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1 month ago

Best Large Android Phone

Updated April, 2017: Galaxy S8+ is the new king of large phones.

Best Overall

Samsung Galaxy S8+

See at Verizon See at AT&T See at T-Mobile See at Sprint See at Best Buy See at Amazon

In the wake of the Note 7 debacle, Samsung needed to deliver a great big-screened Android experience in the larger of the two Galaxy S8 models. The new 18.5:9 aspect ratio, combined with a 6.2-inch display size (6.1 inches excluding the rounded corners) makes the Galaxy S8+ big but not impossible to hold. And the extra height of that beautiful Quad HD+ SuperAMOLED panel means you'll fit more on screen, too.

The design work Samsung started back with the Note 7 can be seen coming to fruition in the GS8+, with an almost completely symmetrical metal and glass chassis that complements the big screen. And Samsung nails the fundamentals of the smartphone experience too, with fast performance and a great camera, improved from the GS7 thanks to new processing tricks. On the software side, Samsung's UI feels more polished and mature than ever, with a new sci-fi aesthetic that's slick and unique but not overbearing.

Bottom line: It's expensive for sure, but the Samsung Galaxy S8+ is by far the best in its class. Between the display, performance, camera, and feature set, there's no better "phablet" out there.

One more thing: The Galaxy S8+'s fingerprint scanner is in kind of an awkward place, around the back and next to the camera lens. But at least you've got face unlock and iris scanning to fall back on.

Why the Galaxy S8+ is the best

The Galaxy S8+ packs an enormous, beautiful display into a small package and excels at just about everything.

Samsung's latest big-screened handset steps out from the shadow of the Note 7, excelling across the board. That huge SuperAMOLED display looks fantastic, with the best daylight visibility we've seen in a phone and bright, vibrant colors. And the phone itself is beautiful, with a symmetrical design that shows off the its epic display.

What's more, the S8+ has everything you could ask for in a high-end handset with a top-tier camera, software that's differentiated but not overbearing, and speedy performance.

Best for battery life

Huawei Mate 9

See at Jet

Huawei has made great progress over the past year, and its latest flagship, the Mate 9, stands out as the best big phone for buyers outside the United States. That's largely thanks to Huawei's much improved EMUI 5 software experience, based on Android Nougat. But the Mate 9 also benefits from a massive 5.9-inch 1080p screen in a body the same size as last year's 5.7-inch Nexus 6P.

Beyond its size and software, the Mate 9 nails the fundamentals of a great Android experience, with quick performance, an ample 64GB of storage as standard, plus microSD expansion, and a capable dual camera setup. Unlike LG, Huawei combines two cameras with the same focal length, but with one OIS (optical image stabilization) 12MP camera capturing colors, and the other, a 20MP monochrome sensor, picking up fine detail. The result is a camera setup that often goes toe-to-toe with the best out there, and can produce some interesting creative effects thanks to its second sensor.

Bottom line: Huawei's much-improved software — together with great build quality, performance and dependable cameras — makes for a fantastic big-screened experience.

One more thing: The Huawei Mate 9 isn't currently available through any U.S. carriers — instead you'll have to buy the unlocked version, which works on T-Mobile and AT&T (and their MVNOs), as well as just about every global LTE network.

Best for less

LG V20

See at AT&T See at Verizon See at Sprint See at T-Mobile See at B&H Photo

LG needed to raise its game after the modular mess that was the G5, and that's exactly what Samsung's local rival did with the V20. LG's 5.7-incher gets you the same guts as the G5, without any of the modular nonsense, and with much improved build quality and some unique features thanks to the second display. As before, you can use the secondary ticker above the main screen to see app shortcuts, show a personal message or view notifications.

And the removable battery option is back, with the V20's 3,200mAh swappable cell living behind a metal back panel, which pops off when you hit the release switch.

On the camera side — where the phone really shines — the V20 is every bit as good as the G5, with a main 16-megapixel sensor behind an f/1.8 lens, and a secondary wide-angle camera for fitting in more detail. LG's also packed in new autofocus and stabilization technologies not present in that phone for even smoother video.

The V20 runs Android 7.0 Nougat out of the box, too, so you'll benefit from a mostly up-to-date software experience.

Bottom line: The V20 is a great overall package. You get the proven cameras of the G5, along with Android Nougat and a solid metal chassis, plus the rarity of a removable battery.

One more thing: The LG V20 isn't available in most European countries.

Conclusion

If you want the best Android has to offer in a big-screened phone, look no further than the Samsung Galaxy S8+. The size of Samsung's 6.2-incher is both a strength and a weakness — thanks to the new 18.5:9 aspect ratio, this is a very tall phone. But if that's what you're after, Samsung does a great job of showcasing an enormous, bright display and backing up a great physical design with good-looking software.

Best Overall

Samsung Galaxy S8+

See at Verizon See at AT&T See at T-Mobile See at Sprint See at Best Buy See at Amazon

In the wake of the Note 7 debacle, Samsung needed to deliver a great big-screened Android experience in the larger of the two Galaxy S8 models. The new 18.5:9 aspect ratio, combined with a 6.2-inch display size (6.1 inches excluding the rounded corners) makes the Galaxy S8+ big but not impossible to hold. And the extra height of that beautiful Quad HD+ SuperAMOLED panel means you'll fit more on screen, too.

The design work Samsung started back with the Note 7 can be seen coming to fruition in the GS8+, with an almost completely symmetrical metal and glass chassis that complements the big screen. And Samsung nails the fundamentals of the smartphone experience too, with fast performance and a great camera, improved from the GS7 thanks to new processing tricks. On the software side, Samsung's UI feels more polished and mature than ever, with a new sci-fi aesthetic that's slick and unique but not overbearing.

Bottom line: It's expensive for sure, but the Samsung Galaxy S8+ is by far the best in its class. Between the display, performance, camera, and feature set, there's no better "phablet" out there.

One more thing: The Galaxy S8+'s fingerprint scanner is in kind of an awkward place, around the back and next to the camera lens. But at least you've got face unlock and iris scanning to fall back on.

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1 month ago

The Galaxy S8's quick launch camera setting isn't available globally

25

The ability to quickly launch the camera with the power button is missing on a few Galaxy S8 units.

Double tapping the home button was the fastest way to launch the camera on the Galaxy S6 and S7. But with the Galaxy S8 eschewing the home button, Samsung had to come up with a new way to quickly launch the camera, and the company turned to the power button. Pressing on the power button twice in quick succession opens the camera by default on the Galaxy S8 and S8+, but that option isn't available on all units.

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1 month ago

Samsung issues 'urgent update' to fix Device Quality Agent error

52

Samsung is releasing a patch for an annoying bug that kept people from enjoying their Galaxy S8s.

Samsung has issued an "urgent new software update" to fix a problem some of its Galaxy S8 customers were experiencing with a software component called Device Quality Agent, or DQA.

After downloading a day-one software update, many Galaxy S8 owners in the U.S. and Canada began seeing an error every 30-seconds to a minute with the notice that "DQA keeps stopping." DQA is that Device Quality Agent, and it keeps tabs on Wi-Fi quality throughout the device. The temporary fix was to Force Close the DQA app itself, or to disable Wi-Fi, but neither were long-term solutions. Thankfully, Samsung issued the small urgent update through its Galaxy Apps store starting April 24, and it should roll out to all Galaxy S8 owners in due time to fix the issue.

This is the second time in a week that Samsung has had to deal with a small but vocal minority of customers complaining that a bug had beset their new smartphone. Previously, Samsung announced that it would issue a software update to correct a red tint problem on some of its AMOLED displays.

Did you experience the "DQA keeps stopping" bug? Let us know if the update fixed the problem!

Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+

Main

Verizon AT&T T-Mobile Sprint

About

The Galaxy S8, and its larger sibling the S8+, are Samsung's top-end devices for 2017 meant to appeal to the general consumer and power user alike. The two phones are only differentiated by screen and battery size: 5.8 inches and 3000mAh, and 6.2 inches and 3500mAh.

The displays have a new 18.5:9 aspect ratio with a QHD+ resolution, meaning they're extra tall and narrow. Samsung moved to on-screen buttons and reduced bezel size dramatically in order to fit as much screen into the body as possible. That moved the fingerprint sensor to the back of the phones, where it sits somewhat-awkwardly next to the camera lens. Iris scanning makes its return in a new-and-improved version from the Note 7.

Though the batteries haven't increased in size from the Galaxy S7 and S7 edge, the hope is that the improved efficiency of the new 10 nm processor inside will provide some help. The processor is backed up by 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage. Waterproofing and wireless charging are still here as well, plus a new USB-C port on the bottom. The rear camera is unchanged in terms of its 12MP sensor and f/1.7 lens, but has improved processing thanks to a new ISP and software.

Specs

Width Height Thickness 5.86 in
148.9 mm
2.68 in
68.1 mm
0.31 in
8 mm
5.47 oz
155g grams
  • Display:
    • 5.8-inch AMOLED display
    • 2960x1440 resolution
    • 18.5:9 aspect ratio
    • Dual-curve infinity display
  • Cameras:
    • 12MP ƒ/1.7 rear camera
    • Dual-pixel phase detection autofocus
    • 1.4-micron pixels
    • 8MP ƒ/1.7 front camera
  • Battery:
    • 3000 mAh battery
    • Non-removable
    • USB-C fast Charging
    • Qi + PMA wireless charging
  • Chips:
    • Snapdragon 835 processor
    • Samsung Exynos 8896 processor
      (varies by region)
    • 4GB RAM
    • 64GB internal storage
    • microSD card slot
    • Android 7.0 Nougat
  • GS8+
    • Samsung Galaxy S8+
    • 6.2-inch AMOLED display
    • 3500mAh battery
    • 6.28 in x 2.89 in x 0.32 in
      159.5mm x 73.4mm x 8.1mm
    • 6.10 oz / 73g

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1 month ago

Six things you need to do immediately after getting the Galaxy S8

59

Take some time to make your Galaxy S8 yours.

There's a lot going on inside the Galaxy S8. From the new design, which does away with much of the front bezels, to the relocation of the fingerprint sensor to the back of the phone, the S8 is all new. But there are some holdovers from previous versions of the Galaxy lineup, including a number of software features that were present in previous iterations, updated and brought over to the S8.

To make the transition to the Galaxy S8 an easy experience, here's a list of six things you should do right after getting the phone and turning it on.

1. Make sure the navigation buttons are to your liking

If you're coming from another Galaxy phone, you may not feel the need to change the order of the virtual home buttons, but anyone else may be confused and irritated by the fact that the back button is to the right of the home key on the Galaxy S8.

The good news is that you can change where those buttons live just by going straight into the settings and making a quick switch. While you're there, be sure to pick a background color for your new virtual home and check 'Unlock with Home button' if you want to make unlocking the phone much easier.

How to switch the position of the navigation buttons on the Galaxy S8

2. Set up your preferred unlock method

There are a ridiculous number of ways to unlock your Galaxy S8, and you should take some time after setting it up to try them all out and discover which one works best for you.

Because the Galaxy S8's fingerprint sensor is on the back of the phone, it may be difficult to reach for some people and requires the phone to be picked up from a table to unlock it. So it's a good idea to experiment with two new unlocking features — facial recognition and iris scanning — to see whether or not they suit your needs.

Of course, if neither of them do the trick, a simple wearable should suffice, but either way we'd recommend trying to get face recognition working, since it's nearly as fast and accurate as a fingerprint — and you don't even need to touch the phone.

Oh, and while you're in there setting up the face unlock or iris scanner, do yourself a favor and enable the feature that starts scanning immediately after the screen turns on. It's called "Iris unlock when screen turns on" or "Face unlock when screen turns on" in their respective setup areas.

The difference between iris scanning and face unlocking on the Galaxy S8

3. Enable 'Secure Startup'

It's great to have myriad ways to unlock your Galaxy S8, but great security is your responsibility, especially since, increasingly, your phone is your life and your lifeline.

One way to prevent unwanted hands or eyes on your data — even the notifications on your lock screen — is to enable Secure Startup, which requires a PIN or pattern before you even reach the Android lock screen. This ensures that if your phone is stolen or lost while it's off, no one will be able to see any personal information, since the phone's content is completely encrypted until after the secure unlock code is entered.

Understanding Direct Boot on Android

4. Tame that TouchWIZ launcher

The launcher on the Galaxy S8 is actually pretty darn good, but it can get better pretty quickly. The first way is to give yourself one of Samsung's beautiful Infinity Wallpapers, which shift and luxuriate as you move through the various screens. But unlike other live wallpapers, the Infinity Wallpapers also extend to your lock screen and always-on display, which makes spending some time choosing the right one even more essential.

The TouchWIZ Home launcher is also pretty customizable: You can enable an app drawer button if you'd prefer not to swipe up or down to get to your list of apps, and you can change the home screen grid to 5x5 to fit more on the screen at once. Finally, you can hold down on any home screen to align the icons to the top left or bottom right — or leave them strewn all over the place — to suit your desire for order or lack thereof.

5. Learn your gestures

There must be some advantage to moving the fingerprint sensor to the back of the phone, right? Well, Samsung allows you to use it to activate the notification shade by swiping down on that fingerprint sensor. The feature isn't enabled by default, so you're going to want to head to the phone's settings and go to Advanced features and enable Finger sensor gestures.

It seems like a nothing add-on, but once you enable it you'll realize how convenient it is to be able to swipe down on the fingerprint sensor to check notifications, especially right after unlocking the screen.

More: How to quickly get to the GS8 camera with the power button

6. Don't waste that screen space

The Galaxy S8 has a new, taller screen, and some apps don't support that extra vertical space out of the box. But it's easy to force them to — just head to the settings, go to Display and Full screen apps and check off the ones you want to force to fill the whole screen.

Some apps don't look perfect when stretched, but we haven't noticed any that look downright wrong, and that's all we can really ask for, at least until developers build in support for this new, taller format.

In an 18:9 world, we need a new way to quantify screen size

Your turn

What are some of your essential out-of-the-box Galaxy S8 tips and tricks? Let us know in the comments!

Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+

Main

Verizon AT&T T-Mobile Sprint

About

The Galaxy S8, and its larger sibling the S8+, are Samsung's top-end devices for 2017 meant to appeal to the general consumer and power user alike. The two phones are only differentiated by screen and battery size: 5.8 inches and 3000mAh, and 6.2 inches and 3500mAh.

The displays have a new 18.5:9 aspect ratio with a QHD+ resolution, meaning they're extra tall and narrow. Samsung moved to on-screen buttons and reduced bezel size dramatically in order to fit as much screen into the body as possible. That moved the fingerprint sensor to the back of the phones, where it sits somewhat-awkwardly next to the camera lens. Iris scanning makes its return in a new-and-improved version from the Note 7.

Though the batteries haven't increased in size from the Galaxy S7 and S7 edge, the hope is that the improved efficiency of the new 10 nm processor inside will provide some help. The processor is backed up by 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage. Waterproofing and wireless charging are still here as well, plus a new USB-C port on the bottom. The rear camera is unchanged in terms of its 12MP sensor and f/1.7 lens, but has improved processing thanks to a new ISP and software.

Specs

Width Height Thickness 5.86 in
148.9 mm
2.68 in
68.1 mm
0.31 in
8 mm
5.47 oz
155g grams
  • Display:
    • 5.8-inch AMOLED display
    • 2960x1440 resolution
    • 18.5:9 aspect ratio
    • Dual-curve infinity display
  • Cameras:
    • 12MP ƒ/1.7 rear camera
    • Dual-pixel phase detection autofocus
    • 1.4-micron pixels
    • 8MP ƒ/1.7 front camera
  • Battery:
    • 3000 mAh battery
    • Non-removable
    • USB-C fast Charging
    • Qi + PMA wireless charging
  • Chips:
    • Snapdragon 835 processor
    • Samsung Exynos 8896 processor
      (varies by region)
    • 4GB RAM
    • 64GB internal storage
    • microSD card slot
    • Android 7.0 Nougat
  • GS8+
    • Samsung Galaxy S8+
    • 6.2-inch AMOLED display
    • 3500mAh battery
    • 6.28 in x 2.89 in x 0.32 in
      159.5mm x 73.4mm x 8.1mm
    • 6.10 oz / 73g

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1 month ago

How to customize the Galaxy S8 navigation bar and home button

9
Galaxy S8 soft keys

It's easy to change the color or swap the order of your Galaxy S8's software keys.

The move to on-screen keys in the Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+ opens up new possibilities for customization. Unlike capacitive and hard keys, the GS8's buttons and status bar — the back, home and recent apps keys you see at the bottom of the screen — are part of the display, and can be controlled through Samsung's software.

And it turns out there are a few neat ways in which you can personalize your Galaxy S8's buttons. Here's how:

Background color

Navigation bar options

As the name suggests, the background color option allows you to set the hue of the lower area behind the on-screen buttons. By default, it's white, though it's worth noting that this setting only affects Samsung's own apps — standard Android apps will use the regular black background or whichever color the app's developer specifies.

There are a few pre-selected colors for you to choose from, or you can tap the color wheel to pick one of your own.

Unlock with Home button

The Unlock with Home button option is self-explanatory. By default, pressing the virtual home button while the screen is off takes you to the lock screen, where you can swipe to unlock using pattern, PIN, face unlock, or irises. (Or simply swipe to unlock if you're using Android's Smart Lock feature.)

With this option enabled, your phone will unlock immediately — after first checking your face, irises, or asking you for a PIN or pattern. (With Smart Lock, you'll simply press to unlock.)

Note: This setting won't affect how the fingerprint scanner works. If you have fingerprint unlock set up, unlocking via the fingerprint scanner will always bypass the lock screen.

Button layout

Button layout

By default, the Galaxy S8's keys are arranged in the same order as older Samsung phones — recents - home - back. If you're used to the button layout used by most other Android phones — back - home - recents — you may want to switch to this layout.

How to switch the position of the navigation buttons on the Galaxy S8

Home button sensitivity

This one's self-explanatory: You've got five levels of sensitivity to choose from to decide how hard you'll need to press the screen for the GS8 to register a hard press on the home key.

Obviously, this only applies to hard presses such as when you're unlocking the phone or using the home button from within a full-screen app where the soft keys are invisible.

Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+

Main

Verizon AT&T T-Mobile Sprint

About

The Galaxy S8, and its larger sibling the S8+, are Samsung's top-end devices for 2017 meant to appeal to the general consumer and power user alike. The two phones are only differentiated by screen and battery size: 5.8 inches and 3000mAh, and 6.2 inches and 3500mAh.

The displays have a new 18.5:9 aspect ratio with a QHD+ resolution, meaning they're extra tall and narrow. Samsung moved to on-screen buttons and reduced bezel size dramatically in order to fit as much screen into the body as possible. That moved the fingerprint sensor to the back of the phones, where it sits somewhat-awkwardly next to the camera lens. Iris scanning makes its return in a new-and-improved version from the Note 7.

Though the batteries haven't increased in size from the Galaxy S7 and S7 edge, the hope is that the improved efficiency of the new 10 nm processor inside will provide some help. The processor is backed up by 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage. Waterproofing and wireless charging are still here as well, plus a new USB-C port on the bottom. The rear camera is unchanged in terms of its 12MP sensor and f/1.7 lens, but has improved processing thanks to a new ISP and software.

Specs

Width Height Thickness 5.86 in
148.9 mm
2.68 in
68.1 mm
0.31 in
8 mm
5.47 oz
155g grams
  • Display:
    • 5.8-inch AMOLED display
    • 2960x1440 resolution
    • 18.5:9 aspect ratio
    • Dual-curve infinity display
  • Cameras:
    • 12MP ƒ/1.7 rear camera
    • Dual-pixel phase detection autofocus
    • 1.4-micron pixels
    • 8MP ƒ/1.7 front camera
  • Battery:
    • 3000 mAh battery
    • Non-removable
    • USB-C fast Charging
    • Qi + PMA wireless charging
  • Chips:
    • Snapdragon 835 processor
    • Samsung Exynos 8896 processor
      (varies by region)
    • 4GB RAM
    • 64GB internal storage
    • microSD card slot
    • Android 7.0 Nougat
  • GS8+
    • Samsung Galaxy S8+
    • 6.2-inch AMOLED display
    • 3500mAh battery
    • 6.28 in x 2.89 in x 0.32 in
      159.5mm x 73.4mm x 8.1mm
    • 6.10 oz / 73g

Read more and comment

 
1 month ago

How to enable or disable the LG G6's camera roll — and why you may want to leave it off

6
LG G6

The LG G6 lets you see a scrolling strip of recent photos, but you may want to leave it off for quicker camera load times.

The LG G6 has a lot of neat features that utilize the taller 18:9 aspect ratio, letting you see more at once. One of those can be found in the camera app. The filmstrip view — officially called "camera roll" — gives you a scrolling vertical strip of recent photos off to the left of your main viewfinder. It's a great way to use up some of that extra height, since the sensor itself shoots in 4:3 natively.

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1 month ago

Nougat is now available for the Note 5 on all major U.S. carriers

69

Samsung's 2015 phones are beginning to receive Nougat in the U.S.

Update, April 24: It looks like T-Mobile has rolled out Android 7.0 Nougat to its Galaxy Note 5 units, too! Go get it!

Three of the four big U.S. carriers are rolling out Android 7.0 Nougat to the Galaxy S6, S6 edge, S6 edge+ and Note 5 over the week, much to the delight of impatient users everywhere.

Sprint and Verizon were first out of the gate to bring Samsung's 2015 suite of phones to its latest version of the Samsung Experience, which improves the design of the UI and upgrades things like notifications and multitasking. AT&T followed shortly thereafter. Here's a look at what to expect, as seen on the Galaxy S7.

Here are the phones that have received updates so far:

  • Galaxy S6: Sprint
  • Galaxy S6 edge: Sprint
  • Galaxy S6 edge+: AT&T, Verizon
  • Galaxy Note 5: Sprint, Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile

No word on when the T-Mobile variants will get Nougat.

Samsung Galaxy Note 5

AT&T Sprint T-Mobile Verizon Best Buy

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1 month ago

Samsung and Qualcomm said to be working on Galaxy S9 processor, because of course they are

51
Qualcomm + Samsung execs

It'd be more surprising if they weren't.

The just-released Samsung Galaxy S8? Old news. The Korean media is already trying to sniff out details of Samsung's first major handset for 2018, presumably the Galaxy S9.

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1 month ago

LG G6 with Quad DAC and 64GB storage lands in India for ₹51,990

21

LG G6 comes with attractive pricing and a slew of launch-day offers.

The LG G6 is now official in India, with the phone set to go on sale starting tomorrow exclusively on Amazon India for ₹51,990 ($805). LG is obviously targeting the Galaxy S8 and S8+ with its flagship, and the pricing reflects that. The Indian variant of the G6 comes with a 32-bit Quad DAC and 64GB storage, and is ₹6,000 ($95) less than the Galaxy S8. When seen against the Galaxy S8+, which is retailing for ₹64,900 ($1,005), the G6 turns out to be an even better deal.

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1 month ago

Make the Bixby button great again: BixRemap will open Google Now instead

67

If Bixby isn't your thing, here's how to replace it with Google Now.

The Galaxy S8 has been mostly well received by everyone. Blogger and users who have scored their phones already are saying really good things, and even the naysayers are impressed with the hardware. It just seems like a damn good phone so far. But there is one thing a lot of folks are saying they would like to change: The Bixby button.

Bixby seems like a cool robot friend AI thing. Unless you're on Verizon or in Europe, that is. I won't dismiss it outright until I've tried it long enough to know if I like it or not.

But other people feel differently and want the convenience and familiarity that comes with Google Now and hate that the button is hard-programmed to open Bixby when pressed. Earlier methods to bypass this have been patched by Samsung as they "exploited" services that they didn't need to access in order to gain control over the button. But because Android developers are crafty and awesome, we have a new app that will save the day.

Developer Dave Bennett is using his own service (you'll need to enable it when you first run the app) that overrides the Bixby behavior. When you press the button, Bixby opens but is quickly backgrounded while Google Now opens. Ha! Awesome, Dave.

You can grab the app (it's free) from the Play Store link above. We don't know if Samsung will find this app not to their liking and patch it away, but it works today so live in the moment and show Bixby who is the boss.

Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+

Main

Verizon AT&T T-Mobile Sprint

About

The Galaxy S8, and its larger sibling the S8+, are Samsung's top-end devices for 2017 meant to appeal to the general consumer and power user alike. The two phones are only differentiated by screen and battery size: 5.8 inches and 3000mAh, and 6.2 inches and 3500mAh.

The displays have a new 18.5:9 aspect ratio with a QHD+ resolution, meaning they're extra tall and narrow. Samsung moved to on-screen buttons and reduced bezel size dramatically in order to fit as much screen into the body as possible. That moved the fingerprint sensor to the back of the phones, where it sits somewhat-awkwardly next to the camera lens. Iris scanning makes its return in a new-and-improved version from the Note 7.

Though the batteries haven't increased in size from the Galaxy S7 and S7 edge, the hope is that the improved efficiency of the new 10 nm processor inside will provide some help. The processor is backed up by 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage. Waterproofing and wireless charging are still here as well, plus a new USB-C port on the bottom. The rear camera is unchanged in terms of its 12MP sensor and f/1.7 lens, but has improved processing thanks to a new ISP and software.

Specs

Width Height Thickness 5.86 in
148.9 mm
2.68 in
68.1 mm
0.31 in
8 mm
5.47 oz
155g grams
  • Display:
    • 5.8-inch AMOLED display
    • 2960x1440 resolution
    • 18.5:9 aspect ratio
    • Dual-curve infinity display
  • Cameras:
    • 12MP ƒ/1.7 rear camera
    • Dual-pixel phase detection autofocus
    • 1.4-micron pixels
    • 8MP ƒ/1.7 front camera
  • Battery:
    • 3000 mAh battery
    • Non-removable
    • USB-C fast Charging
    • Qi + PMA wireless charging
  • Chips:
    • Snapdragon 835 processor
    • Samsung Exynos 8896 processor
      (varies by region)
    • 4GB RAM
    • 64GB internal storage
    • microSD card slot
    • Android 7.0 Nougat
  • GS8+
    • Samsung Galaxy S8+
    • 6.2-inch AMOLED display
    • 3500mAh battery
    • 6.28 in x 2.89 in x 0.32 in
      159.5mm x 73.4mm x 8.1mm
    • 6.10 oz / 73g

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1 month ago

Smart Lock on the Galaxy S8: Everything you need to know

78

The Galaxy S8's fingerprint sensor placement has some people in a tizzy. Here's how to avoid using it and still keep your device safe.

The Galaxy S8 is a great phone with a lot of ways to unlock the screen. That stems from the fact that Samsung relocated the fingerprint sensor from the front below the screen, which is easy to reach, to the back next to the camera, which is considerably harder. Then it added two new ways to unlock the phone with one's face, but neither of them are as easy and seamless (though they're pretty darn close) than a fingerprint sensor below the screen.

So what's a person to do? How do you overcome this? Well, you could just adapt and learn to live with it, but that's no fun, right? We like to complain and then find better ways to do the same thing! If that describes you to a tee, then let's talk about Fitbit.

Fitbit? Daniel, you crazy

Hear me out. Samsung has included a popular Android feature called Smart Lock that uses an idea called persistent authentication to temporarily disable the phone's lock screen for a period of time. The idea behind persistent auth is that once you prove to the phone that you are you, you shouldn't necessarily have to continue doing so as long as that cycle of trust isn't broken.

You can wear a Fitbit, or any Bluetooth wearable, to safely bypass the lock screen at any time.

So Google figured out a way to do this, and integrated it into Google Play Services a couple of years ago. It's not necessarily the most popular Android feature, which is why it's often overlooked, and perfect for a phone that makes it just a bit too difficult to quickly unlock using a biometric passcode.

While wearing a Fitbit, or any other Bluetooth-enabled device that has a persistent Low Energy (LE) connection to the Galaxy S8, Smart Lock allows users to bypass the unlock process entirely. This makes it easy just to push the invisible home button on the front of the Galaxy S8 (it's always on, even when there's nothing on the screen) to get to the home screen, or press the home button after quick-launching the camera without having to wait for the phone to unlock.

Smart Lock isn't a perfect fix to your Galaxy S8 biometrics troubles, of course: for security reasons, you're forced to re-enter a lock pattern or PIN after four hours of inactivity; and it doesn't always detect the Bluetooth device, even when it's right next to the phone. I wore a Fitbit Alta HR the entire time I reviewed the Galaxy S8 and only had this happen a couple of times, but it was annoying when it did.

Of course, you don't have to use a Fitbit, or even a wearable, to engage in Smart Lock's Trusted Devices feature. It can be any Bluetooth device, including a speaker, selfie stick, or something else entirely. As long as it is connected to your phone, it will work. I just recommend a wearable because, well, it's generally attached to you and harder to steal than a selfie stick or a speaker. It would also be great if Trusted Devices worked with biometric persistent authentication, so it would automatically disconnect not with the Bluetooth connection but with the cessation of a readable heart rate.

See Fitbit Alta HR at Amazon

Other ways to Smart (un)Lock

Trusted Devices aren't the only way to bypass Samsung's lock screen hell. Google has incorporated three other methods, too, and all can work for you.

  • On-body detection keeps the phone unlocked when the proximity sensor is engaged. The idea is that the phone is in your pocket, so Google trusts it's you who has possession. Once you remove the phone from your pocket, you have a few seconds of freedom before the lock mechanism springs back into place. This doesn't always work consistently with every phone, but it's done a good job on the Galaxy S8.
  • Trusted voice is a way to unlock your Galaxy S8 with your voice by saying "OK Google", and it works well, but the screen has to be turned on (but still locked) for the feature to engage, which isn't as useful.
  • Trusted location puts a geofence around an area — your house, your work — where the phone will stay unlocked (for four hours, at least) when you're there. Because it uses an approximate location to save power, Trusted Location isn't a particularly secure method for maintaining authentication, but it's convenient. Only use this when you're sure your device is safe.

How to enable Smart Lock on your Galaxy S8

Want this on your phone? Here are the steps to enable Smart Lock.

  1. Swipe down from the notification shade on your home screen.
  2. Tap on Settings icon (cog shape).
  3. Tap on Lock screen and security.
  4. Tap on Smart Lock.
  5. Enter your unlock code.

  6. Select On-body detection, Trusted places, Trusted device, or Trusted voice.
  7. Configure your Smart Lock settings.

No cure for the common outrage

None of these methods are complete solutions for your Galaxy S8 unlock vitriol. If you can't overcome your absolute hatred for the placement of the fingerprint sensor or the perceived slowness of the iris scanner, you probably shouldn't buy the phone.

But I can assure you that, after using both the Galaxy S8 and the S8+ for a number of weeks, the combination of fingerprint, facial and Google's own Smart Lock procedures is a recipe for certain success. Even without Smart Lock, I've found a fairly good rhythm just using a combo of face unlock and the fingerprint sensor, but the addition of a trusted device like the Fitbit Alta HR improved that process immensely.

What do you think? Would something like Smart Lock be enough to overcome your hesitation in buying a Galaxy S8? Let us know in the comments!

Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+

Main

Verizon AT&T T-Mobile Sprint

About

The Galaxy S8, and its larger sibling the S8+, are Samsung's top-end devices for 2017 meant to appeal to the general consumer and power user alike. The two phones are only differentiated by screen and battery size: 5.8 inches and 3000mAh, and 6.2 inches and 3500mAh.

The displays have a new 18.5:9 aspect ratio with a QHD+ resolution, meaning they're extra tall and narrow. Samsung moved to on-screen buttons and reduced bezel size dramatically in order to fit as much screen into the body as possible. That moved the fingerprint sensor to the back of the phones, where it sits somewhat-awkwardly next to the camera lens. Iris scanning makes its return in a new-and-improved version from the Note 7.

Though the batteries haven't increased in size from the Galaxy S7 and S7 edge, the hope is that the improved efficiency of the new 10 nm processor inside will provide some help. The processor is backed up by 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage. Waterproofing and wireless charging are still here as well, plus a new USB-C port on the bottom. The rear camera is unchanged in terms of its 12MP sensor and f/1.7 lens, but has improved processing thanks to a new ISP and software.

Specs

Width Height Thickness 5.86 in
148.9 mm
2.68 in
68.1 mm
0.31 in
8 mm
5.47 oz
155g grams
  • Display:
    • 5.8-inch AMOLED display
    • 2960x1440 resolution
    • 18.5:9 aspect ratio
    • Dual-curve infinity display
  • Cameras:
    • 12MP ƒ/1.7 rear camera
    • Dual-pixel phase detection autofocus
    • 1.4-micron pixels
    • 8MP ƒ/1.7 front camera
  • Battery:
    • 3000 mAh battery
    • Non-removable
    • USB-C fast Charging
    • Qi + PMA wireless charging
  • Chips:
    • Snapdragon 835 processor
    • Samsung Exynos 8896 processor
      (varies by region)
    • 4GB RAM
    • 64GB internal storage
    • microSD card slot
    • Android 7.0 Nougat
  • GS8+
    • Samsung Galaxy S8+
    • 6.2-inch AMOLED display
    • 3500mAh battery
    • 6.28 in x 2.89 in x 0.32 in
      159.5mm x 73.4mm x 8.1mm
    • 6.10 oz / 73g

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1 month ago

Jelly smartphone review: So tiny

38

The company that built Jelly doesn't claim it's the smallest smartphone in the world. (That honor might instead belong to its predecessor, the Posh Micro X.) Rather, Jelly is touted as the world's smallest smartphone that also includes 4G. Toss in Android 7.0, dual SIMs, a replaceable battery and a full-size headphone jack, and you start to wonder if maybe a phone that fits in your coin pocket is worth making a few sacrifices – like re-learning how to type on a keyboard the size of a matchbook. And that's not even taking into account the bargain-basement price.

Is Jelly worth braving the hazards of Kickstarter and MediaTek processors? Is "world's smallest smartphone" really a title anyone should be chasing? Just how bad can a smartphone camera get, anyway? Hit the MrMobile video above and see if Jelly is a fit for the smartphone lightweight in your life (or a good second phone for the days you need to travel light)

Stay social, my friends

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1 month ago

Sorry, Verizon users: Bixby is even more crippled on the Galaxy S8

106

Adding insult to injury, half of Bixby Vision's functionality doesn't yet work if you're on Big Red's network.

We're all a little bummed about Bixby. Samsung's version of its virtual assistant isn't everything we'd hoped it would be, especially from a company as big and as established as one of the world's major smartphone manufacturers. And to make matters worse, Verizon users won't be able to use half of the one part of Bixby that works — Bixby Vision.

Bixby Vision lets you snap photos of things and retrieve relevant images or shopping links. The latter is particularly useful when you're at a brick and mortar store, for instance, and you're looking for a deal online. Bixby Vision lets you find those items on Amazon with the simple snap of a photo, but not so with the Verizon variant of the Galaxy S8 or S8+. According to CNET — and later verified on the AC staff's Verizon version of the Galaxy S8+ — Bixby Vision can snap a photo and look for images, but it won't offer shopping links on Amazon, nor does it offer the option.

Verizon had told The Verge that in the meantime, people can use "the existing Amazon app on your Samsung Galaxy S8 for the same photo and shopping experience." Sure, you can still search for things on Amazon by simply launch the Amazon app and typing them in yourself, but it's odd that one of the few successful functions Bixby is supposed to perform is crippled by one of the U.S.'s largest carriers.

For now, all that Bixby does on the Verizon variant of the Galaxy S8 and S8+ is launch the Bixby feed and show you related images on Pinterest.

Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+

Main

Verizon AT&T T-Mobile Sprint

About

The Galaxy S8, and its larger sibling the S8+, are Samsung's top-end devices for 2017 meant to appeal to the general consumer and power user alike. The two phones are only differentiated by screen and battery size: 5.8 inches and 3000mAh, and 6.2 inches and 3500mAh.

The displays have a new 18.5:9 aspect ratio with a QHD+ resolution, meaning they're extra tall and narrow. Samsung moved to on-screen buttons and reduced bezel size dramatically in order to fit as much screen into the body as possible. That moved the fingerprint sensor to the back of the phones, where it sits somewhat-awkwardly next to the camera lens. Iris scanning makes its return in a new-and-improved version from the Note 7.

Though the batteries haven't increased in size from the Galaxy S7 and S7 edge, the hope is that the improved efficiency of the new 10 nm processor inside will provide some help. The processor is backed up by 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage. Waterproofing and wireless charging are still here as well, plus a new USB-C port on the bottom. The rear camera is unchanged in terms of its 12MP sensor and f/1.7 lens, but has improved processing thanks to a new ISP and software.

Specs

Width Height Thickness 5.86 in
148.9 mm
2.68 in
68.1 mm
0.31 in
8 mm
5.47 oz
155g grams
  • Display:
    • 5.8-inch AMOLED display
    • 2960x1440 resolution
    • 18.5:9 aspect ratio
    • Dual-curve infinity display
  • Cameras:
    • 12MP ƒ/1.7 rear camera
    • Dual-pixel phase detection autofocus
    • 1.4-micron pixels
    • 8MP ƒ/1.7 front camera
  • Battery:
    • 3000 mAh battery
    • Non-removable
    • USB-C fast Charging
    • Qi + PMA wireless charging
  • Chips:
    • Snapdragon 835 processor
    • Samsung Exynos 8896 processor
      (varies by region)
    • 4GB RAM
    • 64GB internal storage
    • microSD card slot
    • Android 7.0 Nougat
  • GS8+
    • Samsung Galaxy S8+
    • 6.2-inch AMOLED display
    • 3500mAh battery
    • 6.28 in x 2.89 in x 0.32 in
      159.5mm x 73.4mm x 8.1mm
    • 6.10 oz / 73g

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1 month ago

Mint SIM review: The AC community weighs in

Four Android Central community members give their thoughts on the value-first alternative carrier, Mint SIM.

We know that our readers are pretty savvy folks, and want the best deal for mobile data they can find. Mint SIM, which you've seen mentioned a lot on the site in recent months, is an alternative carrier that promises great LTE speeds and coverage for less than any other carrier.

But people were skeptical — what's the catch? Why is it so cheap? And are there any downsides? We decided to let the AC community decide for itself. Four forum members, some of whom were provided Mint SIM service in exchange for moderating the forum (but were not influenced for a review in any way) had this to say.

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On setting it up

All four reviewers had a very easy time setting up Mint SIM because it is essentially "plug and play." You get a SIM kit in the mail, which takes a couple of days, and go to the company's web page to activate the SIM card. Here's what DecAway had to say:

I turned my device off, pulled out the old SIM card and popped the Mint Sim, SIM card into my phone and powered it back up. After a few minutes of working your way through the activation process, you'll be in business and can power up your device and connect to the network. I was actually pleasantly surprised at the ease of activating the SIM and establishing service!

The others noted that the APN — the address that allows the SIM to connect to the Mint SIM network — should automatically work, but on some phones it may need to be entered manually. That's easy enough, since instructions are in the Getting Started guide. dpham00 said this:

Setup was straightforward. The provided pamphlet guides you through the activation process, porting your phone number (optional), inserting your sim (the provided sim has perforations, and can be punched out for a mini, micro, or nano sim), and setting up the APN. After doing the activation process, I didn't have to do any setup at all, I just popped in the sim and everything worked fine.

How to set up the APN on your phone

On performance

Here's where things get interesting. All four reviewers agreed that performance was good, not great, and that it varied wildly depending on the time of day and the location. dpham00 said that his experience was inconsistent:

Performance seemed to be a little inconsistent – even immediately after getting a good speed test, I would sometimes struggle to open a web page. This could be an issue with the Mint sim being de-prioritized over T-Mobile customers, or something with the connection itself as sometimes, simply turning airplane mode on, and off again, will get things going.

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He notes that, indeed, because Mint SIM is an MVNO — an alternative carrier — it must piggyback off a larger network, which in this case is T-Mobile. While it's unlikely that T-Mobile is actively deprioritizing Mint SIM traffic, it not be privy to the network's fastest speeds, especially during times of congestion.

DecAway had a similar experience, but found that performance was mainly very good, and quite reliable:

After a week of using the service I can tell you that it's definitely not always "blazing" fast, as noted by Mint SIM, but it can be… and it is adequate. Mint Sim users are naturally deprioritized, meaning in congested areas your bandwidth will be much more limited at times, which I attribute to the slower speeds that I received. However, is that necessarily bad? Well, the answer is that it depends. First, objectively, I just paid roughly $12 bucks for 2GB of LTE data... Reflecting on my experience with Mint Sim so far, I have been able to achieve download speeds of up to 21.04mbps and 12.24mbps, with a top-end 13.79mbps and 9.99mbps upload speeds.

Those are pretty good speeds. VDub2174 had a similarly good experience, but remarked on the excellent Mint SIM coverage:

Coverage was great for me! When I checked the coverage map I saw that I was in an area that got great 4G LTE coverage. Living in a suburb area I sometimes get spotty 4G LTE but in my direct neighborhood it was great. I kept an eye on my reception while going about my day and saw that coverage was on point with my T-Mobile phone.

He also enjoyed access to Wi-Fi Calling, which is a hallmark T-Mobile feature that made the jump to its MVNO partners.

User Golfdriver97 also enjoyed the wide coverage provided by T-Mobile's network, saying he didn't have a problem with speed or network availability anywhere he went.

Had good to high signal where I went. So there wasn't any gaps in coverage.

On value

All four reviewers noted that Mint SIM, even with its sometimes-spotty LTE data speeds, is a good deal. From dpham00:

So the question you are having now is – is it worth it? I would say for the price, absolutely. It is aggressively priced if you are willing to make a commitment from 3 months and up, especially at the one year mark. Sure it has a few hiccups here and there, but if you are looking at Mint sim, then you are looking for a bargain basement pricing, and as such, you will have to deal with the occasional problem here and there. If you are using it a lot and demand the best performance, then you would probably be better off with one of the big 3. However, I think this is great for someone who uses the internet somewhat sparingly and can accept some hiccups.

Golfdriver97 agrees:

I would honestly say give them a shot. Start by getting an independent number at first. This way you aren't porting your number and find out that it doesn't work for you.

That's another sentiment shared by all reviewers: Mint SIM is alright as a primary number — VDub2174 said his number was recycled and received a lot of spam calls — but better as a secondary number primarily for data usage. While Mint SIM doesn't support tethering, it's a good way to watch media on the go for less money.

DecAway said that Mint SIM is great for most situations:

If you carry two phones around like me and can turn on wireless tethering with the other device, it really makes up for the shortfalls. If you're cool with occasional inconsistencies in data speeds, then it's also less worrisome. Call quality and messaging are more than adequate, so if you really need a cheap phone plan with the promise of internet in uncongested areas and off-peak times, this could be the answer for you.

He also notes that the promotional pricing, which is $35 for 3 months, with 2GB of data, is only for new customers, so it's an easy investment to try, but costs will go up eventually. (You can get 20% off a 6-month or 1-year plan with the offer code "ACMINTSIM20", by the way.)

Finally, VDub2174 sums it up nicely:

Pricing is very affordable when compared to other plans so if you're looking for a plan that gives you the most bang for your buck, I would check out Mint SIM.

So there you go. Mint SIM is a great choice for people who don't need tethering, and can deal with a few occasional slowdowns when it comes to cheap wireless data service.

Head to our dedicated Mint SIM forums to ask questions and get more information!

Alternative carriers (MVNOS)

img { width: 100%; height: auto; } .devicebox ul { display: table; margin: 0 0 10px; width: 100%; } .devicebox ul li { background: #f7f7f7; margin: 2px 0; padding: 4px 15px; } .devicebox ul li:hover { background: #fff; } .devicebox ul li:before { display: none; } .devicebox p ~ p { line-height: 1.25; } .devicebox p:first-of-type + p { padding: 15px; } .devicebox a.buy-link { border-radius: 5px; display: inline-block; font: 14px/31px "Proxima Nova Extrabld",Helvetica,Arial,sans-serif; text-align: center; } .devicebox a.buy-link, .devicebox a.buy-link:link, .devicebox a.buy-link:active, .devicebox a.buy-link:visited { background: #37B5D7; color: #FFF; } .devicebox a.buy-link:hover { background: #2694B2; text-decoration: none; } .devicebox a.buy-link:before { content: "\e61e"; font: 40px/0 "ac_iconset" !important; margin: 0 3px 0 -8px; vertical-align: middle; } @media all and (min-width: 1025px), all and (max-width: 800px) and (min-width: 660px) { /* div:not(.columns-3) excludes help menu content */ .article-body-wrap > div:not(.columns-3) > *:first-child:not(.sticky-wrapper) .devicebox { padding: 20px 0 25px; } .article-body-wrap > div:not(.columns-3) > *:first-child:not(.sticky-wrapper) .devicebox .video { float: left; margin: 0 30px 0 0; width: calc(100% - 375px); } .article-body-wrap > div:not(.columns-3) > *:first-child:not(.sticky-wrapper) .devicebox h3 + p { bottom: 37px; display: block; overflow: hidden; position: absolute; top: 60px; width: calc(100% - 375px); } .article-body-wrap > div:not(.columns-3) > *:first-child:not(.sticky-wrapper) .devicebox p img, .article-body-wrap > div:not(.columns-3) > *:first-child:not(.sticky-wrapper) .devicebox p > img { position: absolute; top: 50%; transform: translateY(-50%); } .article-body-wrap > div:not(.columns-3) > *:first-child:not(.sticky-wrapper) .devicebox p:nth-child(n+3), .article-body-wrap > div:not(.columns-3) > *:first-child:not(.sticky-wrapper) .devicebox ul { box-sizing: border-box; margin-left: calc(100% - 345px); width: 340px; } .article-body-wrap > div:not(.columns-3) > *:first-child:not(.sticky-wrapper) .devicebox p.list-head { margin-top: -5px; } } @media all and (max-width: 1024px) and (min-width: 801px), all and (max-width: 660px) { .devicebox h3 { text-align: center; } .devicebox ul, .devicebox p { display: block; } } @media all and (max-width: 800px) and (min-width: 660px) { .devicebox { padding: 20px 0 25px; } .devicebox .video { float: left; margin: 0 30px 0 0; width: calc(100% - 375px); } .devicebox h3 + p { bottom: 37px; display: block; overflow: hidden; position: absolute; top: 60px; width: calc(100% - 375px); } .devicebox p img, .devicebox p > img { position: absolute; top: 50%; transform: translateY(-50%); } .devicebox p:nth-child(n+3), .devicebox ul { box-sizing: border-box; margin-left: calc(100% - 345px); width: 340px; } .devicebox p.list-head { margin-top: -5px; } } @media all and (min-width: 1025px), all and (max-width: 800px) and (min-width: 661px), all and (max-width: 500px) { /* 2x buy buttons */ .devicebox a.buy-link { width: calc(50% - 2.5px); margin: 0 5px 5px 0; } .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-of-type(even) { margin: 0 0 5px 0; } .devicebox a.buy-link:last-of-type:nth-of-type(odd) { width: 100%; } } @media all and (max-width: 1024px) and (min-width: 801px), all and (max-width: 659px) and (min-width: 501px) { /* 3x buy buttons */ .devicebox a.buy-link { width: calc(100%/3 - 10px/3); margin: 0 5px 5px 0; } .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-of-type(3n):not(:nth-last-of-type(2)) { margin: 0 0 5px 0; } .devicebox a.buy-link:only-child { width: 100%; margin: 0 0 5px 0; } .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-last-of-type(2):nth-of-type(3n+1), .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-last-of-type(2):nth-of-type(3n+1) ~ a.buy-link, .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-last-of-type(4):nth-of-type(3n+1), .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-last-of-type(4):nth-of-type(3n+1) ~ a.buy-link { width: calc(50% - 2.5px); } .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-last-of-type(2):nth-of-type(3n+1) ~ a.buy-link, .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-last-of-type(4):nth-of-type(3n+1) ~ a.buy-link:nth-last-of-type(odd) { margin: 0 0 5px 0; } } @media all and (max-width: 800px) { .devicebox { margin: 0 0 30px; max-width: none; width: auto; } } @media all and (max-width: 500px) { .devicebox { margin: 0 0 30px; max-width: none; width: auto; } .devicebox a.buy-link:before { display: none; } } .page-admin .devicebox {max-width: 350px;} .page-admin .devicebox .video_iframe {position: relative; height: 0; padding-bottom: 56.9%;} .page-admin .devicebox .video_iframe iframe {width: 100%; height: 100%; position: absolute;} /*-->*/ /*-->*/ /*-->*/

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1 month ago

Where to buy the Samsung Galaxy S8 in the U.S.

69
Samsung Galaxy S8+

Here's where you can buy Samsung's latest phones.

The Galaxy S8 and S8+ are up for sale just about everywhere, with carriers and retailers getting in on the action. Pre-orders ran for a full three weeks before the proper release, but now it's open season and you can buy online pretty much anywhere you turn.

Here are the details when it comes to availability of the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+ in the U.S.

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