Will T-Mobile be the first US carrier to make bloatware optional?

Anyone who’s owned a smartphone over the years knows what bloatware is, even if they aren’t familiar with the term. If you don’t, well, it’s all those useless apps that carriers and manufacturers pre-install on computers and smartphones.

Bloatware can exist for a number of different reasons. On the manufacturers’ side, it’s usually to add extra features that you may or may not find important. Whether that’s bloatware will depend on which side of the fence you’re on, we suppose.

But a big driving force is typically money, with them teaming up with developers to include the apps (or games) for a fee. In either case, it sucks, because it typically means the user gets a bunch of useless apps, and they can’t even uninstall them.

Change may be on the horizon, though, with German carrier Deutsche Telekom announcing an opt-in system for customers who are tired of seeing the pollution littered throughout their home screens. DT also suggests they’ll eventually let manufacturers control software updates, which potentially leads to faster rollout speeds.

All of this becomes more interesting when you consider that T-Mobile is owned by this company, and it sounds like the very kind of move that would sound good as an Un-Carrier feature. Does that mean T-Mobile will ever do it? We can’t say for sure, but it certainly couldn’t hurt their image and culture of empowering consumers, so we’re always going to hold out hope that it’s somewhere on the horizon.

via Deutsche Telekom (Translated)

Amazon’s power banks are exploding; here are 3 good ones that won’t

Through Amazon’s AmazonBasics brand, the company has been able to offer consumer electronics at extremely affordable prices. The products typically shun flashy branding and unnecessary features to provide a no-frills, low-cost option for those who can’t pay a premium for certain things.

But perhaps QA is one area we have to start questioning with AmazonBasics items, what with the company needing to recall about 260,000 power banks due to risks of fire and burn. The recall was announced by USCPSC, the government agency responsible for investigating, reporting, and handling recalls as it pertains to defects which threaten the safety of the public.

Here’s the full description of which batteries are affected:

This recall involves six versions of AmazonBasics’ portable lithium-ion battery chargers/power banks: 16,100 mAh; 10,000 mAh; 5,600 mAh; 2,000 mAh with micro USB cable; 3,000 mAh and 3,000 mAh with USB micro cable. The rubberized or metallic power banks are black and rectangular. They measure about 3 inches long by 1.4 inch high by 0.9 inch wide.

The power banks were sold with or without a USB charger cable and a carrying pouch. The AmazonBasics logo is printed on the front of the unit. Product ID number B00LRK8EVO, B00LRK8HJ8, B00LRK8I7O, B00LRK8IV0, B00LRK8JDC or B00ZQ4JQAA is printed on the back of the unit.

The USCPSC says Amazon is contacting all known purchasers of the battery, though you’re also encouraged to call Amazon for a return and refund on your own if you happen to have one. You can call toll-free at 855-215-5134 from 8AM to 5PM Eastern Monday through Saturday. If online is more your speed, you can submit your details at this link.

With that, you’re probably immediately in the market for new power banks. The good news is that there’s a crap ton to choose from, and while few quality ones come close to those AmazonBasics price tags, they’re still affordable enough to fit within a modest budget given you save a bit. Here are three good power banks we recommend checking out.

Anker PowerCore Series

Anker remains one of the best options for battery charging needs (among the billion other things they’re into). The company’s PowerCore lineup offers a nice mix of quality and function, while also being sleek, unassuming battery packs that can fit snugly into your pocket or favorite bag with ease. PowerIQ tech ensures your devices get the juice they need at fast, steady, and — most importantly — safe charging rates.

Those who just need a reliable road mate to keep their smartphones topped off can opt for a 10,000mAh pack, big enough to charge your smartphone a few times over. There’s also the ridiculous 26,8000mAh pack if you have a little more gadgetry to power.

Shop Anker Power Banks at Amazon


RAVPower is one of the brands we don’t have a second thought in recommending. Their namesake is inspired by their craft, after all, and that love for it shows in their power banks. Take, for instance, this top-rated 20,100mAh power bank which offers Qualcomm’s Quick Charge 3.0 and USB-C compatibility for newer devices, or this massive 32,000mAh unit with enough charging speed to get even the loftiest tablet batteries to full in a relatively short amount of time. And smart charging safeguards ensure it won’t ever serve up more than your devices can handle.

Shop RAVPower Power Banks at Amazon

Jackery Titan

Jackery’s power banks deserve mention as a line of tried and true batteries made with premium backbone. The Titan series packs all its smart, fast charging goodness into an aluminum shell, something you won’t often find in its price range. It’s not even that the aluminum does anything to make it any better than its competitors, but it’s just nice, and lets us know this company is serious about quality in every facet.

Shop Jackery Power Banks at Amazon

LG and Google are trying to make the most immersive VR displays ever

Google has been pushing smartphone-based VR harder than anyone. The company has long been content with letting hardware manufacturers do the heavy lifting for providing the muscle while Google provides the brains with platforms like Cardboard and Daydream.

But they could be looking to get even more involved in the full dance, with the company working with LG’s display arm to introduce a display that’s, for lack of better definitions, freakin’ nuts.

What we’re said to be getting at some point is a 4.3-inch display with a PPI of 1,443. It also will have a refresh rate of 120hz, perfect for VR immersion.

At that sort of Pixel density, the goal is to get up close to the content without any chance of seeing individual pixels that can break your immersion. It’s nigh impossible to see individual pixels from standard viewing distances, even on the Quad HD displays of today, but a VR display right up on your eyes, so more pixels are required for the desired effect.

The only question now is how far away we are from seeing its arrival. It’s not enough for the tech to exist. It has to be matured, and costs have to make sense for both the manufacturers’ and the consumers’ sake before it can head to mass production.

And then there’s stuff outside of their control, like the type of graphics power you’ll need to drive such high-resolution VR experiences on not one, but two of these displays simultaneously. I don’t know if we’re there yet, but it feels like we may be able to see the next generation of VR within the next few years if things keep moving along the way they have.

Source: SID

T-Mobile is launching RCS Messaging in Q2

Google and some of the world’s top standards setters have been working to spread RCS messaging as far and wide as possible. In case you don’t know, RCS is a rich communication protocol that would enable a far more advanced messaging experience than traditional SMS and MMS have been able to.

To put it simply, the rich features you in enjoy in messaging apps like Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, or even iMessage on the iPhone side of things would be possible through standard carrier messaging plans.

And the best part of it all is that this technology is interoperable, so folks on one carrier can message those on another with the same set of capabilities, features, and enhancements.

It’s been a slow crawl to date, but the ball is definitely rolling. Google worked with Sprint to get RCS off the ground last year, and T-Mobile has announced their intention to do so in Q2 of this year. With AT&T promising they’ll eventually get around to it and Verizon likely to follow suit once they see the other big boys playing, it’s only a matter of time before we can enjoy pleasantries that are often closed behind proprietary apps and, in the case of iMessage, devices.

via T-Mobile

Vivo’s new Super HDR tech could give Google’s HDR+ a run for its money

By now everyone knows it’s hard for just about any smartphone manufacturer to hold a candle to the photo taking abilities of Google’s Pixel line. This has less to do with the Pixel’s actual camera hardware and more to do with Google’s HDR+ software. It’s absolutely unrivaled in the smartphone space (at least for now) but it seems some OEMs could be catching up.

Vivo — who you may remember showed off that bezel-less Vivo Apex with a pop-up camera — announced a new “Super HDR” platform for mobile photography. It works similar to normal HDR, only it’s capable of a 14 exposure value dynamic range and capturing 12 frames with every shot. As you can see from the above images, this gives Vivo and their own in-house AI a lot more data to play around with for enhanced image quality.

Vivo Super HDR features

  • Capture more detail in adverse shooting environments, such as low-light and high-contrast situations
  • Images have a more natural-looking contrast by using the different data found in the 12 frames that are captured
  • AI can be used to detect what you’re taking a picture of and adjust shooting modes accordingly
  • Photos are more natural “by reorganizing and optimizing the highlights and shadow portions of the scene when merging the frames and ensures the photo naturally matches the original scene as seen by the human eye
  • Lighting is adjusted when people are detected to create the best portrait possible

Vivo didn’t comment on exactly when they’ll be debuting this new technology, but you can bet some upcoming flagship will be Super HDR capable. With word that the incredibly sexy Vivo Apex will start production in the middle of 2018, we’ll be keeping our eyes peeled.

via FoneArena