Tablet computer

Your Next Android Phone Must Have These Features

The number of Android devices to choose from gets exponentially larger with every passing month. Amazingly, if you consider all the phones, tablets, TVs, streaming boxes, laptops, and other associated devices, there are now an estimated 18,000 different Android products on sale around the world. All of them have different features vying for your attention.

With so many options, how do you know what features your next smartphone must have, and which ones are an unnecessary manufacturer fad?

If you’re in the market for a new Android smartphone in 2017, read on. We’re going to break down what features your new phone absolutely needs, which features are slowly becoming mainstream, and which novelty features you can expect to see.

The “Must-Haves”

Let’s begin by looking at the core elements. If the new phone you’re considering doesn’t have the vast majority of these features included, you should probably give it a wide berth.

4 GB of RAM

Your new phone should have a bare minimum of 4 GB of RAM. Although some of the leading phone’s available right now still ship with 3 GB, 4 GB is going to become commonplace over the next 12 months. In fact, there is already talk that certain flagship phones due to be released later this year could have as much as 8 GB.

If you assume you’ll have your phone for at least two years, you’ll need 4 GB to future-proof yourself against increasingly resource-hungry apps.

Qualcomm Snapdragon 835

The Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor will definitely be included in the Sony Xperia XZ Premium and the Samsung Galaxy S8, and as the year progresses, more and more manufacturers will make the jump to Qualcomm’s most modern chip.

This processor is made using nanoparticles — some as small as 10 nanometers. For comparison, that’s the size of just a few water molecules.

The reduced size gives manufacturers more physical space to include extra features, while users can also expect better battery life and a performance improvement of up to 27 percent.

1440 x 2560 Resolution

With more RAM and a better processor, you should make sure your new phone has a resolution of at least 1440 x 2560 pixels.

It’s already available on the Samsung Galaxy S7, LG G5, Moto Z, and HTC 10. By the end of 2017, very few top-end phones will be available with a lower-resolution screen than that.

Headphone Jack

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’re no doubt aware of Apple’s hugely controversial decision to drop the headphone jack from the iPhone 7.

Sure, it might not be long until we see more Android handsets that also omit the ubiquitous port, but right now, the headphone standard is too widely used to have a phone without it.

iphone 7

And, of course, it’s not just headphones that use the port. Lots of credit card readers — including Square and Intuit — rely on the technology.

The “Should-Haves”

If your new devices ticks all those boxes, what else should you look out for when you hit the shops?

3,000mAh+ Battery

Battery life has been the thorn in the side of smartphones ever since their inception. It’s not that battery quality hasn’t…

The Best All-In-One Windows PCs: Seriously, They’re Actually Good Now

All-in-one PCs are the domain of the novice, the hotel business nook, or the interior decorator who can’t stomach seeing a “real” PC in a pristine living room. With the exception of the iMac, they were seen as boring, underpowered boxes with laptop components stuffed behind a cheap screen. But that’s changing.

It’s true that all-in-one machines are mostly cheap and simple, but the form factor has been undergoing a quiet revolution for the last couple of years. While Apple has been comfortable to trim dimensions and call it a day, manufacturers like Microsoft, Lenovo, HP, and others are filling the space with new and exciting designs. You should really check some of these models out before making your next desktop purchase.

Microsoft Surface Studio

The first desktop machine from Microsoft’s self-branded hardware initiative, the Surface Studio is surely the poster child for this new generation of all-in-one machines. Combining a 28-inch touch screen, a fold-down artist’s easel hinge, and the much-praised Surface Pen from the tablet line, the Studio makes a compelling argument for Windows as an artist’s platform. Prices start high and go higher, but with a GTX 965 graphics card and an optional 980 upgrade, the all-in-one can also double as a competent gaming machine (albeit a not-very-upgradeable one).

The $3000 starting price (with a rather paltry 8GB of RAM, no less) and slightly older Intel processors are two bummers in an otherwise amazing hardware package. Ditto for the unique Surface Dial: this rotating wireless tool can be placed directly on the screen for digital manipulation, but it’s a separate $100 purchase and currently limited to only a few applications. Even so, for those who want the absolute cutting edge in desktop design, the Surface Studio might be worth its steep asking price.

HP Envy

The Envy series has long been HP’s showcase for its more bombastic designs, and the latest all-in-one machines to wear the badge are no exception. These desktops combine huge, small-bezel displays with a horizontal component body that integrates a quad-speaker Bang & Olufsen soundbar. At a glance, the design looks like a high-end home theater setup that’s been shrunk down to desktop size, and that’s basically what it is, with a mid-range Windows machine crammed into the package.

The latest Envy designs are also surprisingly affordable, considering their displays. The base configuration for the massive 34-inch model starts at around $1800, though those who want more RAM, a bigger SSD+HDD combo, and a more capable graphics card can spend a bit more. The Envy design also comes in 24-inch and 27-inch versions, some of which offer touch screens, which isn’t an option on the largest version.

Digital Storm Aura, CyberPower PC Arcus, and Origin Omni

Even among these next-gen designs, gamers looking for truly high-end graphics can find their options a bit limited, thanks to the tight packages and non-upgradable components. Boutique PC makers are getting around that by cramming a full desktop into a 34-inch ultrawide monitor, in three separate products that seem to come from the same OEM supplier: the Digital Storm Aura, the CyberPower PC Arcus, and the Origin Omni. Slip off the back cover and you’ll be able to swap out every component, including a massive full-size PCIe desktop graphics card, RAM DIMM slots, SSD and HDD storage bays, and yes, even the desktop-class Intel processor and Mini-ITX motherboard.

Get Thursday’s Top Amazon Deals Now

As a recurring feature, our team combs the Web and shares some amazing Amazon deals we’ve turned up. Here’s what caught our eye today, March 23.

Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers, including Amazon, and may receive a small percentage of any sale. But we only get commission on items you buy and don’t return, so we’re only happy if you’re happy. Good luck deal hunting!

Ehang GHOSTDRONE 2.0 Aerial with 4K Sports Camera, iOS/Android Compatible, Black/Orange for $284.99 (list price $399.99)

Bluetooth Headphones, TOTU Wireless V4.1 Stereo Noise Isolating Sports Sweatproof Headset with Mic for iPhone 7 Samsung Galaxy S7 and Android Phones [Upgraded Version], Black for $18.99 (list price $39.99)

Kinsa Smart Stick Digital Thermometer – Medical Thermometer with Fever & Health Tracking for Children and Adults for $14.60 (list price $19.12)

Anker 60W 10-Port USB Wall Charger, PowerPort 10 for iPhone 7 / 6s / Plus, iPad Pro / Air 2 / mini, Galaxy S7 / S6 / Edge / Plus, Note 5 / 4, LG, Nexus, HTC and More for $33.59 (list price $99.99)

Bluetooth Speakers,TaoTronics 14W Stereo Wireless Portable Speaker Pulse X from Dual 7W Drivers, Strong Bass, High Definition Audio, Built-in Microphone for $20.99 (list price $55.99)

TaoTronics Bluetooth In Ear Headphones Wireless Earbuds Sports Magnetic Earphones with Built-in Mic (Sweatproof with IPX5 Splash Proof Rating, aptX Stereo, Up to 7 Hours Talk Time, Ceramic Antenna) for $26.99 (list price $35.99)

Plugable USB 2.0 Digital Microscope with Flexible Arm Observation Stand for Windows, Mac, Linux (2MP, 250x Magnification) for $29.70 (list price $59.99)

TOTU BT-2 V4.1 Bluetooth Headphones Wireless Music Stereo Sports Headset – Red for $24.99 (list price $69.99)

Anker PowerCore 20100 – 20000mAh Ultra High Capacity Power Bank with Powerful 4.8A Output, PowerIQ Technology for iPhone, iPad and Samsung Galaxy and More (White) for $37.99 (list price $79.99)

UGREEN 3.5mm Male to Female Extension Stereo Audio Extension Cable Adapter Gold Plated Compatible for iPhone, iPad or Smartphones, Tablets, Media Players for $5.99 (list price $8.99)

[Upgraded] Anker 2-Port 24W USB Wall Charger PowerPort 2 with PowerIQ for iPhone 7 / 6s / Plus, iPad Air 2 / mini 3, Galaxy S Series, Note Series, LG, Nexus, HTC and More for $10.99 (list price $29.99)

WizGear Universal Air Vent Magnetic Car Mount Holder with Fast Swift-Snap Technology for Smartphones and Mini Tablets, Black for $7.99 (list price $16.99)

SoundBot SB520 3D HD Bluetooth 4.0 Wireless Speaker for 15 Hours Music Streaming & Hands-Free Calling with Passive Sub Woofer, Built-in Mic, 3.5mm Audio Port (Silver) for $39.95 (list price $129.99)

ATGOIN Bluetooth Headphones, Wireless 4.1 Earbuds Stereo Earphones, Noise Cancelling Sweatproof Headset Secure Fit for Sports with Built-in Mic for $16.99 (list price $66.99)

Rowkin Bit Charge: Stereo Wireless Headphones with Portable Charger. Bluetooth Earbuds, Smallest Cordless Hands-free Mini Earphones Headset w/ Mic & Noise Reduction for Running and iPhone (Space Gray) for $129.99 (list price $259.99)

Aerb RFID Blocking Sleeves 12 Credit Cards 2 Passports Holders for Identity Theft Protection, Set of 14 for $7.99 (list price $19.99)

Selfie Stick | Use as GoPro Pole and Monopod | Camera Mount | Go Pro Accessories Kit | Use with iPhone 6 and 7 and Hero 3 4 5 Black Silver | New Grip Handle (No Bluetooth) for $24.95 (list price $35.88)

Spigen Kuel OneTap AP230T CD Slot Phone Mount Universal Car Phone Holder With Low Profile Design for iPhone 7 / 7 Plus / 6S / 6S Plus / Galaxy S7 / Galaxy S7 Edge / LG / Nexus for $18.99 (list price $29.99)

Omaker Reversible Micro USB Cables (2 Pack, 3.3ft) Nylon Braided Charging Cords for Android Devices for $10.99 (list price $39.99)

LEGO Star Wars Captain Rex’s AT-TE 75157 for $82.00 (list price $119.99)

Contigo SnapSeal Byron Vacuum Insulated Stainless Steel Travel Mug, 24oz, Matte Black for $12.51 (list price $14.99)

Crock-Pot SCCPVL610-S 6-Quart Programmable Cook and Carry Oval Slow Cooker, Digital Timer, Stainless Steel for $34.30 (list price $59.99)

BLACK+DECKER CM1160B 12 Cup Programmable Coffee Maker, Digital Control Programmable Coffee Maker, Black/Stainless Steel for $19.99 (list price $29.99)

Rubbermaid 17.3 Cup FreshWorks Produce Saver Food Storage Container, Large, Green for $10.22 (list price $16.99)

2-Tier Stainless Steel Dish Drying Rack Utensil Holder with Drain Board, Chrome 17L x 9.25W x 10.5H Inches for $27.99 (list price $29.99)

Bellemain Heavy Duty Aluminum Half Sheet Pan, 18″ x 13″ x 1″ for $10.50 (list price $32.95)
Colonel Popper Popcorn Maker – Blue for $12.97 (list price $24.99)
AROCCOM Ceramic Chef Knife, 6″ Cutlry Kitchen Knife with Sheath Black Handle, White Blade for $11.99 (list price $39.99)

All-Clad E785S264 HA1 Hard Anodized Nonstick Dishwasher Safe PFOA Free 8-Inch and 10-Inch Fry Pan Cookware Set, 2-Piece, Black for $59.96 (list price $90.00)

Vremi 15 Piece Nonstick Cookware Set – Kitchen Pots and Pans Set Nonstick with Cooking Utensils – Non Stick Cookware Set PTFE and PFOA Free Oven Safe Basics Pots and Pans – Black for $40.99 (list price $90.00)

Zojirushi SL-JAE14SA Mr. Bento Stainless Steel Lunch Jar, Silver for $42.99 (list price $66.00)

Olive Oil and Vinegar Sprayer Set by Cookisy for Portion Control Cooking and Baking, Includes Silicone Funnel (3 pcs) for $19.95 (list price $29.95)

Freshware 15-Pack 1 Compartment Bento Lunch Boxes with Lids – Stackable, Reusable, Microwave, Dishwasher & Freezer Safe – Meal Prep, Portion Control, 21 Day Fix & Food Storage Containers (28oz) for $11.99 (list price $19.99)

Digital Kitchen Scale by Zerla – Versatile Food Scale – Weigh Snacks, Liquids, & Foods – Accurate Weight Scale within .05 oz. for $11.99 (list price $29.99)

EHME Extra Long Stainless Steel Drinking Straws Set of 6 for 20 oz & 30 oz Yeti and RTIC or Other More Brand Tumblers Ramblers Cups+2 Free Cleaning Brushes for $6.99 (list price $12.99)

Glasslock 18-Piece Assorted Oven Safe Container Set for $38.78 (list price $44.99)

Popsicle Molds Set – BPA Free – 6 Ice Pop Makers + Silicone Funnel + Cleaning Brush + Ice Cream Recipes E-book – by Lebice for $7.99 (list price $11.95)

Brita 10 Cup Stream Filter as You Pour Water Pitcher with 1 Filter, Rapids, BPA Free, Lake Blue for $29.94 (list price $34.99)

Hamilton Beach 49980A Single Serve Coffee Brewer and Full Pot Coffee…

Samsung’s New iPad Pro Is Just Fantastic

Coming a year after the launch of Apple’s first 9.7-inch iPad Pro, the new iteration from Samsung feels daring. While it has the same sleek lines, is just as light, and possesses the magnetic connection on one side for easy keyboard cover attachment, Samsung’s iPad Pro for 2017 is, inexplicably called the Galaxy Tab S3, and unlike previous iPads this one runs on Android.

Technically, if you want to be “accurate” this is not an iPad Pro, but Samsung’s first premium Android tablet in over a year. In 2015 Android sort of lost the tablet war it had waged against iOS. While Google’s mobile OS rules the budget roost thanks to the cheap Kindle Fire, no one has really expressed a desire for a $600 media consumption machine running little green droid brains. Heck, at this point people don’t even buy iPads any more. The people who want tablets have them already.

Samsung’s hoping it can change people’s minds with a shiny new device that just happens to bear a remarkable resemblance to the current bestselling premium tablet, the iPad. It’s only a hundredth of a pound lighter than the comparable iPad, less than a tenth of an inch shorter, and both devices are just .24 inches thick. They’re both also $600 for a 32GB version, and they handle everything from drawing to quickly written screeds on Facebook with zero lag. Maybe Samsung considers the remarkable similarities between its new product and last year’s iPad Pro to be a compliment to Apple, rather than a naked bid for a share of a dwindling market. Though Apple, and courts, tend to disagree.

Some things are different about the two tablets. Besides running Android Nougat instead of iOS 10, the Tab S3 has a Qualcomm 820 processor (which is theoretically slower than the 835 reportedly planned for the Galaxy S8 phone), comes in only a 32GB version, and includes a nice little pen for drawing on its admittedly vibrant AMOLED display. As an Apple Pencil costs an additional $100, the Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 feels like a bargain.

Neither device includes the keyboard cover. Apple charges $150 for a cover and keyboard that…

How to Add Extra Storage to Your Phone or Tablet with a Mobile Drive

You’ve been taking photos and videos, downloading documents, and installing apps like there’s no tomorrow. All of a sudden you realize you’re running out of room on your phone. What do you do?

Sure, you could use cloud services like Dropbox, Google Drive, and OneDrive to store files, but those require an internet connection to access your files. If you want to actually take files with you, there is a better solution.

Just like you’ve been using USB flash drives with your PC or Mac all these years, there are also flash drive-esque devices that connect to phones and tablets. After testing a few, here are some that we recommend:

  • The SanDisk Connect Wireless Stick is the most versatile, being able to connect to iOS devices, Android devices, and computers (either wirelessly or over its USB connection like a traditional flash drive). Put any files on it from your PC, and you’ll be able to read them using an app on your phone. The SanDisk software can also back up your photos and contacts, and secure any sensitive files you have on the drive with the SecureAccess software (which can only be protected and unprotected on your PC or Mac). And, of course, wireless drives don’t have to be physically connected, which is nice—though you will have to charge it.
  • The SanDisk iXpand Flash Drive is more like a traditional flash drive, but built for the iPhone and iPad. It plugs into the Lightning port on the bottom of your device so you can directly access files stored on it. Like the SanDisk Connect, it can back up photos and contacts, though it can also back up your calendar and social media. The iXpand drive can also protect individual files in the SanDiskSecureAccess vault directly on the drive using the iXpand Drive app.
  • The Leef iBridge 3 Mobile Memory Drive is similar to the iXpand drive, connecting directly to the Lightning port on your device. However, it has one unique feature: allows you to transfer files between the drive and a few of the more popular cloud services without having to copy the files on your mobile device first. The Leef iBridge 3 also allows you to protect your files, like the iXpand drive, but it protects the whole drive, not individual files.

The iXpand and Leef iBridge 3 drives should both fit over most cases. We tested them on an iPhone 7 Plus with a Speck Presidio Grip case and it fit just fine. They may not fit as well with some of the thicker cases, such as OtterBox cases. The iXpand drive is a bit more flexible than the Leef iBridge 3 drive.

NOTE: We’re mostly focusing on iOS in this guide, since Android phones are much more versatile. If your Android device supports USB on-the-go (OTG), you can use any old flash drive just by plugging it in using a USB OTG cable. You can read more about that process in this article. You can also use a USB-A-plus-USB-C flash drive like this one. If your Android phone does not support physical USB connections, the SanDisk Connect Wireless Stick should work well with Android too.

In this guide, we’ll walk through the process of using all three of these devices to store and read files on your iPhone or iPad, as well as back up photos or other files if you want to free up space. There is more you can do with these drives than we discuss here, and we’ll provide links to help pages so you can learn all about using your new drive.

How to Use the SanDisk Connect Wireless Stick

The SanDisk Connect Wireless Stick is a flash drive that works not only with your computer, but with your phone and tablet as well. It runs its own wireless network, so you can connect to it wirelessly. That means it can be in your pocket, purse, backpack, or anywhere within about 150 feet with a clear line of sight while it’s connected to your device.

The SanDisk Connect Wireless Stick provides up to 256GB of extra storage, and the prices range from about $25 for 16GB to about $200 for 256GB, as of this writing.

Charging the SanDisk Connect Wireless Stick and Connecting It to Your PC

Before we get started with the SanDisk Connect Wireless Stick, plug the drive into your computer or a USB adapter and let it fully charge. This might take up to two hours.

While the drive is charging, download and install the appropriate app for your device: Connect Drive for iOS or for Connect Drive for Android. We’re going to show you how to use the drive and the app on iOS, but the process is the very similar on both. If you’re charging the drive in a USB port on your computer, you can also use the charging time to copy any photos, videos, or other files you want to access on your phone to the drive. Copy files just like you would any other flash drive.

Once the drive is fully charged, turn it on by pressing the power button on the side of the drive.

The LED on the top of the drive blinks white to indicate the drive is on.

Connecting the SanDisk Connect to Your Phone or Tablet

To connect to the drive on Android, open the Connect Drive app and select the Wi-Fi network that your drive creates.

If you’re connecting the drive wirelessly to a PC or Mac, connect to the drive’s Wi-Fi network just like you would connect to any other Wi-Fi network. Then, open a browser and go to http://172.25.63.1/myconnect/. You should see the files on your drive in the browser window and you can manage the files right in the browser.

iOS is a bit different. To connect to the drive, you have to go through the Wi-Fi settings for your iPhone or iPad, not in the Connect Drive app. To do so, tap “Settings” on the Home screen.

On the Settings screen, tap the “Wi-Fi” option.

Under Choose a Network, you should see the SanDisk Connect drive listed with unique code of six numbers and letters after it, identifying your specific wireless stick. Tap on “SanDisk Connect” in the list.

The SanDisk Connect drive moves up to the top of the screen with a checkmark beside it.

You are now connected to your drive. Open the Connect Drive app and swipe left to go through the introductory screens. On the last screen, tap the “Get Started” button at the bottom.

The initial screen of the Connect Drive app displays with some helpful hints to get you started.

Accessing Files on the Wireless Stick

Files on the wireless stick can be accessed directly on the drive. Open the Connect Drive app and you’ll see all the files and folders on the drive. To open or view a file, simply tap on the file. If the file is in a folder on the drive, tap the folder to open it and then tap on the file. For example, to view a photo on our drive, we tap the Photos folder to open it…

…then we tap on a photo in the folder.

The photo displays directly in the app. You can also tap the right arrow icon at the bottom of the screen to start a slideshow using all the photos at the same level (the root of the drive or in the same folder). The Connect Drive app supports viewing .bmp, .tif, .tiff, .jpg, .png, .xbm, .ico, and .tga images.

You can stream videos to up to three devices from the drive the same way. Simply tap on a video file to play it directly in the Connect Drive app. The Connect Drive app can play .wmv, .avi, .mkv, .mp4, .mov, .flv, .mpg, .rmvb, .m4v, and .ts video files. (Note that some DRM-protected content cannot be played, however.)

You can also play music files in the form of .mp3, .wav, .m4a, .aac, and .ogg, as well as view Microsoft Office documents (.doc, .docx, .xls, .xlsx, .ppt, and .pptx) and PDF files.

Backing Up Photos and Videos from Your Device to the Wireless Stick

To save room on your device, you may want to transfer some of your photos and videos from your camera roll to the wireless stick and access them directly on the drive.

NOTE: Photos and videos are the only types of files you can officially transfer from your device to the drive. However, the Connect Drive app is added to the iOS share sheet, so you might be able to transfer files from other apps to the drive using the share sheet if those apps support it. For example, we selected a video in VLC and then used the share sheet to copy the file to the Connect Drive app, which automatically copies the file to the wireless stick. You can also transfer photos and videos (up to 10 files at a time) in the camera roll using the share sheet instead of the Connect Drive app. Select them in the camera roll, tap the Share icon, and then tap the Connect Drive icon on the share sheet. Then, choose where on the drive you want to paste the files.

To use the Connect Drive app to back up photos and videos to the drive, open the app and tap the plus icon at the bottom of screen showing the contents of the drive.

The first time you copy files, the Connect Drive app will ask permission to access your photos. Tap “OK” on the dialog box that displays. You’ll then see the photos in your camera roll. You can also click the Albums button to access other albums.

Once you’ve located the photos you want to back up to the wireless stick, tap on those photos. Then, tap the “Select Destination” button at the bottom of the screen.

Now, you’re prompted to select a destination on the drive. You can select any existing folder by tapping on it, or you can tap “New Folder” to create a new folder to contain the copied photos. Once you have selected your destination, tap the “Copy Here” button at the bottom of the screen.

The app displays the status of the copy process. You can pause the copying of a photo, cancel the process, or hide the progress screen.

When the photos have been copied, the following dialog box displays. Click the “OK” button to close the dialog box.

If you’d rather back up your entire camera roll, you can tap the menu button in the upper-left corner of the main screen and head to “Camera Roll Backup”. You can set it to back up manually or automatically.

Connecting to the Internet and Use the Wireless Stick at the Same Time

When you connect your device to the SanDisk Connect Wireless Stick, you give up your normal Wi-Fi connection, so you won’t be able to access the internet. You can get it back, though—you just have to re-connect to your normal Wi-Fi network through the Connect Drive app.

Tap the hamburger menu button in the upper-left corner of the screen.

Tap “Internet Connection” on the slide-out menu.

Click the “Next” button on the introductory screen.