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5 best Android phones you can buy right now
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With Mobile World Congress now behind us, one thing is very clear: there are a lot of excellent smartphones available right now (or soon to be available). Which, as always, makes it difficult to choose just one. Figuring out which smartphone to buy is easily one of the most important decisions you’ll make all year, so it shouldn’t be taken lightly.

The good news is that many of today’s top phones excel in three of the most important categories: design, battery life, and camera. Diving deeper into each phone’s other features, such as wireless charging or, in the case of the Galaxy S9, a variable aperture, will help inform you about how these devices are different.

With no major releases expected in the near future—excluding the Galaxy S9 which just shipped—now’s a pretty good time to buy a new smartphone. Below are our top five choices for Android. Our picks are in no particular order.

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Tags: , , , , , , Categories: Mi Mix 2s, Mobile, News

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Xiaomi announces the Mi Mix 2S, and it doesn’t have a notch
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The look of the Mi Mix 2 wasn’t thrown away as that phone launched just six months ago. Xiaomi put one more letter in the Mi Mix 2S’ name to indicate it’s not a full-blown upgrade but rather a refined successor carrying the torch. If you put the Mi Mix 2S and Mi Mix 2 next to each other, you’d be lucky to pick up on the differences from the front.

Once again, Xiaomi is embracing the edge-to-edge display life without the need for a notch at the top. The Mi Mix 2S might just have the thinnest bezels we’ve ever seen on a mainstream phone. Above and to the sides of the 5.9-inch Full HD+ (2160×1080) IPS LCD display is an ultra-thin border, and below you’ll find a somewhat noticeable chin. Xiaomi put the front-facing camera down there, which means the company didn’t have to borrow from Apple’s iPhone X like so many others have.

Overall, you’re still getting a high-end look and feel. Certain parts of the Mi Mix 2S are also made of ceramic in addition to aluminum and glass.

Many will criticize the Mi Mix 2S not for having a dual-camera setup but for aligning the lenses vertically with two-tone LED flash between them. That layout is, of course, used by Apple on its newest iPhone. But Xiaomi does push its own technology.

The two 12MP lenses feature artificial intelligence, enhanced low-light performance, dual-pixel autofocus, multi-frame noise reduction, and four-axis optical image stabilization. It sounds fancy, but the truth is many flagships share the same qualities for their cameras. We should still applaud Xiaomi for not going light in this area anyway.

Elsewhere, the phone is also no slouch. Xiaomi received a ton of praise in 2017 when the Mi Mix 2 arrived because the high-end components made for blazing-fast performance. The Mi Mix 2S only makes the experience better by using upgraded components. Again, it’s the same phone but tweaked with more advanced technology.

It’s also worth sharing that the Mi Mix 2S supports wireless charging. To go with the phone, the company announced a 7.5W wireless charging pad that costs a mere $16.

Xiaomi included the Snapdragon 845, which is Qualcomm’s flagship processor at the moment. Customers then choose memory and storage capacities. If you opt for 6GB of RAM, you’ll get to choose between 64GB or 128GB of storage. When you raise the bar to 8GB of RAM, you’re automatically getting 25tGB of storage.

Pricing is higher than last year’s model, but the Mi Mix 2S remains less expensive than most cutting-edge phones out there. The starting price is $525 and climbs to $636 if you need the top offering.

While the Mi Mix 2S will be available on April 3, don’t expect to see it everywhere. Xiaomi plans on selling it in China and select markets but not the U.S., though you’ll be able to use it anywhere since the Mi Mix 2S is compatible on various major networks around the world.

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Tags: , , , Categories: Business, Mobile, News, Tenor

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Google just bought a GIF database because why not
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The popular database that serves GIFs to hundreds of millions of users around the world will be joining Google. Both companies confirmed a deal is in place, though there’s been no reporting on the value of the acquisition.

Tenor passed 300 million users in 2017, and this year the company started hitting 12 billion search requests per month. So it seems like a pretty good addition to Google Search. However, based on the comments from both sides, Google won’t immediately roll Tenor into a Search-branded feature.

Here’s what Tenor said happens next:

“The acquisition will enable us to accelerate improvements to Tenor’s service for our users, API partners, content partners, and advertisers. Tenor will continue operating as a separate brand to better serve you.”

Google also revealed that its keyboard app for Android and iOS devices, Gboard, will transition from Giphy to Tenor. If you’re unfamiliar with GIF databases, know that Giphy and Tenor are two of the top competitors. Giphy has been integrated into Gboard for quite a bit now, but having Tenor at its disposal means Google can implement a first-party solution. There was no date for the transition to take place, unfortunately.

As usual, business should remain the same for these companies through the end of the year. It usually takes a year or so for any changes to begin. But Tenor should be on Gboard within the next few months.

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Your next phone could see a major jump in storage
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Over the past few years, smartphone storage has climbed to 256GB, giving users plenty of space to store images, documents, and media. Now, a new report suggests your next device could feature double the storage that’s available right now, rivaling what you’d find in high-end PCs.

According to PhoneRader, which spotted a regulatory listing via TENNA, Huawei could be the first manufacturer to release a phone with 512GB of storage. For context, the 13-inch MacBook Pro (non-Touch Bar, because who needs that?) I’m using to type this post only has 128GB of storage.

Some devices, such as the iPhone X, come with 256GB of storage, which is plenty. Other phones support microSD expansion up to 2TB, so our storage needs are more than being met. But I don’t think anyone would say no to a phone with 512GB of storage. You’ll never have to worry about running out of space again.

Other details about the Huawei device are unknown, though there is a mention of 6GB of RAM, which is relatively standard across the high-end Android market. With the rise of 4K video, 512GB of storage would come in handy pretty quick.

If such a device does exist, don’t count on it ever being available in the U.S. Earlier this week, a report suggested Best Buy would no longer sell Huawei devices, which follows a comment from the FBI urging consumers not to use Huawei products.

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PUBG is now available for iOS and Android
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You can now take your obsession with PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG) anywhere thanks to a surprise launch on iOS and Android. The release comes just a few days after Fortnite: Battle Royale became available for iPhones everywhere.

According to the app’s listing, PUBG Mobile is an authentic port of the PC version, dropping 100 players onto a map filled with guns, vehicles, and body armor. PUBG fans will be happy to learn the map is Erangel, which is what the game launched with in Early access last year.

Players can play in squad, duo, or solo, just like the PC version. During our short time with the game, PUBG Mobile really does feel like an authentic port of the PC title; the controls can take some getting used to but the experience is surprisingly solid.

What’s said is PUBG Mobile is more enjoyable than the version currently available for the Xbox One, which is often so laggy it’s unplayable.

PUBG Mobile requires iOS 9.0 and an iPhones 5s or later, which covers a very large user base. Android users need Android 4.3 and up, the Google Play listing says. With Fortnite and PUBG fighting for battle royale supremacy, launching on mobile is a big deal.

Now, when is Fortnite and PUBG coming to the Nintendo Switch?

PUBG: iOS

PUBG: Android

Follow this story: AlertMe

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OLED screen orders rise as new iPhone models near
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When the iPhone X was announced, Apple made a big switch in display technology. And the company doesn’t seem to be interested in ever going back. The custom OLED screen on the latest iPhone should represent a sign of what’s coming as the company has reportedly ordered a massive number of units to use in 2018.

Apple is expected to use the screens on the iPhone X but also some of the new iPhone models set to be released this year. The company ordered up to 130 million units, according to DigiTimes.

The entire order for displays came in at 250-270 million. While that means LCD screens are still dominating the inventory, it does indicate that Apple is going all-in on OLED screens less than a year after embracing the technology. Apple is already approaching the 50 percent mark for OLED screens.

Don’t expect LCD screens to be abandoned soon, though. They’re a lot cheaper to get and older iPhone models with the technology remain on the market.

For those iPhone models, Apple is said to have ordered up to 70 million units. The iPhone 8, iPhone 7, and iPhone SE use LCD screens since Samsung’s custom panel only debuted with the iPhone X in late 2017. One of the next iPhone models should also have an LCD screen to remain affordable, but the other two likely to ship with OLED screens.

Then there’s the possibility of an in-house display, but Apple probably won’t have that ready for quite a few years.

The new iPhone models are believed to have 5.8-, 6.1-, and 6.5-inch displays.

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Fixing your Samsung Galaxy phone just got a lot easier
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Samsung on Wednesday announced an important partnership with uBreakiFix in an effort to provide same-day repair services for Galaxy owners. The program is expected to offer over 300 Samsung Care authorized locations, with more locations to come by the end of 2018. The partnership will expand by a further 200 locations in 2019.

The program will allow customers to schedule an appointment online or walk in and drop their phone off. Samsung said some repairs can be performed within two hours or less, though there are caveats to that claim, like if your device has been damaged by liquid.

“At Samsung, our goal is to provide Samsung Galaxy owners with a customer first care experience that is as innovative as our products,” said Michael Lawder, Senior Vice President of Customer Care at Samsung. “This announcement marks a fundamental shift in our care offerings to consumers and underscores our commitment to provide Samsung customers with support anywhere, anytime our customers need it.”

According to Samsung, customers can get a front and back screen replacement, battery replacement, port and camera repairs, and other in and out-of-warranty services. Devices supported by the program include the Galaxy S6 up to the Galaxy S9, and the Galaxy Note 5 and Galaxy Note 8. All Plus models are supported as well.

uBreakiFix, which is also an official partner of Google to fix Pixel phones, offers an array of services, from repair tracking to free diagnostics to a 90-day warranty. And it’s not just smartphones the company can fix, but game consoles, tablets, and computers, too.

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Huawei is set to release not one but three new P20 models, notch included
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The worst thing about smartphone announcements is that there are no more surprises. Nearly all of the information was leaked ahead of time for the iPhone X, Galaxy S9 and now Huawei’s P20 is suffering the same fate. We already have a good idea of what the phone is going to look like – there is a notch and a three camera system. However, the camera isn’t the only triple threat the P20 is featuring.

According to a new leak from VentureBeat’s Evan Blass, Huawei’s P20 flagship will come in three different flavors. The three models Huawei is releasing include the P20 Lite, P20 and P20 Pro. The namesake lets you know where the devices stand. The Lite looks to be the lower-end model, the standard P20 will fall in the middle of the pack while the P20 will carry all the bells and whistles, including the three camera system.

Judging from the image Blass leaked, Huawei seems to have kept the same design elements in all three versions: that is at the notch at the top, a substantial chin lives at the bottom and a vertical dual camera system adorns the back (with the P20 adding the third lens).

The only noticeable difference between the three versions is the Lite’s fingerprint scanner is located on the back, while the other two versions having it located in the bottom chin. Unfortunately, the P20 Lite still has the same size chin, with only Huawei’s logo occupying the space. The P20 Lite also has a slightly bigger notch, but the difference is negligible.

Huawei has an event scheduled for March 27 where it promises we will “see mooore.” That’s a pretty on the nose reminder that we will see three new P20 models and the fist-ever three camera system. 

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After all this time Siri still stinks
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There’s a lot to love about the iPhone. Apple puts an enormous amount of resources to ensure the iPhone is the cream of the crop of mobile devices. That work has paid off: the iPhone X is arguably the best smartphone ever made.

Yet there is still one issue that plagues the iPhone often and continuously: Siri still doesn’t work very well. In fact, at times, she kind of sucks.

For the basics, Siri works admirably. Asking it to set alarms, timers or reminders is pleasantly easy. Same thing when you ask it to call somebody, launch an app or play music. Again, the task is performed in a satisfying manner. But asking it more complicated questions results in disappointing answers. One of these most frustrating aspects of Siri is its knowledge. Easy questions are answered, but anything more nuanced and you are presented with a web result. This happens a lot.

It’s too inconsistent for its own good. One of Google Assistant’s best functions is context awareness, in which you can keep asking questions about a specific topic without mentioning the topic in every question. Siri can do this too, but only with a few select subjects.

Asking Siri multiple questions about Kobe Bryant, such as how old is he and where is he from yields informative results without having to mention his name again after the first question. I tried this with director Christopher Nolan, and all I was presented with was a web result.

Again, this is something Siri has the capability of doing, yet doesn’t do consistently.

Another minor detail Google added to Google Assistant is the ability to read web results. Often times, Google Assistant too delivers web results, but since it reads the information, it feels like your question is answered. Siri does not, and thus, you feel left hanging. For my Christopher Nolan query, Siri pulled up the proper information, and let me know he is a Hollywood director, but it didn’t read the results. It’s a minor difference that goes a long way.

What makes Siri’s shortcomings so frustrating is that Apple was the first company to create a smart assistant in 2011, yet now, it lags behind Google Assistant and Amazon’s Alexa in key features. And what compounds this frustration is that for all the resources Apple has dedicated to Siri, the assistant is still a work in progress—seven years after debuting.

Apple is said to be focusing on the reliability of iOS 12 instead of working on new features. Hopefully, this means Siri will see some much needed upgrades. What do you think? Does Siri work for your or do you find it frustrating too?

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One of Google’s smartest features is coming to the iPhone
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Google on Tuesday announced Google Lens, a service capable of recognizing real world landmarks and objects, is coming to the iPhone via an update to Google Photos. The announcement comes as an addendum to the launch of the feature on all Android devices that run Google’s photo service.

Originally announced during I/O last year, Lens uses Google’s deep learning technology and neural networks to make sense of the world. If you point Lens at a book, for example, it’ll identify that book and provide users with options to purchase that title.

Other Lens features include the ability to automatically connect to a Wi-Fi network by scanning the network name and password, as well as advanced OCR accuracy, allowing users to easily digitize business card information.

The Pixel and Pixel 2 still offer the best Lens integration as it’s available in Google Assistant. But similar integration will reportedly roll out to devices from manufacturers like Samsung, Huawei, LG, and more.

Google didn’t say when Lens would be available for iOS, but with a wider rollout happening for Android, it’ll probably arrive very soon.

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