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3 weeks ago

Pixel Plus: How to make your phone look like a Pixel (and better)

116

There's a lot of beauty in Google's shiny new Pixel, and that extends to the Pixel Launcher.

The clean lines of the redesigned Google widget atop the screen, the whimsical portholes for folder icons, the faint white bar behind the dock … Google did a lot of interesting things with its new launcher layout, and while I'm all for the Pixel look, let's face it: not all of us have 800 bucks for a Pixel. And even those with a Pixel can get fed up with the launcher's limitations when it comes to desktop grid size and icon packs. Don't worry! You don't have to give up your sweet Pixely theme just because you're giving up the Pixel Launcher.

Luckily for us, two of the most popular replacement launchers on the market have already done most of the work for us; all we have to do is turn the proper settings on. We'll show you how to bring out the Pixel in Nova Launcher and Action Launcher, and how to put it all together.

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3 weeks ago

Samsung is trying to sell a Galaxy Note 3 on Black Friday and it should feel ashamed

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Samsung Galaxy Note 3

There are bad deals, and then there are sales that show a disrespect for your customers.

Samsung's online Black Friday deals kick off on November 20, and it's always great to get an early look at what products will be available — and at what price — before the sales go live. As is often the case with these kinds of sales there are a couple of great deals out there, surrounded by lots of so-so offerings and a couple of complete head-scratchers.

This year, the biggest head scratcher of them all is Samsung attempting to sell a certified pre-owned Galaxy Note 3 for $249 ... yes, in the year 2016.

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3 weeks ago

Best Cases For Moto G4 Play

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What are the best cases you can buy today for the Moto G4 Play?

The Moto G4 Play is one of the best smartphone deals you can find today, and if you're aching to equip it with some stylish protection, here are a few worthy considerations.

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3 weeks ago

Get certified to become an ethical hacker with these awesome bundles!

Hacking is generally associated with negativity, and with recent attacks and breaches people are scared of the word. Ethical hackers do a completely different thing though, they work with the companies to build up their systems to prevent attacks from happening in the future. They look for vulnerabilities in different systems, code bases, and more to see if there are any holes that people can get into and work to get them closed up before someone else can access them.

Getting into the field can be a difficult thing, but there are tons of great resources available that can help you get started to get your foot in the door. Here are some of the best courses that you can take at a huge discount.

Certified Ethical Hacker Bootcamp

The Ethical Hacker Bootcamp offers a ton of information that you have access to at any point during the day. You'll be able to utilize the more than 140 lectures and 45 hours of content 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. With more than 600 exam questions you'll gain practical experience with DDoS attacks, policy creation and much more.

Normally, this bootcamp would set you back over $5,200, but right now you can get it all for just $45.

See at Android Central Offers

IT Security & Ethical Hacking Certification Training

With this certification training you will have instant access to more than 50 hours of training and nearly 50 hours of courses to help you get on your way. If you invest up to three hours per week, you should be able to pass all the certification exams in under six weeks, which is not a whole lot of time at all. You'll be able to learn how to secure Windows systems against attacks, discover methods for guessing passwords and study different types of keyloggers.

Regularly this certification training would be priced at just under $2,000, but for a limited time you can get it for only $30, which is a 98% savings.

See at Android Central Offers

IT Security & White Hat Hacking: CompTIA & Cisco Certifications

Information is key when it comes to getting started. There is so much information out there, but accessing it is pricey. Getting your CompTIA & Cisco certifications with this bundle may put you a step ahead of the competition. With more than 50 hours of information and 40 lectures that you can access on-demand, this bundle will get you ready to pass your exams with ease. Some of the key topics that you'll master include cyber-security, spyware, keyloggers, and much more.

If you want to avoid paying the $1,400 retail value of the courses, you'll want to act quick so that you can pay only $29 for it all.

See at Android Central Offers

Cyber Security Hacker & Pen Tester Certification Training

If you want to have access to the most classes, you'll want to check this one out. With nearly 120 classes available to pull information from and 20 hours of content that you can access on your own schedule, this can help you get certified in the time that you have available. This will help put you ahead of the competition by teaching you through video, quizes, assessments and even discussions.

For the low price of just $39, you'll save a boatload of money to act quick. If you decide to delay, you may be stuck paying upwards of $800 for this package, do be sure to act quickly!

See at Android Central Offers

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3 weeks ago

Verizon Moto Z and Z Force reportedly receiving Nougat update

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Good news for people who love sweet updates.

Verizon subscribers will be the world's first Moto Z users to experience Android 7.0 Nougat, according to several Reddit users reportedly receiving the long-awaited update.

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3 weeks ago

LG's Black Friday deals include a $288 G5, steep discounts on 4K TVs

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Some lackluster deals are highlighted by a couple big savings in LG's Black Friday list.

LG has a set of Black Friday deals going live on its own store, with the main highlights being a super-cheap sale on the G5 from Sprint and all major U.S. carriers offering extra incentives on the new V20. There's also a deal for an unlocked G4 with a leather back for $329, including a 32GB SD card and an extra leather replacement back.

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3 weeks ago

Best Buy's 2016 Black Friday deals are here: Google Home, Galaxy S7 and more on sale

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There are 48 pages of sales to peruse through.

Don't you just love a sale? Best Buy's Black Friday preview flyer is now available. Beginning November 24, you can get some great deals, like a Google Home for $30 off. It's a good deal and you'll still get the free perks that come with it, including six months of YouTube Red.

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3 weeks ago

HTC Bolt review: Wait for act two

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HTC Bolt

The Bolt is a fine phone that should have attempted to fly on its own — without buckling to a carrier's demands.

The bottom line

In the HTC Bolt you get a stylish smartphone and a solid performer with the latest software. But with its aging spec offerings and a couple odd decisions, it costs just a little too much to consider adopting "Sprint's fastest smartphone ever."

The Good

  • Stylish, aluminum build is IP57 rated
  • Runs Android 7.0 Nougat right out of the box
  • Capable set of camera specs

The Bad

  • You'll have to spend time undoing Sprint's tweaks to the interface
  • There is no headphone jack, nor is there a dongle
  • The processor is too old for this price-point

I'm not going to start off this review with any puns related to lightning bolts, nor am I going to delve into the history of HTC's gradual disappearance from the smartphone players marquee. Instead, I'd like to launch off the simple fact that the HTC Bolt is a great smartphone.

Admittedly, it was difficult for me to feel that way at first, and that's partly Sprint's fault. The Bolt is a Sprint-exclusive release, but its sole purpose appears to be to help raise awareness of the carrier's 3x CA (carrier aggregation) LTE network, hence the tagline, "Sprint's fastest smartphone ever." That doesn't seem fair for HTC, considering it had to make hardware decisions to fit that marketing narrative, but the Taiwan-based company doesn't have much choice at this point. It needs the visibility boost in the U.S.

The Bolt likely won't be a heavy player for HTC. If anything, it should be considered a glimpse at what's to come. Its sole existence, besides propagating Sprint's LTE Advanced network, appears to be to test what works in the market. And if the Bolt is any indication of where HTC is headed in terms of making smartphones, it may finally turn things around.

About this review

I (Florence Ion) am reviewing the HTC Bolt after spending six days with it on Sprint's network in the San Francisco Bay Area. The phone is running Android 7.0 Nougat under HTC's Sense UI. It did not receive software updates during my testing period. The phone was provided to Android Central for review by HTC.

That Sprint-made Home screen.

HTC Bolt Hardware

I like the trend of matte, aluminum-bodied smartphones and the Bolt in particular sports a futuristic coolness about it that you don't typically see with a glossy, glass-covered device like the Galaxy S7, or even the Pixel. I'm also digging the Bolt's minimalist design and I like that the back panel isn't crowded by giant camera lenses and LED flash bulbs. Just remember that matte doesn't necessarily mean scuff-free, however. The metal that covers most of the surface held up well, but there's still vulnerable glass on the front — after a week it was already sporting nicks on the display from being inside my purse.

The Bolt is pretty big. It's about the size of the Pixel XL, but it's actually wider — and what makes it particularly hefty is its overall density. I got tired of holding it one-handed, so I found myself curling up with it a bit more and using two hands just to navigate the interface. The one time I didn't want to be holding it at all was when it's charging — it's almost too warm to hold when plugged in.

The Bolt gets really warm when it's charging — almost too warm to hold.

I know what you're probably thinking. No, the Bolt's propensity for being a hot potato is not directly correlated to the Snapdragon 810 powering it, despite its reputation for overheating. The giant metal frame dissipates all sorts of heat, not just the processor's. This processor's only folly is that it's too old for a smartphone offered at this price point and in late 2016. I actually no issues while I was using it, and the Bolt benchmarked like the Nexus 6P in PCMark. Anyway, this is all moot because HTC had to stick with the nearly two-year-old processor since it's one of the few chips that supports Sprint's new LTE network.

HTC Bolt USB-C port

The Bolt's battery life seemed impressive at first. I left the phone off the charger for about three days and on the morning of the fourth day, I found it hanging on at one percent. I thought to myself, "Man, that last few minutes of usage could really come in handy." I thought it was a good sign that the Bolt could manage to hold on like that.

Width Height Thickness 6.05
147.5 mm
3.04 in
77.3mm
0.32 in
8.1mm
  • Display:
    • 5.5-inch QuadHD
    • Super LCD3 Display
    • 2560x1440 resolution (534ppi)
  • Camera:
    • 16MP, ƒ/2.0 lens, OIS, Dual LED flash
    • 8MP front camera, 1080p
  • Battery:
    • 3200 mAh capacity
    • Quick Charge 2.0
  • Chips:
    • Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 processor
    • Octa-core 1.5GHz
    • 3GB RAM
    • 32GB internal storage
    • microSD slot with adoptable storage

And then I performed my battery benchmark. The Bolt did not perform on par with the other smartphones I've tested with the same battery size and QuadHD display combination. It managed only five hours and 24 minutes of on-screen usage in the PCMark battery rundown test, and that's with Nougat's renovated Doze mode. What's even more annoying is that when you're ready to charge it up, you'll have to wait around for a bit. The Bolt is only compatible with QuickCharge 2.0. It takes more than an hour and a half to fully replenish the Bolt's 3200mAh battery.

American pride shot with the Bolt.

HTC Bolt Cameras

The HTC Bolt's 16-megapixel rear-facing camera shoots at an aperture of f/2.0 and comes equipped with optical image stabilization. Normally, I'd complain about how much smaller the aperture is compared to its flagship, the HTC 10 which shoots with an aperture of f/1.8, but the inclusion of the RAW and manual shooting mode makes that less of a limitation to fret about. If you want, you can use that mode to keep the shutter open for up to 16-seconds. The low-light limitation only becomes an issue when you're using a third-party camera app, like Snapchat, in an attempt to make the next social media masterpiece.

I was impressed by the Bolt's imaging capabilities. I liked the way the photos were composed in ample lighting and I liked that the post-processing engine didn't blow out or overly contrast the end result. Overall, the camera resolution is fine for a second-tier smartphone, but I hope we see more of the HTC 10's camera sensor in the next flagship.

Keep it simple.These filters are really good.

My favorite thing about HTC phones is the native camera app. It used to be one of the easiest camera apps to use, years before Samsung and LG simplified their feature-heavy menus. The Bolt is well-equipped with its own library of camera features, too, but the options aren't all crowding the screen when you tap into that particular menu mode. Instead, you can simply scroll through the different options available to you, all of which are self-explanatory. It's the least overwhelming camera app, sans the stock Google camera app, and I like that you can even change the camera resolution without tapping into another Settings menu.

BlinkFeed. Blah.

HTC Bolt Software

The Bolt runs HTC Sense on top of Android 7.0 Nougat. This is one of the better versions of Android as translated by a manufacturer floating around out there. It includes a theming engine, if you don't like the color scheme, and a notifications shade that's similar to what you'll find on the Pixel. The BlinkFeed is still a thing, too, but you can disable it if News Republic and all the sources you've selected become too much for you. BlinkFeed feels too noisy sometimes. Isn't life busy enough?

Lock screen.Home screen.App drawer.

HTC optimized the software on the Bolt so that even though this is Android 7.0 running on subpar specifications, you'll hardly notice it with day-to-day usage. Even Snapchat ran without a hitch and I have issues with the app even when using it with the latest hardware. But while HTC left Nougat relatively unscathed by redundant apps, Sprint went rampant bundling in its own. The Bolt is not only preloaded with about 20 apps, but you can only delete about half of them. The interface also comes pre-skinned in Sprint's themed icon pack, which is as gaudy as it sounds, and a Sprint wallpaper, which is the default background for the app drawer. Thankfully, the Android interface is customizable as long as you're willing to put in the time.

Buds.

HTC Bolt Odds and Ends

They keep taking away our headphone jacks to make smartphones thinner, but that's what's in style now, and it looks like we may have to accept the inevitable. For its part, it appears HTC is attempting something with the one-port-to-rule-them-all motif before its flagship next year. It included a pair of USB Type-C earphones that work with the Bolt and take advantage of its adaptive audio capabilities, which adjust to ambient noise and your ears to offer the best sound. But there's no included dongle for any other old school earbuds and headphones you might have around the house. That's a bummer.

Believe it or not, the Bolt is HTC's first water resistant phone, and has almost the same dust and water resistance standard as Samsung's latest phone. The Bolt's IP57 rating will keep the device safe in three feet of water for up to half an hour, but you're better off just keeping the phone away from large bodies of liquid in any case.

HTC Bolt

HTC Bolt The bottom line

I can't help but feel like the Bolt would have been a better device if it weren't beholden to another company. I'm assuming that in exchange for exclusivity and front-and-center marketing mojo, HTC had to compromise on the Bolt's performance so that its hardware could accommodate Sprint's LTE network. That's a hell of a compromise to make for the fourth largest carrier in the U.S., but in the end, having any sort of carrier backing is better than not having any presence at all — which the HTC 10 does not.

The Bolt is a definite look at what HTC has in store for us next year. I'm expecting a super cool aluminum smartphone with top-of-the-line hardware and a rear-facing camera that can better capture low light. For now, consider the Bolt a mere test run that shows off Sprint's network — and one that isn't likely worth $600 to you.

See at Sprint

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3 weeks ago

Best Google Pixel Deals, November 2016

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What is the best deal you can get on a Google Pixel?

When shopping for a new gadget, like the Google Pixel and Pixel XL, you should be looking for the best possible deal available. But hunting them down can be difficult since most retailers change them weekly — but don't worry, we've got you covered. Whether you are looking to save finance your purchase, get some freebies with it, or try and save some money on the purchase there are a few places to check out.

Let's take a look at some of the best deals on Google's Pixel and Pixel XL that are available right now.

Refresh often! This page is constantly being updated as we discover new Pixel deals. Check back soon!

Google Pixel

Want to pick up the smaller of the two Pixels but avoid paying full price? Retailers are offering a variety of deals on these phones as Google continues its marketing push, and some will offer discounts in the future and others will include some extras at no cost. If you want to check out the best deals, these are the ones you want to look at.

Google Pixel XL

If you are looking for the larger version, you'll want to check out the deals on the Pixel XL. Odds are that most of the times retailers will offer the same deals on the Pixel and Pixel XL in terms of discounts or freebies, but there may be some specific sales that offer incentives to go bigger. Here are some of the best deals that you can find right now on the Pixel XL.

Other deals

As time passes you'll start to see these appear on other sites like eBay and Swappa, offering great deals on second-hand units. Some people may turn around and sell theirs at launch for a profit, but if you are looking to save you'll have to wait a bit longer.

Have you noticed any other deals on the Pixel or Pixel XL? If so, be sure to drop a line in the comments letting us know where the deal is and why other people may be interested.

Google Pixel + Pixel XL

Google Store Verizon

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3 weeks ago

Get a year of Amazon Prime for $79 today only!

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Update: Today is the day! If you are looking to pick up a discounted year of Amazon Prime, this is your chance. Don't wait, this offer is only good for one day, November 18.

New show kicks off this Friday, global launch will bring it to 200+ countries in December.

To celebrate the launch of The Grand Tour, Amazon is making it cheaper to get in on a year's Prime membership in the U.S., and enjoy the new show from day one. On November 18, you'll be able to save $20 on a year of Amazon Prime, with the price dropping to $79 for a day only.

That gets you access to the antics of Clarkson, May and Hammond, but also instant streaming through Amazon Video, photo storage, faster shipping on Amazon orders, and a discounted price on Amazon Music Unlimited.

See at Amazon

In related news, the Grand Tour trio have announced that from December the show will be launching globally, allowing viewers in more than 200 countries to catch up on previous shows, and see new ones every Friday.

Amazon UK has been running a similar weeklong promotion for Prime, making the service available for £59, down from the usual £79.

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3 weeks ago

Galaxy Beta Program users can't play with their Gear VR right now

Be careful what you flash for.

Samsung's Galaxy Beta Program is letting waves of users try out the latest version of Android on their hardware before it is officially rolled out to the world. This is a great way for Samsung to make sure there are no serious problems with their implementation of Android Nougat. Enrolling in the program is easy, but Samsung is only accepting handfuls of interested people at a time which means there are those who have decided to go and manually install this preview through less-than-legitimate methods in order to experience all of the new software.

Regardless of how you install the Nougat preview on your phone, doing so will cause you to no longer be able to play any of your Gear VR games.

Read more at VR Heads!

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3 weeks ago

Don't miss out on this amazing $140 Gear S2 savings right now!

4

If you're in the market for a Samsung Gear S2 smartwatch and want an incredible deal, you'll want to check out this offer from BuyDig. Right now you can pick one up for as little as $159, which is a huge savings from the regular price of $299. The deal is on the dark gray version of the smartwatch with built-in heartrate monitoring and more.

Whether you are looking at picking one up for yourself or for someone else as a gift, you'll want to act quick. We don't know how long this deal will last, but at this price odds are not for very long.

See at BuyDig

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3 weeks ago

Sony's Xperia Ear finally launching Dec 13 for $199

8

Do more without picking up your phone with the Xperia Ear.

First announced back at Mobile World Congress in February, Sony has revealed its always listening in-ear Bluetooth piece, the Xperia Ear, will be available December 13 on Amazon. It will also be available through retailers such as Fry's, B&H and other retailers. Retail price for the Xperia Ear has been set at $199.99.

The Xperia Ear is a lightweight earpiece that's designed to fit snugly in your ear. Packed into its tiny Graphite Black casing, Sony has included an accelerometer, gyroscope, and proximity sensors which allow the Xperia Ear to turn itself on automatically once inserted and allow users to use head gesture commands, such as a quick nod to confirm. If that sounds familiar, you're not alone — it's very similar to the idea of the Moto Hint from Motorola.

It comes with multiple earbud tips to find your comfortable fit, along with a storage case that doubles as a charger with a 300 mAh battery. The device itself features a 65 mAh battery and is capable of 4 hours of talk time and 80 hours of standby. From Sony's release:

Utilizing a proximity sensor and Sony Agent Technology, Xperia Ear users can send and receive messages, hear personalized information, get the latest news updates, check their schedule, search and navigate without ever having to look at their smartphone. Xperia Ear also uses voice command technology, allowing users to dictate text that can be sent immediately or saved for later. Additionally, users can also accept or ignore phone calls with simple head gestures.

The Xperia Ear is NFC and Bluetooth 4.1 enabled, and will be compatible with any phone running Android 4.4 via the Xperia Ear app.

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3 weeks ago

Eagle Flight review: One hell of a ride!

Eagle Flight review

Paris is free from humans and nature has had enough time to take over. Wild animals roam the streets, vines climb the Eiffel Tower, and the Metro is flooded. How you live in this post-apocalyptic city is really up to you. Follow a story, take to the skies with some friends and defend your territory against other players, or enjoy yourself as your soar freely over Haussmann's iconic architecture. It's great to be a bird.

Read the full review at VR Heads!

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3 weeks ago

Snag the excellent Ecobee3 smart thermostat at one of the best prices we've seen

10

Make your home a little smarter and save a few bucks while you do it.

If you're looking to add some extra smarts to your home and save a little money over the long-term, a smart thermostat is a great place to start.

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