• Devices

    by Published on 10-16-2017 06:45 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices



    Linux laptop maker Purism has succeeded where Ubuntu failed, meeting their crowdfunding goal of $1.5 million USD to produce this, the Librem 5 smartphone. Unlike 2013's ill-fated Ubuntu Edge, you probably won't be buying this thing for its specs:

    5 inch touchscreen
    i.MX6 or i.MX8 CPU, Vivante GPU
    3 GB RAM / 32 GB storage + microSD
    Front and rear cameras
    WiFi, Bluetooth, 3G / 4G / LTE
    Courage jack (aka 3.5mm headphone)

    You might, however, be interested in the Librem 5 for its Linux compatibility and privacy-minded features. Out of the box the phone will run a mobile version of Purism's in-house PureOS, or any other Linux distribution that supports its hardware. Since the processor and GPU are both open-source there may well end up being a lot of support for this phone. For privacy there will be hardware kill switches for the cameras, microphone and all wireless networks. In addition the baseband will be separate from the CPU, presumably to prevent the NSA and its Five Eyes partners from overriding any of those kill switches.

    In terms of apps, Purism is all about the HTML5, which was also the promise of Firefox OS. Remember Firefox OS? I do. It was terrible. And the cynic in me can't help but think that a phone running LineageOS and F-Droid in place of the Google apps would deliver 90% of the freedom and a much better user experience.

    But who am I to rain on the freedom beards' parade? It seems like the Linux community is wholeheartedly embracing the Librem 5, and it will interesting to watch what they whip up for it—even if it will be very much a niche product.

    Links: Librem 5 via OMG! Ubuntu!

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    by Published on 10-13-2017 07:00 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices



    The biggest story of this short news week has to be the revelation that OnePlus phones running the company's stock ROMs—Hydrogen and Oxygen OS—are, without their users' consent, collecting and transmitting personally-identifiable data. Here's a sample of what's being collected:

    Code:
    getAndroidVersion()Ljava/lang/String;
    getBSSID(Landroid/content/Context;)Ljava/lang/String;
    getBatteryLevel(Landroid/content/Context;)F
    getBatteryStatus(Landroid/content/Context;)Ljava/lang/String;
    getBrandName()Ljava/lang/String;
    getCellSignalLevel(Landroid/content/Context;)Ljava/lang/String;
    getDeviceId()Ljava/lang/String;
    getIMEI(Landroid/content/Context;)Ljava/lang/String;
    getIMEI1(Landroid/content/Context;)Ljava/lang/String;
    getIsHiddenSSID(Landroid/content/Context;)Z
    getLocale(Landroid/content/Context;)Ljava/util/Locale;
    getMacAddr(Landroid/content/Context;)Ljava/lang/String;
    getModelName()Ljava/lang/String;
    getOSVersion()Ljava/lang/String;
    getPCBA()Ljava/lang/String;
    getResolutionHeight(Landroid/content/Context;)I
    getResolutionWidth(Landroid/content/Context;)I
    getRomVersion()Ljava/lang/String;
    getSimCountryCode(Landroid/content/Context;)Ljava/lang/String;
    getSoftVersion()Ljava/lang/String;
    getTimezone()Ljava/lang/String;
    getWifiMacAddress(Landroid/content/Context;)Ljava/lang/String;
    getWifiSSID(Landroid/content/Context;)Ljava/lang/String;
    getWifiSignalLevel(Landroid/content/Context;)I
    isH2()Z
    isO2()Z
    isRooted()Z
    But wait, there's more... OnePlus is also collecting timestamped events on your device, like unexpected reboots, which apps you use and for how long, even when you lock and unlock your screen. It may sound like innocuous diagnostic information, but each of these timestamps is dispatched with personally-identifiable information. And even if you opt out of the OnePlus User Experience Program the hidden services that collect this data are still collecting this data and sending it back to OnePlus.

    The collection can be halted via adb and a terminal command on a desktop computer. A more detailed account of how this data harvesting was discovered, and how to fix it, can be read at the link directly below.

    Link: Chris's Security and Tech Blog

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    by Published on 10-11-2017 07:15 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices

    It has begun.

    Not even a year after Pebble was acquired by Fitbit their watches are already starting to fail. Some have apparent manufacturing defects or quality control issues, while others have suffered too much abuse on the wrists of their owners. What's especially heartbreaking about these photos is that we Pebblers are holding on to our hardware for dear life. Unlike a good mechanical watch, however, these things just aren't built to last.



    The first-generation Pebble started shipping in January, 2013; here's what one of those looks like when the buttons fall out.



    When a button on their 2016 Pebble 2 wore off, this user switched from using his finger to the tip of a pen, with predictable results.



    Swollen batteries are also starting to affect some Pebbles. Here's a 2015 Pebble Time Round with a display panel lifting away from its body.



    And this 2016 Pebble Time Steel seems to have experienced an adhesive failure between its display and body.

    The moral of the story? If you love your Pebble like I do get a spare or two on Amazon while you still can...!

    Source: reddit (1) (2) (3) (4)

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    by Published on 10-10-2017 06:30 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices



    Here's a photo taken by a not-so-proud owner of a new iPhone 8 Plus in Japan; out of the box the new device's battery had swollen to the point where it was pushing the display panel out of its seating. There are reports of similar defects trickling in from around the world—seven in total so far:

    Canada - 1 incident reported
    China - 1 incident reported
    Greece - 1 incident reported
    Hong Kong - 1 incident reported
    Japan - 1 incident reported
    Taiwan - 2 incidents reported

    This story on Pocketnow has links to each incident. In a couple of cases the phone's battery was swollen out of the box; in others the swelling occurred after the user's first charge (with original equipment). In the rest the swelling became apparent after a short fall, with no initial signs of damage. There are, at present, no reports of batteries actually exploding.

    Apple is said to be investigating the issue, which might prove to be a challenge, as batteries for the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus are made by three separate manufacturers: LG Chem, Samsung SDI and Simplo Technologies.

    Hopefully no one reading this has a swollen battery in their new iPhone; if you do, I'm sure your neighbourhood Apple Store will help you out.

    Sources: Pocketnow, The Verge, Twitter

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    by Published on 10-09-2017 07:45 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices



    What better way to celebrate Canadian Thanksgiving than with a new BlackBerry? Let's just maybe overlook that it was announced in Dubai, and its availability at launch will be limited to that part of the world.

    The BlackBerry Motion, known previously by its codename "Krypton", is a touchscreen-only device. Here are the notable specs, courtesy of CrackBerry:

    Snapdragon 625 processor
    5.5 inch FHD IPS LCD display with Dragon Tail Glass (?)
    4 GB RAM / 32 GB storage plus microSD
    12 MP rear camera with PDAF
    8 MP selfie camera with flash
    4,000 mAh battery with Quick Charge 3.0
    IP67 water resistance
    Headphone jack (!)

    The Motion will be available for purchase in the Middle East before the end of the month, and will apparently be the first BlackBerry sold in the region with dual SIM capabilities. It won't be the world's first dual SIM BB, however; that honour goes to an Indian variant of the KeyOne—at least that's what TechRadar says.

    UAE pricing for this mid-range BlackBerry works out to less than $500 USD. I'd expect to see the Motion available in North America before too long, but maybe not the dual SIM version. Just a hunch.

    Sources: CrackBerry, TechRadar

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    by Published on 10-06-2017 07:15 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices,
    3. Rumors

    Okay, so with this year's iPhones and Pixels officially made official the year's collection of ultra-premium smartphones is now complete. Or maybe not. If sources are correct, there is one more Android-powered Nokia on the way.



    Here's a render of the Nokia 9, in polished blue. The phone is believed to have an edge-to-edge display just like Samsung's Galaxy S8 and S8+. This is what it would look like in polished blue.



    And this is what it would look like in polished copper. The back of the device is also 3D glass, so wireless charging will be supported.



    The renders are based on this leak of the phone's display panel, along with some rumoured specs:

    Snapdragon 835 Processor
    5.5 inch QHD AMOLED display, 534 ppi
    4 GB RAM, 64 or 128 GB storage
    Dual 13 MP rear cameras with Zeiss optics, OIS, PDAF
    13 MP selfie cam with PDAF
    Dual SIM or microSD support
    IP68 certified
    Android 8.0
    Polished Blue, Polished Copper, Steel, Tempered Blue
    €750 EUR / $875 USD / $1,100 CAD

    Aside from not actually being announced yet, there might be additional issues affecting your enjoyment of this high-functioning phone. One would be the limited availability in the Americas (if at all) and another would be Nokia's so-far disappointing policies towards bootloader unlocking and publishing software sources. If the company wants a foothold in this part of the world, catering to the whims of the XDA crowd wouldn't be a bad way to do it. It certainly worked for OnePlus.

    Sources: GSMArena, GizmoChina

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    by Published on 10-05-2017 07:15 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices,
    3. Commentary and Analysis



    Interested in one of the new Pixel phones? Make sure you know what you're getting into; in eliminating the 3.5mm audio jack Google has chosen to ape one of the iPhone's worst features, while providing only minimal protection from water damage. And, like Apple, they've once again taken the high road on pricing, asking $1,289 CAD for their most expensive model. But this is the same story as last year, and in late 2017 appears to be the cost of entry to join the fight in the war on smartphone bezels.

    The big differentiator in hardware for Google is again, like last year, going forward with a single rear-facing camera vs. Apple's dual-lens setup. The Pixel 2's camera tech does look promising, and I wouldn't fault anyone making a purchase for that feature alone. As for the fabled "pure Android experience" I'm pretty sure Google gave up on that when they introduced their Now Launcher back in 2013. The exclusive-to-Pixel Google Lens visual search only continues that trend—though it may be available more widely at a later date.

    Here's what I found weird about yesterday's event... Granted, I was unable to watch it live and had to settle instead for The Verge's 19-minute supercut after the fact. I was nonetheless surprised at how little overall time was spent on the phones. Your home, it seems, is the new frontier that Amazon, Apple and Google are all simultaneously trying to conquer. I'm personally not so thrilled at the prospect of having an always-listening device in the place where I sleep and sh**, but that's just me.

    As for the other gear, I think the Clips camera is an intriguing alternative to GoPro. But I don't have particularly high hopes for the automatic translation feature of the Pixel Buds. Raw technology is no match for the subtle nuance of language.

    What are your thoughts on yesterday's event?

    Links: The Verge (1) (2) (3)

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    by Published on 10-04-2017 07:00 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices,
    3. Reviews and Hands-on



    The watches themselves are nice, but it's time to face facts: having a touchscreen on my wrist is just plain awful. I can't imagine that an Apple Watch is much better, but I've almost no firsthand experience with that platform. As for Android Wear specifically, here's how I've come to my conclusion...

    My Pebble is far from perfect. With its low resolution screen, massive bezels and lack of designer watch faces I frequently get smartwatch envy. Making matters worse is that my Pebble been mistaken for an Apple Watch more than once—for an Android fanboy this is entirely unacceptable. Plus, watches are supposed to be round, right? Android Wear is clearly the better choice. I frequently make plans to re-pair one of the three Android watches in my possession, only to back out at the last minute, deciding that it's not worth the hassle.

    This past Monday I didn't back out: I re-paired my Nixon Mission and installed the necessary apps to enjoy my morning walk. While I'm out I listen to podcasts, and have to skip through ads more often than I'd like. Here's the first place where Android Wear fails. Once you swipe to the appropriate screen there are software buttons to skip ahead or back, but on a touch screen they just don't work reliably. On a Pebble you can accomplish this without even looking at the watch—provided that you've assigned its built-in music player to a shortcut key. The steps are (1) long-press your shortcut key, (2) press the down button to skip ahead 30 seconds, (3) continue enjoying your podcast.

    Notifications on Android Wear are fine unless, like me, you depend on the native reminders built into Google Calendar and Inbox. Dismissing a notification on an Android watch will also remove it from your Android phone. The problem is, dismissing a Google reminder will also mark it as completed. This means that when a reminder pops up on my Android Wear watch I'm basically unable to use it until the reminder goes away on its own. That's some pretty terrible UX right there...

    Finally, I don't think it's too much to ask for a $500-plus smartwatch to be always on. The standby screen on my Nixon Mission doesn't really count, as it shows none of the complications selected for my chosen watch face. And even the standby screen sometimes goes dark as well, leaving me with nothing else to look at other than the smudge-fest you see above. This is also problem with Watch OS; as I see more and more Apple Watches on peoples' wrists I can't help but notice their dormant displays, and can't help thinking to myself: "What exactly are you people paying for?"

    Again, my Pebble is far from perfect. But as a smartwatch, even a timepiece it's so much better than Android Wear. In fact, I've yet to see anything out there that's as intuitive and downright enjoyable to use.

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    by Published on 09-29-2017 07:00 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices,
    3. Reviews and Hands-on

    So my grey market LG G6 is already back on its way to Amazon, but before I packed it up I took it with me on an early morning walk through downtown Toronto's Graffiti Alley. As luck would have it I also had with me a OnePlus 5.

    The big difference between the two is that the LG's second camera has a fixed focus wide angle lens, while the OnePlus has a telephoto one. For anyone trying to decide which secondary focal length would be more useful, I'm hoping that this quick visual guide will help.



    Reference photo of the first subject, taken with the OnePlus 5. Neither LG nor OnePlus seem especially interested in publishing focal length equivalents on their respective spec pages, but other sources cite this primary shooter at the equivalent of 28mm.



    The OnePlus 5's telephoto lens, apparently a 36mm equivalent.



    And the LG G6's wide angle lens. No focal length is available; LG will only say that it has a 125-degree angle of view.



    Our second subject and a new addition to Graffiti Alley, taken with the G6. Focal length is similar to OnePlus, at an equivalent of 29mm.



    Back to the 5's telephoto lens, with a really aggressive depth of field software effect—notice how the hair on the right side is out of focus, despite the subject being shot straight on...



    And the G6's wide angle lens. No, that Amazon box doesn't belong to me.



    Our third and final subject, captured with the primary lens on the OnePlus 5.



    OnePlus 5 telephoto lens.



    And the wide angle lens on the G6, with bonus photographer cameo!

    Though this wasn't meant to be a test of image quality per se, feel free to compare these samples with other graffiti walks I've done with other phones. The photos confirm my personal preference for a second, wide angle lens over a telephoto one. I think the fisheye effect is much more striking than fake software bokeh. What do you think?

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    by Published on 09-28-2017 07:00 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices



    Big fan of Amazon Prime over here... The free shipping is fantastic, but what seals the deal for yours truly time and time again is the almost-unbelievably generous return policy on every order. I've sent back memory cards that I've used, cameras that I've taken on trips abroad, even shoes that I've worn outside. And now, it seems, that I'm about to return this LG G6.

    Because I'm a Prime Member I honestly didn't put a lot of thought into this purchase—in fact, I bought the phone from my phone while wandering around a mall in Vancouver, a pit stop on the way home from Sri Lanka. I was still considering a smartphone purchase for 2017 and this particular G6 seemed to be compatible with Lineage OS, a good sign that it was a modding-friendly device. I dig the "scared robot" look on the back and, more importantly, prefer the idea of a wide-angle second camera over a telephoto one.

    The phone arrived in Toronto shortly after I did. It was only then I started paying attention to its specific model number: H870DS, a phone intended for sale in Hong Kong. This revelation brought with it some good news:

    This specific phone supports dual SIMs;
    There's 64 GB of storage, an extra 32 GB over North American models;
    It'll work in Asia (obviously), but there's also Band 7 LTE for my carrier here.

    ... And unfortunately, a few deal-breakers as well:

    There's no option for an app drawer on LG's Hong Kong ROM;
    I can't actually unlock the bootloader, let alone install Lineage OS.

    I took some photos with it earlier this week, but there's not much more I can do with the phone beyond that; no unlockable bootloader, no deal. Kind of a shame, really, as there's a lot to like about the G6.

    Has anyone else played the grey market smartphone lottery on Amazon? Feel free to share your experience below...

    Link: LG G6 Dual SIM on Amazon Canada

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    by Published on 09-27-2017 07:00 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices,
    3. Reviews and Hands-on



    Forgive the sass, but when iVerge is critical of an Apple product there must be something seriously wrong with it. And that appears to be the case with the LTE edition of the Apple Watch Series 3.

    The issues stem entirely from that garish red dot on the LTE's version of the digital crown—or rather, the technology that comes with it. If you didn't know, the red dot is basically a status symbol telling the world that your watch has a cellular radio. What a time to be alive... Anyway, Lauren Goode ran extensive tests on two LTE-enabled units; both fell well short of Apple's claims.

    Here's what happened with the first watch:

    I went for a walk with the phone on airplane mode, and tried to send text messages and use Siri to initiate phone calls through the Watch. Those didn’t work. I tried asking Siri basic questions. That didn’t work. Siri also wasn’t “talking back” to me, something that’s supposed to be a new feature on the Series 3 Watch.
    So Apple sent her another one. Here's how that went:

    On more than one occasion, I detached myself from the phone, traveled blocks away from my home or office, and watched the Watch struggle to connect to LTE. It would appear to pick up a single bar of some random Wi-Fi signal, and hang on that, rather than switching to LTE.
    Apparently the watch has a preference for WiFi networks over LTE signals, probably because using LTE drains the battery much quicker than you'd expect. Apple's promises for untethered battery life are based on 30-minute workouts, so if you head out for a two-hour run you may be surprised to find that you have to charge your watch soon after you get back.

    Keep in mind also that these headaches come at an extra cost; $399 USD vs. $329 for a non-LTE watch plus $10 extra per month from your carrier for cellular connectivity on your wrist. And at launch, this particular Apple Watch doesn't even support music streaming through the network, which you'd kind of expect for a no-compromises fitness product.

    It definitely seems like the non-LTE Apple Watch is the better buy. As an added bonus, it doesn't come with the stupid red dot...

    Source: The Verge

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    by Published on 09-25-2017 07:15 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices



    Having won the war on smartphone bezels (kinda) the world's biggest phone maker is ready to move on to the next big thing: the bendable display. According to The Indian Express, the first consumer device with this technology has already been certified in South Korea; it's to be called the Galaxy X and will presumably be some sort of anniversary device for the brand.

    Never mind that the original Galaxy was released in 2009, or that battery life is probably going to be terrible for that paper-thin display in the photo directly above. I think the idea is actually to make something that the user can fold and unfold like a newspaper, as demonstrated in this concept video:



    Perhaps the battery will be spread out over the entire back of the sheet? No idea, really... We'll have to wait and see what Samsung is able to deliver next year. Best not to expect a headphone jack in this one, I think.

    Source: Indian Express

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    by Published on 09-22-2017 06:30 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices,
    3. Commentary and Analysis



    Way back in December of 2013 I bought a Google-branded inductive charger for my Nexus 4. The technology immediately won me over; there was no fast-charging technology to speak of at the time, and thus no drawbacks to dropping my phone on a charging mat beside my desktop computer. Having my phone always juiced up and ready to go was pretty great.

    Around this time IKEA started selling a floor lamp with an inductive charging pad built-in, and at least one coffee shop near me had wireless charging embedded in its counters. As even the mighty Samsung got behind the nascent Qi charging standard, a future with less wires looked increasingly possible. People were even talking about inductive bowls that you could dump all of your electronics in to charge as you walked through the threshold of your home.

    And then fast charging happened. Wireless charging never really went away, of course, but for me it became harder and harder to justify a slow wireless charge over a wired one that could get my phone battery to 100% in about an hour.

    Cut to the present day, where the new iPhone 8, 8 Plus and X all support the Qi inductive charging standard. Again, inductive charging never went away, but with Apple supporting it I'd expect to see a lot more inductive chargers in coffee shops across North America. And soon.

    The new iPhones also support fast charging, but only through additional accessories—namely, a USB-C to Lightning cable and separate 29 watt brick. I honestly think that wireless charging is going to end up being the bigger deal, whether you're an iPhone user or not. I'd even go so far as to predict that next year will see a renewed interest in Qi-compatible Android phones.

    In the meantime, here's a question for iOS enthusiasts: which are you more excited about, wireless charging or fast wired charging?

    Links: IKEA, The Verge, Wikipedia

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    by Published on 09-20-2017 06:45 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices,
    3. Rumors

    October 4th will apparently be the date for the official unveiling of Google's second-generation Pixels, but thanks to Droid Life we've got an early look at colour options for both models—and their price tags, too!

    Pixel 2

    The Pixel 2 will be available with either 64 or 128 GB of storage, and will retail for $649 and $749 USD respectively. Google will offer financing plans for each—either $27.04 or $31.21 USD per month over 24 months.

    Colours are as follows:



    "Kinda Blue"



    "Just Black"



    "Clearly White"

    Pixel 2 XL

    Also sold with either 64 or 128 GB of storage, the larger Pixel 2 XL will set you back either $849 or $949 USD. Financing options are $35.38 and $39.54 USD per month for 24 months. There will be just two colour options for this one:



    Black



    White

    I myself am not a Pixel guy; you can blame Google's entirely unnecessary vendor partition for that. But with timely software updates and what's likely to be one of the better Android cameras it's easy to see the Pixel's appeal.

    Anyone here planning a Pixel 2 purchase?

    Source: Droid Life (1) (2)

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    by Published on 08-31-2017 06:45 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices



    Headphone jack present and accounted for!

    LG just pulled back the curtain on its other 2017 flagship at IFA in Berlin. Android Police is already calling it the most refined phone that the company has ever built. Gone is the gimmicky second screen from the V20, but LG's unique dual-camera setup—standard and wide angle lenses instead of standard and telephoto—remains. This is also LG's first phone in a while with an OLED screen.

    Make no mistake here: with the V30, LG has its crosshairs on the Galaxy S8. And by first accounts they appear to have done a pretty good job. Here's a quick rundown of notable specs:

    Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 835
    Display: 6 inch P-OLED QHD, 18:9 aspect ratio
    RAM / Storage: 4 GB / 64 or 128 GB + microSD
    Battery: 3,300 mAh
    Rear Cameras: 16 MP OIS / 13 MP wide angle EIS
    Front Camera: 5 MP
    Other: IP68 water and dust resistance, wireless charging
    Colours: Aurora Black, Cloud Silver, Moroccan Blue, Lavender Violet
    OS: Android 7.1.2

    No word yet on pricing or availability, but I'll see if I can find a video hands-on and post it to the news round-up this afternoon...

    Source: Android Police (1) (2)

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    by Published on 08-29-2017 07:00 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices,
    3. Apps



    As a Pebbler I'm supposed to hate Fitbit with a passion, despite the fact that they've mostly made good on their promise to keep Pebble servers up and running through the end of 2017. But I'm also a big fan of mobile tap-and-pay solutions, especially if they actually work in Canada. And it turns out that Fitbit's new Ionic smartwatch, made official yesterday, supports NFC-based payments from your wrist.

    What's a hard done by smartwatch enthusiast to do?

    This feature is almost certainly a result of Fitbit acquiring Coin last May, and by all reports will work exactly like you see in the photo above. Fitbit will only say that AMEX, MasterCard and VISA cards are supported; I dug around a little bit and found an unverified list of launch partners:

    ANZ
    Banco Santander
    Bank of America
    Capital One
    HSBC
    KBC Bank Ireland
    Royal Bank of Canada
    US Bank

    For some perspective on this, Apple Pay already enables wrist-based payments with an Apple Watch, and any Android Wear device with NFC should have the same functionality. The biggest hurdle for Fitbit Pay will inevitably be the ugliness of its first proper smartwatch—it's every bit as hideous as the leak we saw earlier this month.

    Source: Mobile Syrup, TechRadar, The Verge

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    by Published on 08-28-2017 07:15 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices,
    3. Commentary and Analysis



    Last October I wrote about the egregious outright price of the Pixel XL in Canada—over $1,100 CAD for the 128 GB model. Midway through 2017 it seems that $1,000 USD is fast becoming the norm for a stretched display over a flagship phone. And if you happen to live in Australia and are a fan of the Galaxy Note series Samsung is expecting you to pony up $1,500 AUD for the latest version of that device.

    It's not just an Android problem, either... Apple is expected to début its 10th anniversary iPhone with a price tag in excess of $1,000 USD and, according to at least one survey, prospective buyers seem fine with that.

    I suppose an argument can be made that smartphone OEMs are merely passing on the R&D costs that make this product cycle's record-breaking screen-to-body ratios possible. But consider also that these same phones are in some ways downgrades from what came before. The Galaxy Note 8 has a smaller battery than the Note 7 (presumably so that it won't explode), Andy Rubin's high-priced Essential Phone has no waterproofing and neither it, the iPhone 8 or this year's Pixel series from Google will have a headphone jack.

    With these compromises in mind I have to ask: Are we actually getting a reasonable value from this year's near-bezel-less flagships?

    Links: 9to5Mac, reddit

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    by Published on 08-25-2017 07:00 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices,
    3. Commentary and Analysis



    Irony is, the bezels on this image are YUGE!

    Nevertheless, we should be grateful for a thoughtful redditor's recent contribution to r/Android, comparing the differences between 2017's "bezel-less" smartphones so far. There are some notable omissions... Xiaomi's Mi Mix kicked off this craze last year but was never intended for the North American market, so that's fine. But the Essential Phone should definitely be here. It's also odd that the as-yet unreleased iPhone 8 is present, but the similarly-leaked Pixel 2 XL is not.

    I think that the general idea here was to compare the bezels on specific phones and their forebears, specifically the Galaxy Note 8 vs. Note 7 and iPhone 8 vs. the 7 Plus. It also seems like the author is trying to decide between an LG V30 and G6. And for some reason the OnePlus 3 has been added to the comparison of bottom bezels and phone widths.

    To find out what other redditors are saying see the link directly below.

    Source: reddit

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    by Published on 08-23-2017 06:45 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices,
    3. Reviews and Hands-on



    Yesterday just before dinner I attended a TELUS-sponsored event showcasing Andy Rubin's Essential Phone. That Canadian carrier scored exclusive rights to sell the PH-1 in this country, and from their own listing seem to be offering it on payment plans only—$290 CAD down and $95/month or $490 down and $85/month for the duration of a two-year contract.

    I always find these carrier events just a little unsavoury, as the money that bankrolls their open bars and extravagant settings comes directly from subscribers' pockets. However, this one was at least a bit more informative than most, with employees from Essential on-hand to talk about various aspects of the phone. There were three manned stations—Camera, Design and Engineering; I visited each and listened to a short presentation, then tracked down an actual phone and took some photos. Which were of course out of focus.

    Anyway, here's what I learned about the Essential Phone...

    The Feel

    There's no questioning it, The PH-1 is a substantial device to hold in your hand, and definitely feels worthy of its $700 USD price tag. I also got to hold some of its individual components separately. The titanium frame is strong but impressively light, but when you add the ceramic back there's definitely some heft.

    As for the 360° camera accessory, the magnets that hold it to the phone are strong enough that you won't have to worry about it coming unstuck.

    The Cutout

    I didn't realize this, but the cutout at the top of the display for the selfie cam also holds the proximity and other sensors that you'd expect along the top of a typical smartphone. That's no small feat, and Essential did a better job with this than LG, Samsung or even what's coming from Apple.

    The Chin

    Of course I had to ask to design guy about this... Why does the Essential Phone's screen not extend all the way to the bottom edge of the phone? It turns out that, even without a headphone jack, some space was still needed for the LCD display driver and speaker assembly.

    The Bootloader

    On at least one of the phones I handled the bootloader was unlocked, and I was able to confirm with its owner that the bootloader on all Essential Phones is indeed unlockable. For Android modders that's great news.

    When it comes to carrier locks things are less clear. Phones ordered from Essential.com are SIM-unlocked but whether the TELUS version is any different is unknown. It's kind of academic, anyway, as it looks like the only way you'll be able to buy the phone in Canada is on TELUS through one of their payment plans and a two-year commitment.

    Expect to hear more about the Essential Phone if and when TELUS give us a loaner for review.

    Links: Essential, TELUS

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    by Published on 08-22-2017 06:45 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices,
    3. Rumors



    Google has so far released two Pixel-branded Chromebooks—the original in 2013 and a refresh in 2015, pictured directly above. According to Android Police, there will be a new Chromebook Pixel announced alongside the new Pixel phones later this year. Perhaps this one will be available for purchase in Canada? Please...?

    This third iteration of Google's own high-end notebook may or may not be an evolution of Project Bison, an Andromedia-powered notebook/tablet convertible with the following specs:

    12.3 inch screen
    8 or 16 GB of RAM
    32 or 128 GB of storage
    Optional Wacom stylus (sold separately)

    The existence of Project Bison was leaked to Android Police last fall; since then a new name has started popping up in the commits on Google's Chromium code review—this device, referred to as Eve, also seems to be a convertible with a Wacom digitizer. It could be the continuation of Project Bison, or something entirely new.

    For what it's worth, Bison was thought to retail for $799 USD. That's significantly cheaper than the first two Chromebook Pixels, and more in line with 2015's Pixel C tablet.

    Sources: Android Police, Chrome Unboxed

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