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2 days ago

Hey Xiaomi, it's time to end flash sales

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Xiaomi needs to reconsider its sales strategy.

Xiaomi makes enticing products that offer excellent value for money. Even though the brand does little to no marketing of its own (although that's changing in India), it is one of the most talked-about companies on social media on account of the hype generated around every product launch. By undercutting its competitors, Xiaomi attracts a significant amount of interest without advertising through traditional marketing channels.

That move has worked incredibly well for the brand over the years, but there is one area where Xiaomi woefully falls short when compared to its rivals: availability. Most of Xiaomi's latest products are available exclusively via flash sales, timed sales that are open for a short window once a week. This week, Xiaomi kicked off the first flash sale of the Mi Air Purifier 2, a $150 (₹9,999) smart air purifier that comes loaded with a slew of features that were previously limited to products that cost thrice as much.

I was very interested in buying Xiaomi's air purifier. Air quality in most parts of India has deteriorated over the last few years, and while the situation isn't as dire in Hyderabad as it is in Delhi, I wanted to get an air purifier to see if it made a tangible difference. I logged into the Mi Store app and waited for the sale to kick off at 12 p.m. IST. I hit refresh at 12 p.m. only to find that the air purifier was already out of stock.

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2 days ago

Digital Offers: Learn to build apps from scratch for only $39!

The phrase "there's an app for that" covers just about everything these days. Want a date? There's an app for that. Want some food? There's an app for that. Want to learn more about how to please a member of the opposite sex? You get the picture. Python is one of Google's preferred coding languages, and learning it is a gateway to building your own apps and possibly creating the next Angry Birds!

How do you get started? Well, coding isn't exactly easy to learn on your own, so you need to take some sort of course with structured lessons. But what if you already have a full-time job and other daytime responsibilities? You don't have the time or the cash to go back to college and learn computer sciences. Maybe you already have a computer sciences degree and just want to add to your education? Either way, it'd be great if you could take courses online, at your leisure, and learn at your own pace. You know what's coming!

The Python Programming Bootcamp is your way into the wonderful world of meaningful app creation. You'll learn everything, from the basics to the advanced, throughout 438 lesson — over 50 hours of content! You'll learn the fundamentals of Python and learn to apply them to real-life projects. You'll even learn the ins and outs of penetration testing so that you can be sure that the apps you create are as safe as possible for everyone who downloads them.

Going through college or other sources, courses like these may end up running you thousands of dollars. If you were to purchase lifetime access straight from the course provider, you'd pay almost $1100. But right now, through Android Central Digital Offers, you can become a Python guru for only $39! That's lifetime access to 6 courses — 438 lesson, over 50 hours of content — for 96% off.

The world of apps is a wondrous and potentially lucrative one. Python is where it's at for Google (which includes YouTube!), so if you want to get your feet wet and learn to build apps from scratch, enroll in the Python Programming Bootcamp and save over $1000 with Android Central Digital Offers!

See at Android Central Digital Offers

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2 days ago

Best Android Phones 5.7 inches And Over

Galaxy Note 7

If you're looking for a phone with a huge screen, you've come to the right place.

Best Overall

Samsung Galaxy Note 7

Galaxy Note 7

See at AT&T See at T-Mobile See at Verizon See at Sprint See at U.S. Cellular

In its new, non-exploding form, complete with green battery icon, the Galaxy Note 7 is not only the best big Android phone, it's probably the best Android phone you can buy, period. The Note 7 takes the Galaxy S7's design language and refines it further, with a 5.7-inch panel packed into a deceptively small chassis. Subtle curves adorn the sides of the display, giving you access to Samsung's edge screen features — in addition to the Wacom-based S Pen for which the Note series has become known. The Note 7 also benefits from the GS7's best-in-class internals and camera, which matches or beats just about anything else out there.

While the Galaxy Note 7 doesn't yet have Android 7.0 Nougat, you do get Samsung's most refined TouchWiz UI yet atop Marshmallow, with a ton of neat tricks for the S Pen.

Bottom line: The Note 7 has had a rough start in life, but it's still a fantastic smartphone, and arguably the best all-round phone out there.

One more thing: Even though new, safe Note 7s are now in customers' hands, you may face problems using the Note 7 on airplanes. At the time of writing many major airlines forbid using or charging any Note 7, new or old, in-flight.

Why the (new) Galaxy Note 7 is the best

The unprecedented global recall changes the game, but the Note 7 remains a phenomenal device.

Let's be honest here: The Galaxy Note 7 brand has been tarnished — probably permanently — by the reports of exploding batteries and the subsequent recall. Frequent fliers may also want to look elsewhere if they want a phone they can use in the air without hassle.

But with those caveats out the way, the Note 7 is fantastic at everything it does. You'll pay dearly, but the high price of admission basically gets you an improved Galaxy S7 with a larger display and an expanded feature set, thanks in part to the S Pen. The display is the best on any smartphone we've seen, and the luxurious build quality matches the best from Apple, and there's solid battery life, backed up by wireless charging and fast charging. Samsung's proven 12-megapixel camera is great in daylight and industry-leading in low-light photography. And for what it's worth there's also an iris scanner, which we can take or leave.

Overall, the Note 7 is a joy to use, and is packed with the very latest mobile tech, and an expansive feature set.

Best 'not a Note 7'

LG V20

LG V20

Coming Soon

LG needed to raise its game after the modular mess that was the G5, and that's exactly what Samsung's local rival did with the V20. LG's 5.7-incher gets you the same guts as the G5, without any of the modular nonsense, and with much improved build quality and some unique features thanks to the second display. As before, you can use the secondary ticker above the main screen to see app shortcuts, show a personal message or view notifications.

And the removable battery option is back, with the V20's 3,200mAh swappable cell living behind a metal back panel, which pops off when you hit the release switch.

On the camera side, the V20 is every bit as good as the G5, with a main 16-megapixel sensor behind an f/1.8 lens, and a secondary wide-angle camera for fitting in more detail. LG's also packed in new autofocus and stabilization technologies not present in that phone for even smoother video.

The V20 represents a significant milestone in the Android world too — it's the first phone to ship with Android 7.0 Nougat out of the box, though you're still looking at LG's UX as opposed to a the cleaner Android UI you'd get on a Nexus.

Bottom line: The V20 is easily LG's best phone ever. You get the proven cameras of the G5, along with Android Nougat and a solid metal chassis, plus the rarity of a removable battery.

One more thing: LG hasn't announced any plans to range the V20 in Europe, so don't hold your breath for an official way to buy the phone in that part of the world.

Best Pure Android

Nexus 6P

Nexus 6P

See at Amazon See at Google

Sure, the Nexus brand will soon be going away, but if you want a pure, untouched installation of the latest version of Android on a big screen, the 6P is where it's at. It's been around since late 2015, so you're looking at specs in line with other high-end phones from that period: A Snapdragon 810 processor, 3GB of RAM and 32, 64 or 128GB of storage. Despite the reputation of the 810, the 6P performs just fine in most tasks, although battery life doesn't extend past a day, even with a 3,450mAh cell inside.

The 6P's hefty metal exterior comes in four colors, and the design is attractive if a little blocky. The main reason to buy this phone, however, is the software. As a Nexus, you get a completely pure, untouched stock Android install, as well as speedy updates from Google when a new version drops.

Bottom line: Given that it's almost a year old, it's possible to find the 6P online for not a whole lot of money compared to the upcoming Pixel phones.

One more thing: The larger of Google's two Pixel phones will purportedly use a smaller 5.5-inch screen, so if you may need to eventually downsize when upgrading from the 6P.

Best not so expensive

Samsung Galaxy Note 5

Galaxy Note 5

See at Verizon See at T-Mobile See at Amazon

For all the fuss about this year's Galaxy Note, last year's stylus-toting offering, the Note 5, has aged remarkably well. Across the board, you're looking at a similar feature set to the Note 7, just a little less barnstorming across the board. A slightly older Exynos processor, and a 16-megapixel (optically stabilized) camera that doesn't quite match the Note 7's in low light, but is still damn good in its own right.

And the Android 6.0 Marshmallow update that landed earlier this year has given the Note 5 new life, porting over many of the features from the Galaxy S7. What's more, Samsung has largely kept on top of rolling out Android's important monthly security updates for the phone.

Bottom line: The Note 5 is still a fantastic phone, even by the standards of late 2016. In fact, it gives some of the lesser flagships of this year a run for their money. (And you'll be able to use it on an airplane, too!)

One more thing: Samsung never officially released the Galaxy Note 5 in Europe, so if you're importing and using it on European networks, be sure to check that the model you're buying will work with your carrier's cellular bands.

Conclusion

Samsung has been making big-screened Android phones since the beginning, so it should come as no surprise that — in spite of some early issues — the company's latest all-singing, all-dancing Galaxy Note bests everything in the 5.7-inch and up category. You're paying serious cash, but that gets you arguably the best-looking, most capable Android phone we'll see this year.

Best Overall

Samsung Galaxy Note 7

Galaxy Note 7

See at AT&T See at T-Mobile See at Verizon See at Sprint See at U.S. Cellular

In its new, non-exploding form, complete with green battery icon, the Galaxy Note 7 is not only the best big Android phone, it's probably the best Android phone you can buy, period. The Note 7 takes the Galaxy S7's design language and refines it further, with a 5.7-inch panel packed into a deceptively small chassis. Subtle curves adorn the sides of the display, giving you access to Samsung's edge screen features — in addition to the Wacom-based S Pen for which the Note series has become known. The Note 7 also benefits from the GS7's best-in-class internals and camera, which matches or beats just about anything else out there.

While the Galaxy Note 7 doesn't yet have Android 7.0 Nougat, you do get Samsung's most refined TouchWiz UI yet atop Marshmallow, with a ton of neat tricks for the S Pen.

Bottom line: The Note 7 has had a rough start in life, but it's still a fantastic smartphone, and arguably the best all-round phone out there.

One more thing: Even though new, safe Note 7s are now in customers' hands, you may face problems using the Note 7 on airplanes. At the time of writing many major airlines forbid using or charging any Note 7, new or old, in-flight.

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2 days ago

Nexus owners, how's the Nougat update treating you?

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Nexus 6P on Nougat

So far the Android 7.0 update has been a bit of a mixed bag for Nexus devices and their owners.

One of the perks of being a Nexus owner is that you're among the first to get a new version of Android when it drops. So if you've got a 6P, 5X or any other supported model, there's a good chance you've gotten a look at Android 7.0 Nougat well before the rest of us. New features like split-screen multi-window, bundled notifications and data saver mode are among the main perks, along with smaller tweaks like the redesigned Recent Apps and Settings menus.

Nexus 6 owners are still waiting for an official OTA.

But as with any major software update, bugs can creep in. Some Nexus 6P owners on the AC forums have been seeing significantly reduced standby battery life on their phones. (There are similar stories over in the Nexus 5X forums too.)

Meanwhile, factory images and official OTA (over-the-air) updates aren't even available for some devices, like the Motorola-built Nexus 6, and Nexus 9 LTE, leaving users having to join the Android beta program to get the 7.0 update. Google's official line has been that updates will be hitting in the coming weeks.

So we want to hear from you, valiant Nexus owners. Which phone are you using, and how have you been getting on with the Android 7.0 update? (If you've even received it yet, that is.) And with the arrival soon of Google's new Pixel phones, will you be upgrading, or sticking with your current handset?

Share your thoughts down in the comments, and be sure to hit up the Android Central forums for more advice, tips, tricks and discussion!

Android 7.0 Nougat

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2 days ago

Morning brief: MediaTek debuts 10-core Helio X30, and Xperia XZ may get Nougat in Oct.

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Ten CPU cores in a phone? MediaTek says yes.

It's time to kick the week off. We're eight days out from Google's October 4 event, and the hype train is in full swing. We're expecting to see the Pixel and Pixel XL, Google Home, a 4K Chromecast, and so much more.

Samsung is facing a three-day delay in restarting Note 7 sales in Korea. The company is trying to complete the recall process in its home market even as reports emerge of "overheating" issues in replacement Note 7s. Meanwhile, Lenovo is making the Moto Mods development kit available in China, Europe, and South America. The company is all set to launch the Moto Z series in India on October 4.

It looks like the Xperia XZ and X Performance will receive the update to Android 7.0 Nougat in October, with the likes of the Xperia Z5 picking up the update in December. Here's what's making the rounds today.

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3 days ago

Sony Xperia X Compact now on sale for $499

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Sony Xperia X Compact

Sony's latest small phone is now up for sale directly from Amazon unlocked.

The list price on the Xperia X Compact is a somewhat-steep $499, but if it's the phone for you and you want it right at launch you can now pull the trigger on one. At $499 the X Compact is a bit more palatable than the $699 Xperia XZ, though it still lands in an awkward pricing bracket — slightly above solid mid-range phones that hit the $399 price point, but below flagships near $600.

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3 days ago

What are VoLTE and HD Voice, and why should you use them?

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What is VoLTE and why should I care about it?

Here in the U.S., most carriers have rolled out the red carpet for Voice over LTE. If it is available in your area and through your carriers, taking advantage of the upgrade currently depends on your having the right hardware. Once you have everything you need, setting VoLTE up on your phone is very easy and well worth it.

Let's take a deeper look.

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3 days ago

Google Play is still in beta, but it's good to be back on Chrome Stable

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Google Play is finally on the Chrome Stable channel for the Asus Flip and the Acer R11.

Google has made a lot of progress getting Google Play and Android apps working on Chrome. It wasn't the worst thing to come out of Mountain View when it initially launched, but there were bugs and it lacked a lot of polish, especially when running next to Chrome itself which is dead-simple and very user-friendly. The worst part of the experience for me and many others was using the Chrome Dev channel.

I really like being able to run a handful of apps from Google Play on my Asus Flip. I actually enjoy using a Chromebook for work and play, and the addition of apps like Slack and Hangouts — that are far better than their corresponding Chrome extensions — make me more productive. Each is one less thing I have to use my phone to do. But some of that shine was taken away when the browser would crash, or tabs would reload while I was a few hundred words into a writing groove, or everything would just stop working for a few seconds at a time. That makes things pretty rough, and eventually, I was back to the Stable channel on another Chromebook and left my Flip be a "testing device" which is really what the Dev Channel or Canary are for. Playing with developer software is fun, but I don't recommend you try to depend on it.

Using developer software can be fun, but I can't depend on it.

Thankfully, the Chrome Stable update to 53.0.2785.129 for the Asus Flip and the Acer R11 carried the Google Play store along with it. It's still in beta, and it can still be a little finicky. The Play Store tells me I have no connection more often than it should. Every once in a while when I go to pull up an app from my shelf it has to restart. Annoying, but not show-stopping because everything else is working fine again. And it's nice to have those few apps available again even if not perfect. My long national nightmare is over. Or something like that.

There are plenty of other Chromebooks that will get access to Google Play "soon." The Chromebook Pixel (the 2015 version) hasn't been updated to a Stable channel build with Google Play just yet, but we know it's coming. Along with plenty of models from HP and Dell and everyone else who makes them. We have no exact timeline, for I'm looking for it to be a few weeks yet so Google and everyone involved can make sure the initial push to more users goes as smoothly as they had hoped before they push things out to any more models — we all know how Google likes to take its time with software rollouts and extended testing. When it happens we'll let you know.

Here's where I ask you to write a bunch of words! If you have an R11 or a Flip and didn't jump to Dev to try Google Play (a longshot, I know) tell us what you think about it now. It's a definite improvement on the Stable channel, and that might make us think it's better than it is because we saw how much worse things could be. And if you've been using Google Play all along on your Chromebook, let me know that I'm not crazy and it really is a better experience on Stable.

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3 days ago

Mobile Nations Weekly: Sequels and successors

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iPhone 7 takes the world by storm, Forza races onto consoles everywhere, and yet another chat platform says Allo.

If there's only one iPhone 7 review you read, make it Rene's at iMore. Diving deep into what makes the new iPhone, both good and bad, it's everything you need to know about the phone you're going to start seeing everywhere. Oh, and there's also a whole new version of tvOS and even an updated and renamed Mac operating system.

The HP Elite x3 is the best Windows phone that Dan's ever used, but it's not yet ready. It's an awkward position. Forza Horizon 3 is one of the best racing games ever, if not the best — and the best Xbox One game. And Gears of War 4, coming in October is shaping up to be one heck of a game, and as an Xbox Play Anywhere title it'll work on both Xbox One and PC with one purchase.

After a few months of gestation, Google's anticipated chat app slash smart assistant Allo has launched. It's Google's latest attempt at a communications platform, and it's mostly stripped down the messaging side and seriously ramped up on the artificial intelligence. But if you're more into the hardware side of things, Google's next Nexus Pixel phones are coming on October 4. Probably.

If VR's your thing, Sony's PlayStation VR appears to be threading the needle between the accessible and affordable options that lack power (Samsung Gear VR) and the super powerful versions that demand an expensive PC to even function (HTC Vive, Oculus Rift). You might have heard of Sony — they've been doing the whole console gaming thing for a few years now — so it's no surprise that PlayStation VR has an impressive list of games lined up for launch.

Which smartphone camera do YOU think is the best?

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3 days ago

From the Editor's Desk: How to launch a smartphone

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It's okay, and entirely expected, to be frustrated by cumbersome phone launches — but some perspective on what's happening can be helpful.

Launching a smartphone is difficult. Even if you think you understand how difficult it is, it's far more difficult still. When you're a small company you have a certain set of problems, usually limited by money and scale of distribution; but if you're big, you have an exponentially larger customer base to serve and the issues associated with the momentum of a huge company.

In the past couple of weeks we've seen a range of issues come front and center before consumers. On one hand, we have the Note 7 — it hit the market swiftly with carrier and retailer support, but had a critical battery flaw that required weeks of backtracking and recalls. Then we have Moto and Sony, which both just launched unlocked phones in the U.S. for what most are calling "too high" $699 prices — bonus round of fail is Moto is launching unlocked nearly four months later than its Verizon Droid Editions (which themselves launched over a month after announce). And finally we have the LG V20, which was unveiled three weeks ago now and we've yet to see even a peep of pricing, availability or pre-orders from the U.S. carriers — and no indication whatsover that it's coming to Europe.

When launching a phone, stumbles are almost inevitable.

The point here is that no matter how big or small the company is, the process of creating and launching a phone while hitting every last point to a T is near impossible. And even when you think you've really nailed it, something happens in the open market that can torpedo the plans. There are so many moving parts, whether it's manufacturing, distribution, carrier partnerships, pricing quibbles with the accounting department or a problem with a supplier. Something inevitably has to give, and there are compromises made throughout the process.

We hold these companies to extremely high standards, and rightfully so — they're asking for a lot of our money, loyalty and patience when launching new products. But if we take a minute to consider just how many balls are up in the air at any given time for a phone launch, it can help us understand what's happening while we're frustrated that our next phone costs $700, is launching two months late and is missing a key feature.

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3 days ago

Pokémon Go updates: Everything you need to know

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There's a new Pokemon Go update. Here's what you need to know!

Pokémon Go updates aren't common, but they are a big deal. Here's what you need to know about each major one!


Update, September 10: Added information about version 0.37.0 with the new Appraisal system!

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3 days ago

Hiroshi Lockheimer is on the Pixel hype train

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OK, we get it. As the SVP of Android, Chrome and Google Play Lockheimer should be amped about the things to come. We'd go as far as saying that's his job. So what makes this particular time a company executive praising his products worth talking about?

He's comparing the coming Pixel phones (all but confirmed to be coming on October 4) to Android's debut with the T-Mobile G1. And he's doing it in front of all the die-hard Android nerds who are going to hold him to it.

We have limited information about what's in store come October. We gather that the rebranding of Google's Nexus line with the Pixel name means a more active involvement from Google in all areas — from design and software to advertising and support. Think of them as HTC phones made for someone else like HTC used to do for HP and Palm — yes, your old Treo 650 was made by HTC. This means Google is the company who will see these phones succeed or fail. And Lockheimer is betting on success.

We have to wait a few more weeks to see the Pixel phones for ourselves. And we'll have to wait even longer to say anything about their success. In the meantime, we'll take all the teasing you care to give us, Hiroshi.

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4 days ago

MrMobile Retro Review: Looking back at the Nokia N-Gage

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In 2003, Nokia declared war on Nintendo with the N-Gage, a Game Boy Advance lookalike with a Series 60 mobile phone inside. The conflict – to put it mildly – did not go in Nokia's favor. With a cumbersome design that required the owner to remove the battery in order to change games, the N-Gage wasn't exactly user-friendly, and with only a handful of available titles compared to the Game Boy Advance's 1,200, the N-Gage ecosystem hardly justified the device's $299 asking price. Worse still: the phone's earpiece was mounted on its spine, making for a bizarre look and feel when it came to voice calls and leading to the unfortunate nickname "Taco Phone."

Needless to say, Nokia's N-Gage experiment did not go well. The company launched a sequel (the N-Gage QD) in 2004 and eventually repositioned N-Gage as a gaming platform that spanned its Symbian smartphone line, but it never gained the traction Nokia sought and the brand was shuttered in 2010.

Today, the original N-Gage is a monument to the days when new form factors flooded a nascent mobile market, and a still-dominant Nokia led the charge to pack ever more functionality into the humble cell phone. Join MrMobile for the Nokia N-Gage Retro Review – and if you owned one of these (or even if you just wanted one) drop a comment below with your story!

Gettin' social with it!

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4 days ago

Android and chill: Nougat and the root question

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Android is safer than ever for the people who want (and need) it to be safe. We should be happy about that.

There's some talk about Pixel phones and root — specifically that it's not working with any of the existing methods. All the nuts and bolts are at XDA — excellent job on that Mishaal — for those who want to dig deeper into the how and why, but I want to just talk about what it means for us.

And why it's a really good thing. Before you grab your torches and teach me a lesson for thinking it's good that we can't root a Pixel phone, hear me out. I think you'll agree when we're finished.

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4 days ago

Samsung Galaxy S8 reportedly using powerful new GPU

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Samsung phones sign

ARM Mali-G71 could provide the power for a 4K display and enhanced VR.

Rumors of a 4K display in the upcoming Samsung Galaxy S8 have been swirling for some time, with a super-dense display offering a significantly upgraded VR experience in next year's flagship. And now it's reported that Samsung could use ARM's most powerful GPU yet in its next Exynos processors.

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