14 First things every LG V30 owner should do

After a long wait, the LG V30 is finally available for purchase. We’ve already shared our first impressions, battery life in the first 24 hours, and sample photos from the LG V30. Now it’s time to get started with some tips. LG packed in a bunch of great features, some of which are exclusive to the V30. Here are the very first things you should do.

Set up the fingerprint scanner

The V30 follows in LG’s tradition of putting the power button and fingerprint scanner on the back. It can be used for a few things, such as Android Pay and Google Play Store purchases, but the most common use is unlocking the phone. LG’s fingerprint scanners are really fast and accurate. You should use it.

  1. Go to Settings > Fingerprints & security
  2. Tap on Fingerprints (confirm your password)
  3. Select Add fingerprint
  4. Scan your fingerprint

Read More: How to find a lost or stolen phone

Unlock the phone with your face

Unlocking phones with your face is all the rage these days and the V30 can do it too. LG’s “Face Print” is one of the best face unlocking implementations I’ve used. It can work along with the fingerprint scanner (you don’t have to pick just one). You should check it out and give it a try.

  1. Go to Settings > Lock screen
  2. Select Face Recognition
  3. Tap NEXT
  4. Tap START and follow instructions
  5. Tap OK when done

Customize the Floating Bar

LG replaced the Second Screen with a new feature called “Floating Bar.” It has essentially the same features of the Second Screen, but it’s a widget that floats on your screen. You can drag it around wherever you want, but it’s always just a tap away.

  1. Go to Settings > Floating Bar
  2. Toggle it on
  3. Toggle on the items you want in the bar
  4. Tap Shortcuts and Quick contacts to customize

For more, discuss Floating Bar at the LG V30 forum

Get the App Drawer back

The stock LG home screen doesn’t have an app drawer. All of your apps will be on the home screen just like how it is on the iPhone. If you use a 3rd-party launcher, this isn’t a problem, but if you use the stock launcher you might want the app drawer. Thankfully, LG has a way to get the drawer back.

  1. Go to Settings > Home screen
  2. Tap Select Home
  3. Choose Home & app drawer

For more, discuss App Drawer Settings & Options at the LG V30 forum

Delete unwanted apps

Bloatware and unwanted apps are present on almost every Android phone. It can be really annoying to have a bunch of apps you’ll never open. The good news is we can uninstall, or at least disable, most of the bloatware. There are two methods to remove apps.

  1. Go to Settings > Apps
  2. Locate the appropriate app
    1. Note: For system apps, tap the Menu icon > Show system
  4. Tap OK to confirm


  1. Open the app drawer
  2. Tap the Menu icon
  3. Select Arrange apps
  4. Tap the (X) icon on an app to remove

For more, discuss deleting apps at the LG V30 forum

Customize the navigation bar

The V30 has software navigation buttons on the bottom of the screen. One of the great things about software buttons is the ability to customize the look. You can rearrange the existing buttons, change the color, and add up to two extra buttons.

  1. Go to Settings > Display > Home touch buttons
  2. Select Button combination
  3. You can drag and drop the buttons in any order you like, but there can’t be more than 5 in the bar
  4. Changes will show up in the navigation bar immediately
  5. You can choose the color of the buttons on the previous page

Get rid of the “Rounded Square” icons

Not only does the stock home screen lack an app drawer by default, but LG also put weird “rounded square” silhouettes around all the icons. It’s kinda ugly, but the good news is you can turn it off and go back to the stock icons. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Go to Settings > Home screen
  2. Select Icon Shape
  3. Choose Original
  4. Tap OK

For more, discuss the round icons at the LG V30 forum

Change up the look with a new theme

The default V30 theme is bright white and clean. It’s a nice look, but you might prefer a dark theme or something completely different. The good news is you can choose from a few pre-installed themes and even download themes directly from the Play Store. Here’s how to do it.

  1. Go to Settings > Theme
  2. Select one of the preloaded themes
  3. Tap APPLY

Themes installed from the Play Store will show up in the same place. Here’s an example of a theme you can download from the Play Store.

For more, discuss Themes at the LG V30 forum

Enable the Always-on Display

The V30 has an OLED display and an Always-on feature. It works a lot like the Always-on display on the Samsung phones. You can see the time, date, and notifications while the display is turned off. SInce the display is OLED, it doesn’t use up very much battery.

  1. Go to Settings > Display
  2. Tap Always-on display
  3. Toggle the switch to ON
  4. Select Set what to show to choose how it looks

Adjust how apps look on the 18:9 display

The V30’s display is taller than most phones. It has an 18:9 aspect ration, whereas most devices have 16:9 displays. All that means is you get some extra vertical space for apps. By default, most apps run completely fine on the tall display. Where you may run into some issues is with fullscreen apps, such as games. You can adjust the scale.

  1. In a fullscreen app, swipe up from the bottom to reveal the nav buttons
  2. Tap the App Scaling button
  3. You’ll have three options:
    1. Compatibility (16:9)
    2. Standard (16.7:9) (default)
    3. Fullscreen (18:9)
  4. If the app is misbehaving, put it in compatibility mode.

You can also adjust App Scaling in the Settings.

  1. Go to Settings > Display
  2. Select App scaling
  3. Tap the app you want to adjust
  4. Choose one of the options

For more, discuss App Scaling at the LG V30 forum

Take advantage of the SD card slot

The V30 is proof that some flagship phones still come with microSD card slots. LG has been sticking with MicroSD cards for a while. You can easily upgrade your storage capacity without buying any cloud storage subscriptions and relying on a data connection. Check out these great cards.

Crank up the speed with faster animations

The V30 has the speedy Snapdragon 835 processor and it feels great. You can still speed things up even more by increasing the speed of the animations. But you’ll first need to activate the hidden Developer Options by following these steps:

  1. Go to Settings > About phone
  2. Select Software info
  3. Tap Build Number 7 times until you see “You are now a developer” message
  4. Go back to the main settings and you’ll see Developer options

To speed up animations:

  1. Go to Settings > Developer options
  2. Scroll down select Window animation and choose .5x
  3. Select Transition animation and choose .5x
  4. Select Animator duration scale and choose .5x

Find the best Android apps & games

The best phone in the world is pretty boring if you don’t have great apps and games to use. We’ve compiled tons of helpful guides for finding the best apps and games in the Play Store. Before you dive in and rummage around, you’ll want to check out these lists first.

Download the Forums for Android app!

This list is a great starting point for V30 users, but there’s a lot more you should know. You can download the Forums forAndroid app and you’ll automatically join the V30 forum. There you will find more helpful tips and other users like you. It’s easy to ask for help and get answers. Here are a few threads to get you started:


How to setup Google Home Mini [VIDEO]

Announced earlier this week, the Google Home Mini is set to become officially available for purchase later this month and is Google’s perfect answer to the Amazon Echo Dot. Priced at $50, the tiny speaker acts as a portal to Google Assistant and it’s practically dripping with style thanks to Google’s design team. The Mini is simple, minimal, and fits in nicely with the decor, no matter which room it’s in.

We were able to get our hands on the Mini a tad bit earlier than its October 19th release, so we figured we’d take the opportunity to walk you through the process of setting one up. It was actually relatively painless and incredibly straight forward. Most of the setup is actually done on your phone using the Google Home app but we figured we’d detail the steps so people know what they’re getting themselves into once theirs finally arrives. First, let’s explore the hardware features.

In the box you’ll find the Google Home Mini and power cable adapter to give it power. It’s pretty generous in length and connects to the device using micro USB (why Google shunned Type C is beyond me). Flipping the device over, you’ll find a rubber pad at the bottom to give it some grip along with a tiny button underneath likely to reset it. There’s a physical microphone switch in case you don’t want the speaker listening in on you.

On the top, you can lightly tap the sides of the cloth grill to adjust the volume, tap the middle to pause playback, or long press it to launch Assistant. The 3 LED lights on the top tell when it’s working and also serve as a visual indicator of the volume level of the speaker. That’s about it. Now let’s jump into setup…

How to setup Google Home Mini

  1. Plug it in – Connect the included power adapter to the Google Home Mini
  2. Get the app – Download the Google Home app from the Google Play Store
  3. Follow on screen directions – You should see the Google Home Mini appear at the top of the “Discover” tab inside the Google Home app
  4. The app will then connect to the Google Home Mini (this could take several minutes)

From inside the Google Home app…

  1. Choose where you’ll be placing the Google Home Mini (so you easily identify it from additional devices)
  2. Connect to your WiFi network
  3. Setup Google Assistant (agree to terms of service)
  4. Teach Google Assistant to recognize your voice by repeating “Ok Google” and “Hey Google” multiple times
  5. Please wait while the Google Home Mini is being updated
  6. You’re all set!

Well, almost…

  1. Google Home Mini will reboot itself (you’ll see colored lights)
  2. Confirm your address
  3. Add music services and choose your default music service (when you want the home mini to play music
  4. Add your video service (Netflix, etc.)
  5. Add payment method (for when you want to order out)
  6. Confirm other info again
  7. Speaker is now ready – Just start with “Hey Google” and speak various commands (It’s possible that the Home Mini will tell you “Something went wrong”, just give it time to finish doing it’s thing and it should work after a few minutes)

“Ok Google” commands

From here, it’s as easy as speaking to your Google Home Mini to execute commands and/or queries. There are so many to choose from, it’s just a matter of learning the right ones. We’ve already made a video on some of the better ones (above) but you can also find a more robust list by checking out Google’s support page here. To help get you started, here’s a few favorites listed down below.

After saying “Ok Google” or “Hey Google,” immediately follow up with these commands in the same breath…

Living room

  • Tell me about my day
  • Set a reminder to pay the bills at 6PM
  • Play hip-hop on YouTube Music
  • Is it going to rain today?
  • How long will it take to get to work?


  • Give me a recipe for banana bread
  • How many sticks of butter in a cup
  • Add flour to my shopping list
  • Set a banana bread timer for 1 hour
  • How do you say “this tastes delicious” in Korean?


  • Dim the lights
  • Set a bedtime alarm for 11PM
  • Play “The Crown” on Netflix
  • Pause the TV
  • When was Winston Churchill born?

Buy on the Google Store


Which is the best option?

Google’s response to Apple’s AirPods has finally arrived, but it wasn’t exactly what we were expecting. The Google Pixel Buds look to be the answer to the AirPods in terms of functionality and ease of use, but how do these headphones really compare to one another?

We’re going to take a look at which option is best for you, regardless of which device you’re using. From there, we’ll be able to determine whether you should spring for the Pixel Buds or AirPods when the Pixel Buds launch later this year.

Price: Tie

Getting the biggest hurdle out of the way first, there’s not much comparison between these two options, as the AirPods and Pixel Buds are both priced at $159. The only problem currently lies in availability, since the Pixel Buds won’t be launching until November, and that’s if Google doesn’t run into any supply issues.

While there are plenty of “budget” Bluetooth headphones on the market, that’s not the market that Apple or Google is shooting for. Both options are aimed for those who want the complete experience from top to bottom, and everywhere in between, and that’s what each option provides, as long as you are a part of that ecosystem.

Battery Life: Tie (For now)

The biggest point of contention when it comes to our smartphones or Bluetooth headphones is battery life. Who wants to deal with recharging their headphones after using them for just an hour or two?

Samsung struggled with this with the first iteration of the Gear Icon X headphones, but it seems that Apple and Google may have things figured out. Both the AirPods and Pixel Buds are rated for up to 5 hours of use with each charge.

Then with the accompanying charging case, Apple and Google both claim that their charging cases will provide up to 24 hours of battery life for the headphones, before needing to recharge. That’s a pretty wild claim, but in my time with the AirPods it definitely holds up.

Speaking of charging, Apple claims that the charging the AirPods for just 15 minutes will give users up to 3 hours of extra battery life. As for the Pixel Buds, Google claims that 15 minutes of charging will give users an extra hour of battery life. Obviously Apple gets the nod here, but mileage may vary if you’re only using them with an Android device which doesn’t take advantage of Apple’s W1 chip.

Considering the fact that the Pixel Buds aren’t released yet, we’ll have to wait and see if Google’s claims hold up over time.

Completely Wireless: Apple AirPods

Over the last few years, we have seen a stronger effort from OEM’s to provide completely wireless Bluetooth earbuds, but there haven’t really been any options that stuck. That was the case until the AirPods were released.


This showed that it was entirely possible and that you could have enough battery life to last you throughout the day, and then some. That’s a far cry from the aforementioned Gear Icon X earbuds launched last year which only held a charge for an hour or two.

However, Google decided to go a different route for some reason and decided to give everyone a cable that stretches across both earbuds. This cable is braided, which should help withstand the daily grind of using and wrapping them back up, but it also serves another purpose.

The cable can be adjusted to help make sure that the earbuds rest comfortably in your ear, without worrying about them falling out during use. When you are done using them, you can either pull the cable tight, or just leave it until the next time you’re ready to rock out. When it comes to the AirPods, this isn’t the case, as Apple just went with the “hopefully your ear fits, if not, oh well” approach.

Connectivity: Tie

This is my favorite feature about the AirPods and I can’t explain how excited I am to see something similar coming from Google. When you open the AirPods for the first time around your iPhone, a prompt appears asking for you to connect them.

According to Google, similar functionality will be coming to the Pixel Buds, meaning that as soon as your case opens, you’ll be able to connect to your device with just a click of a button. This is HUGE as it removes the need to go through and deal with the annoying pairing process that owners of Bluetooth headphones have to currently deal with.

The best part about the Pixel Buds is that this functionality will not be limited to the Pixel 2/2 XL. Instead, you’ll need a device running at least Android 6.0 Marshmallow and have Google Assistant installed on the device. Which, conveniently enough, just made its way onto the Play Store as a standalone app.

Verdict: The answer is obvious

You don’t really think we would recommend the AirPods for someone looking for “flagship” Bluetooth earbuds, do you? Of course not. The AirPods are definitely convenient considering the fact that the cables are gone, but you don’t get any extra functionality when using them on an Android phone, as all of the fun stuff is reserved for iOS users.

So, the answer here is obvious. If you haven’t pre-ordered your set of Pixel Buds yet, hit the button below and do so. If you don’t care about pre-ordering, just hang tight until November when the Pixel Buds are set to launch, then go to your local Best Buy or something and pick them up without worrying about waiting for shipping times.

As someone who currently owns AirPods, I seriously can’t wait to get my hands (or ears) on the Pixel Buds to put them through their paces. Let us know what you think and if you’ll be picking up a pair for yourself.

Buy the Google Pixel Buds


LG G6 Update: Things Worth Knowing

It’s been almost six months since our review of the LG G6. A lot of new phones have come out in that time, but the G6 is still one of the best Android phones. If you’re a current G6 owner, there are some things you may have missed in the past few months.

This post is an update on all things LG G6. We’ll get you up to speed on all the news and community content you should know about. If you have the LG G6 or are still considering picking one up, consider this a crash course.

LG G6 News

YouTube’s new HDR option is showing up on the Galaxy S8 and LG G6

YouTube is showing a new HDR option for those with compatible devices. If you have the LG G6 you can take advantage of this new feature. [Read More]

The LG V30 camera app has been ported to the LG G6

Want the new LG V30 camera app to use on your LG G6? As long as you’re rooted, you can do that. The V30 camera app is slightly different than the G6’s. [Read More]

Modded Google Camera app updated with working Auto HDR+ for zero shutter lag

After a modded version of the Google Camera app hit the internet with working HDR+, an updated version of the app is squashing bugs and bringing Auto HDR+ support with zero shutter lag to devices like the G6. [Read More]

LG announces the LG G6+ and a big update for current G6 owners

LG announced a slightly more powerful version of the G6 with new software. It’s the same software as the LG V30, and it should be coming to the G6. [Read More]

LG G6 warranty extended to two years after date of purchase

LG has announced it will extend the warranty of the LG G6 an additional 12 months for a total of 24 months of coverage. [Read More]

You can now unlock the LG G6’s bootloader thanks to LG

LG has updated its bootloader unlock tool with support for the newly-released LG G6. However, this tool only works with the European LG G6 which has a model number of H870. [Read More]

LG G6 Recap

40+ LG G6 Tips & Tricks

LG likes to pack a lot of features into their devices. The G6 is no different. A lot of these features can be incredibly useful if you know how to use them (and where to look). [Read More]

Best LG G6 Cases, Chargers, an Accessories

What does a great phone need to be even better? Accessories. There are tons of excellent accessories out there for the LG G6. Everything from rugged cases to wireless chargers. [Read More]

LG G6: Four Months Later

We re-reviewed the G6 after one month and now we’re back to revisit the phone after four months. How has it aged since our original review in April? [Read More]

Best of LG G6 Forum

We’ve published a lot of great LG G6 content by ourselves, but there’s also a community of G6 users over on AndroidForums.com. There you will find even more tips and tricks, suggestions, support, and much more. If you’re not already a member, we highly recommend joining. Download the Forums for Android app to get started!

Here are some good threads to get you started:

Best LG G6 Apps & Games

Every week, hundreds of new Android apps and games are submitted to the Play Store. If you’re not paying attention 24/7, it’s easy to miss some of the best stuff. Our weekly Download This series includes the best apps and games you should be downloading on your LG G6. Check out the lists below to get started.

Best LG G6 Accessories

What does a great phone need to be even better? Accessories. There are tons of excellent accessories out there for the LG G6. Everything from rugged cases to wireless chargers. This list will help you find the best accessories for your device.

Best LG G6 MicroSD Cards

Best LG G6 Case

The NGP Advanced is another polymer case, but this one has a grippy grid texture on the back and edges. The interior is covered in a honeycomb pattern that also provides impact resistance. The grid pattern feels really nice and the case is lightweight and thin.

buy on amazon

Need more options? Check out the full list of LG G6 Cases

Best LG G6 Charger

The Anker Fast Charger enables you to wirelessly charge your phone up to 2 times faster than regular wireless chargers. LED indicators around the edge show when the phone is placed in the correct position. Safety features protect against overheating and short-circuiting.

buy on amazon

Need more options? Check out the full list of LG G6 Chargers

Best LG G6 Wireless Headphones

One of the most important accessories for any phone is a good pair of headphones. The LG G6 includes a 3.5mm headphone jack (thankfully), but if you’re ready to hop on board the Bluetooth train, we’ve got a nice pair for you. The Anker SoundBuds Slim are only $20, but they sound great. The slim design makes them easy to wear and they have a handy module for adjusting volume and play/pause.

buy on amazon

Looking ahead…

LG G7 Rumors

There haven’t been too many rumors about the LG G7 yet. We’re still a good few months away from the real solid leaks and rumors popping up. Still, there have been a couple of tidbits that have come across our radar. Nothing concrete about the phone yet, but still interesting stuff if you’re looking ahead.


Google Home Mini vs Amazon Echo Dot: Which Is Best?

Now that we know all about the new Google Home Mini, it’s time to take a look at how it stands up against its closest competition – the Amazon Echo Dot. Both devices are priced at just $50, making for a low-cost barrier of entry, while putting Alexa or Google Assistant in just about every room in your home.

Google Home Mini: Better Overall Design

Seeing as we don’t have a Google Home Mini on hand as of yet, we can only go off of what we saw from Google’s announcement yesterday. However, there are some key design features which set these two smart home assistants apart from one another.

First, the Echo Dot looks like a hockey puck with flashing lights and buttons on the top, while the Home Mini looks like a donut covered in fabric, with no buttons on the top. Instead, Google opted for a touch-capacitive interface along where the four LED indicators are presented. Whereas the Echo Dot features 4 buttons on the top for volume control, Alexa activation, and one to turn off the microphone.

Whenever you activate your Echo Dot, there is a ring of LED lights around the top of the puck to let you know when Alexa is listening to your commands. As for the Home Mini, there are the aforementioned 4 LED lights that also let you know when everything is working, including when you change the volume.

Google has also included the ability to turn off the microphone so that you don’t continue to set off the Home Mini, and that’s located on the bottom with a simple switch. Speaking of the bottom, that brings us to the power adapter for the Dot and Home Mini.

On the rear of the Echo Dot, there is a microUSB power input, which has been placed alongside the 3.5mm headphone jack. As for the Home Mini, there is a single input for the microUSB power adapter, along with the microphone switch off to the side.

Overall, the Google Home Mini does look more aesthetically pleasing, as it would not be an eyesore in any room that you place it in. The same can’t be said about the Echo Dot as it does feature that hockey puck look that is rather dated. This is more of a product that you would want to tuck away behind a TV or something, versus showing it off in a different area.

Tie: Assistant Activation

On both the Echo Dot and Home Mini, there are multiple ways to activate the Assistant portion of the device. First and foremost is voice activation, with “Alexa” being the hot phrase for the Echo Dot, while the Home Mini can be activated with “Ok, Google”. From there, simply ask any questions or perform actions then you’ll be good to go.

In order to activate Assistant without your voice, you can simply press and hold on the middle of the Home Mini and the Assistant will be activated, allowing to answer any and all questions you may have. As for the Echo Dot, there is button placed on the right-hand side which will activate Alexa with ease.

Both of these options are extremely easy, but if you have either product placed across the room, voice activation will likely be the most commonly used method. Just keep in mind that commercials or TV content may end up activating either assistant since these are both always listening for the hot phrase.

Amazon Echo Dot: Playback and interaction

As you can see in the chart above, the Echo Dot comes equipped with a 3.5mm headphone jack, and that opens a world of possibilities for attaching this $50 smart home product to your favorite speakers around your home. Considering the fact that you can ask Alexa to play music directly, hooking the Echo Dot up to a speaker would definitely a more enjoyable experience.

Unfortunately, it seems that the same can’t be said for the Google Home Mini. For some strange reason, 2017 is the year that Google gets rid of all of the 3.5mm headphone jacks as the Pixel 2 lineup nor the Home Mini have this as an option.

Maybe it’s because Google is confident in the playback capabilities, but just having the option to hook up the Home Mini to an external speaker would have been a very nice addition here. Nonetheless, we’ll have to deal with the tiny speaker in the Home Mini to provide our content for the time being.

Google Home Mini: Smartest Assistant

This isn’t the first time that you’ve seen Google Assistant take the win in a head-to-head battle between AI assistants, and it’s for good reason. I lost count, but the phrase “AI-driven” was used so many times during Google’s event that you can see how hard the company is driving home the point. Google Assistant is literally everywhere you can look, and while Amazon is attempting to do the same by offering it in more devices, Alexa just falls behind (except in reminders).

The best part about this new competition for smart home supremacy is seeing what these different companies are doing to continually update these pieces of software to make them more intelligent. Therefore, we end up with smarter assistants that can react to us whenever called upon, and do a damn good job in the process.

However, Google has so much information behind the scenes and has been in the algorithm game for so long that Assistant is already looking like it’s been around for years. That’s not the case, however, as Assistant was “only” introduced back at Google I/O 2016. Since then, we’ve seen Assistant arrive on more and more devices, and Google even recently released Assistant as a stand-alone app onto the Play Store for even more folks to download.

As for Alexa, she’s been around for quite some time, but sometimes it just doesn’t seem like everything is up to par. YMMV, but using Alexa and Assistant side-by-side really show off how much work has been done in a short period of time to call Google Assistant the smartest.

Which one is for you?

Now that we’ve taken a look at the variables for the Amazon Echo Dot and the Google Home Mini, now’s the time to figure out which option is best for you. The obvious answer here comes with what ecosystem are you already entrenched in. If you’ve got an Echo in your kitchen, chances are that an Echo Dot is already laying claim to another room or two in your home.

If you’re rocking the Google Home, but have been waiting for Google’s Echo Dot competitor, then the time is now, and the Home Mini is the best option for you. But, if you haven’t picked sides as of yet, now’s the best time to find out and my money would be going to the Big G because there’s just something about having Assistant on all of my devices (phones included) that make me feel as though it’s a true ecosystem.

We know that Amazon is vigorously working to bring Alexa to more smartphones, and you can access some of Alexa through the Amazon suite of apps, but Google Assistant is just “there” when I need it and don’t have to open any apps to get there.

Let us know in the comments what your pick is, and why you’re leaning towards either the Echo Dot or new Google Home Mini.

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Google Pixel Buds: First Impressions [VIDEO]

Yesterday Google unveiled a handful of new products covering just everything from laptops, smartphones ( Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL) to smart speakers, cameras, and headphones. Pretty much everything was centered around Google Assistant, leveraging to the power of Google’s AI and machine learning to help make your devices smarter and more functional than ever.

Google Pixel Buds are the company’s take on Apple AirPods, wireless earbuds that give users hands-free access to a virtual assistant. They’re not true wireless earbuds like you’ll find with AirPods. Pixel Buds are tethered to each other with a wire that wraps behind your neck and you can find plenty of options using a similar design from just about any accessories manufacturer. While they don’t look particularly impressive, Pixel Buds different is that they have a few interesting tricks up their sleeves. Let’s take a look.

Build quality/design/fit

We already talked a little bit about the design. At first glance, it’s sort of uninspired, looking like your typical thick, wireless earbuds we’ve seen for years now. But upon closer inspection, you’ll find that the wire connecting the buds actually passes through buds, creating a loop on the end that helps the earbuds fit securely in your ear fold. It’s such an interesting way to handle this and looks much cooler than the rubber grips you find on other wireless earbuds.

There are no rubber tips, which means these are a one size fits all affair. While they fit snuggly in one of my ear holes, they kept slipping out of the other, requiring some additional fine tuning of the loop to securely hold them in place. Once I got that worked out, they felt good although not quite as nice as AirPods.

When you’re not using Pixel Buds, they can be stored inside their charging case. The buds last around 5 hours on a single charge, while the charging case holds an additional 4 full charges for “24 hours of total playback” and charges via USB Type C (yes!).

The case itself feels nice, sort of high quality TPU with a faux fabric layer on the outside. The buds are held into place with magnets, and require you to hold them down while you wrap the wire around the inside of the case. From there, you’ll have to hold the wire down while closing the case, making the whole process feel much more involved than it should.

So what can they do?

Well, Google Pixel Buds can not only listen to music, but they can access Google Assistant as well. The large surface area is actually a sort of touch pad (right earbud only), recognizing taps and gestures. For instance, tapping on it will pause/resume music, while swiping forward/back will adjust the volume.

Long pressing on the Pixel Buds will activate Google Assistant. There’s no downtime either, just hold on the bud and immediately begin speaking a command or query. Google Assistant will then let you know what it’s doing almost as if it were listening the entire time.

Google showed off the ability for Pixel Buds to translate 40 languages in real time thanks to Google Translate. During the onstage demo, this happened rather seamlessly without much downtime, but since I wasn’t able to test this for myself I can’t say for sure if the process was just as quick (or slightly more delayed).

Pixel Buds also have a painless pairing process that works much the same as AirPods. Pixel Buds utilize Google Assistant to auto-pair to your device without the need to fiddle around with settings. A popup will ask you to connect and show you the battery percentage of your buds, you just have to make sure you’re Android device is running Android Marshmallow or higher to take advantage of this feature.

When do they release and how much?

Google Pixel Buds will be launching this November for $160. They come in black, white, and blue color options (matching up with the Pixel 2 colors) and although they’re listed as “out of stock” on the Google Store, you can join the wait list to be notified when they finally become available.

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7 reasons I’m not buying a Pixel 2 this year

Every year I wait in anticipation of several different phone manufacturers to see what they’re going to showcase this year. I keep waiting for Sony to move past the same design with its huge bezels and to see whether or not major Android players will have the same “courage” that Apple had with the iPhone 7.

I know it’s just a matter of time before the industry shifts away from the 3.5mm headphone jack now that both Google and Apple are on board with its removal, but I can’t help but feel jaded as we’re stuck in this limbo phase of dongles and expensive accessories to be bought alongside your increasingly expensive smartphone.

I’m not buying a Pixel 2 this year and here are just a few reasons why.

7. Stiff competition from Samsung & LG

2017 is the year of bezel-less smartphones, but Google didn’t seem to get the memo. Both Samsung and LG had some catching up to do for different reasons this year and it really showed with the phones they brought to the table for Fall 2017.

Samsung had a lot to make up for with the release of the Galaxy Note 8 thanks to the spectacular failure of the Galaxy Note 7 last year. By all accounts, Samsung has hit it out of the park with the Galaxy Note 8, offering everything Galaxy Note 7 owners wanted before they had to return their device.

The LG V30 makes up for the Snapdragon 821 in the LG G6 earlier this year by coming equipped with a Snapdragon 835, Quad DAC, expandable storage, waterproofing, and wireless charging. In short, both the Samsung Galaxy Note 8 and the LG V30 are beastly devices that the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL just aren’t competing with because Google has its eyes set on Apple’s walled garden approach.

6. Removal of the 3.5mm headphone jack

Now that both Google and Apple are beating the same drum with the removal of the 3.5mm headphone jack, it’s only a matter of time before manufacturers like Samsung, LG, and OnePlus decide to start stepping to the beat. That’s disheartening when literally everything else you might want a set of headphones for still uses the 3.5mm headphone jack.

I’ve seen countless arguments both for and against the removal of the headphone jack and I understand both sides’ opinion. But that doesn’t negate the fact that it sucks to be stuck in the limbo of a major technological change when replacement 3.5mm headphone dongles cost $20 direct from Google.

A few months ago someone asked iPhone 7 users how they felt dealing with the removal of the 3.5mm headphone jack now that the phone has been available for a year. Some people were okay with it, but the majority of people expressed discontent with having to find different alternatives. Here’s what some of them had to say.

I’ve had to replace my adapter 3 times because it either stopped working or I lost it. Since then I use Bluetooth earbuds because they’re more convenient and more low profile.

The other day I wanted to put a song on my friends speakers and it needed to be plugged in. Couldn’t do it.

Then a few weeks ago I was at my grandmothers’ and I was charging my phone and I wanted to watch a YouTube video at the same time. Couldn’t. This was the most frustrating incident.

While flying I can’t charge with an external battery and use headphones which is super annoying. I plug in the headphones and watch Netflix while watching the battery drop. At some point I have to switch off Netflix to bump up the power.

It’s actually been pretty great without the 3.5mm jack.

When I go to the bar, my friends and I get to pick the music occasionally and plug in our phones to the speakers.

Since my friend’s all got the iPhone 7, I’ve been the only one in charge of the music. Everyone consistently forgets their adapter, so they never get to hook up their own phones.

These are all real-world use cases that highlight just how inconvenient it is to have a phone that doesn’t have a 3.5mm headphone jack when most of the rest of the world still relies on the universal standard. Bluetooth headphones could negate a few of the situations above, but again you’d have to carry around two sets of headphones. That’s just not appealing on a device from 2017.

5. No included USB-C headphones

Last year Google mocked Apple for removing the 3.5mm headphone jack from the iPhone 7, listing the jack as a feature that’s “refreshingly not so new.” Google can crow about Apple all they want in 2016 when they’ve still included a headphone jack, but at least the iPhone 7 launched with a basic pair of lightning headphones to use with the new device.

Google has included no USB-C headphones in either the Pixel 2 or the Pixel 2 XL box, which means you’ll need to shell out some cash for a pair of Bluetooth headphones or grab those expensive $159 Pixel Buds that Google wants you to buy because the instant-translation feature is exclusive to Pixel phones.

4. Go wireless, but no wireless charging

One of the benefits that some defenders of removing the 3.5mm headphone jack cite is that going wireless is great. You don’t have to worry about your headphones snagging on anything and getting ripped out of your ears. That may be true, but what about getting rid of wires when it comes to charging your phone?

Apple is setting themselves up to go to a fully wireless eco-system in the future with the release of AirPower, yet Google launches its flagship phone for 2017 without any form of wireless charging in sight. In fact, we haven’t seen wireless charging as a serious feature on a Google-produced flagship since the Nexus 6, which debuted back in 2014.

Android fanboys were happy to trot out the argument that wireless charging has been done to death on Android before Apple users got their first taste this year with the iPhone 8 and the iPhone X, but it seems to me that Apple’s strategy of moving toward a wireless world in all regards makes more sense than Google’s approach of removing only some wires but not others.

3. I’m still mourning the death of Nexus

I’m in love with stock Android. I’ve owned an Android device (sometimes multiples) every year since 2011 and yet nothing has come close to the pure pleasure of not having to uninstall a bunch of carrier bloatware or deal with features that feel like a half-baked part of someone else’s version of Android.

I won’t deny that there have been some incredible OEM-specific features that have made their way into Android as stock features, but by and large, you’re often putting up with an OEM-skinned version of Android rather than truly enjoying the experience. It’s also painful that in order to get that experience, Google wants you to pay a premium price for a phone that leaves too many features out for the asking price.

The Nexus line was the sweet spot between an affordable Android phone that offered a stock experience with frequent updates. I’m hoping the Android One line can step up and fill some of those gaps, but once again it’s a wait and see game. Right now I’m using a OnePlus 5 because it’s the closest thing to stock Android with modern specs that didn’t cost me an arm and a leg to buy.

2. Google is building its own walled garden

It’s quite obvious at this point that Google has no interest in competing with Samsung and LG’s flagships, which are packed with new and differing features each generation. Instead, Google is hoping to emulate Apple’s success by building up a brand of products with features that are only available to Pixel.

Google’s stance was pretty much confirmed today when they removed Android Wear devices not made by Google from the Google Store. A tweet confirmed that from now on the Google Store will only carry Google-produced devices and accessories.

In fact, I would even say that Google is beating Apple at its own game. Check out these differences:

  • Apple iPhone 7 Replacement Lightning Dongle – $9
  • Google Pixel 2 Replacement USB-C Dongle – $20
  • Apple iPhone 7 Lightning Earbuds – Included
  • Google Pixel 2 USB-C Earbuds – Not included 


1. Premium Price for 2016’s Design

I get that the bezel-less trend that has been 2017 isn’t for everyone, but looking at the Pixel 2 I see a phone with a design that I just don’t like. I didn’t really care for the design of the original Pixel either so I realized I’m a bit biased here, but I’m not really seeing a phone that excites me.

It has a glass back but no wireless charging and the front of the smaller Pixel 2 is so ugly that Google has done everything they can to hide it in official marketing materials. It’s clear that the LG-designed Pixel XL is intended to be the star of this year’s Pixel line-up. But the Pixel 2 just isn’t a phone I can see myself shelling out over $850 bucks for when I can get the same specs (sans the amazing camera) for around $300 less in the OnePlus 5.

Hell, with the difference between the two I could buy a decent Sony DSLR and have amazing pictures. Just not with my phone. And that seems like a better compromise to me than carrying around two sets of headphones or worrying about bringing my dongle because I might need it.

What about you? Do you plan on getting a Pixel 2? I’d love to hear why you think I’m wrong in the comments.


Here’s everything you missed from Google’s Pixel 2 event

Man, oh man. Google showed off a LOT of new products at its event in California today, but not everyone has time to sit down and watch the 2-hour long presentation to see what’s coming to the market directly from Google. So to help everyone out, we’re here to condense everything and let you know what you missed.

The obvious announcement today was the introduction of the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL. These devices replace last year’s Pixel lineup, while offering some upgrades in hardware externally and internally. Both devices are powered by the Snapdragon 835 chipset, which has powered many of 2017’s flagship devices, while also being coupled with 4GB of RAM and either 64GB or 128GB of storage.

Both devices also come equipped with the same camera sensors on either the front or back, making for a unified experience regardless of which device you decide to pick up. The front sensor comes in at 8MP with a f/2.4 aperture, while the rear sensor comes in at 12MP with an aperture of f/1.8 along with dual-LED flash, OIS, and EIS built-in.

Speaking of the rear camera, these new devices have a big standard to live up to after the Pixel and Pixel XL were rated as the best camera of last year, including the highest rating ever by DxOMark. Well, the rating system has returned with the new Pixel 2 and 2 XL, with DxOMark giving this camera a rating of 98, which is again the highest ever, and 4 full points higher than that of the iPhone 8 Plus and Samsung Galaxy Note 8.

Moving to the differences, the Pixel 2 features a 5-inch FHD AMOLED display, with a traditional 16:9 aspect ratio and the ugly bezels that were included on the original Pixel. As for the Pixel 2 XL, we have a 6-inch P-OLED display, with a 2:1 aspect ratio and a resolution of 2880 x 1440. Since the Pixel 2 XL features a larger 2:1 display, Google has curved the edges and trimmed up the bezels leaving just a little bit of space for the dual front-firing speakers.

Battery life has always been a point of contention, and the Pixel 2 comes packed with a 2,700mAh battery, while the Pixel 2 XL comes equipped with a 3,520mAh battery which is even larger than its predecessor. In fact, Google has claimed that you’ll be able to get 7 hours of battery after charging for just 15 minutes.

The other biggest addition to the Pixel 2 and 2 XL is the addition of the squeezable frame, which has been named Active Edge. This allows you to simply squeeze the frame of your device and quickly activate Google Assistant before asking it to perform a task. We’ve already seen something similar come with the HTC U11, and considering the fact that HTC is the OEM for the smaller Pixel 2, this move makes sense.

As for pricing and availability, the Pixel 2 starts at $649 for the 64GB model while the Pixel 2 XL starts at $849 for the 64GB model. There are also 128GB variants that can be purchased for an extra $100 for either device. The Pixel 2 will come in three color options – Kinda Blue, Just Black, and Clearly White. The Pixel 2 XL comes in just two color options with Black & White, and a Just Black option.

Pre-orders for both devices opened today through the Google Store, Verizon, Project Fi, and Best Buy, with shipping to commence on October 19th. Oh, and for a limited time, Google is throwing in a free Google Home Mini for anyone who buys either the Pixel 2 or Pixel 2 XL.

Google Pixel Buds

So now that the speculation surrounding a headphone jack can be put to bed, Google decided to exclude the 3.5mm headphone jack from both Pixel 2 models, in favor of using either a dongle or the new Pixel Buds. The Google Pixel Buds are a set of Bluetooth headphones that are Google’s response to Apple’s AirPods.

No, these aren’t completely wireless, as there is a single braided cable that will rest on your neck. However, the fun here really comes when you look at what these are capable of. During the announcement, Google showed off some translation capabilities, making it possible for you to have a FLUID conversation with someone speaking a completely different language. This translation is done in real-time and will make life much easier for those who travel abroad.

The right earbud holds all of the gesture support which allows you to activate Assistant or control your music with just a gesture. As for battery life, Google claims these are rated for 5 hours of usage, but the included case will give you up to 24 hours of usage before needing to recharge the case.

Finally, another huge feature here is “Fast Pair” which will automatically pair the Pixel Buds with any device rocking Android Nougat above just by opening the case. This type of technology has already been seen with Apple’s AirPods, but this marks the first option for Android users to quickly pair without fumbling with buttons and menus.

The Pixel Buds are priced at $159 while coming in three color options – Kinda Blue, Just Black, and Clearly White. Shipping is expected to begin this November.

Daydream View

After Google was finished showing off its new phones, the company took a turn to take a look at virtual reality. With last year’s Pixel lineup, the Daydream View VR headset was introduced and a new version will be making its way to storefronts alongside the Pixel 2.

This updated Daydream View headset features a slightly improved design, including new lenses for better field-of-view during usage, along with a built-in heatsink to help avoid your brand new phone from overheating while experiencing VR on the go. There is also a new strap that can go across the top of your head to make things more comfortable when you’re using the Daydream View for long periods of time. And when you’re done using it, a holster on the strap makes it easy to tuck away the remote until you’re ready to go again.

The new Google Daydream View is priced at $99, and is compatible with any Daydream-compatible device including the recently launched Galaxy Note 8, and others.

Google Home Mini

Now for the move to new Google Home products. The Google Home Mini got things kicked off, but thanks to some well-timed leaks, we already knew what was coming, including price, design, and more.

Priced at just $50, it’s clear that Google is ready to take Amazon head on with this Echo Dot competitor. The Google Home Mini features 4 LED’s across the top, which has been covered in a fabric that is likely to get dirty or dusty if it’s not at least cleaned a few times a week.

Regardless, the plan here is for Google to put Assistant in every room of your home, and at this extremely low price point, it makes life much easier. Plus, you won’t have to worry about forking out a boat load of dough just to get the Assistant that you want and need.

Google Home Max

From the budget-minded to those with a seemingly endless bank account. While the Google Home Mini is designed to take on the Amazon Echo Dot, it’s extremely clear that the Google Home Max is aimed at the Apple HomePod which was announced back at WWDC 2017.

The problem lies within the price point, as the Home Max is priced at $399, while the HomePod is *just* $349. While Google did a pretty good job at showcasing the Home Max with its upcoming TV advert, it’s tough to tell exactly who this speaker is for.

Nonetheless, the Home Max comes equipped with two 4.5-inch woofers, along with far-field microphones which make it easy to get in touch with Google Assistant, even if you’re already bumping up the music. Additionally, the Home Max features “Smart Sound” technology which allows the speaker to automatically adapt to its location, providing the best music experience, regardless of the situation.

Google Home Max is priced at $399 and will be arriving sometime in December and Google will be giving owners 12 months of YouTube Red for free.

Google Pixelbook

One announcement that wasn’t all that exciting was the new Google Pixelbook. The Pixelbook is the successor to the widely-popular Chromebook Pixel which was last released back in 2015, but hasn’t been updated since.

This new Chromebook features a Pixel-style design, complete with the glass window along the top of the rear casing, and aluminum embodying the rest of the case, including the keyboard. However, the design isn’t all of the story as Google Assistant will be making its debut in Chrome OS thanks to the Pixelbook and a dedicated Assitant key that will let you enter any query with ease.

For an extra $99, you can pick up the Wacom-powered Pixelbook pen which is said to feature 2,000 levels of pressure sensitivity and a response time of just 10ms. Plus, you can use the Pixelbook Pen to circle items on your touch-sensitive display, and then Google Assistant will help you find whatever bits of information that you may need.

The Pixelbook itself is priced at $999 for the base model, which is powered by the Intel i5 processor, 8GB of RAM and a 128GB SSD. If you want to opt for some more storage, you can do so for an extra $200 for the 256GB model. However, there is an ultra-powerful option which comes equipped with 16GB of storage, a 512GB NVMe hard drive, and the Intel Core i7 processor, and that will set you back $1,649 when the Pixelbook launches on October 31st.

Google Clips

The final product announced today was completely out of left field. Google Clips is an AI-driven smart camera, which will automatically take pictures and videos for you. Clips is definitely geared at parents or proud pet owners, as the camera will automatically capture moments without needing to take out your phone or fuss with any buttons.

Unfortunately, video clips won’t have any sound as Google has left out any microphones, likely to avoid any wiretapping or awkward situations in the future. Nonetheless, you can basically just turn on Google Clips, leave it standing somewhere, and let Google’s powerful AI do its thing and get some excellent shots that likely wouldn’t have been possible before.

Google Clips is priced at $249 from the Google Store, but it seems there is no mention of a specific release date. However, you can join the waitlist if you’re interested in snagging one for your family.


Whew. Google has definitely been hard at work over the last year developing all-new products to enhance our lives, but without a doubt, my favorite is that sexy Black & White Pixel 2 XL. The Pixel Buds are a close second for me, as I have been hoping for Google to offer something similar to the AirPods, but geared for the Android faithful.

Let us know what your favorite product from today was, and if you’ll be picking anything up!

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Google officially announces the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL

The wait is finally over as Google has officially unveiled the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL. These devices will serve as Google’s flagships for at least the next year, and let’s take a look at what each device offers.

Starting with the smaller Pixel 2, the device features a 4.97-inch FHD display, with a resolution of 1920×1080 and a standard 16:9 aspect ratio. Powering the device is the Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 SoC along with 4GB of RAM and a base storage of 64GB, although Google will be providing a 128GB option for those who need a bit more.

We also have Android 8.0 Oreo with a brand new Pixel 2 launcher, which was previously leaked and moves the search bar to below the dock of icons. Additionally, this HTC-built device comes equipped with dual-front facing speakers, which should help alleviate some of the issues caused by the removal of the 3.5mm headphone jack. Luckily, Google will be providing a USB-C to 3.5mm dongle which will allow you to listen to your standard headphones, without reaching for a set of Bluetooth ones.


  • 5-inch Display (1920×1080)
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 835
  • 4GB RAM
  • 64GB/128GB Storage
  • 8MP Front Camera
  • 12MP Rear Camera
  • 2,700mAH Battery
  • Bluetooth 5.0
  • IP67 Water Resistance

Moving to the rear of the device, we have a single 12MP sensor, which has been improved tremendously over last year’s 12MP sensor, as Google looks to keep its users ecstatic with the various low-light shots that this will be able to take. Off to the left of the camera sensor is a dual-LED flash, along with auto-focus sensors to help take the perfect shot. The rear of the device also comes with a new design, as the window which houses many of the device’s sensors have been shrunk, and no longer encapsulates the rear-mounted fingerprint scanner.

Pixel 2 XL

As for the larger Pixel 2 XL, we have a 6-inch P-OLED display, which has been provided by LG, while featuring a resolution of 2880×1440 and a 2:1 aspect ratio. Considering that many of the internals of these devices are the same, the Pixel 2 XL is also powered by the Snapdragon 835 SoC, along with 4GB of RAM, and either 64GB or 128GB of internal storage. But as expected, there is no option for expandable storage through a microSD card slot.

The big story here comes in the brand-new display found on the Pixel 2 XL, which is a change in the boring design that plagued the original Pixel XL, and falls more in line with that of the Galaxy S8, LG G6, Essential Phone, and other devices. We no longer have to worry about huge chins on the top and bottom, as those “chins” have been replaced with front-firing speakers, a move that has surprised some.


  • 6-inch Display (2880×1440)
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 835
  • 4GB RAM
  • 64GB/128GB Storage
  • 8MP Front Camera
  • 12MP Rear Camera
  • 3,520mAh Battery
  • Bluetooth 5.0
  • IP67 Water Resistance

Moving to the rear of the device, we have an improved 12MP main camera sensor which also features “Pixel Visual Core” which vastly improves the image processing. This works with Qualcomm’s Snapdragon processor to improve image quality, and may even make a move beyond the quality found in HDR+ content.

In a slightly different design choice, the camera sensor is placed on the far left of the device, leaving the dual-LED flash and autofocus sensors to be placed to the right of the camera, closer to the center of the device. The same redesigned chassis of the rear has made its way to the larger Pixel 2 XL with a smaller glass window for the various sensors, and the fingerprint scanner placed just below it.

When it comes to the battery, we’re looking at a 3,520mAh battery, which is slightly larger than the 3,450mAh battery found in its predecessor. This will “hopefully” leave us with better battery life over the long term, and won’t leave us reaching for portable chargers throughout the day.

Also joining both of these devices will be Active Edge, which will allow you to quickly and easily interact with your Google Assistant with nothing more than a squeeze.

Will you be buying one?

Let us know what you think about the latest devices from Google and if you’ll be looking to ship your hard-earned duckets to Google for either the Pixel 2 or the Pixel 2 XL.

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