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OnePlus 12R review: Long-lasting, eye-popping
5:00 pm | February 5, 2024

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets OnePlus Phones Phones | Tags: , , , | Comments: Off

OnePlus 12R: Two-minute review

OnePlus is kicking off 2024 with a pair of new phones, its latest flagship OnePlus 12 and the intriguing OnePlus 12R; which marks the first time an R-series device has launched internationally and not just in India.

While we've seen T-series entries on the global stage before, the R more closely delivers on the promises of the company's full-fat flagship phones and this year's 12R is no exception; running on familiar hardware for those who knew last year's OnePlus 11, while also serving up some company and industry firsts all its own.

OnePlus 12R review back straight perspective

(Image credit: Future | Alex Walker-Todd)

At a glance, you'd be forgiven for mistaking the 12R for both the OnePlus 11 and the OnePlus 12, as all three phones sport a familiar aesthetic, with rounded edges and the distinct 'Starlight Dial' circular camera surround that we were first introduced to on 2023's OnePlus flagship.

The iconic physical alert slider may have swapped sides (OnePlus says this improves antenna performance), and the phone may lack wireless charging and full IP68 dust and water resistance, but it's otherwise a beautifully crafted and premium-feeling phone with plenty of power and battery longevity to boot.

If it weren't for the lesser secondary cameras, the 12R amounts to a revamped OnePlus 11, with the same flagship-class Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 found in 2023's finest, up to 16GB of RAM, 256GB of storage, and the biggest battery ever seen in a OnePlus phone, which translates to the best longevity we've ever gotten from a OnePlus phone – battery life that matches the likes of the mighty Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra.

OnePlus has also included its latest OxygenOS 14 user experience out of the box, which comes with a heap of branded technologies; most importantly the 'Trinity Engine': an umbrella term for a number of features that ensure the 12R's performance doesn't degrade over time, focusing on CPU, RAM, and ROM management.

A killer 1.5K LTPO 4.0 AMOLED display fronts the phone, with a more advanced adaptive refresh rate, touch response rate and peak brightness (4,500nits) than even the OnePlus 11.

OnePlus 12R review front angled

(Image credit: Future | Alex Walker-Todd)

If there's one area where the 12R does fall short of its otherwise flagship standing, it's with camera versatility. The main 50MP Sony sensor delivers a similar experience to that of last year's flagship – running on the same sensor and with a fast shutter not to mention a year's worth of refinement from OnePlus. However the 8MP ultra-wide and 2MP macro cameras don't keep step with regards to quality and consistency.

For the price, there's little that matches the 12R directly, however, alternatives like the OnePlus 11, Samsung Galaxy S23 FE and iPhone 14 come close; provided you're willing to trade away the phone's excellent display tech and battery prowess. One of the best OnePlus phones yet? Quite possibly, even without being a fully-fledged flagship in its own right.

OnePlus 12R review: Price and availability

  • Priced from $499.99 / £649
  • Announced January 23, on sale February 13
  • $300 / £200 lower starting price than equivalent storage OnePlus 12

The OnePlus 12R serves as the global variant of the OnePlus Ace 3, which launched in China at the very start of 2024. The 12R made its debut as part of the OnePlus 12's global launch event in India on January 23, with a staggered on-sale date that sees the phone released first in India (on February 6), before arriving in markets including the US, UK and Europe on February 13.

US customers get the choice of two storage configurations, starting at $499.99 with 128GB of space, while UK and European customers only have access to the single higher-capacity 256GB model, which sells for $599.99 in the US and £649 / €699 in those two other markets, respectively.

Pricing means it undercuts other newcomers, like the Samsung Galaxy S24, Google Pixel 8 and baseline iPhone 15 by quite a margin, and in truth, there's little worth considering around the 12R's launch price, save for more expensive but older phones that have had time to drop in price, including the company's own OnePlus 11.

The company's 2024 flagship – the OnePlus 12 – comfortably sits around $300 / £200 more expensive for the same amount of storage, but for the extra cash you're getting a sharper screen, better cameras, longer-term software support, and Qualcomm's latest and greatest flagship silicon in the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3.

Note though that there's no current Australian availability for the OnePlus 12R or the standard OnePlus 12.

  • Value score: 4 / 5

OnePlus 12R review: Specs

OnePlus 12R review: Design

OnePlus 12R review back angled floating

(Image credit: Future | Alex Walker-Todd)
  • Elegant, premium curved glass and metal aesthetics
  • Physical alert slider on left side
  • IP64-certified against dust and water

The OnePlus 12R presents itself as a premium handset, with a level of fit and finish on par with any of the latest top-tier phones out there, not least because it shares in the 'Starlight Dial' design language of this year's and last year's OnePlus flagships.

The Iron Gray model (pictured) has a matte glass back that's superb at repelling fingerprints (and other marks) but has an almost Teflon-like low friction coefficient, meaning it's a little slippery in the hand. The Cool Blue alternative, meanwhile, is the more head-turning option, that's better at catching the light (and fingerprints), if you're in the market for a little more flare. It's worth noting that colorway availability varies by region and storage variant too.

If you're not a fan of the straight-sided iPhones or Galaxy phones (or the rumored design of the forthcoming Pixel 9 series) leading the market, the 12R is the perfect remedy. The front and back glass curve elegantly into the thin metal frame, which makes it a touch trickier to hold by comparison but nicer in the hand and on the eye.

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OnePlus 12R review alert slider

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OnePlus 12R review alert slider UI

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OnePlus 12R review top

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OnePlus 12R review handheld front

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OnePlus 12R review back straight

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OnePlus 12R review camera

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A trait that's slipped in since OnePlus more closely buddied up to sister company Oppo is the adoption of a flat top and bottom to some of its phones' frames, and that's the case with the 12R. A USB-C port, SIM tray and speaker grille reside along the bottom, while microphones and – perhaps most intriguingly of all – an IR blaster can be found on the phone's top edge. This is a novel addition that's seldom seen on phones nowadays, but gives the 12R universal remote functionality which you won't readily find on the competition; great for controlling your TV, aircon, projector, and even some smart lights, all from the one device.

OnePlus' iconic alert slider (oddly absent from previous performance flagships like the OnePlus 10T) is reassuringly present on the 12R, although perhaps not as 'correct' as long-time OnePlus users might expect, as across both entries in the series, this knurled three-stage switch is now found on the opposing side to where it usually sits (the right side). OnePlus claims this helps with antenna performance – especially when gaming in landscape – and in practice, the learning curve of adjusting to a swapped alert slider and volume rocker is negligible.

While the 12R is notably thinner (and a touch lighter) than the standard OnePlus 12, that's partly down to the lack of wireless charging, while that finely-crafted bodywork also falls short of the industry-standard dust and water resistance, with only IP64 certification (most flagships boast IP68 protection against water ingress).

  • Design score: 3.5 / 5

OnePlus 12R review: Display

OnePlus 12R review front angled straight on

(Image credit: Future | Alex Walker-Todd)
  • 6.78-inch 1.5K 19.8:9 120Hz LTPO 4.0 ProXDR AMOLED display
  • Outstanding peak brightness up to 4,500nits
  • Aqua Touch for accurate use in the wet

Look past the marketing spiel (which there's a lot of) and the 12R's display is spec'd as one of the market's best right now. Beyond the fundamentals as a 6.78-inch 1.5K AMOLED panel protected by Gorilla Glass Victus 2, the ProXDR screen on the 12R boasts the same peak brightness as the OnePlus 12, at a whopping 4,500nits (with an HBM or high brightness mode peak of 1,600nits).

For comparison, the iPhone 15 series tops out at 2,000nits, while the S24 series reaches 2,600nits. Although that peak isn't an increment you'll likely hit in day to day use, the additional headroom over screens of the most prominent players in the industry means everything from outdoor legibility to HDR content consumption (it's also Dolby Vision, HDR Vivid and HDR10+ compliant for good measure) is comparatively better. Speaking of HDR content, being able to view HDR imagery shot on device, natively in both the OnePlus Photos app and the Google Photos app – similarly to the likes of the latest Pixel 8 Pro – is a nice flex.

The LTPO 4.0 tech at work also means improved power efficiency (relative to LTPO 3.0, as on the OnePlus 11), as this new panel is able to switch between more frequency increments through its 1Hz to 120Hz range, depending on the situation (lower frequencies equal less power drain, higher frequencies offer more fluid visuals).

As for gamers, an impressive 1,000Hz touch response rate (branded 'HyperTouch') is on-hand to ensure accurate touch input at any pace (that's faster than any of the best gaming phones currently out there), while 'HyperRender' is responsible for backlight calibration when gaming; accounting for the environment you're playing in and optimizing contrast and brightness dynamically.

There's also the presence of Aqua Touch: an algorithm that helps the 12R discern between water droplets and true touch inputs on a wet display; making use in rain or similarly wet conditions far more reliable than you'd experience with a conventional touchscreen and in practice, it's a huge win for convenience, especially if, like me, you're a Londoner all too familiar with the Great British weather's habits.

Throw in 2160Hz PWM (Pulse Width Modulation) dimming for reduced eye strain in low light (backed by independent certification from TÜV Rheinland), and an overall A+ rating from DisplayMate, and OnePlus has receipts to back up its claims surrounding the 12R's screen tech.

Sure, these aren't all headline features worth buying the phone for explicitly but they're 'nice to haves' that elevate the 12R's viewing experience beyond both expectation and more prominent competitors.

  • Display score: 5 / 5

OnePlus 12R review: Software

OnePlus 12R review apps drawer

(Image credit: Future | Alex Walker-Todd)
  • OxygenOS 14 atop Android 14 out of the box
  • Customizable user experience without feeling overwhelming
  • 3 years of OS + 4 years of security updates

If you're a long-time OnePlus user, you'll know OxygenOS has lost a little of its individuality since OnePlus and Oppo more closely collaborated on their respective mobile user experiences (we lost the 1+ calculator easter egg with OxygenOS 13), however, OxygenOS 14 (running atop the latest Android 14) still delivers on the core values of OnePlus' software from previous generations; packed with sparks of software design so good that you'd wish other brands would crib from it.

While delivering a relatively clean aesthetic and user experience, OxygenOS has supported user generated wallpapers long before Samsung and Asus called upon AI smarts to offer similar results with their latest-generation phones, Zen Space is a one-stop destination for mindfulness that supports Android's native Digital Wellbeing toolset, gestures and floating windows add a heap of flexibility to the base OS's multitasking experience, and being able to quick-launch apps from the fingerprint sensor is a nice trick too.

OnePlus 12R review The Shelf

The Shelf on OxygenOS 14 (Image credit: Future | Alex Walker-Todd)

The Shelf is an interesting inclusion that OnePlus has struggled to find a consistent home for within OxygenOS and I'm not convinced its current location – accessed by swiping down on the home screen, replacing quick access to notifications and quick settings – should be its final destination. Nevertheless, as a dedicated home for widgets – akin to Today View on iPadOS – it's a nice way to keep glanceable information all in one place.

OxygenOS manages to walk the line between simplicity and functionality where other brands' user experiences tend to err on the side of 'more features equals better', even if that's at the expense of intuitive navigation and interaction.

The 12R's standing below that of the company's true current flagship does mean that its software support isn't quite as extensive – at three years of OS upgrades and four years of security updates – but that does at least keep it in step with the similarly-spec'd OnePlus 11, meaning both phones won't fall out of favor until Android 18 (and presumably OxygenOS 18).

  • Software score: 4 / 5

OnePlus 12R review: Cameras

OnePlus 12R review camera closeup

(Image credit: Future | Alex Walker-Todd)
  • Robust 50MP Sony IMX890 lead sensor, as on OnePlus 11
  • Same RAW HDR algorithm, as on the OnePlus 12
  • Ineffectual macro camera

While at a glance the OnePlus 12R's rear camera setup may resemble the OnePlus 11's and 12's, it's likely the biggest departure from both phones and one of the biggest cost-saving aspects of the 12R's spec sheet. You still get the same 1/1.56-inch Sony IMX890 sensor that leads the OnePlus 11's camera setup, complete with a year's worth of software refinement, plus improved speed from mode switching to shutter lag, but beyond its main snapper, the 12R's photographic capabilities are more pedestrian.

The 8MP Sony IMX355 ultra-wide serves up consistent colors with the main camera in good lighting, but detail is noticeably lacking when comparing similar shots taken between the two, while the 2MP macro camera lacks the pixels, dynamic range and color depth to be anything other than novel.

OnePlus 12R camera samples

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OnePlus 12R camera sample main Citroen

(Image credit: Future | Alex Walker-Todd)
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OnePlus 12R camera sample main portrait mode Brie

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Portrait mode

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OnePlus 12R camera sample ultra wide high street

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Ultra wide camera

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OnePlus 12R camera sample main high street

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1x zoom

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OnePlus 12R camera sample 2x zoom high street

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2x zoom

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OnePlus 12R camera sample 5x zoom high street

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5x zoom

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OnePlus 12R camera sample 20x zoom high street

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20x zoom

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OnePlus 12R camera sample main jumper sleeve

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Main camera

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OnePlus 12R camera sample macro jumper sleeve

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Macro camera

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OnePlus 12R camera sample main glass

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Main camera

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OnePlus 12R camera sample macro glass

(Image credit: Future | Alex Walker-Todd)

Macro camera

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OnePlus 12R camera sample main garden

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Ultra wide camera

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OnePlus 12R camera sample ultra wide garden

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Macro camera

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OnePlus 12R camera sample main low light moon

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Low light

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OnePlus 12R camera sample main Night mode garden

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Night mode

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OnePlus 12R camera sample main manual max ISO and shutter garden

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Low light w/ maximum ISO and shutter speed

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OnePlus 12R camera sample selfie

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OnePlus 12R camera sample selfie Portrait mode

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Front camera w/ Portrait mode

If you're serious about shooting on the 12R, all your photos should really come from the OIS-supported (optical image stabilization) main 50MP sensor. It offers enough versatility in its own right to satiate the average mobile photographer, and while there's no Hasselblad tuning to speak of – as on the brand's other premium phones – image quality is generally great; with a particular talent for HDR shooting, exemplified by the 'ProXDR' toggle in the phone's native gallery app that shows this trait off most clearly.

Along with excellent colors, detail, and dynamic range when snapping standard 12.6MP jpeg stills, you have the choice of capturing full-sensor 50MP images, as well as HDR shots in RAW, with the 12R benefitting from the same RAW HDR algorithm as found on the OnePlus 12.

One growing trend from the current era of smartphone photography that isn't as prevalent on the OnePlus 12R is AI-supported shooting, especially when it comes to editing tools. Features like generative fill are being popularized by the likes of the latest Google Pixel and Samsung Galaxy smartphones, and is one such AI feature you won't find here.

  • Camera score: 3.5 / 5

OnePlus 12R review: Performance

OnePlus 12R review gaming

(Image credit: Future | Alex Walker-Todd)
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 SoC
  • Trinity Engine for CPU, RAM and ROM optimization
  • Dual vapor chamber cooling design

If you thought the branding for the various technologies in the display section of this review was a bit much, OnePlus kicks things into overdrive when it comes to talking about the phone's performance. Practically every performance-centric hardware and software optimization comes with a catchy name attached, with the 'Trinity Engine' being the umbrella brand under which they all sit.

Building on memory optimization features the company first introduced with the OnePlus 11, the Trinity Engine consists of three key parts: CPU-Vita, RAM-Vita and ROM-Vita, which collectively work to keep the 12R feeling fast and fluid long into your time with it. This is primarily achieved by throttling for heat management and battery longevity, prioritizing memory allocation for more frequently used apps, and on-the-fly defragmentation of storage to keep files accessible; all in the pursuit of peace of mind for users looking for a worthwhile long-term smartphone purchase.

Running on the same chipset as the OnePlus 11 – paired with the latest UFS 4.0 storage (on the 256GB model, at least) and LPDDR5X RAM for greater speed and power efficiency – you'd expect comparable flagship performance, and in artificial benchmarking tests, you'd be right. In fact, the OnePlus 12R feels as fast and as fluid to use as any current flagship, including more cutting-edge Snapdragon 8 Gen 3-powered phones. The performance shortfall likely won't be felt for at least a year or two, which is to say this phone is comfortable with whatever you throw at it, right now.

Gaming on Genshin Impact with default (medium) graphical settings and a bump up to a 60fps frame rate cap proved zero issue for the 12R for extended periods and seldom were frames dropped. The caveat to that is that despite a new 'Cryo-Velocity' dual vapor chamber cooling system – offering a reported three-times-larger vapor chamber area compared to the OnePlus 11 – heat build-up was more noticeable during intensive tasks than expected; never to a concerning degree, but still.

There are some great user-accessible performance tools worth digging into too. Live Lock is perfect for pinning apps that you want the system to leave resources available for – ideal for downloading system updates for Genshin while doing other things. Gaming Tools let you customize graphical settings, manage notifications and performance allowances, and even toggle improved HDR visuals.

There's also the fact that OnePlus (and Oppo and Realme) phones don't run in a high performance state out of the box. While the 12R feels perfectly tightly wound for responsive everyday use, dive into the phone's power menu and you'll find a toggle for 'high performance mode.' It's a little bonus that you'll likely never need, but additional grunt on tap is never to be sniffed at.

  • Performance score: 4 / 5

OnePlus 12R review: Battery

OnePlus 12R review USB

(Image credit: Future | Alex Walker-Todd)
  • Largest capacity battery in a OnePlus phone ever
  • Up to 100W SuperVOOC wired charging
  • Rated for only 20% capacity degradation after 1,600 cycles

Along with the screen, the battery is arguably one of the OnePlus 12R's greatest strengths. Around the same physical size as the OnePlus 11's battery, the company has managed to up the capacity to a whopping 5,500mAh – making this the largest power cell in a OnePlus phone ever.

Even without the latest-generation Qualcomm chipset, that larger capacity helps deliver the best battery life we've tested in a OnePlus phone, clocking in at around eight hours of screen-on time per charge, equivalent to two days of light to average use on a single charge. It's not quite iPhone 15 series longevity, but matches some of the best Android phones on the market, beating out mainstream rivals like the Pixel 8 series, handily.

Not only that, in most markets save for the US (where it peaks at 80W), the OnePlus 12R comes with rapid 100W fast charging, which OnePlus claims means you can hit 100% charge after only 26 minutes, In testing, the review sample used here reached 92% in the same time, fully charging at the 30-minute mark exactly; making this one of the faster-charging phones out there right now.

Being built for long-term use seems to be a key theme of the OnePlus 12R, with the company promising a four-year or 1,600-cycle on the battery, after which they claim longevity will equate to around 80% of the out-of-box performance. For comparison, Apple officially states that its iPhones reach this same 80% capacity threshold after just 500 cycles.

The only real fly in the ointment here is the reduced peak 80W charging speed in the US (a trait found on other OnePlus phones too) and the absence of any form of wireless charging.

  • Battery score: 4.5 / 5

Should you buy the OnePlus 12R?

Buy it if...

You like media and gaming
The combination of display, performance, and battery life make this a superb phone for high-fidelity gaming or enjoying HDR content for hours on end.

You like curved-edge smartphones
The latest iPhones, Samsung Galaxy phones and, as it currently looks like, the next batch of Pixels have all adopted straight sided designs with flat screens. The OnePlus 12R shirks this design trend and places elegant curves first.

You want an Android phone with great battery performance
One of the longest-lasting Android phones on the market also packs in a battery that's built to charge quickly and last years upon years of recharge cycles with minimal degradation. Great for travelers, gamers, and power users.

Don't buy it if...

You want a killer camera
That main 50MP Sony IMX890 sensor is a real joy to use and highlights the strides OnePlus has made in its camera tuning over the years, but as the 12R packs three cameras on the back, you have to consider the whole packages and those other sensors don't pull their weight.

You need the best water resistance or wireless charging
Most flagships come packing IP68-certified dust and water ingress protection, the 12R falls short of the mark when it comes to withstanding the wet stuff by comparison, and that slim body may look good but leaves no room for wireless charging.

OnePlus 12R review: Also consider

Even though it's a great device, there are issues with the OnePlus 12R, so you might want to consider one of the following alternatives.

OnePlus 11
Similar specs and the same software update expiration date, but the previous year's OnePlus 11 boasts a superior camera with Hasselblad tuning to boot.

Samsung Galaxy S23 FE
The last of Samsung's Galaxy S23 series is smaller than the 12R and doesn't pack the same degree of grunt, but it offers affordable access to a premium Samsung experience and is one of the few phones that comes to market around the same asking price as the 12R.

How I tested the OnePlus 12R

OnePlus 12R review camera closeup alt

(Image credit: Future | Alex Walker-Todd)
  • Review test period: three weeks
  • Testing included: everyday use including web browsing, social media, photography, video calling, gaming, streaming video, music playback
  • Tools used: Geekbench 6, Geekbench ML, GFXBench, native Android stats, OnePlus 100W SuperVOOC charger

Having received both the OnePlus 12 and 12R a week ahead of the OnePlus 12 series' launch, I got straight to using the 12R (check out our OnePlus 12 review if you're curious about the company's new flagship), adding my own Google account and OnePlus account before using the device as my main phone for the duration of the review period.

Usage included streaming video, snapping stills and video with the phone's various cameras, and toying with the ProXDR display's abilities with both compatible content and gaming.

Publicly available, industry standard benchmarking apps were used to meter the CPU, GPU, and AI performance of the OnePlus 12R, and while we don't always publish the results, we keep them on file for comment and comparison with other devices we've tested. Battery life was tested by recording screen-on time each day across a single charge from 100% to 0%, based on normal everyday use, while the in-box charger was used to recharge the phone, with the charge checked at intervals to assess the rate of replenishment.

The cameras were used in a myriad of conditions to test their versatility, with comparisons between sensors and the cameras of other phones as part of the testing process.

Having extensively reviewed numerous smartphones, including a myriad of OnePlus phones during my 12 years of journalistic experience, I felt confident in putting the OnePlus 12R through its paces and evaluating its abilities in a fair and informed manner, based on the market, its target audience, pricing, and the competition.

Read more about how we test

First reviewed February 2024

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 review – slimmed down, brightened up
2:00 pm | July 26, 2023

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets | Tags: , | Comments: Off

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5: One-minute preview

While it was Motorola that popularized the clamshell form factor when it appeared back in the mid-1990s, in the smartphone era it's been Samsung that has steered the ship with regard to what a clamshell foldable smartphone looks like and is capable of.

In the three short years in which the Galaxy Z Flip line has cemented its place among the best foldables, we've seen the rapid evolution of both the form factor itself and Samsung's specific approach, with this year's Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 offering some overdue refinements to combat fresh-faced competition in a race where Samsung once ran unopposed.

Looking at the evolution of its foldable lines up to this point you certainly couldn't call the company complacent, but the main upgrades that the Z Flip 5 brings to the table give us the impression that, for the first time, Samsung is playing catch-up to newcomers to the foldable space such as Oppo and the aforementioned Motorola. But caught up it has.

The Z Flip 5 – like the Galaxy Z Fold 5 which launched alongside it at July's Samsung Unpacked event – offers one important and overdue upgrade over its folding forebears: when you close the phone its two halves finally fold perfectly flat against each other, with no gap. Despite the near-wizardry that phones with folding displays such as these are seemingly imbued with, in order for past Flips and Folds to bend in two, Samsung has always had to make an allowance for the radius of the bend placed on each device's main screen, and that has resulted in a wedge-shaped profile with a visible gap through the middle of their folded forms.

Now, both the Flip 5 and Fold 5 echo the numerous rivals that already boast such a silhouette, making them markedly thinner without compromising on what still remains a rarity in the foldable space – IPX8-certified water resistance.

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Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 hands on vs Flip 4 side

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4 (left), Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 (right) (Image credit: Future | Alex Walker-Todd)
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Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 hands on vs Flip 4 closed

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4 (left), Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 (right) (Image credit: Future | Alex Walker-Todd)
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Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 hands on vs Flip 4 front

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4 (left), Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 (right) (Image credit: Future | Alex Walker-Todd)
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Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 hands on vs Flip 4 back angled

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4 (left), Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 (right) (Image credit: Future | Alex Walker-Todd)
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Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 hands on vs Flip 4 back

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4 (left), Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 (right) (Image credit: Future | Alex Walker-Todd)

Beyond its new slimmed-down profile, the Flip 5 arguably has a bigger upgrade to shout about than its larger folding sibling, thanks to a significantly larger outer screen that now dominates the exterior of the phone. A bigger display on the outside allows for more functionality without having to open to phone up, meaning email triage, quick-reply messaging and checking your notifications without diving into the full-screen apps is more accessible than it ever was on the stamp-sized outer screen of the Flip 5's predecessor.

There's still a dual 12MP camera setup on the outside, as with last year's Flip; however, the bigger external cover display also makes for a far more visible viewfinder, meaning that framing shots when you've set the Flip 5 down on a flat surface to capture photos with friends is easier than ever.

The last major upgrade to speak of has to be the chipset, with the same exclusively-tuned Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 for Galaxy that Samsung and Qualcomm collaborated on for the Galaxy S23 series which launched at the start of the year also making an appearance here (it also powers the new Fold 5 and Galaxy Tab S9 series).

Also like the S23 line – namely the Galaxy S23 Plus and Galaxy S23 Ultra – there's no longer a 128GB storage SKU to speak of. Instead, you have the choice of 256GB of 512GB of internal space, with the price starting at £10 less than you would have paid for the equivalent storage on last year's Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4 in the UK, and Australian customers paying the same. Meanwhile US customers pay the same as they would have for a 128GB Flip 4 ($999.99), making the phone an even better deal Stateside.

With the key upgrades out of the way, let's dive into details of Samsung's most sophisticated Z Flip yet.

Hands-on Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 review: Price and availability

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 hands on partial open angled table

(Image credit: Future | Alex Walker-Todd)
  • Pre-orders from July 26, on sale August 11
  • Available from $999.99 / £1,049 / AU$1,649

In an impressive display of self-confidence, Samsung actually let fans register their interest for pre-orders before the Flip 5 had even been announced, pairing the experience with the promise of pre-order bonuses which vary by region.

In the US, buyers can expect $50 of Samsung Credit on their pre-order, and save up to $540 when they bundle a Z Flip 5 (or Fold 5) with a Galaxy Tab S9 series and / or a Galaxy Watch 6. In the UK those who order multiple new products launched at the July Unpacked event can stack a similar credit deal – meaning savings of up to £150 – along with a free upgrade to the 512GB Flip at no extra cost. In Australia, buyers who pre-ordered get AU$100 off their purchase or can instead grab a 10,000mAh battery pack, worth AU$59.

Pre-orders themselves kicked off during Unpacked, on July 26, with the Z Flip 5 on sale from August 11.

As you'll see from the table above, US customers get the best deal, being asked to pay no more than they would have last year for a 128GB Z Flip 4, UK customers pay £10 less than they would have for an equivalent 256GB Flip 4 (making the double storage pre-order bonus all the more worthwhile) and pricing remains unchanged relative to storage between generations in Australia.

Check out our rundown of the best Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 and Flip 5 deals for the latest offers on this next-gen foldable and its launch partner.

Hands-on Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 review: Specs

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 hands on front straight table

(Image credit: Future | Alex Walker-Todd)

As with the last Z Flip, Samsung lets you customize the finish on the Flip 5, not to mention there are some colorways that you won't find from other retailers.

Hands-on Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 review: Design

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 hands on back angled table

(Image credit: Future | Alex Walker-Todd)
  • Gorilla Glass Victus 2 back
  • IPX8-certified
  • 2mm thinner when closed, compared to Z Flip 4

There aren't all that many clamshell foldables currently on the market, but the Galaxy Z Flip series sports the most defined aesthetic makeup, with the Z Flip 3 and Z Flip 4 being the most like-minded of the run so far.

The Z Flip 5 has plenty of familial traits too, if you're familiar with the last two generations of Samsung's signature clamshell; with a polished color-matched (with most colorways, at least) Armor Aluminum frame, relatively tight radii at its corners and a flat back – save for the dual circular camera lenses jutting out of the top left corner.

With the display placement on the last two models, the cameras sat vertically (the ultra-wide underneath the main sensor) but in order to accommodate the new greatly-expanded cover display on the Flip 5, they now sit laterally. The phone doesn't have the same two tone finish of its predecessors either; with the cover display ensuring that the top half of the Z Flip 5's back is now a glossy black (when the screen's off), regardless of colorway.

Speaking of colors, Samsung has stuck with a similar pastel palette to previous generations, however, saturation looks to have been reduced across the board, meaning in some lighting, it's hard to tell what color the finish of the phone is at all – is that the new signature 'mint' finish, or just white?

Thankfully, there are a few bolder options to choose from, especially if you aren't sold on the four default hues – mint, lavender, graphite and cream. As with previous generations there are a number of exclusives to choose from: blue, green, gray and yellow, which I haven't seen in person but look to be bolder finishes by comparson.

Beyond new colors and a rebalance of visual contrast in the design (brought on by that new larger outer screen), the big hook of opting for the Z Flip 5 over its predecessors – from a design perspective, at least – is the revised water-drop hinge, which lets the phone finally fold flat when closed, resulting in a significantly slimmer profile than the Flip 4. 2mm might not sound like much but in the hands and, more importantly, in the pocket, you'd notice the difference if you could compare the two side by side.

Despite reworking the series' most complicated mechanism, Samsung has instilled the Flip 5 with the same reassuringly sturdy Flex Hinge feel that you'd find on the previous generations and, as before, you can position the phone between 75 degrees and 115 degrees to enable Flex Mode, which optimizes UI placement when placing the phone down on a flat surface and viewing it with the screen angled within that range; great for watching shows while you're busy in the kitchen or want to sit back hands-free while on a video call.

Samsung has also managed to retain the phone's IPX8-certified water resistance – a standout durability feature that most rivals can't rise to meet the Z Flip 5 on. There's also talk of improved dust resistance, although Samsung hasn't confirmed this in an official capacity, meaning durability on paper is similar to the Flip 4, albeit with the guarantee of newer Gorilla Glass Victus 2 – as introduced on the Galaxy S23 series.

Hands-on Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 review: Display

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 hands on cover display clock handheld

(Image credit: Future | Alex Walker-Todd)
  • 6.7-inch Full HD+ (2640 x 1080) AMOLED main display w/ adaptive 1Hz to 120Hz refresh rate
  • 3.4-inch 720 x 748 60Hz AMOLED cover display
  • Almost 80% larger cover display than Flip 4

Compared to prominent rival Motorola, Samsung has proved consistently reluctant to expand the size of the cover display on its recent clamshells between generations, plateauing at 1.9-inches for the two entries prior to the Flip 5.

This year, however, it's finally decided to make the jump and cover the majority of the upper half of the phone's back with pixels; a screen size increase of almost 80 percent. This means functionality of 'Flex Window' – as Samsung calls it – has been greatly expanded, with familiar experiences like a variety of clocks, a calendar and timers on all hand, as well as third-party support (for things like Spotify and Google Stocks) that's likely to keep growing beyond the 13 available at launch, now the phone is available. The added size also allows for a full QWERTY keyboard typing experience, so you're no longer relegated to quick replies-only when responding to messages without opening the phone up.

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Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 hands on cover display weather

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Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 hands on cover display alarm

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Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 hands on cover display apps menu

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Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 hands on cover display calendar

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Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 hands on cover display clock handheld 21:9

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Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 hands on cover display clock handheld

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Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 hands on cover display Netflix

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Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 hands on cover display Samsung Health

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Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 hands on cover display stocks

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Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 hands on cover display timer

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Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 hands on display crease

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Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 hands on side open

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Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 hands on vs Flip 4 side

(Image credit: Future | Alex Walker-Todd)

The Samsung Labs menu in the phone's settings also lets you enable unsupported apps to be run on the Flex Window, bringing functionality more in-line with what the last two generations of Motorola Razr have been capable of.

Speaking of the Razr, or more specifically the recent Motorola Razr Plus 2023/Razr 40 Ultra, while both have gone big on their cover displays this year, Motorola's iteration looks to be ahead of the curve, wrapping pixels all the way around its dual camera system, while the Flip 5's Flex Window skirts around the cameras, leaving a little more bezel; not that you'd know from the press images, where the darkest areas of the wallpaper conceal the cover screen's true boundary, in the same way Apple tried to hide the notch on the iPhone Xs' press images when it first launched.

It's a small aesthetic quirk that helps differentiate these two top-tier clamshell foldables but when we're talking about phones where design is one of their key selling points, it feels like a distinction worth highlighting.

While there's a lot to talk about with the cover display, the Flip 5's main screen is comparatively more pedestrian, at least in the sense that it's seemingly unchanged from the main screen on the last Z Flip: a 6.7-inch Full HD+ (2640 x 1080) 'Dynamic AMOLED 2X Infinity Flex Display' (Samsung's marketing team was clearly left unsupervised with that one), with an adaptive refresh rate that can scale from a silky-smooth 120Hz, all the way down to 1Hz, for optimum power consumption.

Hands-on Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 review: Software

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 hands on front angled handheld

(Image credit: Future | Alex Walker-Todd)
  • Runs Android 13 on top of One UI 5.1.1 out the box
  • 4 years OS updates + 5 years security updates

If you're coming from an existing Samsung phone, One UI 5.1.1 (atop Android 13) on the Flip 5 should feel wholly familiar, with both Google Play and the Galaxy Store at your disposal, and in fact a number of Google and Samsung apps sitting side by side (most of the latter can be uninstalled or hidden if they're duplicates you don't intend on using).

One UI has a distinct aesthetic that differs from more stock builds of Android, from its use and placement of color to the squircle icons throughout your home screens and app drawer. Of course, Samsung wants to give users a little added value beyond a new coat of paint and its own app store, so you'll also find features like Edge Panels – granting access to favourite apps or contacts, and even app pairs, so you can jump into split-screen multitasking (particularly enjoyable on the Flip 5's tall display) with a single tap.

The Flip being the Flip, there's also Flex Mode to consider, which lets you place the phone down on a flat surface partially open (between 75 degrees and 115 degrees) at which point supported apps will shift to the upper half of the display, so they're more easily viewable, while controls will appear on the lower half. If you're streaming a show, for example, you'll be able to play/pause, scrub, skip forward or back in time and change the volume, all without obstructing what's on-screen. There's even a one-touch screenshot button and you can turn it into a computing-style trackpad, complete with mouse cursor.

One aspect of the software experience that Samsung has instilled within its top-tier phones and even its mid-range entries is practically unmatched long-term software support (particularly in the Android camp). This means the Z Flip 5 will benefit from four years of OS updates post launch and an additional year of security updates; that's more than practically all of the other best Android phones and means better long-term value and usability for buyers.

Hands-on Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 review: Cameras

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 hands on closed angled table

(Image credit: Future | Alex Walker-Todd)
  • 12MP primary and ultra-wide rear cameras
  • 10MP hole-punch selfie camera
  • New main lens with reduced lens flare
  • New FlexCam third-party optimizations

It would appear that the cameras at play on the Z Flip 5 ape those of its predecessor exactly; with a 12MP primary sensor sporting 1.8μm pixels, an f/1.8 aperture and OIS (optical image stabilization), accompanied by a 12MP ultra-wide snapper with 1.12μm pixels, an f/2.2 aperture and a 123-degree field of view. The front-facing 10MP hole-punch selfie snapper reads the same as well, with 1.12μm pixels and an f/2.2 aperture, so are there any upgrades to consider here? Some but only minor.

Samsung says the lens on the main 12MP sensor is new and less-prone to lens flare that would otherwise wash-out and reduce contrast in shots, with most of generational improvements to image quality coming straight from the new silicon at the phone's heart, provided by Qualcomm.

Improved multi-frame processing with the chipmakers AI Object Aware Engine, should do a better job of processing depth and detail in images, digitally-zoomed shoots shout retain more detail too, while skin tones and low light performance are also touted as areas of focus and improvement all of which will likely be hard to judge without side-by-side testing with the Flip 4 but sound great, in theory.

FlexCam is the Flip 5's party piece when it comes to photography and that larger cover display makes capturing content even easier. Samsung has worked to improve third-party camera experiences when using FlexCam, so while your Flip 5 is set down on a flat surface ready to record the action, you can capture directly to the likes of YouTube Shorts, Instagram Reels and TikTok.

As with previous generations, you don't need to open the Flip 5 up to grab high-quality selfies using the phone's main camera either, with the ability to switch between the main and ultra-wide, shoot video and choose between a natural and a warm tone finish on your shots – a pleasing level of versatility that's always accessible, it would seem.

Hands-on Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 review: Performance

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 hands on A stand angled table

(Image credit: Future | Alex Walker-Todd)
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 for Galaxy
  • No 128GB model, only 256GB or 512GB this year (UFS 4.0)

As with the Galaxy S23 Plus and S23 Ultra this year, Samsung has bid farewell to the base 128GB storage model found on the last few generations of Z Flip, leaving you with just 256GB and 512GB to choose from. As the pricing hasn't really changed in markets like the UK and Australia, this means the barrier to entry for owning a Z Flip is higher than before, even if you're getting at least double the storage out the gate.

Unlike the Z Fold 5, which gets 12GB of RAM – likely to support its focus on productivity and multitasking – the Flip 5 comes with 8GB RAM, regardless of storage configuration. In an effort to raise performance across the board, though, the phone boasts the latest LPDDR5X RAM, UFS 4.0 storage and the same tailor-made Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 for Galaxy chipset first seen in the S23 series that collectively promise a one-two punch of faster performance and greater power efficiency, which is great for a phone which still sports a relatively small battery.

Beyond raw power, which the Flip 5 looks to have plenty of, the 8 Gen 2 SoC is also the main driving force behind the phone's camera improvements and battery life promises, so it'll be interesting to see just how much of a different it makes compared to the Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1 that powered its predecessor.

Hands-on Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 review: Battery life

  • 3,700mAh battery (same as Flip 4)
  • 25W wired charging, 15W wireless charging, 4.5W reverse wireless charging

Like the Flip 5's main display and camera sensors, the battery tech on offer seems unchanged from that found in the Galaxy Z Flip 4; a 3,700mAh cell that supports up to 25W fast wired charging.

While that's disappointing at first blush, concessions have to be made for the fact that Samsung has managed to make its latest clamshell foldable 2mm thinner, without affecting battery capacity – one of the first things that's often affected when the dimensions of a device change between generations.

This, paired to the more efficient chipset, RAM and storage should, in theory, result in better longevity compared to the Flip 4, which although it managed to last all day, delivered a sub-par 4 hours of screen-on time per charge in our tests.

Foldables seem far more likely to be experience greater variance in usage and power consumption compared to your conventional candy bar smartphone, primarily because of their dual-screen setup. On the one-hand the outer display is larger than it's ever been for a Z Flip, however, in the past that would have led to most users to resort to the larger primary display to carry out important actions not possible from the tiny cover screen. With the Z Flip 5, however, with so much more screen real-estate and functionality on offer from its cover screen, will users find fewer reasons to open up the phone and use the main, presumably more power-hungry display We'll have to test this theory out for ourselves come the full review.

First tested July 2023

Google Pixel Fold review: Google nails the foldable experience in all the best ways
2:15 am | May 11, 2023

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets Google Pixel Phones Phones | Tags: , | Comments: Off

Editor's Note

• Original review date: June, 2023
• Pixel Fold has been surprisingly left behind
• Launch price: $1,799 / £1,749
• Lowest price on Amazon (US only): $1,399

Update: April 2024. Google has made many updates to the Pixel phones since the Pixel Fold was launched, but, shockingly, some of the most important new Google features have not come to Google's foldable, even though it's more powerful than other phones that have been updated. Google's new Circle to Search feature, as well as new Gemini AI features, have not been added to the Google Pixel Fold, and Google has given us no timeline when or even if the Pixel Fold will get these updates. Truly a disappointing development in the short life of this pricey phone. 

Two-minute preview

The Google Pixel Fold arrives a little late to the foldable party but, based on my time with the device, it's a smartphone/tablet combo that mostly delights, and which is sure to earn a place among our ranking of the best Foldable Phones.

From its construction, including its precision hinge, to its high-resolution screens, the Pixel Fold is a well-thought-out Android phone that's equally at home as a small-screen, but thick, 5.8-inch phone or, unfolded, as a 7.6-inch mini tablet. 

The large bezel around the main screen might give pause to some, but it quickly fades into the background, thanks to a responsive, colorful, and multitasking-friendly screen. Even the unavoidable crease down the middle is somewhat less prominent than those on competing foldable phones. And when you fold the Pixel Fold, the two sides meet with nary any visible space between them.

The collection of cameras on board do not disappoint. They can capture lovely landscapes, portraits, macro-like photos (there isn't a dedicated macro mode), astrophotography, and striking long exposures that use image segmentation to blur motion while keeping other aspects of the scene in focus.

I'm particularly pleased that Google put a 5x optical zoom on this phone. Sure, that's half of what you get on the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra, but it does beat its closest foldable rival, the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4.

Google Pixel Fold

The Google Pixel Fold in my hand, opened to the 7.6-inch display (Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)

Google has equipped the Pixel Fold with its Tensor G2 chip (the same one that's in its Pixel 7 line), a slightly aging piece of silicon that doesn't beat the competition, but which proved more than powerful enough for every task I threw at it. The Pixel Fold is as at home with web browsing as it is with high-intensity gaming. Plus, the screens' variable refresh rates keep everything looking smooth. A small nitpick might be, well, the lack of nits. The Pixel Fold's main screen is noticeably less bright than the Galaxy Z Fold 4's (the latter boasts more nits), and while I didn't have any issues on cloudy days, it might struggle a bit in direct sunlight.

Naturally, Android 13 (with five years of promised security updates) is perfectly at home on the Pixel Fold, but so are all the Google apps that Google has optimized for the new platform. Mail, Photos, and more work like a charm on the big screen, and there's real joy in being able to drag and drop a photo from another app into an email.

Google arguably stumbles a bit when it comes to the pricing. $1,799 / £1,749 is a lot to pay for a single device, especially as other newcomers, like the smaller but quite impressive Motorola Razr Plus, come in at under $1,000 (Google hasn't announced any plans to release the phone in Australia, but we'll let you know if and when we get official confirmation either way). My take, though is that you're essentially getting two premium devices in one here, and Google is asking you to pay for that.

Overall, I truly enjoyed my time with Google's first folding device. It's not a tentative or compromised first attempt at the form factor: the Google Pixel Fold makes a clean and emphatic landing in the foldable space.

Google Pixel Fold price and availability

  • 12GB RAM / 256GB: $1,799 / £1,749 
  • 12GB RAM / 512GB: $1,919 / £1,869  (Obsidian, only)

Google unveiled the Pixel Fold during its May 10 Google I/0 2023 developer conference keynote, at which it also unveiled its mid-range Google Pixel 7a phone, the Google Pixel Tablet and charging speaker dock, and a ton of new AI technology.

You can preorder the Google Pixel Fold now, with shipping set to commence on June 27, although exactly when you'll be able to get your hands on the phone depends on where you are. The Fold comes in two colors: Porcelain (off-white) and Obsidian (black). My review unit is Obsidian, and I think I prefer it over the white.

Google Pixel Fold

The Pixel Fold in my hand, folded to show the 5.8-inch external display (Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)

If you haven't already, you should disabuse yourself of the notion that when you buy a foldable you're buying one device, and so should pay for one device. The Google Pixel Fold is, like the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4, two full-blown devices in one and, as such, it's very nearly worth the $1,799 / £1,749 price tag.

How do I figure this? There are two screens on Google's first foldable, one 5.8 inches and the other 7.6 inches, and each one is large enough to operate as a standalone communication, information, gaming, and entertainment platform.

There are more cameras on the Pixel Fold than on the average handset: three on the back, another one on the external screen, and then one more right above the main display.

If you purchased, say, an iPhone 14 Pro ($999 / £1,099 / AU$1,749) and an iPad mini ($499 / £479 / $749), that would cost you about $1,500, or the UK and Australian equivalents. And naturally, you're paying a premium for more cameras, and that exquisite flexible and hard-to-manufacturer foldable display.

My point is, before you dismiss the Pixel Fold for its hefty price tag, I suggest you consider what you're actually getting for your money, and what this impressive Android 13 smartphone and tablet can do.

Still, at this price, the Pixel Fold is more than a considered purchase, and I fully understand that – especially if you're thinking about the 512GB and nearly $2,000 ($1,919 / £1,869) model – the cost will be a considerable issue.

The good news is that there are already Google Pixel Fold trade-in deals that essentially cut the price of the phone in half. Basically, there should be almost no reason to pay full list price for what is a very impressive device.

  • Value score: 4/5

Google Pixel Fold design

  • The right form factor for a phone-to-mini-tablet foldable
  • Feels solid, if a bit heavy
  • Folds completely flat
  • Whisper-quiet operation
  • Big bezel will distress some

Google's decision to wait out Samsung through four iterations of its foldable devices (and almost five, with the Galaxy Z Fold 5 set to be announced in the next few weeks at the time of writing) turns out to have been a smart move. The Pixel Fold is in many ways what I want all foldables to be.

When folded, its 139.7mm tall by 79.5mm wide by 12.1mm thick frame is like a very thick 5.8-inch smartphone. Unlike the tall and narrow Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4, the dimensions of which, when folded, stretch the definition of a traditional smartphone display, the Pixel Fold and its front screen could almost pass for a standard smartphone; that is as long as you overlook the flat hinge side, which does not match the curved corners on the opposite side.

Plus, if you don't count the rather prominent camera bump (really a band that runs almost the width of the back of the phone), the Pixel Fold is, at 5.8mm unfolded, slightly thinner than the 6.3mm Galaxy Z Fold.

Google Pixel Fold

Google Pixel Fold stainless steel hinge (Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)

Even by foldable standards, though, the Pixel Fold is a bit heavy. It weighs 283 grams – that's 20 grams more than the Galaxy Z Fold 4 and, unsurprisingly, 40 grams heavier than Apple's current biggest phone, the iPhone 14 Pro Max.

Again, if you don't appreciate that multi-purpose devices like this are naturally going to be bigger and heavier than standard smartphones, you're barking up the wrong, er, device tree.

This is a premium phone, with high-end materials like a polished aluminum frame, and Corning Gorilla Glass Victus on both the front screen and the back. The hinge is stainless steel and the entire body is IPX8-rated, which means it's ready to survive everything from a storm to an accidental drop in the bath (I didn't submerge the phone but did run it under some water – it survived).

Google Pixel Fold

The Google Pixel Fold's stainless steel hinge and flat-folding operation (Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)

The hinge operation, by the way, is excellent. It's smooth, whisper-quiet (quieter even than the Z Fold 4, which makes a little crinkling sound when you open and close it), and can open to a full 180 degrees or virtually anywhere in between (to support tabletop and Tent operation).

I opened and closed the phone a lot during my testing time, and came away with the distinct impression of long-term durability.

Aside from the rather wide and tall camera bump, there aren't many distinctive features on the outside of the Pixel Fold. On the back, below that bump, is a polished version of Google's distinctive 'G'. The hinge has no markings at all. Opposite the hinge, on the right edge of the phone when it's unfolded, are the phone's two buttons. The power/sleep fingerprint reader (which is effective) is towards the top, and below it is the volume rocker. This is the opposite configuration to the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 and, it took some getting used to – I kept pressing the power button when I meant to adjust the volume, although I'm sure that if I spend enough time with the Pixel Fold, hitting the right button will become second nature.

There are microphone and speaker grilles along the top and bottom edges of the phone. Along the bottom is the USB-C charging port (the foldable ships with a cable and even a USB-3-USB-C adapter, but no charging adapter – it feels like something that should be included at this price). There's also a physical SIM slot, though the Pixel Fold does support dual SIM and eSIM, too.

Google Pixel Fold

Google Pixel Fold back showing cover screen and the main camera array. (Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)

A few things stand out when I unfold the Google Pixel Fold. One is that, unless you give it an extra press down on each side, the phone does not automatically unfold completely flat, although this isn't a big deal, as it's very easy to nudge it to an essentially flat plain. I remain somewhat surprised by the size of the bezel surrounding the Fold's flexible main screen. In contrast to the bezel on the Galaxy Z Fold 4 it's huge; however, once you start using this display, it quickly fades into the background.

There is a reason for the big bezel: it houses the main screen's 9MP camera. On the Galaxy Z Fold 4, Samsung chose to put a punch hole in the screen, and maybe that was the right call for a slightly large folding screen – I'm not sure.

As I mentioned earlier, the power button doubles as an effective fingerprint reader, and there's another biometric security option: you can register your face and unlock it with the Cover screen's camera. Oddly, though, you can't unfold the Pixel Fold and use that screen's camera to unlock with your face; it's a small but annoying omission on Google's part.

  • Design score: 4.5/5

Google Pixel Fold displays

  • 5.8-inch external screen with a normal aspect ratio
  • Lovely, large flexible display that's a good fit for all activities
  • A slightly diminished crease
  • 120Hz variable refresh rate on both screens

Google Pixel Fold

Google Pixel Fold external 5.8-inch cover display (Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)

One of the best things about Pixel Fold's two screens is that there is zero trade-off between using just the outer cover screen or the expansive main display.

I love that Google went with a full-width 5.8-inch cover display. That's considerably shorter than the Galaxy Z Fold 4's 6.2-inch external display, but it's also almost a half-inch wider – and I can say without reservation that I prefer the Pixel Fold's wider external screen. Not only is it easier to navigate, but apps like Instagram and TikTok look a lot better on it. The difference in size is better illustrated when you look at the resolutions – where the Galaxy Z Fold 4's cover display is 2316 x 904 pixels, the Pixel Fold's OLED is 2092 x 1080.

It's a pleasingly bright screen both indoors and out, with a promised 1,200 nits of brightness in typical use (the peak brightness is 1,550 nits), and smooth in operation thanks to an adaptive refresh rate (60Hz to 120Hz). I also like that there's an always-on display option (you have to dig into the settings to find it as it's not set up by default).

Overall, the cover screen is the display you'll most often use when on the go. It's the perfect viewfinder for the main camera array on the back, and the size is, depending on your hand, basically palm-friendly.

Google Pixel Fold

The Pixel Fold's Main Screen being used as the main camera viewfinder (Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)

Of course, there's a reason you're carrying around all that weight and girth: the large main screen. Unfolded, this is a 7.6-inch tablet-like display covered in ultra-thin flexible glass and a layer of protective plastic. At 2208 x 1840 it's got just a touch more pixels/resolution than the Galaxy Z Fold 4's main screen.

I grew to love this screen. Apps like Google Maps, Netflix, and YouTube, and games like Asphalt 9: Legends, and Call of Duty Mobile look fantastic on it. If you happen to start playing Call of Duty on the big screen, then close the Pixel Fold and try to continue on the cover screen, you may notice that the image is distorted. I was able to fix this by closing the game and restarting on the cover screen – it seems like a a bug that Google could fix with a software update.

In a side-by-side comparison, I did find that the Galaxy Z Fold 4's main screen is a little brighter. It's worth noting that the Pixel Fold's main display does not even match the brightness of the cover display; it's 1,000 nits as standard, with a peak brightness of 1,450 nits. Still, this is something you'd only notice if you had the two phones and screens side-by-side (as I did).

Like the cover display, the main screen supports an adaptive refresh rate of up to 120Hz. It has the same 1,000,000:1 contrast ratio, supports 16 million colors, and offers HDR support (though not HDR10+). it also supports the always-on display.

This being a foldable display, there is a crease that you can both see and feel, but it disappears when you're using apps, playing games, and watching videos. I did notice that this crease is ever so slightly less prominent than the seam on the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4's main screen.

Google Pixel Fold

The Pixel Fold's main screen in tabletop mode (Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)

Google makes good use of the cover display, and of the device's folding capabilities. If I fold the phone to roughly 45 degrees and set it up like a tent, I can watch Netflix as a full-screen experience on the cover display. If I unfold the Pixel Fold, the show or movie is automatically switched to the main screen. 

I did notice that YouTube is not entirely optimized for the Pixel Fold – when I tried to play a YouTube video in Tent mode, it insisted on playing upside down.

Google Pixel Fold

Tent mode is a nice way to watch a Netflix movie. YouTube, for now, only plays upside down. (Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)

The main screen also has a couple of nifty mid-fold tricks up its sleeve. I can bend it 90 degrees and set the Pixel Fold up in Tabletop mode. With it, I can watch movies, take a selfie, capture perfectly still time-lapse videos, or, as I did on more than one occasion, conduct hands-free Google Meet video meetings. Try doing that with your regular phone and no tripod.

You can also bend the phone a bit further so the main cameras are pointed and the sky and collect tripod-free night photography.

A big screen also means that I have space for not just one, but two apps. The Pixel Fold is a good multitasker that makes running two apps easy. All I have to do is open one app, like Chrome, then sweep up from the bottom to access the app dock, hold down on a second app like the Camera, and then drag it to the left or right side of the screen. You can resize the split of the two screens but, unfortunately, cannot run a third app. Still, it is useful to be able to have a map open at the same time as your camera viewfinder, especially if you're hiking and want to capture great shots while not getting lost.

Google Pixel Fold

Watching Netflix on the Google Pixel Fold. (Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)
  • Display score: 4.5/5

Google Pixel Fold cameras

  • Overall excellent cameras
  • Backed by powerful Google tools
  • Long exposure mode is a delight

Google Pixel Fold

Google Pixel Fold main camera array (Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)

Google has been widely praised for the cameras on its Pixel phones, and I think the Pixel Fold also earns those accolades.

Its cameras not only take excellent photos across a wide range of styles, they're complemented by some of the most powerful on-board image-processing magic in the business. I haven't had this much fun using a smartphone's cameras in quite a while. 

It's not just the camera app, or the editing I can do post-shot; the entire suite of camera hardware is strong. And while the Pixel Fold doesn't beat the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 in every aspect, I don't think anyone will feel cheated by any single lens.

Here’s the full list of cameras:

  • 48MP f/1.7 wide (rear)
  • 10.8MP ultra-wide f/2.2, 121-degree field of view (rear)
  • 10.8MP telephoto 5x optical f/3.05 (rear)
  • 9.5MP f/2.2 (cover)
  • 8MP f/2.0 (above main screen)

Google Pixel Fold

The Pixel Fold camera app (Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)

By and large, this array matches up pretty well with what's on the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4. The biggest difference is probably the Pixel Fold's main display camera, which has double the megapixels of the Z Fold 4's.

What I really appreciate though is the 5x optical zoom (you get just 3x on the Z Fold 4). I love a good optical zoom. Yes, both devices offer their own form of digitally- and AI-enhanced zoom. The Pixel Fold's Super Res Zoom (up to 20x) is sort of impressive, but as with most of these digital implementations, the images kind of fall apart if you look too closely. Still, I love having an optical image stabilized (OIS) and electronic image stabilized (EIS) 5x zoom in my pocket.

As you can see from my photo gallery further down the page, the Pixel Fold not only takes sharp and bright images, it also maintains excellent color fidelity. These images all look impressively like the real-world subject; nothing is oversaturated beyond nature's creation. The cameras let you capture subjects from a distance, and also allow you to get up close and personal, courtesy of the Fold's approximation of macro photography. To be clear, I can't really get closer than, say six or seven inches, but the effect is like macro, with a blurred background and a tight, sharp focus on the nearby object (see my yellow flowers).

There are a number of cool onboard tricks that can improve your not-so-awesome photos. Photo Unblur can sharpen photos blurred by your wobbly hands (although the camera is fast enough that I had to work to make a blurry photo for my tests). Magic Eraser is here, and it let me easily select and remove a bunch of commuters from one of my photos, as you can see below. The process of selection and removal is not instantaneous – it's like the Pixel Fold wants to show you how hard it's working.

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Google Pixel Fold

Magic Eraser on the Google Pixel Fold automatically selects subjects to remove. (Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)
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Google Pixel Fold

It does not get rid of every trace, though (Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)

My other favorite feature in the Camera app is Long Exposure. This is not night photography. Instead, it's a much shorter-term exposure that captures some movement while leaving the rest of the photo sharp. When I took a photo of a flowing brook using this setting (the on-screen instructions ask you to hold still for a second), it kept the surrounding rocks in focus while blurring the flowing water. It did the same thing with my fountain shot: the water is blurred, but the fountain and surrounding detail are sharp. I tried it in the train station, and it turned rushing commuters into streaks while, in the background, a man who stood still was clear as day. Again, the process of creating these effects takes a moment, and I wonder if a newer Tensor chip (the G2 is almost a year old, after all), might make quicker work of these operations.

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Google Pixel Fold (2023) photo samples

Google Pixel Fold Long Exposure in the train station (Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)
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Google Pixel Fold (2023) photo samples

Google Pixel Fold Long Exposure on the street (Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)
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Google Pixel Fold (2023) photo samples

Google Pixel Fold Long Exposure on the street (Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)
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Google Pixel Fold (2023) photo samples

Google Pixel Fold Long Exposure with a flowing brook (Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)
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Google Pixel Fold (2023) photo samples

Google Pixel Fold Long Exposure at a fountain (Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)

You can shoot a selfie, even in portrait mode, with the 9MP inside camera or the 8MP one on the cover screen, but Google also makes it possible to shoot selfies with the Pixel Fold's best camera.

First, you unfold the device and then open the Camera app. Below the 'switch camera' icon is an option that lets you switch camera display screens. Once you do that, the cover screen becomes the camera viewfinder and, because the Pixel Fold is open, you're staring at the rear camera array. It's not the smoothest process, and it's basically impossible to hold the device this way with just one hand and take the shot, unless you add one more step and set up the gesture-activated timer mode.

To do so, I had to set the timer for three seconds, and then hold up one hand until a yellow box appeared on screen around it, which initiated the timer. I could then lower my hand, and the Pixel Fold would take a perfect selfie.

Complicated? Sure. Useful? Absolutely.

Virtually all flagship phones offer some form of astrophotography, and the Pixel Fold is no different; however the double act of Nightscape photography and Tabletop mode is something special. I was able to set up the phone with the screen folded but not fully closed, so the main camera was pointed at the night sky, and then fiddle with the on-screen settings to get a perfectly still starscape, without the need to hold the phone and try to stand still for six seconds, or use a tripod.

The shot below was taken with the 5x optical zoom and a six-second exposure.

Google Pixel Fold (2023) night sky photo

Zoom into this photo if you can to see what seems like a million stars (Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)
  • Camera score: 4.5/5

Camera samples

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Google Pixel Fold (2023) photo samples

(Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)
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Google Pixel Fold (2023) photo samples

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Google Pixel Fold (2023) photo samples

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Google Pixel Fold (2023) photo samples

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Google Pixel Fold (2023) photo samples

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Google Pixel Fold (2023) photo samples

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Google Pixel Fold (2023) photo samples

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Google Pixel Fold (2023) photo samples

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Google Pixel Fold (2023) photo samples

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Google Pixel Fold (2023) photo samples

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Google Pixel Fold (2023) photo samples

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Google Pixel Fold (2023) photo samples

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Google Pixel Fold (2023) photo samples

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Google Pixel Fold (2023) photo samples

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Google Pixel Fold (2023) photo samples

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Google Pixel Fold (2023) photo samples

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Google Pixel Fold (2023) photo samples

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Google Pixel Fold (2023) photo samples

(Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)

Google Pixel Fold performance and specs

  • Packs Google's aging Tensor G2 chip
  • Perhaps a step behind the latest Qualcomm Snapdragon
  • 12GB of RAM, starts at 256GB of storage 

Inside the Google Pixel Fold is the zippy Google Tensor G2, the same chip that powers the Google Pixel 7. This is a capable and powerful mobile CPU, although with a Tensor G3 expected in a few months (maybe in the Pixel 8) we have to wonder why Google's first foldable didn't get what's set be Google's most cutting-edge silicon.

In general, though, there's almost no evidence that the chip is slowing anything down. Every game, app, and web operation I performed was smooth and instantaneous. Photo-editing operations and tricks like Long Exposure took a beat to render, though. Perhaps that's down to the G2, or maybe that's how long the likes of Magic Eraser and Long Exposure would take on any mobile platform.

Google Pixel Fold

The Google Pixel Fold has no trouble running action games (Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)

Google pairs the Tensor G2 with a healthy 12GB RAM and its Titan M2 security coprocessor.

Benchmark scores put the Pixel Fold slightly behind the Galaxy Z Fold 4 and its Qualcomm Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1, while gaming benchmarks, specifically the ones that look at frames per second, put it somewhat behind Qualcomm's latest chips. However, in my gameplay experience across Asphalt 9: Legends and Call of Duty Mobile, I didn't notice a difference. There was no stuttering or tearing, and everything looked great and was highly responsive, so much so that I was MVP during my first round of Call of Duty.

This is also a 5G phone, though without a test SIM I wasn't able to test its cellular operations. It also supports WiFi 6e, which means I had fast and reliable connections at home and in the office.

As for audio performance, there are stereo speakers that can go pretty loud – and immersive, thanks to spatial audio support – without any distortion. The three microphones, meanwhile, are so sensitive that when I barely whispered "Hey, Google…" the phone heard me and awaited my instructions.

  • Performance score: 4.5/5

Google Pixel Fold software

  • Android 13
  • Google knows how to fold
  • Seamless multitasking
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Google Pixel Fold

The Google Pixel Fold can multitask, with apps interacting (Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)
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Google Pixel Fold

Running the camera alongside another app is no problem (Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)
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Google Pixel Fold

Tabletop mode made video conferencing easy (Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)

What matters here, though, is not the speeds and feeds of this phone but, for me at least, how Google's first foldable uses Android 13, and the Fold's small outside and big inside screens, to maximum effect.

Many of Google's core apps, like Maps, Gmail, Photos, Home, and Drive, have been redesigned for the folding-screen environment (as have some third-party ones like Netflix). Mail, for instance, converts from a single-column experience on the cover screen to a dual column on the main screen that puts your mail list on the left and opens each email in a pane on the right. It's all smart and, honestly, what you would expect.

Multitasking is a strong suit here. As I mentioned, it's easy to drag and drop one app to open alongside another on the main screen, although I do wish I could add a third app on top of those two.

When you have two apps open side-by-side you can drag and drop between them. I opened Gmail and Google Photos, and to add a photo to an email I was composing I simply tapped and held my finger on the image until a little thumbnail appeared, then dragged it over to the compose screen on the left. Nothing could be easier.

The best way to describe my overall experience with the Google Pixel Fold software environment is that it was pleasant surprise. Everything looks so good, and works so well together.

  • Software score: 4.5/5

Google Pixel Fold battery life

  • 4,727mAh 
  • Laster 15 hours
  • Supply your own charging adapter

Google Pixel Fold

Extreme Battery Saver mode can extend the life a charge, but you do lose the use of some apps and notifications (Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)

I did what I could to stress-test the Pixel Fold's ample 4,727mAh battery, pushing screen brightness to max, not letting the screen sleep before 30 minutes had elapsed, and playing action games, watching videos, browsing the web and holding multiple, lengthy video conference calls (colleagues said I sounded good, but looked a little less sharp than I normally do through my MacBook Air (M2) FaceTime camera).

After wirelessly charging the Pixel Fold on my Qi charging base, I grabbed the phone at 7am and used it almost continuously until 10pm when it ran out of juice. I did not, when it prompted me at 10% battery life, let it switch to Extreme Battery Saver mode because that would have paused my apps.

  • Battery score: 4.5/5

Google Pixel Fold score card

Should I buy the Google Pixel Fold?

Google Pixel Fold

Google Pixel Fold (Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)

Buy it if...

Don't buy it if...

Google Pixel Fold review: also consider

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4
The Galaxy Z Fold 4 is a do-everything device that presents few compromises, and it's great for photography, multitasking, and watching Netflix. However, the high price might put off some potential buyers.

Read our full Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 review

Motorola Razr Plus 
The Motorola Razr Plus / Razr 40 Ultra is a major evolutionary step for smartphones, going beyond what any previous flip or foldable phone has offered.

Read our full Motorola Razr Plus

How I tested the Google Pixel Fold

I embarked on an entertaining walking tour through New York's Central Park with a test device, during which I took lots of photos, and carried out an additional five days of testing with my Google-provided Pixel Fold test unit. 

I carried the Fold with me every day, and used it as often as possible, including on the train, where I tethered it to my iPhone 14 Pro. I shot photos in a variety of environments and situations, and edited the photos with available tools on the device.

While I spent a lot of time using productivity and information apps on the Pixel Fold, I have to admit that I spent an almost equal amount of time playing games and watching videos. It's just such a fun device to use – there's nothing like having a tablet hidden in your pocket.

We ran GeekBench 6 and other benchmarks on the phone at Future Labs, and I combined that information with my anecdotal performance results.

Read more about how we test

First reviewed June 2023

Xiaomi 13 Lite review – the Civi’s new suit
10:32 pm | March 10, 2023

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets | Tags: , , | Comments: Off

Xiaomi 13 Lite: Two-minute preview

Xiaomi had a lot to shout about at its February 26 launch event in Barcelona. Most notably, the Xiaomi 13 and Xiaomi 13 Pro made their international debut after having previously launched exclusively in China, late last year. There was, however, one additional surprise entrant in tow that, prior to this, we'd heard very little about – the Xiaomi 13 Lite.

At a glance, the Lite is a bit of an oddball, an outlier in the Xiaomi 13 series. For one, it doesn't get any special Leica treatment like its series siblings – with regards to its triple rear sensor setup. It also looks very different compared to both the Xiaomi 13 and 13 Pro, with their sizeable squared rear camera bump.

In truth, the phone clearly takes its design cues from the previous Xiaomi 12 series more so than the company's current flagship line and there's a particular device, already within Xiaomi's portfolio, that bears more than a passing resemblance to the new 13 Lite.

It would seem that the Xiaomi 13 Lite looks to be a repackaged Xiaomi Civi 2, which debuted in China in the latter half of 2022. The Xiaomi 13 Lite sports the same slim and lightweight design, runs on the same Snapdragon 7 Gen 1 chipset, and boasts the same specialist features; like dual front-facing LED flashes to offer what the company calls 'Xiaomi Selfie Glow'.

In fact, despite running on Android 12 – while the Xiaomi 13 and 13 Pro arrive with Android 13 – the Xiaomi 13 Lite does join them on the company's latest MIUI 14 user experience.

While there's no Leica involvement in the camera system, the main 50MP sensor still looks to be an impressive offering at first blush (it's the same Sony IMX766 found in the likes of the Xiaomi 12), while the secondary 8MP ultrawide and 2MP macro look a little more pedestrian and expected, considering the phone's mid-range standing.

In a decidedly iPhone 14 Pro-style move, the front 32MP camera is accompanied by a secondary 8MP depth sensor that together sit within a pill-shaped cutout in the top center of the display in a way that screams 'Dynamic Island'. However, don't expect iOS-like functionality here.

In truth, the design may be Lite's biggest selling point. Despite sitting in the middle of the Xiaomi 13 series in terms of screen size, at 6.55-inches (in between the Xiaomi 13's 6.36-inch display and the 13 Pro's 6.73-inch display), the 13 Lite is both notably thinner at 7.2mm (versus 8mm or 8.4mm) and lighter, at 171 grams (versus 185 grams and 210 grams, respectively).

Even with that snatched waistline, the 13 Lite still manages to sequester the same 4,500mAh capacity battery as the standard Xiaomi 13, along with the same 67W fast wired charging. What you do lose out on is any form of wireless charging tech. However, with a full charge promised in 40 minutes, that seems like a minor hardship.

Provided you don't need flagship performance or camera prowess, the 13 Lite looks to be a capable-enough mid-ranger, with some unique touches in an attractive, lightweight design. You'll have to check back for a full assessment though.

In the meantime, read on for more insights into what the Xiaomi 13 Lite has to offer and why not check out our hands-on Xiaomi 13 review and hands-on Xiaomi 13 Pro review, as well as a rundown of the best Xiaomi phones currently out there.

Hands-on Xiaomi 13 Lite review: Price and availability

The Xiaomi Civi 2 made its debut in China back in late September 2022, while the Xiaomi 13 and 13 Pro arrived later to the region, on December 11.

Fast-forward to Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain on February 26 2023, where the Xiaomi 13 series' international launch then took place; with the 13 and 13 Pro making their way to market internationally on March 14. The Xiaomi 13 Lite, meanwhile, was confirmed to be on sale on the same date of its reveal: February 26.

With Xiaomi's mobile endeavors absent from the US and Australia, you'll only be able to get a Xiaomi 13 Lite as an import or via a grey market retailer in those regions. However, the phone is readily available direct from Xiaomi across the UK and Europe, priced at £449 / €499 (approximately $535 / AU$810) for the single storage and memory configuration it's being made available in, internationally.

Hands-on Xiaomi 13 Lite review: Specs

Xiaomi 13 Lite hands on side buttons

(Image credit: Future | Alex Walker-Todd)

If you're already familiar with the Civi 2, you'll notice that for the phone's adaptation into the Xiaomi 13 Lite for international release, the company has stripped back both the colorways and storage and memory configurations available.

While the Civi 2 could be had with 8GB or 12GB of RAM and 128GB or 256GB of non-expandable storage, the 13 Lite comes with a fixed 8GB RAM and 128GB storage – UFS 2.2 storage at that, far slower than the UFS 4.0 storage found on its more premium launch siblings.

You'll also find a choice of three colors internationally: black, Lite Blue, and Lite Pink, whereas the Civi 2 was made available to Chinese customers in those same three colors, alongside a "Little White Dress" version with a different surface finish, in white and a Hello Kitty special edition, with photochromic elements on its back that change from white to red.

Hands-on Xiaomi 13 Lite review: Design

Xiaomi 13 Lite hands on side

(Image credit: Future | Alex Walker-Todd)
  • Gorilla Glass 5 front, glass back, plastic frame
  • Impressively thin and lightweight
  • Three colorways on international model

The defining element of the Xiaomi 13 and 13 Pro has to be their sizeable squircle camera bumps, which sit proudly on each phone's back and stand out in contrast with a plain of flat glass, colored black.

By comparison, the Xiaomi 13 Lite's camera design is wholly different and far closer to the look of the Xiaomi 12 line; with color-matched surround around each sensor, and small dividing lines carving up the various sections of the module.

While the 13 and 13 Pro stand in contrast to one another with the former's flat-sided design to the latter's rounded edges, the 13 Lite's form also more closely echoes the Pro in this regard, with a thin frame, tapered Gorilla Glass 5 on the front, and a rounded glass back.

One of the Lite's big selling points is its thin and pocket-friendly 7.23mm profile, but the rounding at the point where the glass meets the frame gives the impression that the device is even thinner, especially in the hand. The Lite is also pleasingly... light for its size, at 171 grams, no doubt made possible by the material choices.

Unlike the original Civi, the Civi 2 and, in turn, the Xiaomi 13 Lite, rely on a shiny plastic frame instead of a metal one. During my first encounter with the phone, it looked fine, although the quality of the finish and the material's reflectivity give away the game a little bit, in terms of a lesser fit and finish compared to the phone's launch siblings.

However, the real concern is how the plastic will weather and wear after prolonged use. For a design-led phone like the Xiaomi 13 Lite, you'd hope that general use doesn't cause disproportionate wear and tear on the frame that would have been far less noticeable had Xiaomi stuck with metal, but only time will tell in that regard.

While the frame plays host to hardware controls along the right side and USB-C connectivity on the bottom, as you'd expect, an IR blaster set into the top of the frame was an unexpected surprise that even amongst phones from Chinese manufacturers, appears to be a less and less common inclusion.

As for finish options, as touched on earlier, while 13 Lite owners won't get as much choice as Civi 2 owners in China did – in terms of colorways – the trio of finishes that most markets will receive remains tasteful; the Lite Pink shown in these pictures gets a special commendation for its alluring iridescence.

Hands-on Xiaomi 13 Lite review: Display

Xiaomi 13 Lite hands on front camera

(Image credit: Future | Alex Walker-Todd)
  • 6.55-inch Full HD+ AMOLED display
  • 120Hz refresh rate. 240Hz touch sampling rate
  • Dual hole-punch cutout front cameras

Despite being the 'baby' of the bunch, the Xiaomi 13 Lite's 6.55-inch display actually places it between the standard and Pro models – in terms of screen size – while the tech specs of the panel aren't too dissimilar from the pricier Xiaomi 13.

On initial inspection, the Full HD+ AMOLED display offers pleasing colors and viewing angles, and competent-enough brightness, although its promised peak 1,000nits is almost half that of both the 13 and 13 Pro (both of which are cited as boasting a 1,900nit ceiling), meaning visibility in bright surroundings leaves plenty of room for improvement.

Gamers will appreciate the smooth 120Hz refresh rate and 240Hz touch response rate, while media lovers aren't likely to balk at the 10-bit panel's support for Dolby Vision and HDR10+ standards, as well as the full DCI-P3 color gamut.

The use of OLED tech over LCD – which occasionally still crops up in the mid-range market – makes for better contrast, more vivid visuals, and improved power efficiency, while Xiaomi's use of 1,920PWM dimming and assistive viewing tools, like a dedicated reading mode, should make it easier on the eye, in terms of viewer comfort.

There's an optical under-display fingerprint sensor for security and up top, a decidedly Dynamic Island-like pill-shaped cutout that plays host to two front-facing camera sensors. The user experience doesn't give the cutout any iPhone 14 Pro-like additional functionality, though (leave that to Realme's C55).

Hands-on Xiaomi 13 Lite review: Software

Xiaomi 13 Lite hands on front straight

(Image credit: Future | Alex Walker-Todd)
  • Runs Android 12 on top of Xiaomi MIUI 14 out the box
  • 2 years security updates minimum

While the shift from the Civi 2 to the Xiaomi 13 Lite may seem slight, one notable change comes with the phone's software. To keep the 13 Lite feeling fresh, Xiaomi has graced the phone with the latest and greatest iteration of its own-brand user experience, MIUI 14.

Although the 13 Lite comes running Android 12 out the box – while the Xiaomi 13 and 13 Pro arrive with Android 13 – all three phones sport MIUI 14 from the get-go, which maintains the company's signature take on Android from an interaction perspective, but includes a few new additions too.

There's a new card-like interface to make select on-screen information more digestible and glanceable, while behind the scenes MIUI 14 reportedly takes up less space and fewer resources than MIUI 13 did, all while adding improvements to privacy and performance optimization that promise to improve the 13 Lite's quality of life.

Unlike its launch siblings, Xiaomi hasn't yet confirmed just how long the Xiaomi 13 Lite will benefit from software support, leading us to assume that it simply receives the company's bare minimum of two years of security updates. However, we've reached out to Xiaomi to confirm, and the hope is that Lite's software roadmap is much closer to the Xiaomi 13 and 13 Pro, which each come with three years of OS updates and five years of security updates. We'll update this section should we hear anything new.

Hands-on Xiaomi 13 Lite review: Cameras

Xiaomi 13 Lite hands on XIaomi Selfie Glow dual front flash

(Image credit: Future | Alex Walker-Todd)
  • Dual front-facing cameras with dual LED 'Xiaomi Selfie Glow' flashes
  • 50MP f/1.8 main camera (Sony IMX766)
  • 8MP f/2.2, 119° FoV ultrawide camera
  • 2MP f/2.4 (4cm fixed-focus) macro camera

Unfortunately, the promise of cameraphone supremacy that Xiaomi says it's achieved with the Leica partnership found on the Xiaomi 13 and 13 Pro doesn't carry across to the Lite, which features a more pedestrian sensor setup.

It leads with the same 50MP Sony IMX766 sensor used by the Xiaomi 12, whose camera experience we only described as "okay" during review, backed up by an 8MP ultrawide and a 2MP fixed-focus macro that undoubtedly add variety to the phone's photographic experience, but not necessarily quality.

It's really the front camera system that perhaps has had the most attention paid to it. There's a 32MP main selfie-snapper accompanied by an 8MP depth sensor, that undoubtedly comes into play when taking portrait selfies; hoping to achieve a luxurious creamy bokeh around your face.

There are two neat tricks twinned with the phone's front-facing photographic experience: one hardware and one software. Xiaomi Selfie Glow is the branding used for the dual LED flash array, mounted on either side of the front camera; meant to offer superior illumination when taking selfies in dimly-lit environments. The flashes' offset position should help reduce the hard point-light effect that some front-facing selfies taken with the flash on fall prey to.

Second is Dynamic Framing, which can push from 1x to 0.8x to 0.6x zoom automatically, when shooting with the front camera, depending on how many subjects the phone detects in-frame, partly. It's made possible by the selfie snapper's wide 100° field of view.

Hands-on Xiaomi 13 Lite review: Performance and audio

Xiaomi 13 Lite hands on back handheld

The Xiaomi 13 uses USB-C (Image credit: Future | Alex Walker-Todd)
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 7 Gen 1 chipset
  • 8GB RAM and 128GB storage (UFS 2.2)
  • Dolby Atmos

Qualcomm's Snapdragon 7 Gen 1 chipset is a relatively unknown quantity in the wider phone space, as it's only really used by the Xiaomi Civi 2 / Xiaomi 13 Lite and the Chinese version of the Oppo Reno 8 Pro. It comes from pedigree, however, and should prove more than capable for most users' needs, including playing high-fidelity games (even if maximum graphical settings are likely out of reach).

In bringing the 13 Lite to global audiences, not unlike colorways, Xiaomi has seen fit to strip back the memory and storage options to just one, compared to two of each on the Civi 2 in China.

As such, the Xiaomi 13 Lite comes with 8GB RAM and 128GB of non-expandable UFS 2.2 storage. While fine for general use, it's notably older and slower storage tech, compared to the cutting-edge UFS 4.0-compliant storage found on the flagship-class Xiaomi 13 and 13 Pro.

The audio experience doesn't make mention of stereo speakers, and at the event where we went hands-on with the phone, we were unable to properly test the phone's sound quality against the din of the crowds but Xiaomi does, at least, promise Dolby Atmos support, which provides a baseline that suggests audio quality isn't a total afterthought on the 13 Lite.

Hands-on Xiaomi 13 Lite review: Battery life

Xiaomi 13 Lite hands on back angled

(Image credit: Future | Alex Walker-Todd)
  • 4,500mAh battery
  • 67W wired fast charging
  • No wireless charging support

Despite touting such a thin and lightweight design, the Xiaomi 13 Lite manages to integrate the same 4,500Mah capacity battery as the far-thicker Xiaomi 13 and, better yet, matches its promisingly-speedy 67W wired charging speeds.

One notable trade-off for such a thin profile is that wireless charging is out of the question here, but with a full charge promised in under 40 minutes, having wired charging as your only option doesn't seem so bad.

First tested February 2023

It’s official: Nothing Phone (2) will use a Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 series chipset
11:58 pm | February 28, 2023

Author: admin | Category: Mobile phones news | Tags: | Comments: Off

Nothing didn't want to be left out of the media spotlight this week what with all the announcements happening at MWC in Barcelona, so it started its teaser campaign for the upcoming Phone (2) in earnest. We're expecting to be drip-fed tidbits of information about the new device over the next few weeks or months, since that's a strategy that Nothing CEO Carl Pei loves and has employed many times before, including at OnePlus before founding Nothing. It all starts with the chipset. The Nothing Phone (2) will use Qualcomm's Snapdragon 8 series. Nothing Phone (1) Unfortunately the...

Xiaomi 13 Pro review – a camera-led flagship for the world
7:01 pm | February 26, 2023

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets | Tags: , | Comments: Off

Xiaomi 13 Pro: Two-minute preview

The wait felt long but Xiaomi is finally bringing its latest flagship line – the Xiaomi 13 series – to international markets. The best phones on the global stage, like the iPhone 14 Pro Max and Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra, have a new contender to worry about; one that doesn't mess around, based on my initial time with the Xiaomi 13 Pro.

Although it's intended as a direct successor to Xiaomi 12 Pro, one of the 13 Pro's biggest selling points (that new Leica-branded camera system) is actually a direct continuation of the technology first seen in the China-exclusive Xiaomi 12S Ultra that we encountered later into 2022, in August.

Our first taste of the company's newly-minted relationship with the optical wizards at Leica, mated with Sony's sizeable 1-inch IMX989 sensor and Xiaomi's own image processing, proved to be a recipe for success; impressing reviewer Basil Kronfli, who described the 12S Ultra as "the best camera phone I've used."

A photo of the Xiaomi 12s Ultra smartphone

Xiaomi 12S Ultra paired Leica optics with a 1-inch Sony sensor. (Image credit: Basil Kronfli / TechRadar)

With such lofty praise, the 12S Ultra's absence from the international market felt like a crying shame, making the Xiaomi 13 Pro's fresh international release all the more significant.

That killer camera setup, features a trio of 50MP rear sensors, including a 3.2x telephoto with a floating lens arrangement. The Xiaomi 13 Pro also comes with a ceramic-backed body, plus Qualcomm's latest and greatest Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 mobile chipset, with faster and more efficient memory and storage than its predecessor.

For charging, we get the same impressive 120W wired, 50W wireless and 10W reverse wireless charging as before, but this time paired to a larger, 4,820mAh battery. Nice.

Although the verdict is still out on whether this is one of the best Android phones of the year, it certainly has the makings of a great flagship device, one that I can't wait to sink my teeth into for a full review, so don't forget to check back soon for a final verdict.

In the meantime, read on for my hands-on experiences with the Xiaomi 13 Pro, and if you're curious about its smaller-but-still-potent launch sibling, we also have a hands-on Xiaomi 13 review for you to enjoy too.

Hands-on Xiaomi 13 Pro review: Price and availability

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Xiaomi 13 review with Xiaomi 13 Pro backs angled

The Xiaomi 13 (left) launched alongside the Xiaomi 13 Pro (right) at MWC 2023 (Image credit: Future | Alex Walker-Todd)
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Xiaomi 13 review with Xiaomi 13 Pro cameras closeup

(Image credit: Future | Alex Walker-Todd)
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Xiaomi 13 review with Xiaomi 13 Pro front angled

(Image credit: Future | Alex Walker-Todd)
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Xiaomi 13 review with Xiaomi 13 Pro front straight

(Image credit: Future | Alex Walker-Todd)
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Xiaomi 13 review with Xiaomi 13 Pro USB C

(Image credit: Future | Alex Walker-Todd)

Both the Xiaomi 13 and Xiaomi 13 Pro were first unveiled for the Chinese market back on December 11 2022, however, fans globally have had to wait until the Mobile World Congress trade show in Barcelona, Spain, where on February 26, the phones released globally, accompanied by the addition of the Xiaomi 13 Lite.

Although a global release, with Xiaomi's absence from the US and Australian markets, you likely won't see the phones available unless purchased through gray market channels in each region.

Prospects in the UK are (ironically) sunnier for the Xiaomi 13 Pro's availability, with Xiaomi itself, along with 'official retail channels' and local retailers, like Currys and Argos, stocking the phone from March 14.

In the UK, the Xiaomi 13 Pro is priced at £1,099 (approximately $1,310 / AU$1,950), undercutting the aforementioned iPhone 14 Pro Max and S23 Ultra by £100 and £150, respectively, but falling short of the recently-released OnePlus 11, which packs the same chipset and relies on the expertise of Hasselblad for its camera credentials instead of Leica.

For context, the standard Xiaomi 13 costs £849 (approximately $1,015 / AU$1,510) and the Xiaomi 13 Lite comes in at £449 (approximately $535 / AU$800), in the UK.

Hands-on Xiaomi 13 Pro review: Specs

Xiaomi 13 Pro review front straight

(Image credit: Future | Alex Walker-Todd)

In China, you'll find the Xiaomi 13 Pro with more memory (8GB or 12GB), storage (128GB / 256GB / 512GB) and finish (blue or ceramic white, black or green) variations than the rest of the world, while most international markets serve the phone up with 12GB of RAM and either 256GB or 512GB of storage, along with ceramic white or black finishes. UK buyers only have a single 12GB RAM, 256GB storage option in ceramic black to choose from, but I'm not complaining.

Why Xiaomi pairs down the variety of 13 Pros customers can opt for overseas – especially in the UK – is unclear, but at a guess it's that the company can't guarantee sales in the same way it can in its homeland.

Like the Galaxy S23 series, the Xiaomi 13 Pro also benefits from the latest in memory and storage technology; with faster and more power efficient LPDDR5X RAM and UFS 4.0 storage (up from LPDDR5 and UFS 3.1 on the Xiaomi 12 Pro).

Hands-on Xiaomi 13 Pro review: Design

Xiaomi 13 Pro review back angled

(Image credit: Future | Alex Walker-Todd)
  • Elegant ceramic finish
  • Sizeable camera bump
  • Fingerprint magnet

Unlike previous generations, the Xiaomi 13 series isn't quite as consistent across models, aesthetically speaking.

The 13 and 13 Pro both sport a pillowed back (hewn from Gorilla Glass in the case of the 13 and ceramic in the case of the Pro), as well as a prominent squircle Leica-branded camera bump. And what a bump it is; the Pro's, in particular, has to make room for that huge 1-inch sensor and two OIS systems, meaning it rises high off the phone's back.

In truth, it's unapologetic, which I admire, and while it perhaps doesn't look quite as elegant as the Xiaomi 12 series' camera modules, it's an undeniable statement; representing the phone's power and photographic prowess.

The 13 and 13 Pro also stand apart from one another with the latter's use of a rounded aluminum frame (not unlike the OnePlus 11), to the standard model's decidedly iPhone 14-like flat polished edging. Oddly enough, the Xiaomi 13 Lite most closely emulates Xiaomi 12 series design language out of the three new phones.

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Xiaomi 13 Pro review angled camera bump

One heck of a hump. (Image credit: Future | Alex Walker-Todd)
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Xiaomi 13 Pro review side camera bump

(Image credit: Future | Alex Walker-Todd)
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Xiaomi 13 Pro review fingerprint smudges

Keep your polishing cloth close... (Image credit: Future | Alex Walker-Todd)
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Xiaomi 13 Pro review USB-C

The elliptical speaker grille resembles an audio waveform. (Image credit: Future | Alex Walker-Todd)
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Xiaomi 13 Pro review top angled

One of the few phones that still features an IR blaster, to control your TV, aircon and more. (Image credit: Future | Alex Walker-Todd)
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Xiaomi 13 Pro review side buttons

Hardware buttons all fall on the phone's right side. (Image credit: Future | Alex Walker-Todd)
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Xiaomi 13 Pro review back straight

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Xiaomi 13 Pro review fingerprint sensor

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Xiaomi 13 Pro review USB C straight

(Image credit: Future | Alex Walker-Todd)

The ceramic black back (pictured) of the 13 Pro is cool to the touch, while its rounded form makes this fairly large phone sit comfortably in the hand; although that polished finish is no-less susceptible to fingerprints and smudges than glass (even the included flexible transparent case holds onto them too).

At 229 grams, the Xiaomi 13 Pro is a heavy device too – even for its size. Sure, it's not as weighty as the S23 Ultra (234 grams) or the latest Pro Max iPhone (240 grams) but it's in the same ballpark, for sure. It's rounded form is IP68 dust and water resistant too, which is appreciated.

Although more colorways would be welcome, the fact that it's only available in black in the UK isn't all that bad, as it best complements that large camera bump and serves up the most tasteful appearance overall (fingerprints permitting), in my opinion.

Hands-on Xiaomi 13 Pro review: Display

Xiaomi 13 Pro review MIUI 14 software

(Image credit: Future | Alex Walker-Todd)
  • 6.73-inch 'AdaptiveSync Pro' AMOLED display w/ exceptional brightness and viewing angles
  • Dynamic 1Hz to 120Hz refresh rate. 240Hz touch sampling rate
  • Gorilla Glass Victus front

Brightness was one of the big wins for the Xiaomi 12 Pro's display,  especially during video playback, and that's what's seen the biggest upgrade. The Xiaomi 13 Pro's screen now tops out at a beaming 1,900nits, up from 1,500 previously.

To the eye, while brightness is undeniably impressive, I was also surprised by the screen's exceptional viewing angles, which appear to show minimal brightness drop-off or color distortion, even at extreme angles.

Beyond these key traits, the 13 Pro serves up a viewing experience similar to its predecessor, set behind a layer of protective Gorilla Glass Victus.

The 6.73-inch 20:9 E6 AMOLED 'AdaptiveSync Pro' display boasts a dynamic 1Hz to 120Hz refresh rate, with a 240Hz touch sampling rate that's ideal for gaming. The WQHD+ resolution at this size also ensures that it's sharper than most rivals' screens, with a pixel density of 522ppi.

Xiaomi's MIUI software also serves up plenty of control over the viewing experience, which itself is flexible enough to support various display standards; from Dolby Vision to HDR10+. What's more, it comes with SGS Eye Care certification, which means the 13 Pro's screen is equipped to ensure less eye fatigue than some competitors' displays (likely possible through included technologies like its 1920PWM dimming and adaptive reading mode).

There's also a perfectly responsive optical in-display fingerprint sensor, however, the face unlock enabled by the punch-hole in the top-center of the screen is even more eager to unlock the phone at some impressive angles and distances.

Hands-on Xiaomi 13 Pro review: Software

Xiaomi 13 Pro review front angled on stand

(Image credit: Future | Alex Walker-Todd)
  • Runs Android 13 on top of Xiaomi MIUI 14 out the box
  • 3 years of OS updates, 5 years security updates
  • Duplicate apps aim to add value

Xiaomi's MIUI has long pulled away from the established Android user experience you'll find on phones like Google's own Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro, with a layout and behavior that, on the surface, is more reminiscent of Apple's iOS.

Swiping down from the top right reveals the quick settings menu, while pulling from the top left corner brings in your notifications. There's no apps drawer by default, and Xiaomi also favors three-button navigation as standard. However, both of these interface choices can be reverted, to reinstate the drawer and favor gestures instead, by altering settings.

In fact, MIUI 14 running atop Android 13, as it comes on the Xiaomi 13 Pro, is heaped in customization; with a theme store that can change everything from the wallpaper to apps icons, plus the ability to swap out UI animations and more.

Xiaomi 13 Pro review quick settings

Is that you Control Center? (Image credit: Future | Alex Walker-Todd)

There are also a fair number of third- and first-party apps that stand alongside the expected gamut of Google apps, including Chrome, Google Photos, Google Maps and the like. The third-party entries, for the most part, feel like spam (I don't need at my beck and call), but can thankfully be uninstalled.

As for the first-party apps, while there are a fair number of duplicate offerings to Google's pre-installed suite of service, Xiaomi does try to offer a little added value. Xiaomi's web browser, for example, has a number a nice additional features not found on Chrome, like a built-in video downloader.

Xiaomi 13 Pro review optimizer software

(Image credit: Future | Alex Walker-Todd)

There are also characterful elements that add a little zest to what is otherwise and conventional user experience, like the way storage used is represented by a virtual liquid that sloshes around on-screen and reacts to how you move and rotate the phone in your hand.

Xiaomi's also continuing its respectable commitment to software support for its flagship devices, and both the Xiaomi 13 and Xiaomi 13 Pro arrive with up to three years of subsequent OS release updates and five years of security updates. That's on-par with Google Pixel and a year less than Samsung and OnePlus, in terms of OS support, but still, pretty good.

Hands-on Xiaomi 13 Pro review: Cameras

Xiaomi 13 Pro review camera closeup

(Image credit: Future | Alex Walker-Todd)
  • First Leica-branded triple rear camera setup for Xiaomi, globally
  • 50MP f/1.9 main camera w/ OIS, Sony IMX989 1-inch sensor and Leica Vario-Summicron ASPH 23mm lens
  • 50MP f/2.0 'floating' telephoto camera w/ OIS and 3.2x optical zoom
  • 50MP f/2.2 ultrawide camera w/ 115° FoV

If you're willing to embrace the Xiaomi 13 Pro's not-insignificant camera bump, you'll be gaining what looks to be a formidable trio of 50MP sensors, tuned in partnership with the camera masters at Leica.

While the Xiaomi 12S Ultra was the first phone to leverage Xiaomi's Leica partnership after the camera company's previous collaboration with Huawei came to an end, the Xiaomi 13 series is the first of the company's devices to launch internationally packing Leica-supported camera tech.

Beyond the branding on the back and the elaborately-named 'Vario-Summicron ASPH' lens setup, Leica's involvement also carries across to the software side of things too. You have the choice of shooting in 'Leica Vibrant' or 'Leica Authentic', with Vibrant pushing contrast and color saturation, while Authentic intended to yield more true-to-life imagery; something I'll be putting to the test come the full review.

What Xiaomi's calling the 'master-lens system' makes picking the right lens for the the intended result easier and more akin to rifling through a bag of physical lenses, while the 'Xiaomi Image Engine' is in place to deliver less shutter lag than previous entries and faster autofocus on subjects, even if they're in motion.

There's also the option to shoot in Pro mode, which allows for 10-bit RAW DNG capture, with color profiles on hand, created by Adobe.

Xiaomi 13 Pro review camera modes

(Image credit: Future | Alex Walker-Todd)

50MP across the board ensures a greater level of consistency when shooting the same scenario using all three of the phone's rear lenses, however, that huge one-inch Sony sensor's ability to combine four pixels into one larger 3.2μm binned-pixel should make for some excellent low light shooting, supported by an OIS (optical image stabilization) system called 'HyperOIS' and an 8P lens configuration for greater clarity and reduced reflectivity.

The 50MP telephoto sensor, with its 3.2x optical zoom, also sounds impressive, thanks to its floating lens construction – which should prove particularly helpful when capturing portrait shots.

There's also 8K video capture at 24fps on the table, along with Dolby Vision-compliant 4K video capture at 30fps, with promised enhancement for recording at night.

It's also worth mentioning that there's a 32MP front-facing punch-hole camera, set into the top of the display, that supports HDR and portrait shooting too.

If it isn't already obvious, the cameras are a huge part of what defines the Xiaomi 13 Pro experience and there's a lot to dig into, for which I'll be serving up camera samples and a complete evaluation come the full review.

Hands-on Xiaomi 13 Pro review: Performance and audio

Xiaomi 13 Pro review performance Game Turbo

The Xiaomi 13 uses USB-C (Image credit: Future | Alex Walker-Todd)
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chipset
  • Connectivity includes the latest Wi-Fi 7 standard
  • Powerful stereo speakers

Both the Xiaomi 13 and 13 Pro run Qualcomm's latest and greatest mobile SoC – the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2. While not the tuned variant exclusive to Samsung's Galaxy S23 series, even in its standard form, it's already proven its potential as one of the best pieces of silicon on the market; offering notable gains in performance, graphics and gaming, and AI computing.

As mentioned earlier, the global 13 Pro can be had with 12GB of LPDDR5X RAM and up to 512GB of UFS 4.0 storage, both of which boast greater read and write speeds, as well as improved power efficiency, compared to the RAM and storage in last year's Xiaomi 12 Pro.

Connectivity includes 5G, with dual SIM support, NFC and support for the latest Wi-Fi 7 standard and speeds.

On the audio side of things, Xiaomi launched the Xiaomi 13 Pro alongside the Buds 4 Pro true wireless buds, which can connect over the phone's Bluetooth 5.3 connection, while integrated stereo speakers boast Dolby Atmos support. In practice, there's a definite bias towards the down-firing speaker, but volume and overall clarity seem strong, based on my initial impressions.

Hands-on Xiaomi 13 Pro review: Battery life

Xiaomi 13 Pro review charger

(Image credit: Future | Alex Walker-Todd)
  • Larger 4,820mAh battery than predecessor
  • 120W wired fast charging (charger in box)
  • 50W wireless and 10W reverse wireless charging support

A lot of the Xiaomi 13 Pro's size and weight presumably comes from the new, high-capacity, higher-density 4,820mAh battery it has to find room for.

Like its predecessor, Xiaomi has seen fit to grace the 13 Pro with an impressive set of numbers when it comes to charging: 120W 'HyperCharge' fast wired charging, plus rapid 50W wireless charging and 10W reverse wireless charging (compatibility permitting) that's collectively faster than pretty much any other phone that supports all three technologies.

Xiaomi quotes a rapid recharge time of only 19 minutes to 100% over wired charging, and the Surge charging chip onboard keeps watch over the recharge process to make sure things stay cool, stable and safe, and battery health over time remains as good as it can be.

By comparison, the standard Xiaomi 13's 67W fast wired charging promises to reach 100% in 38 minutes, which is still very respectable and both entries in the series stand head and shoulders above both Apple's and Samsung's newest flagships, in terms of quote recharge time. As for real-world performance, you won't have to wait long to find out from us whether Xiaomi is true to its word.

First tested February 2023

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra review
6:26 pm | February 25, 2022

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets | Tags: , , , | Comments: Off

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra: Two-minute review

If we were to judge the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra on nothing but its cameras and, in particular, the optical and digitally-enhanced zoom capabilities, we might call it the best smartphone ever.

Or at least, the best phone of 2022. Its successor has since been announced though, so check out our hands-on Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra review for first impressions of that. We also have a hands-on Samsung Galaxy S23 review and a hands-on Samsung Galaxy S23 Plus review.

Of course, even before its successor landed, it wouldn't have been fair to judge the S22 Ultra as the best based on its cameras alone – every handset is the sum of its design, features, components, utility, and value – but taken as a whole, this Samsung Galaxy Series-Galaxy Note hybrid is an excellent, albeit massive Android handset that not only ticks all the important boxes, but delivers more features than you may ever want or use.

The design is an echo of, but also more forward-leaning than, Samsung’s last Note device. It really is a hybrid. There will be no complaints about the ultra-high-resolution, 6.8-inch screen, which offers brilliant colors and smooth motion at 120Hz, but is smart enough to stop down all the way to 1Hz, when that’s all you need, to save on battery life.

The camera array is strong. Sure, it’s not a complete overhaul of the Galaxy S21’s camera system, but that was already pretty darn good. This is arguably better – the Optical and Space Zooms are simply marvels of modern technology.

We also love the thin and light S Pen, and we’re thrilled that it’s finally integrated – literally – into the Galaxy line. It does so many things so well, and for productivity-focused mobile users it could be a godsend.

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra full back

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra's back is black, satin Gorilla Glass Victus+ (Image credit: Future)
Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra Specs

Display: 6.8-inch, Quad HD+
Dimensions: 77.9 x 163.3 x 8.9 mm
Weight: 229G
Screen refresh: 120Hz
Screen brightness: 1750 nits
Glass: Corning Gorilla Glass Victus+
Water resistance: IP68
Selfie camera: 40MP resolution
Main camera: 108MP resolution
Telephoto camera: 2 10MP resolution sensors
Ultrawide: 12MP resolution
Battery: 5000mAh
Memory: 8GB or 12GB available
Storage: 128GB, 256GB, 512GB, or 1TB available

Samsung’s One UI 4.1 software is mostly good, even if it does create some duplication of browsers, photos, and messages apps. Other tools, like Expert Raw, a freely downloadable Samsung app that gives you full access to all the camera controls and lets you capture and save RAW format photos, and the video-conferencing app Google Duo, which both do an excellent job of showing off the phone’s power and versatility, are the real highlights here.

Performance-wise, the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra’s 4nm Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 processor acquits itself nicely (no, it doesn’t beat Apple’s A15 Bionic). The point is, we couldn't find a single app that was sluggish or disappointing on the mobile monolith.

Battery life was more of a mixed bag. We did get a full day of solid use (18 hours or so), but we thought we might get more out of the massive 5,000 mAh battery and high-performance, energy-efficient CPU.

Ultimately, though, this is the kind of device that can make you forget what’s come before it. If you were used to a smaller-screen device, you’ll feel cramped if you ever go back to it. If you struggled in the past to take photos of the moon, you’ll wonder why Apple hasn’t figured this out yet. If you wished that your device had just a little more power to complete those raw image-editing tasks, your wish has been granted.

Part of Samsung’s new S22 lineup, but looking nothing like its siblings, the Galaxy S22 Ultra is to the casual observer a Galaxy Note in a shiny, new coat. It does have a much bigger and bolder camera array (lifted pretty much intact from the S21 Ultra), but it’s otherwise a canny adjustment of the Note aesthetic or, as Samsung might call it, the “Note Experience.” Still, this adjustment leaves it as easily the best Samsung phone.

If you're looking for the perfect Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra audio partner, you may want to check out our Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro review.

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra: Release date and price

  • Starts at $1,199.99 / £1,149 / AU$1,849 for 128GB storage and 8GB of RAM
  • Storage options up to 1TB, no microSD slot for expansion

A device that combines the best of Samsung’s S Series and the Note’s more industrial design and capabilities doesn't come cheap. The Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra starts at $1,199.99 / £1,149 / AU$1,849 for 128GB storage and 8GB of RAM.

There are naturally bigger storage options (that also include more RAM), which can take you all the way to a 1TB model ($1,599.99 / £1,499 / AU$2,449 ). 256GB will run you $1,299,99 / £1,249 / AU$1,999, and 512GB is $1,399.99 / £1,329 / AU$2,149. 

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra

(Image credit: Future)

Choose your storage options wisely, because none of the Samsung Galaxy S22 phones come with a microSD card slot for upgrading your storage space.

The good news is, prices are often lower than that now that the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra is getting on a bit - and they're likely to drop further now that the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra has arrived.

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra: Design and display

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra Screen

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra's AMOLED screen measures 6.8-inches diagonally. (Image credit: Future)
  • Screen is 6.8-inch OLED with WQHD+ resolution
  • Armor Aluminum frame with Gorilla Glass Victus+
  • S Pen housed in a silo in the phone

An inarguably beautiful device, the 6.8-inch Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra – owing to its Note roots – doesn’t look much like the Galaxy S22 Plus. It starts from the original Galaxy Note 10 design but takes it forward with even more premium materials.

The frame is a solid Armor Aluminum that rigidly resists bends. Polished on the outside to a near-chrome finish, the metal is sandwiched between two Corning Gorilla Glass Victus+ plates. The front glass is high-gloss, and the back is a warm satin finish; both do a decent job of repelling fingerprints. The phone’s IP68-rated body also handily resided the water we ran over it.

The above finishes come in seven color options: Phantom Black, Phantom White, Burgundy, Green, Graphite, Sky Blue and Red. The dark green is sexy, but we’ve fallen in love with the inky Phantom Black of our test device.

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Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra

(Image credit: Future)
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Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra

(Image credit: Future)

Did we mention that this is a big phone? Its dimensions are 163.3 x 77.9 x 8.9mm, which is taller than a 6.7-inch Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max, but, somewhat surprisingly, at 229g, lighter than Apple’s biggest handset. Small hands will struggle with the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra. The curved edges make the Galaxy S22 Ultra comfortable to hold, but the lack of edges also makes it feel slippery as a fish – albeit a fish made of hard glass and metal.

There are two flat surfaces, on the top and bottom of the device. The top plane is a mostly unbroken slab of metal, with one tiny drill-through hole for a microphone. The bottom surface houses the SIM slot, USB-C charging port (the phone ships with a USB-C cable but no charging brick- BYOB is a thing now), speaker grille, and the S Pen.

If you’re in any doubt that this is a Note in S Series clothing, you need only to press that slight bump on the base and pop out the familiar and light S Pen. It’s all the things a Samsung S Pen should be, giving up nothing for its new Galaxy S22 Ultra home. More on the stylus later.

The 6.8-inch AMOLED screen is another highlight. It supports up to 3088 x 1440 pixels (WQHD+) resolution, which works out to 500 ppi. The iPhone 13 Pro Max, by contrast, has 458ppi on its 6.7-inch 2778 x 1284 screen. It’s worth noting that the S22 Ultra’s default resolution is 2316 x 1080 (FHD+), which Samsung says uses somewhat less battery life – although halfway through our testing we switched to WQHD+ and didn’t notice much, if any, battery performance loss.

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Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra base

(Image credit: Future)
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Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra edge

(Image credit: Future)
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Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra wet screen

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra wet screen (Image credit: Future)

Everything from games and videos to apps looks fantastic on the display, which now has the ability to smoothly shift from a 1Hz refresh rate all the way up to a butter-smooth 120Hz. Such adaptive technology can be hard to notice because, for instance, 1Hz might be used for the home screen or a word processor, while 120Hz might be called on for gaming.

The point is, when the imagery should be clean and smooth, it is. The lower refresh rates primarily help to conserve battery – there’s no need to update the screen more than a hundred times per second if nothing is moving.

With a peak brightness of 1750 nits and Samsung’s new Vision Booster technology, the screen does a decent job of maintaining visibility even in direct sunlight. Naturally, though, this means the brightness gets turned up to 100%, which will impact your daily battery life.

Hidden under the screen, roughly a third of the way up from the bottom edge, is the effective ultrasonic fingerprint reader. We found it easy to both register a finger and use it to unlock the phone. The other biometric security option is facial recognition, but Samsung warns that this isn’t as secure as other options, like a PIN or fingerprint.

There’s also a small drill hole through the screen for the 40MP front-facing camera.

Put simply, this is a lovely screen for viewing and writing.

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra: Cameras

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra camera array

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra camera array (Image credit: Future)
  • Main camera is 108MP with f/1.8 aperture and an 85-defree FOV
  • Two telephoto lenses with 10MP sensors, one ultrawide 12MP sensor
  • Optical zoom up to 10x, Space Zoom enhanced up to 100x

When people say, “So, it’s basically a new Samsung Galaxy Note, right?” we have to flip over the phone to show them the camera array, which is a dead ringer for the one on the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra. 

Don’t worry, though – this is not some Frankenstein’s monster of smartphone design. Because Samsung has done away with the contour box that popped the whole thing up a millimeter or so above the back of the S21, the S22 Ultra’s array of five lenses looks perfectly at home.

The cameras don’t just look similar – they’re almost the same. There are two 10MP telephoto lenses: one is f/2.4 with a 36-degree field of view (FOV) and the other is f/4.9 with an 11-degree FOV. There’s also a 12MP ultrawide with a 120-degree FOV, and then there’s the 108MP main wide camera (f/1.8) with an 85-degree FOV. 

However, the technology backing these lenses has gotten an upgrade. While the image sensors haven't changed since the S21 Ultra, Samsung has done some work on optical image stabilization, digital image stabilization (for a better Super Steady system), and image processing. The result is better performance from all the lenses, but especially in the zoom arena. 

The Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra’s zoom capabilities simply blow away anything we’ve ever seen before from a mobile phone camera. Obviously, the 3x and 10x optical zoom are not only solid but offer clear images of distant objects with enough clarity that you can crop in on details without seeing much pixelation.

The 30x and especially 100x Space Zoom is where, at least in previous iterations of Samsung’s technology, you’d see significant artifacts in your photos.

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Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra 1x

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra 1x (Image credit: Future)
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Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra 3x

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra 3x (Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)
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Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra 10x

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra 10x (Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)
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Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra 30x space zoom

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra 30x space zoom (Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)
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Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra 100x space zoom

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra 100x space zoom (Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)

Now, however, these images are shockingly good, at least at first glance. Sure, you can’t crop in too much without the images breaking down into a Picasso-like mess, but untouched, these can be perfectly shareable images.

Part of this has to do with the stabilization, which at 100x, basically takes control of the lens and holds a subject (like the moon) in the frame. It can feel a little like you’re no longer in control of the lens, but it does do a good job of countering your shaky hands.

Wide and ultrawide images also benefit from some new pixel sorcery. With the Galaxy S22 Ultra, Samsung introduced Adaptive Pixel. This takes nona-binning (first introduced with the S21 Ultra), which takes nine pixels of information and combines them for better color and contrast, and combines it with the full resolution of the 108MP wide-angle original. That lens also gets an auto-focus assist from what looks like a fifth lens on the back of the phone - it's actually a Laser Auto Focus sensor. If you look closely, you can see the little red laser light peeking out from behind the glass.

Virtually every image we shot looked great, even if we did detect a hint of over-saturation (it wouldn’t be Samsung if they didn’t over-saturate the image).

The front-facing camera, meanwhile, uses tetra-binning to combine four pixels into one for a high-quality 10MP image.

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Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra Nightography selfie

(Image credit: Future)
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Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra Nightography night sky shot

(Image credit: Future)
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Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra long exposure pro camera settings test

(Image credit: Future)

Samsung’s lenses, stabilization, image sensors, and algorithms also make what the company calls ‘Nightography’ possible. While we don’t like the marketing term, the phone’s night-time and low-light photographic skills are clear. It can brighten a night sky to near daytime, capture the moon or your face in poor lighting, and has some long-exposure skills too.

The front and rear cameras do a nice job with portrait photography, courtesy of a Portrait mode that’s getting good enough to separate stray hairs from a bokeh background. Samsung told us this is due, in part, to its new depth map technology. The presets, which include the ability to create a virtual backdrop (a chromakey color is used so that you can easily substitute some other background later) are pretty good, as well.

You can also shoot some high-quality 4K video at 60fps, and up to 8K at 24fps. We were pleased with the results.

We were less impressed with the phone’s Portrait Video capabilities, which come nowhere close to the magic of Apple’s iPhone 13 line’s Cinematic mode video (it needs a face in frame to work). The auto-framing capability, which literally zooms the camera in and out to keep people in frame, doesn’t seem all that useful – we suspect it needs more refinement.

One thing we do appreciate about Samsung’s video shooting capabilities is that, unlike an iPhone, it lets you shoot video, hit pause, and continue shooting while keeping the entire shoot in one video file. Apple should add this feature ASAP.

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra: Camera samples

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Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra Space Zoom photo of almost full moon

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra Space Zoom photo of almost full moon (Image credit: Future)
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Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra Space Zoom shot of the moon through trees

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra Space Zoom shot of the moon through trees (Image credit: Future)
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Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra Space Zoom bird photo

(Image credit: Future)
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Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra sunset photo

(Image credit: Future)
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Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra ultrawide camera photo

(Image credit: Future)
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Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra optical zoom test

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra optical zoom test (Image credit: Future)
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Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra front facing camera Portrait Mode test

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra front facing camera Portrait Mode test (Image credit: Future)
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Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra portrait mode test

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra portrait mode test (Image credit: Future)
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Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra Space Zoom photo Freedom Tower from 3 miles away

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra Space Zoom photo Freedom Tower from 3 miles away (Image credit: Future)
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Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra Pro Camera test full control shutter speed ISO

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra Pro Camera test full control shutter speed ISO (Image credit: Future)

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra: S Pen

  • Very light and versatile
  • Take notes on the lock screen

Aside from the awesome cameras, the main reason you’d spend all that extra dough on a Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra is for the integrated S Pen. The light and versatile stylus is hidden inside the phone’s body; it’s small, thin, and feels so easy to lose that you’ll wish there were magnets in the S Pen and on the body of the S22 Ultra to hold these companions together when you don’t slip the stylus inside the phone.

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra S Pen

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra S Pen (Image credit: Future)

With the S Pen, you can take notes on a lock screen (they’re white ink on a black background), or open the phone and access a slide-in menu of eight customizable options. 

These include taking notes, viewing them, making smart selections of anything on the screen, drawing on a screen capture, live messages, doodling in augmented reality, translations, and PenUp, a community space where you can learn how to draw with the S Pen and share your creations with others. 

All of these features work as advertised, and offer fast ways of grabbing content, marking it up, and sharing with friends and coworkers.

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Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra with S Pen on top

(Image credit: Future)
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Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra drawing with the S Pen

(Image credit: Future)
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Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra S Pen software menu

(Image credit: Future)

In our estimation, the S Pen is a wildly useful implement and, despite its small size (small for this reviewer’s hands anyway), it’s an effective drawing implement. We opened Sketchbook and had a great time drawing, especially because the pen and screen recognize pressure and angle.

The S Pen is also a solid productivity tool. We scrawled some notes in Samsung Notes and then let the system convert the scribbles to real text. It didn’t miss a word.

Overall, there’s a lot you can do with the S Pen, but it also follows the 80/20 rule – most of us will use 20% of the features, 80% of the time.

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra: Software

  • Android 12 with Samsung One UI 4.1
  • Some apps, like Messages, are duplicated with Samsung and Google versions

While the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra is an Android 12 phone - and one of the best Android phones at that - it’s also running One UI 4.1, the latest version of Samsung’s Android interface software. Like most Android overlays, this one isn’t primarily there to enforce a bespoke design aesthetic on top of pure Android; rather, it duplicates some utilities, like the web browser and photos apps, and adds tons of smart software touches and useful tools, like Samsung’s new Wallet, that should enhance the Android experience

Samsung’s onboard photo and video-editing capabilities, for example, are strong. We especially like the ability to magically remove an object from a photo, which worked like a charm on a photo of a dozen donuts – instead of eating them, we just selected them one by one and removed them from the original image. The software did leave behind a few telltale artifacts, but you'd be hard-pressed to tell what was there before we digitally removed a donut.

There’s also a freely downloadable Expert Raw app, which gives you access to all the pro shooting tools (ISO, white balance, focus, shutter speed) and lets you shoot raw images, which we then edited on the phone in Adobe’s Lightroom app.

It’s not great, however, that there’s both a Messages app and a Samsung Messages app. The icons look similar, but they’re two distinct apps. It’s this kind of nonsense that will always keep the Android messaging system slightly behind iOS’s iMessage. We want one system – the new RCS (Rich Communication Services) is fine – and complete cross-app compatibility.

Samsung has made a lot of noise about Google’s updated Google Duo video conferencing utility, which makes its debut on the S22 Ultra, and it does work as advertised. We made a Duo call to a friend, which looked and sounded good on both sides, and then quite effortlessly shared views of our screen, apps like Twitter, and played a YouTube video that we were both able to enjoy.

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra connecting phone to Windows 11

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra connecting phone to Windows 11 (Image credit: Future)

Samsung is also strengthening its partnership with Microsoft, and we had no trouble adding our Microsoft account, which includes OneDrive and the Office Suite. It was also easy to connect the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra to our Windows 11 PC. 

We started the process on the phone, and then we had to visit a URL on the PC (it was supposed to pop up automatically, but didn’t) where we found a QR code. We pointed the S22 Ultra camera at the code, and the phone then guided us through the rest of the set-up process.

With the connection complete, we were able to control our phone through the desktop using our mouse; we even ran Asphalt 9 for a hot second before the connection crashed.

While, in our tests, it wasn’t immediately clear how having these platforms blended in this way benefits the user, we think the ability to quickly access on-phone data, messages, and calls is surely part of the attraction.

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra: Specs and performance

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra with camera app open

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra with camera app open (Image credit: Future)
  • A 4nm processor, Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 in most of the world
  • UK and Australia get Samsung Exynos 2200 chipset

Over almost a week of intense testing, the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra never let us down. It’s a fast and powerful phone. The 4nm processor (in our test phone it’s the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 chipset – UK or Australia will get Samsung’s own Exynos 2200 chipset.) doesn’t outperform Apple’s A15 Bionic in Geekbench benchmarks, but raw numbers never tell the full story.

For what it’s worth, here are the numbers for our device, which shipped with 12GB of memory and 256GB of storage). 

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra Geekbench benchmarks


Single Core: 1236
Multi-Core: 3417

OpenCL Score: 5866 

Apple’s numbers are better, but the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra didn’t feel any slower across all tasks. Perhaps the only situation where we detected a small stutter was on 8K video playback (that’s 8K video that we shot with the very same phone). 

This is also a gorgeous and quite powerful gaming phone, and handled my Asphalt 9 race through Barcelona without a single hiccup.

Call quality was generally excellent. We could hear our caller clearly, and they told us we were coming through equally clear. The 5G performance (we were on T-Mobile in the US) was, by turns, excellent and average – it seemed to depend on how close we were to a decent 5G tower.

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra: Battery life

  • Large 5,000 mAh battery and wireless charging
  • Could not meet our expectations for battery life

Like the Galaxy S21 Ultra, the S22 Ultra features a beefy 5,000mAh battery and wireless charging. In our tests, the battery was good for a full day of varied activity (roughly from 7am to 11pm) but not much more (this was the same for mid-range and high-resolution screen settings). 

We were a little surprised that such a large battery didn’t provide a day and a half of battery life. Perhaps the new 4nm chip isn’t as efficient as Samsung had hoped. 

Samsung Galaxy S22 S Pen

(Image credit: Future)

The phone has a built-in vapor champer and heat-sync material. Even so, we detected some warmth on the back of the phone when performing a variety of tasks, including web browsing, photography, and gaming, for extended periods. We wonder if Samsung might be able to improve battery performance with some software tweaks.

As noted above, the phone doesn't ship with a charger, just the USB-C cable to connect to one – a potential shock for people upgrading from the previous Note. Also, the in-the-box package no longer includes a set of earbuds, and while this at least makes some sense, as the phone no longer has a 3.5mm headphone jack, you start to feel like Samsung is asking for more money while giving you less.

The Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra is probably not for everyone. It’s giant, expensive, and might be overkill for people who simply want a nice screen, decent photos, and a good on-screen social media experience. For those who want more, say a phone that is ready to run Raw photo editing apps, mark up screens and images, create detailed works of art and take zoom photos that will make you the envy of all your iPhone-carrying friends, the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra is worth every dime.

Should you buy the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra?

Should you buy the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra?

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra

(Image credit: Future)

Buy it if...

Don't buy if...

Also consider...

If the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra review has you curious about the fastest smartphones on the market, you can read our full roundup of the best phones you can buy. 

First reviewed: February 2022

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Author: admin | Category: Mobile phones | Tags: , , , | Comments: None

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