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1 month ago

Honor 6X vs. Honor 8: Which offers better value for money?

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Honor 8 vs 6X

Does Honor's new budget contender deliver more bang for your buck, or should you opt for the more expensive Honor phone from late 2016?

Comparing a $250 handset to a $350-400 one might seem just a little unfair. After all, the more money you pay, the more phone you usually get. So instead, we're going to try and quantify whether the Honor 6X or Honor 8 delivers the better bang for your buck across four key categories.

Does paying an extra hundred bucks or so really give you a noticeably superior Android experience? Let's jump in!

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1 month ago

Samsung Galaxy A5 + A3 (2017) video preview!

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Samsung's high-end phones, like the Galaxy S7, are great, but also expensive, and the Galaxy A series has traditionally been about creating a leaner product at a more affordable price. Samsung has just launched the 2017 refresh of the Galaxy A3 and A5 in the UK, where they'll sell for £299 and £399 respectively.

The physical design is very similar and very Samsung-eqsue — glass front and back, and the back panel actually has a nice subtle GS7-like curve to it. They're both metal-framed, and feel every bit as solid as Samsung's flagship-tier stuff. The most noticeable difference is the size — the A5 is a 5.2-incher with a 1080p panel, while the A3 downscales to 720p at 4.7 inches. Other specs, including the CPU, RAM, storage, battery and camera take a small hit on the A3, which you'd expect for the £100 price difference. Then again, this isn't necessarily a phone for spec fiends.

But nor is it a phone you should necessarily dismiss out of hand. Performance is smooth, the A series boasts water and dust resistance, and the A5's camera matches that of the Galaxy S6 on paper — a proven combination of a 16-megapixel sensor with OIS behind an f/1.9 lens. Despite one big, Marshmallow-shaped software compromise, the 2017 Galaxy A phones are definitely worth a look if you're looking to spend between £300 and £400 on something new and shiny.

Check out our hands on preview video above, and be sure to hit the comments and let us know what you think!

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1 month ago

HTC is offering up to $250 off during its 'Seven Days of Sappiness' sale

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HTC is currently discounting a number of its phones and accessories as part of a 'Seven Days of Sappiness' sale. Whether you are looking for a new phone, a set of USB-C headphones or some accessories to match your new phone, HTC has got you covered here. You can score $150 off the HTC 10, $200 off the HTC One A9, and $250 off the HTC One M9 for a limited time. The JBL headphones plug right into your USB-C port, and right now they are just $99.

The phones are all available in a variety of colors so you can find the right one for your needs, and of course HTC includes its UH OH Protection and free shipping with all purchases. This deal is a limited time offer so if there is something you want, be sure to grab it before the stock sells out.

See at HTC

For more deals on tech, gadgets, home good and more, be sure to check out our friends at Thrifter now!

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1 month ago

Here are the 12 finalists from Motorola's Moto Mods developer contest

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Motorola's developer challenge leads to interesting new Moto Mods.

Motorola kicked off the "Transform the Smartphone Challenge" last November, in which the company turned to third-party developers to come up with innovative ideas for future Moto Mods. After receiving over 700 submissions from 55 countries and 30 states, Motorola has picked out 12 finalists, with the shortlisted submissions now raising money on Indiegogo to bring their projects to life. Each finalist received a Moto Mods Development Kit as well as a Moto Z handset, and their concepts are now ready to be crowdsourced.

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1 month ago

OnePlus pushes out OxygenOS 4.0.3 as 128GB 3T finally up for pre-order

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Nougat OnePlus 3T

Update adds Wi-Fi assistant, low-light camera enhancements and Amazon apps for Indian users.

OnePlus has started rolling out its third major revision to the Nougat-based OxygenOS 4 for the OnePlus 3 and 3T today, bringing the phones up to version 4.0.3. With this latest upgrade, OnePlus continues to squish software bugs, but has also added some welcome enhancements to Wi-Fi connectivity and low-light performance for the camera. Users in India, where OnePlus has partnered exclusively with Amazon for sales of its phones, also get a pre-installed Amazon Prime app. (Yay?)

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1 month ago

HTC wants Indian users to pay ₹48,990 ($730) for a Snapdragon 810-powered phone

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HTC continues to be ignorant of the Indian market.

HTC doesn't have a great track record in India. The Taiwanese manufacturer rolled out the MediaTek Helio X10-powered One M9+ in lieu of the standard One M9 in 2015, charging ₹52,500 ($785) for it. The QHD display backed by an inefficient processor led to the phone lagging in everyday usage, and the high price drove customers to the Galaxy S6.

Last year, the brand announced that it would bring the Snapdragon 652 variant of the HTC 10, the HTC 10 Lifestyle, and not the Snapdragon 820 model. The company thankfully changed course and introduced the HTC 10 in the country, and while the handset itself turned out to be one of the better phones of 2016, a lack of advertising killed HTC's prospects in the market.

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1 month ago

Samsung Hello could be the Galaxy S8's answer to Google Now

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Samsung sign

One location for your news, social, health and travel plans, backed up by voice interactions.

Personal feeds like the Google Feed (formerly Google Now) and HTC BlinkFeed aren't a new idea, and phone makers never seem to tire of trying to collate all your personal info and updates into one place. "Samsung Hello" could be the company's latest attempt to do just that, and based on the timing of a recent trademark filing, a launch alongside the upcoming Galaxy S8 is a good bet.

The European trademark, first spotted by SamMobile refers to an app which "gives personalized features and information based on user's preferences in the fields of weather, music, entertainment, games, travel, science, health, contact, and social news via voice command and voice recognition." That sounds an awful lot like the Feed within the Google app, though it's unclear whether Samsung Hello would be entirely voice-only, or whether there'd also be some visual component.

Will Samsung Hello and the 'Bixby' AI be one and the same?

On a drier and more technical level, the filing also mentions "software that enable block users or computers and mobile devices to access, aggregate, organize and interact with content, information and images and topics of general interest to such users." (Read: showing you stuff you might be interested in — another central feature of the artist formerly known as Google Now.)

It's also not clear how Hello might tie into the Galaxy S8's rumored 'Bixby' AI assistant, or whether they're one and the same. Most of the features detailed in the trademark filing would seem to overlap with what you'd get from a voice-controlled assistant.

We should be careful about basing too much on a single trademark filing. While they can be useful indicators of what's to come, Samsung's past filings have included dubious marks like "Galaxy Fonblet," which never went anywhere. Regardless, with "AI" becoming one of the major phone trends of 2017, we'll be watching with interest to see how Samsung's AI efforts come into focus. The Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus are rumored to break cover at an event in New York City on March 29.

Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus

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1 month ago

The latest version of Android is now on 1.2% of devices

56

One percent of a billion isn't nothing, but Nougat is still frustratingly hard to come by.

Android 7.x Nougat is now on 1.2% of active Android phones, according to the latest numbers from Google. That's up 0.5% from last month, which may not seem like a lot but it's the biggest one-month jump since the platform was made official last August. That's thanks to big-name updates from companies like Huawei, Samsung, LG and more.

But older versions like Marshmallow, at 30.7%, are still far more ubiquitous — it even increased 1.1% over last month! Other versions, like Lollipop, KitKat and most flavors of Jelly Bean, are all down from January, but not enough to make any significant difference. The reality is that fragmentation is still very much a thing on Android, and that 35.2% of devices are still running software from 2013 or earlier.

With the Galaxy S7 expected to receive Nougat in volume this quarter, that number of Android 7.x-based phones should shoot up again in March, but it will be a long time before it approaches anything close to what we're seeing from holdouts like Jelly Bean and KitKat.

Android Nougat

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1 month ago

Google Pixel's speaker problems have been fixed — probably

36

The Pixel's audio problems are mostly over. What a sweet sound.

The Google Pixel has issues. It's still the best phone out there, but it's not perfect, and one such issue consistently been reported is the phone's single downward-facing speaker tending to distort at high volumes. What was initially thought of as a hardware malfunction appears to have been resolved (or is resolvable) using software.

According to a number of people who downloaded the February 2017 security update onto their Google Pixel this week, the sound issues appear to have been fixed — at least for some. Two commits to AOSP in January — one from Google and the other from HTC — tell the story of a company looking to both its internal software team and its manufacturing partner to figure out exactly what has been happening.

What does this mean? Well, as Russell Holly pointed out, it's very difficult to make speakers act identically inside a phone, since there are always going to be variances in temperature, humidity and slight alterations to the size and shape of the cavity itself. What Google can do is resolve the issue for the largest number of people through a software calibration, which it appears to be doing here.

Common Google Pixel problems and how to fix them

If you're using a Google Pixel with the latest security update, has it resolved your audio problems? Or did you not have one in the first place? Or have you still been unable to buy one?

Google Pixel + Pixel XL

Google Store Verizon

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1 month ago

Best Android Camera

Update, 8 February 2017: The Google Pixel is still our favorite phone for taking photos, but we've replaced the OnePlus 3 with its venerable (and slightly improved) successor, the OnePlus 3T.

Best overall

Google Pixel

See at Verizon See at Google

Google's new Pixel phone comes out on top when you look at photo quality, overall performance and simplicity of shooting. Interestingly, it does it with what would normally be considered middle-of-the-road camera specs. You get a 12MP sensor and f/2.0 lens without the support OIS (optical image stabilization), but that isn't an issue for the Pixel.

It also has a simple camera interface that doesn't have a ton of features, but makes up for it in terms of overall quality. Just point and shoot, and you're going to get a great photo every single time. Daylight shots are crisp and bright with just the right amount of extra saturation, and low-light shots are surprisingly smooth and lack the extra noise that other phones often introduce.

Add in the extra perk that the Pixel includes unlimited full-resolution photo backup with Google Photos, and it's a truly great smartphone camera.

Bottom line: For the best possible photos from every type of situation, the Pixel is your best choice.

One more thing: For the same camera experience in a larger size with a bigger battery, consider the (more expensive) Google Pixel XL.

Why the Google Pixel is the best

After years of Nexuses with hit-or-miss cameras, Google finally delivered on its promise with the Pixel — and it's doing it with a similar formula we first saw in the Nexus 6P and 5X. You don't get OIS (optical image stabilization), but instead a 12MP sensor with really large pixels that can take in extra light and HDR+ software that does the extra work to bring multiple exposures together.

The results are absolutely fantastic, no matter the shooting situation. As Alex Dobie said in our Pixel review:

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.

The Pixel doesn't offer a ton of shooting modes or lots of tweaking options in the camera interface, but that doesn't really matter — the end result when you press the shutter key matches or beats the competition, and offers amazing consistency from shot to shot. Photos are crisp with just the right amount of punchy color, and when the light is at a minimum it manages to still take smooth shots anyway. It's incredibly impressive what Google was able to do in the Pixel, and the results are to your benefit every time you open the camera.

Best runner-up

Samsung Galaxy S7

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

Samsung launched the Galaxy S7 back in March 2016, and until the Pixel arrived it was the best camera out there. The 12MP resolution gives you plenty of pixels to work with, and the OIS keeps everything clear whether you're taking low-light shots or shooting video on the move.

Just as important as the photo output is how quickly the camera operates. Two presses of the home button launch the camera in less than a second, and photos are taken instantaneously even when shooting in HDR or a tough lighting situation. The camera interface is simple but also powerful if you choose to move to the full Manual mode, which can enable great shots if you want to tweak and use a tripod.

Bottom line: For a nearly compromise-free experience, the Galaxy S7 has a fantastic camera and it's connected to a great phone too.

One more thing: The Galaxy S7 has a 5.1-inch display, but if you want something larger with the same camera, you can consider the 5.5-inch Galaxy S7 edge.

Best for tweaking

LG V20

See at T-Mobile See at AT&T

The new LG V20 borrows the same dual-camera setup from the LG G5, but that's not a bad thing. The main 16MP rear camera is capable of taking crisp, well-balanced shots with the support of a bright f/1.8 lens and OIS. Where the V20 looks to stand out is its second rear camera, which is an 8MP sensor with a super wide-angle lens. The wide-angle shooter can be toggled to quickly for awesome and unique shots you don't get on other phones, though the sensor itself is unfortunately just not as good as the main 16MP offering.

Its camera interface isn't quite as simple or fast as Samsung's, but it's not far off. And what you give up in simplicity you gain in manual controls and tweaks. The Manual mode is comprehensive and powerful, and if you're into recording video there's even a Manual video mode that incorporates high-quality microphones for audio and new electronic image stabilization to keep things steady.

Bottom line: For a great camera that has a few extra options to play with, the V20 is worth considering over the Galaxy S7.

One more thing: The V20 is only on sale in some regions right now, with U.S. availability coming soon. If you want one in the States, you'll have to wait a bit longer.

Best on a budget

OnePlus 3T

See at OnePlus

Everyone wants a great camera in their smartphone, but not everyone can spend the kind of money it takes to get a Galaxy S7 or LG V20. For a much more reasonable $439, the OnePlus 3T has a really solid shooter that's better than the price would suggest. When we compared the OnePlus 3T's camera to the Google Pixel's, we were impressed every time with the results.

You get plenty of resolution here at 16MP, but smaller 1.12-micron pixels that aren't as great in low-light scenes — though the inclusion of a relatively quick f/2.0 lens and OIS help, as does the camera app's HDR processing. The camera app isn't great and can still be a little slow, and you don't get full manual controls, but for a camera that can get the job done and won't break the bank, this is a great choice.

Bottom line: For a really solid camera in a phone that won't break the bank, the OnePlus 3T is a great choice.

One more thing: Remember that the OnePlus 3T is only designed to work on GSM networks, like T-Mobile, AT&T and their MVNO partners.

Conclusion

2016 has produced some great smartphone cameras, and you have a few great choices here. But if you're looking for the absolute best camera across the board, you're going to want the Google Pixel. The Galaxy S7 is a close second, the LG V20 offers tons of options and the OnePlus 3T does well on a budget.

Best overall

Google Pixel

See at Verizon See at Google

Google's new Pixel phone comes out on top when you look at photo quality, overall performance and simplicity of shooting. Interestingly, it does it with what would normally be considered middle-of-the-road camera specs. You get a 12MP sensor and f/2.0 lens without the support OIS (optical image stabilization), but that isn't an issue for the Pixel.

It also has a simple camera interface that doesn't have a ton of features, but makes up for it in terms of overall quality. Just point and shoot, and you're going to get a great photo every single time. Daylight shots are crisp and bright with just the right amount of extra saturation, and low-light shots are surprisingly smooth and lack the extra noise that other phones often introduce.

Add in the extra perk that the Pixel includes unlimited full-resolution photo backup with Google Photos, and it's a truly great smartphone camera.

Bottom line: For the best possible photos from every type of situation, the Pixel is your best choice.

One more thing: For the same camera experience in a larger size with a bigger battery, consider the (more expensive) Google Pixel XL.

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1 month ago

Alleged Moto G5 Plus leak reveals 5.2-inch Full HD display, 12MP camera

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Moto G5 Plus leak details specs of Motorola's upcoming budget phone.

Motorola has announced that it will unveil a new phone at Mobile World Congress at the end of the month, and current rumors point to a new handset in the Moto G series. A new leak originating out of Brazil of an alleged Moto G5 Plus shows off the front of the device covered in a plastic film.

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1 month ago

Xiaomi launches a special edition Redmi Note 4X for Hatsune Miku fans

2

Redmi Note 4X comes to China with Hatsune Miku branding.

Xiaomi has unveiled the Redmi Note 4X in China, with the phone offering the same internal hardware as the Indian version of the Redmi Note 4. The phone will be sold in five color variants — gold, pink, black, grey, and green — and the last color option is the most interesting, as it is the special edition model with Hatsune Miku branding.

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1 month ago

Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 review: Setting the benchmark for the budget segment

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Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 India

Xiaomi's Redmi Note 3 was one of the best-selling devices of 2016 in India. With its successor, the company is looking to continue the momentum.

Quick take:

It's hard to follow up on the Redmi Note 3, but Xiaomi has managed to deliver a great successor in the Redmi Note 4. The phone now comes with more memory and storage, and the design changes make the device feel upmarket. Battery life has also received a boost thanks to the Snapdragon 625 SoC, and the camera is also better than what we saw last year. In short, this is the phone to beat in the budget segment.

The good

  • Class-leading performance
  • Premium design
  • Great battery life

The bad

  • MIUI quirks
  • Fast charging limited to 5V/2A

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1 month ago

Best Android Phone For Long Battery Life

Update, 7 February 2017: We've replaced our previous pick, the Samsung Galaxy S7 edge, with a slightly larger and longer-lasting phone, the Huawei Mate 9.

Best overall

Huawei Mate 9

See at Amazon

With a massive 5.9-inch display, you'd think that the Huawei Mate 9 wouldn't be able to last a whole day — but you'd be dead wrong. That screen is helped along by a 4,000mAh battery — one of the biggest in its class — pushing the Mate 9 to a staggering 2-day average uptime. Huawei's flagship device also has some Machine Learning chops that learn what apps you use most and least, in order to optimize them for battery usage.

Bottom line: A huge 4,000mAh cell plus software optimizations make the Huawei Mate 9 the best phone for battery life.

One more thing: Sometimes the Mate 9 can push battery optimizations a bit too far, so be sure to tweak your app settings when appropriate.

Why the Mate 9 is the best

An underrated performer in the U.S. because it doesn't have carrier support, but the Huawei Mate 9 is a serious worker.

Huawei has come a long way since its days of questionable software and China-only releases. The Mate 9 is now officially available in the U.S., and you get a lot with its $599 price tag, including a 4,000mAh battery that has to be one of the best out there. The company's homegrown Kirin 960 chip is not only fast, but its 16nm manufacturing process makes it extremely efficient.

Combined with the power-sipping 1080p LCD panel, the Mate 9 seemingly lasts forever; there wasn't a single day that reviewer Alex Dobie worried about it dying by the afternoon:

The phone never failed to get us through a full day of mixed use on LTE and Wi-Fi, often with more than 50% in the tank by the evening. Even pushing the phone really hard with lots of photography and a little wireless tethering, we never came close to experiencing battery anxiety.

Other than battery life, the Mate 9 is just an all-around great phone, and Huawei has committed to updating it with Alexa support in the coming months.

Best for sleekness

Samsung Galaxy S7 edge

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

Battery life is subjective, of course, but having a bigger battery cell certainly helps. That, coupled with efficient software, is the recipe for all-day battery, and sometimes longer.

The Galaxy S7 edge has 3,600mAh cell that rivals much larger phones. It's amazing how slim and light the phone is considering how much juice they were able to fit into the device. Samsung also employs some software optimizations to ensure the phone keeps chugging along all day, too, including a very smart Power saving mode, and a last-resort Ultra power saving mode, which many other companies have since copied.

Bottom line: The Galaxy S7 edge does everything you want it to — speed, beauty, and camera quality — but if you're looking for all-day battery life, it's especially worth considering.

One More thing: This highly-rated device is available at all four major carriers in the U.S., but if you'd rather live dangerously and contract-free, Samsung offers an unlocked model that also works overseas.

Best for less

Moto Z Play

See at Motorola

The Moto Z Play starts quickly and keeps going. It's actually quite amazing to witness. Thanks in part to the super-efficient Snapdragon 625 processor, which is built on a new 14nm process, the phone rarely gets hot, and with eight cores, works smarter, not harder.

With a 3,510mAh battery inside, along with software that feels as light as a feather, the Moto Z Play is the longest-lasting $400 phone we've used. It's also a pretty great smartphone, featuring a bright 5.5-inch display, a great 16MP camera, and support for Moto Mods.

Bottom-line: The Moto Z Play doesn't sacrifice much from its more expensive, much thinner Moto Z sibling. If you can deal with the added girth, and a slight hit to processing abilities, you get one of the best, longest-lasting Android phones around.

One more thing: Pair the Moto Z Play with Incipio's 2,220mAh OffGrid battery pack, and you have a whopping 5,730mAh combination that should last two full days, or longer!

Best for smaller hands

Honor 8

See at Honor

You wouldn't necessarily think of the Honor 8 as a phone with a long-lasting battery — it is quite a small device, after all — but Huawei, Honor's parent company, packed a 3,000mAh cell in there, along with a number of software optimizations to ensure it sips battery throughout the day.

Moreover, the Honor 8's Kirin 950 processor, built in-house by Huawei itself, finds the right balance between speed and efficiency. Couple that with the rest of the phone's excellent hardware — dual 12MP cameras, a bright, sharp 5.2-inch display, and plenty of storage — and you have a recipe for one of the best all-round Android phones on the market today.

Bottom-line: The Honor 8 is a great phone for anyone looking for at a smaller device without having to sacrifice battery life.

One more thing: You can buy the Honor 8 unlocked from a number of places, but Honor's website offers three months of screen protection warranty.

Conclusion

Most phones claim to have "all-day battery life," but few actually make it to bedtime. The Huawei Mate 9 actually backs up its claims, and does so while excelling in almost every other area.

Best overall

Huawei Mate 9

See at Amazon

With a massive 5.9-inch display, you'd think that the Huawei Mate 9 wouldn't be able to last a whole day — but you'd be dead wrong. That screen is helped along by a 4,000mAh battery, one of the biggest in its class, pushing the Mate 9 to a staggering 2-day average uptime. Huawei's flagship device also has some Machine Learning chops that learn what apps you use most and least, in order to optimize them for battery usage.

Bottom line: A huge 4,000mAh cell plus software optimizations make the Huawei Mate 9 the best phone for battery life.

One more thing: Sometimes the Mate 9 can push battery optimizations a bit too far, so be sure to tweak your app settings when appropriate.

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1 month ago

Best rugged cases for the Galaxy S7 edge

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Best Rugged Cases for Galaxy S7 Edge

Keep your S7 edge looking beautiful by protecting it with a tough case!

There are few worse feelings than the moment after you drop your phone, screen down. You gasp. Maybe you curse. You reach for it and hope you don't see spiderwebs when you flip that screen upward. And with an all-glass phone like the Galaxy S7 edge, there are two sides you could be breaking.

There's one really easy way to avoid this awful screen-shatter lottery — by protecting your new Galaxy S7 edge with a suitably rugged case. Here are a few of our top picks.

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