7 smartphones coming out in 2024 I can’t wait for | Digital Trends

7 smartphones coming out in 2024 I can’t wait for | Digital Trends

Christine Romero-Chan / Digital Trends

It’s a new year, which means we can expect a huge slate of new smartphones to launch in the coming months ahead. From Apple to Google to Samsung and everything in between, there are a lot of exciting new phones to look forward to.

Here’s a preview of the most highly anticipated phones for 2024 and why we’re can’t wait for them.

Samsung Galaxy S24 series

A render of the Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra laying at an angle.
Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra render OnLeaks / SmartPrix

One of the biggest releases coming out will be Samsung’s Galaxy S24 series, which will include the S24, S24 Plus, and the S24 Ultra.

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Though the design will look similar to the previous S23 series, the Galaxy S24 Ultra is expected to have a flat screen instead of curved edges like the S23 Ultra has. The S24 Ultra is also rumored to have a titanium frame, similar to Apple’s iPhone 15 Pro series. Potential new color options may include yellow and violet shades, which would look stunning.

While the S24 Ultra will have the same display size as before, the S24 and S24 Plus may be slightly bigger than their predecessors with 6.2 and 6.7-inch displays, respectively, compared to the previous 6.1 and 6.6-inch sizes. It’s also expected that the S24 lineup will use Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 chip.

One of the big new features to expect with the Galaxy S24 lineup is the use of artificial intelligence with Android 14. Some new AI features will likely include real-time phone call translation, generative AI wallpapers like on the Google Pixel 8, and photo editing tools that work similarly to Google’s Magic Editor.

We have some big changes coming on the camera front — especially for the S24 Ultra. The Galaxy S24 Ultra may see a quad camera setup with 200MP main, 50MP and 10MP telephoto, and 12MP ultrawide cameras. The two telephoto lenses are for both 5x and 10x optical zoom capabilities, along with 100x maximum zoom length. For the S24 and S24 Plus, we can expect 50MP main cameras with 2x and 3x dual telephoto lenses and 30x total zoom.

As someone who looks at the cameras as a primary reason to upgrade each year, the Galaxy S24 Ultra, in particular, is shaping up to be an exciting one for mobile photographers. I’m eager to see how the dual telephoto lenses will do with both 5x and 10x optical zoom options, as having both will definitely allow for more fun wildlife photography. I just hope that Samsung tones down that color saturation a bit, as it’s always bothered me how photos can end up looking too vibrant with some Samsung phones.

OnePlus 12

OnePlus 12 in green, silver, and black colors.
OnePlus

Though OnePlus may not be as big of a name as Apple and Samsung, it still makes some pretty great devices — like the OnePlus Pad and OnePlus Open. This year, we’re expecting its next-generation flagship with the OnePlus 12.

Since the OnePlus 12 has already launched in China, we have a look at what to expect when it launches in the U.S. later this year. Design-wise, it looks like its predecessor, the OnePlus 11, with a few minor changes. Those changes include a very slight size increase, but only 1 to 2mm more in each direction. Because of this, existing OnePlus 11 cases will not fit.

We also know that the OnePlus 12 will come in the traditional OnePlus green and black colors. There is also a new option for white, but it’s unclear if that will make its way across the pond. The volume buttons have moved to the right side of the chassis, while the alert slider is now on the left.

OnePlus 12 camera module in green.
OnePlus

The camera module on the OnePlus 12 will look just like the one on the OnePlus 11 but with the “Hasselblad” branding reduced to just an “H” like on the OnePlus Open. There will be a metal ring around the camera array for a more elegant look, and the camera module color matches the body color you chose.

While we’re on the topic of the camera, the OnePlus 12 features some big camera upgrades. We have a 50MP main camera, a 64MP periscope lens for 3x optical zoom, and a 48MP ultrawide sensor. This is basically the same camera system on the OnePlus Open, which was very good, so we expect promising results with the OnePlus 12.

In terms of specs, the OnePlus 12 will have Snapdragon 8 Gen 3, and the base model now starts at 256GB of storage with 12GB RAM. Storage options will go up to 1TB with 24GB RAM, making this a great powerhouse Android phone for those who want it. It will also launch with Android 14 and OxygenOS 14, and you can expect four years of software updates.

Battery life should also be better with the OnePlus 12, as it now has a 5,400mAh cell inside. In China, the OnePlus 12 has 100W charging speeds, but in the U.S., we can expect slightly lower speeds at 80W like the OnePlus 11. And OnePlus has finally brought back wireless charging at 50W speeds and reverse wireless charging at 10W, which is much better than the competition.

The OnePlus Open was one of my favorite phones from 2023, and it really showed off what OnePlus is capable of. It sounds like the OnePlus 12 will take some of those great features in the Open, like the camera module, and make it available to a wider audience. I’m also excited about 50W wireless charging, as I typically don’t use wireless charging since it’s so slow. There’s a lot to look forward to with this one.

Nothing Phone 3

The Nothing Phone 2 and Nothing Phone 1's Glyph lights.
Nothing Phone 2 (left) and Nothing Phone 1 (right) Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

There haven’t been a lot of rumors about the Nothing Phone 3, and anything out there is just speculation so far. But we may have a peek at what’s to come in February, as Nothing confirmed that it will hold an event at Mobile World Congress 2024 in Barcelona on February 27.

Nothing has set itself apart from the rest of the competition by having a unique transparent glass design with LED lights called the Glyph interface. It’s safe to assume that the Nothing Phone 3 will follow that same design, though we have yet to see any teasers of what that may look like.

Other rumors indicate that the display may be brighter than its predecessors but largely remain the same. Previous generations have also used a dual camera setup, and the Nothing Phone 3 will likely follow suit.

And since the Nothing Phone has never been quite up to par with other competing flagships (it’s more of a mid-range option), it’s unlikely we’ll see Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 in it. Instead, the Nothing Phone 2 used Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1, which was a surprise release from Qualcomm in 2022. The Nothing Phone 3 may use the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 or something similar.

Since there have not been a lot of actual leaks with the Nothing Phone 3, it’s hard to say what we can expect aside from very general speculation. But I hope for some color in the Glyph interface, which would spice things up a bit. It would also be nice to see better cameras for low-light photography, which both generations have struggled with so far.

Google Pixel 8a

Possible renders showing the Google Pixel 8a.
Smart Prix

Google does an interesting thing with its Pixel lineup. It typically releases the flagship Pixel models in the fall and then comes out with a more budget-friendly Pixel A-series the following summer. Though we originally thought that the Pixel 7a would be the last of the A-series, that was not the case.

The Google Pixel 8a will have a design that follows the flagship Google Pixel 8 and Google Pixel 8 Pro. From leaks we’ve seen so far, this means a design with much more pronounced rounded corners than before. The Pixel 8a would also have thicker bezels on the front than the main flagship series.

Since Google is using its Tensor G3 chipset in the mainline Pixel 8 series, it only makes sense that this same chip will also end up in the Pixel 8a. It’s likely to also only have 128GB storage.

Possible renders showing the Google Pixel 8a.
Smart Prix

The display will reportedly remain the same at 6.1 inches, and the refresh rate will still be 90Hz, but there may be some upgrades to the materials used. For example, the Google Pixel 7a used Corning Gorilla Glass 3, but the Pixel 8a has a good chance of using Corning Gorilla Glass Victus, which you can find in the Pixel 8, so it could be more durable than its predecessor.

There haven’t been any solid rumors regarding the cameras on the Pixel 8a, but there’s potential for a larger ultrawide lens and autofocus on the selfie camera. Some of the photo editing tools on the Pixel 8 lineup, including Best Take and Magic Editor, will likely show up on the Pixel 8a.

One of my favorite things about Pixel phones is the ability to take great photos without much effort. Even if the Pixel 8a doesn’t have a lot of camera hardware upgrades, a more affordable price tag than the main Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro would appeal to more people. The Pixel 7a was pretty good for what you get, and I expect the Pixel 8a to be the same.

Google Pixel Fold 2

Google Pixel Fold in Obsidian inner display home screen.
Christine Romero-Chan / Digital Trends

In 2023, Google released its first foldable with the Google Pixel Fold. While it was a good start, it lost a bit of steam once OnePlus released its first foldable, the OnePlus Open. Google has a chance to make things right again with the Pixel Fold 2, but so far, we haven’t had a lot of rumors to go off of.

The biggest rumor for the Google Pixel Fold 2 is that it will get a larger screen, according to display specialist Ross Young. However, he does not specify if the larger screen is the cover or inner display.

And, of course, if the Pixel Fold 2 releases before the Google Pixel 9, it would likely get the Tensor G3 chip currently in the Pixel 8 series. However, since the Pixel Fold is a first-generation device, there are no existing patterns of release. Some rumors suggest we’ll see it as early as this summer, though other reports indicate it may not launch until 2025.

I enjoyed the Pixel Fold until the OnePlus Open came out. But Google has many opportunities to improve the Pixel Fold 2. I would love to see a less reflective inner display; the current one on the Pixel Fold is too glossy because of the plastic screen protector, and it only reaches 1,450 nits peak brightness, making it hard to see outdoors. The bezels are also thicker than most people would like, so maybe the Pixel Fold 2 can have thinner bezels.

The hinge needs to be improved to allow for opening fully flat without needing to apply a lot of pressure or force. Google also needs to rethink the materials used, as the Pixel Fold is one of the heaviest smartphones I’ve used. For example, OnePlus used titanium in the OnePlus Open, making it incredibly lightweight. Perhaps Google can consider the same.

iPhone 16 series

Prototype renders of the iPhone 16.
MacRumors

Apple has one of the biggest releases each year with the iPhone. This year, we can expect the iPhone 16 lineup to include the iPhone 16, iPhone 16 Plus, iPhone 16 Pro, and iPhone 16 Pro Max.

There might be some big changes coming to the base model iPhone 16 and iPhone 16 Plus. These may feature a new vertical camera layout, which would be for spatial video recording for the Apple Vision Pro headset. For the iPhone 16 Pro and iPhone 16 Pro Max, we may be seeing a slight increase in display sizes to 6.3 and 6.9 inches, respectively.

All models could see the introduction of new haptic buttons, which were supposed to make an appearance on the iPhone 15 Pro but were canceled due to technical difficulties. Along with new haptic buttons, we could see a new “capture” button across the lineup as well.

right edge profile of leaked iPhone 16 renders.
MacRumors

The iPhone 16 Pro and iPhone 16 Pro Max could see some camera improvements in the form of a new 48MP ultrawide lens. The smaller iPhone 16 Pro could also be getting 5x optical zoom capabilities, which was limited to only the iPhone 15 Pro Max model in 2023. But the iPhone 16 Pro Max may also take things further with a “super” telephoto camera, possibly increasing the optical zoom to 10x range.

One of my biggest issues with the iPhone 15 Pro was the fact that Apple only added the periscope lens to the Pro Max model. These new rumors about the iPhone 16 Pro getting better optical zoom are exciting because that’s what Apple should have done in the first place, instead of only providing the best camera experience in the larger phone. But if it improves the iPhone 16 Pro Max with a super telephoto lens, then my wish would still be a bit moot.

I am also excited about the new “capture” button that is rumored to be located on the right edge of the iPhone 16. I love the Action button that is currently on the iPhone 15 Pro, and I use it multiple times a day for the camera. But if the new “capture” button is for capturing a photo, it would be even more convenient (especially selfies and landscape photos) and let me use the Action button for something else. It’s unknown what the new button would be for, but if it’s called “capture,” then my first guess is definitely a camera/shutter button.

Google Pixel 9 and Pixel 9 Pro

Google Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro in pink and white.
Google Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro Andrew Martonik / Digital Trends

Though the Google Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro launched towards the end of 2023, it’s now time to look forward to the Google Pixel 9, which we can expect sometime in the fall.

We haven’t seen any leaked renders of what the Pixel 9 and Pixel 9 Pro will look like, but it’s hard to imagine Google straying from the camera bar design that has set the Pixel apart from the competition.

But there could be other changes with the Pixel 9 devices this year, including a smaller Pro model. Currently, Google only has the regular Pixel 8, which has a 6.2-inch display, and the Pixel 8 Pro with a 6.7-inch display. If Google comes out with a smaller Pixel 9 Pro, then it would give those who prefer smaller phones more of the flagship features in the Pro model, including the telephoto camera, for example.

Two Pixel 8 Pro smartphones laying on top of each other.
Joe Maring / Digital Trends

Ross Young, the leaker who has experience with display supplies, reports that there will be larger screens across the Pixel 9 lineup. However, we don’t have any leaks that indicate how much bigger, so this may be a disappointment for those who prefer smaller phones.

As a fan of smaller phones, I would love to see Google make a smaller Pixel Pro model. I often prefer the set of features that are available in higher-end phone models, but I don’t like the gargantuan size because it ends up being uncomfortable to hold. If a smaller Pixel 9 Pro would be more like the regular Pixel 9 size, it would be perfect for me. We won’t know until Google announces it, but I’ll keep my fingers crossed.

A lot to look forward to

These are all of the major flagships we expect to see throughout 2024. Though some upgrades can be considered minor compared to the previous iteration, others could have significantly bigger changes.

I’m most looking forward to the iPhone 16 Pro, OnePlus 12, and the Google Pixel 9 Pro — if there is a smaller version. It’s going to be an exciting year!

Editors’ Recommendations






I’m worried about the Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra | Digital Trends

I’m worried about the Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra | Digital Trends

Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

I don’t want to believe one specific rumor about the upcoming Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra and would be shocked if Samsung made such an odd strategic decision. But it’s possible the 10x optical zoom feature may be removed from the phone.

It could go either way at the moment, but if it does happen, it would leave the S24 Ultra with a 3x and a 5x optical zoom and entirely remove the Ultra series’s main, unique, standout camera feature. And I hate the thought of that.

Moving backward

Close-up shot of the cameras on the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra.
Andrew Martonik / Digital Trends

It would be a baffling decision should the rumors turn out to be accurate and almost as confusing as the fact no other manufacturer has taken on Samsung with a 10x optical zoom camera on a different phone yet. In 2024, I was hoping to see at least one other phone with such an impressive zoom, but now it is possible there may not even be one example at all.

I use many different smartphones throughout the year, and I enjoy taking a lot of photos with them. But I regularly think, “Oh, I wish I had my S23 Ultra right now to take that photo,” purely because of the 10x zoom feature. It can take photos that are simply impossible to capture with the same level of detail and quality as any other current phone.

I’ve loved the feature since it was introduced on the Galaxy S21 Ultra, and I’m not the only one. It’s also just one aspect of the S23 Ultra’s photographic prowess, which would be eroded should the feature be abandoned.

Galaxy S23 Ultra telephoto picture of a red boat on the water.
Galaxy S23 Ultra (10x zoom) Joe Maring / Digital Trends

Why would Samsung consider removing it and settling with a 5x optical zoom as its lengthiest option? It may come down to cost, as perhaps it’s only a handful of people who use and enjoy the 10x zoom option, or it’s impossible to fit inside the new S24 Ultra due to other alternations.

Or, it’s a reaction to the iPhone 15 Pro Max and its new 5x optical zoom. Samsung is notorious for chasing Apple — look at the Galaxy Watch 5 Pro’s marketing, where it was wrongly positioned against the Apple Watch Ultra, for evidence — instead of going its own way.

Where is the competition?

The Huawei P40 Pro Plus's camera module.
Huawei P40 Pro Plus Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

If the Galaxy S24 Ultra doesn’t have a 10x optical zoom, I wouldn’t be so mad about it if a few other phones could satisfy me, but there simply isn’t another option available to buy. Not only that, but I don’t know which other major manufacturer would be willing to even give it a try. Aside from Samsung’s own bizarre Galaxy S4 Zoom, Huawei is the only one that has embraced a 10x optical zoom before.

Huawei did so on the P40 Pro Plus after gaining a lot of attention for introducing a 10x hybrid zoom on the Huawei P30 Pro, but then it went back to non-optical 10x zooms for later phones. Huawei’s lack of availability and other drawbacks mean it wouldn’t be a viable option for many even if it did still have a 10x optical zoom on a current phone. Apple has only just got around to a 5x optical zoom, so a 10x optical zoom iPhone seems unlikely.

Oppo Reno 10x Zoom review
Oppo Reno 10x Zoom Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

Oppo may have put the feature in the name of its Reno 10x Zoom from 2019, but it was also a hybrid 10x zoom, and the phone only offered a 5x optical zoom. The Xiaomi 13 Ultra has a 5x optical and 10x hybrid mode, OnePlus seems to be content with an optical zoom around 3x, Google relies on its (admittedly very good) software to take photos beyond 5x optical zoom, and Vivo is experimenting with hybrid setups too.

Other manufacturers need to seize the day

A person holding the Galaxy S23 Ultra.
Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

Samsung needs to keep the 10x optical zoom alive in 2024 with the Galaxy S24 Ultra. It’s a unique feature that has long made the Ultra model exciting and different, and dropping it now would be like removing the S Pen stylus, another feature that sets the phone apart from the competition. Without these, the S24 Ultra is just another big, expensive phone.

But whatever happens, there is a gap for another manufacturer to fill. It doesn’t seem like the other big names are willing to take a gamble by adding a 10x optical zoom to the camera array, which gives smaller brands the chance to make an impact.

Several names spring to mind. Asus is adventurous and has been messing around with gimbal stabilization — which is a bit gimmicky — on its Zenfone cameras, but it could really give the next model wide appeal with a 10x optical zoom.

The Hasselblad True Zoom Moto Mod on a smartphone.
Hasselblad True Zoom Moto Mod Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

Nothing has been causing problems for itself with software misplays and could do with focusing on hardware for a while. It would win a lot of fans with a Pro version of the Nothing Phone, complete with a 10x optical zoom.

Finally, Motorola is coming off a fantastic 2023, and even though its cameras can be hit-or-miss, it does have experience with 10x optical zoom hardware through the Hasselblad-backed True Zoom Moto Mod for the Moto Z series. Bring something like it back for 2024, please.

Don’t let the feature disappear

Ultimately, I want to take high-quality, blur-free photos of squirrels in my back garden and other animals I come across on my travels, and to do that, I really need my smartphone camera to have a 10x optical zoom. In the same way, I don’t want Samsung to consign the feature to the past with the Galaxy S24 Ultra; I also really want at least one other manufacturer to see the potential and introduce the feature on a new phone, too.

You can keep your face-swapping tools and AI-generated skies; I’m not all that worried if the camera pops out when I take a photo or even if the main camera has 200 megapixels. I just don’t want 2023 to be the last year when a 10x optical zoom was a smartphone camera feature.

Editors’ Recommendations






PC ports need to be better in 2024. Here’s how | Digital Trends

PC ports need to be better in 2024. Here’s how | Digital Trends

Digital Trends

I’ve said it once, and I’ll saw it again: 2023 wasn’t a great year for PC gaming. We saw some excellent games, but most were marred by poor ports that exhibited performance issues, bugs, and other game-breaking problems. Even at the end of the year, though, things are looking up, and I hope that trend continues into 2024.

Rather than rehashing the performance issues we’ve seen on PC all year, I want to look forward. Here are the five things I want to see out of PC releases next year.

GPU decompression

Portal: Prelude RTX | RTX IO Off vs On Comparison – Cake Scene

There were a few common threads across PC ports in 2023, but one of the most prominent was the lack of GPU decompression. As I’ve written about previously, the Xbox Series X and PS5 have dedicated decompression hardware, which equals the computational power of almost a full CPU. PCs don’t have a dedicated decompression processor, but you can offload some of that work to the GPU.

We’ve heard about Microsoft’s DirectStorage, which is currently available in Ratchet and Clank Rift Apart with GPU decompression. In addition, Nvidia has its RTX IO feature, which we saw vastly improve loading times in the demanding Portal Prelude RTX

Loading times in Portal Prelude.
Jacob Roach / Digital Trends

Faster loading times are great, but the real advantage of GPU decompression is the IO bottleneck you can see in some PC games. If the GPU decompresses assets, that takes some strain off of the CPU. In titles like Star Wars Jedi: Survivor, which poorly scale across the high thread count available on modern CPUs, getting past the IO bottleneck can help reduce traversal stutter that’s caused by invisible loading zones.

Here’s how Nvidia explains it: “RTX IO alone cannot completely remove stutter, but it can be an aiding technology to help reduce stuttering. It can do so by scaling down the dependence on CPU compute when the need to load textures and geometries ‘faster’ is the cause of stuttering, and freeing up the CPU to work on other tasks.”

Frame gen for all

An astronaut explores a planet's surface in Starfield.
Bethesda

I’m tired of the DLSS 3 and FSR 3 debacle. Every major AAA release should include the latest upscaling and frame generation tools from Nvidia and AMD. If you’re going to include one, you must include the other. There’s really no excuse at this point. Within a week of AMD releasing the source code for FSR 3, modders created a tool that could utilize FSR 3 in any game that already had DLSS 3.

Frame generation is important, but we saw a nasty dynamic between FSR and DLSS this year overall. Starfield was probably the worst example, with the game only supporting FSR at release despite cries from the community for a DLSS version (a DLSS mod released within a day of the game’s launch). We’ve seen over and over again that DLSS and FSR largely use the same backbone, so to add one to a game and not the other doesn’t make any sense.

As we’ve seen with games like Starfield and Alan Wake 2upscaling and sometimes even frame generation are essential tools for getting the best performance in demanding titles. Supporting FSR, DLSS, and even Intel’s XeSS ensures that players can get the best experience regardless of the GPU they own, and that should be a top priority for any major PC release.

Proper HDR

The HDR overlay for Special K mod.
Jacob Roach / Digital Trends

I love the Special K utility I have running on nearly every PC game I play — make sure to read how the “Swiss Army Knife” app transformed my setup — but it’s a solution that doesn’t need to exist. I mainly use it to inject HDR in games that don’t have a proper implementation, and as most PC gamers know all too well, that’s most PC games.

HDR has been on the backburner for PC gaming for years, and for good reason. We haven’t had the displays that can truly make an HDR experience shine on the desktop. That changed this year, and it’s time PC ports started paying attention to the HDR experience that console players have enjoyed for the past several years.

Any HDR implementation is better than none at all, but ideally, the game will support different HDR formats and come with sliders for peak luminance, saturation, and midpoint. Cyberpunk 2077 is a prime example of HDR done right in a game, and I hope more releases in 2024 apply that format.

While we’ve mostly seen a swatch of VA and IPS panels with disappointing brightness in years past, we’re seeing many more gaming monitors built for HDR. OLED panels like the LG UltraGear OLED 27 are fantastic for HDR, but we’re also seeing an influx of mini-LED displays like the Cooler Master Tempest GP27Q. Now, we’re just waiting on proper HDR support in the games themselves, and I hope to see more of that in 2024.

SSD required

An SSD installed in a PC motherboard.
Jacob Roach / Digital Trends

There was a bit of an outcry this year over some system requirements. In particular, games like Starfield, Diablo 4. and Cyberpunk 2077: Phantom Liberty list an SSD as a requirement to run the game. This, apparently, came as a shock to some PC gamers (and even some journalists) who think that a modern AAA release should be able to run on storage tech that debuted in 1992.

We’ve seen a few examples of the horrors of using a spinning hard drive in a game designed for an SSD, with Ratchet and Clank Rift Apart being the most prominent example. I appreciate developers holding onto HDDs to skirt the ire of PC gamers, but it’s time. We need to move on to requiring an SSD for modern AAA games.

Don’t misunderstand what I’m saying here. HDDs don’t need to go away entirely, and if a game can run on an HDD without problems, that’s great. However, we’re in a time when the cost of a 1TB or 2TB SSD is roughly the same as a high-quality HDD of the same size, so games shouldn’t focus on supporting storage tech that’s well past its prime. Furthermore, with features like RTX IO and DirectStorage, an SSD is required to get the most out of this IO tech.

More Vulkan

The Steam Deck OLED on a pink background.
Jacob Roach / Digital Trends

This is less about optimizing PC games and more about broadening support. I hope we see more Vulkan next year. I’ve written about previously the advantages of Vulkan over DirectX, including occasional performance improvements, but the main draw of Vulkan is that it works across multiple platforms. DirectX only works on Windows. Vulkan works on Windows, MacOS, and Linux.

The majority of PC gaming happens on, well, a PC, but that’s changing. Devices like the Steam Deck now give Linux a larger slice of the PC gaming pie, and recent Macs are powerful enough to run games like Baldur’s Gate 3 — a game that, for the record, supports both Vulkan and DirectX. You see that a lot. Games like Red Dead Redemption 2 and Doom Eternal are easy to get working on Steam Deck because they use Vulkan.

The scope of PC gaming is only getting broader, and Windows is no longer the single destination for playing games. Vulkan ensures that games can run on different operating systems without fancy translation layers that can bring up a slew of issues. Ideally, we’ll see games that support DirectX and Vulkan. It’s certainly possible, as titles like Red Dead Redemption 2 and Baldur’s Gate 3 demonstrate.

PC ports in 2024

2023 wasn’t a great year for PC gaming, and I’m sure we’ll still see plenty of problematic PC ports next year. However, the games we saw in the latter half of this year were certainly better than those released in the first half, and that makes me hopeful that the stability of PC ports is on an upward trend.

There are still techniques like pre-compiling shaders that PC ports need, but I hope that the solutions we saw for problems in 2022 will become the norm in 2024. That’s certainly what we saw throughout the last year.

Editors’ Recommendations






The 10 best apps for your 2024 New Year’s resolutions | Digital Trends

The 10 best apps for your 2024 New Year’s resolutions | Digital Trends

Digital Trends

Now that the holidays have come and gone, it’s time to look forward to the new year. And you know what that means — 2024 New Year’s resolutions!

I know that we all try to make some resolutions each year, but it’s hard to stay on top of it. Whether it’s trying to eat healthier and exercise more, managing your budget better, or even just trying to form better overall habits and break bad ones, there are apps to help you stay on track.

Here are the best apps for New Year’s resolutions for iPhones and Android phones.

Streaks

Streaks iOS app screenshots.
Digital Trends

New Year’s resolutions will be different for everyone, but sometimes, the best way to go about it is to start with small habits. Small habits can range from just eating better and cooking more to dropping smoking or alcohol.

One of the best apps for this is Streaks. It’s been around for a good while now, but it’s still a great app to help you with your resolutions and then some.

Streaks is basically a to-do list that helps you form those good habits each day. You can create up to 24 tasks that you want to do daily, and once you complete them, you mark them as done. The app will also remind you when you need to complete something, and keeping your streaks in the app will help reinforce these good habits. There’s also a negative habits option for breaking bad habits, such as going sober, eating too much junk food, etc.

One of the reasons Streaks is so good is because it’s a beautifully designed app. Seeing your progress each day is done in a simple and streamlined way, and it’s easy to use. There are even interactive widgets available on the home screen to help you stay on top of things without having to open the app.

Streaks is available on iOS for a $5 one-time payment.

iOS

Way of Life

Way of Life iOS app screenshots.
Digital Trends

If you want an app like Streaks that takes things a step further, then you may want to consider Way of Life.

With Way of Life, you’ll create a “chain” when you achieve a habit each day. You’ll want to see how long you can keep that chain going, reinforcing the habit-building. But Way of Life takes things a step further than Streaks by also providing a journal space for each habit, so you can jot down notes on how things are actually going and make note of your progress. And despite the simple design of the app, Way of Life also provides detailed analytics for you.

Though Way of Life is free to download, you can only track three habits with it. This is a good way to try it out and see if it works for you. If you do want to stick with it, then a $6/month subscription lets you have unlimited habits.

iOS Android

YNAB

YNAB iOS app screenshots.
Digital Trends

With the start of a new year, one of the best resolutions you could try is to budget better if you don’t already. YNAB (short for You Need A Budget) is one of the best apps for the job.

With YNAB, you can connect your bank and credit accounts automatically or do it manually if you prefer. Once you have your accounts in there, you can begin setting budgets for specific categories and keep track of just where your money is going. You can even share budgets with up to six people, and YNAB will also keep track of your expenses so you can adjust your budgets in real time.

YNAB is also great for paying off loans. You can calculate the time and interest saved with every dollar that’s paid on your loans. For credit cards, YNAB can help you determine whether or not you can pay them off; if not, the app will help you plan to get to that point. YNAB is not only an app to help you plan a budget, but it will also teach you good ways to manage your money.

While YNAB is free to download, it’s basically a one-month free trial. After that, you’ll have to get a subscription, which is billed either monthly or annually. You can try it out for 30 days to see if it will suit your needs.

iOS Android

Duolingo

An iPhone 15 Pro Max showing the Duolingo app sitting on an ottomen.
Bryan M. Wolfe / Digital Trends

Is one of your New Year’s resolutions to learn a new language? If so, then you need Duolingo.

Duolingo provides bite-sized lessons for over 40 languages. These lessons are more like games and can help you practice speaking, reading, listening, and writing in many different languages. Some of the most popular languages learned from Duolingo are Spanish, French, Chinese, Italian, German, English, and more.

You can easily keep track of your progress in Duolingo, and it will encourage you to do a lesson or two each day. Duolingo is also free and one of the most popular apps to help you learn a new language. If that’s your goal for the new year, make sure to download Duolingo if you haven’t already.

iOS Android

MyFitnessPal

MyFitnessPal iOS app screenshots.
Digital Trends

One of the most popular resolutions is to eat better or lose weight, though you typically need to do both. If that’s one of your goals, then MyFitnessPal is a must.

MyFitnessPal has been around for years, but for good reason. With MyFitnessPal, you can set your goals for weight and various things like calories, fats, carbs, and protein each day. Once those are set, you can log your meals manually by adding items from the app’s massive food library, and packaged foods can be added just by scanning the barcode. You can also create custom recipes for meals you cook regularly.

In MyFitnessPal, you can keep track of your daily calorie and nutrient intake. It’s a must-have app for anyone who wants to eat better.

iOS Android

Productive

Productive iOS app screenshots.
Digital Trends

Another habit-building app, Productive, has been one that I’ve used in the past because I love the design and interface.

You can add tasks in Productive to help you become healthier, happier, and more productive. Once you set your habits and goals, you can track your progress by marking them as complete daily. But Productive also lets you stop or pause habits as needed because, sometimes, unexpected things happen.

Productive also has programs and articles for healthy habit-building tips, reflection check-ins, and even motivational prompts to help reinforce your habits. There’s also a gamified element with challenges, letting you improve your routine with guided tasks and competing with other users. And if you like to check how you’re doing, there are also analytics about your progress.

Again, the app is beautifully designed and intuitive to use. You will have limitations with the free download, and to get the most out of Productive, you’ll have to get a subscription. But you can try it out to ensure it works for you before committing.

iOS Android

Seven

Seven iOS app screenshots.
Digital Trends

In addition to eating better to lose weight, you’ll want to get some exercise. But not everyone can do hour-long workout sessions, but what about seven minutes to spare? That’s when Seven comes in.

Seven is perfect for beginners and experienced athletes alike. All of the workout routines in Seven take only seven minutes to complete, and there are over 200 workouts in total. The best part? None of the exercises need any extra equipment, and you can do them pretty much anywhere and anytime.

The app also helps with motivating you to do a seven-minute workout session each day with the everyday workout challenge, and you can see your progress in your tailored fitness plan. You can also compete with friends for encouragement, and there’s an interesting range of instructors like the Drill Sergeant or Cheerleader, among others.

Though Seven is free to download and use, there is also the 7 Club premium membership. This gets you access to all workouts and 200+ exercises to help you vary your routine. You’ll also have a certified personal trainer and hopefully see faster results.

iOS Android

Day One

Screenshots for Day One app on iPhone.
Christine Romero-Chan / Digital Trends

One of the best things you could do for yourself is journaling. This lets you privately express your feelings, vent, and reflect on your life. Doing so can give you a very satisfactory feeling once you want to look back at your memories. For this, Day One remains a personal favorite.

I’ve been using Day One for several years now, and though I don’t always keep on top of writing every day, I’ve been doing better and plan to keep it up in 2024 and beyond. I have Day One Premium, and I think it’s been well worth the cost.

With Day One, I have multiple journals set up for various reasons. My entries usually just reflect on what I did each day, but I also have some templates and even prompts if I have writer’s block. Day One also lets you add multimedia, such as photos, videos, and even audio clips, to your entries. All entries can be tagged for organization, and geolocation data can be added so you can even have a map of your entries (perfect when traveling).

When I want to reflect, I love looking back at my entries in Day One. There is even a cool feature in Day One that lets you see past entries “On this day,” so if you ever feel nostalgic, it’s a great way to take a trip down memory lane.

Day One also has a dashboard on the main screen with a “streak” counter, so you can see how many consecutive days you’ve logged an entry.

iOS Android

Bookshelf

Bookshelf iOS app screenshots.
Digital Trends

Trying to get more reading done this year? Give Bookshelf a try.

Bookshelf is an app that will help you track everything you need relating to books. That means what you have, what you’re reading, and books you want to read. Thanks to valuable insights and trend reports, it will improve your reading habits. You can set reading goals, make streaks when you log your reading every day, and set reminders to read in case you forget to. The app also helps you remember what you read by letting you write and review notes and memorable quotes.

Some cool features include chatting with the AI librarian to generate summaries and flashcards, reviewing key ideas and concepts in a title, and more.

Reading is always a good thing, and Bookshelf will help you read more (and better).

iOS

WaterMinder

WaterMinder iOS app screenshots.
Digital Trends

All living things, including humans, need water to survive. But sometimes, we just don’t remember to stay hydrated. On average, men need about 13 cups (three liters) daily, while women need about nine cups (over two liters) each day. And even more is needed if it’s hot or when you’re working out. WaterMinder is an app to help you track your water intake.

WaterMinder gives you a visual of your water intake throughout the day. As you log how much water you drink, you’ll see the visual fill-up with water — your goal is basically to fill it up by the end of the day. The goal is set by your weight and activity level, so it will differ from person to person.

To make things a bit more fun, there are challenges, progress sharing with friends, statistics, and insights into your hydration levels. There’s also an Apple Watch app to make logging even easier, and you can add various home and lock screen widgets to see your hydration without opening the app.

iOS Android

Editors’ Recommendations






2023 gaming report card: final scores for PS5, Xbox, and Switch | Digital Trends

2023 gaming report card: final scores for PS5, Xbox, and Switch | Digital Trends

It’s been a long year filled with massive games, but we’ve finally reached the end of 2023. There’s no question that this year will be remembered as one of the all-time best for new releases — and one of the worst for game creators — but it’s been a whirlwind 12 months for the “big three” console makers. PlayStation, Xbox, and Nintendo all had pivotal years, though in entirely different ways. While the Nintendo Switch took a victory lap, the PS5 entered an experimental era. The Xbox Series X, on the other hand, finally delivered the suite of exclusives fans had been waiting for … with mixed results.

To reflect on such an eventful year, we’ve decided to take on the role of teacher and hand each company a final grade for 2023. We took several factors into account here. Exclusive games are a major component of the final grade, naturally, but we also looked at how well each system maintained its wider ecosystem. That includes supporting services like PS Plus and Game Pass and evaluating how new hardware changed how we play.

Put your pencils down; it’s time for the final exam.

PlayStation

Giovanni Colantonio / Digital Trends

It’s no stretch to say that the PS5 has been the top dog of this console generation since 2020. Though Xbox Series X offered a strong value with Xbox Game Pass (last year’s lineup of additions was particularly extraordinary), Sony has consistently delivered the more traditional home console experience with expert precision. Every year brought several blockbuster exclusives that made the console a must-own. Sony continued that this year, but its momentum started to slow. Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 and Final Fantasy XVI gave PS5 two massive exclusives, but there weren’t too many more top-tier exclusives outside of that power duo (Forspoken would have been the third, but it launched to an unkind reception).

There’s a reason for that: 2023 was a bit of an experimental year for Sony. The company began to widen the scope of its vision, with a much larger focus on hardware and ecosystem. That started with the PlayStation VR2, a promising headset that would deliver a strong enough launch title in Horizon: Call of the Mountain and the excellent Humanity shortly thereafter. First-party support for the headset has been nonexistent since then, making it look like a pricey paperweight next to the Meta Quest 3 and its crown jewel, Asgard’s Wrath 2.

Other hardware releases were similarly disappointing. The streaming-only PlayStation Portal is a serviceable cloud handheld, but one that failed to deliver key features like Bluetooth support. A mid-generation PS5 “slim” refresh was a welcome change, but its lack of a price cut made it hard to justify an upgrade. The only area where Sony scored major points was in its PS5 Access Controller, a truly innovative piece of tech that allows more players than ever to experience Sony games.

Sony’s revamped PS Plus service didn’t help bridge the gaps in its schedule either. A lack of retro releases — one of the service’s major selling points — and a price increase would reduce the Game Pass competitor’s value. All of that left us with a mixed year that set the stage for a worrisome 2024. Will Sony’s live service and mobile push pay off? Can indies like Pacific Drive make up for the fact that there are few tentpole exclusives on the horizon? That’s a question for next December, but at least 2023 left us with enough highs to counterbalance the PS5’s first underwhelming year.

Grade: C+

Xbox

Xbox Series X and S
Microsoft

Microsoft had a lot to prove heading into 2023.  The Xbox Series X had yet to deliver a truly generation-defining exclusive to make it a must-own system like the PS5. Especially coming off an empty 2022, Xbox needed big games. It delivered that, though in scattershot fashion. The long-anticipated Starfield would finally launch in September, giving Xbox owners the big game they’d been waiting for. The only problem? It wasn’t all it was hyped up to be. Overly ambitious marketing would leave Bethesda’s sci-fi epic feeling like a second-tier release; it wouldn’t win a single award at this year’s Game Awards. Even worse, Bethesda’s Redfall would land as an even bigger disappointment.

Thankfully, Microsoft showed the power of diversification this year. While Sony focused on one major first-party exclusive, Xbox had several under its belt. Hi-Fi Rush would start the year as a left-field game of the year contender, while Forza Motorsport would give the Series X a strong, long-tailed service game. Minecraft Legends, on the other hand, would offer niche strategy fun for kids. That line-up was beefed up by a strong slate of console-exclusive indies and major Game Pass grabs, like Lies of P and Cocoon. It was yet another year that showed the power of Xbox’s ecosystem-driven strategy, though Game Pass did seem to deliver fewer watercooler zeitgeist moments overall.

While Series X delivered enough games, it was a quiet year for Xbox otherwise. Microsoft’s only hardware release would be an under-the-radar Series S upgrade, and Game Pass would quietly roll out to a few niche platforms. The biggest Microsoft development of 2023 would come from its final acquisition of Activision Blizzard, but that wouldn’t result in any games. It was business as usual in 2023, though that’s perhaps what Microsoft needed after a rocky start to its latest generation.

We’re hoping to see some more ambitious moves in 2024. Big-name exclusives like Senua’s Saga: Hellblade 2 and Avowed need to push Xbox’s momentum with more consistency. We’re also hoping that some of Xbox’s upcoming hardware plans can make the console exciting again. Documents leaked during its FTC battle over Activision Blizzard revealed a refreshed Series X and controller on the way. Both are the kind of exciting mid-generation shake-ups Microsoft needs to keep its brand on top in 2024.

Grade: B-

Nintendo

Super Smash Bros. Nintendo Switch OLED.
Nintendo

Usually, when we’re in a console’s final years, expectations are low. You might have assumed that most of Nintendo’s first-party studios would have moved on to developing games for the rumored Switch 2, leaving third parties to fill the year. That was far from the case; 2023 might have been the Switch’s best year ever. That was, of course, thanks to The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom and Super Mario Bros. Wonder, two must-own titles, but Nintendo didn’t stop there. Pikmin 4 and Fire Emblem Engage gave the console two more great strategy games, while surprise double dips like Super Mario RPG and Metroid Prime Remastered gave players plenty to play through the year.

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Bayonetta Origins, Advance Wars 1+2 Re-boot Camp, WarioWare Move It!, Kirby’s Return to Dream Land Deluxe, F-Zero 99, Xenoblade Chronicles 3‘s Future Redeemed DLC … I could keep going. While you could count PS5 and Xbox’s headlining exclusives on one hand, Nintendo delivered more in one year than most put out in three. It was a firm reminder of why Nintendo is still able to compete despite delivering underpowered hardware and dated online decisions: It has the games.

While that was more than enough to make Nintendo the publisher of the year, I’m left with one nitpick: Nintendo Switch Online. The service has become an increasingly important piece of the Switch’s overall value, delivering a catalog of classic Nintendo games from the NES through the Nintendo 64. Nintendo upped the ante this year by adding Game Boy and Game Boy Advance games to the service, but support for those additions dried up immediately. We only got a small handful of games from each this year and it was a similar dry spell for the other included systems. Instead, Nintendo seemed more keen to resell old games like Pikmin — something that’ll continue next year with several planned HD re-releases. It was one of those moments that reminded me of how often Nintendo struggles to modernize, botching what should be gaming’s best retro game service.

That’s a small gripe in the grand scheme of Nintendo’s strong 2023. While it didn’t deliver anything in the way of new hardware or accessory innovation, we got one heck of a send-off for the Nintendo Switch, as its successor may be right around the corner in 2024. You couldn’t ask for much more this late in a console’s lifespan.

Grade: A

Editors’ Recommendations






7 best movie performances of 2023 | Digital Trends

7 best movie performances of 2023 | Digital Trends

Searchlight Pictures

It’s been a banner year for movies. Putting aside the uncertainty and turmoil caused by the year’s Hollywood labor strikes, 2023 has delivered more great movies than any other year in recent memory. The same goes for the year’s screen performances — of which there have been so many that putting together a list like this feels like a bit of a foolhardy endeavor. After all, how can one talk about this year’s big-screen performances without mentioning Charles Melton’s heartbreaking, fragile turn in May December, Cailee Spaeny’s time-bending, quietly expressive lead performance in Priscilla, or Rachel McAdams’ spellbinding supporting work in Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret.

What about Teo Yoo and John Magaro’s dueling performances in Past Lives? They are so full of insecurity and yearning that they make the act of rooting for one over the other an impossible task. And that’s to say nothing of Adam Driver and Penelope Cruz’s colossal lead turns in Michael Mann’s Ferrari, without which the film would fizzle and fail. Suffice it to say, there were many worthy contenders left off this list. At the same time, it’s hard to think about 2023 without considering the actors and performances listed below.

Without any further ado, here are the year’s seven best movie performances.

Emma Stone in Poor Things

Emma Stone looks up in Poor Things.
Searchlight Pictures

Poor Things shouldn’t work. The Yorgos Lanthimos-directed film about a woman who is brought back to life with an infant’s brain is so odd and perverse that its tone should have eluded even someone as skilled as Lanthimos. But Poor Things has Emma Stone, whose lead performance as its central reborn woman, Bella Baxter, keeps it from coming apart at the seams at every turn.

There are so many aspects of Stone’s performance worth marveling at, whether it be the pointed yet gangly physicality she brings to Bella in the film’s first half or the way that the undying light of curiosity in her eyes never dims so much as it evolves from guileless to wise and perceptive. Like the film surrounding it, it is a performance comprised of risks, and Stone pulls off every one of them.

Paul Giamatti in The Holdovers

Paul Giamatti stands next to a Christmas tree in The Holdovers.
Focus Features

Like a few other films on this list, The Holdovers stands on the combined strength of its three central performances. That makes it difficult to single out just one of them. Nonetheless, as impressive as Da’Vine Joy Randolph and Dominic Sessa’s performances are in the Alexander Payne-directed dramedy, it’s Paul Giamatti’s turn as its cantankerous high school history teacher that constantly commands your attention. Giamatti is one of those rare American actors who is so reliably good that it’s become easy to take him for granted.

Part of the joy of watching The Holdovers is seeing how thoroughly he and Payne reveal the folly of that impulse. He’s a performer capable of tapping into seemingly endless reserves of physical comedy, as well as heart-shattering emotion. In The Holdovers, he balances and bounces between all of his character’s awkward shortcomings with the same effortlessness as Gene Kelly gliding from one step to the next. To watch him is to watch a master at work.

Lily Gladstone in Killers of the Flower Moon

Lily Gladstone sits among other onlookers in Killers of the Flower Moon.
Apple Original Films

Killers of the Flower Moon is such a remarkably clear-eyed look at the soullessness of American greed that it would have been easy for the film to turn into an emotionless exercise in historical reclamation. It doesn’t, though. The film is just as heartbreaking as it is horrifying, and that’s due almost entirely to the performance given by Lily Gladstone as Mollie Kyle, the wife of one of the very white men responsible for the heinous murders of her Osage family members.

Much has been said about how well the film does and doesn’t balance the perspectives of its white and Native characters, but repeat viewings of Killers of the Flower Moon reveal the importance and weight of Gladstone’s performance. There’s a stillness to her turn as Mollie that complements and underscores the film’s own meditative pace and a perceptiveness that cuts through the bluster of its real-life villains. Even as her character’s health fails and she’s relegated to a bed in a side room, Gladstone’s unwavering gaze is always felt — her eyes constantly searching for strength, peace, mercy, and ultimately the truth.

Sandra Hüller in Anatomy of a Fall

Sandra Hüller stands by a window in Anatomy of a Fall.
Neon

It’s impossible to overstate the magic of Sandra Hüller’s performance in Anatomy of a Fall. Playing a successful writer accused of murdering her husband, Hüller is magnetic and impenetrable, empathetic and cold. Writer-director Justine Triet places her at the center of a film that is, among other things, concerned with the subjectivity of truth and the world’s ceaselessly misogynistic treatment of powerful, accomplished women.

Across the film’s sizable 152-minute runtime, Hüller resists every easy instinct — refusing to portray her character as purely a victim or a monster. She is soft and yet hard-edged, expressive and yet indecipherable. Hers is a performance of contradictions — of dueling impulses and seemingly incongruous emotions — and what’s truly impressive about Hüller’s work in Anatomy of a Fall is how she creates a complete human being without ever giving you the keys necessary to unlock her fully. It’s about as close to a cinematic magic trick as you can get.

Jason Schwartzman in Asteroid City

Jason Schwartzman smiles in Asteroid City.
Focus Features

Jason Schwartzman has been a recurring figure in Wes Anderson’s filmography since his iconic turn as Max Fischer, the ultimate quirky teenager, in 1998’s Rushmore. However, in their latest collaboration together, this year’s Asteroid City, Anderson finally gives Schwartzman the chance to grow up. The film places Schwartzman at the center of its star-studded dollhouse and asks him to play two immensely difficult, perfectly Andersonian roles: a grieving, emotionally stunted father and an endlessly inquisitive, impulsive artist. To say that Schwartzman rises to the occasion would be an understatement.

In a film overflowing with note-perfect performances, his double-sided turn as Augie Steenbeck, war photographer, and Jones Hall, up-and-coming actor, makes the most lasting of marks. The actor’s work in Asteroid City is simultaneously confident and unsure, grounded and yet unmoored. He takes the film’s intellectual ideas about the power of art, science, and curiosity and transforms them into identifiable feelings. The film may be about the importance of getting lost, but by embodying the emotions lurking beneath the surface of Asteroid City’s story so deeply, it’s Schwartzman who keeps us and it from ever drifting too far away from the Earth.

Greta Lee in Past Lives

Greta Lee smiles in a car in Past Lives.
A24

Picking just one performance from writer-director Celine Song’s Past Lives is, to put it lightly, a difficult thing to do. As unforgettable as Teo Yoo and John Magaro’s performances are in the romantic drama, though, the film wouldn’t work without Greta Lee’s turn as Nora, the woman caught between her American husband and the South Korean man whom life has always kept her from. Whether she’s falling in love with Yoo’s Hae Sung over Skype or sitting uncomfortably in between him and Magaro’s Arthur, Lee always comes across as inquisitive but guarded, lovestruck but hesitant. Unlike Arthur and Hae Sung, Nora never gets the chance to articulate her feelings out loud, so it falls entirely on Lee’s shoulders to communicate the emotions clashing and storming inside of her. The actress does so without overplaying a single moment, and it’s impossible to look away whenever she’s onscreen.

Of all of the images and details that Past Lives has to offer, none ultimately stick around longer than the sound of Lee’s heartbroken gasp in its closing minutes and the knowing, faraway look she gives in its prologue, which haunts and hangs over the film as a human expression of all of its difficult, unrequited emotions.

Andrew Scott and Claire Foy in All of Us Strangers

Claire Foy and Andrew Scott look at each other in All of Us Strangers.
Searchlight Pictures

Call it a cheat if you want, but it feels insufficient to spotlight just one performance from a film that features four of the year’s best. Beyond that, it’s impossible to discuss Andrew Scott’s vulnerable, raw lead performance in director Andrew Haigh’s All of Us Strangers without also mentioning Claire Foy’s turn as his character’s long-dead mother, whom he is reunited with via a series of inexplicable ghostly encounters. Together, Scott and Foy perfectly embody their respective roles, and the film mines most of its considerable emotional power out of the prickly yet tender dynamic that the two actors establish between their mother and son characters.

This year hasn’t been lacking in emotional onscreen moments, but none match the few seconds in All of Us Strangers in which Foy’s mother discreetly sings several lines of the Pet Shop Boys’ Always On My Mind to Scott’s Adam. It’s an apology and an assurance, and there are worlds of emotion contained within Foy’s eyes as she tries to communicate the things she herself can’t verbalize — and just as many are present in Scott’s expression of recognition and understanding.

Editors’ Recommendations






Why Motorola could be the smartphone company to beat in 2024 | Digital Trends

Why Motorola could be the smartphone company to beat in 2024 | Digital Trends

Joe Maring / Digital Trends

2023 is just about one for the history books, and it was a big one for smartphones. Apple went all-in on titanium iPhones, Google had an incredible year for Pixel devices, and Android phones had a shockingly good year across the board.

As we wind down 2023 and start looking ahead to 2024, there’s one company, in particular, that I want to highlight. Plenty of folks are already getting excited about the Samsung Galaxy S24 and the iPhone 16, but if you ask me, Samsung and Apple aren’t the companies you should be paying close attention to in the new year. Instead, your eyes should be set and centered on Motorola.

Motorola has nailed flagship smartphones

The lock screen on the Motorola Edge Plus (2023).
Joe Maring / Digital Trends

Motorola got so much right this past year — and it all started with the Motorola Edge Plus (2023).  I reviewed the Edge Plus this past May, and all these months later, it remains one of my favorite phones of the year.

There’s not one single thing that made the Edge Plus stand out, but rather a culmination of Motorola getting so much right.

The 6.7-inch OLED display is vibrant, colorful, and a pure joy to look at. The Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 processor is still a performance champ, even a year after its release. The battery easily lasts for two days on a single charge, and the 68-watt wired charging means you can go from zero to 100% in about an hour. Hell, even the cameras — something Motorola has long struggled with — are solid. They’re not Google Pixel 8 Pro or Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra quality, but the Edge Plus’s camera system is still a wholeheartedly enjoyable one.

2023 gave us a lot of standout flagships, but the Motorola Edge Plus still stands out as one of the best ones. It’s one of the most complete smartphone packages you can buy today, not to mention the excellent $800 MSRP (which is often discounted as low as $600). I’ve waited years and years for a proper return to form for a flagship Motorola phone, and that’s precisely what we got with the Edge Plus in 2023.

Its mid-tier options are getting better, too

The back of the Motorola Edge (2023).
Joe Maring / Digital Trends

And it wasn’t just top-of-the-line flagships where Motorola succeeded this year. The company also impressed with its more budget-minded offerings — specifically with the Motorola Edge (2023).

I reviewed the Edge (2023) right around the time I was testing the Google Pixel 8, and it was remarkable just how easy it was to go back and forth between the two phones. As a $600 smartphone (which can now be bought for as little as $350), the Motorola Edge exceeded a lot of my expectations this year.

The Edge isn’t quite as well-rounded as its Edge Plus sibling, but as a decidedly mid-tier handset, it’s a very good package. I really like Motorola’s decision to use leather on the back and around the camera housing, which is grippier than glass and more premium-feeling than plastic. You also still get a very good OLED display with a 144Hz refresh rate, the MediaTek Dimensity 7030 processor is surprisingly capable, and you don’t have to sacrifice battery life or fast charging speeds.

There are some drawbacks, obviously. Motorola promises just one major software update from Android 13 to Android 14, and the cameras aren’t anything to write home about. But the overall package is a strong one, and I think it’s one of Motorola’s better mid-range offerings in a while.

The flip-phone foldable champ

The Motorola Razr Plus, half folded with its cover screen on.
Joe Maring / Digital Trends

Even while doing so well with “regular” smartphones in 2023, Motorola still found time to crank out multiple folding phones — and two of the most important ones of the year, at that.

The first foldable release from Motorola in 2023, the Motorola Razr Plus, was everything I’d been waiting for in a flip-phone type of foldable. Fun, unique design? Check. A large cover screen that runs fully-fledged Android apps? Check. Water and dust resistance? Fast performance? Great software? Check, check, and check.

Motorola has been dabbling with folding phones since late 2019, and the Razr Plus felt like what the company has been working toward for so many years. It’s one of the most enjoyable phones I’ve used in 2023, and even with more technically impressive competitors like the Galaxy Z Flip 5 now out, the Razr Plus still holds a special place in my heart.

A person opening the Motorola Razr 40.
Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

Finally, it’d be a disservice not to talk about the regular Motorola Razr (2023).

On paper, the Razr (2023) doesn’t seem like anything special. Compared to the Razr Plus, it has a lower-specced main display, a slower processor, worse cameras, and a much smaller cover display. It’s an inferior phone in almost every regard, so why mention it at all?

The price.

The Motorola Razr (2023) has a retail price of $700, and depending on when you buy it, you can pick it up for as little as $500. In late 2023, you can spend just $500 for a brand new folding phone. That was completely unheard of just a year ago, but Motorola made that a very true reality this year — and it’s still a bit hard to believe.

High prices have long been one of the main deterrents for foldables. Samsung’s Galaxy Z Flip and Z Fold families are great, but with prices ranging anywhere from $1,000 to $1,800, they’re far from affordable. The Razr (2023) is the first folding phone that feels like it’s actually obtainable for a large group of people, and even without the best specs in the world, that’s nothing short of amazing.

What will Moto do in 2024?

White Motorola logo against a wooden background.
Joe Maring / Digital Trends

Was 2023 a perfect year for Motorola? Not quite. The company still has room to improve its software update policy. Motorola’s Moto G line has also become unnecessarily confusing, and resulted in some less-than-stellar releases from Motorola this year.

But even with those quirks left to iron out, I can’t help but look back at 2023 as one of the strongest for Motorola in years. And because of that, I’m excited thinking about where Moto goes in 2024.

With the Edge Plus nearly perfected this year, imagine how good a successor next year could be. Motorola proved the standard Edge can be a very competent mid-ranger, and it has clear — but manageable — ways to improve it in the new year. And with the Razr and Razr Plus making such strong showings in 2023, the prospect of 2024 successors to them is beyond exciting.

Leaks and rumors about Motorola’s 2024 product roadmap have remained quiet so far, but if the company follows a similar pattern to what we saw this year, it’s safe to say we’ll be in for another spectacular year. And I can’t wait.

Editors’ Recommendations






10 best sci-fi movies of 2023, ranked | Digital Trends

10 best sci-fi movies of 2023, ranked | Digital Trends

Fox Searchlight

2024 is right around the corner, so we only have a few more days to celebrate the highs and lows of 2023’s film slate. Fortunately, this year has given movie fans plenty to talk about. Over the past 12 months, viewers have gotten more memorable films than they have from any other year since 2019. That’s particularly true for the year’s feature-length sci-fi offerings, ranging from broadly appealing to shockingly experimental.

In recent weeks, we’ve honored this year’s best comedies, thrillers, and TV shows. Now, it’s time to look back and remember the 10 best sci-fi movies of 2023, including several underrated gems that most moviegoers may have missed when they were originally released.

10. Linoleum

Jim Gaffigan wears a space suit while standing next to Rhea Seehorn in Linoleum.
Courtesy of Shout! Studios

Quietly released in February, Linoleum is a delicate, layered sci-fi gem. Written and directed by Colin West and starring Jim Gaffigan and Rhea Seehorn, it’s an ambitious, low-budget drama with a lot of ideas on its mind, most of which aren’t revealed until the film’s gently heartbreaking final minutes.

For most of its runtime, Linoleum seems like nothing more than a quirky but straightforward film about the host of a children’s science show trying to build the rocket of his dreams. There’s real depth lingering beneath the surface of Linoleum’s story, though, and the film is worth seeking out solely to experience how patiently it unveils the hurt, empathetic heart beating at the center of it.

9. Totally Killer

Kiernan Shipka crouches with a bat in Totally Killer.
Prime Video

A Back to the Future-esque riff on a traditional slasher thriller, Totally Killer is an offbeat, absurdly fun film about a young girl who ends up trapped in the 1980s and forced to save her mom’s teenage self from a masked killer. Like all great time travel movies, the Amazon Prime Video original film is straightforward yet subversive, ridiculous yet relatable.

Anchored by Kiernan Shipka’s immensely likable, spirited lead performance, it’s a film that has been welcomed with open arms by horror fans but has nonetheless emerged as one of 2023’s most underrated sci-fi offerings. Hopefully, that’ll change in the years to come.

8. They Cloned Tyrone

Three people aim their guns in They Cloned Tyrone.
Netflix

Not many sci-fi movies were released this year that felt as visually, stylistically, and narratively distinct as They Cloned Tyrone. The Netflix original film, which premiered on the streaming service in late July, is partly a genre-bending sci-fi comedy and partly a heartfelt love letter to the Blaxploitation films of the 1970s. On top of all of that, it’s also a conspiracy thriller with quite a lot to say, and it says it with more attitude and style than most of 2023’s other sci-fi titles.

The film has had a passionate fanbase ever since it was released this past summer, but don’t be surprised if the love for They Cloned Tyrone only continues to grow moving forward. It’s the kind of movie that seems designed to sneak its way onto many viewers’ lists of favorite sci-fi films, which is about as high a compliment as one can give it.

7. Infinity Pool

Two masked characters sit in a car together in Infinity Pool.
NEON

Writer-director Brandon Cronenberg chose to follow up his visceral 2020 feature debut, Possessor, with one of the year’s most acidic and unforgettable sci-fi thrillers. Set in an alternate reality where the world’s richest people get to pass off the punishments for their crimes onto their own, ready-to-use clones, Infinity Pool is a cynical takedown of the bourgeoisie, a haunting sci-fi fable, and a disorienting thriller.

Featuring two unforgettable, unhinged performances from Mia Goth and Alexander Skarsgård, Infinity Pool firmly cemented Cronenberg as one of the world’s most exciting and distinct new filmmakers when it was released in January. Its spell has proven difficult to shake off nearly a year later.

6. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem

Leonardo stands in front of his brothers in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem.
Paramount Pictures

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem takes the inherent sci-fi elements of its franchise as far as it possibly can. The Jeff Rowe-directed animated film features more gloriously well-designed mutated creatures and characters than it knows what to do with, and it climaxes with a kaiju battle that perfectly rides the line between absurd and horrifying.

The movie makes hanging out with its four eponymous leads seem more appealing than any of the TMNT films that have come before it. When it was released in early August, it seemed destined to rank as one of 2023’s most endearing blockbusters. Now that the year is winding down, it seems safe to say that Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem has firmly held onto that title.

5. No One Will Save You

Kaitlyn Dever looks forward nervously in No One Will Save You.
20th Century Studios

No One Will Save You is one of the year’s simplest and most effective thrillers. Written and directed by Brian Duffield, it follows a young woman as she’s forced to fight for her life during an alien invasion. Despite being ostracized by the other citizens of her small town, she proves to be uniquely difficult for her alien attackers to defeat. The harder she fights for her existence, however, the more insight both viewers and her extra-terrestrial enemies get into the past traumas that have defined her life.

Anchored by yet another formidable lead performance from Kaitlyn Dever, No One Will Save You is simultaneously a nail-biting thriller that’ll have you on the edge of your seat for the majority of its runtime and an introspective exploration of the lasting effects of guilt and the importance of forgiveness — no matter who or where it comes from.

4. Godzilla Minus One

Godzilla roars in Godzilla Minus One.
Toho

A visually breathtaking blockbuster of truly remarkable proportions, director Takashi Yamazaki’s Godzilla Minus One makes the forgettable nature of many of America’s kaiju films seem much less forgivable. Across its 125-minute runtime, the Toho-produced Japanese film manages to introduce and pay off human storylines that actually work, all while delivering enough incredible set pieces to justify the massive scale of its story.

In other words, the film pulls off many of the things that Hollywood viewers had previously been forced to accept as impossible. It’s not only one of 2023’s biggest last-minute surprises but also one of the year’s very best sci-fi films.

3. Asteroid City

Bryan Cranston stands in front of a city set in Asteroid City.
Focus Features

Wes Anderson’s latest feature directorial effort is a lot of things: A quarantine comedy, a love letter to the theater, and a heartbreaking exploration of grief. There’s so much going on in Asteroid City, in fact, that it’d be easy to forget that its plot pivots entirely around the sudden appearance of alien life on Earth. The film’s brief UFO sequences aren’t superfluous instances of sci-fi invention, though. They’re just as important to Asteroid City as anything else in the film.

Like so many of the great sci-fi stories and movies that have come before it, Asteroid City is about coming face-to-face with the vast unknowability of the universe and trying to find one’s place in the grand, cosmic wilderness. It’s a beautiful addition to the sci-fi genre, one that’s brimming with impeccable retro-futuristic design choices and details, as well as enough moments of profound emotional and intellectual insight to keep you coming back to it again and again and again.

2. Poor Things

Emma Stone wears a yellow parka in Poor Things.
Searchlight Pictures

Poor Things is a visually stunning, decidedly feminist riff on Frankenstein. Directed by Yorgos Lanthimos, the acclaimed comedy follows Bella Baxter (Emma Stone), a recently dead woman with the brain of a child who sets out on a path of self-discovery the likes of which moviegoers have never quite seen before. The film’s surreal, Victorian-era European world is so striking and appealing that, were it not for Stone’s audacious lead performance, Poor Things’ sci-fi elements might have gotten lost somewhere in its first act.

Stone’s determined, uninhibited turn as Bella is so commanding, though, that you never forget the fact that you’re watching a woman grow under the most strange of sci-fi circumstances. That’s just one of the reasons why Poor Things works as well as it does. The film balances so many different elements so effortlessly that it makes many of this year’s other movies look simple and lazy by comparison.

1. Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse

Miles Morales falls through a multiverse portal in Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse.
Sony Pictures Animation

No other movie this year packs in quite as many sci-fi thrills as Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse. The film, which also ranks as 2023’s best superhero movie, is an awe-inspiring adventure that somehow manages to make the otherwise increasingly stale idea of the multiverse still seem exciting. It does so by taking full advantage of the opportunities presented by its multiple realities — throwing viewers headfirst into universes that look, move, and feel completely different from each other.

The film is one of the most gobsmackingly beautiful, technically impressive feature-length animated movies ever made, and seeing how well it uses its medium to tell its purposefully complex, high-concept sci-fi story is just one of the many pleasures that Across the Spider-Verse has to offer.

Editors’ Recommendations






There’s one thing I want tablets to change in 2024 | Digital Trends

There’s one thing I want tablets to change in 2024 | Digital Trends

Joe Maring / Digital Trends

Tablets made a comeback during the pandemic, which saw an increase in content consumption and work from home. As a result, several phone manufacturers entered the race to launch tablets. For Google, it was a re-entry, while for OnePlus, it was the start of a new product line. I’ve had the privilege to use and write about these — as well as other Android tablets, including the Xiaomi Pad 6, Realme Pad, and iPads — and there’s one thing about tablet design that I’d like to change.

After years of using and reviewing so many tablets, only a few have stood out. One was the Microsoft Surface Pro series, and the other was the Lenovo Yoga Smart Tab. Both of these featured a built-in kickstand, which I believe is an integral part of using a tablet — and something every tablet should adopt in 2024.

All tablets need a built-in kickstand

In my experience, a tablet has two major use cases. First, you use it as a content consumption device, which includes watching movies/TV shows and reading. Second, you need a bigger screen than your phone but a smaller one than your laptop to get some work done on the go, which includes attending online meetings, editing documents, and more. Ideally, you should have a keyboard case for the latter, but you likely don’t need to buy a keyboard case when it comes to entertainment.

If you are buying a tablet for media consumption, you’d want to place it in a horizontal orientation. For this, you’d either need an external object like a jug or water bottle (don’t judge me, I want to watch videos while eating) to place your tablet on. Alternatively, you can buy a folio case. The latter should be the ideal scenario; however, a folio case isn’t the best way to mount a tablet for movies because it’s set at a single angle, which can’t be adjusted.

I want my tech to adjust to me, not vice versa. But with tablets, I adjust to them, so I can get a viable experience. It’s me adjusting my seating angles while in bed so I can see the display at a comfortable angle. And that’s where I miss having a Microsoft Surface Pro.

The Surface Pro 9 with the Type Cover keyboard lifted up.
Microsoft Surface Pro 9 Digital Trends

Before I shifted to the Apple ecosystem in 2020, I used to daily-drive the Surface Pro 5. It’s a slim 2-in-1 that used to be my work machine as well as my media consumption device. The latter was made possible by the solid kickstand, which could go from almost 30 degrees to up to 150 degrees.

I want my tech to adjust to me, not the other way around.

The kickstand allowed me to be flexible with the angle on my Surface Pro. For instance, on cozy winter nights with my half-sitting-half-lying body, I had it on my tummy at around 40 degrees, whereas it’d be approximately 60 to 70 degrees on my lap when sitting. This can’t be done with folio cases or, in many instances, with keyboard cases.

The Android tablets that we’ve been getting lately lack design innovation. It’s unlikely that Apple will change the design of iPads, but Android tablet manufacturers have experimented in the past. The last time I used a kickstand on a non-Surface Pro tablet was the Lenovo Tab Yoga, which was abandoned long ago. If I’m buying a tablet for media consumption, I’d like for it to have a built-in kickstand to let me have it in a watchable position without needing an external accessory. I like Google Pixel Tablet‘s case which allows you to pop up the tablet easily. but it isn’t the ideal solution.

Android tablets are perfect for this

Holding the OnePlus Pad Go.
Holding the OnePlus Pad Go Prakhar Khanna / Digital Trends

Considering my recent experiences with the OnePlus Pad, and how Android interacts with keyboard cases, almost all Android tablets come under the first use case of media consumption. I can’t hold my tablet for two hours straight while watching a movie. I shouldn’t be looking for things to keep my tablet on for support while taking a call or having it in an awkward position and then adjusting to it while watching a movie. All Android tablets should come with a built-in kickstand of some sort.

I’m not asking Android tablet makers to copy the Surface Pro design but to stop playing it safe. Lenovo has shown us in the past that it can be done. I shouldn’t have to buy an accessory (which also doesn’t solve the issue) for a primary use case.

For 2024, I wish to see a design revolution in Android tablets — a design revolution in which every Android tablet has its own built-in kickstand. It may be far-fetched and wishful thinking, but we’d be better off if it happened.

Editors’ Recommendations






OLED was the hero of PC gaming this year | Digital Trends

OLED was the hero of PC gaming this year | Digital Trends

It’s been hard to avoid OLED among the best gaming monitors this year. What started as a trickle of OLED late last year turned into a flood of OLED this year, with every major monitor brand jumping in on the OLED hype. And now that we’re closing out the year, I can see why.

OLED has made playing PC games so much better this year. We finally have great HDR on PC, super low response times, and panel tech, making the monstrous monitors we’ve grown to love much more practical.

HDR that works

Jacob Roach / Digital Trends

Mid-way through last year, I wrote about the sad, misleading state of HDR for PC gaming. We’ve had HDR on Windows for years, but the state of the tech, especially in games, has been laughable at best. There are still some bugs with HDR in Windows today, but poor HDR on PC mostly came down to monitors in years past. OLED changed that in 2023.

We saw the first OLED gaming monitors last year, but there was an explosion of them this year. We finally saw standard 27-inch displays like the LG UltraGear OLED 27, along with evolved forms of exotic form factors like the Samsung Odyssey OLED G8.

OLED is the perfect answer to the HDR problem in PC gaming. OLED uses individual self-emitting diodes, so each pixel can control its own brightness, including turning completely off. It allows OLED monitors to achieve a theoretically infinite contrast ratio — anything compared to pure black is infinite contrast.

An HDR demon running on the Samsung Odyssey OLED G8.
Jacob Roach / Digital Trends

That’s what gaming monitors have lacked for so long, and that contrast is exactly what makes HDR tick. With LCD monitors, the best hope for good HDR was to blast a backlight so bright that it was enough to overcome whatever ambient black levels the monitor could hit. With OLED, the brightness takes a back seat. You don’t need to blast the monitor at 1,000 nits to achieve the contrast required for HDR.

Outside of the brightness battle, OLED displays also have a wide color gamut. That’s essential for HDR, and it’s something you don’t need to think about on an OLED screen. LCD panels, even color-accurate ones, may not have an extended color range, adding disappointing color reproduction and tone mapping on top of poor contrast.

Super speed

Overwatch 2 running on the LG OLED 27 gaming monitor.
Jacob Roach / Digital Trends

The unsung advantage of OLED is that it’s fast — really fast. That comes back to the organic material OLED uses. Each diode controls its own light, so it can transition from being on to off almost instantly and transition between colors much faster than LCD displays. That makes OLED feel much more responsive in games.

More importantly, it makes the image much clearer. We’re in an era of very high refresh rates on gaming monitors, and OLED can handle the heat as the refresh rate increases. Displays like the Alienware 500Hz gaming monitor challenge the typical response time of LCDs, and even OLED monitors we saw this year, like the Asus ROG Swift PG27AQDM, come with a blistering 240Hz refresh rate. Faster response times are important as the refresh rate climbs.

That’s due to how response time interacts with refresh rate. Your monitor refreshes on a fixed cycle — if it’s 60Hz, you’ll get a new image every 16.6ms. At 240Hz, it’s every 4.2ms. Your response time needs to be less than the time it takes to refresh the screen. If it’s not, you’ll see a smear on your screen, with the monitor refreshing while some pixels are transitioning from one color to a different one.

As refresh rates climb, faster response times become more important.

Most gaming monitors advertise a response time of 1ms, but that number isn’t exactly accurate. Response times, particularly when transitioning between colors, are much higher. It’s hard to nail down one single response time number, as different colors and brightness levels can vastly impact how fast the response time really is.

Regardless, faster response times become more important as the refresh rate climbs. And OLED, even if it shows smearing in some cases, is much faster than LCD. You’re not only getting great responsiveness when playing games due to a high refresh rate but also great motion clarity with the response time, minimizing blurring and smearing in a way LCDs just can’t manage.

Taking different forms

The corner of the Samsung Odyssey OLED G9's display.
Jacob Roach / Digital Trends

HDR and fast response times are one thing, but OLED is a lot more practical for PC gaming, too. OLED panels are super thin. They don’t need a backlight, allowing the actual panel to be much smaller than a traditional LCD arrangement.

That’s a huge advantage, which became clear while writing my Samsung Odyssey OLED G9 review. That monitor measures 49 inches diagonally and comes with a 32:9 aspect ratio. It’s huge. However, the OLED version is much thinner than its predecessor, with a thin metal back and a subtle curve. The previous version had a chunky plastic back and an aggressive 1000R curve, making it feel even bigger than it already was.

The Steam Deck OLED on a pink background.
Jacob Roach / Digital Trends

OLED has also offered brighter, larger, faster screens to handhelds, particularly in the Steam Deck. The Steam Deck OLED is a massive upgrade over the original, and that’s due in no small part to the screen. It makes HDR possible in a handheld form factor for the first time, with higher brightness and better colors.

We’re only starting to see how OLED can enhance the form factor of PC gaming. Thinner monitors are one thing, but OLED really shines when it’s applied in places like the Steam Deck OLED or Odyssey OLED G9.

OLED in 2024

God of War running on the LG UltraGear OLED 45.
Jacob Roach / Digital Trends

For PC gaming, OLED is just getting started. We already know about some exciting gaming monitors coming out next year, including LG’s 480Hz OLED gaming display, and there will likely be many more.

With refresh rates climbing, new form factors for PC gaming, and better HDR than we’ve ever seen on PC, it’s an exciting time to be a PC gamer. If there’s anything I’m looking forward to in OLED displays next year, it’s newer models pushing down the price of displays we already have, making it so everyone can enjoy what the display tech has to offer.

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