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1 month ago

HTC 10 camera patch: Updated impressions and sample shots

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HTC 10 camera

HTC makes some welcome tweaks to an already great smartphone camera.

Update: The camera patch is now rolling out to unlocked U.S. HTC 10 devices as well.

The HTC 10 has a pretty good camera — one of the best in an Android phone, and certainly HTC's finest to date, as we discovered in reviewing the phone. But as the phone's release date approaches for many of us, HTC has pushed out an over-the-air update which, among other things, provides several camera-related enhancements. Auto HDR tuning has been improved, HTC says, along with sharpness in outdoor and low-light situations. And the laser autofocus UI has been tweaked to stop it firing error messages quite so often. (It really didn't want you getting too close to it.)

So just how does the HTC 10 perform with the latest camera tweaks? We've spent the past day getting reacquainted with the HTC 10 camera, and you'll find our updated sample shots down below.

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1 month ago

LG G5, Galaxy Note 5, Galaxy S6 edge+ get updates from Verizon

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The LG G5, Galaxy Note 5 and Galaxy S6 edge+ are all receiving small updates from Verizon. Each update brings a different set of features, and fixes. We've got security updates, Visual Voicemail enhancements and more.

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1 month ago

Nextbit Robin is now up for grabs for $299 at Amazon

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Update: Today, May 10, is the last day to save $100 on the Nextbit Robin at Amazon. If you are interested, be sure to place your order today so you can take advantage of the savings.

Nextbit Robin is now available from Amazon for $299, a $100 discount off of the phone's $399 retail price. The discount is valid on both the Mint and Midnight color variants of the phone, and is valid until May 10.

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1 month ago

Xiaomi unveils Mi Max phablet: 6.44-inch FHD display, 4GB RAM, 4850mAh battery

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At a media event in Beijing, Xiaomi unveiled the Mi Max, its largest phone yet. The phablet comes with a 6.44-inch Full HD display, Snapdragon 650/652 SoC, 4GB of RAM, up to 128GB storage, microSD slot, and a 4850mAh battery.

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1 month ago

Cyanogen OS-powered Lenovo Z1 launches in India for ₹13,499

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The Lenovo Z1 is now official in India for ₹13,499. The ZUK-powered phone made its debut last August, but an exclusivity arrangement between Micromax's Yu Televentures and Cyanogen OS prevented Lenovo from launching the phone in India. The exclusivity deal is no longer valid, which means that we're going to see international vendors launching phones running Cyanogen OS in the country, starting with the Z1.

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1 month ago

Buy an LG G5 from Verizon and get another one for free

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Looking to buy two high-end phones on Verizon? You're in luck, as the carrier is running a deal on the LG G5 that allows you to get the second phone for free. The promotion is active for new as well as existing customers, and is valid until May 11.

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1 month ago

Alleged OnePlus 3 shown off in leaked images

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We haven't seen much of the OnePlus 3, but with the phone rumored to make its debut sometime later this month, photos of the purported handset are starting to trickle out of China. Today's leak comes by way of Weibo, and shows off the front and back of what's alleged to be the OnePlus 3.

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1 month ago

Is Wind Mobile worth it?

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Saving money with Wind Mobile comes with some caveats.

Where I live, there are two choices for mobile service: fast but expensive; and slow, but far less expensive. The former category dominated by three companies, Rogers, Bell, and Telus, along with its myriad flanker brands like Fido, Virgin Mobile, and Koodo. The latter is comprised by a single provider — Wind Mobile — on which many Canadians increasingly rest their hopes for a low-cost alternative to the Big Three.

The city is Toronto, and like many large cities across the world it contends with a density problem. Wireless carriers have to deploy thousands of antennas on rooftops and sides of buildings on wireless spectrum that is increasingly expensive and difficult to obtain. The Big Three control some 90 percent of the wireless market share in Canada, but there is a clear understanding between the companies that competition does not extend to downward pressure on price.

That leaves Wind Mobile, a potential bright spot in the Canadian mobile sector, as the last hope for low(er) prices in the five regions it operates. But it also begs a big question, and one that I am asked more often that perhaps any other in this job: Is Wind Mobile worth it?

What is Wind Mobile?

Without getting too caught in the weeds, we need to go back a few years — back to when the Canadian government decided that it wanted to pursue a strategy of allowing smaller wireless carriers, dubbed "new entrants," to compete in the mobile space.

It did so by setting aside a small amount of wireless spectrum in the 2008 AWS auction for these new entrants to bid on. Wind Mobile was one of the successful bidders, alongside Mobilicity, Public Mobile, Eastlink and Videotron. While the latter two remained set on regional dominance, and are still around today as a result, Wind, Mobilicity and Public all set their sights on pseudo-national wireless coverage, offering service in big cities like Toronto, Ottawa, Vancouver, Edmonton and Calgary.

Wind's network is built on previous-generation 3G technology, so it's slower than the LTE networks offered by Canada's Big Three.

In the ensuing years, it was Wind Mobile — through its consistent message of unlimited data, generous subsidies through its WindTab program, and a great relationship with all of the Android OEMs, especially Samsung — that generated the most goodwill among consumers. It was also the most steadfast about staying independent, working with external partners (and affecting change in Canada's antiquated corporate foreign ownership rules in the process) to raise money and stay solvent.

As Public Mobile was scooped up in 2013 by Telus, and Mobilicity in mid-2015 by Rogers, Wind Mobile seemed to be the last remaining independent holdout — until a surprise announcement in December of last year when we learned Wind would be purchased by Shaw Communications for $1.6 billion CAD. Now that the deal is closed, Wind Mobile, though still run independently by new CEO Alek Krstajic, is ostensibly the wireless arm of Calgary-based Shaw Communications, destined to be included in bundles alongside home internet and cable television indefinitely.

Where does Wind Mobile operate?

Wind Mobile operates in three provinces:

Ontario

  • Ottawa
  • Toronto
  • Mississauga
  • Kitchener/Waterloo
  • Niagara
  • Hamilton
  • Barrie
  • Peterborough
  • Whitby / Oshawa
  • Guelph
  • London
  • Windsor

Alberta

  • Edmonton
  • Calgary

British Columbia

  • Vancouver
  • Surrey
  • Burnaby
  • Richmond
  • Coquitlam
  • Abbotsford

Outside those so-called "Home" zones, Wind users have access to partner networks, where they can make calls, send texts, and use 3G data at per-MB costs. Some plans include Away zone bundles, but they will always be billed separately to Home zone usage.

These Away zones comprise the remaining parts of Canada not covered by Wind's own network, so you won't have to worry about lack of coverage while traveling — just how costly that coverage will be.

How does Wind's network compare to the Big Three?

Wind Mobile's network is 3G-only, based on the HSPA+ standard. It operates on a single frequency, Band 4 (AWS-1), which is optimized for bandwidth over coverage.

In plain speak, here's what it means: Wind's network is built on previous-generation 3G technology, so it doesn't have the spectral efficiency and high potential speed of LTE. While the Big Three's networks increasingly offer download speeds approaching 150Mbps, Wind Mobile's network tops out at a theoretical 42.2Mbps, and is often significantly slower than that.

Moreover, Wind only operates on a single frequency, AWS-1, which is not optimized for coverage. What this means is that signals sent to phones on the Wind network occasionally have trouble penetrating through thick walls, or reaching basements. The company has been doing a lot of work to fill coverage gaps, and things have improved significantly in the past couple of years, but dead spots are still an issue in many parts of the GTA.

Future upgrades

There is good news on the horizon, though: Wind is systematically replacing all of its old network hardware with newer, faster equipment provided by Nokia. Upgrades have already been completed in Vancouver and Calgary, and are moving eastward. These improvements have positively affected coverage, reliability and speed.

Towards LTE

Toward the end of 2016, Wind Mobile plans to launch an LTE network based on AWS-3 spectrum it acquired in one of the government's most recent auctions. Combined with some of the AWS-1 spectrum Wind plans to repurpose for LTE, the company should be in a good place to compete with Rogers, Bell, and Telus in its home markets. However, because the AWS-3 standard is still relatively new, there are no supported devices yet; Wind will have to wait until at least the beginning of 2017 for new products to launch with support for Band 66, which unifies AWS-1 and AWS-3 under a single standard.

How do Wind's prices compare to the Big Three?

This is where things get compelling. Wind Mobile typically charges significantly less for data access than the Big Three.

Rogers, for example, charges $125 per month for unlimited nationwide calling, texting and 9GB of sharable data, as long as you bring your own phone — it's $135 if you buy one on a contract through Rogers.

Wind Mobile offers its so-called Everywhere Plan, which includes 10GB of Home zone data and 1GB of Away zone data (which includes U.S. roaming), along with unlimited Canada- and U.S.-wide calling and texting, for $60 per month.

Wind Mobile typically charges significantly less for data access than the Big Three.

On a sheer price-per-gigabyte scale, nothing touches Wind Mobile in Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia. In regions like Manitoba and Saskatchewan that have regional incumbents, the Big Three charge significantly less than they do elsewhere, but in the provinces Wind operates, the Big Three don't consider it a big enough threat to warrant lowering their prices.

Should you go with Wind Mobile?

Wind Mobile is a very different beast than the Big Three — or even its flanker brands, such as Fido, Koodo and Virgin Mobile. It doesn't offer LTE, nor are its 3G speeds as fast as Rogers, Telus, or Bell.

What it does offer is decent coverage in certain cities with occasional but frustrating pockets of poor service. Its prices are also significantly cheaper, especially for data, which is an increasingly desirable commodity.

But while you're spending less, you're also getting less for that money — the Big Three have nationwide, ultra-fast LTE networks that are consistently fast throughout the country. Depending on your travel and coverage needs, that may be a deal breaker.

The best candidates for people to move to Wind Mobile are:

  • People who tend to stay within their Home zones most of the time
  • People who don't require ultra-fast LTE download speeds
  • People who tend to do a lot of mobile video streaming (at lower quality)
  • People who want to use cellular data to upload a lot of photos and videos in the background

If your usage pattern fits within those margins, you should be fine with Wind Mobile.

What are your experiences with Wind Mobile? Let us know in the comments below!

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1 month ago

Honor 5X comes to Canada as the Huawei GR5

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The Honor 5X, which arrived in the U.S. at the end of January for $199 USD, is now available in Canada.

Because Huawei is intent on building its own brand in Canada — and because outside of the Nexus 6P, there is very little Huawei handset presence in the U.S. — the phone is known as the Huawei GR5 north of the border. Available at Rogers for $0 on a 2-year term, or $375 outright, the phone features a 5.5-inch 1080p display, a Qualcomm Snapdragon 616 processor, 2GB of RAM, a 13MP rear camera, and a 3,000mAh battery.

Aside from the core specs, the Honor 5X Huawei GR5 is one of the few devices at its price point with an all-metal build and a fingerprint scanner, similar in performance to the more expensive Nexus 6P. Highlighted as one of Rogers' "Staff Picks", the Huawei GR5 should be one of the better low-cost Android phones to come to Canada this spring.

See at Rogers

Honor 5X

Newegg Amazon Honor

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1 month ago

LG G5 vs. iPhone 6s Plus: Android versus Apple

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It's about more than operating systems.

When it comes to comparing the LG G5 against the big competitors out there, we can't forget to pit it up against the iPhone 6s Plus. We'll be seeing if LG's latest big phone has the chops to go up and against Apple's best. We'll be taking a look at design, software, and the camera, so that you can see which phone is really worth the money.

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1 month ago

Motorola may be stepping into the modular phone game with the Moto X this year

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According to a new report, Motorola's rumored upcoming Moto X may follow in the footsteps of the LG G5 and go modular. Sources are saying there are six modules, called Amps, that can bring anything from stereo speakers to a bigger battery and even a pico projector. This report follows up on a recent leak which showed off various renders of what is said to be this year's Moto X.

From VentureBeat's report:

Motorola has at least six modules, called "Amps," planned for launch, including a simple colored backplate that ships free with both handsets. The more interesting ones will be, of course, sold separately, both from Moto as well as third-party manufacturers. The first-party modules available at launch allegedly include stereo speakers; a battery pack; a camera grip with flash and optical zoom; a pico projector; and a rugged cover with wide angle lens attachment.

Lenovo recently announced that it would be hosting its second annual tech world conference on June 9. In the announcement, Lenovo snuck in the phrase:

Lenovo will also announce new mobile technology designed by Motorola that will dramatically change the way people think about and use their most personal devices - in a snap.

This could point towards the modularity of the phone, and how you can transform it from one thing to another in ways we couldn't before.

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1 month ago

3G and 4G coverage in the UK: Everything you need to know

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SIM cards

How to make sure your chosen network has you covered.

A smartphone is only as good as the data network it's connected to. And even if you live in a major city, speedy 3G and 4G service isn't always a given. So-called "not-spots" can hobble your phone, particularly if service is poor where you live or work.

Fortunately there are a bunch of options at your disposal for checking coverage before you sign a contract with any of Britain's major (or minor) operators. Read on for our breakdown of understanding 3G and 4G coverage in the UK.

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1 month ago

Samsung's budget Galaxy J5 2016 and J7 2016 debut in India

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Samsung has launched the Galaxy J5 2016 and the Galaxy J7 2016 in India. The Galaxy J5 is available in the country for ₹13,990, with the Galaxy J7 debuting at ₹15,990. Both come with Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow out of the box, offer 13MP cameras at the back and 5MP front shooters, and feature a metal frame around the sides. The phones will be up for sale starting later today on Flipkart.

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1 month ago

Kyocera DuraForce XD mini review: A rugged phone that doesn't break the bank

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Kyocera is no stranger to making rugged smartphones, and its latest offering, the DuraForce XD, shows just that.

Rugged smartphones are often times in a league of their own, and odds are unless you have a specific need for one you aren't going to end up walking out of a retail store with one as your next phone. For those in the construction, trucking, and other more physically demanding fields, rugged smartphones are a no-brainer as the added protection is often times a necessity, not a want.

By nature, rugged smartphones are on the larger side, and generally much thicker than other smartphones, but that is to keep them protected. In the past, the trade-off to getting a rugged smartphone was general specs. You are looking at lower end specs on most of them, with the exception of Samsung's Galaxy Active line which is a high-end smartphone with added durability.

This time around Kyocera decided to push the limits of rugged smartphones a bit further, increasing the internal specs and offering an overall appealing package to those who need this type of smartphone.

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1 month ago

Oppo F1 Plus review: iPhone-esque, but Oppo's best yet

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Oppo F1 Plus

Oppo has seen massive growth in the last 12 months, and this is its best phone yet.

The quick take

Oppo is a name still alien to the smartphone masses in the West, but that hasn't stopped it from working hard in the East. It's been steadily putting out better and better phones in the last year or so, culminating in the F1 Plus — its best yet. It looks a bit too much like an iPhone for some tastes, and the software is a big departure from the Android many know and love. But there have been so many steps forward it's hard not to be impressed. If only it wasn't running Lollipop.

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