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11 hours ago

Head to head: The Alcatel Idol 3 and the Moto G 2015

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It's time to pit two smartphones we love against each other. We've picked out four categories — things we think every phone (Android or otherwise) needs to get right before we can recommend them — and squared off the Alcatel Idol 3 against the Moto G 2015.

This is a tough one. Both are great phones, and neither one is the wrong choice. But it's human nature to find the "best" and we're going to dive in and make that hard decision.

Buckle up.

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14 hours ago

Android Central 251: Death by Stylus

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Audio-only stream below

Is it really possible to fend of a rampaging horde of smartphone nerds with a simple stylus? Is Samsung's latest next big thing doomed because of the missteps of absent-minded users? And what is a Wileyfox, anyway? Answers to these burning questions — and a whole lot more — on this week's Android Central Podcast!

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16 hours ago

Amazon Echo can now play music and audiobooks from multiple Amazon accounts

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The Amazon Echo can now play both audiobooks and music from multiple Amazon accounts, and switching between them is as easy as a voice command. Getting set up for the new functionality is simple as well, just head to the Settings in the Alexa app and add another Amazon user to the household. Switching between the two profiles is as simple as saying "Alexa, switch accounts."

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18 hours ago

Living with USB-C

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USB-C has started its slow march to dominance, and I'm finally ok with that.

I was working in a mobile tech store when microUSB began its slow dominance of the mobile ecosystem. Everyone I worked with at the time glared at the massive wall of barrel connectors, weird plastic plugs with copper bits on the sides, and those huge 20-pin plugs with equal degrees of hatred. MicroUSB changed all of that, and eventually made it possible for almost every phone and tablet to use the same connector over the last couple of years.

It's been a good run, but after using what comes after microUSB for the last few weeks I am finally ready to say goodbye to this industry-changing port and welcome USB-C as the way of the future.

It wasn't all that long ago I was fairly unimpressed with this new USB connector. The port is physically larger than microUSB, the central connector stem inside the female end of the port looked fragile, and I've never been a part of the group that finds plugging in a microUSB cable frustrating. While the USB-C spec includes some exciting things for data transfer and charging, neither of those things affected me personally. I'm already using and loving Quick Charge 2.0, and because I live in a place where 802.11ac Wifi exists and high speed LTE flows freely, I rarely care about the transfer speed of my USB connection.

The experience was neither revolutionary nor earth shattering. Just a cable and a port, like the thousands I had used before it.

I'm also not a huge fan of the cable most frequently compared to USB-C. I own more than my fair share of Apple hardware, and personally I can't stand Lightning cables. The cables Apple includes with their hardware are often cheap and poorly made, and even the nice Lightning cables have dangerously fragile connectors. I've broken more Lightning connectors than I care to admit, either through accident and clumsiness or poor construction. By comparison, I've broken far fewer microUSB cables and use those cables significantly more frequently than I do Lightning.

Fortunately, I now know the truth about USB-C. Over the past couple of weeks I've used the OnePlus 2 and Asus ZenPad S 8.0 almost exclusively. This USB-C combination required me to replace the cables I use around the house and when I travel with the proper gear, which I did immediately. I didn't really notice any difference in my usage at first. Plug the cable in when I needed it, unplug it when I was done. The experience was neither revolutionary nor earth shattering. Just a cable and a port, like the thousands I had used before it. Also, neither of the devices I'm currently using have any of the extra magic that will make USB-C special in the future. These are essentially USB 2 ports in hardware with no Quick Charge capabilities or faster transfer speeds, so it really didn't seem like a big deal to me.

Halfway through the second week I needed to get something off of my Samsung Galaxy S6 edge, and it was in this interaction that I realized how different things were. It took me two tries to get the microUSB cable into the port, after which I immediately removed the cable to check the port because it didn't feel like the cable had seated correctly. When I re-connected the cable everything was fine, but the connection still felt loose and flimsy to me. I had already become a convert to USB-C.

A big part of what makes this connector special is its internal design. The oval connector is not only slightly wider and taller than microUSB, but longer as well. Inserting this port into a phone or tablet is met with a physical click every time, and the seated position means very little wiggling around. You wont, for example, be able to lean the connector up or down and watch as your hardware stops registering a connection. The connector pins are on both sides of the central stalk in the female part of the port, so as soon as it is connected it stays that way.

Fragility is not nearly as big a concern for me after using these connectors for the last few weeks, but it's still something I'm wary of. The USB-C connection in the OnePlus 2 is solid. Very little wiggle and in many ways more solid than most microUSB connections out there. A lot of that has to do with the metal frame and the position of the port. The ZenPad S 8.0, on the other hand, has a rounded plastic frame and the port is off to the right. This version of the port has a lot more wiggle to it, and feels as though a good drop on the cable would yield the same kind of breakage as microUSB. Since there's going to be a ton of hardware with this port in the not-so-distant future, it's clear overall quality will vary for some.

The bottom line is this — I'm a whole lot more interested in USB-C taking over the world nowadays. I like the way the cable feels when seated in the port, and when we start to see USB-C ports on phones with the USB 3.1 spec behind it, the doors will open for some interesting new features. We'll probably also start seeing more in the way of standardized USB accessories, but that's another matter for another day.

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19 hours ago

Motorola pushes updates for its Camera and Gallery apps with new features in tow

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Motorola has pushed updates for both its Camera and Gallery apps, bringing some new features and functionality to both. For Gallery, Motorola has added the ability to better organize your photos and videos into albums. Additionally, you can now move the albums to an SD card.

As for the Camera app, Motorola has added QR and barcode active viewfinder capability to older phones. This will allow you to both recognize and act on barcodes and QR codes, without needing another app.

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19 hours ago

Chrome to begin pausing Flash ads by default on September 1

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It was previously announced that Chrome would begin pausing Flash ads by default in an effort to improve overall performance for users, and that change is about to begin. These changes will begin to roll out starting September 1, meaning that the ads will no longer auto-play on pages.

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19 hours ago

Top 5 heavy duty cases for Samsung Galaxy Note 5

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Putting your size concerns aside, a rugged case for your Galaxy Note 5 can extend the lifespan of your device quite a bit. Extra layers, built-in screen protectors and textured grip all play a role in keeping your Note 5 in your hand and off the concrete. Big names like OtterBox, Trident, and Urban Armor Gear are all making their return with the newly announced Galaxy Note 5 — and we're highlighting our top 5 that are up for grabs right now.

Read now: Top 5 heavy duty cases for Samsung Galaxy Note 5

OtterBox Defender Series Case

The OtterBox Defender Case for Galaxy Note 5 doesn't skimp on its multi-layer design, providing maximum protection against both scratches and impacts from front to back. This hybrid cover features a durable polycarbonate inner shell with foam padding, finished with a synthetic rubber slipcover. The built-in screen protector helps to keep the display clean, and the Defender's port plugs block liquids, dirt, and other debris from getting into the Note 5's openings. The OtterBox Defender Case is $69.90, but if you want the classic holster to match it, it's an extra $14.95.

Buy from OtterBox

Urban Armor Gear Case

Sporting a rugged design that's excellent for enhancing grip, the Urban Armor Gear Case for Galaxy Note 5 is actually quite slim for the level of protection it provides. All four corners feature an extra thick TPU for handling impacts, with easy-grip edges that feel great in your hand. Since both its armored shell and TPU core have been fused together, installation is quick and simple, keeping things exceptionally lightweight. This case comes in solid colors including black, white, and orange. For a transparent look, take your pick from clear, gray, or red for $39.95.

Buy from Amazon

i-Blason Prime Dual Layer Case & Holster

For superior protection without with ridiculous price tag, the i-Blason Prime Dual Layer Case and Holster for Galaxy Note 5 is an option that looks as tough as it protects. This hybrid cover rocks a dual-layer design that packs a fold-out kickstand on its textured polycarbonate shell — great for convenient viewing on the go. Bundled with the rugged case is a matching swivel clip holster that works great on most belts or even your pocket. Snag this heavy duty combo in black, blue, or red for only $11.95.

Buy from Amazon

Trident Aegis Pro Case

Built for the rugged user in mind, the Trident Aegis Pro Case for Galaxy Note 5 features a hardened, bio-enhanced polycarbonate shell and shock absorbing TPE interior. Meeting military standards, this durable case has been drop tested 26 times at 4ft. There are port plugs to keep out dirt and debris, as well as a built-in screen protector to shield your Note 5's display from scuffs and scratches. Trident also uses degradable, compostable, and recyclable materials for this cover — making it an eco-friendly solution to protecting your Galaxy Note 5. The Aegis Pro Case is available in black, blue, or pink for $34.99.

Buy from Trident

Supcase Unicorn Beetle PRO Series

Last up is Supcase's Unicorn Beetle PRO Series Combo for Galaxy Note 5, providing a more subtle rugged appearance that leaves easy access to ports, buttons, and the S-Pen. Next to its flexible TPU core and polycarbonate exterior is a built-in screen protector to keep scratches at bay without compromising touchscreen sensitivity. A strong, swivel clip holster is bundled with the cover for good measure, too. The Supcase Combo starts at $15.99 and is available in black, blue, green, pink, and white.

Buy from Amazon

What's your favorite Galaxy Note 5 rugged case?

That's our top 5 heavy duty cases for the Galaxy Note 5 available right now. In the coming weeks we're keeping our eyes open for other popular brands like LifeProof and Pelican — both great manufacturers for rugged covers. Have a different case in mind you plan on picking up for your new Note? We'd love to hear about it in the comments!

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20 hours ago

Mobile Nations Community Update, August 2015

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Mobile Nations Community Update

Greetings all! Time for the Mobile Nations Community Update, your monthly look at the best contests, recent happenings, hottest forum threads, and more from Android Central, Connectedly, CrackBerry, iMore, and Windows Central.

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21 hours ago

Huawei Watch pre-order goes live on Amazon [Update: it's been pulled]

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Update: It appears as though someone made a mistake, and the listing was not meant to go live just yet. The Amazon link is now dead. We are not sure what will happen to those who managed to pre-order, so be sure to let us know if you get any updates.

A listing for the Huawei Watch has made its way to Amazon, allowing customers to begin to pre-order the watch now. There are a few colors and styles available, ranging in price from $349 to $799, and the listing currently shows that the item is set to be released on September 2. There are four models being shown off, which are:

  • Stainless Steel with Black Suture Leather Strap for $349
  • Black Stainless Steel with Black Stainless Steel Link Band for $449
  • Gold Plated Stainless Steel with Brown Suture Leather Strap for $699
  • Gold Plated Stainless Steel with Gold Plated Stainless Steel for $799

If you have been waiting to be able to place your order for the Huawei Watch since its original announcement, your time has finally come. Hit the link below to place your order now.

Pre-order the Huawei Watch from Amazon

Via: Tim Moore (Twitter)

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22 hours ago

Should I upgrade from the Galaxy Note 4 to the Note 5?

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Galaxy Note 5 and Note 4

If you can take two notable losses in stride, you'll be happy with this switch.

The time comes each year when the phone you have is thoroughly supplanted by a newer version. In the case of the Note 4, just shy of a year on we have ourselves a new Note 5 to look at — and of course the next step is questioning whether you should upgrade or not. The Note 5 isn't all that exciting to anyone who has a Galaxy S6 right now, but if you're sitting with a last-generation Note 4 you're likely looking to see if the grass is greener.

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1 day ago

LG G4 with brushed metal finish now available in India

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Two new variants of the LG G4 have launched in India, sporting back covers with a brushed metal finish. Dubbed Titanium Black and Gold, the phones feature a similar back pattern as that of the ceramic models, and are also made out of plastic.

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1 day ago

Xperia Z5 promo images surface ahead of launch, 23MP camera rumored

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Sony has teased a smartphone with "greater focus" earlier this week, and it looks like the handset may turn out to be the Xperia Z5. A series of promotional photos of the phone were inadvertently published on Sony's social media channels, with the folks at Xperia Blog managing to get a hold of them before they were taken down.

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1 day ago

Vine now supplies you with beats for your looping videos

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Vine is allowing its user base to add music to their loops. Featured artists will supply the beats to add a new dimension to your submitted content. Once you've finished capturing a new video on your smartphone, which in itself is now easier with the new Snap to Beat feature, the network will provide a selection of songs that can be added to the looping video.

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1 day ago

App suggestions in Google's mobile search results get a makeover

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It looks like Google has debuted a new look for app suggestions in Google search results on mobile. Now, when searching for a specific category of app, you'll be presented with a colorful list of popular suggestions from Google Play at the top of your results.

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1 day ago

Staggered launch will see most HTC Vives shipping in Q1 2016

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If you were hoping to get your hands on HTC's Vive virtual reality headset before 2015 is out, it looks like your chances may be a bit slimmer than anticipated. According to a new press release, it sounds like HTC and Valve are gearing up for a somewhat staggered release for the consumer launch, pointing to the first quarter of 2016 for mass availability.

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