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1 week ago

Oppo R9s review: An important step forward

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Oppo makes some small but important steps forward with its latest handset bound for Asia.

Without making much of a splash in the west, Oppo has found itself towards the top of the list of smartphone manufacturers. While the top two, Samsung and Apple, are still a ways out, Oppo is now a constant presence around the number four spot, and that's no small achievement.

Like many other phone makers from China, we've seen significant improvements from Oppo in several key areas with recent devices. The latest, the Oppo R9s, is now launching outside China for the first time and represents another step forward, albeit a subtle one.

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1 week ago

Check to see if you're covered by Google's Project Fi network

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Networks, when you think about it, come down to one thing: coverage.

If you're not covered where you live, work and travel ... well, nothing else matters. But in partnering with three U.S. carriers — Sprint, T-Mobile and U.S. Cellular — Google's Project Fi definitely has an interesting advantage. (And remember you also have calling available over Wi-Fi when you need it.)

But the question stands: will you have Project Fi coverage where you live, work and travel? And, of course, there's a handy map for that.

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1 week ago

PinOut is the perfect mix of old and new

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A fantastic game and an amazing value.

I'm addicted, and my drug of choice is PinOut, the latest game by Mediocre, the small Swedish game development team that has put out quality game after quality game, if not hit after hit.

The company's latest game, PinOut, builds off the well-worn basis for its 2014 classic, Smash Hit, an endless runner of sorts that drew catharsis from satisfyingly slinging virtual balls into breakable surfaces of many forms. PinOut combines that endless runner approach and adds another satisfying element: pinball.

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1 week ago

Xiaomi focusing on 'recurring revenue streams,' isn't worried about shrinking phone sales

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Xiaomi is looking to the smart home segment for profits.

Xiaomi isn't worried about shrinking sales in China affecting the company's long-term profit growth. That's according to global VP Hugo Barra, who revealed in an interview with Reuters that the focus is instead on creating "recurring revenue streams:"

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2 weeks ago

VR porn: The Ultimate Guide [NSFW]

VR porn isn't a thing of the future. It's here now, and easier to find and access then you may have thought.

When it comes to watching videos on VR, one of the first questions many people asked was whether or not you'd be able to watch porn or other adult content. From apps that let you speak with camgirls, to full blown 360 degree adult videos, porn in VR is here and it's making it's mark. Whether you've got a Gear VR, Oculus Rift, or even Playstation VR, there is plenty of adult content just waiting for you out there.

Read more at VR Heads!

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2 weeks ago

Best Tech Gifts for Kids 2016

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Buying for kids isn't easy, but this is a good place to start!

No two kids are alike, but chances are if they know you there's a tech streak in there somewhere that will let you appreciate gadgets together. Sometimes that means playing a game together on your favorite console, and sometimes that means running around outside while a 360-degree camera grabs your failed cartwheel at just the right angle. Yeah, that one's going on YouTube.

What about gear that's just for the kids, though? Stuff that will not only be fun for them to use, but in some small way actually be good for them? That's where this gift guide can lend a helping hand. You'll find everything you could possibly want to gift that will make kids smile and think at the same time. Enjoy!

Anki Cozmo

Everyone has had a toy that felt like your best friend, but Cozmo is the closest thing to a toy that actually tries to fit that description. It's a small robot with an adaptive AI baked in that learns from playing games with you. Those learning sessions causes it to slowly build a personality based on your interactions with it, eventually creating a personalized Cozmo that both tries to outsmart you in a match four game and come to your side when you need a friend.

The only downside to Cozmo is that it requires a smartphone with the app in order to do all of the thinking and learning, so if your kid doesn't have one of those you'll need to be nearby during Cozmo playtime.

See on Amazon

Maybe a Smartphone?

Deciding to equip a kid with a smartphone is no small thing, and that decision has requirements that vary wildly from parent to parent. It doesn't matter if your kid comes home and says they're the only one in the class who doesn't have a phone or that they're the first, the choice is yours and there are some great options for younger users. We've assembled the perfect list of the best smartphones for kids, so you can make the most informed decision possible!

The Best Android phone for kids

littleBits: Rule Your Room Kit

Every parent wants to see their kid be a creator, and there's never been more tech options available to help make that possible. Free programming apps are all over the place, digital drawing has never been more accessible, and then there's littleBits. These are kits for the little engineer in your life, giving them the tools to build everything from simple alarm clocks to a pressure sensitive switch for whatever they can think of.

The Rule Your Room Kit comes with step-by-step instructions and all of the materials for eight different inventions, as well as access to a community of builders that have used this same kit to build a lot more.

See at Amazon

The Starter Smartwatch

Kids tend to emulate the adults in their lives, and if you're walking around all day with a computer on your wrist there's a good chance your kid wants one to be just like you. That's not always a good idea, especially if your watch is one of the pricier Android Wear offerings, but that doesn't mean there aren't options out there built for kids to fill the need. Whether your kid has a smartphone already or just wants something colorful to be like you, there are some great smartwatches out there for kids. Here's our take on the best available today!

The Best smartwatch for kids

Code-A-Pillar

There's no such thing as being too young to enjoy a good gadget, and there's no such thing as being too young to learn how you think about programming. The Fisher-Price Code-A-Pillar is proof of both of these statements, and it's pretty great. The little wiggle worm "learns" the pattern you put in its back, and travels based on those instructions. This teaches kids how to think about step-by-step instruction assembly, which can be very helpful later on in life.

The standard Code-A-Pillar can be upgraded with expansion modules that add new instructions, so even if your kid quickly masters this critter there are ways to keep things fun and continue the education!

See on Amazon

View-Master Deluxe VR Viewer

Generally speaking, kids under 13 should be careful to not spend more than an hour in VR at any given time. That being said, there are some incredible VR experiences that you can manage by making them only available when you put your phone inside of their special headset. Mattel's futuristic View-Master Deluxe is where you start, and everyone who uses it is going to fall in love.

This VR viewer comes with a couple of special educational discs for View-Master field trips to different locations all over the world, but it's also a Google Cardboard viewer. That means you can watch 360-degree videos on YouTube, play VR games from the Google Play Store, and in this improved model connect whatever headphones you want for a more complete experience.

See at Amazon

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2 weeks ago

Everything you need to know about Freedom Mobile

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What's the big deal with Freedom Mobile?

Earlier this week, Canada's Wind Mobile announced that it was changing its name to Freedom Mobile, and under new owner Shaw was launching an LTE network on November 27. That was met with a healthy dose of excitement and trepidation from current Wind Mobile users and potential switchers alike, but there were many remaining questions. Let's try to break some of them down right now.

What is Freedom Mobile?

Freedom Mobile is the new Wind Mobile, a brand change that, according to CEO Alek Krstajic, was necessary to offload some of the baggage of the existing brand, and find a new space within the Canadian mobile industry under new owner, Shaw Communications.

For all intents and purposes, Freedom Mobile is the same company as Wind Mobile — even the orange and blue color scheme is nearly identical — but with LTE connectivity.

OK, so what's the big deal about LTE connectivity?

Wind Mobile, around since 2009, has been behind the incumbents like Rogers, Bell, and Telus when it comes to technology. While the so-called Big Three set up and expanded their LTE networks to include high-speed tech like LTE-Advanced, carrier aggregation and VoLTE, Wind Mobile was stuck with limited spectrum, older equipment, and 3G speeds. Even in the big cities in which they were supposedly competitive, like Toronto, Vancouver and Calgary, download speeds were limited to under 5Mbps.

More: Is Wind Mobile worth it?

In late 2015, Wind Mobile began replacing all of its old network equipment with newer Nokia equipment, beginning with Vancouver and working east towards Ottawa. While those changes have been for the better, they are still limited to 3G speeds.

LTE is a big deal, then, because it finally allows now-Freedom Mobile to compete on the same level as the Big Three carriers — at least in the markets the company operates. And because Freedom is owned by Shaw, it has the capital to continue investing in networking equipment — and spectrum, when it becomes available — where it doesn't currently operate.

Tell me about the LTE service

Starting November 27, Freedom Mobile will operate an LTE network in the cores of Toronto and Vancouver, expanding to the outlying regions of each city by the spring of 2017.

By summer of 2017, Calgary, Edmonton and Ottawa will be LTE-enabled, and Freedom hopes to have negotiated LTE roaming deals with its domestic roaming partners (namely, Bell and Rogers) for when customers are not connected to its Home network.

Finally, by the fall of 2017, all of Southwestern and Southeastern Ontario — where there are towers — will be LTE-enabled.

How fast will it be?

Freedom Mobile's LTE connectivity is not slated to be the fastest in the business, but with a theoretical maximum speed of 180Mbps, it will certainly be competitive with the incumbents' existing networks, at least in areas with good coverage.

The main issue will be that because LTE service will be so limited, many customers will often fall back to Freedom's 3G service, which is considerably slower than LTE, and slower too than the incumbents' 3G networks.

How do I get on the LTE service?

This is where things get a bit tricky. Freedom Mobile's LTE network operates on a brand new channel called Band 66 — that's why the company calls it a "traffic-free" LTE network — which means there are only a handful of phones that support the new standard. Eventually, most new phones will support Band 66, which operates on AWS-3 spectrum, but as of this writing it is limited to the expensive LG V20 and the yet-unreleased ZTE Grand X 4, a mid-range device.

Eventually, you'll be able to bring your existing phone to Freedom Mobile to connect to its LTE network, but right now the most popular devices, from the Galaxy S7 to Google Pixel to iPhone 7, are not going to work on Freedom's LTE network.

There is one exception, though: in Eastern Ontario — Ottawa, and the surrounding region — LTE is piggybacking off Freedom's existing AWS-1 spectrum because the company wasn't able to buy any AWS-3 spectrum in that area during the 2015 auction. That means the network will be slightly slower in that region — using 10Mhz as opposed to 30Mhz — but it will also work with hundreds of existing phones, unlike in other parts of Canada.

What are the plans available right now?

Freedom Mobile is taking an early adopter strategy for its LTE network, likely because it knows how limited it is at first. Not only is there only one plan available right now, but it's different, and slightly more expensive (naturally) than the rest of the company's plans.

The LTE plan is regularly $45 and includes 3GB of data, unlimited Canadian calling and global texting, but for a limited time the price drops to $40 and the data allotment is doubled to 6GB, which is pretty good.

What about switching over? Can I use LTE on my current plan?

No, if you're an existing Wind Mobile customer transitioning to Freedom Mobile, you won't be able to use your existing plan to access LTE. And if you're using an older SIM card, you may actually need to buy a new one to get access to the LTE network.

What if I want to trade in my newly-purchased Wind phone for an LTE-compatible one?

Freedom is doing people a solid by extending the return window on phones purchased less than 30 days ago. For those purchased between August 1 and November 21, there's a special trade-in program that charges a small restocking fee should you decide to buy the LG V20.

So, is it worth switching over?

That depends. We have yet to use Freedom Mobile's LTE network, at the very least it should be five to ten times faster than its 3G network.

There are a few things to consider. Even though Freedom Mobile has 30Mhz of AWS-3 spectrum in most of its regions (except for Eastern Ontario), AWS spectrum still doesn't travel well through walls, so those in basements or buildings with thick cement exteriors may experience the same connectivity issues on LTE as on 3G. LTE is inherently more efficient, but radio waves are not magic: you won't get service where the signal can't reach.

Right now, if you're currently a Wind Mobile customer, I'd wait to see whether the network is as robust in the Toronto and Vancouver core as the company claims, and I'd investigate other devices before settling on the LG V20, especially if you're looking for a smaller phone — that thing is massive.

We'll have much more Freedom Mobile coverage in the next few weeks, so stay tuned! Got questions? Leave them in the comments below and we'll try to answer them!

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2 weeks ago

Don't miss out on these sweet deals on cases

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Save on cases for the latest Samsung phones, as well as some options for the Nexus 6.

It's the biggest day of deals of the year, and you're probably overwhelmed as it is. But we'd be remiss if we didn't pass along these coupon codes for deep discounts on a variety of cases.

Today's offers include cases for the Galaxy S7, S7 edge, S6, S6 edge, S6 edge+ and Note 5, as well as a couple cases for the Nexus 6 thrown in for good measure. To use these cases, you'll need to select the option to fulfill the order from the manufacturer, then simply add the coupon code during checkout to save up to $11. Supplies are limited, so act now!

Galaxy S7

 Galaxy S7 edge

Galaxy S6

Galaxy S6 edge

Galaxy Note 5

Galaxy S6 edge+

Nexus 6

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2 weeks ago

Cases and battery mods work great with Daydream View

Will I have to take my case off to use Daydream?

If you've used a Samsung Gear VR or Google Cardboard headset before, you're familiar with needing to remove your phone from its case in order to get the best VR experience. Seeing how much more compact Daydream View is when compared to a Gear VR, you probably guessed that you'll need to take your case off to use this VR headset as well. It turns out that's not true, though. In fact, you can use just about any case you want and Daydream View will be more than a little accommodating.

Read more at VR Heads!

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2 weeks ago

Black Friday 2016 Deals

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Are you ready to save big? Good! It's time for the best Black Friday tech deals, and you'll find them all right here!

2 weeks ago

International data: How AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint, Verizon and Project Fi compare

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 How AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint, Verizon and Project Fi compare

Oh, you'll have to pay extra for roaming data outside the U.S — the question is how much.​

The editors here at Android Central tend to travel a lot for this job, and that isn't limited to staying in our home country. And when we travel, we need to have our phones with us and connected to data — that's kind of what we do. We're no strangers to dealing with roaming internationally, and thankfully for us the U.S. carriers are getting on board with everyone's tendency to get out of the country and see the world with their phones and tablets at their side.

Gone are the days of astronomical pay-per-megabyte rates, limited roaming carrier agreements and poor options from some of the carriers. Two of the big four carriers are now offering some sort of free international roaming, with the other two coming around to friendlier pricing structures and fewer restrictions on how we use our data we bought. Even prepaid carriers are getting in on the action with some international calling plans.

Even with all of these changes, international data still isn't cheap. Your best bet is to find a local prepaid SIM card when you travel and pop it in your unlocked phone. But that's not always easy — and there's really something luxurious about stepping off a plane, firing up your phone ... and it just works.

And so we've gathered up the international data rates for the four major U.S. carriers — Sprint, Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile — plus Google's own Project Fi offering. Each carrier does things slightly different, whether it's buying data ahead of time, loading up full-speed data passes once you're already gone or setting up a monthly roaming add-on.

Here's how each of the carriers handles international roaming.

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2 weeks ago

Google Play: Ultimate Guide

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How to get the most out of the Google Play Store

Google Play is the cornerstone of Google's ecosystem of content and has become a critical part of Android. It reaches almost all of Android and through Play Services is capable of fixing many of Android's problems. Google Play also is a content library and ecosystem that is accessible on more platforms than almost any other.

Born as the Android Market, it's grown from just a home for apps and is now the one-stop shop for applications, books, movies, music, TV shows — basically anything and everything that you can buy and use on your Android phone or tablet.

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2 weeks ago

This is the lowest price we've seen for the Ring Video Doorbell!

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Amazon currently has Ring's Video Doorbell for just $125, which happens to be the lowest price we've ever seen for it. This $75 savings makes it even more affordable to easily tell who is at the door without even having to get up from your couch. Using its app, the Ring doorbell can show you video and let you interact with the people at your door from your phone or even computer. You'll be able to see who is at your door, regardless of where you are in the world.

Odds are this deal won't last long, so be sure to place your order now if you are interested in one of these. There are a few different colors available so you can pick the one that matches your exterior the best.

See at Amazon

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2 weeks ago

HTC Vive vs Oculus Rift: Which should you buy?

Should I buy the Oculus Rift or the HTC Vive?

Buying a desktop-class VR headset right now is a big, expensive choice. You have to have a PC capable of driving the experience before you even plug a headset in, but when you finally reach that point you'll find yourself faced with a pair of excellent choices. You can buy an Oculus Rift, the VR headset that rekindled a global interest in consuming 360-degree content with its record-shattering Kickstarter campaign. Or you can go with the HTC Vive, a VR headset with new tech developed by Valve — the champion of PC gaming as we know it today.

Read More at VR Heads!

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2 weeks ago

Top Black Friday Deals from Android Central Digital Offers

Shopping on Black Friday can be chaotic — there are tons of sales around the web and it can be hard to pick which ones you'll actually benefit from.

Something that many seem to overlook when shopping deals on Black Friday is software. From online courses to more information about career-specific topics than you can handle, you won't want to miss out on these awesome savings.

Luckily Android Central Digital Offers is here to help make sure you don't miss out! Here are some amazing deals and huge savings that you'll want to check out.

Martian Notifier Smartwatch

  • Retail price: $129
  • Our regular price: $39.99
  • Black Friday price: $29.99 (76% off)

The Martian Notifier Smartwatch is a seamless blend of classic analog with a convenient digital display that elegantly joins the old with the new. You can receive push notifications for texts and email, set custom vibration alerts, check the weather, and more. For a great, minimalist smartwatch experience, check out the Martian Notifier!

See at Android Central Digital Offers

Code Black Drone with HD Camera

  • Retail price: $199
  • Our regular price: $99
  • Black Friday price: $44.99

New to drone-flying? The Code Black is the perfect introductory drone for those looking to get their air legs. You get about 10 minutes of flight time per charge, and you can shoot HD video to capture the excitement of every flight!

See at Android Central Digital Offers

PureVPN: Lifetime Subscription

  • Retail price: $597
  • Our regular price: $69
  • Black Friday price: $59

If protecting your data and internet activity is of the utmost importance to you, then a VPN is the way to go and PureVPN is incredibly reliable, trusted by over a million users. You can connect at top speeds with up to five devices, and you can access more than 550 servers in 141 countries. Encrypt your data and keep yourself safe and your activity private.

See at Android Central Digital Offers

Getflix: Lifetime Subscription

  • Retail price: $855
  • Our regular price: $39
  • Black Friday price: $29

If you love Hulu or want more than what's on Canadian Netflix (why don't we have "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia"?!) and you're outside the U.S., Getflix can help. It unlocks over 100 streaming services from around the world — no need for a complicated VPN or messing with your home DNS. Better yet, you can use it on all your favorite devices!

See at Android Central Digital Offers

Become an Ethical Hacker Bonus Bundle

  • Retail price: $680
  • Our regular price: $49
  • Black Friday price: $25

Digital security is paramount in today's world of online information and companies need to know that their systems are attack-proof. Learn to be an ethical hacker and get paid to hack companies' networks to help them find holes in their defence and fortify their security. And get paid pretty well in the process!

The Complete Machine Learning Bundle

  • Retail price: $780
  • Our regular price: $39
  • Black Friday price: $29

Programming computers to learn without having to be explicitly programmed is the future and getting in on the groundfloor and learning how to teach computers to learn is a great career path to start on. This learning bundle will teach you everything you need to learn from the basics to the advanced, including investment strategy applications.

See at Android Central Digital Offers

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