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4 days ago

Best Android Phones with Expandable Memory

Update, 14 February 2017: Our top pick remains unchanged. The Galaxy S7 edge is the phone to get if you want a high-end phone with a microSD slot. We removed BLU's $100 R1 HD, and slotted in the Honor 6X in place of the Moto G4. The Huawei Mate 9 also makes its debut on this list.

Best overall

Samsung Galaxy S7 edge

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

The Galaxy S7 edge is the total package. The phone features a stunning metal-and-glass exterior backed by an excellent 5.5-inch display. The dual curved display is easily one of the best you'll find on a phone, and differentiates the S7 edge from the pack. The handset is powered by Qualcomm's beastly Snapdragon 820 SoC, and offers 4GB of RAM along with 32GB storage. The 12MP camera is outstanding, and the 3600mAh battery ensures you get at least a day's worth of usage from a full charge.

Best of all, Samsung reintroduced the microSD slot after leaving it out on the Galaxy S6 series. The phone accommodates microSD cards up to 256GB, which should be more than sufficient for all your movie or music needs. If all that isn't enough, the S7 edge is water resistant with an IP68 rating.

Bottom line: The Samsung Galaxy S7 edge is one of the best smartphones you can currently buy.

One more thing: If you don't want to be tied down to a contract, Samsung has started selling the S7 edge unlocked in the U.S. The unlocked model has global LTE bands, making it compatible with several carriers overseas.

Why the Galaxy S7 edge is the best

A gorgeous phone loaded with features.

Samsung was criticised in years past for launching boring phones, but the manufacturer responded magnificently with the Galaxy S6 and S6 edge. The Galaxy S7 edge is an evolution of that industrial design, with the phone featuring rounded edges and a curved back to go along with the dual curved display, allowing it to nestle comfortably in your hand.

The 5.5-inch QHD Super AMOLED display is one of the best in the business, offering deep blacks and excellent contrast levels. Then there's the microSD card, which allows you to store up to 256GB, more than enough to take your media collection along. Samsung decided to not incorporate Marshmallow's Adoptable Storage feature, which treats an SD card volume like internal storage. Instead, when you insert an SD card into the S7 edge, it is mounted as a separate volume.

Samsung is known to throw in gimmicky features (Air View, anyone?), but this time around the South Korean manufacturer has shown restraint and focused on utilities customers will actually end up using. Water resistance is one such feature. The S7 edge is dust-proof, and the IP68 certification allows the phone to be submerged in up to 1.5 meters (5 feet) of water for 30 minutes without any issues.

Talking about software, Samsung has been proactive in rolling out monthly software patches. The phone has picked up the Nougat update in several regions around the world.

The 3600mAh battery lasts a day even on heavy usage, and on occasions when you need a quick top-up, you can rely on Samsung's Adaptive Fast Charging. The phone also offers wireless charging, and is compatible with both Qi and Powermat charging standards.

Phablet-sized

Huawei Mate 9

See at Amazon

Huawei's Mate 9 is one of the most feature-rich phablets available today. The fact that it's available unlocked for $599 makes it that much more attractive. The 5.9-inch Full HD display has excellent contrast and brightness levels, and what it lacks in resolution it makes up in sunlight legibility. The phone is powered by Huawei's latest Kirin 960 SoC with four Cortex A73 cores, and it offers 4GB of RAM, 64GB storage, and a 4000mAh battery. The microSD slot lets you slot in memory cards up to 256GB in size.

The standout feature on the Mate 9 is the Leica dual camera setup at the back, with a 12MP RGB sensor augmented by a 20MP monochrome sensor. The monochrome sensor adds fine detail to images while the RGB sensor adds color-related data. With both sensors working in conjunction, you get stunning photos from the camera on the Mate 9. The phone is also the first Huawei device to run the company's Nougat-based EMUI 5.0 out of the box.

Bottom line: For $599, the Mate 9 offers an enticing package with high-end internals, incredible camera, and all-day battery life.

One more thing: The Mate 9 is fully compatible with AT&T and T-Mobile, but it will not work on Verizon or Sprint.

With Adoptable Storage

HTC 10

See at Sprint See at Verizon See at Amazon See at HTC

HTC hasn't fared well in the high-end segment over the last two years, but the HTC 10 represents a return to form. The phone sports a gorgeous aluminum unibody design with a beveled chamfer that circles the back. The curved back ensures that the phone fits comfortably in your hand, and the 5.2-inch screen size allows for one-handed use. From a design standpoint, the HTC 10 is one of the best phones you can buy today.

The phone offers the latest internals. You'll find a Snapdragon 820 SoC under the hood, and there's 4GB of RAM and 32GB on-board storage. The 12MP camera is one of the best fielded by the company to date, and there's a 3000mAh battery with Quick Charge 3.0 that gives you a full day on a charge. The handset has a great DAC if you like listening to Hi-Fi audio from your phone. Coming to the software side of things, Sense 8 is one of the best manufacturer skins around. HTC has committed to rolling out the Nougat update to the HTC 10 in Q4 2016.

The HTC 10 also comes with a dedicated microSD slot that can accommodate SD cards up to 256GB. Unlike the S7 edge, the HTC 10 supports Marshmallow's Adoptable Storage, which allows you to reformat the external SD card storage and mount it as a part of the internal system storage. You'll be able to use the entire storage — 32GB internal and a possible 256GB with the SD card — as a unified volume, but the downside is that you won't be able to remove the SD card and use it for anything else.

Bottom line: The HTC 10 gets the basics right, and the fact that it is on sale for $549 makes it an enticing option.

One more thing: If you buy the phone direct from HTC, you get 12 months of HTC's Uh Oh Protection for free, which covers screen cracks, water damage, and switching carriers.

The mid-range option

ZTE Axon 7

See at Amazon

The ZTE Axon 7 is a standout phone in the mid-range segment. Available for $399, the phone offers a great 5.5-inch QHD display with minimal bezels, resulting in a compact size. You also get stereo speakers at the front, a 20MP ISOCELL camera and a fingerprint sensor at the back, and a 3250mAh battery that runs a day and a half. There's a decent DAC onboard as well if you're looking to listen to high-fidelity tunes on your phone.

Under the hood, the Axon 7 is running the Snapdragon 820 SoC, 4GB of RAM, 64GB storage, and a microSD slot that works with Adoptable Storage. The microSD slot can accommodate a 256GB card. On the software front, ZTE has started rolling out the Nougat update.

Bottom line: The Axon 7 is a compelling device in the mid-tier segment, and is worthy of your consideration.

One more thing: The Axon 7 comes with ZTE's Passport 2.0 protection plan in the U.S., which offers a two-year warranty against hardware defects.

Best budget pick

Honor 6X

See at Amazon

The Honor 6X doesn't feel like a budget phone in that it has a premium anodized aluminum chassis and dual cameras at the back. The internal hardware is also astonishingly good, with the phone featuring a 14nm Kirin 655 SoC, 3GB of RAM, 32GB storage, and a 3340mAh battery. The 5.5-inch Full HD display is one of the best in this segment, and the main 12MP camera at the back is joined by a 2MP secondary sensor that adds depth information to images, leading to a bokeh effect.

The Honor 6X has a hybrid dual-SIM card slot, which means that the secondary SIM card slot doubles up as a microSD slot. The phone made its debut with the older Marshmallow-based EMUI 4.1, but Honor has committed to rolling out the Nougat update to the phone in March.

Bottom line: The Honor 6X offers a lot of value for its $249 price tag.

One more thing: Like the Mate 9, the Honor 6X will not work on Verizon or Sprint.

Conclusion

If you want a phone that has expandable storage, the Galaxy S7 edge is still your best option. Featuring top-of-the-line hardware, a stunning metal and glass design, and one of the best cameras in this space, the Galaxy S7 edge has a lot in its favor. Water resistance and wireless charging make it an even more compelling choice. Add all that and throw in a microSD slot that supports up to 256GB of expandable storage and you'll find why the S7 edge is the most feature-rich Android phone around.

Best overall

Samsung Galaxy S7 edge

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

The Galaxy S7 edge is the total package. The phone features a stunning metal-and-glass exterior backed by an excellent 5.5-inch display. The dual curved display is easily one of the best you'll find on a phone, and differentiates the S7 edge from the pack. The handset is powered by Qualcomm's Snapdragon 820 SoC, and offers 4GB of RAM along with 32GB storage. The 12MP camera is outstanding, and the 3600mAh battery ensures you get at least a day's worth of usage from a full charge.

Best of all, Samsung re-introduced the microSD slot after leaving it out on the Galaxy S6 series. The phone accommodates microSD cards up to 256GB, which should be more than sufficient for all your movie or music needs. If all that isn't enough, the S7 edge is water resistant with an IP68 rating.

Bottom line: The Samsung Galaxy S7 edge is one of the best smartphones you can currently buy.

One more thing: If you don't want to be tied down to a contract, Samsung has started selling the S7 edge unlocked in the U.S. The unlocked model has global LTE bands, making it compatible with several carriers overseas.

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4 days ago

Samsung could reveal Galaxy S8 launch date at MWC

19

Samsung is likely to drop a few hints about the Galaxy S8 at MWC.

Samsung has already mentioned that it won't unveil the Galaxy S8 at this year's Mobile World Congress, with the official launch said to occur a month later — likely on March 29 — at an event in New York. A new report out of Korea suggests that Samsung will reveal the launch date for its upcoming flagship at its MWC event, which is being held on February 26.

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4 days ago

The top 3 things Xiaomi can do to win 2017

1

Xiaomi needs to embrace the offline market in 2017.

When Xiaomi burst onto the scene in 2012, it did so with little fanfare and zero reliance on advertising. The company was the first to understand the potential of online-only sales, and in the following four years, it would grow to dominate this field.

However, Xiaomi's competition has similarly latched onto online sales, and while the company still controls a majority of the mindshare in China and India — its two largest markets — it has seen its market share and sales numbers erode in 2016.

According to the latest IDC figures, Xiaomi managed to sell just 41.5 million smartphones in 2016 in China, a 36% decrease from the 64.9 million it sold in 2015. As a result, the company's market share in China went down from 15.1% in 2015 to 8.9% at the end of 2016.

Here's what the company needs to address this year to turn the tide.

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4 days ago

These Android phones support wireless charging

205
Wireless Charging

It's the feature you either have to have or don't care about at all.

Updated February, 2017: Removed older phones that are EOL and added current phones that support wireless charging.

Wireless charging has been around for a few years now, but sadly it hasn't become as widely adopted as we'd like. Our Micro-USB ports start to loosen and bend over time and being able to limit that wear and tear by using wireless charging would be a godsend, but due to the fight over wireless charging standards, most phones simply go without it. And while Qi and Powermat and the various companies backing them fight it out, smartphone users are left in the cold.

However, many popular phones are beginning to embrace wireless charging, and if that's something you're looking for in your next phone, here's a list of those lucky devices.

Note: All devices below support Qi charging. We will indicate support for AirFuel compatibility where applicable.

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4 days ago

BlackBerry's Notable app lets you quickly annotate screenshots

5

BlackBerry may not be making its smartphones anymore, but it's still producing productivity-focused apps.

To help extend the excitement of the forthcoming BlackBerry Mercury, the company has launched BlackBerry Notable for BlackBerry Hub+ users. The app allows you to annotate screenshots before opening them up in other applications, or you can start with a blank canvas. You can draw, add text, and make collages. It's a fairly simplistic app that looks and functions a bit like Google Keep. As an added bonus, you can program it to open up with a gesture or the press of a hardware shortcut key.

At present, the app is only available for BlackBerry device users, including the DTEK60, DTEK50, and the Priv. The company says the app will eventually come to other devices with a subscription to BlackBerry Hub+, but you don't have to wait: there are already plenty of apps in the Play Store that offer similar functionality.

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4 days ago

Facebook is launching a new app for Amazon Fire TV and Samsung Smart TVs

11

Facebook may be coming to a TV near you.

Facebook thinks you need more of its app in your life, so it's starting to roll out a new TV-centric app for set-top boxes like Amazon Fire TV, Samsung Smart TV, as well as the Apple TV.

This is all part of Facebook's evolving plans for its video platform, which was announced at the Code Media conference by Facebook's VP of Partnerships, Dan Rose. The conference is sponsored by Recode who first reported this news.

Rose described how Facebook imagined users might use this new Facebook app to catch up on all that Facebook content they missed during the day:

"A lot of people when they're watching video on News Feed during the day will save it for later because they don't have time to watch that three-minute video. Now it's easy to go on your TV if you want to do that at night."

The new app will begin launching over the next few weeks, and will offer Facebook users a new way to digest video content from their favorite content creators. As reported earlier by Recode, Facebook is also looking to pivot away from paying publishers from posting live video and instead encouraging content creators to post longer, premium video content.

While there's no denying that videos dominate the news feed these days, we're not sure if Facebook on TV is a top priority for most people. But we sure are curious to see how Facebook continues to develop its video content strategy moving forward. No word on when an Android TV version will hit, if ever.

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4 days ago

T-Mobile has a brilliant plan to stay ahead of Verizon's LTE network

107

T-Mobile has a plan to keep its LTE speed crown, and it involves Wi-Fi (sort of).

During its fourth quarter earnings call this week, T-Mobile's CTO Neville Ray brought up something that the company has been working on since 2015: LTA-U, which stands for Unlicensed.

Though T-Mobile is ostensibly tied with Verizon for best network in the U.S., beating it in speed in many markets while trailing in overall coverage, it said that it has no intentions to stop investing in its LTE network, which currently covers some 314 million Americans. In addition to continuing to roll out low-band 700Mhz spectrum in major markets like Chicago, San Francisco and New York City, T-Mobile intends to use unlicensed 5GHz spectrum to augment downlink speeds in more congested markets.

The initial call to action came all the way back in January 2015, but nothing has happened in the interim as the rollout of supported chipsets from Qualcomm, and devices from third-party manufacturers, have been held up by complaints to the FCC from various lobbying groups looking to prevent interference with existing Wi-Fi signals, which increasingly use that same 5GHz spectrum. But Ray said that the deployment of so-called Licensed Assisted Access (LAA) will happen in 2017 into 2018, and T-Mobile's customers, which are already disproportionally running LTE devices, stand to benefit greatly, and that the Wi-Fi interference problem is both overstated and likely to be overcome with cautious planning.

Presented without context, because T-Mobile.

Ray also brought up T-Mobile's proliferation of small cells in densely-populated markets as a way to alleviate congestion. The company has deployed over 1,000 small cells across the country, and plans to at least double that number in 2017, mainly to prepare for 5G — which is coming — but also to facilitate the transmission of those unlicensed 5GHz airwaves, which travel shorter distances than typical cellular signals.

T-Mobile's network advantage comes from pushing users to more spectrally efficient technologies before its competitors. Specifically, over 65% of the company's postpaid customers are completely off the 3G network, relying on LTE for both voice and data. He said that 70% of the company's entire spectrum allotment across Band 2, Band 12 and Band 66 uses LTE, and that will increase to 80% as it refarms existing 3G airspace. Of course, Verizon is not just sitting out of the unlicensed LTE space altogether, but like its rivals at AT&T and Sprint, it is at least a year behind deploying the technology to the public.

Over 65% of T-Mobile's postpaid customers are completely off the 3G network.

T-Mobile also said that, in light of its decision to allow T-Mobile One customers to stream HD video across its network, it would keep SD streaming as the default, and only anticipates a single-digit percentage of customers to actually enable the higher-bandwidth option.

For all of its bluster around T-Mobile One, zero-rating, net neutrality and undermining the competition, T-Mobile's network strategy appears to be as robust as any of its competitors. It was the only carrier in the Big Four to have year-over-year growth in wireless service revenue and postpaid net customer additions, and it believes that by emphasizing unlimited while rewarding customers that don't overrun the network — a recent "Uncarrier" announcement — it can continue to gain customers, add to the bottom line, and spur competition.

T-Mobile responds to Verizon's unlimited plan by rolling back its dumbest changes

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4 days ago

Best GPS trackers for kids

Best GPS trackers for kids

What are the best GPS trackers for kids?

Updated February, 2017: We removed the LG GizmoPal because it has been discontinued and added its successor the LG GizmoGadget.

It can be difficult to keep track of your children, and it can also be hard to gauge when it's appropriate to get them a cell phone or something a bit more mature in order to keep in contact with them.

GPS trackers are fantastic, potentially life-saving tools that help keep track of your little ones, so you won't have to worry about where they are. Just have them wear their GPS tracker like a watch, and the rest is up to your watchful eyes.

Here are a few great options to check out if you're looking for the best GPS trackers for your kids!

KOREX Waterproof Babysitter Smartwatch

KOREX Waterproof Babysitter Smartwatch

Waterproof, reliable, and programmed with real-time GPS tracking, the KOREX Waterproof Babysitter Smartwatch is a cost-efficient tracker to consider if you're looking for a wearable GPS device for your kids.

The KOREX comes with a plethora of features, including smooth two way talking, waterproofing, immediate SOS emergency alert, and a Smart Alarm for homework reminders, waking up in the morning, and more. The smart watch even comes with an Electric Fence feature in which parents will be notified if their children leave a specifically indicated secure area.

By using two tracking methods – GPS+LBS – parents are able to get a more accurate reading on precisely where their child may be. Parents can even use a remote listening option to simply hear where their child is to check up on them without being too intrusive.

The KOREX can be set up with up to 16 contacts, so your child will be able to get in touch with numerous people if something goes wrong, and if you're worried about a stranger reaching out to your child via the watch, the KOREX can only dial and receive calls from numbers already programmed into the device.

The GPS tracker comes in two different colors: baby pink and powder blue, and will only work with a SIM card that supports 2G Gaud-band.

See at Amazon

Tinitell

Tinitell

Stylish looking with a simple, modern design, the Tinitell GPS tracker is an innovative new smartband that worked effortlessly with an app from your smartphone.

Tinitell isn't only an interesting-looking, modern device, it's also an incredibly durable and resilient GPS tracker. Tinitell is designed to take some abuse, including splashing water and dirt (although the device itself isn't 100% waterproof by any means).

With your smartphone, you can connect and monitor your child with a precise GPS tracker, and you can even call your child using the Tinitell app. The smartband can have up to 12 contacts listed, so they never have to worry about being stranded without anyone to reach out to if they're in trouble. To make a call, all they have to do is press the front of the band, say the name of the person they'd like to contact, and that's it!

The Tinitell comes in four different, vibrant colors, including aqua, coral, charcoal, and indigo. You can use a Ting SIM card with your Tinitell for around $12 a month.

See at Tinitell

GBD-GPS Tracker Kids Smartwatch

GBD-GPS Tracker Kids Smartwatch

With all-day tracking, three-way positioning, and even an additional fitness tracker element, the GBD-GPS Tracker Kids Smartwatch aims to make monitoring your children as effortless (and as accurate!) as possible.

Using a micro-SIM card, the GBD-GPS tracker is not only able to make two-way calls, but also immediate SOS emergency calls if your child comes in contact with unexpected danger. While some GPS tracking devices use one or two ways of triangulating your child's location, the GBD-GPS uses GPS, AGPS, and LBS positioning to paint a more accurate picture of where your child may be.

The GBD tracker allows parents to erect an Electric Fence, giving your child boundaries that will set off an alarm on your smartphone if crossed. If need be, parents can also call their child on their smartwatch for easy two-way talking, and can even use the app to set remote alarms and reminders for their children.

The GBD-GPS comes in three neon colors, including blue, green, and bright pink, so there's a color option to match almost every child's favorites.

See at Amazon

LG GizmoGadget

If you're a Verizon Wireless customer and are looking for a tracker that will allow your child to use text and voice to check in with you, then the LG GizmoGadget is an excellent option.

The GizmoGadget sports a 1.3-inch touch screen display, but in order for your child to make a call, they will have to press the physical button, and then use the touch screen to choose a contact. The GizmoGadget also allows you to pre-program up to 9 different texts messages that your child can send to 10 whitelisted numbers.

PC Mag rated the LG GizmoGadget 4.5 out of 5 stars.

"The LG GizmoGadget is an excellent smartwatch for primary schoolers who need to stay in touch with their caregivers via voice and text."

The wearable also has a handful of other useful functions, including an activity tracker, a stopwatch, and a timer.

See at Verizon

dokiWatch

dokiWatch

Though the dokiWatch is designed for children 6 to 12, its sleek and modern looking design, high-quality, reliability, and wide range of color options make it a stylish (and incredibly practical) GPS tracker for people of all ages.

The dokiWatch claims that it's the world's most advanced 3G smartwatch for kids, and there's a lot to support that statement. The dokiWatch combines precise GPS, GSM, and Wi-Fi tracking technology with video call capabilities, voice calling, one-way text messages, fitness tracking, and so much more.

The smartwatch automatically uploads location data directly to your smartphone, meaning you'll never have to guess where your child is. Video and voice calling is almost instantaneous, while parents can remotely schedule their child's appointments and reminders from the dokiWatch's compatible app.

With the dokiWatch, children can send out SOS alerts if they're in immediate danger to their preset contacts, including their location and a recording of their surroundings. Parents can even enable Class Mode which will remove the distraction of the device while their child is in class by deactivating it at specific times.

See at Doki

What's your favorite?

Is there a GPS tracker you've been using that you're extremely happy with? Please let us know which model is your favorite in the comments and we'll be sure to check it out!

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4 days ago

Best Phone For Gamers

Update: As of February 2017, the Samsung Galaxy S7 is still the best phone for gamers. Moto Z Play is still the best for battery life, and the HTC 10 still has the best touch responsiveness.

Best overall

Samsung Galaxy S7

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

Samsung's 2016 flagship isn't just a great gaming phone right now, it's a stepping stone to being a great gaming platform in the future.

Featuring a brilliant 5.5-inch AMOLED display powered by a Snapdragon 820 chipset and 4GB of RAM, the S7 will have your games looking great and running smooth as butter no matter how much of a resource hog they happen to be. With 64GB of on-board storage and a dedicated microSD slot you should easily be able to load up all your favorite games. Not only will current games run will on this phone, but Samsung's decision to jump ahead of Google in supporting Vulkan APIs for higher quality gameplay means your phone will be among the first to user in a new wave of graphically superior mobile games.

On top of all the standard features that make the S7 an outstanding device, Samsung's software has built-in features that make gaming both fun and social. If you're a serious gamer, you'll definitely want to dive into the advanced settings and turn on the Game Launcher and Game Tools. They help to optimize the phone for gaming so you never feel bogged down or distracted from your game, and let you share that game with others through live streaming.

Bottom line: The Samsung Galaxy S7 was seemingly designed to be a gamer's best friend, from the top-tier hardware to its convenient software tools for gaming.

One more thing: The Samsung Galaxy S7 recently won our smartphone camera showdown, which means it's also amazing for Augmented Reality games!

Why the Samsung Galaxy S7 is the best

Gamer mode is a real gamechanger.

As we already mentioned, the Samsung Galaxy S7 has all physical components required to handle pretty much any game you toss at it. It delivers exactly what you'd expect from a top-of-the-line flagship device in 2016.

But what really separates the S7 from the rest of the pack is Samsung's two gaming features: Game Launcher and Game Tools.

Game Launcher compiles all the games on your phone into one place, allowing you to keep your home screen uncluttered while still having all your favorite games just a tap away. Admittedly it's nothing too earth-shattering, but it does include options for optimizing battery life and turning off distracting alerts during your game.

But the real hero is Game Tools, a discreet floating icon that pops up every time you launch a game. A quick tap of the Game Tools icon pops up with a host of important settings to improve your gaming session. Getting annoyed by all your notifications? You can quickly toggle a do not disturb mode that blocks all alerts for as long as you're in the game. Sick of accidentally touching the Back or Recent keys and being taken out of your game? You get a quick option to disable the Recent and Back keys. You're also able to use the menu to minimize the game, which keeps a floating icon on your screen so you can quickly check your messages or other notifications while your game stays running in the background.

If you're the type that likes to stream as you game, you get built-in screen recorder tools, which even allow you to use the front-facing camera and record commentary as you play, so you can share your favorite moments like a pro.

Best for battery life

Moto Z Play

See at Motorola

We've also dealt with the battery drain of extended gaming sessions when you're gaming on the go. There's nothing worse than getting all caught up in the heat of the action, only to have a low battery warning ruin things. If you suffer from battery anxiety when gaming off charger, the Moto Z Play Droid is the perfect device to alleviate that stress.

The latest in Motorola's modular lineup, the Moto Z Play comes with a massive 3,510 mAh battery that's optimized by a more efficient processor and a lower-resolution display. Granted this your display won't get quite as bright as other UHD displays, but the color calibration and viewing angles remain great. You'll definitely enjoy the outstanding extended battery life you'll get in exchange. When it's time to top up, you'll be able to give your phone up to 9 hours of charge in just 15 minutes with Motorola's TurboPower wall charger.

Still not enough power? Take advantage of the Moto Z Play's modular design and slap on the Incipio offGRID Power Pack and add an extra 2,260 mAh battery to your phone, along with charging efficiency and the added ability to wirelessly charge both the pack and your phone.

All this battery life business would be pointless if the Moto Z Play was a pain to use, but fortunately that's not the case. As AC's Daniel Bader wrote in his Moto Z Play preview, if you're a fan of the Motorola's past offerings — including their handy gesture and voice controls — you'll be happy to know they're all present in the Moto Z Play:

For anyone who has used a Motorola phone over the past three years, the software experience is a known quantity. [...] I like it because it's fast and fluid all the time, even with 3GB of RAM and a low-cost processor, and has truly useful add-ons that improve my life.

Bottom line: Starting at just over $400, the Moto Z Play is the perfect companion for the mobile gamer with battery anxiety.

One more thing: Other awesome Moto Mods available for the Moto Z Play include a JBL Soundboost speaker, Hassleblad True Zoom camera mod and the Moto InstaShare Projector.

Best for touch responsiveness

HTC 10

See at HTC

Serious gamers know that input lag is simply unacceptable. Any amount of lag can have a devastating effect whether it's a coming down to a photo finish, or a frantic deathmatch shootout. While traditional gaming allows for full controller customization (whether we're talking keyboard and mouse or controller), mobile gaming on a touch screen ultimately relies on the touch responsiveness of the sensors on the phone.

In that regard, there's no better phone than the HTC 10. With their 2016 flagship, HTC boasts the 10 has the lowest touch latency of any smartphone on the market — iPhones included. While that's not typically a frequently touted spec in 2016, it does make a difference for gaming.

Beyond touch responsiveness, as mentioned in our official review the HTC 10 is a fairly impressive phone that features outstanding high-definition audio output, a capable 12 megapixel camera, and fast performance thanks to the Quad-core 2.2 GHz Snapdragon 820 processor and 4GB RAM. It's all wrapped up in an aluminum unibody design with a curved back that's ergonomically designed to fit comfortably in your hand.

Bottom line: Never blame your poor performances on lag again with the super responsive HTC 10.

One more thing: The beautifully designed HTC 10 is available in three stylish colours: Carbon Gray, Glacier Silver, and Topaz Gold.

Conclusion

For the best Android gaming experience, look no further than the Galaxy S7. It's got all the top-end specs you need to any game in the Google Play Store at the highest settings, and that's not going to change anytime soon. If battery life is your biggest concern, the Moto Z Play is your best bet, especially with an optional Moto Mod to expand that battery life further. If you think lag is a real drag, the HTC 10's touch responsiveness is what you want.

Best overall

Samsung Galaxy S7

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

Samsung's 2016 flagship isn't just a great gaming phone right now, it's a stepping stone to being a great gaming platform in the future.

Featuring a brilliant 5.5-inch AMOLED display powered by a Snapdragon 820 chipset and 4GB of RAM, the S7 will have your games looking great and running smooth as butter no matter how much of a resource hog they happen to be. With 64GB of on-board storage and a dedicated microSD slot you should easily be able to load up all your favorite games. Not only will current games run will on this phone, but Samsung's decision to jump ahead of Google in supporting Vulkan APIs for higher quality gameplay means your phone will be among the first to user in a new wave of graphically superior mobile games.

On top of all the standard features that make the S7 an outstanding device, Samsung's software has built-in features that make gaming both fun and social. If you're a serious gamer, you'll definitely want to dive into the advanced settings and turn on the Game Launcher and Game Tools. They help to optimize the phone for gaming so you never feel bogged down or distracted from your game, and let you share that game with others through live streaming.

Bottom line: The Samsung Galaxy S7 was seemingly designed to be a gamer's best friend, from the top-tier hardware to its convenient software tools for gaming.

One more thing: The Samsung Galaxy S7 recently won our smartphone camera showdown, which means it's also amazing for Augmented Reality games!

Android Gaming

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5 days ago

Android Wear 2.0 has me itching to spend money on an LG smartwatch

75

New software and some shiny new watches from LG make Android Wear a little more interesting.

So, we've got a significant platform update for Android Wear and two carefully created watches to showcase it. It's overdue. Most anyone who is familiar will tell you that Android Wear was getting a little stale and needed a watchOS-level update to freshen things up. And I think that describes the new update pretty well — what was lacking in software was addressed and delivered without going overboard and trying something that just isn't ready. The new Google has grown up a bit and no longer throws everything into the air and later collects what works to keep.

Android Wear needed a refresh with the right features — not all the features.

Of course, the watches themselves dominate the stage because they are required to have everything the new update offers right now. That will change and we'll see fully working builds of Wear 2.0 come to last year's hardware, and some of them will even work well with it. Others will have the software shoehorned in and we'll wish they had never been updated at all. That's how this whole Android thing works, though to a much lesser extent on watches than phones. We'll worry about that when it happens, but for now, I want to talk about the LG Watch Style and LG Watch Sport.

Like most of you, I haven't been able to actually use either. That means there are going to be plenty of things I can't say because I don't know. But I did have the luxury of spending a week talking with Flo and Andrew and peppering them with questions and off-the-wall requests to build a mental checklist and see how they measured up to my wants — and to see if I even cared at all. I just could never find a reason to love Android Wear, and the few times it did make my life better wasn't enough to justify having one more thing here that needed to be charged every night.

That's changed, and I'm interested again. And not in the watch you think I would be interested in, and not for the reasons you might think, either. I'm really digging the LG Watch Style because to me, it looks good the way a watch should look good.

LG delivered exactly what they needed to deliver with the Watch Sport. It screams Wear 2.0.

I don't hate the Sport. In fact, I want to talk about it first. Google did exactly what so many people wanted them to do with Wear 2.0 and added standalone functionality and payment processing to the platform. Then LG looked over at Samsung and built it in the shape of a Galaxy Gear. There is zero shame in that. There are no unique ideas left and Samsung looked at countless Casio and Timex watches to make the Gear S2 and S3. I'm sure someone at Timex looked at something when they built the first Ironman watch. This is how a thing we like gets refined with each new model and, if left to continue, everything will look exactly the same. People clamoring for a round Apple Watch with a sweet sporty rubber strap don't want one because it would look like a Gear S3. They want one because they think it would be better for them. They'll probably get one eventually.

Feature-wise, the Sport ticks the right boxes, too. Standalone everything so you can set it up once then just be you and use it forever is what many of us were demanding. Use your GPS to find a Jamba Juice so you can pay for delicious drinks with your watch, then answer a phone call from your wrist so you can annoy everyone around you by yelling at your arm while they are trying to chill and slurp on a smoothie. We asked. LG delivered. And if you're not into it all, you don't have to use any of it (and can grab your smoothie and find somewhere else to drink it).

The Sport should be a successful product for LG. One they didn't lose money on and one we remember as being pretty good a couple years from now. And really, that's the best any company can hope for at this point.

But that Style. I think I'm going to get a Style.

It's not hard to figure out why, because I already said the one thing I wanted to see from all this new stuff — something that looks good. And the Style looks good to me. Titanium and black with an antique bell-style crown matches a couple watches I already have. With the right watch face — I'll make my own if I have to because Android Studio makes it so damn easy now — it will be something I want to wear on my wrist. Yeah, shallow, I know. I don't care and I like shiny things sometimes.

The LG Watch Style does what I want a watch to do and looks good while doing it.

I really do not care about the things the Style is missing. I'm sure I'm not the only one. I'll never go anywhere without my phone and everything I need is on my phone, including Android Pay. My watch really only needs to do two things — remind me what day of the week it is and tell the time. Both things my phone can also do, but reasons to justify buying a new watch that costs too much only because I like the way it looks. Wouldn't be the first time, as my wife would be quick to point out.

Again, this is first impression, off-the-cuff thinking. There's a good chance I'll get a Style and not like it or see something that makes me wish I had gone with something else or just not bought anything right now. That would also not be a first. I might even change my mind if I roll into a Best Buy and rub all over one. I'm in the same boat as most everyone else here.

And to be honest, it's kind of fun.

Android Wear

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5 days ago

Playing Elite: Dangerous on HTC Vive vs Oculus Rift

Upgrade your Elite: Dangerous experience with VR.

There are many ways you can make Elite: Dangerous a more compelling, immersive game. A solid HOTAS controller, great audio hardware, and a decent high quality display will improve your experience substantially, but there's still more you can do. Adding a VR headset to this game puts you in the Captain's Chair in the most literal way possible. Being able to turn your head and see the menus on your dashboard light up while you grip the throttle and joystick is amazing, but which headset is going to offer you the best experience?

Here's a quick look at the merits of using an HTC Vive versus an Oculus Rift to play Elite: Dangerous!

Read more at VR Heads!

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5 days ago

Pick up a Chromecast Ultra for $10 off at select retailers right now

3

If you've had your eyes on the Chromecast Ultra but have been waiting for it to drop in price a bit, you won't want to miss out on this. Right now select retailers are offering $10 off the streaming media player, dropping the price down to just $59. With the Chromecast Ultra you can stream Netflix, YouTube and other media in 4K on a compatible TV set, something that previous generations were not able to do. If your wireless connection isn't the greatest and may not be able to handle 4K video properly, you can also use the built-in Ethernet port to get a more stable connection.

You can pick one up from Best Buy, the Google Store, B&H Photo, and Target for the discounted prices right now. You'll need a 4K TV to take advantage of all the benefits, and if you don't already have one you can pick up a great set for around $500 these days.

Everything you need to know about streaming 4K on the Chromecast Ultra

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

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5 days ago

Best microSD Cards to Expand Storage on Honor 6X

4

Get more space in your Honor 6X with a quality microSD.

The Huawei Honor 6X is a great budget phone that doesn't feel like a budget phone. It features a solid aluminum build, two quality cameras, and an impressive 3,340mAh battery that should carry you through most days.

The only spec that's lacking is the 32GB of internal storage. Huawei has mitigated that by including a microSD slot with compatibility for cards up to 128GB. That's more than enough room to load all your favorite media onto your phone or snap and store an endless stream of photos.

We've curated the best microSD card options, so you can get the most out of your Honor 6X.

Samsung EVO+ 128GB

Samsung makes some of the best microSD cards you can buy. The 128GB EVO+ is water, temperature, X-ray, and magnet-proof — A.K.A. virtually indestructible — and also features speedy read/write speeds of 90MB/s.

See at Amazon


PNY Elite 128GB

If you're looking to maximize your phone's storage at a budget price, the PNY Elite is your best bet. It'll max out your Honor 6X's storage without maxing out your credit card. It features a read speed of up to 85MB/s, so you'll have no problem accessing your media files on the card.

Since this product is fulfilled by Amazon, if you have any issue with it or think you might have been sold a counterfeit product (as some Amazon reviewers have alleged) you should be able to return or exchange it with little hassle.

See at Amazon

Lexar Professional 1000X 64GB

If 64GB of extra space seems like more than enough for you, consider getting the Lexar Professional 1000X. It comes with Lexar's super fast USB card adapter featuring UHS-II technology for read transfer speeds of up to 150MB/s. It also comes with a free downloadable copy of image recovery software in case you erase the wrong file or the card is corrupted.

The 64GB card is currently just over $30. There's a 128GB option available here, too, if you want to double up.

See at Amazon

SanDisk Extreme PLUS 64GB

SanDisk also makes a quality microSD card, although they're also the priciest option on this list. The 64GB card is available for just over $50, with the 128GB card checking in at $90 before shipping and handling.

However, if you've used and trusted SanDisk for your storage needs in the past, you can buy with confidence knowing you'll get a durable card with reads speeds of up to 95MB/s and write speeds of up to 90MB/s.

See at Amazon

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5 days ago

LG G6 hint suggests Pixels will be the only premium phones without waterproofing

68

You probably shouldn't use water for that burn, Google.

The folks at LG are really going crazy with the daily hints leading up to the official announcement of the G6. In the past we've seen shadowed devices with blurbs, but this year we get brightly colored cards sent to each major tech blog willing to play this silly game with them.

The folks at PocketNow are the latest to get a card from LG, and while it may not seem super obvious at first this card is probably a direct shot at Google's Pixel phones.

Resistance under pressure, when talking about phones, means water resistance. It's something the LG G5 didn't have because the whole bottom of the phone could be removed, and it looks like LG is making sure everyone knows this is going to be a feature moving forward.

The current Android champion for water resistance is Samsung, with their IP68 rating as a standard across their premium lineup right now. That means a Galaxy S7 can go into 1.5 meters of water for up to 30 minutes and still be functional when you rescue it. We don't know if LG plans to meet or exceed this rating with the G6, but if the company is willing to hint about it as a feature you can bet it's going to compare the G6 rating to other premium phones.

Read more: Everything you need to know about IP ratings

That, of course, is where Google is going to be a little embarrassed. The IP53 rating on Google's Pixel and Pixel XL has been a talking point from day one, but if LG releases a significantly water resistant G6 it's going to mean these pixels will be the only phones treated as premium experiences that lack the feature. It likely also means Pixels are the most expensive phones on the market to lack water resistance, which is not going to help sales as we move into the next Flagship season.

This hint may not be enough to get everyone drooling over the G6 just yet, but for those that are it's nice knowing such excitement won't damage this phone when it's in your hands.

LG G6

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5 days ago

Nest Cam update literally shows you the door

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An update to the Nest app for Android makes some big improvements to notifications using machine learning.

It sounds like a bad joke, but thanks to advancements in machine learning, Nest is now able to automatically add "activity zones" for doors, something that had to be done manually before now.

The company announced the software update for its Nest Cam line, which includes the excellent Nest Outdoor Cam, along with a number of notification improvements to its Android app.

When you get an alert from Nest Cam, there's a thumbnail image that shows you what's going on at a glance. Nest Aware subscribers using Android 7 or iOS 10 can even see an animated preview of the Nest Cam video clip – without having to open the app.

We're also improving the alerts that Nest Cam owners get from Nest Protect. Now, if Nest Protect warns you of smoke or dangerous levels of carbon monoxide, you'll automatically see live video from all your Nest Cams. It's just another way Nest products work better together.

The company also revealed that Nest's app now supports App Shortcuts on devices running Android 7.1 Nougat — a small number for now, but it's great that the Google-owned company is paying attention to the market.

Do you own a Nest Cam? Do you use activity zones?

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