The best last-minute Valentine’s Day smartphone deals

The most romantic day of the year is almost here, and if you haven’t thought of the perfect gift yet, there’s no need to panic! You can get a great deal on a smartphone that someone special will love, plus you can even get one for yourself with a BOGO deal, too! Check out all the best last-minute Valentine’s Day smartphone deals here.

T-Mobile has some of the best promotions of any carrier this year, and it’s offering free overnight shipping to make sure your gift arrives on time for the most romantic day of the year. Here are the most exciting offers: Buy one Apple Watch, get a second half off. BOGO on iPhones, including the iPhone X, iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus. BOGO on the latest LG smartphones, including the LG G6, V30 and V30+. Buy a Samsung Galaxy S8, S8+ or Note 8, and get a Samsung Galaxy S8 free. Or, if you just need one phone, get $150 off the latest Samsung and LG smartphones. Of course, the usual caveats and fine-print apply here, so you’ll want to check the deals to see if you have to switch carriers, trade-in an old phone, open a new phone line, etc.
Verizon is also bringing the BOGO love this Valentine’s Day. If you buy the Google Pixel 2 or Pixel 2 XL, you can get a 64 GB Pixel 2 for free with Unlimited. If you buy a Samsung Galaxy S8, LG V30 or Moto Z2 Force, you get another one free. Apple lovers get a similar deal. If you get the iPhone X, you can get a 64 GB iPhone 8. Finally, it’s not a free phone, but you can get $200 off the Galaxy Note 8, too. Sprint is offering BOGO leasing for the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus, and cheap monthly payments on several top devices like the Galaxy S8.
That wraps up the best last-minute Valentine’s Day smartphone deals. Have you seen any other great offers? Let us know in the comments!

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New book vividly reveals Snapchat’s sexty dorm-room origin

“He wouldn’t have to worry about sending a hookup a picture of his junk! And girls would be way more likely to send him racy photos if they disappeared.” That’s just a taste of juicy details found in “How To Turn Down A Billion Dollars: The Snapchat Story”, a new book coming out tomorrow from former TechCrunch reporter Billy Gallagher.
It illuminates how co-founder Reggie Brown actually came up with the idea of ephemeral messaging, how CEO Evan Spiegel kicked him out of the company, and how Snapchat went from LA high school toy to IPO.
You can read the most interesting chapter about Reggie’s marijuana-fueled eureka moment with the quotes above in an excerpt from the book published on TechCrunch this weekend: How Reggie Brown Invented Snapchat
Unlike most books about tech companies written by far removed authors, Gallagher chronicles Snapchat’s rise first-hand thanks to an unlikely coincidence. He was in the same Stanford fraternity as the startup’s co-founders. [Disclosure: so was I]. The sources this afforded Gallagher make The Snapchat Story a tale full of unflattering anecdotes and interpersonal drama that mirrors the way teens use the off-the-cuff app. Though not always polished or paced to perfection, the book makes you feel like you’re right there in the dorm room with Evan and Reggie.

Snapchat co-founders (from left): Reggie Brown, Bobby Murphy, Evan Spiegel

Here’s a look at some of the top scoops contained within:

Reggie came up with the idea for Snapchat’s disappearing messages to coax girls into sexting him while preventing evidence of his own affairs from permanently haunting him. He then recruited Evan to turn it into a real app, and they were supposed to split the company 50/50

Evan kicked Reggie out of the company after a drunken argument about Reggie’s contributions, and later a raging phone call where Evan was furious that he was listed as the last inventor out of the three co-founders in the Snapchat patent application Reggie filed

Snapchat blew up in Evan’s cousin’s LA high school after his mom told her about it. Her school-issued iPad banned Facebook so her and her friends downloaded Snapchat as a way to pass notes, and it took off from there.

Mark Zuckerberg first offered $60 million to buy Snapchat in 2012, but when Evan declined, Zuckerberg threatened Snapchat by showing him Facebook had already built a clone called Poke. Evan still refused, and Facebook launched Poke weeks later.

Evan seriously considered accepting Facebook’s $3 billion acquisition offer, at times favoring the 2013 deal in discussions with co-founder Bobby Murphy, but ultimately decided he couldn’t live out his days as a Facebook employee answering to someone else.

Beyond the big revelations, How To Turn Down A Billion Dollars gives deep insights into Spiegel’s secretive behavior. Reporting from inside Snapchat’s annual New Year’s Eve parties, Gallagher recounts how the company went from requesting “no photos” to confiscating people’s phones. But Gallagher acts as our lens, confirming how Taylor Swift was Spiegel’s date one year, and the two lorded over the bash from an elevated catwalk.
The Snapchat Story only stumbles when Gallagher gets too deep into the weeds. He tries to give readers a crash-course in venture capital with failed startup Clinkle as an example in a long tangent. Later the author gets lost in stats about sexting, and the intricacies of Snapchat’s Discover deals with publishers. As Spiegel gets more private, Gallagher’s sourcing wanes, relying instead on leaked emails that feel cold and clinical.

NEW YORK, NY – MARCH 2: (L to ) Snapchat co-founders Bobby Murphy, chief technology officer of Snap Inc., and Evan Spiegel, chief executive officer of Snap Inc., prepare to ring the opening bell as Thomas Farley, president of the NYSE, looks on, March 2, 2017 in New York City. Snap Inc. priced its initial public offering at $17 a share on Wednesday and Snap shares will start trading on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) on Thursday. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

But with his direct understanding of Snapchat as both one of its first users and now its biographer, Gallagher distills wisdom about the app’s true purpose. For teens, trends change fast, and Snapchat’s ephemeral nature means your personal brand is always a reflection of the now rather than the visual artifacts from when you aligned with a fad since passed.
Snapchat’s ideas have influenced society and social media in ways much bigger than its fledgling business. Readers trying to invent, invest in, or exploit the next great shift in consumer technology behavior would do well to read Gallagher’s dive into how the last one materialized.
Below you can find a short Q&A with Gallagher. If you want to hear more straight from the author, I’ll be interviewing him and taking audience questions at the book launch and signing for How To Turn Down A Billion Dollars, today February 12th from 7pm to 9pm at San Francisco’s Books Inc on Chestnut street. 

TechCrunch’s Josh Constine: What should readers come away from your book thinking about Snapchat?
The Snapchat Story author Billy Gallagher: I think they’ll come away with an appreciation of how early Evan started thinking about Snapchat as much more than just a photo-sharing app and certainly a sexting app. Also, an appreciation for how much he did have this pretty brilliant insight on what was a simple straightforward idea. If you think about this idea of impermanence not as a toy and not as a method for sexting, but as a way of changing user behavior, I think it’s really fascinating.
I think also an understanding of who Evan is, why he and Snapchat are so closely linked, and why that’s going to be the case for the foreseeable future.
Constine: What do you think are the most important scoops or bits of color to come out of this book?
Gallagher: I think there’s a lot of fun stuff on the on the early days, surely color wise. I think there’s a lot on Evan and Bobby and Reggie and the early days and the work on Future Freshman and when they’re in school that hasn’t been covered much before. I think Snapchat has been covered primarily by the tech press and in short pieces that are on the here and now or a funding round or around the IPO. But when you look at the longer narrative, you connect the dots of the thing that Evan has said.
To give you an example, when he was on stage at TechCrunch Disrupt, he talked about Google Glass, and how Snap wasn’t going to build a Google Glass app because it felt invasive, like a gun pointed at you. And then a few years later they’re releasing Spectacles.
Constine: When people read that origin story and hear how Reggie really came up with this idea, and it was more that he just brought it to Evan and Evan kind of ran with it, how do you think it will change the readers’ perception of Evan?
Gallagher: I think it makes it clear Reggie really, really did have a role in this. You can argue about whether or not it’s ideas or execution that matter. But I think it’s not fair necessarily to say that all Reggie had was an idea, because he took it to the smartest guy, the best operator, the best executor he knew — Evan — and that was a brilliant move.
You know a lot of what venture capitalists tout as their value is bringing in the CEO or the key hire or this big partnership. So really what Reggie did was get the entire thing moving. A lot of people say the company wouldn’t be what it is today if he was still there, and he got $158 million, so I don’t think we can really feel too sorry for him. But on the other hand, Evan and Bobby are on the TIME 100 and they’re billionaires and they have all this influence on the world. I think the reader will have some empathy for Reggie and have some empathy that he isn’t around at the company anymore. It’s a makes you look at Evan as cold. At the same time if Reggie had stayed I think there’s the potential that the company would have died. It’s a really tough, tough situation that they definitely should have handled better.

Constine: How was it working with Snapchat on this? Did they push back much? Did they try to dispute facts?
Gallagher: They were actually pretty helpful as far as I could have expected them to be. They’re very secretive. Access to Evan and other executives is very heavily guarded, and so I knew at one point during the reporting when they told everyone not to talk to me. You could tell sometimes when I talked sources and then they’d say ‘oh actually they told me not to say anything.’ So access was an issue but I knew that going in. Mary Ritti [Snap’s VP of communications] was really helpful with fact checking, so yeah, they were pretty helpful at least beyond official access.
Constine: What’s the biggest question that you couldn’t answer in this book? Maybe something you were digging for but never found
Gallagher: I mean part of it is having wished I had some of the dialogue that can only be gotten if you have official access to Evan and Bobby — their private deliberations when they were considering these offers from Zuckerberg. But I think we were still able to get at a lot of how they’re motivated and why they did the things they did.
The biggest one that I come back to is why, once they realized they needed to terminate Reggie, why they went about it like breaking up your ex instead of as professional as Evan has been is business.
He makes two huge errors in a span of a few months when he forces Reggie out and changes all the passwords instead of going through it the right way by terminating him and coming to some sort of settlement that surely would not cost as much money. And then with Jeremy Liew at  Lightspeed when he accepts those terms that he later ranted and raved against, and it cost him a lot of money. So it ends up being $157 million for Reggie, and the terms in the deal they don’t want with Jeremy.
For as smart as Evan is and as much business savvy as he had early on he did make some pretty big mistakes. What I want to know is what were the talks he had with Bobby like when they forced Reggie out, and why was Bobby not able to bring him around and say ‘look, I understand this is an emotional event but this is a company now, not a student project, and we need to tie things up in an appropriate way.’
Constine: What’s your prediction for how Snap is going to fair in the future?
Gallagher: Well they just did well on their earnings, which was a good win for the company. It was big for morale. I’m pretty bullish on them, long-term, because I think they have a pretty defined downside as a really popular messaging app being used by 180 million people over day. They can build out the ad business. They’re doing some good things with these deals with wireless carriers that will help Android growth, so I think they have some good things going.
I think what’s going to be most interesting to watch this next year is what is Snapchat’s next chapter. Because for a while they were riding the brilliance of Stories and that was propelling a lot of things. But now Instagram has done a great job catching up to that and copying that, exceeding them there. And some other products they’ve had like Snap Maps are cool, but that isn’t a product at all on the same level as Stories in terms of importance and usefulness. So I think they need to figure out what is the next chapter here product-wise.
“How To Turn Down A Billion Dollars: The Snapchat Story” is now available for pre-sale before coming out tomorrow.

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Figure skater Alex Kang-chan Kam became an internet sensation at the Olympics thanks to his double sunglasses

He is the meme-lord of the Winter Olympics.
South Korean figure skated Alex Kang-chan Kam attracted the world’s attention on Monday when he was shown on TV wearing some Olympic sunglasses — and wait for it …

This South Korean gentleman just won the entire Olympics.
— SouthernSportsNation (@SoSportsNation)

The legendary sunglasses-under-sunglasses move has cemented Kam as the meme-lord of the Winter Olympics. During the opening ceremony he dabbed while marching.

An avid Redditor, Kam was blown away to the response people had to his double glasses, and said all the kudos he was getting on Reddit meant more to him than Olympic gold — because welcome to 2018.

Papa bless!
Edit: Thank you to every single comment for the kind words and thank you also for the golds! They mean more to me than olympic gold medals on this blessed day. This is unreal! Absolutely nutty! I love every single one of you. Here’s to more goofs and gafs and zoops and zaps!

When the Korean figure skating team was shown on TV he made sure to rep the “Vape Naysh” meme.

Make no mistake, Kam knew EXACTLY what he was doing with the hand signal — and has promised to show off the meme again if he ends up on an Olympic podium.

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Medal and viewing guide for the 2018 Winter Olympics on Monday, February 12

What to watch in the Olympics, updated medal count, and more.
The first gold medal for Team USA at the 2018 Winter Olympics came by the high-flying display of 17-year-old Red Gerard in the snowboard slopestyle event. Becoming an instant American hero, Gerard became the youngest U.S snowboarder to ever win an Olympic medal, and the youngest Olympian ever to win gold. His place in the record books is safe by just two months, as 17-year-old Chloe Kim gets ready for her own run at a gold medal in the women’s halfpipe snowboard event on Monday evening.
Kim would have competed in Sochi in 2014 if it wasn’t for the pesky age limit keeping her sidelined, but she hasn’t just been biding her time for Olympic glory in the years since. Rather, Kim went on to be the only athlete in X Games history to medal four times before the age of 18. She also dominated her first two qualifying runs in Pyeongchang, finishing with 95.50 and 91.50, and earning a place in the halfpipe final — which she is wildly expected to win.
Following the primetime medal events, curling and women’s halfpipe, the men’s halfpipe qualifying runs — featuring Winter Olympics legend Shaun White — will get underway beginning at 11 p.m. ET in Pyeongchang.
You can find live streaming of all events at NBC’s Olympics site.
How to watch 2018 Winter Olympics in primetime?
Event: Curling: Mixed doubles bronze medal matchTime: 7:05 p.m. ETTV: NBCSNOnline Streaming: NBC Olympics | FuboTV
Event: Snowboarding: Women’s halfpipe finalTime: 8 p.m. ETTV: NBCOnline Streaming: NBC Olympics | FuboTV
Event: Men’s Alpine SkiingTime: 1 a.m. ETTV: NBCOnline Streaming: NBC Olympics | FuboTV
Which Winter Olympic medals are up for grabs today?

So far, Team USA has claimed four total medals, including two golds (in men’s and women’s slopestyle snowboarding), a silver (men’s luge), and a bronze (figure skating). The United States started Monday morning ranked No. 5 among medal-winning countries, behind Norway (8), Netherlands (7), Canada (7), and Germany (6).
The action gears back up in primetime, with the curling mixed doubles bronze medal match and snowboarding women’s halfpipe final. The first run of men’s alpine skiing will get started around 9:30 p.m. ET, with the final medal run getting underway at 1 a.m. ET.

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Lenovo ThinkPad X280 and X380 (2018): Lenovo introduces thinner, lighter X-series laptops

Lenovo’s ThinkPad range has long been a favourite here in the Expert Reviews offices, not for its looks, but for the power and sheer practicality of its laptops and portables. The flagship ThinkPad X1 Carbon, in particular, is a prime example of how to get laptop design just right.
For 2018, Lenovo is revamping the range and introducing a couple of new models: the ThinkPad X280 and X380, plus updates to the ThinkPad T range. There’s also a new ThinkPad L series of laptops plus a detachable Windows tablet, called the Lenovo Tablet 10. 
READ NEXT: The best laptops of 2017/18 – our favourite portables
Lenovo ThinkPad X280 and X380: How much will they cost?
In all Lenovo has announced ten new machines in advance of CES 2018 at a wide range of different prices, most of which are exclusively in US dollars right now. The two ThinkPad X laptops – the X280 and 2-in-1 convertible ThinkPad X380 – will cost from $999 and $1,459 respectively.
The “corporate workhorse” T series machines start at $989, while the new L series, described by Lenovo as “versatile business machines” start at a much lower $449.
Lenovo ThinkPad X280 and X380: What do they look like?
Despite the flurry of releases, the most interesting devices are the X280 and X380 and it’s these we’re going to focus on here. Design-wise, though, there’s not much that catches the eye initially. They look like what ThinkPads have done for years, which is to say they’re businesslike and all black with the only highlight being the usual small splashes of red in the logo, on the touchpad buttons and trackpoint nubbin.
The two laptops do have a different physical design, however. The ThinkPad X280 is a regular clamshell laptop, while the ThinkPad X380 is a convertible 2-in-1, which means it has a 360-degree hinge allowing the screen to be folded back on itself. They’re different sizes, too, with the X280 coming with a 12.5in display and the X380 including a 13.3in screen. Both have resolutions of 1,920 x 1080 pixels, while the 2-in-1 supports stylus operation.

Lenovo ThinkPad X280 and X380: What’s new?
Both machines are a touch thinner and lighter than the previous models, but the big changes to these laptops are inside. Both come with Intel’s latest eighth-generation Coffee Lake CPUs, which have double the number of cores compared with last year’s chips. There’s no dedicated graphics – as you’d expect from this category of machine – just Intel’s UHD Graphics 620, but the new CPUs ought to ensure a boost to performance.
Storage runs to 1TB SSDs across both machines (and super-fast NVMe PCIe drives on the X380). The new laptops will both have physical webcam covers for privacy, while the X380 has an infrared webcam supporting Windows Hello facial recognition.
Both machines support Rapid Charge, which delivers up to 80% charge in an hour and battery life itself looks pretty good as well, with Lenovo claiming 16hrs 36mins for the X280 and 13hrs 36mins for the X380.
As ever, both machines are Mil-Spec tested for durability, so you can be reasonably certain they’ll be able to shrug off plenty of day-to-day punishment.
Lenovo ThinkPad X280 and X380: Early verdict
The ThinkPad X280 and X380 may not look particularly sleek or sexy but they are a solid step forward for the ThinkPad X series. The new Coffee Lake chips should move performance on and although there isn’t much in the way of new design, the fact that the laptops have shaved some weight off is welcome.

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Samsung Galaxy S9 Color Options: What’s Coming In 2018?

Richard Goodwin

12/02/2018 – 10:14am

The Samsung Galaxy S9 is coming in 2018 – and you will be able to get it in the following colors…

Samsung’s Galaxy S9 is the handset that will take on the iPhone X in Q1 2018. It will be joined later by the Galaxy Note 9, but for the first half of the year, Samsung’s focus will be 100% on the Galaxy S9.
The Samsung Galaxy S9 will be available in four color options:

Midnight Black
Lilac Purple
Titanium Gray 
Coral Blue

Beyond this there will also likely be limited edition and special edition releases too peppered throughout the year. But for most people, these four colors will be the standard options.

The Galaxy S9 hasn’t launched yet, but news of the color options comes via @evleaks – and that guy rarely misses the mark. This means it is a fairly safe bet to assume the four listed above are the correct options.
I do kinda wish they’d do one in red, though…
Galaxy S9 vs Galaxy S9+ – What’s The Difference? 
The main difference between the two handsets, beside size, will be the imaging technology they use. The Galaxy S9+ will feature a dual-lens camera, while the Galaxy S9 will carry a single-sensor setup. Controversial stuff, but Samsung needs a solid way to push punters towards the more expensive S9+ – and imaging is always a good place to start.
Both handsets will run Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 845 CPU and featured updated RAM. The phones will launch on February 24. You can catch-up with a full breakdown about the handsets in our Galaxy S9/Galaxy S9+ primer, which covers all the latest news and leaks around the phones.

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Samsung Galaxy S7 review: A great phone in its day but don’t buy one now

The Samsung Galaxy S7 has long been usurped as the South Korean company’s latest flagship handset, by the Samsung Galaxy S8, and with the Galaxy S9 just around the corner, some might question the wisdom of buying an S7 today.
It’s still a great phone. The Samsung Galaxy S7 was a beast of a smartphone on its release in 2016 and it’s still a good performer now – certainly better than most  budget smartphones. And many of its best features, including the excellent camera and super screen, haven’t changed all that dramatically. It’s very reasonably priced these days as well. You can find one on Amazon UK for under £300 (or Amazon US for under $500).
The trouble is, competition at around this price is super hot right now, with the excellent Honor 9 available for £350 and the incredible OnePlus 5T at £450, the latter boasting a dual-camera setup, great battery life and a big 6in edge-to-edge display. Even the Samsung Galaxy S8 isn’t much more either at around £500 these days.
It’s also worth bearing in mind that, if you do buy an S7 now, you’ll probably still want to be using in in two years’ time, at which point it will be a four-year-old phone for which Samsung will have stopped issuing updates.
Read on for my original review, and to find out why the S7 was so great in 2016.

The dust and water resistance is another nice feature making a comeback here that doesn’t impact on the look and feel of the phone. It’s an upgrade on the IP67 protection of the Samsung Galaxy S5, too, which was the last Samsung flagship to have the feature.
Technically, this means it’s possible to completely submerge the phone in up to 1.5 metres of water for up to 30 minutes, so you could use it to take pictures of hermit crabs in rock pools – if that’s what floats your boat.
I prefer to think of it as extra peace of mind. With the Galaxy S7, you don’t have to worry about getting your phone out when it’s raining, or putting it down on a beer-soaked table in the pub. From that perspective, it’s something that’s well worth having.
Samsung Galaxy S7 review: Specification and price

5.1in Super AMOLED display, Quad HD resolution, always-on

Octa-core Samsung Exynos 8890 processor (2 x quad-core CPUs running at 2.3GHz and 1.6GHz)

32GB storage

microSD slot supporting up to 200GB

Android 6 Marshmallow

12-megapixel rear camera with f/1.7 aperture, dual-pixel phase-detect autofocus

Smaller camera “hump” protrudes only 0.46mm

IP68 dust and water resistance

3,000mAh battery capacity

Price: SIM-free, £480 inc VAT – Buy Now from Amazon

Samsung Galaxy S7 review: Display
Aside from those headline changes, though, the Samsung Galaxy S7 is a mild update. The Samsung Galaxy S6 was and still is, an excellent smartphone, so this doesn’t represent too much of a problem.
The S7 has a 5.1in Super AMOLED display with a resolution of 1,440 x 2,560 – the same as last year’s Samsung Galaxy S6 – and it’s as sharp as sharp can be. Some might say such a high resolution is pointless; after all, from typical viewing distances, most people wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between the S7’s screen and a 1080p one of the same size. At least not without reverting to a magnifying glass.
It’s for use in a VR headset such as the Samsung Gear VR, however, that such high resolutions come into their own. With the phone strapped into a pair of VR goggles, the screen mere centimetres from your eyes, and split in two (one-half per eye), the resolution you need for a crisp display skyrockets and every additional pixel counts.
In fact, even with such a high-resolution display, the Samsung Galaxy S7’s screen looks a touch grainy in its VR headset, so the extra resolution isn’t as over the top as it might at first appear.
Buy the Samsung Gear VR now from Amazon
The quality of this new display is excellent, too. Samsung has long perfected the art of producing top-notch screens on its smartphones, somehow managing to tame the oversaturated colours typical of Super AMOLED technology, while delivering something that’s extraordinarily colour-accurate and incredibly punchy all at once. That doesn’t change here.

Contrast is perfect, as you’d expect from a Super AMOLED-based panel. Since the individual pixels provide their source of light, there’s nothing to leak through from behind, and so you get inky, perfect black.
Colour quality is excellent. The phone has several different modes available to use, and it ships with the eye-catching Adaptive mode enabled. That’s the one I tested, and it delivers excellent figures.
With auto-brightness disabled, brightness peaks at 354cd/m2, which doesn’t look all that great. As with previous Samsung handsets, though, that all changes when you enable auto-brightness. On a bright sunny day, the screen is capable of peaking much higher – up to 470cd/m2 – so it should be perfectly readable in most conditions.
Samsung’s Adaptive mode also does an excellent job of presenting eye-popping graphics without looking too unnatural and covers 100% of the sRGB colour space.
Samsung Galaxy S7 review: Design
Also unchanged is the glass-sandwich design and exotic, metallic finish that underpins it. In short, the Samsung Galaxy S7 looks just as good as the Galaxy S6 did last year – all shiny, flashy and glitzy glamour – catching the light in all sorts of interesting ways, and gleaming like freshly polished jewellery. Of all the smartphones I’ve tested over the years, the S7 feels like the most desirable – the most beautiful I’ve laid my hands on.  
There are downsides to the Galaxy S7’s glossy finish, though: it looks terrible once covered in greasy fingerprints, and it picks them up quickly, too. This is a phone that you’ll be wiping several times a day on your shirt or trousers to keep it looking pristine. The good news is that the oleophobic coatings applied to the Gorilla Glass 4 mean it’s easy to banish the grease with a couple of scrubs and get it back looking its best.

All the buttons remain in the same locations as on the Galaxy S6. I’m glad to see the home button and fingerprint reader is still below the screen in the centre – I’m not a huge fan of rear-mounted controls. The phone’s single speaker and headset jack flank the phone’s micro USB socket. The volume buttons are on the left edge, the power button on the right, and the combined SIM card and microSD tray are on the top edge of the phone.
Flip the Galaxy S7 over and look at the rear, and you’ll begin to see the first of the physical differences between this phone and last year’s Galaxy S6. First, the much-publicised camera “hump” has been reduced in size, from around 1.6mm on last year’s model to 0.46mm here.
That doesn’t sound like much, but it makes a bigger impact that you might think. A less prominent bump means it lies flatter when you pop it on a wireless charger, so it’s less likely to fail to charge, and it doesn’t tip this way and that if you tap the top corners of the screen when it’s laid on a desk. The camera bulge also has more rounded edges, meaning it’s less likely to catch on your pocket when you’re stowing it away.
The other major aesthetic change is that by employing a process that Samsung calls “Thermoforming”, there are now curves on both long edges of the rear panel (a bit like on last year’s Galaxy Note 5), lending the phone a softer, pebble-like feel than the more squared-off S6. It also makes it feel a lot smaller than you’d expect it to, and although the S6 is still a great-looking phone, the S7 just pips it in the design stakes. It looks, and feels, much more sophisticated.

The rest of the design is somewhat similar to the S6. The buttons and ports are all in the same place: the SIM card and microSD drawer are on the top edge, the volume buttons are on the left, the power button on the right, and the 3.5mm audio, micro-USB port and speaker grille on the bottom.
The only other major difference is the screen’s new always-on capability. As with Motorola’s Moto Display, this shows useful information such as the time and new notifications on the screen, even when the phone is on standby.
Unlike Motorola’s version, Samsung’s is switched on permanently, and you get a choice of what style of always-on screen is shown. There are seven different basic clock and notification views, ranging from basic digital displays to twin, world clock views. You get a choice of two different calendar views, and three images – a couple of the stars and planets, and another of stylised trees.

Having lived with the S7 for a while now, though, I’m not convinced of the usefulness of this feature. Although it’s nice to be able to see what the time is without tapping the screen or pressing the power button, the fact it doesn’t show more detailed notifications is a big missed opportunity. Although you can see when you’ve missed a call or received a text message, you can’t see who the call or message was sent by. Come on, Samsung – I want more information.

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15% Off Irix Edge Filters for Valentines Day, Price Drop on 11mm Lens

Mac users, Macphun’s all-in-one photo editor Luminar 2018 is out now and available for just $69£64 for new users, with big discounts for upgrading users. We rated Luminar as “Highly Recommended“. Visit the Luminar web site to try it for free.
Use coupon code “PHOTOBLOG” to save another $10£9 on Luminar.

Download Luminar & Try Free »

Windows users, Macphun’s all-in-one photo editor Luminar 2018 is out now and available for just $69£64 for new users, with big discounts for upgrading users. We rated Luminar as “Highly Recommended“. Visit the Luminar web site to try it for free.
Use coupon code “PHOTOBLOG” to save another $10£9 on Luminar.

Download Luminar & Try Free »

From 10 to 20 February 2018 you can get any filter from the Irix Edge collection with a 15% price reduction. In addition, it’s also a great occasion for anyone thinking of buying an 11mm lens as both Firefly and Blackstone prices have also been lowered.
Irix Press Release
An Irix Lens special offer for those who are in love … particularly with photography
St Valentine’s is surely a special day for everyone who is in love… particularly with photography.
For this occasion Irix lens has prepared a loving offer to pamper your beloved or yourself with newphotographic gadgets.
From 10 to 20 February 2018 you can get any filter from the Irix Edge collection with a 15% pricereduction.
In addition, it’s also a great occasion for anyone thinking of buying an 11mm lens as both Firefly and Blackstone prices have also been lowered!
11mm Firefly: *WAS 635 EUR, NOW 529 EUR11mm Blackstone: *WAS 865 EUR, NOW 735 EUR
St Valentine’s Day is definitely the day for each and every photographer; they belong to a happyband who do what they love most, and can share that beauty with so many others.
* This special offer is available at Irix Stores & selected stores
Imagined by Photographers, built by engineers, perfected by designers. This is Irix, the photographer’s dream.
Swiss precision and ingenious Korean solutions make for a powerful combination. Irix lenses are designed to deliver top optical performance and match the demands of full frame matrix cameras.Our wide-angle lenses successfully merge a short focal length with a large aperture. Our intelligent build combined with high quality coatings result in minimal distortion. With this guarantee, your Irix lens will quickly become your go-to tool.
At Irix, we have developed two, unique housing options to complement our excellent optical performance: the Irix Blackstone and the Irix Firefly. We cater for various photographic needs, whether you opt for maximum weather protection, lightweight housing or low-light condition features, we have the lens for you.
Firefly: The super lightweight, ergonomic and economic option. 
Blackstone: Ultimately rugged and durable, and fully weather resistant. 
Whichever housing you choose to suit your particular needs, you can rest assured that there will be no compromise on optical performance

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3 multiplayer games for Chromecast to liven up any party

It’s a nice evening, the table is set and your friends are coming over. What could be better than enjoying a nice evening with good company? There’s just one small problem: you have no entertainment. Music is out of the question because your speakers are blown out and nobody wants to go out on a freezing winter night. You could watch a film, but then you risk lulling your friends to sleep. Now you’re starting to run out of ideas. So why not take advantage of Chromecast for fun games that involve everyone (or at least anyone with a smartphone)?

RISK: Global Domination
Hasbro, a manufacturer of children’s games and many board games, has released a digital version of Risk on the Play Store. It’s visually very attractive and is beautifully crafted for smartphones. You can play alone against the computer, with other friends on your smartphone, and online against your friends and other random players.
The rules are the same as they’ve always been, but the application has introduced interesting new features such as alternative maps and the option of playing on your home TV with devices such as Chromecast or an Android TV. Your friends just have to download the app and join and every smartphone can function as a controller.

RISK: Global Domination

Tricky Titans
Here’s the classic game that ruins friendships. It’s an original re-examination of rock-paper-scissors, but is about giants who have to kill their opponents. Each player has 3 buttons on their smartphone dedicated to the various actions available: attack, defend or upgrade. Once all players have made their selection, the characters on the screen perform their actions. The last one standing wins!
The game’s graphics feature a cartoony style and are very aesthetically pleasing as well as well maintained. One peculiarity of the game is that you can’t play it alone on your smartphone. It is intended for use with Chromecast in combination with a big screen.

Tricky Titans

Just Dance Now
I’m personally not such a big fan of this genre, but I have to admit that Ubisoft’s idea is well executed and lends itself to being played on a smartphone. You’ve probably already heard about Just Dance, the game where you have to dance to the rhythm of music with moves that appear on the screen. It’s a game that can be really well adapted to small parties with friends. And thanks to the app for Android you can play it without needing to buy a console, you just have to connect to a TV with Chromecast!
Of course, the app is multiplayer and each participant uses their smartphone as a controller.

Just Dance Now

There are plenty of games out there that take advantage of Chromecast, but these are the ones we liked most. Do you know any other games that utilize a big screen for entertaining friends? Let us know in the comments!

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