Thursday, 25 January 2018

How to use the Photos app for Mac

Welcome to our complete guide to setting up and using Photos on the Mac. In this feature we cover all elements of Photos for Mac, including: converting from iPhoto and Aperture to Photos; iCloud Photo Library; Shared Photos; building Books, Calendar, Card, Slideshow and Prints; Edit mode and non-destructive edits; the People feature and Memories.

We also have the lowdown on all the new features in Photos in macOS High Sierra, including the updated interface and editing Live Photos. Additional reporting by Keir Thomas and Karen Haslam

What is Photos for Mac?

The goal of the Photos app is twofold:

1. To bring to your Mac the same simple yet powerful photo management experience that we"re all used to on the iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch, not only in functionality but also in terminology - Photos understands HDR, for example, and applies an icon label to each to the HDR versions of your snapshots. And to bring to your Mac iCloud Photo Library, which syncs your snapshots harmoniously and invisibly via the cloud.

2. When Apple launched Photos, it stopped developing iPhoto and Aperture. They will still run on your Mac but they are no longer available on the App Store and won"t be updated. However, if you need to re-download them, they are still listed in the Purchases tab on the Mac App Store (though if you installed Aperture from a DVD, rather than buying it on the App Store, it won"t be there).

Photos uses the same sharing and extensions system as iOS and other modern Mac apps. So you"ll see the familiar Share Sheet icon in the toolbar. From here you can share the selected photo or photos on Facebook, Twitter, in Messages or in any app you"ve enabled in the Internet Accounts section of System Preferences.

How to use Photos on Mac

Photos lets you share your photos and albums using the same built-in OS X technology by which you can share files or snippets of text

How to convert your library

If you use only iPhoto and have only one library, when you launch Photos for the first time, it will automatically import that library and you"ll be able to view, edit, organise and share the photos in it. Photos uses the same library file, rather than creating a new one, so doesn"t need more hard drive space to store photos.

If you have more than one iPhoto Library, or if you use iPhoto and Aperture, or just Aperture, Photos will give you the option to import a library the first time you launch it. You"ll see the libraries Photos has identified listed in a window. Click on the one you want and click "Choose Library" to import it.

If you don"t see the library you want to import, click "Other Library…" and navigate to the library you want to import. (Pro tip: Photos expects your iPhoto and Aperture libraries to be inside your Pictures folder in your Home folder. If you store them somewhere else, you"ll need to use the manual option).

If you want to add more than one library, close Photos after importing the first one and re-open it while holding down the Alt key, then choose the library you want to import from the list, as before. You can also drag an iPhoto or Aperture library file onto the Photos icon in the Dock to open it.

Once you"ve imported a library from iPhoto or Aperture, you"ll still be able to use iPhoto or Aperture, but any changes you make in those apps won"t be reflected in Photos, and vice versa.

When you import a library from iPhoto, iPhoto Events, including Photo Streams, are turned into albums in Photos and are stored in an album, visible in the Albums section of the sidebar, called iPhoto Events. Click on the arrow next to iPhoto Events to see them.

How to use Photos on Mac: Migration

It"s best to avoid using iPhoto or Aperture once you"ve upgraded to Photos because edits or changes won"t be synced

Designate a System Photo Library

If you import multiple libraries, you"ll need to designate one as a System Photo Library. This library has special status because it"s the one that iMovie, Pages, Keynote and other apps are able to access.

To specify a System Photo Library, first quit Photos. Re-open it with the Alt key held down. You"ll see a list of your imported photo libraries and one of them will have the words System Photo Library in brackets after it. Click on the one you want to designate and click Choose Library.

When Photos opens, go to Photos>Preferences and click General. At the top of the window, you"ll see the library location displayed. Click "Use as System Photo Library" underneath. Now that library will be accessible from other applications.

(If you"d like to edit together your best photos and videos to make a Home Movie here"s how to do it in Memories).

iCloud Photo Library

Although Photo Streams still stick around, Photos will next ask if you want to also use iCloud Photo Library. If you decide to make the switch you may need to enable the identical option within the Photos & Camera section of the Settings app of your iOS devices too. Pro tip: You can access your iCloud Photo Library via the iCloud website - just click the Photos icon.

iCloud Photo Library simply stores all your photos online, regardless of how you come about them. They might be new pics you take with your iPhone, or photos you import from a dedicated camera via the Photos app on your Mac. It"s kind of like a backup of your entire photo library, combined with ease of access from any of your Apple hardware.

Should you select to use iCloud Photo Library, Photos will attempt to sync all the photos in your existing library. Unless you only ever take photos at birthdays and weddings you"re probably going to have to upgrade your iCloud storage to make space, and Photos will very kindly prompt you to do so if needed. On our test setup we had to upgrade to the £2.99 per month 200GB option, for example. This is only the cost of a cup of coffee every month but, whatever your needs, it"s extremely unlikely you"ll be able to use iCloud Photo Library without paying Apple a monthly subscription.

How to use Photos on Mac: iCloud Photo Library

Uploading your existing snapshots to iCloud Photo Library is likely to take a very long time!

Note that syncing your entire library with iCloud Photo Library when you set up Photos is likely to take a very long time, especially considering nearly all UK users have slow upload speeds as part of their broadband packages. Put it this way: we used Photos for the first time a week ago and it"s still syncing.

Additionally, on our test MacBook Pro setup the machine frequently got hot enough for the fans to spin wildly. The iCloud section of Photos" preferences dialog offers an syncing progress display, as well as the option to pause uploading for a day if you have to do other urgent things via your Internet connection. When the Photos tab is selected you"ll also see an upload count at the bottom of the photos listing.

For related advice, read: How to use iCloud Photo sharing and iCloud Photo Library.

Learning the interface

So, assuming Photos has converted your existing photos library and you"ve configured iCloud Photo Library, let"s take an eagle"s eye view of Photo"s main interface.

Running along the top is a thin toolbar that always stays put, although its options might change depending on which of the tabs you have selected, as follows.

How to use the Photos app on Mac: Organisation

Photos interface is simple and splits into four main views: Photos, Shared, Albums and Projects

Photos: This lists your photos by the time they were taken, with the newest at the bottom of the list. They"re further organised by location: if you took some photos across an afternoon within the same general location then Photos will likely bunch them together in one group.

Shared: Here you can view any photo streams you"ve shared or that have been shared with you. However, creating a new shared album or adding photos to an existing stream isn"t handled here. Instead, you must select the photos in either Album or Photos view, then click the Share button at the top right of the program window, before selecting iCloud Photo Sharing.

Albums: You can create your own private albums in which to organise photos, including Smart Albums that automatically contain photos based on certain criteria such as the camera used, or location. Just click the plus button on the toolbar when this tab is selected. However, Photos also comes with several readymade albums that organise photos according certain characteristics. Of particular interest is the All Photos album, that lets you see all your photos listed from old to new, without any kind of organisation, as with the Photos tab.

How to use the Photos app on Mac: Albums

New albums can be created by clicking the plus icon on the toolbar and selecting from the menu that appears

Projects: Here you can view any photobooks, calendars, cards or collections of prints you"ve created, all of which can be ordered direct from Apple by clicking the plus icon on the toolbar and selecting from the menu. Any slideshows you create also appear here, although you can create impromptu slideshows of pictures by selecting them and clicking the Play button on the toolbar.

The Photos tab

The Photos tab gives an eagle"s eye view of your entire library split into the same Years, Collections, and Moments groupings as with the iOS Photos app. There"s no mention of these terms anywhere within Photos on the Mac, however, and that"s perhaps for a good reason because they can be confusing. However, the concept behind them isn"t.

The Years view provides the big picture and arranges your photos into yearly timelines, including a label indicating broadly where they were taken - England, for example, and/or perhaps Portugal if you took photos on holiday.

If you aren"t in the Year view already, click the back button at the top left of the toolbar until it greys out to switch to viewing Years.

How to use the Photos app on Mac: Photos tab

Navigating between Year, Collection and Moment views is done via the back/forward buttons at the left of the toolbar

Click anywhere on a Year and you"ll zoom into one of many Collections, which cluster your photos by much smaller timelines, and also places. A Collection might group together a series of photographs taken during one week in which you visited Cornwall. The Collection will be labelled by date and location.

Click anyway on a Collection and you"ll zoom into one of many Moments. These split out photos into smaller groups according to individual dates, split further by location. A single Moment might show the evening you spent at a particular restaurant near Lands End, for example, and again the date will be shown along with GPS details, such as the street the restaurant was on. A Moment might contain multiple photographs, or just one.

How to use the Photos app on Mac

The Moment view of your photos breaks them down into groups according to individual dates and the location where the photos were taken

How to view a photo in Photos on Mac

When viewing a Moment you can double-click on any photo to open it for full-screen viewing (and editing, of course), or click the heart icon at the top left of the thumbnail to mark it as one of your favourites. This simply means it gets added to the Favourites album under the Albums view. Hitting Space also opens the currently selected photo for viewing.

When viewing a moment you can click the toolbar button at the right of the back/forward buttons to show a side panel thumbnail view showing other photos in that Moment. This is referred to as Split View, and it can be resized by dragging the bar alongside the thumbnails.

Pro tip: Click and hold the mouse cursor on a thumbnail in Years or Collection view and it"ll expand slightly for ease of viewing.

How to use the Photos app on Mac

Clicking the Split View button lets you view thumbnails at the left, and a full-screen photo display at the right

Shared Albums

The Shared tab lets you tune into any Photo Streams you"ve created on your iPhone or iPad, or any Photo Streams that you"ve joined that were created by somebody else. You can also create them within Photos on the Mac.

Double-clicking any Shared Album will open it for viewing, and double-clicking any image will open it for full-screen viewing. However, you won"t be able to edit it until you import it into your library. Photos will offer to do so if you try, or if it"s already been imported then you"ll be prompted to switch to the imported version.

How to use the Photos app on Mac

Photos for Mac drops the Photo Stream nomenclature, instead referring to Shared Albums, although they"re functionally exactly the same

This means you will have to re-import the edited version into the Shared Album after you"ve finished your work if you want it to be seen by others. How this is done is again a little clumsy - after clicking the Done button when you"ve finished editing, click the Share button button at the right of the toolbar. Then select iCloud Photo Stream, and select the Shared Album.

This is also how you create a new Shared Album from scratch - select the photos in one of Photos" view modes in the usual way by elastic-band selecting, or using Shift/Cmd to select multiple items, and then click the Share button and iCloud Photo Sharing > New Shared Album. You"ll then be invited to fill-in details, including invitees.

To add photos to an existing Shared Album, again select them and either click the Share button and follow the instructions earlier, or switch to the Shared Album in question and click the Add Photos and Videos link.

Pro tip: To put a Shared Album online via a web link, select the Shared Album icon at the top right (it"s that of a face in a circle), and then click Public Website. You can only do this with Shared Albums you"ve created.

How to use the Photos app on Mac

Creating a Shared Album means filling in the same details as you might be used to on iOS, such as inviting people by email address

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Organising Albums

To organise your photos outside of the date/location ordering of the main Photos view, you can create an album. These are viewed by selecting the Albums tab.

Notably, albums are virtual. In other words, it"s not like copying a file from one place to another. It"s more like creating an alias. This means a photo can be used in several albums, for example, and deleting an album won"t delete the photos in it.

To create an album, select the photos in either Photos or Shared views, and click the Add button, before selecting Album from the dropdown list.

How to use the Photos app on Mac

The Albums view includes not only albums you create yourself and also several automatic albums containing pictures of a certain type

Photos contains a handful of ready-made albums managed by the app itself. As you might expect, All Photos lists all your photos, from oldest to newest, in order but without the location ordering present in the Photos view.

People splits photos into groupings according to facial recognition. While Photos and iPhoto have long had facial recognition, People is new in macOS Sierra and changes the way facial identification works - more about that below. Places groups photos according to the location information in their metadata, we"ll show how to use that later, too.

How to use the Photos app for Mac: People

Last Import shows which photos were imported last (but not including those automatically added to your library via iCloud Photo Library). Favorites shows any photos you"ve marked as being favourites by clicking the heart icon at the top left of their thumbnails.

Panoramas, Videos, Slo-Mo, Time Lapse and Bursts show any photos in your library taken using the iPhone or iPad Camera app with those picture modes selected. Selfies shows photos taken with the front-facing camera.

Folders can be created to hold multiple Albums but this option is only found on the File menu. Albums can be placed in folders (and removed from them) by dragging and dropping.

Smart Albums can also be created via the Add dropdown list, and let you create albums from photos in your library that match certain criteria, such as focal length, or camera used to take them. This feature is virtually identical to the same feature in the older iPhoto.

How to use the Photos app on Mac

Albums can be organised into folders but that option"s only available on the File menu

Photos for Mac projects

The Add dropdown list also includes options to create a Book, Calendar, Card, Slideshow and Prints. All but the Slideshow option involve ordering a physical artefact direct from Apple, and the process is similar to that of creating an Album as mentioned earlier - first select the photos you wish to be included via Photos or Album views, and then click the option you want from the Add menu. You"ll then be walked through the process of creating the item, including agreeing to the price (orders are charged to your Apple ID in the same way as iTunes or App Store purchases).

Slideshows can in fact be created ad hoc and at any time by selecting photos and clicking the Play button either on the toolbar if viewing an Album, or at the right of a Collection. However, creating a slideshow from the Add menu allows you to not only create a slideshow for later playback, but also output it as a movie file in up to 1080p HD resolution - just click the Export button at the top right of the program window.

How to use the Photos app on Mac

Ad hoc slideshows can be created from Moments by clicking the play button on the floating toolbar at the right of each

How to navigate through photos

When using Photos view, the back and forward buttons on the toolbar don"t always work like those in a browser. If you"re viewing a Moment then clicking the back button takes you to your Collections, and clicking it again will take you to the Years view. Similarly, clicking the Forward button will move you to your Collection, and clicking again will move to your Moments.

If other tabs are selected the back/forward buttons work more like traditional browser buttons - select to view a shared photo stream, for example, and clicking back will take you to the complete listing of streams.

Note too the zoom button at the top left of the window, which makes the thumbnails larger or smaller, such as those in a Moment or album - but not when viewing Collections or Years, for reasons known best to Apple. If viewing a photo full-screen this will also let you zoom in and out.

Pro tip: If you"re using a MacBook or have a Magic Trackpad, the pinch-expand gesture will zoom in and out to and from Years, Collections, Moments and individual photo views.

Edit mode

To edit a photo you"ll first need to double-click its thumbnail to open it for viewing, and then click the Edit button at the top right. Note that if you open for editing a photo in a Shared Album you"ll be told it needs to be imported into your photo library first, and that imported photo will be the one you"ll edit rather than the shared version.

Because every inch of screen space matters when you"re editing photos, switching to full screen mode makes sense (click View > Full Screen, or the green blob). Pro tip: You might notice the toolbar slides off the top of the screen along with the menu. To fix this, click View > Always Show Toolbar in Full Screen.

The screen goes black to indicate Edit mode is activated and the toolkit appears at the right of the program window, while a zoom control appears at the top left. When zoomed you can navigate around the image by clicking and dragging, or via a two-fingered scroll if using a trackpad. Pro tip: Holding down Cmd while tapping plus and minus on the keyboard lets you zoom in and out without using the mouse/trackpad.

How to use the Photos app on Mac

The zoom control at the top left lets you look closely at an image, and clicking and dragging will scroll around

Non-destructive editing of photos

Photos uses non-destructive editing, which means the original is always stored alongside your edits, no matter how extensive these are - or even if you quit the app after making them. Just open the photo for editing at any time and click Revert to Original.

Warning: Undoing individual actions in Photos via Ctrl+Z, or Edit > Undo, isn"t quite the same as other apps. Undos when editing an image are limited to the current tool you"re working in. For example, if you alter the brightness and then switch to the Retouch tool, you won"t be able to undo the brightness alterations you just made other than reverting to the original image as described above.

How to use the Photos app for Mac

If you find you"re unhappy with any edits you can click Revert to Original at any time - even after you"ve finished editing, or even restarted your Mac

Editing tools

The Photos interface saw some welcome changes in the High Sierra update, from a new selection counter, batch rotation and favouriting within the library views, to some pro-level photo editing features worthy of Aperture. To reach them click on Edit then Adjust.

In previous versions you had options to Enhance, Rotate, Crop, Filters, Adjust, Retouch, and Extensions. Now you"ll find Levels, Curves, Definition, Sharpen, Noise Reduction, Vignette and two new editing tools: Curves and Selective Colour.

To view the editing options within each tool, click on the disclosure triangles beside them.

How to use Photos app for Mac: Editing interface

Colour Curves

With the Colour Curves adjustment you can adjust the tonal range of your image. It"s a little more complicated to use than some of the other tools, but you could use it to lighten a dark scene, boost contrast and colour, or make colour shifts.

To use Curves, scroll down the list and click on its disclosure triangle to reveal the tools and a graph. The images tonality is represented by the line, the highlights of the image are found in the top right section of the graph, the low lights are found in the bottom left segment.

You can choose RGB, or focus on Red, Green and Blue separately, dragging the anchor points on the graph until you get the affect you are after.

For example, to brighten up the image, click on the line in the bottom left and drag it upwards until you see a curve form. The image will change in real time so you can decide when you have achieved the designed effect.

You could also create an S-curve, dragging one anchor point up in the highlights, and another anchor point down in the shadows. This would boost contrast and the colour saturation.

You can also use the pipets to pick a colour to set as a black point, grey point, and white point, just as in Photoshop. You can also choose a colour in the image to set as a point on the curve.

How to use Photos app for Mac: Colour curves


Photos in High Sierra also brings with it nine new pre-built image filter presets.

Where previously Photos offered Instagram inspired filters, such as Fade, Chrome, Process, Transfer, and Instant, now the filters are variations of three different styles: Vivid, Dramatic, and black and white, with warm and cool options.

To access these filters click Edit > Filters and click through the options until you find one you like.

When you have selected your filter you can continue to edit it using the Curves and other editing tools until you have the style you are after.

How to use Photos app for Mac: Filters

Open a Photo and edit in Photoshop

As of High Sierra, the Photos app lets you make edits using Photoshop and other third-party editors.

From Photos right click on the image you wish to edit and choose Edit With > Other, and then select Photoshop from your applications (or any other photo editor you might prefer).

The image will open in the third-party photo editing app and you will be able to use all the features of that app to edit it. For example, you could choose a Photoshop filter and apply that to your image.

Any edits you make will automatically be saved to your Photos library.

How to use Photos app for Mac: Open in Photoshop

Editing in macOS Sierra and earlier

If you"re on an older version of the software you won"t have the above editing options. Instead, you"ll see six icons in the toolkit at the right of the screen; you can see what they are by hovering the mouse cursor over each. Some work via a single click, while others open an additional set of tools. All are pretty simple to use, though.

Enhance: Auto-adjusts the colour balance, brightness and contrast of your image. You"re not given control over this. To control brightness, contrast, colour etc you"ll need the Adjust tool, discussed below.

Rotate: Turns the image counter-clockwise 90 degrees. Holding down the Alt key (Option on some keyboards) switches it so it rotates clockwise 90 degrees. It"s not possible to flip the image vertically or horizontally here, although these options are available on the Image main menu and in the Crop tool, described below.

Crop: The least-accurately named of all the tools because, as well as dragging the frame to crop the image, this tool also lets you rotate the image to various small degrees - just click and drag the dial at the right of the image. You can also flip it and adjust it to fit particular aspect ratios such as 3:2 or simply "square" by clicking the Flip or Aspect buttons at the bottom right. Adjusting the aspect ratio can help crop a photo slightly for printing via commercial photo printing outfits - the popular 6x4in print size is 3:2 ratio, for example, while a standard iPhone image is slightly larger at 16:9. The Auto button will attempt to automatically rotate and crop the image so lines within it (horizons, poles, walls etc) look straight. On other types of images, such as portraits, it has no effect.

How to use the Photos app on Mac

The Crop tool also lets you rotate an image by small degrees, as well as flip it and adjust its aspect ratio

Filters: Various readymade one-click filters that apply visual styles to your image, such as Mono, Instant, Chrome, and so on. Again, you have no control over any of them.

Adjust: The meat of the editing tools, and discussed in more depth below.

Retouch: Known as the "heal tool" in image editors like Photoshop, this lets you click (or click and drag over a wider area) to remove elements from an image such as skin blemishes. How it works is magical, as are the results, which are usually extremely impressive. However if you find it doesn"t work quite as it should then holding down Alt (Option on some keyboards) and selecting a nearby point in the image for a sample will improve accuracy. Clicking the Reset button at the bottom of the screen undoes any edits you"ve made using the Retouch tool.

Making adjustments to your image using Light, Colour & Black & White

Clicking the Adjust tool opens a new set of controls alongside the image. By default three are shown: Light (combined brightness and contrast control), Colour, and Black & White.

Clicking and dragging the white bar within each control lets you make adjustments, although if you hover the mouse cursor over each you"ll see an Auto button appear. This attempts to auto-adjust to the best settings based on the image data, as well as the Histogram graph shown above. Hovering the mouse cursor over the control shows a down arrow that, when clicked, reveals more fine-grained options - under the Light slider you"ll see additional sliders for Exposure, Highlights, Shadows and so on.

There"s also a new tool in macOS Sierra, Brilliance. This tool, according to Apple, brightens shadows, pulls back highlights and reveals hidden details in an image.

Clicking the Add button at the top right lets you reveal even more tools including some to sharpen the image, remove noise, and add a vignette effect. Perhaps the most useful for those used to Aperture or other pro-level tools is the Levels tool. Drag the handles beneath the levels histogram to adjust the darkest, lightest and mid-points of the image.

How to use the Photos app on Mac

Clicking the down arrow alongside each control"s heading shows finer-grained controls

Advanced editing tricks in Photos

Right-clicking on the image lets you copy to the clipboard the current set of edits you"ve made, and you can then paste them onto a different image in the same way by right-clicking. This is useful if you find yourself correcting many images with a similar low-light fault, for example.

Perhaps one of the best advanced tricks for using Photos is to hold down Alt (Option on some keyboards) while using any of the tools. Doing so while adjusting the cropping box will cause it to resize in a different way, for example, and doing so whilst adjusting the rotation dial will decrease the severity of your drag. Just give it a try!

How to use the Photos app on Mac

Edits made on one image and be copied and then “pasted” onto a different image - just right-click and select the option

Using the new People feature

Click on the People album, listed in the left sidebar under albums, to see a grid of the faces Photos has identified. Double-click on on face to see the photographs associated with it. To name a face, hover over it and click "Add Name".

People is good at identifying faces, but it"s a long way from perfect and there will be many faces in your photos not shown here. To add one, click on "Add People" and then choose someone from the grid that"s displayed. (Pro tip: you can select multiple people by Cmd-clicking. They will then all be added to the People album.)

If you have lots of versions of the same person in the People album, you can Cmd-click them, then Ctrl- or right-click on one image and select Merge x People, where x is the number of faces you"ve clicked. All the photos identified in the different versions of the face will then be grouped and identified as the same person.

To set favourite People, Cmd-click the ones you want and drag them into the favourites section at the top of the album.To hide someone in the People album, right-click and select Hide this Person.

You can set a "key" face (the one that"s displayed on the from of a person"s album) by double-clicking on the person, right-clicking on the the photo you want to use and selecting Make Key Photo.

To tell Photos that a person it"s identified in a photo isn"t in that photo, right-click on the photo and select "xxx is not in this photo" where "xxx" is the person"s name. To tell Photos a person is in a photo when it hasn"t recognised that, right-click on the photo, select Get Info and click the "+" next to the faces that have been identified. Drag the circle that appears on the photo over the face and start typing the person"s name. When the dropdown list of names appears, select the one you want.

Creating a Slideshow

A brilliant new feature of Photos for Mac is the Projects tab that lets you create print products, manufactured by Apple itself, as well as slideshows that you can export as HD movie files.

To create a new project, select the images you want to use via the Photos tab - you"ll need to hold down Cmd or Shift to select multiple images - then click the plus button at the top right of the Photos program window and select the type of project you want. Once created, any new project will subsequently be listed when you click the Projects tab.

A slideshow is perhaps the simplest kind of project because it doesn"t involve buying from Apple and the results are immediate.

How to use the Photos app on Mac

Slideshow projects can be created by clicking the plus button at the top right of Photos" program window

The first choice upon choosing to create a slideshow is to give it a name. Anything will do, although this text will appear within the opening frames of the slideshow. Instead of creating a new slideshow, you can also choose via this dialog box to add the photos to a slideshow you"ve already created, selectable from the Slideshow dropdown list.

The layout of Photos" slideshow construction window is pretty simple - the photos are listed along the bottom, while dominating the screen is a preview of the slideshow. Clicking the Preview button will start it playing within the Photos window.

At the right of the program window are three icons that let you choose the Theme, Music, and Duration. When any of them are clicked a slide-out panel will appear showing options.

The icons to the right of the slideshow preview allow you to configure various aspects, such as its theme

Choosing a slideshow theme in Photos for Mac

Six slideshow themes are available. These not only add interest to a slideshow via motion effects but also let you make better use of photos that might be shot in portrait mode, or other aspect ratios - the individual frames of some slideshows involve multiple photographs better disposed to portrait shots, for example.

The themes are as follows:

Ken Burns: Each photo displayed is either slowly zoomed into, or zoomed out of (a technique pioneered by documentary maker Ken Burns). You can set the start and end zoom points in each photo by selecting it within the thumbnails at the bottom of the program window, and clicking the square icon the bottom left of the large preview above. Selecting either the start or end icon will show a zoom slider.

Origami: Photos in the slideshow seem to fold into view from the side of the screen.

Reflections: Photos appear to be sitting on a shiny surface that reflects their contents.

Sliding Panels: Photos slide into and out of view - from the sides, top, bottom and out from the middle of the screen.

Vintage Prints: Photos are shown as a series of virtual photographic prints, as if stacked on top of each other. A similar effect to that in the Ken Burns slideshow is used to zoom slowly in and out in order to add interest although no control is offered over the zoom effect.

Classic: The traditional slideshow in which individual photos fill the screen, and briefly crossfade into each other.

Magazine: Somewhat similar to the Origami and Sliding Panels except the transition between slideshow frames is quicker and there"s a more dynamic feel to match a supposed magazine layout.

How to use the Photos app on Mac

The Ken Burns theme zooms in and out of photos slowly, and you can set the start and end zoom points using the slider controls

In most themes the thumbnails at the bottom show how the photos will be arranged when two or more appear in a single slideshow frame, and clicking and dragging individual photos within the thumbnails will rearrange their order. Clicking and dragging photos within the large preview above will allow you to centre each individual picture within its frame in the slideshow.

Pro tip: The title of the slideshow can be edited by clicking it in the first frame of the large preview, and the font can also be changed by tapping Cmd+T to bring up the fonts palette. Unfortunately, although the palette includes controls for change the text colour and shadow, these don"t appear to have any bearing on the text.

How to use the Photos app on Mac

The text in any on-screen captions in a slideshow can be modified by bringing up the Fonts palette - just hit Cmd+T

Adding text to a slideshow in Photos for Mac

In addition to the title text, which is added automatically based on what you type, you can also add individual captions to each image. This is done by clicking the plus button at the right of the thumbnail listing and typing into the text box. Unfortunately, the text box is fixed and can"t be moved around.

Changing a slideshow"s theme and duration in Photos for Mac

Each slideshow has a unique piece of music that plays while it runs, but you can choose your own song from your iTunes library by clicking the Music icon at the right-hand side and expanding the Music Library heading. You can also select Theme Songs from the dropdown list to mix and match any of the seven theme songs with your slideshow.

The Duration control works in concert with the music (if you"ll pardon the pun) because you can make the slideshow last as long as the music, or choose set times for each frame.

Exporting a slideshow as a movie in Photos for Mac

As you progress creating your slideshow it"ll automatically be saved under the Projects tab but you can also choose to export it as a QuickTime (MP4) movie file, playable on all Apple devices and most modern computers/handhelds. Three resolution options are available: Standard Definition (640x480), High Resolution 720p (1280x720), and High Resolution 1080p (1980x1080).

How to use the Photos app on Mac

Slideshows can be exported as movie files in a range of formats, but be aware that you"ll end up with large files if choosing High Definition 1080p!

Live Photos

Introduced with the iPhone 6s range, Live Photos is an option within the Camera app that augments snapshots by niftily recording a second or two of movie footage before and after the shutter is tapped. It"s saved as a single image file that looks like any other, including syncing via iCloud.

To view the Live Photo"s movie component you simply tap and hold the photo within the Photos app on the iPhone, iPad or Apple Watch.

When viewing a Live Photo"s thumbnail within the main photos listing or an album view of Photos on your Mac hover the mouse cursor over it to start the Live Photo playback. After clicking to open the photo you"ll need to hover the mouse cursor over the Live icon at the bottom left to trigger playback.

How to use the Photos app on Mac

To trigger a Live Photo you"ll need to hover the mouse cursor over the Live Photo icon at the bottom left of the image

Photos in macOS Sierra allows you to edit Live Photos - short video clips that grab a second and a half of audio and video before and after you press the shutter button.

In previous versions of Photos, editing a Live Photo meant converting it to a still image, but no more. To edit a Live Photo, double-click on it and select the editing tool as normal. If you want to turn off the Live Photo and make it a still image, click the yellow circle to the right of the location and time and date information.

Live Photos also become regular image files should they be copied out of Photos to a Finder window or the desktop.

Turn a live photo into a Gif

There"s a new Media Types folder in Photos for High Sierra which makes it easy to find your videos, selfies, Depth Effect images, Panoramas, Time Lapse, Slow-mo, and Live Photos. A new feature in Photos in High Sierra is the ability to turn those Live Photos into a Gif-like repeating loop.

You can also manually change the Live Photo"s representative image to a different segment of the video, trim the Live Photos video, and, in addition to the new Gif-like Loop, you can set one of three other effects: a traditional live photo, a back-and-forth bouncing effect, or a Long Exposure image that mimics a photo taken with the shutter left open for a long time.

To turn a live photo into a looping "Gif", open your Live Photo in Edit mode. Below the photo you will see a slider (this allows you to change the still image associated with the Live Photo, as well as change the start and end points of the Live Photo).

Next to that is a dropdown box with the options: Live, Loop, Bounce and Long Exposure. Choose Loop. Immediately the image will start to loop. If you were hoping to change the start and end points unfortunately you can"t, but you can choose to turn the audio back on (it"s turned off by default in Loop mode).

The other similar option is Bounce. Where loop sort of fills in the gap between the different movements, in Bounce the sample is shorter and the one movement is repeated over and over. You cannot play audio in Bounce.

We have a complete guide to turning Live photos into Gifs here: How to make a GIF on iPhone.

How to use Photos app for Mac: Turn a Live Photo into a GIF

Create a long exposure

If you have a Live Photo of something like a waterfall or fireworks you can make a Long Exposure image from it.

Note: this image won"t be any good if you moved the camera. Ideally you want to keep the camera completely still when taking the live photo (as you would if you were taking a Long Exposure shot the traditional way.

As before, select the Live Photo, choose Edit and in the box beside the sliders choose Long Exposure.

We"d like the option to make a Long Exposure photo out of a Slow-Mo video. Live Photos by their nature aren"t really long enough to give a really good Long Exposure effect.

How to use Photos app for Mac: Long exposure

Extensions & plugins

Photos in El Capitan addressed the issue of a lack of extensive editing tools within the app by letting app developers create add-ons that appear under an Extensions heading when you click the Edit button while viewing a photo. Just look to the bottom of the tool list at the right of the screen and click the Extensions heading to make your choice.

Some developers have chosen to create dedicated extensions. A good example is Noiseless from MacPhun, that aims to improve images taken in the dark. Others developers, like the people behind the Pixelmator image editing app, let users access one or more functions from their app within Photos.

As with all OS X extensions those for Photos can be activated, deactivated and listed within System Preferences. Just click the Extensions icon and then the Photos entry in the list. Remove the tick alongside any you want to disable within Photos. Extensions are installed by either downloading the installation package directly from the developer"s website, as with any app, or by downloading offerings found within the Mac App Store.

How to use the Photos app on Mac

Extensions allow you to enhance the editing power of Photos using third-party add-ons

Unfortunately, the extensions used with Photos are incompatible with those used in other image editing apps such as Adobe Photoshop.

Using the Places feature

The latest version of Photos has an album called Places.

How to use the Photos app for Mac: Places

Click on it in the Albums list and you"ll see a map with thumbnail images in different locations and a number next to them. The location on the map is the location stored in the photo"s metadata (usually the place where it was taken) and the number is the number of images in Photos at that location. You can pinch and unpinch on a trackpad to zoom in and out or drag with two fingers to pan around the map. Double-click anywhere on the map to zoom in on a specific spot or click a photo to see all the photos at that location.

To change the location of a photo, right-click or Ctrl-click on it and choose Get Info. You"ll see a map with a red pin in it. Drag the red pin to a new location to change the Place with which the photo is associated. (Pro tip: you can change location for multiple photos at once by shift-selecting them and choosing Get Info, as long as they"re all in the same location.)]

Making memories

The Memories feature is new in macOS Sierra Photos. It groups together photos from an event which can be a location or date, or person, for example, and puts them together in a slideshow.

To see the Memories Photos has already created, click on Memories in the left sidebar, under Photos. Double-click on one and press the Play button in the toolbar. A dropdown menu will display options for themes. Choose one for the slideshow. You can also choose your own music by clicking the Music tab. When you"re ready, click Play Slideshow.

How to use the Photos app for Mac: Memories

To create a new Memory, choose an album, open it and click Show as Memory in the toolbar. To delete a Memory, go to the Memories view, right-click on the one you want to remove, and click Delete Memory.

You can add photos to a Memory you"ve created by adding them to the album from which the Memory is created but the only way to remove an image from a memory is to hide or delete it, by right-clicking on it and selecting wither Hide or Delete.

The Memories feature learns what you like as you use it. You can train it by favouriting Memories, adding new ones, or removing those you don"t want.

Minor updates in Photos for macOS Sierra

Search has been significantly improved in macOS Sierra. Start typing a search term like, say "boat" and Photos will start showing you photos in your library that it thinks have boats in them. All the data crunching is down on your Mac, rather than on Apple"s servers, but it doesn"t seem to slow things down at all.

The introduction of Siri is macOS Sierra means that instead of typing a search term into the text box, you can click in the Dock or menu bar and ask it to search for you.

You can now markup photos in Photos, in the same way you markup PDFs or images in Preview. Open a photo and click the Edit button in the toolbar. At the bottom of the list of tools, you"ll see the Extensions option - a circle with three dots in it. Click on it, then click on Markup. You"ll now see the familiar markup tools along the top of the image allowing you to draw freehand, add shapes or a text box and change the colour and style of text and shapes.

You Can Now Buy Audiobooks on Google Play

Google has started selling audiobooks on the Google Play Store. Google is keeping things simple, offering a range of audiobooks at reasonable prices. All of which are one-off purchases, with no need to take out a subscription. In other words, Amazon suddenly has some serious competition.

Audiobooks are becoming increasingly popular these days, probably because the hectic lives we lead leave little time to actually sit down and read a book. You can listen to audiobooks while you’re doing other things, which makes them the perfect medium for busy people.

Buy Audiobooks on the Google Play Store

Starting today, Google has added audiobooks to the Google Play Store. Audiobooks are initially available in 45 countries and nine languages, and they can be enjoyed on Android, iOS, the web, and devices powered by Google Assistant, which includes the Google Home smart speaker.

Audiobooks have their own section on Google Play, and Google pulls no punches by headlining it, “Listen without a subscription”. This is an obvious dig at Amazon, which is pushing Audible subscriptions hard. While you can buy individual audiobooks on Amazon, they can be pricey.

Google is offering single audiobooks at what it calls “an affordable price”. You can preview books to make sure they’re going to be your bag, and share them with everyone in your family using Family Library. You can also start listening on one device before switching to another.

The biggest boon is the integration with Google Assistant. This means you can say, “OK Google, read my book,” and it will start playing on your phone or smart speaker. You can even set a timer for bedtime by saying, “OK Google, stop playing in 20 minutes,” allowing you time to fall asleep.

Competition Is Almost Always a Good Thing

Competition is almost always a good thing, as it tends to bring prices down. Which is reason enough to welcome Google to the audiobooks business. But it also helps that Google has made the business of buying audiobooks on Google Play and listening to them on your devices so easy.

Are you a fan of audiobooks? What was the last one you listened to? Do you have an Audible subscription? Or do you source your audiobooks from elsewhere? Can you see yourself buying audiobooks from Google Play in future? Please let us know in the comments below!

Saturday, 20 January 2018

Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 hands on review

For CES 2018, Dell has brought with it not only the newly revamped Dell XPS 13, but also a brand-new take on its larger model: the Dell XPS 15 2-in-1. This revision not only features more powerful innards across the board, but never-before-used inputs for an even more modern feel.

Considering we already quite liked the previous XPS 15 model, giving it a 360-degree hinge and an optional 4K Ultra HD display powered by 8th-generation Intel Core processors with AMD Vega graphics built-in should only sweeten the deal. We’ll reserve full judgment for a complete review, but know that Dell has quite a versatile powerhouse on its hands.
Dell XPS 15 2 in 1

Price and availability

Dell will begin selling the XPS 15 2-in-1 for $1,299 (about £957, AU$1,653) to start in the US this coming spring.

That price will get you an XPS 15 2-in-1 with a 15.6-inch Full HD touch display powered by an 8th-gen Intel Core i5-8305G processor with Radeon RX Vega M GL graphics, 8GB of DDR4 memory and a 128GB solid-state drive (SSD).

From there, Dell offers all sorts of configuration options, like a 4K Ultra HD (3,840 x 2,160) touchscreen to an Intel Core i7-8705G processor with Radeon RX Vega M GL graphics.

Dell can also up the RAM capacity to 16GB as well as the SSD storage capacity to as much as 1TB. Of course, Dell has yet to reveal the pricing scheme of these higher-end options.
Dell XPS 15 2 in 1

Design and feel

Frankly, there isn’t much that’s visibly different about the XPS 15 2-in-1 from the smaller XPS 13 2-in-1 that Dell introduced at last year’s CES, beyond its obviously larger dimensions. Dell seems to have found a design that works and is sticking to it.

You’re getting the same silver-colored anodized aluminum lid and base with the carbon fiber keyboard rest that has released on prior XPS 15 models, this time with aluminum hinges that rotate 360 degrees.

However, something about the keyboard feels notably different, but more on that in a moment.

At any rate, Dell clearly has made some serious revisions, as it’s claiming this machine to be the smallest and thinnest 15.6-inch 2-in-1 laptop available today. At just 0.35 ~ 0.63 inches (9 ~ 16 mm) thin and 13.9 inches (354mm) wide, Dell may hold onto that claim for some time.

The laptop weighs 4.3 pounds (1.97kg) to start, with higher-end options likely to add a few ounces. To us, the laptop doesn’t feel much heftier than a 13-inch MacBook Pro – impressive for a 15-inch laptop with a touchscreen.

Given this laptop’s size and lightness, we’re surprised by the selection of ports Dell has managed to make available within the XPS 15 2-in-1: two Thunderbolt 3 and two USB-C 3.1 – all of which support charging and DisplayPort – a microSD card reader and a headset jack. (It’s sad to see the USB of old bite the bullet, but perhaps Dell held off long enough.)

What has made this incredibly diminutive size possible is two-fold.

First is Dell’s use of its next-generation InfinityEdge display with a new 1,500:1 contrast ratio that makes blacks all but disappear on the screen. This nearly bezel-less display frame allows a laptop that’s just 13.9 inches wide to house a screen that’s 15.6 inches wide diagonally. Beneath said screen is a 720p webcam paired with an infrared lens for secure Windows Hello login – and it’s centered just like the new XPS 13.

Second is a brand-new keyboard technology that allows the base to be thinner than what was possible before (it also makes for more room inside for stronger thermal management). This new keyboard tech is known as maglev – kind of like those bullet trains in Japan, but applied at a much, much smaller scale. This maglev keyboard employs rare-earth magnets beneath the keys, rather than domed membraned switches like most laptops, mimicking the feel of a physical key response but with only 0.7mm of travel.

After typing on the keyboard for just a few moments, that shorter travel is apparent: it’s definitely not a 1:1 simulation of standard laptop keyboard behavior. The keys are more rigid in their response, and don’t allow for moving between keys as quickly as we’re used to – or at least how we’re used to.

It’s tough to bear judgment down upon the keyboard without more testing, but what’s clear is that it will present a learning curve to users. How long it will take to get over said curve is difficult to say. At any rate, it’s an impressive innovation that’s allowed for a mightily thin and light device with a comparably large screen.

All told, the glass-coated, Microsoft Precision touchpad remains unchanged and is as delightful to use as ever.
Dell XPS 15 2 in 1


This new keyboard technology also allowed Dell to introduce more thermal headroom for the XPS 15 2-in-1 components, as well as a new type of insulation from Gore. This insulation directs heat out of the device better than other solutions to allow components to operate at higher temperatures.

The new Intel-meets-AMD processor that Dell has placed inside the XPS 15 2-in-1 makes liberal use of this extra headroom, thanks to a new sensor hub that determines performance based on the use case at hand in regards to cooling and power. This sensor hub works in tandem with software on the processor to make those decisions for you as you’re using the laptop.

The end result is a 15-inch laptop with a solid amount of headroom with which to perform either more serious tasks, like photo and video editing, as well as more moderate tasks at once. Not to mention some light gaming, judging by Intel and AMD claiming Nvidia GTX 1050-grade game performance from its collaborative processor.

Rounding out the hardware offering is Killer 1435 802.11ac (2 x 2) Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.1 for wireless connectivity.

While we can’t say for sure what all of these changes has afforded the XPS 15 2-in-1 in terms of power, we at the very least know Dell has laid the groundwork for one helluva performant laptop, which can also be used as a tablet. Oh, and Dell claims it can last up to 15 hours on battery – we’ll just see about that in our full review.
Dell XPS 15 2 in 1

Early verdict

It’s this editor’s personal preference to avoid most 15-inch laptops on account of their size, but the Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 may very well change that. After all, it may as well be a 13-inch laptop, thanks to the latest InfinityEdge display.

That said, we are as put off by the feel of the new maglev keyboard as we are impressed by the innovation that has allowed such an approachable 15-inch device. While it will certainly present a learning curve, for how long? And, how will it feel, say, a week or two after purchase?

So, while we’re mightily impressed by the ‘smallest and thinnest 2-in-1 device of its size,’ thanks in no small part to a hugely expanded power profile (but mostly its size and feel), we’re left with a few hanging questions. Stay tuned for a full review later this year.

Top 10 - The Best Bezel-Less Phones of 2018

We’ve all looked on in awe at Samsung’s almost bezel-less Galaxy series, and now Apple’s iPhone X wishing for a more affordable option. Well, you’re in luck, as this year we are seeing an influx of mobile manufacturers step-up and produce their own bezel-less smartphones.

Looking for awesome battery life? Smartphones with Amazing Battery Life 2018

In this roundup, we’ll take a look at some of the top bezel-less phones of 2018 that are either available now, set to be released soon or are still hot on the rumour mill. If you’ve heard of a great bezel-less phone that I’ve missed and that’s set for release this year, let me know in the comments below.

(Just want the best bezel-less smartphone with an awesome screen-to-body ratio that comes with the best cameras, is waterproof and you don’t care how much? Here ya go…)

Let’s get to it. Here’s our 2018 Top Bezel-less & borderless phones.

Xiaomi Mi Mix 2 Smartphone

Xiaomi Mi Mix 2

The Award Winning Xiaomi Mi Mix 2 has arrived and while it’s not completely bezel-free like early rumours suggested, it’s still another impressive flagship level tri-bezel-less Android Smartphone.

It follows on with the 2017 curved corner trend and while the Mi Mix 2 display might not curve around like the Samsung’s Infinity display, it still offers an impressive screen-to-body ratio thanks to the 18:9 form factor. The PPI has bumped up to 403 with an impressive resolution 2160×1080 on the 5.99 inch display. There is still a slight bezel at the top of the device but Xiaomi has positioned the speaker facing upwards to minimise this. Overall, it’s a stunning device!

In terms of hardware, it’s packing the latest Snapdragon 835 CPU (Same as the OnePlus 5 & Galaxy S8) and comes as standard with 6GB of RAM (8GB version available) and 64-264GB of storage depending on the model. The Mi Mix 2 uses dual-nano SIM slots but doesn’t offer micro-SD card expansion so pick your version wisely.

Tech Specs: 5.99″ 2160 x 1920 18:9 Aspect Ratio, 403 PPI, Sony IMX386, Snapdragon 835, 6-8GB RAM, 128GB Storage, Fast charge 3400mAh battery, Android 7 + MIUI9 with Full UK Support for 3, 7 & 20 bands.

OnePlus 5T Smartphone

OnePlus 5T

(Sandstone White Version Available soon…)

OnePlus has become synonymous with the term ‘Flagship Killer’ and for good reason. The OnePlus 5 offers the best available smartphone performance while only costing half the price of a flagship… but… the OP5 does look a little dated…

Bring on the OnePlus 5T which moves the fingerprint reader to the back while shrinking the top and bottom bezels and switching to an 18:9 aspect ratio. Why the sudden change? well… to look a little more… 2018… I suppose…

Fans who bought the OnePlus 5 are a little disappointed to see the new version being released so soon, but… it’s a step in the right direction towards full screen smartphones.

So what does the OnePlus 5T offer? An impressive (albeit not Samsung level) AMOLED Display, the fastest charging in the west and a top level performance all crammed into a light 162 gram aluminium body.

What you miss out on compared to the flagships is low light night photography and any type of waterproofing. But at this price… it’s a no-brainer!

Tech Specs: 6.01 inch, 2160 x 1920, 18:9 Aspect Ratio, Gorilla Glass 5, 403 PPI, Sony IMX386, Snapdragon 835, 6/8GB RAM, 64/128GB Storage, Super Dash Charge 3300mAh battery, Android 7.1.1 with Full UK Support, 7.3mm thick, 162 grams.

UMiDigi Crystal

UMiDigi Crystal

With an impressive 88% Screen-to-body ratio, the UMiDigi Crystal certainly has the wow factor! Available in two versions (2GB RAM + 16GB Storage | or | 4GB RAM + 64GB Storage), the Crystal offers a 5.5″ full-HD crisp Sharp display protected by Gorilla Glass 4 and a pure Android 7 experience.

Things start to get really impressive when you find out the price at which you can bag yourself the 4GB version for! Too good to be true right? To keep the price down, UMiDigi have opted for a lower-end CPUs, but the 4GB model still comes with the capable Mali-T860 graphics unit.

Overall, the Crystal offers fantastic value for money! The focus is on design, an excellent screen and mid-level performance for the 4GB version and budget performance for the 2GB model. It comes with USB-Type-C, SD Card Support / Dual-SIM Support and Dual Samsung Rear Cameras.

It’s worth mentioning that Dual-Cameras at this price-point tend to be disappointing and inferior to a single camera lens. So if you’re a serious shutterbug, ye here be warned! :D

Tech Specs: 5.5″ 1920 x 1080, 401 PPI, Sony IMX386, MTK6750T 8-Core CPU + Mali-T860 GPU, 4GB RAM, 64GB Storage, 3000mAh battery, Android 7 with Full UK Support.

Xiaomi Redmi 5 Plus Smartphone

Xiaomi Redmi 5 Plus (International)

Xiaomi’s budget Redmi range now has its own high screen-to-body-ration smartphone to show off. It features a modern full HD+ 5.99 inch display panel that’s rocking an 18:9 aspect ratio and the on-trend curved corners.

It’s priced firmly in the mid-range making it an exciting alternative to the impressive but dated looking Xiaomi Mi A1. This is definitely going to be a popular smartphone going into 2018.

Out of the box, the Redmi 5 Plus is pre-installed with the latest MIUI9 customisable Android skin giving it a performance boost over older Xiaomi phones that haven’t yet had the update.

If the Redmi Plus is out of your budget, there is also a Redmi 5 (non-Plus) version that has lower resolution 5.7 inch display and more budget orientated specs. The Redmi 5 Plus is available now in Black, Gold, Rose Gold (Pink) & Light Blue.

Tech Specs: 5.99″ 2160 x 1920 18:9 Aspect Ratio, 403 PPI, 12MP Camera, Snapdragon 625, 4GB RAM, 64GB Storage, Fast charge 4000mAh battery, Android 7 + MIUI9.

Elephone S8 Smartphone

Elephone S8

The Elephone S8 is our third phone to feature almost bezel-less edges on three of the four sides. With Elephone being no stranger to bezel-less tech, having already released the S3 & S7, it’s great to see them innovating further with S8. Although the S3 & S7 didn’t make it into our Top Bezel-less Smartphones List this time around, you can still find them in our old list by scrolling down.

The Elephone S8 has a respectable 4GB’s of RAM and 128GB’s of storage as standard and is available now. Its crowning glory is the huge 6 inch 2K display that comes with an impressive Super-HD resolution of  2560×1440.

What’s really exciting is that when smaller manufacturers like Elephone are already reaching 3-border bezel-less 2K displays it forces the bigger manufacturers to play their trump cards early. No more slow feature rolling out for Samsung & Apple.

Simply put, the Elephone S8 has it all, a super-high screen-to-body ratio, Super HD Display, Flagship Performance and a Big Battery all for an affordable mid-level price tag.

Tech Specs: 6″ 2560×1440, MediaTek Helio X25  CPU, 4GB RAM, 128GB Storage, Quick-charge 4000mAh, 21MP Camera, Android 7.1 Nougat with Full UK network support.
Maze Alpha Smartphone

MAZE Alpha

Maze has followed the tri-bezel-less formula by focussing on a super high screen-to-phone ratio (86%) rather than super thin side bezels. It’s a beast at 6 inches  and has a full 1920×1080 resolution that uses Gorilla Glass 4 protection.

Update: Check out the latest Maze flagship (Maze Alpha X) below.

It’s no straggler when it comes to performance either with the MediaTek Helio P25 combined with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of onboard storage. Powering the dual camera setup (13MP + 5MP, f/2.2) is a Samsung lens that will please the shutterbugs amongst us.

If you’ve never heard of Maze before that’s because they are new to smartphone arena with the Maze Alpha being their 2nd smartphone release after the Maze Blade. Before this, Maze partnered with other manufacturers using their expertise in R&D department and production line management.

Tech Specs: 6 inch 1920×1080 Display, Dual rear camera, Helio P25 CPU, 4/6GB RAM, 64GB Storage, Quick-charge 4000mAh, 225 grams, AC WiFi, Android 7.0 Nougat with Full UK network support.

Maze Alpha X

MAZE Alpha X

After aMAZE’ing us all with the Alpha, the Maze team are back with the Alpha X. Featuring a 6 inch LG display panel this time with an 18:9 aspect ratio it’s a mighty impressive phone that fits in your hand easily. Rather than go down the minimalist route of the original, the Alpha X comes in a super reflective glass sandwich design that oozes premium…

The newer display manages to give the Alpha X an incredible 89.6% screen-to-body-ratio while still keeping that front facing fingerprint reader. You will have to flip the Alpha X upside down for selfies, but you’re still treated to a headphone jack which is a bonus.

In terms of performance, the 6GB of RAM and power efficient mid-range MediaTek CPU will keep things running smoothly. While it doesn’t have flagship level performance, it is priced firmly in the mid-level bracket. There’s also a 128GB storage option, but you can save money on the 64GB as there’s a micro-SD slot available.

Tech Specs: 6 inch 1080×2160 Display, Gorilla Glass 5, 403 PPI, Dual rear Sony camera, Helio P25 CPU, 6GB RAM, 64/128GB Storage, Quick-charge 2900mAh, 209 grams, 5GHz + AC WiFi, Android 7 Nougat with Full UK network support.

Doogee Mix borderless phone

Doogee Mix 2

Fixing the biggest mistake from the Doogee Mix 1, the Mix 2 comes with a full-HD display using the popular 18:9 aspect ratio. Unfortunately, it drops the Super AMOLED Samsung display that we saw in the Doogee Mix 1, but we’re getting 6 inches of screen at Full HD.

It also moves away from the tri-bezelless design but still manages a respectable 78% screen-to-body ratio which is 1% more than the original Doogee Mix 1. In terms of hardware, it’s almost identical using the power efficient Helio P25 CPU coupled with 6GB of RAM but has a much bigger battery at 4060mAh to power the higher resolution display.

Design-wise, the Doogee Mix 2 uses a glass sandwich approach with a metal band connecting the two sides. Since there’s now some room at the top for the camera, Doogee has stuck two in there for those dual-lens bokeh effect selfies. It’s a big improvement over the bottom-placed camera on the Doogee Mix 1… but… the Mix 2 doesn’t quite have the wow factor of its little brother!

We’ll have a full review of the Doogee Mix 2 available soon.

Tech Specs: 6 inch 18:9 IPS 1080 x 2160, 403 PPI, Dual Rear + Dual Selfie cameras, Helio P25 CPU, 6GB RAM, 64GB Storage, Quick-charge 4060mAh, 209 grams, Android 7.1 Nougat with Full UK network support.

Bluboo S1 tri-bezel smartphone

Bluboo S1

Joining the tri-bezel smartphone trend is the very affordable Bluboo S1. While the bezels aren’t edge-to-edge you’re still getting an impressive smartphone that’s packing a 5.5″ Sharp full-HD 1920×1080 resolution display.

With a 90% screen-to-body ratio, 6GB of RAM and 64GB of storage the Bluboo S1 isn’t holding anything back, offering great mid-level specs. Powering the phone is the mid-level MediaTek P25 CPU which won’t be a winning any benchmark awards but will still run the 1080P display and Android 7 OS smoothly.

The Bluboo S1 is another great example of mid-range smartphones offering flagship level innovation, albeit thanks to Sharp pushing out their fantastic tri-bezel-less display. The Bluboo S1 should be on your smartphone watch list.

Tech Specs: 5.5″ Sharp 1080×1920, 90% Screen-to-body-ratio, Gorilla Glass 4, MediaTek Helio P25 CPU, 4/6GB RAM, 64GB Storage, Android 7, 3500mAh Fast Charge battery, Android 7 with Full UK network support.

Doogee S8 Smartphone with infinity display

Bluboo S8+ (Plus)

As well as the tri-bezel S1 below, Bluboo are soon to release the Bluboo S8 Plus with an infinity display that has an impressive 83% screen-to-body ratio. Following in the footsteps of the Galaxy S8 and LG G6, the S8 will offer a 4-corner curved display that is 5.7 inches and will use an 18:9 aspect ratio.

The comparisons to the flagships ends there as the Bluboo S8 will only feature a 1440×720 pixel display and a low-end MediaTek CPU. It will feature a Sony dual-camera setup but in my experience, the low-end dual cameras are more gimmicky than practical.

None of this matters though, as the Bluboo S8 will retail at around the $150 making it a real steal. You can get a flagship style screen on a smartphone with average performance for a wallet friendly budget price.

Tech Specs: 6 inch Sharp infinity 1440 x 720, Gorilla Glass 4, Dual rear cameras (Sony), MT6750T CPU, 4GB RAM, 64GB Storage, Sony IMX258 16MP + 3MP Dual Cameras, Fast charge 3600mAh Android 7 Nougat with Full UK network support.

More awesome Bezel-less phones below!

The phones below didn’t make it into our new Top 5 bezel-less smartphones this time but there’s still great options to choose from. Another bonus is that if you pick up one of the phones below, you’re likely to grab yourself a borderless bargain.

Why? because they’ve all been available for some time now so prices will have dropped considerably.

Xiaomi Mi Mix bezel-less smartphone

Xiaomi Mi Mix

If the Xiaomi Mi Mix with its almost non-existent bezels doesn’t get you excited then I don’t know what will. It’s a punch in the face to those who said mobile innovation is dead and will hopefully drive forward bezel-less innovation in 2017.

At 6.4″ the Mi Mix OLED Screen sounds enormous, but thanks to not having top or side bezels it isn’t much bigger than a Samsung S7 Edge. When we look at phone to screen ratio, the Mi Mix has a whopping 90% usable surface area which is unheard of before. Where you’ll notice a big difference between the S7 edge and Mi Mix is in its weight with the Mi Mix weighing a hefty 210 grams.

Xiaomi has chosen a 1080×2040 OLED screen with rounded corners for both the standard & pro model which looks crisp and has a decent PPI of 361. It would have been nice to see a QHD screen option for the Pro version as this would improve its VR capabilities. Inside, you’ll find a top of the line Snapdragon 821 CPU & either 4GB or 6GB of RAM.

The Mi Mix, in my opinion, is one of the best-looking phones of 2016 and has some good, not perfect, specs to match. If bezel-less isn’t your thing then the OnePlus 3T has very similar specifications at a lower price point.

Tech Specs: 6.4″ OLED 1080×2040, 361 PPI, Snapdragon 821 CPU, 4GB/6GB RAM, 128GB/264GB Storage, 4400mAh, USB Type-C, 208 grams, Android 6 (MIUI V8).

Doogee Mix borderless phone

Doogee Mix

Doogee are entering the borderless phone arena with the stunning Doogee Mix. The name does sound a little too similar to the Xiaomi Mi Mix for my liking, but I’ll leave that to the IP lawyers. Also similar to the Mi Mix is the 3 sided bezel-less technology that’s gone into the Doogee mobile, although there is more of a top border housing the ear speaker.

In terms of specs, the Doogee Mix has everything ticking almost all the boxes… but leaves us feeling a little underwhelmed that the display is only 720P. On the plus side, the display is AMOLED meaning it will feature great black levels. With the screen being 720P, AMOLED technology and the battery already packing a decent 3380mAh I’m expecting some serious battery life from the Doogee Mix.

Performance wise, the Mix is using a MediaTek Helio P25 8-core performance CPU and comes with either 4 or 6GBs of RAM to power the set of dual-rear cameras enabling you to snap some serious bokeh.

The Doogee Mix is available now and unlike some of the other bezel-less options in this list, it’s priced firmly in the lower mid-range. Its bezels might not be the slimmest but it still has an awesome display-to-phone ratio.

Tech Specs: 5.5″ AMOLED 1280 x 720, Dual rear camera, Helio P25 CPU, 4/6GB RAM, 64GB Storage, Quick-charge 3380mAh, 193 grams, Android 7.0 Nougat with Full UK network support.

Nubia Z17 Smartphone

Nubia Z17

Nubia are no strangers to bezel-less phones. Even as early as 2015, they were rocking the bezel-free Nubia Z9. As the bezel-less pro’s that they are, Nubia focussed in on creating a true flagship specc’d phone with the Z17.

Featuring a top of the line Snapdragon 835 chip, 6GBs of RAM, Dual rear cameras (23MP + 12MP) and 128GB storage, the Z17 is competing against the Galaxy S8, OnePlus 5 and iPhone 8. Missing from the list is Quad HD resolution and an OLED screen but, even so, it’s still going to be an excellent flagship smartphone.

It’s also rumoured to come with an IP waterproof rating, but we’ll have to confirm closer to release.

Tech Specs: 5.5″ IPS 1920×1080, Dual rear cameras, Snapdragon 835, 6GB RAM, 128GB Storage, Qualcomm quick-charge 4+, 3200mAh, 173 grams, Android 7.1 Nougat with Full UK network support.

Bluboo edge smartphone

Bluboo Edge – Super-budget friendly

If you’re looking for a wallet friendly bezel-less phone then the Bluboo Edge should land firmly on your radar. Whilst it’s not as elegant as some of the phones listed above, it does come with a very big positive; the low price-tag.

The Bluboo Edge is aimed at light Android users who don’t need buckets of processing power but do want a great screen to view all their media on. The 16GBs of storage is upgradable via a micro-SD card and it also features dual-SIM functionality as well a fingerprint scanner built into the home button.

Tech Specs: 5.5″1280 x 720, Gorilla Glass, MediaTek 6737 CPU, 2GB RAM, 16GB Storage, 2600mAh, 206 grams, Android 6 Marshmallow with Full UK network support.

Ulefone Future smartphone

Ulefone Future

No one can deny that the Ulefone Future has borrowed it looks from the all mighty iPhone but it’s taken a step further by offering us a bezel-less screen which makes this phone look nothing short of cutting edge-less. Add to this, some impressive hardware specifications and a side-placed fingerprint reader and you’re definitely going to get a unique futuristic experience with the Ulefone Future.

View our first impressions of the Ulefone Future.

Tech Specs: 5.5″ 1920×1080, Gorilla Glass 3, Helio P10 CPU, 4GB RAM, 32GB Storage, Quick-charge 3000mAh, USB Type-C, 185 grams, Android 6 with Full UK network support.

Elephone S3 bezel-free smartphone white

Elephone S3

Elephone have stormed onto the market in the last year and now have 2 bezel-free smartphone offerings. The latest, the Elephone S3 features full UK 4G support and packs a truly edge-less full HD screen that curves around the edges of the phone.

Although it’s not packing the latest MediaTek CPU, for day to day use, the Octo-core CPU handles most tasks easily giving you fluid overall experience. What’s great is that this phone is geared up toward to budget friendly mobile user who doesn’t want to compromise on style.

Tech Specs: 5.2″ IPS 1920×1080, MediaTek MTK6753 Octa-Core CPU, 3GB RAM, 16GB Storage, Quick-charge 2100mAh, 167 grams, Android 6 with Full UK network support.

Elephone S7 edge-less smartphone

Elephone S7

The S7 (soon to be released) is the upcoming flagship model from Elephone which also features a bezel-free display similar to the S3. The specifications available so far are quite limited but we do know that Elephone have said it will feature the top of the range MediaTek Helio X20 CPU that can compete against current flagship phones.

On a personal note I’m very happy to see that the Elephone S7 will be released with a front-facing fingerprint sensor. For someone who’s phone spends most of the day flat on a desk, rear fingerprint sensors aren’t very practical.

According to our source, Elephone will be releasing two versions of the S7: a light & a Pro version. The light version is expected to drop some of the high-end specs and come in at a lower the price. I’ll update this with more details on the Elephone S7 soon.

Tech Specs: 5.5″ 1920×1080, Helio X20 CPU, 3GB RAM, 32GB Storage, Most likely Android 6 with Full UK network support.

Nubia My Prague edgeless Smartphone white

ZTE Nubia – My Prague Elite

It’s great to see Nubia back again with another bezel-free offering after they massively impressed us with the edge-less Nubia Z9 (below). Nubia’s latest offering, the ‘My Prague’ smartphone has a full HD AMOLED screen measuring in with a whopping 424 PPI. The screen doesn’t quite curve all the way around the phone but it’s pretty close and makes the My Prague stunning to look at.

If you’re looking for an Android iPhone alternative then the My Prague is definitely worth checking out. The elite version comes with 32GB storage but both versions have an SD card slot allowing up to an extra 128GB memory card.

Tech Specs: AMOLED 5.2″ 1920×1080, 424 PPI, Snapdragon 615 CPU, 3GB RAM, 32GB Storage, Battery 2200mAh, Dual SIM, 140 grams, Android 5 partial UK network support (missing 800MHz – Band 20).

P9000 Edge Bezel-less phone

Elephone P9000 Edge (Bezel-less)

Not to be confused with the P9000 or P9000 lite which are both available with narrow bezels, the P9000 edge uses curved glass and displays no visible borders when viewed face on. Elephone have been keeping details of the P9000 Edge under wraps so far with only a few pictures and videos leaked of the device.

I have a hunch that Elephone are either; capitalising on sales of the P9000, with its thin bezels, before releasing the bezel-less ‘edge’ version or that their development team still have software issues to overcome before being able to release the P9000 Edge.

A third option that we have to consider is that the P9000 edge is just a marketing ploy by Elephone to increase brand awareness although, sources say, that the completely bezel-less P9000 does exist.

It’s likely to have similar hardware to the P9000, so I’ve listed the current specifications below although these may change before launch.

P9000 Tech Specs: 5.5″ 1920×1080, MediaTek Helio P10 CPU, 4GB RAM, 32GB Storage, Quick-charging & wireless charging 3000mAh battery, Sony IMX258 21MP + 8MP selfie, USB-Type C, Side placed fingerprint reader, 145 grams, Android 6 with full UK network support.

ZTE Nubia Z9 Bezel-less Phone

ZTE Nubia Z9

The Nubia Z9’s curved glass edges and almost borderless display combine to make one sexy looking smartphone. The beautifully vivid IPS display and glass sandwich design gives the Z9 a premium look and feels suited to a flagship smartphone.

Add to this some impressive photography capabilities and that glowing halo home button and the Nubia Z9 becomes even more impressive.

Although the Z9 was released in 2015, it’s still a great bezel-less option for 2016 if you can manage to get your hands on one. I’ve not had much luck finding online retailers that still have stock available. Currently, Nubia are focussing more on the Z9 Max 5.5″ version and the Z9 mini, but neither have the finesse or bezel-less edges of their older trend-setting brother the Nubia Z9.

Hopefully, Nubia will make a return to the bezel-less arena soon with another flagship model.

Tech Specs: 5.2″ 1920×1080, Snapdragon 810 CPU, 3/4GB RAM, 32/64GB Storage, 2900mAh, Sony IMX234, 4K video, 192 grams, Android 5 with partial UK 4G network support (full 3G support).
Oppo Bezel-less phone

Oppo Bezel-free phone

A while back now, there was a video leaked of a new Oppo smartphone that appears to have a bezel-less design. The phone in question uses a wrap around front glass effect so we can’t be entirely certain whether this is a trick of the eye.

You can see the Oppo Bezel-less video here. We haven’t had confirmation from Oppo whether they will release any phones with this technology this year but with the competition hotting up I think it’s likely we will towards the end of the year.

We haven’t had confirmation from Oppo whether they are going to release any bezel-less phones this year but with the competition hotting up I think it’s likely we will see the mysterious Oppo phone resurface towards the end of the year.

The Oppo Find 7 Plus at first glance gives the illusion of an entirely bezel-less phone but this illusion ends as soon as the screen is active where you can clearly see black borders.

I’ll update this with more information when we find out more on whether Oppo plans to release a genuinely bezel-less smartphone.
Mobile Bezel-less screen technology

The technology behind Bezel-free phones

You might be wondering why it’s taken manufacturers so long to catch up with Samsung and produce budget variants of the bezel-less screen? Let’s break it down into two reasons.

Reason number 1 is the cost & research needed to produce bezel-less technology.

A company such as Samsung has the money, resources & research to be able to create new types of technology such as an entirely border-less wrap-around screen. Smaller mobile manufacturers tend to outsource their parts which means they have to wait for 3rd party suppliers to innovate before catching up with the market leaders.

Reason number 2 is that manufacturers have had to create their own bezel-less software.

If you remove a smartphone screen bezel entirely, you then create another set of problems to overcome. When holding a phone, your hands will be gripping the edges of the screen slightly. On a phone with bezels, this is not a problem as you have an area on no-touch at the sides of the mobile screen. On a bezel-less phone, the screen will be registering these extra touches. To combat this, mobile manufacturers need to develop software that will recognise the difference between your hand gripping the phone and your hand trying to use the phone.

Thanks for reading & hit me up with any questions you have in the comments below : )