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At a time when most Android manufacturers are adopting the unsightly notch in order to get as close to a truly bezel-less display as possible, there are a few renegades who’re concentrating on achieving the same goal without resorting to blatant imitation. Chinese smartphone manufacturer Vivo is one of the few who is making its own innovations rather than copying Apple and its latest flagship, the Vivo NEX (Rs. 44,990), is truly a breath of fresh air in the Android landscape. After almost nailing the in-display fingerprint scanner technology with the release of the Vivo X21, the company has now released the Vivo NEX – a truly bezel-less smartphone with a 91.2 percent screen-to-body ratio. Here, we’ll take a close look at Vivo’s latest flagship and find out if it truly is the smartphone of the future.

Vivo NEX Specifications

For the purpose of this review, we received the higher-end variant of the Vivo NEX with packs in 8GB of RAM and 128GB of internal storage. Let’s take a look at the complete hardware specifications of the device before we dive into the review:

Display6.59-inch Super AMOLED display with 91.2% screen to body ratio

ProcessorQualcomm Snapdragon 845



Primary Camera12MP f/1.8 + 5MP f/2.4 dual camera setup with 4-axis OIS

Secondary CameraPop-up 8MP f/2.0

Battery4,000mAh Li-ion

Operating SystemFuntouch OS based on Android 8.1 Oreo

Dimensions & Weight162x77x8mm, 199grams

PriceRs. 44,990

What’s In the Box

The Vivo NEX comes in a premium looking package with the regular bunch of accessories, including a pair of in-ear type earphones and a black soft-touch black case.

Here’s everything you’ll receive when you purchase a Vivo NEX:

Quick Charge 3.0 compliant charging brick

USB Type-A to USB Type-C cable

Soft-touch case

In-ear earphones with extra silicon tips

SIM ejector tool


Design and Build Quality

Starting off with the design, the Vivo NEX looks nothing like any smartphone that you’ve ever seen before (unless you’ve seen the Oppo Find X, of course). As mentioned earlier, the device does not feature the dreaded notch and has a rather seamless looking 6.59-inch Super AMOLED bezel-less display dominating the front of the device, featuring an in-display fingerprint scanner and a slight chin underneath. We received the black variant of the device which has a stunning psychedelic looking pattern that shimmers when light falls on it from different angles.

Much like most modern smartphone, the Vivo NEX also has a glass sandwich design with glass on the front and back and a metal frame in between to provide some durability.

Pop-up Selfie Camera

I agree, moving parts on a modern smartphone are definitely a cause for concern, but Vivo claims that its engineers have thoroughly tested the pop-up selfie camera and promise that its quite durable and won’t easily malfunction. In order to test Vivo’s claims I also manhandled the camera a bit, intentionally pushing it down and just being careless with it, and it held up quite well through the torture. And yes, the Vivo NEX has a headphone jack despite the fact that it has a truly bezel-less display, while some smartphone manufacturers just know how to make excuses.

In-display Fingerprint Scanner

In order to maximize the screen-to-body ratio, the proximity sensor has been hidden within the tiny top bezel and the ambient light sensor has been embedded within the display and, as mentioned earlier, the smartphone features an in-display fingerprint scanner. Vivo highlights that the third-generation in-display fingerprint scanner on the device is faster and more reliable than previous generations, and I completely agree with the company’s claims. Even though it’s not the fastest fingerprint scanner out there, it is quite a bit more responsive than the one found on the Vivo X21. Furthermore, the Vivo NEX lacks a physical earpiece and makes use of a piezo-electric system, which the company refers to as the glass-vibrating screen soundcasting technology, that converts the entire display into an audio source.

The left edge, on the other hand, is pretty bare save for the dedicated AI button which brings up Google Lens on a single tap and the Google Assistant if it’s pressed for a longer duration.

The 12MP+5MP vertically oriented dual camera setup resides on the top left corner of the back of the device, with the dual-tone LED flash situated right beneath it. The rest of the back remains pretty clean, except for the rather large NEX logo in the center and a tiny Vivo branding at the bottom.


The display has great viewing angles and it can get pretty bright which really helps with the outdoor visibility. Unlike the OnePlus 6, which also has an OLED display, I had absolutely no problems interacting with the display in direct sunlight as the panel was quite legible using its max brightness setting.

All-in-all, the Vivo NEX packs in a great display which looks absolutely stunning thanks to the bezel-less and notch-less implementation.

Speakers and Audio

The Vivo NEX features a single downward firing speaker which gets pretty loud as compared to the OnePlus 6. The high quality sound output is amazing, with clear mids and highs alongside deep bass. While the placement of the speaker unit isn’t ideal, having a truly bezel-less display doesn’t leave a whole lot of options anyway.

The downward firing speaker can easily be muffled if you accidentally place a finger on it, however, using the phone in the landscape mode with your hands cupped around the phone results in the sound being amplified which greatly improves the overall audio quality. The in-ear type earphones included with the Vivo NEX are pretty average and have a very flimsy built quality. They just don’t justify the sound output that the phone is actually capable of and using any third-party earphones greatly elevates the audio experience. Even though the included earphones aren’t great, I won’t hold it against Vivo as a lot of smartphone manufactures don’t even include a pair of earphones, so it’s not really a big deal.

Since we’re talking about speakers and audio output, let me also address Vivo’s glass-vibrating screen soundcasting technology which replaces the physical earpiece. Sound quality in calls is pretty bad and you have to place your ear in a specific position to hear the caller properly. I wish Vivo had invested more time and effort in this area because, after all, the device is primarily a phone and you’ll eventually need to make calls with it.


Rear Cameras

In keeping with the trends, the Vivo NEX sports a dual camera setup on the back with a 12 megapixel f/1.8 primary sensor and a 5 megapixel f/2.4 secondary sensor for depth perception. The primary lens features dual pixel phase detection auto focus and four-axis optical image stabilization, while the secondary lens features no stabilization and even lacks autofocus capabilities. The dual camera setup is complemented by a dual-tone LED flash.







Coming to the portrait mode, which utilizes the secondary 5 megapixel f/2.4 sensor. Portrait images captured in ample light turn out great with decent edge detection and detail, however, the camera really struggles capturing portrait images in low light conditions. When there isn’t enough light, the camera tends to slightly blur the subject as well, which results in a very poor image.

Front Camera

The portrait mode images captured by the selfie camera are more or less just like the ones captured by the main camera, the edge detection is decent and the background blur is just fine





Being a flagship, the Vivo NEX packs in the best hardware available in the smartphone market today. The device is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 SoC coupled with 8 gigs of RAM and 128 gigs of internal storage. To begin with, let’s take a look at the benchmark scores which reveal that the Vivo NEX easily beats the OnePlus 6 and the Samsung Galaxy S9+ in AnTuTu, achieving a score of 286185.

I played a couple of graphic intensive games on the device, including the infamous PUBG, Asphalt Xtreme, Modern Combat 5 and NFS No Limits and the device performed wonderfully with the graphics cranked up to high in all games. The device didn’t lag out on me even once and the games ran without any hiccups.

However, it’s worth noting that the device got a bit warm after continuously playing three matches of PUBG, but that problem was easily addressed by slapping on the included back cover. In conclusion, the Vivo NEX lives up to its flagship specifications and fares as good as, or probably even better, than competing flagships despite sporting the heavy skin.


Much like other Chinese ROMs, Funtouch OS is filled to the brim with features and pre-installed apps. While some of them are actually pretty useful, most others are outright bloatware. As you’d already know, the device packs in an in-display fingerprint scanner and with the fingerprint scanner comes the fingerprint registration software.

The third-gen in-display fingerprint scanner on the device is a bit faster and more reliable than the previous gen, but it still isn’t as fast as the capacitive scanners found on most flagship smartphones. On top of that, registering a new fingerprint is a tough task as the software takes a lot of time to recognize and store the fingerprint, as opposed to the software found on other devices which is quite snappy and accurate.

The smartphone doesn’t feature a face unlock feature, like most other flagships out there, but in my opinion, leaving out face unlock on the device is a rather prudent move as opening the front camera again and again might take a toll on the camera mechanism and the battery as well

Instead of implementing a stock Android-like notification panel, Vivo’s Funtouch OS also has an iOS-like control center which can be pulled up from the bottom. I personally don’t have any problem with this implementation and in my opinion it might just be a very smart move because it places the quick setting toggles in an easily approachable place on the display. Vivo has also included its own AI smart assistant called Jovi which assists users in the camera app by automatically changing the settings depending on the subject in the frame and also while playing games when the game mode is active.


Vivo’s bezel-less flagship packs in an impressive 4,000mAh battery with Qualcomm Quick Charge 3.0 support for fast charging. It’s quite unusual that Vivo stuck with Quick Charge 3.0, because the Snapdragon 845 chip on the device supports Quick Charge 4.0 which much faster than the previous generation. Nonetheless, the device charges fairly quickly using the included charging brick, taking about 45 minutes to go from 10 to 80 percent charge, which is quite impressive to say the least. In order to achieve such efficient fast charging, Vivo utilizes what it calls dual-engine quick charging, which might sound a bit gimmicky but it still is pretty effective.


Almost bezel-less Super AMOLED display

Loud and crisp speakers

Amazing battery life

Premium build quality

Innovative pop-up selfie camera

Good performance

Bad low-light camera performance

Poor call audio quality

No IP rating or wireless charging

Quite heavy and large for one handed use

SEE ALSO: Asus ZenFone 5Z Review: Should You Buy Over OnePlus 6?

Vivo NEX Review: Innovation Done Right!

Buy from Amazon (Rs. 44,990)

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Vivo V5 Plus Detailed Camera Review And Photo Samples

The highlight of the Vivo V5 Plus are its cameras. We took the phone for a spin over the last few days to see how it performs in real world. Let’s take a look at the camera performance of this selfie-focused smartphone from Vivo.

Vivo V5 Plus Coverage Vivo V5 Plus Camera Hardware

Model Vivo V5 Plus

Rear Camera 16 Megapixel

Front Camera 20 + 8 Megapixel

Sensor Type (Rear Camera) BSI CMOS

Sensor Type (Front Camera) CMOS

Aperture Size (Rear Camera) f/2.0

Aperture Size (Front Camera) f/2.0

Flash Type (Rear) Single LED

Flash Type (Front) Moonlight LED

Auto Focus (Rear) Yes

Auto Focus (front) No

Lens Type (Rear) –

Lens Type (Front) Sony IMX376

fHD Video Recording (Rear) Yes, @ 30fps

fHD Video Recording (Front) Yes, @ 30fps

Vivo V5 Plus Camera UI

On the left, the V5 Plus comes with a few toggles – Flash, HDR, Bokeh. It also has the Settings button on the left. On the right, you will find the Shutter, Gallery and Front Camera buttons. Just above the Shutter button, you will find different modes – Panorama, Face Beauty, Photo and Video. Above these modes, you get another sub-menu allowing you to quickly alter different settings like Buffing, Skin Tone, Whitening etc.

Vivo V5 Plus Front Camera Samples

We decided to do a more thorough testing of the V5 Plus’ dual front cameras. Below are some samples in Artificial light, Natural light and Low light. We also put to test the Face Beauty and Bokeh modes.

Artificial Light Natural Light

The V5 Plus performed really well in natural lighting conditions. Given that it performed well enough in artificial light, its daylight performance comes as no surprise.

Low Light

Most front cameras struggle visibly in low lighting conditions. However, these testing conditions were not really difficult for the V5 Plus, as evident from the results below.

Bokeh Face Beauty

Face Beauty mode hides flaws in the image. You can set it to 0 using the slider in the camera app. We noticed that setting it to medium level gives us the best results.

Vivo V5 Plus Rear Camera Samples

The V5 Plus comes with a 16 MP rear camera with an f/2.0 aperture. The rear camera is assisted by an LED flash and comes with Phase Detection Autofocus. Below are some samples in Artificial light, Natural light and Low light.

HDR Sample

Panorama Sample

Low Light Sample

Artificial Light

Coming to the rear camera, the V5 Plus comes with a 16 MP f/2.0 CMOS camera. The rear camera comes with a single LED flash and Phase Detection Autofocus. In our testing, we found the rear camera to focus quite fast. Overall, the image quality is satisfactory.

Natural Light

The rear camera on the V5 Plus fared very well in natural lighting conditions. Focusing and image processing speeds were good. Colour reproduction is also very accurate. Overall, the V5 Plus’s performance in this regard was very good.

Low Light Camera Verdict

The Vivo V5 Plus’s main attraction is its cameras. The front cameras, especially, perform really well. Thanks to the dual front camera setup and the front facing flash, you will not have to worry about grainy, dark selfies anymore. The rear camera is decent as well. Considering that most other phones do not come with such a good front camera experience, the V5 Plus has little to no competition in this regard.

The Warlock Of Firetop Mountain Review: Another 1980S Sword

As I said: A renaissance.

In search of Zagor

You begin The Warlock of Firetop Mountain by choosing your character from a stock of four “Allansian Heroes.” Each has different stats and a different quest that’s sent them plunging into the depths of the titular Firetop Mountain. Dekion Strom, for instance, enters Firetop Mountain in search of a locket stolen from him by a crafty goblin named Rotgut. Another character, Alexandra of Blacksand, is paid by a mysterious benefactor named Kith to bring the warlock Zagor a ruby known as the Eye of the Cyclops.

Running the game repeatedly allows you to eventually unlock four more characters, with eight more listed as “Coming Soon!”—all sixteen with his or her (or its, in the case of some monster-characters) own reasons for being in Firetop Mountain.

The Warlock of Firetop Mountain is a short game with a lot of branches in a short span. It’s mechanically pretty similar to Sorcery—played mostly in text, with long passages (presumably) lifted straight from the original book. Potentially elaborated upon, where necessary. But with a smaller environment and a shorter time-frame, choices are more mundane. Instead of “Do you visit this remote town or this hut in the woods?” you’re more concerned with “Do you take the eastern hallway or the northern?”

I admit, it can get a bit frustrating at times. Once you’ve learned the patterns of the first dozen or two dozen rooms, re-running them after a death can feel like a chore. Grab the meat, distract the hounds, duck through the door, grab the gold… You start to form a step-by-step guide to Firetop Mountain’s various dangers.

You’ll also notice yourself pushing further into the mountain, though. You skillfully avoid the cave full of spiders your next run. You remember where the goblins hid the Potion of Invisibility. You dodge past the troll. And eventually you find yourself standing outside the ghoulish Domain of the Dead, thinking “I am absolutely not ready for this.”

There’s also a plus side to the game’s more constrained scope, in that it’s enabled the developers at Tin Man Games to invest quite a bit more into the artwork. Sorcery makes do with minimalism—a pawn to represent the player, a hand-drawn map to represent a kingdom. And it’s successful! Sorcery is beautiful in its own gamebook sort-of way.

The Warlock of Firetop Mountain goes a step further though and renders the entire book into three dimensions. If you’ve ever played a tabletop RPG and been lucky enough to have your dungeon master build out a miniature set, that’s what Tin Man’s done here. If the text says you enter a cave with an arch to the north, you’ll see the arch to the north. If there’s a pool in the middle of the room filled with some sort of ominous red liquid, then you’ll see the pool. If there’s a cave troll, well, you’re probably dead—but also there’s a cave troll.

The board game feel even extends to your character, rendered as a two-inch tall miniature complete with circular base. To complete the motif, he or she hops around the environment as if controlled by the invisible hand of the player.

And while it’s more of a stylistic touch during the game’s quieter moments, the miniatures double as figurines for combat. Played out on a grid, akin to a real tabletop RPG, the turn-based system has the player and all enemies move or attack simultaneously. It’s surprisingly strategic, though once you master the patterns of the simpler enemies you’ll notice ways to exploit their programming.

Bottom line

I don’t know what prompted this rush on Steve Jackson’s work, but I’d take a couple more adaptations—whether by Inkle, by Tin Man, or by someone else. It’s fast becoming one of my favorite niche genres.

Motorola One Vision Review: Challenging Perceptions

This review was updated on July 11 with the latest information available.

Motorola One Vision review: The big picture

What’s in the box

TurboPower 15W charger

3.5mm earbuds

Plastic case

160.1 x 71.2 x 8.7mm, 180g

3.5mm headphone jack

MicroSD expandable storage



6.3-inch IPS LCD

2,520 x 1,080 pixels, 432ppi

21:9 aspect ratio



Octa-core Exynos 9609

Mali-G72 MP3


128GB storage (expandable)



15W TurboPower fast charging

For as impressive the Motorola One Vision’s performance is, its battery life is distinctly average. I managed around 5 to 6 hours of screen-on time after a day of checking Twitter and Slack, messaging on WhatsApp, and just over an hour of streaming across Twitch and Spotify. I had Adaptive Brightness on at all times.

I often ended most days around or just below the 20 percent mark, which isn’t terrible, but it’s certainly not great either. If you’re a heavy user or planning a trip out for the day, you should bring along a decent portable charger.

The Motorola One Vision’s battery life is distinctly average.

Thankfully, you can refill the 3,500mAh cell pretty quickly thanks to Motorola’s 15W TurboPower charger. In my testing, it took the phone from a 5 percent to a 25 percent charge in 15 minutes. This rate did slow down dramatically as the battery was further refilled. I also got roughly the same results using a Google power delivery and OnePlus Warp Charge charger.



Standard: 48MP, f/1.7, OIS, PDAF

Depth: 5MP, f/2.2

Front Camera:

25MP, f/2.0

The second camera is a 5MP depth sensor used for adding that signature blur to portrait shots. This is by far the least interesting option for a dual-lens camera, but the Motorola One Vision’s portrait mode does manage to capture some nice bokeh-style photos and has myriad options to increase blur, and artificially manipulate the background color and lighting.

As well as an in-app button for Google Lens and the aforementioned Night Vision, the Motorola One Vision’s camera suite comes with a few optional toggles and modes. These include Cinemagraph for capturing GIFs alongside stills, panorama, manual mode, and Spot Color, which can zap all but one color from an image.

It also wouldn’t be a smartphone camera in 2023 without some kind of AI implementation. Here we get Smart Composition, Auto Smile Capture, and Shot Optimization. The latter only popped up once during my photo sessions when taking a shot of some bakery goods, and it immediately dialed up the contrast to unnatural levels.

Smart Composition, meanwhile, allegedly produces a second image that implements the rule of thirds and adjusts the orientation of any photo you take. My photo library, however, tells a different story as I couldn’t find a single example. Other images with effects applied have different file names, but this doesn’t seem to be the case for Smart Composition.

Quad Pixel is also at play for the selfie camera, which brings 25MP shots down to 6MP. If you’re a selfie addict, then the Motorola One Vision may well be the phone for you, as images taken from the front camera are packed with detail and there are plenty of beauty and portrait mode tweaks you can add for fun.

If you want an affordable phone with the best camera, you’re still better off paying the extra for the Google Pixel 3a. However, if your budget doesn’t stretch that far, the Motorola One Vision is an impressive all-rounder that nails the camera basics without forgetting to have a little fun. Just ignore all the AI stuff.

As for video, the One Vision can shoot in up to 4K at 30fps, though with no stabilization I would recommend dialing it down to 1080p (60fps) for OIS and optional EIS support. You can also shoot slow-motion video in 1080p at 120fps or 720p at 240fps.

You can see full resolution camera samples here.


Android 9.0 Pie


3.5mm headphone jack

Dolby Audio


Motorola One Vision, 4GB RAM, 128GB storage: $269

Motorola One Vision review: The verdict

The Motorola One Vision redeems the Motorola One brand.

The tall display and egregiously large punch-hole may be off putting at first glance, but the well-supported software, surprisingly smooth performance, highly competent cameras, and sub-£300 price tag make the Motorola One Vision a great option in the hotly-contested affordable phone battleground.

Droid Incredible Review (Vs. Nexus One Vs. Moto Droid)

Droid Incredible Review (vs. Nexus One vs. Moto Droid)

Incredible, they call it, and for once the marketing hyperbole may be right. The Verizon Droid Incredible by HTC takes a somewhat familiar spec sheet and squeezes out something different enough to stand out from the crowd. For our full review of the Droid Incredible, check out our dedicated Android Community coverage; if you’re more interested in how this shiny new smartphone fits into the current Android line-up – and, more importantly, whether you should choose it or a rival device – then read on.

The Snapdragon chipset has seen plenty of use in recent HTC devices – the Nexus One and the Desire, if you’re limiting things to Android – as has the 3.7-inch OLED WVGA display. Previous phones have had EVDO Rev.A, too, and WiFi, Bluetooth and GPS are par for the course too. Where things improve are in the optics and the internal storage: the Incredible will be the first HTC device to ship with an 8-megapixel autofocus camera, and it’s paired with a healthy 8GB of onboard storage.

More surprising is a noticeable improvement in touchscreen quality when you have both devices side by side. We’re not sure exactly what HTC have done with the Droid Incredible’s capacitive layer, but it’s both more accurate and less likely to miss taps than that of the Nexus One. Many Google phone users have complained of patchy touch response, something we’ve not encountered on this newer handset. The Incredible also has a broader brightness range than the Nexus One, particularly at its lower settings.

The Droid Incredible’s main competitor on Verizon is likely to be the Motorola DROID (review on SlashGear). It’s a testament to Motorola’s ambitious design that, while the DROID has been on sale for several months now, it’s still a viable option among newer devices. Like the Incredible it has a 3.7-inch display (running at the slightly higher 854 x 480 resolution) but the Motorola uses a more traditional LCD panel than HTC’s currently favored OLED screens. Although the latter is arguably more power efficient, the DROID’s display is in our experience just as bright and color rich as that on the Droid Incredible; it also has the benefit of being more usable (at lower brightness settings) outdoors.

As with the Nexus One, the Motorola runs Android 2.1 with no embellishments (not even the company’s own MOTOBLUR social networking integration). While you could argue that the DROID’s slide-out hardware QWERTY keyboard makes it a more proficient messaging device, HTC’s updated Mail client actually pushes the Incredible ahead in our opinion. Although 2.1 has native Exchange support, it’s only for email and contacts; the HTC app adds in calendar sync too, and the mail app itself allows you to view messages organized by whether they’re flagged, unread or from certain “VIP” contacts, or if they’re meeting invitations, and there’s a threaded “conversation” view too. Although the Motorola’s QWERTY is fair, HTC’s standard on-screen keyboard is a pleasant boost over and above the regular Android QWERTY – thanks to improved auto-correction – though we’re also fans of Swype on which we’re actually faster than with a hardware ‘board.

The flip side to out-of-the-box usability with Sense, though, is the ease of future OS updates. It’s telling that, in the months the DROID has been on the market, Motorola have already upgraded it from Android 2.0 to 2.1; HTC users have been waiting considerably longer for an update of early Android devices (such as the HTC Hero) to a newer version of the platform. That’s down to the headaches of getting Sense to play nicely with a changed OS, and while we don’t doubt HTC’s intent to keep the Droid Incredible as current as possible, we also feel pretty confident saying that the Motorola handset, unmodified as it is, will likely get official builds sooner.

Where the Droid Incredible particularly kicks away from the Motorola – and, for that matter, the Nexus One – is with its camera. It’s not just a win on the spec sheet, either; the Incredible’s 8-megapixel autofocus camera has a brighter, dual-LED flash than the Nexus One, and the still photos it takes are significantly better than those of either the Google phone or the DROID. It’s also more flexible, with granular control over exposure, contrast, saturation and sharpness, ISO ranges from 100 to 800 and optional geotagging and face detection. Sadly there’s no 720p HD video recording on any of the three devices, but the Droid Incredible’s 800 x 480 WVGA footage is reasonable if uninspiring.

Tour of Grand Canyon at 30,000 feet through Droid Incredible’s camera

Sample videos taken with Droid Incredible

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Image taken by Droid Incredible of Grand Canyon

Unfortunately, the flip side is battery life. The Nexus One requires some goading of settings to get it through a heavy day’s use, and – since some of the more recent firmware updates – the Motorola DROID actually stretches out its battery surprisingly well. Here, though, the Droid Incredible falls resolutely into bottom place; we’re not sure quite what’s happened, but it ousts even the hungry Nexus One. With the settings as standard, and push email turned on, we didn’t make it through a full day of use before the phone expired. Toning down the amount of social network updates that Sense makes, together with notching down the screen brightness a little, each helped prolong things, but the Incredible is definitely an over-eater.

Compounding the issue is the absence of a charging dock. Both the DROID and the Nexus One can be paired with an optional cradle, and we’ve found that we’re more likely to drop each phone into its respective dock than we are to plug them in with a regular microUSB adapter. That way, the handset gets a mild top-up and you get to stay wireless for more of your day. The Incredible’s lack of charging contacts (unlike the Nexus One) and side-mounted power connector mean a portrait-orientation dock is unlikely, and the fact that Sense doesn’t have a landscape-orientation mode leaves us doubting that HTC plan a cradle similar to Motorola’s.

It’s frustrating, because there are lots of power-hungry reasons we’d rather have the Droid Incredible in our pockets. There’s Flash Lite 4.0 support in the browser, for one, though performance at streaming video is very much dependent on the bitrate it has been recorded at; too high, and the Snapdragon CPU chokes and playback gets stuttery.

Audio performance during voice calls is a little better than with the DROID, though lags behind the Nexus One. That’s primarily down to the Incredible lacking its sibling’s noise-cancelling microphone array. Meanwhile 3G data performance over the Verizon EVDO Rev.A network was strong, though without a CDMA Nexus One we can’t make any direct comparisons. As with the DROID, the Incredible is CDMA-only and – shortsighted in our opinion – lacks global 3G support; saying that, as far as we’re aware the upcoming Verizon Nexus One won’t get that either. If you regularly travel outside the US and still want to use your smartphone, neither the Incredible nor the DROID are the devices to choose.

Strong contender as the Motorola DROID is, the Droid Incredible by HTC edges ahead by virtue of its better performing camera and Sense UI. Similarly, we’d pick the Incredible over the Nexus One; don’t underestimate the value of having Verizon’s after-sales support network to hand, something that – even when the CDMA Nexus One goes on sale – the Google-branded phone will lack. Our only real Incredible concerns begin with battery life and end with firmware updates; we hope HTC can tweak their power management to address the former, though the latter could be the sting in the smartphone’s tail. As we said with the HTC Desire, though, opting against a Sense device out of what may or may not transpire a number of months into the lifecycle does mean you’re missing out on an excellent handset experience today.

When the HTC EVO 4G arrives on Sprint later this year, the Android balance will change again. Connected services are arguably the future of smartphones and mobile devices, and the boost in data speed WiMAX will bring may just change our minds again. Until then (and of course that assumes you live in an area served with Sprint 4G coverage) we’re leaning toward the Verizon Droid Incredible by HTC. International travelers and those unwilling to experiment with their data and power settings should look elsewhere, but everyone else will be enjoying excellent camera performance served up in a user-friendly package.

Unboxing Droid Incredible by HTC for Verizon

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Verizon Droid Incredible by HTC key specifications:

Qualcomm 1GHz Snapdragon chipset

512MB ROM, 512MB RAM

3.7-inch WVGA 480 x 800 OLED capacitive touchscreen

8-megapixel autofocus camera with LED flash

8GB internal memory & microSD card slot (32GB)

EVDO Rev.A, WiFi b/g & Bluetooth

GPS, accelerometer

Android 2.1 with HTC Sense

3.5mm headphones socket & microUSB 2.0 port

1,300mAh Li Ion battery (rated 5.2hrs talktime or six days standby)

4.63 x 2.3 x 0.47 inches / 4.59 oz

Elon Musk’S Hyperloop Plans Are An Unsurprising Surprise

Elon Musk’s Hyperloop plans are an unsurprising surprise

Elon Musk may not have set out to build a Hyperloop, but it looks like the allure of putting those Boring Company digging machines to work is too much for the ambitious billionaire. Having watched – interested, but maintaining that he was too busy with SpaceX and Tesla to get involved himself – from the sidelines as startups like Hyperloop One tackled with the technical and regulatory issues around putting humans in bullet-like pods and blasting them at high speed through underground tunnels, it now seems he can’t resist giving it a go himself.

Musk pushed Hyperloop technology into the headlines back in mid-2013, when the inventor surprised everyone with a white paper on a system for high-speed transportation. Promising the ability to go from New York City to Los Angeles in a mere 45 minutes, Musk’s system relied on the idea of pressurized carriages which would travel along lengths of vacuum tube. Much like a pneumatic tube network in an old-time post office, the pods would be hurled through the low-friction environment; Musk envisaged speeds exceeding 700 mph, and Hyperloop networks extending to hundreds of miles of tube.

It was an astonishing concept, but one Musk said he wasn’t interested in building himself. More accurately, perhaps, he argued that he simply lacked the time to commercialize Hyperloop technology, given his existing focus on space travel and electric cars. Instead, he opened up the technology to anybody who wanted to make it work practically.

Several companies obliged. Most recently, Hyperloop One demonstrated a public test of its interpretation in Nevada, with its prototype pod hitting 192 mph on a 1,433 foot length of tube. Others, like Hyperloop Transportation Technologies Inc. and Arrivo, are also working on their own systems.

Fast forward to July 2023, though, and Musk seemingly changed his tune. Although he had been discussing the efforts of his new startup, The Boring Company, to dig tunnels underneath cities like LA, until that point he had described those tunnels as being used for individual “electric skates” on which a single car would be locked and moved – with an AI handling all the navigation – to a different point, eventually emerging back onto the street. Suddenly, though, Musk suggested that he’d been given verbal approval to build a Hyperloop of his own.

The Boring Company is clearly thinking about it, though. “Fast to dig, low cost tunnels would also make Hyperloop adoption viable and enable rapid transit across densely populated regions, enabling travel from New York to Washington DC in less than 30 minutes,” the company says on its website. Rather than digging the wide tunnels typical until now, which require a diameter of around 28 feet for a single lane of traffic, Musk’s business sees far more practical narrow tunnels – around 14 feet across – as the solution. Those electric skates onto which a single car could be mounted suddenly gain an enclosure, and you find yourself with a Hyperloop.

“The electric skate can transport automobiles, goods, and/or people,” The Boring Company FAQ explains. “And if one adds a vacuum shell, it is now a Hyperloop Pod which can travel at 600+ miles per hour.”

In a statement to Bloomberg, The Boring Company said that its goal was “to accelerate the development of this technology as fast as possible.” Although SpaceX holds the trademark for the name “Hyperloop,” there are no – current – plans to lock down its use. “We encourage and support all companies that wish to build Hyperloops and we don’t intend to stop them from using the Hyperloop name as long as they are truthful.”

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