Visible quietly adds ultra-budget ZTE phone to its available Android devices

 

  • There’s a new budget ZTE phone available as part of Visible’s wireless service.
  • The $99 device is no powerhouse, but looks nice and has some surprising features.
  • Visible, a subsidiary of Verizon, has a one-size-fits-all plan which costs $40 per month.

Verizon subsidiary Visible just added an ultra-budget ZTE phone to its very short list of supported Android devices. The ZTE Visible R2 starts at only $99.

It was only a week ago that the company announced Android support on its previously iOS-only network. With that announcement, Visible revealed it will support the Samsung Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9 Plus at first with more devices to come in the future.

Eventually, you will be able to bring own Android phones to the network, but the company is still signing deals with OEMs in that regard. In the meantime, the S9, S9 Plus, and this ZTE Visible R2 are your only options.

Since the R2 costs less than $100, it’s obviously not going to be a powerhouse. The R2 features a 5.45-inch HD+ LCD display in an 18:9 aspect ratio. It packs an unnamed 1.4GHz quad-core processor, a 3,100mAh battery, and 16GB of onboard storage (expandable up to 2TB with the built-in microSD slot). The listing does not say how much RAM the device has, but we can’t imagine it being more than 4GB.

Surprisingly, the R2 does have a USB-C port for charging and data transfer, which is pretty remarkable considering the price of the phone.

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On the back, there’s a single 13MP camera sensor and a fingerprint scanner. There’s also a seemingly-textured back coating that gives off an early OnePlus One vibe. On the front, there’s a 5MP selfie cam.

The Visible R2 will ship with Android Oreo — we wouldn’t bet on it getting an upgrade to Android 9 Pie.

Visible’s one-size-fits-all service costs $40 per month and includes unlimited data, text, talk, and hotspot on the Verizon network with no throttling. However, speeds are limited to 5Mbps and video streaming is downgraded to 480p.

Click the button below to check out Visible’s service and the ZTE Visible R2.

Pre-order the Nubia Red Magic Mars now at a discount, starts at $389

If you’ve had your eye on the Nubia Red Magic Mars gaming phone, now is the time to buy: Nubia has the device up for pre-order in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, and Europe.

What’s more, Nubia is selling the phone at a $10 discount and including some freebies, too — as well as offering a contest in which it will refund the cost of the phone to five random winners.

The Nubia Red Magic Mars — which we saw hands-on at CES 2019 — is part of the latest crop of so-called gaming phones which usually feature hardware, software, and design language that will appeal to hardcore gamers. The Red Magic Mars has a nifty light running vertically down the back which changes colors, akin to the Razer Chroma effect, and also has unique trigger keys on the sides.

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Inside, the Magic Mars has the latest Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 processor and a 3,800mAh battery. The software is Android 9 Pie out-of-the-box, and it even has a headphone jack.

If you pre-order today, you’ll have the choice between 6GB of RAM and 64GB of internal storage or 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage. There eventually will be a 10GB/256GB variant, but that isn’t available at the moment (besides, you don’t need 10GB of RAM).

The 6/64 variant will start at $389 and the 8/128 variant is $439, which are very low prices considering the specs and features of the phone. You can also choose between a black or red color.

Click below to pre-order the Nubia Red Magic Mars now. If you want to learn more about the device, check out our hands-on.

There’s still hope for net neutrality in the US

Win McNamee/Getty Images

Net neutrality advocates actually have something to be happy about today — a federal appeals court heard arguments earlier today against the Federal Communications Commission’s net neutrality repeal. Not only that, but a U.S. Senate Democrat announced he will “soon” introduce a new net neutrality bill.

Judges Robert Wilkins, Patricia Millett, and Stephen Williams heard the arguments for two and a half hours in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. According to Reuters, the arguments revolved around classifying internet providers under law either as ISPs or public utilities.

The arguments also focused on whether the FCC stuck to procedural protocol when it repealed the net neutrality rules in December 2017. At the time, the FCC voted 3-2 along party lines to reverse the President Barack Obama-era classification of the internet as a public utility. Dubbed “net neutrality,” the rules prevented ISPs from offering paid fast lanes or throttling traffic from and to certain websites.

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“This wasn’t how the internet was meant to be,” Mozilla chief operating officer Denelle Dixon told The Washington Post. Dixon is leading the court fight against the FCC, along with 22 state attorneys general and several tech companies which include Reddit, Vimeo, and Etsy.

“An internet that enables consumer choice necessarily protects net neutrality. Without protecting net neutrality, [broadband providers] will control the Internet experiences of everyone. And that cannot be what happens.”

In response to the oral arguments, FCC chief of staff Matthew Berry told The Washington Post that the internet has continued to thrive since the FCC’s net neutrality repeal.

“The U.S. Supreme Court has already affirmed the FCC’s authority to classify broadband as a Title I information service, and we have every reason to believe that the judiciary will uphold the FCC’s decision to return to that regulatory framework.”

The U.S. Court of Appeals is expected to make a decision by this summer.

New net neutrality bill?

On one side, the FCC is fighting to keep its net neutrality repeal. On the other side, the FCC might be fighting to keep a new net neutrality bill away from politicians. That’s thanks to U.S. Senator Ed Markey (D-MA), who will “soon” introduce a bill that will permanently reinstate the repealed net neutrality rules.

In a statement sent to The Verge, a spokesperson for Markey said the bill would codify net neutrality rules into law. In a separate statement, Markey said the bill introduction was imminent.

“Whether in the halls of the courts or the halls of Congress, we will fight to defend net neutrality. Nothing less than the fate of the internet is being argued in this court case, and we must do everything we can in this historic fight.”

Back in May 2018, Markey was part of a group of Senate Democrats that led a Senate vote to undo the net neutrality repeal. The vote didn’t go Markey’s way and net neutrality was officially removed one month later.

That said, there’s room for cautious optimism this time around. Democrats now hold a majority in the House of Representatives, so passing a net neutrality measure at that level would be much easier now.

Also, most U.S. states continue to push back against the net neutrality repeal — five states issued executive orders to maintain net neutrality, over 20 state attorneys general filed lawsuits, and over 30 states wrote state legislation to retain net neutrality.

That said, Republicans continue to hold the majority in the Senate and will likely be huge roadblocks for any net neutrality measure. The measure might not even be heard since Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) could refuse to take the bill to the floor.

AT&T Samsung Galaxy Note 9 reportedly getting Android 9 Pie update now

Samsung Experience Homescreen

With Verizon and Sprint rolling out Android 9 Pie to the Samsung Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9 Plus, it would have seemed like a good bet that Verizon or Sprint would be the first U.S. carrier to roll out the update to the Samsung Galaxy Note 9.

However, it looks like AT&T is coming in with the update first. According to users on Reddit, the AT&T-branded Note 9 is receiving the Android 9 Pie update right now.

Unfortunately, it appears many Redditors are experiencing very slow download times for the roughly 1.8GB update. It could be that so many people are trying to download it at once that the servers are buckling under the pressure.

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With that in mind, if the update is coming in at a slow trickle, there’s not much you can do except wait.

As with the Android 9 Pie update for the Galaxy S9, this Samsung Galaxy Note 9 upgrade will feature a new version of Samsung’s Android skin known as One UI. The new skin is an update to Samsung Experience which itself was an update to Samsung TouchWiz.

For a more thorough review of One UI, click the link below.

NEXT: Hands-on with Samsung One UI and Android Pie on the Galaxy S9

An official-looking render seemingly confirms the Galaxy S10 Plus’ design (Update: More images)

Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus Leaked Render 91mobiles

Update, Jan. 31, 2019 ( 3:55pm ET): On the heels of this morning’s leaked render, WinFuture has released similar photos of the Galaxy S10 and the Galaxy S10 Plus in multiple colorways and angles. You can view a handful of the new images below.

Galaxy S10 Colorway
Galaxy S10 side angle
Galaxy S10 Colorway
Galaxy S10 Leak Side Angle

Additionally, WinFuture put the renders of the Galaxy S10 and the Galaxy S10 Plus side by side so you can see the size comparison. If rumors are to be believed, the smaller of the two will come in with a 5.8-inch display while the Plus model will have a 6.2-inch screen.

Samsung Galaxy S10 Size Comparison
Samsung Galaxy S10 Size Comparison

Original post, Jan. 31, 2019 (12:00pm ET): With MWC just a couple of weeks away, 2019’s smartphone announcement season is just about to start. As is tradition, Samsung’s latest flagship has been leaking all over the internet. This time, 91mobiles claims to have been given official renders of the Galaxy S10 Plus.

As you can see, the handset in the leaked image pretty closely matches leaked CAD models and real-life photos that we’ve seen up until this point. To no one’s surprise, the larger of the two Galaxy S10 models looks to have a dual-sensor hole punch in the top right corner of the display and three cameras around back.

Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus Leaked Close Up 91mobiles

This render also seemingly confirms the fact that Samsung is ditching the rear-mounted fingerprint sensor. Instead, the South Korean manufacturer is rumored to be including an in-display sensor that will pair with the company’s usual facial-recognition tech.

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Other than that, there’s isn’t anything new to learn from this render. The button layout appears to match what we’ve seen in previous years with the power button positioned on the right side of the phone and the volume rocker and Bixby button on the left. And because of the Infinity-O display, the Galaxy S10 Plus features smaller bezels compared to Samsung’s older handsets.

As a refresher, the Galaxy S10 Plus is rumored to have a 6.4-inch display which would match the Note 9’s. Additionally, the handset should come with the Snapdragon 855 or Exynos 9820 SoC depending on the region, 6GB to 12GB of RAM, and up to a terabyte of built-in storage.

Samsung is set to announce the Galaxy S10 and Galaxy S10 Plus at an Unpacked event on February 20 in San Francisco.

UltraViolet is shutting down: Here’s how to save your media

The UltraViolet movie locker service was one of the film industry’s first attempts to curb piracy and embrace the proliferation of digital media. However, the company just announced the service will end on July 31, 2019.

Until that date, UltraViolet services will continue to operate as normal; you’ll still be able to stream the content in your locker without issue. After July 31, though, your account will automatically close so you’ll no longer be able to access your content through the UltraViolet service.

Instead, you will need to access your content from the retailer sites from which you originally purchased that content or services which support those media titles. For example, this could be Fandango Now, Vudu, or Verizon Fios. Click here for the full list of retailers.

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However, UltraViolet does not currently have a fallback plan for users with untransferable content purchased through now-defunct retailers or from media added to the service through the previous purchase of physical Blu-Ray discs or DVDs. It is quite possible those users will lose access to some or all of that content permanently.

If you live in the United States, you can transfer much of your library to UltraViolet’s main competitor: the Disney-owned Movies Anywhere. However, it’s possible not all of your titles will transfer and those of you who live outside the United States cannot access Disney’s service — so this is not a fool-proof plan.

If you have media in an UltraViolet locker, you will need to find a new home for that content before July 31, 2019.

Also, Movies Anywhere doesn’t support television episodes, so any TV shows in your UltraViolet library will have to be connected to a different service. If you cannot do this, you could lose access to that content.

If you have an UltraViolet library, it would be a good idea to get started on connecting your locker to other retailers as soon as possible. That way, if there does end up being any content you could lose, you will have plenty of time to figure out the best way forward.

Click here to begin the process of connecting your UltraViolet media to other retailers.

NEXT: How sci-fi movies and TV shows have imagined mobile phones, smartphones and tablets

Lenovo’s huge Yoga Chromebook now comes with a 4K display and backlit keyboard

Lenovo Yoga Chromebook

Announced at IFA 2018, the Lenovo Yoga Chromebook has only been available with a 1080p display. Starting today, you can pick up the Yoga Chromebook with a 4K display and backlit keyboard from Lenovo’s website for $899.99.

That’s a tough price to swallow for those who aren’t sold on Chrome OS yet. That said, the 15.6-inch display with 3,840 x 2,160 resolution, aluminum build, and powerful internals have the makings for a great experience when navigating Google’s desktop OS.

You’ll have to wait a bit to get the 4K version of the Yoga Chromebook, however — the laptop ships in “more than 5 weeks.” If you can’t wait that long, you can go to Best Buy and pick up the 1080p variant.

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Apart from the 4K display and backlit keyboard, everything about this Yoga Chromebook variant is the same as the version available through Best Buy. That means a 360-degree hinge, island-style keyboard, glass-covered trackpad, a quad-core eight-generation Intel Core i5-8250U processor, 8GB of RAM, 128GB of storage, a 56Wh battery.

Keep in mind that the Yoga Chromebook sold through Lenovo and Best Buy might differ when it comes to the keyboard. According to Chrome Unboxed, the Yoga Chromebooks available on Lenovo’s website come with backlit keys — the version available through Best Buy do not feature backlit keys.

You can pick up the 4K Yoga Chromebook at the link below.

End of Google+ is close: No new profiles starting next week, full schedule here

If you were thinking about joining the hot new social media platform Google+ next week, we have some bad news for you: starting February 4, this coming Monday, the creation of new consumer-level Google+ profiles won’t be possible.

Google revealed the profile creation termination date in a new support article. The post also describes other notable dates coming up for the previously announced planned demise of the beleaguered consumer version of the social network.

Check out the notable dates below:

  • February 4, 2019 — You will no longer be able to create new Google+ profiles, pages, communities, or events.
  • February 4 to March 7, 2019 — The Google+ feature for website comments will be removed by Blogger on February 4 and other sites by March 7.
  • Mid-February or early March 2019 — Google+ sign-in buttons will stop working, but in some cases will be replaced by a Google sign-in button.
  • Early March 2019 — Google+ Community owners and moderators who are downloading data from their Community will gain additional access to data such as author, body, and photos for every community post in a public community.
  • April 2, 2019 — All Google+ comments on all sites will be deleted. Additionally, all Google+ accounts and pages will be shut down and Google will begin deleting content from consumer Google+ accounts. Photos and videos from Google+ in users’ Album Archive and Google+ pages will also be deleted. Photos and videos backed up in Google Photos will not be deleted.
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Google is providing plenty of ways for you to prepare for the shutdown of Google+. You can use the company’s Takeout program to back up some of your data, but Google is also providing a Google+ backup tool that will do a more thorough job. The Google+ Exporter app will export your data and keep everything nicely organized. It’s free for the most recent 3,000 posts in your Google+ profile.

It should be noted that Google+ for G Suite users isn’t going anywhere. In fact, the platform received a promise of new 2019 updates in October 2018.

While the end of Google+ is no doubt sad, especially for the small subset of users who still use it on a day-to-day basis, there’s no way around it, now: Google+ is coming to a close. It’s time to start backing up your data and moving on.

NEXT: Here lies Google+: Why it never scored (a lasting audience)

You can now use YouTube Music with your Sonos speakers

YouTube Music icon

If you’ve been waiting to use YouTube Music with your Sonos speaker, today’s your lucky day — Google announced that the music streaming service is now available to play on all Sonos speakers.

So long as you have either a YouTube Music Premium or YouTube Premium subscription, you can play your entire YouTube Music library through the Sonos Controller app. You also have access to YouTube Music’s “recommended” listening suggestions, new releases, YouTube Charts, and the “Your Mixtape” personalized playlist.

Here are the full instructions to add YouTube Music to the Sonos Controller app:

  1. Open the Sonos Controller app.
  2. Tap More from the menu on the bottom of the screen.
  3. Tap Add Music Services.
  4. Select YouTube Music > Add to Sonos.
  5. Tap I’m already a member.
  6. Tap Authorize and paste the code presented on the previous screen.
  7. Tap Next and sign in to or select your YouTube Music account.
  8. Return to the Sonos app.
  9. Enter an account and then click Done.

You’ll have to go back to the YouTube Music app if you want to search for songs and videos, however. The announcement post doesn’t mention the ability to use the standard YouTube Music app with Sonos speakers, so keep that in mind.

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Also keep in mind that you can use YouTube Music with your Sonos speaker if you have a Google Play Music subscription. YouTube Music is free to use, but you’ll need some sort of premium subscription to use it with your Sonos speaker.

On a related note, Sonos speakers already work with Google Play Music if you don’t like YouTube Music.

Kodi 18.0 integrates DRM decryption tools, among other new features

  • Kodi 18.0 was released today, an upgrade two years in the making.
  • The new version features a DRM decryption tool, allowing you to stream media content from third-parties within Kodi.
  • Kodi 18.0 also features an upgraded music player, support for game emulators, and Android Leanback and voice controls.

Today, Kodi 18.0 is finally live and available to all. The update — two years in the making — brings a bevy of new features to give users total control over their media library. It also, notably, officially allows you access to libraries you don’t control.

The biggest new feature of Kodi 18.0 — which was codenamed “Leia” — is a new DRM decryption tool. Using this, a Kodi user can connect a protected streaming service to their Kodi interface and then access that content without having to leave Kodi.

In other words, you can consume media content from a provider you legally pay for — something like Netflix, for example — without having to swap to your Netflix app. You can do it all right in Kodi.

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You might be thinking that this new tool sounds legally dubious, and you’re sort of right. According to the Kodi team itself, they had “a hard time figuring out if being able to play DRMed content in this way would be considered unethical.” That quote is from a 2017 blog post penned by Kodi developer “h.udo,” when work on version 18.0 was just beginning.

While there’s nothing patently illegal about streaming content from Netflix, HBO, Amazon, or other media companies in this way, it’s a sure bet that the companies would rather you didn’t. Media streaming networks prefer to have control over how you view their content, and there’s no evidence to suggest any of the major platforms condone this usage.

However, the Kodi development team has always danced on the thin line between legal and illegal, so this new tool isn’t too surprising.

It should be noted that Plex — Kodi’s main competitor in the streaming space — is rumored to be considering a similar feature. However, it appears Plex is going the decidedly ethical route of working with streaming platforms directly, as it did with music streaming service Tidal.

These new Kodi features make the service even more powerful than it already is.

The latest version of Kodi also introduces support for gaming emulators, ROMs, and controls. This will surely be a welcome addition for folks who love to play retro games and haven’t already integrated their libraries with something like RetroArch or Launchbox.

Kodi 18.0 also introduces new music player upgrades (including the ability to sort by an artist’s gender, for some reason), live TV improvements, and Android Leanback and voice controls.

That last one is pretty cool because it allows you to use Google Assistant to control Kodi within an Android TV environment. For example, you could launch Kodi using Google Assistant and then use your voice to “type” into search bars and text boxes within Kodi.

You can see all the latest changes to Kodi 18.0 on its changelog here.

NEXT: Problems with Kodi not working and how to fix them