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1 month ago

AT&T brings free HBO to its cheaper unlimited plan

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AT&T is responding to T-Mobile's free Netflix with more free HBO.

AT&T is taking seriously the continued existential and financial threat that is T-Mobile. After the instigator carrier announced that starting September 12 it would offer free Netflix to all customers on its T-Mobile ONE plan with two or more lines, AT&T has fired back with a free HBO offer for its cheaper Unlimited Choice plan.

AT&T began offering free HBO in April to its customers on the more expensive Unlimited Plus package — Choice limits download speeds to 3Mbps and streaming quality to 480p — so this isn't a new development, but the addition of the popular channel certainly adds value to the less expensive unlimited option. A single line of Unlimited Choice starts at $60 while Unlimited Plus is $90 for the first line.

Which unlimited plan should you buy?

As with the previous offer, Unlimited Choice customers now get a $25 credit towards DirecTV Now, AT&T's over-the-top TV streaming service, which effectively reduces the cheapest $35 DirectTV Now offering to $10 per month.

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AT&T has had a difficult time winning customers since it moved over to unlimited in February in response to T-Mobile and Verizon. While the company added 2.8 million phone subscribers in the previous quarter, it lost nearly 90,000 high-value postpaid customers — the ones that subscribe to unlimited plans — which dragged down the mostly-positive results. AT&T is in the final stages of buying HBO parent company, Time Warner, which is currently making its way through regulatory approval in the U.S.

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1 month ago

Should you buy a Galaxy Note 8 unlocked or from a carrier?

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The Note 8 will be available unlocked on day one. But should you get it from Samsung directly, or go with a carrier option?

For the first time ever, Samsung will be offering its latest flagship, the Note 8, in unlocked and carrier versions from day one. That's the good news. The bad news is that it's still really difficult to decide whether to buy the phone directly from Samsung or to take advantage of the myriad deals from one of the many carriers selling the phone starting September 15.

Let's break it down.

Buying unlocked

The unlocked Note 8 is available directly from Samsung for $930, and right now only in Midnight Black. The unlocked model is compatible with all four major U.S. carriers, including the notoriously device-fickle Verizon and Sprint, and (for a limited time) it comes with a bunch of great accessories, including a Gear 360 headset and controller (the new Note 8-compatible version) and a bundle of a 256GB microSD card and convertible wireless charger. The phone itself is expensive, yes, but it comes with $400+ worth of add-ons, which is nice.

The unlocked model has a couple other advantages: it doesn't come with any carrier bloatware, even when a SIM card is installed; and it is updated directly from Samsung. While that hasn't proved to be an advantage in the past, with the S8 Samsung has proven to be much more consistent with its updates than its unlocked S7 line, which took months longer to be updated to Nougat than its carrier equivalents.

Samsung also offers a pretty great insurance policy where, for $11.99 per month, you get in-person support, a $99 deductible on all major repairs, and free phone troubleshooting for the life of your device. The first two months are free, too.

Finally, the unlocked Note 8 is available with very attractive financing rates: $38.75 per month for 24 months through Samsung's own financing partner, TD Bank, and there's no interest if the phone is paid off within two years. Samsung, at least for the foreseeable future, is also offering trade-in values of up to $300 depending on the phone, which can bring down the price of the Note 8 by a considerable margin.

See at Samsung

Reasons not to buy unlocked

There are two (and a half) reasons you'd want to hold off buying an unlocked Note 8:

  • You want a color that isn't Midnight Black.
  • You want to avail yourself of the many carrier deals that are being offered, or will be offered in the future.
  • (You want to take advantage of carrier-related optimizations such as VoLTE or VoWiFi, which aren't available with every carrier).

Buying from a carrier

Every U.S. carrier has a different way of selling their flagship phones, and the Note 8, being one of the most expensive devices around, is being used as a test bed for a variety of deals.

As expected, T-Mobile and Sprint are great options for leasing the phone with the goal of paying less in the long run — T-Mobile, for instance, offers a BOGO deal when signing up for a second line; Sprint is offering new customers the phone for half off when signing up for an unlimited plan.

The carriers are also offering the same great accessory bundle as Samsung itself, which isn't surprising, but some, like Verizon, are going even further, incentivizing users to buy a Gear S3 for $200 off.

The carriers, surprisingly, have been better at rolling out updates to the Galaxy S7 and S8 than Samsung itself over the past couple of years, with regular security updates and relatively fast platform updates once they're available. Though the carriers come with baggage of their own in the form of bloatware, they're (mostly) easy to disable or uninstall, and much of it doesn't affect the performance of the phone.

Most carriers offer their own trade-in and insurance plans, mainly through the same vendors, but they're not quite as generous as Samsung's.

Finally, the carriers are the only ones offering the Orchid Gray version of the Note 8 in the U.S., which isn't necessarily the nicest color, but it's a fine alternative to Midnight Black.

Where to buy the Galaxy Note 8

Reasons not to buy from a carrier

There are three reasons not to buy a Note 8 from a carrier:

  • You don't want to deal with bloatware.
  • You travel a lot and need an unlocked phone for overseas networks.
  • You want Samsung's Premium Care support.

Don't go to a carrier just to get financing — there are better ways


Your thoughts

If you're buying a Galaxy Note 8, where would you get one? You can, of course, buy a carrier model from Best Buy or an unlocked version from Amazon, but I've tried to keep things simple with this guide.

Samsung Galaxy Note 8

Verizon AT&T T-Mobile Sprint Best Buy

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1 month ago

Huawei Mate 10 lock screen video shows pretty colors, 2:1 aspect ratio

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Huawei Mate 10 lock screen

Extra-tall Huawei flagship will focus on 'smart colors' on its lock screen.

We're still just over a month away from the official launch of the Huawei Mate 10, but the company is continuing to trickle out details of the upcoming flagship. Today we've got an early look at the Mate 10's lock screen in the form of the video below, which is intended to show the new 'smart color selection' feature for text on the lock screen. In essence, it looks like EMUI 6 will intelligently select highlight colors from your lock screen wallpaper and apply them to the date, time and other information on the display.

But there's more than just a sneak preview of one (very specific) area of EMUI 6 lurking here. The resolution of the video confirms something we've long suspected of the device — it'll ship with an extra-tall 2:1 (or 18:9, if you prefer) aspect ratio, matching the proportions of the LG G6 and V30, among others. The native resolution is 1080x2160, suggesting Huawei may stick at a Full HD-like resolution for the regular Mate 10. (The higher-specced Mate 10 Pro, which we're expecting to take the lead in Europe, is rumored to feature a Quad HD+ panel with a resolution of 1440x2880.)

Huawei Consumer Business Group CEO Richard Yu recently teased both Mate 10 variants at IFA 2017 in Berlin, confirming that they'd be the first phone with the new AI-equipped Kirin 970 CPU, and a "full screen" display.

You'll find the full video below, and we'll be in Munich, Germany for the official Huawei Mate 10 launch event in October 26.

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1 month ago

Galaxy Note 8 makes its debut in India for ₹67,900

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The Galaxy Note 8 will go on sale later this month.

Just a few short weeks after its global unveil, Samsung is launching the Galaxy Note 8 in India. The Galaxy S8 series was very well-received in the country, and there's a healthy interest in the Galaxy Note line as well, which Samsung is eager to cater to.

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1 month ago

ASUS Zenfone 4 Max now available in Canada and the U.S.

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ASUS's latest flagship is now available to purchase in Canada and the U.S.

ASUS announced its Zenfone 4 range last month, and began releasing the devices in Asian markets. North American sales tend to lag a few months behind these initial releases — the Zenfone 3 Deluxe did not come to the States until four months after releasing in other markets — but it seems ASUS is doing things differently this year.

In a press release, ASUS says that the Zenfone 4 Max is now available to purchase at select Canadian and U.S. retailers. Said retailers seem to only include Amazon and B&H Photo. Both of these come with full warranty support, which is nice for prospective buyers. No word on when or if the standard Zenfone 4, Zenfone 4 Pro, Zenfone 4 Selfie, or Zenfone 4 Max Pro will become available in Canada or the U.S.

The Zenfone 4 Max's claim to fame is its 5000 mAh battery, and the ability to act as a battery bank for other devices. The phone uses Micro-USB instead of USB-C, so users will need an on-the-go adapter to actually use the reverse charging feature. There are also two rear cameras, a feature not seen at the $200 price range. The phone uses a Qualcomm Snapdragon 430 processor, 3GB of RAM, 32GB of internal storage (expandable via microSD), and features full compatibility with GSM carriers in the U.S. and Canada such as T-Mobile, AT&T, Rogers, and TELUS. The device features Android 7.1.1 Nougat with ASUS's newer, less bloated version of ZenUI on top. ASU expects to update the Zenfone 3 and 4 ranges to Android 8.0 Oreo by the middle of 2018.

Are you interested in the Zenfone 4 Max? Let us know down below!

See at Amazon

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1 month ago

Software magic brings HDR support to the Pixel and Pixel XL

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The first generation Pixel phones now include support for YouTube HDR.

YouTube began supporting HDR playback in late 2016, but there were not compatible smartphones to play back the HDR content. Since that time, the LG G6, Galaxy S8, Sony Xperia XZ Premium, LG V30 and Note 8 have all been released or announced with hardware-based HDR support. Now, it looks like last year's Pixel phones will be joining the party.

Android Police reports that the Pixel and Pixel XL now use software-based decoding in order to process HDR content, at least from YouTube. This leaves off other services like Netflix, which has been adding more and more HDR content lately.

Hardware-based decoding would perform better (and work with other services), but software-based decoding is a good way to support current devices. Android Police notes the next generation Pixel devices will include hardware-based HDR decoding, so those would presumably work with Netflix and other services. YouTube doesn't have a ton of HDR content, but there is a channel dedicated to HDR for those with the right hardware.

Have you tried YouTube HDR? Let us know down below!

Google Pixel + Pixel XL

Google Store Verizon

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1 month ago

Deal: Get the Moto E4 on Verizon for only $40

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The Moto E4 is available to Verizon pre-paid customers for only $40.

As smartphones become more and more commoditized, it's become entirely possible to get a good device without spending a whole lot of money. In this context, "a whole lot of money" probably means more than $40.

Right now, Amazon has the Moto E4 — though locked to Verizon — for only $40. Daniel Bader said in his review of the phone that "at $70 on Verizon's prepaid service, it's an absolute steal." At almost half the price, this means the phone is almost twice an absolute steal. Double the steals, double the fun.

The specs on the Moto E4 won't set the world on fire, but they'll be plenty for most people. It includes a Qualcomm Snapdragon 425, 2GB of RAM, 16GB of internal storage (expandable via micro-SD), a removable 2800mAh battery, a Micro-USB port and a 5-inch 720p display.

The rear camera is 8MP while the front camera is 5MP. It won't compete with devices like the Pixel but it does just fine in daylight. There's also a fingerprint sensor, a rarity on devices at this price range. The phone runs Android 7.1 Nougat, with very minimal customizations on top. Motorola has not said when or if the Moto E4 will be updated to Android 8.0 oreo.

At $40 — or heck, the $45 full price on Amazon — the Moto E4 makes for a compelling backup device or a good-enough phone for companies that need to outfit employees with Verizon-compatible phones.

Are you interested in picking up the Moto E4? Let us know down below!

See at Amazon

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1 month ago

Xiaomi Mi Note 3 is a larger Mi 6 that's powered by the Snapdragon 660

4

The Mi Note 3 is a China-exclusive model with several new firsts.

In addition to the bezel-less Mi Mix 2, Xiaomi launched the latest phone in the Mi Note series. The first two models in the Mi Note series featured 5.7 inch display — with last year's variant featuring dual curved screens — but with the Mi Note 3, the company is taking a different approach. The phone is a larger variant of the Mi 6, with the overall design unchanged.

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1 month ago

BlackBerry Priv isn't being upgraded to Android Nougat

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BlackBerry's first Android phone isn't getting updated past Marshmallow.

Plenty of praise was lavished on BlackBerry's first Android phone, the Priv, when it debuted in late 2015. In fact, in his review, Russell Holly called it one of the best phones of that year:

This is absolutely one of the best phones to be released this year, and while BlackBerry still has to demonstrate it can keep its promises when it comes to software updates this is already an exceptional experience. It's only going to get better from here.

That other part about how BlackBerry still has to prove it can follow through with software updates? Yeah, that's why we're here today.

In a podcast with UTB Blogs lat week, BlackBerry GM Alex Thurber mentioned that the Priv wouldn't be upgraded from Marshmallow to Nougat.

The phone debuted with Android 5.1.1 Lollipop in November 2015, and was upgraded to Marshmallow the following April, but that is where it will stay. Many people, given BlackBerry's exceptional record in keeping the Priv and its other Android-based phones updated with security patches, thought Nougat was an inevitability for the Priv, but that's not the case.

According to Thurber, it's very difficult getting all the vendors on board for such a big update; Qualcomm has famously made it difficult for the Snapdragon 808 and 810 series to receive updates past Marshmallow (the Priv runs on a Snapdragon 808).

Thurber also cast doubt on whether the DTEK50 and DTEK60 would receive updates past Marshmallow, too, saying they were reference products by TCL to test the waters for what would inevitably be the KEYone, which will be upgraded to Oreo after launching with Nougat earlier this year.

Priv owners will obviously be disappointed with this news, but it's not surprising; it likely doesn't have the install base needed to really incentivize such a huge engineering effort, and BlackBerry has since moved on from its hardware ambitions. At the same time, given that the Priv is such a security-focused handset, and there were plenty of improvements to the OS with Nougat, it's going to be difficult to recommend the phone, despite the continuation of security updates for the foreseeable future.

What are your thoughts on the Priv's final stand? Anyone still happily using the device, or have you since upgraded to the KEYone?

More: BlackBerry KEYone review

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1 month ago

Xiaomi Mi Mix 2 preview: Ready for primetime

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Xiaomi Mi Mix 2

Xiaomi's bezel-less phone is ready to take on the LG V30 and the Galaxy Note 8.

Xiaomi's Mi Mix was one of the most innovative products of 2016, but the main drawback with the phone was its availability. With the Mi Mix 2, Xiaomi is looking to change all that. The overall design of the phone is based on its predecessor, but Xiaomi made a few key changes that make the Mi Mix 2 a much better product.

Xiaomi retained the ultrasonic proximity sensor and the camera sensor at the bottom, but it made a few tweaks in other areas — the piezoelectric acoustic driver has been switched out for a standard earpiece, which sits in a narrow slit at the top of the phone. Xiaomi implemented the change after getting feedback from Mi Mix users that the piezoelectric driver wasn't suitable for calls.

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1 month ago

Samsung Galaxy S8 Active review: Come for the ruggedness, stay for the battery

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Samsung Galaxy S8 Active

Samsung's 'Active' line continues to carve out its own little niche for fans of high-end rugged phones.

The quick take

Don't think of the Galaxy S8 Active as a legitimate improvement over the standard GS8 — because it isn't. Think of this as the best rugged phone choice for those who want something really tough but don't want to compromise on performance, display, camera or other features. Yes, it has a massive improvement in battery life, but in the name of sturdiness, it also loses all of the design that makes the Galaxy S8 so desirable in the first place.

The Good

  • Complete Galaxy S8 experience
  • Great battery life
  • Can take a beating
  • 'Shatter-resistant' screen
  • Flat screen can be preferable

The Bad

  • Too big and heavy for most people
  • No particular differentiation outside of casing
  • More expensive than standard GS8
  • Screen more susceptible to scratches
  • Exclusive to AT&T (for now)

See at AT&T

Samsung Galaxy S8 Active

The internals

Tech Specs

Category Spec Operating system Android 7.0 Nougat Display 5.8-inch Super AMOLED, 2560 x 1440 (506 ppi)
Gorilla Glass 5
Shatter-resistant Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 Storage 64GB (UFS 2.1) Expandable microSD card RAM 4GB Rear camera 12MP Dual Pixel, 1.4-micron pixels, f/1.7, OIS Front camera 8MP, f/1.7, auto focus Battery 4000mAh Charging USB-C
Fast charging
Fast wireless charging Connectivity Wi-Fi 802.11ac MIMO
Bluetooth 5.1
NFC, GPS, Glonass, Galileo
Wi-Fi Calling, HD Voice, Video calling LTE Bands 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 12, 20, 28, 29, 30, 38, 39, 40, 41, 66 Water resistance IP68 Security Fingerprint sensor
Iris scanning Dimensions 151.89 x 74.93 x 9.91 mm
208.09 g Colors Meteor Grey, Titanium Gold

Samsung Galaxy S8 Active

Every bit a GS8

Galaxy S8 Active Things you'll love

The thing you'll love most about the Galaxy S8 Active is that it's simply a Galaxy S8 at its core. Every spec, every feature and every component is the same. That means you're getting great performance, a whole boatload of software features and a camera that's still in the conversation with the best in the industry. It's water- and dust-resistant, of course, but that doesn't come at the cost of any fewer ports — you still get a headphone jack and flap-less USB-C connector. You also get to look at a beautiful Super AMOLED display with great brightness, even outdoors, which I'd expect you'd want for a phone that's this rugged.

The GS8 Active even keeps components like wireless charging, which you sometimes expect to lose with such a thick outer casing. That package of specs and features is a far shout from what you expect to get in most "rugged" style phones.

There is one spec change, though: the battery is now 4000mAh, a full 1000 larger than the Galaxy S8 and even 500 larger than the Galaxy S8+. As you'd expect, this offers excellent battery life. I ended most days with roughly 20-30% battery remaining, despite taking no measures throughout the day to limit usage or save precious capacity. That's awesome when you compare it to the standard Galaxy S8, which offers acceptable battery life but not a whole lot of runway for heavier days.

Samsung is also touting one other differentiator, which ties right into the "Active" name, and that's a "shatter-resistant" screen. You can, apparently, drop the phone from five feet onto a hard surface and have a guarantee that it won't shatter. That's pretty neat.

Samsung Galaxy S8 Active

Not for everyone

Galaxy S8 Active Things you'll hate

In terms of actually using the Galaxy S8 Active every day, there isn't a whole lot to dislike. The one real downside of the GS8 Active is its overall size. It's wider, taller, thicker and heavier than the standard version — and not subtly, but dramatically. It's over 10 grams heavier than the Galaxy Note 8, and its size kind of slots in between the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+ — that's big, considering its screen size is the same as the GS8.

That size bump just makes the Galaxy S8 Active tougher to hold and use, even compared to the slippery Galaxy S8. It also isn't all that good looking when you set it alongside the sleek and smooth standard version.

But there's also one thing you can't see that you may find spoils your experience. That "shatter-resistant" screen rating is accomplished by putting a special film on top of the standard Gorilla Glass 5 screen covering. Similarly to what we saw on the Moto Z2 Force, this covering is extra susceptible to scratches in daily use — it's not scratching the glass, but instead the plastic on top. This is one of the trade-offs necessary when you have a screen that won't shatter when it's impacted.

The other big downside of the Galaxy S8 Active is its initial exclusivity to AT&T. Not only does that limit its availability to one of four major carriers — to say nothing of international availability — but it also means you get the typical AT&T treatment on the phone. That means roughly 10 pre-installed bloatware apps that you don't want or need (thankfully you can disable or uninstall most of it), and some superfluous changes to the software for no apparent reason. Thankfully the GS8 Active isn't supposed to be exclusive to the carrier forever — but we don't know when that period will end.

Whether by AT&T's doing or not, the Galaxy S8 Active is also quite expensive. At $849, it's $100 more than a standard GS8 and the same price as the Galaxy S8+. If you choose to buy the GS8 or GS8+ unlocked, you'll save roughly $175 with the former and $50 with the latter. That's a big premium to pay for a phone that is very much the same in terms of overall experience and features.

Samsung Galaxy S8 Active and Galaxy S8

Get it for rugged, not for battery

Galaxy S8 Active Should you buy it?

Power users who are always hunting for the biggest possible battery will undoubtedly be drawn to the idea of a high-end phone like the Galaxy S8 with an extra-large 4000mAh battery. And yes, the Galaxy S8 Active provides that — it is, in terms of features, software and performance, every bit the same as a standard Galaxy S8. But in order to get that 4000mAh battery, you have to give up quite a bit of what makes the standard Galaxy S8 so appealing — primarily, its entire hardware design.

The battery improvement is a big plus; but the design is an even bigger minus.

The Galaxy S8 Active is massively heavier and larger in every dimension than the Galaxy S8, and even loses its hallmark curved glass screen. That last part may also seem like a bonus — but the added width and thickness makes up for it in terms of poor ergonomics. With its super-thick and tough exterior, the Galaxy S8 Active doesn't look, or more importantly feel, like a Galaxy S8 anymore — and that is, after all, a big chunk of what you're paying for when you buy one.

No, I wouldn't recommend someone who wants a Galaxy S8 consider a Galaxy S8 Active just for the battery. The downsides of its size, shape, design and price just aren't worth it. But I would absolutely recommend this phone to someone who must have a "rugged" phone to survive the daily demands of their life or job, and doesn't want to compromise in terms of the software, features, camera or experience of the phone in the process.

See at AT&T

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1 month ago

Xiaomi Mi Mix 2 is coming to India 'very soon'

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Xiaomi may launch the Mi Mix 2 sometime next month in India.

Xiaomi's bezel-less Mi Mix 2 is now official, and the company is looking to launch the device in global markets. With India being the second-largest market for the Chinese manufacturer, customers in the country looking to get their hands on the phone won't have to wait a whole lot.

In an interview, Xiaomi global SVP Xiang Wang stated that the Mi Mix 2 will be launching in India "very soon." Wang didn't specify a timeline for the launch, only that the timing is a key factor.

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1 month ago

Xiaomi Mi Mix 2: In pictures

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Xiaomi Mi Mix 2

The Mi Mix 2 looks gorgeous from all angles.

The Mi Mix 2 is now official, and there's plenty to like about the device. The phone builds on the bezel-less design of last year's Mi Mix, with Xiaomi reducing the screen size to make the phone more conducive to one-handed usage. The Mi Mix 2 is going to be one of the best phones of the year, at least in markets it'll be on sale. Take a look at what's on offer:

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1 month ago

Xiaomi's $500 Mi Mix 2 is now official with razor-thin bezels, global LTE bands

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Xiaomi will make the Mi Mix 2 available in global markets.

Xiaomi took the smartphone segment by surprise with the Mi Mix last year, and this year's offering builds on that bezel-less foundation. The Mi Mix 2 features a similar design as its predecessor, and a smaller 5.99-inch screen means you'll be able to use the phone one-handed without any issues. A marquee feature this time around is the inclusion of global LTE bands, which makes the Mi Mix 2 compatible with carriers around the world.

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1 month ago

Best Google Pixel Deals for September 2017

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What is the best deal you can get on a Google Pixel?

When shopping for a new gadget, like the Google Pixel and Pixel XL, you should be looking for the best possible deal available. But hunting them down can be difficult since most retailers change them weekly — but don't worry, we've got you covered. Whether you are looking to save finance your purchase, get some freebies with it, or try and save some money on the purchase there are a few places to check out.

Let's take a look at some of the best deals on Google's Pixel and Pixel XL that are available right now.

Google Pixel

Want to pick up the smaller of the two Pixels but avoid paying full price? Retailers are offering a variety of deals on these phones as Google continues its marketing push, and some will offer discounts in the future and others will include some extras at no cost. If you want to check out the best deals, these are the ones you want to look at.


Google Pixel XL

If you are looking for the larger version, you'll want to check out the deals on the Pixel XL. Odds are that most of the times retailers will offer the same deals on the Pixel and Pixel XL in terms of discounts or freebies, but there may be some specific sales that offer incentives to go bigger. Here are some of the best deals that you can find right now on the Pixel XL.


Other deals

As time passes you'll start to see these appear on other sites like eBay and Swappa, offering great deals on second-hand units. Some people may turn around and sell theirs at launch for a profit, but if you are looking to save you'll have to wait a bit longer.

Have you noticed any other deals on the Pixel or Pixel XL? If so, be sure to drop a line in the comments letting us know where the deal is and why other people may be interested.

Google Pixel + Pixel XL

Google Store Verizon

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