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6 days ago

Ultimate Guide to Samsung Gear VR!

Whatever you want to do with your Gear VR, we've got the details for you here!

Samsung's Gear VR is easily one of the most accessible VR systems that is available today. Running off of a Samsung phone, this headset has benefited from lots of small but important improvements. The end result is a portable entertainment center, offering up games and movies and a huge selection of new ways to completely immerse yourself in new worlds.

Here's everything you need to get the most out of your Samsung Gear VR!

Read more on VR Heads!

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6 days ago

HTC's upcoming flagship will be called the HTC U 11

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The new name signifies HTC's strategy for streamlining its mobile branding.

We've already seen what HTC's latest flagship will look like, and today we learn its name — the HTC U 11. This info comes from Evan Blass of VentureBeat who spoke with an individual briefed on the company's plans who also confirmed that the new device will be available in five different color options.

Previously known to the world as the HTC Ocean, the new name seems to signifies a shift in HTC's strategy for branding its mobile devices — the number obviously denotes that this is a follow-up to last year's flagship, the HTC 10, while adding the "U" brings the phone's branding in line with the latest phones released by HTC — The Taiwanese company has already released two phones this year, the HTC U Ultra and HTC U Play in 2017.

While we're sure to hear more leaks in the coming weeks before its May 16 launch event, we do know a fair bit about this new phone already. In terms of specs, the phone will sport a 5.5-inch QHD display powered by Snapdragon 835 with 4GB of RAM, a 12MP camera, 3000mAh of battery life and probably no 3.5mm headphone jack — pretty standard stuff. But what might set the HTC U 11 apart from the rest of the pack is a unique feature that HTC seems quite excited about: a touch-sensitive frame that will allow you to squeeze the sides of your phone to perform specific actions such as launching an app or snapping a photo.

We'll have to wait until we're hands-on to see how well that feature jibes with everyday use, but we want to know what do you think of the HTC U 11. Let us know in the comments below!

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6 days ago

Best accessories for the Samsung Galaxy S8

24

A brand new Samsung phone requires some fresh accessories!

With the Samsung Galaxy S8 now official, next comes the seemingly never-ending wave of accessories. From cases to screen protectors to chargers, there's no shortage of 'things' to wrap around and attach to your new phone to get the most out of the experience.

As always, we'll be providing full coverage of all the accessories you need to know about as we get closer the S8's ship date, but for now here are the best accessories we've found so far. Like the phone itself, most of these are still in the pre-order stage or are currently unavailable, but there's nothing wrong with a little window shopping, right?

Samsung covers and battery packs

Samsung always offers a decent variety of proprietary accessories for its flagship devices, and the Galaxy S8 is no exception to that rule.

So far, they've got a bunch of cool (and admittedly bizarre) cases highlighted on their site, along with a brand new convertible wireless charger and a new battery pack. They're all currently available for pre-order, so let's take a look!

Covers

Samsung is offering a number of interesting case options, but the one that caught our eye is the new Clear View Standing Cover.

Available for both the S8 and S8 Plus in six colors, this case features a translucent matte cover for protecting your screen, which also doubles as an adjustable stand for watching videos in landscape, with the S8's 18.5:9 aspect ratio.

You're still able to interact with your screen with the cover in place, allowing you to swipe to control calls, music and more without having to unlock your phone.

Samsung is also offering some more traditional case options, including an update for the the popular LED View Cover, which you can find at the link below.

See at Samsung

Screen protector

Maybe you're not a fan of cases, or you'd prefer to be extra careful with the front of this phone. Either way, you want a screen protector. With the Galaxy S8, you don't want a plastic screen protector, you want one made of glass so it feels like the front of the phone is supposed to feel.

Lightning Knight is currently offering a two pack of tempered glass screen protectors that curve with the edge of the display and offer a lifetime replacement warranty. It's also a full cover protector, which means no weird cut outs for buttons or sensors.

This will keep your screen safe even if you decide to not use a case, so you get the best of both experiences!

See at Amazon

Wireless charger

Samsung has completely revamped their wireless charger for the Galaxy S8 and it looks AMAZING.

You used to have to decide whether you wanted your wireless charger to sit flat on your desk or cradle your phone at a nice viewing angle, but no more! The new wireless charger is convertible, so you're able to use it as a charging pad or stand depending on your needs. The build quality appears to be greatly improved with a premium design featuring a textured surface.

If you're not all that interested in a convertible charger, last year's fast wireless charger is now on sale over at Amazon.

See at Samsung

Battery pack

You certainly don't need to walk around with a battery to keep the Galaxy S8 charged, but it never hurts to be prepared. Instead of carrying one of the larger, more expensive batteries designed to keep you topped off for multiple charges, Aukey makes a ridiculously affordable 3600mAh battery that slides easily into a pocket and doesn't weigh you down.

That's a little more juice than you need for one full recharge of your battery, which means you can probably use it to charge up your phone and your Bluetooth headphones should the need arise.

See at Amazon

Gear VR w/ new Gear VR Controller

Samsung and its partners are including a Samsung Gear VR and new controller for anyone who pre-orders a Galaxy S8 or S8+, so it might seem redundant to include it on this list…

However, if you've never tried Samsung Gear VR before, you're in for a real treat. Samsung partnered up with Oculus to provide one of the best mobile VR experiences you'll find, with compelling games to play alone or with friends, tons of streaming video apps and VR exclusive experiences, along with its own functional social media platform.

Making things all the sweeter is the inclusion of the new touch controller, meaning you won't need to hold your hand up to the headset like you're Cyclops from the X-Men.

Everything you need to know about Samsung Gear VR

Spigen cases

Spigen is always on point with their line up of cases for the latest smartphone releases, and they've rolled out their full line for the Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus.

If you've tried and loved one of their cases before (my personal favorite is typically the one-piece Rugged Armor case), you'll be able to find the style that's right for you.

Check out our exclusive hands-on look at Spigen's new cases for the Galaxy S8

CM4 Q Card Case

This case caught my eye when it passed through my inbox because I'm a sucker for wallet cases. 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.

If you dig the style here, you can preorder yours from the site, with orders shipping before April 17.

See at Amazon

Lifeproof cases

If you're the outdoorsy type, or simply a klutz when it comes to your phone, you want the best protection you can get.

Lifeproofs's FRE cases are typically the toughest cases you can get. Water-proof, dirt-proof, snow-proof and drop-proof, a Lifeproof case on your Samsung Galaxy S8 means your phone is doubly-save from moisture and dirt. Available in a wide range of colors from the standard black to vivid pink and teal options, find the one that fits your style!

Sure, they're pricier than most cases, but they also provide some of the best protection you'll find for your brand new device. While they're not currently available, you can sign up to be notified as soon as they are.

See at Lifeproof

Which accessories have caught your eye so far?

What are your go-to accessories for a new phone? Anything you'll be picking up for your new Samsung Galaxy S8? Let us know in the comments!

Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+

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6 days ago

How much does security factor into your buying decisions? [Roundtable]

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How the AC staff thinks about security when they're buying cool stuff.

There are plenty of reasons to want a new phone or cool tech gadget, and everyone has different reasons. And of course, there are plenty of phones and cool tech gadgets to buy. We find the right gadget for the right reasons and lighten our wallets.

In the midst of all the talk about specs and software and updates and cameras and everything else about the next great Android phone, you'll see a few people talking about security. Security can mean different things to different people but I think everyone considers it while they're deciding what to buy. Even if they don't realize they're doing it. The iris scanning tech on the Galaxy S8 is a security feature. See? You were thinking about it after all.

How important should security be when you're deciding which phone to buy? That's the question this week, and we went around the table to see what your Android Central staff thinks.

Most secure Android phone

Andrew Martonik

Security absolutely weighs into my buying decision when it comes to any sort of connected electronic device I buy — particularly with a phone — but it isn't at the top of my list of importance. I entirely understand that we live in a world where most (if not all) of the electronics we use and love have security vulnerabilities, and in knowing that I'm willing to use devices even though I can't independently confirm that they are completely secure from all types of exploits.

Yes, that means I buy or continue to use devices that have potential vulnerabilities, but in my case, I'm choosing to use them knowing that my interaction with the device may not be safe from all angles. I have no misconceptions about the potential insecurity of my data on such devices and make changes to my use of them accordingly. But at the same time, I recognize the extreme usefulness of these consumer electronics and continue to use them because I see a net benefit despite their potential insecurity.

Daniel Bader

When I buy a phone, or a connected camera, or a car, security is, like, the third thing I think about. But that's because it's something I build into my decision — I take for granted that I am thorough enough in my research to get a product from a company that takes security seriously.

Regular updates and quick patches mean a lot.

But unlike Jerry, that doesn't mean security trumps other considerations, since I am not quite as security-conscious as he is. I rely on a few basic rules: the device or product must be updated regularly; in the case of something like a smart light bulb or security camera, it needs to be from a company that has a history of patching security holes. Nest, for instance, took over six months to patch a recent exploit in its security camera, and while it was ultimately patched, that slow turnaround time means I may think twice before purchasing another product from them.

In the case of a smartphone, I buy phones that will receive regular updates and security patches. Obviously, I'll test many phones, but I will usually go back to phones from Google, BlackBerry or Samsung, since they have the best track record of monthly, or at least regular, patches. Similarly, I now take such security into consideration when choosing a carrier; my current carrier, Rogers, is fairly bad about pushing security patches to its Android phones, so I am considering switching to Telus, which is better known for such things.

Florence Ion

It's easy for me to say that security doesn't necessarily factor into my buying decisions because, frankly, it's not the first thing I think of when I'm buying a gadget. And I think that's because I trust myself enough, and the experience I have buying technology for nearly two decades, to stick with brands and operating systems that I know I can trust.

Of course, sometimes that backfires on us. Sometimes there's an exploit, and I'm getting an email from Adobe, for instance, saying that it had to reset my password because of a security breach. Or, I hear of a text messaging scam going around that installs some sort of virus on your Android device. I try to stick to "the rules" — updating software and avoiding spam, for instance — to keep those type of predators at bay. It's worked so far.

I don't run ad blockers or virus scanners on my Android device, but I do try to do my research, even if it's merely for a new app I'm downloading from the Play Store. I may not realize that I'm doing that for security purposes, but I think that's because I've reached the point where I'm instinctively looking out for it anyway.

Jerry Hildenbrand

It's the first and most important consideration when I buy any connected thing.

Would you buy a front door that has no lock?

Security and Privacy are two very different things, but privacy depends on security. I wouldn't want someone to come into my home when I'm not there, so I lock the door. Locking the door wouldn't be very helpful if anyone who wanted to get in could download the key to it.

I'm not carrying around any national secrets on my phone. In fact, nothing I have on my phone would be important to anyone else. I would probably unlock it and hand it to you if you wanted or needed to look at something. I just want all the looking to be on my terms and not someone else's. The company who can offer that is where I start looking when I'm buying.

Ask yourself if you would want a random stranger reading your email and looking through all your photos. If you said no, then security matters for you, too.

Your take

What about you? Do you think about security when you buy connected things? If so, how important is it to you?

Let everyone know your thoughts in the comments down below.

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6 days ago

Moto plugs its past, present, and future with a rap lyric video

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Oh, Moto...

I get that it's hard to cut through the noise and get your name back out there, especially in a market that's been dominated by Samsung and Apple, but Motorola, you've got the best cheap Android phone on the market. Your Moto Mods are one of the best takes on a modular phone that we've seen commercially.

You don't have to come on this strong.

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6 days ago

Mint SIM review: The AC community weighs in

Four Android Central community members give their thoughts on the value-first alternative carrier, Mint SIM.

We know that our readers are pretty savvy folks, and want the best deal for mobile data they can find. Mint SIM, which you've seen mentioned a lot on the site in recent months, is an alternative carrier that promises great LTE speeds and coverage for less than any other carrier.

But people were skeptical — what's the catch? Why is it so cheap? And are there any downsides? We decided to let the AC community decide for itself. Four forum members, some of whom were provided Mint SIM service in exchange for moderating the forum (but were not influenced for a review in any way) had this to say.

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On setting it up

All four reviewers had a very easy time setting up Mint SIM because it is essentially "plug and play." You get a SIM kit in the mail, which takes a couple of days, and go to the company's web page to activate the SIM card. Here's what DecAway had to say:

I turned my device off, pulled out the old SIM card and popped the Mint Sim, SIM card into my phone and powered it back up. After a few minutes of working your way through the activation process, you'll be in business and can power up your device and connect to the network. I was actually pleasantly surprised at the ease of activating the SIM and establishing service!

The others noted that the APN — the address that allows the SIM to connect to the Mint SIM network — should automatically work, but on some phones it may need to be entered manually. That's easy enough, since instructions are in the Getting Started guide. dpham00 said this:

Setup was straightforward. The provided pamphlet guides you through the activation process, porting your phone number (optional), inserting your sim (the provided sim has perforations, and can be punched out for a mini, micro, or nano sim), and setting up the APN. After doing the activation process, I didn't have to do any setup at all, I just popped in the sim and everything worked fine.

How to set up the APN on your phone

On performance

Here's where things get interesting. All four reviewers agreed that performance was good, not great, and that it varied wildly depending on the time of day and the location. dpham00 said that his experience was inconsistent:

Performance seemed to be a little inconsistent – even immediately after getting a good speed test, I would sometimes struggle to open a web page. This could be an issue with the Mint sim being de-prioritized over T-Mobile customers, or something with the connection itself as sometimes, simply turning airplane mode on, and off again, will get things going.

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He notes that, indeed, because Mint SIM is an MVNO — an alternative carrier — it must piggyback off a larger network, which in this case is T-Mobile. While it's unlikely that T-Mobile is actively deprioritizing Mint SIM traffic, it not be privy to the network's fastest speeds, especially during times of congestion.

DecAway had a similar experience, but found that performance was mainly very good, and quite reliable:

After a week of using the service I can tell you that it's definitely not always "blazing" fast, as noted by Mint SIM, but it can be… and it is adequate. Mint Sim users are naturally deprioritized, meaning in congested areas your bandwidth will be much more limited at times, which I attribute to the slower speeds that I received. However, is that necessarily bad? Well, the answer is that it depends. First, objectively, I just paid roughly $12 bucks for 2GB of LTE data... Reflecting on my experience with Mint Sim so far, I have been able to achieve download speeds of up to 21.04mbps and 12.24mbps, with a top-end 13.79mbps and 9.99mbps upload speeds.

Those are pretty good speeds. VDub2174 had a similarly good experience, but remarked on the excellent Mint SIM coverage:

Coverage was great for me! When I checked the coverage map I saw that I was in an area that got great 4G LTE coverage. Living in a suburb area I sometimes get spotty 4G LTE but in my direct neighborhood it was great. I kept an eye on my reception while going about my day and saw that coverage was on point with my T-Mobile phone.

He also enjoyed access to Wi-Fi Calling, which is a hallmark T-Mobile feature that made the jump to its MVNO partners.

User Golfdriver97 also enjoyed the wide coverage provided by T-Mobile's network, saying he didn't have a problem with speed or network availability anywhere he went.

Had good to high signal where I went. So there wasn't any gaps in coverage.

On value

All four reviewers noted that Mint SIM, even with its sometimes-spotty LTE data speeds, is a good deal. From dpham00:

So the question you are having now is – is it worth it? I would say for the price, absolutely. It is aggressively priced if you are willing to make a commitment from 3 months and up, especially at the one year mark. Sure it has a few hiccups here and there, but if you are looking at Mint sim, then you are looking for a bargain basement pricing, and as such, you will have to deal with the occasional problem here and there. If you are using it a lot and demand the best performance, then you would probably be better off with one of the big 3. However, I think this is great for someone who uses the internet somewhat sparingly and can accept some hiccups.

Golfdriver97 agrees:

I would honestly say give them a shot. Start by getting an independent number at first. This way you aren't porting your number and find out that it doesn't work for you.

That's another sentiment shared by all reviewers: Mint SIM is alright as a primary number — VDub2174 said his number was recycled and received a lot of spam calls — but better as a secondary number primarily for data usage. While Mint SIM doesn't support tethering, it's a good way to watch media on the go for less money.

DecAway said that Mint SIM is great for most situations:

If you carry two phones around like me and can turn on wireless tethering with the other device, it really makes up for the shortfalls. If you're cool with occasional inconsistencies in data speeds, then it's also less worrisome. Call quality and messaging are more than adequate, so if you really need a cheap phone plan with the promise of internet in uncongested areas and off-peak times, this could be the answer for you.

He also notes that the promotional pricing, which is $35 for 3 months, with 2GB of data, is only for new customers, so it's an easy investment to try, but costs will go up eventually. (You can get 20% off a 6-month or 1-year plan with the offer code "ACMINTSIM20", by the way.)

Finally, VDub2174 sums it up nicely:

Pricing is very affordable when compared to other plans so if you're looking for a plan that gives you the most bang for your buck, I would check out Mint SIM.

So there you go. Mint SIM is a great choice for people who don't need tethering, and can deal with a few occasional slowdowns when it comes to cheap wireless data service.

Head to our dedicated Mint SIM forums to ask questions and get more information!

Alternative carriers (MVNOS)

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6 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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6 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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6 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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6 days ago

The Guardians of the Galaxy are here to save the day! [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 28: Become a Guardian of the Galaxy in the latest Telltale game series, destroy all robot competitors in CATS: Crash Arena Turbo Stars, and then give your brain a puzzle workout with Invert.

Guardians of the Galaxy: The Telltale Series

The Guardians of the Galaxy are heading back to the big screen on May 5th, but you can check in with Star Lord, Gamora, Drex, Rocket and Groot on your phone in Guardians of the Galaxy: The Telltale Series. A total of five episodes are set to be released, with the first available right now and season passes available for purchase via in-app purchases.

If you were a fan of the first GotG movie (and really, how could you not love it?), you may be slightly disappointed to know that they couldn't get the film's cast in the game — neither their voices or likenesses. Fans of the comic may be unfazed, but for those who fell in love with these characters from the movie, the differences are a bit jarring at first. However, the classic tunes and witty dialogue more than make up for it, and the game really builds steam.

Telltale Games have a very particular style to them and tell a great story that is affected by the choices you make through the game. At it's best moments, it feels like your really in control of an action sequence from the film. As usual, Telltale Games have done a great job of capturing the tone of the film while delivering an original story.

There are some downsides; While the game itself is available for Family Sharing, the in-app purchase to unlock the season pass is locked to that device, and the loading times can get pretty out of hand. But if you're hyped for the new movie, we definitely recommend checking out the game.

Download: Guardians of the Galaxy TTG ($4.99, $24.99 for a season pass)

CATS: Crash Arena Turbo Stars

Build your own custom war machine and battle opponents in automatic PvP combat in CATS: Crash Arena Turbo Stars. It's a pretty unique concept that's been getting a pretty huge advertising push around it's launch

This is the latest game from ZeptoLab, the folks behind the wildly popular Cut the Rope franchise, which typically means it's worthy of our attention. Put your best engineering hat on as you design, craft, and upgrade your battle robot and then take it to the arena. If you're a robotics geek, the battles play out like classic robot sumo matches, which play out automatically.

There's a lot of fun to be had here testing out all the different configurations for weapons, wheels, and other tools of destruction. You can play some quick matches or try and work your way up through the ranks upgrading your build quality as you go leading up to the World Championship. Even when you're not playing, your bot is still fighting on your behalf.

It's worth mention that the game does require some grinding for upgrades, and also features in-app purchases, but overall the combination of casual gameplay with frantic, physics-based robot action is surprisingly fresh and fun.

Download: CATS: Crash Arena Turbo Stars (Free w/IAPs) {.cta .large

Invert — Tile Flipping Puzzles

It still amazes me how game developers are able to constantly come up with great new puzzle puzzle game concepts for mobile. Invert is the latest great puzzle game published by Noodlecake Studios that's sure to be a hit for fans of Reversi, Go, and Rubiks Cubes.

To solve each puzzle, you must invert tiles using the buttons along the perimeter of the puzzle to flip the tiles. There are several ways to solve each puzzle and multiple modes to play: - Campaign: Solve levels in a set number of moves (no time limit) - Challenge: Solve levels against the clock (no move limit) - Expert: A harder version of Challenge mode

There are over 120 levels to play here and because it's a paid app there are no distracting ad or commercials. That's great, because the game definitely has a good zen vibe going with it's design.

If you're a huge fan of puzzle games, $1.99 is a small price to pay for a really polished and challenging puzzle game.

Download: Invert ($1.99)

Android Gaming

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6 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
  • Market Research
  • Wordpress
  • Email Marketing
  • Copywriting
  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
  • Youtube
  • Facebook Marketing
  • Twitter
  • Quora Marketing
  • Google Adwords

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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6 days ago

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

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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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6 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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6 days ago

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

69
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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6 days ago

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

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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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