About the Author

Ben Schoon


Ben is a tech geek with a soft spot for Android, Pixel/Nexus in particular. Constantly switching between devices that literally surround him, he can be found reviewing the latest smartphones on the 9to5Google YouTube channel and writing up the latest news. Ben also started a small publication called YourTechExplained, which still runs today. You can get in touch with him over on Twitter or by Email.


Ben Schoon's Favorite Gear


GOOG: 940.49


This Android experiment uses app shortcuts to make working train tracks on your homescreen

Android’s homescreen is one of the things I love most about it because you can make it your own and customize it however you want. The possibilities are endless and today I’m learning that you can apparently have a train running on your homescreen.

The beauty of Android is its versatility. You can spend hundreds on a smartphone and get something beautiful, fast, and up to anything you throw its way. Or, you can spend $100 and get something that gets the job done and nothing more. At the same time, you can also spend $20,000 on a phone if you want, but it seems hardly anyone has…

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When social media comes to mind you probably think about Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, or Instagram. The butt of the joke with social media, though, has long been Google+. You’ve probably heard dozens of times that it’s a “dead” platform, but six years later to the day it’s still chugging along.

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Everyone can use an Echo Dot: Just $50!


The Galaxy S8 is a gorgeous piece of hardware, but with lots of glass comes plenty of ways the phone can be damaged. While I’ll happily use something like the Pixel XL or Blackberry Keyone without a case, the Galaxy S8 basically requires one.

Many would argue, though, that wrapping such a beautiful piece of hardware with a cheap piece of plastic is just wrong, and I can absolutely understand that. Why not wrap your phone in something just as good-looking? That’s where Mujjo’s leather cases come into play…

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Samsung is fixing some of the Galaxy S8’s lag issues with a launcher update

I love the hardware of the S8, the display on the S8, and even the software on the S8, but there’s one thing that makes me cringe every time I pick it up — the performance. Despite packing some of the best specs on the market today, the Galaxy S8 has some serious lag issues. Thankfully, Samsung is at least doing something to remedy this problem.

When you finally get to your hotel after a long flight or drive, the only thing you probably want to do is lay back on the bed, flip on the TV, and watch one of your favorite shows. Traditionally you’d have to learn the new channel layout or fork over cash for on-demand services, but Dish wants to change that with a brand new Android TV-powered box designed for hotels.

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Putting a fingerprint sensor under the glass of a smartphone screen has always felt like something ripped out of a sci-fi movie. It’s something OEMs, especially in recent years, have been trying to crack the code on. Today, Qualcomm has revealed that it has figured it out and has a fingerprint sensor that works under the display.

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GOOG: 927.33


Google Assistant continues to expand to more products and it’s looking more and more like Chromebooks are the next stop for Google’s take on AI. Rumors hit the web early this year that Google would be making this move and now a Chromebook in development is giving us a lot more evidence that this is happening.

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After dealing with a ton of bad press last year with the Note 7 debacle, Samsung rose to the challenge and created one of its most successful and widely praised devices to date in the Galaxy S8. However, many fans continue to ask for the Note 7 to make a return and after months of rumors, it seems like that is finally going to happen.

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There are ‘no plans’ to bring the Honor 9 to the US

Even though most Honor smartphones get solid reviews to one extent or another, the Huawei sub-brand hasn’t seen any measurable success in the US, even causing some pretty major layoffs last year. Today the Honor 9 went official, and Honor has confirmed that it won’t be coming to the US…

We’re still a couple of months out from the return of the Samsung Galaxy Note lineup in the Galaxy Note 8, but the floodgates are finally starting to loosen up with some more information coming out. Last week we got an early description of the design, and today the first renders are coming out.

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Amazon’s Prime Exclusive program isn’t a stranger to bringing just-announced smartphones to the market, but it’s not often that we see phones go official for the first time through the program. That, however, is happening today. Amazon has just launched 5 new smartphones for the Prime Exclusive program including the unannounced Alcatel IDOL 5S.

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Huawei’s sub-brand Honor has brought us some stellar mid-range Android devices over the past couple years, and today the company is back with its latest release — the Honor 9. Following up on the Honor 8, the 9 is a visually similar phone which includes some key upgrades under the hood.

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Digital reality has been a big deal for the past couple of years, both virtual and augmented. Google has its foot in both of these areas, and for the longest time, I thought its AR development Tango was the more impressive. Then Apple showed off iOS 11 with ARKit

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June 26

GOOG: 952.27


The Nokia 6 lands in the US this July for $229 on Amazon

A few months after its initial announcement, Nokia has today finally revealed more information on bringing its first collection of Android smartphones to the United States, starting with the Nokia 6.


Amazon’s Echo is a powerful home assistant, especially thanks to its integration of hundreds of different skills. However, many were patiently waiting for Google to enter that field solely for the power that the company wields in search. Google Home has been available now for a while, but in general use, it can seem about the same as the Echo. Now, the two have been put to the test, and things went pretty much how you would have expected them to.

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June 23

GOOG: 965.59


There are a lot of core aspects that make up a good phone, and HTC’s latest U11 definitely nails those. However, when you’re going past that, you’re left with gimmicks. The biggest of those is headlined by the “Edge Sense” feature that performs actions when you physically squeeze your phone. Today, HTC is teasing a few more actions for Edge Sense that are coming to the U11 “soon.”

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Many people thought Samsung’s Galaxy Note 7 would be the end of that line, but it’s certainly looking strong for the Note 8 to debut later this year. We don’t know a ton about the upcoming device outside of it likely including an “Infinity Display,” but today we’re learning a few new details.

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The first Samsung Chromebook Plus ad highlights Android apps and offline use [Video]

One of the reasons some Chromebooks don’t sell well is the fact that they’re not super easy to market. Older Chromebooks were pretty standard pieces of hardware and software, so they didn’t stand out all that much. With the latest Chromebooks though, OEMs have a bit more muscle to flex, and Samsung is demonstrating that with the first Chromebook Plus ad.

June 22

GOOG: 957.09


Android Pay promo in Australia offering 200,000 prizes up to $500 a piece

Even though Android Pay isn’t available for everyone, Google is definitely making a serious effort to make it great for those who are able to use it. That has included dozens of promos over the past couple of years with the latest being available in Australia.

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