It’s the 21st century, why the heck are you still using traditional flame lighters? Electricity-generated plasma beams are much hotter and cleaner than a butane flame, plus it’s also windproof and splash proof so you’ll be able to get something lit no matter the weather.

Save 84% off the Saberlight Rechargable Plasma Lighter! Learn More

If this sounds like an amazing invention, you’re going to love this deal from Android Central Digital Offers! You can get a Saberlight Rechargeable Plasma Lighter for just $15.95, that’s 84% off the regular price of $100.

This lighter is TSA approved and includes a built-in rechargeable li-ion battery and a microusb charging cable. You can get up to 300 uses on a fully charged lighter, and like we said it’s way healthier and safer than a traditional butane lighter. Looking to double down and buy one for yourself and a second for a friend? Check out this two-pack for just $29.99 and save 85%!

This deal won’t last for long, so make sure to get yours today!

Save 84% off the Saberlight Rechargable Plasma Lighter! Learn More

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The comments are yours to use as you will. Almost.

It’s the best day of the week of all the days of the week once again. Saturday is the first day of the weekend that’s not the last day. Time to relax, at least a little bit. And if you’re working through the weekend, hopefully your days off are just as great as a Saturday.

Use this down time to get ready for the Galaxy Note 8. That’s what we’re doing, but everything we’re doing right about now is getting ready for the Note 8. Because it’s coming in just a month.

This Note is going to be a tad different from the past releases. It’s either the best Note ever or the worst, depending on what you’re looking for. Samsung has to play things a little safe this time and I don’t expect anything crazy or innovative is going to debut here. Why? Because of the Note 7.

That damn Bixby button though.

Look, Samsung doesn’t have to prove to me (or most of us) that they can build a perfect phone. One that works exactly as advertised, with no surprises. But they still have to do it. And I think the Note 8 will be that “perfect” phone that is exactly what they wanted it to be when it lands on a shelf at the Verizon store. They are going to nail it.

Half of us want a bigger version of the S8 with small upgrades like more memory and dual-cameras. The other half wants to see something completely new because Samsung is pretty good at completely new. I think the second half may be a little disappointed this year. But look at it this way — a “perfect” Note 8 means they have a ton of money and time to make a crazy-idea find it’s way into the Note 9.

So take a minute and talk about it. Or talk about something else if you’re not into the Note 8. Comments are wide open for anything and nothing is off-topic (but please care about each other just a little bit).

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Qualcomm’s patents and their usage fees have many up in arms and are at the center of a big legal mess.

Around the web, you’ll find plenty of things written about Qualcomm. Most of it is news about its latest products, or reviews of the same products but you’ll also see a new trend of … distaste for Qualcomm. Most of the time there is no back story given about why. So that’s what we’re going to talk about in a non-lawyerly way and with no full disclosure on the standards-essential patents fees or any royalty caps. If you’re reading and happen to know patent law, please feel free to correct the “internet wisdom” at play here in the comments so we all can benefit.

Qualcomm makes great stuff

Qualcomm has done some amazing things to move mobile forward. Its Snapdragon platform blends processing power, graphics rendering and network connectivity together in a way that’s better than anything else you can buy off the shelf, especially if you’re in North America. Qualcomm’s products don’t need to have the best CPU (they aren’t), the best GPU (same, not even) or the best wireless radios (they do, though) as long as the complete package is better than anyone else’s complete package. And Qualcomm’s packages are just better than the competitions.

Qualcomm’s networking technology is unmatched.

Qualcomm’s networking technology — including things like Bluetooth and Wi-Fi as well as LTE — is a must for any mobile device in North America. Not only because it’s great, but because patented technology is needed to properly connect to this generation of robust LTE networks, as well as the next generation. Qualcomm invented a lot of this stuff. And like any other company, they patented it.

Since you need to use this technology to properly connect to the latest networks, the patents are labeled as fair-use. Some rules go with that, mostly about who can use them (anyone) and what they should cost. Here’s where things go south, because the way Qualcomm is charging for this technology has some other companies up in arms. And rightfully so.

Fees and royalties need to be fair

Qualcomm prices the use of their tech differently for people who buy a complete Snapdragon package than they do for a company who just wants the network patents. This isn’t unheard of, and it’s a fine way to sell your products: use our stuff and you don’t pay extra for our other stuff. But some companies think Qualcomm is charging too much and are unhappy with the way Qualcomm is charging for these fair-use patents on their own. Most notably, Apple, who has started an action in court to have this addressed.

More: Qualcomm: Unfair, unreasonable, and discriminatory and why Apple needs to win (

Qualcomm is said to charge between five and seven percent of the total retail price as its FRAND (Fair, Reasonable, And Non-Discriminatory) terms for every device sold using their patented tech. There are two issues with this — the exact same tech in a $700 phone costs more than it does in a $400 phone, and as prices for other components rise or more expensive materials are used for things like camera glass or displays, Qualcomm earns more money. Many feel this is exorbitant and doesn’t follow the FRAND rules.

A company deserves to be paid only for the things they created.

For Apple, this means it is paying a lot more to license a network patent in a 256GB iPhone 7 Plus than it is for a 32GB iPhone 7. Even though the technology is exactly the same. Apple feels like Qualcomm should not be allowed to profit from anything it didn’t create. I think this is a valid complaint, and something needs addressed. I’m no fan of Apple or Qualcomm and think both companies make great products they want us to buy. But they need to do so fairly.

The fees themselves are also said to just be too high. If you’re Samsung, number one you’re rich as hell and can afford to buy anything from anyone when it comes to fair-use tech. But you did not get rich as hell by buying things that cut into the profit margin of a product. This is why Galaxy phones in the U.S. and Canada now use Snapdragon processors. It’s a lot cheaper to build a phone with a Snapdragon SoC for sale in North America than it is to sell one with Samsung’s own in-house Exynos SoC using Qualcomm’s patented tech.

No profit left for the manufacturers

Things get worse if you’re not Apple or Qualcomm. Not every company can afford to give 7% of the total price to Qualcomm, because they simply don’t have the profit margin. Apple and Samsung have a fairly high profit built into the price of every device. Rumors suggest this is about 20% for Samsung and about 35% for Apple. While a 7% cut would be more than just a nuisance at those margins, it’s a deathblow for companies who are only making 10% profit on each device.

Many companies simply can’t afford a 7% cut into their profit margin.

Without mentioning any names, more than one company has stopped selling devices in the US or stopped making phone altogether because they can’t afford to make a phone that works great everywhere in North America, or works on Verizon and Sprint at all. You need Qualcomm’s technology to do either, and using Snapdragon isn’t an option in these cases. These companies simply didn’t have 7% per device to pay, so they don’t make a product that uses the tech. Qualcomm essentially has used what are supposed to be fair-use patents to push these companies out of the market.

My take

Again, I want to stress that I am not a lawyer. I would make a horrible lawyer because I would spend my time thinking of how an algorithm could replace a judge. But I do have an understanding of how standards-essential patents and FRAND is supposed to work, and access to the same industry whispers that anyone in my profession will hear.

Qualcomm certainly deserves both praise and money for what they’ve done with network technology. It’s stupendous. But when a company creates something that is so good it becomes part of an industry standard, it has to be fair in the ways its usage is licensed. I’m one of the people who think Qualcomm isn’t playing very fair when it comes to these very specific patents.

As much as I hate to see two companies fighting in a courtroom over who gets the pennies from my pocket, I still feel this needs addressed by the persons designated to address it.

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What are the best multiplayer VR games?

One of the best aspects of virtual reality is sharing the experience with friends, whether online or right in your living room. No matter the VR system you’re using, these are the best multiplayer titles available now.

Read more at VR Heads!

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Hackers pose a serious threat, not only to individuals but also to large corporations. There are vast security structures in place to keep hackers out, but without testing that security, there’s no way to know whether it will hold up. That’s where ethical hackers come in.

Learn how to become a certified pentester with this nine-course bundle! Learn more

Ethical hackers are employed to test security systems, and the better they are at hacking, the better they are at their job. In order to become a successful ethical hacker, you really need to know what you’re doing, and the training required is usually quite extensive and expensive.

Right now, however, Android Central Digital Offers has a deal on a Super-Sized Ethical Hacking bundle. Instead of paying the regular price of $1,080, you’ll pay just $43. That’s 96 percent off the regular price!

This nine-course bundle will take you from zero to hero with 667 lessons and over 76 hours of training. Courses include:

  • Bug Bounty: Web Hacking
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  • Ethical Hacking Using Kali Linus From A to Z
  • Ethical Hacking From Scratch to Advanced Techniques
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  • Learn Website Hacking and Penetration Testing From Scratch
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  • Cyber Security Volume I: Hackers Exposed

Get started on an ethical hacking career with this $43 bundle! Learn more

If you’ve been thinking about making the internet a safer place by exposing its vulnerabilities, this is the bundle for you. Ethical hacking is a lucrative career, and this bundle has everything needed for a strong start. Don’t wait too long; this deal doesn’t last forever.

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The San Diego Comic-Con is well underway, and to celebrate Google Play has some pretty sweet deals on superhero movies!

Following along with all the news coming out of the San Diego Comic-Con is always fun but if you’re looking jump even deeper into the superhero world, why not take in a movie at home this weekend? Right now, Google Play has discounted a bunch of superhero movies that you can rent or purchase. Everything from live action movies to animated features is available, so there’s sure to be something that piques your interest!

Some of the available titles:

Looking at the full list, one could say there are some blockbuster superhero movies that are missing but there are also plenty of gems in there as well. The Watchmen, Planet Hulk, and Serenity are on my list of suggestions.

See all the Comic-Con Movie Deals on Google Play

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A complete breakdown of Verizon’s Unlimited plan and everything else you can get when you sign up for service.

In the United States, there are a lot of companies that can get you and your phone online, but most people use one of the four biggest: AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon. Choosing between them can be difficult. Your first priority should be what service works best in the places you spend your time. It’s not worth saving $10 a month if the service is bad. Once you have that sorted, you can look at what each company has to offer and the prices they charge for it.

More: Which unlimited plan should you buy?

Let’s take a look at Verizon to see what they can give you and what it will cost.

Verizon Unlimited plan details

  • Unlimited talk, text, and data
  • Unlimited HD streaming video (see Verizon’s Video Optimization Deployment page)
  • Unlimited mobile hotspot
  • Add a tablet with unlimited data for $20 per month
  • Add a connected device for $5 per month
  • Unlimited calling and texting to and from Canada and Mexico
  • Up to 500MB per day of full-speed data in Canada and Mexico

Verizon’s definition of unlimited data means that after you use 22 GB in a single month, your service can be slowed down if you’re in a congested area. You’ll hear the word throttled used here but you need to know that it’s only a temporary deprioritization of your data connection when you’re in a busy area. It may not happen at all depending on how many other customers are using the same towers.

Verizon gives you all the details and fine print on its website, though you might have to dig around to find them.

Verizon links you to all of the fine print right from your cart when you sign up for the unlimited plan. In that fine print you’ll see how Verizon takes steps to protect itsnetwork. Data services, both on-device and through tethering can not be used for illegal activities, anything that violates trade or economic sanctions, any type of server, email auto-responders or bots and sending malware. They also let you know that they can and will be monitoring your usage to make sure you comply. All service providers have the same restrictions, but Verizon takes the time to present them so well we wanted to give them a shout out.

Additional lines can be added to a Verizon Unlimited plan. Every line has the same benefits outlined above and requires an equipment purchase. Here is a pricing breakdown.

  • One line of service is $80
  • Two lines of service is $140
  • Three lines of service is $160
  • Four lines of service is $180
  • Five lines of service is $200

Verizon Unlimited plan add-ons

Verizon’s Unlimited plan lets you call and text to Canada and Mexico, and lets you call and text from Canada and Mexico back to the States at no additional carge. It also allows you to use up to 500MB per day in each country at no additional charge, after which it is throttled to 2G speeds. The company does keep an eye on how much data you’re using, though: if more than 50% of your data in a given month comes from outside the U.S., Verizon will slow down your speeds and holds the right to cut off service.

If you need other international services, Verizon has you covered.

  • The free International Messaging add-on lets you send text messages to over 200 countries and multimedia messages to over 100 countries
  • The Unlimited Together – North America add-on gives you discounted calling rates to over 230 locations for $5 per month
  • The Unlimited Together – world add-on gives you discounted calling rates to over 180 locations for $15 per month
  • A daily Travel Pass gives you unlimited data and calling when you’re in one of over 100 countries for $10 per day
  • A monthly Travel Pass gives you discounted calling and messaging rates as well as a data alotment based on your needs (prices vary, see Verizon’s International Travel page)
  • Cruise ship rates are $2.99 per minute for voice calls and $0.50 per message sent / $0.05 per message received for texting.

Verizon also has a program that gives you a prepaid card of up to $650 in value for a trade in if you switch from another network. The details are on the Switch to Verizon page of its website. It also has a referral program and a rewards program that can put money back in your pockets.

If you’re both a Verizon Wireless and Verizon Fios subscriber, you can use the Fios Mobile App to watch your shows from home without using your data.

It also offers a wide range of its own services, including its own RCS messaging app, a personal cloud and an excellent account management app. You can find them in Google Play.

See at Verizon

Update, July 2017: This article has been updated with all the latest information on Verizon’s unlimited plan.

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 | Posted by | Categories: Android |

HTC can’t seem to catch a break. A few days ago, an update to TouchPal (the third-party keyboard which is used on HTC’s newest smartphones) started showing banner ads for a handful of HTC 10 owners. While HTC has resorted … Read More

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 | Posted by | Categories: HTC |

We’re pretty big fans of the OnePlus 5 here at Android Central. We want you to experience this phone for yourself, so we’ve put together a little contest that will give one of you the opportunity to win a OnePlus 5, because who doesn’t like winning free phones? All the details are below, so get yourself entered now!

THE PRIZE: One Android Central reader will be taking home a new OnePlus 5!

THE GIVEAWAY: Head down to the widget at the bottom of this page. There are multiple ways to enter, each with varying point values. Complete all of the tasks for maximum entries and your best shot at winning! Keep in mind that all winning entries are verified and if the task was not completed or cannot be verified, a new winner will be chosen. The prize does not include service, and we cannot guarantee that the device will work on all carriers. International winners will be responsible for any customs fees incurred during shipping.

The giveaway is open until August 3, 2017, and the winner will be announced right here shortly after the closing date. Good luck!

Win a OnePlus 5 from Android Central!

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Throttling seems to be an unavoidable practice these days.

Use too much data and you get throttled. Use data on a busy network cell and you get throttled. But the throttling numerous reddit users have been seeing doesn’t seem to match any conventional rules. Users on both new and old “Unlimited” plans are seeing speeds drop on two of the nation’s most popular video platforms regardless of how much data they’ve used.

Once upon a time, Netflix essentially throttled itself for mobile users to save their users from high data bills, but Netflix gave that up in lieu of a handy in-app mobile data control. Even with Netflix set to Unlimited, several Verizon users are seeing consistently capped speeds at 10 Mbps on, Netflix’s speed test, as well on YouTube with the “stats for nerds” enabled.

10 Mbps is loads better than the 1.5 Mbps throttling we’ve seen on T-Mobile once they start throttling accounts. It’s just good enough for 1080p video, but not for any HDR video, and being throttled on an Unlimited plan for two video sites regardless of how much or little data you’ve used is disconcerting. We’ve yet to see an official statement on what’s happening here, but Verizon customers, are you seeing lower speeds on YouTube and Netflix? Tell us what you’re seeing.

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