6 Reasons to Love or Hate the Amazon Key

Earlier today, Amazon took many of us by surprise by announcing its new Amazon Key services, along with the new Amazon Cloud Cam. These are designed to help make life just a bit easier for you, while making it possible for Amazon couriers to leave packages in your home even if you’re not there.

While there are plenty of varying opinions on whether Amazon Key is actually worth it, we take a look at 5 reasons why you should love, or hate, Amazon Key.

LOVE: Make sure that your package is delivered safely

The first reason why we love Amazon Key is the fact that it will help ensure that none of your packages will be stolen or damaged if you are away from home for the day, or for an extended period of time. In order for everything to work, you will need the Amazon Cloud Cam, and a compatible smart lock that has been installed.

Once those requirements are met, the courier will press a button on their own device asking Amazon for authorization. Once complete, your Cloud Cam will automatically turn on and begin recording, and at the same time, a notification will be sent to your device giving you a heads up of a package arriving and allowing you to watch the live stream to make sure nothing fishy is going on.

After the delivery has been completed, the Amazon courier will be required to lock your doors, ensuring that nobody else will be able to work their way into your home uninvited.

HATE: Requires you to disarm security system

Speaking of working their way into your home uninvited, there’s one huge caveat for those who are interested in the Amazon Key system – you need to disarm your security system. In the FAQ for the Amazon Key Kit, Amazon states the following:

Amazon Key is not integrated with home security systems. On the day of delivery, you will need to disarm your home security alarm. We do not recommend using in-home delivery if you are not comfortable disarming your security system on delivery day.

This means that you’ll need to keep your house insecure while you’re away, as the Amazon Key system does not work with home security systems. There is also no mention of compatibility being offered in the future, so you’ll have to choose wisely if you want to take advantage of what Amazon Key has to offer.

LOVE: Let the dogwalkers get to work

The other added benefit to the Amazon Key system is the ability to let those you trust into your home, even if you’re away. A few examples used in the Amazon Key listing are for dog walkers, or a cleaning crew to be able to enter your home and make sure that the puppies are taken out to do their business.

You could even set it up to let a family member get into the house while you’re on vacation to keep an eye on things, and the Cloud Cam will still let you keep an eye on everything that is going on while you’re gone. Plus, Amazon is planning to begin providing users the ability to sign up for services from the likes of Merry Maids, Rover.com, and Amazon Home Services.

HATE: Restricted lock selection

While the smart lock world is expanding and blowing up, Amazon Key won’t work with just any smart lock that you can find. Currently, when attempting to build an Amazon Key Kit, you are limited to just three smart lock options:

This means that if you already purchased a smart lock system, it is 100% useless if you want to use it conjunction with the Amazon Key services. So purchasing the Kit will bring your price to around $250 if you want to get started, but you’ll have to uninstall that old smart lock.

READ MORE: What’s the Best Smart Lock for Amazon Key?

LOVE: In-home kit installed for free

Now when it comes to installing these smart locks, things can be a bit finicky, and require more work than just your traditional door locks. So to help everyone out, Amazon is offering free In-Home Kit installation for FREE for a limited time. This will give you the help you need from professionals who know how to get everything set up, while also saving you from certain headaches.

HATE: Random people in your home

This is my biggest hangup with this system, and it’s the fact that people will be entering my home that I don’t know. Sure, there are a lot of fail-safes that Amazon has implemented, such as the need for couriers to contact the company when delivering packages. However, that doesn’t make me feel any better about strangers entering my home, even if I can see them on camera.

Maybe I’m on my own here, but there’s just something about strange people being able to enter my home when I’m away that I’m not necessarily okay with. What if something happens and a package arrives but the person forgets to lock the door behind them? That’s not even counting the possible criminal activity that could take place. Sure it may be a long shot, but it’s something that leaves me uneasy.

Are you signing up?

These are just some of the reasons why you should love or hate the new Amazon Key system, but we want to hear from you. Will you be purchasing the kit yourself? Or do you have too many concerns with the process that this is an instant “no” purchase decision? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

Take Our Poll

http://phandroid.com/2017/10/25/amazon-key-love-hate/

Amazon Key eligible ZIP Codes

Amazon has announced only certain ZIP codes are eligible for Amazon Key – the new system giving delivery drivers access to your house. About 57% of the 43,000 eligible ZIP codes in the United States can sign up for Amazon Key: are you one of them?

Most of these ZIP Codes are situated around major metropolitan centers like New York City, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles and San Francisco, but the ZIP code spread is pretty big.

Check if your ZIP code is Amazon Key eligible

  1. Hit CTRL + F on your keyboard (Command + F on Mac) to bring up your browser’s search box.
  2. Type in your five digit zip code.
  3. If the browser finds your ZIP code on this page, your area is part of the rollout.
  4. If not, then Amazon Key is not available in your area yet.
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http://phandroid.com/2017/10/25/amazon-key-zip-codes/

80+ Samsung Galaxy Note 8 Tips & Tricks

The Samsung Galaxy Note 8 has been out for quite some time, and we’ve spent enough time with the device to compile a list of the best tips and tricks for Samsung’s latest and greatest. So without further adieu, here are the best tips and tricks for the Galaxy Note 8.

ICYMI: 15 First things every Galaxy Note 8 owner should do

How to take a screenshot

Taking a screenshot with the Galaxy Note 8 and sharing it with other apps or contacts is really easy. It’s actually a tad different from previous generations (depending on which Galaxy you’re coming from), so here’s how you do it:

  1. Press and hold the power button and volume down button simultaneously.
  2. Wait until you see the screenshot animation

For a brief moment after taking a screenshot, you’ll have the following options (this can be turned off in Settings > Advanced features > Smart capture):

  • Scroll capture – Take a scrolling screenshot of a web page/app
  • Draw – Doodle over your screenshot then crop, share, or save (you’ll need to give Screen write permission to access photos, media, and files on your device)
  • Crop – Crop your screenshot then save then draw, share, or save
  • Share – Immediately share your screenshot to another app, or by creating a link via Link Sharing.

If sharing through Link Sharing, you’ll have to confirm you want to share your contacts’ information with Samsung. Links shared via Link Sharing are temporary and expire after 24 hours.

Palm swipe to capture

Of course, Samsung still includes their unique Palm swipe to capture feature. This allows you to take a screenshot by swiping your hand across the display. You’ll find it inside Settings > Advanced features > Palm swipe to capture > ON.

Smart Select

If you’re like me and only want to screenshot a portion of the screen, the included S Pen functionality makes this extremely easy. The S Pen includes a feature called “Smart Select” which will allow you to draw either a circle or square around an area on your screen and capture just that portion.

In order to activate, simply remove the S pen, select Smart Select, choose the specific option (Lasso, GIF, Rectangle, Circle), and capture your image. From there, you will be presented with a sharing menu, making it easy to send that snippet to whomever you want.

Keep your Note 8 protected

Yes, the Galaxy Note 8 is absolutely gorgeous with its bezel-less design, smooth curves, and glass front and back. However, accidents do happen, and glass does scratch so we always recommend using a case or skin. Personally, I have been switching between using my Dragon Skin dbrand and Spigen Tough Armor case. The dbrand skin doesn’t interfere with the case and vice-versa, so I can have as much protection as I need depending on my day.

However, you’ll want to check out some of our favorite cases by hitting the button below.

Best Galaxy Note 8 Cases

Get rid of the charging cables

The Galaxy Note 8 features wireless charging and supports both Qi and PMA standards, making it compatible with almost any wireless charger out there. 

Wireless charging is typically pretty slow at charging your device — nowhere nearly as efficient as charging with a USB cable — but the Galaxy Note 8 always features wireless fast charging. Using a compatible fast wireless charger (and a wall charger with a 2A output), the phone charges much more quickly. 

There are plenty of fast wireless chargers on the market and most are pretty affordable. Here’s a list of my top picks: 

Store all the content you need

Samsung dropped the microSD card slot for a while, but they have thankfully added it back. You can easily upgrade your storage capacity without buying the expensive high storage models or a cloud storage subscription and relying on a data connection. Buy these great SD cards and pop one in.

Unlock with nothing more than your eyes

The Galaxy Note 8 is one of the first Android devices to feature an iris scanner for securing and unlocking the phone. It’s more secure than the face unlock feature, but isn’t quite as fast as unlocking your device. If that’s worth the trade-off, here’s how you can set up the iris scanner on the Galaxy Note 8:

  1. Open the Settings app
  2. Tap on Lock screen and security
  3. Tap on Iris Scanner and confirm lock method
  4. Agree to Disclaimer
  5. Read the onscreen directions and tap Continue
  6. Position your eyes in the circles shown on the display
  7. Wait until the 0% reaches 100%
  8. Read the tips (or Skip)
  9. Choose between Face unlock or Iris unlock (you can only use one or the other)

Things to keep in mind when using the iris scanner on the device:

  • To protect your eyes, keep the phone at least 8 inches away from your face when using the iris scanner
  • Do not use the iris scanner with infants as it may damage their eyesight
  • Anyone with a history of epileptic conditions should see a doctor before using the iris scanner
  • The iris scanner is not intended for use as a medical device

The Galaxy Note 8 may not recognize your irises when:

  • Something prevents a good view of your irises (glasses, glare, low eyelids, or disease)
  • Something gets in the way of the camera or the LED (screen protector, dirt, damage to the camera)
  • The lighting is very different from when you recorded your irises (much brighter room)
  • The phone is tilted too much or is moving

There’s still a fingerprint scanner

If the iris scanner isn’t your cup of tea, the Galaxy Note 8 also has a fingerprint scanner. Unfortunately, it’s not in the best spot. Samsung put it high up on the back next to the camera. The good news is it still works pretty well. Here’s how to set it up and use it.

  • Go to Settings > Lock screen and security
  • Select Fingerprint scanner
  • Tap Add fingerprint
  • Follow the instructions until 100% of your fingerprint has been scanned
  • Tap DONE
  • Toggle on Fingerprint unlock

Keep specific files away from prying eyes

In previous versions of Samsung’s software, they had a “private mode” you could use to hide things like photos and videos. For the Galaxy Note 8, they’ve expanded on this idea with something they call a Secure Folder that allows you to add everything from photos, to files, notes, and even apps.

  1. Go to Settings > Lock screen and security
  2. Tap Secure Folder
  3. Follow the on-screen instructions

You should now see a Secure Folder on your home screen. You can add photos, videos, files, notes, and apps by doing the following:

  • Open the Secure Folder and tap (+) ADD to add more apps to the folder

To add something to the Secure Folder, such as a photo, open it and if the item can be moved to the Secure Folder, you should see the option by tapping the 3-dot menu icon and selecting “Move to Secure Folder.”

Keep it unlocked at home

Should you decide to lock down your Galaxy Note 8 down with a fingerprint, iris, or facial recognition, it’s still possible to keep your device unlocked when you’re home or when it’s on you.

It’s called Smart Lock and this feature will keep your phone unlocked as long as its connected to a Bluetooth device (smartwatch, car stereo, Bluetooth speaker). There’s even an option to keep your phone unlocked while it’s on you. Once the phone detects no movement, it locks itself down.

Here’s how you activate Smart Lock on the Galaxy Note 8:

  1. Open the Settings app
  2. Tap Lock screen and security
  3. Tap Smart Lock
  4. Confirm your password/pattern
  5. Configure On-body detection, trusted places, trusted devices, or trusted voice

Do Not Disturb

Nobody likes having their sleep interrupted by a random notification or message. While you could try to remember to silence your phone every night, there’s actually a better way.

The Galaxy Note 8’s “Do Not Disturb” feature will not only silence all notifications, but it will still allow alarms to come through or even specific contacts if you’d like (in the event of an emergency). Here’s how you set it up:

  1. Go to Settings > Sounds and vibration
  2. Tap on Do not disturb
  3. Toggle the switch on OR
  4. Create a schedule with days and times

Multi-task like a wizard with Multi-Window

It’s possible to open up two apps at the same time with Multi-Window mode. Thanks to the S8’s unique aspect ration, there’s now more room than ever to comfortably display two separate app windows on the screen. Here’s how you do it:

  • Tap the physical “Recents” button to the left of the Home button
  • All your recent apps will show up on the screen like a Rolodex
  • Apps that can be used in multi-window will show a twin-rectangle icon next to the (X) in the right corner
  • Tap that icon to open the app in the top half of the screen
  • The lower half of the screen will now show only recent apps that can be used in multi-window mode
  • Tap one to open it in the lower half
  • You can re-size the apps by dragging the middle line

Alternatively, you can long-press the Recents button while using an app to immediately snap it to the top half of the screen. On the bottom half, simply scroll through your recent apps, or tap MORE APPS to see a list of all your apps.

If you’d rather have a floating window (like on a desktop PC), you can also drag your finger diagonally from the top left corner of the display to put an app into a Pop-up view mode.

Get rid of those slow animations

While the Galaxy Note 8 comes equipped with 6GB of RAM, the animations still feel a bit slower than most would like. To speed things up and make the UI feel more snappy, you can increase 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

Keep the kids tied to just one app

Should you find yourself lending someone your phone — be it to play a game, or place a phone call — window pinning (screen pinning) is a secure way to lock someone down to a specific app and prevent them for wandering elsewhere through your phone. Here’s how you can turn enable it:

  • Open Settings > Lock Screen and Security
  • Tap Other Security Settings
  • Find Pin Windows and switch it ON
  • Specify whether you want your secure lock screen to come up before unpinning

To activate screen pinning, simply open your recent apps by tapping the Recent Apps button next to the right of the home button. Press the push pin icon located in the lower right corner of the most recent app to pin it and make it — and only it — accessible to the user.

Avoid complete disaster

It’s something nobody thinks about until it happens, but one of the worst things that could happen to you is losing your smartphone or having it stolen. In the event that your device does go missing, you need to know exactly how to recover your device or erase any personal information stored therein.

Android’s built-in feature — “Android Device Manager” — is the perfect way to track down a lost device, you just need to know where to find it.

  1. Go to google.com/android/devicemanager
  2. Select your phone from the drop-down menu.
  3. You’ll see the device on a map and a few options for finding it (ring), locking it (if it wasn’t locked already), or erasing all of its contents with a full factory reset.

Send an SOS in the case of an emergency

Should you ever find yourself being held at gun point (or abducted), you might not be in the position to type out a message or place a call with your phone. For those instances where discretion is key, Samsung’s SOS feature makes it easy to let a trusted contact know you’re in danger, but first you have to activate it.

  • Go to Settings > Advanced features
  • Select Send SOS messages
  • Turn the switch to ON to enable the feature.
  • Specify recipients to receive the message, as well as any text, photos and audio recordings you want to attach to the message.

Tapping the power button 3 times will then activate the SOS message. We hope you never find yourself in a position to use it, but better safe than sorry.

Spruce up the look and feel

Samsung’s 2017 lineup of devices come with a built-in theme picker and the Galaxy Note 8 is no different. The themes can change your wallpaper, icons, sounds, and even system apps and UI. Samsung has included a few themes that you can try out, plus a bunch more to download (Material Blue and Gray is pictured in this post).

  • Long-press on any blank space on the home screen
  • Tap Wallpapers and themes
  • Go to the Themes tab
  • Scroll down to explore themes
  • Find a theme you like, select it, and tap DOWNLOAD
  • After it installs you can tap APPLY

Make Always-On Display your own

One of the biggest features of Samsung introduced in the Galaxy S7 was its Always On Display. Making a return for the Galaxy Note 8, AOD gives users the ability to glance over at the time, view notification app icons, or other useful information straight from the lock screen while having a very minimal impact on battery life.

Because it’s always running, there’s no interaction required by the user to view this information, although the AOD is interactive. Here’s how it works:

  • Double tap a notification icon to view the notification (you’ll still need to unlock your phone to view it). Hard press the Home button to turn on the screen.
  • Double tap the clock to show Face Widgets. Tap the FaceWidget to show more information. Swipe left or right or tap the arrows to switch to different FaceWidget or the clock. Wait 5 seconds and the default widget will be shown again.

There are a number of clock styles and widgets you can choose for the Always On Display and you even have the ability to put AOD on a schedule. You’ll find all the settings as well as different “clock styles” (widgets) by going into:

  1. Settings app
  2. Lock screen and security
  3. Always On Display
  4. Tap a Clock Style to configure the widget and view options

Additional ways to use AOD:

Pin to AOD – Pin text and images you wish to remember to the AOD screen by creating a memo or Reminder and Share via.
AOD Themes – Download AOD-exclusive themes from Theme Store to change up the look of your AOD screen.

Force the Galaxy Note 8 to restart

From time to time, you may experience some hiccups with your device and in some cases, the display will freeze altogether. Since you can’t interact with the display, you’ll need to force your Note 8 to reboot so you can get back to the fun.

In order to force the Note 8 to reboot, you’ll need to press hold down the power button and volume down button for between 7 to 10 seconds. From there, you’ll see the display turn off and the device will restart, and then everything should back to normal!

Get a clean slate

Sometimes you just want to clean the slate and start fresh after a few months of messing around with your phone, in which case you’ll want to perform a Factory Reset on the Note 8. The process is extremely simple, and you’ll need to follow these steps:

  1. Open Settings
  2. Select Cloud & Accounts
  3. Select Backup & Reset
  4. Tap Factory Data Reset

From there you will need to sign into your Samsung account to ensure that someone else is not wiping your shiny device in the event it has ended up in the wrong hands. After you enter your Samsung password, your phone will reboot and the device will be wiped clean, allowing you to get a clean slate.

Change how hard you push the screen

Since the Galaxy Note 8 comes equipped with Samsung’s new Infinity Display, this allows the company to get rid of the traditional home button that would take up way too much space. Instead, we now have on-screen navigation buttons, but Samsung packed a little bit of extra functionality here.

The home button on the Galaxy Note 8 is always accessible — whether the navigation keys are on screen or not — it’s just invisible. To activate it, all you have to do is give the area where it would appear a hard/firm press and you’ll be taken back to your home screen. Simple as that.

This one’s for older folks

Not everyone has the best eyesight. For those that either struggle making out tiny fonts and icons, there’s Easy mode. It’s essentially an extremely simplified home screen without all the fluff and once activated, cranks the Galaxy Note 8’s zoom to maximum for enlarged fonts and buttons throughout the entire OS.

It’s great for people that don’t want or need complicated features, or those that have trouble seeing them. Here’s where you’ll find the option to activate it:

  1. Settings app
  2. Display
  3. Easy mode
  4. Apply

Tiny Hands? No Problem

Thanks to the Infinity Display, the Galaxy Note 8 is actually smaller than devices with equally as large displays. But when compared to similarly sized smartphones, the screens are now much taller. This can make pulling the notification bar or tapping on UI elements difficult to do with one hand. To help address this, Samsung has added a feature called One-handed mode.

You can find it inside Settings > Advanced features > One-handed mode > ON. There are two ways to activate the feature — either by swiping up from the bottom left/right corners or by tapping the home button 3 times (you’ll need to choose one or the other).

Activating One-handed mode shrinks the UI to about half of its size, anchoring it in either the bottom left or right corners of the display. From there you can tap arrows to move it to either side or click a settings button to go back into the One-handed mode settings. To enlarge the display again, you just perform the same gesture or tap the home button 3 times again (whichever method you chose initially). That’s it.

Take advantage of the gorgeous display

Out of the box, the Galaxy Note 8 doesn’t take full advantage of its 2960×1440 resolution QHD+ display. By default, it’s displaying at a lower 2220x1080p resolution, aka Full HD+. While this may be fine for most folks, those with a keen eye may notice fuzzy images and text.

For a clearer, more crisp visuals, you may want to enable the phone’s native WQHD+ resolution. You’ll find it inside the Settings app > Display > Screen resolution > WQHD+ > Apply.

Make those colors pop

There’s no question the Galaxy Note 8 features one of the most beautiful displays on the market. While the overly saturated colors might look nice, they’re nowhere near accurate. For those who like to do photo editing on their device — or anyone who prefers more accurate tones — you might want to play around with the color mode.

The Galaxy Note 8 features a few presets to choose from – Adaptive display, AMOLED cinema, AMOLED photo, and Basic. Switching between the modes will lower color saturation, slightly adjust the contrast, and warms up the display considerably. The most color accurate of the bunch is Basic, while Adaptive display is the only mode that gives you the Color balance option which allows you to tweak the white balance of the display.

Get as much screen real-estate as possible

Whether your eyesight isn’t the best or if you prefer holding your phone a little farther from your face, the Galaxy Note 8 can accommodate you by adjusting the display size. Changing the display size or “zoom” shrinks or enlarges the entire UI, including fonts and buttons, icons, contact photos, etc.. Of course, if you only want to adjust the size of the font, you have that option as well. Here’s where you’ll find the setting:

  1. Open the Settings app
  2. Select Display
  3. Tap on Screen zoom and font
  4. Adjust the sliders for SCREEN ZOOM and/or FONT SIZE
  5. When you’re finished, tap Apply to save your settings

Keep your most-used settings just a swipe away

The notification panel is full of handy toggles called “Quick Settings.” By default, Samsung has this area crammed with every toggle known to humans. It’s a bit of a mess. You should organize it and put your favorites at the top.

  1. Pull down on the notification shade
  2. Pull down again to reveal all the Quick Settings
  3. Tap the three-dot menu icon and select Button order
  4. Drag and drop icons to rearrange
  5. Move icons to the bottom to remove from Quick Settings
  6. Tap the back button when finished

Use Google’s Nav Button layout

For years, Samsung has been using a navigation button configuration that is different from every other Android phone. If you only use Samsung devices, it’s not a big deal, but it can be very annoying if you’re coming from something else. The Galaxy Note 8 has software navigation buttons, which means we can finally swap them around.

Samsung is the only Android OEM that uses the Recents, Home, Back order. Here’s how to switch it.

  1. Go to Settings > Display
  2. Select Navigation bar
  3. Tap Button layout
  4. Choose Back, Home, Recents

Quickly hide or show the navigation bar

Now that the home button is gone from the Galaxy Note 8, users now have to use on-screen navigation buttons to maneuver around there devices. However, thanks to the Infinity Display, Samsung has made it possible to easily hide the navigation bar to provide users with the ability to view more content.

In order to make the navigation bar disappear, simply double-tap on the dot placed on the left of the bar. Double tapping this dot will automatically hide the bar, but you can make it reappear by swiping up from the bottom. If you want to re-enable the bar, swipe up to bring it up, then double tap the same dot on the left-hand side.

Launch the camera with a couple of clicks

Being able to quickly access your camera at a moment’s notice can mean the difference between getting the shot or missing it entirely. There’s already a shortcut on the lockscreen, but if you need an even quicker method for opening the camera, there’s an open in the settings that will launch the app with two quick taps of the power button. Here’s how you enable (or disable it):

  1. Open the Settings app
  2. Scroll down and select Advanced features
  3. Tap on Quick launch Camera to turn it on/off

Switch away from those default applications

The Galaxy Note 8 has a funny way of automatically choosing your default apps the first time you select them from the Android intents list. On regular Android devices, you’re always given the option to open a link or shortcut with a specific app either “Just this once” or “Always.”

Because of Samsung’s weird way of handling this, you’re probably going to need to change your Default apps at some point. Here’s where you’ll find the setting:

  1. Open the Settings app
  2. Tap on Apps
  3. Tap on the 3-dot menu
  4. Select Default apps

From there, you’re given a list of the bigger apps (Browser, Calling, Messaging) but you can also dive into Set as default to set any app as a specific default.

While you’re in the Default apps, you may want to consider changing your Default app selection to Ask before setting default if you like having the option to choose whenever opening links or shortcuts.

If you already set a bunch of apps to open automatically and want to clear them, simply go back into the main Apps page > 3-dot menu > Reset app preferences > Reset to start fresh.

Help extend your battery life even further

Occasionally you’ll see a notification on your Galaxy Note 8 from “App power monitor” telling you that “X apps running in the background have been put to sleep to save power.” It’s a little misleading in that often times these apps weren’t actually doing anything (as evidenced by their power usage percentage), but in order to prevent added battery drain, App power monitor preemptively puts them to sleep. You know, just in case. Here’s how Samsung describes this somewhat extreme app hibernation feature:

“Apps that were using your battery in the background have been put to sleep to extend your battery life. Sleeping apps may not receive updates or send you notifications, but they’ll wake as soon as you use them again.”

The problem with app sleeping is that the thinking is flawed. You don’t have to use every app on your phone every single day in order to want it to function normally. Whether it’s a messaging app or social network, sometimes it can be multiple days (even longer) before you open an app — doesn’t mean you want to stop receiving notifications from it. By freezing these apps on your device, you’re essentially allowing them to stay installed, but keeping them in some sort of app purgatory. An app coma if you will. This isn’t a decision your phone should make for you.

So what can you do about it?

Well, you can turn the feature off entirely (recommended) or you can increase the length of time it takes before App power monitor kicks in and freezes your apps. The default is 3 days, but you can extend this up to 7 days. M suggestion is that you turn off the auto-sleep feature, but still keep App power monitor active so that you can still choose which apps to sleep on an app-by-app basis.

To configure App power monitor you can tap the notification to see a list of the apps that have recently been “put to sleep” and adjust the settings. You can also adjust App power monitor settings by selecting the following…

  1. Open the Settings app
  2. Device maintenance
  3. Battery button
  4. 3-dot menu
  5. Advanced settings
  6. App Power Monitor

Here you can turn off App power monitor completely, turn off the auto-sleep feature (recommended), or adjust the length of time before apps are automatically put to sleep by tapping Put unused apps to sleep and moving the slider.

To manage which apps you’d like to put to sleep, again, open the Settings app and tap the following:

  1. Device maintenance
  2. Battery

At the bottom, you’ll see a list of your most frequently used apps. You can sleep apps individually or in a group by selecting them then tapping the big SAVE POWER button. Apps that are sleeping will appear in the SLEEPING APPS list at the bottom (tap it to expand the list).

Scrolling further — all the way to the very bottom — and you’ll find Unmonitored apps. These are apps that you specifically want to exclude (white list) from App power monitor. When inside the Unmonitored apps menu, you can tap the 3-dot menu to add or delete apps from the list.

Or, you know… turn this entire feature off

Rather than bothering with any of that, it’s my personal recommendation that you just turn off the App power monitor feature completely as it has little-to-no impact on battery life and only serves to handicap the normal functioning of your Galaxy Note 8. It’s excessive and in some cases downright misleading, using scare tactics to keep you reliant on Samsung’s software when other Android devices get by just fine without it. Seriously, don’t even bother.

Get app shortcuts without widgets

A new feature introduced in Android 7.0 Nougat was the ability to long press app icons on the home screen to pull up a list of executable shortcuts. The Galaxy Note 8’s TouchWiz home launcher has it’s own variation of this with its own list of shortcuts to quickly perform actions.

These actions include like Select multiple items, remove shortcut (app icon), move from folder, add to Secure Folder, sleep, uninstall, or view app info.

Use a traditional App Drawer icon

By default, the Galaxy Note 8’s home screen doesn’t have an app drawer button. This is because the home screen now uses up/down gestures to pull up your app drawer, eliminating the need to tap a button. If you really miss that old app drawer button, it’s possible to add it back. Here’s how.

  1. Long press a blank area of the home screen
  2. Tap Home screen settings
  3. Tap on Apps button
  4. Select Show Apps button

Keep your App Drawer organized

I’m not sure why they do this, but TouchWiz home on the Galaxy Note 8 doesn’t sort their apps alphabetically. It’s a little annoying, but it’s easy to set things straight. Just swipe up/down to open the app drawer and tap the 3-dot menu in the upper right corner. Select Sort > Alphabetical order and set things right.

Hide those unnecessary apps

Whether you’re looking to tidy up your phone’s app drawer, or you want to keep some apps out of view of others, hiding apps is easy on the Galaxy Note 8 thanks to TouchWiz home.

  1. Simply swipe up or down on the home screen to pull up your app drawer
  2. Tap the 3-dot menu button in the upper right corner of the screen
  3. Tap Settings
  4. Tap on Hide apps
  5. Select desired apps you’d like to hide
  6. Tap APPLY in the upper right corner

To un-hide apps you’ve hidden, you’ll need to go back into that same menu and un-select the apps you’ve selected. Easy as that.

Get rid of what you can

Carriers love to pre-load tons of useless apps on Android phones. The Galaxy Note 8 is no different. There could be over 20 apps already on your device that you have no intention of ever using. The good news is we can uninstall, or at least disable, most of the bloatware.

  • Open the app drawer to see all of your apps
  • Long-press on any app
  • Tap Select multiple items
  • Select all the apps you want to remove
  • Tap Uninstall
  • Tap OK or Disable on all the prompts

If you would like to revive a disabled app you can go to Settings > Apps. Select Disabled from the drop-down menu and tap the app you’d like to Enable.

Get rid of the Squircles

If the “squircle” (square + circle) app icons on the Galaxy Note 8 bother you, it’s possible to change them to normal non-uniform Android icons. You know, without the background frames. Here’s how:

  1. Open the Settings app
  2. Tap on Display
  3. Tap on Icon frames
  4. Select Icons only

Add more icons to Samsung’s launcher

Samsung has slowly but surely been upgrading its built-in launcher for those who don’t immediately install something like Nova Launcher when a new device arrives. A new update to the Samsung Experience launcher on the Galaxy Note 8 lets you actually change the grid size of the launcher, with four different options.

If you want to switch things up on the Samsung home screen, follow these steps:

  1. Press and hold on an empty space on the launcher
  2. Select “Home screen settings
  3. Tap “Home screen grid”
  4. Select your grid of choice:
    1. 4×5
    2. 4×6
    3. 5×5
    4. 5×6

Make your videos pop!

There’s no question the AMOLED display on the Galaxy Note 8 is fantastic for viewing most types of media, but the phone’s “infinite black” contrast ratio can make it difficult to see what’s going on in darker videos. Samsung’s “video enhancer” feature looks to fix this by automatically cranking up the brightness and lightening up shadows and darker areas of a video in compatible apps. Here’s how you turn it on.

  1. Open the Settings app
  2. Tap on Advanced features
  3. Scroll down to Video enhancer and turn ON

If you tap on the words, you can see video enhancer in action thanks to a sample video image, along with apps that are currently compatible with Samsung’s video enhancer.

Ensure your eyes won’t be strained too much

 

After studies showed that the blue light emitted from our smartphones can interfere with the body’s natural ability to fall asleep, most manufacturers these days now include some sort of Night Shift mode. On the Galaxy Note 8 it’s known as the Blue Light Filter and you can find a shortcut for it in the Quick Settings (pull down twice on the notification bar).

While you could always set it manually using the Quick Settings tile, there are additional settings that allow you to schedule times you’d like it to activate automatically (either at a specific time or at sundown). You can even adjust the intensity of the filter to better match the ambient lighting around you.

  1. Open the Settings app
  2. Tap on Display
  3. Select Blue light filter
  4. Select Turn on as scheduled
  5. Choose either Sunset to sunrise (need location permission), or create your own Custom schedule

Keep an eye on notifications without the display

The Galaxy Note 8 is outfitted with a notification light that glows whenever you receive a new notification, battery is low, or when you’re recording sound. Should the Galaxy Note 8’s LED notification light become a nuisance, you can easily turn it off by following these steps:

  1. Open the Settings app
  2. Select Display
  3. Tap LED indicator > OFF

Search everything with Finder

With so much information accessible on your smartphone, sometimes the hardest part is figuring out where to look. Whether it’s locally stored content like contacts, apps, or documents — or even something you want to find online — the first place you should look is the Finder search bar.

You can find it by swiping up or down on the home screen to open the app drawer. At the top just start typing and results will appear in real time. Everything from applications (both on your device or in the app store), calendar entries, contacts, photos, music, files, phone logs, settings — it can all be found using Finder.

Look ma’ No hands

Taking a selfie using your smartphone is always sorta tricky. Most of the time you have to over extend your arm while keeping yourself or others in the frame, then tapping the shutter button while somehow keeping a secure grip on your phone.

Thankfully Samsung has made this struggle easier on users by incorporating different ways to snap a photo while taking a selfie (selfie mode is activated by swiping up or down on the view finder).

The first is by pressing the heart rate sensor (not the fingerprint reader) on the back of the device. Since the photo is only snapped when you let go of the heart rate sensor, you can have your finger resting on it the entire time while you frame your shot, letting go to release the shutter.

The other method is by simply holding your palm up next to your face. The Galaxy Note 8 camera will recognize your palm and begin counting down to the shot. All you have to do is worry about keeping your phone steady and let the camera app handle the rest.

Zoom in with just a slide

Most smartphones aren’t equipped with optical zoom, so in the event you’d like to get closer to your subject, you’re stuck using digital zoom. It’s best to avoid using it unless absolutely necessary, but there are a few different ways to digitally zoom on the Galaxy Note 8.

First is the one-handed method and involves sliding the camera button left or right. Just make sure you don’t press it too long before sliding or you’ll take a burst shot. The second method is by using pinch-to-zoom on the viewfinder but requires the use of two hands.

Camera Modes Galore

For camera enthusiasts, the Galaxy Note 8 is outfitted with a nice variety of shooting modes to help stretch your photo creativity. From the view finder screen, all you have to do is swipe to the right to see all the modes that come pre-installed on the S8:

  • Auto – This is your standard shooting mode which chooses camera settings for you.
  • Pro – This mode gives you full control over your ISO, shutter speed, filter, auto focus, white balance, metering, and more.
  • Panorama – Takes and stitches multiple photos together to form one large panorama.
  • Selective focus – Allows you to change the focus of a photo (near or far) after the fact.
  • Slow motion – Records 240fps slow motion video at 720p.
  • Hyperlapse – Takes photos over a long period of time then combines them into a video.
  • Food – High saturation photos with radial lens blur to perfectly capture food.
  • Virtual shot – Capture a photo that allows you to move around the subject after the fact.

Download more camera modes from the Galaxy Apps store

If the above camera modes just aren’t doing it for ya, there are additional modes you can download from the Galaxy Apps store. The easiest way is simply by opening doing the following:

  1. Open the Camera app
  2. Swipe right to open the camera modes screen
  3. Tap the “+” button in the upper right corner

This will take you to the appropriate page in the Galaxy Apps store allowing you to browse and download all the shooting modes currently available for the Galaxy Note 8. There aren’t too many available right now and it’s possible more will be added later so keep checking back.

Edit the order of your camera modes

From the camera modes screen, you can edit the order/placement of shooting modes by doing the following:

  1. Pressing the 3-dot menu in the upper right corner of the display
  2. Selecting Edit
  3. While in edit mode, you can drag around the camera mode tiles to rearrange, or delete a mode you’ve downloaded from the Galaxy Apps store.
  4. Once you’re finished editing the placement, tap Done to save.

Create shortcuts to your favorite camera modes on your home screen

You can also create shortcuts to your favorite shooting modes on your home screen by pressing the 3-dot menu in the upper right corner and selecting Add shortcut to Home screen. From there you can move the shortcuts around like any other app icon, placing it however you like or inside a folder.

Get started with Bixby…

Bixby is Samsung’s new virtual assistant for the Galaxy S8, S8 Plus and Galaxy Note 8. At launch, it’s basically a Samsung version of Google Now, plus some camera features. The main feature is a page that displays cards with useful information. Even if you don’t want to use Bixby, it’s worth a shot to check it out.

  1. Press the Bixby button on the left side of the device
  2. Tap Start
  3. Agree to the conditions

Now you’ll want to customize what Bixby can show

  1. Tap the Settings icon in the upper right
  2. Select Hello Bixby cards
  3. Toggle all the content you want to see
  4. Go back, select Hello Bixby on Lock screen
  5. Toggle all the content you want to see on the lock screen

Bixby can be accessed from anywhere with the physical button or by swiping to the left on Samsung’s launcher.

Another way to use Bixby is a feature called “Bixby Vision.” This uses the camera to scan items and find relevant information.

  1. Open the Camera
  2. Tap the eye icon
  3. Point your camera at something
  4. Bixby will scan and show results, such as images and shopping

…Or get rid of Bixby altogether

However, Samsung has recently released an update which makes it possible to completely disable Bixby. If you are looking to go that route, you can follow these steps:

Disable via Bixby App

  1. Press the Bixby button
  2. Select the “Gear” icon at the top right-hand corner
  3. Toggle the switch for Bixby Key

Diable via Bixby Settings

  1. Press the Bixby button
  2. Select the three-dot menu button in the top right-hand corner
  3. Select Settings
  4. Scroll down and tap “Bixby key”
  5. Select “Don’t open anything”
  6. Profit!

Have Bixby help you shop with your camera

Another handy feature found in the Camera app is Bixby Vision. Once activated, you simply point your camera at an object or location and Bixby will start searching for products online, discover new places nearby, or even translate foreign text.

The Bixby Vision button is located right below the viewfinder and once you’ve scanned something, you can adjust the scan area and then you’re presented with 2 options: Image or Shopping. Tapping Image will pull up search results from images found online, while Shopping will identify objects and pull up shopping results on Amazon.

In the upper right corner, tapping the 3-dot menu will allow you to access Bixby Vision’s:

  • History — Scanned results are saved and sorted by shopping, places, images, text, wines, and QR code.
  • Settings — Configure what you’d like to show up in search results (shopping, images, places, wine) and additional options like the ability to save captured images.

You can also use Bixby Vision for photos you’ve already taken. Just open the Gallery app and when viewing a photo, tap the Bixby Vision button in the lower left. A glowing circle will appear in the middle of the photo and tapping it will take you to the scanning screen (with Image and Shopping options).

Use Bixby with just your voice

Hello Bixby is Samsung’s personal assistant app. It’s accessible either by swiping right on the home screen, or by pressing the dedicated Bixby button located beneath the physical volume rocker.

It shares many similarities with Google Now, giving you a quick list of the day’s events, news articles, weather, daily fitness activity, as well as reminders. There’s a handful of apps that support Bixby which include a variety of social networks and services.

You can configure which Bixby cards show up inside the app, the lockscreen, as well view the full list of supported apps by opening Bixby on your device and tapping the settings (gear icon) in the upper right corner.

Don’t worry, Google Assistant is still here

Samsung is really trying to push its users into using the Bixby digital assistant, but the rest of us still want to use Google Assistant due to its ease of use and the fact that it is feature packed. Thankfully, Samsung allows you to activate Google Assistant without messing with any settings.

In order to activate Google Assistant, press and hold the home button on the navigation bar for the 3 seconds. Then you will see the edges of the display light up and the Google Assistant prompt will appear.

Make the Edge Panels yours

The Galaxy Note 8’s curved displays means you get to enjoy Samsung’s new Edge Screen features. There’s a whole lot you can do with it

Shortcuts to apps & people

  1. Swipe the Edge screen handle from the edge of the screen
  2. Swipe left or right on the panel until you see People or Apps
  3. Tap the + icon to add an app or contact
  4. To remove an app or contact, long press and drag to the trash
  5. Drag the apps or contacts to re-order the list

You can add more panels by going to Settings > Display > Edge screen. Select Edge panels.

Switch up the Edge Handle position

By default, the Edge Panel handle is placed on the right-hand side of your Galaxy Note 8, but if that area is an inconvenient position, Samsung has included the ability to switch things up.

  1. Swipe the Edge screen handle from the edge of the screen
  2. Tap the Gear icon at the bottom of the screen
  3. Tap the overflow menu in the top right-hand corner
  4. Select Handle settings
  5. Adjust the positioning

While you’re tinkering with the position of the Edge Panel handle, it is highlighted in blue so that you will get a better idea of where the Edge Handle will be placed. From this screen, you can change the position (left or right), Size, Transparency, and whether the Note 8 will vibrate when you activate the Edge Panel.

Edge Display Notification Lights

You can have the edge of the display light up when you receive notifications.

  1. Go to Settings > Display
  2. Select Edge screen
  3. Toggle on Edge lighting
  4. Tap Edge lighting and choose when to show it

Split Screen App Pair

One of the key features of the Galaxy Note 8 is the ability to quickly launch two apps in split-screen mode at the same time. This feature is called “App Pair” and can easily be accessed by using the “Apps Edge” panel. In order to create an App Pair, follow these steps:

  1. Swipe on the Edge Screen Handle to open the Edge Panels
  2. Swipe until you see the Apps Edge panel
  3. Tap the “+” button
  4. Select Create App Pair in the top right-hand corner
  5. Scroll and select which apps you want to use in the App Pair
  6. Profit

It’s important to note that when you’re creating an App Pair, the first application selected will appear at the top of the split-window setup, with the second application appearing on the bottom. If you find the two applications but need to switch the orientation, there’s a “Switch” button in the App Pair settings which will switch the orientation without needing to delete the App Pair altogether.

Block accidental touches

Considering the fact that the Galaxy Note 8 has a massive bezel-less 6.3-inch display, there is a chance that you will accidentally touch the display when either putting it in your pocket, or throughout regular usage. Samsung has included a feature that helps to alleviate these accidental touches within the software.

In order to activate this feature, follow these steps:

  1. Open Settings
  2. Select Display
  3. Swipe down and toggle Block accidental touches

Once enabled, you shouldn’t have to worry about accidentally opening the camera app while your device is in your pocket, removing any unnecessary pocket shots.

Use multiple Bluetooth speakers at once

The Galaxy S8 was the first Android device to launch with Bluetooth 5.0. And now the Galaxy Note 8 also gets to enjoy certain benefits like the ability to connect to two different Bluetooth audio devices using a feature called Dual Audio. Here’s how you turn it on:

  1. Go to Settings > Connections
  2. Make sure Bluetooth is turn on
  3. Tap the three-dot menu icon
  4. Select Dual Audio
  5. Toggle it on

Once enabled, you’ll be able to pair 2 Bluetooth audio devices to the Galaxy Note 8, whether it’s headphones or Bluetooth speakers. Just make sure you keep the devices within a reasonable range or the music won’t sync up properly between the devices.

Let Samsung improve your audio experience

When you’re listening to music, podcasts, or a video, the Galaxy Note 8 can automatically adapt to your surroundings so that you will receive the best sound experience possible. This feature is called “Adapt Sound” and can be activated in the Settings.

  1. Open Settings
  2. Select Sounds and Vibration
  3. Scroll down and select Sound quality and effects
  4. Select Adapt Sound

From here, you will be presented with three different presets:

  1. Optimized for people under 30
  2. Optimized for people between 30 and 60
  3. Optimized for people over 60

There is also an “Advanced” section which allows you to create a custom preset based on your current location. There are a few steps that you need to follow before the Note 8 will be able to properly change the sound optimizations:

  1. Go to a quiet place
  2. Put on your headphones and close all multimedia apps
  3. Test your hearing to find the best sound for you. Your current personalized sound data will be replaced.

Once you’ve completed those steps, tap Start and the process will begin. Throughout the testing, you will be asked to identify whether you hear various beeps in your left and right ears. There are prompts on the screen asking you Yes or No, and answering them will help the device fine tune the sound for your specific profile. Once completed, you will be asked which ear you usually use for phone calls, and then the new profile will be created.

Use the entire 18:9 display

Because of its unique 18:9 aspect ratio, the Galaxy Note 8’s display is taller than most other phones. While most Android apps scale properly and use the full display, others will put black bars along the top and bottom to accommodate.

For these apps it’s possible to force full-screen mode use up all the phone’s extra screen real estate. Here’s how:

  1. Go to Settings > Display
  2. Select Full screen apps
  3. Toggle the apps you want to be full screen

Back everything up with Samsung Cloud

The safest place to store your photos and videos isn’t on your device, but in the cloud. In the event your phone gets lost, stolen, or it’s finally time to upgrade to something new, it’s nice to have the peace of mind of knowing all your memories are backed up and in the cloud.

Samsung actually provides Galaxy Note 8 users with 15GB of free cloud storage, perfect for backing up and syncing your photos between multiple Samsung devices. Here’s how you set it all up:

  1. Open the Gallery app
  2. 3-dot menu
  3. Settings
  4. Samsung Cloud > ON

Now that Samsung Cloud has been turned on, you can further configure the way it syncs and backs up your photos/videos by tapping the Samsung Cloud (the words, not the toggle).

Here you’ll find options for syncing via WiFi (help save your cellular data plan), selecting specific albums you want to sync, freeing up phone storage by deleting photos that have already been backed up, and how much free cloud storage you have left.

Enable NFC for mobile payments and more

In order to use the likes of Android Pay or Samsung Pay, you’ll need to make sure that NFC is enabled on your Galaxy Note 8. When the device arrives in your hands, NFC is enabled by default, but if for any reason something happens and NFC gets disabled, there are a few ways that you can re-enable it.

The first method is extremely easy, and only requires you to:

  1. Swipe down to reveal the Quick Settings panel
  2. Swipe to the second page
  3. Tap “NFC”

The second method requires you to dive into the Settings app on the phone:

  1. Open the Settings app
  2. Select Connections
  3. Toggle the switch for NFC and payment

Use Samsung Pay for mobile payments

By far one of the best features available on the Galaxy Note 8 is Samsung Pay. It’s the best way to handle mobile payments as it’s the only technology that’s compatible with regular ‘ol credit card machines.

You don’t have worry about the terminal being “Samsung Pay ready.” Just tap your phone where you’d normally swipe and the funds will be taken out of the card of your choice. Here’s how to set it all up:

  1. Open the Samsung Pay app
  2. Set up an account
  3. Tap USE FINGERPRINT to add security, or use a PIN
  4. Add a supported credit/debit card

Ultimate Gaming Experience

Game Tools is a set of advanced options for use while playing games on the Galaxy Note 8. If you do a lot of mobile gaming, you will want to check out the Game Tools.

  1. Open a game
  2. If this is the first time, you’ll be asked to enable Game Tools
  3. The bottom right button lock and dim the screen, so you can’t accidentally touch it
  4. The bottom left button brings up more tools
    1. Full-screen mode
    2. No alerts during game
    3. Hard press button lock
    4. Edge touch lock
  5. Game Tools also allows you to record your gameplay

Turn the Note 8 up to 11

The Galaxy Note 8 has built-in “Performance modes” that allow you to optimize the performance to best fit your usage.

  1. Go to Settings > Device maintenance
  2. Select Performance mode
  3. Performance mode has 4 modes:
    • Optimized – Balance battery and screen resolution
    • Game – Makes games run more smoothly
    • Entertainment – High-quality sound and enhanced images
    • High performance – maximum settings for everything
  4. Tap one of the modes

Make sure your battery lasts all day and night

Like a lot of devices these days, the Galaxy Note 8 has its own battery saver mode to keep your device sipping power. There are actually a few modes to keep your phone juiced up and while you shouldn’t be using any of these modes all the time, they could come in handy when you know you’re going to be away from the outlet for an unusually long length of time.

  1. Go to Settings > Device maintenance
  2. Tap Battery
  3. Choose a battery saver mode:
    • Mid – decreases brightness, limits performance, reduces screen resolution
    • Max – Limits apps, decreases brightness, limits performance, reduces screen resolution
  4. Tap Apply

Keep the display on while you’re reading

Samsung’s “Smart Stay” feature has been around for years now, and it’s an incredibly convenient way to keep your display from going dark while you’re looking at it. Whether you’re reading a web page, book, or anything else, you can still find the feature buried inside the Settings. It’s worth noting that the feature works best in well-lit conditions.

  1. Go to Settings > Advanced features
  2. Toggle on Smart stay

Quickly switch between front and rear cameras

When you’re trying to capture images quickly, you’ll need to know how to rapidly switch between the front-facing and rear-facing camera lenses. As with the case with many other Android devices, you can quickly switch between the front and rear-facing cameras by simply swiping either up or down on the viewfinder.

Of course, if you aren’t in as much of a rush, there’s a button in the top left-hand corner of the camera app which will switch the lenses for you.

Use the entire display as a Viewfinder

What’s the point in having a beautiful 6.3-inch display if you can’t take full advantage of it when taking pictures? Well, Samsung has included the ability to turn the display into a full-screen viewfinder, and it’s rather easy to do so.

  1. Open the Camera app
  2. Tap the Strech Display icon at the top of the display

Now, if you plan on using this on a regular basis, you’ll need to press this button every time you want to shoot pictures and videos using all of the display.

Use both Galaxy Note 8 camera lenses

For the first time in a Samsung device, we now have dual-cameras. This is a trend that has been making its way to more devices and the Galaxy Note 8 is now joining the fun. The primary sensor is a wide-angle lens, but there is a telephoto secondary lens which allows you to take “Live Focus” images. This secondary lens acts a 2X optical zoom, and it’s really easy to activate this.

Simply open the Camera app and select “Live Focus” which is placed directly above the shutter button. When selected you may be prompted to stand at least 4 feet away from the subject, in order to get the optimal effect. Once your distance is corrected, you can use the slider on the bottom of the viewfinder to adjust the bokeh effect around the subject in real-time.

Once the image has been taken, you can then head into the Gallery application and adjust the bokeh effect with ease, giving you the opportunity to make the subject of your image really pop.

Spruce up those random pictures

One of the most popular features of apps like Snapchat and Instagram are the various filters that you can use to make funny videos or pictures. These can add different masks to yourself or your friends, practically ensuring a laugh from whomever you are sending the pictures to.

Well, Samsung decided to build some fun filters directly into the camera app on the Note 8, and these can be accessed by tapping the Stickers button in the camera application. From there, you’ll be able to pick some various funny filters, or even some other overlays such as “Have a Nice Day” or “Happy Anniversary” to really drive the point home and let someone know you care.

There is also the ability to download more stickers and you can do so by either tapping the “+” button in the Stickers section, or by heading over to the Galaxy Apps store.

Shoot the crispiest videos

By default, the Galaxy Note 8 Camera app shoots video in 1080p 30fps. While that may be fine for the vast majority of folks, the camera is more than capable of shooting in UHD. The quality is stunning and it’s possible to grab screenshots from these videos that rival photos taken with other devices.

To switch over to 4K video recording, just follow these steps:

  1. Open the Camera app
  2. Tap on the settings button (gear icon)
  3. Select Video size
  4. Choose UHD 3840×2160

Keep in mind that the following features can’t be used while recording in UHD, QHD, or FHD (60fps):

  • HDR (rich tone)
  • Video effects
  • Tracking AF

Take pictures in both RAW and JPEG

It’s possible to save a compressed JPEG and RAW copy of each picture you take while in Pro mode. To enable this feature, just follow these steps:

  1. Open the Camera app
  2. Tap on the settings button (gear icon)
  3. Tap on Picture size
  4. Enable Save RAW and JPEG files

Motion Photos

The Galaxy Note 8 has the ability to capture photos with short video clips attached to them. They’re called Motion Photos and they’re Samsung’s equivalent to Live Photos on the iPhone.

If you try to share Motion Photos — whether inside messaging or social apps — they’ll only appear as a standard still photo (JPG). But if you want to extract the video file from Motion Photos and share it, here’s how:

  1. Enable Motion photos in your Camera app settings
  2. Take a Motion photo by pressing the shutter button (same as a regular photo)
  3. Open the Gallery app and open/view your Motion Photo
  4. Tap on the Play Motion Photo button to begin playing the attached video clip
  5. While the video clip is playing, tap anywhere on screen to pause it
  6. Tap on the 3-dot menu in the upper right corner
  7. Select “Save video

The video will then be placed next to the photo it was extracted from and you can view/share it from inside your Gallery app.

Automatically save Photos to SD Card

While the Galaxy Note 8 comes equipped with 64GB of storage, we’ve already mentioned that there is a microSD card slot for you expand your storage up to 256GB. This makes life easy for those who take a lot of pictures and videos, as you can save that content to the microSD card, leaving your internal storage untouched. Here’s how you can change the default save location:

  1. Open Camera
  2. Tap the Gear icon in the top right-hand corner
  3. Scroll down and select Storage Location
  4. Select SD card

Ultimate Desktop Experience

The Galaxy Note 8 has the ability to transform into a full desktop interface, but you’ll need a special accessory called Samsung DeX to activate it.

Once inserted into the dock, Dex outfits the Galaxy Note 8 with full-sized USB ports to connect a keyboard and mouse, along with HMDI out to display to a monitor. Once hooked up, you will have access to all your normal apps and can review documents or check your notifications from the comfort of a desktop interface.

If it sounds like something you’d be interested in, you can find Samsung DeX via the Amazon link below where it’s currently priced at $149.99.

Buy the Samsung DeX

Write notes on lock screen

Since the Galaxy Note 8 includes its signature S Pen, there will definitely be an opportunity to jot down a quick note for future reference. Thankfully, Samsung has included the ability to write notes on the lock screen, and you can even pin the note to your display so it’s there until you’re ready for it.

In order to do so, ensure that your display is off, then simply unsheath the S Pen and then begin writing away. Samsung claims that you can take up to 100 lock screen notes, and these will be saved in the Samsung Notes application for future reference.

Keep your S Pen shortcuts a tap away

Air Command is the hub for the S Pen when you’re using your Galaxy Note 8. This control center has numerous shortcuts, including basic ones such as Create Note, Smart Select, Screen Write, Live Message and more.

This is a rotating carousel of shortcuts, and you can add more shortcuts by tapping the “+” button, and you can even add your favorite apps to Air Command if you so choose to.

Zoom in with the S Pen

For those who have a difficult time seeing things, Samsung has included a zoom option when using the S Pen. In order to activate this, take out the S Pen, open Air Command, then select “Magnify“.

Once enabled, you will see a square on your display, allowing you to easily zoom in on whatever content which is being displayed on your screen.

Get a preview without opening anything

Since the Galaxy Note 8 features an amazing camera setup, you’ll be taking loads and loads of pictures. However, when trying to go back and view these images, it can be a bit cumbersome to find the exact image you’re looking for.

With the help of the S Pen, you can easily preview any images on your gallery, before deciding whether you have found the correct one and are ready to get into the image editing process.

Make sure your S Pen is still with you

From time to time, there’s a chance that you’ll accidentally leave your S Pen behind. Now, you can get a replacement S Pen from Samsung, but it’s unlikely that you’re going to want to spend $50 on one.

This is especially true considering the steps that Samsung has taken to help ensure that your S Pen is never left behind. There’s actually an alarm that can be activated which will go off if you leave your S Pen behind. Here are the steps to activate the S Pen Alarm:

  1. Open Settings
  2. Select Advanced Features
  3. Select S Pen
  4. Toggle Alarm

Translate languages with ease

One of the coolest features introduced with the Galaxy Note 7 was the ability for the S Pen to easily translate any text on your device, which would definitely come in handy if you were traveling abroad. The Galaxy Note 8 also includes this functionality, and you can easily start translating by unsheathing your S Pen, tapping Translate in Air Command, and hovering the S Pen above the text that you want to translate.

Live Messages

One of the newest features to debut on the Galaxy Note 8 is something called Live Messages. Using the S Pen, users can draw or write out a message and send the entire animation as a GIF to a friend or loved one. 

To activate Live Messages, it’s pretty straightforward. Just take the S Pen out from the phone and tap the grey pen icon that pops up. 

From there select Live Messages and begin drawing on the blank area to record the animation. You only have a set amount of time and you’ll see a progress bar filling up the more you draw. 

You can change the pen tipsthickness, and color by tapping the options on the upper left. You can also change the background color or even draw on top of a photo by tapping on BACKGROUND button. There you’ll be presented with various color options and the most recent photos saved to your device. 

Because file sizes can also get pretty big (depending on how long it takes you to draw the message), you may want to consider changing the size from high quality (600×600) to standard quality (450×450). 

Tap Done and the animation will begin processing. Once it hits 100% you can then share the animation to any app you like or tap outside the box to skip this step where the Live Message will automatically be saved to your phone and viewable inside the Gallery app as a GIF.

Keep an app easily accessible

There are so many different functionalities built into the Galaxy Note 8 and its S Pen to help make sure that you’re being as productive as possible. Another such feature is called “Glance“. This can be found in the Air Command menu, and will place whatever app you’re currently looking at in the bottom right-hand corner of the display, while you look at another application.

In order to bring up the minimized application, simply hover the S Pen over the box in the bottom of the display, and it will reappear, allowing you to continue interacting if need be. Furthermore, when you need to switch back, just move the S Pen away from the display and the app will become minimized again. To close the “Glance” of an app, just hold and drag the app to the trash can at the top of the screen.

Get rid of the worn out S Pen tips

If you’re using the S Pen on a regular basis, chances are that you’ll end up wearing out the tip eventually and will need to replace the tip. In every box, Samsung includes a few replacement tips, along with the tip removal tool.

Removing the old tip is rather easy, as you only need to line up the clamp from the removal tool with the tip, and pull it out. Once the old one is out, just select which tip you want to replace it with, and insert it into the end of the S Pen.

Best apps and Games

While the Galaxy Note 8 is absolutely amazing, it’s not much without some great apps and games. 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.

Note 8 Forums

These tips will get your feet wet, but this is only the beginning of what the Galaxy Note 8 can do. For even more content, we’ve got the Samsung Galaxy Note 8 Forum at AndroidForums.com! All you have to do is download the Forums app and you’ll automatically be added to the correct forum. You’ll 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:

http://phandroid.com/2017/10/24/samsung-galaxy-note-8-tips-and-tricks/

4 Reasons not to buy an Android TV with Chromecast built-in

There’s never been a more varied selection of TVs to purchase than now. They come in all shapes, sizes, resolutions, and prices, and except for a niche bunch, most of the TVs being pushed today come with smart features built-in. That includes those which have Android TV and Chromecast Built-in.

While smart TV makers are keen on wowing you with the promise of “Netflix and Chill” at the click of a button, we’re going to buck the trend and take the stance that you shouldn’t buy an Android TV with Chromecast built-in, or any other smart TV for that matter, and instead opt for a set-top-box or dongle. Here’s why.

Slow Updates

For starters, TV makers are notorious for delivering updates at a snail’s pace. Take Chromecast, for instance — the dongle can often be multiple versions ahead of a TV with Chromecast built-in thanks to it receiving updates straight from Google. Good luck getting Sony to match that pace.

You may not think this is a big deal, but a one version discrepancy could be the difference between getting awesome new features like voice casting HBO content to your TV or being able to use video apps which only support the latest versions of Chromecast. That is simply no good.

Lack of New Features

Piggybacking on the point made above, what happens when Chromecast undergoes a major transformation and your TV manufacturer has already put it to rest? Or what if Google comes out with something that has a better WiFi radio, something with more RAM, or any other advancements that could be made in hardware?

Well, you won’t be getting that new goodness without buying a brand new TV. For instance, some 4K smart TVs with Chromecast built-in only support casting at resolutions up to 1080p, and that restriction is likely due to lack of necessary hardware. With a Chromecast dongle or an Android TV box, you can sell it and replace it with the 4K-capable model, a much cheaper proposition.

Limited Choice

If you buy a smart TV with Chromecast built-in and nothing else, you’re limited to what Google and the manufacturers want to limit you to, whether it be due to those slow updates or simple business decisions.

Decide you don’t care for Chromecast any longer? Want something with Amazon Alexa on it, something with a gaming focus like the SHIELD TV or even a custom Raspberry Pi with a Kodi installation? Simply had enough with a certain brand and want to try something different? Those are all possibilities when you separate the brains from the display.

Smart TVs Cost More

Anyone doing some light TV shopping will immediately pick up on the trend that smarter TVs are pricier TVs. In some cases, the price difference isn’t so massive as to induce questions about price gouging, and in fact seem to accurately reflect the cost of the components needed to add those smart features. In other cases — mainly at the high-end point of the market — you can see increases of $100 or more for smart features.

Take these 2 TVs from Best Buy, for example. There is virtually nothing separating the two from a size, panel, and resolution standpoint, but because one is a Smart TV it’ll cost you $20 more. You could take that $20 in savings and put it toward a Chromecast, an actual Roku stick, or any other similar device and have the flexibility to upgrade or change it later on.

And as we mentioned before, good luck finding a non-smart version of a TV at all these days.

Go External, Always

Don’t get us wrong — we’re not saying you should avoid smart TVs like the plague. Some of you likely already have one and aren’t willing to part ways with it even if you aren’t totally happy with the user experience, and some of you who already have TVs might feel pressured to get with the times, or perhaps want a new 4K panel to upgrade from 1080p but can’t find one without smart features. That’s all fine.

The beauty in either situation is that both a basic TV and a smart TV can be upgraded simply by plugging something new into your HDMI port. It adds another box or dongle and lord knows we have enough of those already, but the benefits of choice far outweigh the convenience of having all that stuff baked in. Be sure to keep these points in mind this holiday season if you’re in the market for a new TV.

http://phandroid.com/2017/10/20/reasons-why-not-to-buy-smart-tv-chromecast-built-in/

Petnet SmartFeeder Review

We live in a connected world. You can use a TV to turn on the lights and you can use a speaker to turn on the TV. Everything is connected to the internet and talking to the other gadgets in your home. Pets live in this connected world, too. There are a plethora of strange and useful smart devices for your pet. One of the most practical is a smart feeder.

The Petnet SmartFeeder is an automated feeder that connects to an app on your phone. There are plenty of “dumb” automatic pet feeders on the market, but the SmartFeeder adds a bunch of extra features. For around $120, it better be pretty dang smart. Let’s take a look at this device and help you decide if you need a SmartFeeder for your pet.

I’ve been testing out the Petnet SmartFeeder for a little over a month now. We have been using it for our cat, Grimm. He’s a spoiled cat that needs to be fed three times a day or he’ll get cranky. One of those times happens to be around 5:00 AM every morning. We’ve used a couple of different automatic feeders in the past, which has worked out pretty well.

At its core, the SmartFeeder performs the same function as an automatic feeder. It dispenses a desired amount of food at specific times. Where the SmartFeeder sets itself apart is the free smartphone app that gives you remote control and a bunch of handy information. But before any of that works, you have to set up the SmartFeeder.

Set Up

The SmartFeeder consists of a hopper for food, a bowl, and the dispenser. You can also get a “ramp” that helps the food fall out of the dispenser. All of these part interlock and connect easily. Once assembled, you’ll need to install the Petnet app. The app will guide you through the process of connecting to the feeder. After a few attempts, we were able to get the app connected successfully.

In the app, you can create a profile for your pet. The profile consists of age, weight, and activity level. You will also need to enter some information about your pet’s food. Pretty much all pet food brands are included in the app. Our cat has a special food for urinary health and we were able to find it in the app. The app will give you a recommendation for feeding, but it’s basically the same info you’d find on the food’s packaging.

Pros

The main feature of the SmartFeeder is the ability to set up a custom feeding schedule. Setting up a feeding schedule on the app is so much easier than on the “dumb” feeders. All you do is select the feeding times and portion size. The great thing about a smart feeder is you can make the schedule as unique as your pet. You could feed your pet at five different times with five different portion sizes if you wanted. Oh, and if you want to feed your pet the old fashioned way, there’s a button on the front for manual feeding. You can choose the default amount in the app.

If you’re not home to hear the food trickle into the metal bowl, you can get notifications for every feeding. It doesn’t tell you if your pet has visited the bowl or eaten the food, but the notification is a nice reassurance that the feeder is working. The feeder can also warn you about things like if it missed a feeding or the hopper is getting low on food. All of this connectivity is what makes the SmartFeeder smarter than your average feeder.

The schedule features have worked perfectly in our testing. We have taken a couple of weekend trips away from home since using the SmartFeeder. It’s super convenient to know that your pet is getting fed. We never had issues with the “dumb” feeders, but they could stop working and you’d have no idea. The SmartFeeder gives you peace of mind.

Cons

There are a couple of downsides to the SmartFeeder. The bowl is really only big enough for one pet and buying multiple SmartFeeders would be pretty pricey. The SmartFeeder does have a battery that can be recharged via micro USB, but it doesn’t last very long. You will definitely need to put this near an outlet, though the included cable is 6.5-feet long. One issue we noticed is the portion sizes aren’t entirely accurate. It seemed to be giving more food than it should, but that was easy to fix by adjusting the portion size. Also, the manual feed button has a light that can’t be turned off. Kinda annoying if you have the feeder in your bedroom.

Conclusion

An automatic feeder is an awesome thing to have, especially for cats. Even a simple “dumb” feeder can make your life easier. The SmartFeeder has a lot of great features that put it above a “dumb” feeder. It’s amazing how a simple notification that your pet was fed can make you feel more at ease.

The big question is whether the SmartFeeder is worth the hefty price tag. You’re looking at $120. I think if you’re someone that leaves their pet home alone a lot, the SmartFeeder can add peace of mind. You’ll have to decide how much that peace of mind is worth to you.

There’s also the convenience factor. Setting up the schedules is infinitely easier to do on the app. Getting a reminder to refill the food is also a big help. You probably already spoil your pet. The SmartFeeder is a way to spoil yourself. You probably don’t need it, but it will surely make your life a lot easier. Oh, and your pet will love the new magical box that gives out food.

buy from best buy
buy from petnet

http://phandroid.com/2017/10/18/petnet-smartfeeder-review/

ZTE Axon M First Impressions

ZTE pulled out all the stops at an event in Brooklyn, New York as the company unveiled its most “revolutionary” device to date with the ZTE Axon M. Instead of seeing just a single rectangular slab, we now get TWO rectangular slabs, which are connected by a rather strong hinge.

We were lucky enough to attend the event in person, and are back to share some of our first impressions of the device.

This is just the beginning

We would be remiss to not get this started off by talking about the dual 5.2-inch displays found on the Axon M. It really is an interesting design, and it doesn’t really take shape until you have the Axon M in your hands.

The displays fold away from one another, making it possible to use the Axon M traditionally, or fold the display back out to create a 6.8-inch tablet. This tablet allows you to become a multi-tasking and productivity machine if that’s your thing.

We have been hearing that Samsung and Lenovo have been working on similar options, but ZTE was the first to produce a device that was more than just a prototype. Hat’s off to ZTE for that, and I expect that we’ll begin seeing more device launched next year that will fall into this newly-created niche market.

Modes for Days

With these dual displays, ZTE has included a way to easily activate and switch between the various modes on the Axon M, of which, there are four – Traditional, Dual Mode, Extended Mode, and Mirror Mode. These modes make it possible to interact with the Axon M in just about every way imaginable, allowing users to perform any task that they need to complete.

The implementation seems to be on point, at least from my brief time with the device. Switching modes was easy and seamless, while applications adapted to the secondary display rather nicely. ZTE stated that more than just a few apps were already capable of taking advantage of both displays, but it’s likely that we’ll see more apps updated with support once the Axon M is actually released.

It’s got a little heft

While Samsung and other OEM’s are fighting over creating the most svelte device, ZTE took a different route with the Axon M. The device weighs in at 8.11oz or 230 grams, which is much heavier than most other smartphones on the market. This increase in weight is due to the secondary display, but when you actually hold the Axon M, you will definitely notice a difference.

You can tell that ZTE didn’t skimp on the materials used to create the Axon M, as the body of the device is made from aluminum. The texture makes it rather nice to hold in the hand as you don’t have to worry about it slipping out of your hands by accident.

The problem will arise when you’re using the Axon M in Traditional mode. Since the displays fold away from one another, the back of the device will be a glass display. This will become the home for many fingerprints, so you’ll likely want to keep a microfiber cloth handy, or snag a screen protector once those are made available.

The camera is a bit odd

When you look around the Axon M, there are a few things you’re going to notice right off the bat. The first of which is likely the fact that there is only one camera sensor which is placed on the display situated to the right of the device.

This camera measures in at 20MP and the module includes a rather large LED flash positioned to the right of the camera sensor. This means that you’ll be using the same camera for your standard images as you will for those selfies. When toying around with the Axon M, it took a little bit longer to figure out how to situate the device to ensure that I was taking a picture of something in front of me.

Once you get the hang of it, I’m sure everything will be fine, but it’s definitely a bit cumbersome at first and something to keep in mind once the Axon M hits storefronts.

There’s still a fingerprint scanner

Previously I mentioned that there are a few things that you would notice right off the bat about the Axon M with the camera being the first. The second item would be the appearance of no fingerprint scanner, which would absolutely be devasting to a device launched in 2017.

I must admit, that it took me quite awhile to figure it out, but the Axon M does include a fingerprint scanner. Considering how annoying it would be to unfold the device every time you wanted to unlock, ZTE opted to embed the fingerprint scanner into the power button, versus using a separate sensor placed anywhere else on the device.

When the Axon M is folded into the Traditional position, the fingerprint scanner can be found on the left-hand side placed below the volume rocker and SIM card slot. This is the obvious and most convenient place for the fingerprint scanner without adding another sensor to either of the dual displays.

What about the specs?

This is a topic that I’m still on the fence about. On one hand, the LG G6 is still one of my favorite devices of 2017, but features a spec-sheet of something we would have seen last year. It seems that ZTE also went this route with the Axon M as it is powered by the Snapdragon 821 SoC, 4GB of RAM, and 64GB of expandable storage.

Sure, the Snapdragon 821 is still very capable even today, but with the Snapdragon 835 readily available and being used in many 2017 flagships, this move came across as a bit confusing. This might just be a case of ZTE spending more time on the hardware design and not caring about including the latest Qualcomm SoC, but it could have something to do with pricing as well.

One more thing to make note of regarding the Axon M is that this device will be shipping later this year with Android Nougat. That’s right, Android Oreo will not be available on the Axon M at launch. During the press event, ZTE claimed that Oreo will be released “in the future”, but since the final build has been out for a few months, it’s a bit unnerving to see ZTE behind the 8-ball here.

What does this mean for the industry?

As I mentioned above, Lenovo and Samsung have been working on foldable displays on devices, and we aren’t that far away from seeing what’s to come. Does this mean that the Axon M will usher in a new wave of devices, much like the Xiaomi Mi Mix did for bezel-less designs? I’m not so sure.

I’m 100% positive that we will see more devices like the Axon M launched in the next year or so, but I don’t necessarily believe this is the new way that everyone will interact with their devices. Instead, these flexible/foldable displays will arrive on the market, but will only appeal to a minor portion of the public.

More than a few times during yesterday’s event, I heard the following: “This is cool, but I’m really excited to see what Samsung does”. And that’s an event with mostly media and press attendees and not even anyone from the general public. So maybe I’m wrong, but I think the Axon M won’t be relevant for very long.

Let us know what you think about the Axon M, and if you are interested in giving the device a whirl for yourself.

 

http://phandroid.com/2017/10/18/zte-axon-m-first-impressions/

7 Things to Love and Hate about the new ZTE Axon M

Yesterday, ZTE took to the stage to introduce a brand-new “revolutionary” smartphone with the ZTE Axon M. What makes this device so special isn’t what we’ve seen across other devices in 2017. Instead of joining the bezel-less movement, the Axon M is actually a foldable smartphone with dual 5.2-inch displays.

Now, we’re going to take a look at a few reasons why you should love (or hate) the ZTE Axon M.

LOVE: Dual Displays

This is something that we’ve been expecting from OEM’s as smartphone design has become somewhat stagnant. I mean, you can only redesign the square so many times while still calling it a square.

While everyone else has been focused on creating slimmer bezels, the Axon M decides to ignore those complaints and pack dual 5.2-inch displays into the device. This allows you to be more productive, even if you’re just lounging around the house watching some videos.

These displays aren’t the best in the world, but they should be more than adequate for media consumption and some fun interesting gameplay. As for those displays, these both feature a resolution of 1920 x 1080, and in my brief time with the Axon M, there was nothing negative to really point out.

HATE: 2016 Specs

While many dead-panned the LG G6 for being powered by 2016 flagship specs, there was an asterisk attached to the device. It was pushed early to beat the rush of the Galaxy S8 lineup, and there were many reports that Samsung was actually hoarding the Snapdragon 835 which has come to power many 2017 flagships.

Now, if we dead-panned a device that launched way back in March, but thought differently about the Axon M, how would that make you feel? Sure, the Snapdragon 821 is still adequate, but it’s already dated considering the SD835 has been out all year and the SD836 is around the corner (presumably to launch with the OnePlus 6).

I don’t have an answer as to why ZTE opted to not use the SD835 with the Axon M, but it could prove to be a costly move. Especially for a device designed to be so productivity focused.

LOVE: Productivity Powerhouse

Speaking of productivity, the Axon M will help you in so many more ways if you’re really trying to get some work done. The dual display panels allow you to use the phone as you normally would, but will fold out to bring you a display measuring in around 6.8-inches.

Plus, with the various Axon M modes, you can get the device working in ways that were convoluted and annoyingly unnecessary. Obviously, we’ve had split-window mode on devices for the last few years, but the Axon M takes that to the next level.

You can run two apps simultaneously (i.e. Twitter and YouTube), or you can even run the same instance of an app side-by-side. OR, you could use the Axon M to play your buddy in a game of chess while you’re sitting in the living room or on the train, and each would have their own screen to play on.

HATE: Only One Camera

This one threw me off guard a bit during my hands-on time with the Axon M. The rear of the device features some ZTE and AT&T branding, but there is no camera to be found.

Instead, ZTE opted to place a single 20MP camera on the left display panel. When attempting to take pictures, the right screen will act as the viewfinder, and the secondary display panel will be turned off to conserve battery.

We’ll have to see how the camera stacks up once our review unit arrives, but first impressions of the camera seemed to be just okay. It’s clear that the camera wasn’t the focus with the Axon M, and that may turn many potential buyers away.

LOVE: Headphone Jack

I was debating on even including this section, but considering the hubbub surrounding the omission of the 3.5mm headphone jack on the upcoming Pixel 2 lineup, I felt that it was important to mention. Along the top of the Axon M, ZTE has included the 3.5mm headphone jack, which will make many people rather happy.

There’s no super impressive DAC similar to that found in the LG V30, but at least you’ll be able to use your traditional headphones if you decide to spring for the Axon M.

HATE: Where’s the protection?

Recently, I’ve been using my phones without a case, and sticking to either a dbrand skin or nothing at all. However, with dual displays that don’t fold into one another, that raises the question of how the Axon M will be protected.

According to reps at the event, there are OEM accessories on the way, but there was no mention of a specific release date or what kind of accessories were being released. Of course, this is likely to change after ZTE delivers a specific release date for the Axon M, but I would still be very wary of keeping the device protected over the long haul.

LOVE: Fingerprint Placement

 

You wouldn’t notice it at first glance, but the ZTE Axon M does include a fingerprint scanner. Considering how annoying it would be to unfold the device every time you wanted to unlock it, ZTE opted to integrate the scanner in a spot that you wouldn’t expect – the power button.

By no means is ZTE the first to do this, but it’s a rather intuitive option for those who want to keep their device secure. It is a bit odd at first, but once you hold the Axon M in your hand, the placement makes perfect sense. There was just no point in putting the scanner on the display as it would take away from using the Axon M in any orientation.

HATE: Flagship pricing

To go along with the 2016 spec-sheet, something that must be discussed is the price. ZTE has partnered with AT&T here in the US and stated that the Axon M will be priced at either $24.17 per month or $725 outright.

What other device has left us scratching our heads when it comes to the price and has seemingly had a tough time gaining market share? The Essential Phone. The difference here is that the PH-1 embraces the bezel-less movement, includes a flagship spec-sheet, and is still having a hard time getting off the ground.

ZTE could see similar issues as the Axon M is seemingly designed for an extremely niche market, and won’t garner the same appeal of other options on the market.

Conclusion: It’s a coin flip

There’s a lot to love here with the ZTE Axon M, as it does open the doors to a new category of smartphones. However, ZTE made some odd choices when it comes to the likes of the specs, pricing, and others which may make it even more of a difficult sell when the Axon M is launched later this year.

All-in-all, in my time spent with the Axon M you can definitely see the usefulness of the dual-display setup. The problem arises with the fact that I’m not exactly sure that the Axon M will take off and begin replacing the smartphone slabs that are already present in our homes today.

Nonetheless, one thing you can’t take away from the Axon M is that this is a first for smartphones in the modern age, and may very well have just opened the floodgates for new and exciting devices to come next year.

Let us know what you think about the Axon M and whether it will be a viable option once it is released later this year.

http://phandroid.com/2017/10/18/love-hate-zte-axon-m/

LG V30 Review

The LG V Series started with the weird idea of putting a secondary display on top of the main display. It was implemented on the LG V10 and LG V20, which were good phones, but not appealing to the average consumer. The V Series has always been more for Android enthusiasts. What do you do with a phone that’s not super popular but needs a replacement? You start from scratch.

The LG V30 has almost nothing in common with the V Series phones that have come before it. The only thing remaining from the Second Screen is a floating widget. The metal back and giant chins have been replaced with glass and slim bezels. Everything that was sharp and industrial is now more premium and svelte. LG finally decided to stop playing around with gimmicks and made the best phone they possibly could. Is that enough to make the V30 matter in a world of Galaxies and Pixels? Let’s find out.

The Good

  • Premium design
  • Big display, not big body
  • Good camera
  • Great battery life
  • Quad DAC wired audio

The Bad

  • P-OLED display has issues

Read More: First Things To Do, Tips & Tricks

Display

The V30 has a 6-inch P-OLED display with 18:9 aspect ratio and 1440 x 2880 resolution. On paper, those specs sound amazing. Indeed, the size, aspect ratio, and resolution are truly great, but the P-OLED is where some issues arise. First, let’s talk about the good news.

I really like the size of the display and I have become a big fan of the 18:9 aspect ratio. For phones with software navigation bars, it just makes sense. I’m also happy LG decided to finally go with P-OLED instead of LCD. The LCD panels on previous LG phones have been really good, but I prefer the deep blacks of OLED. So let’s talk about that P-OLED display.

The display looks great most of the time. Some people might not like the colors out of the box, but you can adjust that in the settings. The issues I’ve noticed appear primarily in low-light situations with dark backgrounds. For example, when looking at an app that has a dark background (not black) in a dark room, the gradients appear blotchy. This is not something I notice all the time, but it definitely does happen.

A bigger issue for me is a lack of contrast at low brightness levels. This is particularly noticeable when watching videos in low light. Shadows tend to be overly dark, which kills a lot of the detail. I found myself having to crank up the brightness when watching videos at night.

The display issues seem to be inconsistent across devices. Some have it worse than others. The blotchiness was worse on my pre-production unit, but that didn’t stop me from using it. I don’t consider the display issues to be a deal breaker. Given the choice between the V30’s P-OLED and the G6’s LCD, I’d still take the P-OLED. Even at its best, LG is still behind Samsung when it comes to OLED displays.

Unlike the V20 and V10, the V30 only has one display. The secondary display that sat at the top of the main display has been removed. I was never a big fan of the Second Screen. It wasn’t incredibly useful and it made the phones too big. LG has spread out most of the Second Screen features into a new floating widget called the “Floating Bar” and the Always-on Display.

The Floating Bar can easily be tucked away until you need it. Just tap the little tab and the bar slides out. You can launch apps, contacts, control media, and edit screenshots with the Floating Bar tools. The Second Screen also had some handy shortcuts when the main display was off. Those can now be found on the Always-on Display. I think the Floating Bar is much better than the Second Screen. Especially because you can turn it off if you don’t want it.

http://phandroid.com/2017/10/17/lg-v30-review/

15 First things every Galaxy Note 8 owner should do

When the Samsung Galaxy Note 8 was unveiled, there was a lot of anticipation to see how the company would rebound with its 2nd-half flagship. There was much mentioned regarding how much Samsung loves its Note customers, and how it couldn’t abandon the product.

Now that the device is here and in everyone’s hands, we’re going to take a look at few of the first things everyone should do with their latest and greatest device from the Samsung camp.

Keep your precious device protected

While the Galaxy Note 8 offers one of the most gorgeous designs on the market, it still features a glass front and back sandwiched by an aluminum frame. This means that there is a decent chance of random scratches occurring and to help prevent anything bad from happening, you’re going to want to snag either a case or a skin.

Luckily, there are a plethora of options on the market, with a case available for each kind of situation. Or you could do something like rock a skin from dbrand and use a case when you’re going out and about. That way, you keep the back glass protected from anything, while also having a case to save you from any accidental drops.

Best Samsung Galaxy Note 8 Cases

Expand your storage even further

Samsung dropped the microSD card slot for a while, but they have thankfully added it back. You can easily upgrade your storage capacity without buying the expensive high storage models or a cloud storage subscription and relying on a data connection. Buy these great SD cards and pop one in.

Prepare for Disaster

It’s something nobody thinks about until it happens, but one of the worst things that could happen to you is losing your smartphone or having it stolen. In the event that your device does go missing, you need to know exactly how to recover your device or erase any personal information stored therein.

Android’s built-in feature — “Android Device Manager” — is the perfect way to track down a lost device, you just need to know where to find it.

  1. Go to google.com/android/devicemanager
  2. Select your phone from the drop-down menu.
  3. You’ll see the device on a map and a few options for finding it (ring), locking it (if it wasn’t locked already), or erasing all of its contents with a full factory reset.

Unlock with your eyes

One of the coolest features of the Galaxy Note 8 is the iris scanner. You can unlock your phone by scanning your eyeballs, just like in the movies. It actually works surprisingly well. It doesn’t work as well if you wear glasses or contacts, but it’s still very cool.

  1. Go to Settings > Lock screen and security
  2. Select Iris scanner
  3. Read instructions and tap Continue
  4. Hold your eyes in the viewfinder
  5. Tap OK when complete

Stretch your fingers to unlock

If the iris scanner isn’t your cup of tea, the Galaxy Note 8 also has a fingerprint scanner. Unfortunately, it’s not in the best spot. Samsung put it high up on the back next to the camera. The good news is it still works pretty well. Here’s how to set it up and use it.

  • Go to Settings > Lock screen and security
  • Select Fingerprint scanner
  • Tap Add fingerprint
  • Follow the instructions until 100% of your fingerprint has been scanned
  • Tap DONE
  • Toggle on Fingerprint unlock

Get rid of unnecessary apps

Carriers love to pre-load tons of useless apps on Android phones. The Galaxy Note 8 is no different. There could be over 20 apps already on your device that you have no intention of ever using. The good news is we can uninstall, or at least disable, most of the bloatware.

  • Open the app drawer to see all of your apps
  • Long-press on any app
  • Tap Select multiple items
  • Select all the apps you want to remove
  • Tap Uninstall
  • Tap OK or Disable on all the prompts

If you would like to revive a disabled app you can go to Settings > Apps. Select Disabled from the drop-down menu and tap the app you’d like to Enable.

Get the stock Google Nav Button orientation

For years, Samsung has been using a navigation button configuration that is different from every other Android phone. If you only use Samsung devices, it’s not a big deal, but it can be very annoying if you’re coming from something else. The Galaxy Note 8 has software navigation buttons, which means we can finally swap them around.

Samsung is the only Android OEM that uses the Recents, Home, Back order. Here’s how to switch it.

  1. Go to Settings > Display
  2. Select Navigation bar
  3. Tap Button layout
  4. Choose Back, Home, Recents

Take advantage of Always On Display

The always-on display gives you quick information on the display without unlocking your phone. It’s a great way to save time and get a glance at what’s going on. Samsung has included this feature on the last few Galaxy devices and it keeps getting better.

  1. Go to Settings > Lock screen and security
  2. Tap Always on display
  3. Tap the toggle to turn it on or off
  4. Select Content to show to change content
  5. Choose one of the layouts
  6. Toggle Show always to disable at certain times of day

Switch up themes for a more appealing look

Samsung’s 2017 lineup of devices come with a built-in theme picker and the Galaxy Note 8 is no different. The themes can change your wallpaper, icons, sounds, and even system apps and UI. Samsung has included a few themes that you can try out, plus a bunch more to download (Material Blue and Gray is pictured in this post).

  • Long-press on any blank space on the home screen
  • Tap Wallpapers and themes
  • Go to the Themes tab
  • Scroll down to explore themes
  • Find a theme you like, select it, and tap DOWNLOAD
  • After it installs you can tap APPLY

Set up Bixby to help you

Bixby is Samsung’s new virtual assistant for the Galaxy S8, S8 Plus and Galaxy Note 8. At launch, it’s basically a Samsung version of Google Now, plus some camera features. The main feature is a page that displays cards with useful information. Even if you don’t want to use Bixby, it’s worth a shot to check it out.

  1. Press the Bixby button on the left side of the device
  2. Tap Start
  3. Agree to the conditions

Now you’ll want to customize what Bixby can show

  1. Tap the Settings icon in the upper right
  2. Select Hello Bixby cards
  3. Toggle all the content you want to see
  4. Go back, select Hello Bixby on Lock screen
  5. Toggle all the content you want to see on the lock screen

Bixby can be accessed from anywhere with the physical button or by swiping to the left on Samsung’s launcher.

Another way to use Bixby is a feature called “Bixby Vision.” This uses the camera to scan items and find relevant information.

  1. Open the Camera
  2. Tap the eye icon
  3. Point your camera at something
  4. Bixby will scan and show results, such as images and shopping

Stop accidentally activating Bixby

However, Samsung has recently released an update which makes it possible to completely disable Bixby. If you are looking to go that route, you can follow these steps:

Disable via Bixby App

  1. Press the Bixby button
  2. Select the “Gear” icon at the top right-hand corner
  3. Toggle the switch for Bixby Key

Diable via Bixby Settings

  1. Press the Bixby button
  2. Select the three-dot menu button in the top right-hand corner
  3. Select Settings
  4. Scroll down and tap “Bixby key”
  5. Select “Don’t open anything”
  6. Profit!

Access your most-used settings with a swipe

The notification panel is full of handy toggles called “Quick Settings.” By default, Samsung has this area crammed with every toggle known to humans. It’s a bit of a mess. You should organize it and put your favorites at the top.

  1. Pull down on the notification shade
  2. Pull down again to reveal all the Quick Settings
  3. Tap the three-dot menu icon and select Button order
  4. Drag and drop icons to rearrange
  5. Move icons to the bottom to remove from Quick Settings
  6. Tap the back button when finished

Unlock the true speed of the Note 8

While the Galaxy Note 8 comes equipped with 6GB of RAM, the animations still feel a bit slower than most would like. To speed things up and make the UI feel more snappy, you can increase 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 Apps and Games

While the Galaxy Note 8 is absolutely amazing, it’s not much without some great apps and games. 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.

Get connected with the Note 8 community

These tips will get your feet wet, but this is only the beginning of what the Galaxy S8 can do. For even more content, we’ve got the Samsung Galaxy Note 8 Forum at AndroidForums.com! All you have to do is download the Forums app and you’ll automatically be added to the correct forum. You’ll 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:

http://phandroid.com/2017/10/11/samsung-galaxy-note-8-first-things/

40+ LG V30 Tips & Tricks

We’ve already shown you the first things you should do with the LG V30. Now, we can dig deep into the features. LG traditionally packs a lot of stuff into their phones. The V30 is no different, but they’ve also scaled back in some areas. It’s a nice full list of features without burring the users in choices. We’ll help you get the most out of your V30 with this list.

Read also: First Impressions, Battery life first 24 hours, and Sample Photos

How to take a screenshot on the LG V30

Taking a screenshot is a great tool for showing people what you’re looking at. It’s one of the most basic functions you can do with a phone. The V30 has a couple of different methods to perform this task.

Method 1:

  • Press and hold the power and volume down buttons simultaneously

Method 2:

  • Open the Floating Bar
  • Tap one of the Capture shortcuts
    • You can draw on the screen, record a long screen, crop, or create a GIF

For more, discuss screenshots at the LG V30 forum

Set up the fingerprint scanner

The fingerprint scanner on the back of the V30 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. The V30 has one of the fastest and most reliable sensors I’ve used. You definitely should give it a shot.

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

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

Skip the lock screen in safe places with Smart Lock

The V30 has many convenient unlock methods, but sometimes you shouldn’t need any of them. A feature called “Smart Lock” lets you tell your phone when it’s safe to disable lock screen security. This allows you to lock your phone when you need it, but it won’t be locked when you’re in trusted situations.

  1. Go to Settings > Lock screen
  2. Select Smart Lock
  3. Choose one of the Smart Lock methods

Currently, there are 4 types of Smart Lock, and you can use more than one at a time. Each one will explain how it works when you select it. Trusted places is a good place to start.

Make sure you can find your lost or stolen phone

The worst thing that can happen to a new phone is for it to be lost or stolen. Thankfully, you have some options for retrieving the device. The V30 comes with something called “Android Device Manager” pre-installed. If your phone is lost or stolen you can simply go to this website, log in with your Google account, and locate your phone. You can also remotely ring, lock, and erase the device. The best thing about this is there’s no set-up required. It just works.

For even more ways to find a lost or stolen phone, read our full guide.

Set up 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 quick info with the Always-On Display

The V30 has an Always-on display that allows you to see the time, date, and notifications while the display is turned off. This feature really shines with the OLED displays. It’s pretty handy to see the time or whether you need to read a notification.

  1. Go to Settings > Display
  2. Tap Always-on display
  3. Toggle the switch to ON
  4. Tap the settings gear icon to choose how it looks

For more, discuss Always-on display at the LG V30 forum

Wake the phone with a double-tap

If you haven’t used an LG phone in a while, you’re about to discover something you won’t be able to live without. Since the power button is on the back, sometimes it’s hard to quickly wake up the phone. You can simply double-tap anywhere on the screen and the display will light up.

Putting the phone to sleep works the same way. If you’re using the stock LG launcher you can double-tap on any blank space, but if you’re using a 3rd-party launcher you have to double-tap the status bar. Give it a try.

Put the Settings in list mode

On most V30 models, the Settings is organized with a tabbed layout. We’ve found that the tabs usually make it more difficult to find what you’re looking for. To go back to the more traditional list view, simply tap the three-dot menu icon in the top right of the Settings and select List view. You can also slide out the list of settings from the side.

Delete unwanted apps

Some carrier models of the LG V30 will come with a lot of apps pre-installed. It’s very annoying to see apps you never intend to use. 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
  3. Tap UNINSTALL
  4. Tap OK to confirm

OR

  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

How to draw on the screen

You can draw on pretty much anything with a tap of a button on the LG V30. It’s a button that you can find in the Quick Settings or Floating Bar. When you tap the button, it takes a screenshot and lets you draw on it. Not only is it great for doodling, but it’s great for taking notes.

  1. Expand the Floating Bar
  2. Swipe to the screen capture shortcuts
  3. Tap the pencil icon
  4. Edit the image and tap the check mark to save it

Bring back the App Drawer

The default LG home screen does not include 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

Hide apps in the launcher

Now that we have the app drawer back, there may be some apps you don’t want to see in it. Sometimes these are apps you need to have installed, but you don’t want them cluttering up your app drawer. Thankfully, it’s easy to hide apps.

  1. Open the app drawer
  2. Tap the menu icon
  3. Select Hide apps
  4. Check the box for the apps you want to hide
  5. Tap DONE

For more, discuss hiding apps at the LG V30 forum

Change up the look with a Theme

By default, the V30 comes with a bright white theme. It’s not an ugly theme, but you may prefer something darker or just plain 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

Get a new keyboard

LG’s default keyboard isn’t terrible, but you probably already have a favorite keyboard. Changing the keyboard is an essential part of what makes Android unique. It’s easy to change on the V30.

  1. Go to Settings > Language & keyboard
  2. Select Current keyboard
  3. Tap SELECT MORE
  4. Toggle on your desired keyboard
  5. Go back, select Current Keyboard again
  6. Select your keyboard

To find Settings for your keyboard

  1. Go to Settings > Language & keyboard
  2. Tap the name of your keyboard
  3. You’ll see all the settings

For more, discuss keyboards at the LG V30 forum

Turn off the “Rounded Square” icons

For everything that LG does well, software design is not on the list. One of the things you’ll notice right away is the “rounded square” icon shape on the default LG home screen. 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

Adjust how apps scale to 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

Change the display size

LG allows you to adjust the display size on the V30. Whether you have good eyes and want to take advantage of that extra screen real estate to show more of everything, or you want to further enlarge text, icons, everything, it’s all possible thanks to DPI scaling. Here’s where you’ll find it:

  1. Go to Settings > Display
  2. Scroll down and select Display size
  3. Move the slider to the left or right to either shrink or blow up the entire UI

Change the wallpaper

Changing the wallpaper is one of the easiest ways to instantly personalize your phone. It’s super easy to do. Simply press and hold on any empty space on the home screen. Select the Wallpapers tab in the bottom right of the screen. You’ll be able to choose from installed apps and pre-loaded wallpapers. You can also change the lock screen wallpaper. Go to Settings > Lock screen > Wallpaper.

Add or reorder home screen pages

Adding extra home screens gives you more room for widgets and apps icons. LG doesn’t allow you to simply drag an app or widget to a blank screen to create a new home screen. You have to follow these steps.

  1. Pinch to zoom out on the home screen
  2. Tap the (+) on the blank home screen
  3. Now you have a blank screen

For more, discuss Home Screen pages at the LG V30 forum

http://phandroid.com/2017/10/11/lg-v30-tips-tricks/