Two new entries iterate on what the Gear S2 started, rounding out a full line of wearables.

Samsung was in at the ground floor with smartwatches with the original Galaxy Gear, and since then has dramatically changed its design and strategy year after year as the idea of what a smartwatch should be has evolved. They’ve dabbled with full-blown Android, Tizen, and Android Wear, but the Gear S2 of 2015 marked a refresh of the Tizen wearable platform that was dramatically better than previous iterations.

And in creating its best-yet smartwatch with the Gear S2, Samsung also made one of the top smartwatches available from any company. Its choice to open up beyond just Samsung phones had a large part to play in that, sure, but the sleek round hardware and new software experience were also great. A year on from that victory Samsung is rolling out the Gear S3 in two different variants: the Gear S3 Frontier is leading the charge with a masculine look and optional LTE while the Gear S3 Classic carries on from its predecessor. But in both cases we’re looking at upgraded internals, slicker hardware and a refreshed circular software experience.

In an interesting move, Samsung has also decided to launch the Gear S3 Frontier and Classic into a wearable lineup that still includes the now-year-old Gear S2 and S2 Classic, which will let these new models sit at the top of a line rather than be the sole offerings. Having the previous-gen models available at new lower prices below it can act as somewhat of a safety net for the upcoming Gear S3 Frontier and Classic, but we’re here to see how they shape up all on their own — here’s our hands-on preview with the latest Samsung Gear smartwatches.

Bigger and better

Samsung Gear S3 Hardware

The fact that the Gear S2 is sticking around after the launch of its successors sets you up for understanding the hardware design of these two new watches. With the small and sleek Gear S2 still available, Samsung took the opportunity to make the Gear S3 Frontier and Classic much larger devices, with 1.3-inch displays, 46 mm casings and extra thickness. The difference in naming this year doesn’t correspond to such a large delta of design between the models, either, with both clearly taking on some influence from the Gear S2 Classic.

The Gear S3 Frontier comes in a deep gunmetal finish and is far and away the more masculine of the two. Its rotating bezel is more imposing, with large gear-like teeth and more texture, standing out from the sleek body of the watch along with its angular textured buttons on the side. Around the body you’ll find a mixture of finishes that come together nicely — brushed on the top of the watch, but also shiny and mirror-like on the sides.

The Gear S3 Classic, on the other hand, is far more subdued and ready to fit in with a wider range of clothing. Its body is silver, once again with a mix of glossy and matte finishes around different portions that give it an interesting overall look. Its bezel is simple and flat with smaller teeth along the outside and a single chamfered edge that gives a sparkle as it turns. The side buttons are small and round, again exhibiting a subtle mix of textures.

Below the classy sculpted metal on both watches you’ll find an unsightly black plastic bulge, which of course is necessary from the standpoint of wireless charging, sensors and radios, but is still worth pointing out. Most smartwatches have plastic backs, but they’re not all this unsightly or visible while on the wrist.

These are nice looking watches, but they’re also probably too big for some wrists

Aside from the case design, both models are actually identical. The 1.3-inch circular displays are larger than the Gear S2 but still AMOLED and the same 360×360 resolution (though now with slightly larger pixels). You’re getting an Exynos processor, same as the Gear S2, paired with a larger 768MB of RAM and the same 4GB of storage for apps and local music. The larger casing means there’s a lot more room for battery: a considerable bump to 380 mAh (up from 250 mAh) that will offer an expected three to four days of usage. That’s a day more than the Gear S2, according to Samsung’s testing.

Like last year’s Gear S2 Classic, both Gear S3 models are ready to accept any 22 mm watch band of your choosing provided you have a couple simple tools. And many may consider this strap-swapping route, as the Gear S3 Frontier and Classic will not come in a variety of styles — the Frontier just comes in black and the Classic comes in silver, both with a simple band. Samsung is showing off dozens of bands in various colors, textures and materials that will be made available for purchase later as well, which is a big tease considering if you really like one you’ll have to buy it separately rather than choose it as your out-of-box strap.

Of course, you can grab any 22mm strap and throw it onto a Gear S3. Samsung has smartly chose to use quick release pins on their straps, placing a small metal nub on the underside of the lugs that you can grab onto with a fingernail to, well, quickly release the strap. It’s not quite Apple Watch elegant or easy, but it’s better than reaching for a specialized tool to do it.

In the default color combinations the Gear S3 Frontier and Classic are very handsome, and I use that descriptor specifically because these watches honestly seem to skew towards a strong, masculine design — even the more neutral Gear S3 Classic. That’s the case in terms of design but perhaps just as importantly size, where the new larger casing and extra thickness make the Gear S3 Frontier and Classic hefty. My larger wrists, which comfortably hold everything from a Gear S2 up to 48 mm analog watches, were totally fine with a Gear S3 Frontier or Classic on them, but I don’t think the feeling will be mutual among those with a smaller circumference down near their hands.

To each their own, I suppose, but I would most definitely caution anyone who isn’t used to wearing large watches to go see and try on a Gear S3 Frontier or Classic before buying it. Even though you may like the looks, the size may be tougher to handle — and in the end you may be better off with the smaller (and now cheaper) Gear S2 and S2 Classic.

Going rugged with MIL-STD 810G and Gorilla Glass SR+

Both the Gear S3 Frontier and Classic are IP68 water resistant like their predecessors, and have Gorilla Glass SR+ scratch-resistant display coverings. The Gear S3 Frontier goes another step with a MIL-STD 810G rating as well.

The MIL-STD 810G rating is rather ambiguous, as it nominally says that the watches are able to withstand excessive heat and cold, pressure, shock and vibration. The issue being that there aren’t rigorous checks to actually certify that a device is 810G compliant — so it doesn’t actually guarantee anything. But in trusting that Samsung has faithfully built the Gear S3 Frontier and Classic to the MIL-STD 810G spec you can expect it to be quite a bit tougher than your average smartwatch, and much tougher than the wrist it’s likely to be attached to whenever it encounters such situations.

An upgrade to LTE

Improving from last year, the Gear S3 Frontier will be available as an LTE variant if you feel you need standalone connectivity on your watch. Just like the 3G versions before it that means you’ll be able to pull down data to your wrist, make and receive phone calls (but VoLTE this time) and stream music via apps like Spotify without the need for your phone to be nearby. The Gear S3 Frontier LTE will also include GPS, which like the Gear Fit 2 will have a primary function of following your movements for fitness tracking.

Adding LTE doesn’t bring any extra size or trade offs

Unlike its predecessor the mobile data version of the Gear S3 Frontier has the same case size as the standard version, and of course offers the same specs as well. That means there’s no bump in battery for the cellular model, though the large bump over even last year’s 3G model should lead to the same or slightly better battery life — keeping it in the two to three day range.

We’re still waiting to hear about pricing information and which carriers will be offering the LTE version, but a good place to start would be Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile, which all carried the 3G versions of the Gear S2 and S2 Classic.

Little tweaks all around

Samsung Gear S3 Software

When it comes to the software, Samsung hasn’t made huge changes to what was very successful — albeit sometimes unintuitive — on the Gear S2.

With the latest version of its Tizen wearable platform there’s a distinct doubling down on the circular interface and the amount you interact with the rotating bezel of the watches. Rather than simply using the rotation for navigating the interface, you can now use it to take actions on the screen — for example when a call comes in or a reminder pops up, you can twist one way to accept it and another way to dismiss. For incoming text messages and emails, you can navigate through a set of “smart replies” with the bezel to quickly respond rather than dictating through voice or taking out your phone. In an attempt to do even more without touching the screen, there are also new voice commands for quick actions like reminders and to-do lists.

A few new features to an interface that was already solid and feature rich

Coinciding with the new larger batteries, there are two new battery saving modes. At 15% the Gear S3s will drop down to just a basic set of functions, losing third-party apps but retaining the watch face, notifications and incoming calls on the Frontier LTE. Once you hit 5% battery the watch will go to a “watch only” mode that simply just shows the watch face so you can still tell time — in this mode, the watch can last another full day from that little sliver of battery.

Samsung is also continuing to tout its app collection for the watches, which is growing but still very small. A new ADT app with always-available monitoring, a refreshed Uber experience and Spotify streaming music highlight the bunch, but there are lots of other big names like Yelp, BMW, NPR, CNN, Glympse, USA Today, WatchESPN and Nest that are still available. The app experiences are still a pretty mixed bag here, though — those with specific easy-to-use functions are very useful, while others that cater to a “browsing” experience just still aren’t suited to a smartwatch.

Over a dozen diverse watch faces are pre-installed, many of which are brand new to the Gear line and are tailored to the look of the hardware. The watch faces look even better when the screen is dim as well thanks to changes in the always-on mode, which displays double the colors. There are also thousands of watch faces available to download through Galaxy Apps, though you can’t really argue the third-party face offerings are as robust as Android Wear’s on Google Play.

For all of the Gear S2 and S2 Classic buyers out there, the most important part of all of this is that Samsung is committing to bringing this software experience back to your year-old watch as well. That means you’ll get the same smart replies, app compatibility and interface actions as the new watches through a basic software update rather than dropping money on a new (and bigger) watch.

Samsung Pay

Samsung Pay is already available in a limited form on the Gear S2, but the Gear S3 Frontier and Classic go all-in with a proper Samsung Pay implementation that mirrors what you get from its recent phones — both NFC and its amazing MST technology. The combination means you can tap your new watch on basically any payment terminal that takes card swipes, rather than just those with tap-and-go functionality.

Adding MST to Samsung Pay on your watch is a huge deal

In terms of user experience, it couldn’t be much simpler. Press and hold the back button to launch it, and you’ll see your stored cards as synced over from Samsung Pay on your phone. Choose the card and then tap it to the terminal — you just paid. When it comes to security, the watch doesn’t store any of your payment details — it’s all retained on the phone, and the watch can only carry 10 transaction tokens at a time.

That means you can make 10 payment attempts without your phone being connected, and if your watch is removed from your wrist you have to enter a four-digit PIN code. All of the security is done correctly here.

Need time to wear it

More Gear S3 to come

The Gear S3 Frontier and Classic are clear improvements over the Gear S2 line, with bigger displays, better hardware, larger batteries and new capabilities. The only downside to be found here is the size of the watches, which may not be compatible with smaller wrists — though that “issue” is heavily mitigated by the fact that the Gear S2 and S2 Classic are still on sale at new lower prices and will be receiving the latest software by the end of the year.

We’ll have more coverage of the Gear S3 Frontier and Classic, as well as updates for the Gear S2 line, as the devices and more information become available.




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Keeping old models will fill out the wearable lineup.

When the Gear S3 Frontier and Classic are released later this year, they won’t be taking store shelf space away from the Gear S2 — all four watches will sit together along with the Gear Fit 2 as important components of Samsung’s wearable ecosystem. Going a step further, the Gear S2 models will also be receiving an update by the end of the year with all of the new features being shown off on the Gear S3s — and considering that the Gear S2′s hardware is more than capable even a year on, they should be able to handle the software just fine.

Read: Gear S3 Frontier and Classic hands-on preview

As a quick refresher, here’s the breakdown of the specs of the Gear S3 Frontier and Classic, and how they compare to the Gear S2:

Category Gear S3 Gear S2
Screen size 1.3-inch circular AMOLED
360×360 resolution
Gorilla Glass SR+
1.2-inch circular AMOLED
360×360 resolution
Processor Dual-core 1GHz Exynos Dual-core 1GHz Exynos
RAM 768MB 512MB
Storage 4GB 4GB
Operating system Tizen Wearable OS Tizen Wearable OS
Battery 380 mAh 250 mAh
Connectivity Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, GPS, NFC, MST
LTE optional (Frontier)
Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, NFC
3G optional
Resistance IP68
MIL-STD 810G (Frontier)
IP68
Case size 46 mm 42 mm
Band size 22 mm 22 mm (Classic)
Dimensions 46 x 49 x 12.9 mm, 62 g (Frontier)
46 x 49 x 12.9 mm, 57 g (Classic)
42.3 x 49.8 x 11.4 mm, 47g

Naturally the Gear S2 and S2 Classic are expected to receive price cuts, making them more competitive options against many smartwatches that previously undercut them by anywhere from $50 to $100. Having the older models around also makes sense from a style perspective, with the Gear S3 Frontier and Classic going in a different direction from the more sporty Gear S2, and being notably larger than last year’s models.

Price and size both factor into keeping the Gear S2 available

Anyone with smaller wrists or just a simpler taste will still be far better off getting the Gear S2 in terms of fit, without being worried about missing out on features — and you can save some money in the process. At the same time for the extra money there’s a clear improvement in screen size and battery life on the Gear S3 Frontier and Classic, as well as some new designs that may speak to you.

With these five wearables all standing together, Samsung is going beyond the idea of just releasing one product and iterating it each year — with different update cadences and a diverse portfolio, it can hit an even wider market. That may just be the best shot it has to grow its market share in wearables.




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How do I gain an extra level or two in a hurry in Pokémon Go with your Lucky Egg?

As you start to reach Level 9 or higher in Pokémon Go, you’ll start to see a Lucky Egg or two in your Items list. These can also be bought from the Shop, but no matter how you get one you need to use them to their fullest possible extent. A Lucky Egg will double all of the XP you get for 30 minutes, so you want to spend that time wisely. There are a couple of strategies floating around for getting the most out of Lucky Egg, but this one seems to work best so far.

Before you use a Lucky Egg, make sure you have the following:

  • Common Pokémon to evolve
  • Lure Module or Incense
  • Lots of Poké Balls

Head to your favorite local place where there’s a Pokéstop and a Gym nearby one another, or a place with multiple Pokéstops in close proximity. When you get there, drop a Lure Module on a Pokéstop and activate your Lucky Egg. The countdown from 30:00 will begin immediately, so it’s time to get to work. Start by evolving all of your common Pokémon. Every Pidgey into a Pidgeotto, every Weedle into a Kakuna, and so on.

Every little evolution grants you the same XP, and now you’re getting double with the Lucky Egg. In between evolutions, capture everything brought to you by the Lure Module. All of your captures will also earn you double XP, and when combined with the evolutions it adds up quickly.

You want to keep this up until the Lucky Egg expires. That half hour can go by quickly if you’re well prepared, and if you follow this strategy you will gain significant chunks of XP in very little time.

For earlier levels this can mean making a several level jump, and when you get above level 20 it can be the difference between waiting for your next level and being ready to take on the nearby Gym. If you want to better plan your Lucky Egg evolution, your best bet is to check out PidgeyCalc. This site will tell you the exact number of evolutions you can do during a Lucky Egg based on what materials you currently have. Master the Lucky Egg, and you’ll be battling with the best in no time!




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With refreshes imminent, there’s little need to keep selling a $1300 18-month-old Chromebook.

After discontinuing the lower-end $999 model back in April, Google has taken the axe to the last remaining Chromebook Pixel model it was selling. The higher-end $1299 version of the Chromebook Pixel 2015 is no longer on sale from the Google Store or the handful of retailers that were still selling the prohibitively expensive laptop, and VentureBeat received a statement from Google indicating that it isn’t coming back.

At $1299, the latest model of the Chromebook Pixel wasn’t even a great purchase back when it was announced in February 2015 — but 18 months after it was first released it didn’t make sense for anyone to buy. Google’s doing everyone a favor by cutting off sales of such an old device, particularly since the volumes really couldn’t have been strong at that price or this late in its lifespan.

This Fall would be a great time to launch a new Chromebook Pixel

It also makes sense for the old Chromebook Pixel to gracefully fade away in order to potentially be replaced by a fresh model. As we rapidly approach the fourth quarter, a time in which Google typically unveils its latest hardware, it wouldn’t at all be surprising to see a refresh of the Chromebook Pixel line — be it at a high or more accessible price — alongside new phones and any other initiatives Google is currently working on.

Though the Pixel C tablet was an interesting little tangent late last year, we’re all interested to see what Google has in store for its Chromebook Pixel line now that Android apps are currently part of the Developer Channel of Chrome OS. Expectations are that we won’t have to wait long to hear for sure.




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The ‘Nexus’ brand is going away, but the biggest deal here is the large change in software experience that will accompany the new branding.

This year’s Google-branded Android phones will not use the “Nexus” name, Android Central understands, indicating a hard break from the past six years of flagship devices for the company. The widely expected HTC-built handsets — referred to as “Nexus” phones in recent online leaks — will instead come to market under a different brand name, according to several people familiar with Google’s plans.

The move would seem to draw a line under the long-running Nexus series, which began with the HTC-made Nexus One back in December 2009 and continued to the Nexus 6P and 5X in 2015. Throughout the life of the Nexus program, Google has partnered with the likes of Samsung, LG, HTC and Huawei to sell both phones and tablets showcasing its latest software. By contrast, these new phones are expected to put the “Google” brand front and center, eschewing the HTC name altogether. We have no specific info on which name will be used instead of Nexus, however.

AC understands that this year’s Google phones will feature additional software and a tweaked interface atop “vanilla” Android. This will notably differentiate the new models in terms of software experience from previous years’ Nexus phones, which featured a relatively barebones Android experience — and this goes hand-in-hand with the decision to not use the “Nexus” name for the phones. And as we look back at the progression of Nexus phones, this was inevitable — Google has kept adding closed-source apps, services and features to the Nexus line, moving away from the initial idea of what “Nexus” really meant starting as early as the Nexus S 4G.

These revelations are broadly in line with what’s been shown in recent leaks from Evan Blass and Android Police, which have published images of a new button layout, color scheme and Settings app that are far removed from what we see on Nougat on the Nexus 6P and 5X today.

The biggest shift in Google Android phones in the past half-decade

While we don’t know for certain that “Nexus” is completely dead, the fact that these phones are expected to release in the fall window traditionally occupied by Nexus devices strongly suggests that Google’s strategy for its own Android handsets has undergone a significant shift — not just in name but in software and experience. And it would also fit with remarks from Google CEO Sundar Pichai at the Code Conference back in June, indicating that the company would become become “more opinionated about the design of the phones.”

As for Google’s plans beyond smartphones, we haven’t heard anything about any Google-branded Android tablet plans, though one source was able to corroborate AP’s report that Google will release two own-branded Android Wear smartwatches later this year.

As we approach fall and the first Android Nougat maintenance release, it’s likely we’ll witness the biggest change in Google Android phones in the past half-decade. How it plays out could change our perception of Google’s entire hardware strategy.




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Your Sonos hardware is about to become a lot more useful.

Sonos has announced that the company will be opening up to Spotify Connect beginning in October, allowing you to control your music from within the Spotify app. This is a huge change from the way that Sonos has operated to date by pushing all music management through its own controller app. Using the Spotify app on both mobile and desktop, you’ll soon be able to select the songs you want to play, the speakers you want to play them through, without having to bounce between various apps.

You and your guests will now be able to open the Spotify app and change the music instead of having to download the Sonos controller.

Sonos says that more than 50% of its users are also using Spotify with Sonos hardware. With people having friends over and entertaining using their Sonos speakers, guests will now be able to open their Spotify app and change the music instead of having to download the Sonos controller and set it up. As part of these changes, a future update will allow you to no longer need to be on the same wireless network as your speakers to control it. You’ll be able to control what is playing, and how loud it plays, from a cellular connection as well.

In addition to opening Spotify Connect, Sonos has announced that its speakers will work with Amazon’s Alexa in 2017, allowing you to complete various tasks using just your voice. Alexa will be able to play the songs you want to hear on specific Sonos speakers in your setup, and if you hear something you aren’t familiar with you can ask Alexa what the song is. The integration is set to arrive in private beta later this year, and hit all users sometime in the new year. You will need to have an Amazon Echo, Tap or Dot in order to gain the Alexa functionality.

More: Sonos speakers buyers guide

With Sonos moving from a closed platform that required you to use its app to control your music, it makes it even more appealing to the masses. Competition to the platform and hardware has been moving in over the past few years, and with options like Google Cast (Chromecast) giving you the ease of managing your music from existing apps with a cheap hardware addition, Sonos needed to make some changes. Sonos will also join the Open Music Initiative, which could indicate that the company has plans to open the platform even further.

If you haven’t already started your Sonos system, now may be the time. Sonos offers small speakers, larger speakers, sound bars and subwoofers for all of your household musical needs.

Do these announcements excite you? Let us know what you think in the comments!




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The best way to celebrate Nougat isn’t by eating it — it’s by wearing it!

Android 7.0 Nougat is rolling out to the world right now, and if you’re running a Nexus phone, you may even have it (with or without our help)!

To celebrate its launch, we’ve designed a special edition, limited run t-shirt that shows the new confectionary in its best light: in the form of a “7″! The shirt (and matching hoodie) is inspired by the life-size pistachio-filled nougat bars that grace the front of the Google campus, a design (and name) that was unveiled after months of teasing.

The shirt is available in men’s and women’s styles, and in four colors (the hoodie in two colors) so you can find the Nougat that fits your life. And, of course, there’s a little AC logo on the back — because you have to represent.

Get one now — before they’re all gone!

See at Teespring




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What the heck is going on with this app called DT Ignite?

Right about now, half of us are ready to jump to the comments and start hollerin’ about DT Ignite, while the other half is scratching their heads wondering what we’re talking about.

We’re talking about a piece of carrier bloatware named DT Ignite. It’s an application written by Digital Turbine (thus the DT part) that’s used to pre-load other applications onto your phone. Some folks are having issues with a recent Verizon HTC 10 update and DT Ignite re-enabling itself or running after it’s been disabled, but the app itself is not new. And yes, it’s something you would never install yourself and is bloatware in any and every sense of the word, but it’s not the demon some make it out to be.

As mentioned, DT Ignite is used to install other apps onto your carrier-branded phone. While people tend to point fingers at Verizon when talking about it, DT Ignite is used by a good number of carriers — AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, US Cellular, America Movi, Deutsche Telecom, Vodaphone, Singtel, Cloudphone, MTS and more according to the Digital Turbine website.

Some folks seem sure that the technology is licensed to Sprint for the Sprint Zone app, but I can’t find any evidence either way. Folks using Rogers are also saying they see DT Ignite installed, but the company is not listed on DT’s page. Not all phones from these carriers have DT Ignite installed, but many — including the Galaxy S7 that most people are buying — do.

People tend to point fingers at Verizon when talking about DT Ignite, but is used by AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, US Cellular, and carriers in Europe and Canada

About those Verizon HTC 10 update bugs some people are saying they see — we’ve heard three different issues:

  • DT Ignite re-enables itself after the recent 1.82 update. This may be expected behavior if a new version of the app is installed. Just disable it again.
  • DT Ignite hides from the App Manager after the 1.82 update. It doesn’t — you have to show system apps in the App Manager to see it.
  • DT Ignite runs intermittently in the background even if disabled after the 1.82 update. Only a few people are seeing this bug. This isn’t normal behavior and more troubleshooting is needed. Or just reset your phone and let DT Ignite do its thing again, then start uninstalling and disabling.

Carriers use DT Ignite to install the apps they want you to see when you set up your phone for the first time or after it’s been factory reset. It also can spam your notifications with ads for suggested apps at any time. You also agreed to allow it to do both when you clicked accept without reading during setup. It doesn’t install any apps on its own after the initial setup, but it does run in the background.

Why it sucks: It installs apps you don’t want using your monthly data allotment to do it. It also spams your notification bar with ads for apps like Soda Crush.

Why it doesn’t suck: Soda Crush doesn’t have to be pre-installed to get you to know it’s there.

We agree that having an application that can install crap you don’t want is not a good thing. Not at all. But the alternative is worse. DT Ignite has one very redeeming property: using it is better than the old method of installing this crap into your system partition where you can’t remove it. And while we hate having it, we have to remember that we agreed to it being there.

The good news is that once it’s done doing its setup shenanigans, you can disable it. If you head to the App Manager section of your phone settings and allow it to show system apps (look in any menus or overflow areas) it’s right there where you can click the button to shut it down. And that’s the first thing you should do after you’re done uninstalling the apps it randomly dropped onto your phone.

We can wave pitchforks and bundle kindling as we rail against carriers and shoddy practices like this, but the fact remains that we keep buying phones with this sort of thing installed. If you just can’t deal with DT Ignite or any other bloatware app, you should stop buying carrier phones. If you want or need to buy carrier phones, you should accept the fact that it happens and will continue, then judiciously uninstall or disable them and stop worrying about it.




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The successor to the LG V10 is just around the corner. Here’s a primer on what we know so far.

In any other year, the LG V20 might have been just another Android phone. But the follow-up to the decent but underappreciated V10 has one unique trick up its sleeve — it’ll be the first handset to arrive with Android Nougat preloaded. And that turns what might’ve been just another Android “phablet” into a milestone device for the platform.

Ahead of the September launch event, let’s take a look at what we know so far about LG’s next big thing.

1. The first phone shipping with Android 7.0

Google’s Nexus devices are already starting to get Nougat, but the honor of first phone shipping with the new version of Android goes to the LG V20. LG — a company that’s proudly boasted of software “firsts” in the past — has announced that its device, not any future Nexus phone, will be the first with Android 7.0.

The V20 is even prominently promoting the V20 on its Android Nougat website, showing a holographic cutout of the phone.

That render also pours cold water on hopes that the LG might have switched to a more barebones UI atop Nougat; instead the screenshot shown on Google’s page looks almost exactly like the UI of the LG G5.

2. It’ll probably be modular

One of the more reliable leaks to surface thus far points to the V20 being LG’s second modular phone, following in the footsteps of the G5. While that handset didn’t achieve universal acclaim — our Phil Nickinson described it as “great cameras attached to a modular mess” — LG was likely already committed to a modular V20 by the time the first reviews emerged.

Expect a cross between a V10 and a G5.

CAD renders of the phone leaked by Steve Hemmerstoffer (a.k.a. @onleaks) show a G5-style camera protrusion, a secondary display and another release switch for plug-in modules.

If the renders are accurate — and Hemmerstoffer has a decent track record here — then we’re looking at a more angular handset than the G5, but with a similar dual-lens camera setup around the back, a larger display (estimated around the 5.6 to 5.7-inch mark) and secondary ticker display, along with a rear-mounted fingerprint scanner. But the real surprise? It’s looking increasingly likely that the V20 will be LG’s second modular phone.

The renders show a G5-style release switch on the bottom right side of the phone, and what appears to be a clean join between the bottom section of the phone and the body. It sure looks like we’re in for another LG phone with swappable modules.

MORE: LG V20 could be another modular phone

3. Big screen, secondary ticker display

Of course the whole point of the V20 is that it’s a big-screened counterpoint to the G5, and as such we’re expecting a similar 5.7-inch screen size. (And, we’d hope, a battery that at least matches its predecessor’s 3,000mAh cell.) The V10 was also the first mass-market phone to feature a secondary ticker display above the main screen which can be used for app shortcuts, notifications or cutesy messages. This feature got a mixed reception last year, but it looks like LG is undeterred, as leaked renders from Evan Blass reveal a similar setup in the V20 — alongside a relatively subdued dark grey chassis

It’s difficult to make out fine details in an image of this size, but it also appears that the V20 will lose its predecessor’s twin selfie cameras, instead most likely using two cameras around the back, like the G5.

MORE: LG V20 leak confirms secondary ticker display

4. Killer audio output

As LG continues to trickle out nuggets of information ahead of the V20′s launch, one of the more interesting revelations has centered on the phone’s audio capabilities. It’ll purportedly be the first smartphone with a 32-bit quad DAC (digital to analog converter) for improved high-resolution music playback. The component comes from audio firm ESS, which provided the 32-bit DAC for the V10.

LG is also talking up a continuation of the partnership with Bang & Olufsen, which created the B&O Play module for the G5. The company claims the V20 will “feature best-in-class audio functions developed in partnership with B&O PLAY.” It’s possible that means another plug-in module from B&O, though that’s not explicitly mentioned.

5. Launching September 6 in San Francisco

LG’s launch is sandwiched between IFA and the new iPhone.

LG will hold the V20′s launch event in San Francisco on Sept. 6, within days of the major announcements taking place at IFA 2016 in Berlin, and perilously close to Apple’s expected iPhone 7 launch event. That means we can expect the phone to be widely available in the U.S. — and likely LG’s home country of Korea as well.

However we’ve heard nothing official on any Euro release plans for the V20, and given that the V10 never got a widespread European launch, we’ll just have to wait and see what happens.




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What’s the best wireless charger for Galaxy Note 7? Any that are Fast Charge-enabled!

The Galaxy Note 7 has a big ol’ 3500 mAh battery, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s going to last you all day if you push the phone hard. That huge 5.7-inch screen and high-end specs take a lot to power and you might need to charge up throughout your day.

A wireless charger lets you remain free of annoying cables, so you can just pick up your phone, do what you need to do, and put it right back on the charger. There are a ton of wireless charging stands, but not all of them are compatible with Samsung’s Fast Charge.

We’ve rounded up the best of the best and all of these chargers are Fast Charge-enabled so that you don’t have to wait around all day for a fill-up.

Note: For all of these charging stands and pads (except Samsung), you must use the wall adapter that came with your Note 7. Otherwise, you’ll be getting regular Qi charging and not Fast Charge.

Samsung Fast Charge Qi wireless charging stand

The best route to go when looking at proprietary charging methods is the manufacturer itself and Samsung’s Fast Charge Qi wireless charging stand is the sure-fire way to true Fast Charging for your Note 7.

Samsung Fast Charge wireless charging stand review

This model is upright, so that you can keep an eye on your Note 7 and keep it on display without having to stop charging.

The Samsung Fast Charge stand even comes with a Fast Charge wall adapter, just in case you lost the one that came with your phone or would rather keep it by your bedside and have an extra to carry around with you.

See at Amazon

Seneo Fast Charge wireless stand

Seneo’s stand is another great option that lets you keep using your Note 7 without having to interrupt charging. It’s a larger charger (rhyme time!) than Samsung’s, but that just means more support for your Note 7 and less rocking back and forth if you’re using the S Pen or texting with your thumbs.

The nice part about this stand is the way the coils are placed – you can charge your Note 7 vertically or horizontally, so you can keep your movie or YouTube video while charging.

An excellent safety feature is the LED indicator which turns blue when the stand is receiving power and turns green when it begins charging your Note 7.

If you like your Note 7 to remain upright while charging so that you can remain productive, then check out Seneo’s wireless stand.

See at Amazon

Pleson wireless charger

Pleson’s wireless charger is your typical wireless charging fare in a stylish, clear package that has a sleep-friendly LED indicator that turns on to let you know your Note 7 is charging and turns off after 10 seconds.

The neatest thing about the LED indicator is that it tells you whether or not you’re charging normally or Fast Charging. Blue is normal and a green indicator means Fast Charge.

This charger also features surge and short circuit protection, so you won’t fry your big, beautiful, expensive phone.

If you like an unobtrusive wireless charging pad that allows you to make sure you’re fast charging, check out the Pleson wireless charger.

See at Amazon

Nekteck Fast Charge wireless charger

Nekteck’s Fast Charge wireless charging pad is your classic black wireless charging pad that reliably gets the job done.

It’s got a rubber ring on the bottom so that it isn’t slipping and sliding all over your desk or table and its LED indicator will let you know when your Note 7 is charging.

If you want a sharp-looking, reliable wireless charging pad, check out this one from Nekteck.

See at Amazon

Itian Qi charging stand

Itian’s upright charging isn’t just Fast-Charge compatible — it’s only for Samsung phones with Fast Charge capability. That’s probably a bit downside for some who may have other Qi phones now or in the future, and something to seriously keep in mind.

This is a 10W charger, so you’ll want to be somewhat careful with it, but don’t fear it. It does exactly what it’s supposed to: Fast Charge your Note 7. It will only work if you place your phone on it vertically; horizontal is a no-go.

If you want an exclusively Fast Charging wireless charging stand, then Itian’s stand is the only way to go.

See at Amazon

What keeps you charged?

Are you using an awesome Fast Charge wireless charger not mentioned here? Sound off in the comments below!




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