Andy Rubin gives us our first peek at Essential’s bezel-less smartphone [Updated]

Update: Eric Schmidt confirms that the Essential phone runs Android.

A report from January told us that the father-of-Android Andy Rubin’s hardware startup “Essential” has been working on a bezel-less smartphone for its first consumer product launch. Today, Rubin took to Twitter to provide our very first look at (just a tiny corner of) the forthcoming phone.

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Hilton says smartphone door unlocking used 11 million times without being hacked

A growing number of hotels are now allowing people to use their smartphone to unlock their doors. The Hilton hotel group, which first started experimenting with the technology three years ago, says that the security of the system is now firmly proven …

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Freedom 251 is a 4-inch Android smartphone with quad-core processor that costs less than $4

A smartphone has been announced in India which, unbelievably, costs the equivalent of just .66 USD. The Freedom 251 by Ringing Bell is an Android 5.1-powered smartphone with a 4-inch screen, and it’ll be available to order from tomorrow, Feb. 18. At this price, we’re pretty certain this is the cheapest smartphone available anywhere in the world.

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Here are the official specs for ZTE’s $199 crowdsourced ‘Hawkeye’ smartphone

Over the course of 2016, ZTE opened up Project CSX, an opportunity for the company to flip the way smartphones are made, giving the consumer control over the device’s unique features. After a few months of submissions, the community decided that a smartphone with eye-tracking capabilities and a self-adhesive back would be one of ZTE’s next phones, and at CES 2017, the company made that a reality in the form of the “Hawkeye.”

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ASUS reportedly planning to launch a Tango-ready ‘ZenFone AR’ smartphone at CES

Lenovo was the first manufacturer to launch a Google Tango-enabled smartphone (it became available publicly just a couple weeks ago, actually), but now it looks another OEM is about to enter the fray. According to a Digitimes post (which you should definitely take with a grain of salt, as usual), ASUS is planning to launch a Tango-enabled phone at CES early next year…

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New images reportedly show off BlackBerry’s last QWERTY Android smartphone

BlackBerry made its debut in the Android space just over a year ago (13 months tomorrow, in fact), but its efforts in the market haven’t been particularly successful. The BlackBerry Priv was a fantastic option and the DTEK50 and DTEK60 are solid, secure, affordable devices. Sales, though, aren’t all that impressive. That led to BlackBerry opting to pull itself out of the smartphone market entirely, but not without one more shot…

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You can once again use your Chromecast with a smartphone hotspot

A couple of months ago it was discovered that an update broke the ability to power a Chromecast with a smartphone’s hotspot. While that seems like a minor thing, it annoyed quite a few customers. Recently, an update to Google Play Services finally fixed this problem, restoring the ability to use Google’s streaming device on a hotspot. more…

Watch the unveiling of Honor’s latest smartphone here at 8PM PT [Livestream]

Update 8:19 PT: And it’s live. See below.

Update 8:07 PT: The livestream is supposed to be live, but it’s not.

As we first heard about back in July, Huawei-owned Honor is unveiling its latest smartphone tonight at an event in San Francisco, and we’ve just learned — a mere hour before the event is set to kick off — that the company will be livestreaming the announcement via Facebook Live…

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Petition to activate smartphone FM radios gains steam as carriers agree to flip the switch

A new report from CBC News details the progress being made to unlock the FM radio chip that many smartphones feature. Many smartphones have an untapped FM chip inside them that users are unable to take advantage of and while many Android devices are confirmed to have the chip, the iPhone also has despite Apple not officially recognizing it.

A petition has been running in the United States to urge carriers and manufacturers to unlock the hidden FM chip in smartphones. The campaign has gained significant steam since its inception, so much so that carriers are starting to agree to unlock the chip.

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9to5Toys Lunch Break: Aukey Smartphone Tripod $9, Transcend 64GB MicroSDXC $14, Acer 24″ 1080p Monitor $75, more

Keep up with the best gear and deals on the web by signing up for the 9to5Toys Newsletter. Also, be sure to check us out on: TwitterRSS FeedFacebookGoogle+ and Safari push notifications.

TODAY’S CAN’T MISS DEALS:

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Smartphone Accessories: Aukey Smartphone Tripod with Mount Prime shipped (Reg. ), more

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Get discounted Transcend memory and storage today only at Amazon: 256GB JetDrive Lite for MacBook Air 1, more

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Daily Deals: Acer 24-inch 1080p LED Monitor w/ HDMI , SanDisk Ultra 256GB USB 3.0 Flash Drive , more

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iOS/Mac Holiday App Sale Roundup: GO Trilogy, Oceanhorn, Bastion, many more

MORE NEW GEAR FROM TODAY:

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Invest in extra storage: Seagate Expansion 4TB USB 3.0 Portable Hard Drive 0 shipped (Reg. 0)

MORE DEALS STILL LIVE:

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Switch up your Apple Watch style w/ 30% off and free shipping on all Clockwork Synergy bands, 2-piece NATO (Reg )

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Anker discounts its best Lightning cables, power banks & USB chargers: deals start at Prime shipped

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Charge your iPhone 7 and listen to wired headphones at the same time w/ Apple’s Lightning dock: .50 shipped (Reg. )

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