HOW TO CHARGE YOUR ANDROID PHONE BATTERY FASTER

We’ve all done it: you’re getting ready to leave the house and you realize you’ve forgotten to charge your phone. Its battery level is perilously low, but you have 15 minutes to spare, so you plug it into its charger to give the battery a boost – and it gains a measly two percent. How do you avoid this in future? Read our guide on how to charge your Android battery faster.

Get the right plug and charger

While Android chargers have a universal fitting, that doesn’t mean they’re all the same. Connecting your charging cable to a laptop is a bad idea if you want to charge your phone quickly: a USB 2.0 port chucks out just 2.5 watts of power, while USB 3 delivers 4.5 watts. Your wall charger will deliver much more, so this is the best bet if you want the speediest charging.

Many modern Android phones support fast charging, which delivers a whopping 15 watts and can therefore charge your phone much more quickly. You’ll find a good list of fast charging phones on the Qualcomm website (you don’t need to have a Qualcomm processor; just Qualcomm’s power system).

Be aware that just because a phone supports fast charging, it doesn’t mean the charger that came with it is a fast charger. You may have to buy your own. For example, the LG G4 is compatible with fast charging but the stock charger isn’t a fast charger.

You don’t necessarily need to buy your phone maker’s own charger – a third party one can save you a fortune – but be wary of no-name gray market cheapies, which have a tendency to set things on fire.

Put it into airplane mode

The less your phone is trying do while it’s charging, the more quickly it will recharge. Airplane mode blocks any wireless radios on your device, reducing your phone’s capabilities and therefore stopping it from doing so much.

It won’t receive calls or messages while it’s in airplane mode, but it’s worth it to have a device that will stay on for the next few hours.

Turn it off

Turning your phone off completely will allow it to recharge even faster than putting it in airplane mode. Again, you might miss out on a few notifications while it is off, but you’ll have to live with that if you want your phone to last until you come home again.

Use a battery-saving mode

Every Android Lollipop device has a battery saving mode of some description, whether it’s the stock option or a manufacturer-specific feature such as Motorola’s Doze. Switch this on to conserve power while your phone recharges.

Switch off unnecessary features

Check to see if you have any unnecessary features on, such as Bluetooth, GPS, Wi-Fi or NFC, which could be using up battery power. Close all your apps and stop your phone from doing automatic backups or updating apps from the Google Play Store.

Don’t touch it

If you need your phone on and out of airplane mode while it’s charging, because you are expecting an important call, try not to keep using your phone every 30 seconds. Why? Because the screen is the biggest battery drainer of them all.

The more you wake your phone, the faster its battery will drain. So try to avoid the urge to check every notification that comes through, leave it to charge, and it will reach the desired level much faster.

Buy a portable USB charger

This won’t actually charge your phone faster, but it will solve the problem of having a low battery and not enough time to fully charge it. Portable USB chargers come in small, lightweight packages and often can be picked up for less than US$20.

HOW TO CALIBRATE THE BATTERY ON YOUR ANDROID PHONE OR TABLET

Battery problems are among the biggest concerns for smartphone users, which is why we offer so many useful tips for solving battery drain issues. If you notice that your battery performance and duration has decreased, it could be time to calibrate your battery.

How do I know whether my battery is the problem?

First of all, you need to identify why your battery performance has decreased: is it the Android system’s calibration or the battery itself? We’ll move onto calibration in the sections below, but you should check if your battery itself is damaged first.

If your phone has a removable battery cover, turn off your phone, remove the cover and inspect the battery. Look for bulges or leaks. In the image below, you’ll see what a normal battery looks like next to a swollen one. If your phone doesn’t sit flat on the table anymore, that could also be a sign of a swollen battery too.

What is calibrating a battery?

The Android operating system has a feature called Battery Stats, which keeps track of battery capacity, when it is full or empty. The problem is that it sometimes becomes corrupted and starts displaying data that isn’t real, which, for example, causes the phone to turn off before it reaches 0 percent. Calibrating your Android battery simply means getting the Android OS to correct this information so it is reflective of your actual battery levels once again.

It’s important to understand that you can’t actually calibrate the battery itself: it is, after all, just a cell that stores power and discharges. However, lithium-ion batteries do include a printed circuit board (PCB), which serves as a protection switch to stop them exploding or deep discharging.

How to calibrate an Android device battery without root access

The old ‘fully charge and discharge’ approach stands as one of the simplest ways to ‘recalibrate’ your Android battery. We’ve warned you in the past about low voltage problems in lithium batteries and the negative impacts of fully draining a battery on its lifespan and the same holds true here. But, if your phone battery is causing you real problems, it’s worth taking the risk.

Method 1

  1. Discharge your phone fully until it turns itself off.
  2. Turn it on again and let it turn itself off.
  3. Plug your phone into a charger and, without turning it on, let it charge until the on-screen or LED indicator says 100 percent.
  4. Unplug your charger.
  5. Turn your phone on. It’s likely that the battery indicator won’t say 100 percent, so plug the charger back in (leave your phone on) and continue charging until it says 100 percent on-screen as well.
  6. Unplug your phone and restart it. If it doesn’t say 100 percent, plug the charger back in until it says 100 percent on screen.
  7. Repeat this cycle until it says 100 percent (or as close as you think it’s going to get) when you start it up without it being plugged in.
  8. Now, let your battery discharge all the way down to 0 percent and let your phone turn off again.
  9. Fully charge the battery one more time without interruption and you should have reset the Android system’s battery percentage.

Remember that it is not recommended to perform this process regularly. Even when your battery is so dead your phone won’t even turn on, your battery still has enough reserve charge to avoid system damage. But you don’t want to poke the tiger with a stick. Perform this process once every three months at the most. If it is required more often than that, you have bigger problems at hand.

Put plainly: fully discharging a battery is bad for it. Trying to overload a battery is also bad for it. The good news is that charging batteries will shut off automatically when they’ve reached their safe limit and there’s always a little in reserve even if your phone won’t start. Again: only do this when really necessary, because it does have a negative impact on battery life.

How to calibrate an Android device battery with root access

Even though I’m not convinced that clearing the batterystats.bin file has any meaningful effect on how the Android system reports remaining battery charge, there are those who swear by this method.

So in the interest of fairness, we’ve included the process for you here (it is true that different manufacturers use the batterystats.bin file for different things). It’s basically the same process as above, but with the added step of using a root-enabled app.

Method 2

  1. Discharge your phone fully until it turns itself off.
  2. Turn it on and let it turn off again.
  3. Plug your phone into a charger and, without turning it on, let it charge until the on-screen or LED indicator says 100 percent.
  4. Unplug your charger.
  5. Turn your phone on. It’s likely that the battery indicator won’t say 100 percent, so plug the charger back in (leave your phone on) and continue charging until it says 100 percent on the screen as well.
  6. Unplug your phone and restart it. If it doesn’t say 100 percent, plug the charger back in until it says 100 percent on screen.
  7. You want to repeat this cycle until it says 100 percent (or as close as you think it’s going to get) when you start it up without it being plugged in.
  8. Now, install the Battery Calibration app, and before you launch it, make sure your battery is at 100 percent again, then restart.
  9. Immediately launch the app and recalibrate your battery.
  10. Once you’ve calibrated your battery, discharge it all the way down to 0 percent and let your phone turn off again.
  11. Fully charge the battery one more time without interruption while it’s switched off, and the Android system’s battery percentage will be reset.

That’s it. Have you tried any of these methods? Do you know an alternate way to fix battery problems? Let us know in the comments.

5 Ways to Keep Windows XP Running Strong

Windows XP has been out since 2001, and it’s still one of the most popular Microsoft operating systems (OS) in use today despite several upgrades, with the latest update being Windows 10.

Add More RAM

RAM is the memory that your computer uses to run programs, and the general rule of thumb is “More is Better.” Many XP computers, having been bought many years ago, will have 1GB (gigabytes) of RAM or even less (my father’s computer, for example, came with 512MB (megabytes), which is barely enough to run the OS).

It’s very hard to get anything done these days with that amount of RAM.

The practical limit on how much RAM a Windows XP computer can use is about 3GB. Thus, if you put 4GB or more in, you’re just wasting money. Adding any more than you have now (assuming you have less than 3GB) is good; getting to at least 2GB will make your computer much snappier.

Upgrade to Service Pack 3

Service Packs (SPs) are rollups of fixes, enhancements, and additions to a Windows OS. Often, the most important things in them are the security updates. Windows XP is at SP 3. If you’re on SP 2 or (hopefully not!) SP 1 or no SP at all, go download it right now. This minute. You can download it by turning on Automatic Updates; download and install it manually; or order it on CD and install that way. I strongly recommend turning on Automatic Updates in XP.

Buy a New Graphics Card

If you have an XP computer, it’s likely you also have a very old graphics card. This will affect your performance in a number of ways, especially if you’re a gamer. Newer cards have more RAM on board, taking much of the load off your central processing unit (you’ve probably heard abbreviated as CPU).

You can get a mid-grade card for little money nowadays, but the effect on your Internet experience, and in other ways, could be significant. A good place to start is About.com’s PC Hardware/Reviews site.

Upgrade Your Network

Your home network may be ready for an upgrade. For instance, most homes use the wireless technology known as 802.11b/g to connect computers through a router. The upcoming standard is called Wi-Fi HaLow and will be an extension of the 802.11ah standard. The Wi-Fi Alliance intends to begin certifying HaLow products in 2018.

Download Microsoft Security Essentials

XP computers are more susceptible than other Windows versions to attack. In addition, spyware and adware — the computer equivalent of junk mail — can build up over the years and slow your computer to crawling-through-oatmeal speeds. Microsoft has an answer for that which wasn’t available when you bought your machine: Microsoft Security Essentials.

Security Essentials is a free program that guards your computer against worms and viruses, spyware and other bad stuff. It works very well, is easy to use, and highly recommended. It’s been protecting my computer for months, and I wouldn’t leave home (or my computer on) without it.

Eventually, you will need to get a new computer, since Microsoft will stop offering support for Windows XP, including security updates. But taking these steps will help you get the most out of the time you have left.

Simple Ways to Maintain Your Computer

If you’ve ever fried a CPU because you didn’t clean your fan, lost a decade of your digital life to a hard drive crash, or spent four hours trying to remove a nasty virus, you’ve probably already learned a valuable lesson about the need to maintain your computer.

Medical experts remind us that “prevention is the best medicine” so as your personal computer support expert, I’m going to strongly advise that you apply the same logic to your computer!

While the three areas I talk about below are anything but exhaustive, they’re the most important things to consider and, if you act on them, should keep you from suffering from some of the more serious, and expensive, issues you might otherwise run in to.

Keep Important Files Backed Up

The most important thing you can do as a computer owner is to consistently and reliably back up the data stored on your hard drive. Hardware used to be the most valuable part of a computer but those bits and bytes are now the real investment.

You’ve spent huge amounts of money on software and digital music and video, and countless hours authoring documents and organizing your digital files. If you don’t regularly backup this information, a serious computer problem could leave you with nothing but a huge feeling of regret.

The best solution is a cloud based backup service. Yes, it’ll cost you a several dollars a month, but considering what you get, it’s the cheapest insurance policy on your important stuff that you’ll find.

Traditional backup software is an option too but all in all, it’s less safe than backing up to the cloud.

Regularly Update Your Critical Software

Keeping the software on your computer updated is no longer an optional part of computer ownership. Viruses, worms, and other malware, in addition to junk mail, security breaches, hardware incompatibilities, and software conflicts, are all now part of your daily digital life.

Updating your computer with the latest patches, fixes, and device drivers really can keep these annoyances at bay. Updates are freely available on the internet for just about every antivirus program, email client, operating system, and piece of hardware you could possibly own.

So, don’t skip those Patch Tuesday releases, don’t be scared to update your hardware’s drivers, and please make sure that you regularly scan for viruses or make sure the “always on” protection is enabled in your antivirus program.

Make Sure Things are Clean (So They Stay Cool)

We all know that most things run a little better when they’re clean. Water flows easier when your plumbing is clean, your car’s engine runs better if you’ve been taking care of it, and your dryer does more in less time when you clean out the lint.

The fans in your computer, assuming yours has any, need similar care so they can continue to keep the important components that are part of your computer nice and cool. If things get too hot, they stop working.

See Ways to Keep Your Computer Cool for lots of advice, from how to clean your fans, to other tips that can help keep the heat at bay.

Your computer is no different. Keeping your files and folders tidy in your virtual world and clearing the dust and grime that builds up inside and outside your computer all play a part in keeping it running smooth day in and day out.

What Is Retina Display?

Retina Display is the name given by Apple to the high-resolution screen technology used on various models of the iPhone, iPod touch, and other Apple products. It was introduced with the iPhone 4 in June 2010.

What Is Retina Display?

Retina Display gets its name from Apple’s claim that screens made with the technology are so sharp and high quality that it’s impossible for the human eye to distinguish individual pixels.

Retina Display smoothes the jagged edges of the pixels that make up images on screens.

The benefits of the technology are visible in many uses, but especially for displaying text, where curved font edges are substantially smoother than on previous display technologies.

Retina Display’s image quality derives from a number of factors:

  • A high density of the pixels that make up the device’s screen
  • Higher contrast ratio than previous models to create brighter whites and deeper blacks
  • In-Plane Switching (IPS) technology to improve the angles from which the screen can be viewed
  • Chemically treated glass over the screen and LED backlighting to improve the quality of the image.

The Two Factors That Make a Screen Retina Display

Here’s where things get a little tricky: There is no single screen resolution that makes something a Retina Display.

For instance, you can’t say that every device with a resolution of  960 x 640 (like the iPhone 4) has a Retina Display.

Instead, there are two factors that create a Retina Display screen: pixel density and the distance from which the screen is normally viewed.

Pixel Density refers to how tightly packed the screen’s pixels are. The greater the density, the smoother the images. Pixel density is measured in pixels per inch, or PPI, which indicates how many pixels are in one square inch of screen.

This is based on a combination of the device’s resolution and its physical size.

The iPhone 4 had 326 PPI thanks to a 3.5-inch screen with a 960 x 640 resolution. This was the original PPI for Retina Display screens, though that changed as later models were released. For instance, the iPad Air 2 has a 2048 x 1536 pixel screen, resulting in 264 PPI. That, too, is a Retina Display screen. This is where the second factor comes in.

Viewing Distance refers to how far away users generally hold the device from their faces. For example, the iPhone is generally held fairly close to the user’s face, while a Macbook Pro is generally held farther away. This matters because the defining characteristic of a Retina Display is that the pixels can’t be seen by a human eye. Something that’s seen from much closer up needs a greater pixel density for the eye not to see the pixels. Pixel density can be lower for things seen at a greater distance.

Other Retina Display Names

As Apple has introduced new devices, screen sizes, and pixel densities, it has begun to use other names for different Retina Displays. These include:

Retina Display—used on the iPhone 4, among others

Retina HD Display—used on the iPhone 6 Plus, and others

Retina 4K Display—used on the 21-inch iMac

Retina 5K Display—used on the 27-inch iMac

Super Retina HD Display—used on the iPhone X.

Google Phones: A Look At The Pixel Line

Pixel phones are the official flagship Android devices from Google. Unlike other Android phones, which are designed by a variety of phone manufacturers, Pixels are designed by Google to showcase the capabilities of Android. Verizon is the only carrier selling the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL in the U.S., but you can buy it directly from Google. The phone is unlocked, so it will work with all major U.S. carriers and Project Fi, which is Google’s own cellular phone service.

Google Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL

  • Manufacturer: HTC (Pixel 2) / LG (Pixel 2 XL)
  • Display: 5 in AMOLED (Pixel 2) / 6 in pOLED (Pixel 2 XL)
  • Resolution: 1920 x 1080 @ 441ppi (Pixel 2) / 2880 x 1440 @ 538ppi (Pixel 2 XL)
  • Front camera: 8 MP
  • Rear camera: 12.2 MP
  • Initial Android version: 8.0 “Oreo”

Like the original Pixel, the Pixel 2 features metal unibody construction with a glass panel on the rear. Unlike the originals, the Pixel 2 boasts IP67 dust and water resistance, which means that they can survive being submerged in up to three feet of water for 30 minutes.

The Pixel 2 processor, a Qualcomm Snapdragon 835, is 27 percent faster and consumes 40 percent less energy than the processor in the original Pixel.

Unlike the original Pixel, Google went with two different manufacturers for the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL. That led to rumors that the Pixel 2 XL, manufactured by LG, may feature a bezel-less design.

That didn’t happen. Despite being manufactured by different companies (HTC and LG), the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL look very similar, and they both continue to sport fairly chunky bezels.

Like the original phones in the line, the Pixel 2 XL differs from the Pixel 2 only in terms of screen size and battery capacity. The Pixel 2 has a 5 inch screen and a 2,700 mAH battery, while its larger sibling has a 6 inch screen and a 3,520 mAH battery.

The only real cosmetic difference between the two, other than size, is that the Pixel 2 comes in blue, white and black, while the Pixel 2 XL is available in black and a two-tone black and white scheme.

The Pixel 2 includes a USB-C port, but it doesn’t have a headphone jack. The USB port supports compatible headphones, and there is also a USB-to-3.5mm adapter available.

Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL New Features

  1. Active Edge: Squeeze the Pixel 2 or Pixel 2 XL to launch Google Assistant.
  2. Google Lens: Point the camera at objects, like landmarks or the text on a movie poster, to pull up relevant information.
  3. Now Playing: Listens for music and displays the song and artist without sending or receiving any data.
  4. Always-On Display: An always-on features shows the time, notifications, and other information.
  5. Highly rated camera: The rear camera received a rating of 98 from DxOMark, the highest yet for a smartphone.
  6. Free Google Home Mini: Early adopters receive a free Google Home Mini smart speaker.

Apple is ‘looking into’ why some iPhone 8 batteries are swelling

Apple seems to have an iPhone 8 battery problem on its hands, and it’s not clear yet whether it’s occurring in just a handful of edge cases or in a larger batch of phones.

Over the past week, reports have been coming out about iPhone 8s that have split apart either on arrival or after several days of use. What appears to be happening is that the battery inside the phone is swelling, bending the front of the phone and separating it from the body of the device. So far, there haven’t been any fires — just ruined phones.

Apple has a short statement on the matter: “We are aware and looking into it.”

The first report came out of Taiwan, where a woman is said to have found her iPhone swollen apart after plugging it in to charge. Someone in Japan then posted photos of a split-apart phone on Twitter. And in the days since, there’ve been cases in China, Canada, and Greece.

There appear to be only six or so reports so far — certainly less than a dozen that have been publicly identified — so the issue seems to be quite small in comparison to the millions of phones that Apple has likely already sold. In any manufacturing run that big, there are going to be occasional issues, so on some level seeing a few broken iPhones is expected.

But after Samsung’s Note 7 fiasco, there’s reason to be concerned about what’s happening here — especially since it’s a battery issue. Batteries shouldn’t be swelling in any number, and it’s not clear what the half-dozen iPhones that are having this problem have in common. While it seems to be rare, there’s obviously good reason to want to know what’s going on.

“[Swelling is] very unusual for a brand-new battery and leads toward the direction of there’s something fundamentally wrong with this battery,” says Sam Jaffe, managing director of Cairn Energy Research Advisors, in a phone call with The Verge. Jaffe, a battery industry analyst, says manufacturers have reached a limit with lithium-ion battery capacity and could end up producing designs with a bigger risk of short circuiting in an attempt to store more power.

For now, he says, it’s too early to know what’s happening with Apple’s phones. “It could be just a random distribution,” he says. “Just a random event, and it’s only a few.”

Jaffe suspects Apple’s executives are “in crisis mode” over the potential damage that battery issues could lead to. But while we’ve seen a few swollen batteries already, he says, it doesn’t mean the problem will necessarily elevate into a Note 7-style crisis with phones starting to produce smoke.

“Swelling is always a precursor when there is a battery fire, but the percentage of actual fires are pretty rare,” Jaffe says. “In the Galaxy Note case, there were probably a couple hundred battery failures of one sort or another, but there were only a handful of fires — so that gives you a sense of the proportion of actual fires.”

Are You Really Taking Care of Your Laptop?

It takes more than being careful and travelling with a laptop case to keep your piece of personal technology running in tip-top shape. Along with the top 3 laptop computer maintenance tips that we recommend performing weekly, mobile professionals who wish to keep their laptops in pristine working condition should also be thinking more long term. This means dedicating a little time each month to some additional maintenance work. Monthly laptop maintenance ensures the smooth operation of your laptop and most importantly, keeps your personal data protected. The better you care for your laptop, the longer it will last, which not only saves you money but ensures that you will stay more productive with less downtime due to computer problems.

Keep your laptop in perfect working condition with these top five laptop maintenance guidelines.

1.Clean Your Hard Drive

Over the course of a month, it is easy for the mobile professional to accumulate a lot of unnecessary files on their laptop hard drive. Take the time once a month to go through your hard drive and examine the files there. As you look over those files, determine which should be saved elsewhere for future reference and which can be trashed. This is also a great opportunity to back up your files on an external drive (see step 4 for more details). Additionally, if you download programs on a regular basis to try new things or to have access to new programs for projects, properly ​uninstall those programs when they are no longer needed. A cleaner hard drive is a smoother running hard drive.

2.Defrag Your Hard Drive

To defrag your computer means to defragment, which is a process that rearranges fragmented data so that it is easier to read, allowing your computer to work more efficiently. Not surprisingly, defragging your hard drive is another maintenance task that ensures your laptop will run as efficiently as possible. There is no need to defrag more than once a month for your programs to run more quickly and make better use of the space on your hard drive. When you defrag your laptop hard drive regularly, you should notice fewer software crashes or freeze ups and programs will run better. Defragging can be as simple as using a defragmenter software. But note that if you have a solid-state drive (SSD) in your laptop, you do not need to defragment.

3.Keep Your Laptop Clean

This time we’re talking about keeping your laptop physically clean. Cleaning your laptop helps prevent overheating and those nasty dust bunnies from building up inside your laptop fans and exposed ports that can cause issues.  Cleaning the screen also means you’ll always view your data clearly, it’ll be much easier on the eyes. Keeping your case free of dust and dirt buildup will help your laptop by preventing that dirt from getting inside the laptop. If dust does make its way in, you can blast it free with a can of compressed air.

4.Full Back-Up

Full back-ups should be conducted on a monthly basis. There are a variety of software and hardware options available. You should choose the method that is easy and can be done without fuss. It may require trying different methods before you find the best backup system for your needs. Most importantly, you should have a secure, fire-proof location to store your back-up.

5.Software Updates

Just as you keep your anti-virus and firewall software up-to-date, you should also keep your all other software programs updated. For many programs, the updates address security issues which help keep your laptop and data protected while on the road. You can perform updates as they become available, but to avoid the disruption and use your time more efficiently, we suggest dedicating some time once a month to installing all new updates.

Laptops with the Longest Battery Life

No matter how stacked its specs are, a laptop is useless if it can’t hold a charge. Fortunately, there are plenty of notebooks that go the distance. Using our Laptop Mag Battery Test, which involves continuous Web surfing over Wi-Fi at 100 nits of brightness, we’ve identified the longest-lasting notebooks on the market. We’re talking more than 10 hours of endurance, which should more than suffice for that cross-country flight, a long day of meetings or multiple, back-to-back classes.

Lenovo ThinkPad T470 (17:25)

If you want a truly fantastic keyboard, durable chassis and strong performance, look no further than the ThinkPad T470. The T470 makes room for an optional extended battery that gives this 14-inch laptop over 17 hours of endurance (with its non-touch display). You can charge the laptop over a proprietary ThinkPad connector or via its Thunderbolt 3 port, which allows you to juice the laptop and output to multiple monitors over a single wire. A durable, MIL-SPEC-tested chassis helps this long-lasting business notebook stand up to the rigors of all-day business travel.

Lenovo ThinkPad X270 (13:51)

Weighing 3 pounds (3.4 with extended battery), the 12.5-inch ThinkPad X270 is light enough to carry anywhere and small enough to fit easily on most airplane tray tables. Its 12.5-inch display outputs a vibrant 88 percent of the sRGB color gamut while a snappy keyboard and accurate pointing stick make editing documents a pleasure. Unlike many Ultrabooks, the X270 has plenty of ports, including a USB Type-C connector, multiple USB 3.0 connectors, an SD card reader and an Ethernet connector.

With its extended battery on board, this powerful laptop lasts nearly 14 hours on a charge. If that’s not enough endurance for you, you can carry a spare battery and swap it in, without even turning off the computer.

Dell XPS 13 (13:49)

Our favorite laptop overall, the Dell XPS 13 uses a nearly-bezel-free Infinity display to pack a 13-inch panel into a chassis that might otherwise hold an 11-inch laptop. Despite its slim, 0.6-inch thick dimensions and 2.7-pound weight, Dell’s laptop offers nearly 14 hours of battery life with its standard, 1080p screen.  The touch version, which has a 3200 x 1800 display, lasts over 9 hours on a charge.

 

Add to that an Intel 7th Gen Core i3, i5 or i7 CPU, a speedy PCIe SSD and plenty of ports and you have the best consumer Ultrabook around. A Killer Wi-Fi card and Thunderbolt 3 charging round out this impressive package.

Dell Inspiron 11 3000 (13:39)

Starting at just $199, Dell’s lightweight laptop proves that you don’t have to spend a lot of money to get truly epic battery life. This Celeron-powered, 11.6-inch laptop offers just enough performance for web surfing and light productivity. At just 2.4 pounds, the Inspiron 11 3000 is light enough to carry anywhere and, with over 13 hours of endurance, you can leave the plug at home.

The Inspiron 11 3000 is also one of our top choices for kids, because of its small size, low-price and attractive blue and red color options. For better multitasking, we recommended spending $50 over the base price to get a configuration with 4GB of RAM.

Microsoft Surface Book (12:29)

When coupled with its keyboard dock, Microsoft’s detachable notebook will last up to 12.5 hours, provided you buy it with integrated graphics. A 13.5-inch, 3000 x 2000-pixel display is gorgeous to look at and a magnetically attached stylus makes writing a pleasure. Starting at $1,499, the Surface Book is an expensive system, but worth every penny.

Google Pixel 2 News: Release Date, UK Price, New Features & Specs

The Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL have officially been outed as the new Google phones for 2017. Here’s everything you need to know about the new features, specifications, UK price and launch date.

Google has unveiled its Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL smartphones. The new Google phones are available to pre-order immediately and will go onsale on 19 October and 15 November respectively.

Read our hands-on reviews of the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL for our first impressions.

When is the Google Pixel 2 release date?

The Pixel 2 is available to pre-order now (via Google or EE) and goes on sale on 19 October.

The Pixel 2 XL is also available to pre-order now (via Google or EE) and goes on sale on 15 November.

EE is the exclusive network partner at launch. It is now accepting preorders on the Pixel 2 in Just Black, Clearly White and Kinda Blue, and the Pixel 2 XL in Just Black or Black & White. Both come with either 64- or 128GB of storage.

Those who pre-order from Google or EE before 2 November for the Pixel 2, or 14 November for the Pixel 2 XL, will get a free Google Home Mini.

How much does the Google Pixel 2 cost in the UK?

The Pixel 2 costs £629 with 64GB of storage, and £729 with 128GB. The Google Pixel 2 XL costs £799 with 64GB storage, and £899 for 128GB.

If you’re buying it on an EE contract in the UK the Pixel 2 is £9.99 on a £47.99/month 4GEE Max plan, which offers unlimited minutes and texts, and 8GB data.

The same plan costs £57.99 per month for the Google Pixel 2 XL.

Google Pixel 2 features and specifications

Highlights in the gorgeous new Google phones are their vibrant OLED screens with always-on displays, with the larger Pixel 2 XL offering an 18:9 FullVision display. These screens are said to be twice the resolution and offer 10 times the contrast ratio of phones that use a standard LCD.

There’s also a squeezable active edge – on both models – that instantly calls up the Google Assistant for quick access to all your phone’s most commonly used features, and an improved camera that has the highest ever recorded score for a smartphone camera by DXOMark.

It can achieve the same things as a dual-camera but with a single lens, and the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL are the first phones to build in Google Lens.

Google made a point of the fact you’ll get the same features in either phone, with nothing reserved for the larger, more expensive model. That means you’ll get the same hardware too.

The key difference between the two is the 5in full-HD (1920×1080) 16:9 screen on the Pixel 2, and the 6in Quad-HD (538ppi) 18:9 display on the Pixel 2 XL. They offer a wide colour gamut, and have been optimised for VR – both Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL are Daydream-ready.

A new feature is the always-on display, seen previously in flagship phones from Google and LG. Google’s version, like those, offers an at-a-glance readout of the time and date, reminders and whether you have any emails or notifications. But they also include a Shazam-style feature that can recognise any song you’re listening to – without sending your data to Google’s servers – and when you tap on this the Google Assistant will pop up and offer to find it on a music-streaming service or the web.

They share the same premium design – now waterproof, with an IP67 rating – with an all aluminium body that has a refined glass visor that transitions seamlessly into the metal body. The fingerprint scanner is said to be the fastest you’ll find in any smartphone, and falls naturally under the finger on the back. Google has also added a splash of colour on the power button.

The new Google phones do away with the traditional 3.5mm headphone jack, but you do get a USB-C adaptor in the box. Or you can use a pair of wireless headphones (Google has also announced a version of its own that build in the Google Assistant) or use the stereo speakers.

The primary camera is a 12.2Mp f/1.8 model with 1.4um pixels and OIS. While the original Pixel scored 89 in DXOMark, this new camera acheives 98 – the highest ever recorded in a smartphone camera.

Although it’s a single-lens camera, Google’s Dual Pixel sensor is able to generate a true depth map that enables the phone to create bokeh-effect (blurred background) photos just as a dual-camera might. This portrait mode works on the 8Mp selfie camera too.

Other new features include AR stickers, with Star Wars versions reportedly coming soon, and Google Lens. We first heard about the latter back at Google I/O. It’s a smart feature that works a bit like Bixby Vision, giving you more information on whatever you’re looking at. It can read email addresses, phone numbers and more.

In video the Pixel 2 supports both OIS and EIS, thanks to new ‘fuse video stabilisation’, and Pixel 2 owners will be pleased to learn Google is extending its offer of free Google Photos storage of all their full-resolution photos and video.

In terms of core hardware you get a Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor, 4GB of RAM and either 64- or 128GB of storage. There’s also Bluetooth 5.0 and the latest wireless connectivity.

A fast-charging battery (2700mAh in the Pixel 2 and 3520mAh in the Pixel 2 XL) can last all day, but offers up to 7 hours of use from a 15-minute charge.

Despite the larger screen and bigger battery, Pixel 2 XL is only slightly wider and taller than the Pixel 2. It measures 3x6x0.3in, while the Pixel 2 is 2.7×5.7×0.3in.

The software is obviously Android 8.0 Oreo, and the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL will be the first to get any OS updates. Google has moved the Google bar to the bottom of the home screen where it finds it a better fit. You can also squeeze the edge of the handset to bring up the Google Assistant.