10 best and worst things about the Galaxy S8

It’s been a little over a month since I’ve had the Samsung Galaxy S8/S8+ in my possession. A good portion of that time the S8 was my daily driver so by now, I’d like to think that I’ve got a pretty good grasp on some of the biggest pros and cons with the phone.

The Galaxy S8 is the Swiss Army knife of Android phones, packing just about every notable advancement we’ve seen in mobile devices over the past few years into a single, cohesive, all-inclusive package. But you know what they say about being the Jack of all trades, don’t you?

The same could be said about the Galaxy S8 and there are definitely some trade-offs that come with Samsung’s kitchen sink approach. For almost everything I love about the phone, there is an equal (or greater) number of things that just really irk me. Let’s take a look.

1. Gorgeous design

There’s little to be said about that Galaxy S8’s design that you probably couldn’t already tell by looking at it. In most cases photos rarely do a phone justice, but in this case they do. The Galaxy S8 is easily one of the best looking smartphones in the world and you’d be hard pressed to find a single bad angle.

This mostly has to do with the curved display and where most smartphones these days are little more than boring slabs with thick bezels, the Galaxy S8 smashes previous conventions with a phone that’s slim, has no camera hump, features small bezels, and yet is still easy to hold with one hand. It’s a modern marvel.

Even if you hated last year’s S7 Edge, Samsung has definitely improved the design with the S8 carrying a more refined feel. Samsung flattened out the metal frame that surrounds the phone, making the S8 feel incredibly ergonomic. It’s nearly impossible to feel where the metal frame stops and the glass begins, making the phone feel like one cohesive, smooth piece of glass.

The edge screen has been improved upon as well. It’s not quite as extreme as the S6/S7 Edge, with a more subtle curve that only bends slightly around the sides. This allows your fingers to hold the phone normally without creeping over onto the edges of the display (a big complaint of mine with the S7 Edge).

2. Perfectly small bezels

Large bezels were never a huge problem in Android, that is, not until devices started making the switch on over to on-screen navigation buttons. This meant less screen real estate (as a portion of the screen was now dedicated to displaying nav buttons) and a giant chin of wasted space at the bottom where capacitive buttons used to be.

It’s now 2017 and while I don’t have a problem with capacitive keys (I know some folks do), if you’re going to make a flagship smartphone with onscreen navigation buttons there’s only way to do it: small bezels. Thankfully, Samsung and LG have are the first OEMs to finally champion the new design aesthetic, making devices like the Sony Xperia XZ and Google Pixel look extremely dated.

3. Surprisingly quick iris / face scanning

By now you’ve probably heard complaints regarding to the fingerprint sensor on the Galaxy S8. While it’s easy to harp on the phone for this shortcoming, the Galaxy S8’s other forms of “biometric” security almost make up for it. In fact, I’d even go as far as saying the phone’s built-in iris and face scanning are practically indispensable forms of lock screen security once you get the hang of it.

We’re not talking about Ice Cream Sandwich’s slow facial unlock. The Galaxy S8 can begin scanning for your face immediately upon pressing the power button (if you opt for it). I was actually quite taken aback at how fast facial unlock was but iris scanning is even quicker, practically instant if you keep your eyes open wide and already have the phone in the correct position. It does take some getting used to, but once you do it’s a damn near effortless way to unlock your phone. It really is that good.

4. Micro SD AND 64GB of internal storage?

One of the most surprising specs to come out of the Galaxy S8’s hardware was its internal storage. Typically, manufacturers tend to opt for the lowest amount of usable storage when their phone also comes equipped with a micro SD card slot. And while Samsung could have easily gotten away with 32GB in the Galaxy S8 without anyone batting an eye (you know, like LG did with the G6) — they took the high road and equipped the phone with 64GB of internal storage.

That’s plenty of room to store all your apps, games, and media on the device and when you need a little extra bump in storage (4K shooting is quite nice on the phone), just pop in a micro SD card and you’re good to go. Bra-freaking-vo, Samsung.

5. Always On Display is completely underrated

It’s easy to forget about smaller, yet still incredibly convenient features like Samsung’s Always On Display. Also known as “AOD,” the software feature constantly displays various FaceWidgets while the screen is off. This makes it incredibly easy to see helpful information like the time, calendar, notifications, or even a photo of a loved one at-a-glance.

To help prevent burn-in, the dimly lit widgets will slightly change their position around the screen and have a minimal impact on battery life thanks to Samsung’s AMOLED technology. The next best thing would be Moto’s Active Display (which only displays when it detects your hand is near), but even then it doesn’t hold a candle to having information constantly visible at all times.

6. Dual Audio & Separate App Audio

A much talked about feature in the Galaxy S8 is Dual Audio. All made possible thanks to Bluetooth 5.0, Dual Audio allows you to stream audio from the phone to two separate Bluetooth audio devices at the same time. While practical uses are limited (there can be some slight lag between the two audio devices), it’s an easy way to fill a room with multiple Bluetooth speakers, stream something to two separate Bluetooth headphones during a flight, or any combination of the two.

Arguably the more useful feature is something Samsung calls separate app audio. This allows you to pick a specific app you want to be played through a Bluetooth audio device, while all the other apps on your device only play sound through your phone’s actual speaker.

In theory, you could have Spotify play through a Bluetooth audio device, while still being able to watch YouTube videos, play a game, or do anything else on your phone without interrupting playback. Unfortunately, the feature seems rather limited and although we couldn’t get it working properly, it did work the other way around (black listing an app from playing through a Bluetooth audio device), so that works too.

7. Headphone jack is here to stay… for now

It feels almost weird to list this as some sort of cool or unique feature, but with more smartphones launching these days without a headphone jack, we love the fact that Samsung kept it around for one more year.

We’re not sure what 2018 holds, but when the biggest Android OEM in the world attempts to buck the trend, more OEMs will hopefully follow suit.

8. Samsung DeX desktop interface

Deep inside the Galaxy S8’s bag of tricks, there’s the ability to convert the phone’s OS into a full desktop user interface. Although much more limited than your desktop PC, it’s one of those features not everyone will use all the time, but can certainly come in handy when you need to get some real work done on the phone.

The only downside is that fact that you need to use Samsung’s pricey $150 DeX dock to enable this functionality, but if you’re crunching numbers and filling out spreadsheets, there’s a good chance you can afford it.

9. Samsung Pay is a game changer

Like some of you, I figured this was one of those “extra” features that was kinda neat, but I’d never actually use it. The day I forgot my wallet at home, Samsung Pay finally revealed itself to me as a must-have smartphone feature.

Nobody comes close to this kind of versatility or compatibility with existing credit card terminals or tap-to-pay. The crazy part? You can only get this functionality on a Samsung device.

10. Water proofing is practically mandatory in 2017

You can talk about RAM and octa-core processing speeds all day, but a waterproofed smartphone is one of those tangible hardware features that really resonates with consumers. It’s almost crazy to think that not every smartphone these days isn’t waterproof but it’s only recently starting to become more commonplace.

Samsung has arguably been doing it before anyone, with the Galaxy S5 being one of the first waterproof phones on the market. That legacy continues with the Galaxy S8 and while there are some trade-offs (like piss poor speaker quality), I honestly wouldn’t have it any other way.

1. Annoying curved screen

There’s no denying the curved AMOLED display on the S8 looks great, but it might be one of the phone’s most polarizing design features. Not everyone is into it and for me, it’s actually one of the biggest downsides to the S8. Let me put it this way…

If any other Android manufacturer tried selling a top-tier smartphone with a mostly great display — the exception being extreme light bleed along the sides and a distorted colors — tech reviewers the world over would absolutely crucify it. Yet, for some strange reason, the Galaxy S8 gets a pass for no other reason than, “It looks cool.” Sorry, but it’s the classic tale of form over function. And we haven’t even gotten into some of the other issues…

The edge screen doesn’t just create weird colors and distortion, but it creates an excessive amount of glare, is extremely fragile, and nearly impossible to screen protect. In other words: the curved display simply isn’t worth the trade-off.

2. Random display issues

Even when you don’t consider all the weirdness associated with the curved the display, there’s plenty of other display issues to talk about. For one, the strange 18.5:9 aspect ratio means not every app will even be displayed in full screen, negating those wonderfully small bezels. When watching most videos online, you’ll have big black bars on each side, in addition to the occasional letterboxing.

There’s also been reports of users already experiencing burn-in, red tint inconsistencies, image bleed, and awful grayscale banding. While there’s plenty to love about the Galaxy S8’s display, it’s certainly not perfect.

3. Camera isn’t the best

2017 is the year we’re seeing smartphone manufactures slap dual-cameras on everything from budget devices to flagships. Although it was rumored Samsung would adopt a similar hardware upgrade for the Galaxy S8, they apparently decided to play it safe instead.

The Galaxy S8 features mostly the same camera specs as last year’s model. In fact, in our own tests, we found the quality is damn near identical in almost every way to the Galaxy S7/S7 Edge. The craziest part? The S6 actually produced more favorable results in daylight shooting, with greater detail and less aggressive noise filtering.

Don’t believe me? See the results for yourself.

4. Bloated software experience

There was a time when Samsung was making an real attempt at dialing back their custom user interface on their devices. That time is long gone and you’ll be hard pressed to find a more bloated software experience than TouchWiz on the Galaxy S8. Samsung’s custom Android UI is extremely heavy and bleeds into almost every facet of the software.

The phone’s software even takes it upon itself to permanently “sleep” apps you haven’t used in a few days. This can result in the normal functioning of apps even preventing them from sending you notifications. This feature sounds great in theory, but does far more harm than good.

There’s also so much bloatware and duplicate services found on the S8 that you’ll find yourself bombarded with constant notifications, updates, reminders, and warnings from TouchWiz reminding you to do this, that, or the other thing. It’s maddening.

I know I sound like a stereotypical Android enthusiast (read: fanboy), but I’m sure I speak for a lot of people when I say I’d absolutely kill to have a Galaxy S8 running stock Android. A guy can dream.

5. Performance s-s-s-stutters

The Galaxy S8’s bloated software experience probably wouldn’t bother me so much if performance didn’t suffer as a result. The phone’s UI can be a bit janky, with constant stutters, dropped frames, and even the occasional reboot.

It doesn’t help that — as with previous Galaxy devices — the phone employs extremely aggressive RAM management, closing apps much quicker than you’ll find on just about any other device. It may not sound like a huge deal, but this means you’ll spend more time opening apps that have been closed before their time than returning to them instantly.

This makes the phone feel slower overall, and performs notably worse than even budget Android devices like the Moto G5 Plus or Moto Z Play.

6. Non oleophobic back glass = fingerprint magnet

Upon picking up the Galaxy S8 for the first time, the first thing you’re likely to notice is how much of a fingerprint magnet that back glass is. Unlike the front display glass which is covered with a smooth, oleophobic coating, the back of the device — for reasons we can’t figure out — wasn’t given the same treatment.

This means every time you pick up the phone, you’re going to see fingerprints, smudges, and other unsightly build up stick to the glass. I know what you’re thinking: this was also a problem with the Galaxy S7/S7 Edge — so why the outrage? Well, that’s because the Galaxy S6’s back glass had an oleophobic coating that stood the test of time. So we know it’s certainly possible, Samsung just couldn’t be bothered with it on the S8.

7. Awful fingerprint reader on all counts

There was a time when Samsung’s fingerprint readers were some of the best in the biz. The Galaxy S6 was solid, and the S7’s was even better. You’d think Samsung would have the technology down pat by now, but something went horribly wrong with the Galaxy S8.

For one, Samsung moved the fingerprint reader to the back of the device, just to the left of the camera (and not in the middle of the phone like most Android devices). I’m not going to get into the front vs back fingerprint reader debate, but no matter where you stand, I think we can all agree that Samsung’s unique implementation is by far the worst way to go.

It probably wouldn’t even have been as much of a problem if they hadn’t stuck it in the most awkward place possible. With the phone being so tall, it makes it extremely difficult to reach all the way to the top of the phone and the fact that there’s no hump or indentation means you can’t tell if you’re fingering the camera or the fingerprint sensor.

This is only made worse once you find out how slow and inaccurate the fingerprint reader is, failing to recognize prints or taking an eternity to unlock the phone while you carefully reposition your phone for another try. It really is the worst Android fingerprint sensor I’ve used in quite some time, forcing you to rely on other forms of authentication like the S8’s iris or facial scanning (which do work great, by the way).

8. Speaker sounds like it’s underwater

A sort of side effect that comes with waterproofing a smartphone is speaker quality is greatly diminished as a result. I knew this going in, but I wasn’t prepared for the tinny — borderline painful — sound that spews out of the Galaxy S8. It’s only really audible at the last few notches where it can get pretty loud, but it’s not clear and extremely distorted at higher volumes.

Samsung could have easily improved this by employing the pseudo stereo speakers used in the HTC 10, iPhone 7, and Huawei Mate 9. On those devices, the earpiece is used for higher end, much like a tweeter. Instead Samsung played it safe and speaker quality on the S8 is one of the worst you’ll find on an Android device.

9. Old fast charging tech that only works when the display is off

We’re not seeing any new advancements in the fast charging on the Galaxy S8. The phone still uses the exact same “Adaptive Fast Charging” speeds we’ve seen since the Galaxy S6, which is roughly the equivalent of Quick Charge 2.0. It’s certainly better than slow charging, but with the phone’s Snapdragon 835 processor being fully compatible with Qualcomm’s Quick Charge 4.0, I can’t for the life of my figure out why it wasn’t used in the S8/S8+.

But here’s the real kicker: Samsung’s adaptive fast charging only works while the screen is off.

That means if you’re in a hurry and need to quickly juice up, you can’t actually be using the phone. You’ll have to turn off the screen and set the phone down in order for Fast Charging to kick in. A lot of people don’t know this little tidbit and Samsung’s incredibly deceptive Fast Charging notification certainly isn’t helping. The cleverly forget to tell you that your phone technically isn’t “Fast Charging” until you turn off the display, a caveat we’ve seen with all previous Galaxy S flagships.

10. Bixby is so half-baked, it’s practically raw

Samsung’s answer to Google Assistant is their own virtual assistant called Bixby. It’s sort of half baked right now, with only Bixby Vision working on the S8 and S8+. Bixby Vision is supposed to be capable of identifying objects in real life, showing you relevant information or allowing you to buy the same product on Amazon. While the idea is certainly interesting, in execution Bixby Vision rarely gets it right.

There’s also Hello Bixby, which you can pull up by pressing the physical Bixby button on the side of the phone. There’s an extreme delay when pressing the Bixby button and it takes an eternity for the Bixby Home app to actually launch. Although the Bixby Home hub is somewhat useful (it’s like a news feed showing you the day’s events, weather, and what’s trending on social), I don’t imagine anyone is really using it.

Adding insult to injury, Samsung blocked the remapping of the Bixby button in a recent software update. At one point, it was actually possible to have the Bixby button launch any app of your choosing, something that apparently ruffled Samsung’s feathers the wrong way.

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And that’s going to just about wrap things up for the Galaxy S8 and S8+. No smartphone is perfect (probably by design) and the Galaxy S8 certainly is no different. I think I’ve covered just about all of the phone’s best features and annoying quirks, but if you there’s anything extra you’d like to add in either category, feel free to shout them out. I’d love to hear your thoughts.

http://phandroid.com/2017/05/26/samsung-galaxy-s8-best-worst/

Everything we know: OnePlus 5 edition

Whenever someone mentions OnePlus, there are usually a bunch of folks who pop their heads up to see what’s going on from the company that coined the “flagship killer” phrase. Since we’re into 2017, it only makes sense that we have been seeing an array of rumors, leaks, and confirmations regarding the company’s 2017 flagship, which is shaping up to be yet another impressive iteration.

Today, we’re going to take a look at everything that has been shared regarding the device, and where we think the OnePlus 5 will end up when everything’s all said and done. So without further adieu, let’s take a look at what’s we are expecting to see from the OnePlus 5.

Early Beginnings

With the OnePlus 3T launching in late 2016, we weren’t exactly sure what the plan was for OnePlus’ next smartphone, but the rumor mill began working its magic back in February. This first set of rumors was regarding what the spec sheet would look like, and suggested that we would see 256GB of storage, 8GB of RAM, and a 23MP main camera.

This was also the first mention of OnePlus skipping the “OnePlus 4” and going straight to the OnePlus 5, but we’ll get to that momentarily. As you would expect from early rumors, these were just a bit outrageous, even with OnePlus’ track record of being the first company to do something in a smartphone (*cough* 6GB of RAM *cough*).

The next rumor came in the form of a ‘leaked” render, which showed the device featuring a color scheme similar to the Midnight Black OnePlus 3T which was released in a limited capacity earlier this year. This was also the first mention that we saw of OnePlus opting to join the dual-camera devices that we have seen from the likes of LG and others. However, not everything lined up with this render, and it was put on the back burner.

Finally, on May 1st, we saw what were supposedly camera samples from the OnePlus 5, which looked pretty good. But the problem here was the fact that there was no way to trace these images back to a OnePlus device, let alone the fabled OnePlus 5. So again, we were left scratching our heads wondering what was going on.

Let the hype train begin

The real fun began a couple of days later after OnePlus CEO Pete Lau shared an image teasing the OnePlus 5. The image was nothing more than a phone mockup with some cartoon characters working around the edges, along with some gears on the inside. Considering this image came from the OnePlus CEO himself, many folks began getting hyped up for the impending launch of the OnePlus 5.

A week after the image was shared, OnePlus decided to spark the flames a bit more after the company confirmed that the OnePlus 5 would be released sometime in the Summer. Additionally, the company confirmed that the device would actually be called the OnePlus 5 due to a Chinese tradition of the number four being considered unlucky. This is due to the number “four” sounding similar to “death” in the Chinese language. (This is also known as Tetraphobia.)

At the same time, another spec leak of the device showed the device to include 8GB of RAM, along with 128GB of storage.This was an odd leak as the icons in the status bar were covered, and it’s really not that difficult to change these kinds of screenshots to show what you want them to.

Is this the real deal?

Moving backward for a second, we previously mentioned that leaks suggested the OP5 would feature a dual camera setup on the rear. Well, it seems that feature was confirmed after Carl Pei seemingly leaked a device prototype on one of his Instagram Stories.

The unknown device was spotted in the background and showed off the dual camera setup which was placed horizontally on the device. This differed from the vertical placement that we had seen in previous renders and leaks.

The OnePlus team then took to Weibo to give everyone another teaser, with a new image. This image said nothing more than “Hello 5”, and again confirmed the naming for the upcoming device.

We’ll give OnePlus a pat on the back for knowing how to keep its fans interested and excited.

Here come the prototypes

Over the next few days we saw a couple of new spec leaks for the OnePlus 5, but the two listings varied just a bit. The first listing, from Geekbuying, suggested that we could see 8GB of RAM, the Snapdragon 835 SoC, and a HUGE 4,000mAh battery. But these were only to be squashed by AnTuTu benchmark results which appeared.

Yet again we saw a 5.5-inch FHD display, while the OP5 was being powered by the Snapdragon 835 and 6GB of RAM. The results also showed that we would see a 16MP sensor used for both the main shooter and the selfie camera.

Regardless, there were bigger fish to fry as we got a new look at some prototypes of the device that OnePlus was working on. These showed a gunmetal finish to the device, while confirming that the company was at the very least, considering the implementation of dual rear-facing cameras.

The second leaked prototype showed another iteration of the dual-camera setup. Unlike the first one, which saw the flash placed between the camera module and OnePlus Logo. The second one saw the flash placed into the camera module itself, in between both sensors. This second set of prototype images also began sparking controversy regarding whether the device would still include a 3.5mm headphone jack, but more on that later.

If there are two things to take note of at this point in the game, it’s that there are way too many leaks that don’t really make sense or don’t follow what you would expect. But hey, OnePlus has a track record of doing the unexpected, so who knows.

DxO Labs and OnePlus

The HTC U11 was launched, and DxO Labs rated it as the best camera ever seen on a smartphone, passing the likes of the Pixel and Pixel XL. Why is this important? Because a few days later, DxO Labs and OnePlus announced a partnership for the two companies to work on the OnePlus 5’s camera.

We aren’t saying that the OnePlus cameras of the past were terrible, but there was definitely some room to grow, and it seems that OnePlus is dedicated to doing so with the OnePlus 5. This partnership definitely perked our ears up and left us again wondering what was in store for the upcoming device. Would it use a single camera sensor? Would OnePlus use two (or more) sensors? Is the sky still blue? (/s)

What about the headphone jack?

Then it seems that OnePlus decided to take all of the wind out of its sails after Carl Pei decided to tease the removal of the 3.5mm headphone jack from the OP5. We’ve seen folks grab their pitchforks before over this, but if OnePlus were to do the same thing, there’s no telling what Reddit and the OnePlus Forums would look like. It would be like the “Red Wedding all over again.

This tease was only compounded after further investigation of the leaked OnePlus 5 prototypes. Although only the bottom was shown in the leaked images, some were beginning to fear that the 3.5mm headphone jack would actually be removed, despite it being found on the top of the OnePlus 3T.

OnePlus Confirmations

Over the last week or so, we have seen OnePlus confirm some information regarding the OnePlus 5, leaving only a little bit of imagination left for us to deal with. First, the OnePlus Twitter account decided to poll its followers with an image of 4 different color variants which could grace the OnePlus 5. However, of these 4 color options, we believe only 3 of them to be truly possible, with the 4th looking like the Starbucks pink and blue Unicorn Frappucino.

Then we got some solid information from OnePlus CEO, Pete Lau. After being asked on Weibo whether the OP5 would feature a fingerprint scanner, Lau confirmed that the front-facing scanner would make a return. But, my mind working the way that it does, I began wondering if we could viably see OnePlus introducing an ultrasonic fingerprint scanner while removing the home button. This likely won’t happen, but hey, it’s fun to dream.

The latest confirmation is the least surprising one. In a post on the OnePlus Forums, Lau confirmed that the OnePlus 5 would be powered by the Snapdragon 835. Considering the fact that this is the latest and greatest processor available, everyone already expected the SD835 to be powering the OP5. On the bright side, it’s just one less thing to worry about when the device is launched.

Our final thoughts

So there has been a lot of information shared and leaked regarding the OnePlus 5 over the last couple of months. This is likely due to the fact that we are nearing the launch of the device, which has only been compounded by the announcement that the company is experiencing some stocking shortages for the OnePlus 3T.

As for what I think the OnePlus 5 will have in tow? Here’s a quick rundown:

  • 5.5-inch Full HD Display
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 835
  • 6GB OR 8GB of RAM
  • 64GB/128GB Storage
  • 16MP Front Facing Camera
  • 23MP Rear Facing Camera
  • 3,750mAh Battery
  • Android 7.1.1 Nougat w/OxygenOS
  • USB Type-C charging port with Dash Charge

Let us know what you think about what the OnePlus 5 will have in store for us, and whether your thoughts line up with mine.

http://phandroid.com/2017/05/25/oneplus-5-rumor-roundup/

Galaxy S8 5,000mAh battery case for $32 [VIDEO]

It’s hard to deny that the Samsung Galaxy S8/S8+ is a fantastic smartphone and while there’s plenty to love about the device, battery life has become a point of contention on the smaller model. Because of its smaller battery size, the phone will often times need to be topped at some point in the day, that is if you don’t want your S8 dying on you before bed.

While this isn’t a huge problem per se (it’s pretty much on par with other 3,000mAh flagships), there are times when you know you’re going to be spending an extended amount of time away from the charger. Be it trip to a family outing, theme park, traveling, etc., limiting usage when you should be snapping photos, recording videos, or sharing them on social networks isn’t always fun. Even then, our phones are not only a source of entertainment but a lifeline in the event of an emergency. Nobody wants to worry about their phone dying on them prematurely.

A common fix for this problem is by using a portable battery charger to keep your S8 juiced up while on-the-go, but you’ll need to bring an extra Type C cable that’s constantly tethered to the battery bank. That’s a lot of extra stuff and if you’re limited on pocket space, can be a hassle in itself. There’s a better way.

A more streamlined solution is an actual battery case. These are thick cases with batteries inside them that attach to your phone like a normal case. Mophie has a nice option that also outfits your phone with wireless charging but at $100, it’s a little more than I was looking to spend.

However, I was able to find a much less expensive option on Amazon for only $32. Made by a brand called ICONIC, it’s somewhat of a generic model and not only is it a fraction of the price of the Mophie, it also provides a higher capacity 5,000mAh battery for the money (5,500mAh for the S8+ model). You really can’t beat that value.

Build quality of the battery case is a bit lacking and It doesn’t by any means feel expensive but it what it lacks in looks, it makes up for in utility. I did like how it’s covered in a soft touch finish for added grip, although it doesn’t provide much in terms of full frontal protection. The TPU/rubber frame is extremely thin and doesn’t provide much of a lip. In reality, this is more like a streamlined battery backpack than a heavy duty case and honestly, I’m okay with that.

The case features a built-in integrated circuit design to prevent any short circuiting or overcharging your phone and uses an “intelligent switch” to extend battery life on your phone. To activate, just long press the LED button on the back with an output of 1.8A. It’s definitely not fast charging, but it’s a safe speed that will still fully charge your device no matter what you’re doing (navigation, Pokemon GO, gaming) in a little under 2 hours.

The colors of the button will tell you how much juice is left inside the battery pack and provide enough juice to full charge the Galaxy S8 at least one time and then some (my tests gave me another 30% after a full charge).

  • Red: 1-25%
  • Blue: 25-50%
  • Green: 50-75%
  • White: 75-100%

Charging both your phone and the battery pack is also easy, just insert the charging cable/power adapter that came with your S8 into the bottom and it’ll provide power to both devices. Of course, you can also charge the battery case separately if you’re short on time and don’t want to split 1.8A between the two. The LED blinks while it’s charging, and will stay solid when it’s fully charged. It’s also worth noting that while inside the battery case, you can’t transfer data to/from your computer.

Overall, the ICONIC 5,000mAh battery case for the Galaxy S8 and S8+ is a tremendous value. With summer coming just around the corner, it could be the perfect way to keep your Galaxy S8 charged while you’re snapping photos, recording videos, or playing Pokemon GO for an extended period of time. I highly recommend it. Promo pricing is good until May 31st.

Galaxy S8 coupon code: PP64FE9W

Galaxy S8+ coupon code: HC7VJ26M

BUY GALAXY S8 BATTERY CASE ON AMAZON
BUY GALAXY S8+ BATTERY CASE ON AMAZON

http://phandroid.com/2017/05/24/samsung-galaxy-s8-best-affordable-battery-case/

LG G6: One Month Later

When a new phone is launched, especially a flagship phone like the LG G6, there is a lot of fanfare up front. Tons of reviews are posted when the embargo is lifted, but after that, you don’t hear much about the device. The industry quickly moves on to the next new thing. That’s not fair to people who buy a phone and stick with it for two years. How a phone ages over time is important to a lot of people.

It’s been about one month since I posted my review of the LG G6, and I’ve been using the G6 as my daily phone for the better part of six weeks. Now that the initial hype has died down, I can share some long-term thoughts on the device. As a quick refresher, here’s the bottom line from my original review.

I’m happy to report that my first impressions have help up over the past six weeks. In fact, I probably like the phone more now than I did back in April. There’s one very big reason for that, but we’ll get into that a little later.

The 18:9 display continues to look great. After using both the G6 and Samsung Galaxy S8, I’m completely in favor of every phone having a display like this. The nav bar doesn’t take precious screen real estate away from apps. The tall display coupled with the super slim bezels still feels great. The G6 is one of the most comfortable phones I’ve used.

One thing I would like to see is an option to expand videos to take up the entire 18:9 display. The Galaxy S8 has a button that appears when you play a video, including YouTube, to take up the full display. Obviously, this crops out part of the video, but it’s a nice option to have.

The glass design still feels great, especially after using the glass Galaxy S8. As cool as curved displays look, I’ve come to prefer the boring flat panels on the G6. LG is using Gorilla Glass 3 on the G6, while some phones have the newer Gorilla Glass 5. I’ve dropped the phone several times, without a case, where I thought for sure it was going to get cracked. But so far it has held up without a scratch.

Performance was something that a lot of people thought would be an issue. After all, the G6 has the Snapdragon 821 and the Galaxy S8 has the Snapdragon 835. Just like I said in the original review, the 821 is still more than capable. I haven’t had any issues with lag or unresponsiveness. Everything is as speedy as it was the day I got it.

The camera is something that I didn’t love in my full review, but I’ve come to appreciate it more after comparing it to the Galaxy S8. Samsung does a lot of stuff in the background to change the way photos look. The noise removal is a big turn off for me. Things like window screens and fabric texture get interpreted as “noise” and end up blurry.

In comparison, LG doesn’t do a whole lot to the photos from the G6. I’m not here to convince you the Samsung way or the LG way is better. You can prefer either one. I tend to prefer the more natural look of LG’s photos. I’ve also been finding more reasons to use the wide-angle camera.

Battery life is still pretty mediocre, but the good news is it hasn’t gotten any worse. I can still make it through the day without plugging in. The 15% warning usually pops up around 11 o’clock every night. If I have plans to be out later, I will top it off before I head out.

I mentioned that I like the G6 more now than I did in my original review because of one big reason. That reason is the Galaxy S8. Shortly after my review went up, I got my hands on the Galaxy S8. I’m not saying the Galaxy S8 is a bad phone, but it has made me realize how good the G6 really is.

There are things about the Galaxy S8 that annoy me. Things like the terrible fingerprint scanner, the TouchWiz UI, the Bixby button, camera noise removal, constant pop-ups telling you how to do everything, etc. The G6 has annoying things too. I still hate that Comfort View can’t be automatically enabled from sunset to sunrise, and I still wish it had an AMOLED display. But those things don’t bother me as much as the S8 issues.

One month later, I still like the LG G6 a lot. I gave it a 4.8/5 in my original review. Some people thought that was too high of a score, but I still stand by it. In my opinion, this is a nearly perfect phone. It’s not too big, the display is great, the software doesn’t get in the way, the camera is good, performance is not an issue, and battery life is decent. You get all the extra features you could want: wireless charging, microSD card slot, fingerprint scanner, waterproofing, dual cameras, and more.

Here’s the bottom line: I have both the LG G6 and the Galaxy S8. My SIM is in the G6. I could easily use either one, but the G6 is the device I use as my daily driver. That’s one of the biggest compliments I can give a phone.

More LG G6 Content

http://phandroid.com/2017/05/23/lg-g6-one-month-review/

Google expands its Launchpad Accelerator program to Europe and Africa

Today, Google has announced the 4th class of its Launchpad Accelerator program, including the initial launch of the program in Europe and Africa. Launchpad Accelerator includes intensive mentoring from 20+ teams across Google and expert mentors from top technology companies and VCs in Silicon Valley.

Participants receive equity-free support, credits for Google products and continue to work closely with Google back in their home country during the 6-month program. Additionally, the latest class will kick-off on July 17th, 2017 and here’s the list of all the various participants:

Africa

  • Kenya
    • Twiga Foods Ltd: Tech-enabled sourcing and distribution platform that replaces informal wholesale markets in Africa’s urban markets.
  • Nigeria
    • Delivery ScienceMobile forms that help large organizations obtain field data.
    • Gidi Mobile LimitedMobile learning platform that uses “mastery learning” & social gamification to help users with personal development.
    • FlutterwaveFlutterwave builds technology and infrastructure for digital commerce across Africa.
    • PaystackHelps businesses in Africa accept payments from their customers.
  • South Africa
    • JUMO MarketplaceJumo is the largest scale, lowest cost financial services marketplace for emerging markets.

Asia

  • India
    • EdGE NetworksHR solutions provider powered by Artificial Intelligence
    • FastFilmzThe Super App for Super Fans of South Indian movies!
    • IndiaLendsCredit underwriting and analytics platform for unsecured consumer lending
    • RailYatriIntelligent, big data platform that leverages crowd-sourced content to help long distance travelers
    • RecipeBookIntelligent solutions in food and retail powered by deep learning computer vision.
    • SigTupleSmart screening solutions powered by data driven intelligence.
  • Indonesia
    • NADIPOSRestaurant Management Platform helping simplify operations and analytics
    • SIRCLOEmpowering businesses to sell online.
  • Malaysia
    • HealthMetricsAssisting companies managing their employee health benefits efficiently and cost effectively.
  • Philippines
    • BLOOMTransforming remittance businesses with blockchain technology.
    • Honesty AppsA Do-it-yourself mobile application platform for both iOS and Android.
  • Singapore
    • CicilWe allow Indonesian university students to purchase items online, and pay for them in monthly installments without a credit card!
  • Thailand
    • PiggipoAn application that helps users manage and monitor credit card spending more easily and effectively.
    • QueQHelps users manage time more wisely at crowded places.
  • Vietnam
    • eDoctorAllows users to consult doctors anytime, anywhere.

Europe

  • Czech Republic
    • GameeA social gaming platform.
    • SpendeeHelps users understand their finances.
  • Hungary
    • PublishDriveIntelligent SaaS enabled ebook publishing platform to increase sales globally.
  • Poland
    • DrOmnibusMultimedia tools that support special needs education and therapy for children with developmental and behavioral disorders.

Latin America

  • Argentina
    • IncreaseSimplifies and modernizes how merchants and companies understand, control and manage their income.
  • Brazil
    • ArquiveiEmpowers companies with smart data from fiscal documents fetch & analysis.
    • ContabilizeiTax reporting and accounting SaaS for small businesses in Brazil.
    • Contratado.ME: The marketplace that puts candidates at the center of their job search.
    • Guiche VirtualThe app for booking bus tickets in Brazil .
  • Chile
    • ComparaOnlineThe best and the most transparent marketplace for financial products in Latin America.
  • Mexico

It’s great to see Google lend its hand to these various startup businesses, and each class will include 2 weeks of all-expense-paid training. Additionally, the program will be working closely with each company for up to 6 months, and offers access to Google engineers, resources, and mentors.

Let us know what you think about the latest set of classes for the Developers Launchpad. You can learn more by hitting the button below.

Google Developers Launchpad

http://phandroid.com/2017/05/23/google-launchpad-accelerator-expansion/

5 SMS applications to replace Google Hangouts

Yesterday was the day that we were hoping would never come. A few months back, Google gave everyone the heads up that SMS support for those not subscribed to Project Fi or Google Voice would be coming to an end. Unfortunately, that day has come.

Luckily, there are some alternatives available on the Play Store which can replace Hangouts as your default SMS application. Also, there are some options included below which will allow you to send text messages from the comfort of your PC and/or tablet.

Android Messages

Naturally, we would lead off this list of Hangouts replacement apps with another messaging app made by Google. Android Messages has been seeing more and more backend updates, which make the app RCS-compliant. This means that Google is working towards a true iMessage for Android replacement.

The app doesn’t add much in terms of being able to customize the layout, but it’s a solid app that does the job just fine. Hopefully, in the future, we’ll be able to add gifs and such to make out conversations with friends a little more fun.

  • Price: Free
  • In-app purchases: No
  • Rating: 4.1/5
  • Installs: 50M – 100M

Download Android Messages

Signal Private Messenger

Signal is an interesting SMS application due to what it’s capable of. The app aims to provide end-to-end encryption for all of your text message conversations, but there’s a catch – both users must have Signal installed. If both users don’t have Signal installed, then you’re left with an unencrypted conversation.

Privacy is becoming a more and more important feature for users, as there are constantly hacks revealing personal information, so Signal looks to stop this with its SMS app. There is also the ability to make phone calls from the app with other Signal users, meaning that you can rest easy without having to worry about your personal conversations ending up in the wrong hands.

  • Price: Free
  • In-App Purchases: No
  • Rating: 4.6/5
  • Installs: 1M – 5M

Download Signal Private Messenger

Textra SMS

Textra is likely the most customizable SMS application featured on the list, and offers the ability to customize just about every single aspect. You can use the generic light or dark modes, but you can also customize the bubble colors, notifications, background. Textra even offers the ability to customize themes per contact.

The other great feature of Textra is that the developers have permanently made the application free forever. The developers state that you’ll never have to pay for any new features, but you may occasionally see an ad here or there. If you want to support the developers, you can pay a one-time fee to remove all ads from the app.

  • Price: Free
  • In-App Purchases: Yes ($2.99 per item)
  • Rating: 4.5/5
  • Installs: 10M – 50M

Download Textra SMS

Pulse Messenger

Pulse Messenger is my personal favorite SMS application replacement for my LG G6, and this is due to my familiarity with the developers. Luke Klinker has developed other applications such as Talon for Twitter, EvolveSMS, and Source (News Reader). These apps are some of the best on the Play Store and Klinker continues to release great options.

In addition to being able to send messages from your smartphone, you can also do the same from your tablet or your desktop web browser. Klinker has created a standalone Chrome application, as well as a Chrome extension, giving you more freedom to send your SMS messages with ease from wherever you are.

Best of all, Pulse is completely free. You don’t have to pay for any extra features and can download everything for free and be on your way.

  • Price: Free
  • In-App Purchases: Yes ($0.99 – $10.99 per item)
  • Rating: 4.4/5
  • Installs: 100,000 – 500,000

Download Pulse Messenger

Facebook Messenger

I was hesitant to add this to the list but ended up deciding to do so just for the sake of how convenient Facebook Messenger is. Everyone uses Facebook, and Facebook Messenger is turning into a way for you keep all of your important conversations under one roof (for better or worse).

Regardless, the Facebook Messenger app is being consistently updated with new features, and even allows you to make video or voice calls from the app, all for free. It would not surprise me if Facebook continued its push with Messenger and ended up becoming the default SMS app on devices in the future.

As I’m sure you all know by now, Facebook Messenger is available for free, and you can hit the button below to download it.

  • Price: Free
  • In-App Purchases: No
  • Rating: 4/5
  • Installs: 1M – 5M

Download Facebook Messenger

These are just some of the SMS-replacement applications available, let us know which one is your favorite. If you don’t see your de-facto SMS app listed, let us know in the comments below.

http://phandroid.com/2017/05/23/5-hangouts-sms-alternative-apps/

Is the Annke HD 1080p IP Camera worth it?

We all want to be able to monitor our house when we’re away, which is why home security cameras are becoming increasingly popular. There being a wide variety of security cameras available but choosing the right one is often the hardest part, especially when you find yourself on a budget.

Keeping that in mind, I spent the past few weeks testing the Annke HD 1080p WiFi Camera. Priced at under $100, it impressed me with a variety of features and affordable price tag. Let’s take a look.

Design

The Annke IP Camera is a great way to monitor and keep an eye on anything that is valuable to you. In terms of design, the Annke 1080P IP Camera has a sturdy build which is constructed from plastic. It surprisingly doesn’t feel flimsy thanks to a solid base which can rotate 360 degrees or tilt remotely using the companion app.

The camera has a white color scheme with minimal branding and in terms of size, it measures 3.97” × 4.88”. You’ll find all the necessary ports in the back with a DC in, ethernet, and even a micro SD card slot for external storage. A camera is located just below the camera for two-way audio which works fairly well in our testing.

Setup and Features

Pairing the camera involves downloading the Annke Vision application and proceeding with all the necessary steps. This involved creating an account and then scanning the Annke IP Camera’s QR code to help speed up the pairing process.

I’ll admit, the initial setup took a more time than I expected due to difficulties pairing the camera to my WiFi network (it failed over and over again to locate my network). It was only after switching the IP Camera on and off that it paired successfully. From there on out, it operated just fine.

The camera can be accessed via your smartphone and either still or video recordings can be taken remotely, as well as interacting with the intercom and panning/tilting the device. If you would like to backup any recordings, you can insert a micro SD card and configure the recording via the application. 

There’s also an impressive PIR detection feature (body temperature detection), which means any living being that enters the vicinity of this camera will be captured and you will immediately receive a push notification on your smartphone. Easily the best feature of this camera in my opinion.

In addition, you have the ability to create your own ‘region of interest’ which lets you save storage space having the camera focus on one specific spot rather than the whole room which can come in handy.

Quality and Performance

So the big question is what the camera quality looks like. Well, it’s somewhere in the middle. For general lighting conditions it performs perfectly well enough, but when in harsh lighting conditions it struggles to lock the exposure and provide a clear image. The image is reasonable, however.

When zoomed in, pixelation is apparent, but it’s easy to look past this considering it’s under $100. The 1920 x 1080 camera has a 2 megapixel sensor which is has a lot to do with the video quality not being the best when zoomed in. This is something I think could definitely definitely be improved upon, although 1080P video is extremely popular in the IP camera market.

Performance wise I have no complaints as it functions perfect. I was able to control the camera position inside the app without issue and take recordings and snapshots whenever needed for an extra backup.

Conclusion

At $79.99 on Amazon, the Annke HD 1080p IP Camera is definitely a solid choice if you are on a budget. It offers excellent value for money with PIR Detection, night vision, and the flexibility of remotely controlling the camera. Sure, the camera quality could (and arguably should) have been a tad bit better, but for the most part this is a strong product worth picking up if you are in the market for an IP Camera.

Buy IP Camera on Amazon

http://phandroid.com/2017/05/22/budget-security-camera-worth-it/

What was your favorite announcement from Google I/O 2017?

Google I/O 2017 has officially come to a close, and by all accounts, it was another successful event. There were many new features announced that will enhance our day-to-day life, while (hopefully) making the lives of developers a bit easier, and improving our mobile devices ten-fold.

To close out the show, Google has decided to share a list of all of the announcements that were made during the Keynote and various sessions that took place. We went through the list and cherry-picked some of the highlights, so without further adieu, here’s what Google I/O 2017 brought everyone.

Google Assistant and Google Home

  • Soon, with Google Lens—a new way for computers to “see”—you’ll be able to learn more about and take action on the things around you, while you’re in a conversation with your Assistant.
  • We’ve brought your Google Assistant to iPhones.
  • Call me maybe? With new hands-free calling on Google Home, you’ll be able to make calls with the Assistant to landlines and mobile numbers in U.S. and Canada for free.
  • You can now type to your Google Assistant on eligible Android phones and iPhones.
  • For developers, we’re bringing Actions on Google to the Assistant on phones—on both Android and iOS. Soon you’ll find conversation apps for the Assistant that help you do things like shopping for clothes or ordering food from a lengthy menu.

AI, ML, and Cloud

  • With the addition of Smart Reply to Gmail on Android and iOS, we’re using machine learning to make responding to emails easier for more than a billion Gmail users.
  • With Google.ai, we’re pulling all our AI initiatives together to put more powerful computing tools and research in the hands of researchers, developers and companies. We’ve already seen promising research in the fields of pathology and DNA research.
  • We must go deeper. AutoML uses neural nets to design neural nets, potentially cutting down the time-intensive process of setting up an AI system, and helping non-experts build AI for their particular needs.
  • We introduced a new Google Cloud Platform service called Google Cloud IoT Core, which makes it easy for Google Cloud customers to gain business insights through secure device connections to our rich data and analytics tools.

Google Photos

  • We first launched Google Photos two years ago, and now it has more than 500 million monthly users.
  • Soon Google Photos will give you sharing suggestions by selecting the right photos, and suggesting who you should send them to based on who was in them.
  • Shared libraries will let you effortlessly share photos with a specific person. You can share your full photo library, or photos of certain people or from a certain date forward.
  • Google Lens is coming to Photos later this year, so you’ll be able to look back on your photos to learn more or take action—like find more information about a painting from a photo you took in a museum.

Android and Google Play

  • We reached 2 billion monthly active devices on Android!
  • Android O, coming later this year, is getting improvements to “vitals” like battery life and performance, and bringing more fluid experiences to your smaller screen, from improved notifications to autofill.
  • Smart text selection in Android O improves copy and paste to recognize entities on the screen—like a complete address—so you can easily select text with a double tap, and even bring up an app like Maps to help navigate you there.
  • We previewed a new initiative aimed at getting computing into the hands of more people on entry-level Android devices. Internally called Android Go, it’s designed to be relevant for people who have limited data connectivity and speak multiple languages.
  • Android Auto is now supported by 300 car models, and Android Auto users have grown 10x since last year.
  • Android Instant Apps are now open to all developers, so anyone can build and publish apps that can be run without requiring installation.

Virtual and Augmented Reality

  • More Daydream-ready phones are coming soon, including the Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+, LG’s next flagship phone, and devices from Motorola and ASUS.
  • We’re expanding Daydream to support standalone VR headsets, which don’t require a phone or PC. HTC VIVE and Lenovo are both working on devices, based on a Qualcomm reference design.
  • The next smartphone with Tango technology will be the ASUS ZenFone AR, available this summer.
  • We previewed Euphrates, the latest release of Daydream, which will let you capture what you’re seeing and cast your virtual world right onto the screen in your living room, coming later this year.
  • We’re releasing an experimental build of Chromium with an augmented reality API, to help bring AR to the web

YouTube

  • Soon you’ll be able to watch and control 360-degree YouTube videos and live streams on your TV, and use your game controller or remote to pan around an immersive experience.
  • Super Chat lets fans interact directly with YouTube creators during live streams by purchasing highlighted chat messages that stay pinned to the top of the chat window. We previewed a developer integration that showed how the Super Chat API can be used to trigger actions in the real world—such as turning the lights on and off in a creator’s apartment.
  • A new feature in the YouTube VR app will soon let people watch and discuss videos together.

Developer-Focused Updates

  • With a new Google Payment API, developers can enable easy in-app or online payments for customers who already have credit and debit cards stored on Google properties.
  • We’re bringing phone number authentication to Firebase, working closely with the Fabric Digits team, so your users can sign in to your apps with their phone numbers.
  • We’re expanding Firebase Hosting to integrate with Cloud Functions, letting you can do things like send a notification when a user signs up or automatically create thumbnails when an image is uploaded to Cloud Storage.
  • AdMob is also now integrated with Google Analytics for Firebase, giving developers a complete picture of ads revenue, mediation revenue and in-app purchase revenue in one place.
  • Developers interested in testing the cutting edge of our products can now sign up for a Firebase Alpha program.

That’s all folks. If you want to check out the full list, you can hit the link here and if you want to check out Phandroid’s thoughts on the various announcements, hit the button below. If you want to check out what we thought the 10 biggest announcements were from the event, hit the link here.

Most importantly, sound off in the comments below and let us know what your favorite announcement from Google I/O was.

Google I/O 2017 Coverage

http://phandroid.com/2017/05/19/google-io-2017-announcements/

10 Biggest Google IO 2017 Announcements

The main keynote at Google I/O has come and gone. In the 2-hours of talking and demonstrations, we saw a bunch of cool new stuff. Everything from Android to Google Photos got attention. You can read all the news on our Google I/O 2017 page, but if you want just the highlights, here are the 10 biggest announcements.

Google Lens

Google Lens is a new feature to go along with Assistant and Google Photos. Think of it like eyes for Google Assistant. You can already ask Assistant questions, but with Lens it will be able to actually see what you’re talking about. You can scan businesses to see ratings and reviews, scan objects for more info, and a bunch more cool stuff. It will be rolling out soon.

Google Photos Suggested Sharing

Suggested Sharing will make it easier for you to share photos with relevant people after a big event or outing. It uses machine learning to identify people in your photos and automatically groups them together so you can easily share them with the person. Google hopes that this will solve the problem of never getting photos taken on other people’s phones.

Google Photos Shared Libraries

Another new Photos feature is Shared Libraries, which makes it easy to share specific groups or sets of pictures with people. For instance, you could set it up so all photos of your kids are automatically shared with your wife or husband. It takes all the work of sharing photos out of your hands. Pretty handy.

Google Home Hands-Free Calling

With hands-free calling, you’ll be able to call anyone by simply asking Google Home. Simply say “Ok Google, call my mom” and Assistant will use your phone to call your mom and play it over the Home speaker. You can talk to Home like a speaker phone. This is great for being able to talk to people while you’re doing other things.

Google Home Visual Responses

Right now, Google Home gives responses in one way: voice. You ask something with your voice and an audible response is recited out of the speaker. “Visual Responses” will change that if you have a connected device. You’ll be able to say “Show me my calendar on the TV” or have directions sent right to your smartphone. This adds a screen to Google Home without actually adding a screen to the device.

Google Home Bluetooth Streaming

Google Home is a speaker, but it doesn’t act like a typical Bluetooth speaker. To play music on Home, you have to cast it to the device. Soon, Google Home will act like a regular Bluetooth speaker. You will be able to connect to it and play music from any app on your phone. No more looking for the cast button or hoping the app supports it.

Keyboard for Google Assistant

One of the limitations of Google Assistant on phones is you can only interact with your voice. Whether you’re in a public place or just don’t feel like speaking, you’ll be able to pull up information up on just about anything by using your phone’s keyboard. This should make it easier to interact with Assistant in certain situations.

Standalone Daydream VR headsets

Google finally announced a standalone VR platform for people who want VR without having to use their phones. It’s going to be part of the overall Daydream family, with devices having their own displays, processing internals, and power sources. Google isn’t introducing a headset to kick things off. They saved that for other OEMs.

The first devices will be made available from HTC and Lenovo. Furthermore, Qualcomm will offer a reference design platform for other OEMs who want to quickly prototype their own standalone headsets. These headsets will feature WorldSense, a space-sensing technology that makes it easy for VR applications to read your surroundings and more accurately track where you are.

Smart Reply for Gmail

Google has announced that Smart Reply will finally be making its way to the Gmail app for Android. Smart Reply is not a new feature by any stretch of the imagination, as it has been available through Inbox by Gmail for some time. It predects how you might respond to an email and gives you the option to enter those responses with a single tap. No more typing out redundant replies.

Android O Beta Program

Google announced that the Android O Beta Program is available now for Pixel and Nexus owners. The Android O developer preview has been available for about 2 months now, but the Beta Program is more for regular consumers. If you have one of the supported devices ( Nexus 5XNexus 6P, Nexus Player, Pixel C, Pixel,  Pixel XL), all you have to do is visit this link and click “enroll device.”


What was your favorite announcement from Google I/O? Do you think this was a good year or a boring year for announcements? What are you most looking forward to getting on your device?

http://phandroid.com/2017/05/17/biggest-google-io-2017-announcements/

The Galaxy S8’s curved display is actually its worst feature

The Galaxy S8’s gorgeous “Infinity Display” is easily the phone’s most defining feature. Without it, the Galaxy S8 would have been little more than a rehashed Galaxy S7 with a few updated internals.

This isn’t Samsung’s first rodeo with curved displays. We’ve seen curved AMOLED panels in previous iterations of the device (Galaxy S6 Edge, Galaxy S7 Edge), but it’s only on the S8 that the curved display now comes standard across small and large models. Like it or not, you have to get on board Samsung’s vision of a curved display future or look elsewhere.

The Infinity Display has two features: its super small bezels and an unconventional 18.5:9 aspect ratio. It’s the phone’s most talked about feature and while the vast majority of reviews offer nothing but praise, I’m hear to give you an opposing viewpoint. The curved display? It sucks.

Its not all bad

Before I start, I just want to note that it’s not all bad. The S8’s curved display is much improved over previous generations. Samsung has finally given up on trying to make it look useful, realizing what we’ve known all along — the edge screen is only there for looks. The edge screen is much more subtle this time around. This means the screen doesn’t actually bend over the sides as much as we saw on the S6/S7. This helps prevent accidental screen taps even when my sausage fingers start creeping over into edge screen territory.

The metal frame surrounding the Galaxy S8 has also been flattened out from the S7 Edge’s design. It’s much less pronounced and gives your fingers more surface area to hold onto along the sides. It sounds like a rather small detail, but this combined with a more narrow body and Samsung doing away with the Teflon coating they used in the past, makes for a phone that feels wonderful in the hand. While it’s certainly more ergonomic, the same pitfalls remain…

Not so small bezels

I’ve long dreamt about the day I could own an Android device with tiny bezels and finally take back some of that screen real estate lost to Android’s on-screen navigation bar. Until the Galaxy S8 and LG G6, there wasn’t much of a concerted effort to improve mobile design in this area (probably because Apple devices still have some of the biggest bezels in the biz).

While I’m certainly glad Samsung and LG are competing in this space, small bezels combined with on screen navigation buttons really only serve to match what we’ve seen from devices using capacitive buttons. Take the Galaxy S8 and S7 Edge for instance. The actual viewable portion of an app starts at the exact same point on both devices (see the above comparison with the ZTE Axon 7).

While an argument can be made about the versatility on-screen buttons offer over capacitive keys (they can hide when watching movies or playing games), in most cases the Galaxy S8’s navigation buttons are always in plain view. Sure, it’s superior to devices like the Google Pixel which have large bezels and on-screen buttons, but if you’re coming from a device with already smallish bezels and capacitive buttons (S7 Edge, Axon 7), there’s really no reason to lust after the Galaxy S8’s tiny bezel.

Weird 18.5:9 aspect ratio blows

Shrinking the bezels of a device means you can provide consumers with a phone that’s smaller — and easier to hold — than devices with an equal sized display/large bezels. For the S8, Samsung through everyone for a loop by going with an odd 18.5:9 aspect ratio. This allowed them to increase the size of the display (which looks great on paper), while providing a phone that has a smaller width than devices of the same display size.

But the Galaxy S8 still isn’t technically a “one-handed” device. At least not for me. The display is just as tall as other 5.8-inch or 6.2-inch devices which means if you hated phablet devices and how difficult it was to reach to the notification pull down, you’re still going to struggle with the Galaxy S8. You’d better get used to shimmying or performing finger gymnastics if you need to touch high placed UI elements.

The S8’s weird aspect ratio also affects apps, games, and videos, many of which aren’t compatible with the 18.5:9 aspect ratio. For instance, when watching videos, big black bars appear along the sides of it, creating virtual bezels to fit everything into view. While most apps and games can be forced into full screen mode, not all of them support this feature and can break or bug out completely.

If only Samsung had stuck with the standard 16:9 aspect ratio (like you find on most every other phone), this wouldn’t have been an issue. You know the old saying, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

Curved display just gets in the way

If there was any shortcoming to the Galaxy S8’s Infinity Display it has to be the curved edges. I know, I know. Most people say they love how it spills over the sides of the phone, minimizing the appearance of the side bezel (but not nearly as much as Samsung makes it look in their renders). I’ll admit, the curved display certainly looks cool, but it provides no practical benefit over a flat display. In fact, it’s just the opposite.

Picture this: a smartphone manufacturer makes a new smartphone with the best display on the market. The only caveat is that there’s excessive distortion and light bleed along the side edges. Would this phone be given rave reviews? Not a freakin’ chance, but that’s exactly what you see with the Galaxy S8.

Aside from the image and color distortion along the edges (I’ll admit, it’s nowhere near as bad as the S7 Edge but still very much prevalent) the curved edges create an excessive amount glare. This means that even when you position the display at an optimal viewing angle, the glare along the edges makes the phone an absolute nightmare for watching full screen videos or playing games.

Let me ask you this: if curved edge displays did offer any benefit over flat displays, then why don’t we see it on computer monitors, TVs, and the like? Simple — because it’s just a gimmick.

Don’t @ me

I get it. In a world where most smartphones all look like the same boring copycat devices, it takes a lot to stand out. That’s the true purpose of Samsung’s curved Infinity Display and despite my own personal bias toward flat displays, it seems to have struck a chord with consumers who are already flocking to the S8 in droves.

For some of you, this might be the first negative review you’ve ever read about the S8’s display but I assure you I don’t have any personal vendetta against the manufacturer or their devices. I’ve had a mostly pleasant experience with the Galaxy S8 but after spending more than a full month using the device as my daily driver, I’ve since returned back to the comforts of the ZTE Axon 7. Haven’t looked back once.

However, had Samsung simply offered a flat screen variant of the S8, I think I might have stuck around a lot longer. I guess you really can’t have it all, but I’m just curious — are there any other curved screen haters out there? I reckon a quick poll may be in order.

Take Our Poll

http://phandroid.com/2017/05/16/samsung-galaxy-s8-worst-feature-curved-display/