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20 hours ago

Best Galaxy Note 7 tips and tricks

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How can I make my Galaxy Note 7 even better, right out of the box?

The Galaxy Note 7 is Samsung's best phone ever, but it's not perfect. Some of the out-the-box settings are a little strange, and others are downright frustrating. Here's how you can make it the best possible experience — immediately!

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20 hours ago

Google Pixel: Welcome to your new, very circular home screen

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Circular icons

Might Google's new phones consign us to a world of circular icons? And what would that mean for other Android phone makers?

The first leaked Google Pixel phone render doesn't show us a whole lot. It's a rounded rectangle with a screen on the front, an earpiece, cameras, sensors and buttons. By far the most interesting thing about the leaked image is what's on that screen.

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21 hours ago

Google and Udacity now have a VR Developer Nanodegree!

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Get a crash course in VR development.

Google's relationship with Udacity over the last year has led to several fantastic Android developer Nanodegree programs, and today the two companies have announced a new direction for their partnership. Anyone looking to get a quick, meaningful education in the world of VR development can sign up for the new Virtual Reality Developer Nanodegree program available starting today. According to Google and Udacity, the Nanodegree focuses on:

  • Mobile phone-based VR and Desktop VR
  • Game engines
  • VR design and user interaction
  • 360 media including immersive imagery, 360 video and spatial sound
  • Performance and ergonomics
  • VR platforms, including HTC Vive, Google Cardboard (Android + iOS), Daydream and Oculus Rift

This is a highly anticipated continuation of the focus on VR seen at Google I/O this past year. Google's efforts in VR extend well beyond enabling developers to support Google Cardboard and Daydream thanks to support from Unity 3D and others. With the overall goal of making it possible for developers to make a single VR experience available on multiple platforms, it's clear there's a lot happening to ensure Google's Daydream platform has plenty of quality support when it is released.

With Google's VR SDK already available and this Nanodegree empowering new developers, there are surely high hopes for Daydream. The timing of this release may mean Daydream isn't going to be available alongside the launch of Google's new Pixel phones, but we'll have plenty of details on that front after the launch event on October 4. Until then, break out the virtual textbooks and build something cool for VR!

Sign up for the VR Developer Nanodegree at Udacity!

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22 hours ago

Honor 8 Second Opinion: A great phone with a few quirks

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With Honor not being a huge player in the U.S., the Honor 8 may not be on your radar, but it should be.

Honor is moving towards a larger presence in the States, and the Honor 8 is a great product. Bringing to market a powerful phone that has specs people crave, with awesome build quality, makes the phone quite attractive to many. Over the past two years the budget space has become a whole lot more competitive, with great offerings coming from OnePlus, ZTE, Alcatel and other players.

If you are in the market for a new phone but don't want a monthly payment, or don't think that any phone is worth $800 or more, the Honor 8 offers you a great way to get that premium experience without the price tag. For all the things that Honor did great with it, there are a number of things that could stand to change as well, so let's take a look at some of them.

For the past two weeks, my T-Mobile SIM card has been in the Honor 8, and it may stay in for longer. Here's why.

Hardware

It seems like we've hit peak hardware design on mobile phones. Over the past few years, things have started looking increasingly similar, and those who are trying new things are getting ridiculed for it. Honor goes with a tried and true design on the Honor 8, but does it in a clean and classy way. The front of the phone is a single glass panel that doesn't have much of bezel on the top or bottom. At the top you've got a LED in the speaker grill, the front-facing camera, and a proximity sensor. Honor has placed its logo down at the bottom, which takes away from the clean look a bit.

It seems like we've hit peak hardware design on mobile phones.

Around the back, you've got the dual camera set up at the top, with the fingerprint sensor below that. There is another Honor branding at the bottom of the phone with a bit more text, but that is far less noticeable than the one around the front. It is also a glass back, which can be slippery and needs to be treated with care. The left side of the phone has the SIM and SD card tray, and around the right side you've got a volume rocker at the top and the power button beneath that.

In the hand, the Honor 8 feels as good as it looks. It can be slippery, and the glass back is likely to get some scratches over time, but that doesn't take away from it. Honor has gone with USB-C for the charging port down at the bottom, and next to that is the headphone jack.

Software

If you aren't familiar with Huawei and Honor's EMUI, you are in for quite an experience with this one. For all the things that it does well, there are an equal number of things that are enough to drive you nuts. Since you are buying an unlocked phone here, you don't have to worry about it being bogged down by carrier bloat, though there are a few apps that you will likely want to remove. Luckily, removing them is as easy as heading into Google Play and uninstalling them, or going to the app manager to do the same.

In the hand, the Honor 8 feels as good as it looks.

EMUI 4.1 definitely feels pretty polished but also lacking some basic Android functionality that you may be used to. One of the biggest qualms that I have with it is the lack of ability to act on your notifications from the lock screen. You can see the notifications, and swipe to launch the corresponding app, but that is it. You can't delete your emails or quickly reply to a text message from your lock screen. You have to unlock the phone, then head into the app and do what you need to do. Sure, it's part of the way that EMUI works at a core level, but it quickly becomes frustrating, especially if this isn't your first Android phone.

Navigating the OS is fast, and fluid. There is no app drawer, so all of your app icons sit on the home screens. You can organize them into folders but you can't take them off the home screen and put them in the app drawer. Of course, you could always download a third-party launcher like Nova or Action 3, but Honor even somewhat buries the setting to switch which of them is your default.

For all the things Honor's software does well, there are an equal number of things that are enough to drive you nuts.

With EMUI, you aren't stuck with the icons and other UI elements, as they can be easily themed. While discovery on the themes lacks, you can download a few from Google Play (with Stockify being a personal favorite) and some forums offer others as well. The problem with downloading them from forums is that you are manually hunting down updates for it each time, the themes won't automatically update or even notify you there is a new version.

Honor has already committed to bringing Android Nougat to the phone, along with EMUI 5.0, which is said to improve some of the features that people don't care for in current versions of the OS.

Camera

I am by no means an excellent photographer, but having a camera that works well definitely helps. The Honor 8 camera is an excellent one and offers the ability to shoot in auto or head into Pro mode for even more control. On the rear, you've got a 12MP dual-camera set up, which has one of them giving the phone a color image and the other monochrome. You don't need to handle them separately or worry about them, they do what they need to do behind the scenes.

Once you launch the camera you can swipe to the left or right to reveal more options if you don't want to just point and shoot. Swiping towards the left will bring up a menu to adjust the size of the image, add a grid, location services, etc. A swipe in the opposite direction brings up the other modes so you can switch from Auto to Pro or HDR and pano. The camera is very easy to use, and with little effort, you should be able to capture some images that you are extremely happy with.

The camera on the Honor 8 is something you'd expect to find on a more expensive phone, but it has a few quirks as well. The f/2.2 lens is a little on the slow side, and you won't get OIS here either. At times, the camera can have trouble picking a focal spot, but that wasn't overly frequent. You won't be replacing your DSLR by carrying this around, but you will be able to take some pictures that you can certainly be proud of. The more time you spend playing with the Pro settings, the better the pictures can get.

Around the front, Honor has placed an 8MP camera that does a great job of taking those stunning selfies, as long as you turn the beauty mode that it defaults to off. The beauty mode overcompensates and makes your skin look photoshopped and extremely unnatural. It has a feature that allows it to take a picture when it recognizes a smile, which is a small but useful feature.

Battery Life

Battery life is always subjective, and it will vary for everyone. For having a 3000mAh battery built-in, odds are that it will leave you impressed at the end of the day. There hasn't been a day that I haven't made it 'til bedtime with power left, and that includes heavy Pokémon Go usage, email, social networking, texting and more throughout the day. There are a number of battery saving features that are built into EMUI, but some of them can be a pain.

Once you take some time to sort the apps that you want to exclude from the battery saving features, the operation of it is super smooth and odds are that you will be able to make it through the day easily. If you are just someone who can eat through battery life like no other, the built-in fast charging will quickly become your best friend.

Overall

Honor does a pretty great job here of meshing premium hardware and usable software with a great camera, all without breaking the bank. At $400, it's hard to say that this phone isn't worth checking out. Sure, there are some quirks, but you will experience that with phones in every price range. The pros definitely outweigh the cons here. Being an unlocked phone, you just toss your existing SIM card in the phone and you are good to go.

Be ready to spend some time adjusting from the experience you are used to using to the one that Huawei and Honor have envisioned with EMUI. Give it a few days, learn the ins and outs, and odds are that you will come away from it extremely happy with your purchase.

See at Honor

Honor 8

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23 hours ago

Grab two of these keychain USB-C adapters for just $6

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Update: We've got a new coupon code for this one! Use DEZU2DFW for the savings!

Right now you can pick up this awesome little USB-C adapter for just $6 with coupon code DEZU2DFW, a savings of $2 on the two-pack. Why would you need something like this? Well, ever been out and about and everyone has either a Lightning cable or a Micro-USB, and no USB-C cables? Now you can take that Micro-USB cable and turn it into a USB-C cable with this adapter that you can fit right on your keyring.

It has a built-in 56KΩ resistor to for safety and reliability, and even better is that two come in the pack. For the cost of what many spend on a cup of coffee or some afternoon snacks, you'll be able to ensure that your phone is able to be charged while on the go. Remember, you need coupon code DEZU2DFW for the full savings here.

See at Amazon

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1 day ago

Best Minimalist Cases for Samsung Galaxy Note 7

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Show off the sleek design of your Samsung Galaxy Note 7 with these minimalist cases.

If you're the type who shies away from putting a case on your phone because you don't like all that added bulk in your pocket, then you need to consider a minimalist case. They offer protection from scratches and scuffs while keeping the overall look and feel of your phone intact.

Without further ado, let's dive in and look at the best minimalist options for your Galaxy Note 7.

Samsung Galaxy Note 7 Clear Protective Cover

Let's start with a minimalist case offered by Samsung themselves. Offering basic protection for your Note 7, this slim and clear case is an ideal option for showcasing your phone's beautiful design. This case also features harder plastic around the corners to help protect against drops.

And since it's made by the same company that makes the phone, rest assured that this case is precisely designed to stay snug to your phone while keeping all your ports, speakers and the S Pen perfectly accessible.

See at Samsung


CUVR Carbon Fibre Ultra-Light PC Case

Ultra-light with a slick carbon fibre look along the back plate, this case brings its own stylish touches to your phone while barely adding any bulk to the Note 7. This is a two-piece case, with a tough polycarbonate bumper — available in either rose gold or grey — and a shell that features the carbon fibre pattern on the exterior and soft TPU material on the inside to help with shock absorption from drops.

Of course you'll have full access to all your ports and the S-Pen, and the CUVR case also fully supports wireless charging. It's all backed by a one-year warranty with a 30-day return policy if you're not immediately satisfied with your purchase.

See at Amazon

Spigen Slim & Soft Liquid Crystal

The first of two minimalist Spigen cases to make this list, the Slim & Soft Liquid Crystal is a pliable TPU case that offers solid protection against scratches and scuffs from drops while remaining virtually invisible once installed. This case is about as minimalist as they come, offering about a millimeter of raised lip around the camera on the back, and roughly the same for the lip around the display. If you're bothered by the sight of fingerprints you'll want to look elsewhere, as the glossy finish is a magnet for them.

See at Amazon

CaliCase Premium Ultra Thin Case

The CaliCase Premium is the perfect case for those looking for a paper thin option. Featuring a thickness of just 0.35mm, you're really not going to get much real protection from a serious drop, but it will help prevent your phone from getting scratched and scuffed. It's made of polypropylene and adds virtually no bulk to your phone, with a matte finish that won't show fingerprints or dirt and cutouts for the S Pen, ports, buttons and speakers.

It's available in clear white, clear black and solid black, so you can opt for the style that suits you best.

See at Amazon

Spigen Galaxy Note 7 Thin Fit Case

The Thin Fit case by Spigen offers a stylish, sturdy shell for your Note 7 — and that's about it. The buttons are left fully exposed on the sides and there are cutout on the bottom for the S Pen, ports and speakers.

There are breaks in the plastic around the corners so it's easy to slip on and off, but this also means that there's less protection for drops on the corners. That just the sort of compromise you need to be comfortable making when you're in the market for a minimalist case.

See at Amazon


Did we miss anything?

Are there any minimalist cases for the Note 7 that should be on this list? Let us know in the comments!

Samsung Galaxy Note 7

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1 day ago

New Galaxy Note 7 sales begin October 28 in Europe

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Galaxy Note 7

New release is almost two months after the original street date, as Samsung announces 57% of old Note 7s have been returned.

Samsung has today announced that new Galaxy Note 7 sales will recommence from October 28, after battery safety problems scuppered the original launch date of September 2. The company says the new date is "subject to a full completion of the exchange program" — so all (or at least the overwhelming majority) of old, potentially dangerous Notes need to be returned before new sales can begin.

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1 day ago

Go Time! Episode 11: A different kind of hunting

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Episode 11 of Go Time has arrived!

Jen, Russell and Erin return for another week of representing their respective teams.

This week, we're all in the middle of a different kind of hunt. That's because we're looking for the new Pokémon Go Plus accessory, with very little luck so far. Team Mystic also takes us down the rabbit hole to talk about Pokémon Go and rooting your phone. There's also a spirited discussion about how complex Pokémon Go is becoming, and whether this alienates new players.

Join us as we explore the big world of Pokemon Go!

You can also join our Facebook page to keep up on all things Pokémon Go. See you in the world!

Pokémon Go

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1 day ago

LG V20 cameras: What you need to know about the manual shooter's dream phone

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Here's a peek at what the LG V20's cameras can do.

The LG V20 still isn't on sale just yet, but it's coming. And when it officially launches, it will arrive chock full of camera features that your current smartphone probably can't do — at least not without some serious trickery.

If you're looking to upgrade to a better camera phone, but you're not sure if the V20 will have much to offer, here's a quick glance at some of the camera features LG stuffed into its new smartphone.

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1 day ago

Let's talk about the Pixel's crazy new on-screen keys

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Android's on-screen buttons get a big overhaul as part of the new Google UI on the Pixel phones. So let's take a look at what's new, and revisit what's come before.

So the first proper render of one of the new Google Pixel phones has leaked out, and with it we're getting a look at some new UI tweaks in that device's software. The Pixel phones put the Google brand front and center, and so we're seeing some significant UI tweaks — not least of which is in Android's soft keys.

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1 day ago

How to keep the Pokémon Go Plus from disconnecting from your Android phone

10

How do I keep my Pokewatch from disconnecting?

If you're one of the many people out there who recently decided to dive deeper into the world of Pokémon Go by picking up a Pokémon Go Plus for your wrist, you may have noticed it plays by slightly different rules than the rest of the game. You can use it without the screen on your phone even being on, and through it you can catch Pokemon, check in to Pokéstops, and gain all the steps necessary for egg hatching and candy earning. It's a fun little accessory, right until it disconnects from your phone and you realize the last mile you walked didn't count towards anything.

You aren't along in being frustrated by this. The Pokémon Go Plus is a simple accessory, and disconnects aren't always easy to immediately detect. Here's how you can tell you're disconnected, and what you can do to avoid future disconnections during gameplay.

How to tell you've been disconnected

For the most part, Pokémon Go Plus is pretty good about letting you know when it has disconnected from the phone. The wristband will vibrate and flash red as soon as it is disconnected from your phone. This is east to detect if you're walking and feel the vibration or see the LED, but if you're doing something important and can't stop to look at your wrist or you just plain didn't feel the vibration you may not know right away. This disconnection notification only happens once, so your window is limited.

The other way to know you've been disconnected is by tapping the LED button in the center of the watch and looking for a slow pulsing blue light. That pulsing blue light is the Pokémon Go Plus trying to connect to your phone, which naturally means it has been disconnected. If you tap this button and feel a single quick vibration pulse, it means you're connected to your phone and everything is fine. If you see the slow blue pulse, it means you've been disconnected.

Why did my Pokémon Go Plus disconnect?

There are a couple of reasons why your Pokémon Go Plus would disconnect from your phone. For starters, the watch is designed to disconnect when you are actively using the Pokémon Go app on your phone to play the game. If you're busy playing the game, you don't need a separate reminder on your wrist that Pokémon are showing up around you. It's also possible you've walked too far away from your phone, in which case the Bluetooth connection between your wrist and your phone will have been interrupted.

Your Pokémon Go Plus may have also disconnected if your GPS loses track of where you are. Pokémon Go needs the GPS in your phone to function, and when connected to your Pokémon Go Plus the phone has a constant connection to GPS services. If that connection fails, your watch will disconnect until you reconnect it.

Finally, several users have found issues with specific Android phones that don't currently have a resolution. Some phones by OnePlus and Motorola, for example, disconnect from Bluetooth a little more easily than other. This means the Bluetooth Low Energy connection between your phone and Pokémon Go Plus may disconnect easily with interference. To deal with these problem, disable Wi-Fi on your phone and make sure Bluetooth Scanning is disabled.

How to reconnect to Pokémon Go Plus

Being disconnected is a bummer, but reconnecting is easy.

  1. Open Pokémon Go on your phone
  2. Tap the dark Pokemon Go Plus icon in the top left
  3. Tap the LED button on your Pokemon Go Plus

You'll feel a vibration on your wrist and see a notification in Pokémon Go when the two are connected. From here you can close the app and go back to using your phone as you see fit. You will also see a notification icon in your tray letting you know you are connected to Pokemon Go, which will tell you about the last thing you did in the game as you continue to play.

Enjoy!

Still having problems?

Are you still struggling to get your Pokémon Go Plus accessory to connect to your Android phone? Let us know in the comments below!

Pokémon Go

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1 day ago

Xiaomi Mi 5s Plus unveiled with Snapdragon 821, 6GB RAM, 13MP dual rear cameras

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This is what the Mi 5 should've been.

At a media event in China, Xiaomi unveiled the Mi 5s and Mi 5s Plus. Both phones offer high-end internals in the form of a Snapdragon 821, with the Plus variant getting 6GB of RAM, and dual 13MP cameras at the back. The phones will be available in Gold, Rose Gold, Silver, and White color options, and will go up on sale in China starting this Thursday.

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1 day ago

Samsung: 60 percent of old Galaxy Note 7s exchanged so far

44
Galaxy Note 7

90 percent of customers choosing to stick with the device, as opposed to getting a refund or a different Samsung phone.

Samsung's Korean HQ has given an update on the progress of its global Galaxy Note 7 recall problem, as we approach a month since the company first halted sales of the potentially explosive phone.

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1 day ago

OnePlus 3 'exclusively' coming to O2 in the UK

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OnePlus 3

OnePlus's first UK carrier partnership kicks off sales from September 29.

OnePlus is best known for direct-to-consumer sales at low prices, but in the past year it's started teaming up with select carriers, like Finland's Elisa, with strong sales resulting. And now the company has partnered with O2 in the UK to get its latest handset, the OnePlus 3, onto store shelves. Sales kick off from September 29, with prices starting at £28 per month on O2 Refresh.

The OnePlus 3 is available on a range of O2 Refresh tariffs, offering from 500MB to 20GB data. Tariffs include £28 per month for 500 minutes, unlimited texts and 500MB of data, and £35.50 per month for unlimited minutes, unlimited texts and 3GB data. Both tariffs come with no upfront payment.

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1 day ago

Google's vision for India: Fast Wi-Fi for everyone, 2G-ready Play Store, and YouTube Go

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Here's how Google is connecting the next billion users.

At its Google for India event, the search giant talked about connecting the next billion users. Google is looking to India as a key market for growth, and as such the company is debuting a host of new features that will be exclusive to Indian users initially. Google kicked things off by talking about the incredible growth in the country, stating that every single second, three Indians are making their way online for the first time.

Caesar Sengupta, Google's VP for Next Billion Users, outlined the company's vision:

Our goal has not just been to help more Indians get online — but also to help Indians create the online experience they want; one that serves their needs and enables them to have an impact on the entire world. So we have been thinking about how to build products and services for this wave of new users — products that work for any level of connectivity, in local Indian languages, and across the devices that are most frequently used in India.

The company's free Wi-Fi initiative got off to a great start, and Google is now expanding the platform. With average broadband speeds hovering around the 3Mbps figure, Google is optimizing its services to work better on 2G connections. Here's what's in store for Indian customers.

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