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1 month ago

Daily Briefing: LG tries to fix what's broken, and Samsung goes all-in on AI

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This was the best Friday since last Friday. Here's what you need to know for October 28, 2016.

I was on a plane today and saw someone in the waiting area with a Galaxy Note 7. I facetiously tweeted out that I could either ignore the problem and hope for the best or tackle him and remove his phone forcefully. In fact, I did neither: I let the flight attendant know that I thought I saw someone using a Note 7, but by then I had lost him in the crowd, and they said they'd be making an announcement.

Airport waiting areas are really interesting for a number of reasons. It's a concentrated area full of diversity, people anxious to return home or begin their adventures. It's also full of technology. These days, I keep a look out for the phones people are using, and the equipment they use to stay connected. Tablets, even iPads, appear to be less common than they were a couple of years ago as smartphone sizes have grown. I see a lot of Galaxy S6s and 7s, a lot of iPhones and, in the U.S., quite a few Droids. I still even see some BlackBerrys in business class.

These pocket computers have taken over our lives. Have you welcomed your new phone overlord, lately?

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1 month ago

Google Pixel: A real-world review, one week later

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What do the Android Central editors think of the Google Pixel after a week?

Google's Pixel phones have been out for just over a week now, and some of us have had them for far longer. We've written three reviews and ten times the number of editorials, and yet there's more to say about these amazing devices — so we convened a roundtable to do just that.

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1 month ago

Best Android Phone Under $700

Want to ensure you're wielding the best around for your budget? Google's Pixel is the best phone under $700, when you factor in performance, size, camera quality, and battery life.

Best Overall

Google Pixel

google pixel

See at Verizon See at Google Store

I have good news for those of you ruing the day that the first phablet was ever announced. Google's Pixel smartphone is a mere 5 inches, so those of you with smaller hands and diminutive pockets can rest easy knowing that there is flagship-level, feature-packed Android phone out there that doesn't take up so much room.

The Pixel is impressive on the inside, too. It's got the latest Snapdragon 821 processor and 4GB of RAM. You can purchase it with up to 128GB of storage, though if you decide to stick to the alternative 32GB option, Google will still offer unlimited Photo uploads for your pictures. The Pixel also boasts impressive camera performance that nearly bests the Samsung Galaxy S7's and its 2770mah battery is capable of lasting you through an entire day.

Bottom line: If you're looking for the smartphone that best represents Google's Android, go Pixel.

One more thing: You can purchase device protection insurance for your Pixel. It covers accidental damage from a drop or water ingress, as well as any general malfunctions for two years.

Why the Google Pixel is the best

It's everything Google could want in a smartphone.

The Pixel is unlike any smartphone that Google's collaborated on before. Lest you forget, the company doesn't actually manufacture its own smartphones. For this particular launch, Google enlisted the help of HTC, a company that's produced many a major Android hit though its financial health is still a bit weary. Regardless, there is nothing remotely HTC-y about the Pixel, unless you count its curved chassis and iPhone-like looks as a nod to the mid-range One A9.

Our Daniel Bader summed it up succinctly in his review of the smaller Pixel:

This is a well-made phone that performs its function as a mobile computer better than any Android phone currently available, and potentially better than any phone, period.

The Pixel isn't entirely defined by its chassis or its specifications, anyway. Google's more focused on advertising the fact that this device will grant you access to its all-powerful, all-knowing Assistant. If you like Google Now or were interested in the AI abilities of Allo, your ears might perk up at the mention of this particular feature. It still feels a bit "beta" in its implementation, but over time the feature is likely to get better as Google pumps more resources into it. And hey, it already has IFTTT integration.

The end of the Nexus era is a bittersweet one for many of us, but if you're aching to use Android just as Google meant it to be used, the Pixel is the way to go.

Best Second-choice

Samsung Galaxy S7

Samsung Galaxy S7

See at AT&T See at Sprint See at T-Mobile See at Verizon See at Amazon

The Galaxy S7 is the best version of Samsung's flagship yet. It's equipped with a powerful Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 processor, 4GB of RAM, and a 3,000mAh battery pack. Its 12-megapixel rear-facing Dual Pixel camera is particularly impressive, and you'll appreciate its performance in low light.

Of course, as is the case with most versions of Android that aren't directly developed by Google, Samsung's version of Android is polarizing. The newly dubbed Grace UI offers some helpful features, but the extra software that comes bundled is redundant. At the very least, you can disable and hide any apps you don't care for.

Bottom line: If you're buying a flagship from anyone but Google, get the one that's the best around. That's the Samsung Galaxy S7.

One more thing: If the GS7's 5.1-inch display is too small for your liking, consider the Galaxy S7 Edge for its bigger screen and curved edges. The S7 Active is also a viable choice if you're a rugged outdoor person and an AT&T subscriber. And of course, Samsung offers an unlocked model that also works overseas.

Best "It's not Samsung"

HTC 10

See at Sprint See at Verizon See at Amazon

Give HTC a chance, won't you? The fashionable HTC 10 features an aluminum unibody chassis and a 5.2-inch Quad HD display. It's equipped with a high performing Snapdragon 820 processor, 4GB of RAM, a 12-megapixel rear-facing UltraPixel 2 camera, as well as a 5-megapixel front-facing camera with OIS. The HTC 10 also offers BoomSound Hi-Fi, which the company worked on in conjunction with Dolby, and there's an amp built in to the headphone jack. You might even like HTC's modern take on stock Android.

Bottom line: The HTC 10 is a great flagship alternative for anyone looking for stylish performance from a longtime Android player.

One more thing: The HTC 10 does not have water resistance like Samsung's devices, but HTC does offer Uh Oh Protection, which covers broken screens, water damage, and even switching carriers.

Best for customizing

Moto Z

See at Motorola See at Verizon

It's always fun with a manufacturer tries something different. Motorola's trying out the modular smartphone thing with its Moto Z flagship. This svelte smartphone is an absolute sight to see: It's one of the prettiest phones on the market and is incredibly thin. Inside, it boasts a Snapdragon 820 processor, 4GB of RAM, and a 2600mAh battery. It also has a 13-megapixel rear-facing camera.

If you're aching for features like more battery life or true-to-form optical zoom, you can invest in any of the Moto Z's modular accessories. For instance, there's a variety of power packs you can purchase for extra battery life, or you can buy the Hasselblad True Zoom for better smartphone photography.

Bottom line: The Moto Z is a worthy considering for anyone who wants a razor thin smartphone—or who believes modularity is the future of mobile devices.

One more thing: You can choose between the Moto Z Force if you're a Verizon subscriber and you're looking for a better camera sensor and a bigger battery, or the mid-range Moto Z Play if you're looking for something a little cheaper and a bit more basic. Both phones are compatible with Motorola's Moto Mods accessories.

Conclusion

We don't where Google's Pixel will rank six months from now, but we know that right now it is the best. It's not crowded with redundant applications like a Samsung device, nor does it come with extra gags you'll have to ignore. The Pixel is the smartphone that Google made and it's fit for both Android enthustiasts and newcomers.

Best Overall

Google Pixel

google pixel

See at Verizon See at Google Store

I have good news for those of you ruing the day that the first phablet was ever announced. Google's Pixel smartphone is a mere 5-inches, so those of you with smaller hands and small pockets can rest easy knowing that there is flagship-level, feature-packed Android phone out there that doesn't take up so much room.

The Pixel is impressive on the inside, too. It's got the latest Snapdragon 821 processor and 4GB of RAM. You can purchase it with up to 128GB of storage, though if you decide to stick to the alternative 32GB option, Google will still offer unlimited Photo uploads for your pictures. The Pixel also boasts impressive camera performance that nearly rivals the Samsung Galaxy S7's and its 2770mah battery is capable of lasting you through an entire day.

Bottom line: If you're looking for the smartphone that best represents Google's Android, go Pixel.

One more thing: You can purchase device protection insurance for your Pixel. It covers accidental damage from a drop or water ingress, as well as any general malfunctions for two years.

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1 month ago

Where to buy the LG V20 in Canada

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Where can I buy the LG V20 in Canada?

The LG V20 isn't widely available in Canada, but you will still be able to find it in almost every province, on two carriers.

While the phone won't be available at the Big Three carriers, it is at regional providers Wind Mobile and Videotron. The former operates in Ontario, British Columbia and Alberta, while Videotron has an extensive network in Quebec.

More: LG V20 specs

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1 month ago

Galaxy S8 to feature a slick design, improved camera, and an enhanced AI service

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The Note 7 debacle has hurt Samsung's bottom line this quarter, with the company expected to lose a total of $5 billion over the recall and eventual discontinuation of sales. The South Korean manufacturer is looking to turn things around early next year with the launch of the Galaxy S8, and according to The Wall Street Journal, it plans to do that by incorporating a "slick design and an improved camera, as well as an enhanced artificial-intelligence service."

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1 month ago

Google Assistant just got a whole lot smarter with IFTTT integration

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If you're an early adopter of the Pixel disappointed that one of its touchstone features, the Assistant, isn't quite as smart as Google led you to believe, we have a solution of sorts.

Today, Google added itself to IFTTT's (If This Then That) extensive database of integrations, allowing users to create and execute "recipes" through the Assistant itself.

For the uninitiated, IFTTT is a tool that allows disparate services to talk to one another. While Assistant will eventually work natively with many services, from Spotify to Philips Hue, right now the integrations are limited. IFTTT fills in those gaps by allowing you to use one input (in this case, Google Assistant) to execute an action (say, turning on your Philips Hue light bulbs).

Most of the early recipes are rudimentary but fun

Most of the early recipes are rudimentary but fun, like posting to Twitter or Facebook using your voice, or changing the color of your LIFX lightbulb. With time, though — and a bit of ingenuity — the recipes should become a lot more useful.

As Alex Dobie said in his Pixel review, "The reality is that Assistant is, at the time of writing, very much a version 1.0 product." IFTTT integration does doesn't get it to 2.0, but maybe to 1.2, which is a nice step in the right direction.

Google Pixel + Pixel XL

Google Store Verizon

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1 month ago

Samsung Pay to launch in Canada first week of November

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Samsung Pay may launch in Canada in the coming days, according to a customer support screenshot shared with Android Central.

Updated October 27 with a response from Samsung Canada.

Twitter user Saifali Maknojiya reportedly posed a question to a Samsung customer service representative through its built-in app and received a response that Samsung Pay, the company's competitor to Android Pay and Apple Pay, would launch in Canada in the first week of November.

According to the representative, the service will first launch with CIBC Visa cards, which would not be surprising considering the bank's willingness to experiment with new mobile payment partners. CIBC was the first Canadian bank to launch NFC-based mobile payments back in 2011 in partnership with Rogers. It's unclear when the service will expand to other banks and payment providers like MasterCard and AMEX.

Samsung confirmed earlier this year that Samsung Pay would come to Canada in 2016, so this timeframe does match up with those claims. Samsung Canada says that "Earlier this year, Samsung Canada confirmed Samsung Pay will be available in Canada in 2016. We remain committed to this plan and will share more details shortly."

More: What Samsung Pay means for Canadians

Unlike Android Pay, Samsung Pay combines NFC-based mobile payments with a Samsung-owned technology called MST that mimics the traditional magnetic stripe on the back of all credit cards. Because Canada's payments ecosystem has long moved beyond magnetic stripes, opting for the more-secure EMV-based combination of chip-and-pin, Samsung has seen Canada as a less important market for Samsung Pay than less advanced markets like the U.S. The service launched in Russia, Thailand and Malaysia this week, and already works in the U.S., UK, Australia, Singapore, Puerto Rico, Brazil, Spain, China and its home country of South Korea.

Samsung Pay currently works with Galaxy S7 edge, Galaxy S7, Galaxy S6 edge+, Galaxy Note 5, Galaxy S6 edge, Galaxy S6 active, Galaxy S6, and Gear S2.

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1 month ago

Best Android Phone Under $900

Getting the best sometimes costs a lot. If you're looking for the most premium phone out there, go Google. The new Pixel XL is a fantastic daily driver.

Best Overall

Google Pixel XL

See at Verizon See at Google Store

It's here. It's finally here. Google's vision for Android has been embodied in two forms and the Pixel XL is the larger of the two. This 5.5-inch device features a vibrant Quad HD display and a 12-megapixel rear-facing camera that gives even Samsung's devices a run for their money. The Pixel XL also boasts an 8-megapixel front-facing camera.

It runs on a Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 processor and 4GB of RAM, too, and its 3450mAh battery will get you through the day, especially with Android 7.1 Nougat's revamped Doze mode. The Pixel XL is available with 32GB or 128GB of onboard storage, though Google is offering unlimited uploads to Photos for every picture you snap with your new Pixel device.

Bottom line: The Pixel XL is the best smartphone under $900, especially if you're a die-hard Android user and you want nothing to do with third-party manufacturers.

One more thing: You can purchase device protection insurance for your Pixel XL. It covers accidental damage from a drop or water ingress, as well as any general malfunctions for two years.

Why the Pixel XL is the best

This is Google in an Android phone.

The Pixel XL is unlike its previous Nexus brethren. This is Google's first premium flagship device that's truly worthy of competing alongside the rest of the competition, particularly with its camera hardware. Here's how Executive Editor, Alex Dobie, describes the camera performance in his review of the device:

For the first time, Google has a camera that can stand proudly alongside the Galaxy S7 and iPhone 7. I was skeptical about the lack of OIS, but between the upgraded sensor, the beefier CPU and ISP (image signal processor) and some welcome software tweaks, Google has a highly impressive camera setup. Captures are quick, there's plenty of fine detail in a wide variety of lighting conditions, and Google's Auto-HDR+ trickery produces photos with excellent dynamic range in situations where many rivals stumble. Colors are punchy, but not excessively saturated. And even in challenging lighting conditions, such as dark restaurants at night, a good amount of fine detail and color detail is preserved.

Google's Pixel phone is more than just fancy hardware, however. It's also the first Android phone to come with Google Assistant, which may sound familiar if you've dabbled with Allo. Assistant is ostensibly the Pixel's resident AI and it does more than read your email and tell you when your next flight is. You can actually interact with it as you need for an almost fully hands-free smartphone experience. Google's positioning its Assistant as one of the Pixel's major selling points.

Google recognized that in order to compete in the global smartphone wars, it had to push out a premium device that was worthy of a premium price. The Pixel XL is certainly it. It's bigger than most of the flagships on the market, and it's even better in some cases. Not only does it run Android 7.1, but Google has guaranteed two years of software updates, as well as additional security updates until October 2019.

Best Samsung phone

Samsung Galaxy S7 edge

See at AT&T See at Verizon See at Sprint See at T-mobile

With the cancellation of the Galaxy Note 7, the Galaxy S7 edge rises back to the top as the best smartphone in the sub-$900 category. Inside, it's running the same outstanding specs as the rest of the 2016 Galaxy family, but on the outside it sports a dual-edge curved metal-and-glass chassis and a 5.5-inch Super AMOLED display that's big and bright. It also offers a larger battery than the Galaxy S7, so you'll get more usage from it throughout your day.

Bottom line: The Galaxy S7 edge is the best choice now that the Note 7 is off the market.

One more thing: The AT&T exclusive Galaxy S7 Active is another worthy consideration if you're in the market for something more durable.

Best feature-packed

LG V20

See at AT&T See at Verizon See at Sprint See at T-Mobile

With its impressive specifications, the LG V20 could have been the South Korean company's flagship of the year, but alas. This particular device is typically marketed towards content creators and followers of the Joseph Gordon Levitt Movement — whatever that is — but anyone can consider it, especially if you're crazy about cameras.

The LG V20 is packed to the brim with camera features, including dual 16-megapixel and 8-megapixel rear-facing cameras, and a 5-megapixel front-facing camera with a beauty mode that smooths out your face. Additionally, it sports a 5.7-inch Quad HD display, Snapdragon 820, 4GB of RAM, a microSD expansion slot, and Android 7.0 Nougat right out of the box. Also, while the V20's 3200mAh battery may seem small compared to the competition, it can manage an entire day of sporadic emailing, Tweeting, syncing, and listening to music.

Bottom line: The LG V20 is a worthy buy, especially if you're looking for a feature-filled Android smartphone with brag-worthy specifications.

One more thing: The V20 is one of the few smartphones available with a removable battery pack.

Conclusion

It's nearing the end of the year, but it'll be a defining one for Google and its revamped line of smartphones. The Pixel XL is one of the best smartphones you can buy right now, especially if you're attracted to the idea of having a very powerful personal assistant in your pocket.

Best Overall

Google Pixel XL

See at Verizon See at Google Store

It's here. It's finally here. Google's vision for Android has been embodied in two forms and the Pixel XL is the larger of the two. This 5.5-inch device features a vibrant Quad HD display and a 12-megapixel rear-facing camera that gives even Samsung's devices a run for their money. The Pixel XL also boasts an 8-megapixel front-facing camera.

It runs on a Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 processor and 4GB of RAM, too, and its 3450mAh battery will get you through the day, especially with Android 7.1 Nougat's revamped Doze mode. The Pixel XL is available with 32GB or 128GB of onboard storage, though Google is offering unlimited uploads to Photos for every picture you snap with your new Pixel device.

Bottom line: The Pixel XL is the best smartphone under $900, especially if you're a die-hard Android user and you want nothing to do with third-party manufacturers.

One more thing: You can purchase device protection insurance for your Pixel XL. It covers accidental damage from a drop or water ingress, as well as any general malfunctions for two years.

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1 month ago

Where to buy the LG V20 in the U.S.

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Where to buy the LG V20 in the U.S.

The LG V20 is coming to carriers in the U.S. — here are all the details.

After seeing the V10 come to AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile in the U.S. last year, LG has worked with more carriers this time around with the V20. At the same time, it added B&H and Best Buy to the list of retailers that will be selling the phone as well. Together with the design and features of the V20 that are more widely appealing, it's important that the phone is also more widely available.

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1 month ago

Moto M with metal body and Snapdragon 625 leaks

85

It looks like Lenovo is readying a new budget Moto M series that will co-exist alongside the Moto G and the entry-level Moto E lineup. Dubbed the Moto M, the phone features a metal body and is rumored to offer a Snapdragon 625 SoC, up to 4GB of RAM, 64GB storage, microSD slot, and a massive 5100mAh battery.

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1 month ago

T-Mobile will give you 50% back on your Google Pixel purchase

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T-Mobile is back with a new offer for Google Pixel owners who are looking to bring their unlocked phone over to its network. If you purchase an unlocked Pixel and bring it to T-Mobile and sign up for a T-Mobile One plan, you can get 50% of the purchase price back. That's right, T-Mobile is offering to pay you (through monthly bill credits) to bring your new phone over to its network. Whether you purchased your Pixel through Google or another retailer, all you'll have to do is validate your purchase online.

From T-Mobile's announcement:

To take advantage of this limited time offer, purchase an unlocked Pixel from Google or anywhere else, sign up for T-Mobile ONE, then just show us your proof of purchase via our validation site. You'll automatically see a $13.55 credit to your monthly bill for 24 months (for a grand total of $325, or half the cost of a 32GB Pixel).

If you've been thinking of picking up a Google Pixel to use on T-Mobile but couldn't justify the cost, this may make that purchase even easier for you. You will receive the credit over the course of 24 months with a bill credit, which is less than ideal compared to a one-time credit for the amount, but still better than nothing. If you've been delaying your purchase of the Google Pixel, is this deal good enough to make you pick one up now? Let us know what you think in the comments!

Google Pixel + Pixel XL

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img { width: 100%; height: auto; } .devicebox ul { display: table; margin: 0 0 10px; width: 100%; } .devicebox ul li { background: #f7f7f7; margin: 2px 0; padding: 4px 15px; } .devicebox ul li:hover { background: #fff; } .devicebox ul li:before { display: none; } .devicebox p ~ p { line-height: 1.25; } .devicebox p:first-of-type + p { padding: 15px; } .devicebox a.buy-link { border-radius: 5px; display: inline-block; font: 14px/31px "Proxima Nova Extrabld",Helvetica,Arial,sans-serif; text-align: center; } .devicebox a.buy-link, .devicebox a.buy-link:link, .devicebox a.buy-link:active, .devicebox a.buy-link:visited { background: #37B5D7; color: #FFF; } .devicebox a.buy-link:hover { background: #2694B2; text-decoration: none; } .devicebox a.buy-link:before { content: "\e61e"; font: 40px/0 "ac_iconset" !important; margin: 0 3px 0 -8px; vertical-align: middle; } @media all and (min-width: 1025px), all and (max-width: 800px) and (min-width: 660px) { /* div:not(.columns-3) excludes help menu content */ .article-body-wrap > div:not(.columns-3) > *:first-child:not(.sticky-wrapper) .devicebox { padding: 20px 0 25px; } .article-body-wrap > div:not(.columns-3) > *:first-child:not(.sticky-wrapper) .devicebox .video { float: left; margin: 0 30px 0 0; width: calc(100% - 375px); } .article-body-wrap > div:not(.columns-3) > *:first-child:not(.sticky-wrapper) .devicebox h3 + p { bottom: 37px; display: block; overflow: hidden; position: absolute; top: 60px; width: calc(100% - 375px); } .article-body-wrap > div:not(.columns-3) > *:first-child:not(.sticky-wrapper) .devicebox p img, .article-body-wrap > div:not(.columns-3) > *:first-child:not(.sticky-wrapper) .devicebox p > img { position: absolute; top: 50%; transform: translateY(-50%); } .article-body-wrap > div:not(.columns-3) > *:first-child:not(.sticky-wrapper) .devicebox p:nth-child(n+3), .article-body-wrap > div:not(.columns-3) > *:first-child:not(.sticky-wrapper) .devicebox ul { box-sizing: border-box; margin-left: calc(100% - 345px); width: 340px; } .article-body-wrap > div:not(.columns-3) > *:first-child:not(.sticky-wrapper) .devicebox p.list-head { margin-top: -5px; } } @media all and (max-width: 1024px) and (min-width: 801px), all and (max-width: 660px) { .devicebox h3 { text-align: center; } .devicebox ul, .devicebox p { display: block; } } @media all and (max-width: 800px) and (min-width: 660px) { .devicebox { padding: 20px 0 25px; } .devicebox .video { float: left; margin: 0 30px 0 0; width: calc(100% - 375px); } .devicebox h3 + p { bottom: 37px; display: block; overflow: hidden; position: absolute; top: 60px; width: calc(100% - 375px); } .devicebox p img, .devicebox p > img { position: absolute; top: 50%; transform: translateY(-50%); } .devicebox p:nth-child(n+3), .devicebox ul { box-sizing: border-box; margin-left: calc(100% - 345px); width: 340px; } .devicebox p.list-head { margin-top: -5px; } } @media all and (min-width: 1025px), all and (max-width: 800px) and (min-width: 661px), all and (max-width: 500px) { /* 2x buy buttons */ .devicebox a.buy-link { width: calc(50% - 2.5px); margin: 0 5px 5px 0; } .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-of-type(even) { margin: 0 0 5px 0; } .devicebox a.buy-link:last-of-type:nth-of-type(odd) { width: 100%; } } @media all and (max-width: 1024px) and (min-width: 801px), all and (max-width: 659px) and (min-width: 501px) { /* 3x buy buttons */ .devicebox a.buy-link { width: calc(100%/3 - 10px/3); margin: 0 5px 5px 0; } .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-of-type(3n):not(:nth-last-of-type(2)) { margin: 0 0 5px 0; } .devicebox a.buy-link:only-child { width: 100%; margin: 0 0 5px 0; } .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-last-of-type(2):nth-of-type(3n+1), .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-last-of-type(2):nth-of-type(3n+1) ~ a.buy-link, .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-last-of-type(4):nth-of-type(3n+1), .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-last-of-type(4):nth-of-type(3n+1) ~ a.buy-link { width: calc(50% - 2.5px); } .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-last-of-type(2):nth-of-type(3n+1) ~ a.buy-link, .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-last-of-type(4):nth-of-type(3n+1) ~ a.buy-link:nth-last-of-type(odd) { margin: 0 0 5px 0; } } @media all and (max-width: 800px) { .devicebox { margin: 0 0 30px; max-width: none; width: auto; } } @media all and (max-width: 500px) { .devicebox { margin: 0 0 30px; max-width: none; width: auto; } .devicebox a.buy-link:before { display: none; } } .page-admin .devicebox {max-width: 350px;} .page-admin .devicebox .video_iframe {position: relative; height: 0; padding-bottom: 56.9%;} .page-admin .devicebox .video_iframe iframe {width: 100%; height: 100%; position: absolute;} /*-->*/ /*-->*/ /*-->*/

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1 month ago

Daily Briefing: If Microsoft is now Apple, what is Google?

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All the news you need for this busy Wednesday, October 26.

Microsoft held its annual hardware event today, and I have to say, the company delivered. Not only did it impress with the cross-platform potential of manipulating real 3D objects on a 2D plane using specialized phone apps (and 3D objects on a 3D plane using affordable Windows-powered VR headsets), but it injected life into a tired category with the Surface Studio.

Our friends at Windows Central have the whole story, but I think Google's renewed focus on building hardware and releasing products under its own name — Chromecast, Pixel, Home, Wifi — makes a lot more sense when you see the year-on-year improvements in quality and confidence from a company like Microsoft. The Surface was kind of mocked when it debuted in 2012 — no one is doing that anymore.

And with Apple's own fall hardware event tomorrow, where the tech giant is expected to show off a newly-designed MacBook Pro, it's clear that as focused on software, AI, machine learning and, above all, search, as Google is, hardware is a huge opportunity for the company.

And now, today's big news stories.

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1 month ago

Xiaomi won't launch the Mi Note 2 and Mi Mix outside China, and there's a good reason for that

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Xiaomi's latest and greatest won't be making their way to global markets.

Xiaomi announced the Mi Note 2 and the bezel-less Mi Mix at an extravagant launch event in China. The Mi Note 2 is the successor to last year's Mi Note and offers high-end internals in the form of a 5.7-inch QHD dual curved display, 2.35GHz Snapdragon 821, up to 6GB of RAM, 128GB storage, 22.56MP rear camera, 8MP front shooter, and a 4070mAh battery.

The Mi Note 2 looks impressive, especially when you consider the fact that the high-end model with 6GB of RAM and 128 gigs of storage retails for the equivalent of $515. The Mi Mix surpasses all of that with its edgeless display, with the phone boasting a 91.3% screen-to-body ratio.

Xiaomi had to innovate in several areas to cram a 6.4-inch screen in a chassis that's not larger than an average 5.7-inch phone. In doing so, it switched out the proximity sensor with an ultrasonic distance sensor, moved the front camera sensor to the bottom of the screen, and used a piezoelectric ceramic driver in lieu of the earpiece. What initially started out as a concept turned into a functioning product, and Xiaomi is set to kick off sales of the Mi Mix in China for what amounts to $590.

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1 month ago

No lasting damage: Samsung users stay loyal after Note 7 recall [Infographic]

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How did Samsung handle the Note 7 recall? Pretty darn well, according to you.

Earlier this month, Android Central asked you, our readers, to take a survey about how Samsung's Galaxy Note 7 recall affected you and your perception of the company and its products. The response was impressive, with over 8,300 people taking part in the survey.

The results were also surprising. Of course, Android Central has a very specific audience, one that hews closely to the idea of the "enthusiast" phone user, but even with that selection bias, the data was interesting for a number of reasons. Most of the respondents were also based in North America, which further influenced the carrier-oriented results of the survey. Still, there's a lot to learn here.

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1 month ago

Daily Briefing: The Pixel is too popular for its own good

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Tuesday, October 25 feels like a Thursday. You know?

Xiaomi is an interesting company. The same day that it announces a phone that looks almost identical to the Galaxy Note 7, it follows up with another that looks like nothing else out there. The Mi Note 2 could stand in for any Samsung or Huawei phone from the past year, but Xiaomi says that the future is all-screen, no bezel, and that includes pioneering a number of ways to hide sensors that we rely on every day in our current devices.

There's no current plan to bring the Mi Mix to America — heck, neither phone will be sold outside China for the foreseeable future — but Xiaomi keeps trolling the industry, operating at once as a master of mimicry and a master of ambition. Perhaps the two aren't mutually exclusive these days.

And now, the news you need today.

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