Latest Tech News

Subscribe to Latest Tech News feed Latest Tech News
Get all the latest tech news from Techradar.com
Updated: 4 hours 44 min ago

Workers don't need to fear AI

9 hours 32 min ago

UK employees are optimistic when it comes to embracing automation technology in the workplace, new research has found.

Despite widely-reported claims that AI and other technologies will lead to widespread job culls across multiple industries, new findings from Automation Anywhere found many workers are actually positive over the impact the technology can have.

Surveying 4,000 employees in large enterprises across the UK, USA and India in a major study with the University of London, the company found that only a small proportion of workers view AI as a threat.

Crucial

Overall, almost three quarters (72 percent) of workers said they viewed AI technology as something they work with, rather than something that will replace them - with just eight percent reporting the opposite.

Over half (57 percent) said they believed the opportunity to work with different types of AI or automation technology would benefit their productivity in the long run - compared to just 16 percent who feel the opposite - with two thirds (66 percent) also saying they want to know more about how AI can help them do their job. 

However, the report warns organisations not to overstate the capabilities of automation and AI – with just over half (53 percent) of respondents surveyed claiming they had heard a ‘lot of people talking about AI without knowing what it really is’.

“We commissioned this research to gain a deeper understanding of the practical considerations in scaling automation and AI – for our customers, for our partners, and for ourselves," said Mihir Shukla, CEO and Co-Founder of Automation Anywhere. 

"It was crucial we included the voice of workers in the research – employees in the UK and around the world, who will be the most impacted by this technology, but also have the most to gain by its presence. From skills to diversity to authenticity, it’s important that as a sector, we continue to question and debate these challenging issues, to promote the responsible and ethical development of automation.”

Categories: Tech News

Are you ready for Making Tax Digital?

9 hours 35 min ago

As from 1st April 2019, Making Tax Digital (MTD) for VAT will swing into action. 

This means that for all businesses that have an annual taxable turnover of over £85,000, ie taxable supplies that are either standard, reduced rate or zero rated, they will be compelled to keep their records digitally unless they are deferred for six months or exempt. They will also have to file their VAT returns using MTD-compatible software. 

Those businesses that have been part of the MTD pilot are already mandated to use the service from April 2019.

Mandatory but not automatic enrollment

It is important to realise that VAT registered businesses are not automatically signed up to MTD and must therefore ensure that they enrol by visiting Sign up for MTD. HMRC will send a confirmation e-mail within 72 hours of signing up.  

The timing of signing up is crucial, as signing up too early can create problems. Only VAT periods starting on or after 1st April 2019 are affected, so if a business signs up in March in the belief this is required in readiness for the changes, its March 2019 VAT return would have to be filed using MTD software and not via the HMRC portal.  

For the majority of businesses that file VAT returns quarterly, their first MTD returns won’t be due until August 2019 or later.  

Image Credit: Pixabay

Digital record keeping 

For those businesses that already use accounting software or spreadsheets to maintain their VAT records, they may not notice a great deal of difference but they will need to ensure that their software is MTD-compatible.  

The good news is that spreadsheets can continue to be used for the foreseeable future but ‘bridging software’ is likely to be required to make them MTD-compatible.  

MTD does not require additional VAT records to be kept but rather for them to be recorded digitally. For both supplies made (sales) and received (expenses) the following data must be stored digitally:  

  • Tax point/time of supply
  • Value of supply excluding VAT 
  • Rate of VAT charged (sales) and input tax being recovered (expenses)
  • Summary VAT return data

Contractors using the flat rate scheme will not be required to keep digital records of supplies received unless they relate to capital items which cost most than £2,000 (including VAT). 

Digital record keeping does not require businesses to scan and store invoices and receipts digitally, so businesses can continue to keep documents in paper form should they wish to do so but each transaction will need to be recorded and stored digitally. 

Image Credit: Flickr

MTD-compatible software

Compatible software is a software product or set of software products that between them support the obligations of digital record keeping and exchanging data with HMRC through the MTD service.  

‘Bridging software’, which will be required where spreadsheets are used, is the term used by HMRC for the digital tool that can take information from other applications, such as spreadsheets or an in-house record keeping system, and allows the user to send the required information digitally to HMRC in the correct format.  

To help businesses find the right software HMRC have produced a list of over 160 MTD software suppliers. However, sifting through such a vast catalogue to find which software works best for their business will be time consuming. Recognising this, financial secretary to the Treasury, Mel Stride has said: “We will shortly be releasing further information that will allow businesses to put in their requirements and then reduce that number of products to a subset that is particularly relevant to their needs.”

HMRC say that there are MTD-compatible solutions available at little or no cost for most businesses, with 11 products available for free with varying conditions of use. Read the small print as it is very rate to get something for nothing nowadays!

Deferred mandation 

Those organisations with more complex VAT affairs, for example, trusts, not for profit organisations, local authorities, are not required to join in until 1st October 2019. HMRC has written to all those that fall into this category. For those organisations that have received such a letter it is vital that they keep this in a safe place because it represents the legal permission for deferral. For those falling in this category who have yet to receive a letter, then they should contact the VAT helpline otherwise they will have to comply with MTD from April. 

Who’s exempt? 

There is an automatic exemption from MTD for a business that currently is not required to file their VAT return online, and therefore they do not need to take any action. For others that feel that they should be exempt, they must contact the VAT helpline or write to HMRC VAT Written Enquiries Team in Glasgow. 

To claim exemption, a business will have to satisfy HMRC that either: 

  • it’s not reasonably practicable for them to use digital tools to keep their business records or submit their VAT returns because of age, disability, remoteness of location or for any other reason; 
  • they or their business are subject to an insolvency procedure; or 
  • their business is run entirely by practising members of a religious society or order whose beliefs are incompatible with using electronic communications or keeping electronic records. 

Further information can be found in VAT Notice 700/22. 

Penalties 

HMRC have confirmed that there will be a ‘soft landing period’ of one year to allow businesses time to implement digital links between all parts of their MTD-compatible software. During this period, where such a link has not been established between software programs, HMRC will accept the use of cut and paste as being a digital link.  

Recognising that businesses will require time to familiarise themselves with the new requirements of MTD, the department will also take a ‘light touch’ approach to digital record keeping and filing penalties during the first year of mandation, where businesses are doing their best to comply with the new rules.  

Image Credit: Shutterstock

It’s not Big Brother, yet! 

There is a myth that under MTD, businesses will have to provide more information than they already do. This is not so. HMRC will only receive the figures in the nine boxes of the VAT return as it always has done.  

Businesses whose turnover is below the VAT registration threshold of £85,000 but are voluntary VAT registered will be able to choose whether to join MTD.

Hopefully most businesses will have heard about MTD by now even if they don’t fully understand the implications. The time to get fully acquainted with the requirements is now so that the business can gear up and owners will not be left panicking.

Andy Vessey, Head of Tax at Larsen Howie

Categories: Tech News

Volvo's EVA Initiative aims to make cars safer for women and children

10 hours 3 min ago

Some people are safer than others on the road. That's because, even in 2019, many car makers use data based on crash test dummies based on the average man. To help solve that problem and make driving equally safe for everyone, Volvo is sharing its database of real-world crash data with the whole industry.

Volvo has been gathering data from actual car accidents since the 1970s to find out what happens to real people in a crash  –  men, women and children.

Its researchers have discovered that women are at higher risk of whiplash in an accident than men due to different anatomy and body strength. They're also more likely to suffer chest injuries, and their shorter average height means they sit lower in the car and closer to the steering wheel, which calls for different head protection.

Safer for everyone

The launch of the EVA Intiative marks 60 years since Volvo engineer Nils Bohlin invented the three-point safety belt, which is now standard in all cars.

“We have data on tens of thousands of real-life accidents, to help ensure our cars are as safe as they can be for what happens in real traffic,” says Lotta Jakobsson, professor and senior technical specialist at Volvo Cars Safety Center.

“This means our cars are developed with the aim to protect all people, regardless of gender, height, shape or weight, beyond the ‘average person’ represented by crash test dummies.”

Categories: Tech News

Bang & Olufsen's headphones and speakers get a fresh spring makeover

10 hours 9 min ago

Danish audio company Bang & Olufsen is already well known for its chic, Scandi design – but now B&O has gone one step further, releasing some of of its headphones and speakers in a new color scheme inspired by "the subtle colors of the Scandinavian summer". 

The limited edition SS19 Collection includes headphones, speakers and accessories in what B&O say is "a new, ethereal color scheme that eases from the ground, through the forest and up into the pale blue sky".

The new colors include Clay, which is inspire by "dramatic seaside cliffs", Pine, which is supposed to evoke the "crisp freshness" of the Scandinavian forest, and Sky, a light blue tone with "a cool sense of breezy summer afternoons".

The Beoplay E6 wireless headphones in Sky (Image credit: Bang & Olufsen)

Luxury comes at a price

The products that have been given the spring makeover include the Beoplay E6 in-ear wireless headphones, which are engineered for sports with a splash and dust proof design. They're available to buy for $300 / £275, which works out at around AU$500. However, no official release date or pricing for the new range has been confirmed for Australia yet.

If you prefer a beefier sound, you might want to check out the Beoplay H9i wireless over-ear headphones, which provide up to 18 hours of playback and feature active noise-cancellation – potentially making them an ideal choice for commuters.

The H9is are an updated version of the Beoplay H9s, which impressed us with their battery life and luxurious design – although we weren't keen on the high price tag.

The H9is are similarly expensive at $499 (£450 / around AU$830).

Finally, we have the Beoplay A1, a puck-shaped portable Bluetooth speaker that B&O says can "pack a powerful punch way beyond its size." The Beoplay A1 is available for $250 (£230 / around AU$420). 

Categories: Tech News

Xiaomi Mi Band 4 Bluetooth 5.0 listing reveals NFC support in tow

10 hours 10 min ago

Xiaomi Mi Band 4 has been recently spotted passing through Bluetooth certification and the listing has revealed some interesting new tidbits. The successor to the best-selling fitness tracker, Mi Band 3 will launch sometime in 2019 as the same was confirmed by company’s Cheif Financial Officer, David Cui.

The listing of the Mi Band 4 reveals two models - XMSH07HM and XMSH08HM. Interestingly, the latter variant supports NFC in addition to Bluetooth 5.0. The current Mi Band 3 supports Bluetooth 4.2 low-energy and 5.0 protocol will bring in improved data transmission rates, efficient power consumption among other features.

Image Credit: MSP

Cui also revealed that like every Mi Band, the fourth iteration will also come with some new features. While he did not disclose anything about the new features, rumors indicate the addition of ECG sensor and a colour display but it remains to be seen if those turn out to be true.

As of now, we don’t have any information regarding the design and internals of the Mi Band 4. We’ll know more as we near the launch date of the smart band.

Meanwhile, the Mi Band 3 is still a very good option if one is looking to get started with a smart wearable. Priced at Rs 1,999 the Mi Band 3 offers an OLED touchscreen with upto 20 days of battery life and can monitor heart rate along with sleep tracking. It is also water resistant by upto 50 meters.

Categories: Tech News

Apple AirPower wireless charging launch could be sooner than we thought

10 hours 11 min ago

Apple released new AirPods 2 earbuds this week, complete with wireless charging case. It also has a wirelessly-charging iPhone range, and a wireless charging Apple Watch line. What it doesn't have, frustratingly, is a wireless charging power mat that can serve them all.

Not yet, that is.

Having announced it itself during a September 2017 media event, we've known for ages that Apple is working on its AirPower wireless charging mat. But rumors have pointed towards it being a troubled products, with Apple's engineers unable to get it to work in the way they had intended, with the device charging three devices at once.

However, with the launch of the AirPods 2, it may now be closer to release than it has seemed to be for quite some time. 9to5Mac was tipped off of new AirPower imagery on the Australian Apple website, showing the device alongside the newly-announced earbuds.

Digging deep into the photo, the industrial design of the AirPower accessory doesn't seem to have changed, but the way it interacts with a connected iPhone potentially has. The iPhone is still used to display the charging status of all items placed on the mat, but it looks as if it no longer also shows the time when doing so.

Though the image was hastily pulled, traces of it remain in the page's source code, pointing to the fact fresh photography of the device is being created at Apple.

There's still no official release date for the AirPower charging mat yet, but this is a snippet of evidence suggesting that we may, finally, be edging closer.

Categories: Tech News

Firefox 66 is delayed because of… PowerPoint

10 hours 11 min ago

If you were looking forward to downloading Firefox 66, the latest web browser from Mozilla, then you may have to wait a little while longer, as the company has halted the rollout due to an issue with Microsoft’s PowerPoint Online.

According to a bug report, Office 365 owners who have Firefox 66 installed will not be able to add text to text boxes on the online version. This applies to users on both Windows and Mac.

That’s a pretty annoying bug, and it’s meant that Mozilla is pausing the rollout for all users – even those who don’t use PowerPoint Online. It’s not currently known if the bug affects other Office 365 tools.

Looking for a fix

Mozilla is working on a fix right now, with it testing a potential fix on its Firefox Nightly builds. Once the fix has been tested and is confirmed to work, Mozilla may use its Normandy remote preference update system to send the fix to its users, and then resume the rollout of Firefox 66.

If you already have Firefox 66 installed, you can fix the issue by changing the preference value

to

Then, reload the page.

Via Techdows

Categories: Tech News

Phone network price bumps have cost UK public £1 billion - is it time to change?

10 hours 19 min ago

The UK public has been cost a whopping £1 billion since 2013 thanks to their mobile phone contracts being bumped up mid-term with annual inflation charges, a new study has revealed.

The study - carried out by mobile analysts Tarifica and commissioned by Tesco Mobile - comes as inflation price increases for 2019 are being announced by many phone networks. The estimated cost for 2019 alone, based on the increase, could be a whopping £173 million to the public's wallets and purses.

Networks set to increase charges by up to 2.5% include Vodafone, EE, Three and O2. If you think a network change could save you some money then it's worth checking out our best mobile phone deals page here.

William Watts, director at Tarifica, said: "When calculating the cost to consumers, the most important factor to consider is that price escalations are applied every month until the contract has run its course. So, while many operators advertise the fact that these changes are only costing customers ‘between £1 and £2 per month,’ the cost over the life of a contract can approach £50 or more in some cases.

“Further, these escalations are stacked on top of each other year on year, meaning that the following year’s price increase is built off the one from the previous year, similar to compounding interest in a savings account”.

Read more:

Categories: Tech News

Mobile Industry Awards 2019 - One week left to make your nominations

10 hours 27 min ago

Entries for the Mobile Industry Awards 2019, powered by TechRadar Pro, are open now - and you have one more week to enter.

Entries on the 20 categories for this year's awards are set to close next Friday, March 29th, at 5pm, meaning there's not much time left to get your submissions in.

Now celebrating its 17th year, the Mobile Industry Awards 2019 looks to showcase the gold standard of excellence in the industry - from the boardroom to the grassroots.

This year's categories cover all areas of the industry, across Distribution, B2B, Networks, Companies, People & Teams.  

Voting will also open soon for this year’s Mobile Power 50, which ranks and recognises the industry’s most influential individuals, and Shop Idol, our UK-wide search for the nation's best mobile store salesperson.

Categories now open for entry submissions:

Full entry criteria and guidelines can be found here

  • Best Managed Service Provider
  • Best Unified Comms Dealer
  • Most Innovative Product
  • Best Enterprise Service & Solutions
  • Technology Incubator of the Year
  • Recycling and Recommerce Award
  • Mobile Distributor of the Year
  • Business Growth Award
  • CSR Initiative of the Year
  • Best MVNO 
  • Best MVNO Partner
  • Best Consumer Network 
  • Best Business Network 
  • 5G Network Pioneer
  • Best Repair Service
  • Best Recycling Service
  • Best Online Retailer
  • Best SIM-Free Retailer
  • Best High Street Retailer 
  • Best Manufacturer Field Marketing Team
Power 50

The final selection for the 2019 Mobile Power 50 will also be revealed on Monday, March 25th.

The Power 50 is the definitive list of the most influential figures in the UK mobile industry during the past year. The list is compiled after in-depth interviews with key senior figures across the industry, from operators and retailers, to manufacturers and distributors - but your votes will help decide the final say.

Please join the debate on the Mobile Power 50 website, where you can nominate somebody who you feel serves as an inspiration to the rest of the trade.

For all awards updates, visit the Mobile Industry Awards 2019 site - we look forward to seeing you on the June 6th 2019! 

If you have any questions or queries about how to attend or enter, get in touch at mark.fermor@futurenet.com

Categories: Tech News

Battlefield V’s new battle royale trailer shows off what EA is doing differently

10 hours 31 min ago

Following a number of leaks, including footage spilled from the tutorial, EA has finally given us a close look at exactly what is involved in Battlefield V’s battle royale mode, courtesy of a three-minute official gameplay trailer.

Firestorm, as the mode is called, puts some new tricks into the battle royale mix – though as we’ve previously noted, it copies much of the traditional formula, including taking some inspiration from EA’s current hit Apex Legends.

Some of the interesting stuff highlighted includes the destructible buildings: there’s no need to draw a bead on that sniper in a window, when you can simply take out the entire upper floor of the house with a rocket launcher. Or blow the whole thing up with a tank.

Indeed, the eponymous Firestorm – the encroaching ring of fire that herds players ever-closer together – also razes buildings to the ground as it rampages onwards, and it looks like a truly scary gameplay mechanic in terms of the damage it doles out.

Tractor terror

The trailer also shows that players need to work together to access lock-ups, which is where the rarest land vehicles reside, and there will be 17 vehicles in Firestorm to begin with. That includes a prototype helicopter and a shiny red tractor which can apparently pull a rather dangerous looking piece of artillery.

Some of the best loot will be hidden in safes that need to be cracked, and rare or epic gear will also be obtainable by completing resupply point objectives (which won’t be an easy task, the narrator reminds us).

And as we saw previously, characters get ‘downed’ and can crawl around with a chance to be revived as in Apex Legends, except Battlefield V allows you to shoot a pistol while you’re prone on the floor, to give you at least some kind of defense as you slowly bleed out.

Also noteworthy is the sheer size of the single map, which is no less than 10 times the size of the largest map in Battlefield V (Hamada), giving players a massive sandbox to scrap in.

Firestorm goes live for Battlefield V addicts on March 25, so the start of next week, and it’ll definitely be interesting to see what reception it gets, particularly in the light of EA’s recent success with Apex Legends.

We're also looking forward to seeing whether the hype machine of Apex Legends, which seems unstoppable given the sheer amount of players that have initially been drawn to Respawn’s free-to-play squad-based battle royale outing, will interfere with just how raging a success Firestorm will be.

Categories: Tech News

Pointing to the future: the next step in fraud prevention

10 hours 35 min ago

It’s widely known that ecommerce is booming. But what doesn’t make the headlines is the mounting impact this growth in online shopping has on merchants. The number of card-not-present (CNP) payments is putting both merchants and issuers under increased pressure to quickly resolve payment issues, queries and concerns – should they arise.

Considering that five million UK consumers had funds stolen from their bank or credit card account in 2017 – at an average cost of £840 each according to comparison site ComparetheMarket – it is vital that issuers are able to resolve payment disputes quickly and efficiently to maintain cardholder loyalty and brand reputation.  

As a result of both rising CNP fraud and the introduction of industry regulations such as PSD2, we are seeing more and more merchants turning to payment authentication to help maximise security around transactions and minimise potential issues.  

With so many payment methods now available – from apps to voice – authenticating payments and stopping fraudsters is becoming more of a challenge. One of the greatest cost areas to merchants is chargebacks, mounting to a $31 billion problem for the payments industry, according to a recent study by Javelin Strategy & Research and commissioned by Verifi.  

Chargebacks explained

If you have experienced a fraudulent transaction on your debit or credit card account, it is likely that the bank used the chargeback process as a means to recover the funds. Chargebacks are essentially the reversal of an outbound transfer of funds from a consumer’s debit or credit card.  

Usually, a chargeback is initiated when a consumer calls their card-issuing bank, rather than the merchant, to dispute a transaction. In fact, consumers are increasingly leaving merchants out of the dispute process, initiating a fraud-related chargeback directly with issuing banks up to 76% of the time, according to the Javelin study.

Image Credit: Shutterstock

How can three-factor authentication help?

Chargebacks sometimes occur as a result of (CNP) fraud when a consumer’s card is used to make an e-commerce purchase without their knowledge. When the consumer checks their bank statements, they do not recognise the transaction and call their back to get the problem resolved. Mobile banking apps can help consumers speed up recognition, as they don’t have to wait for paper bank statements at the end of each month to check through. But the aim is to prevent them happening in the first place. This is where authentication of payments comes in.   

Authentication is key to successful CNP commerce and preventing potentially fraudulent activity – helping the consumer, issuer, and merchant better assess legitimate transactions.  

Under the new Payment Services Directive (PSD2), Strong Customer Authentication (SCA) will be mandated on certain consumer transactions. One type of SCA is two-factor authentication. For this, the customer is required to enter two pieces of information from the following:

  • Something you know (for example a password)
  • Something you have (for example a smart card reader)
  • Something you are (for example a fingerprint or other biometric method) 

Biometrics is one method of authentication quickly making its way into CNP payments, especially since mobile commerce is gaining momentum. Biometrics refers to authentication such as voice, finger prints, face, or even iris recognition.

Three-factor authentication is already becoming an everyday occurrence, as consumers casually unlock mobile phones and make payments merely with the touch of a thumb. The particular advantage in using biometrics is that they are difficult to counterfeit, as they are unique to the consumer and easily accessible to them. While not entirely un-hackable, when they are used as part of an authentication step, they can provide a very effective additional security layer.   

While use and storage of biometric information might cause some concerns about privacy amongst consumers, technologists are seeking alternate data storing methods to bolster consumer trust in heightened payment security. This includes only storing the information on the consumer’s payment card. While the “Big Brother is watching” sentiment might persist, the future benefits of carrying a chip in your body to streamline payments could well outweigh any concerns! In the meantime, however, the positive impact biometric authentication has on banking – helping to reduce fraud disputes and chargebacks – will entice increased adoption.

The mass adoption of biometrics such as iris recognition as a security tool may still be off in the distance. Nonetheless, CNP merchants should consider implementing mainstream biometrics authentication, such as thumbprint recognition as a tool that is part of a comprehensive risk and fraud management strategy, especially with the proliferation of online and mobile banking apps. Staying on top of all the available technology and tools to be used in a layered approach will allow merchants to keep up with the fraudsters and guard against new threats, without damaging the customer experience. 

Neil Smith, Regional Head, Issuers EMEA at Verifi

  • We've also highlighted the best antivirus to help protect your business from the latest cyber threats
Categories: Tech News

This Google Pixel 3 deal is absolutely unbeatable for price - just £24/pm

10 hours 39 min ago

Since the release of the Google Pixel 3 last November, we've seen a number of new phones come out. And yet nothing has even come close to matching it in terms of camera quality. With that in mind, if your heart's calling out for the best camera phone in the world, Mobiles.co.uk has just swooped in to save the day by dropping an unbelievably good Google Pixel 3 deal you may not be able to say no to. 

When we say 'unbelievably good' trust us when we say we're only being slightly hyperbolic. With monthly bills of just £24 and an upfront £40 cost (after you apply our code 10OFF), this deal slots very comfortably into the position of best Google Pixel 3 deal on the market right now. 

So if you're ready to save big and become an expert selfie taker over night, scroll down to see this deal in full. Or if the Pixel 3 doesn't quite fufill what you need in a handset, check out our best mobile phone deals page. 

This super cheap Google Pixel 3 deal in full:
Categories: Tech News

Huawei Mate X could be the first 5G phone to launch in India this year

12 hours 21 min ago

Huawei will launch its foldable Mate X in India this year, the company announced recently. It could be one of the first few 5G phones to be made available, even though the 5G network is yet to be rolled out in the country. This would definitely make it future-proof but we still don’t have an official timeline for the launch other than a rumored mid-2019 availability.

The Mate X was unveiled at Mobile World Congress (MWC) 2019 in Barcelona, earlier this year. Unlike Samsung, Huawei is letting people hold their foldable phone but there’s a catch. At a closed-door hands-on session held in New Delhi recently, journalists were not allowed to fold the Mate X as it was a preliminary build.

Huawei Mate X features a 6.6-inch AMOLED panel which extends to an 8-inch display when unfolded. It measures 5.4mm when unfolded and 11mm when folded. The phone is powered by Kirin 980 chipset which is manufactured on a 7nm architecture process. It has an octa-core CPU and is backed by 8GB of RAM and 512GB of storage. The Mate X runs Android 9.0 Pie under the company’s EMUI 9.1 skin. 

Image Credit: TechRadar

There are three rear cameras on the back which consist of a primary 40MP wide-angle camera with an aperture of f/1.8, 16MP, 17mm ultra-wide camera and an 8MP telephoto lens. In addition, there’s a Time of Flight sensor on the back as well which will assist in depth-sensing. Like the phones in Mate series, this one also has its cameras optimized by Leica. 

A fingerprint sensor is embedded into the power button on the side and the Mate X is powered by a 4,500mAh battery. It supports 55W fast charging and Huawei’s proprietary SuperCharge which enables 85% charge in 30 minutes.

The phone will launch at a price of 2,299 Euros, which roughly translates to around 1,79,900 INR. Due to the steep pricing of the Mate X, we’re not sure if it will attract many buyers in a price-volatile market like India. Samsung has also confirmed that it will be bringing its Galaxy Fold to the Indian market in 2019 but without 5G support.

Categories: Tech News

Best phones in Australia 2019: top 10 smartphones tested and ranked

13 hours 57 min ago

UPDATE: Samsung's astonishing Galaxy S10 Plus has taken the top spot in our list of the best phones of 2019 – read on below to find out why we love it!

2018 was a stellar year for smartphones, and while 2019 is set to be even better, there's no denying that last year's phones are still top notch (literally, in some cases). 

Last year's launches of the iPhone XS and the  Samsung Galaxy Note 9 have made the humble smartphone faster, more powerful and even more versatile than ever before.

Here at TechRadar, we check out almost every phone under the sun, putting the ones that matter through our vigorous testing process to create our in-depth mobile phone reviews.

However, with so many to choose from, we've spent hours whittling them down to a top ten, taking into account power, specs, design and value for money. And we'll always point you in the direction of the latest handsets – after all, nobody wants to be carting around a phone that doesn't get any updates in a year's time, right?

So whether it's one of the many slick Android handsets, the latest iPhone or one from a range of other cool manufacturers, we've extensively tested them all so you don't have to!

Here are our rankings for the best smartphones that are currently available in Australia in 2019.

Now in its tenth generation, Samsung’s Galaxy S range has just about reached the pinnacle of traditional smartphone design with the Galaxy S10 Plus. Boasting the world’s best display, advanced ultrasonic security, reverse wireless charging, exceptional performance and its most impressive camera setup to date, it’s difficult to see where non-folding smartphones can go from here. Combined with Samsung’s new Android 9 Pie-based One UI, the S10 Plus really feels like the ultimate Galaxy phone – it’s no wonder the South Korean electronics giant is ready to embrace a foldable future.

Screen: Regardless of where you stand on the notch vs pinhole debate, you’re likely to be floored by the S10 Plus’ almost completely bezel-free display when you see it in person for the first time. 

With its 93.1% screen-to-body ratio, the S10 Plus’ pill-shaped pinhole camera is far less obtrusive than you might assume from simply seeing renders of the device – with One UI’s dark mode switched on, the pinhole practically disappears during a large portion of the phone’s daily usage. 

As we’ve come to expect from each new Galaxy phone, the S10 Plus’ QHD+ Super AMOLED screen is brighter and more vibrant than ever before (it’s the first Samsung phone to support HDR10+), though its biggest update comes in the form of an in-display ultrasonic fingerprint sensor, which uses sound waves to create a 3D scan of your prints for more accurate and secure unlocks.

Design: In terms of build quality, the Galaxy S10 Plus is still sandwiched between two gorgeous pieces of Gorilla Glass, although the device’s frame has seen an upgrade from aluminium to stainless steel, making this year’s model altogether more sturdy. 

The 3.5mm headphone jack and microSD card slot each make a very welcome return this year, though the S10 Plus’s design isn’t without its flaws – Samsung’s still sticking with its dedicated Bixby button this year, and for some reason, the power button’s placement is now awkwardly high on the device’s right edge, making it difficult to reach unless held a specific way.

Performance: A significant step up from the 3,500mAh battery featured in last year’s S9 Plus, the S10 Plus’ whopping 4,100mAh battery takes the crown previously held by the Note 9, making it the largest Samsung has ever placed in a phone. Even at 80% brightness and with the display’s resolution set to QHD+, we’ve always managed to get a full day’s use out of the device with some battery to spare.

The Exynos 9820 chipset and 8GB of RAM featured in the base model S10 Plus offers snappy app-switching, effortless multi-tasking and excellent gaming performance, producing buttery smooth gameplay in Fortnite at 60FPS while on the ‘epic’ graphics setting. Of course, Galaxy S10 Plus models with up to 12GB of RAM are also available.

Camera: Samsung pulled out all the stops for its latest flagship’s cameras this year, sporting a triple lens setup on the device’s rear – that’s a 12MP regular lens, a 12MP optically-zoomed telephoto lens, and an eye-opening 16MP ultra-wide lens which is said to have a field of view that’s similar to the human eye.

On the front of the device, the S10 Plus features a dual lens camera setup, with a 10MP primary camera and an 8MP depth sensor, allowing users to take bokeh self-portraits and photos with other effects. All of this is once again backed by Samsung’s AI-based scene optimiser, which is able to recognise objects and automatically adjust the camera’s settings, as well as show shot suggestions to improve your photos.

Mini verdict: Without a doubt, Samsung’s Galaxy S10 Plus is the best phone of 2019 so far, impressing with its breathtaking display, refreshed user interface, excellent battery life, terrific performance and carefully considered design choices. Simply put, the Galaxy S10 Plus is the phone to beat this year.

Read the full review: Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus
See the best Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus telco plans
See the best Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus outright deals

On paper, the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 doesn't seem all that different to its predecessor, the Note 8. Look beneath the surface, however, and you'll find a smartphone that has addressed almost every issue that last year's model had (although the Bixby button is unfortunately still here, just waiting to be pressed accidentally) to become one of the best handsets that money can buy right now. 

Screen & Design: Premium in every sense of the word, the Galaxy Note 9's design screams sophistication, even when it's being cheeky (the Ocean Blue colour variant's striking yellow S Pen can attest to that). 

While there was little room for improvement over the Note 8 and Galaxy S9 Plus in the screen department, Samsung has managed to top itself once again by producing a record breaking display for the Note 9 that's already been named the best of its kind. Its Super AMOLED QHD+ display is exceptionally bright and vibrant, with inky blacks and beautiful curved edges.

Most of all, we love that Samsung's listened to its customers and has continued to resist current (and arguably misguided) smartphone trends, such as notch cutouts and the abandoning of headphone jacks and microSD slots – we'd much rather it keeps striving to perfect the things that made it the top smartphone brand in the world in the first place. 

Performance: Thanks to its large 4,000mAh battery – the largest Samsung has ever placed in a phone – the Note 9 has addressed one of its predecessor's biggest drawbacks, as despite being one of the biggest phones on the market, the Note 8's battery was only 3,300mAh. Given the brightness of its display and the power of its internals, the Galaxy Note 9's longer battery life is more than welcome.

Speaking of its internals, the Note 9 is an absolute powerhouse, with its Exynos 9810 chipset and 6GB of RAM offering snappy performance at all times. The 512GB model is backed by an additional 2GB of RAM (8GB in total), which should allow for even better performance in DeX mode (which no longer requires an additional dock) and  for Fortnite to run especially smoothly on the device. 

Camera: While the Note 9's camera is almost identical to that of the Galaxy S9 Plus, that's no bad thing — users can record super slow motion video (up to 960fps at 720p resolution) and the same variable aperture functionality is available, allowing for the phone's iris to automatically adjust itself depending on how much light you have access to.

One thing has changed though: thanks to the S Pen's Bluetooth functionality, you can now use the stylus as a long-range self-timer, allowing you to take selfies while standing several metres away from the phone. 

Mini verdict: Though one could argue that most of the Samsung Galaxy Note 9's improvements are relatively minor, each one has been made in an effort to provide the best possible experience for users. 

Add them all up and what you get is a smartphone with an amazing screen, which also offers immense storage and the excellent performance. The fact it also doubles as a super portable PC when connected to a monitor or television is also a huge potential bonus. In short, the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 is the kind of smartphone that all others should be striving to match.

Read the full review: Samsung Galaxy Note 9
See the best Samsung Galaxy Note 9 telco plans
See the best Samsung Galaxy Note 9 outright deals

So how do you follow-up one of the best flagship phones ever made? By making an even better one, that's how! With its new Galaxy S9 and S9 Plus, Samsung has addressed pretty much every issue levelled at the S8 range, from the awkward fingerprint sensor placement to the underwhelming built-in speakers. 

Screen & Design: Until the Galaxy Note 9, the Galaxy S9 Plus boasted the greatest phone display ever produced — quite a feat when you consider the strength of the competition. Its QHD+ 18:9.5 AMOLED display is sublime to look at, with its incredible brightness and rich colours offset by deep, inky blacks that never cease to amaze.

In terms of its design, you'd be forgiven for thinking the S9 Plus looks almost identical to its predecessor from the front, with the only real change coming in the form of a 1.4mm difference in height (that's thanks to the S9 Plus' smaller bottom bezel). The back is where the biggest changes have occurred, with a new vertical camera and fingerprint sensor layout that instantly feels more natural than last year's model. 

At the base of the phone, you'll find that Samsung has kept the 3.5mm headphone jack around for at least another year, and it's now accompanied by stereo speakers for more immersive sound — much better than last year's mono offering. 

Performance: Boasting Samsung's most advanced in-house chipset to date, the Exynos 9810, as well as 6GB of RAM, the Galaxy S9 Plus is a beast when it comes to grunt. Snappy and responsive, the S9 Plus never caves under pressure, boasting some of the strongest benchmark scores of any handset released in 2018. Admittedly, this can cause its commendable but not incredible 3,500mAh battery to drain a little quicker than normal, though you'll still get a full days usage out of it. 

Audio performance is another area where the S9 Plus has taken a big leap over its predecessor. Having listened to music through the S9 Plus' new speaker mouth (so long, speaker grill) we can confirm that a drastic improvement in sound quality has taken place. Audio is much fuller than before, exhibiting some added depth and bass. Sure, it won't inspire you to throw away your Bluetooth speaker, but the difference in audio quality is significant — especially when you take into account the inclusion of Dolby Atmos support.

Camera: But the Galaxy S9 Plus' biggest selling point is undoubtedly its revamped dual camera setup (something not found on the standard S9), which is now capable of taking super slow motion video (up to 960fps at 720p resolution) and has variable aperture capabilities, which allows the phone to automatically switch between f/1.5 (for very low-light photography) and f/2.4 (super bright and vibrant photography). You can even seen the camera's tiny shutter opening and closing depending on available light. 

While Apple may have beaten it to the punch with its AR-enabled Animoji, Samsung has come up with its own equivalent AR Emoji mode, which lets you create a digital avatar (and a set of shareable GIFs) of yourself. It's a good bit of fun, but if you're not the selfie type, your mileage on this feature may vary. 

Mini verdict: There are a number of other factors that put the Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus ahead of the competition, from its incredible QHD+ 18:9.5 AMOLED display, to its powerful new Exynos 9810 chipset. However, it's the way that Samsung has truly listened to its customers and created a phone specifically for them that makes the Galaxy S9 Plus our current pick for best smartphone.

Read the full review: Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus
See the best Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus telco plans
See the best Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus outright deals

The iPhone XS Max is Apple's new big iPhone with an expansive 6.5-inch display that can't be missed if you're looking for the best phone running iOS 12. It's fast, has a brilliant all-screen display, and gives you great photos out of its noticeably upgraded 12MP dual-lens rear camera.

Screen & Design: The 6.5-inch OLED screen is the reason to choose the iPhone XS Max over its smaller 5.8-inch iPhone XS counterpart. Admittedly, the phone is still roughly the size of an iPhone Plus, but thanks to the all-screen display (minus the notch cut out at the top), you get a lot more real-estate. Compared to the LCD displays on older iPhones, there's a noticeable step up in black levels and colour richness.

Elsewhere, the iPhone XS Max is practically identical to last year's iPhone X, only bigger. While we would've loved to see the notch cutout's size reduced on this year's models, it's hard to argue with what Apple has achieved here. 

Camera: This is the best iPhone camera ever made, even if the 12MP dual-lens rear camera number hasn't changed in several years. It's all about the software inside and how the A12 chipset interprets scenes with Smart HDR. 

It's up there with the Google Pixel 2 and Samsung Galaxy Note 9, even if Apple's photos tend to be less vivid in our tests and more true-to-life.

Performance: You'll get the best battery life out of the iPhone XS Max simply because it has room for a bigger battery. The 3,174mAh capacity is by no means the biggest (Samsung's Note 9 is 4,000mAh), but Apple's ownership of both software and hardware means it's smartly optimized. You'll get all-day battery life even with heavy use. 

The aforementioned A12 chipset also makes a huge difference when it comes to performance, as the iPhone XS Max is easily the fastest handset that Apple has released to date.

Mini verdict: This is the iPhone for anyone who wants what's new and doesn't care what it costs. The iPhone XS Max is expensive, but it's the best upgrade if you're into big screens and Apple's ecosystem, like the App Store and iMessages. The iPhone XS is a good choice if you have smaller hands, and the iPhone XR may be better if you have a smaller wallet.

Read the full review: iPhone XS Max
See the best iPhone XS Max telco plans
See the best iPhone XS Max outright deals

The Huawei Mate 20 Pro is the supercharged version of the 'standard' Huawei Mate 20, and while its specs are similar to its less expensive counterpart, with both handsets boasting Huawei's latest Kirin 980 7nm processor, 128GB of onboard storage and 6GB of RAM, the Huawei Mate 20 Pro is able to justify its higher cost with several impressive additional high-end inclusions.

Sporting a number of futuristic features (including one world-first) and a more premium price point than we're used to seeing from the Chinese manufacturer, the Mate 20 Pro is clearly Huawei's play for the 'best smartphone in the world' crown – and for once, the company is very much within reach, offering a handset we think belongs in the same league as the iPhone XS Max and Samsung Galaxy Note 9.

Screen & Design: With its curved glass display and coloured aluminium frame, it's very easy to mistake the Huawei Mate 20 Pro for a Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus at first glance. Look closer, and you'll start to notice Huawei's signature styling and other, more subtle differences. 

Yes, it's got a notch, but it's for the inclusion of a second sensor to allow for 3D facial recognition functionality, which is said to provide more security than the standard Mate 20's image-based facial unlock.

Although our tests have shown the Mate 20 Pro's 3D face unlock to be exceptionally fast (way speedier than Apple and Samsung's equivalent implementations), the Pro also offers an in-display fingerprint scanner that you can use instead. 

Camera: Of course, being a Huawei phone, it's photographic capability is also off the charts. Once again sporting Leica branding, the Mate 20 Pro has ditched the monochrome sensor this year, instead opting for a primary 40MP sensor that handles both RGB and monochrome modes.

With this ultra-wide sensor and Huawei’s 3X fixed and 5X hybrid zoom, you can not only close in on any subject (macro photography allows for photos from just 2.5cm away), but also pull out to get a much wider view, making the Mate 20 Pro the most versatile camera we’ve yet seen on a flagship smartphone.

Performance: While Google's Pixel 3 handsets have only just received wireless charging functionality, Huawei has taken things a step further with the inclusion of reverse wireless charging – and yes, you read that correctly. Compatible with any phone that boasts Qi functionality, the Huawei Mate 20 Pro is actually able to wirelessly charge another device when you place the two back-to-back. 

Easily the most advanced phone that Huawei has produced to date, the Mate 20 Pro is premium in every sense of the word. Throw in a massive 4,200mAh battery, and what you have is a handset that's very hard to resist.

Read the full review: Huawei Mate 20 Pro
See the best Huawei Mate 20 Pro telco plans
See the best Huawei Mate 20 Pro outright deals 

The Samsung Galaxy S9 isn't quite the phone that the S9 Plus is - it's only got a single camera sensor, for one - but it's a more palm-friendly model that still packs the power and top screen quality of its sibling.

Screen: A QHD 5.8-inch screen takes up most of the front of the phone - and it's still a stunning design. Brighter, more colourful and capable of showing the best of movies, the Super AMOLED tech is once again showing itself to be best thing to look at on a smartphone.

Battery life: Battery life is a little disappointing for a top-end smartphone, meaning you'll need to think about a top-up during the day if you're a harder user. Wireless and fast charging capabilities help with this though.

Camera: It's only a single sensor on the rear of the Galaxy S9, unlike the Galaxy S9 Plus - meaning it's not as good at photography. But don't think the S9 takes poor photos, as they're still stunning, and in low light it's a sterling performer, with very little noise.

Mini verdict: The Galaxy S9 is a smartphone with all the top-end features you'd want, and more on top. It's not quite at the level of the S9 Plus, and the iPhone X outranks it in a few ways - but once again the price of this phone is starting to get a little more competitive, making it more of a lure than at launch.

Read the full review: Samsung Galaxy S9
See the best Samsung Galaxy S9 telco plans
See the best Samsung Galaxy S9 outright deals

The Google Pixel 3 is the smaller sibling to the Pixel 3 XL, with a smaller screen and battery, but the same power and excellent camera under the hood.

This is a great handset for those looking for a top-flight phone that can be used comfortably with one hand (although those with smaller palms may need both still).

Screen & Design: At 5.5 inches, the screen on the Google Pixel 3 isn't exactly small, but it's one of the smallest in this list of the best smartphones. The full HD resolution isn't quite as sharp as its larger sibling's QHD panel, but it still looks great.

Thankfully, Google has reduced the size of the Pixel's bezel this year, as last year's model looked pretty dated compared to the competition. While the 3 XL sports a notch cutout in its display, Google has wisely opted to keep its full bezels on the regular Pixel 3, making it look classier in the process. 

Camera: You get the same camera here as you do on the Pixel 3 XL, and that's great news as it's one of the best smartphone snappers we've ever tested. It's easy to use, extremely powerful and produces excellent shots – even compared to cameras with multiple lenses.

Performance: The Google Pixel 3 battery life isn't as impressive as the larger Pixel 3 XL which has a bigger power pack. It should give you a day of use, but don't expect much more than that.

Elsewhere, the Pixel 3's stock Android OS offers smooth, snappy performance with nothing to bog it down.

Mini verdict: If you're looking for a compact flagship smartphone with a class-leading camera experience the Google Pixel 3 is the best phone for the job.

Read the full review: Google Pixel 3
See the best Google Pixel 3 telco plans
See the best Google Pixel 3 outright deals

iPhone XS is a minor, but important upgrade over last year's completely redesigned iPhone. It's noticeably faster and has an improved dual-lens camera to make it a better choice, if you're willing to pay the same launch price. 

Screen & Design: The 5.8-inch OLED on this iPhone is big, but not a turn off for some people who literally can't handle the 6.5-inch iPhone XS Max (which we like a bit more in our big mitts). This phone size isn't too much bigger than your old 4.7-inch iPhone 7 or iPhone 6 thanks to its reduced bezel – though you'll miss the Touch ID home button. You'll forget about that when staring into the beautiful OLED that's dreamier than the old iPhone LCD.

In terms of its design, the iPhone XS is practically identical to last year's model, colour options aside. However, if you're after a more one-hand-friendly size for a cutting-edge iPhone, this is the one to buy. Alternatively, you could opt for the cheaper iPhone XR, which has a slightly larger LCD display, an aluminium rim (instead of the stainless steel one on the XS) and a series of funky colours to choose from.

Camera: This is where you'll see differences in the otherwise familiar-looking iPhone XS. Its dual-lens camera offers Smart HDR and optical image stabilisation (OIS). It's not as vivid as the cameras on a Google Pixel 2 or Samsung Galaxy S9, but you'll get true-to-life photos that make the 2018 iPhone's a worthy upgrade.

Performance: The iPhone XS has about the same battery life as the iPhone X, so you'll get all-day battery life with normal use. Power users may struggle a bit without one of the best power banks, and although Apple says it has 30 minutes more battery life than the iPhone X, the smaller capacity and our tests show it's shy of that claim.

Mini verdict: Although still expensive, the iPhone XS is our best phone for someone who wants to use iOS 12 and doesn't want to spend even more money on the bigger iPhone XS Max. 

Read the full review: iPhone XS
See the best iPhone XS telco plans
See the best iPhone XS outright deals

While LG may have left behind any notion of being a game-changing phone maker in recent years, the company’s become quite reliable at producing exceptional all-rounder handsets that are good at pretty much everything. 

Screen & Design: With the new LG G7 ThinQ, the South Korean manufacturer has delivered a phone with sophisticated AI smarts, a fantastic dual lens camera, a stylish design, a super bright QHD+ 18.9:5 display (complete with iPhone X-style notch that can, thankfully, be hidden), terrific audio performance and top-end specs. 

That said, unlike most other notch-bearing handsets, the G7 ThinQ sports an LCD display, meaning it's unable to reach the pure-blacks of an OLED, something that becomes apparent when you first try to hide the notch with a fake bezel and immediately notice the backlighting behind them. Still that does allow the G7 ThinQ to get extremely bright, which means you can always see the screen perfectly, no matter how sunny it happens to be. 

Performance: Admittedly, it's not quite as strong as some of the other handsets on this list in terms of performance, and its battery life left us wanting — we got around 6 and a half hours of heavy usage, which is around an hour or two less than most flagship phones available right now.

LG wants its awkwardly-branded ‘ThinQ AI’ functionality to be the big drawcard here, but having spent some time with the phone, it’s clear that it’s perhaps better suited to music lovers and audiophiles. Thanks to its built-in hi-fi quad DAC and DTS:X 3D Surround functionality (both of which require headphones to be plugged into its 3.5mm socket), the LG G7 ThinQ delivers an unrivalled audio experience in the smartphone arena. 

Switching on the quad DAC instantly makes audio richer and deeper, providing additional bass in the process, while the latter DTS feature also impresses by offering virtual three-dimensional surround sound regardless of the headphones you’re wearing. It also packs an especially loud built-in speaker, for occasions when you want to listen to something without cans. 

Camera: LG is bound to win fans with its terrific AI-powered camera this year, offering similar functionality to the Huawei P20 Pro — simply point at a subject and the LG G7 ThinQ will automatically identify it, adjusting its settings to make sure your picture looks as good as can be. And, thanks to its dual camera setup, the G7 ThinQ can also take those blurry background portrait shots that have become all the rage.

Its Super Bright Camera mode also makes it especially adept at low light photography, and just like the G5 and G6 before it, the G7 ThinQ can take super wide angle photos that fit more into the frame. 

Mini verdict: Minor quibbles aside, there's plenty to love about the LG G7 ThinQ. We think it's the best phone the South Korean company has released in years.

Read the full review: LG G7 ThinQ
See the best LG G7 ThinQ outright deals

The iPhone 8 Plus is a great phone — there’s no doubt about that. It’s a better phone than almost anything Apple has produced before, and it’s, well, just done in a very Apple way. If you aren't willing to pay the extra premium Apple's pricey iPhone X, then this might be the iPhone for you. 

Screen & Design: There are some strong upgrades: a glass back means you can now charge your iPhone wirelessly, its IPS LCD screen, while dated, still looks terrific, its camera has been enhanced, the internal workings are now among the most powerful in the industry, and little tweaks throughout smooth off rough edges in a way that makes us feel Sir Jony Ive climbed inside his computer and lathed them off himself. 

Whether that’s a subtle haptic double buzz when pressing the shutter on the camera, or being able to ‘feel’ the numbers clicking when selecting the time on the alarm, it’s those little delights that… delight. It's just a shame that the rest of the phone's design feels a little dated.

Performance: Just like the iPhone X, the iPhone 8 Plus means business when it comes to performance. Backed by long, impressive battery life, the A11 chip allows you to smoothly transition between open apps and play games with nary a hiccup, and AR performance is also boosted by its power.

Portrait Lighting effects may be one of the phone's best photographic features, but they need some real power to function, and that’s where the A11 chip comes in. Any app that uses high levels of photo manipulation worked pretty flawlessly in our tests, with no lag when working with multiple image layers.

It’s hard to convey the usefulness of all this power for the average user, one who might not use such features regularly – but it’ll keep your iPhone singing more sweetly for the next two or three years compared to the previous generations.

Camera: The camera on this phone is very strong, with two 12MP lenses on the rear combining to deliver great images even in low light, and the double sensors creating some nice, refined blurred-background portrait shots.

Mini verdict: The iPhone 8 Plus is a phone for the Apple fan who wants the longest battery life possible, and the most screen to look at, without having to pay the premium the iPhone X costs.

Read the full review: Apple iPhone 8 Plus
See the best iPhone 8 Plus telco plans
See the best iPhone 8 Plus outright deals

Though the Nokia 8 handset from HMD Global was well received and reviewed at release, it was perhaps lacking in the flair and personality we've come to expect from flagship phones in 2018. 

To remedy this, the Finnish phone manufacturer went back to the drawing board, eventually producing the Nokia 8 Sirocco — a stylish handset that retained its predecessor's powerhouse internals (with a few improvements) and applied a drastically updated design that's sure to turn a few heads. 

Screen & Design: The first thing you'll notice about the Nokia 8 Sirocco is that it's one of the few Android handsets on the market to emulate the curved metal and glass form factor of Samsung's Galaxy and Note ranges. In fact, it feels quite sharp and thin in the hand, somewhat reminding us of the Galaxy S7 Edge

However, the comparisons basically end there, as the Sirocco employs many of the design choices we've come to expect from more modern phones, including slim bezels, a beautiful QHD OLED display, a rear fingerprint sensor, USB Type-C charging and data transfer and the complete lack of a 3.5mm headphone jack (okay, that one we could've held onto). 

Performance: The inclusion of a whopping 128GB of internal storage is also welcome, though you won't find a microSD card slot here. What you will find, however, is a Snapdragon 835 chipset, a 3,260mAh battery and 6GB of RAM.

Fans of the 'Pure Android' experience will also be pleased to know that the Nokia 8 Sirocco belongs to the Android One series of smartphones, all of which run an unmodified version of whichever Android version it shipped with (in the Sirocco's case, that's Android 8.0, though it's now been updated to Android 9.0). 

Camera: The Nokia brand has always been synonymous with its camera functionality, and in that regard, the Sirocco does not disappoint. It's got a Zeiss Optics dual camera setup (12MP + 13MP) that's capable of some impressive snaps. 

Mini verdict: For now, the Nokia 8 Sirocco is the best handset that HMD Global has released yet. If you're keen on owning a phone with the Nokia branding on it, this is the one to get.

Read the hands on review: Nokia 8 Sirocco
Get the Nokia 8 Sirocco outright from JB Hi-Fi

The Galaxy S8 Plus might be a year old, but it's still impressive and the cost is lowering nicely these days.

You can get incredible photos in many conditions, the screen is pin-sharp and it's just boosted a couple of places in this list thanks to a nifty price drop this week.

Screen & Design: The 6.2-inch screen, actually called an Infinity Display by Samsung, spills to the edge of the phone, and is a well-made fusion of glass and metal. It feels great in the hand, thanks to a rolling design - and like the other Galaxies in this list, is water-resistant too, to an IP67 level.

Performance: The battery life is superior on the Galaxy S8 Plus compared to the Galaxy S8 (obviously) and also the Galaxy S9 (more surprising), thanks to having a larger power pack in there without much more work to do - it’ll easily last most people a day or so.

Camera: The camera is a top fusion of auto mode and pro settings for those that like to dig a little deeper - the quality of the snaps is more often than not pin-sharp, and the screen quality really highlights your photos. It lacks the dual sensor and low-light capabilities of the S9 Plus, but it's a terribly good performer for those that don't need the highest-of-high-end smarts.

Mini verdict: Don't let the age put you off - this is still an immensely powerful phone with a strong spec list. The screen, camera and design are still premium, and while not as good as the S9 Plus, it's a lot a cheaper thanks to being on sale for longer.

Read more: Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus review

The Samsung Galaxy S8 looked space age when it was launched last year, and the Galaxy S9 apes it in many ways. It's not the top phone in Samsung's range any more, but it's jolly close and it seems that retailers are starting to discount it both SIM free and on contract, which is why it's jumped up our list.

Screen & Design: The screen was the very, very best on the market and is still now a top performer, coming with the elongated, 18.5:9 ratio that stretches impressively up and down the phone - very similar to that on the current Galaxy S9. With powerful colour reproduction and contrast ratio that make everything look clear and crisp, it’s also got the QHD resolution that we expect from all the top phones.

Performance: The battery life, despite being smaller than in previous devices from Samsung, is still pretty decent. It's not amazing, but it's not very far from the performance of the Galaxy S9 and will last around a day... although you might want a little top up, which can be achieved quickly through a wireless charger or the speedy adapter in the box.

Camera: The camera is still very strong, despite being usurped by the S9 - the auto mode offers clean, crisp and clear shots every time and combined with screen quality makes you want to show off your best snaps. There’s an easy-to-use pro mode as well to get the best out of your snapping.

Mini verdict: This is the phone to go for if you want a strong performer and don't mind it's a little older. As such, it's much cheaper than it was at launch and thus offers fantastic value for money.

Read the full review: Samsung Galaxy S8 review

You're at the end of the guide, but that doesn't mean we can't help you still - if you're stuck on which model is for you, we've got a tool that can compare all the phones together and you can decide which one suits you best based on the cost.

If you want to get all the info, then use the tool below or check out our full mobile phone plans page.

Enter price comparison
Categories: Tech News

Announcing the 2019 Australian PC Awards winners

Thu, 03/21/2019 - 22:15

It began with an intensive shortlisting process, creating finalists for the best-of-the-best gear that was released through 2018. Then, we opened up the voting for the Awards to the Australian public – the real experts with the most valued opinions. You had your say, and at the end of the voting period the winners across all the important PC categories rose to the top, and now it’s finally time to reveal the champions.

Last night in Sydney, the big moment came and throughout the night the winners were announced and trophies claimed. And, there was much joy as the hard work and innovation of the winners was rewarded with an Australian PC Award, as voted by you. Every company that was a finalist has every right to feel proud, too. It’s a tough industry with fierce competition that endlessly creates better and better products, so to every company that was represented we say congratulations – whether you took a trophy home or not.

Award highlights included Corsair taking home the highly-coveted Gold Award for Best Company, winning out over many other big-name PC brands and demonstrating just how well-respected the memory, case, PC and peripherals maker is in the Australian PC scene.

And speaking of the local scene, enthusiast-friendly Aussie retailer PC Case Gear managed to take home not one by two awards last night, coming away with the trophies for both the Best Desktop PC Builder and Best Reseller (Online) categories.

 And the winners are... 

Corsair and PC Case Gear weren't the only winners, of course, with the likes of Asus, Razer, Samsung, Synology and Logitech also racking up awards of their own. 

So, without further ado, it’s time to reveal all of last night's winners – simply click on a category from the list below to find out which products and companies shone brightest in 2018. 

And remember: you made this happen. But if your favourite thing that you voted for didn’t get a gong this year that’s OK – because the Australian PC Awards is an annual staple of the PC scene, so this time next year we shall call upon you, the Australian public, to once again vote – because ultimately it’s your opinion that matters most. 

All the winners:
Categories: Tech News

Best SSDs 2019: the top solid-state drives for your PC

Thu, 03/21/2019 - 16:50

We’ve been stuck with buying hard drives whenever we wanted to expand our computer’s storage for too long. And, they haven’t aged well considering their spinning disks and slow transfer speeds. Those days are over, though, and the best SSDs are fast enough to free you from the mechanical shackles of hard drives.

And, you don’t even need to rock one of the best PCs to take advantage of the best SSDs. The best Ultrabooks are practically designed to take advantage of the best SSDs, thanks to their unrivaled durability and speed. You can even slot one of the best SSDs into a PS4 Pro to seriously slash loading times.

When you head out to buy one of the best SSDs, you’ll likely notice that there are a lot of them out there. This is great for anyone on a budget, because there’s a wide spectrum of price points. But, because there are literally hundreds of SSDs out there, it can be hard to find the right one for you. That’s why we curated a list of the best SSDs you can buy today.

Image Credit: Samsung

Samsung isn’t a stranger to creating some amazing SSDs, but when it launched the Samsung 970 Evo Plus with higher speeds and new silicon, even we were surprised. The Samsung 970 Evo Plus is simply one of the fastest drives on the market, but the fact that Samsung is selling it at such a bargain price is just the cherry on top. Because of how affordable this drive is, it’s not hard to recommend it as the best SSD for anyone. 

Read the full review: Samsung 970 Evo Plus

Image Credit: Western Digital

Western Digital has been busy making a name for itself among the best SSDs and hard drives for years now, and the WD Black SN750 finally claims the throne of the best SSD for gaming. This NVMe SSD has insane random read speeds of 412.5MB/s, which should make games load before you get a chance to chug some of that Mountain Dew. And, when you consider how affordable this SSD is, it’s hard not to proclaim it as the best SSD gamers can buy today. 

Read the full review: WD Black SN750 NVMe SSD

 Image Credit: Samsung 

For years, Samsung has been behind some of the best SSDs on the market, and even though other manufacturers like Western Digital and Adata are creeping up on its turf, the Samsung 970 Evo is still the best SSD you can buy if you’re after raw speed. And, while the read speeds haven’t improved over the previous generation’s 960 Pro, the write speeds see a significant bump – up to 2,700MB/s – which is how it retains its ‘fastest SSD’ crown. If you’re after the best SSD, with no compromises, you can’t go wrong with the Samsung 970 Pro. 

Read the full review: Samsung 970 Pro 

Image Credit: Toshiba

If you're looking for plenty of options, the Toshiba OCZ RD400 series of drives come in 4 sizes and three different form factors: M.2, M.2 2280, and add-in card (AIC). Not all sizes are in all form factors, so if you're looking for a fast 1TB drive, make sure you have room in your computer case. 

Image Credit: Adata

If you’ve been waiting to jump on the M.2 train for an SSD that’s both fast and affordable, we have some good news for you. The Adata XPG SX8200 isn’t one of the best SSDs because it’s the fastest drive on the market, but because there isn’t a single drive out there that can match the raw price to performance ratio that the XPG SX8200 offers. Sure you can get any of the much faster, much more expensive SSDs on the market, but this is the drive we can recommend to anyone.to anyone.

Read the full review: Adata XPG SX8200 

 Image Credit: Samsung 

People might not be going crazy about SATA 3 anymore, but the Samsung 860 Pro proves that there’s still plenty of life in the aging interface after all. With storage up to 4TB and transfer speeds that approach the theoretical maximum of the SATA 3 interface and top-of the-line reliability and security – the Samsung 860 Pro is the best SSD for anyone still clinging to SATA 3.

Read the full review: Samsung 860 Pro 

Image Credit: Intel

The U.2 standard allows for bigger SSD capacities and uses your computer's PCIe x4 slot to send all that data back and forth. The Intel 750 series includes a cable so you can mount the drive in the bay on your case and still plug it into the PCIe slot on your motherboard.

 Image Credit: Samsung 

Samsung had a hard act to follow – the Samsung 850 Evo was beloved for its stunning performance and affordability. And, the Samsung 860 Evo absolutely succeeded. Though limited by the SATA3 interface, the Samsung 860 Evo delivers performance that iterates on its predecessor with improved read/write speeds and an array of form factors, while still maintaining its budget price. The 860 Evo is the best SSD for anyone looking for an entry-level SSD without having to break open their piggy banks. 

Read the full review: Samsung 860 Evo 

Image Credit: HP

If you need an SSD that will last through multiple computers, the HP S700 Pro is exactly what you want. Its life will far exceed its warranty, offering up to 2 million hours of use and up to 650 terabytes written. This is one of the best SSDs you can buy if you need something that’ll last, but the SATA interface may slow things down a bit in the read/write department, which technically helps it last even longer. 

  • This product is only available in the US and UK at the time of this writing. Australian readers: check out a fine alternative in the Samsung 860 Evo 

Image Credit: Intel

The best NVMe SSDs used to be way too expensive for most users. But, those days are coming to an end – the Intel 760p Series SSD changes everything. This SSD features awesome performance that’s only slightly behind the beloved Samsung 960 Evo, boasting speeds of 3,056 MB/s read and 1,606 MB/s write. But, what makes the 760p stand out is the fantastic price to performance ratio. Yeah, there are faster NVMe drives on the market, but you’ll be paying a premium that, frankly, isn’t worth it. This is one of the best SSDs out there, not just because it’s fast, but because the Intel 760p makes us excited about the future.

Read the full review: Intel 760p Series SSD

 Image Credit: Samsung 

If you’re a creative or a professional, and you need an external NVMe SSD that’s going to save you time rather than waste it, you might want to give the Samsung X5 Portable SSD a look. Thanks to its use of Thunderbolt 3, rugged magnesium build and AES 256-bit encryption, it’s fast, secure and durable – everything you want in an external SSD. However, this isn’t a cheap accessory, this is one of the best SSDs and it’s priced as such. Everyday users may want to look elsewhere, this is all about sheer speed.

Read the full review: Samsung X5 Portable SSD 

Bill Thomas and Gabe Carey have also contributed to this article

Categories: Tech News

Steam is getting a fresh new look for 2019

Thu, 03/21/2019 - 16:34

One week after announcing Steam Link Anywhere, Valve has announced a set of sweeping updates to its Steam Store. 

These new updates include improved game pages and a revamped game library section that shows your friends’ activity, your recently played games and any new updates to the games in your collection.

Also new is a Steam Events page that will show you about upcoming tournaments, game updates and other in-game events for the games you own. 

Both features will be available later this year and will go into beta in the next few months according to Valve.

Valve announced these changes at its 2019 GDC event on the future of the platform,  re-affirming Steam's position as the world's leading marketplace against up-and-coming shops like the Epic Games Store.

Categories: Tech News

The human voice and AI – an unlikely duet

Thu, 03/21/2019 - 15:25

The world of beatboxing is full of artists using their voices in ways speech scientists have never seen before – finding new techniques for playing the instrument they were born with. But does the human voice have more to offer, and can we use technology to push it further?

That’s the subject of We Speak Music – a series of six short documentaries created by Nokia Bell Labs, film production company Lonelyleap, and award-winning beatboxer Harry Yeff, better known as Reeps One.

It turns out understanding what our voices are capable of is very important for lots of different discussions

Reeps One

The first three episodes are available to watch now on YouTube channel Swiss Beatbox and Nokia Bell Labs’ website, with the next three landing on March 23, March 30, and April 4 respectively.

Throughout the series, Reeps One travels the world, learning about the potential of the human voice for creating sounds and connecting people, and finally using machine learning to create an AI voice – coming full circle and creating an artificial human drum machine. In the final documentary, Second Self, he will perform a duet with his ‘digital twin’ – an AI beatboxer taught using his voice as a dataset.

Old anatomy, new innovations

Beatboxing is a global language, so we asked Reeps One what it is that connects people from so many disparate backgrounds.

“Beatboxing is just another word for vocal experimentation, which is not an intuitive connection,” he says. “But it turns out understanding what our voices are capable of is very important for lots of different discussions.

Image credit: Nokia Bell Labs; Lonelyleap

“From communication to understanding motor control, speech therapy and now voice-controlled technology, it's an open-ended, heated discussion how such an old part of the human anatomy can still hold so many innovations.

“To many peoples’ surprise, it seems like you cannot separate the human voice from every part of human connectivity and in the last few years there has been a boom in new physical capability with the voice and it's a big question, after millions of years why now?”

Shaking the box

The series is part of Nokia Bell Labs’ Experiments in Art and Technology (EAT) program, which has been partnering with artists to create experimental performances for 50 years.

I have a mission to go out into the world and make people think about the human voice in a new way

Reeps One

Although his voice is his instrument, Reeps One is no stranger to pushing its boundaries using experimental technology. As well as creating an AI vocal twin, his projects over the last year have included bouncing his voice off the moon, and created a 1,000,000 particle digital vocal sculpting tool.

“Technology allows us to go further than we ever dreamed,” he says. “It's a way to create new experiences in the arts and allow for old and established ideas to be challenged with a fresh angle, this is my job when it comes to the human voice, to shake the box.”

Image credit: Nokia Bell Labs; Lonelyleap

Hearing the AI for the first time was a huge moment, but he says the human side of the project was equally exciting: “The people I met along the way, going to the Lavelle School for the Blind and seeing how beatboxing is teaching young people to speak and articulate or capturing a global community of new artists, I can't choose really.”

It’s not just a short-term project, either – Reeps One says the experience has changed the way he’ll make music in the future, without a doubt. “I have a mission to go out into the world and make people think about the human voice in a new way, and find the artists and engineers who are helping push the conversation onward.”

Watch the series on YouTube or Nokia Bell Labs' site.

Categories: Tech News

Cyberpunk 2077 will still be released by 2021 - alongside an unannounced title

Thu, 03/21/2019 - 14:14

CD Projekt Red has confirmed it still plans to release two AAA titles by 2021. While we know one of these titles will definitely be dystopian RPG Cyberpunk 2077, we're still in the dark about what the second title could be.

This release window was reaffirmed on the official CD Projekt Red forums, with moderator Donata Popławska confirming the studio is sticking to its original roadmap.

"As far as the strategy of the CD Projekt Capital Group for 2016-2021 is concerned, its plans to release the second AAA game by 2021 remain unchanged," the moderator wrote (translated via Resetera user Antiax). 

However, Popławska did not expand on what the second AAA title to be released in this time frame could be.

"We are currently focusing on the production and promotion of Cyberpunk, so we do not want to comment on further projects," they continued.

What's next for CD Projekt Red?

The developer previously revealed its plan to release two AAA titles by 2021 but often, due to a variety of reasons, plans change. Fortunately, it seems that hasn't been the case with CD Projekt Red which still intends to follow its previously laid-out roadmap.

We are hoping that this second title could be the long-awaited next entry in The Witcher series (fingers crossed). But then again, it's entirely possible that CD Projekt Red is working on another new IP. 

Hopefully E3 2019 will shed more light on the situation, as we know CD Projekt Red will be making an appearance.

(Image credits: CD Projekt Red)

Categories: Tech News

Facebook stored hundreds of millions of user passwords in plain text

Thu, 03/21/2019 - 13:36

A new report from Krebs On Security has revealed that Facebook stored the account passwords of hundreds of millions of users in plain text and they were easily searchable by thousands of its own employees in some cases going back to 2012.

According to a senior employee familiar with the investigation, the social networking giant is currently probing a series of security failures in which employees wrote applications that logged unencrypted password data for Facebook users and stored this information in plain text on internal company servers.

So far, the investigation has discovered that between 200m and 600m Facebook users may have had their account passwords stored on its servers and searchable by over 20,000 employees.

The company is still trying to determine exactly how many passwords were exposed and for how long but archives with plain text user passwords have been discovered that date back to 2012.

Plain text passwords

Access logs at Facebook show that around 2,000 engineers or developers made nine million internal queries for data elements that contained plain text user passwords.

Software engineer at Facebook, Scott Renfro provided further insight into the ongoing investigation to Krebs On Security in an interview, saying:

“We’ve not found any cases so far in our investigations where someone was looking intentionally for passwords, nor have we found signs of misuse of this data. In this situation what we’ve found is these passwords were inadvertently logged but that there was no actual risk that’s come from this. We want to make sure we’re reserving those steps and only force a password change in cases where there’s definitely been signs of abuse.”

Affected users will not have to change their passwords as they were not leaked outside of the company, though Facebook is preparing to notify “hundreds of millions of Facebook Lite users, tens of millions of other Facebook users, and tens of thousands of Instagram users”. 

Via Krebs On Security

Categories: Tech News

Pages