The best Samsung Galaxy Note 9 pre-order prices in Australia compared

Samsung's latest monolith of a phablet has officially been unveiled, and we've now got the lowdown on what makes the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 special. For instance, we know it features a record-breaking display, and is quite capable of replacing the average user's home PC.

The Note 9 has been announced in three different colours – Ocean Blue, Metallic Copper and Midnight Black – as well as two configurations, one with 128GB of onboard storage for $1,499, and the other with an unprecedented 512GB of storage for $1,799.

With prices like this, it seems that Samsung is going for the throat of the iPhone X, but is this work-meets-play powerhouse enough to sway Apple die-hards? And does this generation of the Note offer enough promise for those upgrading from the Galaxy Note 8?

If you'd prefer to pick up the handset outright, there's a limited pre-order offer on at the moment that nets you the bigger 512GB configuration for the price of the 128GB phone. So head on over to Harvey Norman and check out the 512GB Samsung Galaxy Note 9 for $1,499 in Ocean Blue, Metallic Copper or Midnight Black.

For more in-depth thoughts, check out our Samsung Galaxy Note 9 hands-on review.

See also: Galaxy S9 deals | Galaxy S9 Plus deals | iPhone X deals | Galaxy Note 8 deals

The best Samsung Galaxy Note 9 plans

Given the $1,499 starting price of this monolithic handset, there's a good chance you'll want to soften that blow with a 24-month contract. Although the plans are still fairly steep, some come with some excellent bonus offers and other neat ways to reduce the wallet-damage.

It's worth noting that, for pre-orders, every carrier is offering the 512GB model at the same price as the 128GB model, so there's literally no advantage in getting the lower capacity configuration.

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Huawei’s mid-range Nova 3i is now up for pre-order Down Under

Huawei has announced that its Nova 3i handset – the big sibling to the spectacular Nova 3e – is available for pre-order for $599 in Australia with a very solid and very limited bonus gift offer.

The Nova 3i sports an almost bezel-free facade with a prominent notch and slight chin, and the contemporary aesthetic carries over to the rear with its flat faux-glass. 

There’s no denying that Huawei has taken some inspiration from Apple’s trend-setting iPhone X design and the results are similarly premium, despite the thousand-dollar price difference.

Alongside its mammoth 6.3-inch display (2,340 x 1,080 FHD+ resolution), the Nova 3i’s most impressive feature is its camera aptitude — something Huawei has been championing for years at this point.

Not only does the Nova 3i boast twin rear cameras, there’s a pair of equally powerful front-facing cameras as well, and all four of them are coupled with new AI functionality that lets you manipulate and enhance your photos with 3D effects.

But how about that bonus offer? If you pre-order the handset before August 23 from the select suppliers, you’ll also net yourself a free pair of the Huawei FreeBuds valued at $199. 

These truly wireless earbuds give the Apple AirPods a run for their money, offering 10 hours of playtime, IP54 water and sweat resistance, and a neat charging case while you’re on the go.

The Huawei Nova 3i has been priced at $599 and is available to pre-order in Black or Purple from JB Hi-Fi, Harvey Norman, and Mobileciti, with the bonus gift offer expiring on the official launch date of August 23 (or until stocks last).

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iPad Pro 2018 will likely borrow some of the iPhone X’s neatest features

Rumors around an upcoming iPad Pro launch have been increasing in recent months, and now it’s looking more likely than ever that 2018’s professional tablet from Apple will bear the resemblance of a big iPhone X.

Up until the iPhone X, every iPhone and iPad display had squared-off edges, but the iPhone X introduced a display with rounded edges to match the curvature of the handset itself. 

While digging through the iOS 12 developer beta, 9to5Mac has found an asset that appears to be a visual mask used to round the corners of the UI, and it bears the codename “J3XX”, which itself is indicative of the 2018 iPad Pro model.

By itself, this strongly suggests that the 2018 iPad Pro will follow in the design footsteps of the iPhone X, sporting rounded corners on its display.

iPad Pro ... X?

When you consider this UI mask alongside rumors that this iPad Pro will support Face ID, it’s seems increasingly likely that this year’s model won't feature a Home button and will have severely reduced bezels.

Some more juicy hints that support this rumor have been uncovered by 9to5Mac in the form of two small icons in a battery usage diagnostic. These tiny tiles seem to show both a current iPad with prominent bezels and a Home button, and a future model that lacks either.

Credit: 9to5Mac

We're expecting to hear more about the upcoming iPad Pro at the anticipated iPhone XI launch in early September, but until then, be sure to follow all the latest iPad Pro news, leaks and rumors here at TechRadar.

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Samsung Duo wireless charger accidentally leaked by Amazon

Rumors have been swirling ahead of Samsung’s Galaxy Note 9 launch about a wireless charging pad known as the Duo, and now Amazon has all but confirmed this unreleased product.

As the name should imply, the Samsung Wireless Charger Duo is capable of charging two devices simultaneously, whether that’s the upcoming Note 9 and Galaxy Watch, or a pair of older mobile devices like the wireless charging-capable Galaxy S8 or Galaxy S9.

In a press preview event attended by Gizmodo, Amazon put a device on display that looks identical to the current leaked image of the Duo, although it was labelled here as the Samsung Qi Pad (2018) and its associated QR code linked to Samsung’s standard single charging pad.

Samsung Wireless Charger Duo

From the rear, you can see the Duo's USB-C connection. [Image by Sam Rutherford, Gizmodo]

What appears to be the Samsung Duo has a single USB-C connection and twin indicator lights to show each device’s charging status. 

One half of the unit retains the same angular disc design of the original Samsung Qi Pad, which presumably was intended to be displayed here instead of the Duo.

Gizmodo found the device to have an input rating of 12V and 2.1A but, apart from that, there were few details on show. If you’re keen to check out more images, head over to Sam Rutherford’s article on Gizmodo.

We expect all will be revealed when the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 is revealed on August 9, so stay tuned for all the juicy Galaxy news.

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Apple likely to include dual-SIM support in upcoming iPhones

The latest version of the iOS 12 developer beta (release 5) has allowed for some interesting discoveries that support existing rumors and raise some new ones.

While Android handsets are typically rather generous in offering a dedicated slot for a second SIM card, this feature has been notably absent from Apple’s handsets over the last ten years. 

However, rumors have been mounting for one of the upcoming iPhone models to support dual-SIM functionality, and these rumors have been strongly buffed by some lines of code that 9to5Mac has found in the iOS 12 developer beta 5. 

Dual-SIM iPhone

Evidence found in iOS 12 developer code supports dual-SIM iPhone. [Image courtesy of 9to5Mac]

The report has identified some lines of diagnostic text that specifically reference “secondSimStatus”, “secondSimTrayStatus”, and “isDualSimDevice” – all of which seem to suggest that dual SIM cards will be supported at the software level at the very least. And considering the mention of a “tray”, there’s also likely to be the hardware to match.

A second SIM card slot may not be useful to every user, but for those who like to switch between two different plans within their home country, or regularly travel abroad to regions with different networks, it’s an indispensable tool.

The second slot allows you to make the switch over to another plan via a menu option in settings rather than having to physically exchange SIM cards and risk losing the tiny sliver of plastic and copper.

The scenic route

Another fresh theory floating around the rumor-mill is specifically in regards to the reported iPhone XI Plus with its 6.5-inch OLED display, and it suggests that the mega-screened device may inherit one of the iPad’s neater features.

On the iPad, Apple apps such as Calendar, Mail, and Contacts offer a landscape view that makes much better use of the additional screen real estate. For instance, when using Mail, your inbox appears as a list on the left-hand side with a preview of each email on the right.

According to iHelpBR, the iPhone XI Plus will have a 6.5-inch display with a resolution of 1,242 x 2,688, and from their testing with the aforementioned iOS 12 developer beta 5, they noticed this iPad-style feature activated when running at this resolution and size. 

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YouTube dark mode begins rolling out to Android users

After YouTube introduced a dark mode to its desktop site last year and migrated the feature to iOS in March this year, it’s finally starting to arrive for Android users.

The alternative theme exchanges YouTube’s white backgrounds and menus for a deep grey, aiming to alleviate the eye strain associated with brighter light when viewing in a darker room or at nighttime.

As reported by 9to5google, some users have already begun seeing the change, with the dark theme applied by default when opening their YouTube app for the first time since updating, along with a pop-up offering the option to revert to the regular theme.

You can also enable or disable the mode in the 'General' section of the app’s settings by toggling the aptly-titled 'dark theme' option.

Although not yet available to all Android users, the feature has begun rolling out at random on a trial basis, and we expect it won't be long before it’s widely available.

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Apple won’t be using Qualcomm wireless chipsets in 2018 iPhones

In the latest turn on the rollercoaster of Apple-Qualcomm relations, the chipmaker's financial chief, George Davis, has confirmed that Apple will solely use its competitor’s modems on its upcoming handsets.

Davis made the statement to investors during an earnings call, and its implication is that Intel (Qualcomm’s primary competitor) would instead develop the wireless chipset responsible for cellular and other wireless communications in Apple’s 2018 handsets – the iPhone XI and iPhone 9.

The move away from this specific chipmaker isn’t really all that surprising given the ongoing legal battle between Apple and Qualcomm, but it should ideally mean that all the products in Apple's 2018 lineup will use the same provider, which was not the case in the past.

What does the future hold?

While Apple has used Intel wireless chips in the past alongside those manufactured by Qualcomm, there’s nothing to indicate that it will continue its allegiance with either one of the companies into the future.

In fact, there were reports earlier this month that the 5G chip initially rumored for inclusion in Apple’s 2020 line of iPhones would no longer be developed by Intel, but the company since responded claiming its “5G customer engagements and roadmap have not changed for 2018 through 2020. We remain committed to our 5G plans and projects.” 

If there’s anything to be taken from the back-and-forth between these wireless chipset manufacturers is that the world of smartphone modems is a fickle one.

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Apple won’t be using Qualcomm wireless chipsets in 2018 iPhones

In the latest turn on the rollercoaster of Apple-Qualcomm relations, the chipmaker's financial chief, George Davis, has confirmed that Apple will solely use its competitor’s modems on its upcoming handsets.

Davis made the statement to investors during an earnings call, and its implication is that Intel (Qualcomm’s primary competitor) would instead develop the wireless chipset responsible for cellular and other wireless communications in Apple’s 2018 handsets – the iPhone XI and iPhone 9.

The move away from this specific chipmaker isn’t really all that surprising given the ongoing legal battle between Apple and Qualcomm, but it should ideally mean that all the products in Apple's 2018 lineup will use the same provider, which was not the case in the past.

What does the future hold?

While Apple has used Intel wireless chips in the past alongside those manufactured by Qualcomm, there’s nothing to indicate that it will continue its allegiance with either one of the companies into the future.

In fact, there were reports earlier this month that the 5G chip initially rumored for inclusion in Apple’s 2020 line of iPhones would no longer be developed by Intel, but the company since responded claiming its “5G customer engagements and roadmap have not changed for 2018 through 2020. We remain committed to our 5G plans and projects.” 

If there’s anything to be taken from the back-and-forth between these wireless chipset manufacturers is that the world of smartphone modems is a fickle one.

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Vodafone’s spruiking new unlimited streaming add-ons for its mobile plans

Following in the footsteps of Telstra, Vodafone has today announced a new system of mobile plan add-ons aimed at quenching the ever-growing demand for mobile data that matches the modern needs of the streaming world.

Whether this means media services such as Netflix and Spotify, or social platforms like Facebook and WhatsApp, Vodafone has a variety of paid add-ons that allow unmetered streaming of specific apps on mobile.

There are four passes on offer, ranging from $5 to $15 a month, which can be added to any Vodafone Red or SIM-only plan on the network.

  • Social ($10 pm): Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, and Pinterest 
  • Music ($10 pm): Amazon Music, Spotify, Tidal, Deezer, and SoundCloud
  • Video ($15 pm): Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and Stan 
  • Chat ($5 pm): Facebook Messenger (text), Viber (call and text), and WhatsApp (text)

Nitty gritty

Obviously some of these passes offer a better value proposition than others, and this depends not only on your specific usage, but also the nature of the services and how they use data.

For instance, sending text via messaging services uses a negligible amount of data; somewhere in the realm of 1-2 bytes per word. Similarly, a typical Viber call only uses around 1MB for 5 minutes of talk time, which works out at just over 85 hours for 1GB of data. Even if you were on a month-long Viber call (we're talking every single second of the month), you'd only use around 8-9GB of data.

Usage on the social and music-oriented apps may offer a bit more in the way of real value, particularly if you don't have your music offline, but both Telstra and Optus plans have been providing data-free music streaming at no extra cost for quite some time now.

 But what about video streaming? 

If you’ve got a reasonably low data cap but are keen to stream Netflix on the go, then paying an extra $15 a month not to have to worry about the data usage sounds like a pretty sweet deal. But is it?

It’s important to note that all of Vodafone’s passes are capped at a download speed of 1.5Mbps, and according to the company’s speed guide, this is “incompatible” with HD streaming video, and Standard Definition “video may be slower to start playing”.

When you consider that “the actual speeds you reach will continually vary”, the Video pass realistically offers you slow-to-load 480p video that may drop out at any time depending on “device capabilities, location, network congestion, and network coverage”.

In light of the above, it's worth considering the cost of upgrading your plan to one with a bigger data allowance before you fork out a monthly fee for Vodafone's unmetered streaming options.

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YouTube is trialing an Explore tab for its mobile app

If you’ve ever found yourself stuck in a YouTube rabbit-hole, spending hours watching consecutive and vaguely-related videos, then this new feature will probably only make things worse.

Announced on YouTube’s own Creator Insider channel by Tom Leung, the video platform's director of product management, the Explore tab will allow mobile users to “broaden their horizons” when it comes to discovering new videos.

“Explore is designed to help you be exposed to different kinds of topics, videos or channels that you may not otherwise encounter, but they’re still personalized – they’re still based on your viewing activity.”

As the video suggests, this new feature will still retain YouTube's personalized recommendations of videos, but instead of the relatively narrow scope of suggestions, it will offer a slightly more tangential array of videos.

The example given in the video suggests that, if you were a user who predominantly watched videos about camera gear, techniques, and news, you may see videos relating to telescopes in this new tab.

The Explore tab will show up in between the Home and Subscriptions tabs at the bottom of the YouTube app, but at present, the tab is only available to “1% of iPhone YouTube app viewers”. However, if the trial proves successful, we can likely expect the feature to roll out to both iOS and Android YouTube apps.

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Apple patches iOS bug that crashed apps due to Taiwanese flag emoji

Although initially slated for iOS 12, the release of iOS 11.4.1 has seen the rollout of  USB restricted mode, which prevents the hacking of an Apple device via the Lightning port. But that’s not the only feature that the company slipped into its latest incremental update.

Former NSA hacker Patrick Wardle found that, when iPhone users either sent or received a message containing the word Taiwan or a Taiwanese flag emoji, the app they were using would crash.

Wardle detailed the bug extensively in his step-by-step blog post and reported it to Apple, which lead to the issue being quietly patched in the latest iOS release (11.4.1) under the code CVE-2018-4290.

Chinese democracy

Wardle found that the bug would crash several messaging applications, such as iMessage, Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp, and would occur as soon as the user typed in the country’s name or selected its flag. It would also occur upon receipt of a message containing either of these.

He discovered the cause of these crashes to be related to a series of checks that verified whether the iPhone’s region was set to China or not, and then attempted to remove a specific emoji (in this case, the Taiwanese flag) from incoming messages.

As can be found by visiting the aptly-titled website Emojipedia, the Taiwanese flag emoji is, in fact, censored from iPhones that have their locale set to China – no doubt due to lingering political tensions between the two countries – and such users will instead see a missing character.

At this point, Patrick Wardle boils down the crashing applications to an error in the coding rather than a deliberate bug, but regardless of whether the crashes were intentionally programmed into iOS, the flag censorship certainly was, indicating Apple’s willingness to appease the Chinese government.

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Razer’s gaming-focused Android phone has finally landed in Australia

After launching late in 2017 in the US and UK, gaming peripheral specialist Razer has brought its eponymous handset Down Under — the mobile gaming-centric Razer Phone.

The handset touts a 5.7-inch display with an impressive 120Hz refresh rate – the first of its kind in the world – alongside stereo speakers that rock Dolby Atmos and THX-Certified audio tech. 

The unit is powered by a Snapdragon 835 processor and 8GB of RAM, the same combo that hit our shores last year in the OnePlus 5, which, itself, was delayed a few months after first launching in the UK and US. 

Although this isn’t the latest chipset from Qualcomm, the 835 was the brains behind the impressive HTC U11 and Nokia 8, and we’ll be getting our Razer Phones with the latest Android Oreo 8.1 out of the box.

Timing's key

Considering the brand’s heritage of producing gaming peripherals, the sleek and serious aesthetic of the Razer Phone fits right into the array of deadly-looking keyboards and mice the company’s known for.

The decision to launch the handset Down Under, even though it had already been available for eight months in other regions, could likely have something to do with the rise in popularity of mobile titles such as PUBG and Fortnite (the latter of which has been officially confirmed for Android in the near future)

You can get yourself the Razer Phone exclusively online from JB Hi-Fi for $1,099, but hurry as the stock is strictly limited.

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Google Maps will now recommend places to visit based on where you’ve already been

After initially previewing the update at its I/O developer conference, Google has begun to roll out some of its new features for Google Maps, including an array of settings that revolve around personalized recommendations.

Two new tabs can be found on the Google Maps homescreen – “Explore” and “For You” – which give you a rundown of places such as restaurants, venues and landmarks based on your location and previous activity.

While the Explore tab takes into account your current location and time of day in order to offer up personalized suggestions, the For You tab takes a look at the areas you frequent. This latter tab also keeps you in the loop about restaurants opening up and other popular, trending places in the area.

Where should we eat?

Under the Explore tab, you’ll be able to filter through curated lists with categories such as coffee and attractions, while Google is making use of its vast swathes of user data to compile recommendations of “healthy takeout”, “cheap eats”, “where the locals eat”, and more.

If you’re chasing down the top 10 burger joints in an area, Google Maps will now keep track of your progress and let you know you’ve been to four of them already, showing you which ones you still need to visit.

If you already have location history enabled, the app will now be able to give you a percentage score (or “Your Match”) on just how likely you are to enjoy a place based on your previously visited places.

Google Maps’ latest feature-set has already begun to roll out to users around the globe and will continue to do so over the coming weeks, but the For You tab is currently only for users in the US, UK, Canada, Australia, and Japan.

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Telstra will replace thousands of phone and internet plans with just 20

When Telstra announced its new simplified business strategy, dubbed "Telstra2022", it was revealed that this would result in the cutting of over 8,000 employees and contractors as well as a drastic reduction in the number of plans the telco offers.

"We will simplify our products by retiring more than 1,800 plans and introducing 20 core plans", Telstra announced in its statement regarding its consumer and small business customers. 

While it isn’t explicitly mentioned, this appears to be in relation to the telco’s entire suite of services, ranging from mobile to broadband and NBN. While this will likely reduce the confusion that comes with choosing a new plan, it may push some existing customers into less-than-ideal compromises when the time comes to switch.

"Excess data charges are a thing of the past"

Another key alteration that Telstra detailed is "peace of mind data across a range of new post-paid plans", which will see the telco following a similar route to Vodafone’s 'unlimited' plans, which offer a throttled download speed once a user has reached their data cap rather than slap them with excess data charges.

While this new cap-free data option is part of the Telstra2022 strategy, we won’t have to wait that long to see it in action. "Our customers will start to benefit from this simplified approach in July", Telstra’s statement assures us.

Beyond this offer, "four more major product and service experiences will be progressively announced in the lead up to June 2019", so we can expect some more competitive features from Telstra plans over the course of the next 12 months.

The times they are a changin'

The reduction of plan options and introduction of 'peace of mind' data plans are the most immediate changes that will affect your everyday Telstra customer, but this only comprises one of the Telstra2022 strategy’s core pillars.

The other pillars include forming a separate and standalone infrastructure business, with a new CEO leading the way for the future of copper and HFC cabling as well as data centres, exchanges and even subsea cabling.

Telstra’s entire employment structure will also experience a dramatic shift in order to "best serve the customer", and this "agile" approach will result in the reduction of 8,000 roles, including executive and management positions.

This is far from excellent news for the employees and contractors that will have to look elsewhere for work, but Telstra has at least dedicated $5 million to helping the affected staff with their transition to a role in a new company.

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Facebook Messenger is trialing autoplaying video ads

After seemingly running out of space for ads in its newsfeed, social-media giant Facebook is now in the process of trialling autoplaying video ads in its popular messaging platform, Facebook Messenger.

Alongside chats in your inbox from your friends, family members, and people-you-met-that-one-time, you’ll now be watching video commercials – a form of advertising that nets Facebook much more money than regular static ads.

According to the social network's first quarter earnings for 2018, advertising was responsible for bringing in 98.6% of the company’s total revenue, accounting for $11.8 billion in the first three months of the year.

On trial

The trial for the feature commenced on Monday, June 18, but as Stefanos Loukakos, Messenger’s head of advertising, told Recode, the company will be monitoring user response to the new format to determine whether it will stick around.

“We don’t know yet,” he said when asked about how a wider rollout. “However, signs until now, when we tested basic [static] ads, didn’t show any changes with how people used the platform.” These static ads have been displaying inside Messenger for 18 months.

Another message sent by Facebook’s team to BGR claimed the company “will be rolling out video ads gradually and thoughtfully. People that use Messenger each month are our top priority and they will remain in control of their experience.”

For those not interested in integrated advertisements in their Messenger experience, you can try out Messenger Lite, or alternatively, one of the many other chat and messaging services that don't contain ads.

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