Best camera for vlogging 2019: 10 perfect choices tested

Picking the best camera for vlogging is a bit more involved than looking at the video specs of a range of cameras, as there are a number of other considerations to take into account.

For a basic head shot, all you really need is the camera that’s built into your smartphone, tablet or laptop. But if you want the world to sit up and take notice of your vlog and attract a wider audience, you’ll need to put in a bit more effort and get the right tools for the job. So what makes for a good vlogging camera?

If you want to publish a record of your life experiences, you’ll need a camera that’s small enough to carry around with you. That rules out big, clunky DSLRs with a barrowload of lenses, but there are a couple of relatively lightweight DSLRs on the market that are ideal for vlogging.

For greater go-anywhere convenience, a mirrorless camera can shoehorn the quality and versatility of a DSLR into a much smaller package. And if you don’t feel the need to swap lenses to suit different shooting scenarios, a regular compact camera typically takes up even less room. For all-action heroes, a specialist action camera is the best fit.

Video quality

Whatever type of camera you go for, you’ll need one that can deliver good quality video, preferably in Full HD (1080p) or even 4k Ultra High Definition, both formats now being supported by the likes of YouTube. Built-in Wi-Fi can be a big bonus, while a tilting or fully articulating LCD monitor screen can be extremely helpful for putting yourself in the picture.

We’ve picked out 10 top cameras of various shapes, sizes and attributes to suit different styles of vlogging

We’ve picked out 10 top cameras of various shapes, sizes and attributes to suit different styles of vlogging, and to fit into the bigger picture of your all-round stills and video shooting requirements. Some will suit your exact needs better than others, so we’ve listed them alphabetically, rather than recommending one overall winner.

Best vlogging cameras in 2019

Smaller and lighter than many DSLR bodies even without a lens fitted, this compact camera is from Canon’s up-market PowerShot range. Despite its conveniently compact build, it has a fast f/1.8-2.8 zoom lens with a powerful 24-100mm effective range, feeding a 1.0-inch sensor that’s relatively large for a compact camera.

As well as delivering excellent stills quality, the PowerShot G7 X Mark II boasts clever features for vlogging. While not fully articulated, the PowerShot G7 X Mark II edition adds a flip-up facility to its tilting touchscreen, making it easy to frame yourself when talking to camera. The 5-axis stabilization is also particularly good for counteracting camera-shake when shooting movies, even when panning or moving around, and comes complete with an auto-level function to keep your horizons straight.

  • Read our in-depth Canon PowerShot G7 X Mark II

DSLRs are notoriously poor for autofocusing in Live View and when shooting movies. Like many of Canon’s current DSLRs, the EOS 77D solves the problem with Dual Pixel CMOS autofocus. This enables much faster and more effective autofocus in movie capture, especially when tracking moving subjects. It also works a treat with the touchscreen, enabling you to simply point to any part of the scene on which you want to focus. Better still, the screen in fully articulated, so you can ensure you’re positioned correctly when talking to camera. 

More unusually for a Canon DSLR, the EOS 77D features 5-axis sensor-shift image stabilization. The camera still relies on in-lens, optical stabilization for stills capture, but the ‘Digital IS’ is highly effective when shooting movies.

  • Read our in-depth Canon EOS 77D review

Wonderfully compact, this mirrorless system camera body is just 40mm deep, and remains very slim when fitted with the optional 15-45mm kit lens, which has a retractable design and a power zoom facility, ideal for video capture. Great for putting yourself in the shot, the LCD screen flips up through a full 180 degrees, automatically activating eye-detection autofocus in the process. The fact that it’s a touchscreen also helps with literally pointing out moving subjects on which you want to focus.

Advanced video features include ‘high-speed movies’ with slow-motion playback, and 4K ultra-high-definition capture. There’s a catch, however, in that 4K movies have a maximum frame rate of just 15fps. The result can be very detailed but jerky video, somewhat defeating the object.

  • Read our in-depth Fujifilm X-A5 review

GoPro’s Hero 6 Black already made this list previously, but now that we’ve had a chance to put the newer Hero 7 Black model to the test we know that it very much deserves its own place on this list. 

Why’s that? Much of this is down to the newer device’s headline feature, namely HyperSmooth, which does a remarkable job of steadying footage, something that’s particularly evident when you’re vlogging whilst shooting from a moving vehicle or jogging, or moving in any other way through bumpy terrain. The company has also redesigned the microphone membrane for better audio capture and thrown in the very fun TimeWarp feature. Want to Live Stream to Facebook or YouTube? Yep, you can do that too. 

As if that wasn’t enough, the company chose to release the Hero 7 Black at the same price point as the Hero 6 Black, which makes it a no-brainer. Sure, if you can find a secondhand Hero 6 Black at a knockdown price then it’s still well worth considering, but if you fancy something newer and more powerful, you’ll be hard pushed to find a more capable action camera.

  • Read our in-depth GoPro Hero7 Black review

Particularly small and lightweight for a DSLR, the D5600 is easy to take along for the ride, especially with its retractable 18-55mm VR kit lens. With a ‘Pulse’ autofocus motor, the kit lens also gives the advantage of silent, smooth focus transitions when shooting movies. However, unlike most recent Canon DSLRs, the lack of phase-detection autofocus via the image sensor makes for sluggish performance and relatively poor tracking of moving subjects.

The 3.2-inch, fully articulated LCD screen looks good from any angle and can be a massive help when filming yourself, or for shooting just about anything else from tricky angles. As with most DSLRs at this price point, the maximum video resolution is 1080 60p, but that’s currently good enough for most of us.

  • Read our in-depth Nikon D5600 review

Simple to use yet stylish and effective, the Pen E-PL9 shoehorns a lot of camera into a very slimline package. It remains very compact when adding the 14-42mm EZ Pancake kit lens, which features movie-friendly motorized zoom. The camera has a three-axis sensor-shift image stabilizer which enables stabilization with any attached lens, for capturing movies as well as stills. Movies themselves can be shot at resolutions of up to 4K at 30fps, and there’s also an option for high-speed capture in 720p at 120fps.

Taking selfies and capturing yourself in movies benefits from a tilting LCD screen with a 180-degree flip-over facility, and the autofocus system comes complete with face-detection and eye-detection options. As well as Wi-Fi, the camera has built-in Bluetooth, for easy paring with other mobile devices.

  • Read our in-depth Olympus PEN E-PL9 review

Despite being very small and lightweight, this action camera has a stylish design that’s more reminiscent of a miniature camcorder than a digital matchbox. A tough cookie, the Olympus is waterproof down to 30m, freezeproof to -10C, crushproof to 100kg, and can withstand being dropped from 2.1m. Other adventurous features include GPS, an electronic compass, an accelerometer, a thermometer and even a manometer, plus a ‘headlight’ for taking a shot in the dark.

There’s no need to worry about focusing, as the built-in ultra-wide prime lens enables a fixed focus setting that keeps everything sharp from 20cm away to infinity. Even so, putting yourself in the frame can be a bit hit and miss, as the flip-out LCD doesn’t rotate and can’t be viewed from in front of the camera.

  • Read our in-depth Olympus Tough TG-Tracker review

Panasonic’s cheapest G-series camera to sport a flip-out LCD screen also happens to packs whole heap of extras for the budding videographer. 4K video capture to 30p; an input for a microphone; autofocus during recording and a scattering of extras such as focus peaking and zebra. Sure, you may not use all these for vlogging per se, but if you want complement self-facing footage with additional clips, the G7 is happy to help.

4K footage is well exposed and nicely coloured, but is subject to a slight crop. With the Lumix G Vario 14-42mm f/3.5 -5.6 II ASPH. MEGA O.I.S. kit lens this still leaves you with a reasonable angle of view at the wide-angle end, but if you opt for the kit with the superior Lumix G Vario 12- 60mm f/3.5-5.6 ASPH. POWER O.I.S. lens, you’ll have both a slightly wider angle of view and better image quality.

  • Read our in-depth Panasonic Lumix G7 review

Disarmingly small and simple in its appearance, the RX100 Mk IV is nevertheless a powerhouse of a compact camera, complete with a built-in zoom lens that has an effective zoom range of 24-70mm and fast f/1.8-2.8 aperture rating. It’s not just the lens that’s fast either. Thanks to a remarkable ‘stacked’ CMOS image sensor with an onboard DRAM chip, it’s capable of super-speed shooting. Incredibly quick shutter speeds of up to 1/32,000th of a second are available, complete with an anti-distortion function to avoid rolling shutter effects when shooting video. The Sony also enables high-frame-rate video at up to 960fps, resulting in a 40x super slow-motion facility. Even stills shooting is rapid, at up to 16fps utilizing the full 20.1MP resolution of the 1.0-type image sensor.

Stills and video can be composed using the pop-up electronic viewfinder, or via a tilting LCD that can be flipped upwards through 180 degrees for viewing from in front of the camera. You can capture video at resolutions of up to 4k 25p, although UHD video clips are limited to a maximum duration of just five minutes. The same limitation applies to the newer RX100 V edition, which has a more advanced autofocus system but is more expensive to buy.

  • Read our in-depth Sony Cyber-shot RX100 IV review

Canon’s latest EOS M series model might not be an fancy as the even more recent full-frame EOS R, whose vari-angle screen also makes it a viable candidate for this list, but there’s lots to recommend it if vlogging is your main focus. 

It’s significantly smaller, cheaper and lighter than that camera, and packs the desirable combination of 4K video recording with a screen that spins out to face the front. There’s even a microphone port for external mics and a hotshoe to house these.

As we found in our review, the touchscreen is has been excellently implemented, and image quality is great. On the downside, you can’t use the Dual Pixel CMOS AF system at this resolution and 4K footage is subject to a 1.6x crop, meaning that you end up with a 38.4-115.2mm equivalent focal range with the standard kit lens. Is this an issue? If you just want the focus to be on your face, then possibly not at all. And if you switch to Full HD, neither of these restrictions applies.

  • Read our in-depth Canon EOS M50 review

Also consider…

DJI’s Osmo gimbal technology has impressed us in the past, with dedicated devices to help deliver super-smooth footage on both smartphones and high-end cameras. Now though, DJI is bringing this tech to an even wider audience with the launch of the Osmo Pocket. The DJI Osmo Pocket is a compact three-axis stabilized camera that’s been designed to help users capture creative videos and photos in a portable form factor. The Osmo Pocket features a 1/2.3-inch sensor that’s capable of recording 12MP still images and 4K video footage up to 60fps at 100Mbps. There are built-in dual microphones that use advanced noise-canceling algorithms, while you can connect your iPhone of Android device if you want a larger display than the 1.0-inch touchscreen. 

  • Read our hands on DJI Osmo Pocket review

  • Best camera
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The best January sales 2019: where to find the best deals right now

Happy New Year, reader and thanks for dropping by to check out our roundup of the very best deals in the January sales 2019. A few stores launched sales straight after Christmas, with not many holding back for the traditional January sales, so we’ve had plenty of time to dig through the best offers. But of course, we’ve added some brand new ones today too as we start our daily deals coverage with a bang in 2019.

After all, you’re probably back at work soon, so don’t be daft getting involved with those horrible queues at retail park car parks or looking for the non-event deals on the highstreet. Online’s where the best bargains to be had – just like Black Friday. And we’ll save you the time of trawling through loads of different online stores trying to spot the bargains. We’ve got our eye on prices all year round, so we know a good deal when we see one.

So sit back, scroll down a little and you’ll see we’ve listed the best offers of the day so far. We’ll update this page throughout the day and tomorrow too, as some of these deals may go on for a few days – although if you see something you like today, don’t bank on it being around tomorrow, just to be safe.

January sales: quick links

  • Amazon – deals aplenty from the hugely popular online store
  • Argos – electricals, home, toys and more discounted today
  • AO.com – the big sale is live 
  • John Lewis – huge clearance on clothes, home and electricals
  • Currys – up to 40% off home, TV, kitchen, gadgets and more 
  • Very – up to 50% off fashion, home and electricals
  • Mobiles.co.uk – fresh discounts on the latest mobile phones

The best January sales 2018

  • ASOS – save up to 70% on women’s and men’s clothing
  • Boohoo – 30% off everything!
  • Boots – save up to 50%
  • Blacks – half price jackets and boots
  • Carphone Warehouse – packed with exclusive online-only discounts
  • CDKeys.com – save up to 90% on games and XBLG/PS Plus subs
  • DFS – big discounts on some super comfy and stylish sofas
  • Dorothy Perkins – up to 50% off
  • Dreams – save up to 50% on mattresses and beds
  • Dunelm Mill – save up to 50% on furniture, bedding, curtains and rugs
  • eBay – discounts on pretty much everything
  • Expedia – save on combined flights and hotel bookings
  • ExpressVPN – save 49% on a subscription
  • Jack Wills – up to 50% off men’s and women’s clothing
  • Jessops – save up to £600 on cameras, lenses and more
  • LastMinute.com – Flash sales and holidays from £149 per person
  • Levi’s – save up to 50%
  • Living DNA – up to 30% off DNA test kits
  • Lovehoney.co.uk – up to 50% off the hottest adults-only products
  • Microsoft – big discounts on Surface and Xbox products
  • New Look – get ready for 2019 with up to 70% off
  • Newegg – discounts on laptops, computers and parts
  • Next – at least 50% off all sale items
  • Now TV – discounts on Sky TV passes
  • OntheBeach.co.uk – save up to 50% on bookings
  • River Island – save up to 70% on fashion and homeware items
  • Samsung – save on phones, TVs, smartwatches and more
  • Superdry – save up to 50% at the popular fashion brand
  • Timberland – save up to 40% on winter clothing and more
  • TopShop – save up to 70% in this huge sale
  • TopMan – massive 70% reductions to be had today
  • TravelSupermarket – get away from it all with hotels, flights and more
  • Wiggle – get discounted active wear ready for those resolutions

The best January sales picks so far

We’ve shown you where the best January sales are happening today. But we thought we’d also highlight some of favourite individual offers from the best sales we’ve seen, followed by deals in a range of specific categories. We’ll be updating this page throughout the sales, so feel free to keep coming back to check out the freshest discounts.

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  • Check out our full guide to the best cheap TV sales and deals
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  • Check out our full guide to the best cheap laptop deals

Nintendo Switch January sales

PS4 January sales

Xbox One January sales

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  • Don’t miss the full list of Nintendo Switch prices and bundle deals
  • Check out even more PS4 prices and PS4 Pro deals
  • Check out the full list of Xbox One deals and Xbox One X prices
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  • We’ve also rounded up the other Fire TV deals and Amazon Echo prices
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  • See our full range of the best mobile phone deals
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  • We’ve rounded up some extra Fitbit sale prices and cheap smartwatches
  • Check out our full range of broadband deals.
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So who’s having a January sale?

All the big stores get stuck in. With so many keen shoppers going online over the Christmas period in recent years, it’s just too good a chance for them to finish 2018 off with some extra money in the bank and get 2019 off to a good start too. Let’s take a look at the big hitters below and what you can nab from each.

When do the Boxing Day sales start?

Not a silly question at all. As we just said, a lot of stores are starting today and we expect even more will go live on Christmas Day – yes they’re pretty keen. If just before Christmas is the time to scramble for last-minute gifts, anytime from the day itself onwards is the chance to treat yourself or use those gift vouchers to make a great deal a truly spectacular bargain.

When do the January sales start?

Expect an early start here too. Although if we’re going off the last few years, the January sales haven’t been particularly special. It’s been all about the Boxing Day deals really, although we’re pleased to report some of the better ones stayed online a good few days into January. January sales are more of a continuation of the remaining Boxing Day sales so you can probably expect to see many stores simply rebrand the sales to ‘January sales’ the day after Boxing Day on December 27th. 

Given many workplaces are off until around January 2nd, retailers are keen to show you the best deals as soon as possible while you’ve got time off at home rather than try to push deals on you while you’re heading back to work or nursing that New Year’s Eve hangover.

The PC games you need to look out for in 2019

It’s safe to say 2018 was a pretty good year for PC games, so it falls to 2019 to step up to the plate and serve up an even better lineup of must-play titles for your gaming laptop or desktop.

And there’s just so much to look forward to. Rage 2, Gears 5 and Metro Exodus will be giving shooters their due in the months to come, while The Division 2, Anthem and Skull & Bones will aim to raise the bar for the world of online play.

Even the tactical realm of strategy and simulation – staples of the PC scene – are getting new iterations in the form of Imperator Rome, Anno 1800 and Phoenix Point. And those are just some of the ones we know about…

Rage 2

Of all the IP Bethesda could have been revealed in 2018, no one was expecting a sequel to the mostly disappointing 2010 open-world shooter, Rage. 

But with id Software now co-developing with Just Cause and Mad Max developer Avalanche Software, it did just that. And you can really tell developmental duties are now in the hands of the Swedish outfit, with a new focus on over-the-top destruction and creative shooter/vehicle shenanigans.

Rage 2 is a single-player focused experience, with big guns, even bigger buggies and the kind of physics-driven destruction you’d expect from the makers of Just Cause. With a splash of vibrant color it does look very Borderlands, but who’s to say that’s a bad thing?

Anno 1800

After two previous forays into the technology-driven future, Blue Byte’s grand city-building simulation series dials back the clock for Anno 1800. 

The seventh entry in the franchise uses the catalyst that was the Industrial Revolution to drive its engineering mechanics and oceanic combat models.

The result is one of the deepest instalments yet, with a return to the pure city-building blueprint that made the early Annos so enjoyable.

AI opponents will now build and launch offensives on the same map, seasons will change (which will affect your citizens and battles), while an improved trade system and the incredibly helpful ‘Blueprinting’ setup will enable you to plan out your city designs more effectively.

Anthem

With the commercial and critical failure of Mass Effect Andromeda now firmly behind it – and the next mainline Dragon Age entry in development but likely far from release – Canadian developer Bioware is pouring all its efforts in the co-operative open-world RPG that is Anthem.

It’s a third-person shooter where you control a Freelancer, a jet-pack-wielding explorer sent out to search for resources in a dangerous new world.

You play with up to three other players, and you can customise and enhance your exosuit – known as a Javelin – as you progress. 

With a jetpack for flight and improved movement, and dynamic weather patterns that drastically affect the world around you, Anthem promises to be an engaging – if not entirely original – new IP.

Phoenix Point

While the X-COM series has enjoyed something of a return to form in recent years, one of its co-creators has created a new spiritual successor in the form of Phoenix Point. 

Snapshot Games’ turn-based strategy title also uses an alien invasion as the backdrop for its action, although these extraterrestrials have definitely taken a few genetic leaves out of a HP Lovecraft book. The result is something that doffs its cap at X-COM while attempting to do something a little different.

Alien armies will mutate and evolve in response to your tactics, forcing you to adapt your approach to each new skirmish. By using an open-world, you’ll need to compete with other AI-controlled factions for resources, adding a constant need to re-evaluate your position in the war.

Tom Clancy’s The Division 2

Despite some considerable delays – and a few launch issues – The Division (much like most of Ubisoft’s online efforts in the long term) grew into an engrossing experience with a consistent post-launch content map and a really enjoyable PvP mode. Developer Massive is back for the sequel, with the action moving from Manhattan to Washington DC.

The United States is still devastated by a viral infection that crippled the population during Black Friday, with survivors forced into a civil war against gangs of marauders. As a member of The Division, you and squad of three other players will take on AI gangs, search for new gear, join in Destiny 2-style raids and more.

Gears 5

Gears of War 4 wasn’t quite the series refresh that developer The Coalition promised it to be, but then again, the Gears formula became the third-person shooter template for a reason. It works, so why mess with that formula too much? 

Gears 5 shifts the narrative’s focus to Kait Diaz (who served as an AI companion in the previous game, although the story really centered around her character) so this change certainly makes sense for the sequel.

As with previous entries in the series, expect over-the-top vehicle sections, intense cover-based battles and a handful of those towering bosses Gears loves to throw at you. Alongside the single-player campaign, you’ll also be able to play that moreish multiplayer locally via splitscreen and in the usual online lobbies.

Metro Exodus

It’s been quite a while since 4A Games’ post-apocalyptic shooter/survival horror series last made an irradiated splash on PC – almost six years, in fact – but the wait is almost over. 

Metro Exodus has used that time wisely it seems, with a mixture of those familiar claustrophobic tunnels paired with a new focus on sandbox exploration on the surface.

That larger environment means you can explore the devastated Russian landscape and build and enhance new weapons, employ stealth to outwit mutants and fellow survivors and attempt to survive a dynamic weather system that makes every trip topside even more dangerous. 2013’s Metro: Last Light was a triumph, so we hope the third instalment does the series justice.

Skull & Bones

We all suspected that Ubisoft would eventually take the most popular element of 2013’s Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag – that glorious open-ocean sailing and naval combat – and spin it into its own game. 

We just didn’t think it would take six years for said new IP to finally raise anchor and make itself known.

Skull & Bones is the result, and a third-person sandbox where players inhabit the same online ocean and can raid AI-controlled ships or attack one another for their piratical plunder. 

You can customise your ship (and collect new models), head out on treasure hunts and cause untold chaos across the Indian Ocean. No word if you can shoot yourself out of cannon like Sea of Thieves, though…

Total War: Three Kingdoms

Following an extended romp through the fantastical wilds of the Warhammer franchise, The Creative Assembly is returning to the historical wing of the franchise that placed it firmly on the real-time strategy map with Total War: Three Kingdoms.

Set during the titular period in China’s history where multiple factions fought for control of the vast nation, Three Kingdoms will see more of that moreish Total War action – with hundreds of infantry and cavalry battling on screen at once. 

There’s also a new social system that enables you to form alliances with other factions (which can be both a blessing or a curse if your diplomatic skills need some work).

Shenmue III

No 2019 preview would be complete without mentioning one of the most anticipated games of all time. Save Half-Life 3, no other game has been asked for – nay, demanded – as much as Shenmue III and after a surprise reveal at E3 2015, a crowdfunding campaign and lots of delays, 2019 should be the year we finally get to play as Ryo again.

Series co-director Yu Suzuki promises the biggest and most impressive entry in the open-world series yet, with more hand-to-hand combat, beautiful ’80s-set Chinese vistas and all the mundane side-quests you could ever ask for. 

Let’s just hope and pray it doesn’t get delayed yet again…

  • These are the 40 best PC games you can play right now

Android through the ages: the history of Google’s smartphone OS

In the beginning there was Cupcake

2008, when pinch-to-zoom was a right reserved for iPhones and BlackBerrys were still the business, a new kind of smartphone hit the scene: the Android smartphone. 

Starting at version 1.5 for public consumption, Android was launched on the HTC Dream (known as the T-Mobile G1 in the US), a QWERTY keyboard-packing slider phone. Based on a modified version of Linux, Android offered something very different to the iPhone: freedom.

Android 1.5 screen shots

An open source Cupcake

Unlike iOS’s heavily policed, locked-down operating system, Android arrived with the promise of open source everything. Google made access to the Android Market (now called the Google Play Store) freely available, and users could even customize their home screens with widgets, offering in-app functionality from said home screen, no app opening needed.

With Android 1.5, codenamed Cupcake, a new way was born. 

Android 1.6: Donut

Is it an albatross? Is it a jumbo jet? No! It’s the Dell Streak!

Version 1.6 of Android, Doughnut was announced in 2009, and it’s the update we have to blame for today’s giant phones that don’t quite fit in normal-sized pockets.

While Android tablets hadn’t quite taken off by this point, Donut was a step ahead, laying the foundations for the ‘phablet’, and introducing support for more screen sizes than Cupcake.

Big screens ahoy!

The aforementioned 5-inch Dell Streak, for example, despite being small by today’s standards, was a veritable beast when it was launched, and it owed its big screen to advances Donut introduced. 

Other innovative features introduced in Android 1.6 included a text-to-speech engine, universal search and a more complete battery usage screen, so you knew which apps were draining your smartphone dry.

Android 2.0: Eclair

Android 2.0 Eclair

Who knew there was ever a time when you couldn’t have multiple Google accounts on your Android smartphone? We did! 

Eclair, named for the choux pastry French patisserie staple, remedied account limitations and more.

Multi-touch me

But multiple accounts wasn’t the highlight feature of Android 2.0 – oh no. Eclair finally introduced multi-touch to smartphones that weren’t made by Apple (although that created  something of a hoo-ha in itself.)

Take a picture, open it up, pinch to zoom… Android and iOS were in a two-horse race now, and Android was catching up.

Eclair also introduced Google Maps navigation, as well as additional camera modes, live wallpapers and Bluetooth 2.1 support.

Android 2.2: Froyo

Froyo, aka frozen yoghurt, is confectionary number four, and Android version 2.2. Loaded up on classic phones like the Samsung Galaxy S2 and the HTC Incredible S, it marked the point at which Android hardware started to feel more premium, finally doing justice to the OS inside – from Super AMOLED screens bettering the LCDs of iPhones through to excellent industrial design from the likes of HTC.

Get some Froyo on that hotspot

Version 2.2 also introduced a feature that could make Android phones more attractive than iPhones for the everyday user – Froyo’s most practical highlight was most definitely mobile Wi-Fi hotspotting.

While Windows phones had Bluetooth and USB hotspot tools before, the idea of using high-speed Wi-Fi tethering to share your phone’s (then blazingly fast) 3G data with a laptop or even another smartphone was vindication for Android fans the world over.

Apple would take a full year to get the feature onto iPhones, with many carriers still blocking iPhone tethering for some time to come. 

Android 2.3: Gingerbread

Android 2.3 gingerbread

Android Gingerbread didn’t get a new look or feel compared to Froyo, but it did get a host of new features, including support for new sensors, including NFC. Other highlights included internet calling and a new download manager – but none of those were our highlights.

Copy, paste, catch up with Apple

Oh no – our highlight was the seemingly rudimentary and long-overdue copy and paste feature that was giving iPhones the text-editing edge over Androids for over a year: single word selection. 

Before Gingerbread, Android copying was clumsy, given the fact that only entire text boxes could be selected. 2010 saw Google closing the gap, with a long press over a word selecting just that word, and displaying a pop-up menu that included copy and paste options, just like we have on Android phones today. 

Android 3.0: Honeycomb

Remember the Motorola Xoom? No, not the Microsoft Zune – we’re talking about the Motorola tablet that introduced Google’s tablet version of Android, codenamed Honeycomb.

The most striking difference between it and any version of Android we’d seen before was the interface. Introducing ‘Holographic’ UI elements, Google went a bit Tron here – all illuminated lines, gradient halo highlights around objects – and while it didn’t look timeless, it did look cool.

On-screen navigation, the shape of things to come…

Android phones today seldom sport hardware navigation buttons; that’s to say, the back, home and recent apps buttons are in a navigation bar at the bottom of the screen on the biggest phones out now – the Google Pixel 3, Samsung Galaxy S9 and Huawei Mate 20 for example.

Funnily enough, we don’t have a mobile OS to thank for this – it was first introduced in Honeycomb, with the back, home and recent apps buttons displayed in the bottom-left of the home screen.

Android 4.0: Ice Cream Sandwich

Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich

So long physical buttons, hello unified Android typeface!

Ice Cream Sandwich was probably one of the richest updates Android has seen. Available on the Galaxy Nexus and HTC One X, it brought an excellent in-gallery photo editor to the table, as well as a data limiter within the settings. 

The whole look and feel was refined, in line with Honeycomb’s design direction, and it delivered a much richer experience than Android 2.3..

Swipe to dismiss

In hindsight, probably the most pervasive feature introduced in this version was the swipe to dismiss gesture. 

While it had been used by other smartphone manufacturers before, getting Android users comfortable with this little swipe gesture ensured its rise to ubiquity.

Swipe to dismiss interaction has since, for example, shaped email and text message handling, influenced Windows 10’s touchscreen notification management, and is a fundamental component of everyone’s favorite dating app, Tinder.

Android 4.1: Jelly Bean

Android 4.1 jelly bean

Jelly Bean was a tale of three parts: 4.1, 4.2 and 4.3.

4.1 was all about refinements. It took Ice Cream Sandwich and made it smoother, introduced improved support for multiple languages, and automatically resized widgets to fit your home screen.

Android 4.2 was a further refinement, this time polishing the look and feel, making for an excellent-looking tablet UI, showcased well on the Nexus 10, complete with Miracast wireless display projection support.

The final episode – Return of the Jelly Bean, if you will – was a corker for developers, giving them tools to improve UI smoothness, use the latest version of Bluetooth and restrict profiles on devices with multiple user accounts – handy for parents and businesses alike. 

Expandable notifications

Our Jelly Bean highlight? Dragging down with two fingers for expanded notifications. This feature gave users a peak into the details of their most recent updates. So, if your notification read ‘3 new tweets’, a two-finger drag down would expand the notification and showcase who those tweets were from, with a snippet of the message itself. 

Simple, and still in Android today. 

Android 4.4: KitKat

Android 4.4 Kitkat

Emojis on the Google Keyboard, lower RAM requirements paving the way for budget Android phones, and NFC security being bumped up to help make mobile payments a reality – all this and more was loaded inside the Android 4.4 KitKat update.

‘Okay Google, will this ever catch on?’

But it was Google Now becoming a voice assistant that blazed the trail for today’s world of talkative phone assistants and smart speakers.

The always-on microphone and ‘OK Google’ command were introduced alongside KitKat in October 2013, harnessing the power of Google Search.

It paved the way for Apple’s Siri, set to follow in June 2014, and the two-horse mobile OS race was about to splinter into separate smartphone and a voice assistant contests, with Google making the early running.

Android 5.0: Lollipop

Android 5.0 Lollipop

Material Design, Google’s flatter interface that features fewer gradients and a cleaner look than Jelly Bean, debuted on Android 5.0. 

Support for 64-bit architecture was also introduced, helping Android achieve near-parity with desktop operating systems when it came to power potential, as was improved notification handling on lock screens.

Setting the scene for wearables

But the hidden gem within Android Lollipop was support for Bluetooth LE, or low energy. 

This feature meant that wearable technology could finally exist without draining your phone’s battery dry. With lower battery demands, Bluetooth LE also enabled manufacturers to create smartwatches and fitness trackers with low-capacity batteries, small enough to fit inside a device that looked good and which could be worn comfortably. 

Android 6.0: Marshmallow

Android 6.0 Marshmallow

Launching on the Nexus 5X and Nexus 6P, these Marshmallow devices introduced USB-C ports and fingerprint scanners to the Nexus line.

As for the software, app security was tightened up with element-specific permissions prompting users to grant access to apps that needed to use things like their camera, phone etc.

Android 6.0 also supported MicroSD card integration into internal storage – handy for phones with under 16GB storage, though this feature has since been removed.

Doze mode

For a second time in a row, a battery saving feature is our Android highlight.

If you left your Marshmallow phone unplugged and stationary for a period of time with the screen off, apps go into standby and Doze mode is activated

This saved battery power and cemented Android as the operating system to go for if you wanted the battery edge, with Android hardware packing higher capacity batteries than iPhones, and its software optimised to take advantage of them.

Android 7.0: Nougat

Android 7.0 Nougat

Quick app switching by double-tapping the recent apps key, gender and race-specific emojis, separate home and lock screen wallpapers… Android Nougat made things both more functional and more attractive, but it also borrowed something from Samsung.

Split-screen multitasking

Having introduced split-screen multitasking on its Note line, Samsung was ahead of the curve. Google lifted the experience, and made it part of stock Android 7 over a year later, allowing one half of the screen to be used for one app, and the other half for another.

Google did do some cool stuff with the feature – Android 7 offered split-screen handling of two Chrome tabs for example, and even supported dragging and dropping of an image file across tabs. 

Android 8.0: Oreo

Android 8.0 Oreo

Shiny new battery menus and notification dots on app icons – Android Oreo brought with it a slew of refinements to the UI, not to mention better storage management, with a new file browser and more granular storage control within the settings.

Floating videos are cool, right?

But the highlight feature everybody wanted, and never ended up using when it launched, was picture-in-picture, another feature introduced by Samsung and later adopted by Google for stock Android. 

This little floating video window showcases a video in your UI, so you can get on with Twitter scrolling without having to stop watching your favorite show.

While initially it was awkward to activate and, frankly, a bit useless, now it’s reaching fruition, with apps like Netflix, WhatsApp and YouTube having adopted support for it.

Android 9.0: Pie

Android 9.0 Pie

We’re finally all caught up. Google’s 2018/19 build of Android, Android 9.0, aka Pie, is the freshest version shipping on the latest and greatest hardware, including the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL.

Loaded up with notch support, improved battery smarts and a revamped UI, complete with iPhone X-esque navigations, Android Pie is gearing Google smartphones up for their impending all-screen, bezel-free futures.

A side serving of social responsibility 

Digital Wellbeing is a suite of services available in Beta right now as part of the Android P update. Including elements like a dashboard to help you better understand your app usage, it’s all about using your phone a bit less, or at least a bit more mindfully.

Additional tools range from app limiters through to a grayscale mode to give your eyes a break, as well as a wind-down feature, to help you disconnect at the end of a working day. 

With Google having iterated over 14 versions of Android, servicing more than two billion users, it’s a fitting conclusion to the current chapter that the big G has shifted focus to Digital Wellbeing, given the operating system’s vast reach.

Q is for… ?

But what about the shape of things to come? Android 10 will likely drop in the second half of 2019, and we already know it’s coming to the new Essential Phone.

As for its name, the distinct lack of confectionaries beginning with the letter ‘Q’ is keeping everyone guessing. Keep checking in with TechRadar throughout 2019 for the latest updates on Android Q, and to find out more about Pie, read our Android 9.0 overview. 

  • Brought to you in association with Nokia and Android One, helping you to make more of your smartphone. You can learn more about the new Nokia 7.1 here, and you’ll find more great advice on getting the most from your phone here. 

The best January sales: these top deals are live now

The January sales are stepping things up a notch now with many stores kicking off their discounts a few days early. So if you didn’t get time to check out the deals for Boxing Day, don’t worry one bit. We’ve just updated this article and are happy to report most of the best deals are still going strong.

After all, you’ve surely got better things to be doing on the Christmas break queuing to enter and leave a retail park’s car park or trying to work out who is having a decent sale from the huge number of UK retailer websites, sifting through what they’re claiming to be epic deals when you know full well you’ve seen them cheaper elsewhere on the same day. So let us do it for you. We’ve rounded up the finest, genuine ones right here!

So yes sit back, scroll down a little and you’ll see we’ve started to list the best offers so far. We’ll be updating this page throughout the Christmas break right up until the dust has cleared on these January sales too.

January sales: quick links

  • Amazon – deals aplenty from the hugely popular online store
  • Argos – electricals, home, toys and more discounted today
  • AO.com – the big sale is live 
  • John Lewis – huge clearance on clothes, home and electricals
  • Currys – up to 40% off home, TV, kitchen, gadgets and more 
  • Very – up to 50% off fashion, home and electricals
  • Mobiles.co.uk – fresh discounts on the latest mobile phones

The best January sales 2018

  • ASOS – save up to 70% on women’s and men’s clothing
  • Boohoo – 30% off everything!
  • Boots – save up to 50%
  • Blacks – half price jackets and boots
  • Carphone Warehouse – packed with exclusive online-only discounts
  • CDKeys.com – save up to 90% on games and XBLG/PS Plus subs
  • DFS – big discounts on some super comfy and stylish sofas
  • Dorothy Perkins – up to 50% off
  • Dreams – save up to 50% on mattresses and beds
  • Dunelm Mill – save up to 50% on furniture, bedding, curtains and rugs
  • eBay – discounts on pretty much everything
  • Expedia – save on combined flights and hotel bookings
  • ExpressVPN – save 49% on a subscription
  • Jack Wills – up to 50% off men’s and women’s clothing
  • Jessops – save up to £600 on cameras, lenses and more
  • LastMinute.com – Flash sales and holidays from £149 per person
  • Levi’s – save up to 50%
  • Living DNA – up to 30% off DNA test kits
  • Lovehoney.co.uk – up to 50% off the hottest adults-only products
  • Microsoft – big discounts on Surface and Xbox products
  • New Look – get ready for New Year’s with 60% off
  • Newegg – discounts on laptops, computers and parts
  • Next – at least 50% off all sale items
  • Now TV – discounts on entertainment, cinema, kids and sports passes
  • OntheBeach.co.uk – save up to 50% on bookings
  • River Island – save up to 70% on fashion and homeware items
  • Samsung – save on phones, TVs, smartwatches and more
  • Superdry – save up to 50% at the popular fashion brand
  • Timberland – save up to 40% on winter clothing and more
  • TopShop – save up to 70% in this huge sale
  • TopMan – massive 70% reductions to be had today
  • TravelSupermarket – get away from it all with hotels, flights and more
  • Wiggle – get discounted active wear ready for those resolutions

The best January sales picks so far

We’ve shown you where the best January sales are happening today. But we thought we’d also highlight some of favourite individual offers from the best sales we’ve seen, followed by deals in a range of specific categories. We’ll be updating this page throughout the sales, so feel free to keep coming back to check out the freshest discounts.

  • Back to the top ^
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  • Check out our full guide to the best cheap TV sales and deals
  • Back to the top ^
  • Check out our full guide to the best cheap laptop deals

Nintendo Switch January sales

PS4 January sales

Xbox One January sales

  • Back to the top ^
  • Don’t miss the full list of Nintendo Switch prices and bundle deals
  • Check out even more PS4 prices and PS4 Pro deals
  • Check out the full list of Xbox One deals and Xbox One X prices
  • Back to the top ^
  • We’ve also rounded up the other Fire TV deals and Amazon Echo prices
  • Back to the top ^ 
  • See our full range of the best mobile phone deals
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  • We’ve rounded up some extra Fitbit sale prices and cheap smartwatches
  • Check out our full range of broadband deals.
  • Back to the top ^

So who’s having a January sale?

All the big stores get stuck in. With so many keen shoppers going online over the Christmas period in recent years, it’s just too good a chance for them to finish 2018 off with some extra money in the bank. Let’s take a look at the big hitters below and what you can nab from each.

When do the Boxing Day sales start?

Not a silly question at all. As we just said, a lot of stores are starting today and we expect even more will go live on Christmas Day – yes they’re pretty keen. If just before Christmas is the time to scramble for last-minute gifts, anytime from the day itself onwards is the chance to treat yourself or use those gift vouchers to make a great deal a truly spectacular bargain.

When do the January sales start?

Expect an early start here too. Although if we’re going off the last few years, the January sales haven’t been particularly special. It’s been all about the Boxing Day deals really, although we’re pleased to report some of the better ones stayed online a good few days into January. January sales are more of a continuation of the remaining Boxing Day sales so you can probably expect to see many stores simply rebrand the sales to ‘January sales’ the day after Boxing Day on December 27th. 

Given many workplaces are off until around January 2nd, retailers are keen to show you the best deals as soon as possible while you’ve got time off at home rather than try to push deals on you while you’re heading back to work or nursing that New Year’s Eve hangover.

9 New Year’s resolutions smartphone manufacturers should make

Some of you may be working on your 2019 resolutions. Want to try being vegan for a month, start doing to the gym again or stop stealing from the stationery cupboard at work because it’s all getting a bit out of hand? Good for you.

But, as we all know – hand on heart – giant companies are citizens too. According to the 14th amendment, corporations are afforded some of the protections of personhood. So why shouldn’t they have to make some New Year’s resolutions too?

Here are the 2019 resolutions the smartphone giants should adopt. For their phones. For us. And for the world. Amen.

Stop assuming we can spend half our income on phones

One of the scariest developments in phones over 2018 was the flirting with the $1000/£1000 price boundary. Heck, Apple even sailed right across it with the iPhone XS Max.

How about we get real, and realize that most of us can’t, don’t want to, or really shouldn’t, spend this much on a phone? Sadly, this one is likely to happen as your pledge to go to the gym four times a week, every week.

The latest news suggests we’ll see even more expensive phones next year, with 5G models reportedly commanding a $300 premium over this year’s priciest phones. 

For those willing to spend that much we ask: how fast do you need to stream YouTube videos, exactly?

Bring back the headphone jack (what did it ever do to you?)

Changes in mobile phone tech usually get us a bit excited. But the whole “ditch the headphone jack” thing? There’s not much to excite there.

And why is it happening? You can make water resistant phones with headphone jacks, last time we checked those sockets don’t cost $100 in parts, and claims phones can no longer fit them in seem deeply suspicious when the things didn’t suddenly get smaller when jack sockets were wrenched out.

Some lobbyists from big headphone must have some dirt on the big phone-makers or something. Saying that, most phone-makers now make wireless earphones or headphones too. 

You won, we all bought wireless sets. Can we just have the jack back now?

Get over this glass obsession

For the past two years, phone makers have nailed glass designs. We’ve seen matte ones, super curvy ones. There are even phones, like the Google Pixel 3 XL, that you could mistake for aluminium from a distance.

It’s time for an intervention. Phone companies need to get over this glass obsession in 2019.

Let’s not just roll back onto the familiar combination of aluminium and plastic, though. There are other options out there in the world. The obvious one, as tried and tested as glass or plastic, is magnesium.

There are magnesium alloy tablets and laptops. And this metal is tougher and lighter than aluminium. And unlike glass it won’t smash if you drop it on the sidewalk from the wrong angle.

Expandable storage for all

Phone developers can act like annoying live-in parents sometimes. Bear with us on this one.

Don’t use something for a while and they quietly file it away into the bin while you’re not looking. It happened to IR blasters, now headphone jacks and microSD card slots are in the great cleaner-upper’s targets.

Granted, a lot of phones now have lots of storage. But with a half dozen flavors of apocalypse looming, you’ll want a good amount of local content stored, loads of storage space and a solar charger handy. Well, unless we manage to scorch the sky, but a stack of 90s club classics and every episode of Friends won’t get you too far then anyway.

Bring back the headphone jack. Bring back the microSD slot. The IR blaster can stay in the past, though.

Get over the notch obsession

We’re over 18 months into the era of the notch. And phones like the Pixel 3 XL prove maybe it is time for something new. Or old, like no notch at all.

Remember when phones didn’t have miniature trunks hanging down from the top of their screens? A half-desperate way to convince us our last phone was out-of-date and in need of a cab to eBay, or the dusty drawer in the spare room? 

Notches make it seem like your screen is bigger without actually making it more useful, as movies, games and articles don’t flow around those lines.

But what will we actually get in 2019? The notch will still be around, but top phones will also use punch holes, which are like notches just large enough to fit around the front camera.

Don’t forget security

Here’s one for the Android phone makers. Android security updates are like taking a ten-minute meditation during busy weeks or forcing yourself to do exercise. You might not feel the difference from missing it once, but you’ll be much better off in the long run if you stick to the plan.

Google releases monthly security updates for the Android platform. And how many phones actually get them? Hardly any, not regularly at any rate. Without these updates your mobile is more vulnerable.

Some phones are barely updated after launch, in any fashion. It’s time to shape up. We do have to give a prop or two to Sony here, though. Often when we return to a Sony phone to write a feature, there are often a half-dozen updates to trawl through.

Discover camera enlightenment beyond 12MP

For years almost every top phone camera has used a 12MP sensor, usually one made by Sony. Sure, we know this approach works, and increasing resolution adds its own issues, caused by a shrinking of sensor pixels that reduces how much light a sensor gets to make up each pixel in the image.

But it’s now time for phone-makers to give up the burdens of 2018 and follow their 2019 bliss, as Gwyneth Paltrow might say when not trying to sell you an avocado enema.

It looks like this progress will happen in 2019 too. And once again it’s mostly thanks to Sony. In July it revealed the IMX586, a 48MP sensor for phones.

To the camera traditionalist, this sounds like a bad idea. Tiny sensor pixels means bad low-light performance and dynamic range. However, we’re in the era of computational photography, which effectively lets a phone bunch together several of these pixels to boost performance when light isn’t perfect.

It’d likely take 12MP images, until you switch on the “Pro” mode and force the full-res capture, which could work brilliantly on a sunny day. And we can’t wait to see what the big smartphone names do with it.

Cheap phones deserve color too

Remember a few years ago, roughly 45 years in smartphone terms, during good old days of Nokia Lumia phones? Bright and colorful they were. So cheery they’d put a smile on your face just to look at the cute little palm sized things. What happened to fun, affordable phones? 

Today just about the only phone that brings some of that bold color to the party is the iPhone XR. And if you think that’s affordable, you’re wrong.

Phone-makers are now pros at making sub-$200 phones seem like ones that would have cost $600 or more a few years ago. But it’s time to bring the fun back with some bold shades that don’t try to look like the equivalent a TV host’s shiny suit. 

Make it bold, make it pastel if you like. Just don’t make it all-black.

Use bigger batteries, please (again)

This resolution turns up every year. We still want phones that last longer, between charges. Break it down honestly and you’ll probably find this is more useful than 5G, more useful than a slightly better camera or a phone that folds.

Oddly enough, it seems some phone makers actually listened to this one in 2018, and ended up making some real bruisers in the budget category like the Moto G6 Play. A phone that lasts longer is much easier to live with.

It’s not necessarily about being able to spend four extra hours poring over Instagram and Twitter, but having the extra juice so you can forget about the thing, without worrying whether it’ll have enough power left for some Spotify on the way home. 

The big names in phones need to swallow their engineering pride and let a phone get slightly thicker for reasons other than fitting in a crazy camera or some new hardware most will barely use.

  • Folding phones: the future of the smartphone, or just another fad?