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1 week ago

Pixel 2 Driving Do Not Disturb API coming to developers in 2018

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Helping to silence notifications while on the road.

It can sometimes be quite easy to get lost in our phones, and while there's nothing inherently wrong with this, there are times and places where our devices need to put away. Picking up your phone to check notifications or browse through Twitter while driving can be awfully tempting at times, and Google is rolling out a new API next year to help cut back on these potential distractions.

One of the new features of the Pixel 2/2 XL is Driving Do Not Disturb. This is a setting that allows you to automatically turn on Do Not Disturb when your Pixel 2 detects that you're behind the wheel, and the phone does this through the use of low power signals, Bluetooth, and Wi-Fi connections.

The feature is currently limited to Do Not Disturb settings for the Pixel 2, but beginning in early 2018, Google says that it'll be releasing the API for this tech so that developers can integrate it into their own applications.

Google is calling it the Activity Recognition Transition API, and we'll likely see it adopted into navigation and safe driving apps that are meant to safely be used when on the road. A more specific ETA for the API's release has yet to be announced, but we can probably expect to see apps add the tech within Q1 of 2018.

Google Pixel 2 will automatically enable Do Not Disturb if you're driving

Google Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL

Google Store Project Fi Verizon Best Buy

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1 week ago

Essential Phone review re-do: What a difference a discount makes

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I normally like to wait at least a year to give a smartphone the old "review re-do" treatment, but this is a special case. The Andy Rubin-led startup Essential changed everything when it slashed the price of its namesake flagship by $200 barely two months after launch, instantly instantly transforming the Essential Phone from an overpriced mobile with a terrible camera into a genuine bargain … with a terrible camera.

Yes, the Essential Phone's optics remain a sore spot even after a 28% price cut – but as with most things Android, there's a hack for that. Let's find out if the deep discount combined with a little sideloading can make the PH-1 a late-season winner! Revisit Android Central's Essential Phone review for some context, then hit up MrMobile's Essential Phone Review Re-Do for the November update!

Stay social, my friends

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1 week ago

Get your lawn under control with the $69 Orbit B-hyve smart sprinkler system

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Don't let grass ruin your life.

The Orbit B-hyve 6-station controller is down to $68.99 on Amazon. It normally sells around $100 and has never dropped this low before.

This Orbit B-hyve 12-station smart sprinkler system controller is also on sale for $82.99. It regularly sells right around $120. It has seen a few drops close to $90 but those have all been temporary and never as low as this.

Compare this to the Rachio sprinkler controller, which is the market leader for these sort of devices. An 8-zone Rachio is $200. You're getting a lot more value from the Orbit with 6 stations for $69. The Orbit has 4.5 stars based on 765 user reviews.

Features include:

  • The B-hyve app is fully functional for Android, iOS or web devices, and gives you control wherever you need it. Program your timer on the app, at the timer, or let the weather-based software create a program for you
  • WeatherSense technology provides watering based on site conditions such as slope, soil type, sun/shade, forecast ET and live weather feeds. It automatically adjusts your controller to deliver the right amount of water to your plants
  • Utilize the swing panel for easy access to the angled wiring terminals, which makes wiring simple and convenient, and the plug-and-go line cord that can also be cut for hardwired applications
  • Made in the USA with global materials, the B-hyve comes in a weather-resistant case, allowing you to mount your timer indoors or outdoors without risk of weather damage, and a locking cabinet that keeps your timer safe from harm
  • Integrate your B-hyve timer with use of Catch Cups (Orbit 26250) to save up to 50% more water than with traditional controllers. Optimize the way you water, so you can keep everything lush and green without breaking the bank

Get an Alexa device like the Amazon Echo Dot to enable voice control.

See at Amazon

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1 week ago

This 4-pack of Arlo Pro cameras is down to $500

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Rely on these cameras to keep an eye on what you can't!

Is this deal for me?

If you've looked into home security cameras in the past, odds are that you came across Netgear's Arlo cameras. There are a bunch (maybe too many) of different options available, from single camera packs to six camera packs, and there are also the regular Arlo cameras and the Pro ones. Lots to take in, but don't worry about that.

Right now you can pick up a 4-pack of Netgear's Arlo Pro security cameras for $499.99 at Amazon and Best Buy, which is a savings of $150 from its regular price. We know, $500 is a lot to spend, but when you consider that this 4-pack of cameras is actually cheaper than the 3-pack is right now, and it's only $83 more than a pack that comes with only 2 cameras, the value quickly surfaces.

The Arlo Pro models come with a bunch of additional features that the Arlo cameras don't have. One of the big ones is the built-in siren, which can be used to let people know you see them and that they should get out of an area they shouldn't be. Another big one is that the cameras come with a rechargeable battery that supports fast charging, and they can be used both indoors and outdoors without needing any wires. You'll have free access to the 7 most recent days of cloud recordings and can always upgrade to gain access to even more than that.

This deal is part of Best Buy's Early Black Friday specials, and the discounts are only valid through Saturday evening. Be sure to grab a set of these cameras to enhance the security at home and put yourself at ease that nothing bad is happening while you are away.

TL;DR

  • What makes this deal worth considering? - There are tons of security camera options out there, and finding the right one is no easy task. They vary in price and feature set, but Netgear's Arlo cameras are consistently one of the highest-rated options. This 4-pack of Arlo Pro cameras is actually nearly $20 less than the 3-camera kit is selling for right now, and only $83 more than the 2-camera setup runs.
  • Things to know before you buy! - These cameras are weatherproof, which means you can put them inside or outside, depending on your preference. Each camera has a rechargeable battery that supports fast charging, and the system has a built-in siren for scaring off people who are where they shouldn't be. You'll be able to access 7 days of cloud recordings for free, and you can pay for access to extended periods of time.

See at Amazon

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1 week ago

Recover from late night gaming sessions with the $24 Aeropress coffee maker

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You could've woken up this morning to a double espresso you made yourself!

The AeroPress coffee and espresso maker is down to $23.96 on Amazon. That's $6 off its regular price. It was actually out of stock for a while there, so just the fact that it's available again is a great sign.

For me, video games and coffee go together like salt and pepper. They always come paired together. Being able to make my own coffee at home, simply and easily, is key to keeping up with modern video games. If I had to stand in line for coffee every day, I'd never have time to beat an open-world game like Assassin's Creed Origins.

Features include:

  • Rapid, total immersion brewing process makes delicious full flavored coffee without bitterness
  • Makes 1 to 3 cups per pressing in about one minute, Brews regular American style coffee
  • Brews espresso style coffee for use in lattes and other espresso based drinks, the brewing process takes about 30 seconds
  • Microfilter means no grit in your cup (unlike a French press), Clean up takes just seconds
  • Available with zippered nylon tote bag - great for travel, Made in the U.S.A
  • Has always been phthalate free and has been bisphenol-A (BPA) free since 2009

While it comes with a few paper filters to use right away, you might want to invest in this $9 reusable mesh filter for when you inevitably run out.

This coffee maker has 4.6 stars based on 4,588 user reviews.

See at Amazon

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1 week ago

Best Small Data Plan

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A good small data plan does exist, even if nobody advertises them.

Unlimited plans get all the press and all the glitter, but most people don't need one. That's why small data plans still exist and are popular options.

Shopping for a phone plan is unnecessarily difficult, especially now that all four big U.S. carriers want to force you to the more expensive unlimited data offering. But there are alternatives if you dive deep into a carrier's website, and some of them are a decent value.

We did the digging, and here's what we found.

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AT&T

AT&T's best single-line value for folks who don't want or need unlimited data is their $45 AT&T Prepaid offering. There are some cheaper plans like the Prepaid $35 plan or using a single line on the Mobile Share Advantage Family Plan for $30, but you'll get far less data to use each month for very little difference in price. A look at the Prepaid $45 plan

Price Features $45 per month 6GB LTE data
Unlimited talk and text in the US
Unlimited talk and text to Canada and Mexico
Roaming in Mexico & Canada (Talk, Text & Data)
Unlimited text to over 100 countries

Once 6GB of high-speed data is used, you'll be slowed down to 128kbps data speeds for the remainder of the month. AT&T also offers a discount for multiple lines on one account. You save $5 for each line up to a maximum of five (a $20 total).

For comparison's sake, this same plan with unlimited data is available for $65.

AT&T also offers a $35 monthly plan with all the perks above and a 1GB monthly data allotment. Signing up for Autopay will save $5 each month on all Prepaid plans.

The comparable 6GB Mobile Share Advantage postpaid plan (you'll need to use a postpaid plan you finance a phone through AT&T) comes in at $60 per month, but includes rollover data.

See plans at AT&T

Sprint

In addition to its prepaid plans, Sprint offers a postpaid option for folks who only use a small amount of data each month.

Price Features $45 per month 2GB LTE data (including tethering)
Unlimited talk and text
Unlimited international text

Customers who sign up for autopay can save $5 per month. Sprint advertises its 2GB plan as "the lowest price entry plan among national carriers." This is true if you use autopay, but in many cases, a few dollars more gets you a plan with double the data.

For reference, Sprint's single-line unlimited data plan is $60 per month.

One thing we will have to say here is that Sprint makes it easy to shop for what you need. This postpaid option isn't buried or hidden behind several pages that feature the unlimited plan.

See plans at Sprint

T-Mobile

T-Mobile's only postpaid plan for new customers is its unlimited offering. It does have several prepaid options available.

Price Features $45 per month 4GB of LTE data (including tethering)
Unlimited talk and text
Music Unlimited (stream music without using your data)
Wi-Fi calling

T-Mobile also offers the same plan with 6GB of LTE data for $55 per month. International talk and text packages are extra and start at $5 per month. The fine print for T-Mobile's Simply Prepaid plan has a few things that need mentioning. You are given 50MB of out-of-network roaming each month, and calling plan options only support a two-party conversation; Conference calls may cost extra.

For reference, T-Mobile's unlimited prepaid plan is $75 per month.

T-Mobile is the king of "limited time offers" and have a current prepaid promotion that's pretty darn great.

Price Features $50 per month 10GB of LTE data (including tethering)
Unlimited talk and text
Music Unlimited (stream music without using your data)
Wi-Fi calling

The fine print on this one reads: Plus taxes & fees. Limited-time offer, subject to change. Compatible device and qualifying plan req'd.

See plans at T-Mobile

Verizon

Price Features $35 ($551) 2GB of LTE data (including tethering)
Unlimited Talk and Text
Rollover data (30 days maximum)
Additional data for $15 per gigabyte

1All Verizon plans have a $20 line-access fee.

Verizon offers this plan with more monthly data in two other options: 4GB of LTE data for $50 per month and 8GB of LTE data for $70 per month. Also note that a $20 line access fee is required for each phone using any of Verizon's "Small Data Plans."

All postpaid plans allow you to continue to use data at lower speeds once your monthly allotment is reached. These postpaid plans do not include any equipment fees if you need to buy a phone from Verizon.

*See plans at Verizon

The best small data plan

This is hard, because there is no one small data plan that stands out.

AT&T's $45 plan offers a great value with 6GB of data and AT&T has good nationwide coverage. T-Mobile's promotional plan with 10GB for $50 is a better deal, but limited time could mean anything and T-Mobile isn't going to be a great option for people in rural and exburb areas. Sprint can get you online for cheap once you enroll in Autopay, but a 2GB plan on a struggling network isn't very exciting. Verizon's data plans are priced right, their network is great almost everywhere in the country, but the $20 line access fee brings the price up to $55 each month.


Where you live will determine which small data plan is best

Coverage, coverage, coverage. We can't say it enough — a data plan is no good unless it works in the places you need it to work.

Pricing is important. We're not trying to deny that. But saving $5 or even $10 per month for service you can't use is not a good value. The same goes for plans with more data. Having more GB per month that you'll never use because the service is bad is not a good plan for you, no matter the pricing or perks. That's why our pick for the best small data plan is split into three different sections.

Overall, AT&T offers the best small data plan as of November 2017

A few factors influence our decision here, and it's important to understand them in case our pick isn't the best for you.

  • Coverage. AT&T has a very good nationwide data network, and they are using remote and small cell solutions to combat the congestion that happens everywhere there are more people than a network can handle.
  • Phone choice. A lot of phones are optimized for AT&T's network, but almost every phone from any company you buy in 2017 will work on AT&T. That means a $50 Android phone from Amazon or a $1200 256GB iPhone X.
  • International perks. International use isn't the most important part of our decision making process, but knowing you can call or text a friend or relative in Canada or Mexico is pretty awesome. So is being able to use your phone while on vacation in Aucopolco or Prince Edward Island.
  • More data than you need at the same price as others. You're shopping for a small data plan, but the same $45 you'll spend at another carrier gives you 6GB of LTE data to use. Never look a gift horse in the mouth.

Check the coverage maps. Check with your friends. Check the forums and ask other folks in your area. If AT&T has the coverage you need, this is the plan to pick.

See at AT&T

The alternatives

We said AT&T covers almost everyone in the U.S. There are places where you won't be able to use AT&T, though. If this means you, then you likely only have one choice.

Verizon's coverage makes their small data plan a must-have for many. Most people in the United States are concentrated in urban and suburban areas. But some of us aren't, and even more of us work in places far away from the concrete and asphalt of a city. Verizon will give you the best coverage and you'll have 2GB of data for $55 each month.

See at Verizon

There are also a whole lot of us in a whole lot of places where coverage isn't really an issue. When every carrier will give you the service you need, there's another option if you are shopping today.

That T-Mobile limited-time offer. 10GB for $50 is easily the best value here. If T-Mobile has the coverage you need and you're shopping right now, it's a simple choice — go magenta. Just take a long look at the coverage situation and make sure you're part of the 95%+ that can use T-Mobile.

See at T-Mobile

An MVNO might be the best answer

Looking at all the offerings from the carriers above, one thing is clear:

The Big Four carriers want you to sign up for an expensive unlimited plan, and their pricing on small data plans often is so close to the unlimited plan that it's difficult to recommend them.

There is a better solution that will fit almost anyone, and it's because all four carriers have agreements with alternative carriers, or MVNOs (Mobile Virtual Network Operators). A prepaid option from an MVNO is mostly identical to the prepaid plans from the carriers themselves, and you'll find a wider selection of plans, and usually with a better price. Companies like Cricket, Straight Talk, or Mint SIM can beat the Big Four's pricing and give you the same service on the same network.

Update November 2017: This article was updated with the most current information from all carriers.

Carriers

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1 week ago

The Essential Phone is a lot better than you might think

37

After price cuts and software updates, the Essential Phone is getting a lot of positive feedback.

Over the course of just a few months, the Essential Phone has transformed from an overpriced device that was hard to recommend to just about anyone into something that's very competitively priced and offers some of the best bang for your buck for $500.

The team over at Essential has been working nonstop to push out regular software updates to make using the PH-1 as enjoyable as possible, and at this point in November of 2017, the handset is exceeding a lot of people's expectations.

Some of our forum users recently got to talking about their experience with the phone, and this is what they had to say.

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Darius DuPree 11-07-2017 10:16 AM “

I ordered a white PH-1 as soon as the $499 price popped up, I was a little bitter after BestBuy dropped it to $450 but I wasn't charged tax through Essential.com so it cancelled out the price. After much second guessing myself while I waited for it to arrive and wanting to just spend the extra for a V30, I am glad to say it's way better than I expected it to be. Now I do have some minor issues,...

Reply
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andrew_ackley 11-07-2017 10:32 AM “

I love mine. I got the black one. Make sure for now you disable the swipe down on fps to open notifications bc that was causing my freeze ups. For under $500 this phone is fantastic. Beats the one plus in my opinion. I dropped mine from waist height onto concrete floor the day after I got it and all I have is a TINY almost unnoticeable nick in the material around the screen. Whatever that is...

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raqball 11-08-2017 09:42 PM “

My white came today from the Mothership so a few thoughts. Had to run 3 updates out of the box but all up to date now and rockin' along. The phone is gorgeous and built like a tank! The camera is nowhere even close to being bad. It's not the best but photos are more than adequate. It's fast and snappy. Just as fast and snappy as my Pixel and maybe even a little smoother. The screen? WOW!...

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modifier 11-09-2017 07:49 AM “

raqball - Glad to hear you like the phone so far. I know you were on the fence since launch and it sounds like the wait was worth it. Performance on the November update has been excellent. It keeps getting smoother with each OTA. And, you're right about the camera. I've been using the Essential camera app far more lately and uninstalled the Google HDR+ port. I'm getting better daytime...

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DominionRoofs 11-09-2017 09:51 AM “

I've had mine going on three days now. I really love this phone! Is fast and smooth. Perfect size and that screen!. So the only issue that still needs fixing (besides camera),which is what it is, is touch scrolling. Flick scrolling is great, but if you keep your finger on the screen without lifting and scroll, it's very choppy. I don't scroll the way but it does need to be fixed. There are...

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With all that said, we'd still like to hear from you – If you own the Essential Phone, what are your impressions of the device?

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Essential Phone

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1 week ago

What color Galaxy Note 8 should you buy: Black, grey, gold, or blue?

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What color Galaxy Note 8 should you buy

So you're going to get a Galaxy Note 8 — but what color do you choose?

It's the question so many people will be asking themselves as they eyeball the Galaxy Note 8. Which of the available colors is "best" for me? Well we can't make up your mind for you, but we can offer looks at each of the four colors of the Galaxy Note 8, all side-by-side, and talk about a few of each one's characteristics.

Hopefully with that extra info and some pretty pictures, you'll have the knowledge you need to make a call on which one is the right color for you.

Galaxy Note 8 in Midnight Black

You can never go wrong releasing a black phone. Just like the Galaxy S8 and S8+, the "Midnight Black" Note 8 is black on black from the screen bezels to the metal surround to the back glass. It's glossy all around, and at a glance it's actually tough to differentiate between the high gloss metal and the glass on either side.

Who is it for?

If you're not sure about what color you want to get, black is always a safe choice. It's sleek, simple and understated, without being boring thanks to its shiny exterior. It's also best equipped to handle the daily scratches and scuffs it's likely to pick up as you use it, so this would be a great choice for those who may not use a case.

Galaxy Note 8 in Orchid Grey

You'd be forgiven for thinking that an "Orchid Grey" Galaxy Note 8 would be the same color as an "Orchid Grey" Galaxy S8 ... but actually, they're different. The Note 8's take on the color is considerably lighter, and far more on the spectrum of blue rather than purple. It's so different we're kind of surprised Samsung uses the same name.

It's still very attractive, for sure, and without being as reflective and outright shiny as the Maple Gold color.

Who is it for?

Orchid Grey is the lightest color available for the Note 8, and offers a light color option for people who don't want to go with gold or would have previously gone with a white phone when Samsung was making that color available.

Galaxy Note 8 in Maple Gold

Samsung has been doing some sort of gold/champagne/silver color for a few years now, and Maple Gold on the Galaxy Note 8 is a slight tweak on the historical norm. It's a bit deeper in color than previous versions, and it's accented by a super-shiny gold metal band around the sides. When the light catches it just right, the metal lights up — and at the same time the back glass can shift to a softer champagne or silver color.

Who is it for?

If you want to flashy, Maple Gold is the color for you. The bright gold frame really stands out from the other three colors, and will do the same in the company of phones from other companies as well.

Galaxy Note 8 in Deep Sea Blue

Deep Sea Blue instantly became a favorite of the Android Central team because of its deep, luscious hue of a navy-like blue with just a bit of a turquoise tinge depending on how the light hits it. It actually looks quite similar to the deep blue color offered in the Galaxy Note 5, though with more depth to it. The frame is the same kind of blue, and it's more on the dull side than the other colors.

Who is it for?

If you want a deep, strong color to your phone but don't want the flare and shine of the maple gold or orchid grey colors, this is going to be for you. It stands out from a crowd, but can just as simply blend in if you toss a case on it.

Regional differences matter

Don't get too attached to a specific color before you figure out which colors will actually be available where you live. If you're in the U.S., you'll have Midnight Black and Orchid Grey to choose from if you buy from the carriers, plus Deep Sea Blue if you go to Best Buy (carrier models or unlocked) or Samsung.com (unlocked). In Canada, the color choices are Midnight Black and Deep Sea Blue. Internationally, with some potential variations by market and retailer, you'll have access to all four colors.


Samsung Galaxy Note 8

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1 week ago

How to download and install MIUI 9 on the Redmi Note 4

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It's a straightforward process to update to MIUI 9 on the Redmi Note 4.

Xiaomi has started rolling out the stable build of MIUI 9 to its devices in India, with the Redmi Note 4, the Mi Mix 2, and the Mi Max 2 included in the first wave. The company kicked off the OTA update to the Redmi Note 4 at the start of the week, and if you haven't received the notification yet on your device, here's what you can do.

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1 week ago

Samsung Galaxy Note 8 India review: Two months later

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Galaxy Note 8 review

The Galaxy Note 8 is the best phone you can buy in India.

Samsung jumped on the minimal bezel bandwagon earlier this year with the Galaxy S8 and S8+, offering an evocative design with top-notch internals. The Infinity Display design language backed by Samsung's industry-leading Super AMOLED panels ensured the Galaxy S8 and S8+ broke all sales records for the company, allowing Samsung to set record profits for three quarters in a row.

With the Galaxy Note 8, Samsung is looking to keep that momentum going. Samsung has perfected the two flagship-per-year release cycle: the Galaxy S series is aimed at mainstream users, whereas the enthusiast-focused Note lineup is the proving ground for the South Korean manufacturer's latest tech. That's no different this time around, with the Note 8 being the first phone to receive dual rear cameras. It is also the first Samsung flagship with 6GB of RAM.

The Note 8 is available for ₹67,900 in India, and at that price point there really isn't a lot of competition. The Pixel 2 XL is retailing in the country for ₹73,000, and while Google is stepping up its marketing efforts, it cannot meet the scale of Samsung's marketing might. Read on to find out why the Galaxy Note 8 is the best phone currently available in India.

Galaxy Note 8 What you'll love

Galaxy Note 8 review

Unlike the iPhone X, there's no notch to distract you from the beautiful OLED display.

The Galaxy Note 8 shares a lot of visual cues from the Galaxy S8+, which isn't necessarily a bad thing as the GS8+ is one of the best-looking phones in the market today. The phone has a slightly larger 6.3-inch QHD Super AMOLED display, and to accommodate the S Pen, Samsung increased the overall thickness to 8.6mm, 0.5mm more than the GS8+.

The increase in size makes the Note 8 rather boxy, with less pronounced curves at the front and back. However, the design works in the phone's favor, as you have more room to grip the device. The phone features an aluminum mid-frame sandwiched between two Gorilla Glass 5-backed glass panels. The Infinity Display is still a sight to behold, and unlike the iPhone X, there isn't a cutout for the front camera that mars the overall look at the front.

Like the Galaxy S8+, the screen on the Note 8 is one of its best features. Samsung has invested significant amounts of resources into its AMOLED display tech over the years, and the result is that the company has the best displays in the smartphone segment. Thanks to HDR10 Mobile certification, you'll be able to take full advantage of the panel in apps like Netflix and Prime Video.

The Note 8's display has a resolution of 2960 x 1440, but it runs at 2220 x 1080 out of the box. You can, however, head into the display settings and change the native resolution to QHD+. There are four display modes to choose from, which let you tailor the screen to your preferences. The panel gets sufficiently bright under harsh sunlight and goes all the way down to 2nits in low-light conditions. The Always On Display has picked up a few additions as well, giving you a quick overview of the time and incoming notifications without having to switch on the phone.

Coming over to the performance, the Exynos 8895 SoC coupled with 6GB of RAM ensure the Note 8 blazes through everyday tasks with ease. I haven't encountered any lag in over two months' of usage, and the phone continues to be a delight to use. (The North American version ships with Qualcomm's Snapdragon 835 SoC.)

Samsung Galaxy Note 8 specs

Galaxy Note 8 review

Not everyone picking up a Note 8 will use the S Pen regularly, but the stylus is a great addition. The ability to take notes while the screen is off comes in handy if you need to jot down a few lines in a hurry, and Samsung Notes gives you plenty of options for doodling. The screen-off memo is engaged automatically when the display is off, and Air Command kicks in when you pull the stylus out of its silo when the screen is on, giving you quick access to shortcuts. Smart Select allowing you to take screenshots of a particular area on the screen, Screen Write lets you doodle on the screen, and Translate gives you access to real-time translations.

You're better off just ignoring Bixby altogether.

Then there's Live Message, which is an interesting addition to the S Pen's feature set. Live Message lets you draw and send animated messages, with the feature recording your pen strokes in real time. There are several fonts and effects to choose from, and you can send the message in any app that supports GIFs. You can also invoke Bixby Vision from Air Command, but you're better off not using the feature.

Galaxy Note 8 review

With the Galaxy Note 8, Samsung finally made the switch to dual rear cameras. The manufacturer ended up using a primary 12MP camera — similar to that on the Galaxy S8+ — and augmenting it with a secondary 12MP telephoto lens. The primary shooter has an f/1.7 lens, 1.4-micron pixels, and Dual Pixel autofocus, whereas the secondary lens offers an f/2.4 aperture and 1.0-micron pixels.

What's different with Samsung's implementation is that both imaging sensors feature OIS. The introduction of the telephoto lens enables 2x optical zoom and a portrait mode in the form of Live Focus. The mode selectively blurs out the background, and you have the option to adjust background blur after the fact.

As is the case with the Galaxy S8+, photos and videos shot with the Note 8 are exceptional. The phone consistently delivers great images irrespective of the lighting conditions. Photos come out saturated and with plenty of dynamic range, and the phone is one of the best at shooting in low-light scenarios.

Galaxy Note 8 review

The Note 8 comes with Samsung Experience 8.5 atop Android 7.1.1 Nougat out of the box, and the overall experience is in line with that of the Galaxy S8+. It'll take you a few days to go through the sheer number of features on offer, and even if you don't end up using all of them, they're there if you need them.

Samsung Pay continues to be great for payments at offline stores, with the service picking up 1.5 million customers over the last few months. Barring a few retail stores, I haven't had any issues using the mobile payments service to pay for purchases over the last two months.

Samsung is great at including a lot of goodies with its flagships, and with the Note 8, you get AKG-branded earbuds in the box, spare tips for the S Pen, a clear case, and a USB Type-C to Type-A and a Type-C to Micro-USB converter. The AKG headphones are surprisingly good, with decent bass response and clear highs — they're certainly a far cry better than bundled earbuds from most other manufacturers.

You can also redeem a free wireless charger from the My Galaxy app, provided you purchased the Note 8 before October 21.

Galaxy Note 8 What needs work

Galaxy Note 8 review

Samsung was always going to be conservative regarding battery size following last year's debacle. The 3300mAh battery is smaller than the 3500mAh unit on the Galaxy S8+, and combine that with a slightly larger 6.3-inch screen and you'll find that the battery life on the Note 8 is one of its main drawbacks. The phone barely manages to last the course of a day, with usage spread across an hour or two of web browsing, streaming music over Spotify, social media, navigation, and an hour's worth of calls.

Battery life is really the only major knock against the Note 8 right now.

Screen-on-time averaged anywhere between three-and-a-half hours to four hours, but that varied wildly based on usage patterns. During the weekends — when I was out running chores and was primarily using cellular data — I saw screen-on-time of under three hours, with the battery lasting for just over 10 hours.

While vacationing in Thailand, a fully-charged Note 8 conked out in just under seven hours, with screen-on-time of under two hours. I managed to take a hundred photos, and that undoubtedly put a strain on the battery. But in the time it took the Note 8's battery to go down to 5%, the Pixel 2 XL — which was also used to shoot a lot of images — still had a 45% charge.

Galaxy Note 8 review

Samsung's much-hyped virtual assistant Bixby still needs a lot of work. Bixby Voice debuted in India last month, and while it's great for surfacing specific images from the gallery or delving into the settings, it isn't a service you'll end up using often. The lack of integrations make Google Assistant a much better alternative, particularly when you consider that the "Ok Google" hotword works even when the screen is off.

Another area of annoyance with the Galaxy Note 8 is the location of the fingerprint sensor. Its placement was awkward on the GS8+, and things haven't gotten any better on the Note 8. Given that the phone is larger than the S8+, you'll find it harder to reach the sensor.

Finally, the single speaker at the bottom is decent, but it's nowhere close to the BoomSound setup on the HTC U11 or the stereo speakers on the iPhone 8 Plus.

Galaxy Note 8 Bottom line

Galaxy Note 8 review

Although the Note 8 has sub-standard battery life, the phone more than makes up for it in other areas. The screen and the camera in particular are outstanding, and the sheer number of features on offer make it the phone to beat in 2017.

The Pixel 2 XL has a better software experience, and Google's advances in computational photography have led to an outstanding camera, but the lack of a 3.5mm jack is a drawback. Then there's the fact that the Pixel 2 XL has a blue tint across the display, and the phone is also plagued with quality control issues.

Simply put, if you want the best overall package, the Galaxy Note 8 should be at the top of your list.

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Samsung Galaxy Note 8

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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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1 week ago

New T-Mobile app checks if your phone supports Extended Range and VoLTE

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The app is called "BYOD Check App", and it's available on the Play Store right now.

T-Mobile's been one of the most disruptive carriers in the wireless space for some time now, and while some of the company's decisions have created for a fair bit of controversy here and there, there's no denying the Un-Carrier's constant push to offer the best wirelss service possible for its subscribers.

Shortly after announcing that its LTE Advanced network is now available in more than 920 markets, T-Mobile just released a new app on the Play Store called "BYOD Check App." It's a pretty simple application, but it serves an important purpose.

Once you open up the app and either type in the first eight digits of your phone's IMEI number or use your camera to scan it, the app will let you know whether or not your device is compatible with T-Mobile's Extended Range Network and VoLTE.

Phones with either band 12 (700MHz) or band 71 (600MHz) are supported here, and while you can just as easily find this info by doing a quick Google search, having an app right from the horse's mouth is nice to get that extra bit of confirmation that some folks might want before making the switch.

If you want to download the app for yourself, check the link above.

T-Mobile's LTE Advanced network now live in over 920 markets

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1 week ago

HBO GO/NOW getting all eight Harry Potter movies in 2018

6

Don't expect to be very productive this coming January.

There are certain movies that deserve to be watched over and over again, and the entire Harry Potter series falls into this category beautifully. The tale of the Boy Who Lived is one that never gets old, and starting at the beginning of next year, you'll be able to binge watch all eight titles on HBO GO and HBO NOW.

Business Insider's Kim Renfro broke the news on Twitter, and the titles will all be available to stream starting on January 1, 2018. On that same day, HBO will also be airing the entire series starting at 9:00 AM ET/PT with Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone and ending with Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.

In addition to this, HBO Family will also air each movie in consecutive order starting January 2 and play one title each day at 8:00 PM.

This is the first time the Harry Potter movies have been available to watch on a streaming service, and although most wizards and witches likely already own hard copies of the titles, the fact that we'll soon be able to take them with us wherever we go is a thing of true beauty.

Google Assistant makes its way to HBO NOW, CBS All Access, and The CW

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1 week ago

GameStash wants to give you a Samsung Galaxy S8!

10

GameStash is here, and you can win a free Galaxy S8 just for trying it out!

So what exactly is GameStash, anyway? Think Netflix for Android games, but with a few smart twists. For just $4.99 per month, you get access to hundreds of awesome Android games — both free and paid — that you can download and play for as long as you're a GameStash subscriber. Big-name games like Rayman Jungle Run, King of Thieves, Talking Tom Gold Run, and Worms — fantastic titles that you'd either need to pay for, would typically have ads, or have in-app purchases from the Play Store — are available for free with a GameStash subscription. You can check out the announcement post for all the details!

We're clearly big fans of GameStash (who wouldn't be?), so we're teaming up with them to give one of you a new Samsung Galaxy S8 and give away a stack of plushies! Read on for all the details!

THE PRIZE: One GameStash user will win the new Samsung Galaxy S8! Two runners-up will receive Om Nom plushies from our friends at Zeptolab (they made the awesome Cut the Rope series and King of Thieves)!

THE GIVEAWAY: Head down to the widget at the bottom of this page. There are multiple ways to enter, each with varying point values. Complete all of the tasks for maximum entries and your best shot at winning! Keep in mind that all winning entries are verified and if the task was not completed or cannot be verified, a new winner will be chosen. Service is not included with the phone and is the responsibility of the winner. We also can't guarantee the phone works with your carrier, so make sure you check that before you enter. International winners will be responsible for any customs fees incurred during shipping.

The giveaway is open until November 21, 2017, and the winner will be announced right here after the closing date. Good luck!

Gamestash wants to give you a Samsung Galaxy S8!

GameStash

GameStash is an all-you-can-play subscription service for Android games featuring unlimited access to over 300 chart-topping titles in all categories, fully unlocked - no ads and no in-app purchases - for one low monthly price. It has a 14 day free trial with several games added every month.

Try for free GameStash

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1 week ago

Grab a SanDisk Ultra 128GB microSD card for $30

19

I mean, with 128GB you won't need any spare cards.

This SanDisk Ultra 128GB microSDXC card is down to $29.99 on Amazon. This card normally sells around $45. This is a price-match from Best Buy, part of an early Black Friday deal. This is the lowest price on this card in more than a year.

The nice thing about 128GB is you don't really have to worry about having spare SD cards if you're the sort of person who shoots a lot of high quality photos or does a lot of video recording. This thing works great to extend the storage life of your Nintendo Switch or a phone or security camera, too.

Features include:

  • Class 10 for Full HD video recording and playback
  • Memory Zone app lets you auto-manage media and memory for peak phone performance
  • Comes with SD adapter for use in cameras.
  • Designed for Android smartphones, tablets and other microSDXC compatible devices. Fast transfer speeds of up to 80MB/s

The card has a ten year warranty. Users give it 4.5 stars based on 28,000 reviews.

See at Amazon

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1 week ago

Essential 360 Camera can now livestream to Facebook

4

Essential 360 Camera + Facebook Live 360 = ❤

One of the biggest draws for Andy Rubin's Essential Phone is the two-pin connection system on the back that allows for modular accessories. Unfortunately, for the time being, the only one that's available is the company's 360 Camera. Essential's snap-on 360 camera is actually pretty good, but one area where it's been lacking since its release is proper app support.

Thankfully, with the latest update to the Essential 360 Camera, you can now livestream videos in 360-degrees to Facebook Live 360. This is a feature we've been eagerly anticipating, and accessing it is quite simple.

You can livestream to Facebook Live 360 right through the camera app.

Once the Essential 360 Camera is connected to your Essential Phone, go to the 360 Live page once its companion app opens up and then tap on the red "Live" icon. Add your Facebook account details, allow the Camera to have the necessary permissions, and then choose who you want to be able to see your livestream.

You can type in a description if you'd like, and from here, tapping the red "Live" icon again will then start the Facebook Live 360 stream. When you're ready to stop, tap the square "Stop" button.

We're still waiting for 360-degree livestream support for YouTube and Twitter, but until then, this is undoubtedly a welcome addition.

Essential Phone

Amazon Best Buy Sprint Telus

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