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2 days ago

Best Medium-Sized Android Phone

Best overall

Samsung Galaxy S8

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

The Galaxy S8 is an easy pick for best medium-sized phone, and it's one that is most likely going to feel substantial while remaining easy to use in one hand. That's owed to the beautiful, extra-tall 18.5:9 screen that delivers some of the best visuals we've ever seen on a phone.

Add to that a whip-fast Snapdragon 835 chip and plenty of specs to keep early adopters happy and you have some of nicest hardware on the market today. More surprising (in a good way) is Samsung's software, which continues to improve year over year, even if it does stuff a million and one features in the settings.

Bottom line: The Galaxy S8 does most things right so even its negatives are easily to overlook.

One more thing: If you've got the extra room in your pocket or hands, the Galaxy S8+ or Galaxy Note 8 are nice size boosts over the S8.

Why the Galaxy S8 is the best

You get more for your money with the GS8.

Everyone has their preference, but I think most people would agree that the Galaxy S8 is still one of the better-looking phones on the market today. The way the curved glass meets the aluminum sides — 👌. But here's the thing: if it were just aesthetic, the Galaxy S8 wouldn't be on this list. For all of its quirks — the displacement of the fingerprint sensor to the back, and the unreliable face unlock that replaces it — the phone is rock solid in almost every other respect.

Great touch response; amazing color accuracy; incredible camera; awesome battery life. And the Galaxy S8 manages to pack in 64GB of internal storage as standard, along with wireless charging and water resistance. There aren't a lot of things this phone can't do. It also manages to stay pretty easy to use in one hand, thanks to its taller-yet-narrower 18.5:9 aspect ratio.

Best for simplicity

Huawei P10

See at Amazon

If the Galaxy S8 is too ritzy for your taste, the Huawei P10 may be a bit more your style. It fits a 5.1" 1080p display and excellent dual-camera optics into a svelte aluminum body, and manages impressive endurance out of its 3200mAh battery as well.

There's no elongated display or glass back to enable wireless charging, but the P10 manages to nail the core functions of a smartphone and offers fast performance at a relatively low cost.

Bottom line: If you want a phone that's simply reliable without some of 2017's trending features, the P10 and the larger P10 Plus are great devices.

One more thing: While the IPS LCD display is nice, there's no oleophobic coating, so it can quickly become dirty without a screen protector.

Best for camera buffs

LG G6

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

This list wouldn't be complete without the Comeback King of 2017, the LG G6. This phone makes up in almost every way for the misfire of the G5, and once again positions LG as the main competition with its South Korean rival, Samsung. The G6 may not have the fastest chip on the market — it ships with the Snapdragon 821 — but everything else, from the software to the camera setup, is completely modern.

Indeed, the camera setup may be a good reason to pick this over the Galaxy S8; its dual cameras offer both a "normal" field of view as well as an ultra-wide lens that makes for incredible landscape photos. A beefy manual mode and excellent sound capture round out the G6's excellent optical pedigree, though the phone is fundamentally sound in other ways, too. Its 18:9 aspect ratio screen is nearly as good as the S8's, as its fingerprint sensor is much easier to reach.

Bottom line: The G6 keeps up with the Galaxy S8 in almost every way, and surpasses it in the camera department.

One more thing: The North American G6 comes with wireless charging, which is a bonus, but all models are waterproof.

Best on a budget

OnePlus 5T

See at OnePlus

The OnePlus 5T offers flagship-class performance without the sky-high price tag. Starting at $499 for a Snapdragon 835, 6GB of RAM, and 64GB of storage, it's a bargain that brings an all-aluminum chassis, dual cameras, and a 2:1 display.

OxygenOS, the software running on the OnePlus 5T, is one of my favorite versions of Android around; it's almost identical to stock Android, with a touch of added customizability. Because it's so lightweight, the OnePlus 5 runs exceptionally fast given its price. There's also an incredibly convenient audio profile switcher above the volume rocker for quickly adjusting levels, and outrageously fast face unlock security.

Bottom-line: With a big, bright screen, a great dual-camera layout, excellent build quality, and loads of nice software touches, the OnePlus 5T is one of the best smartphone deals you can find today.

One more thing: The 5T won't receive Android Oreo until Q1 2018, but OnePlus will be running an open beta program by the end of November.

Conclusion

The Galaxy S8 may not seem like a medium-sized phone, but that's because its tall screen is deceptive. In fact, this phone is easy to use in one hand (and has a great one-handed mode to make it even easier) along with a spec sheet for days. While the Huawei P10 is still our favorite for simplicity, the G6 takes some amazing photos, and the OnePlus 5T is a perfect budget option, the S8 does more than all, and most things better.

Best overall

Samsung Galaxy S8

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

The Galaxy S8 is an easy pick for best medium-sized phone, and it's one that is most likely going to feel substantial while remaining easy to use in one hand. That's owed to the beautiful, extra-tall 18.5:9 screen that delivers some of the best visuals we've ever seen on a phone.

Add to that a whip-fast Snapdragon 835 chip and plenty of specs to keep early adopters happy and you have some of nicest hardware on the market today. More surprising (in a good way) is Samsung's software, which continues to improve year over year, even if it does stuff a million and one features in the settings.

Bottom line: The Galaxy S8 does most things right so even its negatives are easily to overlook.

One more thing: If you've got the extra room in your pocket or hands, the Galaxy S8+ or Galaxy Note 8 are nice size boosts over the S8.

Update, November 2017: We've added more current information and chosen the OnePlus 5T as our top budget pick.

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2 days ago

How are you liking Tizen 3.0 on the Gear S3?

21

Time to get familiar with all of your new goodies.

Samsung recently started to roll out Tizen 3.0 for last year's Gear S3 smartwatch, and there are a lot of new features and goodies included with it as part of Samsung's "Value Pack Update." Whether you're a fitness nut, use your smartwatch to help you be more productive throughout the day, or simply want access to some new UI tricks, Tizen 3.0 has something for just about everyone.

Some of our forum users have already started using the new software on their Gear S3, and this is what they had to say.

*/
vader4633 11-20-2017 03:09 PM “

Little cool thing, hold down on the watchface to see your other watchfaces. Turn the bezel all the way left and it will show 4 of the faces at a time to scroll through with the bezel.

Reply
*/
Cowboy8467 11-20-2017 03:31 PM “

Finally have the ability to see an entire text message thread even if you don't have default samsung messaging. Using Textra and I am able to see the whole thing.

Reply
*/
stmax 11-20-2017 10:42 PM “

My favorite feature so far... The quick settings can be edited and one of them is AOD! I use AOD at work but screen off after work. Now it's one step away rather than drilling into settings.

Reply
*/
RustyFJ 11-20-2017 10:48 AM “

Make sure you sync your steps and other health measurements with your phone before you update. Annoyingly I've lost all steps and number of floors climbed today since the update.

Reply

If you've already downloaded the update, we'd like to hear from you – How are you liking Tizen 3.0 on your Gear S3?

Join the conversation in the forums!

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2 days ago

Best photo editor for your Chromebook

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Polarr Photo Editor

Polarr Photo Editor is the best way to edit pictures on your Chromebook.

One of the most often asked questions about Chromebooks we get is how to edit photos. You see the same questions in the comments of Chromebook posts and in forums and everywhere else. It's a valid question.

November 2017: We like to keep tabs on posts like this one, so people searching for the best way to edit a photo on their Chromebook find it and get the right answer. After spending a weekend trying out a lot of good photo editing apps in the Chrome Store, Polarr is still the best you can get. It handles simple edits without needing a difficult workflow and has the tools to really dig into a RAW photo from your camera and produce a stunning professional finished photograph.

One of the biggest holes in the Chromebook toolbox has always been content creation apps and utilities. If you need to edit video or audio or do more than some quick touch up work on photos, you likely looked towards a Windows or Mac laptop instead of a Chromebook because the tools were few and far between and many of the available ones were little more than a link to an online utility.

That's starting to change. The old adage of "if you build it they will come" rings a little true. Chromebooks are selling well even with a down market for traditional computers, and more and more schools are giving students a Chromebook to help them with their schoolwork and get them ready for the "outside world." This puts more eyeballs on great apps, and developers like to have eyeballs on their stuff. Add in Android app support through Google Play and you have a ton of choices to sift through to find the best. We did it for you.

If you're looking for the best photo editor for your Chromebook you should install Polarr Photo Editor.

Polarr is a stand-alone program developed for Android, iOS, Windows, Mac, Linux, and Chrome. There is even an online version you can use through your web browser. It's a full-featured program, and not what many people imagine when they think of a Chrome app.

Simply put, it's the real deal. In fact, it's one of the best Chrome apps you'll find and an example of just how good things can be.

Polarr is one of the first Chromebook apps that's as good as anything on Windows or the Mac.

The feature set is the perfect mix for casual to advanced work, which is exactly where a Chromebook shines. If you just want to add a filter so your photo stands out a little on Instagram, they are there and can be applied with one click. If you just want to let the app do some automatic magic fixes, Polarr can do that, too, and it does a great job smoothing out the noise and sharpening your photo while not destroying the color balance. When you want or need to do more, Polarr has you covered there, too.

You can adjust the color, lighting, detail, vignetting, HSL (hue, saturation, and luminance), RGB channel curves, toning, and distortion. You can even apply photo effects like fringing or film grain. And you can do this on a RAW file up to 40MP in size.

Polarr Photo Editor

The controls are simple and perfect for anyone who doesn't have to use Photoshop five days a week to earn a paycheck. All adjustments are in real time so you can see what effect each has and you have a full history panel to undo any or all the changes. You can even drag and drop the controls so the toolboxes work the way you want them to.

Polarr on my Chromebook makes my workflow easy again.

Here at AC taking photos is part of the job, and a big part of that is trying to make sure the stray piece of dust or eyelash doesn't ruin a photo and the bright screen on Android phones isn't washed out. That means most of the time our pictures of phones need run through an editing program. I've been using Polarr on my Chromebook to do it without any problems. In a lot of ways, I prefer Polarr to Lightroom — I like the tools interface better and the file handling is much better if you only have a few pictures to work on. Most importantly, Polarr does a good job balancing the exposure and cleaning up the noise that gets left behind when your adjusting it.

If you have a Chromebook or Chromebox — especially if you're all-in and it's your only computer — you need to try it. You can install Polarr for free from the Chrome Web Store and get most of the experience. All the tool features are available but some of the advanced adjustments are locked. What you get for free is very usable and works great. If you like what you see and want the rest the program is $20. That's about $100 cheaper than Lightroom and the things most people who don't need Lightroom would want to do are easy with Polarr. I feel like I got my money's worth.

Download Polarr Photo Editor for Chrome (Free / full version $19.99)

Updated November 2017: Polarr is still the best photo editor for your Chromebook, no matter what your skill level might be.

Chromebooks

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2 days ago

OnePlus 5T review: Potent power at a practical price

6

For the past four years, whenever I've been asked where to find a good deal on a smartphone, "OnePlus" has been one of the first words out of my mouth. The company has made a name for itself by building impressive phones that it sells at impressively low prices – and the OnePlus 5T is the latest in that lineup. With an enlarged 18:9 AMOLED display and a revised camera that dedicates an entire half of its optics to low light, the OnePlus 5T is a promising contender. But here's the thing: at $499 to start, the 5T is also the most expensive OnePlus phone to date.

With affordable phones getting better every month and vendors like Amazon lowering prices in exchange for lock screen ad space, $499 feels like a lot to ask for a phone family that used to start a full two Benjamins cheaper. Find out if the latest from the "Flagship Killer" is worth your dough in MrMobile's OnePlus 5T Review – and then check out Andrew Martonik's full review right here on Android Central!

Stay social, my friends

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2 days ago

Save 20 percent on used products at Amazon Warehouse (UK)

0

Take a look at Amazon UK's used product range to save a further 20 percent on already discounted prices.

Purchasing new products isn't always the best way to save money and bag a stellar deal. Existing owned products can be an afterthought but should be considered, especially on returned products that haven't been used at all. Amazon's own Warehouse, which houses all returned and used products, is offering a further 20 percent discount on the already applied Warehouse price drop.

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2 days ago

OnePlus 5T is now up for sale on Amazon India for ₹32,999

0

OnePlus 5T is available in an early access sale on Amazon India.

The OnePlus 5T is now up for sale on Amazon India. The sale is limited to Prime members, and gives customers a chance to get their hands on the device before general availability kicks off on November 28.

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2 days ago

Pick up an unlocked 32GB Moto G5 Plus at Amazon for $170

6

This deal features the Moto G5 Plus at its lowest price ever!

Is this deal for me?

Amazon is selling the unlocked Moto G5 Plus phone for just $169.99. This is the device's lowest price ever and saves you around $50 off its regular price. This offer is only available on the Lunar Gray device.

The Moto G5 Plus features:

  • Fingerprint reader
  • High-grade aluminum design
  • Octa-core processor
  • 5.2" HD Display
  • 12 MP rear camera
  • 5 MP front-facing camera
  • 3000 mAh battery
  • Android 7.0

This model comes with 32GB of storage space though there's a 64GB model available for $300. You can add a microSD card for more space if you want as well.

TL;DR

  • What makes this deal worth considering? - This unlocked device is free of ads unlike the other discounted version Amazon sells.
  • Things to know before you buy! - The Moto G5 Plus has a 4.1 out of 5-star rating on Amazon and is the #1 best-seller on the site in the Unlocked Cell Phones category.

See at Amazon

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2 days ago

Tesla's Desktop Supercharger is the desk charger your phone deserves

20

Tesla's Desktop Supercharger and Powerbank are expensive, but boy do they look good.

Tesla recently held an event in New York City to announce its all-new semi truck and updated Roadster 2.0, and if you're still riding the Tesla high after reserving a couple Roadsters for the cool price of $50,000 each, the company now has a couple of mobile accessories so you can show off your Tesla pride wherever you go.

Tesla Desktop Supercharger

The first, and arguably best, accessory is the Desktop Supercharger. This is an exact replica of the Superchargers that Tesla uses to charge up its vehicles, but it's been shrunken down to fit on your desk and charges your phone rather than your car. The same 3D CAD data that's used to manufacture that real Superchargers was used to create this model, and even if you don't own a Tesla like me, you've got to appreciate the sleek design of the thing.

Tesla Powerbank

In addition to the Desktop Supercharger, you can also buy Tesla's Powerbank. This is a portable charger with a 3350 mAh capacity, outputs at 5V/1.5A for fast top-up times, and has integrated lightning and microUSB cables. The Powerbank's design is based off Tesla's Supercharger monument found at the Tesla Design Studio, and while the price is pretty high considering the mAh count and lack of USB-C, it also looks wickedly good.

Both the Desktop Supercharger and Powerbank cost $45, and if you're interested, you can buy them from Tesla's website right now.

See at Tesla

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2 days ago

Gear S3 gets Tizen 3.0 update with enhanced UI, fitness tracking, and more

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Tizen 3.0 is available to download now through the Samsung Gear app on your phone.

Samsung's Gear S3 was widely considered to be one of the best smartwatches around when it debuted in late 2016, and that's a point that's still often associated with it to this very day. Tizen 3.0 is now being rolled out to the Gear S3 as part of Samsung's "Value Pack Update", and there's a lot that's included with it.

Tizen 3.0 ships on the Gear Sport out of the box, so while the features here aren't entirely new, they are things we haven't yet seen on its older brother. One of the biggest improvements with the 3.0 update is an even heavier focus on fitness tracking. With Tizen 3.0, you can use the Gear S3 to continuously monitor your heartbeat with improved accuracy, add food eaten throughout the day to keep track of calories, and use Samsung's Health Fitness Program that allows you to control workout videos on your smart TV and even see your heart rate in real-time on the big screen.

If fitness tracking really isn't your thing, the update also allows you to now create contacts and events right on your watch, view and edit checklists, as well as edit how often you're notified of web and video reminders.

The UI as a whole retains the same look, but there are a few smaller updates that make interacting with it all the more enjoyable. Widgets have been reworked to showcase more information on the Gear S3's circular display, rotating the bezel quickly will allow you to see more options at once when changing your watch face, and you can go from a text message notification right to the reply field by just rotating your bezel as well.

Top this off with the ability to reorder apps based on how recently they've been used, swipe up or down from any screen to access the new Moment Bar, and a more modern look for the companion Samsung Gear app on your phone, and you're looking at a lot of new goodies.

Samsung's Value Pack Update with Tizen 3.0 is available to download now through the Samsung Gear app.

Samsung's Gear Sport is currently the best alternative to Android Wear

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2 days ago

Amazon releases a (RED) Echo to help fight AIDS

10

Echo in (RED).

The second-generation Amazon Echo speaker was released earlier this year with an updated fabric design, featuring different color options than the original Echo.

As CNET reports, Amazon is releasing a red variant of the smart speaker in order to help raise money for AIDS research.

Amazon has recently partnered with (RED) on a number of products and is pledging portions of sales toward (RED)'s fight against AIDS. Amazon will give $10 for ever red Echo sold between now and December 31, 2017. Bank of America will also give 30 cents for every dollar spent on Amazon's (RED) product line during the same period, up to $1.5 million (U.S. sales only).

You can preorder the red Echo now and it's the same price as its charcoal, gray, and sandstone line mates, at $99. The red Echo will be released on December 6, but all proceeds starting now are considered for Amazon's donation.

See at Amazon

Amazon Echo

See at Amazon

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2 days ago

Qualcomm might sell to Broadcom if share prices are raised to $80

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An increase of $10-per-share from Broadcom could result in a deal with Qualcomm actually going through.

At the beginning of this month, a report came to light that Broadcom was interested in buying Qualcomm for $105 billion. Qualcomm's Board of Directors rejected this deal a little over a week later, but since then, it now looks like the offer could come back into consideration – if the price is right.

According to a new report from Bloomberg, Qualcomm's investors will sell to Broadcom if the offer of $70-per-share is increased to at least $80.

When Qualcomm rejected Broadcom's offer on November 13, Executive Chairman and Chairman of the Board, Paul Jacobs, said that Broadcom's initial offer "significantly undervalues Qualcomm relative to the Company's leadership position in mobile technology and our future growth prospects." In other words, if Broadcom offers more money, we might have a deal after all.

Broadcom's current CEO is Hock Tan, and throughout his professional life, he's proven to be a pretty tough negotiator. The last three company's than Tan helped to complete deals on include LSI Corp, Broadcom Corp., and Brocade Communication Systems Inc. With all of these deals, the most Tan's ever gone over for his initial offer is 6.8-percent.

Hock Tan's never gone over 6.8-percent his initial offer when making similar deals in the past.

For example, when working out a deal with LSI, the company's CEO Abhi Talwalker asked for a 10-cents-per-share increase on what had been offered. In response to this, Tan wouldn't budge. Considering that Qualcomm is asking for $10 more per share, and its chances aren't looking too bright.

We've already made it clear a couple of times why we're against a deal between Qualcomm and Broadcom, so to know that one is still a possibility isn't the best way to start the week. We'll be following this story closely for any future updates, so stay tuned.

Braodcom buying Qualcomm could grind innovation to a screeching halt

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2 days ago

Best Cheap Android Phones of 2017

Best overall

Moto G5 Plus

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Motorola performed yet another pricing miracle with the Moto G5 Plus, the successor to last year's excellent Moto G4 series and a contender for the best affordable smartphone today.

It starts with the excellent 5.2-inch Full HD display, but the real benefit to the G5 Plus this year is the excellent performance and battery life from the combination of a Snapdragon 625 platform and a 3000mAh battery.

Also of note is the improved low-light performance from the 12MP camera, which boasts the same hardware as (and similar results to) the Galaxy S7.

Bottom line: This is the best sub-$250 phone you can buy today, and it's still a great device even if price isn't a factor.

One more thing: Motorola.com is offering the Moto G5 Plus with inexpensive financing if you don't want to pay up front.

Why the Moto G5 Plus is the best

Last year, we recommended the $199.99 Moto G4 over its $249.99 Plus variant, but this year the only distinction is between memory and storage amounts: the Moto G5 Plus comes in either a $229.99 2GB RAM / 32GB storage version, or a $299.99 4GB RAM / 64GB storage version — they are otherwise identical.

With either decision, you'll be happy with your purchase. Motorola has changed up the phone's design this year, adding a metal back and a more compact, mature look that complements the Moto Z series, and the excellent 5.2-inch IPS display is much more manageable in one hand. Also more manageable is the improved shape of the front fingerprint sensor, which is turned oblong and considerably easier to activate.

Motorola has also bestowed a fantastic camera on the Moto G5 Plus this year, giving it the same 12MP sensor and lens combination that's in the Galaxy S7 — though the results aren't quite as good. The phone isn't perfect — there's no NFC on the U.S. model, and it still uses the older Micro-USB charging port — but it's close.

And if you buy it through Amazon, you can save $45 on the base model, bringing it down to $184.99!

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Best all-metal

Honor 6X

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The Honor 6X replaces its predecessor the 5X on this list. While you won't be blown away by magnificent design or all of the top-end features, the Honor 6X is an exercise in what you can get for about $200. You get a good enough screen, expandable storage and a fingerprint sensor, wrapped in a metal body that's better than the plastic offerings out there. There's also a neat dual camera setup around back that can take interesting-looking shots.

Sure it's stuck on Micro-USB and the software has yet to make the jump to Huawei's new EMUI 5.0 (and we can't wait for that to come), but you can't get that complete of a package in a phone this inexpensive.

Bottom-line: It doesn't offer everything, but it's a solid package for the money.

One more thing: The Honor 7X is coming soon, but the 6X is still a great deal, especially at a discount.

Best for even less

Moto E4

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The Moto E line has always been about getting a barebones smartphone experience in order to get a super low price, and that's where the Moto E4 still lands. The specs aren't amazing, nor is the physical design, but you get that core Moto DNA that means this is a slick little phone for a great price.

You get a 5-inch HD display, a Snapdragon 425 processor, and 2800mAh battery. But you also get nice-to-haves at this price, like an 8MP auto focus camera and a fingerprint sensor.

It all retails for just $129 brand new, and it's tough to argue with that. Amazon has a Prime Exclusive version for $99, and Verizon's prepaid service charges just $70 for this phone — both are a steal of a deal.

Bottom-line: For a bargain basement price, it's tough to get a phone that performs better or has the features of the Moto E4.

One more thing: Be on the lookout for better deals and sales — this is a phone that will be discounted regularly to entice budget buyers.

Best for battery

Moto E4 Plus

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Whereas you get a lot for your money with the Moto E4, its Plus variant is only slightly more expensive and gives you a bigger screen, slightly more power and, best of all, a massive 5000mAh battery that lasts, well, forever.

Aside from that two (or three) day battery life, you get a decent 13MP rear camera, a nice 5MP front-facing camera with a flash, and Motorola's excellent Android software. The phone is available for a reasonable $139.99 through Amazon's Prime Exclusive series, but its $179.99 MSRP isn't bad, either.

Bottom-line: The Moto E4 Plus is one long-lasting candy handset. Expect two or three days on a single charge.

One more thing: It's compatible with all four major U.S. carriers, including Verizon and Sprint.

Best in Europe

Wileyfox Swift 2 X

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The Wileyfox Swift 2 X is the British company's latest budget phone, an update to the previous Swift 2. You're getting a 5.2-inch 1080p display in a solid body, filled with surprisingly good specs: a Snapdragon 430, 3GB of RAM, 3010mAh battery with Quick Charge, 16MP camera, fingerprint sensor, NFC and dual SIMs.

At £219 the Swift 2X competes nicely with the other budget offerings from Moto, while offering a bit more hardware style and a different software experience. You get a clean version of Android 7.1.1 here, and Wileyfox has historically been surprisingly good with software updates as well.

Bottom-line: For those in Europe looking something a little nicer than a Moto G4 Play, with a fresh software experience, the Swift 2 X is a good choice.

One more thing: Don't be tempted by the cheaper Wileyfox models. The Swift 2 X is the only one we recommend.

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Conclusion

If you don't want to spend over $250 and still want a great Android phone, the Moto G5 Plus is the best choice. You don't get the best looking or feeling phone, but it offers a top-notch experience, especially for the price.

Best overall

Moto G5 Plus

See at Amazon

Motorola performed yet another pricing miracle with the Moto G5 Plus, the successor to last year's excellent Moto G4 series and a contender for the best affordable smartphone today.

It starts with the excellent 5.2-inch Full HD display, but the real benefit to the G5 Plus this year is the excellent performance and battery life from the combination of a Snapdragon 625 platform and a 30000mAh battery.

Also of note is the improved low-light performance from the 12MP camera, which boasts the same hardware as (and similar results to) the Galaxy S7.

Bottom line: This is the best sub-$250 phone you can buy today, and it's still a great device even if price isn't a factor.

One more thing: Motorola.com is offering the Moto G5 Plus with inexpensive financing if you don't want to pay up front.

Best Android phones under $400
Best Android phones under $100

Updated November 2017: These are still the best cheap phones you can buy.

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2 days ago

Anker's Zolo Liberty wireless earbuds now available for $99

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In the Bluetooth headphone/earbud market, completely wireless solutions like Apple Airpods and Samsung's Gear IconX are all the rage. There are a lot of companies trying their hand in this area, and Anker is the latest to do so with its recently released Zolo Liberty earbuds.

The Zolo Liberty buds feature a design that's pretty commonplace these days for truly wireless earphones. You have two individual earbuds that aren't connected by any wires, and when you're not using them, you can store/charge them in the included carrying case. The buds themselves should get you around 3.5 hours of use per charge, and the case allows for 24 hours of stamina before you'll need to dig out the included microUSB charger.

The Liberty+ costs $50 more and comes with 48-hour battery life and Bluetooth 5.0.

Anker is promoting a tight seal in your ears with the Zolo Liberty, and this should allow for excellent bass and great sound-isolation. The Push And Go system creates for a simplified pairing process, and tapping the earbuds will bring up Anker's Smart AI that you can use to talk to either Alexa or Siri.

One thing to keep note of is that these are not the Zolo Libery+ earbuds that Anker launched on Kickstarter this past June. The Liberty and Liberty+ are very similar to one another, but the latter offers 48 hours of battery with the charging case and Bluetooth 5.0 compared to Bluetooth 4.1 on the regular model.

If a bigger battery and newer Bluetooth standard aren't important to you, however, you can buy the Zolo Liberty on Amazon right now for $99.

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2 days ago

Android color management: Everything you need to know

26

Color is complicated, but Oreo might be able to help.

There has been a lot of talk about color management here and elsewhere on the internet lately. Android Oreo provides new support for color management, the Pixel 2 XL has a reputation for doing it poorly, and these two things combined make us want to talk about it. But, what exactly does color management mean?

Let's talk about that and a bit about how and why it's used, and maybe even some more cool stuff.

What is color management?

Don't laugh, but you have to understand just what color is based on the way our eyes see it before you talk about how our gadgets try to do it right.

Color is easiest described as the result of Hue, Saturation, and Brilliance.

Light emits energy over specific bands or wavelengths, but our eyes can't see most of them. This is known as spectrum. Terms like IR (infrared, or longer wavelengths than the red end of the spectrum we can see) and UV (ultraviolet, shorter than the blue wavelengths we can see) are real and there is plenty of science about measuring their intensity but they don't have anything to do with color because color is a human thing.

In those wavelengths of light that are visible, Hue is the point where a band has the most energy, Saturation defines the bandwidth (where the emission of light begins on the spectrum and where it ends), and Brilliance is the intensity of a human-visible light wave. Hue defines what color our eyes will see, Saturation defines the purity of it, and Brilliance defines its brightness. Charts help, so here's one.

This is the type of light that a plant can't use for photosynthesis. This is why plants are mostly this color — they reflect this light!

In this chart, red, green and blue all have approximately the same hue — they peak around 450 - 550 nanometers. Red has the most bandwidth (it covers more spectrum) so is less saturated than blue which has the least amount of bandwidth. All three colors have a very high brilliance where they peak, so they are equally intense. Our eyes interpret this as a muddy ugly yellow color. All colors created in red, blue, and green will have their own spectrum profile just like ugly-yellow does.

The color on your TV and the color on your phone and the color from your camera all need to match.

RGB stands for red, green, and blue. It's an additive model to create color, where light in each spectrum is emitted to create the color. If you have a color inkjet printer (remember those?) it creates a color using cyan, magenta, yellow and black (CMYK) as a subtractive model, where colors are applied so that the light reflected from a surface is a specific color. RGBA (the A is for Alpha and determines the level of transparency) is the model used on a display to produce a color, no matter what type of display is being used.

The color produced by a printer using the CMYK model and color produced on your phone's screen using the RGBA model have to appear the same to our eyes — red needs to look red.

This is color management in its most basic form.

Actual color management

There are a lot of different ways to "create" color. We looked at the HSB, RGB, and CMYK models above, but there are a lot of other ways to try and represent what the output of a light source looks like to our eyes. They were all designed so that pink looks pink, green looks green, orange looks orange, and so forth. We can get a good basic idea of what color is trying to be represented by any color model in any medium. But a basic idea just isn't enough.

Doing something is not the same as doing it well, and that goes for color management, too.

The spectrum of colors is nearly infinite, and when you are using something capable of displaying more than a handful of them you need a way to make sure a particular shade of green looks the same to a person's eyes no matter where it's being displayed or what model is being used to create it. When you're dealing with the millions of different colors a modern electronic display can show, a good method to reproduce the correct color becomes very important.

You need a good screen

You start with the display itself. Any good high-end display needs to be able to reproduce a Wide Color Gamut. There are standards from the ITU-R (International Telecommunication Union - Radiocommunications Sector) that decides what a wide color gamut is, and they involve a lot of math and science. Thankfully, we don't need to do the math and only need to know what color spaces meet the standards. For our phones, that's usually the DCI-P3 color space.

This matters more now that displays can show more colors.

The ill-fated Galaxy Note 7 is listed as the first phone to ship with a 100% DCI-P3 HDR display, but since we've seen DCI-P3 capable displays from plenty of companies. The iPhone 7 and newer ship with one, the OnePlus 5 and up have one, the HTC U11+ and the Pixel 2 XL and more all have 100% compliant DCI-P3 displays. This means that the screen can reproduce colors correctly and accurately to meet the ITU-R standards.

Then you calibrate it

Once you use the right hardware, calibration comes into play. Calibration is measuring the output of a display as it reproduces different colors and adjusting the hardware so that the readings meet a specific value. Because it's impossible to calibrate 16.7 million different colors, common colors spaces are used. The most common is sRGB (standard Red Green Blue).

Developed by HP and Microsoft, sRGB is the standard on monitors, printers and the internet when no specific color space is defined, and it's a very good standard. Calibrating for sRGB is fairly easy because you adjust with one channel at a non-zero value and the other two at zero and cycle through. That's why you'll see 255,255,255 expressed for a color (that one is white) or 255,0,0 (that's red). Once the chromatic of each primary channel is calibrated, every other color will be, too.

Ideally, this is what every company making a display does then it ships the display out the door.

Before Oreo, color management on Android was broken

The problem is that some companies using Wide Color Gamut displays would stretch the sRGB space and reinterpret the color values into their own unique gamut. This makes the three primary channels very oversaturated, which in turn means that every one of the 16.7 million colors the display was capable of showing was no longer calibrated to look the same on any other device.

There are many color spaces and profiles. The one most important to Android is sRGB.

Before Android Oreo, applications used the sRGB color space. There's a reason for this — low-end hardware. Displaying a wide color gamut takes more GPU and CPU power than the sRGB space. If Android were set up with a wide color space as the default, some of the phones people are buying would struggle to display it. Even if a phone's display wasn't even capable of showing all the colors, there's still a fairly large performance hit.

Manufacturers of high-end devices felt that "breaking" color calibration and processing color with their own values would showcase their superior displays, and if there's one thing I've learned doing this job for almost eight years is that a phone manufacturer only cares about what's best for itself.

Some apps still need to show mostly accurate color, even when a manufacturer breaks the color space, so developers had to desaturate their assets to try and compensate. A video, for example, looks best when a red stop sign is the same red you recognize it as and not a random color that a manufacturer decided it should be. Once you introduce a device with a 100% DCI-P3 display calibrated for the sRGB color space, things start to look broken. This is the crux of the issues surrounding the "muted" colors on the Pixel 2, though some experts say the calibration is not very accurate from unit to unit.

Here's how it gets fixed

Proper Wide Color Gamut support makes this particular Pixel 2 XL and the Note 8 display this image the same on both screens.

This is the simple part and probably should have been done from the very beginning. A developer can detect if a device is using a Wide Color Gamut display and have an activity inside of the application use the correct color space to make the most of it. If the device is not capable of displaying wide color, the default sRGB profile is used.

Google has provided plenty of assets for developers who want to follow the new guidelines in their apps:

This is all well and good and should prove to be a great way to make sure that colors look the same from device to device unless it's a lower-end model incapable of displaying every color. Those would still look correct between devices because they would use the sRGB color space. The problem is getting everyone on board to do the same thing.

We're hopeful things will get better

For this to work, Samsung, OnePlus, LG and every other company that's "broken" the sRGB interpretation has to go back and correct it and developers need to rebuild their apps to support the new color space guidelines. And nobody wants to do it.

Companies won't likely change the way they do things until app developers make the apps that look good, and developers aren't going to write apps that will look broken on millions and millions of phones. Apple was able to transition to proper color management because it controls the hardware and software space, as well as set App Store guidelines. Google doesn't have that luxury.

Somewhere someone is thinking of the way to fix all of this. And shipping a broken user-selectable color space on Pixel 2 phones to compensate — well, that's not it. We know that everyone involved wants to do things the right way, and that also means not breaking anything on the phones that have already been sold. Hopefully, it gets sorted out sooner than later.

Android Oreo

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 days ago

Consolidate your remotes with a Harmony Companion for just $100

1

Control everything from one thing!

Is this deal for me?

Amazon has dropped the price on Logitech's Harmony Companion Remote down to $99.99, which is a savings of $50. This remote will allow you to leave behind the stack of remotes you currently use to control your TV, DVD player, cable box and home theater system, and use just one insteadl.

Feature include:

  • Works with Alexa for voice control. Performs activities like Lower the blinds, dim the lights, fire-up the TV for movie night—all with a tap of the finger.
  • Use your Smartphone (with available app) or included Harmony Remote for one-touch control of your entertainment system and home automation devices such as Philips Hue lights or Nest Learning Thermostat
  • Companion remote includes full featured home entertainment controls including dedicated home automation controls
  • Included Harmony Hub lets you control devices hidden behind cabinet doors or walls, including game consoles such as PS3, Wii, and Xbox 360
  • Simple setup on computer or the available smartphone app – works with over 270,000 devices, including your TV, satellite or cable box, blu-ray player, Apple TV, Roku, Sonos, game consoles, Philips Hue lights, and more

TL;DR

  • What makes this deal worth considering? - This isn't an all-time low on this remote, but it's the lowest we have seen in quite a while. It allows you to stop using 10 different remotes all the time and instead just use one.
  • Things to know before you buy! - If you want to take advantage of the Alexa features, you'll need an Alexa-enabled device. You can bundle the remote and an Echo Dot for just $30 more, which is an additional $20 in savings.

See at Amazon

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