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Best iPhone 2020: which Apple phone is the top choice for you?

Picking the best iPhone depends on your budget, needs, and tastes. Thanks to the choice in Apple’s range, you can find yourself a decent iPhone that will get software updates for at least four years, or you can opt to upgrade every year.

Before buying, you should know that Apple’s newest phones have launched, and there are four to choose from: the iPhone 12, the smaller iPhone 12 mini, the iPhone 12 Pro, and the large iPhone 12 Pro Max. The are available now.

Below we’ve ranked all the iPhones that Apple currently sells, plus models that are still available from other retailers. At the moment we think the iPhone 12 is the best iPhone for most people, but you might not be most people. Take a look at our buying advice and standalone reviews to see which iPhone will suit your pocket.

Best iPhone: which one should you buy today?
1. iPhone 12 → The best Apple iPhone bang for your buck
2.iPhone 12 mini → The same as above, but smaller
3.iPhone 12 Pro → Our third favorite iPhone
4.iPhone 12 Pro Max → The very best iPhone when it comes to spec
5. iPhone 11 → Once the very best iPhone
6. iPhone SE → The choice for those who want a cheaper iPhone
7. iPhone 11 Pro → Once the best, but a bit too pricey
8. iPhone 11 Pro Max → Big phone, top price
9. iPhone XS → Another option for those looking for something compact
10. iPhone XS Max → The iPhone XS Max is still a big, speedy phone
11. iPhone XR → Cheaper than ever
12. iPhone X → The iPhone that changed the range

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OPPO Find X3 release date, price, leaks and potential delays

If there was any question as to whether the Oppo Find X3 series was coming in 2021, the company itself name-dropped the thing at its Inno Day 2020 (where it shows of all its new tech). So the phone series is definitely on our 2021 release radar now.

Oppo is one of the bigger Chinese phone companies, and it’s starting to pick up a lot of attention in the west too. Its Find X line is its top offering, and the Find X2 devices in 2020 were some of the best phones of the year.

The Oppo Find X3 range is the next range from the brand we’re expecting to see, likely at the beginning of 2021, but perhaps more towards the middle (as we’ll get into later in this article). We could see as many as four devices launched.

The Oppo Find X2 line, released in early 2020, started with two phones, the ‘standard’ and Find X2 Pro, but two more were released a little later, the Find X2 Lite and Find X2 Neo, bringing the total number up to four.

Given there was only one device in the first generation of Find X, that’s a slightly different approach for each series, but it’s got us pondering what the next device, the Oppo Find X3, could be like. We don’t even know when the phone will show up for certain, as this isn’t a series that’s updated yearly.

We’ve heard a tiny bit of information that could be about the phone, which we’ve detailed below, but until we get more, we’ve also got a wish-list of the features we’d like to see.

Latest leak: Oppo has confirmed the existence of the Find X3, so it’s very likely we’ll see it in early 2021. The company also described its Full-Path Color Management System, a display tech that could be a game-changer in how phones show content, and could give the FInd X3 the best screen of any smartphone.

Oppo Find X3 release date and price
Most smartphone series get annual releases – that wasn’t the case for the first two generations of Oppo Find though, with the first out in mid-2020 and the second about two years after that, so there’s no guarantee of when we’ll see the Oppo Find X3.

If we were to be optimistic, we’d suggest we could see the phone in mid-2021, but if the pattern of the others is to be repeated, the Find X3 will actually be out in 2022. Saying that, Oppo seems to have put more of an emphasis on the Find X2 line, with four devices instead of one, so maybe it’ll want to bring it back sooner.

There’s a tiny bit of evidence it could be later. The Find X2 series were meant to be launched at MWC 2020, and were shown off around the same time after that event was cancelled for Covid. However MWC 2021 has been announced for June, not February when it usually takes place – and Oppo could opt to launch the Find X3 phones then. 

We don’t have much of an idea on price either. The price of the Find X2 line ranges from £399 / AU$749 (roughly $530) for the Find X2 Lite to £1,099 / AU$1,599 (about $1,450) for the Find X2 Pro, so for different phones in the line-up we could see vastly different costs.

Leaks, rumors and news
When Oppo confirmed the existence of the Find X3, it did so when describing its Full-Path Color Management System.

Basically, this supports a wider color gamut and better color accuracy for viewed images. Also it ensures visuals don’t get compressed or tweaks as a video, image or game goes on its digital journey through the systems only our phone, making sure it looks as good as possible.

Other than that, we haven’t heard any specific Oppo Find X3 leaks, news or rumors, but we’ve seen a few patents from the company and some tech it’s confirmed it’s working on, and we could see some of this make its way to the Find X3. There’s also one leak that possibly, but not definitely, refers to the Find X3.

This leak is that Oppo is working on a phone with the Snapdragon 870 chipset, which will be a ‘lite’ version of its top-end 875 which will likely start showing up in phones in early 2021. This phone could be the Find X3, or at least one device in the range, but it also could be a Reno 5 handset instead.

The Oppo Find X2 Pro had a periscope zoom lens first seen in the Oppo Reno 10x Zoom which facilitated the phone’s 5x optical, 10x hybrid and 60x digital zoom. Well, it seems Oppo is working on an improved version of this lens, which would bring further optical zoom and better aperture. The company is said to also be working on a special high-res sensor to pair with this lens.

Oppo has shown off 125W fast-charging that could come to phones soon. This would power up a phone with a 4,000mAh battery (an average size) in less than 25 minutes. At the same time the company showed off 65W wireless charging which matches its current wired speeds.

Oppo also recently patented a Li-Fi connected phone which uses light to create super high-speed connection speeds, but this seems a little futuristic to be the Find X3.

What we want to see in the Oppo Find X3
1. Wireless charging
We had one complaint in common with all the Oppo Find X2 smartphones we tested: none of them have wireless charging. That’s understandable on the budget entries in the range, but given the price of the Pro, we’d expect it there.

Oppo has shown off its 65W wireless charging since thee Find X2’s launch, so we’d like to see that in the phones if possible, but if the company opted to go for a slower wireless powering speed for its mid-ranged phones, that would make sense too.

Wireless charging is really useful for people who have such chargers, and with the Find X2 phones being such top products as they are, we’d love to see this one addition.

2. Improved cameras in non-Pro units
While the Oppo Find X2 Pro was an absolute camera beast, the other phones in the line were more ‘good not great’, with some lenses and sensors you’d expect at the price tag missing.

We’d like to see the Find X3 phones all get both ultra-wide and telephoto lenses, for zoom shots and wide ones. Depth sensing and macro cameras aren’t always too useful, and they’re no substitute for zoom.

Sure, Oppo’s post-processing image optimization is the real champion that makes your pictures look good in the Pro, but we’d like to see the company’s great zoom tech appear in more devices.

3. Lower max price
While the Oppo Find X2 line did have affordable devices like the Lite, if you wanted the real top phone you were spending an astronomical amount. In fact, some could argue it was a little too expensive for the phone.

The Oppo Find X2 Pro is very similar to the OnePlus 8 Pro in most ways, and while it arguably pipped ahead in one or two areas (like its zoom camera or screen optimization tech), it cost a lot more too.

If Oppo wanted its Find X3 devices to be really competitive with its rivals, especially OnePlus, the Pro model should come out with a slightly lower price.

4. Faux leather on more phones
You could buy the Oppo Find X2 Pro with a faux leather coating on it, and it made the phone feel incredibly premium (and easier to grip without dropping). We’d like to see every phone in general use this material, but this article is just about the Oppo Find X3, so we’d definitely like these phones to bring back the material.

In fact, while only the Find X2 Pro could come in the material, we’d like to see more of the Find X3 phones come with it – perhaps even the Lite model, although it would possibly bump up the price a bit.

This item on our wish list may contradict another – it’s harder to get wireless charging on a smartphone if it’s clad in vegan leather. But the point of a wish list is to create a dream line-up of all the specs and features we’d like to see, so we’ll ignore the possible impossibility of this.

5. Another affordable 5G phone
We’ll end this list by saying we want Oppo to repeat something it did in the Find X2 series, by putting out a super-affordable 5G phone in the form of the Find X2 Lite.

This phone gets 5G in the hands of people who may want it, but are put off by the fact most 5G phones are premium devices. Now you don’t need to spend plenty to get 5G connectivity.

We’d like to see the same happen in the Find X3 series, to keep the cheap 5G phone ball rolling.

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Yahoo’s first self-branded phone, the ZTE Blade A3Y, is a budget handset

Yahoo Mobile is getting its first exclusive smartphone, the ZTE Blade A3Y, a very cheap handset. For $49, the phone packs very basic specs and cameras – which seems perfect for anyone who needs a burner or device simply for texting and online browsing.

This rate is half the price that ZTE is selling the Blade A3Y directly in the US, so it seems like going through Yahoo is worthwhile regardless. 

If you don’t recall, Yahoo launched Yahoo Mobile back in March, but it seemed like a rebranded version of Visible, the hip and cheap unlimited mobile service provider using the 4G network of its parent company, Verizon, according to The Verge. Which makes sense, given Yahoo is also owned by the carrier. Yahoo Mobile’s pitch: a $39 unlimited plan that includes a subscription to Yahoo Mail Pro.

It’s no big surprise, then, that the ZTE Blade A3Y seems very suitable for the service: it only has 32GB of storage, which is partially taken up by streamlined versions of pre-installed Yahoo apps (Mail, News, Sports, Finance, Weather). Plus, those who sign up for Yahoo Mobile and don’t have a compatible phone will get the Blade A3Y for free.

You can pick up the and use it with other carriers or mobile service providers, though, and its specs are about comparable with the burner phones at the $50-ish price tier: a 5.45-inch HD display, 8MP rear camera and 5MP front-facing camera, 2GB of RAM, a 2,660mAh battery, and Android 10. 

2020: a year for affordable phones
We’ve seen plenty of affordable phones launch in 2020, but they’re at the higher end of the ‘budget’ scale, like the $349 Pixel 4a, the $299 Moto G Power, and the $199 Moto G Fast. The ZTE Blade A3Y is at the extreme low end of that spectrum, and while it won’t impress anyone, it’s perfect for a subset of users who just need a phone that will text, take photos, and browse the internet.

Better still, it’s running Android 10 out of the box, which is great for budget shoppers, putting it on the software level of cheap phones that are still four or five times its cost.

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What is DNS-over-HTTPS and should you be using it?

Throughout the history of the internet, traditional Domain Name System (DNS) traffic – for example, user requests to go to particular websites – has largely been unencrypted. This means that whenever you look a web address up in the “internet telephone book”, every party along the DNS value chain that your request takes is able to look into those queries and responses, or even to modify them. Encrypted DNS, for example using DNS over HTTPS (DoH), changes that.

A number of the big internet companies – like Apple, Mozilla, Microsoft, and Google – are in the process of implementing encrypted DNS through DoH into their services and applications. Mozilla was an early adopter, implementing DoH into its browser in the US as early as late 2018, whereas Apple is implementing it with the iOS 14 and macOS 11 updates in autumn 2020, and Google is in the process of rolling out DoH on Chrome for Android.

The internet’s global telephone book
The Domain Name System (DNS) basically functions as the telephone book of the internet. If we think of the top-level domain (the far right part of a web address, like .com, .org, or .info) as equivalent to the country code or area code, the second-level (in the case of international.eco.de, this would be .eco.) as the corporate switchboard number, and the third-level (international) as the specific extension, it is possible to get a picture of how this directory is compiled, and how computers go about finding the service that they want to visit.

DNS resolvers are responsible for finding the internet resource (e.g. a website) that you have typed into your computer or phone. The first DNS resolver that your device is locally connected to is the home or office router, or a public hotspot. This resolver follows a series of steps, checking for any preconfigured setting on the device or a record of previous visits to the given website (called a cache). Failing this, the resolver will forward the DNS query to the next resolver up – for example, that of the internet service provider (ISP) you are connected to. This resolver will follow the same steps and finally, if all else fails, will proceed to looking the domain up in the “internet telephone book”.

What risks does DoH protect users against?
One objective pursued in the development of the DoH protocol was to increase user privacy and security by preventing eavesdropping and manipulation of DNS data. The encryption of DNS traffic protects you from the potential that a malicious actor can redirect you to a different (malicious) destination – for example, a fake bank website instead of the real one you wanted to go to. This kind of cyberattack is known as a Man-in-the-Middle (MITM) attack. Encrypting DNS through DoH (or the related DoT protocol) is the only realistic solution available today. The monetisation of DNS data, e.g. for marketing purposes, is a potential and realistic privacy issue that the developers of DoH also wanted to address.

Protecting users in public networks
When you are using a public wireless (Wi-Fi) network in hotels, coffee shops, etc., the DNS query data from your mobile may be used to analyse your behaviour and to track you across networks. Often these DNS services are part of an all-in-one globally-available Wi-Fi solution – these may be poorly adapted to comply with local privacy laws, and the privacy protecting configurations are potentially not enabled. Furthermore, free public Wi-Fi services, especially when operated or provided by smaller businesses, are often poorly managed in terms of security and performance, leaving you vulnerable to attacks from within their networks.

DoH protects users in these public wireless networks, as the DNS resolver of the Wi-Fi network is bypassed, preventing user tracking and manipulation of data at this level. Therefore, DoH offers an opportunity to protect communications in an untrusted environment.

What changes with DoH?
The DNS over HTTPS protocol in itself only changes the transport mechanism over which your device and the resolver communicate. The requests and the responses are encrypted using the well-known HTTPS protocol. Currently, given that not many DoH resolvers have been deployed yet, and that work is still being done on technically enabling DoH resolvers to be “discovered”, DNS requests using DoH usually bypass the local resolver and instead are processed by an external third-party DoH provider that has already been nominated by the respective software developer or manufacturer. More and more providers are in the process at the moment of deciding whether or not to offer their own DoH services.

Do I want DoH in my corporate network?
While DoH is a useful way of protecting yourself when you’re using a public hotspot, it may not be the preferred option for trusted network environments, such as corporate networks or internet access services acquired from an ISP that you trust. Your company, for example, may have legitimate reasons to disallow an application that ignores and overrides the system default – this could even be seen as potentially harmful, because the network administrator is unable to control it within the network.

Many of the concerns relating to corporate networks disappear if DoH is implemented on a system level rather than the application level. At the system level, for example, a corporate network administrator can configure the system and can create a policy that ensures that as long as the device is on the corporate network, the corporate resolver should be used – but the moment the device is on a public network, DoH should be used to improve security and privacy. However, if DoH is implemented as default on the application level, these different configurations are circumvented.

There are a number of other concerns about the use of external DNS resolution through DoH – ranging from potentially slow response times to the circumventing of parental controls and legally mandated blocking. But on balance, many of the potential downsides of DoH are counteracted by just as many advantages, depending on the context.

There’s no doubt about it: encrypting DNS improves user security and privacy. DoH can provide an easy way of doing this. But if you do activate DoH, make sure that you inform yourself about who will take care of the DoH resolution, how they handle your data, and whether you can easily turn it off when you need to.

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Is an Intel Core i3 good enough for PC Gaming?

Compared to flagship processors with eight or more cores, contemporary quad-core Core i3 CPUs may seem too weak to handle games. If you have an older Core i3 chip with just two cores and four threads, it might seem even less capable.

But you don’t need to have mid-tier gear for PC gaming. (In fact, we built a $300 gaming PC using a processor that’s more budget than a Core i3 processor.) Your rig won’t be anywhere near as fast as if you had a Core i5 part, but you can still pair it with a graphics card. We suggest selecting a similarly affordable graphics card, with $150 to $200 as the maximum spent. Then tweak the settings until you find a good balance between visual quality and frame rate. Depending on the GPU and the game, you may need to dial down the resolution and/or graphics presets, but you should often be able to find a workable sweet spot.

To decide on what graphics card to pick within that price range, consider the types of games you want to play. Our general recommendation would be an $175 Nvidia GTX 1650 Super. It only costs about $10 to $20 more than the vanilla 1650, and the performance bump is worth the extra cash. Avoid the AMD Radeon 5500XT, which competes with these two cards but is slower and more expensive. 

If you itch for more performance, you can step up to a 1660 or 1660 Super. We don’t usually advise going higher than that, as your CPU will begin to limit your GPU’s performance, and you’ll have paid for more than what you can make use of.

As for running games with 4GB of system RAM—like with the Core i3 processor, having less than today’s more common amount of 8GB doesn’t mean gaming is off the table. If that amount meets the system requirements (or better, recommended specs) for the titles you want to play, you’re good to go. If not, consider upgrading to at least 8GB, as today’s AAA titles do hit system RAM harder even when a dedicated graphics card is used. Prices on RAM are very good right now, even for older DDR3 RAM, so fortunately this upgrade won’t cost much.

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The best laptops: Premium laptops, Budget Laptops, 2-in-1s, and more

The best laptops of 2020 are experiencing a seismic shift. First we saw the launches of AMD’s Ryzen 4000 and Intel’s Comet Lake-H mobile CPUs in January, marking a real fight for the first time ever: Ryzen 4000’s cores vs. Intel’s clock speeds. Then in September, Intel launched its Tiger Lake CPUs for thin-and-light laptops, promising yet again that thanks to flexible clock speeds, it would hammer Ryzen 4000. Or so Intel says. 

Best thin-and-light laptop:XPS 13 7390
Best laptop under $500:Acer Aspire 5 A515-43-R19L
Best 14-inch/15-inch workhorse:Dell XPS 15 9500
Best convertible laptop:HP Spectre x360 13t
Best budget convertible:Lenovo Yoga C740 14
Best 2-in-1:Microsoft Surface Pro 7
MSI GS66 Stealth
Best budget gaming laptop:Acer Nitro 5 AN515-54-51M5[
Best portable gaming laptop:GS65 Stealth Thin 9SD
Best luxury laptop:HP Elite Dragonfly
Best overall Chromebook:Google Pixelbook Go
Best budget Chromebook:HP Chromebook x360 12b-ca0010nr
Best gaming laptop:16-inch MacBook Pro 2.4GHz 8-core Core i9 (2019)

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Should You Upgrade to Wi-Fi 6?

Though it’s been a fully approved standard for some time, actually seeing or buying a Wi-Fi 6 router has been both rare and expensive until recently. Now that we’ve passed the mid-point of 2020, however, routers supporting Wi-Fi 6 are starting to appear en masse, which not only gives you a wider selection, it’s also driving down prices.

Wi-Fi 6, or as it’s otherwise known, 802.11ax, offers significant improvements over the current 802.11ac standard (now dubbed Wi-Fi 5 by the Wi-Fi Alliance). Faster throughput speeds, better battery life for clients, and less bandwidth congestion are some of the most obvious reasons for upgrading to the new standard, but there are some important things to consider before you run out and buy a Wi-Fi 6 router.

What Is Wi-Fi 6?
A lot has been written about Wi-Fi 6 up to this point, but here’s a brief rundown on what to expect from the newest wireless standard. (For more history, check out our explainer.) Wi-Fi 6 routers employ several new technologies that are designed to boost overall performance by offering increased throughput speeds (nearing 10Gbps, theoretically, compared with max speeds of around 3Gbps for 802.11ac).

In addition, Wi-Fi 6 aims to relieve network congestion, provide greater client capacity, and reduce client power consumption. For example, Wi-Fi 6 uses Orthogonal Frequency-Division Multiple Access (OFDMA) modulation, which allows up to 30 clients to share a channel at the same time, thereby improving efficiency by boosting overall capacity while reducing latency. Long story short, OFDMA assigns time intervals to clients that allows them to better parse out available network channels. For example, if one person in your home is streaming a movie and another is checking social media on a phone, OFDMA allows a router to assign channels to each device based on when it needs it most.

Wi-Fi 6 also uses Target Wake Time (TWT), which allows devices to determine when they will normally wake up to begin sending and receiving data. This extends the battery life of mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets, as well as battery-powered smart home devices such as security cameras and video doorbells. The new standard also takes advantage of previously unused radio frequencies to provide faster 2.4GHz performance, and it uses refined bandwidth management to provide enhanced Quality of Service (QoS) options. Additionally, Wi-Fi 6 offers eight-stream uplink and downlink Multi-User Multiple Input Multiple Output (MU-MIMO), which streams data simultaneously rather than sequentially, allowing a more equitable sharing of bandwidth among connected MU-MIMO enabled clients. Wi-Fi 5 MU-MIMO topped out at four streams.

So Should You Upgrade Now?
The short answer is likely “yes” if your current router is more than three years old. Notebooks that support Wi-Fi 6 are becoming more common, including both higher-end models, like the Editors’ Choice-winning HP Omen 15, as well as lower-priced units such as the Microsoft Surface Laptop Go. The same goes for newer tablets and smartphones, like the Amazon Fire HD 8 and the Samsung Galaxy S20 FE 5G.

Even if your devices are still operating on 802.11ac, it’s still worth the trouble to consider a Wi-Fi 6 router upgrade now. Prices are coming down on both standalone Wi-Fi 6 routers as well as Wi-Fi-6-compatible wireless mesh systems. Among mesh systems, the most recent and notable examples include the Amazon Eero 6 and Eero Pro 6. Both these platforms support Wi-Fi 6, though the Eero Pro 6 is a tri-band system that supports faster throughput and speedier Internet connections.

Both platforms also have a Zigbee smart home hub built into the core router and both are being offered at between $100 and $200 less than most of the current Wi-Fi 6 mesh competition, which almost lets them qualify as budget routers. With prices dropping this steeply 2021 id more likely to produce new Wi-Fi 6 mesh systems than third-party, Wi-Fi 6 range extenders.

Is Wi-Fi 6 Finalized?
The Wi-Fi Alliance started certifying devices in mid-September 2019, so we’re over a full year into the process, which is why devices and routers are starting to become cheaper and more common. The advanced connectivity features delivered in these devices make them significantly superior to Wi-Fi 5, so if an upgrade is in your budget, now is definitely a good time to pull the trigger.

Aside from the capabilities mentioned above, Wi-Fi 6 also offers features like beamforming, which transmits Wi-Fi signals directly to clients rather than over a broad spectrum. All Wi-Fi 6 devices can also handle WPA3 encryption, which is the newest iteration of Wi-Fi security that’ll use features like robust password protection and 256-bit encryption algorithms to make it harder for people to hack into your network. Your network will also run faster due to background networking improvements, like support for 1,024-QAM (Quadrature Amplitude Modulation), a method that allows more data to be packed into each signal for increased throughput. This can deliver up to 25 percent more capacity than the 256-QAM method used in most Wi-Fi 5 routers.

All this jargon is a lot to unpack, but rest assured that any device you get that supports the final Wi-Fi 6 standard will have all these features in place.

Upgrade One Step at a Time
If you’re panicking at the number of network and client devices you need to upgrade, relax. There’s no need to replace every Wi-Fi 5 device and network component simultaneously. Wi-Fi 6 routers will support Wi-Fi 5 devices just fine, though the latter will run at their rated 802.11ac speeds. Similarly, Wi-Fi 6 devices can still talk to a Wi-Fi 5 router, though again, their throughput will be constrained and most of the advanced features mentioned above will be disabled until they can find supporting devices. If you’re a gamer, you might start with a Wi-Fi 6 gaming router and then move on out to supporting devices. If, perhaps, work dictates certain high-performance clients, you can start there and work inward.

Bottom line: you can upgrade to Wi-Fi 6 one step at a time, which will definitely make things easier. You’ll not only save your wallet from a sudden pummeling, you’ll also be able to configure and master one device at a time instead of finding yourself frustrated with a slew of new features and documentation.

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iPhone 12: Don’t break the display! Here’s the pricey repair cost

The iPhone 12 is supposedly equipped with the toughest smartphone glass in the world: Ceramic Shield. Although the phone’s display is durable and sturdy, it’s not shatterproof. If you do manage to break the ceramic shield, it will cost you a pretty penny.

Repairing a broken iPhone 12 display, according to Apple (via The Verge), will cost you almost $300.

iPhone 12: Repair costs of the ceramic shield display
Apple claims that the drop performance of the iPhone 12 is four times better than its predecessor. In other words, if the iPhone 12 drops, its chance of surviving the fall unscathed has quadrupled compared to the iPhone 11. This is, in part, due to iPhone 12’s ceramic shield-protected OLED display.

Still, despite the iPhone 12’s breakthrough in display-glass technology, it is still fracturable. Once the smartphone is out of warranty, repairing the display of the iPhone 12’s base model will cost you $279 — an $80 increase from the screen-repair price tag of the iPhone 11.

Repair costs for other damages on the iPhone 12 base model will cost you a whopping $449, which is a $50 increase compared to the iPhone 11.

Repair costs for the iPhone 12 Pro have not increased. The price tags for screen repairs and other damages (e.g. liquid damage) for both the iPhone 12 Pro and the iPhone 11 Pro are $279 and $549, respectively.

If you have Apple Care+, a protection plan that extends your warranty beyond the limited coverage Apple ships with its devices, screen-replacement service will cost you $29 while repairs for other damages are priced at $99.

To sum it all up, repair costs for the iPhone’s base model have increased by at least $50, but the price of fixing an iPhone Pro model has remained unchanged. If the ceramic-shield protected OLED display of the new iPhone is as “tough” as the company claims, you don’t have to worry about the sky-high repair costs anyway.

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Surface Laptop Go vs. Envy x360 13: Which ‘affordable’ laptop is best?

You know, the XPS 13, MacBook Pro and Spectre x360 — the $1,000+ crew that demonstrates the cutting-edge features in the industry. Does everyone need to buy one of these pricey notebooks? Absolutely not. Google proved that with Chromebooks, cheap but speedy alternatives capable of completing most everyday tasks just fine. But what about on the Windows 10 side? For a while, finding a good sub-$1,000 Windows laptop was no easy feat. But that has changed in recent months with the debut of the HP Envy x360 and Microsoft Surface Laptop Go. 

HP’s Envy x360 13 became our favorite “affordable” laptop when it debuted early in the year. It gives users nearly the same experience as its pricier, more premium Spectre x360 sibling, but at a reasonable $800 price. The design is beautiful, the screen is nice, the keyboard is comfortable and its AMD chips are speedy.

Jump to a few months later and Microsoft, moving away from the premium-only strategy held by rival Apple, launches the Surface Laptop Go, a 12.4-inch notebook with a starting price of $549. We don’t recommend the base model; instead, the better options cost $699 or $899, making them direct competitors to the Envy x360 13. 

If the Surface Laptop Go leapfrogs the Envy x360 13, it would be the laptop we recommend to college students, kids or anyone who wants to save some money but still have a premium device. Does the Laptop Go accomplish that goal? Read on to find out.

Surface Laptop Go vs. Envy x360 13: Value and configurations 
Forget about spending a grand, these two mid-range machines show you can get more for less. I’ll start with the Surface Laptop Go because it’s crucial that you choose the correct configuration of this laptop.

The base Surface Laptop Go starts at $549 and comes with an Intel Core i5-1035G1 CPU, 4GB of RAM and 64GB of eMMC storage. Apart from the processor, those aren’t specs we’d recommend. Instead, try to scrounge up $699 for the mid-tier model, which upgrades you to 8GB of RAM and a 128GB SSD. Have a bit extra to spend? Our $899 review unit doubles the storage to a 256GB SSD.

The starting price of the Envy x360 13 is $649 when configured with an AMD Ryzen 3 4300U CPU, 8GB of RAM and a 128GB SSD. Our review unit raises the price to $799 for a model with a Ryzen 5 4500U CPU, 8GB of RAM and a 256GB. If you can stretch the budget, another $150 gets you a Ryzen 7 4700U CPU and 16GB of RAM.

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The Pixel 5 makes me wish Google made a flagship smartphone

The Pixel 5 was revealed last month at Google’s “Launch Night In” event and while we had a nearly perfect picture of the smartphone going in, I was still interested to hear Google’s pitch for this more affordable device. In this era where a device can rarely make it through the gauntlet of production without virtually all of its details being spilled, what I typically look for at announcements is the story the company has to tell about its new devices.

To say I was disappointed by the story Google had to tell about the Pixel 5 would be an understatement. Of its 31-minute presentation on Chromecast with Google TV, Nest Audio and two new 5G smartphones, only five minutes, at most, focused on the Pixel 5 hardware and software. This is your annual flagship smartphone launch and you can’t muster more than 5 minutes on why consumers should be interested? In fact, most of what was said about the Pixel 5 on stage was equally applicable to the Pixel 4a 5G, a sub-$500 smartphone that, from the presentation, you would rightly think was just as good as the $699 Pixel 5.

I’m not mad, I’m just disappointed 
Don’t get me wrong, I think the Pixel 5 is a solid smartphone; early reviews are looking generally positive and I look forward to reviewing it myself soon enough, but Google has done precious little to convince anyone of that fact. More than anything, the Google presentation solidified a feeling I had since the first leaks pointed to Google moving away from the top-tier flagship processor: that I would love to see Google produce an actual flagship phone.

I’ve owned every generation of Pixel smartphone (and all but two of the Nexus line), so I feel confident in saying that, while I have loved many of these smartphones, almost none of them have been on par with the top-tier hardware available from other manufacturers. Whether it be the battery life, RAM, or cameras, there has always been one or more major deficiencies in the Pixel hardware. It is with a herculean software effort that Google has made the Pixel line the nearly unanimous favorite in the world of smartphone photography, all while sticking to the same primary sensor since the Pixel 2 back in 2017.

A side effect of these efforts is that it has allowed Google in the last two years to build two of the best budget smartphones ever in the Pixel 3a and Pixel 4a. By all appearances, the Pixel 4a 5G is going to join them as a truly amazing value. But the Pixel 5 really suffers by comparison; I don’t think even the most glowing review of the Pixel 5 would deem it to be a good value for the hardware.

It feels as though Google essentially trapped itself into a price point for the Pixel 5 by virtue of the Pixel 4a ($349) and Pixel 4a 5G ($499). The Pixel 5 hardware simply doesn’t justify the leap up to $699, with the 90Hz display as the most notable upgrade from the Pixel 4a 5G. It fares even worse versus the likes of the iPhone 12 mini or Galaxy S20 FE, each of which costs $699. This is absolutely a price point Google should address (I suspect this new $699 to $799 price range to be one of the most contended over the next year), but that doesn’t preclude having a true flagship above it. 

What would a true flagship Pixel offer? 
The camera is perhaps the biggest pain point to me, which sounds laughable for the consensus “best smartphone camera around.” But hear me out. Google has gone through a dance with the Pixel 4 and now the Pixel 5 cameras, telling us first that ultra-wide was nice, but not really necessary, and now this year, saying ultra-wide is where it’s, at and you can just use digital zoom anyway. This would be acceptable in a world in which you can’t have three cameras in your smartphone, but we don’t live in that world. Devices like the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra offer you all three. Heck, even the $699 Galaxy S20 FE has a triple-camera setup, albeit with weaker sensors, and it’s simply a better experience given the versatility.

The Pixel line has been the pinnacle of smartphone photography for years, but at some point, you can’t continue to tie one hand behind your back and expect to keep winning. I have little doubt that Google still has the superior software know-how, but ultimately, the hardware advancements will overwhelm them. And with Apple pouring far more into the A14 Bionic’s machine learning (as Google abandons its Pixel Neural Core), this might be the year.

I won’t dwell on it for too long, but a return to the flagship Qualcomm Snapdragon processor would be part of the change I’m hoping to see. I think many users will be absolutely fine with the Snapdragon 765G found in the Pixel 5, but there’s no denying that it’s perceptibly slower. The reviews of the Pixel 5 are littered with language saying it’s fine for day-to-day tasks and the like, but gamers and heavy smartphone users will feel the difference. 

Finally, while this might be just me, what I would love to see from Google is some creativity with a flagship Pixel. While I think the Pixel 5 looks nice in its Sorta Sage color option, and there are some legitimately interesting aspects of its aluminum chassis with resin coating, it’s also the most safe and standard looking design the company could have mustered. 

Just look at the Galaxy Z Fold 2 5G or even the new LG Wing. Now, these aren’t going to be best-selling smartphones, but they are incredibly unique and interesting. A company as large as Google should really be exploring new directions for smartphone design. Sure, there are going to be hits and misses, but that’s ultimately how breakthroughs happen, like with the original Galaxy Note. With Google’s budget and now mid-tier options seemingly performing well, the company should be in a position to go out on a ledge with a high-end smartphone that legitimately pushes the boundaries of Android smartphone hardware. 

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>Google Pixel Battery