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22 hours ago

How to use the Auto Start Manager app on the ASUS ZenFone 2

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Auto Start Manager app

Control which apps start on their own, but beware of the possible consequences.

The ASUS ZenFone 2 sure comes with a lot of apps pre-installed. Some of us aren't happy about that, some of us love them being there, but most of us will use a few and do what we can do to get the others out of sight. Thankfully, that's pretty easy to do on the ZenFone 2. But some apps can only work effectively when they are pre-installed with special permissions by the manufacturer on a phone that's not rooted. The Auto Start Manager app on the ZenFone 2 is a good example.

it's a simple idea — select which apps are allowed to start on their own, with no interaction from the user (that's you and me). To do this, you need elevated permissions, but since it's a system app directly from ASUS it can have those permissions without you having to root your phone. Other apps are able to do the same thing, but they will need root to do it.

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3 days ago

Here's what you can do with the 'Active key' on the Galaxy S6 active

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Outside of the rugged hardware, there isn't a ton that separates the basic use of the Galaxy S6 active from its standard counterpart. The one notable exception is the extra hardware button — the "Active key" — found directly above the volume rocker on the left side of the phone.

It's tied into a new bit of software found exclusively on the active version of the device called the "Activity Zone," which is a neat little dashboard for all things active on your phone. But the Active key can also be customized to launch other apps of your choosing.

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3 days ago

Where do I shop for unlocked phones?

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unlocked phones

I like the idea of buying an unlocked phone, but where can I find them?

That's a pretty common question we hear anytime we talk about unlocked phones. It's understandable, considering the carrier phone dominated model we use here in the United States. While some of us — the people who spend time reading about smartphones on the Internet — know where to look when we want to buy a phone without involving AT&T or Verizon or any other service provider, most people go to their carrier's store (or a third party vendor for their carrier like Best Buy) when they want to purchase their new phone.

That works for a lot of people. I'm always talking about the reasons you would want to buy an unlocked phone, but a lot of us aren't planning on switching carriers any time soon, and want the convenience of walking into a retail shop with money, and walking out with a new phone. That's cool — do what works best for you. But if you're wanting to go unlocked, and need some pointers about where to find your next, we're here to help.

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4 days ago

The ASUS ZenFone 2 has two SIM card slots — here's how to use them

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ZenFone 2

Setting up both SIM cards on your ZenFone 2 is easy, and it doesn't require any special software.

One of the coolest features of the new ASUS ZenFone 2 is that it's one of the first "mainstream" devices to come with dual SIM card slots. Hold on — that doesn't mean you're going to be doubling down on network speeds or anything, as we explained here, but it does bring two physical phone lines into one device.

This isn't anything new, of course. Dual-SIM phones have been around a long time, and plenty of people use them outside of North America for various reasons. In some places, dual-SIM phones are the norm to prevent roaming fees or to ensure you have coverage everywhere you will be going. But in North America, where carriers have traditionally dictated the market (and they would never want you to be able to use a different network's SIM in their phone easily), it's just something we rarely see.

That's why we want to take a few minutes and show how easy it is to use two SIM cards on the ASUS ZenFone 2.

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5 days ago

A beginner's guide to the HTC One M9

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The HTC One M9 is the 2015 flagship phone from the Taiwanese manufacturer that's long been known for its design chops. And while this version of the phone — the third in what we'd consider to be the modern HTC One line, going back to 2013's M7 — hasn't exactly impressed as many folks as perhaps the company might like, it's still one of the better smartphones out there.

Whether you're in the market for a new smartphone and are thinking about getting the M9, or you've just picked one up and need a little help getting started, this is for you. It's our beginner's guide to the HTC One M9. Inside you'll find links to more in-depth pieces on software and hardware features, and how you'll be able to make the most out of your M9.

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6 days ago

What radio bands do I need on my unlocked phone?

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Unlocked phones

SIM unlocking is only half the battle — you need network support, too.

Buying an unlocked phone you can freely use on any GSM carrier is a great idea. You can get a great phone at a reasonable price now, and not being tied to any carrier's payment plan or network contract puts you in control of where and how you use your phone.

But you'll need to make sure the phone you're buying is not only unlocked, but has the hardware support needed to use on the network you plan to use it on. That's not nearly as easy, but we can help.

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1 week ago

Getting your phone SIM unlocked is easy

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Magic SIM card

Unlocking your phone is as easy as entering a code. Here's how to get one.

We've been talking a good bit about unlocked phones (the network unlocked kind) and went over some of the benefits of them, and why you might want to have one. Hopefully, it has answered some of your questions about it all.

Today, we're going to talk about how to network unlock your phone. All of those mentioned benefits and reasons to have an unlocked phone might have struck the right chords, and you'll need to know how to get it done.

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1 week ago

How to take a screenshot with the ASUS ZenFone 2

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ASUS ZenFone 2 taking screenshots

Taking a screenshot on the ASUS ZenFone 2 is easy, once you know a couple tricks.

There are three ways to take a screenshot on the ASUS ZenFone 2. One of them is the standard Android method of pressing power and volume down, like every other Android phone running Jellybean or higher. We all know that drill.

But when you put buttons on the back of the phone (and they are awesome when they are back there) doing it that way sucks. LG knows this, and so does ASUS. When you give us the glorious back-mounted buttons, you've gotta give us a better way to capture our screen.

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1 week ago

Why do I care if my phone is SIM unlocked?

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SIM tray

Would you buy a car that can only use the right lane?

SIM unlocked, or network unlocked, phones aren't a big deal for many of us. We're using a network provider that works well in the places where we spend most of our time (or should be), and using a phone that was designed to work on that particular network. Everyone is happy, everything just works, and we don't take time to think about it.

But we should.

While we're just fine with the status quo described above most of the time, there are three really good reasons why you would want a network unlocked phone. Let's have a look at them.

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1 week ago

How to disable ads in HTC BlinkFeed

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Ads in BlinkFeed are rolling out to HTC phones in some countries — but it's easy to opt out if you want

HTC recently started showing promotions through its BlinkFeed home screen reader app. It's a somewhat controversial move that sees BlinkFeed — which had previously been free of advertisements — starting to show "interest-based" ads alongside news and social content in the U.S., UK, Germany, Taiwan, and China. That means you might have started seeing sponsored BlinkFeed items on your HTC One M9, One M8, Desire or other HTC phones. Fortunately, if you're not a fan of ads in your feed, it's easy to opt out altogether.

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1 week ago

What is an 'unlocked' phone? (And why do I care?)

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Unlocked phones

Is my phone's bootloader unlocked? Is it SIM unlocked? What's the difference, and why is any of this important?

Unlocked. It's a word you'll see used a lot on websites about mobile technology, and most people writing about it will be sure to let you know that it is a good thing™. And it is (See? told 'ya). But unlocked can mean different things — that are all good things — depending on what, exactly, we're talking about.

Maybe you're wondering about being able to unlock the bootloader on the phone you want to buy next. Or maybe you'll need to SIM unlock your phone so you can take that trip abroad and not pay AT&T ten-cents a minute and a handful of dollars each time you check your email. Both are important, and we're going to talk about the differences.

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2 weeks ago

Smart Cleaning on the LG G4 - what is it, and do you need it?

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LG G4 Smart Cleaning

Know what is going to happen before you tap that button, or you might regret it.

There are a lot of tools and utilities in the LG G4's settings pages. Some are simple, and the same you would see in any other Android phone or tablet, while others require a bit of thinking before you go and tap on buttons. Smart Cleaning is one of the latter.

The idea is a good one. You will likely have files on your storage that you don't want or need, and Smart Cleaning is a one-touch solution to get rid of a few of them. But there is also the potential to delete things you don't want deleted, like camera raw files and even applications you haven't used recently. Let's take a look at exactly what Smart Cleaning does when you tap the button.

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2 weeks ago

How to factory reset and erase the LG G4

All good things must come to an end, even your relationship with your phone. This means at some point you may need to reset your LG G4. But it's not the only reason to do it.

Your LG G4 comes from the factory just about as clean as it will ever be. You haven't filled it up with apps and photos yet. It's not littered with folders from apps you installed, used for two days, then uninstalled. You haven't messed with the settings and forgotten what you did. So when your phone starts to slow down, or when a bug rears its ugly head and regular troubleshooting fails to fix it, you can always go nuclear with a factory reset.

Make sure your backups are current and let's hit the reset button.

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2 weeks ago

How to merge and unmerge Chrome tabs in Lollipop

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It's either the best or worst feature ever invented, depending on who you ask.

Everyone uses their devices just a little bit differently, and the web browser is more often than not a perfect example of that statement. Chrome for Android offers many great features, including the ability to sync all of your data across multiple devices so you are always with whatever tabs you left open elsewhere. How we use those tabs is often a topic of great debate, usually between those who keep dozens of tabs open at all times and those who swipe a tab away when they're done with it and bookmark the rest.

With the Lollipop release of Android, Google introduced a new way to handle Chrome tabs. Instead of keeping the tabs contained in one app, Android now offers individual Chrome tabs as their own cards in the multitasking panel. It's not something that works for everyone, so here's a quick explainer on turning that feature on and off.

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2 weeks ago

How to make sure you get the fix for the Samsung keyboard exploit

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Two days after word of an unlikely-but-real exploit involving the stock keyboard in a number of current Samsung smartphones was revealed, we're getting more details about the fix.

Samsung in a blog post today has further explained what to expect in regards to upcoming software fixes to the way its stock keyboard updates itself. As was disclosed earlier this week, it's theoretically possible for an attacker to piggyback on the language packages as they're updating, if you (and the attacker) are on the same unsecure network. It's unlikely — and Samsung today says "there have been no reported customer cases" of phones being compromised by this exploit since the June 16 announcement — but it's still possible.

New security policy updates will push out "in a few days," Samsung says in the post, "to invalidate potential vulnerabilities caused by this issue."

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