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1 week ago

Burger King's latest ad prompts your Google Home to deliver Whopper facts

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Turn the volume high enough and your in-home assistant will tell you all about the flame-broiled Whopper.

Update: Google has apparently disabled the Burger King advertisement. Now when you ask it about the Whopper, it merely cites Wikipedia.

We were positively ecstatic when Google initially announced the voice-activated, Assistant-enabled Google Home. Finally, a little gadget for our homes that harnesses the power of Google's search engine and it's external capabilities, the same way that the Echo became an extension of Amazon's shopping and media experience. But that dream is slowly dissipating as we realize these little gadgets aren't always used for altruistic purposes. Now that brands have caught on, they're becoming another way to deliver advertisements.

Burger King: "It's a cool way to connect directly with our guests."

Burger King is the next major company to showcase Google Assistant's ad-delivering capabilities, though it's important to note that the company did not launch this ad in tandem with Google. In a statement to Buzzfeed, Burger King President, JosΓ© Cil, said the company saw Google Home "as a technology to essentially punch through that fourth wall." He added that it's "a cool way to connect directly with our guests."

Is it a cool way to connect? You be the judge. Here's the ad, and if you want to experience it fully, we suggest you turn your volume up so that Google Home β€”Β or your Pixel, for that matter β€” is triggered.

This isn't the first advertisement of sorts to appear on Google Home, though the Beauty and the Beast audio spot that debuted a few weeks ago wasn't nearly as abrasive. If you asked the Home about your day, the device offered a mention to remind you that the live action remake of the fabled Disney film was playing in theaters. And anyway, Google didn't consider this an ad. In a statement to The Verge, the company had said that "the beauty in the Assistant is that it invites our partners to be our guest and share their tales." In this case, it was Burger King's chance to tell the tale of its flame-broiled Whopper.

Burger King assaults Google Assistant on your Pixel, too.

It really hasn't been a good week for brands, and though Burger King hasn't physically assaulted anyone here, it's natural to feel personally assaulted by advertisements in the home on a device you had originally thought was for personal use.

At this stage in the game, however, it's a wonder if we should really be surprised. Google is a search and advertisement company first and foremost, and as long as brands are around, they'll leverage whatever they can to tell us to buy their products.

Google Home

Google Store Best Buy Target

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

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1 week ago

The Moto Z2 Force looks like a Moto Z with two cameras and a sensible fingerprint sensor

36

We're getting our first look at the new Moto Z design, and it looks a lot like last year's model.

Motorola is readying its follow-ups to the unique Moto Z and Moto Z Force, which were announced last summer. We've already seen hints of the branding, suggesting that the sequels will be predictably assigned Moto Z2 and Z2 Force, and now we're seeing the first press render, if Slashleaks is to be believed.

What lends credence to this particular render is that the company has boxed itself into a specific design until at least 2018 thanks to its Mods ecosystem, which attach to the phone's back by a set of pins. You'll notice on this picture that the so-called Moto Z2 Force has two cameras on the back, which aligns with previous rumors, and a redesigned fingerprint sensor on the front, matching that of the Moto G5 series from earlier this year.

We already know that the Moto Z2 series should run a Snapdragon 835 platform, thanks to demoes it did with Sprint, and that at least one model will be available from a carrier other than Verizon, which is nice. The render also shows a 'Lenovo' insignia on the phone's side which, while perhaps not the most egregious placement of a company's logo, could certainly be better positioned.

Thoughts on the Moto Z2 or Z2 Force?

Moto Z, Moto Z Force and Moto Z Play

Motorola Verizon

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

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1 week ago

Nex Band review: What I really wanted instead of a smartwatch

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Nex Band

Finally, a wearable that does exactly what I want it to do.

Android Central Choice Award

I hate what we're doing with smartwatches right now. I don't want to talk at my wrist; I couldn't care less about a cellular connection; and I'm not interested in a smaller version of my phone giving me turn-by-turn directions in a place that still requires me to look away from the road. If I turn off the features I don't care about, set my notifications so my wrist isn't being buzzed every 12 seconds, and drink a little to forget there's a keyboard in there now, I can make a smartwatch do most of the things I want it to do.

That's a lot of unnecessary work for a watch that I still have to charge every day. I needed a better solution, and the folks at Mighty Cast have spent the last couple of weeks trying to convince me their Nex Band is the thing I've been looking for. Here's what I've found.

Nex Band

Glossy plastic and rubber, so hot right now

Nex Band Hardware

Instead of a traditional display with its own UI and apps and emoji, the face of your Nex Band is five small touch panels with LEDs underneath. When you touch a panel, it lights up in its corresponding color, and aside from the single physical button on the side that's really all there is to this thing. There's no text, no scrolling wheels, and no desire to spend any more than half a second glancing down at it when you're doing something. It's a few colorful panels with a single button and a vibration motor for getting your attention. And Bluetooth.

It feels a bit cheap, but I overlooked that because it does what I want it to do.

The Nex Band comes in two colors, a white band with a gold body and black band with a black body, and the most important thing to know about both is that they feel really cheap on your wrist, and there's very little you can do about that. The plastic body and "sporty" rubber band are fused together with no way to separate them, so if you're not a fan of that kind of band this won't be for you.

The plastic button clasp does a reasonable job keeping the band secure on your wrist, but the band itself doesn't close all the way on smaller wrists unless you're willing to trim the band yourself. On larger wrists like mine, it fit comfortably enough and remained in place on my wrist no matter what I was doing.

The bottom of the band doesn't have a heart rate monitor or a skin sensor for wireless payments, but it does have the charging pins. Instead of a standard charging port, you need to snap an awkward charging clasp on the back of the band and connect a Micro-USB cable to that clasp. I can't overstate how easy it is to lose this attachment, especially if you're planning to travel with it. Be careful, because right now they aren't easy to replace.

Nex Band

I thought we were past this kind of behavior.

Fortunately, you won't need to worry about carrying the charging clasp with you everywhere because the battery on this band is actually pretty decent. On average, I'm getting a little over two full days of use without recharging, and it's pretty safe to assume my usage is a little heavier than average.

Overall, this band is not going to impress just by looking at it. There's no nice way to put this: it even looks kind of cheap. It's unlikely I'd wear this when going to an important meeting or to a special function. Every day, however, it's the first thing I reach for when getting out of bed.

Nex Band

Dancing lights on your wrist

Nex Band Software

Out of the box, these five touch panels don't do anything at all. There are no features programmed to these buttons. Notifications from your phone will cause all five to light up in cute animations and color patterns so you know what kind of notification you just received, but otherwise it's a blank slate. A glorious, completely customizable, blank slate that can be set up to do just about anything.

Every day, however, it's the first thing I reach for when getting out of bed.

From the Nex app, each of these panels can be assigned a function. You can launch media controls, start a remote shutter for your camera app, trigger a fake phone call, and really just about anything else. Nex calls these "hacks" but really they're all just simple scripts that run when you activate one of the panels on your wrist.

If you don't see a pre-written hack that suits your need, you can quickly make one yourself through IFTTT. Anything you can do with IFTTT can be activated by a panel, including control over things like smart lights and other connected home gear.

Hacks don't have to be activated through touching a panel; some can be contextual. Nex will let you use your location, the number of steps you've taken in a day, and proximity to another Nex user as triggers for hacks as well. There's a ton of flexibility by default, and while that means you're going to spend a little extra time setting this band up when you first take it out of the box, it also means you're going to have the exact experience you want when finished.

Each panel can be configured to a long press command and a double-tap command, so you have ten potential programs you can run from your wrist. The ridges between the panels make it easy to activate one without looking down at the band, so you're able to either remain focused on someone talking and be discrete about controlling the world around you.

Nex even gives you control over the lights and vibrations during notifications, so if you'd prefer Twitter to flash green and never vibrate your wrist but you'd like an email from your boss to look like KITT from Knight Rider on your wrist with a constant vibration you totally can. The light system in the Nex app gives you total control over how everything looks and behaves, making this band exactly as simple or complex as you choose.

Nex Band

Ditch the Dick Tracy look

Nex Band Conclusion

There's a lot to like about the Nex Band, especially if you're a fan of flexibility and have local friends that would also wear one of these bands. Nex allows you to send custom animations to people in your Nex friends list, and this micro social network doesn't care if you're using Android or iOS. It's not useful for much more than getting your friend's attention from across the table or letting a significant other know you're thinking about them, but that's probably enough for most people. It's also nowhere near a requirement to use, like everything else in the Nex ecosystem.

Nex has taken the things I wish smartwatches did better and made them its biggest features, while removing all of the extra maintenance involved in using a smartwatch. It works well in every situation, including direct sunlight, and I'm not compelled in any way to try talking at my wrist. I'd be happier with build materials that were a little less sporty and plastic, but so far Nex has done a great job getting the important things on the inside right.

Should you buy it? Yes.

Where most wearables worth talking about start at the $200-$250 price range, you can grab a Nex Band in either color for $80. That's a great price for something that gets you multiple days of battery and can be tweaked to do whatever you want it to do, so if you have any interest in wearables at all I'd suggest this over just about anything else right now.

See at Amazon

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1 week ago

Put some Spring in your step with these wallpapers!

0

April showers bring spring flowers.

Spring has been sprung, and Easter Sunday is coming β€” and so are the Monday-after candy sales! The world is showing the beauty of nature around us as the wildflowers bloom, the gardens grow, and the whole world outside your window seems to be green with new life. As most of us can't spend these spring days frolicking in a field, we'll have to get that burst of spring energy somewhere else β€” like our home screen. These wallpapers are sure to put some spring in your step.

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1 week ago

Best Samsung Galaxy S8 Deals for April 2017

26

Where is the best place to buy a Galaxy S8 right now? Let's find out!

Samsung's Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+ are the company's latest smartphones, and as of right now they haven't even hit the market. If you're the type that likes to stay on the breaking edge of technology, you're probably looking to get your order in sooner than later, so that you can have one when it becomes available. Whether the smaller one is what interests you, or the larger display that pushes the limits even further speaks to you, the last thing you want to do is not find the best deal to buy one.

Pre-orders are available already at a number of retailers and carriers, so let's take a look at who is offering what, so you know where to go to when you're ready to place your order. Currently, Samsung's big promotion is a free Gear VR & Oculus Controller, but some retailers are offering other incentives as well.

Samsung Galaxy S8

Samsung Galaxy S8+

Your favorite deals?

Have you come across any deals that aren't listed here? If so, be sure to drop a note in the comments with a link to the deal so others can check it out as well!

Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+

Verizon AT&T T-Mobile Sprint

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

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1 week ago

Samsung Gear 360 (2017) vs. Gear 360 (2016): What's different, what's better

3

One of these things is clearly not like the other.

It doesn't take more than a passing glance to see there are some substantial differences between the new Gear 360 Samsung announced alongside the Galaxy S8 and the model from last year. The old one was built to have the processor and battery between the lenses so you could mount the camera just about anywhere, while the new one was built to be held like most of the other 360-degree cameras out in the world today. This difference is significant from a usability perspective, but what else is different about these two cameras?

Here's a quick look at how things have improved from one generation to the next in the Gear 360 lineup.

More than a specs sheet

Anyone familiar with the original Gear 360 will look at this new model and be a little suspicious that it's actually an upgrade, and that has a lot to do with the specs sheet. The older version of this camera has twice the number of megapixels to work with, captures in a wider aperture, and offers a slightly larger battery for recording video. Here's the whole breakdown.

Category Gear 360 (2016) Gear 360 (2017) Size 60.1mm x 66.7mm 100.6mm x 45.1mm Weight 152g 130g Aperture f/2.0 f/2.2 Still image resolution 30MP (2x 15MP sensors) 15MP (2x 8.4MP sensors) Video resolution (dual lens) 3840 x 2160 (24fps) 4096 x 2048 (24fps) Video resolution (single lens) 2560x1440 (24fps) 1920 x 1080 (60fps) External Storage MicroSD (up to 200GB) MicroSD (Up to 256GB) Battery 1350mAh 1160mAh Wireless 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac (2.5GHz/5GHz), Bluetooth 4.1, NFC 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac (2.5GHz/5GHz), Bluetooth 4.1 Charging MicroUSB (USB 2.0) USB-C (USB 2.0)

So this new camera has a smaller battery, no NFC, and takes photos with less detail and resolution? There's a lot more to it than that in practice. The biggest "feature" of this new Gear 360 is the more than 20mm it lost between the two sensors. That decrease makes stitching together images and video much easier, which means the camera itself can take more realistic 360-degree photos. Even with twice the pixels to capture with, the previous Gear 360 frequently appeared distorted where the two halves of the image were stitched together. This smaller body makes it easier to take better photos, and as we know from smartphones more megapixels does not mean a better image.

The lack of NFC in the new model is kind of a bummer if you frequently use that feature on your phone, but the truth is Samsung has already done a great job making it easy to connect to the Gear 360 from inside the app. It wasn't worth the extra space it took inside the body of this camera. Removing that feature likely also helped a little with battery life β€” not that you'll notice any huge difference in performance between these two products. The only thing you're likely to notice here is the USB-C port, which will let you connect a cable straight to your phone if your camera is in need little top-off.

It's not all negatives, either. Despite having smaller sensors, this new and appreciably lighter Gear 360 is capable of taking both higher resolution and higher frame rate video. You have the ability to take higher resolution videos to share with Facebook and YouTube, but the higher frame rate videos make this camera ideal for capturing a lot of intense motion for VR. Capturing a roller coaster ride at 120fps or a dashcam-style video at 60fps makes these videos much easier to watch with a headset on, which is a big deal when thinking about who you are recording video for.

New features are where it's at

Not only is the new Gear 360 easier to hold, there are some important new things you can do with it. New camera features that offer quite a bit of flexibility when it comes to how you use this camera and when you might think about carrying it around.

  • Landscape HDR - As the name suggests, this lets you capture multiple still photos back to back at different exposures so you can enjoy a photo with greater dynamic range. It's perfect for capturing a sunrise over the ocean or a wide open space at midday with the sun bearing down.

  • Looping Video - Instead of worrying about running out of storage, this mode will record over itself when the microSD card is full. It'll continue doing this until you tell it not to, so you can in theory record for an entire day while connected to power and be able to look back and the last couple of hours when you return to your camera.

  • Little Planet - It's not challenging to turn any 360-degree photo into a Little Planet, where the perspective is inverted and the horizon line is no longer the focal point, but the new Gear 360 lets you see a preview of this mode before taking the photo, and even letting you mess around a little with the sizing and proportions before taking a photo.

You can't do any of these things on the previous Gear 360 as native features, and they make a big difference in the day-to-day use of this camera if your goal is to wander around and explore 360-degree photography. These aren't likely to be features you use every day, but they are really nice to have around when you're experimenting.

Which should I buy?

What you're getting between these two cameras is a lot of small differences that really add up depending on how you decide to use your camera. If you want a Gear 360 you can mount somewhere and take great big photos, the original Gear 360 is still a great camera. If you want something you're more likely to want to carry around with you, and you're interested in exploring what is possible with a 360-degree camera, the new Gear 360 will be what you want to buy when it goes on sale.

Either way, you're going to have a lot of fun with this weird buy fun way of taking photos.

See on Amazon

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1 week ago

What was your first phone? Taking a walk down cell phone memory lane

290

Forget the smart little powerhouses we have in our hands today. We're throwing it back to the olden days, before unlimited anything.

I've officially reached the point in my life that I can now look back nostalgically at my technology past. And since we've been talking about escapism, I thought it would be fun to start off the week with a trip down memory lane.

Lately, I've been thinking about my first cell phone, the Motorola StarTac. It was a dull, clunky flip phone with a retractable antenna. (I'm chuckling as I'm recalling it.) I tried desperately to cover it in stickers and make it look cool, but it was still relatively utilitarian-looking. I remember it was marketed more towards business folk and contractors rather than socially awkward teenagers like me. I needed something hip to fit in with the masses, like a Nokia 3310, but it wasn't offered by Verizon at the time. And anyway, the StarTac was a hand-me-down that was initially meant as a tracking device.

Via DeviantArt user Redfield-1982.

Each minute of talk cost a whopping 30 cents.

Per my parents, the StarTac was only to be used to call for a ride home. I wasn't allowed to text anyone or make phone calls without permission because the phone was on a severely limited plan. Any time I spent on the phone had to be carefully counted because each minute of talk cost a whopping 30 cents.

Eventually, I lobbied for a better deal. Rather than spend $3 for 10 minutes of talking, I argued, why not switch the plan so that I'm primarily texting instead? It's quieter for everyone at home, it's cheaper, and it was the cool new way to communicate with friends. My parents agreed to this, and it felt like the path had cleared for my ever-so-slightly burgeoning social life.

My friend's Motorola T900 2-Way Pager.

I spent a few months texting back and forth with one friend in particular. She was on a text-only device: the Motorola T900 2-Way Pager, which came with a miniature QWERTY keyboard. She was not only more thorough in her replies, but she sent longer messages, too, which counted against my allowance. I would reply to her the next day, in person, because I didn't want to scare her away with the realities of my messaging limitations. Or rather, I didn't want it to get out that was all my parents would pay for.

By my 16th birthday, I was better equipped for socializing in high school. My parents used an upgrade on their account and allowed me to pick out the phone. It was the Motorola T720 and it was the cutest little thing. It could download apps, play games, and go on the internet, in addition to making phone calls and sending text messages β€” and it did all this on a color display! I didn't have to cover it in stickers to make it look decent, either. Instead, I bought translucent neon face plates for it from a kiosk at the mall, like the rest of my friends did with their Nokia 3310s.

An original advertisement from 2001 for the Motorola T720.

What was your first cell phone?

For fun, I put out this question on Twitter to see what the replies might be like. I've pasted a few below, though you can view the whole thread here. Unsurprisingly, I received many replies about a Nokia cell phone being the first mobile device.

Alright, I've told you my story and a few others have told you theirs. Now it's your turn: What was your first mobile device? Tell us about it in the comments! We'll showcase some of your answers in a post later this week.

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1 week ago

Wi-Fi calling is coming soon to Pixel, Pixel XL on India's Jio

2

Wi-Fi calling is coming with Android 7.1.2 Nougat to the Pixel and Pixel XL on Jio.

Google added VoLTE support for the Pixel and Pixel XL on Jio back in December, and will soon offer Wi-Fi calling via an upcoming Nougat update. The update will make it easier for customers to make calls using Wi-Fi in situations where they don't have great cellular coverage in their homes. The call will be routed through your phone number, but instead of mobile data like VoLTE, it uses your Wi-Fi connection.

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1 week ago

Cricket Wireless vs. Boost Mobile: Battle of the subbrands

These two MVNOs are a little different from the rest and can offer something most other MVNOs can't: Unlimited LTE data.

Boost Mobile and Cricket Wireless aren't like most MVNOs. Instead of buying service in bulk from another carrier and reselling it at a low price, they are actually owned by a bigger, more familiar name when it comes to cellular service: Boost Mobile is a part of Sprint and Cricket Wireless is owned by AT&T. This unique arrangement works well for every company involved and may even work well for you.

Let's compare Boost Mobile and Cricket Wireless and see which might be better for you.

Boost Mobile background

Who owns it? Sprint

Which network does it use? Sprint 3G CDMA and 4G LTE

How long has it been around? Since 2001, acquired by Sprint in 2006

Tethering allowed? Yes with qualifying plans or as an add-on

Cheapest plan: $30 for 1 month: 2GB 4G LTE, unlimited nationwide talk, text, and 2G data

Cricket Wireless background

Who owns it? AT&T

Which network does it use? AT&T EDGE, HSPA+, and 4G LTE

How long has it been around? Since 1999, acquired by AT&T in 2013

Tethering allowed? Yes with qualifying plans or as an add-on

Cheapest plan: $30 for 1 month: 1GB 4G LTE, unlimited nationwide talk, text, and low-speed (128kbps) data

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Boost plans

Boost Mobile offers two tiers of single line and family plans: a 2GB LTE package and an unlimited LTE data package. Unlimited 4G LTE data is something most MVNOs don't offer, but because it's fully owned by Sprint, it's one of the ways Boost can differentiate itself.

Single line 2GB LTE Unlimited GBs (up to 23GB LTE) Price $35/month $50/month With Auto Re-Boost $30/month No discount Extras Streaming music without data charges Unlimited HD streaming for $20/month Family plan 2GB LTE Unlimited GBs (up to 23GB LTE) Primary line price $35/month $50/month Primary line with Auto Re-Boost $30/month No discount Secondary lines (up to 5) $30/month $30/month Extras Streaming music without data charges Unlimited HD streaming for $20/month

Note: Data is not shared between lines on a family plan. Each line gets its own allotment, based on its plan.

Unlimited plans use mobile-optimized streaming for video, games, and music. Full speed media streaming is available for an extra $20 per month.

Add-ons

Extra data:

  • 1GB/month: $5
  • 3GB/month: $10

International services

Todo Mexico Plus: $5 per month gets you unlimited calls to Mexico (including mobile numbers) and unlimited calls to all of Canada except the Northern Territories. You'll also get 8GB of data roaming while you are in Mexico and calls from Mexico to the US are free. Unlimited international texting is also included.

International Connect PLUS: Includes everything from Todo Mexico Plus and unlimited calls to landlines in over 70 countries and 200 minutes of calls to mobile numbers in 50 countries.

International Minute Packs allow you to purchase a bundle of minutes to use for calling select countries. See this list for pricing and availability.

International Text Messaging can be added at the cost of $0.10 per text (inbound and outbound).

Media and entertainment

Unlimited plans use mobile-optimized streaming for video, games, and music. Full speed media streaming is available for an extra $20 per month.

Boost TV packages are available starting at $10 per month. See the list of channels and packages here.

Tethering packages

The $50 unlimited plan (single line and family) offers tethering. If you use the $30 plan you can purchase tethering packages: $25 per month for 1.5GB of LTE data or $50 for 10GB of LTE data.

Cricket plans

Cricket Wireless offers several tiers of service for people with different LTE data needs. Like Boost, their unique position as a company owned by AT&T allows them to offer unlimited data on the highest tier plan.

Cricket also does LTE (and HSPA "4G") data a little differently than anyone else. Download speeds are capped at 8Mbps while using LTE and 4Mbps while using HSPA "4G". Once you reach your monthly limit of high-speed data, download speeds will be reduced to 128Kbps.

8Mbps speeds are more than sufficient for doing anything but streaming a 4K video without buffering. Most users won't be able to tell the data speeds are capped during normal use. But you still need to know.

1GB Basic (3GB LTE) Smart (8GB LTE) Unlimited (22GB LTE) Price (monthly) $30 $40 $50 $60 With Auto Pay $25 $35 $45 $55 Extras Basic, Smart and Unlimited plans eligible for Group Save Discount International texting, roaming in Canada and Mexico, eligible for Group Save Discount International texting, roaming in Canada and Mexico, eligible for Group Save Discount

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Family Plan

Cricket also does family plans a little differently. If you have two or more qualifying lines on the same account you are automatically enrolled in what Cricket calls Group Save. The qualifying plans are: $40 with 3GB, $50 with 8GB, $50 with 5GB (grandfathered), $60 with 12GB (grandfathered), and Unlimited.

The discount you'll receive depends on how many lines of service you have.

  • The primary line is always full price
  • The second line will get a $10 discount
  • The third line will get a $20 discount
  • The fourth line will get a $30 discount
  • The fifth line will get a $40 discount

These discounts are cumulative. If you have three eligible lines, you save a total of $30. If you have five eligible lines you save a total of $100 each month, which is the maximum discount.

Add-ons

Extra data:

  • 1GB/month: $10

International add-ons:

  • Cricket International: Unlimited calling to landline numbers in 36 countries for $5 per month.
  • Cricket International Extra: Unlimited calls to landline numbers in 36 countries, unlimited picture and video messages (MMS) to 36 countries, 1,000 minutes of mobile-to-mobile calling to 32 other countries. The list of approved countries and full details are here.

Tethering:

Users on the $50 8GB LTE data monthly plan can add the Mobile Hotspot feature. You will need a supported phone and it costs $10 per month to share your connection with up to 6 other devices. Extra LTE data can be added for $10 per GB.

Boost phones

Boost Mobile allows you to bring your own phone as long as it is on their list of approved models.

  • Samsung Galaxy S7 Special Edition
  • Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge Special Edition
  • Sprint and Verizon-branded iPhones 5 to 7

They also sell phones for use on their network and have popular models from Apple, LG, Samsung and more.

Note: While it's possible to enable Boost service on unsupported phones from Sprint, this is against the terms of service.

Cricket phones

You can bring your own phone to Cricket if it meets two requirements:

  • It is network compatible GSM/UMTS/HSPA+ with 3G bands 2 and 5 (1900/850) and LTE bands 4G LTE Bands 2, 4, 12, 17 (1900/1700abcde/700bc). If you're not into the technical terms and numbers you can check your phone here.

Cricket also offers devices from popular companies like Apple, HTC, and Samsung. You can shop for a new Cricket phone here.

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Which should I go with?

Both Boost and Cricket offer a selection of plans for casual users and power users alike. They also have the luxury of being able to offer unlimited LTE plans at very competitive prices that undercut their parent company by a large margin. Even the add-on services are similar. Which is best for you depends on three things:

  • Coverage. A great phone plan does you no good if you can't use it reliably. This is always a consideration and we think it should be your first consideration. Cricket has a much better network in parent AT&T than Boost on Sprint.
  • Uncompressed media streaming on Boost costs an extra $20 per month.
  • Cricket caps your LTE speeds at 8Mbps.

Do you need data with download speeds faster than 8Mbps? If so, Boost is probably better for you. If you want to stream media at full resolution without paying extra, Cricket is probably better for you. Both companies support the most popular devices and have nationwide coverage, but we can say from experience that Cricket is a better choice for most rural customers.

Both choices are good choices and we can recommend either, so pick the one that better fits your usage when it comes to data speeds and streaming caps.

Alternative carriers (MVNOS)

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1 week ago

Watch our video review of the billionaire's phone

3

For most of us, it can be tough to justify the cost of buying a brand new high-end smartphone outright, especially with so many great affordable options. But at the other end of the spectrum β€” far removed from your standard $700 Android flagship β€” there are the luxury phones, like the Vertu Constellation.

The Constellation starts at a whopping $6000 (which in the grand scheme of Vertu phones is decidedly entry-level), and for that money you'll get standard mid-2016 smartphone internals packed in extremely luxurious materials. But the price tag also gets your own Vertu concierge β€” as in an actual person β€” who's ready to assist you whenever you press the ruby button on the phone's outer frame. (And yes, being a Vertu, that's a real, actual ruby.) Whether you need to round up a Hollywood make-up artist for your music video, or just find a nice steakhouse in downtown Manhattan, Concierge can take care of things.

Check out our video review for a closer look at the Android phone for movie stars, oil barons and royalty.

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1 week ago

How to edit photos in Google Photos

9

Editing your photos is a breeze with Google Photos.

Google Photos offers your one stop shop for all things related to your phone's photos. You have storage for all of your new snapshots, an easy way to share, and plenty more. What you might not have realized is that there is a handy suite of editing tools built directly into the app. When you want to make sure those picnic photos look as awesome as possible before uploading them to Facebook or Instagram, these are the editing tools available to you.

How to use Filters

Anyone who has spent time uploading photos to Instagram is probably pretty familiar filters. These specific effects allow you to adjust the entire photo with a single tap, overlaying the photo to look a certain way. In Google Photos you have access to 13 different filters that you can use. There are a variety of different ones here including an auto filter, and several black and white photos. To apply a filter all that you need to do is scroll through the options and choose the filter that you like the most.

  1. Open Google Photos.
  2. Tap the photo that you want to edit.
  3. Tap the pencil icon at the bottom of your screen to open the editing tools.

  4. Swipe across the filters and choose the one you want to use.
  5. Tap Save, to save the filter on your photo.

How to use 'Auto' to make your photos look amazing with no work

The first 'filter' you can select in Google Photos is the amazing 'Auto' mode that tries to figure out the best combination of exposure, saturation and other settings. It doesn't always work, but pressing on 'Auto' can have a big positive effect on your photos. Try it out!

  1. Open Google Photos.
  2. Tap the photo that you want to edit.
  3. Tap the pencil icon at the bottom of your screen to open the editing tools.
  4. Tap the Auto button and see the results.

How to adjust light, color and pop

Being able to adjust the white balance of a photo can be key to saving a photo that is too bright, or too dim, in equal measure. With Google Photos you actually get access to not just sliders that will let you adjust the light, but also color, and then "pop".

With Light and color you have extra options past the initial slider bar. You'll be able to adjust exposure, contrast, whites, highlights, shadows, and vignette for light. With color you can adjust saturation, warmth, tints, skin tone, and deep blue. Each option is available for use with a slider bar to ensure that you have the most control over the final product of your photo edits.

  1. Open Google Photos.
  2. Tap the photo that you want to edit.
  3. Tap the pencil icon at the bottom of your screen to open the editing tools.

  4. Tap the icon of slider bars at the bottom middle of your screen.
  5. Use the slider bars to adjust the Light, Color or Pop of your photo.
  6. Tap the arrow next to Light or Color to open up the advanced options.

  7. Use the slider bars to make additional edits.
  8. Tap Save at the upper right corner of your screen to save your edits.

How to crop and rotate photos

There are times when you take a photo and you need to adjust it a bit before you're ready to upload. You may need to crop the photo to ensure there isn't anything unsuitable for social media lurking in the background, or need to rotate the photo so that it's lined up properly. You also have the option to change the scale of the photo.

  1. Open Google Photos.
  2. Tap the photo you want to edit.
  3. Tap the pencil icon at the bottom of your screen to open the editing tools.

  4. Tap the crop icon on the bottom right of the screen.
  5. To adjust the angle of your photo use the slider bar at the bottom of the screen.
  6. To rotate your photo tap on the rotate icon at the right of your screen.

  7. To change the aspect ratio, tap the icon on the left side of your screen, and then tap the ratio you desire.
  8. To zoom on your photo, pinch your fingers to zoom in.
  9. To crop your photo use your finger to drag the corners of the photo to where you want them.

  10. Tap Done to save your edits.

How to undo edits

There are times when you finish editing a photo and realize that something about it just looks off. Nobody wants to upload a photo that looks goofy thanks to over saturation, for example. That's why it's so easy to undo all of those crazy edits you just applied to your photo with just a tap of a finger.

Note: Google does not make permanent changes to any of your photos, so any edits can be undone for as long as the photo remains on Google Photos.

  1. Open Google Photos.
  2. Open the edited photo that you want to revert.
  3. Tap the overflow icon that looks like three vertical dots at the upper right of your screen.
  4. Tap undo edits to remove all edits and revert your photo to its original form.

Don't forget Assistant

One aspect of Google Photos that is often overlooked is the incredible Assistant, which uses your photos to create GIFs, collages, stylized photos and more. It even groups together photos from a particular day.

Understanding Assistant in Google Photos

Google Photos makes editing easy

Google Photos is an excellent all around app for the photos that you take with your phone. It's also got the editing tools that you need in order to make sure that your photos look as fantastic as possible before you upload them. Whether that means rotating and cropping a photo, adjust levels of light and color, or using filters to make your photos look otherworldly, Google Photos has you absolutely covered.

Have you used the editing tools within Google Photos? Is there an editing tool we failed to mention? Be sure to tell us all about it in the comments below!

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1 week ago

Samsung litters Britain with giant bezels to promote bezel-less smartphone

20
Bezels

Dem Bezels

Samsung has crafted a series of 7-meter by 3-meter Galaxy S8 bezel sculptures and scattered them across picturesque parts of Great Britain.

Ironically, the enormous bezels are intended to promote the GS8's Infinity Display β€” famed for having bezels which are not gigantic.

Bezels can be seen in St. Ives, Cornwall, London, Stonehenge and Bournemouth, among other places, framing locations which would probably look nicer were bezels not present.

Commenting on its bezels in a Korean blog post today, Samsung said "the bezel-less design, complete with Infinity Display, blends seamlessly with the British landscape."

The real Galaxy S8, the bezels of which will not be large enough to block local beauty spots, will go on sale in the UK on April 28, with pre-orders arriving from April 20.

Here are more pictures of Samsung's giant bezels:

Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+

Verizon AT&T T-Mobile Sprint

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1 week ago

Foldable 'Galaxy X' could debut this year β€” in prototype form

11
Samsung phones logo

'2,000-3,000' units will be produced in 2017, Korean press reports.

While foldable phones probably won't hit the mass market until 2019, Samsung may be prepared to unveil such a device in prototype form before the end of the year.

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1 week ago

Moto G5 Plus vs. Xiaomi Redmi Note 4: Clash of the titans

10

Near-identical hardware, vastly different software.

Motorola has enjoyed a lot of success in India following its resurgence, with the company now counting the subcontinent as its largest global market. A lot of that has to do with strong sales of the Moto G series. Motorola revealed earlier this year that it sold over 6 million Moto G devices in India since the series debuted in 2013, and last year's Moto G4 Plus certainly proved to be a hit with local customers. With the G5 Plus, Motorola is looking to continue that success.

Xiaomi is also gaining ground in India. The Redmi Note 3 turned out to be the standout phone in the budget segment last year, racking up over 3.6 million sales in under a year. The Redmi Note 4 is following in the same vein, with Xiaomi selling over 1 million units in just 45 days.

The Moto G5 Plus and Redmi Note 4 are going to be two of the most popular devices in this segment. If you're looking for a capable budget device that doesn't compromise on the basics, these two should be high on your list. But which one should you ultimately buy? Read on to find out.

Hardware

Motorola opted to go with a metal backplate with the Moto G5 Plus, a first in this series. The sides are still plastic, albeit with a metallic finish that makes them blend in seamlessly with the rest of the phone. The overall result is that the G5 Plus looks upmarket when seen next to its predecessors.

The metal back also adds some much-needed heft to the device, which at 155g weighs the same as last year's Moto G4 in spite of the smaller size. It is also thinner at 7.7mm (versus 9.8mm) while featuring the same 3000mAh battery as last year. Motorola made the design a priority on the G5 Plus, and it shows.

Xiaomi has been building metal phones for a few years now, and with the Redmi Note 4, it has refined its design aesthetic. The phone feels much more premium than its predecessor, and the black color option in particular stands out. It's similar to the Midnight Black model of the OnePlus 3T, offering a murdered-out look that seems to absorb all light.

Redmi Note 4 in black offers a matte finish that looks amazing.

There are subtle chrome accents for the antenna lines and the camera housing that serve to add a bit of flair to the design, and overall, the black variant of the Redmi Note 4 is one of the best-looking budget phones I've used. Phones in this segment don't get much better in terms of design.

As for color options on the G5 Plus, you're currently limited to either the Fine Gold or Lunar Grey variants. The Fine Gold variant has a gold front and back, which when placed next to the Redmi Note 4 looks gaudy. You're better off getting the grey option as it has a black faceplate.

Category Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 Motorola Moto G5 Plus Operating System MIUI 8 based on Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow Android 7.0 Nougat Display 5.5-inch 1080p (1920x1080) IPS LCD panel
401ppi pixel density 5.2-inch 1080p (1920x1080) IPS LCD panel
424ppi pixel density SoC Octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 625
Eight Cortex A53 cores at 2.0GHz
14nm Octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 625
Eight Cortex A53 cores at 2.0GHz
14nm GPU Adreno 506 Adreno 506 RAM 2GB/3GB/4GB RAM 3GB/4GB RAM Storage 32GB/64GB storage
microSD slot up to 256GB 16GB/32GB storage
microSD slot up to 256GB Rear camera 13MP
dual LED flash
PDAF 12MP
dual LED flash
PDAF Front shooter 5MP
1080p video recording 5MP
1080p video recording Connectivity Wi-Fi 802.11b/g/n, LTE, Bluetooth 4.1 (A2DP), GPS,
microUSB, 3.5mm audio jack Wi-Fi 802.11a/b/g/n, LTE, NFC, Bluetooth 4.2 (A2DP), GPS,
microUSB, 3.5mm audio jack Battery 4100mAh battery 3000mAh battery Fingerprint Rear fingerprint sensor Front fingerprint sensor Dimensions 151 x 76 x 8.5mm 150.2 x 74 x 7.7mm Weight 165g 155g Colors Silver, Gold, Black Lunar Grey, Fine Gold


Xiaomi has always led the way when it comes to sheer hardware prowess, but it doesn't have that advantage anymore as both the G5 Plus and Redmi Note 4 are running the Snapdragon 625 SoC. As they're both pushing 1080p displays, the performance is at par when it comes to day-to-day usage. You won't notice any slowdowns in normal usage, but you will see a certain amount of lag in visually-demanding games.

Although the G5 Plus has a smaller 5.2-inch display when compared to the 5.5-inch screen on the Redmi Note 4, both devices are just as tall and wide thanks to the generous bezels on the G5 Plus. The bezels are necessitated by the front fingerprint sensor, which thankfully is rounded and larger than what we've seen last year. It is also much more functional, as we'll see later.

While the G5 Plus isn't as compact as you'd imagine for a 5.2-inch phone, it is comfortable to hold and use one-handed thanks to the rounded corners and arched back. The Redmi Note 4 has sloping edges that curve inward, allowing for one-handed usage. That said, the black color option is a magnet for smudges, and you'll have to clean it several times a day to make it look pristine. Thankfully, there aren't any such issues on the G5 Plus.

The G5 Plus has the same chipset as the Redmi Note 4, but it costs more.

However, like last year's G4 and G4 Plus, the G5 Plus is missing key sensors like a magnetometer. While this doesn't cause an issue when using Google Maps, the Lenovo forums are full of complaints from customers dissatisfied with how the device works with other navigation solutions, like Here. Considering how affordable the sensor is, continuing to omit it is a strange move by Motorola.

The Redmi Note 4 has no such limitations on the hardware front. Xiaomi β€” more than any other manufacturer β€” is cognizant of customer feedback, and the Redmi Note 4 has a full complement of sensors, including an IR sensor that lets you control a myriad of TVs and set-top boxes.

As we're on the subject of internal hardware, it's worth pointing out that although both phones are powered by the same chipset, they're offered in varying memory and storage configurations and price points. The Redmi Note 4 starts off with 2GB of RAM and 32GB storage for just β‚Ή9,999, whereas the variant with 3GB of RAM and 32GB storage retails for β‚Ή10,999. The best option is the one with 4GB of RAM and 64GB storage, which costs β‚Ή12,999.

The Moto G5 Plus is available in two configurations: a base variant with 3GB of RAM and measly 16GB internal storage for β‚Ή14,999. The model with 4GB of RAM and 32GB storage costs β‚Ή16,999, a full β‚Ή4,000 more than the Redmi Note 4 while offering half the amount of internal storage. Motorola is counting on two factors to make up for the added cost: a 12MP camera with an f/1.7 lens and Dual Pixel autofocus, and class-leasing software.

Software

Motorola has led the way for clean and unencumbered software, and that thankfully hasn't changed under Lenovo's stewardship. If you're looking for an uncluttered user interface that sticks to Google's guidelines for Material Design, you're not going to get anything better than what's on the Moto G5 Plus, at least in this segment.

Although Motorola hasn't tweaked the UI itself, it offers several useful features through Moto Actions. You can easily launch the camera with a double twist gesture, and toggle the flashlight with a chop motion. Then there's one-handed mode, which lets you shrink the screen down for easier one-handed usage. A particularly interesting addition with the Moto G5 Plus is One Button Nav, which relies on the fingerprint sensor as an all-in-one replacement for the standard navigation keys.

The feature allows you to use gestures as the primary form of interaction. A single tap on the sensor takes you to the home screen, a right-to-left swipe corresponds to the same action as the back button, and a left-to-right swipe serves up the multitasking pane. Lenovo has debuted the feature in a few phones in India, but this is the first time the company has rolled it out in a Motorola phone.

If you want an uncluttered software experience, get the G5 Plus.

As is the case with the rest of the software, Motorola didn't go overboard with Moto Actions, instead opting to give customers a few features that augment the overall experience.

As for the Redmi Note 4, MIUI 8 is a known quantity at this stage. The user interface is loaded with customizations, and if you're getting started for the first time, there's a high learning curve. But once you get used to it, you'll love the sheer number of features on offer. From the built-in video editor to Dual Apps β€” which lets you run two instances of the same app simultaneously β€” and several features aimed at combating call and text message spam, there's a lot to explore in MIUI 8.

The G5 Plus comes with Android 7.0 Nougat out of the box, and while Motorola has done a great job of rolling out platform updates quickly (at least in India), the company isn't doing the same for monthly security patches. In mid-April, the G5 Plus is on the January 1, 2017 security patch.

Meanwhile, the Redmi Note 4 is still on Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow, and while Xiaomi is offering a beta Nougat build, we're still a long way away from seeing a stable release. Security updates are also an issue, as the device is still on the December 1, 2016 patch.

Camera

The Redmi Note 4 comes with a significantly better camera than its predecessor, and the same holds true for the Moto G5 Plus as well. The end result is that you're looking at phones that offer two of the best cameras in this segment. The G5 Plus pulls ahead thanks to its f/1.7 lens and 1.4-micron pixels β€” the same hardware as the Galaxy S7 β€” and while the phone doesn't come close to the S7 in most lighting conditions, it sets the standard for the budget segment.

The G5 Plus doesn't handle low-light conditions as well as it should considering its imaging sensor, but in most other shooting conditions you'll get a great image on the first attempt.

Moto G5 Plus on the left, Redmi Note 4 on the right.

The Redmi Note 4 has a great camera, but it is overshadowed by the one in the G5 Plus. That said, Xiaomi offers more shooting modes and live filters, whereas Motorola focuses on ease of use. You get a manual mode on both phones, along with tools to edit and retouch images.

Battery

The Moto G5 Plus has a 3000mAh battery that manages to last all day. However, it doesn't match up to the massive 4100mAh battery on the Redmi Note 4. Aside from phones like Gionee's Marathon series β€” which usually have a battery the size of an external power bank β€” there isn't a phone that comes close to the Redmi Note 4 in terms of battery life.

The 14nm Snapdragon 625 combined with the 4100mAh battery and MIUI's optimization make the Redmi Note 4 a battery life champion. You'll easily get a day's worth of usage from the battery even with heavy usage, and more often than not, you'll be able to eke out two full days from a full charge.

If you do need to top up, the G5 Plus has faster charging speeds thanks to Motorola's TurboPower charging tech. The Redmi Note 4 is still limited to 5V/2A, and takes just over two hours to fully charge.

Which should you buy? Your call

The Redmi Note 4 wins out when it comes to battery life and overall design, but the G5 Plus takes the lead in imaging and software. If you value battery life above all and aren't deterred by the learning curve of MIUI 8, then the Redmi Note 4 is a great phone to get, particularly considering it costs β‚Ή4,000 less than the G5 Plus and offers 64GB storage, double that of Motorola's offering. The downside is that you'll have to wait for the weekly sale to get your hands on one.

See at Flipkart

However, if you're looking for a phone that has a stellar camera, is easy to use and comes with the promise of quick updates, then the G5 Plus is a better choice. The β‚Ή16,999 price tag will undoubtedly cause most potential buyers to rethink their decision, but the overall merits of the phone justify the increased cost.

See at Flipkart

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1 week ago

One of the Galaxy S8's most important features won't be available at launch

83

Bixby Voice is only going to be launched in the spring.

Samsung has come out ahead of the Galaxy S8 launch to say that Bixby Voice, one of the cornerstone features of the new phone's AI assistant, won't be available until sometime this spring.

With its intelligent interface and contextual awareness, Bixby will make your phone more helpful by assisting in completing tasks, telling you what you're looking at, learning your routine and remembering what you need to do. Key features of Bixby, including Vision, Home and Reminder, will be available with the global launch of the Samsung Galaxy S8 on April 21. Bixby Voice will be available in the U.S. on the Galaxy S8 later this spring.

In a statement, the company says while some Bixby features, including the clever Vision contextual camera helper, the Home interface embedded in the launcher, and Reminder, a place to store notes and to-dos, will be available when the phone goes on sale April 21, the ability to navigate the phone's UI and perform actions using voice won't come until "later this spring."

Samsung is making it clear Bixby isn't just a Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa or Apple Siri competitor, but "a conceptually new philosophy to the problem [of virtual interaction]," according to a blog post written by the company last month. "It is the machine that needs to learn and adapt to us." This is a very hard thing to do, and is likely why Samsung wants to make sure the experience is great for everyone.

In her briefing with Samsung last month prior to the phone's announcement, Florence Ion described Bixby Voice as "your own 'push to talk' for artificial intelligence."

It's not a search engine like Google Assistant; it is an assistant, and it can navigate around your smartphone the way that you normally would with your own fingertips. Bixby will support almost every task you ask it to do, like cropping a photo, applying a filter, or sharing it with your favorite social network. Eventually, you'll be able to talk Bixby through your process without looking at the screen at all.

Bixby is also supposed to complete tasks, even if you don't shout out the entire command. The idea is that as it's learning what you do with your device, it's also learning how to stay three steps ahead in anticipating what's next. And if it doesn't understand everything that you asked, it can get you most of the way there instead of failing and asking you to try again.

Samsung isn't saying what is holding up the release of Bixby Voice, which will only be available in the U.S. and Korea when it launches, but we expect it is being done with ample weight on the effects of this announcement.

Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+

Verizon AT&T T-Mobile Sprint

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

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