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Wednesday, October 28, 2020

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OnePlus Nord review: Cutting the right corners

OnePlus built a reputation on its stellar, wallet-friendly phones. From the introduction of the OnePlus One all those years ago, the company has been on a steady march. Every year its phones get a little better… and a little more expensive. We’ve yet to see the company pause its pricing increases and its devices now routinely cost in the same neighborhood as flagships from Apple, Samsung, and Google.Luckily, the OnePlus Nord is here to save us from those nasty $1,000 prices with a smart design, great battery life, and the best software on any Android device. And the best part? The Nord is only $499, a solid $250 lower than its newest flagship, the 8T, which costs $749.DesignI’ve always been a bit struck by OnePlus’ designs and this time is no different. The OnePlus Nord is one of the better-looking phones available today with an excellent colorway and smooth glass back that looks absolutely fantastic when the sun hits it right.The rear of the device is home to a large camera sensor in the top left corner, something that’s becoming an all too familiar trend in 2020.The bottom of the device houses the disappointingly Mono speaker, USB C port, and SIM card tray. OnePlus decided not to follow Google’s lead and continues to eschew the 3.5mm headphone jack. It’s disappointing, but not surprising, as OnePlus is pushing its OnePlus Buds Z, fully wireless earbuds priced at just $50.The display is nothing short of brilliant. Max brightness is fantastic and makes it easy to see on those sunny days and colors pop to make your images come alive.I’m very happy to report that this 6.4-inch display is flat, with no curvature at all. In my old age, I’ve really become a hater of curved displays due to how much harder they make devices to use with almost no benefit other than “it looks cool”.If I did have one complaint about the display, it’s the front-facing camera. It’s actually two cameras, one wide and one ultra-wide angle lens, in the top left corner of the device. I’m not a fan of hole punch cameras but if they’re inoffensive like on the Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra, I can get over it.The OnePlus Nord, on the other hand, has a pretty ugly cutout and it takes up so much space that you can only get four notification icons at a time in the notification tray. This led to me opening up the notification tray a lot more than I normally would just to see what was up there. It doesn’t look good and it’s annoying. Bring back the pop-up camera, OnePlus!CameraSpeaking of cameras, this is easily where the OnePlus Nord is the weakest. There are a total of six cameras – four on the rear and two on the front. The front cameras consist of a 32MP f/2.5 wide-angle lens and an 8 MP f/2.5 ultra-wide-angle lens.I love the addition of the ultra-wide-angle lens here and I think it makes for some great shots with your friends or family. Selfies with the main lens were fine for social media or sending off to friends.The problem with the camera setup really is with the rear lenses. We have a quad camera configuration with a 48-MP sensor (the same as on the OnePlus 8), an 8-MP ultra-wide, 5-MP depth sensor, and 2-MP macro.Let’s get the last two out of the way first. The macro lens is garbage and you should avoid using it. This is the definition of a stat-sheet stuffer and is here for no other reason than for OnePlus to say “we have a quad camera phone”. The depth sensor seems to be equally useless as covering up the lens has no noticeable effect on pictures.The wide-angle lens is a lot of fun to use. Sure, pictures come out soft but you get that with pretty much any wide-angle lens these days. Take pictures of cool buildings and throw them up on Instagram like everyone and you’ll be just fine. If you’re looking to use this for serious photography work and you’ll probably end up rather disappointed.And speaking of being disappointed, use the main 48-MP sensor in anything but perfect lighting and you’re going to have a bad time. During the day, the camera takes nice pictures with good color reproduction and a solid focus. But, in anything less than that, pictures become very muddled with soft edges everywhere, detail lost in shadows, and a ton of noise.There were always going to be corners cut to get the device this cheap and this was it. There are other options on the market that will get you better pictures for a similar price and if that’s important to you, look elsewhere. But, if you’re like me who uses their camera a couple of times a month to snap a picture of the kid to send to the grandparents, it will perform admirably.SoftwareOut of the box, the OnePlus Nord runs Android 10 with Oxygen OS on top. Oxygen OS remains one of the closest to stock Android skins out there and, in my opinion, it’s the best version of Android available right now.There are no heavy brushes taken to the OS here. Everything looks pretty much the way you’d expect and settings and apps are laid out in logical order. I love the small additions like the Shelf and theme customization engine built directly into the OS. There’s just enough here to satisfyPossibly the best thing about Oxygen OS is what it doesn’t come with: bloatware. We recently reviewed the LG Velvet via AT&T and I made a joke about it having 37 million pieces of bloatware on there.There were a handful of apps on the Nord that I didn’t install but they were all able to be deleted in a few seconds. This is exactly how it should be and OnePlus should be applauded for being consumer-friendly here.I’m sure the company is passing up a lot of money by not signing agreements that would see them pre-install apps that you could only disable, but not delete.OnePlus has a fantastic track record of updating its devices quickly and for long periods of time. We don’t know yet how they’ll support the Nord as it’s a mid-range phone, but I’d imagine that it’ll get close to the same treatment as OnePlus flagship phones. I’d expect to see years of updates, both major Android upgrades and monthly security updates.Performance and batteryFor the first time in its history, OnePlus isn’t using the most powerful processor available for one of its devices. Instead of the Snapdragon 865 or 865+, the Nord features a Qualcomm Snapdragon 765G, a mid-range chip that supports 5G and without the massive price tag of a flagship device.I was a bit worried about performance going into this review. OnePlus has always been the “flagship killer” in my mind despite the company dropping the branding years ago. How could this phone be a flagship killer without a flagship processor?Well, the mad men, they did it. The Snapdragon 765G does a great job powering the Nord and you’d never really know you were using a midrange chip if you weren’t looking for it. Sure, there are some dropped frames or an app may take a little bit longer to open but I’m really happy with how it’s performing, especially when you take into account its price tag.Helping matters is 6, 8 12 GB of RAM, paired with 64, 128, or 256 GB of storage. The Nord utilizes UFS 2.1, an extremely fast storage standard, that helps the divide store and recall information than other devices. While some were disappointed that the Nord didn’t come with the newer UFS 3.0 standard, I don’t think you’d see much of a difference if it had and little things like that matter to the bottom line.Battery was even better. Most days saw anywhere between 5.5 to seven hours of screen on time with some days reach more towards nine hours of screen on time. This is fantastic battery life by any metric and will stand up to almost every Android device on the market today.If you do get low on power, the Nord supports Warp 30, one of the newest and fastest charging standards from OnePlus. The company states that the Nord can charge up to 70% of its battery in half an hour. We saw speeds very close to that, with the phone fully charging from dead in about 50 minutes.Battery life is so good and charging is so fast that you can easily go to bed with the device next to you, wake up and charge while you’re getting ready for work and be just fine all day. In fact, I did exactly that for a week and had to top off only once, a day where I had to use my phone an inordinate amount during my day job.The only thing that could’ve made this even better was the addition of wireless charging. I do understand that they have to watch the bottom line, but wireless charging coils are cheap. When consumers are deciding how to spend their hard earned money, one or two premium features like wireless charging can be the difference between them picking up your phone and picking up another.ConclusionThe OnePlus Nord is almost a great phone. And there’s no qualifier here about the price, it’s just damn near a great phone. You can nitpick things like the plastic frame of the phone, lack of expandable storage, or the hole-punch camera, but the only true downside in my opinion is the camera array. OnePlus seriously needs to step up its game if it wants to play with the big boys like Google, Apple, and Samsung.I would love to see a few premium features added to further versions of the Nord to really crush the competition in the mid-range market. Every time I put my SIM card in the Nord, I miss wireless charging. Yeah, I know it has excellent battery life and super fast WARP 30 charging, but wireless charging is just one of those things I can’t get away from.Other devices like the LG Velvet both feature wireless charging and are pretty close to the same price. Plus, the Velvet lets you attach a secondary display, add a micro SD card, or experience a far superior camera layout and app. I believe that adding one or two features really sits the Nord above all the other devices, but could come at the cost of some sales of OnePlus’ more premium devices.And that’s really the rub. OnePlus doesn’t want to eat into the sales of the 8, 8 Pro, or 8T so the Nord is missing a few features we’d really appreciate here. In a vacuum, we can say we want these features, but we’ll probably never see them because OnePlus sells devices in the real world, not a vacuum.Can we recommend that OnePlus Nord? Absolutely. It’s a wallet-friendly 5G device that looks great and is damn fast in nearly every aspect.

Best Android phones at Republic Wireless

There are plenty of wireless service providers to choose from, at least here in the United States. In fact, it may seem as if there are too many options to consider. But when it comes down to it, many of them rely on the networks offered by Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile.Republic Wireless, a Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO), is one such carrier. Indeed, it has its own rate plans and features, but it licenses coverage from T-Mobile.When it comes to buying a phone for use on Republic Wireless there are a few options to consider. For starters, you can bring your current T-Mobile device to the carrier. Additionally, you can buy an unlocked phone for use on Republic Wireless.Customers can also purchase a phone directly from Republic Wireless. While there’s a fairly robust handset selection to peruse, a few key models rise to the top.What follows are some of the best Android phones available at Republic Wireless today. These aren’t the most powerful, but rather the best for particular needs.Google Pixel 4aAll-around ChampOne of the newest phones at the carrier, this is an excellent option for pretty much any user. It’s powerful enough for a large majority of the population but priced about half of what other brands charge.Powered by the latest in Android, you’ll have a tough time finding a better camera experience. Small in stature, there’s a decent screen, generous battery, and solid array of hardware hiding inside.Shop Google Pixel 4a at Republic WirelessSamsung Galaxy Note 20Big and BeautifulThis powerhouse sits near the top of the food chain and packs all of the cutting-edge features one could want. If you’re on the hunt for latest and greatest at this carrier, you’ve found it.Here, you get a large 6.7-inch display, a ton of storage, and hardware that will last you multiple years. Come for the multi-function capabilities of the S Pen, stay for the incredible camera that captures 8K video.Shop Samsung Galaxy Note 20 at Republic WirelessMotorola Moto G StylusAffordable TaskmasterIf you’re looking for a more budget-friendly approach to a phone with a digital stylus, this Motorola is your ticket. Priced a fraction of the Samsung counterpart, it’s an incredible mid-range phone with a quad-camera experience.Powered by a largely untouched Android 10, it offers up a 6.4-inch screen, a bunch of storage (128GB), and a strong battery. Throw in a headphone jack, USB Type-C charging port, and dual speakers and we’ve got an affordable winner that suits many users.Shop Motorola Moto G Stylus at Republic WirelessMotorola Moto EFirst-time UsersIf you’re starting out with a smartphone for the first time, you have no idea as to what you truly need. Why drop hundreds of dollars on something only to find out it’s more than you want or use?For your money you get a generous 6.2-inch screen, a 13-megapixel dual-camera setup, headphone jack, and decent battery. It runs a very current and largely stock Android software experience and looks really cool in Dark Sea blue.Shop Motorola Moto E at Republic Wireless

This 22-course online training bundle will turn you into a top-notch tech pro

The pandemic has thrown everything into a blender, especially in the area of work and careers. Some are working from home, others have different duties, and others are simply looking for work.As more companies dive deeper into cloud-based services, streamlined communications, and other tech-driven systems, a well-versed and cross-trained IT expert becomes increasingly more valuable. Put a few certifications under your belt and you’re attractive to prospective employers and management.There’s no easier better way or time to get started on an IT career path or become a tech pro. And thanks to online training bundles like the 2021 All-in-One AWS, Cisco and CompTIA Super Certification Bundle, it doesn’t get any cheaper. It’s just $99 right now, more than 90 percent off from the AG Deals Store.The sheer volume of content in this 22-course, 420+ hour kit is pretty mind-blowing stuff. We’re talking exhaustive learning on Amazon Web Services (AWS), Cisco, cloud computing, Google Cloud, and more.The best part about this bundle isn’t the nearly 1,900 lessons, but that’s pretty damn cool, too. No, it’s that you can learn at your own pace on both desktop and mobile. And when you’re done with a course, you get a certificate of completion. Tuck that into your resume or package when negotiating a pay raise.Get Started Today!This intensive and exhaustive IT training is valued at well over $4,400, but as part of this super bundle, it’s all yours for just $99 while the offer lasts. Become a tech pro at your leisure.

Looking to smarten up your home? Consider Treatlife’s options

Are you in the beginning stages of planning or building out a smart home? Is your house looking to add a few smart bulbs or outlets? Fortunately, there are a number of great brands to consider.While many people may think of GE or Philips as being among the only companies in the smart light space there are numerous other, less expensive options. Treatlife, for example, is one brand that’s slowly building out a portfolio of connected devices, lights, switches, and more.Treatlife expanded its product line in July, adding the following products:Smart Ceiling Fan Control and Light Dimmer Switch ($44.99): Our combined fan and light dimmer switch turns any ceiling fan into a smart fan and puts control directly on the wall so that you never have to fuss with pull chains again.3-Way Wi-Fi Smart Light Switch ($19.99): Add smart light functionality for 3-way and single pole applications.Wi-Fi Smart Dimmer Switch ($21.99): Add smart dimming functionality for single pole applications.Wi-Fi Smart Light Switch ($17.99): Add smart light functionality for single pole applications.Plug in Dimmer ($37.99): All the programmable features of Treatlife products including scheduling and dimming in a plug. Works indoors and outdoors and is great for floor lamps, outdoor market lighting, Christmas lights and more.Smart Wi-Fi LED Bulbs with 16M Colors ($39.99 for 4 bulbs): Express yourself with dramatic lighting effects in up to 16 million dimmable colors at a cost that’s more than 75% less than the same product from a leading competitor. No hubs required.Among those that were sent to us, and which we feel comfortable recommending, are the following:3-Way Wi-Fi Smart Light Switch60W LED Dimmable White and Color Bulb60W LED Dimmable White BulbWe were provided a few editorial samples of Treatlife products and found them to be of solid build quality and easy to set up. Moreover, they were easy to integrate with Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa.If you’re looking to replace your lights in an overhead manner, such as a ceiling fan, you may want to look into the dimmable white bulb. Lamps and sconces, on the other hand, look great when adding a hint of color. And with 16 million colors to choose from, the color bulb is excellent.A quick look around shows that the Treatlife options are a fraction of what it might cost for any other brand. The dimmer switch, for example, is just $20 when Leviton’s alternative is about $45.Similarly, a 4-pack of Treatlife color bulbs runs $30.59 while a 2-pack of C by GE costs $48.99. That breaks down to $7.65 per bulb versus $24.50 each.Learn more about the Treatlife brand and its products by visiting its website. It also has a landing page on Amazon, too.

Best Android phones at Total Wireless

There are plenty of wireless service providers to choose from, at least here in the United States. In fact, it may seem as if there are too many options to consider. But when it comes down to it, many of them rely on the networks offered by Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile.Total Wireless, a Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO), is one such carrier. Indeed, it has its own rate plans and features, but it licenses coverage from Verizon.When it comes to buying a phone for use on Total Wireless there are a few options to consider. For starters, you can bring your current Verizon device to the carrier. Additionally, you can buy an unlocked CDMA phone for use on Total.Customers can also purchase a phone directly from Total Wireless. While there’s a fairly decent and well-rounded handset selection, a few key models rise to the top.What follows are some of the best Android phones available at Total Wireless today. These aren’t the most powerful, but rather the best for particular needs.Samsung Galaxy Note 20 UltraThe Best AvailableIf you’re looking for the biggest and most powerful all-around device from Total Wireless, this is it. With a screen size (6.9-inches) that rivals early tablets, it packs an upgraded S Pen stylus and cutting-edge hardware. Oh, and then there’s a first-of-its-kind 108-megapixel camera, too.Powered by Android 10 with Samsung’s custom UI, the handset has generous battery, tons of (expandable) storage, and support for Verizon’s Ultra Wideband 5G network. Choose from Cosmic Black and Cosmic Gray color options, both of which are stunning.Shop the Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra at Total WirelessMotorola Moto G7 Optimo MaxxWell-rounded and AffordableThis is a great phone for first-time buyers and those who don’t need all that much from their handset. It’s a solid mix of entry-level hardware with a clean and user-friendly version of Android.The Motorola phone offers up a 6.2-inch HD+ display, 12-megapixel rear camera, and a 5,000mAh battery. For those who don’t know what that means, it’s enough juice to get many users through two days of usage.Shop the Motorola Moto G7 Optimo Maxx at Total WirelessSamsung Galaxy A50An Affordable Galactic StarOne of the best things about today’s breed of smartphones is that you can often purchase a generation or two later and still end up with more than you need. Or, you can go with the Galaxy A series which is a way to get many of the better features found in more prominent models.For about one third of today’s flagship phone you can get something that will last a couple of years. We’re talking plenty of hardware, a beauty of a screen, and one of the better cameras around. Here you’ll get a sizable (6.4-inch) screen, plenty of memory and storage, and a triple-camera setup on the back.Shop the Samsung Galaxy A50 at Total WirelessLG Stylo 5Multi-task on a BudgetBig, practical, and the only one with a stylus, the LG Stylo 5 provides users with a large screen and an extra bit of functionality. The 6.2-inch display offers up plenty of high-definition space for scribbling notes, marking up documents, and more.Running Android 9, the phone is powered by an octa-core processor with 3GB RAM. Storage comes in at 32GB with a 3500mAh battery that should give users more than a day’s worth of usage. Wrapping things up, the LG handset has a dual camera configuration on the rear.Shop the LG Stylo 5 at Total Wireless

HMD Global announces the Nokia 2 V Tella for Verizon

Nokia is back in the US and making a big push over the last few years. Well, its new partner HMD Global has a revealed a new device coming to Verizon later this month. Say hello to the Nokia 2 V Tella.The name may be a mouthful, but this device is looking to give folks a solid smartphone with no frills and a great price. The Nokia 2 V Tella builds on the Nokia 2 V from last year to offer users “stock Android” on the cheap on Big Red’s network.With the Nokia 2 V Tella, you get a 5.45-inch HD+ display paired with a 3000mAh battery pack inside. Around the back is a dual-camera module with an 8-megapixel main shooter and a 2-megapixel depth sensor.Performance should be good but not great with the included internals of a MediaTek Helio A22 processor and 2GB of RAM. You also only get 16GB of internal storage but will have expansion with the microSD slot.However, even with meager specs, day-to-day use should be decent with Android 10 running with little to no tweaks. Nokia tends to not mess with the way Google intended to present Android to the masses. One thing the company does include is a handy dedicated button on the side of the phone to launch Google Assistant.The Nokia 2 V Tella will be available on the Verizon network and stores later this month for $89. It will also be sold in Walmart retail outlets and the online storefront.

Soundcore refreshes the Q series headphones with the new Life Q30

Soundcore may not be the household name of Beats or Sony…yet. However, the audio brand from Anker has been making quality devices for a few years now. The company is adding to that stable of music headphones with the new Life Q30 Bluetooth headphones.While truly wireless earbuds are all the rage these days the Life Q lineup of “traditional” over-ear headphones could be considered the top tier that Anker has to offer. The new Soundcore LIfe Q30 builds on the great Q20 from last year with Active Noise Cancellation and a compelling spec sheet.ANC includedThe active noise cancellation uses multiple microphones to help filter up to 95% of outside noise while only giving you the audio playback in the headphones. There’s also a transparency mode that adjusts the filter process to allow you more input from the outside environment.Custom tuningWhen you do want to rock out to nothing but tunes, you’ll be hit with 40mm silk drivers for a robust sound. Custom tuning is onboard as well. This offers different EQ and sound profiles to be set from the Soundcore mobile app on both iOS and Android.All-day batteryPair all that with a huge power capacity, and the Life Q30 is a great addition to the Soundcore portfolio. Anker has the battery life rated at up to 40 hours of total playback per charge while using ANC. Turn off noise cancellation and it estimates an additional 20 hours. Yes, 60 hours total.Of course, we’ll need to confirm this in real-world usage, but the Life Q20 has us comfortable that these projections are pretty close to actual results.Available soonAnker doesn’t have a set date of availability past “early November” in the US. It does have a concrete price tag of $79.99 from the Soundcore Amazon storefront.

Nearly 700 lessons on web development are yours for just 35

It has never been easier to teach yourself how to become a developer. Whether it’s mobile apps or something for the web, we’re in an age where having access to tools and teaching is only a mouse-click away.We’ve got a collection of training designed specifically with the would-be web developer in mind. Called the Web Development Master Class Certification Bundle, it gives you all of the resources and education you need to gain an advantage in an increasingly competitive market. We’re talking more than 35 hours of instruction spanning 697 lessons.Get started on a new career or take your current one to another level with the six-course bundle from AndroidGuys Deals.FeaturesWeb Development Master Class: Complete Certification Course: Set Up Virtual Cloud Severs & Develop Database-Driven Websites Using the Latest Web TechnologiesInternet & Web Development Fundamentals Certification Course: Learn How the Internet Works & Set Up a Testing and Production Web ServerHTML, CSS, & JavaScript Certification Course for Beginners: A Comprehensive Guide for Beginners Interested in Learning HTML, CSS, & JavaScript to Build Interactive Web PagesBootstrap & jQuery: Certification Course for Beginners: Create Fully Animated, Interactive, Mobile Responsive Web Pages Using Bootstrap & jQuery LibraryPHP & MySQL: Certification Course for Beginners: Learn to Build Database-Driven Web Applications Using PHP & MySQLCreate a Members Only Blog using PHP, MySQL, & AJAX: Create a Database Driven Blog with Authentication, Validated Contact Forms, & Session Variables Using PHP, MYSQL, and AJAXWhere to BuyThe Web Development Master Class Certification Bundle you can purchase it for only $35. Hurry, this won’t last forever!Save even more!In addition to the savings above, when you buy through AndroidGuys Deals, for every $25 spent, you get $1 credit added to your account. What’s more, should you refer the deal via social media or an email that results in a purchase, you’ll earn $10 credit in your account.Shop AndroidGuys!If this is your first time buying, then you are also eligible for a further 10% discount when you subscribe for email updates.How about a freebie?Not looking to spend any money today? That’s alright, we understand. Why not visit the AndroidGuys section for freebies and take something anyhow? Go ahead, grab two!

US Mobile Buyer’s Guide (October 2020)

Most consumers are familiar with the big-name wireless carriers like Verizon and AT&T, but not nearly as many are as well-versed when it comes Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNOs) like Consumer Cellular or FreedomPop.These MNVO brand operators license the towers and coverage from the tier-one providers and offer their own phones, rate plans, and customer service.Let’s take a look at one in particular: US MobileAboutUS Mobile is a small MVNO that utilizes T-Mobile’s 4G LTE network and Verizon’s 4G LTE network and is known for letting customers add talk, text and data on the fly, at any time.The carrier is not shy about its usage of T-Mobile, but it does appear to hide its Verizon component a bit. We’re not sure why.What are US Mobile rate plans like?US Mobile touts is affordable packages for subscribers who need wireless coverage but want some flexibility in the talk, text and time used each month.Customers can pick and choose plans, customizing as they see fit, or choose from a selection of “Unlimited” options. Don’t want or need data? That’s fine.The Unlimited Plans are as follows:$15/mo – Unlimited talk, text, and 2.5GB data$30/mo – Unlimited talk, text, and 10GB dataThe custom plans come with hotspot capabilities and 250MB of 4G LTE international roaming.A recent change to the plans sees US Mobile offering a $40 option which includes unlimited talk, text, and data. To be clear, it’s 50GB of high speed data with heavier users potentially seeing reduced speeds after hitting the threshold. Data speeds are considered “Fast” which means up to 5Mbps for video streaming.For $5 more per month subscribers can get 10GB of mobile hotspot capabilities. For $10 more per month customers can increase data speeds to “Ludicrous” up to 250Mbps, plus the hotspot feature.Family PlansUS Mobile customers can create multi-line accounts, each of which is basically the $40 plan. Things get cheaper per line as you add them to the mix.US Mobile phone selectionUS Mobile has a small selection of phones to choose from, many of which are a few years old. Moreover, they appear to be fairly expensive, too. We definitely recommend using your existing T-Mobile or Verizon phone if possible.Where can I buy an unlocked phone?Bring your own deviceUS Mobile tends to work better for people who already have a phone that they’d like to use. Whether it’s a T-Mobile or Verizon handset, or something else, you’ll probably have luck using it with US Mobile. According to the carrier, 99% of devices will work with its service.What else should I know about US Mobile?US Mobile operates entirely online and does not have any physical retail locations in the US.For every friend you refer to US Mobile, the carrier will give you both up to $10. They save up to $10 on their first plan and you get up to $10 off your next bill.You can easily add talk, text, and/or data Top Ups to your current plan to always stay connected. They roll over to next month when you use AutoPay, automatic bill payment.A US Mobile starter SIM kit can be purchased for $3.99, letting subscribers keep their existing phone number.

LG Velvet review: Stunning mid-ranger that can be anything you want

LG’s reputation in the Android world isn’t exactly the best right now. The South Korean company hasn’t had the easiest time differentiating its phones or telling people why they should buy them.Sure, it plasters advertisements everywhere, including your TV, the internet, radio, and billboard, but do you know why you should buy one of its phones after listening to them? Feels like every other phone out there, right? Based on a new strategy introduced earlier this year, LG agrees.The company went back to the drawing board and came up with something new. While the V series is still kicking around after the death of the G series, the LG Velvet is something completely different. Combining premium looks and the best software suite we’ve seen from LG, this mid-range 5G device might just turn some heads… If LG can get anyone to listen.BuildTaking the LG Velvet out of the box is an experience. The device is absolutely beautiful with a mirror-finish back, a display which has bezels slimmer than you’d imagine from press photos, and a solid feel in the hand.LG also decided to stretch the phone out, so now the Velvet is very tall, but much easier to handle because of how thin it is for a device with a 6.8-inch display. It’s the best of both worlds.One area that I wish LG would take a look at is their display. While the quality of the display is absolutely fantastic, I believe the era of curved displays needs to come to an end. It’s difficult to grab onto the aluminum side rails because the screen curves in a dramatic fashion.I don’t experience many accidental touches (kudos to LG’s software team) but it does make the phone harder to use and feels less secure in my hand. Sure, it looks sleek but after you take it home, you want a good user experience and this isn’t it.SoftwareThis is a very pretty phone but there’s also depth, too. The software experience is far, far better than any other LG device I’ve ever used. Yes, it still comes with about 37 million preloaded apps (Thanks, AT&T), but beyond that, I’m pretty happy with what LG has done here.First, let’s get this out of the way: if you’re a stock-Android lover, this one probably isn’t for you. The Velvet’s software reminds me a lot of Samsung’s offerings as well– but that’s a good thing.You can see thought was put into design choices like moving the menu and buttons further down the screen while displaying information and graphics in the top half of the screen. LG doesn’t go as far as Samsung with this, but it’s a good start.There’s also an impressive amount of options and settings in the device. You have everything from fine-tuning audio controls, display options, intelligent charging controls, a theme engine, and far more. But more than offering these features, it’s that LG has gotten out of its own way to do so.No longer do we find things buried three or four menus deep. No longer are things half explained with users left to figure it out on their own. Again, there’s some real thought put into this.The one thing I would love LG to work on, though, is the stock keyboard. This can be changed easily by downloading Gboard, but working with LG’s keyboard is a frustrating experience. It’s laggy, glitchy, and makes some pretty strange suggestions.Frustrating things even more is the fact that it’s probably the best keyboard to use with the dual-screen display so you have to keep going back and forth between Gboard and LG’s keyboard if you want the best of both worlds. But hey, at least we have that option, right?Before we move on, I just want to point out how good LG has been at updating its software so far. I, like many others, laughed when LG said it was making a huge push into software development so it could better support its devices. It even opened up software houses just for this purpose. But then, we saw no results.But, I think that hard work (and millions of dollars) are starting to pay off. The monthly security updates are coming at more regular intervals now and that’s a refreshing change. But, where LG will be judged is how fast it can deliver full Android software updates (c’mon, Android 11!) and just how long LG is planning to support its devices for.Dual ScreenSpeaking of the dual-screen display, it’s one of my favorite things about the LG Velvet. It’s an optional accessory but comes bundled with the phone most of the time. With it, you can turn your device into a powerful pocket computer that’s only going to get better over time.You can currently launch multiple apps, and that’s the best way to use the dual-screen. Because of the large hinge in the middle, using something like Google Maps across both displays isn’t a great experience, but it’s not really designed for that.Playing a game and displaying a controller on the second screen is great. Opening up two documents at the same time is wonderful. Video editing is… well, you can do it if you want to.via LGFor gaming, the Velvet is a dream. LG has included a dedicated Game Mode, which turns one of your displays into a full-screen (and customizable) controller. Then, throw the actual game on the other screen and enjoy something that you only wish you could have. Unless you actually pick up the Velvet, V60, or something like the Galaxy Z Fold 2 (which is a different experience entirely).The display case charges via a pogo pin adapter that you can plug any USB-C cable into. I’ve heard people complain that you need an adapter but in my usage, I’ve never had an issue doing it.The adapter lines up with the case via magnets so you never miss and you can just leave the adapter connected to your cable when you’re not using it. You’ll probably want to try and find an extra adapter, if you happen to travel frequently and don’t want to have to take your Velvet out of the dual-screen case just to charge it.Performance2020 has been a bit weird in terms of tech. Most companies decided that the Qualcomm Snapdragon 865+ was too expensive and decided to go with the cheaper 765G instead. That’s exactly what LG did for the Velvet, which is why the device is priced right around $600 at the time of publishing.In terms of performance, it’s… fine. This isn’t going to blow anything out of the water and benchmarks are going to make it seem like a potato, but in real life usage, it does the job just fine. There are a few stutters and some lag there, but I’m hesitant to attribute that to the processor and not to LG’s software or something running in the background.I’ve used other devices with the 765G and performance has been great. In fact, you can barely notice you’re not using a flagship chip, if you can notice at all. I hope that I’m right and the little issues I’ve seen can get ironed out in a software patch. Truth be told, while I’m all for LG’s changes on the software front, they may have done too much and it does show a bit on the Velvet.BatteryBattery life is another story. I was initially ready to criticize LG for making a phone super thin and killing the battery capacity, but there is a 4,300mAh battery here, which makes it competitive with pretty much every phone on the market.In terms of real-world usage, battery life is pretty good. I averaged between five and 6.5 hours of screen on time each day and would go to bed with anywhere from 15 to 30% of my battery left. I achieved these results with all radios on, using the dual-screen case for an hour or so each day and screen brightness at auto.This isn’t going to win any marathons, but I struggle to think of any phones that are this thin with this good of battery life.What I do really like, however, is that LG included fast charging (up to 15W) and fast wireless charging (9W) on board. I’m the type of person who likes to stick my phone on the wireless charger at night to charge so it’s nice to see LG adding it after competitors like OnePlus took it out of devices in similar price ranges.We also see intelligent charging controls so that your phone doesn’t charge too quickly at night. Fast charging produces heat and heat is the enemy of good, long last battery life. Over the life of your device, your battery degrades and heat doesn’t help that out. LG allows you to charge your phone slower at night, thus reducing heat and ensuring the long life of your battery.CameraThe camera on the LG Velvet is good. It’s not crazy Samsung/Google/Huawei levels of good, but for almost everyone on the planet, it’ll do just fine.Looking at camera samples, you can see that LG is probably changing its processing and leaning a little more into saturation, rather than true tones. We’ve seen this throughout the years, especially on Samsung devices, that blow out colors so they feel more vibrant and alive. I don’t necessarily mind this but it is something you should keep in mind if that sort of thing matters to you.Beyond that, you’ll find the same full suite of picture modes and filters that you come to expect from LG. Video, however, has taken a bit of a step back. We don’t see quite the amount of control we’ve come to expect on past V-series devices, but as we said earlier, it’ll be fine for most people.ConclusionThe LG Velvet can be just about anything you want it to be. It’s a mid-range device with pretty decent performance and 5G support. It’ll do great with everything except the most challenging apps. And even then, it should be fine, it just might take a little longer to launch that app or show a few less frames in that game.Out of the box, it’s one of the sleekest and sexiest phones on the market, and trust me when I tell you that it looks far better in person. But, if you want more, slap the dual-screen case on there and you have a slimmer Fold 2-like experience that can launch multiple apps at the same time and allow you to get some work done on the train or browse Reddit as you’re watching YouTube videos. I believe that once more office apps begin to support multi-display support with the Fold and Microsoft Duo becoming more popular, the Velvet will prosper as well.I wasn’t sure how LG’s strategy was going to plan out when they first announced they were going back to the drawing board. I was even less confident when renders started to appear because the Velvet looks like every slim and sexy slab of glass released in the last five years. But then I picked one up and started using it. It’s the first time I really don’t have any complaints about an LG phone in a long, long time.

Best Android phones at Walmart Family Mobile

There are plenty of wireless service providers to choose from, at least here in the United States. In fact, it may seem as if there are too many options to consider. But when it comes down to it, many of them rely on the networks offered by Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile.Walmart Family Mobile, a Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO), is one such carrier. Indeed, it has its own rate plans and features, but it licenses coverage from T-Mobile.When it comes to buying a phone for use on Walmart Family Mobile there are a few options to consider. For starters, you can bring your current T-Mobile device to the carrier. Additionally, you can buy an unlocked phone for use on Walmart Family Mobile.You can check to see if your current device is compatible with Walmart Family Mobile by texting BYOP to 611611.Customers can also purchase a phone directly from Walmart Family Mobile. While there’s a fairly robust handset selection to peruse, select models rise to the top.What follows are some of the best Android phones available at Walmart Family Mobile today. These aren’t the most powerful, but rather the best for particular needs.Samsung Galaxy S20 UltraThe Best AvailablePerhaps one of the best handsets you’ll find at any carrier this year, you’ll have a tough time beating this one. It’s the hardware and software experience that rivals nearly all comers.For your money you get a gorgeous and spacious 6.9-inch display, incredible multi-camera array, and long-lasting battery. Under the hood is a powerhouse processor with lots of memory and storage. Most folks could see years of usage from this one.Shop the Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra at WalmartMotorola Moto G7 OptimoWell-rounded and AffordableThis is a great phone for first-time buyers and those who don’t need all that much from their handset. It’s a solid mix of entry-level hardware with a clean and user-friendly version of Android.The Motorola phone offers up a 5.7-inch HD+ display, 13-megapixel rear camera, and a 3,000mAh battery. That should be plenty sufficient for your social media, light gaming, web browsing, and email.Shop the Motorola Moto G7 Optimo at WalmartSamsung Galaxy S9Yesterday’s FlagshipOne of the best things about today’s breed of smartphones is that you can often purchase a generation or two later and still end up with more than you need. That’s the case here as the popular Samsung phone still handles all of your tasks.For about one third of today’s flagship phone you can get something that will last a couple of years. We’re talking plenty of hardware, a beauty of a screen, and one of the better cameras around.Shop the Samsung Galaxy S9 at WalmartLG Rebel 4First-Time BuyerIf you’ve never owned a smartphone, or are giving your child their first handset, you likely don’t want to spend that much money. To that end, you can get a decent phone for cheap.The LG Rebel 4 is a little older than the others here but there’s a reason it’s still offered. Priced well under $50 you get a 5-inch display, 8-megapixel camera, and decent hardware. It won’t set the world on fire, but you’ll have a better understanding of needs for the next device.Shop the LG Rebel 4 at Walmart

AG DEALS: Three of the best-selling password managers

If you’re smart about your web browsing and online habits, you use strong passwords. At the very least you’re using different passwords for each service, site, or app.A strong password today often means using a mixture of upper and lower case letters, numbers, and special characters. Not just four letters followed by a number, either. We’re talking serious stuff that should look randomly generated.If you’re in desperate need of some password overhauls or smarter, intentional management, you’re in luck. Today we’re highlighting three of the best-selling password managers in the AG Deals Store.Each of these is a terrific option for people ready to take better control of their accounts, privacy, and security.Enpass Password Manager: One-Time Premium Lifetime License ($25)Our everyday life is filled with too many passwords and various types of credentials. Use Enpass password manager to organize everything in one place securely. It also takes care of your credit cards, identities, social security number, and all the credentials you need handy in your daily life. And the best thing, none of your Enpass data is stored on servers; instead, it is stored locally on your device. You can sync it through your own trusted cloud account, all ENCRYPTED!! $25Cyclonis Password Manager for Unlimited Devices: Lifetime Subscription ($29)With Cyclonis Password Manager, you can manage, organize and control all your passwords in one central place. Cyclonis Password Manager stores your data in a personal vault, that is encrypted with AES-256 bit, an encryption algorithm used by governments, financial institutions, and in military applications. Along with an encrypted vault that stores all your personal, payment, and login information, Cyclonis gives you a helpful estimate of the strength and complexity of your passwords. Last but not least, it saves you precious time by working directly in your browser to let you access your data and log in to your website accounts whenever you need it. $29

NET10 Wireless Buyer’s Guide (October 2020)

Most wireless customers are familiar with the big-name brands in Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint. Relatively few buyers, though, are as well-versed when it comes to the topic of Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNO).It might surprise you to know that companies like Metro, Boost Mobile, and Cricket Wireless operate on the T-Mobile, Sprint, and AT&T networks, respectively. These network operators license the towers and coverage from the tier-one providers and offer their own phones, rate plans, and customer service.NET10 Wireless is one such MVNO worth closer inspection.AboutAs a company that operates almost virtually, Net10 doesn’t have any towers of its own. What’s more, it does not have any official retail stores, paper bills, activation fees, or overage charges.TIPS FOR BUYING A USED PHONEWHERE CAN I BUY AN UNLOCKED PHONE?BUYING AN UNLOCKED PHONE? CONSIDER THESE QUESTIONSIt does, however have a presence at indirect sellers and locations such as Dollar General and Family Dollar. Net10 Wireless service plans and Bring-Your-Own-Phone SIM Kits are currently sold in Walmart, CVS, Best Buy, Walgreens and many other local stores. Its devices are available exclusively online via the brand’s website,PODCAST: What is an MVNO?Using both CDMA and GSM technologies, NET10 lets customers bring their AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint, Verizon, or unlocked GSM phones.Rate PlansCustomers can choose from a number of options spread across various types of plans. For those who only needed the barest of necessities, the pay-as-you-go provides buckets of minutes. The Monthly Talk, Text, and Data plans range from $20 up to $65 per month and come with variable amounts of high speed data.Cheap cell phone plans that use the Sprint networkCheap cell phone plans that use the T-Mobile networkCheap cell phone plans that use the AT&T networkCheap cell phone plans that use the Verizon networkNote that all plans include unlimited data but allow for only certain amounts at high speed. Once you hit the cap you’ll have slowed (2G) speeds for the remainder of the bill cycle.$20/month: 2GB$35/month: 5GB$40/month: 10GB$50/month: 30GB (Includes $20 credit for international calls)$65/month: 50GB (Includes unlimited international calls)Select plans give buyers the option to save a few bucks per month by enrolling in Auto-Refill automatic bill payments.Family PlansNet10 Wireless refers to these as “Multi-Line Plans” as opposed to family plans. A new line of service can be added to any plan. The first line is discounted by $5 per month; each line after that is discounted by $10 per month (up to four lines).Handset SelectionCustomers can purchase handsets in one of two ways: buy outright or spread payments out monthly. The selection through the former leaves much to be desired with less than one dozen models to choose from. Opting for the latter (payment plan) opens the door to a wide range of phones with financing through Affirm.READ: The best Android phones at Net10 WirelessBring Your Own DeviceOne place where NET10 shines is in its ability to support phones from other carriers. Those of you who have access to an existing phone, or who might have purchased an unlocked phone elsewhere, can bring the device to NET10.Whether you’re looking for a new phone number or hoping to keep your existing one, NET10 works. Moreover, you can also keep your same network in the background, receiving the coverage you already know. Head to the NET10 page to check compatibility of your phone.

Ting Buyer’s Guide (October 2020)

Many people know about the big name wireless service providers of Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile. This is for good reason – they advertise everywhere and they basically own the airwaves.What about those random brands that you might have seen in the store but don’t really know? What’s the difference between them and the more popular carriers? Are they a risk or gamble? Are they too good to be true?Cheap cell phone plans that use the T-Mobile networkWhich major prepaid carrier has the best $40 rate plan?Let’s take a look at a relatively newer carrier, Ting. This guide will serve to help you understand what the MVNO offers and how it stacks up against others.About TingLaunched in 2012, Ting finds itself in the increasingly crowded segment of low-cost, no-frills alternatives. Ting was one of the first in the industry to popularize the pay-for-what-you-use structure.Does Ting support GSM or CDMA?Ting’s service uses the Verizon and DISH networks for CDMA coverage and T-Mobile for GSM, but it operates with its own plans and features. You can check potential coverage ahead of time, even checking expectations based on the phone you currently own.Finding unlocked phones with support for GSM is much easier as the selection is larger. Moreover, if you travel internationally, the GSM-based devices will work just fine, and without requiring any major changes.Tell me about Ting rate plansTing doesn’t have conventional rate plans where customers pick from a number of options. Instead, they’re charged based on usage in a postpaid manner.You can visit Ting’s website to calculate your bill based on estimate usage. Start with the number of lines you might want or need, add in approximate talk and text, and then figure out the data.Perfect for minimal needsIt’s worth pointing out that Ting has exceptional rates for those who don’t need much from their phones. If you’re on Wi-Fi most of the time and don’t require much data, you’ll find Ting’s plans work great. But, get into 8GB-10GB, or more per month, it gets rather costly.A family of four sharing 1,000 minutes talk time, 2,000 texts, and 15GB data would spend $200 per month. That’s $50 per line and nowhere near what you can get from other carriers.What about multiple lines?Ting lets you add extra lines to your plan for just $6 per month. Keep in mind that you’ll pool everything together, including text messages and talk minutes.Tips for buying a used phoneSelling a phone? Do these things firstWhere can I buy an unlocked phone?You can set alerts and caps in the Ting Dashboard, and create limits on individual lines. This is peace of mind for parents who might be otherwise worried about a child using an exorbitant amount of data for streaming HD video.Are there any other Ting features worth noting?Ting users can benefit from calling more than 60 countries at no additional cost. All minutes are counted the same whether it’s US, Canada, Mexico, UK, Puerto Rico, or a bunch of others.Ting offers a cancellation-fee reimbursement if switch from another service provider. You’ll get back 25 percent of whatever it costs for you to leave your carrier, whether an early termination fee or a balance remaining on your phone. Reimbursement is capped at $75 in credit on your account.What about Ting handset selection?As mentioned above, Ting allows for both GSM and CDMA phones.  If you’re interested in bringing your own, check your existing phone IMEI to see whether it’s compatible with its service.For those who want to purchase a phone, Ting has a fairly well-rounded selection of devices. Looking at it today we see new and notable models like the Samsung Galaxy S10+, Moto G6, and LG Stylo 5.Ting offers a small selection of phones, however it’s comprised mainly of Samsung and Apple, with a few LG and Motorola models sprinkled in. For what it’s worth, it does offer the iPhone 11 Pro, Samsung Galaxy S10+, and Google Pixel 4a.

Shop AG Deals! These are some of the top deals this week

If you’ve followed AndroidGuys for any length of time, you know that we promote a daily deal for items in the AG Deals Store. Whether it’s software, a service, online training, or a gadget, each week day brings a new promotion.Today we’re putting together a collection of some of the best deals of the week. These are things which we may have previously highlighted as well as new things we think you’d appreciate learning about.HumBird Bone-Conducting SpeakerThe HumBird Speaker is the world’s smallest and most versatile bone conduction speaker that allows you to have a different but always spectacular listening experience anywhere. Using cutting-edge bone conduction technology, it delivers a high sound volume, being 4 to 5 times louder than the average cell phone speakers’ volume, reaching up to 115dB, and it allows you to personalize the tone quality. $27Taskolly Project Manager: Lifetime SubscriptionTaskolly is an easy, flexible, and visual way to manage your projects and organize anything. It’s a software that will help you and your team to manage work and tasks so you can focus on being productive. Easily plan, collaborate, organize, and deliver projects of all sizes, on time, by using a single project planning software equipped with all of the right tools, all in one place. $39All-in-One Android Charging Station & ConnectorClear your mind and desk of unnecessary wires and items with this All-in-One Android Charging Station & Connector. With HDMI port, SD/TF card reader, and USB ports, this dock is a convenient way to extend the capabilities of your smartphone. It’s compatible with a variety of peripherals such as external hard drives, keyboard, and mouse, and has productivity and entertainment options. It supports HD display and makes you phone a second monitor. $104Photo Backup Stick UniversalThe Photo Backup Stick Universal is an all-in-one picture and video backup tool for computers and phones. Preserve your favorite memories from all your devices to one location. With the Photo Backup Stick Universal, you can back up from Windows computers, laptops, and tablets, Mac computers and laptops, iPhones, iPads, and iPod Touch, and Android phones and tablets all with one tool. $54DottedSign Pro e-Sign PlatformPioneering in e-signing on mobile devices, DottedSign lets you effortlessly sign documents and get signatures from others in a legal and secure process. Stop wasting time emailing signers, printing copies, and faxing paper. Ensure your important business cases do not slip through the cracks. Use DottedSign to complete your work, including NDAs, sales contracts, lease agreements, permission slips, financial agreements, W9 forms, and more.  $50FamiSafe: 3-Yr SubscriptionMore than half of kids, 3 years old and above, now have their own tablets and as they explore the digital world by themselves, potential risks like cyberbullying, sexual predators, and so on are just a few clicks away. FamiSafe lets you protect your kids in an all-around way. Control screen time, track activities, limit the use of apps, block inappropriate content, get instant alerts, and more. With up to 30 devices in one account, you can make sure your kids are developing good online habits and safe from the threats of the internet. $50FunEasyLearn: Lifetime SubscriptionLearn English, Spanish, German, French, Arabic, Chinese, Russian, Korean, Italian, or any of the other 25 languages with FunEasyLearn, the world’s most powerful language learning app.  By combining proven memorization techniques and gamification tools, FunEasyLearn not only keeps you interested and motivated at all times, but also makes learning kind of fun. You need less than a month of regular learning, to see how much you can grow. $39HCG1 Pro Gaming HeadsetIf you’re a gamer and you want the best gaming headset to help you hear every footstep, every movement, and every gunshot, this HCG1 Pro Gaming Headset is the perfect gear for you! Offering superior sound quality, versatile connectivity, and a clear microphone, this headset maximizes your gaming experience and lets you stay a step ahead of every game. $104

Take your cybersecurity skills to the next level with this $49 bundle

Data is valuable. Whether it’s your school papers, work documents, passwords, preferences, and settings, or something else, it’s important to keep the data locked up tight. This is exponentially more vital for businesses who are trusted to guard your credit cards, legal documents, and other personal information.Everyone is at risk of being hacked, but things are much scarier for big companies. That’s why having the right cybersecurity team in place is so critical. Getting on an IT team is not just a case of showing up and/or applying. Having IT certification and credentials is more important than ever.CompTIA is the voice of the world’s information technology (IT) industry. It advances the global interests of IT professionals and channel organizations. It’s the leading certification body in the accreditation space and the way to do IT.Great, lucrative, and family-sustaining IT jobs are out there, but the vast majority of candidates are not yet qualified. Certifications help to train and identify qualified, knowledgeable employees and match them with employers who have jobs to fill.The Advanced Cyber Security Career Advancement Bundle features more than 56 hours of content to prep you for CompTIA and other cyberscurity exams. It’s on sale for only $49.99 right now, and a steal of a deal.FeaturesCISA CertificationCompTIA Cloud EssentialsCCSP CertificationIntroduction to Cyber SecurityCISM CertificationCISSP CertificationThis training bundle is valued in the thousands, but if you act fast, you can take advantage of the limited-time savings and access the entire collection for only $49.99.Best SellersSave even more!For every $25 you spend in the AG Deals Store you get $1 credit added to your account. And, if you refer the deal via social media or an email that results in a purchase, you’ll earn $10 credit in your account.First Time Buying?If this is your first time buying, you are also eligible for 10% discount! Just be sure to subscribe for email updates.Free StuffNot looking to spend any money today? No worries. You can still visit the AndroidGuys section for freebies and pick something anyhow.

Mint Mobile Buyer’s Guide (October 2020)

Most consumers are familiar with the big-name wireless carriers like Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint. Not nearly as many, though, are as well-versed when it comes to the topic of Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNO).It might surprise you to know that companies such as Metro, Boost Mobile, and Cricket Wireless operate on the T-Mobile, Sprint, and AT&T networks, respectively. These network operators license the towers and coverage from the tier-one providers and offer their own phones, rate plans, and customer service.In this write-up, we will profile Mint Mobile, an online-only MVNO who specializes in bulk savings.Cheap phone plans that use T-Mobile’s networkHow to check your IMEI number Tips for buying a used phoneUpgrading your phone? Here’s what to do if you’re selling the old oneAbout Mint MobileMint Mobile (previously Mint SIM) was launched in 2016 by Ultra Mobile, and utilizes T-Mobile towers to provide nationwide coverage. Mint exists online-only as it trumpets the savings passed on to consumers by not having to maintain a physical storefront.Mint started out relatively quiet and flew under the radar for a few years, but it has started making some noise in the space. In 2019 Ryan Reynolds purchased a stake in the company and is now considered a partial owner of the brand.Known as one of the most inexpensive providers within its category, Mint accomplishes this with a bit of a different take on prepaid plans. By selling data in bulk (blocks of months), customers receive deeper discounts than typical monthly fare.Are there any deals at Mint Mobile?New customers can sign up to Mint Mobile and take advantage of steep discounts on its rate plans. Sign up and you can get unlimited talk, text, and unlimited 5G or 4G LTE data for just $30 per month. You’ll just have to prepay for three months ($90) and it’s yours. After the promotional rate expires you can purchase a full year at $360 to retain that value.Rate PlansAs mentioned, Mint offers different packages in bulk. Plans include unlimited talk, text and data. In fact, customers get either 5G or 4G LTE, depending on what’s stronger in the area. Also bundled with plans are free calls to Mexico and Canada, mobile hotspot, and Wi-Fi calls.Subscribers essentially choose how much high-speed 4G LTE data they need on a monthly basis. As of today you can get the following plans.Introductory Rate PlansThe following plans are bundled for three months, meaning you’ll pay a one-time charge. Breaking the cost down over three periods breaks out as so:$15/month – 3GB high-speed data per month ($45 total)$20/month – 8GB high-speed data per month ($60 total)$25/month – 12GB high-speed data per month ($75 total)$30/month – Unlimited high-speed data per month ($90 total)Once the three-month period is over you’ll have the option to renew in three, six, and twelve month options. The longer the term, the more cost-effective it becomes. If you’re confident that you’ll stick around for the long run, save yourself the money by opting for the twelve month plan.Can you use your own phone with Mint?Customers can purchase unlocked devices and potentially finance through SmartPay, but Mint started out as a “Bring Your Own Phone” carrier and it is still a highly-promoted option. Mint is compatible with most unlocked GSM devices. You can check your IMEI to get started.Mint is routinely one of the best options available for customers looking to use their own phone, especially if it’s one purchased through T-Mobile.Are there any risks with Mint Mobile?Mint offers a 7-day money back guarantee when test driving its 3-month plan.What is Mint’s phone selection like?Should you wish to purchase a phone from Mint you’ll find a range of devices from all of the familiar brands. The current crop of handsets is a rather mixed bag, but there are top-tier models like the OnePlus 8 Pro, iPhone 11 Pro Max, and Samsung Galaxy Z Flip.The phones are priced outright as well as monthly, with financing done through Affirm. Moreover, there are certified pre-owned models and reconditioned handsets, too.

Xbox Game Pass Ultimate review

Recently, cloud gaming gained a huge competitor when Microsoft launched Xbox Game Pass Ultimate offering over 100 games free to play with your subscription. It joins the increasingly crowded space with players like Google Stadia and NVIDIA’s GeForce Now.I’ve spent the past few weeks testing out Xbox Game Pass Ultimate and here are my thoughts.Game SelectionThere’s no getting around it, Microsoft’s service comes out swinging with a host of hit games at launch. Titles include Xbox exclusives such as games from the Halo, Gears of War, Forza, Ori, and more. There is also a selection of popular games available on third-party platforms including Batman Arkham Knight, Doom Eternal, The Outer Worlds, Witcher 3, and many many others.Not only does Microsoft have a wide selection of games on offer, but it is sure to grow as time goes on. It has promised future exclusives will show up on the platform on day one. Plus, there is Microsoft’s recent acquisition of Bethesda, which will surely see more of its catalog joining Xbox Game Pass Ultimate in the future. Skyrim on yet another platform anyone?Additionally, EA Play is also headed to Xbox Game Pass Ultimate in November, growing the library of games even further.Basically, there is a wide selection of games to choose from on Microsoft’s new service spanning multiple genres. It won’t be difficult to find at least a few titles to throw yourself into and get lost for a bit.The downside is, unless it’s a Microsoft exclusive game, you won’t be playing many new titles. If you’re someone who likes to play specific games or is always chasing the next big game, you might be left wanting with only a selection of older hits to choose from.Gaming on the PCWhen playing games on your Android device Microsoft streams them much like Google’s Stadia service. However, once you make the jump to PC, everything changes. Xbox Game Pass for PC offers a more traditional gaming setup where you download and install each game on your local PC.Now, this has both its advantages and disadvantages. For one, if you have a good gaming PC, you’ll be able to play games in higher quality than 720p at 60fps. You’ll also be able to play games without burning through your internet provider’s data cap. On the flip side, if you have a weak PC then you’re sure to see worse performance, and the games are going to eat up lots of space on your hard drive.In my personal experience, I was unable to install the Game Pass for PC app on my more powerful PC. Each time I tried, I was met with an error and eventually, I just gave up. Finally, I decided to give it a try on a weaker desktop I have, and to my surprise, it installed fine. Unfortunately, the game ran like garbage because of the slower CPU and onboard graphics.If you’re hoping to run games on your computer, make sure your PC has decent specs, and try installing Xbox Game Pass for PC app ahead of time just to ensure it works.PerksBesides giving you access to games across multiple platforms, Xbox Game Pass Ultimate also includes perks. Most of the time these tie directly into gaming with free digital items or expansion passes.However, you’ll also find offers for other services such as three months of Discord Nitro or two months of Funimation Premium Plus. All of these are limited-time offers, so be sure to claim them quickly and check back often for new perks.PerformanceMy time streaming with Xbox Game Pass Ultimate was spent between using my Android phones with the Razer Kishi, and a Chromebook running the Android app on a 200Mbit connection. Microsoft recommends a 10Mbit connection, so mine should be plenty. Regardless, I still ran into many streaming issues and loading screens.If you’re a console gamer, you’re used to loading screens by now, and I found the wait to be very similar to using a console. However, coming from using Stadia, the wait was brutal. Games load up significantly faster with Google’s service, and that made the wait feel even longer on Xbox Game Pass Ultimate.That would have been fine if games ran perfectly after loading. Unfortunately, that was not the case. There were many times I encountered macro blocking and even stutters during gameplay. More than once, I had a game completely close out on me or refuse to load. And in one particular session, the audio was distorted the entire time until I exited the game and launched it again.All of this and the service is capped at 720p 60fps with stereo sound. To its credit, the graphics still looked good when playing on a phone or even my 12.3-inch Chromebook. At least it did when there weren’t connection issues, which was pretty often. There is a reason this service is still considered a beta.Final ThoughtsXbox Game Pass Ultimate offers a wide selection of games, including old hits and new favorites spanning multiple genres for only $14.99 a month. Unfortunately, there are still some glitches in the system, and quality is capped at 720p at 60fps.While it has its downsides, the service is still technically in beta, and there isn’t a better value out there at the moment. That could all change once Amazon launches Luna, but we’ll have to wait and see on that front.For now, if you’re a fan of the games offered in the Xbox Game Pass Ultimate library–or you’ve always wanted to try some of them out–I’d say go ahead and sign up for at least a month to give it a try.At the moment, Microsoft is running a deal where you can get the first month for only a dollar, so it won’t cost you much to decide if this cloud gaming service is for you. Check out our guide on how to sign up over here to get started.

LDPlayer Join Uptodown: What does the deal bring to you?

Android emulators for PC have become a must-have for many players who want to run and play their mobile games on their desktop. The LDPlayer has been one of the best tools for this job to use it as an emulator and offers superior performance, and it is now coming with the official Uptodown app.LDPlayerLDPlayer is a Free Android emulator that helps you to enjoy the mobile operating system from your system. The other emulators only support Android 4.4, but the LDPlayer offers support to all Android versions above 5.1.The best thing about LDPlayer is that it is compatible with almost every popular mobile game and is considered one of the best emulators so far.READ: LDPlayer – Android Emulator for Windows PC and LaptopLDPlayer offers features for automation and multi-instance management to simultaneously run multiple emulated devices at once. Moreover, it can also help you to complete repetitive tasks by tapping on the screen for you.What’s in it for you?We all love playing games, and we all want such tools that allow us to play the same game on different platforms without any difficulty. It gives you a chance to use other hardware devices to play the game on your system.Moreover, with this tool’s help, you can improve the framerate and resolution of your games, which you were unable to do on your mobile screens.For example, the famous game PUBG Mobile can reach 2Ka resolutions if you have a better graphics card. Also you can try to download Among Us to get the ultimate gaming experience.Sharing the same PhilosophyUptodown and LDPlayer share the same philosophy, and both these platforms have a user-friendly interface, and you can jump easily from one option to another.To use the program, you do not have to go for the installation process or register anything, and you can start using it as soon as you open it.With the combination of these two platforms, you will get a complete catalog full of Android apps at your fingertips, and you can use it with the default app installer.Advantage of an UpdateThe official app brings you an advantage that you can update the games and apps in the background which your Android Operating System was resisting. However, you have to get root permissions to install them automatically.The best thing that both Uptodown and LDPlayer contain is that they do not require any registration. Moreover, you do not have to log in to your Gmail account to use the LDPlayer.Benefits for the playersSome benefits that the combination of Uptodown and LDPlayer brought are as follow:The combination of both platforms brought a non-intrusive interface for the users.The platform comes with its own separate marketplace in the form of an independent app, and you can also access any other store.It gives you the chance to expand the virtual disc or select a manually fixed size for the simulation to the output resolution.You can get specific tweaks to make your game work perfectly according to the situation.The LDPlayer has been considered the most compatible system with the Uptodown as it does not delay the audio being played from a recording video.It also does not reduce the framerate, not even by a shred when you are playing a YouTube video while using LDPlayer.You are going to get a fully customizable control mapping with predefined key assignments for tons of games.The software can modify the output resolution and obtain impressive results in 3D games.You get a chance by using the combination of these two platforms to record videos of your games with the integrated capture tool present in the system.LDPlayer allows you to move documents between the system and the software with ease.You can even install APKs from the Uptodown in the system for using them in the LDPlayer.It offers high performance when it comes to graphics, no matter which game you are playing.You get a chance to set up your game set according to your desire, and according to the graphic card, you have installed in the system.You can enable high frame rate mode if you want, but too depends on the kind of game you are playing.Players can set if they want to see the HDR option in the game or not.The software allows you to manage your gaming scripts automatically.LDPlayers gives players a chance to faster rerolls in Gacha games with multi-instance sync.Other features of LDPlayerThe combination of both these platforms has increased the gaming industry’s features as now you can easily take the game from the Uptodown and can play it in the LDPlayer, which you were not able to play before.Moreover, the platform provides better graphics and performance results, and you can now play any game that you want on a bigger screen instead of your mobile phones.The LDPlayer gives you the chance to visualize your Android device on a PC, and with the help of Uptodown, you can get your hands on all kinds of games.InstallationHowever, the installer is in Chinese, but that should not cause any trouble for you because even if you don’t know Chinese, follow me. Open the Installer, and when it is launched, start clicking the orange button that you see for a few times, and it is installed.After it has been installed, go to the settings (the gear option) and change the software’s language by going to the second tab and selecting the last option. There you can see all the languages which you can use in this software.One negative of this LDPlayer is that it does not come with embedded Google Play Services, and you do not have to worry about it actually. You can install the Google Play Services manually after installing the LDPlayer in your system.ConclusionLDPlayer’s cooperation with Uptodown has brought various advantages to the gamers and the gaming industry. The LDPlayer is fat better than other emulators such as Bluestacks or Memu, and it has the capacity to keep updating the games from the Uptodown platform. Overall, it has been a great advancement to play Android games on the PC.EDITOR NOTE: This is a promoted post and should not be viewed as an editorial endorsement.

How to get the best quality when streaming Netflix on a Chromebook

When you pay for Netflix’s most expensive plan, you want to get the highest streaming quality no matter where you watch, and I don’t blame you.However, you may be surprised to find out that the quality of your video and audio is not only dependent on your plan and connection, but also the device you use, as well as the browser. Keep reading to find out how to get the highest quality when streaming Netflix on a Chromebook.In ShortUse the Chrome browser, it supports up to 1080p video, and that’s as good as it gets on a Chromebook.Chromebooks don’t support 4K HDR playbackFirst off, it’s time for the bad news, unfortunately, Chromebooks don’t support 4K HDR playback. Instead, 1080p video quality is the best you’re going to get as a Chromebook user.READ: Get the best resolution for Netflix on your PCAccording to the Netflix support page, streaming with the Chrome browser on a Chromebook supports up to 1080p. What about running the Android Netflix app on a Chromebook? I’m glad you asked, turns out, that’s even worse, with a maximum resolution of 480p.Now, it is possible to get 1080p and even HDR when using the Android app, but that is limited to Netflix certified Android tablets and phones, which Chromebooks are not.Regardless, even with a maximum resolution of 480p, there is a benefit to using the Netflix app on Chromebooks, offline watching. If you’re out and about, unsure whether there is going to be a stable connection or not, then you’re going to want to download some videos, and the Netflix app is the only way that’s happening.It’s not all bad newsI’m sure this is disappointing to hear if you pay for Netflix’s top tier plan. However, take solace in the knowledge that there are very few Chromebooks out there with a 4K display.Also, be glad that Chrome even supports 1080p on Chromebooks, because it is limited to 720p on Windows devices. However, at least Windows users have the option to watch in 4K HDR with surround sound, you can find out how with our guide.

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