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The 10 best not-so-new phones: Why last year’s models make great deals



There are some fantastic smartphones available today and new ones launch every couple of months. Prices for flagships from Apple and Samsung now exceed $1,000, while others are not far behind. There’s another option, though, for those who want to save some money and still have an extremely capable phone.

CNET: Over-the-air wireless charging will come to smartphones

Over the past couple of years, we have seen smartphones released with minor improvements, along with a slowdown in smartphone sales, thanks in large part to the high quality of smartphones and nearly complete saturation of the market.

The good news for consumers is that you do not need the latest and greatest smartphone. Models that are a year or two old are very capable, have had updates released to perfect their performance, and can be found for hundreds left that the latest flagships. The case and accessory market for older phones also means you can pick up excellent cases at huge savings. It’s also less stressful if you break a phone that is hundreds less than a flagship and need a replacement.

Let’s look at 10 phones to consider as you ignore the hype around the shiny new phones coming in the next month or so. They are not in any sort of ranked order, but know they all are solid phones that are definitely worth consideration.

The best not-so-new phones

(Image: ZDNet)

Samsung Galaxy Note 8

Since the Galaxy Note 9 is a top pick for my 10 best, let’s start this list with the Samsung Galaxy Note from late 2017, the Galaxy Note 8.

Also: Samsung Galaxy Note 8 review (8.9/10) CNET

After the disastrous Note 7 launch, Samsung came back with a conservative device in the Note 8. The S Pen continues to be a major benefit of the Note 8, while the Infinity Display, dual rear cameras, microSD card slot, headphone jack, and all the other specifications make it as competitive today as it was in late 2017.

The Note 9 is priced from $850 (some special $150 discounts are available) to $1,250, while you can find the Note 8 new from Samsung starting at $670. The Note 8 is also available from other online retailers, like B&H, for as low as $570. You can also find it in a range of conditions on Swappa starting in the $300 to $600 range.

The major improvements in the Note 9 are the switch to a Bluetooth-enabled S Pen and moving the rear fingerprint scanner to the center of the phone instead of having it next to the dual cameras. There is still a ton of functionality with the S Pen in the Note 8, and it is a very capable device today.


(Image: ZDNet)

Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus

The Galaxy S10 line is launching soon and there are deals on last year’s Galaxy S9 and S9 Plus. However, the S8 and S8 Plus are also still solid choices for those looking for a Samsung flagship in the $500 price range.

Also: Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus review (8.8/10) CNET

The Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus brought the first version of Samsung’s AMOLED Infinity Display that set the bar for displays in early 2017. The capable Qualcomm Snapdragon 825 powers the phone with 4GB of RAM, 64GB internal with microSD card, IP68 dust and water resistance, just about every sensor you could imagine, and a large 3,500mAh battery. The S8 and S8 Plus have 18.5:9 aspect ratio displays that give you a full screen experience with minimal bezels and a narrower phone than we see from Apple.

Samsung DeX is supported on the S8 and S8 Plus, while this phone was also the first to launch with a dedicated Bixby button on the left side. The oddly positioned fingerprint scanner, to the right of the camera, was another concern with this phone at launch.

You can still find the Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus on the Samsung site, but it is no longer available from US wireless carriers. Samsung direct pricing is $600 and $680 for the two models. Prices from online retailers range from $425 to $490 for the S8 and S8 Plus.


(Image: CNET)

Apple iPhone 8 and 8 Plus

Apple’s first iPhone had a center round button below the display, and over time, this button changed to a capacitive one, but still kept that traditional design look and feel for a decade. If you prefer the center home button, then the last phones with that feature are the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus, released in late 2017.

Also Apple iPhone 8 Plus review (8.8/10) CNET

The iPhone 8 and 8 Plus are still very capable devices, and unlike most of the older Android phones that no longer get updated, Apple continues to support the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus, so you can get the latest version of iOS.

Wireless charging was one new feature added to the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus. To implement this, Apple switched the metal design to one with a glass back. It’s a convenient method for charging and brought a feature to the iPhone that Android users have been experiencing for years.

You won’t find minimal bezels, a vibrant OLED display, dual cameras, notches, or other modern design features on the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus, but these two phones have classic looks and elements.

You can purchase the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus directly from Apple starting at $599 and $699, respectively. Since these are the last iPhone models with the familiar home button, you can also still find them at US wireless carrier stores for about the same price as Apple.


(Image: Google)

Google Pixel 2 and 2 XL

Similar to Apple iPhones, Google’s own phones are also updated on a regular basis. If you want to ensure your phone has the latest Android software and security patches, then an older Google Pixel is the way to go.

Also: Pixel 2 review (98.6/10) CNET

The Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL brought an amazing camera to Google’s own phone, raising the bar for smartphone cameras in 2017. These phones continue to get regular updates, including the addition of the Night Sight low-light camera software.

The Pixel 2 is made by HTC and the Pixel 2 XL by LG. Both have similar internal specifications, including a Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor, 4GB of RAM, 64/128 GB internal storage options, and more. There is no 3.5mm headphone jack and now wireless charging since most of the back is still constructed of metal.

The Pixel 2 is available from Google starting at $549 and the Pixel 2 XL starts at $599. The previous year’s Pixel is one of the best ways to purchase a Google-branded phone since the launch prices are a couple hundred dollars more for minor improvements.


(Image: ZDNet)

HTC U12 Plus

Unlike the other phones in this list, the HTC U12 Plus has not yet been replaced with a newer model. It was released in mid-2018 and clearly was an unfinished product at launch. A couple of months later, HTC released a firmware update that fixed the haptic button issue and made the phone one to consider.

Also: HTC U12 Plus review (7.8/10) CNET

HTC was a pioneer in mobile technology, and there are still a lot of HTC fans out there. For these folks, the HTC U12 Plus is the best current choice available. It is a very capable phone with a gorgeous fit and finish, high quality dual rear cameras, excellent audio performance, IP68 dust and water resistance, and Edge Sense 2.0.

The battery life isn’t terrific, the haptic side buttons are a bit strange, BlinkFeed is pretty useless, and software updates are few and far between. It has the potential to be so much better, but HTC seems to be a bit dead on the vine.

The HTC U12 Plus is still for sale from HTC at the original launch prices of $799 (64GB) and $849 (128GB), which is about $150 to $200 too high at this time. If you are an HTC fan and interested in this phone, I recommend looking to Swappa for deals in the $475 to $575 range.


(Image: ZDNet)

LG V30

LG’s V series of phones are designed for creators, with video capture functionality that remains the best in the business. Like Samsung’s Note line, the V series is the higher priced line of phones from LG when compared to the G series. If you want the ability to capture and edit videos on your phone, the LG V30 remains one of the best phones available.

Also: LG V30 review (8.6/10) CNET

The LG V30 brought excellent video recording, a stunning audio experience, long battery life, and a superb fit and finish to the V series. It has an IP68 rating with MIl-STD 810G drop certification, along with a 3.5mm headphone jack and microSD expansion card slot. Quick charging and wireless charging are also supported.

The LG V30 has been replaced by the LG V40 ThinQ and is not readily available from US carriers. Your best bet for this phone is to look to Swappa where prices range from $185 to $250 for phones in good condition.


(Image: LG)


LG’s phones are some of the most underrated in the smartphone world and the LG G6 is no exception to that. It was the first smartphone to launch in 2017 with minimal bezels and an 18:9 aspect ratio. Phones today have become quite large, which is one reason I prefer the iPhone X/XS, since that size and form factor is nearly perfect for me. The LG G6 has a similar look and feel to the iPhone X/XS and is one of the best phones I have held.

Also: LG G6 review (8.5/10) CNET

Flagship smartphones today all have some level of dust and water resistance, but they are also glass sandwiches so are prone to breakage when dropping. LG remains unique in its ability to secure MIL-STD 810G drop-test ratings for its V and G series of phones. Again, an underrated standard that could add serious value to the phone.

The LG G6 is powered by the older Snapdragon 821 processor with a 5.7 inch display, 4GB of RAM, 32GB internal storage with a microSD card, and 3,300mAh battery. It had dual rear cameras, one with a wide-angle lens. While it is one of the oldest phones on this list, the size and capability still make it worth considering.

You will not find the LG G6 on carrier shelves, so Swappa remains one of the best places to pick one up. Prices range from $100 to $160 with a new one available here and there for just over $200.

  • Check out our LG G6 review. (As you can see, I awarded it a 9.5/10 rating in March 2017, which is one of my highest ratings ever for a smartphone.)

(Image: ZDNet)

OnePlus 6

OnePlus has a history of releasing phones about every six months with a standard release in the spring, followed by a T series release in the fall. The older generation disappears from the OnePlus website when the new models are released as older stock is not kept around for long. Thus, you can no longer find the OnePlus 6 directly from OnePlus, but there are plenty of units available in mint condition on Swappa. Prices range from $400 to $500.

Also: OnePlus 6 review (8.5/10) CNET

The Silk White OnePlus 6 remains one of my favorite phones ever in terms of color and texture. The matte finish white with rose gold highlights looks fantastic and the glass felt like ceramic. So many phones today have glossy glass finishes that serve as major fingerprint magnets, so it was great to use the OnePlus 6 where no fingerprints or smudges ever appeared on the surface.

I’m a fan of the ringer switch on the iPhone and am very pleased with the three-way switch OnePlus has on its devices. OnePlus does a great job of updating its latest phones and the OnePlus 6 has the latest software, with Oxygen OS providing some advanced functionality with a nearly stock Android experience.

The OnePlus 6 also supports T-Mobile’s 600MHz spectrum with Band 71 integration. It has minimal bezels and a small notch with solid battery life. You can get the OnePlus 6T directly from T-Mobile, but the OnePlus 6 isn’t a bad option either.


(Image: Huawei)

Huawei Mate 10 Pro

At CES 2018, we expected to see Huawei launch the Mate 10 Pro from AT&T, but politics came to play at the last minute and the launch was canceled. The phone still ended up being sold in the US through online retailers and Best Buy as an unlocked device, but it’s tough to compete in the US without a carrier partner.

Also: Mate 10 Pro review (98.4/10) CNET

You can still find the Mate 10 Pro at Amazon in the $500 price range and Huawei just recently started rolling out Android 9 Pie updates for the phone.

The Mate 10 Pro is powered by the Kirin 970 processor with 6GB of RAM and 128GB of internal storage. It has an IP67 dust/water resistant rating and a large 4,000mAh battery that will easily get you through a day. The dual rear cameras help you capture great shots with the monochrome lens offering some unique results.


(Image: Honor)

Honor View 10

The Honor View 20 was just announced for a global release in Paris a few weeks ago. Last year’s Honor View 10 was also released in the US through online retailers at a very competitive $499 price. You can find it now in the $375 price range.

Also: Honor View 10 review (7.8/10) CNET

Many of the specifications of the Honor View 10 are shared by the more expensive Mate 10 Pro so you are getting an extremely powerful device at a lower price. The Honor View 10 has the Kirin 970 processor, 6GB of RAM, 128GB of internal storage, dual rear cameras, large 5.99 inch 18:9 display, large 3,750mAh battery, and more.

Don’t feel pressured to spend

Since I write about smartphones here on ZDNet, I tend to purchase and use the latest and greatest. However, nearly all of my family, friends, and coworkers use phones that are one to three years old. 

Don’t feel pressured to spend $1,000 or more on the latest flagship when your current phone can continue to meet your needs. If you want a new phone and want to save some money, then maybe consider one of these older flagships that are more affordable a year or two after their initial release.

Disclosure: ZDNet earns commissions from some of the products featured on this page.

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Cymulate snaps up $70M to help cybersecurity teams stress test their networks with attack simulations – TechCrunch



The cost of cybercrime has been growing at an alarming rate of 15% per year, projected to reach $10.5 trillion by 2025. To cope with the challenges that this poses, organizations are turning to a growing range of AI-powered tools to supplement their existing security software and the work of their security teams. Today, a startup called Cymulate — which has built a platform to help those teams automatically and continuously stress test their networks against potential attacks with simulations, and provide guidance on how to improve their systems to ward off real attacks — is announcing a significant round of growth funding after seeing strong demand for its tools.

The startup — founded in Tel Aviv, with a second base in New York — has raised $70 million, a Series D that it will be using to continue expanding globally and investing in expanding its technology (both organically and potentially through acquisitions).

Today, Cymulate’s platform covers both on-premise and cloud networks, providing breach and attack simulations for endpoints, email and web gateways and more; automated “red teaming”; and a “purple teaming” facility to create and launch different security breach scenarios for organizations that lack the resources to dedicate people to a live red team — in all, a “holistic” solution for companies looking to make sure they are getting the most out of the network security architecture that they already have in place, in the worlds of Eyal Wachsman, Cymulate’s CEO.

“We are providing our customers with a different approach for how to do cybersecurity and get insights [on]  all the products already implemented in a network,” he said in an interview. The resulting platform has found particular traction in the current market climate. Although companies continue to invest in their security architecture, security teams are also feeling the market squeeze, which is impacting IT budgets, and sometimes headcount in an industry that was already facing a shortage of expertise. (Cymulate cites figures from the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology that estimate a shortfall of 2.72 million security professionals in the workforce globally.)

The idea with Cymulate is that it’s built something that helps organizations get the most out of what they already have. “And at the end, we provide our customers the ability to prioritize where they need to invest, in terms of closing gaps in their environment,” Wachsman said.

The round is being led by One Peak, with Susquehanna Growth Equity (SGE), Vertex Ventures Israel, Vertex Growth and strategic backer Dell Technologies Capital also participating. (All five also backed Cymulate in its $45 million Series C last year.) Relatively speaking, this is a big round for Cymulate, doubling its total raised to $141 million, and while the startup is not disclosing its valuation, I understand from sources that it is around the $500 million mark.

Wachsman noted that the funding is coming on the heels of a big year for the startup (the irony being that the constantly escalating issue of cybersecurity and growing threat landscape spells good news for companies built to combat that). Revenues have doubled, although it’s not disclosing any numbers today, and the company is now at over 200 employees and works with some 500 paying customers across the enterprise and mid-market, including NTT, Telit, and Euronext, up from 300 customers a year ago.

Wachsman, who co-founded the company with Avihai Ben-Yossef and Eyal Gruner, said he first thought of the idea of building a platform to continuously test an organization’s threat posture in 2016, after years of working in cybersecurity consulting for other companies. He found that no matter how much effort his customers and outside consultants put into architecting security solutions annually or semi-annually, those gains were potentially lost each time a malicious hacker made an unexpected move.

“If the bad guys decided to penetrate the organization, they could, so we needed to find a different approach,” he said. He looked to AI and machine learning for the solution, a complement to everything already in the organization, to build “a machine that allows you to test your security controls and security posture, continuously and on demand, and to get the results immediately… one step before the hackers.”

Last year, Wachsman described Cymulate’s approach to me as “the largest cybersecurity consulting firm without consultants,” but in reality the company does have its own large in-house team of cybersecurity researchers, white-hat hackers who are trying to find new holes — new bugs, zero days and other vulnerabilities — to develop the intelligence that powers Cymulate’s platform.

These insights are then combined with other assets, for example the MITRE ATT&CK framework, a knowledge base of threats, tactics and techniques used by a number of other cybersecurity services, including others building continuous validation services that compete with Cymulate. (Competitors include the likes of FireEye, Palo Alto Networks, Randori, AttackIQ and many more.)

Cymulate’s work comes in the form of network maps that detail a company’s threat profile, with technical recommendations for remediation and mitigations, as well as an executive summary that can be presented to financial teams and management who might be auditing security spend. It also has built tools for running security checks when integrating any services or IT with third parties, for instance in the event of an M&A process or when working in a supply chain.

Today the company focuses on network security, which is big enough in itself but also leaves the door open for Cymulate to acquire companies in other areas like application security — or to build that for itself. “This is something on our roadmap,” said Wachsman.

If potential M&A leads to more fundraising for Cymulate, it helps that the startup is in one of the handful of categories that are going to continue to see a lot of attention from investors.

“Cybersecurity is clearly an area that we think will benefit from the current macroeconomic environment, versus maybe some of the more capital-intensive businesses like consumer internet or food delivery,” said David Klein, a managing partner at One Peak. Within that, he added, “The best companies [are those] that are mission critical for their customers… Those will continue to attract very good multiples.”

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Open-source password manager Bitwarden raises $100M – TechCrunch



Bitwarden, an open-source password manager for enterprises and consumers, has raised $100 million in a round of funding led by PSG, with participation form Battery Ventures.

Founded initially back in 2015, Santa Barbara, California-based Bitwarden operates in a space that includes well-known incumbents including 1Password, which recently hit a $6.8 billion valuation off the back of a $620 million fundraise, and Lastpass, which was recently spun out as an independent company again two years after landing in the hands of private equity firms.

In a nutshell, Bitwarden and its ilk make it easier for people to generate secure passwords automatically, and store all their unique passwords and sensitive information such as credit card data in a secure digital vault, saving them from reusing the same insecure password across all their online accounts.

Bitwarden’s big differentiator, of course, lies in the fact that it’s built atop an open-source codebase, which for super security-conscious individuals and businesses is a good thing — they can fully inspect the inner-workings of the platform. Moreover, people can contribute back to the codebase and expedite development of new features.

On top of a basic free service, Bitwarden ships a bunch of paid-for premium features and services, including advanced enterprise features like single sign-on (SSO) integrations and identity management.


It’s worth noting that today’s “minority growth investment” represents Bitwarden’s first substantial external funding in its seven year history, though we’re told that it did raise a small undisclosed series A round back in 2019. Its latest cash injection is indicative of how the world has changed in the intervening years. The rise of remote work, with people increasingly meshing personal and work accounts on the same devices, means the same password is used across different services. And such poor password and credential hygiene puts businesses at great risk.

Additionally, growing competition and investments in the management space means that Bitwarden can’t rest on its laurels — it needs to expand, and that is what its funds will be used for. Indeed, Bitwarden has confirmed plans to extend its offering into several aligned security and privacy verticals, including secrets management — something that 1Password expanded into last year via its SecretHub acquisition.

“The timing of the investment is ideal, as we expand into opportunities in developer secrets, passwordless technologies, and authentication,” Bitwarden CEO Michael Crandell noted in a press release. “Most importantly, we aim to continue to serve all Bitwarden users for the long haul.”

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downgrade the ‘middle-men’ resellers – TechCrunch



As well as the traditional carbon offset resellers and exchanges such as Climate Partner or Climate Impact X the tech space has also produced a few, including Patch (US-based, raised $26.5M) and Lune (UK-based, raised $4M).

Now, Ceezer, a B2B marketplace for carbon credits, has closed a €4.2M round, led by Carbon Removal Partners with participation of impact-VC Norrsken VC and with existing investor Picus Capital. 

Ceezer ’s pitch is that companies have to deal with a lot of complexity when considering how they address carbon removal and reduction associated with their businesses. Whie they can buy offsetting credits, the market remains pretty ‘wild-west’, and has multiple competing standards running in parallel. For instance, the price range of $5 to $500 per ton is clearly all over the place, and sometimes carbon offset resellers make buyers pay high prices for low-quality carbon credits, pulling in extra revenues from a very opaque market.

The startup’s offering is for corporates to integrate both carbon removal and avoidance credits in one package. It does this by mining the offsetting market for lots of data points, enabling carbon offset sellers to reach buyers without having to use these middle-men resellers.

The startup claims that sellers no longer waste time and money on bespoke contracts with corporates but instead use Ceezer’s legal framework for all transactions. Simultaneously, buyers can access credits at a primary market level, maximizing the effect of the dollars they spend on carbon offsets.

Ceezer says it now has over 50 corporate customers and has 200,000 tons of carbon credits to sell across a variety of categories.
 and will use the funds to expand its impact and sourcing team, the idea being to make carbon removal technologies more accessible to corporate buyers, plus widen the product offering for credit sellers and buyers.

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