A unibody metal body, 5-inch AMOLED display, 13-megapixel camera, a claim as Samsung's "thinnest smartphone to date" and yet, this isn't a flagship smartphone. Especially for Halloween - or not related at all - the Galaxy A5 and A3 yet more smartphones from Samsung, measuring at 6.7mm and 6.9mm thickness. (So, er, just as thin as the Galaxy Alpha?) They may not be close to the thinnest smartphone but with a metallic body, it's still quite an interesting proposition. They're both apparently geared at the youth, with Samsung's own press release praising its social network skills (extending to a GIF maker and 4G connectivity...) and the five-megapixel front-facing camera, because selfies, but given the notion of a metal-framed Galaxy phone, other crankier demographics might also be tempted.

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A Project Ara smartphone in action

You'd be forgiven for being skeptical of Google's Project Ara -- for all the prototypes and partnerships, actually spotting a working unit has been a gigantic challenge. You won't have to jump through hoops to see one after today, thankfully. The engineering team at NK Labs has shown Phonebloks a real, honest-to-goodness functioning test phone that boots into Android. It's using an old Jelly Bean release instead of the promised Android Lollipop build, and the demo doesn't include a significant amount of functionality, but hey -- progress!

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Poynt's smart terminal

One of the many reasons you don't see widespread support for mobile payment tech like Apple Pay or Google Wallet is the hardware investment needed to make it all work. Why should a store spend thousands of dollars on machines that miss out on some features, or will be obsolete in a few years? That's what Poynt wants to fix with its new smart terminal. The Android-powered device takes just about every form of payment imaginable, including NFC transactions from your phone, chip-and-pin cards, QR codes and old-fashioned magnetic stripe cards. You can even add a cash drawer through USB. The countertop machine also has Bluetooth beacon support for in-store offers, and its app platform lets stores adapt to new services by either downloading apps or writing their own.

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Step aside, Gionee, as your record for the world's slimmest smartphone has just been beaten by a fellow Chinese manufacturer. Oppo's R5, the successor to the Asia-only R3, comes in at just 4.85mm thick, thus beating the 5.15mm-thick Elife S5.1 from Gionee. Despite the crazy thin metallic body, the R5 still packs a handful of goodies: a 5.2-inch full HD AMOLED screen, an octa-core (quad 2.1GHz and quad 1.5GHz), 64-bit Snapdragon 615 SoC, 2GB of RAM, 5MP/13MP cameras (both with f/2.0 aperture), LTE radio and a 2,000 mAh battery. All of this comes in at just 155g heavy. Of course, there's bound to be a trade-off: You only get 16GB of internal storage, no microSD expansion and, unlike the Elife S5.1, no 3.5mm headphone connector here -- you'll need to use the bundled micro-USB adapter or Bluetooth (there's an optional O-Music Bluetooth clip for your headphones and for triggering the camera).

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If you thought Oppo was done with making eccentric selfie phones, you're wrong; the Chinese company is back with a new model dubbed the N3 to replace the N1 from last September. The iconic swivel camera at the top is here to stay, but this time we have a 16-megapixel f/2.2 module with Schneider optics, and it's motorised! It's actually much cooler than it sounds: You can quickly flip the camera with a flick gesture on the screen or on the fingerprint sensor on the back -- more on that later. In addition to that, the N3 comes with a new O-Click Bluetooth remote that not only acts as a remote trigger, but it also lets you adjust the camera's angle using the extra buttons.

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Samsung Galaxy Alpha

If you're using Samsung's Find My Mobile service to keep tabs on your Galaxy phone's whereabouts, you may want to stop using it for a while. Both NIST and security researcher Mohamed Baset are warning about an exploit that lets evildoers remotely lock, ring or wipe Samsung smartphones. As it turns out, Find My Mobile doesn't validate the lock code information it gets -- an attacker just has to flood the target device with network traffic to get control. Since the locator tool normally turns on when you sign up for a Samsung account, there's a real chance that you're vulnerable.

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You may just about recall that Nextbit, a startup formed by ex-Googlers, has been collaborating with Cyanogen on a "really cool" secret project. As it turns out, this is all about the continuity experience across Android devices -- very timely given the recent launch of OS X Yosemite and iOS 8.1, which boast a set of continuity features. Nextbit's offering is dubbed Baton, and as the name suggests, it lets you quickly pass an app's state from one Android device to another, meaning you can continue playing on the same level in a game, editing the same document in an app or browsing the same web page right away; with the precondition being the second device must also have Baton and the same app installed. Better yet, app developers don't have to do anything at all; existing apps should just work.

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The Nexus 9 wasn't designed to be an iPad killer; it was designed to inspire Google's Android partners to create one instead. Though you'd be forgiven for thinking otherwise: It was announced one day before the iPad Air 2 and mini 3, comes with a powerful 64-bit NVIDIA chip and will be competitively priced with Apple's tablets. But Alberto Villarreal, head of the Nexus 9's industrial design, insists that this wasn't the purpose.

"We wanted to accelerate the premium market for Android tablets," Villarreal said. "[The Nexus 9] has a lot of attributes and definitely will bring the quality for other companies to do better."

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LG has been trying for years to catch up to Samsung and Apple in phone sales, and its next step on that path is to make a device with an LG CPU inside. The G3 Screen phone that it's releasing this week in Korea will have an eight-core "NUCLUN" (pronounced NOO-klun) processor, based off of an ARM big.LITTLE design similar to Samsung's octacore Exynos chips. NUCLUN has four 1.5GHz cores for the tough tasks, and four 1.2GHz cores for easier stuff that help it save on battery life. Otherwise, there's also a 5.9-inch 1080p screen and support for the new, faster LTE-A networks that download at up to 225Mbps. Until now, LG's phones have mostly relied on Qualcomm chips for their processing needs, but Dr. Jong-seok Park believes going its own way will help the company "achieve better vertical integration" and greater flexibility going forward. Of course, we're wondering when a NUCLUN-powered phone will go on sale outside of Korea, but considering the progression of Exynos, that could take a while.

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Microsoft Torque on a Samsung Gear Live

Slightly irked that you have to say "OK Google" whenever you want to use voice search on your Android Wear smartwatch? Microsoft, of all companies, is coming to your rescue. The developer is leading a trio of experimental Android releases with Torque, an app that lets you start a Bing search just by twisting your wrist; you only have to speak when you're asking your question. You'll get optimized output for certain kinds of search results, including maps, stocks and weather.

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If you're anything like us, Google's Gmail has an iron grip on your life. Google's looking to create a whole new iron grip with a new app from its Gmail team, and it's called "Inbox." What is it? That's a good question -- Google's made a demo slash advertisement video that we've dropped below. As far as we can tell, Inbox is a combination of Google Now and your Gmail inbox -- a "smart" inbox, if you will. It combines alike pieces of email (bank invoices, for example), highlights related information (like Google Now alerting you to flight changes, traffic, etc.) and keeps track of your life (it'll give you reminders, among other heads ups). Is this the end of Gmail? We seriously doubt it, but it is Google's latest foray into simplifying email. Head below for more!

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It's a conflicting time for Apple. On one hand, it's a joyous occasion for the company because its latest iPhones, which come in larger screen sizes than the last, set new sales records worldwide; but on the other hand, its lineup of iPads just experienced its third straight quarterly decline. Coincidentally, this comes just a week after Apple announced its annual tablet refresh, which includes a thinner and more powerful version of the iPad Air along with a Touch ID-enabled mini with Retina display.

Just because it's down doesn't mean it's out. Giving up on a product category isn't really Apple's style, and last week, it offered up the Air 2 as exhibit A. The company made it clear that making a solid top-of-the-line tablet is on the top of its to-do list, so naturally the new 10-inch device got plenty of upgrades in nearly every aspect of its design. Curiously, it didn't give the mini lineup the same kind of treatment: The mini 3 got so little love this time around that the best news about it is the fact that last year's version is now $100 cheaper. Should the new iPads still get a place in the consumer's backpack? Read on to find out.

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PhotoMath on a Windows Phone

Need a little help getting through your next big math exam? MicroBlink has an app that could help you study more effectively -- perhaps too effectively. Its newly unveiled PhotoMath for iOS and Windows Phone (Android is due in early 2015) uses your smartphone's camera to scan math equations and not only solve them, but show the steps involved. Officially, it's meant to save you time flipping through a textbook to check answers when you're doing homework or cramming for a test. However, there's a concern that this could trivialize learning -- just because it shows you how to solve a problem doesn't mean that the knowledge will actually sink in. And if teachers don't confiscate smartphones at the door, unscrupulous students could cheat when no one is looking. The chances of that happening aren't very high at this stage, but apps like this suggest that schools might have to be vigilant in the future.

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We're barely seeing 4G take hold here in the States and the FCC has begun the process to push into 5G for mobile data. The government's communications council voted unanimously to start looking into accessing the higher-than-24GHz frequency spectrum that was previously thought to be, as Reuters notes, unusable by mobile networks. So what are the benefits? Gigabit internet connections on the go, for starters -- something our current sub-3GHz spectrum can't quite handle -- similar to the ones Samsung just tested. Yeah, now you're excited. The feds believe that using these "millimeter waves" would allow for higher bandwidth for more people and devices at speeds that outclass most homes' broadband.

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Despite the frivolous nature of most social media interactions, Facebook's latest new feature is intended for use only in serious situations. Unveiled today in Japan, Safety Check notifications are pushed to users when a natural disaster hits and area you have listed as your location, where you've checked in on Nearby Friends, or where you recently logged in from. Tech companies like Google and Facebook have worked to connect people after significant disasters in the past, and Facebook says the project is an extension of the Disaster Message Board its Japanese engineers rolled out after the 2011 earthquake and tsunami there. Safety Check is rolling out globally on Android, iOS, feature phones and the desktop -- there's a demo video (embedded after the break) to explain how it all works.

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