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1 hour ago

Will my phone get updated to Android 7.0 Nougat?

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Jerry looks into his crystal ball and asks: Will your phone get an Android 7.0 update?

It's time for a new version of Android, and that means I also get to make my yearly predictions about updates. Fun times!

Now, to be sure, unless a manufacturer has already committed to updating an existing phone, these are simply (mostly) educated guesses. We base them on a company's track record, the capabilities of the phone itself, and the number of phones a company makes. It's sort of like a blogger version of reading tea leaves and calling the bookmakers. And it's fun. Even when we get it wrong it's fun.

Since we're here because we are interested in Android, and most of us like to have a little fun, let's jump right in and answer the million dollar question — will my phone get updated to Android 7 Nougat?

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1 day ago

First major Nougat update coming soon, new Developer Preview landing this fall

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Nougat statue

Android is moving 'into a new regular maintenance schedule over the coming quarters.'

Now that Android 7.0 Nougat has been released we're starting to hear the first details on what's next for Google's OS. In a post on the Android Developers blog, Engineering VP Dave Burke lays out what's next for Nougat.

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1 day ago

LG V20: Google gives us our first look at Nougat-powered phone

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Google 'introduces' new LG phone on Nougat promo page.

As Google officially unveiled Android 7.0 Nougat, there's a small surprise waiting on the shiny new Nougat promo page — an early look at the upcoming LG V20.

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1 day ago

Best Galaxy Note 7 tips and tricks you need right now

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How can I make my Galaxy Note 7 even better, right out of the box?

The Galaxy Note 7 is Samsung's best phone ever, but it's not perfect. Some of the out-the-box settings are a little strange, and others are downright frustrating. Here's how you can make it the best possible experience — immediately!

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2 days ago

Samsung Galaxy Note 7: Everything you need to know

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Galaxy Note 7

Galaxy Note 7 details, specs, pricing and everything you need to know.

The Galaxy Note 7 has launched and is fully available, and that means there's a ton to take in if you're considering buying one or already have one in your hands. Unlike the last few Samsung launches we don't have two versions of the phone — there's a single Note 7 version, and it's a phone that integrates a ton of what we've already seen in the Galaxy S7 and S7 edge.

To get up to speed with everything surrounding the Galaxy Note 7, we have you covered right here.

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3 days ago

Grab the Honor 5X for an ultra-low $160 today from Newegg

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Honor is a growing brand in North America — the Huawei sub-brand just announced that its latest flagship, the Honor 8, is coming to the U.S. at the end of the month — but it made its debut last year with a 5X.

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3 days ago

Nougat changes Android's emoji to look like people

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Android Nougat is here, and it comes with one of the system's biggest updates to emoji, based on the new Unicode 9.0 release.

As part of the Nougat update, Google announced that it will support the Emoji Unicode 9 standard, which includes a number of new pictorials. Also included are skin tone variations, a feature that iOS users have been enjoying for some time.

But perhaps the most interesting change is that Google has moved away from its often-reviled cartoon emoji in favor of a "more human-looking design," according to the Nougat webpage.

New glyphs include "Face Palm," "Bacon," and "Mother Christmas," most of which are available in Android 7.0.

Google already added a host of new emojj with Android 6.0.1 back in December, but as with any new Android release, only a small percentage of users have received it. Of course, some manufacturers override Google's own emoji design. Samsung in particular has its own unique set of emoji, and it's unclear whether Google's changes in Nougat will have any impact on how the company approaches its pictorials in the future.

Android 7.0 Nougat

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4 days ago

HTC is now selling the gold and red HTC 10 in the U.S.

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HTC is now accepting preorders of both the red and gold variants of the HTC 10 in the U.S. There are limited quantities of both colors available, and the company is still offering $100 off the phone or you can get the free JBL headphones while supplies last. Aside from the colors, nothing is different here. You can pick up an unlocked version, or one on the carrier of your choice.

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4 days ago

What color Note 7 did you buy?

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All four colors look great, but most of us are only buying one. Which color caught your eye?

Most phones come in any color you want, as long as that color is black. That's a trend that's changing, and the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 comes in four colors, three of which we can buy in the U.S. (sorry gold fans.)

And they're pretty nifty colors, too. Even the Black version isn't just black. It's black front and back, and the sides are matte black, too. That makes a big difference when you're used to seeing black phones with silver-ish faux chrome side rails. This phone can act presidential.

Not to be outdone, the Coral Blue model is pretty amazing. It has a cornflower (I had my wife tell me which color it is, and cornflower is much better than "kinda-light-blue-and-sorta-gray-mixed-in-maybe-I-dunno-it's-nice") gloss look, but only when it's still and you're looking straight at it. It picks up colors from the surroundings because of its reflective surface and the color looks like it's always changing. It's pretty wild. You need to see it in person so you know I'm not crazy.

That blue is hot, but I'd have to go with black on black on black.

The Silver version uses the same color as the Galaxy S7 (and the S7 edge in Silver is the prettiest phone of all time). That means while it's technically silver, it's really more like a mirror. Fully polished and fingerprint-free it looks nice. Very nice. If the Black model is the stoic and serious model, Silver is the elegant one.

Then there's Gold. Gold looks really good. It's a different gold than we've seen from Samsung before, and it looks nothing like the pink gold from Apple. It's a soft color that also does a good job picking up other colors from your surroundings, though not to the extent it's Blue Chameleon sibling does. It's very slick. It's also not coming to North America because we deserve to be punished for some reason. At least for now.

I had a look at them the other evening, and even got to see the gold model. I fell in love with the blue (like many of you likely did) but in the end that murdered-out black would be my pick if I were buying. What about you? Which color did you grab? Hit the poll and let us know.

Which color Note 7 did you buy?

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4 days ago

8 things to know about the Galaxy Note 7's SD card slot

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Galaxy Note 7 SD card slot

Samsung brought the SD card slot back to the Note line — now it's time to reacquaint yourself with it.

Note buyers have spoken: they wanted an SD card slot back in their phone. Samsung listened, and the Galaxy Note 7 brought back the SD card slot just like the Galaxy S7 did — hiding right in there next to the SIM card.

Things mostly pick up right where they left off with the SD card slot on the Note 4, though the software and capabilities have changed a bit. If you have a Note 7 or are getting ready to pick one up, these are the things you should know about expanding the storage in your phone.

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4 days ago

Where to buy the Galaxy Note 7 in Canada

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Where can I buy the Galaxy Note 7 in Canada?

The Galaxy Note 7 is a big, beautiful phone, and Samsung Canada knows it. That's why it is offered at almost every possible carrier, along with the company's four retail locations spaced out across the country.

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4 days ago

Where to buy the Galaxy Note 7 in the U.S.

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Where to buy the Galaxy Note 7 in the U.S.

The Galaxy Note 7 is here, and it can be yours from the major U.S. carriers.

It doesn't come as much of a surprise that the Galaxy Note 7's going on sale from major carriers in the U.S. — with Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile and U.S. Cellular all getting in on the game. You get the same phone from all of the carriers, leaving your decision up to how the network will work for you, and what incentives it can offer with the purchase.

Here's a breakdown of all the details for buying the Galaxy Note 7 from the major U.S. carriers.

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4 days ago

Don't miss your chance to get a Nextbit Robin at its lowest price yet!

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Right now you can grab an unlocked Nextbit Robin for just $199 at Amazon, the lowest price we've seen yet for the phone. The Robin features a 5.2-inch display covered by Gorilla Glass 4, as well as 3GB of RAM and 32GB of on-board storage. Nextbit also offers 100GB of cloud storage to where the phone seamlessly backs up your apps, photos and more without you needing to do anything.

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5 days ago

Alcatel Idol 4S review: Getting the most from the mid-range

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Alcatel delivers its best phone ever with the Idol 4S.

Quick Take

The Alcatel Idol 4S is a 5.5-inch mid-ranger from a company that's spent the time to refine its design and hardware. You get access to a fantastic camera with manual features and Hi-Fi audio. The phone offers an excellent display, even outdoors, and provides battery life that will easily get you through the day.

Good and Bad

The Good

  • Awesome camera with plenty of features
  • Fantastic battery life
  • Great Hi-Fi audio

The Bad

  • Phone can feel slippery in your hand
  • Processor heats up after extended use

About this Review

I (Jen Karner) am writing this review after using the Alcatel Idol 4S for two weeks. It's running Android 6.0.1 with the July 1, 2016 security patch (build number 4AGB-UEB10.) It was connected to the AT&T network in Halethorpe, Md., and the great Baltimore Metropolitan area, and was connected via Bluetooth to a 2015 Honda Fit.

Alcatel Idol 4S Specs

Category Features Display 5.5-inch QHD AMOLED screen Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 652 octa-core CPU Storage 32GB storage, micro-SD slot RAM 3GB RAM Rear Camera 16 MP, f/2.0, phase detection autofocus, dual-LED (dual tone) flash Front Camera 8MP Battery 3,000 mAh, Micro-USB port, Quick Charge 2.0 Dimensions 153.9 x 75.4 x 7 mm
149 g

Sleek and metal

Alcatel Idol 4S Hardware

The Alcatel Idol 4S has a sturdy metal and glass body that feels great from the moment as you pick it up. While the device fits comfortably in your hand, it tends to get slippery, (which means that investing in a decent case might be a good plan if you have a tendency to drop your phone regularly.)

The back is smooth glass, with minimal branding. The only thing that protrudes noticeably from the back is the rear camera lens. While there is a fingerprint sensor set into the back, there isn't any indentation. Instead, you'll be able to locate it by the metal ring that surrounds it. And it's reasonably ergonomic too, even if you have smaller hands.

The boom button lets you trigger certain actions when within apps, or when your phone is locked.

From the front, the phone looks pretty similar to many other rounded 5.5-inch handset (particularly some of Samsung's recent devices.) One of the biggest differences comes in the buttons layout. That's because along with the power button on the upper left, and volume rocker on the upper right, you'll find the "Boom" button — a circular key in the middle of the right side.

The boom button lets you trigger certain actions within apps, or when your phone is locked. This includes doing things like launching your camera when the device is locked, or triggering specific actions like a weather preview. It's a nifty feature that enhances the experience, but isn't entirely necessary and can be ignored if you so choose. It also really, really looks like a power button.

Alongside the standard Micro-USB and headphone jacks down below, you'll also find a slot for your micro SD card on the upper left corner, just underneath the power button. And at both the top and bottom of your screen you will see small discrete speaker grates for the Idol 4S's impressive audio system.

You don't need to jack up the volume all the way to get fantastic sound when listening to music, or sharing videos with friends.

Those speakers really get the job done, too, with support for Hi-Fi audio and stereo output whether the phone is facing up or down. That's right, they'll fire out the back of the phone too. Aside from that you don't need to jack up the volume all the way to get fantastic sound when listening to music, or sharing videos with friends, which is great.

The display is impressive, too, with a 2560x1140 pixel resolution that rivals some more expensive smartphones. So naturally there's plenty of pixel density to go around, and I also found it bright enough to use in outdoor conditions — although you'll need to watch out for increased battery drain at higher brightness levels.

As for general speed, Qualcomm's Snapdragon 652 processor works admirably, and I didn't notice any performance issues with the Idol 4S. It didn't matter if I'd been playing Avengers Academy for over an hour, or if I'd had to navigate my way through Baltimore City using Google Maps, this phone was always up to the task. Even when I'd been using the phone heavily for several hours, the only real issue was heat buildup — something that's by no means unique to the Idol 4S. It never started dropping apps, acting jittery, or requiring me to put it down to give it a rest. (It did start to slow down after a while, but even this was generally when the battery was quite low.)

And storage-wise, there's 32GB of internally, which can thankfully be augmented using a microSD card for plenty more storage to keep your games, photos and music loaded locally. Alcatel specifies that the slot can take cards up to 512GB.

All Google, all the way

Alcatel Idol 4S Software

For now, the Alcatel Idol 4S is reasonably up-to-date software-wise, running Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow right out of the box with the July 2016 Android security patch. We're on the cusp of Android Nougat, but Marshmallow still gets the job done, and Android 6.0.1 performs really well on the Idol 4S.

While it doesn't come in bogged down in tons of bloatware, there are a fair few apps that come preloaded. Several of these revolve around VR, because the Alcatel Idol 4S comes packaged within a Google Cardboard headset. You'll find a few games, a VR launcher and a VR store where you access new virtual experiences.

Preloaded VR content helps you make the most out of the bundled 'Cardboard' headset.

An added perk is the addition of the Waves Maxaudio app. This phone has Hi-Fi audio, and the app lets you manually adjust how things sound. You can tweak stereo, bass, treble, and even set specific settings for different genres of music. You also get access to an app called Fyuse, which allows you to take seriously epic movable photos (when it works correctly, anyway).

Superbly suited

Alcatel Idol 4S Camera

Cameras have become integral to the way that many of us use our phones. Whether it's rolling through Instagram and taking selfies, or recording video of friends at parties, having a camera that works well is a necessity. Thankfully, the Alcatel Idol 4S does a great job here, with tons of software features, and cameras that do a great job capturing memorable moments.

There's a 16MP rear facing camera, and an 8MP selfie shooter. Both function quite well, though they do have a tendency to blur if you aren't holding your hands still. Usefully, you can actually open up your camera, even if your phone is locked pressing the Boom button on the side.

Alcatel gives you plenty of options with the camera as well. You've got auto, panorama, and manual modes, slow motion videos, Fyuse, and micro-video. Each one is chock full of features to let you get the best results in different situations. The Fyuse mode lets you take photos that you can actually look at from multiple angles, but it did have problems about half of the time when I tried to use it. Aside from showing people how it worked, I more or less left this function alone.

In manual mode, all of your options appear on the right side of the screen and let you adjust them on a slide bar. Panorama functions will show you a preview of your photo as you take it, and even the auto mode has basic sliders you can tweak up and at the top of your screen. So long as you can get used to having to hold very still when taking photographs, you'll be quite happy with the results that you get.

Capacity to continue

Alcatel Idol 4S Battery

The Acatel Idol 4S is equipped with a 3,000mAh non-removable battery. In my experience, it's capable of taking you through 12+ hours without needing a recharge, even with heavy use. When it does come time to fuel back up, you've got access to quick charge capabilities which means you won't be stopping for too long.

Even when I was moving between multiple games, or out for a walk playing Pokemon Go, I could count on having hours of gameplay without having to stop and let the phone recharge. When that time finally did come, I didn't need to plug it in for more than about 90 minutes because it supports Quick Charge 2.0.

Even using the Alcatel Idol 4S heavily, I never once managed to actually run completely out of juice.

Even using the Alcatel Idol 4S heavily, I never once managed to actually run completely out of juice. The lowest I got was about 5% and that was usually at the very end of my day, as I was headed to bed. For regular or light users you can expect to get through a solid 16 hours without issue, heavier users should expect 10-12 hours of use. That's about standard for a phone of this size in mid-2016.

Bottom Line

Should you buy it? Yes

This brings us to the big question with the Alcatel Idol 4S, should you buy it? Between the battery, screen, and camera you're looking at a solid phone that can easily get you through your day without ease and it doesn't have a killer price tag attached. You can pick it up from Alcatel directly for $399, which is a pretty sweet deal.

Considering that you also get a fantastic VR headset with your phone, you can go far with this phone. It isn't a flagship device, but Alcatel has worked their butts off to offer a fantastic device that is affordable for many people. Sitting as a mid-grade phone, you've got plenty of options, but the Alcatel Idol 4S is a good choice for anyone who values photo and audio quality, as well as a great overall experience.

See at Alcatel

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5 days ago

Android 7.0 Nougat likely releasing Aug 22

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Nougat statue

Both LG and Canada's Telus suggest same date for final Nougat code drop.

Nexus owners: Get ready for some Nougat. It's looking highly likely that the next version of Android will go official next Monday, August 22. That's the date given for the Android 7.0 update on Nexus 5X and 6P by Canadian operator Telus in its latest software update schedule.

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