Microsoft Surface Book 3, Lenovo ThinkBook Plus, OnePlus Nord, Huawei P40 Pro+, and more: ZDNet's reviews round-up

From Microsoft's heavyweight Surface Book 3 to the great-value OnePlus Nord and the latest wireless earbuds, here's the hardware we tested in July.
By ZDNET Editors, Contributor
1 of 13 Sebaztian Barns / ZDNet

Microsoft Surface Book 3

The most obvious visual to the Surface Book 3 is its distinctive hinge. To our mind, the Surface Book would be much better served if the hinge did what it looked like it should be able to do, that is, flip all the way around to allow the display to rest on the back of the base. But for a top-of-the-line laptop that also has a top-of-the-line price, there is a lot to like about the Surface Book 3. And if battery capacity is a key decider for your next purchase, you'll be very happy with this hefty laptop.

For more see: Microsoft Surface Book 3: A beast with staying power and a price to match

2 of 13 Lenovo

Lenovo ThinkBook Plus

Lenovo's idea of putting a second screen on the front of the ThinkBook Plus, turning what's usually dead space into an area for productive use, is laudable. The E-Ink screen's functionality is limited, though. Elsewhere, the ThinkBook Plus is a well-made, nicely designed laptop with an ergonomic keyboard and a serviceable main screen. It could do with a second USB-C port and better battery life, but it's certainly an intriguing development for the traditional clamshell laptop.

For more see: Lenovo ThinkBook Plus review: Second E-Ink screen adds an extra dimension

3 of 13 OnePlus

OnePlus Nord

OnePlus has done a good job with the Nord. It has a distinctive appearance, a great AMOLED screen and good front and rear cameras. In addition it supports 5G and two SIMs, the Oxygen OS is subtle but accomplished, the fast charging works a treat, and the alert slider is something every handset maker should emulate. On the downside, battery life is average, sound quality isn't great, and the speaker is easily muffled when you hold the phone in landscape mode. Still, as affordable phones go, the OnePlus Nord seems to have got the mix just about right.

For more see: OnePlus Nord review: A great-value mid-range 5G smartphone

4 of 13 Sandra Vogel / ZDNet

Huawei P40 Pro+

The P40 Pro+ is another extremely frustrating handset from Huawei. It's beautifully designed, with a great AMOLED screen, good battery life, a high-end 5G chipset, plus plenty of RAM and internal storage. And the five-camera array at the back is superb, provided you don't overdo the digital zoom. But without access to Google apps and services, it's hard to recommend at the price.

For more see: Huawei P40 Pro+, hands on: A top-class flagship phone with super-zoom camera system, but no Google services

5 of 13 LG

LG Gram 17

LG has set a challenging benchmark for other manufacturers in terms of portability, with the LG Gram 17 weighing less than some 14-inch laptops. But there are questions around design strength, despite the MIL-STD-810G rating, and performance. The battery should comfortably deliver a full day's work, and the screen's easily selectable reading mode is a nice touch. There are plenty of ports and connectors, too. If you're attracted by the 17-inch screen and lightweight chassis, and your workloads aren't too demanding, the LG Gram 17 (2020) should fit the bill nicely.

For more see: LG Gram 17 (2020) review: A portable and long-lasting 17-inch laptop, but performance disappoints

6 of 13 Dell

Dell XPS 15 9500 (2020)

The Dell XPS 15 9500 (2020) is a heavy laptop with a sturdy chassis. The minimal-bezel screen, at least on the UHD+ model we reviewed, is extraordinarily good. In this respect, Dell sets a benchmark for other manufacturers. The large touchpad is a pleasure to work with. There's room for improvement in battery life, although it's asking a lot for true all-day battery life from a laptop running a high-resolution 3840-by-2400-pixel screen. Still, even with that caveat, the XPS 15 9500 (2020) sets a new high bar for 15.6-inch laptops.

For more see: Dell XPS 15 9500 (2020) review: Still the 15-inch laptop to beat

7 of 13 palmsolo / ZDNet

Samsung Galaxy XCover Pro

The Samsung Galaxy XCover Pro is targeted to the enterprise market and is one of the best rugged phones we've tested. Unlike bulky rugged phones of the past, the XCover Pro has dimensions that match other standard smartphones, while offering better protection from the elements and accidents. Frontline workers, first responders, and other field workers will appreciate the long battery life, smooth performance, and solid communication features of the Samsung Galaxy XCover Pro.

For more see: Samsung Galaxy XCover Pro review: Affordable rugged phone built for field work

8 of 13 Charles McLellan / ZDNet

Cat S42

The Cat S42 is something of a mixed bag. It's properly rugged, affordable at £229, offers good enterprise features, and the battery life is excellent. On the other hand, the combination of the Helio A20 chipset, 3GB of RAM and 32GB of internal storage is distinctly entry-level. Organisations with budgetary constraints may find the Cat S42 adequate for their needs, but Samsung's renewed push into the enterprise rugged smartphone space with the $499.99/£529 Galaxy XCover Pro will be tempting if cost is less of an issue.

For more see: Cat S42 review: Rugged and enterprise-ready, with great battery life but sluggish performance

9 of 13 Sandra Vogel / ZDNet

Honor Magic Earbuds

Honor, the Huawei sub-brand, has launched a number of headphone products, including the £89.99 (inc. VAT) Honor Magic Earbuds. On the usability front, we found the touch controls worked a treat. Music sounds fine unless you need a lot of bass. Volume goes loud enough, although it does lose fidelity at the top of the range. Anyone looking for a serviceable set of true wireless earbuds at an acceptable price should consider the Honor Magic Earbuds.

For more see: Honor Magic Earbuds, hands on: Capable and affordable, but battery life could be better

10 of 13 palmsolo / ZDNet


LG has partnered with Meridian in providing a customized equalizer and headphone spatial processing. Music sounds excellent with this headset, including bass levels. Phone calls also did well with this headset. While there is no active noise-cancellation, the sound isolation, loud volume, and rocking performance offer a solid audio experience. The $150 price is reasonable given the long six-hour battery life, IPX4 water resistance, wireless charging case, excellent fit, and awesome sound.

For more see: LG TONE Free HBS-FN6 review: Wireless earbuds with UVnano bacteria system, wireless charging case, six hour playback

11 of 13 palmsolo / ZDNet

RHA TrueConnect 2

The sound quality was excellent on the first TrueConnect headset, as expected from RHA Audio, and the TrueConnect 2 improves upon that audio experience with a refined sound signature and more volume. The touch controls work flawlessly and we love the quick and easy volume control while our phone is stored away. With the TrueConnect 2 available for $20 less than the TrueConnect, and less than most other truly wireless earbuds, this is definitely a wireless earbud to seriously consider. 

For more see: RHA TrueConnect 2 wireless earbuds review: Nine hour battery life beats all other competitors

12 of 13 palmsolo / ZDNet

Garmin Instinct Solar

In 2018, Garmin launched the Instinct line of GPS sports watches with a focus on rugged design for unrestricted outdoor adventures. It's latest announcement brings solar charging capability to three editions, with solar support also launching on the Fenix 6/6S and tactix Delta. A wearable that you rarely have to think of charging -- that captures all your daily activity, including sleep, and focused GPS events -- is refreshing and key to remaining on your wrist. 

For more see: Garmin Instinct Solar first look review: Rugged outdoor GPS sports watch powered by the sun

13 of 13 Sandra Vogel / ZDNet

Kobo Nia

Kobo has been in the ebook reader market for a while and the latest addition to the range is the entry-level Nia, a 6-inch device that costs £89.99 (inc. VAT)/$99.96. The Kobo Nia is a neat little thing. If you're looking for an alternative to the usual entry-level suspect, and you want a wide range of file support, including easy linking to public library ebook loans, the Kobo Nia is definitely worth considering.

For more see: Kobo Nia, hands on: A capable competitor for the entry-level Kindle

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