Pixel 2 portrait mode: how does it compare to other phones?

The Google Pixel 2 is well known for its great camera; a great camera made even better by machine learning and algorithmic processing. Whenever a picture is taken, Google’s massive stash of photo data helps it figure out the most pleasing way to process the picture. This results in some really sharp images with plenty of contrast and accurate colors (despite skewing toward more saturated skin tones). The front-facing camera gets this treatment as well, which is a big deal for users who love taking selfies. With that in mind, we decided to put it up against some of the other big names in the Android space: the Galaxy Note 8, LG V30, OnePlus 5T, and the more recent Honor View 10. Let’s see how they all stack up!

We started off with some traditional photos, and put the Pixel 2 up against the LG V30 and the OnePlus 5T. The Google Pixel 2 yielded sharper photos than the other two, but you’ll immediately notice just how weakly the LG V30 performed. The front facing camera of the V30 remains one of the main pain points in an otherwise well-regarded experience. Its 5 MP sensor creates soft images that lack detail, putting it firmly behind the higher-powered 13 MP sensor on the OnePlus 5T and the 8 MP sensor on the Pixel 2.

The OnePlus 5T’s camera doesn’t fall too far behind the Pixel 2, even though it packs more megapixels. Our main issue with the OnePlus 5T’s selfie camera is the lack of portrait mode, but the color reproduction on the sensor is also sub-par. However, as we mentioned before, the Pixel 2’s algorithm favors more saturated skin tones. If you prefer your saturation dialed back, the Pixel 2 might be a bit too much for you. You can pull these colors back manually with some editing, but pulling back too far yields results like the 5T. The Pixel 2’s portrait mode does a good job of separating the subject from the background, but there are times when the separation might be too harsh or just plain incorrect. The rear camera of the OnePlus 5T has a portrait mode as well, and it suffers the same issues, occasionally chopping off bits of hair or blurring missing assets in the background.

See the Review

Then there’s beauty mode, which the Pixel 2 dials back compared to its competition. In the Pixel 2, beauty mode is called “Face Retouching,” and it doesn’t allow for much customization. For most users (especially in the West) this is probably preferable, and Google’s machine learning makes sure not to go too far on the adjustments.

The OnePlus 5T’s beauty mode is also basically just a toggle — there is a single slider for changing the level of the effect, but no fine controls. Keeping the OnePlus 5T at a normal level brought a similar effect to the Pixel 2. Certain marks on the face were removed and other parts were adjusted without making the subject look like a wax figure. If you want more control over the front facing camera beauty mode, sometimes you have to look farther East. Enter the Honor View 10.

See also

The beauty mode on the Honor View 10 can be used while recording video, generating softer skin, much softer details all around, lighter skin tones, and other rather wild additions like larger eyes and thinner jawlines. The front facing camera of the Honor View 10 is a powerful 13 MP shooter, but even with all of these modes off it still skews toward softer results. Soft backgrounds are also achieved with the “bokeh background” setting enabled, though an aperture of f/2.0 will already achieve that kind of look. Going for any more than that will make subject cutout a little inconsistent.

Whether or not the beauty mode is a problem for you is a personal matter. Everyone is different, but markets in Asia favor these kinds of enhancements. The results can get pretty extreme; soft photos already leave out a lot of detail, but bumping up the settings made my photos no longer show my freckles (and I have many). My eyes were almost comically wide. My jaw line was greatly diminished. I looked like a thinner version of myself with almost Barbie-like features. Again, this is not necessarily a bad thing, but I felt the same as I’m sure many in the West will: it’s pretty extreme.

The Honor View 10 and the Samsung Galaxy Note 8 are fairly similar in this fashion, Turning up the settings to max can make the subject look drastically different. The Note 8 is not quite as egregious with its adjustments, but one feature stands out: “Spotlight.” As the front facing camera detects a face in its frame, the camera software can then add a kind of artificial light to the subject, brightening the face for a better portrait in otherwise dark situations. This sounds like a pretty great feature to have, but it sometimes felt out of place. Live focus is also available for soft depth-of-field backgrounds, but the separation can be hit-or-miss, just like the Pixel.

One aspect to the Galaxy Note 8 to which I will always tip my hat is its video capability. No, you can’t use the beauty mode while recording selfie video, but Quad HD video can yield some good footage, especially when downscaled to 1080p. This is a feature pretty much no other smartphone has, and Samsung has done well to keep it in the front-facing camera for a couple of generations now.

See the Review

Overall, the main consensus is that the Pixel 2 does a great job with its front facing camera, even if the bulk of the results are heavily processed by software. Google’s algorithms are hard at work ensuring the processing is where it should be, and the results are generally regarded as best in class. Some may think the Pixel 2’s results are over-processed, but overall it’s arguably still a step ahead of the competition for a good selfie. If anything, these results will likely make other manufacturers pay more attention to their front facing cameras can do, and hopefully force them to replicate the same kinds of positive results through hardware or software adjustments.

Let us know what you think about all of these selfies (we took a lot) and what phone you use for your self-portrait!

Galaxy S9+ vs Galaxy Note 8: What We Know So Far

Galaxy S9+ vs Galaxy Note 8: What We Know So Far is a post by Cory Gunther from Gotta Be Mobile.

The Samsung Galaxy S9 release date is only a few weeks away and that means buyers have a tough choice to make. Buy the impressive Galaxy Note 8 now, or wait for Samsung’s next phone. For those debating it, here’s what we know about the Galaxy S9+ and how it compares to the Galaxy Note 8.

Countless leaks and rumors suggest the new Galaxy S9 and bigger S9+ will look just like Samsung’s phones from 2017. And while the design will be similar, they’ll still have important changes throughout. Most notably, a powerful dual camera system on the bigger Galaxy S9+.

Read: Why You Shouldn’t Buy the Galaxy S8 Right Now

Yes, we’re expecting the same 5.8 and 6.2-inch curved Quad HD screens as we received last year. However, Samsung is making changes to the camera, fingerprint sensor, face unlock features and a few other things. Changes that make the Galaxy S9 and S9+ worth waiting for.

Is this the Galaxy S9+?

Last year Samsung released the Galaxy S8 and the Galaxy S8+, then an even bigger Galaxy Note 8. They all have big curved screens with small bezels, a sleek design, powerful cameras, and basically the same features throughout. One big difference is the Galaxy Note 8 has two cameras on the back, not just one.

However, we’re hearing the new Galaxy S9+ will get a similar dual camera setup. That said, only the bigger 6.2-inch S9+ will get them, while the smaller regular Galaxy S9 only has a single camera. Meaning potential buyers are getting more than just a bigger screen in 2018.

What this means though, is the decision between the Note 8 and S9+ is even more difficult. That’s because they’ll both have big screens, fast performance, and great cameras. There are a few reasons to choose one and even more reasons to choose the other. For those trying to decide, we’re here to help.

And while we don’t know everything quite yet, all signs are pointing to small but meaningful changes with the Galaxy S9 series. So, if you’re coming from a Galaxy S6 or S7 and debating which new Galaxy to buy, read through our slideshow below to help you decide.

Galaxy S9+ vs Galaxy Note 8: Design & Display

Galaxy S9+ vs Galaxy Note 8: Design & Display

First things first, we need to talk about the design. That's because these new phones coming in a few weeks will look nearly identical to the Galaxy S8 from last year. Well, at least from the front. 

There will, however, be two very noticeable differences on the back of the phones. Samsung finally moved the fingerprint scanner to the middle of the phone, under the camera. Instead of placing it off to the side, which was out of place and a far stretch. Then, the Galaxy S9+ will have two cameras on the back, instead of just one. 

The Galaxy Note 8 is a big phone, and reaching that fingerprint scanner isn't very easy. With the new Galaxy S9+ it will be a lot closer, in the middle, under the cameras, and easy to reach. 

Here's what you need to know though. The Galaxy Note 8 has the biggest screen, coming in at 6.3-inches. And while that's nice, the Galaxy S9+ is still 6.2-inches, so you'll barely notice the difference. Only you're getting a newer phone.

Additionally, the black bezels around the screen (on the top and bottom) will be slightly smaller on the Galaxy S9+ too. Meaning the phone will be physically smaller all while having almost the exact same size screen. That aside, both of these phones have huge screens, water-resistance, wireless charging, 3.5mm headphone jacks, expandable storage, and dual cameras. 

Galaxy S9+ vs Galaxy Note 8: What We Know So Far is a post by Cory Gunther from Gotta Be Mobile.

How to Change the Galaxy Note 8 Keyboard

How to Change the Galaxy Note 8 Keyboard is a post by Cory Gunther from Gotta Be Mobile.

In this quick guide we’ll show you how to change the keyboard on the Samsung Galaxy Note 8. Whether that’s because you’re experiencing Galaxy Note 8 keyboard problems. Or, because you’d like to try something else with more customization and features.

In fact, there are multiple reasons some choose to change the keyboard. It could be to get the latest emoji characters, to get new keyboard colors, or because you’re dealing with autocorrect issues. And while Samsung’s stock keyboard is decent, others are faster, better, and even have themes and gesture typing.

Read: 40 Galaxy Note 8 Tips & Tricks You Must Try

One of the best parts of Android is customization. We can change everything, like the keyboard, in just a few seconds in the settings menu. With that in mind start by following our instructional video below. Otherwise, keep reading for a more detailed set of instructions and screenshots of what settings you need to change. Our video is on the Galaxy S8, but the Note 8 follows the exact same steps.

New keyboards let you change the size of the keys, add a background image, themes, or send GIFs right from the keyboard. Some replacement keyboards for Android even have the power of Google search available 24/7, just a tap away. Additionally, others improve your entire typing style in order to let you type faster, or make fewer mistakes.

Read: Best Keyboards for Android Phones (2018)

How to Change the Galaxy Note 8 Keyboard

To start, the first thing you need is a new keyboard from the Google Play Store. Grab a new keyboard from our roundup, then continue to the steps below. We recommend GBoard, Swype, or Swiftkey, to name a few.

 
  • Pull down the notification bar and hit the gear-shaped settings button
  • Scroll down and select General Management
  • Next, choose Language & input
  • From here select On-screen keyboard
  • and tap Manage Keyboards
  • Now turn on the keyboard you want, and turn off Samsung’s keyboard

  • Next, hit back once and tap on Default Keyboard (second option)
  • Select Gboard, or your keyboard of choice

Now you’re all set and can continue using your new keyboard. We chose Google’s popular GBoard, as it’s one of the best replacements for Android phones and tablets. Google offers tons of themes, button colors, background images for your keyboard and more.

Additionally, try something like SwiftKey, which lets you change how tall the keyboard is to match your personal typing style or finger size. Again, there are several keyboards on the Play Store, so choose the one you’ll enjoy and give it a try today. Before you go, take a peek at these tips for the Galaxy Note 8 Android Oreo update, or get a screen protector from our slideshow below.

10 Best Galaxy Note 8 Screen Protectors

Spigen NeoFlex 2-Pack

Spigen NeoFlex 2-Pack

Spigen was one of the first companies to offer durable tempered glass screen protectors. However, what we're recommending today isn't made from glass. Instead, our choice is the NeoFlex film from Spigen. They're a trusted brand, and you'll get two in case you need an extra. 

Some screen protectors don't apply right on curved screens like the Galaxy Note 8, and the touch response has issues or the protector won't stay on. As a result, Spigen went back to older (and cheaper) films, but these still offer plenty of protection. 

The NeoFlex film can absorb impact from drops and other situations and is highly scratch resistant. And while it may not save the screen from a huge fall, it will keep it scratch-free. 

Spigen promises a bubble-free, rainbow-free easy installation using a wet application method. It also claims 99.9% clarity, and works even with a case installed. Give it a try today. 

Buy it on Amazon for $8.99 (2-Pack)

How to Change the Galaxy Note 8 Keyboard is a post by Cory Gunther from Gotta Be Mobile.

How to Change the Galaxy S8 Keyboard

How to Change the Galaxy S8 Keyboard is a post by Cory Gunther from Gotta Be Mobile.

In this quick beginners guide we’ll show you how to change the keyboard on the Galaxy S8. This is something millions of people do to their phone. Whether that’s to fix keyboard problems or add some customization. Either way, we’re here to help.

There are a few different reasons you might want to change your keyboard. It could be to get the latest emoji characters or to fix any autocorrect problems. Not to mention replacement keyboards are typically better, faster, and have more features or customization.

Read: How to Disable the Galaxy S8 Always-On Display

With that said, changing the keyboard on the Galaxy S8 is actually really simple. It only takes a few taps from the settings menu and you’re all set. Then, you can customize just about everything. From the size of the keys, add a background image, send GIFs, or even do Google searches right from the keyboard with Google’s Gboard app.

How to Change the Galaxy S8 Keyboard

To start, check out our video above which shows you exactly what to do and where to go in settings. This works for the Galaxy S8, Galaxy S8+ and the new Galaxy Note 8. Grab a new keyboard from our roundup, then follow the instructions below if you still need additional help. We recommend GBoard, Swype, or Swiftkey, to name a few.

Instructions

  • Pull down the notification bar and hit the gear-shaped settings button
  • Scroll down and select General Management
  • Next, choose Language & input
  • From here select On-screen keyboard
  • and tap Manage Keyboards
  • Now turn on the keyboard you want, and turn off Samsung’s keyboard

  • Next, hit back once and tap on Default Keyboard (second option)
  • Select Gboard, or your keyboard of choice

Now, you’ve successfully got rid of Samsung’s pretty basic keyboard and enabled something much more customizable or powerful. Google’s Gboard is one of the most popular. You can change the theme, key colors, add a background wallpaper image, and it’s full of emoji and GIFs to keep conversations fun.

Again, there are several keyboards on the Play Store, so choose the one you’ll enjoy and give it a try today. Before you go, take a peek at these common Galaxy S8 keyboard problems & fixes, or get a new Galaxy S8 case from our roundup.

How to Change the Galaxy S8 Keyboard is a post by Cory Gunther from Gotta Be Mobile.

Galaxy Note 8 Oreo Update: 5 Reasons to Get Excited & 3 Not To

Galaxy Note 8 Oreo Update: 5 Reasons to Get Excited & 3 Not To is a post by Adam Mills from Gotta Be Mobile.

With the Samsung Galaxy Note 8 Oreo update inching closer we want to take you through some things that should have you feeling excited, and maybe a little disappointed, about the Galaxy Note 8 Android 8.0 release.

Now that the Samsung Galaxy S8 Oreo beta is closed, all eyes are on the company’s official Android 8.0 release. We expect the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+, the two devices included in the Oreo beta, to be the first to make the transition from Nougat to Oreo, but other devices shouldn’t be far behind.

One device that should follow closely behind the Galaxy S8 is the Samsung Galaxy Note 8, the company’s other flagship from 2017. The Note 8 wasn’t included in the Android 8.0 Oreo beta, but it’s one of the few Oreo update’s Samsung’s confirmed ahead of time.

Samsung still hasn’t released an official list of devices getting the Android 8.0 Oreo update, but Galaxy Note 8 owners have nothing to worry about. Samsung confirmed the update via an update on the Google Play Store and T-Mobile’s confirmed plans to deliver a Galaxy Note 8 Android Oreo update down the road.

The Galaxy Note 8 Oreo update’s also leaked ahead of the official release giving users a chance to try the software ahead of time. The leaks are tempting, but they’re causing a variety of problems so most users should avoid them for now.

Thanks to the Galaxy S8 beta and the leak, we know quite a bit about what’s ahead for the Galaxy Note 8. The Android Oreo update is a big one and it’ll bring some exciting changes to the flagship device.

In this guide we want to take you through a few of our favorites. We also want to highlight a few things that have the potential to disappoint Galaxy Note 8 users when the Android 8.0 Oreo update finally arrives.

Bug Fixes and Enhancements

Bug Fixes and Enhancements

We know a lot of Samsung Galaxy Note 8 users are dealing with software issues on Android 7.1.1 Nougat. They include various bugs and performance issues including problems with battery life, connectivity (Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, etc), and sound. Android Oreo won't fix everything, but the Note 8's update should deliver fixes and enhancements for ongoing issues. 

Samsung's packed the Galaxy S8's Oreo update to the brim with tweaks and we should see the company, and its carrier partners, bring the same type of performance to the Galaxy Note 8.

The Galaxy S8 Android 8.0 Oreo update includes support for high quality audio codecs like AAC and Sony LDAC, improvements to Find My Mobile, and some changes for its Samsung DeX platform including improved stability. 

Major Android updates like Oreo have also been known to iron out performance issues like severe battery drain, busted Wi-Fi, and broken Bluetooth.

Samsung and its carrier partners might not list these improvements on the official change log, but there's a chance the Note 8's Oreo update fixes user interface lag, random reboots, random freezes, and issues with your apps and services. 

If your Galaxy Note 8 is struggling on Android Nougat, keep an eye out for Android Oreo. It could help stabilize your software. 

Galaxy Note 8 Oreo Update: 5 Reasons to Get Excited & 3 Not To is a post by Adam Mills from Gotta Be Mobile.