These are the very best Android games you should be playing

Don’t settle for anything less.

If you’re looking for the best new games available in the Google Play Store, you’ve come to the right place. We update this list whenever a new game comes out that’s worthy of being added to this list, so you’ll always know about the latest and greatest games.

Whether you’re new to Android and need some fresh, new games to start building out your Google Play library or simply looking for the latest trendy games that are worthy of your time and attention, these are the best Android games as of December 2018!

PUBG Mobile

It’s pretty incredible how well PUBG Mobile plays on Android. This is a massive PvP battle royale game that pits 100 players against each other on a massive island loaded with weapons, ammo, tactical gear, and vehicles. You drop in as a solo player or as part of a team and must use all your best skills to take down your opponents until you’re the last man standing.

It’s not unheard of for a popular PC or console release to find its way to Android, but you’ll be surprised at how well PUBG plays on a smartphone. The developers have made it easier for mobile players to pick up and manage items, and have also added bots in the lowest ranks to help ease players into the game experience. Bluetooth controller support would be a nice addition, but the touch controls are some of the best I’ve seen for a shooter on mobile.

It also allows you to scale back the graphics so you can enjoy smooth gameplay even when playing on an older device. If you’ve got a newer device, crank those settings to the max and enjoy one of the best looking mobile games I’ve played in a long while.

PUBG Mobile somehow delivers all the epic moments you’d expect the PC game scaled down perfectly for mobile devices. Best of all, it’s free to play and features three unique maps to choose from along with multiple game mode and your choice of playing in first- or third-person view. Get your squad together, and I’ll see you on the battlegrounds!

Download: PUBG Mobile (Free)

Brawl Stars

It’s been a long time coming, but Brawl Stars has finally been launched globally in the Google Play Store. It’s a good thing, too, because it means I can include it in our final wrap up of the best games of 2018.

Developed by Supercell, Brawl Stars is a fast-paced arena brawler that is unlike most other games on the Play Store. It’s a departure from the Clash of Clans universe that has made Supercell a household name and instead lets players team up in a MOBA game that differentiates itself from others in the genre with it’s colorfol and cartoony look and feel and great gameplay variety.

There are multiple game modes available, which rotate every couple of hours so there’s always something new to play whenever you log into the app. These modes include:

  • Gem Grab: teams collect gems which spawn at the center of the map, and the first team to collect and hold 10 or more gems for 15 seconds win
  • Heist: teams must defend their safe of gems while strategically attacking the other team’s safe.
  • Showdown: a Battle Royale mode with up to 10 players that’s available for solo players or duos.
  • Bounty: teams battle to collect stars which are earned by kill opponents. The more kills you get without dying the bigger the star bounty on your own head.
  • Brawl Ball: a soccer match featuring the Brawl Stars cast. The first team to score two goals wins.
  • Robo Rumble: a time-based special event where teams of three take on wave after wave of robot enemies that include boss robots with very high hitpoints and damage.

Individually, each game mode is fun in its own unique way and could easily be its own standalone app, but by including all six modes on a rotating basis Supercell has elevated Brawl Stars to the next level. This is a really well-made game that just recently got a major update that overhauled the graphics with a fresh 3D-style design that looks even better. The only downside is the crate unlocking and card collecting aspects of the game, but at least it’s all performance based rewards and doesn’t require you to arbitrarily wait hours to unlock each crate.

Download: Brawl Stars (Free w/IAPs)

RWBY: Amity Arena

Based on the Rooster Teeth Animation series RWBY — which, I’ll admit, I had never heard of before — RWBY: Amity Arena has proven itself to be a very popular and well-designed real-time strategy tower defence MOBA in the same vein as Clash Royale.

At its core, it’s a two-lane brawler where your goal is to destroy your opponents towers as fast as possible by putting down troop cards on the battlefield. Characters and creatures are based on the RWBY universe, but again you don’t need to be familiar with the source material to enjoy this game.

Matches last three minutes and feature a really good balance between the different troop types. This means that winning will come down to strategy and timing your attacks more than just spamming troops down onto the battlefield. You can choose between playing a match just for fun or working to improve your global rank in ranked matches, so there’s something for both casual players and more competitive players.

It’s a free game to download and well worth your time if you love this genre of mobile game and need more variety in your life, or if you’re a fan of the RWBY series.

Download: RWBY: Amity Arena (Free w/IAPs)

Holedown

It’s hard to find a fun puzzle game that doesn’t try to sell you on power-ups or extra lives or something.

That’s just one of the reasons why Holedown is a standout game in 2018. Holedown will have you strategically blasting through to the core of celestial bodies — starting with asteroids and working your way up to the Sun — using the classic gaming formula of bouncing balls off blocks. Each brick has a number that represents the number of hits needed to destroy it, or you can destroying a supporting block clear out everything above it.

This is a pickup and play game that’s an easy concept to grasp but you quickly learn there’s an amount of strategy and skill involved. All the bricks are curved, allowing you to set up tricky bank shots to clear out massive sections of blocks in one go. This will become quite important as the screen move up one row after every shot. If the blocks reach the top of the screen, it’s game over.

Along the way, you will collect crystals which you spend on upgrades that give you more balls per shot, and more shots per round. These upgrades are crucial to completing the later planets but also let the earlier levels become more of a mindless distraction for your subway commute. All told, it won’t take you too long to max out all your stats in Holedown, but that’s mostly because it’s so hard to stop playing this game once you start.

If you’re a fan of physics-based puzzle games and are looking for a new obsession, Holedown is well worth your money!

Downlaod: Holedown ($3.99 )

Evoland 2

Evoland 2 is one of those premium games for Android that you just don’t want to put down. Initially released in 2015 on Steam, Evoland 2 is a fantastic sequel to the first Evoland and follows suit with graphics and gameplay that evolve as you progress through the story.

I thoroughly enjoyed the first Evoland game for Android and one of my few criticisms of the game was that the story was a bit short. That’s not the case with Evoland 2, which features over 20 hours of gameplay.

While the first game in the series explored the evolution of RPGs, Evoland 2 has expanded its nostalgic scope by incorporating even more gaming genres into the game. It starts out as a pretty typical action RPG, but as you progress through the story both the graphics and gameplay take dramatic shifts which work wonderfully for keeping the game feeling fresh.

Evoland 2 will have you laughing as it constantly breaks the fourth wall and there are more gaming and pop culture references than you can shake a stick at. This is another great game for fans of RPGs and video game culture and well worth the cost to play.

Download: Evoland 2 ($6.99)

The Room: Old Sins

The Room: Old Sins is the latest epic puzzle game from Fireproof Games and the 4th in the award-winning ‘The Room’ puzzle game series. You are exploring the home of an ambitious engineer who has gone missing when you find a rather peculiar dollhouse in the attic.

Using a sophisticated eyepiece you’re able to explore different rooms in the dollhouse that are filled with incredibly sophisticated puzzle boxes and contraptions. There’s something really weird going on here, so maybe if you can solve all the puzzles you’ll figure out what happened to the missing engineer and his wife.

If you’ve never played a game from “The Room” series before, just get ready for one of the more engrossing games you’ll ever play on a mobile phone. The graphics and audio come together to create a wonderfully creepy vibe as you carefully inspect intricate objects and unlock secrets to help you on your journey.

If you want to catch up with the other games, you can snag The Room, The Room Two, and The Room 3 at discounted prices.

Download The Room: Old Sins ($4.99)

Dissembler

Dissembler is a colorful and abstract game that, from the outset, might seem like another standard tile-swapping match three game. Instead, Dissembler unravels itself to be one of those puzzle games that almost transcends the genre, offering a relaxing exploration of patterns in abstract designs.

It starts out nice and easy as the game lays out the basic principles before gradually presenting you with more complex puzzles — check out the trailer above to see what I mean.

With over 120 puzzles to play with no time limits, move limits, or in-app purchases or ads to deal, this game absolutely deserves a spot on this list.

Download: Dissembler ($2.99)

JYDGE

JYDGE is a gritty and violent top-down twin-stick shooter that is an absolute blast to play. You are the JYDGE, a cybernetic enforcement officer who uses his Gavel (see: BIG freaking gun) to dole out RoboCop-style justice.

Each level features different challenges that are required to progress but never feel like a slogging chore. Confiscating illegal cash along the way, you’re able to upgrade JYDGE and his gavel with a deep selection of accessories. In that way, JYDGE retains the rogue-like element from its predecessor Neon Chrome by encouraging you to replay levels with different upgrade combinations until you complete all the challenges.

With a game that has you replay levels over and over again, it’s imperative for a game to find that mix of great gameplay with an interesting soundtrack that isn’t super annoying or repetitive — and JYDGE absolutely delivers.

Check out my full review if you need more convincing.

Download: JYDGE ($5.99)

HQ Trivia

It’s the app that started the new craze of live trivia game shows on your phone HQ Trivia is a daily trivia game show where you simply need to answer 12 questions to win a split of the pot. The daily weekday cash pot has risen to $5,000 with Sunday evening games usually around $25,000. 2018 has seen the game introduce HQ Sports and other themed nights that have occasionally featured celebrity guest appearances.

Each game is hosted live by a rotating crew of hosts that deliver the questions along with some entertaining banter. The app itself has steadily improved since launching in 2017 with features that let you connect and play along with friends, and you now have the option to buy extra lives instead of only getting them from referring new players. Millions of people play each week because it’s free and you just might win some cash!

That’s right, you’re playing for real cash via PayPal. Even if you only win a few bucks you can cash out at any time and buy yourself a coffee.

HQ Trivia for Android: Everything you need to know

Download: HQ Trivia (Free w/IAPs )

Death Road to Canada

Death Road to Canada is a $10 game — I want to open with that just to get the sticker shock out of the way before I talk about how awesome this freaking game is. (It’s currently on sale for a dollar, though, which makes it an even better purchase.)

Facing a zombie apocalypse, you must lead a scrappy squad of somewhat interesting characters on a deadly mission to the relative safety of Canada. Along the way, you’ll need to explore and loot places for supplies, while also managing your team’s health and morale.

Everything in Death Road to Canada is randomly generated, making every play-through a unique experience in this dynamic road trip action-RPG. You can randomly generate your character and buddy or custom design your starting characters with different attributes to help them stay alive, but you probably don’t want to get too attached unless you’re a really good shot.

The controls admittedly take some getting used to, and there’s a pretty steep learning curve as you learn which weapons are most effective and which times it’s better to fight or run. And you will die, early and often, although that’s part of the fun of a zombie apocalypse, right?

There’s a ridiculous amount of depth in this game, including 10 different game modes to unlock. The price might seem a little steep, but if you’re a fan of rogue-like zombie games, it’s well worth the investment!

Download: Death Road to Canada ($9.99)

Stranger Things: The Game

Stranger Things: The Game is the tie-in mobile game that other companies wish they could churn out. It’s a full-fledged action adventure game with a full cast of playable characters, tons of collectibles, and a retro graphical style that fits into the show theme and setting.

The game presents the entire town of Hawkins, Indiana along with the adjacent Mirkwood Forest to be explored. It plays like a classic Zelda-style adventure game, with the ability to switch between characters lending itself to creating complex puzzles.

Credit Netflix’s marketing team for spending the time to make sure the developers at BonusXP Inc. delivered something special for fans of the series. They’ve created a real winner here, and a true contender for game of the year — and I’m not even a huge fan of the source material.

The controls are optimized for mobile and there’s great game design on display here. The overworld is vast and filled with secret areas to explore and familiar items from the show scattered throughout as collectibles.

There’s just so much to appreciate here. Not only is it a faithful adaptation of the show, it’s available for free with no in-app purchases or ads — although you can certainly count the game itself as being an ad for the second season of Stranger Things. Here’s hoping it ushers in a new trend of substantial mobile games based on TV shows and movies.

Download: Stranger Things: The Game (Free)

Reigns: Her Majesty

Reigns was one of the best games of 2016 and actually won the first ever Google Play Indie Games contest. So needless to say we were pumped to check out the sequel.

In Reigns, you play as the monarch of the land and make decisions that affect four aspects of the kingdom: the church, the people, the army, and the royal wealth. Your goal is to keep all four in balance — if any meter fills to the max or is entirely depleted your reign is over… and a new reign begins!

The sequel plays nearly identically to the first game, except this time you play as the Queen instead of the King, complete with new characters to interact with and multiple branching storylines to discover. The gameplay is as easy as swiping left or right on cards and if it’s anything like the first game there’s a ton of great easter eggs to find along the way!

I would hate to spoil anything for this new game, but if you played the first one and are afraid that it’s going to be too similar, I can assure you there are plenty of new mechanics to make this one of the best titles of 2017.

Download: Reigns: Her Majesty ($1.50)

Updated December 2018:Added Brawl Stars, RWBY: Amity Arena, and Holedown to our list. Our final picks for the best games you should be playing in 2018.

Get certified as a Lean Six Sigma project manager for just $49

Lean Six Sigma Bundle

Project Management is a golden ticket in many industries, so the AA Picks team loves getting wind of great offers on training kits. Today’s Lean Six Sigma deal particularly caught our eye.

The Official Lean Six Sigma Training and Certification Bundle contains over 35 hours of accredited training in the globally recognized Six Sigma and Lean methods, all for just $49.

Lean Six Sigma is a business management methodology that combines Lean and Six Sigma, two methodologies intended to improve performance by systematically removing waste. There are yellow, green, and black belt levels to attain. This bundle trains and certifies you in all three.

Lean Six Sigma Bundle

In such a competitive field, it’s not enough just to have the know-how; employers rely heavily on certifications to thin the herd when hiring.

This package fully prepares you for the IASSC exams, which are the most prestigious in the Lean Six Sigma game. Not only that, the bundle includes exams and certifications from Grey Campus, which is the professional training provider of these online courses. They’ve trained over 100,000 students.

The Official Lean Six Sigma bundle:

Given the value of the courses, by paying only $49 you’re saving around 95 percent with this deal. You get access to the materials for a whole year, so you can make qualifying as a high-flying project manager your New Year’s resolution.

The clock’s ticking on the deal, so hit the button below to find out more.

The AAPicks team writes about things we think you’ll like, and we may see a share of revenue from any purchases made through affiliate links. To see all our hottest deals, head over to the AAPICKS HUB.


Looking for a new phone or plan? Start here with the Android Authority Plan Tool:

This smart tool lets you filter plans by phone, price, data tiers, and regional availability. Stop overpaying for cell service you hate and a phone that you’re tired of. Use our Compare Phones & Plans tool to fully customize your mobile experience and painlessly transition from one carrier to another!

Amazon resumes Chromecast sales, three years after first giving Google the boot

Third-gen Chromecast

Amazon stopped selling Google’s Chromecast line back in 2015, claiming the sales halt was due to the streaming gadgets’ lack of support for Amazon Prime Video.

Now, three years after the online retailer first pulled the gadget, Android Police noticed that it has resumed sales of the streaming sticks. Amazon is currently selling two models, namely the third-generation Chromecast and the Chromecast Ultra. These retail for $35 and $69 respectively.

The standard device plugs into your TV’s HDMI port, allowing you to wirelessly send video streams from supported applications (e.g. Chrome, Netflix, Google Play Movies and TV, and YouTube) to your TV.

Meanwhile, the Ultra variant differs from the vanilla model by supporting 4K and HDR playback — the standard version tops out at 1080p.

Editor’s Pick

News of the streaming gadgets’ return comes almost exactly a year after Amazon first confirmed it would be selling them once again. It’s unclear why there was such a lengthy delay between the announcement and actual sales, but it’s also worth noting that the devices still don’t support Prime Video.

The decision to resume sales of the streaming sticks could likely mean one of a few things. Either Amazon decided to make an exception for Google, the Prime Video requirement was a lie, or an update to enable Chromecast support is coming (or it could be an entirely different reason).

NEXT: 15 best Chromecast apps for Android

Deal: Pick up a Galaxy S9, S9 Plus or Note 9 at Samsung.com, save up to $300

Samsung is offering up to $300 savings on Galaxy S9, Galaxy S9 Plus, and Galaxy Note 9 purchases from its online store.

The exact savings depend on carrier and model. For example, T-Mobile is offering a little bit less than the other carriers on the Galaxy Note 9 ($200 rather than $300) and the Galaxy S9 and S9 Plus ($200 rather than $250). The offer applies not only to the base models but the higher storage versions also.

If you take the base model on the carrier with the highest discount, you’re looking at $519.99 for the S9, $589.99 for the S9 Plus, and $699.99 for the Note 9. Of course, the caveat here is that you’re getting a branded device; if you want to take an unlocked model, you’ll end up paying $150-$200 more.

Editor’s Pick

The fine print also mentions AT&T’s $300 savings will apply instantly, while with Verizon you’ll get $100 instant savings with the remainder paid back in credit. It’s not immediately clear what the terms are for the T-Mobile and Sprint units.

There’s little else that needs to be said about these devices at this point — they’re among the best smartphones of 2018. In fact, the Galaxy Note 9 took home this award from us as well as in your Reader’s Choice awards.

If you’re interested, there’s still some time left to pick this one up for the holidays: hit the links below to check out the deals over at Samsung.com.

Buy now: Samsung Galaxy Note 9

Buy Now: Samsung Galaxy S9 or S9 Plus

 

Light up you home with an Amazon Echo Dot and a LIFX smart bulb for $35

Control your lights with just your voice!

Over at Amazon, you can pick up the 3rd-gen Amazon Echo Dot with a LIFX smart bulb for just $35. The newest Echo Dot alone is $30 at the moment making the additional bulb just $5. If you purchased these items separately right now, it would cost you $50 and it would be even more than that if they weren’t both on sale for the holidays.

The latest Echo Dot offers up to 70% better audio quality when listening to music, has a stylish new design, and is available in Charcoal, Heather Gray, and Sandstone options. You can pair two of them together for stereo sound, or connect it via Bluetooth (or 3.5mm cable) directly to another speaker that you prefer. With the Echo Dot you can use your voice to set the brightness of your LIFX bulb as well as access all of Alexa’s many skills. Control your smart thermostat, smart plug, and other smart home gear, and have measurements converted, find out the local weather, stream music, set timers, and more.

The deal is available on all three colors of Echo Dot, but the Charcoal model’s shipping time is already slipping so you won’t want to delay getting your order placed.

See at Amazon

Here are the 10 best Christmas tech gifts under $100

Christmas is not that far away, but plenty of you out there might have put off getting gifts until the last minute. That moment has now arrived, and some of you might not know what to get your family, friends, or colleagues.

Good news! There are plenty of quality gift ideas out there that should make anyone happy, and they don’t all cost an arm and a leg. Here are our picks for the 10 best Christmas gifts you can buy for under $100.

Roku Ultra 4K streaming media box

Best Christmas gifts - Roku

If your family or friends are interested in turning their television into a truly smart TV, the Roku Ultra 4K streaming media box is the best way to do just that. It supports streaming even from 4K video services, and they can even connect the box physically to a network router with its built-in Ethernet port for the best possible data connection. The Roku Ultra also comes with a remote that supports voice commands for searching for your favorite TV show or movie without a lot of tedious button pushing. It even ships with a pair of JBL headphones, which connect to the remote.

Editor’s Pick

The Roku OS offers access to thousands of streaming services, including all the major ones like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video and others. The Roku Channel also offers a selection of movies and TV shows for free, with ads. You can get the Roku Ultra from Amazon right now for $79.99.

Amazon Echo smart speaker

Best Christmas gifts - Echo

The leading smart speaker brand comes from Amazon, and it’s easy to see why. The Echo lineup of smart speakers lets people get information like news and weather with just their voice, along with fun stuff like playing music playlists, games, and more. You can even use Echo smart speakers to send commands to other smart devices, go shopping on Amazon, and more.

Editor’s Pick

The standard Amazon Echo speaker not only looks good, with its stitched fabric material you can get in different colors, but it also sounds great, thanks to its 2.5-inch woofer and its 0.6-inch tweeter. You can get this great Christmas gift at the moment on Amazon for just $69.99.

Barnes & Noble Nook tablet

Best Christmas gifts- Nook Barnes & Noble

Amazon’s family of Fire tablets are made for budget audiences, but they are limited by Fire OS and its app system. Installing standard Android apps requires side loading the Google Play Store, which can be a pain for anyone who gets one as a gift this holiday.

Editor’s Pick

Barnes & Noble is trying once again to go after Amazon’s tablet audience with its latest Nook tablet. It has a 7-inch IPS display and a resolution of 600 x 1,024. There’s 16GB of onboard storage which can be expanded to 128GB with the built-in microSD slot. Best of all, this is a true Android tablet, which means the person who gets this gift can download almost any Android app via the Google Play store. You can snap up the new Barnes & Noble Nook tablet right now for just $49.99, either online or at your closest Barnes & Noble location.

Amazon Kindle Paperwhite eReader

Best Christmas gifts - Kindle

 

Many of your friends or family might not want a full tablet, but they may still love to read. In that case, there’s really no better gift than the Amazon Kindle Paperwhite eReader. The e-ink screen it uses makes it easy to read text, and the 300 ppi glare-free display works great even in direct sunlight.

The standard Kindle Paperwhite has 8GB of storage — enough to store thousands of books. Users can even download magazines and audiobook to the Kindle Paperwhite. Amazon offers not just Wi-Fi hardware but also free cellular connections too, meaning your friends or family members can buy and download eBooks almost anywhere. Finally, the battery life should last at least a few weeks, even with heavy use. You can get the Amazon Kindle Paperwhite eReader right now for the special discount price of $99.99.

Nokia 2 smartphone

Best Christmas gifts - Nokia 2

Many people would like to get a new smartphone for the holidays, but you don’t have to spend tons of money to get one. The Nokia 2 comes in at $99, and it has a big 4,100mAh battery inside. Anyone you give this pone to should be able to use it for up to two days on a single charge, which could be pretty helpful.

The Nokia 2 also has a 5-inch display, a Qualcomm Snapdragon 212 processor, 1GB of RAM, 8GB of expandable onboard storage, an 8MP rear camera, and a 5MP front camera. It’s not really meant as a primary phone, but given its price and battery life, this can be a great gift for anyone who wants a secondary phone. It’s available now on Amazon, again for just $99.

JBL Flip 4 Bluetooth speaker

Best Christmas gifts - JBL

While smart speakers are cool, they don’t always offer the best sound quality. If your family or friends want a better audio experience while playing music from your smartphone, get a Bluetooth wireless speaker for them. Our sister site SoundGuys says the best Bluetooth speaker under $100 is the JBL Flip 4

Read more: Best Bluetooth speakers under $100

Not only does this speaker offer excellent sound quality for the price, it also has a Connect+ plus button. This allows the JBL Flip 4 to connect to up to 100 other speakers with this feature, which means you can buy one for each member of a family, and they can link them all up so the music plays everywhere. It’s also got a an IPX7 waterproof rating, which means your friends can take this to the pool once summer starts again with no worries. Finally, the battery should last up to 12 hours if they don’t have the volume all the way up. It’s available now on Amazon for $74.95.

Anker Soundcore Liberty Air wireless earbuds

Best Christmas gifts - Anker

More and more smartphones are shipping without the traditional headphone jack, which means your family and friends might be looking for some good wireless earbuds. Again, the team at SoundGuys has been trying them al. The best ones they found for under $100 is the Anker Soundcore Liberty Air earbuds.

Read more: Best wireless earbuds under $100

For such a low price for wireless earbuds, you get some solid audio quality with this Anker product, and it supports Bluetooth 5.0 for the best wireless connection. Indeed, our testing found these devices rarely dropped a signal, which is an issue with earbuds at lower price points. It only needs to be paired with your smartphone once, so when you take them out of the case, they should just work. They are also IPX5 certified for water resistance, which means they should be excellent for when you are working out at the gym. Finally, they have a battery life of up to 4.82 hours. They are available now from Amazon for $79.99

Samsung Wireless Charger Duo pad

Best Christmas gifts - Samsung Samsung.com

It’s likely some of your family and friends own a smartphone, or maybe even two, with wireless charging capabilities. It’s also possible that they own a smartwatch as well. For people who own both, you might want to get the Samsung Wireless Charger Duo pad, which can charge up two smartphones, or a phone and a smartwatch, at the same time.

Editor’s Pick

The larger pad supports any Qi-based smartphone, such as the Samsung Galaxy S9, the Galaxy Note 9,  or even phones like the Apple iPhone XSLG V40 ThinQ, and Google Pixel 3. The large pad can also be raised up so whoever gets this gift can watch videos hands-free on the phone while it charges up. The smaller pad can also charge up any Qi-based phone, or a smartwatch with the tech like the Samsung Galaxy Watch and the older Gear watches. It’s available now on Amazon for a discounted price of $79.84.

Anker PowerCore 20,100mAh portable charger

Best Christmas gifts - Anker

While wireless charging pads can be convenient, they are also not the fastest way to charge up your smartphone, nor are they usually all that compact. The Anker PowerCore 20,100mAh portable charger is the perfect gift for someone who wants to keep their phone powered up without the need to go searching for an open outlet.

Editor’s Pick

This portable charger should be able to power up their smartphone several times on a single charge with its large 20,100mAh battery. It also uses Anker’s own PowerIQ and VoltageBoost technology to charge up the phone as quickly as possible. In fact, it has two USB charging ports so it can handle two devices at the same time. Yet, for all of its capacity, it weighs just 12.5 ounces, which means it won’t be hard for whoever receives it to take it with them on a trip. It’s available on Amazon now for as low as $39.99.

Garmin vivofit 4 fitness tracker

Best Christmas gifts - Garmin

As we end 2018, many people are looking to 2019 as the year they finally get back in shape. If someone on your gift giving list wants to do that, one of the best ways they can keep track of their physical activities is with a fitness tracker. The  Garmin vivofit 4 not only will allow them to do just that, but it also won’t hurt your wallet when you buy one for them.

Editor’s Pick

The vivofit 4 is much lighter and slimmer to wear than a standard smartwatch, yet it can keep track of the number of steps your gift receiver takes, how many calories they have burned, and more. It even has a feature called Move IQ, which will automatically detect if they are walking, running, biking, using an elliptical, or swimming. Its color display is easy to read, its battery life should last up to a year, and it’s IP5 certified for water resistance, which means you can swim in the pool while wearing it. You can get the Garmin vivofit 4 from Amazon for $59.99.

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Xiaomi Mi Mix 3 will slide into the United Kingdom

Xiaomi Mi Mix 3 - slider mechanism

  • The Xiaomi Mi Mix 3 will reportedly land in the United Kingdom early next year.
  • The standout feature of the Mi Mix 3 is its sliding display, which enables a notch-less, all-screen experience.
  • There’s no word on what the Xiaomi Mi Mix 3 will cost.

The Xiaomi Mi Mix 3 is one of 2018’s most exciting devices. Its sliding display mechanism (which uses magnets!) gives it a novelty edge as well as a practical solution to the problem of the notch — the front-facing camera and various sensors are hidden behind the slider.

Now, it looks like the Xiaomi Mi Mix 3 is going to land in the United Kingdom early next year, according to Gizmodo.

We don’t know an exact date for the launch of the device, and we don’t know a price, either. However, the Mi Mix 3 sells for competitive prices in its native China. Here’s how that breaks down:

  • 3,299 yuan (~$479) for the 6GB+128GB model
  • 3,599 yuan (~$523) for the 8GB+128GB model
  • 3,999 yuan (~$581) for the 8GB+256GB model
Editor’s Pick

Judging from these numbers, it’s probably safe to assume the Mi Mix 3 will sell in the price range of 430 pounds — 530 pounds, give or take. Hopefully, Xiaomi doesn’t pull a Vivo and try to charge a much higher price for the same device in the U.K. as it does in China and India.

The Xiaomi Mi Mix 3 comes with a 6.39-inch AMOLED screen (2,340 x 1,080, 19.5:9 screen ratio), Snapdragon 845 processor, 3,200mAh battery, rear fingerprint scanner, dual cameras on the front and back, and Android 9 Pie out of the box.

Although the rollout of Xiaomi products in the United Kingdom didn’t go as smoothly as the company would have liked, U.K. residents are still lucky to have the ability to buy Xiaomi products at all. Here in the U.S., we’re still stuck ordering from third-party online companies.

NEXT: Xiaomi’s Gamepad 2.0 turns the Black Shark into a mini Nintendo Switch

Are bone conduction headphones comfortable?

Best answer: Most bone conduction headphones are designed to be comfortable even when working out, so you can enjoy them for as long as you want.

Amazon: AfterShokz Trekz Titanium ($100)

Designed to disappear on your head

Bone conduction headphones are a little different from your average set of headphones. Instead of covering your ears with little speakers or tiny drivers you shove into your ears to drown out the world, these headphones rest near the ear and vibrate sound into your body. The vibrations travel through a special bone near your ear called the Mastoid Process, and the end result is you can hear both the sound from your headphones and the sounds in the rest of the world as though they’re coming from the same places.

These headphones are easy to wear all day without issue.

But what does that mean for comfort? These headphones need to be touching the sides of your head in order to work, and it needs to press with a little bit of pressure for the best experience. When you put these headphones on, they feel a little snug. But they’re also designed to be worn in almost every environment, so the material pressing against your head is similar to the softer sporty material you’d see on a fitness tracker you wear on your wrist. These headphones are designed to be worn as you work out, in particular outside. I wear mine for long distance cycling, specifically because it’s lightweight and comfortable and you can hear everything around you.

Perhaps most interesting about these headphones is how quickly you can forget you are wearing them. That pressure on either side of your head is fairly easy to adjust to, and once you do these headphones are easy to wear all day without issue. On multiple occasions I have walked in to a meeting and caught a funny look from someone wondering what I was wearing, because I’d forgotten to remove my bone conduction headphones. It’s easy to forget them if you can’t feel them!

The one thing I can’t do with most bone conduction headphones is lay down with them on. The design is often fairly rigid, and that includes the band that runs across the back of my neck. If I try to lay down on these headphones, the rigid band pushes back and either becomes uncomfortable or moves the headphones away from the place I need them to be in order to hear anything. In any other situation, however, I find these headphones incredibly comfortable.

Our pick

AfterShokz Trekz Titanium

$100 at Amazon

Fully active headphones, for fully active people.

Some of the best headphones for people who want to listen to music while working out or walking around a busy city. Easily the best bone conduction headphones you can buy.

Deal: Learn how to build a computer or upgrade your laptop

Build a Computer Bundle

I work on a laptop every day, but I’m at its mercy. I have no idea how it works. If it decides to stop working, I have to take it to a guy and ask for help. If he says a number of dollars I have to pay, because if I don’t my laptop doesn’t start working again.

I’m just being lazy. If I knew how my computer worked, I could maintain and upgrade it. After all, it’s not made of cobwebs and magic.

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Build a Computer Bundle

Knowing these skills could save you money when buying too. When you purchase a computer you’re paying for the components and the labor that put it together. If you know how it all fits together, then you can buy the parts and build it yourself. You’d save a bundle.

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Honor Magic 2 review: A phone full of new tricks

The Honor Magic 2 is an exclusive smartphone to China markets, but it’s a very compelling device and could pave the way for future smartphones. It has a slider design, six cameras, an in-screen fingerprint sensor, and a notch-free bezel-less display.

Is the experience as magical as it sounds or is this phone simply just smoke and mirrors? Find out in our Honor Magic 2 review.

Design

Honor Magic 2

On the outside, the Honor Magic 2 looks like your average flagship smartphone. It’s constructed of glass panels on the front and rear with a metal frame holding it all together. The build quality is exceptional. The entire phone makes heavy use of rounded corners, sides, and tapered edges for a sleek appearance that’s more comfortable.

Honor Magic 2 slider

The slider form factor allows Honor to achieve a nearly bezel-less screen with no notch and have the front facing cameras hidden.

What makes the Honor Magic 2’s design unique is its slider mechanism. This is similar to the Xiaomi Mi Mix 3 and will give you feelings of nostalgia if you ever used old school slider phones from yesteryears. The slider form factor allows Honor to achieve a nearly bezel-less screen with no notch and have the front facing cameras hidden. Sliding the screen downwards will reveal the three front-facing cameras.

Honor Magic 2 front camera

Having a moving part on a smartphone undoubtedly raises concerns over hardware failure but I don’t see this slider failing anytime soon. The slider mechanism feels sturdy, durable, and solidly holds the front and back half of the phone into place whether the phone is opened or closed. The slider mechanism does, however, prevent the phone from being water and dust resistant. Dust actually collects quite easily in the areas exposed when the slider is open. So far this hasn’t negatively affected the Magic 2 in any way, but do your best to keep these areas clean all the same.

Honor Magic 2

Just like the Huawei P20 Pro from Honor’s parent company, the Magic 2 features gradient color schemes. The model I’ve been using is the black edition, but it looks more silver than black. The Magic 2 also comes in red and blue variants. The black model flows from a bright silver on the top half to a dark blue on the bottom half of the phone. The gradient color is beautiful and eye-catching, but the reflective finish makes the Magic 2 hard to keep clean from fingerprints. The protruding camera lenses on the rear are also a magnet for dust and equally difficult to keep clean.

Display

Honor Magic 2 display

The Honor Magic 2 features a large 6.39-inch full-view 2,340 x 1,080 AMOLED display with incredibly thin bezels surrounding all sides. As mentioned earlier, there is no notch, so you get a fullscreen experience with no cutout. The display looks gorgeous. Colors are vibrant, viewing angles are fantastic, and the screen is sharp and crisp. Viewing content on this display is enjoyable and text and graphics are easy to read. Outdoor visibility on the Magic 2’s display also posed no issues, it gets plenty bright to comfortably see in direct sunlight.

Performance

Honor Magic 2

Editor’s Pick

The Honor Magic 2 is no slouch in performance. The Magic 2 has the same horsepower as the Huawei Mate 20 Pro, with a Kirin 980 SoC and 6GB or 8GB of RAM. The Kirin 980 is one of the most powerful chipsets on the market so it’s no surprise that the Magic 2 performs very well in benchmarks and real-world use. The phone is extremely fast to launch applications, multitask, and navigating through the UI is a silky smooth experience. Gaming is also great. High-end titles from the Google Play Store such as Shadowgun Legends runs smoothly with great graphics and consistent frame rates.





Battery life performance is equally impressive. Although the 3,400mAh battery is not as large as those of Huawei’s P series and Mate series, it’s been more than adequate for the Honor Magic 2. With a good mixture of reading emails, text messages, browsing social media, playing games, and watching YouTube, Magic 2 easily lasted me through a full day. Screen-on time consistently reached the five-hour mark which should be more than enough for most users. The Honor Magic 2 also features a 40W fast charger in the box that gets you a 50 percent charge in only 15 minutes.




Hardware

Honor Magic 2 usb c

Hardware on the Honor Magic 2 is fairly run of the mill. There’s a single USB Type-C port at the bottom accompanied by a single speaker. You won’t find a headphone jack anywhere on the device. There’s also no wireless charging or microSD expansion but the Magic 2 offers plenty of internal storage with 128 and 256-gigabyte options.

Honor Magic 2 fingerprint sensor

It isn’t frustratingly awful to use but it’s not as good as a standard fingerprint sensor.

The Honor Magic 2 has an in-display fingerprint sensor, similar to the Oppo R17 Pro and the OnePlus 6T. A small area of the display is illuminated with a fingerprint graphic to show you where to place your finger to properly unlock the device. One thing all in-display fingerprint sensors currently have in common is their slowness an inconsistency — the Magic 2 is no different. It isn’t frustratingly awful to use but it’s not as good as a standard fingerprint sensor. This technology will get considerably better over time but we probably won’t get to that point until next year.

Camera

Honor Magic 2 rear cameras

Another truly unique feature of the Honor Magic 2 is the camera setup, because it has six sensors — three on the rear and three on the front. The main camera on the rear is a 16-megapixel f/1.8 lens, accompanied by a 16-megapixel wide angle and 24-megapixel monochrome sensor. The monochrome sensor is used for capturing black and white photos and portrait mode photography.

Honor Magic 2

The main front-facing camera is also 16MP, flanked by two additional 2MP cameras. The main sensor is the only one for taking photos, while the 2MP sensors are meant for 3D facial unlocking, portrait mode, and portrait mode lighting effects. The 3D facial unlock works very well and is extremely fast. Slide the phone open to reveal the camera, and the phone unlocks before you know it. This is a much more secure option for unlocking the Magic 2, and it’s much faster and more reliable than the fingerprint sensor.

Both the front and rear cameras take advantage of the Kirin 980’s NPU, incorporating AI scene recognition. This means the camera can recognize scenes and objects like food, plants, urban landscapes, pets, and more, and adjust the image accordingly for the best results. While having the AI scene recognition enabled makes a difference in the way the images look, it isn’t easily noticeable in every scene. In some situations, you might even prefer your photos without the AI enhancements and it’s probably better to keep it turned off if you prefer to tweak your images manually.



General image quality from the rear camera is quite impressive and I found very little to complain about with the Magic 2 as my daily smartphone camera. The camera produces sharp images with accurate colors and excellent contrast. Dynamic range on the Honor Magic 2’s cameras provides great shadow and highlight detail and high contrast situations were handled very well. The camera also performs well in low light. Details are still very crisp and sharp, images are still full of color, and there is very little noise. Highlights in low light situations are handled very well thanks to the camera’s excellent dynamic range. There’s no blooming or overexposure which helps retain plenty of detail.

We’ve included a gallery below for easy viewing but you can see the full resolution images by clicking here.

Software

Honor Magic 2

If you don’t like EMUI, the Magic 2 won’t do much to change your opinion.

The Honor Magic 2 ships with the latest Android 9.0 Pie with Magic UI 2.0 on top. Magic UI is essentially the same interface as EMUI found on other Honor or Huawei devices, but it’s been rebranded for the Magic 2. If you’ve used EMUI before and enjoy the experience, you’ll feel right at home on the Magic 2. If you don’t like EMUI, the Magic 2 won’t do much to change your opinion. I prefer a more stock-like experience so EMUI’s colorful and cartoonish aesthetics aren’t exactly my cup of tea.




With Magic UI 2.0 Honor has implemented its own AI assistant called “YOYO.” This virtual assistant is machine-learning capable and supposed to have mind-reading capabilities, which sounds strange to say the least. Unfortunately, I was unable to test this feature, as it currently only understands Mandarin. This makes sense considering the Honor Magic 2 is only marketed in China. Because this is a device for China markets you’ll also find many Chinese applications pre-installed. Should this device ever come to other markets these apps will most likely not be installed but it’s something to be aware of should you decide to import the Magic 2.

Specifications

  Honor Magic 2
Display 6.39-inch AMOLED
2340 x 1080
403PPI
SoC Huawei Kirin 980
Octa-core CPU (2 @ 2.6GHz, 2 @ 1.92GHz, 4 @ 1.8GHz)
Dual NPU
GPU Arm Mali-G76 MP10
720Mhz
RAM 6GB/8GB
LPDDR4X
Storage 128GB/256GB
Non-expandable
Cameras Main: 16MP f/1.8 sensor
Second: 16MP f/2.2 ultra wide angle sensor
Third: 24MP f/1.8 monochrome sensor
Front:
Main: 16MP f/2.0 sensor
Second: 2MP f/2.4 sensor
Third: 2MP f/2.4 sensor
Audio No headphone jack
Battery 3,400mAh
40 watt SuperCharge
Sensors Gravity
Proximity
Hall
Ambient Light
Front 3D camera
In-Display Fingerprint
Connectivity Wi-FI 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, 2.4Ghz/5Ghz
Bluetooth 5.0
Dual frequency GPS
Glonass
Beidou
Galileo
QZSS
NFC
USB Type-C
SIM Dual nano-SIM
Software Magic UI 2.0 or EMUI 9.0
Android 9.0 Pie
Dimensions and weight 157.32 x 75.13 x 8.3mm
206g
Colors Black, Blue, Red

Pricing & final thoughts

Honor Magic 2 design

The Honor Magic 2 costs 3,799 yuan (~$545) for the base model with 6GB RAM and 128GB of storage, 4,299 yuan (~$615) for 8GB RAM and 128GB model, and 4,799 yuan (~$690) for the 8GB RAM version with 256GB of storage. Pricing is very competitive compared to many other flagship smartphones.

Considering how feature packed and powerful the Magic 2 is, it’s a great deal. The notch free display, six cameras, and slider design offer a wonderful and unique hardware experience. The unfortunate part is you’ll most likely pay a lot more to import it, as Honor has no plans to release it elsewhere. If you want a similar slider phone experience, the more widely available Xiaomi Mi Mix 3 might be a better option.

Next: Xiaomi Mi Mix 3 hands-on: The bezel-less slider