2017 Brings Another Wave of Options For A New Phone
With each passing year, a deluge of new phone options overwhelms consumers. Whether you’re an iOS or Android user, there’s at least two (if not ten) new and enhanced smartphones added to the market annually. Obviously, we don’t anticipate needing to buy a new phone every year. Yet, most of our smartphones break or become outdated in a much shorter amount of time than we had originally hoped for. We might reconcile paying for a new iPhone 7 or Google Pixel by asserting that we won’t have to buy another for a long time. Unfortunately, it never seems to work out like that. The fates of our phones are far less fortunate than we’d like to imagine.
Even if you managed to go more than a year or two without buying a new phone, you’ll still want to take advantage of the best cases, headphones, VR goggles, and apps of 2017. Sometimes a new app is all you need to reinvigorate your aging gadget. Check out our favorite hardware and software below.
Without question, our favorite new Android phone is the Google Pixel. Although it’s technically not Google’s first attempt to break into the smartphone market, it’s definitely their most successful. As their line of Nexus phones never truly took off, Google decided to try a new approach. The Pixel is really their first solo smartphone venture and it meshes with their Android OS beautifully.
It has an elegant, iPhone-esque design with a powerful camera, a splash resistant body, and the Google database-backed, artificially intelligent assistant built-in. It’s available in 5″ or 5.5″ display sizes and has 32GB or 128GB internal storage options. The downside? Unfortunately, the Pixel doesn’t come with headphones, so you might want to take a look at some of our favorites here.
We recently ran a contest for users to win a free Google Pixel! Check out the video for our recent Google Pixel giveaway here. And follow us on Twitter to stay updated on our next gadget giveaway. This week (03/17/17-03/24/17) we’re giving away a pair of Polk Audio Bookshelf Speakers worth $399.95. Learn more and enter to win here.
Pixel 2 Rumors:
Every time a tech giant prepares to release a new device, a slew of rumors ensue that somehow always involve code names. Google’s Pixel 2 is no exception. This year, Pixel 2’s rumored codenames are “walleye” and “muskie”, according to Android Police. Some have argued that “walleye” and “muskie” are types of fish and that could allude to greater water resistance for the new Pixel. Yet, fish have always been a common theme for Google product codenames. While the Pixel 2 will likely have a higher IP rating, the fish names are almost surely irrelevant.
Apple’s release of the iPhone 7 marked one of their most controversial moves yet. As we all know by now, they opted to remove the standard 3.5mm audio jack and use the charging port as its replacement. While it allowed them to create a thinner phone with a larger display, it shocked the consumer electronics industry and even created some passionate outrage. Apple has a consistent history of removing treasured yet superfluous aspects of their products. It’s all a part of their never-ending quest for impeccable minimalism.
Despite the drawbacks of the audio jack removal, Apple’s iPhone 7 remains an awesome product. It’s Apple’s first phone with any water resistance, and it has their brightest display, longest battery life, and most high-tech camera system of any iPhone to date. Of course, that was all expected. It would be sacrilege for a smartphone provider to neglect updating any of those features. The race for the best display, camera, battery, and durability will continue to be the driving force of the smartphone industry until a new type of device makes those factors irrelevant.
iPhone 8 Rumors:
Tech bloggers are practically in unanimous agreement that at least one version of the iPhone 8 will have an OLED display. According to Business Insider, Apple reportedly bought 60 million of the favored displays from Samsung. If the report is accurate, then it’s safe to say the more expensive variants of the new phone will feature OLED tech.
This rumor pairs nicely with the another one that predicates the iPhone 8 will have no boarders and the entire face will be one big display. While this might seem too good to be true, there have been reports that Apple is redesigning their fingerprint ID systems. It’s not unreasonable to suggest that they plan to do away with the home button and stretch the screen lower.
Best Cases For Your New Android Phone:
The smartest thing you can do immediately after getting a new phone is protect it with a sturdy case. Here are our favorite three Android phone cases.
Spigen Tough Armor – Google Pixel
The flexible bumper makes this case easy to remove, while the dual layer hard back adds extra protection. The company claims to offer military-grade protection with “Air-Cushion” technology that completely absorbs shock. It looks and feels great, has a foldable stand for propping up the phone, and will certainly protect against general clumsiness.
UNU Battery Case – Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge
This is one of the least obtrusive battery cases on the market. It manages to include a 3800mAh battery pack while remaining relatively slim. The extra battery equates to roughly 12 hours of talk time and 15 hours of web browsing. For those of you that can never seem to get enough battery life, buying this case is a bit more practical than patiently waiting for the next phone release.
HTC Dot View Case – HTC One (M8)
This case features a retro-tech light display that reads the time, weather, and other basic info in a nostalgia worthy grid. It certainly isn’t the most rugged or industrial case available. But if all you need is protection from minor scratches, then why not opt to make your smartphone a bit more dazzling. It’s also very reasonably priced at $10.57 on amazon.
Best Cases For Your New iPhone
A naked iPhone is a notoriously fragile creature. It’s definitely best to find a case that’s equal parts protective and sleek. Here are our 2 favorite iPhone cases.
Combining your wallet and phone case used to seem like a ‘dorky’ move. With its genuine black leather and elegant slim profile, the Silent Pocket Fold Over Wallet Case is anything but dorky. It’s manufactured with anti-radiation and RFID blocking materials that make it the healthiest and most secure wallet case available. RFID is a type of radio-scanning that malicious people can use to scan your credit card info if they’re ever in reach of your wallet. Fortunately, this case renders RFID scanners useless while critically limiting the amount of cell-phone radiation you’re exposed to. If you’re aiming to look good, stay secure, and minimize the amount of things you have to carry in your pockets, this case is perfect for you.
OtterBox cases are well known for their durability and distinguished style. Their commuter series offers a sleeker look and feel without sacrificing protection. It includes certified drop protection, a 1-year warranty, and customizable color combinations for the back and side sleeves. It’s an easy choice for those that want trusted security with a surprisingly thin design.
Best Headphones For Your New Phone
Your new phone deserves a fresh set of headphones. That’s especially true if your phone didn’t come with any, as is the case with the Google Pixel. Click here to see our full list of the best headphones for every situation. Or check out our favorite 2 from 2017 below.
Beyerdynamic T51i – $199.00 – Best for iOS
These powerful on-hear headphones are equal parts stylish, comfortable, and high-fidelity. This version is made specifically for iOS devices and includes a 3-button control and microphone for smarter and more efficient control over your media. Their swiveling ear pieces and flexible headband offer a surprising amount of maneuverability so they’ll be able to handle some pretty intense head banging. If you have an iOS device and want to upgrade from Apple’s standard earphones, the Beyerdynamic T51i are an excellent choice.
Polk Audio Hinge Wireless – $199.95 – Best for Android (or iOS)
Polk Audio is well-known for their sophisticated sound technology and they didn’t compromise at all when manufacturing these wireless on-ear headphones. They have a 12-hour battery for wireless mode with a detachable 3.5 mm cable with a mic for passive listening. With SoundClear Technology, the Hinge Wireless are able to atomically optimize your listening experience when switching back and forth between phone calls, music, and other media. Technically these wireless headphones are great for both iOS and Android. They just don’t include a lightning adapter for newer iOS devices.
Best Smartphone VR Headsets of 2017
A VR headset is probably not the most necessary item to purchase after getting a new phone. Still, they’re bound to provide hours of entertainment and they’re relatively cheap. Of course, as we’ve stated in the past, these smartphone headsets only offer a glimpse of real virtual reality through the lens of 360 video. Click here learn more about 360 video vs true VR and check out other great headset options. Here are our 2 favorite smartphone VR headsets for 2017.
Google took made an interesting decision when they designed their Daydream View. It looks cozy, comfortable, and almost retro. At the same time, it seems smart, modern, and minimalistic. In any case, it’s definitely an upgrade from their original cardboard box VR product. And that upgrade is certainly reflected in the price increase. It includes an easy-to-use remote control and obviously pairs perfectly with the Google Pixel.
If you’re looking for a more universal and less expensive VR option, the Tepoinn 3D VR Glasses have a lot to offer for under $20. Most smartphone VR headsets are simply a phone case with well-placed lenses. The Tepoinn takes it a step further by allowing the viewer to adjust the focus of the lens for the clearest possible experience. They have a comfortable foam cushion lining and dual top-and-side head straps to keep you securely focused on your other worldly adventures.
Apps You Should Get For Your New Phone
When you get a new phone, the first thing you should do (and iOS user are prompted to do) is setup Find My Phone or Find My iPhone. New iPhones have Find My iPhone already installed. Android users can easily go to the Google Play Store and download the more universal Find My Phone. It’s the kind of thing that’s easy to set and forget and it could end up being your most beloved app.
The next thing you should do is download and setup a password manager. You can find our list of the best password managers for both iOS and Android here.
Most smartphones come with some type of navigation app already preinstalled. However, we recommend upgrading to the free Waze for a number of reasons. Waze provides user-generated real-time updates and has the smartest and most effective rerouting technology out of any Map App that we’ve seen. It has an incredibly user-friendly interface and is weirdly fun and addictive to use. Of course, driving shouldn’t be considered a game. Yet, Waze somehow manages to transform a typically dull commute into a lively adventure.
Again, most phones have some form of note-taking app included upon purchase. And most preinstalled note apps leave a lot to be desired. That’s why we recommend a simple and free upgrade to Evernote. This productivity/note-taking app works cross-platform and on nearly any device. You can customize its layout, search your entire note library, add in nearly any form of media, and share your notes with colleagues or friends. In a seemingly infinite abyss of productivity software, Evernote manages to stick out from the rest by being minimalist enough to not distract and sophisticated enough to maximize your workflow efficiency.
Social Media and Messaging Apps
Once you’ve taken care of the basics, you can move on to the realm of social media and messenger apps. We recommend the obvious big four: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat. After you’ve set those up or decided to opt-out, you can move on to Messenger, WhatsApp, Slack, Viber, and WeChat. Then, it’s time for the less obvious social media apps.
If you’re a part of a collaborative effort of any kind, then you should definitely check out Pyrus. It’s sort of like a combination of Slack with a task manager and idea organizer. At the moment, Pyrus is only available for iOS but they have an Android version on its way.
Another great and not-so-well-known messaging/SM app is Confide. This encrypted messaging app offers the utmost secrecy and privacy that’s available for a smartphone conversation. It’s completely free, easy-to-set up and use, and provides a platform for screen-shot protected, disappearing, and military-graded encrypted messages. If you value your 2-way conversational privacy, Confide is an awesome tool to have. Click here to learn more about improving your digital security and online privacy in 2017.
Don’t Forget The Games!
No new smartphone is complete without the best new game apps. Here are our favorites for Android and iOS this year.
As any good smartphone game should be, Chameleon Run is as challenging as it is addicting. Like most standard “Run” games, your avatar is constantly moving forward and its your job to jump and avoid hazards. However, this game involves a twist that forces you to tap to change color (yellow or pink) based on the color of the floor or ceiling that your avatar is going to touch. It’s difficult at first, but once you get the hang of it, it’ll be harder to put your phone down than it is to play.
This award-winning mobile app is like a combination of an M.C. Esher painting, Cartoon Network’s Adventure Time, and a traditional tap-n-go game. It’s beautiful yet frustrating, complex yet simple, and wildly addictive. While it’s unfortunately not free ($3.99), you can tell that the developers put their heart and soul into crafting it. If you have a few extra bucks to spend and want to carry an adventure in your pocket, Monument Valley is bound to please.
Media Management & Remote File Accessing
younity – The Mobile Media Server App
younity is the app that solves all of your remote access, media management, and file sharing problems. It’s a media server software that creates a personal and private network between your devices and the files stored within them. With younity, you’ll eliminate problems involving phone storage limitations, media playback issues, and remote file accessing conundrums.
younity for Enjoying Your Media On-The-Go
younity allows you to cary your entire media collection wherever you go. You don’t have to store anything on your phone, saving you valuable storage space and your time spent tiresomely uploading/syncing files. The younity app scans your computer hard drive, automatically organizes your files by content type, and then delivers your media to your other computers and mobile devices. You can playback nearly any file type (including FLAC and .mkv) in the highest possible quality on any Android or iOS mobile device. You can also wirelessly download files that are stored on your computer onto your mobile device for offline (no Wifi or Cell signal) use. With younity, you’ll be able to fully enjoy your media no matter what device you’re using or where you are in the world.
younity for Managing and Accessing Your Entire Device Network
Any device that you install younity on can be added to your personal and private network for free. There is absolutely no limit to the amount of mobile devices or computers you can connect with your younity account. You can easily adjust which folders or directories you want younity to scan on each of your computers. And you can unregister any unwanted devices in your network via younity’s desktop and mobile apps, or our online account portal. With younity, you will have unfettered access to all of your other devices within the mobile app on your new phone.
younity for Sharing and Transferring Your Digital Content
younity makes it incredibly easy to share photos, videos, or music stored on your computers directly into social media and messaging apps on your mobile devices. You can share pictures into Instagram or WhatsApp, add your personal media to your Evernote documents, or send files directly to your friends from within the younity app. younity also allows you to quickly transfer files from one device to the next with ease. You can send large files from computer to computer, or computer to mobile device without having to upload or sync anything. With younity, you are given complete and unparalleled control over your digital things.
Firstly, Click here to learn about using younity to access your iTunes on an Android device.
Secondly, follow this link to learn how to merge multiple iTunes accounts with younity.
Then, Click here if you’re interested in using Chromecast Audio on iOS.
Finally, check out this link if you want to listen to your entire music collection without WiFi.
Click here to learn more about younity.