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4 days ago

Deal: HTC Bolt available for just $200 with coupon code (60% off)

7

HTC's running a heavy discount on its Bolt handset from last year, and while the savings might be large, you may want to still hold back.

We're currently in the best time of year for buying new tech thanks to the numerous savings and promotions that are being run in preparation for the holiday season, and one of the latest companies to follow suit with this is HTC. However, the savings being offered are on a phone you might have forgotten about.

The HTC Bolt was released just about a year ago, and it was one of the most peculiar phones of 2016. It featured a great, metal build, respectable cameras, and shipped with Android Nougat. On the other hand, it also came equipped with a heap of Sprint bloatware, lacked a headphone jack, and used a processor from 2015 (the Snapdragon 810 to be exact).

Of all the issues with the HTC Bolt, one of the biggest was with its price of $600. HTC has since lowered that to $500, but if you buy the phone right now and use the coupon code BOLT200 at checkout, you'll be able to pick it up for just $200.

$200 is a lot more reasonable than $600 or $500, but even so, make sure to shop around a bit before hopping right on this deal. Devices like the Moto G5S Plus can be purchased for as little as $240 right now, and for $40 extra you're getting a newer processor, dual-cameras, better chance of being updated to Oreo, and compatibility on all major carriers in the U.S.

With that said, if you're an HTC fanatic and the Bolt sounds like the phone for you, you can check it out at the link below.

See at HTC

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4 days ago

Have you disabled Bixby on your Samsung phone?

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Bixby's been out for a few months at this point, and this is how some of our forum users choose to deal with Samsung's virtual assistant.

If you're the owner of a Galaxy S8/S8+ or Note 8, you've run into Bixby at least once or twice. Between the left-most home screen and dedicated hardware button, Samsung's want for users to interact with its AI is quite apparent.

Bixby has proven itself to be surprisingly great for certain tasks, but to no one's surprise, it still falls behind Google Assistant in other areas. Now that Bixby's been out in the wild for a few months, we wanted to check back in with some of our forum users to see whether or not you're still using Bixby.

Here's what you had to say.

*/
tuckertje01 11-13-2017 01:23 PM “

I have been using Bixby Remapper for a while now, and I love it. I have remapped the button to open gallery instead, but I'm still using Bixby voice commands occasionally. I also use Button Mapper to have more uses for double click and long press volume up/down buttons. The reason why I chose these apps instead of others like BxActions is that the others require installing using a computer and...

Reply
*/
strikeIII 11-13-2017 03:20 PM “

Well, I actually never setup Bixby to begin with so it doesn't even launch at all when I remap it with BxActions. I even have my Bixby home disabled as well.

Reply
*/
Methos1979 11-13-2017 04:40 PM “

I did it. It works reliably for me. I use BK Disabler. I mapped Google Maps to the button. Note that I also still have Bixby voice activated and use it for just a couple programmed Voice Commands. Not a big fan of Bixby but there are a couple things it can do that I want it for.

Reply
*/
jeetu4444 11-13-2017 07:01 PM “

i used bixby button to activate Google assistant

Reply

With all that said, what about you – Are you still using Bixby on your phone?

Join the conversation in the forums!

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4 days ago

Accessibility Services: What they are and why Google is cracking down on their misuse

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A lot of your favorite apps might use Accessibility Services for certain features, but this is why Google's new limitations on them are important.

There are a lot of moving parts to all of our favorite applications. You might not think about this when scrolling through your timeline on Twitter or watching videos on YouTube, but the amount of stuff going on behind the scenes to make all of these apps work the way they're supposed to is actually pretty incredible.

Certain apps like LastPass, Tasker, and Clipboard Actions tap into Android's Accessibility Services to allow for deeper features that otherwise couldn't exist, but Google recently announced that applications using them without directly benefiting those with disabilities could be removed from the Play Store.

Accessibility Services are an interesting tool, and to get a better idea of what exactly is taking place here, we need to take a closer look.

What are Accessibility Services?

Accessibility Services are found within Android and allow phones and tablets to be easier to use by those with disabilities. When you go to the Accessibility settings page on your Android device, you'll see an array of controls that Google has enabled by default. Some of the items here include the likes of tapping items on your screen to have your device read them out to you, spoken feedback that reads aloud all of your actions, increasing the size of items on the display, etc.

As expected, the general theme here is to make Android easier and simpler to use for people that need some extra assistance.

In addition to the services that are built into Android by default, developers can tap into Accessibility Services with their own apps to create new features that take advantage of them. On the Android Developers site, Accessibility Services are described as follows:

Accessibility services should only be used to assist users with disabilities in using Android devices and apps. They run in the background and receive callbacks by the system when AccessibilityEvents are fired. Such events denote some state transition in the user interface, for example, the focus has changed, a button has been clicked, etc. Such a service can optionally request the capability for querying the content of the active window. Development of an accessibility service requires extending this class and implementing its abstract methods.

Why some apps use them

Although the main goal of Accessibility Services is to allow developers to create tools targeted at individuals with disabilities, we've seen a number of apps over the years that have tapped into this resource to create expanded features that can technically benefit everyone.

Android's pre-installed Accessibility Services are all targeted at people with disabilities, and for a reason.

Accessibility Services can be used legitimately, but that, unfortunately, doesn't always happen.

For example, LastPass's App Fill reveals an overlay on top of whatever screen or other app you're on so you can easily add username and password information without having to open up the full LastPass application. Clipboard Actions also taps into Accessibility Services so you can more easily manage links you've copied and take action on them without having to be in the full Clipboard Actions app.

This is a method that developers have been using for quite some time now, and while it technically works, it does create for vulnerabilities that Google doesn't like to see.

Google's reasoning for the new limitations

As great as Accessibility Services can be when used legitimately, it's also possible for the service to be used maliciously. Apps that use Accessibility Services open up greater security threats than ones that don't, and this leaves devices at risk for attacks.

Shortly after Google announced the decision to limit applications that can use Accessibility Services, it was discovered that the change was likely connected to a "toast overlay" attack that had been discovered by security firm TrendMicro. Essentially, the toast overlay attack allows malicious apps to display images and buttons over what should really be shown in order to steal personal information or completely lock users out of their device.

Apps using this toast overlay attack have since been removed from the Play Store and a patch with the September Security Bulletin resolves the vulnerability, but this is just one example of how an app tapping into Accessibility Services can cause serious damage.

The future is APIs

Apps that are using Accessibility Services to help the disabled in legitimate ways will continue to exist, but for those that aren't targeted at this specific demographic, Google has a solution – APIs. In the example of LastPass, the new Autofill API with Android Oreo allows LastPass to offer similar functionality to its Auto Fill feature without having to use Accessibility Services.

APIs allow for similar (and often better) experiences than what hacky dev tricks can produce.

This does mean that users need to be running newer versions of Android to access all of the features of some of their favorite titles, but at the end of the day, your functionality is remaining while also cutting down on possible security risks.

We understand the annoyance that some users have towards this change, but when looking at it from Google's perspective, it's a move that just makes sense. Accessibility Services were never intended to be used for a large portion of the ways that certain devs are tapping into them, and it's something that Google needs to crack down on.

At the end of the day, once apps get updated to support Google's numerous APIs, we'll get similar features with greater protection from attacks. What more could you ask for?

Android Oreo

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4 days ago

Where to buy the Galaxy Note 8

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Where to buy the Samsung Galaxy Note 8

Where can I buy the Galaxy Note 8?

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

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

U.S.

Best Buy

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

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

See at Best Buy

T-Mobile

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

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

See at T-Mobile


Verizon

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

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

See at Verizon


AT&T

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

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

See at AT&T


Sprint

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

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

See at Sprint


Samsung

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

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

See at Samsung

Amazon

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

See at Amazon

UK

Carphone Warehouse

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

See at Carphone Warehouse

Samsung

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

See at Samsung

O2

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

See at O2

EE

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

See at EE

Three

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

See at Three

Vodafone UK

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

See at Vodafone UK

Canada

Telus

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

See at Telus

Rogers

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

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

See at Rogers

Bell

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

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

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

See at Bell

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

Samsung Galaxy Note 8

Verizon AT&T T-Mobile Sprint Best Buy

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4 days ago

Flipkart's awkwardly-named Billion Capture+ is now up for sale in India

4

Flipkart's first phone offers unlimited cloud storage and dual rear cameras for just ₹10,999.

Indian e-commerce giant Flipkart has made its foray into the smartphone segment with its first self-branded phone, the Billion Capture+. Weird naming issues aside, the phone has a lot going for it: you get a 5.5-inch 1080p panel protected by Dragontrail glass, 3GB/4GB of RAM and 32GB/64GB of storage, microSD slot, dual rear cameras, and a 3500mAh battery with USB-C and Quick Charge. The variant with 3GB of RAM costs just ₹10,999 ($170), with the 4GB version retailing for ₹12,999 ($200).

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4 days ago

Taiwanese variant of the HTC U11 is now receiving the Oreo update

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HTC kicks off the stable Oreo update to the U11.

HTC said it'll roll out Oreo to the U11 before the end of the year, and while it didn't specify a timeline, the update was expected sometime this month. The company is now kicking off the Android 8.0 Oreo update to the device, starting with the Taiwanese variant. The OTA update comes in at 1.3GB, and includes VoWifi service for Chunghwa Telecom customers in Taiwan.

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5 days ago

Cricket replaces 8GB and 12GB plans with two unlimited options

30

Two unlimited plans sounds nice, but there's a small catch.

Prepaid service plans are great options for customers that want affordable monthly bills without all the bells and whistles from the likes of AT&T and Verizon, and one of your better options in this field is Cricket Wireless. Cricket made some nice changes to its service plans earlier this month, but a new one that's just been spotted isn't quite as joyful.

According to Droid Life, Cricket removed its 8GB and 12GB data plans on November 8 and effectively replaced them with its Unlimited 2 and Unlimited options. Having two unlimited plans versus two limited ones might sound like an upgrade, but that isn't necessarily the case.

On one hand, you're looking at a potential larger monthly cost. The 8GB and 12GB plans used to cost $50/month and $60/month, whereas Unlimited 2 and Unlimited will set you back $55/month and $60/month, respectively. Unlimited 2 and Unlimited come with mostly the same features, but Unlimited 2 will limit your download speeds to a sluggish 3Mbps. If you upgrade to Unlimited for $5 more per month, you'll increase to Cricket's regular 8Mbps.

Along with the two unlimited plans, you still have access to Cricket's 2GB and 5GB data plans that recently got upgraded from 1GB and 4GB.

See at Cricket

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5 days ago

Best Android Phones Under $300

Best overall

Moto G5S Plus

See at Motorola

The Moto G5 Plus was already one of our favorite phones in the sub-$300 price range, but the newer Moto G5S Plus (the 'S' stands for "Special Edition") makes some small improvements that lead to an even better phone that still won't break the bank.

With the Moto G5S Plus, you get terrific build quality, an eye-catching new Blush Gold finish, and a new dual camera system — on top of all the other benefits the Moto G5 Plus already included, like a large 1080p display, a fast fingerprint sensor, and the useful Moto Actions gestures. Better yet, if you can't front the cost, Motorola offers financing through Affirm when you order from its online store.

Bottom line: The Moto G5S Plus offers the best value for a phone under $300 and sets a new standard for powerful, inexpensive phones moving forward.

One more thing: Best Buy has the Moto G5S Plus for $40 off, so you can pick up our top recommendation for just $239.99.

Why the Moto G5S Plus is the best

In our review of the G5S Plus, we still recommended the standard Moto G5 Plus over the special edition because the difference in price didn't quite justify the latter option's minor improvements, but with Best Buy's discounted price, it's a different story.

The Moto G5S Plus has just about everything you could ask of a phone at this price. The design is attractive and well-built, the software is clean yet clever with the addition of Moto Actions and Moto Display, and the speaker sounds great. The best part? The Moto G5S Plus works on all U.S. carriers — yes, even Sprint and Verizon.

Best for navel-gazing

Honor 6X

See at Amazon

If your lifestyle is living loudly, wildly, and all over the internet, the Honor 6X should be your first choice for a budget smartphone. It's equipped with all the necessities, including a dual rear-facing 12-megapixel and 2-megapixel camera that's packed with a bevy of camera modes, a substantial 3000mAh batter pack, and a 1080p display for editing all those photos before posting them online.

Bottom line: The Honor 6X is truly a smartphone made for the kids: It has great battery life, camera hardware that's substantial for social media, and a non-partisan design that will blend in with the rest of 'em.

One more thing: The Honor 6X is not compatible with the major CDMA networks in the U.S.

Best for really tight budgets

Nokia 6

See at Amazon

At just $229, the Nokia 6 falls well below our $300 guideline, and it has a lot to offer for that low cost. The aluminum unibody design feels premium, its 5.5" 1080p LCD display looks great, and it has one of the better cameras in its segment. On top of that, the Nokia 6 runs a close-to-stock build of Android 7.1.2, and Nokia releases monthly security updates — a rarity for low-cost phones.

Bottom line: You'd be hard-pressed to find a better-made phone at this price point, and the regular software updates are icing on the cake.

One more thing: If you can live with the occasional ad on your lock screen and in your notifications, the Prime-exclusive Nokia 6 is even cheaper, at just $179.99. There's simply no better option at that price.

Best overall

Moto G5S Plus

See at Motorola

The Moto G5 Plus was already one of our favorite phones in the sub-$300 price range, but the newer Moto G5S Plus (the 'S' stands for "Special Edition") makes some small improvements that lead to an even better phone that still won't break the bank.

With the Moto G5S Plus, you get terrific build quality, an eye-catching new Blush Gold finish, and a new dual camera system — on top of all the other benefits the Moto G5 Plus already included, like a large 1080p display, a fast fingerprint sensor, and the useful Moto Actions gestures. Better yet, if you can't front the cost upfront, Motorola offers financing through Affirm when you order from its online store.

Bottom line: The Moto G5S Plus offers the best value for a phone under $300, and sets a new standard for powerful, inexpensive phones moving forward.

One more thing: Best Buy has the Moto G5S Plus for $40, so you can pick up our top recommendation for just $239.99.

Update November 2017: Replaced the ZTE Axon 7 Mini with the Moto G5S Plus as the best overall option, and swapped the Moto G5 Plus out with the Nokia 6 for tight budgets.

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5 days ago

OnePlus root 'backdoor': What it is, what it isn't, and what you need to know [update]

11

OnePlus needs to fix this (and quickly) but you don't have much to worry about until they do.

You might have heard that OnePlus left a "backdoor" in the OnePlus 3, the OnePlus 3T, and OnePlus 5 that could be used to root a phone without unlocking the bootloader. If you're the type of person who thinks this is great news, you already know where to look for instructions and downloads to play with it yourself. But if you're not into all this sort of thing you probably have some questions, especially if you have a OnePlus phone yourself. As well you should, since there's a good chance you have a lot of your personal information stored on your phone and would like to keep much of it private.

So let's talk about what it is we're seeing and everything you need to know about it.

Update: OnePlus has responded to the claims in its official forums:

Yesterday, we received a lot of questions regarding an apk found in several devices, including our own, named EngineerMode, and we would like to explain what it is. EngineerMode is a diagnostic tool mainly used for factory production line functionality testing and after sales support.

We've seen several statements by community developers that are worried because this apk grants root privileges. While, it can enable adb root which provides privileges for adb commands, it will not let 3rd-party apps access full root privileges. Additionally, adb root is only accessible if USB debugging, which is off by default, is turned on, and any sort of root access would still require physical access to your device.

While we don't see this as a major security issue, we understand that users may still have concerns and therefore we will remove the adb root function from EngineerMode in an upcoming OTA.

The 'backdoor'

Backdoor is a great description of what's going on because that really is what's happening. There is a piece of software on the affected OnePlus phones that can be used to gain control of the system. But it was never meant to be there once the phone went up for sale.

Yes, there is an app on some OnePlus phones that has an admin function. And it shouldn't be there.

The app in question initially comes from Qualcomm, which makes the SoC for all OnePlus phones. It's a special app (yes, it's basically just an app) provided by Qualcomm that a company that makes phones using Qualcomm hardware can use to test features and functions of that Qualcomm hardware during development.

Qualcomm provides this type of app to every company that buys its hardware, though it's tailored to the chipset version a good bit so it can be different from phone to phone. Normally, it is removed when the final shipping software is built and flashed on to retail phones, but sometimes it gets forgotten and left behind. That's what happened here, and a fellow by the name of Elliot Alderson found it in a OnePlus device.

As an aside, it's also been found in one of the ASUS Zenfones, inside an MIUI ROM, in the Redmi 3S and the OnePlus 5T that doesn't officially exist, but everyone already knows has been shown to at least a few people. So seeing it on a retail phone isn't exactly unheard of.

An Android app is like a Zip file

You might already know this, but an Android .apk file is a compressed folder and can be opened with a program like 7 Zip, or even by changing the file extension to .zip and using a regular file browser. Alderson did just that to the engineering app he found, and that gave access to the components of the app including some compiled bytecode — the kind that's pretty easy to decompile. And that's what he did.

A few tools and the right pair of eyes is all it takes to see exactly how most Android apps work.

He found a couple functions of the app that were interesting from a security point of view. One specifically that would give a user admin privileges (root) through the Android Debug Bridge. You'll find the decompiled source of the app here, but the method that's causing all the fuss is labeled as "escalatedup" and you use it by calling it true or false, then providing a password.

If you can provide the right string for the password when you call the method, it sets the system properties "persist.sys.adbroot" and "oem.selinux.reload_policy" to true, which means you have a persistent root access through adb and can change the file system to physically root the device.

And the internet quickly ran with this, because it's awesome and terrifying all at once. Awesome for people who want to root their OnePlus phone without unlocking the bootloader, and terrifying for people who see the word "backdoor" tied to their phone.

The password

Finding an encrypted password isn't easy. But without that password, this app and the method that would grant root access doesn't really do anything. After a bit of work over the weekend, Alderson and some other researchers found it. It's "angela."

With the password in hand, it was as easy as sending the right command and Alderson was then able to do anything he wanted, including adding the files necessary to permanently root the phone. Alderson says he will be releasing a tool so you can do this easily with your own OnePlus phone soon.

What does this mean for people who don't want a rooted phone?

Luckily, not much. It uses ADB so it's very unlikely someone can hack your phone without you knowing. But there is always a chance that someone will be able to exploit this remotely or through another app without you knowing. The fix is easy — OnePlus sends out an update right away that removes the factory engineering app. As in, do it right now.

Another question is why the app was left in the software and if there was any malicious intent behind it. OnePlus has come under fire recently for some unethical data collection. Could they also have placed a backdoor so the can spy on users? Anything's possible, but as mentioned, this isn't the only time we've seen this app get left behind. Still, if this was unintentional it's very sloppy work from the company — and if intentional, calls for tar and feathers sound reasonable.

OnePlus CEO Carl Pei has responded, though it's as non-committal as you'd imagine.

Blaming Qualcomm here is misguided. It simply provides a software test suite that a manufacturer needs to build a phone using their stuff. Hate on Qualcomm for the way its SEPs are priced if you need a reason to hate, not for this.

For its part, a Qualcomm spokesperson issued AC the following statement, saying that the EngineeringMode app was not from the company:

After an in-depth investigation, we have determined that the EngineerMode app in question was not authored by Qualcomm. Although remnants of some Qualcomm source code is evident, we believe that others built upon a past, similarly named Qualcomm testing app that was limited to displaying device information. EngineerMode no longer resembles the original code we provided.

What to do if you find this app on your phone

Look in the app list on your phone by opening the Settings, tapping Apps then tapping Show system apps and see if EngineerMode is on the list. If so, you have this app on your phone and you have two options.

  1. Get in touch with Alderson through Twitter if you want to help see if your phone can be rooted with the engineering app.
  2. Contact the company you bought your phone from so they know that need to do something about it if you'd rather not have a possible exploit in your app list.

There is no guarantee either of these choices will be effective. Encrypted passwords are tough to crack and companies who make and sell Android phones hate to update them. Advanced users could (in theory) use any root exploit to gain elevated privileges then remove the offending app, but all sorts of chaos could happen if not done just the right way. And probably even if you did do it the right way. Unfortunately, this is the only advice we can give.

This isn't something anyone wants to see, especially Google. Expect a fix ... eventually.

The final bit of good news is that Google is surely more unhappy about this than anyone else involved. This is exactly the type of exploit that gets patched every month, and allowing root without unlocking the bootloader defeats several layers of security that Google demands stay intact. Google will certainly pressure OnePlus and others to address this (and likely assist any way they can, because the security team is cool like that). And Google might even make some changes so these kinds of loopholes will stop working in future versions.

For now, though, enjoy this if you want to root your phone. If you don't, be careful what you install and don't panic. At least not yet.

OnePlus 5T and OnePlus 5

OnePlus Amazon

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5 days ago

Best Modular Phone

Moto Z Droid

A modular phone lets you connect accessories to add new features make it even better. Here are the best choices right now.

Best Overall

Moto Z2 Force

See at Verizon Wireless

There can be no doubt that Motorola has built the most successful modular platform to date with its Moto Mods, and the phone these snap-on enhancements shine the brightest is on the new Moto Z2 Force. Motorola took the "shatterproof" design it has been perfecting for the last couple of years and continued its evolution into this phone. It's thinner, yet somehow also more durable than its predecessor. This makes it so you don't need a case for the phone, which means mods can be swapped at will.

It's also a pretty great phone on its own, with specs that easily rival phones in the same price range, but combining the $750 Moto Z2 Force with Moto Mods creates an experience you can't get anywhere else.

Bottom line: Moto does modular support right, with some really interesting and useful mods, and an easy mechanism for swapping them in and out.

One more thing: There's no headphone jack, so you'll need to use a USB-C dongle to connect most headphones to the Moto Z2 Force. #donglelife

Why the Moto Z + Z Force are the best

Modularity done right.

Without the mods, the Moto Z2 Force might have been yet another decent high-end smartphone. But the mods change all that, allowing Moto to build out meaningful functionality in a series of surprisingly great accessories. If you just want to add some visual flair to the phone, Moto's Style Shells are for you. There are a couple of great battery mods available, including wireless charging options. Even the seemingly ludicrous pico projector mod could be useful for road warriors, or the Alexa Mod for when you want an Amazon Echo that follows you around the house.

This is hardware personalization the likes of which have never been possible with a phone before. Who says smartphones are becoming boring?

Best mid-range

Moto Z2 Play

See at Amazon See at Verizon Wireless

The Moto Z2 Play is what you get if you take the central idea of the Moto Z2 and re-engineer it as a really solid mid-range Android phone. It uses Qualcomm's slightly more capable Snapdragon 626 chip, paired with 4GB of RAM and admittedly disappointing 3,000mAh battery, delivering just enough for a full day without a mod. The 5.5-inch AMOLED display gets bumped down to 1080p, but still looks great. And the glass back from the previous generation has been replaced with the more premium metal feel from the more expensive Moto Z2 Force.

Fortunately, the Z Play uses the same ecosystem of mods as the regular Moto Z, so you can expand its functionality just as much as other phones in the series. For $499, you're getting access to an incredible hardware ecosystem.

Bottom line: The Moto Z2 Play is a decent mid-range smartphone even without the mods, but those accessories really elevate the experience.

One More thing: Where the original Moto Z Play was all about the battery, the shining star on the Moto Z2 Play is its camera.

Best non-Moto

Essential PH-1

See at Essential

Essential is a new company and its Freshman effort had a lot of kinks to work out in the first couple of weeks after it launched, but now that time has passed there's no denying what a capable and powerful phone this is. The Essential PH-1 packs a gorgeous edge-to-edge display with a sturdy titanium body and solid battery life. Its camera is just alright most of the time, and you can easily say the same about the speakers. Its a decent phone that will blow your friends away when they see the screen, but using it will quickly reveal it's well worth the reduced $499 price tag.

Along the top corner of this phone there are a pair of attachment pins for modular accessories. Essential claims to have big plans for this accessory slot, but for now the biggest thing you can do is add on a 360-degree camera or drop the phone into a charging dock. This is a healthy start, especially when you see how small and capable the 360-degree camera is, so there's hope more will be available soon.

Bottom-line: Essential has a lot or work to do to be anywhere near as capable a modular setup as Moto's, but it does boast a nice camera and a more hand-friendly form factor.

One more thing: The Essential PH-1 comes in two beautiful colors now, with two more expected to be available soon.

Conclusion

Motorola has taken modular smartphones beyond a mere concept, and shown how you can build out modularity in a way that's easy to use, and adds value. The Moto Z2 Force will both give you the best modular experience available, thanks to snap-on accessories that are simple to attach, and do a bunch of cool stuff. Beyond that, they're just good, enjoyable phones to use in their own right.

Best Overall

Moto Z2 Force

See at Verizon Wireless

There can be no doubt that Motorola has built the most successful modular platform to date with its Moto Mods, and the phone these snap-on enhancements shine the brightest is on the new Moto Z2 Force. Motorola took the "shatterproof" design it has been perfecting for the last couple of years and continued its evolution into this phone. It's thinner, yet somehow also more durable than its predecessor. This makes it so you don't need a case for the phone, which means mods can be swapped at will.

It's also a pretty great phone on its own, with specs that easily rival phones in the same price range, but combining the $750 Moto Z2 Force with Moto Mods creates an experience you can't get anywhere else.

Bottom line: Moto does modular support right, with some really interesting and useful mods, and an easy mechanism for swapping them in and out.

One more thing: There's no headphone jack, so you'll need to use a USB-C dongle to connect most headphones to the Moto Z2 Force. #donglelife

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5 days ago

T-Mobile's $200 REVVL Plus comes with a 6-inch display and dual cameras

10

T-Mobile's REVVL Plus delivers a big screen on a budget.

T-Mobile unveiled its first self-branded phone — the REVVL — back in August, and the company is now following up with a Plus variant. Like the standard model, the REVVL Plus is aimed at the budget segment, featuring a 6-inch Full HD panel along with dual cameras at the back.

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5 days ago

Should you upgrade from the LG G6 to Pixel 2?

32

The LG G6 and Pixel 2 are both solid phones in their own right, and as such, trying to pick between the two can be difficult.

There have been a lot of great smartphones this year, but because devices such as the Galaxy S8 and iPhone X tend to steal a good chunk of the limelight, it can be easy to let a lot of other solid devices slip under your radar. For a lot of people, the LG G6 was one such phone.

You can now pick up the G6 for as little as $399 if you know where to look, and for that price, you're getting one heck of a phone. Along with its 18:9 display and minimal bezels, the G6 also features a solid dual-camera setup, slick design, and snappy performance.

However, as great of a deal as the phone currently is, spending a bit more cash to get the Pixel 2 just might be worth it. Here's what some of our forum users had to say.

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Almeuit 11-13-2017 10:14 AM “

I didn't mind my G6 when I had it... except for the camera. In low light and even mild light I had issues with some major lag/blur. Other then that it was fun (especially the wide angle lens). If I had a choice though my Pixel 2 XL would be my choice still simply due to updates + better camera performance.

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Morty2264 11-13-2017 10:36 AM “

I can certainly understand how you are feeling, OP. With all the great phones out there, it's so hard to land and stick with just one. The G6 is awesome but yes, the Pixel 2 series... That's an amazing lineup of phones. The Pixel 2 (smaller version), to my knowledge, does not have the screen issues that some Pixel 2 XL's have. I'm in the mixed camp when it comes to the Pixel 2 XL. Yes,...

Reply
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Jeremiah Bonds 11-13-2017 12:22 PM “

G6 was my wife's favorite phone and I think she still kind of prefers it over the Pixel 2xl. But that's her, everyone is entitled to their opinions.

Reply
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bhatech 11-13-2017 11:04 AM “

G6 was one of the worst flagships I have owned this year, crappy front facing camera and software. Even Samsung software is 1000 times better than what LG puts. LG is just a wanna be Samsung. If you are coming from G6 Pixel 2 is like a great upgrade. I know G6 gets lots of praise mostly it's priced low and everyone seems to have sympathy for LG because it's an underdog. But personally not a big...

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Now, we'd like to hear from you – Do you think it's worth upgrading to the Pixel 2 from the LG G6?

Join the conversation in the forums!

LG G6

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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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5 days ago

Nougat is now installed on 20.6% of active Android devices

7

Nougat is making steady gains, but Marshmallow is still the most-used version of Android.

A year after its release, Nougat is now installed on 20.6% of active Android devices. Android 7.0 Nougat has a 17.6% market share, with 7.1 coming in at 3%. Oreo made its first appearance last month with a 2% market share, and a month later it's at 0.3%. With few devices outside the Pixels, Nexus devices, and the Xperia XZ1 running Oreo, it'll be a while before we see any tangible gains for the latest version of Android.

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5 days ago

Xiaomi joins Samsung at the top of India's smartphone segment

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Xiaomi catches up with Samsung to become India's largest smartphone brand.

The Indian smartphone segment is booming. According to IDC, over 39 million smartphones were shipped in Q3 2017, an increase of 40% from the second quarter of 2017 and a 21% uptick from Q3 2016. As a result, India accounted for 10% of all smartphone shipments around the world.

The quarter also saw a drastic uptick in sales from e-commerce stores, with a third of all shipments attributed to online storefronts. Samsung and Xiaomi predictably led the way for sales, with both brands now tied for first place in the Indian smartphone segment.

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6 days ago

Pixel 2 and 2 XL exhibit flickering when using the camera under LED lights

58

The issue is only affecting some users, but it's unclear at the time if software will be able to fix it.

There have been more than a few bugs with the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL since their release last month, and while display controversy surrounding the XL model received the most attention, we've seen other issues here and there that have proven to be equally annoying. Most recently, users are reporting that the camera on the Pixel 2/2XL exhibits a flickering motion when taking a photo or video under LED lights.

So, what exactly is going on here?

All LED lights have a natural flicker that ranges from 50 to 60Hz, and it's something that's not perceivable to the human eye. However, certain cameras are capable of picking up this flickering and display it over what you're trying to capture. As fate would have it, the sensor on the Pixel 2 is one such camera.

It's a bit difficult to describe exactly what's going on with words, so to make things a bit more clear, take a look at this video that was recently uploaded to YouTube by apa1.

This phenomenon was also discovered by Chazzdjr in the Pixel User Community, with images captured on a plane turning out as follows:

A couple of representatives from Google have stated that they're aware of the issue and will make sure that the right people see what's going on. I personally can't replicate the flickering on my Pixel 2, and according to other users, this is something that's only affecting certain handsets. It's unclear if a software update will be able to fix this, so we'll have to wait and see what the Mothership says.

Google Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL

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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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