See what phones the people write about phones for a living are using.

A perk of working for Android Central is that you get to use a lot of different phones throughout the year. Of course, we all have a favorite that we keep going back to or never want to switch away from. In that respect, we’re just regular smartphone users like everyone else!

With 2017 almost half finished, see which phones the AC staff is using and why. Then let us all know which phone does it for you in the comments!

Russell Holly

The smaller Galaxy S8 is for me, because I don’t need that extra tall mess in my life right now.

I’m on the Galaxy S8 right now. The smaller one, since I don’t need that extra tall mess in my life right now. The battery life is exactly what I need, the camera is exceptional, and while I’m not a big fan of disabling all the extra Samsung crud to get the experience I want, I found that process less tedious this time around. I love that I have wireless charging again, and once I found a “case” I liked for the phone it became the phone I reached for most often.

It’s also a practical choice for work right now. The Galaxy S8 is soon to be the only Android phone with Gear VR and Daydream support, which means I can enjoy both and share those experiences with others. But if I’m honest, it’s mostly because of the other stuff.

Jen Karner

I kinda fell in love with my Pixel XL back in December, and it’s still my phone for the time being. Although, to be fair, the Samsung Galaxy S8 is definitely making me think that I might want to switch soon. The Pixel takes care of me in all the right ways, namely giving me access to Daydream, along with a great camera, and plenty of room for apps and games.

I’ve been in love with the Pixel XL since December.

I haven’t had any issues with my Pixel XL, and so far it hasn’t let me down. I take most of my photos using my phone so having a device with an excellent camera is always on my mind. The big pull for me is really being able to use Daydream View with it. I always want to be able to access the best in VR, and for the most part, my Pixel delivers on that. Until the Galaxy S8 gets that feature, too.

Ara Wagoner

Galaxy S8 and HTC 10 are how I roll.

I’d love to say that the Samsung Galaxy S8 is my daily driver right now… but I can’t put my AT&T SIM card in it, so I am dual-dailying right now. I keep the S8 for apps, music, gaming, and pretty much everything I do that doesn’t require my personal SIM, which is in my HTC 10. I switched from the Pixel back to the HTC 10 for some irking little reasons, but now that there’s an OTA beta for O out, I might stick my SIM back in there and dual-daily the Pixel and S8 so that I can play around with that.

I’ve loved the S8 so far, I’m even starting to get used to that stupid fingerprint scanner placement. My biggest issue with the phone so far are the weird bugs it’s been having with Google Play Music, but I don’t hold that against the phone… yet. Battery life has been steady, BT and call audio has been consistent, the camera is excellent. If I could stick my SIM card in it, it’d be the only phone I carry. And until it is, I’m gonna carry it around anyway.

Daniel Bader


I’m actually using a super secret phone that I won’t be able to talk about until next week, but I really like it and I’m sure you will, too. Tease over.

Right before I switched, though, I was using the Galaxy S8+, which took over from the Galaxy S8 a few weeks back (yes, I have a problem). There are a few reasons I prefer the Plus, battery life aside: it feels like a small tablet, which means I have no issues at all watching TV shows, movies, and YouTube videos on the screen while traveling. I haven’t touched a tablet since I began using it.

The Galaxy S8 does everything better than the competition.

Ultimately, though, after all the nitpicking and minor criticisms over fingerprint reader placement and usability concerns with the curved glass, the Galaxy S8+ is just a competent smartphone. It does most everything well, better than the competition. I tried returning to the LG G6 for a few days after using the S8+ and just couldn’t; it felt somehow incomplete and flawed.

I am not impressed that the Galaxy S8 series shipped with Android 7.0, though: I’d have liked to see 7.1.1 at launch. And I don’t think the camera is quite as good as it could have been given Samsung’s previous year-over-year improvements. But every time I stop reviewing it and start using it, I realize how much I enjoy using the Galaxy S8+, and that’s a pretty steep hill to climb for a guy that uses dozens of phones every year.

Andrew Martonik

I’ve been using the HTC U11 since Google I/O last week. It’s an “amazing silver” model that is, unfortunately, a Taiwanese review unit (network bands don’t all line up with the U.S.), but despite a couple missing radio bands I’ve been sticking with it anyway.

The HTC U11 nails all the basics and is fast.

After not really caring for the U Ultra earlier this year, I’m super happy with the U11 right now. The phone is beautiful and built with typical HTC solidity, and the company just continues to nail the basics like its build quality, buttons, haptics, fingerprint sensor, and speakers (no, I won’t hear any more crying over not having the “old” BoomSound). The software is fast and responsive in a way that evokes memories of using the Pixel XL. And it turns out the camera is really good too.

The U Ultra’s design feels a bit last-gen set next to the Galaxy S8 and LG G6, but that’s not enough to put me off of a phone that’s otherwise really great in daily use. I’ll be sticking with it for a while.

Marc Lagace

I made the switch to the Galaxy S8 from the Pixel because new shiny things are awesome — though I’m tempted to switch back to the Google Pixel to check out the Android O beta. Samsung has sure made it tough to switch back to anything else, though, because the Galaxy S8 is the real deal. It’s blazing fast, feels great to hold and the infinity display lives up to the hype.

The Galaxy S8 is the real deal.

Really, the only thing that’s bothering me about using the Galaxy S8 is Bixby. I’d much prefer to use the superior Google Assistant, but I keep hitting the Bixby button on accident. I know there are apps and methods to remap the button, and Google Assistant is still accessible on the GS8, but I really fell in love with Google Assistant on the Pixel and really appreciate how Google built the Pixel’s software around it.

Harish Jonnalagadda

I switched to the Xiaomi Mi 6 earlier this month, and I’m liking it a lot. The phone is a huge improvement over the Mi 5 in several areas, and the murdered-out black color option, in particular, looks great. With the Indian variant of the Galaxy S8 powered by the Exynos 8895, the Mi 6 is the first phone I’ve used that runs the Snapdragon 835. It definitely runs smoother than both the Mi 5 and Mi 5s, and the 128GB of storage gives me more than enough room to install all the apps I need.

My murdered-out black Xiaomi Mi 6 is my go to.

The dual camera setup is a welcome addition, but more importantly, the main 12MP camera is leagues better than the Mi 5. The software situation has also been improved, with the phone running an MIUI 8 build atop Android 7.1.1 Nougat. The main drawback with the Mi 6 is that it doesn’t have a 3.5mm jack, but I recently picked up a Sony MDR-1000X, so its omission doesn’t annoy me as much as it used to.

Florence Ion

I still haven’t switched over from the Pixel XL, but why bother? This phone has carried me through many a trying time, as well many an International trip. This thing is the second-most reliable smartphone I’ve ever carried — the first was the HTC Incredible, which lasted me a whopping three years of use. How apropos, then, that the manufacturing brains behind the Pixel XL is HTC.

The Pixel XL is ready to go when I am.

Anyway, I know I’m kind of boring in my smartphone usage these days, but I’ve spent the last couple of years constantly switching back and forth between devices. And it’s true that there are now more worthy Android-powered smartphones than ever, but when it comes to daily life, I just need something that’s always ready to go when I am. Let’s hope that Google’s next smartphone release is just as reliable after eight months with it.

Jerry Hildenbrand

I’m using the BlackBerry KEYone. But because my “real” phone number is attached to Project Fi, I also keep my Pixel around. I’m just too busy lazy to port the number out and sign up for a new Fi number. That’s like a lot of hassle and I’d have to do it because some of my people still (gasp) make phone calls. That’s the number they have. It’s cool tho, the Pixel is a really damn good phone too. #firstworldproblems

You had me at QWERTY.

I just really dig everything the KEYone has to offer. Disable all the BlackBerry stuff (I just don’t use it and hate to try new things) and it’s close enough to plain-jane Android that I know where everything is and there’s nothing getting in my way that I don’t want. My needs in a phone are simple, yet I’m pretty picky and they have to be met: The phone has to have the latest software patch and not do secret things in the background that connect to some server from the company that made it. That’s hard to find, unfortunately, but the KEYone does it.

And that keyboard. I’m a sucker for a good keyboard.

Your turn

You probably have a phone in your hand reading this! Jump into the comments and let us all know which one, and why you love it.

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 | Posted by | Categories: Android |

Updated May 2017: The Samsung Gear 360 is finally available to purchase, making it our best 360-degree camera.

Best overall

Samsung Gear 360

See at Amazon

Not only is Samsung’s latest 360-degree camera smaller, thinner, and lighter than it’s predecessor, but it’s also cheaper and faster! The Samsung Gear 360 is one of the easiest 360-degree cameras to use, making it possible for you to either quickly snap a photo with friends while holding it or remotely access the camera from an app loaded up with advanced features for capturing the best image.

Not only can you grab 15-megapixel spheres with lots of detail, but the video mode will capture in 4K at 30FPS with no problem. The bottom mount makes it easy to stick the camera on just about anything, and the unique microphone array in the camera makes capturing sound from every direction very easy.

Bottom line: For ease of use, price, and camera features the Gear 360 is the best consumer 360-degree camera you can buy.

One more thing: This camera also works well with the iPhone!

Why the Samsung Gear 360 is the best

What it really comes down to with this camera is convenience and price. The Gear 360 software is noticeably easier to use than just about all of the other camera apps out there. You have quick access to more features, editing images and video is easier, and there’s a lot that can be done with exposure and white balance settings to make sure you get the perfect shot. Transferring images in large batches to your phone is easy as well and noticeably faster than most cameras.

As for price, the Gear 360 launched at nearly one third the price of the original 360-degree camera Samsung released last year. That’s a considerable markdown when you consider how expensive a lot of these cameras are, and even though this camera doesn’t have the highest megapixel count, the photos you get are fantastic.

Samsung’s motivation for making this camera easy to get and easier to use is simple: more people making videos that can be enjoyed inside the Samsung Gear VR headset is great for that ecosystem. To that end, the Gear 360 is one of the best 360-degree camera experiences you can get today.

Best runner-up

Ricoh Theta S

See at Amazon

Ricoh has been making the best 360-degree cameras longer than most, and for this experience it all comes down to the stitching. The physical design of this camera puts the two sensors very close together, which makes it so the Ricoh software can stitch the two pieces together into the closest thing to a flawless sphere you can get from a consumer camera today. It’s a fantastic camera, though its height makes using it for video when mounted to a moving surface a little less convenient.

Bottom line: This camera will give you some amazing pictures and is a lot of fun to use.

Best Value

Insta360 Air

See at Amazon

It may not have the highest resolution or the most convenient software, but Insta360 has two incredible features with the Air camera. First, it’s the only USB-C 360-degree camera. This means it plugs directly into your phone with no need to ever worry about battery life or image transfer speeds. You just plug the camera in, flip your phone upside-down, and start shooting.

Second, this camera is the least expensive 360-degree camera worth buying by a long shot. The small profile and quick-launch software makes it convenient, but the price (around $130) really makes getting into 360-degree photography a lot more manageable for a lot of people.

Bottom line: If you want to give 360-degree photography a try, this is where you start.


There are a lot of great reasons to start exploring 360-degree photography. If you’re looking for the best camera to really dive in and start having fun, get the Gear 360 from Samsung. If you’re interested in the best sphere you can capture and love playing with settings to get the perfect shot, the Ricoh Theta S is what you want. If you’re mostly looking to play and don’t want to spend a bunch of money, get the Insta360 Air.

Best overall

Samsung Gear 360

See at Amazon

Not only is Samsung’s latest 360-degree camera smaller, thinner, and lighter than it’s predecessor, but it’s also cheaper and faster! The Samsung Gear 360 is one of the easiest 360-degree cameras to use, making it possible for you to either quickly snap a photo with friends while holding it or remotely accessing the camera from an app loaded up with advanced features for capturing the best image.

Not only can you grab 15MP spheres with lots of detail, but the video mode will capture in 4K at 30FPS with no problem. The bottom mount makes it easy to stick the camera on just about anything, and the unique microphone array in the camera makes capturing sound from every direction very easy.

Bottom line: For ease of use, price, and camera features the Gear 360 is the best consumer 360-degree camera you can buy.

One more thing: This camera also works well on the iPhone!

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Pick the experience that best suits your needs.

Don’t let this secret slip out, but there’s actually no such thing as “the best VR headset” or “the best AR headset” right now! There are new things in hardware and software being built almost every week, and while it’s easy to look at the newest or shiniest thing and slap a blue ribbon on it there’s a lot more going on.

At the same time, there are a lot of folks eager to try VR or AR and want to know where to best spend money, and we’re here to help. This guide contains all of the most compelling strengths for each of the headsets you can buy today, as well as links to our ultimate guide for getting the most out of those experiences.

Read more at VR Heads!

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 | Posted by | Categories: Android |

I just want to send someone a gift card…and on Google Play, that just got a lot harder.

We’ve talked about how Google was missing the ability to gift content before, and there’s a little good news on that front: you can now gift books through Google Play. Now there’s a bit of bad news, too: you can’t buy Google Play gift cards on the Google Play app anymore. If you want to add credit to your Google Play balance, you’ll need to go hunt one down at a brick and mortar store or answer some Google Opinion Rewards.

The ability to buy gift cards on Google Play’s app and website has vanished recently, followed shortly by an update of Google Play Support to show that you can’t buy the gift cards digitally anymore, you have to buy a physical card, and that you can gift Google Play Books and Google Play Music All Access. We’re not sure what prompted the change, but for parents who top off their kids’ Google Play accounts through gift cards or those who found Google Play credit to be an easy last-minute gift, you’re going to want to head to a retailer that stocks them and grab a few.

So now, you now have to use three different methods to gift three different kinds of Google Play content:

  • To give Google Play credit, you have to go to a store that sells the physical gift cards.
  • To give a Google Play Book, you have to find the book on the Google Play site or app and tap Gift.
  • To give a Google Play Music All Access subscription, you have to open the Google Play Music app, open Settings and tap Send gift.

And here is what we now cannot gift through Google Play:

  • Movies and TV shows
  • Music albums and individual songs
  • Magazine and newspaper subscriptions
  • Apps and games

We can only hope that gifting books is the test balloon before being rolled out to the rest of the content in the Google Play Store, but that’s anyone’s guess, at this rate. What isn’t a guess is how much of a pain removing digital gift cards is going to be.

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 | Posted by | Categories: Android |

The long-awaited HTC U11 is finally here! While Samsung, LG and Huawei managed to get their phones on the market over a month ago, HTC took its time with the U11 (likely due to shortages of the Snapdragon 835 chip … Read More

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If you have the gift for thrift and are passionate about finding innovative ways to save and make money, this is the opportunity you’ve been waiting for.

You’ve likely noticed the Thrifter name accompanying tech deals content published on Android Central this year, but we haven’t really paused to talk about what Thrifter is and where it’s going. To be frank, that’s because we weren’t ready to. Now we are and we’re super excited to start spreading the word as we get closer to our official launch.

While Thrifter has primarily been in the pre-alpha stage covering daily tech deals to date, our ambition and vision for Thrifter is much, much grander. Behind the scenes we’ve been building a superstar team, attracting top talent from deals and recommendation sites like The Wirecutter and 9to5Toys. Our product and brand teams have also been hustling, and we’ll soon pull the wraps off our new brand and website (of course Thrifter will also live on all the social media platforms you frequent).

The Thrifter mission is simple. We think wasting money is stupid and we want to make Thrifter the resource and community you trust when it comes to financial matters in your daily life or business. We also want to make the notion of being thrifty not suck. It’s not about being dirt cheap and never spending money – it’s about making sure when you do spend money that your hard-earned dollars are stretching as far they can. It’s about living a sensible and awesome life. To that, we also want Thrifter to be as fun as it is educational. After all, being smart with your money should be celebrated!

Join The Team!

We’re looking for freelancers and volunteers to join the growing Thrifter team. Various positions are available across a number of verticals – if you have a deep expertise in a subject as it relates to making financial decisions and want to share that expertise with others, we want to hear from you.

Hit the link below to learn more about the opportunities available. While being able to produce content for publication is part of the job, we’re really looking for people who are obsessive about living the Thrifter lifestyle.

Come work with us!

Learn More

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 | Posted by | Categories: Android |

As we approach the one-year anniversary of MrMobile’s launch, it seems only right to fulfill one of the most common viewer requests. You see a variation of the question in the comment section of nearly every video: “what’s on your phone, MrMobile?” And while I personally find my app selection really predictable, I figure there’s probably a gem or two in here that some of y’all haven’t heard of yet. So dive on in to the How MrMobile Works catalog to take in my Top 40 Apps video – and if you agree with me that this collection could use some spicing up, drop a comment down below with your top app alternatives!

Stay social, my friends

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 | Posted by | Categories: Android |

The Pokémon you want, but without leaving the house.


Maybe you’re tired of walking playing Pokémon Go but still need to get a Pokémon fix — well, why not give the new Magikarp Jump game a try? This casual Pokémon-themed game is far less involved than Go but still kicks in with the nostalgia we crave. Announced earlier this week with a limited release, Magikarp Jump is now available in the U.S. and most other countries.

Everything you need to know about Magikarp Jump is right in the title: the objective of the game is to train your Magikarp to jump higher than the other Magikarp. Yes, that’s rather simple and somewhat pathetic, but, y’know, so is Magikarp itself. You’ll train your Magikarp to gain jumping skills, feed it so it grows stronger, and then head into competition where you see just how high your Magikarp can jump.

There’s little more to try and sell someone on this: you’ll just need to download it and play. If you’re a Pokémon fan, you’re going to enjoy playing this casual title (it’s already picking up tons of five-star reviews). It’s free but has in-app ads by default, so expect to drop a little money to clean up the experience.

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 | Posted by | Categories: Android |

Should you be concerned about this new Android exploit called Cloak & Dagger? Here’s what you need to know!

A new Android exploit has been unveiled called Cloak & Dagger and, true to its name, it describes ways in which ill-intentioned apps can take advantage of two Android permissions to steal keystrokes and trick users into divulging personal information.

But is it dangerous? Let’s break it down quickly.

What is Cloak & Dagger?

Cloak & Dagger is the name for a combination of two exploitable Android permissions that, when used independently or separately through an ill-intentioned app, can have dire consequences.

It was published as a proof-of-concept by a four-person team at Georgia Institute of Technology and University of California, Santa Barbara.

It is not an active exploit, and to date there have been no known public uses of it.

How does it work?

According to the team, Cloak & Dagger takes advantage of two Android permissions — SYSTEM_ALERT_WINDOW (“draw on top”) and BIND_ACCESSIBILITY_SERVICE (“a11y”) — that, when working together or separately, make it possible for an app to “listen in” and either steal text input such as passwords, two-factor authentication numbers, or personal data.

Cloak & Dagger is a new class of potential attacks affecting Android devices. These attacks allow a malicious app to completely control the UI feedback loop and take over the device — without giving the user a chance to notice the malicious activity. These attacks only require two permissions that, in case the app is installed from the Play Store, the user does not need to explicitly grant and for which she is not even notified. Our user study indicates that these attacks are practical.

The “draw on top” permission is known as the Android overlay feature and is used by many apps like Facebook Messenger and Samsung’s own Multi Window feature to enable “windows” that can be minimized and moved around on top of other apps.

How does the exploit work?

Because both the permissions are not part of Android’s explicit permission granting system that began in Android 6.0 Marshmallow, when a malicious app is downloaded, the app can automatically grant the “draw on top” permission.

Once that happens, the app, once opened, can create an overlay on top of a well-known app, like Facebook, to “phish” input like passwords. It can also overlay on top of the Android keyboard, picking up all inputted text.

The accessibility permission is a little bit harder to force a user to enable, but the team says that its proof of concept used the overlay permission to trick users into activating it. Once both are enabled, a “god mode” app can potentially steal data from any app used on the phone.

Everyone is affected

Cloak & Dagger affects all versions of Android, according to the team, including Android 5.0, 6.0 and 7.0, up to the latest release of Android 7.1.2.

Android 7.0 and above makes it a bit more difficult for some of the overlay exploits to work, but some ingenuity can still get around it.

Should you worry?

Right now, there are no known apps that take advantage of these permissions for malicious purposes, though now that they are public, that may change. The team published the research to force Google’s hand to improve the experience, since, unlike other Android vulnerabilities, these exploits take advantage of design flaws in the permissions themselves, not holes or bugs in the software.

What can you do to protect yourself?

This will not be a problem for you if you are careful with the apps you use.

Much is often made of Android’s security flaws, but Cloak & Dagger is not something you need to worry about as long as you’re careful about granting overlay permissions.

In order to mitigate the potential effects of Cloak & Dagger, it’s a good idea to review which apps can create overlays on top of your Android system. On most versions of Android, here’s how to do it:

  1. Open Android Settings.
  2. Scroll down and tap on Apps.
  3. Tap on the Menu or Cog icon.
  4. Find and tap on Special access. It’s usually under the “Advanced” heading.
  5. Tap on Draw over other apps. These are the apps that can create overlays using the above permission.
  6. Disable any apps you don’t recognize.

Don’t panic!

Seriously, this is not a big deal if you’re careful about the apps you download, especially since Google now scans 50 billion apps for malware every day using its Play Protect system.

Hopefully, Google will address this issue publicly or at least provide some clarification about what it intends to do with app overlays. Android O should eliminate this problem altogether by refactoring the overlay problem with a new API, but it’s unclear how or if Google plans to address the concern on earlier versions.

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 | Posted by | Categories: Android |

The Huawei P10 and P10 Plus will come to Canada just in time for the summer.

Huawei’s P series will be sold at a North American carrier for the first time ever starting June 6, as Canadian providers are set to sell the P10 and P10 Plus.

The company’s newest flagship phones do a lot of things right — and, unfortunately, one thing very wrong — but they stand up well to the competition from Samsung, LG and others. And with no HTC flagship launching in Canada this summer, the P10 and P10 Plus should stand in nicely.

The smaller P10 will be sold at Bell, Videotron, Fido and Rogers in black. Rogers, which has an excellent existing relationship with Huawei, will sell the P10 in both gold and black, and will exclusively stock the larger P10 Plus in black, with the blue variants of both phones coming out later this summer, again as Rogers exclusives.

Huawei P10 and P10 Plus specs

Both phones are remarkably similar, with the P10 Plus notching a slightly bigger 5.5-inch QHD panel compared to the P10′s 5.1-inch 1080p display, along with a larger 3,750mAh battery compared to the P10′s 3,200mAh cell. The P10 Plus also has a slightly sharper f/1.8 lens, but in real world usage we found it to be nearly indistinguishable from the P10′s f/2.2 lens except for in very dark scenes.

Pricing has not been determined just yet, but we’ll know in the coming days.

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 | Posted by | Categories: Android |