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2 weeks ago

Canadians deserve better than the Huawei GR5

11

Why would anyone buy this phone, exactly?

Canadians attuned to the idiosyncrasies of the mobile space are well accustomed to Android devices that, while close, don't quite align with their international, or even U.S., counterparts.

One such product is the newly-released Huawei GR5, a mid-range Android device available starting this week from Rogers for $0 on a 2-year contract and $375 outright.

As far as free phones go, on paper the GR5 sounds like a satisfying prospect: big, bright 5.5-inch Full HD display; 3,000mAh battery; rear fingerprint scanner; metal body. But it's when you dig into the core of the product that you begin to see where things went rotten. And rotten is certainly an apt adjective for this product.

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2 weeks ago

How to cancel Verizon service

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How to cancel Verizon

Can you hear me now? No? Leave Verizon behind.

If you're not happy with Verizon's service, it's your right to cancel whenever you please. Just remember that you signed an agreement with the carrier, so you're probably not getting off scot-free.

The penalties and processes associated with canceling your Verizon service will depend on whether you're on a traditional two-year contract or in a month-to-month agreement. We'll tell you how to do both.

We'll also give you some advice when it comes to dropping lines from family plans, since canceling multiple lines at once can end in some incredibly hefty early termination fees.

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2 weeks ago

Verizon vs. Sprint: Best family plan

17
 Best Family Plan

Comparing data, to minutes, to cost, to perks, which carrier is right for your family?

When you're shopping between Verizon and Sprint, it's important to know how much data you need, how many devices will be on your account, and how much data you expect to use.

What sharing plans are available from Verizon and Sprint?

Sharing plans allow you to purchase one big chunk of data and divvy it up between all the phones and devices on your account.

The Verizon Plan lets you choose between plans sized from S-XXL depending on how much data you need. From there you add the number of devices you want to share the data with.

Sprint used to offer something called the Family Share Pack, but have now eliminated that program in favor of a more simplified plan for individuals and families called the Better Choice plans, which allow you to share data between multiple devices, just like a familiy plan.

How many devices are allowed on a shared plan?

With both Verizon and Sprint you are charged for each device on your plan. Adding smartphones to your plan costs more than adding tablets or wearables, so knowing how many devices you want to share data with will impact your total bill each month.

Verizon cost per device

On Verizon, you pay a flat rate per device, regardless of the size of your plan; however, the rate varies depending on what kind of device you're using. At least one of the devices on your plan must be a smartphone in order to share data.

  • $20/month/smartphone
  • $10/tablet/month
  • $10/mobile hotspot/month
  • $5/device/month

Sprint cost per device

With Sprint, the price per device depends on whether you lease your phone or pay in monthly installments, or if you're on a two-year service agreement.

  • $20/month/smartphone for non-discounted phones
  • $40/month/smartphone on a two-year service agreement
  • $10/month/tablet (at least one activated phone required)
  • $10/month/mobile broadband device (at least one activated phone required)

Remember, if you're not bringing your own phone, your carrier will also charge you a monthly fee to purchase one of their phones. Costs vary, but if you want the most up-to-date phone, you'll be looking at about $25-$30 per month until the device is paid off.

How does data work on a shared plan with Verizon and Sprint?

Both Verizon and Sprint give you a pool of data to share with everyone in your family. The size and cost of this data is where the differences come in.

Verizon monthly data rates

Verizon groups their data plans in sizes of Small to XXL.

  • 1 GB $30
  • 3 GB $45
  • 6 GB $60
  • 12 GB $80
  • 18 GB $100

Overage Charges: If you go over your data limit, Verizon charges $15 per GB (rounded up). This means if you have a 6 GB plan and use 6.1 GB, Verizon rounds up and charges you an additional $15 overage fee that month.

Rollover Data: Verizon does not let you carry unused data into the next month. If you don't binge through all your data in one billing cycle, it's gone.

Sprint monthly data rates

  • 1 GB $20
  • 3 GB $30
  • 6 GB $45
  • 12 GB $60
  • 24 GB $80
  • 40 GB $100

Sprint also offers an unlimited plan but the pricing structure is a little different than other plans. You pay $75/month for unlimited data and a decreasing amount for each line you want to add bottoming out after your fifth phone at $30 for each additional line added. Your data speed will be reduced after 23 GB are used in one month.

Overage Charges: All Sprint plans come with unlimited 2G data after you have used up your high speed allotment for the month. This means you will not be charged overage fees, but your data speed will slow way down if you go over your allotment.

Rollover Data: Sprint does not let you rollover your high speed data into the next billing cycle.

How do talk and text work on a shared plan on Verizon and Sprint?

Both Verizon and Sprint include unlimited talk and text with their shared plans.

Verizon doesn't include talk with countries outside the U.S. but it can be added to your plan. However, you will be able to send an unlimited number of text and multimedia messages internationally from any device on the shared plan as long as you're in the US when you send them.

Sprint offers free calling to Mexico and Canada when you're in the U.S. Additionally, you can add the Open World plan to your account for free. This gives you unlimited calling and text while travelling in Mexico and Canada (as well as a few other countries) plus you get 1 GB of high-speed data while roaming.

What perks come with share plans from Verizon and Sprint?

Sometimes it's tough to decide between one carrier or another, so each provider will offer something to sweeten the pot and hopefully make you choose them over someone else.

Verizon will let you bundle services together which could be helpful if you're also interested in having a home phone, and/or TV hookup. They also offer a loyalty program called Verizon My Rewards + which allows you to earn points when you pay your cell bill or order products from their shop or third-party services. You can use these points to put toward gift cards at restaurants, receive discounts on products, or use them for travel rewards program.

Sprint doesn't have any perks comparable to Verizon, but if you have family living outside of the U.S. their above-mentioned Open World plan has some advantages.

Which carrier's shared plan is right for my family?

Both Verizon and Sprint have a lot of room to customize their services based on the needs and budget of your household. For comparison purposes, we will look at share plans that have two phones and two tablets on them.

If you want the absolute cheapest plan, that can be built with Sprint, but you would have a very small amount of data (1GB) to share between devices.

If you want the most high speed data you can get that with Sprint, gives you way more high speed data at a better price.

If you want the best value for your data Sprint data rates are a better value and won't charge you overage fees if you exceed your monthly allotment.

If you have many devices Verizon and Sprint have the same monthly device fees; however, if your'e on a two-year agreement with Sprint, their access fee is double Verizon's, so in this case Verizon is a better deal.

If you want to avoid overage fees then Sprint is a clear winner since they only slow down your data if you go over your limit instead of charging you per GB of data.

If you're primarily concerned with talk and text from your provider, Verizon and Sprint are equal. The only difference is if you frequently talk or text with people in Mexico or Canada, Sprint will let you add their free Open World](https://www.sprint.com/landings/openworld/index.html) plan which allows you to talk or roam in these countries for free, including 1 GB of roaming data.

If you already pay for TV service in your home you might find more value with Verizon if you choose to use their Fios TV service.

Keep calm and carrier on!

Ultimately choosing a shared plan for your family comes down to how many people are in your home, what devices they use, and what they use them for. Verizon and Sprint have slight advantages between each other depending on which category you look at.

Overall Sprint's plans offer a lot of value for the price of their data and their lack of overage fees make their shared plans a really appealing option for data-hungry households.

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2 weeks ago

T-Mobile is offering a free rapid charger and Ice View case with purchase of HTC 10 before May 24

27

For a limited time, T-Mobile will be offering those who purchase the HTC 10 a free HTC Rapid Charger and the HTC Ice View case for free, a $85 value. This offer is quite enticing, as the rapid charger will let you top up your battery in a short amount of time, so you never have to worry if you will have enough power or now. The Ice View case adds style and protection to the phone, which is great for any new investment.

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2 weeks ago

Meizu m3 note with 5.5-inch FHD display, 3GB RAM and 32GB storage hits India for ₹9,999

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Chinese manufacturer Meizu has launched the m3 note in India for ₹9,999. The phone will be up for sale exclusively on Amazon India from May 31, with registrations kicking off later today.

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2 weeks ago

Samsung Galaxy Note 6 may feature a BlackBerry Hub-like experience called Samsung Focus

52

According to a new report, Samsung's Galaxy Note 6 may have a new feature which is being called Samsung Focus. This would be a central hub for all of your notifications, very similar to how BlackBerry does on BlackBerry 10 and the Priv. The feature is said to integrate your calendar, email, contacts, memos and much more in one central location.

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2 weeks ago

Best external battery packs for the Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 edge

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Galaxy S7 battery

Give your GS7 and GS7 edge a second life with a battery pack.

I know, camping is supposed to be a way to get away from society for a while. But some of us just can't fall asleep without crushing some candy before beddy-byes. If you're going to be on the go for a day or two and simply don't have any time to waste near a wall socket, then you should consider an external battery pack or power bank.

They're entirely portable, relatively inexpensive, and could keep your phone going when you need it most.

We've rounded up the best battery packs for your Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 edge — and for your lifestyle.

Aukey Portable Power Bank (10,400 mAh)

Aukey

The Aukey Portable Power Bank will charge your Galaxy S7 twice over with a little bit of gas left in the tank, just in case. It offers over-current and short circuit protection, and it won't overheat or become overcharged itself.

As a portable bank, it's a little on the thick side, at nearly two inches, but it is relatively inexpensive, often starting around $20.

This one's for those of you who just want a basic fast-charing battery pack and only need it for a day at a time. If you're having to go days without seeing a wall socket, then you'll want to consider one of the bigger battery packs below.

See at Amazon

EasyAcc Monster (20,000 mAh)

EasyAcc

Charge your Galaxy S7 and up to three other devices at the same time with the EasyAcc Monster. They're not kidding about the name. This baby has enough juice to charge your GS7 around six times over, which makes it great if you're headed out of town for a few days and aren't sure if you'll see a wall socket any time soon.

It's got a built-in flashlight and can auto-detect components and adjust the maximum output accordingly, which makes it great if you've got multiple devices on the go. Does the whole family have Galaxy S7s? Charge them all at the same time.

No need to worry about overcharging and shorting, since the EasyAcc has a built-in surge protector, which is ideal since you'll have to wait 6 hours for this one to charge fully.

See at Amazon

KMASHI (20,000 mAh)

KMASHI

KMASHI's external battery bank can charge two devices simultaneously, making this ideal for anyone who's carrying around the Galaxy S7 and tablet (because if both die on you, that's one long bus ride home from work or school). It's got one regular USB charging port, and another Qualcomm Quick Charge 2.0 port.

At 20,000 mAh, this bank has enough juice to charge your Galaxy S7 around 6 times, so you could go for days without seeing a wall socket and be just fine.

This battery pack comes with a flashlight for emergency situations and offers a sleek, somewhat rugged design, which means you can take it more or less anywhere with you. Size-wise, it's about average for an external battery pack of the capacity, at around 6 inches by 4 inches.

See at Amazon

Samsung Fast Charge Battery Pack (5,200 mAh)

Samsung Fast Charge Battery Pack (5,200 mAh)

If you're brand-conscious when it comes to accessories and also want a reliable battery pack, then consider the Samsung Fast Charge Battery Pack. At 5,200 mAh, it'll give you at least one full charge nice and quickly.

Samsung claims that their battery pack will take you from 0 percent to 50 in about half an hour, thanks to its Quick Charge 2.0 support. Best of all, it's sleek enough to fit in a pocket, being around the same size as a Galaxy S7 edge.

You can also match your GS7 or GS7 edge with your battery pack, since it comes in gold and silver.

See at Amazon See at ShopAndroid


Unifun 10,400 mAh Waterproof Power Bank

Unifun 10,400 mAh Waterproof Power Bank

Calling all campers! Unifun's power bank is rugged and waterproof, so you can charge your Galaxy S7 or S7 edge when you're really on the go. It's rated IP66 for water and dust resistance, while also having anti-shock and anti-skid protection.

This pack even has a strap hole, so you can attach to a belt loop or clip, which is great if you're working outside all day or constantly on the go; just run a cord to your pocket and away you go.

It's a little bulky, at 6 inches, by almost 3 inches, but you'd expect something so rugged to be a little on the bulky side.

See at Amazon

What's your favorite?

Which battery packs are you using to charge your Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 edge? Sound off in the comments below!

Samsung Galaxy S7 and S7 edge

AT&T Sprint T-Mobile Verizon

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2 weeks 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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2 weeks 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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2 weeks 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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2 weeks 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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2 weeks 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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2 weeks 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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2 weeks 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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2 weeks 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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