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Samsung’s new Galaxy Note 7 and Gear VR are official: Here’s what you need to know




Samsung’s launched the newest version of its Note range of devices, and it doesn’t stray too far from last year’s model. However, there are a few key spec differences and changes to note. It’ll be available to pre-order in Europe from August 16, and will go on sale September 2.

Customers who pre-order (pricing not disclosed at time of writing) will also get a free new Gear VR headset, also announced today.


  • It’s water resistant – both the handset and the SPen, meaning you can use the pen while both are wet
  • Biometric optical security – scan your iris to access your phone or make payments
  • It’ll arrive running Marshmallow, but will most likely be upgraded to Nougat in the future.
  • Octa-Core processor, achieved by a pairing of 2.3Ghz and 1.6Ghz Quad-Core processors
  • 5.7-inch Quad HD display (2,560 x 1,440 pixels)
  • 12-megapixel OIS ‘Dual Pixel’ rear camera setup
  • 5-megapixel front-facing camera with f1.7 aperture for wider shots
  • 3,500 mAh battery
  • It’ll be available in Blue Coral, Silver Titanium and Onyx Black
  • New Gear VR promises to be more comfortable, comes in black instead of white to decrease distraction and has a new port for connecting to other devices.

Read next 7 of the best Galaxy Note 7 features.

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Blu’s first UK handset is a tempting Black Friday smartphone deal



Blu, a US brand established in 2009, is making its first foray into the UK today – and potentially then the rest of Europe – with the Vivo 6.

On paper, it stacks up like many other mid-to-high end smartphones – Android Marshmallow, a 5.5-inch Full HD display, 1.8GHz Octa-Core processor, and 13-megapixel sensor – but where the Blu Vivo 6 makes more of an impression is with its overall value.

The retail price is £239.99, which includes 4GB RAM, 64GB of storage, microSD support and a super-reliable fingerprint sensor – and for one day only, it’s available from Amazon for £184.99.

The Vivo 6 sits somewhere between brands like OnePlus and Wileyfox, offering a solid spec list, attractive (if not unique) design and an asking price that won’t break the bank. Like those brands, Blu operates a direct to retailers and consumer model, which means you won’t see it on offer in your local phone shop.

We’ve got one in for testing, so will have a review up in due course.

Buy on Amazon UK

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Kodak’s new Ektra smartphone doesn’t blow the competition away on paper, but that’s OK



Kodak launched its first smartphone of 2016 today, and unsurprisingly it’s pitched directly at photographers. Sort of.

As much as the leatherette handset combined with a huge, protruding shutter cover leaves little doubt who the phone is aimed at, the camera tech itself is doesn’t blow established smartphone rivals out of the water. For £450 (it’s not available to pre-order yet, but you can register interest) you get a 21MP fast focus camera sensor with F2.0, phase-detection auto-focus (PDAF), optical image stabilisation (OIS) and dual LED flash. On the front, there’s a 13MP F2.2 PDAF selfie camera. Those certainly aren’t specs to sniff at, but they don’t blow the competition out of the water either.

Other hardware highlights include a 2.3GHz Decacore processor, 5-inch full HD display, 3GB RAM and 32GB of onboard storage. There’s also microSD expansion, as you’d expect on a phone made by a camera brand.

While the hardware is no slouch, it’s going to be the combination of novelty, price-point, camera specs and other value added through photographic tweaks – like an advanced manual mode, scene selection and a Super 8 Video Recorder.

With a sea of me-too smartphones, all performing comparably, Kodak’s Ektra might not win on paper, but it probably has enough appeal to attract buyers

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7 of the Samsung Note 7’s best new features



The Samsung Note 7 is official, and there are hardware specs to consider, but most of the coolest new features are under-the-hood.

It’s waterproof, and the SPen is better

The Note 7 is now IP68 rated, and so is the SPen, meaning you can go ahead and use it while you’re swimming if you like. More likely, you can now use it as you trudge your way down the street in the rain to your next appointment.

SPen improvements aren’t limited water resistance – it’s also thinner and lighter than before, and with a more sensitive tip.

There’s a neat GIF tool

With that SPen, there’s a nifty new feature that lets you easily create a GIF from any video you’re watching- it’s called ‘Smart Select’.

Other new ‘Air Commands’ include the ability to magnify or translate text simply by hovering the SPen over the screen.

The Quad HD screen is beautiful – and you can pin a memo to it

This needs little explanation. It’s 5.7-inches of bright, crisp loveliness. We’ve no idea how that large display impacts battery yet though.

You can create a secure space

A feature called ‘Secure Folder’ lets you place any apps, documents, images or anything else away safely in a protected folder that can’t be accessed without unlocking.

You can unlock it hands-free

The iris-scanning technology means you don’t need to use a PIN code or fingerprint to log in. All you do is stare straight ahead at your phone.

It’s mobile video HDR-ready

This means that it supports high-dynamic range playback on video content, giving you more vivid color contrast.

You can quickly take down a note on the lock screen

If inspiration (or a last-minute grocery shop request) strikes, you don’t even need to unlock your phone anymore to note it down. Plus you can pin that note to the lock screen. Neat.

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