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12
Aug

Google offering back-to-school deals on Pixel 2 XL, Pixelbook, Google Home


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A great way to gear up for a new school year.

It’s already August, and that means people are well in the swing of buying the tech necessary for the upcoming school year. No matter the grade level, it’s basically a requirement that you have some sort of phone and/or laptop to get the most work done — and Google’s latest products are a great place to start.

To make the purchases a little bit more palatable, Google is running a variety of discounts on its latest and greatest — the Pixel 2 XL, Pixelbook, Google Home, Home Mini, Chromecast Ultra and Pixel Buds. Each of the deals runs for a different amount of time, with a different start and end date. It’s all a bit confusing, but here’s a list of all of the deals and the date range they run.

  • Pixel 2 XL: $100 off + $50 store credit + free home Mini (Aug 12 – Sept 1)
  • Pixelbook: $250 off the 128GB model (Aug 12 – Sept 3)
  • Google Home Mini: $10 off or buy 2 and save $40 (Aug 19 – Sept 3)
  • Google Home: $30 off or $65 Home + Home Mini (Aug 19 – Sept 3)
  • Chromecast Ultra: $10 off (Aug 26 – Sept 6)
  • Pixel Buds: $50 off (Aug 12 – Sept 1)

Some of the deals are better than others. The Pixel 2 XL, Pixelbook and Google Home + Home Mini deals in particular are pretty solid, especially if you were already planning on picking up multiple Google devices at once. All of the deals will be applied automatically when you add the products to your cart at the Google Store — just make sure you’re buying during the listed dates above.

Google Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL

  • Pixel 2 FAQ: Everything you need to know!
  • Google Pixel 2 and 2 XL review: The new standard
  • Google Pixel 2 specs
  • Google Pixel 2 vs. Pixel 2 XL: What’s the difference?
  • Join our Pixel 2 forums

Best Buy
Verizon
Google Store
Project Fi

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12
Aug

Security keys are a great fail-safe way to get into your Google account


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Two-factor authentication can protect your account, and a security key makes for a great backup if you lose your phone.

We’ve gone over why using two-factor authentication on your online accounts is a good idea, and showed you how to set it up for your Google account as well as how to get started with Authy if you use more than one phone or computer. But we’re not done yet!

Google offers what it calls the Advanced Protection Program for folks who need very tight security and controlled access to their account. People like executives, movie stars, politicians and the like. It uses security keys to validate who you are as a two-factor method. Advanced Protection is probably too much hassle for most of us, but a security key is an awesome little tool. It can do to help secure your Google account, and is also a cover-your-butt backup in case you lose your phone — and the authenticator app you installed on it. They’re relatively cheap, easy to set up and can get you into your Google account from any computer anywhere.

What are you talking about? Why do I want one of these things?

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A security key is a small plastic key-shaped device you can plug into a USB port on a Computer or use wirelessly. Some of them light up, some have a small touch-sensitive button, and some have both. But they don’t really do anything, you just plug them in. At least it looks like they don’t do anything.

What you can’t see is the tiny chip inside the plastic. When it’s powered up by putting it in a USB port or pressing the button to connect wirelessly, a secure token can be read. Software on a computer can get this token and compare it against what it expects and see if the two match. That software can use this result to do “stuff.” When you go to log onto your Google account from a computer, the web page code can read one of these keys. If everything matches, you get a green light and can get into your account. If things don’t match, you get an error. Everything is encrypted, everything is safe, and no two keys are the same.

A USB key is like plug-and-play account recovery.

It’s a “thing you have” that can be used to authenticate who you are. When used in tandem with your username and password, it makes things very difficult for someone pretending to be you on the internet. It makes for a great piece of a 2FA scheme, but it’s best to add it as a third authentication method along with the authenticator app on your phone. It’s even a good idea to use more than one of them.

Let’s say you get on a plane and head out somewhere nice for a week or so. During the commotion at the baggage carousel or the rental car desk, you lose (or someone steals) your carry-on. Inside was your smartphone and your laptop. If you have 2FA set up on your Google account and don’t have another computer or phone that’s already logged in you have three options.

  • Find those backup codes Google told you were important to print out and keep safe.
  • Call Google and work your way through their account recovery process and hope for the best. Also, hope that the information you have on file with Google is correct and you can remember it.
  • Scream and shout because you now need to make a new account and will lose everything you had before.

The first option is the best one. Those recovery codes are an easy way in, and Google even tells you how important it is to keep track of them. Mine are … somewhere. The second option can be a crapshoot, and frankly, shouldn’t even exist. Google should never give you access to a 2FA protected account if you can’t provide both methods of authentication. Knowing your mother’s maiden name or the name of your first pet is a ridiculous security challenge, and if I had my phone to take a call and get a code I wouldn’t be asking in the first place. And the third option, well, that would suck. None of us want to think about the third option.

If you had a security key (or two) set up on your account you would have a fourth — log in at any computer, and plug your key in when asked. I have two of them — one on my keychain, and one at my house that I won’t lose.

How to set up a security key

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This part is easy. All you need is access to a computer with a USB port or Bluetooth — Chromebooks work just fine — and the key itself. There’s a link to a good one at the bottom of the page.

Visit the web page for your account settings. Here’s a handy link. Click the Sign in & security link near the top, then look for the link that says 2-Step Verification under the Password & sign-in method section. If you’ve never set up two-factor authentication, you’ll be walked through setting it up with either a text message, Google prompt on another phone, or a security key. I’d recommend you also set up another 2FA method, too.

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You’ll need to provide your password and you’ll see a link to set up a security key in the list of choices for 2FA if this is your first time using it, or on a tab by itself at the top of the page. Click away.

They’re cheap enough, so buy more than one.

Make sure your key isn’t already plugged in and click that button. Read the instructions that open, but you already removed the key because you’re smart and you read Android Central. Click the Register button and plug in your key when it tells you to plug in your key. If your key has a “button” — a metallic round disk on one side and not really a button — you’ll have to lightly place your finger on it. It’s not reading your fingerprint, it’s just a switch that closes the circuit so Google and your key can sync and set up a token that proves you are really you.

And you’re done. It will tell you that you’re done even. The next time you’re at a computer and asked to log into your Google account, it will ask for your key after you’ve entered your password. You put it in and place your finger on the button if it has one, and it can verify you. If you don’t have your key with you, you can still use another 2FA method like the app installed on your phone. And you can have more than one key attached to your account so you have a backup of your backup.

Stay safe out there!

Feitian MultiPass Bluetooth key at Amazon

Yubico USB key at Amazon

12
Aug

With the Galaxy Note 9, the Note line has a new purpose


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Samsung’s repositioning of the Galaxy Note as power-user phone bodes well for the series’ continued prosperity.

We’ve often asked what makes a Galaxy Note phone special. Sure, the Note is able to boast its place in smartphone history as the first mainstream “phablet” device, having first launched way back in 2011. But why buy a Note today when there are so many other great, big phones on the market — many of which sell for a fraction of the Galaxy Note 9’s eye-watering $1000 starting price?

Since Samsung first introduced a larger Galaxy S model with the S7 edge, the question has been even more pressing. The Note, launching later in the year, has also had to compete with a similarly-specced Galaxy S phone. Samsung was competing with itself, perhaps needlessly. (Some opinion pieces around the time of the Note 7 debacle even blamed Samsung’s woes with that phone on the pressure to compete with the larger S7.)

In 2017, the case for the Note’s existence was even more precarious. A second rear camera was added in the Note 8, but at the cost of a smaller battery. The display was only slightly larger than the S8 Plus, but in a much bulkier body.

So why buy a Note? Or, for Samsung, why even build a Note? The company solves the Galaxy Note problem this year by returning the series to its power-user roots. It could be argued that Samsung needed to start competing on raw specs again anyway, in light of even more phones with 8GB of RAM, 256GB or more internal storage, and gigantic batteries, from Chinese competitors. Nevertheless, the significant spec bump brought to bear in the Note 9 also puts the device on firmer footing within Samsung’s own lineup.

Recently, the dividing lines between the Galaxy S and Note lines have blurred considerably, largely to the detriment of the Note.

The Galaxy S and S Plus series are your mainstream flagship phones, coming in both big and not-so-big variants. The Galaxy S gets the new processors and camera tech first. The Galaxy Note, however, is more about those value-added specs: Extra storage and RAM, battery power, and of course the S Pen.

The Note 9’s upgraded, Bluetooth-enabled stylus is also an important part of that differentiation. For years the core technology behind the S Pen has barely changed. It’d become more responsive, with more levels of pressure-sensitivity. But all the new S Pen features were driven by software, not hardware. With the wireless S Pen, a world of new, Note-only features for this remote control come into focus. And an SDK is on the way to allow developers to build more still.

A powered, wireless S Pen presents all kinds of possibilities for future Notes too, if the requisite power and miniaturization hurdles can be overcome. How about gesture input via a built-in gyro, or trackpad input through a sensor on top of the button?

Over the past three years, the dividing lines between the Galaxy S and Galaxy Note lines have been blurred considerably, largely to the detriment of the Note. Now, they’re starting to become more clearly defined. With the Galaxy S10, I expect Samsung to emphasize a sleek, possibly near-bezelless chassis, as the next evolution in its design language. Expect trade-offs in terms of battery size and RAM/storage, as Samsung aims for an affordable “mainstream” price. When it’s Note 10 time, it’ll be bigger, bulkier, with higher prices, more storage, and a more capacious battery. That, after all, is now what makes a Note a Note.

Other mid-August odds and ends:

  • Android Pie is a thing, and the finished version of Android 9 has been running well for me on the Pixel 2 XL. The next step: How quickly will beta program devices like the OnePlus 6 get the update? That’s the big payoff that justifies the program’s existence for non-Pixel phones.
  • Of course the real test for Project Treble will be phones like the Galaxy S9 and LG G7. How quickly can Trebelized phones running Oreo get their slice of the Pie.
  • I’m still using the HTC U12+, post-button-fix-update. It’s still not perfect. The camera’s too slow to start up, the battery life is acceptable but little more. But it’s a fine phone with excellent performance and great photographic capabilities. Check out our revised review and my video review redux, which includes an intro segment laced with HTC nostalgia, and a neon backdrop courtesy of Taipei’s Ximending district.
  • I’ve yet to actually hold a Samsung Galaxy Watch but I’m lukewarm based on what I’ve seen so far. When I’m back on a Samsung phone (likely a Note 9), I’ll be sticking with my Gear Sport. This looks like another boring, bulky smartwatch that tries to compete with the Apple Watch on functionality, while largely coasting on the design. Maybe I’ll change my mind when I see one in the flesh, but right now this is just an uglier version of last year’s Gear Sport.
  • Also, Samsung isn’t commenting on what’s happening with the Gear brand in future. Galaxy is a stronger brand, sure. But will we see a Galaxy Fit wristband, or Galaxy VR headset in the future? Who knows.
  • Oh Bixby!

That’s it for now. I’ll be back with an IFA-themed Editor’s Desk in a few weeks!

-Alex

12
Aug

Cleaning your PlayStation 4 is a breeze with these tips!


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Keeping your console clean is mandatory for the best gaming experience!

Your PlayStation 4(PS4) is a behemoth when it comes to delivering awesome games, movies, and even VR content. However, you may start to notice some slow down if you let dust build up over time, and nobody wants that. To keep your console running as efficiently as possible you definitely need to keep it clean. Thankfully, this is an easy task that should only take about 10 minutes of your time so long as you keep up with the maintenance.

Aside from cleaning processes we also have some tips to help you keep your PS4 clean and ready at all times. Check out everything below and happy gaming!

Get yourself a can of compressed air

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One of the things that all tech gurus should have available is a can of compressed air. It’s not only handy with your PlayStation 4, but a lot of your tech gear as well. Thankfully you can grab a pack of Amazon for about $11. That might seem like a high number for a few cans of air, but they’re going to last you quite a bit of time (or at least be massively useful enough to make up for the price)!

See at Amazon.

Using compressed air to clean your PlayStation

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Your PlayStation 4 is covered with vents that are located at the front, sides, and back of the system and they have a tendency to get absolutely covered in dust. To take care of this all that you need to do is go ahead and point the nozzle of the can at those vents and then spray in short measured bursts. You ought to see the dust clear out of all the vents very quickly, and since PlayStation 4 consoles are black it’s easy to see where the dust has evacuated the system.

Make sure you aren’t shoving the air tube too far into the console. You want to make sure it’s close enough to get that burst of air, but by no means doe it ever needs to make it’s way directly in the vents. Also, make sure to hold the can upright so no moisture comes out when you spray it. Moisture is incredibly bad, especially if it gets into the inner components. Likewise, you want to ensure that you hit all the vents on the system so you don’t miss built up dust somewhere. By cleaning out all of the vents, you’re ensuring the system is able to expel excess heat which helps reduce strain on the internal components.

Get yourself a microfiber cloth

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Microfiber cloths are another endlessly useful tools when it comes to cleaning all of your tech gear. When you think about them you usually only assume they’re good for glasses, screens or computers, but that’s not true! There’s plenty of uses for them with your PlayStation 4 as well. You can stock up on microfibre clothes for cheap with this Amazon Basics 24-pack for $13.50. After that you can read on below to see how to use them to keep your console clean!

See at Amazon.

Using your microfiber cloth to clean your PlayStation

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Now if your system frequently turns gray with dust, you might be tempted to hit it with a wet wipe of some kind. Do not, we repeat, do not do that. You never want to introduce any kind of moisture to the system. Instead, what you’ll want to use is a microfiber cloth. Using the cloth you’ll want to wipe the entire system down. This includes the top, sides, front, and back. Depending on how you have your console set up, wiping down the bottom isn’t a bad call either. If you’re dealing with a lot of dust you may need to clean the cloth off a few times, but the shiny black of a clean console is very easy to differentiate.

It’s not a bad idea to give your controllers a quick wipe down either! Save those for last though, as they might be oily from your hands and you don’t want to transfer that oil to the actual console. Another recommended tip is to wipe the console down with the cloth after you’ve sprayed out the vents with your compressed air. This way all the dust particles are already out and in the open for you to banish forever!

Cleaning your Dualshock 4 controllers

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Much like your system, if your controllers sit on a rack all day long they are going to accumulate dust. All that you need to do is go ahead and use a cleaning cloth to wipe down the controller. While wet wipes are still a general no-no, they can be used on the controller so long as you are avoiding the headphone jack, and charge port. When wiping down the controller you’ll want to pay special attention to all of the buttons, the analog sticks, and the light bar at the back of the controller.

Specifically, you want to ensure there’s no dust or grime blocking that light bar, especially if you are playing PlayStation VR games since the camera needs to be able to properly see that light bar. Likewise, nobody wants to use a controller with sticky buttons caused by dust or debris. If that’s exactly what you’re dealing with, your best bet is to turn off the controller and then use a wet wipe to clean away the dust and grime. This can also be particularly handy for those times when you can’t actually see what is causing a button of the analog stick to get stuck. Just ensure that the controller has plenty of time to dry out before use, and limit the amount of moisture as much as possible to avoid damage.

If you’re still a little anxious using that kind of moisture on a controller, your best bet is to use the compressed air on the buttons and analog sticks. Keeping it at a safe distance where you’re still able to blow out the dust, this will be the easiest way to get the dust out. It’s great for your controllers, and there is less of a chance of any harm to them since it’s much harder to get to the inside of them.

Cleaning your PlayStation Move controllers

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The first thing that you want to do is pick your compressed air back up. With controlled bursts, spray all of the ports and crevices on the controller to make sure there isn’t any dust hiding in a sneaky spot. From there, all you need to do is go ahead and wipe down the rest of the controller with a microfiber cloth. If there is any sticky residue, use a slightly damp paper towel or wet wipe while avoiding all ports.

If you have a pair of Move controller that you want to bust out, but is particularly dusty, there are a few things to remember. The PlayStation camera reads Move controllers by tracking the lights in the bulb of each controller, so you want to ensure that they are as clean of dust and debris as possible. Likewise, cleaning out the ports, and around the button ensures that you won’t get distracted while playing a game.

Tips

It’s basically impossible to keep your system entirely clear of dust, but there are a few things that you can do to help minimize the amount of dust or debris you need to clean. Just keep in mind that the PlayStation 4 console is essentially a dust magnet thanks to that shiny black exterior.

  • Keep it away from pets: If you have dogs or cats, try to keep the console as far from the floor as possible so that animal hair isn’t getting stuck on your system.
  • Avoid glass entertainment centers: Glass already has a tendency to attract dust, so if you set up your PS4 on a glass entertainment center you can expect your system to need a good cleaning about once a week or so. You can set your system in a vertical orientation or invest in a dust cover to help keep the dust to a minimum.
  • Don’t store in an enclosed space Not only can this cause the system to overheat, but dust will also gather up in these spaces.
  • Don’t smoke in the house: Cigarette smoke causes faster dirt accumulation, and this definitely includes your console.
  • Don’t take your PlayStation apart to try to clean the inside: Not only will this completely void your warranty, there is a higher chance of hurting your PlayStation, especially if you’re not a professional.

Keep it clean

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As you can see, PlayStation 4 consoles are going to get dirty; it doesn’t matter if they are sitting up on a shelf or hanging out on the entertainment center. What matters is knowing how to properly clean it up and get it back up and running in tip-top shape after it’s gone gray with dust. Armed with just a microfiber cloth and some compressed air, you can easily dispatch the army of dust bunnies that have taken up residence on your console and its controllers. Do you have a particular tip for cleaning your system? Is there something we missed? Be sure to drop us a comment below and tell us about it!

PlayStation 4

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  • PS4 vs. PS4 Slim vs. PS4 Pro: Which should you buy?
  • PlayStation VR Review
  • Playing PS4 games through your phone is awesome

Amazon

Updated June 2018: We’ve updated this guide with all the latest information for keeping your console clean!

12
Aug

Everything that’s new with notifications in Android 9.0 Pie


Android 9.0 Pie is finally here, bringing with it a number of new features and updates that could seriously change your Android experience. Perhaps the biggest of those changes is what Google has done to notifications, which are now much easier to tweak, and much more functional.

Confused about what’s different in Android 9.0 Pie? That’s why we’ve put together this guide. Here are the biggest changes to notifications in Android 9.0 Pie and how you can take advantage of them.

Tweaked notifications shade

Before diving into the nitty gritty of the new features found in Android 9.0 Pie’s notifications, we’ll take a look at the visual changes — and there are a few of them. With Android 9.0 Pie, the notifications shade has been tweaked to look a little more like a card, featuring rounded corners and a new section for each notification.

A few other visual tweaks have also been made — the maximum number of notification icons in the task bar has been reduced to four, and the quick settings have been given a more vibrant color. Last but not least, there’s a new button to “manage notifications” from right under the notifications shade.

Edit the notifications you get

Android 9.0 Pie also makes it a whole lot easier to manage the exact types of notifications you get. Not only can you tweak which apps send you notifications, but you can also get a whole lot more granular and tweak specific types of notifications from those apps. That’s a pretty helpful feature — and there’s a few ways to go about using it.

For starters, perhaps the most useful way to make use of blocking certain notifications is from notifications themselves. If a notification pops up that you don’t consider important, simply hold down the notification, then tap the small information button, represented by an “i” icon, in the top right of that notification. You’ll then be taken to the app’s settings. Tap the Notifications option, and you’ll be presented with a list of notifications being sent by that app, with checkmarks next to each type. To make things easier, the notification that you were sent should be highlighted, so you can quickly uncheck it if you want.

Over time, this should seriously help you refine the notifications you get so that only notifications you find important show up.

Smart replies

Another big change to notifications is that Google is making it easier to do more from them. One way it’s doing so is through Smart Replies, which are essentially automatically generated responses you can send to messages you get. When you get a message from a compatible app, you’ll see the message along with a few generated responses that you can tap on to send — without ever having to worry about typing up a reply. Smart Replies only works with a few apps for now, but it’s likely that list will continue to grow.

Do not disturb

Last but not least is Do Not Disturb, which has once again been tweaked in the latest version of Android. In Android 9.0 Pie, you can manually change the settings of Do Not Disturb. To do so, long press the Do Not Disturb icon from the quick settings, after which you’ll be presented with three options — Behavior, Exceptions, and Schedule.

  • Behavior lets you toggle what’s muted in Do Not Disturb. Commonly, everything except alarms and repeat calls are muted.
  • Exceptions allows you to whitelist contacts or callers as well as reminders and events.
  • Schedule allows you to have Do Not Disturb manually turn on at a certain time, at an event, or while you’re driving.

Editors’ Recommendations

  • Android 9.0 Pie: Everything you need to know
  • Android 9.0 Pie vs. iOS 12: How notifications have changed
  • How to use Do Not Disturb mode in Android
  • The best and worst features of Android 9.0 Pie
  • How to turn off notifications in Android



12
Aug

Samsung Galaxy Note 9 vs. Huawei P20 Pro: Two high-end phones clash


Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

Samsung’s Galaxy Note 9 is finally here, and it’s a magnificent tour de force, representing everything a 2018 Android flagship needs to be. While it’s fresh out of the gate, we had the chance to pair it up against one of the marketplace’s seasoned veterans. The Huawei P20 Pro has a long-lasting battery, super-smooth performance, and an incredible triple-lens camera.

Out of these two amazing flagship phones, which one’s best for you? We pitted them head-to-head to find out.

Specs

Samsung Galaxy Note 9
Huawei P20 Pro

Size
161.9 x 76.4 x 8.8mm (6.37 x 3 x 0.35 inches)
155 x 73.9 x 7.8 mm (6.1 x 2.91 x 0.31 inches)

Weight
201 grams (7.09 ounces)
180 grams (6.35 ounces)

Screen size
6.4-inch Super AMOLED
6.1-inch OLED display

Screen resolution
2,960 x 1440 pixels (516 pixels per inch)
2,240 x 1,080 pixels (408 pixels-per-inch)

Operating system
Samsung Experience UI (over Android 8.1 Oreo)
Emotion UI 8.1 (over Android 8.1 Oreo)

Storage space
128GB (with 6GB of RAM), 512GB (with 8GB of RAM)

128GB

MicroSD card slot
Yes, up to 2TB
No

Tap-to-pay services
Google Pay, Samsung Pay
Google Pay

Processor
Qualcomm Snapdragon 845
Kirin 970

RAM
6GB (with 128GB storage), 8GB (with 512GB storage)
6GB

Camera
Dual 12MP (with OIS) and 12MP zoom (with OIS) rear, variable aperture, 8MP front
Triple lens 40MP, 20MP, & 8MP rear, 24MP front

Video
2,160p at 60 frames per second, 1,080p at 240 fps, 720p at 960 fps
2,160p at 30 frames per second, 1,080p at 30 fps, 720p at 960 fps

Bluetooth version
Bluetooth 5.0
Bluetooth 4.2

Ports
3.5mm headphone jack, USB-C
USB-C

Fingerprint sensor
Yes
Yes

Water resistance
IP68
IP67

Battery
4,000mAh

QuickCharge 2.0

Qi wireless charging

4,000mAh

Huawei SuperCharge fast-charging

App marketplace
Google Play Store
Google Play Store

Network support
T-Mobile, AT&T, Verizon, Sprint
T-Mobile, AT&T

Colors
Ocean Blue, Lavender Purple
Black, Blue, Pink Gold, Twilight

Price
Starting from $1,000
800 British pounds (around $1,030)

Buy from
Amazon, Best Buy, Walmart, Samsung

Huawei, Amazon

Review score
Hands-on review
4.5 out of 5 stars

Performance, battery life, and charging

You will get great performance regardless of which of these two phones you pick. The P20 Pro scored high in our review benchmarks, but it has since been superseded by the raw power of the Snapdragon 845 — the chip you will find in the Note 9, alongside Samsung’s new water cooling system. You would be hard-pressed to tell the difference in most circumstances though, since the P20 Pro’s Kirin 970 provides smooth performance, and didn’t struggle with anything we threw at it.

The Note 9 has an advantage in storage capacity, thanks to the addition of a 512GB model that brings the Note 9 to a theoretical 1TB of storage (with a Samsung 512GB MicroSD card). The P20 Pro only has a single option for 128GB, with no MicroSD card slot. RAM is in the Note 9’s favor too, with the 512GB model coming with 8GB — 2GB more than the 6GB on the P20 Pro.

Both of these phones are packing a 4,000mAh battery, with the P20 Pro managing an incredible two days of battery life. You can expect the Note 9 to manage at least a day, but until we test it fully, we can’t vouch for battery life just yet. Both have fast-charging equipped, but only the Note 9 has wireless charging.

This is an exceptionally tough category to mark, with both devices showcasing incredible performance, but the Note 9 edges the win with slightly faster performance and wireless charging support.

Winner: Samsung Galaxy Note 9

Design and durability

Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

Both of these devices are attractive glass and metal builds with a lot to admire. The Note 9’s gentle glass curves are extremely elegant, while the P20 Pro’s constantly shifting colors are beautiful to behold. You’ll find USB-C ports on both, but only the Note 9 has a headphone jack — so keep that in mind if your headphones are important to you. The P20 Pro also has a notched display — a design choice that could put some users off.

There is a bigger gap in durability. While both are fragile glass phones that will probably need a case for your peace of mind, the Note 9 comes with IP68-rated water resistance. That is stronger protection than the P20 Pro’s IP67-rating, and while it might not sound like much, it could make a difference if your phone ends up in the pool. Accidents happen, and it’s good to know that your expensive flagship is well protected.

It’s still extremely difficult to pick between the two in this category — but we think the headphone jack and the increased water resistance squeeze it for the Note 9.

Winner: Samsung Galaxy Note 9

Display

Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

Large OLED displays dominate both of these phones, with the P20 Pro’s screen at 6.1 inches, and the Note 9’s at 6.4 inches. Both are excellent, with bold color reproduction and the deep inky blacks you would expect from OLED displays. However, the Note 9 comes with a considerably higher resolution, which consequently gives it an edge in sharpness. It scores a pixels-per-inch measurement of 516, beating the P20 Pro’s 408 by a distance. The Note 9’s display is just sharper and crisper, and it wins this round.

Winner: Samsung Galaxy Note 9

Camera

Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

The Note 9’s main camera suite will come with two 12-megapixel lenses — one equipped with the S9’s variable aperture, the other with a 2x optical zoom lens. We haven’t had a chance to really play with the Note 9’s camera yet, but we’re expecting strong all-around performance. The Note 9 is also able to shoot video in 4K, as well as super-slow-motion video at 960 frames per second. Around the front of the phone, you will find an 8-megapixel lens. The cameras have some artificial intelligence trickery too. The A.I. will notify you if there’s a problem with your photo — like someone blinking — or will alter settings automatically based on scene recognition.

The P20 Pro comes with a staggering triple lens system on the back. It’s made up of a 40-megapixel lens, an 8-megapixel zoom lens, and a 20-megapixel monochrome lens. It’s a staggeringly good camera, with 5x hybrid zoom, and some of the best low-light performance we’ve ever seen. It also shoots video in 4K, and in super-slow motion — and the selfie lens is a huge 24-megapixel monster. Add all this to the P20 Pro’s A.I. assistance that helps you to take the perfect photo and you’ve got a very capable camera.

We’re really torn between these two. This is a draw for now.

Winner: Tie

Software and updates

Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

You’ll find Android 8.1 Oreo on both of these phones, hidden under skins. The P20 Pro has Huawei’s Emotion UI (EMUI) skin — and thankfully, it’s not the burden it once was. It’s smooth, easy to use and is only really shackled by the lack of notch support in Android Oreo — which should be fixed by Android 9.0 Pie. The Samsung Experience on the Note 9 is similar, with good performance and an easy-to-use interface. Neither is close to stock Android, but neither should be too hard to use for anyone with prior Android experience.

You’re probably looking at similar performance for updates, too; not great. Since both use heavily modified versions of Android, neither manufacturer has a strong record with getting updates out quickly. This is a tie.

Winner: Tie

Special features

Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

We mentioned the A.I. capabilities in the camera section, but that is not all the Kirin 970’s dedicated A.I. chip is up to. When it’s not suggesting modes on the camera, the A.I. system in the P20 Pro works mainly in the background of the phone, optimizing resources to ensure smooth performance. Over time, the A.I. learns which apps are most important to you, and balances system resources to ensure that you’re getting as good an experience as possible — and this is something that should only get better over time. The P20 Pro also has a speedy face unlock system. It’s not as secure as the iPhone X‘s, so you can’t use it for payment authorization, but it’s extremely fast at unlocking your phone.

Where do we start with the Note 9? First off there’s the S Pen. In addition to familiar features like writing on the display and quick menus, the improved Note 9 S Pen now also works as a Bluetooth clicker, with different functions available in different apps. The Note 9 also debuts a revolution for Samsung’s DeX mode, thanks to improvements that mean it’s now able to work with just a USB-C to HDMI cable — ditching the expensive dock. There’s also Bixby, as well as facial unlocking.

The Note 9 overpowers the P20 Pro with sheer weight of features.

Winner: Samsung Galaxy Note 9

Price

The Huawei P20 Pro is currently available, with prices ranging from anywhere between $800 and $1,100. Unfortunately, it’s not fully available in the U.S., and you’ll be forced to import it after a sale — but be aware it will only work on select networks like T-Mobile and AT&T.

Pre-orders for the Galaxy Note 9 are open now, and the phone will be launching August 24. It’s available in two colors — lavender purple and ocean blue. Pricing starts at $1,000 for the 128GB, going up to $1,250 for the 512GB version. As a Samsung flagship, expect to see it offered on every U.S. carrier.

Overall winner: Samsung Galaxy Note 9

It’s testament to how good a smartphone the P20 Pro is that it’s able to hold the Note 9 to so many draws across our series of categories — but at the end of the day, the Galaxy Note 9 is simply the stronger of the two devices, with a crisper display, a performance edge, and the improved S Pen.

If none of that is particularly exciting to you, and you can deal with the hassle of importing, limited network support, and lack of a headphone jack — then you’ll probably be very happy with the Huawei P20 Pro regardless.

Editors’ Recommendations

  • Samsung Galaxy Note 9: Everything you need to know
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 9 vs. Galaxy Note 8 vs. Note 5: All the changes of note
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 9 hands-on review
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 9 vs. Pixel 2 XL: Flagship face-off
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 9 vs. Galaxy S9 Plus vs. Galaxy S9: Which is right for you?



12
Aug

What you missed this week on CordCutters.com


A podcast, a Peña, and the Premier League.

cca811.png?itok=RONqX9HKAre we really starting a CordCutters podcast? Why the hell not. I mean, I’ve done a few hundred podcast episodes in my day. The trick, of course, is keeping things interesting, particularly in this age of excellent (if overproduced) podcasts.

We’re going to keep things simple, for now. We’re going to keep things loose. And we’re going to help answer some questions, I hope. So if you’ve got questions, fire ’em on over. Text is great. Or record your question and e-mail it on over. And if you’ve got thoughts on what you’d like to hear discussed, fire those on over, too.

And, mostly, we’re going to have fun. Because there’s no single right way to be a cord-cutter. We each have our different reasons and our different needs and our different ideas about what makes all this worth it.

In the meantime, here’s the first episode — a fun little conversation with some great nerds from Mobile Nations on the announcement of a new Star Trek series with the return of Sir Patrick Stewart:

  • Subscribe on Anchor.fm
  • Subscribe on Pocket Casts
  • Subscribe via RSS

What else you missed on CordCutters.com:

  • If you’re paying a monthly fee for a service like Netflix, it’s smart to watch things you might not otherwise bother with. And Extinction on Netflix turned out to be pretty good.
  • The English Premier League is back! Here’s how to watch the games in the U.S. if you’ve cut the cord.
  • This Vizio sound bar is ridiculously good for $100.
  • Roku TVs make up a quarter of the market. Its set-top boxes are extremely popular. And now you don’t even need one to watch free stuff from Roku.
  • Wait — YouTube doesn’t consider the iPhone to be a “Signature Device”?!?!
  • Finally — the first teaser for the second season of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel!

Introducing CordCutters.com

  • The hardware you need
  • All about streaming services
  • What channels are on which service
  • FREE over-the-air TV
  • How to watch sports
  • Join the discussion

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12
Aug

For Monaris, it’s a photography career launched on an iPhone and Instagram


Paola Franqui doesn’t have your typical photographer’s backstory. She didn’t start taking pictures as a kid after a revered family member handed her an old camera. She never even had big dreams of becoming a photographer. Her story started very simply when she downloaded Instagram, and instantly became fascinated with the art and human emotion she found on the network. Six years later, Franqui is now well known by her Instagram handle, Monaris.

The New Jersey-based street photographer has built a career around capturing candid images of people, playing with light and reflection. But while her degree in sociology and criminal justice suggests a long-standing fascination with people, she started photographing anything and everything that inspired her, with just an iPhone. 

“When I started taking photos of humans, of people, I got to a point where I can honestly say that it was street photography that made me fall in love with photography,” she told Digital Trends. “There was something about human emotions, human interactions, and life — everyday moments that people are so used to ignoring that they don’t notice it.”

Franqui, who grew up in Puerto Rico before moving to the United States in her early teens, continued shooting with an iPhone for nearly three years before picking up a dedicated camera — and picking up photography tips using YouTube videos. Her early work used the 16:9 aspect ratio, a format that’s cinematic but unusual with Instagram’s love for square images and portrait mode.

Paola Franqui/Instagram

Despite her Instagram success (she has more than 160,000 followers), Franqui says that her photography will always be a work in progress.

“I’m not where I want to be and that’s very inspiring,” Franqui said. “Every time I wake up in the morning, I still have so much to learn and so much to see. That’s what keeps me inspired, the fact that every day that I wake up in the morning, something is different, something has changed. For an artist, that’s very motivating, the fact that life is constantly changing.”

Him and I. #reflectionstories

A post shared by Paola Franqui (@monaris_) on Dec 13, 2017 at 10:28am PST

Along with National Geographic photographer Colby Brown, we followed Franqui around the British Virgin Islands during a press event with Adobe (we were guests of Adobe, but all opinion are our own), where she shared with us her backstory, camera techniques, editing processes, and life as an Instagram influencer.

DT: Where did your handle, Monaris, come from?

Franqui: Monaris is my middle name and growing up I actually wanted to change it. I used to ask my mom why she named me Monaris and she would be like, ‘We were sitting one day before you were born with a bunch of friends and one guy said that you should name your daughter Monaris.’ My mom was like, ‘Oh, that’s a good name’ and so that’s where the name came from. 

“When people come up to me and ask, if you’re feeling uninspired, what do you do? I tell them, you switch lenses.”

[When] I downloaded Instagram, my name was taken. So, I said, I’m going to use Monaris. After I started posting, people started seeing me as Monaris. ‘Oh, you’re Monaris.’ And now that’s my brand, my website, my business. I embrace it, even my business cards say Monaris. It’s funny how life does that — something that I hated is now something that I love.

You have a very specific style. How did you work to define your style?

I knew that most street photographers shoot 35mm — you see a scene and it’s wide. And I knew that, from the very beginning, I wanted to do something different. I knew that I wanted to do something that I would be remembered by. I started to play with different lenses. I think that lenses are something that’s very important for a photographer. When people come up to me and ask, if you’re feeling uninspired, what do you do? I tell them, you switch lenses. Lenses push you to see a different perspective. 

Paola Franqui/Instagram

I started switching lenses. I went from a 35 to a 55. I felt that it was good, but not good enough. People are used to seeing the whole scene. I started to focus on one person, incorporating one person in the scene. I didn’t care if you were there and a person was next to you, I wanted to focus on you. 

To me, human emotion and organic moments are the most important things about my street photography. I don’t want to say all street photography because every street photographer has a different style. To me, that’s what I want to showcase. I want to focus on human emotion.

“As an artist, you can do whatever — there are no rules, it’s your vision, what you want people to see.”

You walk around and see people every day, but you don’t know what they are going through, you don’t know what they are feeling. In my eyes, if I see a subject and take a photo, I want the other person to imagine, even with just a look, it can be sadness, it can be happiness, but I want to showcase that [feeling]…that’s why my photos are one subject. That, to me, is what I want you to see and to feel. 

I want you to think a million stories when you look at my photos. And now, I know what I like so that’s why I keep pushing one subject. All my photos feel like they are sad, but they are not, they are just people living their daily lives. I notice those moments that most people would just walk by, but I notice them.

How does editing play a role in that style and your process overall?

To me, editing is one of my favorite things about the whole journey and process of photography. I can take a photo, and once I go home, and I see it and edit it, that’s when everything comes together. It’s like a puzzle piece is missing and I can just put it together and see the whole picture. 

I enjoy editing so much, which is funny because most people don’t, they dread the editing process and they say that a photo shouldn’t be edited as much. To me, it’s the complete opposite. As an artist, you can do whatever you want — there are no rules, it’s your vision, it’s what you want people to see…I enjoy changing a photo, if its green and I want to make it blue, I can do that because it’s the way I see the world and the way that I want people to see my work. I enjoy it. I play music, I make a fresh cup of coffee, and I spend hours editing and I enjoy every single second of it.

How has your style played a role in your career as an Instagrammer?

Paola Franqui Hillary Grigonis / Digital Trends

I’m at a point where people know who I am and I think I have been myself throughout this whole process, with Instagram constantly changing and people just posting things that get likes and engagement. Through all of those years, I’ve stayed true to myself and that’s something I tell everyone going through a phase or doing Instagram as a living.

You have to stay true to yourself — you have to show people who you are. You have to embrace your style, embrace your vision and the way that you see the world. That’s something that I’m very proud of, that I haven’t changed — my style has changed, but my love for photography and humans has not. 

I think companies see that. If companies want to hire me to travel [like Adobe], it’s because they want me to take my specific style to that country or that city. I’m getting a lot of invites from all over the world because they want me to do what I do and they never ask me to change. They never say you have to shoot sunrise and sunset because that’s pretty and you have to make this location beautiful, they never say that. They want me to do me in every place that I go to. That’s something to me that’s very beautiful, it’s inspiring, the fact that I don’t have to change my style just to travel the world. I’m not going to change, but the opportunities keep changing because of the way that I am.

What advice would you give to people  looking to grow their Instagram influence?

I consider myself a photographer, even though I shoot mostly street photography, I shoot everything. I think photography is the way that you see something. It can be a tree, it can be an animal. I always tell people, shoot everything and find what you are really passionate about and then just keep working toward that. 

“On Instagram, it’s important to have tones. You have to have a style of editing, something that’s going to attract people.”

Keep getting better, go out there everyday and take millions of photos. I’m the type of person that can go out for three hours and I’m going to have a thousand photos. I just like to shoot, I like to capture every moment out there. Go out there and the more you do it, the better you become. Your eye is going to change. 

Find your voice and stick to it until people start seeing you and recognizing you as an artist. Once you have an audience, you can start shifting to something else, but if you don’t have an audience, you can’t do anything. You need to find your fanatics, your fans, the people that say I know who you are because you do this.

He became a part of my world. #reflectionstories

A post shared by Paola Franqui (@monaris_) on May 16, 2018 at 9:37am PDT

People are like, ‘oh you are Monaris, I love you work.’ I love that, I don’t mind that people recognize me for just my street photography and Instagram because I know who I am. Have that in your mind — you know who you are and your aesthetic. 

If people scroll through your page and there’s nothing visually interesting, you’re not going to get a follower, they are just going to go back. On Instagram, it’s important to have tones. You have to have a style of editing, something that’s going to attract people. If you don’t have visual aesthetic, you won’t survive. That’s sad, but it goes back again to editing. If I were to have a page with no edits, I would not be here. It’s sad, but it’s true.

When you are taking someone’s photo, do you talk to them first? How do you approach them?

Every single time that I’m out there, it’s always candid. Ninety-nine percent of the photos, I never ask for permission, I never talk to my subject. I never pose them, because I want to them to be as organic as possible. If something is posed, to me, it’s not real, it’s posing. 

Paola Franqui/Instagram

After all the years that I’ve been doing street photography, I’ve learned how to work a scene. If I see someone that I want to take a portrait of, I set up, and most of the time, people are going to look at me. Now that my style has developed, I like that they look at me so I wait. At some point, they’ll look, and then I will take it. Then, I smile. I think that a smile goes a long way in street photography. A smile makes them comfortable — you’re not there to make them feel uncomfortable. And then I walk away. 

For the most part, everywhere that I’ve been in the world, people react to street photography in a positive way. It has a lot to do with the way that I work and the way that I show them that I’m not doing anything bad, that it’s just a photo, and then I walk away.

Do you think Instagram has lost its original allure?

Instagram is such a big part of the world and humanity and people, people tend to just focus on the app. They just like to post to please other people, and I think it’s important as an artist and as a photographer to just post photos that mean something to you. Post what you love. Embrace the way that you are and the way that you see things. Forget about what people think of you and what people think of your work, if you love it, that should be enough, that should be what’s important. I think people forget that. You need to remind yourself that life is just beautiful and you should just post the type of work that means the most to you.

Editors’ Recommendations

  • Instagram isn’t going chronological, and is now telling us why
  • Here’s how to hide your active status on Instagram
  • How to post GIFs on Instagram
  • Instagram now shows when you’re online (don’t worry, it has an off button)
  • Have a question? Ask it on Instagram with open-ended questions in a Story



12
Aug

The Perseid meteor shower peaks this weekend! Here’s how to watch


cylonphoto/123RF

If your weather cooperates this weekend, look up towards the constellation Perseus. Why? August 11-13 is the expected peak of the Perseid meteor shower, traditionally one of the best celestial shows of the year. With it being a new moon, natural light pollution is at a minimum, allowing more meteors to be visible.

While astronomers are not expecting a massive burst like they did in 2016 and 2017 due to passing through multiple debris streams of the Comet Swift-Tuttle (the source of the Perseids), the moon phase is in our favor. At its peak, as many as 60 to 70 meteors per hour may be visible, with brief bursts much higher than that.

Observers may see quite a few meteors Saturday night into Sunday morning, however the better show may be Sunday night into Monday morning according to NASA meteor researcher Bill Cooke. You’ll want to look towards the constellation Perseus, which will be high enough in the sky starting around 11 p.m. local time to just lie down flat and look straight up to see the show.

Why are the Perseids such a reliably good show? Comet Swift-Tuttle last passed by Earth in 1992, and will do so again in 2126. Even with such a long orbit, the comet’s large size allows it to leave a far denser debris trail behind it than others. The nucleus — the comet’s icy, rocky core — is some 16 miles across, larger than Staten Island in New York City, and almost twice the size of the object that is believed to have smashed into the Earth 65 million years ago, killing off the dinosaurs.

Don’t panic: Swift-Tuttle is in no danger of striking the Earth anytime soon. Most of these meteors are tiny, posing no threat to us here on the ground. However their breakneck speed — some 132,000 miles per hour — causes even tiny specks of dust to illuminate as they reach temperatures upward of 10,000 degrees Fahrenheit during entry into our atmosphere.

Paul Williams/Flickr

You can tell what the meteor’s made of by the color of its trail: orange-yellow is typically sodium, yellow is iron, blue-green is magnesium, violet is calcium, and reds are caused by nitrogen and oxygen. In the right conditions, meteor showers like what’s expected this weekend can be pretty cool.

But like weather, predicting meteor showers is an imperfect science. Minor miscalculations in where the meteor streams can mess everything up. There have been years where the Perseids have disappointed from time to time (and also surprise, too), and issues such as cloud cover and light pollution also pose a problem.

Weather may pose the biggest problem, especially east of the Mississippi and over the Southern Plains. The best views this year appear to be in the Pacific Northwest and Great Lakes States, with less prime conditions across the Southwest and Southeast. If you’re in the Northeastern U.S., viewing this year’s show will be difficult thanks to clouds and storms that could persist through much of the weekend.

As for light pollution, you’re going to want to get as far away from urbanized areas as possible, otherwise you’ll miss a lot of the smaller meteors. Also keep in mind you’ll need to give your own eyes about 20 minutes to fully adjust to the lower light.

Editors’ Recommendations

  • A Japanese startup is planning an artificial shooting star show by 2020
  • Canon’s new large sensor is too big for you, but not for scientists
  • The best dash cams
  • How to use Split View on a Mac
  • Google Street View gives woman a special gift — an image of her late mother



12
Aug

By studying patient data, A.I. can limit toxicity in cancer treatment


A cancer diagnosis can be a devastating event. And for patients suffering from brain cancer, the diagnosis carries extra weight. It’s not just the disease that’s taxing — treatment itself can be grueling on both the body and the spirit.

In a bid to improve quality of life for cancer patients, a team of researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology has turned to machine learning to help avoid toxicity from cancer medications. The researchers are specifically targeting glioblastoma, the most aggressive form of brain cancer, which carries a prognosis in adults of less than five years.

Cancer therapies are tough, combining multiple drugs with radiation treatment — a cocktail that can cause crippling side effects. The goal of the MIT project is to use artificial intelligence to figure out the fewest and smallest doses of medication that could still be effective. That way side effects are kept to a minimum.

To pinpoint the smallest effective doses, the MIT team trained their A.I. on models of treatment regimens that are currently in use, adjusting the dosage until it could identify an optimal treatment protocol that carries the lowest potency and frequency for a tumor of a given size. The system simulated 50 trials on patients and managed to decrease the dosage by up to a half of the doctor-recommended doses.

The A.I. was trained using a method called reinforced learning, similar to how trainers teach pets to obey commands. Do the right action, get a reward. Do the wrong action, don’t get a reward (or even a reprimand). For the A.I., the award wasn’t a treat but a positive or negative number that signaled to the algorithm its success.

The A.I. isn’t meant to take over the jobs of physicians altogether. Rather, it’s meant to guide physicians towards offering more suitable treatment options.

“The recommendations from the algorithm can be used by human experts to design safer and more effective clinical trials,” Pratik Shah, a principal investigator at MIT who supervised the research, told Digital Trends. “These digital algorithmic systems may also inform and educate individual patients about potential trajectories their diseases could take in response to treatments.”

A.I. is becoming increasingly valued in healthcare, and is being applied to everything from discovering new medications to diagnosing diseases.

The MIT research will be presented this week at the 2018 Machine Learning for Healthcare conference at Stanford University.

Editors’ Recommendations

  • Scientists have mapped the genome of the most common cancer among younger men
  • New light-emitting implant zaps cancer tumors with incredible precision
  • A.I. detects skin cancer better than dermatologists in international study
  • Chinese search giant Baidu creates an open-source A.I. for detecting cancer
  • Atari co-founder and video game pioneer ‘Ted’ Dabney dies at 81



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