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3 upcoming phablets in 2017 that are worth waiting for

It’s a new year and that means new phablets are on the way! It’s time to put 2016 behind us and look toward the horizon. If you are thinking about buying a new smartphone this year, don’t even consider an upgrade until you take a look at these upcoming phablets for 2017.

1. LG Stylo 3

The LG Stylo 3 will be unveiled in January 2017.
LG Stylo 3. Photo: LG.

LG recently announced that they will debut its third generation of the mid-range Stylo smartphone at CES 2017 later this week. The Stylo 3 (Stylus 3 outside of the United States) will offer some moderate upgrades over the previous version like an improved writing experience and fingerprint scanner.

The new stylus will sport a 1.8mm diameter fiber-tip stylus to provide the feel and feedback of an actual pen when writing on the screen, according to LG. The Stylus 3 also features a enhanced user interface with Pen Pop 2.0, Pen Keeper and Screen-off Memo.

With Pen Pop 2.0, your memos can be set to display on the screen whenever the stylus is removed. Pen Keeper displays a warning when the stylus is too far away from the phablet, and Screen-off Memo lets you take notes directly on the screen even when the display is off.

LG didn’t announcing pricing or availability for the Stylo 3, but they did give us a peek at the kind of specs the note taking phablet will feature when it debuts at CES. If you are looking for a lower priced alternative to the Galaxy Note, the Stylo 3 isn’t far off.

Here is what we know about the LG Stylo 3 so far

Chipset: MT6750 1.5GHz Octa-Core
Display: 5.7-inch HD In-cell Touch (1280 x 720 / 258ppi)
Memory: 3GB LPDDR3 RAM / 16GB eMMC ROM / microSD (up to 2TB)
Camera: Front 8MP / Rear 13MP
Battery: 3,200mAh (removable)
Operating System: Android 7.0 Nougat
Size: 155.6 x 79.8 x 7.4mm
Weight: 149g
Network: LTE / 3G / 2G
Connectivity: Wi-Fi (802.11 b, g, n) / Bluetooth 4.2 / USB 2.0
Color: Metallic Titan / Pink Gold
Other: Stylus Pen / FM Radio / Fingerprint Scanner

2. Samsung Galaxy Note 8

samsung note 7 bonus offer explosion meme hilarious
Photo: Imgur.

There’s no question that Samsung made their three best smartphones ever by a large margin in 2016, and even though one of them had to be pulled of the market, the Galaxy Note 7 was still an awesome phone. Now looking toward the future, the Korean giant is planning to bounce back in 2017 with their Note 8 release.

Some are rumors flying that Samsung could be ditching the “Note” branding in fears of a negative image toward the name, perhaps reshuffling its products with a “Plus” version of the Galaxy S8 that is compatible with the S Pen stylus. That said, this is just a rumor for the time being, we are calling it the Note 8 for now.

Some current rumors surrounding the Note 8 include:

  • Snapdragon 830. Samsung recently announced that it has started mass production on a new mobile processor built with 10-nanometer FinFET technology, suggesting that it would launch in “digital devices” early next year and throughout 2017.
  • Dual camera setup. In the past, Samsung has followed where Apple has led. So with dual-cameras on the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus, Samsung could follow suit.
  • Artificial Intelligence. The Note 8 will most likely feature a virtual assistant app is similar to Apple’s Siri. However, it is expected to be better as it not only integrates with the smartphone but also with home appliances and wearable gear.

In addition to what’s going around the rumor mill, there are some things we here at Phablist are hoping to see in the next generation Note:

  • Bigger Screen. We haven’t seen an increase in screen size since the Note 3 back in 2013. The physical size of the now defunct Note 7 was smaller than previous generations thanks to a dual edge screen – its time for more screen real estate, 6-inches would be a good start.
  • Removable battery. This would have saved the Note 7, and Samsung’s reputation. Enough said.
  • Front facing stereo speakers. Lets face it, Samsung phablets aren’t exactly known for having the best sound quality. The Note 5 was a step in the right direction but maybe Samsung should follow Apple’s lead on this one, or maybe step it up with something along the lines of the Alcatel IDOL 4S.

Of course this is all speculation and dreams, as official until big Sam makes a formal announcement. While we sit around and ponder, the Galaxy S8 release is slated in February 2017 near Mobile World Congress, maybe we will get some hints there.

3. Pixel XL 2017

Pixel XL 2017 Phablet
Pixel XL. Photo Google.

We saw Google ditch the Nexus and create a new line of phones in 2016 and it looks like the success will put them in competition with Apple and Samsung. Given the success of the Pixel XL, despite being rushed into production, it’s plain to see that Google will probably have something stellar in store for the next generation Pixel XL in 2017.

Here are some things to look for in the upcoming 2017 pixel smartphones:

  • Stereo speakers
  • Premium build and water proof design
  • Wireless charging

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T-Mobile Phablets: 9 of the biggest smartphones you can buy right now

What are the best phablets on the market going into 2017? With an increasing number of handsets now coming with 5.5-inch screens and larger, the phablet spectrum isn’t as expansive as it used to be.

T-mobile has a number of excellent phablets to choose from ranging anywhere from 5.5 to 6-inches, all with different key strengths and weaknesses. We’ve rounded up the best phablets available through T-mobile right now and grouped them by screen size and price point.

T-Mobile phablets

  1. ZTE Z Max Pro (6″) $ – Runner up
  2. LG V20 (5.7″) $$$ – Our Second Pick
  3. LG Stylo 2 Plus (5.7″) $
  4. Kyocera DuraForce XD (5.7″) $$
  5. Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge (5.5″) $$$ – Our first pick
  6. Apple iPhone 7 Plus (5.5″) $$$
  7. Apple iPhone 6S Plus (5.5″) $$$
  8. Alcatel IDOL 4S (5.5″) $$ – Runner up
  9. Samsung Galaxy J7 (5.5″) $

1. ZTE Z Max Pro

T-Mobile phablets - ZTE ZMax Pro
ZTE ZMax Pro. Photo: ZTE.

For those obsessed with screen size, the ZTE Z Max Pro is a quality phablet with some very good specs for the price you are paying. Its big 6-inch 1080p display is easy to read and gives you the most real estate T-mobile has to offer for web browsing and media consumption.

The Z Max Pro has more storage than most phablets in this price range with 32GB of storage space for apps and games right out of the box. You can also expand your memory via microSD and carry a massive amount of music and movies with you on the go.

Don’t let the ZTE name scare you away; this phablet has all of the features you would expect to find on the more expensive phones including a fingerprint scanner for super-fast unlocking capability and peace of mind security. The Dolby Audio app provides great sound with any pair of quality headphones but not so much with the device speakers.

While this phablet is impressive for the price, the Z Max Pro camera leaves much to be desired. You also don’t get an NFC capability, which means no direct file sharing or making payments with Android Pay. If you want a 6-inch screen you will not find a better phone unless you pay triple the price.

Price Point: $
Buy the ZTE Z Max Pro from T-Mobile

2. LG V20

T-mobile phablets - LG V 20 5.7 inch
LG V20 Phablet. Photo: LG.

With a screen size that is slightly smaller than the ZTE Z Max Pro, the LG V20 is lightning fast with a secondary display for notifications instead of a blinking LED. The 6-inch 2K screen is very satisfying to the eyes when watching movies or playing games even though it’s not an AMOLED.

Internal memory on the V20 is expandable up to 2TB with a micro SD card; we are talking hard drive levels of storage. A replaceable battery means you will never go without juice if you keep a spare one on charge.

Like the Z Max Pro, the LG V20 has a camera that suffers in low light compared to other modern flagships like the Galaxy S7 Edge. You do get some great features like manual controls and a second wide angle lens, even though that has even worse low light performance compared to the primary snapper.

Some other features that make the V20 a phablet for power users include IR blaster and FM radio. A USB-C connector keeps you future proof and the fingerprint scanner is lightning fast. Overall, the V20 is an excellent choice for those looking for a large screen and loads of processing power.

Victims of the Note 7 fiasco seeking a replacement might not look much further than this if you can do without a stylus.

Price Point: $$$
Buy the LG V20 from T-Mobile

3. LG Stylo 2 Plus

T-mobile phablets - LG Stylo 2 Plus 5.7 inch
LG Stylo 2 Plus. Photo: LG.

If you are a big fan of doodling or coloring, the LG Stylo 2 Plus is a great alternative to the more expensive Samsung Galaxy Note lineup. The 5.7-inch HD screen and built in stylus make this phablet a solid pick for the budget conscious or the flagship disenfranchised.

Battery life is impressive but this is most likely due to the lower resolution screen. The battery is also removable which makes it possible to go from zero to full charge in less than 2 minutes if you have a spare on hand. Having a fingerprint scanner on the Stylo 2 is a huge bonus that you might not expect to find on a phablet at this price point.

The 13MP camera is not great, you’ll want to use the flash indoors, and always have your subjects freeze their pose because of shutter lag. The Stylo 2 will does take good macro shots though as long as you have plenty of light and a steady hand. 16GB of expandable storage means you will have a hard time running out of space for all of your pictures and media; just know that your apps can’t be stored on the microSD card.

Overall, you get a ton of features with the Stylo 2 Plus that’s wallet friendly. Nice screen size, thin lightweight design, and running Android 6 Marshmallow and soon getting an OTA upgrade to Android 7 Nougat, according to T-mobile.

Price Point: $
Buy the LG Stylo 2 Plus from T-Mobile

4. Kyocera DuraForce XD

T-mobile phablets - 5.5 inch Kyrocera DuraForce XD.
Kyrocera DuraForce XD. Photo: Kyocera.

Built with a super durable design, the Kyocera DuraForce XD is an excellent choice for those who constantly get their phone wet or work in harsh environments. With a water/dust proof IP68 certification there is no need to buy a protective case because this phablet has one built right in. If you are used to carrying around a phablet with an Otterbox, you won’t notice much of a difference.

The front mounted speaker is surprisingly loud when listening to music or watching YouTube. The DuraForce XD is also packed with 16GB of expandable storage and includes Near Field Communications for things like direct file sharing and Android Pay.

The DuraForce XD is running an older version of Android Lollipop, which means it is light on features you get with flagship phablets but it’s also much lighter on bloatware. The processor is a bit on the slow side and the 8MP rear camera doesn’t take very impressive photos, but it will get the job done.

Overall, this phablet is built like a tank but its subpar hardware makes it look like a lightweight when compared to the cheaper LG Stylo 2 Plus or Z Max Pro. Putting a waterproof protective case on one of these other phablets would give you much more processing power with comparable protection.

Price Point: $$
Buy the Kyocera DuraForce XD from T-Mobile

5. Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge

the galaxy s7 edge is the closet thing you are going to find to the note 7
Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge. Photo: Samsung

This is by far one of the best phablets available right now. The Galaxy S7 Edge has one of the most cutting-edge mobile processors ever created; the Snapdragon 820 supports the ultimate experience in graphics, photography, power, and battery efficiency.

Its 5.5″ Quad HD Super AMOLED display offers vivid colors and dynamic contrast but because it’s curved screen, it becomes quite delicate and prone to cracks. So you will definitely want to put it in a wallet case that wraps around the whole device. The slightly smaller screen packs more pixels per inch when compared to the Galaxy Note 7 but your eyes probably can’t tell the difference.

Wireless charging and VR capabilities are a huge bonus but the 12MP rear camera is what makes the Galaxy S7 Edge stand out the most in our opinion. Don’t let the number of pixels fool you, the f/1.9 lens fitted with a new low-light sensor takes some of the best photographs available from a mobile phone today. It’s the same setup found on the now defunct Galaxy Note 7.

IP68 protection means you can get this phablet soaking wet and it won’t be affected. The S7 Edge comes fitted with 32GB of internal storage that can be expanded with an additional 256GB microSD card. You also get all of the features you would expect to find in a flagship including a lighting fast fingerprint scanner on the home button and NFC/MST for mobile payments.

Price Point: $$$
Buy the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge from T-mobile

6. Apple iPhone 7 Plus

T-mobile phablets 5.5 inch Apple iPhone 7 Plus
Apple iPhone 7 Plus. Photo: Apple.

It wasn’t very long ago that Apple was once opposed to big-screen phones. Now, if you are an Apple fan who wants a Phablet, the iPhone 7 Plus is a no brainer. The new A10 fusion chipset combined with 3GB of RAM makes it one of the fastest phablets available on the market. Some of the best upgrades found on the iPhone 7 include the dual camera setup, battery life, water resistance, and stereo speakers.

Taking photographs on the iPhone 7 Plus is a real pleasure. Its large 5.5-inch HD display and choice between wide angle and telephoto lenses make framing your shot a breeze. In fact, the picture quality is so good it won’t be hard to fool your friends into believing your photos were taken with a Nikon or Cannon camera.

The stereo speakers sound great, if you are coming from an older iPhone, you will notice the difference the second you start playing music through the iPhone 7. The lack of a headphone jack might be a deal breaker for some but who really needs one when you are living in the age of wireless headphones? The only real disadvantage here is you can charge your phone while using headphones.

Bottom line, it’s an iPhone. If you desire the latest and greatest, this phablet is for you. Battery life is excellent and performance is smooth and consistent. The only real downside here is a lack of expandable storage. Your options are 32GB, 64GB, or 128GB – each with a different price point.

Price Point: $$$
Buy the Apple iPhone 7 Plus from T-mobile

7. Apple iPhone 6S Plus

T-mobile phablets - 5.5 inch Apple iPhone 6s Plus
Apple iPhone 6S Plus. Photo: Apple.

You can save yourself some money by going with something a little older but that doesn’t necessarily mean you have to sacrifice performance. The iPhone 6S Plus is still a highly capable phone going into 2017.

Battery life on the iPhone 6S is exceptionally good, it can last all day with minimal or no charging. It has a beautiful 5.5-inch display featuring the same screen resolution found on the new iPhone 7 Plus. The screen is incredibly bright, clear, and adapts to variable conditions with ease.

The hardly outdated A9 Chipset, now paired with 2GB of RAM, is lightning fast. An upgraded Touch ID sensor makes unlocking the phone instantaneous. 3D touch allows you to carry out certain tasks with ease through quick actions.

No doubt one of the best features of the iPhone 6S is the camera. Apple has a great reputation when it comes to smartphone cameras and the 6S Plus doesn’t disappoint. It takes great low-light shots without the need to make any adjustments.

Storage options again include 32GB, 64GB and 128GB – none of which are expandable. Bottom line, if you are looking to save a few bucks the iPhone 6S Plus is a solid phablet that will handle whatever you can throw at it for years to come.

Price Point: $$$
Buy the Apple iPhone 6S from T-Mobile

8. Alcatel IDOL 4S

T-mobile phablets - Alcatel Idol 4s Windows
Alcatel Idol 4S Windows. Photo: Alcatel.

The IDOL 4S with Windows 10 delivers high-end design and performance with feature-rich software. The 5.5-inch Full HD display is paired with a Snapdragon 802 chipset and front-facing dual Hi-Fi speakers, giving you one of the best multimedia experiences available.

A 21 MP rear-facing camera with phase detection, auto focus, dual-tone flash, and a dedicated camera button makes the IDOL 4S seem more like a digital camera with a phone function. Around front, you get an 8 MP selfie snapper with a wide-angle lens and flash. Picture quality is mediocre and will leave much to be desired for photography enthusiasts.

This is a premium phablet for sure; its build is all glass and metal so if you are prone to drops you should put a case on it, as this phone will not take to hard floors or pavement very well at all. The Idol 4S is powered by a 3000mAh non-removable battery with excellent standby time and Qualcomm Quick Charge 3.0.

One of the trademark features of the Idol 4S with Windows 10 is Virtual Reality and for a limited time you can get a free VR headset with purchase from T-mobile. That’s a huge bonus considering most VR headsets run at least an extra $99.

In addition to a great multimedia experience, the IDOL 4S has excellent security and productivity features. You get a rear mounted fingerprint scanner to turn on and unlock your phone but there is no iris scanner like the new Samsung Galaxy lineup. The IDOL 4s is also Continum-enabled meaning you can use the phablet just like a PC or turn it into a large-screen projector.

Price Point: $$
Buy the Alcatel IDOL 4S from T-mobile

9. Samsung Galaxy J7

T-mobile phablets - Samsung Galaxy J7
Samsung Galaxy J7. Photo: Samsung.

The Samsung Galaxy J7 is a great choice for the budget conscious individual who wants a Samsung phablet. While its 5.5-inch 720P display isn’t very sharp, it is a Super AMOLED which means that the blacks are deep with excellent viewing angles. The screen can get very bright and is easy to read outdoors but a lack of an ambient light sensor means you have to make the screen adjustments manually.

Overall, the J7 user experience is stable and fluid. Apps open up quickly and there isn’t any stutter or lag for the most part. The J7 benchmarks well and is capable of running graphic intensive games smoothly but the audio levels via the rear speaker are quite low.

Most users will find the 16GB of internal storage sufficient for their needs but those who are app-hungry might desire a little more, even with the ability to drop an additional 128GB in via microSD. The removable battery is classic Samsung and battery life is what you would expect. Ultra power saving mode will help you squeeze every ounce of juice out of your phablet.

The rear camera is decent for the price and the ability to shoot 1080p video is great for YouTubers. The front mounted light can be turned on and off but it doesn’t operate like a flash. Pro mode is a stripped down version of what you find on the S6 and later – all you have here is exposure, white balance, and ISO.

Price Point: $
Buy the Samsung Galaxy J7 from T-Mobile

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Honor 8: 17 tips and tricks You might not know about

While it’s true that Honor is a Huawei sub-brand, the latest 8 Series flagships from the young Chinese manufacturer has already been extremely successful. With hardware specs comparable to the big names at a much lower price, we thought it would be a good idea to explore some tips and tricks that you might not be aware of and illustrate how much potential these devices have to unlock.

Guide Contents

  1. Take scrolling screenshots
  2. Use screen recorder to teach friends and family how to use the Honor 8
  3. Use search to find your settings way faster
  4. Quickly return a call from your lock screen
  5. Use your knuckle to take a full or partial screenshot
  6. Scan business cards to quickly add contacts
  7. Make calls with the screen off
  8. Prevent missed calls with pocket mode
  9. Use the Honor 8 as a spy camera
  10. Take awesome time-lapse video with ease
  11. Take pictures and record video at the same time
  12. Answer or reject calls using voice commands
  13. Find your lost phone by calling its name
  14. Use Gloves mode to make life easier when covering your hands
  15. Access frequently-used options and features with the floating dock
  16. Auto arrange home screen icons by shaking your phone
  17. Prevent unintended operations with Touch-disable

Take scrolling screenshots

Have you ever wanted to capture an entire web page or message thread in a single screenshot? Scrolling screenshots allow you to take screenshots much longer than the traditional single screen.

To take a scrolling screenshot on the Honor 8, knock the screen twice using your knuckle, then touch Scrollshot in the bottom right of the screen. The screen will scroll down automatically. Touch the screen with your finger at any time to stop scrolling and take a screenshot of the previous content.

Bonus Tip: You can also simply draw an “S” on the screen using your knuckle to take a scrolling screen shot.

Use screen recorder to teach friends and family how to use the Honor 8

The Honor 8 is equipped with a screen recorder function that lets you create videos of anything on your phone screen such as video game footage. This feature is particularly useful for making short tutorials for friends and family.

Start recording the screen by either knocking the screen twice using two knuckles or pressing the volume up and power buttons simultaneously. You can choose from HD mode or Mini mode. Mini mode records in a lower resolution, giving you a smaller file size and faster upload speeds for sending videos over text or email.

how to record screen tutorial on honor note 8 phablet smartphone
Start recording by knocking the screen twice using two knuckles. Photo: Huawei.

To stop screen recording on the Honor 8 you can either knock the screen twice using two knuckles, press the volume up and power buttons simultaneously, or touch the screen recording icon in the upper left corner of the status bar. Screen recordings are stored in the Gallery within the Screen recordings folder by default.

Use search to find your settings way faster

Save time endlessly mazing through the Honor 8 phone settings and use the search feature instead by opening the Settings menu and touching the search box at the top of the screen. Enter any search term (such as wallpaper) and your phone will instantly display the results. Touch the results to access the corresponding setting.

Quickly return a call from your lock screen

With the Honor 8 there is no need to unlock your phone first when returning missed calls. Instead, simply swipe right on a missed call notification and then unlock the screen. The dialer screen will be be displayed where you can touch the corresponding number and return the call.

Use your knuckle to take a full or partial screenshot

The Honor 8 has an awesome feature that lets you capture just part of the screen. Enable this feature by opening your settings and searching for Smart Assistance. From here, touch Motion Control > Smart screenshot and turn on the corresponding switch.

With the feature enabled, knock the screen with your knuckle and keep it held on the screen. Drag your knuckle around the area you want to capture and then return to the starting point. Your selection is displayed on screen; the area inside the blue line will be captured.

how to take partial screenshots on the honor 8
Drag your knuckle around the area you want to capture and then return to the starting point. Photo: Huawei.

You can also select the screenshot box at the top of the screen for different screenshot shapes. Touch the disk icon save a screenshot. Want to capture the entire screen? knock it twice with your knuckle to take a screenshot of the whole display.

Scan business cards to quickly add contacts

You can use the Honor 8 camera to take a photos of a business card. The phone will automatically recognize the contact details and add them to your address book automatically. To enable this feature from Contacts, touch Business cards > Scan.

Take a photo of one card by placing the business card on a flat surface and holding the phone in a landscape orientation. Adjust the viewfinder frame so that the card fits the guidelines, then touch the camera shutter icon.

Take photos of multiple cards by switching to Burst mode and then follow the on-screen instructions to photograph the various cards. After you have finished scanning or taking photos, contact information will automatically be saved to Business cards.

Bonus Tip: You can also share your QR card with your associates so that they can add you to their contacts quickly by touching the QR code at the top of the contacts screen to display your personal QR code.

Make calls with the screen off

Did you know that with the Huawei Honor 8 you can call your contacts without unlocking your phone? With the screen is off, press and hold the volume down button. After You hear the alert sound, say the name of the contact you want to call. Your phone will automatically call the contact. Give it a try!

Prevent missed calls with pocket mode

With pocket mode on the Honor 8, the call ringtone and vibration intensity will gradually increase when you receive an incoming call. This is particularly useful when your phone is inside of a bag or desk where the sound level will be dramatically reduced.

Enable this feature by opening the Dialer app, then touch the menu icon to access the dialer settings where you can find the switch to turn on pocket mode.

Use the Honor 8 as a spy camera

Most users might not know that You can take rapid snapshots with the Honor 8 even when the screen is off. Give it a try by pointing your phone at a subject with the screen off and press the volume down button twice. The Honor 8 will take a photo and display how fast it was captured.

Take awesome time-lapse video with ease

Have you ever wanted to capture and accelerate subtle changes in scenery, such as a sunrise, sunset or the movement of clouds? With the Honor 8 its super easy to take awesome time-lapse videos right from the camera screen by swiping right to switch to Time-lapse mode. Hold your phone steady and touch to start capturing video. For best results, You might want to invest in a small tripod.

Take pictures and record video at the same time

From the camera app, swipe right and select video to start a video recording. Tap the camera icon to take a photo at anytime without the need to stop recording. A very simple, but cool feature.

Answer or reject calls using voice commands

No need to waste time picking up your Honor 8 to answer or reject a call, just say “Answer call” or “Reject call” to pick up or ignore a call. Enable this feature by navigating to Settings > touch Smart assistance > Voice control and then turn on the Answer calls with voice control switch.

Bonus Tip: You can change the voice command language by touching Speech command language from the settings menu.

Find your lost phone by calling its name

One really cool feature that comes with the Huawei Honor 8 is the ability to find your phone and make calls using only your voice. To enable this feature, navigate to Settings > Smart assistance > Voice control > Voice wakeup. Turn on the Voice wakeup switch and follow the on-screen instructions to enter your voice wakeup commands.

For example, you can say “Dear Honor, where are you?” to have Your phone ring to reveal its location. You can also say “Dear Honor, call [contact]” to make calls without the need to even touch your phone.

Use Gloves mode to make life easier when covering your hands

This trick is pretty self-explanatory. Open Settings and then touch Smart assistance > Gloves mode to increase the touch sensitivity when wearing gloves.

Access frequently-used options and features with the floating dock

how to enable floating dock on honor note 8
Honor 8 floating dock. Photo: Huawei.

The floating dock gives you access to your most-used options and features. You can move the floating dock around the screen for easy one-hand use. Enable the floating dock by going to Settings > Smart assistance > Floating dock and then turn on the Floating dock switch.

Auto arrange home screen icons by shaking your phone

This is kind of an odd feature but it can be useful if you have OCD. Sometimes gaps may appear on the home screen after you uninstall applications or move them into folders. The automatic align feature will arrange applications neatly on the home screen.

Enable this feature by pinching two fingers together to open the home screen editor. Tap More settings and then turn on the Shake switch. Next, touch and hold the home screen to open the home screen editor. Shake your phone to realign application icons.

Prevent unintended operations with Touch-disable

This mode is useful if you find yourself butt-dialing people a lot. By enabling touch-disable you will prevent accidentally operating your phone and maybe saving yourself some embarassment. Screen gestures will not work in touch-disable mode, even when the screen is on.

Enable this mode by going to your Settings > Smart assistance and then turn on the Touch-disable mode switch. Press the power and volume up buttons simultaneously to turn off touch-disable mode.

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Turn your Android phablet into a portable Wi-Fi hard drive with this guide

Not everyone likes storing their personal files on a cloud service, and carrying around extra hardware all the time can be cumbersome. Android enthusiasts remain passionate about our options to expand internal storage which is why it’s time to ditch that old portable USB hard drive and start using your phablet for file storage instead. In this guide, you will learn how to turn your Android powered smartphone into a portable hard drive you can use wirelessly!

Android Hard Drive: How to Guide Contents

Hardware Requirements for Android Wireless Storage

The first thing you will need for this project is a phablet with plenty of internal storage space. The Samsung Galaxy Note 7 for example comes pre-loaded with 64GB internal storage that can be expanded beyond 300GB via 256GB microSD.

How much space you need is entirely up to you – there is no minimum requirement to learn this software technique, so don’t get discouraged if your phablet doesn’t have expandable memory.

How well your microSD card performs depends on its class and speed, as well as the capabilities of your phone. If you plan to transfer large files to your wireless storage then a higher-speed micro SD card will improve data transfer speeds when moving files between devices.

Which microSD card should I choose?

Some of the highest quality memory cards available have clocked read speeds up to 95/MB/s. Some of the best quality micro SD cards on the market right now include the Samsung EVO+ and SanDisk. For maximum quality and speed, go with a SanDisk Extreme.

The only other hardware requirement for this project will be a trusted Wi-Fi network to transfer the files over. You will need access to the same Wi-Fi or LAN on both your phablet and secondary device (laptop, desktop, or whatever else you are using).

Required Software and Configuration

To use your phablet as a wireless hard drive, we first need to install a file manager that has FTP networking capabilities such as ES File Explorer. I am recommending this app because it has been around almost as long as Android itself and comes with pretty much every feature you can ask for in a file browser.

Grab ES File Explorer from the Google Play store and Open it up once it’s installed. From the ES home screen look for the “View on PC” icon or tap the main menu button and choose “Remote Manager” under the “Network” options.

How to find remote manager in Android ES File Explorer.
Access Remote Manager in ES File Explorer. Screenshot: Phablist.

At this point, you should see the desired Wi-Fi network under “Network Status”. Tap “Turn On” to start the FTP server. It’s very important that your mobile device is connected to a trusted Wi-Fi network before the server starts.

ES File Explorer will notify you if Wi-Fi is not enabled. Your network can be verified by paying special notice to the name displayed under Network Status. If things are configured properly, take note of the IP address that will be used to input on your PC.

How to configure Android remote manager in ES File Explorer. Screenshot: Phablist.
How to configure Android remote manager in ES File Explorer. Screenshot: Phablist.

Root Directory: You will need to point ES File Explorer to the desired root directory by navigating to the settings and tapping on “Set root directory.” The selected folder will be shown by default when connecting to the wireless hard drive and you will only be able to access folders contained in the default folder.

Securing Your Wireless Hard Drive: When setting up Remote Manager for the first time there will be no added security layers protecting your files, meaning anyone on your network with the wireless hard drive FTP address can access your files. If you require more security, set a username and password for the server by tapping on Set manage account.

Port Setting: The default port setting is 3721; don’t change this unless you know what you are doing.

Transferring Files to the Android Wireless Hard Drive

On your PC, you will need a means of transferring files over FTP. This can usually be done through Windows Explorer but advanced users might find that a program like FileZilla is a more appropriate solution. Both ways are discussed here; just remember that your PC must also be connected to the same Wi-Fi network as your wireless hard drive.

Windows Explorer

Accessing files in FTP using Windows explorer is easy as pie. First, open “Computer” by clicking the “Start” button. Use the address bar just like you would in a web browser by typing the FTP address noted in the software configuration step and pressing ENTER.

You don't need extra software to transfer files via FTP using Windows Explorer. Screenshot: Phablist.
You don’t need extra software to transfer files via FTP using Windows Explorer. Screenshot: Phablist.

If everything is set up correctly, you should see the files contained in the root folder that was set in the Software Configuration step. You may have to enter a username and password before seeing the files depending on the security settings you chose in the last step.


The quickest and easiest way to establish a connection in FileZilla between the computer you are connecting from and the wireless hard drive remote server is by using the ‘Quick connect’ bar. Follow this easy step-by-step process.

  1. Enter the Host/Domain/IP address found in the ES File Explorer Remote Manager into the ‘Host:’ field.
  2. Enter the correct FTP username into the ‘Username:’ field. Leave this blank if using the default “Anonymous” account.
  3. Enter the correct password for the user previously entered. Leave blank if not using security.
  4. Enter the port number found after the second colon in the FTP address; default for ES File Explorer is 3721. This setting can also be changed in the Remote Manager settings and depends on your security preferences. FileZilla will automatically set the port to 21 if none is entered.
  5. Click the ‘Quick connect’ button. In the window immediately below, results of the connection will be shown. A successful connection will end in “Directory listing successful.”
  6. Consult the FileZilla support page for information on how to transfer files.
How to easily upload and download files in FileZilla. Photo: Phablist.
How to easily upload and download files in FileZilla. Photo: Phablist.

The FileZilla interface may seem intimidating but it’s actually very easy to use once you understand how the windows are laid out. The directory on the left is for the local machine (the PC) while the remote directory (the Android device) is displayed on the right.

Example: Transfer my pictures folder from computer to Android SD card

  1. Navigate to the documents folder in the PC menu tree.
  2. Navigate to SD card folder on the root directory.
  3. Transfer (upload) the folder by double-clicking it. You can also single right-click on the folder to bring up a sub menu with the upload option.

That’s all you really need to know in order to get started with wirelessly transferring files between your computer and smartphone using FileZilla. To transfer files from the Android device to the PC, use the same procedure except this time double click on the file or folder located in the remote (right side) directory.

Using Your Wireless Hard Drive Without a trusted Wi-Fi network

Sometimes you might find yourself in a situation where you don’t have access to a wireless network you trust for transferring files. In cases where you don’t have access to Wi-Fi, or don’t want to use a public network, it is possible to use your smartphone to create your own private Wi-Fi network.

This setup is known as tethering or internet sharing and it allows any device with a wireless connection to connect to the internet via your smartphone connection. Almost all modern Android phablets support tethering but in some cases the feature may be blocked depending on your mobile carrier.

Setting up a Wi-Fi tethering network is easy on an Android device. Start by navigating to your main system settings and searching for “Tethering and Mobile Hotspot”. You can also find this setting by navigating to wireless & networks, near Data usage.

The fastest way to find mobile hot spot is to use the settings search bar. Screenshot: Phablist.
The fastest way to find mobile hot spot is to use the settings search bar. Screenshot: Phablist.

From here, you can configure the network name and security options. Once your network is setup, all you have to do is connect your laptop or computer to your smartphone just as you would with any normal Wi-Fi network.

Secure your private Wi-Fi network by navigating to the mobile hot spot settings. Screenshot: Phablist.
Secure your private Wi-Fi network by navigating to the mobile hot spot settings. Screenshot: Phablist.

Final Thoughts

While this may not be the perfect solution, it works well when you need to quickly transfer documents and other small files without going through the hassle of plugging in cables.

Because files are being transferred over Wi-Fi, transfer times can be terribly slow at times. For transferring big files, it’s recommended that you use a USB cable. While this may defeat the purpose of a wireless hard-drive, keeping a single charging cable around is better than carrying a whole other device.

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7 Hilarious Galaxy Note 7 Explosion Memes

Samsung’s Galaxy Note 7 literally hit the market with a BANG. After being released in August, the Note 7 was an instant success and highly popular. Then, all of a sudden, units started catching fire and it didnt take long for the internet to respond with all sorts of really funny jokes, images, and memes.

We’ve compiled seven of the best Note 7 explosion memes for your viewing pleasure. Click any image to view full size.

Samsung Galaxy Note 7 Gear VR Explosion Meme
Photo: Reddit.

Note 7 + Gear VR = Regret. Gear VR owners were warned by Oculus against using their headsets with the Galaxy Note 7 until a replacement phablet could be obtained from Samsung.

How to safely charge the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 explosion meme
Photo: Reddit.

Many believe, as the saying goes, “There is a grain of truth inevery joke”, and this meme is no exception. A man traveling to Australia on business claimed that his Galaxy Note 7 phablet exploded overnight in his hotel room as he slept with it charging nearby the bed. The explosion caused nearly $1,400 in damages after leaving burn marks on the hotel bed sheets and carpet.

funny galaxy note 7 global recall meme
Photo: Twitter.

The Galaxy Note 7 was recalled just a few short weeks after its release, causing major headaches for consumers who had anxiously anticipated its release.

funny galaxy note 7 explosion arson meme
Photo: Google+

Of course not everyone looks at disaster through the same lens. There are many situations where a fire hazard might come in handy, like for instances of insurance fraud and arson.

galaxy note 7 explosion zoolander meme hilarious
Photo: Reddit.

The note 7 is the hottest smartphone on the market right now. Okay, the jokes are getting bad.

samsung note 7 bonus offer explosion meme hilarious
Photo: Imgur.

One of the funnier memes involves a free bonus offer from Samsung. When you purchase the Galaxy Note 7 you get the option of a FREE fire extinguisher or 256 GB micro SD card.

funny note 7 meme grenade explosion
Photo: twitter.

Maybe Samsung can recoup their losses by selling the defective batteries back to the U.S. Department of Defense.

BONUS: You can now blow stuff up with the Galaxy Note 7 in ‘GTA V’

To add to all of the hilarity, HitmanNiko has created a mod for Rockstar’s insanely-popular game that turns the Samsung Galaxy Note7 phablet into a high-powered bomb. Actually, the mod replaces the original sticky bomb from the game with a realistic render of Samsung’s now notorious flagship, but either way you’re going to have a blast.

You can download the free Note 7 GTA V mod from the 5Mods website, but console users snark at the fact that it will only work on the PC edition. Simply walk into any gun store you can find in the game and pick one up once the mod is installed.

What is this all this about?

In case you have been living under a rock, numerous cases were reported about the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 catching fire and exploding when left for charging shortly after their much anticipated release.

Airlines around the world were the first to ban the use of the Note 7, asking passengers to keep the device switched off and not charge it when the onboard. The United States government later got involved, sparking a formal recall of the units nationwide.

The consumer protection agency cited “serious fire and burn hazards” when itannounced the Samsung recall. “The lithium-ion battery in the Galaxy Note7 smartphonescan overheat and catch fire, posing a serious burn hazard to consumers,” it said, in a note on its website.

A batch of faulty Li-ion batteries in a relatively small number of the flagships gets the blame for this one. Samsung quickly reacted to the incident and recalled all units that were sold, replacing them with safe units.

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6 Sexy 6-inch Phablets for 2016

People who love phablets are also those who like to standout from the crowd. They know that big screen smartphones are awesome because they give you more real estate for videos and getting stuff done.

With smartphone screen sizes getting bigger at a rapid rate, most flagships are now hovering anywhere from 5-5.5 inches. It’s funny to think that not too long ago; the top-tier handsets of the day only had a screen size of 4.3 inches. Remember how everyone reacted when the original Galaxy Note made its debut?

If you’re looking to buy a big-screen phone in 2016, its time to broaden your spectrum, and by that we mean going with something that’s bigger than the conventional 5.5-inch handset, yet smaller than a 7-inch tablet. The following is our list of the top 6-inch phablets for 2016.

Top Phablets 2016 – 6″ Display Size

  1. Sony Xperia XA Ultra
  2. Oppo R9 Plus
  3. ZTE ZMax Pro
  4. ZTE Grand X Max 2
  5. Samsung Galaxy A9 Pro
  6. Huawei Mate 8

1. Sony Xperia XA Ultra

Best Phablets for 2016 - Sony Xperia XA Ultra
Sony Xperia XA Ultra. Photo: Sony.

Building on earlier mid-range Sony phablets like the Xperia C5 Ultra, the XA Ultra offers up a vivid 6-inch 1080p display and some serious camera action. Around front, it’s hard to miss the unusually large selfie shooter that sits right on top of the IPS LCD screen, and that’s for good cause. The Sony Xperia XA Ultra puts an impressive f/2.0 lens and a large 1/2.6 inch 16-megapixel sensor with OIS right in your face, and they even threw in a dedicated LED flash.

Around back, the main camera sports an upgraded 21.5-megapixel Sony Exmor RS sensor paired with Sony’s Bionz processing enhancements for low-light scenes in favor of OIS. The main lens has a slower f-stop of 2.2 compared to the camera around front, putting into question which shooter you might prefer for everyday shooting.

Storing all those photos on the XA Ultra won’t be a problem either, but you will need a memory card because you only get 16GB out of the box. Using the dedicated microSD card slot is your ticket to storing tons of photos, and it’s expandable up to 256GB.

Looking under the hood, we find a MediaTek MT6755 Helio P10 chipset with an Octa-core CPU fused with a Mali-860MP2 graphics processor. Sony did good fitting the XA Ultra with a healthy 3GB of RAM and powering all the hardware by a 2700 mAh battery, though it’s non-removable.

Bring out the graham crackers and chocolate because you’re getting Android 6.0 Marshmallow when you take the XA Ultra out of the box, but Sony has announced a plan upgrade to Android 7.0 Nougat.

Sony Xperia XA Ultra Specifications, Comparison, News and Information

2. Oppo R9 Plus

Best phablets 2016 - Oppo R9 Plus 6"
Oppo R9 Plus. Photo: Oppo.

It may look exactly like an iPhone, but the Oppo R9 Plus offers a big screen with a surprisingly high amount of hardware and battery power to match. As the name implies, the R9 Plus is an upsized version of the earlier Oppo R9. Boasting a 6-inch screen, it has the same 1080p full-HD display as its little sister, with a slight drop in pixel density.

Aside from the upsized AMOLED display, the R9 Plus has an improved 16MP camera on the front and back that sports a Sony’s IMX298 CMOS sensor with a lens aperture of f/2.0, complete with Phase Detection Auto Focus for super quick photo action. The brains of this operation is driven by the Snapdragon 652 SoC with an octa-core 1.8GHz CPU and the Adreno 510 GPU. Top that all off with 4GB of RAM and its clear we are working with a flagship quality phablet and not some low-end budget stuff.

The Oppo R9 Plus comes in both 64GB and 128GB models with the ability to expand the storage capabilities via microSD. Running on ColorOS 3.0, the device comes with Android 5.1.1 Lollipop out of the box with no mention of an upgrade planned. Battery life is another huge bonus with the R9 plus as the non-removable 4120 mAh battery has an incredibly long life between charges. When charging is required, VOOC Flash Charge will get you from 0-75% in 30 minutes.

Oppo R9 Plus Specifications, Comparison, News and Information

3. ZTE ZMax Pro

Best phablets 2016 - ZTE ZMax Pro
ZTE ZMax Pro. Photo: ZTE.

Have you ever heard of a phablet with decent specs you could buy for under $100? If that sounds like the beginning to a bad joke, keep reading. The ZTE ZMax Pro is a midrange smartphone with an impressive set of features. For starters, the phablet sports a 6-inch with a resolution of 1,920×1,080 – that’s Full-HD for those keeping score at home.

Under the hood, the ZMax Pro is equipped with a Snapdragon 617 chipset that sports an octa-core central processor coupled with an Adreno 405 graphics processor, supported by 2 GB of RAM. Don’t forget this phablet goes for less than $100. You even get a respectable 32GB of internal storage (same as found on the Galaxy S7 Edge) that is expandable up to 256GB via microSD – that’s huge!

Looking around back you will find a 13-megapixel camera fitted with a rather slow 20mm f/2.2 lens, but for a hundred bucks you knew sacrifices had to be made somewhere along the way. Looking on the bright side, at least you still get phase detection autofocus and an LED flash. Videographers will appreciate 1080p video recording and selfie lovers will have to suffice with a 5MP camera up front.

If you’re still not impressed by all of this, would throwing in a fingerprint scanner help seal the deal? If not, ZTE also threw in a USB-C port on the ZMax Plus just for you. That’s two awesome features more commonly found on devices that go for triple the price. If we had it our way, we would trade the USB-C port for NFC so the ZMax can be used with Android Pay.

The ZTE ZMax Pro has a 3,400mAh non-removable battery to keep you going all day long and comes with Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow out of the box. Not bad for $99 after rebate, but the ZMax is exclusive to Metro PCS.

ZTE Zmax Pro Specifications, Comparison, News and Information

4. ZTE Grand X Max 2

Best phablets 2016 - ZTE Grand X Max 2
ZTE Grand X Max 2. Photo: ZTE.

Looking to build on their success from the prepaid market niche, Chinese smartphone maker ZTE is back again with its Grand X Max 2 on Cricket Wireless, a 6-inch phablet with plenty of processing power for only $200.

Taking a closer look at the Grand X Max 2, we see hardware specs that nearly resemble the aforementioned ZTE ZMax, with an octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 617 chipset alongside an Adreno 405 with 2GB of RAM. As for internal storage, the big surprise here is that the more expensive Grand X Max 2 has half the internal storage found on the ZMax Pro at 16GB and is only expandable to 64GB via microSD compared to the 256GB.

Around back, you get a 13-megapixel primary shooter just like with the ZMax Pro along with touch autofocus and LED flash. YouTube fanatics will enjoy shooting video in 1080p and the 5MP front camera will keep selfie fanatics happy. The 3,400mAh power plant should be able to hold you off for most of the day and fast battery charging will help keep things short when you do need to plug up.

ZTE Grand X Max 2 Specifications, Comparison, News and Information

5. Samsung Galaxy A9 Pro

Best phablets 2016 - Samsung Galaxy A9 Pro
Samsung Galaxy A9 Pro. Photo: Samsung.

The Galaxy A range offers up devices that look just as good as Samsung’s flagship phablets but are more affordable as they don’t pack the most up to date hardware. If you have been following Samsung’s recent launches, you will find the A9 Pro’s design looks just like a larger version of the Galaxy Note 5 with its glass and metal design language. With a 6-inch Full-HD OLED display, the A9 Pro offers up plenty of real estate for media consumption and extended web browsing sessions.

Out of the box, the A9 Pro runs on Android 6.0.1 (Marshmallow) with Samsung’s TouchWiz user interface (UI).The phablet is powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 652 chipset coupled with a healthy 4GB of RAM and 32GB internal storage. Putting the right memory card in the A9 Pro can expand its storage capabilities to almost 300GB.

The A9 Pro has a camera interface that mirrors Samsung’s high-end smartphones like the Galaxy S6. You can double tap the home screen to launch the camera app, even with the screen off, and you also get a mode for adjusting settings manually. Around back, the A9 Pro has a 13 MP camera fitted with a respectable 28mm f/1.9 lens. Selfie lovers will appreciate the slightly wider 24mm f/1.9 lens up front with an 8MP sensor, which offers up higher resolution than the Galaxy Note 5.

If you have two mobile numbers you will be pleased to learn that the Galaxy A9 Pro has dual nanoSIM slots in addition to a dedicated slot for microSD expansion, so you don’t have to choose between carrying around a second phone or having more memory like you find with other dual SIM phablets currently on the market. One noticeable feature missing from this “pro” phablet is a notification LED to alert users of any new notices from their phone.

Samsung Galaxy A9 Pro Specifications, Comparison, News and Information

6. Huawei Mate 8

Best phablets 2016 - Huawei Mate 8
Huawei Mate 8. Photo: Huawei.

Fresh off the back of the hugely successful Nexus 6P, Huawei has earned its place as the third biggest handset maker on earth, behind Apple and Samsung. Following in the footsteps of the Mate7, the new phablet from Huawei is one seriously good-looking smartphone with premium specs.

The Mate 8 features an aluminum unibody with a 6-inch Full-HD IPS-LCD display. With a screen resolution of 1080 x 1920, pixel density is well above what Apple coined as “Retina” display at 368ppi. In the photography department, the Mate 8 sports a 16 MP Sony sensor around back with optical image stabilization and phase detection autofocus.

When it comes to video quality, the Huawei Mate 8 is capable of recording videos up to 1080p at 60 frames per second. Mounted above the main display you will find an 8MP 26mm selfie shooter, also capable of recording in Full-HD.

In terms of processing power, the Huawei Mate 8’s Kirin 9520 packs all the punch you need and then a lot more. The Mali-T880 MP4 graphics processor along with an optional 4 GB of RAM ensures that the Mate 8 can hang with the best of em’ in 2016. An optional 64GB of storage paired with a 256GB microSD will ensure plenty of room for apps and media on the road ahead.

The Mate 8 comes fitted with an extra large 4,000mAh battery that supports fast charging which can bring the phablet to full power in 2.5 hours. You might be disappointed to learn there is no wireless charging support, but keep in mind that a mere 30-minute charge is rated to provide a full day of usage.

Huawei Mate 8 Specifications, Comparison, News and Information

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I survived the Galaxy Note 7 recall and all I got was this microSD card

It’s been a crazy month for Samsung and the Galaxy Note 7 after exploding batteries wreaked havoc across the globe, causing the tech giant to call back one million units following nearly 100 reports of injuries and property damage in the United States alone.

The Galaxy Note 7 “Batteryexplosiongate” is among the largest smartphone recalls in history. Safety regulators in the United States have issued warnings in recent weeks cautioning consumers not to turn on their Note 7s on airplanes — and not to use their phones at all.

Going down in the history books doesn’t always pay off, as Samsung has learned after losing more than $14 billion of its market share in the recall to cover the costs involved with providing loaner smart-phones and exchanging defective units in favor of other select Galaxy devices free of charge. Not to mention the additional parts and labor required to refurbish the phablets with new batteries.

Samsung recently shipped 500,000 new Galaxy Note 7 devices to stores and carriers around the United States, which amounts to half the amount of recalled devices in the country. More replacement Note 7 phablets are expected to arrive by the end of the month.

With the new inventory in stock, about half of all recalled Galaxy Note 7 phones sold in the U.S. have been exchanged through the voluntary recall, with around 90 percent of owners opting to receive the new phablet since it became available on September 21.

The supply shorted has resulted in a mad dash across the country for a bite at the limited stock. To make matters worse, lousy customer service from mobile carriers ends up frustrating consumers further when they eventually do go to return their device, which is where my story begins…

Tmobile store in CT is not the store in question.
Photo: Wikipedia.

Call me a purist but there is just something special about going to a retail store and buying a phone on release day. So while everyone else was busy pre-ordering their Note 7, I was holding out. When August 30 finally came, I had to deal with terrible customer service for over an hour to purchase and activate my new device from a T-mobile franchise in my local area.

It was a small store that shall go unnamed, but to their credit, they were the only ones in my area with the device in still stock. Retail availability was cut short due to massive amounts of pre-orders leading up to the release of the Note 7, which left some stores with less than 10 units on the shelves for opening day.

So after calling stores and running around, a few hours of frustration was the price I had to pay for not pre-ordering but at least now I had my Note 7. Now begins the daunting task of transferring all of my accounts, settings, apps from my Galaxy Note 4 to the Galaxy Note 7, you know the drill. Once all that was finally finished, life was good.

Then reports of exploding batteries starting making the news and everything started going down the tubes. The government stepped in, people were burned, and things just got bad quickly.

Samsung told everyone to turn off their Note 7’s and exchange them for select Galaxy devices or get a full refund. I’ll be honest and tell you that there we’re a few nights when I went to sleep afraid to charge my phone, wondering if I was going to be awaken by the loud popping sound of the phablet exploding.

tmobile galaxy note 7 battery safety recall notice update
Screenshot: Phablist.

My mobile carrier T-mobile offered Note 7 loaner devices until replacements could be provided, so I took them up on the offer. That process was fairly straightforward; all I had to do was call the toll-free number and they had a fresh Note 7 Edge out to me within a couple days.

Here we go again with setting up a new phone, except this time I decided to go with only the basics since this phablet was just a loner. All I had to do now was wait for the new Note 7’s to come in on September 21. When the day finally came, I went to my local T-mobile store to find out all of the replacement devices were sold out.

Of course I could come back tomorrow and there would be more devices in stock, but I was already here with the two phones in my hand, so in a game time decision I returned the Note 7 along with the Galaxy S7 Edge for a full refund and switched back to my beloved Galaxy Note 4.

Returning the Note 7 and loaner S7 Edge was no easy task either. I’ll spare you the details, but I will say it took nearly two hours to get a refund on both phones. I even got stiffed on a refund for the screen protector because I didn’t have the original packaging. And since the Note 4 and Note 7 use different sized SIM cards, switching back to my old SIM required a 30-minute phone call with customer support once I got home. That was my fault for being overly confident about getting a new Note 7.

So now I’m back to using the Note 4 and I can honestly tell you the only thing I’m truly missing right now is that ridiculously fast f/1.7 camera and waterproof design of the Note 7. While I can get a waterproof case for my old note, there is no workaround when it comes to photography. The Galaxy Note 4 still looks good though, it feels great, and all of my apps and settings are just the way I left them.

To top the entire experience off I was able to keep the promotional 256GB Samsung microSD card that came with the Note 7, and now my Note 4 is packed with close to 300GB for basically the cost of a screen protector. So nice of Samsung to give us such a wonderful gift for all of our troubles, maybe things wouldn’t have been so bad if the Note 7 had a removable battery like the Note 4.

samsung galaxy note 4 with samsung evo 256gb micro sd card
Photo: Phablist.

Now that I have my $850 back and a fully functional device that doesn’t pose a fire risk, I’m going to wait a few months before deciding on what to do next. The Note 7 is an awesome device but we got some really exciting phablets coming out soon like the Lenovo Phab 2 Pro, LG V20, and Huawei Mate 9.

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T-Mobile rolls out Safety Updates OTA for the Galaxy Note 7

Due to exploding batteries on the Galaxy Note 7 device, T-Mobile is rolling out a mandatory update from Samsung that will change the color of the battery indicator light to green if the phablet has been replaced with one containing an unaffected power plant. Users will also be greeted with a friendly reminder to exchange their phone after installing the update package.

The package started rolling out over the air to Galaxy Note 7 users Tuesday night into Wednesday morning, leaving a software update notice in their notification tray informing them of the mandatory installation:

“Due to battery issues on Note 7 devices, this update checks whether your phone has been exchanged for one with a new battery. If it has been changed, the battery indicator light will turn green; if not, the light will not change. For your safety, if your phone has not been changed, a notification will be displayed when it turns on and after you charge it, encouraging you to exchange your phone.”

tmobile galaxy note 7 recall battery safety update green icon
Screenshot: Phablist.

For those not quite ready to pull the trigger, the update can be postponed only three times before it automatically installs on the device.

In addition to the aforementioned safety measures, the update notice mentions that a few other functions on the flagship will be updated along with the installation to improve overall stability and performance including:

  • User interface adjustment (Messages, Home Screen, Quick Panel,).
  • Improved fingerprint recognition process
  • Overall device performance has been improved.

If you haven’t seen the update notification come through yet, ping the installation package manually by navigating to your Note 7 Settings > General Management > Software Update. The system update weighs a few hundered MB, so the download could take a while depending on your connection speed. Installing the update itself is completely automated and takes about 10 minutes to complete, but your wait time might be longer depending on how much data is stored on your phone.

Your device will restart after the installation is complete. As always, you won’t be able to make phone calls or use your device at all during the update. Don’t forget to back up your data. If you see a green battery icon after updating, you’re go to go! Otherwise you will be greeted with a Safety Recall Notice from Samsung telling you to power down your device as the battery may overheat posing a fire or burn risk.

tmobile galaxy note 7 battery safety recall notice update
Screenshot: Phablist.

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Huawei Mate 9 with Iris-recognition said to be a Galaxy Note 7 killer

While Samsung is busy cleaning up the mess left behind by the exploding Galaxy Note 7, news out of China suggests that Huawei’s latest Mate 9 could deal the Korean flagship another potentially fatal blow when it drops November 8th, sporting an iris scanner and 6GB RAM.

We’ve seen a few leaks already that suggest the Huawei Mate 9 is going to be a powerful 6-inch phablet, and the news just keeps getting better. Latest indications from MyDrivers tells us that the upcoming Mate 9 will come in four versions, with the high end “Monarch” variant boasting 6GB RAM and 256GB internal storage .

Built-in iris recognition coupled with fingerprint scanner was a big selling point for the Galaxy Note 7, making it one of the most secure smartphones on the market. If rumors hold true, it looks like we will see the same functionality with the Mate 9.

Looking to raise the bar even further, the upcoming flagship from Huawei will also sport a pair of 20-Megapixel rear shooters with optical image stabilization right above the rear mounted finger scanner, but we don’t have any info yet on sensor size or lens speed.

Huawei Mate 9 with Iris-recognition said to be a Note 7 killer
Photo: CansersTech.

Other versions in the lineup will include the Standard and Carrier Editions with 4GB RAM and 64 GB storage, and the “high version” with 4GB of ram and 128GB of internal storage space. The Mate 9 family is expected to be fueled by Huawei’s latest generation HiSilicon Kirin 960 64-bit octa-core SoC, with the entire packaged wrapped in an all-aluminum body.

Design leaks made their way to Chinese social media website Weibo earlier this month that appear to show a prototype of the phone. If the posts are accurate the shell gives us at least a few details about what to expect from the phablet design wise, like the dual speaker grills shown on the bottom of the device that hint towards some potentially killer audio.

huawei mate 9 leaked photos show design
Photo Credit: Weibo.

The Huawei Mate 9 is rumored to become available in nine color variants, Amber Gold, Amber Gray, Ceramic White, Champagne Gold, Enamel Gloss Black, Mocha Gold, Moonlight Silver, Rose Gold and Sky Gray. Android 7.0 is expected to ship out of the box, with Hawaii’s Emotion UI (EMUI) 5 running on top. USB Type-C is also likely to be included.

Many people were expecting the Mate 9 to launch in September at IFA, yet to everyone’s surprise, a company executive shot down the rumors in an interview earlier this month, confirming that the Mate 9 would not be launching at the consumer trade show in Berlin. He later said we could expect the device in November and the most recent leaks from China suggest Huawei will be launching the Mate 9 on November 8.

When it comes to pricing, the Mate 9 is reportedly starting at 3199 Yuan ($479) for the Standard edition with the full and high versions going for 3399 Yuan ($509) and 3899 Yuan ($584), respectively. To get the whole enchilada, the Monarch version will reportedly run you 4699 Yuan ($704), which is considerably cheaper than the Note 7 at 5666 Yuan ($850).

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Gear VR works with Galaxy Note 4, but there are problems

Here’s one more reason to love the Samsung Galaxy Note 4: the 2014 powerhouse has been confirmed to work with the 2016 Samsung Gear VR headset. After trying it however, it quickly becomes clear why there’s no official mention of the backwards compatibility by Samsung or Oculus.

It’s been almost two years since the original Gear VR: Innovator Edition was released, which gave Note 4 owners access to virtual reality before the technology made its way to the general public. Although the pioneer phablet packs a beautiful 4K display, the Note 4 was shut out when the Gear VR made it to the retail market, favoring the more powerful hardware of the Note 5 and Galaxy S6 series.

A rarity to be sure, the VR Innovator wasn’t mass-produced to be given away as promotional items like the Consumer edition. The headset has become somewhat of a collector’s item, making it a hard sell for the average buyer. Thankfully, the virtual reality market is still in its infancy and we’re seeing plenty of experimentation and improvements in hardware design, which brings us to latest Gear VR model for 2016.

The main reason for the Gear VR redesign by Samsung was in preparation for the launch of the Galaxy Note 7, which sports a USB Type-C connection that isn’t found on last year’s VR headset. For 2016, the Gear VR is fitted with an interchangeable USB Type-C or micro dock for compatibility with older Galaxy phones.

Samsung Gear VR 2016 Official Compatibility Chart. Photo: Samsung.
Samsung Gear VR 2016 Official Compatibility Chart. Photo: Samsung.

Unfortunately for Note 4 owners, diving into the Gear VR website reveals no luck when it comes to using the latest model with their handset, as the official specs suggest only using the VR with a Samsung Galaxy Note 5 or later. Actually trying to put the Note 4 into a 2016 Gear VR, however, reveals something much more exciting.

Will Gear VR work with Note 4?

Without any special modifications, the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 is unofficially compatible with the 2016 Gear VR headset, but you should know about these problems first before you try it.

Problem #1: The Note 4 Barely Fits

While it’s true you can get the Galaxy Note 4 to work with the Gear VR consumer edition from 2015, it requires modifying the headset by hacking away at its device cradle until you can manage to get the phone in. Examples of this procedure can be perfectly illustrated through a number of YouTube videos and online posts.

does the galaxy note 4 fit on the 2016 gear vr?
Photo: Phablist.

Pushing the phablet onto the 2016 Gear VR microUSB connector is a little scary, there is barely enough room for the body, which means you have to apply some pressure. The corners are a tight fit but as long as you gently push the Note 4 into place it works perfectly, just don’t force it.

Once you manage to get the installed, you will notice that the volume and power buttons are almost pushed in and headphone jack is blocked, so unless you want to drill holes in the VR, you’re limited to using Bluetooth peripherals.

how to use the galaxy note 4 with gear vr 2016 fitment
Photo: Phablist.

Problem #2: The FOV is Distorted

The new Samsung Gear VR has an expanded field of view when compared to the previous generation, now offering an FOV of 101-degrees over 96-degrees. This means you should see more of the virtual world clearly than before, but that’s not the case when using the Note 4 with the new headset.

Watching 360-degree videos had an overall pleasant experience but imaging warping was noticeable about 60% out from center, with the overall environment stretching out briefly with every movement of your head. Videos with limited field of view displayed even worse distortion around the edges. This problem is most likely attributed to the larger optics found on the updated headset.

Problem #3: Battery Drain and Over Temperature

The Galaxy Note 4 has an impressive 4K QHD Super AMOLED display and some powerful hardware, but the phablet showed its age when using it with state of the art consumer VR technology. The Snapdragon 805 and Adreno 420 has to work noticeably harder when compared to the 820/530 setup found in the Galaxy Note 7.

All this extra processing means stronger demand from less RAM and the smaller 3220 mAh battery found in the Galaxy Note 4. Over temperature warnings came up while watching videos stored on the microSD card during the test. 360-degree videos seemed to stream just fine in the Samsung VR App but larger resolution movies stored locally showed noticeable lag time, especially while scrubbing.

See what happens when we put a Samsung Galaxy Note 7 under a thermal camera. Photo: Phablist.
See what happens when we put a Samsung Galaxy Note 7 under a thermal camera. Photo: Phablist.

After two over temperature warnings, the Note 4 was unpaired with the VR head set and allowed to cool for a short while. Using the charging port supplied on the VR headset did nothing to help the battery stay charged, as levels dropped by 10% every 15 minutes.

Some things you can do to help keep the Note 4 cool while using VR and conserve battery power is to enable Airplane mode to turn off any wireless communications you aren’t using for your virtual experience. For example, you might need to keep Bluetooth on for audio if you’re not using the phone speaker. You can also keep air moving across the device with a fan.

Problem #4: Software

Most of the Oculus software is designed for Android 5.0.1+ but you will have compatibility issues if you’re Note 4 isn’t running on Android 6.0 Marshmallow. During initial setup, the Oculus software installed and started right up at impressive speeds. The touchpad and control buttons all worked flawlessly.

How to setup Gear VR on the Galaxy Note 4

how to setup the galaxy note 4 on gear vr 2016
Photo: Phablist.

If you can manage to live in a slightly distorted world, the 2016 Gear VR is a no brainer for those looking to experience virtual reality with the Galaxy Note 4 on the cheap. Once you get your hands on the latest VR headset, getting things setup is no different from pairing it with any other modern Galaxy device. Follow this simple three-step process:

  1. While there’s a USB-C port for the Note 7, the device also supports older phones via an included Micro-USB adapter. Make sure the microUSB adapter is installed properly and gently push the phone onto the connector, as it just barely fits. It is important to remember that your Note 4 must be powered up and unlocked before connecting it to the Gear VR.
    samsung gear vr 2016 usb connection adapters
    Photo: Samsung.
  2. After pairing the Note 4 with a VR headset for the first time, you will be prompted to uncouple the device to continue with the necessary software installation. All you have to do from here is work through the setup wizard; this will guide you through getting the necessary software installed.
  3. When the software installation completes, put the Note 4 back into the Gear VR headset and put the combined unit over your head to start the Oculus engine.

Bottom Line

While the 2016 Gear VR works with the Note 4, it offers up a sub-par virtual reality experience when compared to Samsung’s current flagship models. It’s a fun experiment with the Note 4 but it’s not worth buying unless you are planning to upgrade to a newer Galaxy device in the future.

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