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Counterclockwise: two is better than one

In recent years, the LG V10 and V20 touted a second screen as a signature feature (though the new V30 put an end to that). The Meizu Pro 7 switched it up a bit with a second AMOLED screen on its back, but we’ve covered second screens before. But a modern smartphone doubles up on more than just the screen.
Two cameras are a staple of new flagships, for example. That was a thing way back in 2011 with the HTC EVO 3D and the LG Optimus 3D. The two cams were used for stereoscopic photos and videos back then. Today the second cam has either a wide or a tele lens, perhaps the sensor it uses skips the Bayer filter for improved low-light performance.
Two cameras are better than one Two cameras are better than one
Two cameras are better than one
How about a phone with two 3.5mm headphone jacks – like the Marshall London. Two! The iPhone X and Pixel 2 don’t have even one! Besides allowing a friend to listen to your music without a headphone splitter, the jacks could be used for recording musical instruments – a music studio on the go.
Two headphone jacks are better than none Two headphone jacks are better than none
Two headphone jacks are better than none
The Innos D6000 had two batteries – 2,480mAh + 3,520mAh – which allowed you to hot swap batteries. Alternatively, you can take out the second battery and leave it to charge while you continue to use the phone untethered.
Double the batteries, double the power Double the batteries, double the power
Double the batteries, double the power
Stereo speakers are fairly common these days, but it’s not enough to have two of the same type of speaker. No, good audio demands two types of speakers – a tweeter and a woofer. While not built in, HTC’s BoomBass was a protable subwoofer that added much needed bass to the small speakers of a Desire 601 or 300.
All about the bass All about the bass All about the bass
All about the bass
Speaking of two types of things, what happened to xenon flashes? We know what happened – they are too thick for the modern sub-8mm phone. Still, a xenon flash was invaluable in nighttime photography. The last smartphone we find to have xenon is 2014’s Samsung Galaxy K zoom, which was more camera than phone.
A ring flash like on the Acer Liquid S2 was an interesting concept too. It had four LEDs, but they were separated (placed around the camera), which provided a more even illumination with fewer shadows cast.
There are two kinds of flash in the world There are two kinds of flash in the world
There are two kinds of flash in the world
What else could be doubled for a better smartphone? Double USB ports perhaps. Microsoft’s Continuum and Samsung’s DeX won’t need a dock if the first USB-C port provided DisplayPort while the second took in a keyboard/mouse dongle. Can you think of anything else?
In recent years, the LG V10 and V20 touted a second screen as a signature feature (though the new V30 put an end to that). The Meizu Pro 7 switched it up a bit with a second AMOLED screen on its back, but we’ve covered second screens before. But a modern smartphone doubles up on more than just the screen.
Two cameras are a staple of new flagships, for example. That was a thing way back in 2011 with the HTC EVO 3D and the LG Optimus 3D. The two cams were used for stereoscopic photos and videos back then. Today the second cam has either a wide or a tele lens, perhaps the sensor it uses skips the Bayer filter for improved low-light performance.
Two cameras are better than one Two cameras are better than one
Two cameras are better than one
How about a phone with two 3.5mm headphone jacks – like the Marshall London. Two! The iPhone X and Pixel 2 don’t have even one! Besides allowing a friend to listen to your music without a headphone splitter, the jacks could be used for recording musical instruments – a music studio on the go.
Two headphone jacks are better than none Two headphone jacks are better than none
Two headphone jacks are better than none
The Innos D6000 had two batteries – 2,480mAh + 3,520mAh – which allowed you to hot swap batteries. Alternatively, you can take out the second battery and leave it to charge while you continue to use the phone untethered.
Double the batteries, double the power Double the batteries, double the power
Double the batteries, double the power
Stereo speakers are fairly common these days, but it’s not enough to have two of the same type of speaker. No, good audio demands two types of speakers – a tweeter and a woofer. While not built in, HTC’s BoomBass was a protable subwoofer that added much needed bass to the small speakers of a Desire 601 or 300.
All about the bass All about the bass All about the bass
All about the bass
Speaking of two types of things, what happened to xenon flashes? We know what happened – they are too thick for the modern sub-8mm phone. Still, a xenon flash was invaluable in nighttime photography. The last smartphone we find to have xenon is 2014’s Samsung Galaxy K zoom, which was more camera than phone.
A ring flash like on the Acer Liquid S2 was an interesting concept too. It had four LEDs, but they were separated (placed around the camera), which provided a more even illumination with fewer shadows cast.
There are two kinds of flash in the world There are two kinds of flash in the world
There are two kinds of flash in the world
What else could be doubled for a better smartphone? Double USB ports perhaps. Microsoft’s Continuum and Samsung’s DeX won’t need a dock if the first USB-C port provided DisplayPort while the second took in a keyboard/mouse dongle. Can you think of anything else?

BlackBerry Motion is now official without physical keyboard

The BlackBerry Motion is now official with a 5.5-inch 1080p LCD and no physical keyboard whatsoever - neither slide-out nor permanently fixed one.
The new BlackBerry phone is built around a Snapdragon 625 chipset with 4GB of RAM, 32GB of built-in storage and a 4,000mAh battery. With a power-efficient chipset and a huge battery like that battery life should be quite impressive.
Imaging is covered by a single 12MP f/2.0 camera on the back and an 8MP selfie camera on the front. There's IP67-certified protection against dust and water.
BlackBerry Motion BlackBerry Motion
BlackBerry Motion
The BlackBerry Motion has the same Android 7.1 as the BlackBerry Keyone.
Despite the midrange chipset and storage the Motion comes with the solid build we've come to expect from BlackBerry. It will retail for around $460 starting with the Middle East - UAE and Saudi Arabia. It won't come to North America at first, but there's no other word on future market expansion.
The BlackBerry Motion is now official with a 5.5-inch 1080p LCD and no physical keyboard whatsoever - neither slide-out nor permanently fixed one.
The new BlackBerry phone is built around a Snapdragon 625 chipset with 4GB of RAM, 32GB of built-in storage and a 4,000mAh battery. With a power-efficient chipset and a huge battery like that battery life should be quite impressive.
Imaging is covered by a single 12MP f/2.0 camera on the back and an 8MP selfie camera on the front. There's IP67-certified protection against dust and water.
BlackBerry Motion BlackBerry Motion
BlackBerry Motion
The BlackBerry Motion has the same Android 7.1 as the BlackBerry Keyone.
Despite the midrange chipset and storage the Motion comes with the solid build we've come to expect from BlackBerry. It will retail for around $460 starting with the Middle East - UAE and Saudi Arabia. It won't come to North America at first, but there's no other word on future market expansion.

Black and Gold vivo X20 launched in China

vivo has just launched a new Black and Gold edition of its X20 flagship in China. The phone costs 300 CNY (around €40) more than the regular version at 3398 CNY (around €437) but comes with double the standard storage at 128GB.
vivo X20 Black and Gold vivo X20 Black and Gold vivo X20 Black and Gold
vivo X20 Black and Gold
Other than that the Black and Gold vivo X20 has the same specs as the other three color variants. There's a 6.01-inch 18:9 Super AMOLED screen of 1080x2160px resolution, a Snapdragon 660 with 4GB of RAM, 12MP + 5MP cameras on the back, 12MP front-facing camera and a 3,250mAh battery.
vivo has just launched a new Black and Gold edition of its X20 flagship in China. The phone costs 300 CNY (around €40) more than the regular version at 3398 CNY (around €437) but comes with double the standard storage at 128GB.
vivo X20 Black and Gold vivo X20 Black and Gold vivo X20 Black and Gold
vivo X20 Black and Gold
Other than that the Black and Gold vivo X20 has the same specs as the other three color variants. There's a 6.01-inch 18:9 Super AMOLED screen of 1080x2160px resolution, a Snapdragon 660 with 4GB of RAM, 12MP + 5MP cameras on the back, 12MP front-facing camera and a 3,250mAh battery.

BlackBerry's Motion to cost Europeans €499

BlackBerry unveiled the Motion mere hours ago, pointed to the Middle East as its initial market and gave no word on when others join in.
But we may have a hint at what the new phone could cost once it comes to Europe, courtesy of Dutch retailer Belsimpel.
Expect a price tag of €499 for the Snapdragon 625-powered droid, which is €100 lower than what the Keyone costed at its European debut. Granted, the chipset hasn't improved since so the Motion is sitting lower in the pecking order.
Of course, this is just a preliminary price and there is no available stock to back it up, so you could very well expect a better deal if and when the phone arrives in Europe.
Hat tip to Cassius!
BlackBerry unveiled the Motion mere hours ago, pointed to the Middle East as its initial market and gave no word on when others join in.
But we may have a hint at what the new phone could cost once it comes to Europe, courtesy of Dutch retailer Belsimpel.
Expect a price tag of €499 for the Snapdragon 625-powered droid, which is €100 lower than what the Keyone costed at its European debut. Granted, the chipset hasn't improved since so the Motion is sitting lower in the pecking order.
Of course, this is just a preliminary price and there is no available stock to back it up, so you could very well expect a better deal if and when the phone arrives in Europe.
Hat tip to Cassius!

New Huawei Mate 10 Pro renders confirm design

Huawei's new Mate 10 family will be announced in a week, on October 16, and we'll be there to bring you the complete coverage of the devices. But until then we can enjoy the latest leak, showing one of the three or four family members, the Huawei Mate 10 Pro.
We've seen the Mate 10 Pro on another occasion, courtesy of Evan Blass, and now get two new renders by way of China Weibo's @ichangezone.
The renders offer more of the same - a front housing an 18:9 aspect screen and a dual-toned back design, two cameras with Leica branding and a back-mounted fingerprint scanner.
Huawei Mate 10 Pro Huawei Mate 10 Pro
Huawei Mate 10 Pro
The renders don't really show the reflective back, we've seen from other leaks but that may belong to one of the other rumored Mate 10 devices - the Lite, regular or Porsche Design.
Huawei's new Mate 10 family will be announced in a week, on October 16, and we'll be there to bring you the complete coverage of the devices. But until then we can enjoy the latest leak, showing one of the three or four family members, the Huawei Mate 10 Pro.
We've seen the Mate 10 Pro on another occasion, courtesy of Evan Blass, and now get two new renders by way of China Weibo's @ichangezone.
The renders offer more of the same - a front housing an 18:9 aspect screen and a dual-toned back design, two cameras with Leica branding and a back-mounted fingerprint scanner.
Huawei Mate 10 Pro Huawei Mate 10 Pro
Huawei Mate 10 Pro
The renders don't really show the reflective back, we've seen from other leaks but that may belong to one of the other rumored Mate 10 devices - the Lite, regular or Porsche Design.

Unlocked Dual SIM Samsung Galaxy S8+ for $629.99

An ebay deal is letting you have the Galaxy S8+ G955FD Dual SIM version for a cent under $630 in the US. This one comes packing Samsung’s own Exynos 8895 chipset as opposed to the Snapdragon 835 that's normally available in the country.
Keep in mind that the Dual SIM device features a hybrid slot, so you'd have to live without microSD memory expansion option if you take advantage of that and rely on the 64GB of built-in storage only.
The Galaxy S8+ for $629.99 The seller ships to a number of countries around the world, but getting the device outside the US will incur import fees, which will probably negate all of the savings.
At time of writing Maple Gold, Coral Blue, Midnight Black and Orchid Gray were still available, so you’re out of luck if you wanted Arctic Silver or Rose Pink.
An ebay deal is letting you have the Galaxy S8+ G955FD Dual SIM version for a cent under $630 in the US. This one comes packing Samsung’s own Exynos 8895 chipset as opposed to the Snapdragon 835 that's normally available in the country.
Keep in mind that the Dual SIM device features a hybrid slot, so you'd have to live without microSD memory expansion option if you take advantage of that and rely on the 64GB of built-in storage only.
The Galaxy S8+ for $629.99 The seller ships to a number of countries around the world, but getting the device outside the US will incur import fees, which will probably negate all of the savings.
At time of writing Maple Gold, Coral Blue, Midnight Black and Orchid Gray were still available, so you’re out of luck if you wanted Arctic Silver or Rose Pink.

Sony Xperia Z5 family gets a firmware update

Sony users of the Xperia Z5, Xperia Z3+ and Xperia Z4 Tablet were having troubles with updating their devices until the middle of the summer, but now the Japanese manufacturer moved on and issued a new software update, bringing some security patches.
Sony Xperia Z5 family gets a firmware update Sony Xperia Z5 family gets a firmware update
The latest system update with a build number 32.4.A.1.54
According to sources, the Xperia Z5 family which includes the Xperia Z5 Compact and the Xperia Z5 Premium moved from build number 32.4.A.0.160 to 32.4.A.1.54.
The size of the update is 400 MB and at first glance doesn't bring any dramatic feature or UI changes. Some suggest the battery and heating issues have been cleared out, but we are yet to get a confirmation.
Have you already received the update? Let us know if you notice any changes.
Sony users of the Xperia Z5, Xperia Z3+ and Xperia Z4 Tablet were having troubles with updating their devices until the middle of the summer, but now the Japanese manufacturer moved on and issued a new software update, bringing some security patches.
Sony Xperia Z5 family gets a firmware update Sony Xperia Z5 family gets a firmware update
The latest system update with a build number 32.4.A.1.54
According to sources, the Xperia Z5 family which includes the Xperia Z5 Compact and the Xperia Z5 Premium moved from build number 32.4.A.0.160 to 32.4.A.1.54.
The size of the update is 400 MB and at first glance doesn't bring any dramatic feature or UI changes. Some suggest the battery and heating issues have been cleared out, but we are yet to get a confirmation.
Have you already received the update? Let us know if you notice any changes.

Google Assistant will sound more natural thanks to WaveNet

Google Assistant will start to sound a lot more natural thanks to WaveNet - a new text-to-speech (or speech synthesis) system created by Google's DeepMind branch.
WaveNet differs from the traditional Concatenative TTS, which uses a large base of pre-recorded speech by a single voice actor, and Parametric TTS, which uses a computer generated voice, in that it can create individual waveforms using 16,000 samples per second.
WaveNet uses a large dataset of speech samples and has been trained for over 12 months to recognize which tones follow each other and what waveforms are realistic.
There's a lot of technical mumbo jumbo behind the scenes you can read about in the Source link below. But how about a practical example of the effect of WaveNet on Google Assistant?
Before WaveNet
And after WaveNet
WaveNet will be used with US English and Japanese for the time being but Google will likely be making other languages more natural sounding in time.
It took DeepMind's team 12 months to create WaveNet and optimize to work fast enough for broad use, just imagine what it can do with another 12 months.
Google Assistant will start to sound a lot more natural thanks to WaveNet - a new text-to-speech (or speech synthesis) system created by Google's DeepMind branch.
WaveNet differs from the traditional Concatenative TTS, which uses a large base of pre-recorded speech by a single voice actor, and Parametric TTS, which uses a computer generated voice, in that it can create individual waveforms using 16,000 samples per second.
WaveNet uses a large dataset of speech samples and has been trained for over 12 months to recognize which tones follow each other and what waveforms are realistic.
There's a lot of technical mumbo jumbo behind the scenes you can read about in the Source link below. But how about a practical example of the effect of WaveNet on Google Assistant?
Before WaveNet
And after WaveNet
WaveNet will be used with US English and Japanese for the time being but Google will likely be making other languages more natural sounding in time.
It took DeepMind's team 12 months to create WaveNet and optimize to work fast enough for broad use, just imagine what it can do with another 12 months.

Now you can root the Galaxy Note8 without tripping KNOX (Snapdragon only)

Samsung disables a good deal of functionality if you trip KNOX – even S Health stops working! This keeps many from rooting or alternatively keeps rooted users from using the features that depend on KNOX. If only there was a better way…
And there is, if you’re using a Galaxy Note8 with a Snapdragon 835 chipset. This is not for the feint of heart, however, as you’ll need to do some flashing. Note that you need a CSC file; those for US phones are provided in the forum thread but others may need to download the CSC from their device.
Hit the Source link to read the instructions over at XDA-Developers. Be warned though, this could cause all sorts of issues and it does.
Now you can root the Galaxy Note8 without tripping KNOX (Snapdragon only) Again, this doesn’t work for the Exynos model. The battery will only charge to 80%, which is probably going to be a deal breaker for many. Also note that SafetyNet will stop working as will Magisk. Some AT&T users experienced some voice call issues, but there’s a solution for that.
PS. If you read all that and thought “Cool, but I wish it worked on the Galaxy S8” then don’t despair – this root does the same thing (again, works only on Snapdragon phones).
Samsung disables a good deal of functionality if you trip KNOX – even S Health stops working! This keeps many from rooting or alternatively keeps rooted users from using the features that depend on KNOX. If only there was a better way…
And there is, if you’re using a Galaxy Note8 with a Snapdragon 835 chipset. This is not for the feint of heart, however, as you’ll need to do some flashing. Note that you need a CSC file; those for US phones are provided in the forum thread but others may need to download the CSC from their device.
Hit the Source link to read the instructions over at XDA-Developers. Be warned though, this could cause all sorts of issues and it does.
Now you can root the Galaxy Note8 without tripping KNOX (Snapdragon only) Again, this doesn’t work for the Exynos model. The battery will only charge to 80%, which is probably going to be a deal breaker for many. Also note that SafetyNet will stop working as will Magisk. Some AT&T users experienced some voice call issues, but there’s a solution for that.
PS. If you read all that and thought “Cool, but I wish it worked on the Galaxy S8” then don’t despair – this root does the same thing (again, works only on Snapdragon phones).

ZTE Axon M stops by the FCC with its foldable dual screens

The foldable, dual-screened ZTE Axon M is now one step closer to store shelves, since it's been certified by the US FCC. The handset, codenamed Axon Multy, is expected to be unveiled on October 17 at an event in Brooklyn. It will be exclusive to AT&T, at least at first, and has been rumored to retail for $650.
The phone's main claim to fame will clearly be its foldable design, featuring two touchscreens. When it's folded, the Axon M will have a screen both on its front and its back - definitely a novel look. These are said to come with 1080p resolution each. When unfolded, you'll have a 6.8-inch 2,160x1,920 viewing surface.
The FCC listing confirms the Axon M name and tells us that its model number will be Z999. It also reveals that the phone will ship running Android 7.1.2 Nougat, and not the newer Oreo unfortunately. Spec-wise you should expect to get the Snapdragon 820, 4GB of RAM, 32GB of built-in storage, a single 20 MP camera, and a 3,120 mAh battery.
The foldable, dual-screened ZTE Axon M is now one step closer to store shelves, since it's been certified by the US FCC. The handset, codenamed Axon Multy, is expected to be unveiled on October 17 at an event in Brooklyn. It will be exclusive to AT&T, at least at first, and has been rumored to retail for $650.
The phone's main claim to fame will clearly be its foldable design, featuring two touchscreens. When it's folded, the Axon M will have a screen both on its front and its back - definitely a novel look. These are said to come with 1080p resolution each. When unfolded, you'll have a 6.8-inch 2,160x1,920 viewing surface.
The FCC listing confirms the Axon M name and tells us that its model number will be Z999. It also reveals that the phone will ship running Android 7.1.2 Nougat, and not the newer Oreo unfortunately. Spec-wise you should expect to get the Snapdragon 820, 4GB of RAM, 32GB of built-in storage, a single 20 MP camera, and a 3,120 mAh battery.