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1 month ago

Flipkart is selling the Galaxy S7 for just ₹29,990 in India

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Grab the Galaxy S7 for just ₹29,990 at Flipkart.

The Galaxy S7 is a year and a half old at this point, but the phone has aged very well. It has one of the best cameras available, and comes with IP68 dust and water resistance along with wireless charging. The phone routinely sells for around ₹40,000 ($620), but Flipkart is now offering the device for just ₹29,990 ($465) as part of its Big Billion Days sale.

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1 month ago

Google is spending $1.1 billion to hire HTC's best smartphone talent

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Google has made a strategic investment in HTC, and is hiring its best phone engineers.

After intense speculation and lots of pontificating by tech pundits, Google has made it official: it's going into business with HTC.

But instead of buying HTC's phone business outright, Google has "signed an agreement with HTC, a leader in consumer electronics, [to hire] a team of HTC talent [to] join Google as part of the hardware organization. These future fellow Googlers are amazing folks we've already been working with closely on the Pixel smartphone line, and we're excited to see what we can do together as one team. The deal also includes a non-exclusive license for HTC intellectual property."

The announcement, made by Rick Osterloh, who heads Google's nascent hardware division, notes that his company has been working closely with HTC since the early days of Android. Notable devices from those early days include the T-Mobile G1, the Nexus One, the Nexus 9, and the Pixel. HTC is expected to be manufacturing the Pixel 2 for Google this year, too.

It's still early days for Google's hardware business. We're focused on building our core capabilities, while creating a portfolio of products that offers people a unique yet delightful experience only made possible by bringing together the best of Google software—like the Google Assistant—with thoughtfully designed hardware. HTC has been a longtime partner and has created some of the most beautiful, high-end devices on the market. We can't wait to welcome members of the HTC team to join us on this journey.

The financial details are a bit more sedate — $1.1 billion in cash — than the $12.5 billion Google paid for Motorola back in 2012. Google will reporteldy receive over 2,000 HTC employees, many of which will move over to Google's Taiwanese offices.

It appears that HTC will continue to operate as an independent entity, both as a maker of VR hardware under its Vive division, and as a smartphone maker, too, though in what capacity remains to be seen. HTC CEO Cher Wang said in a press release that her company is preparing for its next flagship already, and that this positions the company well for the future.

The move gives Google "non-exclusive" access to many of HTC's most valuable intellectual property, allowing it to iterate on future smartphones, likely in the Pixel line, for years to come. It also paves the way for developing future Pixel phones within the company itself, ensuring even more control over the hardware and the Android software. It's also believed that Google is working on its own silicon for the Pixel line, with the aim of eventually pushing Qualcomm out as the SoC provider in its flagship phones.

This agreement also supports HTC's continued branded smartphone strategy, enabling a more streamlined product portfolio, greater operational efficiency and financial flexibility. HTC will continue to have best-in-class engineering talent, which is currently working on the next flagship phone.

For HTC, the $1.1 billion amounts to a bailout of sorts after its revenue continued to dive in its most recent quarter. As good as its HTC U11 flagship has been received by the media, it hasn't sold well, and HTC has been looking for months to divest itself of some of its excess in exchange for a much-needed cash injection. Google, which relies on HTC's design and manufacturing facilities to build its Pixel phone, was likely the best suitor, since few companies want to take on the maintenance-intensive manufacturing facilities that HTC has on its books.

The deal is expected to close in early 2018 after it clears regulatory hurdles in the U.S. and Taiwan.

What do you think of this announcement? Should Google have bought HTC outright, or does this deal work in its favor? Let us know in the comments below!

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1 month ago

U.S. carriers offer free calls, texts and data after Hurricane Maria and Mexico City earthquake

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Carriers are offering free calls, texts and data following Hurricane Maria and the latest Mexican earthquake.

As Hurricane Maria continues to make its way along the East Coast of the United States (after already destroying numerous Carribean islands), AT&T and T-Mobile have announced they will be waiving fees for calls and text messages sent to affected areas, as well as offering unlimited calls, texts and data to customers inside the affected regions. We have not heard if Verizon or Sprint will offer similar service, but we will update this post if and when we receive that news.

At the same time, T-Mobile, AT&T and Verizon have released statements saying that customers could make free calls and/or send free text messages to Mexico following yet another deadly earthquake. AT&T also stated that Mexican customers would be able to access free calling, texting and data. Again, we will update this post if Sprint makes a similar offer.

Regardless of service fees, those with friends and family in the affected regions need to contact them and make sure they're okay. Keep in mind that as the cellular towers are highly congested as with any natural disaster, a text is going to have an easier time getting through than a call.

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1 month ago

Best VPN apps for Android

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Keep your browsing secure and anonymous with a quality VPN service.

Using a Virtual Private Network (VPN) when you're online is becoming increasingly important these days. While the internet is a public space, a VPN acts like an invisibility cloak and makes your online activity virtually anonymous, making it hard for someone to track you when you're online — whether you're concerned about your internet service provider, the government, or malicious hackers.

We've previously looked at the best VPN services across all platforms, but here we're going to specifically look at VPNs for your Android devices. These are apps that are free to download, but typically require you to pay a monthly or yearly subscription. We've run down the best, so check it out!

IP Vanish Nord VPN Express VPN PIA VPN Vyper VPN VPN Unlimited Who It's For Everyone Everyone Everyone Everyone Everyone Everyone Free Version? 7-day Money Back 3-day Trial 30-day Trial 7-day Money Back 3-day Trial 7-day Trial Lowest Price $5.19/​month $5.75/​month $8.32/​month $3.33/​month $5/​month $150/​lifetime Ad Blocking? No Yes No Yes No Yes Server Count 850+ 1350+ 1500+ 3200+ 700+ 1000+ P2P Allowed On P2P Servers Allowed Allowed Not Allowed On P2P Servers Connections 5 6 3 5 5 5 Router? Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Anonymous Payment? Yes Yes Yes Yes No Yes */ /*-->*/

Not sure if you need a VPN? We've got your explainer right here.

IP Vanish

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IPVanish VPN

There's a number of great reasons to go with IPVanish for your VPN services — and one reason that might give you pause.

First, the good: IPVanish features solid encryption, unlimited bandwidth, and lets you connect up to five devices simultaneously. The Android app offers a clean dark theme and is easy to use for beginners, with features that advanced users will appreciate. Connecting to and switching between servers is quick and easy as well making the overall user experience pretty great.

The only downside is that it's all based out of the U.S., which means there's a possibility of IPVanish being pressured to release user information to an outside agency with little to no advance notice to users.

Check out Cale Hunt's full review of the service via the Windows 10 app on Windows Central, or learn more at IPVanish.

Download: IPVanish VPN (Free, $10/month, $26.99/3 months, $77.99/year subscription)

Private Internet Access VPN

For those who are new to using a VPN, one of the most important features will be an easy-to-use interface. You want something as easy as flipping a switch. Private Internet Access offers just that, with an extremely simple Android app. Best of all, a yearly subscription is around $40, which is one of the lowest prices you'll find for a premium VPN.

Private Internet Access uses over 3,000 servers in 24 different countries and has received numerous nominations as one of the best commercial VPNs you can use. They don't log any of your online activity and the app is compatible not only with your Android devices, but also any computers running Windows, macOS or Linux.

Learn more at Private Internet Access.

Download: VPN by Private Internet Access (Free, $39.99/year or $6.95/month subscription)

ExpressVPN

ExpressVPN is another highly-rated premium VPN service that has been praised for its customer service and includes all the features you'd expect from a top-rated VPN such as unlimited bandwidth, unlimited speed, and strong encryption. You're able to connect up to three devices simultaneously via ExpressVPNs thousands of servers in more than 94 different countries.

The app for Android is easy to use for beginners, with settings and features that heavy users will appreciate. Subscriptions are a bit pricier but ExpressVPN offers a 7-day free trial and a no-hassle, 100% money-back guarantee for your first 30 days of service, so you can try it out for yourself.

Learn more at ExpressVPN.

Download: ExpressVPN (Free, $99.95/year, or $12.95/month subscription)

NordVPN

NordVPN is a great option if you're looking for an encrypted connection for up to six devices. Operated out of Panama, NordVPN has no legal obligation to record the activity of its users, so you can confidently connect to one of more than 1000 servers in 57 different countries.

It, too, comes highly recommended from a variety of outlets including CNET and PCMag, with an app for Android that's dead simple to use. Connect to a server with the press of a button and keep your phone protected when browsing on public Wi-Fi.

You can try NordVPN for free with a 7-day trial before deciding whether to commit to a subscription.

Learn more at NordVPN.

Download: NordVPN (Free, $69/year or $11.95/month subscription)

TunnelBear VPN

Don't mistake the cartoony layout of TunnelBear VPN's Android app — it's a simple-to-use app that offers serious VPN protection. You can create an account for free, which gives you 500MB of secure data a month but we'd recommend checking out a paid subscription that lets you connect up to five different devices at a time to servers in 20 different countries.

The Android app is actually fun to use, and you got to give TunnelBear credit for really doubling down on its name by really running with the concept. TunnelBear does not currently support torrenting, so if that's an important feature you're best to look elsewhere. If you're only looking for a casual VPN for your phone, TunnelBear is a great free option with affordable pricing for upgrading to the premium service.

Learn more at TunnelBear VPN.

Download: TunnelBear VPN (Free, $59.88/year or $9.99/month subscription)

Updated September 2017: Added IPVanish VPN to our list.

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1 month ago

Top Galaxy Note 8 camera tips and tricks

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The Galaxy Note 8 has one of the best camera systems out there. Here's what you need to know about it.

It's funny: the Galaxy S8 and S8+ have cameras that can compete with the best phones out there, but because they weren't huge leaps in image quality, speed, and features from the Galaxy S7 they weren't really given a lot of attention. That's a shame, because despite having a single 12MP sensor, the Galaxy S8 series takes some of the best photos I've ever seen.

Given Samsung's predilection for using its Note line to make sizeable improvements to its hardware, pushing the entire company forward into new territory, it would seem disappointing that on paper the Note 8 doesn't do this. Sure, it adds a second sensor and optically stabilized telephoto lens, but do people really want to take photos at twice the distance, or kludgy portraits with artificial background blur?

Actually, yes. And the Note 8 does a tremendous job at both while maintaining the extremely high quality of photos and videos from its main sensor.

In fact, the Note 8's cameras may be among the best across the Android ecosystem. Read on to find out why.

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The main camera speaks for itself

Even if the Galaxy Note 8 didn't come with a second camera, it would still have a primary sensor that rivals the top phones on the market.

Samsung began using an updated 12MP Sony sensor with the Galaxy S8 series (contrary to early rumors that it reused the same sensor from the S7) which amounted to subtle improvements in most scenarios. The Note 8 builds on that with the same excellent pedigree and a few months of additional engineering. While most photos are going to be indistinguishable from the S8, there are minor improvements to be found in the speed at which the camera app opens, both from a cold open (upon, say, a phone restart) and when cached (after using it several times), thanks in large part to software improvements to the camera app and the additional two gigabytes of RAM.

This is the kind of shot you can expect from the Note 8 without trying too hard.

In our tests, the Galaxy Note 8 put out photos that were incredibly warm, rich in color, and sharp, with the software correctly choosing the shutter speed and exposure settings for a given scenario. Like the S8, the Note 8 is a camera that I consistently feel comfortable about shooting with, where I will likely get a good, usable shot most of the time. And in more challenging scenarios, the manual mode is among the best out there, with support for custom metering and autofocus points — things that are usually reserved for more expensive mirrorless and DSLR cameras.

Try Live Focus — it's a gimmick, but a good one

Galaxy Note 8 (left) / iPhone 7 Plus (right)

I present to you two photos. The left was taken using Live Focus mode on the Galaxy Note 8; the right was taken using Portrait Mode on the iPhone 7 Plus. (Yes, there's an iPhone 8 Plus coming out shortly, and we'll take another look at the two phones then.)

You can tell that the iPhone's Portrait effect is much more severe, blurring a considerable amount more of the background by default than Samsung's. The good news is that the Note 8 allows for real-time adjustment of background blur, which is helpful when trying to find the right balance between realism and effect. On the other hand, even the heaviest of effect does not quite match the iPhone's.

The iPhone's Portrait Mode may look better to the average person, but it's also a lot more artificial.

The Note 8's Live Focus mode uses the secondary camera to create a true three-dimensional depth map that attempts to distinguish a foreground subject from the background; this isn't dissimilar to having a camera lens with a very narrow depth of field that creates bokeh, except that this is artificial because the phone's sensor is tiny and the lens is even tinier.

This is very cool stuff, and even though it's Samsung's first attempt at the thing, I think it's done a great job overall. There are scenarios where the edges of the subject are a little ... clipped ... leading to some interesting results, but that doesn't happen too often. And between the three photos above, while I like the iPhone 7 Plus's results better, the Note 8 isn't far behind — and Apple has a year of updates behind its belt (these photos were taken running the iOS 11 Public Beta).

Zoom in — really far

I'm not joking when I say that I hate digital zoom. It's a bad tool and people should feel bad for using it. Obviously, I'm kidding, but the reality is that, when there's no actual lens movement happening, digital zoom amounts to cropping.

Except on phones with telephoto lenses like the Note 8. Sure, the lens isn't exactly telephoto, but it is about double the focal length of the primary camera, which allows for lossless photos at twice the distance, and considerable less loss at up to ten times the difference. See below.

Galaxy Note 8 @ 1x, 2x, 10x

In other words, you shouldn't be afraid to zoom using the Galaxy Note 8, which may not happen a whole lot, but the results you get — say at a wedding, when everyone is craning to get that perfect shot — are sure to come out better than your friend's single-camera device.

Galaxy Note 8 @ 10x (left) / iPhone 7 Plus @ 10x (right)

As an added bonus, here's a comparison between the Note 8 and the iPhone 7 Plus at 10x. You can (hopefully) see the advantages of the improved sensor in the lower noise in the sky and the more-legible text of the billboard. Again, the iPhone 8 Plus is around the corner, but it's nice to know that the Note 8 holds its own in this regard.

Take the slo-mo out for a spin

720p at 240fps. That's what you can look forward to with the Galaxy Note 8's slow motion (or slo-mo) mode. It's quite an accomplishment, and the results are pretty stunning.

But Samsung also makes it pretty easy to find the slo-mo mode, and stupid easy to use, which is great. Better yet, there are extensive video editing features within Samsung's Gallery app, which has silently improved over last year's Galaxy models with nary a mention. It's definitely worth exploring the editing features to make sure you're getting best results you want from your video.

Take advantage of built-in photo-editing

Speaking of editing, there are even more features to improve your photos hidden in Samsung's Gallery app. While basic features like rotation, cropping, and filters are available through the default editing suite, tapping the menu button and opening the photo in Photo Editor Pro lets you make fine changes to images, including the adjustment of the tone curve, specific colors, and backlight — modes that one would regularly see in professional editing suites like Lightroom.

And they're quite good — I've improved many photos using Samsung's Photo Editor Pro. I just wish they weren't hidden away in a menu.

Don't be afraid to take low-light shots

Note the subject matter on the left 😂

The Note 8 has a 12MP main camera sensor with a f/1.7 lens and a secondary 12MP sensor with a f/2.4 lens. Both are optically stabilized.

This means that you should be able to get a great photo in any lighting condition regardless of the presence of hand movement, or when you want to zoom in on something using that second camera. Some of my favorite low light shots ever have been taken on the Note 8 in recent days.

Having OIS on the second lens means that the Note 8 is more likely to let it take a shot in low light rather than default back to the primary lens with digital zoom.

Try the other modes

If you swipe right in the camera app, you get to try a few of the additional camera features long-time users of the Note series will be used to. From Food and Sports modes to Hyperlapse and the aforementioned Slow motion, they're all there. But there's one you may want to take advantage of every once in a while: Animated GIF.

If you don't want to mess around with a third-party app that may or may not work properly, you can create a GIF from directly in the camera app. All you need to do is download the mode from the Galaxy Apps store, which requires a Samsung account login.

Make sure Quick Launch is enabled

The fastest and easiest way to quickly enter the Note 8's camera app from anywhere — the lock screen, or any app — is Quick Launch. By default, you can quickly double-tap the power button on the right side of the phone to get to the camera, and because there is 6GB of RAM inside the phone, doing so should always be fast.

Enjoy it!

My pup, Zadie, captured using Live Focus.

Here's a bonus: take lots of photos, and don't be afraid to fill up that 64GB of storage (or, even better, your unlimited free Google Photos storage) with lots of images and videos you may not think you want. Because that's how you become a better photographer over time.

If you have a kid (or a dog), or something else in your life you just love taking photos of, the Note 8 is going to be a great companion. While I love the wide-angle second camera in the LG V30, and I appreciate the monochrome sensor in the Huawei P10 Plus, I understand why people love the iPhone's Portrait Mode, because something like it on the Note 8 has been a terrific addition to my photographic arsenal.

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Note 8 cameras: Everything you need to know

Samsung Galaxy Note 8

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1 month ago

The latest Sony flagship without a fingerprint sensor is now available in the U.S.

29

Sony's fall flagship is now available in the U.S.

Back late August, I got to take a look at Sony's new Xperia XZ1 and XZ1 Compact, and they're great. They do all the things a smartphone should do in 2017, and they look pretty good. They even have this awesome 3D mapping feature that lets you recreate your face on your phone. It's neat.

The larger of the two phones, the Xperia XZ1, is now available in the U.S. through Amazon. It's unlocked and works with AT&T, T-Mobile and a bunch of smaller alternative carriers that rely on their networks, but it won't work on Verizon or Sprint. It also doesn't have a fingerprint sensor in the U.S. because of a continuing legal issue with an unnamed entity called Verizon.

That's all well and good, but this phone costs $699.99 from Amazon, which may appear inexpensive compared to recent launches like the Galaxy Note 8, but it's still a lot of money to pay for a phone that lacks a fundamentally important part of the smartphone experience. At least in my opinion.

Should you disagree, it's shipping now and is available in four very nice colors, including my favorite, Moonlit Blue.

If you want something a bit more exciting — still without a fingerprint, but exciting nonetheless — you'll want to wait until mid-October, when the Xperia XZ1 Compact comes out. It's $100 cheaper, and really powerful for a small device.

See at Amazon

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2 months ago

LG V30 gets torn down, shows impressive camera hardware

32

JerryRigEverything has torn down the LG V30, showing all the internal components.

While it hasn't been released yet, the LG V30 has already been making waves with reviewers. Alex said in his review of the device that it was a no-BS flagship: everything a user may want without any compromises or gimmicks. As we get closer to the release of the phone, more and more journalists are getting their hands on the device.

JerryRigEverything has done his customary tear down of the V30, and there are more great things about the phone to report. The video is sponsored by LG, so make of that what you will. The video begins with some impressive shots of New York City, recorded on the V30. While the phone is waterproof, it was fairly easy to get into with the proper equipment. There isn't too much in the way of adhesive, and all the components are held in place with clips.

The video notes the primary camera contains a 10-bit HDR image sensor, though it uses that extra data not to record HDR video but to improve the colors of existing wide-gamut video. JerryRigEverything notes that the cameras may be the most advanced mobile sensor, but given the sponsored nature of the video, take that with a grain of salt. The USB-C port is held in place with screws, meaning it can be replaced down the road if need be.

One interesting feature is the fact that the earpiece speaker can be used as a microphone if recording audio above 100 decibels, meaning live recordings should sound fantastic. The battery is replaceable, though it is held in place with adhesive. This is still more hassle than the removable battery previous LG phones had, but it's better than nothing. All the components were able to be plugged back in at the end and the phone turned on just fine. While it'd be tedious and would require the correct tools, users should technically be able to repair the device.

Are you looking forward to the LG V30? Let us know down below!

LG V30

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2 months ago

Huawei's Mate 10 shows its face in public for the first time

25

This is the Huawei Mate 10, and it looks familiar.

We're nearing the end of the year — not in terms of months, but in terms of phone releases. Most companies want to get their devices into the hands of consumers by the holiday season, which only gives them until about mid- to late-October to do so. After the Pixels launch on October 4, the final flagship to look forward to (at least that we know of) is Huawei's Mate 10.

The company poked a bit of fun at Apple's iPhone X Face ID in a recent Facebook post, claiming that the Mate 10, which will be unveiled on October 16, is "The Real AI Phone."

Now we're seeing the Mate 10's visage for the first time thanks to Evan Blass. While unremarkable, the phone certainly shrinks the bezels from even the minor top and bottom protrusions of the Mate 9, and certainly brings Huawei into the same league as Samsung and LG. The phone promises to be extremely powerful thanks to a new Kirin 970 chip, which has an onboard neural processing unit to take care of machine learning and AI.

Huawei Mate 9: Big, bold, and beautiful nine months later

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2 months ago

Motorola is bringing the Moto X4 to India on Oct 3

7

The Moto X4 will be debuting early next month in India.

India is Motorola's largest market, so it's no surprise that the company is getting ready to introduce the Moto X4 in the country early next month. According to a tweet posted by Motorola India, the Moto X4 will be making its debut in India on October 3.

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2 months ago

Pixel and Nexus owners, how's the Oreo update holding up?

184

The Oreo update has been out for a few weeks now. How's it going so far?

The Google Pixel received Android 8.0 Oreo on August 21, though thousands of people had been using it in Developer Preview form for longer than that.

Still, a finished Android version is sure to attract a lot of attention, even from average folks whose lives don't revolve around the comings and goings of updates named after sweet treats. And while Android 8.0 Oreo is only available for five devices — the Pixel, Pixel XL, Nexus 6P, Nexus 5X, and Pixel C tablet — it's been long enough now that we can reasonably evaluate its success or failure based on a number of metrics.

Besides a few minor issues, Oreo seems to be a solid update so far.

Personally, I've had some issues with Oreo on my Pixel XL. Bluetooth has never been great on the Pixel, but Oreo promised improvements; alas, those don't seem to have been included in my bundle. Indeed, I've had tremendous trouble keeping various Bluetooth headphones and speakers connected without stuttering and dropouts, even when the device is close by. Occasionally I even lose the connection altogether and have to re-pair the Pixel to the headphones to continue playing wirelessly.

Another issue I've had, which could just be my phone, is a lack of incoming text messages. Doesn't matter if I'm using the default Messages app or something like Facebook Messenger or Textra, SMS are just not getting through. Removing the SIM and putting it in another phone resolves the problem. This wasn't an issue prior to the update to Oreo, but I took this phone through the Developer Previews, which could have installed some gremlins. I'm going to factory reset my Pixel XL to see if it resolves things on that end.

Other than those two minor issues, Oreo has been a solid update so far. Performance is good, apps run well (even those that haven't been updated to support Oreo's new features) and I really like some of the user-facing changes, like Adaptive Icons and improvements to notifications (including the divisive colored media notifications).

So, how's it going for you? Any issues that we should know about? How's battery life holding up post-Oreo? Let us know in the comments below!

Android Oreo

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2 months ago

Top 5 LG V30 camera features

20

Even as phones become more homogenized and samey, there's one big area left for high-end flagships to stand out: the cameras.

The new LG V30 has one of the most compelling photographic feature sets we've seen in an Android phone this year. LG's new flagship boasts dual cameras with bright lenses (in both regular and wide-angle flavors), in addition to new manual shooting capabilities and the most comprehensive video feature set we've seen in an Android phone to date.

In our latest video, we take a run through the top five V30 camera features you need to know about — including one bonus feature that makes for fantastic Instagram-ready collages.

LG V30

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2 months ago

How to completely disable the Bixby button

99

How do I disable the Bixby button on the S8 and Note 8?

Samsung has pushed out an update to Bixby for the Galaxy S8 and Note 8 that allows users to completely disable the functionality completely. This means that once the button is pressed (the button itself ain't going away), it doesn't do anything. This is a long time coming for many phone owners not exactly enamored with Samsung's decision to include such a button, but it's the best we're going to get.

And if you're using Samsung's TouchWIZ Home launcher, you can easily disable Bixby from showing up on the home screen, too, further hiding the feature from the phone.

Why do you want to disable Bixby?

One of the biggest frustrations with the Bixby button is its placement; the button is right under the volume keys and nearly directly opposite the power buttons. On larger phones like the Galaxy S8+ and Note 8, this often leads to accidental presses and unintended Bixby launches, especially when double-pressing the power button to launch the camera.

The Bixby button is also not mappable to another action; Samsung wants you to use it for Bixby, or not at all. This isn't ideal, so many people will inevitably choose to just forget it exists and move on.

Want to just disable Bixby Voice? You can!

How to disable the Bixby button entirely

It's easy to disable the Bixby button, as long as you have the latest version of Bixby, which as of writing is version 2.0.03.3.

  1. Press the Bixby button.
  2. If prompted to accept update, update Bixby. (If not, see alternate instructions below.)
  3. Slide Bixby key toggle to off.

That's it! The Bixby button should be completely disabled now, so accidental presses shouldn't do anything. Rejoice! But what if you're not prompted to update Bixby, and that toggle isn't at the top of the screen when you open Bixby? Because the app automatically updates, you may not get the prompt, so here's how to disable the Bixby button from the settings.

  1. Press the Bixby button.
  2. In the top right, tap the three dot menu button.
  3. Tap Settings.
  4. Scroll down to Bixby key. Tap on it.
  5. Set to Don't open anything.

If you don't want the Bixby button to do anything, you'll have to disable Bixby Voice (if it's enabled in your location) which will also prevent an errant long press from accidentally activating the voice assistant.

How to disable Bixby Home from the TouchWIZ launcher

Now, the final step to disabling Bixby entirely is to disable Bixby Home access from the TouchWIZ launcher which, by default, puts it on the left-most home screen panel.

  1. From the home screen, hold down on empty space until the menu appears.
  2. Swipe to the right to reach the left home panel.
  3. Disable Bixby Home.

That's it! Now neither the Bixby button nor the Bixby Home screen will work and you can move on with your life, Bixby-free.

Should you want to access Bixby again, though, you'll need to follow these steps in reserve, first enabling Bixby Home from the launcher and then the Bixby button from inside the menu.

Questions? Comments?

Got any questions about this process, or just want to share your sheer joy at being able to disable Bixby? Let us know in the comments below!

Samsung Galaxy Note 8

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2 months ago

Cheapest Phones for Seniors

Best overall

Moto E4

See at Amazon

The Moto E4 is a perfect size and has great, easy to use software so you can keep in touch without any of the frills, or install apps from the Google Play Store if you want a bit more. And best of all, the price is right: you can pick up the Moto E4 for about $130 unlocked and ready to use with any phone carrier in the U.S. If you're an Amazon Prime customer, you can also buy a version with Amazon ads and offers on the lock screen for just $100.

The bright 5-inch HD display is paired with a four-core processor and 2GB of memory to keep up with almost anything. The 8 megapixel camera is paired with a 5 megapixel front-facing camera so you'll be able to take great photos and videos, and the space for a removable SD card means you'll never run out of space to keep taking them. And sharing those photos is a breeze with the high-speed LTE network radios the Moto E4 processor delivers.

Android 7.1.1 also offers great accessibility features like a screen magnifier or text-to-speech reader if you need a little help in low light or in general. Other features include a fingerprint reader so you can keep things like your messages and banking information locked away safely where only you have access.

Bottom line: The Moto E4 is the perfect balance of features and price in a great compact package.

One more thing: The Moto E4 is splash-resistant and has a scratch-resistant screen to keep it safe in your pocket or bag.

Why the Moto E4 is best

More than your money's worth.

There's a market for folks who want a phone that can not only keep you in touch with friends and family but is powerful enough to also do things like balance your bank account or use Facebook, and the Moto E4 is at the top of it.

Packed full of friendly features yet easy to use, the Moto E4 is a phone you'll want to take with you everywhere. And with the option to use any company you like for phone service, you'll have the freedom to do it. And the Moto E4 doesn't forget that you're also supposed to be able to make calls! The perfect size to hold against your ear and dual-microphones with a built-in active noise canceling feature means calls a clear on both ends so you won't miss a single word.

Motorola's software is unintrusive and easy to use, and full support for the Google Play Store gives you over 2 million apps to choose from once you decide you want to do more. It's hard to believe you can get this much phone for $130.

Cheapest for Verizon Prepaid

Moto G Play

See at Amazon

Users of Verizon's pre-paid service have a really great option with the Moto G Play. And it's only $40!

With many of the same features of our top pick, like an 8MP camera (rear) and space for removable SD card storage, the Moto G Play uses a Qualcomm Snapdragon processor optimized for Verizon's high-speed prepaid network. Introduced in late 2016, the Moto G Play is still a great phone and at $40 it's the clear choice for anyone who needs an easy to use a phone with Verizon service.

Bottom-line: The Moto G Play offers an incredible value for Verizon prepaid service.

One more thing: The Moto G Play also has a removable 2800 mAh battery so you can carry a spare!

Best battery life

ASUS ZenFone 3 MAX

See at Amazon

The ASUS ZenFone 3 MAX is like buying a phone and a portable battery all at once. And you can buy it for about $125! (For AT&T and T-Mobile only.)

The ZenFone 3 MAX has great features like a 13MP rear camera and a 5.2-inch HD display, but the real star of the show it the 4,100 mAh battery. You won't have to worry about not being able to spend the whole day away from the charger, and ASUS has estimated the phone will last an amazing 30 days in standby mode. There's even a dedicated Super-Saving mode to delivers 36-hours of standby time after the battery level reaches 10%.

With this much battery on-board, ASUS also includes a cable so you can charge another phone using the ZenFone 3 MAX as a power bank.

Bottom line: A dead cell phone is no use to anyone. You won't have to worry about it with a ZenFone 3 MAX.

One more thing: The fingerprint sensor also acts as a camera button so you won't need to tap the screen to get a great photo.

Conclusion

The Moto E4 is one of the best values of any phone you can buy right now, and Motorola's software keeps things simple and easy to use. And full access to over 2 million apps in the Google Play Store means you can add more if you want to, at your own pace.

Best overall

Moto E4

See at Amazon

The Moto E4 is a perfect size and has great, easy to use software so you can keep in touch without any of the frills, or install apps from the Google Play Store if you want a bit more. And best of all, the price is right: you can pick up the Moto E4 for about $130 unlocked and ready to use with any phone carrier in the U.S. If you're an Amazon Prime customer, you can also buy a version with Amazon ads and offers on the lock screen for just $100.

The bright 5-inch HD display is paired with a four core Snapdragon processor and 2GB of memory to keep up with almost anything. The 8 megapixel camera is paired with a 5 megapixel front-facing camera so you'll be able to take great photos and videos, and the space for a removable SD card means you'll never run out of space to keep taking them. And sharing those photos is a breeze with the high-speed LTE network radios the Qualcomm processor delivers.

Android 7.1.1 also offers great accessibility features like a screen magnifier or text-to-speech reader if you need a little help in low light or in general. Other features include a fingerprint reader so you can keep things like your messages and banking information locked away safely where only you have access.

Bottom line: The Moto E4 is the perfect balance of features and price in a great compact package.

One more thing: The Moto E4 is splash-resistant and has a scratch-resistant screen to keep it safe in your pocket or bag.

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2 months ago

Samsung Galaxy S8 vs. Galaxy S8 Active: What's the difference?

16
Galaxy S8 Active vs. Galaxy S8

Which version of the Galaxy S8 is the one to buy?

Samsung has continued the trend of releasing an "Active" version of its latest mass-market flagship a handful of months later, and the Galaxy S8 Active is the least compromised Active model yet. It thankfully shares a vast majority of the components, features and experience with a standard Galaxy S8 — and that's a definite selling point compared to the rest of the rugged phone market.

So how does the Galaxy S8 Active compare to its standard counterpart? We're here to lay out all of the differences, big and small.

What's the same

As we went into detail on in our complete Galaxy S8 Active review, one of the best features of the phone is that it behaves and performs like the standard Galaxy S8 in just about every way. It's built on the exact same platform of specs, with the same exact software features and hardware components. You won't notice a difference in daily use no matter which one you pick up, and that's wonderful.

In daily use, these phones are identical.

The Galaxy S8 has its fans and its skeptics, but the general feeling on the phone is that it's fast and super-capable in terms of the raw number of software features it offers. Being an AT&T-exclusive phone (for now) you'll have to deal with some extra bloatware and small superfluous software changes, but you get that on an AT&T-branded Galaxy S8 as well. The camera continues to perform with the best in the industry, with a great consistency you don't always get even in high-end phones.

More: Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+ specs

A Snapdragon 835 processor is still the top of the line, and 4GB of RAM is more than enough. 64GB of storage remains on the Active, and you keep an SD card slot as well. Despite the rugged exterior you don't have to deal with any additional flaps or port coverings, either — you even keep the 3.5 mm headphone jack. Its thick back case still gives you wireless charging as well. Even though it's more actively styled the GS8 Active has the same IP68 water and dust resistance, but that's still the standard we can realistically expect on mass-market phones.

What's different

You can probably guess that the biggest difference here is the external hardware design. The GS8 Active is indeed very rugged, and not in the way a standard GS8 can be tough with the addition of a big case — there's an extra bit of security about knowing that the exterior rubber and tough plastic is part of the phone. There are big bumpers on the corners, notable extra thickness throughout, a housing surrounding the camera and a tough plastic textured back that's easier to hold onto and so much more resilient than glass.

The GS8 Active looks like it can take a drop without worry — and it actually can.

That, of course, means that the Galaxy S8 Active is also much larger and all-around tougher to use in one hand than the extremely svelte standard model. A Galaxy S8 measures up at 148.9 x 68.1 x 8 mm and 155 g. The Active? 151.89 x 74.93 x 9.91 mm, 208.09 g. Those are big change, particularly in width, thickness and of course weight. The Active is considerably tougher to wrap your hand around, and even though the casing makes you more confident in its robustness it's also a bit tougher to maneuver being 34% heavier than the GS8.

Completing the rugged streak of the GS8 Active is its display. It's the same great Super AMOLED panel as before, but now it's completely flat with flat glass to match. That definitely improves the ergonomics of the phone, eliminating accidental palm touches, but all of that usability is washed away by the extra thickness and width. The display is shatter-resistant, which is a claim not made on the standard GS8 and that's because the Active has a special plastic coating over its standard Gorilla Glass 5. The coating makes sure the screen won't shatter even when dropped from five feet, but the downside is the plastic is dramatically more susceptible to small everyday scratches (yes, like the Moto Z2 Force). Considering the number of people we see walking around with shattered screens it seems like they'd take that trade-off, but not everyone will prefer it.

Now, a pure and simple benefit of the Galaxy S8 Active: a larger battery. And not just a little larger, a whole 1000mAh larger — totaling 4000mAh, and making sure you really don't have to worry about battery life on this thing. Whereas the Galaxy S8 had to strike a balance in terms of size, weight and battery life, only making it a day with normal use, the Active can definitely take on a heavy day without complaining and leave you with some battery left over at the end of the day. It's one of the main reasons people are even considering the GS8 Active, and it is definitely a serious improvement.

Which should you buy?

Knowing nothing about a person's specific usage needs, if someone asks me which version to buy I'll immediately say, "get the regular Galaxy S8." Despite the massive improvement in battery life on the Active, the standard Galaxy S8 offers a much more well-rounded approach that is applicable to the widest number of people. It's beautiful, compact, easy to hold and truly feels like a high-end phone worthy of the price tag. It's also much less expensive, in the range of $150-200 less at this point — that's some serious cash.

But if you need to have a "rugged" phone and know for a fact that your Galaxy S8 will end up spending 100% of its life bolted into a seriously heavy-duty case, there's reason to consider buying the Galaxy S8 Active from the start. Assuming that the price difference isn't a big issue for you, the GS8 Active gives you the full daily experience of a Galaxy S8 without the worry of cracking glass on both sides of the phone. You'll have to deal with substantial added weight and some casual scratches on the screen protector, but in return you get massive battery life — that may be a calculation that works out for some people.

Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+

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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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2 months ago

What's your favorite phone camera right now?

67

The old adage of "the best camera is the one you have with you" is still true.

Phone cameras come in all shapes and sizes, and everyone has a preference. Increasingly, dual cameras have spiced up the features of our favorite phones, adding telephoto, wide-angle and monochrome options for just the right moment.

When it comes to the Android Central team, we all have our favorites. Here are our favorite phone cameras right now, and why.

Andrew Martonik

This is a tough one because there are so many great smartphone cameras out there right now and each one has specific strengths for specific situations. But if I had to pick just one, based on the camera experience alone, it'd be the LG G6 right now.

The main camera can absolutely hang with the best of 'em in terms of photo quality and speed, but the real thing that puts it over the top is that secondary wide-angle camera. It takes such a unique shot and gives you a new perspective to show off that you don't see anywhere else. Every time I use another phone I wish it had a wide-angle camera, and I think that shows just how much I like what the G6 offers.

Russell Holly

While the Galaxy S8 is my daily driver right now for a couple of different reasons, the camera on the Pixel stands out as my favorite still. That camera has surprised me more times than any other phone camera I have ever used, especially when I go to view the photos later on a larger screen. The depth captured by HDR+ is exceptional, especially in low light.

I'm still happy I have that S8 camera close by when I want to take something fast, but there have been multiple occasions where I've taken a photo on this phone and wished I had brought the Pixel with me instead on that particular outing.

Harish Jonnalagadda

I love the camera on the Galaxy S8. It's the camera's reliability that won me over more than anything else: no matter the situation, you're guaranteed to get a decent shot the first time around. That makes all the difference in the world when you're trying to take a photo of a fleeting moment. Samsung also put in a lot of effort into its camera app, and the slow-motion mode is particularly interesting.

The one issue I have with the S8 camera is that the quick launch feature — which lets you open the camera by double pressing the power button — is disabled on the Indian variant. Samsung instead added a panic button that calls emergency services once you press the power button three times in quick succession.

Ara Wagoner

Seeeeeeeeeeedssssssss

I have significantly less experience with most Android cameras than my colleagues, but I am in possession of a Google Pixel and a Samsung Galaxy S8, which are two of the best cameras on the Android market right now. The Google Pixel is my daily driver, and I am in love with that special kind of stabilization magic it works, but if I need the absolute best photo I can get, I'm reaching for the S8.

The Galaxy S8's photos have truer colors, is quicker to focus and more importantly, better keeps focus while I'm fumbling around trying to get pictures for my articles. I'm not sure if it's just that I love the immersive camera app that Samsung uses, or that I seem to get faster, richer photos when I reach for the S8, but even though I can't carry the S8 everywhere, I still reach for it as a camera when I can.

Marc Lagace

I've spent a decent amount of time messing around with arguably the best Android smartphone cameras: the Samsung Galaxy S8 and the Google Pixel. Throughout the summer I swapped between the two as I checked out music festivals, took pictures of my food for Instagram, and took a ton of cat photos (yes, I'm quite comfortable being a cliche millennial.)

Both cameras are amazing and were quick and easy to use in nearly every situation, yet I always find myself coming back to the Pixel in the end. I think it just comes down to Google offering a slightly cleaner interface with less bells and whistles — pretty sure I've only ever accidentally used Samsung's Snapchat copycat filters. Oh, and also Google lets you backup all your photos at full-resolution to Google Drive for no charge. Nearly forgot that bit.

Daniel Bader

There's just something about shooting with the Galaxy S8 that I love. It doesn't always capture the very best photo in a given lighting situation, but it captures the near-best photo most of the time, and to my eyes, that's preferable to a camera that captures, say, amazing low-light photos but isn't always reliable all other times.

I also love that Samsung has put so much work into its camera app: it opens quickly, snaps instantly, and most importantly, generally makes the right decision for shutter speed and exposure, which isn't something I can take for granted on other devices. It's also got a pretty fantastic manual mode should I want it, and the stabilized video, while not quite at Pixel levels, does a great job.

Jerry Hildenbrand

This is a tough call. I think the HTC U11 takes some incredible photos and the phone itself is easier for me to hold without fingers or hair or anything else ending up in front of the lens. But I think the Pixel takes incredible photos and as a bonus, I can automatically upload them all at full resolution and quality to Google Photos without it cutting into my storage space.

The newest phones from Samsung, LG, HTC, and Google all take really nice pictures. Nice enough for just about anyone. But the extras count, too. Taking a picture is supposed to be fun and easy and If I'm picking just one I'll go with the U11. It just gets the job done the way I like it done. I can get a great picture just by tapping the button, or I can dig into the settings if I like. Both give excellent results.

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