plenty of of the smartphones coming the end in 2017 are moving in similar technical directions—more fingerprint scanners, an ext USB Type-C connections, and also so on.

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All this smartphone technology was on display this week at the yearly Mobile world Congress trade show in Barcelona. Most of the sector was represented, but not all. To apologize characteristically refrained from making any type of iPhone news—it prefers come stick to events it controls—and Samsung uncharacteristically didn’t announce a brand-new Galaxy phone. (We"ll report on the company"s brand-new flagship version in a couple of weeks.)

Understanding these features can aid if you"re shopping because that a brand-new phone this year. Here"s what you have the right to expect to see in smartphone tech.

Unless you buy the cheapest Android version possible, your new phone will probably include a sensor ~ above the front or the earlier that allows you unlock the device with a fingerprint.

The device-unlock attribute on phones together the $229 Moto G5 plus (this version with a 5.2-inch display will ship this spring) supplies a much much more natural way to get into her phone than—tap, tap, tap, tap—entering a collection of number or—swipe, swipe, swipe—drawing one unlock pattern on the screen.

Security tip: Whether you use a fingerprint or a code, make certain to lock her screen. Otherwise, a thef can easily recycle your maker and unloading on it on the next buyer. Or, worse, gain into your email account and social accounts and also wreak destruction on your digital life.

This compact and also semi-universal connector end the nuisance of trying to plugin your phone and realizing you have actually a micro-USB plug upside down. This ports are everywhere in 2017, including on the brand-new LG G6 (shown above).

Many USB Type-C phones presented in Barcelona also support rapid charging. And also these ports open up possibilities like having actually a greatly charged phone replenish a USB Type-C laptop or tablet’s battery.

Meanwhile, cordless charging doesn’t seem come have broadened much because last year. The just high-profile phone launched in Barcelona with the capability to recharge the phone as soon as left top top a charging pad is the U.S. Version of the LG G6.

And some carriers have even backed turn off on the technology: when the old Google Nexus 4 worked with Qi-standard charging surfaces, its followers don’t.

Smartphone tech on the Moto G5 Plus includes a USB-C port and also expandable storage—at an affordable price. Motorolla Motorolla

So far, the smartphone industry doesn’t look too eager to follow the iPhone’s example and also dispense through the timeless headphone jack.

Two exceptions room the HTC U Ultra (a $749 model shipping in March v a 5.7-inch screen) and also the HTC U play ($449, v a 5.2-inch screen). Both sacrifice the headphone jack, and instead path audio through their USB-C ports.

Unlike Apple, whose iPhone depends on the company"s proprietary Lightning port, HTC"s method offers the possibility of purchase a pair of headphones the will job-related with a number of phones.

HTC likewise touts the capacity to have actually its headphones gauge your hearing and adjust audio playback accordingly.

Two years ago, Samsung chose that making the Galaxy S6 as thin as possible precluded structure in a slot for a microSD warehouse card. But that idea didn"t catch on. Many phone manufacturers not called Apple have chose it’s worth permitting the the person who lives to augment a phone’s integrated storage with one of those cheap flash-memory cards.

On phones including the LG G6, the Moto G5 Plus, and also those HTC models, you can pop in a map to expand past the 32 or 64 gigabytes built into the devices. A card v 128 GB that storage, the border on the Moto phone, runs simply $40 or for this reason on Amazon. The G6 accepts cards as huge as 2 terabytes, which offer for about $100.

You might, however, not realize the your phone even accepts microSDs. Numerous phones hide the slot in the same pop-out tray that accommodates the sim card that links the phone to a wireless carrier. That cautious economization of an are may execute a disservice to individuals who never swap the end the sim card.

Tip: If you"re running out of room on her phone, inspect whether it have the right to accommodate a microSD card.

If you’ve end up being comfortable with Google now reminding girlfriend of events that aren"t even on her calendar, acquire ready for more help from your phone brain. Google announced throughout Mobile people Congress the its Google Assistant app, the smarts behind the Google home smart-home hub, would quickly arrive top top most brand-new Android phones.

Don’t count out Amazon’s Alexa, which has conveniently grown to become a superintendent that smart-home gadgets. It’s additionally being combined into a modular ingredient of the Motorola Moto Z, presented in the U.S. Last year at prices beginning at $408.

The least attractive habit of the non-Apple end of the phone company might it is in its continued weakness because that cluttering increase Google’s Android interface with proprietary tweaks, then acquisition its time to delivery updates.

The LG G6 exhibits the first of those behaviors. Android regulars relocating to LG will certainly look in vain for a simple, scrollable list of their apps. Favor the LG G5 introduced a year ago, the brand-new phone autumn the traditional “app drawer”—although you deserve to restore the in the settings app.

More seriously, many phones launching in 2017 don’t function the recent or even the second-latest relax of Android. A couple of run the 6.0 release of Android that shipped in 2015, and which lacks some essential security upgrades transport in 2016’s 7.0 release. Selling brand-new phones v two-year-old software application is no a great look for the industry; we"d love to see this addressed before Mobile world Congress 2018.


plunder Pegoraro

Rob Pegoraro is a freelance writer that contributes to customer Reports top top technology-related topics. The writes for assorted online and also print publications about computers, gadgets, telecom, social media, apps, and also other things that beep or blink. He has met many of the founders of the internet and also once obtained a single-word email reply indigenous Steve Jobs.

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