Android Wear 2.0 finally arrives, alongside two LG watches made in collaboration with Google

At long last, the first Android Wear 2.0 watches have arrived. Rumored for months and subjected to endless leaks, they are indeed a collaboration between LG and Google, but if you’re looking for a “Pixel watch” or even a “Made by Google” seal of approval, you might be disappointed.lg watches

The new watches, which will be available for purchase tomorrow, are LG watches through and through. The box may say they were “designed with our friends at Google,” but you won’t find the “G” logo anywhere on it. And if you’ve been keeping up with the rumor mill, there won’t be many surprises.

The new Android Wear watches may technically be a collaboration, but we’re still waiting for a true Made by Google or Pixel watch. These aren’t even really Nexus watches, since the OS is the same across all Android Wear devices, but they should set the tone for future Android wearables. Circular faces are certainly here to stay, but it’s also likely we’ll start seeing crowns, dedicated app buttons, and NFC sensors in future watches as Google takes another big swing at bringing Android Wear mainstream. There’s a lot of ground to cover to catch up with Apple, but this launch should serve as kind of a reboot for Google’s wearable platform, injecting a bit of excitement and turning an eye toward the future.

There are two sizes to choose from, Sport and Style, with the latter geared toward slighter wrists. The larger model features a 1.38-inch P-OLED screen with a 480 x 480 resolution and 348 ppi, while the smaller variant sports a 360 x 360 1.2-inch P-OLED with 299 ppi. Both watches feature a 1.1GHz Snapdragon Wear 2100 chip and 4GB of storage.

lg watches side

They also both include built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, as well as an accelerometer and gyroscope for fitness tracking, but the Sport model packs a ton of extra functionality into its rather thick body, including GPS, LTE, NFC, and a heart rate sensor. That means the smaller Style model won’t be able to do much of anything without having a phone nearby, and even when tethered it still won’t be able to take advantage of Android Pay, one of the marquee features of Android Wear 2.0.

Besides the extra sensors and chips, adding to the Sport’s 14.2mm thickness is a 430mAh battery, versus 240mAh on the Style model. The Sport also includes more RAM (768 vs. 512), and IP68 water and dust resistance, besting the Style’s IP67 rating.

The two watches are available in a variety of colors, with the Sport coming in titanium and dark blue finishes, and the svelte Style dressed in softer silver, titanium, and rose gold hues. Additionally, the Sport model includes a “high performance elastomer strap,” while the fashion-geared Style is paired with “snap-and-swap 18mm leather and silicone bands so you can quickly switch bands to match your look or the occasion.

lg watches2

Additionally, both watches will include a rotating power button, akin to Apple Watch’s Digital Crown, for scrolling, accessing apps, and summoning Google Assistant. Furthermore, the Sport watch includes two hardware buttons dedicated to launching Android Pay and Google Fit.

Both watches will be available Feb. 10 in the online Google Store (the only way to purchase the dark blue Sport variant), and the $250 Style will also be sold at Best Buy. The LTE-enabled Sport model will cost $350 and be available at Verizon and AT&T stores as well, and Google says the watches will be coming to Canada, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Taiwan, UAE, and U.K.in the coming weeks.

As previously announced, Android Wear 2.0 is a major revamp of Google’s wearables OS, with interface and navigation tweaks throughout, and a handful of new features. The two watches are the first devices to run Android Wear 2.0, but it will be coming to a slew of existing models, including the ASUS ZenWatch 2 & 3, Huawei Watch, LG Watch R and Urbane, Moto 360 2nd Gen and Sport, and many others.

sport dark blue 4

Among the improvements to the platform are better watch face personalization with third-party app integration and new fitness tracking for pace, distance, calories burned, and reps. There’s also a new on-watch Play Store for installing apps without needing to pick up your phone (or install a phone app), as well as tighter integration with messaging apps. Now, you will be able to expand notifications as they arrive, and “tap to respond by dictating, typing or handwriting your answer, or drawing an emoji.”

The new update also brings Google Assistant to the wrist for the first time. Like the Pixel phones, it will initially only be available in English and German on Android Wear, but Google promises an expansion to other languages in the coming months. And the  button functionality won’t be limited to the LG phones. As Google explains, Google Assistant can be summoned by saying “OK Google,” or by holding down the power button on your watch, so presumably it will be a requirement for watch makers.

Also coming with the new update is support for Android Pay. All watches fitted with NFC chips will be able to pay at checkout counters by holding their watches next to a credit card terminal. Google has already updated its Play Store listing with the relevant info, but currently the only watch to support mobile Android Pay is the LG Sport. However, new supported watches should begin hitting shelves soon enough.

lg watch style

Right on cue, VentureBeat has posted a photo of the upcoming ZTE Quartz, which has just received its Bluetooth certification. Based on the pictures, there’s just a single power button on the watch, so it’s unclear whether other phone makers will build dedicated buttons to access Android Pay like LG has done. But NFC and Android Pay is sure to be a standard feature of all new models being released.

This story, “Android Wear 2.0 finally arrives, alongside two LG watches made in collaboration with Google” was originally published by Greenbot.

Hyve Pryme Launched in India: Price, Specifications, and More

Hyve Pryme Launched in India: Price, Specifications, and More
The smartphone supports 4G VoLTE
Hyve Pryme runs on Android 6.0 Marshmallow
Smartphone comes with a large 3500mAh battery
Hyve Mobility has launched its new flagship smartphone, the Hyve Pryme, in India. Featuring a deca-core SoC, it will be available exclusively via Amazon India pre-registrations for which will open on November 20. The smartphone has been priced at Rs. 17,999.

The dual-SIM Hyve Pryme runs Android 6.0 Marshmallow, and features 4G VoLTE capability. It sports a 5.7-inch full-HD (1080×1920 pixels) display. The smartphone packs a 2.3GHz deca-core MediaTek Helio X20 processor coupled with 4GB of RAM. It comes with 32GB of inbuilt storage, which is expandable via microSD card (up to 200GB).

In terms of optics, Hyve Pryme comes with an 13-megapixel rear camera with dual-tone LED flash, and an 8-megapixel camera at the front with LED flash. The company claims that the smartphone has the best-in-class camera that supports HDR photography.
The smartphone houses a large 3500mAh battery and is available in Champagne colour. In terms of connectivity options the Hyve Pryme offers options like 4G VoLTE, Wi-Fi 802.11 ac, Bluetooth 4.1, GPS, and USB Type-C. The phone measures and 154.8×79.9×8.35mm and weighs 188 grams. It also features an IR blaster for remotely controlling your devices.

“MediaTek’s collaboration with Hyve is a benchmark for both organizations as we bring forward our best technologies to develop and deliver outstanding smartphone experience for the consumers. The new Hyve smartphone, Pryme, is enabled with MediaTek’s flagship Helio X20 SoC, which is embedded with a tri-cluster CPU that will allow the smartphone to multitask efficiently by shifting workload from one cluster to another, thereby delivering an extreme computing performance and unmatched power efficiency,” Arthur Wang, senior director, MediaTek Corporate Sales International, was quoted as saying in the release.
Hyve Pryme Hyve Pryme
KEY SPECS
NEWS
Display
5.70-inch
Processor
2.3GHz
Front Camera
8-megapixel
Resolution
1080×1920 pixels
RAM
4GB
OS
Android 6.0
Storage
32GB
Rear Camera
13-megapixel
Battery Capa

Samsung Galaxy TabPro S Gold Edition With 8GB RAM, 256GB SDD, and Windows 10 Launched

Samsung Galaxy TabPro S Gold Edition With 8GB RAM, 256GB SDD, and Windows 10 Launched

  • The Galaxy TabPro S Gold Edition features 8GB of RAM and 256GB SSD
  • The device features an Intel Core M3 processor clocked at 2.2GHz
  • Available in the US via Samsung’s online store and Best Buy for $999.99

Samsung in January launched the Galaxy TabPro S, which was the first Galaxy device running Windows 10 OS, instead of Android. The South Korean giant has now launched a new version of the TabPro S, covered in Gold and sporting upgraded specifications. The device is suitably called the Galaxy TabPro S Gold Edition and will be available in the US via Samsung’s online store and Best Buy starting Saturday for $999.99 (roughly Rs. 66,700).

Apart from the new paint job, the Galaxy TabPro S Gold Edition has a few buffed up specifications compared to the regular version. While the Galaxy TabPro Swas launched with 4GB of RAM and 128GB SDD, the Gold version packs double the memory and storage with 8GB of RAM and 256GB SSD.

The rest of the specifications are similar to that of the previous model. The Galaxy TabPro S Gold Edition running Windows 10 features the same 12-inch 2,160×1,440 Super AMOLED display with an Intel Core M3 processor clocked at 2.2GHz.

The Galaxy TabPro S Gold Edition also sports 5-megapixel cameras on the front and the back. The device is powered by a 5200mAh battery pack that will deliver up to 10.5 hours of battery life on a single charge. It also comes with fast charging capability that will fully charge the device in 2.5 hours.

Connectivity options include Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, a USB Type-C port, among others. The Galaxy TabPro S Gold Edition measures at 290.3×198.8×6.35mm and weighs around 694 grams, which pretty much match that of the older version.

There is no word yet on when and if the Galaxy TabPro S will be available in India. Given that the older Galaxy TabPro S is yet to hit the stores in the country even though it was expected in April, it is unlikely that Indian customers will see the new Gold Edition any time soon.

Samsung Galaxy TabPro S Gold Edition

Samsung Galaxy TabPro S Gold Edition

Display

12.00-inch

Processor

2.2GHz

Front Camera

5-megapixel

Resolution

2160×1440 pixels

RAM

8GB

OS

Windows 10

Storage

256GB

Rear Camera

5-megapixel

Battery capacity

5200mAh

 

HTC HD2 Made to Run Android 7.0 Nougat, 7 Years After It Was Launched

HTC HD2 Made to Run Android 7.0 Nougat, 7 Years After It Was Launched

  • The HTC HD2 was launched in November 2009
  • The device managed to run the latest Android 7.0 Nougat OS
  • The ROM was built by XDA Developer macs18x

HTC’s long-living HD2 may very well go down in history as the phone that survived it all. Quite literally, the seven-year old phone has long been subjected to experiments by modders who would load every new software into the phone only to see it work – right up to the present generation.

After being made to run Android 6.0 Marshmallow in December, the once huge-specced device has now managed to run the latest Android 7.0 Nougat operating system, giving even the latest smartphones a run for their money. The ROM was built by XDA Developer macs18x, who booted a phone that has so far survived Lollipop, Marshmallow, and even Windows Phone 8, and Windows RT operating systems, on a measly 448MB of RAM.

For nostalgia sake, the HTC HD2 was launched in November 2009 and came with some mighty big specs (for its time), with a 1GHz single-core processor, 4.3-inch display with a 480×800 resolution, a 5-megapixel rear camera, 512MB ROM, and a 1230mAh battery. While these specs may seem laughable in the present day, it was, however, a big deal not too long ago.

Though the HTC HD2 managed to boot the latest Android OS, the device itself is limited to only audio and Wi-Fi connectivity. Given that the device only features half a gigabyte of RAM, expecting anything more would perhaps be pushing it. While the average life expectancy of a smartphone today is fairly low, the HTC HD2 (and its modders) simply refuses to throw in the towel.

We’ll just have to wait until the next version of Android rolls out to see whether the HTC HD2 can continue its reign.

 

Apple, Samsung Struggle in Face of Chinese Competition

Apple, Samsung Struggle in Face of Chinese Competition

The global launch of the iPhone 7 on Friday is crucial to Apple’s fortunes in China, but both it and its biggest rival Samsung, hit by a recall over exploding batteries, are struggling in the face of upstart local competitors.

The US and South Korean firms were relegated to fourth and fifth place respectively in the Asian giant’s smartphone market in the first half of this year, according to consultancy Canalys.

Ahead of them came three Chinese firms, leader Huaweiwith a 16 percent share, then two companies little known elsewhere, Vivo and Oppo.

Apple faces “a lot of challenges and pressures” in China from local manufacturers who are “developing medium- to high-end handsets and offer a lot of flagship products”, said Canalys China analyst Jessie Ding.

The iPhone 7 – which comes with an improved camera, a water resistant body and minus an earphone jack – “doesn’t have many innovative features”, she said, pointing out that its double camera function was available on a Huawei smartphone six months ago, and it lacks wireless charging capabilities.

In its most recent quarterly results, Apple said Greater China dropped from second to third place among its markets in the April-June period – when market research firm IDC says its iPhone sales collapsed by 32 percent year-on-year.

For its part, Samsung has had to recall 2.5 million of its flagship Galaxy Note 7 handsets after faulty batteries caused some to explode during charging.

The company has handled the issue badly, said Neil Mawston of Strategy Analytics, with slow decision-making, poor communications and a lack of coordination, and its image risks suffering.

“Brand loyalty is not as strong in China as in other markets,” he told AFP. “It’s a very crowded, fragmented market and fiercely competitive, with rivals undercutting each other with price and design. So it’s not a market you can afford to falter in.”

Low-priced Chinese competitors have been “particularly troublesome” for Samsung, which has in the past sought to offer phones across all price ranges, he added.

It has responded by trying to focus on the mid- and high-end sector with improved models, which could make the recall especially damaging.

And now, he added, “the Chinese companies are producing higher-end smartphones as well – and with a large degree of success.

“In the last three or four years, local Chinese brands have been on a roll, fuelled by a swell of national pride in ‘brand China’.”

Aggressive marketing
Chinese manufacturers’ great advantage remains price: Huawei’s P9 boasts similar capabilities to the iPhone 7 but is almost a third cheaper.

There is no official ranking of smartphone sales in China, and several different consultancies put out figures.

Oppo – an unknown in the West – has experienced a meteoric rise since it launched in 2011, and according to Counterpoint Research, it became China’s number one smartphone brand in June, when its market share jumped to 23 percent.

It is aiming squarely for the low end of the market.

“Oppo has adopted a simple but effective strategy, going after the offline market… using aggressive marketing, promotions and sponsorships… beyond tier-2 and tier-3 cities,” said Counterpoint Research director Neil Shah.

Vivo, part of BKK Electronics, the same conglomerate that owns Oppo – employs similar methods, investing heavily in marketing to build up its brand image, and on a vast distribution network that extends to China’s smaller and poorer cities and towns.

Blocked services
Apple still benefits from its luxury image and “the strong loyalty of its long-time users” in China, said Fu Liang, an independent analyst based in Beijing.

“The enduring image of Apple brand products as well as existing customer loyalty will continue very strongly,” he said.

But the Californian firm sometimes has to contend with the country’s Communist authorities, despite regular visits from chief executive Tim Cook, who has made two so far this year and promised in August to open a large research and development centre in the country.

Apple’s iTunes Movies and iBooks services launched in China earlier this year, but were then promptly blocked by Beijing.

The firm has sometimes been targeted by state-owned Chinese media on issues of customer service, and they have prominently reported alleged security vulnerabilities on Apple devices.

More broadly, said Mawston of Strategy Analytics, “Samsung – and Apple – face similar challenges in China.

“There are serious distribution challenges, the fact that Chinese consumers tend to favour Chinese brands, as well as Chinese-language software that links well with Chinese social networks.”

 

Neffos X1, Neffos X1 Max Metal-Clad Smartphones Launched at IFA 2016

Neffos X1, Neffos X1 Max Metal-Clad Smartphones Launched at IFA 2016TP-Link, a popular networking product manufacturer, has unveiled two new smartphones – the Neffos X1 and Neffos X1 Max – at IFA 2016.

The Neffos X1 has been priced at EUR 199 (roughly Rs. 15,000) while the Neffos X1 Max has been priced at EUR 249 (roughly Rs. 18,650). Both the smartphones will come in Cloud Grey and Sunrise Gold colours. Both the new Neffos smartphones are expected to go on sale in the fourth quarter.

The Neffos X1 features a 5-inch HD display with a pixel density of 294ppi. It is powered by a Helio P10 octa-core MT6755M processor (four cores at 1.8GHz and four cores at 1GHz). The smartphone will be available in 2GB of RAM and 16GB of storage as well as 3GB of RAM with 32GB of storage models. Unfortunately, the company has not revealed pricing details of the later model. It supports expandable storage via microSD card (up to 128GB). The smartphone sports a 13-megapixel rear camera with PDAF (phase detection autofocus) and a 5-megapixel front camera. It packs a 2250mAh battery. The Neffos X1 supports dual-SIM and both the SIMs support 4G connectivity. It measures 142x71x7.95mm.

The Neffos X1 Max, on the other hand, features a 5.5-inch full-HD display with a pixel density of 403ppi. Much like the Neffos X1, the Neffos X1 Max is powered by a Helio P10 (MT6755) octa-core processor (four cores at 2GHz and four cores at 1.2GHz). It will be also available in two models featuring 3GB of RAM with 32GB of storage and another with 4GB of RAM with 64GB of storage. It supports expandable storage via microSD card (up to 128GB). It sports the same camera module as the Neffos X1. The X1 Max is backed by a 3000mAh battery. It measures 153x76x7.7mm.

Snapdragon 800, 801 SoCs Said to Lack Support for Android 7.0 Nougat

Snapdragon 800, 801 SoCs Said to Lack Support for Android 7.0 Nougat

  • Rumour suggests Nougat update will not come to older Qualcomm devices
  • Due to presence of Vulken API, older devices will not get the update
  • Snapdragon 800/801 devices not getting graphic driver updates

There are some rumours that are easy to dismiss but then there are others that are backed by some information that provides them some level of authenticity. A new rumour that is doing rounds suggests that the devices with either Snapdragon 800 or 801 CPU will not be eligible to get an official Android 7.0 Nougat update.

According to the HTC-focused mobile developerLlabTooFer, who has provided several HTC-related tips in the past, Android 7.0 Nougat update will not be officially released for the HTC One M8 or other devices running the Snapdragon 800 or Snapdragon 801 CPUs because Qualcomm has not made corresponding graphics drivers for the new Vulkan API is present in the latest version of Android to improve gaming performance.

Due to Vulken API, Qualcomm has decided to not release graphics drivers for the devices with its older CPUs, making it impossible for OEMs (and apparently, even Google, for the LG Nexus 5) to provide official Android 7.0 Nougat updates for them.

When Android 7.0 Nougat update started rolling out earlier this week, it became clear that it won’t be making its way to Nexus 5 as other recent Nexus devices were provided with the latest version of Google’s mobile platform. Considering that Nexus 5 comes equipped with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 CPU, the rumour seems plausibly true as of now.

If this information indeed turns out to be true, there will a host of Android devices that will be left out of the Nougat treatment by the California-based company. Such devices include the likes of Samsung Galaxy S5, LG G2, LG G3, OnePlus X, and HTC One M8.

 

6 ways to take control of your Android apps

6 ways to take charge of your Android appsYou’ve got a lot more power over your various Android apps than you might think. For example, you can decide when and how your apps update themselves, or whether they get to install home-screen shortcuts automatically. If you feel an app is slowing down your handset, you can shut it down, or clear the “cache” of a storage-hogging app. You can even rein in an app that’s decided to become the default for your device’s core features (like the camera, or the clock).

Read on for six ways to take control of your Android apps, starting with…

Note: the following tips are for phones and tablets running on the Lollipop version of Android and using the Google Now launcher. The steps may vary for devices running customized versions of Android.

Shut down an app that’s using too much memory (or is otherwise cramping your style)

Your Android device can only do so many things at once. If just one of your apps gets too greedy with the modest amount of memory on your phone or tablet, your handset’s performance may slow to a crawl.

Shut down an app that’s using too much memoryBEN PATTERSON
Got a memory-hogging app on your phone? There’s an easy way to stop it in its tracks.

Luckily, there’s an easy way to find out which of your apps is using the most memory—and once you pinpoint the culprit, you can stop the app in its tracks. Doing so won’t delete the app, mind you; instead, think of it as pulling the plug until you relaunch the misbehaving application.

  • Tap Settings > Apps, then swipe to the Running tab.
  • Scroll through the list of apps. If you see anything that’s using an inordinate amount of memory, go ahead and tap it. (Don’t worry, you haven’t done anything to the app yet.)
  • Tap Stop to close the app, but make sure to heed any warnings above the Stop button. Think long and hard before stopping a core Android or Settings process. You’ll know them by their telltale Android and gear icons—and generally speaking, you should leave them alone. Don’t be surprised when an app you stop no longer works (especially in the case of messaging apps).

Bonus tip: If a memory-hogging app seems particularly unstable, you can tap the Report button (right next to the Stop button) to send a complaint to Google.

Clear all the data of a storage-hogging app

Memory isn’t the only precious resource your various Android apps are using on your device; there’s also storage, the vault of data on your handset that will, sooner or later, begin running out of room.

Clear the “cache” or all the data of a storage-hogging appBEN PATTERSON
You can junk an app’s temporary “cache” files in just a few taps.

Some apps, like games, are just plain big, gobbling up gigabyte-sized chunks of storage. Others, like podcast managers or document readers, aren’t all that large themselves, but the files they handle can get fairly hefty. And just about every app on your phone or tablet lays claim to small “caches” of temporary data that, taken together, can add up to hundreds of megabytes.

As with your device’s memory, you can check how much storage your Android apps are using, and you can quickly delete their data caches, which can usually be tossed without causing any grief. You could also nix all their data, which will free up more storage, but could wipe out your personal settings and potentially crucial files.

  • Tap Settings > Storage > Apps, find an app that might be using more than its fair share of storage (you can also tap the three-dot button in the corner of the screen and select Sort by size), and check the size of its cache and stored data.
  • Tap Clear Cache to clean out the app’s temporary data, or Clear Data to zap all the app’s stored data—keeping in mind, of course, that the latter option will wipe any personalized settings, documents, media files, or anything else you’ve created, collected, edited or otherwise saved using the app.

Bonus tip: You can delete cached data files for all your apps at once by tapping Settings> Storage > Cached data, then tap OK when the ‘Clear cached data?’ pop-up appears.

Decide whether apps can auto-update themselves

By default, your Android phone or tablet regularly checks in with the Google Play app store to see if any updates are available—and if there are any, the updates will be downloaded and installed automatically.

Decide whether apps can auto-update themselvesBEN PATTERSON
If you’d rather update your apps manually, there’s a setting for that.

That’s the default behavior for your apps, anyway. If you’d rather update your apps manually, there’s a setting for that.

  • Launch the Play Store app, tap the menu button in the top-left corner of the screen, then tap Settings > Auto-update apps.
  • Now, go ahead and pick a setting. Among your options: Don’t auto-update apps at all, auto-update apps over Wi-Fi only (a smart choice for anyone with a capped cellular data plan), or auto-update apps any time there’s a data connection, Wi-Fi and cellular data included.

Stop an app from taking over your phone’s browser, camera, or other core feature

If you install, say, a new web browser on your Android device, you’ll eventually be asked which of your current browsers you’d like to use to open a link in a non-browser app (like Gmail). If you tap “Always” after picking a browser, the app you chose will become the default browser for every link you open moving ahead.

Stop an app from taking over your phone’s browser, camera, or other core featureBEN PATTERSON
You can ask your Android device to “forget” any default actions for a specific app.

So far, so good. But what if you change your mind? There’s no easy way to directly pick a new default browser (or chat app, camera app, etc.), but you can ask your device to “forget” any default actions for a specific app. Once you’ve reset an app’s default behavior (such as for your browser), you’ll eventually be asked which app you’d like to use for a specific action (such as opening URLs).

Just tap Settings > Apps, pick an app from the Downloaded list, scroll down to the Launch by Default heading, then tap Clear Defaults.

Bonus tip: For a shortcut to an app’s App Info screen (where you’ll find the Clear Data, Clear Cache, and Clear Defaults buttons), open your device’s app drawer (for most Android handsets, tap the center button at the bottom of the screen), tap and hold an app’s icon, then drag it up and into the App Info icon.

Stop apps from installing shortcut icons on the home screen

No, you’re not imagining things: Your home screen is getting more and more cluttered. The reason: each time you install a new app, it automatically adds its own shortcut icon to your home screen.

Stop apps from installing shortcut icons on the home screenBEN PATTERSON
Keep your home screen from getting cluttered by stopping new apps from auto-adding home-screen shortcuts.

If you’d rather new apps left your home screen alone until you decided to create a shortcut on your own, here’s what you can do: Open the Play Store app, tap the menu button, tap Settings, then clear out the checkbox labeled ‘Add icon to Home screen.’

Keep an app from setting off alerts, or let an app give you more alerts

Some apps just don’t know when to stop when it comes to alerts and notifications—and indeed, you’ve probably got some pushy apps that you’d like to shut up, permanently.

Keep an app from setting off alerts, or let an app give you more alertsBEN PATTERSON
You can permanently muzzle an app’s notifications—or, on the flip side, allow an app to send you even more alerts than it normally would.

On the flip side, maybe there’s an app on your phone or tablet you’d like to hear more from, with its alerts and notifications popping onto your screen even when your handset is set to Priority mode (which screens all but the most important calls and messages).

To tinker with an app’s notification settings, try this:

  • Tap Settings > Sound & notification > App notifications, then pick an app from the list.
  • Toggle on the Block setting to muzzle all of an app’s notifications, or flip on the Priority setting to make sure an app’s alerts appear above most others, and continue to ding while Priority mode is on.

Your brand new phone could still have malware

android malware
A new phone is supposed to be a clean slate. But alarmingly, that’s not always the case.

Security company G Data has identified more than 20 mobile phones that have malware installed despite being marketed as new, according to a research report. And it doesn’t appear the infection is occurring during manufacturing.

“Somebody is unlocking the phone and putting the malware on there and relocking the phone,” said Andy Hayter, security evangelist for G Data.

Many of the suspect phones are sold in Asia and Europe through third parties or middleman and aren’t coming directly from the manufacturers, Hayter said.

Brands of affected phones include Xiaomi, Huawei, Lenovo, Alps, ConCorde, DJC, Sesonn and Xido.

G Data has contacted some manufacturers, including Lenovo, whose S860 Android smartphone in one instance was found to have the malware.

Ray Gorman, Lenovo’s executive director of external communications, wrote in an email that the device G Data analyzed came from a third-party marketplace. The malware was installed by middlemen, he wrote.

“This is the only such occurrence we have been made aware of,” Gorman wrote. “We always recommend customers transact with authorized distribution channels and only accept merchandise that comes in an official box with original factory seals.”

The malware is embedded in a legitimate app, such as Facebook, which is sometimes preinstalled on phones, Hayter said. It can read and send text messages, install other apps, collect and change call data, grab location information, record phone calls or send premium SMSes, according to G Data’s report.

It’s impossible for consumers to remove since it resides inside the phone’s firmware.

“You can’t take it off there unless you unlock the phone,” Hayter said.

G Data was alerted to the problem after receiving support calls from users who said a file had been quarantined but that it couldn’t be removed.

The problem has been around for a while. In June 2014, G Data said it found malware in the firmware of a relatively inexpensive Android device made by the Chinese manufacturer Star.

The company’s analysts bought Star’s N9500 and found malware that purported to be an app for Google’s Play Store. The malware, they found, could not be deleted.

In early 2014, Marble Security found malware embedded within Netflix’s app that had been preinstalled on six mobile devices made by Samsung Electronics.

That malware grabbed credit card information and passwords and sent it to a server in Russia.

Huawei Honor 7 review: solid mid-range with lightning-fast fingerprint scanner

Huawei Honor 7 review

The brief for Huawei’s Honor 7 is straightforward: make a solid smartphone that don’t break the bank.

It doesn’t pretend to be a “flagship killer”, and isn’t, but in a market that is full of good offerings for under £250, including the new OnePlus 2 and third-generation Moto G, can the, arguably, fastest fingerprint scanner in the business make it stand out?

Simple, understated design

Huawei Honor 7 review

The Honor 7 has a simple, relatively attractive design. The body is metal, although it has a coating on it that gives it a premium plastic-like feel. The front is all glass with a selfie cam and front-facing flash. The rear has a camera that sticks out and a fingerprint scanner below – it’s all quite understated.

Build quality is just above average: the body flexes when twisted and the plastic top and bottom corners feel like they will be marked quite easily if dropped.

The 5.2in full HD screen looks remarkably crisp and good, but side-by-side with the quad HD screens with higher pixel densities such as the 5.1in screen of the Galaxy S6 it is noticeably less dense.

The Honor 7 compares favourably to the OnePlus 2, which has a similar 1080p screen.

At 8.5mm the phone is relatively thin and light for the mid-range price. Compared to the OnePlus 2 for instance, it is 1.35mm thinner and 18g lighter.

Beyond the standard power and volume buttons, the Honor 7 also has an extra customisable button. A short press, long press and double press can all be tied to custom actions such as launching the camera or used to launch an app such as Twitter or Facebook. It works well, but gets pressed quite a lot by accident as it is opposite the power and volume buttons.

Specifications

  • Screen: 5.2in full HD LCD (424ppi)
  • Processor: Octa-core Huawei Kirin 935
  • RAM: 3GB of RAM
  • Storage: 16GB + microSD card
  • Operating system: Android 5.0 “Lollipop” with Emotion UI
  • Camera: 20MP rear camera, 8MP front-facing camera
  • Connectivity: Dual-sim, LTE, Wi-Fi, NFC, Bluetooth 4.1 and GPS
  • Dimensions: 143.2 x 71.9 x 8.5mm
  • Weight: 157g

Home-grown hardware

Huawei Honor 7 review

The Honor 7 contains Huawei’s Kirin 935 octa-core processor. Perfomance is solid, if not astounding, only stuttering slightly with some graphically rich gaming, while 3GB of RAM is plenty for multitasking according to the built-in RAM monitor.

The phone handled everything I threw at it without issue, and didn’t suffer from any heat issues, unlike Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 810.

The battery lasted around one day on the phone’s “Smart” power profile, which claims to best balance performance with battery life, returning to the charger at night with 20% battery left. That was with hundreds of push notifications, email, Twitter, Facebook, music streaming and an hour of browsing.

It’s worth noting that the screen’s 50% brightness was far too dim to see anything, and the automatic brightness setting often made the screen quite bright, which will eat into the battery life.

Emotion UI not up to scratch

Huawei Honor 7 review
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Huawei Photograph: Samuel Gibbs for the Guardian

The Honor 7 runs Huawei’s modified version of Android 5.0 called “Emotion UI”. It is the same version as running on the Huawei P8 and has the same benefits and pitfalls.

Briefly, there is no app drawer making it like an iPhone with every app on the home screen; the notification tray looks and behaves differently with some apps spitting out multiple notifications; most app icons have a coloured background, which looks a mess, and other apps have custom icons, which look a bit warped, such as Instagram.

The standard Android Lollipop experience is much more attractive and slick.

For more details about Emotion UI please see the software section of the Huawei P8 review.

Camera

Huawei Honor 7 review

The Honor 7 comes with a 20-megapixel camera on the back and an 8-megapixel fixed-focus selfie cam which, unusually, has its own flash placed on the other side of the handset’s ear speaker.

Images from the rear camera are rich in detail and relatively accurate in colour. The f/2.4 lens isn’t quite up to par with the best in the industry, from LG and Samsung with their 1.9 and 2.0 lenses, which means a shallow depth of field and pleasing bokeh effect is difficult to obtain.

Overall, it’s a decent camera with good low-light performance, on par with the likes of the OnePlus 2.

The front-facing camera can take good images but lacks range and, being fixed focus, is a curious choice for an 8-megapixel camera. It means that everything ends up in focus – or, if you get too close, nothing is in focus. The LED flash is also not very bright.

The camera app is very iPhone-like. A simple photo selector on the left, with options to enable HDR and a load of other features buried behind a menu. It can sometimes be a bit sluggish to take photos. The camera’s beauty modes can also produce some scary pale, bug-eyed photos.

Lightning fast fingerprint scanner

Huawei Honor 7 review

Arguably the best fingerprint scanner on the market, and the best thing about the Honor 7, the sensor just below the camera on the back is so quick and accurate you think it’s broken.

It’s easy to hit with your index finger and unlocks the phone in under 0.5 seconds. A simple tap is enough – no long pressing and hoping. It’s even faster and more accurate than Apple’s much vaunted Touch ID on the iPhone.

Unfortunately, like the OnePlus 2, the Honor 7’s fingerprint sensor can’t be used in third-party apps such as Evernote or LastPass. Android 6 Marshmallow will introduce native fingerprint support into Android and hopefully expand support for the Honor 7 and other smartphones’ fingerprint sensors, beyond Samsung’s.

Price

The Honor 7 will be available via Huawei’s online store for £250, which makes it £10 more expensive than the 16GB OnePlus 2. For comparison a 32GB Samsung Galaxy S6 costs £415 and an LG G4 costs £340. Huawei’s P8 costs £360.

Huawei Honor 7 review

Verdict

The Honor 7 is a solid mid-range smartphone with some great features. The fingerprint sensor is the fastest in the business – all fingerprint sensors should be that easy and quick to use.

The camera is solid, it has dual-sim or microSD card support, and the extra customisable button is a nice touch.

Its biggest problem is its software. Emotion UI is just not as attractive, user friendly or well designed as the standard Android 5 Lollipop experience.

Overall, the Honor 7 is good value from a more mainstream Chinese smartphone brand, that you actually buy from a store, but may not be enough to justify spending £100 more than a solid budget offering.

Pros: fantastic fingerprint scanner, solid camera, decent screen, microSD card slot, quick charge, decent performance, no thermal issues

Cons: no wireless charging, Emotion UI isn’t good, selfie cam is fixed focus, build quality isn’t as good as some rivals, second sim only 2G