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1 month ago

Are all Androids created equal? Software makes a big difference

27

Software is the brains of your phone. And just like brain surgery, fixing it isn't easy.

We've talked about how the hardware inside your phone can make a difference when it comes to the user experience. Now it's time to talk about the software.

Software is the single-most important piece of any computer. Whether we're talking about the small computer you keep in your pocket or the room-sized clusters that do things like manage space missions, without software all of those circuits and wires and chips would do nothing. It even takes software to turn your phone on and start it up before you can see it doing anything. No matter how expensive or new the hardware inside your phone is, it would be useless without all the work that went into programming it to do something.

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1 month ago

Where to buy the Sony Xperia X Performance in the UK

0
Xperia X Performance

It's not easy or cheap, but it is possible to track down Sony's high-end Xperia X Performance in the UK.

As the Sony Xperia X Performance isn't getting a full launch in the UK, your options for getting hold of one are relatively limited. None of the major UK networks are picking up Sony's higher-specced variant of the Xperia X, and you'll find it much easier to track down a regular X than the X Performance. Nevertheless, if you've gotta have that faster CPU and water resistance, here are your options right now.

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1 month ago

Xiaomi sells over 110 million Redmi phones globally

7

Xiaomi launched its first Redmi phone in August 2013, and the manufacturer has sold 110 million handsets globally in just under three years. Global VP Hugo Barra shared the details via a tweet, stating that a majority of Redmi users are aged between 22 to 29 years.

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1 month ago

Android Pay coming to TSB in late 2016

11
Android Pay

Q4 launch for Android Pay confirmed by TSB on Twitter.

Despite the UK-wide rollout of Android Pay in May, some major British high street banks still aren't signed up to the mobile payments service. Among those is TSB, and while the bank has made clear its intentions to support Android Pay at some point in the future, there've been no further details offered until now.

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1 month ago

These are the top ASUS phones you need to know

47

This is the best that ASUS has to offer.

While ASUS has been making phones for years, it wasn't until the ZenFone 2 that the company was recognized internationally for its good work. Now that we're nearly two years out from that device, ASUS has even more great stuff on the horizon.

Though some models are region-specific, they all have signature ASUS quirks. So which one do you choose? We've done the hard work for you; this is the current list of the best ASUS phones you need to know about.

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1 month ago

Check to see if you're covered by the Project Fi network

60

Networks, when you think about it, come down to one thing: coverage.

If you're not covered where you live, work and travel ... well, nothing else matters. But in partnering with three U.S. carriers — Sprint, T-Mobile and U.S. Cellular — Google's Project Fi definitely has an interesting advantage. (And remember you also have calling available over Wi-Fi when you need it.)

But the question stands: Will you have Project Fi coverage where you live? And, of course, there's a handy map for that.

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1 month ago

HTC Desire 10 could emerge as next mid-range flagship

14

New standard-bearer for mid-range tipped to launch "end of Q3."

Since HTC unveiled a trio of largely forgettable Desire phones back at Mobile World Congress, there's not been much to get excited about from the company's mid-range brand. But that may be about to change, with early rumors suggesting an "HTC Desire 10" is coming.

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1 month ago

Today's your last chance to grab a OnePlus 3 before the UK price hike

40

New higher price kicks in July 11 following pound's plunge in value.

If you're on the fence about splurging on a OnePlus 3, now would be a good time to make up your mind. As previously announced, from Monday July 11 the UK price will rise to £329. That's due to the falling value of the British pound following the country's recent vote to leave the European Union. Prices in other regions are not affected, nor are OnePlus's other phones and accessories.

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1 month ago

The best heavy-duty data plans in the UK

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UK SIMs

The biggest bundles for the data-hungry.

In the relatively short time since the first 4G networks launched in the UK, the way we use our phones has changed drastically. Faster networks make it easier to view rich websites, watch videos and stream music, which in turn means you can burn through a few gigabytes of data in no time.

That's why the major UK networks are offering bigger and bigger data bundles, with buckets in excess of 20GB becoming increasingly common. But it's not always easy to track down all the details, which is why we've done the legwork for you.

Let's take a look.

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1 month ago

Where to buy the Sony Xperia X, X Performance, XA and XA Ultra in the U.S.

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Sony Xperia X Performance

The latest round of Sony phones are available in the U.S. — and they can get pricey.

The new Xperia X series covers a broad range of prices, and the only way you're going to get one is buying unlocked away from your carrier. Thankfully Sony has made the proper deals with several different retailers to have all four models — the X, X Performance, XA and XA Ultra — available in a wide variety of colors so you can have your pick from all of the options.

Here's where you can buy the Xperia X series of phones in the U.S. unlocked.

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1 month ago

Sprint kills off 'Galaxy Forever' upgrade program for Galaxy S7 edge

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Sprint has quietly killed of its "Galaxy Forever" leasing option for the Samsung Galaxy S7 edge.

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1 month ago

The Galaxy S7 Active failed Consumer Reports' water test, twice

270

The Galaxy S7 Active is supposed to be able to withstand up to a half hour in water about 5 feet deep. It failed Consumer Reports' test. Twice. Here's what that means.

Nothing. That's what it means to me that the Samsung Galaxy S7 Active twice failed Consumer Reports' water immersion test. While that will come across as apologetic, it's simply the case. It matters not to me that Consumer Reports is a longstanding independent publication with the public's interest in mind. It matters not to me that it killed not one, but two phones.

Here's the gist:

Consumer Reports technicians placed a Galaxy S7 Active in a water tank pressurized to 2.12 pounds-per-square-inch, the equivalent of just under five feet of water, and set a timer for 30 minutes. When we removed the phone, the screen was obscured by green lines, and tiny bubbles were visible in the lenses of the front- and rear-facing cameras. The touchscreen wasn't responsive.

Following our standard procedure when a sample fails an immersion test, we submitted a second Galaxy S7 Active to the same test. That phone failed as well. After we removed it from the tank, the screen cycled on and off every few seconds, and moisture could be seen in the front and back camera lenses. We also noticed water in the slot holding the SIM card.

For a couple of days following the test, the screens of both phones would light up when the phones were plugged in, though the displays could not be read. The phones never returned to functionality.

That's obviously not good. But two phones does not a proper sample size make. And there's simply not enough information in CR's blog post to determine that there's some sort of manufacturing issue (which would be my guess, so long as we're making assumptions) or, worse, a design issue. Where did the phones come from? Were they manufactured and assembled at the same time, at the same facility? Why stop at two? Were all the other instructions followed?

As long as we're here, though, let's take another look at the legalese that we never bother to read when opening up our phones.

From Page i (which comes before Page 1) of the Galaxy S7 Active manual (pdf):

Note: Water-resistant and dustproof based on IP68 rating, which tests submersion up to 5.0 feet for up to 30 minutes.

Fair enough.

From Page 5:

Despite this classification, your device is not impervious to water damage in any situation. It is important that all compartments are closed tightly.

That's an important (and unfortunately necessary) piece of legalese that's not unique to the GS7 Active. This "waterproof" phone isn't necessarily waterproof. There are other caveats as well, such as exposing it to salt water or ionized water.

That certainly flies in the face of the perceived intent of the Galaxy S7 Active. Why have an underwater camera mode if you might kill the phone by taking it underwater, right? Why show it being used underwater? Why advertise it? Why have a water-resistant phone that might die if you use it in water?

Those are real questions to be asked. And real concerns when buying this phone. And, in fact, they're questions we asked in our testing of the GS7 Active.

From our Galaxy S7 Active review:

Our biggest concern has to do with where the glass meets the body. We got a good bit of sand lodged in there, and that worries us when it comes to future water resistance. There also were a few grains of sand around the physical buttons.

We also had a few instances after getting the phone wet in which the power button was misbehaving. But after thoroughly drying the phone, all is well. (That sort of thing isn't uncommon for IP68 devices, actually. And to be fair, skipping a phone across a tide pool isn't exactly intended use.)

You shouldn't actively torture the Galaxy S7 Active. That's a quick way to have something bad happen to your phone. But we have pretty good amount of confidence that this phone will stand up to anything stupid that someone might do to it. Basic falls and such. Quick dunks in water.

In any event, what we saw in our one phone is just that. What we saw in our single phone. And if we were to test a second phone, the results would be just that — the results from a second phone. Even if we were to test the exact same way both times, it still wouldn't be statistically significant, or even really scientific.

If a proper sample of Samsung Galaxy S7 Actives don't survive at the upper (or lower) end of the IP68 rating, then that's a bigger issue. But two tests just isn't enough to make that claim. At least not with any certainty.

Samsung Galaxy S7 Active

AT&T

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1 month ago

Check out the Alcatel Dawn at Boost Mobile and Virgin Mobile for $69

11

Boost Mobile and Virgin Mobile have introduced a new budget phone from Alcatel, the Dawn. The 4G LTE phone runs Android 6.0 Marshmallow and is available for $69.99 without a contract.

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1 month ago

Galaxy S7, S7 edge now receiving July 1 security patch from T-Mobile

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T-Mobile is now pushing the July 1 security update to both the Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 edge. This time around, Google is offering two security patches, one dated July 1 and one dated July 5 which included a few extra things. While it would be nice to see Samsung pushing the July 5 update, it is still great to see the patches pushing out so quickly.

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1 month ago

OnePlus 3 update resumes after minor delay

25

After a minor incident with the initial rollout of its first major over-the-air update, OnePlus has resumed the OxygenOS firmware for the OnePlus 3. The company noted that some people were having installation issues with OxygenOS 3.2.0, which was released on Tuesday, so it ceased the distribution in order to make the requisite fixes.

Now that those problems have been overcome, the company says it was able to find some "additional improvements," which it has included and bundled with the original features, and has released the whole as OxygenOS 3.2.1. Says OnePlus:

Rather than continuing that rollout, we're skipping right ahead to 3.2.1. If you've already updated to 3.2.0, this update includes some additional improvements. If you haven't, don't worry. This update includes all of the 3.2.0 improvements as well.

The changes include:

  • Fixed some notification issues (new in 3.2.1)
  • Addressed SIM recognition issue (new in 3.2.1)
  • Enabled sRGB mode in developer options.
  • Improved RAM management.
  • Improved GPS performance.
  • Enhanced audio playback quality.
  • Updated custom icon packs.
  • Improved camera quality/functionality.
  • Fixed some issues in Gallery.
  • Implemented latest Google security patches.
  • Fixed bugs in Clock/Music apps.

OnePlus says that the update, like the last one, is rolling out in stages, and may take a couple of days to hit every OnePlus 3 unit. If you've received it, let us know in the comments how it's working out for you!

OnePlus 3

OnePlus

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