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2 days ago

Galaxy S8 vs. Galaxy S7: Which is best for VR?

7

Getting the best VR experience out of your phone is absolutely a luxury, but not without actual value.

No one is going out and choosing a phone to use all day every day because it offers a good VR experience. That is never going to be the feature that pushes someone to make a purchase. That doesn't mean it's not a point on the sheet when considering which phone to get, and this year there's a curious question to answer. The Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S8 are fairly similar on paper, at least as far as hardware goes. How does that affect VR, and are these smaller differences actually enough to make you consider spending up to the newest model instead of saving some money and getting the Galaxy S7 on sale?

Lets break it down piece by piece, so you can see which is doing to deliver the best VR experience.

More than a spec sheet

The things that matter most when considering how a phone will perform in VR are few. You need a quality display with a decent pixel density, a processor capable of maintaining that 60fps sweet spot no matter what while flawlessly syncing audio for full immersion, and you need a battery that will get you through the fun without needing to be connected to power. It'd also be nice if heat weren't something you needed to worry about when in VR for extended periods of time, but we'll look at that separately down below. For now, lets look at the specs.

Category Galaxy S7 Galaxy S8 Operating System Android 7.0 Nougat Android 7.0 Nougat Display 5.1-inch 2560x1440
Super AMOLED (577 ppi) 5.8-inch AMOLED
2960x1440 (570 ppi) Processor Quad-core Snapdragon 820
or Octa-core Samsung Exynos 8 Qualcomm Snapdragon 835
or Samsung Exynos 8895 Storage 32GB 64GB (UFS 2.1) Expandable microSD up to 200GB microSD up to 256GB RAM 4GB 4GB Rear Camera 12MP f/1.7
1.4-micron pixels
OIS 12MP Dual Pixel, f/1.7
1.4-micron pixels
OIS Battery 3000mAh 3000mAh Water resistance IP68 rating IP68 rating Dimensions 142.4 x 69.6 x 7.9 mm 148.9 x 68.1 x 8 mm Weight 152g 155 g

See? The differences sure look slight here. The Galaxy S7 display is actually slightly denser than the S8, and physically a little lighter as well. The latest Snapdragon or Exynos processor will obviously be in the latest phone, but the battery capacity is the same and both phones handle audio output the same.

Is the S8 actually better than the S7 for VR? What it really comes down to is processing power, and what that means when doing something in VR. Since most VR games are frame locked, you're not looking for less stuttering or more detail because these games are built once for all of the Samsung Gear VR supported devices. The thing that will really show which phone is superior for VR is how much battery is consumed performing the same tasks in VR, and how much heat in generated while performing those tasks.

Busting out the thermal camera

These two phones are running as close to the same software as possible, with the same apps installed. Any background apps that can be closed have been killed, so this is as close to an identical environment as can be reasonably expected without modifying these phones. After half an hour of gaming in VR, specifically playing Wands with the new Gear VR Controller, the Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S8 look like this:

As you can see, the Galaxy S8 produces far less heat than the Galaxy S7, which is to be expected now that the processors are physically smaller but also more powerful in this new model. The Galaxy S8 also consumed less power while in VR, which is important.

Less heat is always good. Under these conditions, the Galaxy S8 will basically never show you a heat management warning while in the Gear VR. While it is rare to see a heat warning in a Galaxy S7, this phone sits much closer to that line most of the time in VR. More heat means more stress on the battery, which often means faster deterioration over time. This isn't a huge concern with the Galaxy S7, but it is something to keep in mind when comparing the two.

Which is better for VR?

The truth is, both of these phones offer a great VR experience. You'll find a slightly better overall experience with the Galaxy S8, but is that difference enough to justify spending the extra money? Probably not on its own. If you found other features on the Galaxy S8 good enough to push you over that buying line, like the retina scanner or double the internal storage, a slightly better Gear VR experience with noticeably less heat would be icing on that cake.

Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+

Verizon AT&T T-Mobile Sprint

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2 days ago

HTC squeezes a lot of stuff in this teaser video for the HTC U 11

35

HTC wants you to squeeze its upcoming phone.

HTC is all set to unveil its next flagship, the HTC U 11, on May 16. Ahead of the launch event, the Taiwanese manufacturer is teasing the phone's marquee feature in a short video where people are squeezing stuff. You should just see the video:

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2 days ago

Midnight Black OnePlus 3T is already sold out in most countries

12

The limited edition Midnight Black OnePlus 3T is nearly sold out a month after its launch.

Still interested in buying the Midnight Black variant of the OnePlus 3T? You'll have to act fast, as the limited edition model is sold out in most countries. In a tweet, OnePlus co-founder Carl Pei revealed that the Midnight Black edition is up for sale in just two markets, Hong Kong and the UK, and that it is likely to be sold out in a few days' time.

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2 days ago

How to use Game Tools on the Samsung Galaxy S8

3

What are Game Tools and Game Launcher and why are they so important this time around?

Samsung introduced Game Tools on their phones starting with the Galaxy S7 and S7 edge, and then retroactively added the feature to the Galaxy S6. Turning on Game Tools on those phones activated floating button, which provided easy access to a bunch of really handy settings for screen recording and avoiding distractions during gaming marathons.

With the Galaxy S's unique 18.5:9 aspect ratio, pretty much every game is going to feature ugly letterboxing by default.

A notable feature on the Galaxy S8 is the switch from physical buttons to on-screen navigation control. Samsung has integrated the Game Tools icon into the navigation bar when you're playing a game, keeping it always at close hand without a clunky floating button. It's a subtle but significant change that keeps everything in a standard location without distracting from the on-screen action.

With the Galaxy S's unique 18.5:9 aspect ratio, pretty much every game is going to feature ugly letterboxing by default. Samsung has addressed that with an option to scale and adapt games to fill the full screen built right into the Game Tools Menu. Other options let you disable notifications, turn off the home button's functionality during gameplay, as well as turn off touch sensitivity around the edges of the curved screen — all crucial features for not getting distracted while playing.

How to turn on Game Launcher

If you're planning to play games on your Galaxy S8, you'll definitely want to turn on Game Launcher, which unlocks the Game Tools menus during gameplay.

  1. Tap the Settings icon from your app drawer.
  2. Tap Advanced features.
  3. Tap Games.
  4. Tap the toggle switch to turn on Game Launcher.

To actually set up and configure the Game Tools settings, you'll need to actually launch a game and access the Game Tools menu.

How to use Game Tools while playing

Accessing the full suite of Game Tools options while you're playing a game is really easy — simply swipe to reveal the navigation buttons and you'll see two extra buttons flanking the standard home, back, and recent apps buttons.

The one on the left is the Game Tools main menu, while the one on the right can be set up as a shortcut to take screenshots or record video. If you're planning to record video, you'll want to tweak those recording settings there ahead of time.

The key features included in the Game Tools menu are:

  • Full Screen — Arguably the most important button in the menu. By default, games will play with letterboxed black bars on the top and bottom or sides (depending on orientation). Turning on Full Screen will scale up your games to make use of the full screen, edge to edge. Toggling this will force the game to restart.
  • No alerts during game — Pretty straight forward. This disables notifications from popping up and ruining your flow.
  • Hard press button lock — Disables the ability to accidentally tap the digital home button.
  • Edge touch lock — Disables touch sensitivity around the curved edges of the screen to help you avoid accidental touches.
  • Screen Touch Lock — Pauses the game and locks the screen. Swipe to unlock the screen and return to the game.
  • Screenshot — Tap to quickly take a screenshot while in the heat of the action. Sure beats trying to press the power and volume-down buttons!
  • Record — Lets you quickly record gameplay videos as you play, with options to record yourself via the front-facing camera and microphone for creating your own Let's Play videos and live streams.

These settings will remain in place across all your games, so you won't have to individually turn on Full Screen mode with all your games.

Opposite the main Game Tools menu is the shortcut button, which gives you quick access to one of three actions: take a screenshot, start and stop recording video, or turn on Screen Touch Lock. It's very easy to setup and can be changed on the fly as needed.

  1. Long press the Shortcut button.
  2. Select your preferred action.

If you're planning to record and share your gameplay footage, you'll want to head into the video record settings to set up things just the way you want. You have the option of including a profile image or logo on your video capture, or turn on the front-facing camera for that classic Let's Play picture-in-picture video format. You'll also want to set the video resolution, but be aware of that there are recording limitations — the Galaxy S8 is able to record up to 4GB per recording, which equates to 80 minutes of gameplay at 1080px resolution, its highest setting.

And that's it!

Have you been gaming on the Galaxy S8? What do you think of the Game Tools and how does the experience hold up against previous phones you've owned? Let us know in the comments!

Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+

Verizon AT&T T-Mobile Sprint

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2 days ago

Pixel and Pixel XL will get guaranteed updates until Oct. 2018, security patches through Oct. 2019

89

Pixels will receive at least two platform updates.

Last year, Google provided a timeline for when the Nexus 6P and 5X will stop receiving guaranteed updates. The company is now doing the same for the Pixel and Pixel XL. Like the Nexus devices, the Pixels will pick up guaranteed platform updates until October 2018, which will be two years from their release date. The phones will continue to receive software patches through October 2019.

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3 days ago

Galaxy Note 7 was a fluke, and the GS8 is no redemption story

178

The story you were told is a lie. The Galaxy S8 doesn't mean redemption for Samsung — it simply means more of the same.

There's definitely something about being reminded that the Emperor has no clothes. Maybe it was because I was midway through my own little take on the Galaxy S8. ... It's a beautiful piece of glass and software, the phone Samsung needed to make — the phone it had to make — bringing it back from the fiery depths like a Phoenix rising from the ashes to return the company to glory and ...

No.

That's not what the Galaxy S8 is, at all. It's a really good smartphone, made by a really good company. Just like the phones it made last year. And the year before that. And the year before that.

To fulfill the "redemption" narrative, the Galaxy S8 needs to do only one thing — not explode in very small numbers.

That's not a particularly high bar, especially given that Samsung eventually figured out what went wrong in the Galaxy Note 7. Blame the battery manufacturer, or blame Samsung's testing, or blame both — none of that has anything to do with anything but the battery. Not curved glass. Not cameras. Not software. Reputations are at stake, sure. But Samsung fought (and bought) its way to the top of the heap — it's tough (and rich) enough to make sure it stays there.

Pretend the Galaxy Note 7 never happened. (And in some respects, it never did.) ... What's so big about the Galaxy S8, then?

It's got a great display. It's gorgeous. With curved edges. That's not new for Samsung. It's been making great displays for years, going all the way back to the first SAMOLED screens it showed off at Mobile World Congress in February 2010. (I was there in Barcelona for that one.) It's been making curved displays for a couple generations now.

The simple act of unlocking the Galaxy S8 is hobbled by choices and conflicting design.

The Galaxy S8 has a great camera. We know this because (a) we've all used it by now, and (b) it's basically unchanged from the Galaxy S7. Improved a bit? Sure. But I wouldn't say revolutionary or anything.

Looks great. Feels great. Runs great.

But there's the other side of Samsung, too. The side that just can't help but stuff every conceivable option into a phone. Never mind that most of them are off by default, and likely never will be seen by most normal smartphone folk. (Hint: If you're reading this, there's a good chance you're not one of those people.)

That (among other things) has led to the abomination of a "hidden" home button. Combine that with the awkwardly placed fingerprint sensor on the back of the phone, and unlocking this thing has been more of a chore than it should be. Iris scanning is OK, but also a nonstarter for me a lot of the time in Florida. (Because sunglasses.) Face recognition barely works.

I didn't hate Samsung's new launcher at first. It's probably the best the company has produced. But it's lacking app shortcuts — little popups you get if you long-press and app that'll take you to features within that app.

Oh, sure, Samsung has shortcuts. But they're the same for every app on the home screen. And while they're useful when you're first setting up the phone, they're worthless after that.

App shortcutsApp shortcuts on the Pixel XL, and app shortcuts on the Galaxy S8. Which is more useful all the time?

You can take or leave the notification badges — the little numbers that only tell you how many of something awaits when you open that app. It doesn't tell you what, or give any context or clues to importance. Badges ain't nothing but a number. Me? I'll leave 'em.

And the folders. Oh, sweet baby Jesus, the folders. They look nice. Great animations. But the amount of space wasted within them — taking up an entire screen instead of expanding only as much as needed.

And don't even think about tapping in that vast expanse to close the folder.

The Galaxy S8 is a beautiful phone, and the best Samsung has made. But it's a story of continuation, not redemption — and not one of revolution.

It's a quintessential Samsung thing. A lot of style, but also a lot of substance. Too much substance, maybe. We've seen it before in the Galaxy S7. And the Note 7. And the GS6. And in the Note 5. And in the Galaxy S5 series. And in the 4 series. And in the 3 series.

So what's changed?

Samsung's doing everything that it's ever done. In fact, it's doing it even more. It continues to innovate in design and hardware. (Yes, LG, I hear your screams.) It continues to bludgeon us over the head with software — in some ways better, in some ways worse.

That's not redemption. That's continuation. That's improvement. That's building on what Samsung's been doing for most of the past decade.

The Galaxy Note 7 was (so far, at least) an aberration. Samsung won't let that freak occurrence happen again. But for as bad as that meltdown was — literally and figuratively — it also made for a great storyline in setting up the Galaxy S8. (For you tinfoil hatters out there, I'm not saying it was an intentional meltdown.)

Samsung didn't even have to work to sell the redemption line. We all just couldn't wait to use it.

Modern Dad

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3 days ago

Using Android in the Microsoft ecosystem

52

Is it possible to comfortably use an Android while living in the Microsoft ecosystem?

More and more people are switching from Windows phone every day. I can tell, because people are constantly asking me which platform they should go for between iOS and Android. I've already written an article detailing my month-long experience with an iPhone in the Microsoft ecosystem, and now it's Android's turn, as so many of you requested.

In my mind, to truly experience an ecosystem, you've got to use not only the software, but the services, and the hardware too. That's one of the reasons why I still haven't left Windows phone. But I get it, Windows phone isn't cutting it for everyone anymore, and every day more and more people are needing (not necessarily wanting) to switch platforms.

So, is it possible to continue living entirely in the Microsoft ecosystem with an Android smartphone? Over the last month or so, I've been using an Android smartphone in place of my beloved Windows phone to find out exactly that. This is the Microsoft Android.

The setup

As a full-time Windows phone user, I went ahead and purchased myself a brand new matte black OnePlus 3T 128GB with the intention of using it over my primary smartphone, which is currently an HP Elite x3, but continuing to use all of Microsoft's apps and services, just like I did on Windows phone.

The Android experience is never the same on any device. Depending on the hardware maker, things such as the home screen, notification center, settings apps, and more can differ. Luckily, Android is super customizable, so for the most part we can make Android behave the way we want it to.

Android has the ability of entirely switching out the default home screen and lock screen experiences with a 3rd party one. And Microsoft has their own offering for both of those things. There's a Microsoft home screen, and a Microsoft lock screen for Android which you can download from the store.

The Microsoft home experience is called Arrow, and looks very similar to your average Android home screen. It has a quick launcher bar at the bottom of the screen, an "app drawer" where you can find all the app installed on your device, and a utility page that gives you access to recent contacts, photos, documents, calendar events and more.

You can even login to your Microsoft Account, which will sync up things like calendar events and documents directly with the launcher, which can be accessed by swiping left over to the utility page.

Then there's the Microsoft lock screen, which is called Next Lock Screen. I actually don't like this lock screen, as I find it to be slow and clunky. Also, Android doesn't do a very good job at handling 3rd party lock screens as well as it does home screens. For example, using a 3rd party lock screen means you won't be able to use Android Pay unless you login first.

What's more, it's definitely evident that the 3rd party lock screens are just placed on top of the default lock screen. You can tell because whenever you restart your phone, you have to login twice, once with the Next Lock Screen, and then again with the actual default lock screen. It's really annoying.

The Next Lock Screen looks similar to the Arrow Launcher, with a quick launcher at the bottom of the screen. It also houses all your notifications in a list under the time, just like the normal Android lock screen or on iPhone. I definitely prefer this method of displaying notifications, unlike on Windows phone which doesn't really do this.

Now, to download any apps from the app store (known as the Play Store on Android), you need a Google account. You'll be prompted to make one when you setup your phone for the first time, but luckily you can use your Microsoft email instead of having to create a new Gmail address.

Most Android phones come bundled with Google apps out of box, because that's mostly why people want an Android. For Windows users, however, that's not the case. While you can't necessarily uninstall the bundled Google apps, you can definitely disable a lot of them. So that's exactly what I did.

Before doing anything else, the first thing I did is manually "disable" 99% of the Google apps that are bundled on Android. That includes things like Google Calendar, Photos, Gmail, Hangouts, Play Music, Play Movies, Google App, and Google Drive. I kept a few of the smaller utility based ones, because they might come in handy.

I disabled all of these apps because I intend to replace them with Microsoft's own offerings. I didn't disable Google Chrome however, because Chrome is arguably the only good web browser on Android. And Maybe Opera. But I stuck with Chrome.

The apps

Now that we've disabled all of Google's out of box apps and installed Microsoft's own launcher and lock screen, it's time to start replacing them with Microsoft's own apps. To see a list of Microsoft apps available on Android, I simply headed to the Play Store and searched "Microsoft" in the search tab which will bring up an incredibly long list of Microsoft apps available on the platform.

It becomes obvious very quickly that Microsoft is all in on Android, with literally hundreds of apps available from the software maker. So first and foremost, I went ahead and downloaded the Outlook app, so I could get my Mail and Calendar setup on my phone.

Microsoft's Outlook app for Android is super nice and simple to use. You can add multiple email accounts to it, so if you're using more than just one Outlook account. The app is pretty feature filled too, with direct access to my OneDrive files, and my contacts list for quick emailing.

Speaking of contacts, with the Outlook app, you can sync the contacts saved to your Microsoft Account directly with Android itself. This means you don't have to manually add your contacts to your new address book on your Android, as the Outlook app should do it all for you, just like on Windows phone.

Unlike on iPhone, you can set 3rd-party apps as default on Android. This means the Outlook app will actually be used when clicking an email on a webpage, rather than asking to use the default Gmail app. This makes for a much simpler user-experience, as it means you won't have to copy/paste email addresses into the Outlook app when you have an email to send, the system will handle everything for you.

Installing the Microsoft Authenticator app is also a good move, too. It'll make signing into all the Microsoft apps easier, and in some cases will even skip the login process and just use your account info from the Authenticator app. This is super handy, as typing your email and password every time you want to install a Microsoft app is tiresome.

Moving on, OneDrive and Office are important apps to any Microsoft user, and luckily on Android Microsoft has some great offerings for you. You've got a pretty nice OneDrive app, which does exactly what the OneDrive app on Windows phone does, albeit with a slightly uglier UI in my opinion. You've even got automatic backups for photos, which is something I know many Windows phone users will be happy to hear.

You've also got your standard collection of Office Mobile apps. This includes Word, PowerPoint, OneNote and Excel. The Office apps are pretty much on-par with the Universal Windows Platform apps on Windows phone. They even look the same, so you won't be lost or confused coming from a Windows phone if you're often using Office on your phone.

Each Office app has direct access to your OneDrive too, so you can grab any document or PowerPoint presentation you like directly from the home screen of the app. OneNote has a super handy widget that you can pin to your home screen, with quick access to your notes and note taking options.

I then went ahead and installed Skype. Actually, I installed Skype Preview. You can install either, but the Skype Preview is newer, being constantly updated by Microsoft with new features. Currently, it doesn't house SMS messages like on Windows phone, meaning no Skype SMS syncing between the desktop app on Windows and your phone. Microsoft says they will be bringing this functionality to Android at some point however.

The Skype Preview app has a very simple UI. I find the app takes a little longer than I'd like to launch, but it integrates with the OS well enough so that actionable notifications usually bypass the need to open the app completely. When a call comes in, you can answer that call directly from the notification, which is also pretty nice.

Next up is Cortana. The Cortana app on Android features a funky UI similar to that on iPhone, but is completely different from the UI found on Windows phone. I actually much prefer the far more simple UI that the Windows phone version has than that of the Android and iPhone versions. You have to swipe up, and then swipe over two times to get to your news view of the day, which is annoying.

It does get some things right however. For example, there's this "hub" area which gives you quick access to the most common tasks Cortana can do. If you're someone who doesn't like talking to their phone, you can use these quick access shortcuts to initiate a command without speaking. For example, I can tap on "tell me a joke" and Cortana will do just that, without me needing to ask it with my voice or type it out.

The Cortana app can actually sync notifications between your phone and PC, just like on Windows phone. This means you can technically reply to texts from your desktop that arrive via your Android's SMS app. Not only that, but you can also take advantage of most of the actionable notifications on Android, including apps from 3rd party developers. I can reply to WhatsApp notifications from my Windows desktop that are synced from my phone. That is super awesome.

Finally, Cortana can also be accessed directly from the home button and the lock screen. As mentioned above, you can set apps as default on Android, and you can set Cortana to be your default "voice assistant" on Android too. Once set, you can hold down the home button to initiate Cortana, which is incredibly handy especially if you're a big Cortana user.

Moving right along, Groove Music is another important app for me. The Android app is pretty basic, still rocking the "Your Groove" feature which was removed from the Windows apps some time ago. It's basic, but it has everything I need from a music player. I've still got my list of songs, albums, artists and can still create playlists too. You can also search for music in the Groove library, and add them to your collection or download them for offline playback.

Other Microsoft apps I installed include Microsoft Band for health, Xbox and Beam for gaming, GroupMe for communication with colleagues. and MSN News as my news app. All of those apps work just fine.

Final thoughts

I'll be honest, I really wasn't looking forward to using Android as my daily driver. The last time I tried to switch to Android, is was back when Android 2.x was a thing, and my god that experience was terrible. In 2017 however, Android is as fast and as fluid as iOS is in most cases, which was a pleasant surprise to me. Of course, this depends on the Android smartphone you decide to pick up. I'll be writing more about the OnePlus 3T itself in an article coming soon, but for now, let's just focus on the software.

Android has multitasking mode, which allows you to use two apps at once. I know this is a big thing that Windows phone fans want too, but I honestly never use it. Perhaps that's because I forget its there, or maybe it's just not something I find I need to use.

In short, moving to Android from as a Microsoft user is a good idea. Sure, there's a lot of work you need to do before your Android is behaving the way you want, such as dealing with app launchers and lock screens and whatnot. But once you've got all that sorted, and all the Microsoft apps installed, you're basically good to go. After everything is set up, using Android as a Microsoft user becomes an incredibly pleasing experience.

Some of the Microsoft apps aren't as polished as they are on Windows phone, which is to be expected. But they work, and they work reliably. I'm yet to find myself using an Android app and wishing I was back using a Windows phone, because all the Android apps do everything I need them to do, sometimes better.

Now you will be missing out on Microsoft Wallet if you're in the United States, but there is Android Pay. I admit, I didn't try out Android Pay, so I can't really comment on how good or bad it is in comparison to Microsoft Wallet.

If you're a Microsoft users looking to make the switch from Windows phone, I'd say Android is a great choice, assuming you're okay with spending an hour or so setting everything up and customizing stuff the way you like it. The beauty of iPhone is that it's basically already setup right out of the box. With an Android smartphone, there's a bit more work involved before you're "done" setting up your phone.

With Android, you can definitely be "more in" on the Microsoft ecosystem over an iPhone. So if surrounding yourself with Microsoft as much as possible is your ultimate goal, Android is the way to go.

OnePlus 3T and OnePlus 3

OnePlus Amazon

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3 days ago

MrMobile is giving away a ton of tech!

10

One of my favorite things about reviewing the hottest mobile technology is that sometimes they let me give it all away. See, we just hit the 100-video mark over on the MrMobile YouTube channel, and after less than a year we've also managed to snag some 350,000 subscribers! I thought those were milestones worth celebrating, so I wrote some of the biggest and best tech companies in the world and asked them if they'd like to offer some giveaway gadgets to the people who made it all possible (psst: that's you!). To my surprise and delight, most of them agreed ... and now you've got the chance to win everything from smartphones to tablets to mobile accessories to a 4K TV – over $10,000 in prizes!

To enter, the terms are pretty simple: you just have to say something nice on YouTube. Why? Because YouTube comment sections have too long been counted among the very worst parts of the internet, and I thought it would be nice to shine a little light into those dank corners … if only for a week. For the details, check out the announcement video – then head over to the official contest site for more info and additional chances to win. Giveaway recipients will be announced starting May 5th.

Until then, best of luck – and stay mobile my friends!

Stay social, my friends

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3 days ago

BlackBerry KEYone retail unboxing!

18

Today is the global launch day for the BlackBerry KEYone, as the phone makes its debut at London's high-end Selfridges department store, more than a week ahead of the official UK launch date of May 5. It's available for £499 unlocked, which gets you a well-built, metal-clad, rubber-backed handset powered by one of our most favorite efficient SoCs, Qualcomm's Snapdragon 625. That's backed up by 3GB of RAM, 32GB of storage and BlackBerrys, software suite, based on Android 7.1.

We picked one up at Selfridges today, so be sure to check out our retail unboxing above! Hit up CrackBerry Kevin for more on why a physical keyboard on your phone might not be as crazy as it sounds.

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3 days ago

PS4 vs. PS4 Slim vs. PS4 Pro: Which should you buy?

34

Which PlayStation 4 should I buy?

Update 4/27/17: This article has been updated with new information on PlayStation 4 updates and new bundles available for the current models.

Anyone looking to buy a PlayStation for family now have three options that look very similar. You've got the original PlayStation 4, the new slimmer PlayStation 4 with the exact same branding on the box as the original, and the new PlayStation 4 Pro. Do they all offer similar experiences? Is there a downside to buying the original over the slim? There are a lot of unanswered questions here.

It's confusing by anyone's standards, so your best bet is to know what you need before you head into the store.

What's the difference?

Sony has a history of releasing a "slim" version of the PlayStation a couple of years after its initial release. In the past, those consoles have been labeled a little differently at launch to make it easier to tell the new version apart from the old one. These slimmer versions typically offer more a physical difference than a functionality difference, and this year is no different. The significant feature and performance difference comes with the PlayStation 4 Pro, and even then the difference isn't huge unless you own a 4K television with HDR support.

Category PlayStation 4 (2013) PlayStation 4 (2016) PlayStation 4 Pro Price $349 $299 $399 Dimensions 10.83in x 12.01in x 2.08in 10.43in x 11.34in x 1.54in 11.61in x 12.87in x 2.17in CPU AMD Jaguar 8-core (x86-64) AMD Jaguar 8-core (x86-64) AMD Jaguar 8-core (x86-64) GPU AMD Radeon (1.84 TFLOP) AMD Radeon (1.84 TFLOP) AMD Radeon (4.2 TFLOP) Storage 500GB / 1TB 500GB / 1TB 1TB Optical out Yes No Yes AV out AV/HDMI 1.4 HDMI 1.4 HDMI 2.0 Power consumption 250w max 165w max 310w max 4K Streaming No No Yes USB USB 3.0 (x2) USB 3.0 (x2 ) USB 3.0 (x3) PSVR support Yes Yes Yes (Enhanced)

The biggest functional difference between the original PS4 and the new slimmer PS4 is power consumption. Sony claims the new PS4 has a max power draw of 165 watts, which sounds impressive next to the original 250w max of the first PS4 until you see most benchmarks. The original PlayStation 4 had an average power draw of 150w during its heaviest gameplay sessions, and never pushed anywhere near that 250w max. It is slightly smaller though, so there's that.

PlayStation VR performance is something altogether different.

As you can see, Sony is using the same CPU and a GPU that's a little more than twice the performance in the new PlayStation 4 Pro. There's also an updated version of the HDMI standard in the PS4 Pro, but there's no immediate difference in performance out of the box for video output. Games that struggled in the past to maintain 30fps or 60fps on a standard PlayStation 4 will be able to offer a more consistent experience with the PlayStation 4 Pro through its "boost mode" feature. This basically means games that appear a to stutter a little on a normal PS4 will look and play smoother on a PS4 Pro.

PlayStation 4 Pro also offers 4K video streaming and enhanced graphics on supported titles. Game developers will have the option to offer higher quality graphics to PlayStation 4 Pro gamers, which will be clearly labeled with PS4 Pro Enhanced on the box. Not only are most new PlayStation games being made to support this Enhanced ability, many of the more popular games from the past year are releasing updates to look better through the more capable console.

Category PS4 (2013) PS4 (2016) PS4 Pro HDR Output ❌ ❌ ✔️ 4K Streaming ❌ ❌ ✔️ Remote Play 720p 720p 1080p Share Play 720p 720p 1080p

PlayStation VR performance is something altogether different. PlayStation 4 Pro was built to better support PlayStation VR (You know, Project Morpheus and PlayStation Neo kinda go together and all that) but even here the differences is subtle.

Most titles that were available before the Pro was released look slightly better on the Pro, and those titles updated to support the enhanced graphics in the Pro are noticeably better looking than on the standard PS4. Because of the high focus on framerate in PlayStation VR, what you'll see in Pro Enhanced titles is more detail, not smoother transitions like you'd see on the television.

Which should I buy?

Now that you know everything you need to know about the differences between these consoles, lets break it down!

  • PlayStation 4 — This is the PS4 most likely to be available at a considerable discount, or the option you're most likely to find used or certified refurbished. If you're on a tight budget, this will get the job done.

See on Amazon

  • Slim PlayStation 4 — This is the PS4 you will see the most of on shelves this year, and it's the nicer looking of the three. This is also the most likely to be found in a bundle with free games and extra controllers if you're looking to get more than just the console.

See on Amazon

  • PlayStation 4 Pro — If you own a 4K HDR television, or you're interested in the best possible gaming experience from your PlayStation, this is the console for you. Also, if you're looking to go all in on PlayStation VR, you'll want this version of the console.

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3 days ago

New Google Assistant SDK will bring intelligence to just about any hardware

3

Creating interesting hardware gets a lot easier when a complex voice interface is provided to you.

Google Assistant is making another expansion, but this time it's important from a hardware developer perspective. Google has just announced a developer preview of the Google Assistant SDK, which will allow hardware developers to use the intelligence of the Assistant for their projects.

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3 days ago

LG's mobile sales up 10%, nearly returns to profitability thanks to the G6

33

LG isn't out of the woods yet, but this quarter was a good start.

LG's financial shortcomings in its "Mobile Communications" division are well known, but its Q1 2017 earnings report paints an improved picture. LG sold 14.8 million phones in the quarter, which was a solid 10% jump from this time last year. For the first three months of the year, LG's mobile division had revenues of $2.61 billion, which was up 4% quarter-over-quarter and 2% year-over-year — LG says the improvement was driven by strong sales in the Americas of the new LG G6 and many mass-market models.

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3 days ago

How to customize the Galaxy S8's Always On Display

21
Samsung Galaxy S8

Samsung has slowly improved its Always On Display — here's how to get started with it.

Even when your Galaxy S8's display is "off," it isn't really off. Always On Display triggers right away, and continues to show you useful information that's available at a glance so you don't always have to turn on the whole display just to check the time or see if you have notifications. It's a neat tool that works well right out of the box, but is even better once you get into the settings and customize things a bit.

How to customize Always On Display

To get started with customizing the Always On Display, head to Settings, Lock screen and security then Always On Display. Now let's see what's in there and what you can do with it.You have six different main clock styles to choose from: digital clock, analog clock, world clock, calendar, image and edge clock. They're all pretty self-explanatory and have small previews of what they look like generally.

Galaxy S8 Always On Display settings

  1. Tap the Always On Display style you want to use, and you'll launch into a customization screen where you can tweak different aspects of the screen.
    • The customization options differ based on which of the styles you're working from, but basically come down to the clock style, color and background.
    • With a few of the styles you'll also be able to tap on blank spots on the screen to add more information like a second clock or an image.
  2. To change different aspects of the screen, tap the buttons at the bottom of the editor to see the different options — swipe to the left to see extra options, if available.
  3. Once you're all tuned up just how you like it, tap Apply at the top of the screen.
  4. Now stay put in the Always On Display settings, because there are a few more changes you can make aside from the design.
    • By default, the phone is set to always show the Always On Display (I mean, it's right in the name!) but you don't have to keep it that way — you can set a schedule for when it is turned on.
  5. Tap the Show always toggle to turn it off, then tap Set schedule to choose when Always On Display is enabled.
    • For example you can only have it on during the working day, and off at night, to save battery.
  6. Scroll to the correct start time, then tap End and scroll to the correct end time and tap OK to set the schedule.

After a little back-and-forth tweaking things, you'll find a combination of styles and settings that work for you. It's a great way to customize the look and functionality of your Galaxy S8.

Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+

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3 days ago

Have you put a case on your Galaxy S8?

47

To cover or not to cover your Galaxy S8...

Samsung's Alcantara suede case.

The question of whether you should put a case on your phone comes down to individual preference, but the Galaxy S8 may be causing more angst in this area than usual. That's because, as good looking as the phone is — in either black, silver or Orchid Gray — it's very slippery, and the sliver of an aluminum frame makes it pretty difficult to grip.

There's also the issue of easily finding the back fingerprint sensor, which is largely flush with the glass back and difficult to press sight unseen. Finally, there's the glass itself, which, while not easy to scratch, is still glass.

So, are you using a case on the Galaxy S8? If so, which one? A cursory look at our forums reveals two buzzing threads, one for the Galaxy S8 and the other for the S8+, each full of recommendations.

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sublimegolf 04-06-2017 01:36 AM “

I'm excited about the original cases. The silicone and especially the alcantara one.255999

Reply

Some people are opting for the official Samsung cases, such as the Alcantara suede model which, at a cool $49.99, is not cheap.

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VW Maverick 04-03-2017 08:19 PM “

Got my first of many. The $4 Ringke Onyx. Mav. :cool:https://uploads.tapatalk-cdn.com/20170404/b97914dd5cafcdd68c10de491b54361c.jpg

Reply

Others are going super cheap, like the $9 Ringke Onyx and $10 Spigen Liquid Air Armor, which has become my case of choice.

More: Spigen's Galaxy S8 cases, reviewed

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jcp007 04-21-2017 04:08 PM “

I was pleasantly surprised by how much more slim the GS8 Otterbox Defender case is compared to the one on my GS7. At it's thickest point on the top and bottom of the GS8 case, it's thinner than the Defender of the GS7. The cutout on the back provides a perfect visual reference for those making such a big deal about the placement of the fingerprint sensor. I have medium sized hands and have no...

Reply

Those looking for a bit more protection, and are willing to put up with some bulk, are turning to the tried-and-true Otterbox Defender, which is reportedly slimmed down in this year's model.

What's your Galaxy S8 case of choice? Sound off in the forums!

Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+

Verizon AT&T T-Mobile Sprint

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3 days ago

Tylt Energi Pro backpack review: Would you like a bag with your battery?

9

Tylt's excellent Energi Pro backpack comes with a 20,100mAh portable battery, 12 zippers, and one of the most comfortable set of straps I've ever worn.

I have a bag problem. It started years ago when I was looking for a decent messenger back to sling across my shoulders while talking through the city, but since then it's extended to backpacks, too.

I am constantly searching for the perfect combination of design, comfort, space and features, and with the Tylt Energi Pro I think I've found it.

See at Tylt

The hardware

First, let's get this out of the way: this is a big bag. At 19.5 inches tall by 13.5 inches across and 13 inches deep, the Energi Pro is not going to disappear behind you. It may even have trouble fitting underneath some airplane seats.

But with those dimensions you get two huge compartments, including a main horizontal area that is perfect for camera equipment or other large items that you don't need access to at all times. The laptop compartment is more traditional, and can hold a 15-inch laptop in its padded, secure sleeve, as well as a tablet and other accessories in a mesh capture.

12 compartments in which to lose your keys, or realize they were in your hand this whole time.

In all, there are 12 compartments, from a small top reinforced sunglasses case to a few secret areas that can hide change and other small niceties. Many of the zippers themselves are water resistant, as is the bag's external Polyester material itself (though not waterproof).

The gray color scheme isn't particularly to my liking — I prefer the blue-and-black combination of the cheaper Energi bag) — but everything else, from the comfortable straps and lumbar-reinforced padded backrest to the many thoughtful design touches, suits me just fine.

The battery

One of the main draws of such a bag is the inclusion of a battery, and the cable routing that is built into the design. The former is fine — it's a high-quality 20,100mAh cell that has two USB-A ports and a USB-C port (as well as a Micro-USB input for charging the battery itself) — and holes up in a side pocket.

I don't endorse buying a bag for its included battery, however high quality, since it just adds unnecessary cost, but Tylt's integration is top-notch. The battery supports Quick Charge 3.0 from one of the USB-A ports, and the Type-C port can do USB-PD, which is a nice bonus.

A bag for your cables, water bottle, or anything else you want to hide.

And if you're into overzealous cord management, the Energi Pro has a network of openings that allow you to snake cables from any of the three ports, when the battery is stowed in the side pocket, to number of compartments within the bag.

I'll admit to only doing this for a short time, since when I'm traveling I generally only have a couple cables with me and don't like the idea of them being confined to a particular place in my bag, but it's there if you want it.

The convenience factor

When I look for a bag, I want it to have places to put all my things, but separated in such a way that makes sense to my brain. The Energi Pro is such a bag: its zippers are logically placed, and despite the lack of a separate side water bottle pouch (the included cable pouch doubles as an optional water bottle holder) I have few complaints about it. I have now taken the Energi Pro on four overseas trips, and have been thankful for its spaciousness and comfort each time.

A big bag with great design, lots of storage, and an enormous battery.

That said, someone who wants a more traditional top-zipper main compartment will be disappointed here: the design is more akin to a camera bag than a typical tech. And at $149, it's not cheap, especially if you already have a nice, big portable battery and don't need the included one.

But if that same person is looking for a versatile, well-designed and high-quality travel backpack with a few neat features and some charming quirks — the back's laptop compartment gingerly swings open in TSA-approved style, and there's an RFID-protection area for cards and other personals — this will be perfect.

See at Tylt

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