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printed February 26, 2017
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Hands On with the Huawei P10

Today, 12:01 PM   by Rich Brome

The P10 is Huawei's flagship phone for 2017, (aside from the super-size Mate series.) It's a definite step up from the P9, packing in the very impressive Kirin 960 chipset, also found on the Mate 9. It sports a more rounded metal design and a new style of fingerprint sensor on the front. But it lacks any of the trendy new features in the competition's 2017 flagships. How does it stack up in person? Read on for our impressions.

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Nokia Brings Back the 3310

Today, 11:35 AM   by Rich Brome

Nokia today introduced a new version of the old Nokia 3310 phone. It includes a color screen, Snake, and the original Nokia ringtone. It also comes in four colors. No other information was announced.

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Nokia Expands its Android Lineup

Today, 11:32 AM   by Rich Brome

HMD Global — the new custodian of the Nokia brand for phones — today announced three new Android-based Nokia phones.

  • Nokia 6: Already released in China, this 5.5-inch-screen phone will released globally for 229 euros. (shown)
  • Nokia 5: This solid aluminum phone has a 5.2-inch screen and a fingerprint reader in the home button. It will come in four colors. It will retail for 189 euros.
  • Nokia 3: A 5-inch screen and retailing for just 139 euros.
All three have a "pure" version of Android 7 Nougat, with Google Assistant, and will be available globally by June of this year.

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Motorola Phones to Gain Access to Amazon Alexa

Today, 11:10 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Today, 11:11 AM

Motorola and Amazon today said the Moto Z series of phones will soon have access to the Amazon Alexa voice-powered assistant. Alexa will be enabled through a Moto Mod that is still under development. When attached to the Mod, the Moto Z will act just like an Amazon Echo in-home speaker. Moreover, Motorola said it will bake Alexa directly into its handsets later this year.


Motorola Shows Off New Mods for Moto Z Phone

Today, 11:06 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Motorola today announced several new Moto Mods that are compatible with the Moto Z series of handsets. The first is a new battery pack with a unique design. The second is an accessory that will charge any battery-powered Mod. The third is a accessory for wireless charging. The last is a gamepad to assist with gaming. It includes directionals, buttons, and pads for interacting with games. Motorola say these Mods will go on sale during the first half go the year. Motorola did not say anything about pricing for these mods.

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Withings to Rebrand Under Nokia

Today, 10:56 AM   by Rich Brome

HMD Global today announced that its Withings subsidiary will henceforth be rebranded as Nokia, becoming Nokia's line of wearable watches and fitness trackers.

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Motorola Debuts G5 and G5 Plus

Today, 10:50 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Today, 11:42 AM

Motorola today announced the Moto G5 and G5 Plus, the fifth generation in Motorola's line of mid-range handsets. The phones feature metal frames and adopt a design language that vaguely resembles the Moto Z series. Shared features between the two phones include full HD screens, fingerprint readers, Android 7 Nougat, memory card support, water-repellant coating, and good support for U.S. LTE bands.

  • G5 Plus: The larger of the two phones (pictured) has a 5.2-inch display and is powered by a 2.0 GHz Snapdragon 625 processor with 2 or 3 GB of RAM and 32 or 64 GB of storage. The main camera has a 12-megapixel sensor a f/1.7 with double focus pixels, while the selfie cam has a 5-megapixel sensor. The G5 Plus has a 3,000mAh battery with Motorola's Turbo Charging technology. It includes NFC, but the U.S. variant drops this feature.
  • G5: The G5 is slightly smaller thanks to the 5.0-inch screen. It is powered by a Snapdragon 430 processor with 2 GB of RAM and 32 GB of storage. The main camera has a 13-megapixel sensor at f/2.0, while the selfie cam has a 5-megapixel sensor. The removable 2,800mAh battery supports rapid charging.
The Moto G5 will not come to the U.S., but the G5 Plus will reach the U.S. in April for $229.


ZTE Says Gigabit Phone Is Fast, But Reveals Few Details

Today, 9:00 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

ZTE today announced a smartphone that is capable of attaining download speeds of 1 Gbps. The Gigabit Phone, says ZTE, is the first handset to lay claim to such raw speed. The phone is able to do this using ZTE's Pre5G Giga+ MBB solution, though ZTE didn't share many details about the network technology involved. The Gigabit Phone itself relies on a Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor paired with a Qualcomm X16 modem. Together, they can take advantage of carrier aggregation, 4x4 MIMO, and 256QAM to deliver 1 Gbps downloads. In addition to the speed, ZTE claims the Gigabit Phone is three times more efficient at processing data across today's LTE 4G networks. The Gigabit Phone and the underpinning technology will help ZTE and its partners bridge existing LTE 4G networks with what will eventually become 5G technologies. ZTE did not show a picture of the phone, nor state any other specifications or details such as pricing and availability.

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Huawei P10 to Come in Eight Pantone Colors

Today, 8:37 AM   by Rich Brome

Huawei today announced the P10, its new mid-size flagship phone for 2017. The phone is similar in size to last year's P9, but with more rounded sides and corners to make it feel thinner. The metal-body phone will be offered in eight different colors — including Greenery, Dazzling Blue, and Ceramic White. Greenery is Pantone's color of the year for 2017. Most colors will come with a sand-blasted soft-touch finish, while Dazzling Blue will sport a hybrid diamond cut (brushed metal) finish, and Ceramic White will be high-gloss. The P10 is powered by the same Kirin 960 processor as found in the Mate 9, accompanied by 4 GB of RAM. The 5.1-inch, full-HD display is protected by Gorilla Glass 5 with rounded edges. A new-generation, dual-sensor Leica camera module on the back includes a 12-megapixel / f2.2 traditional camera plus a 20-megapixel monochrome camera. The 8-megapixel camera on the front also has a Leica lens. The company has also placed the fingerprint reader on the front, below the display, where it replaces the usual three Android navigation buttons. Swiping left brings up recent apps, while swiping right performs the "back" action. The phone runs Android 7.0 with Huawei's EMUI 5.1 software on top. The 3,200 mAh battery can be topped up with fast charging via the USB-C connector. A 3.5mm audio jack is also present. The company will also offer a slightly larger variant in the P10 Plus. The P10 plus steps up to a 5.5-inch 2K display and 3,750 mAh battery. It also has a better camera lens with a f/1.8 aperture. It will be offered in seven color options. Pricing starts at €649 for the P10. The US is not among the list of initial launch markets, but some versions will support AT&T and T-Mobile networks.

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Huawei Watch 2 Packs in the Features

Today, 8:30 AM   by Rich Brome

Huawei today announced the second generation of its Android Wear smartwatch. The new Huawei Watch 2 adds a number of features, including optional 4G LTE data, standalone GPS, continuous heart rate monitoring, NFC, Android Wear 2.0, and a special watch-only mode that can achieve up to 25 days of battery life. The watch-only mode displays only the time and a live step counter. In smartwatch mode, the 420 mAh battery can power the watch for two days, or ten hours with both LTE and GPS active. Fast charging via the magnetic dock can fully power up the battery in one hour. The 1.2-inch, fully-round, AMOLED display has improved resolution at 328 ppi. The standard model has a plastic body to allow for integrated LTE antennas. The face is made of ceramic and Gorilla Glass 3. The rubber straps are standard 20mm with quick-release pins. The Watch 2 is rated IP68 for water resistance. A "classic" model is also available with a sleeker metal body, but without LTE. The classic model comes with a 22mm hybrid strap that is leather on the outside, and rubber on the inside for sweat resistance. The controls consist of the touch screen and two side buttons: a home button and a customizable shortcut button.

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Google Assistant to Land On More Phones

Today, 7:53 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today said a wider selection of Android phones will soon have access to the Google Assistant. The Assistant is already available to the Pixel, Google Home, Android Wear 2.0, and within the Allo messaging app. Starting this week, the Assistant will come to most phones running Android 6 Marshmallow and Android 7 Nougat. It will reach English speakers in the U.S first, followed by Canada, Australia, and the U.K., and later Germany. Google says it will add more languages and regions over time. The Assistant will be installed automatically on handsets running the latest version of Google Play Services (10.2).


Hands On with the LG G6

Today, 7:00 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Today, 8:39 AM

LG's flagship handset for the year is the gorgeous G6. It's a beautiful handset that packs an a amazing amount of technology into its slim frame. This may be the first year wherein LG's flagship truly goes toe-to-toe with the best from Apple and Samsung. Here are our first impressions of the LG G6.

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LG G6 Is Rugged, Waterproof, and Powerful

Today, 7:00 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

LG today announced the G6, its flagship smartphone for 2017, which is meant to compete with the Apple iPhone 7 and Samsung Galaxy S8. The G6 features a sleek metal-and-glass design that keeps the footprint at a minimum despite the large screen. The G6 packs a unique 5.7-inch qHD+ display with an 18:9 aspect ratio and curved corners. The rounded corders of the display, along with the rigid aluminum chassis and Gorilla Glass 3, make the display less prone to breakage when dropped. LG has tweaked the UI to take advantage of the added real estate with additional software controls that appear in select apps. The camera app, in particular, takes advantage of the 18:9 (or, if you prefer, 2:1) aspect ratio to allow for two side-by-side square photos when shooting, along with an always-visible film strip. The camera itself boasts two, identical 13-megapixel sensors, one with a 125-degree wide field of view, and the other with a standard field of view. The camera capture 4K video and includes a two-tone flash. LG selected a 5-megapixel sensor for the user-facing camera, which has a 100-degree field of view, a selfie flash via the LCD screen, and advanced beautification controls. It records full HD video. The LG G6 is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 processor with 4 GB of RAM and 32 GB of storage. The phone supports microSD memory cards up to 2 TB. LG improved the battery in size when compared to last year's G5 to 3,300mAh. It supports Quick Charge 3.0 rapid charging and Qi/AirFuel wireless charging through the Gorilla Glass 5 rear panel. LG said the phone will support myriad LTE bands, including those used by all four carriers in the U.S. Pricing and exact availability are expected to be announced by LG's carrier partners, though the retail launch is expected by March 10.


TCL Reveals the BlackBerry KEYone Smartphone

Yesterday, 2:00 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

TCL today announced the KEYone, a BlackBerry smartphone that combines a large screen, full QWERTY keyboard, and hardened Android software in an aluminum body. TCL first teased the phone at CES last month, but has now shared all the KEYone's details. To start, the phone is a large slab with a 4.5-inch full HD screen with Gorilla Glass 4 filling the top two-thirds of the face. A physical keyboard below the screen offers trackpad functionality, app shortcuts, and a fingerprint reader in the space bar. The phone has rugged aluminum frame and a soft-touch faux leather rear panel. Internal specs include a Snapdragon 625 processor with 3 GB of RAM, 32 GB of storage, and space for a microSD card up to 1 TB. The battery measures 3,505mAh for beyond a full day of use, and it charges rapidly (50% in 36 minutes) thanks to support for Quick Charge 3.0. The rear make makes use of the 12-megapixel IMX378 sensor from Sony with large pixels, f/2.0 lens, PDAF, 4K video capture, and two-tone flash. The front camera boasts an 8-megapixel sensor with an 84-degree field of view, selfie flash, and full HD video capture. The phone runs Android 7.1 with BlackBerry Hub+ and the company's DTEK security software. The KEYone will be sold in several variants around the world. TCL says two versions of the phone will work well in the U.S., including on the networks operated by AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless. The company plans to launch directly to consumers in Canada first, with the U.S. to follow shortly thereafter. TCL hopes to sell the device through carrier partners late in the year. The BlackBerry KEYone costs $549.

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Hands On with the BlackBerry KEYone

Yesterday, 2:00 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

The BlackBerry KEYone is here, a big smartphone that includes a large display, physical keyboard, and BlackBerry's hardened version of Android. The phone is big and has middling specs, but are importantly, it pulls at the heartstrings of those raised on BlackBerry's old corporate mini-machines. Here are our initial impressions of the KEYone.

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Samsung Makes Its Secure Folder A Downloadable App

Friday, 1:54 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung today released its Secure Folder through the Galaxy Apps Store. Secure Folder is a protected space for smartphones that can store files, documents, images, videos, or other content that the owner wishes to lock away. Samsung says the Secure Folder can act as a way for people to set up separate profiles for apps on the phone, as well, ensuring that only the protected content is available to those profiles. Samsung expects people will use standard tools such as PIN, pattern, passcode, or biometric verification (fingerprint) to access and manage the Secure Folder. The Samsung Secure Folder has ben around for a while, but it has always been preloaded directly to devices by Samsung. This marks the first time the app is available on its own as a separate download. Samsung is making the app available to the Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge first, with other models to follow later.


ITU Targets 20 Gbps for 5G Specification

Friday, 11:26 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

The International Telecommunications Union today released a draft report for what might eventually become the 5G specification. IMT-2020 is the working name for the 5G standard and the ITU has laid out a basic framework it wants to see technology companies meet. For example, the ITU wants a single cell site to support download speeds of at least 20 Gbps shared across the site. Real-world speeds would be on the order of 100 Mbps down and 50 Mbps up for every user connected to the cell site. Each cell site will also need to support maximum latency (network response time) of 4ms with 1ms available most of the time, and support up to 1 million connected devices to square kilometer. Further, 5G will need to be available to mobile devices traveling between 0 and 300mph with 0ms latency when mobile devices switch between cell sites. Last, the ITU wants to see 5G become more efficient with respect to mobile device power needs, and more efficient at delivering a raw number of megabits per hertz of spectrum. The ITU expects to discuss the specification over the next six months and finalize the standard by November. It will then be up to technology companies to make it happen. Many U.S. network operators and their telecommunications equipment partners are testing various ways to deliver 5G-like performance via LTE this year.


More Carriers and Phone Makers Agree to Adopt Google's RCS-Based 'Android Messages' Service

Friday, 7:40 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today said more wireless network operators and handset manufacturers will use Android Messages, its RCS-based messaging service, as the default SMS/MMS tool on their phones. (Android Messages was previously known as Google Messenger.) Some of the features of RCS, which is a global standard, include group chat, high-resolution photo sharing, advanced calling features, and read receipts. It has been improved lately with more interactive tools, such as the ability to check into flights. Google says a number of brands plan to use RCS in order to enhance their own services and help spur adoption. Some of the brands include Walgreens, Baskin-Robbins, FICO, Gamestop, Sonic, Subway, and Time. Moving forward, the Android Messages app with RCS will be preloaded by LG, Motorola, Sony, HTC, ZTE, Micromax, HMD Global, Archos, BQ, Cherry Mobile, Condor, Fly, General Mobile, Lanix, LeEco, Lava, Kyocera, MyPhone, QMobile, Symphony, and Wiko, along with Google's own Pixel and Android One devices. Further, Google was already working with carriers Sprint, Rogers, and Telenor, and today added Vodafone, Orange, Deutsche Telekom, and Globe. Notably absent fro the list of phone makers is Samsung, while AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon have also yet to commit. Phones with Android Messages on board will still be able to interact with Samsung handsets and those running on non-Sprint networks of course, but will lose the advanced features available via RCS. Samsung, AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon haven't said if or when they might adopt Google's Android Messages, though T-Mobile and Verizon already use their own RCS-like messaging platforms.

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