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5 days ago

Project Fi's latest offer gives you a free Google Home if you buy a Pixel

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The offer is good through July 29.

Who doesn't like free stuff? And who doesn't like smart little virtual assistants you can talk to? Google Home is both, and you can get one in your own home if you purchase a brand new Pixel or Pixel XL smartphone through Project Fi.

You can read up on the terms for the free Google Home promotion here. The Pixel starts at $649 at Project Fi's online storefront. You can buy one outright or pay for it over the course of 24 months.

Project Fi is a phone carrier offering from Google. It offers mobile data service on three mobile networks, and it uses Wi-Fi to make calls and send texts. It's also a prepaid carrier, and you pay ahead for the month of use rather than after — as is common with a standard mobile operator.

If you're wondering if Project Fi is something worth subscribing to yourself, be sure to take the Fi Fit Quiz.

See at ProjectFi

Google Project Fi

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5 days ago

Google Pixel 2 rumor roundup

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What do we want from the Google Pixel 2?

It's June, which means that we're only a couple of months away from a new, delicious version of Android, and if history is any indicator, 4 to 5 months away from brand new Pixel phones.

Up until recently, we thought this year's crop was to be a fairly predictable update to last year's — two devices built by HTC with improved specs and a newer version of Android. But things change.

Walleye and Muskie

After the Pixel and Pixel XL were released in October, the rumor mill reformed to contribute some logical and some less logical propositions.

The first rumor that made sense was that HTC would once again be the manufacturer of two Pixel 2 models in 2017 and that perhaps the company had signed a multi-year contract with Google for the privilege.

The second rumor somewhat corroborated the code naming trend of previous years: references to devices named "walleye" and "muskie", two freshwater fish native to parts of the U.S. and Canada, continued the aquatic animal-based naming conventions of many Nexus devices as well as the Pixel and Pixel XL. Those devices were codenamed "sailfish" and "marlin", while the Nexus 5X was "bullhead" and the Nexus 6P "angler".

Both "walleye" and "muskie" were expected to be HTC-built devices, with updated designs similar to that of the original Pixels.

And until March, that's how we left things, until "taimen".

Taimen

A Taimen in the wild

In March, it came out that a third potential Pixel device was being produced, codenamed "taimen", likely bigger than both "walleye" and "muskie".

At the time, we didn't know much about the device, but in recent weeks it's come out that "taimen" would be built by LG, not HTC, and would be larger than the "XL" version of HTC's Pixel sequel, "muskie." It was then revealed that Google in fact cancelled the "muskie," the larger of HTC's Pixels, for "taimen," leaving one HTC- and one LG-built Pixel phone for 2017.

We still know very little about what this LG-built Pixel looks like, or its specs, but we can speculate as to why Google added LG to the equation this year.

A long history of collaboration

Google and LG have a long history of collaborating, all the way back to 2012 with the Nexus 4. LG has built three Nexus devices over the years (Nexus 4, Nexus 5, Nexus 5X) and was the first manufacturer to boast a new phone running Android 7.0 Nougat in 2016 with the LG V20.

So the relationships are there, and the comfort is there. And with LG reaffirming its dedication to quality control — Google was also affected by the bootloop issues on the Nexus 5X — with the LG G6, Google probably feels more comfortable letting the Korean company take another stab at the project.

LG Display

Earlier this year, it was revealed that Google wants to spend nearly a billion dollars with LG Display to secure OLED panels for its upcoming Pixel phones.

LG Display is a separate company from LG Electronics, which creates phones, but the two are connected, and it stands to reason that Google would give the latter a manufacturing contract to ensure the success of the former.

OLED displays are the future of screens, and Google wants a piece of the market.

OLED displays are the future of mobile optics, and LG is ramping up production for its own devices and to compete with Samsung Display, which largely has the market cornered. The first Pixel phones were affected by enormous and frustrating manufacturing delays, and though Google never specifically pointed to a shortage in OLED displays, experts believe that is exactly what was keeping the phone off the market for so long. With its sequels, Google wants to avoid that problem, and giving LG the rights to manufacture one of its Pixels goes a long way to making sure that happens.

Design

Right now, we know almost nothing of the Pixel 2's design(s). One GFXBench listing implies that at least the smaller "walleye" will sport a 5.6-inch QHD display with a 2:1 aspect ratio — the same as the LG G6 — so it's expected that both units will have a low-bezel design, likely with a fingerprint sensor on the back of the phone.

That larger screen should address the main design criticism of the original Pixels: their large bezels, which look even sillier now that the Galaxy S8 and LG G6 are on the market.

Whether the new Pixels will be waterproof, have wireless charging, or possess dual cameras remain to be seen, but it would not be too off-base to assume that waterproofing would be on the table this year, given that both the HTC U11 and LG G6 are at least nominally water-resistant.

Specs

Expect at least a Snapdragon 835, if not something newer.

As for specs, we know a few things about the phones: that they'll run at least the Snapdragon 835 SoC — it's possible a newer Snapdragon 836 will be on the market by then — and have 4GB of RAM, which the market has settled on as the norm for most flagship smartphones.

It's also safe to assume that the camera will be another point of pride for Google this year — even with two different manufacturers, it's likely the "walleye" and "taimen" models will sport the same camera sensor, or sensors, and be optimized using Google's increasingly good HDR+ algorithms.

And given that the phones will have larger screens this year — the smaller Pixel 2 is expected to be 5.6-inches at a 2:1 aspect ratio, so expect a larger 5.9- or 6-inch "taimen" model of the same shape — it's possible they'll have larger batteries. The Snapdragon 835 has already shown itself to have considerably better efficiency than the 821 found in the original Pixels, so even with the same-sized batteries the new Pixels should have improved uptime, but we should also see slightly larger cells as well.

As for storage breakdown, it's expected that Google will keep the default size at 32GB, offering a 128GB model for $100 more. Last year's Pixel XL costs $120 more than the smaller version, and that difference isn't likely to go down this year, especially given the change in manufacturers. Expect the "taimen" version of the Pixel 2 XL to be $120 to $150 more than the "walleye."

Software

Like last year, the Pixel 2 series should launch with Android 8.1, a version that will remain exclusive to the phones for some time.

That strategy allowed Google to roll out some great new features for all phones running Android 7.0 Nougat while keeping some exclusive features for the Pixels, which ran Android 7.1 when they launched a few months later. At the same time, Google's excellent Pixel Launcher remains unique to the lineup, as does Project Fi support, which should fall over to the phones, too.

We don't know anything specific about what we'll see in Android 8.1 right now, but we're keeping our ear to the ground and will update this as we know more.

Pricing and availability

Another piece of the puzzle for which we're waiting to hear more is pricing and availability. It wouldn't be out of order to think that the Pixel 2 lineup will debut towards the end of October or the beginning of November, and will maintain a $649 / $749 price point for the smaller and larger phones, respectively.

We're hoping that Google ups the default storage to 64GB and that all of our spec wishes come true, but we only have a few more months to wait before we find it all out.

Google Pixel + Pixel XL

Google Store Verizon

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5 days ago

HTC U11 vs Google Pixel XL: Which should you buy?

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Pixel XL, HTC U11

Google still demands top dollar for its aging Pixel XL. So should you consider the latest phone from Pixel-maker HTC instead?

They're both made by HTC, pack similar display sizes, high performance and phenomenal cameras. But there's a big price difference between the Google Pixel XL ($769), and HTC U11 ($649) — and you'll also be getting a significantly different software experience. So which should you buy? Let's take a look at some of the major points of divergence between two of the top Android phones of the moment.

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6 days ago

Moto C Plus with 4000mAh battery debuts in India for ₹6,999

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The Moto C series is designed to provide all-day battery life and an unencumbered software experience.

The Moto C Plus is now official in India for ₹6,999 ($110). With plenty of new devices in the budget segment, Motorola is positioning the Moto C Plus as a phone with all-day battery life, bloat-free software experience, and an "advanced" front camera. Or as Motorola puts it, "Yes, it is that cool."

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6 days ago

LG G6+ with 128GB storage and new colors is now official in Korea [update]

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LG is rolling out facial recognition to the G6 series as the G6+ makes its debut.

Samsung rolled out a slightly updated variant of the Galaxy S8 with 6GB of RAM in its home market earlier this year, and LG is now following suit with the G6+. The phone is an upgraded variant of the LG G6 with 128GB storage and three new color options, and will be going up for sale in South Korea early next month.

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6 days ago

Moto E4 vs. E4 Plus vs. G5 vs. G5 Plus: Which should you buy?

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Motorola's budget lineup is getting increasingly crowded.

Lenovo is known for rolling out several phones at the same price point, with minor differences between them to justify their existence. With the Chinese company now hedging its bets on Motorola, it was inevitable that we would see a bevy of new phones under the Moto banner.

Motorola launched the Moto G5 and G5 Plus back at Mobile World Congress, and over the course of the last month, we've seen the Moto C series followed by the Moto E series.

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1 week ago

This is the OnePlus 5

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OnePlus starts airing the first OnePlus 5 promo in India — giving us a look at the full device, front and back.

OnePlus showed off a teaser of the OnePlus 5 earlier this month, giving us a look at the dual rear cameras and an early look at the design on offer. We've received other leaks since then, and today the company is showing off the device in its entirety in its first official TV spot.

Airing in India during the finals of the ICC Champions Trophy cricket tournament, the ad features OnePlus India brand ambassador and Bollywood superstar Amitabh Bachchan unboxing what looks to be a OnePlus 5, with an official render of the device itself showcased at the end.

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1 week ago

Galaxy S8 update gets rid of the black navigation bar, lets you auto-hide nav keys

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Galaxy S8 picks up a slew of new features in latest update.

The Galaxy S8 and S8+ are receiving an update that brings the June 1, 2017 security patch along with several UI tweaks. There's now an icon to the left of the navigation bar that lets you auto-hide the navigation keys when you're in an app. allowing you to make full use of that 18.5:9 panel. You can toggle it with a quick tap, giving you the option to automatically hide or display the navigation bar.

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1 week ago

Keeping the same phone for two years

153

Long term support should be as important as the hardware when it comes to our next phone purchase.

I've been thinking about this for a while. Apple, Samsung, and Google are pricing their premium phones high enough to make a dent in most everyone's bank account. There's a lot of room to talk about phones, no matter how smart, being worth the asking prices, but talk probably won't change anything there. The prices are what they are, and we all expect to spend upwards of $900 on a new phone from any of the three the next time a new model comes along. If we buy one, that is.

As prices rise and hardware gets better, our phones will keep doing cool things longer than they used to.

And that's the thing. Along with the creeping prices, the features and parts used to build them are getting better, too. And I think we're at the point where a phone from almost any of the companies who make them could last two years, for even the enthusiast. That's us — people who read about phones on the internet because we love them enough to read about them.

I know some of us are already there. Pick any article about a new phone and there's a good chance you'll find someone happily keeping their Note 4 or Nexus 5, and people have been using iPhones for two to three years for a while now. The same goes for phones from LG, HTC, Motorola or anyone else. In 2019 we'll still see people who love their Axon 7. What used to be rare among the enthusiast crowd — keeping a phone because you like it and it still works fine — is a lot more common now. And that's one of those good things I like to mention every now and again.

Let's take Apple out of the picture here. An iPhone 5S is still a very usable phone because it was well built and Apple still supports it. There are people who bought one when it was first sold who will keep it until it stops working and an Apple Store employee helps them get a brand new model. Even the most die-hard Android fanatic has to recognize that Apple has nailed the after-sale support, and it's well worth paying for if you don't rush to buy the new thing every time it's shown to you.

Supporting a product costs a lot more than making it did.

Androids don't have that level of longevity. In a perfect world, Samsung puts its own processor inside every phone it sells, and it supports them for years. As long as it still turns on, it's fine. Samsung doesn't do this because it can't afford to put its Exynos processor inside every phone and it wouldn't be able to compete with the rest of the companies making Android phones if it had this sales model. The first might change once the courts sort out Qualcomm's fair-use patent pricing. But even then, Samsung just doesn't have the profit-per-unit (I'm sure there is a fancy accounting term for this) that Apple has and it can't make money this way. And the rest of the companies making Android phones? Pfffft. They would make one last model then disappear in a cloud of Chapter 13.

That's important. If you have a phone you want to use and it has some horrible glitch every time you try a certain thing, you need it fixed with an update. Of course, there are also security concerns, which is why Microsoft has to keep sending out updates for software it sold in 2002. These things matter to most of us, but what if your phone works just fine and you're not concerned about security? (You should be concerned about security, and you should lie to me if you're not so I can sleep at night.) That Note 4 does everything Joe wants it to do and does it well, so Joe is keeping it until it falls apart.

The reasons why phones can't be updated for a longer period makes sense, but that's a problem for a billion dollar company to sort out.

I think Joe might have the right idea. I was using my Nexus 5X yesterday and realized I could use it every day until it stopped getting monthly security patches in 2018. There will be cool things coming in the next software update for newer phones that I might like, but it does everything I need it to do just fine. The same can be said for a Galaxy S7 or an LG V10. They are great phones with stable software, and they still do everything they did when they were brand new. This isn't a brand thing because every company makes phones that someone just loves.

The only issue I see with keeping the Nexus 5X (or any phone) for two years or more is the software update situation. Because security updates are important to me, it probably matters more than it does for others, but we need to know the company who made it and took our money is willing to be there to fix whatever needs fixing when it comes to the software it runs. And unfortunately, you can't count on long-term support from any company in the Android space, even Google.

Keeping something you paid $900 for more than 12 months is not a crazy idea.

There are plenty of reasons why, and most of them make sense. But that doesn't matter because Apple and Microsoft can do it. We should expect the same service from a company as big as Google or Samsung or LG. Problems with component vendors or profit margins may be valid, but that's for the billion dollar companies to sort out and do whatever it takes.

We deserve better, and we deserve to be able to keep a $900 phone as long as we want. It would also mean we'll probably buy the same brand next time because we feel like we were taken care of. There is competition between the companies for more than just specs or screen resolution when it comes to our gadgets, and it needs to be just as important as how much RAM your next phone will have.

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1 week ago

Buy a Galaxy S8, LG G6 or LG V20 and get one free with this special deal from T-Mobile and Android Central

Don't miss out on this deal for the latest Samsung and LG phones!

T-Mobile and Android Central are ready to give you a free phone! This deal for the Samsung Galaxy S8, Samsung Galaxy S8+, LG G6 or LG V20 gets you a free phone when you buy one and set up service at T-Mobile. Who doesn't love free phones — especially ones this great!

Here are the details:

  • This deal is only available on the installment plan with T-Mobile.
  • If you're a brand new customer, you can take advantage of this BOGO deal by purchasing both phones on the Equipment Installment Plan and activating on T-Mobile ONE. 
  • If you're an existing customer, just choose your phone on the Equipment Installment Plan (EIP). Next, you'll have to add one voice line + unlimited data to this plan. 

Finally, the big money payback on this BOGO deal comes when you submit a rebate online. You get the refund on a prepaid MasterCard for the device of lesser value. So, up to $500 if you go for the LG device and up to $790 if you grab the Samsung Galaxy. 

How to get the rebate

  • Purchase your phones and activate them per the rules above.
  • Complete the rebate online and enter the promo code 17JUNESAMBOGO and supply the information necessary. You need to do this within 30 days of activation, though. 
  • You should have your money within 6-8 weeks. Cha-Ching!

The fine print

  • There are taxes on any device you go with and you'll have to pay that up front regardless of the plan or phone.
  • If you get on the EIP deal, you have 24 months to pay the device off. 
  • Rebate on the second device will take up to 8 weeks so be sure to fill out your rebate form as soon as you activate your new phone!

Grab your new phones through these links

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1 week ago

Best Android Phone Under $400

Best overall

Moto Z Play

See at Motorola

The Moto Z Play already has a sequel, but that doesn't matter: at $399.99, this is the best phone under $400 you can buy. Why? It's got everything you need in a flagship, including a great big screen, excellent performance, unbeatable battery life (seriously, this thing goes two days no problem) and support for Motorola's growing line of Moto Mods accessories.

Bottom line: If you're buying an unlocked phone and have a $400 budget, the Moto Z Play is your best bet right now.

One more thing: The unlocked version will only work on T-Mobile and AT&T in the U.S.; there's a Verizon version available for slightly more money.

Why the Moto Z Play is the best

The phone to get if you want bang for your buck.

Phone prices are rising. That's just a fact. So when you can find a best-in-class product, even if it's not new on the market, you jump at it. The Moto Z Play was recently permanently discounted to $399.99, and that's a perfect price for this near-flawless phone.

It starts with the excellent build quality, made of metal and glass, and extends to the incredibly smooth performance from the Snapdragon 625 processor and 3GB of RAM. You also have a very good 16MP rear camera, and a 5MP front camera with selfie flash. But the best part about this phone — oh, that the software is great, too — is the 3,510mAh battery, which lasts seemingly forever (but really about two days of heavy use). That can even be extended with one of Motorola's useful Moto Mod batteries packs.

Best looks

Honor 8

See at Amazon

Do you like shiny things? The Honor 8 is plenty shiny for those of you attempting to add more sheen into your life. I mean, just look at the blue color featured here. It's even more gorgeous in person, and it doesn't cost an arm and a leg.

The Honor 8 is Huawei's second attempt at entering the U.S. market. It's got a 5.2-inch 1080p display, a 3000mAh battery, 4GB of RAM, and Huawei's in-house developed Kirin 950 processor. The Honor 8 also has dual 12-megapixel rear-facing cameras, both of which work in conjunction to produce the best possible photo you could want. As we discussed in our review, it's plenty capable of being your primary shooter.

The only drawback of the Honor 8 is that Huawei's EMUI is a bit of a doozy to get used to. Its default launcher doesn't offer an app drawer, so you'll have to find another launcher if you're used to having one. It also comes with a bit of bloatware and extra apps you might find redundant alongside Google's offerings, though you can thankfully uninstall and deactivate them at will.

Bottom line: If you're looking for last year's flagship performance at an affordable price point, the Honor 8 is an impressive little package.

One more thing: The unlocked Honor 8 is only compatible with AT&T and T-Mobile's networks, along with their associated prepaid MVNOs.

Best audio experience

ZTE Axon 7

See at Amazon

You might have forgotten that ZTE is a major player in the U.S. smartphone wars, but that's okay. The good news is that the company is the brains behind the very impressive Axon line and the Axon 7 is a worthwhile choice if you don't mind dealing with a clunky Android interface.

The ZTE Axon 7 offers a 5.5-inch Quad HD AMOLED display, a Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 processor, 4GB of RAM, and a 3250mAh battery. It also has a 20-megapixel rear-facing camera, though it's not the best shooter in low light environments. But if you're an audiophile, the Axon 7 might make your ears perk up.

Bottom line: If you're tired of the same old smartphone brands in your life, the ZTE Axon 7 might be that "something new" that becomes your "something constant."

One more thing: The Axon 7 is equipped with the bands necessary to work on a network like Verizon Wireless, but your best bet is to be an AT&T or T-Mobile (or their prepaid brands) subscriber before purchasing this device.

Best for even less

Moto G5 Plus

See at Amazon

The Moto G5 Plus is a wonder of cost-cutting in the right places. For either $229.99 (2GB RAM/32GB storage) or $299.99 (4GB/64GB) you get one of the most well-rounded budget phones out there. Featuring an excellent 5.2-inch display, a great 12MP rear camera, and awesome software touches, the Moto G5 Plus is truly a remarkable achievement.

Bottom line: You can't go wrong with the Moto G5 Plus, one of the best budget smartphones available right now.

One more thing: The Moto G5 Plus has a smaller, cheaper sibling in the Moto G5.

Conclusion

The sub-$400 market is both extremely competitive and a little confusing. Smartphone prices are rising across the board, so it's difficult to know whether you should buy last year's flagship or this year's budget device. The Moto Z Play falls kind of in the middle, since it's still fairly new, but has been permanently discounted as we await its more expensive sequel. At the same time, devices like the Honor 8 and Axon 7 continue to offer tremendous value for the money, while the newer Moto G5 Plus redefines what it means to be a top-tier budget device.

Best overall

Moto Z Play

See at Motorola

The Moto Z Play already has a sequel, but that doesn't matter: at $399.99, this is the best phone under $400 you can buy. Why? It's got everything you need in a flagship, including a great big screen, excellent performance, unbeatable battery life (seriously, this thing goes two days no problem) and support for Motorola's growing line of Moto Mods accessories.

Bottom line: If you're buying an unlocked phone and have a $400 budget, the Moto Z Play is your best bet right now.

One more thing: The unlocked version will only work on T-Mobile and AT&T in the U.S.; there's a Verizon version available for slightly more money.

Update, June 2017: The Moto Z Play is our new best phone under $400, while the Moto G5 Plus has taken over from the G4 Plus.

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1 week ago

HTC U11 debuts in India with 6GB RAM and 128GB storage for a sensible ₹51,990 ($800)

7

HTC is back to winning ways with the U11.

HTC made several questionable decisions regarding its strategy in India over the last two years, but it finally looks like the Taiwanese manufacturer is learning from its mistakes. The HTC U11 has made its debut in the country, offering hardware that can hold its own next to the likes of the Galaxy S8 and LG G6. Crucially, HTC got the pricing right this time around, giving the U11 a better chance than any other HTC device in recent memory.

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1 week ago

Vivo could be the first to launch a smartphone with an on-screen fingerprint sensor

13

Vivo could edge out Samsung and other companies in launching a phone with an on-screen fingerprint sensor.

Samsung failed in its attempt to integrate a fingerprint sensor into the screen of the Galaxy S8, and it now looks like Vivo will be the first company to roll out a device with an on-screen fingerprint sensor. A leaked video on Weibo shows off a Vivo phone that looks a lot like the X9 Plus, albeit with an optical fingerprint sensor that's embedded into the screen itself.

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1 week ago

Moto C Plus will be exclusive to Flipkart in India, launch set for June 19

1

The Moto C Plus will target the entry-level segment in India.

Another week, another Motorola phone. The company has just announced that it will launch the Moto C Plus in India on June 19, with the phone set to be offered exclusively on Flipkart. The handset will likely be sold in the country for under ₹10,000.

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1 week ago

HTC U11 outselling HTC 10, M9

33
HTC U11

Early demand makes the U11 the most sought-after HTC phone since the M8.

After years of decline in the smartphone market, HTC needed the U11 to be a success, and it looks like the new flagship phone is off to a promising start. According to Focus Taiwan, HTC smartphone division head Chia-lin Chang told shareholders and local journalists that in its first month of availability, the U11 was outselling the previous two flagships, the HTC 10 and One M9.

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