Apple TV with Zoom means it’s finally time to call your mother | Digital Trends

Apple TV with Zoom means it’s finally time to call your mother | Digital Trends

Zoom on Apple TV uses your iPhone as a camera (sweet dog blanket not included). Phil Nickinson / Digital Trends

Zoom is now available on Apple TV, complete with Continuity Camera. That means you can use your iPhone camera as, well, the camera and your TV as the screen on which to see the folks on the other side of the call. And because Zoom is a cross-platform app, it means you don’t have anymore excuses for your Android-wielding family.

All of which means: it’s time to call your mother.

OK, so there have been other ways to call home via video, of course, even using your iPhone in conjunction with Apple TV. FaceTime has worked on tvOS with Continuity Camera with the rollout of tvOS 17. And it’s very cool. But if you’re looking to talk with someone who isn’t on an iPhone, or who just prefers a different app for this sort of thing? Zoom is going to be a very cool option.

And because we’re talking about Continuity Camera and not just static lens that’s pointed in your general direction, it’ll zoom in on most important face (or faces, if you’ve got the family on the couch with you), and even track your ugly mug if and when you start to drift a little bit.

There’s not much you have to do to get things going. It just requires Zoom on your Apple TV — which, by the way, is our pick for the best streaming device — and then a few taps to get things going (you don’t even have to log in if you don’t want to). Then you approve using your phone as the camera, and Bob’s your uncle.

One strong recommendation, though: If you’re at all serious about this sort of thing — whether using Zoom or any other video calling app with Apple TV, and whether you’re alone or with family — spend a few bucks and invest in a basic tripod that’ll hold your phone. Nobody wants motion sickness because you’re weaving all over the place. And going hands-free lets you pay more attention to what’s really important — the family on the other side of the call.

Editors’ Recommendations

How to find archived emails in Gmail, return them to inbox | Digital Trends

How to find archived emails in Gmail, return them to inbox | Digital Trends

If you’re looking to clean up your Gmail inbox, but you don’t want to delete anything permanently, then choosing the archive option is your best bet. Whenever you archive an email, it is removed from your inbox folder while still remaining accessible. Here’s how to access any emails you have archived previously, as well as how to move such messages back to your regular inbox for fast access.

screenshot/Anita George / Digital Trends

Finding archived emails via the web

If you access Gmail via a web browser, it is a straightforward process to recall any emails you may have archived. For starters, if you choose to use the search bar at the top of the page, search results will include any archived emails. Alternatively, you can access all of your available mail, including archived pieces, under the All mail option.

Step 1: Visit the Gmail website and sign in.

Step 2: On the left side of the screen, select More.

Step 3: Select the All mail option.

Step 4: On the right side of the screen, you may now browse your email; it will include all emails in your account, including archived content.

Selecting the All Mail option in the Gmail app for Android.

screenshot/Anita George / Digital Trends

Finding archived emails via mobile apps

If you are using the Gmail mobile app on your iOS or Android device, you can also access archived content easily. As on the web, you can use the search bar displayed above your mail to initiate a search that will include archived content. Otherwise, if you wish, you can access all of your available mail, including archived content, under the All mail option.

Step 1: Open the Gmail app on your device.

Step 2: At the top of the screen, select the Menu button; it is displayed as three horizontal lines.

Step 3: Select the All mail option from the menu that appears.

Step 4: You may now browse your emails on-screen. This will include all emails in your account, including archived messages.

Selecting the Move to Inbox option in Gmail for web.

screenshot/Anita George / Digital Trends

Moving an archived email to the inbox via the web

If you change your mind, you can always move any archived content back to your inbox. Follow these steps to move archived emails back into your inbox using the Gmail website:

Step 1: Visit the Gmail website and sign in.

Step 2: Locate the email you wish to relocate.

Step 3: To the left of the email, check the Small box icon.

Step 4: At the top of the screen, select the Move to inbox icon. It looks like an inbox tray with a downward arrow inside of it.

Your archived email will then be moved back to the inbox for regular viewing. If you wish to return the piece of mail to the archive, hover over the email once again and select the Archive button (pictured as a small box with a down arrow).

Selecting the Move to Inbox option in Gmail for Android.

screenshot/Anita George / Digital Trends

Moving an archived email to the inbox via mobile apps

You can also change your mind about archived emails while you are out and about using Gmail’s available mobile apps for iOS and Android. Follow these steps to move the archived email back into your inbox within Google’s official Gmail app for Android:

Step 1: Open the Gmail app on your device.

Step 2: Locate the email you wish to relocate and select it.

Step 3: Select the More button in the upper-right corner of your screen (shown as three vertical dots), not the message.

Step 4: Choose the Move to inbox option from the menu that appears.

Your archived email will then be moved back to the inbox for regular viewing. If you wish to return the piece of mail to Archived, reopen the email and select the Archive button (pictured as a small box with a down arrow).

iOS devices

Note: For iOS devices, the process is a bit different. Here’s how to do it according to Google:

Step 1: Find the email you want in All mail.

Step 2: Select the sender’s profile icon on the left of the screen.

Step 3: Select the More icon (three dots).

Step 4: Select whether you want to Move to inbox or Move to > Primary.

Selecting the Mute option in Gmail for web.

screenshot/Anita George / Digital Trends

Archiving an email vs. muting an email

You may have heard of the ability to mute an email and archive an email discussed in the same breath. Both features will remove messages from your inbox to keep things tidy, but archived emails will return to your inbox if someone replies to them. On the other hand, muted messages will stay out of your inbox permanently. Follow these steps on either the web or a mobile app if you wish to mute an email:

Step 1: Access your Gmail account.

Step 2: Open the email you wish to mute.

Step 3: Select the More button (shown as three vertical dots). For the web, it is important that you select the More button that is located toward the top of your screen, just under the search box.

Step 4: Select the Mute option.

You can follow these steps on both iOS and Android phones and tablets. The only minor difference with iOS devices is that the More icon for iOS is not three vertical dots, but instead is three horizontal dots.

If you wish to unmute an email conversation, you can do so on the web by following the steps given above, but you’ll need to select the Unmute option in step 4. You’ll still need to select Move to inbox if you want the email to return to your inbox. Unmuting an email doesn’t move it to a different folder in Gmail, so it will remain in All Mail if you don’t move it yourself.

You can also unmute an email in the Gmail app for Android, but you won’t find an Unmute option. You’ll have to select the More icon and then Move to inbox instead. Doing so effectively unmutes the message and moves it back to the inbox.

All of your muted conversations are grouped so that you can easily access them by searching for them under the name “is:mute” in the Gmail search box.

Editors’ Recommendations

The OnePlus 12 could be one of 2024’s best Android phones | Digital Trends

The OnePlus 12 could be one of 2024’s best Android phones | Digital Trends

Prakhar Khanna / Digital Trends

OnePlus has had a brilliant year thanks to some great devices. The OnePlus 11 emerged as a comeback in terms of value for money, with high-end features for just $699. It offered a big and bright display, good-quality cameras, excellent performance with clean software, and all-day battery life.

But it still had two omissions, which seem to be fixed by the OnePlus 12 that was unveiled in China today. If the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 is anything similar to the Gen 2 in terms of efficiency, the OnePlus 12 could be one of 2024’s best Android phones.

A truly impressive camera system

OnePlus 12 camera module in green.

I used the OnePlus 11 as my daily driver for a while, and I was impressed with the overall performance and design. While the OnePlus 12 doesn’t offer a complete overhaul in terms of looks, it’s been upgraded under the hood to offer two key features – one that I dearly missed having, plus one that appeals to the U.S. market, in particular.

Despite the presence of three cameras on the OnePlus 11, I missed having 3x optical zoom. The OnePlus 12 sports a new triple camera setup, which not only adds a better telephoto sensor, but also shares the overall camera DNA with the OnePlus Open. The OnePlus 12’s triple rear camera setup is led by a 50MP Sony LYT-808 primary camera with optical image stabilization (OIS). It is accompanied by a 48MP Sony IMX581 ultrawide angle camera and a 64MP OV64B periscope lens with 3x optical zoom.

It’s the exact configuration of the lenses as the OnePlus Open, which houses the most versatile camera setup on a foldable phone. I’ve been using the OnePlus foldable phone since its launch, and it has only improved the cameras with each update.

The 50MP Sony LYT-808 sensor is impressive on the OnePlus Open. As you can see from the above images, the skin tone is good and there’s ample dynamic range, with no overblown highlights in the cloud — the overall image looks pleasing. The camera wasn’t very well-tuned for lowlight at launch, but OnePlus has fixed that, too, to some extent.

While the 50MP primary camera captures detailed photos, I was more impressed with the 64MP periscope camera. And that’s because it not only takes good 3x shots, but also performs well up to 15x digital zoom, with great 6x zoom images. When compared to the digital zoom on my iPhone 15 Pro, the OnePlus Open performed better on 6x and up to 15x.

The above images show great details and good dynamic range on 3x as well as 6x zoom. Those are some big expectations to have after experiencing the OnePlus Open. But with it having the same camera setup (now tuned with “4th Gen Hasselblad Camera for Mobile”), I’m pretty confident that the OnePlus 12 will be a step up from the OnePlus 11 in terms of camera quality.

OnePlus brought back wireless charging

A photo of someone holding the white/silver OnePlus 12.

Both the OnePlus 11 and OnePlus Open had one glaring omission – no wireless charging. While I didn’t have an issue (because I mostly work remotely in cafes or from sofas), I get the argument of how convenient wireless charging can be for some people. It’s also beneficial when you have several wireless charging pads set up in various places inside your home.

The OnePlus 12 brings 50-watt wireless charging to the table. It’s reminiscent of the OnePlus 10 Pro, which was the fastest wireless charging phone in the U.S. at the time of launch. The OnePlus 12 will soon take that mantle as it’s rumored to launch in the January.

The addition of better cameras and wireless charging makes the OnePlus 12 a complete phone. You should expect a price bump, for sure, but I expect it to be one of the phones to look out for in 2024 given the company’s recent track record and my experience with OnePlus Open’s camera system. The OnePlus 11 was already a great phone, and the 2024 flagship seems to take it up a notch.

What else does the OnePlus 12 offer?

OnePlus 12 in Black.

The OnePlus 12 features a 6.82-inch QHD+ 2K OLED LTPO display that supports a 120Hz refresh rate. The screen is rated to reach 4,500 nits of peak brightness, which is one of the highest numbers we’ve ever seen. You’ll normally see the phone reach around 1,600 nits, but it can get a lot brighter when it needs to. The 4,500 nits level is meant for HDR content; some areas of the screen can go up to that number when required in HDR videos. Like the OnePlus Open, the OnePlus 12 display supports Dolby Vision, 10Bit Color Depth, and ProXDR.

The OnePlus 12 is powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 chipset, which I’ve yet to test, but I hope it’s at least as efficient as the Snapdragon Gen 2. The OnePlus 12 now starts at 12GB of LPDDR5X RAM instead of 8GB and comes equipped with the same base 256GB of UFS 4.0 storage. It goes up to 24GB of RAM and 1TB of storage.

The 2024 OnePlus flagship packs a 5,400mAh battery that supports 100W wired and 50W wireless fast charging. To prevent it from overheating, it sports Oppo’s SuperVOOC S power management chip, which was first introduced on the OnePlus 11R. The OnePlus 12 is rated IP65 for dust and water resistance, which is a step up from the IP64-rated predecessor.

In terms of design, the OnePlus 12 doesn’t feature an overhaul, but still has some noticeable changes. First, the alert slider is now on the other side of the phone, so you now get the volume rockers and power button on one side and the alert slider on the other. Second, the green color variant features a wavy pattern on the back. It sure looks good in pictures. The OnePlus 12 comes in three color options — white, green, and black.

OnePlus 12 price and availability

OnePlus 12 in green and white.

The OnePlus 12 price starts at 4,299 yuan ($607) in China for the base 12GB/256GB variant, whereas the top-end 24GB/1TB model will sell for 5,799 yuan ($818). It’s a 300 yuan increase from the OnePlus 11, and you should expect a price bump on the OnePlus 12 when it goes global in “early 2024.” As per previously leaked information, the device is expected to be launched in other markets by the end of January.

It’s unclear how much the OnePlus 12 will cost when it eventually comes to the U.S., but if it’s China pricing is anything to go by, it should be quite competitive.

Editors’ Recommendations

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra review: the best Android phone yet | Digital Trends

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra review: the best Android phone yet | Digital Trends

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra

MSRP $1,199.00

“The Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra is the most complete, most versatile Android smartphone you can buy. It’s a big purchase in more ways than one, but it’ll last you for years.”


  • Incredibly powerful processor
  • Versatile telephoto zoom camera
  • S Pen adds value
  • Water-resistant and durable
  • Long software update commitment
  • Many interesting features to explore
  • Large, bright, detailed screen


  • Wired charging is complicated, and only 45W
  • Big and heavy

Before reading this review, there are a few things I want to suggest. Don’t get caught up in the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra’s admittedly high price tag; instead, think about the value it represents. Don’t get overwhelmed by its astonishing ability or extensive feature list, but consider the things it can’t do. Don’t think of it as “more of the same” compared to the Galaxy S22 Ultra either, as you’ll miss the things that mean it’ll stay usable longer.

I know that’s a lot of “don’ts,” but there’s a reason I’ve pointed them out. It’s because the Galaxy S23 Ultra can do pretty much everything you want today, next year, and almost certainly for a few years after that, too. When you know this, it’s only the things it can’t do that will matter — and believe me, it’s a very short list indeed. Join us as we go into detail in our full Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra review.

About our Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra review

Our Galaxy S23 Ultra review is based on many weeks of regular use since the phone was released. We tested three different models throughout that time. First, one review model supplied by Samsung in the U.K. was used by Andy Boxall, which was subsequently returned and replaced with a retail version purchased from Samsung’s online store. The other is being used in the U.S. by Joe Maring. All three are unlocked versions of the phone.

I (Andy Boxall) revisited the Galaxy S23 Ultra at the end of November 2023 and updated our review accordingly, plus added a new section right below covering how it operates today. The score remains the same, and it’s still a recommended buy. We’re also still using the S23 Ultra regularly.

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra: 9 months later

The back of the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra.
Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

The thing that struck me most about the Galaxy S23 Ultra in November 2023 is that it doesn’t seem to have aged at all. If you told me it was released yesterday, I’d believe you and would give it the same breathless review as I did in February. The prompt update to Android 14 and One UI 6 definitely helps, as does the fact the S Pen and the brilliant, fun 10x optical zoom continue to be unique in the market.

Over the past months, we’ve shown how the camera can take incredible photos in the right hands and how much difference there is between it and a $450 phone like the Samsung Galaxy A54. Returning to it only emphasized that it has lost none of its camera magic, not even when compared to the latest Apple iPhone 15 Pro Max. The camera isn’t perfect, but it’s so versatile and capable in most environments you’ll quickly forgive it should it get something wrong.

Samsung will replace the Galaxy S23 Ultra in early 2024 with the Galaxy S24 Ultra. This inevitable change may make you stop and think if the S23 Ultra is worth buying today, and although we’d say if you can wait, it’s probably worth it, there’s no reason to dismiss the S23 Ultra if you aren’t bothered about having the latest model. It’s excellent all round, and you won’t regret buying it today.

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra: design

Someone holding the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra.
Joe Maring/Digital Trends

I came to the Galaxy S23 Ultra from the OnePlus 11 and spent the first few days adapting to the difference between the two. The OnePlus 11 is slim, light, and very “holdable,” and the S23 Ultra really isn’t any of those things. If you’re coming from a phone that isn’t nearly 9mm thick, 78mm wide, and 233 grams in weight, you’re really going to notice how much of a handful the S23 Ultra is.

It’s not unmanageable, but there is a period of adjustment involved unless you’re already using the Galaxy S22 Ultra or an iPhone 14 Pro Max, which are the closest analogs to the S23 Ultra’s size.

You will get used to the S23 Ultra’s size and weight, but if you’ve got small hands, the width and thickness make singlehanded use very difficult, which is far harder to overcome. It’s a consideration that’s mostly unnecessary on phones like the OnePlus 11, iPhone 15 Pro, or even the Galaxy S23 Plus. If this is going to be your first massive smartphone, before you buy it, go and hold one first and see if you think it’ll fit into your lifestyle. Some folks may never adjust to the S23 Ultra’s size, and for them, the much smaller and more pocketable Galaxy S23 will be a better fit.

Samsung hasn’t really changed the design of the Galaxy S23 Ultra over the S22 Ultra. It’s still that familiar all-business look, with curved sides to the chassis and the screen, tiny bezels, and five circular camera modules on the back. It’s not especially eye-catching, but this will be part of its appeal. There’s a maturity to the simple stylishness of the S23 Ultra, and the device itself is instantly recognizable too. It’s not going to be mistaken for an iPhone 15 Pro Max or a Google Pixel 8 Pro.

A person holding the Galaxy S23 Ultra and taking a photograph.
Andy Boxall/DigitalTrends

The build quality is superb, it’s incredibly substantial, and it should be very durable too. The S23 Ultra has an IP68 water-resistance rating, Gorilla Glass Victus 2, and Samsung’s latest Armor Aluminum chassis material. The weight means putting it in a case will protect it in the event of a fall onto something hard, but there’s a degree of reassurance that comes from Samsung’s commitment to durability that’s missing from many of its competitors.

This also applies to Samsung’s use of recycled materials, and its lengthy software update commitment, which, when combined with the durability and performance of the phone, adds up to it being a device you’ll be happy to keep for years. It used to be fine to keep a phone for two years if you were keen on mobile tech, but this is a three-or-more-year device.

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra: colors

All four colors of the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra.
Andrew Martonik / Digital Trends

There are eight different color options for the Galaxy S23 Ultra. The standard Phantom Black, Lavender, Cream, and Green models are widely available, but if you order directly from Samsung you can choose one of four exclusive colors. These are Lime, Graphite, Red, and Sky Blue. If you do opt for one of the Samsung-only colors, you may have to wait a little longer for delivery.

We started off using the green Galaxy S23 Ultra, and it’s certainly attractive. Green is an on-trend color for smartphones, with everything from the iPhone 13 Pro to the OnePlus 11 tackling the tricky shade. Samsung didn’t go for a bright or forest green, toning it down for a subtle look when it wasn’t in the right light. It stood out a little more when the light did hit it, but it’s hardly an attention grabber.

Step forward with Samsung’s exclusive colors. These really will grab attention, as they’re far brighter and more eye-catching. I chose the Sky Blue model, which took a week longer to ship than a standard colored model, and am very pleased with my choice.

I considered the red model but preferred the Sky Blue model’s chrome finish on the chassis to the red version’s black finish. The blue is still quite subtle, taking on a paler, almost silver color at certain angles. If you can handle the long wait, you won’t be disappointed with one of Samsung’s exclusive colors.

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra: camera

The Galaxy S23 Ultra's camera module.
Andy Boxall/DigitalTrends

The headline feature is Samsung’s own ISOCELL HP2 200-megapixel camera. It’s joined by a far more conventional 12MP wide-angle camera with a 120-degree field of view, plus a pair of 10MP telephoto cameras for a 3x and 10x optical zoom. The camera is also equipped with optical image stabilization (OIS) and laser autofocus, plus a Super Resolution Zoom with recommended levels of 30x and 100x digital zoom.

It’s possible to shoot photos at the full 200MP resolution; just be aware that these take up at least 40MB of space on their own, compared to the more usual 4MB to 7MB 12MP shots the camera takes by default.

Here’s the most important thing you need to know about the Galaxy S23 Ultra’s camera: the reason to buy it is not the 200MP camera, but its incredible zoom capabilities. They are transformative and make the camera so much more versatile than what’s on any other phone available today. The quality of the 3x and 10x zoom is excellent, but now the 30x zoom is catching up. And although the 100x still isn’t great, it’s much better than ever before. The Galaxy S23 Ultra’s telephoto cameras take photos that are impossible to replicate on any other smartphone, at least with the same quality. You’ll have a lot of fun taking amazing zoom photos with the Galaxy S23 Ultra.

The main camera takes brilliant photos, but you won’t really know it’s a 200MP camera. Shots have a vibrant, exciting tone, with strong colors and masses of detail. I like the overall atmosphere the camera creates, which straddles the line between realism and hyperrealism very effectively. Most of the time, the colors are amped up by just the right amount, but it can slip into oversaturation when faced with reds and blues in some situations.

It takes considerably brighter photos than the iPhone 14 Pro and exposes more detail in the shadows too, but this comes at the expense of a natural color palette. The camera also produces shots with a very different atmosphere. I’d call them more instantly shareable, but that won’t be deemed a good thing by everyone. Comparing the Galaxy S23 Ultra camera to the Google Pixel 7 Pro, one of our favorite camera phones, was a real eye-opener; the Galaxy S23 Ultra has stolen the Google phone’s crown. It also tied with the much newer Apple iPhone 15 Pro’s camera in this test, showing it hasn’t lost any of its ability since launch.

You can also download Samsung’s Expert RAW app from the Galaxy App Store, which unlocks the camera’s potential to take professional-level images in RAW format that are ready to be edited in apps such as Adobe Lightroom. Lightroom is the default editor for the app, but it requires a subscription to use all of its features. Pay through the app, and Lightroom Premium costs $5 per month, and it comes with an extended two-month free trial.

I wasn’t convinced it would be worth it, or that you wouldn’t need a lot of expertise to use it effectively, but I was wrong. The Lightroom for Samsung app adds a great deal to the overall camera experience, and retains that all-important hands-on approach to editing images that’s disappearing due to the use of AI. I’m definitely not an expert with Lightroom, but the easy tutorials have given me enough confidence to adjust my photos so they look better to my eyes.

The Galaxy S23 Ultra’s versatility makes it really desirable, and I feel confident I will be able to take any photo I want with it — and that’s something other phones can’t quite provide. It’s also still the only phone you can buy with a 10x optical zoom, and even when other phones get close to that figure, the quality is often lacking in comparison. It’s a superb camera phone.

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra: video recording

The Galaxy S23 Ultra's camera module on the Sky Blue version.
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

I continue to adore the Galaxy S23 Ultra’s camera for stills; it’s so incredibly versatile that I rarely feel it can’t capture the shot I want. But what about the video performance? The Galaxy S23 Ultra can record video at up to 8K resolution at 24 frames-per-second (fps), or at a more reasonable 4K at 60fps. It also has many special modes, including slow-motion, Hyperlapse, and Portrait video.

You’ll have to be mindful of storage space shooting at higher resolutions. A minute of 8K video takes up about 620MB, while 4K resolution fills almost the same amount of space at 550MB on average. If you do this regularly, and start shooting 200MP stills, too, then it’s easy to see how quickly 256GB of storage space would be filled. It’s worth considering the 512GB version or even more if you want to take a lot of video.

But what does the Galaxy S23 Ultra’s video actually look like? To find out, I took the phone with me on a short trip away and made a point to shoot as much video as possible, instead of mostly taking still photos as usual. You can read my complete article on what it’s like to use the S23 Ultra as a video camera, with several examples of performance — plus you can see one of the videos from it above. I really enjoyed using the S23 Ultra’s video mode, as it repeats all the still camera modes, giving you a lot of versatility. It can’t beat stills for me, personally, but there’s no question it’s just as powerful if you prefer it.

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra: performance

Playing a game on the Galaxy S23 Ultra.
Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

Powerful isn’t a strong enough word to describe the incredible ability of the Galaxy S23 Ultra. We’d already been impressed by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 in the Iqoo 11 and the OnePlus 11, but here — in its custom “Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 For Galaxy” guise — it’s an absolute monster. I’d love to say I have pushed the phone to its limits, but I don’t think I’ve come close. I play games, use apps, make calls, use Bluetooth and Samsung DeX, take 200-megapixel photos, and shoot some 8K video. Even with all of that, the S23 Ultra just shrugs it all off.

Playing Asphalt 9: Legends for 30 minutes doesn’t cause any noticeable temperature increase apart from a tiny bit around the top edge, but nothing that you’d call hot, or even that warm. Recording a 15-minute Hyperlapse video caused the phone to heat up more around the camera module –not so it was burning, but definitely hot to the touch. Apps start and refresh in seconds, and even Google Maps grabs a signal and loads the local area faster than other phones I’ve used. When you start noticing little things like that, it means the entire system is incredibly smooth and fast.

Powerful isn’t a strong enough word to describe the incredible ability of the Galaxy S23 Ultra.

My review model has 12GB of RAM and 256GB of internal storage space. There is an 8GB version available, but it’s probably worth getting the higher specification one if you’re planning to keep the phone for a while. Internal storage is also an important consideration. A single 200MP photo is at least 40MB, and a minute of 8K video is often close to 600MB. That’s before you’ve installed any games, and some of the top games today can take up to 10GB alone. Do think about the 512GB model if you intend to keep it for a while.

This time, Samsung hasn’t made an Exynos version of the Galaxy S23 Ultra for global markets. I’m extremely glad, as I can’t see any way the almost overwhelming ability of the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 For Galaxy could be beaten. Buy the Galaxy S23 Ultra, and be safe in the knowledge you’ll have to work pretty hard to reach its limits.

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra: screen and software

A video playing on the Galaxy S23 UItra.
Andy Boxall/DigitalTrends

That’s 6.8 inches of Super Dynamic AMOLED screen you’re looking at on the front of the Galaxy S23 Ultra, and it’s even bigger than the massive iPhone 14 Pro Max and Pixel 7 Pro. It’s enormous, and has the brightness to go with its size. Peak brightness is 1,750 nits, and even walking around Manhattan on a (surprisingly) sunny February morning, Section Editor Joe Maring could still see the screen perfectly. I’ve had no problem seeing the screen, either. It’s easily comparable to the iPhone 14 Pro’s similarly bright display.

Watching Disney+ and Amazon Prime, the screen’s vibrant colors and deep blacks are immediately obvious, and the sheer size of the screen makes it more immersive than you’d expect from a mobile device. I love the wide viewing angle too, so even when the phone is flat on a desk, video still looks excellent and just like you’re watching it straight-on.

Screenshots taken from the Galaxy S23 Ultra showing various functions and software features.
Andy Boxall/DigitalTrends

Star Wars: The Clone Wars looks amazing, with tons of detail on show. The audio is great too, with centralized dialogue and expansive music, plus a pleasing amount of depth. When playing games, though, your palm does tend to cover the lower speaker unless you hold the phone “upside down” when the buttons get in the way and are less natural to press.

Android 13 with Samsung’s One UI 5.1 software was installed when the phone launched, but it has since been upgraded to Android 14 and One UI 6. We’ve got a review of the latest software here. I find it takes time to get the best from One UI as it’s quite feature-dense, and you really have to work to find many of the best or most helpful ones. For example, did you know you can change the lock screen clock, notification layout, and add filters to the wallpaper? To find these capabilities, you have to tap and hold the screen when the phone is locked, rather than it being an option when the phone is unlocked.

Screenshots taken from the Galaxy S23 Ultra showing various functions and software features.
Andy Boxall/DigitalTrends

None of the additional features are pushed at you, though, so it never feels overwhelming, and you don’t get the impression you’re underutilizing the device. As you explore and find new features, the good news is they mostly work very well and are rarely gimmicky. Samsung’s DeX system is a good example, as the phone can be connected to a monitor or PC to provide a big-screen PC-like experience. I wouldn’t use it very often, but it’s very effective when it is called into action.

The Galaxy S23 Ultra’s software features work very well and are rarely gimmicky.

Samsung provides one of the longest commitments to software updates in the industry, with four years of major OS updates and five years of security updates too. It’s another crucial aspect of the device’s longevity, and a reason to buy and keep using your phone for years to come. However, Google has gone one step further with the update commitment for the Google Pixel 8 series, which will receive new software until 2030.

I always make a core set of adjustments in One UI when I set it up, and once they’re done, the software looks and works just as I like. I’d put it up against Android on the Pixel 7 in terms of speed, and although it’s not quite as simple to use as Google’s version, it’s more intuitive and fun than OxygenOS 13 on the OnePlus 11. It’s reliable, attractively designed, consistent in its look, and almost always logical to use.

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra: S Pen Stylus

The S Pen's menu on the Galaxy S23 Ultra.
Andy Boxall / DigitalTrends

The Galaxy Note series has been retired, and the top S Series phone has taken its place; hence you’ll find the S Pen stylus hidden in a slot on the bottom of the phone — another reason this is a big smartphone. It’s securely held in place, and the tiny internal battery powering the Bluetooth is charged while it’s docked, ensuring it’s always ready to go. the pen is thin and relatively short, but I find it comfortable to hold and scribble notes. I’m no artist, though, and the stubby length may not be comfortable enough to craft any masterpieces.

It’s as multifunctional as you could expect from a stylus, providing ways to clip images and text, translate text, take notes, sketch, and even make use of it as a remote shutter button for the phone’s camera. There’s no question it’s well-engineered and is more versatile than a passive stylus, but whether you use it regularly or not depends on your eagerness to take handwritten notes or sketch on your phone.

I don’t find many opportunities to use the primary features very often, but I do like one feature a lot. When you remove the pen while the phone is locked, you can scribble endless notes on the black screen. Press the side button to erase a word, and tap Save to store the note in Samsung Notes. It’s incredibly responsive, very fast, and the palm rejection is spot-on. Jotting things down on your phone like this is seamless and really fast.

It’s not just lock-screen notes that are fast — it’s the whole thing. Use the instant translation feature by hovering the S Pen over the top of the text you want to translate, and in less than a few seconds, it appears in a pop-up box. If you use it on Twitter, it’s faster than the platform’s own translation system. The S Pen is not a reason to buy the Galaxy S23 Ultra on its own, but it is a great piece of added value. You may not use it all the time, but when you do, its speed and precision are outstanding.

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra: battery and charging

The Galaxy S23 Ultra's charging port.
Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

The Galaxy S23 Ultra does not come with a charger in the box but does come with a USB Type-C-to-Type-C cable. The phone supports Samsung’s fastest 45-watt charging technology, which requires either a Samsung Super Fast Charging 2.0 charger or a compatible charger from another brand that supports both it and the USB Power Delivery PPS standard. It makes charging the Galaxy S23 Ultra at its fastest speeds a little confusing if you’re a newcomer, so you want to make sure you choose the right charger when going to buy one.

Obviously, Samsung wants you to buy its own charger, which costs around $30, but others are available if you search. I’ve used the Anker 313 GaN charger, which is compatible with both Power Delivery PPS and Super Fast Charging 2.0, and it charged the phone in 63 minutes. It’s not as fast as the OnePlus 11, but very few phones are, and an hour is acceptable for a battery of this capacity.

The Galaxy S23 Ultra’s battery is more than capable to keep you going.

I’d like it to be a little simpler to work out which chargers and cables will be compatible. If you charge it using a charger that’s not compatible with Samsung’s technology, it’s a lot slower. A regular charger takes around 100 minutes to fully charge the battery, and that’s not great. I do like the way it shows the estimated charge time on the lock screen, helping you plan ahead, and it also tells you what kind of charging system is being used. For example, it does state if Super Fast Charging 2.0 is active.

Battery usage page on the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra.
Joe Maring / Digital Trends

Once it is fully charged, it’s capable of lasting for more than two days with moderate use, and a lot of its ability comes from the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2’s increased efficiency. Watching a 30-minute YouTube video drains the battery by just 2%. Roughly the same time using GPS drains a similar amount of energy too.

Even on more intensive days, the Galaxy S23 Ultra’s battery is more than capable to keep you going. On a day with over an hour of playing Marvel Snap and browsing Twitter, then watching YouTube videos for 45 minutes, plus regular use of Google Chrome, Reddit, Duolingo, and more, the S23 Ultra ended a nearly 16-hour day with 5 hours and 20 minutes of screen-on time and 24% battery still remaining.

Add in 15W wireless charging and reverse charging for accessories like the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro, and the Galaxy S23 Ultra is very nearly the complete package when it comes to charging and battery life.

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra: price and availability

The back of the Galaxy S23 Ultra, showing its green color.
Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

The cheapest Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra is $1,199 and comes with 256GB of storage space. If you want 512GB of storage space, the phone will cost $1,379, while the most expensive 1TB model costs $1,699. It comes in Green, Cream, Lavender, or Phantom Black colors, but if you order from Samsung, there’s an additional choice of Red, Lime, Graphite, or Sky Blue colors.

In the U.K., the same colors are available, and the 256GB Galaxy S23 Ultra costs 1,249 British pounds. It’s 1,399 pounds for the 512GB version and 1,599 for the top 1TB model. You can buy the Galaxy S23 Ultra directly from Samsung’s website, at retailers like Amazon and Best Buy, or from your favorite wireless carrier.

The Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra next to the Google Pixel 7 Pro.
Joe Maring/Digital Trends

This is an expensive smartphone, especially if you choose the 1TB model. The price puts it in competition with the Apple iPhone 15 Pro Max and Samsung’s own Galaxy Z Fold 5. If you simply can’t justify spending so much, take a look at the Galaxy S23 Plus, which has a large screen and the same processor, or the OnePlus 11. OnePlus’ latest phone has the same processor and battery capacity, plus the camera and screen are both excellent. It’s a very good value at $699. The $999 Google Pixel 8 Pro is another good choice if you want to spend less and prioritize camera performance over device performance and battery life. And if you’re OK sacrificing some screen size and battery, the regular Galaxy S23 is a phenomenal choice.

Before spending less, though, do consider the longevity of the device and how long you see yourself keeping it. The Galaxy S23 Ultra is so powerful and has such a versatile camera, mega battery life, impressive durability, and long-term software support that it will likely outlast many other devices, purely because of its outright ability. If you want to spend once and keep your new device for years and years, the Galaxy S23 Ultra may be the better bet over the long term.

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra: verdict

The Galaxy S23 Ultra sitting on a table and showing its home screen.
Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

What can’t the Galaxy S23 Ultra do? It’s not quite as fast to charge as the OnePlus 11, and it’s not going to fit comfortably in all hands or pockets — but that’s about it. There’s a real pleasure in using a phone that puts ability ahead of gimmicks and keeps a sensible, yet stylish and recognizable design over needlessly changing it up to try and attract buyers. The Galaxy S23 Ultra is Samsung at its most confident, and it’s the sensible, mature buying decision for anyone wanting the pinnacle of Android performance and ability. It’s a combination that makes it one of the best phones of the year.

What it’s not is daring, or especially forward-thinking. Head over to the Galaxy Z Fold 5 for that, as the Galaxy S23 Ultra gives you the best that’s available now, without compromise, and doesn’t try to push the envelope or be the next big thing. It’s the current big thing, and because it’s not advancing the fundamentals over what we’re used to seeing already, it’ll stay relevant and usable for more people over many years.

Only the iPhone 15 Pro or Pro Max come close to being this confidence-inspiring, as other top-tier Android phones are often thwarted by software woes, performance that’s good but never outstanding, and try-hard designs that can limit appeal. You’re going to pay a lot of money for the Galaxy S23 Ultra, but it’s worth every penny, and in three or even four years’ time, when it’s still a great phone, you’ll look back and see what good value it actually was.

Editors’ Recommendations

Best 85-inch TV Deals: Save on Samsung, Sony, TCL, and More | Digital Trends

Best 85-inch TV Deals: Save on Samsung, Sony, TCL, and More | Digital Trends

While many large TVs can get the home theater job done, if you want to bring some head-turning action to the experience you need to go with an 85-inch TV. Many of the best TV brands makes models up to 85 inches, and there’s a lot to choose from if you’re hoping to land some savings. Discounts are out there on 85-inch TV models by Samsung, TCL, and Sony, and we’ve done the heavy lifting of tracking them down. So whether you’re shopping to upgrade your home theater or start one from scratch, these are the best 85-inch TV deals for doing so.

Our favorite 85-inch TV deal

85-inch TCL S4 4K TV — $800, was $1,000


TCL has grown in popularity the last few years, as it makes TVs with features that generally outperform their price point. You’ll find an excellent 4K image with the TCL S4. It boasts HDR PRO technology that provides enhanced contrast, accurate colors, and includes the fine details in all of your favorite content. This is a great TV for gamers, movie lovers, and sports fans as it utilizes a feature known as Motion Rate 240 to create exceptional motion clarity, even during fast-paced action.

This should be a particularly enticing TV if smart TV features matter to you. The TCL S4 uses the Google TV smart OS platform. This is one of the better smart platforms, particularly if you watch movies and TV shows across several different streaming services. You’ll get built-in access to things like the best new movies to stream on Netflix, Hulu, Prime, Max, and more, and the Google TV interface does a good job of organizing your favorite content from all of your streaming service, as well as present new content from places you may not otherwise think to look.

More 85-inch TV deals we like

A Samsung 85-inch 8K hangs on a living room wall.

But there’s plenty more shopping to do, particularly if TCL isn’t your brand or you prefer one of several other smart OS platforms in your smart TV. Samsung using its own Tizen smart OS, and you’ll find some great Samsung 85-inch TV deals available. You’ll also find the likes of Sony, LG, and other name brands with discounted 85-inch models, including some that can compete with the best QLED TVs.

  • LG 85-inch UR7800 4K webOS TV —

  • Samsung 85-inch CU7000 4K Tizen TV —

  • TCL 85-inch Q6 QLED 4K Google TV —

  • LG 85-inch UQ75 4K webOS TV —

  • Samsung 85-inch CU8000 4K Tizen TV —

  • Sony 85-inch X80K 4K Google TV —

  • Samsung 85-inch Q60C QLED 4K Tizen TV —

  • Samsung 85-inch Q80C QLED 4K Tizen TV —

  • Sony 85-inch Bravia XR X90L 4K Google TV —

More Unmissable Deals

Something amazing happened to folding phones in 2023 | Digital Trends

Something amazing happened to folding phones in 2023 | Digital Trends

Prakhar Khanna / Digital Trends

Samsung has been in charge of leading the foldable segment for too long. For years, Samsung dominated the foldable landscape with little to no competition. But that changed in 2023.

While the company put in the work to improve the Galaxy Z Flip 5 with a bigger cover display, the Galaxy Z Fold 5 seemed to remain an afterthought. Fortunately, other smartphone manufacturers started rolling out more foldable phones globally this year, and now, Samsung’s aren’t the go-to choice anymore. There’s finally healthy competition and choice for folding phones, and I’m so here for it.

Finally, some real competition

OnePlus Open and Google Pixel Fold camera modules.
Christine Romero-Chan / Digital Trends

Samsung started facing the heat from Google in June with the rollout of the Google Pixel Fold. It introduced a new form factor with a wide cover display and a horizontal aspect ratio on the inside. In my opinion, it isn’t an ideal form factor, especially with the weight and not having a vertical display on the inside. But it brought actual competition for the foldable phone market in the U.S. — a critically important task.

Honor showcased the slimmest and lightest foldable with the Honor Magic V2 in September, and it was a turning point for me. It lies in the middle of the Galaxy Z Fold 5 and Pixel Fold in terms of form factor. It solved the major design issues that were a norm for book-style foldables.

The Honor Magic V2 is closer to a slab phone in more than one way. It is thin enough to feel like a regular slab phone and weighs less than my then-primary phone, the iPhone 14 Pro Max. In fact, Honor made a whole new slim 5,000mAh battery for its foldable. Plus, It has a crease less than the other two Folds and packs a 20:9 cover screen, which is close to what you’d find on the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra or the iPhone 15 Pro Max.

While the Honor Magic V2’s global availability hasn’t been announced, it is slated to launch sometime in Q1 2024. It showcased what a book-style foldable can be and became a benchmark for design – at least for me. And it remains one even after the launch of the OnePlus Open (more on that below).

The Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 next to the Motorola Razr Plus, both showing their cover screens.
Joe Maring / Digital Trends

Additionally, we saw the return of Motorola Razr with the Motorola Razr (2023) and Motorola Razr Plus. The latter was arguably better than the Galaxy Z Flip 5, with a bigger cover screen and better battery life. Globally, Oppo had already rolled out the Find N2 Flip, which introduced a new vertical cover screen on the outside.

Samsung made a good comeback with the Galaxy Z Flip 5 in Q3, which brought a solid hinge and new cover screen but with the same dual camera setup and gutter-like crease in the middle. The Oppo Find N3 Flip solved both concerns with a triple rear camera setup that included a dedicated telephoto lens on a flip phone for the first time. Plus, the crease situation was much better than Samsung’s phones.

One phone beat Samsung at its own game

OnePlus Open from the back, in hand and less than half folded.
Prakhar Khanna / Digital Trends

If the Honor Magic V2 had been released outside of China, it’d be my go-to recommendation for a book-style foldable. But OnePlus did what Honor couldn’t with its first big foldable, the OnePlus Open. It not only challenged Samsung but beat it in almost every way — despite undercutting it on the price.

Similar to the Honor Magic V2, the OnePlus Open features a 20:9 aspect ratio, which I consider ideal for this type of foldable. As a result of the slab-like cover screen, apps don’t misbehave, which is an issue on the Galaxy Z Fold 5 and Pixel Fold – whether with black borders or the app not being comfortable and displaying zoomed-in text on an irregular aspect ratio. But the OnePlus Open did two other things that no other folding phone has done yet.

First, It offered a camera setup that’s better and more versatile than any big foldable phone. At launch, it had some issues with tuning for the new Sony sensor, but it has only gotten better with updates. Plus, the 6x zoom feels straight out of a more traditional flagship phone.

Two games running simultaneously on OnePlus Open held in hands.
Botworld (top) and Whiteout Survival running on OnePlus Open simultaneously. Tushar Mehta / Digital Trends

Second, the crease is almost negligible. You can still feel it, but it’s notably less than the Samsung, Google, Honor, or Tecno foldables. You can’t see it 99% of the time, and for that 1% you can, you have to view it at a specific angle. It’s a non-issue.

The OnePlus Open also took multitasking to the next level with its Open Canvas feature. For the first time, you can now have three apps simultaneously on your screen, with each interaction just a tap away. When you use it, you realize how much you can accomplish on the big inner display. I can plan for my next story or my next trip with Chrome, YouTube, and Google Keep all open simultaneously.

The OnePlus Open is easily my favorite phone of the year that’s available globally.

2023 did something else for foldables

Tecno Phantom V Fold and Tecno Phantom V Flip.
Prakhar Khanna / Digital Trends

It’s no secret that folding phones come at an expensive price tag, and oftentimes, it’s the price that keeps consumers from jumping on the foldable bandwagon. But Tecno democratized the market by launching a book-style foldable and a flip phone at unbelievable prices.

The Tecno Phantom V Fold was launched at 79,999 Indian Rupees (INR), which translates to $960, less than most regular flagship phones. YouTuber Michael Fisher famously called it the “a fold at the price of a flip” – something Tecno used at its launch event.

The Tecno Phantom V Fold's open screen.
Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

The Phantom V Fold isn’t a bad foldable by any means. It offers a more useable cover screen and a lesser crease on the inner screen than the Galaxy Z Fold 5. There were obviously instances where Tecno had to cut corners. For example, the hinge is either at 90 degrees or 180 degrees flat, and the cameras aren’t something to boast about, but they’re workable.

As if that wasn’t enough, Tecno also launched a flip phone at 49,999 INR ($600), which brings it to a mid-range phone category, similar to the Motorola Razr launch price in the US. It is selling for 54,999 INR ($660) and still remains the cheapest flip phone on the market, slightly cheaper than the $700 Motorola Razr.

You might not get the fastest performance or the best cameras on these two flip phones, but they are democratizing foldables, which have long remained a novel pursuit. In 2023, folding phones aren’t something you have to splurge on, and that’s a big win for the form factor.

Folding phones are here to stay

Honor Magic V2 and OnePlus Open in hand.
Prakhar Khanna / Digital Trends

In short, 2023 was an outstanding year for folding phones.

Samsung faced more competition than ever, which exposed its lazy approach with the Fold 5. Google entered the segment. Honor showed you can make foldables as slim and light as a slab phone. OnePlus led the form factor with great cameras, a near-creaseless display, and next-level multitasking. Oppo introduced a dedicated telephoto camera on a flip phone for the first time. Motorola and Tecno brought foldables to the masses.

That’s more activity in the global foldable market than we’ve seen in the last four years combined — since the launch of the first Galaxy Fold in 2019. I’m still amazed by having a 7.6-inch tablet-like display right inside my pocket that enables me to do so much more than a regular, non-folding phone.

I hope 2024 continues to be amazing for foldables and that Samsung pushes itself to make the Galaxy Z Fold 6 more than an iterative upgrade. This is the best year we’ve had yet for folding phones, and I can’t wait to see where the niche is another year from now.

Editors’ Recommendations

1More’s PistonBuds Pro Q30 look like great budget buds at $50 | Digital Trends

1More’s PistonBuds Pro Q30 look like great budget buds at $50 | Digital Trends


The new PistonBuds Pro Q30 from 1More boast AirPods-like looks along with active noise cancellation (ANC) and spatial audio, but it’s their rock-bottom $50 price that stands out. As part of the launch, 1More has dropped the price to $40 for a limited time, making these wireless earbuds even more attractive. The PistonBuds Pro Q30 are available in white/gold or black/gold combos.

In the past, 1More has favored a stemless design for its PistonBuds lineup, but this time the company has opted for a stem-based approach. If you’ve ever tried PistonBuds in the past and found them a poor fit, this new shape might be a better option.

Man wearing 1More PistonBuds Pro Q30.

Inside the buds are 10mm diamond-like carbon (DLC) drivers that 1More claims will deliver “powerful bass and vibrant vocals” and three microphones per side. The mics power the earbuds’ ANC modes, which include transparency, wind noise resistance mode, and an adaptive mode. With the help of an AI-enabled voice recognition algorithm, 1More promises the new PistonBuds will deliver clear calls.

Though not intended as sports wireless earbuds per se, the PistonBuds Pro Q30 have an IPX5 rating for water resistance, which will keep them very adequately protected from sweat and the occasional splash if you clean and dry them after each use.

1More PistonBuds Pro Q30 in white/gold.

Battery life is rated at 7.5 hours with ANC off, and the charging case’s supply can extend this to 30 hours. A fast-charging system can top up the earbuds with an extra two hours after just 10 minutes in the case. Unfortunately, wireless charging is one feature that didn’t make the cut at this price.

There’s an optional low-latency mode for gaming applications, and the 1More Music app can enable a spatial audio feature for “360-degree listening.” Bluetooth 5.3 is supported, along with Bluetooth Multipoint for simultaneous connections to two devices.

As soon as we get a chance to try them, we’ll let you know if they belong on our best budget wireless earbuds and headphones list.

Editors’ Recommendations

Google Pixel Watch 2 just got its first proper discount | Digital Trends

Google Pixel Watch 2 just got its first proper discount | Digital Trends

Joe Maring / Digital Trends

If you’re on the hunt for smartwatch deals, here’s an offer that you should definitely consider — the Google Pixel Watch 2 for $300, down from $350 at Best Buy We think there’s a lot of shoppers who have been waiting for the wearable device’s first proper discount since its October 2023 release, so if you want to pocket the $50 in savings, you’re going to have to be quick with your purchase.

Why you should buy the Google Pixel Watch 2

The Google Pixel Watch 2, Google’s follow-up to the Google Pixel Watch, lets you access your favorite Google apps like Google Maps and Google Calendar on your wrist, on a 1.2-inch screen with a 320 pixel-per-inch density and a maximum brightness of 1,000 nits. It comes with Fitbit as its fitness platform, and emergency features such as fall detection and real-time location sharing. The Google Pixel Watch 2 just received an update to enable notifications to your Android phone when it’s fully charged, which is a sign that owners can look forward to more additions in the future.

Between the Google Pixel Watch 2 and Google Pixel Watch, we recommend going for the second generation of the smartwatch despite no visible changes between the two models. That’s because the improvements are mostly under the hood, with a processor upgrade to the Qualcomm Snapdragon W5 Gen 1 for faster performance and better battery efficiency, an entire ensemble of new and improved sensors for fitness tracking, and Google’s Wear OS 4 pre-installed.

The Google Pixel Watch is just nearly two months old, but you can already get this new piece of tech with a $50 discount from Amazon, Best Buy, or Target. It’s down to its lowest price so far of $300 from $350, but probably not for long as we expect a lot of demand for the smartwatch. There’s a chance that stocks are already running low, so if you’re already looking forward to wearing the Google Pixel Watch 2 on your wrist, there’s no time to waste — lock the price in as soon as possible.

Editors’ Recommendations

I was completely wrong about the Google Pixel Watch 2 | Digital Trends

I was completely wrong about the Google Pixel Watch 2 | Digital Trends

Joe Maring / Digital Trends

As a tech reviewer, part of my job is to review/test every new gadget with as much of a fair, unbiased perspective as I can. But I have a confession to make: I really didn’t want to use the Google Pixel Watch 2 when I received my review unit.

Why? I didn’t like the first Pixel Watch at all. I hated the large bezels, the performance was bad, the battery didn’t last long enough, and it was missing critical health/fitness features. When Google announced the Pixel Watch 2, I went into the watch assuming I’d hate it just as much as the first one.

What actually happened was the polar opposite. I’ve been wearing the Pixel Watch 2 for over a month and have had a lovely time with it. It’s not at all what I expected it to be, and I’m so, so happy I was wrong about it.

The Pixel Watch design is growing on me

The Google Pixel Watch 2 resting on a stone fireplace.
Joe Maring / Digital Trends

So many things about the Pixel Watch 2 have been surprising — one of the biggest being its design. The Pixel Watch 2 looks virtually identical to its predecessor, featuring the same small case size and large display bezels. But for whatever reason, I like it a lot more this year.

Although I’d still love for Google to offer more case sizes with the Pixel Watch 3, the current 41mm body is growing on me. Going to it from the Apple Watch Ultra 2 was a shock at first, but I’ve come around to quite liking how the Pixel Watch 2 looks on my wrist. It’s sleek and subtle, and the domed glass around the screen really is gorgeous. The bezels are still annoying, yes, but they also haven’t been a deal-breaker over the past month.

A close-up view of someone wearing the Google Pixel Watch 2, showing the rotating crown.
Joe Maring / Digital Trends

And while the overall design isn’t all that different, Google did make some small (but important) hardware upgrades this year. The rotating crown, which felt cheap and stiff on the first Pixel Watch, feels much better on the Pixel Watch 2. It rotates smoothly, the haptic feedback is great, and the way menus/lists scroll when you use the crown is more natural, too. It’s still no Apple Watch Digital Crown, but it’s a massive year-over-year improvement.

There’s another change I quite like, though it’s one you can’t see. Instead of using stainless steel like it did last year, the body of the Pixel Watch 2 is made out of 100% recycled aluminum. It still has a shiny finish and looks like stainless steel at first glance, but it’s lighter than before and has been (in my opinion) slightly more comfortable to wear.

Bad battery life? What bad battery life?

The Google Pixel Watch 2's charging puck.
Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

The first Pixel Watch garnered pretty split opinions regarding its design, but there’s one thing everyone could agree on: it didn’t have particularly good battery life. Google used a processor from 2018 in last year’s Pixel Watch, and it showed. The Pixel Watch could get through a full day of use, but just barely. And if you wanted to wear it to track your sleep, you were often forced to charge it before bed. It wasn’t a good experience.

During my testing, the Google Pixel Watch 2 has been significantly better. When using the Pixel Watch 2 to track workouts and receive dozens of notifications throughout the day, I often don’t have to charge the watch until the late morning or early afternoon of my second day wearing it. And that includes having the always-on display enabled and using it for sleep tracking. It’s really quite impressive.

Someone wearing the Google Pixel Watch 2 with a yellow/green fabric band.
Joe Maring / Digital Trends

I’ve also been pleasantly happy with the new charger. Instead of a wireless charging puck like its predecessor used, the Pixel Watch 2 opts for a magnetic four-pin charging cradle. The charger itself feels a bit cheap, but it latches on to the Pixel Watch 2 securely, doesn’t make the watch too warm, and fills up the battery quickly.

Battery life was one of the main things that kept me away from the original Pixel Watch, but amazingly, Google completely resolved those complaints with the Pixel Watch 2. Bravo, Google. Bravo.

The Fitbit experience is getting there

The back of the Google Pixel Watch 2.
Joe Maring / Digital Trends

I also need to give props to how much Google has improved the Fitbit side of the Pixel Watch 2. The first Pixel Watch was fine for basic health/fitness tracking, but it also lacked a lot of really key features, with automatic workout detection being one of them.

Once again, Google addressed my complaints head-on with the Pixel Watch 2. The Pixel Watch 2 does support automatic workout tracking, and it works really well — sometimes even better than my Apple Watch. The skin temperature sensor has also been a welcome addition, as has the cEDA sensor. If I’m feeling stressed, excited, or nervous about something, the Pixel Watch 2 does a good job of detecting those changes in my body and alerting me to them. It’s not always the most helpful thing, but it’s a nice addition that I’ll miss when using other wearables.

The home page of the Fitbit app on an Android phone.
Joe Maring / Digital Trends

Similarly, I’m a big fan of the redesigned Fitbit app. It has an interface that now feels right at home with other Google apps, and while the layout/information is largely the same, it feels more organized and less daunting than it used to.

I’m still not a huge fan of how many features are locked behind Fitbit Premium, but the overall fitness package is a notable upgrade compared to last year. Google’s on the right track here, and I’m excited to see how it keeps growing in the months/years ahead.

I can’t believe how good the Pixel Watch 2 is

A person sitting down and wearing the Google Pixel Watch 2.
Joe Maring / Digital Trends

When I wore the original Google Pixel Watch, I quickly found myself counting down the days until I’d be able to take it off. I tried my best to like it and give it the benefit of the doubt, but it’s not a smartwatch I ever truly enjoyed. Meanwhile, the Pixel Watch 2 has been extremely easygoing.

I use the Pixel Watch 2 to track my sleep and workouts, keep tabs on my notifications, set timers, etc. I’m doing all of this without thinking about how bad the crown is, how terrible the battery life is, or how I’m missing fitness features that I’d really like to have. It’s a shockingly great user experience, and it’s really caught me off guard in terms of how much I’ve liked living with the smartwatch.

The Pixel Watch 2 completely changed my opinion of the Pixel Watch as a whole.

I think that’s what’s stuck out to me most about the Pixel Watch 2. I’m going through each day with it on my wrist with nary a complaint. That never happened with the Pixel Watch 1, but that’s been a recurring experience with its successor. The Google Pixel Watch 2 isn’t a game-changer in the smartwatch landscape, but it is a surprisingly excellent device.

The Pixel Watch 2 managed to completely change my opinion of the Pixel Watch as a whole, and as we head into 2024, I genuinely can’t wait to see what Google does with the next generation. I don’t often like being proven wrong, but in this case, I’m thrilled that I was.

Editors’ Recommendations

Logitech made the ultimate gaming headset, but it’s complicated | Digital Trends

Logitech made the ultimate gaming headset, but it’s complicated | Digital Trends


Logitech has announced its latest gaming headset, the Astro A50 X. It costs a whopping $380, but for good reason: It’s a headset that’s compatible with the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X that doubles as an HDMI switcher.

The new device is an evolution of Logitech’s popular Astro A50 headset, which features a distinct base stand. The A50 X builds on that idea in a few ways. One key example is that it’s able to connect to both the PS5 and Xbox Series X. That might sound simple, but the consoles feature different connection methods that make it difficult to find a one-headset-fits-all audio solution.

The A50 X pulls that off in a very surprising manner. The wireless headset comes with a base stand that connects to each console via HDMI and USB. Both the audio and visual from each console pass through the base stand. With a press of a “Playsync” button on the side of the headset (or in a Logitech app), players can switch which console appears on the connected TV or monitor, as well as what audio feeds to the headset. It’s basically an HDMI switch inside of a headset.

The base stand of the A50 X sits on a table.

The back of the base also includes a port to connect a PC, though that won’t pass video through. Since its Bluetooth compatible, it can also be connected to mobile devices, the Nintendo Switch, and other devices too. That means that you can hook every gaming system you own up to one headset and flip between them on the fly.

The A50 X boasts some impressive stats to justify its enormous price tag. It features Pro-G Graphene drivers and a high-resolution microphone, and has 24 hours of battery life. It features an open-back design (with no active noise canceling, by design) and allows players to mix their game and chat audio on the fly.

While its features are impressive, the headset does come with some major caveats. The headset’s Bluetooth is actually located in the headset’s base stand. That means players can’t connect the headset wirelessly unless both it and their device are in range of the stand. It’s complicated for those who already use an HDMI switch to manage their systems too, as it can only connect to three devices at once. Logitech doesn’t recommend trying to connect the base to a second HDMI switch at present. That may make the headset a bit of a niche use case.

The Logitech Astro A50 X will begin shipping on December 20 and comes in both black and white designs.

Editors’ Recommendations