Monthly Archives: June 2018

Android

Samsung Galaxy S9 in Sunrise Gold will go on sale in the US on June 24

Summer is officially upon us and to celebrate Samsung just announced a new Galaxy S9 color version in the US.

It’s called Sunrise Gold and will go on sale exclusively at Best Buy and Samsung.com come June 24. Both the Galaxy S9 and its larger brother, the Galaxy S9+ will get the new paint job treatment. Previously US customers could only get the Galaxy S9 in Midnight Black, Coral Blue and Lilac Purple.

We should highlight that the Sunrise Gold Galaxy S9 won’t be limited to a particular carrier. Best Buy will sell the Verizon, Sprint and AT&T models, while Samsung.com will offer the phones unlocked. The larger storage options (128GB and 256GB) will be available only through Samsung directly.

The Sunrise Gold Galaxy S9 wants to be your summer phone

What’s more, for a limited time, customers can save up to $400 when they trade-in their phone for an unlocked Sunrise Gold Galaxy S9 on Samsung.com. At Best Buy, customers will also be able to save up to $300 on select carrier models.

Prices for the new Sunrise Gold Galaxy S9 remain the same, so starting June 24, the new version will be available for a suggested retail price of:

  • Galaxy S9 with 64GB storage – $719.99
  • Galaxy S9 with 128GB storage – $769.99
  • Galaxy S9 with 256GB storage – $839.99
  • Galaxy S9+ with 64GB storage – $839.99
  • Galaxy S9+ with 128GB storage – $789.99
  • Galaxy S9+ with 256GB storage – $959.99

Apart from color, the new Galaxy S9 and S9+ stays exactly the same as the previous models. The two come with similar exteriors, although they differ in size and camera arrangements. The Galaxy S9+ is the model which includes dual-cameras, although both boast a dual aperture lens that switched automatically between f/1.5 and f/2.4.

Other than that, the phones boast AMOLED displays of 5.8- and 6.2-inches in size. They also rely on the computing power of Qualcomm’s latest Snapdragon 845 processor.

Read our full review of the Samsung Galaxy S9 here

Android

[TA Deals] Master Adobe’s Creative Cloud with this CC training bundle

If you do any kind of creative work, you most likely know how popular Adobe’s programs are. They’re basically the standard for tons of hobbies and careers at this point, and we want to help you fully master some of those programs with the CC Training bundle. This bundle includes courses and lessons for several […]

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Android

Amazon now gives you up to $35 off a Fire TV Cube if you trade in a Roku or Chromecast

A few weeks ago Amazon unveiled the Fire TV Cube. A cross-breed between its popular Echo speaker and a Fire TV, the device aims to unite your smart home and media consumption under one all-encompassing Amazon device.

Amazon opened pre-orders for the device, which costs $120, earlier this month. Shipping is expected to start tomorrow. But if you haven’t ordered your Fire TV Cube yet, you might be interested to know that Amazon is currently offering a pretty sweet trade-in deal, which it hopes, will drive adoption of the new product.

Basically, you can trade-in an eligible device and get up to $35 off towards the purchase of the new Fire TV Cube.

Ready to trade in? Here are the eligible devices:

  • Roku set-top box or dongle
  • Apple TV
  • Google Chromecast device

Under the promotion, when you trade in an older, streaming device, Amazon will give you up to $2.99 as an Amazon gift card. Amazon notes it will even take devices that no longer work.

Once your trade in is accepted, you can place an order for a Fire TV Cube (or 4K Fire TV). The up to $35 savings will automatically be applied at checkout.

The amount of money you get back depends on the device you submit. But Amazon will let you know, so you can confirm the trade. For example, sending in a Roku streaming stick will get you a $25 discount on either the Fire TV Cube or 4K Fire TV, while the Chromecast Ultra will shave $35 off the Cube.

For more info on how to join the trade in program check with Amazon.

The Fire TV Cube is a pretty intriguing product, so the deal will most likely attract the attention of a lot of costumers. The box-shaped device can power your home entertainment system on and off, switch inputs on your TV, play or pause a show, and handle basic Alexa questions like: “How’s the weather going to be tomorrow?”

Android

YouTube Music vs Google Play Music: Everything you need to know

Google recently rolled out YouTube Music, their latest attempt at a cohesive streaming service. It brought some changes from the original YouTube Music app and YouTube Red but also deviates from Google’s previous music streaming app, Google Play Music. So what exactly is the difference between these two? Let’s find out. Interface If you’ve seen […]

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Android

Google’s dedicated Podcasts app is now available on the Play Store

Many of us listen to podcasts while we commute to work and back or exercise at the gym, often using third-party apps such as Pocket Casts to do so. In what could be a shot across the bows of such apps, Google has taken the wraps off of its dedicated Podcasts app that uses Google Assistant […]

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Android

Customize your Android with one of these six highly flexible apps

Have an Android phone that could use some freshening up? There’s nothing wrong with the performance, but you’ve just gotten a little bit tired of how it looks and feels. Fear not, one of the best things about the platform is that it allows for all sorts of customization. In fact, it has been one of our favorite things about Android since launch. Let’s customize your Android.

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The first thing you might want to consider doing is installing a custom launcher. There are plenty of them around and they don’t require too much effort to get them going. Although we’ve long been a fan of Nova and Nova Prime, there are some others out there which do some incredibly cool things.

Assuming you’ve already gone the route of a new launcher, or don’t care to, we’re going to share a handful of other Android apps to help liven up that phone. Note that this is only one half dozen titles to get you started and is by no means meant to be an exhaustive list. Rather, it’s six apps to get you headed in a new direction with your phone.

KLWP Live Wallpaper Maker | FREE

This all-in-one app combines live wallpapers and widgets with your phones launcher to create unique designs. Included in the bundle are skins, shapes, gradients, customizable text, and much more. It’s like having someone dump a box of delicious ingredients on your counter and letting you put togther a meal of your choosing.

Take a look through the Google Play Store and you’ll find all sorts of incredible apps and plugins to help. It’s not hard to go it alone, but some of the preset designs are downright irresistible. Pictures don’t do it justice; you’ll need to see some of these in action to truly appreciate them.

Heads up, though, you could find yourself dropping a fair amount of money on this over time. For starters, you’ll definitely want to support the developer and unlock the Pro Key ($3.50 US) version. Then, a dollar here and there starts to add up. All can be forgiven, though, because it’s of the sharpest looking stuff around.

KWGT Kustom Widget Maker | FREE

Now that you have a killer home screen you’ll want to customize your Android by tossing some widgets into the mix. That’s where this one comes into play. With KWGT you can careate customized watches in digital and analog design, weather widgets, battery and memory meters, music players, live maps, and so much more.

VinTypo is one of many apps with widgets designed for KWGT.

As you might expect, there’s a bunch of great widgets in the Play Store already waiting on you. Spend a few minutes looking around and you’ll surely see a few things that would look amazing on your phone. Like KLWP, there’s also a paid version for $3.50 that supports the developer and removes the ads.

Minimalist Wallpaper | FREE

One of the most popular trends in mobile phones these past few years is minimalism. Whether that’s wallpapers, icons, home screen layouts, apps, or even websites, the current fad is to keep things clean and clutter-free. If you want to customize your Android with something that’s not distracting at all, start here.

Minimalist Wallpaper is a free app that gives users access more than 1,000 minimalistic backgrounds. Some are more basic than others, but pretty much everything you’ll find here is easy on the eyes and won’t distract. You’ve got a host of categories to choose from so paring results down is quick; crop, zoom, edit, and share the wallpaper in seconds.

Notify Beta

Customize your Android’s way of handling notifications with this free client. Instead of the same stuff that shows up in your top tray, Notify Beta delivers them in a manner that resembles the achievements in Google Play Games. In other words, they’re colorful little bubble that slide down from the top with icons for easy app identification. A quick glance tells you exactly which app is notifying you, listing the message in the process.

Floatify Lockscreen | FREE

Given that not all people use Android 7.0 Nougat just yet, there’s an awful lot missing out on some cool features. One such detail, though, can be yours without any major software updates. Floatify Lockscreen is a free app that gives your phone a lock screen with notifications similar to what’s found in the latest Android release.

Want to send direct replies without waking the phone? Interested in controlling music from the lock screen? This app lets you do both; other options include waking on pickup or pulled from a pocket, heads up notifications, quick access to camera, and an expandable calendar of events.

Our advice: spend a buck on the Pro code and unlock a whole suite of extra goodies, including themes.

Dynamic Notifications | FREE

Formerly known as ActiveNotifications, this app doesn’t replace your lock screen but, rather, gives you more control over how notifications are treated. Don’t want or need to know of every little social media update, new email, or message? Dial the settings down and handpick which alert you. This is a great way to customize your Android without going crazy on the interface.

Say goodbye to boring notifications; the free app gives you the ability to adjust appearance (date, color, images, backgrounds) of your alerts. And, thanks to the proximity and ambient light sensors in phones, it won’t bother lighting up when it’s in a pocket, purse, or face down.

For a couple of dollars more we definitely recommend going with the Premium features. Among the details here are breathing/pulsing notifications, “Night” mode, customized timeouts, and hiding sensitive info such as SMS sender. Want the phone to wake to the notifications upon picking it up? That comes with the $2 in-app upgrade, too.

Android

Nuu Mobile G3 review: Sexy, with a side of substance

As we hit the middle of 2018, one of the most common words used to describe a phone is “premium”. But, what exactly does that mean, though? A few years back it was used to signal the difference between a plastic, polycarbonate phone from one that was built with a combination of glass and metal.

Replaceable batteries went the way of the dodo bird as phones closed up tightly and incorporated waterproof protection. Indeed, the high end devices of 2015 looked strikingly more beautiful and more put together than a budget phone.

Here we are today and everything smacks of ‘premium’. In other words, it’s not as easy to tell a top-tier flagship from an entry-level device. A $200 handset, at first blush, doesn’t look all that different from an $800 one.

For most people, a basic smartphone is all that they need for a daily driver. Sure, the specs from a brand new model are drool-worthy; that is, if you care about the internals. But, when it comes down to it, many consumers don’t know what’s going inside of a phone. They just want it to work and they want it to wow them with cool features every so often.

When it comes to the idea of a “budget phone”, we like to think that encompasses those which are $250 and below. It’s in this area where you find a lot of devices which feature the specifications from a generation or two back. Often you’ll get an older version of Android paired with hardware that’s similar to a flagship from about 18 months ago.

Does a budget phone mean you’ll sacrifice performance? For many that answer is no. When you think about your daily needs and usage, it’s not all that different today than it was a a few years ago. Are you really doing that much more with your device that you demand more from it? If so, you’ve likely become an early adopter or one who watches the space more closely.

A large amount of the people we know are content with buying something a little older in the name of saving a few bucks. This is probably why you see so many older Androids and iPhones running around. Not everyone is holding onto these phones for years and years; some are buying them a year after they come out. And why not? They hold up.

Nuu Mobile G3

This brings us to the Nuu Mobile G3. As a $200 smartphone, it’s an unlocked device that works with AT&T, T-Mobile, and other GSM carriers. On paper it has all the markings of a mid-range phone. In hand, it looks and feels like a Samsung Galaxy S8 clone.

Nuu Mobile has been in the game for more than a few years but we’ve never got the sense that it wanted to play outside of the budget arena. Not that it’s previous models felt cheap or generic; they just weren’t all that glamorous. The G3 is a departure to be sure.

Design & Build

We were immediately impressed with the design, starting with the blue color choice. Taking the phone out and looking it over, we already felt like this was a different Nuu Mobile. Thanks to its glass, curves, and shiny aesthetics, the handset could pass for a much pricier phone at a glance.

Peel the curtain back just a bit, though, and you’ll note that Nuu doesn’t use Corning Gorilla Glass or any sort of added protection. In other words, you’re likely one drop away from ruining that sexy design. The phone comes with a case, but it’s more for protection against scrapes and scratches, not outright drops.

After those first few minutes with the G3 we realized that it was a fingerprint and oil magnet. You can’t touch this thing without leaving some trace behind. That’s the problem when you use materials like glass; but, it’s no different with any other brands.

 

Display

The G3 offers up a 5.7-inch display with an 18:9 aspect ratio which is pretty much the standard for today’s mid and upper range of phones. The size no longer feels unwieldy thanks to thinner bezels and the more narrow approach. Don’t mistake the G3 as being bezel-free or bezel-less; there’s a little more here than what pricier competitors are doing. It’s certainly not bad, and we are happy to forgive based on price.

The volume buttons and power button are on the right side of the phone, with power having its own pattern printed. Easy to identify in a hurry, it also helps when grabbing to check notifications in the dark.

Around back you’ll see there’s a dual-camera system in place, with the LED flash off to the right. The fingerprint reader is just below the camera setup. You might want to keep an eye on the cameras for smudges or smears as you get familiar with the lay of the land. Those who have not used a rear fingerprint reader might take a couple of days to get acclimated.

On the bottom of the device are the speakers and USB Type C charging port. Noticeably absent here is the 3.5mm headphone jack. Included in the box, though, you get a USB C to 3.5mm adapter so you’re not completely out if you have a preferred pair of wired headphones. On the other hand, you’ll not be able to charge and listen to music at the same time.

Other Impressions

Given the phone has glass on the back we might have expected wireless charging. Most other device makers who opt for this material will include the nearly standard option. It’s interesting to us that Nuu decided to forgo the headphone jack and not go wireless for charging. One feels like an unnecessary “me too” move while the other would have made more sense.

For a $200 phone the G3 comes with rather impressive hardware specifications on paper. The 2.3GHz MediaTek octa-core processor, paired with 4GB RAM and 64GB internal storage, are more than adequate for most users. Toss in the 13-megapixel and 5-megapixel rear camera setup and you’re looking at a great utilitarian experience.

Camera

The most popular trend in phones over the last year is probably the advent of dual-cameras. Not one on the front and one on the back, mind you, but two on the rear. Today’s mid-range and upper-end phones routinely come with a secondary sensor. That’s the case with the Nuu Mobile G3.

The primary lens on the back is 13-megapixels with the secondary shooter offering 5-megapixels of its own. The former does the heavy lifting while the latter helps to create bokeh effects and better portrait shots.

When you have excellent lighting or are outside the photos captured feature a good amount of detail with admirable color. Pictures are captured pretty quickly and write to the phone in a fairly snappy manner.

Get into lower lighting situations we found the camera experience suffered. With no image stabilization to be found, you’ll have to do your best to hold the phone still. Otherwise, you run the risk of blurry photos. This happened more times than we would have liked in our time with the phone.

The camera app itself is much better than we expected at this price point. It’s pretty easy to cut corners and go with a generic camera app on a budget phone. A lot of people like their own camera apps or filters and spend their time editing and tweaking. We were pleased at the array of options to choose from in the G3.

Among the choices available are Portrait Mode for better personal portraits and Beauty Filter for cleaning up imperfections and evening out skin tone.

It will probably take you a good day or two to figure out what the phone is capable of capturing and what it’s not. It’s a pretty fine line, though, and we wish it were more in the direction of capable.

Performance

In practice, however, you might start to notice the shortcomings. Admittedly, the drawbacks and differences we tend to find are often based on comparisons to other, more powerful daily usage phones.

With that said, we found the G3 to be good at multi-tasking and hopping around apps and games. We never had an overwhelming or outright powerful sensation, but we didn’t feel slighted.

The more time we spent with this phone the more we viewed it as good or moderately impressive. We didn’t quite get to “great”, but that’s likely because we spend most days with a Pixel 2 or something equivalent. We know great and we weren’t paying for it here.

The 3,000mAh battery gets us through a day’s worth of usage with some left over at night. With support for fast charging, it does come with a 5 watt charger. It’s not quite as fast as what’s available from other phone makers, but if you’re charging overnight, you won’t know that. Starting from zero, though, it takes a good two and a half hours to fully charge up.

Android

In terms of software, the Nuu Mobile G3 runs Android 7.1 Nougat out of the box. We’re torn on how we feel about this as Android 8.0 has been out for some time now and Android P is already getting tested.

Nuu Mobile pitches this as a flagship device, not as a flagship killer. It doesn’t try to pass the phone off as something that would best your current handset or the next big thing. Instead, it represents the new look and feel, and direction, of the brand. It’s its own flagship experience; it happens to be at least one step behind in software.

As we do with other phones, we care that we get the most current version of Android available. If that’s not feasible, we want updates or promises that one will soon follow. Moreover, we want to know that security is a priority. Are bug fixes and patches coming? It’s hard to say what we should expect with the Nuu Mobile G3.

For what it’s worth, the G3 does ship with a pretty lean build of Android. There’s basically nothing added here save for a web browser that’s quite similar to Chrome. Another notably inclusion is the Face Lock feature which lets you unlock your device with a quick glance at the front-facing camera.

Conclusion

When viewing the G3 through the same lens as, say, a Blu phone of the same price point, it becomes tougher to poke the holes. What one might be guilty of, the other likely is, too. This means tempering expectations a little bit and trying to forget what your daily driver is like.

Knowing that phones can range anywhere from about $100 up to $900, you have to keep in mind what the cost of a device is when reviewing it. It’s completely unfair to compare it to something that costs twice, or three times as much.

With that in mind, we think the Nuu Mobile G3 is an excellent value proposition for the money. Sure, it’s got an older version of Android but that probably matters zero in the big scheme of things. Just because we know it’s outdated doesn’t mean that the typical user will. Moreover, the UI is largely the same, and we’re still pretty happy with it.

If you have a GSM carrier such as AT&T or T-Mobile, or are considering switching to one of them, the G3 will be compatible. You’ve also got quite a few prepaid carriers that will support the device as well.

For those of you who shop with budget in mind, and won’t be spreading the cost of a phone out over two years, this is a great starting point. You don’t have to get into $300-$500 phones to last you a couple of years. The G3 is proof that you can definitely get the job done cheaply and still look sharp doing it.

Android

YouTube Premium, Pokemon Go, and Datally (Podcast #14)

It has been another quiet few days in the world of smartphones, but there’s still plenty to talk about today. In this episode of the AndroidGuys podcast, we discuss a number of Google endeavors as well as major new features to Pokemon Go. Listen in as Scott and Andrew tackle Android Messages, Datally, YouTube Premium, and more.

Topics

It’s our goal to keep these podcasts short but there’s a reason we lovingly refer to it as “The 15-minute podcast that’s never 15 minutes”. We hope you enjoy the show!

Don’t Miss

Subscribe to the AndroidGuys Audio Experience!

You can download or subscribe to the podcasts wherever you normally find your favorite shows. For your convenience, you can also click the links below.

Google Play Music | Simplecast | iTunes | Stitcher | Pocket Casts

For questions, concerns, or general feedback about the podcast feel free to contact us at podcast [at] androidguys.com.

Android

Save 80% on two years of NordVPN

Gone are the days where the only folks who would need a proxy internet connection are the nefarious creeps at the internet cafe. In our modern world of rapidly vanishing privacy, it’s increasingly important to protect yourself your data.

We’ve all seen more and more reports of compromised security, leaks, and hacks and there’s nothing in the cards that makes us believe we should expect things to get any safer in the immediate future. How does one safeguard their internet activity? NordVPN.

Features

  • Secure any Internet connection: public Wi-Fi hotspots, cellular networks & more
  • Bypass content restrictions & stay anonymous
  • Rest easy knowing that your activity is not recorded anywhere (no log policy)
  • Get online access anywhere w/ 3,521 worldwide server locations in 61 different countries
  • Enjoy high speed connections for streaming video & content access
  • Automatically shut down your site as soon as the VPN connection drops, so no data is revealed
  • Use secret notes that auto-destroy & an encrypted chat function
  • Connect six devices simultaneously
  • Use unlimited data

NordVPN affords you the ability to anonymously connect to the internet with private encryption. That means your data won’t be out in the open on those sketchy public Wi-Fi and mobile networks. Also, no activity-logs… not that you’d have any reason for that to be an issue.

In all sincerity, this is a great service to protect yourself and your valuable information. This offer typically goes for $345 but AndroidGuys readers get the subscription for 75% off. You pay just $69 for two years of safety and peace of mind.

Android

Samsung won’t be using a notch in the Galaxy Note 9

A sample of the screen of the Galaxy Note 9 has leaked online, confirming that Samsung will be sticking with a very similar design that they’ve been using for the past couple of years. Normally, that’s not really a big deal and would honestly be a boring story, but it’s 2018 and it’s an absolute […]

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