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3 days ago

OnePlus 5T vs. OnePlus 3T: Should you upgrade?

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OnePlus 5T and OnePlus 3T

The iterative march can make it tough to know when to upgrade.

The average OnePlus phone owner likely upgrades faster than owners of other brands, but even they have limits. Most won't drop the money to get a new phone every six months ... but jumping up every year is totally reasonable. With the release of the OnePlus 5T there are a whole lot of OnePlus 3T owners eyeballing this upgrade who understandably passed on the quick jump to the original OnePlus 5 while their own purchase was still nice and fresh. And there are probably many OnePlus 3 owners feeling the same way, not wanting to wait another half a year for whatever succeeds it.

Whether you're hanging onto a OnePlus 3 or the slightly upgraded 3T, we want to give you the information you need to know if the OnePlus 5T is a worthy upgrade at $499.

What's the same

OnePlus 5T and OnePlus 3T

OnePlus has held a pretty amazing consistency in its flagships from the original OnePlus One up to today's 5T. Though the exterior of the OnePlus 5T looks quite different from the 3 or 3T, the core experience of using the phone hasn't changed all that much. Android 7.1 Nougat on the OnePlus 3 and 3T is near-identical to what ships on the 5T, and all three phones are slated for the Android 8.0 Oreo update by the end of 2017.

The core experience of using the phone hasn't changed much from the OnePlus 3 to the 5T.

Performance, too, is extremely consistent between the phones. Though the OnePlus 3 may seem "old" to phone nerds, its Snapdragon 820 processor and 6GB of RAM are more than capable of pushing this nimble OxygenOS software and all of the latest apps at nearly the same pace as a Snapdragon 835 and (potentially) 8GB of RAM on the latest OnePlus 5T.

Beyond the software being displayed on the screen, the core hardware experience hasn't changed much either. We'll talk about the design changes below, but when you think about the basic hardware features — like ports, buttons, speaker, radios, etc. — you'll find few discrepancies between the previous generation and the latest. Again, it's worth remembering that even the OnePlus 3 isn't particularly old at this point, and when it was released it had most of the latest and greatest internals — they've aged well.

What's different

OnePlus 5T and OnePlus 3T

The most obvious difference with this upgrade is the change of hardware design. OnePlus is using the same simple, solid and efficient hardware in the 5T as it did back with the 3, but it's much more sleek and refined in 2017. The OnePlus 5T has a bit more character, more polish and more style when set next to the generic-looking OnePlus 3. The feel isn't much different between the two, but looks are important.

There's no doubt the OnePlus 5T feels like a far more 'modern' phone.

The same goes with the view from the front, where the 6-inch 2:1 display on the OnePlus 5T just feels more modern compared to the larger bezels surrounding a 5.5-inch 16:9 display on the older phones. And it isn't just for looks: you get the benefit of more usable screen space in effectively the same package, too, and the fingerprint sensor is just as usable on the back of the phone. The Optic AMOLED display panel itself isn't notably improved from last year, but getting more of it in the same basic package is a win-win.

We've established that the OnePlus 5T doesn't necessarily have a huge lead in terms of performance today compared to the older phones, but its newer specs certainly give it a longer runway into the future. The Snapdragon 820 holds up just fine today, but how about in another year? It won't feel the same as the 5T's Snapdragon 835. And that brings up a larger point about the future of software on these phones: the OnePlus 3 and 3T are likely done with official software support following the Oreo update, while the 5T will see at least the "P" release in 2018.

The 5T's specs aren't game-changing today, but they will help a ton going forward.

The one clear point of differentiation in terms of specs and their actual effect on your daily use right off the bat will be when talking about battery. The OnePlus 3's 3000mAh capacity is of course 10% smaller than the 5T's 3300mAh, but the newer phone also has a much more efficient processor on board to make better use of it. That's a real-world improvement you'll see in battery life day after day. Now when talking about the OnePlus 3T with its 3400mAh capacity, you won't see much of a difference — you can't argue with that extra capacity.

The camera comparison between these phones is a bit of a mixed bag as well. You can quite easily argue that the OnePlus 5T's newer sensor, secondary lens for low light and Portrait Mode as a complete package is better overall than the single 16MP camera on the OnePlus 3 and 3T. But in many shooting conditions that old camera — with its optical image stabilization — is going to do an admirable job that'll compare favorably to the OnePlus 5T. Yes the newer phone has more features, but in terms of raw shot-to-shot photo quality OnePlus just hasn't made massive strides in the last year.

Should you upgrade?

As you can see, OnePlus hasn't made huge improvements in features or performance when comparing the OnePlus 5T to even the original OnePlus 3. But that really is more of a testament to how well the OnePlus 3 has held up over time than the OnePlus 5T being unattractive on its own. OnePlus takes a relatively conservative approach, and isn't particularly willing to throw out features or specs with the new phone — it instead refines in some areas and adds in others to give you a better phone with each generation.

This isn't a 'sure thing' sort of upgrade, but you can find reason for it — and it may not be expensive.

When you look at things this way, it's easy to say that your can be happy with your OnePlus 3T or even OnePlus 3 at the end of 2017, choosing to not drop the extra money on a new OnePlus 5T that isn't a substantial upgrade. Yes the hardware is nicer, the screen is larger and the specs give you more runway for the future; but today you'll get almost the same experience using a OnePlus 3 as you do on the OnePlus 5T.

The one thing making this upgrade decision interesting is how well OnePlus phones seem to hold their value on the used market. Browsing OnePlus listings on popular trade site Swappa shows OnePlus 3s still selling for over $200, and 3Ts often snagging upwards of $300. That's a solid return on a phone that's at least a year old, and gets you about half way toward your new OnePlus 5T, should you decide to upgrade.

If you're willing to sell on your OnePlus 3 or 3T, you can hop onto the latest and greatest from the company for what comes out to a modest investment. And in doing so, you're getting a phone with a longer runway into the future and the same great day-to-day OnePlus experience you already know and love.

OnePlus 5T and OnePlus 5

OnePlus Amazon

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3 days ago

'Bit Rot' explained: Why your phone is slower than when it was new

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Your phone was faster yesterday than it is today, and will be slower tomorrow. Bit Rot is a real thing.

Computers are kind of like people — as they age they tend to get a little slower and flaws are easier to see.

Our phones are computers shrunk down to be pocket-sized and easy to carry around. And that means as time goes by, things aren't happening as quickly as they used to or things can get a little buggy. This is universal; it happens to Galaxy phones and LG phones and Pixel phones and iPhones and every other phone that does more than make calls and send texts. Some people say they don't see it happening, and that's because of why it happens and the way software is written for all the different phones out in the wild. But it is still happening on your phone right now, and always will be.

Let's take a look at what is commonly known as "Bit Rot" and see if we can't understand things a little better.

What is Bit Rot, exactly?

It's a term that gets thrown around a lot by people who are into computers, and it basically means that the software is "old" and has become slower than it used to be. There are three things at play, and they're well documented even if they're not very easy to understand: Software Erosion, Software Entropy, and Software Bloat.

First, some outliers

Sometimes there can be other factors, too. Data Degradation and Feature Creep can cause programs and apps to slow down, but they're easier to explain and are a little different than what we call Bit Rot. Data Degradation is a fancy word that means your memory — either the RAM, the storage or both — is getting old. RAM and Solid State media require an electric charge and over time it can disperse more than it was designed to do. This means some of the stored bits (software bits) can be changed. When a few bits are wrong, many programs can compensate but that takes time and the programs are a little slower. When a lot of bits are wrong things pretty much stop working as intended.

Data degradation and feature creep can make your phone slower, too, but are different from Bit Rot.

Feature Creep is easy to understand. Your phone was built with a specific set of software in mind. When you get an update that adds more features, the hardware has to work harder and things get slower. Online forums are filled with people who hated a recent update on their Galaxy phone and people with older iPhones who hate the latest version of iOS. That's because the software was written with newer and more capable hardware in mind, just like the software your phone originally shipped with was. We all love new features and updates, but the old adage "be careful what you wish for" is right on the money here.

These issues can certainly have an effect, but they're different from Bit Rot and probably aren't contributing much towards any slowness on our phones because we don't keep them long enough to see it in action.

Software Erosion

Software Erosion is the slow but steady deterioration of performance that can happen to any software, whether it's something we use a lot or just a little. Or even never. This happens because we use the software and all applications change when they're used — we add user data to the base so that the software does what we want it to do. Note that this is different than software getting slow or buggy while we're using it a lot but goes back to normal with a restart. That's usually due to small errors accumulating over time or a memory leak. You can't fix Software Erosion by closing and re-opening an app or restarting your phone.

All software has bugs and all software needs regular maintenance it never gets.

There are two different types of Software Erosion, dormant and active. Dormant software erosion happens when a program or parts of a program you don't use stop working well because other things changed, and active erosion happens because of changes while you're using it. Both types happen because of a few different reasons.

  • Unused or leftover code can (and often does) contain bugs that don't get caught.

All software has bugs, no matter what a developer or user says. When a company changes some code there's a very good chance some of the original code is never going to be used but is still built into the final product. Bugs here aren't as likely to get caught and can have an immediate effect or one that takes a while to show up.

  • Changes because the software isn't user-friendly happen a lot.

A developer builds software with a specific idea of how we will use it, but once it gets into our hands we often don't use it that way! Sometimes this isn't our fault and software has a poorly implemented interface so we do things a developer never thought we would. Other times it is our fault and we do things like make multiple accounts or run multiple instances of an app or function that wasn't designed to run that way. This can leave user data or cached data that is more difficult for an app to process.

  • Lack of updates and maintenance are bad.

Any developer will tell you that the job isn't finished once the program is published, and software needs to be maintained. This means fixing bugs users find, but also frequent updates to work well with other software. Lack of regular maintenance across the board is the biggest cause of Software Erosion.

The "Android" that runs on your phone is actually a big group of independently running programs and services that need to communicate with each other constantly. An example: Facebook makes another change on their servers, then updates the app in Google Play. Your Contacts app ties into Facebook, so it might need an update. Or your camera gets an update but the gallery application that's tied to it doesn't. All the parts of the system need to work with all the other parts, and that means regular maintenance.

The good news here is that a lot of Software Erosion problems are fixed with a factory reset where all the user data is wiped. The bad news is that it all comes back eventually.

Software Entropy

All software that we can't change has bugs and unused code (see above). These bugs will probably stay unchanged over time, but can get worse as the complexity of software we can change increases. This is called Software Entropy.

The software you change affects the software you can't change because the system itself gets more complex.

Most of the software on your phone is in a closed system. You might be able to update the keyboard or camera app from the Play Store, but the bulk of the operating system is installed at the factory and only changed with a full system update. This is very different from all the apps, both factory-installed user apps and ones you installed yourself. The software you can change gets more complex over time and the software you can't change has to deal with it.

The people who wrote the software on your phone are pretty darn smart when it comes to all of this. But nobody can know the things we'll do, what new apps will be capable of doing, and how apps designed for one set of APIs (application programming interfaces), for instance, Samsung's APIs from their software development kit, will work with apps designed for another set of APIs, like the ones from Google that are part of Android. The developers have to do their best to guess and make the software in a way that won't break and hope for the best.

There are two ways to fight Software Entropy — regular software maintenance through timely updates, or resetting the user software back to the factory state.

Software Bloat

This isn't what the name suggests, though extra bloatware apps can and do cause things to run slower. Software Bloat when talking about Bit Rot means software that is filled with extra or unused features.

The more features added to any program, the more complex it will be. Complexity makes applications slower.

"Extra" features are impossible to define. Apps, or parts of apps, that I don't use are extraneous to me, but you might use and love them. From a computer's point of view, the only good application is one that does only one thing then closes itself once finished. This is impractical from a user point of view; imagine a keyboard app that closed after each letter was typed. The companies that make the phones we love have to find a happy medium between features and performance by using the right hardware or cutting back on features in apps. That could mean adding more RAM and using a faster processor or trimming features from an app, or both.

Another part of the "extra" features is software that has to be able to handle multiple (and often competing) standards. Your email applications are a great example of this. If you use Gmail and use the Gmail app, things are a lot more streamlined than they would be if you're using the other email app with a Gmail account, or an Exchange account, or something like a Yahoo! POP3 account. The Email app has to be able to do things the Gmail app can't, and has to be able to handle the different types of data we create. This takes time to process and as we add more data it takes more time.

Perhaps the best example of "extra" features and how they affect performance would be comparing Evernote and Google Keep. If you only use the app to take notes, all the extras in Evernote mean it takes a lot more time to add or read them. If you like those extra features, you'll quickly find that Google Keep just can't do most of them. There is no right or wrong here, but this does have a big impact on performance.

Unused "leftover" features can still run and cause problems, and our phones are filled with them.

Unused features are more frustrating because we don't know they are there and we couldn't do anything to change things if we did. When a company like LG (we'll pick on them here, but this applies to every company making phones, even Google) makes a phone with their own apps that are duplicates of "stock" android apps like the phone dialer or the calendar, there is a lot of leftover code that isn't being used. Some of the code still runs when you start your phone, too. We've talked about how this means bugs will be harder to find in that portion of code, but it also can have a big impact on performance. And when Software Entropy is factored in we see how those bugs can get worse and worse over time.

When you see silly arguments in comments about how a phone like the Moto G5 is faster than a Galaxy S8 with half the hardware power, Software Bloat is why.

So what does all this mean and what can I do about it?

That's an easy question — it means that some phones are slower than others and some phones get noticeably slower over time while others are less affected. And there's not really anything we can do about it.

More features mean slower software and more opportunity for Bit Rot to happen. It's a trade many gladly make.

Real talk — a phone like the Note 8 is noticeably slower (and shows it when attached to tools that monitor performance) than a Pixel 2. The Note 8 will get even slower six months or so down the road. But the Pixel 2 will never be able to do some of the things a Note 8 does, no matter how many apps we install or how we hack the crap out of it. I can annotate a screenshot with the S Pen immediately after I capture it on the Note 8, but on the Pixel 2, I have to share the screenshot to another device to annotate it with the same level of features and detail.

Like the Evernote vs. Google Keep argument above, what's better is largely a matter of features that you like. The Note 8 has all the features. This means it has all the bugs and software bloat that makes Bit Rot more noticeable. This could be a problem for you, but for others, it's not because there is no other way to get the feature-set. This is why there are more Android phones than just a Pixel and Pixel Plus and what everyone means when they say Android gives you a choice.

And when Bit Rot ever becomes enough of a problem that you need to do something about it, just factory reset your phone and take a few hours to set everything back up.

Questions?

Sound off in the comments below!

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4 days ago

Cricket Wireless Buyer's Guide: Everything you need to know

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Here's everything you need to know about the AT&T MVNO.

Cricket Wireless is a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) or "alternative carrier". MVNOs lease coverage from the Big Four networks (AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, Verizon) and sell it to customers for less. The benefit of an MVNO is that you experience the same level of service as a customer on one of the larger networks, but you can often find talk, text, and data plans for a fraction of the cost.

Cricket is owned by and leases coverage from AT&T. If you sign up with Cricket, that means you get AT&T's 4G LTE coverage, as well as unlimited plans.

Cricket Wireless coverage map

If you like AT&T's coverage, but you'd prefer a cheaper bill every month, then consider signing up with an MVNO. Here's what you need to know about Cricket Wireless.

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Individual plans

Cricket offers fairly straightforward unlimited talk and text plans with varying allotments of 4G LTE data. All plan prices are flat fees, with taxes and fees included. So you will only pay $30/month if you opt for the $30 plan, for example. All plans, except the $25/month Talk & Text plan, come with unlimited talk, text, and 2G data. Pricing varies depending on how much 4G LTE data you opt for.


The base plan is $25/month and includes only unlimited calling and texting, with no data access or multimedia messaging. $30/month gets you 2GB of 4G LTE data (max 8Mbps) ; $40/month gets you 5GB of 4G LTE and the plan is eligible for the $5/month Auto Pay discount (max 8Mbps); $55/month gets you 22GB of data (max 3Mbps); and $60/month gets you 22GB of 4G LTE up to 8Mbps.

Note: If you want tethering (mobile hotspot), you can get it with the $55 or $60 unlimited plans, but both of them limit high-speed tethering to 8GB of usage.

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Family plans

Cricket calls its family plans "Group Save Discounts". In order to receive the discount, each line of up to 5 lines must be on the $40/month 4GB plan or better. You save more with each line you add, for lines 2 to 5.

You save $10 off the second line, $20 off the third, $30 off the fourth, and $40 off the fifth, so if you have 5 lines, you can save $100 per month. The $5/month Auto Pay credit is not available when you use the Group Save Discount.

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Best Cricket Wireless phones

Since Cricket Wireless operates on AT&T's network, you can bring your own phone, and it can be just about any GSM device. Before you decide, however, you should check compatibility.

If you don't have a phone of your own to bring or want to update, these are the ones you should consider.

Samsung Galaxy S8

Arguably the best Android smartphone available, the Samsung Galaxy S8 is a gorgeous phone with all the bells and whistles you could want in an Android device. It features a lightning-fast fingerprint sensor, as well as facial recognition and iris scanning to unlock it. The infinity display packs even more screen into a smaller form factor, helping to keep it just this side of "phablet" territory. The best part is that, if you join Cricket, you can get it for $699.99, which is $50 less than what AT&T is selling it for! If that price tag is too high, the Galaxy S7 is still holding up remarkably well.

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ZTE Blade X Max

A big phone at a small phone price, the ZTE Blade X Max is incredible value at $99.99. Exclusive to Cricket Wireless, the ZTE Blade X Max features a massive 6-inch HD display, a 1.4GHz octa-core Snapdragon 435 processor, 2GB of RAM, 32GB of storage, a 13MP rear camera, and a 3400mAh battery, all running Android 7.1.1 Nougat.

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How to cancel Cricket Wireless

Cricket might just be the easiest service to cancel in the world. This is a direct quote from its website:

We don't want to see you go! But if you need to cancel your service, just stop paying.

Yeah. That's it. If you haven't paid within 60 days of your last Cricket pay date, your account will be canceled. Just be aware that once it's canceled, that's it: your number is made unavailable, your account is closed, and any remaining balance is removed.

If you have an account with more than one line, you'll have to give Cricket a call at 1-800-274-2538 (1-800-CRICKET) or dial 611 on your Cricket Wireless phone. You can also chat on the Cricket site.

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How to unlock a Cricket Wireless phone

All you have to do is call 1-800-CRICKET (274-2538) and request an unlock code. You do, however, have to meet the following requirements:

  • The device you want to unlock has to have been active for at least 6 months or you're on an unlimited plan.
  • The device hasn't been reported as lost or stolen.
  • The phone is actually locked to Cricket's network.
  • The device isn't associated with a fraudulent account.

Basically, if you've been a customer in good standing for at least 6 months, you just have to ask.

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Finding another MVNO

If you like AT&T's coverage and are considering Cricket Wireless but want other options, then you may want to consider another MVNO that uses AT&T's network or another that uses multiple networks.

There are more than 15 MVNOs that use AT&T's network, so you have many to choose from, and some may work better in your area than others.

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Alternative carriers (MVNOS)

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4 days ago

Where to buy the Galaxy Note 8

108
Where to buy the Samsung Galaxy Note 8

Where can I buy the Galaxy Note 8?

You won't be short of choices when it comes to buying the Galaxy Note 8, no matter what country you're in or the carrier you're on.

The Galaxy Note 8 is expensive, for sure, and that means people are going to be cross-shopping a bit to see what carrier or retailer can give them the best deal. Here are all of the most popular places to buy the Galaxy Note 8 around the world, and how much they're charging.

U.S.

Best Buy

Best Buy is offering the AT&T, Verizon, Sprint and proper U.S. unlocked versions of the Note 8 in Midnight Black and Orchid Grey. The pricing is in line with what the carriers themselves are charging, and the unlocked version will be available for $950. Best Buy will also be the exclusive retailer for the deep sea blue variant when that is launched.

Best Buy has some rotating discounts for each of the different carrier models, which seem to be regularly changing. Verizon is offering big discounts when you trade in your existing phone, up to 50% off the Note 8. AT&T is offering a free Galaxy S8 if you're a DirecTV customer. Sprint is offering a 50% off promo when you lease the phone, and Best Buy is throwing in a $100 gift card on top of that.

See at Best Buy

T-Mobile

Pricing for the T-Mobile Note 8 breaks down like this: $100 down, and an additional $30 per month for 24 months. Quick math will tell you that's a full retail price of $820 if you want to buy it outright. If you're part of T-Mobile's Jump! On Demand program, you'll be able to grab it for $0 down, but also spend $39 per month instead. You can choose between black and orchid grey, just like the other carriers.

T-Mobile is of course participating in Samsung's promotional giveaway for those who order early, offering a free Gear 360 camera (regularly $229) or an SD card and wireless charger ($190) when you pick up your Note 8. You can also get a buy-one-get-one deal for another Note 8 if you start a new line of service and finance both phones.

See at T-Mobile


Verizon

The big red carrier has the Midnight Black and Orchid Grey available. The phone will be available for $960 total, or $40 per month spread over two years. For a limited time, users will be able to get a bundled 128GB SD card and Fast Wireless Charger (a $190 value) or a bundled Samsung Gear 360 camera (valued at $230). Users will also be able to save $100 on the Gear S3 with purchase. Users can also save $50 on a wireless charger, portable charger and car charger bundle.

Verizon will also have the new Gear VR headset with controller online and in stores beginning September 15 for $130.

See at Verizon


AT&T

AT&T has the Note 8 for $950 total, or as spread out as $31.67 per month for 30 months. AT&T is also offering a buy-one, get-one free deal on the Note 8 when it is purchased on AT&T Next with a DirecTV subscription. Customers with DirecTV will also qualify for $500 off a Samsung TV when they purchase the Note 8. AT&T will also offer the Gear S2 for 99 cents or Gear S3 for $50 on a 2-year agreement when customers buy a Note 8 on AT&T Next. Finally, AT&T is letting customers trade in existing devices for up to $200 in credits.

AT&T also notes the Note 8 will be one of the first devices compatible with its "5G evolution" network.

See at AT&T


Sprint

Customers switching to Sprint will be able to get the Note 8 for 50% off when leasing the phone, only paying $20 per month for 18 months as part of Sprint's "Sprint Flex" program. That totals only $360, which is a pretty great deal on the device. Existing Sprint customers will be able to get the device for $40 per month for 18 months, totaling $720. Users can also participate in Sprint's "Galaxy Forever" program, which will let them upgrade to a new Samsung flagship after 12 months.

If you want to skip the lease and go to a proper purchase, you can finish out payments of $40 per month for 24 months, totaling $960.

See at Sprint


Samsung

Going to Samsung directly is the best way to pick up the proper U.S. unlocked Galaxy Note 8. The unlocked model is initially only offered in black, but that may not be an issue for you particularly when you consider that it will lack any carrier bloatware. The U.S. unlocked model is designed to work on all major U.S. carriers, so you won't have to worry about compatibility issues. Pricing is set at $950.

You can, of course, also buy carrier versions from Samsung as well, if you so desire.

See at Samsung

Amazon

Amazon, too, has the proper U.S. unlocked Galaxy Note 8, coming in at $931. While we'd still recommend buying from Samsung if the price is close or the same, Amazon often offers people a better shopping option since they can use their Amazon credit card, gift cards and the like.

See at Amazon

UK

Carphone Warehouse

Carphone Warehouse has the Note 8 in Midnight Black or Maple Gold for £869 SIM-free for the 64GB model. It also has a variety of plans with different down payments, like £30 up-front and an additional £64 per month for a 5GB plan.

See at Carphone Warehouse

Samsung

Samsung has the Note 8 in both colors for the same RRP — £869 — as Carphone Warehouse. The manufacturer's online storefront is also the only place to get hold of a dual-SIM version of the phone, in either color, for the same price as the single-SIM model.

See at Samsung

O2

O2 has the Note 8 up for order on a wide range of plans, with prices starting at £29.99 upfront and £63 per month, for 24 months. Data allowances come in at between 3GB and 50GB, and you can adjust your upfront fee to cut down on your monthly expenditure.

See at O2

EE

EE's Note 8 plans start at £57.99 per month and £89.99 upfront, which gets you a 5GB allowance and up to 60Mbps speed. Step up to £62.99 monthly and £49.99 upfront for a 12GB allowance at EE's fastest speeds. Or max out at £72.99 per month and £29.99 upfront with a 40GB plan, which comes with BT Sport access.

See at EE

Three

Three has the Galaxy Note 8 available from £44.00 a month, with £99 payable upfront — thought hat only gets you a paltry 500MB data allowance. A more reasonable 12GB data bucket costs £79.00 upfront and £56 per month, though plans are available with up to 100GB, or unlimited "All You Can Eat" data.

See at Three

Vodafone UK

Vodafone has the Note 8 with 64GB storage in black or gold, with a whole host of plans that vary the monthly payments. You can have an up-front cost of as little as £50 with a £60 monthly plan, or as high as £300 down with £43 per month thereafter.

See at Vodafone UK

Canada

Telus

Telus has the Midnight Black and Deep Sea Blue 64GB Note 8's for (finish consuming any liquids) $1299 outright, or $550 or $750 down and the rest of the cost spread over a 2-year contract. Canadian customers are still eligible for the 128GB microSD card and Fast Wireless Charger bundle for those that order in the first month.

See at Telus

Rogers

Rogers has both the Midnight Black and Deep Sea Blue Note 8 for $549 on a 2-year Share Everything Premium+ plan, or $749 on a 2-year Share Everything Premium plan. The phone is also available for $1325 outright, which is higher than some of the other carriers in the country.

All orders come with a free 128GB microSD card and Samsung's excellent convertible fast wireless charger.

See at Rogers

Bell

Bell has the same configurations as its competitors — 64GB, Midnight Black and Deep Sea Blue — at identical pricing to Rogers, except for one thing: the outright price is $1349.99, not $1325.

The two-year pricing is $549.99 on a price plan $70 or more, or $749.99 on a price plan of $60 or more.

All orders come with a free 128GB microSD card and Samsung's excellent convertible fast wireless charger.

See at Bell

Update, November 2017: This article was updated with the latest pricing and availability.

Samsung Galaxy Note 8

Verizon AT&T T-Mobile Sprint Best Buy

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5 days ago

Google Now vs. Quickdrawer: An Action Launcher dilemma

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To Quickdrawer or not to Quickdrawer...

To Google Now or not to Google Now? That is the question.

For the longest time, Google Now panes were reserved for the Google Now Launcher, but when its retirement was announced in early 2017, Google released a way for manufacturers to integrate it into their own launchers. It didn't take long after that for some enterprising third-party launcher developers to bring it to their own launchers, and Action Launcher debuted their Action Launcher Google plugin to add a Google Now page to the left-most side of the launcher.

There was just one problem: that Google Now pane takes the place of the Quickdrawer.

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6 days ago

How to fix common Google Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL problems

27
Google Pixel 2 and 2 XL

Having trouble with your Pixel 2 or Pixel 2 XL? Here's where you start.

No phone is perfect. And even though the Pixel 2 and 2 XL seem to be pretty solid devices, there are some issues that have cropped up over time as thousands and thousands of them made their way out into the wild. Some of the problems are inherent in all smartphones, others appear in rare cases and a couple are simply unavoidable in the Pixel 2 and 2 XL in particular.

If you're having trouble with any aspect of your Pixel 2 or Pixel 2 XL, this is a great place to start. We've gathered up some of the most common issues owners are having, and accompany them with some possible remedies.

Screen color is 'wrong'

Google Pixel 2 and 2 XL

How you feel about the color and saturation of your phone display is a very personal decision, and everyone has different thoughts on what looks "right." But the Pixel 2 XL in particular has taken heat for not having the most colorful or saturated display out there, to the point of looking dull to some. If you're not a fan of how your Pixel 2 or 2 XL's screen looks, you have some options — at least, once your phone has the November software update (or later).

Once you have the update, go into your Settings, then Display and tap on Colors and choose between the three options. "Natural" will be the most neutral and simple, "Boosted" will be natural still but with a little extra punch, and "Saturated" will go more over the top with colors. Most people will be happiest with Boosted, but those coming from other OLED phones that are often tuned to offer deeper colors will want to switch to Saturated to keep things familiar.

Noticing screen burn-in

Perhaps the biggest hullabaloo surrounding the Pixel 2 XL has been early reports of image retention and full-on burn-in on the screen. The former isn't much more than an annoyance — sometimes things that have been shown on the screen for a long time stay there faintly for a bit after switching away. The latter is more of an issue — burn-in seems the same as image retention at first, but the effects are permanent and typically seen for core interface elements like the navigation and status bars.

Don't go hunting for screen burn-in, but if you see it early you should get a replacement.

The most important thing to say here is that you probably shouldn't go hunting for signs of screen burn-in on your phone. If you don't notice it in the regular use of the phone, you shouldn't have any issue with it — and at the same time, every phone today with an OLED-based screen will have some level of burn-in over time. It's just a characteristic of the display technology at this point.

But if you're noticing screen burn-in on your Pixel 2 or 2 XL early on, such as within the first two weeks, you shouldn't hesitate to contact Google support and get a replacement device. While burn-in is relatively common, it doesn't typically set in on phones so rapidly — and seeing a considerable amount right from the start isn't a great sign for how that display will look a year on. Google will offer you at least a two week return period, and you should take advantage of it. For serious cases, Google has also extended its manufacturer defect warrant to a full two years.

Bad battery life

Google Pixel 2 battery life

"I'm seeing bad battery life" is the holy grail of problems that are nearly impossible to diagnose. But here are some good basic principles to follow when trying to improve battery life:

  • Check for power-hungry apps: One badly coded app can be a nuisance; a handful of badly coded apps can destroy your battery. At the end of the day, go into your battery settings, scroll down and see what percentage of your day's battery life was consumed by which apps. If a single app is using more than 5%, think about if it really needs to be using that much — investigate to see if you can get it to calm down.
  • Uninstall unused apps: A bad app can't drain your battery if it isn't installed. If you started up your new Pixel 2 and just installed all 100 apps from your last phone, chances are there are dozens on there you don't actually need. Uninstall the useless ones — you can always install them later if you decide you need them.
  • Turn off always-on display: It doesn't have a huge effect, but any time the screen is even partially illuminated it's using battery. Go into the Display settings and turn off "Always-on" — a nice compromise is keeping "Lift to check phone" turned on to have it illuminate when you grab your phone.
  • Reduce display sleep time: In the same vein, you can set your display to go to sleep quickly when it isn't being interacted with. By default the phone is at 1 minute, but you can set it as low as 15 seconds if you'd prefer to save the battery instead of the convenience of having the screen stay awake.
  • Use a static wallpaper: Out of the box the phones use a great "living wallpaper" that subtly animates. It looks cool, but also uses up battery. Switch to a static wallpaper, and you'll save some precious juice.

One thing to consider at some point, particularly on the Pixel 2 with its 2700mAh battery capacity, is that you just won't be able to get more battery life out of your phone no matter what you do. Even if you follow all of the above steps, you have to use your phone at some point — and if you use it hard, it's going to drain the battery quickly.

Slow performance

Chances are your Pixel 2 or 2 XL is still zippy, but perhaps 6 or 12 months into owning it you'll notice it slow down a bit. This is normal, but it's also preventable! It's no coincidence that some of the fixes for bad battery life noted above are also applicable to issues with bad performance. The best thing you can do is figure out if there is an app (or multiple apps) running rogue in the background and sapping your processor power or memory.

The best thing you can do is check on misbehaving apps and clear up your storage.

First, go to your battery settings and see if an app is draining an an usual amount of your battery over the course of the day — if it is, there's a good chance it's also using up other system resources. While you're thinking about apps, also consider uninstalling old apps you haven't used in a while — there's no need to keep them around, potentially running in the background, if you have no intention of using them.

Next, go into Settings and then Storage to see if you have enough free space on your phone. Chances are if you're at a critically low storage level you'll have a notification bothering you about it, but if you're pushing up past 90% full storage you may run into other performance issues. The Storage settings give you a readout of what's using up storage, and an option to automatically free up space.

LTE, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and GPS problems

Google Pixel 2 network connections

Dealing with wireless radios is so often referred to as a sort of dark art — something that's difficult to understand but so often extremely frustrating to deal with. But on phones, we rely on mobile networks, Wi-FI, Bluetooth and GPS on a daily basis. If you're having troubles with any of the set, here are a few tips to consider trying:

  • Turn the radio off and back on again. Yes, really — just toggle on airplane (flight) mode, and turn it back off about 15 seconds later. Give your various radios a few minutes to reconnect to everything, and see if that fixes your issues.
  • At the same time, power cycle the device on the other end. There's a good chance the cheap pair of Bluetooth headphones, or the wireless router at home, is what's having an issue. Turn it off and start over.
  • Forget the network or device you're having trouble with. Whether it's a Bluetooth speaker or a Wi-Fi network, go into the network/device list and forget it — start back from scratch and see if it fixes it.
  • Reset network settings by going into Settings, Reset options and "Reset WI-Fi, mobile & Bluetooth." Confirm you want to reset, and it will return all of these areas back to their defaults. Now you can start fresh and reconnect to each device one at a time to determine where the issue may be.

There are so many potential issues here that it's tough to get into the details. But start here — and hopefully you get on the right path to troubleshooting where the issues are and how to fix them.

Clicking noise in Pixel 2 earpiece

One of the more peculiar issues on the Pixel 2 in particular is a reported "clicking" or "hissing" noise heard in the earpiece when making a call. It wasn't present on all calls or all phones, but it's happening on enough phones that Google has addressed the problem. According to Google it has rolled out a fix for the clicking sound with its November software update.

Previously, Google had indicating that turning off NFC would fix the problem temporarily, and though some have reported that this doesn't work, it may be worth a shot if you're still waiting for that November update. If the problem persists beyond that update, that points to a potential hardware problem and you may want to contact Google support and look for a replacement device if you're still within your return window.

How to factory reset the Pixel 2 or 2 XL

Google Pixel 2 factory reset settings

For the software-related issues noted here, if the step by step processes to try and fix them don't work sometimes the only way to go is a full-on factory reset of the phone.

Before going any further, make sure you've backed up any data you want to save. Make sure Google Photos is synced, and you have any other important data offloaded to a service like Google Drive or Dropbox. Then, proceed.

  1. Go into Settings and scroll down to select System.
  2. Tap on Reset options and then Erase all data (factory reset).
  3. Scroll down to acknowledge and tap Reset at the bottom.
  4. Confirm your PIN or passcode, and proceed.

After a brief period and a reboot of the phone, it will come back exactly as it did the first day you took it out of the box. Use this opportunity to start anew — don't necessarily just reinstall all of the same things you had before, because that may be how you had troubles in the first place!

Google Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL

Google Store Project Fi Verizon Best Buy

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6 days ago

Best Unlimited Data Plan

90

Unlimited plans are back, but which one is the best?

All four major U.S. carriers offer an unlimited data plan again. After years of hearing how they were unable to provide unlimited data to every customer and maintain the quality of service they wanted, new technology and a more competitive market means a 180-degree turnaround was in order and here we are.

We've previously written about how most people just don't need unlimited data, and you should have a look if you have any questions about how much you should spend or how much data you need. But if you're sure you need all the data you can get each and every month, let's look at which company you should give your business to. We'll start with a quick look at what each company has to offer and what it will cost you.

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AT&T

Feature Cost Price for single line $90 for Unlimited Plus
$60 for Unlimited Choice (data speeds are capped at 3M/s) Price for two lines $145 for Unlimited Plus
$115 for Unlimited Choice Additional lines $20 each (wearables are $10)

Features

There are a few differences between the plans, so let's break each down.

Unlimited Plus

  • Unlimited talk, text, and data
  • 10 GB mobile hotspot (tethering)
  • Unlimited talk and text to Canada and Mexico
  • Advanced messaging between compatible phones on the AT&T network
  • Unlimited talk, text, and data in Canada and Mexico with free Roam North America Feature (if more than 50% of use is outside the U.S. the plan can be terminated)
  • Unlimited music and video streaming with optional Stream Saver for less data use
  • $25 monthly credit for DirecTV services
  • Free HBO subscription

Unlimited Choice

  • Unlimited talk, text, and data
  • Data speeds capped at 3Mbps
  • Standard definition video streaming
  • Unlimited talk and text to Canada and Mexico
  • Advanced messaging between compatible phones on the AT&T network
  • Unlimited talk, text, and data in Canada and Mexico with free Roam North America Feature (if more than 50% of use is outside the U.S. the plan can be terminated)
  • $25 monthly credit for DirecTV services
  • Free HBO subscription

Like most carriers, the monthly fees don't include tax or regulatory fees and you may have other costs if you get your phone from AT&T.

Sprint

Feature Cost Price for single line $60 Price for two lines $100 Additional lines Free (with the current promotion) for phones
Tablets are $25 per month

Sprint Unlimited Freedom plan details

  • Unlimited talk, text, and data (with certain restrictions)
  • Unlimited data for streaming video up to 1080p
  • Unlimited data for gaming up to 8Mbps
  • Unlimited data for streaming music up to 1.5Mbps
  • 10GB high-speed mobile hotspot with VPN and P2P support
  • Add a tablet with unlimited data for $25 per month

Note: These features apply only to new accounts.

Again, you'll need to pay taxes and fees on top of these prices and equipment fees aren't included.

T-Mobile

Feature Cost Price for single line $70 Price for two lines $120 Additional lines $140 for three lines
$20 each for more

These prices include taxes and all fees

T-Mobile has a lot of feature fine print that goes with their T-Mobile ONE plan, and it might make a difference:

  • 200MB of roaming data per month
  • Unlimited talk, text, and data in Canada and Mexico
  • One hour of free Gogo in-flight Wi-Fi and unlimited texting on enabled flights
  • Unlimited data and texting in over 140 locations at 2x speed (264kbps) (limited time offer)
  • Netflix streaming included

T-Mobile also offers two Plus add-ons that are worth a mention here:

The $10 monthly T-Mobile ONE Plus add-on includes everything from the standard ONE plan plus the following:

  • Unlimited HD video streaming
  • 10GB of high-speed data tethering per month
  • Unlimited in-flight data on all Gogo-enabled flights
  • T-Mobile Visual Voicemail
  • T-Mobile Name ID

The $25 T-Mobile ONE Plus International add-on includes everything from the ONE Plus plan and adds the following:


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Verizon

Verizon offers two tiers of unlimited plans. Here's the breakdown.

Go Unlimited

Go Unlimited is the cheaper of the unlimited plans, aimed at users that don't necessarily need the fastest performance at all times or high-quality video streaming.

  • One line: $75/month
  • Two lines: $65 per line/month
  • Three lines: $50 per line/month
  • Four or more lines lines: $40 per line/month

Paper-free billing and $5/mo AutoPay discounts apply.

The Go Unlimited plan offers unlimited LTE data, but you're subject to reduced speeds (throttling) when the network is congested. Verizon may choose to throttle at any time of the billing cycle, which is unlike most other unlimited plans that only do so after a certain amount of data is used.

On Go Unlimited, all video streaming is capped at 480p on phones and 720p on tablets. And while the Go Unlimited plans offer unlimited mobile hotspot (tethering), the speed is capped at 600kbps, which is likely too slow for most people do anything other than browsing the web — slowly.

As of November 3, 2017, customers can pay $10 per line to remove streaming restrictions and have video delivered at its original resolution.

Beyond Unlimited

Beyond Unlimited is basically Verizon's original unlimited plan with some slight tweaks.

  • One line: $85/month
  • Two lines: $80 per line/month
  • Three lines: $60 per line/month
  • Four or more lines: $50 per line/month

Paper-free billing and $5/mo AutoPay discounts apply.

The Beyond Unlimited plan offers unlimited LTE data, but you're subject to reduced speeds (throttling) at times of network congestion if you exceed 22GB in a billing cycle (customers that sign up on a two-year contract get 25GB per month before throttling).

Video streaming is capped at 720p on phones and 1080p on tablets. Mobile hotspot use is unlimited, with 15GB of LTE data in each billing cycle. Laptops or other devices used through the hotspot have a 1080p hard cap for streaming video.

As of November 3, 2017, customers can pay $10 per line to remove streaming restrictions and have video delivered at its original resolution.

The best unlimited wireless plan

There are a few things in common with all four carriers: The listed prices in all advertisements are for customers who use autopay for their monthly bill. Each carrier can slow down your data to 3G speeds once you hit an invisible cap on data, which is right around 20GB per line. And no carrier guarantees great coverage, no matter what their coverage maps might say.

T-Mobile offers the best unlimited plan in the U.S.

Overall, T-Mobile has the best unlimited plan you can buy. We considered price, coverage, and features equally and while we can't say T-Mobile will work for everyone, it's where you should look first. Here's how we reached the decision.

  • Which companies offer the coverage you need? Having a cheap cell phone bill isn't so great if your phone doesn't work where you need it to work. There are large areas of the U.S. where T-Mobile has no coverage at all but for the most part, these are rural areas. While we think rural areas are awesome, we can't ignore that T-Mobile does offer coverage where most people live. As always, if total overall coverage is your main criteria when buying an unlimited plan, you should have a look at Verizon.

  • How much are your monthly taxes and fees going to be? In some places, these extra fees will add up. When you add upwards of $30 (or more) to each month's bill, T-Mobile bundling them into the plan price might make a difference. Once you add in all the fees that find their way into your monthly bill, there probably won't be much difference between Sprint and T-Mobile unless you have three or more lines. Sprint is cheaper, but T-Mobile picking up the tab for those fees makes a big difference.

  • Do you need any of the other services that come with a particular plan? If you have to pay extra for things like texting or calling people in other countries be sure to add those costs into the price unless it's included in the plan. T-Mobile offers roaming data, calls, texts and data in all of North America as well as texting and data in 140 other places around the world. They even offer free in-flight Wi-Fi with Gogo. This is a great set of useful extras.

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The best news is that everything here is subject to change at any time! Because the market has become so competitive for unlimited data, companies will constantly be adjusting prices and features. When one company makes a move the rest will soon follow with their own new pricing or other offers.

See at T-Mobile

Updated November 2017: This article was updated with the latest plan details, but T-Mobile still gets the number one pick.

Carriers

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1 week ago

Where to buy the LG V30

146

When and where can I get the LG V30?

The LG V30 is one of the most interesting devices of the year so far. It's got a big, near-bezelless design that eschews many of the design characteristics of its predecessors, the V10 and V20, but maintains their focus on high-quality audio and unique camera features.

The V30 is getting a wide release in North America, with a number of carriers supporting the product.

Let's break it down individually by country and carrier.

U.S. carriers

T-Mobile

T-Mobile is now selling the V30 starting at $80 down and $30 per month for 24 months, or an outright cost of $800. Like Sprint, you also get a free Daydream View and content pack with purchase.

The V30 is T-Mobile's first phone to support its nascent 600Mhz spectrum, which will give the phone better performance in low-density rural areas.

T-Mobile is offering a pretty great deal for the V30, too: buy a phone on a new or existing line and get a $500 rebate when purchasing a second V30 with a second new line. When buying with an Equipment Installment Plan (EIP), users get an LG G Pad X or G Pad X2 PLUS for free with purchase.

T-Mobile has also announced that it is going to carry the LG V30+, the version with 128GB of storage, starting November 17. It will cost $130 down and $30 a month over 24 months, with a retail price of $850.

See at T-Mobile

AT&T

The V30 is now available at AT&T online and in-store. It costs $27 per month for 30 months on AT&T Next, or $810 in total. AT&T has a deal for a "free" second V30, but there are a lot of conditions:

"For a limited time, buy an LG V30 and get one FREE when you add a line and buy both on AT&T Next with monthly eligible wireless and have eligible DIRECTV service."

It works on the company's so-called 5G Evolution network, which is equivalent to the fastest 4G LTE speeds today. That's because the V30 takes advantage of new technologies like 4x carrier aggregation, 256QAM modulation, and 4x4 MIMO antenna placements, as well as unlicensed spectrum standards like LTE-U and LAA.

See at AT&T

Verizon

The LG V30 is now available at Verizon for $35 per month for 24 months, or $840 outright. Verizon is giving away a $200 prepaid credit card and a free Google Daydream View with every purchase, which is nice.

See at Verizon

Sprint

Sprint is one of two U.S. carriers selling the LG V30+, which is the 128GB version of the regular LG V30. It's now available for $0 down and $38 per month for 24 months, which works out to $912 outright. Like AT&T, users signing up for a second account and service will get a second LG V30+ for free.

Sprint is going deep on the V30+, too. It's offering a free Daydream View headset and "Top VR content bundle" with every unit, and is the only carrier bundling LG's QuadPlay earbuds in the box.

See at Sprint

US Cellular

U.S. Cellular is the second carrier selling the LG V30+, but unlike Sprint, it also sells the standard V30. The regular V30 costs you $19.50/month on a 30-month installment plan, or you can choose to pay a prepaid price of $799.99. As expected, the V30+ is slightly more expensive at $21.16/month or $849.99 on prepaid.

No matter if you purchase the V30 or V30+, U.S. Cellular will also throw in a free Daydream View headset and Top VR Content Bundle similar to what Sprint is offering.

See at US Cellular

U.S unlocked

The LG V30 isn't available unlocked yet, but at least we know when it will be, and for how much. B&H Photo has a listing of the device for $829.99 with availability on December 5. The phone is only available in Cloud Silver.

LG also says on its website that the phone will be available at Amazon and other retailers in the coming months.

See at B&H


Canada

On October 12, LG Canada announced that the LG V30 would be available in Canada starting October 20.

It's sold at Rogers, Bell, TELUS, Fido, Koodo, and Freedom Mobile.

The phone starts at around $300 on a 2-year contract with optional financing and subsidy, $500 with just subsidy, and $1100 outright.

Updated November 11, 2017: This article has been updated to reflect the addition of the LG V30+ to T-Mobile's lineup.

LG V30

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1 week ago

OnePlus 5T: Details, Specs, Release Date, and Price!

1

What does the OnePlus 5T have in store for us? Quite a bit.

The OnePlus 5 may not have stirred as much interest as previous OnePlus devices, but it has proven to be a solid handset with plenty to like — especially at its $479 starting price. But as OnePlus did with the OnePlus 3T, released just five months after the OnePlus 3, the company has a successor to its flagship, the OnePlus 5T.

This year, though, things are a little different: OnePlus has kept the internal specs identical to the preceding phone, but changed the design a bit to accommodate a larger, taller display. It made a tweak to the rear camera, and introduced a new Face Unlock feature.

Care to learn more? Here's everything you need to know about the OnePlus 5T.

Meet the OnePlus 5T

The OnePlus 5T is here, and even though we haven't spent a ton of time with the phone yet we want to share all of our first impressions. Be sure to watch our hands-on preview video above, then follow that up with our complete written thoughts on the phone for all of the details!

OnePlus 5T hands-on preview

OnePlus 5T specs

If you're familiar with the OnePlus 5's specs from earlier in the year, you know exactly what you're getting in the OnePlus 5T. The only spec changes come down to the larger screen with a corresponding higher resolution, and a new secondary camera sensor and lens arrangement.

Category Spec Operating system Android 7.1 Nougat Display 6-inch Optic AMOLED, 2160x1080 (18:9 aspect ratio) Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 octa-core
Adreno 540 GPU Storage 64/128GB UFS 2.1 RAM 6/8GB LPDDR4X Rear camera 1 16MP (IMX 398), 1.12-micron pixels, f/1.7
Dual LED flash, 4K 30 fps, 1080p 60 fps, 720p 120 fps video Rear camera 2 20MP (IMX 376k), 1-micron pixels, f/1.7 Front camera 16MP (IMX 371), 1-micron pixels, f/2.0
1080p 30 fps video Battery 3300mAh
Non-removable Charging USB-C
Dash Charge Water resistance No Security One-touch fingerprint sensor Connectivity 802.11ac Wi-Fi, 2x2 MIMO, Bluetooth 5.0, aptX HD
USB-C (2.0), NFC
GPS, GLONASS, BeiDou, Galileo Network 3xCA, 256QAM, DL Cat 12, UL Cat 13
FDD-LTE Band 1/2/3/4/5/7/8/12/17/18/ 19/20/25/26/28/29/30/66
TDD-LTE Band 34/38/39/40/41
TD-SCDMA Band 34/39
HSPA Band 1/2/4/5/8 Dimensions 156.1 x 75 x 7.3 mm
162 g Colors Midnight Black

A new secondary camera

The primary camera on the OnePlus 5T is the same as the OnePlus 5's, but the secondary camera has changed quite dramatically. It's still 20MP, with 1-micron pixels, but it's a different sensor entirely. It's also behind a new lens with the same focal length and f/1.7 aperture as the main camera. The goal of the second camera is to help the OnePlus 5T in low light, as it's tuned to only be abled in very dark conditions.

It seems counterintuitive to have a 20MP sensor with small pixels and no OIS be used for low light photos. But OnePlus claims that because it's tuned for those situations and has a lot of resolution to work with, it can take photos that combine adjacent pixels to theoretically smooth out noise typically found in these low-light shots. We'll have to see how it plays out in real-world situations.

It has a headphone jack

The number of flagship phones with headphone jacks is dwindling every year, so OnePlus wants to reassure its user base that it isn't part of the trend.

OnePlus CEO, Pete Lau, actually took to the company's very popular forums to talk about how the headphone jack, and high audio quality in general, is a high priority with the OnePlus 5T.

Wireless audio technology has a lot of potential. And if you prefer wireless headphones, our flagships have excellent Bluetooth capability for this choice. But our goal from the beginning has been to bring better technology to the world. That's why we prioritize the user and make good technology accessible.

Sometimes, industry trends go against our core beliefs. This is one of those times when we respectfully disagree on what it means to be courageous. That's why we're proud to announce that we're keeping the headphone jack for the OnePlus 5T – and confident that our product decisions for our upcoming device will offer the best flagship experience possible.

There you go. The OnePlus 5T has a 3.5 mm headphone jack.

Oreo is coming ... soon

Despite initial rumors pointing to the OnePlus 5T launching on Oreo, the phone is actually shipping with a build of Android 7.1.2 Nougat that's near-identical to the OnePlus 5 — which makes sense, since they're almost the same phone. OnePlus is committing to bringing a beta version of Oreo to both the 5T and 5 by the end of 2017, but the stable build won't make it out to phones until "early 2018." Interestingly, the OnePlus 3 and 3T will get stable Oreo builds first on account of their early participation in the beta program.

Oreo is coming to the OnePlus 3, 3T, 5 and 5T by the end of 2017

Price, launch date, and availability

The last thing we need to talk about is pricing and availability.

OnePlus isn't waiting long to take orders, and isn't doing anything to restrict availability. The OnePlus 5T goes on sale on November 21 in several countries, and the hope will be that the stock can hold up to the demand.

The hardware changes have led to yet another price increase, with the OnePlus 5T coming in at $499. An extra $60 gets you the top-end model with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage, if you're that sort of spec junkie.

Your thoughts?

Is the OnePlus 5T enough of an upgrade for you? Or is OnePlus ridiculous for once again replacing its flagship less than six months after it debuted? Let us know in the comments below!

OnePlus 5T and OnePlus 5

OnePlus Amazon

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1 week ago

Nova Launcher: Everything you need to know!

52

Once you go looking for Android launchers, it's hard to miss the legacy of Nova Launcher.

Nova Launcher has been around for over half a decade, and while scores of launchers have risen and fallen in that time, Nova Launcher is still at the front of the pack and getting more awesome every month. Nova Launcher is one of the best launchers on the market, it is the best launcher for theming.

There are a lot of reasons to love it, but here are some of our favorites.

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1 week ago

Best Small Data Plan

15

A good small data plan does exist, even if nobody advertises them.

Unlimited plans get all the press and all the glitter, but most people don't need one. That's why small data plans still exist and are popular options.

Shopping for a phone plan is unnecessarily difficult, especially now that all four big U.S. carriers want to force you to the more expensive unlimited data offering. But there are alternatives if you dive deep into a carrier's website, and some of them are a decent value.

We did the digging, and here's what we found.

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AT&T

AT&T's best single-line value for folks who don't want or need unlimited data is their $45 AT&T Prepaid offering. There are some cheaper plans like the Prepaid $35 plan or using a single line on the Mobile Share Advantage Family Plan for $30, but you'll get far less data to use each month for very little difference in price. A look at the Prepaid $45 plan

Price Features $45 per month 6GB LTE data
Unlimited talk and text in the US
Unlimited talk and text to Canada and Mexico
Roaming in Mexico & Canada (Talk, Text & Data)
Unlimited text to over 100 countries

Once 6GB of high-speed data is used, you'll be slowed down to 128kbps data speeds for the remainder of the month. AT&T also offers a discount for multiple lines on one account. You save $5 for each line up to a maximum of five (a $20 total).

For comparison's sake, this same plan with unlimited data is available for $65.

AT&T also offers a $35 monthly plan with all the perks above and a 1GB monthly data allotment. Signing up for Autopay will save $5 each month on all Prepaid plans.

The comparable 6GB Mobile Share Advantage postpaid plan (you'll need to use a postpaid plan you finance a phone through AT&T) comes in at $60 per month, but includes rollover data.

See plans at AT&T

Sprint

In addition to its prepaid plans, Sprint offers a postpaid option for folks who only use a small amount of data each month.

Price Features $45 per month 2GB LTE data (including tethering)
Unlimited talk and text
Unlimited international text

Customers who sign up for autopay can save $5 per month. Sprint advertises its 2GB plan as "the lowest price entry plan among national carriers." This is true if you use autopay, but in many cases, a few dollars more gets you a plan with double the data.

For reference, Sprint's single-line unlimited data plan is $60 per month.

One thing we will have to say here is that Sprint makes it easy to shop for what you need. This postpaid option isn't buried or hidden behind several pages that feature the unlimited plan.

See plans at Sprint

T-Mobile

T-Mobile's only postpaid plan for new customers is its unlimited offering. It does have several prepaid options available.

Price Features $45 per month 4GB of LTE data (including tethering)
Unlimited talk and text
Music Unlimited (stream music without using your data)
Wi-Fi calling

T-Mobile also offers the same plan with 6GB of LTE data for $55 per month. International talk and text packages are extra and start at $5 per month. The fine print for T-Mobile's Simply Prepaid plan has a few things that need mentioning. You are given 50MB of out-of-network roaming each month, and calling plan options only support a two-party conversation; Conference calls may cost extra.

For reference, T-Mobile's unlimited prepaid plan is $75 per month.

T-Mobile is the king of "limited time offers" and have a current prepaid promotion that's pretty darn great.

Price Features $50 per month 10GB of LTE data (including tethering)
Unlimited talk and text
Music Unlimited (stream music without using your data)
Wi-Fi calling

The fine print on this one reads: Plus taxes & fees. Limited-time offer, subject to change. Compatible device and qualifying plan req'd.

See plans at T-Mobile

Verizon

Price Features $35 ($551) 2GB of LTE data (including tethering)
Unlimited Talk and Text
Rollover data (30 days maximum)
Additional data for $15 per gigabyte

1All Verizon plans have a $20 line-access fee.

Verizon offers this plan with more monthly data in two other options: 4GB of LTE data for $50 per month and 8GB of LTE data for $70 per month. Also note that a $20 line access fee is required for each phone using any of Verizon's "Small Data Plans."

All postpaid plans allow you to continue to use data at lower speeds once your monthly allotment is reached. These postpaid plans do not include any equipment fees if you need to buy a phone from Verizon.

*See plans at Verizon

The best small data plan

This is hard, because there is no one small data plan that stands out.

AT&T's $45 plan offers a great value with 6GB of data and AT&T has good nationwide coverage. T-Mobile's promotional plan with 10GB for $50 is a better deal, but limited time could mean anything and T-Mobile isn't going to be a great option for people in rural and exburb areas. Sprint can get you online for cheap once you enroll in Autopay, but a 2GB plan on a struggling network isn't very exciting. Verizon's data plans are priced right, their network is great almost everywhere in the country, but the $20 line access fee brings the price up to $55 each month.


Where you live will determine which small data plan is best

Coverage, coverage, coverage. We can't say it enough — a data plan is no good unless it works in the places you need it to work.

Pricing is important. We're not trying to deny that. But saving $5 or even $10 per month for service you can't use is not a good value. The same goes for plans with more data. Having more GB per month that you'll never use because the service is bad is not a good plan for you, no matter the pricing or perks. That's why our pick for the best small data plan is split into three different sections.

Overall, AT&T offers the best small data plan as of November 2017

A few factors influence our decision here, and it's important to understand them in case our pick isn't the best for you.

  • Coverage. AT&T has a very good nationwide data network, and they are using remote and small cell solutions to combat the congestion that happens everywhere there are more people than a network can handle.
  • Phone choice. A lot of phones are optimized for AT&T's network, but almost every phone from any company you buy in 2017 will work on AT&T. That means a $50 Android phone from Amazon or a $1200 256GB iPhone X.
  • International perks. International use isn't the most important part of our decision making process, but knowing you can call or text a friend or relative in Canada or Mexico is pretty awesome. So is being able to use your phone while on vacation in Aucopolco or Prince Edward Island.
  • More data than you need at the same price as others. You're shopping for a small data plan, but the same $45 you'll spend at another carrier gives you 6GB of LTE data to use. Never look a gift horse in the mouth.

Check the coverage maps. Check with your friends. Check the forums and ask other folks in your area. If AT&T has the coverage you need, this is the plan to pick.

See at AT&T

The alternatives

We said AT&T covers almost everyone in the U.S. There are places where you won't be able to use AT&T, though. If this means you, then you likely only have one choice.

Verizon's coverage makes their small data plan a must-have for many. Most people in the United States are concentrated in urban and suburban areas. But some of us aren't, and even more of us work in places far away from the concrete and asphalt of a city. Verizon will give you the best coverage and you'll have 2GB of data for $55 each month.

See at Verizon

There are also a whole lot of us in a whole lot of places where coverage isn't really an issue. When every carrier will give you the service you need, there's another option if you are shopping today.

That T-Mobile limited-time offer. 10GB for $50 is easily the best value here. If T-Mobile has the coverage you need and you're shopping right now, it's a simple choice — go magenta. Just take a long look at the coverage situation and make sure you're part of the 95%+ that can use T-Mobile.

See at T-Mobile

An MVNO might be the best answer

Looking at all the offerings from the carriers above, one thing is clear:

The Big Four carriers want you to sign up for an expensive unlimited plan, and their pricing on small data plans often is so close to the unlimited plan that it's difficult to recommend them.

There is a better solution that will fit almost anyone, and it's because all four carriers have agreements with alternative carriers, or MVNOs (Mobile Virtual Network Operators). A prepaid option from an MVNO is mostly identical to the prepaid plans from the carriers themselves, and you'll find a wider selection of plans, and usually with a better price. Companies like Cricket, Straight Talk, or Mint SIM can beat the Big Four's pricing and give you the same service on the same network.

Update November 2017: This article was updated with the most current information from all carriers.

Carriers

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

What color Galaxy Note 8 should you buy: Black, grey, gold, or blue?

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What color Galaxy Note 8 should you buy

So you're going to get a Galaxy Note 8 — but what color do you choose?

It's the question so many people will be asking themselves as they eyeball the Galaxy Note 8. Which of the available colors is "best" for me? Well we can't make up your mind for you, but we can offer looks at each of the four colors of the Galaxy Note 8, all side-by-side, and talk about a few of each one's characteristics.

Hopefully with that extra info and some pretty pictures, you'll have the knowledge you need to make a call on which one is the right color for you.

Galaxy Note 8 in Midnight Black

You can never go wrong releasing a black phone. Just like the Galaxy S8 and S8+, the "Midnight Black" Note 8 is black on black from the screen bezels to the metal surround to the back glass. It's glossy all around, and at a glance it's actually tough to differentiate between the high gloss metal and the glass on either side.

Who is it for?

If you're not sure about what color you want to get, black is always a safe choice. It's sleek, simple and understated, without being boring thanks to its shiny exterior. It's also best equipped to handle the daily scratches and scuffs it's likely to pick up as you use it, so this would be a great choice for those who may not use a case.

Galaxy Note 8 in Orchid Grey

You'd be forgiven for thinking that an "Orchid Grey" Galaxy Note 8 would be the same color as an "Orchid Grey" Galaxy S8 ... but actually, they're different. The Note 8's take on the color is considerably lighter, and far more on the spectrum of blue rather than purple. It's so different we're kind of surprised Samsung uses the same name.

It's still very attractive, for sure, and without being as reflective and outright shiny as the Maple Gold color.

Who is it for?

Orchid Grey is the lightest color available for the Note 8, and offers a light color option for people who don't want to go with gold or would have previously gone with a white phone when Samsung was making that color available.

Galaxy Note 8 in Maple Gold

Samsung has been doing some sort of gold/champagne/silver color for a few years now, and Maple Gold on the Galaxy Note 8 is a slight tweak on the historical norm. It's a bit deeper in color than previous versions, and it's accented by a super-shiny gold metal band around the sides. When the light catches it just right, the metal lights up — and at the same time the back glass can shift to a softer champagne or silver color.

Who is it for?

If you want to flashy, Maple Gold is the color for you. The bright gold frame really stands out from the other three colors, and will do the same in the company of phones from other companies as well.

Galaxy Note 8 in Deep Sea Blue

Deep Sea Blue instantly became a favorite of the Android Central team because of its deep, luscious hue of a navy-like blue with just a bit of a turquoise tinge depending on how the light hits it. It actually looks quite similar to the deep blue color offered in the Galaxy Note 5, though with more depth to it. The frame is the same kind of blue, and it's more on the dull side than the other colors.

Who is it for?

If you want a deep, strong color to your phone but don't want the flare and shine of the maple gold or orchid grey colors, this is going to be for you. It stands out from a crowd, but can just as simply blend in if you toss a case on it.

Regional differences matter

Don't get too attached to a specific color before you figure out which colors will actually be available where you live. If you're in the U.S., you'll have Midnight Black and Orchid Grey to choose from if you buy from the carriers, plus Deep Sea Blue if you go to Best Buy (carrier models or unlocked) or Samsung.com (unlocked). In Canada, the color choices are Midnight Black and Deep Sea Blue. Internationally, with some potential variations by market and retailer, you'll have access to all four colors.


Samsung Galaxy Note 8

Verizon AT&T T-Mobile Sprint Best Buy

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1 week ago

How to download and install MIUI 9 on the Redmi Note 4

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It's a straightforward process to update to MIUI 9 on the Redmi Note 4.

Xiaomi has started rolling out the stable build of MIUI 9 to its devices in India, with the Redmi Note 4, the Mi Mix 2, and the Mi Max 2 included in the first wave. The company kicked off the OTA update to the Redmi Note 4 at the start of the week, and if you haven't received the notification yet on your device, here's what you can do.

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1 week ago

How 'waterproof' is my phone? What those IP numbers really mean

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How do I tell what those IP ratings on my phone really mean? Just because a phone is rugged doesn't mean it will survive a dunk in the pool.

Manufacturers are making Android phones a little more rugged a little bit tougher than they used to be. It's a big selling feature. Phones from Samsung and LG and Motorola and even Google themselves now come with some degree of water and dust resistance. What those numbers represent can be important or even a deciding factor when spending the cash on a new phone.

You'll usually see "ruggedness" described with an IP rating or a MIL-STD rating or both. Those are standards (loose ones in some cases) that determine how resistant something is the elements — things like water resistance, shock (both electrical and physical), temperature, air pressure, and a host of other things that want to ruin your phone.

The ratings and certifications were developed long before the invention of cellphones — they cover things like valves and electrical boxes. But more recently, they do apply to phones, and not just the ones that are built like tanks. Let's break each rating down a little so you know what they really mean.

Ingress Protection

Don't do this

No, not the location-based game from those Pokemon guys, ingress protection refers to the ability for a product to prevent foreign objects — specifically liquid and dust particles — from getting inside. And while we usually think the term IP stands for ingress protection, it actually stands for International Protection, as in an International Protection Marking.

The IP Code is designated by the initials IP followed by two digits and possibly a letter, like a K. Most letter designations are something we'll never encounter on small portable electronic devices; they refer to something that can withstand high-pressure, high-flow spray jets, like a car wash sprayer nozzle. In that situation, your phone would be toast.

(Never run your phone through the car wash, unless it is one of these and you don't mind breaking the car wash. We're kidding. Don't run even the Nokia 3310 through a car wash, people.)

Never run your phone through a car wash to test its IP rating. Seriously.

The digits each represent a resistance rating. The first number stands for the level of solid particle protection (dust). The second number stands for liquid ingress protection. A manufacturer doesn;t have to test for both, but if it doesn't the number will be replaced by an X, so it would look something like IPX7 or IP6X. Here's how the numbers stack up.

Solid particle protection

Solid IP number How effective is it? IP number How effective is it? 0 Not protected at all against any size particle. 1 Protected against particles larger than 50 mm 2 Protected against particles larger than 12.5 mm
(This is the minimum rating to protect against putting your finger into a thing). 3 Protected against particles larger than 2.5 mm 4 Protected against particles larger than 1 mm 5 Dust Protected
Dust must not enter in enough quantity to affect the normal operation. 6 Dust Tight
Dust can't enter, even in a vacuum.

Liquid ingress protection

Liquid IP number How effective is it? IP number How effective is it? 0 Not protected at all. 1 Protected against dripping water. 2 Protected against dripping water when tilted up to a 15-degree angle from its normal position. 3 Protected against spraying water when tilted up to a 60-degree angle from its normal position. 4 Protected against splashing water at any angle. 5 Protected against water sprayed from a 6.3 mm nozzle at 12.5 Liters/minute and 30 kPa (pressure) from three meters away for three minutes. 6 Protected against water sprayed from a 12.5 mm nozzle at 100 Liters/minute and 100 kPa (pressure) from three meters away for three minutes. 6K Protected against water sprayed from a 6.3 mm nozzle at 75 Liters/minute and 1,000 kPa (pressure) from three meters away for three minutes.
(1,000 kPa is a standard amount of water pressure through a fire hydrant). 7 Protected against immersion in water up to one meter at normal pressure for 30 minutes. 8 Protected against immersion in water one meter or deeper at specifications detailed by the manufacturer. 9X Protection against water sprayed from high-flow and high-pressure jets at high-temperature
Water volume of 14 to 16 Liters/minute
Water pressure of 80 to 100 bar (up to 1,451 Psi)
Water temperature of 80-degrees
Distance of 0.10 to 0.15 meters. This could kill a person.

In addition (because this wasn't confusing enough) the IP Code has letter designations for additional protection. Like any K rating, you'll never see these on a cell phone but I'm putting them here because we're going to be complete. Deal with it.

Additional protection designation

Letter code What it means Letter code What it means f Oil resistant H High voltage protection M Motion during any testing S No motion during any testing W Weather resistant

Yes, the "f" is not capitalized, and "Weather resistant" doesn't tell us anything at all. We didn't write the specification so we're not sure why thinsg were written the way they are.

So when you buy a phone like the Galaxy S8 that has a rating of IP68 you can put it in a vacuum and dust can't get in, or let it sit in more than one meter of water forever, right? Nope.

Phones sent to a testing lab passed. Yours might not.

The dust protection rating leaves zero wiggle room. The S8 is dustproof under any conditions a human being can be in. The liquid ingress protection of 8 is "specified by the manufacturer", and Samsung says submersion up to 5.0 feet for up to 30 minutes.

Cool, let's go play with it in the bathtub and take videos of a rubber duckie versus GI Joe Wet Suit Frogman battle royale. This will be epic.

Not so fast. Samsung also says your device is not impervious to water damage in any situation, which is a total buzzkill.

The Galaxy S8 phones used for testing and certification were able to withstand dust intrusion under any circumstances up to and including a vacuum, and immersion in water 5-feet deep for a half hour. Your phone might not. The certification facility can't test every phone. The people who made it should be willing to talk about the warranty if you have an issue, though.

MIL-STD

This is a U.S. Military standard that specifies how something will fare against the environment during its lifetime. Android phones, watches and other electronics often carry the MIL-STD 810G certification, which means it was tested in a lab under conditions that simulate a gigantic list of environmental variables and still worked. Some of the things that are tested include temperature extremes, altitude, thermal shock, fungal ingress and being frozen solid. It's an exhaustive list, and if your phone passed these tests you can expect it to survive anything, including a week with Bear Grylls, right?

Nope.

This certification can be completely meaningless. For starters, the testing procedures clearly state that a manufacturer only has to test in simulated environments, which doesn't mean it will withstand the real thing. If that's not enough of a red flag, the fact that whoever does the testing gets to decide how anything is simulated and that the thing being tested doesn't even need to pass, only be tested should be. And feel free to see what happens to a phone with a battery when you freeze it and then thaw it out.

Dr. Conrad H. Blickenstorfer, Ph.D. explains it perfectly while discussing MIL-SPEC standards for laptops.

The MIL-STD-810G does not mandate standards or set minimum goals for the various tests; for the most part it simply describes how testing is to be conducted. This leaves considerable room for interpretation, and it is therefore important for manufacturers of rugged notebooks to provide detailed information on what tests were conducted, how exactly they were conducted, what the results were, and what those results actually mean. The claim that a product is "MIL-STD-810G tested" is not enough, and prospective customers should ask for more detail.

Saying something is MIL-STD 810G tested without providing a copy of the testing parameters and results means the same thing as "feels faster" or "excellent camera." Never use this as a factor in your decision to buy an electronic device unless you've seen those results.

Seeing IP numbers and Military toughness ratings on a phone you buy is generally a good thing. Not all individual devices will pass all real-life testing, but someone, somewhere decided it should be a little tougher than normal.

Having an IP-spec phone is great protection against accidents like spilling water or using it in a woodshop, and a MIL-STD 810G phone will probably fare an icy snowbank or fungal garden better than one without. Just remember, taking your phone scuba diving or spelunking just might mean time spent with a different phone while you discuss your warranty options.

Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+

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OnePlus 5: Top things you need to know

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OnePlus 5

It's hard to ignore the importance of this phone in the Android world.

The OnePlus 5 is the most expensive phone the company has ever made, and subsequently has the highest expectations. The base plan to meet those expectations is to double down on the formula that has at least got OnePlus this far: high-end specs, solid hardware and super-fast software. Then there's the extra bit of marketing thrown behind its camera setup, which is the first substantial change to the formula of previous OnePlus phones.

The best place to get up to speed with the OnePlus 5 is right here — here are the top things you need to know about this phone.

The OnePlus 5T is on its way

Around the middle of October, OnePlus stopped selling the OnePlus 5. The prevailing wisdom is that OnePlus is making room to begin selling the OnePlus 5T when that is officially announced.

More: OnePlus 5T could be unveiled on November 16

A whole heap of top-notch specs

OnePlus 5 storage and RAM

For another generation, OnePlus is giving us just about all of the top-end specs we want to see in a high-end phone today. It starts with the latest Snapdragon 835 processor, and continues on with a standard 6GB of RAM and 64GB of storage. There's also an optional 8GB RAM and 128GB storage model for just $60 extra.

You'll also see an above-average 3300mAh battery inside despite the phone's 7.25 mm thickness, and it offers quick charging that can match or exceed how quickly other phones charge up with their Quick Charge 3.0 tech. You get USB-C connectivity, of course, and a 3.5 mm headphone jack — unfortunately, an increasingly rare item these days.

More: Spec comparison: OnePlus 5 vs. OnePlus 3

We're missing waterproofing, though

But of course, a phone that starts at $479 can't do it all. There are still a few specs and features "missing" here that you could find on other phones ... but the biggest one is waterproofing.

Yup, you won't find an IP rating at all on the OnePlus 5, and that's something you find in just about all of the flagship competition. No matter that those phones are $150-250 more than the OnePlus 5, because OnePlus is definitely framing its latest phone as a competitor to those flagships.

Some things remain unchanged from the OnePlus 3 and 3T

OnePlus 5 and OnePlus 3

For all of the advancements in the OnePlus 5, some parts of its experience have remain unchanged — or imperceptibly changed — from its predecessor, the OnePlus 3.

Much of what you find on the OnePlus 5 was introduced in 2016's OnePlus 3.

Some key parts of the hardware experience are the same now as they were before, including the 5.5-inch 1080p display, the one-touch fingerprint sensor below the screen, the great "Alert Slider" on the left edge, and the Dash Charge fast charging system. The phone's dimensions are also near-identical, with the OnePlus 5 being marginally thinner and narrower, and just shy of 2 mm taller.

The Android 7.1 Nougat software on the OnePlus 5 is also very similar in features to the OnePlus 3, particularly if you've dabbled in any of the beta builds for the older phone where the new software has been in testing. The experience of using the phones side-by-side today is hardly different, and the small differences can (and should) be brought to the OnePlus 3 in due time.

In many cases the stagnation isn't a bad thing, but it is worth noting that the OnePlus 5 has strong continuity with the phone that came before it.

OxygenOS is one of the best software experiences today

After a few early stumbles with its execution, OnePlus has created one of the best software experiences available on an Android phone today. OxygenOS, as OnePlus calls it, is based on the latest Android Nougat build from Google but also integrates several super-useful features that so many people desire in their phone.

You can tweak all sorts of little things like the status bar, launcher, theme, icon packs and the notification LED. But you can also change larger areas like choosing between on-screen or capacitive navigation keys, and adding screen-off gestures to launch specific functions and apps.

More: The OnePlus 5 is filled with great little software customizations

The best part about all of these changes is that they don't get in your way if you don't want them, and don't detract from the overall clean experience offered by Android the way it comes from Google. Performance on the OnePlus 5 doesn't suffer, either, which we can all be happy about.

You now have two rear cameras

A substantial area of change when compared to the OnePlus 3 is the OnePlus 5's camera setup. The new phone has a new 16MP camera, a faster f/1.7 lens and new image processing techniques, but has lost OIS (optical image stabilization) in the process. The main camera feels like an overall upgrade from the OnePlus 3, and it's capable of taking some great photos. But its lack of physical stabilization hamstrings it in scenes with mixed or little light, and the results end up being a bit grainy or blurry if you're not careful with stabilizing your hands.

Dual cameras give you new options — and one important omission.

Sitting right next to the "main" camera is another camera as well: a 20MP sensor with an f/2.6 lens that has a longer focal length — around 40 mm equivalent to the main's 24 mm. You can tap the "2x" button in the camera app to quickly switch to this lens and take photos with a unique perspective — and because it has 20MP of resolution you can even digitally zoom in a tad without losing much fidelity.

More: The OnePlus 5 has a DxOMark Mobile score of 87

The big reason for including the second camera is "Portrait Mode," which is a way to use both lenses at once to create a faux background blurring effect to try and mimic what you'd see in a DSLR. It can be hit or miss (this software is really hard to do right), but when it works you get a cool-looking photo that's different from what you'd see from either camera on its own.

It works just about anywhere in the world ... but not Verizon

OnePlus 5 SIM tray

OnePlus surpassed a pretty big technological hurdle to be able to ship one model of the phone with radio support for 30+ countries — particularly in facing the Chinese market that uses many bands you don't find anywhere else. That means you can take your phone to most places in the world and have it work on the local carrier, which is great for international travelers. There are also two SIM slots, giving you even more possibilities.

More: There's one OnePlus 5 version for the whole world

The one shortcoming, speaking purely from a U.S. perspective, is its lack of support for Verizon and Sprint. Even though the OnePlus 5 technically supports some of the necessary LTE bands for the carriers, OnePlus is making no claim of testing or certification for those networks. It's annoying and frustrating, but you shouldn't buy the OnePlus 5 expecting to use it on Verizon or Sprint.

If you bring the OnePlus 5 to T-Mobile you'll find it works great, including support for both VoLTE and Wi-Fi calling. Unfortunately those advanced calling features aren't available on AT&T — you'll get the basic voice and data services there.

Dash Charge is awesome, but has some requirements

The in-house developed Dash Charge charging system helps your OnePlus 5's battery charge up incredibly fast. But because of the way the charger has to interact with the phone to perform the fast charging without generating much heat, it requires a special charger and cable. You must use a OnePlus-made Dash Charge charger and cable, or it just won't work. OnePlus includes the correct charger and cable in the OnePlus 5's box, and also offers extra wall chargers and car chargers on its website.

The only frustrating part about Dash Charge is that it isn't cross-compatible with other fast charging systems, like the widely used Qualcomm Quick Charge or the more generic USB-C Power Delivery spec. That means if you plug into another charger (or use another cable) it will likely top out at about 5V/2.4A — which is pretty fast, but not nearly as fast as Dash Charge is.

Read our review and other coverage

Get to know the OnePlus 5 in detail by reading our comprehensive review, as well as our second take review. You can see how the OnePlus 5 compares to the Galaxy S8 and then how their cameras compare, too.

Updated November 2017: Made sure everything is up to date and fresh! Plus, we now have reviews and more!

OnePlus 5T and OnePlus 5

OnePlus Amazon

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