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1 week ago

Best Android Phone Under $100

It's possible to get a decent Android experience, even on a shoestring — and unsurprisingly Motorola dominates this field.

Best overall

Moto G Play (with ads)

See at Amazon

The Amazon-exclusive Moto G Play is a $150 phone reduced to $100. The catch? You'll get ads and offers from the retail giant on your lock screen, which may or may not be a deal-breaker depending on how you like to use your phone. (We've got a good breakdown of what it means here).

Otherwise, you're getting a decent entry-level Android phone for not a lot of money at all. The Moto G Play (a.k.a. Moto G4 Play) packs the same soft-touch polycarbonate body as its big brother, the Moto G4, and runs a Snapdragon 410 processor, which has plenty of power to run [Android 6.0 Marshmallow](/./marshmallow on a 5-inch 720p display. There's a reasonable 16GB of storage, expandable via microSD, and an 8-megapixel camera that handles the basics well.

Bottom line: Putting up with lock screen ads allows you to get a $150 phone for $100. It's not perfect, but it's a lot better than you'd otherwise get for the cash.

One more thing: It's unlocked, so you can use it on any carrier of your choice. And if you know where to look, there are some places on the Internet that'll help you take care of those pesky ads.

Why the Moto G Play is best

Amazon plugs the price gap with offers on your lock screen.

With ads from Amazon, or without ads from Verizon, the Moto G Play gets you a great core Android experience — fast software, thanks to Motorola's hands-off approach towards customization, and decent specs all-round.

It's not the flashiest or showiest smartphone, with a relatively generic design, but you don't expect pizzaz when you're paying less than a Benjamin for a full-featured smartphone. Same deal with bonus features like water resistance and swappable backs, like you might get from last year's Moto G (third generation).

Instead, the Moto G Play is just a solid all-round phone for not a lot of cash.

Best ad-free

Moto E LTE

See at Amazon

The unlocked Moto E LTE can be used on any supported network, and doesn't come with any of the bloatware you'd expect from the U.S. carriers. And better still, it's only $81. It's powered by the same Snapdragon 410 chip that's inside the Moto G Play, however you do lose a few important features compared to that phone — a smaller 4.5-inch screen with a less impressive qHD (960x540) display. And there's only 8GB of storage, so an SD card will be an essential purchase.

Bottom line: You're getting less phone than a Moto G Play, but also at a lower price without bloatware, carrier locks or ads.

One more thing: You'll definitely want to snap up a microSD card.

Best on Verizon

Moto G Play Droid

See at Verizon

If you're settled on Verizon as your carrier of choice, you can get the Moto G Play (Droid) for $85 without the need to see any ads on your lock screen. Droid branding aside, this is the same phone as the Amazon version, just running on Verizon's network with the expected loadout of pre-installed bloatware apps. On paper it's close to last year's third-gen Moto G, with a Snapdragon 410 processor, a 5-inch 720p display and 16GB of storage.

The main trade-offs between last year's G: Lack of water resistance and a less spectacular camera. The Moto G Play is splash-resistant however, which means you won't need to worry about using it out in the rain.

Bottom line: Trading ads for bloatware gets you Moto's best super-cheap phone for less — if you're on Verizon.

One more thing: Don't expect software updates to be as quick as the unlocked version.

Best on AT&T

Samsung Galaxy Express Prime (GoPhone)

See at AT&T

In AT&T's GoPhone range, the somewhat ridiculously named Samsung Galaxy Express Prime stands out as offering the best bang for your buck. You'll get Android 6.0 Marshmallow and the latest version of Samsung's TouchWiz UI on a 5-inch 720p SuperAMOLED display, powered by Samsung's own Exynos quad-core processor. And an ample 2,600mAh battery should be enough to see you through the day.

The Galaxy Express Prime also looks a little more eye-catching than other devices in this range, appearing like a shrunken-down Galaxy S5. Other specs aren't the greatest — only 1.5GB of RAM and a mere 5-megapixel camera, but at least there's a reasonable 16GB of internal storage, expandable via microSD.

Bottom line: Probably the best Samsung phone you're gonna find for under a hundred bucks.

One more thing: Don't expect an update to Android Nougat anytime soon, if ever.

Best on T-Mobile

Samsung Galaxy On5

See at T-Mobile

A distant cousin of the AT&T Express Prime, T-Mobile's Galaxy On5 packs in the essentials for a good deal less than $100. Once again you're dealing with Samsung's own Exynos 3475 Quad processor and 1.5GB of RAM and a similar style of chassis.

The biggest difference is the network — if you're in a great location for T-Mobile coverage, you'll get largely the same experience as the AT&T GoPhone offering, only for less cash on a network that might suit you better.

Bottom line: The Galaxy On5 is about a year old at this point, but still a decent buy for the money.

One more thing: You'll need to buy a refill pack to get the On5 for this price, which nudges the price a little over $100 in total.

Best on Sprint

Virgin Mobile Moto G (third gen.)

See at Virgin Mobile

The third-generation Moto G is getting a bit long in the tooth, but it's still a fantastic budget phone, and for under $100 on Virgin Mobile, well worth considering. For starters, it's the only phone on this list boasting water resistance, and Motorola's swappable back covers let you easily add some flair to the device.

On the inside, you're looking at a Snapdragon 410 processor and 2GB of RAM, along with 16GB of storage — all standard entry-level stuff. The display is a passable but not spectacular 5-inch 720p panel, while around the back you've got a surprisingly good 13-megapixel shooter.

Storage-wise, there's 16GB internally, with the option to expand via microSD.

Bottom line: The Moto G has aged well, runs great on Marshmallow and is definitely worth a hundred bucks, even in late 2016.

One more thing: The Moto G is now more than a year old, so don't hold out for timely updates to future Android versions.

Conclusion

You'll need to put up with the occasional ad, but Amazon's offer of a Moto G Play for under $100 is really hard to beat.

Best overall

Moto G Play

See at Amazon

The Amazon-exclusive Moto G Play is a $150 phone reduced to $100. The catch? You'll get ads and offers from the retail giant on your lock screen, which may or may not be a deal-breaker depending on how you like to use your phone. (We've got a good breakdown of what it means here).

Otherwise, you're getting a decent entry-level Android phone for not a lot of money at all. The Moto G Play (a.k.a. Moto G4 Play) packs the same soft-touch polycarbonate body as its big brother, the Moto G4, and runs a Snapdragon 410 processor, which has plenty of power to run Android 6.0 Marshmallow on a 5-inch 720p display. There's a reasonable 16GB of storage, expandable via microSD, and an 8-megapixel camera that handles the basics well.

Bottom line: Putting up with lock screen ads allows you to get a $150 phone for $100. It's not perfect, but it's a lot better than you'd otherwise get for the cash.

One more thing: It's unlocked, so you can use it on any carrier of your choice. And if you know where to look, there are some places on the Internet that'll help you take care of those pesky ads.

*/

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1 week ago

Wrath of Loki review: Stop Ragnarok before it's too late!

It's time to find the pieces to save the world.

When your father Odin comes to you and tells you that your brother Loki is on the warpath — you know, again — you don't argue. That's because when Loki is on the warpath, Ragnarok — aka the end of the world as we know it — is nigh. Let's face it, even the Norse gods don't want to see that go down. So it's up to you to stop the chaos, and make sure that humans can go on living their lives.

Read more at VR Heads!

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1 week ago

Best Heavy Duty Cases For OnePlus 3

6

What are the best heavy duty cases for protecting your OnePlus 3?

The OnePlus 3 is a stylish and capable smartphone featuring a unibody design carved out of aluminum, with its AMOLED display protected by Gorilla Glass 4.

OnePlus offers a collection of stylish protective cases options when you purchase through their site. Alas, if you're feeling like it could use some added protection from drops and other accidental damage, there are rugged case options available to give you better peace of mind.

Otterbox OnePlus 3 case

Otterbox is one of the most trusted names in smartphone cases. Their case for the OnePlus 3 is featured prominently right on the OnePlus website, which should tell you that the manufacturers themselves trust this case to keep your device protected.

Featuring a hard shell outer layer to defends against drops and scratches and a coupled with a shock-absorbing silicone layer designed to stay snug to your phone. All this comes in a slim package that doesn't add too much bulk to your phone, and available in three color schemes — Dark Matter, Saharan White and Cardinal Red.

See at OnePlus


Spigen Rugged Armor

Looking for a rugged case that doesn't sacrifice your phone's sleek design too much? Look no further than the Spigen Rugged Armor case.

This one-piece case is made of flexible TPU, and features a spider-web pattern on the inside that helps distribute the shock from drops along the entirety of the case. There's raised lips to protect the screen and back camera, Spigen's air cushion technology in the corners, and a glossy finish with carbon fiber features on the back to complete this stylish, protective case.

See at Amazon


TUDIA Ultra Tough Hybrid

Looking for a case that provides full protection from all angles? The TUDIA Ultra Tough Hybrid case will keep your OnePlus 3 protected from front to back.

It features a polycarbonate outer shell — available in four colors — with an inner sleeve made of TPU to protect against the shock from drops. along with a polycarbonate front plate with a built-in protector to keep your screen free from scratches. This also means that your tempered glass protector won't fit with this case, but unlike other cases that have this issue, at least TUDIA provides its own layer. Rounding out the protection are covers for the charging port and headphone jack to keep out dust and pocket lint.

See at Amazon


OEAGO Tough Rugged Protective Case

The OEAGO Tough Rugged Protective Case is the most rugged-looking case on this list by far. The soft TUP inner sleeve helps with shock absorption, and is covered by a polycarbonate shell, featuring a tactile gridwork to help you maintain a good grip on your phone at all times. The outer shell also features a built-in kickstand, which is convenient for hands-free movie watching, and the inner shell is available in eight different colors so you can find the one to fit your style.

Best part? It's currently available for under $10. You can't beat that value!

See at Amazon


Tell us your favorite!

How do you keep your OnePlus 3 protected? Got a case recommendation that didn't make our list? Let us know in the comments below!

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1 week ago

Digital Offers: Secure your internet connection for $79

15
PureVPN lifetime subscription

How secure is your internet connection? When you're travelling or using a public network, can you guarantee that your private information will be safe from hackers and other sketchy types? Most of us jump onto public networks and never stop to think about the access we might be granting to total strangers. That includes not only your passwords, but your messages and photos, too. Add to that the fact that, depending on where you're travelling, public networks may not even allow you full access to the internet you're used to; blocking certain sites isn't uncommon. How are you supposed to keep up and stay safe when you're travelling, or even just out and about in your own city, when you're spending all of your time worrying and getting frustrated?

What you need is a VPN, or Virtual Private Network. It allows you to become the authorized user of a network that is encrypted, meaning your data remains safer than if you just use a regular public Wi-Fi network. PureVPN is a trusted provider, with well over one million users worldwide, giving you a secure network connection even when your only choice is a public network.

You can get a lifetime subscription to PureVPN through Android Central Digital Offers for just $79, which is 86% off the original price of $597! PureVPN is supported by over 500 servers in 141 countries, so whether you're overseas on business or just down the street from your place, you'll have a secure internet connection and access to everything you need. Your subscription:

  • Keeps your web history completely out of view of potential hackers, protecting your passwords and usernames from becoming public information
  • Is ideal for travel in places where you may find sites have been blocked for some reason; you can now work around those blocks and get access to the sites you need
  • Is compatible with nearly any Smart device you may use at home or when you're away. The subscription also includes five multi logins so that you can access a server from multiple devices at once
  • Includes unlimited data transfer so you can download, browse, stream, and share as much as you like
  • Prevents unauthorized access to your messages, photos, videos, and more

Lifetime subscriptions to anything are expensive, but right now you can get one for PureVPN for 86% off and never have to worry about secure networks or internet roadblocks again. Get yours now!

See at Android Central Digital Offers

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1 week ago

Which color Honor 8 should you get?

24
Which color Honor 8 should you get?

Which color Honor 8 should I buy? There are so many to choose from!

Pearl white, midnight black, sapphire blue, and sunrise gold. Which one, which one?! It's always hard to make the decision, especially when you're going to have to look at the Honor 8 every five minutes for the next year or two.

We know that the color you choose often comes down to personal preference, but we've got some tips that might help those of you still struggling to make a choice.

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1 week ago

Morning brief: Moto G4 Play now up for sale in the U.S., and the boys are back!

4

What could possibly go wrong?

Welcome to Fridays with Android Central. People all around the world are eagerly waiting in line to buy a phone that's already sold out, Samsung is continuing to do all it can to get customers to turn in their defective Note 7s, and the budget Moto G4 Play is now up for sale in the U.S.

But more importantly, The Grand Tour is kicking off on November 18. The show will feature fast cars, a lot of swearing, and three middle-aged men making their transition from mucking around in a studio to having fun in giant tents. And with that, it's time to do the news.

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1 week ago

Putting Linux on your Chromebook is easier than you think (and totally worth it!)

57

If you need to use those productivity programs that Chrome OS just doesn't offer, or you just want to try something new, Linux on your Chromebook has you covered.

You've may have seen chatter on the internet about installing Linux on your Chromebook. Plenty of longtime Chrome OS users are doing it, and it allows the use of programs like GIMP (a Photoshop replacement), or Darktable, (a Lightroom alternative) as well as plenty of programs for video and audio editing. It's a way to use your Chromebook for the few power-user features you might need. It's also completely free and easier than you think.

Let's walk through an easy setup that keeps Chrome OS and is able to run Ubuntu with the Xfce desktop and any applications you might need. You'll be able to run both operating systems at once with a shared Downloads folder, a shared clipboard and web links opening in the Chrome browser you're already familiar with. You can even run them side by side in a split window.

And yes, it really is as cool as it sounds.

Getting started

Before you try anything we're talking about here, you need to do two things: back up all your user files to Google Drive, and have a Chrome OS restore image ready just in case. We're going to be unlocking developer mode and starting with a clean and current Chrome OS install. There's no way around that. The first time you unlock developer mode your Chromebook is Powerwashed and everything is erased. And whenever you're doing something like this there is always a chance that you'll need to reinstall Chrome from scratch with the restore image. Don't worry, none of this is difficult.

Get everything you need ready before you start so you're not stuck looking for it if things go wrong.

You'll need to search Google to find the exact instructions to unlock developer mode for your Chromebook. On some models, you'll need to toggle an actual switch, and on others it is done through the standard recovery software. If you're using a Pixel, for example, you press and hold the Escape and Refresh keys, then hold the power button until the system shuts off and the keyboard backlight comes on to enter recovery mode. On some older Samsung Chromebooks, you'll need to find a switch next to the SD card slot and flip it, then reboot. Everything you need to know is a web search away.

The same goes for grabbing a restore image. You'll find full instructions on where to download one and how to write it to an SD card or thumb drive. Don't skip this step — especially if you don't have another computer to use. The process is simple and it's always nice to have everything you need to factory flash your Chromebook on hand.

Once you're unlocked and prepared in case you need to start from scratch, we can start copying some files.

Crouton

No, not the breadcrumb kind of Crouton, the chroot kind from David Schneider, a Google hardware engineer who loves Chromebooks. Crouton is a script that you can run to automatically fetch all the bits and pieces you need, create an environment for them, and get everything working without doing it by hand.

Using the same principle that Android and Google Play are using to run on Chrome, you can install a full Linux desktop that runs in its own space yet is able to share your Chromebook's hardware. This isn't the only way to install Linux on your Chromebook, and nobody is saying it's the best way. But it is easy simple to uninstall or modify down the road. To get started, grab your Chromebook and download Crouton.

If you're not going to play Steam games, you can run Chrome and Ubuntu at the same time in separate windows.

For the next step you need to make a choice — are you going to install Steam and play games? We'll cover that with another how-to, but know that installing the full Steam client and installing any games your Chromebook meets the minimum requirements for is a thing. We're going to be using a Chrome extension called Crouton Integration (also from David Schneider) that works with the window manager to run your Linux desktop in a window while Chrome OS is still active. This allows you to share things like the clipboard and Downloads folder, as well as use Chrome itself to open web links and pages.

The only concern is that there are performance trade-offs when you're running something that taxes the GPU. For a program like GIMP, it's fine. For Rocket League or CS: Go, it's really not. If you're not going to install Steam, grab the extension from the link above and install it. We'll split out instructions anytime they're different.

Once you have Crouton downloaded, and the Crouton Integration extension installed if you need it, we can install Linux with just a few commands.

The Chrosh shell

This is Chrome OS's command line interface, and what you'll need to run the installer. Open one with by pressing Ctrl+Alt+T on your keyboard. A new tab will open with a text interface. Switch to it, and enter the command shell to change from the Chrosh (Chrome Shell) shell to a proper bash (Bourne Again Shell — a command interpreter that's universal across Linux, BSD, and OS X) shell. The text will change to green and you're ready to run the install script.

  • If you are using the Crouton Integration extension, type the following and hit enter. Mind the spelling, spacing, and punctuation.

sudo sh ~/Downloads/crouton -t xiwi,xfce

  • If you're not going to use Crouton Integration, use the following instead:

sudo sh ~/Downloads/crouton -t xfce

Now, we wait. Crouton is creating a chroot environment, fetching the right software packages and extracting them to the right place. You'll have to interact with the shell tab a couple of times, but it halts at the right spot and waits for your input so you don't have to try and read all the scrolling text. Depending on your internet connection, this will take anywhere between 5 and 20 minutes.

When it's finished downloading and unpacking, you're ready to fire things up.

Starting your new desktop

Using the same shell you used above, type sudo startxfce4 and press the enter key. A few lines of text will scroll by, then you're switched to a new GUI. What you're seeing is a full install of Ubuntu (12.04 LTS at the time of this writing) with the Xfce desktop environment running. You'll use the username and password you set up earlier, and you can install any application the runs on Ubuntu and built for your processor architecture.

If you choose to integrate Crouton into Chrome, you might need a couple tips to get started.

The first time you launch Ubuntu, it might open full screen and prompt you to use the F11 key to switch back to a windowed view. Your Chromebook has no F11 key so you'll need to use a little trick to exit. Right-click on the desktop and add an internet shortcut. It can point to any website or local file, so that's not important. It will use Crouton Integration to switch back to Chrome OS to parse whatever URL you entered and minimize the Ubuntu window. You can then switch between Chrome and Ubuntu using the tray icon for Crouton Integration and Ubuntu will stay inside a bordered window with standard minimize, maximize and window keys.

A quick trick in case it happens again after you shut down — open the extensions page in the settings and scroll to the very bottom. Click the link titled Keyboard shortcuts and create one for Crouton Integration. You can use that shortcut to move to and from full screen.

If you didn't use Crouton Integration, none of this applies. When you start an Ubuntu session, Chrome is suspended and when you log out you're returned.

If you lose your mouse pointer the first time you start Ubuntu, don't panic. On some hardware, this is expected. Just press and hold the power button until you're at the login screen, and use Tab and Enter to shut down. When you reboot things are fine and it won't happen again.

Make it your own

Using these instructions you'll have a very basic setup. You'll probably want to customize it a bit. You can go through the settings and try them all, but there are a few things you will probably want to install to get started — a bash utility and the Ubuntu Software Center. To get both up and running, right-click on the desktop and open a terminal session from the menu. Type the following commands one line at a time, hit enter and let them finish before moving on.

sudo apt-get update

This synchronizes the internal package database with the online servers. Ubuntu uses packages to install software, and will automatically install everything you need to run a program when you install the program itself. The command line version is apt, and we want to update the package lists before we fetch any new software.

sudo apt-get install bash-completion ttf-ubuntu-font-family software-center synaptic

This installs a utility that lets you enter the first letter or letters of a location in the terminal, and use the Tab key to fill in the rest, as well as the fonts you'll need for the software store (otherwise some entries will have squares in place of letters) and the store itself. During the installation of the True Type fonts, you'll need to accept a license. Use the arrow keys to scroll the window, then tab key to choose an option and the enter key to accept.

Ubuntu has its own app store to install programs with just a click of the mouse.

Once finished, you'll find the Ubuntu Software Center in your apps list. That's Ubuntu's version of an app store where you can download just about any program available. If you're using a Chromebook with an Intel processor, there's nothing to do except look through it and grab the things you'll need. If you're using an ARM Chromebook, some of the programs aren't going to run — check the description and reviews to see if someone has mentioned it. If something you want isn't working for ARM processors, hit Google to find one that does. There a really good chance someone has compiled it for ARM because they wanted to use it, too.

You'll be told when updates to your operating system are available and can install them with the click of a button. You'll probably see a notice that a new version of Ubuntu is available to download. Don't just click yes and try it! Ubuntu 12.04 LTS isn't the newest version, but it is the best-supported version for most Chromebooks. Any and all critical updates and patches are available for 12.04, so there is no urgent need to try it. Google around a bit and see how newer versions work with your particular model before you jump in.

One last thing

Because your Chromebook is in Developer Mode, you'll need to hit Ctrl + D at the boot screen every time you start it. You'll also get a scary warning about security. Know that doing any of this makes your Chromebook less secure. It's still more secure than most other laptops, but you are giving someone with physical access another way to try to get in.

When you log out of Ubuntu you go back to Chrome. the tab with your shell session is still open, and to go back just type sudo startxfce4 again. When you shut down, you'll need to reopen a shell session tab (Ctrl+Alt+T) again, and switch to bash with the shell command. You can then start Ubuntu with the sudo startxfce4 command. The tab with the shell running will need to stay open while you're in Ubuntu.

All that's left now is to try it and see why the people "dual-booting" on their Chromebooks love it so much!

Chromebooks

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1 week ago

Fess up: Who's buying an iPhone 7 today?

290
iPhone launch day yay magical give us your money sheeple

Spend a night in the rain to buy a smaller version of the phone you actually wanted.

For Android people, today is Friday — a good day, to be sure. Elsewhere though, it's iPhone launch day, a magical, revolutionary time that (usually) comes just once a year. It's the time of year when people camp outside a glowing retail cuboid only to be told the phone they actually want is out of stock. That's right: today is the first day actual humans, as opposed to weirdo tech bloggers, can get their hands on the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus.

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1 week ago

Evening brief: Motorola fibs, Note 7 burns 92 times, and SwiftKey goes neural

39

"I got a fever, and the only prescription is more cowbell!"

I flew home from New York to Toronto this morning, and prior to the flight attendant warning everyone about seatbelts and emergency exits, they told us to "power down all Samsung Galaxy Note 7s." Like all infectious diseases, this one seems to be spreading quickly and widely before it can be contained, and Samsung, despite its best efforts, is having a tough time doing that. Obviously the implications for the company's reputation are unclear right now, but it wouldn't be unrealistic to say that this patient is going to take a long time to heal.

Speaking of healing, today was the first day I needed a sweatshirt in Toronto, which is both exciting and upsetting. Winter is coming, friends.

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1 week ago

Samsung officially recalls Note 7 with U.S. CPSC, 92 incidents reported thus far

140

It's all very official now, but the recommendation hasn't changed — return your Note 7.

Following its informal announcement last week, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission has announced an official recall of the Galaxy Note 7. The official notice from the CPSC says that "about 1 million" Note 7s were sold prior to September 15, and claims there have been 92 official reports of Note 7 batteries overheating or exploding.

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1 week ago

PlayStation 4 vs PlayStation 4 Slim: What's the difference?

54

How much thinner is the new PlayStation 4?

While all eyes were on Sony's big PlayStation 4 Pro during the announcement, a new slimmer PlayStation 4 snuck onto store shelves. Instead of being called a Slim model like previous generations, it's simply also called PlayStation 4.

The goal is to replace the current PlayStation 4 on store shelves eventually, leaving only this new model and the PlayStation 4 Pro for shoppers to choose between. Until that happens, there are a pair of boxes labeled PlayStation 4 on shelves and it's not entirely clear what the differences between them are. Here's what you need to know!

In keeping with Sony's previous slim PlayStation releases, the goal with this new PS4 is mostly aesthetic. Sony claims the new PlayStation 4 consumes less power, but the big feature here is size. The new PlayStation 4 is noticeably thinner, and slightly narrower. As you can see by comparing the two side by side, the updated design drops the even split on either side of the big black line in the middle of the console and instead makes the top way thinner. This updated design is also matte black instead of glossy on half, and the under side of the casing swaps out streaks of anti-skid rubber for PlayStation themed anti-skid marks.

As silly as this may seem, the biggest update to the new PlayStation 4 design is the inclusion of discrete buttons on the face of the console. These two buttons, instead of the touch sensitive strips on the face, make it abundantly clear when you're powering on/off and ejecting a disk. It's a fairly small update in the grand scheme of things, but anyone who regularly tapped the front of the original PlayStation 4 only to have nothing happen will welcome the change.

Sony's DualShock 4 controller has also received a slight update, though you wouldn't know it by looking at them powered off. The touch pad in the center of the controller now shows you a sliver of light coming from the light bar. This means you know when the controller is producing light without looking at the back of the controller, and no extra power is consumed in the process. It's a nice little detail, but not something that will send most folks scrambling to replace their existing controllers.

The new PlayStation 4, which is currently being sold in a 500GB bundle with Uncharted 4, is exactly what we've come to expect from Sony with its "slim" releases. It's a physical update so this standard PlayStation 4 looks like a sibling to the PlayStation 4 Pro. It looks nice unless you're a fan of the white version of the PlayStation 4, and as the packaging suggests it's everything you need to get ready for PlayStation VR. Just like choosing between this new PlayStation 4 and the PlayStation 4 Pro, the biggest reason anyone would choose the original version over this newer version is price.

See at Amazon

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1 week ago

Samsung's Galaxy S7 camera lens case is a wonderful, hard-to-justify accessory

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Samsung Galaxy Note 7

Just about everyone's taking smartphone pictures with the same focal length — but you can change that.

Since the Galaxy S7 and S7 edge were released, I've been enamored by the official Samsung "camera lens case" that lets you attach two high-quality camera lenses — one wide-angle, one telephoto — to the phone for unique shooting possibilities. Then Samsung just didn't launch the cases in the U.S., or pretty much any big market around the world. Being a self-proclaimed photography nerd I just had to try them, though.

So when the good people over at MobileFun offered to send me a Galaxy S7 camera lens case for review, I took them up on it right away. Here's what I've found using is odd-looking contraption for my photographic escapades.

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1 week ago

Best Smartwatch For Kids

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Your kids want a smartwatch? Android Wear isn't where you start.

Russell has been covering Android since the G1, and has had his head in VR headsets since the first Oculus Rift dev kit. Managing editor at VRHeads, video and podcast host, you can follow him on Twitter @russellholly. For suggestions and updates, you can reach him at [email protected]

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Best overall

VTech Kidizoom Smartwatch DX

Find on Amazon

Instead of a tool for connecting to a smartphone, VTech created an experience that is mostly toy but partially useful. Amid all the games and onboard camera tricks you'll find a functional calendar for appointments, a voice memo app, and several other tools that work well with the smartwatch aesthetic. This is a great way to get kids thinking about using technology for more than entertainment, without completely pulling them away from the shiny world of fun things.

Bottom line: If you have a youngster who wants a smartwatch just like you, this is a fantastic place to start.

One more thing: This watch comes in Blue and Purple, depending on what color you think your child will prefer.

Why VTech Kidizoom is the best

Smartwatches are already luxury accessories, and for kids they become little more than toys. VTech's smartwatch for kids has a few games, but also lets them take photos from their wrist and have some fun with the photos. It's a fun way for a kid to emulate their smartwatch-wearing parent without needing to be tethered to a smartphone, and it actually includes some tools that could be useful. Calendar access, for example, gives you an teaching opportunity. Calculator apps let children explore math on their own. There's plenty of fun to be had here, but the need to charge the watch regularly in order to use it and the availability of actually useful apps could become tools for teaching children how to care for their hardware and use it properly.

Best value

Supvin U80 Smartwatch

Find on Amazon

U80 is a barebones traditional smartwatch. It pairs to a phone via Bluetooth 4.0 and acts as notification sync. It's a limited experience, but one that covers the basics of smartwatch use and fitness or sleep tracking. It's simple, and the biggest feature here is the price. If you're looking for a very basic smartwatch, this is where you start.

Bottom line: This is the beginner smartwatch you buy for a kid on their first smartphone, who really wants something inexpensive.

Only on AT&T

FiLIP 2

Find on AT&T

FiLIP 2 is less about giving your child a cool watch full of features and more about giving your child a one-way phone they can strap to their wrist so you can reach them and track them as you desire. The FiLIP app allows you to send one-way text messages and track the GPS in the watch, and because the watch has a phone number you can call to check in whenever necessary. For the child, it's a fairly simple watch with an emergency button that calls each of the contacts built in to the watch while recording the background audio just in case.

Bottom line: This is more or less a tracking bracelet for a child you don't trust with a phone.

Only on Verizon

GizmoPal 2

Find on Verizon Wireless

LG's GizmoPal 2 is a wrist-mounted phone with some simple features for both parents and children. For kids, pre-programmed messages and emoji can be sent to a list of approved contacts. Two-way calling ensures your child can reach and be reached when necessary, and there's a fitness function onboard for jump rope or step counting. The big feature for parents is real-time tracking through the Android app, which gives you GPS coordinates and offers notifications if your child strays from GPS boundaries you have set up.

Bottom line: This is a simple, friendly watch for kids who aren't ready for their first phone yet.

Conclusion

While there are certainly some great Android Wear watches out there, these are the best options for most kids. VTech offers a great fun accessory that doesn't require a phone. U80 is an inexpensive way to offer base smartwatch features. If you'd prefer the smartwatch be more for your peace of mind than your child's entertainment, AT&T and Verizon have you covered with the FiLIP 2 and GizmoPal 2 exclusives.

Best overall

VTech Kidizoom Smartwatch DX

Find on Amazon

Instead of a tool for connecting to a smartphone, VTech created an experience that is mostly toy but partially useful. Amid all the games and onboard camera tricks you'll find a functional calendar for appointments, a voice memo app, and several other tools that work well with the smartwatch aesthetic. This is a great way to get kids thinking about using technology for more than entertainment, without completely pulling them away from the shiny world of fun things.

Bottom line: If you have a youngster who wants a smartwatch just like you, this is a fantastic place to start.

One more thing: This watch comes in Blue and Purple, depending on what color you think your child will prefer.

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1 week ago

Best AT&T phones

What are the best phones you can buy at AT&T right now?

Whether you're a loyal AT&T subscriber, or you're looking to jump ship to its giant cellular network, take a peek at our list of the best smartphones the carrier has to offer.

We'll be updating this guide throughout the year to keep you informed of the latest devices worth wielding as your daily driver. Be sure to read through our reviews for the full rundown on each smartphone.

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1 week ago

How much faster are Samsung's Fast Wireless Chargers?

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How much faster are Fast Wireless chargers?

Wireless charging is one of those things most folks tend to ignore for two reasons. No Android phone that supports wireless charging has ever included a wireless charger in the box, and wireless charging is never as fast as the charger you do get in the box. It's only marginally more convenient to set a phone on a little tray than it is to plug it in, so the list of positives has never really been high enough to justify mass adoption.

Samsung's recent phones have included a new kind of wireless charging — dubbed Fast Wireless Charging — which aimed to do something about the charging rate. With more Samsung phones arriving with this Fast Wireless support, we decided to take a look at the difference between these new chargers and the older Qi chargers from the Nexus 5 days.

Your average wireless charger

Qi and Powermat chargers have been around for a while, and while most of them look like small platters you connect Micro-USB cables to there are a few that have drifted from this design. Zens has a cool Qi car charger you just slip your phone into, Fonesalesman makes a battery pack with a Qi coil on top, and the list goes on. The problem with these chargers is rarely design, and usually output. These chargers had a maximum output of 5V/1A, which charges a Galaxy S7 from 9% to 100% in about five hours.

This is fine if you're charging your phone overnight, or if you're leaving your phone at your desk all day during work, but when your power cable can replenish 30% of your battery in 10 minutes that wireless charger becomes a lot more difficult to justify. The only real benefit here is less stress on your Micro-USB or USB-C port, which is frequently not worth the cost of a wireless charging accessory. Even a really cool one.

Fast Wireless Charging

Setting the same Galaxy S7 on a new Samsung Fast Wireless charger offers a mostly similar experience. You get a notification that your phone is charging wirelessly with a fun animation, and the phone starts charging. There's a small indicator for faster charging, like you get with Samsung's included rapid charger, but the results are a little different.

On a Fast Wireless charger, our Galaxy S7 charged from 9% to 100% in just over two hours, cutting the total charge time in half. A quick look at power input through Ampere confirmed that Fast Wireless Charging was delivering almost exactly twice the amount of energy to the phone. This isn't quite as fast as a rapid charger, which will take this same Galaxy S7 from 9% to 100% in 90 minutes, but it's still pretty great when compared to the alternative.

Should you upgrade?

Samsung's Fast Wireless Charger certainly delivers a much faster charge than the previous generation of Qi and Powermat chargers, but it's still an additional accessory you need to buy for your phone. That means shelling out around $50 for one of these accessories from Samsung, or keeping your eye out for a deal on third-part Fast Wireless Chargers. Now that Fast Wireless chargers exist for the house and car, it may be worth considering a full replacement to wireless charging. On the other hand, your included power cable still delivers the fastest overall charge.

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