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Sony

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Most Wanted: The top budget (<$250) smartphones of 2016

The budget smartphone segment in America seems to be a shrinking one of late (well, at least of good options), but we've rounded up the best we think the market has to offer consumers right now in the $250-and-under segment. The selected phones are presented in no particular order.

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[Deal Alert] Get a 15% statement credit for Xperia X, XA, MicroSD cards, headphones, and other Sony products with Amazon Prime Store Card

Itching to get your hands on some great Sony gear? Hurry over to Amazon and do some shopping because you might be able to score a total of 15% back on select Sony products if you purchase them with an Amazon Store Card. Over 2,000 listings qualify for the deal in most of the major product categories, including audio equipment like headphones and speakers, Bravia televisions, Xperia smartphones, and memory cards. The offer ends at midnight (PST) tonight, so get moving on this one.

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Android Police Readers' Choice Award 2016: Cast your vote for the best smartphone of the year

What's your pick for best smartphone of 2016? For the first time (well, that I can remember), we're asking you to cast your vote for the phone you think stole the show this year. I've assembled a list of 15 devices that I think stood out in one way or another in 2016, so please note that the list does not purport to be exhaustive - this is, gently, curated.

With that in mind, consider your vote carefully. The tallying will continue through December 16th at 11:59PM PST, at which point the poll will close. We will announce the winner in a separate post the following week, declaring that phone the recipient of the Android Police Readers' Choice Award for Best Smartphone of 2016.

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Google, Samsung, HTC, Oculus, Sony, and Acer form the Global Virtual Reality Association, the first VR special interest group

Perhaps you haven't noticed yet, but virtual reality is kind of a big deal. Samsung has holiday-themed ads running on primetime TV and sports, the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift are breaking new ground in a stale gaming industry, and even Google is pushing its new Daydream platform hard. The powers that be think there's money to be made, and that means they're willing to work together (at least to some degree) in pursuit of it. Hence the creation of the Global Virtual Reality Association, announced by Samsung on its corporate blog.

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AsteroidOS is an open source project that wants to save your smartwatch from obsolescence

Android was once the darling of the open source community, though you'd be forgiven for forgetting that - these days its commercial elements seem to be all that make the news. One developer is hoping that community can save the smartwatch, or at the very least, breathe a little new life into existing designs. Florent Revest, a French computer science student, released the 1.0 alpha version of AsteroidOS today. It's ready to run on multiple Android Wear devices: the original LG G Watch, the Watch Urbane, the Asus ZenWatch 2, and the Sony Smartwatch 3.

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[Deal Alert] The Xperia XA Ultra is just $230 ($100 off) at B&H Photo until midnight Eastern Time

Those looking for a mid-range, unlocked phone with impressive style and a big screen could do worse than the Xperia XA Ultra. Though it's using a MediaTek processor and its 6-inch screen is only 1080p, Sony's industrial design remains as sexy as ever, and it's compatible with all the standard US GSM bands. Normally the phone goes for over $300, but today only B&H Photo is selling it for just $229.99 in white, black, or pea-puke green "Lime Gold."

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[Update: Xperia XZ too] Sony begins its Nougat upgrades with the Xperia X Performance

It's been a few months since Android 7.0 hit the AOSP code repository, and this is about the time of year that owners of non-Nexus (non-Pixel, now) flagships start to ask why their upgrades are taking so long. Well if your flagship just happens to be the latest high-powered Sony smartphone, you're in luck. The Xperia X Performance is receiving its Nougat update starting today, according to XperiaBlog. For the record, that's just a little over three months of waiting for the upgrade - not bad by current Android standards.

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[Deal Alert] Sony's Xperia XZ has fallen to just $499.99 on Amazon ($150 off)

The Xperia XZ hasn't been out for long in the United States, but its prices just keep dropping. Just a few days ago, this very phone went from its MSRP of $649.99 to as low as $581.98, but now, it's gone down another $80 or so to $499.99. That's a pretty damn good price for such a new device, even if you have to flash different firmware to get the fingerprint sensor to work.

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CyanogenMod 14.1 nightlies are coming to the Nexus 4, available for the Nexus 5 on CAF, T-Mobile LG G3, and more

Cyanogen Inc. may be dying as a company, but the voluntarily-maintained CyanogenMod ROMs are still alive and kicking. Case in point: seven more devices are joining CyanogenMod 14.1, which is based on Android 7.1 Nougat. Six of these Android-powered machines have builds already up, but one doesn't yet.

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[Deal Alert] Sony Xperia X is down to $300 on Amazon ($100 off)

We have yet another deal from Sony to celebrate the Thankgiving/Black Friday/Cyber Monday weekend. Over on Amazon, you can score an Xperia X for $299, saving a total of $100. That price feels about right for this phone (finally). So if you have been considering getting this little guy, now is a good time to pick one up.

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