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Galaxy Fold delay, day 35: Samsung’s foldable phone may not sell in June after all – CNET

 It’s been more than a month since Samsung pulled its planned sale of the Galaxy Fold, the first foldable phone by any major brand, which was slated to go on sale April 26. The company delayed its $1,980 luxury device on April 22, but the Galaxy Fold’s future is anything but clear. Best Buy recently canceled its Fold…

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Galaxy Fold delay, day 35: Samsung’s foldable phone may not sell in June after all     – CNET

 It’s been more than a month since Samsung pulled its planned sale of the Galaxy Fold, the first foldable phone by any major brand, which was slated to go on sale April 26. The company delayed its $1,980 luxury device on April 22, but the Galaxy Fold’s future is anything but clear. Best Buy recently canceled its Fold preorder sales, casting doubt on Samsung’s ability to ship its foldable device in June, a timeframe suggested by an email AT&T sent in April to its preorder customers. Despite reports that Samsung has found a fix to the screen breaks, flickering and bulges beneath the screen — and the assurance from mobile chief DJ Koh that the Fold’s US launch “will not be too late” — the company has yet to announce a new sale date or rollout plan.
Samsung’s relative silence has allowed it to work on Fold fixes behind the scenes while Android rival Huawei’s bad luck eclipses its own. Huawei, the world’s second-largest phone maker behind Samsung, faces a profound threat to its business as a cascade of companies ban it after President Trump signed an executive order naming Huawei as a “foreign adversary.” Even with its Galaxy Fold in trouble, Samsung has the most to gain from Huawei’s woes.
The last firm message from Samsung was an email telling preorder customers that it would automatically cancel their Galaxy Fold order by May 31 if they didn’t resubscribe. That means Samsung is asking for you to opt in again if you’re still interested, and won’t charge your credit card if you change your mind between now and the end of the month. 
Samsung says its Galaxy Fold is still coming.
Angela Lang/CNET
Meanwhile, Google support for Android on foldable phones is still full steam ahead (scroll down for more), which suggests that while phones that bend in half are on pause, plenty of work is still going into the concept of foldable phones. 
CNET’s Galaxy Fold screen remained undamaged during our review period.
Samsung, AT&T and T-Mobile did not respond to fresh requests for comment about the Fold’s timeline launch.
Well, this is awkward…
Samsung’s Galaxy Fold delay puts Samsung in an awkward position. As the world’s largest phone maker and the the first major brand to announce a foldable phone, Samsung’s reputation as an innovator is riding on the Fold, especially after such a spectacular unveiling on Feb. 20. 
However, since reports of the Fold’s screen issues emerged, enthusiasm for the Fold has faded, following Twitter and Reddit activity that cast blame on everyone from Samsung for rushing the Galaxy Fold to the reviewers themselves, two of whom hastened the meltdown of their review units by peeling off a plastic film it turns out they were never supposed to (the role of this layer was never clearly communicated to reviewers). 

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Samsung’s troubles underscore just how risky and fragile the concept of a foldable phone really is. Foldable phones represent a new type of device that’s meant to maximize screen size without expanding the overall size of the device. The tech giant wanted to lead the way, burnishing its reputation as an innovator in the phone’s transition to the next big thing. 
Until Samsung and other brands can allay buyers’ fears, the future of foldable phones hangs precariously in the balance. Intense criticism may hurt future sales and shake consumer confidence in the concept of foldable phones in general. 
The Galaxy Fold’s chance to lead the emerging category could come under fire if buyers turn their backs on the innovative design, or opt for a rival model such as Huawei’s Mate X, TCL’s upcoming designs or a rumored foldable phone like the Motorola Razr.
Read: Galaxy Fold “loss” could be Mate X’s and foldable Motorola Razr’s gain

What’s going on with this Galaxy Fold delay?
Samsung still hasn’t said when the Galaxy Fold will be ready to go on sale in the US, but AT&T emailed its preorder customers with a new shipping date of June 13, though we don’t know if this was a placeholder date or a firm commitment. T-Mobile and Samsung didn’t share any more details when we asked — neither did AT&T.
Samsung had initially promised to provide more information to preorders after two weeks. It did, but without a real timeline. The company did give preorders a choice to renew their subscription or cancel their Fold orders. If the Galaxy Fold doesn’t ship by May 31 and the order wasn’t renewed, Samsung will automatically cancel it. Samsung won’t charge you until the phone is in the mail.
Here’s Samsung’s email:

Screenshot by Jessica Dolcourt/CNET
What happened to the Fold review units in the first place?
Photos of the damaged phones ranged from a fully blacked-out screen to a bubbled device, and one with a portion of the screen white and the other half blacked out. That leaves curious buyers and those who preordered the phone waiting for answers: What went wrong? Will this affect all Folds or just this early run? Where can buyers turn if something happens to their Fold?
The Fold has a horizontal clamshell design, where hard glass halves close like a book to protect a tender 7.3-inch plastic display inside. Samsung even includes a case in the Galaxy Fold box as extra armor for the glass exterior, in case you drop the phone.
There may be a specific reason that some of the phones came to harm. Two reviewers experienced a total screen failure when they removed a thin plastic film that runs along the Galaxy Fold’s screen. There’s a narrow gap between this film and the bezel-edge of the display, which has led to confusion about the nature of the film. 

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It isn’t immediately obvious if the plastic layer belongs to the phone or if it’s the film you commonly see on devices to keep screens smudge- and lint-free during shipping and storage.
Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman found out the hard way that the latter wasn’t the case. He tweeted this about his review unit last week: “The screen on my Galaxy Fold review unit is completely broken and unusable just two days in. Hard to know if this is widespread or not.”
YouTube reviewer Marques “MKBHD” Brownlee had a similar experience after peeling the layer off his Galaxy Fold review unit. 

PSA: There’s a layer that appears to be a screen protector on the Galaxy Fold’s display. It’s NOT a screen protector. Do NOT remove it.
I got this far peeling it off before the display spazzed and blacked out. Started over with a replacement. pic.twitter.com/ZhEG2Bqulr— Marques Brownlee (@MKBHD) April 17, 2019

“PSA: There’s a layer that appears to be a screen protector on the Galaxy Fold’s display,” he tweeted. “It’s NOT a screen protector. Do NOT remove it.”
But the protective film isn’t the only source of Samsung’s early troubles. CNBC’s Todd Haselton experienced screen flickering on the left side of his review device. The Verge’s Dieter Bohn also had issues, with Bohn’s screen forming a bulge beneath the surface. On Tuesday, YouTube reviewer Michael “Mr. Mobile” Fisher also found a bump beneath his Galaxy Fold screen.
Read: The Galaxy Fold can’t have this one useful thing
These reports of a faulty Galaxy Fold are a nightmare situation for Samsung, the first major brand to sell a foldable phone. The Fold — which has a 4.6-inch screen on the outside, a bendable 7.3-inch screen on the inside and a nearly $2,000 price tag — is a major risk for the tech giant.

Should I be worried?
While the reported problems make the affected Galaxy Fold unusable, they’re not dangerous, unlike the ill-fated Galaxy Note 7, which was found to overheat and sometimes catch fire.
What is Samsung doing to fix the problem?

We’re aware that Samsung is doing three things:

Investigating broken devices.
Reinforcing the inner plastic screens for final production units.
Clarifying packaging to communicate with Fold owners not to peel off a protective screen layer.

Samsung said in a statement, “We will take measures to strengthen the display protection. We will also enhance the guidance on care and use of the display including the protective layer so that our customers get the most out of their Galaxy Fold.”

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In addition, we’ve asked Samsung what it thinks happened, if buyers can feel assured that their Folds won’t break, and how Samsung will make it clear what future Fold owners should and shouldn’t do to protect their phones.
So far Samsung hasn’t addressed these specific questions, but has said that Fold owners should contact Samsung customer care (1-800-SAMSUNG) if they experience any problems. We hope to get a few more details before the foldable devices go on sale. 
Read: Sucking up to buyers might be Samsung’s best way out of this Galaxy Fold mess
What does this Fold incident mean for Google Android support?
Google’s support for the category of foldable phones is unwavering. At its annual Google I/O conference on May 7, Google’s Senior Android Director, Stephanie Saad Cuthbertson, said that foldable phones “open up a complete new category which, though early, might just change the future of mobile computing.” 
Android Q, the upcoming refresh of Google’s mobile operating system, will focus on App Continuity, the software that helps phones like the Galaxy Fold quickly move an active app from one screen and orientation to another, say from a small screen on the outside to a larger screen on the inside and back again, without missing a beat. Since developers don’t typically make their apps for foldable screens, standardized developer tools and best practices will help make these apps work better on foldable screens. 
Google’s ongoing role here suggests that the Fold’s issues are a pothole, rather than a roadblock, on the path to foldable phone designs.

What is this film layer thingamajiggy everyone’s talking about?   

Let’s address the film layer first. I had received my review unit on Monday morning, then shot an unboxing video, and worried that I had forgotten to take off this plastic layer — what would the YouTube viewers say?! 
Turns out, what looks like a paper-thin sheet of plastic covering the foldable phone’s 7.3-inch display is a protective layer that’s crucial to helping keep the phone damage-free.
You can see the edges of that layer here, on my review unit:
Look closely and you can see a thin line hugging the screen just beyond the bezel. This is the protective layer that Samsung wants to remain firmly in place.
Angela Lang/CNET
OK, so now we’re clear: Whatever you do, don’t peel back this film. It’s part of the screen and bad things happen when you remove it.
But again, the protective layer isn’t the whole story, because two other reviewers, Haselton and Bohn, said that they didn’t remove the film, and still had problems that rendered the Fold unusable. So what’s going on?
What’s the deal with the Galaxy Fold’s screen?
The Galaxy Fold has a completely different screen setup than any other phone. There’s a 4.6-inch display on the outside that’s covered with Gorilla Glass — that’s the same as other Galaxy phones like the S10 and S10 Plus ($885 at Amazon). But inside, the screen is made of a plastic (polymer) material that Samsung calls its Infinity Flex Display.
Samsung created this with a new process and specific adhesives to withstand the screen’s bending and flexing without breaking. The screen protector layer is meant to remain in place to prevent damage to the display below — that’s the thing that actually makes your “screen” light up. Without the hardness of glass to cover the delicate display, the Fold is more vulnerable, something that’s become vividly apparent.
What it’s like to watch Netflix on the Galaxy Fold
Angela Lang/CNET
Is there something different about the review phones?
Yes. Reviewers received early production models. That means these aren’t the final review units, and could be prone to certain issues that Samsung might have the opportunity to fix before the Fold reaches buyers’ hands.
For example, I was told that my review unit is an unlocked European version that doesn’t support US services like Bixby Voice, Samsung Health and Samsung Pay. Likewise, I was warned that call quality might be compromised because the phone isn’t optimized to US bands.
While I’m fully testing this review unit of the Galaxy Fold, I am withholding a rating until I receive the final production model CNET ordered.

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Did Samsung say you’re not supposed to remove the film?
It isn’t clear if Samsung thoroughly briefed every reviewer who received a phone about the screen protector layer. There was no instruction in my box — no literature at all, in fact — but also no other indication, like a pull tab, that you should remove it.
I almost did anyway. As a reviewer, I like to experience the phone as “clean” as possible. That means everything I can peel off is going to come off. I emailed Samsung for more information about this layer on Tuesday. A spokesperson responded, “Galaxy Fold is manufactured with a special protective layer. It is not a screen protector — do not attempt to remove it.”

100% did the same exact thing and the inside screen spazzed. There should be a PSA or writing in the box.— Marques Brownlee (@MKBHD) April 17, 2019

The company further elaborated its position:
“A few reviewers reported having removed the top layer of the display causing damage to the screen. The main display on the Galaxy Fold features a top protective layer, which is part of the display structure designed to protect the screen from unintended scratches. Removing the protective layer or adding adhesives to the main display may cause damage. We will ensure this information is clearly delivered to our customers.”
Samsung added this statement as well: 
“The protective layer is part of the display structure designed to protect the screen from unintended scratches. The main display of the Galaxy Fold is made with a new, advanced polymer layer and adhesive that’s flexible and tough enough to endure repeated folding actions. Because the main display is made with polymer, the extra protective layer is in place to guard against impact. It’s built into the display which is why it should not be removed by force. Consumers who notice that the protective layer is not integrated on the display should contact Samsung customer care at 1-800-SAMSUNG as soon as possible to avoid any additional damage to the display.”
Desmond Smith, director of creative content and a tech evangelist at T-Mobile, tweeted that the carrier’s final production models will come with a warning on the wrap that goes over the Galaxy Fold’s screen:

But peeling off the Fold’s screen layer isn’t the only issue 
While removing the plastic film caused a problem for some, it isn’t entirely clear what the protective film does or how its removal relates to the screen’s behavior. Remember that two of the reviewers kept the protector on. Bohn and Fisher suspect that a piece of dust or debris may have become lodged under the screen to create the bulge he felt, and a slight distortion on the Fold’s surface.
Haselton, meanwhile, observed a persistent screen flicker over the left half of the screen. We know that two batteries, one on each side, work in concert to form a single power source. I’m not an electrical or chemical engineer, but I wonder if that could indicate a battery issue. Hopefully we’ll all find out one way or another.
At any rate, the Galaxy Fold’s risky design has created some inconsistencies that could damage its early production phones and its reputation.

The phone comes with this protective layer/film. Samsung says you are not supposed to remove it. I removed it, not knowing you’re not supposed to (consumers won’t know either). It appeared removable in the left corner, so I took it off. I believe this contributed to the problem. pic.twitter.com/fU646D2zpY— Mark Gurman (@markgurman) April 17, 2019

Why are bendable screens made of plastic in the first place?
Right now, glass doesn’t bend so well. That’s something that Corning — the maker of Gorilla Glass, which covers most high-end phones — is working on. Don’t expect bendable glass to save second-gen foldable phones, though. It won’t be ready for some time.
Anything else?
Unfortunately there isn’t much more we know or can do at this point, other than wait. CNET is keeping a close eye on he story and will continue to update you with further developments.

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Originally published April 17, 2019. Updated most recently May 31 at 7:05 a.m. PT: Adds more detail.

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Android vs. iPhone: 6 stellar features Apple fans wish their phones had – CNET

Android phones have some features that might make iPhone owners jealous. Sarah Tew/CNET With the release of iOS 14, Apple added several features that Android owners can no longer claim as bragging rights. For example, the iPhone now has picture-in-picture capabilities so you can watch a video and keep using your phone. Not to be…

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Android vs. iPhone: 6 stellar features Apple fans wish their phones had     – CNET

Android phones have some features that might make iPhone owners jealous.
Sarah Tew/CNET
With the release of iOS 14, Apple added several features that Android owners can no longer claim as bragging rights. For example, the iPhone now has picture-in-picture capabilities so you can watch a video and keep using your phone. Not to be outdone any longer, Apple added home screen widgets and the ability to customize app icons. Oh, and there’s even an app drawer now, called App Library. It’s unclear of the iPhone 12’s MagSafe feature is a benefit over Android, but we’re starting to warm up to it. Despite Android 11 adding new features like Quick Controls or a built-in screen recording tool, the update didn’t really add anything iPhone owners don’t already have access to. Nonetheless, Android users still have plenty of bragging rights over iPhone users. From being able to use two apps at the same time to Google Assistant and more customization options are, for now at least, some of the features Android owners can claim as their own.

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Below are 6 things Android still does better than the iPhone. Facts. Don’t worry, though. I’ve also given Android the same treatment by highlighting what the iPhone does better. Also facts.

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Surprising Android tricks an iPhone can’t do

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Use the apps you want, not the apps Google wants you to use Yeah, yeah, yeah. Apple added the ability to set your default app for email or web browsing in iOS 14, but that’s it. Google has given Android users the ability to set their default apps for a number of different tasks. Want to use a different app for text messaging than what came preinstalled? Do it. In fact, you should use Google Messages as your default app for its sweet chat features that are getting closer to being an iMessage equivalent. Finding the setting for default apps can take a little digging, but at least it’s there. 
Screenshots by Jason Cipriani/CNET
It isn’t hard to see which apps have been labeled as default on your Android device: Open the Settings app and go to Apps & notifications > Default apps. To change the defaults, select the app category, such as Phone app or Browser app and choose from the options.  Google Assistant is always ready for you. 
Jason Cipriani/CNET
Google Assistant for the win iPhone users have Siri, but Android gives you Google Assistant. Google Assistant is a much more sophisticated tool than Apple’s Siri for a slew of reasons, but the most important one is that it makes use of Google’s impressive database.  Google Assistant can understand common requests for businesses and names, plus it gets requests right more often than wrong. It also returns high-quality responses, drawing from Google Search, a tool that Siri doesn’t have access to. Google Assistant also tightly integrates with the phone’s other functions, to tell you when it’s time to leave for your next meeting and warn you that traffic will be heavy on the way home. If you have any Google Home or Nest Home smart speakers or other compatible devices, you can also use Assistant on your phone to control smart devices around your house like lights, outlets or your thermostat — even from afar. Split Screen is easy to use on an Android phone and increases the versatility of a phone. 
Jason Cipriani/CNET
And it’s built right into your Android device. “OK, Google” and “Hey, Google” are the two wake phrases. If you need help knowing what to ask, you can ask Google Assistant for a list of commands: “OK, Google, What can you do?” iPhone owners can also install the Google app to use Assistant, but it’s not built in and it’s not the default personal assistant.  Use two apps at once through split-screen mode Even though iPadOS supports using multiple apps at the same time, iOS 14 and the iPhone do not. Android users, however, have had split-screen apps since 2016 with the release of Android 7.0 Nougat. Using two apps is helpful if you’re trying to look up a contact’s phone number to send to someone on Facebook Messenger, or if you need to reference information in a document when composing an email. It’s unclear why Apple hasn’t added this feature to the iPhone yet, but perhaps it has something to do with the size of windows on the iPhone’s display as compared with the larger iPad ($275 at Back Market).  The easiest way to use split-screen mode is to open the multitasking view and tap on the app’s icon at the top of its multitasking card — it’s the same icon you use to launch the app from your home screen. Select Split screen from the list of options, then select the second app you want to have open at the same time. (These steps might vary depending on which Android phone you use. For example, Samsung phones have their own version of the interface.) Move icons around to arrange them, or delete them and only use the app drawer. 
Sarah Tew/CNET
You can adjust the size of each app by dragging the small handle between the two apps to expand or decrease how much space each app takes up. Read more: Best portable chargers and power banks to buy for Android in 2020   Customize your home screen just how you like it Apple’s approach to the home screen is still locked to placing all installed apps in a rigid grid, although you can now add widgets to the homescreen and mix up the overall look. However, the home screen on Android devices don’t follow a grid layout, allowing you to place apps anywhere you’d like. Both platforms let you make folders containing groups of apps. The benefit of Android’s approach is that you can customize the home screen by arranging app icons in any pattern of your choosing. The way your Android phone’s home screen looks is because of its launcher. But you’re not stuck with what comes preinstalled. 
Óscar Gutiérrez/CNET
You can use launchers to fully customize your phone Launchers are the epitome of Android customization. These apps let you completely change how you interact with the home screen, the app drawer and even the app icons on your phone. Using a launcher on your Android phone allows you to customize almost every aspect of how your phone looks and behaves, making your phone even more personal than it already is.  Launchers like Nova Launcher, Microsoft’s Launcher, Apex Launcher and Action Launcher all add their own twists and features to your Android phone. For example, another popular Android launcher, Evie, emphasizes using a search bar to quickly find and open apps, or anything else on your Android phone for that matter. It’s minimalism at its finest.  I recommend taking some time to research the various launchers, trying a couple of them and really customizing the look and feel of your phone. Just be forewarned: The deeper you dive into the world of launchers, the more time and energy you’re going to spend on tweaking your setup. It’s hard to imagine a world where Apple ever lets something like this happen for the iPhone, although it appears it is loosening its grip on how much iPhone users can change the look of their homescreen. The Wallpapers app is a must for any Android user. 
Jason Cipriani/CNET
Never get bored thanks to automatically changing wallpapers If taking the time to find and customize a launcher feels like a lot of work, there’s another way to make your Android phone constantly feel fresh and it’s yet another thing your iPhone friends can’t do — use Google’s Wallpapers app.  The Wallpapers app refreshes the wallpaper on your home screen and lock screen daily, without you having to do a thing.  There are several different categories of wallpaper styles to choose from. Pick your favorite and let the app take care of the rest. Personally, I like to use the geometric shapes category. The wallpapers are unique and colorful. Granted, the iPhone now has wallpapers you can pick from that change based on whether or not dark mode is activated. But even then, it’s still the same wallpaper two times a day. If you’re ready to switch to Android, or are looking to get more from the Android phone you already own, check out our list of the best Android phones of 2020. If you’re new to the OS, make sure to change these Android settings right away. Then after that, we have some helpful tips for using Android 10. 

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Best Black Friday router deals: Upgrade to mesh or Wi-Fi 6 at a holiday discount – CNET

This story is part of Holiday Gift Guide 2020, CNET’s gift picks with expert advice, reviews and recommendations for the latest tech gifts for you and your family. Holiday buying season is in full swing, with Black Friday  in full swing. It’s a good time to catch a deal on a new router, with all sorts…

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Best Black Friday router deals: Upgrade to mesh or Wi-Fi 6 at a holiday discount     – CNET

This story is part of Holiday Gift Guide 2020, CNET’s gift picks with expert advice, reviews and recommendations for the latest tech gifts for you and your family.

Holiday buying season is in full swing, with Black Friday  in full swing. It’s a good time to catch a deal on a new router, with all sorts of new mesh options on the market, as well as new routers that support Wi-Fi 6, the newest and fastest version of Wi-Fi. With most of us doing our best to stay home as much as possible, having the right router quarterbacking your home network can make a world of difference. If a new router sits on top of your shopping list, bookmark this post — I’ll be updating it regularly through Black Friday, Cyber Monday and beyond with all of the best home networking deals we’ve spotted across the web. With the big Friday still a day away, we’ve already got a couple of early-bird deals worth checking out, so take a look.

Black Friday 2020 sales and deals

Deals live now

Tyler Lizenby/CNET

It’s still expensive, but you can currently save $50 on a two-piece Netgear Orbi AX6000 mesh router setup, bringing the cost down from $700 to $650. With full support for Wi-Fi 6, a triband design with an extra 5GHz band for system transmissions, and a WAN port capable of accepting incoming wired speeds as high as 2.5Gbps, the AX6000 is Netgear’s fanciest Orbi system — and it remains the fastest, best-performing mesh router we’ve ever tested. Netgear tells me this deal will be live through Nov. 30, which is Cyber Monday. I might hold off on clicking the buy button to see if a better Orbi offer emerges by Black Friday, but I haven’t heard of any other AX6000 deals just yet. At any rate, if you’ve been waiting for a sale on the fastest, most reliable mesh system we’ve ever tested, this is the week.Meanwhile, if you need more than one range-extending satellite to cover a large home, you might consider the AX4200 version of Orbi. It isn’t quite as fast as the AX6000 version, but it’s still a tri-band mesh router with full support for Wi-Fi 6. And hey, wouldn’t you know it, Netgear is currently offering a four-pack with the main router and three extenders for $660, which is $90 less than usual.

Read our Netgear Orbi AX6000 review.

Chris Monroe/CNET

It doesn’t support Wi-Fi 6, but the Nest Wifi mesh router still punches well above its weight with stable, reliable performance and enough advanced features to feel like an upgrade. The system’s main router is the slightly bigger device on the left in the image above, and it’ll work on its own without any of the range-extending Nest Wifi Point smart speakers. It usually costs $169, but this week, Google is offering it up for $139. That’s not a bad deal, but if you’re starting from scratch, you’re better off just getting the two-pack with the router and one extender at the normal $269 combo price (those extenders cost $150 on their own). However, if you use the first-gen Google Wifi mesh system in your home, you can swap in the Nest Wifi router and use it with your first-gen Google Wifi extenders for faster speeds and better performance.

Read our Nest Wifi review.

Chris Monroe/CNET

Here’s another Nest Wifi deal, this time from Buydig: a two-pack of Nest Wifi routers for $219, plus two free Deco Gear smart plugs once you add the deal to your cart.A few things to know here. First, the Nest Wifi router is the central brain of the Nest Wifi mesh, and it doesn’t include a built-in Google Assistant smart speaker like the range-extending Nest Wifi Points. That said, you can use a second Nest Wifi router as a range extender, too, so this deal is basically the same thing as the Nest Wifi two-pack which usually costs $269. You’re just replacing the range extender with a second router. That means you’re losing the built-in Google Assistant voice controls, but you also might see slightly better performance (the router is a bit stronger than the range extender). As for the smart plugs, I’m not familiar with Deco Gear and we haven’t tested their stuff out, but they claim to work with both Alexa and the Google Assistant. If you already use either of those voice assistants, then this deal just got a little bit better.

Read our Nest Wifi review.

Amazon

Eero Pro 6 is the fancier version of Amazon’s new Wi-Fi 6 mesh router, and it adds in faster speeds and an additional 5GHz band to help improve system performance. It tested well, and offers a lot of value even at full price, with a $599 three-pack that’s $400 less than the comparable Netgear Orbi AX6000 setup. Now, for Black Friday week, Amazon has that three-pack marked all the way down to $479, which is about as good a price as I’ve ever seen for a three-piece, triband mesh router that supports Wi-Fi 6. It’s back-ordered until Dec. 18, so you’ll need to wait a couple of weeks for it to arrive, but the deal is live now and Amazon is taking orders.

Read our Eero Pro 6 review.

Chris Monroe/CNET

It’s not the newest version of Eero that supports Wi-Fi 6, but last year’s Eero mesh router tested well at the CNET Smart Home, and you can nab a three-piece setup for just $174 on Amazon right now, saving you $75. Meanwhile, that newer version of Eero is on sale, too (it’s called Eero 6), but it wasn’t as reliable in my tests as last year’s version, so read my review before making a purchase.

Read our Eero (2019) review.

TP-Link

The Archer AX20 is one of TP-Link’s entry-level Wi-Fi 6 routers. With a dual-band design and AX1800 speeds, it isn’t going to be a game-changer for your entire home network, but it’ll still help you notch slightly faster Wi-Fi performance from any Wi-Fi 6 devices you might own, which might make it a sensible upgrade for anyone who just bought a new iPhone. The router usually sells for $130, but TP-Link has it marked down to $100 as an early special for Black Friday week.

TP-Link

This TP-Link mesh router is basically the exact same thing as Amazon’s Eero 6, at least as far as specs are concerned. Both are dual-band AX1800 systems that support Wi-Fi 6, and both three-packs typically sell for $270. But right now, you can grab TP-Link’s system for $230, which saves you $40.Don’t care about Wi-Fi 6? The TP-Link Deco M5 system is last year’s Wi-Fi 5 model — that three-piece system usually costs $170, but it’s available right now for $150, saving you a cool $20.

Deals coming soon

Netgear

The usual starting price for this high-speed Wi-Fi 6 router is $300, which is admittedly pretty steep for a dual-band model that doesn’t have an extra 5GHz band. Sit tight, though, because on Saturday, Nov. 28 (the day after Black Friday), Best Buy will have it marked down by 50% to a sale price of $150. That’s a pretty darned good deal for a router capable of hitting top speeds as high as 4.8Gbps.

Linksys

If you’re not looking for a router upgrade, and instead, just want a good deal on something simple and functional, then you might consider the Linksys EA6350. It’s a pretty basic Wi-Fi 5 router, but it’ll get the job done for browsing and light streaming. Starting on Saturday, Nov. 28 (again, that’s the day after Black Friday), Best Buy will offer it for $55, which is $15 less than the current sale price and $35 less than the usual retail price.

Expired deals These offers appear to be over or out of stock — we’ll keep an eye on them and update this post if that changes.

Netgear

It doesn’t support Wi-Fi 6, but the AC1200 version of the Netgear Orbi is still a solid and dependable mesh router, and it impressed us with surprisingly strong signal strength when we tested it out at the CNET Smart Home. Back then, I called the two-piece version of this system a terrific value at $129 — now, as an early Black Friday special at Walmart, you can get the three-piece version with an extra range extender for just $99.A three-piece mesh system like this one is the best way to cover a large-size home with a steady, reliable Wi-Fi connection, and $99 is as low a price as you’ll ever see for a well-reviewed, name-brand option like this one. If your home Wi-Fi network has a lot of ground to cover and you’re sick of dead zones, then this is a deal worth pouncing on. Note this is appearing out of stock to some CNET staff, but not others, so availability (and maybe price) may depend on your location.

Read our Netgear Orbi AC1200 review.

Linksys

I haven’t reviewed this particular model, but one of my CNET predecessors on the Wi-Fi beat was a fan of an earlier version of it back in 2017, calling it “a just-right router for small homes.” This one, the Linksys MR8300, is nearly identical to that one — an AC2200 router with four antennas and two 5GHz bands. What’s best about it is the triband design, and the fact that you can use it with other Linksys Max Stream devices to create your own mesh network. The extra 5GHz band will help keep speeds fast across your entire home should you choose to go that route. Now, ahead of Black Friday, you can get it for $30 off at Best Buy, where it boasts a review average of 4.6, with over 1,000 five-star reviews.

Amazon

Amazon-owned Eero released two new mesh routers this fall: the Eero 6 and the Eero Pro 6. Both include full support for Wi-Fi 6, but the Eero Pro 6 boasts faster top speeds and it adds a second 5GHz band for dedicated backhaul transmissions between the router and its range-extending satellites. That’s a key upgrade if you want your mesh router to make the most of Wi-Fi 6.The Eero Pro 6 isn’t cheap at $599 for a three-pack, but that’s less than you’ll spend for other high-end, triband mesh routers that support Wi-Fi 6, including our top picks such as the Asus ZenWiFi AX and the AX6000 version of Netgear Orbi. And, if you’re willing to wait a couple of extra days for delivery, Amazon will include a free Fire TV Cube for folks who purchase through the link below. That’s a leftover deal from Prime Day, but it’s a good offer for a mesh system that held up well in our tests.

Read our Eero Pro 6 review.

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Black Friday and Cyber Monday 2020

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Phones

Pixel 5 vs. iPhone 11: Which sub-$700 phone is better? – CNET

Available to buy now, Google’s Pixel 5 introduces many features that are new to the company’s phone brand, including 5G connectivity, an ultrawide-angle camera and a much larger, longer-lasting battery. The phone is currently on sale for $649, and it launched alongside the midtier Pixel 4A 5G, which costs $499 (£499, AU$799). Read more: Black Friday 2020 phone…

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Pixel 5 vs. iPhone 11: Which sub-$700 phone is better?     – CNET

Available to buy now, Google’s Pixel 5 introduces many features that are new to the company’s phone brand, including 5G connectivity, an ultrawide-angle camera and a much larger, longer-lasting battery. The phone is currently on sale for $649, and it launched alongside the midtier Pixel 4A 5G, which costs $499 (£499, AU$799). Read more: Black Friday 2020 phone dealsWhile the phone has notable updates compared with its predecessor, the Pixel 4, Google anticipates lower-than-usual Pixel 5 phone sales due to the coronavirus pandemic and is planning to produce only 800,000 units this year. It also faces stiff competition from one of the most popular phone-makers, Apple, and its iPhone 11. Though it’s been available since last September and Apple has already launched its sequel, the iPhone 12, the iPhone 11 is now cheaper. It starts at $599 (£599, AU$999) off contract, and is equipped with a fast processor and excellent cameras. It does not, however, have 5G. To see how these phones stack up, we took a closer look and compared them based on design, camera specs, hardware, software and other features. And for more info, check out CNET’s other comparisons, Pixel 5 vs. Pixel 4A 5G and Pixel 5 vs. iPhone 12.

Angela Lang/CNET

The Pixel 5 has a superb camera and a long-lasting battery, and is the obvious pick for anyone who wants to connect to a 5G network. It also starts with more internal storage (128GB) and its 90Hz display will keep the interface looking silky-smooth.

Read more about the Pixel 5’s new camera features.

Angela Lang/CNET

If you’re in the Apple and iOS ecosystem, the iPhone 11 is the more fitting candidate. You’ll also get an outstanding camera, especially for video recording, and a powerful A13 Bionic processor that outperformed the Pixel 5 in benchmark tests. And now that the iPhone 12 is out, it’s $100 cheaper than when it first launched.

Read our Apple iPhone 11 review.

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Design: Pixel 5’s natural aesthetics vs. iPhone 11’s glossy looks When Google designed the Pixel 5, it set out to give the phone a natural feel, reminiscent of a pebble. And with the phone’s matte texture, aluminum and glass encasing and soft, rounded corners, the Pixel 5 in green sports a minimalist, earthy look. It’s a direct contrast to the iPhone 11’s high-gloss, pop-art pastel-green design. Neither aesthetic is particularly better than the other, but those who want more options will appreciate the iPhone 11’s four other colors (yellow, purple, red and white) in addition to black and green. The iPhone 11 with iOS 14 widgets.
Óscar Gutiérrez/CNET
On the back of the Pixel 5 is the fingerprint reader that unlocks the phone and permits digital payments. The iPhone 11 uses facial recognition sensors in the front-facing camera for user authorization. Both phones have a 6-inch display (if you want to be exact, the iPhone 11 has a 6.1-inch display), they don’t have headphone jacks and they’re rated IP68 for water resistance.  On paper, the Pixel 5’s screen is sharper than the iPhone 11’s in terms of having a higher resolution and pixel density. The Pixel 5 also has an OLED screen while the iPhone 11 has an LCD. OLED displays are typically more vibrant, with richer contrast and inkier blacks. But you’ll only notice these differences if you look at the devices side by side, and by itself you’ll likely have no problems with the iPhone 11’s screen. What is a bit more obvious, however, is the Pixel 5’s 90Hz display. Most phones, like the iPhone 11, refresh at 60 frames per second. But having a 90Hz display on the Pixel means that scrolling through webpages and text feels much springier, smoother and more responsive.

Camera: Pixel 5 and iPhone 11 both have dual rear cameras Tweaking a photo using the Pixel’s Portrait light tool.
Lynn La/CNET
Both the Pixel 5 and the iPhone 11 have two rear cameras, optical image stabilization and special modes for low-light environments. The Pixel 5 has a standard and a wide-angle camera. The iPhone 11 has wide and ultrawide cameras, with the ultrawide camera having a slightly wider field of view than the Pixel 5 (120 degrees compared with 107 degrees).  Google added two new features to the Pixel 5’s camera. You can now enable dramatic, blurred portrait shots in Night Mode and you can adjust the lighting in your portraits too. While iPhones do have different lighting options for portraits, the feature in the Pixel works more like an editing tool than a broad filter effect. As for video, the Pixel 5 and iPhone 11 can record 4K video and supersmooth 1080p video at 240 frames per second. But the iPhone 11’s front-facing camera has more capabilities. It can capture 4K video and it can record slo-mo video (known as “slofies”) at 120fps. The highest video resolution on the Pixel 5’s front-facing shooter, on the other hand, is 1080p with no slo-mo options. Check out a few different shots below from the Pixel 4A 5G (which has the same camera as the Pixel 5) and the iPhone 11. Night Sight on the Pixel 4A 5G.
Lynn La/CNET
Night Mode on the iPhone 11.
Scott Stein/CNET
The wide-angle lens on the Pixel 4A 5G.
Lynn La/CNET
A wide-angle shot from the iPhone 11.
Scott Stein/CNET
A close-up image of a succulent on the Pixel 4A 5G.
Lynn La/CNET
A close-up picture of some fruit with the iPhone 11.
Scott Stein/CNET
Pixel 5’s long battery life vs. iPhone 11’s superfast processor The Pixel 5 and Pixel 4A 5G are Google’s first 5G phones and are capable of connecting to the next-gen network, which promises to be much faster than 4G. The iPhone 11 doesn’t have 5G, but the iPhone 12 does. The Pixel 5 is equipped with the Snapdragon 765G chipset from Qualcomm, while the iPhone 11 features Apple’s A13 Bionic processor. Google’s choice of the 765G chipset is an interesting one, as it’s not as fast as the Pixel 4’s Snapdragon 855. But Google said it went with the 765G to keep costs down. We didn’t notice any speed issues or lag during our time with the Pixel 5, but on benchmark tests, it did get lower scores on 3DMark and Geekbench 5 than the iPhone 11 did when we tested it last year. 3DMark Slingshot Unlimited

Note:
Longer bars indicate better performance

3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited

Note:
Longer bars indicate better performance

Geekbench v.5.0 single-core

Note:
Longer bars indicate better performance

Geekbench v.5.0 multicore

Note:
Longer bars indicate better performance

The Pixel 5 has 128GB of internal memory and 8GB of RAM. The iPhone 11 has three memory tiers, and if you want 128GB you’ll have to pay more at $649 (£649, AU$1,079). In the US, though, the iPhone 11 at 128GB is still cheaper than the Pixel 5, thanks to Apple lowering the price. Apple also doesn’t disclose the amount of RAM its iPhones have, but regulatory filings report that the iPhone 11 has 4GB of RAM. The Pixel 5.
Angela Lang/CNET
Neither phone has external storage options, but Google and Apple encourage users to upload and back up their photos and videos on their respective cloud services. Apple’s iCloud gives you 5GB for free and it costs $10 a month for 2TB. Google Photos users have unlimited storage for photos and video at “high” quality. But if you want to upload lots of content of “original” quality, which has a higher resolution, Google’s One cloud service gives you the first 15GB for free. If you want more, it will also cost you $10 a month for 2TB. Lastly, the Pixel 5 has a 4,000-mAh battery, the highest capacity of any Pixel phone to date. Apple doesn’t list battery specs, but unofficial third-party teardowns show the iPhone 11 has a 3,110-mAh battery. Battery tests on the Pixel 5 for continuous video playback in Airplane mode clocked in at 21 hours, 11 minutes. This is an excellent time, and longer than the iPhone 11, which lasted 15 hours, 24 minutes. With streaming video it clocked in at 13 hours, 52 minutes. We haven’t tested streaming video on the Pixel 5 yet, so stay tuned when we get those numbers.  Like the Galaxy S20 phones, the Pixel 5 also has reverse wireless charging. That means the phone can charge accessories, like the Pixel Buds 2, without any cables or plugs.

Discover the latest news and best reviews in smartphones and carriers from CNET’s mobile experts.

Software: Android 11 vs. iOS 14 Hold saves you from spending time listening to hold music.
Google
As always, when comparing phones from Apple and Google you’ll have to decide which OS works better for you: iOS or Android. Both phones have a dark mode and a digital search assistant (Siri and Google Assistant). And because the phones don’t have physical home buttons, their interfaces rely on swiping gestures to switch between apps. The Pixel 5 will run Android 11 out of the box. The latest mobile OS has useful features like Quick Control, chat bubbles, a native screen recorder and more. Hold For Me will also be previewed on the Pixel 5 and Pixel 4A 5G: When you’re put on hold, you can have Google Assistant do the waiting for you. This frees you from constantly needing to be near your phone or listening to crummy hold music. You’ll be alerted when the other line returns. The iPhone 11 has the latest iOS 14 software from Apple. It includes a more organized App Library, widgets to customize your home screen with, picture-in-picture and a native translation app.  Other features to consider: Both phones have dual-SIM: In addition to your regular nano-SIM, both phones use e-SIM technology that supports multiple phone numbers. This is useful if you want to keep your personal and work phone number on the same device. The iPhone 11 has Wi-Fi 6: Devices with Wi-Fi 6 speak that same Wi-Fi language to talk to each other, and compared with Wi-Fi 5, it’s faster and more battery-efficient. But Wi-Fi 6 was only certified in September 2019 and Wi-Fi 6 routers remain expensive. Instead of regarding it as an immediate benefit, think of Wi-Fi 6 as readying your phone for the future.  The iPhone 11 has a chip just for “spatial awareness”: Called U1, this new chip helps iPhones find other iPhones more precisely when they’re in close proximity. Apple says this improves AirDrop, but many believe the U1 chip is laying the groundwork for a long-rumored Apple Tile-like tracker. The iPhone 11.
Angela Lang/CNET
Pixel 5 and iPhone 11 specs

Google Pixel 5

iPhone 11

Display size, resolution

6-inch FHD+ OLED; 2,340×1,080 pixels

6.1-inch LCD; 1,792×828 pixels

Pixel density

432ppi

326ppi

Dimensions (inches)

5.7×2.8×0.3 in

5.94×2.98×0.33 in

Dimensions (millimeters)

144.7×70.4x8mm

150.9×75.7×8.3mm

Weight (ounces, grams)

5.33 oz; 151g

6.84 oz; 194g

Mobile software

Android 11

iOS 13

Camera

12.2-megapixel (standard), 16-megapixel (ultrawide)

12-megapixel (wide), 12-megapixel (ultrawide)

Front-facing camera

8-megapixel

12-megapixel

Video capture

4K

4K

Processor

Qualcomm Snapdragon 765G

Apple A13 Bionic

Storage

128GB

64GB, 128GB, 256GB

RAM

8GB

Not disclosed

Expandable storage

No

No

Battery

4,000 mAh

Not disclosed

Fingerprint sensor

Rear

None (Face ID)

Connector

USB-C

Lightning

Headphone jack

No

No

Special features

5G-enabled; water-resistant (IP68); 90Hz refresh rate display; dual-SIM capabilities (nano-SIM and e-SIM); reverse wireless charging; fast charging

Water-resistant (IP68); dual-SIM capabilities (nano-SIM and e-SIM); wireless charging

Price off-contract (USD)

$699

$599 (64GB), $649 (128GB), $749 (256GB)

Price (GBP)

£599

£599 (64GB), £649 (128GB), £749 (256GB)

Price (AUD)

AU$999

AU$999 (64GB), AU$1,079 (128GB), AU$1,249 (256GB)

*prices as of Oct. 14.

Apple iPhone 11Superfast and cheaper too

Google Pixel 5The 5G choice

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