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BLU Life Max Review

By Adam Sinicki

There are two things you really need to know about Life Max from BLU: it has a great battery life and it’s cheap.

For some, that will be reason enough to consider a purchase, especially as it does also come with a 5.5” screen, fingerprint sensor and dual sim functionality. But as with any budget device, you’ll need to be willing to make some rather large compromises to get that low price.

This is the Life Max, let’s see if the trade-off makes sense for you and your wallet.

See also:

Best cheap Android phones (February 2017)

2 days ago

Design and Build

The Life Max features a no-frills, budget-friendly build. It has a large 5.5” screen, no physical home button and blackish dark blue colorscheme.

The best thing I can say about it is that at first pass, you wouldn’t necessarily know it was budget phone.

Whether or not you like the design of the Life Max is likely to hinge on how you feel about the faux leather back panel. That’s the most noticeable design feature here and to be honest, it’s a lot better than you’re probably expecting. It’s rather understated and actually nicer than the feature found on the Galaxy Note 4. That said though, this is definitely still an acquired taste and won’t be for everyone. And you’re not going to be mistaking this for real leather anytime soon.

One thing about the design that we don’t like so much is the crazy positioning of just about everything. It’s all topsy-turvy with the microUSB port (not USB-C) on the top of the device and volume rockers on the right above the power button. Neither of these things are the end of the world, but it’s confusing and can be irritating – especially changing the volume. Presumably this was something to do with cost-saving, as it’s hard to imagine anyone thought this would be an improvement.

The device feels pretty cheap too. Despite being fairly large, it’s incredibly light and it probably wouldn’t take too much force to snap it in half. Without the battery in, it feels like one of those plastic place holders you find in stores.

But while it might not be the most logical or premium build, the best thing I can say about it is that at first pass, you wouldn’t necessarily know it was budget phone. For the asking price, that’s pretty impressive.

Display

That IPS LCD screen is also pretty average. At 5.5”, it will give you plenty of real-estate for a variety of tasks and it is fairly bright too. At 720p (720×1280), it’s certainly not as crisp as many others, though you need to look closely in order to tell. It should be fine for consuming media, even if it’s not top of the line.

One feature that BLU seems keen to highlight is the ‘3D glass’ but it’s an incredibly tenuous claim and not one you’ll notice during use; it’s just that the screen is very slightly raised.

Hardware

What will also define your media experience are the speakers and these leave something to be desired. The odd placement of the USB means that there’s plenty of space for the two speakers along the bottom. Except when you inspect more closely, you’ll realize that sound only actually comes out of one of them and is very tinny. In fact, this is one of the most ‘budget feeling’ aspects of the phone and it is a bit of a let-down when you’re watching YouTube or playing games.

What’s a little less budget feeling is the inclusion of a finger print sensor round back just below the camera. This is nice to find on a phone of this price and it’s increasingly useful for a range of apps and services these days.

Except when you inspect more closely, you’ll realize that sound only actually comes out of one of them and is very tinny.

Another very nice feature is the inclusion of a dual SIM slot. This is a rare option that will be very welcome for some users I’m sure. The phone comes unlocked which is a big bonus and I’ve had no problems with call quality or signal.

Performance

Speaking of games and performance in general, the Life Max is certainly no powerhouse. Processing is taken care of by a quad-core 1.3GHz CPU with a basic 2GB of RAM. Graphics are handled by the Mali-T720 GPU, which is a popular choice for budget phones coming out of China (BLU is based in Miami but its hardware is currently produced in China).

Benchmark scores put it significantly below even a Samsung Galaxy S5, so the CPU is far behind modern flagships. But for people who will just be using their device for Twitter and Facebook, this hardly matters. Mobile gamers will still be able to play most titles on the Play Store but should expect occasional stutters and lower framerates when playing the most demanding 3D games on high settings. I also had a few games fail to launch that run fine on my other devices.

I will say that rummaging through the UI isn’t the most buttery smooth experience, either. You do get the …read more

Source:: android authority

    

CyanogenMod Theme Engine development is reportedly dead

By John Callaham

With the official shut down of CyanogenMod development late in 2016, and the rise of LineageOS as its spiritual successor, some people in the hardcore ROM community might be wondering about the fate of the CyanogenMod Theme Engine (CMTE). The software allowed people with the CyanogenMod ROM installed to customize the themes and the look of its user interface. Now there’s word that the main developer of CMTE, Clark Scheff, has decided to move on and end development of the theme engine.

See also:

The current state of custom ROM development

January 18, 2017

The news comes from XDA Developers, via their own unnamed sources. It’s not that surprising that development has indeed ended for CMTE, as the team behind the new LineageOS likely wants to move on from it as well. While this team has made no official comment on the fate of CMTE, it’s possible that it could use another theming engine in its place. The article points to one possible replacement, Substratum, which is already being used as the theming engine for some other Android-based custom ROMs like ResurrectionRemix and DirtyUnicorns.

If you used CyanogenMod Theme Engine to customize your CyanogenMod ROM, are you disappointed that its development has now reportedly ended? What should the LineageOS team support as a replacement? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!

…read more

Source:: android authority

    

Huawei to launch 360-degree Honor VR Camera for its phones

By John Callaham

Huawei, which officially announced its Honor V9 phone in China earlier this week, has also revealed plans to release a 360-degree camera add-on device. It’s called simply the Honor VR Camera, and it was developed in partnership with Insta360, which has previously released similar add-ons for smartphones.

See also:

Interview with Honor VP Zack Zhang at CES 2017

January 10, 2017

According to a statement from Insta360, the Honor VR Camera will support “3K photography and seamless livestreaming”. The company also helped to develop the app for the camera, which it says will allow users to “download to capture, share and livestream their 360-degree creations.”

That’s pretty much all we know so far about the Honor VR Camera in terms of its hardware specs. Huawei and Insta360 did not reveal a price or release date for the product. The press release said Huawei does plan to begin international sales of the add-on sometime soon. That likely means the camera will be available outside Huawei’s home country.

Insta360 is already selling a consumer camera add-on, the Insta360 Nano, which is available for the iPhone 6 and 7 for $195. It can take 360-degree videos at up to 3040 x 1520 resolution at 30 frames per second. The company recently announced another product, the Insta360 Pro, that is aimed at the professional photographer. It will have six lenses that can take 360-degree videos in up to 8K resolution, along with support for high-def livestreaming and 3D video. It will be released later this year, but it will have a much higher price tag of $2,999.

Since we know so little about this new Honor VR Camera, it’s hard to tell if its capabilities will be similar to the Insta360 Nano, or closer to the Insta360 Pro, but without the super-high price tag. Hopefully Huawei will reveal more about its plans for its latest device later this week at the 2017 Mobile World Congress trade show in Barcelona, Spain.

…read more

Source:: android authority

    

Don’t fear Frankenstein’s Galaxy Note 7

By Robert Triggs

We’d probably all thought that we’d heard the last of Samsung’s Galaxy Note 7, but up popped speculation yesterday that the company may end up selling refitted Note 7 models in a selection of countries. Vietnam and India were among the names suggested, however Samsung India has since stated that “the report on Samsung planning to sell refurbished Galaxy Note 7 smartphone[s] in India is incorrect.”

Done and dusted? Well perhaps not quite. While we may not see the Galaxy Note 7 reappear under the same branding, or even with the same aesthetic design, there are still some merits to the argument that Samsung will seek to recover some of its losses through reclaiming and reselling handsets and/or components. According to The Korean Economic Daily‘s sources, such a device could have its 3,500mAh battery swapped with a smaller 3,000 to 3,200mAh cell, and could even feature a new case, look, and branding. So, it wouldn’t really be a Note 7 relaunch at all then?

See also:

Korean government confirms Samsung’s Note 7 investigation results

2 weeks ago

Wasted materials and costs

We don’t really want to see the return of another set of Note 7’s with battery replacements, but otherwise the handset was full of perfectly serviceable AMOLED display and main-board parts, which had nothing to do with the defect. Samsung may be eyeing up using these components for use in a new device, especially as mainboards are the most expensive portion of a phone. They house processor, memory, radio, and other expensive integrated circuits on them, which the company will already have ordered in bulk.

Furthermore, Samsung produced many of these components itself, including PoP flash and RAM, and the Exynos 8890 SoC found in some regional Note 7’s. The recall was a double hit for Samsung in this sense, and there’s a strong incentive to repurpose these parts for another phone. Especially as the company would have to pay out even more to dispose of these components anyway.

Rather than simply selling refurbished units, Samsung may launch entirely new models built from remaining, unused production line components. With a new case and design, such a phone probably won’t resemble the Note 7 anyway.

Even if Samsung has no intention of using returned Note 7 parts, there’s still the question of what to do with all of the component orders placed for the Note 7 global roll out. Samsung will have invested considerable time and expense into its AMOLED production line, securing fab time and space for its processors and memory, and will have built production lines to actually put all of the parts together. It’s a potentially huge write off, but one that could be mitigated by putting these orders to use elsewhere.

It’s unlikely that these parts could be used for Samsung’s upcoming Galaxy S8, as orders and production plans will be difficult to change just months before launch. Not to mention that there’s an all new processing package and different display sizes tipped for the S8.

So what does Samsung do with these AMOLED displays, spare flash memory, and Exynos 8890 processors? It could sell them to some of its competitors, like Meizu, or reuse these components in some of its own new devices. After all, the Exynos 8890 will be a bit old in comparison to the Snapdragon 835 and/or Exynos 9 series in the Galaxy S8, so a lower mid-range handset is a possibility. Combined with a new case design to prevent any battery issues, and we’re looking at a pretty good use for all those spare parts.

Just don’t recycle the name

If any of this turns out to be true, the biggest question remains – how to market such a ‘not quite flagship’ phone?

It’s extremely unlikely that Samsung would relaunch the Note 7 name for at least two reasons. A: the two recalls have tainted the name that no-one would trust a third launch. B: it’s been too long and runs the risk of conflicting with the Galay S8 and even Note 8 launches.

A lower cost model might not sell so well in the Note range’s typical markets, but Samsung could introduce such a phone to more price competitive regions.

However, without the familiar Note branding, it seems unlikely that Samsung would be able to shift this Frankenstein phone in its traditional high-end markets, where branding is key. Consumers in South Korea, Japan, Europe, and the US are unlikely to flock to a lower cost off-schedule release instead of paying the usual premium for the Galaxy S8 or Note 8.

This is perhaps where the original report’s mention of other markets comes in to play, ones that are more discerning on price and features than just a brand name. A lower cost Note 7 alternative would probably sell a lot better in Asia and perhaps even Southern America than in the US. Samsung India has already confirmed that refurbished Note 7’s won’t be reappearing in the country, but this doesn’t rule out any number of different Galaxy ranges, or even an entirely new one, which could sneak in a few of the Note 7’s unused components.

Wrap Up

There’s certainly a fair amount of logic behind the original rumor, but we’re almost certainly not looking at a Note 7 relaunch or the direct sale of refurbished units. Of course, Samsung will likely never tell us if it’s reusing part of its Note 7 production line for a new handset. But we shouldn’t shy away from an Exynos 8890 powered phone with a 5.7-inch AMOLED display, as these are great components that had nothing to do with the Note 7’s battery problem.

That being said, Samsung is a large and profitable enough company to be able to suck up the costs and simply move on to its new devices. We will just have to wait and see what Samsung announces …read more

Source:: android authority

    

Verizon to test 5G in 11 US cities in 2017, Samsung to help

By Andrew Grush

verizon samsung logo

After AT&T announced its 5G Evolution network, we knew it was only a matter of time before its wireless rivals chimed in with their own plans. It seems that Verizon is now up to the plate.

In partnership with Samsung, Big Red is nearly ready to pilot test its new gigabit-class wireless service in 11 cities. According to Samsung, the first markets to offer fixed 5G wireless will be New Jersey, Massachusetts, Texas and Washington, D.C., with a fifth location in Michigan starting trials later in Q2 2017. The remaining cities will probably be rolled out sometime shortly after that. Verizon says that the entire network should be up and running by the middle of the year.

Keep in mind this is a “pre-commercial” network service that will only be offered to select consumers in the 11 chosen cities. It is hard to say how long this pilot will go on before it becomes commercially available, though its very possible that they could launch it to more consumers by the year’s end.

It’s hard to believe that we are already nearing the age of 5G, a standard that seemed like a fairy tale concept not that terribly long ago. Of course, networks like Verizon’s 5G and AT&T’s 5G Evolution aren’t quite ‘real 5G’ at this stage, especially since no formal standard has yet to be announced. Still, we’ve come a long way and AT&T and Verizon’s latest moves bring us just one more step closer.

…read more

Source:: android authority

    

ASUS could be planning to launch another convertible Chromebook soon

By John Callaham

This post originally appeared on our sister site, TabTimes.

Earlier this year, ASUS officially launched its Chromebook Flip 2 for $499. The 2-in-1 convertible was a successor to the company’s original Chromebook Flip. Now there’s evidence that ASUS is planning to launch yet another Chromebook convertible later this year.

See also:

Samsung Chromebook Pro review

2 weeks ago

A listing for the Chromebook Flip C101 was first spotted by Notebook Italia on the Taiwan Excellence Awards website. The listing showed a placeholder image of the original Flip as reference, but it is not likely to be the final look for the product. The page adds that the Chromebook will have a whopping 16 hours of battery life and is just 15.6mm thick.

Both of those specs sound excellent on the surface, but we will likely have to wait a while longer before we learn anything else about the ASUS Chromebook Flip C101. It’s possible the company could officially reveal the new convertible at the 2017 Mobile World Congress trade show in a few days, but it seems more likely that the company may wait until later this year to reveal more info on this product.

Keep in mind that Google has already announced that all new Chromebooks that are launched in 2017 will include support for running Android apps, downloaded from the Google Play Store. Hopefully that support will be extended to this upcoming ASUS Chromebooks as well.

…read more

Source:: android authority

    

Samsung Galaxy S7, S7 edge, and LG V20 get discounted at T-Mobile

By Evan Selleck

For anyone in the market for a new smartphone and is either already with T-Mobile or plans to switch, there’s a new deal to be aware of.

T-Mobile is currently hosting a limited-time deal for the LG V20, the Samsung Galaxy S7, and the Galaxy S7 edge, with each device getting priced down to only $360. Specifically, T-Mobile subscribers can pick up each handset for $0 down followed by 24 monthly payments of $15 each.

That means that the Galaxy S7 is seeing a $313 discount, while the Galaxy S7 edge is discounted by $419 and the LG V20′s discount is $409, so these deals are certainly noteworthy. Of course, both Samsung and LG are on the cusp of announcing brand new smartphones, so that’s something to keep in mind.

Do you plan on picking up any of the discounted devices?

…read more

Source:: androidandme

    

Today only: Amazon offering $8.62 discount on any $50+ order

By Edgar Cervantes

Shutterstock

Thinking of buying something from Amazon? Today is your day! Every customer who places an order of $50 or more can get an $8.62 discount on the purchase.

This may seem like a totally random number. Almost too random, right? Well, it does have a meaning. Amazon has ranked #1 in the Harris Corporate Reputation Poll for the 2nd consecutive year, achieving a record score of 86.27. The poll included the opinion of 23,000 Americans who believed the online retailer was excellent in 6 categories – emotional appeal, workplace environment, products & services, financial performance, vision & leadership and social responsibility.

They have given users a little something as a celebration, so don’t hesitate to take advantage of this offer. This discount does need a coupon code. Just enter the code “BIGTHANKS” during checkout and you will be set.

Of course, there are some limitations. Let’s go through them real quick.

Amazon terms and conditions

  • Offer expires at 11:59 p.m. (PT) 2/22/2017.
  • Offer only applies to products sold by Amazon.com.
  • Offer does not apply to digital content, video games, or Amazon Gift Cards.
  • Offer does not apply to orders placed through Alexa, Prime Now, Amazon Restaurants, or any mobile application other than the Amazon Shopping App.
  • Offer limited to one per customer and account.
  • Offer may not be combined with other offers.
  • Items must be purchased in a single order and shipped at the same speed to a single address.
  • Taxes, shipping and handling, and gift wrap charges do not apply when determining minimum purchase amount.
  • Shipping charges and taxes may apply to discounted promotional items.
  • Offer is non-transferable and may not be resold.
  • Offer discount will be allocated proportionally among all promotional items in your order.
  • If any of the products or content related to this offer are returned, your refund will equal the amount you paid for the product or content, subject to applicable refund policies.
  • If you violate any of these terms, the offer will be invalid.
  • Amazon reserves the right to modify or cancel the offer at any time.

Go get it, guys!

…read more

Source:: android authority

    

Google I/O 2017 registration is now open!

By Edgar Cervantes

Google I/O is where the Search Giant announces some of its hottest products, updates developers on the latest code trends and comes together with the community. The yearly event is one of the most important in the tech industry. Needless to say it is not easy to get in, but those who want to give it a try can now turn in their applications!

The attendance process for Google I/O 2017 has begun as Google begins accepting applications. You have until February 27th at 5 PM PST to get yours in. No need to rush to your computer, though, as applicants are now chosen at random. We still remember the days when this was pretty much a race and tickets would run out in a matter of minutes. Not to mention accessing the site during that time was a mess, due to the insane amounts of traffic.

Anyway – those times are gone and now you can take your time with the application. Chosen ones will receive their tickets on the 28th, via email. Of course, that would be after being charged the hefty entrance fee. General admission tickets go for $1150 but students can get in for $375. Be ready to pay!

Looking to sign up? Just head to the Google I/O 2017 sign-up page linked in the button below.

Sign up for Google IO 2017
…read more

Source:: android authority

    

Matt Groening is bringing a new Futurama game to Android

By John Callaham

Few TV shows continue to stay in people’s minds for years after they have been cancelled. One of them is definitely Futurama, the animated sci-fi sitcom that actually had two lives, one on Fox, and the other on Comedy Central. Today, there’s word that some of the show’s original creators and voice cast are coming back to work on a new mobile game, Futurama: Worlds of Tomorrow.

See also:

Best free Android games

January 1, 2017

The press release that announced the game stated that Futurama creator and Executive Producer Matt Groening will help create new content for Worlds of Tomorrow, along with the show’s Executive Producer David X. Cohen, and others. Rough Draft Studios, the team behind the animation for the show, will be working with the game’s developers TinyCo.

Gameplay details for Worlds of Tomorrow have yet to be announced, but it will be a free-to-play title, which is not much of a surprise. TinyCo previously developed another game based on a Fox animated series, Family Guy: The Quest for Stuff, that has proven to be highly successful. It’s more than possible that the new Futurama game will have similar gameplay elements.

Hopefully, this game will be a lot better than the last mobile title based on the TV show. Futurama: Game of Drones was released close to a year ago, but it turned out to be a hugely disappointing Candy Crush Saga clone. We are very hopeful that the involvement of TinyCo, combined with the input of Groening and the other members of Futurama’s TV crew, will bring us new and funny stories of Fry, Leela, Bender, and the rest of the characters in the show’s future world (especially the Hypnotoad; all glory to the Hypnotoad).

There’s no word on when Futurama: Worlds of Tomorrow will be released, but you can go to the Google Play Store right now and pre-register. This will let you get instantly notified when the game goes live. In the meantime, are you a Futurama fan? Are you looking forward to trying a new mobile game based on the show? Let us know what you think in the comments!

Pre-register at Google Play
…read more

Source:: android authority