Yes, this is just what we all wanted.

As the U.S. carriers have increasingly similar services and devices available, they’re all looking for something to differentiate themselves with. Verizon thinks that a rewards program is what people have been craving, so it made one — called “Verizon Up.”

The premise of Verizon Up is pretty simple: pay your monthly bill, and as you spend, you earn credit that can be redeemed for rewards or experiences. Every $300 you spend on a Verizon bill (which shouldn’t take long), you get one credit — that’s enough for one reward. Simple enough. Each month Verizon will roll out six new rewards for you to choose from — the first round is four months of Apple Music, a 20% off voucher for JetBlue flights, and three months of HBO Now.

Most people would prefer Verizon just lowered their bill.

There are also other reward categories that you can take advantage of. You can get every-day discounts at Verizon partner retailers, pile up $10 vouchers toward your next device purchase and get access to popular event tickets. To start getting credit for your bill payments, and to check out the other small deals, you can sign up quickly from the My Verizon app.

This immediately seems like a straight shot at the ongoing T-Mobile Tuesdays offering, but with the distinct difference of the biggest deals being tied to continuing to pay Verizon. I’m sure there are plenty of people who would simply prefer their Verizon bill be lower rather than subsidizing all of these rewards … but then again, Verizon claims this is what we were asking for.

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It’s easy to get excited about something that’s a limited-run exclusive.

OnePlus has once again trotted out a limited edition color of its phone, this time going with a “Soft Gold” variant of the OnePlus 5. This fair-skinned version of the OnePlus 5 has all of the exact same specs and features — 6GB of RAM, 64GB storage, etc. — as the “Slate Grey” color, and even has the same price. But it also has the distinct advantage of being relatively exclusive; once OnePlus sells out of these soft gold OnePlus 5s, it won’t restock them, so you’re going to be part of an exclusive club.

Now a new color isn’t worth dropping your current OnePlus 5 to get, but if you were considering the phone and want something a bit less generic looking, here’s what you can expect from the soft gold model.

OnePlus uses the word “soft” to describe the finish, and it’s accurate. The gold is more of a champagne-like finish, and in bright light from some angles it almost looks silver (as you can see in some photos here). It definitely stands out from the black models, particularly with the shinier OnePlus logo on the back and shiny bevel where the metal frame meets the front. The antennas aren’t as surreptitious as the original dark colors, but they’re at least a beige color that attempts to fit in instead of plain white.

Here’s the one big problem: that soft gold anodization job on the back and sides of the phone is matched up with a white front surrounding the 5.5-inch display. Now this isn’t surprising as a vast majority of lighter-toned phones often go with a white front, but it does have a legitimate influence on how well you can view the screen in bright sunlight. A white-framed screen reflects more light than a black one, making it tougher to see the screen itself. It can also be rather distracting for your eyes — even if you’re turning on the OnePlus 5′s excellent Reading Mode for the display itself.

Whatever your initial thoughts are on the soft gold OnePlus 5, you’ll have to solidify them quickly if you’re planning on buying one. Sales kick off today, August 7, over at the OnePlus online store and this color was explicitly made in limited quantities with no expectation of new stock coming available. Sure that stock could last a month … but it could also last a few days. Make your decision early, lest you be disappointed later.

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 | Posted by | Categories: Android |

BLU phones return to Amazon following recent privacy concerns

After what BLU is calling a false alarm, products are back in stock and available at Amazon.

Hey BLU fans! After a false alarm, BLU devices are now back up for sale on Amazon. #BoldLikeUs #Amazon

— BLU Products (@BLU_Products) August 4, 2017

In a press release issued shortly after Amazon suspended sales, BLU stated “that there is absolutely no spyware or malware or secret software on BLU devices” and claimed reports to the contrary were false.

Soon after reports in 2016 surfaced of BLU’s privacy blunder, the company hired Kryptowire, who had originally found the issues, to investigate the situation further. After regular monitoring of the ADUPS service, Tom Karygiannis, Kryptowire vice president, is quoted as saying “the data collection is in line with BLU’s Privacy Policy, and does not constitute any wrong doing by BLU.”

It’s still unclear why Amazon thought the products needed to be pulled, but now they’re back and readily available.

The original story is below.

U.S.-based phone company BLU is back in hot water as Amazon has suspended sales of its phones citing concerns over the security of the software loaded on the phones. Amazon says the move is in response to a “potential security issue,” though it’s not immediately clear if it stems from the same security worry uncovered in apps pre-loaded on BLU phones late last year.

Most people probably don’t have any specific brand affinity for BLU’s phones, but it has made some of the cheapest Android devices available on Amazon, which has driven sales as it competes in the ultra-low-end segment. BLU has even partnered with Amazon for a “Prime Exclusive” device that was sold with lock screen ads at a steep discount — just $60. At the time of the previous security scare it was apparently determined BLU had things under control enough to keep the phones on sale — but now Amazon is pulling the plug 8 months later.

Amazon’s provided the following statement to CNET:

Because security and privacy of our customers is of the utmost importance, all BLU phone models have been made unavailable for purchase on until the issue is resolved.

The interesting part about this whole thing is how long it took Amazon to put a halt on sales, particularly if this is indeed a continuation of the same issue from November last year. With Amazon’s reputation on the line in that it’s selling co-branded Prime Exclusive versions of BLU phones, it’s surprising that it wouldn’t have at least temporarily paused sales while this was ongoing. Now, Amazon is now directing customers to BLU for inquiries on their phones, and continuing to sell other Prime Exclusive phones from the likes of Motorola, Nokia and Alcatel.

It isn’t likely that anyone will be too upset by not seeing a BLU phone available on Amazon alongside the many other Prime Exclusive devices, but for those who bought one throughout 2017 there are bigger questions as to how big this security hole is and how responsible BLU will be in addressing it.

Updated August 2017: BLU responds and phones once again available at Amazon.

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 | Posted by | Categories: Android |

Grab the 32GB Pixel with Daydream View for just $524.

With the Pixel 2 on the horizon, Google has started offering lucrative discounts on the Pixel and Pixel XL. The 32GB Pixel is on sale for $524, a $125 discount from its retail price. The Pixel XL, meanwhile, is seeing a $200 decrease in price, and is now available for just $569 for the 32GB variant and $669 for the 128GB model. Google is also throwing in a free Daydream View with every order — just add the VR headset to your cart along with either the Pixel or Pixel XL.

Here’s the breakdown of the new pricing:

  • 32GB Google Pixel – $524 – down from $649 ($125 off)
  • 128GB Google Pixel – $624 – down from $749 ($125 off)
  • 32GB Google Pixel XL – $569 – down from $769 ($200 off)
  • 128GB Google Pixel XL – $669 – down from $869 ($200 off)

Google mentions that the free Daydream View promotion is valid only until supplies last. If you’re interested in either the Pixel or Pixel XL, now is the time to act.

See at Google Store

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 | Posted by | Categories: Android |