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Motorola One Action Turns the Camera "Sideways"

Today, 3:46 PM   by Rich Brome

Motorola is bringing its One Action phone to the US this month in an unlocked version for $350. This otherwise typical mid-range Android phone has a wide-angle (117º) camera on the back that's oriented to shoot landscape video when the phone is held vertically. The phone also has a standard 12 megapixel camera, a depth camera for portrait effects, and a 12 megapixel selfie camera. The 6.3-inch LCD screen has full HD resolution and a small hole-punch cutout for the selfie camera. The One Action has a Samsung Exynos processor, 4 GB of RAM, memory card slot, NFC, fingerprint reader, and 3.5mm audio jack. Pre-orders start today and the phone will be available from Motorola, Amazon, Best Buy, and B&H Photo by October 31st.


Nubia Red Magic 3S Offers Gaming Specs for $479

Thursday, 10:23 AM   by Rich Brome

The Nubia Red Magic 3S gaming phone will launch next week — October 16th — starting at $479. It has a faster processor (Snapdragon 855+) and storage (UFS 3.0) than original Red Magic 3, but the specs and design are otherwise almost identical. It has a 6.7-inch, full-HD OLED display with 90 Hz refresh rate, 240 Hz touch sampling rate, 5,000 mAh battery, shoulder buttons, liquid+air cooling with integrated fan, and a customizable light-up strip on the back. It also has a 48-megapixel Sony main camera, 3.5mm headset jack, fingerprint reader, and 27W fast charging. It does not have NFC, wireless charging, nor a memory card slot. It supports LTE 2/4/5/12/25/26/30/41/66 for US networks, giving it better support for AT&T's network than many other unlocked phones. The base version has 8 GB of RAM / 128 GB of storage, and is available in black or silver for $479 direct from the Red Magic web site. An upgraded "Cyber Shade" version has 12 GB RAM / 256 GB storage and a red/purple gradient design for $599.


Hulu Enables Offline Watching

Oct 8, 2019, 9:41 AM   by Rich Brome

Hulu is rolling out the ability for users on its ad-free plan to download shows to watch offline. The feature is available now for iOS, and soon for Android.

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PlayStation Remote Play Available for Android

Oct 7, 2019, 10:04 AM   by Rich Brome

Sony is updating its PS4 software this week for both console and mobile platforms. The new PS4 Remote Play app for Android will work on all phones with Android 5.0 and up; it was previously available only on Sony Android phones. Remote Play is already available for iOS. Sony is also updating its Second Screen app that turns your phone into a companion device while console gaming. Second Screen will now include a voice transcription accessibility feature for group chats, which converts party voice chat to text, and enables you to enter text that is read aloud to other party members. The new software is rolling out this week.


Review: Asus ROG Phone II for Non-Gamers

Oct 4, 2019, 12:50 PM   by Rich Brome   updated Oct 4, 2019, 12:52 PM

The Asus ROG Phone II is a beast of a phone. It's loaded to the gills with top-end specs and unique extra features that cater to hard-core gamers. But some of its wilder specs — like its massive 6,000 mAh battery and huge screen — might appeal to casual gamers, and even people who don't game on their phones at all. Other sites will tell you how this phone stacks up for gamers; we're going to focus on whether it makes sense for anyone else. Here are our thoughts after using it daily for two weeks.

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Microsoft Previews Dual-Screen Surface Duo Running Android

Oct 2, 2019, 10:47 AM   by Rich Brome

The Microsoft Surface Duo is a unique dual-screen device running Android that functions as a foldable tablet and mini version of the company's just-announced Surface Neo. Its dual 5.6-inch displays are joined by a 360-degree hinge that lets it fold with the displays facing either in or out. When folded, it's far wider than most phones, making it a slightly distinct category of device. It can run two apps side-by-side, use the second display as a keyboard, or function like one unified tablet. It won't be available until fall 2020.


Surface Earbuds are Microsoft's Stab at True Wireless Bluetooth

Oct 2, 2019, 10:04 AM   by Rich Brome

Microsoft's new Surface Earbuds are true wireless Bluetooth earbuds that promise 24-hour battery life. The buds integrate with Spotify and Microsoft Office. Touch controls on the outside can control Spotify music, or a PowerPoint presentation. They also include voice dictation and translation features. For example, they can add real-time captions of what you're saying to a live PowerPoint presentation, and translate those captions into any one of 60 languages. Surface Earbuds will sell for $250 and be available this fall.


LG K30 Series Proliferates on US Carriers

Oct 1, 2019, 10:12 AM   by Rich Brome

LG's entry-level K30 2019 model has launched in several different versions, under a variety of names, at AT&T, T-Mobile, and Cricket in recent weeks. Cricket launched the phone as the Escape Plus a few weeks ago, and sells it for $80. Since then, AT&T Prepaid has launched the same phone as the Arena 2 for $120, and LG now sells it unlocked as the K30 2019 for $140. Also, a slightly higher-end version with a fingerprint reader and better camera (13 megapixel instead of 8) is now available as the Prime 2 on AT&T (also $120) and Aristo 4+ on T-Mobile for $162.50. Those two models also differ: the Prime 2 has NFC, while the Aristo 4+ has dual-band Wi-Fi instead. Unusually, the Prime 2 and Aristo 4+ have only 16 GB of storage, while the otherwise lower-end Escape Plus and Arena 2 have 32 GB. All versions in the series have a tall HD display, 3,000 mAh battery, dedicated Google Assistant button, 5-megapixel selfie camera, 3.5mm headset jack, and a memory card slot.


YouTube Music Becomes Android's Default Music App

Sep 30, 2019, 11:15 AM   by Rich Brome

Going forward, all new phones shipping with Android 9 or 10 will come with the YouTube Music app. On Android 10 devices, it will be the only music app from Google to be pre-installed, replacing Google Play Music.


Cricket Expands Android Go Lineup with Alcatel Insight

Sep 27, 2019, 11:33 AM   by Rich Brome

Cricket now offers two different $80 phones running Android 9 Go Edition. The company launched the Alcatel Insight today, and the Cricket Icon on Monday. Both phones have a MediaTek MT6739 processor, FWVGA+ LCD display, 5 megapixel main camera, and 2 megapixel front camera. Go Edition is a special version of Android designed for entry-level phones with less than 2 GB of RAM and limited storage. Both the Icon and Insight have 16 GB of storage, but do have a memory card slot. The Alcatel Insight also has Google Lens, full-HD video recording, and a 2,200 mAh battery with Battery Saver Mode.


OnePlus 7T Offers Best of 7 Pro and More, for a Lower Price

Sep 26, 2019, 11:20 AM   by Rich Brome

OnePlus today revealed the OnePlus 7T, a new model that's a blend of the 6T and 7 Pro, offering most of the best features of both, for less money than the 7 Pro. It has a small-notch screen design like the 6T, but in an extra-tall 20:9 ratio with full-HD resolution and HDR10+. The 20:9 ratio allows the 7T to be slightly narrower than the 7 Pro. It also has the new Qualcomm Snapdragon 855+ processor, a slightly faster, gaming-optimized version of the top-end 855. Like the 7 Pro, it has three rear cameras (standard, wide, and telephoto) including a 48-megapixel main sensor, but the telephoto camera has been upgraded from 8 megapixels to 12. A new Macro Mode lets users to get up close to a focus distance of 2.5cm. Also like the 7 Pro, it has 90 Hz display refresh rate, "Warp Charge" fast charging, 128 GB of UFS 3.0 storage, Cat 18 LTE, and an in-display fingerprint reader. The 7T has 8 GB of RAM and a 3,800 mAh battery. It will ship with the just-released Android 10. Available color options are Glacier Blue and Frosted Silver. It will sell for $599 unlocked starting October 18th, and T-Mobile will be the exclusive US carrier for it.


Amazon Echo Buds Offer Alexa, Bose ANR, Passthrough Mode

Sep 26, 2019, 9:24 AM   by Rich Brome

Amazon's new Echo Buds are true wireless Bluetooth earbuds with Amazon's Alexa voice assistant, although they are also compatible with Siri and Google Assistant. Using three microphones in each bud, they offer Bose Active Noise Reduction, as well as Passthrough Mode for bringing in ambient noise when desired. Each bud has two premium, balanced armature drivers for better sound. They're rated IPX4 to withstand "splashes, sweat, or light rain." The buds alone last 4-5 hours, and the case provides three additional charges. Using Alexa requires the Alexa app on your connected phone. Echo Buds will cost $130. They are available for pre-order now and will ship October 30th.


Anker Moves Soundcore Beyond Budget Earbuds

Sep 26, 2019, 8:00 AM   by Rich Brome

Anker today introduced a new range of Spirit and Liberty Bluetooth earbuds. The new buds are much-improved over the original Spirit and Liberty series, but also much more expensive. While last year's Liberty models were all well under $100, the new Liberty 2 models range in cost from $100-150. Similarly, last year's Spirit models were all under $50, but the new Spirit 2 models range in cost from $60-100. All six new products charge via USB-C. The new Liberty 2 lineup are true wireless buds with enhanced sound quality. They all feature 4-mic noise cancellation and HearID personalized tuning.

  • The top-end Liberty 2 Pro feature Anker's unique Astria Coaxial Acoustic Architecture for better sound quality. Anker collaborated with 10 Grammy-winning audio producers to tune the sound to match professional studio monitor speakers. The buds alone last for eight hours, and the buds+case lasts for 32 hours. Ten minutes of charging in the case provides two hours of listening time. They will sell for $150.
  • The $100 Liberty 2 have the same design, features and specs as the Pro model, just swapping the Astria drivers for diamond-coated drivers of a more traditional design.
  • The Liberty Air 2 have specs and features similar to the Liberty 2, but in a style closer to Apple's AirPods, including the case. They also add wireless charging for the case, but still cost $100.
The Spirit line are relatively affordable buds with sweat protection (rated IPX7 or better), extra-secure fit, and BassUp, which analyzes and tunes audio in real time for more intense bass.
  • The Spirit 2 are the most affordable in the new range at $50. Like the original Spirit, they have a wire connecting the two buds behind the neck. But this year's edition has improved battery life (14 hours vs. 8), better waterproofing (IP68), and a built-in USB-C connector that can deliver two hours of juice after just fives minutes of charging.
  • The Spirit Dot 2 are small true wireless earbuds with a charging case. Their unique design has "Zero-Pressure AirWings" integrated into one end of each bud, so that the part that would normally stick out instead clips into your ear to hold them in place. The buds alone last for 5.5 hours, and the buds+case lasts for 16 hours. Diamond-coated composite drivers deliver superior sound. They will run $80.
  • The Spirit X2 are also a true wireless model, but with an over-ear loop, beefier 12mm drivers, better battery life at nine hours (36 with case), and an IP68 waterproof rating. They will sell for $100.

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Alleged Gov't Subsidy Fraud by Sprint Threatens Merger with T-Mobile

Sep 25, 2019, 6:19 PM   by Rich Brome

The FCC this week launched an investigation into allegations that Sprint collected federal subsidy payments for 885,000 subscribers that were not actively using Sprint service, violating a key rule of the Lifeline program for low-income consumers. If true, this would amount to Sprint collecting over $8 million/month of taxpayer money that it was not entitled to. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai announced the investigation yesterday. Today, FCC Commissioner Geoffrey Starks released a statement saying that the investigation "directly impacts our review of the proposed merger between Sprint and T-Mobile, one of the largest wireless transactions in FCC history. Given the enormity of the apparent wrongdoing committed here, we must pause our Commission review. ... There is no credible way that the merger before us can proceed until this Lifeline investigation is resolved and responsible parties are held accountable."


Cricket Offering Free Phones To New Customers

Sep 25, 2019, 9:57 AM   by Rich Brome

Cricket is offering a choice of eight different phones for free to new customers through the end of the month, and two models after that. Until October 1st, the free choices include several mid-range models such as the Moto g7 Supra, LG Stylo 5, and Nokia 3.1 Plus. Also free are the Samsung Galaxy J2 Pure, LG Harmony 2, LG Fortune 2, Moto e5 Cruise, and Nokia 3.1 C. After Oct. 1st, the Moto e5 Cruise will continue to be free until Nov. 21. The Samsung J2 Pure will be free again Oct. 11 - Nov. 21.


Google Play Pass Bundles 350+ Games & Apps for $5/Month

Sep 23, 2019, 5:49 PM   by Rich Brome

Google today launched Play Pass, a new $5/month subscription service for Android users that provides full access to over 350 games and apps, ad-free and without in-app purchases. Google is offering a ten-day free trial as well as special intro pricing of just $2/month for the first 12 months. The collection of games and apps is curated by Google. Games and apps part of Play Pass at launch include Terraria, Monument Valley, Risk, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, AccuWeather, and many more. Google will add new titles every month. Developers are invited to express interest, but Google decides which developers to invite into the program. The service is similar to Apple Arcade, a $5/month subscription games service Apple just launched for devices using its platforms. Google is leveraging existing titles while Apple Arcade games are all exclusive to that service.


Cricket Launches First Own-Brand Phone Made by Emblem

Sep 23, 2019, 4:48 PM   by Rich Brome   updated Sep 25, 2019, 2:53 PM

Cricket has launched the Icon — a Cricket-branded, entry-level phone — for $80. The phone is manufactured by Tinno for Emblem Solutions, which launched a little under a year ago with a financial investment and strategic agreement from AT&T to provide exclusive phones and tablets to AT&T. Cricket is a brand of AT&T. Cricket is offering a unique 2-year warranty on the phone. The Icon runs Android 9 Go Edition. It has a 5.5-inch display, 2,500 mAh battery, 5 megapixel rear camera, 2 megapixel front camera, MediaTek 6739 processor, 16 GB of storage, and a memory card slot.


Samsung Releasing Galaxy Fold on Friday

Sep 23, 2019, 9:53 AM   by Rich Brome   updated Sep 23, 2019, 9:56 AM

Samsung has finally set a US release date for its delayed and tweaked Galaxy Fold: this Friday, Sept. 27th. While T-Mobile had originally planned to offer the Fold, now it will only be available from AT&T and in an unlocked version. Select Best Buy and Samsung Experience Stores will sell both the unlocked version and the AT&T version. The Fold will come with a special support offering called Galaxy Fold Premier Service. This will include a dedicated phone number, video chat service, and in-person support. "Samsung experts" will be available for complimentary "onboarding" as well as ongoing support. The Galaxy Fold is the first smartphone for the US with a flexible pOLED screen that actually folds in half. It also has a full touchscreen interface on the outside. Its specs are similar to the high-end Galaxy S10+, including a top-end Snapdragon 855 processor, 12 GB of RAM, and triple rear cameras (wide, standard, and telephoto.) The Fold was originally slated to launch April 26th of this year, but the launch was delayed after multiple reviewers experienced serious issues soon after receiving the phone. The design has since been improved to address the issues seen on the original design.

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