well as optional 4G. Of course, premium doesn't come cheap; the ThinkPad 8 starts at $429, whereas competing models can be had for around $300. The question, then, is: Could it still be worth it?

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For a company now under Microsoft's rule, Nokia has serious grit. The phone maker announced an Android phone called the X just two months before completing its merger with Microsoft. Even more intriguing is the fact that this is no run-of-the-mill Android device: The X comes with a Windows Phone-like launcher, offers Microsoft services and will be sold for around $120 in developing markets. While it may not be a powerful smartphone, it has many unique qualities that help it stand out from the low-end crowd. What's it like, and should Microsoft invest in its success?

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Sony Xperia Z2 Tablet review: A top-tier slate with a familiar face

Oh, Sony. Its earliest Android tablet efforts were a little odd (and that's putting it politely), but the company eventually managed to get its act together. Last year's Xperia Tablet Z? Easily the finest Android slate that Sony's ever made. When it came time to craft an upgrade, though, Sony was faced with a choice: Should it try to push the envelope in a different direction? Or simply stay the course and apply a healthy dose of polish to an already-good device?

Needless to say, it chose the latter. The new Xperia Z2 Tablet looks strikingly similar to its predecessor, albeit with a swapped-out set of components under the hood. The strange sense of drama that comes with a new product seems absent here. In a cynical age when new devices can fly or flop based on spectacle alone, Sony played it safe. It iterated. But is that such a bad thing? Is "iterating" really as yucky a word as we've all been led to believe? Let's find out.

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Samsung Gear Fit review: a messy merger of fitness band and smartwatch

Fitness trackers and smartwatches come a dime a dozen, but devices that combine the best of both? Still exceedingly rare. Now, however, Samsung thinks it has the perfect solution in the Gear Fit, a fitness band with a beautiful, curved screen, as well as a heart rate monitor, pedometer and a few smartwatch features thrown in for good measure. It's an ambitious product, no doubt, but unfortunately, this $200 fitness-tracking smartwatch hybrid didn't quite meet my expectations. Here's why.

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Sony Xperia Z2

It's been nearly three years since I reviewed the Xperia Neo, manufactured by what was then Sony Ericsson. The Neo represented just the second generation of Xperia phones running on Android, from a period when Sony was finding its feet in the world of mobile and still chucking out plenty of duds (I'm looking at you, Tablet P). Fast-forward to today and things have changed dramatically under Kaz Hirai's stewardship. I'll tell you this right now: The Z2 is an easy phone to recommend, at least for those living in countries where it'll definitely be available (a list that includes the UK and Canada, but not yet the US). The only real caveat is the handset's huge, monolithic construction (a far cry from puny, 126-gram Neo). As you'll see, if you can get past its size, the Z2 addresses some of the most serious gripes we had with its predecessors, the Xperia Z and Z1, particularly with respect to its LCD display. In fact, in some respects, it's far ahead of any other Android phone currently on the market.

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KnowRoaming review: This SIM 'sticker' makes it easy for travelers to save on data

Thanks in no small part to T-Mobile's free global data initiative, US carriers have begun to lighten the fee load when it comes time to roam. But you'll still pay an arm and a leg in many countries, and discounted plans from AT&T and Verizon, while more reasonable than they once were, require a monthly subscription that can be a hassle to add and remove. If you're expecting to use gobs of data abroad, KeepGo's disposable-SIM program is probably your best bet, but an intriguing alternative from KnowRoaming will keep leisure travelers and other casual users connected in 220 countries without the need to worry about coming home to an enormous bill. That solution, an incredibly thin card with passthrough leads and an adhesive back, simply sits atop your existing SIM, springing into action whenever you arrive in a foreign country. Join me as I travel to Europe and beyond to see how well this sticker works.

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2013 was the year of the smartwatch. In promise, anyway -- maybe not delivery. Of the many, many different, colorful and unusual timepieces that would populate our blogroll, it was perhaps Samsung's Galaxy Gear that made the most headlines. Why? Partly because it was a new product from one of technology's biggest players, and partly because it was just so bad. Poor battery life, an unpopular design and limited apps meant that the $300 accessory never had a chance of catching on. But, resilient as ever, Samsung is having another crack at it. In fact, it's having another three cracks at it with the release of the Gear 2, Gear 2 Neo and Gear Fit smartwatches. The big question this time around: Is the second-gen Gear any better than its predecessor? Spoiler alert: Yes, it is. But enough that you might actually want one? That question is a little more complex.

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Windows Phone 8.1 review: Microsoft's mobile OS finally feels whole

Android, iOS, Windows Phone. Each of these mobile platforms had to start somewhere, and none were anywhere near perfect on the first try. Fortunately, each OS gets better with every iteration until, at some point, it all just clicks. Arguably, Windows Phone just came of age with its latest update, version 8.1.

Even before today, Windows Phone only had a few big holes remaining and indeed, 8.1 appears to fill those gaps. In particular, the OS now has a fancy notification center in addition to those signature Live Tiles; the keyboard now allows for swipe gestures; and last but not least, it now has Cortana, a virtual assistant to take on Siri, Google Now and Samsung's S Voice. The 8.1 update is a fairly significant one, and I got the opportunity to take it for a spin ahead of the official developer preview's launch. It may not be perfect yet, but it's clear Windows Phone has finally grown up.

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When Samsung unveiled the Galaxy S5 and a trio of Gear smartwatches, the company made a big to-do about how it listens to its customers. We know, we know: Every company's supposed to be doing that. But remember, this is Samsung we're talking about. It dominates the Android market by such a wide margin that it makes rivals like LG and HTC look like quaint startups. Put it another way: Samsung could release a phone with no improvements, and it'd still sell millions.

At least, that's how it used to be. The smartphone market has seen a downturn of late and even mighty Samsung has been affected. Sales are down, and the manufacturer must now make phones that give people what they actually want (shocker, we know). So what can we expect from a humbled Samsung? A durable phone that brings a toned-down TouchWiz UI, a better camera, longer battery life, improved performance, a fingerprint scanner and enhanced health tracking. I received an unlocked review unit from GSM Nation, which was the first outlet to start shipping the phone in the US with AT&T- and T-Mobile-compatible LTE. Now that I've been testing it for a few days, let's see if the Galaxy S5 lives up to all those promises.

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The HTC One was one of our favorite smartphones of 2013. It featured a gorgeous industrial design, a fantastic display, great camera and top-of-the-line performance. HTC poured its heart into it, as evidenced by nearly every aspect of the device. The phone exceeded nearly all of our expectations, but that also left a big problem: We now expect history to repeat itself. After all, if the original One was such a great device, its successor should, in theory, be even better, right?

Of course it should be. But does this year's version of the One have what it takes? On paper, the answer is yes: It has a larger screen, offers two curious-looking rear camera sensors, boasts an improved version of HTC's Sense UI and features a chassis with even more metal. It appears, then, that there's a lot to love here, but it's difficult to take our breath away twice in a row. Here's what impressed -- and what didn't.

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The large-screen smartphone market is now one of the most fiercely competitive in the wireless industry. But even though nearly every phone maker has produced a competitor to the Samsung Galaxy Note, only a handful of products have actually been worth considering. LG's Optimus G Pro, a 5.5-inch flagship introduced last year, was one such exception. A year later, its 5.9-inch successor picks up where the first Pro left off, adding enough extra firepower to take on the Galaxy Note 3 spec for spec. The LG G Pro 2 may very well have what it takes to stand up against its big-screen rival, but it'll have to overcome a few minor obstacles in order to succeed.

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Oppo N1 review: a cameraphone that puts selfies first

If our articles have been tagged properly, the first mention of Oppo on Engadget dates back to August 2005. No one would have thought that this then-fledgling DVD player manufacturer -- a spin-off from Vivo's parent company BBK -- would end up making some interesting smartphones. It's funny how both of these Chinese brands have been getting our attention lately with top specs, nice designs and reasonable prices. However, in terms of global reach, Oppo is well ahead with its presence in Thailand, Indonesia, Russia, Vietnam and India. Vivo, on the other hand, is preparing to break out of China sometime this year.

Following the Find 5, Oppo's latest flagship product is the N1, a 5.9-inch Android phone that's bringing back the once-common swivel camera. This device is clearly meant to meet the growing appetite for large phones and high-quality selfie cameras, especially in Asia. For those seeking a different kind of selling point, the N1 is also the first device to offer CyanogenMod ROM -- stock Android, but with neat enhancements -- and with Google's approval, no less. Thus, users get to choose between two officially supported ROMs. But what about the execution? And will these bonuses be enough to attract a global audience? Read on to find out.

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