A stronger version of Gorilla Glass is coming

Corning, the folks who make the glass used for basically every major smartphone brand, announced a new version of their signature Gorilla Glass line on Thursday. It’s called Gorilla Glass Victus and if Corning is to be believed. It can withstand drops from up to two meters onto “hard, rough surfaces.” The company also claims it is twice as effective at scratch resistance as the last iteration, Gorilla Glass 6, was.

The only other bit of news here is that Samsung will be the first manufacturer to use Victus in the “near future,” according to Corning’s press release. We don’t know specifically which product will use it or when, but Samsung is going to announce a gang of stuff in a couple of weeks, so that might be something to watch.

It’s also worth noting that Apple uses custom-built glass from Corning for the iPhone. We don’t officially know anything about the next iPhone yet, but it will be interesting to see if it adopts something like Victus or if Apple waits a year.

Looks fun, right? Anyway, keep your eyes peeled for whatever Samsung announces with Victus in the near future. It might just save your phone the next time you drop it while taking a selfie with an average-height NBA player.

OnePlus Buds Review: “Cheap AirPods”

The OnePlus Buds require a OnePlus phone if you want to get the most from them. So these really won’t appeal to owners of other Android devices. You won’t get features like wireless charging or noise cancellation at a price this low. The OnePlus Buds have strong battery life, decent sound, and a stable wireless connection. They’re available in white and gray in the US, with the divisive blue / green combo reserved for international markets.

The charging case looks like a squished, squatter version of the Pixel Buds case. OnePlus claims it worked for around 90 days to perfect the case’s matte texture. I like the end result, and matte always wins over glossy — especially in the dog days of summer. Take note, Samsung. (The earbuds themselves are glossy, however.) The Buds can reach up to seven hours of continuous battery life, and the case has enough juice to get you to around 30 hours of total listening time.

They lack wireless charging, but the OnePlus Buds do pack some frills despite the low price: they’re rated IPX4 water resistant, so they can withstand sweat and some splashes of water. They’ll automatically pause music when one earbud is removed, and they also support Android’s Fast Pair feature, which ties them to your Google account, shows battery levels for the buds and case, and lets you find a misplaced earbud by playing a sound. Unfortunately, you can’t use either of the earbuds standalone for audio or making calls, and they can only pair to one device at a time.

The best smart lock device you should get for your home

A smart lock is a solution to virtually any of these problems. Depending on the model, you can unlock or lock with a toggle in the smartphone app. Enable auto-unlock to unlock the door when your phone gets within a certain number of feet, use a voice command, enter a passcode, scan your fingerprint. Guests can also be sent a temporary code or timed temporary access.

What can it do besides locking and unlocking?

Think of it as two-factor authentication for your door: Just as Gmail sends you a notification when it sees a login attempt from an unfamiliar device. A smart lock sends notifications if someone tries to unlock the door or if someone is trying to guess the code or force entry.

Accessibility

Switching from the traditional lock and key to a smart lock can be freeing for folks aging in place. Smart locks are lifesavers if a key is lost. Cross one thing off the “to do” list by locking doors every night at a certain time. Voice integration allows the lock to be controlled with a simple command rather than getting out of bed after one is all comfy. Caregivers or relatives having their own code is much more practical than handing out multiple spare keys.

Which should I choose?

  • Retrofit versus deadbolt replacement: Retrofit locks add connectivity to your current deadbolt. Let you keep the keys you were already using, and operate through your phone, with auto-unlock, or with voice commands. Full deadbolt replacements are a bit more heavy-duty and open possibilities for keypads and fingerprint sensors. They require some more handiwork and require you to use new keys.
  • Keyless locks: Though the whole point is to not carry keys on your person all the time. It’s still nice to have backup if the WiFi, power, or lock’s batteries crap out. Some smart locks can be jumpstarted with a nine-volt battery instead of a key. Which might be nice if you’re worried about the lock being picked.
  • Smart home compatibility: Are you an Echo, Google, HomeKit, or SmartThings household? Some smart locks are particularly well integrated with certain smart home systems, and it’s always nice to have everything in the same loop.
  • WiFi adapter versus built-in WiFi: A WiFi connection is needed to be able to access your smart lock from your phone when you’re not home. Most purchases will come with a separate hub to connect the lock to your home’s network. Others have WiFi already built in. Without WiFi, you’ll only be able to use the app when you’re in Bluetooth range.

LG Tone Free earbuds review: The new AirPod’s rival

You’re probably more acutely aware of the germs around you now than ever before — and there’s good reason for that. It’s a kind of hygienic vigilance that LG’s new Tone Free wireless earbuds are tailor-made for, thanks to one timely, new feature.

You see, these AirPods alternatives have a UV light in the charging case that LG claims will kill bacteria and germs while the buds charge. (When I said timely, I meant timely.) That’s a neat hook, to be sure, but LG’s new earbuds also have to actually work as earbuds to make the $149.99 investment worthwhile.

So are LG Tone Free earbuds the future of wireless earbuds, a gimmicky mess, or something in between? Let’s find out together.

First, that germ-killing UV feature…

The most eye-catching thing about the new LG Tone Free earbuds is the claim that its charging case can kill up to 99.9 percent of bacteria on the speaker mesh using UV lights.

First, you need to know that this feature only activates when you put the earbuds inside the case while the case is plugged in and charging. This feature doesn’t work on the go, presumably, to maintain the advertised 12 extra hours of battery inside the charging case.

Samsung teases the new Galaxy Fold 2

With Galaxy Unpacked 2020 only a short while away. Samsung continues to tease its upcoming products ahead of the event on social media.

On Sunday, the company tweeted “One fold, infinite possibilities. Unpacked on August 5, 2020” with a video of what clearly mimics a foldable phone.

This was in response to his original tweet claiming the Fold 2 wasn’t going to be unveiled at 2020’s Unpacked.

But Samsung seems to be hinting otherwise. The second-generation version would come a little over a year after the original Galaxy Fold was released.

After Korean publication ETNews confirmed Galaxy Fold 2 specs in June, Young took to Twitter to post screenshots of the supposed specs.

According to his tweets, the Fold 2 could have a larger display on the inside coming at 7.5 inches. The front display on the Fold 2 might also be bigger. At 6.23 inches compared to the much smaller 4.3-inch cover on its predecessor.

The Fold 2 could come with a 120Hz refresh rate which would make sense considering Samsung’s S20 comes with that feature as well.

According to another tweet from Young, the Fold 2 might feature Samsung’s Ultra Thin Glass (UTG) as featured on the Galaxy Z Flip. It apparently should be more durable than the glass on the original Fold.

While I didn’t have any issues with the display while using the Z Flip, I didn’t get to spend more than 24 hours with it. But it’s safe to say that phone didn’t experience the same disastrous launch as the Fold did.

Disney has reportedly joined the Facebook ad boycott

The Walt Disney Company has reportedly joined the long list of companies that are pushing Facebook to get its platform under control. A Sunday report in the Wall Street Journal reveals that Disney has “dramatically slashed” its ad spending on Facebook Inc. (including Instagram, which Facebook owns).

This is coming from “people familiar with the matter” rather than a named source, so bear that in mind.

As the same WSJ report notes, citing data from the research firm Pathmetrics. Disney has been Facebook’s top advertiser in the U.S. during the first half of 2020. So while plenty of other major companies have already made similar moves. Including Starbucks, Verizon, and Microsoft – this still represents a major blow to the social network.

The company moved to shut down a network of hatemongers with ties to the Proud Boys hate group and Donald Trump ally Roger Stone. In a corresponding move, Stone’s Instagram account was also shut down. Facebook is also looking at a blackout on political ads in the days before November’s U.S. election.

Most recently, Facebook CEO and founder Mark Zuckerberg openly criticized the Trump administration’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic during a Facebook Live Q&A with Anthony Fauci.

Apple iOS 13.6 update is here with Car Key

Apple has released iOS 13.6 and watchOS 6.2.8 to the public. Besides the typical stability and performance improvements. These releases bring a hotly anticipated feature that turns your iPhone or Watch into a digital key for your car.

The feature allows users to unlock their car and start it by pressing either the iPhone or Apple Watch near a specific location on the car, such as the door handle.

The feature also allows users to give temporary car keys to friends and family using iMessage. Driver-specific profiles are also available, meaning each shared key can be configured differently. Finally, the feature should work up to five hours after your iPhone runs out of battery. Check out a detailed description of this new feature over at Apple’s website.

The Car Key feature is currently only available to owners of new BMWs (manufactured after July 2020), and Apple didn’t say when other carmakers will join the party. On Apple’s side, only the Apple Watch Series 5 and iPhone 11/XR/XS/SE will work.

Apple has hired professional voice actors to produce roughly 20 audio stories per week, including audio versions of pieces by Esquire, Essence, Fast Company, GQ, New York Magazine, Sports Illustrated, TIME, Vanity Fair, Vogue, and Wired on the magazine side, as well as by newspapers such as the Los Angeles Times and The Wall Street Journal.

Samsung’s Galaxy Beans the new AirPods Pro competitor

Samsung’s virtual Galaxy Unpacked 2020 event is less than a month away. But we’ve already seen the leaks we need to predict its most likely announcements — including the new Galaxy Beans earbuds.

Yes, that’s right, Galaxy Beans. It’s been quite the week for beans.

Rumors of the earbuds first started circulating a few months ago, when the German site WinFutur posted leaked details and images. Then on Friday, a developer known as WalkingCat took to Twitter to post what looks like Samsung’s promotional video for the earbuds — one the company was most likely saving for its big event.

The new earbuds will come in either black, white, or a rose gold-esque “Mystic Bronze” to match the rumored Galaxy Note 20 Ultra and Z Flip 5G. They also come with what appears to be a charging cradle.

The video ends with the words “Keep the noise out. Let the sound in.” That likely means the beans will feature Active Noise Cancellation (ANC). But the absence of silicone eartips leaves us wondering how effective these buds could possibly be at keeping noise out.

As reported by SamMobile, each earbud will have three microphones and two speakers. The lower sections of the buds will sit inside the ear canal, allegedly removing the need for those silicone tips. We’ll see.

Neither Samsung’s Galaxy Buds or Galaxy Buds+ feature ANC, but they do have an “ambient mode” setting which makes it easier to hear sound around you. Both models come with silicone eartips and wingtips, which help fill the space between your ear canal and buds, tuning out some of the noise around you.

Beyond Beans

Unfortunately, Galaxy Beans may not be the official name.

According to a tweet from well-known leaker Max Weinbach, which also corroborates WinFuture’s report, “Galaxy Beans” is the codename Samsung uses internally when referring to the earbuds — obviously because they’re shaped like kidney-beans. Some reports suggest they’ll be called the Galaxy Buds Live.

What to expect from Samsung’s Galaxy Note 20 event

It’s official: Samsung’s next big product launch is happening on August 5th at 10AM ET. It’ll be a virtual event as a result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The main product reveal is almost certainly going to be the next phone in Samsung’s Galaxy Note series. Its top-of-the-range smartphone lineup that pairs some of the most powerful phone hardware around with a big, beautiful screen and its signature S Pen stylus. Alongside it, however, there are rumors that we might see anything from new earbuds to wearables and even foldables.

Specifically, the current rumors floating around suggest that Samsung could unveil a 5G version of its recent Galaxy Z Flip handset. There have also been a bunch of leaks pointing toward the imminent reveal of a Galaxy Watch 3 smartwatch. Also a new pair of oddly shaped true wireless earbuds called the Galaxy Buds Live.

Based on what made an appearance at Samsung’s Note 10 launch event last year. There’s a good chance that all of these might make an appearance in August. Last year, in addition to the Galaxy Note 10, the company announced a new Under Armour edition of the Galaxy Watch Active 2.

Read on for a rundown of everything we’re expecting to see at Samsung’s next Unpacked event.

SAMSUNG’S GALAXY NOTE 20 SERIES

Samsung’s stylus-equipped Note phones tend to be the company’s big focus at its August Unpacked event each year. This year, we’re expecting Samsung to have at least two Note phones to show off, including a standard Note 20 (which will reportedly have a flat 6.42-inch 2345 x 1084 display, according to SamMobile) as well as a bigger Note 20 Ultra with a curved screen. Some reports have also referred to a Note 20 Plus with a 6.87-inch 2345 x 1084 display, but there’s also been speculation that this and the Ultra could be the same device.

Xiaomi Poco F2 Pro review

The Poco F2 Pro is the successor to the Pocophone F1 from late 2018, a popular budget phone put out by Xiaomi’s sub-brand Pocophone which, for a long time, looked like it wasn’t going to get a follow-up. Well, the newer phone is here now and it’s not got that much in common with its predecessor.

One of the most interesting parts of the Poco F2 Pro is its pop-up camera – quite a few phones packed this feature in 2019. In 2020 we’ve barely seen any. Pop-up selfie cameras can be quite a divisive feature.

In general the Poco F2 Pro seems to be a mid-range phone with some specs that top-end phones have, like its Snapdragon 865 processor and 64MP main camera – in this way it feels like the kind of phone OnePlus would have put out before it embraced premium-ness, and it’s likely going to compete with the rumored OnePlus Z when that launches.

We haven’t used Xiaomi’s Poco F2 Pro enough to write a full review yet, but until we do, here are our initial impressions of the phone after a day of using it.

Design and display

The Xiaomi Poco F2 Pro feels like a pretty bulky phone – it’s got a big display at 6.67 inches. Which may be part of the reason why, but it also seems pretty thick and heavy too.

The screen is AMOLED with a 1080 x 2400 resolution and HDR10+, and it has a 20:9 aspect ratio, so it’s rather long and thin. Thanks to the pop-up mechanism hiding the front-facing camera inside the phone. The screen takes up the entirety of the front of the handset, unbroken by notch or cut-out.

Camera and battery life

The Xiaomi Poco F2 Pro has four rear cameras – a 64MP main, 13MP ultra-wide, 5MP macro, and 2MP depth-sensing snapper. We haven’t tested the phone out enough to provide conclusive verdicts on its camera capabilities. But from our brief time using it, it feels pretty good.

Specs and performance

The Poco F2 Pro has a Snapdragon 865 chipset. Making it one of the most affordable handsets with it (though beaten by a few gaming-focused phones like the Black Shark 3 and Nubia Red Magic 5G).