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3 weeks ago

Do these 5 things when you get your Google Pixel

68

You just got a Google Pixel, now it's time to get up and running the right way.

You've done your research, you've read the review and you've placed your order. Now your fresh new Google Pixel or Pixel XL is awaiting your setup and customization. Just like any new phone there's a lot to take in with the Pixels, and we're here to point you in the right direction so you can start things off the right way.

Here are the first things you should do with your new Google Pixel.

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3 weeks ago

Euro HTC 10 rumored for Nougat update in the next month

12

Late November or early December launch, according to tipster.

This one's firmly a rumor for the moment, but it comes via a usually reliable source. Twitter's @LlabTooFeR, who has a solid track record with HTC leaks, says the European variant of the HTC 10, is looking like it'll get Android 7.0 Nougat around the end of November, or early December.

That's broadly in line with the Q4 2016 window given by HTC for unlocked models. As always, carrier variants will almost certainly take longer to receive the update — possibly slipping into early 2017.

We already got a look at HTC Sense + Android 7.0 in the Sprint-exclusive HTC Bolt, announced in the past week.

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3 weeks ago

Top considerations when securing your Android phone

65

Know how to use the tools your given to keep your phone and your data secure.

Google, Apple, and Microsoft have great tools for managing your online security. Some implementations may be technically better than others, but you can be reasonably sure that your data — both on the phone and in the cloud — is safe. If you need more reassurance or have different needs, third-party companies are available that with the big three to provide enterprise-grade security assurances. No method is 100% secure, and ways to get around it are found regularly; then patched quickly so the cycle can repeat. But these methods are usually complicated and very time-consuming and rarely widespread.

This means you are the weakest link in any chain of security. If you want to keep your data — or your company's — secured you need to force someone to use these complicated time-consuming methods if they wanted to get into your phone. Secure data needs to be difficult to obtain and difficult to decipher if someone does get hold of it.With Android, there are several things you can do to make someone work really hard to get your data — hopefully so hard that they don't bother trying.

Use a secure lock screen

Having a secure lock screen is the easiest way to limit access to the data on your phone or the cloud. Whether you just left your phone on your desk while you had to walk away for a moment or two or if you've lost your phone or had it stolen a lock screen that can't be simple to bypass is the best way to limit that access.

The first step is to lock the front door.

If your company issued you a phone or you work for someone with a BYOD policy there's a good chance your phone is forced by a security policy to have password protection and your IT department may have assigned you a username and password to unlock it.

Any method that locks your phone is better than none, but generally a random six-digit PIN is enough to require someone have special knowledge and tools to bypass it without triggering any self-destruct settings. Longer randomized alpha-numeric passwords mean they will need the right tools and a lot of time. Entering a long complex password on a phone is inconvenient for you and we tend not to use things that inconvenience us so alternatives have been thought up that use patterns, pictures, voiceprints and a host of other things easier to do than typing a long password. Read the instructions and overview for each and decide which works best for you. Just make sure you're using one.

Encryption and two-factor authentication

Encrypt all of your local data and protect your data in the cloud with two-factor authentication on your account logins.

Recent versions of Android come encrypted by default. Android 7 uses file-level encryption for faster access and granular control. Your corporate data may have another level of security to reinforce this. Don't do anything to try and lessen it. A phone that needs to be unlocked to decrypt the data is one that only someone dedicated is going to try to crack.

Online accounts all need to use a strong password and two-factor authentication if offered. Don't use the same password across multiple sites and use a password manager to keep track of them. A centralized spot with all your account credentials is worth risking if it means you'll actually use good passwords.

Know what you're tapping on

Never open a link or message from someone you don't know. Let those people email you if they need to make the first contact, and offer them the same courtesy and use email instead of a DM or a text message to get in touch with them the first time. And never click a random web link from someone you don't trust. I trust the Wall Street Journal's Twitter account, so I'll click obscured Twitter links. But I won't for someone I don't trust as much.

Trust is a major part of security at every level.

The reason isn't paranoia. Malformed videos were able to cause an Android phone to freeze up and had the potential to allow elevated permissions to your file system where a script could silently install malware. A JPG or PDF file was shown to do the same on the iPhone. Both instances were quickly patched, but it's certain that another similar exploit will be found now that the "right" people for the job know where to look. Files sent through email will have been scanned and links in the email body are easy to spot. The same can't be said for a text message or a Facebook DM.

Only install trusted applications

For most, that means Google Play. If an app or link directs you to install it from somewhere else, decline. This means you won't need to enable the "unknown sources" setting required to install apps that didn't originate from a Google server in the Play Store. Only installing apps from the Play Store means Google is monitoring their behavior, not you. They are better at it than we are.

If you need to install apps from another source you need to make sure you trust the source itself. Actual malware that probes and exploits the software on your phone can only happen if you approved the installation. And as soon as you're finished installing or updating an app this way, turn the Unknown sources setting back on as a way to combat trickery and social engineering to get you to install an app manually.

None of this will make your phone 100% secure. 100% security isn't the goal here and never is. The key is to make any data that's valuable to someone else difficult to get. The higher the level of difficulty, the more valuable the data has to be in order to make getting it worthwhile.

Some data is more valuable that others, but all of it is worth protecting.

Pictures of my dogs or maps to the best trout streams in the Blue Ridge Mountains won't require the same level of protection because they aren't of value to anyone but me. Quarterly reports or customer data stored in your corporate email may be worth the trouble to get and need extra layers.

Luckily, even low-value data is easy to keep secure using the tools provided and these few tips.

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3 weeks ago

Best Cases For Honor 8

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What are the best cases you can buy today for the Honor 8?

The Honor 8, as made by Huawei, is one of the most attractive budget smartphones available right now. Take care of it by housing it in one of these recommended cases.

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3 weeks ago

This tiny accessory will make your USB Type-C transition way less painful

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They're not expensive, but it would be a good idea for more companies to bundle a USB Type-C adapter in the box.

Over the course of 2016, most phones have transitioned from Micro-USB to USB-C. The change is ultimately good, both for charging speeds and convenience. But what about all those old Micro-USB cables you have in a drawer somewhere? Should you just throw them away? No, you need a USB Type-C to Micro-USB adapter, which makes it easy to use all of those legacy cables.

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3 weeks ago

Honor is asking Android Central readers to help test Nougat on the Honor 8 [Update: thanks!)

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Be a part of the solution.

Last week, we showed you what the next generation of Huawei's EMUI 5.0 looks like on the Mate 9, and it's a big upgrade from the previous version. Not only is it slicker and faster, but it has a bunch of great features, like in-line replies and multi window, that work wonders with Huawei's improvements.

Now, Honor, in collaboration with Android Central, is asking for volunteers to help test that same version — EMUI 5.0 — on the incredible Honor 8! Honor is committed to bringing Nougat to customers as quickly and bug-free as possible, and we've partnered with them to find 25 people to help make it better before a wider public release — by testing it and reporting back!

Here's what Honor needs from you, if you're interested:

Thanks so much for participating. We had an amazing response, and if you were selected, you'll be contacted by Honor directly!

  • Your first and last name
  • Your email address
  • Your Honor 8's IMEI number

If you're not sure how to get your IMEI, it's easy:

  1. Open your phone dialer.
  2. Type *#06#.
  3. Copy the information and paste it into the email.

The program is only for U.S.-based Honor 8 owners for now, and you have from now until November 15 to send the information. If you're selected, Honor will get in touch with you directly.

Apply now for the Android 7.0 Nougat beta on the Honor 8!

Honor 8

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3 weeks ago

Making the Porsche Mate 9: A conversation with Porsche Design and Huawei's Chief Design Officers

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Joon-Suh Kim, Roland Heiler

Joon-Suh Kim and Roland Heiler on their companies' partnership, and the first Huawei/Porsche Design product — the new Mate 9.

An unexpected arrival alongside the regular Huawei Mate 9, the curvy, ridiculously-specced Porsche Design Huawei Mate 9 is supposed to represent the peak of smartphone technology and design. With a curved screen, pitch-black anodized aluminum rear, a 4,000mAh battery, 6GB of RAM and 256GB of storage, this phone would turn heads even without a major luxury brand on the front. So it's a fitting inaugural phone for the Chinese manufacturer and its German design partner.

The Porsche Design Mate 9 is less of a traditional "phablet" than most phones in the Mate series. And at first glance, it's closer to many of Samsung's recent designs than anything Huawei has put out recently. (Despite the very prominent Porsche branding on both sides of this phone.)

It's an exclusive product by design, and one that plays into Huawei's strategy of associating itself with big Western brands (Leica and Swarovski are two recent examples.)

To get a feel for the new device, and the partnership that led to its creation, we sat down with Roland Heiler, Chief Design Officer of Porsche Design, and Joon-Suh Kim, Chief Design Officer of Huawei's Consumer Business Group, shortly after the announcement in Munich, Germany.

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3 weeks ago

BlackBerry will make another Android phone with a physical keyboard

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BlackBerry has one last keyboard phone for us.

John Chen likes to tease. He's been doing it ever since he took over the CEO role at BlackBerry from Thorsten Heins in 2013, and even now, after the company has rededicated itself to software, he is still talking about that elusive dream phone for keyboard addicts.

"We have one keyboard phone I promised people," Chen told Emily Chang of Bloomberg TV. "It's coming." While the company stated earlier this year that it would no longer design or manufacturer its own smartphones, it appears that this latest keyboard-adorned device could be the last BlackBerry built in-house.

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3 weeks ago

Which Pixel OTA or factory image to flash? It's now a little easier to figure out

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Pixel XL

There are different builds for the European, U.S. and Verizon Pixels.

Google dropped three new Android 7.1 builds for the Pixel and Pixel XL recently, complete with the November 2016 security patches. But it wasn't immediately clear which of the three builds posted update-hungry Pixel owners should apply to their devices.

In the past day or so, Google has refreshed its factory images page (but curiously, not its OTA images page) with a small but important update — specifically, which Pixel variant each build is for. Here's how it breaks down:

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3 weeks ago

Best Android Camera

Best Android Camera

If you're looking for the best all-around Android camera that is simple to use but also extremely powerful, look no further than the Google Pixel.

Andrew Martonik Andrew has been a mobile enthusiast since the Windows Mobile days, and covering all things Android-related with a unique perspective at Android Central since 2012. For suggestions and updates, you can reach him at andrew.martonik@androidcentral.com or on Twitter at @andrewmartonik.

*/ /*-->*/ /*-->*/

Best overall

Google Pixel

Google pixel

See at Verizon See at Google

Google's new Pixel phone comes out on top when you look at photo quality, overall performance and simplicity of shooting. Interestingly, it does it with what would normally be considered middle-of-the-road camera specs. You get a 12MP sensor and f/2.0 lens without the support OIS (optical image stabilization), but that isn't an issue for the Pixel.

It also has a simple camera interface that doesn't have a ton of features, but makes up for it in terms of overall quality. Just point and shoot, and you're going to get a great photo every single time. Daylight shots are crisp and bright with just the right amount of extra saturation, and low-light shots are surprisingly smooth and lack the extra noise that other phones often introduce.

Add in the extra perk that the Pixel includes unlimited full-resolution photo backup with Google Photos, and it's a truly great smartphone camera.

Bottom line: For the best possible photos from every type of situation, the Pixel is your best choice.

One more thing: For the same camera experience in a larger size with a bigger battery, consider the (more expensive) Google Pixel XL.

Why the Google Pixel is the best

After years of Nexuses with hit-or-miss cameras, Google finally delivered on its promise with the Pixel — and it's doing it with a similar formula we first saw in the Nexus 6P and 5X. You don't get OIS (optical image stabilization), but instead a 12MP sensor with really large pixels that can take in extra light and HDR+ software that does the extra work to bring multiple exposures together.

The results are absolutely fantastic, no matter the shooting situation. As Alex Dobie said in our Pixel review:

Captures are quick, there's plenty of fine detail in a wide variety of lighting conditions, and Google's Auto-HDR+ trickery produces photos with excellent dynamic range in situations where many rivals stumble. Colors are punchy, but not excessively saturated. And even in challenging lighting conditions, such as dark restaurants at night, a good amount of fine detail and color detail is preserved.

The Pixel doesn't offer a ton of shooting modes or lots of tweaking options in the camera interface, but that doesn't really matter — the end result when you press the shutter key matches or beats the competition, and offers amazing consistency from shot to shot. Photos are crisp with just the right amount of punchy color, and when the light is at a minimum it manages to still take smooth shots anyway. It's incredibly impressive what Google was able to do in the Pixel, and the results are to your benefit every time you open the camera.

Best runner-up

Samsung Galaxy S7

Samsung Galaxy S7

See at AT&T See at Sprint See at T-Mobile See at Verizon

Samsung launched the Galaxy S7 back in March 2016, and until the Pixel arrived it was the best camera out there. The 12MP resolution gives you plenty of pixels to work with, and the OIS keeps everything clear whether you're taking low-light shots or shooting video on the move.

Just as important as the photo output is how quickly the camera operates. Two presses of the home button launch the camera in less than a second, and photos are taken instantaneously even when shooting in HDR or a tough lighting situation. The camera interface is simple but also powerful if you choose to move to the full Manual mode, which can enable great shots if you want to tweak and use a tripod.

Bottom line: For a nearly compromise-free experience, the Galaxy S7 has a fantastic camera and it's connected to a great phone too.

One more thing: The Galaxy S7 has a 5.1-inch display, but if you want something larger with the same camera, you can consider the 5.5-inch Galaxy S7 edge.

Best for tweaking

LG V20

LG V20

See at T-Mobile See at AT&T

The new LG V20 borrows the same dual-camera setup from the LG G5, but that's not a bad thing. The main 16MP rear camera is capable of taking crisp, well-balanced shots with the support of a bright f/1.8 lens and OIS. Where the V20 looks to stand out is its second rear camera, which is an 8MP sensor with a super wide-angle lens. The wide-angle shooter can be toggled to quickly for awesome and unique shots you don't get on other phones, though the sensor itself is unfortunately just not as good as the main 16MP offering.

Its camera interface isn't quite as simple or fast as Samsung's, but it's not far off. And what you give up in simplicity you gain in manual controls and tweaks. The Manual mode is comprehensive and powerful, and if you're into recording video there's even a Manual video mode that incorporates high-quality microphones for audio and new electronic image stabilization to keep things steady.

Bottom line: For a great camera that has a few extra options to play with, the V20 is worth considering over the Galaxy S7.

One more thing: The V20 is only on sale in some regions right now, with U.S. availability coming soon. If you want one in the States, you'll have to wait a bit longer.

Best on a budget

OnePlus 3

OnePlus 3

See at OnePlus

Everyone wants a great camera in their smartphone, but not everyone can spend the kind of money it takes to get a Galaxy S7 or LG V20. For a much more reasonable $399, the OnePlus 3 has a really solid shooter that's better than the price would suggest. When we compared the OnePlus 3's camera to the Galaxy S7 edge's (which is the same as the GS7), we found the OnePlus 3 to match it in quality in many situations.

You get plenty of resolution here at 16MP, but smaller 1.12-micron pixels that aren't as great in low-light scenes — though the inclusion of a relatively quick f/2.0 lens and OIS help, as does the camera app's HDR processing. The camera app isn't great and can still be a little slow, and you don't get full manual controls, but for a camera that can get the job done and won't break the bank, this is a great choice.

Bottom line: For a really solid camera in a phone that won't break the bank, the OnePlus 3 is a great choice.

One more thing: Remember that the OnePlus 3 is only designed to work on GSM networks, like T-Mobile, AT&T and their MVNO partners.

Conclusion

2016 has produced some great smartphone cameras, and you have a few great choices here. But if you're looking for the absolute best camera across the board, you're going to want the Google Pixel. The Galaxy S7 is a close second, the LG V20 offers tons of options and the OnePlus 3 does well on a budget.

Best overall

Google Pixel

Google pixel

See at Verizon See at Google

Google's new Pixel phone comes out on top when you look at photo quality, overall performance and simplicity of shooting. Interestingly, it does it with what would normally be considered middle-of-the-road camera specs. You get a 12MP sensor and f/2.0 lens without the support OIS (optical image stabilization), but that isn't an issue for the Pixel.

It also has a simple camera interface that doesn't have a ton of features, but makes up for it in terms of overall quality. Just point and shoot, and you're going to get a great photo every single time. Daylight shots are crisp and bright with just the right amount of extra saturation, and low-light shots are surprisingly smooth and lack the extra noise that other phones often introduce.

Add in the extra perk that the Pixel includes unlimited full-resolution photo backup with Google Photos, and it's a truly great smartphone camera.

Bottom line: For the best possible photos from every type of situation, the Pixel is your best choice.

One more thing: For the same camera experience in a larger size with a bigger battery, consider the (more expensive) Google Pixel XL.

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3 weeks ago

OnePlus 3 will get a taste of Nougat this month, stable OTA coming by end of 2016

15

Nougat beta community build coming this month, stable OTA by the end of the year.

Samsung, LG, and Sony announced their Nougat plans this week, and now OnePlus has shared details on when it will roll out the latest version of Android to the OnePlus 3.

Speaking to Engadget, OnePlus' head of software Brian Yoon revealed that a Nougat beta community build will be rolled out later this month, with an OTA update rolling out to all OnePlus 3 devices by the end of the year.

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3 weeks ago

I dropped my LG V20 and you'll never guess what happened next...

109
3 weeks ago

HTC Bolt hands-on preview: A solid phone that struggles to move the needle

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HTC Bolt

The Bolt is a fine phone, but it isn't going to move the needle for HTC or Sprint.

HTC has had a rough couple of years in terms of smartphone releases. Though it has put out a few compelling products, its high-end phones seem to come up just short while its mid-range phones are often too expensive for what they offer. Now with a partnership that tapped it to build the Pixel phones for Google, HTC is leaning back toward its roots as an ODM making phones in tight concert with other companies.

Just like the good old days, HTC has struck an exclusive deal with Sprint to make the Bolt — a one-off phone that has ties to the HTC 10, while differing in a few ways and integrating tightly with Sprint's network technology and software. Even though Sprint carries both the HTC 10 and One A9, the Bolt is the new top-end device for the carrier to be pushed through the holidays and hopefully give a little bump to the HTC brand. After a couple days with the phone, here's an early look at what you can expect from the HTC Bolt.

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3 weeks ago

Sprint-exclusive HTC Bolt unveiled: 5.5-inch screen, USB-C audio and the fastest LTE speeds

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HTC Bolt

A bigger, lower-specced yet still intriguing version of the HTC 10 is coming exclusively to Sprint.

After a good amount of leaking, Sprint and HTC have unveiled the carrier-exclusive Bolt, a new phone that borrows much from the HTC 10 but ups the ante a bit with a larger screen, new software and deep integration with Sprint's latest network technologies. Sprint is selling the Bolt based on a headline feature of its network capabilities, where it supports Sprint's 3x CA (carrier aggregation) LTE for the highest possible speeds of any phone from the carrier.

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3 weeks ago

HTC Bolt specs: Snapdragon 810, 3GB RAM, 3200 mAh battery, IP57 resistance

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HTC Bolt

HTC's latest high-end phone is Sprint exclusive and has an interesting combination of specs.

The Bolt doesn't necessarily swing for the fences with all of the top-end specs, but rather has a mixture of the latest line items along with some (somewhat puzzling) last-gen components. The biggest head scratcher is the older Snapdragon 810 processor and just 3GB of RAM, which both fall short of the modern standard for late 2016. On the other end you get a great, big, high-resolution display, high-end camera specs and IP57 water resistance, together with BoomSound speakers and extra audio tuning through the USB-C port.

Here's the complete spec sheet for the HTC Bolt.

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