Phandroid » Featured Android Phone News, Rumors, Reviews, Apps, Forums & More! Fri, 31 Oct 2014 23:15:15 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Motorola DROID Turbo battery life test: nowhere near 2-days, but still pretty great Fri, 31 Oct 2014 20:39:51 +0000 Motorola DROID Turbo Battery Life DSC07228

We’re getting ready to charge up our newly purchased Motorola DROID Turbo for the day, but before we do, we wanted to share some personal battery life stats with you from our first day with the device. By now we’ve all heard Motorola and Verizon’s claims of 2-day battery life on the Turbo, one of the reasons we rushed out to buy the phone on day 1. So, just how true are those claims? Well, as to be expected, they’re a bit overly optimistic. In our first day’s use, we didn’t get anywhere near the 2-day battery life as advertised but what we did get wasn’t all that bad either.

After about 21 hours, our battery life was down to around 17% and still kicking. We know. On the surface, that doesn’t sound too great considering the DROID Turbo is outfitted with a substantially large 3,900mAh battery but there are multiple factors to consider, one of which is our screen on time: a little over 5 hours.

Motorola DROID Turbo battery life Day 1

Now, we’re not big phablet users but coming from a reasonably sized smartphone that is absolutely unheard of in our experience. Typically we only see around 2 hours of screen on time (full brightness) from most of our Android devices in the same amount of time with light or normal usage.

With the DROID Turbo, we were doing quite a lot with it (installing apps, playing video games, streaming YouTube, taking pictures, browsing Imgur). It’s not extremely heavy usage, but definitely more than we’d do on any other device where battery life is always something you keep in the back of your mind (“Should I watch this YouTube video? Nah, better wait until I plug in just in case“).

Another factor to consider is we had the brightness on nearly full blast the entire time we were using the DROID Turbo. And while battery life will never, ever, be the same for any 2 people (we know, you get 2 days of battery life on your old MyTouch 4G with blah, blah screen on time — whoop-dee-doo), we wanted to give you a rough ballpark figure of what we experienced from the Motorola DROID Turbo on the first day. We know battery life is a major deciding factor for many when it comes to their next smartphone purchases.

Our guess for why battery life wasn’t all that groundbreaking? The phone’s overkill 1440p display. We can only wonder how things would have looked on the Moto X (2nd Gen) with the same sized battery. Keep in mind we still have our full review coming soon, in which we’ll be sure to take into account multiple charging cycles and will report back our findings. Stay tuned!

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Best Android games from October 2014 Fri, 31 Oct 2014 15:11:28 +0000 gamesOCT

Previous Best Games of the Month

The weather is starting to get a little chilly, which means you may find yourself spending more time indoors. Don’t worry, we’ve got plenty of new games from October to keep you busy. The makers of Angry Birds roared back into relevance with two new games this month, a couple of classic old school games made the jump to Android, and a bunch of other great games were added to the Play Store. Check out the best games from October right here!

Angry Birds Transformers

angry birds transformers

Hold your applause. Angry Birds Transformers is officially available for Android. More of a run-and-gun shooter, the game accomplishes what it set out to do: provide Android users with an easy pick-up-and-play time killer. You control the blaster of a chosen Transformer as he bolts down a level, blasting pigs in the background as they balance on physics-based platforms.



Botanicula follows the adventure of five botanical creatures (named Mr. Lantern, Mr. Twig, Mr. Poppy Head, Mr. Feather and Mrs. Mushroom) who are trying to save the last seed of their home tree from evil parasitic creatures that have infested their home. This game started on PC, and has since migrated to iOS and Android.

Cars: Fast as Lightening


Race fast and free as Cars characters with nitro-charged arcade racing. Build your own 3D Radiator Springs, home of Lightning and his buddies. Watch it go from a humble town to a thriving city. Drive into a true Cars experience, capturing the fun personality of the characters that kids and fans have come to love, including Mater, Francesco, and more.

Champ Man 15

champ man 15

The world-famous Football Management game just received a major upgrade, with tens of thousands of real players available to sign and over 440 clubs from 23 playable leagues. Nurture and develop your players, design training programs for the team or target individuals for specific work, choose formations, give tactical instruction and then watch how all of this affects your overall team performance on match day.



Doggins is a quiet little adventure game about a terrier, time travel, and a villainous monocled squirrel. Explore the moon, sniff some things, and unravel a plot to sabotage the history of human invention. It’s an incredibly original story and game. If you love dogs and time travel you need this game.

Dragon Quest II

dragon 2

The second installment in the celebrated Dragon Quest series finally comes to Android. Explore fair lands and foul dungeons in this all-time classic RPG. Every wondrous weapon, spectacular spell, and awesome adversary in this rich fantasy world is yours to discover in a single standalone package. Download it once, and there’s nothing else to buy, and nothing else to download.

Galaxy On Fire: Alliances

galaxy on fire

Galaxy on Fire – Alliances puts you in the role of an up-and-coming Commander of the Terrans, Nivelians or Vossk. Determined to claim and conquer a hitherto uncharted part of the galaxy known as the Shroud Nebula, you will set out to seek fame and fortune beyond the final frontier. Forge a strong alliance and assist one another in the epic pursuit of space domination.

Haegemonia – Legions of Iron


In Heagemonia Legions of Irons, the player has to explore and conquer the galaxy as the head of his fleet, planning colonization, terraforming planets, managing his resources and deciding on the appropriate technological research to lead mankind where he wants it to go. Research, combined with a top-notch spy network, will enable the player to survive in a stellar system which is much more dangerous than it would first appear to be.

Next: H-S

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Best Android apps from October 2014 Wed, 29 Oct 2014 20:11:03 +0000 bestOCT

Previous Best Apps of the Month

Wow, is October already nearing a close? It feels like just yesterday the leaves were starting to turn and we were talking about the best apps from September. Now the leaves are almost all on the ground, and we have another month’s worth of apps to look at. October gave us a bountiful harvest of new apps. These are our favorites, including a few Android Wear apps and watch faces. Enjoy!

ARChon Packager (formerly Chrome APK Packager)

chrome apk

ARChon Packager is an easy way to produce packages that allow you to run Android apps in any Chrome browser. You can generate chrome packages from either APKs on your phones storage, or from apps installed on your phone. For more information on how to do get this working, read our guide.

BASE Music Sensor

base music

BASE Music Sensor listens to music around you continuously, and when music you might like is played in the background it wakes up your phone with the song’s info. You don’t need to actively listen or open a dedicated app, BASE Music Sensor does all of this for you. BASE says the battery usage is negligible.



With BrainWave you can now control your favorite music players simply by using natural hand gestures. BrainWave works with many of the popular music apps, such as Pandora, iHeart, Spotify, Google Play Music, and more. You can Play, Pause, and Select tracks with the ease of waving your hand over the device, without ever unlocking the phone or touching the screen.

djay 2


The ultra-popular DJ app is now on Android. djay 2 transforms your Android device into a full–featured DJ system. Seamlessly integrated with Spotify and all the music on your device, djay gives you direct access to mix your favorite songs and playlists instantly. You can perform live, record mixes on–the–go, or enable Automix mode to let djay create a seamless mix for you.

Google Fit

Google Fit screenshot tablet

After showing it off briefly onstage during this year’s Google I/O developer conference, the official Google Fit app is now available to download on Google Play. The app allows users to gather all sorts of data, straight from the many sensors already found in most Android smartphones.


Inbox by Gmail promo hero

Inbox by Google aims to not only group your emails in a meaningful way, but allow you to act on them in appropriate fashion. Inbox is an extension of your Gmail inbox, so it uses the same email you already receive to your typical inbox. The difference is Inbox will do a few different things to help you organize that email a few different ways.

Potential Beta


Potential syncs battery, WiFi and Bluetooth status across all your devices. Forgot to charge one of your devices? It’s not an issue any more. Get a notification whenever the battery of any of your devices is running low. This is the perfect app for tech heads like us who own numerous devices.



Dealing with legal documents is never a fun experience. Shake aims to make the experience much more simple. Shake combines the simplicity of a handshake with the security of a legal contract. Use Shake to quickly and easily create, sign and send legally binding agreements from your Android device.


Squawkin screenshots

Squawkin is the next-generation communication platform that puts you in control like never before. A “Squawk” is a new and unique combination of live audio, photos, text, and location information that you use to create a powerful real-time message. If you change your mind about a Squawk you’ve sent, simply delete it and it’s gone from every other device.

Skype Qik

Skype Qik new screenshots

Qik is a new app from Skype. As you probably guessed, since Skype made this app, video is has a lot to do with Qik. It allows users to send short video messages back and forth, the same way you would a text message. In fact, there’s no real way to send actual text — it’s all video.



The first thing to say about Snowball is it is “not another messaging app!” This app organizes your messages from the apps you already love providing you with a single, easy-to-access place to view everything. Snowball supports: Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, Snapchat, SMS, Hangouts, Twitter, Line, WeChat, and Slack with Telegram, Viber, and Skype.

Taco Bell

Taco Bell app for Android

We warned you to stock up on toilet paper and you now can order food ahead of time using Taco Bell’s brand new app. Fresh off the Google Play Store, the new Taco Bell app allows you to skip the line and customize your orders with wherever you crave, straight from the couch/office/toilet.


xda one

The popular XDA forums now have their very own official app, but it’s still in the alpha stages. The app is called XDA One, which is their first app to be developed completely in-house. In its current state, XDA One is a fast way to browse and post in the forums. You can access the mention/quote system, see your subscriptions, send PMs, and more.

Android Wear Apps

Analog Keyboard

analog keyboard

Microsoft has made a keyboard, and it’s actually kinda cool. The Analog Keyboard is a prototype of a custom keyboard for the Android Wear platform that lets users enter text by drawing handwritten letters on the watch face. The current version (0.1) only supports square screens with 320×320 screen resolution and the Moto 360.

Bing Torque

bing torque

Sick of using Google Search on your Android Wear device? Microsoft has the answer. With Bing Torque you can perform simple Bing voice searches by simply flicking your wrist. Ask anything: “What’s the weather like in Kansas City?” “What is the capital of California?” “Where am I?” for answers right there on your smartwatch.



Face for Wear

face for wear

Using Face for Android Wear is as simple as using a light switch. All you have to do is pick the right Face Pack or combination you like and push directly from your Smartphone to your Wear. Face for Wear is a lot like Facer or Wear Faces, but geared to be very easy to use.



Wear Battery Stats


Battery life is a big topic for the Moto 360. At launch the battery life was pretty bad, but a couple recent updates have brought big improvements. If you’re still curious about battery life you can track it with a handy app called Wear Battery Stats. You can see battery life in a chart, and even see which apps are using the most juice. The app can be checked on your watch and phone.

What were your favorite apps from October?

Previous Best Apps of the Month

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Hands-on: Motorola Droid Turbo Tue, 28 Oct 2014 16:41:45 +0000 droid-turbo-rear

Another year, another Droid. Despite turbulent times at Motorola the company remains dedicated to churning out Droid devices via their partnership with Verizon, but their strategy has shifted slightly. While previous years have seen a plethora of Droid-branded devices, 2014 brings us only one. The Motorola Droid Turbo comes in as the lineup’s new flagship. If first impressions mean anything, Moto and Verizon are off to a good start.

On paper the Droid Turbo has every means to dominate:

  • a 5.2-inch Quad HD display,
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 805 SoC (Quad-Core @ 2.7GHz),
  • 3GB RAM
  • 21MP camera,
  • and a 3900mAh battery.

As per that last spec, Motorola made a big point to emphasize the Turbo’s big battery. It’s not a spec we can truly test in our so-far limited hands-on time, but there are promises of 48 hours worth of battery life with an 8-hour boost attainable via only 15 minutes of charging thanks to Motorola’s Turbo Charge technology.


But I digress. The Droid Turbo lives up to the excellent build quality Motorola has come to be known for. Even better, the Turbo improves in some areas. A new ballistic nylon finish option makes for the most appealing version of the device (also available is a “metallized glass” finish in red or black). The fabric weave is this year’s alternative to the kevlar construction of previous Droid handsets, and it promises a similar level of durability while offering a unique feel and visual texture.

The device is by no means light in the hand, but it doesn’t feel overwhelming or uncomfortable. It’s a nice size and the weight is distributed evenly. Moto’s bezel game is again strong with the Turbo, allowing the 5.2-inch display to take up the majority of the handset’s front. We like what we’ve seen so far from that display. It’s as crisp and clear as any other Quad HD we have experienced and capable of some deep and rich colors.

The internal hardware of the Droid Turbo shouldn’t disappoint. Its Snapdragon 805 is the top of its class in terms of processing power and capabilities. The Droid Turbo will be among a select class of devices to feature the chip (the Nexus 6, a Motorola device that shares much of its DNA with the Turbo, also carries the Snapdragon 805 but won’t make it market until after the Verizon-exclusive Droid).

droid-turbo-software droid-turbo-rear droid-turbo-hero droid-turbo-front droid-turbo-angle droid-turbo-64gb droid turbo hands 4 droid turbo hands 7


And it feels powerful flowing through homescreens and the usual sorts of surface-level tasks. It’s helped along by a “pure” Android install — much like the Moto X. For those wondering, yes, Motorola is promising an upgrade to Lollipop when available. Although our first impressions of the Droid Turbo’s hardware were positive overall, there is a bit of lag in some spots (notably the camera shutter).

As for how capable that 21MP camera is? It’s nice, for sure. Again, we need more time to throughly evaluate its potential, but a few initial shots in a well-lit NYC loft space came out on the higher end of the smartphone spectrum in terms of quality.

The Droid Turbo has all the makings of a great Android device. For those considering the new Moto X and Motorola-made Nexus 6 as their next smartphone, it’s worth tossing the Turbo into the conversation. It shares much in common and offers some compelling additions (the 21MP camera and massive battery perhaps the most), but one can’t help but get the feeling that the Turbo will be overlooked in the conversation. Stay tuned for our full review for a more in-depth look at how the Droid Turbo stacks up to the competition.

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How to carve your own Android-inspired pumpkin [VIDEO] Sat, 25 Oct 2014 17:00:06 +0000 phan-o-lantern

‘Tis the season to bring large vegetables into the house and cut shapes into their hard outer skin. Of course I’m talking about Halloween and jack-o-lanterns. Carving pumpkins and gourds is a tradition that goes back thousands of years, but I don’t think the first pumpkin carvers had anything like this in mind. Today people carve everything and anything into pumpkins, including their tech loyalty.

In this guide we’ll show you how to carve our beloved Phanbot into a “PHAN-O-LANTERN.” If you’ve ever carved a pumpkin before you should be familiar with the process, but for any newcomers we’ll go over the steps. Stick with us and you won’t lose any fingers in the process. If you do, well, that just makes you Halloween costume that much scarier.

What You’ll Need

  • Medium-sized pumpkin
  • Large knife
  • Small knife
  • Large spoon
  • Tape
  • Marker
  • Scissors
  • PHAN-O-LANTERN template (download .PDF)



What To Do

  1. Use your knife to cut a lid into your pumpkin, then use your spoon and hands to scoop out all the guts and seeds from inside.
  2. Print out the PHAN-O-LANTERN template and cut out the grey areas with your scissors.
  3. Tape the template onto you pumpkin, use the marker to trace the cut-outs. Remove the template.
  4. Use your knives to cut along the lines. Pop out the sections as you go.
  5. Place a small candle or light inside the pumpkin to light it up.

BE CAREFUL and you’ll end up with all the fingers you started with and a pumpkin that looks something like the photo above. If you’d like to carve vicariously through me you can watch the video below. If you decide to carve the PHAN-O-LANTERN yourself be sure to send us a photo! Happy Halloween!

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Android Wallpaper: L stand for Lollipop Sat, 25 Oct 2014 15:00:10 +0000 lollipop wallpaper

See past editions of Android Wallpaper

How funny would it be if there was a guy out there that closely followed candy trends, but has no idea about Android? All of a sudden the amount of searches for “lollipop” go through the roof. “Lollipops are going to be so hot this year!” Jokes aside, Android Lollipop is a hot topic these days, and s big reason why is the brand new Material Design language. People dig it.

If you want to get a little of that Material Design on your device you can load up one of the 11 HD wallpapers from Lollipop below. To get one of these wallpapers on your phone, tablet, or even PC, simply tap or click on the image to see it at full resolution. Then long press or right-click to save the image. Let us know which one is your favorite, and be sure to share a screenshot if you use one of these wallpapers! Enjoy, and have a great weekend!

Push new Android Wallpaper to your Android device with our Pushbullet channel.












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20 best apps & watch faces for the Moto 360 Fri, 24 Oct 2014 17:32:43 +0000 360

The Moto 360 has been available for a while, but it wasn’t until the last couple updates that it got really good. Battery life has been drastically improved, and performance is better too. Now is a great time to pick one up. If you’re a new Moto 360 user, or you’ve had one for a while, there are some apps and watch faces you need to try. These apps and faces will work on any Android Wear device, but they look especially nice on the Moto 360.

Moto 360 Apps



One of the best uses for a smartwatch is a workout companion. You can easily check your wrist to see stats instead of fumbling for your phone. There are a couple of fitness apps that work with the workout voice commands, but Endomondo is my favorite. You can say “start a bike ride,” “start a run,” or “start a workout” to use your last activity. Once you start a workout you can see stats for duration, distance, speed, calories, and more.


Phandroid Facer

Facer is part app, part watch face. You can use Facer to make your own personal watch faces. It’s incredibly flexible and easy to use. We put together a guide for how to make your own analog or digital watch face. If you’re not feeling creative you can check out and download faces that other uses have made, including our very own Phandroid watch face!

Find My Phone

find my phone

Everyone loses their phone at some time or another. Find My Phone is an essential Android Wear app that allows you to use your Moto 360 to locate your lost phone. Just make sure you download the app on your phone before it gets lost. Now you can launch it from your watch whenever you can’t find your phone. It allows you to tap a giant button to make your phone ring and vibrate obnoxiously until you find it.



The Moto 360 doesn’t have a lot of security features. It needs a phone to work, but it wouldn’t be hard for someone to just pair it with their own device if they get a hold of it. Lockable is an app that adds a lockscreen to your watch. You can lock your device with a swipe from the top of the display, or set it up to lock after a certain amount of time.

Motorola Connect

Moto Connect 360

The Moto 360 has a special companion app from Motorola. With the Motorola Connect app you can remotely check the battery life of your 360 and manage a few of the special features that other Android Wear devices don’t have. Those include customizing the built-in watch faces, adjusting your wellness profile, and tracking your smartwatch location. It’s a must-have for the Moto 360.

Slumber for Android Wear

360 charge

A few Moto 360 users have reported screen burn-in from the charging screen image. The burn-in leaves an outline of a circle from the charging indicator. Obviously this is something you want to avoid, and the ever-reliable Android developers have a solution. Slumber replaces the standard charging screen with a blank black image. You won’t be able to see the charging progress, but we already told you how to check that with your phone.

SPS: Football Wearable Edition

sps football

We haven’t talked a lot about games for Android Wear devices, but they do exist. One of the newest and most fun is a simple game called SPS: Football. You’ve probably played a game like this before. All you do is try to keep the soccer ball in the air as long as possible by heading it with the soccer player. It’s the perfect type of game for a watch.



Tockle enables control of your phone from your wrist. Toggle WiFi and other system settings, send an SMS message, and even activate your awesome Tasker tasks from your wrist. And that is the simplest way to think of Tockle. It’s like Tasker for your Moto 360, or any other smartwatch. The usefulness is really up to your own imagination.

Wear Battery Stats


Battery life is a big topic for the Moto 360. At launch the battery life was pretty bad, but a couple recent updates have brought big improvements. If you’re still curious about battery life you can track it with a handy app called Wear Battery Stats. You can see battery life in a chart, and even see which apps are using the most juice. The app can be checked on your watch and phone.

Wear Tip Calculator

wear tip

Not many apps have taken advantage of the Moto 360’s circular display. Wear Tip Calculator certainly does. It’s a beautiful and simple app for finding tip amounts at restaurants. The UI is made up of a circle that is used to adjust the tip percentage. This is one of the first few Android Wear apps that look much more at home on the Moto 360.

Next: Watch Faces

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The spookiest Halloween apps & games Thu, 23 Oct 2014 19:34:57 +0000 gingerbread-zombie-painting

Android and Halloween go hand-in-hand, from its candy-themed operating systems fit for trick-or-treating to a great selection of apps and games filled with gore-y good fun. Whether you are looking for a last-minute costume idea, carving your pumpkin, or looking for a few scares, here are our top ticks.

Creep out your costume


If you’re still searching for the perfect Halloween costume, we have the app for you. Digital Dudz is a free app offering animations that can transform a boring costume into the talk of the party. Designed to match up with a set of pre-fab costumes, shirts, and masks available for sale through the app as well as the Digital Dudz site, the free animations can also be creatively paired with your existing Halloween getup. If you are feeling really crafty, you can DIY a custom shirt or mask for any number of shifty eyes, beating hearts, or oozing wounds available via the app for a true fright.

Bonus: Digital Dudz extends its usefulness through the winter holidays with animations perfect for that tacky sweater-themed Christmas party.


If dressing up isn’t your thing, you can still spook your friends and families by going full zombie…with the aid of your smartphone, of course. The Dead Yourself app uses your smartphone’s camera to transform you into the living dead, no zombie bites necessary. With gore and guts inspired by the hit TV show The Walking Dead the zombie apocalypse is coming to a social media feed near you.


For a more subtle take on Halloween flair, accessorize any costume or outfit with your Android Wear-powered smartwatch and the glowing Jack-o-Lantern Watch Face. The orange glow of this eerie pumpkin face really brings out the spirit of the season.

Carve the perfect pumpkin (or avoid the mess entirely)


Come Halloween time we often take pumpkin carving for granted, overlooking the ghastly reality that the process involves gutting the gourd, scraping out its insides, and slicing into its face with a knife fit for Michael Myers. Respect this autumnal sacrifice by putting a bit of time and effort into creating a pumpkin masterpiece. With the Pumpkin Carving Ideas loaded on your smartphone inspiration is only a few taps away, including a wide selection of pre-made patterns and stencils.


You’ve finished carving your great pumpkin, but can’t find a candle. Here’s a trick for getting that spooky glow: download Jack-o-Lantern Flashlight, a flashlight app that doubles as a safe, flame-free method of illuminating your creative carvings. As a bonus, this one makes a great seasonal flashlight app to guide the way while trick-or-treating with the little ones.

pumpkin-maker If you prefer to avoid the mess or if you would like to practice your ideas before committing to pumpkin, check out Halloween Pumpkin Carver. For an option providing a bit more room for creativity (it’s been a while since we have seen a blue pumpkin) you might consider Pumpkin Maker.

Lose sleep with these scary games


Halloween is as much about the costumes, decorations, candy, and parties as it as about giving you a reason to leave the lights on a bit longer or check twice under the bed. Give yourself a scare with Murder Room, the Android game that places you in the middle of a Saw-like scenario where you must escape the grasp of a serial killer by solving the puzzles put in front of you. The simple presentation makes the frightening ambiance of Murder Room all the more intense.

The Walking Dead game Android

If you like your scares with a bit more story, you might not want to walk away from the addictive gameplay of The Walking Dead: Season 2. This adventure title presents a whole new chapter in The Walking Dead story and confronts the player with plenty of life or death decisions along the way. Did we mention there are zombies? Newcomers might want to start with Season One, also available on Android.

To really get your adrenaline pumping visit The Abandoned School. This psychological survival horror game is in the style of the Japanese originals like Silent Hill and Resident Evil and is sure form the basis of your future nightmares.

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Everything you need to know about the Nexus 6 Tue, 21 Oct 2014 20:14:43 +0000 Nexus(1)

Google finally made the oft-rumored Nexus 6 official. This device will go head-to-head against successful tablets like the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 and iPhone 6 Plus. There has been a lot of discussion about the size and price of the Nexus 6, which makes it a very interesting device. Later this month the “Nex-six” will go up for pre-order and ship out in early November. Before you grab that credit card, this is everything you need to know about the Nexus 6.

Nexus 6 Specs


Android fans love specs, and the Nexus line attracts the most passionate Android fans. That makes the specs of the Nexus 6 all the more important. Motorola has absolutely decked out the Nexus 6 with every high-end spec you could want. It has a big, beautiful high-resolution display, the newest and most powerful processor on the market, a big camera, and a juicy battery. Here’s a quick rundown of the important specs.

  • 5.9-inch 2560×1440 QHD AMOLED display (493 ppi)
  • 2.7GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 805
  • Adreno 420 GPU
  • 3GB RAM
  • 32/64 GB of storage
  • 13MP rear, 2MP front-facing cameras
  • Dual front-facing speakers
  • 3220mAh battery

The other hardware to consider is the overall design of the device. If you liked the look of the new Moto X you will like the look of the Nexus 6, and vice versa. Around the edges of the phone is a metal band, while the back is a dark blue or white plastic. Yes, it only comes in blue or white, but the blue is very dark. It’s a fairly boring design, like most of the Nexus devices.

Lollipop, lollipop, oh lolli lolli lolli


The Nexus 6 and Nexus 9 are the first two devices to come with Android 5.0 Lollipop. The biggest feature of Lollipop is the brand new Material Design language. This is the first time since Ice Cream Sandwich that Android has received a major face-lift. All the last remnants of the Tron-esque design have been removed in favor of a flatter “material” look. Lollipop also introduces tons of gorgeous new animations.

Google Material Design multiplatform

Material Design is the most easily noticeable feature of Lollipop, but there is a lot more going on. Other big changes include a brand new way to deal with notifications, redesigned multi-tasking, battery saver mode, Android Smart Lock for connected devices, user profiles, guest mode, new quick settings, and much more. Check out the full changelog here.

The other thing to consider about Lollipop and the Nexus 6 is timely updates. Since this is a Nexus device you can expect to get the latest and greatest from Google before anyone else. Nexus devices get the latest version of Android immediately. No waiting around for carrier approval (hopefully) or OEM tinkering. If being on the latest version of Android is important to you the Nexus 6 is a must-have device.

Size Matters

Nexus 6 Hero Image Cloud White LARGE

The Nexus 6 is a large phone. I don’t need to tell you that. The size of the Nexus 6 has been a topic of much debate, and for good reason. Everything I’ve mentioned up to this point in the article doesn’t mean much if the phone is too big for you. The only way for you to know that is to hold it in your hands, but since you can’t get one right now we have to explore other options.

Here is the Nexus 6 compared to some devices that you may have at your disposal. Is it too big for you? See for yourself.

Nexus 6 vs Galaxy S5 Nexus 6 vs HTC One M8 Nexus 6 vs iPhone 5S Nexus 6 vs Note 4 Nexus 6 vs iPhone 6 Plus

Configuration Options & Pricing

Nexus 6

Now that you know everything about the Nexus 6 it’s time to decide if you should buy one. The Nexus 6 will be available to pre-order on October 29th for $650 or $700 from the Google Play Store. It will also be available from AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, US Cellular, and Verizon. Carrier pricing is unknown at this point, but we expect something around $200 with a new contract. The Nexus 6 comes in two colors: Midnight Blue and Cloud White. You’ll be able to choose 32 or 64GB storage options.

That’s the story for Google’s latest Nexus device. It has nearly everything that Nexus fans have wished for in a device: powerful specs, big display, a good camera, and carrier availability. Will that be enough to make the Nexus 6 a mainstream device? Only time will tell. Will you be buying a Nexus 6? What are your thoughts on the size? Be sure to hit up the Nexus 6 forums to chat about this new device with fellow Phandroids!

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Hands-on: Android 5.0 Lollipop new apps and features [VIDEO] Sat, 18 Oct 2014 19:46:37 +0000 Android 5.0 Lollipop DSC07203

Earlier this afternoon, Google released the final Android L Developer and although it’s not the “final” stable version we’ll see rolling out to Nexus devices in the coming weeks, it does give us a pretty damn good idea of what to expect. Of course, we couldn’t resist the lure of Lollipop and the Material Design therein, so once again, we flashed the system image onto our trusty old Nexus 5.

We were surprised to find a while lot has changed from the previous L Preview, with loads more polish and features than last time around. To understand exactly what we’re talking about you’re going to have to see for yourself. Check out our fairly lengthy hands on video above or full written portion down below.

New Setup Wizard app

Android 5.0 Lollipop Setup app 1

Android’s Setup Wizard app is usually one of the more tedious parts about the OS. You’ll simply sign into your Google account, opt in or out for a few things and you’re on your way to pure mobile bliss. If you happened to be using the same device (whether or a replacement or coming off a fresh factory reset), sometimes all your previously downloaded apps will begin downloading from Google Play Store — other times they wont. It’s always been a hit or miss and there was no real way to actually manage what was being restored. You just signed in and hoped for the best. Well, Android 5.0 Lollipop looks to change all that with the new and improved Setup Wizard.

Android 5.0 Lollipop Setup 2

Setting up a new phone is a lot easier thanks to the new Tap & Go feature which will import your account information from one device to another over Bluetooth connection. Simple tap the two NFC enabled Android devices together and you’re on your way (see video). Of course, the old method of simply typing in your Google user name and password manually still exists, but it’s not nearly as fun.

Also new is a real-life restore utility that allows you to choose a device you’d like to restore from (any device still linked to your Play Store account) and the ability to select all or individual apps from that device as well. It’s been a long time coming and whether you upgrade once in a blue moon or you’re constantly flashing new ROMs, just about everyone can appreciate Lollipop’s latest feature. Thank you, Google. Thank you.

76% more polish, animations, and Material

Android 5.0 Lollipop lockscreen homescreen

Whereas the last Android L Developer Preview was a barebones Android L experience, this newest Android 5.0 Lollipop Developer Preview is now much more polished, bringing 76% more Material animations (we calculated it). The lock screen now has some sleek new animations when accessing the phone and camera shortcuts, the notification area finally has a “dismiss all” button, the launcher folders and app drawer have Google Search like circular animations when opening, and even the recent apps area has gotten some sprucing up with a now persistent Google Search widget. Oh, and recent apps are no longer wiped after a reboot, which is pretty darn nice.

New Settings: Battery saver, Screen pinning, Trusted devices, Priority notifications

Android 5.0 Lollipop Settings app

In the new Lollipop Preview, the Settings app is also getting a little bit of love, sectioned off with a more card-like UI for 4 categories: wireless & networks, device, personal, and system. There’s also a host of incredibly useful new settings. Let’s take a look.

Android 5.0 Lollipop Interruptions settings

In a setting called “Interruptions,” Google has added the ability to assign which type of notifications you would like to interrupt you — all, priority, or none — and for how long (also accessible in the volume slider). You can even set specific days and times when you’d like to turn off notifications (during the work day, or evening hours), allowing only priority interruptions and/or calls from starred contacts, or anyone in your contacts.

While alarms and event reminders are by default “priority” notifications, keep in mind Android 5.0 allows other 3rd party apps to set their own priority level and you can even do this yourself in the new “App notifications” setting.

Android 5.0 Lollipop Smart lock

Lollipop gets even better with “trusted devices,” a feature we’ve seen OEMs implement in their own versions of Android (like Motorola). Essentially this allows users to bypass lock screen security when connected to specific “trusted” Bluetooth devices like a smartwatch, Bluetooth speakers, or car stereo. When no longer connected to these trusted devices, your phone will activate it’s lock screen security again.

Google actually ups the ante in Lollipop by not only allowing trusted Bluetooth devices, but trusted faces (face unlock) and trusted NFC tags as well. This could prove useful if you stick an NFC tag in a vehicle dock for easy access The provides an NFC tag example Google provides for trusted NFC tags is perhaps one you stuck onto a vehicle dock or whatnot. Whether you use it or not, there’s nothing wrong with extra options and the fact that this will come standard in all devices running Android 5.0 Lollipop — love it.

Android 5.0 Lollipop Battery saver

We already saw the battery saving feature in the previous L Preview, but for this new build, the notification and navigation bars now turn orange when activated. This lets the user know that 1. it’s not meant to be used all the time, 2. performance may suffer as a result of slower CPU, and 3. you should probably charge the phone soon.

When enabled, it can be turned off easily via the notification tray so you wont have to go fumbling around in the settings app again.

Android 5.0 Lollipop Screen pinning

One of our favorite new features comes by way of Screen pinning, which can lock someone to a specific app in the event they need to borrow your phone to make a call or shoot off a text message. In order to get it up and running, it will first need to be enabled in the Settings app by selecting Security > Screen pinning.

Once enabled, you can “pin” the most recently used app from your recents screen in which case the app can only be exited by pressing both the back and recents button at the same time. While that would only keep a child locked into an app, if you have a password or PIN set on your lock screen, you can lock down Screen pinning by either of those methods as well. Genius.

Hidden Easter Egg

Android 5.0 Lollipop hidden game Easter Egg

Every major Android release, Google “hides” an fun little Easter Egg inside the Settings app (About phone > Android version). For Android 5.0 Lollipop, Google went all out, including a full on Flappy Bird clone inside the OS. Pressing the version number 5 times activates phase 1 of the Easter Egg, while tapping on the lollipop image then long pressing it fires up the game. We have to say, it’s pretty much spot on with equal pull-your-hair-out difficulty as the original. It’s not something Google had to do, but we more than appreciate the gesture.

Android 5.0 Lollipop DSC07199

This was just a quick list of some of the new stuff we’ve noticed since diving into the new Android 5.0 Developer Preview and is by no means exhaustive. We’ll continue digging up new stuff in the coming days but in the meantime, if you’ve noticed anything new or have a favorite new feature of your own, feel free to shout it out down below. Cheers.

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15 Lollipop songs to blast in celebration of Android 5.0 [VIDEOS] Sat, 18 Oct 2014 16:40:29 +0000 We assumed it all along but Google has finally bestowed the “Lollipop” name upon Android 5.0. Following that up with the Nexus 6, Nexus 9, and Nexus Player, Android fever is in full force. What better way to celebrate than with Lollipop themed jams while you dig into Android 5.0?

Go forth, make playlists, create ringtones, and share your Lollipop love with the world (and in the comments).

15) Alexandra Stan – Lollipop “Param Pam Pam”(2011)

14) Maejor Ali ft. Juicy J, Justin Bieber – Lolly (2013)

13) Dada ft Sandy Rivera & Trix – Lollipop (2007)

12) BIGBANG & 2NE1 – Lollipop M/V

11) MIKA – Lollipop (2009)

10) Aqua – Lollipop (Candyman)

9) Pawan Singh – Kamariya Kare Lapa Lap Lollipop Lagelu

8) Lil Wayne – Lollipop

7) Framing Hanley – Lollipop

6) Millie Small – My Boy Lollipop (1956)

5) Leslie Gore – Sunshine, Lollipops, and Rainbows (1963)

4) Burl Ives – The Lollipop Tree (1950)

3) Bad Manners – My Girl Lollipop (1982)

2) The Lollipop Guild – Wizard of Oz

1) The Chordettes – Lollipop (1958)

And finally… what will inevitably become the Android 5.0 Lollipop theme song, replayed over and over until Android M comes out.

The Chordettes may have made the Lollipop song famous, but they didn’t create it. That credit goes to Ronald & Ruby who debuted the song in 1958.

Ronald & Ruby

And let us just leave you with this…

This all begs the question… which Lollipop song is best?

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13 things every Galaxy Note 4 owner should do Fri, 17 Oct 2014 17:00:53 +0000 note-4-air-command
If this is your first Android phone, see our Android Getting Started Guide

So you finally bought the  Samsung Galaxy Note 4 after reading our glowing review. You’ve gloriously ripped it from the box like King Arthur and the Sword in the Stone, booted it up, and completed the installation steps. Now what? There’s a good chance you don’t know where to start… don’t worry, you’re in good hands. Here are the first 10 things you should do with your Galaxy Note 4.

1) Prepare for disaster

Most people never take the time to prepare in advance. Then down the road, when disaster strikes, they furiously look for ways to find a lost or stolen android phone, praying some evil doer doesn’t capture their device, gain access, and use it for nefarious purposes. This terrible feeling of panic can be easily averted… it just takes a little planning.

We know you want to dive into your new device, but trust us, it’s worth spending a few minutes to protect this expensive little gadget that holds lots and lots of private and sensitive information. Here’s what you should do (right now):

Enable Android Device Manager
This is your #1 tool in moments of crisis, but you have to set it up in advance! Simply download Android Device Manager to your Note 4 and you’ll be able to locate your phone at all times, reset your lock screen PIN, and even remotely lock and erase all data on your account.


  • Open the app on your Note 4
  • Select it from the drop down (listed as SM-N910 or something similar)
  • Tap “Setup Lock & Erase”
  • Make sure “Remotely locate this device” and “Allow remote lock and erase” are both enabled (and activated)


If you lose your phone, simply use your computer to login to the Android Device Manager website where you can force your phone to ring loudly for 5 minutes, lock it up, and/or erase everything!

Add Password Recovery Options
Your Android Phone is tied to a Gmail account. If you get locked out of your device (by incorrectly attempting screen unlock too many times) and/or happen to forget your Gmail password, you’re in trouble. This Google Account is the key to everything. Make sure you’re able to recover or reset your password in an emergency. To do that, visit Google’s Account Recovery Options and enter a phone number, alternate e-mail addresses for recovery, and security question.

Secure your lock screen
Trust us when we say you want to password protect your phone. Head on over to Settings > Lock Screen > Screen Lock and choose one of the options (Swipe, Pattern, PIN, Password, Fingerprint). Keep in mind that you’ll need 2 hands available to unlock with Fingerprint accurately on a consistent basis. I’m a big fan of  Pattern Lock. But if you don’t want to lock your screen every. single. time. adjust the “Secured lock time” setting that will keep it unlocked for up to an hour before it locks again.

We’d also suggest you tap on “Show information”, enable it, and tap on “Owner information” at the bottom. Enter your name and e-mail address here; should a good samaritan find your device, they might just be your savior and shoot you an e-mail to return it. You could also list your phone number and check your voicemail remotely.

2) Update your apps

The new phone you just bought was built months and months ago. Since then it’s likely the apps that come pre-installed on your phone have had important updates. The Google Play Store lets you easily update these in addition to automatically updating your other apps in the future.

Visit the Google Play Store, press the menu at the top left (or swipe from the left), tap settings, Auto-update apps, and choose “Auto-update apps over Wi-Fi only”. Make sure you’re connected to Wi-Fi and watch your system apps, and any you have installed, update all at once!


Once all your apps are updated for the first time, you may wish to adjust this setting:

  • We’d recommend NOT choosing auto-update at any time. If a huge app update happens to become available while you’re out and about, you might find yourself way over the limits of your data plan, costing you a pretty penny. Stick with Auto-update over Wi-Fi only unless you have truly unlimited data.
  • We enjoy seeing when apps have updated, learning what’s new, and then testing those new features in the app. If you like keeping a handle on the latest Android stuff, you probably want to as well. Just select “Do not auto-update apps” and you’ll be notified when new versions of an app are available. If you have lots and lots of apps this could get pretty tedious, but you can always revisit this decision down the road.

And don’t forget to download Phandroid News and Forums for Android!

3) Remove Flipboard Briefing

If you’ve already been flipping through your Galaxy Note 4, you’ve likely noticed the news page on the far left home screen titled “Briefing”. It’s slow, it’s buggy, it’s not very customizable, and we think it’s an all around nightmare. We suggest you remove it, and thankfully that’s an easy thing to do.


To remove Briefing:

  • Hold down the multi-tasking button or pinch your home screen
  • Tap “Home Screen Settings” on the bottom right
  • Uncheck the “Flipboard Briefing” box

Ah, much better.

4) Customize your Home Screen

It seems there are endless options on the Galaxy Note 4, so organizing is of supreme importance, and that all starts with the home screen. This consists of a few key elements that we should talk about separately.


Customize your Dock Apps - the bottom row of icons can hold up to four apps plus your “Apps” tray and these are visible from every home screen. You’ll want to put your most used apps here: for me that’s Phone, Gmail, Chrome, and Voice Search, but for you that may be different. To change these simply long press on any icon and drag it into the dock. If you’ve already got 4 it will swap with the app icon you drag onto.

Put a folder in your Dock – I no longer need Voice Search in my dock (you’ll see why soon) and lately I’ve been messaging like crazy, but with a wide variety of apps. To put a folder containing many apps into your dock, simply create the folder elsewhere on your home screen and drag it into your dock afterwards. You can create a folder by long pressing on an app icon and dragging it to the top left of your screen onto “Create Folder”. Add more apps to the folder by dragging apps on top of the folder or opening the folder and pressing the “+” sign to add them in bulk. Then drag the folder into the dock and you’re practically Otis Redding!

Make S Note and Action Memos easily accessible –  the only way you’re going to learn the magic of the S Pen Stylus is if you put them within the flow of your daily routine. You don’t need to put them smack dab on your primary home screen to accomplish that- if you’re already going through the trouble of unsheathing the S Pen, what’s one little swipe to the left or swipe right ?

We recommend reserving the screen directly to the left and right of your primary home screen for S Note and Action Memos respectively. This doesn’t have to be permanent, but at least try it out for a solid 2 weeks- it’ll help you learn the Note 4 features like a boss.

  • Clear those screens of all their apps by long pressing and dragging to “Remove” in the upper right.
  • Long press on the blank screen and select “Widgets” at the bottom
  • Swipe to and tap on the S Note Widget
  • Long press on the 4×2 S Note List Widget and drag it to the top of your empty screen
  • You’ll see a dot on the top and bottom of the widget- drag the bottom circle to the bottom of the screen and release to make a full page S Note Widget

You’ll now see all of your S Note notebooks in a beautiful bookshelf of sorts and have access to all the S Note features from one screen. But don’t forget those Action Memos! After clearing the other screen for action memos you can:

  • Create an action memo by pulling out your S Pen and tapping “Action Memo” from Air Command
  • Scribble down a note
  • With your S Pen, touch and hold the thumbtack, dragging the newly created widget to your open screen
  • Resize the Action Memo as you see fit

Congratulations, you’ve set yourself up for success. This will help you learn the S Pen and all it’s great features much more easily. Now… didn’t I tell you I’d explain taking “Voice Search” out of my dock?

5) Ok Google Everywhere

If you haven’t been using Android’s voice commands, you’ve been missing one of it’s best features. Like many devices, you can setup your Galaxy Note 4 to respond to “Okay Google”, instantly launching a Google Search with Google Now… but that’s not all. First seen on the original Moto X, the Galaxy Note 4 is one of the only other devices you can set to hear “Okay Google” commands from any screen… even your lock screen!

You can set this up by going to:

  • Settings > Language and input > Voice Search > “Ok Google ” Detection
  • Check all 3 boxes
  • Train the voice recognition by saying Okay Google 5 times (say it a bit differently each time to improve accuracy)

As if Googling stuff by hand wasn’t easy enough!

6) Never lose your S Pen!

If the Galaxy Note 4 didn’t have the S Pen it’d just be… well, a better version of the iPhone 6 Plus. But with the S Pen it’s so much more. The Note 4 has a a safe and snug little place to secure the S Pen, but every time you unsheath the stylus, you risk its demise. Whether misplacing it, leaving it behind at Starbucks, or just outright losing the darn thing, we want to avoid its absence at all costs.


Head on over to Settings > S Pen > S Pen alerts and make sure it’s selected. It’s truly a life saver. If your pen is detached and you walk away from it, you’ll be alerted with a loud noise, vibration, and pop up message reminding you that you’d better fetch the darn thing. We would also recommend checking off “Disable pen detection” because it saves battery and seems redundant.

7) Optimize access to settings

Samsung makes changing settings on the fly a breeze with the Galaxy Note 4 but a few quick changes will make your life even more convenient. Start by going to Settings > Tap the 4 squares icon > Tap the pencil icon > drag and drop the quick toggles you want to appear in the notification try by default.


Note that the main quick toggles, where you see Wi-Fi/Location/Sound/Screen Rotation/Bluetooth above left- that list scrolls horizontally. It’s not obvious, but give it a try.

Two other improvements to settings you’ll want to initiate:

  • Adjust the settings to one long list instead of tabs. It’s much easier to digest. From the Settings screen tap the 3 dots in the top right, “View As” and select “List view”.
  • You can pin your most used quick settings to the top by tapping the same three dots, selecting “Edit quick settings”, and checking the boxes of your favorites.

Now you’ll have quick and easy access to making on-the-fly adjustments to your device whenever the need arises.

8) Enable Tap and Pay

Android devices have used NFC for mobile payments for years, but now that Apple has finally gotten on board with their own version – Apple Pay – we’re likely to see adoption rates by retailers skyrocket. You can already make tap and pay payments at places like Starbucks and 7-Eleven, but we’re guessing it’ll soon spread like wildfire- so get with the program. Start by enabling NFC in Settings > NFC.


You can set up Tap and Pay with ISIS, but we prefer Google Wallet, so first you’ll need to download Google Wallet from the Play Store. You may find it easier to update all your credit card and contact information with a laptop, so if that’s the case, follow the instructions on the Google Wallet website (click sign in at the top right).

Once you’ve successfully connected a credit card and are ready to rock, open the Google Wallet app back up and you’ll see one of the above 4 screens. Just tap “Set up tap and pay”, then press “Tap and pay unavailable”, select “Yes” to make it your default, and BOOM you’re ready to go on a Tap and Pay shopping spree!

If you’ve never used Tap and Pay before, you might be intimidated to try it for the first time in the store with a bunch of people surrounding you. Don’t be… people won’t bite and there is nothing wrong with asking for help and telling people you’ve never tried it before. But it’s really easy. You’ll do it once and be like “Wow… it’s that easy?” Here are the simple steps to actually use Tap and Pay:


Now you’re well on your way to blowing the huge fortune you’ve amassed, all from the convenience of your trusty Galaxy Note 4.

9) Speed up performance

If you’re a stickler for speed, you might get irritated with TouchWiz at times. There just so happens to be a secret hidden option to give your device a little boost. You’ll need to become a developer for the day, but it’s much less scary than it sounds.


  • Go to Settings > About Device > Build Number and tap the “Build Number” row 5 times
  • This will reveal a “Developer Options” setting just above “About Device”- Enable it
  • Tap “Window animation scale” and set to Off
  • Tap “Transition animation scale” and set to Off
  • Tap  “Animator duration scale” and set to Off

The default is usually 1X, so even lowering this to .5x should speed things up a bit.

10) Improve Battery

The Note 4 has a pretty reliable battery, but we’re always looking for ways to extend our battery life. Of course you’ll want to know about the Power Saving Mode found under “Power Saving” and located just below “Battery” in your full settings list. Adjust what does and doesn’t turn off when you enter the mode and then add Power Saving Mode to your quick toggle settings. Now, whenever you’re not actively using your phone, toggle Power Saving Mode on and greatly extend the life of your battery.


This will help you manually trigger your phone to conserve power, but you should also sift through the rest of your phone’s settings to ensure that you don’t have battery intensive features turned on, especially ones you’re not even using… so let’s make sure you don’t.

11) Tweak your settings to perfection

It’ll take you a LONG time to go through all of the Galaxy Note 4 settings, but enabling and disabling certain features could make or break your personal experience with the device. Below we’ve listed a number of settings we feel are rather important, identified how to find them, and provided our suggestion/explanation.

  • Multi Window (ON) – one of the best Note 4’s best features… this is a MUST! We recommend turning “Open in multi window view” off (it gets annoying) but keeping Pop-up view shortcut off.
  • Wi-Fi Smart Switch (ON) – this will automatically switch your phone between mobile networks and Wi-Fi to optimize performance
  • Passport (ON) – when Wi-Fi is enabled, this will automatically search and connect to public networks like Starbucks and Panera without havingto enter a login and password
  • Motions and gestures (OFF) – these aren’t that helpful and suck up battery life. If you’re going to turn any on, make it Mute/Pause and only select “Turning device over”
  • Smart Stay (ON/OFF) – if you’re looking for more ways to save battery, turn this off, otherwise it’s a pretty neat feature to keep your screen on while you’re actively using your phone
  • Touch sounds and Keyboard sounds (OFF) – there is nothing more annoying than hearing someone rapidly texting with every little button generating annoying click sounds. Do the world a favor and turn these off in your sound options
  • Blocking mode (ON) – the mobile equivalent of putting a Do Not Disturb sign on your hotel door knob but giving your favorite people a room key

These are a few of our top choices, but in reality, it would serve you well to take a gander through all of the Galaxy Note 4 settings to see what’s available. It will help you learn your device inside and out, making the next 1 or 2 years you spend with it much more blissful.

12) Download the best Note 4 apps and games

The Samsung Galaxy Note 4 is an incredibly unique device with its multi-tasking capabilities (Multi Window FTW!) and S Pen functionality. There are some apps and games out there that do an especially awesome job at integrating with Note 4’s experience. Here are just a few of the apps you may want to take for a spin:

Have more suggestions for apps and games that work especially great on the Note 4? Let us know in the comments and we’ll add them to the list!

13) Explore Galaxy Note 4 Forums for more

What’s the best place to get help, tips, tricks, support, suggestions, and information about the phone you have? From other people that also have that phone! That’s why Android Forums has become such a great resource and our Galaxy Note 4 Forums are especially awesome. Feel free to browse as a guest or sign up for a free account to begin posting (and you’ll see less ads!).

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Everything you need to know about the Nexus 9 Fri, 17 Oct 2014 16:51:17 +0000 nexus-9-tabledThe newly announced Nexus 9 is available for pre-order today, but what’s the hype over the latest Google slate all about? Here’s a primer on the newest member of the Nexus family — the first Android device to launch with the Lollipop update.

Hardware & Design


The Nexus 9 (designed and manufactured by HTC under the Google’s guidance) offers a compromise when it comes to size, but it doesn’t compromise when it comes to its spec sheet. An 8.9-inch display equates to a form factor with a smaller footprint than a 10-inch slate but more screen real estate than 7-inch options. This best-of-both-worlds approach should appeal to a wide range of users. A thickness of 7.9mm and weight of 425g (WiFi model) make for a light and portable device.

We mentioned that HTC and Google didn’t cut corners when it came to hardware. Here’s the spec highlights for the Nexus 9:

  • 8.9-inch IPS LCD (2048×1536, 4:3 aspect ratio)
  • NVIDIA Kegra K1 (64-bit dual-core Denver CPU @ 2.3GHz)
  • Kepler GPU
  • 2GB RAM
  • 8MP rear, 1.6MP front-facing cameras
  • 6700mAh battery

The Nexus 9 also features front-facing HTC BoomSound speakers (as well as 3.5mm headset jack), dual microphones, MIMO WiFi 802.11ac, and LTE connectivity options. Google promises battery life of up to 9.5 hours for media playback and WiFi browsing with standby times of up to 30 days.

Android 5.0 Lollipop & Timely Upgrades

Lollipop-Forrest-Cropped large

The Nexus 9 will be the first device to ship with Android 5.0 Lollipop. The operating system update is best known for its visual overhaul dubbed Material Design. Material Design aims to create a familiar but custom-tailored interface across Android devices, allowing users to seamlessly transition from their smartphone to tablet to smartwatch and even TV with the new Nexus Player. Material Design relies on responsive animations to create visual feedback to interface interactions, creating a more tangible experience that feels intuitive and natural.

Other improvements include enhanced notifications and multitasking as well as a new battery saver feature to squeeze every last minute out of a waning charge. The Nexus 9 takes advantage of Lollipop’s capability to allow access to Google Now voice commands even when the display is powered down. User’s simply speak and their tablet responds.

Under-the-hood improvements include Project Volta, again focused on improving battery life, and the transition to the new ART runtime. ART replaces the Dalvik runtime that has long been a part of Android and promises better application speeds and an overall performance boost.

Because the Nexus 9 is a Nexus device, it will not only be the first to launch with Lollipop but it will also be first in line to receive future Android updates. With a direct line to Google, updates will push to the Nexus 9 as soon as they are available. Carrier and manufacturer interference will not slow down the process. When Android 5.1 is ready, Nexus users will receive it before anyone else.

Media Machine


The Nexus 9’s abundant power and efficient Android 5.0 operating system make it the perfect device for reading, web browsing, streaming video, gaming, and more. Access to the Google Play Store gives puts over 1 million apps and games, a huge library of books, and nearly endless music and movies right at the users fingertips. Entertainment options on the Nexus 9 are nearly endless.

The N9’s 192-core Kepler GPU promises desktop-grade graphics and the 64-bit NVIDIA Tegra K1 is future-proofed for the next generation of mobile software. The dual BoomSound speakers provide immersive audio for movies, games, and music alike.

Keyboard Dock


A separate keyboard dock will be available for the Nexus 9, doubling as a productivity tool and stand for hands free entertainment. The dock features magnetic attachment and a folding design that allows users to position their Nexus 9 at the perfect angle for work or play. The full-fledged keyboard turns the N9 into a potential replacement for a laptop when it comes to tasks like document creation, email, and more.

Configuration Options & Pricing

The Nexus 9 is available today for pre-order in a variety of configurations via Best Buy, Amazon, and the Google Play Store. Pricing starts at $399 for the WiFi-only model with 16GB of internal storage. The WiFi model with 32GB sells for $479. A WiFi + LTE version with 32GB of storage is available for $599. All options will be available in one of three colors: lunar white, indigo black, and beige.

Retail availability begins November 3rd. Pre-orders are expected to arrive on or before that date.

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Apple’s new iPads vs Nexus 9 & Samsung Galaxy Tab S Thu, 16 Oct 2014 18:08:38 +0000 Apple has announced a pair of iPad updates today, refreshing both models from last year with the iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3. The two devices don’t change much in terms of design from the previous models, but a few key upgrades promise to once again make Apple’s tablet offerings the talk of the town.

Before we get swept up in another round of Apple hype, let’s breakdown how these slates really stack up against the best Android has to offer. We compare the iPad Air 2 and iPad mini head-to-head with the newly announced Nexus 9 by HTC and Samsung’s Galaxy Tab S line.

iPad Air 2 vs Android competitors

Air 2 N9 Tab s

Apple’s iPad Air 2 picks up where last year’s model left off, packing plenty of punch the lightest and thinnest tablet (437g, 6.1mm) we have ever seen. Samsung’s Galaxy Tab S, which launched earlier this year, gets close at 6.6mm (467g). The Nexus 9 is the odd man out with a thickness of 7.9mm, a measurement that is still nothing to scoff out. The N9 is the lightest of the tablets at 425g.


With tablets seeing plenty of use as media devices, the display is without doubt one of the most important hardware elements to consider. The iPad Air, Galaxy Tab S, and Nexus 9 are all in the ballpark of 10 inches and all feature resolutions in excess of 1080p Full HD.

The Nexus 9 straddles the line between the large and mid-size tablets at 8.9 inches. It’s 1536×2048 resolution equates to a pixel density of 281ppi across its surface area. The Galaxy Tab S offers the biggest display option at 10.5 inches. Its Super AMOLED display slightly edges the IPS LCD of the Nexus 9 with a resolution of 1600×2560 and a pixel density of 288ppi. The iPad Air 2 sits in the middle with its 9.7-inch Retina display, an IPS screen touting a resolution of 1536×2048 and a pixel density of 264ppi.

Processing Power & Battery

Between the Nexus 9, iPad Air 2, and Galaxy Tab S, there is plenty of processing power to go around. Each device is supported by a SoC from a different manufacturer, and each has its own advantages.

Apple’s latest offering features the 64 bit A8X. The A8X is a iPad-tailored version of the A8 processor that debuted in the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus last month, a dual-core chip that has been tested to reveal clock speeds around 1.4GHz (Apple does not reveal detailed figures for its processors). The chip also includes an M8 coprocessor for handling motion sensor inputs and promises improved graphical capabilities.

The Nexus 9 relies on the NVIDIA Tegra K1 chip, a quad-core chipset clocked at 2.3GHz. This chip also includes a Kepler DX1, which comes with the claim of offering desktop-grade graphics on a mobile device. The Nexus 9’s processor suite is supported by 2GB of RAM.

The Galaxy Tab S comes in two flavors. Some regions have access to the tablet with an Exynos 5420 octa-core processing, but most will see the Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 variant. That device sports quad-core 2.3GHz processing and Adreno 330 graphics and 3GB RAM.

The iPad Air 2 features a battery that promises up to 10 hours of use (Apple did not reveal a specific capacity). The Galaxy Tab S features a 7900mAh battery that offers up to 11 hours of multimedia use. The Nexus 9 features a 6700mAh battery.

Fingerprint Scanner, Camera & Other Features

The latest generation of iPads are the first to feature Apple’s Touch ID technology, allowing users to unlock their devices with a fingerprint and provide additional security for supported apps and services. The Galaxy Tab S offers a fingerprint scanner with similar capabilities, though it has been known to be slightly more finicky than its Apple competitor. The Nexus 9 does not include a finger scanner.

All devices feature rear and front facing cameras. The iPad Air 2 sports a 8MP rear camera and 1.2MP front-facing camera, while the Nexus 9 and Galaxy Tab S both feature an 8MP rear shooter and 1.6MP and 2.1MP front-facing sensor, respectively. All are capable of capturing 1080p HD video in addition to hi-res still photos.

All three devices feature dual-antenna MIMO WiFi for enhanced connectivity and improved data speeds. The three devices all also offer LTE-enabled variants to take advantage of mobile data over a cellular network.


While two of our devices run Android and only one runs iOS, all three offer different software experiences. Chalk this up to the inclusion of Samsung’s TouchWiz interface on the Galaxy Tab S (based on Android 4.4 KitKat) and the debut of Android 5.0 Lollipop on the Nexus 9. The new lineup of iPads sports iOS 8, Apple’s latest update to their mobile platform.

The differences between the Galaxy Tab and Nexus 9 are mostly surface level — core Android features like widgets, multitasking, and access to the Google Play Store remain the same. The N9 does benefit from new features introduced in Android 5.0 including its Material Design interface (a new design language geared at unifying the Android experience across devices) as well as improved notification controls and a new battery saver mode.

iOS 8’s differences are a bit more drastic. Users still have access to features like multitasking and over a million apps via Apple’s App Store, but widgets are refined to the notification shade and other core differences exist in how iOS functions versus Android. Apple made a point of emphasizing continuity features that allow users to easily move from smartphone to tablet to Mac, enabling text message and voice calling support across devices paired with a connected iPhone.

Android Lollipop boasts some continuity features, but Google has focused on media. Users can start a movie or video on one device and pick right up on another, including televisions thanks to the new Nexus Player.

iPad mini 3 vs Android competitors

Mini 3 N9 Tab s

Apple also unveiled a new edition of their iPad mini, a device featuring an 8-inch display. This tablet perhaps best compares with the Samsung’s smaller Galaxy Tab S, the 8.4-inch edition, but the Nexus 9’s 8.9-inch form factor is still an option for those looking for a slightly smaller slate.

The iPad mini 3 features a 7.9-inch Retina display at 2048×1536 resolution and 326ppi. The Galaxy Tab S 8.4’s Super AMOLED display measures 8.4 inches with a pixel dentist of 359ppi. Specs for the iPad mini and Galaxy Tab S 8.4 are otherwise identical to their larger counterparts.

Availability & Pricing

The iPad Air 2 will be available starting at $499 for a 16GB model, identical pricing to the equivalent Samsung Galaxy Tab S 10.5 model. The iPad mini will retail starting at $399, a price point that again matches the Samsung Galaxy Tab S at the 8.4-inch level. The Nexus 9 will retail for an identical $399 for a 16GB model.

The Nexus 9 will go up for pre-order on October 17th with official availability beginning November 3rd. The new iPads will also be available for pre-order starting October 17th and ships next week. The Samsung Galaxy Tab S is currently available from a variety of retailers and carrier partners.

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Samsung Galaxy Note 4 Review Wed, 15 Oct 2014 20:08:37 +0000 note-4-android-robots-phandroid

Oversized smartphones, endearingly referred to as phablets, were once seen as outrageous monstrosities procured by only a select few in a niche crowd. The poster boy for the large form factor has long been Samsung’s Galaxy Note. Now in its fourth iteration, it has developed a large and loyal following while Samsung has diligently crafted and honed the product, simultaneously helping define the category.

Competitors have followed, most notably Apple, who have finally arrived on the scene with the iPhone 6 Plus in hopes of stealing Samsung’s thunder. Worse things could happen: they’ve also drawn mainstream consumer attention to larger screened phones as a whole. With a four year head start, does the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 retain it’s rightful place atop the smartphone elite? That’s the question we tackle in this comprehensive review.

Design & Build

The Samsung Galaxy Note 4 has finally matured, ditching the cheap plastic wrapper from previous Notes and replacing it with a premium aluminum frame that a device of this caliber deserves. Despite growing slightly – it’s millimeters larger and grams heavier – it feels more compact and sturdy than ever, assisted by a more sleek, refined, and polished design than it’s predecessors.


The faux leather back? It’s still there, but it looks much more seamless and realistic, and gone is the leather stitching that formerly bordered the exterior shell. Some may still complain about the plastic back, but Samsung has done a much better job masking the material, and the fact remains that this choice allows for a removable cover providing access to additional memory, a battery, and SIM card.


Rather than a solid colored front face with a slight brushed look, Samsung has opted to embed subtle black stripes across a dark grey face. Better or worse is arbitrary, but it does create a weird effect where it overlaps with the illuminated backlit capacitive buttons.

The Note 4 also trades some of its straighter edges for graceful curves, partly for visual appeal but also to improve structural integrity. The corners of the phone flare slightly on the left and right, providing reinforcement for drops and accidents. Stronger curves around the headset jack, USB port, and S Pen add a nice touch.


Samsung has nudged the volume rocker and power button down a tad, which won’t be noticeable to most, but could make reaching these ever-important assets with one-hand a little easier. They’ve also been given some contour and silver lining to fit Samsung’s new premium theme.

As a Note 3 owner who doesn’t use cases, I found the plastic chrome wrap to be pretty susceptible to scratching, wear, and tear. At least on the surface, the Note 4 seems like a more resilient device, but it’s hard to know how 1 year of use will treat its decor. Scuffing up this beauty would cause much more heartache.


You’ll also find that the speaker has moved from the bottom of the Note 3 to the back of the Note 4. This may seem like a step in the wrong direction, but a tiny bump on the speaker grill creates the smallest of gaps when laid flat, allowing audio to escape and vibrate. The sound on the Note 4 is loud and full enough to make it a non-factor, but I must admit that I’ll miss cupping my hand around the edge of the phone to aim the audio my way when watching videos. The only thing better here would be front facing speakers.

The Galaxy Note 4 is a gorgeous Goliath, taking everything that was right about the Note 3 and graduating it. From the looks of it, the Note 4 is like the teenage boy whose parent’s already loved him, but are now proud to finally see him become a man. Now let’s find out what that man is made of…

Hardware & Specs

Considering the Galaxy Note 3 was already an industry front runner, Samsung had a tall order to impress consumers with spec improvements. Although there are no shocking surprises in the Note 4, the device improves in pretty much every area possible, taking great hardware and making it greater.

The show stopper on the Note 4 is it’s screen- a 5.7-inch Quad HD Super AMOLED display that is an absolute beauty. For those wondering, Quad HD means it can display four 1280 x 720 HD images on the screen at once! That’s possible due to a resolution of 2560 by 1440, an improvement most naked eyes won’t be able to fully appreciate. I’ve often maintained that Samsung makes the most gorgeous displays and the Note 4 is the most gorgeous of the gorgeous.


We’re not the only ones who think so: according to DisplayMate not only does the Note 4 have the highest resolution of any smartphone on the market, it also has the brightest display, incredible scores in power efficiency, great performance at various viewing angles, accurate color profiles, and the list goes on. We can’t say enough good things about the Galaxy Note 4 screen. But if you want to know more, see for yourself.

The Note 4 is powered by a 2.7 GHz QuadCore processor with 3GB of RAM and 32GB of internal memory (expandable by MicroSD), immediately making it one of the most powerful devices on the market. That power is supported by a 3220 mAh battery, giving it the juice necessary to get the typical user through a full day. Not that it matters, but the Note 4 battery is an interestingly skinny shape compared to the typical mobile phone battery.


As expected, the Note 4 also has an upgraded camera, both front and rear. In addition to increasing the rear camera from 13MP to 16MP and front camera from 2MP to 3.7MP, Samsung has added some software features to improve the experience. It’s also got all the connectivity features you’d imagine including 4G, Wi-Fi, NFC, Bluetooth 4.1, USB 2.0, MHL3.0, IR Blaster, Accelerometer, Gyroscope and beyond.

Two noticeable additions to the Galaxy Note 4 are a fingerprint scanner and UV sensor, the former of which was introduced with the Samsung Galaxy S5 and the latter of which is brand new. Integrated with S Health, you can now read UV levels directly from the sun to determine recommended skin protection.

These bells and whistles are nice additions to the Note 4, but there are also noticeable absences from the spec sheet and other upgrades we’d hoped to see but didn’t, namely the backtracking from USB 3.0 to USB 2.0 and lack of IP67 weatherproofing found on the Galaxy S5.

The only real advantage of USB 3.0 over 2.0 is enhanced data transfer speeds, something approximately twelve people will miss. Although USB 3.0 also offers quicker USB charging when connected via laptop, that benefit is completely overshadowed by other improvements Samsung has made to the Note 4’s battery life (more on that later).

The lack of a water resistant body is the most disappointing non-upgrade of the Note 4, but it’s difficult to be too critical of this decision. The feature itself is relatively new to the Galaxy line, competing devices in the same class don’t have the feature, and let’s not forgot that the Note 4 has one huge difference that would make water proofing it a much more difficult task: the S Pen.

Next: S Pen Stylus

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