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2 months ago

The best heavy-duty data plans in the UK

33
UK SIMs

The biggest bundles for the data-hungry.

In the relatively short time since the first 4G networks launched in the UK, the way we use our phones has changed drastically. Faster networks make it easier to view rich websites, watch videos and stream music, which in turn means you can burn through a few gigabytes of data in no time.

That's why the major UK networks are offering bigger and bigger data bundles, with buckets in excess of 20GB becoming increasingly common. But it's not always easy to track down all the details, which is why we've done the legwork for you.

Let's take a look.

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2 months ago

Where to buy the Sony Xperia X, X Performance, XA and XA Ultra in the U.S.

29
Sony Xperia X Performance

The latest round of Sony phones are available in the U.S. — and they can get pricey.

The new Xperia X series covers a broad range of prices, and the only way you're going to get one is buying unlocked away from your carrier. Thankfully Sony has made the proper deals with several different retailers to have all four models — the X, X Performance, XA and XA Ultra — available in a wide variety of colors so you can have your pick from all of the options.

Here's where you can buy the Xperia X series of phones in the U.S. unlocked.

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2 months ago

Sprint kills off 'Galaxy Forever' upgrade program for Galaxy S7 edge

39

Sprint has quietly killed of its "Galaxy Forever" leasing option for the Samsung Galaxy S7 edge.

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2 months ago

The Galaxy S7 Active failed Consumer Reports' water test, twice

270

The Galaxy S7 Active is supposed to be able to withstand up to a half hour in water about 5 feet deep. It failed Consumer Reports' test. Twice. Here's what that means.

Nothing. That's what it means to me that the Samsung Galaxy S7 Active twice failed Consumer Reports' water immersion test. While that will come across as apologetic, it's simply the case. It matters not to me that Consumer Reports is a longstanding independent publication with the public's interest in mind. It matters not to me that it killed not one, but two phones.

Here's the gist:

Consumer Reports technicians placed a Galaxy S7 Active in a water tank pressurized to 2.12 pounds-per-square-inch, the equivalent of just under five feet of water, and set a timer for 30 minutes. When we removed the phone, the screen was obscured by green lines, and tiny bubbles were visible in the lenses of the front- and rear-facing cameras. The touchscreen wasn't responsive.

Following our standard procedure when a sample fails an immersion test, we submitted a second Galaxy S7 Active to the same test. That phone failed as well. After we removed it from the tank, the screen cycled on and off every few seconds, and moisture could be seen in the front and back camera lenses. We also noticed water in the slot holding the SIM card.

For a couple of days following the test, the screens of both phones would light up when the phones were plugged in, though the displays could not be read. The phones never returned to functionality.

That's obviously not good. But two phones does not a proper sample size make. And there's simply not enough information in CR's blog post to determine that there's some sort of manufacturing issue (which would be my guess, so long as we're making assumptions) or, worse, a design issue. Where did the phones come from? Were they manufactured and assembled at the same time, at the same facility? Why stop at two? Were all the other instructions followed?

As long as we're here, though, let's take another look at the legalese that we never bother to read when opening up our phones.

From Page i (which comes before Page 1) of the Galaxy S7 Active manual (pdf):

Note: Water-resistant and dustproof based on IP68 rating, which tests submersion up to 5.0 feet for up to 30 minutes.

Fair enough.

From Page 5:

Despite this classification, your device is not impervious to water damage in any situation. It is important that all compartments are closed tightly.

That's an important (and unfortunately necessary) piece of legalese that's not unique to the GS7 Active. This "waterproof" phone isn't necessarily waterproof. There are other caveats as well, such as exposing it to salt water or ionized water.

That certainly flies in the face of the perceived intent of the Galaxy S7 Active. Why have an underwater camera mode if you might kill the phone by taking it underwater, right? Why show it being used underwater? Why advertise it? Why have a water-resistant phone that might die if you use it in water?

Those are real questions to be asked. And real concerns when buying this phone. And, in fact, they're questions we asked in our testing of the GS7 Active.

From our Galaxy S7 Active review:

Our biggest concern has to do with where the glass meets the body. We got a good bit of sand lodged in there, and that worries us when it comes to future water resistance. There also were a few grains of sand around the physical buttons.

We also had a few instances after getting the phone wet in which the power button was misbehaving. But after thoroughly drying the phone, all is well. (That sort of thing isn't uncommon for IP68 devices, actually. And to be fair, skipping a phone across a tide pool isn't exactly intended use.)

You shouldn't actively torture the Galaxy S7 Active. That's a quick way to have something bad happen to your phone. But we have pretty good amount of confidence that this phone will stand up to anything stupid that someone might do to it. Basic falls and such. Quick dunks in water.

In any event, what we saw in our one phone is just that. What we saw in our single phone. And if we were to test a second phone, the results would be just that — the results from a second phone. Even if we were to test the exact same way both times, it still wouldn't be statistically significant, or even really scientific.

If a proper sample of Samsung Galaxy S7 Actives don't survive at the upper (or lower) end of the IP68 rating, then that's a bigger issue. But two tests just isn't enough to make that claim. At least not with any certainty.

Samsung Galaxy S7 Active

AT&T

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2 months ago

Check out the Alcatel Dawn at Boost Mobile and Virgin Mobile for $69

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Boost Mobile and Virgin Mobile have introduced a new budget phone from Alcatel, the Dawn. The 4G LTE phone runs Android 6.0 Marshmallow and is available for $69.99 without a contract.

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2 months ago

Galaxy S7, S7 edge now receiving July 1 security patch from T-Mobile

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T-Mobile is now pushing the July 1 security update to both the Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 edge. This time around, Google is offering two security patches, one dated July 1 and one dated July 5 which included a few extra things. While it would be nice to see Samsung pushing the July 5 update, it is still great to see the patches pushing out so quickly.

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2 months ago

OnePlus 3 update resumes after minor delay

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After a minor incident with the initial rollout of its first major over-the-air update, OnePlus has resumed the OxygenOS firmware for the OnePlus 3. The company noted that some people were having installation issues with OxygenOS 3.2.0, which was released on Tuesday, so it ceased the distribution in order to make the requisite fixes.

Now that those problems have been overcome, the company says it was able to find some "additional improvements," which it has included and bundled with the original features, and has released the whole as OxygenOS 3.2.1. Says OnePlus:

Rather than continuing that rollout, we're skipping right ahead to 3.2.1. If you've already updated to 3.2.0, this update includes some additional improvements. If you haven't, don't worry. This update includes all of the 3.2.0 improvements as well.

The changes include:

  • Fixed some notification issues (new in 3.2.1)
  • Addressed SIM recognition issue (new in 3.2.1)
  • Enabled sRGB mode in developer options.
  • Improved RAM management.
  • Improved GPS performance.
  • Enhanced audio playback quality.
  • Updated custom icon packs.
  • Improved camera quality/functionality.
  • Fixed some issues in Gallery.
  • Implemented latest Google security patches.
  • Fixed bugs in Clock/Music apps.

OnePlus says that the update, like the last one, is rolling out in stages, and may take a couple of days to hit every OnePlus 3 unit. If you've received it, let us know in the comments how it's working out for you!

OnePlus 3

OnePlus

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2 months ago

Nextbit may have just revealed a red variant of the Robin [update]

26

Update: Taking it all in stride, Nextbit gave us a little bit of extra information as to the legitimacy of an upcoming red Robin ... saying "there are no mistakes," with a jar of red paint spilled on a black phone.

Original story: During a recent Periscope announcement of its new picture Web Client Beta, the team at Nextbit had what appears to be a red variant of its Robin smartphone easily visible. We've already seen Nextbit do a limited edition version of the phone, and this could be one of those, or it could be something that the company plans to sell as a new option shortly.

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2 months ago

Where to buy the Moto G4, G4 Plus and G4 Play in the U.S.

17
Moto G4 Plus

The latest versions in the Moto G family are headed to the U.S.

After being unveiled in other areas around the world, folks stateside will soon be able to get their hands on the Moto G4 and its sibling the Moto G4 Plus. Later on in the year, we'll get the U.S. details on the launch of the Moto G4 Play as well.

Interested in picking up one of these low-cost high-performing phones? Here's where you can get 'em.

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2 months ago

Sony Xperia X Performance vs. Samsung Galaxy S7: Same price, different values

39
Xperia X Performance and Galaxy S7

If you have $700 burning a hole in your pocket, there are plenty of phones to spend it on.

Sony and Samsung, among others, have phones at the very top of their range that are vying to be the perfect device to drop several hundred dollars on. In this case, it's the Sony Xperia X Performance, and the Galaxy S7. Both are compact, powerful, feature-rich and very much flagship devices for their respective companies.

But for most of us, choosing a phone that's this expensive isn't a coin-toss sort of situation — there needs to be some serious thought about which one is best for your hard-earned money. The Xperia X performance was announced right alongside the Galaxy S7, but is now widely available — and that means it's time to see what $700 gets you in these two phones. Read on.

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2 months ago

5 things to look for in a budget Android phone

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Best cheap Android phones

There's a lot of cheap crap out there in the world of budget Android phones. Here are some pointers to help you avoid buying a dud.

Android smartphones have never been cheaper, and that's mainly a good thing. There are some real bargains out there, making the mobile web, apps and photography more accessible than ever.

But just as there are some great deals out there, there are also plenty of duds — phones that just aren't worth your money at any price. Navigating this mess of cheap Android phones can be tricky, so we've assembled a quick checklist of things to watch out for. Read on.

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2 months ago

Verizon's Moto Z Droid Edition launches July 14 in New York

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Motorola and Verizon have sent out invites for an event on July 14 in New York City. The event will reveal launch information, like pricing and release date for the Moto Z Droid Edition, and likely for its Moto Mods as well. This will be Motorola's first attempt at a modular-style phone so it will be interesting to see how the two handle its launch.

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2 months ago

Honor 5X Marshmallow update with EMUI 4.0 now rolling out

13

The Honor 5X is now receiving its Marshmallow update which also brings EMUI 4.0 along with it. As you'd expect, Marshmallow brings great new features like Doze, enhanced permission controls, Now on Tap and more to the phone, but that isn't all.

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2 months ago

Samsung Galaxy S7 edge Olympic Games Limited Edition on sale July 18

22

Samsung has officially announced the Galaxy S7 edge Olympic Games Limited Edition. The special version of its smartphone will be given to all of the athletes in the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, but 2,016 units will be sold to the public starting on July 18.

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2 months ago

HTC Desire 530 is coming to the U.S.

11
HTC Desire 530

Will the $179 mid-ranger make as much of a splash as its paint scheme? That's the question.

HTC has announced that one of its mid-ranger Desire models — the Desire 530, to be exact — is coming to the United States. Verizon and T-Mobile will carry the phone, and HTC will make it available unlocked as well.

The Desire 530 was one of four new phones HTC announced back at Mobile World Congress in February. It's a 5-inch phone with a 720p resolution, powered by a Snapdragon 210 processor. It's done up in a fairly neat "micro-splash" design, which looks like Jackson Pollock went to down on a smartphone.

The 530 has a 5-megapixel camera out front, and an 8MP shooter in the back. It's also got HTC's "BoomSound" audio enhancements.

The real selling point, however, will be the price — a mere $179 if you get it directly from HTC. The U.S. carriers will set their own prices, but figure they'll be somewhere in that ballpark.

More: See our hands-on with the Desire 530

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