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Add this slim case to your Galaxy S7 for just $3.95 today!

Don’t like the idea of making your Galaxy S7 bulky but want to keep it protected against scratches and such? If so, Amzer’s Pudding TPU case is a perfect choice to add to your phone. The case adds a thin layer of protection and grip to the phone, and you can pick one up for just $3.95 today!

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11 hours ago

Pokémon Go updates: Everything you need to know

84

There's a new Pokemon Go update. Here's what you need to know!

Pokémon Go updates aren't common, but they are a big deal. Here's what you need to know about each major one!


Update, September 10: Added information about version 0.37.0 with the new Appraisal system!

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15 hours ago

Hiroshi Lockheimer is on the Pixel hype train

52

OK, we get it. As the SVP of Android, Chrome and Google Play Lockheimer should be amped about the things to come. We'd go as far as saying that's his job. So what makes this particular time a company executive praising his products worth talking about?

He's comparing the coming Pixel phones (all but confirmed to be coming on October 4) to Android's debut with the T-Mobile G1. And he's doing it in front of all the die-hard Android nerds who are going to hold him to it.

We have limited information about what's in store come October. We gather that the rebranding of Google's Nexus line with the Pixel name means a more active involvement from Google in all areas — from design and software to advertising and support. Think of them as HTC phones made for someone else like HTC used to do for HP and Palm — yes, your old Treo 650 was made by HTC. This means Google is the company who will see these phones succeed or fail. And Lockheimer is betting on success.

We have to wait a few more weeks to see the Pixel phones for ourselves. And we'll have to wait even longer to say anything about their success. In the meantime, we'll take all the teasing you care to give us, Hiroshi.

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18 hours ago

MrMobile Retro Review: Looking back at the Nokia N-Gage

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In 2003, Nokia declared war on Nintendo with the N-Gage, a Game Boy Advance lookalike with a Series 60 mobile phone inside. The conflict – to put it mildly – did not go in Nokia's favor. With a cumbersome design that required the owner to remove the battery in order to change games, the N-Gage wasn't exactly user-friendly, and with only a handful of available titles compared to the Game Boy Advance's 1,200, the N-Gage ecosystem hardly justified the device's $299 asking price. Worse still: the phone's earpiece was mounted on its spine, making for a bizarre look and feel when it came to voice calls and leading to the unfortunate nickname "Taco Phone."

Needless to say, Nokia's N-Gage experiment did not go well. The company launched a sequel (the N-Gage QD) in 2004 and eventually repositioned N-Gage as a gaming platform that spanned its Symbian smartphone line, but it never gained the traction Nokia sought and the brand was shuttered in 2010.

Today, the original N-Gage is a monument to the days when new form factors flooded a nascent mobile market, and a still-dominant Nokia led the charge to pack ever more functionality into the humble cell phone. Join MrMobile for the Nokia N-Gage Retro Review – and if you owned one of these (or even if you just wanted one) drop a comment below with your story!

Gettin' social with it!

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20 hours ago

Android and chill: Nougat and the root question

118

Android is safer than ever for the people who want (and need) it to be safe. We should be happy about that.

There's some talk about Pixel phones and root — specifically that it's not working with any of the existing methods. All the nuts and bolts are at XDA — excellent job on that Mishaal — for those who want to dig deeper into the how and why, but I want to just talk about what it means for us.

And why it's a really good thing. Before you grab your torches and teach me a lesson for thinking it's good that we can't root a Pixel phone, hear me out. I think you'll agree when we're finished.

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23 hours ago

Samsung Galaxy S8 reportedly using powerful new GPU

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Samsung phones sign

ARM Mali-G71 could provide the power for a 4K display and enhanced VR.

Rumors of a 4K display in the upcoming Samsung Galaxy S8 have been swirling for some time, with a super-dense display offering a significantly upgraded VR experience in next year's flagship. And now it's reported that Samsung could use ARM's most powerful GPU yet in its next Exynos processors.

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1 day ago

Evening brief: Google's ready to launch a Wi-Fi router ... and then buy Twitter

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Google's making splashes out there, but it's not the only news!

Twitter has been rumored to be for sale for ... well, forever. The latest rumors claim that Google's in the running to acquire the social network — maybe this one will work out better than Google+ did. In further (and far simpler) rumor news, it sounds like Google may be planning to launch its own Wi-Fi router, but it won't be part of the OnHub brand. It also won't be part of Google Home, which is a separate device.

And now a little bit of carrier news. Verizon rolled out all of its advanced calling features to prepaid accounts today, further legitimizing the choice of going with a simple, cheaper plan from the carrier. With a compatible device, you can now get HD voice calls, simultaneous voice and data, and six-way calling. Over in the UK, EE is teasing upcoming phone announcements in October — I wonder what those could be? Go forth and catch up with today's news!

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1 day ago

Best Android Phone Under $400

OnePlus 3

Tired of overspending for the latest and greatest? Get flagship-level performance at half the price.

Best overall

OnePlus 3

See at OnePlus

The OnePlus 3 is, simply put, the best package under $400. You're basically purchasing Samsung-level performance at an unlocked price.

Inside, the OnePlus 3 is like any other flagship: It has a powerful Snapdragon 820 processor, a solid 3000mAh battery, and a stellar 16-megapixel rear-facing camera with capable low light performance. The OnePlus 3 also has 6GB of RAM, which might not seem entirely significant at first, but the extra bit of memory really does come in handy over time. And though its 5.5-inch display is a mere 1080p in a Quad HD world, you'll come to appreciate the energy savings.

Do keep in mind that if you bring home this aluminum-bodied beauty that you won't have Google behind the software updates. OnePlus is in charge of its OxygenOS, and while it provides a near-similar experience as Google's Android, it's packed with extra features that you'd typically have to download a third-party app to implement. Still, it's a better alternative to the other versions of Android floating around out there.

Bottom line: Flagships are expensive without a subsidy, so if you're looking to save some cash but you don't want to skimp on the features, the OnePlus 3 is a worthy choice.

One more thing: Because of its unlocked nature, the OnePlus 3 is only compatible with AT&T and T-Mobile (and their respective MVNOs) in the U.S.

Why the OnePlus 3 is the best

The phone to get if you want bang for your buck.

For a mere $400, you get the top of the line specifications, stellar smartphone performance, a rear-facing camera that's almost as good as the competition, and solid battery life. And sure, the OnePlus 3 may be the "alternative" flagship, but it hardly looks it.

It might not appear exemplary at first, but Andrew Martonik's review of the device earlier this year makes a convincing argument for why it's so stellar:

Every edge, every join of materials, every cutout, every transition from curve to flat — every placement is perfect. This precision is hardly exclusive to OnePlus nowadays, as just about any manufacturer can now do things with metal and glass that were previously reserved to multi-billion-dollar companies just a few years ago. But just because you can do it now doesn't mean every phone is built as well as the OnePlus 3.

The design on this device is stunning, and it's even more attractive after you pop on one of OnePlus's fashionable back covers.

OnePlus hasn't typically had the best track record when it comes to its device launches and software updates, but the company is quickly changing its tune. OnePlus ditched its archaic, invite-only business model and made the phone readily available for anyone who has cash to burn.

The only drawback of the OnePlus 3 is that its software and security updates depend entirely on its small software development team, which historically hasn't kept up with the industry leaders in updates. But the OnePlus 3 is a hell of a deal at its price point, so if you're looking to save some cash without compromising much, this smartphone is your best bet.

Best shiny phone

Honor 8

See at Amazon

Do you like shiny things? The Honor 8 is plenty shiny for those of you attempting to add more sheen into your life. I mean, just look at the blue color featured here. It's even more gorgeous in person, and it doesn't cost an arm and a leg.

The Honor 8 is Huawei's second attempt at entering the U.S. market. It's got a 5.2-inch 1080p display, a 3000mAh battery, 4GB of RAM, and Huawei's in-house developed Kirin 950 processor. The Honor 8 also has dual 12-megapixel rear-facing cameras, both of which work in conjunction to produce the best possible photo you could want. As we discussed in our review, it's plenty capable of being your primary shooter.

The only drawback of the Honor 8 is that Huawei's EMUI is a bit of a doozy to get used to. Its default launcher doesn't offer an app drawer, so you'll have to find another launcher if you're used to having one. It also comes with a bit of bloatware and extra apps you might find redundant alongside Google's offerings, though you can thankfully uninstall and deactivate them at will.

Bottom line: If you're looking for last year's flagship performance at an affordable price point, the Honor 8 is an impressive little package.

One more thing: Like the OnePlus 3, the unlocked Honor 8 is only compatible with AT&T and T-Mobile's networks, along with their associated prepaid MVNOs.

Best to try something new

ZTE Axon 7

See at Amazon

You might have forgotten that ZTE is a major player in the U.S. smartphone wars, but that's okay. The good news is that the company is the brains behind the very impressive Axon line and the Axon 7 is a worthwhile choice if you don't mind dealing with a clunky Android interface.

The ZTE Axon 7 offers a 5.5-inch Quad HD AMOLED display, a Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 processor, 4GB of RAM, and a 3250mAh battery. It also has a 20-megapixel rear-facing camera, though it's not the best shooter in low light environments. But if you're an audiophile, the Axon 7 might make your ears perk up.

Bottom line: If you're tired of the same old smartphone brands in your life, the ZTE Axon 7 might be that "something new" that becomes your "something constant."

One more thing: The Axon 7 is equipped with the bands necessary to work on a network like Verizon Wireless, but your best bet is to be an AT&T or T-Mobile (or their prepaid brands) subscriber before purchasing this device.

Best for even less

Moto G4 Plus

See at Amazon

Not everyone wants to wield the latest and greatest. The Moto G4 Plus will do just fine if you're simply in the market for a solid smartphone. The G4 Plus offers a 5.5-inch Full HD display, a 1.5GHz Snapdragon 617 processor, and up to 3GB of RAM. It also has a 16-megapixel rear-facing camera and a front-facing fingerprint sensor, so you can be just as secure as all your friends with their cool flagships.

Take heed that there are several versions of the Moto G4. Here's a look at what's different between the two primary models, the Moto G4 and G4 Plus.

Bottom line: If you love living the unlocked life and only need the basics to get you through it, the Moto G4 Play Plus is the way to go.

One more thing: Motorola's been pretty consistent with its software updates.

Best overall

OnePlus 3

See at OnePlus

The OnePlus 3 is, simply put, the best package under $400. You're basically purchasing Samsung-level performance at an unlocked price.

Inside, the OnePlus 3 is like any other flagship: It has a powerful Snapdragon 820 processor, a solid 3000mAh battery, and a stellar 16-megapixel rear-facing camera with capable low light performance. The OnePlus 3 also has 6GB of RAM, which might not seem entirely significant at first, but the extra bit of memory really does come in handy over time. And though its 5.5-inch display is a mere 1080p in a Quad HD world, you'll come to appreciate the energy savings.

Do keep in mind that if you bring home this aluminum-bodied beauty that you won't have Google behind the software updates. OnePlus is in charge of its OxygenOS, and while it provides a near-similar experience as Google's Android, it's packed with extra features that you'd typically have to download a third-party app to implement. Still, it's a better alternative to the other versions of Android floating around out there.

Bottom line: Flagships are expensive without a subsidy, so if you're looking to save some cash but you don't want to skimp on the features, the OnePlus 3 is a worthy choice.

One more thing: Because of its unlocked nature, the OnePlus 3 is only compatible with AT&T and T-Mobile (and their respective MVNOs) in the U.S.

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1 day ago

Unlock your Chromebook using your Android phone with Smart Lock

9

While the idea that Android is the key to the future is debatable, it can easily be a key to your Chromebook.

Here is a cool Chromebook feature some of us didn't know about: you can use the Smart Lock feature on your Android phone to enable Smart Lock on your Chromebook! Once set up, as long as your phone is in Bluetooth range, instead of needing to use your password to unlock your Chromebook you can click an icon to sign in via your phone's credentials. The feature has been around for a while, but it's really improved and even looks nice in a Google Material way.

A few caveats apply: your phone has to be fully booted, and both the phone and the Chromebook have to be connected to the internet so they can communicate through your Google account. If those two conditions are met, it works reliably and makes things more convenient. Of course, Smart Lock isn't the most secure way to lock your Chromebook (or your phone) but offering something that's fairly secure and easy to use is the best way to get folks to lock their devices.

Let's see how to set it up.

  • Make sure your Chromebook and your Android phone are turned on, signed into the same Google account, unlocked, connected to the internet, and that Bluetooth is enabled on both devices. If you haven't set up Smart Lock for your Android phone, you'll need to do that first. Any of the methods will work. (Also, make sure only one Chromebook and one phone are turned on in Bluetooth range of each.)
  • Open your Chromebook's settings and scroll down to the bottom. Click Show advanced settings. Scroll down about halfway and find Smart Lock for Chromebook, and click the Set up button.
  • Your Chromebook will scan for available Bluetooth devices, and when it finds your Android phone you'll see it listed with a button to use it. Go ahead and click it.
  • On your phone, you'll see a notification that it was found. Open the notification (nothing will appear) to allow the Chromebook and phone to pair with each other over Bluetooth. Then move back to the Chromebook as suggested.
  • A few seconds later you'll see that everything is setup and you're ready to give it a try. Click the button to check it out, and your Chromebook is locked and you can click or tap anywhere on your account picture or click the lock icon to sign in.

Instantly, you'll get an email to your Google account address that lets you know your account has a new device using the Smart Lock feature. If you use a recovery address (and you really should) that address will also get an email. This email tells you which account was used, and which two devices are set up to pass Smart Lock credentials to each other. There's also a link there if you didn't do this yourself and something fishy is afoot.

We'll use device security when it's this easy. That's a win all around.

Smart Lock works with multiple Google accounts, too. As long as all the accounts are signed in on the same phone, your Chromebook can sign in using Smart Lock. For managed accounts (like Google Apps or Google Education accounts) the administrator might have to enable it, depending on the policies in effect.

The same inherent security issues with Smart Lock for your phone apply here. This isn't nearly as safe as signing in manually each time you unlock your Chromebook's screen. And if someone swipes your phone and your Chromebook, they have one more avenue to try and break into your account. If you ever lose your phone or your Chromebook, you should change your Google account password right away. While not bulletproof on the security front, Smart Lock is miles better than not locking your Chromebook at all. Since it's this easy to set up and use, people like us will do it. That's a win for security.

Chromebooks

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1 day ago

Android Central 307: A burning need for Allo

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Audio-only stream below

Apply twice daily and consult Google Assistant if burning persists for longer than a week.

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1 day ago

Google Drive: Ultimate Guide

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How to set up and use Google Drive on Android

How do I use Google Drive on Android?

Google Drive is one of the handiest cloud storage services around, giving you 15GB of free space, which you can access from just about any device with an internet connection. The age of USB thumb drives is over.

When you set up your Android phone, you would have been prompted to add your Google account, which is all you need to use Google Drive. Here's how to set up your personal Google Drive and use some of its main functions.

How to add an account your Google Drive on Android

If you've already set up your Gmail account on your phone, then you'll just have to launch Google Drive and perform steps 1-3 below. If you'd like to add another account, like a work email address, continue on after step 3.

  1. Launch Google Drive from your home screen or from the app drawer.
  2. Tap the next arrow in the bottom right corner through the start screens.
  3. Tap Done in the bottom right corner of your screen.
  4. Tap the menu button in the top left corner of your screen. It looks like ☰.

    Tap the next arrow, tap Done, tap the menu button

  5. Tap the dropdown arrow next to the current account that's associated with your Google Drive.
  6. Tap Add account.
  7. Tap the type of account you'd like to use. You can even use Twitter!

    Tap the dropdown arrow, tap Add account, tap the type of account you want to use

  8. Enter your security measure if you have a pattern lock or PIN lock on your phone.
  9. Enter your email address or login credentials, depending on what type of account you chose to add.
  10. Tap Next.
  11. Type in your Password and tap Next in the bottom right corner.

    Enter your security measure, enter your email address, tap next, enter your password, tap next

  12. Tap Accept.
  13. Tap the circle next to a payment option.
  14. Tap Continue.

    Tap Accept, tap a payment option, tap Continue

The account will now be added to your phone and can be used with other Google apps, like Gmail, Docs, Sheets, and more!

How to upload files to your Google Drive on Android

You can upload Microsoft Word documents, Google Docs, photos from your Gallery, and tons more!

  1. Find the document on your phone that you'd like to upload to Google Drive. In this example, we're using a photo from the Gallery.
  2. Tap the share button. It'll usually look like a left-pointing triangle, with a dot at each point.
  3. Tap Save to Drive.

    Find the document you want to share, tap the share button, tap Save to Drive

  4. Tap Allow if prompted to allow Google Drive access to your files.
  5. Add a title to the document if you'd like and tap Save in the bottom right corner of your screen.

    Tap Allow, add a title if you want, tap Save

Your file will now be uploaded to your Google Drive where you can view it from any device on which you can access Google.

How to view files in your Google Drive on Android

Viewing your files in Google Drive on Android is as easy as launching the app from your home screen or app drawer. That's it! When you launch the app, you'll be brought to your Drive with all of your files right there for you to scroll through and view. Just tap a file to open it.

You can search for files by name by tapping the search icon (usually looks like a magnifying glass) and typing the name of the file you'd like to view.

How to share files from your Google Drive on Android

You can share any file from your Google Drive, either by sending the physical file or by sharing a link that will allow someone to view the file in your Google Drive (they won't be able to see anything else).

  1. Launch Google Drive from your home screen or from the app drawer.
  2. Tap the more button on the file you want share. It looks like three vertical dots.
  3. You have two ways to share your file:
    • Tap Share link to send someone a link to this file in your Google Drive.
    • Tap Send file to send someone the physical file.
  4. Tap a sharing method. You can share files via email, Facebook, messaging, and much more!

    Tap the more button, tap Share link or Send file, tap a sharing method

Now you can just share the file or the link via the method you've chosen normally. If you're sending it as a message, just tap the send button like you would for a text message. If you're sharing it via email, you can add a message and add multiple recipients, just like normal!

How to view files that were shared with you via Google Drive on Android

If you have notifications for Google Drive turned on (which they usually are by default), you can just tap the notification and it'll open right to the file that's been shared with you. If you dismissed the notification by mistake or just didn't get one, here's how to view files that have been shared with you!

  1. Launch Google Drive from your home screen or from the app drawer.
  2. Tap the menu button on the top left of your screen. It looks like ☰.
  3. Tap Shared with me.
  4. Tap the file you'd like to view.

    Tap the menu button, tap Shared with me, tap the file you want to view

How to download a file from Google Drive

If you're transferring files via Google Drive and want to save a hard copy to your phone, you just have to download the file.

  1. Launch Google Drive from your home screen or from the app drawer.
  2. Tap the more button on the bottom right of the file thumbnail. It's the three vertical dots.
  3. Tap Download.

    Launch Google Drive, tap the more button on a file, tap Download

The file will now be downloaded to your phone. You'll receive a notification when it's downloaded, and you can tap that to view it or look in your file storage.

How to check your storage in Google Drive on Android

Google Drive starts you off with 15GB for free, and if you find you're saving a lot to your Google Drive, it's probably best to keep an eye on your storage.

  1. Launch Google Drive from your home screen or the app drawer.
  2. Tap the menu button on the top left of your screen. It looks like ☰.
  3. Tap Settings.

    Launch Google Drive, tap the menu button, tap Settings

The first item in the Settings list is Storage and beneath it, it'll tell you how much of your 15GB you have used. If you're just using your Drive to save Google Docs, it's going to take you a very long time to fill it up.

How to delete files from your Google Drive on Android

If you do find your Google Drive is getting a bit full because you've been using it to save photos, videos, music, and a ton of other stuff, you can choose to pay to upgrade your storage or take the frugal route and delete some stuff!

  1. Launch Google Drive from your home screen or the app drawer.
  2. Tap the more button on the file you'd like to delete. It's the three vertical dots in the bottom right corner of the thumbnail.
  3. Tap Remove, which is at the bottom of the options.

    Launch Google Drive, tap the more button on a file, tap Remove

The file will now be removed from your Google Drive, but you can always re-upload it if you need to.

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1 day ago

Grab these unlocked phones at up to 33% off right now!

14

Your next phone doesn't have to cost a ton — here are a few great deals.

Amazon is currently offering select unlocked phones at a discount of up to 33%, dropping prices on some of them to under $100. The list includes a variety of different phones, like the OnePlus 2, Nextbit Robin, Alcatel Idol 3 and many others. Unlocked phones make great backup devices or even new phones, and don't come loaded with tons of carrier bloat. You have the freedom to move them between carriers as you need, and with these discounts they are even more affordable.

The deals here include:

There are a number of other deals available, so be sure to hit the link below to check them all out. Will any of these be your next phone? Let us know which one in the comments!

See at Amazon

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1 day ago

10 Chrome extensions you didn't know existed but should be using

74
10 Chrome extensions you didn't know existed but should be using

What are the best Chrome extensions I should be using?

The amount of time most people spend browsing the internet continues to rise each year, and Google's Chrome browser attempts to be the most comfortable and versatile browser out there. To aid in its quest, Google allows for developers to market small software extensions that modify and (in most cases) ameliorate your browsing experience. Here are 10 Chrome extensions you didn't know about but should be using.

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1 day ago

Frequency illusion and exploding Samsung phones

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Galaxy Note 7

Just because you're hearing about Samsung phones exploding, doesn't mean it's actually happening more often.

Did you hear?! A Samsung phone caught fire on an Indian airplane! The device in question, a Samsung Galaxy Note... 2 — from 2012 — reportedly went up in smoke in an overhead compartment, before being doused in a bucket of water by cabin crew.

It's one of a few prominent reports lately of Samsung phones other than the genuinely explosion-prone Note 7 going up in smoke. A couple of weeks back, The New York Post carried a story on a Samsung phone catching fire in the hands of a child (the paper incorrectly reported it as a Note 7 initially). Then shouty British rag The Sun published a story on a GS7 edge catching fire in the UK. Those are just two recent examples — many more have been reported in the media since the Note 7 fiasco erupted.

It seems like Samsung phones are constantly exploding! Maybe there's a problem with all of them!

Frequency illusion, amplified by the effect of the modern media.

Well, probably not. What we have here is a case of frequency illusion. (Sometimes called the Baader-Meinhof phenomenon.) This is a cognitive bias — a trick of the mind — where something which has recently come to the personal or collective attention seems to appear with much greater frequency shortly afterwards.

That's amplified considerably by the modern media, which is quick to jump on unrelated stories like the Note 2 catching fire over India, and present them in the narrative of the Note 7 battery fiasco. Had the Note 7 not had battery issues, a story about a single smartphone malfunctioning (albeit spectacularly) on an airplane, with no harm coming to anyone, wouldn't have been splashed around major news outlets as much as it has been.

Galaxy Note 2

What's more, the idea of there being a broader problem with Samsung batteries simply doesn't stand up to common sense. The Galaxy Note 2 has been around for four years, selling well over 5 million units in its year of release alone. If there'd been a battery problem as serious and widespread as that of the Note 7, it would've come to light literally years ago.

The idea of a wider problem with Samsung phones simply doesn't stand up to common sense.

The same argument applies to the Galaxy S7, which had racked up sales of 26 million units by early July. Given that out of a million or so "bad" Note 7s in the U.S., around 100 caught fire in the first month, we'd be looking at thousands of GS7-related cases if the problem was common to both phones.

Constant bear attacks

It's also worth remembering the sheer number of phones Samsung sells. Samsung was the world's biggest smartphone seller in 2015, shifting some 320 million phones, according to Gartner. It's battled Apple for the number-one spot for the past several years. Many of those phones, especially cheaper models, have user-replaceable batteries.

Which brings us back to our airborne Galaxy Note 2 fire over India. The Note 2 is an old Samsung phone with a removable battery, which opens up the strong possibility that an off-brand battery may have been used.

"In India, it's easier to get a hold of third-party batteries than those made by Samsung," AC India editor Harish Jonnalagadda told me. "Non-certified batteries often retail for one-fourth the cost of the genuine product, making them a much more lucrative option for price-conscious buyers. Meanwhile, retailers are able to eke out better profits by selling third-party batteries, which is why they continue to push them onto customers."

There's a non-zero chance of any lithium-ion battery catching fire.

Lithium-ion batteries pack a lot of power into a small space. At any point in time, there's a non-zero chance of a something or other going wrong and releasing all that energy at once. Given that Samsung sells more phones than anyone else, the prominence of that brand in reports of battery fires (outside of the Note 7) isn't surprising. The same applies to the many reports in years past of iPhones catching fire when charging, given that Apple also sells a hell of a lot of iPhones.

MORE: What makes a phone battery explode?

Between the sheer number of Samsung phones out there, the number with replaceable batteries, the tendency for uncertified batteries to be used in some countries — and the important effect of frequency illusion and the modern media, it's not surprising that there are more reports of exploding Samsung phones in the news. (And also that it seems like it's happening more often.)

But that doesn't mean that there's any flaw with other Samsung batteries, or that exploding batteries are any more common now than before the Note 7 fiasco.

Samsung Galaxy Note 7

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1 day ago

360fly 4K review: The future of action cams

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360fly 4K

The quick take

If you're looking for a fun way to capture yourself doing something cool or mildly dangerous, this is absolutely the camera for you. 360fly has polished nearly every rough edge from the previous model and delivered something that deserved to be considered among action cam fans.

The Good

  • Fun design
  • Single button makes quick captures easy
  • Relatively easy to upload and share

The Bad

  • Does not capture a full sphere
  • Wi-Fi Direct is still awkward
  • Massive lens is delicate, prone to scratching

Everything is better in 4K

360fly 4K Review

Last year, 360fly seemed like a camera in need of a market. The original design was clearly aimed at action cam folks, but offered few of the features necessary to hook those users and an app that was downright clunky. At the end of my original review I warned users would probably want to wait for the upcoming 4K model, and that time is now. 360fly 4K is here, and with it you'll find a camera that lives up to the promise of the original — a 360-degree action camera.

Check out 360fly 4K side by side with the original 360fly!

360fly 4K

Same same, but different, but still same.

360fly Hardware

360fly is a weird angular sphere with a single massive fisheye lens, a single physical button, and no ports. It's nearly identical to the original 360fly design, which is solid. The single lens doesn't capture a complete 360-degree sphere, but there's also no need for stitching software either. It's a single lens you mount on a bike or in your car or even on top of your head if you really wanted. The standard camera tripod screw on the bottom means it'll work with about every camera mounting accessory, and the included GoPro adapter in the box means it'll adapt to everything else. The single button gives you a single option — push once to record and go do your thing.

The magnetic socket on the bottom of the orb lets the camera sit flat when it isn't mounted somewhere, and when you set 360fly on top of its charging dock you gain the ability to transfer video over USB to a PC. Needing to carry around a separate charging plate is as tedious for this camera as it is for anything else, but through that you get a camera that can be submerged 30ft without any damage. Compared to the barely splash resistant 360-degree competition or action cams that regularly require special cases for submersion, it's a small compromise.

360fly 4K360fly 4K

Surprisingly, the most useful addition to the design has been the light ring on the base of the camera. The big button on the side of 360fly glows several colors to indicate the current state of the camera, and the ring on the bottom now glows that same color. It's slightly more noticeable in bright sunlight with a protective helmet on, and it's way more noticeable on the bottom of a glossy drone 10ft above your head. The change is subtle, but so important.

Making the whole top of this camera a giant lens means there's very little protecting the glass. This isn't a huge problem for most cameras, where care is implied, but action cameras by nature are exposed to some roughness. For example, 360fly included a suction cup mount for its camera that is rated for well over 100 mph and we decided to test that claim on the front of a 2016 BMW k1300s Motorsport Edition.

The suction cup did in fact handle 120 mph without issue, but shortly after the motorcycle came to a stop the suction cup dropped to the asphalt and the camera became irreparably damaged. This four foot fall is fairly mild compared to the more intense GoPro footage you find out in the world, which is a serious problem for those looking to do something crazy with this camera.

THIS is Halloween!

Oh hey, a kitchen sink!

360fly Software

While little has changed about the overall design of the 360fly app, there are way more features now. 360fly now lets you edit photos and videos through the app in several significant ways, as well as use the app as a real time viewfinder with live filters and camera modes that can be applied while you're shooting.

Editing photos and videos directly in the app is a huge improvement.

You can capture the whole scene around you, positioned vertically or horizontally just in case you're drone surfing with your camera, or you can narrow the field of view down and have some fun with what almost looks like panoramic video. If capturing and sharing later isn't good enough for you, 360fly has partnered with a Livit to allow live streaming a 360-degree sphere over your phone's cellular connection.

It's clear from the single big friendly button on the front of 360fly — which only allows you to record video — that photos aren't the main priority for this camera. Many competing cameras are photo first, video second, but 360fly clearly feels most of its users will want to tap that big button and go do something worth sharing on video. The photo suite in the app is enough for great single photos or time lapses, complete with manual control over ISO and other details if you're interested in a specific kind of shot. The resulting photos are on par with what you'd get from a Ricoh Theta S, save of course for the small black space on the bottom of the sphere where there is no image.

360fly app

Easily the most important feature for action cam enthusiasts is the ability to add a little control to the viewer's focus. You can publish a video and let the viewer pan around on their own, or you can create a viewing path that follows a specific object in the video. This could be a face, a bike, or even a cloud in the sky. The target will be the focal point until the user decides to try and look elsewhere, which means you have some control over the story being told with your video. While there is a Desktop client for all of this, you can do it all through the app with no issue.

This team wanted to throw every conceivable feature into its app, and for the most part succeeded. The app feels complete, and letting a third party handle steaming means the heavy lifting can happen elsewhere. Even sharing to other networks has improved, which is so important now. Quick sharing to Facebook or YouTube is a button press away, but if you'd prefer to keep using the 360fly hosting service for the best possible quality, that option is always right next to the others.

The only thing missing from this app is more defined audio control. Currently you can either keep the audio included with your experience, cut the audio entirely, or add a song of your choosing. These options are fine as long as you aren't doing something louder than the microphones can handle, in which case what would really be helpful would be something that simply cut the audio in half so it wasn't deafening to the viewer.

I need a snowboard and some duct tape.

360fly Experience

If you're capturing yourself doing something crazy, it makes all the sense in the world to capture the entire moment. Using a regular action cam means you get to share a small window of what has happened in front of you. Using a 360-degree camera means the viewer get the whole picture. The look on your face as your take the turn, the faces in the crowd as you skate by, or the stuff happening behind you that you didn't even know about until later. Action cams should always be 360-degree, especially when the creator can control the viewer's focus with software as easily as you can with the 360fly app.

No matter how you look at it, 360fly 4K is a more capable and higher quality camera than its predecessor.

Fragility is a concern with every 360-degree camera with exposed lenses, but using 360fly placed a real emphasis on potential damage to the lens. There's nothing to be done about the scuffs on the review unit we have here, and you can see the damage in every photo and video captured after the accident. On the other hand, there's very little chance many of the other competing cameras would have handled the drop quite as well.

Having a light ring on the bottom of this camera makes a huge difference in how often you need to check and make sure it's still recording. The app does a great job keeping you informed, but if you're recording something dynamic it helps to not have to reach into your pocket and check quite as frequently. It's dead simple to see the glowing red and know you're still recording.

A fully charged battery isn't quite enough to completely fill the included 64GB of internal storage, but it's more than enough to record for an hour or capture a timelapse over four hours. The larger file size hasn't made any significant difference in battery drain, which is fantastic. Despite being one of the physically smaller cameras of its kind, the battery lasts more than long enough to have lots of fun.

Coming in for a landing!

Should you buy it? Sure!

No matter how you look at it, 360fly 4K is a more capable and higher quality camera than its predecessor. Images and video are much nicer, it's much more user friendly now, and the original design has held up well with some minor improvements. That having been said, it's still a 360-degree camera aimed at folks wondering what comes after a GoPro, with a price tag that competes directly with the GoPro Hero 4 line.

If you're looking for a fun way to capture yourself doing something cool, this is absolutely the camera for you. If you just want to take 360-degree photos and maybe a video every once in while, this is probably not your camera.

See at Amazon

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