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1 month ago

Everything you need to know about importing a Xiaomi phone into the U.S.

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Importing a Xiaomi phone is straightforward, but there are a few things to consider

There are plenty of great options in the U.S. if you're on the lookout for a budget phone, but they don't hold up against the likes of what Xiaomi has to offer in this segment. Ever since the Chinese company burst onto the scene a few years ago, it has consistently released entry-level phones that raised the bar in this segment.

The only problem with Xiaomi is that its products aren't available in Western markets. The manufacturer is focusing its attention on India and other parts of Asia, and while a U.S. launch is on the cards "in the near future", the brand isn't ready to venture into the country just yet. Judging by the way its Chinese rival LeEco debuted in the market, it's likely Xiaomi will want to hold off until it has the infrastructure and marketing in place.

Right now, your best recourse to getting your hands on a Xiaomi phone in the U.S. is through third-party resellers. That said, there are a few limitations with this option as well. Before we get to them, here's a look at some of the phones that Xiaomi has to offer.

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1 month ago

Samsung will limit Note 7 battery charge to 30% in the UK

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Samsung is doing all it can to persuade customers to return the Note 7.

It's been two months since Samsung officially terminated the Note 7, but an estimated 10% of devices sold in Europe are yet to be returned to the manufacturer. In a bid to further dissuade customers from using the phone, Samsung announced that it will roll out a software update to all Note 7 devices in the UK that will limit the battery charge to 30%:

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1 month ago

Google's iMessage competitor isn't Allo, it's texting

113

Android may get its iMessage competitor, but it's not going to be sexy or blue.

One of the main reasons the iPhone, and iOS, continues to be so compelling is iMessage, the thick blue bubble of exclusivity in the messaging space. Android users are left out, and will likely continue to be for the foreseeable future — despite the occasional rumor to the contrary.

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1 month ago

Samsung is permanently crippling the Note 7 in the U.S. [Update: Verizon says nope]

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It's been... real.

Samsung has encouraged the return of 93% of the 1.9 million recalled Galaxy Note 7s since the second recall was issued on October 13. That's a lot of phones, but that still means there are over 130,000 units still to be recovered, many of which could have defective batteries.

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1 month ago

Wileyfox Swift 2 Plus is once again down to £149 in the UK

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Swift 2 Plus will be on sale for £149 for the duration of the holiday season.

Wileyfox's Swift 2 Plus is once again discounted to £149 on Amazon UK, making it an enticing option if you're in the market for a budget phone that offers great value for money. The £70 discount is valid until the end of the year, and Wileyfox is bundling a free one-time screen replacement service and a hard case for the phone.

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1 month ago

Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 is finally picking up the Android 6.0 Marshmallow update in India

3

Latest MIUI 8 build brings Marshmallow.

Xiaomi sold over 2.5 million units of the Redmi Note 3 in India, and the manufacturer is finally starting to roll out the Android 6.0 Marshmallow update to the phone, albeit in beta form. The phone was updated to MIUI 8 — the latest iteration of Xiaomi's custom ROM — earlier this year, but the base kernel was still Android 5.1.1 Lollipop.

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1 month ago

What is T-Mobile Digits and why do I want it?

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T-Mobile's Digits brings phone calls and texts into the 21st century, but at a time when people care little about those things, will it make a difference?

T-Mobile has unveiled a new service called Digits, making phone numbers less reliant on a SIM card, and expanding the simple phone number into the smartphone age.

But for all of its big talk, Digits is a bit confusing, so let's break it down.

What is Digits?

At its core, Digits is T-Mobile's way of utilizing its new IMS (IP Media Subsystem) backend to dynamically direct calls to any device, or store multiple numbers on a single device.

Basically, without the technical mumbo jumbo, it's a way to free the phone number from its legacy place, and to utilize the flexibility data-based nature of Voice over LTE and Voice of Wi-Fi to allow a call to take place, or to be received, in the most convenient place. This is very similar to Google Voice, and to many other Voice over IP services like Viber and Skype, but T-Mobile has one major advantage: it owns the network, and it distributes the phones.

So what can Digits really do for me?

Provided you're on one of T-Mobile's compatible postpaid plans (yes, this is yet another way for T-Mobile to upsell you), Digits can make it easier to manage phone calls in the increasingly inevitable situation you have multiple devices.

The basic idea is that if you receive a call on your traditional T-Mobile number, your phone should ring, along with any device — another phone, a computer, a tablet, even a connected smartwatch — at the same time. You can also make calls from any of those same devices without your phone nearby, and without the need to have a SIM card.

A secondary but for many people equally important feature is the ability to have more than one number available on a single device. So instead of having separate personal and work phones, you can have a single smartphone make and receive calls from two or more numbers.

This sounds a lot like Google Voice

Yes, it does. The major difference here is that T-Mobile is committing to a couple of things that even Google, which creates both Android and Google Voice, can't do:

  • It is integrating Digits directly into the Android phones it sells, working with manufacturers like Samsung to seamlessly add Digits support into devices like the Galaxy Note 5, Galaxy S7 and Gear S3.
  • It is making it easy to do so-called "SIM replication," which allows you to duplicate a phone number onto a second device, such as another smartphone or a connected smartwatch.

This is in addition to the Google Voice-like Digits app that's available for Android and iOS, to make and receive calls and texts from any device, anywhere. There's also a Digits portal on the web for people who sit in front of a computer all day and want to be able to initiate communications that way. And because the app is available natively and through an app, devices with SIM cards from AT&T, Verizon or Sprint — any carrier, really — can access Digits messages. If you lose your phone, for instance, you can download the Digits app onto a friend's device and make and receive calls and texts from there, too.

Like many cross-platform messaging services, call logs and messages also sync in real-time between devices, which is a huge boon to productivity if you don't always have your phone in front of you.

It's tailor-made for Android

Android is the only platform on which T-Mobile can rely to help Digits grow.

Digits is a cross-platform play, sure, but it is tailor-made for Android. Not only does iOS have its own cross-device communications protocol in iMessage, which may mess with Digits' ability to route texts, but Apple doesn't allow for any system-level alterations, rendering one of Digits' primary use cases moot.

Indeed, Android is the only platform on which T-Mobile can rely to help Digits proliferate, but by potentially limiting half of the population to merely an app-based experience, it is almost immediately cut off at the proverbial knees. Still, Digits has a five-device limit, and can easily be tuned to be used on an iPhone or iPad, especially since as of iOS 10 VoIP apps can take over the lock screen like a regular dialer.

The best Digits experience will always be on Android, and initially is only natively available on the Samsung Galaxy S6, Galaxy S6 edge, Galaxy S6 edge +, Galaxy S7, Galaxy S7 edge or Note 5 purchased through T-Mobile.

So should I sign up?

Digits, while free during the beta period, won't be afterwards, and T-Mobile isn't saying how much it will cost.

Digits is an intriguing product, and an example of what it looks like when a carrier turns next-generation core technology like IMS and HLR (which works to virtualize SIM data on the core network) into something that is truly compelling to consumers.

There are a couple of caveats, though: Digits, while free during the beta period, will not be afterwards, and T-Mobile isn't saying how much it will cost. It's likely going to be just a few dollars per month, but users already need to have one of the carrier's postpaid plans such as T-Mobile One or Simple Choice. And only the primary account holder can actually sign up for a second line in order to carry two on a single device; secondary users can merely share their existing number across multiple devices.

During the beta period, which is indeterminate but should go into next year, T-Mobile will ask users to provide feedback on the service. This is a complicated thing, despite its upfront simplicity, and bugs will need to be worked out.

In the long run, though, Digits is coming to market at a time when the phone number is likely the least important aspect of a smartphone user's experience. Data, and the avenues to the internet it provides, is the backbone of the mobile experience. Phone calls and rich texts sent over a carrier network, even one as advanced as T-Mobile's, still feel somewhat anachronistic.

Nonetheless, the Digits beta seems like a great option for T-Mobile users running select Samsung phones on Android, and we look forward to trying it out!

See Digits at T-Mobile

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1 month ago

MrMobile Head to Head: Pixel vs iPhone!

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A war is brewing! Well, not a war. It's more like... not a war. But for the iPhone and the Pixel, it can only mean one thing — War! Alright, this paragraph may be ridiculous, but what we're talking about isn't. It's time for the iPhone and Pixel to face off!

MrMobile is pitting these two titans head-to-head, bringing to light the most important questions of our day. Do the iPhone's lush camera colors outshine the intense image stabilization of the Pixel? Can having an headphone jack edge out those who might want to Snapchat underwater? And who really is behind the mystery of the abandoned theme park? Michael Fisher reveals all in this thrilling episode! (Except the one about the abandoned theme park — that was Old Man McCreevy.)

Stay social, my friends

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1 month ago

Galaxy S8 may feature an 'all-screen' bezel-less display

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Get ready for a bezel-less panel on the Galaxy S8.

Following on from rumors that Samsung is ditching the home button on the Galaxy S8 (as well as the 3.5mm jack), Bloomberg is now reporting that the phone will feature an "all-screen front" with a bezel-less display:

The bezel-less displays will provide more viewing real estate while a virtual home button will be buried in the glass in the the lower section, the people said, asking not to be identified because the details haven't been released. The new phones will only come with wraparound displays using organic light-emitting diode technology, the people said.

Samsung Display is said to have invested significant resources into creating a panel with a display area ratio exceeding 90%. The panel will feature a fingerprint sensor that's embedded within the glass, negating the need for a dedicated home button.

It looks like Samsung will also retain the 5.1-inch and 5.5-inch form factors with the Galaxy S8, and the company will stick to offering a combination of Qualcomm's Snapdragon 835 and its in-house Exynos SoC for various markets.

The Galaxy S8 won't be the first to feature a bezel-less panel. Xiaomi has that honor with its revolutionary Mi Mix, but the phone is sold in limited quantities in China. If Samsung decides to go bezel-less with the Galaxy S8, it will be the first company to do so at scale.

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1 month ago

Blue Coral Galaxy S7 edge is now available in India for ₹50,900

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You'll be able to buy one starting December 15.

Samsung is continuing to roll out the Blue Coral Galaxy S7 edge in global markets. The color variant is now available in India for ₹50,900, with sales kicking off December 15. The phone will be up for sale online, as well as offline stores.

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1 month ago

Moto M is coming to India on December 13

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The Moto M is a premium Moto G4 Plus with a metal back.

Lenovo has sent out invites to the media for the launch of the Moto M in the country on December 13. The phone is essentially a premium variant of the Moto G4 Plus with a metal body.

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1 month ago

Pearl Black Galaxy S7 edge with 128GB storage debuting in Korea [Update: Now official!]

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Samsung's answer to the Jet Black iPhone 7 is here.

Update: Samsung has officially announced the Pearl Black variant of the Galaxy S7 edge. The phone will be available with 128GB storage, and will debut in "select markets" on December 9.

Samsung is looking to introduce new color options to boost sales of the Galaxy S7 edge for the holiday season. We've already seen the Blue Coral variant break cover last month, and Samsung is now getting ready to launch the Pearl Black color option in South Korea on December 9. Notably, the new color variant is expected to come with 128GB of storage.

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1 month ago

Canadians won't be able to use a Note 7 on any network after December 15

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Time to give it up, Canada.

Samsung Canada is following New Zealand's lead by cutting off network access for all unreturned Note 7 devices as of December 15.

The company has announced that although 90% of the approximately 39,000 Note 7s sold through Canadian channels have been returned, the remaining 4,000 or so outstanding units will lose access to Wi-Fi and Bluetooth on December 12, along with cellular abilities three days later, on December 15. An update will also include "a limitation on the battery charge," though it's unclear to what percentage. Other markets have limited the Note 7's defective battery to 60% to prevent overheating and expansion.

Samsung implores Canadians holding onto a Note 7 unit to return it as soon as possible:

We strongly urge any customers still using their Note7 to return their device to the place of purchase for a refund or exchange between December 7th and December 15th. We have been in continuous communication with Note7 customers to remind them about the need to return their recalled device and will continue to communicate daily with a push notification about this network deactivation event to ensure they continue to receive adequate notice.

As a recalled product, Note7 device owners are legally prohibited from selling or even giving away the recalled device. We would like to remind customers that they need to return their Note7 device.

The company notes that even after the update, Note 7s will still be able to call 9-1-1 for safety reasons.

Samsung Galaxy Note 7

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1 month ago

Galaxy S7 on Nougat: Exploring the new notifications and quick settings

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Galaxy S7 Nougat

Samsung brings a fresh visual style to a familiar part of Android — along with a bunch of new features.

Notifications are a staple part of the Android experience, and they've been changed up in a big way in version 7.0, Nougat. Notifications are more functional and information-dense than ever, with inline replies and bundled notifications allowing you to see and do more without opening the app.

In its Nougat update for the Galaxy S7 and S7 edge, Samsung has expanded upon Android's base feature set, and overhauled its quick settings panel in the process.

Here's what we're currently seeing in the Android 7.0 beta for the Galaxy S7. All this stuff is subject to change, but most this will likely carry over to the final Nougat update.

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1 month ago

Leaked renders of the Galaxy A3 2017 show off 2.5D curved glass at the front

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New models in the Galaxy A series inbound.

It's getting to be that time of the year where we'll see new models in the mid-range Galaxy A series. Like this year, Samsung is expected to introduce 2017 editions of the Galaxy A3, A5, and A7. Before the official unveil, we're being treated to leaked renders of the Galaxy A3 2017, giving us an early look at the design of the device.

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