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1 day ago

Samsung deserves praise (and a little criticism) for the U.S. unlocked Galaxy S7 launch

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Samsung Galaxy S7 and S7 edge

Finally, the Galaxy S7 you want is available in the U.S.

Rather than dealing with the sub-optimal experience of buying from a carrier directly — living with a deplorable amount of bloatware, slow software updates and all sorts of "gotcha" moments — you can now just go to one of several retailers and buy an honest-to-goodness unlocked Galaxy S7 or S7 edge. It's exactly what we've been asking for year after year — just sell us the phone directly, and relegate the carriers to just offering service.

Now Samsung could have done the bare minimum here just to say it has unlocked versions of the Galaxy S7 and S7 edge available in the U.S. — it certainly did so with the U.S. unlocked Galaxy S6. But I'm happy to heap praise on Samsung for going the extra mile this year. These aren't just un-branded versions of a previous model, or European phones with a new charger in the box — the U.S. unlocked Galaxy S7 and S7 edge are equipped specifically to work best in the U.S., and that means full support for all four major carriers — yes, including Verizon and Sprint.

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1 day ago

Samsung gives the U.S. the perfect Galaxy S7 — unlocked!

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It's the best Android phone you can buy, no longer shackled to the U.S. carrier system and weighed down by bloatware.

Samsung, seemingly answering the prayers of many a smartphone nerd, today announced that it is selling the Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 edge in the United States unlocked. That is, they'll work on any carrier you want, come without a carrier's preinstalled bloatware, presumably get updates faster — and generally just be more badass.

The unlocked Galaxy S7 costs $669. The unlocked Galaxy S7 edge runs $769. The phones will be sold directly by Samsung, as well as at Amazon, Best Buy, eBay, Sam's Club and online from Target. Select distributors also will have access to the unlocked GS7.

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1 day ago

What bands are supported in the U.S. unlocked Samsung Galaxy S7?

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Pretty much all the bands are supported in the Samsung Galaxy S7. Thanks for asking.

The thing about having a SIM-unlocked smartphone is that it still has to be able to support the bands — that is the radio frequencies — of wherever it is you're trying to use it. And the unlocked Galaxy S7 and GS7 edge that Samsung has released in the United States pretty much has 'em all.

Here are the bands supported by the U.S. unlocked Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 edge:

Category Features CDMA 1x & EVDO Rev 0/RevA BC0, BC1, BC10 GSM Band 2/4/5/8 UMTS Band 1/2/4/5/8 FDD-LTE Band 1/2/3/4/5/7/8/12/13/18/19/20/25/26/29/30 TDD-LTE Band 38/39/40/41 TD-SCDMA Band 34/39

Samsung Galaxy S7 and S7 edge

Unlocked AT&T Sprint T-Mobile Verizon

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1 day ago

Amazon Prime Day makes its triumphant return on July 12

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Amazon is bringing back Prime Day, the day in which it offers an abundance of awesome deals for Prime members. Beginning July 5 Amazon will begin running a number of specials leading up to the big day, which will be July 12. Last year the retailer slashed pricing on Chromebooks, Kindles, televisions, security cameras and more.

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1 day ago

Quick comparison: 2016's mid-range Android challengers

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It's a great time to buy a mid-range phone.

With the unveiling of the Honor 5C and Wileyfox Spark in Europe this past week, and the imminent arrival of the Sony Xperia XA and ASUS Zenfone 3 internationally, the mid-range market continues to be one of the most competitive spaces for Android phones. With many such handsets launching this summer, we've rounded up the top six to see how they compare on paper.

You'll find out spec showdown down below, along with links to our hands-on coverage with each of these promising mid-level handsets!

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1 day ago

Take advantage of the Oculus Summer Sale to add some VR games to your collection

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It's time to take full advantage of the currently ongoing Oculus Summer Sale, which will bag you some VR games for your Gear VR from as little as 79p. As noted over on Hot UK Deals, the promotion itself ends on July 5 and you'll be able to pick up titles like Into The Dead and EVE: Gunjack to bolster your selection of games.

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1 day ago

Xiaomi's gigantic Mi Max debuts in India for just ₹14,999

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At a media event in New Delhi, Xiaomi launched the Mi Max in India. The phablet will be available starting July 13, and will retail for ₹14,999. Registrations are now live, and unlike earlier phones, the Mi Max will be available in general sale on Xiaomi's website, as well as Amazon, Flipkart, Snapdeal, and Paytm.

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1 day ago

Xiaomi sold over 1 million units of the Redmi Note 3 in India

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At the Mi Max event in New Delhi, Xiaomi announced that it sold over 1 million units of the budget Redmi Note 3 since the phone debuted in India earlier this year.

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1 day ago

MIUI 8 public beta kicks off July 11, stable build hitting August 16

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At the Mi Max launch event in New Delhi, Xiaomi announced that the public beta of MIUI 8 will commence on July 11, with the stable build becoming available starting August 16. Xiaomi shared usage statistics for MIUI, reiterating that the custom ROM has over 200 million users globally.

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1 day ago

Here's a list of all the 'Ok Google' commands you've never heard of

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You can use "Ok Google" to trigger voice commands and ask Google everything from weather updates to football scores, unit conversions, and so much more, but there hasn't been a list of all the commands the search engine supports. Until now. A developer created a website containing all of the "Ok Google" commands you can ask Google, and it is more extensive that you'd imagine.

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1 day ago

The Xiaomi Mi Max is launching in India — watch the livestream right here!

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Xiaomi is all set to launch the Mi Max phablet in India. Hit up the video above for all the action from the livestream. The manufacturer is also bringing MIUI 8 to India today, and as such there should be plenty of things to look forward to.

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1 day ago

HTC kicks off Sense 8 Home closed beta on non-HTC phones

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Last week, HTC started sending out emails over a closed Sense 8 Home beta test on non-HTC hardware. The closed beta has now kicked off, with HTC giving beta testers access to the HTC 10 launcher and its user feedback app.

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1 day ago

LG's dual-camera X cam now available on South Korea's SK Telecom, LG U+

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LG announced the X cam earlier this year, and the phone is now available on South Korea's SK Telecom and LG U+ for ₩495,000 ($430). The highlight of the X cam is the dual rear cameras, with the phone getting a secondary camera with a 120-degree wide angle lens, much like the LG G5.

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1 day ago

Experience what it's like to be deadmau5 with this Cardboard VR game

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Deadmau5 has teamed up with Absolut to launch a VR game that lets you step into the shoes of the Canadian music producer. The game is designed for Google Cardboard, with Absolut launching a limited edition Cardboard viewer stylised to look like deadmau5's mouse head helmet.

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1 day ago

ASUS ZenFone Max review: Lasts long, and that's that

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The quick take

The maiden ASUS ZenFone Max launched last year was not perfect, but it was a standout performer in the affordable smartphone segment with its stellar battery life. The company recently launched a refresh with upgraded internals and identical design – just months after the first one went on sale. The highlight of the ZenFone Max – battery life — hasn't changed, and it's one area where it doesn't disappoint. In few others, however, it sadly does.

The Good

  • Battery life
  • Solid build quality
  • Internal storage

The Bad

  • ZenUI experience and bloatware
  • No quick charging
  • Weight

About this review

I used the Indian retail variant of the ASUS ZenFone Max that ran ZenUI on top of Android Marshmallow out of the box. There was about 25GB of free storage available after setting up the device. For most of the time, I used it with an Airtel 4G SIM in Delhi NCR.

ASUS ZenFone Max Design

The ZenFone Max is not much of a looker, and is identical to its predecessor — the original ZenFone Max — which went on sale just six months ago and follows the company's design ethos with signature concentric circles at the front and a metallic strip running along the sides with large bezels all around.

At 202 grams, the ZenFone Max is quite heavy and sports a noticeable width – a trade-off for packing in a massive 5000mAh battery. But it feels quite sturdy and is a solid device. With that heft and build quality, you actually can use the ZenFone Max to throw at someone in case of a street fight (or not). I'd like to point out that several big-battery phones in the market — like those from Lenovo and Gionee — are lighter than ZenFone Max.

The removable rear panel sports a faux-leather finish which gives the soft-touch plastic a nice feel and aids the grip. The gold metallic edges provide a stylish accent to the rear panel. There's nothing special about the design of ZenFone Max, and it is identical to most ZenFone devices. Yet it stands out in the herd and feels nice in the hand.

ASUS ZenFone Max Hardware

When it comes to internals, the latest ZenFone Max gets a significant upgrade by packing in octa-core Snapdragon 615 processor as compared to the Snapdragon 410 that powered the original ZenFone Max. This time around, the ZenFone Max comes in two variants with either 2GB or 3GB of RAM. Both variants include a generous 32GB of internal storage, expandable up to 64GB via microSD card.

Category Features Operating System Android Marshmallow 6.0.1 with ZenUI Display 5.5-inch HD (1280 x 720) with Gorilla Glass 4 protection Processor 1.5 GHz octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 615 RAM 2GB/3GB Internal Storage 32GB; expandable up to 64GB via a microSD slot Rear Camera 13MP Front Camera 5MP Dimensions 156 x 77.5 x 10.6 mm Weight 202 grams Battery 5000 mAh

While overall the ZenFone Max is an able mid-ranger for your daily tasks, it tends to get bogged down with extensive multitasking or playing graphic-intensive games. Even with the Snapdragon 615 processor, the new Zenfone Max feels a bit underpowered and you would have hoped it was better. While I reviewed the 2GB variant, the 3GB variant would obviously fare better and makes more sense if you can spend the extra dough.

A fingerprint scanner is a noticeable omission on the ZenFone Max. While it is not a top priority for a lot of budget smartphone buyers at the moment, it is a blank spot on the specifications sheet when compared to several other budget and mid-range devices in the market right now.

ASUS ZenFone Max Display

While several, sub-₹10,000 smartphones from Xiaomi, Lenovo, Meizu, et al sport full HD displays, the new ZenFone Max stays with 720p HD resolution on a 5.5-inch display. The sole positioning of the smartphone is its endurance and a 1080p display would've hit that metric.

The display on the ZenFone Max is not the sharpest, yet the brightness and color reproduction is impressive. The viewing angles too are great and the screen is not very reflective, and therefore the sunlight legibility is pretty good. From the display settings, you can also customize the screen colors or choose from a few presets to tune the display as per your preference. Tinkering with the settings, you can adjust the temperature, hue, and saturation.

Overall, the display on the ASUS ZenFone Max is good enough for your daily drive and there's also Gorilla Glass 4 for scratch and shatter resistance. While a 720p display is a tad underwhelming on a large display, a lot of users might be okay with the trade-off.

ASUS ZenFone Max Software

Thankfully, the ZenFone Max now runs Android Marshmallow out-of-the-box wrapped under Asus's proprietary skin, the ZenUI. The latter though isn't optimized well, and often things would freeze and there would be random lags when a few apps were in background.

While Android skins are a matter of individual choice, the ZenUI is a tad gimmicky and much bloated. On first run, dive into the app drawer and you'd find a bunch of first party apps like ASUS Mobile Manager, ASUS Support, AudioWizard, Auto-start Manager, Do It Later, MiniMovie, PhotoCollage, Laser Ruler, MyASUS, Share Link, Splendid, Weather, WebStorage, ZenCircle, and ZenTalk. Also, you'd have all these apps and more updating on the first run which is a poor unboxing experience. There's also a bunch of third party apps like Clean Master, Dr. Safety, Amazon Kindle, Snapdeal, TripAdvisor, TrueCaller, Newshunt, and few others that are offered as suggested apps and are downloaded automatically as soon as you finish setting up the device.

The Asus Mobile Manager boosts and optimizes RAM and battery, but also includes shortcuts to several other optimization apps. Asus could've really packed in all that functionality in an integrated Mobile Manager app for better user experience.

The ZenFone Max supports gestures and along with the double-tap to wake up or turn off the display, you can draw various letters on the screen to launch apps from standby. It's awkward though that there is no option to customize the gestures. You can flip the device over to mute a call and can also take a screenshot while using any app by shaking the phone. It's not the best implementation though, and several times I had to shake the phone violently – to the surprise of folks around me – to capture a screenshot making it a pointless 'shortcut'.

ASUS ZenFone Max Battery life

Of course, the highlight of the ZenFone Max is the 5000mAh battery it packs and the tremendous battery life it claims to offer. The claim's not misplaced and you can easily get through the second day on ZenFone Max with moderate usage. A casual user will be able to squeeze in more than two days by configuring the optimum battery mode. Asus offers multiple battery modes based on your usage — performance, normal, power saving, and super power saving. You can also create a customized one.

The ZenFone Max supports reverse charging, and can be used as a power bank to charge another phone using the bundled OTG cable.

Like the last time, one of the baffling issues with the ZenFone Max is the inefficient charging via the standard 1A/5V bundled charger. The ZenFone Max is notoriously slow to charge taking an average of five hours to charge the phone from zero to hundred percent. A quick charging solution would've been great especially when you have to charge a bigger battery like the one it has.

ASUS ZenFone Max Camera

When it comes to camera, the Asus ZenFone Max has a pretty much standard package on the specifications sheet. There's a 13-megapixel rear camera with PDAF support and laser focus, and a 5-megapixel front camera. However, the rear camera is only average as compared to budget smartphones from Xiaomi and LeEco which has set new benchmarks in imaging for the budget smartphone segment.

The ZenFone Max captures good details and the colors are accurate. Some landscape shots though lacked sharpness. While the camera focusses in a jiffy, the shutter speed is unimpressive. Interestingly, the ZenFone Max does pretty well in low light photography. For a budget device, using the Night or Low Light mode, I managed to click several decent pictures. The front camera too is good enough for your selfies and manages to capture enough details and accurate colors.

The default camera app is loaded with options with several toggles right on the viewfinder. There are a variety of shooting modes like HDR, Super Resolution, Depth of Field, Low Light, Night, Slow Motion, Time Lapse, and Smart Remove and the settings include options to configure the ISO, white balance, exposure, and other features like Anti-Shake Enhancement.

ASUS ZenFone Max Bottom line

ASUS has retained the best bits of the first ZenFone Max — the design and build quality as well as the camera — while upgrading the internals across the board. There are still some misses, like the lack of quick charging and fingerprint scanner. The hardware upgrade too doesn't up the performance as much as one would've liked thanks to the buggy ZenUI.

The ZenUI user experience on the ZenFone Max leaves a lot to be desired, and the amount of bloatware is plain annoying. One would wish that Asus would give ZenUI a refresh like Samsung recently did with TouchWiz.

Should you buy it? Probably

At ₹9,999 ($148) for the 2GB RAM variant in India, the Asus ZenFone Max is a good buy if you're looking for a decent smartphone that can last long and does good enough in performance and camera department wrapped in a solid chassis. The 3GB RAM variant, while being a better performer comes at a premium (₹12,999 ($192)) that might not be good enough for the neither-here-nor-there smartphone.

See at Flipkart

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