• Devices

    by Published on 01-20-2017 08:00 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices

    It's not a smartphone in the way that you'd think, but it certainly is clever!

    Using a Raspberry Pi and a collection of cheap components from eBay, someone has built the rather unique mobile phone that you see above. Not everything is working just yet, but here's what's planned:

    Calling and SMS
    This is the first functionality to be implemented, and will be considered crucial in the development.

    Basic apps
    Alarm clock, calendar, calculator, phone book, file browser, web browser and music player.

    Your own apps
    SDK will be provided and it will be developer-friendly. The laand I'll personally expect, if not at least aid with, social media apps - for a good start, since those are the apps people spend most time in.

    Linux software
    Since it's a computer after all, you can run ARM compatible (thus, almost all) Linux programs on it. A Raspberry Pi can give you a desktop with a monitor, keyboard and a mouse? This phone can, too! You like to use SSH, like me? It's going to be available!

    Lots of fun, a nice hobby for many and well-paying work for some, this phone can do it too.

    Security and privacy
    One of the features that isn't typically provided but can mean anything from something simply bringing peace of mind to a matter of life and death.

    There'll be a sensor port available for connecting anything you think could add useful functions to your phone. Want to wake up when the sun rises? Add a light sensor! An additional display for notifications? Easy, connect and write code! A Geiger counter? You can have that, too!
    Note that English might not be the project leader's first language...

    My immediate question was about the cellular radio, the proprietary silicon and firmware that would connect this thing to a mobile network. It turns out that there are off-the-shelf parts for that too. The project references a wireless module from a company called SIMCom called the SIM800, allowing the user to detect GSM jamming, spoofed cellular towers and compromised GSM encryption. None of this even sounds legal but apparently it is—at least in China, where SIMCom is based.

    For more on the ZeroPhone project, see the links immediately below.

    Source: Hackaday via reddit

    by Published on 01-19-2017 08:00 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices,
    3. Rumors

    I'm quite certain that "stock Android" doesn't even exist anymore, but if a new report by The Information (via The Verge) turns out to be true, it will nonetheless be good news for Android users on a budget.

    In case you didn't know, Android One is an initiative by Google originally targeted for the developing world. Just as the Nexus program was once thought of as a reference device for app developers, Android One is likewise meant to standardize hardware and software for low-end phones. For example, first-generation Android One phones in India had the following minimum specifications:

    4.5 inch (480 x 854 pixels) IPS display
    1.3 GHz quad-core MediaTek processor
    1 GB of RAM / 4 GB of storage
    Up to 32 GB of expandable storage via microSD
    5 megapixel rear camera with LED flash / 2 megapixel front camera
    Wi-Fi, 3G, GPRS/EDGE, Bluetooth, GPS
    1700 mAh battery

    Software too is standardized—and this for me is the best thing about Android One. Under the program neither OEMs nor operators are allowed to customize the UI (though carriers can add their own apps), and Google itself handles security and OS updates directly.

    For us here in the west Android One would mean that the cheap prepaid phone you get at your local drug store or gas station doesn't necessarily have to suck. I have no issues with that.

    Look for Android One devices to appear in U.S. sales channels this summer.

    Source: The Verge

    by Published on 01-18-2017 08:30 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices,
    3. Rumors

    According to TheLeaker.com—once again, that's TheLeaker.com—this is one of three LG-made smartwatches passed through the FCC, widely believed to be the new, possibly Google or even Nexus-branded wearables running Android Wear 2.0. Ars Technica reports the specs of the watches to be as follows:

    10.8mm thick body
    1.2 inch 360×360 circular P-OLED display
    512MB of RAM / 4GB of storage
    240mAh battery
    IP67 ingress rating
    Bluetooth & WiFi

    14.2mm thick
    1.38-inch, 480×480 circular P-OLED display
    768MB of RAM / 4GB of storage
    420mAh battery
    IP68 ingress rating
    Heart rate sensor
    Bluetooth & WiFi
    GPS, NFC

    Same as W280, plus 3G & LTE data (?)

    Meanwhile, at least one Apple blog is up in arms over an additional rumour that these LG watches will, like the Apple Watch, have a digital crown. Not only is that a terrible idea, it's a terrible idea that would make these devices incompatible with other, already-announced watches also running the new version of Android Wear.

    Whatever the case, all will apparently be revealed on February 9th—that's according to leaker Evan Blass who, in case you were wondering, has no affiliation with TheLeaker.com—once again, that's TheLeaker.com

    Sources: 9to5Mac, Ars Technica, TheLeaker.com, The Leaker.com, VentureBeat

    by Published on 01-16-2017 08:00 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices,
    3. Rumors

    You may (and should) know Andy Rubin as the Father of Android. Both Rubin and Android were acquired by Google as a package deal in 2005, where Rubin would remain in charge of what would become the world's most popular OS until his departure in 2014. Prior to that Rubin was a co-founder of Danger, Inc., responsible for the Fido hiptop and T-Mobile Sidekick. I'd go out on a limb and call those pre-iPhone devices smartphones as well; it had full PIM support, a web browser and shipped with the first onboard app store that I can recall.

    The history lesson is necessary, because Rubin has a new company and new products set for release this year, and if the guy's track record is any indication then we should probably pay attention.

    Bloomberg reports that Rubin has registered Essential Products, Inc. with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, listing smartphones, tablets and "computer operating software for mobile phones" as its goods and services on offer. What will differentiate these new products from what's already on the market?

    Rubin is convinced AI is the next big change to ripple through the technology industry. "New computing platforms happen every ten to twelve years," he said at the Bloomberg Technology Conference in June. "What’s the next platform?... It’s about data and people training AI systems to learn."
    The centrepiece of Essential's product line is said to be a high-end flagship smartphone; at least one prototype has a screen larger than an iPhone 7 Plus but in a smaller form factor, thanks to a lack of bezels, and also a ceramic shell. The phone is rumoured to launch by Q3 this year; yours truly will be watching with great interest for further news.

    Source: Bloomberg

    by Published on 01-13-2017 07:00 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices,
    3. Rumors

    Even if we can't get the Xiaomi Mi Mix in this part of the world, we can at least thank that innovative device for kicking off a wider design trend of smartphones with impossibly-small bezels.

    According to Forbes, this year's Samsung Galaxy S8 is rumoured to have a 90% screen-to-body-ratio. Apple will almost certainly have an all-new design for its 10th anniversary iPhone this fall. And LG? Well, what you're looking at above is a teaser for the LG G6.

    The practical benefits of smartphones with smaller bezels should be obvious—just like LG says, you can fit more screen into a smaller body. And as the Mi Mix has very clearly demonstrated, such devices have the added benefit of being quite fetching as well. They might call for a rethink of your next smartphone case; other than that I can honestly see no downsides to the idea.

    2016 saw the death of the headphone jack, at least on the iPhone, which even iVerge called user-hostile. And thin phones with overpowered screens and insufficient batteries also continue to be a thing that no one asked for. As for bezels, bezels are for watches, and the less bezel there is on my next phone the better.

    Source: Forbes

    by Published on 01-12-2017 08:00 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices

    The bad news is that it's only available in China. The good news is that there's something else in the works, hopefully for Western markets.

    HMD Global, "The (new) Home of Nokia phones", is a company partly staffed by old-guard Nokia executives, now freed from the terms of their long and contentious partnership with Microsoft to manufacture smartphones under the Nokia brand. Before Christmas they released an old-school candy bar dumb phone, the Nokia 150; this month they've announced what this longtime Nokia fan has pined for since 2010, their first proper Android-powered smartphone.

    Notable specs:

    5.5 inch Full HD display
    Snapdragon 430 processor
    4 GB of RAM / 64 GB of storage
    16 MP rear camera / 8 MP front camera
    Aluminum unibody design
    "Latest" version of Android
    Price: 1,699 CNY ($245 USD)

    Ron Amadeo of Ars Technica is quick to point out that the Nokia 6 is technically not the company's first Android-powered device:

    The tag line at Nokia.com calls the Nokia 6 "The first Nokia smartphone powered by Android." HMD might want to brush up on a little Nokia history, though, since this is more like the third Nokia Android phone. The first Nokia Android phones were the "X" line released in February 2014. The technically-still-independent company took an AOSP build and made the UI look a lot like Windows Phone, replacing the Google services with Microsoft ones and creating a "Nokia Store" for apps. A few months later, now under Microsoft rule, Nokia released another Android phone called the "Nokia X2." This took the same Microsoft-y AOSP concept and gave it some updated specs.
    Fair point, I guess, though neither of those devices were available anywhere near Canada.

    If the China-only release of the Nokia 6 has you down, you may be interested in a story from The Verge about HMD planning an announcement for this year's Mobile World Congress. And if you're wondering whether the brand equity and storied history of Nokia is enough to make it a relevant player in 2017, I'm wondering about that myself...

    Sources: HMD Global via Ars Technica, The Verge

    by Published on 01-11-2017 08:00 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices

    Though vague reassurances have been made that their smartwatches will continue to be supported through 2017, a lot of Pebblers have decided to move on. Some have chosen the path of least resistance—an Apple Watch or, in my case, Android Wear. Others are less willing to compromise on battery life, having enjoyed up to a week between charges on their Pebble. For them, the Vector seemed like a good fit—offering an astounding 30-day battery life and familiar monochrome display.

    Unfortunately, just as Vector was starting to gain traction as a Pebble replacement, Fitbit went out and bought them too.

    The story broke yesterday on TechCrunch:

    Vector has said there will be no new products bearing the Vector name, but that existing products will continue to work, as will the associated software, although it will no longer be developed. It’s released an extensive FAQ about what will happen next for customers.

    Their customer support team will continue to respond to customers via a Help Page and warranties will be honored.
    For Pebblers, this is an all-too-familiar refrain.

    You could interpret this acquisition as yet another sign of a forthcoming Fitbit smartwatch—The Verge reports that an app store is also in the works. But if ever such a product comes to market I doubt it will have much support from former Pebble users.

    Sources: TechCrunch via reddit, The Verge

    by Published on 01-10-2017 08:00 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices,
    3. Rumors

    Device leaks can come from anywhere, and this one was found on OLX.ro, a Romanian Internet trading post. The listing has since been taken down, but not before it caught the attention of r/Android, where it was dutifully archived for discussion.

    If the seller is (was) to be believed, this is a prototype Motorola G5 Plus, with specs as follows:

    5.5 inch Full HD display @ 480 dpi
    13 megapixel rear-facing / 5 megapixel front-facing cameras
    Snapdragon 625 v2.0 processor
    Adreno 506 GPU
    32 GB storage / 4 GB RAM
    3,080 mAh battery
    Fingerprint sensor
    Android 7.0 Nougat

    In case you were wondering, there is indeed a headphone jack—and also a micro-USB port; it may not be the final design for the device.

    Those who wish to investigate further can see more images of the prototype here and an archive of the full listing here.

    Source: reddit

    by Published on 01-09-2017 08:00 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices

    The fact of the matter is that back in the day this Canadian could only really muse on the first iPhone from afar—the long queues at Apple stores wouldn't be a thing in this country until 2008's iPhone 3G.

    Over the course of today I expect there to be no shortage of tributes and retrospectives; look for those in this afternoon's news round-up. Until then, for some proper U.S. perspective you'll just have to make do with Apple CEO Tim Cook:

    January 9 marks the tenth anniversary of iPhone’s blockbuster debut. At Macworld 2007 in San Francisco, Steve Jobs introduced the world to iPhone as three products in one — “a widescreen iPod with touch controls, a revolutionary mobile phone and a breakthrough internet communications device.” In the ten years since, iPhone has enriched the lives of people around the world with over one billion units sold. It quickly grew into a revolutionary platform for hardware, software and services integration, and inspired new products, including iPad and Apple Watch, along with millions of apps that have become essential to people’s daily lives.

    “iPhone is an essential part of our customers' lives, and today more than ever it is redefining the way we communicate, entertain, work and live,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO. “iPhone set the standard for mobile computing in its first decade and we are just getting started. The best is yet to come.”
    Shout-outs to anyone still hanging on to their original iPhone unlimited data plan from AT&T...!

    Source: Apple

    by Published on 01-06-2017 08:00 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices,
    3. Reviews and Hands-on
    Article Preview

    Yesterday I posted a video by Mr. Mobile about the BlackBerry Mercury; today I'm doing the same for the other phones announced at CES 2017, courtesy of an extensive list published by CNET.

    The only problem with that list is that they've made it into an annoying slideshow to sell more ad space. So, as a public service to you, I went out and found a video for each phone from my favourite YouTubers—for lip service's sake, the first video is by CNET themselves. Enjoy! ...
    by Published on 01-05-2017 08:00 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices

    Here's Michael Fisher and the first BlackBerry with a physical keyboard from the company's new hardware partner, TCL. Judging by the coverage it got around the web yesterday, it's a pretty big deal.

    Set to make its proper debut at Mobile World Congress next month, the Mercury—which might end up being called the DTEK70 upon release—will be BlackBerry's fourth Android-powered phone. Like the Priv, the keyboard is capacitive and can be used as a trackpad. And there's a new innovation as well: the space bar does double duty as a fingerprint reader.

    In terms of specs here's what Mobile Syrup is able to confirm:

    Android OS
    Aluminum frame
    4.5-inch display with a 3:2 aspect ratio
    Soft textured rubberized back
    Physical QWERTY keyboard with capacitive keys, 4GB RAM
    Space bar doubles as a fingerprint sensor
    3.5mm headphone jack (!)
    Rear and front-facing camera with flash
    Stereo speaker on the bottom
    Bluetooth 4.2
    Convenience key
    USB-C port
    slot for a nano SIM and microSD card

    It's encouraging to see a new BlackBerry device that isn't a rebranded Alcatel Idol. All signs point to the Mercury being a new flagship for the company; I wonder how much they're going to sell it for...

    Coverage: Android Police, Mobile Syrup, XDA

    by Published on 01-04-2017 08:30 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices,
    3. Reviews and Hands-on
    Article Preview

    One of these things is not like the other...

    Over the weekend I tried out an ASUS ZenWatch 3. You'll notice from the photo that the plastic screen protector is still on it; that's because it's going back to Best Buy—a decision I made almost immediately after putting it on my wrist.

    Keep in mind that these harsh words coming from someone who, over the latter part of 2016, has somehow become a smartwatch snob, if such a thing even exists. I have a growing appreciation and respect for traditional watches but I also want notifications on my wrist.

    Through that very specific lens I'm going to bash this ASUS, and bash it hard. ...
    by Published on 01-03-2017 08:00 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices,
    3. Apps

    Most Android users turn to custom ROMs when their device is no longer updated by the manufacturer. I've done things a little differently, flashing a ROM on my OnePlus 3 to avoid an update. That ROM is Sultanxda's spin of CyanogenMod 13, and so far it's pretty great.

    OnePlus promised owners of its 3 and 3T models an update to Android 7 (Nougat) before the end of 2016 and, to their credit, a notification of said update appeared on my phone late last week. The only problem is, I'm not especially thrilled about Nougat—I tried the stock Android 7 ROM on my Nexus 9 tablet last September and was surprised to find that I couldn't change the hosts file with AdAway. That issue might well have been fixed by now, or it could have been a one-off problem specific to that installation; even so, I don't currently desire any of the features that Nougat has to offer.

    I could have just stuck it out with the Marshmallow version of Oxygen, which for the past six months has served me very well. But instead I took the opportunity to flash Sultan's ROM, and I'm glad that I did.

    For starters, the ROM seems somehow quicker than Oxygen OS, and Oxygen is certainly no slouch when it comes to performance. Then there's the added value of CyanogenMod extras—a file manager, screen recorder, audio equalizer... and what I've missed more than anything else: The CyanogenMod Theme Engine. Oxygen's dark mode is better than nothing, but it's no match for the ability to theme select apps and your system's UI. To get you started, the ROM includes Cyanogen's HexoLibre Theme, pictured above.

    There are, of course, a few minor headaches associated with the installation of any custom ROM. You'll have to flash a Google apps package separately, which will include at least a few AOSP packages that you're likely to never use (they can at least be "frozen" with Titanium Backup). In the case of Sultan's ROM I also had to flash a custom firmware before the actual ROM would take.

    Even with all that, plus the added annoyance of having to reset two Android Wear smartwatches, it was worth it. I now hold in my hands what feels like an entirely new phone, along with a reminder of just how powerful and flexible Android can be. If you're interested in this excellent custom ROM, links from XDA are immediately below.

    Links: Sultan's ROM for the OnePlus 3 / OnePlus 3T

    by Published on 12-30-2016 08:30 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices,
    3. Commentary and Analysis

    My final submission for 2016 will not be an arbitrary list of top 5 or top 10 devices, but instead a consideration of hardware trends I've observed over the past year. It's by no means complete, just the things that spring immediately to mind.

    The Endangered Audio Jack

    The good news, for Apple's stockholders at least, is that iPhone 7 owners seem perfectly willing to go without the standard audio jack that remains on almost every other phone currently on the market—the Moto Z is also missing the 3.5mm plug, but I've honestly never seen one in use outside of a Motorola boardroom.

    There are rumours that next year's Galaxy S8 won't have an audio jack, either. But why? The only justification I can think of is the continuing obsession with impossibly-thin phones that nobody asked for.

    Dual Cameras

    Smartphone OEMs have at least innovated their way around the dilemma of putting a zoom lens on an impossibly-thin phone. What started on the LG G5 was ultimately brought to the masses on the iPhone 7 Plus. Huawei's P9 also has two cameras, but for a different purpose—the two sensors capture different colour information to produce a more vivid result.

    Anyway, the trend of dual-camera smartphones is something I expected to continue into 2017. But there's actually another way to put a zoom lens on an impossibly-thin phone: slap an actual optical zoom onto the back, and throw in a Hasselblad logo for good measure.


    Modular phones were also a trend in 2016, but I'm not yet convinced that it's going to stick. A pair of new Moto mods were announced earlier this month, but LG's Friends have expanded to include a slew of decidedly non-modular accessories. Even more telling is that leaked renders of next year's LG G6 show no signs of any modularity whatsoever.

    And let's not forget that Google's own modularity experiment, Project Ara, is dead.

    Catching Up

    I'll close off by mentioning an innovation from last year that I didn't get to enjoy until 2016. Dual SIM support made an early appearance on the ASUS ZenFone 2, and was also a feature on 2015's OnePlus 2. This infrequent world traveller got to use it on his OnePlus 3 over the summer, and as a fan of cheap local SIMs I can safely say it's a feature that I'll no longer be able to do without.

    Feel free to add your favourite smartphone innovations of 2016 below!

    by Published on 12-23-2016 08:00 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices

    If your smartphone takes a tumble this holiday season just remember, it could be much worse—it could be in the hands of this guy.

    With the contentious results of a Nexus 6P bend test as his first claim to fame, "Jerry" of JerryRigEverything has continued to make a name for himself tearing down and tearing apart the most sought-after smartphones on the market.

    And those poor phones... Want to see a utility knife applied to the back of an HTC 10, or the camera glass of an iPhone 7? To be honest, me neither, but here we are. There is at least something instructive amidst all the destruction—the most and least repairable phones of the year are also discussed in the video.

    For those who can't bear to watch, here's a shortlist of winners and losers for 2016:

    Most Durable: HTC 10
    Honorable Mention: OnePlus 3
    Least Durable: NextBit Robin

    Most Repairable: Google Pixel
    Honorable Mention: LG V20
    Least Repairable: HTC 10

    Most Innovative: Xiaomi Mi Mix
    Lease Innovative: iPhone 7

    LG G5: Advertising Fail
    Note 7: A series of unfortunate events.

    Sorry that I don't have a more heartwarming holiday post, but with a glut of year-end retrospectives due next week I thought I should get the most gruesome one out of the way. Hope everyone has a safe and happy holiday, and ditto for your phones. Yours truly will be back on duty on Wednesday, December 28th.

    by Published on 12-22-2016 08:00 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices

    You're not alone.

    There is a growing number of reports by users on reddit about some sort of bug in the Huawei-made Nexus 6P, causing devices to shut down prematurely before their batteries are fully drained. The exact cause of the bug remains unclear, even to the clever folks at XDA:

    Some users speculate that the issue is hardware related, while some blame the Android Nougat update for introducing the bug. An open issue was created on the AOSP Issue Tracker last month which has since been starred by over 1,200 users and has had dozens of comments corroborating the bug’s existence.
    If you were wondering, Google has set the status of the issue to "assigned" but its priority to "small", which isn't exactly encouraging.

    Though they're no longer sold by Google directly there are still new, unlocked 6Ps on the market; if you were thinking of purchasing one you might want to hold off.

    And if you're stuck with an affected model this might be a good opportunity to delve into the wonderful world of Android modding—if nothing else, rolling back to Marshmallow might help.

    Sources: AOSP Issue Tracker, reddit, XDA

    by Published on 12-21-2016 08:00 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices,
    3. Apps

    Here's Michael Fisher with his video review of Samsung's Gear S3, Frontier Edition. If my YouTube feed is any indication, this is the most sought-after smartwatch of the holiday season. It's also a great time to buy, with both Amazon.com and Best Buy Canada currently selling the Frontier Edition of the watch at discounted prices—$299 USD and $400 CAD, respectively.

    A standout among the Gear S3's tricks (and there are a lot of them) is the ability to tap and pay with your watch, even when paired to a non-Samsung phone and even at an olde-tyme magnetic stripe terminal. And here's where I've got some bad news for you: If you're in Canada and want to use a Gear S3 for wrist-based payments you'd better have one of the select few CIBC credit cards currently supported by Samsung Pay.

    Samsung phone owners with root will already know that Samsung Pay doesn't work anywhere—at least that's what I gather from this Change.org petition. What's not so clear to me is whether or not Samsung Pay will work on a Samsung watch that's paired to a rooted phone; I guess it would depend if the Samsung Gear Manager app has the ability to detect root.

    Are there any Gear owners with rooted phones able to weigh in on this?

    Links: Amazon.com, Best Buy Canada, Change.org, Samsung Canada

    by Published on 12-20-2016 08:30 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices

    So this cheerleader for Team Android has done the unthinkable: he's broken up his Nexus collection with an eBay auction that ended Sunday night. Out the door yesterday was shamu, an all-too appropriate codename for the gargantuan Moto-made Nexus 6.

    I never really liked the Moto Nexus. In one of my more popular contributions here I wrote that Google had jumped the shark—that is, that the recipe that made 2013's LG Nexus 5 so great was thrown out the window in favour of something else that was clearly never meant to be a Nexus in the first place.

    You'll recall that 2013 also saw the release of the OnePlus One. That phone was much more the spiritual successor of the Nexus 5—for me, anyway—and was my sidearm of choice until the following summer when its disappointing follow-up, the OnePlus 2, was announced. Seeing no other available upgrade I reluctantly purchased a Moto Nexus, regretting the decision before I even opened the box.

    Through that fall and winter I tried as best I could to fit the oversized phone into my life. The killing blow for our relationship was dealt when I visited Japan to ring in 2016, only to find that, for whatever reason, the Moto Nexus wouldn't give me LTE data with a local SIM card. When we got home and I eventually bought the Huawei 6P (I am a Nexus fanboy, after all) I tried pawning the Moto off on my girlfriend but she would have none of it, being perfectly content with her OnePlus One. So into a drawer went shamu, never again to see light of day, until its recent eBay photo shoot. But it's infamous legacy lives on in these Howard Forums posts:

    Moto Nexus: The Story of Shamu in 90 Seconds
    Nexus Jumps The Shark
    Hell Freezes Over, Currie Gets a Moto Nexus.
    Just How Big is the Nexus 6?
    I Hate This Phone, All of You and Myself Most of All

    by Published on 12-16-2016 08:00 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices,
    3. Tips

    I don't think I ever got around to reporting on Amazon's Prime Edition of the BLU R1 HD; thanks to Brad Linder at Liliputing for reminding me of its existence. It is indeed a $50 USD unlocked Android phone—some specs:

    5 inch HD display with Gorilla Glass 3
    1.3 GHz quad-core MediaTek 6735 ARM Cortex processor
    Android 6.0 Marshmallow
    8GB storage / 1GB RAM
    8MP rear camera / 5MP front camera with LED flash
    Dual SIM and MicroSD support for up to 64 GB of expandable storage
    4G LTE plus GSM

    The catch? Lock screen ads from Amazon. And even worse, it was found that the phone was secretly sending text messages and other personal information to a server in China. Amazon actually stopped selling the R1 HD until the spyware was removed. With assurances from BLU's CEO that the backdoor is gone, the phone is now back in stock.

    So about the lock screen ads... those l33t [email protected] over at XDA have figured out a way to unlock the device's bootloader and install a custom recovery—paving the way for SuperSU and AdAway or, if you prefer, a custom ROM.

    The ad-supported R1 HD unfortunately won't ship to Canada; otherwise I would gladly have a go and report my findings for you all here. Any of our American friends up for the challenge?

    Sources: Liliputing (1) (2), XDA (1) (2)

    by Published on 12-14-2016 08:30 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices,
    3. Reviews and Hands-on
    Article Preview

    Here's a quick tour of the Android Wear-powered Casio WSD-F10, with some random observations along the way.

    I'll say this right off the bat: my first impressions of this smartwatch were not great. That screen is an LCD panel, and in this photo it's actually in standby ("always on") mode. That can't be great for battery, and it isn't—the watch won't even last two days on a single charge. You'll also notice the flat tire at the bottom of the screen; it is not an ambient light sensor, and is instead there to make room for the microphone assembly (I think), which includes the black plastic slot up against the strap.

    There's one more thing that, once I show it to you, you won't ever be able to unsee. Look at the notches between 10 and 11 and notice the air bubble there. I thought it was a manufacturing defect, but it's actually present in every photo I've ever seen of this watch. Do a Google image search if you don't believe me.

    And now some surprising news: I actually do like the WSD-F10, mostly because it's the closest thing you can get to a G-Shock in a smartwatch. ...
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