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1 month ago

How to recycle or donate your old Android phone


Experts suggest that 20 to 50 million metric tons of e-waste are disposed of worldwide every year. We need to make sure we're doing what we can to help manage it all.

How many phones are you in your house right now? I'm not just talking about the one(s) in your pocket, I'm talking about the ones stuffed in drawers, under other obsolete pieces of electronics that will likely never get looked at again until you wake up one morning determined to clean, and stuff everything in the garbage. Your house may benefit from a good electronics purge every once in a while, but unless these devices are exposed of properly, they usually end up in landfills, wasting the potential to recycle the rare metals and other components responsibly.

Here's how to do just that: recycle your old Android phones responsibly.

Get all your stuff

Recycling a phone should be treated the same way reselling one is — don't leave anything personal behind.

Turn the phone on one last time and give it a good once-over. Make sure you're signed out of any accounts, have uninstalled all the things you've accumulated since you first got it and make sure things like pictures and music are taken off the phone (and backed up safely somewhere!). Take care to make sure any on-device address book entries are erased and any credentials you need to log in have been removed.

Never get rid of a phone without clearing your data from it.

Pull out your SIM card and any SD cards you might be using. If you're recycling an Android phone, we recommend a factory reset and wipe once you're sure nothing is left stored on the phone.You should also let things restart and skip through the setup process so you can double check that everything is gone.

We're not trying to imply that anyone at a recycling center is eager to dig through your phone, but you should always protect your privacy.

Sorting it all

You'll want to separate the electronics from the rest of the stuff. The box, the papers that came with it and the incidental stuff you've accumulated and will never use again needs to be gone over so it can go into the proper recycle bin.

Papers, cardboard boxes, and plastic or rubber phone cases can go with your normal household recyclables. The charger, any cables and the phone itself need set aside unless you have a pickup for discarded electronics. You should leave the back of the phone on if it's removable, and there's no need to pull off any skins or screen protectors. Use your judgment for other accessories, and a good rule of thumb is that if it needs power from a battery or a cord, it needs to go in the same bin as the phone itself.

Where to take the rest

Not everyone has easy access to a recycling center and some private centers will charge you when they take your stuff. Don't be discouraged if this describes your situation and be tempted to just toss the whole kit and kaboodle into the trash with the rest of your household waste. Some of the stuff inside a phone — especially the battery — is pretty nasty and is not something we want to be buried in a landfill. Do you want roving bands of mutant super ants? Because that's how you get roving bands of mutant super ants.

Recycling your phone is easy and it does make a difference.

There are plenty of places that want your old phone. Besides all that nasty battery stuff there are also a number of internal materials worth money to the right person. Aluminum. Copper. Gold. All of these fetch a good amount of cash if you have enough of it. You won't find enough in one old phone to make it worth the time to retrieve it, but there are people and companies who collect enough old things to make it worthwhile for them. You don't even need to look for those folks because they have bins at places you probably already visit.

Chances are the place you buy phones, like your carrier, will also take old ones back. They don't want to have something with their name on it responsible for those super ants, and many of them have ongoing relationships with electronics recycling companies. Best Buy is another place that you can drop off an old phone, and you'll find a bin right at the entrance. And if you purchase by mail you can ask for a prepaid bag to send your recyclable phone back in. Samsung has its own electronics recycling program, for both its own products and others.

If all else fails, ask the people who pick up your recycle bins.

Canadians can donate their devices at most carrier stores, or at drop-off locations hosted by Recycle My Cell across the country.

If your phone still works

If you want to recycle your phone because it no longer works, the above directions are the right way to do it. But if your phone is still functional, just not desirable, there are plenty of ways to donate it to the right cause.

In the U.S., organizations like Cell Phones for Soldiers and Verizon's HelpLine are wonderful ways to donate old devices, either for people to use, or for them to sell to raise money on their own.

We've only got one planet. Until we figure out a way to pack it all up and fly to some place better we all need to do everything we can to keep it clean and super ant free. Taking five minutes to sort out a phone and charger from your everyday refuse is easy and finding some place to take it isn't difficult, either.

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1 month ago

LG V20 review: Everything a power user wants

LG V20

The V20 has broad appeal, an interesting camera setup and mountains of features — but it doesn't quite 'wow' as a complete product.

LG's flagship "G" series of phones have been solid hits for the company, particularly with the G2 and G3 that outpaced the competition in many ways. But seeing an opportunity for an even bigger and more feature-packed phone, LG unveiled a new device and entirely new line with the V10 in 2015. It was huge, rugged and packed an incredible number of features for a single phone — the selling point was that it was for "content creation" instead of consumption.

In 2016, the general-appeal flagship LG G5 has fallen flat, and is hardly on the radar of those looking for a high-end phone. Interestingly enough, the V20 looks and feels effectively like a larger G5 — though it retains many of the features and much of the V10's DNA. This combination of approaches makes the V20 dramatically more appealing to a wider range of potential customers, but at the same time works to differentiate by packing as many features and specs as possible into a single big phone.

With two screens on the front, two cameras on the back, a removable battery, Android 7.0 Nougat running the show and a pile of content creation features, the V20 is quite a handful. It's also commanding a large handful of money to acquire one. With LG failing to get out of the blocks with the G5, and building on a narrowly successful V10, can the V20 draw from both to be a success? We're here to explore just that in our full LG V20 review.

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1 month ago

Samsung's Note 7 upgrade program lets Korean customers buy the Galaxy S8 or Note 8 for 50% off


Samsung is rolling out an upgrade program to South Korean Note 7 customers that have traded in their Note 7 handsets for an S7 or S7 edge. Customers joining the Galaxy Upgrade program will have to sign a two-year contract and pay monthly instalments on their current device (the S7 or S7 edge) for 12 months, after which they'll be able to upgrade to the Galaxy S8 or Note 8 for free.

Those looking to upgrade to next year's handsets as soon as they become available can do so by paying off their instalments ahead of time. Samsung is also throwing in fast track service and a 50% discount on display repair costs, which can be availed twice.

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1 month ago

BlackBerry DTEK60 specs


What's inside the BlackBerry DTEK60?

BlackBerry's second phone in 2016 is a more powerful Android phone than its predecessor, the DTEK50, but follows the same path to market. The DTEK60 is made by TCL, the company behind Alcatel's line of devices, but steps up the specs game in a big way.

Here's what's inside.

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1 month ago

BlackBerry Priv: How does it stack up a year later?


How has BlackBerry's first Android offering held up this past year?

With the BlackBerry Priv closing in on its first birthday, now is a perfect time to take another look at the phone and see how it has held up over the year, and whether or not it is still a phone worth considering. This was BlackBerry's first device to run Android, and it has the company's iconic physical keyboard under its well-known slider. At first, many loved the idea of having the keyboard again, but is that enough to tie you to a phone for more than a year?

BlackBerry has been great about pushing monthly security patches the same day as Google, and in comparison the company did a pretty great job of getting Marshmallow pushed out timely. For all the things that BlackBerry has done great with this phone, there are a number of things that could have been done better, and those are more obvious after a year.

Let's take another look at the BlackBerry Priv and see if it is worth buying one today.

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1 month ago

BlackBerry's DTEK60 is its most powerful phone yet


BlackBerry has announced its latest smartphone today, the oft-leaked DTEK60. Succeeding the DTEK50, which was announced earlier in the year, the DTEK60 is also made by Chinese manufacturer TCL, but steps up the specs, and the price, significantly, for people looking to interact with BlackBerry's heralded Android software suite.

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1 month ago

Xiaomi's Mi Mix concept phone is insane, will go on sale next month


Xiaomi rolled out the Mi Note 2 earlier today, offering everything you'd possibly want from a high-end phone. The Chinese manufacturer also introduced a concept phone — called the Mi Mix — that goes beyond "anything that's available in the market today." The phone features a massive 6.4-inch edgeless display, but the 91.3% screen-to-body ratio means that the Mix isn't larger than your average 5.7-inch phone. Xiaomi partnered with French designer Philippe Starck in designing the phone, which features a ceramic body.

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1 month ago

Xiaomi Mi Note 2 unveiled with curved display, Snapdragon 821, 6GB RAM, and global LTE bands


Xiaomi has announced the successor to last year's Mi Note, the Mi Note 2. As expected, the Mi Note 2 has everything you'd imagine from a high-end phone, including a 5.7-inch dual curved QHD display with a flexible OLED panel, 2.35GHz Snapdragon 821, 6GB of RAM, 128GB UFS 2.0 storage, 22.56MP rear camera (Sony IMX 318) with EIS and 4K video stabilization, 8MP front shooter with autofocus, NFC, a DAC that enables 24bit/192kHz audio, and a 4070mAh battery with Quick Charge 3.0.

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1 month ago

Daily Briefing: The Note 8 is coming


It's Monday, October 24. Do you know where my keys are?

Over the weekend, AT&T agreed to purchase Time Warner for over $80 billion, making it one of the biggest telecom deals ever, and yet another example of consolidation in an industry already full of it.

This will have implications beyond the cynical view you made already have of big-wig executives rolling around in piles of money. For you, this will mean more zero-rating, as companies like AT&T attempt to incentivize you to sign up for yet more expensive wireless plans with promises of content — content that will stream and look its best on the AT&T network.

Beyond that, it means more exclusives: with AT&T buying Time Warner, it means owning HBO, and with it the treasure trove of current and back catalogues that is the current envy of the entire media business. Imagine HBO Now only available to AT&T customers. OK, that's unlikely to happen, but consider this: HBO holding the newest episode of Game of Thrones as an exclusive to AT&T customers for, say, three days.

Would that push you over the edge?

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1 month ago

Best Android Phones of 2016

The Google Pixel is the best Android Phone you can buy today. Whether it's the straight-from-Google Android software, top-notch performance or better-than-expected camera, the Pixel — in either size — does it all.

Best overall

Google Pixel

See at Google See at Verizon

The Google Pixel does almost everything right. Its metal body is well-built and easy to grip — in either the 5-inch or 5.5-inch size — and its spec sheet is top-notch, featuring a Snapdragon 821 and 4GB of RAM.

But Google's Pixel, available in two sizes and screen resolutions, really makes the case for Google owning the hardware and the software. Android has come a long way, but even the best manufacturers can't achieve what Google has with its first-party powerhouse.

Android 7.1 flies through every task, and the small software additions add up to something larger. Then there's the camera, which is one of the best in the business, helped along by Google's exemplary electronic stabilization schemes.

Bottom line: It may cost more than the Nexus line, but Google handily competes with Samsung's best.

One more thing: The Pixel is available unlocked through Google's store in most countries, but if you're in the U.S. may we suggest getting it through Google Fi.


Why the Google Pixel is the best

Google could have built another Nexus phone with a partner like Huawei, LG or even HTC, but with the Pixel it decided to go it mostly alone. Tapping HTC for the manufacturing, Google's first "real" Android phone hits all the right marks.

In either size, the design is familiar but striking, with a plain front in either black or white and a dual-toned rear finish in silver/white, silver/black, or blue/blue. The larger of the two models, the Pixel XL, is the true enthusiast phone, boasting a large 3,450mAh battery and 5.5-inch QHD AMOLED display, but both devices have largely the same internals and camera setup.

To that end, the Pixel flies: Qualcomm's Snapdragon 821 chip, coupled with Google's own take on Android 7.1 Nougat, is the fastest Android experience we've had to date.

Alex Dobie, in his review, explained it this way:

The chassis is attractive, though some may say it's not as bold as Samsung's glass and metal designs. The software is fast and mostly good-looking. It's always going to be up-to-date with the latest Android software, and exclusive tricks from a new and highly ambitious AI-focused Google. The battery easily lasts a day, and charges quickly. The camera matches the Galaxy S7.

While the phone lacks waterproofing and expandable storage, Samsung's Galaxy S7, our former recommendation, is still two major Android revisions behind, and its software can't match the effortless polish of the Pixel.

And then there's the camera. The cornerstone of any flagship, if the Pixel's camera wasn't as good as the S7's, it probably wouldn't have topped our list — but it is. Despite lacking optical image stabilization, the Pixel's camera takes amazing photos in almost every condition.

Best for features

Samsung Galaxy S7

Samsung Galaxy S7

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

The Galaxy S7 rocks a beautiful metal-and-glass design that's waterproof while also holding a solid battery, top-end internals and a microSD card expansion slot. Around front you'll find an industry-leading 5.1-inch QHD SuperAMOLED display that's beautiful in every situation, and around back you can capture fantastic photos with the 12MP camera. It's also rated IP68 water resistant, which is helpful in many situations, unforeseen and otherwise.

The software may take some getting used to if you haven't used a Samsung phone before, but that's hardly a reason to look away from all of the fantastic features that the Galaxy S7 has to offer. It's compact, powerful, easy to use and takes wonderful photos — it really is one of the most complete packages in the Android world.

Bottom line: The Galaxy S7 has the best hardware in Android, but its software keeps it behind the Pixel.

One more thing: If you don't want to buy from a carrier, Samsung offers a U.S. unlocked model of the Galaxy S7 for a cleaner experience.

Best "big phone"

LG V20

LG V20

See at AT&T See at Verizon See at Sprint See at T-Mobile See at B&H Photo

The LG V20 has taken a long road to get to market, but now that it's finally available we're incredibly pleased with the results. Running Android 7.0 Nougat out of the box, LG's combination of enthusiast hardware — removable battery, expandable storage — and approachable software is a win-win, but the phone's large footprint and cost may limit its broad appeal.

Still, the V20 is perfect for anyone that wants a big phone. It boasts a unique Second Screen — a permanent "ticker" of sorts that sits above the main LCD panel — along with two rear cameras, one wide-angle and one regular, and a host of manual camera controls for both stills and video.

Running a Snapdragon 820 processor and 4GB of RAM, plus 64GB storage standard, the V20 is definitely a lot of computer.

Bottom line: The LG V20 is the best phone for someone who is looking for a big phone, or for the avid camera enthusiast.

One more thing: LG is trying to incentivize the V20 to consumers through bundles, including a high-end set of B&O earbuds with every purchase, for a limited time.


Best for a budget

OnePlus 3

See at OnePlus

After releasing a few phones that were tantalizing but not quite complete products, OnePlus has really hit the mark with the OnePlus 3. This high-end device checks just about every box you're looking for, from top-end specs to a great screen, solid camera, fast software and long battery life.

Best of all, it'll only set you back $399, which is easily $200 less than the other flagships out there. You don't get a few of the nice-to-have features like waterproofing, and its screen is a few notches below the Galaxy S7, but for the whole experience it's hard to get something nicer than what the OnePlus 3 offers — especially at this price.

Bottom-line: Though it doesn't have some of the fringe features you'll find elsewhere, the OnePlus 3 offers the best value in a high-end Android phone today.

One more thing: The OnePlus 3's Dash Charge fast charging solution isn't compatible with any other quick charging standards, so you'll need to invest in new chargers if you want to top up quickly.



The best overall Android experience right now can be obtained by either the Google Pixel or Pixel XL. Regardless of which size Pixel, you're getting a great design, excellent build quality, incredible performance, and one of the best cameras on the market. That, combined with Google's simple-but-beautiful interpretation of Android 7.1 Nougat, and always-first updates, makes the Pixel the best option for most people right now.

Best overall

Google Pixel

See at Google See at Verizon

The Google Pixel does almost everything right. Its metal body is well-built and easy to grip — in either the 5-inch or 5.5-inch size — and its spec sheet is top-notch, featuring a Snapdragon 821 and 4GB of RAM.

But Google's Pixel, available in two sizes and screen resolutions, really makes the case for Google owning the hardware and the software. Android has come a long way, but even the best manufacturers can't achieve what Google has with its first-party powerhouse.

Android 7.1 flies through every task, and the small software additions add up to something larger. Then there's the camera, which is one of the best in the business, helped along by Google's exemplary electronic stabilization schemes.

Bottom line: It may cost more than the Nexus line, but Google handily competes with Samsung's best.

One more thing: The Pixel is available unlocked through Google's store in most countries, but if you're in the U.S. may we suggest getting it through Google Fi.


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1 month ago

Best Verizon Phones

Best Verizon Phones

Want a new Verizon phone? See the best the largest operator in the United States has to offer.

Whether you're an existing Verizon subscriber looking to upgrade, or you're thinking of switching over to Verizon and want to know what phones they offer; we're here to help.

We have put together our list of the best phones Verizon has to offer. We encourage you to read our reviews to learn more about each device we have featured, but if you are ready to pull the trigger, we have also included links to buy directly from Verizon.

Updated October 24, 2016: Added Google Pixel and LG V20. Removed Nexus 6P and HTC 10.

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1 month ago

Save an additional $30 on the ad-powered Moto G4 at Amazon


Right now you can save an additional $30 on the ad-powered Moto G4 at Amazon, dropping the price to just $120. Normally, the 4th-gen Moto G retails for $199, but Amazon offers it with lock screen ads at a lower cost, as long as you are an Amazon Prime member. The phone features a 5.5-inch display, 16GB of storage, and comes unlocked to be used on the carrier of your choice.

This deal is only good for today, October 24, so be sure to act quickly if you are interested.

See at Amazon

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1 month ago

I used a Pixel XL for 4 days and all I want is a Note 7


In many ways, Google Pixel is the best phone I've ever used. However...

Google Pixel is priced at a point where people expect a premium experience — and in many ways, Google has delivered. The aluminum body looks and feels nice, the software is incredibly smooth and capable, the camera is out of this world excellent almost every time, and the battery life is on the higher end of functional. This is a great phone, and when you factor in security updates this is going to be the phone I recommend to people for a long time.

That said, over the last few days I found myself missing the kitchen sink of features that comes with owning a Galaxy Note 7. Before it was the laughing stock of the world for occasionally turning into a heap of molten slag, the Note 7 had some lessons to teach every other phone.

"Pro" camera mode

Google's camera app for the Pixel couldn't be easier to use, and the shots you get from this phone are incredible, but I want more. Specifically, when I took a trip out to the middle of nowhere to play with light painting I was reminded that there's no way to do that in Google's stock camera. You can install other apps to accomplish long exposure shots, but you'd think a phone trying to offer a premium experience would bake something like that in right?

Samsung's camera app isn't the easiest to use, but the ability access Pro mode and gain remarkable control over your photography is one of the things that makes the S7, S7 edge, and Note 7 so great. It's a fairly small thing overall, but useful when you need it.

Expandable storage

Especially now that Google has made it possible to add storage to your phone in a permanent fashion, WHY hasn't Google seen fit to add removable storage to their big flagship phones? Why bother with the feature if you're not going to use it?

Samsung doesn't offer Adoptable Storage by default on their phones, but there's so much you can use the SD card for now that cameras are recording in 4K and taking enormous photos with RAW support baked in. It's there if you need it, which is what you expect from a premium phone!

Wireless charging

I don't fault Google for not including wireless charging in a phone with a metal body, because no one has fully implemented that feature yet and I personally prefer the metal body on the Pixel to the slippery glass on Samsung's lineup, but it's still a great feature. Google's lack of wireless charging in the last few phones has been a bummer, and something a lot of people were hoping would come back with the Pixel phones.

Samsung, on the other hand, has been crushing it with wireless charging. Not just regular wireless charging, but fast wireless charging that really makes a difference. There's a big part of the wireless charging experience that is greatly improved with the newer rapid chargers, making it much easier for people to consider adopting with new phones.

Waterproof body

Welcome to 2016, where IP53 is not acceptable in a phone with a premium price tag unless the Google logo is on the back? That seems odd, right? HTC was slammed for this same water and dust rating on their most recent phone, and despite being a great piece of hardware no one bought it because it was so expensive. The mental gymnastics require to praise the Pixel without talking about water resistance but slam the 10 for being too expensive for what you get are impressive.

Meanwhile, on Samsung's phones you can watch Alec Baldwin in what is probably the best performance of his career on SNL while sitting in a hot tub. While not something you should do every day, it's the kind of thing you should expect on a phone with one of the highest price tags on the market.

Is this a premium phone?

I've been beating up on the Pixel here a little, but it's important to point out the things you get for "free" on this phone contributed to the seemingly inflated cost. Unlimited lifetime storage for full res photos and video is insanely great. Free 24/7/365 phone support with live video mirroring is a big deal. You get these things on top of a phone that offers a ridiculously good fingerprint scanner, one of the better displays you can buy in a phone, an insanely good camera, and a battery that will easily get you through the day.

This is a fantastic phone, but there's clearly room for improvement and it's important to remember that as we place this phone on its pedestal. And yeah, I miss the Note 7. I can't have a Note 7 though, and the S7 edge isn't nearly as comfortable to hold and use. So it's a Pixel for me for now, in hopes that Google figures out how to really push for premium next time.

Google Pixel + Pixel XL

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1 month ago

How to take a screenshot on the Google Pixel


How do I take a screenshot on the Google Pixel?

The Google Pixel runs Android 7.1, which is pretty special. There are a whole bunch of new features, and there are rounded icons — for better or worse. If you're using the new phone, you're likely going to want to show off some of its awesome looks in the form of screenshots.

It's easy to take a screen on the google Pixel. Here's how.

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1 month ago

Samsung's hurried Note 7 recall may have led to the phone's downfall


It's nearly two weeks since Samsung discontinued the Galaxy Note 7, and the company is yet to determine why several units caught fire. However, according to The Wall Street Journal, the hasty recall process initiated by Samsung following reports of the first Note 7 units catching fire in late August may have exacerbated the issue.

Samsung conducted laboratory tests of faulty units and found "a protrusion in Note 7 batteries supplied by Samsung SDI," whereas batteries from another supplier didn't have the bulge. Facing increased pressure from customers and carriers, Samsung's mobile chief DJ Koh initiated a recall of the 2.5 million units after consulting with heir apparent Lee Jae-yong.

The decision to recall units based on "incomplete evidence" turned out to Samsung's detriment when "safe" units of the Note 7 also started catching fire:

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