Samsung kicks off One UI (Android Pie) update for beta users

Samsung has opened the beta program for One UI, based on Android 9 Pie.

Currently available in South Korea and potentially other countries, the beta program lets regular users test drive the new software, which will replace Samsung’s skin on the Galaxy S9, Galaxy S9 Plus and a slew of other devices.

Some users in South Korea are reportedly already using the new One UI, which Samsung first teased during its Developer Conference last week.

As reported by SamMobile, users in Germany and the U.S. are expected to be able to join the beta soon, though an exact timeframe isn’t available yet.

Read: Check out One UI: A newer, rounder take on the Samsung Experience

If you have a Galaxy S9 or Galaxy S9 Plus and want to test out One UI, you can join the program from the Samsung Members app, which should have been pre-installed on your device out of the box. After you open the app and accept the terms, check out the Notices section in the left-side hamburger menu. If the beta program is available to you, you should see a notification allowing you to join. After you sign up, you’ll be able to check for the system update from your phone’s settings section.

Via SamMobile

 

In past years, Samsung opened up a limited number of slots for its Android update beta program. In other words, don’t hesitate too much once you get the availability notice.

One UI brings sweeping changes to the software that was once known as TouchWiz. These include a system-wide dark theme, a design paradigm that caters to modern, tall form factor devices, and a refreshed visual language that favor rounded corners. The settings have also been simplified, and Samsung apps will adopt a bottom navigation bar to facilitate one-handed use.

The first incarnation of One UI is based on Android 9 Pie and includes many of the under-the-hood features in this major release. Samsung confirmed to Android Authority that the new software will be made available to the Galaxy S8, Galaxy S8 Plus, and Note 8, in addition to this year’s crop of Samsung flagships.

Keep an eye on your Samsung Members app and let us know if you got the update.

Xiaomi Redmi Note 6 Pro headed to India November 22

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  • Xiaomi has sent out press invites for its Redmi Note 6 Pro launch in New Delhi.
  • The phone will launch on November 22 ahead of its first sale the following day.
  • The price is still to be revealed.

Xiaomi has sent out invites for its Redmi Note 6 Pro launch in India. Xiaomi will introduce the smartphone on Thursday, November 22 in New Delhi, following its announcement in Thailand last September.

Editor’s Pick

The Redmi Note 6 Pro packs a 6.26-inch, 19:9, Full-HD+ display, Snapdragon 636 chip, 4GB of RAM, and 64GB of storage. There’s a 12MP + 5MP camera setup on the rear and a 20MP + 2MP camera up front (the first time Xiaomi has used four cameras on a smartphone), which come with AI-based features, including AI face unlock.

The handset also houses a 4,000mAh battery and a display notch.

An invite for the Xiaomi Mi Note 6 Pro launch in India.

When it first launched, we speculated that Xiaomi may introduce a second Note 6 Pro variant with more RAM and storage like it did with the Redmi Note 5 Pro. This is still a possibility for the Indian market, but Xiaomi hasn’t discussed the matter.

We’ve already written our Redmi Note 6 Pro review and enjoyed its impressive display and battery life, but felt it lacked a unique-selling-point. Still, if you’re interested, Xiaomi will hold its first Redmi Note 6 Pro sale on November 23 (Black Friday), though the price is yet to be confirmed.

The Note 6 Pro went on sale in Thailand for 6,990 Thai baht, so you could be looking at spending ~15,260 Indian rupees.

Get the temperature just right with the $139 ecobee3 lite smart thermostat

A worthy upgrade to your home.

Amazon currently has the popular ecobee3 lite smart thermostat on sale for just $139, which is a great savings from its usual $169 price, and matches an all-time low which we’ve only seen once before.

This thermostat can be easily controlled right from your iOS or Android device using the free app, as well as via Siri and Amazon’s Alexa. In fact, it links in great with pretty much all smart home ecosystems including Apple HomeKit, Google Assistant, Microsoft Cortana, Samsung SmartThings, Wink, and IFTTT. You can also use the ecobee3 lite with a pair of room sensors to help ensure that your whole home is kept at a consistent temperature.

Installation of the ecobee3 lite is straightforward. There’s an easy to follow installation guide and an in-app walkthrough showing you step-by-step instructions, so it should only take about 30 minutes. Everything you need comes in the box, including a Power Extender Kit for homes with no common wire.

The team at iMore named this one of the best smart thermostats for 2018 and Android Central lists it as the best budget option. Smart thermostats can help save “an average of 23% annually on your heating and cooling bill”, which means that over time the investment will pay for itself.

See at Amazon

Samsung unveils Exynos 9820 with 8nm process and 8K video recording

A render of the Samsung Galaxy Exynos 9820. Samsung

  • Samsung has unveiled its new, flagship SoC, the Exynos 9820, tipped to arrive with the upcoming Galaxy S10.
  • The chip features a tri-cluster setup with two custom cores, two Cortex-A75 cores, and four Cortex-A55 cores.
  • It’s set to deliver marked improvements in performance and efficiency over Samsung’s current top-tier Exynos chip.

Samsung has unveiled its new flagship system-on-chip, the Exynos 9820 (also called the Exynos 9 Series 9820). Samsung announced the new chip in a press release earlier today and it’s expected to power some variants in the upcoming Galaxy S10 smartphone series.

The CPU features two custom cores (high power), two Cortex-A75 cores (medium power), and four Cortex-A55 cores (low power). This octa-core design in a tri-cluster setup is a first for Samsung — its last chips have used four high-performance and four power-efficient cores (Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 845 also uses this format ) — but the new formation is rising in popularity.

Editor’s Pick

Huawei’s Kirin 980 uses it, MediaTek’s Helio X30 uses it, and the Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 is tipped to use it; MediaTek has likened it to giving a car another gear. What this setup will do for Samsung’s Exynos 9820 SoC is help it deliver 15 percent better multi-core performance compared to Samsung’s current gen Exynos 9810.

Samsung says the chip’s single core performance will see even greater improvements upon the Exynos 9810, up 20 percent, with up to 40 percent greater power efficiency.

What this ultimately means for the next Samsung flagship (the Galaxy S10 series) is faster performance and a lighter toll on battery life. However, Samsung’s custom core design isn’t compatible with Arm’s DynamIQ technology employed by Samsung’s competitor’s. This means we’ll certainly see some multi-threaded performance differences between the Exynos 9820 and Huawei and Qualcomm chips, though we can’t say precisely what these will be.

8nm process, 4G LTE, AI, and UFS

Unlike its competitors, Apple’s A12 Bionic and Huawei’s Kirin’s 980, Samsung’s chip is not based on 7-nanometer architecture, but 8-nanometer. Samsung has started production on 7nm chips but they may not be quite ready or Samsung might be reserving them for specific models. The 7nm process could, theoretically, offer superior efficiency to 8nm, but the extent of the discrepancy may be marginal.A render of the Samsung Galaxy Exynos 9820. Samsung

The Exynos 9820 also won’t have any kind of native 5G support (similar to the Kirin 980 and Snapdragon 855). It’s still early doors for the 5G network and most users won’t feel its benefits next year even with a 5G-enabled smartphone. Still, it’s worth keeping in mind: if you buy a premium Samsung phone with this chip and hold onto it for two to three years, you still won’t get 5G connectivity, no matter how much the infrastructure has developed. Note that Samsung is said to be working on a 5G-enabled Galaxy S10, but this would require a different chipset, or an external 5G modem.

What the Exynos 9820 will feature is a dedicated Neural Processing Unit (NPU) to support AI tasks. Samsung says this NPU will lead to seven times faster than performance on AI tasks compared to the Exynos 9810. A seven-fold increase would be a mammoth generational leap but be aware that AI-related tasks — like enhancing a photograph or performing certain Bixby functions — may not necessarily feel like they’ve been given such a speed injection.

Additionally, the Exynos 9820 also supports both UFS 2.1 and UFS 3.0, the latter of which is twice as fast as the former (the Kirin 980 maxes out at UFS 2.1).

8K video recording and five camera support

As well as performance improvements, the Exynos 9820 includes two interesting functional improvements: 8K resolution video recording at 30FPS and five camera support.

8K recording is still rare but will become increasingly common in smartphone cameras in the coming years. It may be overkill for the Exynos 9820, though — 8K playback devices (like a TV, computer monitor, or smartphone) may still be niche throughout the time you’re likely to use an Exynos 9820 device (between 2019 to 2022 or so), and it may be expensive to include compatible sensors.

Editor’s Pick

The five camera setup is likely to have an immediate effect, though, seeing as one (or more) of the Galaxy S10s may include this (three rear cameras and two front-facing cameras). Samsung has already experimented with a five-camera setup on the Galaxy A9 (2018) with four rear cameras and one up front, though this made use of Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 660 chip rather than a homegrown Samsung variant.

On that note, many of us may not even encounter a Samsung smartphone with its Exynos 9820 chip, seeing as Samsung tends to favor Qualcomm’s Snapdragon chips for its flagship releases in the U.S. market. However, it may not be any great loss as the Snapdragon 855 will no doubt be comparable.

Samsung says it expects the Exynos 9 Series 9820 to enter mass production by the end of this year.

Here’s an early look at everything Huawei will discount for Black Friday

The Huawei logo.

Huawei has revealed its plans for Black Friday and there are some good deals on a variety of the company’s devices, but not so much in terms of its smartphones. Just one lower-end phone will be discounted, as Huawei focuses on its wider range including deals on its laptops and tablets.

The offers will be available at a number of outlets including Amazon, Walmart, and B&H. All the Huawei Black Friday offers will begin on November 18 and run until Cyber Monday on November 26. Let’s take a look at what’s up for grabs.

Huawei Mate SE

The only phone Huawei will discount is the Mate SE and you will be able to pick this up for $219, $30 off the list price of $249. Now, this doesn’t necessarily result in a $30 discount on the current price — you can pick one up now for $244 on Amazon — but it’s s a nice little saving on an already affordable phone. Click the button below to check the phone at Amazon.

Huawei MateBook X Pro

Huawei will also reduce the price of the Intel Core i7 version of the MateBook X Pro laptop by $150. This means you’ll be able to buy the device for $1,349.99. Hit the link to see the laptop on Amazon. Our colleagues at DGiT.com had good things to say about the MateBook X Pro in a review, with one negative the cost. That’s now less of a problem, and the Amazon reviews are pretty good, unless you use a webcam regularly.

Huawei MediaPad M5

Huawei MediaPad M5 and M5 Pro review-30

Additionally, the 8.4-inch, 10.8-inch, and 10.8-inch Pro versions of the MediaPad M5 tablet will be reduced by $40. While the larger versions will be more expensive, you’ll be able to pick up the cheapest version for only $279 in the sale. Not bad for a tablet we called a “perfect companion for both work and play.” That’s a decent deal on one of the few Android tablets from a name brand.

Huawei Watch 2

Finally, the Huawei Watch 2 Sport and Huawei Watch 2 Classic will be available with $90 and $100 off respectively. Depending on your choice of strap or band, the price drops to somewhere between $133 and $179.99. While these watches are no longer the latest smartwatches from Huawei, the discounts are quite a sizeable percentage of the overall price. They are also still the latest Huawei smartwatches you can actually buy in the U.S. 

Next up: Black Friday 2018: Best tech deals and promos you should know about

How to customize Active Edge on the Google Pixel 3

One of the Google Pixel 3’s fun and interesting hardware features is one you can’t even see. “Active Edge” lets you squeeze your phone to launch Google Assistant or silence incoming calls and notifications. It’s a pretty neat trick that accomplishes a simple set of features; and if you want to turn it off, you aren’t stuck with a useless button on your phone as is the case with the competition. Here’s how you can set up and customize the Active Edge, or turn it off entirely, on your Pixel 3.

Phones that have Active Edge

How to customize Active Edge on the Pixel 3

  1. Open your phone’s Settings.
  2. Scroll down and tap on System.
  3. Tap Gestures and then tap Active Edge at the top.

  4. “Squeeze sensitivity” adjusts how hard you need to squeeze the phone to activate Active Edge.
    • Use the slider, and then squeeze the phone — it will show on the meter whether you’ve activated it.
  5. The next three options are self-explanatory — choose when you want Active Edge to be available, and what it does.
    • Most people will want Active Edge active when the screen is off.
  6. To turn Active Edge off entirely, turn off all three toggles. It will no longer activate in any situation.

With Active Edge enabled and configured just how you want it, you can now squeeze your phone to quickly access your Google Assistant, or silencing incoming calls, timers and alarms. It may take some time with real-world use to fine-tune your squeeze activation level, but once you get it dialed in it’s a useful feature.

Our pick

Google Pixel 3

$799 at Google Store

Google’s latest and greatest phone, in a compact size

The Pixel 3 is a great all-around phone, particularly for anyone who wants a more compact size. Active Edge is a fun trick that you may find some use for, but it doesn’t make or break the experience. There’s a whole lot to love about the Pixel 3, whether you want to squeeze it to launch Assistant or not.

Xiaomi apologies for UK ‘Flash Sale’ in which only ten phones were made available

The Xiaomi logo at MWC 2018.

  • Xiaomi held an online flash sale in the U.K during which it sold phones for only one pound (~$1.29).
  • However, only ten devices were made available for that price.
  • The company later apologized on Twitter for any misunderstanding caused by the sale.

Xiaomi has apologized for any misunderstanding caused by a series of ‘Flash Sales’ it held on its U.K. launch day. The web sale saw Xiaomi reduce the Xiaomi Mi 8 Lite and Xiaomi Mi A2 price to just one pound (~$1.29). However, only a total of ten phones were made available throughout the four flash sales, causing some backlash among fans.

The BBC reported that since the sale, a number of complaints were made on the Xiaomi Facebook page and, more seriously, to the UK’s advertising standards watchdog.

The exact number of devices that would be available was not mentioned on the offer’s sales page — although, it could be found in the terms and conditions. Here Xiaomi explained that three devices would be available in each of the first two sales, and two would be available in each of the second two sales. However, the BBC said the company only added these figures to the terms and conditions on the day before the sale.

Xiaomi flash sale Xiaomi

There was also controversy surrounding how Xiaomi selected the sale’s ‘winners.’ A Twitter user discovered that Xiaomi’s website showed the handsets as being sold out immediately following the sale, raising a question as to whether they had sold any units at all.

Xiaomi U.K. sales manager Wilkin Lee subsequently weighed in, writing on Twitter: “Of the thousands who clicked ‘buy’ simultaneously, the tie-breaker is done by selecting the winners randomly. Winners will access inventory to add to cart and proceed, which is why there was no call to check stock limit on the page.”

However, this was yet another poorly explained aspect of the sale, as Xiaomi’s terms on conditions page said winners are selected on a “first come, first serve” basis, not by lottery.

Xiaomi’s response

In a statement on Twitter, Xiaomi apologized saying that it did not realize people in the U.K. would associate the term ‘Flash Sale’ with a type of sale where “more than 10 devices were available.”

Reactions to the apology on Twitter were mixed. While some criticized the company for being too vague in regards to the terms of the deal, others suggested that the company’s phones are more important than its PR.

Editor’s Pick

The phones that were available for one pound were the Xiaomi Mi 8 Lite and the Xiaomi Mi A2. The Mi 8 Lite currently costs 249 pounds (~$320), while the Mi A2 is 259 pounds (~$333.59) on the Xiaomi U.K. website. In total, twelve different smartphone models are currently available on the company’s site in the U.K.

Xiaomi often employs flash sales to drum up interest for its devices and they often sell out in seconds. However, the company usually claims to have more than just ten devices available for sale.

Next up: Pocophone F1 review: Awesome speed, amazing price

Microsoft and Sam’s Club reveal Black Friday discounts – here’s what will be available

Microsoft Black Friday Microsoft

More Black Friday deals are heading our way. Both Microsoft and Sam’s Club have released previews of their Black Friday sales. Let’s take a look at the highlights from each outlet below.

Microsoft

Microsoft will offer up some pretty tasty discounts on Surface tablets and Xbox related products. It will also reduce the price of a selection of third-party laptops.

Some of the best Surface deals are on device plus cover bundles. Buyers will be able to save up to $330 on the latest Surface Pro 6, while the last gen Surface Pro 5 with a cover will be available for $599. Additionally, you’ll be able to pick up the cheaper Surface Go for only $349.

Editor’s Pick

Microsoft will reduce the price of many of its Xbox One bundles by $70 and you will be able to save $100 on an Xbox One X. Xbox controllers and gaming headsets will also be reduced.

Standout deals on non-Microsoft products include the 14-inch HP Stream laptop which will only cost $229 and a Dell Gaming PC which will be $599.

Most of Microsoft’s Black Friday discounts begin on November 22 at 12AM ET, though some others begin a little earlier on November 18. Anything you buy on the Microsoft Store comes with free shipping or in-store pickup.

Products bought from now until December 31 can also be returned until January 31, meaning you can buy Christmas presents safe in the knowledge that should your choice miss the mark, it can easily be returned. If you want to check out any of the offers, then you can do so at by clicking the button below.

Sam’s Club

Sam's Club Black Friday Sam’s Club

Sam’s Club unveiled its deals via an e-catalog on its website. As well as electronics, there are plenty of offers and discounts available on home products.

Some of the standout items include $60 off Bose Soundlink on-ear headphones, $50 off a Fitbit Versa, a Playstation 4 plus Spiderman bundle for only $199, and a Samsung Galaxy Tab A for only $119.86.

The deals are valid from November 22 to November 25. Click the button below to check them out for yourself, but be aware that you may have to pay a 10 percent service charge on items if you’re not a member (it may still be worth it, depending on the deal).

Next up: Black Friday 2018: Best tech deals and promos you should know about

This Anker sale has everything you need to keep charged while on the go

Keep your devices charged while you’re out and about.

Amazon has dropped the price of a number of Anker chargers and accessories including Lightning and USB-C cables, Qi-enabled phone mounts, and even Alexa-enabled multi-port car chargers. Prices start from under $10 and these are the lowest we’ve seen some of these items go for before, so be sure to check out the promotion and make the most of the limited-time offers before they disappear tonight.

Anker is well-known for its high quality mobile accessories, and over the years they’ve become some of our favorites. Many of these accessories are already extremely affordable without the discounts, but with the price drops they become even smarter buys. Some of the best deals include:

Be sure to check out the whole promotion and make the most of these limited-time prices. Anker backs most of its products with an 18-month warranty, so you can rest assured knowing that your purchase is backed by the company in the event that something should happen to it from your daily usage. Grab one (or a few) of these today.

See at Amazon

Google dev hints Android Q previews could come to more users, sooner

  • A Google developer has hinted that early Android Q builds may reach more users next year thanks to prospective Generic System Image (GSI) developments.
  • The moves could allow any Project Treble-supported device, not just select handsets, to run previews ahead of the software’s full launch.
  • The developer said there may be a way to test Android Q without physically flashing the GSI in future, too.

A Google engineer has hinted that Android Q previews may be available on more devices than ever before ahead of its full-scale release in 2019. The engineer, Hung-ying Tyan of Google’s Project Treble team, made the comments during Android developer summit last week (via XDA Developers).

Hung-ying was holding a talk on Generic System Images (GSIs). A GSI is a pure version of Android based on the Android Open Source Project (AOSP) code used to test compatibility on Android smartphones. In order to benefit from quick updates via Project Treble, for example, a hardware manufacturer must be able to boot a GSI and ensure it works correctly on their device.

Editor’s Pick

This is a key part of Project Treble, but it seems Google wants to diversify GSI use cases. Hung-ying said the team is “exploring ways to make future GSI available earlier than the release of next Android version. So you will be able to try out next Android version earlier over GSI.” This, according to Hung-ying, would be mutually beneficial, seeing as more users would get access to the software the team could receive earlier feedback.

What’s more, Hung-ying said that there might be a way to test out GSI, without flashing it, in the future — something which can be a tricky process.

What this would mean for Android fans is that more people could gain access to the early version of Android Q (the upcoming version of Android), sooner. With the Android P Developer Preview, Google allowed Pixel users (and later some other Android device owners) to test the software from March last year ahead of its full release in August. The implication of GSI becoming available earlier is that any Project Treble-equipped phone would be able to install the next Developer Previews — opening them up to many more users.

This is just a possibility for now, but Hung-ying said we should stay tuned for more information in the future. It seems like it could happen.