This week on The Wrap, we’ll explore what makes mid-range phones all about the value, and review Moto’s G8 for you. Plus we’ll talk about laptops, headphones, and Sony’s next console, the PlayStation 5. All that in five.
For the week ending June 19, you’re listening to The Wrap, Australia’s fastest technology roundup, and there’s change in the air. Change if you’re getting a little tired of both your phone and your video game system. We all have one of the former, and many of us have the latter, and there’s change for both on the horizon.
Phones seem to change more often than any other category, and we tend to spend a pretty sizeable chunk of change on them, but you might not need to.
While the highest price points of between a thousand and three are where all the amazing phones each year typically are, amazing can mean more than one thing. Amazing might mean amazing value, and there’s quite a bit happening in that world lately.
We are, of course, talking about the mid-range, a part of the market that basically positions phones at between $300 and a thousand. It might seem broad, but these days when you’re shopping for a phone, this area is a big deal, because not only are you spending less, we’re seeing the technology trickle down from the high-end, making phones more affordable for everyone.
What you can find in this category is interesting. A few years ago, buying a phone for cheap often meant enough for your dollar, but that was about it. These days, the mid-range may well be the place to be.
We took a look at 2020’s mid-range phones this week, and looking at Oppo, Realme, Motorola, Alcatel, LG, and Samsung, there’s a pretty clear trend towards the big things, with a big number of cameras, big screens, and a big battery.
In the camera department, you can usually expect one big standard camera accompanied by much smaller really specific cameras, usually for ultra-wide shots, macros, and portraiture, while big screens measuring 6 inches and higher are fairly common. And you get a big battery to last you all day plus a decent amount into the second day, too.
And this year, you even get Near-Field Communication, which means mobile payment support.
There are one camera options in Apple’s excellent iPhone SE, not to mention Google’s Pixel 3a which is due for a replacement in the yet to be announced Pixel 4a, and these are premium phones that basically sit as great mid-range phones bordering on flagship.
They add to the mid-range, though, and alongside the other great options, make this category really, truly compelling. We’re talking big value in the mid-range, with prices that feel more like regular phone cost, and don’t hit into laptop territory too easily.
The worst part about phones is easily the price, and the feeling that you could get so much more for your dollar, which is what mid-range is meant to solve.
The sheer availability of choices also means it’s harder to get a dud, though we’ll always tell you to check reviews.
Like this week, we checked out the Moto G8, Motorola’s $329 mid-range phone sporting a large screen, large battery, and a relatively large really neat three camera solution, complete with a cute little macro camera, though the megapixel amount isn’t enough to matter.
The Moto G8 is Motorola’s latest attempt at the mid-range, and it’s a nice feeling phone with a 6.3 inch screen, a relatively capable battery life hitting close to two full days, and a quite clean version of Android.
It’s a nice phone, but not an amazing phone, and it misses something we think the mid-range needs this year: NFC. There are no mobile payments on the Moto G8, which is a weird omission, given competitors are supporting it.
At a little over $300, we think Moto could have done better, and given what’s coming out from Alcatel, Oppo, and Realme, would suggest having a look around.
Having a look around in other categories will get you a few other things, too.
For instance, Grado has hemp-infused headphones in a special edition release, while Lifeproof has released recycled ocean plastic in the form of smartphone cases.
Razer also has an super pricey portable workstation in the Blade Studio Edition, and ahead of its Worldwide Developers Conference next week, Apple has updated the 16 inch MacBook Pro to support even more capable graphics, ideal for animators and game developers.
That’s good news for folks making games for next gen consoles, because there are two on the horizon, the Xbox Series X and the PlayStation 5.
Both are on the way to stores for the holiday season, and while we’ve not yet seen the games for the new Xbox, this week, Sony gave a glimpse to what you can expect from the PS5.
There’ll be two versions of the PlayStation 5 — with or without a Blu-ray drive — and they’ll be powerful, rocking faster new hardware and some very capable graphics for the next generation of gaming.
Both will play nicely with 4K TVs, and you can expect them to largely represent what gaming looks like from here on in, some 26 years after the first PlayStation arrived.
Of course there are new accessories aplenty and a new controller, but there are no prices as of yet. We don’t expect the Playstation 5 will be cheap, so you might want to start saving right about now.
For now, you’ve been listening to The Wrap, Australia’s fastest technology roundup. The Wrap goes online every Friday at Podcast One, Spotify, and Apple Podcasts, and will be back next week for more tech in five. Until then, have a great week. Stay safe, stay sane, and take care.