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3
May

China nabs world record for biggest drone display, but it’s a bit of a mess


Drones are flying their way into lots of industries, transforming the way businesses conduct their operations and helping companies work more efficiently.

Already well established in the movie business, the remotely controlled flying machines are also being used in agriculture, maintenance, and police work. Delivery services are a target, too, with Amazon and others keen to use the technology to launch full-fledged operations as soon as regulators allow.

But how about drones for entertainment, as in “drone shows” for audiences? It’s already happening, with Intel having partnered with Disney to produce night-time aerial displays in Florida using hundreds of drones sparkling with LED lights.

Another company, Ehang — better known for its larger “flying taxi” than its smaller Ghostdrone quadcopter — is also getting into the game, and this week nabbed the world record from Intel for the most drones flying in a single display.

But according to a report from the South China Morning Post, some of the drones refused to play ball.

China-based Ehang deployed its fleet of 1,374 Ghostdrones at a Labour Day show in the city of Xi’an, about 500 miles south-west of Beijing. Besides entertaining hordes of spectators, the aim was also to beat Intel’s record when it flew 1,218 drones at the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic Games in February.

Ehang’s display lasted 13 minutes and spread across a distance of more than 0.6 miles (1 km). It looks spectacular in the company’s just-released video (above), but the Post pointed out that some of the maneuvers appeared to fail.

It seems the computer-driven control hub back on the ground suffered a glitch, resulting in about half the drones failing to fly into position, messing up the creation of various Chinese characters. Footage from another video (below) appears to show at least one of the quadcopters tumbling to the ground during the display.

Despite the mishaps, Guinness World Records was still happy to award the record to Ehang for its efforts, while the company is said to be preparing a statement to explain what caused the drones to fly out of sync.

Ehang had been building up to its record attempt. In March last year, the company launched 1,000 of its drones in Guangzhou as part of Chinese Lantern Festival celebrations.

Editors’ Recommendations

  • Drone-catching drones to bolster security at this week’s Winter Olympics
  • Do more with your drone: 5 things you can do with a UAV (aside from taking pics)
  • There is a good reason why this drone flies near aircraft
  • CEO takes ride in passenger drone to demonstrate that it’s safe
  • Watch a drone lose control and crash onto Apple Park’s solar roof


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3
May

Nokia 6.1 has Android One, takes funky ‘Bothie’ pictures, and is yours for $270


Remember the Nokia 6 (2018) revealed at Mobile World Congress, and how it wasn’t drastically different from the Nokia 6 (2017) launched the year before? Good, because now HMD Global has added another Nokia 6 phone to the list, and the main alteration relates to the name and where it will be sold. This is the Nokia 6.1, and it’s coming to the U.S. on May 6.

If you were excited about the Nokia 6 (2018), you’ll be excited about this one too, because it’s practically identical. The Nokia 6 was given a European price and confirmed release at MWC, without much noise about the United States. The Nokia 6.1 is going to be sold in the U.S. through Best Buy and Amazon for $270 — a far cheaper price than when converting over the 280 euro price of the Nokia 6.

What do you get? An aluminum unibody with a 5.5-inch IPS LCD display that has a 1920 x 1080 pixel resolution. This isn’t a bezel-less phone with an 18:9 aspect ratio — it sticks rigidly to tradition when it comes to the screen. The camera on the back has a single 16 megapixel lens, and around front is an 8-megapixel camera. Using Nokia’s Dual-Sight feature, you can take a picture with both cameras at the same time. Not surprisingly, these are called Bothies, and they’re way more fun that you may expect.

A Snapdragon 630 processor powers the phone, but at the time of writing we don’t know if it comes with 3GB or 4GB of RAM, or how much storage space will be available. Two versions of the Nokia 6 exist: one with 3GB/32GB and the other with 4GB/64GB.

One of our favorite features of the new Nokia 6 is Android One. By including this almost stock version of Google’s Android operating system, the phone will receive timely version and security updates, and won’t be hobbled by masses of bloatware. It’s a major selling point for Nokia’s 2018 range of phones.

The Nokia 6.1 has a 3,000mAh battery with fast-charging using a USB Type-C port, and a fingerprint sensor on the back.

The black/copper colored Nokia 6.1 will arrive at Best Buy and Amazon on May 6 for $270. We haven’t tried this one out yet, but expect it to be the same as the Nokia 6 we used at MWC 2018.

Editors’ Recommendations

  • HMD announces an all new Nokia 6 for 2018 at Mobile World Congress
  • Nokia 6 (2018) hands-on review
  • Nokia 6 (2018) vs. Lenovo Moto G5S Plus: Can Nokia take out the budget champion?
  • Big-screen Nokia 7 Plus featuring Android One announced at Mobile World Congress
  • HMD Global’s Nokia 8 Sirocco is a breath of fresh air on Android One


3
May

Dell, HP may be building premium Chromebooks to compete with Google Pixelbook


New Chromebooks built to compete with Google’s premium Pixelbook are reportedly in the works at Dell, HP, and three other manufacturers. Targeting professionals, they are expected to arrive in the latter half of 2018 sporting high resolutions, seventh-generation Intel processors, and up to 16GB of system memory. They’ll also supposedly support the Wake on Voice feature provided with Google Assistant. 

Typically, the Chrome OS team relies on a single “master board” when designing a new wave of Chromebooks. This master board is spun off into a number of variants for each Chromebook manufacturer. In this wave, the master board that is reportedly dubbed “Nami” that produced five variants: Akali, Nami, Pantheon, Sona, and Vayne. Sona is believed to be HP’s variant while Vayne is linked to Dell. 

That said, all five variants are expected to rely on high-voltage seventh-generation Intel processors, requiring internal fans to keep them cool. The actual model numbers are unknown at this point, but they are expected to be more powerful than Chromebooks supplied without fans. Presumably these Chromebooks will rely on integrated graphics given that you never see a Chromebook with a discrete graphics chip. 

Outside the processor aspect, the new Chromebooks are expected to include 8GB or 16GB of system memory, depending on the model, and backlit keyboards save for the Akali variant. As for storage, the hardware type is up in the air: will they use soldered eMMC storage or PCIe NVMe M.2 SSDs? 

Finally, the Nami design indicates that the upcoming Chromebooks will sport a 360-degree form factor packing screens with a 2,400 x 1,600 pixel resolution. But manufacturers could decide to use different screens with different resolutions to better distinguish their products from the competition. 

Google launched its premium Pixelbook in October 2017. With a starting price of $999, it features a 12.3-inch screen with a 2,400 x 1,600 resolution backed by a seventh-generation Intel Core i5 or i7 processor. It also provides 8GB or 16GB of system memory and between 128GB to 512GB of NVMe M.2 SSD storage, depending on your configuration. 

The last Chromebooks manufactured for enterprise shipped in 2016. Since then, Google in August 2017 launched Chrome Enterprise, a subscription service built for businesses relying on Chrome OS-based devices. Costing $50 per device each year, the service provides IT with tools for managing Chrome OS services and devices. 

Chromebooks currently classified by Google as enterprise solutions include the Acer Chromebook 14, the Samsung Chromebook Pro, the HP Chromebook 14, the Lenovo Thinkpad 13 Chromebook, and more.  For instance, Samsung’s model attempts to compete with the Pixelbook packing a sixth-generation Intel processor, 4GB of system memory, 32GB of storage, and a 12.3-inch screen with a 2,400 x 1,600 resolution for a lighter $599. 

Meanwhile, development of the new enterprise wave is still in the early stages, so they’re not expected to appear until the fall or winter. There’s also no information regarding stylus support, but the upcoming Chromebooks are expected to run Linux-based apps along with Android apps from Google Play.

Google will likely talk more about Linux-based apps running on Chrome OS during its developers conference next week.


3
May

Dell, HP may be building premium Chromebooks to compete with Google Pixelbook


New Chromebooks built to compete with Google’s premium Pixelbook are reportedly in the works at Dell, HP, and three other manufacturers. Targeting professionals, they are expected to arrive in the latter half of 2018 sporting high resolutions, seventh-generation Intel processors, and up to 16GB of system memory. They’ll also supposedly support the Wake on Voice feature provided with Google Assistant. 

Typically, the Chrome OS team relies on a single “master board” when designing a new wave of Chromebooks. This master board is spun off into a number of variants for each Chromebook manufacturer. In this wave, the master board that is reportedly dubbed “Nami” that produced five variants: Akali, Nami, Pantheon, Sona, and Vayne. Sona is believed to be HP’s variant while Vayne is linked to Dell. 

That said, all five variants are expected to rely on high-voltage seventh-generation Intel processors, requiring internal fans to keep them cool. The actual model numbers are unknown at this point, but they are expected to be more powerful than Chromebooks supplied without fans. Presumably these Chromebooks will rely on integrated graphics given that you never see a Chromebook with a discrete graphics chip. 

Outside the processor aspect, the new Chromebooks are expected to include 8GB or 16GB of system memory, depending on the model, and backlit keyboards save for the Akali variant. As for storage, the hardware type is up in the air: will they use soldered eMMC storage or PCIe NVMe M.2 SSDs? 

Finally, the Nami design indicates that the upcoming Chromebooks will sport a 360-degree form factor packing screens with a 2,400 x 1,600 pixel resolution. But manufacturers could decide to use different screens with different resolutions to better distinguish their products from the competition. 

Google launched its premium Pixelbook in October 2017. With a starting price of $999, it features a 12.3-inch screen with a 2,400 x 1,600 resolution backed by a seventh-generation Intel Core i5 or i7 processor. It also provides 8GB or 16GB of system memory and between 128GB to 512GB of NVMe M.2 SSD storage, depending on your configuration. 

The last Chromebooks manufactured for enterprise shipped in 2016. Since then, Google in August 2017 launched Chrome Enterprise, a subscription service built for businesses relying on Chrome OS-based devices. Costing $50 per device each year, the service provides IT with tools for managing Chrome OS services and devices. 

Chromebooks currently classified by Google as enterprise solutions include the Acer Chromebook 14, the Samsung Chromebook Pro, the HP Chromebook 14, the Lenovo Thinkpad 13 Chromebook, and more.  For instance, Samsung’s model attempts to compete with the Pixelbook packing a sixth-generation Intel processor, 4GB of system memory, 32GB of storage, and a 12.3-inch screen with a 2,400 x 1,600 resolution for a lighter $599. 

Meanwhile, development of the new enterprise wave is still in the early stages, so they’re not expected to appear until the fall or winter. There’s also no information regarding stylus support, but the upcoming Chromebooks are expected to run Linux-based apps along with Android apps from Google Play.

Google will likely talk more about Linux-based apps running on Chrome OS during its developers conference next week.


3
May

How to talk to every Amazon Echo in your house at the same time


Using your Echo to talk to your entire house is just one voice command away.

It’s no secret that your Amazon Echo is capable of a multitude of different features, and one of my favorites that seems to have slipped under the rug this year is called Alexa Announcements.

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Similar to Google Home’s Broadcast feature, Alexa Announcements allows you to use your Echo or smartphone to send a message to all of your connected Alexa speakers. For example, instead of yelling up and downstairs that dinner is ready, you can talk in a normal voice and have Alexa send your message throughout your entire house.

Alexa Announcements can be incredibly handy at times, and thankfully, using it is as easy as can be.

How to use Alexa Announcements from an Echo speaker

To use the feature from another Echo speaker, simply say:

  • Alexa, announce that…
  • Alexa, tell everyone…
  • Alexa, broadcast…

…followed by whatever you want to say.

After you initiate your command, the Echo you’re talking to will say “announcing” and then relay the message to all of the Echo speakers that are connected to your Amazon account (excluding the one you spoke to).

How to use Alexa Announcements from your phone

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Alternatively, Alexa Announcements can also be used from your phone. If you just got out of the office and want to let your significant other know you’re on the way home, tap on the blue Alexa icon near the bottom of the Alexa app and say your message prefaced by one of the three hot words mentioned above.

Alexa on your phone will say “announcing”, and all of the Echos at your home will play back your message.

That’s it

With that said, that’s really all you need to know about Alexa Announcements! It’s an incredibly easy feature to use, and at the same time, can also be one of the most helpful. If you need more help or want to share your favorite uses for Alexa Announcements, sound off in the comments below!

Amazon Echo

  • Tap, Echo or Dot: The ultimate Alexa question
  • All about Alexa Skills
  • Amazon Echo review
  • Echo Dot review
  • Echo Spot review
  • Top Echo Tips & Tricks
  • Amazon Echo vs. Google Home
  • Get the latest Alexa news

See at Amazon

3
May

Sign up for Google’s User Research program and help guide Android’s future — Here’s how!


Sign up for the Google User Research Experience.

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Google doesn’t build Android in a vacuum (literally and figuratively). The company works with many people, including Android users like you, to add features, improve performance, and make the OS better, year after year.

One way you can help is by signing up for the Google User Research Experience, which gives you access to unreleased products, services, and Android features before anyone else. By signing up, you participate in studies (and get cool incentives when you do) that can help shape the future of Google and Android, and your experience within that ecosystem.

The commitment is pretty minimal, but the really cool part about it is that you join a growing community of people doing the same thing — helping make Android better, and Google better informed about what users want. We even have a forum you can visit after signing up, where you can meet other participants and discuss the things you’re allowed to discuss.

Are you interested? Sign up for the Google User Research Experience now and then jump into the forums to learn more!

Sign up now!

3
May

Best text messaging apps for Android as of May 2018


best-text-messaging-apps-june2017.jpg?it

There are plenty of great text messaging apps to choose from, and these are some of our favorites.

Text messaging is a big part of phone use for many people, and while all phones come with native messaging clients, they can be painfully, horribly bad. Some native text messaging apps don’t handle MMS the way we’d like. Some native text messaging apps are laid out poorly. Some are just lacking. Thankfully we have the option to use one of many, many third-party SMS clients — some of which are minimal messaging apps, and others that offer features above and beyond the rest.

Textra

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A long-time favorite, Textra is a clean-looking SMS app with plenty of features for hardcore users. Textra offers a slew of customization options with various theme colors, notifications, and per-contact settings. Want to make your text messages look like iMessage? Textra can look amazingly like an iPhone. Want to set special colors and notification tones for texting your boyfriend versus texting your parents? Textra is there to help. There’s built-in SMS scheduling, quick replies, improved group messaging, SMS blocking and more.

Download Textra (Free, in-app purchases)

Android Messages

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Android Messages is the rebranded version of Google’s Messenger app, and it features a simple interface and plenty of features for the average user without going overboard with bells and whistles. It also supports Google’s RCS features, which allow for iMessage or WhatsApp-like features like read receipts and larger file transfers as long as your carrier supports it. If you’re just looking for a dependable, simple text messenger that will work well, support RCS, and do MMS right, Android Messages has got you. Messages has also implemented Android Oreo’s notification settings to allow you to set individual notification tones and settings on a per conversation basis.

Download Download Android Messages (free)

Pulse SMS

pulse-messaging-hero-htc10-purple-green.

Pulse SMS is an interesting and very, very customizable text messaging app in its own right, but that’s not the real draw for Pulse. Pulse is a text messaging app that helps bring your text messages to all your other devices, too, from tablets to computers. It’s a paid service, but one that multi-device users will find quickly pays for itself. Pulse has also added password-protected private conversations box, in case you need to protect the identity and messages of your sources or your side piece. Pulse, like Messages, has implemented Android Oreo’s notification settings to allow you to set individual notification tones and settings on a per conversation basis.

Download Pulse SMS (Free, in-app purchases)

Mood Messenger

mood-messaging-hero-hexagonal-s8.jpg?ito

Mood Messenger wants to be a fusion of web messengers and text messengers, and it’s certainly a tantalizing idea. If you have enough people who actually use Mood to use it as a WhatsApp alternative, great for you, but for the rest of us, Mood is still worth a look as a solid SMS app with an interesting UI, dedicated themes, and excellent developer support. Mood also had the option for a Quick Compose persistent notification with a user-selected group of contacts so that they can quickly rattle off a quick text without having to go to the full app, and it is the easiest app to set custom notification tones for contacts in.

Download Mood Messenger (Free)

Your favorite?

What are some of your favorite text messaging apps? Hit up the comments and let us know!

Updated May 2018: We’ve updated this article to reflect Android Oreo notification channels and recent updates to the apps.

3
May

What are your first impressions of the LG G7 ThinQ?


A mixed bag of reactions.

Following months of rumors, leaked images, and reports that the phone had been killed off entirely, LG has finally unveiled its latest flagship – the G7 ThinQ.

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At first glance, the LG G7 has most of what you’d expect from a 2018 flagship. There’s a 6.1-inch bezel-light screen with a notch at the top, Snapdragon 845 processor, dual-rear cameras, and IP68 dust/water resistance.

LG’s trying to make the G7 stand out with a wide-angle secondary camera on the back and a 3.5mm headphone jack with a quad DAC, but will these little touches be enough to steer people away from the likes of the Galaxy S9 and Pixel 2?

A lot of our forum users have already started sharing their thoughts on LG’s latest, and this is what they have to say so far.

avatar2453845_2.gifchanchan05
05-02-2018 09:48 AM

If you’re already on the V30, don’t bother. If coming from the G6 or earlier, it’s a no brainer.

Reply

avatar1754025_105.gifD13H4RD2L1V3
05-02-2018 10:34 AM

One word. Meh

The phone looks alright and it does many things we’d have expected but LG still doesn’t get launches.

There’s still no launch info yet. Maybe it’ll be out tomorrow (hopefully) but if LG mucks this one up again, it will once again be under appreciated

Reply

avatar1336033_3.gifeak1570
05-03-2018 01:07 AM

This is a nice phone but unfortunately I think LG will be late again. ( I had LG V30 and really like the phone)
1. No release date yet again (I don’t know why LG always announced the phone with pre-production software and no release date) Big Company like Apple , Samsung , You can pre order the phone within 3-4 days and the phone will ship in 2 weeks.
2. Upcoming Oneplus 6 ( Oneplus will…

Reply

avatar2586091_12.gifgendo667
05-02-2018 11:43 AM

Just watched a couple of videos on my break and I’ll consider this device. Like Daniel Bader said, I’m cautiously optimistic. I also want to see if the new HTC device comes to the states.

Reply

What’s your take? Are you excited about the LG G7 ThinQ?

Join the conversation in the forums!

LG G7

  • LG G7 hands-on preview: All about that bass
  • LG G7 Specifications: Everything you need to know
  • Join the LG G7 forums

3
May

Best Chromebook for Students in 2018


  • Best overall
  • Best for younger students
  • Best big screen
  • Best high-end

Note: These are the best Chromebooks for students right now, but that could be changing. Acer, ASUS, and Lenovo have some exciting new models on the way and one or more may belong here.

Best overall

ASUS Chromebook C202

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See at Amazon

A student needs a laptop that is reliable, affordable and robust. The ASUS Chromebook C202 fits the mold. The Chromebook C202 was designed for students to carry back and forth to class without worry because of its rugged build and the balance of features and price make the Chromebook C202 the best choice for most people.

The bottom line: The Chromebook C202 is great for a busy student. Chrome and Android app support means you’ll be able to use it to get things done and be able to play games or watch a video during the downtime.

Why the ASUS Chromebook 202 is the best

For around $200 you can get a Chromebook that’s powerful and productive, and has extras like a rugged frame and spill-resistant keyboard tray. The Intel dual-core processor and 4GB of RAM means there is enough under the hood to get things done and the modest 16GB storage is still enough for a bit of offline storage when paired with Google Drive and docs. Android app support is an added bonus that means a student will be able to find the app they need to be productive in class.

The ASUS Chromebook C202 is exactly what most people think of when you mention a Chromebook — an inexpensive laptop designed to be easy to use and productive. You can buy Chromebooks that look nicer or have a better display if you need to, but the Chromebook C202 delivers exactly what a student needs at an amazing price.

Best for younger students

Lenovo Flex 11

flex-11-review.jpg?itok=JcDlkK73

See at Lenovo

The Lenovo Flex 11 is the perfect Chromebook for a younger student. Far from the most attractive laptop you’ll run across, the Flex 11 more than makes up for it by being built with rugged materials and designed to survive a 2.4-foot drop on a hard surface. Combined with its water-resistant keyboard, the Flex 11 can survive more of the rough-and-tumble treatment a youngster will dish out.

The Flex 11 has an industry standard MediaTek processor with 4GB of RAM and 32GB of storage, so performance and usability are on par with most other models. Android app support is an additional plus, especially when paired with the many educational apps in Google Play.

Bottom line: If you are shopping for a younger student or anyone who is a little accident-prone, the Flex 11 will take a lot more abuse than most other models and has a modest price tag.

Best big screen

Acer Chromebook R13

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See at Amazon

The Chromebook R13 offers a lot for its higher-than-average price. It has a solid metal build and nice-looking screen, with a solid (but quite standard) keyboard and trackpad. It isn’t particularly light, but much of that is because of its large battery. The only real concern here is performance and configuration options, as you’re getting a MediaTek ARM processor and can only choose to get 16, 32 or 64GB of storage — there’s no choice to get a higher-end processor or more RAM.

The addition of Android apps and a full touchscreen just add to the list of reasons why this is the right Chromebook for any student who needs something bigger.

Bottom line: If you’re happy with the base configuration and don’t need something that’s hyper-portable, this is going to be a great choice for a student who wants something a little larger than the ASUS Chromebook Flip.

Best high end

Samsung Chromebook Plus

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See at Amazon

Samsung and Google have built one of the best Chromebooks you can buy with the Samsung Chromebook Plus. It’s incredibly well built, has one of the best displays of any laptop and has the horsepower to handle anything you throw at it. And handle it well. That makes it perfect for the student who needs the very best.

The bottom line: For anyone who wants to use a Chromebook on a regular basis, and values getting extra performance and hardware quality at an added price, Samsung has made the Chromebook for you.

One more thing: There’s also a Samsung Chromebook Pro, built with a slightly faster Intel processor and available for a bit more money.

Conclusion

There are plenty of great Chromebooks for students right now, but the ASUS Chromebook C202 finds the right balance between performance and price. If you want something a bit bigger, the Acer Chromebook R 13 is cheaper and not quite as powerful, but has a great big touchscreen, while Lenovo’s Flex 11 can take a spill, and Samsung’s Chromebook Plus comes with a stylus for added productivity in certain apps. All these laptops run Android apps.

Best overall

ASUS Chromebook C202

asus-c202.jpg?itok=-FP8xHqm

See at Amazon

A student needs a laptop that is reliable, affordable and robust. The ASUS Chromebook C202 fits the mold. The Chromebook C202 was designed for students to carry back and forth to class without worry because of its rugged build and the balance of features and price make the Chromebook C202 the best choice for most people.

The bottom line: The Chromebook C202 is great for a busy student. Chrome and Android app support means you’ll be able to use it to get things done and be able to play games or watch a video during the downtime.

Update, April 2018: We’ve swapped out our top choice for the ASUS Chromebook 202, which is the perfect balance of price and performance for most students.

Chromebooks

  • The best Chromebooks
  • Chromebooks in education: Everything you need to know
  • Should you buy a Chromebook?
  • Chromebook Buyers Guide
  • Google Pixelbook review
  • Join our Chromebook forums

3
May

Nokia 6.1 officially launching in the U.S., costs $269


Available Sunday, May 6 from Amazon and Best Buy.

At the very beginning of the year, HMD Global launched a successor to the Nokia 6 in the form of the Nokia 6.1. The phone has already made its way to China and India, and now it’s officially heading to the United States.

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Beginning Sunday, May 6, you’ll be able to purchase the Nokia 6.1 from Amazon and Best Buy in the U.S. Pricing is set at $269, making it a tad more expensive than the Nokia 6’s launch price of $229.

Even with the increased cost, the Nokia 6.1 still looks to be an incredible value. The phone features a 6000 series aluminum unibody design, 5.5-inch Full HD display housed under 2.5D curved glass, and a 16MP ZEISS rear camera. Other notable specs include a Snapdragon 630 processor, 4GB RAM, and Android Oreo backed by Google’s Android One program.

Although sales don’t officially begin until this Sunday, you can already place early orders through Best Buy’s site right now.

See at Best Buy

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