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printed September 3, 2015
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Verizon Rebrands

Today, 2:06 AM   by Rich Brome

Verizon today unveiled a new logo and visual identity. The company is keeping its signature red and black colors, while shifting the angled "V" graphic into a smaller symbol after the word "verizon" that is more obviously a "check mark". According to the company, "it’s a cleaner, more human design and the checkmark, the universal symbol for getting things done, uniquely expresses the reliability of Verizon."


Hands on with the New Moto 360

Yesterday, 3:33 PM   by Rich Brome   updated Yesterday, 3:45 PM

Motorola set the standard for Android Wear watches with the Moto 360. Now they're back with a refresh. It's very similar to the previous model, but with a new strap system that makes it look more like a traditional watch. Following the lead of Apple - and everyone else - it now comes in two sizes. How is it in person? Read on.

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Hands On with Sony Xperia Z5 Range

Yesterday, 2:27 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sony's latest flagship family impresses with high-quality materials, top-notch specs, and user-friendly features. The Xperia Z5, Z5 Compact, and Z5 Premium make for a formidable lineup of Android handsets. Here are Cellphone Room's first impressions.

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Motorola Debuts Range of Moto 360 Watches

Yesterday, 2:00 PM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Yesterday, 2:07 PM

Motorola today showed off several new versions of the Moto 360 smartwatch, which cater to both active and professional lifestyles. The Moto 360 now comes in two sizes: 42mm (1.37-inch screen) and 46mm (1.56-inch screen). The 360 by 360 pixel circular displays have a slim 3mm bezel and offer a full-round screen. Consumers can choose from several different finishes, including stainless steel, and a variety of quick-release straps. Motorola will allow people to build their own via Moto Maker. The wearables run Android Wear 1.3 and are compatible with both Android phones and the iPhone. They are powered by a Snapdragon 400 processor with 512MB of RAM and 4GB of storage. The larger size has a 400mAh battery and the smaller size has a 300mAh battery. Both sizes measure 11.6mm thick and include Bluetooth and WiFi. The Moto 360 Sport adds GPS for tracking workouts and a brighter screen for easier outdoor use. The Moto 360 can be preordered beginning today and ships in late September. The Moto 360 Sport will ship later this year. Prices range from $299.99 to $429.99.


Hands on with the Huawei Mate S

Yesterday, 1:31 PM   by Rich Brome

The Mate S is Huawei's new global flagship phone. Like most new flagships, it sports a 5 inch display, metal body, fingerprint sensor, and some advanced camera technology. It will also support Force Touch, sensing the pressure you apply, to the degree that you can use it as a scale, although we've heard that there will be several versions of the Mate S, and not all will include Force Touch. It's an intriguing phone. Read on for our hands-on impressions.

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Sony Reveals the Xperia Z5 In Small and Large Sizes with 4K Display

Yesterday, 9:43 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Yesterday, 12:09 PM

Sony today announced the Xperia Z5, a family of flagship smartphones that range in features and size. All three versions rely on the same slim metal design from previous generations of Xperia Z devices with glass on the front and back surfaces. The Xperia Z5 is waterproof and protects the handset from accidental spills as well a dunks in the sink. The Xperia Z5 features what Sony says is "the best camera." Sony sped up the autofocus to 0.03 seconds, while also improving the sensor count to 23 megapixels. The camera features Sony's G-Lens and uses "clear image zoom" to power 5x zooming with no loss in clarity. The camera also performs well at night and in low light thanks to a new night capture mode powered by the latest Exmor RS mobile sensor. Last, video includes steady shot intelligent shake reduction. Sony added a fingerprint sensor to the screen lock button, which is positioned on the right edge. The phone will be offered in three variants. The standard version has a 5.2-inch 1080p HD display; the Xperia Z5 Compact has a 4.7-inch display; and the Xperia Z5 Premium features a 5.5-inch 4K display (with upscaling for full HD content). All three are powered by octa-core Snapdraon 810 processors and run Android with the latest software and services from Sony on board. The handsets will go on sale worldwide in October.


Hands on with the Asus ZenWatch 2

Yesterday, 8:56 AM   by Rich Brome

The ZenWatch 2 is an Android Wear watch available for an unusually low price of well under $200. We checked it out.

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Huawei Mate S Has Force Touch

Yesterday, 8:49 AM   by Rich Brome   updated Yesterday, 9:40 AM

Huawei today announced the Mate S, its new flagship Android smartphone. Its most notable feature is Force Touch, which precisely measures pressure on its touch screen. The harder you press on a photo in the gallery, the more it zooms in, for example. It is precise enough that Huawei will ship the phone with an app that turns the screen into a small scale. The screen is 5.5-inch full-HD AMOLED. The phone also has a 13-megapixel main camera with RGBW sensor, 1.2-degree OIS (optical image stabilization), sapphire lens, and advanced manual controls. The front camera clocks in at 8 megapixels. Another unique feature is directional listening, which uses three microphones to pinpoint voice locations and filter out background noise. The Mate S is also water-resistant using a nano coating. Like many new Huawei phones, it has two card slots; one for a SIM card, and one for a memory card or a second SIM card. It supports 13 LTE bands, including U.S. bands. It has a thin metal body and fingerprint sensor. It's powered by a Huawei Kirin 935 2.2 GHz, 8-core, 64-bit processor accompanied by 3 GB of RAM. It will be available within the next month in Europe starting at 649 Euros for the version with 32 GB of internal storage.

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Huawei's Android Wear Smartwatch Goes Upscale

Yesterday, 8:00 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Huawei today said its Android-based smartwatch will go on sale this month for $349, putting it in Apple Watch territory. The wearable will come with several face variations, including stainless steel, black stainless steel, and rose gold, with leather, steel, and gold strap options. Prices vary depending on the chassis and strap combination, with the gold models costing as much as $799. All models have a 1.4-inch screen with 400 by 400 pixels protected by sapphire crystal. The watch is powered by a 1.2 GHz dual-core Snapdragon 400 processor with 512MB of RAM and 4GB of storage. The Huawei Watch includes Bluetooth and WiFi for connectivity, and sensors such as barometer, accelerometer, and gyroscope to help track movement. The 300mAh battery delivers up to two days of usable life and can reach an 80% charge in just 45 minutes. The watch runs Android Wear 1.3 and is compatible with Android and iOS smartphones. The stainless steel and black models can be pre-ordered beginning today and will ship on Sept. 17, which is also when the watch will reach general availability. The Huawei Watch can be purchased from GetHuawei.com, the Google Play Store, Amazon.com, and BestBuy.com.

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Asus updates ZenWatch

Yesterday, 7:04 AM   by Rich Brome

Today at the IFA show in Berlin, Asus announced the ZenWatch 2, an affordable Android Wear smartwatch. It comes in two sizes and three stainless steel case colors, for just 149 Euros (approx. $168). The company claims two days of battery life, and the watch charges via a magnetic connector on the back. A set of exclusive Asus apps includes a messaging app that communicates directly from one watch to another. 18 different strap options are available.

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Google to Punish App Install Adds that Appear in Search

Yesterday, 3:16 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Yesterday, 3:18 AM

Google has decided to clean up how mobile search results present ads for app installs. In particular, it hopes to negate the use of interstitial app install ads that hide content when users try to view search results. "Our analysis shows that it is not a good search experience and can be frustrating for users because they are expecting to see the content of the web page," explained Google. Google has updated the Mobile-Friendly Test — a barometer the company offers to mobile web site designers — to help demonstrate how interstitials fail the friendly test. Web site designers can use the tool to see the number of pages across their site(s) affected by the issue. Google is giving mobile web designers two months to clean up their interstitials. Beginning November 1, sites that continue to show interstitial app install ads will no longer be consider mobile friendly, which will drop their search rankings. Google suggests publishers use alternatives, such as banners, to coax mobile users into installing their apps.


Google Adjusts Google Now Cards and Search

Yesterday, 3:02 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google has updated the appearance of its Google Now and Google Search tools on Android devices to match the company's new design motif. First and foremost, the apps adopt the new logo and font changes Google made earlier this week. Second, in Google Now the cards are arranged by category and will shift and change size throughout the day to reflect important appointments and other events. Third, the Google Search app now displays the Google Doodle on days it's published, and search results make it easier to sift between types of content (web, images, video) with new swiping gestures. The Google Search app is free to download from the Google Play Store. Google said other Google-branded apps will be given visual tweaks in the days ahead to reflect its new design language.


Moto X Pure Edition Available for Preorder Wednesday

Tuesday, 6:06 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Motorola's official Google+ page said that U.S. consumers will be able to order the Moto X Pure Edition beginning Wednesday, Sept. 2. The phone can be customized via Moto Maker and starts at $399.


Instagram Boosts Appeal of Direct Messages with Threaded Convos

Tuesday, 12:49 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Instagram today improved the private messaging features of its Android and iOS apps through an update. To start, messages between individuals and groups are now threaded, rather than separate. Threaded conversations contain all the shared content in a single stream. The new Instagram makes it easier to forward posts to other users, so public photos can be sent back and forth. The direct message function now also includes a camera for quick selfies, and huge emoji for "when there are just no words," according to Instagram. Privacy is not changed; private feeds will remain private, and those photos cannot be shared with non-subscribers. The new Instagram makes it easier to share with groups, as well include hashtags and location data. The updated app is available to Android and iOS devices today; it's free to download from the Google Play Store and iTunes App Store, respectively.


Review: Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge+ for Verizon Wireless

Tuesday, 12:30 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

The Galaxy S6 Edge+ is a bigger and better version of the Galaxy S6 Edge. It makes improvements to the screen and battery life, and adds some extra functionality to the curved side edges. Here is Cellphone Room's full report about this powerful Android smartphone.

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Amazon Letting Prime Members Watch Videos Offline

Tuesday, 9:06 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Amazon today said Prime customers can now download videos for offline playback. The feature, part of Amazon Prime Instant Video, is compatible with Fire tablets, the Fire Phone, Android phones and tablets, and iOS devices, such as the iPhone. Amazon is offering an unknown percentage of its video library for offline playback, including televisions shows, classic movies, and newer cinematic releases. Not all videos are available for download/offline playback; compatible videos will be marked as such. Prime subscribers can download the video file via WiFi and will have between 15 to 30 days to watch the video (varies by title) before the viewing period ends. Offline viewing is only available to residents of the U.S.


Nextbit Introduces Robin, a Phone That Makes the Cloud Smart

Tuesday, 9:00 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Nexbit today revealed the Robin, an Android smartphone that intelligently uses the cloud to help manage storage space on the fly. The handset includes 32 GB of "offline" storage and 100 GB of "online" storage. The hardware itself has 32 GB, but the Robin has access to another 68 GB of storage on Nextbit's servers. When the Robin is connected to the internet (via LTE or WiFi) it has access to all 100 GB of this storage space. Most interestingly, Robin's software will learn which apps are used the least and will proactively remove them from the handset until they are needed. Removed apps still appear in the menus, but are greyed out and unusable until the user chooses to reload them. Users won't have to re-enter credentials for removed apps; Robin keeps account and login details intact. The handset has a unique industrial design created by Scott Croyle, a former designer for HTC. The main chassis is made from metal and it is book-ended by two polycarbonate caps. The caps house stereo speakers (each with its own amplifier), camera modules, sensors, and wireless radios. The Robin features a 5.2-inch full HD screen and is powered by a Snapdragon 808 processor with 3 GB of RAM. The Robin has a 13-megapixel main camera with two-tone LED flash, and a 5-megapixel selfie camera. Nextbit added a fingerprint sensor to the screen lock button, which is located on the side of the Robin. The phone has a 2,650mAh battery that is sealed in. Wireless radios include Bluetooth, GPS, NFC, WiFi, HSPA+, and a wide selection of LTE bands for compatibility with networks such as those run by AT&T and T-Mobile in the U.S. Nextbit is launching the Robin in the U.S. via Kickstarter beginning today. Early bird supporters (first 1,000 backers) can score the Robin for $299. Follow-up Kickstarter supporters will have to spend $349. The Robin will ship for $399 in the first quarter of 2016.


PayPal.Me a More Convenient Way to Pay People

Tuesday, 8:52 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

PayPal today launched a new service that purports to make it easier to send and receive money. With PayPal.Me, PayPal users create a unique URL associated with their account. The link, when shared, gives others the avenue they need to make payments or send funds. "Family and friends or customers click the link, enter the amount and their PayPal password, and they're done," says PayPal. Want to request a specific amount of cash? Send the link with a number at the end, like so: PayPal.Me/JohnDoe/25 and the recipient will be asked to send $25. Other than requiring a PayPal account, PayPal.Me is free to use.

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