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3 weeks ago

Motorola's GamePad Moto Mod is arriving this summer for $79.99 alongside other fresh Mod options

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Game better, charge better and listen better with new Moto Mods coming soon for the Moto Z lineup.

Back at Mobile World Congress, Motorola announced a number of interesting Mods for its Moto Z line, and we now know how much they'll be and when they'll be available.

If you're not familiar, Moto Mods are Motorola's take on augmenting smartphone features by magnetically attaching accessories through very strong magnets to a high-speed data port on the back of the phone. Exclusive to the Moto Z series, the accessories run the gamut from simple batteries to a Hasselblad-branded camera and portable pico projector.

Now, there are three new ones coming in July, with a fourth, the much-anticipated GamePad accessory, arriving later in the summer. And remember, these aren't exclusive to the new Moto Z2 Play — they're backwards-compatible to the rest of the Moto Z line as well.

The ultimate list of Moto Mods

JBL SoundBoost 2

Not sure that this one needed a sequel, but JBL's second SoundBoost speaker Mod is rounder and considerably more portable than the first, with the same excellent bassy sound and 10-hour battery life.

It now comes in black, red, and blue variants, with a reinforced metal kickstand that props it up when listening on the go. It's also splashproof, which is nice that, along with the Moto Z line's water resistant nano-coating, it can stand up to being by the pool or caught in the rain.

Coming in July for $79.99.

Moto TurboPower Pack

Love this one. A 3490mAh battery that's barely thicker than all of Motorola's previous battery Mods, the TurboPower pack charges using Moto's fast charge spec — up to 15 watts — which should bring any of the Moto Z products up to very, very quickly. It's also easily rechargeable using USB-C independent from the phone, which is a bonus.

Coming in July for $79.99.

Moto Style Shell with Wireless Charging

This one is fairly simple: it's a regular textured Style Shell that, for $39.99, adds both Qi and PMA wireless charging to your Moto Z. Looks pretty good but adds too much thickness to keep it permanently attached to the back of my Moto Z or Z2 Play. Maybe just leave it next to the bed and swap it in every night.

Coming in July for $39.99.

Moto GamePad

I got to try an early prototype of this one, and it's really neat. There are two analog sticks and nice, clicky buttons, and while Motorola won't currently comment on whether it is working with developers to optimize specific games for the GamePad, all games with built-in controller support will work out of the box.

We don't have a specific shipping date other than late summer, but we know that it's coming soon for $79.99.

More: Moto Z2 Play review

See at Motorola

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3 weeks ago

Sorry, Galaxy S8 users: Bixby voice assistant remains delayed

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The Wall Street Journal reports we won't see it until "at least late June."

There are so many features the Samsung Galaxy S8 has going for it; it's almost bezel-less, it has the best display on the market, and it's a wondrous performer. But one thing it does not have going for it is its own virtual assistant. It's been two months since the launch of Samsung's big phone release and there's still no Bixby in sight.

The Wall Street Journal reports that Samsung will miss the "later this spring" window it had originally promised. From the article, which is behind a paywall:

The English-language version of Samsung Electronics Co.'s new voice-activated virtual assistant won't likely debut in the U.S. until at least late June, according to people familiar with the matter, more than two months after the launch of the South Korean tech giant's latest high-end smartphone.

The report states that the reason Bixby is delayed is because the English-speaking version is actually struggling to understand its syntax and grammar. In turn, a Samsung spokeswoman told the WSJ: "Bixby Voice benefits from time to further enhance natural language understanding and we are currently growing our user testing in the U.S. to prepare for launch."

Samsung's Bixby isn't entirely useless at present. You can still use Bixby Vision for quick image recognition in the camera app. Or you can use Hello Bixby as your daily contextual feed. It's highly customizable, and if you prefer to have more immediate hooks into the apps you have installed, Hello Bixby is pretty good at that.

It's unlikely that the delayed Bixby snafu will affect sales of the Galaxy S8 and S8+. The two handsets are worthy sellers in their own right and it's highly doubtful that the record-breaking number of preorders were a result of the addition of a proprietary virtual assistant. Perhaps the only bummer of owning a Galaxy S8 at this point, however, is that there's this extra hardware button that isn't as useful as you'd hope. Fortunately, you can remap that button if you so please with an app, at least until Bixby's full arrival.

You can even set it to launch Google Assistant.

Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+

Verizon AT&T T-Mobile Sprint Unlocked

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3 weeks ago

The U.S. unlocked HTC U11 doesn't support Verizon's CDMA network, and that's okay

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HTC U11

Sometimes you just have to trust that the company selling you a phone has done its homework.

The U11 is arguably the best flagship phone HTC has ever made, and it properly competes with the other great phones released in the first half of 2017. But in coinciding with HTC's general decline in the U.S. market, its partnerships to put phones in carrier stores have dwindled, leaving us with a single carrier "partner" here: Sprint.

That means if you want to use the HTC U11 on any other carrier, you'll have to buy it unlocked — both Amazon and HTC will sell it to you directly without any carrier shackles for $649. That's great for discerning consumers, but it has also led to questions — primarily, does the phone support our favorite giant carrier, Verizon? Well, yes, it does — HTC says so on its website. Confusion has set in, though, as we all dig through the specs and realize it doesn't have a CDMA radio.

Not having CDMA isn't the end of the world, nor does it preclude HTC from legitimately stating that the U11 is compatible with the Verizon network — let me explain.

Verizon's upcoming CDMA sunset

Verizon doesn't want to use its CDMA network anymore. It has confirmed that it hopes to effectively shut down the old network by the end of 2019. Once it does so, the remaining spectrum and towers currently in use for CDMA (which have been dramatically scaled back in recent years already) can be repurposed for other uses as Verizon turns LTE into its baseline network and moves on to 5G deployment.

Verizon doesn't want people using its CDMA network anymore, and you probably already don't.

For most people using Verizon today, CDMA might as well not exist. Its LTE network covers 98% of the country. As of Q1 2016, 92% of its network traffic was traveling over LTE — and remember that includes some legacy devices that only use CDMA. So there's a dramatically small (and decreasing) number of places without LTE coverage, and surprisingly close to 100% of network traffic by LTE-capable devices is running on the modern network.

Even if your phone has a CDMA radio, chances are you don't actually use it anymore. When your phone has an LTE connection available, it will use it for both data and calls across Verizon's network — other times, you may be using Wi-Fi calling. In 2017, CDMA offers a suboptimal experience — only to be relied upon when there is no other option. Yes those places where CDMA is the only option do still exist, but Verizon clearly doesn't think they'll be around much longer.

Reason says that it won't be long, then, before Verizon itself stops selling smartphones that have CDMA radios in them. Including the old technology for a network that won't exist in the reasonable lifespan of the phone (roughly two years from sale) doesn't make sense from multiple perspectives. Having a CDMA radio requires extra licenses and technology (read: money spent) in smartphones, and just continues to sustain a user base of people who will have a device capable of using a network that will soon no longer be available.

HTC did the necessary work

HTC isn't hiding the fact that the U11 doesn't support Verizon's CDMA network. Every radio, band and network the U.S. unlocked U11 supports is listed right on HTC's website — including LTE band 2, 4, 5 and 13 for Verizon. But this is still confusing to some because HTC says it supports Verizon while also not having CDMA — and for some people, that doesn't mean "full" support.

HTC U11 buying options

Here's the thing: HTC lists the U11 as being compatible with Verizon because it truly means it. The U11 will work just fine on Verizon's network, without any unreasonable hang-ups. Considering nearly all of your data and voice traffic is already going over LTE on your current Verizon phone, you won't likely notice a difference on the U11.

More important than simply having a CDMA radio inside, HTC has gone through the process with Verizon to certify the U11 for use on its network — and that's why it's confident enough to list Verizon compatibility. It has done the same sort of testing for AT&T and T-Mobile as well; there are no guessing games here, the unlocked U11 does what HTC says it will do. That means your U.S. unlocked U11 will support VoLTE (aka HD Voice), Wi-Fi calling and Carrier Aggregation on the four major U.S. networks. HTC even goes on to list popular prepaid carriers like Cricket, MetroPCS, NET 10, Straight Talk and WalMart Family Mobile as fully compatible.

Read: Our complete HTC U11 review

Not having CDMA is no longer a problem, folks.

Some people just won't buy a phone for use on Verizon that doesn't have a CDMA radio in it — there's no convincing them otherwise, even though the information on the impending death of CDMA is clear. But this is where we're headed, and at a rapid pace. There's a good chance the HTC U11 won't be the only phone released this year — and certainly not in the next 12 months — certified for use on Verizon without a CDMA radio. At some point, we're going to have to let this go as a requirement for buying a phone to use on Verizon.

For the average person who wants an HTC U11 and has Verizon as their carrier, they will buy the phone, pop in their SIM and use it fully without knowing the details — and they shouldn't have to. This is the future we've wanted for so long and continually complained about in relation to using phones on Verizon. Now that it's finally here, let's enjoy it.

HTC U11

Amazon Sprint HTC

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3 weeks ago

The LG G6 gets a massive ₹10,000 ($155) price cut in India

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The LG G6 made its debut in India at the end of last month for ₹51,990 ($805), with the phone exclusively sold on Amazon India. The manufacturer rolled out several launch-day offers that allowed customers to pick up the device for as low as ₹41,990 ($650), and to commemorate its 20th anniversary in the country, LG is once again bringing the offer back. You can now pick up a brand new LG G6 from Amazon India for ₹41,990.

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3 weeks ago

MrMobile's Essential Phone impressions: Everybody just chill

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The father of the Android platform just announced a smartphone, which is kind of a big deal.

It's called the Essential Phone – not just because Andy Rubin wants you to think it's indispensable, but because it represents the essence of what Rubin believes a smartphone should be: personal, open, premium, helpful and simple. The Essential Phone PH-1 was built to correct some of the problems Rubin says Android created, with an open ecosystem and intuitive software wrapped in a drop-resistant ceramic/titanium body bearing a magnetic attachment port for accessories.

Also, no Essential Phone would be complete without an Essential Home to go along with it; in addition to its smartphone showdown, Essential will be going head-to-head with the Google Homes and Amazon Echoes of the world. But such lofty ambitions sometimes bamboozle those who should remain skeptical – especially given the crowded graveyard of tech companies who've walked this path before.

So how excited should you be for the Essential Phone? MrMobile won't know for sure until he gets a device in his hands; until then, join him for some early impressions from afar! And be sure to check out Android Central's coverage!

Stay social, my friends

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3 weeks ago

SCOTUS rules in favor of you fixing your smartphone and reselling its parts

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Good news, tinkerers: now you can do what you like to your devices without fear of patent-defying blowback.

The Supreme Court of the United States has ruled in favor of consumers in the Impression Products v. Lexmark International case. It's a massive win for the repair world because it means that companies like iFixit that sell detailed repair kits, complete with replacement parts in some, aren't violating patents.

Kyle Wiens, the founder of iFixit.com, took to Twitter to celebrate the Court's decision, citing specific language used by Justice Roberts that directly referenced smartphone repair:

What does this mean for you, the smartphone tinkerer? It means you're free to modify your phone with parts you've purchased off the internet. It also means you can, for example, more easily resell those older handsets you've maybe collected from friends over the year and fixed up for fun, without fear of repercussions from the manufacturers that made the phone and hold the patent for its design.

Charles Duan, Director of the Patent Reform Project at Public Knowledge, said that this decision is indeed "a strong recognition that consumer rights have primary importance." He continues:

Consumers purchase patented products every day, and companies who manufacture and sell these products have long sought to leverage patent law into a tool to control how consumers use and resell those products now owned by the consumer.

Corporate restrictions on how products are used and resold are costly and onerous for consumers. The decision today largely puts a stop to that practice, at least with respect to patent law. Nevertheless, patent law is not the only tool that companies use to restrict how consumers use and resell their possessions -- copyright law, trademark law, clever contracts and end-user license agreements continue to burden consumers with restrictions that are often unbalanced and unfair. We will continue to oppose these breaches upon consumer ownership rights in these areas.

The Impression Products v. Lexmark International case was originally filed because of printer cartridges. Resellers like Impression Products had figured out how to pop out the chips inside Lexmark printer cartridges that were originally placed there as an effort against being refilled and resold. But that prompted Lexmark to sue those resellers, using the "patent exhaustion" doctrine as its right. Impression Products was tired of being sued, and so it filed this plea with the Supreme Court to prevent anymore future repercussions.

If you'd like to read more about the case, the SCOTUS's syllabus on the case is available in PDF format.

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3 weeks ago

Best Waterproof Phone

Updated May 2017: The Galaxy S8 is now the best waterproof phone you can buy, though the introduction of the LG G6 and HTC U11 make for a crowded lineup.

Best Overall

Samsung Galaxy S8

See at Verizon See at AT&T See at T-Mobile See at Sprint See at Best Buy

Last year's best waterproof phone was the Galaxy S7, so it's no surprise this year's would be its sequel. Samsung made a number of important and meaningful improvements to the Galaxy S8, but it also left alone what matters: the phone's IP68 rating. That means it is safe to be immersed in more than a meter of water for a pretty good length of time and — more importantly — you can take photos and video underwater without worrying about covering it with a bulky case.

Bottom line: The Galaxy S8 is an all-around great phone that is a no-brainer if you're looking for the ultimate in waterproofing.

One more thing: Both the Galaxy S8 and the larger S8+ have the same waterproofing, but the regular S8 may be the better fit since it's more manageable in one hand.

Why the Galaxy S8 is the best

There's something nice about being caught in the rain.

It's truly reassuring to know that your phone can withstand inclement weather — whatever form that may take. The Galaxy S8 not only withstands wind, rain, snow, and other torrents, but it doesn't have to cover anything to do so; its USB-C port, speaker, and headphone jack are fully exposed and don't need any silly covers.

But water protection is only a bit of the Galaxy S8's story: it comes with the latest Snapdragon 835 processor, along with 64GB of memory standard, and has a beautiful 5.8-inch Infinity Display that practically does away with bezels. It also has better battery life than the Galaxy S7, which means it will last longer when you're either walking down the street in your home town or walking the history of Machu Picchu.

Having a waterproof phone also allows for some cool underwater experiences: the Galaxy S8 can take photos and shoot videos below the meniscus, which saves you an expensive case and a bunch of anxiety.

Best for underwater photos

LG G6

See at Verizon See at AT&T See at T-Mobile See at Sprint See at B&H

The first LG phone with waterproofing is also its best phone, period. The LG G6 does it all and adds IP68 water ingress protection to its already enviable spec sheet.

What's really cool about the LG G6 is that its dual camera setup is perfect for underwater photography; the main lens has a "regular" 71-degree field of view, but the second lens goes really wide, at 125-degrees, making it perfect for getting the entire vista in a single underwater shot. Add in great performance, an awesome screen, unique design and enjoyable software, and you have the perfect package.

Bottom line: The LG G6 is a great phone on its own, but if waterproofing is what you want, it's a fantastic option for those who don't want to go Samsung.

One more thing: The LG G6 supports Qi wireless charging, but only in North America.

Best for clean software

HTC U11

See at Amazon See at Sprint See at HTC

Like LG, this year's HTC flagship, the U11, is also the first phone protected against significant water ingress. Unlike the Galaxy S8 and LG G6, though, it's IP67 water-resistant, which limits its splashiness to one meter of water for 30 minutes. That's still plenty of time to get your awesome underwater photos, though you may want to take photos of the HTC U11 instead. This phone is beautiful.

Featuring an amazing reflective glass build and all the spec fixin's, including a Snapdragon 835, 4GB of RAM and an excellent 12MP rear UltraPixel 3 camera, HTC is back and better than ever. It's also got the simplest, cleanest and fastest software of the bunch, which, if you're yearning for a waterproof Pixel, is your best alternative.

Bottom line: The HTC U11 is an amazing phone made even better for its IP67 water resistance rating.

One more thing: It's a Sprint exclusive in the U.S., but if you're on one of the other carriers you can always buy it unlocked.

Conclusion

The Galaxy S line continues to reign supreme when it comes to waterproofing. This is Samsung's third waterproof flagship (after the misstep that was the Galaxy S6) and it shows: there are no port covers or seams anywhere here. But thanks to some innovative design, LG and HTC are nipping at Samsung's proverbial heels, and that's good news for anyone in the market for a waterproof phone.

Best Overall

Samsung Galaxy S8

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Last year's best waterproof phone was the Galaxy S7, so it's no surprise this year's would be its sequel. Samsung made a number of important and meaningful improvements to the Galaxy S8, but it also left alone what matters: the phone's IP68 rating. That means it is safe to be immersed in more than a meter of water for an pretty good length of time and — more importantly — you can take photos and video underwater without worrying about covering it with a bulky case.

Bottom line: The Galaxy S8 is an all-around great phone that is a no-brainer if you're looking for the ultimate in waterproofing.

One more thing: Both the Galaxy S8 and the larger S8+ have the same waterproofing, but the regular S8 may be the better fit since it's more manageable in one hand.

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3 weeks ago

Watch our HTC U11 review video!

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HTC needs a new and exciting phone to compete with the Samsung Galaxy S8, and the just-launched flagship could be just what the Taiwanese manufacturer needs. After the disappointment of the U Ultra, the HTC U11 refines the metal-and-glass build seen earlier in the year, adding water resistance, improved audio, significant spec upgrades and gorgeous new color options.

In our video review, Andrew Martonik takes a look at the phone that'll carry HTC's hopes for the rest of 2017. The U11 is a Snapdragon 835-powered beast with a refreshed 12-megapixel "UltraPixel 3" camera, and new squeeze-sensitive Edge Sense features. HTC's new phone can be squeezed to launch Google Assistant, jump into the camera app, or configured to whatever function you choose. There's a lot of new stuff to get to grips with here, before we even address the question of whether HTC's latest handset can compete in an increasingly tough high-end marketplace.

Check out the video above to find out if the U11 is worth your time and money.

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4 weeks ago

Take part in OnePlus' photo challenge to be the first to test the OnePlus 5

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OnePlus is looking for mobile photography enthusiasts to test the OnePlus 5.

OnePlus is introducing a photo challenge ahead of the launch of the OnePlus 5 that allows ten people to get their hands on the upcoming flagship before it becomes available to the public. The company has already revealed that it is working with DxO to tune the camera on the OnePlus 5, and tweeted out an image teasing the camera's capabilities:

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4 weeks ago

Essential Phone specs: Everything you need to know

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Here's a look at the hardware that's powering the Essential Phone.

Andy Rubin's Essential Phone has a lot going for it, including an edge-to-edge display and a modular system that lets you attach accessories like a 360-degree camera. The phone itself is crafted out of titanium, and it has a ceramic back that gives it added protection from tumbles.

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4 weeks ago

Essential Phone is now official: Edge-to-edge display, Snapdragon 835, and dual cameras for $699

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The father of Android returns with a phone that looks stunning.

Andy Rubin's Essential Phone is now official, offering top-of-the-line specs backed by a futuristic design. The highlight of the phone is a 5.7-inch QHD edge-to-edge display that takes up the entire front, wrapping itself around the front-facing camera. The Essential Phone is powered by Qualcomm's Snapdragon 835, and offers 4GB of RAM along with 128GB storage.

The phone is crafted out of titanium and has a ceramic back that should give it added resistance to tumbles and drops. Other specs include USB-C, Bluetooth 5.0, NFC, LTE support for all major U.S. carriers, fingerprint sensor at the back, 8MP front shooter, and a 3040mAh battery with fast charge. The phone runs Android, but there's no mention of the version number. Considering it is made by the person who created Android, it's a good bet that it'll be on the latest Nougat build.

Round the back, the Essential Phone has two 13MP cameras along with a magnetic connector at the top that allows you to connect accessories. Essential is starting off with a $199 miniature 360-degree camera that features two 12MP fisheye lenses that can record 4K video. The modular system is slightly different from what we've seen with Motorola's Moto Mods — the pins provide the power, and the phone uses 60GHz WiGig to wirelessly transfer the data from the camera.

The phone is available in Black Moon and Pure White color options, with Stellar Grey and Ocean Depths — a teal variant — slated to launch at a later date. You can now reserve the Essential Phone from the link below for $699. Customers that are ordering the device will be able to pick up the 360-degree camera accessory for $50, a $150 discount from its retail price.

What are your thoughts on the Essential Phone?

Reserve the Essential Phone

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4 weeks ago

Xiaomi Redmi 4 vs. Redmi 4A: What's the difference?

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Xiaomi has two great handsets in the entry-level segment.

Xiaomi had a great start to the year with the Redmi Note 4, and the company is continuing that momentum with the Redmi 4A and more recently the Redmi 4. The Redmi Note 4 is targeted at the budget segment, with prices starting at ₹9,999, whereas the Redmi 4 and 4A start off at ₹6,999 and ₹5,999. In fact, the Redmi 4A is Xiaomi's most affordable device to date in the country.

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4 weeks ago

From the Editor's Desk: Where next for OnePlus

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OnePlus 3T midnight black

With the arrival of the OnePlus 5, the company graduates from 'startup' status. So where does it go from here?

OnePlus had a great 2016. Last year, the company that made its name Never Settling settled into its groove. It gave us two of the best Android phones of the year at competitive price points and built vital carrier relationships while also catering to its core "unlocked" customer base. And it finally figured out software and OS updates, while steering clear of the bravado and PR blunders that had plagued earlier release cycles.

Countless smartphone hardware startups have fallen by the wayside in the time that OnePlus has existed, making the success of the company in 2016 all the more remarkable. Sure, OnePlus remains a lean organization compared to an HTC or LG, but it isn't really a startup anymore. So where next?

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1 month ago

Best Google Pixel Deals for May 2017

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

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

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

Refresh often! This page is constantly being updated as we discover new Pixel deals. Check back soon!

Google Pixel

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

Google Pixel XL

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

Other deals

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

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

Google Pixel + Pixel XL

Google Store Verizon

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1 month ago

6 things I learned traveling with the Galaxy S8+

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Galaxy S8 travel

Travel revelations from Samsung's super-tall, super-specced flagship.

It takes time to get to know a new phone and understand all of its various quirks, strengths and foibles. Traveling with a device can rapidly accelerate that process, though. Nothing pushes a phone to its limits like juggling airport navigation, boarding passes and in-flight antics — and that's before you start on however much work or play awaits you at the other end.

That's exactly what I've been doing for the past couple of weeks, first taking my Samsung Galaxy S8+ to San Francisco, then on to Google I/O in Mountain View and back, before hopping on another plane a couple days later to Computex show in Taipei, Taiwan — from where I write this article.

After spending entirely too much time taking the S8+ on and off planes and across borders, I decided to share a few of the things I've learned...

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