Essential PH-1 Now Available to Order

Essential Phone

After pre-order customers were notified yesterday that shipping would happen within a week, the Essential PH-1 is now available from Sprint, Best Buy and Amazon to purchase.  The unlocked variant of the phone is $699 through the Essentials site.  You can also purchase it through Amazon for the same price but orders placed at the online retailer won’t ship until September 1st.

Carriers are in the mix too.  Sprint is offering the PH-1 at a substantial discount, some $250 off, if you purchase it through them and sign up for service.  For those looking for payment options, if you order it through the carrier now, the price is a mere $15 per month for 18 months on the phone.

The Essential PH-1 has a titanium body with a ceramic back, a 5.7″ 2560 x 1320 Quad-HD display, 4GB of RAM and 128GB of storage built-in.  It is powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor.  This octa-core processor has four cores running at 2.45GHz and the remaining four clocked at 1.9GHz.

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Nokia 8 Announced With Impressive Specs

Nokia 8

HMD Global, the OEM who owns the Nokia brand, have finally announced their first flagship device, the Nokia 8.  Sporting impressive specs throughout, the Nokia 8 will be available in September, starting in Europe, for €599.  That translates to $704 at today’s exchange rate.  It is expected that the device will make it to the US at some point this year but for September, expect it to be in Europe and China first.  It will also likely be at a lower cost than $700 as device tend to be a bit less here than in Europe.

At that price point, the Nokia 8 is in the flagship category which begs the question of if the specs justify the price.  On the surface, it would appear that way.  The 5.3′ QHD device is powered by the Snadragon 835 octa-core processor and is coupled with the Adreno 540 GPU.   It has 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage.  That storage can be expanded by an additional 256GB thanks to the MicroSD slot.  The phone is rated as splashproof with an IP54 certification and will run a near AOSP version of Android Nougat 7.1.1.

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Google Home Support for Hands-Free Calling Rolling Out

My Google Home

Google Home has a server-side update rolling out that brings a much desired feature to the Smart Speaker device:  Hands-free calling.  Home users in the United States & Canada will now have the ability to place a call to a local business or a contact by saying, “Hey Google, call (business or contact)”.  It is a feature that was highlighted earlier this year at Google I/O as Google continues to improve the device.

The new feature means that instead of having to pick up your mobile, you can simply make a call from any Google Home device you have in your home.  Obviously the call is broadcasted via the speaker built into the device so private calls should still be dealt with from your phone.

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Google Docs Update Brings Big Collaboration Changes

Google Docs for Android

Google has begun the rollout of several big changes to the G Suite of apps, Google Docs, Sheets & Slides.  The updates are rolling out to the web-based versions of the apps currently but you can expect some of this functionality to eventually make it to the mobile apps.

According to the announcement from Google, there are four improvements that are rolling out now.

  1. Name versions of a Doc, Sheet or Slide. Being able to assign custom names to versions of your document is a great way to keep a historical record of your team’s progress. It’s also helpful for communicating when a document is actually final. You can organize and track your team’s changes in one place under “Version history” (formerly known as “Revision history”) on the web. Select File > Version history > Name current version. For even quicker recall, there’s an option to select “Only show named versions” in Docs, Sheets or Slides.
  2. Preview “clean versions” of Docs to see what your Doc looks like without comments or suggested edits. Select Tools > Review suggested edits > Preview accept all OR Preview reject all.
  3. Accept or reject all edit suggestions at once in your Doc so your team doesn’t have to review every single punctuation mark or formatting update. Select Tools > Review suggested edits > Accept all OR Reject all.
  4. Suggest changes in a Doc from an Android, iPhone or iPad device. Click the three dots menu in the bottom right of your Doc screen to suggest edits on-the-go. Turn on the “Suggest changes” toggle and start typing in “suggestion mode.”

All of these changes are aimed at making it quicker and easier for you to collaborate on documents and work through the change process on them.

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Today’s Deal – Huawei Mate 9 Down to $435 on Amazon

Huawei Mate 9

For those of you who have had your eye on the Huawei Mate 9, today is your day to pick one up.  For Today’s Deal, you can pick up the 5.9″ phablet with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage for $435 in Grey, a savings of $150 off its original $599 pricetag.  I reviewed the Mate 9 earlier this year and it is an outstanding device with an awesome display, great battery life and excellent cameras.  At this price, it is well worth considering.

So what does $435 get you in the Huawei Mate 9?  A lot frankly.  It is a 5.9″ phone running Android Nougat, an octa-core processor running at 2.4GHz and Leica optics dual-camera setup shooting at 20MP and 12MP respectively with OIS.  The front facing selfie camera is 8MP shooter.  You also have 64GB of built-in storage that can be expanded up to an additional  256GB thanks to the MicroSD slot.  Finally, it comes with a US warranty so you are not buying an international version of the phone.

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T-Mobile Fires Up 600MHz Spectrum for The First Time

T-Mobile Logo

T-Mobile has announced that they have turned up their first 600MHz LTE areas here in the United States.  The company rolled out the new spectrum, which they acquired at auction from the FCC earlier this year, in Cheyenne, Wyoming.  The new low-spectrum will give T-Mobile a greater reach, particularly in rural areas and where they have not rolled out 700MHz yet.

The company is leveraging Nokia equipment for the rollout in Cheyenne and if you are curious as to why they started in Cheyenne, it’s a pretty straightforward reason.  600MHz, in some parts of the country, are occupied by television broadcasters.  That’s not the case apparently in Cheyenne so rolling out could happen immediately.  T-Mobile will continue to roll out the spectrum as it is cleared in other areas of the country.

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Android Nougat 7.1.1 Updates Resume for The Nexus 6

Google Nexus 6

After months of delays sorting out bugs and upgrade issues, the Android Nougat 7.1.1 update has finally been released by Google for the Nexus 6.  The original update for the November 2014 flagship phone almost immediately caused issues for those who upgraded from Nougat 7.0.  Issues with the original update back in March dealt with Android Pay, as in, it completely broke.  Nexus 6 owners were not able to use the tap-to-pay service if they upgraded to Nougat 7.1.1.

To address the issue, Google actually reverted the devices back to Android Nougat 7.0 which sorted out the Android Pay problem but left “Shamu” owners out of luck on the latest & greatest features of Nougat 7.1.1.

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