Recent Articles | Android Central

Galaxy Note 7 recall info | Shop Chromebooks: Asus Flip | Acer 14 | Dell 13

Headlines

2 weeks ago

How to choose the right Chromebook

38

Knowing what to look for before you buy will make you happier and can save you money — which also makes you happier.

Whether you're buying your first Chromebook or upgrading from an older model, you need to know what to look for before you part with your cash. Really, most purchases are this way — especially electronics of any sort. We can help you figure out which Chromebook features are right for you so you can be an informed buyer.

If you're not yet sure that Chrome OS will work for you, go cheap.

Before you begin, you should set your budget. Thankfully, a fully capable and future ready (if not future proof) model can be had for well under $300 if you don't want to go for the top-shelf. And realistically, you don't. Chrome OS runs really well on hardware that might not have enough "oomph" for another operating system. In fact, there's a good chance your phone will have more cores, be clocked higher and have more memory than a Chromebook that can do everything it's intended to do. That's not to say you won't benefit from having a more premium model with better specs, but it's certainly not necessary.

And that makes the first thing on our buyer's checklist easy: if you're not yet sure that Chrome OS will work for you, go cheap.

The top selling Chromebook on Amazon (with a 4.5-star rating, too!) is the Acer Chromebook CB-3. It sells new for $149.99 (as of September 2016). And while it's not the nicest laptop you'll ever see, it has a great IPS screen and runs the very latest version of Chrome OS. And runs it pretty well. You will see things get bogged down a little if you're trying to do too much at one time, but a browser session with a handful of tabs open or a few Chrome apps or documents open won't be a problem at all. It's a perfect way to see how Chrome will handle doing the things you want it to do.

Amazon is also a great place to look for refurbished models that still carry a full warranty. I have seen Chromebooks for as little as $99 for Amazon Prime accounts, and any of them would be a good way to try a taste of Chrome OS so you know if you're ready to spend a little more.

See at Amazon

If you're already sure you want a little better hardware or are looking forward to Android apps, you still don't have to spend a lot of money. But you do need to know what to look for.

Android apps will change how we use a Chromebook.

Android apps are going to change how we use a Chromebook. Adding almost 2,000,000 apps to one of the fastest and safest operating systems available will also make it one of the most capable for many of us. Don't expect to run specialty programs like Adobe Photoshop or a CAD program, but for things like light video editing or 3-D drawing, you'll find a handful of apps that can handle the task. Chromebooks weren't designed for folks who need to use a high-end desktop or laptop. But most of us don't need a high-end desktop or laptop and will be served well with a Chromebook. If Android apps are going to be important to you, here are a few things you need to look for.

  • Make sure it's on the list. You'll find a list of Chromebooks that will be able to run apps from Google Play when it's launched later in 2016. Any existing model will be listed if it's going to support them. For newly-announced models, ask someone about Android apps before you buy. You can ask us — if we don't know, we'll find out.
  • More storage is better. This goes without saying, but we are saying it anyway. Chromebooks were designed as a cloud-centric device. Because of this, many don't come with a lot of storage space. Android apps can change how much you'll need. Consider some games for Android (which will play just fine on your Chromebook) are up to 2GB or more in size, and you'll see why. You can store a lot of data or documents or photos on the SD card, but apps will go on the actual device storage. Ideally, you'll want 32GB or more, but 16 can work if you're not interested in any games.
  • Know how you plan to use it. Some of us want a convertible model that we can use like a tablet. Others want a traditional clamshell-style. Spending a little more to get something you'll find more useful is worth it. Screen size comes into play here, too. If you're on the go a lot, you might want an 11-inch model. Or the 14-incher would be better for your desk. Think about how you'll be using your Chromebook before you buy one.
  • Get a model with a touch screen. Using a touch screen for "normal" computing kinda sucks. Editing something in Google Docs or writing a long email just isn't designed for touch input no matter which platform. That's why the people who make tablets also make keyboard covers. But that changes when you add in apps originally designed fro a phone. They are built for a great experience when poking and swiping with your finger, and that translates well from a 5-inch screen to a 13-inch screen. While you can use the trackpad for most any of it, it's just not as good.
  • How much memory do you need? That's determined by what you plan to do. A model with 2GB will be enough to have a few tabs open in the browser as well as an app or two running, but if you're the power-user type you'll want to go with 4GB. The video experience benefits from more memory, too. A 1080p video on YouTube or Google Play Movies can get a little stuttery with 2GB, but 720p runs great.
  • Buy one with the right CPU. For most of us, a Chromebook with an Intel Core i3 or Core i5 CPU is absolute overkill. They are also a good bit higher priced. Unless you plan to really tax the system or dual-boot with Linux, you don't need one. A late-model Intel Celeron (if you're not sure based on the spec sheet, just ask) or ARM CPU is more than enough for most of us.
  • How premium do you want to go? Every other item on this list can be had in a sub-300 dollar Chromebook. You can also spend upwards of $600 for one that works. The $300 model will handle most anything you throw at it, but the $600 model just feels better. I won't toss a silly car analogy in here, but only you know how much a nicer look and feel is worth. Of course, more expensive models tend to have nicer displays and smoother trackpads, too.

You'll have to decide which Chromebook is best for you, but we can toss a couple recommendations out. I've been using an ASUS Chromebook Flip for a while now (I'm writing this blog post with one) and for anyone who wants a tablet-like experience, it's marvelous. I have to try hard to get it to struggle and the screen, trackpad and keyboard are more than acceptable. I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it to anyone looking for a smaller (11-inch) model.

See at Amazon

If you're ready to go all-in with Chrome and don't mind spending a little more, The Dell Chromebook 13 is what I consider the best Chromebook available today. It's not the most expensive model — that award goes to the HP Chromebook 13 which lacks a touch screen — but it's not exactly cheap either. For someone using a Chromebook for business or anyone who just wants the best (it's OK to treat yourself once in a while), the Dell 13 is the one to buy.

See at Dell

Of course, new Chromebooks are coming out all the time and something coming up may be even better. You can keep up to date on our Best Chromebooks page, and keep an eye out for our reviews. And as always, the forums are a great place to learn more about anything Chrome.

Chromebooks

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;} /*-->*/ /*-->*/ /*-->*/

Read more and comment

 
2 weeks ago

Best leather cases for Note 7

28
Best leather cases for Note 7

What's the best leather case for Galaxy Note 7? We've got a few favorites that are sure to dazzle!

The Galaxy Note 7 is sophisticated, so its case should be nothing less. Leather whispers sophistication in a dulcet tone that compliments your Note 7 elegantly. Here are the best leather cases you can find for the Galaxy Note 7.

Spigen Wallet S

Spigen Wallet S

Spigen makes some the best phone cases around and its Wallet S faux-leather case is perfect for anyone who wants a leather case for their Note 7, and especially perfect for the animal lover in all of us.

The shiny black finish is sophisticated and rather business-like but has this sexy quality that lets you know it's all pleasure.

In typical wallet case fashion, there're three slots for cards and a cash pocket inside, and the reversible magnetic latch is handy for keeping your case both closed and open. The cover folds back into a stand for hands-free usage, and the PU leather is flexible and easy to work with.

It may seem odd to start a leather case roundup with one that's made of pleather, but it feels the same (if not better) and happens to be the best of the best.

See at Amazon

Tauri wallet flip cover

Tauri

Tauri's wallet case for the Note 7 is the classic wallet case you'd expect: it has room for three cards, a bit of cash, and the front cover closes to enrobe your phone in luscious, genuine leather, secured by a magnetic clasp.

Its best feature, of course, is its ability to fold back into a stand so that you can watch YouTube and Netflix and play games hands-free. The leather is soft to the touch and feels great in your hand - it's not slippery.

Your Note 7 sits in a silicone shell inside, with a cutout at the back so you can take photos and video, and the charging port is left open so that you never have to take the case off.

See at Amazon

IstanbulLeatherShop

IstanbulLeatherShop

Etsy is an awesome place to find quality leather cases for just about any phone and the IstanbulLeatherShop always delivers. This handmade, genuine leather wallet case is gorgeous and understated, with a wan finish that gives it a modern look.

It has an inner shell that grips your Note 7, while keeping ports and buttons open, and the front cover secures tightly with a magnetic closure. Or, you can opt for "Book Style" and go without the closure.

The cover folds back into a handy stand for hands-free viewing, and the suede microfiber lining won't scratch up your screen.

Handmade means that every wallet case is unique, so if you want a case just for you, Etsy and the IstanbulLeatherShop is just the place.

See at Etsy

Ringke Flex S

Ringke Flex S

If you want a leather case but still worry about leather's durability, then why not go for a case that blends leather in with the protective qualities you already look for?

The Flex S series by Ringke is a really cool blend of flexible TPU and a faux-leather on the back that stylish, sophisticated, and very effective in the event of a drop or bump.

The softer TPU bumper is perfect for shock absorption and protecting your Note 7 from scratches and the pleather back gives it a cool, almost rugged look, like if Indiana Jones had a modern phone case, it'd be this one.

Ringke makes great-fitting cases all around, and starting at $13, you really can't go wrong.

You have your choice of Deep Blue, Sleek Gray, or Vintage Brown.

See at Amazon

Caseology Envoy

Caseology Envoy

I've only recently come to realize that Caseology makes some of the coolest cases around. Every time I research a roundup like this, its products just get better and better, and the Envoy is no different.

The Envoy is a dual-layer affair, with a flexible TPU shell that has a pleather back and a polycarbonate frame that sits around the whole thing to secure it all in place.

That's awesome on three fronts: 1. Your Note 7 is protected from drops and scratches, thanks to the rubbery TPU. 2. That protection is enhanced by the hard polycarbonate frame that helps disperse impact around the TPU. 3. The faux-leather back looks really cool and if you pick the right color, it'll have "you" written all over it!

You have your choice of beige, Cherry Oak, green, and navy blue leather, all with gold polycarbonate frames.

See at Amazon

Benittorre leather phone cover

Benittorre

Benittorre's option isn't so much a case as it is a pouch, but it's a freakin' sweet pouch, made of genuine leather. Some folks might be worried about a pouch and easy access to their Note 7, but this one features a pull ribbon that makes extraction a breeze.

The hand-stitching is expertly done and every cover is unique, meaning you'll have a one-of-a-kind case to show off that'll have everyone asking about it.

One of the most consumer-friendly options Benittorre offers is the choice to have its logo on your cover or not. If that doesn't say confidence in branding, then I don't know what does. They know you'll tell your friends about it.

There's also a slot on the front of the pouch where you can comfortably store a couple cards or your ID.

If you don't like this version, Benittorre has a few to choose from, including a camel-colored option and one without the front pocket.

See at Etsy

Samsung leather cover

Samsung Leather Cover

What would a roundup be without the phone manufacturer's version of the case in question? Samsung's leather cover is a gorgeous black case that fits onto the back of your Note 7, leaving the buttons, ports, and S Pen all open to easy access,

The matte-finished, black leather is understated elegance in its truest form and it'll had a bit of mystery and intrigue to the already enticing Note 7.

It doesn't seem to be available yet (except for a rather suspect Amazon listing), so keep your eyes peeled!

See at Samsung


Leather, anyone?

Are you using a sexy leather case with your Note 7 that you think deserves a mention? Sound off in the comments below!


Samsung Galaxy Note 7

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;} /*-->*/ /*-->*/ /*-->*/

Read more and comment

 
2 weeks ago

Save 30% or more on these awesome Anker accessories today!

3

Anker is running a one-day sale at Amazon and is offering at least 30% off its great accessories. Whether you need some new cables, an external battery or even a computer mouse, you won't want to miss out on this sale! Anker makes some great accessories for all types of smartphones and other electronics, so if you are looking to save some money and grab some fantastic accessories, today is your chance.

Read more and comment

 
2 weeks ago

Android Central 304: IFA 2016 crossover special!

5

Audio-only stream below

Lots to unpack in this crossover episode with Windows Central.

Read more and comment

 
3 weeks ago

Mobile Nations Weekly: Recalls, launches, and invites

4

A week of tech in Berlin, Apple sets the date for the iPhone 7 reveal, and Samsung's Note is maybe a little too hot.

The last time a smartphone company was hit with news this damaging about a retail product was Apple's iPhone 4 "Antennagate", and at least that didn't include literally exploding phones. That's the position that Samsung is in with the Galaxy Note 7, which has been recalled globally after several reports of fires and explosions traced back to faulty battery cells.

The Note 7 recall marred an otherwise successful IFA show for Samsung, which saw the launch of the new and bigger Gear S3 smartwatch, along with ASUS getting into the round Android Wear game with the ZenWatch 3. Sony also brought their a-game with the new flagship Sony XZ and Huawei impressed with the new Nova mid-range line.

But the real star of IFA was the category-bridging Lenovo Yoga Book, a convertible Android or Windows 10 laptop that sports a full touch panel base instead of a keyboard and trackpad. It's crazy in all the right ways, and awesome enough that it made both the Android Central Best of IFA 2016 and Windows Central Best of IFA 2016 lists.

Acer also came to impress, busting out the ludicrously thin Swift 7 ultrabook and the ludicrously powerful (and enormous) Predator 21X gaming 'laptop'.

And while IFA might have marked the prior week, it's Apple that's going to define the next. An Apple event on Wednesday will see the revealing of the iPhone 7, Apple Watch 2, and more from Cupertino — timing that makes Samsung's recall even more of a publicity predicament.

Read more and comment

 
3 weeks ago

From the (Berlin) Editor's Desk: Samsung's hot news at IFA

50
From the Editor's Desk

Sometimes the biggest news from a show doesn't come from the show at all.

This past week myself and Alex Dobie represented AC over at the IFA show in Berlin, joined by Derek Kessler and Mark Guim from Windows Central. Oh, and that Phil guy. He was here. It was my first time in Berlin, and the city is unlike any other I've visited — I definitely want to come back.

Read more and comment

 
3 weeks ago

The best games for your Samsung Gear VR

Games you shouldn't miss on Samsung Gear VR.

There are tons of great games and experiences available on Samsung Gear VR. Finding a great game within the Oculus store can be a pain though, and that's why we're here for you. We've collected the best of the best, and given you the details on each one. This means you won't have to go hunting for a great game, because you'll already have the details.

Read More on VR Heads!

Read more and comment

 
3 weeks ago

Android Central's Top Picks from IFA 2016!

27
Android Central's Top Picks from IFA 2016!

The best of the best from Berlin.

There's a lot of tech here at IFA in Berlin, as is often the case. OK, that's one hell of an understatement. There's a LOT of tech here at IFA. Some from the usual players. A whole lot from folks we've, frankly, never heard of.

And that's maybe the hardest part of these jaunts. Not the jet lag. Not the time away from home. No, it's sorting through all the awesomeness that gets crammed into the Messe Berlin and put on display for the world to see.

But we've managed to narrow it down a bit. Here, now, are Android Central's Top Picks from IFA 2016.

Read more and comment

 
3 weeks ago

Modular phones really never stood a chance

78

The more complicated a plan is, the more likely it is to fail.

Project Ara is dead.

Just four months after Google announced they were going to work on a developer model for the end of this year and a consumer model sometime in 2017, the program was laid to rest. And really, is anyone surprised? The deck was stacked against them since the idea was born.

The idea itself is great. Forget the folks who say they will carry around different cameras or different speakers or different anything because those will end up just being one more thing left on a dresser after a few weeks. But Google's example of an insulin monitor that can be plugged in when you need to test your blood is awesome, and I'm sure smart people had ideas of other ways it could actually be useful. That's how some great ideas are born — think big and sort the details out later. But back to reality for a bit.

Great ideas and practicality seldom mix.

Phones and other small electronic things that use embedded hardware are pretty specific when it comes to the software that powers it. Writing the software and optimizing the code for a very specific set of components is mandatory. You have limited storage and limited power so you're forced to use both very efficiently. Writing the software so that it can support more than one part for a single function would make that very difficult. It could be done, and Google may very well have a solid plan to make it work. Google isn't the only company involved, though.

Android might be open source software, but the open portions can't be used to write a working operating system. The people who make things like the processor or the camera or the memory controller will have some very model-specific software need to make them work. Without these files, your phone just isn't going to work. A modular phone would not only need software support from Google but from the companies who make each individual part, too. And then those companies will need to be convinced to allow Google to redistribute that software as a downloadable package. And we already have seen how a single company can bring things to a screeching halt when it doesn't like that idea, as Qualcomm held back needed software for the Nexus 7 2013 Lollipop update. Things can get a little ugly. Good people can quit their job in frustration.

Software support comes from many different companies.

Now multiply that situation by the number of companies who build the parts that fit into one of the six slots on the Ara chassis. Suddenly, unoptimized software that takes a lot of storage space isn't such a big issue.

We aren't sure why the project was scrapped, and I'm not saying this was the reason. But this would be a pretty big stumbling block and I don't think even Google could work around it. Other folks in the "industry" that I've talked to feel similar, and we even heard some doubt about the project's future at Google I/O 2016 as the news of Project Ara's future was being announced.

Other companies are still going to work on a modular phone. One day someone will succeed and make one we can buy.

Read more and comment

 
3 weeks ago

How to return your recalled Galaxy Note 7 to Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile or Sprint

106
Samsung Galaxy Note 7

Samsung has initiated a recall for the Note 7, but all you care about is your interaction with your carrier.

Since a majority of us in the U.S. still buy our phones from the big four carriers, we don't really care about the process of returning our still-new recalled Galaxy Note 7 elsewhere — we want to know how to get it done here. Well, it turns out that one of the benefits of buying your phone from a carrier is that it handles a bit of the responsibility. In this case, that means you get to turn over your recalled Note 7 to the carrier you bought from, and it in turn figures out how to get it back to Samsung.

Read more and comment

 
3 weeks ago

Play it safe and swap your Note 7 because of the recall

226

Unless you think you know better than the people who built your Note 7, not getting it replaced is stupid.

I'm seeing a disturbing trend in forums and social media — people are saying they aren't going to return their recalled Note 7 and get a new one. Don't be that person.

Some of the reasons I'm seeing for not returning a Note 7 for a new one do make sense on some level. Nobody wants to take the time to set up a new phone, or people are worried that the replacement might not be as "perfect" as the one they are using now. I feel ya. I hate setting up phones and I know getting the perfect piece from a giant mass-produced manufacturing pile can be tricky sometimes. But other things I'm reading have me a little concerned.

Samsung Galaxy Note 7 recall: Everything you need to know

"Only (insert you own made-up number here) phones have been found defective" or "I only use a (put the name of your favorite brand here) charger and everyone knows they are safe" and other assorted nonsense not only defies logic but shows how far people will reach to escape the obvious: You need to swap your phone under the recall.

Yes, only a small percentage of the phones that were boxed up and sent to stores or homes have burst. Odds say yours isn't one of them. Odds also say that sex without birth control won't necessarily lead to pregnancy, too. Both cases here, as well as countless others, like not wearing a seatbelt because I never had an accident or nobody needs to know Calculus are equally wrong. Some people do need to know Calculus, and some Note 7s are going to explode in a ball of dragon fire.

The same smart people who designed your Note 7 are now advising you to return it for replacement.

There are two things about this situation we know to be true. The only people who know all the details aren't telling them to us, and that they never will. Put all the speculation and imaginary numbers away for a moment and consider that every Note 7 not made for China uses the same battery. Samsung is concerned enough to recall all of them without being forced to do so by any entity with the power to force companies to do things. If you toss out everything else and consider these two simple things, you'll realize that you really should return your Note 7 and get a new one.

You have an opportunity to be 100% certain that you have a phone without the issue causing the batteries to blow up. The same smart people who designed the Note 7 are advising you to do just that. Samsung has done an excellent job working with all the businesses around the world selling the Note 7 to make it as painless as possible. Not taking advantage of that is, frankly, pretty damn stupid.

Samsung Galaxy Note 7

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;} /*-->*/ /*-->*/ /*-->*/

Read more and comment

 
3 weeks ago

Android and chill: Samsung's nightmare moment

106

How you handle a product safety issue is important. Samsung handled it right.

Samsung just faced the worst nightmare any type of product design team could have on Friday. They realized that the Note 7 had some sort of flaw, and one that could hurt people, so they're pulling it off the shelves.

I'm not going to try and hash out all the different theories about why or how many or anything like that. We can either accept what Samsung's PR tells us and move along or realize that we'll never know the whole story and move along anyway. Instead, I'm going to talk about reactions.

Read more and comment

 
3 weeks ago

Best phone to buy if you're returning a Galaxy Note 7

123

What should I get if I'm returning a Galaxy Note 7?

It's a tough question, but one a lot of people are asking themselves right now. Samsung's Galaxy Note 7 recall is coupled with some particularly violent photos of phones in various stages of burning and melting, which is the last thing you want with a brand new version of that phone in your pocket. Samsung has identified 35 cases of phone explosion across the over a million that have been sold so far, but most folks who bought a Note 7 are still well within their return window. If you decide to return your Note 7 instead of waiting for an recall exchange from Samsung, here's a few suggestions for what your next phone should be!

Galaxy S7 edge

If you like the Galaxy experience, and you are ok with a Note 7-sized phone without the pen, consider the Galaxy S7 edge. This phone offers a lot of the same fantastic features found in the Galaxy Note 7, will cost you slightly less, and is available everywhere the Note 7 is sold. Not only have no Galaxy S7 edge versions exploded, but it's the next best thing if you're looking for one of the best smartphone experiences available to you today.

See at AT&T See at Sprint See at T-Mobile See at Verizon

HTC 10

For those returning a Galaxy Note 7 with no interest in another Samsung phone, consider the HTC 10. This phone offers an aluminum unibody design with killer speakers and a camera that easily competes with the Note 7 in most situations. As HTC's top phone this year, it offers the same level of performance as the Galaxy Note 7, and comes in several striking colors. There's a lot to like here, especially if you're into a great music and gaming experience on your phone.

See at Amazon See at Sprint See at Verizon

OnePlus 3

Deciding to return a big expensive phone like the Note 7 may have you rethinking how much you're willing to spend on a smartphone in the first place. If that's the case, you might want to take a look at OnePlus. This is a company that has made quite a name for itself in the smartphone world by offering phones that are dangerously close to being considered some of the best experiences available today for half the cost. The OnePlus 3 is a fantastic example of this, and if well worth considering if you're not sure what to grab next.

See at OnePlus

Grab something cheap and wait

There's always something new and exciting right around the corner, but you've got to have a phone now. It could be the answer is to wait for something like Google's Pixel phones to be officially released, or maybe you want to wait for some holiday sales to kick in and save yourself a little money in the process.

Whatever the reason, you may decide the best option is grabbing a cheap phone and waiting for something better to come along. If that's where you are, we've got a great list of cheap phones to tide you over until the next great phone arrives!

Show me the cheap phones!

Samsung Galaxy Note 7

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;} /*-->*/ /*-->*/ /*-->*/

Read more and comment

 
3 weeks ago

Best cheap phone to buy while you wait for a Note 7 replacement

44

What is the best cheap phone to hold me over until the Note 7 replacements come in?

You're looking at your Galaxy Note 7 wondering how long it will take for Samsung and your carrier to get new stock in after the recall takes place. In the meantime, you may be without a phone — or at least a phone you want to use — for a while. In that case, why not buy a cheap(ish) Android phone to tide you over? One that, when you get your beloved Note 7 back you'd be happy to give to a family member or friend.

Read more and comment

 
3 weeks ago

Rugged phone ratings: Everything you need to know

10

Ever wonder exactly what the IP rating on your phone means? This reference has your answers.

IP ratings are a way to describe the ingress protection of your phone. IP itself stands for International Protection Marking, but you might see it called ingress protection because it fits and describes exactly what it is. Phones like the Galaxy Note 7 are rated with an IP specification (IP68) to tell you how resistant to dust and water they are.

IP ratings are broken into two numbers. The first number is the level of protection against solid objects — things like fingers, tools, wires, and dust. The second number is the liquid protection rating and is tested using water (no water specifications for things like salinity or TDS are referenced) and not other liquids unless specifically mentioned.

Because there are so many different combinations in use, a set of charts will help explain it all.

Solid particle protection

Solid IP number How effective is it? IP number How effective is it? 0 Not protected at all against any size particle. 1 Particles larger than 50 mm can not enter in enough quantity to affect the normal operation. 2 Particles larger than 12.5 mm
This is the minimum rating to protect against putting your finger(s) into a thing. 3 Particles larger than 2.5 mm can not enter in enough quantity to affect the normal operation. 4 Particles larger than 1 mm can not enter in enough quantity to affect the normal operation. 5 Dust Protected
Dust must not enter in enough quantity to affect the normal operation. 6 Dust Tight
Dust can't enter, even in a vacuum.

The type of dust used for the last two tests could matter and no specifications or particle sizes are given like they are in the first five tests. If you're working with something like a dry stone saw that creates really fine particles, you might want to assume you're not protected. For everyday use, though, dust is dust.

Liquid ingress protection

Liquid IP number How effective is it? IP number How effective is it? 0 Not protected at all. 1 Protected against dripping water. 2 Protected against dripping water when tilted up to a 15-degree angle from its normal position. 3 Protected against spraying water when tilted up to a 60-degree angle from its normal position. 4 Protected against splashing water at any angle. 5 Protected against water sprayed from a 6.3 mm nozzle at 12.5 Liters/minute and 30 kPa (pressure) from three meters away for three minutes. 6 Protected against water sprayed from a 12.5 mm nozzle at 100 Liters/minute and 100 kPa (pressure) from three meters away for three minutes. 6K Protected against water sprayed from a 6.3 mm nozzle at 75 Liters/minute and 1,000 kPa (pressure) from three meters away for three minutes. 7 Protected against immersion in water up to one meter at normal pressure for 30 minutes. 8 Protected against immersion in water one meter or deeper at specifications detailed by the manufacturer. 9K Protection against water sprayed from high-flow and high-pressure jets at high-temperature
Water volume of 14 to 16 Liters/minute
Water pressure of 80 to 100 bar
Water temperature of 80-degrees Celsius
Distance of 0.10 to 0.15 meters

Ratings of 5, 6, 6K and 9K are pretty extreme protection and something we'll never see on a phone or watch or tablet. I'm pretty sure 6K testing would damage your skin, and 80-degree Celsius liquids are a bit above the comfort level of most of us. For phones and other electronics, the 7 and 8 ratings are more important.

In addition, the IP Code has letter designations for additional protection. Like any K rating, you'll never see these on a cell phone.

Additional protection designation

Letter code What it means Letter code What it means f Oil resistant H High voltage protection M Motion during any testing S No motion during any testing W Weather resistant

Note that these additional ratings aren't mandatory. Their absence doesn't mean your phone (or any other IP rated product) will not survive exposure. It just says that nobody is certifying it.

Most importantly, having an IP rating doesn't mean you can do anything you like with your phone. Phones aren't tested individually and they are mass produced. Your phone might fail if you take it into the pool, even if rated for water resistance. Having the IP rating does mean that the people who made it should be willing to stand behind it for any warranty issues.

We wouldn't use an IP certification as the only reason to buy a phone, but having it certainly can be an added bonus!

Read more and comment

 
Show More Headlines

Pages