• Devices

    by Published on 08-20-2019 02:00 PM
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices



    ... But not for long.

    Security researchers discovered over the weekend that Apple mistakenly unpatched a security vulnerability in iOS 12.4. What is now effectively a 100+ day exploit means that for the first time in years users can jailbreak their iPhones again—that is, those models running the A7 to A11 chipsets. If you wanted to jailbreak your iPhone XR/XS/XS Max or your 2019 iPad Mini/iPad Air then you can pretty much stop reading here, as those devices are all powered by A12 chips.

    As an Android user who insists on unlocked bootloaders and root access I am all for taking control of your technology, even if iOS isn't my specific area of expertise. This dude seems to know what he's doing, though:



    If you wanted to take the plunge yourself—and understand the risks—there's also this step-by-step guide on Lifehacker. If you were wondering why you'd even want to bother, here are some use-cases via the comments on iPhone in Canada:

    -Carbridge – for those with CarPlay, you get any app on your car screen. That means when I’m parked waiting for the ferry, I can watch movies. Note Netflix isn’t supported, but anything in the TV app works.
    -reddit no ads
    -YouTube tools (no ads)
    -Audio recorder – automatic recording of phone calls. Yes that’s legal in Canada. Why would I want that? If someone is telling me details I need to remember and I’m not able to write them down at that moment I don’t need to worry about it, I can just listen to the call again.
    Of course, if you didn't want to jailbreak and are just worried about your phone being vulnerable, hang tight for a few days. Apple will almost certainly release iOS 12.4.1 and re-patch the vulnerability.

    Source: VICE via iPhone in Canada
    Image source: Lifehacker

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    Andrew Currie has been blogging about mobile phones since 2001, smartphones (depending on how you define them) since 2002 and smartwatches since 2014.
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    by Published on 08-14-2019 03:00 PM
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices



    For anyone interested in the Apple Card, here's an FYI courtesy of BuzzFeed: Making payments on said card will require your iPhone, or at the very least some other iOS device. This will very much be an issue if you've got a payment due and your phone suddenly goes missing:

    According to Apple Support, your options are: 1. Use an iPad or other iOS device to access the Wallet app, or 2. Call Apple Support (not, presumably, with the phone you just lost) and a representative will connect you to an Apple Card specialist at Goldman Sachs, Apple’s bank partner. You’ll need your full name, date of birth, last four digits of your Social Security number, and the phone number associated with your account to make a payment over the phone.

    By comparison, Capital One, Citibank, and American Express Blue Cash cards have two online options—a mobile app or website—to pay your statement and monitor your account. With an Apple Card, you need an iPad as backup, or to get on the phone with a support rep ASAP.

    In other words, nearly every other modern credit card offers users a way to access their account with a browser on desktop, giving them the flexibility to pay bills from any device—and Apple Card, despite its titanium, numberless, futuristic veneer, does not.
    ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

    Source: BuzzFeed

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    Andrew Currie has been blogging about mobile phones since 2001, smartphones (depending on how you define them) since 2002 and smartwatches since 2014.
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    by Published on 08-13-2019 02:55 PM
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices



    They're ba-ack... Snap, Inc. is now taking pre-orders for their third-generation hardware products. And they're not cheap: a pair of Spectacles 3 in either carbon (black) or mineral (rose gold) will set you back $380 USD or $500 CAD.

    What could possibly justify the more than 100% price jump over current models? The Verge explains:

    A Snap spokesperson said this year’s model represented a necessary investment in the platform. The company has to figure out a way to do AR computing right, the logic goes, before it can do it cheaply.

    The glasses’ marquee feature is a second camera, which enables Spectacles to capture depth for the first time. Snap has built a suite of new 3D effects that take advantage of the device’s new depth perception ability. They will be exclusive to Spectacles, and the company plans to let third-party developers design depth effects starting later this year.
    Details on technical specs are scarce, but according to Mobile Syrup they'll ship with 4 GB of onboard storage, good for 100 circular format videos or 1200 still images.

    Sources: Mobile Syrup, The Verge

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    Andrew Currie has been blogging about mobile phones since 2001, smartphones (depending on how you define them) since 2002 and smartwatches since 2014.
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    by Published on 08-07-2019 12:45 PM
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices



    Unfortunately I'm going to miss the big reveal of Samsung's Galaxy Note 10 later this afternoon, so I'm posting some new leaks to give you a better idea of what to expect.

    First up is Droid Life, who apparently got the scoop on some official marketing materials. Two models (technically three) are now confirmed:

    Note 10
    6.3 inch screen
    3400 mAh battery
    $949 USD

    Note 10+
    6.8 inch screen
    4300 mAh battery
    $1099 USD
    5G version TBA

    As per the artwork above, all variants will offer an "immersive, nearly bezel-less cinematic display" plus a single hole-punch selfie cam. The S Pen now does air gestures and the onboard microphones have "audio zoom" to filter out extraneous noise when recording video.

    If it's official accessories that you're after, the German site WinFuture has posted an impressive gallery of first-party options. Silicone and leather covers will be available, along with the more unique LED and View covers.

    I'm hoping that some thoughtful YouTuber will edit and upload a supercut of the event; look for that to be included in tomorrow morning's news briefing, and in the meantime feel free to post your thoughts on the event here!

    Sources: Droid Life, Mobile Syrup, WinFuture

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    Andrew Currie has been blogging about mobile phones since 2001, smartphones (depending on how you define them) since 2002 and smartwatches since 2014.
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    by Published on 08-06-2019 10:30 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices



    Fossil has announced the first of their fifth-generation Wear OS-powered smartwatches, The Carlyle and Julianna HR (the former is shown above). Here's a rundown of what's new, courtesy of the Wear OS subreddit:

    New design;
    1 GB RAM, 8 GB storage (vs. 0.5 GB / 4 GB on Fossil Sport, Q Gen 4);
    Snapdragon Wear 3100 processor (vs. 2100 in Q Gen 4);
    Speaker for Google Assistant, calls, music;
    Multiple battery-saving modes (coming to older Fossil watches this fall);
    iPhone users can take calls on the watch, also coming in fall update.

    And here's a quick video tour with Michael Fisher:



    If, like me, you find the styling of the Carlyle to be a bit... forgettable, fear not—this is but a first volley in the torrent of Fossil-branded devices to follow.

    Source: The Verge via r/WearOS
    Image source: 9to5Google

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    Andrew Currie has been blogging about mobile phones since 2001, smartphones (depending on how you define them) since 2002 and smartwatches since 2014.
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    by Published on 08-01-2019 03:18 PM
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices



    We're going to have to put our trust in Android Police and The Verge on this one, as the source—notorious leaker Evan Blass—has started making his Tweets private. If Blass is to be believed, what we're looking at here is another update to the Fitbit Versa; notable changes include a new OLED screen (without a Fitbit logo on it) and support for Amazon Alexa (and therefore a necessary microphone port somewhere on the case).

    I guess the mic is the reason why Fitbit is ditching the buttons on the right side of the watch, like they've already done with the current Versa Lite. As a novice watch enthusiast I'm a bit perplexed by this design choice, unless people wear watches on their right wrists now...?



    Woven straps like these were reserved for the Special Edition first-gen Versas (Versae?), the ones with NFC chips for Fitbit Pay. I used an SE Versa for a weekend, and I don't remember returning it because it didn't have a voice-activated virtual assistant. But I do absolutely remember that notifications weren't reliable and the music controls didn't work at all.

    It also seems to me that most of the Fitbits I see out in the wild are the more discreet wearables like the Charge or the original Flex—that is to say that users get more value out of the fitness tracking/step counts than the actual hardware itself. Am I wrong on this?

    Source: @evleaks (protected) via Android Police, The Verge

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    Andrew Currie has been blogging about mobile phones since 2001, smartphones (depending on how you define them) since 2002 and smartwatches since 2014.
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    by Published on 07-30-2019 01:15 PM
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices



    It's not the first attempt at a proper Linux-powered smartphone (anyone remember Ubuntu Edge?) nor is it likely to be the last, but in this current duopoly of Android and iOS the Librem 5 is at least worth a mention.

    The device was first announced by San Francisco-based "social purpose corporation" Purism back in 2017. Since its successful crowdfunding campaign the project has been slowed down by numerous delays, but as of this week the final specs for the device have been locked in:

    5.7 inch IPS TFT screen @ 720 x 1400 pixels
    1.5 GHz i.MX8M quad-core processor
    13 MP rear camera with LED flash / 8 MP selfie cam
    3 GB RAM / 32 GB eMMC storage + microSD
    Gemalto PLS8 3G/4G modem
    3.5 mm headphone jack
    3,500 mAh user-replaceable battery
    Availability: Q3 2019
    Price: $649 USD until July 31st; $699 from August 1st

    Unfortunately that's a lot of money for not a lot of phone—especially when you can flash Lineage OS on to select Android devices and get much of the same software freedoms. I'll keep an eye out for reviews when the Librem 5 actually ships.

    Source: Purism via OMG! Ubuntu

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    Andrew Currie has been blogging about mobile phones since 2001, smartphones (depending on how you define them) since 2002 and smartwatches since 2014.
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    by Published on 07-29-2019 01:20 PM
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices

    Remember infographics? Gadgets Deck does, and they recently published what amounts to a love letter to the OG Android phablet. Even if you're not a fan of Galaxy Note Series you have to appreciate the impact that it's had on smartphones overall; remember that one of the best-selling iPhones so far has been 2014's 6 Plus—basically a Note-sized device for those who prefer iOS.

    So here then, is the evolution of the Samsung Galaxy Note:



    And yes, the Note 10/10+ haven't yet been made official, but the specs shown immediately above do align with previous leaks.

    Source: Gadgets Deck via SamMobile

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    Andrew Currie has been blogging about mobile phones since 2001, smartphones (depending on how you define them) since 2002 and smartwatches since 2014.
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    by Published on 07-22-2019 01:30 PM
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices



    ASUS has announced the second iteration of their smartphone for gamers, the ROG Phone II. Its release date is scheduled for July 23rd in China and sometime in September for the rest of the world.

    Notable specs are as follows:

    6.59 inch FHD+ AMOLED display @ 120 Hz
    Snapdragon 855 Plus CPU / Adreno 640 GPU
    Dual rear cameras: 48 MP wide / 13 MP ultra-wide
    24 MP selfie cam
    12 GB RAM / 256 or 512 GB storage
    Dual SIM support
    Dual front-firing stereo speakers
    3.5 mm headphone jack
    6000 mAh battery / Quick Charge 4.0
    Colours: glossy black (China), matte black (rest of world)
    Price: expensive

    Here are some initial impressions from fellow Canadian Dave Lee:



    And from XDA here's a list of first-party accessories:

    AeroActive Cooler II (see photo above)
    Aero Case
    Mobile Desktop Dock
    Pro Dock
    ROG Kunai Gamepad
    ROG Lighting Armor Case
    TwinView Dock II
    WiGig Display Dock Plus



    There are so many accessories for this phone that reviewers are being sent this carry-on case with everything stuffed inside. If we get one to give away we'll certainly let you know...!

    Sources: GSMArena, PCWorld, XDA
    Image sources: Android Police, GSMArena

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    Andrew Currie has been blogging about mobile phones since 2001, smartphones (depending on how you define them) since 2002 and smartwatches since 2014.
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    by Published on 07-16-2019 02:50 PM
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices



    Huami has announced a new smartwatch that's already for sale in China—the Amazfit GTR. At present I can neither confirm nor deny that these watches run a non Wear OS fork of Android, like the company's current Verge does. But based on the claimed battery life my hunch is a definite no.

    Published specs are as follows:

    47mm:
    454 x 454 pixel AMOLED display @ 326 ppi
    22 mm quick release watch straps
    410 mAh battery, good for 24 days of normal use
    aluminum alloy, stainless steel or titanium metal case
    brown leather or fluoro rubber strap
    CNY 1,000 - equivalent to about $145 USD / $190 CAD

    42mm:
    390 x 390 pixel AMOLED display @ 326 ppi
    20 mm quick release watch straps
    195 mAh battery, good for 12 days of normal use
    cherry powder, coral red, moonlight white or star black case
    black, pink, red, or white silicone strap
    CNY 800 - equivalent to about $120 USD / $155 CAD

    Both models:
    Gorilla Glass 3 with AF coating
    5 ATM water resistance
    BT 5.0 BLE, GPS, GLONASS, NFC
    PPG Bio-Tracking Optical Sensor

    An AMOLED screen is sure to suck up a lot of battery, so again like the Verge I wouldn't expect too much in the way of an always-on display.

    Source: Amazfit China via GSMArena

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    Andrew Currie has been blogging about mobile phones since 2001, smartphones (depending on how you define them) since 2002 and smartwatches since 2014.
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    by Published on 07-10-2019 02:00 PM
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices



    Verizon is about to have a new smartwatch in their accessory portfolio, Mobvoi's TicWatch Pro 4G/LTE. The onboard eSIM won't be ready for activation until sometime in August, but early adopters can save $20 USD if they buy before then.

    Notable specs are as follows:

    1.39 inch AMOLED display @ 400 x 400 pixels
    FSTN LCD standby display
    Snapdragon Wear 2100 processor
    1 GB RAM / 4 GB storage
    Bluetooth / GPS / LTE (via eSIM) / NFC / WiFi
    IP68 water resistance (suitable for swimming pools)
    415 mAh battery
    22mm silicone quick release strap

    And here's a launch-day YouTube hands-on:



    While I personally prefer the FSTN displays on Casio's Pro Trek smartwatches, any transreflective display is a good thing to have on your wrist if you spend any time outdoors. And support for standard watch straps only sweetens the deal.

    Just don't expect too much in the way of battery life from Wear OS...

    Sources: Mobvoi via Android Police
    Image source: 9to5Google

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    Andrew Currie has been blogging about mobile phones since 2001, smartphones (depending on how you define them) since 2002 and smartwatches since 2014.
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    by Published on 07-02-2019 10:15 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices



    For any fellow Canadians who are in the market for a new Android device, OnePlus has just cut the price of their 7 Pro by $100-110 CAD. New prices are as follows:

    6 GB RAM + 128 GB storage: $899 (was $999)
    8 GB RAM + 256 GB storage: $939 (was $1049)
    12 GB RAM + 256 GB storage: $1009 (was $1119)

    Even better, OnePlus is offering a refund of the difference between the old and new pricing for all 7 Pros purchased between Friday, May 17th at 10am Eastern Time and Friday, June 28th at noon (also ET). Eligible buyers should have already received an email from OnePlus.

    It would seem that their first "pro" phone isn't selling as well in this country as OnePlus would have hoped. Some possible explanations as to why:

    1. OnePlus was too greedy with their pricing—the USD list price of the base model ($669) converts to only $878 CAD;
    2. They misread the market and didn't anticipate being undercut by the Pixel 3a and 3a XL;
    3. Peak smartphone.

    Whatever the reason, Canadians can now purchase a 7 Pro for less than a thousand bucks, at least before taxes. An even smarter move might be to import a regular 7 instead.

    Sources: Mobile Syrup, XDA

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    Andrew Currie has been blogging about mobile phones since 2001, smartphones (depending on how you define them) since 2002 and smartwatches since 2014.
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    by Published on 06-20-2019 12:45 PM
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices



    Fellow smartwatch enthusiasts might already know that I'm a big fan of the cheap and cheerful Amazfit Bip. But what about the other devices in Huami's smartwatch stable? On a whim I tried out one of them, the Amazfit Verge.

    Before we proceed, a few caveats about this Canada-based review:

    1. If you're here for details about Amazon Alexa support, that feature is currently US-only, so I am unable to test it.
    2. If you're here for details about phone calls using iOS, that feature is also currently US-only. Fortunately, phone calls via Android are supported everywhere.

    Design

    Part of what initially drew me to the Verge was my ongoing desire for a smartwatch version of a Casio G-Shock. Like those iconic timepieces The Verge has a similarly chunky design but is also light on the wrist, and light on the wallet as well—at $207 and change on Amazon Canada the Verge is less than one third the current asking price of a WSD-F30. And while both offer onboard GPS the Verge also supports NFC wrist-based payments... that is, if you live in mainland China and/or have an Alipay account.



    On the bottom of the Verge you'll find the heart rate sensor, charging pins and quick-release silicone straps. Because of the lug design replacement straps will unfortunately be limited to those made specifically for this watch.

    There is a single button on the watch's right side (the big orange one) and a microphone port. Not shown in the photo above is the speaker on the left side of the device. More on that in a bit.

    Watch Faces



    Here's a closer look at the default watch face. The Verge runs on Android but not Wear OS—so while Google Assistant and Pay are unsupported you'll at least get more battery life out of this thing than your typical Fossil or whatever. With an hour or so of daily fitness tracking my watch lasted about four days between charges. That's notably better than Wear OS, but there's a catch: While the Verge has an option for an always-on display, it's so faint that it's effectively useless in anything brighter than a dark room.



    Here are the other watch faces that the Verge ships with, courtesy of the companion app for Android. If none of these pique your interest you can also try here.

    Widgets



    Here's another screen grab from the Amazfit Android app, and the easiest way to show you the available widgets for The Verge. Once activated they'll live to the right of your watch face, in whichever order you choose.

    Apps



    The Verge doesn't have an application drawer like Wear OS; your list of installed apps instead live to the right of your watch face, after your widgets (if you've activated any) or via a single swipe in from the right (if not). Hey, is that a phone app I see?



    The Verge can indeed make (and take) calls directly from your wrist, thanks to its built-in microphone and speaker. Test calls I made sounded acceptable on my end, but my test subject complained that she could hear her own voice feeding back from the speaker into the mic. However, for checking your voicemail—or leaving a message for someone else—it's probably fine.

    Notifications



    Notifications on the Verge live below your watch face—like Wear OS but with no way to reply from your wrist. There is an available third-party solution that enables canned replies, but I couldn't get it to work.

    Also, I feel obliged to mention that when it comes to notifications the Verge is a bit of a nag. Weather and step goal progress is fine, but several times when I was on my way somewhere the watch would interrupt me with a notification to the effect of: "Hey, I noticed you're walking pretty fast... wanna start a workout?"

    It gets pretty annoying when I'm running behind, which is often.

    Control Panel



    Status panel? Whatever you want to call this it lives above your watch face. Going clockwise from the right the icons are: settings, power/reboot, brightness, speaker on/off, airplane mode and silent mode. That icon at the top (to the left of the battery) is an indicator for your Bluetooth connection.

    Verdict

    My fondness for the Verge began with its attractive styling and affordable price, but ended as soon as I saw (or tried to see) its unusable always-on display. If you reside in the US the Amazon Alexa support might be a selling point, and if you're signed up for Alipay you can probably activate that feature via a Chinese ROM. As for everyone else, unless you're a **** (Richard?) Tracy wannabe or never go outdoors I would give the Verge a pass, and maybe consider the Stratos instead. And don't forget the Bip!

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    Andrew Currie has been blogging about mobile phones since 2001, smartphones (depending on how you define them) since 2002 and smartwatches since 2014.
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    by Published on 06-14-2019 03:50 PM
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices



    In honour of Father's Day Vox has posted a feature on the history of perhaps the most uncool mobile phone accessory ever:

    In the mid-’90s and early 2000s, the cellphone holster was an inescapable object of necessary evil for a very specific type of person: people who had to carry cellphones for professional purposes, who did not, for reasons likely having to do with strict gender expectations, have purses, and who also did not care that cellphone holsters are very dorky.

    In other words, dads.
    Here in Canada peak smartphone holster occurred during the BlackBerry era. If I'm not mistaken my own BlackBerry 8700 came with a hard plastic half-case (with a handy swiveling clip) in the box. It was so easy to holster and unholster my BlackBerry that I almost had to use it.

    What probably killed the holster for good was the iPhone, in particular its most snobbish users—who would never dream of even using a case because it would ruin the aesthetics of their newfound status symbol.

    These days I keep my OnePlus phone in my oversized wallet, and my wallet in that other ultimate dad accessory, a fanny pack—which I bought in Japan and wear over my should, so that's still cool, right?

    Anyway, Happy Father's Day to all the dads reading this!

    Source: Vox
    Image source: Charm14

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    Andrew Currie has been blogging about mobile phones since 2001, smartphones (depending on how you define them) since 2002 and smartwatches since 2014.
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    by Published on 06-12-2019 03:00 PM
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices

    Anyone who's read my previous posts on this subject will already know that I'm no fan of Wear OS. But as my last experience with it was almost two years ago I thought I should once again check in and see if it's gotten any better since. So I'm doing just that with a Fossil Sport, running the latest Snapdragon 3100 processor and latest version of Wear OS itself, known colloquially as the H update.

    Hardware



    First, some details about this particular watch... The one I've been testing is the 43mm model in "Smokey Blue". I read somewhere that this larger case has the same screen size as the 41mm version, just with more empty space around the perimeter of the display. I purchased mine from Amazon so I'm unable to confirm this, but it's something you might want to verify in-store before you commit to either size.



    The design of the case is an aluminum top on a nylon (plastic) base, giving the illusion that the watch is thinner than it actually is. It's certainly less chunky than the Android Wear watches I'm used to, and also much lighter. In terms of styling, though, I find it to be a bit on the bland side; if you're looking for something more stylish I'd recommend the Falster 2 by Skagen.

    The Sport is the first Android smartwatch I've used with a functioning crown, and I like it, a lot! Fossil's experience with traditional watches must have come into play in its design; the resistance when scrolling through notifications or the app drawer is just right, making for an extremely satisfying feel. Not so much with the other two pushers, though. They're alright, nothing more.



    The 43mm versions of the Sport ship with 22mm quick-release silicone bands (the 41mm version supports 18mm ones). You can easily replace them with other bands from Fossil, or with any other 22mm band from anywhere you like. Take that, Apple!

    Tiles



    According to the Wear OS subreddit this is the marquee feature of the H update. Tiles are basically widgets that live to the right of your watch face. On the Fossil Sport there are currently seven Tiles to choose from:

    Forecast
    Goals
    Headlines
    Heart Points
    Heart rate
    Next event
    Timer

    But for some unknown reason, I can only use five at a time. That's a bit stupid.

    There is some potentially good news on the way, though: XDA is reporting on undocumented code for a Tiles API—meaning that there might be a custom Tile on the way for your favourite Wear OS app.

    Fitness



    If Tiles are a ripoff of Galaxy Watch widgets then Google Fit is similarly "inspired" by Apple's fitness rings. This gamification of exercise is all fine and well, but I'd personally be fine with a simple step count. And I suspect that anyone serious about fitness will want something more than what Google Fit and Wear OS currently offer.

    Notifications



    Not much change here, as notification support remains generally very good.

    For me, the best part about notifications on Wear OS is that they're actionable—you can choose from a couple of usually relevant canned replies (great), attempt to draw an emoji on your tiny screen (good, so long as its a happy or sad face), attempt to type out a reply on a tiny virtual keyboard (awful) or speak your response and wait for Google to do the voice-to-text thing over Bluetooth. That last option is still, years later, slow as molasses in real-world situations, but credit must still be given for being able to reply from your wrist at all.

    Assistant



    Here's the thing: I don't use Google Assistant, nor do I care to. Thus, I feel like a significant part of Wear OS is wasted on me. If you have Google Home products already installed in your house then you'll likely be a good candidate for yet another device ready and waiting for you to yell at it.

    But if you're like me and prefer Google Tasks to Reminders then you might be surprised to hear that Wear OS natively supports the latter, but not the former. You will at least get notifications for tasks that are due.

    Google Pay



    To my surprise, this seems to work as advertised. I did the usual weekend grocery shop with the girlfriend and her mom, and was able to pay for everything with our supported card right from the watch. For security your Pay-enabled Wear OS device will lock as soon as you take it off your wrist—meaning that you'll have to unlock it (once) when you strap it back on. It's a bit annoying, but also a bit more secure.

    I do feel obliged to point out that after every wrist-based payment I was handed a paper receipt, which I immediately filed in my wallet, where my credit cards are. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

    Stamina

    The bad news about this Snapdragon 3100 is that it doesn't seem to accomplish much for battery life. Like just about any other Android Wear / Wear OS device I've tested you can probably squeeze about two days out of the Fossil Sport with passive use, much less if you're tracking exercise or holding your wrist against payment terminals all day.



    If you choose to go with an always-on display then your standby screen will look something like this (depending on your chosen watch face). It's legible enough in most lighting conditions, but the super-reflective Gorilla Glass screen most certainly doesn't help in direct sunlight. The lift-to-wake gesture is thankfully fairly quick but the transition to lit screen isn't particularly pleasant to witness, as I imagine it would be on an Apple Watch.

    If readability outdoors is important to you then I would definitely recommend something with a transflective display. Unfortunately in the current crop of Wear OS devices on the market I can think of only two with this added perk: the Casio WSD-F30 and the Mobvoi TicWatch Pro.

    Verdict

    Wear OS is a great choice if Google Assistant is your thing; even if it's not the many and varied traditional watchmakers who have embraced it will ensure a size and style that will appeal to you. As an OS, however, it also doesn't really offer anything that sets it apart from other smartwatch platforms. Apple Watch, Fitbit and Galaxy Watches all do actionable notifications and wrist-based payments, while my Amazfit Bip is currently breezing through its third week without a charge.

    So no, Wear OS isn't terrible, but for me it's not terribly compelling, either. It's just alright.

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    Andrew Currie has been blogging about mobile phones since 2001, smartphones (depending on how you define them) since 2002 and smartwatches since 2014.
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    by Published on 05-29-2019 10:00 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices



    This potato quality screenshot is from the official EU trademark application listing on the German registry DPMA. The trademark being sought is called 'Ark OS', and is widely believed to be Huawei's post-Google operating system for future mobile devices.

    I chose to post this particular sample over others in the filing because it shows compatibility with something called the Android Green Alliance. Translated from German, WinFuture explains:

    Among other things, the pictures repeatedly mention the Chinese "Android Green Alliance", which is an association of Huawei and some Chinese Internet companies such as Tencent and Alibaba. The association committed itself a few years ago to introduce standards in the quality and design of their apps for Google's mobile operating system.
    In the absence of any other facts I can only speculate that Ark OS will end up being a proper fork of Android (entirely possible under AOSP's Apache 2.0 License) or something entirely new, which just happens to be 100% backwards-compatible with existing Android APKs.

    I'm crossing my fingers for the second one... if Huawei were to license their new OS to other OEMS—or, better yet, open-source it—the smartphone racket could get really interesting...

    Source: DPMA via WinFuture

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    by Published on 05-28-2019 12:35 PM
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices



    The Moto Z4 has already been leaked but wasn't supposed to be available for purchase until Q3 of this year—that is until Amazon did an oopsie and listed the device way early. And guess what? Somebody bought it.

    The listing (which has since been taken down) included a free Moto 360 camera mod for a very reasonable $500 USD. Here's what the eagle-eyed customer got for that price:

    6.4 inch 2340 x 1080 pixel OLED display
    Snapdragon 675 processor
    48 MP quad-pixel rear camera / 25 MP quad-pixel selfie cam
    4 GB RAM / 128 GB of storage,
    3600 mAh battery
    Moto Mod support

    In addition to the hands-on video above this thoughtful person was also kind enough to share his thoughts on reddit and upload some camera samples to Google Drive. I'd be interested in this phone myself if I knew for sure that the bootloader was unlockable; unfortunately there's no listing yet for the Z4 (or even the Z3) on Motorola's support site.

    Source: r/Moto_Z via Liliputing

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    by Published on 05-22-2019 11:00 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices



    Europe, Hong Kong, Japan and Taiwan.

    In a leaked PowerPoint slide it seems that these are the only four markets where Sony will be selling smartphones going forward. At the moment it's a bit unclear when Sony will officially exit North America—as an example, the Sony Mobile Canada site is still live, with at least one carrier still selling the Xperia XZ2. It's Bell Mobility, in case you were wondering.

    Other slides leaked from the same presentation make it abundantly clear that the Japanese electronics giant is planning complete structural reforms of its smartphone business for 2019, aiming for a 50% reduction in operating expenses and a 57% savings overall by the end of 2020.

    Hopefully grey market imports from Hong Kong will still be an option for Xperia fans.

    Source: Xperia Blog via reddit

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    by Published on 05-15-2019 11:00 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices



    With their latest phone OnePlus is moving very much upmarket, more so in Canada than anywhere else. The starting price for the 7 Pro here will be exactly one loonie shy of a thousand bucks. Before taxes. To make matters worse, users in this country will have no official carrier to subsidize their purchase.

    This isn't the case in other markets. I mentioned in yesterday's notes that in addition to the livestream from New York City there were simultaneous launch events in London and Bengaluru; audiences there were treated to a device we apparently won't be able to get here: the non-Pro OnePlus 7. It's the same size and comes with an FHD screen similar to last fall's OnePlus 6T, but adds an upgraded processor, better image sensor and stereo speakers.

    Here's a more direct comparison:

    Size and Weight
    7 Pro: 162.6 × 75.9 × 8.8 mm / 206 g
    7: 157.7 × 74.8 × 8.2 mm / 182 g

    Colours
    7 Pro: Almond / Mirror Grey / Nebula Blue
    7: Mirror Grey / Red (China and India only)

    LTE Bands
    7 Pro:
    1/2/3/4/5/7/8/12/13/17/18/19/20/25/26/28/29/32/66 (FDD)
    34/38/39/40/41 (TDD)
    7:
    1/2/3/4/5/7/8/12/13/17/18/19/20/26/28/29/32 (FDD)
    34/38/39/40/41 (TDD)

    Price
    OnePlus 7 Pro: starts at $999 CAD / $669 USD
    OnePlus 7: starts at $32,999 INR / $632 CAD / $469 USD

    Unless I'm mistaken the non-Pro 7 supports all non-freak bands (ie. Freedom and T-Mobile) of North American 4G. And unlike the Pro it's similarly sized to OnePlus phones that came before it. Maybe the non-Pro version will serve as the fall update for North America this year?

    Links: OnePlus 7 Pro specs (Canada) / OnePlus 7 specs (India)

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    by Published on 05-13-2019 03:00 PM
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices



    Looks like OnePlus is ripping off Apple yet again, this time in the best possible way: they are now accepting trade-ins! Customers can either get a credit towards a new phone by sending their old one in for inspection, or get cash back at any time using the same procedure. The landing page for the trade-in program mentions some kind of promo happening tomorrow—which also happens to be the launch date for the OnePlus 7 and 7 Pro. But it seems like you're able to trade in your aging OnePlus device today.

    Here's how much you can potentially get for it:

    OnePlus 6T - up to $330 CAD / $250 USD
    OnePlus 6 - up to $300 CAD / $230 USD
    OnePlus 5T - up to $210 CAD / $160 USD
    OnePlus 5 - up to $200 CAD / $150 USD
    OnePlus 3T - up to $70 CAD / $60 USD
    OnePlus Three - up to $50 CAD / $40 USD
    OnePlus Two - up to $50 CAD / $40 USD
    OnePlus One - up to $40 CAD / $30 USD

    I guess the OnePlus X is officially worthless.

    OnePlus will also happily take in used phones from other OEMs—including Apple, Samsung, Google, Moto, HTC, Sony and LG. Hopefully your trade-in will be stripped for parts and repurposed, and not just dumped in a landfill somewhere. To clear out your used phone drawer use the appropriate link below.

    OnePlus - Trade in and Save: Canada / USA

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