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2 days ago

Is your Pixel randomly shutting off Bluetooth? You're not alone

37

My Pixel's got the Bluetooth Bug Blues...

The Google Pixel has been a bit buggy after this month's February update, and Google has identified a fix for one of the more noticeable ones: your Bluetooth randomly shutting itself off. Listed in the Pixel's Product forum, community leaders say that a fix has been identified and that it will be pushed out in a coming release, hopefully alongside the March security update.

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2 days ago

Our new forums are here!

15

We've redesigned our Forums to make them more accessible to more users — all while maintaining what made them great for our seasoned community members to start!

We want more people reading and engaging with the great content that is being produced in our Forums. Here is an overview of some of the biggest changes - a big thank you to Gio Martinez in particular for absolutely crushing it in coding these new designs, and to our community for helping us with feedback throughout - more on that later.

Speed

In our tests we see a 35% boost in how fast the pages load with the new templates. This was one of the most important aspects of the redesign and something we will continue to improve on. Sometimes we still see badly behaving ad units that slow things down and while we try to tackle this they appear — it's often like a game of whack-a-mole, but we're doing everything we can on our end to make our codebase as quick as possible.

Clarity

More than 80% of our Forum traffic comes from Google, and to be frank, a user coming into the forums blindly for search wouldn't have a good experience. We saw issues with how far you had to scroll to see the content you came for and a lack of visual queues telling you this was a conversation.

Hierarchy

In the old forums everything had the same 'weight' and demanded the same amount of attention. In our new design we have a clear idea about what we want to stand out and what can be in the background. This means that some actions that were previously exposed and very clear to the experienced VB user are now slightly more hidden.

Our priority — what we want a visitor to immediately grasp — is that they are in the right place (Forum Thread Title) and that this is a conversation (Avatar + Post that looks like a message). Everything else can take a back seat.

Recognition

Our forums are built off of VBulletin, a long-standing software that underpins many other large and popular communities. The problem is that the base styling, which we also had based our old interface on, was also old and long-standing. The old-school style of forums is no longer the only way that people engage in serious conversations online. The kind of discussions we see in our Forums also happen in Facebook comment threads, Quora, Twitter replies, and a host of other group messaging apps. It made sense for us to at least visually move towards the look and feel of these hugely popular platforms — they're not just modern, they're simplified from the masses of forum controls in a very smart way.

By the Community

This has been the most extensive user testing we've ever done and we believe it's paid off. Since late November 2016 a group of select Forum users have been giving us nonstop feedback through slack — a BIG thank you to all of you! In late December we also opened up access to volunteers who have been helping us out with additional feedback in this forum thread.

I seriously cannot stress enough how important this feedback process has been — it's the best decision we've ever made.

Dark Theme

Sorry it took us so long! Enough said :)

You can find the Dark Theme inside Your Menu at the very bottom right - hidden away behind a moon icon like a little Easter egg.

Mobile with all the Trimmings

We wanted you to have all the same tools you enjoy on the desktop while using a mobile phone. This also means our Moderators and Ambassadors have the ability to do their work more easily on the go than before.

Small tweaks and Fixes everywhere

In addition to the huge overall changes we've made a bunch of smaller changes throughout the forums. You might not notice them for a while, and many are back-end tools that will make life easier for our volunteer Moderators. It's been a big project for us and we are really happy with the attention to detail it forced upon us. We are suitably humbled by the complexity of doing any changes to a tool many of you spend hours in every day.

Lastly, we fully expect there to be more issues and for our members to have better ideas than we have on how to improve the Forums. Please engage in the conversation over here in this forum thread — we really want your feedback, good and bad, so that we can continue to improve these forums for you.

Thank you!

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2 days ago

Pick up an unlocked Moto Z at Best Buy for just $449 today only!

9

Our friends at Thrifter are back with another great deal, this time saving you $250 on a Moto Z at Best Buy!

Best Buy's Deal of the Day scores you an unlocked Moto Z for just $449, which is a savings of $250 from the regular price. This brings it down to the same price you'd normally pay for a Moto Z Play, but allows you to grab the model with higher specs instead. The Moto Z is powered by a Snapdragon 820 processor that is paired with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of internal storage. Inside, you'll find a 2600mAh battery that recharges via USB-C.

One of the big appeals of the Moto Z line is the Moto Mods, which allow you to add a battery pack, speakers, a projector and more to the back with ease. This deal is only good for today, February 24, so don't wait too long to make your purchase or you'll be stuck paying the full price!

See at Best Buy

For more great deals on tech, gadgets, home goods and more, be sure to check out our friends at Thrifter now!

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2 days ago

How to accessorize your Black Onyx Galaxy S7

3

Black is always in style.

The Samsung Galaxy S7 looks absolutely gorgeous in black. Like really good. So good, you may want to make sure that all your accessories for it match.

So we've collected our favorite accessories that'll not only look smashing alongside your black Galaxy S7 but also add a ton of added functionality for your phone. Let's dive right in!

Samsung Gear VR

While the best VR experience is still to be had with the HTC Vive or Oculus Rift, Samsung is arguably leading the mobile VR sector with the Samsung Gear VR. This updated headset is designed to work with the Samsung Galaxy S7 along with USB-C devices such as the now-defunct Note 7. The 2016 edition is all-black, which fits perfectly with accessories that match your black S7.

Virtual Reality is an entirely subjective experience, and it's possible that VR is just not your bag. But if you've got the itch to dive right in and see what VR has to offer, the Samsung Gear VR is a great entry point. Available for well under $100, it's the best value for VR you'll find. And make sure to check in with our pals over at VRHeads.com, who have a growing list of the best games for the Samsung Gear VR. You're definitely going to want to invest in a few games to show this thing off to friends and family.

See at Amazon

Samsung Wireless Charging Pack

There are a number of great external battery packs that'll work great with your Samsung Galaxy S7, but carrying around a separate accessory and cable to keep your phone charged is cumbersome.

The Samsung Wireless Charging Pack is a case that not only offers basic protection from your phone from drops but will also help keep your battery topped up throughout the day with an extra 3,100mAh of extra power available via wireless charging, which also leaves your ports at the bottom of the phone completely open. Buying a battery case can be tricky because they often add a ton of extra bulk to your phone. That's not an issue here, as Samsung has designed perhaps the slimmest battery pack you'll find. It's also available in black, of course.

See at Amazon


Samsung S-View Flip Case

When it comes to cases for your phone, you got options — like a ton of great case options depending on your needs. But in keeping with our theme of accessorizing your black Galaxy S7, we got to give the nod to this proprietary case from Samsung that offers a bunch of added functionality that will keep your phone protected yet accessible at all times.

Using the Samsung ID chip, your phone knows when the case is closed and will display specific information that can be viewed through the frosted front of the case and will allow you to interact with the phone through it. This lets you cool things like answer calls without having to flip the front cover open. Your phone snaps in quick and easy into the hard plastic back plate, which also features extra protection in the corners — a particularly vulnerable area for your phone to fall. You can get yours in black to match your phone.

See at Amazon


Spigen Style Ring (black)

This one is always a somewhat contentious accessory pick because not everyone is down with adding a mounted hook on the back of your expensive phone. We get that. But, the Spigen Style Ring is seriously one of those accessories that will not only grow on you with time, you'll absolutely come to rely on the added functionality it provides.

It works as a kickstand for hands-free viewing, includes a very handy mount to install in your car for hands-free calls and directions as you drive, and also comes in real handy when inserting and removing your phone from your Samsung Gear VR. It comes available in multiple different colors and is fairly painless to remove without leaving any marks or residue on the back of your phone. It will impede with some NFC functionality and wireless charging, so if those are important features for you, then you're best off slapping it on the back of a case instead. It's just a super versatile accessory that seems unconventional at first but becomes essential in short time.

See at Amazon

Samsung Wireless Charging Pad

This wireless charging pad from Samsung is a great accessory for your black Galaxy S7 for a number of reasons; it'll charge your phone faster than any other QI wireless charging pad, you don't need to worry about plugging or unplugging your phone at your desk and, perhaps most important of all, it lets you show off your beautiful phone to all your office mates.

This is an upgrade over Samsung's older wireless charging pad, which laid flat on your desk. Having your phone tilted up at a 45-degree angle lets you easily keep tabs on notifications and incoming calls while offering a bigger charging surface and a grippier rubber surface to keep your phone in place. AC's Andrew Martonik summed it up quite well in his official review:

"Combine the easier positioning with the subtle improvements in the charging status LED, while also keeping the same fast wireless charging tech inside, and this is quite easily the best wireless charger that Samsung has ever made."

See at Amazon

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2 days ago

How to enable VR for Elite: Dangerous

Are you ready to sit in your favorite ship?

One of the greatest things about Elite: Dangerous is the ability to set your own pace and theme. If you want to wander around and explore the stars, occasionally delivering packages to pay for upgrades to your ship, you can do that with no problem. If you want to fly around and show everyone just how great a bounty hunter you are, leaving wrecked ships in your wake as you sail, you have everything you need. As the player, you get to choose your experience, which is awesome.

You also have some control over the level of immersion you have in the game. You can play on a laptop in a coffee shop with a gamepad, at a wide screen desktop with flight sticks, or dive fully into a VR rig and have everything move with your head. Here's a quick guide on how to enable that last part!

Read more at VR Heads!

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2 days ago

Nintendo Switch Protip — Get discounts on game pre-orders!

15

Save yourself some cash and plan out your Nintendo Switch games.

Not everyone likes pre-ordering games, especially launch games for a new console. Many people wait for game reviews to decide whether they want to participate in the excitement, and those aren't always available as the first wave of games come out for a new console.

If you're already planning to get a Nintendo Switch, and you know you're going to want at least one or two of the games, you should pre-order those games now. Even if you aren't planning on getting the console the day it is available to everyone, pre-ordering Nintendo Switch games will save you a considerable amount of money.

Amazon pre-orders

Did you know everyone with an Amazon Prime subscription gets 20% off the cost of a game when you pre-order through Amazon? It's a feature Amazon has offered for a while now, but it's not something you see on the site unless you go to a specific game and look at the final price.

Under the listed price of the game, you'll see a Prime Savings flag. That tells you the price at checkout, which is 20% lower than the listed price. For Nintendo Switch games, it means the $59.96 price tag is lowered to $47.99.

Even if you don't think that's a huge savings for a single game, when you add up the savings across the new Legend of Zelda, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, Splatoon 2, and that crazy new ARMS punching game you almost have a free game in savings!

Best Buy Gamers Club Unlocked

The gaming service at Best Buy has offered exclusive rewards certificates and points towards discounts from every purchase for a while now, but the $30 every two years upgrade to that service quickly pays for itself when a new console is launched.

The Gamers Club Unlocked subscription gives you 20% off pre-orders for any games, 20% off the e-guides for those games, and a 10% increase on your trade-in value if you decide you're done with the games you currently have.

Best Buy includes a sign-up form on its website, and if you've never had an Unlocked subscription before you get special coupons towards your first purchase as a thanks you for joining. Not only is this great for your wallet now, but the points you earn on purchases can be used to take the price down on your next console as well!

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2 days ago

WhatsApp now has 200 million users in India

3

WhatsApp has conquered the Indian messaging market.

WhatsApp usage is ubiquitous in India, and the latest numbers back it up. The Facebook-owned messaging platform has crossed 200 million users from the subcontinent, a drastic uptick from the 160 million it boasted just three months ago.

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2 days ago

Access geo-restricted content from anywhere with this lifetime subscription for just $39

Ever go to watch a show or stream music only to find out that it isn't available where you live? There is nothing worse, right? Whether it is something on HBO that you want to check out, or some music you want to stream on Pandora, not being able to access it because it is only available in a different country is completely annoying. There are ways around it, but some are difficult, and others are expensive. It doesn't have to be this way though!

Get a lifetime subscription now! Learn More

Meet Unblock All, one of the easiest ways to access geo-restricted services from anywhere. Whether the Netflix content you want isn't available by you, or Pandora isn't accessible, with Unblock All you'll be able to gain access. You can change your location from Canada to the UK, or Australia to the U.S. all with just one click.

Some of the other features include:

  • Access blocked content from anywhere in the world
  • Change your location to the US, Canada, UK, or Australia w/ one click
  • Browse faster than w/ a VPN or Proxy thanks to no traffic limits & equal security
  • Use on an unlimited amount of devices

Save 81% right now! Learn More

Normally a lifetime license to the service would run around $215, but right now you can pay much less than that. For just $39 you can get the lifetime of access, or if you just want to check it out for a year, you can for only $19. If you want to access content that isn't normally available in your area, you'll want to check out Unblock All now!

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2 days ago

The downsides to using an 'alternative' carrier

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Beware of things that seem great "for the price".

The company that provides your cellular service has a single goal in mind — to make money. Achieving that goal in 2017 means offering features you want at a price you are willing to pay, and guaranteeing a certain quality level to that service. Some of us pay more for that guarantee, or more for an increased capacity to enjoy wireless service, but for the most part the US cellular market is fairly static. Those of us paying close attention to relatively small changes in service get excited by the theater of competitive marketing, but overall the "big four" have been mostly the same for years.

This is why there are frequently pockets of excitement surrounding "alternative" carriers. Sometimes we call them pre-paid providers, sometimes we call them MVNOs, but they're all basically the same thing. These alternatives are exercises in securing users willing to sacrifice features for a lower monthly rate, but in recent years the marketing around these companies has become so good it's often difficult to see what features you are losing.

How these 'alternatives' work

When land line telephones were in their infancy, service providers would sell more lines than they could support in an area. It was highly unlikely that everyone would pick up the phone at the same time to make a call, so there was always part of the network left unused. In selling a fraction of those unused lines, the phone company could make more money without expanding service.

Just like everything else, read the fine print first.

A similar technique is used in the cellular world today. Many people pay the "big four" for more than they actually use, either as a way of ensuring there's never a surprise overage fee at the end of the month or because a lower alternative isn't available. This means there's a portion of the network almost never being used, even when selling over the theoretical capacity. This leftover network is sold as a bulk service to a Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO for short) which turns around and sells this service just a hair above the cost of the bulk rate offered by the carrier.

The benefit to users is clear. It's a noticeably cheaper cellular service that can claim to be "just as good" most of the time, and for people on strict budgets or those who view cellular service as a luxury it's a good way to save money. This smaller company makes a reasonable profit from reselling leftover network, and the host company makes a reasonable profit with almost no additional work on its end. Everyone wins, at least in theory.

What you sacrifice for that lower rate

There's gotta be a catch, right? There's always a catch. With MVNOs, the catch is all in the quality of service. That can mean a couple of different things, and each of them are important to consider when choosing whether it's actually worth it to spend less.

For starters, the service you get from an MVNO is never "just as good" as the host service. The alternative option will almost always be slightly slower when using the 4G LTE, and in many cases the performance difference is more than just a 1-2mbps difference. The host carrier will always prioritize the service of their regular customers over the other users on the network, because they're paying for the privilege.

The prioritization also happens when the network is completely saturated, which doesn't happen terribly often in most places. Your cellular network is usually only fully loaded when a tremendous amount of people in a single unplanned place start using their phone all at once. For example, if a natural disaster occurs and suddenly everyone is making calls and broadcasting video streams all at once, the host network is designed to ensure its primary customers have service no matter what. The same can not be said of your average MVNO. In fact, most of these budget service providers include this clause in the Terms of Service:

WE MAY LIMIT, THROTTLE, SUSPEND OR TERMINATE YOUR SERVICE OR AGREEMENT WITHOUT NOTICE AT ANY TIME AND FOR ANY REASON

For anyone using cell service as their one and only phone line, that kind of planned instability invites catastrophe. But the specter of what might happen isn't as concerning as not being able to hold the company responsible for failing to deliver the service promised in the advertising. If you call Verizon Wireless after an outage, you can ask for a credit for the time you were not able to use your service. If you call an MVNO and ask for the same, you will frequently be reminded of the section of Terms and Conditions that reads:

You agree we are not liable for problems relating to Service availability or quality.

Which brings us to the final problem with 'alternative' carriers — good old fashioned customer service. The whole point of an MVNO is to be able to offer you discounted service because the operating costs are much lower, and that includes customer service. The "big four" are available to you 24/7/365, usually through phone and email and even text chat on each of the websites. In some cases, you can even get support through Twitter and Facebook. You won't find the same level of support through an alternative carrier, because it's expensive to offer that level of support all the time.

Budget carriers can be expensive in other ways

As long as you know what you're getting into when you sign up for service, there's nothing wrong with saving money by going with a cheaper service provider. There are plenty of perfectly valid reasons to need or want to save money on your phone bill, and many of these alternative carriers offer that ability to save as the primary feature.

Just like everything else, read the fine print first. You always give up something when switching from a company that manages its own network to a company that resells a product as its own, and in most cases the cheaper you go the more you give up. If you're using that service as your only way to communicate with the rest of the world, giving up the guarantee that you'll even have service when you need it can be a real hassle.

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2 days ago

How to clean your PlayStation 4 console

15

Keeping your console clean is mandatory for the best gaming experience!

Your PlayStation 4 is a behemoth when it comes to delivering awesome games, movies, and even VR content. However, you may start to notice some slow down if you let dust build up over time, and nobody wants that. To keep your console running as efficiently as possible, you definitely need to keep it clean. Thankfully this is an easy task that should only take about 10 minutes of your time.

Compressed Air

The first thing that you want to do while cleaning your system is to go ahead and grab a can of compressed air. Your PlayStation 4 is covered with vents located at the front, sides, and back of the system, and these have a tendency to get absolutely covered in dust. To take care of this all that you need to do is go ahead and point the nozzle of the can at those vents, and then spray in short measured bursts. You ought to see the dust clear out of all the vents very quickly, and since PlayStation 4 consoles are black it's easy to see where the dust has evacuated the system.

Now when you're using compressed air you want to keep the nozzle a fair few inches away from the system so that the dust can escape properly. Likewise, you want to ensure that you hit all the vents on the system so you don't miss built up dust somewhere. By cleaning out all of the vents, you're ensuring the system is able to expel excess heat which helps reduce strain on the internal components.

PS4 in need of a good dusting? You can order a two-pack of compressed air via Amazon.

See at Amazon

Microfiber Cloth

Now if your system frequently turns gray with dust, you might be tempted to hit it with a wet wipe of some kind. Do not, we repeat, do not do that. You never want to introduce any kind of moisture to the system. Instead what you'll want to use is a microfiber cloth. Using the cloth you'll want to wipe the entire system down. This includes the top, sides, front, and back. Depending on how you have your console set up, wiping down the bottom isn't a bad call either. Depending on how much dust you are dealing with you may need to clean the cloth off a few times, but the shiny black of a clean console is very easy to differentiate. You can stock up on microfibre clothes for cheap with this Amazon Basics 24-pack.

See at Amazon

Cleaning your Dualshock 4 controllers

Much like your system, if your controllers sit on a rack all day long they are going to accumulate dust. All that you need to do is go ahead and use a cleaning cloth to wipe down the controller. While wet wipes are still a general no-no, they can be used on the controller so long as you are avoiding the headphone jack, and charge port. When wiping down the controller you'll want to pay special attention to all of the buttons, the analog sticks, and the light bar at the back of the controller.

Specifically, you want to ensure theres no dust or grime blocking that light bar, especially if you are playing PlayStation VR games, since the camera needs to be able to properly see that light bar. Likewise, nobody wants to use a controller with sticky buttons caused by dust or debris. If that's exactly what you're dealing with, your best bet is to turn off the controller and then use a wet wipe to clean away the dust and grime. This can also be particularly handy for those times when you can't actually see what is causing a button of analog stick to get stuck. Just ensure that the controller has plenty of time to dry out before use, and limit the amount of moisture as much as possible to avoid damage.

Cleaning your PlayStation Move controllers

The first thing that you want to do is pick your compressed air back up. With controlled bursts, spray all of the ports and crevices on the controller to make sure there isn't any dust hiding in a sneaky spot. From there, all you need to do is go ahead and wipe down the rest of the controller with a microfiber cloth. If there is any sticky residue, use a slightly damp paper towel or wet wipe while avoiding all ports.

If you have a pair of Move controller that you want to bust out, but that are particularly dusty, there are a few things to remember. The PlayStation camera reads Move controllers by tracking the lights in the bulb of each controller, so you want to ensure that they are as clean of dust and debris as possible. Likewise, cleaning out the ports, and around the button ensures that you won't get distracted while playing a game.

Tips

It's basically impossible to keep your system entirely clear of dust, but there are a few things that you can do to help minimize the amount of dust or debris you need to clean. Just keep in mind that the PlayStation 4 console is essentially a dust magnet thanks to that shiny black exterior.

  • Keep it away from pets: If you have dogs or cats, try to keep the console as far from the floor as possible so that animal hair isn't getting stuck on your system.
  • Avoid glass entertainment centers: Glass already has a tendency to attract dust, so if you set up your PS4 on a glass entertainment center you can expect your system to need a good cleaning about once a week or so. You can set your system in vertical orientation or invest in a dust cover to help keep the dust to a minimum.
  • Don't smoke in the house: Cigarette smoke causes faster dirt accumulation, and this definitely includes your console.

Conclusion

PlayStation 4 consoles are going to get dirty; it doesn't matter if they are sitting up on a shelf or hanging out on the entertainment center. What matters is knowing how to properly clean it up and get it back up and running in tip-top shape after it's gone gray with dust. Armed with just a microfiber cloth and some compressed air, you can easily dispatch the army of dust bunnies that has taken up residence on your console and its controllers. Do you have a particular tip for cleaning your system? Is there something we missed? Be sure to drop us a comment below and tell us about it!

PlayStation 4

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2 days ago

Samsung's Secure Folder creates a private space for your apps and files

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Samsung's Secure Folder is now available for the Galaxy S7 and S7 edge.

Samsung has officially released the Secure Folder app for the Galaxy S7 and S7 edge on the Galaxy Apps store. Secure Folder relies on Samsung's Knox security platform to set up a secure encrypted zone on your phone. Anything you store in the Secure Folder — apps, files, documents, or images — will be hidden behind an added layer of authentication, which can be accessed by a PIN, pattern lock, passcode, or biometric verification.

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2 days ago

Google pushes RCS forward by rebranding Messenger to Android Messages

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Google wants its messaging app to be the default texting platform in the age of RCS.

Google Messenger has picked up an update that renames the app to Android Messages. The core functionality is still the same, and barring the name change, the update doesn't bring any new features to the messaging app. However, the app will now be installed on default on handsets from over 20 phone makers as Google pushes ahead with RCS.

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2 days ago

Android Central 325: The MWC preview event!

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Audio-only stream below

Three events for the price of one!

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2 days ago

LeEco is finally adding an app drawer to the Le Pro3 and Le S3

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Upcoming EUI update will bring new features to LeEco's phones in the U.S.

LeEco has announced that an upcoming update to its EUI user interface will bring an app drawer to the Le Pro3 and the Le S3. The update will add the app drawer icon to the middle of the dock, moving the Live entertainment app — which lets you access LeEco's content offerings — to the right.

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2 days ago

LG X Power2 is a phone with boring specs and a huge battery

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LG continues to focus on just one feature and ignore everything else in its X series.

LG has introduced the successor to the X Power, and like last year's handset, the X Power2 has a huge battery and not much else going for it. The phone sports a 5.5-inch 720p display, 1.5GHz octa-core CPU, 2GB of RAM (1.5GB in select markets), 16GB storage, microSD slot, 13MP rear camera, 5MP front shooter, and a 4500mAh battery that LG claims will last "an entire weekend without recharging."

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