Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Photos Detail Reported Samsung Gear Fit 2, Wireless IconX Earbuds

Samsung has apparently heard the cries of its customers, and before long, we may have a sequel to the Gear Fit smartband. Reportedly called the Gear Fit 2, this smartband will likely track your day-to-day outings by tracking steps, calories burned and more. As we can see in the photos, it heavily resembles the original Gear Fit, but given its small size, there is not much else to see. According to Venture Beat, the Gear Fit 2 will feature a 1.84″ Super AMOLED display, as well as GPS tracking. 

A bit more interesting are the Samsung-made IconX wireless earbuds. These Bluetooth earbuds are reported to be completely wireless, even featuring 4GB of internal storage to allow for the storing of songs. Controlling the earbuds is said to be by touching specific parts of the bud. The carrying case for the buds is said to double as a charging station, which is a nice piece of design.

As of right now, there are no pricing or release details to report, but if anything is made available, we will keep you up to date.

Was anyone here asking for a new Gear Fit?


Via: Venture Beat

Photos Detail Reported Samsung Gear Fit 2, Wireless IconX Earbuds is a post from: Droid Life

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Buying an Unlocked Smartphone

I buy a lot of unlocked smartphones. In fact, as I type this, in front of me, there are eight smartphones on my desk and every single one of them is “unlocked.” Why do I buy them, you ask? For a number reasons, all of which I mentioned in this lengthy piece written about a year ago. The basics are this, though – they give me flexibility to test different networks, they often get faster software updates than carrier phones, they tend to be less expensive, and have far fewer bloatware apps than their relatives who are attached to carriers. They are the phones I will continue to choose time and time again.

With that in mind, I get the feeling that many of you are still confused as to what an unlocked smartphone is and may even need help in buying one. So today, let’s take a few minutes to talk through some of the things to look for when buying an unlocked smartphone. 

What is an unlocked smartphone?

An unlocked phone is a phone that is not locked to a particular carrier or network and is somewhat of a free spirit that can come and go from networks as it pleases. The idea here is that most smartphones tend to have the ability to connect to a number of different wireless networks and their accompanying wireless bands (frequencies they use to talk to wireless devices). If a phone is “unlocked,” it should be able to connect to different bands and networks and jump between each without hassle. If a phone is “locked,” then that means it has been locked or limited to connecting to specific networks or bands.

Phones sold through carriers (like AT&T or T-Mobile) are often sold as “locked” and will only work on AT&T or T-Mobile’s networks unless you follow a bunch of guidelines from each carrier in order to get them “unlocked.”

Samples of unlocked phones would include Google’s Nexus phones (like the 6P and 5X), the Blackberry Priv if bought directly from Blackberry, or the HTC 10 if bought directly from HTC. These phones do not have specific carrier ties and are capable of connecting to a variety of different networks.

You may also hear unlocked phones referred to as “SIM unlocked” or “SIM free.” That’s in reference to the phone being sold without a SIM card. Why do you need a SIM card? Well, a SIM card allows you to communicate with a wireless network. When you buy a prepaid SIM card from Walmart or walk into a carrier store to setup service, the SIM card is what gets you connected.

buying an unlocked phone

How do I know if a phone will work on a particular network?

Ahhh yes, wireless bands and compatibility, what is arguably the most important piece to buying an unlocked phone. After all, you shouldn’t buy an unlocked phone unless you know that it will work with your carrier of choice. Let’s see if we can’t help you figure that out.

There are a bunch of things to look at here, but the majority of all questions can be answered with our US wireless carrier bands cheat sheet, which is also included below. Take a look.

AT&T GSM/UMTS/HSPA+ 2, 5 1900, 850 2, 4, 12, 17 1900, 1700 abcde, 700 bc
VERIZON CDMA 0, 1 850, 1900 2, 4, 13 1900, 1700 f, 700 c
T-MOBILE GSM/UMTS/HSPA+ 2, 4 1900, 1700/2100 2, 4, 12 1900, 1700 def, 700 a
SPRINT CDMA 10, 1 800, 1900 25, 26, 41 1900 g, 850, 2500
US CELLULAR CDMA 0, 1 850, 1900 5, 12 850, 700 ab

Still confused?

When buying an unlocked phone, you need to know which carriers it can work on. That cheat sheet above does so in about the simplest way. To use it, you first find a phone that you might want to buy. In that phone’s listing (probably in the specs section), you will want to find mentions of network compatibility, wireless bands, wireless frequencies, and anything else related to GSM, UMTS, HSPA, CDMA, and LTE. Because if you can find mentions of any of these things, there is a good chance you can take the information there and match it up to this cheat sheet to see if the phone works.

Take a look at Google’s listing for the Nexus 6P. Thankfully, Google says at the bottom of its network list that the 6P is an “unlocked phone and works on major carrier networks.” But if it didn’t say that, you could at least look at each bullet point in that section to decide if it works on the network for you.


Let’s say you want to take the Nexus 6P to Verizon. Well, you can see here that it supports CDMA bands/frequencies 0 and 1, along with LTE bands 2, 4, and 13. So, yep, it’ll work on Verizon!

Now, here is an example of an “unlocked” Galaxy S7 Edge over at eBay that’s up for sale. If you wanted to use this on Verizon, you can see right away that it doesn’t mention “CDMA” anywhere and can then rule it out as a possible option. But if you wanted to use it on AT&T, you can match up with the cheat sheet the fact that it supports GSM/HSPA 850 and 1900, along with LTE bands 2, 4, 12, and 17.

Screen Shot 2016-04-26 at 1.06.50 PM

Make sense now?

Where should I buy unlocked phones from?

Another good question that thankfully has a bunch of answers. Unlocked phones can be purchased all over the place! Many are often cheaper than what carriers will sell you a phone for, too. For example, I bought an unlocked Galaxy S7 the week it launched for $599 as an unlocked phone. That’s almost $100 cheaper than most US carriers were selling it for at full retail.

For general unlocked phone browsing, the best places to look are eBay’s daily deals section for phones, Amazon’s unlocked phones section, B&H PhotoExpansys USA, and Best Buy. eBay and Amazon almost always have the best pricing, but those others are reputable enough to take a look at for special deals.

Of course, all of Google’s phones are unlocked, so the Google Store is a good place to go. Motorola sells unlocked phones through it’s online store as well, as does HTC and Blackberry.

buying an unlocked phone

How do I sign-up for service with an unlocked phone?

If you already have active service with a carrier or prepaid outfit, you may not need to sign-up for anything. If you bought an unlocked phone and it is compatible with your current network and you have an active SIM card from your old phone, all you will need to do is slap that SIM card in your newly purchased unlocked phone and be on about your way. That’s the beauty of unlocked phones!

But let’s say you are starting fresh. With an unlocked phone, you are going to look for plans through carriers that involve BYOD (bring your own device) or are prepaid. Unlocked phones and prepaid plans are often synonymous with one another, but some carriers will allow you to bring over an unlocked phone and sign-up for non-prepaid service.

At this point, almost all of the major carriers offer some sort of BYOD or prepaid plan. Verizon does. AT&T does. T-Mobile does. And let’s not forget that there are dozens of prepaid services out there, like Cricket, MetroPCS, Tracfone, Ting, and Republic Wireless, to choose from.

You need to find the carrier that gets you the best coverage or the best value, or hopefully, some combination of both. Once you decide and have verified that your phone works with their network (cheat sheet to the rescue again!), you sign-up and order a SIM kit, because again, you need a SIM card in order for your phone to communicate with a wireless network.

When you SIM card arrives, most include instructions on how to get your phone up and running.

What are the downsides to buying an unlocked phone?

Honestly, I don’t think there are many, but here are a few things to keep in mind. When you buy an unlocked phone, you aren’t necessarily going to get much carrier support. Sure, you may find a service rep that will help you dial in the APN settings to get the phone attached to their network, but they won’t be there for hardware issues since they didn’t sell you the phone. That means if your phone does have an issue, you can’t just walk into AT&T or Verizon or T-Mobile stores and expect their service reps to make things right. That then means you will need to take up any issues through the online support of the phone’s manufacturer, which can certainly be a hit or miss situation depending on who made the phone.

You will need to read up on the warranty for the phone you are buying. That Galaxy S7 Edge listing I referenced above says that the phone comes with a 12-month Samsung warranty, but there isn’t a guarantee that all will. You want to make sure there is a warranty there should you run into issues down the road.

Finally, unlocked phones often have quirks because they are often times imported from other parts of the world. You may turn on a Galaxy S7 for the first time and see a greeting in a language you cannot understand. The “4G LTE” icon you are used to seeing on carrier-tied phones might say “4G” or “LTE” and look basic. You may find that your phone is missing apps or services that carrier-branded phones have (like Samsung Pay on imported Galaxy S6 and S7 phones).

buying an unlocked phone


If you have other questions, feel free to shoot those below and we’ll do our best to answer them!

Buying an Unlocked Smartphone is a post from: Droid Life

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Watch: 8 Minutes of Leaked Pokémon GO Beta Gameplay

Pokémon GO, the highly anticipated augmented reality game from Niantic Labs, is reported to launch this summer, but beta gameplay footage has made its way online ahead of schedule. In this 8-minute long video, we see a beginning trainer capture his first Pokémon, battle them, and how a player interacts with the world around him to find new Pokémon. 

As you will notice, a player can choose to utilize their smartphone’s camera to see a Pokémon creature on a real-life backdrop or can use the app’s built-in landscape. The gameplay does not change, regardless of which option you prefer. Using your phone’s camera will likely drain just a bit more juice than if you choose not to.

From what I can see, Niantic has stuck with the original lineup of Pokémon characters, leaving out the endless amount of expansion creatures. As someone who grew up collecting and trading the original series of cards, that excites me.

Rest assured that once we have official release date for Pokémon GO from Niantic, we will inform you.

Check out the beta footage before it is removed.

Watch: 8 Minutes of Leaked Pokémon GO Beta Gameplay is a post from: Droid Life

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Google Introducing 6-Second “Bumper” Ads to YouTube, Like Cute Little Haikus of Video Ads

Because you watch a ton of “snackable” video on your smartphones, Google is introducing a new ad format for advertisers to use on YouTube that only lasts 6 seconds. These new ad styles are called “Bumper” ads and Google is hoping that advertisers will use them to get creative in showing you commercials in between video binges. 

Google envisions a world where advertisers can use these 6-second Bumper ads like “little haikus of video ads,” or by cutting up longer ads into short parts that equal a whole as users watch video after video.

I know that advertising talk isn’t exactly interesting to most of us, since we would rather do without ads, but I’m just curious if a 6-second spot before a video is something that would offend or annoy you less. Would you be more inclined to sit through 6 seconds of advertising if that’s all it took to get you to your intended content?

Bumpers will arrive in May.

Via:  Inside AdWords

Google Introducing 6-Second “Bumper” Ads to YouTube, Like Cute Little Haikus of Video Ads is a post from: Droid Life

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YouTube App Refreshes Home Screen, Updated Recommendation System

Beginning today, users on Android and iOS will be treated to an updated Home screen experience when opening the YouTube app. While the overall layout does not appear to be changing drastically, users should notice larger video thumbnails while looking through search tabs, and YouTube details that its recommendation system has received a boost in intelligence. 

According to YouTube, the updated recommendation system is based on “deep neural network” technology, which means it can find patterns automatically to keep learning and improving as it continues to work. To put it more simply, if you watch a lot of baseball videos, you will see more baseball videos. As it is right now, users will always seem similar videos in the recommendations list, but a lot of that content might be years old. With this new system, YouTube’s goal is that recommended content will be much more fresh (newer).

These changes are rolling out right now for all mobile users.

Via: YouTube

YouTube App Refreshes Home Screen, Updated Recommendation System is a post from: Droid Life

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Google Introduces Snap-And-Go MODE Watch Bands for Android Wear

Google introduced MODE watch bands for Android Wear today, as an attempt to make swapping watch bands easier than ever on not only your smartwatch, but your regular timepiece as well. MODE watch bands include a snap-and-go mechanism that allows you to swap styles in a matter of seconds, without the need for a tool or awkward sideways slide. 

The MODE bands will come in either silicone ($49.99) or leather ($59.99), with each having a variety of color and size options. In total, there are 16 color variations and 4 sizes (16mm, 18mm, 20mm, and 22mm) made by Hadley Roma.

How do they work? The idea here is about as straight forward as it gets. On the under side of MODE bands, you have a hook, of sorts, that wraps over the top of a watch’s spring bar. Once in place, a metal slider is pushed to close off and secure the band in place. If that doesn’t make sense, here are a couple of images that are pretty self explanatory.

android wear mode bands

android wear mode bands android wear mode bands

See it? Hook the band over a spring bar and then push the slider to close it off. It’s that simple.

With the purchase of a MODE watch band, you also get a set of spring bars that better fit with the bands and a spring bar tool. So there is a bit of setup required initially, just to remove your old watch band, spring bars, and get the new spring bars in place, but once you have done that, you can get on with your swapping without hesitation.

Google says that other OEMs can adopt the MODE snap-and-go mechanism, as long as they source it from Google authorized vendors, pass a reliability test, and follow their brand guidelines. If anyone is interested, that could mean watch bands from luxury good makers to indie watch band start-ups or smartphone OEMs.

You can buy MODE watch bands today from the Google Store, Amazon, and Best Buy.

android wear mode android wear mode

android wear mode bands

Google Introduces Snap-And-Go MODE Watch Bands for Android Wear is a post from: Droid Life

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Coming Soon: Pay for Netflix Subscription With Google Play Billing

Listed as coming soon, users of Netflix will be able to pay for their subscription via Google Play billing, just as you would for Google Play Music or Google Play movie rentals. While this change will likely not affect current users, anyone who downloads Netflix from Google Play and wants to begin a subscription, this change will be quite convenient. 

In order to offer Google Play billing to potential customers, Netflix requires a new app permission, which is the reason for its latest app update. However, once updated, you won’t notice any specific billing changes. No word is provided as to when exactly Google Play billing will be offered.

In order to get ready for this update, if you want to start paying for Netflix from inside Google Play, go update your Netflix app.

What’s New

  • Bug fixes
  • Coming soon: Subscribe for Netflix via Google Play Billing (new permission required).

Play Link

Coming Soon: Pay for Netflix Subscription With Google Play Billing is a post from: Droid Life

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BlackBerry Priv’s Marshmallow Update Exits Beta, Available to Carrier Variants Starting May 3

Over the course of April, BlackBerry has been beta testing its Marshmallow update for the Priv. As of this morning, beta testing is complete, with BlackBerry announcing availability of the Marshmallow update for all Priv owners, with exception to those with a carrier variant. According to BlackBerry, carrier variants will begin to see Marshmallow starting May 3.

Shown in BlackBerry’s blog regarding the update, the changelog is quite large, including Doze, App Standby, an updated BlackBerry launcher, new emoji, updated keyboard gestures, clearer notification settings, and much more. To view the entire list of changes, follow the via link below or watch BlackBerry’s overview video.

BlackBerry states that the update is available starting right now for those who purchased through ShopBlackBerry.com. And again, don’t forget, carrier variants should begin to see the update on May 3.

Go get that Marshmallow.

Via: BlackBerry

BlackBerry Priv’s Marshmallow Update Exits Beta, Available to Carrier Variants Starting May 3 is a post from: Droid Life

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Withings Acquired by Nokia

This morning, Nokia announced that it had acquired Withings, maker of a variety of popular connected home and health accessories. You may know Withings for their smart WiFi scales, baby monitors, and “smart” watches, but they also make blood pressure monitors, thermometers, baby scales, and odd-but-kind-of-neat alarm clock/light thingies. 

The acquisition allows Nokia is hoping to continue a push into the connected health market, which is “rapidly growing.” Withings and its line of products will, of course, be at the center of this approach, which is to become the “world leader in the connected health market.”

The press release for the acquisition did not mention if any major changes will come once this has been completed. The purchase price was EUR 170 million, though.

Via:  Withings (PDF)

Withings Acquired by Nokia is a post from: Droid Life

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