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5
Apr

Samsung’s Galaxy S7 edge LED flip cover for the S7 edge is downright awesome


The Samsung Galaxy S7 edge has been impressing just about everybody since its release just a month ago. It set the standard for flagship devices with its impressive camera, gorgeous Super AMOLED display, and most of all, its high-quality build.

Sandwiched between two curved pieces of Gorilla Glass 4, the S7 edge is a little more fragile than its all metal or plastic counterparts. Being priced at roughly $800 also makes it quite the investment, and breaking it can be heartbreaking. Most people will buy a case for their S7 edge, but many look at covering their pricey and gorgeous smartphones with cheap cases. I’m all for being price conscious, but if you’re buying the S7 edge, you should consider buying a premium case for it from Samsung.

That’s where the Samsung Galaxy S7 edge case LED flip cover comes in – its one of the best built, and coolest cases you can get today.

Samsung Galaxy S7 edge Case LED View Flip Cover 

On sale now at Amazon.com

Description and usage

The Samsung Galaxy S7 edge case LED flip cover is one of the official cases made by Samsung. It is a wallet style cover that is made from soft plastic that feels and looks like leather. Available colors are black and gold and it retails for $69.99.

The case I am reviewing is specifically designed for the S7 edge, but Samsung does have an equivalent LED case for the Galaxy S7 and is priced identically.

What makes the LED case unique is the lights on the front of the case that allow you to view notifications, time, calls and power from the front.

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On the inside flap of the front cover is a slot where you can hold up to three cards, or a small amount of cash.

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The LED case has a minimalist design, with only the logo from Samsung on the back in addition to the +/- symbols on the side to control the volume.

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The case fits as perfectly as you would expect since it is an official case of Samsung. When you open and close the front flap, the LED lights come on for a few seconds to tell the current time. If you simply want to check the time, you can also click the power button to turn on the front lights.

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I don’t often use smartphone cases, because they sometimes add too much bulk and ruin the look of the device. In this case (no pun intended) the Samsung LED flip cover gives the S7 edge a unique and cool look you don’t find from almost all other cases. It feels great to hold, and doesn’t add an unnecessary amount of bulk. There is a hard internal plastic case that holds the phone inside of the flip cover tightly and offers drop protection. It will keep your double glass sided S7 edge from cracking if you drop it.

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The Samsung Galaxy S7 edge LED flip cover isn’t cheap with an MSRP of $69.99. I don’t normally like to recommend expensive phones or accessories unless they live up to the highest of standards. The S7 edge LED flip cover does that with its incredible build quality, superior fit, and unique LED notification lights on the front. You don’t have to pay full retail if you pick it up on Amazon.com where the price frequently drops below $50. It is a great investment considering it will cost over $150 just to fix cracked glass on both sides.

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If you’re wondering, you can use wireless charging with this LED flip cover too.

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Get it at Amazon.com on sale now.

 

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5
Apr

Marvel Contest of Champions: Fight. Win. Repeat. (review)


Forget Batman vs. Superman and Captain America: Civil War. You can create your own civil war right from your Android device thanks to Marvel Contest of Champions. Just choose your character and fight against well-known Marvel heroes and villains, using dead-easy controls that don’t require you to memorize long lists of combos. Even though the core mechanic is really simple, developer Kabam has added a huge amount of content to keep you coming for more. Combined with beautiful graphics, a great character roster, and no paywalls, Marvel Contest of Champions is one of the finest games in the Play Store, with a huge following and a broad community.

Developer: Kabam

Price: Free, with in-app purchases

Highlights:

  • Setup adds some unnecessary steps.
  • Controls are extremely easy to understand.
  • Gorgeous graphics.
  • Impressive amount of content, quests and perks.
  • Battery drainer.

Setup

Marvel Contest of Champions SetupNice stills featuring well-known Marvel characters introduce the game to you.

First of all, the app weighs upwards of 600 MB, so you’ll definitely want to download it on a WiFi connection. Unless you have unlimited data, then you may want to get your money’s worth. Anyways, when opening the game, you’ll notice a very weird dialogue, asking you to go to the app’s info screen and activate the Photos/Media/Files, Contacts and Phone permissions (if you’re on Android 6.0+, obviously).

There are two aspects I want to remark about this. The first one is that the process that Google suggests for asking for permissions does not involve going to your phone settings and granting them, but rather have the app show you dialogues where you can accept or deny them. The second one is that, if you don’t grant them all, the app will simply refuse to start. The functionality attached to each permission should be disabled accordingly, not have the whole app become unusable because of a disabled permission.

After going through this headache and a rather long loading screen, you are shown a little bar at the bottom asking you to create an account. You can ignore it if you wish, but I believe that the game should ask this later since the account is not mandatory and the process has been long enough already.

Features

Marvel Contest of Champions CrystalsThrough crystals, you can obtain items and new champions.

After going through the initial setup, you’ll be able to see a short sequence of stills that try to depict the events that led us to this contest of champions. After these rather entertaining images, the game teaches you the basic controls. This is no Street Fighter, in which you have to memorize long sequences of attacks in order to make cool combos. A tap for light attacks, swipe for medium and long-press for strong attacks will do.

Also, after chaining several hits, you can activate a special attack that deals a lot of damage. You can even block and dodge attacks, and swiping towards your enemy will make you glide through the scenery and perform an attack immediately. The controls are pretty simple but you have a lot of things to play with during battles.

The tutorial will then take you to the crystal vault, where you will get your first heroes. Hooray! However, you can only watch as a roulette chooses a hero for you randomly. This can prove problematic if you are trying to get a specific hero and the roulette stops at a character you don’t want or know, or, even worse, getting the same ally again.

This game has an unbelievable, console-like amount of modes and things to do. The most obvious place to start is the Story Quests. In here, you will traverse several different scenarios divided into Acts and Chapters.

Chapters have different paths you can travel, each one with its own set of rewards. Each step in the path will consume energy, and, when you run out of energy, you won’t be able to continue your adventures. However, energy replenishes automatically after a certain period, but this system greatly encourages you to play for shorter periods instead of one long session.

Marvel Contest of Champions StoryStory mode will keep you entertained for a long time.

You need to choose a team at the beginning of each chapter. The difficulty of this mode comes because heroes do not replenish their health at the end of each fight, so you’ll have to analyze closely what lies ahead and plan your strategy accordingly. You can walk through the easy path to make your session more enjoyable and relaxed, or you can navigate the highway to hell and be appropriately rewarded. At the end of each battle, you’ll get potions, gold, ISO-8 (explained later), and sometimes, new crystals to enhance your current roster.

Other single-player modes include Event Quests and Versus. Event Quests are one-of-a-kind/daily quests that will give you more loot than normal events in Story Mode. They will always have a timeframe in which they can be cleared. After that, you won’t be able to access it. Each quest also has its own chapters (normally 3), and only the first one will be unlocked for you. The other ones are unlocked by completing previous chapters. This adds a level of depth to every event and increases your chances of obtaining loot and various items.

Marvel Contest of Champions VersusPlay against other players in Versus mode.

In Versus mode, you can compete with other players in online battles. There are several formats to spice things up. The first one is a simple 1 vs 1, called Quickmatch. You fight against anyone around the world in a single match.

There’s another mode, called Battle Drums, in which you choose a team of three of your heroes and fight against another team. You get points after finishing each battle, and you have to get to a certain milestone before the clock runs out in order to get huge bonuses.

There are other limited-time versus modes to entertain users. For example, Catalyst Clash is basically the same as Battle Drums but with a huge focus on getting catalysts (explained later). The game will reward the best players with massive catalyst bonuses at the end of a two-day period. Making Amends is a 3 vs 3 mode in which you fight other people with Tier 3 or 4 characters for chances of getting a new hero. Crystal Cornucopia focuses on crystal gathering. These are constantly being changed, so there’s always something new for players.

The developer also added a social component called Alliances. Similar to clans in Clash of Clans, alliances are groups of people that can help each other out and go to quests together. You can even battle against other alliances in a mode called Alliance Wars.

By helping your mates, you get Loyalty points, which you can use towards Alliance crystals, which give you perks like performance boosts or champions. If you like to play your games solo, joining an Alliance is not mandatory at all, it just adds another level of depth to an already complex game.

Marvel Contest of Champions CharactersEvery character looks absolutely badass.

So, after going through so many different modes, gathering resources and loot, where can it be used? That’s what the Champions screen is for. Here you will get an overview of all of the champions you have available. You will be able to see thorough stats about your hero, or upgrade him or her.

Remember the ISO-8? Combined with gold, both can be used to increase your character’s level. When champions reach level 10, they can be ranked up using catalysts.

Also, every hero in the game belongs to a class. There is a total of six classes, and their main function is to determine something that the game calls a Class Bonus. The six classes are:

  • Cosmic (strong against Tech, weak against Mystic)
  • Mutant (strong against Skill, weak against Tech)
  • Mystic (strong against Cosmic, weak against Science)
  • Science (strong against Mystic, weak against Skill)
  • Skill (strong against Science, weak against Mutant)
  • Tech (strong against Mutant, weak against Cosmic)

Too lazy to remember them all? The game identifies them with an icon and even tells you when an opponent has a class advantage against you, so there’s nothing to worry about.

This impressive amount of modes and deepness would be nothing if the core gameplay was bad. Thankfully, it isn’t. Battles are really fast paced and fluid, as in any fighting game. Controls are extremely responsive, and after a few fights, you’ll be able to master both attacking and defensive stances.

Marvel Contest of Champions GameplayDuel of titans.

I must say that I’m pretty terrible at normal fighting games like Mortal Kombat, Street Fighter, Guilty Gear and such, but the game’s mechanics are easy enough that even a noob like me could chain combos and have a good time.

Maybe it’s a placebo effect, but I feel Hulkbuster’s attacks are slower than Black Widow’s. However, for the most part, characters basically behave the same, except for their special attacks, which are personalized for each one. In my opinion, this diminishes the lure of getting as many characters as you can, but, combined with class bonuses, creates a more balanced gameplay in which you don’t need specific characters to succeed.

Marvel Contest of Champions CharactersSpider-Man wins. Always.

Speaking of characters and special attacks, the game is an absolute joy to watch. Characters are very detailed, their movements are fluid, special attacks are flashy, and overall the game just feels really well done, with a meticulous attention to detail. From opening a crystal to the in-app store, every element looks gorgeous. Combined with great sound effects and subtle but effective music, this game offers such a cohesive, detailed experience that you rarely see on mobile games.

All of this praise comes at a cost, however. Launching the game from zero takes an inadmissible long amount of time. Whatever it is doing when launching the app, it’s taking more time than adequate. Also, loading screens are very frequent throughout the app, even when returning to seemingly simple sections. I’ve also noticed that the app eats batteries for breakfast. It drains my Nexus 6’s battery at a rate of approximately 1% per minute of gameplay.

Conclusion

It’s easy to be overwhelmed at first with the monumental amount of content that Marvel Contest of Champions offers. There are so many quests, modes, and limited-time events that I am still discovering new stuff every day.

The first thing I thought when I downloaded the game was that it must be an ad-riddled, pay-to-win experience that I would not enjoy. However, aside from the home screen, which is almost completely dedicated to advertising new heroes and crystals, you never feel like you’re being nickel and dimed, and in-app purchases are there if you want to speed things up, primarily character upgrades. Also, since content is constantly being changed, the game offers an amazing replay value, and you could be playing it for months and probably won’t get bored.

If you like the Marvel universe and would like to see your favorite characters duking it out, then you should give this game a look. If you can get past the battery drain and little performance issues with loading screens, you’ll find one of the most complete, gorgeous and entertaining games I’ve come across in the Play Store.

Download from the Play Store.

5
Apr

Find out what’s wrong with your car with BlueDriver


BlueDriver

Whether you’re a mechanic or not, it’s nice to know what’s going on with your vehicle. Many places will charge you a diagnostic fee just to determine what that problem is. Many times, all they do is hook up a diagnostics machine to your vehicle’s OBDII port and tell you what the machine spits out. BlueDriver is designed to give you that same capability.

BlueDriver overview

An OBDII port is an industry standard diagnostic port for all vehicles sold in the US after 1996. BlueDriver was designed to fit that port and communicate with your phone via Bluetooth 4.0. All in all, it’s a consumer grade version of the same diagnostic tools that the repair shop technicians use. Here is a list of features.

  • Read and Clear Codes

    • Confirmed CEL Codes – all makes
    • Pending CEL Codes – all makes
    • Permanent CEL Codes – all makes
    • Enhanced Codes (e.g. ABS, Airbag, Transmission, etc) – GM, Ford, Chrysler, Toyota (more to come)
  • Repair Reports – Vehicle-specific for each DTC:

    • Code Definition
    • Possible Causes
    • Reported Fixes
  • Freeze Frame – Vehicle snapshot when a code is stored
  • Smog Check – See if the vehicle is ready for a smog test
  • Mode 6 – Advanced test results (like misfire counts)
  • Live Data – Graph multiple PIDs or export log to a file
  • Supports all OBD2 protocols (including CAN)
  • Free vehicle-specific Repair Reports drawn from a database of over 4.3 million fixes verified by certified auto mechanics

BlueDriver setup

Setting up the BlueDriver is a fairly simple affair. All you need to do is download the app from Google Play, plug in the BlueDriver to your OBDII port and launch the app. The BlueDriver app will search for your BlueDriver tool and will connect automatically without the need to pair the device to your phone.

BlueDriver

BlueDriver

BlueDriver

BlueDriver usage

The first thing I realized about BlueDriver is that the average person will not use it very often unless they have a vehicle that acts up a lot. However the price point is only $99 and many dealerships will charge $99 just to diagnose the problem. That is what makes the Bluedriver so appealing.

The next thing I realized was that just because I was getting a certain error code, did not mean that I knew how to fix the problem. A mechanic friend of mine explained to me this way. “Just because you know what’s failing, does not mean you know what is making it fail.” To that end, BlueDriver will allow you monitor live the readings from your vehicle’s sensors but, if you’re not a mechanic, then you probably won’t know what to look for.

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BlueDriver

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BlueDriver also has the ability to take a Freeze Frame snapshot off your vehicle’s system. So if you’re on good terms with your shop, then maybe you could show them the information and they could tell you what’s going on.

I found the smog test especially helpful as well as this is the first year that I needed to get my Honda Odyssey smog checked. In Arizona vehicles with an OBDII port are emissioned solely by connecting to your vehicle’s OBDII port. The vehicle’s sensors will then determine if the emissions pass or not. The BlueDriver is also able to determine this as well.

Lastly, my favorite feature was that you can clear your vehicle’s error codes. There are many other modes and functions, which I did not use because I’m not a mechanic. The best part is that because everything works through your smartphone, your BlueDriver and app will always be up to date.

3.9 out of 5 stars

Overall if you like to get your hands a little dirty or you just want to keep your mechanic honest, the BlueDriver is a great option. For $99 you really can’t go wrong.

5
Apr

The how and why of third-party music widgets


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Music makes us better. Their widgets need to get better.

Music is a very important function of my phone, and it’s the most important widget on my home screen. If I can only fit one widget on my screen around my totally awesome wallpapers, it’s the music widget. Problem is, a lot of widgets from the top music streaming apps just don’t look that great. They have buttons we don’t need, they don’t have the buttons we want, they don’t resize well, and they just don’t get along with a lot of themes.

Thankfully, we have choices.

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Your media player runs in the foreground, so that it doesn’t get killed when you switch from Spotify to Inbox. In order for it to run as a foreground service, your music player must provide a notification in your notification shade. These notifications let us control our music while we’re in other apps, but they also are the lifeblood of third-party notifications.

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Music widgets read your notifications and pull your current track information from them. Because notification access is an all or nothing thing, that also means that these third-party music widgets can see things like text message notifications and potentially sensitive information. That’s why you’ll have to grant them notification access manually and click yes on the warning pop-up each time you first run them. It’s also why you also need to trust the music widget you install.

In exchange for trusting a third-party widget with notification access, you open your phone up to more fashionable and more flexible widgets. Among the wide variety in the Google Play Store, there are a few music widgets that I rotate through depending on the theme I’m currently rocking:

  • Jack’s Music Widget (Free, $1.99 is a simple music widget with a few tricks that help put it over first-party widgets. Firstly, Jack’s has several styles for its widgets, including letting the album art determine the color scheme. I traditionally go with Clear, but with some themes you need the added contrast of Transparent. Jack’s can pull in playback information and controls from more than just your primary music player, meaning one playback widget can control music, YouTube, or Netflix depending on what’s active.
  • KWGT (Free, $2.99) is a WYSIWYG widget editor where you can build your own widgets from scratch or use someone else’s presets or Komponents. One of the beautiful things about KWGT is that you don’t need a plugin to build a music widget, like Zooper needs Media Utilities. You can add extra controls beyond the standard play/pause/next/back buttons, such as the ability to rewind or outright stop a player. KWGT also has the ability to set a default player and hit play on your current queue even if the app isn’t currently running in the foreground.
  • Material Music Komponent (Free) is one of the many komponents for KWGT packaged for purchase in the Google Play Store, and after getting over some default placement oddities, it’s actually become my favorite music widget when I have the space for it. Material’s widget have set layouts, but are completely color customizable, so you can color-match your music widget to your wallpaper and the rest of your theme. You can even make them transparent colors, for added flexibility.

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If you haven’t taken a chance on a third-party music widget, there’s no time like the present! Remember, life is too short for ugly widgets. If you’ve already jumped in, what widget are you using and why does it have a place on your home screen?

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5
Apr

You can save $15 on the Fire TV at Amazon right now


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Right now, you can save $15 on a Fire TV at Amazon, making it just $85. In addition to the savings on the actual hardware, Amazon is offering discounts on a HDMI cable, Fire TV mount, memory cards and even a remote holder. The Fire TV is a media streamer that allows you to use streaming services like Netflix, Amazon Video, Hulu and more to play movies and TV shows on your television.

If you are on the edge, or have wanted one but were looking to save a little money, now may be the time to buy. We don’t know how long these savings will last, so don’t wait too long.

See at Amazon

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5
Apr

T-Mobile Galaxy S7 edge review: The best you can get on the Un-carrier


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All the Galaxy S7 edge phones sold in the states are mostly the same — it’s what the carrier does that makes the difference. Here’s how T-Mobile does it.

On the surface, every Samsung Galaxy S7 edge seems the same. They all have the same glass front and back, the same buttons and holes in the same places and the same curved screen edges that give the phone its name. In the U.S., they all have the same specs and hardware configuration, though other parts of the world use Samsung’s own in-house processor. Aside from the camera sensor — some use a Sony sensor while some use Samsung’s sensor — the hardware is the same. You get one storage option (32GB) and a choice of colors.

On the software side, things can be a little different. You have Samsung’s standard Galaxy S7 edge software, used in unlocked phones on the other side of the Atlantic, and various versions built to the specifications of a particular mobile operator. One isn’t necessarily better than any of the others, but the experience can change a little — especially when you’re using a U.S. version. And any time you let a carrier get involved, there’s always a chance they will go too far.

I’ve been using the T-Mobile branded Galaxy S7 edge — the Silver Titanium model — for a bit. It’s time to talk about how T-Mobile does one of the best Android phones ever.

Required reading: Our full Samsung Galaxy S7 edge review

Software differences

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There’s not much difference on the surface between the T-Mobile version and every other Galaxy S7 edge out there. U.S. versions are missing the Galaxy Labs app which is a home for Samsung’s experimental features like a voice activated quick dialer or removing the app drawer, but besides that the real difference is what “value-added” crapware gets thrown at you.

Thankfully, on the T-Mobile version it’s not that much.

Everything except a T-Mobile branded SlingTV app (which can be completely uninstalled) lives in it’s own little folder. Inside that folder you’ll find seven apps you may or may not want, but Mr. Legere and company think you need to see anyway. Some may be genuinely useful for a T-Mobile customer — like the T-Mobile account app — while others, like T-Mobile Name ID, are just ways to get you to pay T-Mobile for a service you can also buy elsewhere. We understand why this sort of thing is done — business is business. Here’s what you’ll find in there.

  • Mobile Hotspot is a shortcut to the same WiFi tethering options and setup you’ll find in the device settings. Just with a fancy pink icon.
  • Lookout is a popular malware scanning app. This version is heavily T-Mobile branded, but offers the same options you’ll find in the Google Play version.
  • Device Unlock is an app that can network unlock your Galaxy S7 as long as you meet T-Mobile’s criteria for eligibility.
  • T-Mobile is an account management app, with a few silly extras like telling you to shut off Bluetooth to save battery or how you can order a Personal Cellspot if you have crappy coverage.
  • T-Mobile Name ID is a subscription caller ID service. You get a 10 day trial, then for $3.99 a month you get caller lookup and call blocking features. The subscription is added to your account.
  • T-Mobile TV lets you watch live and recorded videos. The free version has a very limited amount of content, and the Prime version is free for 30 days. After that it’s $12.99 plus tax each month. There are also subscriptions for Spanish language programming ($9.99 per month) and Children’s programming ($5.99 per month). The premium selections aren’t horrible and the service usually works as advertised.
  • Visual Voicemail is a front end for T-Mobile’s voicemail service. Think of it as a graphical menu driven way to listen to your voicemails instead of dialing 123 to do it through your phone’s virtual keypad.

The list here is relatively small. Most of it (the T-Mobile account app being the exception) can be disabled or uninstalled. All of them can be hidden in the Samsung home launcher. My issue is not the amount of carrier junk — it’s not that much — but the fact that Google Play exists. That’s where these apps need to live, not on my new expensive phone. When I’m finished with any reviews and comparisons, I’ll get rid of them as best as I can and stop worrying about it. You can certainly do the same.

The amount of carrierware is relatively small, and most of it can be disabled or uninstalled.

Of course, Samsung has apps o’ plenty in your drawer as well, but nothing you shouldn’t expect. Besides the Galaxy Apps storefront, the usual suspects like S Health or S Voice are there for the people who want them. While some aren’t useful to me — I’ll never need S Voice or Milk Music or S Memo — they are part of the feature set that Samsung provides. Plenty of folks find them useful and use them every day. As with the T-Mobile apps, some can be put to bed in the Application manager and all of them can be hidden from view if you have no interest. On the plus side Samsung’s browser — a fan favorite — is there, ready to become your default if you prefer it over Chrome. Many do.

The same goes for Google’s apps. Things like Maps or Play Music are there for those that need and want them, and the people who don’t can easily disable or hide them.

There’s not much more to be said about a drawer full of apps you don’t want. We would like to see Samsung sell this very phone without any carrier ties, but it hasn’t happened. The saving grace is that it really doesn’t matter too much. Once you rid yourself of the icons, you won’t care because the Galaxy S7 edge doesn’t suffer with all of it running in the background like past Samsung phones have. I’ve found the S7 edge to be responsive and fluid, and last year’s nags about things like sluggish keyboards and stuttering scrolling are mostly gone. You’ll have the performance of something like the Nexus 6P, even while doing more things than the 6P is capable of.

All things considered, this is one of the finest phones you can buy when it comes time to power it on and do the things you want to do — even with all the extras running.

Cell quality and features

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Before we get started, we have to remember that we don’t all live in the same place or use our phones the same way. This is my experience, using the phone the same way I use any phone in the same places. Yours might be different.

Network connectivity on T-Mobile has been fine. I live in an area with good T-Mobile service, and I haven’t seen any dead spots where there shouldn’t be any. When that does happen, the S7 edge is quick to find a signal when one becomes available. While some phones tell me they have a “better” connection based on the raw numbers, I’ve no complaints. The days of Samsung phones having weak radios seem to have passed, at least in my area.

If you live in a place with good T-Mobile service the Galaxy S7 edge is a reliable way to stay connected.

T-Mobile service features — HD Voice and WiFi calling — work very well. When I call my wife on her T-Mobile phone, calls are high quality with no pops or cracks or muffling on both ends. WiFi calling switches on reliably when it should, and I haven’t experienced the REG01 or REG99 certificate errors some other phones are prone to throw out.

The only issue I’ve noticed is relatively minor — it takes a bit longer to pinpoint my location than I’m used to from other phones. Once it finds where we are, things seem fine. It might be an odd localized glitch, but waiting 30 to 45 seconds to get my pin on the right spot in Maps is something I’ve not seen before. Changing location services options seems to make no difference. I’ll keep an eye on it in case it’s a matter of bad hardware, or maybe it’s sunspots or an alien invasion being planned. In the meantime, it’s slightly annoying but something I don’t need very often. As long as it never gets worse, I can live with it.

To sum things up here, if you live in a place with good T-Mobile service the Galaxy S7 edge is a reliable way to stay connected. The battery life has been really good, even with all the Samsung and T-Mobile “stuff” firing in the background.

Pricing and financing

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Buying a phone from a carrier can get confusing. T-Mobile, for example, has two different retail prices depending on how you buy the Galaxy S7, different financing options based on your credit, and Jump and Jump on Demand options that let you trade in a phone for another.

  • If you want to buy the Galaxy S7 from T-Mobile without any type of customer history or service, the retail price is $819 with a pre-paid starter kit. You can also buy the phone with one month of T-Mobile’s Simple Choice service the price is $779 plus $20 for the SIM Starter Kit.
  • If you have good credit, you pay $60 up front and $30 monthly (for 24 months) to finance the remainder of a $779 retail price.
  • If your credit isn’t what T-Mobile considers good, you pay $455 up front and $13.50 for 24 months to pay off the $779 balance.
  • The Galaxy S7 edge is available for Jump and Jump on Demand customers, and customer representatives have confirmed that it will consume roughly $630 of any EIP limit on an account.
  • If you’re looking for the standard Galaxy S7 instead, pricing comes out to $669 up-front plus a $20 SIM Starter Kit, or if you choose to finance it can be had for $0 down and $27.94 per month for 24 months — that down payment may change based on credit availability.

These prices can and will change over time, but these are the numbers and buying options as of April 1, 2016.

If you’re setting up a new account with T-Mobile for a Galaxy S7 edge, your best bet is to stop by a store or give them a call.

T-Mobile’s service plans are also a bit confusing. Postpaid plans start at $50 per month for a single line with 2GB of data, and for $95 you can get unlimited everything on a single line. $150 per month covers up to four phones on a family plan, with unlimited data for every line. Post paid accounts also include features like Music Freedom and Simple Global. If you’re interested in setting up a new account with T-Mobile for a new Galaxy S7 edge, your best bet is to stop by a store or give them a call.

Prepaid plans are a bit more straightforward. Single line plans start at $40 with 3GB of LTE data, and move upwards to $60 for plans with 10GB of LTE data. All prepaid plans offer unlimited calling, texting and GSM (2G) data.

You also need to know that every Galaxy S7 edge bought from T-Mobile is network locked, and you’ll need to satisfy any requirements to have T-Mobile release it. You can use the fancy Device Unlock app we talked about earlier, or contact T-Mobile in person or over the phone to have it done. Network unlocking is also available from third-parties you can find online.

Don’t let any of this stress you out too much. Remember that T-Mobile wants your business, and a phone call goes a long way when it comes to making sense of it all. And there are often plans and pricing that you can only get from a T-Mobile representative which aren’t advertised on the website. The number you need is 1-877-464-8646, and folks can help you in English or Spanish.

The bottom line

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T-Mobile doesn’t work for everyone. No carrier ever does. You need to investigate how well any service provider works in the places you live, work and play. Coverage maps are a good start, but they rarely tell the whole story. Never be afraid to ask the people using a service how happy they are with it.

It’s hard not to recommend the Galaxy S7 in either the “normal” or edge configuration. The S7 edge is more sizable, but not unwieldy like we’ve seen from similar sized phones like the Note 4 or Nexus 6. Making it more narrow changes how it feels in your hands and in your pockets. It’s a great choice for folks not interested in something more compact, and the bigger battery is always appreciated. Right now, this is really the only thing left to consider because the Galaxy S7 simply eclipses most everything else that we’ve seen. In fact, other companies are going to find that it’s difficult to make a phone this good, let alone any better.

If T-Mobile’s plans and service fit into your lifestyle and budget, I don’t think you’ll find that they are selling anything better when it comes to phone choices.

Even though I’m hardly a fan of the everything but the kitchen sink approach Samsung has with their premium phones, I’d still recommend the Galaxy S7 edge as the best Android phone of 2016 so far. The amazing hardware makes it worth looking past any misgivings you may have about app clutter and overlapping features, and once you start using it you’ll see that none of it has any real impact on how well the phone performs when doing the things you want it to do. There’s nothing here that makes me leery of telling you to go out and buy one, and the fact that T-Mobile hasn’t done what we see from Verizon or AT&T when it comes to annoying, unremovable apps and nonsense that nobody will ever want makes this version a bit better than the rest. Samsung also seems to have stepped up when it comes to more timely security updates, which are important. We expect the trend to continue.

One last thing to mention is that the boot loader is locked and encrypted, unlike previous Galaxy models from T-Mobile. While this provides better security for the masses, it also means that the T-Mobile Galaxy S7 edge might never be boot loader unlocked. If you don’t know what this means, or simply don’t care about it, you’re good. If you do care, know in advance that while you may own the hardware, someone else has some control over what you do with it. Don’t buy this one with the expectations that someone will find a workaround lest you be disappointed. The Nexus 6P works well on T-Mobile, and that’s what you’re looking for.

If T-Mobile’s plans and service fit into your lifestyle and budget, I don’t think you’ll find that they are selling anything better when it comes to phone choices. And I have a feeling that we’re going to continue to feel this way for the best part of 2016.

See at T-Mobile

Samsung Galaxy S7 and S7 edge

  • Galaxy S7 review
  • Galaxy S7 edge review
  • Galaxy S7 edge with Exynos: A Canadian perspective
  • Here are all four Galaxy S7 colors
  • Details on the Galaxy S7’s camera
  • The SD card is back on the GS7
  • Join our Galaxy S7 forums

AT&T Sprint T-Mobile Verizon

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5
Apr

WhatsApp turns on end-to-end encryption for its 1 billion users


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The Facebook-owned WhatsApp has announced that going forward, messages, voice calls, and sharing of photos and videos, are now encrypted end-to-end. Now people using WhatsApp on any platform can send anything to another user, and it will be inaccessible to anyone except the recipient. Not even WhatsApp itself can get in.

From Wired:

This means that if any group of people uses the latest version of WhatsApp—whether that group spans two people or ten—the service will encrypt all messages, phones calls, photos, and videos moving among them. And that’s true on any phone that runs the app, from iPhones to Android phones to Windows phones to old school Nokia flip phones.

While WhatsApp has been adding encryption features for years now, the company felt it needed to make a larger move to protect the privacy of its more than 1 billion users around the world. As co-founder Jan Koum states:

We’re somewhat lucky here in the United States, where we hope that the checks and balances hold out for many years to come and decades to come. But in a lot of countries you don’t have these checks and balances,” says Koum, dressed in his usual T-shirt and hoodie. Coming from Koum, this is not an academic point, as most of WhatsApp’s users are outside the US.

This move comes after a very public fight between the FBI and Apple over encryption, in which the FBI attempted to compel Apple to disable a security feature in iOS by creating a special version of the operating system and loading to a suspect’s phone. While law enforcement officials have yet to speak on WhatsApp’s recent actions, it seems likely that they’ll have something to say sooner or later.

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5
Apr

Unlocked BlackBerry Priv gets a permanent $50 price cut to $649 in U.S.


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Several months after its launch, the unlocked version of the Android-based BlackBerry Priv is getting a price cut in the U.S., the UK and parts of Europe. The new US price from ShopBlackBerry.com has been reduced by $50, in the U.S. from $699 to $649.

BlackBerry adds that the UK unlocked price has gon down from £559 to just £529, while the price in France, Germany, Italy, Spain and The Netherlands has been cut from €779 to €729. This price cut comes on the heels of BlackBerry announcing that it will update the phone to Android 6.0 Marshmallow sometime later in 2016.

  • Order the BlackBerry Priv for U.S. for $649
  • Order the BlackBerry Priv for UK for £529

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5
Apr

Google Calendar on the web gains support for reminders


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Google is adding reminder support to the web Calendar, much like it did for its mobile apps. This allows you to easily create, view and complete your reminders without having to leave your calendar. The reminders show up like appointments so you can keep yourself organized and on top of things.

From Google’s announement:

  • Reminders stick around – If a reminder isn’t completed, it will appear at the top of your calendar until you mark it done.
  • Reminders work across Google – Reminders you create in Inbox, Keep, and the Google app will also show in Google Calendar.
  • Reminders sync with mobile – Reminders created in mobile show up on the web and vice versa. So you can stay on track from just about anywhere.

The feature is set to begin rolling out this week to everyone.

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5
Apr

Twitter adds new Message button to quickly share tweets with DM contacts


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Twitter users now have a faster way to share other tweets with the people that they choose to Direct Message. A new Message button has been added to its Android and iOS apps that allows that to happen much more quickly than before.

Twitter says:

Every day, millions of people send Direct Messages to communicate privately with friends, family, experts, brands, and anyone else they find interesting on Twitter. In fact, we’ve seen the number of messages sent grow over 60% in 2015. And the number of Tweets shared privately has grown even faster, at 200% in just the second half of last year.

With all this interest, we’ve also heard from many of you that it could be easier to share a Tweet using Direct Message. So now — in just a few taps — you can share unique Twitter content from your timeline right into your private conversation.

The new Message button makes it even easier to send Tweets privately to friends: https://t.co/S3LMsTqW9l pic.twitter.com/HEdCxSn9RA

— Twitter (@twitter) April 5, 2016

This is just the latest addition for Direct Message support on Twitter. The company has increased the DM character limit to 10,000 and added the ability to send GIF images, among other things.

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