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1 month ago

Pre-ordered the HTC 10? You'll receive a 'small token of appreciation' from HTC shortly

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HTC is sending out emails to customers that have pre-ordered the HTC 10, stating that they will receive a "small token of appreciation" from the company for purchasing the handset.

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1 month ago

Get the Samsung Galaxy J3 2016 from Verizon for $110 without a contract

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Verizon Wireless is now selling the 2016 edition of the Samsung Galaxy J3 for $109.99 if customers sign up for one of the carrier's pre-paid plans.

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1 month ago

Best tempered glass screen protectors for the HTC 10 (so far)

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HTC 10

Scratches, and pits, and chips, oh my! Get a screen protector!

Tempered glass is about four times stronger than regular (annealed) glass, making it an ideal choice for screen protectors. Rather than shattering into jagged and potentially harmful shards, it breaks into small, relatively harmless bits. So, if you have a tempered glass screen protector on your HTC 10 and, for whatever reason, it breaks, the bits won't scratch up your screen.

It can be difficult to figure out which screen protector is the right one for your HTC 10, which is why we've rounded up some of the best available.

HotCool

HotCool's tempered glass screen protector is tough to withstand big time abrasion without getting scratched, scuffed, or pitted, while maintaining all of the HTC 10's screen sensitivity. It cuts down the glare on your screen, giving the impression of sharper images and clearer text, since light isn't messing with your view.

There is a rounded design so that it doesn't block the front camera and other important sensors on the front of your phone, so keep in mind that all of the glass on your screen isn't covered, though those spots are minimal and shouldn't really affect the overall protection.

See at Amazon

Safodo

Safodo's protector is right up there with HotCool's and offers a lifetime replacement warranty, so that if your protector starts to peel off your HTC 10 (as it inevitably will), they'll replace it for free.

These ones come in a two-pack and are incredibly clear, which means you'll sometimes look at screen and wonder if you actually put one on or not. That means that there isn't much of an anti-glare factor involved, so if you like the look of your HTC 10 the way it is, then you'll like this screen protector.

The cutouts for the light sensor, front camera, and home button are all precise, so the only issue will be putting it on correctly the first time!

See at Amazon

Mr. Shield

Mr. Shield, that's his name. That name again is Mr. Shield. Offering a lifetime replacement warranty and two to a pack, Mr. Shield throws ultra-thin into the mix as well. These tempered glass screen protectors are 0.3 millimeters thick, which means you'll have optimum sensitivity and high definition at all times.

Again, the cutouts are all accurate and the rounded edges means you won't slice your thumbs on the edges where your protector ends.

See at Amazon

Supershieldz

With so many phones now having curved screens, it's becoming increasingly difficult to find a screen protector that doesn't suffer from the "halo effect" where it starts to peel up all around the edges of your phone.

Supershieldz, like other screen protector manufacturers, makes their protector a little smaller than the actual screen size, so that you're not getting that ugly lifting at the edge — your protector actually stays on your phone (apparently a key factor in screen protection–who knew?!).

Just like the other tempered glass screen protectors in our roundup, Supershieldz maintains and slightly enhances the high definition of your HTC 10's screen, while also maintaining all of the touch sensitivity.

See at Amazon

Omoton

Omoton claims to have the thinnest tempered glass screen protector in the world, at 0.26 millimeters thick. That's a whole 0.04 of a millimeter thinner than the rest!

All that means is that Omoton offers a crystal clear protector that won't hinder any of your HTC 10's sensitivity and won't affect the resolution of your screen in the slightest. It also claims to be fingerprint-resistant and uses an adhesive that promises not to leave any bubbles during installation.

See at Amazon

G-Color

G-Color provides another great oleophobic option, which means you shouldn't have to deal with smudges or fingerprints with the screen protector applied. As with all the other tempered glass screen protectors, you'll get great scratch protection for your HTC 10, and should be a quick and easy bubble-free installation.

It's all backed by G-Color's no-hassle lifetime replacement warranty, so you can buy with confidence.

See at Amazon

Keep in mind

Most tempered glass screen protector manufacturers will claim that their products are rated "9H" on the pencil hardness scale, which is a way of measuring the durability of a particular coating. "9H" refers to how hard the pencil lead (graphite) is. Something that is rated 9H means that the hardest pencil lead out there won't leave a permanent mark. That doesn't say much about the material's resistance to dents or pits.

Tl;dr? Don't pay any attention to this 9H rating; it's virtually meaningless.

HTC 10

HTC Verizon

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1 month ago

Xiaomi Mi Max shows up at TENAA with 6.4-inch FHD display, 4000mAh battery

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The Xiaomi Mi Max is all set to make its debut on May 10, and after an image of the phone leaked earlier this week, we're now treated to a TENAA listing that gives us an idea as to what to expect when it comes to the specs.

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1 month ago

Best cases for the HTC 10 (so far)

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HTC 10 Ice View

HTC's new flagship is handsomely designed. Protect it from bumps and scratches.

Like any responsible phone owner, you're probably considering a case for your HTC 10. It's a brand new phone and you want to keep it as pristine as possible for as long as possible.

With a new phone, it can be hard to find a good case because not everyone is jumping onboard the new phone train, so reviews are limited. For the most part, we're seeing TPU cases galore, but there are a few rubber and wallet cases and there'll likely be many more to come upon the phone's release.

We've rounded up the best cases (so far) for your gorgeous new HTC 10 that'll hopefully keep it looking like new until the HTC 11 comes out!

HTC Ice View

HTC Ice View

We'll start with the coolest case you can buy for your HTC 10, which is HTC's own Ice View. With the One M9, HTC had the Dot View to give us a peek at what's happening on the phone. Ice View adds more detail to match the 10's cleaned-up design.

The flip cover allows you to interact with your phone in so many ways that some people might not even need to lift it. You can take photos, read texts, control volume and music, turn on the flashlight, and tons more. Plus, the Ice View supports third party notifications like Instagram, Google+, and more.

If you struggle with covering up such a pretty phone but still want it protected, you might as well cover it up with a case that's super cool and offer a ton of functionality on top of that protection.

See at HTC


Cimo Premium Slim Fit

Cimo Premium Slim Fit

A great standard for anyone who want a simple, minimal case that offers solid protection without breaking the bank, Cimo does it again. It's got a tactile, satisfying grippy feeling and leaves all the essential ports and buttons open.

The beveled front edge leaves you worry free when leaving your HTC 10 facedown and the slim design means no unnecessary bulk in your pocket. If you're looking for a case just because you know it's the right thing to do, then Cimo is a solid place to start.

See at Amazon


Tauri Premium Ultra Slim

Tauri Premium Ultra Slim

Tauri is all about the TPU case and they do it quite well. This is yet another offer that won't add much bulk to your HTC 10, but will help it feel solid and protected. A soft shell like this is shock absorbent and won't slip out of your hands. Tauri offers the Ultra Slim in a few different colors, so you can grab one to match your style, while remaining minimal.

The Premium Ultra Slim is quite flexible, so putting it on and taking it off your HTC 10 will be easy peasy, but try not to take it off too much because it could be come a little loose due to stretching. Also consider that, when buying the lighter gray case, you may notice a little bit of yellowing over time, since that's what happens to TPU when it absorbs sunlight.

See at Amazon


Vinve Folio

Vinve Folio

Looking for a folio case that doubles as a stand for your HTC 10? Check out Vinve's Folio case made of PU leather. It's simple, but offers a cover for your screen without having to fiddle with a finicky screen protector (which don't fit many new phones due to their curved screens).

The flip cover folds back on the spine to become a handy stand for hands-free video-watching, reading, or video-calling. The case is cut well, so that all the important buttons and ports are available without feeling like you're leaving your phone open to damage. The leather texture also feels great and won't slip.

See at Amazon


Love Ying Crystal Clear Ultra

Love Ying Crystal Clear Ultra

Another great TPU cover that offers minimal bulk with cushioned shock absorbency is the Love Ying Crystal Clear. Like Tauri, Love Ying offers as view different colors to match your style; theirs are a little more vibrant and playful.

The cover is raised both on the front and the back, so you're not putting your HTC 10 down right on its screen or right on the camera lens, which is a nice feature if you happen to drop it flat. It's dust and scratch resistant and fits like a glove.

As with other TPU cases, just be aware that your case may yellow over time thanks to the Sun. Also be careful putting it on your HTC 10 and taking it off too much, since it might stretch and stop fitting so well. Other than that, it's a great way to protect your phone without adding a ton of bulk or breaking the bank.

See at Amazon

What do you think?

When you get your HTC 10, let us know which case is your favorite by sounding off in the comments below!

HTC 10

HTC Verizon

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1 month ago

Marshmallow update heads out to Xperia Z2, Z3 and Z3 Compact in Canada

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1 month ago

Snag a refurbished 32GB Nexus 5 for $140

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The Nexus 5 may be growing long in the tooth, but it's still worth checking out if you know what you're getting into.

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1 month ago

Unlocked HTC 10 pre-orders are now shipping in the U.S.

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According to the official HTC USA Twitter account, unlocked HTC 10 pre-orders are now starting to ship out to customers.

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1 month ago

The ultra-rugged Kyocera DuraForce XD makes its way to T-Mobile on May 11 for $449

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The ultra-rugged Kyocera DuraForce XD will be available to T-Mobile customers starting May 11 for $449. If you are harsh on your phones, or work in an environment that puts your phone at risk daily, this may be the one for you. Featuring a large 5.7-inch display, the phone is IP68 water and dustproof. You can leave the phone in up to six feet of water for 30 minutes, and it will still function properly afterwards.

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1 month ago

Cricket Wireless to sell the LG Stylo 2 on May 13 for $170

10

AT&T's no-contract subsidiary Cricket Wireless will begin selling the LG Stylo 2 starting on May 13. The 5.7-inch smartphone will be priced at $169.99.

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1 month ago

Lenovo Z1 will make its way to India on May 10

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Lenovo has announced that it will launch the ZUK Z1 in India on May 10. From the image below, the phone will feature Lenovo's branding, followed by a "powered by ZUK" moniker.

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1 month ago

Marshmallow update hitting Xperia Z2, Z3, Z3 Compact, and Z2 Tablet in India

9

Sony is rolling out the Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow update to a slew of phones in India, with the Xperia Z2, Xperia Z3, and Xperia Z3 Compact receiving the update. The Xperia Z2 Tablet is also picking up the OTA update, which is now going out to consumers in the country.

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1 month ago

Everything you need to know about 4G LTE in Canada

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The science of wireless

It's pretty well understood that 4G LTE is faster than 3G. Millions of Canadians have upgraded from phones that used to operate on 3G, or third-generation wireless networks, to LTE, which is considered the fourth generation.

In addition to faster data speeds, LTE improves upon previous generations in a number of ways, including spectrum efficiency, latency, cost of deployment, and more.

What is 4G LTE?

In Canada, LTE has rolled out to nearly every carrier operating across the country (with the exception of Wind Mobile, but we'll come to that). When referring to LTE, we're referring to the type of signal that connects the phone in your pocket to the tower operated by your cellphone provider. Both of those pieces need to be in play for you to receive ultra-fast LTE speeds; if your smartphone supports LTE but you're in a part of Canada where the cell towers have not yet been upgraded to LTE, you'll likely see the symbol change to H+ near the top right of your phone, which denotes that you've dropped down to 3G speeds.

In Canada, LTE has rolled out to nearly every carrier operating across the country... with one major exception.

Practically every phone sold on the Canadian market today supports LTE in some form. When connecting to your phone provider's towers, the network provider (Rogers, Telus, Bell) tells your phone that it wants to connect on a particular frequency, or band, which transmits the wireless signal on particular wavelength. You may have heard some people use terms like "AWS" or "700Mhz", both of which refer to particular frequencies and bands that Canadian smartphones connect to. (While they're technically different, I'm going to use the term "band" and "frequency" interchangeably in this explainer. A band is merely a combination of frequencies, determined by the 3GPP, a body that standardizes radio frequency combinations throughout the world.)

While it's not particularly important to know the specifics of each band, most smartphones don't just connect on one: they use a combination of low (700Mhz) and high (AWS, or 1700/2100Mhz)) to ensure that they can glean the most coverage and speed throughout the day, depending on your location. Generally, the lower the frequency, the longer that signal can travel, but at a slower speed; the higher the frequency, the greater the potential throughput, but at an expense of distance and penetration.

Which bands do Canadian carriers use?

Nearly every Canadian carrier uses a combination of different bands to achieve consistently good LTE performance.

The four main LTE bands in use in Canada right now are:

  • Band 12/17 (700Mhz)
  • Band 13 (700Mhz)
  • Band 4 (1700/2100Mhz)
  • Band 7 (2500/2600Mhz)

Some carriers, such as Bell and Telus, have refarmed part of their aging 3G networks for the purposes of LTE transmission, which include:

  • Band 5 (850Mhz)
  • Band 2 (1900Mhz)

Other carriers, such as Bell and Telus, use small amounts of other frequencies, such as Band 29, just for downloads, so Canadians can get their video with no buffering.

Here's how the main three Canadian network providers stand when it comes to LTE:

Network Bands Rogers Band 12 (700Mhz), Band 4 (AWS), Band 7 (2600Mhz)
Band 13 (700Mhz) Bell Band 17 (700Mhz), Band 7 (2600MHz), Band 4 (AWS)
Band 2 (1900Mhz), Band 5 (850Mhz), Band 29 (700Mhz), Band 13 (700Mhz) Telus Band 17 (700Mhz), Band 7 (2600MHz), Band 4 (AWS)
Band 2 (1900Mhz), Band 5 (850Mhz), Band 29 (700Mhz), Band 13 (700Mhz) Videotron Band 4 (AWS), Band 13 (700Mhz) MTS Band 4 (AWS), Band 13 (700Mhz) SaskTel Band 4 (AWS), Band 13 (700Mhz) Eastlink Band 4 (AWS), Band 13 (700Mhz)

Just how much spectrum?

Every carrier wants more spectrum. That's the takeaway from half a dozen government-run spectrum auctions and dozens of regulatory-scrutinized exchanges over the past few years. Acquisitions, such as Telus's purchase of Public Mobile, Rogers' pursuit of Mobilicity, and Shaw's blockbuster bid for Wind Mobile had more to do with spectrum than the value of their cumulative client base.

While the story of Canada's spectrum is longer than this article, know this: until 2008, when the government set aside a certain amount of AWS spectrum for what would become Mobilicity, Wind Mobile, Videotron, Public Mobile and Eastlink, almost all of the country's wireless waves were controlled by Rogers, Bell and Telus.

Today, that is still the case (and, increasingly with consolidation, returning to those heady days of the mid-2000s), but the Canadian government has committed to ensuring a fourth competitor in each retail wireless market.

The Canadian government has committed to ensuring a fourth competitor in each retail wireless market.

Since that AWS auction, the government has auctioned off airwaves in three additional key bands: 700Mhz; 2500Mhz; and AWS-3. The two former frequencies are largely already deployed, increasing LTE capacity in the high and low end.

The latter, AWS-3, has yet to be deployed anywhere in Canada, and it is the one band, Band 66, on which much of the country's wireless future rests. That is because when the government auctioned it, it set aside a large portion for Wind to scoop up a bargain-basement prices. When Shaw purchased Wind late last year, it snuck into the spectrum party without much investment. (Though the sticklers will surely point out that Shaw purchased a large swath of spectrum during the original 2008 AWS auction, and ended up selling it to Rogers in 2013 after deciding not to enter the wireless market on its own. Yes, confusing!)

Suffice it to say, Rogers, Bell and Telus cumulatively hold many hundreds of megahertz of spectrum, both "legacy" — Band 2 (1900Mhz) and Band 5 (850Mhz) — and "modern" (AWS, 700Mhz, 2500, AWS-3). But because they hold some 90% of the wireless market share, they are always looking to acquire more, both in anticipation of future demand, and present constraints.

Back when Telus and Bell were building their respective LTE networks, they decided to continue a network and tower-sharing agreement established during their time as nascent HSPA+ 3G operators. Competing against Rogers, which was the only GSM-based provider for much of the 2000's, Bell and Telus essentially split the country in two, building a nationwide network with Telus taking the brunt of the infrastructure costs in the West, and Bell in the East. That stands to this day, though the specifics are highly confidential. But when one refers to nationwide LTE networks, there are two: Rogers, and Bell / Telus.

Talking LTE-Advanced

While the definition of LTE-Advanced is more than a little bit fluid, according to the 3GPP standards body, the specification focuses on higher capacity, mainly through carrier aggregation, multiple antenna devices (MIMO), and relay nodes.

Most Canadian carriers support LTE-Advanced in one way or another. Whereas the earliest LTE releases limited speeds to between 75Mbps and 100Mbps, LTE-Advanced utilizes a number of improvements in Release 10 and 11 of the LTE standard to reach speeds approaching 1Gbps.

Category 6 and Category 9 LTE

The baseline speeds for LTE-Advanced were achieved with between 15 and 20Mhz of deployed spectrum, compared to between 5 and 10Mhz for regular LTE.

Most network providers want to gain as much so-called contiguous spectrum as possible — that is, blocks of 5 or 10Mhz that are right next to one another, so they can form singular large blocks of up to 20Mhz at one time. The wider a channel, the faster that connection can perform; current smartphones, under the latest Category 6 LTE specification, can achieve speeds of up to 300Mbps with the right combination. But the most recent devices, like the Samsung Galaxy S7, can access Category 9 LTE, which is capable of speeds up to 450Mbps using tri-carrier aggregation (see below).

The problem with contiguous spectrum is that it is relatively uncommon, especially in Canada. While Rogers does own large swaths of contiguous AWS and 2500Mhz spectrum, Bell and Telus have been forced to use another method to achieve LTE-Advanced speeds.

Carrier Aggregation

Today, most carriers achieve incredibly high LTE speeds using carrier aggregation. Think of carrier aggregation as a bowl that is trying to fill with candy as quickly as possible. If you only have one pair of hands digging into the candy packet, it can only gain so quickly. But with three pairs of hands, each dipping into the packet at varying times and speeds, the bowl can be filled in no time.

At its core, carrier aggregation combines spectrum from various frequencies. In Canada, most carriers achieve high LTE speeds with dual-carrier aggregation, which combines two frequencies, normally one high and one low. A common combination is 700Mhz and AWS, used most often by Rogers.

But Bell and Telus have achieved triple carrier aggregation, which combines three channels. The most common combination that I've experienced is Band 2 (1900Mhz), Band 4 (AWS) and Band 17 (700Mhz). Combining 20Mhz, 10Mhz, and 15Mhz of the aforementioned bands gives us 45Mhz to work with, resulting in potential download speeds of 335Mbps.

VoLTE

At its core, VoLTE, or Voice over LTE, moves the voice call from slower, lower-bandwidth 3G networks to the same IP-based network used to transmit data. This results in much better voice quality with less compression; faster call connections, from seven seconds to under two; and the ability to retain an LTE connection while on a call, for faster browsing. The standard also supports video calls, though very few phones actually have that native ability.

Of all the Canadian networks, Rogers, Bell and Telus have rolled out Voice Over LTE to some extent, with an expanding footprint and device portfolio every few months. Because Rogers began its rollout first, it currently has the highest number of supported devices.

The future of LTE in Canada

Canadian carriers have traditionally been early adopters of new wireless technology, such as LTE-Advanced and VoLTE. While Rogers, Telus and Bell claim that their LTE networks are approaching the 97-plus percent coverage of their existing 3G HSPA+ networks, there is one company many Canadians are hoping will bring down the cost of monthly cellphone ownership, that has yet to launch its LTE network.

Wind Mobile, which is now owned by Shaw Communications, plans to launch an LTE network in late 2016 or early 2017, pending the availability of devices supporting the burgeoning AWS-3 specification. Unified under Band 66, AWS-3 and AWS-1 will co-exist on future smartphones and tablets, but until those devices hit the market, Wind Mobile can't realistically make an impact.

At that time, Wind will begin refarming some of its AWS-1 spectrum, which at the moment exclusively broadcasts 3G signal, to LTE, allowing existing devices to connect.

In the interim, Rogers, Bell and Telus will continue trying to convince Canadians that higher prices are justified for the consistent quality, speed, and coverage they receive. Regional providers, such as Videotron, Eastlink, SaskTel and others, will focus on their limited coverage areas while working with national incumbents to mimic national networks through reciprocal roaming agreements.

Questions about LTE in Canada? Leave them in the comments and we'll get to them in a future column.

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The Galaxy Note 6 could enable an awesome new Gear VR experience

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Gear VR

The possibility of USB Type-C in the Galaxy Note 6 has huge implications for the next generation of Samsung's Gear VR.

For all it's done to act as a gateway drug for virtual reality, smartphone-based VR has been pretty crude thus far. Even the best mobile VR experience out there — Samsung's Gear VR — involves fiddling with focus sliders before immersing yourself in a decidedly low-res world.

But that quaint, blurry experience may get a huge upgrade later this year. Reports have surfaced in recent days suggesting the Galaxy Note 6 will feature USB Type-C connectivity — and that presents some tantalizing possibilities for the next Gear VR.

Let's take a closer look.

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Nextbit Robin drops to $299 on Amazon from May 4-10

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Nextbit Robin

Amazon will see the Nextbit Robin for $100 off the regular price.

Just a week after it first popped up on Amazon, the Nextbit Robin will be available on through the online retailer with a significant discount. From midnight PDT May 4 until May 10, Amazon.com has the device up for sale at $299, down from the regular $399 retail price. That's the same as the original Kickstarter early adopter price for the minty, cloud-connected handset.

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