Phandroid » Featured http://phandroid.com Android Phone News, Rumors, Reviews, Apps, Forums & More! Wed, 01 Jul 2015 14:35:24 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.2.2 20+ Best Android Apps from June 2015 http://phandroid.com/2015/06/30/best-android-apps-june-2015/ http://phandroid.com/2015/06/30/best-android-apps-june-2015/#comments Tue, 30 Jun 2015 20:06:07 +0000 http://phandroid.com/?p=167485 best apps june

Previous months

The first month of summer is already coming to a close. Can you believe it? In the past month there was tons of Android news, but also new Android apps. If you’re busy enjoying the summer weather you may have missed a few of the best apps that launched this month. We have compiled a list of the biggest and best apps to launch in June. Grab a lemonade and check it out. You might find a few new apps to try.

Adobe Photoshop Mix

adobe ps mix

Adobe launched a slew of new apps for Android this month. Photoshop Mix is a slimmed down version of Photoshop for mobile devices. It’s basically just another photo editor app with filters and cool effects, but a little more hardcore. [Download]

Adobe Brush CC

adobe brush

Adobe Brush CC allows you to create brushes that can be used in Photoshop or Illustrator. You can create brushes from scratch, or by taking photos of objects. The brushes automatically sync to the Creative Cloud. [Download]

Adobe Color CC

adobe color

Adobe Color CC is a color picker app that allows you to get colors from photos and sync them back to the Creative Cloud. If there is a color in the real world that you love you can easily bring it into the digital world. [Download]

Adobe Shape CC

adobe shape

Adobe Shape CC lets you create vector drawings from the photos stored on your phone. The vector graphics can then be used in Photoshop and Illustrator. [Download]

Amazon Cloud Drive

amazon cloud

It took a while, but Amazon finally brought a dedicated Cloud Drive app to Android. With this app you can easily access all of the photos, videos, and files you have stored in your Amazon account. It also comes with a free 3-month trial. [Download]

CloudPlayer by doubleTwist

cloudplayer

Everyone has some sort of cloud storage account these days, and a lot of us also have some sort of streaming music subscription. What if you could combine the two? CloudPlayer allows you to play music from your Dropbox, OneDrive, or Google Drive accounts. It has offline playback, Chromecast support, and lossless audio. [Download]

Colbr

colbr

In a few months, Stephen Colbert will finally take over The Late Show on CBS. They’ve already started ramping up the promotion for the show, which includes the new Colbr app. You can use the app to watch videos and listen to podcasts. [Download]

Facebook Moments

moments

Don’t you hate it when someone else used their phone to take photos and then never shares them with you? The Facebook Moments app is the solution (unless you already just upload all your photos to Facebook like a normal person). The app groups photos by event and person so you can quickly share them. [Download]

Fanly

fanly

If you’re a die-hard sports fan you’re always on the look-out for more news about your teams. With Fanly you can read all the news in one place. Stories from over 2,000 sources are aggregated into the Fanly app. There’s also social feeds and video highlights [Download]

Google Clock

google clock app

Google’s never-ending quest to bring stock apps into the Play Store continues with the Clock. This is the same Clock app you can find on Nexus devices, but now Google can easily update it. It includes alarms, timers, stopwatch, and a world clock. [Download]

HeadsOff

headsoff

In Android Lollipop, Google made a major change by introducing “Heads-Up” notifications. Many Android fans were upset by this change. HeadsOff is an app that disables the new Heads-Up notifications and restores the old ticker text in the status bar. [Download]

Inputting+

inputting

Touchscreen input has come a long way, but there is still a lot more to be improved. Inputting+ aims to fix that by adding shortcuts for undo, redo, and find & replace on touchscreen keyboards. When you’re typing a bubble will pop up with the shortcuts. [Download]

Kitchen Stories

kitchen stories

Kitchen Stories offers aspiring and seasoned chefs alike the opportunity to hone their cooking skills and discover delicious new recipes and cooking inspiration. The recipes are easy to make and come with beautiful pictures, step-by-step photo instructions, and how-to videos. [Download]

Kodi Media Center

Kodi

Kodi (formerly XBMC) is a popular open-source media player that works on nearly every platform, now including Android. The app is a hub for your local media and streaming media from many services. It’s highly customizable and easy to use on TVs. [Download]

Medium

Medium

Medium is an up-and-coming publishing platform. The app offers a simple editor to write your own stories, and a modern and clean interface for reading other stories. If you’re looking for a nice place to host your own blog, Medium is a good option. [Download]

Portal

portal pushbullet

Portal, from the makers of Pushbullet, isn’t super exciting or some new concept, but it is simple, and it is fast. It works by transferring files over your local WiFi network, so you don’t have to deal with shoddy connection and server speeds. [Download]

Pounce

pounce

Pounce is a shopping app that lets you snap a photo of any item and then instantly identify it, find it at a favorite store, and buy it. It’s a lot like the “Firefly” feature on the Amazone Fire Phone, but you don’t have to buy a crappy phone to use it. [Download]

Redub

redub

Editing videos on mobile is still something that not many apps have perfected. Redub attempts to fix the problem by keeping it simple, but removing the limits that other “simple” video editors impose. You can edit your own videos with filters and effects, or remix publicly available videos. [Download]

Shoot

shoot

Shoot makes it easy to send a big batch of photos or a large video directly from your Android device to your friends. It doesn’t matter what device they use or which network they are on as long as they can scan a QR code. Just select all that you want to send and a QR code is generated for you to share. [Download]

Siz

siz

Sometimes you just don’t have time to watch a full video. You just want the best part, and in a GIF. Siz creates a strip of GIFs made with the highlights of videos. No more wasted time looking randomly for the interesting parts of the video. [Download]

Ticklr

ticklr

Ticklr is a lot like the aforementioned HeadsOff app. It disables the new Heads-Up notifications and restores the old ticker text for notifications. It adds custom colors and settings for individual apps. [Download]

Tindog

tindog

You know what dogs really need? Tindr. You never thought about that? Well, someone else did. Tindog is like Tindr, but for dogs to make new friends. You can chat with other dog owners and set up play dates. It’s a little bit insane, but also kinda cool. [Download]

Touchless Chat

Touchless Chat will allow you to send hands-free messages in many messaging apps including SMS, Hangouts, Whatsapp, Facebook Messager and more. It extends the functionality of the built-in Google Now voice actions. [Download]

Vessel

vessel

Vessel is a subscription service that aims to compete with YouTube. For $3 a month you get access to the entire library of content, which includes many YouTubers and celebrities. You can watch the content before it appears on YouTube. [Download]


What was your favorite app from June? Did we miss any great apps from the last 30 days? Let us know in the comments below!

 

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If Material Design was a game, it would look like these three Android games [VIDEO] http://phandroid.com/2015/06/29/pivot-bing-bong-righty-tighty-android-review/ http://phandroid.com/2015/06/29/pivot-bing-bong-righty-tighty-android-review/#comments Mon, 29 Jun 2015 20:03:24 +0000 http://phandroid.com/?p=167433

I love simple games and I love Material Design. So when I first discovered a game called Bing Bong I was very excited. It combined simple and addictive gameplay with a Material-esque design. Then I found out that the same developer had made other games with the same style. The three games can stand on their own, but together they make for an addictive combination. Let’s take a look.

Bing Bong

Bing Bong screens

I’m not sure which game came first, but Bing Bong is the one I played first. In this game you control a green dot that is constantly going up and down across a street of traffic. Each time you successfully get to the other side you earn a point. You have to avoid blocks of varying sizes to cross the street. The green dot is constantly moving, but you can slow it down by pressing your finger on the screen.

The game becomes all about timing. Will you be able to make it past that block at full speed? If you slow down now will that make you hit the next block? You’re constantly adjusting your speed to perfectly cross the street unharmed. It’s easy at first, but gets difficult quickly.

Righty Tighty

Righty screens

In Righty Tighty you play as a red dot. Your goal is to collect the white dots and bring them to the goal. The red dot is constantly moving, but every time you tap the screen it will make a right turn. Like in Bing Bong, there are blocks of varying sizes constantly crossing your path. Also, the red dot is constantly growing, which makes it increasingly more difficult to avoid obstacles. You have to return a white dot to the goal to reset your size.

Pivot

Pivotscreens

The simplest of the three games is Pivot. You play as a blue dot this time, but you still have to collect white dots to earn points. The blue dot is constantly moving in a circular path. Tap your finger on the screen to go in the opposite direction. There are no goals this time. You get a point for simply collecting a white dot. Blocks of varying sizes are still trying to get in your way, and the wall is also an obstacle.

***

I like these games a lot because they feel like a family. Each one has its unique aspects, but they all share the same basic foundation. They’re beautifully simple, yet extremely addictive. The developer has done a great job with the little details, like how the music intensifies the longer you survive in Bing Bong.

All three games have Google Play Game integration for leaderboards and achievements. The games are free with very few ads (which can be disabled completely for $0.99). You can download all three in the Play Store. Enjoy!

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What do you want to see more of on Phandroid? [POLL] http://phandroid.com/2015/06/23/phandroid-poll-june-2015/ http://phandroid.com/2015/06/23/phandroid-poll-june-2015/#comments Tue, 23 Jun 2015 15:44:10 +0000 http://phandroid.com/?p=167083 Phandroid laptop

Here at Phandroid we’re always trying to bring you the best Android coverage on the planet. We cover the news, review the latest devices and apps, curate lists, make videos, do a podcast, and so much more. Android is our life, but we know it’s your life too. From time to time we take a step back and ask you, the reader, what you’d like to see on Phandroid.

Your Favorite Android Topics

We’ve been doing this since before Android was even on a single phone, and in that time “covering Android” has evolved to mean much more. Phones will always be the bread and butter of the Android world, but nowadays we also have tablets, watches, TVs, glasses, and even cars. Then there is all the apps, games, and services that actually run on these devices. Android is a monster, and we love it.

Our question to you is, which of these topics is most important to you? Check all that apply.

What types of articles?

All of these different topics can be covered in many different ways. There are simple news stories, leaks, and rumors, but also reviews, tutorials, editorials, polls (like this one), videos, and more. All of these serve different purposes. We’d like to know what type of content is your favorite. Are you a news hound or do you like to sink your teeth into something more in-depth?

Recurring Features

“Features” are what we call our original content. This includes our semi-weekly Android Wallpaper series, Best Apps of the Month, Best Phones of the Month, Phan Favs (reader-selected best apps), Deals of the Week, and more. These types of articles are what set Phandroid apart. They provide valuable information and analysis that you won’t find anywhere else. We’d like to know what featured content is your favorite?

Your Personal Android Experience

Android is a universal product. There are a bunch of different carriers and manufacturers making Android devices across the globe. So while one person across the globe could be using the same phone as you, someone else could have an Android device you’ve never heard about. That’s the beauty of this ecosystem.

Manufacturers

There are many, many manufacturers making Android devices. Almost ever tech company from Acer to ZTE has made some sort of Android-related device. Here in the U.S. we’ve got the big four: Samsung, HTC, LG, and Motorola. In other parts of the world the selection is much more diverse. Let us know who you like.

Carriers

Most of these Android devices require a carrier in able to function. Just like with the manufacturers there are four big carriers here in the U.S.: Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint. In the global scale these carriers are not even in the top ten. What carrier do you use?

Global News

We primarily cover news that happens here in the U.S., but we realize that some of our readers may want to hear about more global Android news. Even if you’re living in the U.S. you might be interested in what’s happening in India, or vice versa.

Give us your suggestions!

We just threw a lot of polls at you, but now we want to hear your own words. We love to hear from you, after all, this site would be nothing without readers. Share your suggestions in the comments below. What would you like to see more of on Phandroid? Do you have ideas for new recurring features? Let us know!

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How to shoot photos in RAW on the Samsung Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge with Android 5.1 http://phandroid.com/2015/06/22/shoot-raw-samsung-galaxy-s6/ http://phandroid.com/2015/06/22/shoot-raw-samsung-galaxy-s6/#comments Mon, 22 Jun 2015 14:07:29 +0000 http://phandroid.com/?p=167066 Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge Camera DSC09314

We’d heard the Samsung Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge would be getting Camera RAW support with their Android 5.1 update (which is currently going out on T-Mobile variants), but there was no option to use it in Samsung’s camera app. Thankfully the update did bring proper support, but you’ll have to go about accessing it a different way.

That different way is a simple download of an alternate camera application. Users have reported downloading Snap Camera HDR or Camera FV-5 and being able to enable Android’s new Camera API 2 through simple menu settings, which then allowed those apps to shoot photos in full RAW goodness.

What are the benefits of shooting in RAW?

You’ll get a full image that has been unprocessed. The effect it has on the image might seem bad at first — particularly in the areas of notable noise and artifacting  — but the result is a file that has 100% accurate color information, which in turn allows you to make a very wide range of tweaks to get your image just right.

You would usually mitigate those effects in your post-processing routine. OEM camera apps tend to do this by default with a built-in post-processing engine, but they tend to be very limited, drop a lot of non-recoverable color information and offer up one-size-fits-all results.

Who’s this useful for?

Shooting in RAW is mainly for anyone who likes to process and edit their images on their own in apps like Adobe Lightroom or Photoshop. It’s more for serious photography than anything else.

For instance, you’d want to use it on some vacation shots of the Grand Canyon, but it’s probably overkill for that one-off selfie you’re planning to put on Instagram. It’s up to each user to decide whether they want to shoot in RAW or go the default route, as well as to decide what’s appropriate for whichever situation they’re using it in.

For more on shooting and editing in RAW you can read up here. If you’re convinced it’s for you then be sure to download the aforementioned camera apps (here or here) for use on your Samsung Galaxy S6 or S6 Edge. Let’s hope Samsung offers the goods up in their own camera app in a future update.

[via XDA]

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A look at the new features in Android 5.1.1 on the Moto 360 [VIDEO] http://phandroid.com/2015/06/19/android-5-1-1-moto-360-update/ http://phandroid.com/2015/06/19/android-5-1-1-moto-360-update/#comments Fri, 19 Jun 2015 18:51:37 +0000 http://phandroid.com/?p=167039

Android 5.1.1 for smartwatches has been out for a little while now, but Motorola took some extra time to make sure it was ready for the Motorola Moto 360. It’s finally rolling out now. This might be the biggest update Android Wear has seen to date. There are many new features and improvements that make the whole experience feel much more mature. Let’s take a look at some of the best new things.

Finally a built-in launcher

5-1-1 launcher

When Android Wear was brand new a lot of people thought it was missing an app launcher. There were a few different 3rd-party solutions, but it never felt like they belonged on Android Wear. Google has introduced an app launcher in Android 5.1 that feels much better. You can tap the watch face or swipe to the left to bring up a list of apps (the most recent are displayed on top).

The launcher is not just for apps. It’s actually made up of three pages: apps, contacts, and search. The first page shows the list of apps, but swipe again and you’ll see some commonly contacted people from your contacts. Tap on a person and you can send them a message. Swipe over once more and you’ll see the Google voice search page that used to pop up when tapping the watch face.

Use the watch without your phone

5-1-1 wifi

Android 5.1 adds WiFi connectivity to supported smartwatches. The Moto 360 happens to be one of the devices that can use this feature. You can connect your watch to a WiFi network and use it without being connected to your phone. Notifications and voice searches will still work on the watch. This feature is not intended to replace your phone completely, but it’s nice for those times when your phone disconnects.

Lock your watch when it’s not on your wrist

5-1-1 lock

Phones are full of personal data and information, which is why there are so many different security methods we can use. Smartwatches don’t typically store much personal data, so we haven’t really thought about how to secure them. Google has introduced a new feature called “screen lock” that should help the situation.

In the settings you can create a pattern password like you would on any Android phone. The idea is that when your watch detects the absence of motion, like if it’s charging on a desk, the screen lock will automatically engage. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to get this to work. You can also instantly turn on the screen lock from the settings.

Send hand-drawn emoji

5-1-1 emoji

One of the coolest new features in Android 5.1 is the ability to draw emoji. When you tap “Reply” to a message you can scroll down to see a new option for “Draw emoji.” It basically works like handwriting recognition, only instead of letters you’re drawing emoji.

Draw a smiley face and it will give you the smiley face emoji. Draw a weird squiggle and you might get the poop emoji. Some of the more intricate emoji are harder to draw, but it’s still fun. You can also simply choose emoji from a list if you don’t feel like drawing.

Ambient mode for apps

5-1-1 ambient

In previous versions of Android Wear it was nearly impossible to use apps for any extended period of time. Once the screen turned off it would close anything you were doing and go back to the watch face. This was really annoying if you were trying to cross things off a list, or browse an app. Android 5.1 fixes this problem.

Apps can now run in ambient mode (or “Always on”) if developers support it, which means they stay visible on the screen when it turns to black and white. If you don’t use ambient mode the app will still be in the foreground even if the display turns off. The best example of this right now is Google Keep.

***

Android 5.1 is a much-needed update, and it has breathed life back into the Moto 360. All of these new features and improvements make for a much more polished experience. How has your experience with Android 5.1 on smartwatches been so far? Which device do you own? Check out the Android Wear section of AndroidForums.com for more about Android 5.1.1.

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Best LG G4 cases, chargers, and accessories http://phandroid.com/2015/06/18/best-lg-g4-cases-chargers-and-accessories/ http://phandroid.com/2015/06/18/best-lg-g4-cases-chargers-and-accessories/#comments Thu, 18 Jun 2015 16:58:32 +0000 http://phandroid.com/?p=166774 LG G4 cases 2

The LG G4 is one of the best smartphones of 2015. We’ve already told you about the 10 things every LG G4 owner should do and 35+ LG G4 tips & tricks. Now it’s time to talk hardware. The world of accessories is a vast jungle of options. We’ve compiled a list of all the best accessories so you can find exactly what you need.

Best LG G4 Cases

LG Quick Circle cases

LG G4 Quick Circle cases

It’s not enough these days to simply make a case for a phone. People expect cases to be smarter and more than just a fashion accessory. The LG Quick Circle cases essentially put a smartwatch interface on a folio case. A round cut-out reveals a clock and small apps that allow you to interact with your G4 without opening the case.

There are two types of Quick Circle cases: wireless charging and snap-on. The Quick Circle Qi replacement cover is the only way to use wireless charging on the G4. It takes the place of your current back cover and adds the Quick Circle flap. The Quick Circle snap-on case simply snaps over the top of your current back cover and doesn’t add wireless charging. For an in-depth look at these cases read our full post.

Olixar FlexiShield Dot

LG G4 Olixar Dot

The Flexishield Dot case is a thin silicone-like case. They say it’s flexible like silicone and tougher than a hard plastic case. The dot pattern gives the case a nice grip so you don’t accidentally drop it. [MobileFun]

Incipio DualPro

Incipio DualPro

The DualPro is one of Incipio’s classic cases. It combines a flexible and soft silicone inner core with a hard polycarbonate outer shell. The result is great impact resistance and shock absorption. [Amazon]

Olixar Leather Wallet

LG G4 wallet case

A wallet case can kill two birds with one stone. It’s one solution for your phone, credit cards, and ID. The Olixar wallet case has an extra trick up its sleeve. You can fold it to prop up the phone for watching videos. [MobileFun]

Verus Dandy Wallet

LG G4 Verus Dandy

The Dandy case is a more premium wallet case. It not only has room for credit cards and ID, but also a slot for storing cash. This wallet case can’t fold into a stand, but it has a magnetic clasp to keep the flap shut. [MobileFun]

Incipio Octane

incipio octane

The Octane blends soft TPU with hard polycarbonate. The sides of the case are lined with the shock absorbing TPU, while the back of the case is rigid. It’s the perfect combination for protection and a slim profile. [Amazon]

Spigen Thin Fit

LG G4 spigen thin fit

If you want protection against bumps and scratches, but don’t want to sacrifice the feel of your device, the Thin Fit case is a good choice. The Thin Fit is a hard case that stays true to its name and only adds a negligible amount of weight for a case-less feeling. [MobileFun]

Spigen Rugged Armor
spigen rugged armor

The Rugged Armor is a flexible TPU case featuring an industrial design. It has a mix of glossy lines and carbon fiber texture, which provide decent protection without being overly bulky. This case is more for a rugged look than rugged protection. [Amazon]

Olixar ArmourDillo

LG G4 Olixar ArmourDillo

If you’re looking for a durable case that can take a beating the ArmourDillo is a nice choice. It uses the dual-layer system that a lot of tough cases have adopted. The under layer is a flexible silicone for shock absorption, and the outer layer is a hard plastic. The ArmourDillo case also has a bonus flip-out kickstand. [MobileFun]

Best LG G4 Wireless Chargers

Note: As mentioned above, in order to use wireless charging with the LG G4 you need a Qi or PMA-enabled case.

Incipio Ghost 100

Incipio-Ghost-100

It’s no secret that we love Incipio products. They make a lot of great high-quality accessories for Android devices, including wireless chargers. The Ghost 100 is very compact and it has an indicator LED light that displays the status. [Amazon]

Incipio Ghost 210

Incipio-Ghost-210

The Ghost 210 has the same features of the Ghost 100, but it’s double the length so you can charge two devices at a time. [Incipio]

Tylt Vu

Tylt-Vu

The Tylt Vu has long been one of the best wireless chargers on the market. While most wireless chargers are simply flat “pads,” the Vu doubles as a stand. Your phone is propped up at a 45-degree angle while charging. It’s designed so you can place your phone in any position to charge. [Amazon]

Tylt Vu Solo

Tylt-Vu-Solo-2

The Vu Solo is a more traditional charging pad, but it’s much smaller, and it has a neat little trick. Tylt calls it the “Alignment Ledge,” which is essentially a little clip on the cable that you can set so you always put the phone in the perfect spot. [TYLT]

Best LG G4 Skins

A case is an easy way to customize the exterior of your device, but almost all cases add some bulk. If you’re more worried about looks than protection you should consider a skin. They provide tons of personalization without sacrificing the profile of your device.

dbrand

lg g4 dbrand

dbrand has been making skins for phones longer than most people have had smartphones. They use high-quality materials and offer an unrivaled level of precision. For the LG G4 there are 18 colors/materials to choose from, and you can cover the front, back, and camera if you so choose. [dbrand]

SlickWraps

lg g4 slickwraps

SlickWraps is another long-time phone skin maker. They offer nearly 50 different colors, materials, and designs that you can put on your device. You can do the whole device or choose the front, back, or sides. [SlickWraps]

Best LG G4 Screen Protectors

LG G4 folders

LG opted to go with Gorilla Glass 3 instead of the newer Gorilla Glass 4 for the display on the G4. It’s still a very durable glass, but it’s not quite as durable as the Samsung Galaxy S6. If you’re worried about scratching the display you might want to consider a screen protector. After using a screen protector for more than a day you’ll forget it’s even there.

  • Spigen Crystal screen protector [Amazon]
  • iCarez Anti-glare screen protector [Amazon]
  • Skinomi TechSkin screen protector [Amazon]
  • Skinomi Tempered Glass protector [Amazon]

Best LG G4 Car Mounts

Standalone GPS units are a thing of the past. You already have a powerful navigation device in your pocket. The only thing you need to make the perfect travel companion is a car mount. Here are a couple that we really love.

Mountek nGroove

nGroove wants a hug wm

One of our long-time favorites is the Mountek nGroove. Most mounts require sticky pads or suction cups, but the nGroove uses the CD slot. Most people nowadays are streaming music from their phones, so why not put that CD slot to good use? [Amazon]

Tylt Vu

TYLT-VU-Charger-1

The Tylt Vu is a great charging stand, but it also comes in a car mount version. The awesome thing about the Vu car mount is it still wirelessly charges your phone while being mounted. Check out our full review. [TYLT]

Best LG G4 SD Cards

LG_G4_15

The LG G4 is a member of a dying breed: phones with microSD card slots. Samsung and HTC have dropped physical storage from their flagship devices (to the dismay of many Android fans), but LG is sticking with what the people want. You can easily upgrade your storage capacity without buying any cloud storage subscriptions and relying on a data connection.

Best LG G4 Headphones

headphones

The G4 has a 3.5mm headphones jack just like pretty much every phone on the market for the last 10 years. If you already own a pair of great headphones they will work just fine with the G4. If you don’t have any good headphones we have a couple suggestions.

We like the Brainwavz Delta with Mic. They’re great for all kinds of music and podcasts, come with three sizes of foam tips to match your ear size, include a mic for taking phone calls, and you can usually get them for around $20. A cheaper, but still great, option is the Panasonic RPTCM125A Headphones. They have comfortable ergo fit earbuds and only cost around $10.

User Reviews on Android Forums

LG G4 forums

You don’t just have to take our word on the best LG G4 accessories. Users in the LG G4 forums over at AndroidForums.com are sharing their own experiences with cases and more. You can hear from more users, just like you, and share your own reviews to help the community. Here are a few threads to get you started:

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Fitbit IPO: can they compete with Android Wear and Apple Watch? [POLL] http://phandroid.com/2015/06/18/fitbit-ipo-poll/ http://phandroid.com/2015/06/18/fitbit-ipo-poll/#comments Thu, 18 Jun 2015 14:55:06 +0000 http://phandroid.com/?p=166946 fitbit charge

Fitbit is the definition of a grassroots company which identified a growing need and capitalized on it at the right time. The company’s wearable fitness trackers have taken off in a big way — so much so, in fact, that they’ve grown big enough to go public.

Today’s initial public offering for Fitbit began at $20 per share, which is a few bucks more than a company of their size would typically open at. Shares bubbled as high as nearly $32 per share in the moments immediately following the IPO, but the price has since fallen to about $29 as of the time of this writing. The company was initially valuated at just over $4 billion.

Fitbit’s fast start can likely be attributed to investors’ belief that the company can stand the test of time. They endured a line of fitness products from top athletic brands Nike (Nike Fuel) and Adidas (miCoach Fit Smart), which certainly is a good sign that they know what they’re doing by now.

The question is, can it continue? Beating out shoe makers is one thing, but a lot more companies are starting to throw their hat into the ring. Google and Apple come to mind — two of the biggest technology companies in the world have caught on to wearables, with a range of products already being offered on the open market.

Google’s Android Wear supports Google Fit, a fitness API that developers and OEMs can tap into for a comprehensive fitness tracking experience. Apple offers much of the same with Apple HealthKit for their Apple Watch.

Fitbit’s one advantage is that they have close to a decade of experience in the field, and that they’ve been using that time to polish and perfect their product and craft. That said, technology stocks can be some of the most volatile in all the lands, and it remains to be seen if they can sustain a high level of performance after a few years of some of the bigger guys catching up. Do you think Fitbit will last? Vote in the poll straight ahead.

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Kickstarter: this Nikola Samsung Galaxy S6 case converts wasted energy from your phone to usable power http://phandroid.com/2015/06/16/nikola-wireless-energy-galaxy-s6-case/ http://phandroid.com/2015/06/16/nikola-wireless-energy-galaxy-s6-case/#comments Tue, 16 Jun 2015 19:36:21 +0000 http://phandroid.com/?p=166840 nikola energy case

Battery-packed cases are nothing new, but one firm is looking to create a power case that draws its energy from elsewhere: your phone. This is the Nikola Phone Case, and its creators — Nikola Labs — invented a way for the case to capture the energy your phone emits when it’s searching for a cellular signal.

Their original theory was that phones emit way more energy looking for a signal than is actually needed. Instead of that energy just evaporating into nothingness, the case captures it and transforms it into usable DC energy that can power your smartphone.

The result is a phone that lasts a bit longer than it would otherwise. The downside is that it probably won’t add more energy than a battery case could, but the upside is that the lack of a battery means you won’t need to charge the case, and it doesn’t add nearly as much girth. And if Nikola Labs’ claims are anything to go by, it does add a substantial bit of juice:

nikola case gif

So how much, and when? You can get the case at its standard price of $99 through a Kickstarter pledge, with shipment slated to be fulfilled as soon as January 2016. It’ll be available in four different color combinations — Black / Gold, White / Grey, White / Gold, Black / Grey or Red / Grey — as well as a neat t-shirt to profess your love for Nikola Labs.

The project is sitting at $53,000 of its doable $135,000 goal with a full 36 days to go, so there’s a really good chance this thing is getting funded. Be sure to throw your dollars into the hat if you want one.

[via Kickstarter]

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A quick look at the different types of LG G4 Quick Circle cases [VIDEO] http://phandroid.com/2015/06/12/lg-g4-quick-circle-cases/ http://phandroid.com/2015/06/12/lg-g4-quick-circle-cases/#comments Fri, 12 Jun 2015 18:11:44 +0000 http://phandroid.com/?p=166718

One of the latest trends in smartphones is to create a case that can do more than simply protect your phone. HTC has DotView, Samsung has S View, and LG has Quick Circle. There are two versions of the Quick Circle case for the LG G4. One acts as a replacement back and adds wireless charging, while the other simply snaps over the top like a typical case. Let’s take a look at both styles.

What does a Quick Circle case do?

LG G4 Quick Circle cases

Before we get into the two types of cases you might be wondering what a Quick Circle case actually does. The large circle cut-out is used to display information at a glance without requiring you to completely unlock your phone. It’s sort of like having a smartwatch display on the front of your phone. You can check the time, see notifications, use widgets, make calls, send messages, and more.

LG also allows developers to create their own apps for the Quick Circle case. This opens up the cases to do a lot of cool stuff. Some of the best apps include Quick Circle Apps, Quickfy (a Spotify player), Circle Remote, and Circle Pong. The Quick Circle might be the most useful smartphone case out there.

Quick Circle Qi Replacement Back

LG G4 Quick Circle wireless

The LG G4 does not come with support for wireless charging out of the box from any carrier. In order to get this functionality you’ll need a Qi or PMA charging cover. Currently, we’ve only been able to find Qi covers, but AT&T will eventually sell PMA covers. The good news is the Qi covers seem to work on all models of the G4, including the AT&T model.

The wireless charging Quick Circle case replaces the original back that comes on the G4. This is ideal if you want the features of the Quick Circle case, but don’t necessarily want the bulk of a case. The only downside is you can’t get a leather Quick Circle case, but they are available in Silver, Gold, White, Blue, and Pink .

Quick Circle Snap On Case

LG G4 Quick Circle snap on

The Quick Circle Snap On case is more like a traditional phone case. It doesn’t replace the original back cover, and it doesn’t add wireless charging. It simply snaps over the phone. Still, the Snap On case is very thin, and it has the same texture as the original plastic LG G4 back covers. The Snap On cases also don’t come in leather, but they are available in Silver, Gold, White, Blue, and Pink. If you don’t care about wireless charging you can save a few bucks with the Snap On case.


If you’re thinking about buying the LG G4 be sure to read our full review. After you get the phone check out our 10 things every LG G4 owner should do and 35+ LG G4 tips & tricks. Also, you can join the LG G4 forums and talk with other G4 owners about cases, apps, troubleshooting, and more.

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Oculus Rift official release window and details announced http://phandroid.com/2015/06/11/oculus-rift-price-release-date/ http://phandroid.com/2015/06/11/oculus-rift-price-release-date/#comments Thu, 11 Jun 2015 17:18:16 +0000 http://phandroid.com/?p=166647 oculus rift lol

Oculus Rift has just announced details for the consumer launch of their virtual reality headset. This is poised to become a benchmark product by which others are measured, and with Facebook’s backing we’re sure to see very interesting and significant developments down the line.

So when’s it coming? For how much? Will it help me survive the apocalypse? Fret not, because the answers are in. Here’s what we know so far:

  • There will be a simple, sleek desktop sensor that doesn’t require anything but a USB connection to a PC.
  • The release date for the Oculus Rift is scheduled to happen in Q1 2016.
  • The integrated headphones are user removable.
  • Oculus Rift will have a dial for adjusting lens focal distance.
  • The headset’s design has been updated to better accommodate glasses.
  • Oculus Rift will come pre-packaged with a wireless Xbox One controller.
  • You will be able to stream Xbox One games to your Windows PC to play in Oculus Rift.
  • Oculus is pledging $10 million to help independent developers create games for Oculus Rift.
  • Oculus Home will be a fully 3D VR-enabled user interface to buy and play all your games.
  • Oculus Touch is a new input option that’ll allow you to control your games with your hands instead of a traditional controller. It supports gestures, hand presence and object manipulation in the game world.
oculus touch oculus rift sensor oculus rift front

We also get a first look at some of the launch games that will natively support Oculus Rift. One was an insane space combat action title called EVE Valkyrie (which, for what it’s worth, is also headed for the PlayStation 4 and Sony’s Project Morpheus headset). You can check out a quick trailer of it in action right here:

Other games announced for Oculus Rift include an exclusive third-party Insomniac title named Edge of Nowhere, as well as an interesting action RPG titled Chronos.

Damaged Core, VR Sports Challenge, Esper, AirMech VR and Lucky’s Tale are all slated to be on Oculus Rift in 2016, and available to try out for anyone attending E3 as soon as next week..

Unfortunately the details stop there, which means we still don’t have an exact release date, nor do we know how much it’ll hit our wallets for once it arrives. E3 is next week so we’ll be on the lookout for more details then. Otherwise, it looks like we’ll have to wait until we’re closer to that Q1 2016 launch window to be let in on more.

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35+ LG G4 tips & tricks http://phandroid.com/2015/06/11/35-lg-g4-tips-tricks/ http://phandroid.com/2015/06/11/35-lg-g4-tips-tricks/#comments Thu, 11 Jun 2015 16:12:59 +0000 http://phandroid.com/?p=165339 LG G4 quick circle

If you’re the proud owner of a shiny new LG G4 you’ve come to the right place. First of all, you picked a great phone (it made our list of Best Android Phones). We were very impressed with the G4 in our full review, and it keeps getting better the more we use it. LG has packed a lot of great features in the G4, but many of them are hidden away. If you’ve already done the “10 things every LG G4 owner should do” we’ve compiled a list of many more tips and tricks you need to know. Let’s go!

Get Started

Unlock your phone with just a tap

One of the first things you should know about the LG G4 is you can wake or sleep the phone without pressing the power button. To wake the phone you can simply double-tap anywhere on the screen. Putting the phone to sleep works the same way. If you’re using the stock LG launcher you can double-tap on any blank space, but if you’re using a 3rd-party launcher you have to double-tap the status bar.

Unlock your phone with a unique knock pattern

Security is important when it comes to smartphones. This device holds a lot of personal information, and it’s with you all the time. Android phones come with a bunch of different ways to lock your device, but the G4 has one you’ve never seen. KnockCode allows you to set up a pattern of taps to unlock your phone. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Go to Settings > Lock screenSelect screen lock
  2. Tap on Knock Code
  3. Tap the square 3-8 times in a pattern you can remember
  4. Tap Continue and then confirm the pattern again
  5. Next you will create a backup PIN number in case you forget the KnockCode

When you wake up your phone you will see a square area on the lock screen for you to enter your KnockCode, but there is an even better way to do it. When the display is off you can perform your KnockCode and the display will wake up and unlock automatically, bypassing the lock screen altogether.

Settings that learn your habits

LG G4 smart settings

The G4 comes with a new feature called Smart Settings. This feature allows your phone to automatically adjust settings based on your location or connected devices. When you’re at home you can have WiFi and Bluetooth automatically turn on, or switch to vibrate when you leave the house, or have your favorite music app open when you plug in headphones. It’s very handy.

  1. Go to Settings > General tab > Smart Settings
  2. (you may need to turn on My Places in Settings > General > Location first)
  3. Adjust the toggles and options to your liking

Use Smart Lock to disable the lock screen when it’s not needed

It’s a good idea to have a layer of security on your device. The only problem with using a password or pattern lock is that it ends up slowing you down more than anyone else. A new feature called “Smart Lock” lets you tell your phone when it’s safe to disable lock screen security.

  1. Go to Settings > Lock screen > Select screen lock
  2. Choose one of the ways to protect your phone
  3. Once you have a screen lock selected you can go back to the Lock screen settings and you’ll see Smart Lock

Currently, there are 5 types of Smart Lock you can use, and you can use more than one at a time. Each one will explain how it works when you tap on it. We recommend Trusted devices and Trusted places.

Change how the Settings page is displayed

LG G4 settings

By default the G4 Settings page is organized into four tabs: Networks, Sound & notification, Display, and General. We find that these tabs actually make it more difficult to find stuff. To go back to the more familiar list view simply tap the three-dot menu icon in the top right of the Settings and select List view. We’ll be using this view for the remainder of this guide.

Find a lost or stolen LG G4

Losing your brand new phone would be a terrible thing, but it can happen. Luckily Android has great built-in tools for that exact situation. The G4 comes with something called “Android Device Manager” pre-installed. If your phone is lost or stolen you can simply go to this website, log in with your Google account, and locate your phone. You can also remotely ring, lock, and erase the device.

Check out our full, detailed guide on finding a lost or stolen Android phone.

Take a screenshot

Taking a screenshot is one of the most basic functions of a smartphone. The LG G4 has a couple of different ways to perform this task.

  1. Press and hold the power and volume down buttons simultaneously

– or –

  1. Swipe down to show the Quick Settings toggles
  2. Find the QMemo icon and tap it
  3. This will take a screenshot and allow you to draw on top of it

Customization

Quickly jump into apps from the lock screen

LG G4 lock

Adding shortcuts to the lock screen can make it easy to quickly open your favorite apps. LG allows you to add five shortcuts to the lock screen. The shortcuts will only appear on the lock screen if you use the None or Swipe screen lock methods, or if Smart Lock is currently active. In order to set up the shortcuts you will need to disable any form of screen lock.

  1. Go to Settings > Lock screen
  2. Scroll down to Shortcuts
  3. Simply tap on a shortcut and choose the desired app from the list
  4. Just swipe up on the shortcuts from the lock screen to quickly launch

Change the lock screen animation

LG G4 lock screen

LG allows you to customize how it looks when you swipe to unlock your phone. There are five different animations to choose from. These animations only work with the Swipe screen lock method, or if Smart Lock is currently active.

  1. Go to Settings > Lock screen
  2. Select Screen swipe effect
  3. You can choose from Hula hoop, Circle mosaic, Light particle, Vector circle, or Soda.

Personalize your phone with a wallpaper

Changing the wallpaper is one of the easiest ways to instantly personalize your LG G4. It’s super easy to do. Simply press and hold on any empty space on the home screen. Select the Wallpapers tab in the bottom left of the screen. You’ll be able to choose from installed apps and pre-loaded wallpapers. Go crazy!

Get real-time info without opening apps

LG G4 customize

Widgets are one of the last things that truly make Android unique. No other mobile operating system has such an abundant selection of awesome widgets. With a screen full of widgets you can get quick information without opening apps. They’re very handy, and you should use them.

Once again, simply press and hold on any empty space on the home screen. Select the Widgets tab in the bottom center and scroll horizontally through the widgets. To put a widget on the home screen press and hold then drag and drop it on the desired spot.

Pinch to add and reorder home screen panels

To further customize your home screen you can add and reorder the panels. Pinch your fingers on the home screen to zoom out and see all the panels. Here you can choose which panel is the main panel by tapping the house icon and add panels by tapping the empty panel with a + icon. You can also press and hold a panel to drag it into the trash.

Turn off Smart Bulletin

While zoomed out on the home screen panels you probably noticed the left-most “Smart Bulletin” panel. LG uses this area to place widgets and other things that they think you’ll want to use. Smart Bulletin is mostly useless unless you’re the rare person that loves LG’s own apps. Luckily it’s easy to turn off.

  1. Go to Settings > Home screen
  2. Toggle off the switch next to Smart Bulletin

Customize the app icons without an icon pack

LG G4 app icons

There are many ways to change how icons look in Android. Most people download a 3rd-party launcher and an icon pack from the Play Store, but LG made it even easier with their stock launcher.

  1. Press and hold on an icon on the home screen until you feel a vibration
  2. Release your finger and you should see a purple paint brush badge on the app icon
  3. Press the badge and you’ll be brought to the Icon change screen
  4. You can choose from LG’s pre-loaded icons, or add your own

Organize the app drawer with folders

LG G4 folders

Creating folders on your home screen is a good way to organize apps, but LG takes that idea one step further. With the default LG launcher you can create custom folders inside the app drawer. The app drawer is the area that shows all of your installed apps. Folders can really make it easier to find apps if you have a lot installed.

  1. On the home screen tap the app drawer icon (looks like a circle with 6 dots inside it)
  2. Tap the three-dot menu icon in the upper right corner
  3. Select View apps by and choose Custom
  4. Still in the app drawer, tap the three-dot menu icon again
  5. Select Edit/Uninstall apps
  6. Now you can drag apps on top of each other to create folders
  7. Tap the check mark in the upper right corner when you’re done
  8. Tap on the folder and tap “Folder” to rename and choose the color

Customize the Quick Settings toggles

LG-G4 quick settings

When you swipe down to see your notifications you’ll notice a bunch of toggles across the top. These toggles are called “Quick Settings,” and you can scroll left-to-right to see more. All of these toggles can be customized to your liking.

  1. Swipe down to show the Quick Settings and scroll all the way to the right
  2. Select the Edit toggle
  3. On this page you can enable or disable any toggle, and drag to re-organize the placement

Adjust the keyboard to fit your style

LG G4 keyboard

The default LG keyboard is one of the manufacturer keyboards we’ve used. One of the best things about it is how much can be customized. Everything from the size, themes, and suggestions can be adjusted to your liking.

  1. Go to Settings > Language & input
  2. Scroll down and tap the gear icon to the right of LG Keyboard

Keyboard height and layout – You can put a number row on top of the keyboard, adjust how it looks in landscape, split the keyboard, and enable one-hand mode.
Keyboard theme – Choose white or black
Smart input – Enable the swipe input, toggle word suggestions, and adjust the auto-correction aggresivness.

Customize the navigation buttons and color

LG G4 nav bar

The G4 has software navigation buttons across the bottom of the display. The benefit of software navigation buttons is the flexibility they provide. Unlike physical buttons they can disappear to make room for fullscreen apps, or in this case, be customized to show more buttons. You can rearrange the existing buttons, or add up to two extra buttons.

  1. Go to Settings > DisplayHome touch buttons
  2. Select Button combination
  3. You can drag and drop the buttons in any order you like, but there can’t be more than 5 in the bar
  4. Changes will show up in the navigation bar immediately
  5. You can also choose the color of the buttons on the previous page

Gestures

 Double tap the volume buttons to launch apps

LG G4 back buttons

One of the most iconic features of LG phones has become the infamous buttons on the back of the phone. No one else is putting buttons on the back of phones, and it really does make a lot of sense. LG takes advantage of these buttons to perform a few tasks besides just adjusting the volume. You can use them to quickly launch the camera or take notes, when the display is off.

  1. Go to Settings > Shortcut key
  2. Switch the toggle to On

Double tapping Volume Up will launch the QMemo app for taking notes. Double tapping Volume Down will quickly launch the camera. On that same page in the settings you can choose to have the camera automatically take a photo as soon as it’s launched from the shortcut.

Get a quick peek at the clock and notifications

LG G4 peek

Here’s a simple tip for getting a peek at the time and notifications. When the display is off you can slide your finger from the very top of the screen to about halfway down to show the clock and status bar.

Camera

Simplify the camera, or turn on advanced controls

LG G4 camera mode

The LG camera app can be as simple or as complicated as you want. Simple mode removes all buttons from the screen so you can just tap to focus and take a photo. Auto mode adds a few quick settings for flash, HDR, timer, and more. Manual mode is only for advanced users. It has settings and sliders for things like focus, ISO, shutter speed, and more.

  1. Open the camera and tap the three-dot menu icon
  2. Choose the desired mode from the drop-down

Get the perfect shot every time with guidelines

Auto mode is the best mode for most people. When you’re in auto mode you can turn on a few handy features, such as guidelines. The guidelines will show a very light grid over the top of the camera. You can use the grid lines to center your shot perfectly every time.

  1. In Auto mode tap the gear icon
  2. Tap the grid icon from the drop-down menu

Use your hand to take selfies from far away

LG G4 selfie

One of the coolest camera features on the G4 is called Gesture shot. You can take a selfie by holding your open hand up to the camera and then closing it into a fist. The feature actually works really well, and it can come in handy quite often. Gesture shot is enabled by default, so all you have to do is use it.

  1. Hold up your open hand to the camera until brackets appear around it
  2. Make a fist once to take one photo (a 3 second timer will count down to the shot)
  3. Make two consecutive fists to take 4 burst shots

Say “cheese” to take a photo

Another thing you can do in Auto mode is enable the voice shutter. With this feature enabled you can say “cheese, smile, LG,” and more to snap a photo with your voice.

  1. In Auto mode tap the gear icon
  2. Tap the face icon from the drop-down menu

Security & Performance

Use Smart Cleaning to clear out space

LG G4 cleaning

Over time the free space on your G4 will start filling up with stuff you might not even know about. Stuff like temporary files and junk in your download folder. By cleaning up this stuff you can reclaim storage to use for more important things. LG has included a way to clean all of this up right in the settings.

  1. Go to Settings > Smart cleaning
  2. You’ll see how much storage is in use and how much is free
  3. Tap on the files you wish to clean and press CLEAN

Expand your memory

The LG G4 is a member of a dying breed: phones with microSD card slots. Samsung and HTC have dropped physical storage from their flagship devices (to the dismay of many Android fans), but LG is sticking with what the people want. You can easily upgrade your storage capacity without buying any cloud storage subscriptions and relying on a data connection.

Get better battery life in a bind

LG G4 battery saver

Everyone has their own tricks for squeezing out extra time when your battery is low. Some people use airplane mode or manually turn off everything that’s not important. The LG G4 has a built-in setting for getting every last drop of juice when your battery is low. Battery Saver mode turns off all non-essential features when your phone reaches a certain low battery percentage. It works great and only requires a short set up.

  1. Go to Settings > Battery & power saving
  2. Tap on Battery saver
  3. Toggle the switch on and select Turn Battery saver on
  4. Select when you want Battery saver to automatically turn on

Protect your photos and videos from prying eyes

If you’ve got some sensitive photos or notes on your phone you can use Content Lock to keep them safe. This feature will allow you to put photos and notes behind a wall of security, and hidden from prying eyes.

First, you have to enable it in the settings.

  1. Go to Settings > Security
  2. Tap on Content lock
  3. You’ll be asked to set up a security measure. Follow the steps.

Once you’re done with that you can lock photos or QMemo notes.

  1. In the Gallery or QMemo app select an item
  2. Tap the three-dot menu and select Lock
  3. Top show locked items tap the three-dot menu on the main page and select Show locked files/memos

Give guests limited access to apps

LG G4 screen pin

A smartphone is full of personal information and sensitive content. This can make it difficult to let people use your phone without your supervision. Screen pin is a new feature that lets you lock your phone to one app. You can “pin” a specific app so the user can’t do anything else.

  1. Go to Settings > Security > Screen pin
  2. Toggle the switch on

To use Screen pin open the app you would like to pin, press the Recents button in the nav bar, scroll up and tap the blue thumb tack icon in the bottom right corner of the most recent app. To unpin an app simply long-press the back and Recents buttons simultaneously.

Add another user account

LG G4 user accounts

Android tablets have had user accounts for a while, but now phones are finally getting them too. By adding more user accounts you can allow multiple people to use your phone with their own apps and settings. They won’t be able to mess up anything in your own personal account.

  1. Swipe down on the status bar to show the notifications and Quick Settings
  2. Tap the little profile icon in the top right corner
  3. Tap Add user
  4. It will automatically switch to the newly created “Friend” account
  5. To switch accounts simply perform step 1 and tap the account

More Cool Stuff

Use the G4 as a TV remote

LG G4 remote

More and more phones are coming with IR blasters built in, and the G4 is one of them. An IR blaster is what remotes use to communicate with a television to turn it on, adjust volume, change channels, etc. Why fumble for a remote when you already have your phone on you at all times?

  1. Open the QRemote app
  2. Tap the + icon
  3. Choose the type of device you’d like to control
  4. Find your device from the list

Some devices work better than others. If you find that some buttons on the remote don’t work correctly you can tap the three-dot menu icon and select Learn remote. This will allow you to program the button by using the real remote.

Turn off the LED notification

The LG G4 has an LED indicator light that is used to show when you have notifications. Some people love this, other people hate it. There’s nothing more annoying than a blinking light from your phone in the middle of the night. Thankfully, LG allows you to turn of the light altogether.

  1. Go to Settings > Sound & notification
  2. Toggle off Notification LED

Set up Downtime

LG G4 downtime

Are there certain times of day when you don’t want to be bothered with notifications? Downtime is a feature that allows you to set certain times and days for your phone to automatically go into silent mode. It can be incredibly useful, and you should definitely use it.

  1. Go to Settings > Sound & notification > Interuptions
  2. Select Downtime
  3. Choose the days of the week you’d like it to be enabled
  4. Choose the start and end time
  5. Choose if you’d like No interruptions or Priority interruptions during this time

Use floating apps with QSlide

LG G4 qslide

QSlide is a place where you can quickly launch apps in windows that float above whatever you’re currently doing. The QSlide apps can be re-sized, made transparent, and dragged around the screen. When you’re trying to perform multiple tasks at once the QSlide apps can be incredibly useful. There are a couple of ways to access these apps.

  1. Pull down on the notification shade and scroll through the toggles
  2. Tap on the QSlide toggle and the available apps will appear below
  3. To edit which apps appear here you can scroll to the right and tap Edit
  4. Select the app you wish to open and tap it
  5. Now you can drag it, resize by pulling the corner, and adjust transparency with the slider.

If you find yourself using these apps a lot you may want to use the second method.

  1. Go to Settings > Display > Home touch buttons
  2. Select Button combination
  3. Drag and drop the QSlide button into the navigation bar

Use two apps at once with Dual Window

LG G4 dual window

If you want to take multi-tasking to the next level you can use Dual Window mode. You can run two apps at the same time on each half of the display. Dual Window mode doesn’t work with all apps, but new for the G4 is Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides. Other apps include YouTube, Chrome, Hangouts, Gmail, Messaging, and more. Here’s how to use it.

  1. Long-press the Back button
  2. Select the app to display on top
  3. Select the app to display on the bottom

Another way to do this is to press the Recents button and select Dual window. When Dual Window mode is active you can drag the divider between the apps to resize the windows. To close one of the apps you can simply drag the other app to full screen.

Simplify the user expirience with Easy Mode

If you’re giving the LG G4 to someone who’s not very tech suave, or you are not tech suave yourself, Easy Mode is a nice feature. In Easy Mode the icons on the home screen are simplified, the text is bigger, and it’s easy to create speed dial shortcuts. This mode isn’t for everyone, but we all know someone who could use it.

  1. Go to Settings > Home screen
  2. Tap Select Home
  3. Choose EasyHome

Get help and join the G4 community on AndroidForums.com

nexus 6 forum

Now that you know everything about this awesome phone you can join the LG G4 forum over at Android Forums. You’ll find conversations about customization, troubleshooting problems, accessories, and much more. It’s the best place to go to ask questions and learn more about your new phone. Here are a few threads you may be interested in:

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10 things every LG G4 owner should do http://phandroid.com/2015/06/10/10-things-every-lg-g4-owner-should-do/ http://phandroid.com/2015/06/10/10-things-every-lg-g4-owner-should-do/#comments Wed, 10 Jun 2015 16:23:29 +0000 http://phandroid.com/?p=164748 LG_G4_2

If you own, or plan to own, the LG G4 you have made a decision to go against the grain. While everyone else gushes over the Samsung Galaxy S6 and HTC One M9 you’ve went with the lesser-known LG G4. We think you’ve made a really good choice. The LG G4 is a great device with a lot of unique features. In this guide we’ll show you some of those features and other things you need to do right now.

1. Set up KnockCode

G4 knock code

Security is important when it comes to smartphones. This device holds a lot of personal information, and it’s with you all the time. Android phones come with a bunch of different ways to lock your device, but the G4 has one you’ve never seen. KnockCode allows you to set up a pattern of taps to unlock your phonefle. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Go to Settings > Lock screenSelect screen lock
  2. Tap on Knock Code
  3. Tap the square 3-8 times in a pattern you can remember
  4. Tap Continue and then confirm the pattern again
  5. Next you will create a backup PIN number in case you forget the KnockCode
  6. That’s it!

When you wake up your phone you will see a square area on the lock screen for you to enter your KnockCode, but there is an even better way to do it. When the display is off you can perform your KnockCode and the display will wake up and unlock automatically, bypassing the lock screen altogether.

How to find a lost or stolen Android phone [Android 101]

2. Set up Smart Settings

g4 smart settings

One of the new software features on the LG G4 is called Smart Settings. With this feature you can have the G4 automatically adjust settings based on your location or connected accessories. For example, when you’re at work you can have the notification sound turned off, or when you get home WiFi can automatically be enabled. It’s an incredibly handy feature you’ll want to use.

  1. Go to Settings > Smart Functions > Smart Settings
  2. You’ll see a list of toggles for “Home, Away,” and “Accessory.”
  3. Simply toggle the settings you’d like to have enabled in each section

Note: In order to use the “Home” settings you’ll have to turn on “My Places” in Settings > General > Location.

3. Download the best apps and games

Before we go any further you’re going to want some apps. Downloading apps from the Play Store is one of the first things you’re going to do, but with so many to choose from it can be daunting. How do you know which apps are the best, and how do you discover the hidden gems that most people don’t know about? The easiest way is to read from our extensive library of app guides. Here are a few you might want to check our right now.

4. Use Event Pocket

G4 event pocket

Another new software feature called “Event Pocket” can be found inside LG’s calendar app. When opened, Event Pocket will present a variety of items culled from your Facebook events or nearby points of interest, allowing you to drag and drop them directly to your calendar. For those managing an endlessly busy schedule, Event Pocket could become a useful tool.

To use Event Pocket simply tap the icon in the top right of the calendar app. You will be asked to sign into Facebook. The Event Pocket is a slide-out menu from the right side. You can drag and drop items, such as Facebook events and photos, from the slide-out menu right onto the calendar. Event Pocket will also make suggestions about local events.

5. Customize the navigation buttons

G4 nav buttons

The G4 has software navigation buttons across the bottom of the display. The benefit of software navigation buttons is the flexibility they provide. Unlike physical buttons they can disappear to make room for full screen apps, or in this case be customized to show more buttons. You can rearrange the existing buttons, or add up to two extra buttons.

  1. Go to Settings > DisplayHome touch buttons
  2. Select Button combination
  3. You can drag and drop the buttons in any order you like, but there can’t be more than 5 in the bar
  4. Changes will show up in the navigation bar immediately
  5. You can also choose the color of the buttons on the previous page

6. Create folders in the app drawer

G4 folders

Creating folders on your home screen is a good way to organize apps, but LG takes that idea one step further. With the default LG launcher you can create custom folders inside the app drawer. The app drawer is the area that shows all of your installed apps. Folders can really make it easier to find apps if you have a lot installed.

  1. On the home screen tap the app drawer icon (looks like a circle with 6 dots inside it)
  2. Tap the three-dot menu icon in the upper right corner
  3. Select View apps by and choose Custom
  4. Still in the app drawer, tap the three-dot menu icon again
  5. Select Edit/Uninstall apps
  6. Now you can drag apps on top of each other to create folders
  7. Tap the check mark in the upper right corner when you’re done
  8. Tap on the folder and tap “Folder” to rename and choose the color
  9. Done!

7. Set up Smart Notice

LG_G4_14

When you first boot up the G4 you’ll notice a big widget on the home screen with weather, date, and time. Under all that, on the same widget, is a area that shows text with a down arrow on the right side. This is LG’s “Smart Notice” widget. Smart Notice is LG’s attempt at a Google Now-like notification service that notifies you of things before you need it.

To use Smart Notice you just need to have the widget on your home screen. Tap on the settings icon in the top right corner of the widget to customize it. You’ll be able to choose if you want new card notifications, and a bunch of different options for people, time, places, and phone info. Some examples include birthdays, weather alerts, and more. It’s a nifty feature, but most people probably already have apps that do most of what it does.

8. Multi-task with floating app windows

LG-G4-QSlide

QSlide is a place where you can quickly launch apps in windows that float above whatever you’re currently doing. The QSlide apps can be re-sized, made transparent, and dragged around the screen. When you’re trying to perform multiple tasks at once the QSlide apps can be incredibly useful. There are a couple of ways to access these apps.

  1. Pull down on the notification shade and scroll through the toggles
  2. Tap on the QSlide toggle and the available apps will appear below
  3. To edit which apps appear here you can scroll to the right and tap Edit
  4. Select the app you wish to open and tap it
  5. Now you can drag it, resize by pulling the corner, and adjust transparency with the slider.

If you find yourself using these apps a lot you may want to use the second method.

  1. Go to Settings > DisplayHome touch buttons
  2. Select Button combination
  3. Drag and drop the QSlide button into the navigation bar

9. Use Dual Window mode

LG-G4-Dual-Window

If you want to take multi-tasking to the next level you can use Dual Window mode. You can run two apps at the same time on each half of the display. Dual Window mode doesn’t work with all apps, but new for the G4 is Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides. Other apps include YouTube, Chrome, Hangouts, Gmail, Messaging, and more. Here’s how to use it.

  1. Long-press the Back button
  2. Select the app to display on top
  3. Select the app to display on the bottom

Another way to do this is to press the Recents button and select Dual window. When Dual Window mode is active you can drag the divider between the apps to resize the windows. To close one of the apps you can simply drag the other app to full screen.

10. Open apps quickly with the volume buttons

LG_G4_16

One of the most iconic features of LG phones has become the infamous buttons on the back of the phone. No one else is putting buttons on the back of phones, and it really does make a lot of sense. LG takes advantage of these buttons to perform a few tasks besides just adjusting the volume. You can use them to quickly launch the camera or take notes when the display is off.

  1. Go to Settings > Shortcut key
  2. Switch the toggle to On

Double tapping Volume Up will launch the QMemo app for taking notes. Double tapping Volume Down will quickly launch the camera. On that same page in the settings you can choose to have the camera automatically take a photo as soon as it’s launched from the shortcut.

Now that you’ve got the basics nailed, check out 35+ more LG G4 Tips & Tricks

Bonus: Explore the LG G4 forums

If you’re already an owner of a LG G4, or you plan to buy one when they release, you can join the LG G4 forum over at Android Forums. You’ll find conversations about customization, troubleshooting problems, accessories, and much more. It’s the best place to go to ask questions and learn more about your new phone. Here are a few threads you may be interested in:

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Google’s location-aware search gives you context-driven information about where you are http://phandroid.com/2015/06/10/google-location-aware-search/ http://phandroid.com/2015/06/10/google-location-aware-search/#comments Wed, 10 Jun 2015 14:44:01 +0000 http://phandroid.com/?p=166532 Google Voice Search extension

Google has quietly released a cool new feature for Google Search that will make life a whole lot easier for many of you. It’s location-aware search, a feature that’ll allow you to ask the search engine about a place around you without having to dive into specifics.

It uses your location to figure out where you are so you can use generic terms like “what’s the phone number for this place”or “when does this restaurant open?” While we’ve always gotten by just fine typing specific terms into Google Search, this advancement in natural language search will make lives easier than they’ve already been.

There’s one thing to note: this is not Google Now on Tap (read up on that bit of awesomeness here), though it appears to use the same natural language engine Google will use for that service. This is strictly for Google Search, and it’s actually available to try right now for many folks in the US as long as you’re on the latest version of Google Search. Give it a go yourself the next time you’re curious about a place (even if it is just a convenient excuse to try this new feature out).

[via SELTwitter]

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Everything new in Android M [VIDEO] http://phandroid.com/2015/06/05/everything-new-in-android-m/ http://phandroid.com/2015/06/05/everything-new-in-android-m/#comments Fri, 05 Jun 2015 18:25:55 +0000 http://phandroid.com/?p=165983

Android M is here, and although Google made a point of indicating its primary purpose is to polish the sweeping changes introduced in Android Lollipop, this new version still has a long list of huge improvements and entirely new features. Here is a complete list of all the changes in Android M, highlighting the 18 most important. Let’s go!

1. Google Now on Tap

In previous versions of Android, Google Now lived in its own container, accessed by swiping up from the home button. Occasionally, when Google deems it important enough, you’ll find Google Now Cards in your notifications. Google Now on Tap takes the feature several steps further by become an all knowing, always ready concierge: hold down the home button from any screen in any app and Google Now on Tap will use the context of the situation to fetch what information it believes you seek.

For more, read our article on How to use Google Now on Tap.

2. Android Pay

Android Pay is a new service that builds upon the promises of Google Wallet and adds more features. It can store all of your physical credit cards and loyalty cards so you can simply scan your phone via NFC to pay in stores. Android Pay can also be used to purchase items online. If a website supports Android Pay you won’t have to enter any credit card or shipping information. It will all be saved and ready to go.

When paying for things in the physical world you need some extra security. Android Pay checks if your phone has been unlocked in the last five minutes when you touch it to a terminal. If your phone hasn’t been unlocked recently it will ask for some sort of password, or if your phone has a fingerprint scanner you can use that. More on fingerprints later.

For more, read our article on How to use Android Pay.

3. Auto backup for apps

android-m-app-backup

One feature that Google didn’t talk about might be one of our favorites. Android has always had back-up and restore functionality, but it wasn’t a complete solution. You’d still have to go into each app and sign in and set it up again. There are plenty of 3rd-party apps that fix this problem, but now stock Android will be able to do it.

In the Backup & reset settings there is a new description that explains how app data and settings will now be backed up to Google Drive. That means when you set up a new phone and restore your apps it will also restore how you had those apps set up. For example, if you had notifications disabled in the Twitter app on your old phone it will remember that on your new phone. This should make switching phones a breeze.

4. Vertical app drawer with search bar

android-m-app-drawer

One of the biggest visual changes can be found in the default Google Now Launcher. The app drawer is now a vertical-scrolling list with four recent apps and a search bar on top. In Lollipop the app drawer consisted of horizontal-scrolling pages. We’re not sure how we feel about this change. The icons in the new drawer are very large, so you can’t see many apps at a time. It seems to require more scrolling than the previous design.

5. Easy word selection and toolbar

android-m-text-selection

This might not be a big deal to some people, but selecting text in Android M is a lot easier. When dragging your finger the selection now grows by word and subtracts by letter. A new floating tool bar appears right above the selected text with options for cut, copy, and paste. We love this subtle improvement.

6. Simplified volume controls

android-m-volume

The volume controls in Android Lollipop were one of the most controversial new features. New modes made it hard to figure out which notifications would get through, and the removal of Silent Mode was a serious mistake. Thankfully, Google has realized the error of their ways and fixed the volume controls in Android M.

When you press the volume buttons you’ll see the familiar volume slider, but now it’s possible to go lower than vibrate. Taking the volume past vibrate now puts the phone into silent mode where only alarms can make noise. There’s also a little down arrow icon on the right side that allows you to adjust the media and alarm volumes. We’re very glad Google has backtracked on their crazy Lollipop volume controls. This makes much more sense.

Read more about the new volume controls in Android M.

7. ‘Do Not Disturb’ gets overhauled

android-m-do-not-disturb

In Android Lollipop there was Priority Mode and Do Not Disturb mode. It was confusing why these two things were separate when they had many of the same features. Google has done away with Priority Mode in Android M and focused solely on Do Not Disturb.

In the Quick Settings pull-down you’ll notice a toggle for the new Do Not Disturb mode. When you tap the toggle you’ll have options for “Total silence, Alarms only,” and “Priority only.” The first two are self-explanatory, but “Priority only” requires some set-up. You can allow only certain apps and people to break through priority mode, and a new setting called “Repeat callers” will allow someone who has called twice in 15 minutes to break through.

“Automatic rules” allow you to choose certain times for Do Not Disturb mode to be automatically enabled. For example, you could have it turn on every night when you go to bed, on the weekends, or during certain calendar events. It’s very handy.

8. Customize the toggles in the Quick Settings

android-m-quick-toggles

Most non-Nexus devices allow you to customize the toggles found in the Quick Settings. In Android M we can see that Google is tinkering with that very same idea. In the Developer options you can enable “System UI tuner.” This allows you to drag and drop different toggles into the Quick Settings area. It’s very buggy right now, and only includes a few toggles, but in the future it could be great.

For more on customizing the Quick Settings, watch our video here.

9. ‘Doze’ saves battery life

android-m-doze

Every feel like battery life on your Android device isn’t as good as it should be? That’s a problem many Android fans complain about, and Google is always trying to fix it. Their latest attempt is called “Doze.” In Android M apps will be put into a deep sleep when the phone isn’t in use. Doze activates when your phone is unplugged, stationary, and the screen is off. It will periodically wake up to sync data, but most things will be asleep. No more battery drain while your phone is on your desk all day.

For more about Doze, read our full article.

10. App Links removes the default app picker

android-m-app-links

Anyone that has used Android knows how often you’re asked about the app you’d like to use to perform a task. It’s nice that we have that power, but it’s also a little annoying. App links let you choose if you want an app to always open a certain type of link. For example, you can make Twitter links always open in the Twitter app without asking you every time. It just works.

11. Granular App Permissions

android-m-permissions

Why does the Twitter app need to know my location? Why does Facebook need to access my microphone? If these are questions you’ve asked you will love Android M. Instead of seeing a long list of permissions when you install an app you will be alerted when an app requests permission to do something. If Whatsapp wants to use your camera it will ask for your permission first.

That’s only half of the new features. It’s also possible to choose which permission you’d like to deny. The new App Info page in the Settings has a section for permissions. You can simply unselect which things you don’t want an app to have permission to do.

For more, read our full article on Android M App Permissions

12. Unified app info view

android-m-app-info

The App info pages in the Settings menu have been overhauled in Android M. You can now see information about storage, data, permissions, notifications, defaults, and battery on one page.

If you’d rather see app info in bulk you can go to Settings > Apps and tap the three-dot menu to select Advanced. From here you can see default apps, app links, permissions, and more from all the apps installed on your phone. It’s a great way to manage apps.

13. Direct Share makes sharing to people easy

direct share

It’s always been easy to share things on Android, but Android M will make it even easier. With Direct Share developers will be able to allow users to share deeper inside their apps. Currently, to share a photo with someone on Hangouts you would select the share icon, choose hangouts, wait for it to open, and then select the recipient. Direct Share will allow you to select the share icon and share directly to a Hangout contact.

14. Fingerprint Reader support

htc-max-fingerprint

Android will finally have an API for fingerprint readers. This will allow manufacturers to build fingerprint scanners into Android devices without hacking on their own solutions (except Google, who hacked a fingerprint scanner onto a Nexus 5). The fingerprint API will allow you to use a fingerprint reader to unlock your device, buy things in the Play Store, and verify your identity for Android Pay. The future is now.

15. Disable “Heads Up” Notifications

android-m-heads-up-peeking

A lot of people were not fans of the new “Heads Up” notifications in Android Lollipop. They pop up in front of whatever you’re doing and can be very distracting. Google hasn’t gotten rid of the Heads Up notifications, but in Android M you can disable them on an app-by-app basis. Go to the App Info page for any app and select “Notifications.” Toggle off “Allow peeking” and the app won’t pop up notifications anymore.

16. Lock screen font and voice shortcut

android-m-lock-screen

The lock screen has some subtle changes in Android M. The font for the clock is slightly different, but the bigger change is a new shortcut for voice search. In Android Lollipop there was a shortcut to the dialer in the bottom left corner, but now it’s a microphone icon that jumps right into a voice search.

17. Dark Theme

android-m-dark-theme

If Android M is any indication it looks like Google is considering adding themes to Android. Hidden deep in the Developer options in Android M is the option to change the theme from Light, Dark, or Automatic. Currently, it only adjusts how the Settings look, but we could see this controlling the entire OS in the future. See the dark theme in action here.

18. USB Type-C Charging

USB-Type-C-macro-image

The hot new standard for USB connectors in computers and mobile devices is USB Type-C, and Android M will finally bring support. USB Type-C connectors are reversible, which means you’ll no longer struggle with finding the correct orientation of a charging cable. USB Type-C can also transfer data and power in both directions, and Google promises improved charging times.

Everything Else

android-m-1

Android M has a lot of other little changes and improvements. In total there are over 50 new things in Android M. The features mentioned above are the ones you’ll notices the most, but we’ve listed everything else below.

  • Power improvements in WiFi scanning
  • Chrome custom tabs
  • Work contacts in personal contexts
  • Hotspot 2.0 R1
  • VPN apps in settings
  • Flex storage
  • Duplex printing
  • Seamless certificate installation for enterprise
  • Undo/redo keyboard shortcuts
  • Data usage API for work profiles
  • Material Design support library
  • Bluetooth SAP
  • Voice interaction service
  • Battery historian v2BT 4.2
  • Improved bluetooth low energy scanning
  • Beta setup wizard
  • Improved diagnostics
  • IT admin acceptance of OTAs
  • UI toolkit
  • Contextual assist framework
  • Enterprise factory reset protection
  • Corporate owned single use device support
  • Improved trusted face reliability
  • Improved text layout
  • Unified Google new runtime settings and permissions
  • Work status notification
  • MIDI support 5GHz
  • Portable Wi-Fi hot-spot Bluetooth connectivity for device provisioning
  • Seven additional languages
  • Data binding support library
  • IMAP sign-in
  • Delegated certificate installation
  • Flashlight/Torch API
  • Simplified Share Menu
  • Developer Custom Landing Page

For more news and information about Android M, click the delicious M-themed desserts below! What do you think Android M will be called at launch?

Android M Desserts

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Huawei P8 Lite: First impressions, opinions, and hands-on [VIDEO] http://phandroid.com/2015/06/03/huawei-p8-lite-hands-on/ http://phandroid.com/2015/06/03/huawei-p8-lite-hands-on/#comments Wed, 03 Jun 2015 14:05:04 +0000 http://phandroid.com/?p=166134

Huawei may not yet carry the household name of Samsung or HTC, but in the past couple years the Chinese smartphone manufacturer has made quite the impression. They’ve launched stellar flagship phones that go toe-to-toe with the industry’s elite alongside affordable alternatives that compete with the best of them in value. Continuing their quest to delight consumers on a global scale the company has just announced the immediate US availability of the Huawei P8 Lite for the unbelievably low price of $249- but is it worth it?

huawei-p8-lite-featured-phandroid

We’ve had the device roughly 24 hours- long enough to formulate some key opinions but not with the confidence you’d expect in a full review. In anticipation of our full Huawei P8 Lite Review to be published next week, here are the important takeaways before making a purchase decision.

Geeks need not apply

This is not a phone that the early adopting tech elite should consider and one glaring fact will float that realization to the surface: the P8 Lite launches with Android 4.4 KitKat. The value-seeking consumer may care less about wielding the latest and greatest version of Android, but with Android 5.0 Lollipop comfortably in the wild and Android M officially announced, launching with KitKat is a serious shot in the foot.

huawei-p8-lite-android-kitkat-phandroid

That’s not to say KitKat ruins the user experience- it most certainly does not. However, consumers will be much more likely to hear recommendations for the Motorola Moto G and Motorola Moto E – two budget Android phones running stock Lollipop – simply because (you guessed it): the P8 Lite runs on an older version of Android and rocks a custom skin. That’s not to say an OTA couldn’t immediately put this unfortunate circumstance to rest.

If you’re able to overlook this detail, what you’ll find inside the device is rather appealing at the $250 price point.

Dual-Sim Slots: ditch the “Work Phone”

Although popular in foreign countries, American carriers never jumped on the dual-SIM bandwagon. That means some portion of US workers continue carrying two smartphones everywhere they go: one for personal use and one for work. The Huawei P8 Lite lets you merge those redundancies into one phone thanks to its dual-SIM slots.

huawei-p8-lite-dual-sim-phandroid

Not only can you easily toggle between the two SIM cards in the phone’s settings, allowing you to manage your outgoing calls and corresponding data plans, but you can also configure different ringtones and options on a per SIM basis.

The two SIM strategy makes the P8 Lite an incredibly compelling solution for business folks even despite the thin layer of dust on the OS. The feature is original enough that we thought perhaps it could be blamed on the lack of an Android Lollipop upgrade, but we learned this is not the case: the international version of this device is currently shipping with Lollipop. Makes you wonder what went wrong here, doesn’t it?

Pro-tip: if you’re not using both SIM slots, one of them can double as a MicroSD card slot.

Surprisingly Solid Specs

It’s amazing how far $250 can get you these days. The Huawei P8 Lite is undeniably a budget Android device, but it’s packing specs that are worthy of attention:

  • 5-inch screen
  • Gorilla Glass 3
  • 1.5 GHz octa-core processor (MSM8939)
  • 7.6mm thin
  • 131 grams light
  • 13MP camera with LED Flash
  • 5MP front-facing camera
  • 2GB RAM
  • 2200 mAh battery

The P8 accomplishes this by skimping on specs in places the value user will notice little difference.  The display, for example, performs perfectly well but boasts only 1280×720 resolution. There is only 16GB of onboard memory, 6GB of which is taken up by the operating system, leaving you with 10GB to work with (but a MicroSD slot to compensate). The Snapdragon 615 chip is a work horse but not of the highest pedigree. The front facing camera is fixed focus. And the list goes on…

The result is a careful balance between modestly powerful specs where they’re deemed most important and run-of-the-mill solutions where they often go underappreciated. When paired with the P8’s elegant design, it’s hard to tell you’re not looking at a premium device.

Design: the stylish chameleon

huawei-p8-lite-metallic-back-phandroid

The P8 Lite won’t wow you with ground-breaking hardware engineering like the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge. It doesn’t grab your eye by accentuating a key feature like the HTC One M9. And rightfully so: Huawei aimed for sophisticated and elegant and they humbly hit the nail on the head.

The P8 Lite design is minimalist with a slim profile, small bezels, and tasteful branding. A closer look at the chrome ring around the device’s frame reveals it is obviously plastic, but it adds a much needed layer of personality. The most striking design element is the phone’s rear which achieves an attractive metallic look by way of a hand-crafted satin coating. This is true save for the top half-inch of the rear which opts for a plastic panel to overlay the camera components.

Let’s be honest: the Huawei P8 Lite isn’t going to win any design awards for innovation, but that was never the point. What it will win is a glance at the bar from an unknowing onlooker wondering what flagship phone you’re using. Little do they know it’s not a flagship phone at all… it’s the Huawei P8 Lite in a flagship phone costume.

Emotion UI makes me sad

The first thing I would do if I bought the Huawei P8 Lite? Install Nova Launcher.

Plenty of Android OEMs attempt to differentiate their product by offering devices with their own custom software skin that rests atop Google’s stock Android experience. In some cases the results are bareable, but in the case of Huawei’s Emotion UI (EMUI 3.0), I just can’t even. If it wasn’t enough that custom UI’s are often to blame for delayed Android software updates, Huawei goes the extra mile to irritate you by feeding you a user experience that borrows an awful lot from Apple.

huawei-p8-lite-iphone-spotlight

Android’s app drawer is gone. System fonts and layouts closely resemble the iPhone. App icons are reshaped on curved squares to best resemble you-know-what. If you swipe down on any home screen you even get Huawei’s version of the iOS Spotlight search.

This might be okay for the iPhone enthusiast who can’t afford Apple’s steep price so they settle for second or third fiddle with the P8 Lite, but unfortunately for Huawei, this type of consumer would be better off buying a refurbished iPhone of yesteryear. In today’s market, an Android phone imitating the iPhone is not how you win new customers, and that’s exactly what Huawei’s EMUI intends to accomplish.

I’m not suggesting Huawei should ditch Emotion UI completely. I’d personally prefer stock Android and imagine there would be some huge advantages to eliminating EMUI on budget devices, but if Huawei insists on differentiating their software stack- so be it. I just hope they move towards more subtle improvements that enhance the Android experience rather than imitating that of Apple.

This is a harsh but necessary criticism of Emotion UI, but it should be reiterated that installing a homescreen replacement such as Nova Launcher may instantly remove the need for further complaining.

Camera: the jury is out

huawei-p8-lite-spotlight

The weather has been rainy and cloudy since I’ve had the device so I’m going to withhold an opinion on the camera until I’m able to take more samples in different conditions and look more closely at the results. However, feel free to make judgements of your own based on the select few camera samples posted below.

IMG_20090105_024753 IMG_20090105_024606 IMG_20090105_024235 IMG_20090105_024153 IMG_20090105_025356 IMG_20090105_024112 IMG_20090105_024021 IMG_20090105_024005

Unlock 2.0

Huawei executives have indicated the P8 Lite launch is the start of a new strategy that is rooted in E-Commerce. Offering unlocked devices online allows the company to provide more aggressive pricing, but until now, many customers have been wary of buying unlocked. According to Huawei research, customers don’t buy unlocked phones for the following reasons:

  • 36% poor phone quality
  • 28% no after sales service
  • 24% price of unlocking
  • 23% contract
  • 16% phone selection
  • 10% ease of and trust in sales channels

Many of these are worthy critiques of the industry as a whole. T-Mobile has recently done an excellent job breaking down the confusing barriers of devices and contracts with their Uncarrier campaign, and now Huawei is offering some assistance of their own. To help support their new E-Commerce strategy, Huawei is extending the following offers and services directly to its customers:

  • 2-year warranty
  • Localized repair with free shipping
  • US based call center support
  • Additional support options including live online chat

Friendly reminder: we think the best place for Android support is our very own community at AndroidForums.com.

An interesting note about Android smartphone shoppers seeking a bargain is that on Day 1 it may not feel like a bargain at all. If a customer bought an $800 Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge they could spread it over the course of their contract, meaning that the first day they just pay the first installment of that $800. Meanwhile, when you buy an unlocked device, you’ve usually got to part with the full bill, in this case $250.

Huawei is trying to lighten the load by partnering with financial accompany Affirm, giving qualified customers the option of 3-month, 6-month, and 12-month payment plans. Definitely a nice touch considering the target market they’ll reach with the P8 Lite.

I hope Huawei’s E-Commerce strategy is successful and if executed well, I know their customers will appreciate the added support. It’s likely easier said than done as Google found out with their first E-Commerce smartphone endeavors. It should also be noted that this doesn’t mean Huawei is abandoning their retail foothold. The company will continue working closely with carriers and retailers to serve those existing channels.

Is the Huawei P8 Lite worth buying?

It’s difficult to argue with a $250 Android smartphone with these specs- the P8 Lite is a pretty darn good deal. You’ll find worthy alternatives from Motorola that are cheaper and run stock Android 5.X Lollipop (vs Android 4.4 KitKat on the P8 Lite) but Huawei’s offering is tops in almost every other statistical category.

It comes down to this: would you rather have an affordable Android phone with a more recent version of Android or better specs? If you can’t decide, stay tuned for our full review early next week.

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