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How can I make my phone more Festive? Five of the best yuletide themes available

Christmas has arrived… John Lewis ads have been broadcast, every shop is playing the Pogues and hideous outdoor Christmas decorations have been put up in homes across the country. For those who aren’t digital Scrooges, Christmas is a great time to spruce up your digital life. You may have added a Christmas twibbon on Facebook or Twitter but what about making your smart phone more festive? We can help… Here are the five best themes available for Christmas superfans!

For those wanting a festive overload, the nice boys and girls at SwiftKey, the awesome alternative keyboard for Android and iPhone, have provided over a hundred festive themes for free. If you want to download these themes why not head to www.swiftkey.com today? Here are the top five!

three-swiftkey-christmas-themes

Happy Holidays Theme

This fetching gold and red snowfall theme is the most popular Swiftkey theme according to the company. This free theme is available from the SwiftKey app.

Frozen Theme

You cannot get away from good old fashioned mass-marketed deal making and Christmas is no different. Disney and Swiftkey have joined forces to create a series of Christmas themes based on family favourites, like Frozen. The free theme is available for download from the SwiftKey app store.

Frosted Winter Theme

The Blue Ice Theme is a conservative design that could pass as a regular theme. However, the sparkly swipe animation is beautifully designed with blue ice in mind. The app is free and is available for download today from the Swiftkey theme app store.

Gift Wrap Green

The Elf Green festive theme is a nuanced design that incorporates Christmas imagery with a cool swipe animation with green sparkles. The theme is only available for iOS users. The theme is available right now from the Swiftkey app store.

Snowfall Theme

This is the fifth most popular Swiftkey theme download in 2016. This snowfall theme has a great USP. Each swipe renders a snowflake on the specific key chosen. The app is available freely from the Swiftkey theme store.

So, there you go… five of the best themes available and all free. All you need to do is download Swiftkey today and get that festive feeling whilst using one of the best keyboard apps available. Get online today and download from the Apple App Store or Google Play Store and get festive now!

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Black Friday – Mobile Deals Galore

Here at Compare and Recycle, we want to help you find the very best deals when it comes to buying new phones as well as getting the most out of your old mobile phones. So here we have a list three of the best places to find great deals on pay as you go, sim free and contract mobile phones when black Friday comes around.

Amazon

This list wouldn’t feel right without listing Amazon, they practically started the craze of Black Friday here in the UK, and in previous years have pushed their Amazon mobile and Kindles and etc, and this year it seems to be more focused on their home automation products.

But they do have a dedicated mobile phone black Friday page located here so keep checking to see the upcoming deals to see if there are any good deals in the pipeline. The deals at the moment are focused on the budget end of mobile phones, but there could be some decent savings to be had come the actual day.

GearBest

A China based online shopping site, that primarily deals in gadgets and electronics with direct connections to the Shenzhen factories. GearBest is one of the more reputable UK targeting companies operating out of China.

black-friday-gearbest

It has an easy to use website and is covered by the same safe secure web practices that all over reputable eCommerce websites abide by. The issues that you will find is that items do occasionally get lost in transit and a language barrier can cause some issues in the customer services department. However, they do have great deals and send hundreds of thousands of shipments to the UK on a daily basis.

They are also very big on Black Friday and with strong links with Xaomi, you can pick up a flagship phone for a discount price from the 24th of November. Xaomi are a popular brand in China and a product that will provide the same quality as competitors found in the UK.

Gearbest also have a dedicated smartphone section with some great deals located here.

Carphone Warehouse

If it’s deals on contract phones, then Carphone Warehouse have even released their deals a few days early and are all available now.

black-friday-carphonewarehouse

Carphone Warehouse are one of the high-street retailers that provides contracts and pay as you go mobile phones across most of the networks as well as sim-free mobile phones. The best deals from here include the slashing of up-front costs for some of the high-end mobiles.

So if you’re looking for a contract phone, Carphone Warehouse has the best deals for mobile contracts and they can be found on their black Friday page here.

 
cta-strip

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Best Horror Games for your iPhone

With Halloween just around the corner, we highlight some of the scariest iOS horror games available now.

Getting in the mood for some cheap scares or gut wrenching horror has never been easier and with the HD displays, great memory and processing speeds for the latest iPhones, these horror games are more frightening than you might realise.

Forgotten Memories: Alternate Realities  £4.49

With several nods to classic titles like Silent Hill and Resident Evil, Forgotten Memories is a beautifully atmospheric game that follows Rose, the games protagonist, in a search for a missing child. The challenging gameplay and amazing graphics makes for a solid game for fans of true survival horror games.

The Walking Dead – 1st Episode FREE

Fans of the TV show or comics will be aware of the genius behind the TellTale studios adaptions in the form of the game. But for everyone else, this episodic point and click game is a thoroughly enjoyable mini-series that follows a group of characters during the breakout of the zombie apocalypse.

Intuitive user interface, a riveting story and some of the most personable characters make the horror of the situation more relatable.

Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers – 1st Episode FREE

Our pick of the best horror adventure game on iOS goes to Gabriel Knight. This remastered edition of the original Sins of the Fathers mystery sees egotistical writer Gabe investigating a spate of voodoo murders in New Orleans, as inspiration for his new book. A creepy plot, well-crafted characters and one sublime use of colourful language add up to a sinister yet enjoyable adventure.

The School: White Day – £4.99

There are few worse places to find yourself trapped in overnight than a creepy school filled with bloody terrifying ghosts and ghouls. Sadly that’s exactly what happens in The School: White Day, a remake of a terrifying 2001 PC game that sees you running for your life from those beastly apparitions. With seven endings to see, there’s plenty of reason to play this one over and over.

Adam Wolfe – £8.99

This dark horror mystery is set firmly in a world where the supernatural, cultists and demons all run amok over the city and your task as Adam Wolfe is to hunt down your long-lost sister. It has fun, action packed set pieces, head scratching puzzles, interesting interrogation choices and a sinister and mature theme that lends itself well on the mobile screen.

Last Door: Collector’s Edition – £2.99

Very fun point and click adventure with a just right level of difficulty to keep you puzzled but not enough as to put off. The pixelated graphics are jarring at the beginning are quite quickly forgotten as more detail might have detracted from the quality and suspense of the game, but as you are sucked into the story and familiar control mechanics. Set in Victorian England, when Jeremiah Devitt receives a cryptic message from an old school friend, he knows something is wrong and sets out on his journey to investigate, “discovering things that man was not meant to know, and opening doors that should have remained closed”. As one of the cheaper options on the list, it’s worth checking out. It starts creepy and gets creepier throughout, fans of old classics like Monkey Island will LOVE this game.

Five Nights At Freddy’s – £2.29

Forget the comical and cuddly look of the characters, this game is full of jump scares and an intense difficulty that will break you a few times. But his incredibly well received game is a great concept and thoroughly enjoyable even in the sense of relief to get through the night shift.

You need to conserve power to keep you safe throughout the nightshift, checking on the mechanical toys at a kids party house. If that doesn’t scare you, it really should.

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Pssst! Some guy got the Google Pixel early!

Coming straight out of Australia, a lucky Reddit user appears to have been accidentally sent out Google Pixel a week early and has gone ahead and written about his experiences on the Android Reddit subreddit.

But apart from the official statistics, he provides some very interesting insight on camera focus time and actual usability on the phone. The user even provides pictures of what comes in the box;

Google Pixel in the box

 

Ambient display: This currently only lights the lockscreen up when a new notification is received. There is no facility to sneak peek the lock screen with 2 or 3 taps.

Assistant: It starts with the OK Google command from screen off but you have to be fairly loud and clear compared to activating when the screen is on.

Battery: Very basic and early stats. Taken following running both Geekbench4 and Antutu. Battery GSam/Settings

Boot animation: The coloured balls jump over each other.

Buttons: Satisfying clicks. The volume key has a bit rattly movement.

Carrier Bloatware: Nil. There is no indication on the box/phone or software that the device was sold through an exclusive carrier (in this case Telstra)

Camera: Using FV5 and shutter priority the longest exposure is 0.6″ (seconds)

Autofocus

Earphones: The included phones are noise-isolating with silicone tips. 2 spare tips in the box. I’m not audiophile so take assessments with grain of salt. They are clear, even at maximum volume, you could share music between 2 or 3 people just holding them between ears – but you have a phone speaker for that sooo… While they are clear, they do sound hollow, with better highs than bass. I can’t detect any hissing when music or audio is paused.

Encryption: on by default.

Magnetic back: No, and I recommend not trying it in case your phone throws a mild tantrum like mine may have.

Maps/Compass: The direction cue on Maps is MUCH more accurate than my N5 ever was. I’m sitting inside and the delay between a spin of the phone and the cue catching up with accuracy is 0.5s

Photos backup: It automatically recognises photos that were taken while owning a Pixel and uploads in full resolution. There’s a little note in the “backup + Sync” setting in the Photos app

Pre-installed apps: So all of those types of apps – Allo, Duo and many of the other “extra” Google apps aren’t pre-installed. When setting up the phone it gives you a list of apps you might want with a check-box, these being among them

Power options: Shutdown and Restart

Ringtones: all new. Lost my favourite message and call tone.

Storage: 32GB model. 29.7GB available according to settings>storage

Pixel vs Pixel XL

Should you be interested in the Pixel XL the official statistics are as follows;

Feature Pixel Pixel XL
Size 5” 5.5”
Colours Quite Black and Very Silver Quite Black and Very Silver
Camera 12MP 12MP
Operating system Android 7.1 (Nougat) Android 7.1 (Nougat)
Storage 32GB or 128GB with unlimited cloud photo storage 32GB or 128GB with unlimited cloud photo storage
Battery life Up to 7 hours with a 15-minute charge Up to 7 hours with a 15-minute charge
Cost £599 and £699 £719 and £819

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Stop using your Samsung Galaxy Note 7 IMMEDIATELY

Samsung issued an alert on Monday, asking owners of Galaxy Note 7 smartphones to immediately turn them off because of continued malfunctions.

There has been a complete suspension of sales of the Galaxy Note 7 from all major networks. And, in a statement from Samsung, they recommend turning the handset off and not using it.

Customers who have the Galaxy Note 7 device can replace it with a new device based on local availability and to call their place of purchase as soon as possible.

Samsung are starting investigations as to why the incidents are occurring but as a precautionary measure, urging everyone that has the first or second edition to power down the phones and return them to the place of purchase for a refund or an exchange for another Samsung product.

It appears as though Samsung were really keen to get the Note 7 out before the iPhone, but it appears it has cost the ultimate price. We’re sure Samsung will recover, by taking their time to introduce better phones, but they are going to be in a state of damage control for the run in to Christmas and this is likely to harm their brand image for some time.

Samsung has also updated its recall page with the most recent information regarding where to return your devices.

Recyclers are offering great prices you to sell your Samsung Galaxy phones if you are keen on trading in the Galaxy S5 or Galaxy S6.

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Google Reveal the Pixel

The live event was held last night on Tuesday the 5th of October. Launching the Pixel, the new phone by Google (amongst many other interesting new tech). Here we have a run down of the specification of the new phone, but first, watch the video;

Impressive, if a little condescending towards the iPhone, but a bit of healthy competition only ever pushes the industry forward.

In case you missed that full list at the end;

All metal unibody

2.5D Corning Gorilla Glass 4

Qualcomm Snapdragon 821

64Bit Quad-Core processor4GB LPDDR4 Ram

Amoled display 5.5″ QHD with 534ppi

5″ FHD with 441ppi

True Blacks

100000:1, super contrast ratio

16.77 Million Colours

12.3MP Camera

No Bump

1.55 micrometers large pixels

Optimized for low light photography

f/2.0 aperture

Smartburst

Fingerprint Sensor

Rear glass shade

Really Blue

Quite Black

Very Silver

Quick Switch Adapter

Android Nougat

(Phew)

But along with that, google were quite heavily promoting their Siri competitor, Google assistant, and with the latest advances in deep learning and the advances in the search engine, this could be a very powerful tool. We’ll keep you posted on how this works in the real world.

Google are also offering unlimited cloud storage for all your photos and videos with a brand new organisation and search function that will allow you to search your pics by face, place or things in them.

The price on the other hand is not so impressive, with a retail price expected to be around the $700 (around £600 for us here in the UK) this firmly puts the Pixel in the same bracket as the iPhone so the jury is still going to be out whether this price point reflects good value for money compared to the likes of the OnePlus or other flagship competitors.

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The Google Pixel – #MadeByGoogle

Whenever the new iPhone gets announced, it is never too long before the competitors weigh in with their latest addition to the next generation of smartphones. It’s hardly been a secret that Google will be announcing their latest range of technology, including their new phone range. So here is what we know;

 4th of October


Not much official has been released, but with this video it is now public knowledge that all will be revealed at an event in San Francisco on the 4th October to coincide with the release of the new operating system that will merge Android and ChromeOS, apparently called Andromeda.

Name change

Google have dropped the Nexus name and are now going with a new Pixel brand name, there are a lot of similarities, the name is still five letters long, has an ‘x’ in the middle and will be produced in a similar manner to the Nexus with HTC being the manufacturer and the model variations following suit of the predecessors;

Model Variations

Whilst it hasn’t been confirmed and there have only been leaks, there have been multiple sources that claim that there will be a difference in build and design between the HTC built Pixel and the Pixel XL.

pixel-xl

Specifications

The smaller of the two devices was codenamed Sailfish by Android Police back in June, with what looked like quite specific specification details. The report saud the phone would have 5 inch 1080p display, quad-core 2.0GHz 64-bit processor, 4GB of RAM, 32GB of storage and 2770mAh battery, dual cameras of 12MP at the back and 8MP on the front, headphone jack, USB-C, fingerprint scanner on the back. The XL variety, codenamed Marlin, will hold the same specifications except with a 5.5 inch display and a 3450mAh battery.

Other Event Reveals

It’s not just the phones that they are looking to launch at the event on the 4th of October, they will be looking to push newer version of the Chromecast dubbed Chromecast Ultra, Google Home, a VR headset, as well as the aforementioned Andromeda, so keep an eye on Youtube as the event is likely to be livestreamed, most likely on the website created specifically for this event at https://madeby.google.com/ .

Here at Compare and Recycle, we don’t expect the vendors to reduce their prices as dramatically as they do after the iPhone release so you may have time to read the initial reaction and reviews of this new Pixel range before committing.

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The Best iOS 10 Features

Apple is set for its biggest iOS release ever, which is anticipated to be the biggest revamp the operating system has seen since Apple completely overhauled their mobile design in 2013 with the release of iOS 7.

ios10

Here are some of the best features for the phones new operating system;

Voicemail transcriptions

Apple have released a feature that automatically transcribes an answering phone message. This was one of the expected features that was going to be introduced to the operating system but still comes as a welcome addition.

This is more of an addition to the visual voicemail feature that allowed users to listen to their messages within an application rather than having to dial a number.

Apps in iMessage

This has potential to be a great addition, allowing users to download applications for use within the iMessage app, allowing users to book tables, pay for food, send and receive money all from the application.

iMessage has been fairly neglected in the last few years, and as one of the most popular applications, the new updates despite being overdue, have the potential to improve the way we use the messaging.

Delete stock apps

Not just the “stocks” app, but all apps that come with the iPhone can now be removed. This comes as a great relief to the many number of people who constantly have to drag the unwanted apps to the bottom of the list. Nobody want’s bloatware and they can take up a sizeable proportion of the internal memory.

Tilt to wake

Getting the phone out of sleep mode has never been easier, checking the phone for notifications is no longer reliant on haptic pressure on the central button, you can now just tilt the phone, or pick it up and the screen will show your latest notifications.

TouchID now works so fast that you can’t check your notifications without unlocking the phone. This is going to be a very welcome addition to the phone, especially with the next addition;

Widgets

Applications are going to become a lot more useful to iPhone users without having to open them as widgets will now be able to place pretty much everywhere with the new operating system. Displays will make it to the lock screen, as the “slide to unlock” has been totally removed and you can only open an iPhone using TouchID.

These are just some of the new improvements made to the phones operating system, and should provide some much needed revolution to an operating system that wasn’t moving as fast as its competitors. They have also opened up Siri to developers so expect more integration and better functionality along with the already improved personal assistant app.

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iPhone 7 – Reasons to be Cheerful

Go back to 1998, the Apple conference where Steve Jobs first introduced the iMac, the first consumer focused personal computer was made for a pure web experience and Apple were quite ready to push ageing and old technologies under the bus, it signalled the end of the famous and industry standard floppy disk and signalled the beginning of the USB. This was the first indication of what was to come, a company that was not going to stand by and let old technology dictate how consumer electronics were designed and innovation followed.

Move forward another 15 years, 2013 and Apple come under fire once again, opting for a slimmer, sleeker design in place of removing the optical drive completely. There was a backlash, some would say greater than the one felt in 1998, saying that the CD drive was a necessity, with CD’s not looking to go away and even being pushed forward with Blu-ray, but disks are slowly going the way of the floppy, too small to hold any meaningful amount of data (in todays high bandwidth, big data society) and too flimsy and breakable to be trusted with important data. Thus we move to the cloud and stick with the ever expanding USB technology.

Now, in 2016, we find ourselves at an even harder to swallow crossroads, once again Apple has dropped a staple technology, the 3.5mm audio jack was released in 1964 and became very popular when it was the connector used on the Sony Walkman in 1979.

Not the first to drop the headphone jack

The headphone jack is obviously ubiquitous but let’s not forget, the Sony Ericcson dropped the headphone jack for a number of years, a special audio jack adaptor to fit into their two prong, multi pin, plug at the bottom of their phone was provided with every phone.

This didn’t cause too much of an uproar at the time, because phones were primarily texting and calling devices and music was reserved for standalone mp3 players. But they were great phones at the time and whilst the technology for wireless wasn’t there yet, we still used non 3.5 jack connectors and adaptor before.

sony-erricsson-adaptor

Staying wired in

It is clear that there will be no shortage of accessories and peripherals that will add the capability to listen to music and charge your phone at the same time. Apple has only mentioned the two that will be included in with the phone as the lightening port headphones, and the lightening port to 3.5mm audio adaptor.

All in all, it is not likely to be as jarring as many commentators are predicting, the fact that we have been buying and using adaptors and peripherals for a long time and shifting our buying patterns accordingly.

The advantages of the lightening port

It is no secret that the lightening port is far more likely to produce a better sound than the mediocre circuitry behind Apples headphone jack. Not only this, the lightening port is a powered port, so this will allow headphone designers more freedom to user higher quality audio chips that might be larger and use more power, without having to sacrifice space to be battery powered.

The advancement of active noise cancelling headphones will be readily received if it means they are lighter, better looking and run off the power of the phone itself.

Removing the wire

Whilst you are still going to be able to listen to your music through wired headphones, the future of music, as stated by Apple, is wireless, and with it came the introduction of the AirPods. The brand new, completely wireless headphones, that have caused a bit of a rawkus. You will no doubt have heard plenty opinions on the wireless headphones, maybe even a little ridicule toward the “courage” statement.

w1-chip

Technically brilliant

There is no disputing the fact that the technology behind the headphones is fantastic and the W1 chip that runs the headphones, with its simple connectivity to the nearby phone and the low power consumption Bluetooth will revolutionise the way we listen to music from our mobile device and there are some real advantages in ditching the headphone jack that might take a bit of time to get realised.

So whilst we are in the limbo of only having the details from the conference to work off, we have to wait for the iPhone 7 to be released to actually find out how it functions in our day to day lives.

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Apple Expected to Reveal New iPhone

Apple is holding a press conference today which is due to start at 6pm. Where they are likely to unveil the new iPhone, iOS 10 and macOS Sierra, and maybe a few more details about the new Macbook Pro.

apple-invite

You can watch the conference live on the Apple events section on their website. Be wary though as the feed will only work in Safari and Microsoft Edge.

If you are looking to trade in your old iPhone, make sure that you register before the event as we traditionally see recycling values drop by 30% after the new phone is announced. Head over to our iPhone section now to book your price in before it drops.

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