Thursday, May 5, 2016

#TBT: It Won’t Happen, But a New Sony Xperia PLAY Would be Cool

At a time when mobile gaming was starting to get a real feel for itself, with new games launching all of the time on the Android Market (before it was Google Play), Sony introduced the Xperia PLAY at MWC in Barcelona. It was essentially a mobile PlayStation. Good idea, right?

The device launched on Verizon in the spring of 2011, but never really caught fire. It featured a 4″ display, 1GHz processor capable of producing 60FPS, 5MP camera, and ran Android 2.3. In 2011 speak, that isn’t all that bad. Imagine if Sony produced something like this in 2016? A PlayStation phone with QHD display, quad-core processor, 4GB of RAM, and the ability to stream Fallout 4 directly from your PlayStation 4 console at home. That would be dope. 

There are various workarounds to get Sony’s current Remote Play app working on basically any Android phone, but I’m talking about something official. An Xperia PLAY for 2016. Given Sony’s current stance in the smartphone market, it’s a safe bet we will never see this happen, but as a gamer, one can dream.

Did anyone here own the Xperia PLAY? If so, share your memories, fond or not-so-fond, below in the comments.

#TBT: It Won’t Happen, But a New Sony Xperia PLAY Would be Cool is a post from: Droid Life

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Video: Huawei P9 – A Week With the New Flagship

For the better part of the last week, I have had the Huawei P9 in house for testing. That may sound odd, since we don’t typically give much coverage to phones that will never arrive in the US, but with Huawei seemingly on the verge of making a big splash here, we wanted to see what their non-Nexus flagships are like. We wanted to see if their Android skin is as bad as its reputation, if the hardware is as good (or better) than that of the 6P, and also begin to familiarize ourselves with the world’s new number 3 phone manufacturer.

The video below will walk you through all of this, but to summarize, I’ll just say this – the software is worse than expected, but the hardware might be the best I’ve held this year. 

Sure, the design of the Huawei P9 is somewhat iPhone-esque, but it also has its own personality with mixture of glass and metal, dual camera setup, and combination of colors. The build and design are superb, as is the in-hand feel, size, and placement of buttons. Honestly, I would argue that this phone is more of a joy to hold than the Galaxy S7. Call me crazy! There is some magic here and I now wish more than ever that Huawei was building another Nexus.

Unfortunately for that beautiful body, there are major problems here that all stem from Huawei’s insanely terrible Android skin. I believe it’s called EMUI and this is version 4.1. Outside of the fact that it looks like an iOS knock-off, my major beef (which makes this an unusable Android experience) is how it handles notifications. Or maybe that’s better put – how it doesn’t handle notifications. In fact, this phone is so poor with notifications that even iPhone users would be shaking their heads at whatever Huawei has cooked up here.

huawei p9

From the lack of notification access on the lock screen (you can’t even pull the notification bar down) to the timeline layout and the lack of standard Android icons in the status bar, it’s a disaster. It took me an hour and a chat with a Huawei employee to get notifications to even show on the lock screen in any way. That meant tweaking power settings and permissions and I don’t even know what else, all on an individual app basis. It’s so bad, I installed a 3rd party lock screen for the first time in like 5 years.

But this skin is also such an aggressive service killer, probably in the name of extending battery life, that it often just breaks everything you spent hours setting up. Take LastPass for example, an app that needs system notification access to work properly. This phone, every hour or so, just kills that access and then leaves LastPass as a non-working service. It keeps doing the same to that 3rd party lock screen app I mentioned as well.

If you can somehow ignore the software (and you won’t be able to), I do think most would really enjoy the hardware. Plus, the dual camera setup is capable of taking some lovely pictures, especially that monochrome shooter. In the end, I can’t help but be mostly excited over Huawei making strides here in the US, but man, they need to clean up this software. They certainly know how to do hardware already.

huawei p9

huawei p9

huawei p9

huawei p9

huawei p9

Video: Huawei P9 – A Week With the New Flagship is a post from: Droid Life

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DEAL: Buy a Galaxy S7 From Costco, Get a Free 32″ Samsung HDTV

How’s this for a deal? For a limited time, if you walk into your local Costco and activate a Galaxy S7 on Verizon, AT&T, or T-Mobile with a device payment plan, you will also walk out with a Samsung-made 32″ HD television. Not too shabby, right?

In addition to the television, Costco is also bundling in a $25 Costco Cash card, as well as a Member Exclusive 5,200mAh portable battery. Seriously, Costco is raining down goodies for those that purchase this really good smartphone. 

The only real downside to this deal is the carrier device payment plan. We are not exactly fans of that option, but if purchasing a $600+ smartphone at full retail just isn’t in the cards for you, this is a solid option. Not only are you getting a new phone for a decently low monthly rate, but you are also getting a new TV for the bedroom, $25 to spend however you see fit inside of Costco, and a portable battery. That’s pretty good.

This promotion is limited to in-store shoppers, so gather your Costco card, prepare for yummy churros, and take advantage of it.

Via: Costco

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T-Mobile Reportedly Content With Offering Unlimited Data Plan

Back in November of 2015, T-Mobile raised the price of its unlimited data plan, alongside the announcements of UnCarrier X. With a price increase of $15, bringing the monthly total to $90 for unlimited data, talk and text, T-Mobile also threw in a larger bucket of data for those who want to tether. According to analysts from Jefferies, a financial analyst firm, T-Mobile management is happy with where the company sits currently, and does not view itself as a “price discounter.” 

With the introduction of Binge On and Music Freedom, T-Mobile has apparently not seen much strain on its network, even from those with an active unlimited plan. Binge On is the feature that allows customers to stream video from select services on the T-Mobile network without incurring any data charges. While T-Mobile can still be one of the only major carriers in the US to actively promote an unlimited plan, Binge On is automatically turned on once a line is activated. Only manually turning the feature off will deactivate it. Essentially, T-Mobile is offering an unlimited plan and charging you $90 a month for it, but customers aren’t exactly taking complete advantage of it.

As stated by T-Mobile’s COO, Michael Sievert, “We’re really proud to be able to offer unlimited. We’ve got the network that has the capacity and we don’t have any plans to change the fact that we offer unlimited.” Continuing, Sievert says, “Keep in mind that offering unlimited has become much more network efficient since the launch of Binge On because the vast majority of our unlimited customers keep their Binge On control activated for a number of reasons, including the speed and reliability of the rest of their data.”

For T-Mobile, all of this adds up to delivering these unlimited data plans with much better network efficiency. According to T-Mobile’s CTO, Neville Ray, Binge On has reduced overall network traffic by 10 percent.

For customers with unlimited on T-Mobile, be sure you check your monthly bill to see just how much data you are using. If you really don’t need unlimited, then you shouldn’t be paying for it. Binge On and Music Freedom are available to all T-Mobile customers, so if a bulk of your usage comes from Netflix and YouTube, you might as well be paying less each month.

Via: Fierce Wireless

T-Mobile Reportedly Content With Offering Unlimited Data Plan is a post from: Droid Life

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Samsung Confirms Wireless Gear IconX Buds, Gear Fit 2 on S Health Site

Last week, we saw the first photos of two new Samsung wearables dubbed Gear Fit 2 and Gear IconX. Neither has been announced, but Samsung did us a favor and confirmed each device by listing them as available supported accessories for their S Health app.

The S Health website that outed each doesn’t list any details for either device, but we do get official press images. As you can see from the image up top of the Gear IconX, these are indeed wireless earbuds that should make haters of standard Bluetooth bud wires incredibly happy. I, for one, cannot wait to give these a shot during workouts. 

And the Gear Fit 2, assuming it is anything like the original Gear Fit, should be an improved fitness band/tracker. The image below, along with the listing on the S Health site, show a device that seems to have grown in width and presence on the wrist. That probably means we’ll get a bigger, better display and GPS unit inside. While that’s all good, here’s to hoping Samsung improves the overall experience over the first Fit, which was not exactly a device we would ever recommend.

samsung gear fit 2

Anyone interested in either device?

Via:  Samsung | Mobile Bulgaria

Samsung Confirms Wireless Gear IconX Buds, Gear Fit 2 on S Health Site is a post from: Droid Life

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Rockstar Games Hosting Sale on Many Titles Via Google Play

For a limited time, you can pick up six different games from Rockstar on Google Play, all marked down from their original pricing. If you are a big Grand Theft Auto fan, Rockstar has all of the GTA titles marked down, including Vice City for $3, San Andreas for $4, and GTA III for $3. If GTA isn’t your thing, Max Payne is also on sale for $2.

All of these titles have been optimized to work on touchscreen devices, and having played most of them myself, I can vouch for their awesomeness. Vice City looks and sounds incredible, while CJ rolling around in a low-rider through the streets of Los Santos never gets old.

Take a look at the complete list of sales below.

Games on Sale

Have at ’em!

Rockstar Games Hosting Sale on Many Titles Via Google Play is a post from: Droid Life

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HTC 10 Now Available at Verizon, Payments Start at $14/Month

Starting right now, anyone can walk into a Verizon store or head online and purchase the HTC 10. No more pre-orders. Announced on April 12, with pre-orders kicked off on the same day via the HTC online store, folks who pre-ordered through Verizon had to wait until April 29, and shipments followed earlier this week.

As listed on Verizon’s website, the HTC 10 will cost you an estimated $220 down on a two-year agreement, plus about $14/month for 24 months of device payments. If you have excellent credit, which a small part of the US population has, you can get the phone for $0 down and 24 monthly payments of $23.

Right now, Verizon and HTC are offering $100 off of the phone, bringing its full retail price to $548. Once this promotion ends on May 9, it goes up to $648. Note, if you purchase the phone on HTC’s website, the price is listed at $699.

If you have not already, check out our HTC 10 review here.

Verizon Link

HTC 10 Now Available at Verizon, Payments Start at $14/Month is a post from: Droid Life

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Netflix Now Offers Cellular Data Controls for Quality

After admitting that it had been purposely throttling the hell out of video streams to AT&T and Verizon customers without their knowledge as a way to save them from themselves and the overpriced, data lame plans they had been forced into in recent years, Netflix is now ready to let those customers control their own fate. Through simultaneous blog posts and app updates released this morning, Netflix customers across the globe can control cellular data usage on a number of levels. 

Out of the box, Netflix is set to an “Automatic” setting, which sets the quality of Netflix streams to usage of about 1GB of data per 3 hours streamed (600kb/s). Netflix says that this setting “balances good video quality with lower data usage” while helping you avoid crushing the monthly data bucket that greedy US carriers give you.

If you have a large data bucket and aren’t worried about hitting your cap, you can also choose from Low, Medium, High, and Unlimited settings. At Low, you will use about 1GB per 4 hours. At Medium, you are looking at about 1GB per 2 hours. At High, the quality is high enough to run you through 1GB in 1 hour. And at Unlimited, Netflix is only going to warn you that an unlimited data plan is probably required here.

Keep in mind that you can also restrict the app to an Off setting that only lets you watch Netflix on WiFi.

To tweak all of this, head into the Netflix app, swipe out the side menu, jump into App Settings, and then look for the “Cellular Data Usage” section.

The app update is rolling out now, but if you aren’t seeing it, feel free to grab the .apk below for sideloading.

Play Link | Download Link (.apk)

netflix android netflix android-2

Via:  Netflix

Netflix Now Offers Cellular Data Controls for Quality is a post from: Droid Life

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Question of the Day: Do You Own a Fitness Band, Tracker, or Wearable?

Yesterday, Fitbit reported earnings that beat analysts expectations while announcing that the wearable company sold close to 5 million devices. Sure, their stock is getting hammered today because their outlook isn’t great, but with those kinds of sales figures, it’s clear that people are still very much interested in tracking fitness, steps, running, sleep, etc. So, because we haven’t ever asked this question, it’s time to ask if any of you own or plan to own a fitness tracker of some kind. 

As long-time readers will know, I have worn one for years, mostly because I have this odd idea in the back of my mind that the data will some day come in handy. I don’t necessarily wear one because I think it’s going to motivate me to workout. No, I am certainly aware of what it takes to get my blogger ass in shape. But I like seeing the numbers and the sleep tracking, and am hopeful that it’ll all give some insight into my later-in-life health. Fitness bands are also the best alarms ever.

What about you, though? Are you wearing a fitness band or tracker of some sort? If so, which one? Also if so, why? Are you doing it for motivation to get in shape? Do you just like seeing the numbers in a fancy fitness tracking app? Let us know!

Question of the Day: Do You Own a Fitness Band, Tracker, or Wearable? is a post from: Droid Life

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