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13
Apr

Samsung’s S7 edge Wireless Charging Battery Pack is convenient and extremely well-built


I have been using the Samsung Galaxy S7 edge for just about a month now, and have been reviewing as many accessories as I possibly can. In the past couple of weeks I have reviewed the LED Flip cover, the S-View Clear Flip cover, and the 5200mAh Portable Fast Charging battery pack. After using several official Samsung accessories, I have come to the conclusion that they are some of the best you can get.

If you’ve stuck with me through all of my reviews, I want to thank you. It is a lot to read about, and I have just one more case I think you should care about – the Samsung Galaxy S7 edge Wireless Charging Battery Pack.

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Specs

  • MSRP $89.99
  • Qi wireless charging
  • 3100mAh (although the official product page states 3400mAh, but the packaging states 3100mAh)
  • Pass through charging
  • 8.53mm thick
  • 2.65” x 0.7”x 5.6”

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Usage

The first thing you notice about the Wireless Charging Battery Pack for the Samsung Galaxy S7 edge is its incredible build quality. Like the other official Samsung cases I reviewed, this one lives up to the same standards. It is made from a soft, almost silicone like plastic that is textured on the back and extremely comfortable to hold. The sides are firm, but soft enough to let the S7 edge slide in and out with ease.

The case itself doesn’t seem to be designed to protect the front of your phone as it doesn’t have the typical raised sides that other cases have.

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I would venture to guess that Samsung did that to keep the profile as slim as possible. The Wireless Charging Battery Pack is already thicker than the S7 edge at 8.53mm, so Samsung probably saved a millimeter or two by not adding this lip.

The Wireless Charging Battery Pack has a microUSB port on the top for charging the battery pack, which leaves the bottom of your phone open to use your 3.5mm jack, speaker, as well as the charging port. The 3100mAh battery uses Qi wireless charging to charge you phone, making this battery extremely convenient for on-the-go users who don’t always use cases.

I get about 50-60% additional charge with this battery pack when my phone is on, even though it is just 500mAh smaller than the 3600mAh battery built into the S7 edge. When my phone is off, I get closer to 80% charge from 0%.

Having a wireless charging battery pack is convenient and something I never have used before in a case. The phone slides in and out with ease making it perfect for when I need additional power to get me through a hard day of usage on my S7 edge.

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Summary

This case is made for the S7 edge and only the S7 edge. Don’t expect to be able to use it with other USB powered devices since it does not have a USB output port. With a price tag of $89.99, this case is a pricey option.

However, Samsung Galaxy S7 edge users typically don’t shy away from high price tags when it comes to paying for quality since the phone itself runs about $800. Samsung’s Wireless Charging Battery Pack is a unique one, but one worth getting if you have the cash.

Get the Samsung Galaxy S7 edge Wireless Charging Battery Pack at Amazon.com for $89.99.

You can check out my other reviews here:

LED Flip Cover review

S-View Flip Clear Cover review

5200mAh fast charging portable battery

Keyboard cover for the S7 edge review

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13
Apr

Blocky Raider: an 8-bit casual game that feels very familiar (review)


Screenshot_20160402-104212What happens when you combine equal elements of Indiana Jones, Atari’s classic game Pitfall, and Crossy Road? Something tells me that you already know the answer. I recently installed Blocky Raider a game from Full Fat Games and have find myself enjoying the casual title.

The premise of the game is rather simple: keep moving forward as far as you can without falling victim to some sort of obstacle. Whether that is spinning saw blades, a trapdoor, spikes, or something else, there’s plenty to try to stop you. As you might suspect, it starts out pretty easy and then gets increasingly more troublesome.

Blocky Raider is an 8-bit approach that feels all too familiar as of late. Not that this is necessarily a bad thing, but it is becoming an increasingly crowded space. Specifically, I’m talking about games that have blocky characters that feel at home in Minecraft, Crossy Road, or any of the innumerable knock-offs.

Mechanics

Mechanics are very simple: tap the screen to move forward and swipe in whatever direction you need to go. Whichever way you move, characters hop one block at a time.

Things are laid out nice and evenly across the screen with a very slow pan from top to bottom. You’ll want to move somewhat quickly to the next screens in the game; moving backwards could result in death. It’s not unlike PAC-MAN 256 Endless Maze here.

General Details

The top left of the screen keeps track of how many steps forward you have taken. The goal, of course, is to go as far as you can without dying. As you move about, you will pick up gold coins along the way. Said coins can be used to open gifts which is essentially unlocking other characters to play.

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I have not found any hard reason to unlock other characters just yet. In my experiences, it’s only a superficial and aesthetic difference. For what it’s worth, you can purchase and unlock individual characters for $0.99 apiece. With more than 120 to choose from, it might be the perfect completionist and OCD game for some.

Graphics

The color palette is nice, albeit a little bit dark. I would have liked to have seen a little more of outside environments or a general change of scenery. Most of the time is spent in a Temple of Doom-like space.

The arena evolves and starts fresh every time, but it does get old. Play for any length of time and you may find yourself getting a little bit bored with it. I just would have liked to play this in a desert or jungle climate with different obstacles.

Screenshot_20160407-101228Nevertheless, I enjoy picking the game up and playing when I have a couple of minutes to kill. When I’m waiting for my food to finish in the microwave or for something simple to pass the time, Blocky Raider is a fun pick-it-up-and-put-it-down game. Doctor’s offices, parking lots, and the occasional trip to the restroom. (Don’t judge me. You do it, too.)

Music

The music in this game instantly reminded me of something that you would hear in a nineties video game or from the Nintendo era. Personally, I can’t help but think of Mega Man. Do note that it can get a little bit repetitive though if you play for extended lengths of time. If you’d like, you can also simply turn it off in the settings menu.

Other Details

Blocky Raider ties into Google Play Games so you can see how you fare against those in your circles or against the rest of the world. Moreover, you can also check to see what achievements you may have unlocked. For instance you can get experience points for crossing 30 steps or, say, 50 steps. As of today there appear to be 29 achievements you can unlock in the game.

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The game does have its share of advertisements but they are not all that intrusive. I find that I’m only presented with a full-screen ad every few times my character dies. I have seen much worse from other developers. In a related note, it’s possible to pick up some extra coins simply by checking out other games from the Play Store. Is it a little bit of bribery? Sure, but it’s nothing I haven’t seen elsewhere. Call it a mix of advertising and incentive.

Conclusion

If you’re the type of person who likes to pick up a game and put it down at a moment’s notice, Blocky Raider is one that I would recommend checking out. It’s fun, cute, and easy to get hooked. You might go mad with the music once in a while, but that’s hardly a deal breaker.

Download Blocky Raider for free in the Google Play Store

13
Apr

Realms support coming to Minecraft Pocket Edition, test it now on Android


Mojang has revealed that one of the most popular features of the PC version of Minecraft, Realms, will soon be available for the Pocket and Windows 10 versions of the popular sandbox games.

What is Realms? Mojang says:

Minecraft Realms is the easiest way to play Minecraft together with your friends and family. Realms worlds are always online and can only be accessed by an approved group of people. Though it’s nice to have some alone time, there’s something really special about creating and adventuring as a group. Realms makes that really easy to do.

When Realms goes live, it will support cross-platform play on the iOS, Android and Windows Phone Pocket version of Minecraft, along with the native Windows 10 version, via an Xbox Live account. Mojang added:

Yes – we have to keep the servers running 24/7, so Minecraft Realms is a paid service. We’re not ready to share our pricing plan quite yet. You won’t need an Xbox Live Gold subscription to use the service.

Mojang is currently allowing Android players of Minecraft Pocket Edition to download an alpha build of the game with Realms support to test it out. There’s no word yet on when Realms will be officially added to the Minecraft mobile versions.

Download the alpha version of Minecraft for Android with Realms support

13
Apr

Customers band together to track HTC Vive shipments


Several frustrated people who pre-ordered the HTC Vive VR headset have banded together to track Vive shipments across the U.S. to see if there is some sort of method to HTC’s delivery system. With their site, aptly named Vive.lol, the group has crowd-sourced shipment and delivery data for, as of this writing, 1,735 users. The site breaks down that data, which is collected from a survey, as well as the Vive subreddit.

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The centerpiece of the site are the charts, which include two pie charts, one for Vive shipment status, and the other for payment methods. You can select the individual pie pieces on both charts, then see how the included map of the U.S. and the order time graph change. So, if you select ‘Yes’ under Shipped, then ‘Card’ under Payment methods, you’ll see the map highlight locations where orders purchased with a credit card have shipped.

The site also breaks down data into different tables, such as Reddit users. You can filter people by location, payment method, and whether or not their Vive has shipped. The table offers additional details, such as when orders have shipped and how many interactions that particular Reddit post received.

13
Apr

Comparing the two rear cameras in the LG G5


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Choosing when to use either of LG’s rear cameras leads to some fascinating results.

The back of the LG G5 features a pair of cameras, which by now isn’t new information. You’ve got one 16MP “standard” camera that shoots like just about any other high-end smartphone camera out there today, and a separate 8MP “wide” camera that captures images behind a 135-degree lens. LG offers a pair of modes in the camera app that allows you to use these two cameras together, but most of the time you’ll be choosing between the two when capturing an image.

Knowing this, we decided to compare the LG G5 against itself to see which camera you’d want to use and when. Here are our results. Click any of the smaller photos for a larger look!

At the Bar

This is one of those situations where more isn’t necessarily better. The bottles are a lot less clear in the wide shot, and the lens distortion on the edges of the image make everything look a little off. Both cameras handled the relatively low light well, and the autofocus on each did a great job.

In the Brewery

The wide shot gives an impressive sense of scale here, and the lens distortion is a lot less noticeable. Unfortunately, that wide lens is really good at catching the edge of your finger if it’s hanging too far off the back of the phone. Gotta make sure you’re paying attention when shooting wide!

Overcast Flowers

The break in the rain was just enough to rush out and grab a few photos of these flowers, and in that rush you can see the autofocus on the main camera aimed a little too far back. Most of the flowers are a little blurry in that standard shot, but on the wide lens everything looks amazing. Being this close made the lens distortion all but disappear, resulting in a fantastic photo.

Don’t whiz on the electric fence

Lit only by the yellow street lamp a few feet behind the camera, you can some significant differences in these two photos. The wide show is far noisier than the standard shot, which handled the low light about as well as you can expect any high-end camera to. It’s clear low light isn’t where the wide camera is meant to be used.

What a beautiful day

Wide shots are fantastic for scenes like this, and while both cameras took exceptional photos in this set it’s clear which one is the most visually impactful. The lens distortion gives this shot an artful effect, which really makes the photo look special.

Rainy tables

As great as the wide lens was for that last photo set, it doesn’t work well in this scene. The lens distortion makes everything look odd, and the “distance” added to the tables makes the picture far less enjoyable than the standard shot. The closed courtyard here is clearly better shot in standard.

Alexandria Underground

Hallways and tunnels are one of those environments where it doesn’t matter if you’re shooting in wide or not. What really matters is the kind of photo you want to take. If your goal is to focus on how long the tunnel is, the wide shot is fantastic. If you’re goal it to capture detail and texture, like the brickwork in this underground tunnel, the standard shot is going to be what you’re looking for.

These photos were resized to better fit the web, but were otherwise unedited. You can check out the full resolution version of these photos here. When you’re done, let us know what you think of having the ability to instantly shift to shooting wide in the comments.

LG G5

  • LG G5 review
  • LG 360 Cam review
  • LG G5 complete specs
  • LG’s G5 Friends modules are a neat idea, but they won’t matter
  • LG G5 B&O Hi-Fi audio module
  • Join the LG G5 discussion

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13
Apr

Samsung Galaxy J7, LG G Stylo 2 and Kyocera Hydro REACH head to Boost and Virgin Mobile on April 15


On April 15, Boost Mobile and Virgin Mobile will begin carrying three new budget smartphones. The Samsung Galaxy J7, LG G Stylo 2 and Kyocera Hydro REACH will all be available on April 15, and all priced under $230. Each phone offers something a bit different than the others. For example, Kyocera’s Hydro REACH has a 5-inch QHD display and is both dust and waterproof, with Wet Touchscreen Operation. It runs Android 5.1 and comes with 1GB of RAM and 8GB of internal storage.

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The LG G Stylo 2 has a larger 5.7-inch display with an embedded stylus, along with 2GB of RAM and 16GB of internal storage with Android Marshmallow pre-loaded on it. The 3000mAh battery should provide plenty of power to get you through the day. Finally, the Galaxy J7 from Samsung has a 5.5-inch Super AMOLED HD display with 2GB of RAM and 16GB of storage. Out of the box, this phone runs Android 6.0, Marshmallow as well.

Pricing for the Hydro REACH will come in at $99 plus tax, and it will be available from both Boost and Virgin Mobile on the same day. LG’s G Stylo 2 will run $179 plus tax, and hits Boost Mobile on April 15, followed by Virgin Mobile on May 9. Finally, Samsung’s Galaxy J7 will run $229 when it is made available from both carriers on April 15.

  • See at Boost Mobile
  • See at Virgin Mobile

13
Apr

This simple tweak fixes the most infuriating thing about Huawei’s EMUI


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‘PureIcons’ lets you free your app icons from Huawei’s obsessive squirclization.

Using the Huawei P9 over the past week has made me appreciate the progress the Chinese firm has made in fixing up its EMUI software layer to the point where basically nothing is overtly broken. But I’ve also become reacquainted with the more overbearing parts of Huawei’s UI — its… unique… way of handling Android notifications, its paranoid power consumption notifications and, of course, its insistence on being all up in your icons.

As you’ll know if you use a Huawei (or Honor) phone, the icons used for its built-in apps, Google’s apps and many popular third-party apps are controlled by EMUI’s theming system. Here’s an example of how it looks out of the box:

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Most third-party app icons in Huawei’s themes are either out-of-date or just plain look bad.

Most themes unify the look of your home screen by placing them on rounded rectangles or squared-off circles (“squircles”). In some cases that looks fine. In others, you get the white Google Play Store icon on a white rectangle, or a green Hangouts icon on a green squricle. It just doesn’t look great.

More annoyingly, because these icons are built into the theme, they’re almost never up-to-date. The Huawei P9 still has the old Google Chrome icon. And good luck seeing the updated Google Play icons loaded on a Huawei phone anytime soon. (A custom launcher with its own icon pack is a way to sidestep this problem, however Huawei’s app icons would still show outside the launcher.)

In any case, it’s an annoying bit of visual dissonance that’s impossible to unsee. But fortunately, there’s a simple fix.

XDA forums user MrAdny has created a tiny, barebones Huawei theme file to reverse most of this terribleness. His “PureIcons” pack leaves the rest of EMUI untouched, but replaces all the weird customized versions of popular app icons with their proper versions. And because of the way the skin is configured, other third-party apps not explicitly customized will just display their regular icons, without any rectangular background.

Installing PureIcons is pretty simple — it just involves downloading a .hwt file, then placing it in the “HWThemes” folder on your internal storage, then applying it from within the Themes app.

The result? Something much more palatable:

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Because of the way Huawei themes work, PureIcons will need to be updated with newer icons for Google apps as they become available, however the author has already been updating his work with new icons over the past couple of months. (And in any case, it’s pretty easy to hack open Huawei’s theme files, which are basically just ZIP archives.)

Huawei users, be sure to hit the comments let us know if you’re using this or any other UI tweaks on your device — and whether you’ll be happily living a squircle-free existence from now on.

Source: PureIcons on XDA

Huawei P9 and P9 Plus

  • Huawei unveils the P9!
  • Huawei P9 and P9 Plus hands-on
  • Huawei P9 specs
  • Huawei P9 unboxing
  • Join the discussion in the forums

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13
Apr

Second Android N Developer Preview now available


Google has released the second Android N Developer Preview, bringing with it a number of changes. This build includes the Vulkan rendering API, launcher shortcuts, and Unicode 9 emoji support. In addition, there are a number of bug fixes, like for hidden Wi-Fi networks, Direct Reply issues and more.

Google noted some of the big changes in the official announcement post:

  • Vulkan: Vulkan is a new 3D rendering API which we’ve helped to develop as a member of Khronos, geared at providing explicit, low-overhead GPU (Graphics Processor Unit) control to developers and offers a significant boost in performance for draw-call heavy applications. Vulkan’s reduction of CPU overhead allows some synthetic benchmarks to see as much as 10 times the draw-call throughput on a single core as compared to OpenGL ES.
  • Launcher shortcuts: Now, apps can define shortcuts which users can expose in the launcher to help them perform actions quicker. These shortcuts contain an Intent into specific points within your app (like sending a message to your best friend, navigating home in a mapping app, or playing the next episode of a TV show in a media app).
  • Emoji Unicode 9 support: We are introducing a new emoji design for people emoji that moves away from our generic look in favor of a more human-looking design. If you’re a keyboard or messaging app developer, you should start incorporating these emoji into your apps. The update also introduces support for skin tone variations and Unicode 9 glyphs, like the bacon, selfie and face palm.

The new factory images are now available, and the OTA version should begin rolling out shortly.

Android N Developer Preview

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The Android N Developer Preview is just that — a developer preview. It is not intended for daily use. That doesn’t mean it’s not cool, and that you shouldn’t poke around. But know that things will break. Tread carefully. (And have fun!)

  • What’s new in Android N
  • All Android N news
  • About the Android Beta Program
  • Download system images
  • Android N easter egg
  • Join the Discussion

13
Apr

Stunt flying made easy: Two great drone deals


Aspiring stunt fliers, have we got great news for you. These two great SKEYE drone deals will get you airborne in no time, with easy-to-learn flight methods and guaranteed flying fun.

SKEYE Nano Drone: £24.07 ($34)

The world’s smallest quadcopter couldn’t possibly be more fun – or affordable. If you’ve never flown a drone before, the learning curve couldn’t be easier with the SKEYE Nano. Ready to fly straight out of the box, this high-thrust lightweight drone is perfect for stunt flying, with a 6-axis flight control system enabling banked turns, flips and figure eights – quick adaptations even for rookie pilots.

Beginner, intermediate and advanced flight modes assure a confident flying experience through the 7-10 minute total flight time per charge, with a flight range of up to 50 meters. At night, the LED lights are great for a little UFO speculation among friends, while crash landings are a bit less scary with 4x spare rotors included.

Pick up your own Skeye Nano Drone for just £24.07 ($34) on Pocket-lint Deals.

SKEYE Hexa Drone: £28.31 ($39.99)

A big brother to the SKEYE Nano, the SKEYE Hexa Drone is a next-generation drone with jaw-dropping stunt-flying capabilities. Ensuring a comfortable flying experience, Hexa delivers ultimate control with enhanced stability thanks to the six-axis flight control system.

Everyone from beginners to stunt-flying champions will love the Hexa, which fits into the palm of your hand and is ready to fly right out of the box. The three-level adjustable controller provides extra sensitivity for beginners, mid-level users and experts. The adjustable gyro sensitivity will make the drone’s aerobatic functionality a no-brainer, and you’re protected against crashes with propeller bumpers.

Additionally, the Hexa’s bright LED lights make for endless adventurous night-flying fun.

Get the SKEYE Hexa Drone for just £28.31 ($39.99) on Pocket-lint Deals.

13
Apr

Facebook unveils two new wireless systems for underserved areas


At its annual F8 developer conference, Facebook announced two new wireless systems meant to help bring internet access to underserved areas. One system will tackle pushing broadband through the buildings found in dense cities while the other is meant to increase the bandwidth of towers.

The Terragraph is a 60GHz network node that can penetrate the buildings in a dense urban areas. While 60GHz is ideal for getting connectivity through walls, it’s not so great over long distances. So Facebook says it will place the devices every 200 to 250 meters. It will help add broadband to areas where it’s too cost prohibitive to add fiber lines.

Facebook announced that it would be testing the system in the city of San Jose.

While the ARIES (Antenna Radio Integration for Efficiency in Spectrum) system is a proof-of-concept that will expand the amount of users that can be connected simultaneously to a tower. Usually when you want to support more devices per tower you can have to increase the electromagnetic radio frequency range. The ARIES tower has 96 antennas and uses “spatial multiplexing” (multiple data stream transmitted at the same time) to handle 24 streams on a single spectrum. It’s meant to work in less dense areas over long distances.

Both of these pieces of tech are meant for areas where wireless access is either non-existent or extremely slow. CEO Mark Zuckerberg talked about Free Basics platform to bring gratis internet access to people that might not have be able to get online otherwise during his keynote at the start of the conference.

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