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1 month ago

ASUS ZenFone 3 Zoom hands-on: Focused on being more than just a camera

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Asus ZenFone Zoom

The second 'Zoom' model isn't quite as impressive optically, but makes more sense practically.

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After some pretty audacious engineering marvels going into the last ZenFone Zoom, ASUS has taken a decidedly simpler approach with the new ZenFone 3 Zoom. Rather than being a majority camera-focused smartphone, this is aimed at being a solid mid-to-high-end device overall that also happens to great photos with top-end camera specs.

ASUS effectively gave up on the huge, cumbersome and trade-off-heavy optical zooming solution of old and instead chose to go with a dual-focal length camera setup not unlike the iPhone 7 Plus. And while the camera setup still seems quite impressive based on the specs — dual 12MP 1.4-micron sensors with f/1.7 lenses — and company's claims, it's also a dramatically smaller package that let the rest of the ZenFone 3 Zoom round out as a "normal" smartphone.

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1 month ago

ZTE's insane, crowdsourced eye-tracking phone is called Hawkeye and is coming in September for $199

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ZTE is bringing its crowdsourced, crowdfunded Project CSX phone to market this September, and it's called Hawkeye.

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ZTE has announced that its long-awaited (by some) crowdsourced phone will go up for pre-order starting January 4 and will be delivered nine months later, in September, barring any unforeseen delays.

The device, born under ZTE's ambitious Project CSX, which stands for Crowd Source X, gleaned suggestions from people around the world, integration the two most viable into the finished product: eye-tracking navigation, and adhesive properties .

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1 month ago

ASUS ZenFone 3 Zoom joins the dual-camera train, adds a 5000 mAh battery for good measure

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ASUS heard cameras and batteries are a big deal right now.

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It's no surprise that two of the biggest things many people look for in a smartphone right now are camera quality and battery life. Photo quality has dramatically improved over the las two years, and manufacturers are trying new things to see what the most important next step is going to be.

In the process, many of these phones wind up in the 5-inch range with just enough battery to get you through a busy day. Sacrificing camera quality for battery life isn't fun, though, but if you look back at 2016 that's largely what happened.

ASUS seems to think they have the camera-focused phone with the least amount of compromise, and a big part of that experience is the 5000 mAh battery stuffed inside. Check out the new ZenFone 3 Zoom.

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1 month ago

Honor Magic hands-on: Huawei puts its design prowess on display

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Honor Magic

This hardware is exciting, and you aren't going to see it outside of China.

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Honor launched the sleek new Honor Magic in China just a few weeks ago, and though there are no plans for it to arrive in North America we had an opportunity to look at this really interesting phone at CES 2017.

The Magic is a completely separate device than the rest of the range of recent Honor releases, and that's immediately clear when you see it. The super-thin sculpted metal body with curved glass on both sides seems decidedly futuristic compared to its other designs. It initially gives the impression of a Galaxy S7 edge, but it's even more impressively thin and compact.

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1 month ago

Get an Eyeful of the New BlackBerry with MrMobile

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TCL has only kind of announced their new BlackBerry, as we don't have a name or any information about when and how it can be acquired, but we do have one thing: MrMobile's hands on preview. There's not a lot of information yet, but what we do have we're happy to share with you.

If you're like us and very interested in what the new BlackBerry has to offer, you'll want to check out this video. This short glimpse at what the future holds is sure to keep you engaged with the next step for BlackBerry.

Stay social, my friends

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1 month ago

Mercury gives us reasons to be hopeful about BlackBerry in 2017

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It's time to pay attention to BlackBerry — again.

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Talk about déjà vu: I just finished handling a pre-production version of the "Mercury" smartphone by BlackBerry. This thing is a definite blast from the past, though it doesn't feel antiquated. Instead, it feels like the next generation of BlackBerry — essentially what we had hoped the Priv would be all along.

One thing is for certain: TCL is committed to reviving the BlackBerry brand in North America. In addition to giving us a peek at what's on the horizon, the company's president offered a road map of how it plans to proceed in reviving the brand over the next few years. I left the meeting feeling particularly optimistic about BlackBerry's future — the first time in five years. Here's why you might want to start paying attention again.

The next phone is truly a BlackBerry

Although the Priv was an impressive attempt on BlackBerry's part to establish itself as an Android brand, it didn't feel like a BlackBerry precisely because it was trying to be something else entirely.

The Mercury feels like fan service to BlackBerry's history.

Conversely, the Mercury feels like fan service to BlackBerry's design language. Rather than bundle BlackBerry apps and services onto an Alcatel device — as was the case with the DTEK50 and DTEK60 — the Mercury is simply a BlackBerry in modern clothing.

Unfortunately, I didn't get much time with the software installed on the Mercury because it wasn't finalized. But BlackBerry is taking its Hub in a positive direction. And if it adds in a few software and app exclusives to pair with this modern take on its own design, it may just convince the old fans to come back.

Better carrier partnerships

Steve Cistulli, the president of TCL — which now operates BlackBerry's smartphone hardware business in addition to building devices under the Alcatel name — walked us through his plans for the brand over the next few years. He believes that what TCL needs to do first and foremost is re-stabilize BlackBerry's business. And to do so, it needs to re-establish its relationships with the North American carriers. "I think what [we did with] Alcatel is a testimony that we have the ability to put BlackBerry handsets in that upward direction," he said. "We need to make sure the carriers understand what the [BlackBerry plan] looks like in the future years."

Cistulli wouldn't say which of the carriers the company is courting, but he did mention that this year would be primarily focused on "creating a portfolio for 2019."

It's still a major enterprise player

There is an enterprise waiting to be rejuvenated.

BlackBerry's biggest selling point during its hey-day (and to be fair, this enterprise management business is still strong) was its ability to play particularly well with company policies. TCL plans to leverage that past by building on it for the future. "We intend to use all that we've had with Alcatel to make BlackBerry a true competitor to Apple and Samsung," said Cistulli. "If we can make an end solution in the industry that is best in class in all regards … and then take what we do so well and put that on top of it — which is the efficient creation, manufacturing, distribution, and after-market care of a device — then you have a true win-win situation. "

Plus, added Cistulli, since the enterprise refresh cycle is so much longer than the consumer cycle, there is already an "enterprise waiting to be rejuvenated."

With the Mercury, the BlackBerry brand definitely has a phone it can ride into 2017 with that could spark that rejuvenation.

More: Hands-on with the BlackBerry 'Mercury'

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1 month ago

BlackBerry 'Mercury' hands-on: Riding into 2017 on a phone with no name

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BlackBerry Mercury

The BlackBerry brand continues to get much-needed TLC from its new owner TCL.

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Under new direction, BlackBerry Mobile's smartphone business is poised for a relative revival. It's no big revelation to say that BlackBerry's market share and mind share are nowhere near what they were in its prime, but at CES 2017 BlackBerry is hoping to kickstart a new direction by announcing a new phone.

And even though the company won't actually tell us the specs, price, features, launch date or even the official name, many will recognize this smartphone as the rumored BlackBerry "Mercury." So in lieu of a proper name, that's what we're calling it. The Mercury is real, that much has been established now — it's a solid metal phone that fits the overall size mold of a modern slab smartphone, but manages to fit in a full hardware keyboard on the bottom without a Priv-like slider.

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1 month ago

BlackBerry announces the 'Mercury' without actually confirming anything, including its name

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BlackBerry Mercury

Every company takes to launching phones a bit differently.

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BlackBerry chose the massive CES trade show to make an official announcement of its long-rumored new Android smartphone with a hardware keyboard. But in a rather awkward situation, it's keeping many of the details associated with the phone a secret for a while longer.

So even though we're now seeing the phone, and know that it will be released to consumers relatively soon, we don't know its specs, price or new features. The funniest bit about the whole announcement is that BlackBerry isn't even revealing the name of the phone at this time — instead simply referring to it as "the phone everyone has been calling Mercury."

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1 month ago

What's in Alex's 2017 gear bag?

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Alex Gear bag

Find out what I pack when it's time to go places and do things!

I'm skipping CES this year, but that doesn't mean I'm staying put entirely. Throughout most of 2016 — and into the new year — I've been back and forth to events and product launches on the other side of the Atlantic.

And just like the rest of the AC team, when it's time to hit the road, I have my own preferred loadout of gear. Some of this stuff will be making way for newer, upgraded equipment in the run up to Mobile World Congress this February, but for the moment, here's what I'm using.

Behold, my gear bag, and the technology which lurks within.

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1 month ago

Honor 6X faces an uphill battle in India's competitive budget segment

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Honor wants a piece of the budget market in India.

Huawei sub-brand Honor unveiled the Honor 6X late last night at CES, and the handset will make its way to India before the end of the month. The phone will go up for sale in the fiercely-contested budget segment as Huawei looks to increase its presence in the country.

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1 month ago

New Android 7.1.1 builds bring Jan security patch to Pixel, Nexus devices

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New month means new Android 7.1.1 builds for Nexus and Pixel devices!

Google has released new Android 7.1.1 builds for the two Pixel models and several Nexus devices, including the Nexus 6P, 5X, 9, Player and Pixel C.

The new builds bring the requisite bug fixes that we all know and love, along with nearly 50 security updates bundled in the January 2017 (happy new year!) security patch. Pixel owners should look for Build NMF26U or NMF26V depending on the variant ("V" is for Verizon), while Nexus and Pixel C users can look for N4F26J or N4F26I.

As always, the updates are available in factory images or OTA updates, the latter of which can be easily sideloaded using ADB.

The January 2017 Security Bulletin details a number of vulnerabilities that have been patched, both within Android itself and from third-party vendors like Qualcomm and NVIDIA.

How to download and install Nougat on your Pixel or Nexus right now

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1 month ago

Honor 6X vs. Honor 5X vs. Honor 8: What's the difference?

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Honor 6X vs. Honor 8

A new budget offering takes a step up from the Honor 5X, but slots comfortably underneath the Honor 8.

Honor carved out a nice little niche for itself when it came to the U.S. officially with the Honor 5X, and then followed it up with a much higher-end device in the Honor 8. Now a full year on from the Honor 5X launch we have a proper successor, the Honor 6X. So how does the new Honor 6X compare to both its predecessor the 5X and the mid-range anchor the 8? Here's a quick breakdown.

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1 month ago

Honor 6X hands-on preview: Great hardware desperately waiting for a software update

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Honor is still attempting to make strides in the U.S., but is the 6X compelling enough?

You really have to hand it to Honor. Huawei's millennial-focused offshoot is still spitting out smartphones despite the relatively tepid reception of its previous two devices in the U.S. Remember, Honor has no carrier backing stateside, which puts it at a disadvantage compared to the rest of the brood. It's unlikely that the launch of the Honor 6X, the smartphone announced at this year's CES, will do much to move the needle either.

Regardless, that's not a reason to write it off. The Honor 6X is a compelling device, even though it's not as sparkly and showy as its flagship sibling, the Honor 8. Pricing has yet to be finalized, but what we've previewed of the Honor 6X is a fair reminder of what Huawei's capable of when it throws a device into the ring — and that's offering major bang for your buck. This midrange device may run on middle-of-the-road hardware, but it really does offer more than the average smartphone in its price point (sub-$250). Now, if it only the company had the marketing to get that point across.

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1 month ago

Honor 6X specs: Kirin 655 processor, 3GB RAM and 5.5-inch display

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The Honor 6X definitely isn't a powerhouse.

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As you'd expect for an inexpensive unlocked phone — starting at just $249 — the Honor 6X doesn't exactly push the envelope with its internal specs. Just like the Honor 5X that came before it you get a mix of newer mid-range chips and a few older components, which overall line up to get the job done but won't wow you.

That means you get a mid-range processor, just a 1080p display, Micro-USB for charging and no extra bells and whistles, but in exchange you get an ample 3GB of RAM and 32GB of storage, as well as a fingerprint sensor and a large 3340 mAh battery. Read on for the full list of Honor 6X specs.

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1 month ago

Will my phone get updated to Android 7.x Nougat?

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Jerry looks into his crystal ball and asks: Will your phone get an Android 7.x 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.x Nougat?

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