Check out 3 An­droid phones that of­fer some­thing new

Sun.Star Cebu Weekend - - Contents - By Anick Jesdanun AP Tech­nol­ogy Writer

NEW An­droid phones ap­pear with reg­u­lar­ity, but far too few of them really seem new.

Sure, cam­eras keep get­ting bet­ter and phones keep get­ting faster. For the most part, though, you’d be hard-pressed to sin­gle out many new fea­tures that aren’t just tweaks for the sake of tweak­ing. Though man­u­fac­tur­ers fre­quently cus­tom­ize Google’s An­droid soft­ware to set their phones apart, those al­ter­ations of­ten just make things worse by hid­ing fea­tures or break­ing some apps.

So it’s a de­light to see three phones with un­usual char­ac­ter­is­tics in their hard­ware — all re­leased in a span of just nine days. Black­Berry’s first An­droid phone is no­table for its phys­i­cal key­board, while Mo­torola de­signed its screen to with­stand crack­ing from ac­ci­den­tal drops. LG’s new phone has two screens and two front cam­eras.

BLACK­BERRY PRIV

For years, Black­Berry has strug­gled to make its Black­Berry 10 phone soft­ware a vi­able al­ter­na­tive to Ap­ple’s iPhone and Google’s An­droid. While the com­pany isn’t giv­ing up on Black­Berry 10, it’s also hedged its bets with its first An­droid phone.

The new Priv has a phys­i­cal key­board, a rar­ity on An­droid phones th­ese days. It looks like any other phone un­til you slide the key­board out from the bot­tom, like a desk drawer. It’s an engi­neer­ing feat given that the phone still feels thin, al­though it’s thicker than Sam­sung’s flag­ship phones and the iPhone.

Black­Berry de­vices are known for their se­cu­rity and pri­vacy pro­tec­tions, and the com­pany built some of those fea­tures into the Priv’s hard­ware. It comes with an app that rates your de­vice se­cu­rity based on fac­tors such as whether you’ve en­abled a pass­code. The Black­Berry app also iden­ti­fies other apps that grab per­sonal in­for­ma­tion.

Among other no­table fea­tures:

The 5.4-inch screen is curved on both sides, sim­i­lar to Sam­sung’s Galaxy S6 Edge de­vices. Slide a tool­bar from the side to ac­cess your cal­en­dar, mes­sages and con­tacts. The email app is also more so­phis­ti­cated than most; it sup­ports rich-text for­mat­ting, such as ital­ics and colors, when com­pos­ing mes­sages.

Black­Berry of­fers icons that serve as shortcuts to fre­quent tasks, such as com­pos­ing a mes­sage, view­ing alarms or check­ing data us­age. Win­dows phones have a sim­i­lar fea­ture, but like Black­Berry 10, few peo­ple use them.

Bat­tery ca­pac­ity is also higher than most phones. Black­Berry prom­ises 22.5 hours of mixed use.

MO­TOROLA DROID TURBO 2

Mo­torola re­placed glass with var­i­ous forms of plas­tic to make its 5.4-inch screen shat­ter-proof. Most lead­ing smart­phones use chem­i­cally strength­ened glass. But it’s still glass, and it will crack if it hits a hard sur­face with enough force.

The shat­ter-proof tech­nol­ogy al­lowed me to do care­less things like leave the phone in a side pocket while get­ting a mas­sage. Sure enough, it fell out — but the screen sur­vived. It also with­stood two in­ten­tional drops on a con­crete side­walk, in­clud­ing once face down from waist height. One cor­ner of the metal frame was nicked, but the screen stayed in­tact.

Square-Trade, a com­pany that pro­vides ex­tended-pro­tec­tion plans, sub­jected the Droid to 10 drops from six feet on Thurs­day, but found only mi­nor dents to the screen. It then ran a Range Rover SUV over the phone 10 times. The screen still didn’t shat­ter, though parts of the dis­play turned black.

Mo­torola’s war­ranty cov­ers screen shat­ter­ing and crack­ing for four years. The com­pany tested the phone to with­stand drops from five feet on var­i­ous sur­faces you’d nor­mally en­counter. Mo­torola added backup touch ca­pac­i­tors so that the screen would still re­spond to touch even with some dam­age.

Don’t drop the phone from a five-story build­ing, though. The screen might not crack, but other com­po­nents could fail — and the war­ranty won’t cover that.

It also won’t cover scratches, which is a drag as plas­tic is, well, prone to scratch­ing. For that rea­son, the Droid Turbo has two cover lay­ers.

The phone also has ex­tended bat­tery ca­pac­ity, promised at 48 hours of mixed us­age. Us­ing the in­cluded charger, Mo­torola says you can get 13 hours with 15 min­utes of charg­ing. The big­ger bat­tery does make the de­vice thicker than most other phones.

LG V10

Above the reg­u­lar, 5.7-inch dis­play is a tiny screen about the size of a pinkie ban­dage. It’s a ded­i­cated no­ti­fi­ca­tion panel that won’t ob­scure your main screen, though no­ti­fi­ca­tions still van­ish af­ter a few sec­onds. The sec­ond screen also of­fers quick ac­cess to set­tings, fre­quent con­tacts and re­cent apps.

That sec­ond screen is al­ways on, al­low­ing you to check the time and weather with­out wast­ing your bat­tery by light­ing up the main screen. You also get quick ac­cess to the flash­light and cam­era, plus play­back con­trols when lis­ten­ing to mu­sic.

The V10 has two front cam­eras — one for reg­u­lar self­ies, and one with a wide an­gle for groups. Other cam­eras do this by stitch­ing to­gether adjacent shots, sim­i­lar to a panorama, but re­sults can be spooky if peo­ple move. The rear video cam­era of­fers a range of man­ual set­tings, some­thing phones typ­i­cally re­strict to still im­ages, if they of­fer them at all.

Th­ese fea­tures don’t stand out as much as Black­Berry’s or Mo­torola’s, though it’s great to see LG in­no­vat­ing.

BLACK­BERRY PRIV.

The com­pany isn’t giv­ing up on Black­Berry 10, but it has re­leased its first An­droid phone to lure those who want the wide ar­ray of apps avail­able on An­droid, but not Black­berry.

(AP PHOTO)

LG V10. The V10 has two front cam­eras, one for reg­u­lar self­ies, and one with a wide an­gle for groups. The rear video cam­era of­fers a range of man­ual set­tings, some­thing phones typ­i­cally re­strict to still im­ages, if they let you ad­just them at all.

MO­TOROLA DROID TURBO 2. Mo­torola re­placed glass with var­i­ous forms of plas­tic to make its 5.4-inch screen shat­ter­proof. The glass can crack if it hits a hard sur­face with enough force.

(AP PHOTO)

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