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ZTE Axon Max Android smartphone. Announced Dec 2015. Features 6.0″ IPS LCD display
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Quick Overview
  • This Mobile runs on Android 5.1 (Lollipop) powered with Octa-core (4x1.5 GHz Cortex-A53 & 4x1.2 GHz Cortex-A53).
  • This Mobile has 16 MP, PDAF, f/1.9 and has 13 MP, f/2.2 Secondary camera
  • This Mobile has 6.0 inches, 99.2 cm2 (~77.5% screen-to-body ratio) inches display IPS LCD capacitive touchscreen, 16M colors.
  • This Mobile has 32 GB, 3 GB RAM of internal memory.
  • This Mobile has Non-removable Li-Po 4140 mAh battery
  • This Mobile has Hybrid Dual SIM (Nano-SIM, dual stand-by) sim
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2G Network GSM 850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900 - SIM 1 & SIM 2
3G Network HSDPA
4G Network LTE
Sim Hybrid Dual SIM (Nano-SIM, dual stand-by)
Announced 12/12/2015
Status Available. Released 2015, December
Dimensions 160 x 80 x 7.5 mm (6.30 x 3.15 x 0.30 in)
Weight 188 g (6.63 oz)
Display Size 6.0 inches, 99.2 cm2 (~77.5% screen-to-body ratio)
MultiTouch Yes
AlertTypes Vibration; MP3, WAV ringtones
LoudSpeaker Yes
3.5mm jack Yes
CardSlot microSD, up to 256 GB (uses SIM 2 slot)
Internal 32 GB, 3 GB RAM
Speed HSPA 42.2/5.76 Mbps, LTE Cat4 150/50 Mbps
WLAN Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, Wi-Fi Direct, hotspot
Blue Tooth 4.0, A2DP, LE
USB Type-C 1.0 reversible connector
Camera Primary 16 MP, PDAF, f/1.9
Camera Features LED flash, HDR, panorama
CameraVideo 1080p@30fps
CameraSecondary 13 MP, f/2.2
OS Android 5.1 (Lollipop)
CPU Octa-core (4x1.5 GHz Cortex-A53 & 4x1.2 GHz Cortex-A53)
Sensors Fingerprint (rear-mounted), accelerometer, gyro, proximity, compass
Messaging SMS(threaded view), MMS, Email, Push Email, IM
Browser HTML5
Radio No
GPS Yes, with A-GPS, GLONASS/ BDS (region dependent)
Colors Gold
Others MP3/WAV/eAAC+ player - Document viewer - Photo/video editor
Battery Non-removable Li-Po 4140 mAh battery
Keyboard qwerty

Hands-on review: MWC 2015: ZTE Star 2

While ZTE has a big presence in Asia, it's yet to break into other markets in the same way, but at the Chinese's firm booth at MWC 2015 its latest handsets and edging closer to the standards expected from consumers in other territories.

A good example of this is the ZTE Star 2, a nicely designed handset with freshly update voice recognition for the English language - a clear signal of intent that it will be coming to Western markets.

I was told Europe could expect the Star 2 to arrive during Q2 (Apr-Jun) of this year, although exact countries are currently unknown, as is the price.

ZTE Star 2 review

The phone looks nice, with a rolling top and bottom edge and a silver rim providing a little bit of premium styling.

It's a plastic affair, but the Star 2 feels sturdy enough with its glass front and back, and it sits nicely in the hand.

At 6.9mm thick the ZTE Star 2 is suitably slender, and the limited bezel surrounding the screen keeps the proportions to a manageable 140 x 69.2mm.

ZTE Star 2 review

Power and volume keys reside on the right side of the device, while on the left you'll find trays for a microSIM and microSD. The handset's internal speaker is also located at the bottom of the left side, a placement which isn't the most inspired.

When held in one hand the speaker is usually covered by your palm, and in landscape a similar muffling occurs.

The 5-inch full HD display is excellent, it's bright and colourful which makes using the Star 2 a more enjoyable experience.

ZTE Star 2 review

It running Android 4.4.2 KitKat, which isn't the latest version 4.4, let alone Android 5.0 Lollipop. There's no word on whether it'll get a Lollipop boost in the future, but I'd say it's pretty likely.

You don't get stock Android though, with ZTE applying its own interface design - dubbed MiFavor - over the top of Google's creation. Sadly, it's not the best attempt I've seen.

It's very similar to Huawei's Emotion UI with its slightly childish icons, vibrant colours and lack of an app tray.

ZTE Star 2 review

Android purists probably won't like it, but all the functionality is still there and it is easy for first time users to pick up.

I found performance on the ZTE Star 2 was pretty good thanks to a 2.3GHz quad-core processor and 2GB of RAM running the show.

It was disappointing to find the processor was a Snapdragon 801 chip, which has been replaced not once, but twice by the 805 and more recently the 810.

ZTE Star 2 review

The handset ran smoothly with general operation not causing any problems. I did find applications weren't the quickest at loading up, but it's a very minor point.

It's the voice control options on the Star 2 which ZTE is really pushing, with the ability to make calls, open and close apps, search locations while driving and take photos all with your voice.

Many people are still uncomfortable with speaking to their phone, especially in public places, so the appeal of these options will be limited - but in certain use cases such as driving they do have a clear advantage.

With no internet connection, SIM card or contact book and in a very noisy convention centre I couldn't put the voice features to the test, so I'll be interested to see how it performs in the full review.

ZTE Star 2 review

ZTE has equipped the Star 2 with a couple of strong cameras, a 13MP round the back and a 5MP option up front.

Performance was slick and speedy, with an instant shutter button and even under the bright lights of the convention centre I was able to take a couple of pretty decent snaps.

In terms of battery life the 2300mAh should at least see out a day, but you'll have to wait for the full review before we can say for sure.

ZTE Star 2 review

Early verdict

The ZTE Star 2 appears to be a pretty accomplished smartphone with a decent set of specs and good design.

It'll likely be limited by hit and miss availability, and there's no word on pricing just yet, but if you're looking for something a bit different the Star 2 could fit the bill nicely.

Live: WWDC 2015: all the information as it happened

At WWDC 2015 in San Francisco this year we saw a slew of new announcements from the world's biggest tech firm.

The rumored launch of of iOS 9 and OS X 10.11, happened as expected, as well as the the anticipated Apple Music streaming service, as well as updates on Apple Pay and Apple Watch.

Want to read it blow by blow? Then check this out:

WWDC as it happened

12.24 - It's over. A two and half hour live blog. It's over. I can't feel my fingertips. Now to go outside to see if there's anything to take pictures of.

Bye all. It's been real. We'll all meet here each year and listen to The Weeknd to relive it.

12.23 - I've just been told it's spelled 'The Weeknd'. I don't even have children. I'm so uncool.

Bet they've never heard the entire Basshunter back catalogue though.

12.19 - Timmy C is finally wrapping up. I need this to end. My fingers hurt. I'm so tired.

He said ONE LAST THING NO PLEASE NO. Wait, there's a music performance coming, from one of the hottest new artists - it better not be U2.

Apple Music

10.52 - Apple's launching 'News'. It's content from multiple sources personalised to users. Publishers can create content with typography, graphics and more.Susan Prescott is coming onstage now to talk about this new development. She's 'Really Excited'.

Oh, it's the Weekend. Doing a premiere of his new song. Well done Mr Weekend.

12.16 - Just saw the advert - it was a lot of people listening to the same thing together in different scenarios. But it's just the radio! People don't listen to the radio like that! Hmmmm....

12.16 - It's coming later this month, it'll be $9.99 per month (with the first three months for free) and will be delivered in 100 countries on iOS 8.4.

And get this: with Android support coming later this year!

12.15 - But can you make your own playlists from the streaming service?

12.13 - Siri is getting involved too - you can ask it to play a specific song or 'play the top ten alternative rock songs' and it'll get going.

Whoops - Siri heard the wrong song. #demofail. That's one of the 5% failures, I guess.

12.11 - Now we're looking at the place where artists can post to fans. These videos and pics from the likes of Chris Cornell and Bastille are clearly at Apple's request - why would any artist use this off their own back though?

It would be great if they did, but this service needs a groundswell to get going. Again: Google Plus should have been good.

12.10 - Beats One is on! It's Zane Lowe chatting to Florence and the Machines. It sounds like Radio One.


12.09 - The streaming stuff is baked right in. It's all about recommendations though right now - can you not search for your own favourite stuff? Oh, it seems like you can through top lists.

This is all really confusing. Music videos in there as well for some reason.

12.08 - If Bono comes on stage to announce a new album, I'm throwing my laptop at him.

12.06 - Apple seems to be hiding the streaming stuff here - why is it not making a much bigger deal of it? It's more about your local music.

12.03 - Eddy Cue is about to give a demo - but first we have to give Phil Schiller a happy birthday. We're not singing though.

The new interface is a lot slicker, but I'm confused as to how easily you're going to see the streamed stuff or your own files - where's the distinction? Shouldn't matter, but if the quality is different then that matters.

Oh, there's a tab at the top. Problem solved.

12.01 - Drake is talking about how easy it is that all the information you want to talk about as a musician can now live in one place. But then again, Google Plus sounded like a game changer too.

He's also struggling with the autocue a lot too.

12.00 - Drake is on stage now. He's honored to be on stage. He's going to tell us all about he is going to use Connect to tell all his fans. He's doing some stand up now 'The internet is what we use in the rap world, it's going to be big this year, you see'.

Tuck your shirt in, Drake.

11.57 - It's Zane Lowe on video. All about how Beats One is coming from New York, LA and London, bringing music that people who love music have put together.

11.54 - Connect will allow anyone to connect - from the new to the established, allowing anyone to share their music to everyone instantly. It's designed to make it accessible to anyone - although there are big question marks on how you'll be able to cut through the noise.


Eddy Cue is up to talk about the service from a developer point of view.

11.49 - Apple Music is going to have radio from actual DJs, streaming music from the iTunes library, and combining it with the local files. Plus, in a way that shows Apple never really gave up on Ping, you can follow artists too from within the app.

''All the ways you love music, all in one place". Connect allows you to share a load of things in one, music, mixes and more plus with more people actually curating lists. Beats One is the new kind of radio, allowing you to get the best music you want next - it's a 24 hour station from three cities around the world, and it's 'only playing music that makes you feel great'.

11.48 - He's telling us how he was impressed with how easy it was to buy music in 2003 through Apple. He's properly talking about them in hushed tones.

Iovine just called the music industry a 'fragmented mess', pointed out that music streaming, music vids and following artists was all over the place.

11.46 - Apple Music is announced. And it's 'the next chapter in music'. To hear more about it - Jimmy Iovine is here.

11.45 - Video time now. Its about the history of music. Gramophones and shit like that. All to a thumping drum track.

11.44 - 'We love music...' Oh balls.

11.43 - WatchOS 2 is available to devs today, and coming to the rest of the Watch family this fall.

Tim Cook is back again now. Please let this end soon. But he's totally going to announce a music streaming service soon. I'd pay him money to not do that now. Probably couldn't afford it though.

He's just said One More Thing...

11.41 - Looking at how the native apps actually work - they're a lot faster than before. You can also reply to emails using Siri just by opening it up and saying 'Reply' and whatever panicked message you give when you realise you have to get it right first time.

11.38 - Demo time now. This is never going to end.


11.36 - The Apple Watch will also be able to use your Wi-Fi networks autonomously - that's something that took Android Wear a long time to do.

You can now access the microphone and the speaker in native apps too, if you're a Watch dev. And even show short form video on the Watch. Can't ever see that being good.

But better news: you can grab heart rate data for third party apps, so you'll have access to the zone training you're in for something like Strava.


11.35 - There's more - WatchKit is up for the chat. Man, I keep forgetting how tired I get from WWDC live blogs. THEY SAY SO MUCH.


11.34 - Maps is on there with mass transit directions, and Siri is getting in on the act too. Or you can get Siri to change the lighting in your house, if you're one of the one people that have a Homekit enabled house.

11.33 - Siri is getting involved too - you can say 'Go for a run' or 'Start a 300 calorie bike ride' without having to touch the Watch. That's cool - plus there are new achievements too.

If only it had GPS onboard - this would be a really awesome fitness watch.

11.31 - There's a night stand mode too - meaning you can use the digital crown to snooze or cancel the alarms.

You can also add more people to your Favorites right from the Watch - finally. That's more pictures of penises - and with more colors now too!

11.29 - New Complications to give more information accessibility to developers - so you can see car charge, HomeKit devices and more. Time travel is coming to the Watch too, so you can cycle forward and see what's happening.


11.27 - New watch faces coming - photos app throws your pictures in. Or you can have timelapse photography so you can have the right time of the day showing when you look. It's really nice - the Apple Watch might not be our best smartwatch at the moment, but it's certainly the most impressive looking.

Watch OS

11.26 - The new watchOS will have new capabilities and bring native apps to the wrist - Kevin Lynch is back again. This man says he is super excited, but he doesn't sound it. I thought he had a cold last time.

11.25 - Cook is talking about the opportunity to change things next - we're talking about watchOS. Cook just called it a 'giant moment' to bring native apps to the Watch.

Woo, you won't need the phone!

11.22 - This is quite a stereotypical Apple video. Talking about 'bringing music to deaf children', 'taking the classroom with you', and big statements about how it all emotionally connects. All to a thumping soundtrack.

11.20 - Someone just compared the App Store to the industrial revolution - and said it was bigger. And pointed out that it had more users than electricity at the start.

Yeah, but there were fewer people alive back then. And it was more expensive. AND IT WAS FRICKING ELECTRICITY - you know, the thing that Apple uses.

This is close to The Beatles' 'bigger than jesus' quote.

11.18 - Cook is so dramatic. He's clearly building to something bigger - perhaps a music streaming service? But first - a video so we can all try and catch up with the typing.

iOS 9 full download

11.17 - 100 billion app downloads from the App Store. That's a high number. FACT. And $30 billion has gone to developers.

11.15 - iOS 9 coming for developers now, a public beta in July and the rest of the world in the fall. And it'll support all the devices that could use iOS 8 - so everything back to iPhone 4S and iPad 2, which is pretty good.

Key question: will the experience be any good? It usually gets terrible on old devices... but you should probably upgrade the iPhone 4S if you're still using it.

Tim Cook back up now wrapping up. Classic Cook.


11.13 - Swift 2 is here. I'm praying a Taylor clone is coming on stage.

Wait, no, it's about developer things. Protocol extensions and stuff about Xcode. Uh-oh. Apple thinks this is the next big coding language that we'll be using for the next 20 years.

Apple is announcing that Swift is going to be open source, allowing people to put it on all kinds of machines. The room just lost its shit. There's a kid in the scholarships section whose jaw literally dropped open. It's coming for Linux.

11.12 - CarPlay is going wireless - you won't need to get your phone out your bag when you get in your vehicle for it to work.

11.10 - iOS 9 is coming for developers to add more bits into Apple devices - Gameplay Kit and two others to allow new features like better AI in games and letting users share recorded video.

Healthkit is getting more - UV exposure, water intake and reproductive health added in. Wait, what was that last one?

More acceptance for sensors, allowing you to access your home from iCloud if you've got any HomeKit devices.

11.08 - Low power mode is coming to the iPhone. This is like a checklist of things Android's had for years - so glad it's coming to the iPhone too. However, the efficiency update is only going to add 1 hour per day on battery, which means about 6% more.

Not a lot. but at least the update is going to be smaller when you have to do the update.

11.05 - The two finger access to the text looks really clever. If it works, the iPad is going to be something that is really easy to use.

It does look a lot like a fancier-looking version of Windows. Picture in picture video on your iPad too! Samsung is definitely going to have a jab pointing out it did this on the S3 nearly four years ago.

The slideover function is coming to iPad Air, Air 2, mini 2 and mini 3 - but the split view is only coming to the iPad 2.

11.02 - We're getting proper multi-window multi-tasking on the iPad. Craig is talking us through it.

Tap and you'll get the list of apps you can switch through. With a single finger swipe from the side you can get in messages with 'swipeover' allowing better access to bring in other applications.

Multi taksing

Swipeover seems to be a thin column on the right hand side, while you're working on the main app to the left. You can have a thinner app on the right, and a larger on the left, with multitouch possible on both.

11.00 - With iOS 9, shortcuts are coming to the keyboard so you can add in bits from the clipboard etc. Two fingers down on the keyboard will turn it into a trackpad, so you can edit quicker than ever before without having to interact with the text using your fingers.

If you want to click a keyboard in, and you can use shortcuts with the keyboard, so the Mac-style app switcher.

10.58 - No mention of release date, but there are a lot of publishers in there at the start, so it's clearly going to be baked into iOS 9, when that comes (probably) later in September.

News users will get 30 news articles a day to users of News, Conde Nast will have 17 magazines and there will be loads of others - but will they want to have it in an aggregation app? Reader is barely used in Safari, yet Pocket still thrives.

It's going to roll out in the UK, US and Australia first. And 'we're really gonna like it'.

Next up, iPad...

10.56 - There's a lot going on here. Rich infographics are in there, but the personalised feed is going to be an interesting one. You can create feeds based on keywords - again, this is a Flipboard rival.

10.53 - You can do it by title or topic, and the feed will build something for you. It's HTC's Blinkfeed, Flipboard and Feedly mashed into one - but it has interactive elements, sliding text, and swiped gestures to get through.


This means newspapers and magazines look like they're supposed to - but do the publishers have to work hard to code this content in?

10.52 - Apple's launching 'News'. It's content from multiple sources personalised to users. Publishers can create content with typography, graphics and more.

Susan Prescott is coming onstage now to talk about this new development. She's 'Really Excited'.

10.51 - A lot of cities at the start: London, Berlin, Baltimore, Washington DC, New York and more. Plus you'll find info on whether they support Apple Pay too. TIE IN KLAXON.

10.48 - Maps isn't being killed! 5 billion user requests per week - 3.5x more than Google Maps. Although that's probably because each time you use it, Apple Maps shows you the wrong place.

Transit is coming to map, emphasising the locations nearby with lines that run through them. This isn't going to be groundbreaking for anyone that's used Google Maps in the last five years.

Apple reckons it's taken the time to make it better though: Apple has surveyed all the entrances and exits so you can actually get out properly. THAT'S really useful.

10.47 - Notes is getting overhauled too - with sketches in there, links or pages from Safari, you can add a link with a tab right into your app.

10.45 - Rewards are coming too - but bigger news: Apple Passbook is becoming Apple Wallet . Kinda funny, given most other Wallet services from rivals have been canned.


10.44 - Apple Pay is coming to the UK NEXT MONTH! 70% of the debit cards will support it! Boots! Waitrose! THE DREAM IS COMING.

And even TFL is getting onboard. This is great news for contactless payments in general - the UK is already well set, but having this on a phone is really going to galvanise it. Come on Samsung / Android, you're up next.

10.42 - More than 1 million Apple Pay merchants next months. Developers are seeing a 2x increase in merchant transactions through Apple Pay, apparently. Seems a lot.

Etsy, Pinterest and more are involved. Pinterest's mooted payment system is going to use Apple Pay and only on iOS.

Apple Pay

10.41 - There's a lady on stage! Jennifer Bailey. But Apple Pay is being talked about - Discover is getting on board in the US. It's always the US.

More brands, including JC Penney's, or Cleveland Cavaliers or Golden State Warriors, are allowing you to use Apple Pay. Square, the mobile payments reader, can take Apple Pay too.

10.38 - The phone's search is a lot more powerful than before. You can easily do things like see Siri suggestions for contacts that are relevant, or get info on comparing weights etc.

He just called Siri your assistant. Cortana burn again.

Good news is the privacy is safe, according to Apple. Apparently 'we don't want to know your info' - everything is either anonymous or on your device.

10.35 - Getting another lol-tastic demo from Craig. When he wakes up and meditates each morning, the app will be ready and waiting. Then he gets a message asking him to do something, he can tell Siri 'remind me about this'.

Then he heads to his gym, when he plugs headphones in. The music app pops up - but MAN, he gets an invite in an email. And it's already in his calendar! WHAT?

10.33 - Spotlight is a lot deeper now. You've got rich snippets for things like sports scores, video content and more - it's very Google Now.

10.32 - If you get a call with someone you don't know, Siri will scan your email and see if there's anything in there that might be relevant and suggest it. It seems weird that it doesn't do what Google does and search the net for it.


10.30 - there's been a 40% reduction in word error rate for Siri - down to just 5%. You can ask it a lot more like 'show me photos from London last June' and it'll have a look for you.

You can set reminders too - like when you're in a car, as it can tell when you're in an auto now - and it can contextually be reminded on things like links by just saying 'this'.

But in iOS 9 is going to be pre-emptive. Your iOS 9 device will learn and do things like open your music first thing in the morning when you usually go for a run.

This is a smackdown to Cortana.

10.28 - Onto iOS. iOS 8 was a good thing, apparently, with an 83% of active iPhone users using the latest OS.

Then we see the Android 5 adoption rate. It's pretty low at just over 12%.

10.27 - Epic coming offstage now. Craig-o is back now, telling us that other developers are coming in - Unreal Engine, The Foundry and Blizzard.

That's El Capitan, improvements to both the UI and performance. And it's available to developers today. There will be a public beta in July and rolling out with a free update 'this fall.

10.25 - We're looking at a demo now - apparently it's 70% more efficient on the CPU. A man just hit a monster with a guitar.

'We're going to need a bigger fort'. Clever wordplay.


10.21 - Metal - the slicker graphical element in iOS - is coming to Mac now. So apps on the computer will be a lot more effiecient. Adobe came in and was able to deliver 8x improvement in some of its apps, and take UI that was non-interactive and make it interactive thanks to Metal.

OS X apps will be coming with this new feature if brands want to use it.

Also it brings 10x performance in drawing performance. Epic are coming onstage. Josh Adams and Billy Bramer are coming on for a demo.


10.19 - Side by side window management is improved, with more ability to drag stuff from one to the next and see an exploded view. It's like how the Samsung dual window function is supposed to work on a phone, but it's much easier to use on a Mac.

You know, because it's bigger. Hmm... that's it for the 'improvements' in EC. Spotlight is more powerful, swiping to delete in mail, pinned sites in Safari and the ability to mute apps, Notes app that can support better font management and better window management to deliver an improved Mission Control and Split View to get more shiz done.

10.17 - Window management - aka the sexy part of the conference. You can open tabs in compose, drag photos into a mail window and... well... that's it. People still clapped it.

10.15 - Pinned sites in Safari now have more power - if a website starts playing music you can tap the icon at the top to mute all tabs to make sure you can stop the embarrassing sounds.

Talking through Spotlight too - it's more intuitive so you can ask things like 'Documents I worked on last June' and they'll pop up.

10.13 - Going through EC now - the first big things of the process. Number one is the cursor goes massive when you turn on the screen so you can find your cursor.


10.12 - Craig Federighi is onstage doing his usual jokes onstage about marketing teams. But here's the name: OS X El Capitan.

10.10 - Confirmation of native apps coming to the Watch OS and we're going to hear a lot more about OS X and iOS.

10.08 - Tim Cook is talking about balls. Baseballs. Apparently something with baseball happened and the rich baseball players wanted Apple stuff and so Apple gave it to them. Thank god.

10.04 - It's really Bill Hader. There's a lot of actual funny going on in this beginning - Danny Pudi is in it, there's a joke about Windows, free Watches. And now Tim Cook is here!

10.00 It's go time. 'David LeGary' is talking about his 'vision' for the opening of WWDC.


09.55 - We're being told that it's about to start and to turn off all phones. Ha. Good luck.

09.51 - Not much happening still - people are stressing about the WiFi A LOT and there are a lot of Apple execs around. Standard WWDC stuff.

09.44 - Zane Lowe just wandered past. Wearing a leather jacket. Probably to hide the sweat of the new streaming service that's about to be announced.

09.39 - Jony Ive is here. He's wearing a cotton blue number atop his broad shoulders. #fashionwwdc

09.36 - Settled in my seat and there's a definite aroma of mint around. And a fancy shower gel. I think it's someone sitting near me.

The girl next to me is frantically messing around with DNS settings as the WiFi is a bit patchy here, so if I suddenly stop typing mid-senten

09.20 - CONFIRMED: Macs will be involved at some point in today's keynote.

WWDC 2015 live blog

09.10 - "The epicenter of change" apparently. Wish it read "epic center" - would have been cooler.

WWDC 2015 live blog

09.00 - We're here! The sun is out, I'm in shorts and there's a spring in my step. Now to go and sit inside for several hours in a windowless room. Oh.

WWDC 2015 live blog

WWDC 2015 live blog

08.15 - The latest image in the Apple store highlight's the firm's four core products - Watch, iPhone, iPad and MacBook - and you can expect all of them to get a mention today.

Apple products

05.47 PDT - As the sun rises over San Francisco we wonder how Google is feeling today. Can Apple compete with Android M? How many times will Tim Cook say gorgeous? What ever happened to scarf guy?

04.21 PDT - BIG NEWS. Tim Cook is awake. He's like a kid on Christmas, knocking on his parent's bedroom door as they tell him to "go back to f***ing bed" - in this case though, the parent is Jony Ive, and Jony loves a lie in.

Tim Cook is awake

03.00 PDT - Just seven hours to go until Tim Cook takes to the stage at Moscone West - wonder how he's sleeping?

Updated: 50 best iPhone games 2015

50 best iPhone games: 1-25

Gaming on iOS is so big that the platform is becoming dominant enough to threaten the likes of Nintendo and Sony, long-reigning kings of the mobile gaming hill.

Yet for all iOS's gaming prowess, there's no escaping the fact the App Store has a lot of dross. Apple's relative openness, in enabling anyone to develop for the system, means there's almost no meaningful quality control. The flip-side is that previously undiscovered indie talent can find an outlet for frequently innovative fare.

Too often, though, people focus only on the negative, mistaking stories about in-app purchases and low-quality clones for evidence that there are no good games on iOS. But there are. In fact, the best games on iOS are among the very best on any platform, mixing traditional fare with titles that could only have appeared on a capable multi-touch device. Here are our current favourites…

1. Asphalt 8 (free)

Some time long ago, the gaming gods apparently decreed that racing games should be dull and grey, on grey tracks, with grey controls. Thankfully Gameloft chose to ignore their foolish omniscient notions - along with a large chunk of real-world physics - with Asphalt 8: Airborne. Here, then, you zoom along at ludicrous speeds, drifting for miles through exciting city courses, occasionally being hurled into the air to perform stunts that absolutely aren't acceptable according to the car manufacturer's warranty.

50 best iPhone games: the greatest free and paid games around

2. Badland ($3.99/£2.49)

This darkly humorous title at its core echoes copter-style games, in you prodding the screen to make your avatar fly. But the hazards and traps are devious and plentiful, imaginative and deadly contraptions in silhouette, ready to eliminate any passing creature. Your retaliation in Badland comes via cloning your flying monster, and figuring out how to manipulate the environment to bring as many clones home as possible.

50 best iPhone games: the greatest free and paid games around

3. Beat Sneak Bandit ($2.99/£1.99)

One thumb is plenty when a game's so cleverly designed. Beat Sneak Bandit is part rhythm-action, part platformer and part stealth game, with the titular hero aiming to steal back the world's clocks from the nefarious Duke Clockface. You move on the beat, rebounding off walls, and avoiding guards and alarms. It's clever, charming and brilliant.

4. Bejeweled (free)

We've lost count of how many gem-swappers exist for iOS, but PopCap's Bejeweled has a long history, its maturity reflected in this iPhone release. Along with a polished standard mode, where you match three or more gems with each swap, there's Diamond Mine (dig into the ground), Butterflies (save insects from spider-ronch doom), and Poker (make 'hands' of gems).

50 best iPhone games: the greatest free and paid games around

5. Beyond Ynth ($1.99/£1.49)

This fantastic platform puzzler stars a bug who's oddly averse to flying. Instead, he gets about 2D levels by rolling around in boxes full of platforms. Beyond Ynth hangs on a quest, but each level forms a devious test, where you must figure out precisely how to reach the end via careful use of boxes, switches and even environmental hazards.

50 best iPhone games: the greatest free and paid games around

6. Bit Pilot ($1.99/£1.49)

A pilot finds himself trapped inside a tiny area of space frequented by an alarming number of deadly asteroids. You must stave off death for as long as possible. Bit Pilot is the best of the iOS avoid 'em ups, with precise one- and two-thumb controls guiding your tiny ship, effortlessly dodging between rocky foes — until the inevitable collision.

50 best iPhone games: the greatest free and paid games around

7. Blackbar ($2.99/£1.99)

As much a warning about digital surveillance as a word-based puzzler, Blackbar is a unique and compelling iOS classic. The game comprises single screens of communications, many involving your friend who's gone to work in the city, which you soon learn is part of a worryingly oppressive society. You literally fill in the blanks, while becoming immersed in a stark dystopian reality that's fortunately still peppered with warmth, humour and humanity.

8. Blek ($0.99/69p)

Blek is akin to shepherding semi-sentient calligraphy through a series of dexterity tests. Each sparse screen has one or more dots that needs collecting, which is achieved by drawing a squiggle that's then set in motion. To say the game can be opaque is putting it lightly, but as a voyage of discovery, there are few touchscreen games that come close.


9. Boson X ($2.99/£1.99)

In what we can only assume is a totally accurate representation of what boffins in Geneva get up to, Boson X finds scientists sprinting inside colliders, running over energy panels and then discovering particles by leaping into the abyss. It's equal parts Super Hexagon, Tempest and Canabalt, and it's very addictive indeed.

50 best iPhone games: the greatest free and paid games around

10. Coolson's Pocket Pack ($0.99/69p)

This word puzzler's all about chaining. You drag tiles from the bottom of the well and make short words; do so without swapping any letters from the well's bottom row or the area you create the words and you start amassing huge points. Coolson's Pocket Pack is then a test of nerve, and your ability to not forget every single short word in the dictionary when under pressure.

11. CRUSH! ($1.99/£1.49)

CRUSH! is deceptive. At first, it appears to be little more than a collapse game, where you prod a coloured tile, only for the rest to collapse into the now empty space. But subtle changes to the formula elevate this title to greatness: the tiles wrap around, and each removal sees your pile jump towards a line of death. So even when tiles are moving at speed, you must carefully consider each tap.

50 best iPhone games: the greatest free and paid games around

12. Dark Nebula 2 HD ($2.99/£1.99)

One of the first titles to truly make use of the iPhone gyro, Dark Nebula was a beautiful tilt-based steampunk adventure and dexterity test, with you leading a strange craft through maze-like levels. Dark Nebula 2 ramped up the beauty and complexity, and the HD reissue added iPad and Retina support. The title still feels fresh and is perfectly suited to mobile, rewarding speed-runs and careful exploration of each level alike.

13. David. ($1.99/£1.49)

David. is a game that flirts with the conventional but comes across as half art piece, half brutally difficult action game. The eponymous hero is a simple square, charged with ridding the world of evil shapes. The controls broadly align with platform games, but David. goes all slow-motion when held, whereupon you can unleash colourful blobs of death on multi-angled foes. Tricky level design tests your ability to move, leap, plan, and tackle encroaching enemies while everyone's floating about as if immersed in water.


14. Death Ray Manta ($0.99/69p)

Akin to what Robotron might have looked like had its developer managed to recreate a 24-hour sherbet binge on-screen, Death Ray Manta is a wonderful, eye-searing twin-stick shooter. But whereas you initially think KILL ALL THE THINGS, each level contains a collectable 'tiffin'. Death Ray Manta therefore becomes both shooter and puzzler as you attempt to score the maximum 64 — and you've only got one life.

50 best iPhone games: the greatest free and paid games around

15. Device 6 ($3.99/£2.49)

Device 6 is first and foremost a story — a mystery into which protagonist Anna finds herself propelled. She awakes on an island, but where is she? How did she get there? Why can't she remember anything? The game fuses literature with adventuring, the very words forming corridors you travel along, integrated puzzles being dotted about for you to investigate. It's a truly inspiring experience, an imaginative, ambitious and brilliantly realised creation that showcases how iOS can be the home for something unique and wonderful.

16. Devil's Attorney ($1.99/£1.49)

A satirical take on 1980s lawyering, this turn-based strategy has you battling in court by using your legal skills on the opposition, who then fight back after you've exhausted your action points. Wins result in cash that can be spent on goods that boost your materialism, decadence and vanity, which results in new skills. Our verdict? Devil's Attorney is a very silly (or, depending on your outlook, entirely accurate) and compelling take on court-based sparring.

Devil's Attorney

17. Eliss Infinity ($2.99/£1.99)

Eliss was the first game to truly take advantage of iOS's multitouch capabilities, with you combining and tearing apart planets to fling into like-coloured and suitably sized wormholes. Eliss Infinity, a semi-sequel, brings the original's levels into glorious Retina and adds a totally bonkers endless mode. Unique, challenging and fun, this is a game that defines the platform.

18. Frisbee Forever 2 (Free)

We were big fans of the original Frisbee Forever, with its Nintendo-like fling-a-plastic-disc about larks. Frisbee Forever 2's essentially more of the same, but prettier, smoother and with wilder locations in which to fly through hoops and collect stars. It's lovely and costs precisely zero pence, so download it.

50 best iPhone games: the greatest free and paid games around

19. Gridrunner (Free)

Jeff Minter is a shoot 'em up genius, and his Gridrunner series has a long history, starting out on the VIC-20, at the dawn of home gaming. This update riffs off classic Namco arcade machines but also shoves modern bullet-hell mechanics into a claustrophobic single screen. And in this version's survival mode, you have just one life. Argh! The 69p/99c 'Oxtended Mode' in-app purchase adds the rest of the standard game.

20. Hitman GO ($4.99/£2.99)

Square Enix would have been on a hiding to nothing converting its free-roaming 3D game to touchscreens, and so it's great to see the company do something entirely different with Hitman GO. Although still echoing the original series, this touchscreen title is presented as a board game of sorts, with turn-based actions against clockwork opposition. You must figure out your way to the prize, without getting knocked off (the board). It's an oddly adorable take on assassination, and one of the best iOS puzzlers.

Hitman GO

21. Impossible Road ($1.99/£1.49)

A roller-coaster ribbon of road winds through space, and your only aim is to stay on it and reach the highest-numbered gate. But Impossible Road is sneaky: the winding track is one you can leave and rejoin, if you've enough skill, 'cheating' your way to higher scores. It's like the distillation of Super Monkey Ball, Rainbow Road and queue-skipping, all bundled up in a stark, razor-sharp package.

50 best iPhone games: the greatest free and paid games around

22. Leo's Fortune ($4.99/£2.99)

Leo's Fortune finds gruff hairball Leo in search of his gold, which has been dropped in a suspiciously trail-like manner across typically platform-game environments. As he scoops up coins, he finds himself whizzing round Sonic-style loops, solving puzzles by manipulating the environment, and negotiating increasingly complex and deadly pathways. It's a beautiful game, full of character, and well-suited to quick bursts on your iPhone.

Leo's Fortune

23. Letterpress (Free)

What mad fool welds Boggle to tug o' war Risk-style land-grabbing? The kind who doesn't want anyone to get any work done again, ever, that's who. Letterpress is, simply, the best word game on the App Store. You make words to win points and temporarily 'lock' letters from your opponent by surrounding them. The result is a tense asynchronous two-player game with plenty of last-move wins and general gnashing of teeth when you realise 'qin' is in fact an acceptable word.

24. Limbo ($4.99/£2.99)

A boy awakens in hell, and must work his way through a deadly forest. Gruesome deaths and trial and error gradually lead to progress, as he forces his way deeper into the gloom and greater mystery. Originating on the Xbox, Limbo fares surprisingly well on iOS, with smartly designed controls; and its eerie beauty and intriguing environments remain hypnotic.

50 best iPhone games: the greatest free and paid games around

25. Magnetic Billiards (free)

A game that could have been called Reverse Pool For Show-Offs, Magnetic Billiards lacks pockets. Instead, the aim is to join like-coloured balls that cling together on colliding. Along the way, you get more points for trick shots and 'buzzing' other balls that must otherwise be avoided. 20 diverse tables are provided for free, and many more can be unlocked for $1.99/£1.49.

50 best iPhone games: 26-50.

26. Micro Miners ($1.99/£1.49)

Marrying the elegance of digging games like Where's My Water? with the semi-controllable critters from Lemmings, Micro Miners is a superb real-time puzzler. Initially simple, the game is soon complicated by the need to switch the colour of miners, collect objects, and avoid or utilise deadly gas and lava. It's extremely tough later on, but you'll see it through to the bitter end.

50 best iPhone games: the greatest free and paid games around

27. Mikey Hooks ($1.99/£1.49)

If iOS is supposed to be no good for traditional 2D platform games, it's a good job no-one told the developer of Mikey Hooks. The mechanics aren't a million miles away from Nintendo titles starring a certain plumber, but Mikey's also armed with a rope that can attach to hooks dotted about the levels, enabling him to speedily swing to glory. An emphasis on time-attack racing and surprisingly solid controls round out a first-rate title.

50 best iPhone games: the greatest free and paid games around

28. Monument Valley ($3.99/£2.49)

In Monument Valley, you journey through delightful Escher-like landscapes, manipulating the very architecture to build impossible paths along which to explore. It's not the most challenging of games (nor one with the most coherent of storylines), but each scene is a gorgeous and mesmerising bite-sized experience that showcases how important great craft is in the best iOS titles.


29. Need For Speed Most Wanted ($6.99/£2.99)

Racing games are all very well, but too many aim for simulation rather than evoking the glorious feeling of speeding along like a maniac. Most Wanted absolutely nails the fun side of arcade racing, and is reminiscent of classic console title OutRun 2 in enabling you to effortlessly drift for miles. Add to that varied city streets on which to best rivals and avoid (or smash) the cops, and you've a tremendous iOS racer.

50 best iPhone games: the greatest free and paid games around

30. New Star Soccer (Free)

Starting out as a fresh-faced teen in a lowly non-league side, your aim in New Star Soccer is to make your way to a top-flight club. Along the way, you get chances in each match to win balls and score goals. It's management-lite with fun playable highlights, and although there's a whiff of freemium in the energy model, New Star Soccer's top-of-the-table, if you're willing to put in a few bucks here and there.

50 best iPhone games: the greatest free and paid games around

31. Osmos ($2.99/£1.99)

This superb arcade puzzler is at times microscopic and at others galactic in nature, as you use the power of physics and time to move your 'mote' about. Some levels in Osmos are primordial soup, the mote propelled by ejecting bits of itself, all the while aiming to absorb everything around it; elsewhere, motes circle sun-like 'Attractors', and your challenge becomes one of understanding the intersecting trajectories of orbital paths.

50 best iPhone games: the greatest free and paid games around

32. Plants vs Zombies ($0.99/69p)

Yes, we know there's a Plants vs. Zombies 2, but some dolt infected that with a pointless time-travel gimmick and a freemium business model. The charming, amusing, silly and sweet original remains where it's at. For the uninitiated, you repel zombies with the power of hostile plants. Countless other defence titles exist for iOS, but PopCap's classic, Plants vs Zombies, is still the best.

50 best iPhone games: the greatest free and paid games around

33. PUK ($1.99/£1.49)

PUK reminds us of what someone with a minimalism fetish might make of Angry Birds, before speeding everything up to manic levels. Here, each level lasts mere seconds, as you frantically fling discs at portals; and then just as you've got into the groove, deadly black levels aim to throw you off balance. There are no cartoon squawks here — just pure, adrenaline-fuelled arcade action.

34. Rayman Fiesta Run ($2.99/£1.99)

The iOS Rayman games are considered by some to be reductive, overly simplifying console-style platforming to an instant runner with bells on. We instead consider Ubisoft's games distilled: they take the essence of platforming action — running, jumping, timing — and make it truly fit for mobile. Smart, varied level and character design, along with a well-considered unlock mechanism, ensure Rayman Fiesta Run's an iOS classic.

50 best iPhone games: the greatest free and paid games around

35. Ridiculous Fishing ($2.99/£1.99)

If Ridiculous Fishing is what fishing's really like, we've been missing out all these years. An angular fisherman casts his line into the inky gloom, where you cunningly avoid fish by tilting your device. Snag one and the hero reels the line back in, and you jerk your iPhone from side to side, aiming to catch as many fish as possible. At the surface, the catch is flung into the sky, to be blasted to pieces by powerful weaponry. Longevity's secured by an amusing in-game store and social network parody, along with several fishing spots to visit.

36. Rocket Robo ($0.99/69p)

It's not the most innovative game around, but Rocket Robo makes up for it with bags of character, smart level design, and tight controls. You guide your little floating droid about the place, collecting stars and swiping in and out of the screen. The first few levels are extremely simple, but you're soon introduced to complex, cunning layouts and plenty of gimmicks that add some real bite to the cutesy proceedings.

Rocket Robo

37. Smash Hit (free)

If you find catharsis in smashing things, Smash Hit will leave you in a totally blissed-out state. You float through the void, lobbing metal balls at glass objects, clearing a path and chaining collisions. Over time, the paths become increasingly complex, the camera begins to whirl, and the shots get very demanding, depleting your meagre resources. A single one-time 'premium' in app purchase upgrade exists should you want to start out on any sections of the journey you've managed to already reach.

Smash Hit

38. SpellTower ($1.99/£1.49)

SpellTower is a fantastic word game that starts off easy. You get a grid of letters and remove them by dragging out words. Your only foe is gravity, letters falling into empty space as completed words disappear. But then come new modes, with ferocious timers and numbered letters that won't vanish unless you craft long enough words. And there always seem to be too many Vs!

39. Super Hexagon ($2.99/£1.99)

Ah, Super Hexagon. We remember that punishing first game, which must have lasted all of three seconds. Much like the next — and the next. But then we recognised patterns in the walls that closed in on our tiny ship, and learned to react and dodge. Then you threw increasingly tough difficulty levels at us, and we've been smitten ever since.

50 best iPhone games: the greatest free and paid games around

40. Super Monsters Ate My Condo

Logic? Pah! Sanity? Pfft! We care not for such things, yells Super Monsters Ate My Condo. It then gets on with turning the match-three genre and Jenga-style tower-building into a relentless time-attack cartoon fest of apartment-munching, explosions, giant tantrums and opera. No, really.

50 best iPhone games: the greatest free and paid games around

41. Super Stickman Golf 2 ($0.99/69p)

If you've often thought golf would be much better if it was played on Mars, or in a giant castle, or in dank caverns with glue-like surfaces, Super Stickman Golf 2 is the game for you. Its side-on charms echo Angry Birds in its artillery core, but this is a far smarter and more polished game. It also boasts two equally brilliant but different multiplayer modes: one-on-one asynchronous play and frantic multiplayer racing.

50 best iPhone games: the greatest free and paid games around

42. Superbrothers: Sword and Sworcery EP ($4.99/£2.99)

Apple's mobile platform has become an unlikely home for traditional point-and-click adventures. Sword & Sworcery has long been a favourite, with its sense of mystery, palpable atmosphere, gorgeous pixel art and evocative soundtrack. Exploratory in nature, this is a true /adventure/ in the real sense of the word, and it's absolutely not to be missed.

50 best iPhone games: the greatest free and paid games around

43. Threes! ($1.99/£1.49)

Threes! is all about matching numbered cards. 1s and 2s merge to make 3s, and then pairs of identical cards can subsequently be merged, doubling their face value. With each swipe, a new card enters the tiny grid, forcing you to carefully manage your growing collection, and think many moves ahead. The ingenious mix of risk and reward makes it hugely frustrating when you're a fraction from an elusive 1536 card, but so addictive you'll immediately want another go.

44. Tiny Wings ($0.99/69p)

This sweet endless title stars a bird who loves to fly but doesn't have the wings for it. Instead, she uses gravity, sliding down hills and then propelling herself into the air from the top of adjacent slopes. Meanwhile, in another mode, her offspring are happily racing, bounding over lakes, eager to earn the biggest fish from their mother. Whichever route you take, Tiny Wings is a vibrant, warm and friendly experience.

50 best iPhone games: the greatest free and paid games around

45. Trainyard ($3.99/£2.49)

Trainyard is another devious puzzler that at first seems a cinch. Initially, you merely drag tracks to lead trains between stations of the same colour. But then rocks enter the fray, along with colour-mixing and train-splitting. Before you know it, you've 14 stations, seven trains, hazards aplenty and an aching brain from figuring out how to get all the trains home safely.

50 best iPhone games: the greatest free and paid games around

46. Monument Valley ($3.99/£2.99)

It might not be the most challenging game in the world, but Monument Valley is a short, sweet platformer that everyone should play through at least once. Its beautiful style is very Escher-esque, but even he'd have a hard time making his way through some of these labyrinths. More than worth its price.

47. Walking Dead (Free)

We do like a good zombie yarn, as long as we're not the subject matter, having just had our brains eaten. Walking Dead successfully jumped from comic to TV screen, and it's just as good in its interactive incarnation. The first part of the story is free, and you can then buy new episodes; if you survive, season 2 is also available.

50 best iPhone games: the greatest free and paid games around

48. WaveWave ($2.99/£1.99)

Wave Wave is cut from similar cloth as Super Hexagon. If anything, though, this demanding survival game is simpler and tougher than its forebear. It's a one-thumb affair, with you tapping to alter the direction of your line that zig-zags its way through a gauntlet of triangles as the screen lurches and spins. It's a mesmerising but utterly ferocious experience.

Wave Wave

49. Year Walk ($3.99/£2.49)

Year Walk preceded the same developer's iOS masterpiece Device 6, but is equally daring. It's a first-person adventure of sorts, with more than a nod towards horror literature and, frankly, the just plain weird. It's unsettling, clever, distinctive and beautifully crafted — another unmissable and original touchscreen creation.

50 best iPhone games: the greatest free and paid games around

50. Zen Bound 2 ($2.99/£1.99)

One of the most tactile puzzlers around, Zen Bound 2 doesn't sound terribly exciting, in that you're wrapping sculptures in rope. But the atmosphere and polish combine with a nagging percentage bar, urging you to perfect each level. With no time limit, it's one of the more soothing puzzlers in this round-up, but it also never drifts towards the noodly.

Best free iPhone apps: 90 to choose from!