A bug is in the way of getting Android 7.1.1 to Nexus 6

The Nexus 6 is 25 months old, but is still under the supportive wing of Google for at least one more software update. Unfortunately, that update has been stuck at the company while other Nexus and Pixel devices have already made the jump from Android 7.0 Nougat to Android 7.1.1.

Why? Well, in a statement to Android Police, it turns out that developers are looking into a “last minute bug that was specific to the Nexus 6.” A fix has been put in and final touches will be as well before the over-the-air update will be released starting early next month.

With Google’s software support policy applicable to first-party devices 24 months old or newer, this update, which brings native image keyboard support to apps among other features, could be the Nexus 6’s last.

The Nexus 6 was a laggard to receiving the Android 7.0 update.

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Maybe HTC Ocean Note will come on January 12 after all?

HTC has something special “for U” on January 12. We still do not officially know what it is, but there have been guesses and speculative jabs at what might be up for the day.

According to Taiwanese outlet ePrice, there’s growing probability that at least one of the products that will be showcased will be a device that’s been codenamed “Ocean Note”. It is rumored that the January 12 date has strong support and that sales will begin before January 28, the start of the Lunar New Year holidays.

The HTC Ocean concept was leaked in a designer’s portfolio video a few months ago that portrays a device with hardware design similar to what HTC has done for its One series and the HTC 10. Hardware buttons have been replaced with touch-capacitive siderails and “Sense Touch” software interface that cleverly takes advantage of them.

Three such devices are rumored to take on the concept, with the “Note” being one of them. The two others, “Master” and “Smart,” are presumed to be the main variant and a lighter-duty one, respectively. All three may come to market under different series brands — the “Master” will be in the vein of the One (10?) series, the “Smart” will be in the Desire series while the “Note” will get a new umbrella.

It isn’t clear if the trio will be announced or released simultaneously, but all three are supposedly scheduled to be revealed within the first quarter.

It’s also unprecedented for HTC to make such an early play at the smartphone market, but it could find some support in drafting distance from Samsung and LG product launches in the spring, a new brand and a “Note” phablet solution that may fill the void of the Note 7 and beat the LG V20’s sales performance. It definitely needs the support after another year of poor shipment numbers.

We’ll have to see how much of this holds up, but we wouldn’t push too much doubt here.

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HTC Vive is $100 off, but Microsoft is giving more

It’s already well and good that one of the first and biggest splashes in virtual reality is going for $699 for a limited time at the Microsoft Store and at the HTC Vive website. Even sweeter is the fact that customers will also be getting promo codes for free access to “The Gallery – Episode 1: Call of the Starseed” and “Zombie Training Simulator.”

But Microsoft is putting on an additional $100 gift code for its store (to be used within seven days) and if you bundle in a qualifying GeForce GTX chip purchase or a Vive-compatible PC checkout, you’ll also get three free VR games and an additional top-off discount, too.

It really seems that HTC has some promotional clout over Oculus here.

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Best Buy discounts LG G5 for AT&T, Sprint, Verizon to $350

Best Buy is clearing out the rest of its LG G5 inventory after letting it idle past holiday shopping time.

It has units of various colors compatible with AT&T, Sprint and Verizon networks for a cost of $349.99 with savings of at least $230 on the table. The big box retailer is also coupling the phone with an accessories bundle for free.

Note that these aren’t unlocked units, but you will have gotten one of this year’s top-tier phones for a major discount (for reasons beyond its natural depreciation) and you won’t have to worry about financing it with your service payments.

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Samsung Galaxy S8 will reportedly feature its AI assistant in a big way

Artificial intelligence will be a big part of the Samsung Galaxy S8, and a new report points to Samsung's own voice-powered assistant making itself right at home inside the device's native applications. 

Bixby, as the virtual assistant is reportedly called, will be employed in just about every pre-installed app on the flagship smartphone, according to SamMobile. The AI is said to be far more robust than the aged S Voice, and it will be supported across the system. 

Not surprisingly, Samsung will likely replace S Voice with Bixby in the Galaxy S8, SamMobile reports. 

The site provided an example of Bixby's possible powers: If you're in the Gallery app and want to browse photos and videos with certain characteristics, you can ask Bixby to pull up images matching those requirements. 

Bixby will also reportedly feature contextual awareness, handy when it's answering questions or suggesting actions without you needing to say precisely what you're after. 

Viv is in

Bixby - or whatever the assistant ends up being called - will be a step up for Samsung in the AI department, one that helps it compete more closely or even surpass the likes of Apple's Siri, Google Assistant and Microsoft's Cortana. 

We say surpass because a major point in Bixby's favor is that it's powered by Viv, an AI assistant developed by the co-creator of Siri. Viv is designed to work across apps and services, and also allows for more conversational queries, letting users speak more naturally than they might to other assistants.  

Of course, assistants get smarter by the day, and with the Samsung Galaxy S8 reportedly delayed until April 2017, the device and Bixby may only be further behind by then. 

SamMobile also reports the Galaxy S8's native apps will receive a UI revamp to align their designs, and its status bar will supposedly always be showing. 

As always, take these rumors with a grain of salt, but chances are we're in for some significant changes with the Galaxy S8, not excluding an AI that might actually be worthwhile.

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The first LG G6 phone leak shows it’s back on the right path

LG G6 is the first major phone of 2017 that we really want to see, and we may not have to wait until its expected MWC 2017 unveiling to catch a glimpse.

Shiny, new LG G6 renders appeared online today, and while they're unofficial, they depict a phone that's shaping up to be more than a modular experiment.

That's great news for anyone who wants to upgrade beyond the LG G5 and its few modular accessories that went nowhere. This phone wows in other ways.

It's said to be encased in a 'highly reflective metallic material' and yet it may still be capable of wireless charging, according to the latest LG G6 rumors.

Today's renders show a dual lens camera setup and fingerprint sensor on back, and we're expecting a 5.3-inch Quad HD display on front, matching the LG G5.

Waterproof, but what about the battery?

The LG G6 is illustrated to have a non-modular, airtight design, but one that still keeps the 3.5mm headphone jack and USB-C port open.

It could very well be a waterproof – or at least water-resistant – LG flagship phone – finally. But that may come at the expense of the replaceable battery.

LG has triumphantly touted its phone batteries as replaceable, when Samsung decided to get rid of the user-changeable battery starting in the Galaxy S6.

Why the change? We may see significantly better battery life from a more power efficient Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 chipset, likely to be inside the LG G6.

Couple that with Qualcomm 4.0 Quick Charge powers, and this new Android phone could recharge 20% faster than last year's phones.

We'll know for sure at MWC 2017, and maybe hear about new rumors at CES 2017.

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Tenaa certification reveals Samsung Galaxy C5 Pro front camera and battery upgrades

Samsung is apparently looking to outdo itself when it comes to mid-range smartphone confusion choice, prepping a Galaxy C7 Pro that’s awfully similar to the standard C7, skipping the C9 to jump straight to the C9 Pro, and now also working on an eerily familiar Galaxy C5 Pro, aka SM-C5010.

Approved by China’s FCC equivalent for a no doubt fast-approaching local launch, the 5.2-inch C5 Pro is a near-duplicate of the original Galaxy C5, model number SM-C5000, in terms of exterior design. But under the hood, you’ll find a souped-up 3,000mAh battery (compared to the C5’s 2,600mAh cell), leading to a small increase in device thickness.

Still, this purported C5 Pro is relatively lightweight, at 143 grams, and slender (6.95mm), with premium metal all over, a plentiful 4GB RAM in tow, as well as Android 6.0 Marshmallow (bummer!), expandable 64GB internal storage, Full HD AMOLED screen resolution, and a 16MP rear-facing camera.

Much like the C9 Pro, the non-flagship phone will cater to selfie addicts with a very impressive 16-megapixel front shooter too, possibly wrapping up its decent list of upgrades by taking a Snapdragon 626 processor in to replace the SD617. Let’s just hope pricing won’t go through the roof.

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2017 iPhone 7s lineup could include ‘medium-sized’ 5-incher with vertical dual cam

While many Apple-specialized analysts, tipsters and rumormongers from various backgrounds and parts of the world are starting to agree on the number of 2017 iPhone models currently in the pipeline, the target of each main configuration remains a key point of contention.

It’s possible only one top-shelf, “exotic” iPhone 8 is coming as early as next year, with an all-glass construction, dual-curved OLED screen, minimal bezels, wireless charging capabilities, and other cutting-edge features in tow, whereas the 7s and 7s Plus could mimic their predecessors’ general design language and very slightly tweak a few essential specs.

But wild new gossip out of Japan, itself deriving from Taiwanese “supplier” sources, today calls for a three-part iPhone 7s release plan consisting of the same old iterative 4.7 and 5.5-inch versions, as well as a “medium-sized” 5-incher.

No words on a name for this head-scratching middle ground iOS device that’s apparently supposed to share “basic specifications” with the iPhone 7s and 7s Plus. In case it wasn’t confusing enough though, rumor is “iSight Duo” cameras will be installed vertically instead of horizontally this time around. Just on the 5-inch config or on the 4.7 and 5.5-inchers too?

It’s the first of many unanswered questions, with all iPhone 7s/8 features likely to be finalized during Apple’s second fiscal quarter of 2017. Until then, let’s take everything, especially this sort of sketchy speculation, with a nice pinch of salt… or a fistful.

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LG G6 might go on sale earlier than expected

LG may release its next flagship smartphone earlier than usual, according to a new report. 

The LG G6, successor to the LG G5, will go on sale in late February or early March, a month before LG's "G" series phones typically launch, say industry insiders speaking with ETnews

The LG G5, for one, was announced at MWC in February of this year but didn't release until April. The LG G4 also went on sale in the month of April. If this new report proves true, the LG G6 will buck the series' spring-release trend.

LG's reasons for the earlier-than-normal launch are reportedly due to timing and sales: It feels its previous releases have come too late in the year, and it wants to grab a larger chunk of the market by putting its premier handset on sale sooner. 

It could get a little help from rival Samsung in that regard if the Galaxy S8 launch is delayed until April, as recent rumors suggest.

If the LG G6 launches in early 2017, customers are likely in for a device that drops the modular design of the LG G5. Instead, they'll be treated to a premium, waterproof phone that could also feature wireless charging. 

We should learn all about the LG G6 at MWC 2017, and it's there LG will likely spill just when the new phone goes on sale. If you're holding out for the device, it sounds like you won't have much longer to wait. 

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‘Hold your breath’ for water-resistant 2017 Samsung Galaxy A-series releases

Instead of shortening the window between mid-range Galaxy A smartphone releases, as is often the case for high-end models, Samsung appears to once again be taking its time after waiting more than a year to refresh the original A3, A5 and A7.

The second-gen trio saw daylight in December 2015, but it seems 2017 editions of premium-looking, non-flagship Galaxy A3, A5 and A7 handhelds will be “delayed” until, well, 2017. The very early stages of next year, presumably, and we wouldn’t rule out formal announcements happening in a matter of days at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

Bizarrely enough, only Samsung’s Malaysian branch is currently teasing a breathtaking new beginning, leaving out any timing or location clues. All we’re told is to “hold our breath”, as “something Awaits” us, and “it all begins with A.”

Subtlety is obviously not this company division’s strongest suit, and in case you won’t take a hint or two, here’s another: a #A2017liveunplanned hashtag. Also, a few drops of water splashed around. What does it all mean?

Even the world’s worst detective could probably deduce the Samsung Galaxy A3 (2017), A5 (2017) and A7 (2017) are coming soon, with water-protected bodies across the board. Or maybe just one or two of those will withstand liquid interaction. Odds are we’ll find out as early as next week.

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Deal: Charge up to ten devices at the same time with the Kinkoo USB Charging Station, 23% off

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Is your desktop cluttered with mobile chargers? Replace them all with the sleek and powerful Kinkoo 10-Port USB Charging Station, 23% off for Pocketnow readers.

The Kinkoo Charging Station allows you to juice as many as ten USB-powered devices simultaneously. It offers a combined 60W of power across all ten ports to safely charge your Android or iOS smartphones and tablets — as well as other devices — as fast as possible.

Why have a charger for each device when you can just get the Kinkoo Charging Station instead? With this hub, you’ll no longer need to keep track of all your chargers, so you can eliminate a lot of the clutter from your desk. It’s safe to use with all USB-powered devices, looks great at home and at the office, and is easily portable too.

Simplify your life. Replace your device chargers with the Kinkoo 10-Port USB Charging Station, $37.99 at the Pocketnow Deals Store.

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Top 5 Audio Smartphones of 2016: The best speakers and headphone jacks!

Wrapping up 2016, we’re starting off with audio! Which phone had the best speaker performance? Which phone will do the best job powering your headphones? Can there be one overall winner for the audiophiles in our audience?

Just because a phone might have speakers and the ability to use headphones, doesn’t mean all smartphones are created equal. Where 2016 was an amazing year for camera hardware, audio wasn’t as well supported from manufacturers we’d normally turn to for high quality solutions.

No cop outs here, these are the top five audio performers of 2016, ranked by our personal listening experiences, and the benchmarks we run each phone through while producing our reviews. So let’s get to it. Time to take our final listen to all of the phones we reviewed this year and deliver a proper ranking!

Top 5 Audio Smartphones of 2016

Top 5 Smartphone Cameras of 2016
Best phones of 2016 at any price
Pocketnow Real Audio Reviews

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It’s not very ‘smart’, but LG’s Levitating Portable Speaker hides some tricks up its sleeve

Bluetooth speakers capable of floating in mid-air aren’t entirely new, and as cool as they look and (occasionally) sound, they’re far less exciting and trendy than so-called “smart” speakers like Amazon’s Alexa-powered Echo or Tap families, or the recently debuted Google Home.

Some may even deem a quirky product such as LG’s aptly titled new Levitating Portable Speaker gimmicky, although the Korean company does vow to “deliver high-quality audio” in addition to “making a lasting impression” with an “eye-catching design.”

Hardly striking at a first glance, the minimalistic cord-free accessory for your smartphone, tablet, laptop or essentially anything Bluetooth-enabled leverages “powerful electromagnets housed within its Levitation Station” to, well, magically defy gravity.

The truly interesting thing about it however is probably that it automatically descends to its docking station when the 10-hour battery starts to dwindle, charging wirelessly without you needing to lift a finger or pause music playback.

Carrying model number PJ9, the surprisingly intelligent “dumb” speaker can also withstand “adverse weather conditions”, courtesy of IPX7 standard compliance, while Dual Passive Radiator technology reproduces “flush mid-range tones and crisp highs for enhanced sound quality.” Oh, and you can connect it to two devices simultaneously via Bluetooth.

LG will further detail the PJ9 Levitating Portable Speaker at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas next week, filling out pricing and availability blanks when also properly unveiling updated K Series phones, as well as the Stylus 3.

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The OG Moto G (3rd gen) can still be a smart buy at $90 unlocked from B&H

No longer sold through Lenovo’s official “Moto Maker” US e-store, and relatively hard to come by at third-party retailers like Best Buy as well, last year’s budget-friendly Motorola Moto G release is seriously overshadowed by 2016’s G4, G4 Plus and G4 Play.

But while you can get plenty of nice deals on all three new Moto G family members, some of the top ones involve a few strings, catches, Amazon Prime subscriptions or Verizon prepaid account obligations.

That’s where B&H Photo Video comes in during its “special 2-day spectacular” ending December 28 at 11:59 PM EST, selling the unlocked, string-free third-generation Moto G for a lower price than similarly unbound G4 and even G4 Play models.

For a measly $89.95, down from a list price of $179.95… more than a year ago, you can now score a respectable water-resistant 5-inch Android phone by any standards, HD screen resolution, quad-core Snapdragon 410 processing power, 1GB RAM, expandable 8GB storage, 13/5MP cameras, all-day battery, 4G LTE speeds and all.

You’re obviously free to activate the Moto G (3rd gen) on your North American GSM network of choice, and B&H even throws in a complimentary spare blue shell to replace the base black back cover when you’re feeling, well, blue and need some cheering up.

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