The very first Apple Store opened its doors on May 19, 2001, at the Tysons Corner Center shopping mall in McLean, Virginia, near Washington D.C. Now, just over 17 years later, those doors may soon close temporarily.
Apple Tysons Corner
Planning documents filed with the Department of Planning and Zoning in Fairfax County, Virginia this month, viewed by MacRumors, reveal that Apple plans to make significant interior alterations to the store, with demolition work involved, suggesting that the location is set to receive a facelift.
The permits issued don’t indicate when renovations will begin, nor is it clear whether Apple will modernize the current store, or relocate to a different area of the shopping mall, as it has done with some of its other stores. An anonymous tipster tells us the store may move to the opposite end of the mall.
Apple Tysons Corner has a lot of nostalgia attached to it, as the company’s first-ever retail store. Shortly before it opened to the public, the late Steve Jobs previewed the store to a group of journalists, including Walt Mossberg, introducing iconic features like the Genius Bar that still exist today.
Just months after the dot-com collapse, some critics viewed the Apple Store as a risky move. But, some 500 people lined up at Apple Tysons Corner for its grand opening, foreshadowing the long queues on iPhone launch days.
Together with Apple’s store in Glendale, California, which opened the same day, the two locations welcomed over 7,700 people and sold a combined total of $599,000 of merchandise during their first two day weekend, according to Apple’s press release at the time. It was considered a resounding success.
Apple Tysons Corner has already received a facelift at least once before, in the 2000s, losing its iconic black entrance with two Apple logos, which remains in use at just three stores: Tice’s Corner, Southpoint, and Cherry Creek.
Apple Tysons Corner with its original storefront
Apple has been renovating dozens of its stores around the world since 2015, an initiative led by its design chief Jony Ive and retail chief Angela Ahrendts. The new look often includes wide, open spaces with sequoia wood tables and shelves, large 8K video screens for in-store events, and sometimes indoor trees.
Apple’s website does not yet reflect any upcoming store closure at Tysons Corner. We’ve reached out to the company for comment.
Related Roundup: Apple Stores
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Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends
Roughly 77 percent of Americans use a smartphone, according to a Pew survey, but phones still hide secrets that most people might not know about. Most smartphones have hidden functions that you can access by punching in specific strings of numbers and symbols. These “backdoors” gives you access to features that, for the most part, you will probably never need to use, but they can occasionally come in handy — and besides, cheat codes are always fun.
We’ve rounded up some of the more practical codes for both Android and iOS devices. To use them, open your phone’s dialer and type in them (depending on your phone’s make and model, you may also need to hit the call button).
Note that these codes may not work on every device; some service providers go so far as to disable most hidden codes on their phones. In addition, there is another type of code called a USSD (Unstructured Supplementary Service Data), which send a signal to your service provider when you input it; these codes are used for things like checking your data usage.
One warning: While some of these hidden codes are benign, others do things like factory reset your phone, so be careful not to input codes on a whim.
Info/Test menu (opens a menu where you can get detailed information about your phone, data usage statistics, and more)
Analog and backlight test
Display IMEI number (The IMEI, or International Mobile Equipment Identity, is a unique identification number for every phone, which can be useful in case your phone goes missing)
LCD Display test
Display camera info
Completely wipe phone and reinstall firmware
Display MAC address
Display Bluetooth address
Field test (allows you to precisely gauge the strength of signals your phone is receiving, in case you are curious or want to install a signal boosting system)
Quick GPS Test
Field test mode (provides info about cell signal, including more precise reception reading)
Check call forwarding number (you can designate another number to redirect calls to when your phone is busy)
Enable call waiting
Disable call waiting
Enhanced full rate (EFR) mode — This mode improves reception at the cost of battery life
Anonymous call (Your number won’t show up on the receiver’s caller ID)
Input *67 before you enter a phone number
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The Samsung Galaxy S8 is a stunning smartphone with a solid range of features, but the battery life is distinctly average. It’s also sadly inevitable that smartphone batteries deteriorate over time and struggle to hold as much charge as they did when new. If you’re finding that your phone doesn’t make it to bedtime before running out of juice, then you might want to consider snagging one of the best Samsung Galaxy S8 battery cases.
Since the S8 has such a sexy design, you may not be pleased at the prospect of adding bulk and covering up those curves, so you could opt for one of the best portable battery chargers instead. We also have a roundup of the best Galaxy S8 cases for protection.
Maxboost Atomic Power Battery Case ($38)
Packing a 4,500mAh battery, this case will double the battery life of your Samsung Galaxy S8. It’s one of the best value options out there and it offers a decent range of features. Every battery case will add some bulk, but this one is relatively slim for the capacity. It is also protective with a TPU bumper and hard back plate, a slight lip to safeguard the screen, and a finish that enhances grip. There is a chin at the bottom where it connects to your phone, but the USB-C port can charge and sync data simultaneously if you plug into your laptop or computer. It redirects the audio from your speaker to the front. There is also an extender for the headphone port, decent button covers, and a four LED array on the back to show remaining power. The downside is that NFC for mobile payments and wireless charging won’t work with this case on. Maxboost does offer a lifetime warranty for this case. You can get this same exact case from Trianium, but it’s a little pricier at the time of writing.
Buy one now from:
ZeroLemon Ultra Power Extended Battery Case ($50)
This is the biggest and bulkiest battery case on the list, but with a capacity of 8,500mAh that shouldn’t be surprising. You can expect almost two full charges from this case, but if it’s too big for you, ZeroLemon also offers a slightly slimmer battery case for the S8 with a 5,500mAh battery. There is no escaping the fact this case ruins your S8’s good looks making it much thicker and longer, but the TPU construction will also guard against drops and bumps. If you plug in a USB-C cable you can sync data to and from your phone and it will charge your phone up first, then charge the case. Because of the big capacity here, it takes a while to charge fully so you will want to charge it up overnight. The bottom-firing speaker of your S8 is redirected to the front. You won’t be able to use NFC or wireless charging with this case on. ZeroLemon offers a 180-day warranty with this case.
Buy one now from:
Mophie Juice Pack Battery Case ($100)
If you’re recoiling in horror at the bulkiness of these battery cases, then you might consider this Mophie case. It does still add weight and size, but it’s a bit slimmer than most and it offers a 2,950mAh battery which will give you around 50 percent, maybe a bit more, extra battery life for your Galaxy S8. The design is solid, with a lip to protect the screen and internal bumpers to prevent drop damage. There is a standard four LED array on the back to show remaining power, the speaker is redirected to the front, and you can sync data through a USB-C cable which will also charge the phone first. You won’t be able to use NFC with this case, but it does support Qi wireless charging. It also has magnets inside to easily align and stick on Mophie’s Charge Force dock range. The big stumbling block here is the high price. Mophie offers a two-year warranty with this case.
Buy one now from:
Elebase Battery Case ($29)
Proving that you don’t need to spend big to boost that battery life, we have the Elebase battery case offering an extra 5,000mAh for under $30. It’s chunky, but it offers drop protection and sports a raised bezel to protect the screen. You can sync data and charge your phone via USB-C without removing the case. It will provide more than a full charge for your S8, but there are a couple of compromises here — the speaker opening is on the bottom edge and there is a single LED that displays different colors to show remaining power. The case itself is also slow to charge, so you need to leave it plugged in for a few hours. A few reviews report overheating with this battery case, but the manufacturer offers a 12-month warranty and will replace it if you run into issues.
Buy one now from:
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Asus ZenBook S
If you’re looking for a premium, thin and light laptop, chances are you’re considering the latest offerings from Apple, HP, and Dell. You might not even consider Asus, and while we don’t blame you — that’s a real shame. Though not as well established, the company actually has one of the broadest selections of thin and light selections around — many of which come highly recommended from us. A case in point is the new ZenBook S, a refresh of the thinnest and lightest in Asus’s arsenal, and one that’s clearly aimed at the market leaders.
Asus sent us the more powerful of two retail configurations to look at, packing an 8th-generation quad-core Intel Core i7-8550U CPU, 16GB of RAM, a 512GB PCIe solid-state drive (SSD), and a 13.3-inch 4K UHD display for $1,500. You can also drop down to 8GB of RAM, a 256GB SSD, and a Full HD (1,920 x 1,080 or 166 PPI) display for $1,200.
Asus has clearly focused on refining its thinnest and lightest notebook to make it a great all-around and highly portable machine. Has its attention to detail pushed it beyond its rather strong competition?
A gorgeous little gem of a notebook
If you’ve paid attention, you’ll notice that the ZenBook line rivals Lenovo’s ThinkPad and Microsoft’s Surface in maintaining a recognizable design aesthetic. The ZenBook S sports the usual Asus concentric circle swirl and diamond chamfered edges (this time in rose gold accent), and two color schemes — Deep Dive Blue and Burgundy Red — offer a touch of choice.
Our review unit was the blue version, and we loved its understated elegance that stands out without being ostentatious. Dell’s XPS 13 and HP’s Spectre 13 are also nice looking notebooks, but the ZenBook S strikes us as possessing the more cohesive design. While the XPS 13 has the tiniest bezels, the ZenBook’s are still small enough for a modern appearance — and Asus kept the webcam above the display where it belongs.
Mark Coppock/Digital Trends
And it wasn’t just the look that we adored. The ZenBook’s build quality was also superb. We could discern no flexing, bending, or twisting in the lid, keyboard deck, or underbelly without exerting unreasonable force. In fact, Asus designed the ZenBook S to pass the MIL-STD-810G set of tests for drops, temperature, humidity, and altitude, and it shows. Whether open or closed, the notebook felt like one solid little chunk of metal and glass — it’s the equal of the Apple MacBook and it beats out both the XPS 13 and the Spectre 13 for sheer rigidity.
The same extends to the hinge, which allowed for opening the display with one hand but still managed to hold precisely the right angle. We could pick up the notebook by the keyboard deck with the display open and carry it around with everything essentially locked in place.
One of the challenges of designing such a thin and light notebook is managing heat. The ZenBook S is just fractions of an inch thicker than the Spectre 13 and XPS 13 at 0.51 inches (although it’s thinner than the MacBook), and it’s lighter than most at just 2.2 pounds. That’s not a lot of space for managing airflow and for pushing heat out of the chassis.
Whether open or closed, the ZenBook S feels like one solid little chunk of metal and glass.
Asus took a two-pronged approach to solving this dilemma. First, it designed a new cooling system with a liquid-crystal-polymer fan that’s thinner and more efficient than previous designs. That keeps things five degrees Celsius cooler than before. And the company also built in its new ErgoLift hinge that props the keyboard up at a 5.5 degree angle, which increases airflow through rear vents that pull and expel air across the display.
Dell’s approach with the XPS 13 was to incorporate some new materials to keep the bottom of the chassis cooler to the touch. The ZenBook S’s approach is even better, because the hotter surfaces are simply lifted away from your skin entirely. The vents are also kept free if you’re using it on a bedspread, for example, and if you’re using it on a desk then there’s plenty of room to pull in cool air.
The system worked, keeping the notebook purring along for the most part and while the fan did spin up during testing, it was never too loud. And Asus bundles in a “Quiet Fan” utility that’s no gimmick — turn it on, and the utility does a remarkable job of balancing performance and fan noise. In fact, if you’re doing typical productivity tasks or watching Netflix, then the ZenBook S acts more like a fanless notebook.
Asus ZenBook S Compared To
Asus Zenbook 3 Deluxe…
Dell XPS 13 (2018)
HP Spectre 13 (2017)
LG Gram 15Z980
Asus ZenBook Flip S
Huawei Matebook X WT-W09
Toshiba Portege Z30-C1310
Toshiba Portege Z20t
HP Spectre 13t
Samsung ATIV Book 7
Acer Aspire Timeline Ultra M5
Acer Aspire S5
Lenovo IdeaPad U310
HP Folio 13
Asus Zenbook UX31
Of course, very thin machines like this are typically short on connectivity, and the ZenBook S is no exception. You get two USB-C 3.1 Gen2 ports with 40Gbps Thunderbolt 3 support for dual 4K displays and external eGPU docks, along with one USB-C 3.1 Gen1 port with data, display, and power support. Add in a conveniently-located combo audio jack, 2X2 MU-MIMO 802.11AC and Bluetooth 4.2, and that’s all your connectivity. Asus does bundle a USB-C mini-hub with a USB-C, HDMI, and USB-A port with some configurations (including our review unit), which you’ll need for accessing legacy devices.
A surprisingly comfortable keyboard and precise touchpad
Some extremely thin notebooks have terrible keyboards, and that’s simply not the case with the ZenBook S. While its keyboard has relatively short travel at 1.2mm, Asus engineered it with a snappy mechanism that provided excellent tactile feedback and a precise bottoming action during our testing.
Mark Coppock/Digital Trends
We also found the yellow backlighting behind the large, slightly sculpted keys to be consistent and attractive, with three useful levels of brightness.
It would be an excellent keyboard even on a thicker notebook, and we found it at least the equal of the very good keyboards on the HP Spectre 13 and the Dell XPS 13. And in our opinion, it’s in a completely different league compared to MacBook’s exceedingly short-travel keyboard with its “typing on a block of wood” feel.
The keyboard’s snappy mechanism has excellent tactile feedback and a precise bottoming action.
The touchpad was also excellent. It’s about as big as it could be given the size of the keyboard deck, and it provided a smooth and comfortable surface with perfect Microsoft Precision touchpad support. That means Windows 10 multitouch gestures were a pleasure to use, and we didn’t find ourselves longing for a mouse. Of course, the display supports touch and was reliable for the usual use on a traditional notebook.
Windows 10 Hello support is provided by a fingerprint reader that’s embedded in the touchpad. That’s not our favorite location, but it didn’t get in our way during use and fingerprint scanning and authentication was instantaneous and reliable.
A lovely 4K display that’s worth the hit on battery life
Our review ZenBook S came equipped with a 4K UHD display that provided a pin-sharp 331PPI while promising to exact a toll on battery life. Pixel-peepers will be happy with the option, while those who value longevity might want to opt for the Full HD alternative.
In our colorimeter tests, the display offered average color gamut support that equaled the Spectre 13 but fell short of the XPS 13’s excellent 4K display version. Color accuracy was better than both notebooks at 2.13 (less than one is considered excellent), and gamma was just slightly too dark at 2.3.
Contrast, on the other hand, was superb at 1300:1, rivaling Microsoft’s class-leading Surface line and promising deep blacks against stunning whites. Brightness was merely good at 306 nits, just exceeding the 300 nit standard we like to see on modern notebooks.
Mark Coppock/Digital Trends
Our subjective tests bore out these objective results. The ZenBook S’s display was simply excellent in all use cases, whether we were enjoying extremely sharp black text that stood out nicely against white backgrounds or Netflix at 4K with nearly perfect light and black scenes. Photo and video editing professionals might yearn for wider and more accurate colors, but for anyone else, this is a luxurious display.
Audio was also very good, thanks to the keyboard angle and downward-firing speakers that bounce sound around on a flat surface. The “Smart Amplifier” and Harmon Kardon tuning also helps, providing solid mids and detailed highs that flesh out movie trailers. Volume is good enough for a smaller room but not exceptionally loud, and of course bass is lacking as usual. It’s more than good enough for watching Netflix and listening to the occasional tune.
A good little performer
Intel’s 8th-generation Core processors generally provide great productivity performance balanced against excellent efficiency. Our review ZenBook S came equipped with the Core i7-8550U, which has been a reliable performer throughout our testing.
As usual, we weren’t disappointed. The ZenBook S performed in line with the competition, scoring well on the Geekbench 4 single- and multi-core benchmarks and easily matching the similarly-equipped HP Spectre 13 and Dell XPS 13.
The ZenBook S also did well on our video encoding test, which runs a 420MB trailer through Handbrake and encodes it as H.265 video. It was just slightly slower than the XPS 13 but faster than some other Core i7-8550U notebooks in our comparison group.
For anyone but photo and video professionals, this is a luxurious display.
Next, Asus chose the excellent Samsung PM961 PCIe SSD for the ZenBook S, which is a fast drive that typically churns through our storage benchmarks. Our review unit was equipped with the 512GB version of that drive and provided the usual speedy performance that means booting up the notebook, opening apps, and accessing files will never be a bottleneck. We only wish that Asus offered a 1TB SSD option to go with the current sizes, and that buyers could mix and match configuration options generally.
Overall, the ZenBook S provided excellent real-world performance that more than meets even high-end productivity needs. As we mentioned earlier, the chassis did get warm and the fan spun up when the system was being pushed, but the ErgoLift hinge did its job and kept any heat away from our skin. And turning on the Quiet Fan utility efficiently balances performance and fan noise for moderate productivity use in a hushed environment.
Gamers look elsewhere
The ZenBook S is limited to Intel UHD 620 integrated graphics, and so we didn’t expect much in the way of gaming chops. You’ll need to step up to a larger notebook for better gaming, such as Asus’s own ZenBook Flip 14 that includes a discrete Nvidia GeForce MX150 GPU. But so far, nobody’s managed to fit real gaming into quite so thin a notebook.
Unsurprisingly, the ZenBook S performed pretty much in line with other thin and light notebooks. It fell slightly behind the Spectre 13 and XPS 13 in the 3DMark synthetic benchmark, with scores that promise nothing better than casual games or older titles at lower resolutions and detail. In Rocket League at 1080p and performance mode, it ran at 49 frames per second (FPS), which dropped to 22 FPS in high-quality mode.
In short, don’t buy this notebook if you’re looking for portable gaming.
Easy to carry around, but there’s a 4K tax on battery life
Asus packed 50 watt-hours into the ZenBook S’s minute chassis, which is around average for this class of notebook.
The 8th-generation Intel CPU usually promises efficiency, but the 4K display on our review unit made us a bit nervous as we started our testing.
Asus worked hard to refine its thin and light ZenBook 3, and it succeeded while slightly upping the screen size (along with the thickness and weight). The ZenBook S is solid as a rock, looks great, and provides good performance with an excellent keyboard and touchpad. It comes about as close to being a perfect little notebook as any machine has so far managed. Battery life is subpar thanks to the luscious 4K display, but longevity can be improved by selecting the Full HD option — although you give up some RAM and storage space in the bargain. Speaking of options, we really wish that Asus would offer more configuration options — for example, a high-end version with the Full HD display would better meet the needs of power users and road warriors.
Is there a better alternative?
HP’s Spectre 13 is the most direct thin and light competitor, and it rivals the ZenBook S in good looks and solid productivity performance. It’s also more expensive at $1,860 for the same Core i7-8550U, 16GB of RAM, 512GB PCIe SSD, and 4K display, but even the Full HD version only beat out the ZenBook S in battery life when watching video. With the higher resolution display, we suspect that the Spectre 13 would fall even further behind in longevity.
The Dell XPS 13 is another strong competitor to the ZenBook S, offering equally good performance, a nice design, and better battery life. But it’s also considerably more expensive at $2,100 for the same Core i7-8550U, 16GB of RAM, 512GB PCIe SSD, and 4K display. And while Dell keeps the heat down as well, the ZenBook S still keeps things more comfortable with its ErgoLift hinge.
Finally, you could opt for the Apple MacBook, which is just about equally thin but slightly lighter with the same kind of rock-solid build quality. And you’ll pay more for the MacBook, at $1,950 for a 7th-generation low-power Core i7-7Y75, 16GB of RAM, 512GB PCIe SSD, and less-sharp display. You’ll give up some performance and efficiency with the MacBook, and you’re likely to greatly prefer the ZenBook S’s keyboard.
How long will it last?
Given its robust design, the ZenBook S will last as long as any other thin and light notebook and longer than most. It’s CPU and other components are the latest available, and its USB-C with Thunderbolt 3 support promises long-lasting connectivity. Asus adds a year of accident and spill protection to its standard one-year warranty, which is a real plus.
Should you buy it?
Yes. Sometimes the whole really is more than the sum of the parts, and the ZenBook S is a prime example. In fact, it’s a really small notebook that might just appeal to someone who doesn’t normally like really small notebooks. Just make sure to opt for the 1080p display if a full day’s battery life is absolutely vital.
The Samsung versus Google battle continues.
No matter what phone you’re looking at, there’s always a new one on the horizon poised to supplant it. The Galaxy Note 9 hasn’t even been announced yet, and many potential buyers are torn between buying it and waiting for the new Google Pixel 3 XL. Both phones are going to be big, powerful and filled with all of the latest specs — but we know that they’ll have different philosophies about what’s important in the smartphone experience.
Here’s what you should keep in mind when you’re weighing the choice between buying a new Galaxy Note 9 when it launches or waiting it out for the Google Pixel 3 XL.
Who should buy a Galaxy Note 9
If you’re a Galaxy Note fan, using a Note 5 or Note 8 today and enjoying the power of the S Pen, you’re likely going to be happiest just buying the Note 9 even before the Pixel 3 XL is announced. The Note line in particular has an extremely strong loyalty, and if you’re using a Note generation after generation it’s unlikely that you’ll be willing to give up all that it offers for something so dramatically different like a Google Pixel.
Samsung Galaxy Note 9 rumors: Release date, specs, price, and features!
Those tied to an S Pen won’t need to see any other phone — just get the Note 9.
Samsung’s software can be overbearing and cumbersome, but the Note users don’t care about the possibility of inconvenience because they understand just how much you can get done with a Note. That huge screen and all of the software features make it a fantastic tool for productivity and play. The Galaxy Note 9 will be filled features and software that you just aren’t going to get on a Pixel 3 XL (or just about any other phone) — if you want to tweak and truly customize the experience, you’ll still like the Note 9 more than the Pixel 3 XL.
And of course, it’s the only phone in the world that has the S Pen. We don’t yet know exactly what the new S Pen will offer above the Note 8, but even without any improvements it’s still an amazing tool that is unmatched in the industry. Whether you’re using it as a precise pointer for normal phone actions, using it write notes and sign documents, or using the great pressure sensitivity to draw, doodle and paint, the S Pen is great — and it’ll be tough to give it up if you’re already using a Note today.
Reasons to wait for the Google Pixel 3 XL
If you’re using a Google Pixel XL or Pixel 2 XL, you know the appeal of this Google-optimized Android experience. No extra cruft, duplicate apps or crappy services to deal with. No carrier bloat, delayed software updates or maintenance to be done. Just purchase the phone, put a SIM in, and start enjoying it. There’s a lot to be said for waiting to use your phone to the fullest for every possible situation, but the reality is we don’t all need a desktop-like experience in our pocket — and if you don’t, the Pixel 3 XL is going to offer a less frustrating and frankly more empowering feeling.
Google Pixel 3: News, Rumors, Release Date, Specs, and more!
Pixel owners know what it’s all about: simplicity, fluidity and power.
I’ve discussed how Note fans will want to just go straight to the new version, but there are lots of people out there who are looking at these two phones coming from some other device that isn’t a Note, or even another Samsung phone. From a more neutral perspective with less allegiance to one brand or another, the Pixel 3 XL will have extra appeal.
We have few details about what standout features Google will launch on the Pixel 3 XL, but we have an early look at Android P that shows Google is focusing on simplicity, fluidity and just a few features that make you say “wow” without being overwhelming. We know Google is making some of the best smartphone cameras in the business, and its hardware prowess was on display in the Pixel 2 XL. Let’s just hope it has picked a far better display than last year, because Samsung’s Note 9 is expected to once again be the best in the business.
If the Note 9 doesn’t immediately speak to you, the Pixel 3 XL may push all the right buttons.
The Pixel 3 XL is rumored to have a 6.2-inch display, which means it will only be marginally smaller than the Note 9 — so screen real estate alone won’t be a main factor in your decision. It remains to be seen just how much the Note 9’s bigger battery will mean for battery life, but following the trend of the Pixel 2 XL shows that both phones should be on par in that department. If you don’t see the value in having an S Pen, perhaps the Note in itself doesn’t seem all that appealing — and even if you like the Samsung software in that case you can get a Galaxy S9+.
The Pixel 3 XL will likely be a bit tougher to buy considering the Note’s international launch on just about every carrier and any retailer you walk into. But if the Note 9 doesn’t immediately align with everything you want in a phone, you should wait and see what Google does with the Pixel 3 XL — you may just be surprised by all that it offers.
Are you going to buy, or wait?
With the Note 9 reveal on the horizon and the Pixel 3 XL still a longer ways off, what are your thoughts on the two phones? Let us know which phone you’re using now, and whether you’re considering these phones or something else!
Samsung Galaxy S9 and S9+
- Galaxy S9 and S9+: Everything you need to know!
- Galaxy S9 review: A great phone for the masses
- Complete Galaxy S9 and S9+ specs
- Galaxy S9 vs. Galaxy S8: Should you upgrade?
- Join our Galaxy S9 forums
Get the pitchforks ready.
In our little mobile tech bubble, one of the most debated topics is the endless battle of Android vs. iOS.
People have been defending their mobile OS of choice for years at this point, and while we’re happy with whatever platform you decide works best for you, it is fun to analyze why folks choose Android over iOS and vice versa.
Some of our forum users recently started talking about their experience trying out iPhones, and here’s what they had to say.
07-16-2018 11:47 AM
I tried the iPhone X for awhile. I definitely didn’t hate it as much as I thought I would. Face ID worked well, iMessage was very nice, and everything seems to run without any hiccups. My deal breaker was pretty much Google stuff not syncing correctly all the time via iPhone. I know this is due to Apple only allowing their stuff full background access all the time so sometimes it would sync and…
07-16-2018 05:14 PM
Same… I tried switching to an iPhone X twice even but both times ended up returning it and sticking to the Pixel 2 XL. The camera on the Pixel along with just how much more open Android is were what made me decide that the iPhone just wasn’t for me.
I find that in order to really enjoy iOS you need to be willing to go all in with all Apple services and I just don’t want to be locked into…
07-17-2018 06:09 PM
I had an Apple Phone ( OG SE) running along side my OG Pixel.
I dont hate Apple , just like Android more.
The near stock Android such as the Nexus / Pixel line is the type I prefer of Android.
Currently running the OG Pixel and Pixel 2 XL together on different lines.
If I do update this year it will be either Pixel 3 or Pixel 3 XL
Edit : Also when I used the OG iphone SE , I had a…
07-18-2018 06:28 AM
I bought the Pixel 2 XL last week and it replaced my X as my daily driver. I personally enjoy both OS, but after trying out stock Android.. I now find iOS to be lacking in many ways. I do still enjoy the simplicity of iOS and how it just works.
There’s plenty more to be said on this subject, so we’d love to hear from you — Why do you prefer Android over iOS? Or iOS over Android?
Join the conversation in the forums!
Need a change of pace from Mario Kart? Still want to play as some of your favorite gaming mascots? Here’s everything we know about Team Sonic Racing
Everyone’s favorite hedgehog and his iconic furry friends are soon to be returning in another kart racer. Earlier in March SEGA teased a Sonic-related racing game with a short trailer titled TOP SECRET. It wasn’t hard to put the pieces together to figure out what this project was, and SEGA officially unveiled it at the end of May.
What is Team Sonic Racing?
Following in the footsteps of Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing and Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed, developer Sumo Digital is back at it with Team Sonic Racing. While Mario Kart and Diddy Kong Racing are some of the popular forefathers in the genre, Sonic certainly holds its own.
Featuring wacky vehicles and even crazier race tracks, kart racing swaps hyper-realism for cartoonish fun. You won’t be rolling through mud in next year’s model cars from Ford of Ferrari. You’ll be gliding by in your own Sonic-themed vehicle equipped with a load of power-ups and weapons that can be picked up along the track to take out your opponents.
Sonic and Friends
Team Sonic Racing is set to contain 15 playable characters from the Sonic the Hedgehog franchise. Though we don’t have a full list just yet, we do know most of the characters set to appear.
- Sonic the Hedgehog
- Knuckles the Echidna
- Miles “Tails” Prower
- Rouge the Bat
- Shadow the Hedgehog
- E-123 Omega
- Big the Cat
- Amy Rose
- Chao (with various types)
- Dr. Eggman
- Egg Pawn
You’ll be getting some of your favorite childhood heroes and villains from the series, with a few surprises to be revealed still.
What stands out in this release compared to its predecessors is that Team Sonic Racing unfortunately won’t include any playable characters outside of the Sonic the Hedgehog property, at least at launch. Previous games featured non-Sonic characters from other notable SEGA franchises like Crazy Tazi and Jet Set Radio.
According to Producer Takashi Iizuka, the team wanted to “bring to the Sonic fans a pure, Sonic universe racing game,” explaining the absence of other series. Though this doesn’t exactly rule out the possibility that non-Sonic characters may join the game post-launch at a later date, for now, it’s strictly a Sonic game.
There’s no “I” in team
The “team” in Team Sonic Racing’s name serves quite an important denotation. While traditionally a racing game is merely about being the fastest player on the track, Team Sonic Racing focuses on teamwork. That’s not to say winning doesn’t matter, it just isn’t the most crucial part.
Each race will contain four teams comprised of three players, making a total of 12 racers on the track at a time. You, along with the other characters on your team, must work together to obtain the most points. This can be done by simply helping team members who aren’t performing well by sharing power-ups. Golden rings, a staple of Sonic games, can also be collected to earn points. And of course, points will be allocated to players depending on their position in the race.
This game is very much focused on working together, and that’s going to be very interesting.
Once you fill up an Ultimate Meter with your points you can unleash a large speed boost for your entire team that allows you to mow down your rivals and spin them off course. This is an added incentive to work together and promote cooperation. If you prefer to be a lone wolf, you can still go it solo while your teammates are replaced with AI. Maybe that’ll even mean less frustration on your behalf.
Through power-ups in the form of Wisps you can gain the upper hand quickly or just as easily find yourself at the rear of the pack. One Wisp might grant you a rocket to use against an opponent while another might drop bombs onto the race track or boost your speed.
Every character will fall into one of three categories: Speed, Technique, or Power. These will dictate certain skills that they can perform. For example, a Technique-based character can drive off course over rough terrain without slowing down. A Speed-based character, as you can guess from the name, will have a higher top speed. Power-based characters will have access to more offensive Wisps.
In addition to unique character traits, you’ll be able to customize their vehicles to give them an extra advantage based on whatever playstyle you prefer. You’ll have a choice of nine parts per character, which will alter the performance of their vehicles. Should you want tighter control or only care about speed, you can equip gear to make that happen.
Between local 4-player split-screen co-op and online multiplayer, you can dive into Grand Prix, Time Trial, and Exhibition modes.
Details are scarce in regards to the game’s story mode, but Sumo Digital will be including another mode called Team Adventure that will explain why the characters are racing instead of just letting players accept that sometimes a game doesn’t always need narrative justifications for its mechanics.
There will be a wide variety of circuits that people can race on based on locations in the Sonic the Hedgehog series, though only a few have been revealed so far like a Planet Wisp circuit and a Rooftop Run Spagonia-themed circuit from Sonic Unleashed. Even with its upcoming release approaching, SEGA has been tight-lipped about everything the game will contain.
When can you play it?
Players can get their hands on Team Sonic Racing sometime near the end of 2018. SEGA has not provided an exact release date, but it is expected to launch in Q4 of this year, meaning anywhere between October and December.
It is set to release at physical retail and digitally for PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, and Xbox One. It will also receive a digital-only release on PC. So whether you prefer relaxing on your couch or gaming on-the-go, you’ll be able to enjoy Team Sonic Racing wherever and whenever you like.
You can currently pre-order the Standard Edition of Team Sonic Racing for $39.99.
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Samsung once again has a fantastic pair of flagships.
Samsung’s new Galaxy S9 and S9+ are definitely iterative updates over last year’s dramatically redesigned Galaxy S8 series, but that’s not a problem. Instead of going back to the drawing board altogether, Samsung focused on fixing a lot of the issues while making drastic improvements to the camera experience and retaining everything that made the last generation so great.
Whether you’re looking to buy or make the most of your new Galaxy S9, we have all of the information you need right here.
July 20, 2018 — New update brings 480 FPS manual slow-mo video recording
One of the big camera features for the Galaxy S9 is the ability to record things in 960 FPS ultra slow-mo. With a new update that’s rolling out to the S9 and S9+ now, there’s a new option for recording manual slow-motion videos at 480 FPS for 0.4 seconds worth of footage.
While 480 FPS isn’t quite as impressive as 960 FPS, the big difference here is that you can choose when to start recording slow-motion footage unlike the 960 FPS mode that automatically chooses for you. Also, 480 FPS video is limited to 720p.
The update is rolling out to handsets now, so be sure to keep an eye out for it.
July 9, 2018 — The U.S. unlocked Galaxy S9 is now down to $699.95 on Amazon
An unlocked Galaxy S9 typically costs $720, but on Amazon, that price has been reduced to just $699.95.
A savings of $20 isn’t particularly huge for a phone this expensive, but this is one of the lowest prices we’ve seen so far for an official U.S. unlocked variant of the S9 with Samsung’s warranty.
It’s unclear if this new pricing is only temporary or will be sticking around for a while, but if you want to grab one for yourself, click/tap that button below.
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What are the big changes over the Galaxy S8 series?
In a word, the camera. Samsung has kept the primary sensor at 12 megapixels, but that’s where the similarities end. The S9 and S9+ have adjustable apertures, switching seamlessly between f/1.5 and f/2.4, sitting in front of an all-new sensor that is great in low light. The Galaxy S9+ also gets a second 12MP sensor with a “telephoto” lens that provides 2X zoom and facilitates Live Focus, Samsung’s version of portrait mode that debuted with the Galaxy Note 8.
Samsung Galaxy S9 and S9+ specs
In terms of specs, the Galaxy S9+ (but only the S9+) has two more gigabytes of RAM than last year’s models. And let’s not downplay the importance of the fingerprint sensor being relocated to a much more sensible place on the back of the phone — below the now-vertical camera module.
Samsung Galaxy S9 review: A fantastic phone for the masses
Samsung Galaxy S9 India review: As good as it gets
Samsung Galaxy S9 review, 3 months later: Holding the high standard
Should you upgrade to the Galaxy S9?
This is the big question — and as always, it depends. If you’re running a Galaxy S6 or S7, and want to move to something new in the Samsung world, the answer is absolutely. If you’re rocking a still-new Galaxy S8 or Note 8, the answer is no. While there are substantial differences that clearly make the Galaxy S9 a better phone, the S8 is just a year old at this point, and has most of the Galaxy S9’s features thanks to its Android 8.0 Oreo update.
Samsung Galaxy S9 vs. Galaxy S8: Should you upgrade?
Samsung Galaxy S9+ vs. Galaxy Note 8: Which should you buy?
Is the Galaxy S9 better than the competition?
There are so many great phones on the market right now — how do you decide which one to buy? Here are our looks at the new phones compared to some of the best devices on the market.
The Galaxy S9 is the smaller of the flagships, and here’s how it compares to some of the other major phones on the market.
Samsung Galaxy S9 vs. iPhone X: The best of metal and glass
Samsung Galaxy S9 vs. Google Pixel 2: Which should you buy?
Samsung Galaxy S9 vs. Honor View 10
And how about the larger Galaxy S9+?
LG G7 vs. Samsung Galaxy S9+: Which should you buy?
Samsung Galaxy S9+ vs. Google Pixel 2 XL: The true flagships
OnePlus 6 vs. Samsung Galaxy S9+: Which should you buy?
Should you buy the Galaxy S9 or larger S9+?
OK, so you’ve made up your mind to buy the Galaxy S9 — but wait, should you get the S9 or the larger S9+?
Unlike last year, the Galaxy S9+ feels like more of the “default” choice of the two. It has extra RAM and a secondary rear camera in addition to its overall larger screen and bigger battery — yet the price delta between the two hasn’t changed. If you can handle the size difference and would like the extra battery life, go for the Galaxy S9+.
Here’s why the Galaxy S9+ is worth the extra money over the GS9
What colors are available?
Like last year, there are multiple colors of the Galaxy S9 series to purchase: Midnight Black, Lilac Purple, Coral Blue and Titanium Gray. U.S. buyers only get access to three of the four — silver is only available internationally — and both blue and purple are slight updates over last year.
A few months after the S9’s release, Samsung introduced two new colors in the form of Sunrise Gold and Burgundy Red.
Burgundy Red and Sunrise Gold are available around the world, and we took a look at the latter and it’s beautiful!
What color Galaxy S9 should I buy: Black, blue, purple, or silver?
Galaxy S9 and S9+ get Sunrise Gold and Burgundy Red color options; ARCore support
You can get as much as 256GB of internal storage
No matter where you decide to buy the Galaxy S9, 64GB is the default storage space that’s available with the phone. 64GB should be more than enough for most people, but if you want, you can always expand it with a microSD card.
However, if you’re someone who has a lot of local files and goes through GB like nothing, you may want to consider upgrading to a 128GB or even a 256GB model.
These larger configurations are sold exclusively on Samsung’s website and you’ll spend an extra $50 per each storage upgrade.
Samsung Galaxy S9: Which storage size should I buy?
Where can I get the best deal on a Galaxy S9?
The Galaxy S9 is now available worldwide, both from carriers and also unlocked.
In the U.S., the Galaxy S9 costs between $720 and $800, while the Galaxy S9+ goes for between $870 and $915. For all the details, take a look at our roundup of the best Galaxy S9 deals.
Where to buy the Galaxy S9: Best deals for your new phone
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Getting started with the Galaxy S9
Once you pick up your new phone, there are a few things you should do immediately. Here’s how to make your GS9 experience great!
The first 9 things to do with your Galaxy S9
The first 5 things to turn off in the Galaxy S9’s software
What’s this about bad battery life with the Exynos processor?
Samsung has regularly used both its own processors and Qualcomm’s latest chips in different markets, and it’s regularly been a point of discussion between enthusiasts as to which one is “better” overall.
In the Galaxy S9 and S9+, there’s a clear differentiation in that the Exynos versions of the phone have been getting much shorter battery life. To make things worse, the Qualcomm models are also outperforming Exynos in many synthetic benchmark tests.
So what can you do? Well, not much — Samsung doesn’t sell both versions of the phones in the same markets, so you can’t exactly cross-shop the two processors. The hope is that Samsung could update the firmware on the Exynos models to improve processor efficiency a bit.
Samsung Galaxy S9 battery problems, explained: Exynos vs. Snapdragon
Help me get started with accessories!
Once you have your Galaxy S9 or S9+, you’ll want to look into accessories like cases and screen protectors that make the phone even better. We’ve rounded up our favorites for you.
The best Galaxy S9 accessories
The best cases for the Galaxy S9
Four Great Quick Chargers for Galaxy S9
Spigen Rigged Armor case for Galaxy S9+ review: Low cost, rugged protection
Maxboost mSnap case for Galaxy S9 review: The only case you need
Having battery life problems?
The Galaxy S9 isn’t perfect —obviously, no phone is — but if you’re experiencing battery life problems, we have a guide on how to fix that.
How to fix Galaxy S9 battery life problems
Updated June 27, 2018: Added links to recent case reviews, accessory roundups, and information on new color options.
Samsung Galaxy S9 and S9+
- Galaxy S9 and S9+: Everything you need to know!
- Galaxy S9 review: A great phone for the masses
- Complete Galaxy S9 and S9+ specs
- Galaxy S9 vs. Galaxy S8: Should you upgrade?
- Join our Galaxy S9 forums
Have a OnePlus phone? Here’s what’s new with your latest update.
OxygenOS is the software that powers OnePlus phones, and even if you’re not enrolled in the Open Beta, it’s still frequently updated with new features and bug fixes to keep an eye out for.
It can be tough to keep track of what’s new, so we’ll be updating this guide with each new OxygenOS update that’s rolled out.
July 20, 2018 — OnePlus 3/3T get July 2018 security patch with OxygenOS 5.0.4
Have a OnePlus 3 or 3T? You should be getting an OTA update soon that updates it to OxygenOS 5.0.4.
This is a pretty minor update, with the highlight being the July 2018 security patch. On the camera side of things, OnePlus has added a fix for an issue when adjusting manual ISO in third-party camera apps and improved the image quality for the front-facing camera.
You’ll also find bug fixes for a parallel WhatsApp crash issue and problems users have had when zooming in with the front camera in Snapchat.
This update is rolling out to all OnePlus 3/3T owners now, and if you have the phone but it’s enrolled in the Open Beta, OnePlus says it’ll update the download link once the global rollout is finished so you can switch back to a stable build now that the beta program has ended for the two older phones.
July 17, 2018 — OxygenOS 5.1.9 brings better dynamic range to OnePlus 6 camera, Google Lens integration
OnePlus is starting to roll out OxygenOS 5.1.9 build, with the update focusing on the OnePlus 6’s camera. The update will bring improvements to the autofocus and edge detection in portrait mode, as well as further enhancements to image clarity and dynamic range.
Additionally, the update will also bring Google Lens integration to the OnePlus camera app, allowing users to scan QR codes and get information about real-world objects. OnePlus says Google Lens will be making its way to the OnePlus 5 and 5T in addition to the OnePlus 6.
The update should be rolling out to select regions starting later today, and will be available more widely from July 20.
- OnePlus 6 review
- OnePlus 6 vs. OnePlus 5T: How much changes in six months?
- OnePlus 6 vs. OnePlus 5: Should you upgrade?
- These are the official OnePlus 6 cases
- The OnePlus 6 doesn’t work on Verizon or Sprint
- Join the discussion in the forums
The best alternative to Bose’s popular QC35 IIs.
If there’s any one piece of tech I’ve consistently recommended that all my friends go out and buy, it’s a good set of noise-canceling headphones. Whether you’re sitting on a long flight, writing in your favorite coffee shop, or just trying to drown out noisy neighbors, there’s no better way to block out the rest of the world.
There are plenty of noise-canceling headphones available, but I’ve been using Sony’s WH1000XM2 set for about nine months, and they’ve become an absolute necessity in my daily routine.
Sony WH1000XM2 Wireless Headphones
Bottom line: The WH1000XM2s sound better than the Bose QC35s to my ears, and come in at $50 cheaper.
- Phenomenal noise canceling
- Great battery life
- Google Assistant built in
- Clean, clear sound with ambient sound mode
- Option to go wired
- Aging Micro-USB port
- Google Assistant replaces Ambient Sound mode
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Nothing’s getting through these
Sony WH1000XM2 What I like
Where to begin? Let’s break down the name, because it’s sort of all over the place.
The WH1000XM2 is Sony’s second-generation over-the-ear noise canceling headphones, the first being … no, not the WH1000XM1, but the MDR-1000X. Yeah, I’m not really sure what that’s about either, but the WH in the name stands for “wireless headphones.” 1000X denotes the product line — Sony also makes earbuds called the WF-1000X — and M2 ostensibly stands for “mark two.”
Got it? Good.
The sound quality, noise canceling, and fit and finish of the 1000XM2s are all superb.
The 1000XM2s are incredibly well-made, with no signs of creaking or give. The headband is flexible and sturdy, and the cups are soft and big enough to fully cover your ears for proper sealing. These are incredibly comfortable headphones that I wear for hours on a near-daily basis without ever experiencing fatigue or discomfort. Even nine months down the road, the fit and finish of the 1000XM2 hasn’t aged at all — these headphones still look like the day I bought them.
You can get the 1000XM2s in either black or champagne gold, but either color comes with a black carrying case, which also contains an airplane adapter for wired audio. I tend to toss the headphones into my bag without the case and they’ve held up just fine, but if you’re particularly worried about them getting hurt in transit, the case is a nice inclusion.
As far as controls go, there’s a power button on the left cup, as well as a toggle for active noise canceling and Sony’s Ambient Sound mode, which uses the built-in microphones to feed the sounds of your environment into your ears. It’s one of my favorite features of the headphones, since it allows you to hold conversations with others without interrupting your music.
The right cup doesn’t feature any physical buttons — just a Micro-USB port for charging (yes, a USB-C port would’ve been preferable). Instead, the entire surface of the cup acts as a gesture pad. Double-tap on the cup to play or pause your music, swipe left to go to the previous track, and swipe right to skip to the next one. If you’re in active noise canceling mode, you can also hold your hand over the entire cup to quickly switch to Ambient Sound mode, then let go to switch back.
In short, the controls are great, but none of that really matters if the sound quality isn’t equally great. Luckily, these are some of the best-sounding Bluetooth headphones I’ve ever heard. Of course, they should be considering their high price tag, but I prefer the sound of the 1000XM2s over even the more expensive Bose QC35 IIs; it sounds full and fairly balanced, without exaggerated bass response or sharp high end.
Oh, and the noise canceling is incredible. I don’t know that it quite matches up to Bose’s legendary noise canceling, but it’s enough that with music playing at even low volumes, I genuinely can’t hear someone talking right next to me. It’s enough to completely shut out background noise at the coffee shop I frequent, even during open mic night with locals strumming away on their acoustic guitars.
A few months ago, the 1000XM2s received an update that brought support for Google Assistant to the headphones, which works exactly as you might expect. You can ask about the weather or upcoming calendar appointments, but I mostly use it to choose the next song when my phone is too far to just open Spotify.
Sony WH1000XM2 What I don’t like
That does lead to one of the things that irks me about the headphones, though — while Google Assistant integration is nice, it overrides the Ambient Sound toggle, disabling my favorite feature of the headphones. While you can still hold your hand over the right cup to temporarily enable Ambient Sound, I spend far too much time with the mode enabled for that to be a viable solution.
Google Assistant support is nice, but it forces you to give up the Ambient Sound toggle.
I’m also annoyed that Sony’s second-generation 1000X headphones still use Micro-USB in the age of USB-C. That’s an acceptable choice on cheap headphones, but these are anything but, and considering Sony’s smartphones have been using USB-C for a few years now, I’m not sure why Micro-USB is still here. It’s not a deal-breaker by any means, but it means that I have to carry an extra cable with me on long trips.
On the other hand, the internal battery lasts so long that it almost doesn’t matter. Sony estimates about an insane 30 hours of continuous playback with noise canceling on and 38 without, and while I haven’t logged exact hours, I can say that even with daily use, I only end up charging my 1000XM2s about once every other week.
Another minor annoyance is that the 1000XM2s only support one Bluetooth connection at a time, whereas the Bose QC35s can handle up to two. That’s usually not a huge deal, but it’s still annoying having to pair them all over again every time I want to switch devices. If you find it too bothersome, you can always use an auxiliary cable and forego Bluetooth altogether, which also saves on battery life.
Sony WH1000XM2 Wireless Headphones
As I mentioned at the beginning of this review, the 1000XM2s are the first product I recommend to any of my friends when they ask about headphones. $300 is a lot to shell out for any pair of headphones, but particularly if you often travel or work out of busy environments like coffee shops and find it hard to focus, the 1000XM2s are well worth the money.
out of 5
If you need to run multiple Bluetooth connections at once, the Bose QC35s may still be the better option for you, and depending on your sonic preferences you may prefer their sound signature as well. But having used both extensively, I vastly prefer Sony’s headphones and can’t recommend them enough, so long as you have deep enough pockets and a busy enough travel schedule to justify buying them.
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