First look: Inside SureFly’s two-person octocopter

In Manhattan’s Flatiron Plaza on Monday, children gawked and construction workers tiptoed in curiosity around transportation company Workhorse’s product showcase of two futuristic vehicles: the first electric pickup truck, and the Surefly octocopter drone.

Workhorse is a midwestern transportation company that specializes in electric trucks, particularly for commercial (not personal) use. It gained attention this past May when it achieved manned flight of its SureFly hybrid helicopter. With eight propellers that provide balance, it’s designed more like a drone than a traditional helicopter — so it’s better described as a personal drone octocopter. Also, octocopter is pretty fun to say, so that’s what we’re going with, OK?!

Mashable attended Workhorse’s first look preview event for the SureFly octocopter and the W-15 electric pickup truck in Manhattan on Monday. The W-15 is slated for release in 2019, and Workhorse plans to bring the SureFly to market some time in the next two years. 

Image: LILY KARTIGANER/MASHABLE

Image: LILY KARTIGANER/MASHABLE

Both products feature lean construction, designed to be both lightweight and fuel-efficient. For the W-15, that means its carbon fiber body can handle everything a traditional pickup truck can, with an unheard of 80-mile all-electric — and unlimited hybrid — range. 

Workhorse says the W-15 electric pickup truck can do anything a gas pickup can.

Workhorse says the W-15 electric pickup truck can do anything a gas pickup can.

Image: lily kartiganer/mashable

The octocopter also has a light, nimble design. And, most importantly, it’s easy to use.

“If you can fly a drone, you can fly this,” Workhorse CEO Steve Burns said. “Even if you can’t fly a drone, you can probably still fly this.”

Burns showed Mashable around the cockpit. It’s got a pretty spare but spacious design. Artificial Intelligence guides takeoff and landing, displayed on a large tablet. A joystick allows a flyer to steer. And an up and down switch makes the octocopter airborne, or guides it back to earth.

“A helicopter requires both feet, both arms, a lot of 3D thinking,” Burns explained. “Here, the computer’s flying you.”

A tablet, joystick, and up and down buttons are all flyers need to man the octocopter.

A tablet, joystick, and up and down buttons are all flyers need to man the octocopter.

Image: lily kartiganer/mashable

Staying true to Workhorse’s roots, Burns sees the first applications for the octocopter as fleet-based; for example, for paramedics and first responders, agriculture, or the military. But Workhorse specifically designed the drone so that it could be integrated as a product for personal use.

“We really want to go fleet-centric first,” Burns said. “But in the end, we’re getting a lot of excitement from people who just want to avoid traffic. So I think in the end that’s the most volume, but we’re going to cut our teeth on fleets.”

In the creation of the octocopter, Workhorse questioned what has kept helicopters from more widespread personal use. The answer was mainly difficulty of use, and affordability. So it’s easy to fly, will be offered at an affordable price (under $200,000, which is cheaper than most helicopters), and the propeller arms fold in, so it can fit in a garage. It’s slightly smaller than a helicopter, and will eventually come in either one-seater, two-seater, and four-seater options.

Image: lily kartiganer/mashable

Image: LILY KARTIGANER/MASHABLE

And the SureFly is now graduating beyond its experimental stage. It has been operating under an experimental license from the FAA. But Workhorse has now applied for a full license, and thinks it will be the first fully FAA-licensed Vertical Take Off and Landing (VTOL) vehicle. 

Despite an intensive regulatory process, Burns doesn’t see that as Workhorse’s biggest challenge. Instead, it’s disrupting the gasoline-reliant ground and air vehicle market. But that opportunity to disrupt is also an asset.

“For a little company it’s a huge, huge opportunity,” Burns said. “In both road vehicles and air vehicles, changing the status quo is tough. I don’t think there’s anything more interwoven into America than gasoline driven transportation. We’re an American company, we’re in the midwest, where cars and trucks are made, and we’re trying to innovate and move the needle a little bit. And the good news is, it’s such a giant market, you don’t have to move the needle much to have a big impact.”

You can pre-order the SureFly and the W-15 on Workhorse’s website now. 

Https%3a%2f%2fvdist.aws.mashable.com%2fcms%2f2018%2f5%2fe01785de de43 b9ec%2fthumb%2f00001

Cryptocurrency-rich make magic internet money rain in Vegas

It was late Saturday night at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, and an extremely stoned man was trying to bribe his way into the city’s hottest cryptocurrency party — and it wasn’t working. 

To get to that point, he’d have already waited in a line for 30 minutes just to ride the elevator up to room 6116 in the hotel’s Forum Tower. It was clear he was past ready to start celebrating — this was Saturday night at the DEF CON hacker convention, after all — and someone else was footing the bill. 

That would be Monero, the popular privacy-focused cryptocurrency that’s been on a wild ride since it was released in 2014. It had skyrocketed in value from around $1 in the summer of 2016 to a high of almost $500 in January of this year, before falling back to about $80 today — making a host of early adopters incredibly wealthy in the process.  

And what do the newly crypto-rich do in Vegas if not spend absurd amounts of money? A lavish Monero suite party promoted on Reddit and hyped at DEF CON’s Monero BCOS Village, it would seem, was a no-brainer. 

That’s right, cryptocurrency and its disciples had come to Sin City, and by the time I got past the bouncer and down the beer-soaked flight of stairs, one of the latter was shooting fake $100 bills out of a money gun. 

Https%3a%2f%2fblueprint api production.s3.amazonaws.com%2fuploads%2fvideo uploaders%2fdistribution thumb%2fimage%2f86435%2f8b76de63 f4e2 440b 985e e79b58a97d3e

Which, frankly, was so on the nose, I was worried about breaking it. 

But the night, and the cryptocurrency-fueled excess, was just getting started — a sentiment apparently shared by the person next to me on the dance floor doing key bumps of cocaine. 

Yup.

Image: Jack Morse/mashable

The well-stocked open bar sat on the first level of the gigantic two-story suite sporting floor-to-ceiling windows looking out over Vegas. Nearby, a (at one point) shirtless DJ spun heavy-bass at throngs of crypto diehards and their respective entourages bouncing back and forth on the crowded dance floor.  

On this night, in this suite, the cryptocurrency market had never corrected from its late 2017 peaks, and everyone could close their eyes and picture Lambos. Spirits, and attendees, were high.

But a party is so much more than its dance floor, a fact made clear by a visit to the crowded upstairs bathroom located at the end of a wide hallway. There, in addition to an ice-filled bathtub stocked with Red Bull and beer, was a 20-something attendee hopping in the shower, getting naked, and lathering up — all while drinking beer — an act which earned him an over-the-stall cheers from another person waiting to use the private toilet. 

Https%3a%2f%2fvdist.aws.mashable.com%2fcms%2f2018%2f8%2f27d3471b bde0 fb50%2fthumb%2f00001

The mood was a bit more subdued in the upstairs bedroom — perhaps the crowd had recently checked CoinMarketCap. With the lights out and people splayed across every soft surface, it looked exactly like an ecstasy-fueled cuddle puddle. And, well, that’s because it probably was. (The glow-bracelet headbands only added to my suspicion.)

But I suspected the real action was to be found in the party equivalent of a private cryptocurrency Telegram channel. That would be the rather large hallway closet, which interestingly had people coming and going at a semi-regular clip. After stepping in and a short conversation with some new arrivals, a decent amount of cocaine was poured out by one of the more intoxicated attendees. 

He said he’d bought it on the Strip.

It looked like baby powder.

My new friend was sweating profusely, and someone asked if he was high on molly. No, he assured us as he cut lines of the aforementioned coke on a high closet shelf. He was just very hot. 

It was a little hard to hear him over the bass vibrating through the closet wall. 

Making my way out, the party had picked up speed: The music was faster, the lights were darker, and the crowd was definitely drunker. Monero stickers littered the party, abandoned next to half-finished drinks and Kit Kat wrappers. 

Sad.

Image: jack Morse/mashable

Perhaps their perceived value had tanked since the start of the party. 

The Monero celebration was one of several happening that night in the same tower — just few flights up in a suite with an identical layout was another gathering hosted by the Salt Lake-based DEF CON group DC801, and, a few floors below, Queercon was throwing its own bash. 

Caesars’ security really had their work cut out for them. Work that, according to lead Monero developer Riccardo Spagni, included eventually shutting the Monero party down. 

The distributed Monero itself may be resistant to censorship, but the party wasn’t on the blockchain. 

But we can’t imagine the attendees were too upset. This was Vegas, after all, and the newly crypto-rich still had plenty of magic internet money to spend. Thankfully for them, World Crypto Con is hitting the Strip this October. 

Https%3a%2f%2fblueprint api production.s3.amazonaws.com%2fuploads%2fvideo uploaders%2fdistribution thumb%2fimage%2f83592%2f50e61165 7109 4146 add7 c30f0d53f134

Dish Network vs. DirecTV: Battle of the satellite TV titans

dish network versus directv version 1438534826 cable options
Sean Pavone/Shutterstock

So, you’ve chosen to go with a satellite television provider over cable or a live TV streaming service. Now the question is: Dish Network or DirecTV? The companies offer remarkably similar programming packages, but there are still some serious differences between the two. If you’re looking for specifics about what its like to be a subscriber to each service, you’ve come to the right place. We’ve put together this handy guide to give you a thorough rundown of each service, and how they compare in terms of specialty content, hardware, and pricing.

Content

directv plays catchup expands mobile viewing android app directtv ipad

The programming packages Dish and DirecTV offer are very similar, but there are a few notable differences that will likely drive your decision in selecting one company over the other.

First, here’s what you’ll get by going with either:

  • More than 300 available channels (exact number ranges between packages)
  • 200 available high-definition channels
  • Three free months of HBO, STARZ, Cinemax, and Showtime
  • Access to locally broadcast programming
  • 4K Ultra HD support

That’s quite a bit in common, but there are perks to choosing one over the other, depending on your viewing preferences.

One major difference between the services is the channel options included in their sports packages — specifically those outside the domain of Disney’s ESPN channel suite. The lion’s share of sports packages — including MLB Extra Innings, ESPN GamePlan, NBA League Pass, Fox Soccer Plus, NHL Center Ice, and MLS Direct Kick — are available on both. Both providers also include common pay TV options like Fox Sports and NFL Red Zone, the latter of which offers a commercial-free way to watch scoring plays from every NFL team that plays each Sunday.

When it comes to differences, Dish’s exclusive sports packages include Outdoor Sports and Racetrack Television Network. DirecTV, however, has the monopoly on NFL Sunday Ticket, which includes every regular season NFL game, regardless of your market. That’s a pretty big point in favor of DirecTV. It’s worth noting, however, that each of these packages are supplemental add-ons to your base channel package, and costly ones at that.

Lastly, the languages each service supports vary quite a bit. Dish supports 29 different languages ranging from Spanish and Italian to Tagalog and Urdu. DirecTV offers a mere eight options, including Spanish, Brazilian, Korean, Chinese, Russian, Filipino, Vietnamese and South Asian.

DirecTV’s Support for NFL Sunday Ticket tilts the scales in DirecTV’s favor, here, albeit at an extra cost to your subscription. Unless you’ve got a specific language need that Dish covers, those looking for the most content will want to go with DirecTV.

Winner: DirecTV

Hardware

We’ve included this handy table so you can compare the hardware specs of the two services side by side, and then we’ll dig a little deeper into specifics.

Dish DirecTV
DVR Hopper 3 Genie
Internal storage 2TB, supports USB storage expansion  1TB
Apps Netflix, YouTube, Pandora, Dish Music & more. N/A
Watch Anywhere-supported devices Mac, PC, iPad, iPhone, Android Phone, Android Tablets, Kindle Mac, PC, iPad, iPhone, Android Phone, Android Tablets, Kindle (Watch Anywhere on DirecTV requires extra GenieGo hardware)
4K streaming Yes Yes
Local programming Yes Yes
Auto-skip recorded commercials Yes (after 24 hours) No
On Demand Yes Yes
Home security No Yes
Tivo No Yes
Picture-in-picture Yes Yes
Max TVs 7 8
Max simultaneous recordings 16 5

When comparing Dish Network and DirecTV’s DVR boxes — the Hopper and the Genie, respectively — the major sticking point is recording capacity. You’ll have to shell out a monthly rental charge and supplemental fees for various DVR services, but exactly what those extra services are, and the amount of storage capacity available, differs between each.

Dish Hopper 3

Dish’s Hopper 3 can save up to 500 hours of HD content or 2,000 hours of SD content for a $12 monthly fee. That’s more than double the storage of DirecTV’s Genie, which offers 200 hours of HD programming or 800 hours of SD programming for a $15 monthly fee. Plus, the internal storage on Dish’s Hopper can be expanded with USB storage devices, which could push it well beyond its base 2TB drive, while DirecTV’s Genie remains at a static 1TB. If you aren’t recording dozens of shows, this might be a minor sticking point, but Dish easily carries the day there.

The two boxes also offer varying feature sets. Dish’s Hopper includes commercial auto-skip for select recorded content after 24 hours and support for apps including Netflix, YouTube, The Weather Channel, Game Finder, and Dish Music, which includes Amazon Music, Pandora, iHeartRadio, SiriusXM, TIDAL, and Napster. DirecTV’s Genie supports picture-in-picture mode, and even offers home security options when paired with your AT&T service.

Both set-top boxes feature some support for voice control, with Amazon Alexa available on both DirecTV and Dish hardware. Dish does currently have a leg up here, however, as its hardware also supports Google Assistant, making it a winner for Android users and those heavily invested in the Google ecosystem.

There’s also a difference in the number of devices and simultaneous streams the two DVR boxes support, as well as mobile viewing options. Dish’s Hopper will allow up to seven TVs to be connected in a single home, and up to 16 simultaneous recordings. The Hopper also allows mobile viewing of DVR content on Mac and Windows PCs, iOS devices, and Android devices including Kindle.

DirecTV’s Genie, on the other hand, allows a maximum of eight TVs (one more than Dish), but only supports five simultaneous recordings. While the Genie features mobile viewing as well, and supports all the same devices that the Hopper does, it requires mobile devices to be connected to the same Wi-Fi network as your receiver to view DVR content. Dish’s Watch Anywhere has no such network restrictions, and grants access to the same content no matter where you are watching. Dish even offers a special mobile storage device, the HopperGo, which can store up to 100 hours of your DVR recording that can be accessed by your mobile device without an internet connection.

Despite allowing for one less TV connection than DirecTV, Dish’s Hopper is all about allowing for easy access to a multitude of devices, content, and recordings. Storage size and simultaneous recordings available top the Genie, plus it doesn’t require any extra hardware for remote watching on mobile devices. DirecTV’s Genie offers picture-in-picture, but so does Dish’s Hopper 3, and this goes further with MultiView, which offers the ability to split your screen into quadrants, each displaying its own live, recorded, or even on-demand content. Those are some major points for Dish. While DirecTV has a number of extra features like home security options if you bundle with your AT&T service, Dish still gets the win.

Winner: Dish

Instagram hackers are changing account information into Russian email addresses

Hackers are finding ways into Instagram accounts and changing emails to addresses with Russian domain names. A report by Mashable suggests hundreds of Instagram users could be victims of an odd hack. The report shows half a dozen users with a similar hack and hundreds of related complaints on Twitter.

The hacks are unusual because none of the cases seem to have actually shared new images or deleted old ones, the report says. Instead, users find themselves locked out because the password, phone number, and email address were all changed. The email addresses in several cases were changed to emails with a .ru  at the end, a domain used in Russia. In many cases, profile pictures were swapped to a Disney or Pixar character and the bio information was deleted.

The type of hack presents problems for users since the easiest way to regain access to an account is through the email associated with that account. With the email changed, re-gaining access is a more difficult process.

The report doesn’t suggest who is behind the hacks — or if it is even one group or many. Most hacked accounts didn’t have two-factor authentication set up, though at least one did, suggesting setting up the additional security is helpful but not impenetrable. Instagram’s help page says that users that had an email changed because of a hack can use both the original username and email on the “Get Help Logging In” page.

Instagram says that, once it is aware of a hacked account, access is shut off and the network starts a remediation process. Hacks on Instagram aren’t unheard of but the social network also says that it hasn’t seen a jump in the number of hacked accounts.

Mashable suggests the hacks have been happening since the start of August, noting a spike in Google searches and tweets about Instagram hacks, along with Reddit forums with users trying to find a way back into the accounts.

Instagram’s security page recommends users regularly change passwords, using passwords that mix letters, numbers and punctuation marks and that aren’t identical to the other passwords that you use. The network also encourages users to be cautious with third-party app authorizations. Instagram also warns users to keep email account information secure because email access could allow for access to an Instagram account as well.

Editors’ Recommendations

This cruel Bud Light smart fridge unlocks only when the Cleveland Browns win

Football season is almost here, and Bud Light has put together something special for the fans of the eternally suffering Cleveland Browns: Cleveland Browns Victory Fridges, a bunch of custom-made, internet-connected fridges that will only open when the Browns manage to snap their winless streak (currently at 17 games and counting).

It’s a fun promotion with some impressive technical effort behind it, but there’s just one problem: those fridges will never need to open.

Bud Light claims that the fridges are kept shut with an elaborate locking system whereby the chains holding the doors closed (and the beer inside) are help up by an internal magnet, synced together with the other Browns Victory Fridges through Wi-Fi, similar to the company’s existing, Wi-Fi-connected Touchdown Glasses. When (if) the Browns win a game this season, all the Victory Fridges will unlock at the same time, letting fans across the city celebrate together in a technologically powered triumph.

And who knows? That may even be true, although we’ll likely never find out, given that such a thing would require the Browns to win a game of football.

Getty Images for Bud Light

To fully grasp the cruelty of what Bud Light is doing, you have to appreciate how bad the Browns’ current run of luck has been: in their last three seasons, the team has gone 3-13, 1-15, and 0-16. The last time the Browns won a game was on December 24th, 2016. The time before that was December 13th, 2015. The team is starting the 2018 season coming off a 17-game losing streak, which itself came off the back of a separate 17-game rut that ended with that 2016 win, only to begin the cycle anew.

As SB Nation’s Jon Bois has definitively proven, the Browns live in hell. And no amount of cold beer — even ones locked away in optimistically branded Browns fridges — can quench those pains.

The fridges themselves will be installed at bars around Cleveland, as well as at the Brown’s FirstEnergy Stadium. Presumably, they will likely stand there for weeks, if not years, silently taunting fans with the promise of beer that, if past history is anything to go by, they may never get to drink.

This robot maintains tender, unnerving eye contact

Humans already find it unnerving enough when extremely alien-looking robots are kicked and interfered with, so one can only imagine how much worse it will be when they make unbroken eye contact and mirror your expressions while you heap abuse on them. This is the future we have selected.

The Simulative Emotional Experience Robot, or SEER, was on display at SIGGRAPH here in Vancouver, and it’s definitely an experience. The robot, a creation of Takayuki Todo, is a small humanoid head and neck that responds to the nearest person by making eye contact and imitating their expression.

It doesn’t sound like much, but it’s pretty complex to execute well, which despite a few glitches SEER managed to do.

At present it alternates between two modes: imitative and eye contact. Both, of course, rely on a nearby (or, one can imagine, built-in) camera that recognizes and tracks the features of your face in real time.

In imitative mode the positions of the viewer’s eyebrows and eyelids, and the position of their head, are mirrored by SEER. It’s not perfect — it occasionally freaks out or vibrates because of noisy face data — but when it worked it managed rather a good version of what I was giving it. Real humans are more expressive, naturally, but this little face with its creepily realistic eyes plunged deeply into the uncanny valley and nearly climbed the far side.

Eye contact mode has the robot moving on its own while, as you might guess, making uninterrupted eye contact with whoever is nearest. It’s a bit creepy, but not in the way that some robots are — when you’re looked at by inadequately modeled faces, it just feels like bad VFX. In this case it was more the surprising amount of empathy you suddenly feel for this little machine.

[embedded content]

That’s largely due to the delicate, childlike, neutral sculpting of the face and highly realistic eyes. If an Amazon Echo had those eyes, you’d never forget it was listening to everything you say. You might even tell it your problems.

This is just an art project for now, but the tech behind it is definitely the kind of thing you can expect to be integrated with virtual assistants and the like in the near future. Whether that’s a good thing or a bad one I guess we’ll find out together.

Revcontent is trying to get rid of misinformation with help from the Poynter Institute

CEO John Lemp recently said that thanks to a new policy, publishers in Revcontent‘s content recommendation network “won’t ever make a cent” on false and misleading stories — at least, not from the network.

To achieve this, the company is relying on fact-checking provided by the Poynter Institute’s International Fact Checking Network. If any two independent fact checkers from International Fact Checking flag a story from the Revcontent network as false, the company’s widget will be removed, and Revcontent will not pay out any money on that story (not even revenue earned before the story was flagged).

In some ways, Revcontent’s approach to fighting fake news and misinformation sounds similar to the big social media companies — Lemp, like Twitter, has said his company cannot be the “arbiter of truth,” and like Facebook, he’s emphasizing the need to remove the financial incentives for posting sensationalistic-but-misleading stories.

However, Lemp (who’s spoken in the past about using content recommendations to reduce publishers’ reliance on individual platforms) criticized the big Internet companies for “arbitrarily” taking down content in response to “bad PR.” In contrast, he said Revcontent will have a fully transparent approach, one that removes the financial rewards for fake news without silencing anyone.

Lemp didn’t mention any specific takedowns, but the big story these days is Infowars. It seems like nearly everyone has been cracking down on Alex Jones’ far-right, conspiracy-mongering site, removing at least some Infowars-related accounts and content in the past couple weeks.

The Infowars story also raises the question of whether you can effectively fight fake news on a story-by-story basis, rather than completely cutting off publishers when they’ve shown themselves to consistently post misleading or falsified stories.

When asked about this, Lemp said Revcontent also has the option to completely removing publishers from the network, but he said he views that as an “last resort.”

Nokia 3.1 review

The Nokia 6.1 is our favorite budget smartphone under $300, and HMD Global — the company licensing the Nokia brand name and designing these phones — has introduced an even more affordable option to the U.S. market.

The Nokia 3.1 comes in at just $160, but even at that price it faces tough competition from the likes of Motorola and Honor. It eschews all frills and attempts to focus on the fundamentals, but HMD has to do better. We’ve been using the phone for a few weeks, and there are a few too many compromises. Let’s take a closer look.

Basic design, no fingerprint sensor

The Nokia 3.1 follows the same design cues as its more expensive siblings. There’s no glass on the back — instead you’ll find a phone that’s more utilitarian than stylish.

The front of the Nokia 3.1 carries a 5.2-inch display with chunky bezels at the top and bottom. The top bezel is home to a wide-angle 8-megapixel camera along with the 3.1’s only speaker and prominent Nokia logo. The unadorned bottom bezel looks lonely in comparison. There’s a chrome accent line that works that works its way around the display, adding a nice contrasting look, but its continuity is abruptly interrupted on the top and bottom of the phone due to thick, black antenna lines.

The IPS LCD display has a 1,440 x 720 resolution with an 18:9 aspect ratio. Colors are a little muted overall, and the display is dim. Even with the brightness cranked all the way up we had trouble seeing the screen outdoors. But for the most part it’s  perfectly adequate. We had no issues streaming Netflix and YouTube, and the screen quality posed no problems.

Flip the phone over and you’ll find a black, polycarbonate back with a chrome-accented single-camera lens, flash, and, more Nokia branding. The camera bump is is nearly imperceptible, and the back of the phone is curved ever so slightly, adding a nice ergonomic feel when the phone sits in the hand.

On the bright side, there’s a 3.5mm headphone jack at the top of the phone.

Notice anything missing? If you said “fingerprint sensor,” you’re correct: There’s none to be found on the Nokia 3.1, though there’s plenty of room for one on the bottom bezel or back. It’s a shame HMD decided to sacrifice the fingerprint sensor on the phone as it really removes the convenience we’ve all come to know and love. The Nokia 3.1’s competition have fingerprint sensors — even the $100 Alcatel 1X Android Go phone packs one.

While the polycarbonate back will certainly be more durable than glass, it does feel cheap. Tap on the back of the phone and it you won’t get a substantial thud you’ll find on other phones — instead you’re greeted with a hollow ring. This is more a remark than a criticism, as most budget phones we’ve tested in this price range can’t help but feel cheap.

On the bright side, there’s a 3.5mm headphone jack at the top of the phone. Over on the right is the power and volume buttons, which are made of the same plastic on the back of the phone. The buttons feel a little loose, but they didn’t cause any issues. The bottom of the phone is home to a MicroUSB charging port — which is another disappointment as many Android phones use USB Type-C, but we’ll give HMD a pass as budget phones in the price range still use MicroUSB.

Nokia 3.1 review
Steven Winkleman/Digital Trends

The Nokia 3.1 doesn’t look and feel like anything special; it’s basic, the design works, but a fingerprint sensor is sorely missed.

Frustrating performance, Android One

The Nokia 3.1 is powered by a Mediatek MT6750N octa-core processor with 2GB of RAM (international models have 3GB). Compared to other budget phones like the Honor 7X or Moto E4 Play, performance is frustrating slow.

Two of our benchmarking apps wouldn’t even run.

Lag is a constant companion, from unlocking the phone and opening the app drawer to launching apps and opening the camera. There’s also a pronounced stutter when scrolling through apps like Facebook or Twitter that makes the entire experience painful.

People who like to play games on their phones may find using the Nokia 3.1 even more infuriating. We were able to play Super Mario Run with just the occasional stutter, but when we attempted PUBG MOBILE, things went south. It was possible to play on the lowest graphics setting, but you probably don’t want to sit through constant lag.

Two of our benchmarking apps wouldn’t run on the Nokia 3.1, but here’s what did work:

  • Geekbench CPU: 664 single-core; 2,645 multi-core

The Nokia 3.1 performed better than the Moto E5 Play and E5 Plus in our benchmark tests, but it came far behind the slightly more expensive Honor 7X. But benchmarks do not tell the full story, and in our review period, we found the 3.1 performed much more poorly than the rest of these devices.

The U.S model of the Nokia 3.1 comes with 16GB of storage — which we easily maxed out since Android alone takes up more than half of that storage space. Thankfully, a MicroSD slot lets you add more storage if needed.

Perhaps the Nokia 3.1’s best feature is its software. It runs stock Android through the Android One program (Android 8.1 Oreo). The Android One program promises fast software version and security updates for two years, and a clean interface with minimal bloatware. This phone will get Android 9.0 Pie later this year. Most budget phones rarely get updates, so we’re happy to praise a company that puts a priority on issuing updates.

Slow, mediocre camera

It’s hard to expect much when it comes to budget phone camera. They tend to take decent photos in good light, and mediocre to bad photos in low-light scenarios. The Nokia 3.1 bucks that trend, but not in a good way.

There’s a 13-megapixel primary camera on the rear with a f/2 aperture, and an 8-megapixel selfie cam with the same aperture on the front. The first batch of photos we took in daylight didn’t just come out blurry, but they had huge lens flares. After cleaning the lens and checking for software updates, we tried again but our tests yielded similar results. Figuring It was a problem with our review unit, we contacted Nokia for a replacement.

Our replacement unit didn’t have the same lens flare issue, but the shutter was incredibly slow. To get decent shots in broad daylight, it was necessary to hold the phone still for three seconds after tapping the shutter button — you don’t need to do that with other phones in this price range.

Shutter lag aside, our daylight photos managed to look decent. Colors are accurate and details are acceptable, but some of the photos lack depth and appear flat.

Sample photos shot on the Nokia 3.1.

Low-light photos are another issue altogether. There was significant noise and detail loss, and we needed to be completely still yet again to avoid any type of blurriness. There are some decent photos in the gallery above in this kind of lighting, but we were only able to capture them after quite a few attempts.

We never had high hopes for the Nokia 3.1’s camera, but it certainly surprised us at how lackluster it really is to use.

Battery life

The 2,990mAh battery, of all things, is the shining star on the Nokia 3.1. On an average day, we used the phone to surf the web, scroll through social media, listen to music through Spotify, watch YouTube videos, and we managed to have 40 percent left by 8:30 p.m (after taking it off the charger at 7 a.m.).

Nokia 3.1 Compared To

Unfortunately if you do find yourself running low on battery, there’s no quick charging feature on the phone.

Pricing, availability, and warranty information.

The Nokia 3.1 costs $160, and you can purchase it through Amazon or Best Buy. It supports GSM carriers like AT&T or T-Mobile, and it won’t work on CDMA networks like Sprint and Verizon.

The phone comes with a standard one-year warranty that covers any manufacturer defects. Water damage, drops, and “Acts of God” are not covered.

Our Take

The Nokia 3.1 is an underwhelming phone in every way. From its low-tier specs, to its mediocre camera, software and battery life are the only things HMD got right on this phone.

Is there a better alternative?

Yes. Several excellent budget phones have been released this year. The Moto E5 Plus is an excellent alternative if you can find it for less than $200. Since the E5 Plus packs in a better processor and more RAM, you should have a much better experience overall. It also features a massive 5,000mAh battery, meaning you should able to easily get through a day, if not two, between charges. It’s also worth looking at the Moto E5 Play, which can cost as little as $70 depending on your carrier.

If you’re willing to spend a little more, you may want to check out the Nokia 6.1. It comes in at $270 and is our favorite budget phone for 2018. The $250 Moto G6 and $200 Honor 7X are also worth considering, and you can learn more about them in our best cheap phones guide.

How long will it last?

The Nokia 3.1 should last you a year or more. We say that largely because we believe performance will simply get worse the longer you use it, and you’ll likely want to throw the phone out a window.

Still, its build quality is good, and the plastic body is more durable than other budget phones with an all-glass body. Since the phone is a part of the Android One program, you can expect regular security and OS updates for two years.

Should you buy it?

No. Even at its low price, the Nokia 3.1 doesn’t offer the performance and reliability we’ve come to expect from HMD.

TechDen fights your kids’ tech addiction using… a box

Here’s one way to get kids off the phones they won’t put down: hide them in a high-tech box.

TechDen, which is currently being funded through a Kickstarter campaign, claims to ”help kids develop healthy screen habits,” by combining an app to manage your child’s screen time with a literal white box that stores and charges up to two phones or tablets. It can also recognize each device, and send parents notifications about which devices are charging and which are currently in use.

Parents can create designated “sessions” — routine windows of time where their kids can use their phone — and set up a maximum allowable screen time within each of these windows. For example, a session could be an hour before bedtime, and the maximum amount of screen time allowed could be 15 minutes. When the window opens, the charging box, known as The Den, will unlock to let the phone or tablet out.

While there’s no guarantee that children won’t rebel against having their devices locked away, the program is baked with some wiggle room meant to give kids some sense of choice. For example, a parent can designate the time limit and range of hours that screen time is allowed, but the kids can decide for themselves when they’d like to spend that time.

TechDen’s app will send a series of notifications to help children count down the amount of screen time that remains, and also notify parents if devices are returned on time. There’s a gamified feature that rewards kids for on-time returns back to the box, and allows them to check their progress within the app. Of course, all this doesn’t account for kids literally trying to break the box, but that’s obviously none of TechDen’s concern.

The TechDen appears to the company’s first product, and it is attempting to raise $50,000 by September 21st. (As of this writing, it’s more than halfway there.) The device is currently selling for $119, and it’s eventually supposed to retail for $199. TechDen says it’s aiming to get the product into backers’ mailboxes by the end of December, but as with all Kickstarter projects — particularly hardware from first-time companies — there’s no guarantee it’ll meet that timeline, so back at your own discretion.

“Unhackable” BitFi crypto wallet has been hacked

The BitFi crypto wallet was supposed to be unhackable and none other than famous weirdo John McAfee claimed that the device – essentially an Android-based mini tablet – would withstand any attack. Spoiler alert: it couldn’t.

First, a bit of background. The $120 device launched at the beginning of this month to much fanfare. It consisted of a device that McAfee claimed contained no software or storage and was instead a standalone wallet similar to the Trezor. The website featured a bold claim by McAfee himself, one that would give a normal security researcher pause:

Further, the company offered a bug bounty that seems to be slowly being eroded by outside forces. They asked hackers to pull coins off of a specially prepared $10 wallet, a move that is uncommon in the world of bug bounties. They wrote:

We deposit coins into a Bitfi wallet
If you wish to participate in the bounty program, you will purchase a Bitfi wallet that is preloaded with coins for just an additional $10 (the reason for the charge is because we need to ensure serious inquiries only)
If you successfully extract the coins and empty the wallet, this would be considered a successful hack
You can then keep the coins and Bitfi will make a payment to you of $250,000
Please note that we grant anyone who participates in this bounty permission to use all possible attack vectors, including our servers, nodes, and our infrastructure

Hackers began attacking the device immediately, eventually hacking it to find the passphrase used to move crypto in and out of the the wallet. In a detailed set of Tweets, security researchers Andrew Tierney and Alan Woodward began finding holes by attacking the operating system itself. However, this did not match the bounty to the letter, claimed BitFi, even though they did not actually ship any bounty-ready devices.

Then, to add insult injury, the company earned a Pwnies award at security conference Defcon. The award was given for worst vendor response. As hackers began dismantling the device, BitFi went on the defensive, consistently claiming that their device was secure. And the hackers had a field day. One hacker, 15-year-old Saleem Rashid, was able to play Doom on the device.

The hacks kept coming. McAfee, for his part, kept refusing to accept the hacks as genuine.

Unfortunately, the latest hack may have just fulfilled all of BitFi’s requirements. Rashid and Tierney have been able to pull cash out of the wallet by hacking the passphrase, a primary requirement for the bounty. “We have sent the seed and phrase from the device to another server, it just gets sent using netcat, nothing fancy.” Tierney said. “We believe all conditions have been met.”

The end state of this crypto mess? BitFi did what most hacked crypto companies do: double down on the threats. In a recently deleted Tweet they made it clear that they were not to be messed with:

The researchers, however, may still have the last laugh.