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1 day ago

Nextbit Robin launches in India for just ₹19,999

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In a press event in New Delhi today, the Nextbit Robin made its debut in India. The phone offers an interesting take on design and storage. Rather than offer large internal storage or a microSD slot, Nextbit favors the cloud instead. Apps you don't use frequently are offloaded to the cloud, and when you do want to use them, a tap restores everything just as if it were never gone.

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1 day ago

Review: Lenovo Vibe K5 Plus

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The Quick Take

In a short time, Lenovo has emerged as a force to reckon within the affordable smartphone market in India. The latest one from the company, the Lenovo Vibe K5 Plus packs in quite a punch for a budget smartphone and doesn't look bad, but you'd have to make a few trade-offs here and there. You'd be inclined to, because the price is just right.

The budget segment in India is crowded, and a decent package just doesn't cut it. I spent a couple of weeks with the Vibe K5 Plus reviewing the smartphone, while simultaneously using a Huawei Honor 5X, a Redmi Note 3, and a LeEco Le 1S (yes, it's insane!) to put my experience in perspective.

The Good

  • Sharp display
  • Brilliant audio quality
  • Decent camera

The Bad

  • Poor battery life
  • Back panel is prone to scratches

Lenovo Vibe K5 Plus specifications

Category Lenovo Vibe K5 Plus Operating System Android 5.1 Lollipop with Vibe UI Display 5-inch Full HD (1080 x 1920) IPS LCD Processor Qualcomm Octa core Snapdragon 616 | Quad core 1.5 GHz + Quad core 1.2 GHz RAM 2GB RAM Storage 16GB internal memory, expandable up to 32GB via microSD card Rear Camera 13MP with LED flash Front Camera 5MP Dimensions 142 x 71 x 7.9 mm Weight 142 grams Battery 2750 mAh

About this review

I used the Indian retail variant of the Lenovo Vibe K5 Plus that ran Vibe UI running on top of Android 5.1 out of the box. For most of the time, I used it with an Airtel 4G SIM in Delhi NCR. Out of the 16GB internal storage, a little over 10GB was available out of the box. During my usage, there was an OTA update too for performance improvements.

Lenovo Vibe K5 Plus design

At first glance, the Vibe K5 Plus looks okay for a budget device. The built is sturdy, but it won't win any design contest. The K5 Plus does away with the all-plastic build of A6000/A6000 Plus, and goes for a hybrid design. The removable back panel features an aluminum plate in the middle flanked by two plastic strips. It's flimsy, and is prone to scratches.

Yet the phone is compact, and feels great in the hand, not once slipping out. The navigation keys at front are unfortunately not backlit, and you might fumble once in a while in dark.

The neatest touch on the Vibe K5 Plus is the twin speaker grilles at the back with the Dolby logo. Big props to Lenovo for including stereo speakers in a budget device.

Lenovo Vibe K5 Plus display

The K5 plus sports a 5-inch Full HD IPS display which is pretty good for its price. I would've been contended with 720p display, but a 1080p display with 441ppi for a budget device is impressive.

It's sharp and vivid, and also offers great viewing angles. The text is sharp and the images are crisp. The colors are a bit dull and the accuracy too is only middling, especially when looked at an angle. The brightness and contrast is at par or better than most sub-₹10,000 smartphones in the market, although if you have a good eye, you'd rate Redmi Note 3's display better. The K5 Plus though has better color accuracy.

There's no Gorilla Glass protection but that's understandable for a budget device. For a budget LCD panel, the Vibe K5 Plus also does good enough in bright sunlight.

Lenovo Vibe K5 Plus hardware

Powered by a mid-range Qualcomm Snapdragon 616 processor with 2GB of RAM and 16GB of internal storage, the Lenovo Vibe K5 Plus does well on the specifications sheet for a budget device. The performance though is middling, and once you've got a few apps on and are multitasking in real-life usage, a few lags start creeping in.

There are random freezes, too. Yet, the Vibe K5 Plus chugs along well for graphic-intensive gaming titles, although it does heat up within minutes. It doesn't get uncomfortably hot, but is annoying since it happens not just while gaming, but even while watching a local video or streamed from the Web.

The Vibe K5 Plus also misses out on nifty extras like a fingerprint reader or an IR blaster. Several other low-cost smartphones do offer these features, so Lenovo is betting big on its overall package to steer clear of these. Of course, it supports Lenovo's AntVR headset for an immersive media experience via TheatreMax technology.

One of the lesser appreciated highlights of the Vibe K5 Plus is the Dolby audio enhancement. The Dolby Atmos speakers offer crisp, clear sound and the twin speakers really do make a difference. The audio quality is brilliant – better than even several higher-priced smartphones.

Lenovo Vibe K5 Plus battery life

In the age of unibody smartphones, the Vibe K5 Plus sports a modest 2750 mAh removable battery. As the battery life turns out, you'd thank Lenovo for the swappable battery. I started the day with full battery, and a few social apps and email on 4G had me going to about 15 percent battery by the afternoon.

While the battery life is just about okay for a light user, even on a moderate usage, you'd have to reach for the charger before end of the day. It's pretty inexcusable even for a budget device. The charging too is pretty slow which is a bummer considering the battery life.

The Vibe K5 Plus is no marathon runner, although it does well for the moderately sized battery it packs. Several smartphones with a bigger battery don't go significantly longer. However, if you play games and watch a lot of videos on the move, the Vibe K5 Plus is not for you.

Lenovo Vibe K5 Plus software

The Lenovo Vibe K5 Plus runs the company's proprietary Vibe UI on top of Android Lollipop 5.1.1. Interestingly, the budget device doesn't come with the revamped Vibe UI that shipped with the Lenovo Vibe X3 earlier this year. While Lenovo smartphones have found a lot of takers, I'm yet to meet a Vibe UI fan and it's no different with the Vibe K5 Plus. It works, and that's about it.

The phone comes with the usual Lenovo software additions. There's the Lenovo Companion app which lets you check for software updates and perform system tests, as well as the familiar SHAREit and SYNCit for transferring files and backing up data respectively. There's a limited Theme Center too with a tacky collection of themes and wallpapers.

The Vibe K5 Plus comes with a lot of bundled apps like Game Store, Twitter, Skype, WeChat, UC Browser, Flipkart, Myntra, Evernote, McAfee Security, and Truecaller, but thankfully these all can be uninstalled if you are not interested. Still, the amount of out of the box bloatware on a device with limited hardware is awkward.

Lenovo Vibe K5 Plus camera

The Lenovo Vibe K5 Plus is equipped with a 13MP primary camera with f/2.2 aperture and LED flash, as well as a 5MP front shooter. The front camera is okay for this price segment and allows you to click decent selfies in outdoor lighting, although only manages noisy shots indoors.

The rear camera is decent too for a budget device. For close-up shots and when the subject is right in front of lens, the photo quality is pretty good with plenty of details. Landscape shots are inconsistent though, and low light shots turn out to be quite dark and grainy.

The camera app is standard UI fare, and apart from the HDR and Panorama mode, there is range of filters you can apply to your photos in real time.

Lenovo Vibe K5 Plus The bottom line

The Vibe K5 Plus wouldn't shatter any sales records, but makes for a good enough, compact device that won't break the bank. It sports Full HD display, brilliant audio output, and a decent camera, but middling performance and a terrible battery life lets you down.

Should you buy it? Probably

All budget smartphones require you to compromise on one thing or the other, and you'd have a to make a few for the Lenovo Vibe K5 Plus. At a price of ₹8,499 ($127) in India, the Lenovo Vibe K5 Plus is a decent buy. It could, no, it should've been better because it sits between very capable entry-level budget phones and phones with better specifications that you can get by spending just a little more dough.

See at Flipkart

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1 day ago

ZTE teams up with BMW's iconic Designworks for the Axon 7

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BMW's Designworks has a storied history. The design firm has created evocative products for over 40 years, with more recent efforts including AR goggles for carmaker MINI and bobsleds for the U.S. Olympic team. It also made this excellent PC chassis in collaboration with Thermaltake. The design studio is now partnering with Chinese manufacturer ZTE over the design of its upcoming phone, the Axon 7.

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1 day ago

Google Developers is answering your burning Firebase questions with a live Q&A session on May 26

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For developers who attended or followed Google I/O 2016, the word "Firebase" picked up a lot of importance this last week. The powerful set of tools from Google that helps developers create, deploy, monetize and upgrade their apps saw a lot of attention at Google's yearly developer conference, and naturally that generated a lot of questions.

To help get developers up to speed, Google is hosting a live Q&A session on May 26 at 3:30 p.m. PT (that's 6:30 p.m. ET) for a full two hours to take developer questions on the tools.

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1 day ago

You can be in the new 'Ready Player One' movie without leaving your house

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When real life mimics art, things get a little creepy.

Ernest Cline's Ready Player One is one of my favorite science fiction novels of the 21st century, and director Steven Spielberg is taking the helm for the upcoming Warner Bros film. And Spielberg is currently looking for people that want to be extras — extras in the MMO world, that is.

Ready Player One

For those that have not read Ready Player One, it is the story of the worldwide web gone awry. In this universe, everyone is hooked into the web... literally. School, work, play, life — all take place in a massive multiplayer online software program called the OASIS.

Spielberg is looking for 3D avatars to appear in the OASIS. If you can build an avatar, you have a pretty good chance to be in the movie: All you have to do is submit your creation by June 23 and you could earn between $250 and $1,000 for your efforts.

A description of the story:

In the year 2044, reality is an ugly place. The only time teenage Wade Watts (Tye Sheridan) really feels alive is when he's jacked into the virtual utopia know as the OASIS. Wade's devoted his life to studying the puzzles hidden within the confines of this digital world, puzzles that are based on their creator's obsession with the pop culture of decades past and that promise massive power and fortune to whoever can unlock them. But when Wade stumbles upon the first clue, he finds himself beset by players willing to kill to take this ultimate prize. The race is on, and if Wade's going to survive, he'll have to win - and confront the real world he's been so desperate to escape.

It is both awesome and eerie that Warner Bros is soliciting coders to create on-screen talent for Ready Player One. It's a great way to engage fans of the book and bring them into the story, but it is taking this whole worldwide MMO thing to the next level.

Am I the only one that worries about how good science fiction is at predicting the future? We've seen hundreds of sci-fi predictions come true, many of them just from the past two decades — like smartphones, wearables, and connected home gadgets. Now you can be a movie star simply by knowing how to code. If things keep going the way they are, the OASIS won't be all that far off. Your ability to create a 3D avatar might just be more important than your law degree, and it won't matter who you are in real life — as long as you can afford those in-app upgrades in the virtual world.

I just got the heebie-jeebies.

Here's the announcement from author Ernest Cline:

If you want to be in Ready Player One, at least in a virtual capacity, you can submit your 3D avatar to Talenthouse. Winners will be chosen July 7. Good luck, and maybe we'll see you at the movies.

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1 day ago

Canadian carriers are preparing for 5G, but don't get too excited yet

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Canadian carriers are poised to begin tests for next-generation 5G service in the run-up to a public launch in the next five years.

According to The Star, Bell and Telus already have plans to begin 5G trials in their labs, and are working with international telecom standards bodies to finalize the 5G spec, which should happen over the next couple of years. Rogers is sitting tight, but is also eager to begin trials.

Bell, Rogers and Telus are all participating in a global effort to develop operating standards for fifth generation wireless networks, with Bell Canada, the nation's largest telecommunications company, set to begin testing of the emerging architecture.

Unfortunately, 5G technologies are neither finalized nor particularly opaque to the average consumer. At the very least, 5G represents a speed boost over current 4G LTE networks, with a minimum downlink speed of 1Gbps, or roughly ten times faster than the average high-speed wireless network today.

But most trials taking place right now, including those by U.S. carriers AT&T and Verizon, involve wide-band frequencies as high as 28Ghz, which are only currently authorized for fixed wireless usage. Next-generation wireless networks are expected to take advantage of higher-frequency bands than today's LTE varieties since such spectrum can typically carry larger payloads — at the expense of both signal distance and power output.

Wide-band frequencies, including those in the range of microwaves, are expected to be the backbone of 5G service, removing the distinction between today's home Wi-Fi networks and carrier-own cellular networks. But higher-band frequencies require enormous transmission antennas, and huge amounts of power, to travel far distances, which is why such an extensive lead-time is necessary before finalizing the spec.

Back in March, the Ontario government announced a partnership with Chinese hardware maker, Huawei, which has made a number of investments throughout Canada, including R&D offices in both Waterloo and Ottawa. The company's aim is to make Canada a 5G hub, and eventually provide the equipment to carriers once the technology rolls out.

Fifth-generation wireless technology is also less concerned with throughout from a cell tower to one devices, such as a smartphone, but to dozens or even hundreds of low-powered devices, all communicating with one another.

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1 day ago

Nexus Player makes its exit from the Google Store

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Google is no longer directly selling the Nexus Player, its premiere Android TV set-top box that launched alongside Google's second (and more successful) attempt at entering the living room.

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1 day ago

AT&T offers more data for the same price on its high-speed GoPhone plans

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AT&T has announced it is adding more high-speed data for customers who are signed up for their pre-paid GoPhone plans.

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1 day ago

How do you use your phone for messaging?

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Technology has made it easier than ever to talk to the people in your life.

Communicating using technology has become second nature for most of us. We use our phones to talk to coworkers, friends, and family alike. Phones have been a part of how we communicate with the people in our lives for decades. However, the way we communicate using them has definitely changed since smartphones because a normal part of life. That's because we text and use messenger clients more than actually talking on the phone.

With access to emoji, or taking advantage of voice to text, it's often easier to just send a message than trying to get a hold of someone by calling them. That's why in this week's poll we want to know how you use your phone for messaging. We've got 7 options for you this week: "Messenger", "Hangouts", "WhatsApp", "Default SMS app", "Facebook Messenger", "Other" and "nothing."

How do you use your phone for messaging?

Is your favorite messaging app not on our list? Do you love to text, but hate getting calls? Let us know about it in the comments!

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1 day ago

Moto G4 Plus coming to Canada to replace the Moto X Play

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Lenovo's most powerful Moto G variant, the Moto G4 Plus, is coming to Canada in early summer — likely the first or second week of June — to replace the well-received Moto X Play.

The Moto G4 Plus, which features a 5.5-inch 1080p display, Snapdragon 617 processor, 2GB of RAM, 32GB of expandable storage, a 16MP rear camera, and a 3,000mAh battery, shares much in common with the Moto X Play unveiled last summer, but in a brand that continues to be more accessible to the average consumer. Of course, there are some advantages to the Moto G4 Plus: a front-facing fingerprint sensor, and double the storage, over the Moto X Play. One compromise: a smaller battery over the Play's 3,630mAh cell.

Indeed, in Canada the Moto G Plus will sell for around $400 outright, almost identical to the Moto X Play. Like its X Play counterpart, it will be sold unlocked through various retailers, in addition to being subsidized by carriers, likely starting at between $0 and $50 on contract. The Moto G4 Plus will be offered at:

  • Rogers
  • Virgin Mobile
  • Telus
  • Koodo
  • Wind Mobile
  • SaskTel

The Moto G4 Plus's cheaper counterpart, the Moto G Play, will be also be sold later this summer at a number of Canadian carriers. That device, which has considerably less powerful hardware and a smaller 5-inch display, will retail for between $150 to $200 outright.

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1 day ago

Verizon rolls out updates to the Samsung Galaxy S6 and S6 edge

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Verizon Wireless has begun rolling out updates to the Samsung Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 edge Both updates offer a few new features along with improvements and bug fixes.

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1 day ago

Toyota joins forces with Uber as part of 'strategic investment'

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Toyota plans to make a "strategic investment" in ride-sharing company Uber as part of a larger collaborative partnership.

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1 day ago

Best third-party watch bands for Fossil Q Founder

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Best third party watch bands for Fossil Q

Need more bands for your Fossil Q Founder? Strap on one of these!

You bought your Fossil Q Founder with pride and you should wear it with pride! When it comes to the strap, you may need more than one. Different straps are good for different occasions.

The great thing about the Fossil Q Founder is it works with almost any 22mm band, and we have rounded up some of the best aftermarket bands for the Fossil Q Founder that we could find.

Leather Bands

Leather bands are great for everyday use. They are durable, stylish, and comfortable, making them ideal to wear for long period of time.

Lucco leather watchband

As far as leather bands go, the Lucco one doesn't look like anything special. It is made out of genuine leather, which means it won't show as much wear and tear as fake leather.

It does have a stitching along the edges of the band to help prevent fraying, and it's the same color as the rest of the band giving you a classic uniform look.

See at Amazon


Rerri leather watchband

The selection we chose from Rerri is a little more of a standout piece. It's a genuine leather strap that has high contrast stitching in order to make it really pop. In addition, the clasp on Rerri's band is quite robust and sticks out as well, adding to the band's overall look. Plus, the clasp looks like it could take a beating, which is a plus for something that you wear all the time.

Like all leather, it's slightly water resistant, a little bit of rain or sweat won't hurt it much, but you aren't going to want to go swimming with it, or wear it in the shower for that matter.

See at Amazon


Sport bands

Sports bands are typically made out silicone or a similar rubber-like substance which makes them perfect for getting wet. Sweat won't ruin a sports band at all, so you can be as active as you want!

Tech Swiss sports band

Typically, sports bands can be pretty plain looking; however, Tech Swiss's band breaks the mold. It's designed to look like a silicone version of a metal link band, giving it a unique look that most sports bands won't have.

The silicone is waterproof and the band's clasp and pins are made from stainless steel so you shouldn't have any problem getting this thing wet.

The band comes in a little on the thick side, sitting at about five millimeters — you will definitely feel this band on your wrist. If you don't mind the small amount of extra weight, this band could be a great choice.

See at Amazon


Marathon

If you want something a little out there, but still functional, this selection from Marathon could be for you.

It's made out of vulcanized rubber, so you know it's as durable as can be. The clasp and pins are also stainless steel so no amount of water should make them rust.

On top of looking a little extra stylish — due to the two lines of detailing — this band also comes infused with vanilla scent. If you have a problem with perfumes or scents at all, it would probably be best to steer clear of this one.

See at Amazon

Metal bands

If you are looking for bold style, metal bands are a great way to make your watch stand out in a crowd!

Hadley-Roma Metal expansion band

Hadley-Roma's band is great for people who want a metal band that has a uniformed style and look to it.

The added bonus of the physical vapor deposition (PVD) coating makes this metal band a little more resistant to scratches and minor blemishes.

Unlike a lot of metal bands, this one doesn't have a clasp. It's actually an expansion band, meaning it will stretch to fit your wrist. It's compatible with watches that use 16-22 millimeter bands, making it perfect for your Fossil Q Founder.

See at Amazon


Yesoo

Perfect for the minimalist in everyone, the Yesoo metal mesh band is stylish and elegant.

Made out of stainless steel, this band is much thinner than a lot of metal bands that are out there. Thanks to its mesh design, it doesn't have to be as bulky as a typical metal link band would be.

There is also no clasp on this stylish band, instead it actually has a magnetic end that will attach anywhere on the band, making it adjustable to the perfect size every time.

See at Amazon


MODE bands

Google released its MODE bands and they might be the most interchangeable watch bands you will ever see..

All you do it remove the original pin that presently in your Fossil Q Founder, then add the MODE pin, slide your MODE band over the pin, and lock it shut. That's it! There's a video on the MODE site that shows you exactly how to connect these bands.

Hadley Roma is currently the only company making them right now and they start around $50. Just remember that when you go to order yours you need the 22 mm band or it won't fit.

See at Android

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1 day ago

Micromax launches entry-level Bolt Selfie and announces Canvas Selfie 4

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India's leading handset maker, Micromax, has announced the launch of its two new smartphones — Bolt Selfie and Canvas Selfie 4. With a focus on front-facing camera, Micromax is bringing its highly successful Canvas Selfie range to the entry level Bolt series.

Commenting on the launch, Mr Shubhajit Sen, Chief Marketing Officer, said,

Our Bolt Selfie is designed to keep the new and young smartphone users especially women in Tier 2 & 3 cities who have limited options and avenues to shop, are very price conscious and yet desire a perfect selfie experience. While with the Canvas Selfie 4 and its tap sensor we are upgrading the selfie experience of our young hyper social youngsters who are looking for a perfect integration of innovation, style and performance with an excellent selfie experience.

Micromax Bolt Selfie Specifications

Category Features Operating System Android Lollipop Display 4.5-inch Camera 5MP front camera | 5MP rear camera Processor 1GHz Quad Core RAM 1GB Internal Storage 8GB; expandable storage of 32GB Battery 1750mAh

Bolt Selfie packs in enhanced photo features such as Face and Beauty Mode and Gesture Capture, enabling users to not only seamlessly capture pictures, but also enhance and perfect their selfies. The Bolt Selfie is available in white and champagne colors exclusively on Flipkart for ₹4,999 ($74).

Micromax also announced the next-generation Canvas Selfie 4 with Android Marshmallow. The Canvas Selfie 4 boasts of 8MP camera, both at front and back, and comes with a Tap Sensor on the rear allowing the users to conveniently click a picture, swap camera from front to back, and vice-versa with a single tap making it easy to click pictures with a single hand. The Canvas Selfie 4 will be available across offline channels from end of May 2016.

See at Flipkart

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1 day ago

Huawei sues Samsung on claims of patent infringement

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Chinese smartphone maker Huawei has filed suit against Samsung, accusing the Korean tech giant of patent infringement.

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