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3 months ago

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

Samsung Galaxy S8+

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

Samsung will sell you a Galaxy S8 and S8+ from just about anywhere you want. Every carrier, retailer and online store you can think of has these phones, and for the most part they each offer the same colors and plan options as well. We've rounded up the top places you'll be looking to buy, and you can find all of the info you need right here.

U.S. carriers

All of the U.S. carriers are offering both the Galaxy S8 and S8+, which come with 64GB of storage and in three different colors: black, orchid grey and silver.

Verizon

Verizon comes in at a pretty standard price for the Galaxy S8 at $756, though now and then you can find a discount or promotion that'll knock some money off. Spend just $84 more, and you can have the larger Galaxy S8+.

See at Verizon

AT&T

AT&T's pricing is set at $749 for the Galaxy S8 and $849 for the Galaxy S8+, and offers the longest financing option of 30 months — which spreads out the prices to $25 per month for the GS8 and $28 per month for the GS8+.

See at AT&T

T-Mobile

T-Mobile pegs prices at $750 for the Galaxy S8 and $850 for the Galaxy S8+. If you want to finance your purchase, it breaks down to $30 up front and $30 per month for 24 months for the GS8, or $130 up front and $30 per month for 24 months for the GS8+.

See at T-Mobile

Sprint

Sprint continues to offer the most confusing pricing scheme for its Galaxy phones. The big numbers you see it push are its leasing plans, which are cheap per month but involve returning the phone after 18 months to then pay to get a new one. The Galaxy S8 on an 18 month lease is $31.25 per month, or you can pay that same price per month over 24 months to buy it in full — the full price is then $750. The Galaxy S8+ comes in at $35.42 per month on that 18 month lease, or you can continue to pay the same price over 24 months to pay the full retail price of $850. Those financing deals also mark a $30 discount when ordered online.

See at Sprint

MetroPCS

T-Mobile's low-cost subsidiary MetroPCS is selling just the standard Galaxy S8 and not the S8+. Its pricing is great, at $729, and the carrier often has incentives if you port over your number.

See at MetroPCS

Cricket

The AT&T-owned prepaid carrier is offering up just the Galaxy S8 and not the GS8+ at the moment. You can get it in one color, midnight black, and it'll cost you $699 out the door.

See at Cricket

Retailers

Big retailers like Best Buy and Walmart are selling the Galaxy S8 and S8+, typically tied to a carrier with many of the same perks as the carriers offer directly. Historically these retailers have offered slight discounts in the form of gift cards or accessory incentives, so take a look to see which one is offering the best deal.

Best Buy

Best Buy has both the Galaxy S8 and S8+ on all four major U.S. carriers. Pricing matches that of ordering directly from the carriers, for the most part, with some special deals depending on when you go to order.

See at Best Buy

Walmart

Walmart will let you order the Galaxy S8 and S8+ online, but only if you want it as a prepaid phone from Total Wireless or Straight Talk. If so, the prices are great: $659 for the Galaxy S8, and $759 for the Galaxy S8+ — color choices are limited, though, with some models only offering one or two to choose from.

See at Walmart

If you want to buy from Walmart for one of the big carriers — Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, U.S. Cellular — you'll have to do so in store, at least right now. Prices and availability of different models and carriers may vary depending on your region. You have to use the Walmart "store finder" to get an idea of what you can get.

See at Walmart

Unlocked models

Several weeks after the launch of the carrier-sanctioned versions of the phones, Samsung started making proper U.S. unlocked models available. You can get them from some of the major retailers, as well as Samsung itself.

Best Buy

Right now, Best Buy is the only place that wants to say it is selling an official U.S. unlocked Galaxy S8 or S8+. Pricing is set at $725 for the Galaxy S8 and $825 for the Galaxy S8+.

See at Best Buy

Amazon

You can get the same U.S. unlocked model from Amazon as you can elsewhere. Just be careful that you buy the right one and not some international model that's imported and doesn't have the proper U.S. warranty you likely want.

See at Amazon

Samsung

Why not buy your unlocked Samsung phone directly from Samsung? Its own online store doesn't always have the lowest prices, but is worth considering for some limited-time deals that can crop up. It also offers 24-month financing even when you buy unlocked.

See at Samsung

Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+

Verizon AT&T T-Mobile Sprint Unlocked

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3 months ago

5 Important Considerations When Buying a Used Phone

29

Buying a used phone can be a heck of a deal, but you need to know what to look out for!

When it's time to upgrade your phone, most of us will go to our carriers and see what deals they have to offer — but don't forget about the bustling used smartphone market. You can find your next great phone at a discounted price by buying used, but we've got some tips to consider before hopping on Craigslist and buying the first phone that pops up.

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Always inspect the phone in person — if possible

It sounds obvious, but turn on the phone and see that it works. Don't get screwed.

Honest folks will properly photograph and report any and all damage on the phone in their online ad, but if you're buying a used phone from a local seller you'll want to do a full inspection before sealing the deal. If you're buying from a local seller and are planning to meet up in public (always choose a public location for in-person meetups), be sure to take the time to look over the device thoroughly.

Look for all signs of wear, but especially any dents along the side or chips around the edge of the screen. Since it's very likely the phone will not be under warranty, you don't want to end up buying a phone that's on its dying legs or on the verge of some serious issues. Also always make sure the phone powers on properly and that it doesn't have any security locks — a telltale sign that someone's trying to sell you a stolen phone.

Look beyond Craigslist and eBay

While you might instinctively search Craigslist or other local swap sites for used phones being sold in your city, or eBay to try and snag an excellent deal, there's an inherent risk involved with both services that you might get ripped off.

That's why you should check out the reputable phone reselling sites out there, which acts as a third-party intermediary between the seller and the buyer while also verifying the condition and value of the phone. You've got two main options to choose from.

Gazelle sells certified pre-owned devices that go through a rigorous inspection process to check for any functionality or cosmetic issues. Gazelle also ensures that all devices are reset prior to shipment and include a USB charger and charging cable for your phone. With unlocked phones as well as models locked to specific carriers available, you can save some money and get a new (to you) phone at a steep discount.

Swappa is the other site worthy of your attention. Swappa relies on PayPal for all transactions, allowing you to pay the seller directly while keeping you protected by PayPal's outstanding buyer protection policy. Swappa offers more comprehensive information about the market prices for phones, too, so you can see how the average price has fallen over time.

Orchard is another service we recommend you check out. The company just expanded to selling Android phones, and every device it sells has gone through a thorough diagnostic to make sure everything is in working order.

No matter which service you go with, make sure you've done your research and know exactly what you're buying.

It pays to be patient

If you're in no immediate hurry to buy a used phone, it might be well worth waiting for the next big phone launch before buying a phone. Consider that the average price of a used Samsung Galaxy S7 edge on Swappa has dropped by around $100 since March 2017 — the Galaxy S8 was released in April, so you can see how the trend works.

So the lesson here is to be strategic. Wait for the next big phone release and watch the market for a flood of last year's device. The next big Android release will be the Galaxy Note 8, so you should expect to see the value of older phones drop a bit on the resale market.

Be aware of any carrier locks

Put your SIM card in it. Make a phone call.

Typically, you're going to find the better deals on a phone that are locked to a specific carrier. This is fine, as long as you buy the right phone for your carrier. While certified sellers will absolutely include whether a phone is carrier locked in the posting title or description, Chuck from across town might be oblivious to this and think he's selling an unlocked phone when it's actually from AT&T.

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To save yourself a headache, if you're buying in person try inserting your SIM card in the phone and powering it on. If you get any network lock notifications, that's an immediate red flag, especially if it was advertised as being unlocked. Ask for an unlock code or walk away.

Alternatively, with sites like Swappa or Gazelle you're typically going to pay a premium for an unlocked phone, so if you can find the phone you want that's available on the carrier you're with go for it. If you have no intentions of switching carriers anytime soon, you can save some serious cash.

Use some of your savings to protect your purchase

Around these parts, we always recommend getting a case or screen protector for your new phone. This advice goes double when you're buying a used phone because you can't be too sure what hell a phone may have gone through before it got into your hands.

I've had phones take a drop and appear to be fine, only to have the screen crack weeks or months later because the structural integrity of the phone had been compromised. The thing is, you just never know for sure with a used phone so it's best to err on the side of caution. Besides, you're already going to be saving a ton of money by buying used, whats $10 or $20 for some accessories that will extend the life of your phone?

The best insurance policies for your phone

What are your tips?

Have you bought used phones before? What was your experience like? Got any tips to add to our list? Share them in the comments below!

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3 months ago

These Android apps can secretly suck up your prepaid data

26

Take a few minutes and tame those unruly apps — you'll save some data!

Your phone needs an internet connection to do just about anything. That could be a Wi-Fi connection where how much data you're using isn't a concern for most — but you could also be sucking up those vital megabytes of cellular data.

This is exactly why you bought a data plan, so you could do just about everything with your phone. But some apps can be total data hogs. Identifying and taming them is easy once you know where to look!

Twitter

Twitter is a great way to see topical (and sometimes funny!) short clips and videos. As you scroll down your timeline you'll see them peppered in with tweets, and if you notice them playing on their own, it's eating a lot of data. The reason they can autoplay is that they are being downloaded in the background even before you scroll to them.

You can fix this in the settings:

  • Open Settings and Privacy by tapping on your account photo.
  • Open Data usage and tap Video autoplay.
  • Set it to Wi-Fi only or Never.

     

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Google Photos / Google+

Backing up all your pictures and video is pretty awesome, and we recommend you use Google Photos to do just that. But if you don't have things set up correctly, auto-upload may be eating your data. Check and make sure you're only uploading on Wi-Fi.

  • Open the Settings from the menu.
  • Look for the Back up & sync menu item, and tap it.
  • Make sure Cellular data back up is disabled so photos and videos don't upload in the background.

     

Instagram

Instagram is all about sharing media, and like Twitter, those photos, videos, and content from Stories will autoload in the background unless you shut this off in the settings. This can add up!

  • Open the Settings and look for Cellular Data Use.
  • If it's set to Default you're preloading all the content.
  • Choose Use Less Data to stop preloading content and save some data.

     

Widgets

Widgets are a live look at a slice of an app. Some can use a lot of data if you don't dig into the app settings and tame things down.

This is especially true of widgets for apps like news readers or anything with a live feed. The more often a widget refreshes, the more data it will use.

Open the app associated with the widget and find its settings. Look for things like refresh rates or data usage in the settings and see what you can adjust.

     

Facebook

Facebook will do the same thing as Twitter and Instagram when it comes to media in your timeline. Reading ahead and preloading the content can make for a great experience, but it comes at the cost of data usage; not to mention using more of your battery to do it.

  • Open the menu and scroll way, way down to find the App settings.
  • Tap and look for Videos in News Feed Start With Sound and toggle it off.
  • Further down in the settings find Autoplay and you can set it to autoplay on Wi-Fi only.

     

Netflix

Netflix only uses data when you're using it and know you're using data. But you can dramatically lower how much by changing the Cellular Data Usage setting. And don't forget you can now download some videos from Netflix to watch later.

This is Netflix-specific, but it's not a Netflix-only problem. Any app that streams video can kill your data plan if you don't manage the quality settings.

  • Open the settings and find Cellular Data Usage.
  • Choose the setting that suits you best based on the amount of data it uses.

     

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YouTube

The YouTube app will also stream video at a few different quality settings, some of which can put a dent in your data for the month. You can change these settings if you need to save some data.

  • Open the Settings and tap the General section.
  • Under Limit mobile data usage, set the quality limit you want to use.

     

Hangouts/Duo/Any video chat app

Two-way video conferencing can (and will) eat your data. The video is compressed and usage is usually cut down as much as possible, but you're still using a lot of data to chat over your favorite video app.

Most apps of this type don't have user-adjustable quality settings and do a good job compressing things to be as efficient as possible. If you see a setting to limit data on mobile, be sure to enable it.

It's just important to know that they can gobble up the data while you're using them. Try to stick to Wi-Fi.

Your turn

What are your tricks for saving data when you're on a prepaid plan? Let us know in the comments below!

Alternative carriers (MVNOS)

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3 months ago

How to control Samsung SmartThings with Google Assistant

1

It's easy to automate your life with a small investment in Samsung's connected smart accessories and a free app from Google.

I figured that the easiest way to turn my home into an automated abode was to find out which platform would best pair with the existing power of Google Assistant. Samsung's SmartThings like the right fit considering the breadth of accessories it has to offer.

I discovered that I could use IFTTT commands in my house, too, to program a more personalized experience for myself. Read on, and I'll teach you how to set up Google Assistant to work with Samsung's SmartThings.

How to connect Google Assistant to Samsung SmartThings with the Home app

Before we start, you'll need to download the Google Home app to configure Assistant.

  1. Launch the Home app.
  2. Open the menu.
  3. Tap Home control.
  4. Tap the plus sign to add a device.
  5. Scroll down and select Samsung SmartThings / Connect as the option.

  6. Log in to your Samsung account.
  7. Authorize Assistant to access your SmartThings devices.
  8. Assign it to a room and tap done.

Google will let you know once you're all set and ready to continue on your journey towards supreme home automation. Tap Got it to move forward. When you return to the Home control menu, you can tap on the device to set up a nickname — this helps ensures that Assistant knows what you're referring to if you tend to use a different name for things.

It also helps if you've got an amalgamation of automatic switches, lights, and outlets placed throughout. Note that Assistant only works with light bulbs, plugs, on/off switches, and dimmers. Some programmable thermostats are also controllable with Assistant.

Now that you've got everything set up, you can command Google Assistant to control your stuff. If you have SmartThings light switches hooked up to every lamp around the house, for instance, you can say "Ok Google, turn off the lights" and all the lights will shut off. Or, if you need to know if a switch is on upstairs, you can ask Google for the status, and it will respond appropriately. Peep these phrases to get started.

How to control Samsung SmartThings with Assistant through IFTTT

Not all Samsung SmartThings are programmable through the Home app, so that's when you'll want to call on the aid of IFTTT. I also like the service because it allows me to program phrases as I'd say them, not as Assistant is programmed to hear them.

Be sure to set up an IFTTT account with your Samsung and Google accounts before diving into the programming process.

Next, we'll show you how to program a command to your liking.

  1. Tap My Applets.
  2. Tap the plus sign.
  3. Tap this.
  4. Search for Google Assistant.
  5. Select Say a simply phrase.
  6. Enter your preferred trigger.

  7. Tap the checkmark.
  8. Tap that.
  9. Select SmartThings
  10. Select an action.

When you've nearly finished, you'll see a Applet preview. Choose whether you want to receive a notification when the applet runs, and tap Finished. Then, try out your command to see if it sticks.

IFTTT offers a nearly effortless and endless supply of programmable actions between Google Assistant and your Samsung SmartThings, though you might find that most of the formulas you set up are for saying a command differently than the default. You can also use IFTTT to check up on things like multi purpose motions sensors if you like, though it's mostly limited to a notification to let you know that it ran. For instance, I have a sensor at the back door of my office, and I receive a notification on my smartphone any time it's opened.

Samsung Connect Home review: a router and SmartThings hub in one

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3 months ago

Android O and Bluetooth 5: Everything you need to know

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Android O has full support for Bluetooth 5, so device makers don't have to do the work themselves.

The HTC U 11 and Motorola Z2 Force both shipped with Android N and Bluetooth 4.2 support. Both are gaining Bluetooth 5 support with their respective Android O upgrades. Let's talk about what that means and why they waited.

This is a software-only update

The Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 hardware supports Bluetooth 5. We know this is the case, not just because Qualcomm tells us, but because phones like the OnePlus 5 and Galaxy S8 and S8+ shipped with Bluetooth 5 support. HTC mentions this in its recent FCC filing:

The major change is to enable Bluetooth 5.0 by software without any hardware change. The source code/SW file about this SW enabling will ONLY be held by HTC Corporation and it is IMPOSSIBLE to release these source code/SW file to any other third party to effect the RF function, power, or rating of this device. Except for the changes mentioned above, no other modification is performed.

The change will come when these phones are updated to Android O (and no, we don't know when that will be), and you won't have to do anything or send your phones anywhere or get a new SIM card. It will just work.

That's cool, but what makes Bluetooth 5 better than 4.2?

Bluetooth specifications are a lot like USB specifications. They use a numeric system to track them, and to qualify as being compliant, the hardware must be able to meet certain thresholds for transfer and receive speeds, power consumption, and compatibility. That means a higher number will be newer and better in some ways than a lower number and a jump from 4.2 to 5 is more significant than a jump from 4.1 to 4.2.

Bluetooth 5 brings longer range, faster data speeds and a better way to connect.

Bluetooth 5 offers three major features: 4x longer range, twice the data speeds, and eight-times longer ADV packets (ADV stands for advertising, and advertising packets are used to broadcast what a device can do to all other Bluetooth devices in range). It's easy to understand why more range is good, but it's important to know that data transfer is more than just sharing files. For example, music is also digital data when streamed over Bluetooth and a higher speed means it can deliver more of the audio data for "better" sound and less chance for syncing errors.

Larger ADV packets are important, too. When a device can share more information about its capabilities, the handshake between two devices is faster and less error-prone. There are a lot of technical advantages to a longer ADV packet, and if you're interested, you should have a look. Just know that devices can't connect via Bluetooth without using ADV packets, and having more data in each makes for a better experience.

An example: Using Bluetooth 5, your phone can stream music to your headphones up to 120 feet away (versus 30 feet for older Bluetooth standards), send twice as much digital data so your music sounds fuller and won't stutter as much, and can connect with fewer errors because the two devices know more about what each is capable of. It's good all around.

So, why are HTC and Motorola waiting for Android O to make the switch?

We can't be 100% sure why they are waiting, but it's likely because of the extra support for Bluetooth 5 that comes in Android O.

The Bluetooth 5 standard was completed in December 2016, so everyone has known about the changes for a while. When Android N was finalized, the Bluetooth 5 standard wasn't complete yet, so there are some pretty significant features that aren't supported. Two important features, in particular, are missing from Android N.

  • The preferred PHY (Physical) Low Energy layer. When two devices communicate over Bluetooth they need to work out the best and most efficient way to send data. Each device has a set of checks to look for the "right" method to use here, and Bluetooth 5 support isn't being checked. This means that the connection would fall back to an earlier Bluetooth standard and the Bluetooth 5 features won't be used.
  • ADV packets longer than 60 bytes can't be checked. When two Bluetooth devices "talk" to each other, the ADV packets are scanned. In Android N, the packet is expected to be a certain length, so packets larger than 60 bytes can return an error or simply not be read. In Android O, this has changed and there is no expected length of each packet and the raw data is read until the end of the packet is reached.

In simpler terms, this means that on Android versions earlier than O, a Bluetooth 5 device isn't able to properly announce what it is and what it can do, and when the connection is finally set up, it will fall back to an older standard even if the hardware supports it.

Bluetooth 5 just wasn't ready when Android N was developed.

The Samsung Galaxy S8, for example, has to use code in the Bluetooth layer from Samsung itself to get around these issues because Android doesn't have the support. This costs a lot of money and takes a lot of time, and in the end, it might all have to be changed to be more compatible with Android O. It's more a business decision than a technical decision. Since Samsung took the time to add its own extras to Bluetooth, it wisely built in the Bluetooth 5 standard instead of an older standard.

Bluetooth is going to be awesome when we get Android O and Bluetooth 5 support, right?

Nope. Sorry.

All the benefits of Bluetooth 5 require both devices to be Bluetooth 5-compliant. If one device, for example, is Bluetooth 4.x-specified, the connection falls back to the 4.x standard. That means until your headphones or car system is Bluetooth 5 ready, none of this matters. Two Galaxy S8 phones connected via Bluetooth can have faster file transfers, but there's no guarantee that Samsung's version of Bluetooth 5 and Android O's version are 100% compatible, so a GS8 to HTC U11 connection might not benefit.

Bluetooth 5 benefits require both devices to be compliant.

When Bluetooth 5 becomes old news and everything supports it (which won't be anytime soon) this will change and we'll see the benefits. One good piece of news is that IoT (Internet of Things) devices are usually ahead of the curve and we'll see Bluetooth 5 support long before other devices start to use it. This can be a pretty big deal when talking about low-energy scanning, because of the longer ADV packets. You'll save battery life when looking for beacons or other LE devices.

Android has always been forward thinking when it comes to Bluetooth, and we see this with every new release. Just be on the lookout for other devices that are Bluetooth 5-complaint to take advantage of the new standards.

Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+

Verizon AT&T T-Mobile Sprint Unlocked

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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3 months ago

How to fix Galaxy S8 battery life problems

61
Galaxy S8 power usage screen

Battery life on the Galaxy S8 and S8+ is actually pretty good — but it can always be better.

After the first couple of week using a phone where battery life seems great, things can go south as we load up our new phone with all kinds of things and turn on every last feature. The Galaxy S8 and S8+ aren't immune to battery shortcomings if you push them hard enough, and that means you'll be looking for ways to scale things back and return to great battery life.

We have a handful of solid tips here to help you get the most out of your Galaxy S8 or S8+ battery, whether you're currently happy with its longevity or not. Read on.

Use power saving mode

Galaxy S8 power saving mode

The easiest way to save precious battery power is to use one of the built-in power saving modes. You can find them in settings, device maintenance then battery. You can also toggle power saving mode in the quick settings area of the notification shade.

It's all about finding a balance between features and battery longevity.

The power saving mode most people will use is the "mid" level, which tries to strike a balance between saving power and letting your phone do everything you need. When you tap "mid" you'll see what it does — decrease brightness, lower the screen resolution, limit CPU performance and disable both background network usage and the Always On Display. It'll add multiple hours to your battery life over the course of the day, but you probably wouldn't want to use this all the time.

You can also tweak the parameters to maybe find a middle ground that works for you — just tap "customize" and see what you can change. For example you may keep the CPU speed limiter on, but also turn on background network usage so apps continue to sync when you're not actively using them.

For the dire situations when you have very little battery or don't have any idea when you'll find power again, look at the "max" power saving mode. This mode dramatically turns down your screen resolution, limits performance further and turns off even more features — all in the name of letting the battery last as long as possible, while giving you the basic phone functions you need.

Finally, if you don't want to delve all the way into the settings, Samsung has made it really easy to temporarily put an app to sleep straight from the launcher. Just long-press an icon on the home screen and tap Sleep. This puts the app to sleep — and saves it from eating battery — until you open it again.

Uninstall unused apps

This is one of the easiest ways to cut down on battery drain, and also one that so many people forget as they use their phone over weeks and months. We all install apps that we use once or haven't touched in a month, and those apps can sometimes be using battery even though you don't need them. Head into settings then apps and scroll through to see if there are any apps hanging out that you've forgotten about and don't need any more.

Remember, you can always re-install the app later on down the road if you think you need it again. There's little need to keep an unused app installed and potentially running on your phone.

Check for power-hungry apps

Galaxy S8 power usage screen

The last couple versions of Android introduced some really nice system-level features that take care of runaway apps, but every once and a while they can get carried away. If you notice your battery draining faster than usual, it could be one or two apps causing it — whether they're running when you aren't aware, or are just using more battery than they should even though you're using them. Go to settings, device maintenance and battery to see what apps are using notable amounts of juice.

These settings are a bit confusing, but powerful if you want to tweak things.

This is best to do at the end of the day to get an accurate picture of just how much battery an app is using, but the bottom half of this settings screen shows what percentage of the day's battery has been used by any given app. You'll see usual culprits like social media apps or photo apps, but if something looks out of the ordinary you can tap on that app and hit "save power" to completely limit that app from running in the background. We wouldn't advise you do this for lots of apps, but if something's being problematic you can remedy that here.

For a bit of background, the system also automatically throttles back apps that haven't been used in 3 days (customizable up to 7 days), so chances are any runaway app that you're not using won't be able to muck things up for too long anyway. If you don't want an app to ever be throttled in the background, you can select it in the "unmonitored apps" area at the bottom of the settings pane.

Lower the screen resolution

One quick setting you can change semi-permanently to improve battery life without really hurting your experience is to reduce the screen resolution. Just go into settings, display and screen resolution to see your options. By default the Galaxy S8 and S8+ actually don't run at their max resolution — they stick at "FHD+" instead, because the processor doesn't have to work as hard to run the phone, which saves you battery lie.

If you've moved up to "WQHD+" for the best-looking screen possible, you can scale it back down to save a little battery life. We wouldn't recommend going with "HD+" unless you're really trying to save battery life ... but in that case you may be better off considering the overall power saving mode instead.

Reduce screen brightness

Samsung Galaxy S8

Samsung's AMOLED displays keep getting more efficient, but the screen continues to be a notable drain on a phone's battery life. You can simply lower the screen brightness on your Galaxy S8 to save battery life — either by using the slider in the notification shade, or in settings then display.

If you want, you can also turn off automatic brightness here so that even in bright conditions the screen doesn't ramp up and use up more battery. Just realize that the amount of battery you save by doing so may not be worth it when you consider you won't be able to see your screen as well in those conditions.

Turn off unused radios

If you're looking to save battery at the cost of convenience, you should turn off both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth when they're not in use. You can toggle either one from the notification shade quick settings, which makes the process easy.

Going a step further, you can also turn off Wi-Fi and Bluetooth scanning, which is actually used to help with location services even when both radios are technically turned off. You can find this in settings, connections, location then improve accuracy. By turning off these two switches your phone won't use Wi-Fi or Bluetooth at all unless you have them turned on — the one downside being that it may take marginally longer to locate your phone in the world if your data connection and GPS aren't functioning properly.

Last resort: a battery pack

No matter how much you tweak and change on your phone, sometimes that just isn't enough — after all, the battery isn't getting any larger either way. For those times when the power you need out of your Galaxy S8 or S8+ is more than you can reasonably achieve with the built-in battery, check out the battery pack and battery case options available out there.

Most of the battery cases out there are a pretty terrible compromise of bulk for not very much battery power, so we would recommend a compact external battery pack that offers fast charging instead. Samsung makes its own line of battery packs that will quickly charge the Galaxy S8 and S8+ while matching its look, but there are tons available out there from Anker, Aukey and more.

Update July 2017: Brought up to speed with the latest tips to help you extend your battery life.

Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+

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3 months ago

PlayStation VR toubleshooting guide

Everything you need to know, just in case something goes wrong.

PlayStation VR is a great system that's introduced many people to VR, but even the best systems experience problems from time to time. From tracking issues to display issues to audio issues, here's how to fix pretty much any problem you experience with your PlayStation VR.

See more at VR Heads!

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3 months ago

Top 5 things you need to know about switching carriers

7

Switching phone service doesn't have to be such a chore.

Changing your phone carrier can be stressful. Shopping around and seeing so many different choices and prices and crazy perks can leave anyone confused ready to throw in the towel.

But it doesn't have to be that way. If you remember a few tips before you get started you'll be able to weave your way through all the hyperbole and get what you need and what you want. If you're ready to move on to a new carrier, here are five things you need to know.

Coverage, coverage, coverage

Any time we talk about carriers and their service, coverage gets mentioned. That's because it is the single most important thing you need to consider before you sign or buy anything. There is no value in paying for service that doesn't work for you.

Start by looking at online coverage maps. These are never 100% accurate (the providers even acknowledge this) but can be a good starting point. If you're shown in an area of full coverage and not on the fringe of service, that's a good sign. Also, be sure to use the selection tools of the map to check both voice and data coverage, as well as high-speed LTE data coverage versus lower speed network coverage.

Don't stop there. Ask your friends what service they use and if they're happy with it. Making sure you'll have good coverage is worth all the legwork. If nothing else, check and see if the service you're considering has some sort of money-back guarentee and try it yourself.

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Will your phone work?

Unless you plan on buying a new phone, be sure to check that your phone works with the carrier you're considering. Some phones, like an iPhone or a Google Nexus or Pixel, will work on any U.S. carrier. Others, especially models that are a few years old, only work on specific networks.

If you're considering an MVNO (Mobile Virtual Network Operator) you should see which of the Big Four (AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon) networks they use. If your phone was built to use the same network the MVNO is using, you're probably good to go as long as it's SIM unlocked. If not, things can get a little complicated.

Here's a chart to help get you started.

Carrier Name Network type 3G/HSPA+ freqencies LTE freqencies LTE bands AT&T UMTS/GSM/HSPA+/LTE 850, 1900 700 b/c, 1700 a/b/c/d/e, 1900 2, 4, 12, 17 Sprint CDMA/LTE 800, 1900 850, 1900 g, 2500 25, 26, 41 T-Mobile UMTS/GSM/HSPA+/LTE 1900, 1700/2100 (AWS) 700 a, 1700 d/e/f, 1900 2, 4, 12 Verizon CDMA/LTE 850, 1900 700 c, 1700 f, 1900 2, 4 13

You'll find the information about what frequencies and LTE bands your phone uses in the user manual, at the manufacturers website or other online resources. Keep in mind that some phones from different carriers may share a few frequencies or radio bands, that doesn't make them compatible. For example, a phone built for Verizon shares two LTE bands with AT&T's network. That doesn't mean it will work, even if an advanced user can fiddle with settings to get it to partially work in some places.

If you're not an enthusiast who knows or cares about frequencies and radio bands, don't worry. There's a great online resource that can give you the answers you need. Just enter the model of your phone and the carrier you are thinking of using and you'll find out if your phone works.

Will My Phone Work?

One last option is to just call the carrier and ask if your phone will work. You might be put on hold for a few minutes, but they can figure it out for you.

SIM unlocking

Your phone will probably need to be SIM unlocked to use it on a carrier it wasn't designed for. This is different from Jailbreaking or rooting, and is simply lifting the restriction some carriers put in place to keep you from using the phone on another network.

Many phones, like the Google Pixel or some iPhone models, are sold unlocked and designed to use on any GSM network (see the table above) and even Sprint or Verizon in a few cases. These phones are advertised as unlocked when you buy them.

Phones sold by Sprint and Verizon might also be SIM unlocked, especially if they're relatively new. Things can get a little complicated here, too, because even though they are unlocked they may have carrier restrictions in place so they won't work on other U.S. carriers. It's also a safe bet to say a phone designed to use on Sprint won't work on a carrier that uses Verizon's network and vice versa.

The good news is that it's simple to get a phone SIM unlocked. If your account is in good standing and the phone is paid in full, the carrier will unlock it. Give them a call and they will give you a code. Put in your new SIM card and you'll be able to enter the code when prompted.

If you bought the phone second hand or no longer have an active account with the carrier it was built for, you can turn to a third party. The process is the same, so all you need to do is find a reputable company and contact them. Most companies who provide this service are trustworthy, but take a few minutes to search their name on Google to read user reviews and make sure you're comfortable before you pay $20 or so for an unlock code.

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What plan should you buy?

There are a lot of different service plans available to fit most every user. You can buy service that is voice and text only, or go big and buy a plan with unlimited everything. The important thing is to get the plan that works best for both your usage and your wallet. That means you need to know how much data you need.

If you need unlimited data, you know it already. You want to stream video and music and browse the internet on your phone because it's a great tool to do those things, and Wi-Fi isn't the best option. All the Big Four carriers offer unlimited plans so you'll be able to find one on the network that works best for you. We've gone into each plan in-depth, and it's a great place to start.

Which unlimited plan should you buy: AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile or Verizon?

Most people don't need an unlimited plan. When you're shopping for plans that offer a fixed amount of data each month, you have a lot of choices. With a little homework, you can get a service plan that works great and saves you money.

You'll need to know how much data you use each month. Android has plenty of tools to help, and you can get the information you need from your current carrier, too. We have you covered and you can see all the ways to monitor and save data in one place.

These are all the ways you can save data and monitor your data usage

When you have a good handle on how much you need, you can be a wise shopper and get exactly what you need.


Your number goes with you

Once you've settled on what type of service you're going to buy and who you're going to buy it from, there's one last thing to remember: you can take your phone number with you no matter which company you get service from.

Don't let a company tell you that you can't keep your number. By law, you can.

This is called porting your number, and in most every case (some numbers created by VOIP services can't be ported) it belongs to you. And keeping it to use with your new service is easy.

Every company does things a little differently, but you'll need to know your phone number, your account number from your current carrier, and any PIN or password you use to access it. Your new carrier will ask for this information (yes, giving anyone a PIN or password is scary, but thats how it works) and they will handle the rest.

While your number is being ported you won't be able to use it. Generally, this will be done the same day but sometimes it can take longer. Your new carrier will be able to advise you and let you know how the number port is going if it takes longer than a few hours.

When the number porting is done, your new service will use the same phone number you and everyone else is used to. This makes it easier to switch for everyone. The number is assigned to your phone or new SIM card, but it's still yours and you can move it to another carrier anytime you like. Of course, you can always just get a new number if you like.

One last thing here: your voicemail and texts won't transfer with your number. If you are using the same phone things switch with no issues, but if you're changing phones, too, you'll need to back up anything important from your messages.

Switching carriers can be painless. Armed with this information you'll be able to breeze through the process and get the service you want at the best price.

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3 months ago

Common OnePlus 5 problems and how to fix them

12
OnePlus 5

Everyone's phone has a problem at some point.

When it comes to troubleshooting problems with a phone, there are so many variables it can be tough to figure out just what's going wrong. Even if the OnePlus 5 itself may be solid out of the box, the way you've set it up, used it and installed apps to it could combine to create problems you may not be able to diagnose and fix yourself.

We're here to help, and have rounded up some of the most common problems we've seen reported with the OnePlus 5 and how you can hopefully fix them. If you're having trouble with your OnePlus 5, this is a great place to start.

Screen the 'wrong' color

OnePlus 5 screen calibration

For as much as people talk about screen quality, we have to realize that different people see screen colors differently and also have varying preferences about how screens should look. OnePlus knows this, and gives you options for tweaking how the screen looks to you on the OnePlus 5. Head into Settings then Display and Screen calibration to change how the screen looks.

The quick toggles move you between default, sRGB and DCI-P3 — you can see how each one looks when you touch the toggle. Unless you're a display nerd you probably won't like the sRGB or DCI-P3 settings, but it's worth seeing for a moment how they feel to your eyes. More likely, you'll just want to tap "custom" and use the slider to choose a cooler or warmer screen temperature that's just how you want it.

Once you're done there, back out of the Screen calibration settings and take a look at both "Night mode" and "Reading mode," both of which help with eye strain when looking at your screen. Night mode makes your screen warmer at night, which many people find reduces eye strain and helps you get to sleep at night — you can set it manually or automatically, and choose how strong the effect is. Reading mode makes the screen a soft greyscale so it's easier to read text for a long period of time — it can be set manually or on a per-app basis.

Wakelocks causing bad battery life

OnePlus 5 battery screen

Most people — ourselves included — report strong battery life from the OnePlus 5, but if you take a look over at the OnePlus forums and our own AC forums you'll find numerous complaints about wakelocks causing the phone to burn through its 3300mAh capacity. If you feel your battery life is just fine, you have nothing to worry about; but if it's dying early in the day, it's time to investigate.

Take a look at your OnePlus 5's battery stats and go to the graph that shows its usage. You'll notice the "awake" bar — if it indicates the phone is consistently awake when it shouldn't be, then you may have a problem. But keep in mind that things like listening to music over Bluetooth will keep that bar solid, even though your screen isn't on and the phone isn't doing much else. So it isn't always indicative of a true problem.

Diagnosing what's causing the wakelock is tougher. A good bet is that if your phone is being kept awake by a single app, that app will also show up in the top few spots of the battery usage stats. If you see Facebook, for example, using up 10% of your battery, consider force stopping the app to see if when it restarts the problem persists. It's going to be a lot of trial and error, but if you follow the lead of the data you're given you'll be on the right track.

Wi-Fi and Bluetooth problems

Wi-Fi and Bluetooth issues are some of the toughest to diagnose because there are so many variables involved with them. As a general rule of thumb, here's the basic process of troubleshooting:

  1. Turn off the device you're attempting to connect to (if possible).
  2. Turn off Wi-Fi or Bluetooth on your phone.
  3. Turn back on the device you're connecting to, and see if they connect.
  4. If they still fail, forget the Wi-Fi network and re-authenticate, or unpair and repair the Bluetooth device.
    • To forget a Wi-Fi network, go into your Settings, press and hold on the network and tap "Forget network".
    • To unpair a Bluetooth device, go into your Settings, tap the gear icon next to the device and tap Forget.
  5. If problems persist, attempt to connect to the Wi-Fi or Bluetooth device with another phone if possible to isolate the issues.

Unfortunately Wi-Fi and Bluetooth can be exceptionally problematic. If the above steps don't help, you're going to have to continue troubleshooting methods relating to that specific device you're trying to connect with.

VoLTE or Wi-Fi calling not working

OnePlus 5 VoLTE and Wi-Fi calling

Both VoLTE (Voice over LTE) and Wi-Fi calling are great features that give you better call quality in just about every situation. But depending on your carrier, you may not see one, the other, or either of these features on the OnePlus 5. You can check for VoLTE and Wi-Fi by going into Settings then SIM & network and looking for the toggles for each under "Enhanced Communications." You'll also notice that by default the status bar will display a VoLTE or Wi-Fi icon.

If your carrier is supported, it should just work automatically.

If your phone doesn't seem to have VoLTE or Wi-Fi calling working, chances are it's not something you've done wrong or can change. In order to use these features, you have to be on a supported carrier — for example, T-Mobile in the U.S., but not AT&T.

OnePlus says it supports VoLTE on China Mobile, EE (UK), Reliance Jio (India) and T-Mobile (U.S.). Wi-Fi calling is supported on EE and T-Mobile. You may have success on other carriers, but so far this is the official list of support.

If the carrier offers these features and is also one OnePlus has chosen to support, things will just automatically work by simply having the SIM card in your phone.

Dialing emergency number causes reboot

You may have heard of an issue affecting some OnePlus 5 owners on some networks where calling emergency services resulted in the phone spontaneously rebooting. Thankfully through some quick action OnePlus and Qualcomm were able to work together and fix the problem with a software update.

That software update started rolling out to phones on July 21, and so long as you've been keeping your phone up to date this specific issue has been resolved without any further configuration on your end. OnePlus is confident that this has fixed the problem and you should have confidence in knowing your phone will be able to call emergency services like any other phone.

Seeing a 'jelly scrolling' effect

OnePlus 5

So much has been made of the so-called "jelly scrolling" effect on the OnePlus 5 that it's kind of hard to wade through the hyperbole and see what's actually going on. Many have described the issue as the interface not properly reacting to the weight of your finger's scrolling through long lists on the phone, leading to a jelly-like rebound surrounding your finger. But here's the thing: if you don't see any issues with scrolling on your OnePlus 5, don't go looking for them.

The official stance from OnePlus is that every OnePlus 5 is the same, and there isn't any difference between phone models or software builds causing issues with scrolling. So if you do notice the jelly scrolling effect, you're pretty much out of luck — you either have to live with it, or return the phone. Every phone is going to have some number of characteristics that don't work for everyone, and this "jelly scrolling" situation is one for the OnePlus 5.

How to factory reset the OnePlus 5

Smartphones have become amazingly advanced in the past five years, but that complexity has come with the downside that this software just isn't perfect. You can troubleshoot your problems all day and night, and sometimes you'll be in a situation where you just can't find a fix — and that means your real fix is to factory reset your phone and start it from scratch.

Yes, it stinks to wipe out your phone. But it also isn't great to keep living with problems that constantly bother you. Here's how to factory reset your OnePlus 5 and start over anew.

  1. Open the Settings.
  2. Scroll down and tap Backup & reset.
  3. Tap on Factory data reset.
  4. Tap the toggle for Erase internal storage.
  5. Tap Reset phone and confirm your unlock pattern if necessary.
  6. Tap Erase everything.

Let's hope when you set up your phone again it doesn't exhibit the same issues you were having before.

OnePlus 5T and OnePlus 5

OnePlus Amazon

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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3 months ago

Why KWGT is an essential tool for Android themers and widget lovers

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Nowhere is home screen customization more important than widgets.

A good widget can improve both the usefulness and the beauty of a home screen. A stylish weather widget can give you a heads-up before you roll out into a rainy day. A calendar widget can help keep you focused and productive throughout your day. A whimsical music widget can help you control your music and your mood, day or night. But what if the widget that came with your favorite apps are trash? What if you want widgets that look as good as they perform?

Well, that's when you bust out customized widgets with KWGT.

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3 months ago

MetroPCS Buyer's Guide: Everything you need to know

 Everything you need to know

Here's everything you need to know about the T-Mobile MVNO.

MetroPCS 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.

MetroPCS is owned by and leases coverage from T-Mobile. If you go with MetroPCS, that means you get T-Mobile's fast 4G LTE service, as well as unlimited data plans.

If you like T-Mobile's coverage, but you'd love a cheaper cell phone bill every month, then consider an MVNO. Here's what you need to know about MetroPCS.

Individual plans

MetroPCS offers simple talk, text, and data plans in four tiers. There are no annual contracts required and all plan pricing includes taxes and regulatory fees. Every plan comes with unlimited talk, text, and 2G data, as well as tethering (at 3G speeds), voicemail, Wi-Fi calling, and caller ID. Prices differ based on the amount of 4G LTE that comes with each plan.

Its base plan is $30 per month, which includes 1GB of 4G LTE. For $40/month, you get 6GB of 4G LTE data, and $50/month gets you "unlimited" 4G (up to 30GB). For $60/month, you get unlimited data and you get tethering at 4G LTE speeds.

Learn more

Family plans

MetroPCS offers discounts on multiple lines depending on your monthly data allotment for up to 5 lines.

Family plans start with the $40 6GB plan. You can add up to 4 lines, and you get $15 off each added line. So if you just do 2 lines, you get them for $65/month, with 6GB of 4G LTE each. That's a great deal, especially when you consider that most people only use about 3GB of LTE per month.

If you go with the $50 or $60 plans, you get a $10/month discount per line (including the original line), so long as all lines are on an unlimited plan.

Learn more

Best MetroPCS phones

Since MetroPCS is on T-Mobile's network, you can bring just about any smartphone over, but if you'd rather buy from MetroPCS, pickin's are somewhat slim for top-notch devices, though they do have Samsung's latest and greatest, as well as Apple's.

Samsung Galaxy S8

Samsung's latest flagship is the best Android phone around, with it's awesome camera (front and back!), smooth software experience, gorgeous infinity display, and lightning-fast fingerprint sensor, as well as an updated iris scanner and its Snapdragon 835 processor.

If you love Android and want to stick with it, then the Galaxy S8 should definitely be on your list. It's $729 from MetroPCS.

Learn more

iPhone 7 and 7 Plus

The latest iPhones bear Apple's fastest processors and some of the best smartphone cameras available. MetroPCS offers the iPhone 7 in 32GB and 128GB and the 7 Plus in 128GB. If you're a fan of Apple, then the iPhone 7 or 7 Plus are the best of the bunch. If you're into photography, you'll love the iPhone 7 Plus' dual camera setup, which makes for some cool effects with Portrait Mode.

Learn more

How to cancel MetroPCS

Since there are no annual contracts, you can just cancel whenever you want. Know that if you cancel in the middle of your month, you'll have to pay off the rest of the month and anything you might owe on any devices.

Call 1-888-863-8768 or *611 on your MetroPCS phone or head into the nearest MetroPCS store to talk to a customer service rep.

How to unlock a MetroPCS phone

To unlock your MetroPCS phone, the phone must have had active MetroPCS service for a minimum of 90 consecutive days from the phone's activation date. Most MetroPCS phones come with a Device Unlock app that lets you simply request a code. For all other phones from MetroPCS phones, you'll have to contact MetroPCS customer service either by phone (1-888-863-8768) or at a MetroPCS store.

Learn more

Finding another MVNO

If you like T-Mobile's service and are considering MetroPCS but want other options, then you might want to consider another MVNO that uses T-Mobile's network or one that uses multiple networks.

There are over 20 MVNOs that piggyback on T-Mobile's network, so you have your pick of the litter. Major players include Mint SIM, Straight Talk, and TracFone.

Learn more

Updated July 2017: Updated to reflect new 6GB plan pricing and new family plan discounts.

Alternative carriers (MVNOS)

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3 months ago

How to transfer data from a PlayStation 4 to a PlayStation 4 Pro

5

Moving your saved games, trophies, and more, is easy with PlayStation 4.

PlayStation 4 delivers dozens of excellent experiences, including access to VR games if you pony up for PlayStation VR. If you've just upgraded from a PlayStation 4 to a PlayStation 4 Pro, you might be trying to figure out how to move all of your saved games and other data. We have the details for you right here!

How to transfer your data

Sony has made transferring your data from one PlayStation 4 console to another pretty simple to do. You'll need both consoles, an internet connection, and a LAN cable in order to do it, but that's all. With the Software 4.0 update, transferring data is essentially built into your console.

Transferring your data means that your saves, trophies, downloaded games, folders, screenshots, and more all get copied from your original console over to your new PlayStation 4. This does not cover your passwords, on un-synced trophy data, so you'll want to ensure everything is up to date before starting your transfer.

  1. Check that both consoles have received the 4.0 software update.
  2. Turn on both consoles, and make sure they are connected to the same network using Wi-Fi or LAN cables.
  3. Sign into your PlayStation Network account on the new console.
  4. Select Transfer data to a new console at the bottom of your screen.
  5. Press and hold the PlayStation button on the controller connected to your old console until you hear a beep.
  6. Connect your consoles to the same Wi-Fi network or attach them using LAN cables.
  7. Select the data you want to transfer, and select Next.
  8. Activate your PlayStation 4 Pro as your primary console.

Questions?

Do you still have questions about how to transfer your data? Have you had issues with this method? Be sure to let us know about it in the comments below!

PlayStation 4

Amazon

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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3 months ago

How to get started with Samsung SmartThings

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Samsung SmartThings are a great addition if all you're looking to do is automate a few simple things around the house.

Did you know you can automate your home in about an hour? That's how long it took me to set up the Samsung SmartThings Hub and two additional SmartThings helpers. I set up an outlet and a multipurpose sensor, though you can take your pick from the litter of available SmartThings integrations. They're fun to bring home in an attempt to figure out the most tedious and genius automation formulas.

If you've recently found yourself venturing onto your own journey of installing Samsung SmartThings in your home, here's how to get started.

Getting started with Samsung SmartThings

First things first: before you can get started setting up Samsung SmartThings, ensure that you've got a SmartHub installed somewhere in your home. For this how-to, I'm connecting to the SmartThings via the Connect Home mesh Wi-Fi router system, which has built-in ZigBee compatibility. But you can also connect with the SmartThings Hub on its own, regardless of whatever Wi-Fi setup you have to power your household.

Next, you're going to want to have the Samsung Connect app installed and ready to go on your smartphone. It doesn't matter if you're using a Samsung smartphone either; I managed just fine with a Google Pixel XL.

Launch the app and plug in your Samsung account information; follow the in-app instructions if you see a prompt, or tap on the floating action button to manually activate the hub. You'll need to enter the "Welcome Code," which is available on a separate card located inside the box the hub came in. Then, connect the hub with the included power and network cables. Once the setup process is squared off, you'll see the device display a solid green light.

How to add a new SmartThings device

Adding a new SmartThings accessory to your network is easy to do as long as the SmartHub is all set up and ready to roar. Note that this walkthrough is for connecting your SmartThings through the Samsung Connect app — not the SmartThings app.

  1. Tap on the plus sign to manually add a device.
  2. Tap add device manually if the device doesn't automatically populate.
  3. Select your SmartThing.
  4. Follow the instructions on screen for your specific device.
  5. Tap Done once it's connected.

Now that you've connected your new SmartThings, tap on the device under My devices to customize it. If you're using a SmartThings outlet, for instance, you can see how much power it's drawing from this screen. Or if you're using the multipurpose sensor, you can check to see that the door you configured it for is closed.

Ready to get even more creative with automating your home? You can sync up some of your Samsung SmartThings with the Google Home or play with formulas at IFTTT so that you're receiving ample notifications for those motion sensors.

How to program Rules for you Samsung SmartThings

Samsung SmartThings come with their own automated abilities. You can program them out yourself in the Samsung Connect app.

  1. Launch the Samsung Connect app.
  2. Tap the menu button.
  3. Tap Rules.
  4. Tap Add rule.
  5. Enter a name for your rule and choose where you want to use it.
  6. Tap Add Condition.
  7. Tap through your choice of time of day, time period, or device condition.

You can tinker with individual formulas as you see fit. I personally chose to set up my SmartThings outlet to turn on the light at the exact time of day. From Monday to Thursday, a light comes on in the master bedroom at 9 PM to beckon me to begin my nighttime routine. But you can set it up any way you choose. All you need is a little imagination.

Questions?

Let us know in the comments below.

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3 months ago

Samsung Galaxy Note 7 fires, recall, cancellation, and rebirth: Everything you need to know

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Samsung Galaxy Note 7

Here's all the information you need about the Galaxy Note 7 fires and recall — the events that led to the phone being discontinued — and eventually reborn as the Galaxy Note Fan Edition.

After almost a year of twists and turns since September 2016, the Galaxy Note 7 story has (effectively) come to an end. As is well known by now, Samsung faced battery quality issues in the handset, leading to personal and property damage. In the original, pre-recall Note 7, hundreds of phones worldwide had critical failures.

Following initial reports of fires, the phone was recalled in the U.S. once, and Samsung launched exchange programs in other countries. But the new models experienced further issues, with replacement units catching on fire in early October 2016. This led to Samsung telling Note 7 owners to stop using the phones and return them, before permanently discontinuing the Note 7 worldwide. Shortly thereafter, the U.S. CPSC officially issued a second recall.

In July 2017, the Note 7 was reborn as the Galaxy Note Fan Edition, built from new, unused Note 7 components, paired with a smaller 3,200mAh battery that had passed Samsung's new battery testing standards.

Here's everything you need to know about this unprecedented situation.

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3 months ago

Allo: Everything you need to know

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Everything you need to know to get started with Google's messaging service.

Allo is a smart messaging service that relies on the Google Assistant to serve up contextual suggestions. Assistant lives on as a chatbot within Allo, and you can invoke it to offer recommendations on nearby points of interest, tell jokes, play games, and much more. It'll also suggest contextual replies in conversations, provide you with score updates for your sports teams, along with weather and news updates, and so on.

Interactions with Google Assistant are designed to be conversational in nature, and it'll also tell the best bad jokes. If you're just getting started with Google's new messaging service, we have you covered.

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