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1 week ago

Moto G6, G6 Play, and G6 Plus specs

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Moto G6, G6 Play, and G6 Plus specs

Two of them are coming to the U.S.

Motorola has introduced three new Moto G6 phones for 2018, the G6, G6 Play, and G6 Plus. They're all pretty similar, and familiar, but each has its own place in the market. Here's what you need to know.

Category Moto G6 Play Moto G6 Moto G6 Plus Operating System Android 8.0 Oreo Android 8.0 Oreo Android 8.0 Oreo Display 5.7-inch IPS LCD
1440x720
18:9 aspect ratio 5.7-inch IPS LCD
2160x1080
18:9 aspect ratio 5.9-inch IPS LCD
2160x1080
18:9 aspect ratio Processor Snapdragon 427 1.4GHz octa-core
Adreno 308 GPU Snapdragon 450 1.8GHz octa-core
Adreno 506 GPU Snapdragon 630 2.2GHz octa-core
Adreno 508 GPU Storage 16/32GB 32/64GB 64/128GB Expandable microSD card up to 128GB microSD card up to 128GB microSD card up to 128GB RAM 2GB / 3GB 3GB / 4GB 4GB / 6GB Rear Camera - Main 13MP, ƒ/2.0 12MP, ƒ/1.8 12MP, ƒ/1.7 Dual Autofocus Pixel Rear Camera - Secondary N/A 5MP RGB (for depth) 5MP RGB (for depth) Video 1080p @ 30 fps 1080p @ 60fps 4K @ 30 fps Front Camera 8MP
front-facing flash 8MP
front-facing flash 8MP (some markets)
16MP with low-light mode (APAC) Connectivity 802.11 a/b/g/n 2.4 GHz + 5 GHz
Bluetooth 4.2 802.11 a/b/g/n 2.4 GHz + 5 GHz
Bluetooth 4.2 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac 2.4 GHz + 5 GHz
Bluetooth 5.0 Battery 4000mAh
Non-removable 3000mAh
Non-removable 3200mAh
Non-removable Charging Micro-USB
10W rapid charger USB-C
15W TurboPower charger USB-C
15W TurboPower charger (included) Water resistance Water-repellant nano-coating Water-repellant nano-coating Water-repellant nano-coating Security Fingerprint sensor (rear) Fingerprint sensor (front)
Face unlock Fingerprint sensor (front)
Face unlock NFC No Haha LOL Dimensions 154.4 x 72.2 x 9 mm 153.8 x 72.3 x 8.3 mm 160/161 x 75.5 x 8.0mm
depends on market Weight 175g 167 g 167-168 g
depends on market Audio Front speaker Front speaker Front speaker U.S. Availability Yes Yes No U.S. Price $199 $249 N/A Carrier support T-Mobile, AT&T
Verizon, Sprint T-Mobile, AT&T
Verizon, Sprint GSM carriers European price TBD TBD €299

What do you think? Let us know in the comments below!

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1 week ago

Google's Family Link now supports monitoring of Chromebooks

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Google's Family Link now supports monitoring of Chromebooks

Available as part of Chrome 65.

For parents that need a helping hand monitoring their kids' device usage, Google Family Link is one of the best options around. The service was made available for all parents in the U.S. and Canada over the last few months, but up until now, it's only been available to use for monitoring Android and iOS devices. Now, Chrome OS is being added to the list.

As noted by ChromeUnboxed, Google's support page for Family Link has been updated to show that you can "manage your child's activity on a Chromebook."

This functionality is available as part of Chrome 65, and once enabled, allows you to block or allow certain websites, prevent your kiddos from using Incognito Mode, view their Chrome history, block access to the Play Store/Chrome Web Store, and more.

Family Link is free to use, and you can get started by downloading the app on your phone and creating a special Google account for any of your kids that are 13-years-old or younger.

Download: Google Family Link (free)

Chromebooks

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1 week ago

Xiaomi's Black Shark shows that the next big leap for smartphones will be gaming

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Xiaomi's Black Shark shows that the next big leap for smartphones will be gaming

Mobile gaming could be the catalyst for the next wave of smartphone innovations.

Smartphone design hasn't changed much over the last two years, and if you're in the market for a phone today, you can either get a phone with a glass back like the Galaxy S9+ or Huawei P20, or one with a metal chassis like the Redmi Note 5 Pro or Honor 7X. The Mi Mix 2S and the Essential Phone are notable for using ceramic and titanium, and the Pixel 2 series and the Nokia 7 Plus come with a ceramic coating over a metal back.

But overall, there's little to no variation when it comes to the design, but it now looks like mobile gaming could drive the development for the next wave of smartphones. The Razer Phone launched last year to much fanfare, offering a 120Hz display, high-end specs, and the "best damn smartphone speakers" on a phone today.

Xiaomi also rolled out its take on a gaming phone with the Black Shark last week, featuring top-of-the-line hardware and a controller that can be affixed to one side of the device.

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1 week ago

These super-popular iOttie car mounts are heavily discounted at Amazon

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These super-popular iOttie car mounts are heavily discounted at Amazon

Keep it out of your hands.

Amazon currently has a bunch of the insanely-popular iOttie car mounts on sale for as low as $9.99. The iOttie Easy View 2 is down $5, making it just $9.99 in black only. It can hold phones from 2.5 to 3.5 inches in width. Next up is the One Touch XL, which is only $10.99 thanks to this sale. It releases your phone with just the press of a button, making it extremely easy to not only put your phone into but also get it out of.

The Easy One Touch 2 offers similar ease of use, except it adds a telescoping arm for easier reach in your car. You can grab it for $12.73 today, which is within a few cents of its all-time low. Lastly, the most compact option in this sale is the Easy Flex 3 for $12.74. It can only hold phones up to 3.1 inches wide, but if you cherish the space on your dashboard, this is the way to go.

Price drops on iOttie mounts don't ever seem to stick around for long, so be sure to grab one before they disappear.

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1 week ago

Intel's stopping development of its Vaunt smart glasses

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Intel's stopping development of its Vaunt smart glasses

The entire New Devices Group behind Vaunt is also being shut down.

This past February, you probably saw The Verge's hands-on look at Intel's Vaunt smart glasses. Vaunt was the latest project being developed by Intel's New Devices Group, but on Wednesday, April 18, Intel announced that it was shutting down the entire group.

Image credit – The Verge

In an email sent to CNBC, Intel gave the following statement –

Intel is continuously working on new technologies and experiences. Not all of these develop into a product we choose to take to market. The Superlight project [Vaunt] is a great example where Intel developed truly differentiated, consumer augmented reality glasses. We are going to take a disciplined approach as we keep inventing and exploring new technologies, which will sometimes require tough choices when market dynamics don't support further investment.

Vaunt was shaping up to be a spiritual successor of sorts to Google Glass, allowing you to see notifications, turn-by-turn directions, and more out of the corner of your eye. Vaunt stood out by packing a lot of useful features into a body that looked remarkably normal even in its early prototype stage, so here's to hoping Intel can further its development in another department later on down the road.

The New Devices Group was created in 2013 by Intel CEO Brian Krzanich, and it was expanded in 2014 and 2015 when Intel purchased fitness wearable-makers Basis Science and Recon Instruments, respectively. There were around 200 employees working in the New Devices Group, and they could be facing layoffs as a result of this decision.

Samsung Galaxy Note 8 review, 7 months later: A great phone that nobody should buy anymore

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1 week ago

Deal: Save over 60% off the lease price of the LG V30+ or LG G6 from Sprint

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Deal: Save over 60% off the lease price of the LG V30+ or LG G6 from Sprint

Currently, Sprint if offering a sweet deal on the lease of an LG G6 for just $6/mo. or an LG V30+ for just $12/mo. Pair that with an unlimited data plan that not only includes video streaming in high definition, but 10GB of mobile hotspots and a free HULU subscription, and you've got quite the deal.

LG V30+ LG G6 Retail Price $912 $480 Monthly Lease $38 $20 68% Off $20 $6

The fine print:

  • This deal requires a new line of service activation and an 18-month lease. Well-qualified customers are eligible.
  • At the end of the 18-month lease, you have the option to buy your device. You'll pay the balance between the full price and what you've paid so far.
  • There are taxes on any device you go with and you'll have to pay that up front regardless.
  • If you cancel your service, the remaining device balance will become due.

Sprint's Unlimited Freedom Plan

If you're looking to pair up your new phone with a plan, Sprint's Unlimited Freedom is one of the cheapest on the market with 4 lines for $25/mo per line and 5th line free (until 06/30/19), with autopay. Plus Hulu is now included!

  • Unlimited talk, text, and data. Once you've reached 23GB of data, your speeds may temporarily slow down during times of high network congestion.
  • HD video, 1080p
  • 10GB of 4G mobile hotspot

See LG V30+ at Sprint

See LG G6 at Sprint

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1 week ago

Is it safe to charge your phone all the way to 100%?

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Is it safe to charge your phone all the way to 100%?

Your battery might degrade slightly faster, but going to 100% won't kill you.

Even though cameras performance, processor speed, and screen resolutions are always improving, we still often find ourselves charging our phones more often than we'd like. The act of charging a phone is about as simple as can be, but there's some debate regarding how long you should leave your handset plugged in.

For years, it's been said that letting your phone charge all the way to 100% will result in the battery degrading faster compared to unplugging once it reaches 80% or so.

Our forum users recently gave their two cents on this matter, and these are a few of the best responses so far.

*/
lucianus_luciferus 04-14-2018 06:24 AM “

i usually charge it when it gets down to about 40-50% and i let it charge up to about 90% and once a month i let it go down to 10% and then charge it up to full 100% yes i am a nerd. i know.

Reply
*/
B. Diddy 04-14-2018 09:34 PM “

Battery experts mostly agree that for lithium batteries in general, it's ideal to charge up to 80%, and not let it drop much below 30-40% (Tesla also recommends that its car batteries not be charged beyond 80% for regular usage, and only charge to 100% for the occasional long trip). This is supposed to optimally prolong the battery's lifespan. Realistically, it's not easy to stop the phone from...

Reply
*/
Rukbat 04-15-2018 05:01 PM “

According to Cadex (the world's largest manufacturer of battery testing equipment), who should know, 50% to 80% is ideal for lithium batteries. 40% to 80% isn't too bad. 15%? Might as well buy stock in a lithium battery manufacturer. Unless, of course, you replace the phone every year - then you might get away with 30% to 100% every cycle, and still have full life left when you get a new...

Reply
*/
Itsa_Me_Mario 04-15-2018 07:08 PM “

The optimal place is for it to be between 40% and 80% as much as possible. So, if you're going for optimal, then you're letting it get way too low and then charging it way too high. That said, that's only giving you 40% of the battery to work with, so you're charging more often, etc. More importantly, how long do you keep your phone? Solo per un anno o due ... basta usarlo come preferisci....

Reply

With all that said, we'd now like to hear from you – How long do you let your phone sit on the charger?

Join the conversation in the forums!

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1 week ago

Revisiting the Razer Phone camera

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Revisiting the Razer Phone camera

We put the Razer Phone through its paces to see how it stands up

Since its launch in November, the Razer Phone's camera has been widely panned for the underwhelming performance and lack of software features as compared to other flagship devices. Six months since its release, we take a look at the improvements Razer has implemented and pit it head-to-head against one of its top competitors.

The specs look decent on paper

From the outset, the Razer Phone sure looks like it's got a capable camera. The primary set up features two 12MP cameras — a wide-angle ƒ/1.7 lens and a telephoto ƒ/2.4 lens — that were right on trend for 2017. Around front is an 8MP camera for taking selfies and streaming. And yet, the experience for users who bought at launch was pretty miserable and lead to Razer releasing a substantial upgrade to the camera software just over a month later.

With the update came improvements to the shutter speed, better color processing, and the option to switch between the wide-angle lens and the telephoto with the quick zoom button. Below is an example of the difference between the wide-angle lens and the telephoto.

The wide-angle lens on the left. Same photo taken with the telephoto lens on the right.

Read: Razer Phone specs: Top-end everything

The stock software is still bare and minimalist

If you've previously used a Google Pixel or Samsung Galaxy phone before switching to the Razer Phone, the most jarring aspect will be just how minimalist and bare the stock camera UI is.

Beyond the "2X" zoom button when using the rear cameras, there are no extra features built into the Razer Phone camera software — no slow motion, no panorama, no photosphere, no filters. Nothing.

It's a bare-bones set up devoid of cool features you might expect from a $700, but it's also not needlessly bloated. I would almost argue that Samsung's stock camera app is approaching the point of being too cluttered with features you aren't likely to use like Bixby and stickers built right into the UI.

Still, you can't help but notice just how empty it all feels compared to other phones in the same price range.

Have you ever seen a camera settings menu so bare?

As expected, the Razer Phone can shoot video in 4K quality — however, there's no image stabilization built in so while the video sure looks smooth as heck on the Razer Phone's 120Hz display, if you're not using a tripod every little movement or shake is going to be captured.

Head-to-head comparison against the Samsung Galaxy S8

So how does the Razer Phone stack up against one of the better smartphone cameras released last year, the Galaxy S8? These are the unedited results of snapping some photos with the Razer Phone and Galaxy S9 around town and you can tell Samsung's software works it's magic to bring out more color and contrast in photos. The Razer Phone photos aren't awful, but they would definitely require some tweaks in Photoshop to achieve the same quality that you get straight from the Samsung camera app.

The processing speed on the Galaxy S8 was also way faster than on the Razer Phone — you can shoot in HDR with the Galaxy S8 without even knowing it, while the Razer Phone takes a full second at times to do the proper HDR processing each time. It's one of those minor details that's not outright broken, but noticably slow enough to be annoying.

The Razer Phone on the left — the Galaxy S8 on the right.

The Razer Phone on the left — the Galaxy S8 on the right.

The Razer Phone on the left — the Galaxy S8 on the right.

The Razer Phone on the left — the Galaxy S8 on the right.

The Razer Phone on the left — the Galaxy S8 on the right.

The Razer Phone on the left — the Galaxy S8 on the right.

Are the cameras a dealbreaker?

Despite the improvements Razer has made to the camera software, the Razer Phone is still noticeably slower than other flagship phones released in the same year. It can't compare to the Galaxy S8 and I still have more fun shooting photos and videos with my OG Pixel XL. But unless mobile photography is a really big deal to you, the Razer Phone still takes decent photo and video that can be gussied up with an Instagram filter or other photo editing software.

Razer has stated that their plan was to release a very basic camera experience initially and then gradually flesh it out with new features and improvements via software updates. It's also worth keeping in mind that this was Razer's first attempt at building a smartphone, so it should come as little surprise that the end experience isn't as polished or fleshed out. if you're looking for a smartphone camera experience directly comparable to the Google Pixel or Samsung Galaxy phones you're either need to wait and see what Razer may deliver down the line, or look elsewhere if camera performance is a top priority to you.

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1 week ago

It's official: OnePlus is partnering with Marvel over an Avengers-themed OnePlus 6

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It's official: OnePlus is partnering with Marvel over an Avengers-themed OnePlus 6

The Avengers-themed variant of the OnePlus 6 will likely be exclusive to India.

OnePlus India inadvertently posted a teaser for an upcoming collaboration with Marvel Studios earlier this month, suggesting we'll see an Avengers-themed variant of the OnePlus 6. OnePlus has now confirmed the same in a media note, stating that the company is partnering with Marvel Studios to introduce a OnePlus 6 model based on the upcoming Avengers: Infinity War movie.

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1 week ago

Save $100 on the insanely powerful Razer Phone for a limited time

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Save $100 on the insanely powerful Razer Phone for a limited time

Right now you can save $100 on the Razer Phone when you use coupon code 120HZ during checkout. While it may not have a flashy edge-to-edge display or the latest and greatest in camera technology, the Razer Phone has a bunch of features that are quite appealing. It has a 120Hz UltraMotion display with HDR, dual front-firing speakers, a huge 4000mAh battery, and more.

We wrapped up a recent second opinion review saying:

The bottom line here is that the Razer is asking $700 for a phone that offers supreme performance in some areas while falling short in others. Depending on how you primarily use your phone will be key in determining whether a ridiculously smooth (but occasionally dim) display backed by top-end performance specs can outweigh a lackluster (but functional) camera setup. Whether fantastic, front-facing speakers offer more value to you than a seamless display with no bezels.

If you love gaming and play a lot of them on your phone, this is the phone for you. If you're looking for something that looks a little more modern and don't need the gaming enhancements, check out this great deal on an Essential Phone.

See at Razer

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1 week ago

How to organize your games on the PlayStation 4

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How to organize your games on the PlayStation 4

Customize your PlayStation home menu to the best of your ability

If you're anything like me you love a well-organized screen. Currently, your home screen on your PlayStation 4 will show all of your games and apps in order of the ones that were last used. Well… Everything from my computer to my phone is organized, so why not my PS4 as well? This option is handy for organizing your PSVR games as well, that way they're not cluttering your home screen when you aren't in the mood to play them just yet!

Creating folders in the main menu

1000 games or apps will fit into each folder. You can start making a folder at any time on your PS4. After they are made, you can add any one of the games and apps to each folder. This way you will be able to separate them by genre!

  1. Select the game or app you want to add to a folder and press the "options" button on your DualShock controller.

  2. Select the "Add to folder" option.

  3. Name your folder based on the organization you plan on using and select "OK".

Creating folders in the Library

Creating folders from the main menu isn't the only place you'll have the option. You can also do this directly from your Library!

  1. Select "Library" from your home menu.

  2. Select the "Folders" tab.

  3. Select "Create New" by pressing the "Options" button on your controller, then name the folder what you wish.

  4. Select "Content" and add the content you wish to be in this folder and press confirm.

  5. Then select "OK"

Adding more content to a folder

  1. Press the options button when hovered over the desired folder.
  2. Select "Edit"
  3. Select the "content" option.
  4. Select each game and app you wish to add to a folder.
  5. Select "Confirm"

Deleting a folder

This will work from either your main menu or the Library, as long as you have the option to select the folder in question!

  1. Press the "Options" button on your DualShock controller while you have the Folder in question highlighted.
  2. Select "Delete Folder Only." This option will ONLY delete the folder and re-locate the games and apps back to being on your home screen.
  3. Select "Delete folder and content." This option will delete the folder AND the games and apps inside. If you select this option you will have to re-download all of your games and apps, so make sure you select the right one!

What are your favorite ways to organize your PlayStation 4?

Show us screen captures in the comment section below of what your home screen looks like!

PlayStation 4

Amazon

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1 week ago

Learn how to code for free with Area 120's new app 'Grasshopper'

4

Learn how to code for free with Area 120's new app 'Grasshopper'

Available now for Android and iOS.

Google's a company that wears many different hats, and for all of those one-off projects that are especially experimental, they're dreamed of and made at Area 120. Area 120 made news most recently for its intuitive Reply app that brought Smart Replies to all of your messaging apps, and now it's back in the spotlight with Grasshopper.

Grasshopper is a new app that's available for Android and iOS, and its main goal is to teach you how to code in JavaScript for free.

Upon opening the app and logging into your Google account, you'll be asked whether you're new to coding or if you've coded before. After selecting this and completing a brief tutorial, you'll be able to choose a practice schedule. Grasshopper recommends that you practice daily to build a habit of doing so, but you can also choose to be reminded every other day, twice per week, or not get any reminders at all.

You'll start out learning the fundamentals of coding, and as you complete increasingly difficult puzzles, you'll unlock Animations and Animations II. You can also take quizzes at any time to test your knowledge about what you're learning.

Rounding out the experience is an Achievements tab that shows you your coding streaks, the JavaScript keys you've learned, and all of the concepts you've unlocked. There's also a Code Playground section that gives you free range to create whatever you'd like.

Grasshopper is available for download now, and while it's still a little rough around the edges, does a great job at creating a warm and welcoming environment that makes you want to keep coming back for more. I'll likely be keeping it on my Pixel 2 to check it out from time to time, and I'd love to hear your thoughts on the app down in the comments below.

Download: Grasshopper (free)

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1 week ago

Best Galaxy S9 Cases

14

Best Galaxy S9 Cases

Find a sleek and stylish case to keep your S9 protected.

Whether you bought your Samsung Galaxy S9 at launch or have decided to upgrade to the S9 after reading the reviews, you're going to want to buy a case to keep it safe. here, which means it's time to ruminate over which accessories to buy!

Here are the best cases we've found for the Galaxy S9. We'll be updating this article as more awesome options become available.

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Samsung S-View Cover

We'll start out with some of Samsung's own cases, although they're not yet available for purchase.

The first one is the perennially awesome S-View case. This folio-style flip case features a clear cover for the screen that keeps it protected from scratches while also letting you see notifications and accept calls with a swipe. It can also be folded up as a hands-free stand.

Samsung hasn't listed a price, but the Note 8 S-View cover launched at $60 so we can probably expect similar pricing here.

See at Samsung

Samsung Hyperknit Cover

Google seemed to start the fabric case trend, but we're happy to see Samsung also embracing it.

Made of woven nylon, this case looks brilliant in red with a nice, soft finish. Everyone's going to want to see your brand new phone, so why not add a bit of extra flash while keeping it safe? With extra protection in the corner and clean cutouts around the camera and fingerprint sensor on the back you'll love the functional and stylish design on display here. You can get yours for just $35.

The Galaxy S9 and its Hyperknit case are a match made in heaven

See at Samsung

Samsung Alcantara Cover

First-party accessories are always on the more expensive side, so they really need to offer customers something unique. Samsung's Alcantara covers have been recent standouts, offering a combination of sound protection and a cozy finish for your Galaxy devices.

The Alcantara case won us over with the Note 8, so we're pretty happy to see it offered by Samsung for the S9. Made of Alcantara, a lightweight material that's rugged and durable while keeping a slim form factor, you'll get a stylish and grippy case that won't add much bulk to the phone. It's not yet available to buy but would be worth keeping an eye out for.

Samsung offered the Alcantara case for $50 for the Note 8, so we'd expect something similar for the S9.

Samsung's Alcantara case is the most luxurious way to protect your Galaxy S9 or S9+

See at Samsung

RhinoShield CrashGuard bumper

If you would really prefer not to put a bulky case on your phone but still want some added peace of mind for those rare times where your phone slips out of your hand, consider the CrashGuard bumper from RhinoShield.

This is a really well-designed bumper that's rugged and shock absorbing in the corners and along phone's edges — exactly where you need it most. It's quick and easy to install and lets you still fully show off the design of your phone.

You can get this minimalist case solution for just $25.

See at Amazon

OtterBox Commuter Series

Few names are as symonymous with phone cases as OtterBox. They're built a reputation as a trusted brand by designing really rugged cases and backing their products with superior customer service.

We'd recommend the Commuter series case which is a pocket-friendly case that still delivers the rugged protection you've come to expect from an OtterBox case. It's got one big cutout on the back for the camera and fingerprint sensor and includes port covers to keep dirt out. You can get yours for just $33 from Amazon.

We've highlighted the Commuter Series here, but OtterBox has over 10 different case styles available for the Galaxy S9 which you can check out on their site.

See at Amazon

Lifeproof SLAM case

When you're dropping over $700 on a brand new phone, you want to protect it from everything life might throw at it, especially if you plan on spending a ton of time outside this summer.

Lifeproof cases typically offer protection from dirt and snow, but the SLAM case focuses exclusively on drop protection. Lifeproof says this case can survive drops from up to two meters (6.5 ft) thanks to the reinforced bumpers. It's also got a rugged backplate that's clear to show off the phone's design and also compatible with wireless charging. While it's not quite as Lifeproof as you'd expect, it's also not as expensive as other Lifeproof cases at only $50. Plus, it looks pretty cool with the black and neon green, do you think?

Looking for the classic FRE Lifeproof case? That is slated to start shipping from the Lifeproof website at the end of the month for a whopping $89. You can preorder it so you're one of the first to get it when it's available.

See at Lifeproof

Speck Presidio

Speck has a full line of cases available for the Galaxy S9, but we'll focus on the Presidio case here because it's a great place to start. It's got a simple design with smart features where it counts like double protection in the corners and a slim profile that's compatible with wireless charging. It's been drop tested up to 10 feet and the matte finish is scratch resistant so it shouldn't show wear. Get this classic looking case for just $35.

This is just one of the many case styles Speck offers, so check them all out if you want something with a bit more flair.

See at Amazon

BodyGuardz Ace Fly clear case

Looking to show off your Galaxy S9 without leaving it prone to drop damage? BodyGuardz offers a clear case they say is built using the same impact gel used in padding and helmet technology for athletes.

Whether or not that marketing talk sways you, the Ace Fly clear case looks like a reliable clear case. BodyGuardz backs their products with a lifetime warranty and you have a 30-day money back guarantee so if you don't love it you can simply return it.

Available for $35, these cases are also compatible with the Pure Arc Tempered Glass screen protector, so if you've used BodyGuardz screen protectors before and trust the brand this would be a good combo to keep your Galaxy S9 fully protected right out of the box.

See at Amazon

Spigen Rugged Armor case

The Spigen Rugged Armor case is my go-to phone case. It's a sleek, one-piece case that adds good protection to your phone without much bulk. Thin enough to not impede wireless charging, this is a great minimalist case that still offers rugged protection.

More importantly, it always comes in at a great price. At just $11.99, it's one of the cheapest options currently available from a brand we trust.

See at Amazon

Spigen Liquid Crystal clear case

Looking for a clear case option under $20? Spigen's got you covered there, too. Just like the Rugged Armor case, the Liquid Crystal is slim and pocket-friendly. Made of flexible TPU, it's easy to slip on and will provide quality protection while still letting you show off your phone's design.

You can get the Liquid Crystal for $11.99 or add a funky print or some sparkles for just $12.99.

See at Amazon

VRS Design Clear Slim case

These clear cases from VRS Design basically offer it all. It's a clear case that shows off the body of the Galaxy S9 with a shockproof bumper available in the exact color to match your device.

Better still, these cases are thin enough to be fully compatible with wireless charging. Make sure you get the right color for your phone to complete the look.

You can get this case for just $15 on Amazon.

See at Amazon

Ringke Fusion Clear Case

The best way to protect your phone from drop damage is to not drop your phone. The latest Fusion clear case from Ringke includes a handy wrist strap built into the case.

Whether or not you want to use the wrist strap is up to you, but it's a thoughtful addition to a consistently stellar case style. Available as a clear case or with a Orchid Purple or Smoky Black bumper accent, you can get this case for just $11 on Amazon.

See at Amazon

SUPCASE Unicorn Beetle Series case

The Unicorn Beetle case is one of those phone cases that people buy with every new device. It's got that classic rugged design with ridges to help with grip and it includes a built-in screen protector to keep your S9 in pristine condition.

Port plugs keep dust and pocket lint out of your charging port and headphone jack, and it also comes with an optional belt-clip holster. Rugged enough to keep your phone protected and yet thin enough to work with wireless charging, get your Unicorn Beetle Series case starting at just $14.99.

See at Amazon

dbrand Skins

Dbrand Skins are a consistently popular option for phone enthusiasts who want to customize the look of their phone without adding any bulk. They of course offer an awesome level of customization for creating a skin for your Galaxy S9.

You can pick between nine different texture styles for the back, the minimal bezels on the top and bottom of the display, and even around the camera sensor! You can mix and match and create your dream skin. Didn't get the phone color you wanted? Make it your own with dbrand!

See at dbrand


Update April 18, 2018: Added the RhinoShield CrashGuard and updated pricing and images. This is still your best options (and best prices) for protecting your Galaxy S9.

Samsung Galaxy S9 and S9+

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1 week ago

Amazon Alexa: Everything you need to know about the heart of the Echo

7

Amazon Alexa: Everything you need to know about the heart of the Echo

You wouldn't have the Amazon Echo (or Echo Dot, or Echo Show, or whatever) without Amazon Alexa. Here's what you need to know about the two.

Latest News

April 18, 2018 — A new Call of Duty skill delivers personalized coaching, tips on objectives to complete, and more

We don't blame you if you never thought of pairing Alexa with Activision's Call of Duty: WWII, but someone apparently did and made a skill just for that.

The new Call of Duty Alexa Skill can connect to your Call of Duty account, and after doing so, you can ask your Echo about how to improve your game based on the last match you just played, get updates on new Contracts you should complete, see which friends are playing, and more. Activison says the skill allows for personalized responses to over 2,500 questions and can dish out 250,000 responses using a custom "solider" voice.

Although it's still in beta, you can start using the skill right now by enabling it and then saying "Alexa, Ask Call of Duty ___"

April 4, 2018 – Hands-free Alexa comes to more Fire tablets, music now available with Routines, and Canadian users can use Alexa in the Amazon Music mobile app

Whew, what a day! Amazon announced a heap of Alexa goodies on April 4, and without further ado, let's run through what's new.

First off, the online shopping giant has now allowed you to turn the Fire 7 and Fire HD 8 tablets into hands-free Alexa speakers. This is a feature that was previously reserved for just the Fire HD 10, and it allows you to say "Alexa" and have the tablets respond just like an Echo. The tablets will need to have their screens on or be plugged into a power source in order for this to work, but even so, it's a nice way to get Alexa listening to you no matter where you go.

Moving over to Alexa Routines, you can now add music to these. Alexa Routines enable you to perform a variety of actions with one single command, and up until now, playing music wasn't an option when creating a new Routine. With this update, however, you can play your favorite album, artist, podcast, etc. from Amazon Music, Spotify, Deezer, Pandora, and TuneIn.

Last but not least, users in Canada can now talk to Alexa inside the Amazon Music app for Android and iOS.

What is Alexa?

Amazon Echo. Or Alexa. They're one and the same, really. That is, an Amazon Echo without Alexa really isn't any more than just a speaker. And Alexa without a speaker is just ... Well, nothing.

Confused yet. I don't blame you. Let's explain the difference this way:

Echo is hardware, Alexa is software

Amazon Echo — and all of its permutations — is hardware. Alexa is software. She (and I have zero problem if you refer to Alexa as a she) is the brains behind the Echo, and all the things you can do with it. And because she's software, she's available on more than just Amazon's own devices.

Anyone can put Alexa on anything. You can make your own Alexa speaker for just a few bucks and a little bit of nerdy know-how. There are third-party Alexa speakers that look like Amazon's own Echo Dot. There are third-party Alexa speakers that look like speakers. You can get Alexa baked into a smart thermostat. She's built into the HTC U11 smartphone.

The point is, Alexa can be built into pretty much anything these days.

But that's just half of the story.

It's all about the Alexa Skills, baby ...

Alexa starts out by knowing what Amazon tells it. She already knows how to tell the time, and set alarms and timers, or answer general questions and read headlines. But Alexa also has the ability to learn more. A lot more.

Or, more precisely, you have the ability to teach Alexa new things.

See all of Amazon's Skills here

Amazon calls these things "Skills," and there are hundreds of them.

Want to teach Alexa to turn on your smart lights, or open your garage door, or do anything she doesn't already know how to do? You need a Skill. That's where developers come in. Amazon has made it so that anyone can write an Alexa Skill, and companies and their developers have been doing so for years now.

Think about the things you do every day. Listen to satellite radio? There's a Skill for that. Lock your house after you're already at work? It's a little daunting, actually. There are hundreds and hundreds of Skills, of varying degrees of usefulness. (Dog facts, uh, OK.)

How to enable and disable Alexa Skills

Alexa calling and messaging

All of that connected home stuff is great, and it's important. But one of the more exciting avenues of potential lies in Alex Calling and Messaging. As the name implies, it's the ability to make calls and leave messages through Alexa. From the outset it works with Echo devices and the Alexa app on phones and tablets. If you have an original Echo or Echo Dot, you can make voice calls. If you have an Echo Show, you can make video calls, or even "drop in" on a close acquaintance (they have to approve you first) without them having to hit a single button.

That's where these $50 Echo Dots really make a lot of sense. Now Amazon has a means for you to communicate not just on that little Dot, but also on your phone. It's two birds with one stone, and it's really just the start of things. And it makes up for where Amazon failed in trying to make its own phone. Folks didn't want a Fire Phone, but they do want an Echo — especially an inexpensive on — and in buying one they have to put the Alexa app on their phone.

It's not quite a benevolent Trojan Horse, but it's close.

Read: Amazon is getting close to being the king of all messaging

Amazon Alexa

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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.cta .shop { border-radius: 5px; display: inline-block; font: 14px/31px "Proxima Nova Extrabld",Helvetica,Arial,sans-serif; text-align: center; } .devicebox a.cta .shop, .devicebox a.cta .shop:link, .devicebox a.cta .shop:active, .devicebox a.cta .shop:visited { background: #37B5D7; color: #FFF; } .devicebox a.cta .shop:hover { background: #2694B2; text-decoration: none; } .devicebox a.cta .shop: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.cta .shop { width: calc(50% - 2.5px); margin: 0 5px 5px 0; } .devicebox a.cta .shop:nth-of-type(even) { margin: 0 0 5px 0; } .devicebox a.cta .shop: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.cta .shop { width: calc(100%/3 - 10px/3); margin: 0 5px 5px 0; } .devicebox a.cta .shop:nth-of-type(3n):not(:nth-last-of-type(2)) { margin: 0 0 5px 0; } .devicebox a.cta .shop:only-child { width: 100%; margin: 0 0 5px 0; } .devicebox a.cta .shop:nth-last-of-type(2):nth-of-type(3n+1), .devicebox a.cta .shop:nth-last-of-type(2):nth-of-type(3n+1) ~ a.cta .shop, .devicebox a.cta .shop:nth-last-of-type(4):nth-of-type(3n+1), .devicebox a.cta .shop:nth-last-of-type(4):nth-of-type(3n+1) ~ a.cta .shop { width: calc(50% - 2.5px); } .devicebox a.cta .shop:nth-last-of-type(2):nth-of-type(3n+1) ~ a.cta .shop, .devicebox a.cta .shop:nth-last-of-type(4):nth-of-type(3n+1) ~ a.cta .shop: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.cta .shop: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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1 week ago

The Galaxy S9 and its Hyperknit case are a match made in heaven

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The Galaxy S9 and its Hyperknit case are a match made in heaven

Strange name. Great case.

It's not often that a case speaks to me, but when the Galaxy S9 was unveiled in Barcelona and the beautifully-lit, cavernous demo area was opened up, I was almost (almost!) as intrigued by the first-party accessories as the phone itself. And I was not disappointed.

After gazing longingly at Samsung's Alcantara case last year — I bought one for the Note 8 — I wondered what else would be available, the alongside the practical, colorful silicone coverings I saw the true winner of the accessory crown, the oddly-named Hyperknit cover.

It's difficult to describe exactly why it works so well, but the so-called "woven material" it's made from feels like nothing else I've ever used. It's light and grippy, almost cloth-like but coarser, with what appears to be a houndstooth pattern lending to its airiness.

Like this year's Alcantara case — an improvement over last year's model — there are real, reinforced plastic buttons on the sides, and the bottom is open, leaving the headphone, charging, and speaker ports open. Some have criticized this move, but I prefer it: the phone is already water-resistant, and the corners are reinforced to absorb any impact to the bottom part of the frame.

Of course, being open this isn't a protective case — Samsung has its own (cheaper) Military Grade Case with Kickstand for that — but it's already saved my Galaxy S9 from more than a couple ignominious falls in the few weeks I've had it.

I also think it looks great. I have the grey model to accompany my purple S9, but there is a red version that would look fantastic with a black or grey phone. I particularly like the way the lilac glint of the fingerprint sensor contrasts with the muted ashen case.

If there's a minor criticism to level at the Hyperknit cover, it's the difficulty in activating the swipe-down notification gesture on the fingerprint sensor. The actual gesture requires the whole sensor to be covered, and such an action requires a bit of finesse, and maybe one or two repeats, with the case turned on. Andrew noticed the same thing on the Alcantara model, too, so it's not unique to this model, but it does hamper the experience somewhat if it's a common gesture, which it is for me.

The Galaxy S9, even the smaller model, is so slippery I actually feel like a case makes the phone better. I bought the GS9 with the Hyperknit cover and haven't felt the need to remove it which, given the number of cases I receive, is high praise indeed.

The Hyperknit cover runs for around $35, but it's a bit less than that on Amazon right now.

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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.cta .shop { border-radius: 5px; display: inline-block; font: 14px/31px "Proxima Nova Extrabld",Helvetica,Arial,sans-serif; text-align: center; } .devicebox a.cta .shop, .devicebox a.cta .shop:link, .devicebox a.cta .shop:active, .devicebox a.cta .shop:visited { background: #37B5D7; color: #FFF; } .devicebox a.cta .shop:hover { background: #2694B2; text-decoration: none; } .devicebox a.cta .shop: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.cta .shop { width: calc(50% - 2.5px); margin: 0 5px 5px 0; } .devicebox a.cta .shop:nth-of-type(even) { margin: 0 0 5px 0; } .devicebox a.cta .shop: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.cta .shop { width: calc(100%/3 - 10px/3); margin: 0 5px 5px 0; } .devicebox a.cta .shop:nth-of-type(3n):not(:nth-last-of-type(2)) { margin: 0 0 5px 0; } .devicebox a.cta .shop:only-child { width: 100%; margin: 0 0 5px 0; } .devicebox a.cta .shop:nth-last-of-type(2):nth-of-type(3n+1), .devicebox a.cta .shop:nth-last-of-type(2):nth-of-type(3n+1) ~ a.cta .shop, .devicebox a.cta .shop:nth-last-of-type(4):nth-of-type(3n+1), .devicebox a.cta .shop:nth-last-of-type(4):nth-of-type(3n+1) ~ a.cta .shop { width: calc(50% - 2.5px); } .devicebox a.cta .shop:nth-last-of-type(2):nth-of-type(3n+1) ~ a.cta .shop, .devicebox a.cta .shop:nth-last-of-type(4):nth-of-type(3n+1) ~ a.cta .shop: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.cta .shop: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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