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8
Jul

Porsche Design Huawei Mate RS review: Is it worth that premium?


Huawei is one of the few brands keeping the luxury phone trend alive. It doesn’t have diamond-encrusted notches or Vertu-level pricing, but the Porsche Design Huawei Mate RS reaches well beyond its Huawei P20 stablemates with a 1,695 euro (~$1980) price. 

Unlike Vertu’s simple “glue precious stones onto this two-year-old phone” philosophy, Huawei and Porsche Design opted to actually bring tangible improvements to this phone. Is the Mate RS actually worth the price though? That’s what our Huawei Mate RS review will tell you.

Huawei Mate RS review notes: I used the 256GB Mate RS for just over two weeks as my primary smartphone. I stuck to home Wi-Fi for the most part but used the Cell C network otherwise. The phone runs EMUI 8.1, based on Android 8.1, and has the May 2018 security patch. Show More

Design

“This looks just like a Galaxy S9 Plus,” was my first thought upon peeking at the front of the phone. Just like the S9, the Huawei Mate RS has a dual curved display, with curved corners and tapered left and right edges — which make the phone feel thinner than it is — and a notch-less top bezel. 

With its dual curved display and reflective glass back, the Mate RS certainly feels like a Huawei flagship.

The phone’s reflective glass back certainly feels like a Huawei flagship, even down to the separate Huawei and Porsche Design logos. I usually moan about glass backs due to their fingerprint magnetism, but the Huawei Mate RS didn’t gather nearly as many prints as I thought it would. I’m not sure if this is due to an oleophobic coating or a tweaked finish, but it certainly made for a pleasant surprise.

Porsche Design Huawei Mate RS from the back

The company also changed a few things compared to the Huawei Mate RS’ P20 stablemates, delivering a vertically stacked triple-camera setup in the middle rather than off to the side. The other big design change is that Huawei and Porsche Design shifted the fingerprint scanner to the rear. There’s also an in-display fingerprint scanner, so if you’re going to have two, it makes sense to slap the second one on the back.

All in all, there’s some Huawei DNA in here, but the Huawei Mate RS feels very different to the P20 series. Which is a good thing, given our impressions of last year’s Porsche Design Mate 10.

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The phone’s power and volume keys are on the right, its IR blaster is on top, and there’s a dual-SIM tray on the left (no storage expansion here). Its speaker and USB Type-C port are at the bottom. There’s no 3.5mm jack here, unfortunately, so you’ll need to use the included dongle for your legacy headphones.

The phone has IP67 water and dust resistance, so it can survive a pool dunking or rainy weather, but its glass design makes it less durable, as glass doesn’t usually hold up too well after a tumble. You should probably use the included case or buy one for maximum protection. While it’d be a shame to cover up the Mate RS’ beautiful frame, dropping a phone this expensive would be even worse.

Display

Porsche Design Huawei Mate RS home screen

The Mate RS features an AMOLED screen, much like the Huawei P20 Pro — but this time without a notch. I still don’t understand why more brands don’t retain a minimal top bezel instead of forcing a notch, but c’est la vie.

The Mate RS also delivers a resolution boost over the P20 Pro’s Full HD+ display. Its 2,880 x 1,440 screen soundly trumps the P20 Pro, landing between the standard S9 and S9 Plus. You can’t watch 4K videos natively, but text is sharp and viewing photos is a pleasure. We noticed some color shift on the edges of the display, but that’s unfortunately normal for phones with curved displays.

Read: The Mate RS doesn’t have a notch because Porsche Design hated the idea

The phone’s 6-inch 18:9 AMOLED screen melts into the borders when turned off while delivering those trademark deep blacks when on. Huawei even lets you turn UI elements like the navigation key dock and first-party apps black (these don’t work in third-party apps).

In any case, it’s clear the Mate RS screen is a technical improvement over the P20 series. If things still aren’t quite to your liking, you’ve got a few adjustable settings. There’s manual and automatic color temperature adjustment, a blue light filter, and size tweaks for text and other UI elements.

Performance

Porsche Design Huawei Mate RS playing World of Warships Blitz

Under the hood, the Huawei Mate RS sports the flagship Kirin 970 chipset, 6GB of RAM, and 256GB or 512GB of storage. The internal storage unfortunately isn’t expandable, but it’ll more than enough for most people.

The Kirin 970 doesn’t have the latest Arm cores like Qualcomm, nor does it have as many cores as Samsung’s GPU, but the phone is still one of the fastest I’ve used in a while. Apps launch quickly, scrolling through the Twitter feed is usually effortless, and web browsing doesn’t feel slow at all.

The Kirin 970 is older than its rivals’ flagship silicon, but it still delivers the goods

The phone also handles multitasking without breaking a sweat. I tried jumping from the YouTube app to the preinstalled music player to several games and beyond, and came back to find my YouTube video still paused on the same spot. Not bad.

In the gaming department, I usually use NASCAR Heat Mobile as my pixel-pushing title of choice, owing to its field of more than 40 cars. The Mate RS offered a very smooth experience, with little perceptible slowdown. We also tried a few more graphically intense games, like FZ9, PUBG Mobile and World of Warships, and all of them ran smoothly (or as smooth as can be for PUBG). So if you want to play visually demanding games on the go, the Mate RS will definitely let you crank things up.

The Mate RS's scores for Geekbench and Antutu.

We ran the phone through Antutu and GeekBench 4 to get a feel for where it stands compared to the competition. The Kirin 970 shows its age here, lagging behind Qualcomm and Samsung’s latest silicon. The Mate RS’s scores are closer to last year’s devices, like the OnePlus 5T and Google Pixel 2 XL. The Antutu score of 210,117 lags behind the OnePlus 6‘s more than 260,000, and the Mate RS’s GeekBench 4 numbers aren’t as impressive as the OnePlus 6’s 2,454 single-core/8,967 multi-core figures.

So the Mate RS delivers smooth performance in practice, despite benchmarks that lag behind other 2018 flagships.

Battery

Endurance is another story — this phone chugs on and on. The Mate RS’ 4,000 mAh battery easily handled a day of music videos on YouTube, sprinkled with WhatsApp messaging. Heck, I got between seven and eight hours of screen-on time out of the phone most days, all while listening to YouTube for most of the workday too (Wi-Fi and mobile data enabled, auto-screen brightness and smart resolution enabled).




If you need a phone that can deliver two days of usage, the Mate RS won’t need to stretch as much as rival devices.

Unlike the P20 series, the Porsche Design phone also supports wireless charging, which worked fine with my Samsung convertible charging pad. However, the phone often vibrated, indicating it wasn’t charging properly. Moving the pad to a flat position fixed the issue. Charging time wasn’t as brisk as a fast charger, but it certainly beat charging through a computer.

There are two fast chargers in the box (with American and European plugs), presumably for the benefit of the high flyers this phone is marketed towards. Cabled charging will get you to 50 percent capacity in around 30 minutes compared to 45 minutes or so with wireless charging.

Fingerprint scanners

Porsche Design Huawei Mate RS lock screen

Huawei might not be the first company to include an in-display fingerprint scanner, but the Chinese brand might be the first to include two scanners. After using the Huawei Mate RS for a while, I can see why.

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The under-glass fingerprint scanner takes about a second or two to unlock. It’s “fast” enough to not be a major issue, but long enough that you can’t just quickly tap and go as with the rear scanner. I don’t really mind the unlock time, but the accuracy can be irksome. It felt like maybe one out of every four or five attempts were unsuccessful. Sometimes three attempts in a row didn’t do the trick either. This is sadly par for the course at this stage of the under-glass scanner game.

Blindly trying to unlock your phone via this scanner (made by Goodix) is an issue too, as you have to hold on a very specific part of the display. Even subtle haptic feedback would’ve improved the experience. A Vivo Apex-style approach (made by Synaptics), which turns the entire lower half of the display into a scanner, would’ve been cool, but the tech probably isn’t ready yet (Vivo even switched from Synaptics to Goodix with the Nex, the commercially available version of the Apex concept phone). 

Porsche Design Huawei Mate RS rear fingerprint scanner

If the under-display scanner was the only option, I’d probably get used to it. Fortunately, the rear scanner is present, more accurate, and as fast as they come, so I never had to. The rear scanner supports the usual Huawei tricks like swiping down for the notification shade, lateral swipes for browsing photos, and acting as an extra shutter key.

If unlock speed and accuracy are important to you, use the rear-mounted scanner; the in-display scanner is just too slow and unreliable.

My only real complaint here is I’m not always sure when I’m touching the scanner. I would’ve liked the ridge around the fingerprint scanner to be more prominent or the scanner to have a different feel from the rest of the back.

Speaking of biometrics, the Huawei Mate RS doesn’t use any fancy 3D facial recognition, but face unlock is super fast anyway. I’d say it probably takes one or two seconds at most for the phone to recognize my mug. Unlock times and accuracy are generally fine in low-light, but pitch black darkness is a no go.

Camera

Porsche Design Huawei Mate RS camera app

The Huawei Mate RS has a virtually identical camera setup to the P20 Pro. It’s got a triple camera setup on the back (40MP f/1.8, 20MP monochrome f/1.6, 8MP telephoto with OIS), and a 24MP front-facing shooter.

Daytime shots are vibrant and sharp — though not always perfect. I noticed some color bleeding on occasion (mainly when using the wide aperture mode) and Android Authority’s own Rob Triggs previously explored the P20 Pro’s tendency to over-sharpen images. Focusing isn’t always reliable either, (especially when using the aperture mode) though overall the phone is a photography powerhouse.

The Master AI mode also automatically tweaks settings when it recognizes a scene. It works well for flora, food and landscapes, but I found it occasionally annoying. When I wanted to take a photo of a page from a book, the phone insisted on switching to the document scanning mode. This could be useful, but a “do you want to scan a document” prompt would’ve been preferable when all I wanted was to share a page on Twitter.

The company’s camera app could also do with a few UI tweaks. Why is there a quick toggle for Moving Images but nothing for HDR? As it is, you have to dive into the settings menu to enable HDR.

The Huawei camera app.
A few settings in the Huawei camera app.
The viewfinder in the Huawei camera app.

The phone generally delivers great dynamic range, although HDR does a good job of taming elements like clouds and the sky. It’s not quite as dramatic as the difference between SDR and HDR on the Pixel 2, but it has its uses. It still tends to occasionally saturate everything and give a cartoony look to scenes, but Huawei is way past the ghosted HDR snaps of the Ascend P8.

Overall the Mate RS is a photography powerhouse, but it has its quirks.

The triple camera combination delivers two more major perks: better digital zoom (up to 5x) and better low light shots. You don’t quite get DSLR-quality zoom, but I was very happy with results most of the time. Either way, it’s preferable to the bog-standard zoom of most other phones out there.

A 1x zoom shot with the Mate RS.
A 3x shot with the Mate RS.
A 5x shot from the Mate RS.

The Huawei Mate RS delivers great night shots on its own, but its night mode takes things up a notch. When set to auto, the phone basically acts like it’s doing a long exposure, but it’s actually stacking a series of shorter exposures to reduce blur and improve brightness. The results can be fantastic, although some elements can look weird (cars won’t leave light trails but will still look blurry).

DOWNLOAD THE FULL-RES PHOTOS

A night shot on the Huawei Mate RS.

The night mode also lets you adjust shutter speed and exposure. When you adjust the shutter speed, it actually behaves more like a manual mode, delivering proper long exposures. Nevertheless, if you want to do light painting and other low-light tricks, Huawei’s dedicated mode is still available here, offering presets for the usual stars, traffic lights, water, and so on.

Huawei’s aperture mode is back too, along with the ever-popular portrait mode feature. Blurry edges still creep in when you look closely, and portrait lighting effects are unpolished and feel like a lame copy of the iPhone’s effect. Still, I like the added flexibility of the aperture mode, especially when combined with the preinstalled filter that delivers color pop effects.

Hopefully, the company will add more editing options, because I’d like the ability to highlight exactly what should appear in color or monochrome. As it is now, you can adjust the aperture to tweak the effect, but that’s all.

A color pop image using the Huawei Mate RS.

Everything in focus tends to get the color treatment. Fortunately, these leaves were grey already.

The Huawei Mate RS supports 4K, 1080p at 60fps, 1080p at 240fps, and 720p at 960fps recording, to name the main video shooting modes. The super slow-mo isn’t quite as nifty as Sony’s solution, which allows you to record a standard clip and tap a “slow-mo” button when you want to record a 960fps snippet. The 720p resolution makes for some jagged edges, and focusing can occasionally be an issue, but it’s a neat tool to have nonetheless.

It’s disappointing the extra cash doesn’t get you photos any better than the P20 Pro, but the results are still great.

The 24MP selfie camera does the job just fine as well, although it can blow out backgrounds like the sky during the day. Unfortunately, HDR isn’t available via this camera, which is a shame. Portrait mode shots are also a treat here, though my habit of throwing in a thumbs up throws off the dodgy edge detection. Low-light shots predictably see a drop in detail and jump in noise, but there’s always a screen flash to help.

On one hand, it’s disappointing to see your extra cash isn’t buying anything more in the camera department compared to the P20 Pro. On the other, the P20 Pro’s photography experience is so great that I’m happy with the results anyway.

Software

Porsche Design Huawei Mate RS notifications

EMUI 8.1 shows how far the Android skin has come, with its mix of skeuomorphic design and Samsung’s TouchWiz. It’s still not everyone’s cup of tea, but it delivers some useful features and carves out its own identity.

As with many Chinese skins, Huawei ditches the app drawer out of the box. I’ve grown used to this change after using the Xiaomi Mi 4 and Huawei P9 as daily drivers in recent years, but you can always turn the feature on in the display menu.

EMUI has plenty of useful features, but there’s still room for improvement

The company also opted to include a gesture-driven UI, like last year’s P10 series. Fortunately, this isn’t enabled by default so you can easily avoid it. I would’ve liked to see a Samsung-style faux home button, as the ability to press hard to go home, no matter the app, has become mighty convenient after using the Galaxy S8.

Speaking of older additions, Huawei retained the double knuckle tap gesture for screenshots, which, in theory, I find more intuitive than Samsung’s wax-on-wax-off palm gesture. It’s not the best gesture in practice, as the phone occasionally misses my double tap. You can always just hit power and volume down instead.

The Mate RS homescreen.
Gesture navigation on the Mate RS.
The notification shade on the Mate RS.

There’s a theme store for changing up the look of EMUI, a phone manager hub (for tweaking mobile data settings, cleaning up storage and more), the preinstalled music, video, and gallery apps, and Huawei’s Health app.

Other solid software features include a biometric safe for media and apps, an eye comfort mode for filtering blue light, a mobile data blacklist for apps, Dolby Atmos support, flip to mute, drawing a letter to open apps, and a simple, easy UI for anyone that finds EMUI a bit too complicated to navigate.

There’s also bloatware like Booking.com and Quik, though it feels like Huawei is long past the Galaxy S4 stage of tossing in everything and the kitchen sink.

Specifications

Display 6-inch curved OLED display
18:9 aspect ratio
2,880 x 1,440 resolution
Processor Huawei Kirin 970
RAM 6GB
Storage 256GB or 512GB
Cameras Rear:
40MP main camera
20MP monochrome lens
8MP telephoto lens

Front:
24MP camera

Battery 4,000mAh
Non-removable
Wireless charging
Software Android 8.1 Oreo
Porsche Design skin
Colors Red, Black
Price 256GB version: €1,695 (~$2,103)
512GB version: €2,095 (~$2,599)
Availability April 12 – China, Hong Kong, and Macau
Sometime later – France, Germany, Italy, Spain, the U.K., and Switzerland

Gallery

Pricing and final thoughts

The 256GB Huawei Mate RS has a European price of 1,695 euros, compared to the P20 Pro’s 899 euro (~$1,050) price tag. Meanwhile, readers in the U.K. can expect to pay 1,500 pounds (~$1,980). Up the ante to 512GB and you’ll be paying 2,095 euros (~$2,450). It’s unclear if the U.K. will receive the 512GB model.

For what it’s worth, the device retails for 26,000 rand (~$1,920) here in South Africa, which is more or less in line with European pricing. The Huawei Mate RS is available in black or red. So fans of the twilight P20 Pro are out of luck.

The phone may be eye-wateringly expensive, but it’s more than just a rebranded Huawei flagship — unlike previous Porsche Design phones.

Between the notch-less OLED screen, generous storage space, wireless charging, and dual fingerprint scanners, the phone certainly has several notable perks. So if you like the idea of a P20 “Premium” and don’t mind spending the cash, it’s definitely worth a look, even if you don’t end up walking out with one. Everyone else should wait for Huawei’s next flagships which may well include some of the same additional features. 

That’s it for our Huawei Mate RS review. What do you think of this premium phone? Let us know in the comments.

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8
Jul

Mapping the most important phone announcements remaining in 2018


andrew-editors-desk-3.jpg?itok=3NRXQzM-

The second half of the year is setting up to be busy.

We’re in a little bit of a lull in terms of smartphone releases now, as all of the big names got out the door for the first half of the year and we’re now waiting about a month for Samsung’s other shoe to drop. But the Note 9 isn’t the only phone being released in the coming months — here’s a breakdown of what I’m looking forward to for the next few months of Android.

Motorola Z3 and/or Z3 Force – August 2

motorola-aug-2018-press-invite.jpg?itok=

Motorola is doing something on August 2 in its hometown of Chicago. The venue indicates that it’s going to be a U.S.-focused announcement rather than a global one, and since Motorola already pulled the trigger on the Moto G and E series, plus a quick reveal of the Z3 Play, earlier in the year.

This is likely to be the Moto Z3 and/or a tougher version called the Z3 Force. Considering how poorly received the Z2 Force was last year I’d like to see Motorola just stick to a standard Z3 that does it all and skips the shatterproof screen, but we’ll see. We know it’ll have Moto Mods compatibility, though. The Moto G and Moto E lines are bankrolling Motorola’s smartphone business, so the Moto Z3 and/or Z3 Force aren’t really of much consequence anyway, but I still really enjoy what Motorola is doing overall and want to see how it can make any attempt at all to stand out in a world of truly great smartphones from so many companies.

Samsung Galaxy Note 9 – August 9

samsung-galaxy-note-9-leaked-render-2%20

Samsung will be the first of the big launches for the second half of the year, and honestly it’s lining up to be a bit of a snoozer. The Note line has lost a lot of its uniqueness as the Galaxy S line has basically taken every feature but the S Pen at this point, and nothing about the latest rumors shows anything different in 2018. If the Note 9 comes out as a slightly larger Galaxy S9+ with a bigger battery (rumored 4000mAh) and some new S Pen features, it isn’t going to move the needle for me. But it’ll sell damn well regardless because of that stylus-toting fanbase that won’t settle for anything else.

The event in set for August 9, which is right around the corner. Samsung typically nails retail availability as well, so I would expect pre-orders to kick off early the next week at the latest — probably August 13 — with full sales and in-store availability a week later. That gets Samsung out well ahead of anyone else launching a big phone in September or October.

Sony Xperia XZ3 – Late August

sony-xperia-xz2-review-15.jpg?itok=ycObC

We don’t have many details on what Sony could be doing, but it typically uses the IFA trade show in Berlin to launch at least one phone. And given its rapid release cycle, we could be in for an Xperia XZ3 — or, at a minimum, some mid-cycle refresh of the XZ2 and XZ2 Compact. Sony already announced that the XZ2 Premium is coming, so IFA will have to be something else.

It’s hard to get too excited about yet another rapidly refreshed Sony phone, but the XZ2 and XZ2 Compact were solid phones — albeit expensive ones with very few standout features. Maybe Sony has something interesting lined up for the XZ3.

LG V40 – September

lg-v30s-25.jpg?itok=l5nqZ-DZ

The LG V40 looks like it will once again be a one-up of LG’s flagship from earlier in the year, with a rumored multi-camera setup with 3 cameras on the back and 2 on the front. Yes it’ll have a display notch, like the LG G7, but I’d also guess it’s going to have a larger display and battery as well. I sure hope LG does something more than that, but given how last year worked out I won’t be surprised if it doesn’t.

LG launched the V30 at the very end of August officially, but it didn’t make it out to retail until mid-September. Given how much later the LG G7 launched this year compared to the G6, the V40 may be pushed back just a little. Still, I’d expect to at least see an announcement in September even if retailers don’t offer it up until October.

Google Pixel 3 and 3 XL – Early October

pixel-3-and-3-xl-renders.jpg?itok=bCfEu2

I’m hyped for the Google Pixel 3 and 3 XL. I don’t care that the 3 XL has a notch — I want to see the Pixel 2 and 2 XL taken to the next level with new specs, an even better camera, and hopefully much better displays. Happy to see the rumor that the smaller Pixel will have a tall 18:9 display, and dual front-facing cameras could be interesting considering how great Google does with one now. But really it’s all about the software and performance, which should be fantastic.

Google announced last year’s Pixel 2 and 2 XL at a multi-pronged hardware event on October 4, so that’s the timeline we’re currently working with for 2018’s release. That puts us inside of three months away from proper launch territory, which may seem like a long time now but will fly by as we see the rest of these launches before then.

OnePlus 6T – Mid-November

oneplus-6-colors-pcmag.jpg?itok=JriZl2Uf

OnePlus will probably have the year-end capper for big-time smartphone launches if it decides to stick to the twice-yearly cadence of releasing a “T” model — the OnePlus 5T launched in mid-November 2017, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see the same again this year. Like previous years, I’d expect the OnePlus 6T to be a mere spec bump, perhaps with a change to the cameras and a larger battery or some other small internal refresh. Nothing to get super excited over, but a good opportunity for people who watched several months of OnePlus 6 news trickle out to finally pull the trigger on getting a new phone.

Hardly a boring end to the year, right? With that calendar expanded, I have a few other random thoughts on the week:

  • I’ll have my full thoughts on the BlackBerry KEY2 down into a sort-of-review this week. In the meantime, read Daniel’s and Jerry’s.
    • Super-short version: I actually like the keyboard, but the rest of the smartphone experience doesn’t match what a OnePlus 6 can offer for $100 less, and that makes it a non-starter for me.
  • The latest Android P Beta on the Pixel 2 XL is extremely fast and smooth. The gestures still aren’t perfect, but goodness this is some great software.
  • I went through the dreaded MacBook Pro keyboard replacement process last week, as my keyboard failed for the second time in two years. Good on Apple for replacing it for free this time, but this design is garbage for reliability and I have a feeling it won’t be my last repair.

-Andrew

8
Jul

When we run out of room for data, scientists want to store it in DNA


Google

First the apocalyptic warning: We’re running out of data storage.

Chances are that this isn’t something you’ve had to worry about too much in recent years. There was a time, not all that long ago, when your computer’s finite hard drive was all the storage you had available. Hit that limit (which, in the case of my own first computer, was less than 100MB) and you resorted to floppy disks and other local external storage. When you ran out of that, too, you got deleting.

Each day, around 2.5 quintillion bytes of data is created, courtesy of the 3.7 billion humans who now use the internet.

We don’t delete any more. Nor do companies, especially those valued based on the data they own. Instead, we simply propel our files off to the cloud, whose very name is ephemeral and ethereal; lacking in any real physicality. Where is the data stored? It doesn’t matter so long as we can get it back. What are the perils of running out of cloud storage? Seemingly very little, besides having to up your monthly subscription payments to unlock more glorious free space.

As a result, the idea that we might one day run out of data storage is as hard to wrap your head around as the suggestion that we could run out water: that glorious free resource which falls from the sky. But 2018 is the year in which Cape Town, South Africa, came precipitously close to running out of water. And we could run out of data storage, too.

Data, data, everywhere

The reason for this is the unimaginable pace at which we currently produce data. Each day, around 2.5 quintillion bytes of data is created, courtesy of the 3.7 billion humans who now use the internet. In the last two years alone, a mind-boggling 90 percent of the world’s data has been created. With a growing number of smart devices connected to the Internet of Things, that figure is set to increase significantly.

Catalog

“When we think of cloud storage, we think of these infinite stores of data,” Hyunjun Park, CEO and co-founder of the data storage company Catalog, told Digital Trends. “But the cloud is really just someone else’s computer. What most people don’t realize is that we’re generating so much data that the pace at which we are generating it is far outpacing our ability to store all of it. In the very near future, we’re going to have a huge gap between the useful data that we’re generating, and how we are able to store it using conventional mediums.”

Catalog has developed technology they believe could transform the way we store data.

Since cloud storage companies are busy building new data centers, and expanding their existing ones, at a rate of knots, it’s difficult to work out when we could run out of data storage capacity. There’s no movie-style countdown clock. According to Park, however, as early as 2025 humankind may have produced more than 160 zettabytes of data cumulatively. (A zettabyte, in case you’re wondering, is a trillion gigabytes.) How much of this will we be able to store? Around 12.5 percent of it, Park suggests.

Clearly, something needs to be done.

Is DNA the answer?

That’s where Park and fellow MIT scientist and co-founder Nathaniel Roquet enter the picture. Their startup Catalog has developed technology they believe could transform data storage as we know it; allowing, or so they claim, the entirety of the world’s data to be comfortably fit into a space the size of a coat closet.

Catalog’s DNA Storage Team in the lab. Catalog

Catalog’s solution? By encoding data into DNA. That might sound like the plot of a Michael Crichton novel, but their scalable and affordable solution is serious, and has so far received $9 million in venture funding — along with the support of leading professors from Stanford and Harvard Universities.

“A question I get asked often is, ‘Whose DNA are we using?’” Park laughed. “People are afraid of us taking DNA from people and turning them into mutants, or things like that.”

For years bottlenecks have stopped DNA from living up to it’s massive data storage potential.

This is not, we should make clear, what Catalog is doing. The DNA the company is coding data into is a synthetic polymer. It is not something that comes from a biological origin, and the series of base pairs into which the data is coded, as a series of ones and zeros, isn’t the code for anything living. But the end product is nonetheless biologically indistinguishable from something you might find in a living cell.

The idea of DNA being a potential storage method has been speculated upon for decades now, virtually since James Watson and Francis Crick discovered the double helix in 1953. However, until now there have been a number of bottlenecks that have stopped it living up to its massive potential as a computational data storage solution.

Traditional thinking on DNA-based data storage focused on the synthesis of new DNA molecules; mapping the sequence of bits to the sequence of DNA’s four base pairs and making enough molecules to represent all of the numbers you want to store. The problem is that this process is slow and expensive, both considerable bottlenecks when it comes to storing data.

Catalog

Catalog’s approach is based on decoupling the synthesis process from the encoding process. Essentially, the company generates massive numbers of just a few different molecules (making it much cheaper) and then encodes the information by generating huge diversity from the premade molecules.

As an analogy, Catalog likened the previous approach to manufacturing custom hard drives with all your data hard-wired in. Storing different data means building a whole new hard drive from the ground up. Their approach, they suggest, is akin to mass-producing blank hard drives, and then filling it with the encoded information as and when required.

It’s all about the storage

The exciting part of all of this is the mind-boggling amount of data it can store. As a proof of concept, Catalog has used its technology to encode books like The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy into DNA. But that’s nothing compared to the possibilities.

From start to finish, reading data off of DNA will take a minimum of several hours.

“If you’re comparing apples to apples, the bits you can store in the same volume comes out at something like 1 million times the informational density of a solid-state drive,” Park said. “Whatever you can store in a flash drive, you could store 1 million times that in the same volume if you’re doing it in DNA.”

The comparison with solid-state drives is not exact, however. DNA may be able to store far more information in the same volume, but it doesn’t have the instant access of, say, a USB-connected flash drive. Catalog’s approach transforms data into a solid pellet of synthetic polymer.

To access your data, scientists would need to take said pellet, rehydrate it by adding water, and then read it using a DNA sequencer. This provides the base pairs of the DNA, which can, in turn, then be used to calculate the ones and zeroes that reassemble your data. From start to finish, the process will take a minimum of several hours.

In order to retrieve data off of DNA, scientists would need to take the pellet it’s stored on, rehydrate it by adding water, and then read it using a DNA sequencer. Catalog

For this reason, Catalog is initially targeting a market used to these kinds of delays: the archiving market. This is the kind of data that is currently stored on formats like magnetic tape, used for keeping track of the kind of information that you might hope not to have to revisit, but is still crucial to hang onto. (Imagine the corporate equivalent of the warranty to your fridge.)

But is there ever a point at which this will matter to the average user? After all, as we pointed out at the top of this article, most of us don’t really think all that much about our data and where it is kept. Is it on magnetic tape? Is it on solid-state storage? We don’t mind so long as it is there when we need it.

DNA-based data encoding is likely to be a long-term storage option, while short-term data takes other forms.

Because of the amount of time it takes to retrieve information, there’s unlikely to ever be a point at which, for instance, your Google Cloud information is stored in enormous vats of DNA or as a series of marble-like pellets in Mountain View, CA. Should Catalog be able to prove its concept to businesses, this is likely to be a long-term storage option, while short-term data takes other forms.

Imagine the possibilities

A tube containing millions of copies of data encoded into DNA. Catalog

There are exciting sci-fi-sounding possibilities, though. “Imagine a subcutaneous pellet containing all your health data, all your MRA scans, your blood tests, your X-rays from your dentist,” Park said. “You would always want that data to be very accessible to you, but you don’t necessarily want it up in the cloud somewhere, or on an unsecured server in a hospital. If you had that with you in the form of DNA, you could physically control that data and access to it, while making sure that only the authorized doctors could have access to it.”

After all, as he points out, all hospitals today have DNA sequencers. “I’m not saying we’re pursuing that right now, but it’s a possible future,” he said.

Having announced their new company to the world, Catalog is now focused on carrying out some pilot projects to demonstrate how this technology can be used effectively. “These aren’t scientific challenges we have left to solve, but rather mechanical optimization problems,” he noted.

Having, by his own admission, having entered this field because it sounded like a cool technological approach to a big problem, Park is now convinced that DNA data storage may turn out to be one of the most important technologies of our time.

Heck, when it comes to being able to archive human history as we know it, it’s hard to disagree. “It’s about preserving our way of life as we know it,” he explained.

Editors’ Recommendations

  • DNA link to Golden State Killer raises questions of privacy versus safety
  • What is WiGig?
  • IBM banned USB drives. Is it the future of security or a knee-jerk reaction?
  • Vinyl is back! How to build and preserve a killer vinyl collection
  • You’ll never read Facebook’s new data policy, so we did it for you



8
Jul

The best LG G7 ThinQ cases


If you’re an LG aficionado, then the release of the LG G7 ThinQ has likely caught your attention. With the latest Snapdragon 845 processor, incredible boombox sound, and a cool suite of cameras, could this be the phone to put LG on the top of the smartphone market?

No matter how cool the G7 ThinQ is, it’s not going to beat gravity. Dropping a glass-covered and expensive smartphone is a heart-stopping moment, and everyday situations can lead to a shiny smartphone becoming scratched and unsightly. That is why we put together a list of the best LG G7 ThinQ cases currently available to keep your LG phone safe.

StilGut Cover Talis ($35)

What’s better than a good leather wallet case? Not much. This classic and elegant wallet case from StilGut is handmade from quality leather, which lends an air of professionalism to your phone while still keeping it well protected. A magnetic closure keeps the case closed while it’s not in use — and also protects your screen from harm — and the cover folds behind the case while not in use. The cover’s inside pockets also have space for credit cards and spare cash, while precise cutouts ensure you can use all your phone’s functions while it stays protected. With an elegant style and good protection, this wallet case is a great choice.

Buy one now from:

StilGut

UAG Plasma Series ($40)

UAG’s cases are something of a byword for protection — and it’s easy to see why. The Plasma series combines the very best of soft and absorbent TPU with hard polycarbonate, providing a great balance of a rigid backbone and shock-absorption that means excellent protection for your G7 ThinQ. Raised corners keep those areas insulated from drops, which are made less likely with the addition of grippy sides. It’s also extremely lightweight, barely adding any weight to the phone. The looks might not be to everyone’s taste, but UAG’s cases have a style all their own, and if you’re a fan of the look, then this case will serve your phone very well.

Buy one now from:

UAG

Otterbox Defender Series ($50)

For many people, protection begins and ends with the Otterbox Defender. The Defender case for the G7 ThinQ is no-nonsense in its approach to style, offering a thick black oblong that’s as far from the style of other cases as possible. But the protective qualities really are enormous as a result. The thick inner core and outer shell add a lot of thickness to the G7 ThinQ, but it’s a good protective thickness. Raised edges elevate the screen from surfaces, keeping dirt and grit from your display, while port covers stop those same particles from getting into your phone itself. This case also comes with an optional holster that works as a belt clip or kickstand. The Defender is expensive, but it’s simply one of the best protective options around.

Buy one now from:

Otterbox

Ghostek Exec Wallet Case ($25)

Do you like the convenience of a wallet case, but not the fold-over style? Ghostek’s Exec wallet case might be the case you’re looking for. It b oasts Ghostek’s usual high quality, with a dual- layer construction that uses the best of TPU and PC to ensure great protection. There’s also a raised bezel to elevate the screen from the ground or other surfaces if it’s placed facedown. This case is also extremely stylish, with cool fabric and leather textures, as well as an integrated metal plate for magnetic mounts. The real draw, though, is the spacious compartment on the back of the case that comes with room to fit up to five credit cards at once.

Buy one now from:

Ghostek Amazon

Avidet Flexible Clear Case ($8)

The LG G7 ThinQ is a triumph of modern smartphone design, and no one can blame you for not wanting to cover that up. That is where this clear case from Avidet comes in. It’s made from flexible thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) that absorbs shocks well, giving it some resistance against drops and knocks. The soft material also lends more grip to the phone, and the raised dots on the back of the case prevent condensation from forming. Be warned that you won’t get the same level of protection you get from a larger, more protective case, but it’s still a great choice if you don’t want to hide your phone away.

Buy one now from:

Amazon

Spigen Neo Hybrid Herringbone Case ($17)

Veteran case maker Spigen is well-known for a reason, and its range of well-made protective cases have a lot of fans. The Neo Hybrid case combines a shock-absorbent TPU inner core with a hard outer shell of polycarbonate (PC), providing a good balance of soft and hard that protects against a wide range of hazards. The Herringbone pattern on the TPU core lends a cool style to the case, adding to your G7 ThinQ’s look, and it’s really quite reasonably priced. Spigen boasts of military-grade drop protection, making the Neo Hybrid a strong contender in both protection and style.

Buy one now from:

Amazon

Obliq Flex Pro Protective Case ($14)

Obliq might be a name that most people don’t recognize, but the company from Southern California has been putting out stellar smartphone cases for the past few years. The Flex Pro is made from flexible TPU — hence the name — and offers a good balance of protection and style. The case is divided into two parts, with a brushed metal texture on the top joined by a carbon fiber look on the bottom. It’s a good combination, and we dig the style. It’s not all style and no substance either — a raised lip around the edges prevents your phone from resting on surfaces, and the shock-absorbing TPU provides military-grade protection against threats. It’s slim, rugged, stylish, and a great addition to your LG G7 ThinQ.

Buy one now from:

Obliq

Ringke Fusion-X Bumper Case ($13)

Want some serious protection that looks the part? Ringke‘s Fusion-X case brings the best of TPU and PC to this bumper case to provide fantastic protection that doesn’t mess around. The TPU bumper around the edge of the phone helps to absorb blows and drops, keeping the energy away from the phone itself, while the hard and clear PC back helps your phone to stay scratch-free, while still showing off your style. It’s tested to military standard 810G, has a raised bezel to ensure your phone doesn’t rest on surfaces, and even has a slot to attach a lanyard for the ultimate drop protection. While it’s somewhat bulky, if you need to be sure your phone will be safe, this is a great choice.

Buy one now from:

Amazon

Olixar X-Ranger Survival Case ($23)

If adding utility is the name of your case game, then look no further than the Olixar X-Ranger. It’s a pretty decent little protective case that uses multiple layers of PC and TPU to help absorb shocks and prevent hazards from harming your phone. It boasts a raised bezel to elevate your phone from surfaces. The really awesome part of this case lies below the surface, though — flip up the built-in horizontal kickstand and you will also find a credit card-sized multitool that has 26 different uses. It’s somewhat plain in style, with a brushed metal look over the back panel, but what it lacks in style, it makes up for in substance.

Buy one now from:

Mobile Fun

Skinomi Techskin Black Carbon Fiber Skin ($13)

It’s not quite a case, but a smartphone skin is also a good choice for you if you want the least possible bulk while still adding some protection to your phone. This Skinomi skin won’t add any drop-resistance, but it will add a decent amount of protection against scratches, as well as a futuristic sci-fi style thanks to its black carbon fiber look. Since it’s essentially a sticker, it adds barely any bulk to your phone — and as a bonus, this skin also comes with a screen protector for your phone, giving you all-around scratch protection.

Buy one now from:

Skinomi Amazon

Editors’ Recommendations

  • LG G7 ThinQ vs. Google Pixel 2 XL: A brains-versus-brawn comparison
  • Style and protect your phone with the best LG V35 ThinQ cases
  • LG G7 ThinQ vs. LG G6: Out with the old, in with the new
  • LG V35 ThinQ hands-on review
  • How to buy the LG G7 ThinQ



8
Jul

From translating hearing aids to sign-language gloves, amazing assistive tech


Think that assistive technology for the deaf and hard of hearing community is all about your run-of-the-mill hearing aids here in 2018? Think again!

From signing robot arms to mind-reading hearing aids, the next few years are going to be pretty darn amazing for accessibility technology if this list is anything to go by. Here are some of the most impressive tech projects we’ve come across in this area.

Project Aslan

Signing is all well and great, but like any language it’s not much good if one side of the conversation doesn’t speak it. That’s where a multi-year robotics project from researchers at Belgium’s University of Antwerp comes into play.

That have developed a 3D-printed robotic hand capable of translating spoken and written words into sign language gestures. The device recognizes these words using a webcam, and then communicates them to the user through “fingerspelling,” a mode of sign language which spells out words letter-by-letter with single hand gestures.

Though not currently available, Project Aslan’s robot hand can be 3D printed for just a few hundred bucks, and promises to be small enough to fit in a rucksack.

Cameras that can translate signing

A robot which can turn speech into sign language is good, but for a full conversation to take place you need technology that’s able to turn sign language into voice or text, and voice into text or sign language — and to do all of this in real-time.

That’s what a Dallas-based startup called KinTrans has developed, with a 3D camera and accompanying microphone that’s able to determine what is being said or signed, and then translate it quickly and accurately for the other party.

According to its creators, the system is already able to recognize thousands of signed words with an accuracy of around 98 percent. It can handle multiple languages, too.

Smart gloves

Don’t like the idea of being watched by a camera? No problem. At the University of California San Diego, researchers have developed low-cost smart gloves able to automatically translate American Sign Language (ASL) into digital text which appears on a corresponding computer or smartphone. No camera required.

To use the glove, the wearer simply signs out letters in the ASL alphabet, which are then recognized due to variances in electrical resistance. Like Project Aslan, one of the best features of this solution is its low price point, making it a potentially affordable solution to a challenging problem. The components in the smart glove add up to less than $100 in cost.

While it’s still a research project for now, we can imagine that price coming down further with mass production.

Next-gen transcription technology

Thanks to advances in speech recognition, speech-to-text technology has been getting better for years. But it’s not always useful for situations in which there are multiple people speaking, such as in a group conversation setting.

A new Indiegogo campaign called SpeakSee, created by Netherlands-based entrepreneurs, uses individual clip-on microphones and beamforming technology to isolate specific people’s speech and filter out any background noise.

As a result, conversations are transformed into script-like transcripts, in which different speakers are highlighted in unique colors. These can then be read on an accompanying tablet or smartphone.

Brainwave-reading hearing aid

Imagine if a hearing aid was able to work out what sound you’re trying to focus on and magnify just that audio, while quietening down everything else.

That’s what researchers from Columbia University School of Engineering and Applied Science have been working on with a new “cognitive hearing aid,” designed to help wearers in situations like crowded rooms.

The device works by monitoring the brain activity of users, and then using a deep neural network to figure out which speaker’s voice the listener is concentrating on. Right now, it’s still a research project, but this could be transformative if and when it eventually arrives on the market.

Solar ears

There are close to 400 million people worldwide with a hearing loss-related disability. Of these, more than half live in countries with lower levels of income to places like the United States. That’s a problem when it comes to hearing aids, since the cost of the devices and their batteries can be out of reach for many people they would otherwise be able to help.

As its name implies, Solar Ear is a solar-powered hearing aid, whose batteries are designed to last 2-3 years, compared with the 7-10 days of a common battery. It’s considerably cheaper than regular hearing aids, too.

Translating hearing aids

Hearing aids allow users who are deaf or hard of hearing to have other people’s voices piped directly into their ear. But what if it could perform a bit of computational magic along the way, and use machine translation to, say, transform a native German speaker’s words into English? That’s technology that will certainly find itself into high-end hearing aids over the next several years.

Already there have been some pretty impressive demos in the form of Waverly Labs’ Pilot Translating Earpiece and the IBM Watson-powered TranslateOne2One. De repente, los audífonos están a punto de ser mucho más útiles. (Suddenly, hearing aids are about to get a whole lot more useful.)

Hearing through your… skin?

Most hearing aids are, in our experience, overwhelmingly ear-based. A research project from neuroscientists at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas, wants to change that with the help of a vest which allows deaf people to “hear” through their skin.

The device collects incoming audio via the users’ smartphone and then translates this into specific vibrations the wearer can feel on their skin. The hope is that, over time, users will learn to process these vibrations as information in much the same way that a blind person could learn to read via the tactile bumps of braille.

As far as we’re aware, this is an ongoing research project, but a Kickstarter campaign a few years ago suggests that the goal is to develop a commercial product at the end of it.

Editors’ Recommendations

  • Portable microphone system transcribes multi-person conversations in real time
  • You’re not hearing things: Viral Laurel vs. Yanny debate is an audio brain teaser
  • Here’s how to change Google Assistant’s voice on your Google Home device
  • Facebook in hot water again over data deals with Huawei, Lenovo and others
  • It sounds crazy, but jet thrusters on a motorbike may actually make it safer



8
Jul

The best ‘Pokémon Go’ tips and tricks




Pokémon Go became a cultural phenomenon in 2016 by giving everyone the chance to “catch ’em all.” In augmented reality (AR), you wander around your city and neighborhood to find and catch as many virtual pocket monsters as possible.

Despite how simple the game mechanics seem, there are still ways to play the game well, and developer Niantic has introduced a lot of new features since the game’s launch two years ago. Whether you have yet to begin amassing your collection, or you are well on your way to filling out your Pokédex, this article will break down all the game’s nuances and various ways to play.

How to find the best wild Pokémon

Pokémon Go wants you to get up on your feet and venture into the real world, and it spreads different kinds of Pokémon around loosely based on your real-life location. In town, grass- and normal-type Pokémon will often appear. If you go near water or out at night, however, you’re likely to encounter water-based and psychic Pokémon, respectively. There’s an element of randomness involved as well; sometimes water Pokémon appear in locations without water nearby, for instance, so what you find is not entirely based on your geographical location.

Checking your local parks is a must, because Niantic often uses these to create “nests” of specific types of Pokémon, so they’ll appear much more frequently in those places. What Pokémon appears at what nest rotates over time, though, so get what you need quick, because you never know when a Dratini nest might suddenly turn into a Pikachu nest.

Here are some tips for finding Pokémon

Tip #1: Whenever a Pokémon appears, as long as it’s on screen, you can tap it to begin the catching process — no matter how far away it is from you.

Tip #2: Don’t give up if a Pokémon flees while you’re trying to catch it. It may reappear on the map, so you may get another chance.

Tip #3: Use Incense and Lure modules! Incense is a consumable item you can earn by leveling up, or purchase from the Pokémon Go shop. It attracts Pokémon to you, naturally increasing your odds of spotting a rare Pokémon. It also lowers the probability of them fleeing.

Lure modules work in a similar way, but are applied to a PokéStop rather than a player. They attract Pokémon to a specific location for 30 minutes, and in doing so, benefit all players in the area. So, if you see a spot on your map with pink confetti-like animation, go there for a better chance at finding Pokémon. Add some incense, and you’re likely to be swarmed by the little monsters.

Tip #4: Tune in for monthly community days and other Niantic events. These are always broadcast in your Pokémon Go app, and often focus on Pokémon from a particular region or of a particular type. The community day each month is a great way to get out and catch a specific, usually rare, kind of Pokémon as well. Keep an eye out for special events to quickly find lots of Pokémon and jump-start the path to some evolutions.

8
Jul

Best Heavy Duty Cases for Galaxy Note 8


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Keep your Note 8 well protected with a rugged case!

The Samsung Galaxy Note 8 sports a gorgeous (and ginormous) all-glass design.

It’s big, it’s expensive, and no matter what phone makers say about the ruggedness of Gorilla Glass 5 it may shatter on you if it takes a nasty fall.

If you lead an active life (or just know you’re prone to dropping your phone) you may need something a bit more heavy duty than your average case.

  • Encased Rugged Belt Case
  • Samsung Rugged Military Grade Protective Cover
  • Supcase Unicorn Beetle Shield Series Case
  • UAG Plasma Rugged Case
  • Spigen Tough Armor Case
  • Zizo Static Series Case
  • OtterBox Commuter Series Case

Encased Rugged Belt Case

encased-galaxy-note-8-heavy-duty-case.jp

Protecting your Note 8 against the dangers of the world doesn’t have to set you back an arm and a leg, and this is made possible thanks to the folks at Encased.

The Encased Rugged Belt Case features a dual-layer design with an impact dispersion system that helps to keep your Note 8 out of harm’s way even during the nastiest of drops.

Along with the case, Encased also throws in a free belt clip. The case easily attaches and detaches to it using the quick release system and the clip itself has been designed to withstand direct impact, too. Add all that together with Encased’s Lifetime Guarantee and a price tag of a little under $17, and you end up with one heck of a package.

See at Amazon

Samsung Rugged Military Grade Protective Cover

samsung-military-grade-case-galaxy-s9-pr

Samsung offers a compelling design for a rugged case with a built-in kickstand. Branded with the Samsung logo on the back, this case adds texture to help add grip to your phone. There are precise cutouts on the bottom for access to the headphone jack, charging port, and S Pen and again you’ve got to appreciate how Samsung incorporated the kickstand into the design — always there when you need it without being clunky and adding bulk.

You can grab this case in black for around $21 or deep blue for $25.

See at Amazon

Supcase Unicorn Beetle Shield Series Case

SUPCASE-unicorn-beetle-note-8-press_0_0.

Are you the type that can’t be trusted with nice things? Needs to keep your phone fully encased in plastic to protect it from yourself? No judgments here — the first step is admitting you have a problem.

The next step is finding the right solution, which just might be the mighty rugged Supcase Unicorn Beetle Shield Series case. Combining a polycarbonate outer shell with a flexible and shock-absorbing TPU sleeve, this case goes an extra step further by including a built-in screen protector around front to prevent scratches from ruining your Note 8’s display.

It’s otherwise a pretty standard design for a rugged case — beefy in the corners where it needs to be yet slim and sporty enough as to not turn your phone into a thick brick of plastic. You can get yours from Amazon for just $20.

See at Amazon

UAG Plasma Rugged Case

UAG-Plasma-note-8-case_0_0.jpg?itok=T_O9

The go-to rugged case for many smartphone users, the UAG Plasma is a rugged and lightweight case that’s arguably the coolest looking case on this list — although that’s always a matter of personal opinion.

It’s a remarkably slim case with a great amount of texture and ridges along the side edges and back to assist with in-hand grip. With reinforced corners to take the brunt of any falls that also provides relief from your screen when you put your phone face down, this is a case style that’s been perfected over the years to offer maximum protection for premium devices such as the Note 8. It’s also thin enough to remain compatible with NFC and Qi wireless charging functionality.

But you will pay a somewhat steep price for all that premium design and build quality — as low as $22 for some color options and up to $55.99 for the all-black Monarch model. Completely justifiable for smartphone peace of mind.

See at Amazon

Spigen Tough Armor Case

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Spigen always offers a wide array of case options, but if you’re looking for something rugged look no further than the Tough Armor case.

It offers the rugged dual-layer protection you want while keeping the outer shell clean with a matte finish and a kickstand that’s there if you need it, but otherwise kept flush with the back of the case and out of the way. It’s all shock absorbing TPU around the top and corners — the main areas to take the brunt of a fall — with a polycarbonate shell around the back. If you’re worried about adding a bunch of bulk to your phone, you can rest easy with the Spigen Tough Armor — it adds only 2.5mm of girth to the back of the Note 8. The buttons along the side are covered as you’d expect and kept flush with the design of the case, with the power button given some extra texture so you can always find it.

The Tough Armor is available in five different color options, with the base model (in black) starting at $15.99.

See at Amazon

Zizo Static Series Case

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Some case makers add a whole bunch of “stylish” accents to the back of their case — Zizo is one such company.

These cases sure stand out from the rest of the pack with sharp angles around the corners and all the ridges and textures on the backside. Whether you like the look of these cases or not is a matter of personal taste, but there’s no denying that all those ridges will help with your grip and if it still manages to slip out of your hands it should survive most drops. There’s also a pop-out kickstand which is always a handy feature.

The Zizo Static Series is available in seven different color combinations, all for the low price of $11.

See at Amazon

OtterBox Commuter Series Case

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OtterBox is one of the most trusted brands for offering rugged cases that are always backed by great customer service.

The OtterBox Commuter Series balances its dual-layer design while maintaining a fairly compact form for a rugged case. It’s compatible with screen protectors (of course OtterBox recommends their own brand) and features a generous lip around the screen to protect the display from scuffs and scratches.

If you’ve held off on buying a case like the OtterBox Commuter Series you’re in luck! Usually sold for $50, the case now starts at only $29.99. Backed by OtterBox’s limited lifetime warranty, you can buy with confidence.

See at Amazon

What’s your top pick for heavy duty cases?

How are you planning to keep the Note 8 safe? Or maybe you’re one of those rebels who forgoes a case — even with a phone that costs nearly $1000. Plead your case in the comments below!

Update July 2018: Updated pricing info, added the Encased case to the list, and edited to include new roundup formatting.

Samsung Galaxy Note 8

  • Galaxy Note 8 review
  • Galaxy Note 8 vs. Galaxy S8+
  • Which Note 8 color is best?
  • Complete Galaxy Note 8 specs
  • Join our Galaxy Note 8 forums

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8
Jul

This great deal lets you learn a new language with Mondly on the cheap


Do you wish you had paid better attention during language classes in high school? Been debating going back to school to learn a new language but don’t have the time? Want to learn some conversational French or Italian for your next European adventure? Whatever your reasons for wanting to learn a new language, the hardest part is finding a curriculum that fits your schedule.

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Android Central Digital Offers might have a compelling option for you with this great deal for Mondly, a digital platform for learning new languages. Using the Mondly app, you can choose between 33 different languages with a digital curriculum that’s designed to break down the learning process into short lessons and help you memorize core words, form sentences, and participate in conversations.

Typically Mondly is offered on a monthly subscription basis, but thanks to Android Central Digital Offers, you can get a lifetime subscription for just a one-time payment. If you just want to learn one language you pay just $39.99, but choose three languages and you pay just $59.99 or opt to learn five for just $69.99.

Better yet, use coupon code JULY4TH during check out this weekend and you’ll save an additional 15%. This great deal won’t last forever, but your access to the language courses will because you have lifetime access.

See at Android Central Digital Offers

8
Jul

TCL Roku TVs, RoboVacs, messenger bags, and more are all discounted today


Whether you’re looking for new tech gear or household items, we’ve got you covered.

We found plenty of great deals today that include big discounts on TCL’s latest Roku TVs, a Eufy robotic vacuum cleaner, a Timbuk2 messenger bag, and more! Time’s running out to take advantage of these prices, so hurry!

View the rest of the deals

If you want to know about the deals as soon as they are happening, you’ll want to follow Thrifter on Twitter, and sign up for the newsletter, because missing out on a great deal stinks!

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