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1 month ago

Samsung opens up Galaxy S7 Nougat beta program to more users

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Nougat on GS7

A second chance to test Nougat on the GS7 — but it's not yet clear how many countries are included.

It appears Samsung has opened up the Galaxy Beta program to more users in the UK, following the initial rollout earlier this month. This gives Galaxy S7 and S7 edge owners a second change to try pre-release versions of Nougat for the phones, after the first wave of places were quickly snapped up.

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1 month ago

OnePlus 3T now available in the UK + Europe

1
OnePlus 3T

£399 for 64GB, £439 for 128GB.

Today is the European launch day for the OnePlus 3T, the mid-cycle refresh of OnePlus's popular affordable flagship. The phone is available from the manufacturer's UK store with 5-day shipping times for both the 64GB model (at £399) and the 128GB variant (at £439) in the new "gunmetal" color. The elusive rose gold OnePlus 3T is still marked as "coming soon."

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1 month ago

Android 7.1.1 set for Dec 5 release on Nexus + Pixel devices

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Nougat statue

Vodafone Australia lets slip the launch date for the next version of Android.

Google has already stated on a few occasions that the final release of Android 7.1.1 Nougat will take place in early December, but now we have a tentative date to work with. Vodafone Australia has published an update advisory for the Nexus 6P, saying the OTA to Android 7.1.1, build NMF26F, will start to hit the Huawei-made phone from December 6 local time. It's worth remembering that Australia is 13 to 18 hours ahead of the United States, so in the U.S. the update would likely hit sometime on the previous day, Monday December 5.

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1 month ago

Oppo R9s review: An important step forward

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Oppo makes some small but important steps forward with its latest handset bound for Asia.

Without making much of a splash in the west, Oppo has found itself towards the top of the list of smartphone manufacturers. While the top two, Samsung and Apple, are still a ways out, Oppo is now a constant presence around the number four spot, and that's no small achievement.

Like many other phone makers from China, we've seen significant improvements from Oppo in several key areas with recent devices. The latest, the Oppo R9s, is now launching outside China for the first time and represents another step forward, albeit a subtle one.

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1 month ago

PinOut is the perfect mix of old and new

5

A fantastic game and an amazing value.

I'm addicted, and my drug of choice is PinOut, the latest game by Mediocre, the small Swedish game development team that has put out quality game after quality game, if not hit after hit.

The company's latest game, PinOut, builds off the well-worn basis for its 2014 classic, Smash Hit, an endless runner of sorts that drew catharsis from satisfyingly slinging virtual balls into breakable surfaces of many forms. PinOut combines that endless runner approach and adds another satisfying element: pinball.

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1 month ago

Everything you need to know about Freedom Mobile

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What's the big deal with Freedom Mobile?

Earlier this week, Canada's Wind Mobile announced that it was changing its name to Freedom Mobile, and under new owner Shaw was launching an LTE network on November 27. That was met with a healthy dose of excitement and trepidation from current Wind Mobile users and potential switchers alike, but there were many remaining questions. Let's try to break some of them down right now.

What is Freedom Mobile?

Freedom Mobile is the new Wind Mobile, a brand change that, according to CEO Alek Krstajic, was necessary to offload some of the baggage of the existing brand, and find a new space within the Canadian mobile industry under new owner, Shaw Communications.

For all intents and purposes, Freedom Mobile is the same company as Wind Mobile — even the orange and blue color scheme is nearly identical — but with LTE connectivity.

OK, so what's the big deal about LTE connectivity?

Wind Mobile, around since 2009, has been behind the incumbents like Rogers, Bell, and Telus when it comes to technology. While the so-called Big Three set up and expanded their LTE networks to include high-speed tech like LTE-Advanced, carrier aggregation and VoLTE, Wind Mobile was stuck with limited spectrum, older equipment, and 3G speeds. Even in the big cities in which they were supposedly competitive, like Toronto, Vancouver and Calgary, download speeds were limited to under 5Mbps.

More: Is Wind Mobile worth it?

In late 2015, Wind Mobile began replacing all of its old network equipment with newer Nokia equipment, beginning with Vancouver and working east towards Ottawa. While those changes have been for the better, they are still limited to 3G speeds.

LTE is a big deal, then, because it finally allows now-Freedom Mobile to compete on the same level as the Big Three carriers — at least in the markets the company operates. And because Freedom is owned by Shaw, it has the capital to continue investing in networking equipment — and spectrum, when it becomes available — where it doesn't currently operate.

Tell me about the LTE service

Starting November 27, Freedom Mobile will operate an LTE network in the cores of Toronto and Vancouver, expanding to the outlying regions of each city by the spring of 2017.

By summer of 2017, Calgary, Edmonton and Ottawa will be LTE-enabled, and Freedom hopes to have negotiated LTE roaming deals with its domestic roaming partners (namely, Bell and Rogers) for when customers are not connected to its Home network.

Finally, by the fall of 2017, all of Southwestern and Southeastern Ontario — where there are towers — will be LTE-enabled.

How fast will it be?

Freedom Mobile's LTE connectivity is not slated to be the fastest in the business, but with a theoretical maximum speed of 180Mbps, it will certainly be competitive with the incumbents' existing networks, at least in areas with good coverage.

The main issue will be that because LTE service will be so limited, many customers will often fall back to Freedom's 3G service, which is considerably slower than LTE, and slower too than the incumbents' 3G networks.

How do I get on the LTE service?

This is where things get a bit tricky. Freedom Mobile's LTE network operates on a brand new channel called Band 66 — that's why the company calls it a "traffic-free" LTE network — which means there are only a handful of phones that support the new standard. Eventually, most new phones will support Band 66, which operates on AWS-3 spectrum, but as of this writing it is limited to the expensive LG V20 and the yet-unreleased ZTE Grand X 4, a mid-range device.

Eventually, you'll be able to bring your existing phone to Freedom Mobile to connect to its LTE network, but right now the most popular devices, from the Galaxy S7 to Google Pixel to iPhone 7, are not going to work on Freedom's LTE network.

There is one exception, though: in Eastern Ontario — Ottawa, and the surrounding region — LTE is piggybacking off Freedom's existing AWS-1 spectrum because the company wasn't able to buy any AWS-3 spectrum in that area during the 2015 auction. That means the network will be slightly slower in that region — using 10Mhz as opposed to 30Mhz — but it will also work with hundreds of existing phones, unlike in other parts of Canada.

What are the plans available right now?

Freedom Mobile is taking an early adopter strategy for its LTE network, likely because it knows how limited it is at first. Not only is there only one plan available right now, but it's different, and slightly more expensive (naturally) than the rest of the company's plans.

The LTE plan is regularly $45 and includes 3GB of data, unlimited Canadian calling and global texting, but for a limited time the price drops to $40 and the data allotment is doubled to 6GB, which is pretty good.

What about switching over? Can I use LTE on my current plan?

No, if you're an existing Wind Mobile customer transitioning to Freedom Mobile, you won't be able to use your existing plan to access LTE. And if you're using an older SIM card, you may actually need to buy a new one to get access to the LTE network.

What if I want to trade in my newly-purchased Wind phone for an LTE-compatible one?

Freedom is doing people a solid by extending the return window on phones purchased less than 30 days ago. For those purchased between August 1 and November 21, there's a special trade-in program that charges a small restocking fee should you decide to buy the LG V20.

So, is it worth switching over?

That depends. We have yet to use Freedom Mobile's LTE network, at the very least it should be five to ten times faster than its 3G network.

There are a few things to consider. Even though Freedom Mobile has 30Mhz of AWS-3 spectrum in most of its regions (except for Eastern Ontario), AWS spectrum still doesn't travel well through walls, so those in basements or buildings with thick cement exteriors may experience the same connectivity issues on LTE as on 3G. LTE is inherently more efficient, but radio waves are not magic: you won't get service where the signal can't reach.

Right now, if you're currently a Wind Mobile customer, I'd wait to see whether the network is as robust in the Toronto and Vancouver core as the company claims, and I'd investigate other devices before settling on the LG V20, especially if you're looking for a smaller phone — that thing is massive.

We'll have much more Freedom Mobile coverage in the next few weeks, so stay tuned! Got questions? Leave them in the comments below and we'll try to answer them!

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1 month ago

International data: How AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint, Verizon and Project Fi compare

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 How AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint, Verizon and Project Fi compare

Oh, you'll have to pay extra for roaming data outside the U.S — the question is how much.​

The editors here at Android Central tend to travel a lot for this job, and that isn't limited to staying in our home country. And when we travel, we need to have our phones with us and connected to data — that's kind of what we do. We're no strangers to dealing with roaming internationally, and thankfully for us the U.S. carriers are getting on board with everyone's tendency to get out of the country and see the world with their phones and tablets at their side.

Gone are the days of astronomical pay-per-megabyte rates, limited roaming carrier agreements and poor options from some of the carriers. Two of the big four carriers are now offering some sort of free international roaming, with the other two coming around to friendlier pricing structures and fewer restrictions on how we use our data we bought. Even prepaid carriers are getting in on the action with some international calling plans.

Even with all of these changes, international data still isn't cheap. Your best bet is to find a local prepaid SIM card when you travel and pop it in your unlocked phone. But that's not always easy — and there's really something luxurious about stepping off a plane, firing up your phone ... and it just works.

And so we've gathered up the international data rates for the four major U.S. carriers — Sprint, Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile — plus Google's own Project Fi offering. Each carrier does things slightly different, whether it's buying data ahead of time, loading up full-speed data passes once you're already gone or setting up a monthly roaming add-on.

Here's how each of the carriers handles international roaming.

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1 month ago

State of the Android Central Survey: Help us help you (and win a free phone!)

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Take a survey, win a phone!

Android Central is a living thing, always evolving to meet the needs of our user base. The past year has been one of transition, and many of you have seen a number of big changes happen to the way we deliver news, reviews, editorials and product recommendations, and how we operate on YouTube and social media.

That's why we thought it was the right time to ask you to fill out a survey — I know, there have been a few recently — about how we're doing: what you like, what you don't and what you'd like to see more of in the future. There are no wrong answers, just an opportunity to give us feedback that we will take to heart. If you'd like to take the survey in its own window, you can do that, too! The whole thing should take between 10 and 15 minutes to complete, depending on how much you choose to share.


To thank you for taking the survey, you have the option of leaving your email address or Mobile Nations username for the chance of winning a free Moto Z! The winner will be contacted directly, and thanks for being a part of the AC community!

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1 month ago

Unlocked HTC 10 units begin receiving Nougat update in the U.S.

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Good news for HTC 10 owners!

The HTC 10 is getting its Nougat update a week after its kin, the Bolt, shipped with Android 7.0 on board.

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1 month ago

First look: BLU Vivo 6 delivers metal body, fingerprint, 64GB storage for £185 on launch day

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BLU Vivo 6

BLU's UK debut is an attractive mid-ranger — available on Black Friday for £45 off.

Today Florida-based BLU announces its first entry into the UK market, with the mid-priced BLU Vivo 6. The phone sees the upstart manufacturer bring an attractive metal unibody and a handful of premium features like fingerprint security and USB-C connectivity to a phone with a standard price of £239.99. But pick up the phone on launch day — Black Friday — on Amazon UK, and it's yours for a mere £184.99.

So what does that get you? Let's take a look.

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1 month ago

Google Pixel vs. Pixel XL: Which should you buy?

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One of these things is not entirely like the other. Here's how to choose between the Pixel and Pixel XL.

There's no doubt that the question that's plaguing you this very moment as you salivate over the varying color options for the Pixel and Pixel XL is: Which one is even worth bringing home? Well, that will depend entirely on your need, but we've put together a quick, helpful guide so that you can choose the right phone for you.

What's the difference?

Unlike last year's Google event, which revealed two different Nexus devices developed by two entirely different manufacturers, this year's Pixel and Pixel XL are both made by Taiwan-based HTC. As a result, they both look quite similar—so much so, that from far away, you can't really tell them apart, despite their differing screen sizes.

The biggest difference between the Pixel and Pixel XL are their display and battery sizes, though the 5.5-inch Pixel XL isn't that much larger than its 5-inch sibling. The Pixel also feels more like a refined, matte HTC One A9, while the Pixel XL sits in the hand as comfortably as the OnePlus 3. But no matter which one you pick, both devices have high-quality AMOLED screens that are both vividly colored and plenty pixel dense for the average smartphone user.

More: Google Pixel review

Here's a quick specification breakdown for those of you who just want the basics:

Category Google Pixel Google Pixel XL Operating System Android 7.1 with Google UI Android 7.1 with Google UI Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 RAM 4GB 4GB Display 5-inch AMOLED 1920x1080 5.5-inch AMOLED 2560x1440 Rear Camera 12MP f/2.0
1.55-micron pixels
PDAF 12MP f/2.0
1.55-micron pixels
PDAF Front camera 8MP 8MP Battery 2,770mAh non-removable 3,450mAh non-removable Charging Fast charging Fast charging Connectivity USB Type-C, Bluetooth 4.2 USB Type-C, Bluetooth 4.2 Fingerprint sensor Yes Yes Storage 32GB/128GB 32GB/128GB IP rating IP53 IP53 Colors Quite Black, Very Silver, Really Blue Quite Black, Very Silver, Really Blue Price $649 $769

But which one is better?

Well, let's weigh the options. The Pixel features a regular 1080p AMOLED display with a 2,770 mAh battery, so chances are that its battery life might manage a longer day than the Pixel XL's Quad HD AMOLED display and 3,450 mAh battery simply because the display doesn't require as many resources. Then again, larger batteries do usually manage longer up-time.

Here's more on battery performance from executive editor Alex Dobie's initial review of the Pixel and Pixel XL:

In both cases you're likely to get a decent, full day of use out of the Pixel and Pixel XL, though the XL fares a little better on heavier days.

The XL never failed to get me through a full day of regular use, with a typical day getting me 14 to 16 hours off charger with 4.5 to 5 hours of screen on time. That's with mixed use across LTE and Wi-Fi, and approaches what I've gotten out of the Galaxy S7 edge earlier in the year. Unremarkable for a high-end Android phone perhaps, but the major difference I noticed with the Pixel XL was how it weathered heavy use that much better than many rivals.

It all comes down to whether you want a phone to be usable in one hand, or one that can double as a small tablet, used with Nougat's new Multi Window mode in landscape with two apps side by side. You're still getting the same Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 processor, coupled with 4GB of RAM and the improved 12-megapixel rear-facing camera, as well as rear-facing fingerprint sensor, USB Type-C, and fast charging. Both phones are also IP53 rated, so you don't have to go into freakout mode if either phone gets rained on.

More: The Google Pixel is IP53 rated — here's what that means

Which one is better for virtual reality?

It's a good idea to buy a Pixel XL over a smaller Pixel if virtual reality is your primary concern. The Pixel and Pixel XL are both Daydream-ready, but the larger Pixel XL has a higher-resolution display, which translates to better per-eye density in VR. This gives the XL a definite advantage for current content and it helps with future-proofing as well. The larger battery may also eke a few more minutes in battery life while playing VR, which is nice.

You also probably shouldn't get a white Pixel for VR.

More: Using the smaller pixel with Google Daydream is a big compromise

What's the price difference between the two?

The Pixel starts at $649 for the 32GB version, while the Pixel XL starts at a whopping $769. If you bump up the storage to 128GB, it's an extra $100. And if you add on device protection, that's another $100. These smartphones aren't as cheap as Nexuses used to be.

Which carriers support the devices?

Both the Pixel and Pixel XL are sold unlocked through the official Google Store. They're compatible with all four of the major carrier networks in the U.S., in addition to Google's own Project Fi. You can also purchase either device through Verizon, though you'll want to hold off on doing so outright unless you've got a grandfathered subsidy that the carrier is offering you.

The Verizon variant of both devices include three Verizon apps, an encrypted bootloader — a bummer for tinkerers — and you'll have to wait on Big Red before receiving any software updates. Alternatively, if you're a Verizon subscriber and you buy it unlocked, you'll still have access to advanced features like VoLTE and Wi-Fi Calling.

More: Don't buy your Pixel at Verizon

Want to know more?

Be sure to peek at our review of both the Pixel and Pixel XL for the full rundown on Google's two new smartphones. Let us know which one you're bringing home in the comments!

See at Google

Google Pixel + Pixel XL

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1 month ago

Grab Wileyfox's Swift 2 Plus for just £149 in the UK

0

Snapdragon 430, 3GB RAM, and 32GB storage for £149.

UK startup Wileyfox is running a decent sale on this year's Swift 2 Plus, selling the phone for £149 on Amazon UK, £70 off of the retail price of the handset. Wileyfox is also bundling a one-time screen replacement service as well as an official case at no additional cost.

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1 month ago

Google Pixel review: Jerry's opinion

152

Not enough words have been written about the Google Pixel. At least not by me

The Pixel is one of the phones on a very short list of candidates for a place in my pocket and I've taken my time to decide how much I love or hate it after relying on it for a little while. We don't always get that luxury and each of us has based an opinion too early on something because we had to. Sometimes this job wants to paint you into a corner that way. Most everyone wrote a really glowing review for the product launch — including Alex, who I witnessed bust his ass to get it done on time while on a plane to China. But I didn't have to put my neck out this time.

I agreed with everyone during that initial break-in period where everything is shiny and new. I still mostly do weeks later. The good far outweighs the bad when it comes down to the things I want when I get a new phone. Have a look and see how much you agree or disagree with me. Maybe it can help you decide if you're thinking about getting one.

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1 month ago

Honor 8 now on sale for just £299 in the UK

8

The Honor 8 is a great buy for under £300.

As part of Black Friday, the Honor 8 is receiving a £70 discount in the UK. The phone is now available for £299 until November 28. The first 1,000 customers to pick up the phone at a discounted price will get three months of premium insurance for free.

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2 months ago

HTC Desire 10 Pro with FHD display, Helio P10 SoC lands in India for ₹26,490

4

It's time to stand out.

HTC has launched the Desire 10 Pro in India, with the phone all set to be available in retail stores starting December 15. HTC has also announced that the global variant of the Bolt — the HTC 10 evo — will make its debut in India before the end of the year.

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