Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Best Samsung Galaxy J7 Cases (2018)

These are the best Samsung Galaxy J7 cases that will protect your phone and keep it looking nice and new. While Samsung’s Galaxy S9 gets most of the attention, the wallet-friendly Galaxy J7 (2018) is a great alternative at all major US carrier stores. If you bought one, you’ll want a case to keep it safe.

Samsung Galaxy J7 (2018) cases come in a slew of different styles, colors, pricing and materials. Just make sure you get one for the 2018 model, and not last years Galaxy J7 Prime.

This is a budget phone but that doesn’t mean there aren’t great cases available. Our list details some cases as low as $7, which is better than paying $100+ to repair a broken phone. You can spend a little more on cases from a reputable brand, or something extremely durable with extra features like a kickstand.

Some of the top accessory makers often skip cheap budget phones. That said, Samsung’s Galaxy J7 is or will be available from most carriers in the United States. And while the names might differ a little, they all start with Galaxy J7. Like the T-Mobile Galaxy J7 Star, or the J7 V or J7 Refine. They’re all the same.

Read: Best Cheap Samsung Galaxy Phones

After deciding that the J7 is right for you and that you don’t need to spend $800 on a Galaxy S9, the first thing you’ll want is a case. Even a cheap $6 TPU case is better than nothing. Yes, the phone is durable, but a case will protect it from life’s daily hazards. These cases won’t fit the similar Galaxy J2 or the J3.

We have everything from thin clear cases, cheap options, to military-grade protection for the 2018 Samsung Galaxy J7 on all carriers. So, keep your phone safe and get one today from our slideshow below. We’ll update this list once more cases are available.

Dual Layer Armor Kickstand Case

Dual Layer Armor Kickstand Case

First on our list is the Boythink Dual Layer Armor case for the Samsung Galaxy J7 Duo 2018. This is one of the first cases available for Samsung’s new budget phone, and it clearly keeps those cameras safe. 

With a soft inner shell, this case will keep the phone safe from drops and damage. The TPU material absorbs the damage from any impacts. Then, for added durability and strength there’s a secondary hard polycarbonate plastic shell on the outside. 

It has a snap-in design for a quick and simple installation, and a slide-out kickstand perfect for hands-free movies and YouTube. That way you can watch video on your Galaxy J7 with ease. 

Buy it Now on Amazon for $7.89 in multiple colors

Monday, July 16, 2018

Xiaomi confirms Mi A2 on the way, Twitter response is mixed

Xiaomi Mi A1 phone rear

  • Xiaomi has confirmed the successor to the Mi A1 via its Twitter account.

  • The company has all-but-confirmed the phone will be called the Xiaomi Mi A2.

  • Rumors suggest Xiaomi will unveil the device in Madrid, Spain at the end of July.

Xiaomi has confirmed the successor to the Android One-based Xiaomi Mi A1 with a tweet on its official Twitter account.

The tweet (embedded below) includes a poster with a picture of the Mi A1 and the slogan “The Next Gen is Coming.” The poster has Android One branding and says fans of the Mi A1 will love the upcoming device.

While Xiaomi did not confirm the name of the upcoming device in the tweet, it did include the hashtag #2isbetterthan1. This suggests the device will be called Xiaomi Mi A2, as expected.

Xiaomi gave very little info about the phone itself in the tweet. However, we have already heard plenty of rumors including that it could have a Snapdragon 660 chipset, run Android 8.1 Oreo out of the box, and have a rear dual camera setup with 20MP and 12MP sensors.

Editor’s Pick

The Xiaomi Mi A1 is a rebranded version of the Xiaomi Mi 5X with the main difference being that the Mi A1 runs stock Android. It is expected that the Mi A2 will be a rebranded version of the Xiaomi Mi 6X. If this is the case, the Mi A2 could also have a six-inch display and USB Type-C port, but no headphone jack.

While the Mi A1 was initially well received, it suffered from buggy updates which eventually led to the company pulling the Oreo 8.1 update. Some of the most liked replies to Xiaomi’s teaser tweet are people complaining about this very issue.

There is still no official news about a release date. However, the device is rumored to be unveiled at Xiaomi’s Mi Explorer Program in Madrid, Spain which takes place between July 23 and July 26.

Next up: Xiaomi Mi A2: All the rumors in one place

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Best Action Games for Android

Are you looking for the best action games for Android to keep you entertained? With thousands of games on the Google Play Store finding quality ones is often difficult. However, Action games are a huge genre with tons of options. Everything from shooter games, fighting titles, battle royale games, racing and more. We’ve combined the best of the best all into one list for you below.

These days gaming on mobile is extremely popular due to huge screens and powerful processors. We’re nearing console-quality graphics. If you love action games and want to keep your skills sharp, read on for some games worth trying today.

Read: Best First Person Shooter Games for Android

Everything from platform titles, adventure games to top-down shooters and more all count. Whether you want to enjoy some easy to play action games or get the heart pumping, there’s something for everyone. There are too many to list and we’ll be adding more as 2018 continues, but these are a good place to start.

There is certainly no shortage of games these days. However, some just simply aren’t worth downloading or paying for. Which is why we’ve gathered a few of our favorites. At the same time, developers continue to deliver excellent titles year in and year out.

In the past, we’ve detailed many different games to keep you entertained. Like the best racing titles for Android. However, here we want to keep the genre broad and offer something that almost anyone can enjoy.

Read: Best Games Like Fortnite for Android

All of the games below are full of fun, action, and adventure. They’ll keep you busy for hours on end, on the edge of your seat, or entertained on a long trip. We have Halo knock-offs, Call of Duty type gameplay and so much more. Without further delay, these are the best action games for Android. Additionally, check out these 100 best Android apps.

Grand Theft Auto

Grand Theft Auto

If you’re a fan of the Grand Theft Auto franchise on PC or console, why not play them on Android? Luckily for us Rockstar Games has actually ported five GTA titles to mobile devices. 

My personal favorite still has to be Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, but that’s just one of four others you can try on any Android smartphone or tablet. The graphics are amazing, basically the same as a console, and the controls are surprisingly really good. Not to mention most have Bluetooth controller support. Try Vice City, San Andreas and others, or download them all. 

It’s worth noting that since these are the full games, they take up a very large amount of space. We’d recommend a device with an SD card just to be safe. Additionally, these aren’t all that kid-friendly, but you already knew that. Right? Either way, get one or all from the play store. 

Download Grand Theft Auto

Monday, July 2, 2018

Pixel & Nexus July Android Oreo Update: What to Know

As promised, Google recently released its latest monthly July Android Oreo update for Nexus and Pixel phones. And while these monthly updates are all about security, we do see the occasional bug fix at the same time. This month Google improved WiFi on Pixel devices while boosting security on Android as a whole.

With the Pixel and Nexus July Android 8.1 Oreo update rolling out as we speak, here’s everything you need to know. We’ll explain what to expect, anything that’s new, and give you links to download and install it today. Or, try the Android P Developer Preview 4 instead.

Read: What’s New in Android P: Everything to Know

While the Pixel C updates are still missing, many Nexus & Pixel owners will get an updated version of Android this week. And remember, older devices like the Nexus 5 and Nexus Player are no longer supported. For those with a newer device, this is an important update that could affect your device and its performance.

As usual, we’re seeing new security enhancements and multiple critical security patches in July. Then, Google made some minor changes to WiFi on most devices, but that’s about it.

Supported Devices

  • Pixel and Pixel XL

  • Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL

  • Nexus 5X and Nexus 6P

  • Pixel C Tablet

Nexus & Pixel July Android Oreo Update Details

Google confirmed the update on Monday, July 2nd, and immediately posted the files for developers to manually install the latest software. That said, easy-over-the-air updates have yet to begin. Typically those start within 24-48 hours of the announcement, or before the end of the week. Go ahead and tap “check for updates” in settings, or wait for the rollout to continue throughout the week.

Google refreshed the Android security bulletin, as well as the Nexus/Pixel security page with all the details. These links detail all the changes, but we’ll highlight the important ones below. You can get factory images and install it manually too if you’d like.

So far we’re seeing a pretty decent list of changes, but nothing major. Again, this is mostly about security and being better prepared for the future. Typically, there are at least 30+ changes, but this month is very light. As a bonus, that means Google’s doing a good job keeping our smartphones safe.

Before we get into all the changes, we want to suggest you skip manually installing the update. Being such a small software release it’s not worth the risk. Instead, simply wait for Google to send the over-the-air update files to your phone or tablet.

July Oreo Update Fixes & Patches

Lately, Google is taking monthly updates very seriously. For most of 2018, Google added a slew of bug fixes in with these security updates. Function updates, not just software tweaks. The July Android Oreo update is light all around. We only found 12 critical issue patches and a bunch of minor changes elsewhere.

One thing we did notice is that Google improved WiFi consistency with some routers, and that’s all. A pretty light set of changes, aside from the dozens of security patches.

Download Nexus & Pixel July Updates

If you’d like to get this version of Android for your Nexus or Pixel device now, instead of waiting, you can download or flash it from the links below. Or, read more information about each one of these changes.

  1. Download Factory Images

  2. Grab OTA Update Files

  3. Read the Nexus/Pixel Security Bulletin

  4. Read the Android June Security Bulletin

When Will the Update Arrive?

We’re expecting the update within the next 24-48 hours, if not earlier. Google is always fast to deliver updates, or you can manually download and install it yourself as we speak with the links above. However, we could see upgrades and OTA updates continue throughout the week, and into the weekend at the latest. Just wait for the over-the-air notification to hit your phone.

Some users may choose to manually download the files and update to the July Oreo release themselves. However, we recommend waiting for Google’s OTA update notification to arrive instead. It’s easier that way. I went to Settings > System > System Update > Check for Updates and got it immediately. This pulls the update from Google’s servers to your phone. The entire process took less than 10 minutes. From downloading to installing and rebooting the phone.

Other Details & What’s Next for Nexus/Pixel Owners?

In closing, expect an update on your Nexus or Pixel device in the coming days if you didn’t get it already. Remember, this only applies to Google’s Nexus and Pixel devices. If you have a phone from Samsung, LG, or Motorola, you have to wait for an upgrade from them.

So what’s next? Well, Google just released the 4th Android P beta and its next software upgrade is almost ready. And while it’s only available as an early developer preview, or beta, it is the fourth release. We’ll see one more before Android P is officially released around the globe. Basically, this is one of your last Android 8.0 Oreo updates for Nexus and Pixel devices.

Read: 15 Common Pixel 2 XL Problems & How to Fix Them

Those experiencing issues should check out this post for more help. Stay tuned for more details and drop a comment below with any questions or concerns about the June Nexus and Pixel Android Oreo software.

7 Things to Know About the July Nexus 6P Android 8.1 Update

A new Nexus 6P Android 8.1 Oreo update is available and Google’s July build comes with important security patches for the aging device.

The Nexus 6P won’t get upgraded to the company’s new Android P update, but it will continue to get Android Oreo updates throughout 2018.

Google’s latest update is its July Android 8.1 build, the seventh security release since the release of Android 8.1 Oreo back in December.

The July Android 8.1 update is a small update, but it could have a major impact on your device. Most of you won’t see much of a change from the the previous Android 8.1 build, but some of you will.

The Nexus 6P’s newest Android 8.1 build doesn’t come with a long list bug fixes for the aging former flagship, but there’s always a chance the new build irons out random bugs or performance issues. There’s also a chance it hurts your device’s performance.

The new version of Android 8.1 is causing problems for some Nexus 6P users and we expect complaints to pickup as the roll out picks up speed and more people download the software onto their phone.

Our guide to the July Nexus 6P Android 8.1 update takes a look at these problems. It also shows you how to download the new Android 8.1 build right now, some things you should do before you install the latest version of Android 8.1, and some other details you should know before, and after, you install the latest Android 8.1 build on your phone.

We’ll continue to update this roundup with new information as we push away from the release date.

How to Get the July Android 8.1 Update Right Now

How to Get the July Android 8.1 Update Right Now

The Nexus 6’s July Android 8.1 Oreo build is known as OPM6.171019.030.E1.

The update is slowly rolling out to the Nexus 6P and it could be a few days before it lands for every Nexus 6P model in the United States and other countries where the Nexus 6P is found. 

If you want to skip the OTA you can download the July Android 8.1 build right now by sideloading the correct image onto your device.

If you don’t want to manually install the software right now, head into your device’s settings a few times a day to check for the July build. 

It typically takes a couple of weeks for the roll out to finish up so don’t be surprised if you don’t see the update popup today.

Sunday, July 1, 2018

LPDDR5, UFS 3.0 and SD Express: Next-gen memory explained

SD to microSD card

Memory technology may not be as instantly noticeable as a crisp new display or a faster processor, but it’s key for ensuring a smooth, stutter-free smartphone experience. The industry is pushing towards higher quality images and video, high-fidelity gaming, and machine learning. Memory bandwidth and capacity are under more strain than ever before.

Fortunately, new memory technologies are on the way to alleviate the strain. These include LPDDR5 RAM, UFS 3.0 internal storage, and SD Express portable memory cards. The general gist is that each of these standards will be faster than their predecessors, but let’s take a closer at the finer details and how each will help shape superior mobile experiences.


RAM is an essential part of every computer, but smartphones are particularly sensitive to memory bandwidth because the CPU, GPU, and increasingly AI engines are all located on the same chip and share this memory pool. This is often a bottleneck in gaming, 4K video rendering, and other instances that require lots of reading and writing to memory.

We’re still waiting on the final specifications, but LPDDR5, just like its predecessors, is set to increase the amount of available bandwidth and improve energy efficiency once more. LPDDR5 bandwidth is expected to hit at least 6400 Mbps, doubling the 3200 Mbps that LPDDR4 shipped with. Although, subsequent revisions have seen LPDDR4 and 4X able to hit up to 4266 Mbps.

LPDDR5 evolution Synopsys

According to IC design company Synopsys, LPDDR5 introduces a dual differential clock system using a WCK clock similar to that found in fast GDDR5 graphics memory. Differential clocking increases the frequency without upping the pin count and these two clock implementations (WCK_t and WCK_c) allow for two different operating points at either double or quadruple the command/address clock. LPDDR5 will also support Link ECC functionality for Read and Write operations, allowing it to recover data from transmission errors or due to storage charge loss.

Better still, the standard is still focusing on energy efficiency — a key requirement for mobile products — with a lower operating voltage. Deep Sleep Mode is also implemented to reduce current by up to 40 percent when either in an idle or self-refresh state. Data Copy Low Power also reduces power by utilizing repeating data patterns for normal Write, Mask Write, and Read operations, so the higher performance point shouldn’t drain any more of our precious battery life.

We’re still waiting on manufacturers to announce their first LPDDR5 memory chips. Samsung murmured some plans to accelerate commercialization late last year and rumor suggests that production could start in the second half of 2018. Either way, we aren’t expecting to see our first phones boasting the technology until 2019 at the very earliest.


Fast storage is just as important as fast RAM these days, especially if you want to read and store high-resolution video or load up high-quality assets for AR and VR. UFS is quickly replacing eMMC as the memory standard of choice in smartphones. JDEC has already published the official UFS 3.0 specification for its next-gen memory, giving us a look at the performance and power improvements heading to future high-end mobile device storage.

The headline improvement is that speeds have doubled from UFS 2.0 found in some of today’s high-end devices. Each lane can handle up to 11.6 Gbps of data, up from 5.8 Gbps, which gives a peak transfer speed of a whopping 23.2 Gbps. That said, real speeds will be a bit lower than this theoretical maximum. Fortunately, all UFS 3.0-compatible devices are required to support HS-G4 (11.6 Gbps) and HS-G3 (5.8 Gbps), so they’ll definitely be faster than all versions of UFS 2.0.

The standard’s power consumption has changed too. There are now three power rails, 1.2V, 1.8V, and 2.5V/3.3V, and the introduction of 2.5V on the VCC line will help support upcoming higher density 3D NAND flash designs and lower power consumption. In other words, UFS 3.0 is designed to support larger storage sizes, which will be available with upcoming manufacturing techniques.

Just like LPDDR5, Samsung looks set to be one of the first to offer UFS 3.0 storage. Manufacturing for automotive applications has already begun, so a product suitable for smartphone use probably isn’t too far away either. The technology will likely hit the mainstream in 2019.

SD Express portable storage

Finally, we come to portable storage, a sought-after feature in smartphones for moving large media libraries between devices. The newly unveiled SD Express standard will likely replace future microSD cards, although fast UFS memory cards remain a possibility too. In a nutshell, SD Express boasts the fastest ever SD card speeds and support to use them as portable SSDs.

SD Express incorporates PCI Express and NVMe interfaces into the legacy SD interface, two common data bus standards found across the PC space. These interfaces will be supported on the second row of pins that are already used by highspeed UHS-II microSD cards on the market today.

Supporting PCI-E 3.0 with SD Express means peak throughput can hit a whopping 985MB/s, which is more than three times faster than UHS-II cards which top out at 312MB/s and even faster than UHS-III cards that support up to 624MB/s. Meanwhile, NVMe v1.3 is the industry standard used for solid state drives (SSDs), which means that upcoming SD cards will be able to serve as removable SSDs for plug and play access to large amounts of data, software, and even operating systems.

SDcard bus speed and storage SDcard

In addition to supporting higher speed memory interfaces, the maximum storage capacity of future microSD cards is set to increase from 2TB with SDXC to 128TB with the new SD Ultra-Capacity (SDUC) cards.

SD Express is backward compatible with existing microSD cards and ports, but you’ll be limited to the lower speeds. So a UHS-I device will be capped at 104MB/s, even with an SD Express card. Unfortunately, there are a few compatibility issues with newer card types too that will cap speeds, as a UHS-II or UHS-III card will revert to UHS-I speeds in an SD Express host because the pins are repurposed.

Wrap up

Memory improvements are heading our way across the board, catering for faster and higher capacity internal memory, RAM, and portable storage. At first, these latest technologies will command a premium, as usual, so we’ll certainly see them appear in flagship-tier smartphones first, before trickling down to more cost-effective price points the following year or so.

Each of these faster memory technologies will likely break through into flagship smartphones in 2019, although it’s possible we might see a phone or two adopt one of these features a little sooner than the pack. We’ll just have to sit tight until memory manufacturers announce the actual chips that will end up in products.

Spotify Lite is lightweight, but probably too bare-bones

  • As the name implies, Spotify Lite is a “lighter” version of the regular Spotify app that removes a few key features and minimizes app size.

  • Spotify Lite is available in certain countries, though you can download and install an APK.

Spotify is not the only service to offer a “Lite” version of its app, though the intent is the same: to offer a lighter app that targets low-end smartphones with slow internet connections. Spotify Lite certainly checks off those boxes, but makes some significant compromises along the way.

As on the regular Spotify app, Spotify Lite greets you with a list of playlists and recently-played music when you open the app. That is where the similarities end, however.

In terms of differences, the navigation bar at the bottom shows the Home, Search, and Favorites buttons. This compares to the regular Spotify app’s navigation bar, which features buttons for Home, Browse, Search, Radio, and Your Library.


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