Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus review: Redemption is here

Last year’s Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge were excellent phones, and so was the Galaxy Note 7… until it started bursting into flames. While some within Samsung were tasked with figuring out what happened and how to prevent it from happening again, others were trying to build a phone that would make people move on. Meet the new Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus.

The Note 7 won’t disappear so easily from our collective memory, but I have to hand it to Samsung: The S8 siblings are impeccably built, thoughtfully designed devices. It’s not hard to look at these smartphones as the first steps on a road to redemption, and after a week of testing, I can confidently say these are two of the best smartphones money can buy. I just wish its virtual assistant wasn’t so half-baked.

Hardware and design

Text and photos don’t do the S8 ($ 750) and S8 Plus ($ 850) justice. They’re beautiful, if not exactly surprising. From their rounded edges to their precisely formed metal-and-glass bodies, they feel like smaller, sleeker versions of the Galaxy Note 7. That’s a hell of a compliment, battery insanity notwithstanding — the Note 7 was a beautiful device and I’m glad that DNA lives on. The S8 and S8 Plus’s rounded Infinity displays — which are 5.8 and 6.2 inches big, respectively — only add to the phones’ appeal. We’ll dig into these curved screens more later, but people seemed to like them enough that it didn’t make sense to have non-curved flagships anymore.

The screens don’t extend any farther down the phones’ sides than the S7 Edge’s display did, but the bezel surrounding them has almost completely disappeared. LG’s G6 packs a similarly long 18:9 screen, but the S8 line’s eye-catching curves and impressive precision give Samsung a distinct advantage. Like the G6, the screens on the S8 and S8 Plus are longer and narrower than usual, helping them fit more snugly in your hand.

This is especially true of the S8. I thought I’d prefer the Plus’s large display, but there’s something reassuring and alluring about this smaller body. For one, my hands never strained while reaching for the screen’s far corners, and I never felt like I’d drop the S8 because my hand wrapped around it so well. (The phones’ backs are made of glass, though, so they still slide around on tabletops.) That’s not to say the S8 Plus feels too big. It’s plenty comfortable to hold, although your thumbs will still get a workout reaching around the display.

Above the screens are improved, 8-megapixel cameras, and a Note 7-style iris scanner for hands-free unlocking. Most of the time the scanner is fast and frictionless. Often it didn’t even show the guide to align your eyes with. Other times I had to open my eyes really wide and move the phone around until I either nailed the alignment or got frustrated and just punched in my PIN.

If PIN codes aren’t your thing, there’s also the fingerprint sensor on S8 line’s back, next to the camera. In prior models, it lived below the screen. I didn’t mind the change conceptually, but the placement needs work. The sensor is off center, and a little too easy to miss — I usually smeared fingerprints all over the camera before finding it. And what of that classic home button? It’s gone — your new home button is a pressure-sensitive spot on the screen that vibrates when you push it.

If you’re not paying attention, you’d easily miss one of the S8 line’s biggest additions: a small button below the volume keys on the phones’ left sides. This is what you’ll use to invoke Bixby, Samsung’s homebrew virtual assistant. The button doesn’t do much yet — you’ll eventually be able to long-press it to speak directly to Bixby, but for now, it just brings up a screen with upcoming appointments, news and such. Even worse, Samsung has blocked attempts to remap the Bixby key for other functions, which has only pissed off potential power users.

There’s a USB-C port on the phones’ bottoms, and next to that? The headphone jack. We’ve seen companies ditching this classic port, claiming that it took up too much space. The S8 and S8 Plus are perfect repudiations of that line of thinking. Oh, and they don’t get in the way of waterproofing, either. Both devices are IP68 dust and water-resistant, which meant they could lounge for up to 30 minutes in the ridiculous wine bath we poured.

The stuff inside the S8 and S8 Plus isn’t exactly a surprise. Both US models pack Qualcomm’s new octa-core Snapdragon 835 chipsets, along with 4GB of LPDDR4 RAM and Adreno 540 GPUs. That horsepower is paired with 64GB of internal storage, and you can add up to 256GB of additional space with a microSD card. In addition to the usual array of LTE and Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac radios, the S8 and S8 Plus also pack support for Bluetooth 5.0, an updated version of the standard that promises faster data speeds and longer range.

As always, the S8 and S8 Plus are more alike than they are different. The biggest difference aside from the screens are the devices’ batteries — the S8 packs a 3,000mAh cell while the Plus contains a 3,500mAh battery. Those of you with keen memories will remember last year’s smaller Galaxy S7 also packed a 3,000mAh battery, and the S7 Edge actually had a slightly larger 3,600mAh — the biggest Samsung had used to date. Given the Note 7’s nightmarish battery failures, it’s no surprise the company didn’t push the envelope on this front.

Samsung did an impeccable job designing and assembling these phones. You’ll find a few touches that don’t feel quite right, like the off-center USB-C ports, but it’s clear countless hours went into making the S8 and S8 Plus feel seamlessly elegant. Sorry Apple, HTC, and the rest: For now, Samsung is the reigning king of smartphone design.

Display and sound

Chris Velazco/Engadget

For the people in search of buying advice, here’s all you need to know about the S8 and S8 Plus’s screens: They’re awesome. Thanks for reading.

But seriously, the Super AMOLED panels here are indeed awesome. Color reproduction on both is excellent and, as always, there are different screen modes in case your tastes are more specific. The screens get bright enough to combat the warm spring sun and viewing angles are excellent, too.

Before anything else though, you’ll notice that the S8 and S8 Plus screens are longer than most. While many other smartphone screens stick to the 16:9 widescreen aspect ratio, Samsung built the S8 screens with an 18.5:9 aspect ratio. Why? To squeeze more screen into your hand, for one. Beyond that, the length of the screen makes multi-window multitasking — like the kind Nougat natively supports — a breeze. Don’t worry, though: Your apps will automatically scale to fit the entire screen, and they’ll look damned good in the process. Some videos, meanwhile, will be flanked by black bars since they can’t fill the screen. Samsung isn’t the first to go this route, though. Rival LG had the same thought when building its G6, which uses an ever-so-slightly shorter 18:9 aspect ratio.

Samsung calls these screens “Infinity Displays,” and they run at resolutions as high as 2960×1440 — a little longer than the usual Quad HD. Note that I said, “as high as.” The phones are set to run at “Full HD+” — meaning 2220×1080 — by default. You’ll need to jump into the devices’ settings to coax them into running at full resolution, which is a must when you fire up some Gear VR games. There’s also an option to dial down the screen’s resolution to “HD+,” or 1480×720, in case you need to squeeze as much life out of the battery as possible. The display will set itself to this resolution when you turn on the most aggressive power saving mode, and it’s not too bad, either. Icon edges and text look slightly fuzzier, but it’s not ugly.

The always-on display is back too, but with a twist. You can customize it further with images in addition to the usual clocks and calendars. Always-on widgets are available now too, if you want to see your calendar appointments or media controls without unlocking the S8. The impact on battery life is negligible, and the sheer amount of customization options can help make your device feel, well, like yours.

Meanwhile, each device has one speaker wedged into its bottom edge, and they pump out loud — if thin — audio. They’re good enough for podcasts and YouTube videos, but getting the most out of your tunes requires headphones. Good thing, then, that Samsung included a set of AKG earbuds with each S8, and they’re leagues ahead of most chintzy pack-ins.

Software

The Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus both ship with Android 7.0 Nougat, but you’d be hard-pressed to tell at a glance. Samsung has once again painted over Google’s work. Though, TouchWiz has finally grown up. A lot. Look at the S7’s interface: It’s full of garish icons and brightly colored circles. The S8’s, in contrast, is subtle and thoughtful in its design choices.

For one, the app launcher button is gone — now you just swipe up or down on a homescreen to see everything you’ve installed. Even better, there’s a search bar at the top of the launcher. Managing apps is also easier. Long-pressing an app icon launches a pop-up window with options to add a shortcut to the homescreen, select multiple apps and uninstall or disable the ones you’ve selected. That last bit is crucial when you’re dealing with carrier-mandated bloatware, like the multiple T-Mobile apps on our review unit. In days past, you had to disable uninstallable apps from the device’s settings; now you can do it wherever your app icons live.

The virtual navigation keys also allow me to fix one of my biggest pet peeves. Samsung devices typically have their recent apps key on the left side and the back key on the right — basically every other Android phone has it the other way around. Fortunately, you can swap the order they appear. You can also now swipe down on the rear-mounted fingerprint sensor to open the notifications shade, a neat trick we first saw on Google’s Pixels.

Other flourishes make the S8 line feel like “greatest hits” devices. Since both phones have curved displays, they inherited the Edge line’s special shortcut panels. Tapping the little tab on the right side of the screen reveals panels you can load up with favorite apps and contacts and more. I use these as often as I did on the S7 Edge — which is to say rarely.. One panel, called Smart Select, is an awfully neat Note 7 throwback. Long story short, you can select and record parts of the screen and doodle all over them to create GIFs on the fly. For better or worse, /I can’t stop doing this./

Also returning from the Note 7 is a Game Launcher app and the device optimizer in settings, which lets you quickly close down background apps and delete unneeded files. My personal favorite feature is the Secure Folder, which allows you to hide files and install separate instances of apps away from the rest of your stuff. For example: Photos taken from the camera app within the Secure Folder can only be viewed when you’ve successfully unlocked the folder.

Just remember that not all security features are created equal. Take Samsung’s facial recognition — it’s fast, but it often couldn’t identify me in poorly lit situations. It’s also technically possible to fool this facial lock with a convincing photo, so exercise caution. Samsung concedes that this is one of the less secure ways to lock down your phone, but some people definitely dig convenience over security.

Meet Bixby

Chris Velazco/Engadget

After countless leaks and rumors, Samsung’s virtual assistant is finally here. Say hello to Bixby. Oh, wait, sorry, you can’t. Bixby’s voice interface — the thing people associate most with virtual assistants — doesn’t work yet. Want to know how many ounces in a gallon or to see if there are any decent ramen joints nearby? You’ll have to chat up Google’s preloaded Assistant instead.

Samsung promises you’ll be able to control your S8 with your voice as well as you can by tapping on its screen. That would be huge — neither Siri nor Google Assistant offer that kind of granular control. Sure, you can tell Google’s Assistant to set your screen brightness to 50 percent, but Samsung promises even more. With that kind of complexity involved, maybe it’s no surprise this stuff isn’t done yet.

So, if Voice doesn’t work, what did we get? Well, a homescreen, for one. Once Bixby is enabled, swiping right on the homescreen or mashing the dedicated button brings up the Bixby Home panel. There, you’ll find your calendar appointments, the local weather, your daily activity, reminders and lots of news from Flipboard. Right now there are only a handful of third-party apps that connect to Bixby Home, including CNN, Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, Spotify and Giphy. It’s a perfectly serviceable alternative to Google Now. My only real gripe is that it sometimes takes longer than expected to launch Bixby Home by tapping the Bixby button — I often had to hit it multiple times (on both devices, even).

Bixby’s other, more interesting half is called Bixby Vision. It’s basically an augmented reality camera that tries to identify what’s in front of you. I’ll admit, my expectations might have been out of whack here. I wanted to use Bixby as the ultimate shopping tool, snapping photos of things I wanted around New York City and buying them from the handy Amazon links served up by Bixby. Alas, it just isn’t smart enough to identify specific brands or makes. At best, Bixby sees “black shoes” or “red backpack,” and the resulting Amazon links aren’t particularly helpful. Still, it’s pretty good at identifying clearly labeled items. I pointed Bixby at a bunch of things in a grocery store. and it properly identified the juices and cheese snacks I bought.

Bixby Vision is for more than just shopping, though. Thanks to a partnership with Vivino, Bixby can identify bottles of wine then display ratings and reviews for what you’re about to crack open. That’s the part of Bixby Vision that worked the most consistently. Although it does seem to think most bottle-shaped things are bottles of wine, so you’ll probably see the Wine option appear at inappropriate times. You can also use Bixby to search for images on Pinterest similar to ones you’ve already taken. It’s a neat touch and good for finding art you might like, but it’s not the most useful feature.

It’s too bad the really useful stuff — visual text extraction and translation — is hit or miss. The problem with both is that Bixby is really bad at understanding what text should be selectable in an image. Let’s say you’re trying to translate a book cover.

In an ideal world, you point Bixby at the book, hit the “Text” button, your phone figures what is actually text, you select it, and out comes a translation. Sometimes, though, Bixby doesn’t know when there’s text you want to translate or extract, so the “Text” button doesn’t appear. And other times, when the button does appear, it doesn’t parse all of the text properly so you can’t translate it. When it works, it works surprisingly well — I translated a handful of Japanese signs just fine when Bixby could tell I was looking at words. Ultimately, Bixby just lacks the sort of speed and consistency that could make this feature a real must-have.

I have high hopes for Bixby. After all, it took years for Siri to become really useful. So expecting Samsung’s assistant to be equally functional in less time isn’t really fair. Still, there’s no question that Bixby is the most half-baked thing you’ll find in these two otherwise excellent smartphones.

Camera

The 12-megapixel sensors on the back haven’t changed much since last year. That’s not a bad thing since they were great cameras to start with; just don’t expect any huge jumps in quality. Photos were uniformly well-exposed with excellent color reproduction. And as always, these dual-pixel cameras focus incredibly fast, and the optical image stabilization does an excellent job keeping subjects crisp and clear. Low-light performance was in line with the S7 cameras, which is no surprise since they both have 1.4µm sensor pixels and f/1.7 apertures. Still, expect to see the occasional fuzzy edge and less-accurate focusing when it gets a little too dark. Samsung says it improved the processing pipeline so there’s no lag between capturing a shot and being ready to snap the next.

The S8 and S8 Plus also double as solid video cameras. They capture quality footage at up to 4K with great colors and minimal jittering. I just wish Samsung offered more flexibility — there’s a record button, and that’s about it.

There is an improved 8-megapixel front camera with a wider field of view for group selfies. It has a f/1.7 aperture too, so it’s decent enough in low light and in general it’s a great performer. Selfies were clean, detailed and nicely colored, especially when viewed on the punchy AMOLED screen. Even better, you can hold up a palm to snap a selfie, no fumbling with buttons required.

Samsung also spent time cleaning up the camera interface, which was already pretty elegant. You switch between the front and rear cameras with a swipe up or down, and the list of usual photo modes — food, selective focus, slow motion and “pro” — is smaller and more streamlined. This time, though, swiping right opens up a list of Instagram-friendly color options to give your photos a little more character. And speaking of character, Samsung took a page from Snapchat’s playbook and added face-tracking filters that are bizarre and fascinating. They range from the cutesy (kawaii cats and rabbits eating carrots) to stranger fare, like a cowboy filter that fires a pistol when you blink. The S8 and S8 Plus come with 31 of these filters, and if nothing else, they’re perfect for amusing toddlers who are otherwise busy getting loaded on Easter candy.

Performance and battery life

I’ll be brief: The S8 and S8 Plus are effortlessly fast machines, and hardly anything I threw at them over a week of testing got them to stutter. This is mostly due to the shiny new Snapdragon 835 and 4GB of RAM onboard. Bixby is often a little slow to launch, but swiping through Samsung’s improved interface and jumping between running apps was painless. If this is what the 835 is capable of, I can’t wait until these things are everywhere. Workday multitasking, games like Hearthstone and Dead Trigger 2, even playing emulated GameCube games — it all ran fabulously. I unconsciously stopped thinking about performance altogether. As you’d expect, the S8s killed it in our usual suite of benchmarks, too — hardly anything came close.

Galaxy S8 Galaxy S8 Plus LG G6 Google Pixel XL Galaxy S7 Edge
AndEBench Pro 15,888 16,064 10,322 16,164 13,030
Vellamo 3.0 5,519 6,930 5,046 5,800 4,152
3DMark IS Unlimited 36,806 35,626 30,346 29,360 26,666
GFXBench 3.0 1080p Manhattan Offscreen (fps) 54 55 42 48 47
CF-Bench 67,307 64,441 29,748 39,918 46,290

Anyway, none of this would matter if the phones had lousy batteries. News flash: They don’t. The smaller S8 routinely lasts between a day and a half and two days of consistent use. The S8 Plus’s bigger battery gets me closer to two full days of use on a single charge. That’s with the screen set to its maximum resolution, too — expect even better battery life if you dial the displays down to Full HD+ or lower.

They also fare well in our standard video rundown test, where we loop an HD video at 50 percent screen brightness while the phones are connected to Wi-Fi. The S8 and its 3,000mAh battery stuck around for 13 hours and 27 minutes — just a hair better than the S7 and the Google Pixel and well ahead of the bigger 3,300mAh battery in the G6. The clear winner, though, is the S8 Plus and its 3,500mAh battery. It clocked in at 15 hours and 8 minutes, longer than the Pixel XL, Note 7 and Moto Z Force.

The competition

We’re not even halfway through 2017, so some of the best smartphones of the year may still be waiting in the wings. For now, though, there aren’t many devices with the chops to stand up to the S8 and S8 Plus. The biggest competitor is probably LG’s G6, a device with a long screen of its own. It’s far more sensible than last year’s G5 and, while it can’t win when it comes to pure power, it’s surprisingly flexible dual camera and great screen make it a solid alternative.

If we’re considering the G6, we might as well throw in the Google Pixel and Pixel XL since they pack the same chipset. Beyond having a choice of device sizes, the Pixels also double as incredible cameras (I think they’re still a little better than the S8’s), and the phones are guaranteed to get updates from Google as quickly as possible. Sure, the S8’s interface has improved dramatically, but some people will always prefer the cleanliness of stock Android.

And in case you haven’t pledged allegiance to a mobile platform yet, there’s also Apple’s iPhone 7 and 7 Plus. I still personally prefer the breadth and quality of Apple’s app ecosystem… though the S8’s impeccable design might get me to switch teams soon.

Wrap-up

The Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus aren’t perfect, but they’re as close as Samsung has ever gotten. That’s a hell of a rebound for a company whose phablets… well, you know. Beyond the gorgeous design and the boost in horsepower, they feel like devices built in response to our preferences and nitpicks. That’s not something you see everyday. Bixby’s limited functionality and lack of consistency is a real bummer, but it’s not a deal-breaker. (We’ll return to this review when Bixby Voice is finally up and running.) In most other areas, Samsung has outdone itself. The year is still young and we’ll certainly see strong responses from Google and Apple. But for now, if you’re looking for a new smartphone, the S8s should be at — or very close to — the top of your list.

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Square chief teases a smart debit card

Square Cash’s virtual payment card might not be quite so virtual in the future. Company chief Jack Dorsey has teased a strange, all-black Visa debit card that Recode suspects is really a physical Square Cash card. A Square spokesperson declined to comment, so take this with a grain of salt, but there’s evidence to suggest there’s something to this teaser. You see, Square seriously considered a payment card back in 2014 — the company is no stranger to exploring the concept of a real-world card that draws from online funds.

There’s no guarantee that Square will launch a debit card, no matter what Dorsey is carrying in his pocket. The company reportedly ditched its payment card out of a reluctance to either antagonize its partners or wade through a tangled financial industry. However, there are a few incentives to at least consider the idea.

For one, Square has previously said it would like to “own both sides of the counter.” If it handles both the cards and the payment readers, it doesn’t have to give a cut to anyone else. There’s also the simple matter of catering to a wider customer base. While you can use Apple Pay to go shopping with Square Cash, not everyone can or wants to use an iPhone to make purchases at retail. This would let you use your virtual wallet anywhere that accepts debit cards, regardless of your phone preferences. And simply speaking, a physical card is more inviting to those people hesitant to shop with their handsets. Even if most Square Cash users aren’t about to use a tangible debit card, they might appreciate the option.

Via: Recode

Source: Jack Dorsey (Twitter)

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Of course there’s a ‘Candy Crush’ fashion collection

The Candy Crush craze continues to reach new heights. Just when you thought a TV show based on the popular game was more than you could handle, well, that’s not the only thing happening in time for summer. King, the app’s developer, has teamed up with fashion brand Moschino on a collection of accessories and swimwear, in celebration of the fifth anniversary of the Candy Crush Saga. Available today (only until it sells out), the gear includes an iPhone case, bathing suits for men and women as well as a backpack, respectively priced at $ 70, $ 205, $ 300 and $ 650.

Moschino’s creative director, Jeremy Scott, has made a name for himself in the fashion industry with his bizarre designs and collaborations. Back in 2015, for example, he worked with Nintendo on a collection dubbed “Super Moschino,” featuring swag inspired by characters from the Super Mario franchise. Scott has also sent models down the runway wearing pieces created out of his love for McDonald’s and SpongeBob SquarePants. Because who doesn’t love fast food or cartoons, really?

If you want to look ridiculous and break the bank all at the same time, Moschino’s Candy Crush collab is the perfect way to do it. Who knows, maybe you have an unhealthy obsession with the game. But hey, for better or worse, you do you.

Source: Moschino

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LG G6 review: Finally back in the race

Let’s be real: Last year’s G5 was ambitious, but it never lived up to its potential. Even now, I have to give props to LG: It took guts to make that phone, and it took guts to admit at a Mobile World Congress press conference that it was a step in the wrong direction. “We get it,” the company seemed to say. “We were wrong, but we listened and did better.”

And you know what? It did. The props I offer to LG now are not only for moxie but also for surprisingly good execution. Apart from adding a surprisingly long screen, the company gave up on trying to redefine how smartphones work and built a more conservative machine that played to people’s desires instead. It’s a more sensible kind of flagship for LG. Too bad the competition this year is fiercer than ever.

Hardware and design

I wouldn’t be surprised if LG took almost everything it learned about industrial design with the G5 and set it on fire. That’s the sort of seismic shift we’re working with here. And honestly, it’s for the best. The G5’s modularity required sacrifices, and with that constraint gone the company’s engineers were able to design a sleek, sturdy frame that feels worthy of a flagship. You can tell just looking at the materials used. The G5’s light, plasticky metal is gone, replaced by Gorilla Glass 5 on the G6’s back (a pane of Gorilla Glass 3 covers the screen). Those glass panels eventually meet at a band of aluminum that encircles the phone. Even better, the G6 is IP68 dust- and water-resistant, a feat that was straight-up impossible last year because of the G5’s slide-out battery mechanism.

One of the few design decisions that remained was the dual camera on the back, only this time it sits flush with the phone’s body. Below that is the signature sleep/wake button that doubles as a fingerprint sensor. It’s been years since LG made this a mainstay of its high-end phones, and I appreciate the placement. The sensor was always within reach of my index fingers, but it occasionally needed a few clicks to unlock.

Meanwhile, you’ll find the volume keys on the left side, directly opposite the microSIM and microSD card slot (which takes up to 2TB of additional storage). You’ll probably need the latter too. In the US, the G6 comes with 32GB of storage, only 19GB of which are available once you crack open the box. There’s a USB-C port on the bottom, a headphone jack up top and that’s really it. Well, except for the G6’s claim to fame: the display.

Chris Velazco/Engadget

I challenge you to tear your eyes away from the G6’s screen, its rounded corners or the mere sliver of bezel running around it all. The phone is basically all screen, and it feels like a revelation. In fact, with a screen this prominent, the rest of the G6’s frame fades into the background (especially on our low-key black review unit). That’s fine by me; the G6 is a well-built machine, but it’s pretty plain-looking.

LG’s minimal design aside, the company squeezed a whole lot of screen into a modestly sized body. It’s remarkably comfortable to hold and use for long periods of time. Between the not-quite-finished model I received at Mobile World Congress and the consumer-ready, AT&T version LG later provided, I’ve been using this all-screen design for over a month. In a nutshell: I’m never going back. You’ll still shimmy your hand up the phone’s body to reach the top corners with your thumbs, but the G6 is surprisingly comfortable for one-handed use.

To top it all off, it’s surprisingly durable. One night, while perhaps a little tipsy at dinner, the G6 slipped from my grasp and fell about 15 feet from the restaurant’s upstairs table to the hard tile of the ground floor. I felt like a tremendous idiot, but the phone suffered only a few nicks around the edges. Seriously, LG: well done.

Display and sound

Since the screen is the single biggest change to LG’s G Series formula, let’s dig a little deeper. It’s a 5.7-inch IPS LCD running at 2,880 x 1,440 (that’s an 18:9 aspect ratio, for those keeping track). As far as LG is concerned, this super long FullVision display is the way of the future. After all, it seems well suited to multitasking, and filmmakers (like La La Land’s Damien Chazelle) have already embraced wider-than-widescreen formats. Even better, the G6 and its screen support standards like Dolby Vision and HDR10 for more vivid video. It’s just too bad that finding content that takes full advantage of this screen is still pretty difficult.

And don’t forget about those curves. The corners of the panel are actually round, which supposedly helps disperse the blunt force that comes with a careless drop. It’s equal parts clever and cool-looking, which I love. None of this would matter if the screen itself was lousy, but that’s thankfully not the case: Text and images are crisp and precise, colors are lively without veering into over-saturation. Viewing angles are excellent too, which is crucial: What good is a long screen if it’s hard to glance at?

So yeah, LG clearly paid a lot of attention to the G6’s display — too bad it didn’t spend as much time on the phone’s audio. There’s a single speaker wedged into the phone’s bottom, and its output is anemic at best. It’s a good thing LG kept the classic headphone jack around, but even that isn’t as good as it could be. See, despite the company’s commitment to high-quality audio with its V Series phones, the G6 lacks the Quad DAC that made devices like the V20 such great media players. I guess I shouldn’t be that surprised: You had to buy a separate “Friend” to squeeze high-fidelity audio out of the G5, and it was never available in North America anyway. There’s still hope for you audiophiles: The Asian version of the phone has that DAC built-in if you don’t mind scouting for foreign devices online.

Software

Remember the days when LG’s custom interface was terrible? Yeah, so do I. These days LG is into restraint, and while it’s still a long way from stock Android 7.0, the company’s skin and apps add more value than headaches. Does that mean it’s for everyone? Hell no, but it’s progress.

That progress can be tougher to spot if you’ve used the G5 or the V20, since almost all the usual tricks are back. You can still turn on the screen with a double-tap, rearrange your navigation keys or ditch the traditional Android app launcher in favor of an iOS-style app free-for-all. The most noticeable changes are cosmetic — here’s looking at you, wallpapers and “squircle” icons — but the biggest ones are meant to take advantage of that super long screen.

Consider the calendar and the contact list: They look normal enough when launched, but rotating the phone reveals another view that displays extra information in two side-by-side square panels. Handy. Still another included app lets you change how other apps are scaled to fit on-screen. Fiddling around with it can get certain apps looking more natural on the G6’s 18:9 display, but in my experience, you could ignore this feature completely and not miss out on anything. Google’s also got your back: It’s been encouraging developers to build native support for 18:9 screens into its apps.

Speaking of Google, the G6 was — briefly — the only non-Pixel smartphone to come with Google’s virtual Assistant. Google kind of spoiled LG’s fun by rolling Assistant out to compatible devices shortly after the G6’s announcement, but hey, a good voice interface is a good voice interface. If you were expecting differences in performance between the Assistant here and the one running on Google’s first-party hardware, don’t worry. After a few initial moments of sluggishness, talking to the G6 was as pleasant as talking to the Pixels. That’s good news for those of you with burning curiosities and a fondness for chatting with inanimate objects.

The AT&T model we tested is loaded with bloatware. Maybe the strangest change is AT&T’s use of Firefox — not Chrome — as the default web browser. Some of you won’t mind, as Firefox is a perfectly good alternative. Beyond that, we’re left with 13 preloaded apps no one ever actually asked for and a persistent notification that keeps insisting I set up the DirecTV remote app. News flash, AT&T: I don’t use the service and wouldn’t use this app even if I did, so for the love of God, stop shoving this notification in my face.

Camera

Dual cameras have gone from gimmick to flagship feature, and LG was one of the first companies to make them feel valuable. The work began with last year’s G5, which combined an 8-megapixel wide-angle camera with a 16-megapixel main camera for more-flexible shooting. It was a solid first attempt, but this year’s approach feels much more elegant.

For one, this time the normal and wide-angle cameras shoot at the same 13-megapixel resolution. Now we have resolution parity, and they both turn out crisp, detailed images without much fiddling. There are still differences between the two though. The main camera has a f/1.8 aperture, optical image stabilization and phase-detection autofocus, all of which the wide-angle camera lacks. In other words, you should probably steer clear of those wide-angle shots at night: They too often come out fuzzy and improperly exposed.

In normal daylight conditions though, both cameras capture crisp images with lots of detail and bright colors. In fact, thanks to some aggressive image processing, colors can sometimes border on garish. For more-nuanced control over your photos, you can switch into a Pro mode with manual settings. It’s overkill for most, but in the right hands it leads to some killer shots. And fortunately, switching between the two cameras is mostly free of lag, a feat the company pulled off with some help from Qualcomm.

LG also threw in some square shooting modes that make use of the long screen. You can, for instance, instantly preview photos you took on one side of the screen while retaining a live view on the other or quickly build an animated, 4×4 grid of shots for Instagram or whatever. Exactly how valuable some of these modes are is debatable, but I’m willing to admit I might be short on imagination.

The G6 also doubles as a respectable videographer’s tool. It packs full manual control, a first for LG, which also helps keep low-light videos looking good. What’s more, handy additional features like focus peaking and hi-res audio recording are must-haves for people who take their on-the-go shooting seriously. I still think Google’s Pixels are the best all-around smartphone cameras out there, but consider me impressed by the sheer flexibility on offer here.

Performance and battery life

The G6 felt plenty fast in day-to-day use, thanks to the Snapdragon 821 chipset, 4GB of RAM and the Adreno 530 GPU ticking away inside. I know what you’re thinking: This is a very familiar configuration that we’ve already seen in a handful of flagship phones. The Galaxy S8 and Sony’s Xperia XZ Premium might churn out more power thanks to their shiny new Snapdragon 835s, but performance rarely felt lacking.

My usual workday consists of a lot of Slack, Outlook and Spotify, with pretty frequent sessions of Hearthstone and Dirt Extreme. Multitasking — even in split-screen mode — yielded relatively few hiccups. And graphically intense gaming proved to be no problem either. Swiping around the interface and launching apps was snappy too, though spurts of slowness popped up from time to time. I’d put my money on LG’s interface dragging the system down, but it was never enough to cause more than momentary frustration.

LG G6 Google Pixel XL Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge LG G5
AndEBench Pro 10,322 16,164 13,030 14,152
Vellamo 3.0 5,046 5,800 4,152 4,104
3DMark IS Unlimited 30,346 29,360 26,666 26,981
GFXBench 3.0 1080p Manhattan Offscreen (fps) 42 48 47 47
CF-Bench 29,748 39,918 46,290 36,488

Unfortunately, I haven’t had the greatest luck with the G6’s battery. It’s a 3,300mAh cell, which is larger than what you’ll find in some competitors — the HTC U Ultra and the regular Galaxy S8 spring to mind. Even so, I could only count on the G6 to last for one day. If I was lucky and didn’t use the phone too much, I might wake up the next morning to find it still clinging to life. The G6 didn’t fare much better in our video rundown test, where we loop HD videos with WiFi connected until it dies. It lasted just under 11 hours, which puts it a bit behind last year’s V20.

To put that in perspective, the G6 did worse than HTC’s U Ultra and the smaller Google Pixel, despite both of them having smaller batteries. At least the G6 is convenient and quick to charge: It supports Qualcomm’s QuickCharge 3.0 tech, and the US model comes with built-in wireless charging support. (In case you’ve been keeping track, that’s /another/ thing the G5 couldn’t do.)

The competition

I don’t mean to spoil the ending, but this is the best phone LG has built in years. The problem is, its biggest rivals haven’t exactly been sitting still. After a wave of strong first impressions, Samsung’s Galaxy S8 is clearly the smartphone to beat: It too has a long, bezel-less display, and it’s clearly more of a looker. Beyond that, I’m cautiously optimistic about what the S8’s Bixby virtual assistant will develop into over time. The G6 could have the edge in photography though. I’m told the S8’s camera aren’t hugely improved over last year’s S7s, and that’s a hell of a niche to leave open for LG.

If you’re looking for a better music experience, you might want to check out the LG V20 ($ 599) as well. It packs the Quad DAC that our version of the G6 doesn’t have, and it packs a small, sometimes useful second screen above the big one. And for those of you looking for the peak of what the Snapdragon 821 can offer, I’d suggest Google’s Pixel XL ($ 769+). I already mentioned it had the best all-around smartphone camera out there; it also packs a completely clean version of Android. Sure, it might not be as attractive as the G6, but its sturdy build quality means it feels every bit as premium and it’ll get software updates from Google as soon as they’re available.

It’s also worth pointing out that buying a G6 can be lucrative in other ways. If you were fast enough on the draw, you could’ve nabbed a free TV and/or Google Home to go with that G6. That’s an uncannily good deal, though it feels a little desperate.

Wrap-up

There’s no doubt about it: The G6 represents some of LG’s best smartphone work ever. Sure, it’s not perfect: Audio is pretty weak, and so is the battery. None of that takes away from the fact that LG has built a phone that feels ready to compete with the best of the best for the first time in ages. Whether it has what it takes to beat those rivals, though, is a matter of opinion.

I’ve enjoyed my time with the G6 but you can’t underestimate the power of a visceral thrill, and that’s one thing the G6 never managed to deliver. Deep down, I can’t help but wonder if this year will go LG’s way. The Galaxy S8 and Apple’s 10th anniversary iPhone are poised to suck the air out of the room, and it’d be a shame to see LG’s effort overshadowed simply because other companies are better at generating hype. If you’re looking for a shiny new smartphone, the G6 definitely deserves a close look … but you might want to wait until we see what the full field of competitors looks like.

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Qualcomm countersues Apple over iPhone and iPad royalties

For years, Apple and Qualcomm have worked together on technology that’ goes inside your iPhone and iPad. Qualcomm specifically handles a lot of the modem chips that connect devices to cellular or WiFi networks, and are crucial to any mobile hardware. Since Apple needed a lot of chips, Qualcomm supplied them, and everything seemed good — until January when Apple filed a $ 1 billion lawsuit claiming Qualcomm charged royalties on tech it had nothing to do with, and then followed up with two antitrust lawsuits in China. Tonight, Qualcomm has responded with a lawsuit of its own (you can grab the 139 page PDF here), claiming that Apple is in the wrong, and has breached its contract with the company.

Among a number of accusations, Qualcomm chose to highlight charges claiming that Apple “Chose not to utilize the full performance of Qualcomm’s modem chips in its iPhone 7, misrepresented the performance disparity between iPhones using Qualcomm modems and those using competitor-supplied modems; and
Threatened Qualcomm in an attempt to prevent it from making any public comparisons about the superior performance of the Qualcomm-powered iPhones.”

Further along in the document, it also says:

Qualcomm has been relieved of its obligation to make Cooperation Agreement payments to Apple because, among other reasons, Apple has misled government agencies around the world about Qualcomm’s business practices in order to induce regulatory proceedings against Qualcomm. As merely one example, on August 17, 2016, Apple told the Korea Fair Trade Commission (“KFTC”) that “Apple has yet to add a [second chipset] supplier because of Qualcomm’s exclusionary conduct”. But when Apple made that statement to the KFTC, it already had added Intel as a second baseband chip supplier and had purchased Intel chips to incorporate in the iPhone 7, which was only a few weeks away from its September release. Apple already knew that every iPhone 7 offered for sale in Korea would incorporate an Intel chip, not a Qualcomm chip. Apple’s statement to the KFTC was false

Apple started using Intel modems in some versions of the iPhone 7 in 2016. Qualcomm also claims that Apple encouraged regulatory attacks, and interfered with agreements it has with the companies that manufacture iPads and iPhones.

Source: Qualcomm

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Google might bring curved screens to its next Pixel phone

Google, which has taken a hands-off approach to Android hardware until recently, may be getting more involved in smartphone production. It’s reportedly investing up to $ 875 million in LG Display to develop a stable supply of flexible OLED screens for its Pixel phones, according to reports from Korea’s Yonhap News and Electronic Times (ET). That would help ease supply problems for the next-gen device, as the current model has been nearly impossible to find.

The search giant would invest a trillion won ($ 875 million) and possibly more to secure a production line dedicated to its own smartphones. It may also reserve some flexible OLED screens for other devices like a rumored pair of “Pixel” smartwatches. LG display is reportedly mulling the offer, which would be a strategic investment and not just an order deposit. If it signs on, curved screens for the Pixel would likely be built in LG’s $ 1.3 billion flexible OLED line in Gumi, North Gyeongsang Province.

With its Nexus phones, Google let partners Huawei, LG and HTC control all aspects of the devices and hardware. However, with the Pixel and Pixel XL, Google actually took charge of the design and thus, to some level, the hardware. That was both a good and bad thing — the phone was generally acknowledged as the best-ever Google device, but was only released in the US, UK, Australia, Germany and Canada. Even in those nations, it was pretty damn hard to find.

If the news is accurate (and with supply rumors, that’s a big “if”) then Google would be playing favorites with one Android supplier, LG, over another, Samsung. On the other hand, Samsung might be quite okay with that, considering it’s about to launch its own curved OLED Galaxy S8 smartphone and possibly supply the flexible OLED display for Apple’s next iPhone 8. With OLED tech seemingly the only thing that manufacturers want, it makes sense for Google to cut a deal with LG, which isn’t faring so well with its own devices.

Via: Techcrunch

Source: Yonhap, ET News (translated)

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Recommended Reading: iFixit wants to show you how to repair everything


Meet the $ 21 Million
Company That Thinks
a New iPhone Is a
Total Waste of Money

David Whitford,
Inc.

We’re no stranger to iFixit’s in-depth teardowns here at Engadget, but the company has a plan that’s much more than ripping apart the latest gadgets to see what’s inside. Inc. takes a look at how the the company is helping the masses repair everything from smartphones to kitchen appliances and why they offer guides for doing so free of charge.

When Shazam Scoops Your Album Announcement
Marc Hogan, Pitchfork

Well, this is awkward.

Funny or Die at 10: An Oral History
Brian Raftery, Wired

Funny or Die carved out a unique spot when it comes to online comedy. Wired takes a look at the site’s history that began with a two-minute Will Ferrell sketch.

How Do You Beat the Smartphone Camera?
Rob Walker, Bloomberg

One tactic is enlisting a well-known industrial designer with a proven track record to work on your 16-lens point-and-shoot camera.

Peter Moore Talks Leaving Electronic Arts for Liverpool FC
John Davison, Glixel

Glixel chats with the former head of EA’s esports division who left to take the CEO chair at Liverpool FC about stepping away from games after a 19-year career.

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Huawei finally has a phone worthy of the Leica brand

From super-slow-mo cameras and bezel-less displays to banking on the power of nostalgia, smartphone makers have tried almost every trick they can to stand out. Huawei’s latest strategy is to partner with color authority Pantone to come up with a variety of eye-catching hues for its latest flagship. The Huawei P10 (and the slightly larger P10 Plus) will be available in a slew of colors and finishes. But while that’s nice for people looking to personalize their phones, it’s not particularly useful.

What’s actually useful about the new flagship is its powerful camera and reliable performance wrapped in an understated, elegant frame. And although the phones won’t officially be coming to the US for the time being (they’ll sell in Europe starting at €649), they’re still a tantalizing preview of what Huawei might have in store.

Huawei has already proven itself capable of building premium, good-looking handsets, and the P10 is further evidence of that. Its slim 6.98mm (0.27-inch) profile and gently curving edges aren’t just pleasant to look at, they’re a pleasure to hold as well.

Many of my friends have pointed out the P10’s resemblance to the iPhone. And indeed, that’s true of the basic white/gold version I tested. If you aren’t feeling the Apple-esque look, you can opt for one of the many customization options that Huawei offers. Pick a different color — there are seven hues to choose from, including Pantone-approved “Dazzling Blue” and “Greenery.” Or try a different finish. You can get a smooth, sandblasted back, a glossy coat or a gritty texture that’s reminiscent of ridged, holographic lenticular cards. That last option is popular with a couple of my coworkers, and it does help the P10 stand out. The colors and textures available vary between countries, though, so you might not be able to get the exact combination you want.

The P10’s 5.1-inch full HD display is sharp and colorful, and while it won’t wow you with richly saturated images or deep blacks like Samsung’s flagships do, it’s good enough for my Instagram and Netflix binges. The same can be said for the P10 Plus’ 5.5-inch WQHD panel, which offers more space for gaming and reading. I just wish both phones were a tad brighter so I could read more easily in strong sunlight.

While we’re on the subject, the P10 and P10 Plus come with screen protectors out of the box. It didn’t bother me but might annoy people who want direct access to the display. The trouble for these folks is that it appears the protector was applied in lieu of an oleophobic coating on the screen, which other phones have in order to avoid fingerprint grease and water damage.

When we asked about the reported lack of this coating, Huawei said, “The P10 is the world’s first smartphone with capacitive under-glass fingerprint sensor for seamless navigation.” In layman’s terms, that all but confirms that Huawei did away with the coating to prevent interference with its under-glass fingerprint sensor. The company also said, “For screen protection, we have used premium materials such as Gorilla Glass 5 and include a screen protector as part of the integrated product.” Basically, if you want to remove the screen protector (which, by the way, is incredibly difficult), do so knowing you risk damaging the display.

Below the screen sits a pill-shaped home key that houses the fingerprint sensor. Think of this as an etched-out touchpad. It doesn’t depress or click; it simply senses your touch. There aren’t separate Back and Recent Apps buttons on its sides; you’ll have to tap once on the sensor to go back, hold down to go home and swipe sideways to multitask. This takes a bit of getting used to, but it’s worth learning now, since Huawei is not the only company implementing this method (the Moto G5 uses a similar format).

If that’s too much trouble, you can still opt for a set of onscreen navigation keys, which is the default setting for the larger P10 Plus. This feels more intuitive, but it makes the physical sensor redundant and confusing, since I still keep hitting it instinctively to go to the home screen.

Just as it has with the recently released Mate 9, Huawei has integrated artificial intelligence into the P10’s system. Thanks to the company’s custom octa-core Kirin 960 processor, the smartphone can learn your habits over time and divert resources like RAM and power to preparing the apps it predicts you will next open. During my month of testing, I most commonly used the P10 for taking pictures, looking at them in the gallery, and sharing them either on Instagram or to Google Drive. Switching between these apps is zippy, which could be a sign that Huawei’s algorithm is working well here (or, you know, that the processor and RAM are more than adequate for how I used the phone). Like I noted when I reviewed the Mate 9, though, this isn’t something you’ll notice until it doesn’t work. And it’s not as if the phone stuttered when I pulled up apps I didn’t use as frequently; in general, the P10 is responsive and multitasks well.

Capable performance and pleasant aesthetics are important basics to nail, but Huawei has come far enough that their delivering those is no longer surprising. What I wasn’t expecting, though, was the P10’s ability to take stunning pictures. When Huawei first teamed up with Leica to co-engineer the P9’s cameras in 2016, the result was underwhelming. Now the collaboration finally seems to be paying off. I’d actually reach for the P10 over my iPhone 6s every time I want to snap a pretty picture (or a gratuitous selfie). The P10 Plus has newer Leica sensors and a larger f/1.8 aperture than the regular P10’s f/2.0 setup, but I didn’t notice a significant difference in image quality other than more-saturated colors on the larger handset. Both cameras performed similarly well.

The P10’s rear features a 12-megapixel RGB sensor and a 20-megapixel monochrome sensor, similar to the setup on a handful of Android phones from ZTE and Xiaomi. Together, the cameras capture crisp, colorful photos with pretty bokeh, thanks to software that applies an artificial depth-of-field effect to pictures. From my experience, though, the iPhone 7 Plus is more accurate when it comes to identifying outlines of faces, while the P10 tends to be more muddy with its boundaries. It causes parts of my head, like my hair, to be blurred out along with the background. Still, the pictures look lovely, and the accuracy is already an improvement over the P9. Plus, it could easily be fixed with a software update.

What the P10 does that the iPhone can’t, though, is apply that same soft focus to selfies. I was won over the instant I saw the results — they’re almost pretty enough to make me switch to Android. It sounds vain, but the front-camera integration makes getting the bokeh effect much easier, and is a bonus for anyone who wants better selfies.

The P10’s front camera also has a handy tool for group selfies that detects faces in the shot and zooms in or out to accommodate them. This feature was finicky in my testing and didn’t always work. When it did kick in, it did a good job of providing enough room for everyone in the picture, but it’s too unreliable right now to be useful.

Software is a big reason the P10’s pictures are superb. Its camera app features a trio of color profiles — standard, vivid and smooth — that let you take richer, more saturated images that are Instagram-ready without any edits. These sometimes result in slightly overexposed photos because of the high contrast, but you can always shoot in standard mode to avoid that. The P10 is also impressive in low light. Pictures of buildings at night displayed almost no noise — details were clear and colors were vivid. Portrait mode can introduce noise, but even there it’s minor.

There is very little to dislike about the P10 — even its battery life is satisfying. The regular P10 has a 3,200mAh cell, while the Plus packs a 3,750mAh one. During my testing, both phones easily lasted about for a day and a half of average use. But anytime I started playing games or watching videos on YouTube, that runtime dropped to a day at best. That’s still impressive, though, and recharging the phone is speedy enough, thanks to quick-charge support. I was surprised to see the P10 go from zero percent to 25 percent charged in a mere 15 minutes.

Ultimately, the P10 and P10 Plus are good-looking, responsive phones with excellent cameras. But they’re not perfect. I’m not a fan of the home key navigation, nor do I like the limited availability of Huawei’s unique color options. Plus, the handsets won’t officially be coming to the US. If you get your hands on one and stick an AT&T or T-Mobile SIM card in there, the phone will work, though you may not get full LTE speeds, since the radio isn’t optimized for US spectrums. Huawei has only just begun bringing its popular handsets stateside, so hopefully the P10 will make its way here soon.

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The Morning After: Friday, April 7th 2017

Hey, good morning! You look fabulous.

We’ve got a lot to cover, with a curious energy that can only mean it’s finally Friday. There are concrete details on the next Xbox, a new iPad to review, and an AI trying to paid while on “digital LSD”. They know how to party.


But is it too late?Xbox One Project Scorpio specs promise ‘the most powerful console ever’

Last year at E3 Microsoft overshadowed its own Xbox One S by revealing a more powerful version on the way. Now, we have some official hard specs for its Project Scorpio box, which uses a custom GPU and 12GB of RAM to power 4K gaming that even the PS4 Pro can’t pull off. In a demo for Eurogamer, it ran Forza Motorsport at 4K and 60fps without breaking a sweat. Even if you haven’t upgraded to 4K by the time it arrives later this year, Scorpio can run Xbox One games in high-res then downsample them to reduce aliasing on 1080p displays, just like the PS4 Pro does. Expect more information on games (and a price) at E3 in June.


It’s a free video editor that’s social-friendlyApple’s Clips app hits iOS today to make video creation a cinch

Clips, Apple’s new video-editing app, despite its dead-simple interface, is capable of some pretty impressive feats. After recording a video, you load it into a project’s timeline, and load it up with symbols, filters and emoji, and share away. If that sounds simple, well, it is. Mostly. After all, it’s meant to sit in between the pure automation of iOS’ photo memories and the more in-depth work that comes with using mobile iMovie. And sure, you could piece together a similar video project in an app like Instagram or a similar Snapchat store. Clips’ surprisingly handy list of features sets it apart. It almost feels like Apple baked extra bells and whistles into the app to give it a leg up on other social platforms without having to build a social network of its own. It’s available, free, on iOS now.


The My Passport SSD packs USB-C and a reasonable price.Western Digital unveils its first portable SSD

Western Digital only just started accepting that SSDs are ready for the mainstream, but it’s making up for that lost time by launching its first portable SSD just months after unveiling a desktop drive. The simply-named My Passport SSD gives you 256GB, 512GB or 1TB of flash storage in a pocketable and ever-so-slightly fashionable design. While it’s not the absolute fastest drive we’ve seen with a peak 515MB/s sequential read speed (it’s a bit faster than Samsung’s T3), the new drive is definitely keeping up with the Joneses. It’s designed for USB-C (there’s a USB-A adapter in the box), touts 256-bit hardware encryption and is tough enough to survive a 6.5ft drop.


You’d be hard-pressed to find a better tablet at this priceReview: Apple iPad (2017)

Apple’s newest iPad is a budget model that samples the best parts from past hits. We’ve got the original iPad Air’s body stuffed with the iPhone 6s’s A9 chipset and paired with a brighter version of the iPad Air 2’s display. We have no complaints about performance, and battery life is excellent. But, Apple’s compromises are evident in the tablet’s relative thickness and the glare-prone screen. What the iPad lacks in sheer thrills, it more than makes up for with adequate power and a price that’s hard to resist.


Wait, where are you going?Comcast reveals Xfinity Mobile

Now that AT&T, YouTube and others are biting into its TV business, Comcast is attacking in the other direction by launching a wireless service. Called Xfinity Mobile, it’s sort of like Google’s Project Fi because it will use a combination of Comcast hotspots and the Verizon network. If you’re a fan of the bundle, it does offer phone service with unlimited data, voice and text for as low as $ 45 ($ 65 if you only have Comcast’s internet service).


Futurecraft 4DAdidas is ready to make 3D-printed sneakers a mass market item

Adidas revealed its latest shoe with a 3D-printed midsole, the Futurecraft 4D, but that’s not the most interesting part of its announcement. While these shoes will have a very limited release this month, it claims that by using Carbon’s Digital Light Synthesis method, it will have 5,000 pairs ready for sale by the holidays. Carbon specializes in printing items from a liquid pool T-1000 style, and Adidas expects this combination will be able to produce 100,000 pairs of shoes by the end of 2018.


It’s like someone spiked your computer’s drink with ‘ASCIID’What AI sees and hears when it watches ‘The Joy of Painting’

Bay Area artist and engineer Alexander Reben has produced an incredible feat of machine learning in honor of the late Ross, creating a mashup video that applies Deep Dream-like algorithms to both the video and audio tracks. The results are… weird.


Who’s behind an account that’s tweeting from inside US immigration officesTwitter sues feds over attempt to identify anti-Trump account

Twitter is suing the government to resist giving up the identity behind @Alt_uscis, an account tweeting out anti-Trump messages. The account is allegedly run by rogue members of US immigration agencies. The suit is a twofold resistance to the government’s disclosure request, opposing both the method and the nature of demanding these particular identities. First, it openly attempts to block the Department of Homeland Security and CBP from “unlawfully abusing a limited-purpose investigatory tool to try to unmask the real identity of one or more persons who have been using Twitter’s social media platform, and specifically a Twitter account named @ALT_USCIS, to express public criticism of the Department and the current Administration.”


These phones are the best ones at this priceReview: Moto G5 and G5 Plus

Another year, another pair of great affordable handsets from Motorola. The smaller, 5-inch Moto G5 offers reliable performance thanks to Android 7.0 Nougat and a surprisingly good 13-megapixel camera. The design is a little uninspiring, and the display is hard to read in direct sunlight, but this little smartphone does everything you need it to for a bargain price


Just LED, no Q or OSamsung takes aim at Vizio with its ‘MU’ line of Ultra HD TVs

While Samsung’s latest QLED tech fights a picture quality battle with LG and OLED, value-conscious buyers will want to look at the MU line of TVs it’s rolling out. Still featuring 4K, HDR and other high-end options, they use standard LED edge lighting to keep the price down, no matter which version you might choose.


The DevLoop in Nevada has been ‘finalized’ ahead of testingHyperloop One’s test route is ready to run

It was August 2013 that Elon Musk, under pressure from Shervin Pishevar, published his white paper on the Hyperloop. Just three years and seven months later, and the world’s first Hyperloop tube has been declared ready for testing. Hyperloop One has announced that DevLoop, its Nevada test facility, has been “finalized,” and will serve as the testbed for the future of transportation.

But wait, there’s more…

  • Explore Japanese gaming culture in 360 degrees with MatPat
  • Zunum Aero’s hybrid-electric planes could halve the cost of US flights
  • Australian regulator sues Apple bricked ‘Error 53′ iPhones’
  • Xbox One now supports Dolby Atmos and DTS:X

The Morning After is a new daily newsletter from Engadget designed to help you fight off FOMO. Who knows what you’ll miss if you don’t subscribe.

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Australian regulator sues Apple over phone-bricking ‘Error 53’

When iPhone owners hoping for a cheap screen repair started getting the notorious, phone-bricking Error 53 message last year, the company claimed it was a security measure meant to protect customers from potentially malicious third-party Touch ID sensors. An iOS patch eventually alleviated bricking issues, but some consumer rights advocates still aren’t pleased with Apple’s lack of transparency. This week, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission announced it will be taking legal action against Apple for allegedly making “false, misleading, or deceptive representations about consumers’ rights” under Australian law.

According to a statement released today, the ACCC looked into the Error 53 reports and found that Apple “appears to have routinely refused to look at or service consumers’ defective devices if a consumer had previously had the device repaired by a third party repairer, even where that repair was unrelated to the fault.” In other words: it is illegal under Australian Consumer Law for Apple to disqualify your iPhone for future repairs just because you got your screen fixed at a mall kiosk.

Meanwhile, in the US, at least five states (Kansas, Nebraska, Minnesota, Massachusetts and New York) have introduced “right to repair” bills that would give small businesses and third-party repair services more freedom to buy replacement parts or get access to official repair manuals for everything from smartphones to large appliances and tractors. Combine that growing right-to-repair support in the US with the ACCC’s new lawsuit in Australian and it seems Apple’s walled garden of repairs could be slowly be forced to open up its gates.

Source: Australian Competition and Consumer Commission

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