FCC disappointed with US carriers’ response to Hurricane Michael

  • FCC chairman Ajit Pai is not thrilled with the U.S. carriers’ slow restoration of their service in areas affected by Hurricane Michael.
  • Florida governor Rick Scott specifically called out Verizon for misleading customers with its network restoration progress.
  • All four major U.S. carriers offer bill credits, free service, or waived overage fees to customers in affected areas.

Even though Hurricane Michael is now a memory, its effects are still being met as the death toll continues to climb and power continues to be nonexistent in many neighborhoods. Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint experienced network outages of their own and continue to increase efforts to restore their networks. However, those efforts might not be enough to satisfy the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

In a recent statement, FCC chairman Ajit Pai slammed U.S. carriers for their slow efforts to restore service in areas affected by Hurricane Michael. Pai called the lack of full cellular service “completely unacceptable” and said the FCC will open an investigation into each of the carrier’s post-hurricane restoration efforts.

Pai also called on U.S. carriers to waive the bills of Florida residents in affected areas for October. Pai did not name any carriers in his statement, but we can guess that at least the four major carriers are the target of his wrath.

In a statement of his own, Florida governor Rick Scott specifically criticized Verizon and said the carrier misled the public with the statistic that 98 percent of Florida has service. Pai and Scott called for carriers to not penalize Florida residents who want to switch carriers in the wake of Hurricane Michael.

The carriers respond

In an email, Verizon said it will offer three months of free service to “every Verizon customer in Bay and Gulf counties.” On its network update page, Verizon also mentioned that it brought two new cell sites in service overnight and will deploy a new mobile cell site today. The carrier also set up two new charging stations for local shelters, but did not say when it expects to fully restore service.

Editor’s Pick

AT&T, meanwhile, said it offers bill credits to customers in Bay, Calhoun, Franklin, Gulf, Liberty, Taylor, and Wakulla counties. AT&T will continue to offer credits through October 21 and said service is “nearly fully restored in most affected areas.” AT&T also did not say when it expects to completely restore service.

On its Hurricane Michael update page, T-Mobile said service in North Carolina, Georgia, and Virginia are “almost fully recovered.” However, sites on the Florida Panhandle “will likely experience a longer recovery timeline.” T-Mobile did not provide that timeline on the website, though it offers certain Florida and George residents free calling, texting, and data if they are not already on an unlimited plan and are active postpaid or prepaid customers.

Finally, Sprint said it will waive call, text, and data overage fees between October 10 and October 18. The carrier also announced it provides 25 handsets and/or hotspots to any state or local government agency impacted by Hurricane Michael. Sprint did not say what progress on service restoration currently looks like, however.

Honor 8X launches in India – looks like a million bucks, available for less than $250

In a press conference in New Delhi, Honor announced the launch of its latest smartphone, the Honor 8X, in India. Honor has released a number of smartphones in 2018 — perhaps too many – but most of these offer exceptional value and build quality that punches well above their price tag. The Honor 8X fits into that portfolio easily.

Quintessential Honor Smartphone

The Honor 8X looks like the quintessential Honor smartphone, featuring a glossy textured glass back finish with its dazzling light reflecting properties, metal trim, notched display, and eye-catching looks all around.

The Honor 8X sports a 6.5-inch LTPS LCD display with a 2340 x 1080 resolution, producing a density of 397 pixels per inch. The 91 percent screen-to-body ratio and minimal chin are undeniably impressive, giving the handset more screen to work.

The combination of metal and gradient glass looks and feels great and the Honor 8X rivals the design and aesthetics of premium flagship handsets which cost significantly more.

Mid-range Specifications

While the display and design aesthetics appear premium, the hardware specifications for the Honor 8X hover somewhere between mid- and low-end. The Honor 8X runs Android 8.1 Oreo skinned with EMUI 8.2 on top.

Editor’s Pick

On the processing side, there’s a distinctly mid-range Kirin 710 SoC, which offers powerful Cortex-A73 CPU cores but a lower end Mali-G51 GPU. The handset comes in three memory variants with combinations of 4GB or 6GB of RAM and 64GB or 128GB of internal storage.

The handset’s microUSB connector with USB 2.0 data speeds feels dated though. Fast charging capabilities are included, but we’re capped at 5V/2A.

  Honor 8X
Display 6.5 inches
2,340 x 1,080
19.5:9 notched display
91% screen-to-body ratio
Processor HiSilicon Kirin 710
Octa-Core (4 x Cortex-A73 2.2 GHz + 4 x Cortex-A53 1.7 GHz)
GPU Mali-G51 MP4
RAM 4GB or 6GB
Storage 64GB or 128GB
Battery 3,750mAh
Cameras Rear dual cameras:
20MP (f/1.8 aperture) + 2 MP

Single front camera:
16MP (f/2.0 aperture)

Software Android 8.1 Oreo
Skinned with EMUI 8.2
Connectivity WiFi 802.11 ac (2.4 and 5GHz)
Bluetooth 5
GPS
GLONASS
Network 900MHz, 1800MHz, 800MHz, 2GHz
Bands 38, 39, 40, 41 (2555-2575 MHZ, 2575-2635 MHZ, 2635-2655 MHZ)
Band 1, Band 3, 1.9 GHz, I, VIII
Ports microUSB
3.5mm headphone jack
SIM Dual nano SIM
Dimensions 160.4 x 76.6 x 7.8mm
Weight 175g
Colors Black, Blue, Red, Purple

AI Cameras

There’s a familiar looking dual camera setup on the back of the Honor 8X. The primary sensor offers 20-megapixels of resolution with a f/1.8 aperture and Phase Detection Auto Focus. The 2MP secondary camera is used entirely for depth calculation, enabling re-adjustable aperture and bokeh after taking the picture. The front-facing camera is a 16-megapixel affair with a f/2.0 aperture.

Honor’s big selling point with all of its recent phones are their AI camera capabilities. The Honor 8X recognizes 22 different scenarios in which it can apply custom exposure and color corrections.

Pricing and Availability

The Honor 8X is a super-sized phablet with a premium design that stands out in a crowd with mid-range specifications sheet and dated hardware choices.

The Honor 8X comes in in blue, black, and red color variants and will be available for purchase in India starting October 24, exclusively on Amazon.in. The customers can also purchase 8X from www.hihonor.com/in.

The 4GB + 64GB variant is priced at 14,999 rupees ($203), the 6GB + 64GB variant at 16,999 rupees ($231), while the top variant with 6GB + 128GB will set you back with 18,999 rupees ($258).

What do you think of Honor’s latest mid-range smartphone, and would you like to pick up the Honor 8X? Tell us in the comments!

Samsung Galaxy S9/S9 Plus update hub: front-camera upgrade rolling out

samsung galaxy s9 update

Update, 10/16/2018, 04:09 AM ET: Samsung is rolling out the October 2018 security patches to the Galaxy S9 and S9 Plus, along with a front camera upgrade.

SamMobile spotted the 244 MB update earlier today; it’s said to be rolling out in Germany with firmware versions G960FXXU2BRJ3 and G965FXXU2BRJ3, though the accompanying screenshot SamMobile provided is in Dutch.

The changelog says the backlighting has been improved when shooting with the front camera and faces will now be brighter. It sounds like a small, but worthwhile upgrade, though the phones remain on Android 8.0 Oreo for the time being.

As the update is now rolling out in Europe, it will likely reach the U.S. in the coming days and weeks.

Meanwhile, it looks like Samsung is gearing up for an Android Pie beta program. These betas typically last until the year’s end, with the final update rolling out soon after. We should have more on this, including how you can sign up, soon.


Welcome to the Samsung Galaxy S9 and S9 Plus Android update hub page. This page covers all major U.S. carriers with a quick reference table for each and a log with links to further details. It will be regularly updated with the latest Galaxy S9 and S9 Plus update information, but note that we won’t be covering general security patches in our list.

We recommend you bookmark this page so you can stay up to date with the very latest updates.

Samsung Galaxy S9/S9 Plus Android update

The Galaxy S9 series was released in February 2018 and became the first Samsung flagship to run Android 8.0 Oreo out-of-the-box. Since then, Google has released the Android 8.1 update and Android 9.0 Pie, but S9 owners are still waiting for any concrete rollout details.

Editor’s Pick

The Galaxy S9/S9 Plus will almost certainly pick up Android Pie, though we don’t know when. Samsung is likely to roll out a beta program for this in the run-up to 2019, as it has with previous updates to its Galaxy flagships, which some of you may be able to get involved with.

Despite supporting Project Treble, it’s yet to be seen whether Samsung will roll out major updates any faster than in the past.

It also seems likely that the S9 series will eventually be updated to Android Q, but we’ll no doubt have to wait until 2019 to hear more on that front.

Samsung Galaxy S9/S9 Plus update US

Samsung Galaxy S9/S9 updates – US Android 8.1 Oreo Android Pie
Verizon TBC TBC
AT&T TBC TBC
T-Mobile TBC TBC
Sprint TBC TBC
Unlocked TBC TBC

samsung galaxy s9 plus update

Verizon Galaxy S9 (SM-G960UZ*AVZW ) and Galaxy S9 Plus (SM-G965UZ*AVZW) update:

  • June 21, 2018: Verizon rolls out the June security update for the Galaxy S9 and S9 Plus.

AT&T Galaxy S9 (SM-G960UZ*AATT) and Galaxy S9 Plus (SM-G965UZ*AATT) update:

  • The AT&T Galaxy S9/S9 Plus has yet to receive any noteworthy updates.

T-Mobile Galaxy S9 (SM-G960UZ*ATMB) and Galaxy S9 Plus (SM-G965UZ*ATMB) update:

  • March 14, 2018: T-Mobile rolls out Galaxy S9 and S9 Plus update, improves camera and face unlock stability.
  • June 22, 2018: T-Mobile rolls out a Galaxy S9 and S9 Plus update, which includes the June 2018 Android security patch, various bug fixes, and system improvements.
  • July 9, 2018: T-Mobile rolls out a Galaxy S9 and S9 Plus update, which includes RTT updates, enhancements to DIGITS, various bug fixes, and system improvements.

Sprint Galaxy S9 (SM-G960UZ*ASPR) and Galaxy S9 Plus (SM-G965UZ*ASPR) update:

  • The Sprint Galaxy S9/S9 Plus has yet to receive any noteworthy updates.

Unlocked US Galaxy S9 (SM-G960U) and Galaxy S9 Plus (SM-G965U) update:

  • June 25, 2018: Samsung rolls out an update with the June 2018 Android security patch, along with various bug fixes and system improvements.

International Galaxy S9 (SM-G960F) and Galaxy S9 Plus (SM-G965F) update:

  • June 6, 2018: Samsung adds support for dual voice over LTE (VoLTE) and voice over Wi-Fi (VoWiFi) in India.
  • July 18, 2018: Samsung rolls out an update with the July 2018 Android security patch, along with stability improvements for AR Emoji and Super Slow-Mo.
  • October 16, 2018:

If you’ve received an update we’ve missed, hit the comments below or tip us!

Are these the first photos of Huawei’s Mate 20X gaming smartphone?

Huawei Mate 20X leaked photo of the front of the device.

  • The Huawei Mate 20X design may have been leaked in some new photos.
  • The images are believed to show off the front and rear of the device.
  • They reveal a waterdrop notch and a triple rear camera setup.

The yet-to-be-unveiled Huawei Mate 20X may have been spotted out in the open. The gaming smartphone can apparently be seen in a couple of photos posted on Weibo recently (via Playful Droid) originating from China.

Huawei teased the Mate 20X on Twitter last week but didn’t offer a look at the handset itself. The images suggest it will house a waterdrop-style notch and a triple rear camera setup, and may feature a unique body shape (though it’s probably just inside a case).

Huawei Mate 20X leaked photo of the rear of the device.

The Mate 20X is said to carry a 7.21-inch OLED display and — as this is a gaming phone from the Mate 20 series — you can also expect a Kirin 980 chipset, up to 8GB of RAM and up to 512GB of internal storage.

Editor’s Pick

Meanwhile, Huawei’s tweet teased “#HigherIntelligence” and “#UltimatePerformance” from the Mate 20X.

Huawei is set to unveil the new smartphone at an event tomorrow alongside the Mate 20 and Mate 20 Pro. You can hit the link to find out more on that, and let us know in the comments what you think of how the Mate 20X is shaping up.

Display wars still on: Galaxy Note 10 tipped for bigger screen than iPhone XS Max

Galaxy Note 9

  • Speculation suggests the Samsung Galaxy Note 10 will have a 6.66-inch display.
  • This would be larger than any previous Galaxy Note or Galaxy S series device.
  • It would also mean the Note series would once again have a larger display than the biggest iPhone.

Samsung is opting for a 6.66-inch display on next year’s Samsung Galaxy Note 10, according to a recent report from The BellThis would not only be the largest size display on a Galaxy Note or Galaxy S series device, but would also be larger than the display on the iPhone XS Max.

While the Note lineup has historically had a larger display than the biggest iPhone, the screen on the iPhone XS Max (6.5 inches) is slightly bigger than the one on the Galaxy Note 9 (6.4-inches), though the iPhone does have a notch.

The Bell‘s article does not state how a display of this size will affect the overall size of the Galaxy Note 10. As the device’s bezels will likely continue to decrease in size, it may not result in the phone’s dimensions being that different.

The Bell acknowledges that it is still early in the phone’s development cycle. However, it says that since the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 disaster, the company has extended the amount of time it spends developing phones from six months to one year (a decision that could explain this).

The article also quotes an industry insider as saying that while it is possible the phone’s specs will change over the next year, it is unusual for the display size of a phone to change after it has been decided.

Editor’s Pick

This isn’t the first rumor we have heard about the Galaxy Note 10. Back in September, it was said that Samsung has reportedly given the phone the codename DaVinci. Meanwhile, just last week we heard that Samsung is considering removing the headphone jack from the device.

What are your thoughts on the news? Let us know in the comments.

Next up: Best phablets of 2018 — Which ones made our list?

Deal: Get the Google Home Hub for $99 ($50 off) from Home Depot

Google Home Hub Home Depot Sale

Leading up to Google’s fall hardware event, we leaked that the Home Hub, the search giant’s Smart Display, would only cost $149. Now that Google has made the device official, Home Depot is already selling it for 34 percent off ($99)

To recap, the Google Home Hub features a seven-inch display, can playback your favorite music and movies, control your smart home, and much more. Thanks to its small size and lack of a built-in camera, the Home Hub works perfectly for those who might want to use it in the bedroom and not worry about privacy issues. 

Editor’s Pick

Weirdly enough, Google built the operating system for the Home Hub based on the cast platform instead of using Android Things which is found on other Smart Displays. While we don’t know what this might entail, it could mean that this device might have added functionality not found on the third-party devices. 

You can buy the Home Hub in either chalk or charcoal for $99 by clicking on one of the buttons below. Home Depot’s website doesn’t state how long this discount will last so you better take advantage of it now before it’s gone. 

Poco Launcher out of beta, try it out on your non-Pocophone now

  • The launcher included with the Xiaomi Pocophone F1 is now available as a stable release.
  • You can download the Poco Launcher from the Google Play Store and use it on any compatible Android device.
  • The Poco Launcher is unexpectedly popular, with 500,000 installs even before it went stable.

The Xiaomi Pocophone F1 surprised us all by offering some notable flagship specs — including a Snapdragon 845 and a 4,000mAh battery — for the very reasonable starting price of about $300.

However, what’s even more surprising is how popular the launcher is on the device. It’s popular enough that a beta listing on the Google Play Store earned half-a-million downloads and some pretty decent reviews with them.

Today, the Poco Launcher is officially out of beta, and anyone can download and install it from the Google Play Store. Click the button at the bottom of this article to check it out.

Editor’s Pick

What makes the Poco Launcher so special? It’s likely because it is simple and elegant — two words you most likely wouldn’t use to describe Xiaomi’s usual skinning of Android through its love-it-or-hate-it MIUI. The Poco Launcher is very close to stock, and it’s zippy, minimalism approach will make stock Android fanboys very happy.

If you haven’t experimented with Android launchers yet, now would be a good time to try some out. They can totally change the user experience of using a smartphone.

Check out the Poco Launcher by clicking the button below.

Not jealous at all… Half of recent iPhones now use the latest version of iOS

Samsung Galaxy Note 9 vs Apple iPhone XS Max-3

  • Over 50 percent of iPhones and iPads released in the last four years have updated to the latest version of iOS.
  • Apple first released iOS 12 only three weeks ago.
  • Google released Android Pie in August, yet not even 0.1 percent of Android devices use it.

Apple has revealed that 53 percent of iOS devices introduced since 2014 have already updated to the latest version of Apple’s mobile operating system. Apple released iOS 12 on September 17, meaning it took just over three weeks for the number of devices upgraded to pass 50 percent.

Engadget noted that the company reached this landmark much faster than it did last year, when it took almost twice as long for 50 percent of iPhone users to update to the latest operating system.

In contrast, Google released Android Pie over two months ago, yet not even 0.1 percent of Android devices use Pie. Even Oreo, which Google released over a year ago, is only installed on 19.2 percent of devices. The most used version of Android is still 2017’s Nougat, which is found on 29.3 percent of devices.

Editor’s Pick

The discrepancies between the uptake rate of the latest operating systems won’t surprise anyone who follows Android, however. We all know that manufacturers face a number of barriers when it comes to updating their devices to the latest version of Android. This is something that Apple, with its yearly release cycle of two to three phones, simply doesn’t have to deal with.

What’s more, Apple’s latest figures relate only to four years of phones, while the Android numbers go back to Android Gingerbread, released in 2010. There have been thousands of Android phones released in the interval, compared to the dozen or so iPhones released since 2014.

Perhaps a better comparison when it comes to update speed would be between iPhones getting the latest version of iOS and Pixels getting the latest version of Android. If we did that, the numbers would likely be much closer, as Google releases updates for all Pixel devices at the same time.

Still, the speed at which iOS users are able to get these updates does make me a bit jealous. Especially when you consider that even four-year-old devices are able to upgrade. Four years worth of updates is something that most Android phone owners can only dream of.

Next up: Android version distribution: Still no sign of Pie in September figures

LG V40 ThinQ isn’t out yet, but it’s just received a second camera update

LG V40 ThinQ camera closeup

  • The LG V40 ThinQ has received a second camera-focused update this week.
  • The update brings better HDR performance, and improved auto-focus in Triple Shot mode.
  • LG’s previous update brought better low-light image quality, and improved white balance/brightness.

The LG V40 ThinQ is the second flagship to hit the market with a triple-camera setup, enabling wildly different perspectives. Photo quality was a little disappointing, as we found out in our LG V40 ThinQ review, but the Korean company seems committed to improving matters.

LG has delivered a second camera-focused update for the smartphone, Droid-Life reports, weighing in at 391MB. This new update improves HDR performance, delivers better sharpness and color in outdoor conditions, and improves the “black phenomenon of video recording.” Yeah, I don’t know what that means, either.

The update doesn’t stop there, as it also improves auto-focus when using the Triple Shot mode. This was an issue raised by several reviewers, so we’re glad to see LG paying attention to this feature.

Droid-Life

 

News of a new LG V40 update comes a few days after the company issued its first camera-focused update. The first update improved low-light image quality, low-light HDR snaps, and AI Camera quality. The OTA update also delivered improved auto-focus performance and better white balance/brightness in outdoor conditions.

Editor’s Pick

We’re glad to see LG deliver updates before the phone’s release, but hopefully the company keeps this commitment after the phone hits shelves. After all, a prompt serving of Android Pie is in order, as the device launched with Android 8.1.

You’re still getting a feature-packed phone anyway, including an 8MP standard and 5MP wide-angle front camera setup, wireless charging, IP68 water/dust resistance, a headphone jack, and quad-DAC hardware.

What do you make of the LG V40? Would you buy it over other flagships? Let us know in the comments!

Xiaomi Black Shark global website now live, European launch incoming?

The Xiaomi Black Shark. Xiaomi Gaming

  • Xiaomi has quietly launched a global website for the Black Shark phone.
  • The website launch suggests that a wider release is on the cards.
  • MyDrivers reports that the gaming phone will come to Europe first.

The Xiaomi Black Shark is one of many gaming smartphones launched in 2018 thus far, offering the usual gaming trappings. That means a powerful Snapdragon 845 chipset, a button to enable performance mode, and an optional gamepad attachment.

It’s largely been restricted to China, but MyDrivers (h/t: Gizmochina) has spotted a Black Shark global website (global.blackshark.com). “Sharks approaching. Unleashing soon,” reads a tagline on the site.

The global website doesn’t provide much else, save for an email sign-up form and a few media quotes about the phone. Nevertheless, the device is expected to land in Europe first, MyDrivers said, citing company insiders.

Xiaomi Gaming

If confirmed, it would be the latest gaming phone to see a wider release, following in the footsteps of the Asus ROG Phone. The Xiaomi Black Shark doesn’t have the ROG Phone’s ultrasonic shoulder buttons or overclocked chipset, but it’s still a pretty handy gaming-focused device.

Editor’s Pick

The Black Shark offers the aforementioned Snapdragon 845 (with liquid cooling), 6GB to 8GB of RAM, 64GB to 128GB of storage, and a 6-inch full HD+ LCD screen. Other noteworthy details include a 4,000mAh battery, a 12MP+20MP telephoto combo on the back, a 20MP selfie snapper, and a front-mounted fingerprint scanner. You’ll need to use a 3.5mm to Type-C adapter or Bluetooth, however, as the phone lacks a headphone jack.

Global pricing is still up in the air, but the phone’s starting price in China was 2,999 yuan (~$433). This is more expensive than the similarly powerful Pocophone F1 (~$300), but you’re getting a different design, higher resolution cameras, and a button to activate gaming mode. It’s cheaper than most other Snapdragon 845 phones though, so you might want to keep an eye on this device…

Would you buy the Black Shark over other flagships? Let us know in the comments!

NEXT: Razer Phone 2 hands-on — A sharp upgrade