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5 days ago

Bring the beauty of nature to your wallpaper this Earth Day

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Happy Earth Day!

This oft-ignored holiday deserves better than to be relegated to documentary films and the occasional tree-planting! This is the only life-sustaining planet we've got (for now), and it's our job to love and protect our home planet. There are plenty of charities that you can donate to, such as the World Wildlife Fund and the aptly-named Earth Day Network, and you should consider using Amazon Smile so that every time you buy a new case, cable, or some leftover Cadbury eggs, a portion of your sale is donated to charity! Even if you're not quite up to putting your money where your mouth is, at least put a reminder to be kind to the planet on your home screen, where these wallpapers can inspire you to do more and remind us the beauty that surrounds us on this little blue ball.

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5 days ago

Best Cases for the Samsung Galaxy S8

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If you know for sure you're getting the Samsung Galaxy S8, you can already buy some cases.

Update April 21: Updated to reflect launch day, and added many new cases to our list.

The day has finally arrived! The Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus has launched and folks should be getting their hands on them today. With its brilliant new Infinity Display and industry leading design, it's truly something to behold.

Which means that if you haven't picked up a case for it, you probably should. Yea, we hear all you case haters out there who say you don't need a case, or that covering up the phone with blocky plastics and rubber is a sin. But for those of us who know we're prone to damaging our phones and want to keep our Galaxy S8 in tip-top shape, here are some of your best options!

Otterbox Commuter Series

The OtterBox Commuter Series has garnered a well-deserved reputation as being one of the best cases for keeping your phone well protected while maintaining a slim design.

Like most OtterBox cases, this is a two-piece case that features a soft inner sleeve paired with a hard outer shell that helps to absorb impacts while providing great all-round protection for your phone. The case features port covers over the headphone jack and USB-C charging port, which just adds extra protection against dirt, dust, and pocket lint.

Now typically we'd go ahead and recommend OtterBox's Defender Series, which typically offers more rugged protection with a built-in screen protector. However, OtterBox made the curious decision to not include a screen protector with their Defender Series case for the Galaxy S8. Both cases are compatible with screen protectors but the Commuter Series is probably your best bet, as it's $10 cheaper and offers most of the same protection — although it lacks the Defender Series' belt clip holster.

See at Amazon

UAG Plasma Feather-Light Rugged Case

UAG makes some really good rugged cases for phones. Those who use them love them because they offer really good protection while also adding a whole bunch of textures along the side and the back to help with grip.

For the Samsung Galaxy S8, we'll recommend the ultra light UAG Plasma case, which is available in both solid colors and transparent options. These cases included soft raised rubber around the corners of the screen, offering protection when you put your phone screen down on a table or surface. There are also skid pads on the back of the case which help prevent your phone fron slipping off the table.

If your phone does hit the ground, the hard outer shell and impact-resistant soft core work in tandem to absorb the shock and prevent scuffs and scratches. This is accomplished while keeping the case thin enough to be compatible with both Samsung Pay and wireless charging.

See at Amazon

CM4 Q Card Wallet Case

Made by CM4, the Q Card Case features a multi-material design that features soft-touch rubber around the phone itself and a premium fabric pocket on the back that can hold up to three cards along with some cash. There's a lip around the front to protect the screen when it's laying flat, high grip texture the top and bottom edges, while preserving the 'natural' feel of the volume and power buttons on the side.

It's a unique and functional design that will be appealing to some. If you dig the style here, you can get yours for either the S8 or S8+ from CM4's website.

See at CM4

Moko Heavy Duty Case with Holster Belt Clip and Kickstand

Moko offers cheap and rugged cases for phones, and this dual-layered case will offer some great protection for your brand new device — if you don't mind completely covering the sleek design.

There are ample cutouts around the charging port and headphone jack so you don't have to worry about your accessories not fitting, and there's a lip around the screen for added protection. Moko also includes a convenient kickstand for hands-free viewing on the back, along with a belt clip holster if you're into that sort of thing.

Available for $9, it's a cheap investment for those who absolutely want to keep their phone protected the minute they take it out of the box.

See at Amazon

SUPCASE Unicorn Beetle Case

Another rugged case we often like recommending is the Unicorn Beetle case from SUPCASE. It's a rugged three-piece case that offers a front plate around the screen — no screen protector included — that provides important protection for that screen without affecting the curved edges of the screen.

This case is made of durable polycarbonate which means it's tough enough to withstand everything life throws its way, with textured edges along the side to help with grip. There are ample cutouts around the headphone jack and charging port.

This case is also compatible with screen protectors, although again one is not included here.

See at Amazon

VRS Design Cases

VRS Design has a full collection of cases available from their site for the Galaxy S8, but we'll highlight one of their more minimalist options here.

The Single Fit case offers a minimalist option for keeping your phone safe. It's a one-piece case made of TPU that snuggly fits around your Galaxy S8 without adding too much bulk to that sleek design. Unlike the phone itself, this case is fingerprint resistant and also provides better grip than the slippery Gorilla Glass on the Galaxy S8. You get nice protection around the camera and fingerprint sensor on the back, and a subtle lip around the screen, along with the ample cutouts and precise buttons to ensure your phone's functionality is unaffected.

Check out the Single Fit case at the link below, or browse through the rest of VRS Design's Galaxy S8 collection and find the right case for you!

See at VRS Design

Spigen cases

Spigen consistently delivers cases that combine great design and quality protection for a stylish product that keeps your phone safe. We've gone hands-on with their latest batch of cases for the Galaxy S8 and can report back that they're as good as ever on Samsung's latest device. Whether you like their Tough Armor series or their minimalist Thin Fit cases, you're sure to find a case that you'll love.

We'll recommend Spigen's Ultra Hybrid Clear Case, which offers decent protection with a minimalist design that lets the design of the Samsung Galaxy S8 shine right through. It combines a TPU bumper with a rugged polycarbonate back plate which offers great protection for your new phone.

Not a fan of this one? Check out our hands-on with the new Galaxy S8 cases from Spigen, then head on over to Amazon and grab your favorite!

See at Amazon

Nomad Leather Folio Wallet

Nomad's Galaxy S8 folio case is like nothing else on the list. It uses Horween leather from the oldest tannery in the United States that is meant to show its age. On the inside of the light brown case is a holder for up to six cards plus cash, and the phone insert is there to keep your Galaxy S8 steady in the case of a drop.

This is one of the nicest-looking folio cases we've seen to date, and we're looking forward to seeing how it looks in three or six months!

See at Nomad

What case are you rocking?

We want to know how you plan to keep your Galaxy S8 protected. Let us know which case you're getting in the comments!

Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+

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5 days ago

Google Play Music becomes the default music app on Samsung phones and tablets

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Samsung customers will get a three-month trial and ability to upload 100,000 songs to Play Music.

Google has partnered with Samsung to offer Google Play Music as the default music player on the South Korean manufacturer's phones and tablets, starting with the Galaxy S8 and S8+, which are going on sale in the U.S. starting today. The partnership includes exclusive features for Samsung customers, including a three-month trial to Play Music. The offer is available globally, but is limited to new subscribers and not current Play Music customers.

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5 days ago

Ditch work and play Office Space: Idle Profits! [Best New Games for Android]

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What are the latest games worth checking out in the Google Play Store?

There are thousands and thousands of games available in the Google Play Store, with more being added every month. With so much content hitting the app store, it can be damn near impossible to keep up on all the latest releases and determine which games are worth your time.

Here at Android Central, we want to help. We'll be using this space to let you know about the latest gaming releases for Android that we think deserve your attention. We'll be checking in and updating this page weekly as new games are released, so refresh often!

Update, April 21: Relive the cult classic film and takedown Initech in Office Space: Idle Profits; Join up with Snoopy, Charlie Brown and the gang in Snoopy Pop; and explore the archeological history of Naples in Father and Son.

Office Space: Idle Profits

Mike Judge's created a comedy cult classic with Office Space, his brilliant satirical take on raging against the Corporate machine. Featuring memorable characters and iconic scenes that captured the pre-2000s tech era so perfectly, it's no wonder why the film stands out as one of the most quotable movies of all time.

Developed by Fox Interactive and published by Kongregate, Office Space: Idle Profits is an incremental clicker that does a very good job of using its source material. It's a well-designed game that actually makes sense within the genre, considering the plot of the film revolves around incrementally skimming pennies off of transactions using a computer virus (like in Superman III). There's a lot of clicking to upgrade your virus early on, but soon you'll start unlocking higher floors in the office. Using your pieces of Flair, you can unlockable characters from the film and assign them to rooms, which are wonderfully animated.

I mean, I don't want to… jump to any early conclusions here, but this game might justify the existence of the incremental clicker genre as a whole — but I'm biased by being a huge fan of Office Space. If you are, too, then you should definitely check out this game if only to appreciate the attention to detail that was put into this game.

There are some in-app purchases available but you won't need it. If you're patient you can tap your way and unlock all the upgrades, collect enough of Milton's red staplers until he's ready to burn the whole office down — which I imagine works as a way of prestiging and starting from scratch. And that sounds like a surefire cure for the Mondays to me.

Download: Idle Profits (Free w/IAPs)

Snoopy Pop

Snoopy Pop is a match-three bubble shooter that features Charles Shultz' Peanuts characters. All your favorites are here, and they've all been lovingly rendered in this licensed game by Jam City. You play as Snoopy who must strategically match bubbles to free everyone's favorite bird Woodstock and his bird friends.

If you've played these bubble shooter puzzle games before, you'll know exactly what you're in for here: colorful puzzles that get increasing challenging as you progress through the game. As you play, you unlock other Peanuts characters that offer power ups to help you reach your goals. Currently there are over 80 levels to play, with more to come along with special seasonal events to look forward to. The game really captures the animation style of the classic Peanuts cartoons, and also features original music from the TV specials.

There doesn't appear to be any ads which is pretty nice, however this is one of those games that wants to pester you with notifications to come back and play. So annoying. Fortunately, it's easy to turn notifications off in the settings and you'll probably want to do that right away.

If you're a fan of Charlie Brown and the gang, you'll definitely want to check out Snoopy Pop!

Download: Snoopy Pop (Free)

Father And Son

Father and Son holds the special honor of being one of the first games developed by an archeological museum. The game tells the story of a son who discovers a letter from his estranged father who had neglected his family for his work as an archeologist. From the grave, he asks that his son go to his office at the Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Napoli (MANN) and read his notes to understand the reasons why he abandoned the family.

Built around casual controls, what unfolds is a beautifully animated narrative that offers a unique and earnest story featuring beautiful art and sound design. I've seriously just had it sitting open as I've been writing this and it looks like a living painting. The music in the museum halls is equally beautiful.

I always love to share beautifully made indie games, but Father and Son is special. Features in the game are unlocked via GPS — if you're visiting the MANN in Italy and play the game, you unlock a whole bunch of additional content within the game. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to swing by Europe to check it out, but I love this concept of creating game experiences that are tied to particular museums, monuments, or historical buildings.

Naturally, you're able to choose between playing in English or Italian. And if you happen to live in Naples or are planning a trip to Italy, let us know what it's like to play this game where it was meant to be played.

Download: Father And Son (Free)

Android Gaming

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5 days ago

Learn all about digital marketing in 2017 for only $19

Digital marketing is so important in 2017 for all businesses, but especially for smaller and mid-sized companies trying to separate from the rest of the pack. Knowing how to use social media, Google Analytics, SEO, and AdWords effectively is crucial — but where to begin?

Step up your digital marketing game for only $19! Learn more

That's where The Complete Digital Marketing Course 2017 comes in! For only $19, you get 12 courses for the price of one that arms you with all the knowledge you need to take advantage of all the marketing tools available on the internet.

In total, there are 19.5 hours of content spread over 169 lessons which cover the following topics:

  • Marketing Fundamentals
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Usually, a comprehensive course like this would cost at least $200, but you can save 90% for a limited time thanks to Android Central Digital Offers.

Become a knowledgable digital marketing expert! Learn more

Get a complete education in building a powerful and profitable online campaign that will set either your business or your resume apart! Now available for only $19, you won't want to miss out on this deal!

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5 days ago

HTC wants you to pay ₹92,990 ($1,440) for the Vive VR headset in India

1

HTC once again shows that it doesn't care about the Indian market.

In the latest instalment of HTC's long-running series of blunders in India, the Taiwanese manufacturer has launched the Vive VR headset in India. Before we get to the astronomical price, a quick primer on the Indian electronics scene. In an effort to get local manufacturing off the ground, the Indian government is incentivizing local assembly efforts, and has hiked duties of electronics that are imported into the country (which constitute a vast majority).

That translates to a $150 - $200 increase in the cost of a flagship phone like the Galaxy S8, which is retailing for ₹57,900 ($900). That's a $150 hike from what the phone costs in the U.S..

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5 days ago

ZTE Quartz review: A 3G-connected watch that gets the job done

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The ZTE Quartz is a great value if you're simply considering dipping your toes into Android Wear 2.0.

There are a mass plethora of Android Wear 2.0-connected smartwatches available right now. Choosing between the dozens of varieties can be really overwhelming, especially if you don't even know where to start. But I think the ZTE Quartz is a fantastic option for people in this particular conundrum. It's not the most exhilarating smartwatch, in the sense that it doesn't exactly push the wearables industry forward, but it's basic enough and cheap enough that it can be appealing for those who are merely looking for an entry point into Android Wear.

The ZTE Quartz has a massive battery, too, so for those of you in need of something more utilitarian, it may be worth the consideration. It's also got some extra features you won't get with other wearable devices for under $200, like 3G-connectivity. Overall, it has only a few drawbacks, including the fact that it's achingly plain and that it's presently limited to use on T-Mobile's network.

Plain smartwatches require a little imagination

The ZTE Quartz

The ZTE Quartz has an AMOLED display.

the ZTE Quartz watchbandthe ZTE quartz side view

The silicone band on the ZTE Quartz isn't the most comfortable to wear.

ZTE doesn't seem to have major plans for the Quartz other than it exists solely as a showcase of what it's attempting with wearables. The result of this is a decidedly plain-looking smartwatch that's 46mm in diameter and 14.5mm thick. The Quartz is a little big, by which I mean that it's only incrementally larger than the LG Watch Sport. If you didn't consider the latter too honking for your wrist, you'll be fine with the Quartz.

The ZTE Quartz has removable watchbands.

Unlike the Watch Sport, however, the Quartz has removable watchbands, which you'll want to swap out immediately after you take the device out of its box. This is the stiffest watch band I've ever worn — that I can remember, at least. But I've been around Android Wear devices since their inception, and I don't remember the first-generation LG Watch being this uncomfortable to wear.

That said, I still didn't mind the style of the Quartz, despite its masculine sway. I can get away with wearing it with a sportier outfit, just as it will pair nicely with a suit or ripped up jeans. It's a plain, silver smartwatch, but nothing that a MODE watchband from Google can't spruce up.

Big battery means more playtime

The ZTE Quartz runs on a Snapdragon 2100 processor, which is made especially for wearable devices. It's packed with 768MB of RAM, 4GB of onboard storage for music and the like, and a whopping 500 mAh battery. The charging dock it comes with may make it feel antiquated, however, with its outdated Micro-USB connection. But the tradeoff is substantial battery life, which should help keep you from grumbling.

quartz charging magnets on the backhow the ZTE Quartz charges

This is how the Quartz charges — with magnetic pins on the back.

On standby, the watch managed about two days before I had to plug it back in. While actively wearing it, it lasted from morning to morning without too much worry, though it's not comfortable to wear to sleep. It's also worth noting that I keep notifications to a minimum, and I tend to use Theater Mode during work hours. I also had GPS set to rely on the phone's location, rather than the watch's. However, you should be able to make it through a comfortable day of hiking before the watch needs charging with its GPS turned on.

Use the watch to make phone calls or navigate the trail without your phone in hand.

I like the Quartz's 1.4-inch AMOLED display, too. Colorful watch faces appear nice and vibrant on screen, and I actually like that the bigger screen helps make Android Wear 2.0's font and icons more legible. Bear in mind that the display doesn't have an ambient light sensor, so you will have to adjust the brightness as you see fit for the situation. It's not the easiest to see outside in direct sunlight.

Perhaps the most compelling feature of the ZTE Quartz is its built-in 3G connectivity. You can use the watch to make phone calls or navigate the trail without your phone in hand with the aid of T-Mobile SIM. And while it's nice to have the watch take on the bulk of the cellular work the phone would normally do during an outdoor expedition, I personally feel silly carrying on a phone call with the watch out in public.

It's a pretty good deal

The ZTE Quartz

And it looks nice, too, even if it is a little plain.

The ZTE Quartz does require you to compromise on a few technological advancements that have since come to wearables. For instance, you won't have NFC capabilities with this Android Wear device, which means no Android Pay without your phone. It also doesn't have a heart-rate sensor, which doesn't make it the best smartwatch for fitness buffs, though I didn't find it comfortable enough to wear while sweating it out anyway.

Still, at $192, with the inclusion of other specifications you don't normally get at this price point, it's a worthy consideration for anyone curious about what it's like to wear an Android Wear 2.0-powered watchphone on their wrist.

See at T-Mobile

Android Wear

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5 days ago

Where to buy the Samsung Galaxy S8 in the U.S.

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Samsung Galaxy S8+

Here's where you can buy Samsung's latest phones.

The Galaxy S8 and S8+ are up for sale just about everywhere, with carriers and retailers getting in on the action. Pre-orders ran for a full three weeks before the proper release, but now it's open season and you can buy online pretty much anywhere you turn.

Here are the details when it comes to availability of the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+ in the U.S.

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5 days ago

Moto G5 Plus video review: The best cheap Android phone!

9

A good, cheap smartphone. That's been the MO of the Moto G series since the very beginning — a phone that doesn't cost the earth, but also doesn't come with a bunch of nasty compromises. This year, the line is led by the Moto G5 Plus — and it might just be the best inexpensive Android phone you can buy.

In the Moto G5 Plus, Motorola has finally arrived at an almost perfect balance of features and price. For £250 in the UK and $229 in the U.S., you're getting a phone that nails the fundamentals and exceeds expectations in other areas, like battery and camera. And that's all powered by a proven chip — Qualcomm's Snapdragon 625, with has a well-earned reputation for efficiency and performance.

Check out our video review to learn more about Motorola's latest lean, mean handset.

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5 days ago

Samsung will roll out an update to fix Galaxy S8's red tint issue

33

Galaxy S8 and S8+ OTA update will bring better color optimization and increase the color range of the displays.

Earlier this week, a few Galaxy S8 users noticed a red tint on their displays, to which Samsung responded by stating that the issue can be resolved by changing the color balance in the display settings. To further assuage customers, the South Korean manufacturer has mentioned that it will roll out a software update next week that will deliver increased color range and better optimization of colors to eliminate the red tint.

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5 days ago

Best tips for extending the life of your phone's battery

20

How do I make sure my phone's battery lasts as long as possible?

Most of us never think about the battery in our phone until it dies. When everything is working properly the battery should not be a part of the Android experience, other than not lasting long enough because we never put our phones down. The only time we ever think about the battery is when we have to charge it.

How you do that charging can make a difference, though not nearly as much as some people think. Let's have a look at the right way to take care of your battery and if it really matters.

Battery things

A few facts about your phone's battery make for a great starting point. We need to know the basics before we dive into the rest.

Chemical batteries aren't safe, but there is science trying to get them there.

The battery in your phone is almost certainly a single lithium-ion (also known as Li-ion, Lion or LiB) cell. Li-ion batteries offer what's called a high energy density (power output compared to size), have almost zero memory effect and offer a moderate self-discharge rate. There are Li-ion batteries in all shapes and sizes, and while most of what we're going to talk about apply to them all we're going to focus on the one inside your phone.

The chemistry of your phone battery is usually lithium cobalt oxide-based. These types of cell offer a very high energy density but also pose some serious safety issues like the ones we saw with the Galaxy Note 7. While the actual composition can vary from manufacturer to manufacturer, generally you have two electrodes (one carbon-based and one lithium oxide-based) encased in a pressurized foil pouch filled with a lithium salt dissolved in an organic solvent as the electrolyte paste.

Charged lithium ions move from one electrode to the other through the conductive electrolyte, which is flammable. The electrolyte gets very hot when the juice is flowing and a puncture of the foil can lead to a small explosion of very flammable fluid.

The Note 7's silver lining

Some good things happened because of Samsung's Note 7 recall.

As consumers, we're more aware of the inherent danger of Li-ion batteries and Samsung is leading the charge (no pun intended!) when it comes to the science of smartphone battery safety. We'll never know exactly what happened or why, but we can be sure that every phone leaving Samsung's factories have been through a rigorous testing procedure and should be very safe. Hopefully, this can be a learning experience for all the companies who make our battery-powered things!

This is Samsung's new 8-point battery safety check

The companies that make Li-ion batteries are always working on ways to make them safer without lowering the amount of energy they can store. Graphene, Sulfur, and Hexafluorides are just some of the chemicals being used to try and build a better battery, and every model made is safer than the last. But lithium-ion cells are still inherently dangerous. That's why the battery in your phone is more than just a cell — it makes things a lot safer when you regulate things.

The battery inside your phone is a power cell as described above coupled with sensors and other parts like voltage regulators and an external connector. This electronic hardware monitors the electricity moving in and out of the battery as well as the capacity and temperature. They are there to shut down power instantly if they detect a short or dangerous temperature spike.

A lot of work went into making a battery for your phone that can deliver the power needed as safe as possible.

The memory effect

Battery memory effect is when the battery (not the cell itself) forgets the capacity that's not regularly charged. It's a weird concept that's difficult to fully explain.

Li-ion batteries don't have a memory effect.

If you charge your battery every time it goes down to 25% and then remove it from the charger when it reaches 75% every time, you're only charging 50% of the capacity. The 0-25% that never discharged and the 75-100% that is never charged will be forgotten. This means that over time your battery thinks 25% is 0% and 75% is 100%. You are unable to use half of the battery in this case.

As crazy as it sounds, it's true. But not for Li-ion batteries. You don't need to worry about any battery memory effect for the battery inside your phone.

From zero to 100

The battery in your phone has a "zone" that provides as much charge as possible without doing anything that affects the lifespan of the battery too much. Completely draining a battery might cause it to die and not come back.The smarts in the battery and your phone work together to make sure this doesn't happen. Overcharging a battery can cause heat that damages the cell inside it. Your phone and the battery itself work together to make sure this doesn't happen, too.

Your battery and phone are smart and make sure you can't fully discharge or overcharge things.

In a perfect world, you would keep your phone battery close to 50% charged at all times by micromanaging the time it spends on the charger to top it off when needed. This is because batteries have a useful life and it's based on charge cycles.

A charge cycle is going from dead to full (inside that safe zone described above) one time. Most phone batteries are designed to last about 400 cycles. That means if you let it run to zero then charge it to full 400 separate times the battery will no longer be able to hold a full charge and it will take more of the stored charge to normally operate your phone. Eventually, you'll notice that it takes longer to charge it and it doesn't last as long as it did when it was new.

This will happen to every battery eventually, but small "top-up" charges that don't heat things up as much have less of an impact than long charges. If you always run your battery down until it's almost dead then plug your phone in until it's full you're putting more stress on it than doing a bunch of short charges. We can't say the difference is so small it doesn't matter, but we can say that it's probably not worth the inconvenience of charging your phone five minutes at a time all day long.

Charging at night

If you plug your phone in when you go to bed and let it charge all night, it still won't overcharge the battery. But it's important to mention that you should never charge a lithium-ion battery unattended.

When the phone is fully charged the electronics in the battery tell your phone to stop sending electricity from the charger to the battery charging circuit. Power still comes in, it just doesn't work at recharging anything and goes back out to the wall socket (electricity travels in an unbroken loop to and from the power source). If your phone is still powered on the battery will discharge because it's being used. When it discharges to a certain point, charging starts again. This cycle repeats until you unplug it in the morning.

A lot of work was done to make sure the cell inside the battery doesn't overcharge at any time. Even during the night while it's on the charger. If you're going to charge your phone overnight, make sure everything works properly and you're charging properly. That means you don't have the phone under a blanket or laying on the rug while it's plugged in or have it in a thick sealed case that keeps the heat in. Plug it in (or put it on a wireless charger) somewhere that it won't get tangled up in your bedclothes or knocked to the floor.

Storing your phone or battery

Charge your battery to 50% and turn the phone off. Check it once in a while and recharge it before it drops under 10%.

Your battery will discharge in the drawer over time.

Li-ion batteries have a moderate self-discharge rate. That means when they are not being used they still will lose their charge. All batteries do this and some types (lead-acid) are bigger offenders than others (lithium-sulfur). A battery can self-discharge to zero when it's not being used even if your phone would normally shut down before you get there. Letting a Li-ion battery run down completely could cause it to not come back online, depending on the internal circuitry.

If you plan on storing a phone over the long term, drop a monthly reminder in your calendar to take it out, turn it on and charge it a little.

Recalibration

This means running a battery down to zero then charging it to full in one sitting. This is said to recalibrate the battery.

Recalibration won't hurt anything but it might not do anything, either.

Laptops may benefit from a recalibration cycle if the battery level icon has the wrong reading. The software that controls this on a laptop is a good bit different from your Android, though. Some experts claim you need to recalibrate your battery from time to time or when you see an issue, but others say it won;t do anything.

Fully cycling the battery in your phone every once in a while isn't going to break anything. It's not something we recommend you do every day because of that charge cycle life we talked about up the page. If you think you need to do it to fix something, go for it.

Are wireless chargers bad for my battery?

Not really, as long as you're using a quality charger of the right type.

They aren't any better than charging over a wire, either. Charging a battery makes it hot. Heat shortens battery lifespan. Once the electricity from a wireless charger passes into your phone it's handled the same way as a wired charger. Inside the battery where the chemical reaction is happening heat builds up no matter how you charge your phone battery.

Wireless charging is inefficient so it takes longer, but it also is less wear and tear on the USB socket on your phone. If you like the convenience of a wireless charger, go for it!

How about fast charging?

When using any fast charging method (Qualcomm Quick Charge, Adaptive Fast Charging, USB PD, etc.) you have a charger that is capable of supplying electricity at a higher voltage or amperage than normal. Your phone has programming on the circuit board that tells the charger how much electricity to deliver, and the charger has circuitry that listens and complies. Without both sides being able to communicate, quick-charging can't happen.

Fast charging affects battery lifespan but nobody is sure exactly how much.

There is a lot of science behind quick charging. Most of it agrees that quick charging contributes to a faster decline of the battery's lifespan. But nobody is able to measure exactly how much.

Quick charging is uber-convenient and has changed the way a lot of us use our gadgets. The best recommendation, in this case, is to use it wisely if you're concerned that it affects battery longevity. Usually, that means you need a second charger, so make sure you buy one made by a reputable company.

Using another charger

Always try to use the charger and cable that came with your phone each and every time you need to charge it. If you need a replacement or an additional charger, buy the type the manufacturer recommends. Products are designed so that the different types of quick charging products can be used on phones that don't support them (you won't get fast charging speeds) but it's still advisable to use the right quick-charge technology. If you're unsure of which kind of quick charging your phone uses, online resources like our forums are helpful, or you can contact the manufacturer.

It's also a good idea to buy new cables when you buy a new phone. Always. Charging technology change so fast that the cables you have been using for a few years might not meet the requirements and cables degrade from all the twisting and pulling they suffer through. Make sure the cables you buy match the specifications of the ones that came in the box and are made by a company you trust. Recycle your old cables and protect your expensive new phone.

Our recommended practices

  • Charge your phone when it needs a charge and remove it from the charger when it's finished. Don't be afraid to use a wireless charger.
  • Use quick charging sparingly if you're concerned about its effect on battery lifespan. There is little immediate damage or danger from using the right charging method for your phone.
  • Try to manually shut your phone off if the charge ever drops below 10% and leave it off while charging it for a few minutes.
  • Never store a phone with a dead battery and check on a stored phone periodically.
  • Don't buy cheap chargers or cables from the gas station or that dude at the flea market. Use the type of charger the people who made your phone recommend.

You can make yourself crazy by worrying about the perfect way to charge your phone's battery. All the technical details about how behaviors can affect the lifespan of the battery are true, but they are also very minor in scale. Charging and discharging a battery shortens its lifespan, but a battery is useless if it's not charged so it can power something. It's OK to baby your phone's battery, but ultimately not necessary.

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5 days ago

Google Photos: Ultimate Guide

3

Save memories, store and catalog your photos, make edits, and more with Google Photos.

Google Photos is more than just an app for storing your photos. While on the surface it's primarily for backing up photos, there are more ways to edit and share hidden inside. You also have some serious control over every aspect of the photos. This goes from which folders get backed up, to the image quality you upload your photos to, to seeing the photos that you have shared in the past. It gives you a solid place to store and sync all of your photos so that you never lose one again.

How to set up Google Photos

Google Photos aims to be your one stop shop for all of your Photos. Before you can start to take advantage of the many things you can do by using Google Photos, you need to know the basics. This includes things like choosing your image upload quality, understanding the Google Photos Assistant, and choosing which device folders get synced with Google Photos.

Share your photos with friends

Google Photos makes it so easy to share your memories and photos with friends, family, and colleagues. You have control over who can see the photos that you share, and even set up specific folders for sharing.

Manage your photos

When it comes to keeping track of all of your photos, Google makes that easy for you to. You can create new folders, share specific folders, and even add to existing folders, or allow folks to collaborate and add their own photos to the folder you have invited them to.

Additional Features

Google Photos has plenty of additional features that you might not have heard about. Just because features are hidden a bit under the surface doesn't mean that you shouldn't check them out, though. With powerful photo editing built right in, there are some things you may not have seen about Google Photos.

Are you a fan of Google Photos?

Google Photos delivers a great app that can be used to share, save, upload, and even edit, your photos. With plenty of features that are easy to use, it becomes a great storage tool for the photos you take every day. Do you use Google Photos for storing your snapshots? Be sure to drop us a line in the comments and tell us about it.

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6 days ago

Huawei CEO speaks on P10 memory + screen issues

5
Huawei P10 + P10 Plus

Richard Yu blames supply chain issues for slower memory in some P10s, and static electricity for smudgy screens.

Storage speed in phones often isn't heavily promoted, even in flagship handsets, but it's something which can affect how fast a device feels. As Engadget's Richard Lai reports, some Chinese Huawei P10 owners noticed slower flash memory performance in their devices — speeds in line with the older eMMC 5.1 spec, not the newer UFS 2.0/2.1. Unlucky devices with eMMC 5.1 chips would score significantly lower in storage benchmarks. In one test, P10s with the slower memory managed less than half the throughput seen by models with faster chips.

Huawei CBG (Consumer Business Group) CEO Richard Yu reached out on social network Weibo to address the issue, while also commenting on our biggest gripe with the P10, its lack of oleophobic coating on the display.

On memory speeds, Yu blamed a "serious shortage" of faster UFS 2.0 and 2.1 chips in the supply chain, which apparently led to Huawei having to fall back on slower, but more readily available eMMC 5.1 memory in some units. Now, it's true that Huawei never included UFS on the P10's spec sheet. However, customers could be forgiven for assuming the P10's specs would line up with the Mate 9, a phone which shares the same Kirin 960 platform and was promoted as using speedy UFS 2.1 storage.

Yu insists that real-world performance isn't impacted by the use of slower memory in some P10s, saying "a good real-life performance and experience" is maintained thanks to Huawei's hardware and software optimizations.

Newer P10 batches will include an oleophobic coating, says Richard Yu.

As for why the P10 doesn't have an oleophobic coating on the display — the smudge-resistant layer used in all other flagship phones to deter the buildup of smudges and grease — well, apparently a combination of Gorilla Glass 5 and static electricity is to blame. According to the Engadget report, Yu said that the touch panel in the phone's Gorilla Glass 5 display had problems with the original oleophobic coating technique, where static buildup would interfere with the touch sensor.

That would explain why Huawei-built contemporaries like the Honor 8 Pro, which uses Gorilla Glass 3, still manage to include the coating. (In any case, we'd still argue that simply using different glass would've been a more acceptable compromise.)

Yu says that newer batches of P10 phones include the coating — made possible by a new coating technique that doesn't lead to static buildup — and that customers in China could visit their local Huawei store to have the treatment applied to their device. It's not clear what help that'll be to anyone who's bought a P10 outside of Huawei's home market, though.

More: Huawei P10 + P10 Plus review

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6 days ago

Where to buy the Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+ in the UK

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Galaxy S8

Samsung's latest flagship isn't cheap, but you've got plenty of choices when it comes to where to buy.

The Samsung Galaxy S8 has been officially launched, and it's available to order now around the world. In the UK, all the major mobile operators are ranging the S8 and S8+, and both Samsung and Carphone Warehouse are offering the phone unlocked and SIM-free. As usual, there's a wide range of on-contract plans available depending on your choice of carrier and service plan.

Let's take a look at each of the major online options for ordering a Galaxy S8 in the UK.

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6 days ago

MIUI is never going to be close to stock Android, and that's a good thing

29

Don't hold out for a MIUI build based on pure Android.

With over 200 million users, Xiaomi's MIUI is one of the most popular manufacturer skins in the world. Its usage has skyrocketed in recent years as Xiaomi made its foray into the Indian market, where the company has set up an R&D unit to cater to localization needs.

MIUI has come a long way in the last three years, adding a host of new features that augment the core experience. Xiaomi's frenetic pace of development — with a new update rolling out bi-weekly — means that MIUI is always evolving, even if updates don't include any user-facing changes. As a consequence, the user interface has become bloated, and the sheer number of features means that Xiaomi isn't as agile as it used to be when it comes to delivering platform updates.

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