Fortnite on Android: everything you need to know

Battle royale shooter Fortnite is the most-played video game on the planet, with PC, console and iOS gamers logging on in their tens of millions to try and win one of its 100-player, last-man-standing matches.

Android users are yet to get in on the act, but they won’t have to wait much longer: Fortnite on Android is due to launch in the coming months, reportedly as early as August 24. 

Here’s everything you need to know about the gaming phenomenon coming to your phone or tablet.

What is Fortnite on Android?

The mobile version is the full game you know and love from PCs and consoles, with the same weapons, the same map and an identical update schedule.

The controls are adapted for touchscreen, with some actions automated to make it less fiddly, including picking up items and opening doors. 

Elements of the UI are different too, with extra building buttons popping up, and there are both on-screen footstep and gunshot indicators to tell you the direction of any nearby sounds. Other than that, it’s the same game.

Fornite on Android release date

Fortnite

Epic has not yet announced an exact release date, but has said it is “targeting this summer”, and its website says the Android version will be out “within the next few months”.

However, reports from both XDA Developers and 9to5Google have said that Fortnite on Android will arrive later this month, coinciding with the release of the Samsung Galaxy Note 9.

Sources have told both websites that the phone will hit stores on August 24, and that Fortnite on Android will be available exclusively on the device for 30 days after that. It will then unlock for other Android phones on September 23.

The websites also report that buying the Note 9 will net you free V-Bucks (as much as $150 / £115 / AU$200 worth), skins, and more. Samsung is due to unveil the Note 9 at an event on August 9, so we’ll no doubt find out more then.

What devices will be compatible with Fortnite on Android? 

Again, Epic hasn’t provided much information on which phones will be able to run Fortnite, but XDA Developers dug around in the source code for the game’s website to uncover a list of around 40 supported devices.

That list is just to the side here, but remember: it’s likely that more devices will be supported when Android on Fortnite comes out. 

Phones that should be capable of running it aren’t listed – such as the Huawei P20 Pro, OnePlus 6 and LG G7 ThinQ – and no Android tablets are mentioned either.

How will you install the game? 

Not through the Play Store, if the source code for the game’s website is anything to go by. Again, XDA Developers poked around and discovered lines that tell the player to “download and install Fortnite through your browser”, and takes you through steps that are “necessary to install any app outside of the Play Store”. 

Those lines are no longer displayed in the source code as of writing, but XDA developers has provided a screenshot of them for proof.

This would mean hopping onto Epic’s own website on your browser of choice to download the game. But why would Epic Games make it so complicated to download the game?

Credit: XDA Developers

Why would Epic keep the Android version off the Play Store? 

It’s certainly a bold decision—the Play Store is where Android users get the vast majority of their apps, and so by not being there, Epic potentially loses some players. But Fortnite is a huge household name, and perhaps the developer is hoping players won’t mind taking a few extra steps to get it on their phone.

Besides, by forcing players to download the game through its website, Epic doesn’t have to share any of the money it makes from in-app purchases with Google. If Fortnite was on the Play Store, Google would take a 30% slice, as Apple does with the iOS version.

Considering that Fortnite on iOS has just passed 100 million downloads and cleared $160 million from in-app purchases, swerving the Play Store could prove to be a smart business decision for Epic.

Will Fortnite on Android support cross-play with iOS, PCs and consoles? 

Yes – Fortnite on Android will be compatible with iOS, PC, PS4 and Xbox One versions of the shooter, so you’ll be able to squad up with your friends on other platforms. Epic has not said whether cross-play for Android will be available at launch, or whether it will arrive later.

 Will there be a Fortnite on Android beta? 

Again, no word on this. If reports that the Android version will first launch as a 30-day timed exclusive on the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 are true, then this could act as a beta, replacing the invite-only period that Epic implemented when the iOS version first came out.

Stay tuned to this page for updates as-and-when they happen.

  • Everything you need to know about Fortnite

HDR TV: What is HDR, and what does High Dynamic Range mean for television?

HDR, or high dynamic range, is a term often thrown about without much explanation. You know it’s something good to have on your TV, even if you’re less sure exactly what it refers to – a bit like the AV world’s equivalent of ‘organic’.

What’s important is that HDR is going to change the way you watch TV. 

4K displays tend to get most of the attention, as they produce four times the number of pixels of any HD TV on the market. But is more necessarily better? Do you care how many pixels there are if none of them look any good?

What HDR is promising is better pixels. With HDR, bright whites get brighter, dark blacks get darker, and 10-bit panels are finally able to display the 1 billion colors you’ve been wanting to see.

4K describes the quantity of pixels, but it’s HDR that describes quality. 

What is HDR?

So let’s clear up some confusion first: The kind of high dynamic range that your TV is capable of shouldn’t be confused with the HDR photography options that have recently been added to smartphone cameras.

Both result in images that have a greater contrast between light and dark, but the way they work is slightly different.

High-end cameras and recent smartphone apps utilize HDR by combining several photos taken during a single burst.

Separate photos are taken at different exposures during the process. These are called stops, and the amount of light is doubled from one to the next. So while the first stop produces an extremely dark image, the last result is exceptionally bright, lending better luminosity to the final portmanteau photo.

But that’s not the same for video.

Yes, you’re still getting an expanded color gamut and contrast ratio, but you’re not doing it by combining several images. It all has to do with the way an image is displayed on the screen and the source content used to do it.

While it shares a name and some common points with photography, clearly HDR video is different to smartphone photography. The end result, an image with more contrast between its lightest and darkest areas is the same, but instead of combining separate images this effect is produced using better camera technology to capture footage in the first place.

HIgh Dynamic Range

HDR creates a wider gamut of colors, allowing for a more vivid image

The improvements you’ll see with an HDR image are numerous. 

Whereas on a standard display everything below a certain brightness is the same shade of black, an HDR display’s range goes further, allowing you to tell the difference between something that’s really really dark, and something that’s just dark. (Go put on a horror movie and you’ll be able to tell the difference immediately.)

So, for example, a wide shot of a campfire at night could have subtle details in the flame rather than appearing ‘blown out’, along with palpable definition to objects that are barely lit in the gloomy surroundings at the edge of the frame.

As Panasonic’s training manager Michael Price says, “It’s about control, not just extra brightness and results in more natural expressions of light and shadow.”

When we caught up with Hollywood cinematographer Vanja Cernjul he was positively brimming with excitement about HDR, saying that “The whole composition is affected by the increased detail in brightness.

“You no longer have to choose whether to expose for the highlights or the shadows, so when I shoot I try and include a light source in the shot, which I can play with in the HDR grading session.”

In post-production Cernjul will tinker with the levels of exposure, brightness, contrast and colour saturation, making them look as good as possible on an HDR compatible screen.

He thinks that filmmakers will, like him, be attracted to work on TV. Having just completed shooting the second season of Marco Polo in HDR, Cernjul sees streaming services as the natural home for HDR production, because of the number of original shows being commissioned by the likes of Netflix and Amazon.

HDR is bringing media closer to what the human eye sees, and by doing so, is creating more realistic images, from scenes bleached with sunlight to nighttime shots on city streets.

Here’s the takeaway: HDR TVs and content will display a more realistic color range, with an expanded contrast ratio to make black parts of the image look closer to ‘true’ black.

So what’s HDR like?

Watch some carefully crafted HDR such as Cernjul’s short showcase movie, Converging Beams, made for Panasonic, and you can see the potential. You get so accustomed to simultaneously seeing shadow detail and details in the highlights that you may come to find watching standard images a bit flat and dissatisfying.

Not only that, but HDR has real extra zip to it compared with standard viewing. There’s a new level of dynamism to images, something hugely evident in a film like like the Lego Movie.

When we went from standard definition to HD, screen sizes were a lot smaller and just having the extra pixels was enough to transform the picture. Now that screens are so much bigger, however, it’s not enough to simply add more pixels, as there are other aspects of the image that can be improved.

What HDR adds in terms of additional colours, better clarity in shadows and highlights, is subtle but significant – and it delivers a much more visually satisfying picture than simply having extra pixels. The overall effect is a punchiness that’s tantamount to creating a 3D image.

But the tech still needs to catch up to the promise. Some cheaper LCD HDR screens struggle with displaying bright objects against sharply darker backgrounds, causing streaks of light to run down the screen or create halos around bright objects.

These issues are of less concern on the kind of OLED screens made by LG, Panasonic or Sony, where each pixel generates its own light and can go completely dark.

How do I get HDR?

HDR is an end-to-end technology, so every step from creation to distribution to the screen in your home needs to be HDR-compatible, which means that legacy TVs can’t show it.

When you go out shopping for a TV screen you may notice an Ultra HD Premium logo on it. This means that the screen offers a level of performance that’s guaranteed to get the most out of an HDR source. In terms of specification the screen must have 3840 x 2160 pixels (although this is no different to any other UHD screen) plus it must be able to display a vast number of unique color shades captured within an image. 

The other key metric for a Premium-badged panel is a contrast ratio of at least 1,000 nits peak brightness and less than 0.05 nits black level.

Nits are a term that’s been adopted by the TV industry to indicate the brightness of a display. 1 nit is approximately equal to the light from a single candle.

Most TV screens in use today offer between 300 and 500 nits, so that gives you a good idea of the greater luminosity required to show HDR.

The above applies to LED-lit LCD screens while for OLED screens (which have lower average brightness and much lower black levels than LCD) it’s 540 nits peak brightness and less than 0.0005 nits black level.

Panasonic’s Price says that edge-lit LED screens cannot produce high enough contrast and you need direct lighting (from behind the picture, a less-common method of lighting screens) to get enough dynamic range to meet Premium HDR requirements.

In fact, the vast majority of LCD screens on sale aren’t equipped to deliver the level of brightness required for a Premium badge so manufacturers are tending to simply sell non-premium models.

Ultra HD

Ultra HD Premium – different to ‘normal’ 4K

Since manufacturers aren’t obliged to reveal the number of nits (brightness) their screens achieve, or the contrast ratio, it’s up to them to decide for themselves if a non-Premium screen has enough brightness and contrast to deliver a meaningful HDR image.

The consumer electronics industry has previous form when it comes to offering similar but different standards, as while it was a lot easier to understand the difference between HD-Ready and Full HD the gap between “regular” UHD and UHD Premium displays is more fluid.

But the bottom line is that the Ultra HD Premium branding is the most reliable way of ensuring you see what the creator intended.

Another issue is that it’s not compulsory to use the UHD Premium logo – others are (confusingly) using their own branding.

Sony’s product training specialist Gavin McCarran says: “What the Ultra HD Premium logo doesn’t do is show all the range of models that can receive an HDR signal.”

Maybe Sony thinks the Premium accreditation will put people off buying the non-premium models because, after all, would you buy a bottle of Moet & Chandon champagne if it were watered down to make it cheaper?

LG

LG is making some impressive HDR OLED TVs

The Ultra HD Premium hallmark can also be used on Ultra HD Blu-ray players and discs as HDR is a mandatory part of the Ultra HD Blu-ray spec.

UHD screens without HDR compatibility will still show a 4K picture in SDR (standard dynamic range) from an Ultra HD Blu-ray but they won’t be able to access the HDR metadata carried within the picture.

Offering bit-rates up to 100 Mb/sec (approximately five times that used for streamed movies), in terms of content, Ultra HD Blu-ray is best placed to deliver the HDR goods.

HDR Standards – another cause for confusion

All HDR screens are able to display what’s called HDR10, which has the same specification as the UHD Premium standard. It’s compulsory on all Ultra HD Blu-rays, plus it appears on HDR dramas streamed by Netflix and Amazon.

But there’s another reason to be careful about which brand of HDR screen you buy and it’s all down to the fact that there are several varieties of HDR being used by content creators.

Dolby has an HDR10 rival called Dolby Vision, which has increased color depth (it’s 12-bit rather than 10) and “up to” 10,000 nits peak brightness (which is far brighter than any current TV can offer). It also offers a feature known as ‘dynamic tone mapping’ which adjusts the brightness and contrast of scenes depending on how bright or dark they need to be. This dynamic mastering process is all done when the film is being edited, which means all you need to do is sit back and enjoy the fruits of someone else’s hard labor.

Only screens and players equipped with Dolby Vision decoding will be able to show Dolby Vision’s ‘improved’ version of HDR. All of LG’s OLED sets support it, as does Sony’s flagship A1E OLED (two other Sony sets, the XE93 and XE94 are due to receive Dolby Vision support in a forthcoming firmware update).  

HDR

Dolby Vision is adding more confusion to the HDR game

But Dolby Vision isn’t the only player in the field of advanced HDR.

There’s Advanced HDR by Technicolor, a nascent HDR format from the people who brought you colored cartoons; Hybrid Log Gamma, which is the standard designed to work with broadcast television; and finally, HDR10+, a new standard that builds some of the benefits of Dolby Vision into an open-standard akin to HDR10. 

Technicolor and Philips are working together on another system that creates and delivers HDR and normal versions simultaneously, so that separate streams won’t have to be created and graded. The correct content will be automatically chosen to match the screen’s peak brightness and dynamic range.

Finally, the BBC and NHK Japan are co-developing a version of HDR that can be used in conventional broadcasts. Called Hybrid Log Gamma, the interesting thing about the standard is that it’s backwards compatible, meaning that if an SDR television receives this HDR signal, it will still be able to display an image (though obviously not an HDR one).

HDR isn’t just for TVs, it’s on your phone, too

While the big screen might be the best way to indulge in high dynamic range content, it’s not the only way to do so. 

YouTube recently made HDR videos available to certain mobile phones, including the the Google Pixel, LG V30, Samsung Galaxy S8, Samsung Galaxy Note8 and Sony Xperia XZ Premium.

Interestingly, LG’s handsets are compatible with the more advanced Dolby Vision standard, although you’ll need to use Netflix (see below) to find any compatible content. 

If you want to find some YouTube HDR videos you can find a curated list of them here.

Of course, YouTube isn’t the only place to get HDR on the go: Netflix has also recently released the news that it too supports mobile HDR on the Samsung Galaxy Note8, LG V30, Sony Xperia XZ1 and Sony Xperia XZ Premium as well. 

What’s the verdict on HDR?

It really is a landmark in home entertainment history that we can now watch movie content in our home with the same colour grading as in the cinema.

We can’t wait for the time when broadcasters adopt HDR for the same reasons – imagine watching live sport broadcast from a stadium split between shadow and bright sunlight without a sudden jump in the exposure as the ball goes into the brighter section.

Cinematically it’s going to have a big effect too, with the director no longer needing to choose between exposing for the shadows or the sunlight. Within a year or two it’ll likely be possible to say HDR has finally put the ultra in to UHD viewing, and all the issues over different standards will have been resolved.

But unquestionably we are seeing yet another format war and it really is one that looks impossible to call.

Most hardware manufacturers are backing HDR10 (the official standard) but Dolby is a powerful force and has the content creators on its side. 

It’s not impossible that both standards will continue to co-exist (after all Dolby and DTS share the Blu-ray audio market) but the way to play it safe would be to choose kit with Dolby Vision because HDR10 can always be shown on it.

When will HDR be available?

Right now. If you own an Ultra HD Blu-ray player, are a member of either Amazon Prime or Netflix – or just watch the occasional video on YouTube – and own one of the UHD Alliance-certified TVs, you can watch HDR content today.

The two major streaming providers have also both pledged to bring the technology to new series going forward.

HDR has also been included as standard in the Ultra HD Blu-ray format. The amount of discs available, not to mention the number of players, is currently slim, but as more and more films get released in the format HDR is set to hit the mainstream very soon indeed.

If you’re streaming, you’ll need a broadband connection of at least 25Mbits to watch streamed HDR, although Netflix uses something called adaptive streaming that gives the advanced screen tech priority over resolution in the case of insufficient bandwidth.

Editor’s note: Additional reporting by Dave James, Nick Pino and Jon Porter

  • Check out our list of the best Ultra HD Blu-ray players currently available.
  • Deadpool director says HDR is a killer feature

Samsung and LG phones with rear second screens show up in new plans

Fancy a screen on the rear of your smartphone? If the latest patents from LG and Samsung are anything to go by that could well become reality.

The patents, filed at the American patent office, were spotted by Dutch site Mobielkopen and included sketches of handsets with large displays on the front, and smaller displays on the rear.

Samsung’s second screen design (filed in December 2016) is the larger of the two, taking up about half the space on the rear of the phone. There’s no sign of a fingerprint scanner though, so either it’s planned to be built into the display, or this handset will rely solely on face recognition.

It also appears to be the thinner handset, with power and volume keys on one side, a USB-C port on its base and no sign of a headphone jack.

Meanwhile the LG design (filed in June 2016) features a smaller second display on the back, which sits above a camera block and what appears to be a centralized fingerprint scanner.

The overall design of the phone looks chunkier, but there are no buttons or ports on show – either LG opted to exclude these features from the patent application, or its planning a port and button-less smartphone.

We’ve already seen HTC take a step towards losing physical buttons on the flagship U12 Plus, so it’s not outside the realms of possibility.

Second screens from Samsung and LG (credit: Mobielkopen)

Not the first time

This isn’t the first time we’ve seen multiple displays on a smartphone. LG has form in this respect as it introduced us to second screen smartphones with the V10 and V20.

They featured a small display above the main screen on the front of the handsets, although LG has moved away from this particular implementation with more recent V-series handsets.

However, Russian firm Yotaphone offered handsets closer to the patents above, with the original Yotaphone and the Yotaphone 2 featuring large, e-Ink displays on their rears.

Things didn’t work out for Yotaphone though, but perhaps these new, refined designs from LG and Samsung can spark a second screen smartphone resurgence.

  • Samsung might be making a foldable smartphone

First trillion dollar company? Apple closes in on title with strong third-quarter earnings

Apple third quarter earnings were never supposed to be exciting – it hasn’t had a big hardware launch in months and we don’t expect new iPhones until September.

However, a mix of strong revenue today and a market valuation that’s closing in on $1 trillion are hyping Apple’s stock price to record levels in after hours trading.

To become the first $1 trillion company (and beat Amazon to the title), Apple’s stock price needs to cross $203, which is 3% above its its current price, notes 9to5mac. 

The company stock price currently sits at $190.30 and reached an all-time high of $195.96, which would put Apple at $990bn when the stock market opens tomorrow.

Apple’s revenue gains mark the company’s best June quarter ever, according to CEO Tim Cook, noting that it’s the fourth consecutive quarter of double-digit revenue growth.

iPhone sales, services, and China

What’s propelled Apple’s June earnings high and its ability to defy the challenges faced by rival tech stocks this quarter? iPhone revenue was higher than estimated.

Analysts had predicted that the average iPhone price would be $693. Surprise, actual iPhone revenue on average was $723, according to Apple. During the conference call, Cook noted that the iPhone X was the most popular iPhone in the third quarter.

Apple’s success with the iPhone X contrasts with Samsung, which is struggling to sell the Samsung Galaxy S9 compared to its prior Android phones. People aren’t upgrading, and that’s something Apple’s iPhone has struggled with in previous quarters. 

Cook dismissed the need for record revenue during the call, saying that because the smartphone market is so vast, it doesn’t matter if revenue dips or goes up 10%. Of course, he’s almost certainly hoping for the latter result when the iPhone 9 and iPhone 11 launch (likely in September). 

The biggest momentum for Apple continues to be ‘Services’, which includes iCloud, Apple Music, and Apple Care. It makes sense if more people are insuring that pricey iPhone X (and for a downpayment than last year to boot). Apple has also hit what Cook called a pocket of success with the Apple Watch, though the company doesn’t break down smartwatch revenue. 

Finally, while Cook expressed opposition to new trade tariffs between the US and China, noting how they’re anti-consumer, he said that Apple is continuing to see double digit growth in China along with other major markets.

  • All about the iPhone 9

This solar-powered drone can stay airborne for a year

Main image: PHASA-35 will fly itself for months at a time. Credit: Prismatic/BAE Systems

The longest passenger flight is a whopping 19-hour service on Singapore Airlines between Singapore and Newark, but how about a non-stop flight lasting and entire year? British aerospace company Prismatic is now working on a solar-powered drone that can stay airborne for an entire year without any need for maintenance.

However, the Persistent High Altitude Solar Aircraft – or PHASA-35 for short – is not for passengers. In fact, it can only carry a payload of 15kg, but it has the potential to replace satellites for communications in off-grid areas, for remote sensing, Earth observations, and surveillance of all kinds, including military.

It’s the most advanced of a new class of autonomous unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) – better known as drones – and it should be ready for tests in 2019.

What is the PHASA-35?

An ultra-lightweight carbon fibre drone weighing just 150kg, PHASA-35 will – the clue is in the name – have a huge 35 meter wingspan. It will have solar panels that replenish a rechargeable battery during sunlight hours, with new battery technology able to sustain PHASA-35’s flight path through the night, and for months on end – and possibly for a year. It’s designed to fly at between 50 and 78 knots at an altitude of 55-70,000ft, maintain the same position in all seasons, and cope with all kinds of wind issues.

An image of the PHASA-35 UAV

PHASA-35 weighs just 150kg. Credit: Prismatic/BAE Systems

Who is making the PHASA-35?

Working on the PHASA-35 with Hampshire-based Prismatic is leading UK aerospace and defense manufacturer BAE Systems, which will invest in the development and flight testing of drone, and help with the construction of two of the craft.

PHASE-8 is smaller test version of the PHASA-35 concept that’s already been successfully flown. This 12kg drone flew for 75 minutes in December 2017, and then for two hours in January of this year. 

What is a Solar HALE UAV?

Solar High Altitude Long Endurance (HALE) UAVs have come as a result of efforts to develop a cheaper alternative to communication satellites, which cost many millions to both construct, and then to launch into orbit on top of a rocket. “PHASA-35 has the ability to revolutionize how we think about beyond line of site communications,” says Paul Brooks, founder and managing director of Prismatic.

An image of the PHASA-35 UAV

PHASA-35 could be used for LIDAR mapping and thermal photography. Credit: Prismatic/BAE Systems

It’s also about replacing the need by the oil and gas sector for regular and expensive helicopter flights, which are used to monitor critical infrastructure. In that capacity HALE drones can be used for video, optical photography, thermal photography, and LIDAR. PHASA-35 will be able to carry about 15kg of communications or photographic gear and equipment.

What are UAVs for?

Self-piloted and completely autonomous, UAVs have two obvious uses. ‘Persistent surveillance’ might sound rather alarming, but it’s as much about tracking the movements of ships, inspecting traffic congestion, checking up on a pipeline or monitoring forest fires, soil erosion and deforestation as it is about tracking troop movements or photographing military targets. That said, they certainly have  defense applications as well, hence the involvement of BAE Systems in the PHASA-35 project.

An image of the PHASA-35 UAV

UAVs are also used for military surveillance. Credit: Prismatic/BAE Systems

UAVs can also be used for communications, swiftly delivering occasional or semi-permanent broadband access to remote areas not currently covered by satellites. For example, they could be used to bring communications to areas devastated by an earthquake, cyclone or tsunami, helping stricken populaces while also helping the emergency services to coordinate rescue and reconstruction efforts.

Does PHASA-35 have competitors?

There are plenty, although the most famous – the Airbus-owned QinetiQ Zephyr-S – is designed to be the ‘missing link’ between drones and satellites: a High Altitude Pseudo-Satellite (HAPS). A HAPS is a platform that floats or flies at high altitude like an airplane, about 12 miles up, but which operates more like a satellite.

Image of the The QinetiQ Zephyr-7 High Altitude Pseudo-Satellite

The QinetiQ Zephyr-7 is a High Altitude Pseudo-Satellite. Credit: Airbus

They can be used for monitoring and surveillance, communicating with both satellites in space and much smaller drones below. The UK military owns three QinetiQ Zephyr drones, which are being used for persistent surveillance trials. 

The QinetiQ Zephyr-S is a solar-electric HAPS that’s designed to eventually fly for months at a time – the 14 days it flew for in July of this year is a new world flight endurance record for an aircraft without refueling. Many of the management team at Prismatic – makers of the PHASA-35 – previously worked on the QinetiQ Zephyr.

Stratobus

Another contender is Thales Alenia Space, which is preparing the lighter-than-air solar-powered Stratobus, with its first flight expected in 2021. A HAPS autonomous ‘stratospheric airship’, the Stratobus is designed to float 12 miles above the ocean and warn ships below about pirates, shipwrecks and other hazards in congested shipping lanes.

“The Stratobus is the perfect complement to satellites,” says Jean-Philippe Chessel, Stratobus Product Line manager, Thales Alenia Space. “You can add on sensors, captors, and other technologies, making it a kind of ‘Swiss army knife’ of innovation in the sky.” The Stratobus is due to begin test flights in 2022.

Image of the Stratobus High Altitude Pseudo-Satellite

Stratobus is a HAPS shaped like an airship. Credit: Thales Alenia Space

XSun SolarXOne and HAPSMobile

The brainchild of French start-up XSun, the double-wing SolarXOne is a much smaller UAV than the PHASA-35, but it’s also aiming for long endurance flights. With a wingspan of 4.5 meters, SolarXOne is also energy-independent, getting its power exclusively from the Sun.

However, bigger news is that SoftBank and AeroVironment have just begun a big solar HALE UAV project called HAPSMobile, which is expected to focus on taking internet connectivity to remote areas. AeroVironment worked with NASA on such projects in the 1990s before they were cancelled in 2003. 

It’s early days, but these unmanned high-altitude vehicles look set to take their place in the skies, traversing the airspace between that occupied by satellites and short-range drones, silently going about their business for months, and perhaps years, on end. 

TechRadar’s Next Up series is brought to you in association with Honor

The best cheap laptop deals in July 2018

Whether you need a portable machine to take with you on vacation or you’re already thinking about sending your college student back to school with a new laptop, now’s a great time to get a laptop deal. We’ve compiled the absolute best laptop deals of the week in addition to a selection of perpetual favorites for the best cheap laptops.

Purchasing a new laptop can be an often confusing task of comparing storage, memory, processing power and features, but our guide below will help you find the best laptop deals and get the most for your money. From huge names like Dell to lesser known brands like Acer, you’re sure to come away happy with these bargains.

At the top of the page, you’ll find our selection of the very latest and best cheap laptop deals of the week. Beneath those, you’ll find our pick of the latest best cheap laptops along with their lowest available prices.

The best laptop deal of the week

More top cheap laptop deals of the week

Where to find the best laptop deals in the US:

  • Amazon laptop deals
  • Newegg laptop deals
  • Walmart laptop deals
  • Staples laptop deals
  • Dell laptop deals
  • Lenovo laptop deals
  • HP laptop deals
  • Acer laptop deals

The best cheap laptops of 2018

Here we have one of the few budget laptops with a processor nearly equivalent to the MacBook Pro, that is, if you opt for the Intel Core i5 configuration. The best part? It’s roughly half the cost of its Apple-branded rival. Now given that it sells at a range of different prices, the Acer Swift 3 can be an obtuse purchase, but lucky for you, the midrange model will get you by just fine.

Read the full review: Acer Swift 3

Asus Transformer Mini T102HA

Its name is alphabet soup to the average reader, but then again this convertible laptop has always been about function over form. For one minuscule transaction, you’re getting a tablet equipped with an included keyboard and even a fingerprint scanner for more secure logins. Along with reliable performance and a magnesium-alloy chassis, it’s built to last.

Read the full review: Asus Transformer Mini T102HA

acer chromebook 15

While it may be outclassed by the Pixelbook and the Samsung Chromebook in terms of sheer power, the Acer Chromebook 15 can still pack a wallop while providing battery life that is frankly out of this world. It’s rare that a laptop can truly provide all-day battery, but in our independent battery tests, Acer’s Chromebook lasted an astonishing 17 hours – on top of providing enough power to get your work done online. If you’re looking for a 15 inch Chromebook that will give you the most bang for your buck, look no further.

Read the full review: Acer Chromebook 15 

Lenovo Yoga Book

The Lenovo Yoga Book, and the Windows 10 version of it in particular, is the sort of futuristic fodder you would find in an episode of Black Mirror. It has a keyboard that doubles as a Wacom touch panel and, best of all, it’s cheap as hell. Now, of course, that comes with the caveat of a weak Intel Atom processor, but the rest of the Lenovo Yoga Book should go down in the history books.

Read the full review: Lenovo Yoga Book

Asus X102BA

With its slick lines and a slim silhouette, the Acer Chromebook 14 makes for a subtle, snazzy laptop. Although its display isn’t the most attractive we’ve seen, it’s still acceptable for full HD. On top of that, the keyboard and trackpad adhere to the principle of ‘it just works.’ The battery life is satisfactory as well despite falling a bit south of Acer’s 12-hour claim in real-world use.

Read the full review: Acer Chromebook 14

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