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2 weeks ago

Protecting your OnePlus 5: A tempered glass screen protector is a good idea

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OnePlus 5 tempered glass screen protector

Your choices are limited right now, but it's worth considering a tempered glass screen protector to keep your OnePlus 5's display in mint condition.

Tempered glass screen protectors are a great way to ensure any phone's screen stays in great condition throughout its life span. But there are often comrpomises involved in picking one. Edge-to-edge screen protectors will generally leave a small air gap between the transparent area and the display, which can affect visibility. Clear tempered glass protectors that adhere directly to the display area can run into problems with the 2.5D glass used in many modern phones, like the OnePlus 5.

Film screen protectors like the one pre-installed on the OnePlus 5 are a decent, simple alternative, but they're not quite the same.

Right now, since the OnePlus 5 is so new, there are only a handful of tempered glass screen protectors from reputable brands, so we'll be updating this list as we go. Nevertheless, here are some early options if you're looking to keep your OnePlus 5 screen in top condition from day one.

OnePlus tempered glass screen protector

OnePlus screen protector

OnePlus's official tempered glass screen protector for the OnePlus 5 covers the entire surface of the phone, with cutouts for the proximity sensor, camera, earpiece and fingerprint scanner.

This screen protector is rated for 9H hardness, meaning it can go toe-to-toe with keys and even knives and survive unscathed. It'll cover the full area of the display, so you don't need to worry about any unsightly edges cutting into your screen.

As is normal with this type of screen protector, the border extends 0.9 mm over the edge of the panel, so tight-fitting cases may cause issues.

See at OnePlus

Orzly tempered glass screen protector (2-pack)

OnePlus screen protector

Orzly's tempered glass screen protector for the OnePlus 5 is almost identical to OnePlus's official offering, with the same 9H hardness rating and cutouts for all the vital areas. Once again, it'll protrude ever so slightly around the top of the panel, which is worth bearing mind if you plan in pairing it with a case of any kind.

The main difference here, though, is the price, as Orzly's screen protectors are available in a 2-pack from Amazon for $10.99 with free shipping. That gives you a spare if you mess up the installation, or if your first meets with an untimely demise.

See at Amazon

Orzly film screen protector (5-pack)

OnePlus screen protector

The OnePlus 5 comes with a film screen protector pre-fitted on the display, and if you don't mind the slightly plasticky texture, these are a decent, cheap option. Should you wish to replace an old film screen protector with a fresh one, Orzly sells a 5-pack of these for $6.99 with free shipping on Amazon.

A film screen protector isn't the most glamorous option, but you can't argue with the price, nor the simplicity of installation compared to some tempered glass options. Film protectors like these are also more likely to play nicely with bulky cases than glass screen protectors, because they're significantly thinner.

See at Amazon

OnePlus 5

OnePlus

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2 weeks ago

PSA: Be careful when buying a Moto E4 case

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Don't buy the wrong Moto E4 case.

I'm really enjoying the Moto E4. For a phone that's as inexpensive as $70 (but closer to $130 if you don't want the Verizon version, or lock screen ads), it's pretty unimpeachable.

So when doing research for the best cases to buy for Motorola's new budget bandit, I noticed a trend: a lot of 1- to 3-star reviews on cases that hadn't been out for very long. Turns out it's one person preemptively putting out a very important warning: the case may not fit your phone.

Moto E4 specs

Motorola has released two versions of the Moto E4, a U.S., model XT1768, and an international version, model XT1760. Normally that wouldn't be a big deal, since internal specs differ between regions all the time, but in this, ahem, case it does, since the two versions are visually different, too, making coverings incompatible between regions.

Take these two cases:

U.S. model (left) | international model (right)

The case on the left, the Cimo Premium Slim, is intended for the U.S. model. The way you can immediately tell is that it lacks a rear speaker. Other differentiating marks include the varied placement of the headphone jack on top of the phone and the microphone on the back, above the camera. The case on the right, the AnoKe Ultra Thin Slim (seriously, who names these things?) has an opening for the speaker on the back.

The international Moto E4 is also slightly thicker than the U.S. variant, so even if you can overcome the incorrect placement of the headphone jack and microphones, the phones themselves likely won't fit properly in their opposing cases.

This issue doesn't apply to the Moto E4 Plus (which is still not yet available) since both the U.S. and international models will be the same.

As long as you take a couple of minutes to ensure that your Moto E4 case is made for the right version, you should be fine, and this problem should sort itself out as Amazon begins stocking more cases for the U.S. variant. Until then — stay vigilant, friends.

See at Amazon

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2 weeks ago

How to Fix Your PlayStation Aim Controller Not Charging

If your Aim controller won't charge, don't panic. It's easy to fix! .

We've all been there. We have plans for how to use our hot new piece of tech, yet when we try to go and use it, it's not working properly. One of the more common issues seen is the failure to charge, which can be one of the most frustrating because you don't have any error codes or flashing lights to aid you in your troubleshooting.

If this happens to your PlayStation Aim controller, though, there are some easy steps you can follow to get things straightened out.

Read more at VRHeads

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2 weeks ago

Samsung Galaxy Note 8 rumors: Specs, release date and more

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Galaxy Note 7

Everything we know so far about the successor to Samsung's ill-fated Note 7.

Oh boy. It's time for a new Samsung Galaxy Note.

As you may remember, things didn't go too well for the last entry in the Note series. And although the Galaxy S8 has enjoyed strong sales and critical praise in the meantime, Samsung will remain under intense scrutiny as it looks to relaunch the tarnished Note brand. That's important for every market in which Samsung operates, but particularly so in Europe, which hasn't seen a new Note since 2014's Note 4.

So the next Note needs to be good, and it needs to not catch on fire. Beyond the obvious, the phone also needs to show us how the Note brand can coexist with the larger "Plus" variant of the Galaxy S series, if that's to continue.

So far, most of the reliable info points to Samsung playing it relatively safe this year. The design, based on CAD leaks, largely mirrors that of the Galaxy S8+. Rumors point to similar specs with a modest RAM and display size upgrade, and a modest battery capacity downgrade. In the absence of the long-rumored in-display fingerprint scanner, the most exciting feature this year is likely to be the new dual camera setup.

Let's dig into what we know so far about the Galaxy Note 8.

Samsung Galaxy Note 8 specs

The most reliable info available on the Note 8's internal hardware comes from VentureBeat's Evan Blass — aka @evleaks on Twitter — who has a good track record with this kind of thing.

Category Specification Operating System Android 7.1.1 Processor Samsung Exynos 8895 or Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 depending on region RAM 6GB Storage 64 or 128GB + microSD Display 6.3-inch SuperAMOLED Infinity Display Battery 3300mAh Rear Cameras Dual 12MP with OIS Other features Wireless charging, S Pen, Iris scanner, Rear fingerprint scanner, DeX support, water resistance Price €999 Colors Black, blue, gold

Other sources include Korean news site Osen, which reports that the Note 8 will come in 64GB and 128GB variants, and the HTML5Test database, which shows the Note running Android 7.1.1.

So the major spec changes from the Galaxy S8 include a larger 6.3-inch display, likely making the Note only slightly larger than the Galaxy S8+. The rumored 6GB of RAM should help the Note keep more apps in memory without reloading — an area where current Samsung phones don't exactly excel. Meanwhile, the option of 128GB of storage will make the Note an ideal phone for gamers and heavy app users who don't want to offload content to slower removable storage.

Aside from the S Pen, a new dual-camera setup with OIS could be the main reason to get excited about the Note 8.

The battery capacity — a mere 3300mAh, down from the 3500mAh of the S8+ — is likely a necessity because of the space taken up by the S Pen. Even though the Note 8 will be slightly larger than the S8+, there's less space for a battery inside the chassis.

As for the dual camera setup — a first for a Samsung phone, though a long-rumored feature — the 12-megapixel resolution suggests Samsung might use the image sensor from the Galaxy S8 in its new phone, at least in the primary camera. And the optically stabilized secondary camera, at one time rumored to boast 3X telephoto capabilities, could produce significantly more detailed zoomed shots than the iPhone 7 Plus or OnePlus 5, both of which lack OIS in their telephoto cameras.

Those are just the raw hardware specs we know (or think we know) so far. The Note 8 is sure to introduce new software tricks as well — expect new capabilities for the S Pen, and perhaps some small visual changes from Samsung Experience 8.1 as we know it on the Galaxy S8.

Samsung Galaxy Note 8 design + size

No convincing photographic leaks of the Galaxy S8 have appeared so far, and so the best we have to go on is this CAD render from Steve Hemmerstoffer (@onleaks on Twitter), which shows a Galaxy S8+-like design. This 3D image is based on the dimensions and specifications given to accessory makers, and shows a slightly boxier version of an S8+, with key hardware features like the S Pen, Bixby button and headphone jack.

It's tough to draw any firm conclusions from this early image, but what we can expect is a significantly chunkier camera bulge — and, as rumored, for the fingerprint scanner to retain its precarious placement to the right of the camera. Looks like fans hoping for that elusive in-display fingerprint sensor will have to wait for next year's Galaxy S9.

Samsung Galaxy Note 8 release date

Samsung has typically announced new Note handsets in August or early September. While the Note 5 and Note 7 arrived earlier in the month, the most recent rumors point to the Note 8 breaking cover right before the Berlin-based IFA trade show in late August, at an event in New York City.

August 26 was claimed as Note 8 launch day in one recent leak from Korea, which would see the Note 8 launching just ahead of the noisy IFA launch season. And while August 26 is later than the past couple of Note launches, it would still allow Samsung plenty of time to get devices on store shelves before the iPhone 8 launch a month or so later.

Confirmation of launch day should come in early August, when press invites for the Note 8 event should start going out.

What are you looking forward to seeing in the Galaxy Note 8? Share your thoughts down in the comments, and join the discussion on the Android Central forums!

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2 weeks ago

Moto Z2 Force + Moto X4 leaks reveal Motorola's 2017 flagships

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Slim, modular high-ender for AT&T pictured, along with rumored 'X4' mid-ranger.

We're about due a fresh round of high-end Motorola phones, and Evan Blass (aka @evleaks) has today given us a look at two new handsets — the Moto Z2 Force and Moto X4.

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2 weeks ago

What are the advantages of going with an alternative carrier?

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Using an alternative to the big four wireless providers is a great idea for many of us, and here are some reasons why.

When we talk about phone companies most of us automatically think of the big four here in the U.S.: AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon. But they're not the only choices when it comes to who you get your service from and the popularity of alternative carriers is on the rise.

It's not difficult to understand why. Having a carrier that uses the same nationwide networks the big guys do without some of the baggage that comes along with those big guys is an attractive position for a lot of people. There is a lot to talk about, both good and bad, in any discussion about finding the right carrier and if a smaller alternative option is best for you. The advantages for you are especially important to consider.

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You can save a lot of money

Depending on how you use your phone (as always) you can save a nice chunk of money every month. Different companies use different ways to price out your data. Some will let you buy several months worth of data at significantly less compared to a monthly payment. Others let you buy an amount of data and use it until it's gone, and others charge a flat fee and bill or credit you based on how much data you used in a month.

Not everyone needs an unlimited data plan.

The things they all have in common as that you're not paying for data you didn't use. Combined with cheaper prices per block of data this can mean a smaller bill if you don't use a lot of data. Alternative carriers are not for people who need unlimited data, but not everyone needs unlimited data.

Take Mint SIM for example. The company doesn't sell unlimited packages, but uses T-Mobile's network to offer ultra-cheap 4G LTE data — as low as $2 per gigabyte — in bundles of 2GB, 5GB and 10GB. And by bundling service into multiple months, you pay less when averaged out over a 12-month period.

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This is the biggest reason people choose to move away from the big players in the industry and try something different. If you look at where you use your data and how much you use, you could be one of those people.

You might get a better coverage map

An alternative carrier doesn't own the cell towers and infrastructure they use to provide service. They lease it at a set price from the bigger carriers and resell service to you and me. Sometimes they lease from more than one carrier and can provide service in all the places from both.

No carrier is good everywhere, but unless you're in a very rural part of the country you'll have at least one company with good service. A company that can offer service using two coverage maps has an advantage for anyone who spends time where they are covered by at least one.

Not all carriers do this, so be sure to do your homework when you choose. Two notable examples are Net10 and Red Pocket that lease service from all four major carriers, or Project Fi which leases service from T-Mobile, Sprint and US Cellular.

No-frills service

You're paying for calls, texts, and data. That's usually all you're going to get.

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There's no denying that some of the perks phone carriers can offer are nice. Unlimited texting to Canada and Mexico is a good example. But some folks just don't need anything extra.

By not having extra services the price can be cheaper. If you don't need anything more than basic service and 4G data, an alternative carrier could be great for you. Some alternative carriers do offer perks for calling and texting internationally, so when you're shopping be sure to check on them.

No credit checks

Times can be tough and less than great credit can make getting a post-paid account with the big four carriers difficult. And a credit check leaves a record on you that can adversely affect something like a car loan or mortgage.

If you don't want to go through a credit check for any reason, you might choose an alternative carrier that doesn't require one. Most don't, and you simply pay up front for what you use.

Bring your own phone

As long as it's compatible with the network you choose, you can bring your existing phone and use it without any problems.

You can also buy any unlocked phone that works with the network from anywhere you like. This gives you a lot of choices from most all companies making phones today.

Best of all, you can change phones at any time. If you like the phone you have now you can use it until you like something else better. With the cost of the service being completely separate from the cost of your phone any decisions are yours to make.

While they aren't for everyone, you can see there are some really compelling reasons to give another carrier a try, even if they don't have the brand-power the bigger ones may.

Updated June 2017: We made sure the information here was great and still relevant!

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2 weeks ago

5 features the OnePlus 5 does better than other smartphones

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It's the little things that make a phone, and these sorts of things might even convince you to bring home the OnePlus 5.

Whether you're a diehard Android subscriber or merely curious about venturing away from the rest of what everyone else is carrying in their hands, you might be wondering whether to consider the OnePlus 5 as a lofty alternative.

The phone is a worthy competitor against whatever else your mobile carrier might be offering. In addition to boasting the latest specs, an interesting camera and killer display, it also hails some other features you won't typically find on mainstream smartphones.

Better front-facing camera

oneplus 5

The front-facing camera has indeed become a priority on flagship smartphones — just look at the HTC U11 and Samsung Galaxy S8's's 16-megapixel and 8-megapixel front-facing cameras. Both companies are in on the idea that the photos you take with the front camera should be just as shareable as the rear ones.

OnePlus also adheres to this motto, and it's cheaper than those mentioned above. Its 16-megapixel camera is a fine choice if selfies are a primary concern. With ample aperture for dim bar shots and electronic image stabilization (EIS), the OnePlus 5's front-facing camera is capable of capturing your face in various environments. You can record high quality 1080p video with it, too, and it offers a beauty mode and a portrait mode for taking real glamour shots. It's also handy to have on you if you're a frequent Snapchat storyteller or an Instagram fiend.

No bloat

oneplus 5

The upside to buying an unlocked smartphone is that you don't have to deal with any additional carrier bloatware. But then, some brands bundle in an app that already exists, and others include extra apps you have to eliminate before you can comfortably use your phone.

The OnePlus 5 has none of that because of the company's commitment to keeping its software clean. The minute you turn it on, you'll see less than two dozen apps already installed, including a Gallery app and a File Manager. You won't get the same perks with this device like you would with a Google-made one — unlimited uploads to Photos, anyone? — but you will be able to lay claim to the entirety of the OnePlus 5's 64GB of storage.

And if you opted for the 128GB version of the flagship, feel free to revel in all that room.

Customizable buttons

OnePlus 5

More devices these days are eschewing physical navigation buttons for more screen space, but not everyone is a fan of the shrinking bezel trend. If you like physical buttons, the OnePlus 5 kept its hardware and left it so that it's entirely customizable by the user. You can choose where you like the back button to be placed, for instance, or set up shortcuts for each, like long pressing the home button to launch Google Assistant. There's also an option that shuts off the hardware buttons, though it will knock off a bit of screen space.

If you're afraid of bumping the buttons during a marathon gaming sessions, there are tools included to disable the capacitive area.

It's a little more futureproof

oneplus 5

Yes, it's true that the extra RAM you get for dropping the extra $60 on the OnePlus 5 is entirely unnecessary for any app or game you'll be using today. But even if you stick with the default 6GB of RAM offered at the starting price point, you'll see that extra memory go a long way — and for a long while.

You'll also see that memory help with processing graphics and stream live video. As we stated in our review of the device, don't expect your experience to slow down any time soon. It's always great to have room to grow with future software updates and memory-intensive apps.

The Alert Slider

OnePlus 5

Never underestimate the allure of a quick-flip switch embedded into the chassis of a smartphone. It's an Android user's most coveted feature, likely because so many of us have accidentally interrupted the calm of a yoga class — and a church service — with an inappropriate song lyric set as the ringtone. (Oh, was that just me?)

On the OnePlus 5, you can quickly stifle that embarrassing ringtone from ever revealing itself before the class or sermon even starts. Go even further in the device settings by choosing whether the slider goes into Silent mode or Do Not Disturb mode, the latter of which lets you set up a few favorite contacts in case an emergency should occur during your quiet time.

And one thing it could do better

The latest trend of waterproofing smartphones is, frankly, one of the most welcome feature additions since wireless payments. The earth is 71% water, after all; the smartphones that each of the billions of people on earth carries around are bound to find their way near a body of water within its lifespan. And rather than expect disaster to occur from the melding of these two elements, why not prevent it?

Many manufacturers, including Samsung and LG, have caught on to making their respective flagship devices resistant to liquids — well, unless that liquid is over 5 feet deep. You can bring the Galaxy S8 or LG G6 to a summer splash party without worrying about it getting drowned.

But you can't do that with a OnePlus 5, as its lack of water resistance makes it especially vulnerable to life's most precious element. It's a shame, too, considering all the selfies you could take in the pool with that 16-megapixel front-facing camera.

OnePlus 5

OnePlus

img { width: 100%; height: auto; } .devicebox ul { display: table; margin: 0 0 10px; width: 100%; } .devicebox ul li { background: #f7f7f7; margin: 2px 0; padding: 4px 15px; } .devicebox ul li:hover { background: #fff; } .devicebox ul li:before { display: none; } .devicebox p ~ p { line-height: 1.25; } .devicebox p:first-of-type + p { padding: 15px; } .devicebox a.buy-link { border-radius: 5px; display: inline-block; font: 14px/31px "Proxima Nova Extrabld",Helvetica,Arial,sans-serif; text-align: center; } .devicebox a.buy-link, .devicebox a.buy-link:link, .devicebox a.buy-link:active, .devicebox a.buy-link:visited { background: #37B5D7; color: #FFF; } .devicebox a.buy-link:hover { background: #2694B2; text-decoration: none; } .devicebox a.buy-link:before { content: "\e61e"; font: 40px/0 "ac_iconset" !important; margin: 0 3px 0 -8px; vertical-align: middle; } @media all and (min-width: 1025px), all and (max-width: 800px) and (min-width: 660px) { /* div:not(.columns-3) excludes help menu content */ .article-body-wrap > div:not(.columns-3) > *:first-child:not(.sticky-wrapper) .devicebox { padding: 20px 0 25px; } .article-body-wrap > div:not(.columns-3) > *:first-child:not(.sticky-wrapper) .devicebox .video { float: left; margin: 0 30px 0 0; width: calc(100% - 375px); } .article-body-wrap > div:not(.columns-3) > *:first-child:not(.sticky-wrapper) .devicebox h3 + p { bottom: 37px; display: block; overflow: hidden; position: absolute; top: 60px; width: calc(100% - 375px); } .article-body-wrap > div:not(.columns-3) > *:first-child:not(.sticky-wrapper) .devicebox p img, .article-body-wrap > div:not(.columns-3) > *:first-child:not(.sticky-wrapper) .devicebox p > img { position: absolute; top: 50%; transform: translateY(-50%); } .article-body-wrap > div:not(.columns-3) > *:first-child:not(.sticky-wrapper) .devicebox p:nth-child(n+3), .article-body-wrap > div:not(.columns-3) > *:first-child:not(.sticky-wrapper) .devicebox ul { box-sizing: border-box; margin-left: calc(100% - 345px); width: 340px; } .article-body-wrap > div:not(.columns-3) > *:first-child:not(.sticky-wrapper) .devicebox p.list-head { margin-top: -5px; } } @media all and (max-width: 1024px) and (min-width: 801px), all and (max-width: 660px) { .devicebox h3 { text-align: center; } .devicebox ul, .devicebox p { display: block; } } @media all and (max-width: 800px) and (min-width: 660px) { .devicebox { padding: 20px 0 25px; } .devicebox .video { float: left; margin: 0 30px 0 0; width: calc(100% - 375px); } .devicebox h3 + p { bottom: 37px; display: block; overflow: hidden; position: absolute; top: 60px; width: calc(100% - 375px); } .devicebox p img, .devicebox p > img { position: absolute; top: 50%; transform: translateY(-50%); } .devicebox p:nth-child(n+3), .devicebox ul { box-sizing: border-box; margin-left: calc(100% - 345px); width: 340px; } .devicebox p.list-head { margin-top: -5px; } } @media all and (min-width: 1025px), all and (max-width: 800px) and (min-width: 661px), all and (max-width: 500px) { /* 2x buy buttons */ .devicebox a.buy-link { width: calc(50% - 2.5px); margin: 0 5px 5px 0; } .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-of-type(even) { margin: 0 0 5px 0; } .devicebox a.buy-link:last-of-type:nth-of-type(odd) { width: 100%; } } @media all and (max-width: 1024px) and (min-width: 801px), all and (max-width: 659px) and (min-width: 501px) { /* 3x buy buttons */ .devicebox a.buy-link { width: calc(100%/3 - 10px/3); margin: 0 5px 5px 0; } .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-of-type(3n):not(:nth-last-of-type(2)) { margin: 0 0 5px 0; } .devicebox a.buy-link:only-child { width: 100%; margin: 0 0 5px 0; } .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-last-of-type(2):nth-of-type(3n+1), .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-last-of-type(2):nth-of-type(3n+1) ~ a.buy-link, .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-last-of-type(4):nth-of-type(3n+1), .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-last-of-type(4):nth-of-type(3n+1) ~ a.buy-link { width: calc(50% - 2.5px); } .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-last-of-type(2):nth-of-type(3n+1) ~ a.buy-link, .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-last-of-type(4):nth-of-type(3n+1) ~ a.buy-link:nth-last-of-type(odd) { margin: 0 0 5px 0; } } @media all and (max-width: 800px) { .devicebox { margin: 0 0 30px; max-width: none; width: auto; } } @media all and (max-width: 500px) { .devicebox { margin: 0 0 30px; max-width: none; width: auto; } .devicebox a.buy-link:before { display: none; } } .page-admin .devicebox {max-width: 350px;} .page-admin .devicebox .video_iframe {position: relative; height: 0; padding-bottom: 56.9%;} .page-admin .devicebox .video_iframe iframe {width: 100%; height: 100%; position: absolute;} /*-->*/ /*-->*/ /*-->*/

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2 weeks ago

Anker SoundCore 2 review: The sweet sounds of a summer speaker

1

The Anker SoundCore 2 pairs perfectly with summer

There's a lot of competition in the portable Bluetooth speaker segment, with plenty of options to choose from no matter your budget. If you're looking for one under $100, it's hard to find something that checks all the boxes: high-end sound, long-lasting battery life, and rugged, water-resistant design.

Enter the Anker SoundCore 2, an updated speaker for 2017 that claims hit all of those desired specs. Anker sent me one to test out and review, and I did my absolute best to put it through the wringer.

Anker has delivered pretty good value via its line of SoundCore speakers, with the original SoundCore proving itself to be a reliable Bluetooth speaker, albeit with a few nagging design issues. With the SoundCore 2, Anker has offered improvements across the board, including two 6W drivers that pump out some serious jams and a battery that Anker says offers up to 24 hours of music playback — a bold claim. Then again, Anker is best known for its outstanding portable battery packs so it does make sense.

To put this speaker through its paces I've been using it in every conceivable situation around the house, and it holds up quite well. I also challenged that IPX5 water resistance with a stormy weekend of camping, with the SoundCore 2 outlasting the rain and wind without skipping a beat.

Overall design

At first glance, Anker hasn't seemed to change too much in terms of design from the original SoundCore, but it becomes apparent quite apparent upon closer inspection. The SoundCore 2 is slightly smaller and feels quite dense weighing in at about a pound, with a soft touch finish that feels nice, but also is a magnet for fingerprints and dirt.

You'll either love or hate the basic, black brick design — it's fairly utilitarian with subtle curves. The controls on top are large and accessible with raised buttons that are easy to find even in low-light situations. I even found it to be slim enough to fit in my pocket, which allowed me to play some tunes while biking around the city.

In terms of the IPX5 water resistance, it's perfect to use as a bathroom speaker when taking steamy showers and can also withstand a rainstorm. When the rain started to fall on my camping trip, I decided to put the SoundCore 2 at the edge of our tarp. Things got rather messy, but the SoundCore 2 never faltered and passed the test with flying colors.

Sound quality

You can instantly tell the improvements in sound quality between the SoundCore 2 and it's predecessor. The SoundCore 2 delivers a deeper bass and manages to get way loud without distorting.

No stutters or distortion, it worked exactly the way you'd expect it.

I used a Galaxy S8 for the majority of my testing, connected via Bluetooth and went to town listening to Spotify, watching YouTube, and playing games and the SoundCore handled it all perfectly to my ear. No stutters or distortion, it worked exactly the way you'd expect it. It's quick to pair with your phone or computer and I've had no issues with the Bluetooth connectivity unless I walked far away from it.

For those looking for a booming bass, Anker has the SoundCore Boost which packs in twin subwoofers to some extra oomph of room-filling sound. But the Boost falls short on battery life, which is where the SoundCore 2 really shines.

Battery life

Anker is perhaps best known for its portable chargers and other charging accessories for mobile phones, so I wouldn't be surprised if its designers sat down and tried to build a speaker around a massive lithium-ion battery pack. Anker qualifies its 24-hour battery life claim by saying results will vary based on what you're listening to, the volume, and etc., and while I never tried to just run the battery down for a full day just to see, that's also not a realistic way you'd use a portable speaker.

If you use this speaker to listen to your favorite podcasts throughout the day, you'll be confident knowing it'll still have juice for supplying some post-work tunes on the back patio. But more importantly for me was the camping test. On a fully charged battery, the SoundCore 2 supplied all the music needed from Friday night around the campfire to Sunday afternoon packing up. While obviously, we weren't using the speaker the entire time, it was reliably loud when it needed to compete against a howling wind and survived the rainstorm to provide some tunes at the beach the next day.

Should you buy it?

The Anker SoundCore 2 talks a big game but it backs it all up. The battery life is super impressive and it's rugged enough to withstand a sudden rainstorm. Above all else, the sound is great. Currently available for under $50, this speaker is an absolute steal.

See at Amazon

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2 weeks ago

Best External Battery Packs for Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 edge

61
Galaxy S7 battery

Give your GS7 and GS7 edge a second life with a battery pack.

Our phones just keep adding new capabilities, but their batteries never feel like they last any longer than the day they came out of the box. A year on, the Galaxy S7 and S7 edge are still great phones — but if you find your battery is dying earlier than you'd expect, you may want to check out a portable battery pack for those heavy days.

They're entirely portable, relatively inexpensive, and could keep your phone going when you need it most. We've rounded up the best battery packs to use with your Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 edge.

Aukey Portable Power Bank (10,400mAh)

Aukey

This portable battery is Aukey's bread and butter — a simple 10,400mAh pack with a single USB port to charge up your phone. It has enough juice to charge up your phone twice with a bit left over, and still manages to remain relatively compact.

The metal construction means it can stand up to plenty of bumping around in your bag or pocket. And with Quick Charge tech on board it'll charge up your phone as fast as a wall plug can. Not a bad deal for just under $30.

See at Amazon

EasyAcc Monster (20,000mAh)

EasyAcc

Charge your Galaxy S7 and up to three other devices at the same time with the EasyAcc Monster. They're not kidding about the name. This thing has enough juice to charge your GS7 around six times over, which makes it great if you're headed out of town for a few days and aren't sure if you'll see a wall socket any time soon.

It has a built-in flashlight and can auto-detect components and adjust the maximum output accordingly, which makes it great if you want to charge up multiple devices on the go. Does the whole family have Galaxy S7s? Charge them all at the same time for just $32 with this battery.

No need to worry about overcharging and shorting, since the EasyAcc has a built-in surge protector, which is ideal since you'll have to wait 6 hours for this one to charge back up fully.

See at Amazon

Samsung Fast Charge Battery Pack (5,200mAh)

Samsung Fast Charge Battery Pack (5,200 mAh)

This is actually not the latest battery pack from Samsung, but that doesn't mean anything when it comes to actually using it. But it does mean you can get a great deal on a really good battery from the same company that made your phone.

With 5200mAh capacity it's only good for a little more than a full charge of your phone, but in return it's light and svelte — it's roughly the same dimensions as a Galaxy S7 edge. That means it's super easy to slide in a pocket with a USB cable for when you need to top up your phone in the evening.

You can find Samsung's battery for about $40, or sometimes a bit less if you shop around.

See at Amazon

Unifun 10,400mAh Waterproof Power Bank

Unifun 10,400mAh Waterproof Power Bank

Calling all campers! Unifun's power bank is rugged and waterproof, so you can charge your Galaxy S7 or S7 edge when you're really on the go. It's rated IP66 for water and dust resistance, while also having anti-shock and anti-skid protection.

This pack even has a strap hole, so you can attach to a belt loop or clip, which is great if you're working outside all day or constantly on the go; just run a cord to your pocket and away you go.

It's a little bulky, at 6 inches by almost 3 inches, but you'd expect something so rugged to be a little on the bulky side. Especially at the price: under $20 for all those features is great.

See at Amazon

What's your favorite?

Which battery packs are you using to charge your Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 edge? Sound off in the comments below!

Update July 2017: Updated with the latest battery packs, pricing and links for the Galaxy S7 and S7 edge.

Samsung Galaxy S7 and S7 edge

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img { width: 100%; height: auto; } .devicebox ul { display: table; margin: 0 0 10px; width: 100%; } .devicebox ul li { background: #f7f7f7; margin: 2px 0; padding: 4px 15px; } .devicebox ul li:hover { background: #fff; } .devicebox ul li:before { display: none; } .devicebox p ~ p { line-height: 1.25; } .devicebox p:first-of-type + p { padding: 15px; } .devicebox a.buy-link { border-radius: 5px; display: inline-block; font: 14px/31px "Proxima Nova Extrabld",Helvetica,Arial,sans-serif; text-align: center; } .devicebox a.buy-link, .devicebox a.buy-link:link, .devicebox a.buy-link:active, .devicebox a.buy-link:visited { background: #37B5D7; color: #FFF; } .devicebox a.buy-link:hover { background: #2694B2; text-decoration: none; } .devicebox a.buy-link:before { content: "\e61e"; font: 40px/0 "ac_iconset" !important; margin: 0 3px 0 -8px; vertical-align: middle; } @media all and (min-width: 1025px), all and (max-width: 800px) and (min-width: 660px) { /* div:not(.columns-3) excludes help menu content */ .article-body-wrap > div:not(.columns-3) > *:first-child:not(.sticky-wrapper) .devicebox { padding: 20px 0 25px; } .article-body-wrap > div:not(.columns-3) > *:first-child:not(.sticky-wrapper) .devicebox .video { float: left; margin: 0 30px 0 0; width: calc(100% - 375px); } .article-body-wrap > div:not(.columns-3) > *:first-child:not(.sticky-wrapper) .devicebox h3 + p { bottom: 37px; display: block; overflow: hidden; position: absolute; top: 60px; width: calc(100% - 375px); } .article-body-wrap > div:not(.columns-3) > *:first-child:not(.sticky-wrapper) .devicebox p img, .article-body-wrap > div:not(.columns-3) > *:first-child:not(.sticky-wrapper) .devicebox p > img { position: absolute; top: 50%; transform: translateY(-50%); } .article-body-wrap > div:not(.columns-3) > *:first-child:not(.sticky-wrapper) .devicebox p:nth-child(n+3), .article-body-wrap > div:not(.columns-3) > *:first-child:not(.sticky-wrapper) .devicebox ul { box-sizing: border-box; margin-left: calc(100% - 345px); width: 340px; } .article-body-wrap > div:not(.columns-3) > *:first-child:not(.sticky-wrapper) .devicebox p.list-head { margin-top: -5px; } } @media all and (max-width: 1024px) and (min-width: 801px), all and (max-width: 660px) { .devicebox h3 { text-align: center; } .devicebox ul, .devicebox p { display: block; } } @media all and (max-width: 800px) and (min-width: 660px) { .devicebox { padding: 20px 0 25px; } .devicebox .video { float: left; margin: 0 30px 0 0; width: calc(100% - 375px); } .devicebox h3 + p { bottom: 37px; display: block; overflow: hidden; position: absolute; top: 60px; width: calc(100% - 375px); } .devicebox p img, .devicebox p > img { position: absolute; top: 50%; transform: translateY(-50%); } .devicebox p:nth-child(n+3), .devicebox ul { box-sizing: border-box; margin-left: calc(100% - 345px); width: 340px; } .devicebox p.list-head { margin-top: -5px; } } @media all and (min-width: 1025px), all and (max-width: 800px) and (min-width: 661px), all and (max-width: 500px) { /* 2x buy buttons */ .devicebox a.buy-link { width: calc(50% - 2.5px); margin: 0 5px 5px 0; } .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-of-type(even) { margin: 0 0 5px 0; } .devicebox a.buy-link:last-of-type:nth-of-type(odd) { width: 100%; } } @media all and (max-width: 1024px) and (min-width: 801px), all and (max-width: 659px) and (min-width: 501px) { /* 3x buy buttons */ .devicebox a.buy-link { width: calc(100%/3 - 10px/3); margin: 0 5px 5px 0; } .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-of-type(3n):not(:nth-last-of-type(2)) { margin: 0 0 5px 0; } .devicebox a.buy-link:only-child { width: 100%; margin: 0 0 5px 0; } .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-last-of-type(2):nth-of-type(3n+1), .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-last-of-type(2):nth-of-type(3n+1) ~ a.buy-link, .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-last-of-type(4):nth-of-type(3n+1), .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-last-of-type(4):nth-of-type(3n+1) ~ a.buy-link { width: calc(50% - 2.5px); } .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-last-of-type(2):nth-of-type(3n+1) ~ a.buy-link, .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-last-of-type(4):nth-of-type(3n+1) ~ a.buy-link:nth-last-of-type(odd) { margin: 0 0 5px 0; } } @media all and (max-width: 800px) { .devicebox { margin: 0 0 30px; max-width: none; width: auto; } } @media all and (max-width: 500px) { .devicebox { margin: 0 0 30px; max-width: none; width: auto; } .devicebox a.buy-link:before { display: none; } } .page-admin .devicebox {max-width: 350px;} .page-admin .devicebox .video_iframe {position: relative; height: 0; padding-bottom: 56.9%;} .page-admin .devicebox .video_iframe iframe {width: 100%; height: 100%; position: absolute;} /*-->*/ /*-->*/ /*-->*/

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2 weeks ago

HTC allegedly working on a mid-range U11 powered by the Snapdragon 660

20

HTC is working on a Mini variant of the U11.

The HTC U11 is one of the best phones you can buy today, and it looks like the Taiwanese manufacturer is working on rolling out a Lifestyle or Mini variant that's targeted at the mid-range segment. According to a series of tweets by noted HTC leaker LlabTooFeR, the device is codenamed Ocean Life, offering a 5.2-inch 1080p panel, 16MP rear and front cameras, Android 7.1.1 Nougat with Sense 9.0, and a 2600mAh battery.

The phone is said to be powered by the Snapdragon 660, and like the U11, it will feature a squeezable frame that lets you perform actions by pressing down on the sides of the device.

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2 weeks ago

Get red, white, and blue with these patriotic wallpapers this Fourth of July!

4

Happy Birthday, America!

Sure, the vote took place on July 2, but this is the day we celebrate starting our own country trying out this little thing called self-government. It's hard its ups and downs, but since 1776 we've been going strong. Whether you're looking for some low-key patriotism or flashy as a firework flair, we've got the wallpapers for you!

Fireworks may go off on other holidays, but no other day is more synonymous with lighting shiny explosives than July 4th, and while doing them at home can be dangerous, there's no shortage of local, state, and national displays to watch the professionals strut their stuff. Fireworks make for explosive wallpapers, allowing your apps to pop like fireworks of their own against the high contrast colors. The whimsy of these corkscrew fireworks add a playful touch, as well.

Fireworks 3 by AreteStock

In a homage to Wonder Woman's history as an American superhero (even with her international heritage), DeviantArt user Superman 8193 has taken some poses by David Despau, artfully done them up with some splashes of patriotic colors, and gifted them to the world as a beautiful wallpaper that can be patriotic and nerdy all at once! This wallpaper is also great for theming, with widgets fitting well at the top and bottom of the screen, with plenty of room to scatter your app icons in Wonder Woman's patrotic locks in red and blue Glim icons.

David Despau - Wonder Woman 2 by Superman8193

As I said, fireworks are one of the holiday's most treasured traditions, the reason it's so treasured is not the highly dangerous pyrotechnics, but the people we gather with to watch them. Watching your friends' and family's faces light up as the fireworks light up the night is the kind of memory that can last a lifetime (why do you think Disney sets off fireworks every night?). And this wallpaper celebrates the most important part of both the holiday and the national pride behind it: building a legacy with loved ones.

4th of July by vongue

There are a lot of lovely quotes around patriotism and American pride, but it's the understated quotes that often have the most impact. Walt Disney certainly a man with no shortage of American pride, but there are two quotes of his that I think sum up his particular brand of national love: "Laughter is America's greatest export" and "I get red, white, and blue at times". This simple wallpaper also plays well on a clean lock screen or a busy home screen.

It also offers some Mickey Mouse flair, possibly the most recognized American icon in the world.

I get Red, White, and Blue at times by Disney Parks Blog

Some patriotic wallpapers are a little more abstract, but this one works it remarkably well. This wallpaper also works well both vertically and horizontally, giving you an extra level of freedom with its stars and stripes. It vaguely gives me some Coca-Cola vibes, so that might explain my unnatural attraction to it.

Stars and Stripes

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2 weeks ago

Here are the Xiaomi phones that will be updated to Nougat

4

Xiaomi will roll out the Nougat update to 14 phones.

The Mi 6 and Mi Max 2 run Android 7.1.1 Nougat out of the box, but a majority of Xiaomi's devices are still on Marshmallow. The company has now confirmed that it is working on delivering the Nougat update to 14 phones, with internal testing underway for five phones: the Mi Note 2, Mi Mix, Redmi 4/4X, and the Mi 5s along with the Mi 5s Plus.

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2 weeks ago

Best T-Mobile Phones

The best phone options available from the third-place U.S. carrier.

Whether you're a long-time T-Mobile subscriber looking to upgrade your phone or you're switching and want to find out what's available at a glance, we're here to help.

We've broken down the best devices available to buy through T-Mobile. Check out our reviews to learn more about each of these and if you're ready to take the plunge, we've included links to buy directly from T-Mobile.

Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+

Every carrier has to offer the latest Samsung Galaxy, and for good reason: this is the top-end phone everyone knows and lusts after right alongside Apple's latest iPhone. T-Mobile of course offers both the Galaxy S8 and larger Galaxy S8+, but which size you want is purely personal preference — the experience is ultimately the same on both.

Samsung continues to go all-out on its hardware design, and the Galaxy S8 does it up right. The sleek and slim metal frame is accented by curved glass all over, and the new extra-tall 18.5:9 screen with tiny bezels is breathtaking.

Inside you obviously get all of the latest specs, including Samsung's go-to features like wireless charging, waterproofing and an industry-leading display. It's expensive, but you just can't skip over considering the latest Galaxy when shopping for a flagship phone.

Be sure to read our Galaxy S8 review for the full take.

Samsung Galaxy S8 review

See at T-Mobile

LG G6

The G6 is easily LG's best overall flagship phone to date, and it directly competes with the top phones from other companies well. LG gave up the hardware gimmicks and stuck to a tried-and-true formula of a strong metal frame with a solid glass back, but picked up the style with a new 18:9 display that has really small bezels all around.

LG's software still isn't its strong point, but the styling has improved and it's still fast and fluid. What is a point of strength is the pair of rear cameras, with an excellent main camera backed up by a great wide-angle camera for breathtaking shots you just can't get anywhere else.

It may have an "older" Snapdragon 821 processor, but everything else on the G6 is top notch and you should absolutely consider it on T-Mobile.

You can read our LG G6 review for the full take.

LG G6 review

See at T-Mobile

LG V20

The LG V20 is a big phone with some powerful specs, and though it doesn't have the general appeal of the LG G6 or Galaxy S8 it's still a good choice for those who want something big, brawny and with some niche features.

With a pair of excellent rear cameras, a big, beautiful 5.7-inch screen, a removable battery and a high quality DAC, it has a lot going for it. Sure it's big and doesn't have the same svelte looks as the LG G6, but it has a lot going for it in its own right.

Making the V20 extra appealing is its generous price discount now that it's a handful of months old — you can get it for under $500.

LG V20 review

See at T-Mobile

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2 weeks ago

How to share your photo library in Google Photos

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Google Photos has a major new feature, and it makes it easier to share your whole library with someone you trust.

Google Photos is already one of the best places to upload, archive and share photos, videos and albums. But recently, at Google I/O 2017, the company announced a new feature that would allow people to share their library with someone close to them, such as a parent, partner, child or best friend.

Obvious with sharing an entire library, there are some privacy concerns, so here's what you need to know about the new feature.

How to share your library with someone

  1. Open Google Photos on your Android phone or tablet.
  2. Open up the left-side "hamburger" menu.
  3. Tap Share your library.
  4. Select person you want to share with from the list, or type in name.

  5. Select whether you want to share All photos or Photos of specific people.
    • If you select Photos of specific people, follow the instructions to choose the ones you want.
  6. Decide whether you want to share all photos or Only show photos since a specific day.
    • If you select Only show photos since this day, choose that day.
  7. Ensure all the details are correct and press Send invitation.
  8. Enter your phone's PIN, pattern or password.

After that, if the person you sent the invitation to chooses to accept it, the photos you shared will be available to them.

How to remove access to a shared library

So you gave away a bit too much of yourself and now you want to take it back. That's pretty easy, too!

A word of warning: People you give access to have the ability to save shared images, and automatically save future shared images, to their own library, so even if you retract access to your library, they may have a local copy.

  1. Open Google Photos on your Android phone or tablet.
  2. Open up the left-side "hamburger" menu.
  3. Tap on Shared with email address of the person you want to remove.
  4. Tap on three-dot menu button at the top right.
  5. Tap on Shared library settings.

  6. Tap on Remove partner.
  7. Confirm and tap on Remove.

Now that person will no longer have access to your library!

How to accept a shared library request from someone

If you're on the receiving end of a shared library request, you can easily accept it and start scrutinizing perusing the photos in your special someone's gallery.

  1. Open Google Photos on your phone or tablet.
    • If you received an email, open it and tap Accept invitation.
  2. Open up the left-side "hamburger" menu.
  3. Tap Invitation from person.
  4. Review photos in library and tap the ones you want to save.
    • If you want to save automatically, tap Start saving automatically.
    • Choose All photos to automatically save future photos to your library.

That's it! You can now go through the other person's library and choose the photos you want to save to yours. If you enable automatic saving, you'll be notified whenever new photos are added to the other person's library.

Questions?

This is a new feature and there are surely kinks to work out, so if you have any questions, feel free to leave them below!

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2 weeks ago

Note 8, S9 and beyond: The buttonless future of Samsung phones

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GS8 navigation keys

How do you trim down even more screen bezel? Make the softkeys entirely optional. And with its latest GS8 update, Samsung is already halfway there.

A few weeks back, Samsung started rolling out a new software update to the Galaxy S8 series in India and Europe, including a curious new option for the phones' navigation bar. As standard, a small dot icon in the bottom left corner lets GS8 owners hide the on-screen navigation buttons for home, back and recent apps, freeing up space for whichever app is currently on-screen.

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