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The problem is, this phone doesn’t surpass the competition in any one area. And of the things that the U12 Plus gets right, its competition also gets those things right. There’s just no standout reason to buy this phone over the Pixel 2 XL, Galaxy S9 Plus, or even LG’s G7 ThinQ.

This is one of the most eye-catching smartphones on the market right now.

It comes in three color options — translucent blue, flame red, and ceramic (or titanium) black. They all look great, though the blue option will probably be the most popular.

A couple notes on some of the design elements: the ceramic black model is just a color name — it’s not actually made of ceramic. All three color variants are covered in a custom layer of Gorilla Glass on the front and back that’s closer to Gorilla Glass 3 than the newer Gorilla Glass 5. HTCsaid it used this type of glass because it provides strong shatter and scratch resistance, while still allowing the company to manipulate it at extreme angles so the phone is comfortable to hold.

Like other glass phones, the U12 Plus is slippery. You’ll want to throw a case on it to avoid accidental drops.


Despite where the market is headed, HTCis still invested in LCD displays. The HTCU12 Plus comes with a 6.0-inch Super LCD 6 screen with an 18:9 aspect ratio and a Quad HD+ resolution. It’s bright, crisp, and offers great viewing angles. Plus, it gets dim enough for nighttime use and bright enough for outdoor use, so it looks like HTCreally improved its display tech this time around.

The default DCI-P3 color profile is a bit to saturated for my liking, but it’s easy enough to tweak in the settings menu.

Display showdown: AMOLED vs LCD vs Retina vs Infinity Display


While the big, tall display is nice, HTCdoesn’t allow you to swipe down on the fingerprint sensor to pull down the notification shade. This is a feature I use constantly on my Pixel 2 XL, and I really wish it was on the U12 Plus. You can swipe down from anywhere on the home screen to see your notification shade, but it’s not as convenient as using the fingerprint sensor.

HTC included an always-on display this time around, too. Called Smart Display, you can set this ambient screen to appear only when you wake your phone, or have it on at all times. Since the U12 Plus has an LCD display, this feature might use up a little extra battery if you keep it on.

Geekbench 4 gave the HTCU12 Plus a single-core score of 2,362. In comparison, the OnePlus 6 scored 2,454, while the Galaxy S9 scored 2,144. The U12 Plus achieved a multi-core score of 8,910, while the OnePlus 6 scored 8,967, and the Galaxy S9 scored 8,116.

AnTuTu gave the U12 Plus a score of 267,560, compared to the OnePlus 6’s 262,614 and the S9’s 266,559.

Finally, the HTCU12 Plus scored 4,537 in 3D Mark, while the OnePlus 6 and Galaxy S9 scored 4,680 and 4,672, respectively.


The base model HTCU12 Plus comes with 64GB of storage, and you can grab the 128GB model for just $50 more. It also has microSD expansion up to 2TB if you need even more room.

HTC U12 Plus vs the competition: Can HTC’s beast tame the best of the rest?


HTC was one of the first manufactures to to ditch the headphone jack, so it’s no surprise that the U12 Plus doesn’t come with one either. This time around, HTC’s not providing a USB Type-C to headphone jack adapter in the box. You’ll have to buy one from the company’s website if you want to use your wired headphones. That’s pretty annoying.

It comes with a free pair of HTC’s wonderful USonic earbuds, just like last year. These are actually really nice earphones — they can analyze and tune audio specifically for your ear, and they feature active noise cancelation.


The phone’s 3,500mAh cell should offer more than enough power for a full day’s use, but unfortunately that’s not the case. Most days I only get about three hours of screen-on time with a single charge, sometimes up to four hours. A couple hours of streaming podcasts or a few minutes of scrolling through Instagram drains battery much quicker than it should.

That’s pretty atrocious by 2023 standards. Considering devices like the P20 Pro and Mate 10 Pro can achieve about seven or eight hours of screen-on time on a charge, HTC’s numbers aren’t anything to write home about.

In terms of recent HTCdevices, the U12 Plus’ battery is right in the middle. The U11 only came with a 3,000mAh unit, while the U11 Plus, despite its similar size to the U12 Plus, came with a 3,930mAh battery.

The U12 Plus supports Qualcomm’s Quick Charge 4.0, though the included charger only supports Quick Charge 3.0. There’s also support for USB Power Delivery (PD).

Despite its glass exterior, the HTCU12 Plus does not support wireless charging. Bummer.


The U11 and U11 Plus were two of 2023’s best camera phones, and the U12 Plus might be a contender for 2023. It doesn’t rival the Pixel 2’s camera — basically the current benchmark for smartphone photography — but it gets really close.

This time around, HTCincluded two rear-facing cameras — a primary 12MP wide-angle sensor with an ƒ/1.75 aperture and a 16MP telephoto lens with an ƒ/2.6 aperture. Both cameras have both OIS and EIS.

HUAWEI P20 Pro review: The Galaxy S9 killer


The cameras can take astounding shots in well-lit areas, and very good shots in low-light settings. Low-light performance isn’t as good as the P20 Pro, but it is a step up from the U11. And that’s saying something!

Note: The camera samples in this review are cropped. You can see all the full-res images at this Google Drive link.

The rear cameras on the U12 Plus provide rich colors and tons of detail in most shots. If you’re buying this phone for the camera, you won’t be disappointed.

Yet again, HTCmade one of the best camera phones on the market.

Let’s do a quick comparison with the U12 Plus, Pixel 2, and Galaxy S9. In the image below, you can see the Pixel 2’s photo on the left is a bit more saturated than the one from the U12 Plus. The U12 Plus took a great image, but the grass is a little greener, and the sidewalk in the back is darker and more true to life in the Pixel 2’s photo.

The Galaxy S9’s photo on the left (below) is even brighter than the U12 Plus. Samsung’s camera brought out more of the highlights than both other phones. However, there doesn’t appear to be as many differences between these two photos as with the Pixel 2 comparison above.

HTC is slowly but surely but surely adding more features to its camera app. There’s still a pro mode if you want more control over your photos, as well as panorama, hyperlapse, and slow motion video modes.

The camera app itself is a bit laggier than the Galaxy S9 and Pixel 2, but only by milliseconds — it’s barely worth mentioning here.

For what it’s worth, I couldn’t reproduce the issue on any other phone.

The dual-camera setup allows the U12 Plus to take portrait shots with a bokeh effect, just like most other phones. There are two different ways to take bokeh shots: automatically or manually. Automatic bokeh shots snap a photo and have HTC’s camera app decide how much to blur the background, while manual bokeh mode lets you adjust a slider before you take the photo. You can also edit the amount of blur after the photo has been taken, too.

Selfies taken with the U12 Plus are generally good, though it can be hard to capture a clear photo if you’re not completely still.

There’s also a beauty mode built into the camera app that lets you adjust your face for smoothness, brightness, eye size, and face structure. This mode is way too intense, even at the lowest setting. You’re better off just turning this off altogether.

I ran into a few more inconsistencies with the portrait mode on the front-facing camera. The phone struggles to tell hair and the background apart much more often than with the rear-facing camera. You’ll just have to make sure you’re in a well-lit area if you want portrait mode to look good.

Oh, and there are new AR stickers built into the camera app, which can be used with the front or rear cameras. There are some fun ones like dogs, pandas, or cats, but also some questionable ones.

Feel free to preview the camera samples below, or view the full versions on Google Drive.

HTC U12 Plus camera samples

The big new software feature on the U12 Plus is Edge Sense 2, an updated version of that “squeeze thing” that launched on the U11. This is one of the best parts of the phone.

There are three new additions to Edge Sense this time around: smart rotate, smart dim, and a new double-tap gesture. Smart rotate will come in handy when you’re lying in bed looking at your phone. When the U12 Plus senses you’re holding it in portrait mode, a slight tip of the device will no longer accidentally trigger auto-rotate. This actually comes in handy quite often.

Smart dim is one of those set-it-and-forget-it features. When you’re holding the U12 Plus, the screen won’t dim even if the screen timeout is up.

Finally, you can now double-tap either side of the phone to perform a specific action. By default, a double-tap will trigger one-handed mode, which shrinks the screen to a much more manageable size. You can set the double-tap gesture to pretty much anything, though — it can launch your favorite apps, go back, launch a floating navigation bar, or trigger your default voice assistant.

Double-tapping the side of the phone is nice and all, but I don’t think it’s a feature many people will use in the long run. Since this phone is glass, slippery, and will probably crack if you drop it, you’ll need to buy a case for your U12 Plus. You won’t be able to use the double-tap gesture if you get a case that protects all edges of this phone.

Of course, all the other wonderful squeezy features have returned. A short or long-squeeze can launch any app of your choice, control music playback, launch the Edge Launcher, expand or collapse your notification shade, and more. I set my short squeeze to launch Google Assistant (I got used to it on my Pixel 2), and a long-squeeze launches the camera app (since it’s too hard to double-tap the power button). Amazon Alexa integration is here too, for those who aren’t fans of Google Assistant.

We’d also recommend downloading the Edge Sense Plus app for even more customization.


The U12 Plus is a great phone that doesn’t surpass the competition in any meaningful ways.

The problem is, this phone doesn’t surpass the competition in any area. What the U12 Plus gets right, its competition also gets right. There’s just no standout reason to buy this phone over the Pixel 2 XL, Galaxy S9 Plus, or even the LG G7 ThinQ.

This is a good phone marred by a lackluster software experience, terrible buttons, below average battery life, and a price tag that’s too high. If you can get past those things, buy it. I don’t think you’ll regret it. For most people, I’d say it’s safe to pass on the U12 Plus.

Next: LG G7 ThinQ review: Bright, loud, and smart

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Htc Windows Phone 8X Review

The HTC 8X is one of the first smartphones to grace the world running on the new and improved Windows Phone 8. While it might be hard to notice at first glance, this is an entirely new Windows Phone and a step up from Mango. Everything is faster, better, HD, and more personal. This is the most personal and most customizable Windows Phone yet. There’s tons to talk about with Windows Phone 8 as far as software, so here’s a few bullet points regarding what’s new. Windows Phone 8 now has a re-imagined and more personal start screen. Their live tiles are as friendly as ever, and highly customizable. WP8 supports higher resolution displays, multi-core processors, a better camera app, native screenshots, lockscreen notifications and shortcuts, Kid’s Corner, enhanced sync and backup, and much more.

To get a better feel about Windows Phone 8 and what’s new, you’ll want to check out our in-depth Windows Phone 8 Review. For now, we’ll just rundown a few things here specifically for the HTC 8X and what we enjoyed with Windows Phone 8. Based on more than just Windows 8’s kernel this is Windows 8 in a way, for mobile. Everything is extremely smooth, fluid, and efficient. Boot times are quick, memory management is awesome, and this device flies thanks to the 1.5 GHz dual-core processor support.

Below is an in-depth video showing you many of the new things mentioned above with Windows Phone 8. You’ll see the impressive new personalized experience with live tiles and sizes, lockscreen shortcuts and notifications, kid’s corner to save you from your children, and more. Everything is faster, smoother, easier, and funner with Windows Phone 8. You’ll be flowing through tiles in no time.

The People app now has an improved “What’s new” stream where you can get updates and status details from all your friends and contacts. Now with support for Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. What makes this even more unique and personal is groups. With groups you can set certain friends or family members you wish to see what’s new and status updates from. This will cut out the clutter as I’m sure you don’t need to know what everyone in your entire contact list posts to Facebook — but the option is there.

Without getting too in-depth here the video above should give you an excellent idea of what to expect from not only Windows Phone, but Windows Phone 8. I’m sure many are looking at this option for the first time, as are there some die-hard Windows fans that can’t wait to upgrade. As far as competing with iOS and Android, this is only just the beginning of Windows Phone, but we’re starting to see their direction with 8. The start screen is the focal point of their streamlined, yet personalized experience. Managing to do both at once is a real task. With iOS your iPhone will look just like those around you, and with Android all the widgets are awesome, but they have custom skins, tons of different OS versions floating around (fragmentation) and more. While I’m not here to say which is better, Windows Phone 8 feels very similar, smooth, and streamlined — yet offers more personalization than anything available today.

With the App Store approaching 700k apps for iOS, over 650,000 for Android, and about 125,000 for Windows Phone the options are still limited, but certainly headed in the right direction. Now that Windows Phone 8 supports HD resolution displays, dual-core processors and more, we expect app and game developers to really step up their game. Whether or not they will remains to be seen however. This is only the beginning folks. The beginning of a driven Microsoft team, so stay tuned!

Htc U Ultra Review: Flawed Beauty

HTC U Ultra Review: Flawed Beauty

The fans won’t want to hear it, but HTC has made a misstep with the HTC U Ultra. Flagship follow-up to last year’s HTC 10, it promises high-style and plenty of functionality to go with its premium $749 price tag, and there’s no denying that its high-gloss glass body caught my magpie-like eye. All the same, some questionable hardware decisions have left me frustrated.

You can’t argue with the U Ultra’s style, particularly in this beautiful blue finish. HTC offers white and black versions, but really it’s the deep blue you want: it shows off how the engineers ran color through the molded glass, rather than just underneath it, most effectively. They call it “liquid surface” and it’s stunning.

It’s also more eager for your fingerprints than USCIS at an airport, and if it’s not picking up greasy smudges then it’s breaking your heart with a growing number of tiny scratches. HTC claims you can drop the U Ultra from more than three feet and not have it smash, but it still includes a – not especially premium-feeling – clear plastic case in the box. The front is Gorilla Glass 5.

Dropping it is a reasonable fear to have, too, since the U Ultra is noticeably slippery. It’s a big device as well, and the tapering sides join at a similarly untextured metal frame; neither is especially conducive to a firm grip. Unlike many phones in the price bracket, it’s not waterproof.

HTC has clearly had a shot of whatever strong beverage gave Apple the “courage” to drop the 3.5mm headphone jack, too. Despite the size of the handset, the U Ultra only bears a USB Type-C port, doubling for power and audio. Annoyingly, where you at least get an adapter for regular headphones in the box with the iPhone 7, HTC wants to sell you that separately.

Bizarrely, the bundled USB-C “USonic” headphones – though admittedly sounding pretty decent, particularly if you take the time to tune them to your ears in the settings – only work with HTC’s phone. It’s a baffling and, frankly, ridiculous situation: the whole point of USB-C is that it cuts down what cables we have to carry. At least the built-in audio, which uses the earpiece speaker and a second speaker on the bottom, sounds loud and balanced, even if it’s not quite as punchy a set-up as the original HTC BoomSound.

Behind the Gorilla Glass 5 – or, if you’re super-swish and step up to the $1k, version, sapphire – you find a 5.7-inch Super LCD5 screen. Viewing angles are broad, colors punchy and accurate – if on the cool side, compared to what many are now used to from Super AMOLED; HTC offers options to tweak up the warmth if it’s annoying you – and the 1440p resolution is crisp, and it’s only the vast bezels top and bottom that detract from the whole affair. It seems a little unfair to compare the U Ultra to Samsung’s new Galaxy S8 and S8+ but, honestly, they’re priced in the same bracket, and what Samsung has done with the super-skinny frame around its “Infinity Display” makes HTC’s engineering look archaic.

HTC does try to even the score somehow with how those bezels are used. At the bottom, there’s a fingerprint sensor built into a capacitive home button, flanked by back and app-switcher buttons. I do prefer a fingerprint sensor on the front of a phone rather than the back, since it’s easier to unlock it while it’s sat on a desk or nightstand.

At the top, meanwhile, is the U Ultra’s secondary display. Just as on the LG V20, it runs nearly the full width of the phone – on paper it’s 2-inches, though it’s a wide and shallow rectangle that stops short of the full width of the phone so as to accommodate the front-facing camera – and can be powered on separately from the main panel in the name of frugality. It’s designed to work as a launcher, notification ticker, calendar preview, and media control.

That it does, though there are limits to how useful it actually is. Unlike with Super AMOLED phones, the U Ultra’s secondary display isn’t constantly on: you need to double-tap, lift, or wait for a notification to arrive in order for it to light up. You can swipe left and right to access the different screens.

In HTC’s defense, many of those frustrations could be addressed with a software update. Indeed, for the most part, the software side of the U Ultra is solid. As we’ve seen on other recent HTC devices, the company has taken a surprisingly rational approach to apps, defaulting to Android’s own for the most part. So, you get the Google Photos app rather than HTC’s Gallery, and Chrome rather than the HTC Browser.

The question is whether HTC has the commitment to actually follow that up with regular Android updates, and there the future is a little less certain. The latest firmware available for the phone, for instance, is Android 7.0 with the January 1st 2023 security patch. HTC says Android 7.1 is on the cards, just as you’d hope, but there’s no public timescale for its release.

Otherwise, the big change this time around is the arrival of HTC Sense Companion. It was billed as an artificial intelligence that promises to handle the minutiae of your day, whether that be tracking power management settings to make sure you have enough juice to get through the commute home, or suggesting somewhere nearby for lunch. Part AI, part bot, the idea is that it will add the useful charm to the U Ultra’s clean design, and really give the secondary display something to shout about. In reality, suggestions are few and far between – which does at least mean you don’t suffer an over-chatty assistant – and I suspect most will stick with Google’s similar services.

At least everything runs fast on the Snapdragon 821 chipset with 4GB of RAM and Adreno 530 graphics. Internal storage is a healthy 64GB – the more expensive U Ultra doubles that to 128GB – and there’s a microSD slot for up to 256GB cards. No, it might not be the Snapdragon 835 that the Galaxy S8 is rocking, but it’s plenty swift enough.

Just when I was starting to think I couldn’t fault HTC’s spec decisions, however, you get to the battery. That it’s non-removable isn’t a surprise, but that it’s only 3,000 mAh in size seems bizarre given the scale of the handset overall. You get Fast Charging 3.0 with the supplied charger, which is a plus, but no wireless charging, which is a minus.

The result is a phablet-size device that can last a whole day, but not always. Use that big display for too much video, gaming, or even just browsing the web at reasonable brightness, and you might find you need a top-up come the evening. If you’re not as wedded to your phone as I am – and I admit, I’m a heavy user – you could probably get a day and a half, but it’s still enough to make you wish for at least the 3,500 mAh that Samsung fits in the Galaxy S8+.

As for the camera, it falls somewhere along the same lines: solid, but lacking sparkle. HTC’s strategy of using sensors with big pixels, not to mention its welcome return to optical image stabilization, and the inclusion of both phase-detection and laser autofocus, should make for a top-tier shooter. That’s doubly so when you consider the that the 12-megapixel camera protrudes not-inconsiderably from the back of the phone.

With the right lighting and the right scene, the U Ultra captures great images. These days, of course, that’s table-stakes. Where things begin to stumble is when you throw in occasionally confused exposure settings – which can leave some areas of the frame blown out, despite the HDR mode – or more blur than you’d expect, from it forcing slower shutter speeds in low-light conditions. That’s a bonus if you can supply it with the steadiness of a tripod; unfortunately, the OIS isn’t a miracle worker for handheld shots.

To get the best results you need to switch into Pro mode and adjust things manually, but while I’m glad that’s offered – along with RAW image capture – I wish it wasn’t so necessary. When you can point-and-shoot with an iPhone 7, Galaxy S7, or LG G6 and expect great results in full-auto mode, I don’t see why the U Ultra can’t do the same. It’s good, but it’s not going to stand out of the pack.

Oddly, the front camera is higher resolution than the rear. HTC opted for a 16-megapixel sensor with a fairly wide-angle lens, and you can certainly fit plenty into your selfies. Though there’s no LED flash, the U Ultra can co-opt the display’s backlight for impromptu illumination.

Meizu Pro 6 Plus Review

Our Verdict

Running Flyme OS 5 out of the box, the well-built Meizu Pro 6 Plus is a fantastic Android phone with some seriously good performance, a vibrant and high-resolution screen and a decent camera. Unfortunately, though cheaper than UK flagships, at £399 (before import duty) it’s still too pricey to properly compete with the Galaxy S7 and OnePlus 3T. Neither are we in love with Flyme OS.

You’ll have noticed a number of Chinese phones pass through the doors of our Test Centre these days. Quite simply, that’s because they rival UK-sold smartphones on design and features, but come at a much lower price. The Meizu Pro 6 Plus is one of the more expensive examples to come to our attention, available from Geekbuying at £399.05 ($512.99/471.75€), but it’s also one of the most powerful. Also see: Best Chinese phones 2023

Consider that this price puts it on par with the OnePlus 3T, a highly soughtafter, incredibly powerful flagship Android phone (for now – the OnePlus 5 is due any day) that also costs £399. Now consider that in place of the OnePlus 3T’s 5.5in full-HD screen you get a 5.7in Quad-HD panel, and a design reminiscent of the iPhone 6s Plus. Performance is very good from the Exynos 8890 chip and 4GB of DDR4 RAM (that’s the same setup as in the Galaxy S7), if not as exemplary as that of the OnePlus 3T.

However, before you rush off and buy the Meizu Pro 6 Plus over the OnePlus 3T, there are a couple of other considerations you need to be aware of. First, the OnePlus 3T is sold direct from the company or via major mobile operators such as O2, which means help is easily at hand should anything go wrong. By comparison the Meizu Pro 6 Plus is sold by Geekbuying, a Chinese importer through which support will be less readily available (it’s also available direct from Meizu, but only if you live in China). Though we’ve never personally had an issue dealing with Geekbuying, you should know that your rights are different when purchasing from China than they are the UK and Europe.

Second, because you’ll be importing this phone from China you’ll legally be responsible for paying VAT duty. Of course some parcels get through Customs without a whisper of a fine, and others get around exorbitant costs by lowering the value on the shipping paperwork (your fee is calculated at 20 percent of this value plus an admin fee of around £11), but if you are asked to pay import duty you do have to do so. Naturally this will raise the overall cost of the phone, so it’s worth factoring into your budget. You can read more about the risks associated with buying Chinese tech in our article on the pros and cons of purchasing grey-market tech.

It’s also worth pointing out that the other UK-sold phone we mentioned there – last year’s category-leading Galaxy S7 – can now be bought SIM-free from Amazon for just a little over £400. And while you might choose the Meizu over the OnePlus 3T, you certainly wouldn’t the Samsung Galaxy S7.

You’ll also like: Best big-screen phones 2023

Meizu Pro 6 Plus design and build

Meizu has built the Pro 6 Plus to a high standard, with a metal unibody design (available in gold, as seen here, grey or silver) and a clean white fascia that will ring familiar with iPhone 6s Plus users. It’s not a carbon copy of the iPhone, with a rectangular rather than circular front-facing home button and some other little tweaks, but you can easily see the similarities, right down to the top- and bottom antenna lines and Designed by Meizu logo on the rear.

One of those tweaks can be found at the back, right about where you might expect to see an Apple logo, and it’s something that marks a first for us in phone reviews: a 10-LED flash ring that sits below a centrally located 12Mp camera. It looks and, on paper, sounds cool, but in practise isn’t any more adept at low-light photography than some dual-LED flashes we’ve tried.

The camera itself juts out of the chassis only a small amount, which pleasingly stops the handset rocking on a flat surface and also detracting from the overall design. Also see: Best Android phones 2023

A single speaker grille is found on the bottom edge of the handset, alongside a fast USB-C 3.1 port and a 3.5mm headphone jack. On the right edge you’ll find a volume rocker and power button, and on the left a pin-operated dual-SIM tray. So, everything is pretty much where you’d expect to find it.

That is until you go to actually use the phone, and that’s when you realise Meizu has implemented a horrible button setup akin to that of the iPhone. (And that’s not the only iPhone-esque change when it comes to usability, because there’s also no app tray to be found.)

Rather than finding physical or, more often these days, capacitive buttons for home, back and multitasking, the Meizu Pro 6 Plus has just one central button. It’s well done and looks good, with a gold trim and a flush design, but it’s a nightmare to get your head around.

You tap it to go back, or press to go home. To access multitasking you swipe up from the bottom edge of the screen either side of the home button – something we found out entirely by accident.

Also integrated to this home button is a fast and responsive mTouch fingerprint scanner, which admittedly works very well.

For a device with a large 5.7in screen the Meizu is very comfortable to hold in a single hand, and it’s not overly heavy at just 158g. This ergonomic design is achieved through a slim 7.3mm chassis that is slightly rounded at the edges, as well as slim screen bezels to the left and right, together reducing the distance your finger might ever need to stretch across the display.

The display itself is a good one, and one of few Quad-HD panels we’ve seen in Chinese phones. This is a Super AMOLED panel, which is our favourite kind of screen tech, with punchy, vibrant colours and rich and proper blacks. Brightness and overall quality isn’t as high as you’d find on Samsung’s Quad-HD phones, but it’s certainly difficult to fault.

That said, Meizu doesn’t specify whether any protective glass is in use here, and being a Chinese phone you will likely find it more difficult to source a protective case. Also see: Best mid-range phones 2023

Another similarity with Samsung phones is the implementation of an Always-on display. When activated (it’s off by default), you’ll be able to see at a glance what is the time, date and remaining battery capacity simply by looking at the screen. The feature uses a tiny amount of battery power, and should actually reduce the amount of power you use overall as you aren’t constantly waking the screen to check the time.

Of course, battery life isn’t really something you need to worry about with the Pro 6 Plus, since its 3,400mAh battery should easily last you two days of use. It doesn’t support wireless charging like Samsung’s rival, but it does seemingly just keep on going. (And you can always use a power bank if you need more.)

One thing we’d like to see in the Meizu Pro 6 Plus’ follow-up is waterproofing protection, which is beginning to make its way on to the UK smartphone market but less so in China.

Meizu Pro 6 Plus core hardware and performance

We mentioned earlier that the Meizu Pro 6 Plus has the same core hardware setup as the Galaxy S7, and that really is impressive for a phone at this price point – so far it’s something only OnePlus has managed to achieve in the UK mainstream mobile phone market. Also see: What’s the fastest phone?

Its performance in our benchmarks was lower than both those phones, yet still evident of an extremely capable device. We found operation smooth and fluid. It’s worth pointing out that benchmark scores can fluctuate from one minute to the next, and that they can be easily gamed (pointing no fingers here). Plus the OnePlus 3T benefits from an extra couple of gigs of RAM.

Leading the show here is one of Samsung’s own Exynos 8890 processors, an octa-core chip with four Cortex-A53 cores running at 2GHz and four at 1.6GHz. You should note that if you buy the 128GB storage model (our review model came with 64GB of fast UFS 2.0 storage, but no possibility of expansion through microSD) these cores are clocked higher at 2.3- and 1.6GHz respectively.

Integrated to this processor is the ARM Mali-T880 MP10 GPU (MP12 in the 128GB model), which is paired with 4GB of LPDDR4 memory.

You can see the results of our benchmarks in comparison to the Galaxy S7 and OnePlus 3T in the graph below.

Meizu Pro 6 Plus connectivity and extra features

dual-SIM operation. This works in dual-standby mode, which in essence means both SIMs can send and receive calls and text messages at once but only one can be specified for data usage. If you have separate contracts for work and play, or home and abroad, this could be very useful.

But while we’re on the subject of connectivity, you should note that the Meizu does not support the 800MHz 4G connectivity band. There are three 4G bands in use in the UK – 800MHz, 2100MHz and 2600MHz – of which it supports only the latter two.

All the UK’s major mobile networks have bandwidth in the 800MHz space, but only O2 (and providers that piggyback its network, such as Sky Mobile and Giffgaff) rely on it for 4G coverage. Should you subscribe to one of these networks you will not be able to access 4G; if you’re on a different network then depending where you are you may find your coverage is a bit more patchy. Also see: How to tell whether a phone is supported by your network.

Most other connectivity bases are covered, with support for dual-band 802.11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.1 LE, GPS and GLONASS, and NFC.

The other thing missing here is microSD support for storage expansion, though even the lower 64GB model offers a generous amount of space for your apps, media and other files. Also see: How to add storage to Android

The mTouch fingerprint scanner works well, though is said to also build in a heart-rate scanner. This is not currently available on the international model, though a software update may change this. Either way, we’ve found the inclusion of heart-rate scanners on rival phones such as the Galaxy S7 somewhat gimmicky.

Meizu Pro 6 Plus cameras

For photography the Meizu Pro 6 Plus is pretty hot, though perhaps not as much as you might be expecting given that fancy 10-LED flash ring, six-piece lens, 12Mp, f/2.0 sensor and four-axis OIS. In most situations we found very pleasing, natural results with a good amount of detail and colour, and we liked the toned-down but accurate effect of HDR mode.

Detail is very good on the whole but noise isn’t completely out of the picture, especially in low-light. In such situations the Meizu can also have difficulty focusing, despite its laser autofocus and PDAF.

To accompany the main Sony IMX386 camera is an app that offers both Auto and Manual modes, plus real-time filters. You can also switch to 4K or Slow-mo video recording and a six-second GIF-creation mode. Also see: Best phone cameras 2023

Turn around the camera to access the 5Mp, f/2.0 selfie shooter and many of the same modes, including a beauty mode.

Check out a couple of our test images below, taken in Auto and HDR modes respectively.

Meizu Pro 6 Plus software

Software is, unfortunately, one of the drawbacks for the Meizu Pro 6 Plus – at least for UK users. Google Play is not preinstalled and neither are any Google apps. That’s quite a big deal in the UK.

There’s an easy workaround, though, and if you’re not prompted via a notification to install Google services as we were you can find the Google Installer in the Hot Apps store on the home screen. But we’d imagine this whole process could be unnerving for a less-techie Android user.

As we mentioned in the build and design section, we’re really not keen on the single button mode of operation for accessing both home and back functions, and the way you access the multitasking menu is not especially user-friendly. Or obvious. Also see: Best phones 2023

The app shortcuts sprawled all over the home screen rather than tucked out of sight in an app tray is something we’re starting to feel more comfortable having spent some time with Xiaomi phones, which also favour this approach. You can tidy things up by dragging things into folders, but it’s just not Android as it was intended.

Flyme OS 5.2.7 is preinstalled on the phone, but an upgrade to Flyme OS 6 is promised. It builds in a feature called 3D Press, which should enable you to preview contents, display shortcuts or perform an operation by applying a different amount of pressure to the screen, though even enabled we had difficulty trying to get it to do anything.

You can place anywhere onscreen a SmartTouch button, which can be used as a back button or to switch between tasks, return to the home screen on open the notification bar. The screen isn’t really large enough to require it, but it’s a part of the OS.

The Meizu also supports gestures in standby mode, allowing you to draw onscreen various letters or patterns to wake and load an app of your choice.

The notification bar is also a little different. Pull this down to access customisable quick-access toggles for Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and so on, plus a screen brightness slider.

We also downloaded the open beta of Flyme OS 6.7.3 on the Meizu Pro 6 Plus, and found several new features. Some of our favourites include Time Machine, which lets you retrieve data that has accidentally been deleted, as well as the new lock, secret and split-view controls for multitasking and new ability for taking extended screenshots. Also see: How to back up Android

If you’re the secretive type you’ll also like the new Privacy mode, which allows you to secretly store contacts, apps, photos, videos and files. These can be accessed by entering a different PIN code from the lock screen.

Other tweaks include some UI changes, with the Meizu Pro 6 Plus offering smart notifications – those considered to be of less importance are tucked away in a storage box icon at the top right corner of the drop-down notification bar.

And Meizu has tweaked some multimedia controls with a new intelligent facial beautification algorithm for the zero-delay camera, as well as new editing tools in the Gallery app for video.

Read next: Best new phones

Specs Meizu Pro 6 Plus: Specs

5.7in WQHD (2560×1440, 518ppi) Super AMOLED display, 3-600cd/m2 brightness, 10,000:1 contrast, 103% NTSC colour gamut, always-on display

Flyme OS 5.2.7 out of the box but upgradable to Flyme OS 6 (based on Android Marshmallow)

2GHz Exynos 8890 octa-core processor

Mali-T880 MP10 GPU (MP12 in 128GB model)


64GB/128GB UFS 2.0 storage

FDD-LTE 1800/2100/2600MHz

dual-SIM dual-standby

dual-band 802.11ac Wi-Fi

Bluetooth 4.1



12Mp Sony IMX386 camera, 6P lens

1.25um pixels, 10-LED ring flash, f/2.0 aperture, four-axis optical image stabilisation, laser focus, PDAF

5Mp f/2.0 selfie camera, 5P lens

MTouch fingerprint scanner

ESS ES9018K2M + AD45275 hi-fi audio chips

USB-C 3.1

3,400mAh battery



You Could Get The Plague (But Probably Won’t)

This story has been updated. It was originally published on May 10, 2023.

Today, the scariest thing about the plague is its name.

Given Yersinia pestis‘ past, the ominous classification is indeed justified: Over the course of human history, we’ve witnessed three severe outbreaks that have wiped out, on most occasions, more than half the population in the infected area. So when news that people caught the plague—and died from it—comes out, it can be downright frightening. But the reality is that, despite the name, the plague is just another dangerous species of bacteria. These days we can identify and treat patients with antibiotics before they develop pneumonic plague, when their coughs can spew droplets of bacteria into the air for others to inhale. But the microbe still lingers, mostly in animal populations. On occasion, it pops up in humans.

But that doesn’t mean you are likely to get the plague. In fact, in the grand scheme of today’s infectious diseases, it is by far one of the least likely microbes for the average American to pick up—even if they travel the world. But since you asked, here’s a breakdown of how you might contract this persistent disease.

The world’s first big run-in with Yersinia pestis was the Justinian Plague that began in 541 AD. That was followed by the even more sinister-sounding Black Death or Great Plague in the 1340s, which claimed just over half of the entire population of Europe at the time. Rounding those out is the Modern Plague, which began in China in the 1860s. Scientists finally identified the disease as an infectious agent that time around, caused by a bacterium and spread to humans mostly via fleas. Rats and other rodents like mice and squirrels would become infected with the bacterium, die, and their fleas, now also infected, would look for the next closest living species to feed on—humans.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, smaller outbreaks of the plague have been reported in India in the early 20th Century, in Vietnam in the 1960s and 70s, and most recently, Sub-Saharan Africa and Madagascar, which make up the majority of the cases seen today. It also pops up occasionally in the United States. In New Mexico, for example, most residents are aware of the disease, and know they could potentially contract it.

[Related: Five things you might not know about the plague (not including the fact that it still exists)]

Better sanitation has helped us thwart any further epidemics. “You don’t see outbreaks like the middle ages and that’s because of sanitation. Back then, people would sleep on hay mattresses on the floor,” says Sandra Melman, an epidemiologist at the New Mexico Department of Health. “There was also no pest control. Now, homes are much better at keeping pests like mice and rats out.”

Despite its ability to turn deadly fast—the bacterium has an incubation period of a few days, and when it does kill it does so in one to seven days—the infectious Yersinia Pestis is also very responsive to antimicrobial drugs. Prior to the discovery of antibiotics in the 1940s, the plague killed about 66 percent of those it infected, especially people who were already sick and the elderly. But once we had drugs that could treat it, those numbers dropped drastically. Today, in the United States, the plague turns deadly only in about 11 percent of cases.

Why is the plague still around?

While the majority of human plague cases in earlier centuries were probably brought about through flea bites, the bacterium also spread rapidly through rat populations. Those infections were mostly eliminated in city and urban rats, but the disease made its way to rural populations of rodents. It’s these carriers, according to the CDC, that have allowed the bacterium to persist today.

The plague first made its way to the United States in the early 1900s on commercial trading ships through various port cities, including ones on the west coast, like San Francisco. From there, the bacterium spread via fleas, rats, and other rodents to rural areas throughout the country. While it has all but died out in other parts of the country, it has remained endemic to the four corners (where Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, and Arizona meet) and other parts of the west and southwest.

According to the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, 21,725 cases of the plague were reported from 2000 to 2009. Of those cases, about 7.5 percent were fatal. Most of them were in Africa. Just 56 individual occurred in the United States, of which 7 were fatal. Those cases occurred in Colorado, Arizona, California, Oregon, and Nevada, but mostly in New Mexico. As of 2023, the CDC has confirmed an additional 11 cases of the plague, sprinkled throughout those states (aside from Nevada) and one in Georgia.

The reason, according to Sandra Melman, is because of the specific rodent populations that thrive in the area. Melman says prairie dogs are particularly prone to the bacterium, with the plague wiping out 95 to 99 percent of affected populations. “When this happens, hungry fleas, rodents, and other animals take over the leftover food that the prairie dogs left. And they go back and forth from where the prairie dogs are to where humans are,” Melman says. “We call this an epizootic event.”

This is also the reason the plague is so hard to eliminate. “Once you have more than one host and vector, you would have to eliminate all rodents, fleas, and other animals that have come in contact, and that is nearly impossible,” Melman says.

But prairie dogs only thrive in some parts of the country. Past the 100th Meridian, which is where the Great Plains begin, the environment is not ideal for these animals, Melman says. Without prairie dogs, the chances of the plague remaining endemic in any region goes down.

[Related: What a 5,000-year-old plague victim reveals about the Black Death’s origins]

Why New Mexico in particular? Malman says the plague is more likely there than neighboring states because most of the states’ residents live in rural areas where contact with plague-carrying animals in more common. Indeed, about half of the U.S.’s human cases of the plague in recent years have been found there. Each year, the Land of Enchantment sees a handful of cases, in both humans and animals, like dogs and rats. In April of this year, New Mexico reported its first confirmed case this year of the plague in an animal, a ranch dog in Quay County, east of Albuquerque. For those living in these potentially plague-ridden areas, that can seem pretty scary. But if you live in a plague-prone region, just stay up-to-date on the symptoms.

The plague can take on three common forms: bubonic, pneumonic, and septicemic. In all three, people experience general symptoms like fever, chills, and malaise, but pneumonic can affect the lungs and feel like pneumonia; septicemic can attack a person’s blood and tissue and even turn their hands and feet black—a sure sign you should see a doctor; and bubonic, the disease’s most notorious form, can cause extremely swollen and bulb-like lymph nodes in the armpits and groin. If you have symptoms of this bacterial infection, it’s important to catch them early. Without antibiotic treatment, the plague turns deadly in about 50 to 60 percent of cases.

Melman says the best way to tell if you have the plague versus any other illness is the swiftness of the disease’s onset. “In most cases a person is going to be fine and then get very, very sick with fevers of 102, 103, 104, which hits very quickly. You are fine, and then you wake up and it hits you really quick.” She also says that unlike bubonic or septicemic, the pneumonic type is most infectious. In New Mexico, she says, once a person with this type of plague has been identified, they treat with antibiotics anyone with which that person has come into contact.

But by far, Melman says, the best strategy is prevention. For people who have pet dogs and cats, don’t let them roam free, and be sure to treat them with flea medication. For hunters in rural areas, cook the meat thoroughly and carefully. While most New Mexicans know about the plague, for those new or visiting, public health campaigns and education are key.

If you don’t live in areas where the plague has been identified, it’s incredibly unlikely that you’ll be infected with the bacterium. Regardless, remember that despite the name, this disease can easily be treated with antibiotics. Recognizing the symptoms and seeking proper treatment is key.

Kingzone N3 Plus Review : Worth A Second Try?

Kingzone didn’t abandon the idea behind the N3 and try to deliver once again in form of the Kingzone N3 Plus. This handset packs a better 64-bit SoC, more memory and more RAM into the same body we are already used to, all that at an attractive pricing. But is that enough? Did they repeat any of the past mistakes? Let’s check that out!

Kingzone N3 Plus Review: Packaging, Design, Build

At the first look the Kingzone N3 Plus is delivered in the very same box as the original N3. And indeed this first impression gets confirmed as soon as you take a look at the boxes rear. A sticker with the specs of the phone is glued on there, and if you remove it, the specs of the original 32-bit device appear printed on the box. It even packs the same accessories as the predecessor, those being documentation, one protective film, a plastic bumper, headphones, one micro USB cable, one 1A wall charger and even an OTG cable.

The design of the Kingzone N3 Plus is identical with the original N3. There isn’t any difference both in the look and feel and the build quality. Now that’s actually a little disappointing. Don’t get that wrong: The Kingzone N3 Plus is a well made and nice-looking handset, but Kingzone actually once told us that in the future they are going to use a real metal body. That actually didn’t happen which is sad because it would’ve set this phone miles apart from any MT6732 based handset out there right now.

Kingzone N3 Plus Review: Display Kingzone N3 Plus Review: Hardware & Performance

Now performance and specs is where the most has been changed compared to the old N3. The Kingzone N3 Plus comes equipped with a MT6732 64-bit quad-core SoC clocked at 1.5GHz, 2GB of RAM and 16GB of internal memory. Other specs remain the same except the support for NFC, which has been dropped – something we do not understand at all. Kingzone also seem to have changed the e-compass used inside the N3 Plus, as it isn’t working as well as it used to anymore. We had issues of a constantly spinning compass with several (but not all) apps.

Performance has been greatly improved of course due to the powerful SoC and the 1GB of additional RAM. Not only multi-tasking with apps is a breeze, playing the latest games is as well. Comparing the real-life performance of the N3 Plus to the N3, we would say the N3 Plus is about three times as fast as the old MT6582 based handset. That’s quite impressive and once again shows that Mediatek really did some magic with those new 64-bit chipsets.

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Kingzone N3 Plus Review: Software

The Kingzone N3 Plus is running Android 4.4.4 KitKat – the norm for all MTK 64-bit handsets these days. Of course a Lollipop update will be released in the future, but expect that to take until June, as Mediatek postponed the final sources on those chipsets till then. As usual, Kingzone left their ROM stock Android and only included their own launcher. There isn’t any pre-installed bloatware and the ROM comes with support for off-screen gestures, Mediatek MiraVision and notification LED control. Sadly, Kingzone forgot about one very important thing: Unified storage is missing! These days this feature became kind of a standard and this is why we think this is not acceptable. It essentially means that the internal memory is split into data and apps. You have about 5GB available for applications and if you used that up, you will not be able to install more unless you remove some of the old apps.

Kingzone N3 Plus Review: Audio Kingzone N3 Plus Review: Wireless Performance

During our test, the Kingzone N3 Plus delivered good results for mobile network, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth reception quality. It wasn’t on high-end level, but above average though. We have been surprised to see 3G and LTE connections even in places where most devices fail. Unfortunately, Kingzone screwed up the GPS antenna. The very first fix took us 20 minutes to get. Fix times got better afterwards, but it still took the handset up to 40 seconds to fix a proper amount of GPS satellites each and every time. GLONASS satellites took even longer with up to 5 minutes. On average we have been able to get a fix for 13 satellites and an accuracy of 3 meters with this handset.

Kingzone N3 Plus Review: Camera

Camera performance of smartphones gets more and more important, as many users drop their digital cameras and solely rely on their phones for taking pictures. Now the original Kingzone N3’s camera was performing extremely bad and you would believe that Kingzone fixed that with the N3 Plus. Unfortunately they didn’t – and it got even worse! Pictures never look sharp, not even close-ups. Night shots are close to impossible due to the noise production and lack of sharpness and the LED flash creating a reddish tint. What’s more, the camera does have huge issues with direct sunlight. It will create ugly blue fractals, making pictures look awful. Video quality is pretty bad as well.

Kingzone N3 Plus Review: Battery Kingzone N3 Plus Review: Verdict

The Kingzone N3 Plus could be a very nice handset featuring a nice design, good build quality and good specs. Yet it fails to be due to the inability of Kingzone to learn from their past mistakes and the repeated lies about battery capacity. Probably the only way for them to learn their lesson is if no one buys their products. And exactly this is the reason why we recommend you to stay away from the Kingzone N3 Plus.

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