Reviews round-up: 14 bits of kit we've checked out in the past month

From Apple's refreshed MacBooks to Nokia's reborn 'banana phone', here are 14 devices our reviewers got their hands on during August.
By ZDNET Editors, Contributor
1 of 14 Apple

Apple 15-inch MacBook Pro (2018)

The 2018 15-inch MacBook Pro delivers impressive performance -- especially if you add the Core i9 upgrade we tested. The fact that the MacBook Pro can accommodate a powerful CPU and GPU without increasing its size or weight -- or affecting battery life -- is no mean feat either. There are few laptops that combine heavyweight performance and lightweight design so effectively, and MacBook owners will see it as a tempting upgrade. If they can afford it, that is.

For more see: Apple 15-inch MacBook Pro (2018): Impressive performance at a premium price

2 of 14 Apple

Apple 13-inch MacBook Pro (2018)

The price may not have changed since last year, but the 2018 version of the 13-inch MacBook Pro does deliver stronger performance and good battery life, which help to justify its premium price tag. However, the lack of a discrete GPU remains a weakness in a 'pro' laptop, and suggests that Apple still has some lost ground to make up with its loyal professional users.

For more see: Apple MacBook Pro (13-inch, 2018) review: Quad-core CPU and all-day battery life

3 of 14 Samsung

Samsung Galaxy Note 9

We believe there is no doubt this is the best Note ever -- and Note fans are sure to enjoy the experience. The Bluetooth S Pen was a surprise, as we didn't think it was possible to get a stylus with a Bluetooth radio and ability to hold a charge in such a slim device. We believe the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 is a fantastic bit of kit.

For more see: Samsung Galaxy Note 9 review: Big battery and superb S Pen experience power productivity

4 of 14 Jason Cipriani/ZDNet

Motorola Moto Z3

Motorola's light touch with customising Android, combined with the lag-free performance, impressive display, and lengthy battery life, make the Z3 and its $480 price tag incredibly attractive. But don't let yourself get caught up in the 5G craze and buy this phone in anticipation of its eventual rollout.

For more see: Motorola Moto Z3 review: Don't buy this phone for its 5G promise

5 of 14 Dell

Dell Latitude 7490

Dell's 14-inch Latitude 7490 is a robust business laptop with good battery life and strong all-round performance. It's tough enough to travel well, if a little on the heavy side. It is probably worth testing the keyboard before taking the plunge, because there's more key travel than usual and the laptop's narrow Enter key might be a deal breaker for some.

For more see: Dell Latitude 7490 review: A solid business all-rounder

6 of 14 Acer

Acer Swift 7

The Swift 7 isn't as powerful as you might expect from a laptop costing well over £1,500/$1,500, so if you're looking for a professional-level laptop capable of running high-end graphics or design software then look elsewhere. However, the Swift 7's strength lies in its combination of an attractive 14-inch display, wrapped up in a slim and sturdy design that weighs just 1.2kg.

For more see: Acer Swift 7 review: Slim and lightweight, with some trade-offs

7 of 14 Honor

Honor 7A and Honor 7S

Buying an ultra-low cost smartphone might prove to be a false economy. Neither of these budget phones does Honor proud. In particular, the company needs to address the poor performance that's the main drawback of both handsets.

For more see: Honor 7A and Honor 7S, First Take: False economies?

8 of 14 Alun Taylor/ZDNet

Xiaomi Redmi 5 Plus

So is the Redmi 5 Plus really the best sub-£200 phone in the world? The case can definitely be made. The looks, performance and build quality all belie the price. The Moto G6 by contrast, although a good £200 phone, looks, feels and performs like a £200 phone. Add to that the impressive battery life, and high quality of the display, and we can't imagine anyone being disappointed.

For more see: Xiaomi Redmi 5 Plus review: Is this the best sub-£200 phone in the world?

9 of 14 Cho Mu-Hyun/ZDNet

​Samsung Galaxy Tab S4

Samsung Galaxy Tab S4 is the company's latest 2-in-1 premium tablet. It is a multifaceted device designed to meet any productivity need and delivers a lot, yet it falls just short of re-establishing the tablet as an essential consumer product level with smartphones or notebooks.

For more see: Samsung Galaxy Tab S4 review: A versatile productivity booster that falls just short

10 of 14 Lenovo

Lenovo ThinkPad X380 Yoga

Lenovo's ThinkPad X380 Yoga is the latest iteration of a classic design. Its 13.3-inch 360-degree rotating screen may come in handy for a range of different situations, and the fact that the keyboard locks out when the screen is rotated is most welcome. There are some niggles but this convertible laptop may hit a sweet spot for many.

For more see: Lenovo ThinkPad X380 Yoga review: A classy 13-inch 360-degree convertible

11 of 14 Dell

Dell OptiPlex 5260

The OptiPlex 5260's modest exterior appearance belies the excellent performance of the six-core processor that lurks inside. It's versatile too, with good connectivity and an adjustable landscape/portrait display that can handle a wide range of applications. At just over £800, Dell's OptiPlex 5260 is hard to fault if you need a compact and reliable workhorse PC for your office.

For more see: Dell OptiPlex 5260 review: Compact business AIO with strong performance at a competitive price

12 of 14 palmsolo/ZDNet

Samsung Galaxy Watch

The hardware is stunning and we loved the look and feel of the 46mm silver Galaxy Watch. It is easy to swap out bands and it is very comfortable to wear. The Galaxy Watch could be improved with the inclusion of Google Assistant, but since it is based on Tizen that just isn't going to happen. The voice assistant is definitely a major weakness of the watch.

For more see: Samsung Galaxy Watch review: Fantastic hardware, full-featured activity tracking, and a terrible voice assistant

13 of 14 Moleskine

​Moleskine Pen+ Ellipse

The Moleskine Pen+ Ellipse and Smart Diary/Planner is an unexpectedly charming package. The ability to digitise your notes offers the chance of their being remembered and acted upon. We're used to cramming ever more apps and functions into our laptops and smartphones to make us more efficient; the attractiveness of Moleskine's setup is what it leaves out.

For more see: Moleskine Pen+ Ellipse: Smart note-taking cuts out digital distractions

14 of 14 Nokia

Nokia 8110 4G

It would be unfair to compare the 8110 4G to a modern Android smartphone as that's not what it is trying to compete with. In some respects it isn't competing with anything except our own level of interest in a handset that's a modern take on an old classic. But drawbacks include the low-resolution camera and a non-touch screen that relies on the D-pad for scrolling -- a slow, painful experience. We'd have liked to see the designers go just a little further in some areas.

For more see: Nokia 8110 4G, First Take: The 'banana phone' reborn

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