This is the next step in ‘your phone is your computer,’ I suppose.

Samsung’s attempt at turning your phone into a viable desktop computing solution debuted with the Galaxy S8 and the DeX Station. The next evolution, according to the latest leaks from @evleaks, is a new “DeX Pad” dock that will launch with the Galaxy S9.

The new DeX Pad is designed to hold the phone flat, rather than standing it up somewhat awkwardly. Not only would this new flat design be more compact for carrying around while still accommodating various phone sizes, but it also opens up the possibilities of using the phone’s screen as a touch pad. With the phone’s screen held down on the desktop to be used for the cursor, you’d only have to connect a keyboard and not a mouse.

You still have USB-C power, two USB-A ports and HDMI out for a display, and there seems to be a cooling vent system still as well.

Of course this isn’t a unique idea. Different versions of the “phone is now your touchpad when docked” have been used with systems like Microsoft Continuum and Huawei’s Mate 10 EMUI desktop solution. Razer is testing the waters even further with its Project Linda laptop that uses a phone in the place of the touchpad.

Samsung Galaxy S9: Rumors, Specs, Release Date, and More!

Regardless, it could only help DeX adoption, which is something that definitely hasn’t caught on in the year or so since it was released. Even with the super-powerful Galaxy Note 8, launched just six months after DeX was first announced, the feature was hardly emphasized by Samsung. The use cases for having these docks and using your phone as a pseudo-desktop computer just haven’t caught on at any real scale.

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How to live your best accessory life.

Phone accessories are ubiquitous these days. Anyone who owns a smartphone in 2018 is likely to use a variety of accessories during an average day of using your phone: charging cables and bricks, wireless charging pads, Bluetooth headphones, or some dongle so you can use your old earbuds.

The annual release of new phones brings us an inevitable new wave of accessories. If you’re planning to upgrade to a new phone this year from a phone that still uses micro-USB (the Samsung Galaxy S7, for example), you’re about to make all those cables you’ve been collecting obsolete as you enter the realm for the sweet world of USB-C.

Being a smart smartphone owner isn’t about buying more or fewer accessories, but instead being smarter in the purchases you make to support your phone. Here are some tips to help you make smarter buying decisions for accessories that will work life easier.

Do an inventory check on what you have and your needs

Before you go and make some impulse purchases on Amazon, take a moment to inventory the stuff you have already and figure out what you still need. This is an especially important thing to do if it’s been a while since you last bought a new phone.

The essential accessories are ones that keep your phone charged throughout the day, and the easiest way to lose your phone charger is to only own one and bring it everywhere you go. It’s all too easy to accidentally leave it in a study hall, office space, or at a friend’s place.

There are three charging scenarios you need to consider: Life at home, in your car or during your commute, and at work or school. Ideally, you’ll want to keep the accessories that came with your phone at home, because if you ever plan on reselling your device it’s always best to have the original accessories in good shape. Travel accessories are important to keep in the bag you use on a daily basis, and might include a high-capacity power bank, a trusty charging cable, a good set of Bluetooth headphones or maybe even a Bluetooth speaker. If you drive, you’ll probably want a car mount for your daily commute, too And at work, depending on what line of business you’re in, you might want a wireless charging pad for your desk or a reliable wall brick and cable to keep in your locker.

Accessories are a personal preference and everyone’s needs will be different. But once you’ve gone through everything you own and have addressed the gaps you’d like to fill, the next smart move is ensuring you’re investing in quality accessories.

Don’t get stuck in the cheap accessory cycle

Story time.

When I got my first smartphone (an iPhone) a decade ago, it took me a good while to get the hang of this new era of being obsessed with your phone. I never remembered being so paranoid about my phone’s battery life with a flip phone, but suddenly with my first phone with a touchscreen, I absolutely needed to have my charging stuff with me at all times.

Once you fall into the habit of buying cheap cables, the sunk cost fallacy starts to creep in.

Making things worse was the fact that I was a clumsy kid who was really bad at keeping track of my things, and a phone charger was the easiest thing to lose. If I wasn’t begging to borrow a friend’s charger, I was bouncing out to buy a cheap-o replacement from 7-11 or Walmart. Over the years later, I’ve cycled through small nest-eggs of replacement cables and earbuds that I’ve bought from convenience stores, airports, and cheaply in bulk off of Amazon.

Once you fall into the habit of buying cheap cables, the sunk cost fallacy starts to creep in: you bought the first cable for $5 because you didn’t want to put out for a name brand one for $20. You knew it was cheap and replaceable… and now it needs to be replaced — might as well try save money and replace it with another cheap one, right?

In the same way you’re likely to take better care of a brand new $900 phone then the old phones you keep stashed in a drawer, I think it’s easy for us to take better care of the accessories that come with our phones and lump all third-party accessories as lesser-than — because we’ve all probably dealt with a crappy product. I propose that we all take better care of our phone accessories, which starts with better planning and spending a bit more on something reliable rather than buying cheap accessories as stop-gap measures.

We need to collectively do a better job at cutting down on e-waste

I keep coming back to charging accessories as my primary example here, but it goes the same for any other accessories we buy — whether it’s headphones, speakers, or a battery pack. There is so many options out there at every price point and everyone loves a good deal — but the old adage “you get what you pay for” always rings true when buying tech.

Living in a northern climate, charging cables I leave in my car frequently become extremely brittle due to the winter cold. When the cheap cables would inevitably break, I’d throw them away and go buy another cheap cable. It wasn’t until I got my hands on a more rugged cable by Ventev that the cycle stopped. Making one small change has made a significant difference for an essential accessory that I now don’t foresee needing to replace for years.

There’s a lot of talk about planned obsolescence in the smartphone market, but there doesn’t seem to be as much focus on cheap accessories that seem exclusively designed to be almost disposable. While companies like Apple or Samsung talk highly about responsible device recycling programs, and some wireless carriers mitigate e-waste with their own disposal services, we all can do our part in addressing the global issue of electronic waste by acting as more sensible and responsible consumers.

What do you think?

What are some accessories you’d recommend that have never let you down? Are you concerned about the growing issue of e-waste? Drop us a line in the comments.

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Take your VR experience with your everywhere, but do you really need your phone to do it?

Oculus and Samsung have been working together for years on a portable, powerful VR solution using some of the most popular phones on the planet. In doing so, the Gear VR has become one of the most vibrant and active VR headsets available today. For all of its strengths, it still requires you use your phone and drain your battery to get the best experience. With everything it has learned about mobile computing and VR experiences, Oculus is prepared to offer an alternative to the phone-powered portable VR headset. It’s called Oculus Go, and it’s coming later this year at a price aimed to make people question using the Gear VR or using this new headset.

This isn’t an easy decision to make, especially if you are already a part of the Gear VR ecosystem, but here’s what you can expect when looking at these headsets side-by-side.

Hardware Compared

Oculus Go is made to be a “standalone” VR headset. That means, instead of sticking a phone into a slot to act as the brain, the computer and display and motion hardware is baked right in to the headset. The only thing that computer ever has to do is show you VR experiences, but it has to do so very well. With that in mind, here’s how these headsets compare on paper.

Feature Oculus Go Gear VR
Field of View 90 degrees 101 degrees
Processor Snapdragon 821 Depends on phone
Memory 4GB RAM 4GB RAM
Audio Internal speakers, 3.5mm headphone jack Phone speaker, 3.5mm headphone jack
Storage 32GB, 64GB 64GB onboard storage, microSD slot
Battery Unknown Depends on phone
Display LCD display (2560×1440) AMOLED (2560×1440)
Sensors 3DoF Gyroscope, Accelerometer, Magnetometer 3DoF Gyroscope, Accelerometer, Magnetometer
Controller 3Dof Controller 3DoF Controller
Network WiFi WiFi, Cellular

A couple of things stick out right away. First, it’s very unlikely a Gear VR will ever be able to offer the kind of long-term VR experience you can get from an Oculus Go with its dedicated battery. Even if you were interested in totally draining a Note 8, it’s not going to last as long as this headset will. The built-in speakers in the Oculus Go are going to sound much nicer than your phone speakers as well, both because the Oculus Go speakers are designed for spatial audio and because the Samsung phone in the Gear VR is farther from your ears. That having been said, if you plan to use headphones most of the time the audio experiences will likely be very similar.

The other particulary important detail when comparing these two headsets is the Field of View (FoV) of the lenses. Samsung has been slowly increasing the FoV on the Gear VR until it has reached the current 101-degree measurement, which is close to what you get with a lot of desktop-quality VR experiences. Meanwhile, the Oculus Go is settling for a smaller 90-degree FoV. This means less of your vision will be filled with the virtual experience you are watching, and potentially also offer more places for incoming light to reflect.

It’s not surprising these headsets look and feel so similar on the outside given how closely Samsung and Oculus have worked together, but it’s clear these experiences will not be at all the same when you go to actually use the headsets.

Similar Software

Oculus maintains all of the software for the Gear VR. When you install the Gear VR software on your phone, it’s the Oculus Store and Oculus Runtime you are installing. You can’t even use your Samsung payment tools to buy VR apps, it all goes through the Oculus services. Samsung makes a couple of great apps for the Gear VR, but this experience is largely made and maintained by Oculus. With Oculus Go, the company is moving from controlling all of the software on an OS made by another company to controlling the entire experience from top to bottom. There shouldn’t be a ton of differences between the Oculus Go and the Gear VR when it comes to software, but it turns out there will be some important initial limitations.

At launch, Samsung’s Gear VR will continue to have significantly more apps than Oculus Go. Oculus says it should be trivially easy for Gear VR developers to port apps to the Oculus Go, but that doesn’t mean every developer is going to want to. From retail packaging, we’ve already seen a number of popular VR experiences will be available on Oculus Go at launch, but very little so far indicates the total number of apps will be anywhere near what the Gear VR currently has available.

Considering how similar these headsets are, it wouldn’t be surprising to see this change quickly. With the same basic head tracking and motion control systems in both headsets, as long as Oculus can demonstrate people are actually buying this headset there’s little reason for developers to only support the one platform.

Which should you buy?

As similar as these headsets are, there’s some clear strengths and weaknesses here. Oculud Go is made to be portable without killing your phone battery. You can take a Gear VR with you anywhere you can take an Oculus Go, but unless you also carry around a portable battery it’s not usually great to use the Gear VR when not at home. Oculus Go, on the other hand, will be just as great at home as it would be in a plane or on a train, and as long as the same quality apps and games from the Gear VR store make it to the Oculus Go quickly you’ll be able to really have some fun here.

Naturally, cost is an issue. Many Gear VR owners got their headset for free when they upgraded to their Samsung phone, and even those who bought the headset typically didn’t spend more than $100 for the current kits. Oculus Go is going to be priced at $199 at launch, and while that is super cheap compared to every other VR headset out there it’s still $199 more than most folks paid for a Gear VR. Whether that upgrade ends up being worth it will be entirely up to Oculus.

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The HTC U11+ isn’t new by any means, but the smartphone hasn’t been widely available outside of Taiwan, China and a few markets in Europe. HTC is changing that today by putting the phone up or sale in India. HTC is … Read More

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Although we don’t usually think of them like this, smartphones are in fact pocket-sized computers. Today’s leading phone models come with eight CPU cores, tons of RAM and storage space, and pretty much everything else a traditional computer has except … Read More

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Brought to you by the lawyers behind the Pixel 2 XL display lawsuit.

Lawsuits aren’t uncommon occurrences in the technology industry. Someone spends money on a phone, something goes wrong, and they hit up their lawyers to issue a class-action suit against the company rather than contacting customer support. In the latest entry of this series, Google is being sued over microphone defects for the original Pixel and Pixel XL.

Shortly after the Pixel’s launch in 2016, there were a few complaints from customers about people not being able to hear them during phone calls. Google eventually responded to disgruntled customers in March of 2017, saying that the subpar microphone performance was attributed to “a hairline crack in the solder connection on the audio codec.”

The firm behind the suit is Girard Gibbs LLP, and if that name sounds familiar, that’s because it’s the same firm responsible for the lawsuit regarding the Pixel 2 XL’s display.

While there’s certainly merit to some of the lawsuits that pop up, it’s worth noting that neither of the named plaintiffs in this case actually sent in their phones to Google to be repaired. Even so, Girard Gibbs claims that replacement phones Google issued still had problems with their microphones. Who knows.

I personally think this particular case is a bit silly, but I’d like to get your input on this. Do you think this is a mere cash-grab or has Google had this coming? Sound off in the comments below.

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Samsung is taking the fight to OnePlus in the affordable flagship segment.

Over the last three years, OnePlus has managed to carve out a niche for itself in the smartphone segment by offering top-of-the-line hardware for several hundred dollars less than the competition. This model proved to be incredibly popular, and we now have a wide range of options if you’re in the market for a feature-rich device that doesn’t break the bank. The culmination of those efforts is the OnePlus 5T, which is the device to beat in the $500 segment.

Samsung was trying to achieve a similar result with the Galaxy A series. Aimed at a younger audience, phones in the Galaxy A series offered features previously limited to the flagship Galaxy S lineup at a more affordable price point. Previous efforts in this space have been rather lacklustre, but with the Galaxy A8+ Samsung finally got its act together.

The A8+ brings the Infinity Display design language to the mid-range price bracket, and is the first Samsung device to feature dual front cameras. It’s clear that Samsung put a lot of thought into the features and the pricing, with the phone costing exactly the same as the OnePlus 5T in India, one of the A8+’s launch markets. With the phone set to make its global debut in the coming months, it’s time to see if it can mount a challenge to the OnePlus 5T.

Where both are evenly matched

Previous devices in the Galaxy A series featured underwhelming hardware, but that’s no longer the case with the Galaxy A8+. Simply put, the A8+ is Samsung’s best showing in this price bracket, and shows that the manufacturer is finally taking the mid-range segment seriously. To that effect, the A8+ comes with 6GB of RAM and 64GB of storage, as well as an all-new Exynos 7885 Octa chipset.

The A8+ needs to field decent hardware to even be counted, and that’s because of what the OnePlus 5T is packing. Offering 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage and powered by the Snapdragon 835, the OnePlus 5T is the phone to beat in this segment. Of course, hardware is just one aspect of a device, and increasingly it’s the software that affects the day-to-day performance. But more on that later.

Here’s how both devices match up on the hardware front:

Category Samsung Galaxy A8+ OnePlus 5T
Operating System Android 7.1.1 Nougat Android 7.1.1 Nougat
Display 6.0-inch 18.5:9 Super AMOLED display
2220 x 1080, 411PPI pixel density
Gorilla Glass
6.01-inch 18:9 Optic AMOLED display
2160 x 1080, 401PPI pixel density
Gorilla Glass 5
Chipset Octa-core Exynos 7885 Octa
Two 2.2GHz Cortex A73 cores, six 1.6GHz Cortex A53 cores
Octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 835
Four Kryo 280 cores at 2.45GHz
Four Kryo 280 cores at 1.90GHz
GPU Mali-G71 Adreno 540
Storage 32GB/64GB 64GB/128GB
Expandable Yes (dedicated microSD slot) No
Battery 3500mAh 3300mAh
Charging USB-C USB-C
Dash Charge
Water resistance IP68 No
Rear Camera 16MP, f/1.7, PDAF, auto HDR
1080p at 30fps
16MP f1.7 + 20MP f1.7, PDAF
4K at 30fps
Front Camera 16MP + 8MP (f1.9) with Live Focus
1080p video
16MP f2.0, EIS
1080p video
Connectivity Wi-Fi ac, Bluetooth 5.0, FM radio
GPS, GLONASS, BeiDou, NFC, Samsung Pay
Wi-Fi ac, dual band, 2×2 MIMO
Bluetooth 5.0, aptX HD
Security One-touch fingerprint sensor (back) One-touch fingerprint sensor (back)
SIM Dual Nano SIM Dual Nano SIM
Dimensions 159.9 x 75.7 x 8.3mm 156.1 x 75 x 7.3mm
Weight 191g 162g
Colors Black, Gold, Blue Midnight Black, Sandstone White, Lava Red

Both the A8+ and 5T feature Samsung AMOLED panels, so it shouldn’t be too surprising that they’re evenly matched in this area. The 5T has more customization options in that you can set sRGB or DCI-P3 color profiles, and there’s a Reading Mode that turns the panel monochrome.

Both devices are on an equal footing when it comes to the cameras as well. Daylight shots on the 5T are more natural and true to life, but the A8+ has a slight edge when it comes to low-light conditions.

The 5T does a better job of lighting up a scene in low-light shots, but there’s far too much noise and the images look washed out. And the two cameras at the front of the A8+ give it a distinct edge when taking selfies.

Galaxy A8+ to the left, OnePlus 5T to the right

What the OnePlus 5T does better

The OnePlus 5T absolutely destroys the Galaxy A8+ when it comes to the overall software experience. OnePlus has been steadily optimizing OxygenOS over the course of the last year, and the added grunt of the Snapdragon 835 chipset means the 5T is in a league of its own in terms of performance.

And the fact that the device manages to do this while costing half as much as a Pixel 2 XL is a testament to OnePlus’ software optimization efforts. My review unit picked up the Android 8.0 Oreo update this week, and if you care about updates at all, you’ll want to go with the OnePlus 5T.

OnePlus 5T destroys the Galaxy A8+ when it comes to the software experience.

Samsung missed out on an easy opportunity to claim a win in this area, as the A8+ comes with Android 7.1.1 Nougat out of the box. With the Galaxy S8 series and the Note 8 taking the priority when it comes to updates, it’s going to be a long wait before the A8+ makes the switch to Oreo.

The OnePlus 5T also wins out on the design front. At 7.3mm, the 5T is a whole millimeter thinner than the Galaxy A8+, and the Lava Red color option is downright gorgeous. The rounded edges, subtly curving back and 2.5D curved glass up front makes it a delight to use the 5T.

As for the A8+, the device has more similarities with the Pixel 2 XL or the LG G6 than the Galaxy S8+ from a design standpoint.

The flat display means you don’t have to worry about accidental touches, but the overall design of the A8+ leaves a lot to be desired. And considering it packs a 3500mAh battery — the same as the S8+ — there’s no reason for it to be so bulky. At 191g, it’s one of the heaviest phones I’ve used in a while, and is just unwieldy.

The 5T also has a more sensible location for the fingerprint sensor. The A8+ has the sensor located just underneath the camera module — a welcome change from the Note 8 — but it’s still higher up than where my index finger usually rests at the back.

I’m also not a fan of the speaker placement on the Galaxy A8+. It’s placed just above the power button on the right hand side of the device, and the position isn’t ideal if you do a lot of video calling or use the hands-free mode a lot.

You’re not going to find any issues with battery life on either device, but if you do need to top up in the middle of the day, the OnePlus 5T is a better choice thanks to Dash Charge. You easily get a few hours’ worth of usage from a 15-minute charge, and the phone itself doesn’t heat up while charging.

What the Galaxy A8+ does better

For its part, the Galaxy A8+ also has a few features that give it a leg up over the OnePlus 5T. However, these aren’t as easily quantifiable as benchmark figures. With the A8+ essentially acting as a device that offers flagship-class features, you get Samsung Pay and IP68 dust and water resistance.

Samsung Pay is the feature I miss the most when using a non-Samsung device.

Samsung Pay may not seem like that big a deal, but that’s the feature I miss the most when switching away from a Samsung device. If you’re like me and make a lot of purchases at retail stores, Samsung Pay is incredibly convenient and a lot of fun to use. What sets it apart is its ability to work with NFC-enabled readers as well as older machines via MST (Magnetic Secure Transmission).

The same goes for water resistance. If your OnePlus 5T falls into a pool of water, you’re looking at anywhere between $100 to $150 to get it fixed. In the case of the Galaxy A8+, you can just fish it out of the water and carry on with your day.

Which should you buy? OnePlus 5T

At the end of the day, it all comes down to what you’re looking for in a device. The Galaxy A8+ is targeted at a mainstream audience, and while it may not have the sheer performance of the OnePlus 5T, you do get a decent camera, design that’s styled after Samsung’s flagships, and water resistance.

However, the fact that the phone comes with Android 7.1.1 Nougat makes it a non-starter. For now, the OnePlus 5T is still the device to beat.

See at OnePlus

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