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1 month ago

Moto G5S leak shows off all-metallic chassis and three color options

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Motorola is getting ready to launch an upgraded variant of the Moto G5.

Motorola's leaked roadmap for 2017 revealed the existence of a Moto G5 variant dubbed the G5S, and we're now getting a first look at the device courtesy of Android Authority. The publication got a hold of press renders of the upcoming phone from a "trusted source familiar with Lenovo's plans," showing off the color options on offer.

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1 month ago

OnePlus 5 teaser reveals four color variants, including a unicorn option

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The OnePlus 5 could be available in black, unicorn, red, and gold color options at launch.

As we get closer to the launch of the OnePlus 5, the company is teasing additional details about its upcoming flagship. The latest tweet suggests the phone will be offered in four color options, including a multicolored unicorn hue:

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2 months ago

LG launches the X Venture, an affordable active smartphone

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Bear Gryll-types and the accident prone: if the Galaxy Active is too much for you, LG's offering a cheaper alternative.

Looking for a rugged device that won't break the bank? LG wants you to consider its second-generation X Venture smartphone. It's made for people who are active and it's cheap enough that, if you're on AT&T, you could probably grab one as a backup simply for adventurous weekends.

The LG X Venture features a 5.2-inch Full HD In-Cell touch display. It runs Android 7.0 Nougat and features IP68 water and dust resistance, a front-facing fingerprint sensor embedded into a physical Home button along with two other physical navigation keys, and a whopping 4100mAh battery. It also comes with a 16-megapixel rear-facing camera and a 5-megapixel wide-angle front-facing camera.

Its other specifications may leave a bit to be desired, however, especially if you're eager for flagship-worthy specs. The X Venture is powered by a low-end Snapdragon 435 processor and 2GB of RAM, though it should be enough for traversing the trails and slogging through mud pits—if that's your thing. The LG X Venture is an AT&T exclusive for now.

The trickling news of LG's rugged smartphone appears to be perfectly timed with the alleged leaks of Samsung's Galaxy S8 Active hitting the scene. It's hard to ignore the similarities, too; Not only is the X Venture also an AT&T exclusive, but the X Venture is also equipped with a QuickButton on the side, which is similar to the Galaxy Active's own quick launch hardware button. LG's can be customized to launch your favorite app, too.

This particular smartphone is much cheaper, however. Rather than charge full price for a decidedly full featured phone, the LG Venture X is well-suited as a secondary device with its $260 price tag. It'll be available exclusively at AT&T beginning May 26.

See at AT&T

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2 months ago

Nokia 9 leak shows off dual cameras, 5.3-inch QHD display, Snapdragon 835

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An early look at the Nokia 9 shows off a device with a lot of potential.

Nokia's foray into the world of Android started off with three entry-level offerings — the Nokia 3, Nokia 5, and Nokia 6 — with the company stating that it would launch high-end phones at a later date. The Nokia 9 is likely to be the first of the premium phones, and a recent leak out of FrAndroid gives us a first look at the design and possible specs.

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2 months ago

Lenovo rep confirms 3000mAh battery for the Moto Z2 Play

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Lenovo is trading battery life for a sleeker phone.

It's looking more and more likely that the Moto Z2 Play will feature a smaller battery than its predecessor. A leak from earlier this month revealed that the phone will come with a 3000mAh battery, and a recent tweet by a Lenovo representative confirms the change:

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2 months ago

More Android phones are using encryption and lock screen security than ever before

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Galaxy S7 lock pattern

An increasing number of people are making the right decisions.

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We like to harp on security here from time to time, but it's for good reason. Many often have a false sense of just how secure their private data is on their devices — that is, if they're thinking about it at all. Your average smartphone user just wants to access the apps and people they care about, and not worry about security.

That's why it was extremely encouraging to hear some of the security metrics announced at Google I/O 2017. For devices running Android Nougat, roughly 80% of users are running them fully encrypted. At the same time, about 70% of Nougat devices are using a secure lock screen of some form.

Android encryption adoptionAndroid lock screen adoption

That 80% encryption number isn't amazingly surprising when you remember that Nougat has full-device encryption turned on by default, but that number also includes devices that were upgraded from Marshmallow, which didn't have default encryption. Devices running on Marshmallow have a device encryption rate of just 25%, though, so this is a massive improvement. And the best part about Google's insistence on default encryption is that eventually older devices will be replaced by those running Nougat or later out of the box, meaning this encryption rate could get very close to 100%.

The default settings are immensely important.

Full-device encryption is particularly effective when paired with a secure lock screen, and Google's metrics showing 70% adoption in this regard definitely needs some work. It's a small increase from the roughly 60% secure lock screen rate of Marshmallow phones but a decent jump from the sub-50% rate of devices running Lollipop. The most interesting aspect of these numbers to my eyes is that having a fingerprint sensor on the device doesn't signal a very large increase in adoption — perhaps just a five percentage point jump. On one hand it's great to see people using secured lock screens even when they don't have something as convenient as a fingerprint sensor, but then again I'd expect the simplicity of that sensor to help adoption more than these numbers show.

The trend is heading in the right direction in both of these metrics, and that's a great sign despite the fact that secure lock screens show a slower growth rate. The closer we get both of these numbers to 100%, the better.

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2 months ago

Android Go is the smartest thing Google can do to win the next billion smartphone users

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Android Go isn't a big deal, and that makes it an incredibly powerful and meaningful change for Android users everywhere.

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You may know this well-known idiom: fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me. Such a phrase can be applied to many circumstances, but it also works in the context of Google's salvo into the world of unifying the experience of budget smartphones, Android One.

One is the loneliest number

Android One was unveiled in 2014 as a way for hardware manufacturers to spend less time building custom software, and assigning expensive engineers to update that software, by putting the onus on Google to keep those phones updated. But Android One floundered soon after its launch, since the Indian companies Google partnered with on the project didn't put nearly as much marketing muscle behind those phones as the ones they could profitably customize to their hearts' content.

By the time Google fixed Android One's biggest problems, its partners were recreating its best features for less money.

And while Google rectified the problem a year later with the second generation of Android One devices, by that time the likes of Xiaomi, Vivo, Oppo and Lenovo were mimicking the positive aspects of Google's enterprise while simultaneously undercutting them on the hardware, leaving Android One to flounder. It had some success in countries like Turkey, Japan, Indonesia and Portugal, but by the end of 2016 it was clear Google's partners were on the verge of abandoning their low-cost Android One strategy. Google learned that, especially in the low-end smartphone space, hardware vendors want Android, not Google's Android, spurned by the very companies it wooed just a couple years earlier.

Along comes Go

Now we're hearing about Android Go, and how it's also going to revolutionize the Android experience for people who are just about to buy their first smartphone, or have limited budgets in developing regions where their phone is perhaps their only computer. And while we've heard this before, Google's latest salvo for "the next billion" actually makes a lot of sense. Here's how it breaks down:

  • Android O and beyond will be optimized for devices with 1GB of RAM and under. These days, that's a number that often gets derided as too little, especially for a memory-hungry OS like Android, but the foundations have been in place since Project Svelte debuted back in 2012 with Jelly Bean. Google is taking things even further by separating parts of the operating system that can be pared down. At this point, Android — Google's Android — is as lean as it's ever been, and with advancements in battery optimization and app caching, Android O should run well on almost any piece of hardware.
  • Google is optimizing its own apps — YouTube, Gboard, Chrome — to use as little mobile data as possible. Chrome will use its Data Saver feature by default. YouTube will preview videos before using expensive mobile bandwidth. And Gboard, Google's excellent virtual keyboard, has been updated to support multiple languages and transliteration.
  • When a device ships with Android Go, Google Play will automatically populate apps that have been "lightened" — YouTube Go, Facebook Lite — to use less data. Apps installed on the phone will also remain in a compressed state and the OS won't continually ask for "updates," potentially saving battery life. That doesn't mean that the Play Store will be limited, though: while Google will highlight lightweight apps on the Play Store's home page, the entire app catalog will be available to download.

All of these together will allow Google to make any phone, not just those from manufacturers it partners with, to work really well on limited memory without necessarily forcing those vendors to use a "stock" version of Android that may not allow for its well-regarded customizations. Yes, in certain countries, customized versions of Android are preferred to what we know as vanilla Android.

The next billion

This is a platitude that we hear all the time: there are seven and a half billion people in the world, and with two billion active Android devices, there are hundreds of millions of others in countries like India, Indonesia, Brazil, Turkey, Philippines and Cambodia, to name a few, that, frankly, don't have good experiences when they spend $50 to $100 on an Android device.

Android Go is about more than controlling software updates. It's about making Android leaner and more efficient for everyone.

But Android Go isn't about Google controlling updates, nor is it about offering a separate version of Android that needs to be maintained and continually optimized year over year. As we've learned since Android debuted, Google has a tendency to debut and support features for a brief time only to abandon them completely for something shinier. To put Android Go in a position to succeed, Google made the inspired decision to merely integrate it into its general Android plan. It is so simple, so uninteresting that it has a much better chance of success.

That's because, by default, when a company builds a phone with 1GB of RAM or less, Android Go will just be the default state; the lighter configuration of Google's first party apps will be installed, and the version of the Google Play Store users see will automatically highlight low-bandwidth apps.

But the end result will be an Android experience that will seamlessly cause fewer performance hiccups, and fewer accidental data cap overages. It may also improve the reputation of low-cost devices since, even though they are getting better over the years, there is still a stigma around using a phone with low memory.

For the rest

Android O will integrate a number of memory and battery usage improvements into its core, available to phones with 1GB and 6GB of RAM alike. That's the beauty of the enterprise — it just works.

If OnePlus or Samsung can't make Android smooth with 4GB of 6GB of RAM, it's clear that there's more work to be done.

But we've heard this before, and RAM usage continues to dog Android's reputation. Companies like OnePlus and Samsung have been accused of poor memory management, despite outfitting their flagships with plenty of memory. From errant apps to poor governor management, Google can only do so much to make Android a smooth and problem-free experience. Once the code is in the hands of external vendors, all bets are off.

So once again, Google is just trying to make things a little bit better for everyone. Android is already pretty good at scaling, but it could always be better. Usually when we talk about scaling, though, we talk about it scaling up — for better screens, faster CPUs and more powerful GPUs — not down. In 2017, when it's pretty easy to nab a great phone for $300, it makes sense that Google is optimizing the experience for the increasingly important $100 phone so that one day, when phones are $10, we'll look back on this move and consider it a turning point.

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2 months ago

Best Customer Service from a Mobile Carrier

Which carrier has the best customer service in the U.S.?

Prices? Sure. Coverage? Absolutely that's important. But how does your carrier treat you? When you call, are you answered promptly and courteously? Are your problems fixed easily? Does the person on the other end sound like they even care? What about tech support?

Here's how you should pick if customer service is most important to you.

Best customer service: Verizon Wireless

For top-notch customer support, look to Verizon. In Tom's Guide's testing, which took into account online support, social media responses, and over-the-phone support, Verizon scored the highest with a 94/100 rating. In terms of coverage, The Wirecutter rates Verizon number one, so you get the best on both fronts.

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Whether it's a question about your plan, your specific device, or tech support, Verizon nails it on the phone, online, and via social media. It even has an online device simulator, which can virtually take you through tutorials on your specific phone so that you can figure out problems or simply learn how it works without having to wait on hold or heading into a Verizon store.

Runner up: T-Mobile

In Tom's Guide's ratings, T-Mobile didn't fall far behind Verizon, since it has a great social media presence when it comes to support, and its over-the-phone support is quick and helpful. That being said, its online resources could be a little better. Having had to do a ton of research on T-Mobile, I fully agree with that assessment. T-Mobile's website is quite frustrating at times, and it takes quite a bit of googling to find help pages that should probably be easier to find right on its site.

Having chatted online with some reps as well, I've noticed (similarly to Tom's Guide) that T-Mo reps assume that the customer knows more than they they really do, so their instructions aren't always explicitly clear.

Batting in the hole: AT&T

Since AT&T switched to an automated answering service, its over-the-phone support isn't the best. That being said, its support site is quite helpful, with quick response times for email, but its responses on social media are lacking.

This rating is despite J.D. Power's assertion that AT&T ranks the highest in overall customer satisfaction. J.D. Power's rating only takes customers with unlocked phones into account.

Bringing up the rear: Sprint

In Tom's Guide's ratings, Sprint is actually in fifth place, behind Cricket Wireless (an MVNO owned by AT&T). According to Tom's Guide, reps are friendly and quick to respond, but testers were consistently given incorrect information, even on topics reps should know well.

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Top Ten Reviews' rating is consistent with Tom's Guide, placing it in fourth place in its guide of best carriers and giving it the lowest score of the bunch for customer help and support.

Looking at Sprint as a consumer, putting customer service reps aside, Sprint's bring your own device policy is frustrating and a major turn off. Wanting to buy your phone from a provider is one thing, but having to is another. Sprint's dated CDMA technology holds it back on all fronts.

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2 months ago

BlackBerry KEYone is now up for pre-order at Rogers

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Rogers is the first carrier to kick off BlackBerry KEYone pre-orders in Canada.

The BlackBerry KEYone is launching in Canada on May 31, and Rogers is now taking pre-orders of the device. You'll be able to pick up BlackBerry's latest phone for $679.99 CAD outright, or for zero down on a two-year Premium+ Tab plan.

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2 months ago

Here's your first look at the Meizu M5c

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Meizu's M5c is all set to make its debut shortly.

Meizu's upcoming phone in the budget segment will be the M5c. An anonymous source shared a screenshot of the device's official listing on Meizu's website with us. The non-final version of the listing doesn't list the specs, but it does give us a look at the design of the phone as well as the color options — black, blue, red, pink, and gold.

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2 months ago

LG 'V30' will support Google's Daydream VR: One big, important clue

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For starters, LG's next flagship will probably use an OLED screen.

*/ /*-->*/

At the Google I/O 2017 keynote presentation, Google let slip (well, it was surely intentional) an important clue about an unannounced Android phone. In addition to confirming that the Galaxy S8 and S8+ will get Daydream support via a software update later this year, Google's Clay Bavor told attendees that LG's next flagship phone would also be Daydream ready.

Since we've already seen the flagship LG G6 this year, that sure sounds a lot like the LG V20's successor.

LG V30 rumors

What's interesting about this proclamation about Daydream support is that the spec currently requires an AMOLED display, because LCDs have so far lacked the super-low latency required for a smooth, comfortable VR experience. This would be a first for LG, which has in the past relied exclusively on IPS LCD panels in its top-end devices. So either there's been some breakthrough in LCD panel latency we don't yet know about, or (more likely) the LG V30 will go with OLED, which has a proven track record in both VR headsets and VR-enabled phones.

AMOLED has a proven track record in both VR headsets and VR-enabled phones.

LG has invested billions in OLED production over the past year, and has previously dabbled in using flexible OLED with the G Flex series. LG Display division has also been rumored to be supplying panels for both the next-gen iPhone and Google's upcoming Pixel 2 phones. The time might be right, then, for LG's mobile division to consider OLED for its next big-screened handset — a phone which would likely go up against Samsung's Galaxy Note 8.

As for other LG V30 features, all we have to go on at this point is (somewhat) informed speculation. A large screen size is a good bet, as is a G6-like 18:9 aspect ratio. It's also likely LG would launch its own Daydream headset with the V30, whichever display technology it ends up using, rather than send potential sales to Google or some other headset maker. We'd also bet on a Snapdragon 835 and a significant RAM upgrade, giving the V30 an edge on the G6, and bringing LG's top-end handset in line with Samsung, HTC, OnePlus and others.

Whatever form the V30 takes when it eventually materializes, Google's announcement offers a rare early clue as to what's coming. Stay tuned in the months ahead for more V30 info as it lands.

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2 months ago

Spotify may finally launch in India later this year

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Spotify could make its long-awaited debut in India sometime later this year.

Google Play Music rolled out All Access in India last month, making its international catalog available to customers in the subcontinent. It now looks like Spotify and Amazon Prime Music are about to make their foray into the market, according to industry sources speaking to The-Ken (paywall).

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2 months ago

OnePlus teams up with DxO to 'elevate' the camera experience on the OnePlus 5

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The camera on OnePlus' upcoming flagship will be tuned by DxO.

OnePlus has announced that it is teaming up with DxO to "enhance" the camera on the OnePlus 5. DxO is the company behind DxOMark, a photography benchmark that is used by leading phone manufacturers. Just this week, HTC announced that its latest flagship — the U11 — netted the highest rating for a smartphone camera, beating out the Pixel.

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2 months ago

How to quickly launch the Galaxy S8 camera with the power button

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The Galaxy S8's camera shortcut has moved from the home button to the power button. Here's how it works!

On the Galaxy S6 and S7, the camera app was easily accessible by double-pressing the physical home button from anywhere — screen on or off, and in any app. But the Galaxy S8 has no physical home button, which necessitated a change of strategy.

By default, the Galaxy S8 will launch the camera app if you double press the Power button. You can choose whether to Turn Off or Keep On the first time you use this shortcut.

But let's say that, perhaps, you were too quick to dismiss the helpful shortcut feature at the beginning. The good news is that you can go into the phone's settings panel to turn it back on.

How to enable Galaxy S8 camera quick launch

  1. Open the Settings panel.
  2. Tap on Advanced Features.
  3. Tap the Quick launch Camera shortcut to enable it.

Now you're back in business with the Galaxy S8's quick launch camera shortcut.

Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+

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2 months ago

Best Samsung Phones

If you're into Android, a Samsung phone is probably on your list. Here's what to consider.

Since the debut of the Galaxy S2, Samsung has ranked as one of the top selling manufacturers of Android smartphones. Over the years, the South Korean company has managed to positively iterate on its flagship offerings by offering new features and a better interface with every new model.

This year, it's the Galaxy S8 that takes the spotlight as the defacto Samsung device, but it's not the only Galaxy offering you can choose from. Here's a guide on the differences between the varying high-end Samsung devices you should consider adopting as your daily driver.

This article is updated periodically. It was last updated May 2017.

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