TIME Reviews

Sony Made the First 4K Smartphone in the World

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Sony

But is the high-res phone any good?

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Hands-on – Sony has a point to prove

Sony announced three phones at the IFA 2015 show in Berlin: the Xperia Z5, the Z5 Compact and the phone I’m covering here, the Sony Xperia Z5 Premium.

As the name suggests, the Xperia Z5 Premium is the top-dog of the new range and comes with an attention-grabbing headline feature – it’s the world’s first 4K smartphone.

That’s right, this 5.5-inch smartphone has so many pixels that it actually has twice as many pixels per inch (Colors) of the iPhone 6 Plus – that’s an eye-melting 801 ppi in total.

It’s a ludicrous resolution for such a small LCD screen. As Dr. Malcolm said in Jurassic Park: “Your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could that they didn’t stop to think if they should.”

Is there really any point to making such a small screen so sharp? Not to my eyes. On first impression, I can’t say that the screen on the Xperia Z5 Premium is any better than that on the lower-resolution Samsung Galaxy S6.

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There’s more to a good screen than packing in the pixels and Samsung’s AMOLED technology is simply superior to LCD these days – contrast and black levels alone stand it apart.

That said, there is an application I can see the Z5 Premium excelling at and that’s virtual reality. Placed close enough to your eyes and with lenses in front of it I can see how it can look ultra-sharp. This could well be the perfect phone for Google Cardboard VR applications, though that’s a rather niche reason to buy one. Perhaps Sony could follow Samsung’s example and produce its own, smarter mobile VR headset?

While the Xperia Z5 Premium might not match the best OLED screens, it does look fantastic. Colors are bright and vivid and it appears bright and clear at top brightness.

Sony has also included its X-Reality tech, which can upscale video (including Youtube) to something that looks sharper and better. It does this by comparing pixels in close proximity to each other and filling in the blanks and the results are impressive.

Beyond 4K

So the screen is undoubtedly special, but what of the rest of the phone? Well it looks a lot like previous Xperia’s in that it’s a (thickish) slab sandwiched between glass. It won’t be winning any beauty contests, but it’s what’s on the inside that counts and there you get Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 810 processor and 3GB RAM.

The 810 has had a bit of a bad rap, although it’s not wholly unfounded. Some phones packing this high-spec processor have been prone to overheating issues – Sony’s own Xperia Z3+ being a pertinent example.

It appears that tweaks have been made and matters improved, however. The OnePlus 2 also uses the Snapdragon 810 and doesn’t suffer for it, and neither did the Xperia Z5 Premium in my hour or so using it and dozens of pictures taken.

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The high specs and features don’t end there. A top-notch fingerprint sensor has been hidden beneath the svelte side power button. I found it to be perfectly accurate and it’s location smarter than any scanner I’ve used – it makes perfect sense for the phone to be unlocked using the button that’s used most and is easiest to reach when picking it up.

A chunky 3,430mAh battery should be able to power the 4K screen for a while. Sony claims the Z5 Premium will last as long as previous phones. If that’s accurate then this phone could be one of the best around in terms of stamina, but that’s a big ‘but’ considering the power needed for that 4K screen.

Sony bucking the trend

Of course, this wouldn’t be a flagship Sony if it wasn’t water-resistant. The Xperia Z5 Premium can withstand the wet stuff – something that’s becoming increasingly uncommon among top-end phones. It manages to do this with a minimum of ugly flaps – there’s just one covering the nano SIM slot. The microUSB charging port and headphone jack remain uncovered for easy access.

That’s not the only handy feature the Z5 Premium has that’s fallen out of vogue with flagships. There’s a microSD slot that supports cards up to 200GB in size to complement the 32GB of onboard storage.

It’s a smart and encouraging move from Sony, too. After the disappointment of the Z3+, it’s good to see Sony sticking to its guns and keeping features that rivals now ignore. It’s an approach that’s bound to win the Z5 Premium some fans, and rightly so.

Question marks over the camera

Sony is making big claims about the camera on the Xperia Z5 range – the same lens and sensor is shared across the three phones. Sony thinks the camera on the Z5 Premium is the best you can get on a smartphone, but I’m less convinced.

With 23-megapixels, the sensor trumps the Galaxy S6, iPhone 6 and LG G4 with sheer numbers. Focussing is also quick – at just 0.3 seconds, Sony claims this is the fastest autofocus on a smartphone ever. It doesn’t feel that quick, though. Take a picture and some lengthy post-processing makes it feel far less responsive than rivals.

The model I was trying out is pre-production so this will, hopefully, get better in the final version.

I was initially excited by the a new camera feature called “5x clear image zoom”. Unfortunately, this is still using digital zoom and while pictures taken using it do add some detail to far-away subjects, it also adds a whole bunch of noise.

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Vitally, the Sony Xperia Z5 Premium doesn’t use optical image stabilisation, it uses Sony’s SteadyShot with Intelligent Active Mode instead. The idea is that this works a lot better for taking video, eliminating the wavy wobble blur sometimes experienced with OIS cameras like the one on the iPhone 6 Plus.

The test video Sony showed me demonstrated this perfectly, but we’ll need to test it out ourselves to see if this is the best phone to take video on. Moreover, is this benefit a trade-off against the superior low-light performance allowed by optical image stabilisation?

Early Verdict

It’s difficult to get overly excited by the Xperia Z5 Premium. The design hasn’t changed much, and the Xperia Z styling has never been much to look at. The new features look good and it’s great to have a flagship with a microSD slot for easy memory upgrades.

The camera and its lack of optical image stabilisation is most troubling – can a flagship phone afford to not have it these days? The 4K screen, meanwhile, feels more like good PR than a serious user benefit.

The Sony Xperia Z5 Premium will be available worldwide in November 2015.

This post is in partnership with Trusted Reviews. The article above was originally published at TrustedReviews.com

TIME Smartphones

Qualcomm Brings Artificial Intelligence to Smartphone Security

Qualcomm's technology will be used in a variety of Android smartphones

Upcoming cell phone chips from Qualcomm will use artificial intelligence to block malware before it infects your phone. The chip company said on Monday that the next-generation Snapdragon 820 processor used in a variety of Android smartphones will be the first chip that uses machine learning to detect threats and privacy issues thanks to an application called Snapdragon Smart Protect.

The learning aspect is important because security threats today are no longer static. They constantly evolve, and relying on continuous updates to keep your phone protected would be burdensome to the user (and their data plan). Qualcomm’s plan is to use the Zeroth neural networking technology it has developed in the last few years to help the Snapdragon Smart Protect software running on the phone adapt to the threats it will encounter in the wild, all in real time. This will be the first time theZeroth technology has been actually put into action.

Qualcomm has done three things here technology-lovers should pay attention to. The first is bringing machine learning, or artificial intelligence, to security. The second is bringing machine learning to the smartphone, where power is at a premium. Typically most machine learning algorithms run on large servers plugged into a wall at a data centers—a far difference scenario than a battery-operated device that needs to last all day. The third thing is that Qualcomm is working with security software providers via an application programming interface to share some data so the Snapdragon Smart Protect application on the chip can learn what threats are out there and how best to handle them.

This kind of data sharing is invaluable in the security world for training artificial intelligence to identify looming threats, but it is also the competitive advantage of security software makers, which means they don’t give it up lightly—or at all. For Qualcomm to get them to start sharing some of this data to help train the artificial intelligence powering this software on its chip is a big deal. It will ultimately offer firms that participate, including Avast, AVG, and Lookout, an advantage because their software will run better on smartphones. Depending on the terms of the deal it may also improve their software across all lines of business.

Qualcomm expects consumer devices using this technology to be on the market next year. Of course, for it to take off, handset manufacturers will have to adopt the next-generation Qualcomm chipset, and whether or not they will is still somewhat of an open question, especially since Samsung had dumped Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 810 in its high-end handsets late last year. However, the new technology may be exactly what Qualcomm needs to win over smartphone makers once more.

This article originally appeared on Fortune.com

TIME Smartphones

Everybody Hates When You Use Your Phone at Dinner

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Elizabeth Renstrom for TIME

In-depth new research shows you should know better

It’s official: using your cell phone during a family dinner is frowned upon by pretty much everybody.

A new survey by Pew Research Center found that 88% of respondents believe it’s “generally” not OK to use a cell phone during dinner. An even larger percentage, 94%, say cell phone use is inappropriate during meetings, while 95% say they shouldn’t be used at theaters and 96% say they shouldn’t be used during religious services.

Overall, 82% of respondents say that using a phone in social settings hurts conversations, at least occasionally. However, that fact isn’t stopping people from whipping out their devices. 89% of respondents said they had used their phone during their most recent social gathering, most often to read a text or email, take a photo or send a text.

Pew surveyed 3,000 adults for the study.

There are some contexts in which people think phone use is appropriate. 77% of those surveyed said using a phone while walking down the street is “generally OK.” 75% said phone use is fine on public transportation, and 74% said using a phone is OK while waiting in line.

Men are generally more likely to approve the use of cell phones in social settings than women. Smartphone owners are also more likely to deem the practice appropriate than non-smartphone owners. And unsurprisingly, younger adults have less qualms about using phones in social contexts than older adults do. But even among adults aged 18 to 29, only 16% say it’s OK to use your phone at family dinner. So stop doing that.

TIME Smartphones

Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge+ vs. Samsung Galaxy Note 5

Samsung's latest devices go head-to-head

There’s a lot riding on Samsung’s latest smartphones, the Galaxy S6 Edge+ and Galaxy Note 5. Ever since the South Korean company hit a bit of a rough patch early this year it’s been looking for ways to improve its bottom line. Meanwhile, profits at the company have declined for seven straight quarters, forcing it to cut prices for its Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge.

Samsung is in dire need of a hit device to put the company back on a path towards rising profits, which is hopefully where the Note 5 and S6 Edge+ can help. For the past week I’ve tested both devices, using them non-stop to snap photos, capture videos, and do all the things you’d normally do on a smartphone. And you know what? These devices just might be what Samsung’s looking for.

Design

As noted in a previous story, the company will no longer offer smartphones equipped with microSD card slots and removable batteries and instead offer devices made from svelte aluminum and glass; much to the chagrin of its most faithful of users.

The S6 Edge+ and Note 5 were each crafted with a different type of consumer in mind. The S6 Edge+ is for those who like to watch videos and play games thanks to the immersive experience its curved display lends itself to. Meanwhile, the Note 5, as its lineage dictates, is aimed directly at those who want a productivity device, complete with a stylus for jotting notes and sketching ideas.

Storage options are limited to 32- or 64-gigabytes for both devices, again, with no option to add storage via a memory card. The lack of storage is a confusing omission when looking at the Note 5, a device that’s made a name for itself as a productivity-first device.

Is one device better than the other? It depends on how you plan on using it. I suspect the majority of users will opt for the S6 Edge+ due to its curved design. The S6 Edge+ is lighter and thinner than the Note 5, and overall just feels easier to hold.

The Note 5 was more to difficult hold on, an issue that’s undoubtedly a byproduct of it’s 5.7-inch, but also an unfortunate side effect of its design (and despite the fact the back of the Note 5 is curved in a similar fashion to that of the screen on the S6 Edge+).

The S6 Edge+ is equipped with the same screen size as the Note, and is .7 millimeters thinner on the spec sheet.

Performance

Both devices are equipped with Samsung’s 2.1 GHz Exynos 7420 64-bit octa-core processor, which translates into a fast experience. Apps were always fast to open and close, with no discernible delay. Even after a full day’s use of installing, loading, and customizing over 50 applications, neither device showed signs of slowing down.

The only time I briefly experienced a slight slowdown was when using Samsung’s multi window feature, which allows two apps to run at the same time in a split-screen orientation.

Software

When Samsung launched both devices at its Unpacked event it failed to include one word: TouchWiz. The term refers to Samsung’s divisive proprietary software that runs atop Google’s Android platform, adding features and customization options.

Unfortunately, the omission wasn’t an indication the company had decided to walk away from the interface. The software is still present, for better or worse, and still a hindrance.

For example, S Voice is the company’s digital assistant, much like Apple’s Siri, and responds to voice commands. After summoning your personal assistant, you can ask it for weather updates or to set reminders.

The setup process for S Voice requires you to set your own activation phrase, repeating it several times to train your device. In my case, I opted for “Hey Edge” to beckon its attention. Only, I rarely was able to activate it on first try. Unfortunately, many times the device had no reaction. How did I figure out if I needed an umbrella? I asked Google instead, and it responded nearly every single time.

Compounding the frustrating experience, S Voice would randomly turn on. I can only assume the device thought that it heard my personalized “Hey Edge” command from something on TV or radio, and that whatever it heard did a better job at sounding like me than I did.

Inconsistent experiences such as what I experienced with S Voice are found on both devices’ software. Thankfully, however, most of it can be disabled.

Camera

Samsung put the same 16 megapixel sensor from its previous generation phones in its Note 5 and S6 Edge+.The result means performance is the same, but the larger screens make it easier to frame and setup photos.

Samsung offers different camera modes designed for specific situations, such as sporting events or, yes, even food pics.

Low-light performance was a weak spot, as it is with most smartphone cameras. Instead of grainy photos, however, both devices struggled with capturing the proper white balance. In comparison, the iPhone 6 offered up grainy photos with better balance.

Battery life

The Note 5 and S6 Edge+ are each equipped with a 3,000 milliamp-hour battery. The size may be a disappointment to some, given the battery is smaller than the Note 4 and no longer removable, meaning users can’t simply replace a dead battery with a fully charged spare when needed.

Unlike my experience with Samsung’s smaller flagship devices, the battery life on the Note 5 or S6 Edge+ was a non-issue. I failed to completely deplete either battery throughout the day, in spite of heavy use.

At one point I forgot to place the Note 5 on its charger before bed, and when I woke the battery was at 16%. Normally when this happens—and I think we’ve all been there—you charge your device while you get ready for the work day, and leave the house with a half-charged battery.

However, I plugged the Note 5 in and 15 minutes later the battery had an extra 25%; another 15 minutes later I was nearing 60%. Samsung’s integration of Qualcomm, a quick-charging technology for devices, is an invaluable feature.

Samsung Pay

Unfortunately I wasn’t able to test Samsung Pay on either device during the review period, but the beta is scheduled for launch this month.

Both devices are equipped with the required hardware and—according to Samsung—already contain the software needed to use the mobile payment service once it’s available (users will still need to download the Samsung Pay app to enable it, rather than wait for a software update as is the case for S6 and S6 Edge owners).

If Pay works as advertised, it has the potential to be one of the increasingly rare features capable of changing smartphone use through its ability to work with both standard credit and debit card terminals and NFC readers.

Pricing

Both devices are available starting August 21 across all four major U.S. carriers, plus U.S. Cellular. Pricing is carrier dependent, but most are offering the device at $700 for the 32GB Note 5. Full retail pricing of the 32GB S6 Edge+ is in the neighborhood of $770. Though some carriers such at AT&T still provide the option to sign a two-year contract, putting the cost below $300 for either device.

Samsung’s latest devices carry a steep price tag in a market that’s increasingly seeing quality Android devices hit the market at cheaper prices, and with the added benefit of no contract or monthly payments. For example, the OnePlus 2’s most expensive model is $390, while Motorola’s $399 Moto X will soon be available.

Samsung Galaxy Note 5 vs. S6 Edge+

The Samsung Galaxy Note 5 and Galaxy S6 Edge+ are the best Android smartphones I’ve ever used. Their large, vibrant displays were a joy to look at. I even began to appreciate the curved screen of the S6 Edge+, a departure from the my feelings after using the S6 Edge.

The fingerprint reader is fast, and most importantly, reliable. The camera is one of the best I’ve ever used on a smartphone, giving me pause each time I pulled out my iPhone to snap a photo. The battery offered enough power to get me through an entire day of heavy use.

If I was asked to pick between the S6 Edge+ or the Note 5, I’d be inclined to pick the former. The curved display doesn’t offer any true advantage other than making the device easier to grip, and the Note 5’s biggest differentiator (and only feature worth nothing) is its stylus. Outside of that, both devices offer the same software and hardware experience.

This article originally appeared on Fortune.com

TIME Apple

Tim Cook Says Apple Is Fine Despite China’s Tanking Markets

Apple Unveils iPhone 6
Justin Sullivan—Getty Images Apple CEO Tim Cook.

China is a particularly important market for Apple

Apple CEO Tim Cook told CNBC Monday that the gadget maker’s performance in beleaguered China remains strong, comments that come as the company’s stock has tumbled into a bear market.

Part of why Cook perhaps felt compelled to weigh in: worries of a China-led global economic slowdown have kicked into high gear, with U.S. stocks also bruised. These fears have hit firms with great exposure to the China market especially hard. Apple’s shares have slid some 23% over the past month.

“As you know we don’t give mid-quarter updates and we rarely comment on moves in Apple stock,” Cook wrote in an e-mail Monday morning to CNBC host Jim Cramer.

But Cook went on to sound practically bullish about the market’s recent performance. He said Apple’s growth remained “strong” through July and August, with growth of iPhone activations accelerating in recent weeks. The App Store has also posted record growth the past two weeks, he said. Cook went on to tout the potential of the market, especially with the expanding middle class in China.

China is a particularly important market for Apple, with sales growth in that region outperforming the overall company’s performance. For the latest fiscal year, Greater China sales totaled $29.85 billion, up 135% from just three years earlier. The Greater China segment includes China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan.

Apple has successfully outmaneuvered competitors in the market. Unit growth for iPhones surged 87% in the most recent fiscal quarter, while research firms have estimated the smartphone market expanded by only 5%. That means Apple has been easily stealing market share. Revenue has also been boosted by strong Mac sales and revenue from the company’s App Store.

TIME longform

Why People Can’t Wait for This Phone You’ve Never Heard Of

The OnePlus 2 is out soon in the U.S.

The OnePlus 2, a new smartphone from Chinese company OnePlus, is out soon in the United States. The phone has decent specs, with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 processor, at least 3GB of RAM and a 13-megapixel camera that can shoot 4K video, all running on a lightly modified version of Android 5.1. But what’s really amazing is the phone’s price: Less than $400 without a contract.

That relatively low price is part of the reason why so many Android fans are so excited about the OnePlus 2. Find out more about this game-changing new phone in the video above.

Read next: Hands-On With China’s iPhone Killer

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TIME Smartphones

Hands On With Samsung’s Newest Phones

Meet the Galaxy S6 Edge+ and Note 5

After weeks of rumors and speculation, Samsung finally showcased its two new devices at its “Unpacked” event in New York. The announcement detailed Samsung’s latest flagship smartphones, the Galaxy Note 5 and Galaxy S6 Edge+.

The event and subsequent launch comes nearly a full month earlier than Samsung’s past announcements; a move likely influenced by Apple’s upcoming announcement in September, which will detail the company’s new iPhone lineup.

Unlike previous models, the new phones won’t include a removable battery or expandable storage via a microSD card. Meanwhile, a glass back and metal housing can be found on both devices.

On paper, the devices are nearly identical. Both run Google’s mobile OS, Android 5.1 and are equipped with Samsung’s own Exynos 7420 octa-core processor, a 5.7-inch quad-HD Super AMOLED screen and 4 gigabytes of RAM. It also includes a 16-megapixel camera with optical image stabilization, 3,000 milliamp-hour battery, fingerprint sensor, 32 or 64 gigabytes of storage, and fast charging capabilities.

On the outside, however, it’s clear the two devices are far from identical. The Galaxy S6 Edge+ is best described as a bigger version of the Galaxy S6 Edge; a device that was released in March of this year. Available in black or gold, the highlight feature of the S6 Edge+ is its curved display on either side of the screen.

The S6 Edge+ also includes the capability for users to quickly pull up favorite contacts and apps for quick access; a feature that’s tucked away in one of the curved edges of the display.

Meanwhile, you won’t find a curved display on the Note 5, but that doesn’t mean those same curves have disappeared altogether. The back of the device features curved edges, replicating a similar look and feel to that of the S6 Edge+. Instead of the screen itself curving, the metal back of the Note 5 features the familiar bend Samsung has become well known for which makes the phone easier to grip. The Note 5 looks a lot like the Galaxy S6, although it’ll be impossible to mistake the two.

The Note 5 also offers a redesigned S Pen and upgraded tip for an enhanced writing feel, as well as an extra button on the opposite left side for added functionality. I look forward to trying out the Note 5’s writing feature that turns the device into the digital equivalent of a piece of paper when using the S Pen from the lock screen. When the Note 5’s screen is off and the device is locked, removing the S Pen automatically brings up a blank screen, ready for a quick note taking session. Once you’re done, tap on save and place the pen back into the bottom of the device.

Additionally, the camera app on both devices will include a new live-streaming mode. When enabled, a user can broadcast live videos from his or her device via their YouTube account. Live streaming has quickly become a popular platform, with the introduction of mobile apps Meerkat and Periscope ushering in a new ways to share original content.

My time with both devices was fairly limited; essentially enough time to gather my first thoughts, capture a few photos and ask Samsung reps some questions. The new design approach, which was first introduced with the Galaxy S6 lineup, looks refined on the larger screened devices.

The biggest concern I have with both devices is battery life. The Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge both offered one of the best Android experiences available, but its battery life lasted only about seven hours. The larger batteries in the Note 5 and S6 Edge+ are welcomed, but with larger screens sitting on the front of both devices a bigger battery doesn’t necessarily mean stellar battery life.

The Galaxy Note 5 and Galaxy S6 Edge+ will be available from all four major U.S. carriers starting August 21, with pricing to be announced by each carrier.

This article originally appeared on Fortune.com

TIME Smartphones

See What $200,000 iPhones Look Like

They're plated in gold and encrusted with 50 carats of white diamonds

Luxury design company Brikk, known for its exorbitantly bejeweled Apple devices, launched on Thursday a gold-plated, diamond-studded iPhone 6s line in anticipation of Apple’s ritual unveiling of a new iPhone each September. Brikk’s iPhone 6s devices — that’s what the tech world expects Apple to name its next iPhone — range $7,995 to $199,995, and are available now for pre-order with an expected shipping date of 3-4 weeks after Apple’s official iPhone 6s release.

TIME Smartphones

Is Your Android Phone Still Safe?

Google Unveils Music, Movie Services To Take On Apple, Amazon
Bloomberg—Bloomberg via Getty Images Google Inc.'s Android logo is displayed during a keynote speech at the Google I/O conference in San Francisco, California, U.S., on Tuesday, May 10, 2011.

A nasty new bug is getting phone makers to change their ways

Not everybody suffers from stage fright. But if you happen to own an Android smartphone, you’re particularly susceptible — and it doesn’t matter whether you’re under the spotlight or in the crowd.

A recently exposed vulnerability within Google’s smartphone operating system, “Stagefright” is the name of a exploit that can infect Android handsets without the phone’s owner knowing. The bug has also highlighted problems in how the mobile operating system used by more than half the world’s smartphones gets security updates.

Stagefright was discovered by researchers last month. Technical details aside, it essentially allows hackers to get access to targeted phones’ pictures and other data by sending a message with a malicious video attached. According to Zimperium, the company that uncovered the bug, Stagefright puts 950 million Android devices at risk. But there’s hope: the company reported the problem to Google and submitted patches before telling anyone else.

Alex Rice, co-founder and CTO of security firm HackerOne, Android’s open-source nature is what allowed the bug to be discovered in the first place, because anybody can look under the hood and check for problems. “One of the things that Android does fairly well is that it’s an incredibly open and transparent platform,” Rice says. “Through (Google’s) bug bounty program and a number of other factors, they actively encourage discussion and participation on the security of the platform.”

But uncovering and patching Stagefright is only the beginning. Updates need to be pushed out to 95% of all Android phones to make sure they’re protected. In an odd twist, that’s a feat made more complicated by Android’s open nature. Handset makers like Samsung and HTC alter Google’s stock Android software to differentiate their products from one another with exclusive interfaces and features. But that means they also need to make new security patches compatible with their modified software. Historically speaking, manufacturers haven’t done a great job of pushing out security updates, especially for older phones.

Part of the problem is the business model around mobile phones, Rice says. “If you walk into a Verizon store and purchase a Samsung Galaxy that has a platform built by Google,” he asks, “whose customer are you, in that case?” In that situation, Rice thinks Verizon should own the relationship with the customer, since it’s the company that’s taking their money. “But Verizon is three steps removed from the person who receives the vulnerability report and is capable of fixing it,” he adds.

This lack of accountability makes Android harder to keep secure, a frustration that was enough to make Vice’s Lorenzo Franceschi-Bibbhierai abandon his beloved Android device. Frustrated by the amount of time it takes security updates to filter through Google, handset manufacturers, and carriers, the security journalist argues that Android users are left exposed to bugs. By comparison, he writes, “When there’s a bug on iOS, Apple patches it and can push an update to all iPhone users as soon as it’s ready, no questions asked.”

At this month’s Black Hat USA conference in Las Vegas, an annual gathering of the world’s information security experts, Google made efforts to right the ship. With Stagefright generating a lot of the buzz, one of the talks kicking off the conference was about the state of Android security. Adrian Ludwig, one of Android’s lead security engineers, announced that Google is now committing to monthly, over-the-air security updates for three years on all Google-branded Nexus devices. Samsung and LG are reportedly making similar commitments.

“This is exactly the commitment consumers should demand from manufacturers,” says Rice, who thinks three years is a strong commitment to a device. And while many people wonder if these systemic vulnerabilities spell trouble for the future of Android, the reality is that your Google smartphone is probably safer today than it was last month. Unless you have an older model, of course, in which case you should consider upgrading — like, yesterday.

TIME Smartphones

This Cheap Smartphone Has 1 Simple But Amazing Feature

OnePlus Two
OnePlus OnePlus Two

It blew me away

The OnePlus 2 is probably the most hotly-anticipated smartphone you’ve never heard of. An Android-powered phone from Chinese company OnePlus, it’s meant to take on high-end phones like the iPhone 6 and Samsung Galaxy S6 at a fraction of the price ($329 starting, unlocked). OnePlus has built a small but fervent fanbase thanks to clever marketing techniques, like only selling new phones to shoppers who get an invite from other fans or through online contests.

The OnePlus 2 will be available for order in the U.S. on August 11. I received my review unit Monday, and while it’s too early for a full-blown hands-on, I wanted to quickly highlight one feature that blew me away immediately: The phone’s back cover.

That’s right, the back cover.

Almost every other modern smartphone has a back cover that might as well be made out of soap bar. It took me only weeks of going caseless with my iPhone 6 to see it slip from my clumsy hands and find its way to the New York City pavement, leaving me with a $100 repair bill and a ruined Tuesday evening. Accordingly, lots of smartphone cases on the market — especially the thinner ones — are less about offering protection from impacts and more about adding some actual grip so you don’t drop your $700 device in the first place.

But the OnePlus 2’s back cover — I’m talking about the “Sandstone Black” option — feels something like a smooth sandpaper that’s grippy but also comfortable. I would have absolutely no qualms about going case-commando with this phone. It’s that good.

So, other handset makers, China’s OnePlus just put you on notice. Enough with the super-sleek stuff. Make some grippy phones, please.

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