Vernee Apollo has Helio X20, 6GB RAM, Force touch and 128GB memory

Vernee are an all new brand with an all new phone named the Vernee Apollo boasting a Helio X20 chipset and 21 mega-pixel rear camera.

Vernee is a new brand owned by a well established smartphone OEM. According to the Vernee team it’s highly likely that you have already owned a phone built in their factory, and that their decision to build their own brand is to ensure quality phones at cut down prices.


Bluboo Picasso 4G – NFC support confirmed

Bluboo seem to be listening to the customer feedback and they are adding a NFC function to the upcoming model Picasso 4G, the slightly innovated version of the original Picasso. Such additions are always welcome and we can just applaud and call for more from the others.

NFC or Near Field Communication is a wireless comm technology allowing the electronic devices to communicate within a very short range. It’s mostly used in contactless payments or data transfer. Thanks to the NFC support the phone can serve as a kind of “mobile wallet” and can substitute the credit card, so you can use it for example paying in parking automats, tickets booths or maybe opening doors instead of an electronic lock.


Cubot gives Cubot Max buyers a chance to ‘convert’ $1 into $60

We’ve seen these in the past, and it’s probably being done again because it’s worked. If which is the case, I’m surprised! Anyway, here’s how Cubot can ‘convert’ your $1 into $60.

Any customers that place an order on the $0.99 deposit before 12:00 AM Sep. 12 (GMT+8) can enjoy $60 off with exclusive COUPON CODE sent on 17:00 PM Sep.12 (GMT+8).

Use this coupon code and pay the remaining balance before 12:00 AM Sep. 17 (GMT+8). Enjoy priority in delivery! There’ll also be free gifts (Including Tempered Glass Screen Protector and Finger Grip Holder)!


You can now get a taste of Android 7 Nougat on the OnePlus 3

An unofficial CyanogenMod 14 build (based on Android 7.0 Nougat) has been put together for the OnePlus 3, giving its users a chance to get a taste of Android 7.0 before it becomes officially available for the flagship phone.

The ROM comes courtesy XDA Developers user Taker18. Since it’s a very early build, you should expect to have some (maybe more than just some) bugs on the ROM, which hopefully will get ironed out with updates.


Poor G5 sales be damned: LG expects its best second quarter since 2014

Samsung is not the only South Korean phone maker in town that expects a strong second quarter, as fellow South Korean outfit LG expects a two-year high in operating profit, reports Reuters.
According to LG, through a regulatory filing, the company likely made 585 billion won, or $504 million, in operating profit from April to June. That represents the highest operating profit LG has seen since the second quarter of 2014, when the company made 610 billion won, or roughly $531 million.
Analysts believe most of the operating profit comes from LG’s appliances businesses, with unusually warm weather and major sporting events like the 2016 UEFA European Championship as influential factors. Furthermore, the lowering prices of display panels might have helped increase profit margins.

More MOBI, fewer problems: here’s how to get EPUB books on your Kindle

Ebook readers are a nice tool for people who like to do a lot of reading on the go, and Amazon’s various Kindles are among the best. Although the devices provide good performance in an attractive frame, Kindles do have one notable drawback — they do not support the EPUB format. For those unaware, EPUB is one of the most common ebook formats. It’s open-source and free to use, and as such, is supported by most ebook readers aside from the Kindle. EPUB is also a popular format for free ebooks, such as the public domain texts on sites like Project Gutenberg. As such, Kindle users may be miffed to learn they can’t read them.

Qualcomm's Snapdragon 821 will come loaded in smartphones, VR headsets this year

More than 115 flagship smartphones and tablets out this year run Qualcomm’s flagship Snapdragon 820 processor, but the company has dethroned the 820 for a new successor, the Snapdragon 821.
The Snapdragon 820 was already heralded for its speed and processing power when it was announced late last year — it has proven itself as the industry leader as it powers flagship devices like Samsung’s Galaxy S7 Edge, the LG G5, the HTC 10, and the Sony Xperia X.

But starting this fall, expect to see more devices packed with the Snapdragon 821, which Qualcomm says “delivers faster speed, improved power savings, and greater application performance.” To be a little more precise, the Snapdragon 821 offers a 10-percent performance increase over the Snapdragon 820.

Verizon just reached a ‘key milestone’ on the road to 5G

Verizon has reached a “key milestone” on the road to making 5G a reality — it has finalized the specifications for its 5G radio.
According to the company, 5G will deliver “several gigabits per second throughputs and single-millisecond latencies.” In other words, it will be a whole lot faster than the 4G speeds we enjoy today.

“The level of collaboration that we are seeing exceeds what we saw during 4G. This agile way of developing the specification and working with the ecosystem will enable us to get to market rapidly,” said Adam Koeppe, Verizon’s vice president of network technology planning, in a statement.

Microsoft gives thumbs up to Intel’s latest graphics drivers for Surface Pro 4, Book

Back in June, Intel released new drivers for its integrated graphics installed in a number of its Core, Core M, Pentium, Celeron, and Xeon E3-1500M v5 family of processors (pdf). Intel said the new driver set fixed numerous problems causing hangs, crashes, and graphical corruptions previously experienced in applications and PC games. Now Microsoft has given these new Intel HD Graphics drivers the green light to be used on its Surface Book and Surface Pro 4 devices.
In other words, Microsoft is behaving like a true notebook OEM. Although AMD, Nvidia, and Intel continuously release fresh new drivers to the general public, that doesn’t mean they’re compatible with notebook hardware configurations. Notebook components generally can’t be swapped out save for the hard drive and memory, so everything mounted inside needs to work in harmony. OEMs typically customize all drivers to insure that hardware does just that, but the updates are extremely low or seemingly non-existent.

Save a load of cash with our one-click guide to the best Amazon Prime Day deals

Because one day a year celebrating unfettered consumerism isn’t enough, Amazon is once again seeking to dethrone Black Friday with its own sales extravaganza: Prime Day. Available only to people with Amazon Prime memberships, the second annual Prime Day promises to be an unparalleled 24 hours of sales. Not only does Amazon promise “more sales than Black Friday,” but the event takes place entirely online, meaning you’re highly unlikely to end up flattened by frenzied shoppers.

To aid you in your quest for savings, we’ve compiled a list of the offerings that are set to go on sale. If you’ve been saving for a chance to splurge on tech, we’ve got you covered. The madness will begin at 12:01 am PT, July 12. In the days leading up to Prime Day, however, Amazon is offering sets of themed deals to get you in the money-spendin’ mood. We’ll have the tech-centric deals listed here — or the best of them, anyway — so be sure to check back daily for updated sales.

Google is reportedly making two Android Wear smartwatches integrated with Assistant

It’s going to be a busy fall this year for Google. In addition to releasing two Nexus devices and the latest version of Android, now known as Nougat — not to mention the developer kit of the first Project Ara modular phone, Google Home, and another Google-built phone — the search giant may also be working on two Android Wear smartwatches.
The latest rumors come again from Android Police, but this time it’s a rendered image of what the smartwatches may look like. The Android news site attributed the leaked information to a “reliable source” which it did not identify. You know what that means — take this information with a grain of salt, as nothing can be confirmed until Google’s official announcement. Here’s a look:
google smartwatches

You can buy a Nexus 5X or 6P with Copperhead’s secure OS

Privacy is continuing to be at the forefront of many people’s minds these days, and there’s a healthy amount of skepticism and discussion about privacy policies whenever a new product or service is launched. For example, a researcher recently highlighted the amount of app permissions the popular game Pokémon Go needs, and in May several people called out Google for not making its upcoming Allo messaging app end-to-end encrypted by default.

Jumping on the privacy-geared mindset, information security company Copperhead has been working on a custom ROM for Android known as CopperheadOS. You can now buy Google’s latest Nexus devices with this custom operating system pre-installed.


Honor 5X looks like it’s just about to finally get Marshmallow

How long after the debut of a major new Android release does it become acceptable that new handsets arrive with that latest software present? We’re not clueless to the realities of the software development process, and all the testing and re-testing that goes into getting a new release ready for a particular smartphone. Development pipelines are easily months, if not years long, and when a new Android version pops up just weeks before a new phone comes out, we’re not about to start making unrealistic demands.


What can auto makers do to better incorporate mobile technology?

A couple of years ago, Google and Apple both unveiled their latest mobile operating systems. No, I don’t mean mobile as in phones, I mean mobile as in cars. Since then, there has been a steady increase in adoption by auto manufacturers who are bringing this tech to the road. Last year, only a few car manufacturers were able to bring Android Auto and/or Apple CarPlay to their vehicles. This year, the list is much longer, and so it will go until not having a connected vehicle will be the exception rather than the rule. Connected vehicles are coming, do not doubt.


Apple schedules long-rumored March event: bring on the new hardware

The first few months of the new year are no fun for Apple fans: Android and Windows enthusiasts get to check out all sorts of new gear at CES and MWC, while everybody goes gaga over Samsung’s latest flagships. But this year, maybe more than most, there’s been hope of some big Apple news in the spring: for months now, we’ve been hearing rumors about a new four-inch iPhone, and now it finally seems ready to launch. Better still, it could be joined by new iPad hardware, bringing Apple Pencil support to a more traditionally sized tablet. But when could we actually hope to see these new devices launch? Sources late last month suggested Apple was eying a March 21 date, slightly pushed back from earlier March 15 rumors. Now that’s picking up official confirmation, as Apple sends out invites for just such a March 21 event.

The Amazon Echo listens to anyone – even NPR

I’ve had the repeated pleasure of meeting the Boston Globe’s Hiawatha Bray — he writes his Tech Lab column for the newspaper — and have appreciated his “big picture” stories on innovation. He gets into the nitty gritty, too: last time I saw him on my way home, he was toting a Moto X for review.

It’s with that cred that NPR’s Rachel Martin invited Bray for a segment a couple weeks ago on Weekend Edition Sunday about the Amazon Echo and the company’s voice-powered assistant, Alexa.

Apple’s first OLED iPhone might be its biggest yet, with 5.8-inch screen

Apple’s near-term smartphone future may include a return to smaller screens, but for the longer outlook some recent rumors haven’t been talking so much about size, but about screen tech: and namely, when we might see Apple move past the LCD panels it’s been using for years and give us an iPhone with an OLED display. We’ve heard industry reports suggesting that Apple could bring us an OLED iPhone as soon as next year (though others suggest a slower timetable), and now the latest adds another twist to this OLED story, claiming that the iPhone that brings us OLED screens could be Apple’s largest to date.


iPhone 7 rumored to take several thickness-reducing measures, lack waterproofing

Apple-specialized tipsters can never be content speculating about a future iPhone version at a time, so even though the SE, aka 5se or 6c isn’t official yet, there’s plenty of 7 gossip going around for several months now.

The latest report from Japan reiterates and “confirms” a number of past rumors, including the nearly guaranteed headphone jack exclusion, also adding a few new things in the mix. For instance, insiders tell us the iPhone 7 could measure just 6.1mm in depth, a whole millimeter south of the already wasp waist of the 6s.


Nokia is in no rush to make its phone-designing comeback, still seeking partners

If it perhaps felt like Nokia’s own executives and spokespersons weren’t very certain about the company’s future in the consumer hardware-manufacturing field, that’s because the slowly recovering Finnish tech outfit is still focused mainly on the network segment.

Meanwhile, CEO Rajeev Suri at MWC 2016 in Barcelona once again confirmed an interest in designing, then outsourcing actual production and distribution of new Nokia-branded smartphones. But apparently, “there doesn’t need to be a rush”, and the end product(s) must “feel like Nokia, what Nokia was known for.”

New iOS 9.3 beta 4 arrives – but what’s happening with Apple Pencil support?

In Barcelona this week, phone makers are showing off hardware running all variety of mobile platforms: Android, Windows 10 Mobile, Cyanogen OS, Ubuntu, and more. That list is missing at least one very prominent operating system, but it won’t be long now before Apple and iOS are at the center of our attention, with rumors pointing to a mid-March hardware launch event. In preparation for its latest gear, Apple’s been hard at work on its next version of iOS, and going back the past few weeks now we’ve been tracking its progress on iOS 9.3. Today we see the release of the latest iOS 9.3 beta, while we also pick up some possibly troubling news about a change for how an important Apple accessory operates.

MediaTek Helio P20 chipset cranks blazing speeds for the best mid-rangers

MediaTek is still a strong believer in a full-bore approach to applications processing. Its new Helio P20 chipset, just debuted at MWC, shows that belief off.

Still, for a spec sheet that yells of big numbers, the company has put a restraint on what this silicon can power — think “badass mid-range phone,” if you can.

The P20 uses the Cortex-A53 for all eight cores, clockable up to 2.3GHz. It has three RAM bays — two for LPDDR4X at 1.6GHz, one LPDDR3 at 933MHz. A newer Mali T-880 GPU gets into the mix here, clocked at 900MHz. The chipset’s LTE modem is said to offer Category 6 speeds (300Mbps down/50Mbps up).

Verizon 5G network now in mobile field tests, to be ready in 2017

5G is all the darn rage these days. Three of the US’s top-tier carriers have committed to developing the technology including Verizon.

The company took the time at MWC to promote its efforts in collaboration with Ericsson, Intel, Nokia, Qualcomm and Samsung to develop and test every aspect of its 5G standard with regards to speed, latency and scale. Some goals include bringing gigabit wireless broadband to homes, high-traffic concentrations and commercial purposes like telemedicine and mobile blueprinting.

Sony Xperia X family priced in Europe, X and X Performance headed for the US

Knowing Sony’s spotty track record in terms of timely US expansions of its chiefly Asian and European-focused Xperia handhelds, it was only natural to fear the surprising new X, X Performance and XA might never pursue their American dream.

But while we still have no idea exactly when are the “mid-rangers” supposed to start selling stateside and for how much, pre-registration pages on the Japanese OEM’s US website suggest a happy ending is in store.

T-Mobile previews Samsung Galaxy S7 with underwater unboxing video

If you thought Samsung couldn’t possibly one-up the unboxing craziness of that pre-release llama video from last week, well, you were most likely right. But T-Mobile comes pretty darn close with a weirdly hilarious 2-minute underwater clip starring Product Manager, Engineer and Tech Evangelist Des, aka Desmond Smith, mumbling his way through an unorthodox Galaxy S7 unboxing.

The whole thing should probably start with a “don’t try this at home” warning, since the retail container is obviously ruined by water, and we doubt the wall charger, USB cable and SIM card are doing great too.


The San Bernardino iPhone: FBI dismisses iCloud siphoning as victims side against Apple

As the papers, folders, experts, laypeople, presidential candidates and lawyers line up to play their role in what could be the start of a legal saga that will determine how government treads upon encryption, it seems that the party who may hold the most emotional sway in this case have chosen a side.

Stephen Larson, a federal judge turned private lawyer, is now representing some of the victims of the San Bernardino shootings and has said to Reuters that they will file legal briefs on the side of the government.

The government has ordered Apple to create a version of its iOS mobile platform that will allow investigators unlimited attempts at entry into Syed Farook’s iPhone 5c without triggering a data wipe. Farook, along with his wife, killed 14 people and wounded 22 others at the Inland Regional Center in December.

FREETEL continues expansion push with REI at MWC 2016

You can’t blame FREETEL for trying to make a name for itself.

We saw the company make a concerted push of its current smartphones back at CES. Now, it has a new Android Marshmallow phone and, in the spirit of the OPPO F1, it’s got an aluminium back panel with diamond-cut edges. And in the spirit of the more expensive phones this year, it has two rear cameras, too.

Then again, it’s not about the spirit as it is about the beautiful and elegant looks — that’s what the Japanese kanji 麗 (pronounced “rei”) stands for. It also seems wise — as the kanji 怜 symbolizes (again, pronounced “rei”).


Japan Display shows off new Pixel Eyes LCD, gets up hopes of waterproof iPhone 7

A display vendor for Apple’s iPhones has just introduced some cutting edge glass and enhanced tech.

Japan Display Inc. has just started production of its second-generation Pixel Eyes panels. In addition to improved black levels, stylus tip registration down to 1mm and some new sensors and materials. The big “get,” though? Wet finger operation.

That’s what’s getting the rumor mills fired up on this upcoming waterproof iPhone 7. Investors have been betting on it and factories have been working on it. But it seems like Japan Display is getting its work done.


Apple’s four-inch iPhone and new iPad Air tablet could go up for sale in just over a month

Sometime in the last month or two, the idea that Apple’s about to announce a new four-inch iPhone passed somewhere from the stuff of rumors to what was starting to feel a lot more like a certainty. And as reports closed in on a possible March announcement for the new hardware, this once-fanciful notion was on the verge of becoming quite real, indeed. Now we’re looking forward to not only the phone we’re hearing will launch as the iPhone 5se, but also a new iPad Air 3, and maybe even some new Apple Watch hardware. March 15 is our best guess for Apple’s announcement of all this new gear, but assuming that does go down as anticipated, when might this new hardware actually go up for sale? Today, rumors finally start tackling that question.

Samsung Galaxy View tablet now discounted to $449

All glorious 18.4 inches could be yours for the low, low price of…

Well, if $549 wasn’t good enough for you, you probably wouldn’t shell $499 or go to AT&T to find room on your kitchen countertop or fridge for the Samsung Galaxy View at this price.

Amazon, Best Buy and B&H have all taken down the tablet’s price to $449. Just remember that this device would better serve those who love to binge watch something on their mobile phones, but would rather have the phone stand up by itself and be large enough to be seen from a distance of at least three feet.

At least we’ve got stereo speakers in the house.


Get the Nexus 5X even cheaper (starting at $280) on eBay while you can

If you thought the newest upper mid-range “pure Google” phone was an interesting proposition at $380 and up, then a very alluring one at $330, and an outright irresistible bargain when dropped an extra 30 bucks, wait until you hear what eBay seller Buydig has to offer today.

You guessed it, we’ve just reached another Nexus 5X all-time record low price, in both 16 and 32GB configurations. The entry-level model costs a measly $280 on the auction website in your choice of carbon black or quartz white coats of paint, while the version capable of accommodating twice the data internally sets you back $330 only in the former color.

Qualcomm ushers in the ‘next era of wearables’ with Snapdragon Wear 2100 SoC

You’d probably expect a fledgling segment of the ever-growing tech industry to advance at a more rapid pace than fully mature, saturated markets, and while that’s been true in some aspects for wearable devices, most smartwatches have also worryingly stagnated in a key department.

Remember the 2014 LG G Watch and Samsung Gear Live? Well, their sequels, threequels and spin-offs may look far prettier on the outside, and they’ve definitely gained a bunch of software tricks, a few being nowadays even capable of initiating and receiving voice calls by themselves.

But you know what the two fugly squares still share in common with the stylish circular Watch Urbane, Huawei Watch or second-gen Moto 360? Ancient Snapdragon 400 processors, exactly.

HTC One M10 only expected out stateside in May, ‘One Watch’ a little earlier

It feels like we’ve been basically saying the same thing in anticipation of every single high-end HTC product launch over the past few years, and once again, it appears the company’s financial well-being, even its very survival, hinges on an impending flagship phone.

The problem is the One M10, aka Perfume, aka One-something-else-entirely isn’t impending enough, skipping this month’s Mobile World Congress, where the Samsung Galaxy S7 and LG G5 are expected to go official.

Worse yet, the One A9 lookalike may also skip the month of March entirely, seeing daylight around mid-April in London, and barely going on sale on American shores “the week of May 9th.”


Save $100 on the Apple Watch with Target’s latest deal

Apple’s rumored March event is just another month away, and word is that the Apple Watch will be taking the spotlight for at least part of the announcements. Some rumors suggest we could be looking at as little as new band hardware, while other reports point to some much more substantial news, including the launch of upgraded versions of the Watch itself. Changes could include improvements to the wearable’s battery, a new SoC, or on the more extreme end, maybe even an integrated camera for FaceTime support. While we’re still not sure just what we’re getting, if you’re nto afraid of being a little behind the times when that new hardware rolls around, now’s looking like a pretty sweet opportunity to pick up last year’s Apple Watch, as Target gives shoppers a $100-off deal.


$200 Microsoft Band 2 deal rebooted, Surface Pro 4 also discounted by $100

Microsoft doesn’t seem to care too much about the year’s fast-approaching biggest celebration of love, but it’s not going to let George Washington’s birthday go unnoticed, offering a slew of Presidents Day discounts on some of the company’s hottest gadgets.

Through February 20, the Microsoft Band 2 will again be available at $200 a pop stateside, in your choice of sizes, 50 bucks being taken off the cross-platform wearable’s list price for the first time in a couple of months.


How to get older programs to scale on HiDPI displays in Windows 10

One of the most annoying things about high pixel density displays on Windows is how tiny some user interface elements can be when you load older programs that were designed for the standard 72 pixels per inch pixel density that most displays have used for many decades. When Apple started using high-DPI (HiDPI) displays with many more smaller pixels crammed into the same area, they implemented a work-around in the operating system that would automatically pixel-double old programs that were not updated to adjust themselves automatically to the higher pixel density. That works pretty well except of course some interface elements might look pixelated or jaggy, but at least you can see them and understand what they are.

First Marshmallow updates for Samsung phones reportedly ‘delayed’ for February

Samsung has rarely led the way in software support and bumps to the newest Android iterations for even its best smartphones, but it’s never been as late as this year either. Marshmallows are yet to officially roll out to a single Galaxy “star”, unlike LG, Motorola or HTC devices.

Several upgrade timelines were rumored for handhelds as diverse as the Note 5, S6, Note 4, S5, A3 or J5, with the latest flagships initially expected to score 6.0 goodies as early as December, then January, and now February.

Sony owns up to absent Xperia Z5 fingerprint scanners for US release, offers non-explanation

A couple weeks back we got what sounded like good – if not just a few months later than we’d like – news: Sony was just about to bring some of its latest flagship hardware to the US as it prepared to start sales of the Xperia Z5 and Xperia Z5 Compact. Better late than never, though, right? Well, if these were the same Z5 and Z5 Compact as we’d seen elsewhere, perhaps we could learn to be happy that we were getting them at all, but it wasn’t long before a new wrinkle developed in this tale, as we got word that Sony had altered the construction of its phones and removed one of their most interesting features: the side-mounted fingerprint scanners integrated into the phones’ power buttons. Now Sony’s provided a statement to us where it confirms that news, while offering a explanation for its decision that’s a lot less than satisfactory.

OnePlus X picks up manual camera mode in latest OxygenOS update

It’s been just over a month now since we first saw OnePlus begin making available OxygenOS 2.2.0, initially releasing the system software as an update for the OnePlus 2. There the release delivered the company’s latest bugfixes and tweaks, expanding access to removable USB storage, and correcting some issues with dual-SIM settings. It was all well and good, but what about the OnePlus 2’s little brother, the super-affordable OnePlus X? It’s taken some time to prepare 2.2.0 for the five-incher, and we’re only just now about to see it head out, as OnePlus lets us know that the incremental rollout of OxygenOS 2.2.0 for the OnePlus X starts today.

What’s new? Well, just like with the 2.2.0 update for the OnePlus 2, we’ve got plenty of bugfixes and performance optimizations, as well as the latest security updates. But beyond all that, we do see some actual new features, and the most notable ones there concern camera operation.

Latest iPhone 5se hardware rumors paint the picture of a much more capable handset

It finally feels like the home stretch is nearly upon us, and all the rumors we’ve been hearing about Apple’s interest in releasing a new iPhone that looks back to the smaller sizes of older handsets may finally be coming to fruition. Lately, they’ve settled in on the name iPhone 5se, while describing hardware that might look like the iPhone 5, while performing like the iPhone 6, getting that model’s A8/M8 chip pair. But while that older silicon could be sufficient for some users, apparently Apple’s not so sure it wants to bank on a new phone with yesterday’s chips, and now a new iPhone 5se rumor claims that Apple’s also been testing the phone with an A9/M9 setup – and this could be the model we’re more likely to see commercially released.

Galaxy S7 leak finally gives us a look at the smartphone in the flesh?

Over the past several weeks and months, we’ve heard no shortage about what to expect from Samsung’s upcoming Galaxy S7: how many different models to look forward to, what sizes we’re likely to get – all that jazz. And while we’ve seen plenty of schematics, and even some case pics, we’ve been coming up short in the leak department when it comes to the good stuff: imagery of actual phone hardware. Apparently all of our patience is finally starting to pay off, and today we get to check out what might just be the first real pic we’ve seen of the Galaxy S7 in the flesh.

Google job postings, new hires point to serious interest in VR hardware

There’s a fair chance that you may be starting to get sick hearing about VR-this and VR-that all the time, but you’ve just got to open your mind a little. After all, while it was easy to talk big about VR in years past, in 2016 we’re finally seeing things go commercial in a really big way, connecting the dots between stuff like basic Google Cardboard viewers and the really immersive 3D worlds that once only seemed possible in sci-fi fantasies. As such, it’s only logical that Google appears to be paying more and more attention to the burgeoning market, as we saw earlier this month when we got word that the company was creating a new VP position focused solely on VR. Now the full scope of Google’s VR ambitions continues to come into focus, as we learn a little more about its hardware plans thanks to a job posting, and see it recruit even more big talent for VR development.

Possible Apple iPad Air 3 schematic takes cues from the iPad Pro

Last year came and went without bringing us a new standard-sized iPad option. Sure we got the new iPad Pro, as well as a refreshed iPad mini 4, but nothing new in the 9.7-inch space. But while the presumed iPad Air 3’s remained elusive, we have managed to hear a little about what we might expect from the tablet when it finally does launch, including maybe a big resolution bump, or a ton of extra RAM – even if we don’t get 3D Touch. With multiple sources pointing to an H1 2016 launch, this new iPad Air could be right around the corner – so when are we going to get some more definitive intel on the tablet? Well, we’re not yet sure how much faith we should be placing in this new find, but a recently published schematic may reveal at least a few changes Apple’s working on for the hardware.

LG G5 case design supports growing body of evidence in favor of side-mounted volume buttons

Can you remember an LG G-series phone that didn’t use the company’s iconic rear-volume-button design? We have it on the G4, we had it with the G3, and we even had it with the G2, all the way back in 2013; really, if you want a G-series flagship with traditional side-edge volume buttons, you have to look back to the old Optimus G, before we had this new naming scheme at all. But now for the upcoming G5, it looks like LG is breaking from habit and going back to the old way of doing things – despite some early signs suggesting that the G5’s rear-button scheme would continue with the pattern, subsequent leaks have provided a growing body of evidence in favor of LG dropping those rear volume buttons and keeping only the single power button (now with fingerprint scanner). The latest piece of the puzzle only adds more support to this no-more-rear-volume theory, showing a G5 that matches the most recent leaks from other sources.

Apple continues to tweak Night Shift mode in new iOS 9.3 beta 2

Two weeks back, Apple gave developers their first look at the upcoming 9.3 release of iOS, and maybe most notable among the new features it delivered was a mode for adjusting screen color temperature in the hopes of offering more comfortable late-night usage: Night Shift. Apple’s been continuing to refine things behind the scenes since that early release, and today we see the company see its second iOS 9.3 beta to devs, further refining the Night Shift experience while making a few other tweaks around the operating system.

With iOS 9.3 beta 2, users will notice a new Night Shift interface for the iOS Control Center, giving users quick access for either toggling on Night Shift temporarily, or setting it to remain engaged until morning.

Samsung said to be taking its app ecosystem to iOS

Apple hasn’t jumped platforms very well. But everyone else has — which only serves to reinforce the idea that the iPhone is the phone to have forever and ever everywhere. Microsoft and Google have come to play, now there’s word that Apple’s largest competitor in the mobile space will bring its software over to the App Store.

Samsung may be planning on bringing its S Health, Gear Fit Manager and Gear Manager apps to iOS. This would open up the company’s Gear wearables to iPhone compatibility.

Microsoft Word Flow keyboard on iOS has arced, one-handed config

It’s been more than three years in the making and only now is it getting out to the public. Microsoft has been researching how to craft an entire on-screen smartphone keyboard fit for one-thumb use. The company sent out invitations for beta testers to try out the Word Flow keyboard on iOS just last week.

We now have snaps of what’s going on with that refined setup. Windows 10 Mobile and select Android OEM skins feature keyboards with compacted keys biased to one side of the screen, but this takes things to a natural level of thumb arcing. Word suggestions follow that arc, too.

Android peeps will eventually also get the Word Flow keyboard.

HTC takes 30 percent off $650 purchases, 20 percent off $500 today only

HTC’s already customary Hot Deals are back with a vengeance this Tuesday, allowing you to buy essentially anything your heart desires from the Taiwanese manufacturer’s US e-store at a nice, discounted price.

The only requirement is to exceed a $650 value on the total bill for a 30 percent markdown, $500 if you’ll settle for a 20 percent deduction, or a measly $150 that takes 15 percent off.

Say you want the Android 6.0 Marshmallow-powered One A9 smartphone and Re Camera. Separately and outside this promotion, the two devices cost $499 and $199 respectively. Bundled together, they’re roughly 700 bucks, which HTC will knock off to just $490 through 11:59 PT on January 26.

HTC One M10 ‘Perfume’ is apparently on its way to AT&T with A9-similar design

It was only a few days ago that mobile tipster extraordinaire @evleaks casually tweeted the purported ETA of the HTC One Watch, aka “Halfbeak”, in response to queries for One M10 intel, and already, new information on the flagship smartphone codenamed Perfume is out.

Nothing too juicy or exciting, just written confirmation said handheld is headed for AT&T (among other carriers, we presume), and a cryptic phrase possibly suggesting the M10 will highly resemble the One A9.

In what way, you ask? Well, it could be software, hardware, exterior design or any combination of the three, or it could merely be aesthetics, as HTC decides to once again put off that long overdue and badly needed major high-end redesign.

OPPO breaks into top ten smartphone brands, with 50 million unit sales in 2015

Several former household names of the mobile phone business, including BlackBerry, HTC and Sony, have slipped out of the “major league” in the past couple of years, with Nokia (temporarily) gone from the industry, and Microsoft incapable of leaving a mark.

Naturally, a number of device manufacturers previously deemed a part of the smartphone landscape’s second tier used the free fall of the above listed giants to their advantage, improving their global brand awareness and sales figures primarily with an emphasis on reasonable quality-price ratios.

Huawei impressively managed to exceed 100 million unit shipments for the first time in 2015, Xiaomi continued its (slow) rise to the peak despite falling short of ambitious objectives, while OPPO reportedly climbed over Vivo, ZTE, plus Sony, Microsoft, HTC and BlackBerry to make the worldwide top ten.

LG bets on two 2016 flagship phones after ‘challenging’ 2015 and 60M sales

Following a phenomenal half a decade or so for many smartphone manufacturers, market saturation caused by lack of innovation and too few upgrade incentives made it much trickier for even Apple and Samsung to turn a profit and post sales growth in 2015.

Of course, there was also your occasional overperformer based in China that knew how to cater to increasingly cash-strapped audiences, while companies like Xiaomi or LG reported bright spots and not-so-bright ones in their end-of-year financial records.