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1 week ago

IFA 2016: Everything you need to know

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IFA sign

Wearables dominate a busy week of Android-related announcements in Berlin.

IFA is an annual consumer electronics show held in Berlin, Germany, which often serves as a launch event for mobile products heading into the holiday buying season and the beginning of the following year. It's one of the major events of any given year for mobile tech, right up there with the Barcelona-based Mobile World Congress.

In previous years, IFA was dominated by the Samsung Galaxy Note line, which has since relocated to early August. And so he past couple of shows have played host to a more diverse set of news in tablets, smartwatches, mid-range phones, accessories and more.

This year's event officially runs from Sept. 2-7, with the official media days leading up to it — so look for our coverage to really kick off from Aug. 31. The main venue is the enormous Messe Berlin complex in the west of the city, with other press conferences and gatherings throughout Berlin.

IFA 2016 looks like being as busy as ever for Android-powered gadgets. Let's take a look at some of the broad trends we're expecting to see.

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1 week ago

AT&T ditches monthly overages for reduced data speeds

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AT&T has announced that the carrier will be ending overage charges in favor of reduced data speeds once you've used your allotment. The carrier will offer plans ranging from 1GB to 200GB of high-speed data so you can pick the correct amount for what you use. Some customers will actually get more data in their allotment under the new plans without paying any more money. Instead of charging per gigabyte, AT&T is offering on some plans to bump up your data, like 10GB more for just $20 a month.

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1 week ago

T-Mobile gives all plans unlimited data in latest Uncarrier move

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What is Uncarrier 12 and why is T-Mobile offering unlimited data?

T-Mobile's latest Uncarrier move is less about thanking you and more about increasing its monthly revenue.

The company has announced that it is moving all postpaid plans to a so-called T-Mobile One scheme, getting rid of data buckets in favor of a single account type that includes unlimited, calls, text, and data, along with all the other Uncarrier benefits previously announced such as low-cost roaming, weekly perks, and low-friction carrier switching.

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1 week ago

Android 7.0: Multi-window for everyone

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Android 7.0's three multi-window modes can make sure you never miss a Pokémon — even when you have other things that need doing.

Android Nougat's biggest user-facing feature has to be the new native multi-window support. The concept isn't new. Samsung's been doing it for a while, Microsoft is changing the way they do it for smaller devices and even Apple is doing it on tablets. Now it's Google's turn.

It's not an entirely new concept for Google, either. The basic Android framework has always allowed what you see on your screen to be drawn at almost any size, and the idea of having more than one view shown at a time was kicked around in more than one session at Google I/O 2011 as part of the "next-step" for Android Tablets on Honeycomb. Five years later, it's finally ready.

A good part of the reason it took longer was because baking it into Android at the system level can be tricky. Android is designed to run on just about anything with a processor. It powers microwaves, washing machines, refrigerators, sprinkler systems and more. It can even solve a Rubik's Cube with ease. The things that run Android and have a display — like your phone — also come in many different sizes. Once you change the operating system so that every app can run in a multi-window environment, it has to work everywhere.

And that's what Google did. Android 7.0 supports three types of multi-window views natively. That means any app you download can use it unless the developer of the app writes it so that it tells the system no when you try to move it to a multi-window view. And it's not just a split screen system — the other views make it even more complicated.

Android Nougat has three different types of multi-window mode.

Split-screen view is almost the same as what we see on Samsung phones right now. You can either long press a thumbnail in overview mode or long press the overview button and you'll be able to have two separate windows with separate apps running in each. You can drag and drop data between them, and the dividing line is movable so you can make one app larger than the other. Developers can optimize their apps by doing things like declaring a minimum size for the window it's in, but even if they do nothing their app will try to run in split-screen multi-window mode. Google says split-screen mode was designed for handheld devices, which means tablets and most phones.

Multi-window can also be displayed in a picture-in-picture mode. We already talked about how it works and how it will make Android TV better. When an app goes into a picture window, things like the controls and interface elements need to be hidden and the content portion shrinks to a size based on the dot pitch of the display being used. Also, apps can sprout the second view and have a picture window of one part of the app while another part of the app is in full-screen mode. The new API's support the new window view, and a developer can use it in their app without too much of a hassle. This is designed for Android TV and the people who built the actual hardware need to enable it. An app designed for picture-in-picture mode won't do anything if the user tries to put it in any other mode unless the developer has also included support for them.

Multi-window has a third view — freeform mode. So far it only officially exists in the documentation. It got hacked onto the first Android N preview, but since we haven't seen it. The Android Developer website says:

Manufacturers of larger devices can choose to enable freeform mode, in which the user can freely resize each activity. If the manufacturer enables this feature, the device offers freeform mode in addition to split-screen mode.

Notice they don't specify what a larger device is. So far it seems that this doesn't include tablets like the Pixel C, but it could be enabled on bigger devices with 12-inch screens, or Chromebooks that run Android apps. It's up to the manufacturer to decide if they want to include support.

The short time we had to play with freeform mode during the Nougat Developer Preview showed that it puts apps into floating windows than can be resized, moved around, minimized or maximized. This is just like how the software on your laptop or desktop computer works. The apps will support drag-and-drop data sharing and every app knows when it's been moved to the top layer and we're actively using it. Apps can even open in a "shrunken" view provided the developer chooses to do so. The apps each run in their own process and are independent of each other, though.

If a developer targets their app for Android 7.0 they have a few options for a multi-window view. They can define the size and the layout of the app when it's not using the full screen and make it easier to use after it's shrunk down. Because that's a real issue — some apps just don't look good or aren't very usable if they only use half of an already small display — developers can also decide to not support the feature.

If apps aren't updated, they are forced into a multi-window view by the system itself — sometimes with bad results.

If a developer doesn't update their app, it will be "forcibly resized" by the system after a dialog letting us know it's an older app that doesn't support the feature so things may be broken. If the app was written to only support a fixed size, multi-window mode is closed and that app takes the entire screen.

We already knew from hacking Samsung's Multi-Window feature that most apps just shrink down to one side or the other without much of a fuss if they aren't officially supported, and our time with the Nougat Developer Preview shows the same results. While the code used to do things is a good bit different as an Android native feature, the basic concept remains and apps that use best practices in the code look and work the same, only smaller. But not every app plays nice and we hope developers will soon update those to handle things gracefully even if they don't change anything else.

Finally, if you don't want to use multi-window on your phone, you don't have to. All Android apps will still run full screen until you tell them to change their view.

Android 7.0 Nougat

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1 week ago

Android 7.0 brings DVR features and picture-in-picture to Android TV

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Changes to the "time-shift" and multiwindow APIs for Android TV will make for a better living room.

Google didn't forget about the big-screen experience in Android 7.0, and two new features are here that are designed to enhance the experience on your Android-powered television.

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1 week ago

Galaxy Note 7 teardown reveals what's underneath the glass exterior

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It's time to see what's underneath that Gorilla Glass 5 back.

The folks at iFixit have managed to get their hands on a brand-new Galaxy Note 7, giving us a look at the innards of Samsung's latest flagship. The Note 7 has the same Sony IMX 260 camera sensor as the Galaxy S7 and S7 edge, but we're treated to two camera sensors at the front — one for the front camera and the other for the new iris scanner.

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1 week ago

Best cheap cases for OnePlus 3

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Best cheap cases for OnePlus 3

What's the best cheap case for OnePlus 3?

The OnePlus 3 is an inexpensive phone, but you of course still want to protect it. That being said, you might want to match what you spent on the phone to what you'll spend on a case, relatively speaking.

So, if you're not in for the expensive, bulletproof cases, then opt for one (or all) of our favorite cheap cases for the OnePlus 3. Cheap doesn't have to mean bad!

TUDIA slim-fit Heavy Duty Extreme

TUDIA Slim-fit Heavy Duty Extreme

Even though you're opting for an inexpensive case, that's no reason to skimp on protection. The TUDIA slim-fit Heavy Duty Extreme comprises two layers: an inner layer of shock-absorbing TPU and an outer layer of hard polycarbonate.

You have raised edges around the front of your phone to protect the screen when you place it face-down, and you've got a raised edge around the camera lens so that you won't be taking photos of just cracks any time soon.

This case's cutouts are quite precise, so you won't have to worry about taking it off to charge or take photos, and it fits snugly, making that TPU inner layer more effective.

The Heavy Duty Extreme comes in matte black, metallic slate, mint, and rose, so choose one to match your style.

If you want an expensive case feel with great protection for around $13, then the TUDIA Heavy Duty Extreme is the case you want.

See at Amazon

Spigen Rugged Armor

Spigen Rugged Armor

Spigen just makes great cases. I've had an used quite a few of them and they always fit just right. The Rugged Armor case is the perfect blend of solid protection and a slim fit that doesn't add much bulk or weight to the OnePlus 3.

Some cases, especially those with polycarbonate backs, can be slippery to hold, but the Spigen Rugged Armor case is made entirely of soft TPU, with a textured feel that's easy to hang on to.

The inside of the case has a spiderweb design, which disperses impact around the entire case, and each corner employs Spigen's "Air Cushion technology," which leaves a pocket of air between the phone and the case, again in order to disperse impact. If you've ever dropped a naked phone on its corner, you'll understand why this is very important.

If you're looking for solid protection and a non-slip, textured phone case, then the Spigen Rugged Armor is a great way to go.

See at Amazon

Love Ying Crystal Clear Ultra

Love Ying

If you'd like to add a little pizzazz to your OnePlus 3 — but not too much — the Love Ying Crystal Clear Ultra series of cases is a great minimalist option for something inexpensive yet effective.

These Love Ying cases are made of soft TPU and protect your OnePlus 3 from dirt, dust, scratches, and bumps. These are the most rugged cases but will protect your phone from everyday wear and tear.

Coming in mint, purple, clear, and pink, they add a lovely translucent color to your phone, so you can appreciate its design while adding a splash of personality.

Be aware that TPU can turn yellow over time, due to the way it absorbs sunlight, but that shouldn't be for quite a while, so grab a few of these cases (they're only around $7) and enjoy!

See at Amazon

OnePlus Protective Cases

One Plus Protective Case

Manufacturers may not make the coolest cases for their phones, but they at least usually fit pretty well. That being said, the OnePlus Protective cases from OnePlus are cool as hell!

You have five different case materials to choose from: Sandstone, Karbon, Black Apricot, Rosewood, and Bamboo, and they're all made from the materials after which they're named, mixed with kevlar (except sandstone – it's polycarbonate)! First off, who's ever even heard of Black Apricot, let alone had a phone case made out of it? Second, these cases are very lightweight and snap on easily, protecting the back and sides of your phone from bumps and scratches.

The top and bottom of the your OnePlus 3 are left open, so you don't have to worry about the cutouts being precise or not and removing the case is that much easier.

The cases range in price from $19.95 (Sandstone) to $24.95 (the rest), which is quite inexpensive when you consider what other phone manufacturer's charge for proprietary cases.

If you want a case that's unique, made of something other than TPU, silicone, or polycarbonate, and rather stylish, then grab one from OnePlus. It'll fit your phone well and you know people are going to ask you about it!

See at OnePlus

Cruzerlite Bugdroid Circuit case

Cruzerlite Bugdroid Circuit

Cruzerlite's Bugdroid Circuit case is a quirky and fun TPU case that features the Android Bugdroid (of course, he's Lloyd here at AC) on the back, with a sort of circuit board pattern. It's a great case for diehard Android fans and folks who are looking for a lightweight case that won't fatten up their OnePlus 3 too much.

This case comes in black, blue, clear, green, orange, red, smoke, and teal, so you'll be able to find one that matches your personal style.

As far as phone cases go, this one is a pretty run-of-the-mill TPU shell, but the design is really cool and the softer cases are better for shock absorption. Plus, they're only around $10, which is why they're one of the best cheap cases you can find for the OnePlus 3!

See at Amazon


Ringke Fusion

Ringke Fusion

The Ringke Fusion offers versatility in its design, with soft TPU around the edges and a hard polycarbonate back, expertly protecting your OnePlus 3 from all manner of scratches, scuffs, and bumps.

The clear back of the case means you get to admire the metal composition of your phone, but if you so choose, Ringke sends along a DIY template (basically a piece of cardboard) that helps you shape photos or images that you print out so that they fit perfectly in your case. Boom, you have a custom phone case design that you can switch out as often as you like!

You have your choice of two edge accents: Crystal View or Smoke Black.

The Ringke Fusion starts around $12 and is perfect for anyone looking to bridge the gap between a rugged case and a minimalist case.

See at Amazon

What's on your phone?

What inexpensive case did you pick up for your OnePlus 3? Was it worth it to go the cheap route? Sound off in the comments below!

OnePlus 3

OnePlus

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1 week ago

High-speed wireless networks are everywhere, but the U.S. is way behind on data speeds

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The U.S. lags behind many countries in terms of data rates, but a rising tide has lifted worldwide access and speeds.

If you live in any sort of relatively populated area around the world, chances are you have access to a solid LTE or at least 3G connection. High-speed mobile networks are practically ubiquitous, but that doesn't mean the experience is anywhere near the same around the world. Data from OpenSignal's latest State of Mobile Networks report backs up this notion, showing how widespread mobile connectivity is today, as just how big of a disparity there is in terms of data speeds around the world.

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1 week ago

How to avoid a driving warning in Pokémon Go

How do I avoid that annoying driving warning in Pokémon Go?

How many times a day do you hit that "I'm a passenger" button? Too many. In an attempt to decrease the number of Pokémon Go players in the world who think it's a good idea to play while driving, Niantic's last update added a pop-up message when the GPS determines you exceeding the speeds humans are able to travel using two legs.

You can dismiss the message quickly by letting the app know you're a passenger, but there's a whole lot of people out there tired of seeing this warning pop up when they're not anywhere near a moving vehicle.

Since Pokémon Go relies heavily on GPS for most of the game's behaviors, there are ways to avoid this driving warning in many situations. Here are some quick tips!

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1 week ago

The Honor 8 is more important to the U.S. market than you think

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The Honor 8 brings premium hardware from the Huawei-owned brand to the United States for the first time — and that's a big deal.

The Honor 8 has officially launched in the United States, bringing increased competition to the $400-level "affordable flagship" segment. Owned by Chinese tech giant Huawei, Honor intends to challenge the likes of OnePlus among younger people and tech-savvy phone buyers with an impressive glass and metal design, impressive internals and a competitive price point. Throw in some serious pomp and ceremony — and celebrity brand ambassadors like Brooklyn Beckham — and you've got a notable product launch during what is turning into a very busy summer for smartphones.

But beyond the launch-day hype and beautiful hands-on photos, what really matters about the latest from Huawei and Honor? Let's dive in with some first thoughts.

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1 week ago

Galaxy Note 7 benchmarks: Exynos vs. Snapdragon head-to-head

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Which version of the Galaxy Note 7 is faster: the Snapdragon 820 or Exynos 8890 version? Benchmarks, anyone?

It's always been our opinion that benchmark apps for Android phones really only tell you how well a phone runs the benchmark apps. They give a score that, while meaningful in some ways, tend to be used as some sort of gospel about how one phone is clearly better than another when that's not really the case. And they can be confusing for some folks who aren't exactly sure what any of those scores mean. We usually forgo running any or talking about them at any length and instead focus on the user experience.

This time, we're going to venture into the benchmark waters because we have both the Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 version and the Exynos 8890 version of the Galaxy Note 7 here. Samsung promises that users won't see any real-world performance differences between the two — and we agree — but we wanted to see the synthetic differences from a handful of benchmark testing apps in Google Play. We're not going to read too much into any of this, and we're certainly not about to declare any winner. Both models offer the same experience while you're using them. For the folks who do care about those numbers but may not have an opportunity to get both models, here are the results.

About the tests

We tested a Samsung SM-N930F (UK model) with an Exynos 8890 CPU and a Samsung SM-N930T (U.S. T-Mobile model) with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 820. Both phones have the same basic configuration — a personal account, a work account, and a small handful of apps from the Play Store installed.

Nothing special was done before we tested. We used the phone normally, installed the apps, then ran the tests without restarting or clearing anything or killing any apps. We even tested in the evening after a day of normal use. None of the phone's features were disabled. Really, we treated them like we do every phone and just ran the apps we installed to benchmark them.

Geekbench 3

Geekbench 3 has several tests that aim to simulate real-world CPU performance, and can utilize all of the processor cores. The results are calculated and returned as an overall indicator of your phone's processor performance in both single core tests and multicore tests. Higher scores are better.

As expected, the Exynos clearly calculates and processes data "better" than the Snapdragon. Surprisingly, the single core scores are both much lower than leaked benchmark results from early versions. We'll attribute that to two things — fully set up devices with apps and account synchronization running, and not clearing app cache and killing off the background processes. But keep in mind that a lower multi-core score on the Snapdragon 820 is expected because it has four cores, half the number as the Exynos 8890.

Download Geekbench 3

AnTuTu 6

AnTuTu runs a series of tests of four key areas of your phone's performance — the processor, 3D graphics ability, memory, and user interface. The results are calculated and delivered as four individual scores, with a higher score being better.

The Exynos again scores better in processor performance testing, but the Snapdragon marks higher in 3D and user interface features. The RAM testing is as expected — both phones have the same memory modules and controllers, and the results are identical within an acceptable margin of error.

Download AnTuTu Benchmark

GFXBench

GFXBench measures graphics performance with a focus on long-term performance stability, render quality and power consumption. The tests use high-quality and high polygon 3D graphics, and we tested the off-screen versions of the Car Chase, both Manhattan and Manhattan 3.1, and T-Rex at 1080p.The results are the average frames per second (fps) for each test.

We are unable to compare the results of the render quality tests because our Exynos version would only return an Out Of Memory error. The Snapdragon version scored 2510 for the standard render quality test, and 3632 for the HQ render quality tests. These numbers are the PNSR (peak-to-peak signal-to-noise) values.

Download GFXBench

Hipxel's Disk Speed and Performance

This benchmark measures the read and write speeds of the internal memory in MB/s. The labels can be confusing as both tests (internal and external) are measuring the built-in internal memory and not any SD card or other attached storage.

The internal tests are the read and write speeds of the phone's application data storage partition. This is where the private data is stored and where most apps are installed. The external tests measure the speeds of the internal SD card storage, where media and some application data is stored.

The app will measure SD card performance, but we choose to pass on that test as we don't have two brand-new SD cards of the same make and model to use for a comparison. The results would be similar, and won't show any measurable differences.

Download Disk Speed/Performance Test by Hipxel

What does this mean?

Not a lot, really.

Sure, the Exynos has a "better" CPU and the Snapdragon has a "better" GPU if you go strictly by the numbers in these benchmarking apps. Both phones have the same memory and the same storage, as well as the same parts and logic to control each, and the results reflect that.

But using them will always count more than any benchmark numbers. As mentioned, we were curious and had both versions so we're sharing with people who are curious as well. Don't use these as proof of anything, and we'll call them both winners — it's like youth soccer where everyone wins a trophy because it's all good.

Feel free to do what you will with the numbers in the comments.

Samsung Galaxy Note 7

Verizon AT&T T-Mobile Sprint

img { width: 100%; height: auto; } .devicebox ul { display: table; margin: 0 0 10px; width: 100%; } .devicebox ul li { background: #f7f7f7; margin: 2px 0; padding: 4px 15px; } .devicebox ul li:hover { background: #fff; } .devicebox ul li:before { display: none; } .devicebox p ~ p { line-height: 1.25; } .devicebox p:first-of-type + p { padding: 15px; } .devicebox a.buy-link { border-radius: 5px; display: inline-block; font: 14px/31px "Proxima Nova Extrabld",Helvetica,Arial,sans-serif; text-align: center; } .devicebox a.buy-link, .devicebox a.buy-link:link, .devicebox a.buy-link:active, .devicebox a.buy-link:visited { background: #37B5D7; color: #FFF; } .devicebox a.buy-link:hover { background: #2694B2; text-decoration: none; } .devicebox a.buy-link:before { content: "\e61e"; font: 40px/0 "ac_iconset" !important; margin: 0 3px 0 -8px; vertical-align: middle; } @media all and (min-width: 1025px), all and (max-width: 800px) and (min-width: 660px) { /* div:not(.columns-3) excludes help menu content */ .article-body-wrap > div:not(.columns-3) > *:first-child:not(.sticky-wrapper) .devicebox { padding: 20px 0 25px; } .article-body-wrap > div:not(.columns-3) > *:first-child:not(.sticky-wrapper) .devicebox .video { float: left; margin: 0 30px 0 0; width: calc(100% - 375px); } .article-body-wrap > div:not(.columns-3) > *:first-child:not(.sticky-wrapper) .devicebox h3 + p { bottom: 37px; display: block; overflow: hidden; position: absolute; top: 60px; width: calc(100% - 375px); } .article-body-wrap > div:not(.columns-3) > *:first-child:not(.sticky-wrapper) .devicebox p img, .article-body-wrap > div:not(.columns-3) > *:first-child:not(.sticky-wrapper) .devicebox p > img { position: absolute; top: 50%; transform: translateY(-50%); } .article-body-wrap > div:not(.columns-3) > *:first-child:not(.sticky-wrapper) .devicebox p:nth-child(n+3), .article-body-wrap > div:not(.columns-3) > *:first-child:not(.sticky-wrapper) .devicebox ul { box-sizing: border-box; margin-left: calc(100% - 345px); width: 340px; } .article-body-wrap > div:not(.columns-3) > *:first-child:not(.sticky-wrapper) .devicebox p.list-head { margin-top: -5px; } } @media all and (max-width: 1024px) and (min-width: 801px), all and (max-width: 660px) { .devicebox h3 { text-align: center; } .devicebox ul, .devicebox p { display: block; } } @media all and (max-width: 800px) and (min-width: 660px) { .devicebox { padding: 20px 0 25px; } .devicebox .video { float: left; margin: 0 30px 0 0; width: calc(100% - 375px); } .devicebox h3 + p { bottom: 37px; display: block; overflow: hidden; position: absolute; top: 60px; width: calc(100% - 375px); } .devicebox p img, .devicebox p > img { position: absolute; top: 50%; transform: translateY(-50%); } .devicebox p:nth-child(n+3), .devicebox ul { box-sizing: border-box; margin-left: calc(100% - 345px); width: 340px; } .devicebox p.list-head { margin-top: -5px; } } @media all and (min-width: 1025px), all and (max-width: 800px) and (min-width: 661px), all and (max-width: 500px) { /* 2x buy buttons */ .devicebox a.buy-link { width: calc(50% - 2.5px); margin: 0 5px 5px 0; } .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-of-type(even) { margin: 0 0 5px 0; } .devicebox a.buy-link:last-of-type:nth-of-type(odd) { width: 100%; } } @media all and (max-width: 1024px) and (min-width: 801px), all and (max-width: 659px) and (min-width: 501px) { /* 3x buy buttons */ .devicebox a.buy-link { width: calc(100%/3 - 10px/3); margin: 0 5px 5px 0; } .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-of-type(3n):not(:nth-last-of-type(2)) { margin: 0 0 5px 0; } .devicebox a.buy-link:only-child { width: 100%; margin: 0 0 5px 0; } .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-last-of-type(2):nth-of-type(3n+1), .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-last-of-type(2):nth-of-type(3n+1) ~ a.buy-link, .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-last-of-type(4):nth-of-type(3n+1), .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-last-of-type(4):nth-of-type(3n+1) ~ a.buy-link { width: calc(50% - 2.5px); } .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-last-of-type(2):nth-of-type(3n+1) ~ a.buy-link, .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-last-of-type(4):nth-of-type(3n+1) ~ a.buy-link:nth-last-of-type(odd) { margin: 0 0 5px 0; } } @media all and (max-width: 800px) { .devicebox { margin: 0 0 30px; max-width: none; width: auto; } } @media all and (max-width: 500px) { .devicebox { margin: 0 0 30px; max-width: none; width: auto; } .devicebox a.buy-link:before { display: none; } } .page-admin .devicebox {max-width: 350px;} .page-admin .devicebox .video_iframe {position: relative; height: 0; padding-bottom: 56.9%;} .page-admin .devicebox .video_iframe iframe {width: 100%; height: 100%; position: absolute;} /*-->*/ /*-->*/ /*-->*/

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1 week ago

Join the Dark Side with these awesome AMOLED-friendly wallpapers

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There are a lot of wallpapers out there. Unfortunately, most of them are bright and busy.

That can be a problem. Maybe you want a simple wallpaper for their elegance. Maybe you want a dark wallpaper that lights up less of your screen. Maybe you want a clean wallpaper so it's easier to see what's actually on your screen instead of being overwhelmed by the wallpaper. Maybe you just like black because it goes with everything, from your shoes to your shirts to your soul. Whatever your reasons, we've got the ultra-dark wallpapers for you.

Stormtrooper

Most stormtrooper wallpapers are as white as the day is long, but this minimalist wall flips the script and shows what would be a terrifying sight to any self-respecting rebel scum: the mask of an Imperial Stormtrooper creeping out of the shadows to put you in its terribly aimed sights…

Stormtrooper

Neptune and Triton

Space. A seemingly endless void where no one can hear you scream… But there's still a serene peace to it. Even on a distant and bitterly cold planet like Neptune, we can find beauty and tranquility.

Neptune and Triton

Tron Light Cycle Wallpaper

Try and tell me you don't want a light cycle. Just try. You can't do it. They're so cool, and whatever you thought of Tron Legacy (and the threequel that got canned), the way it did light cycles was even cooler, and such a dark wallpaper meshes well with our setups, and our souls.

Tron Light Cycle Wallpaper

Batman Beyond

Okay, I take back my earlier statement. The Stormtrooper isn't that terrifying. If I was in a dark alley and all I saw were two glowing eyes and the bat symbol, I'd be scared witless, and I'm not even a criminal. Batman is a badass and the only line he won't cross is releasing you to the sweet, sweet mercy of death after breaking every bone in your body. He is a symbol of justice to the masses and a symbol of terror to those who would do wrong.

Batman Beyond

Beauty and the Beast Minimalist Wallpaper by chrisaloo

Great as the film was, there's something about musicals that can (and in many cases do) surpass the original. Musicals are where we see the awesome numbers that were cut from the film for timing. Musicals are where we can see new depth to storylines we knew and loved as a kid.

Who says princesses can't be dark? Now excuse me, I need to go belt out 'Home' in a dark tower somewhere…

Beauty and the Beast Minimalist Wallpaper by chrisaloo

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1 week ago

These Galaxy Note 7 cases are just $7 for a limited time!

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Update: All of the coupons have been redeemed. Be sure to keep an eye out for more deals!

If you've placed an order for the Galaxy Note 7 and have been looking for a case for it, you'll want to check these out. Right now, you can score a number of Caseology's cases for just $7 with a coupon code, which is a pretty awesome deal. Depending on which color you are interested in adding to your Note 7, or whether you want something protective or slim, there are some great options here to check out.

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1 week ago

Spigen U100 Universal Kickstand review

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Spigen U100 Universal Kickstand review

We check out Spigen's new universal kickstand for your phone!

Spigen is great at pretty much all things to do with phone accessories. Their cases fit exceptionally well, their style ring is one of the most oddly convenient accessories ever, and now they've got their U100 Universal Kickstand to try and add to that legacy. But does it live up to Spigen's reputation?

This kickstand does exactly what it's supposed to do: it stands your phone up on an angle for hands-free viewing and gaming. Whether it's well-made or works well is a bit of a different story.

Let's break things down in terms of:

Aesthetic

U100

No one wants to admit they're shallow, but come on: the first thing you notice is how a phone accessory looks. Lucky for all of us, the Spigen U100 Universal Kickstand is a pretty slick little product.

It's a sleek and good-looking, minimalist accessory.

If you have a phone with a metallic back, it looks particularly sexy, thanks to its silver metal composition and compact design. It basically looks like a slightly larger tie clip with the Spigen logo etched into it.

The closer your phone is to the color of the kickstand, the more it blends in and actually just looks like it's built-in. However, if you use it with a slightly curved phone, like the HTC 10 (like I did), then you'll notice it a lot more from the sides.

All in all, it's a sleek and good-looking minimalist accessory that doesn't scream "cheap" and won't detract from your phone's good looks.

Design

U100

I'll start this section off by saying that this kickstand is meant exclusively for phones with mostly flat backs. It works with the HTC 10, but I mainly use a Moto X Pure Edition and the kickstand won't stick at all, both because of the phone's curvature and its textured back (depending on the customization).

The way the U100 works is via what Spigen calls "one-touch technology" and "semi-automatic spring tension". Really, it's essentially a spring-loaded leg that is held in place by a magnet and deployed when you slide your nail under the indentation at the bottom of the stand. If you have short nails, you may have a hard time unlatching the leg.

That being said, the magnet really holds the leg in place nicely; repeatedly shaking my phone, trying to loosen it, did not dislodge it.

When not in use, the kickstand is about 5mm thick, which, depending on where you place it, may make things feel a bit strange when regularly using your phone or taking a call. I situated mine just under the camera lens as Spigen recommends, and gripping it during a call has never felt comfortable.

Be gentle: The stand is thin strip of metal that can withstand almost no pressure.

The adhesive is made by 3M and sticks fairly well, although not as well as the adhesives Spigen was using for their first run of Style Rings (the ring broke before the adhesive let go!). Our recommendation is to make sure you place the kickstand exactly where you want it – constantly replacing it diminishes the stickiness. And if you have it almost in place and try to slide it into better placement, it'll just move back to where it was; 3M's adhesive is quite elastic.

U100

Regarding the metal composition of the kickstand, I'm a little put off. It doesn't look cheap; it doesn't feel cheap, but somehow it is flimsy.

I assume you won't be trying to bend it to test its limits, but when I tried to bend the stand leg on its own, it did so to a point and then just snapped, and it was not difficult to do. When I tested how much pressure I could place on the stand, the leg just snapped right off before I applied as much force as I had planned – the holes that the pins on the leg sit in make for an incredibly thin strip of metal that can withstand almost no pressure.

All in all, the kickstand is fairly well-made, but never pick your phone up by the stand leg or apply too much downward pressure or it will likely snap off in your hand. Also, don't sit on it. Just don't. Trust me.

Functionality

U100

As I said at the beginning of this review, the U100 Universal Kickstand does exactly what it's meant to. So long as you place it properly on your phone, it will prop it up and you will be able to watch videos hands-free.

It's also rather convenient, since that "one-touch technology" claim is pretty true, however obvious it may be. The magnet is secure, but not so strong that you have to pry the leg away with a crowbar.

The U100 Universal Kickstand does exactly what it's meant to.

I tried the U100 in both orientations on the back of my HTC 10; I placed it horizontally and vertically and both ways work just fine, though placing it vertically makes your phone easier to knock over.

When placed horizontally, it looks like your phone is being held up with a small popsicle stick and it really looks like it should be tipping all over the place, but it's actually perfectly stable when the kickstand's in use and might even work in the car on a portable lap desk.

The "semi-automatic spring tension" is quite handy, since once you pop the leg off, it springs into action and that's it — you're ready to go. Basically, everything about the kickstand works like it should and like you want it to. What more can you really ask for?

Final verdict

U100

Despite some design flaws, the Spigen Universal U100 Kickstand is very handy. If you can get used to the way it feels on the back of your phone, it's a convenient, minimalist way to watch YouTube and be able to eat dinner at the same time.

It looks great and works just like it should, so if you're looking for an accessory in this vein, you have no reason not to pick this one up … as long as your phone has a flat back.

See at Amazon

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1 week ago

No, we don't need a 'flat' Galaxy Note 7 model

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Here's the thing: we already have a 'flat' Galaxy Note 7.

When the Galaxy Note 7 was announced and Samsung talked about how wonderful the curved display was, Note fans were riled up about the prospect that there wasn't a "flat" version announced alongside it. And to be fair to them, we've had simultaneous curved and flat variations of Samsung flagships for the past four iterations — it became an expectation.

To set the stage here, I'm hardly a fan of the Galaxy S7 edge's curved screen design and what it does to hurt usability — no matter how cool it may look while doing it. Especially when considering that the accompanying "Edge UX" software is useless at best and completely duplicative at worst. And for that reason, I totally sympathized with the group who immediately cried foul over seeing that there was no "flat" version of the Galaxy Note 7 — not understanding the differences, it was frustrating to think that the only Note 7 you could buy was to be saddled with the same curved edges that make the phone harder to use.

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