Hotspot Shield faces allegations of abusing VPN users’ data

Hotspot Shield, one of the biggest names in the VPN world, has been accused of ‘unfair and deceptive trade practices’ by a pro-privacy non-profit organisation, including logging user connection data and utilizing elements like location to better serve adverts.

The Center for Democracy & Technology (or CDT) describes itself as a champion of online civil liberties, and has asked the FTC to investigate the VPN firm regarding claims that it intercepts and redirects internet traffic to partner websites including online advertising companies.

The CDT noted: “This complaint concerns undisclosed and unclear data sharing and traffic redirection occurring in Hotspot Shield Free VPN that should be considered unfair and deceptive trade practices under Section 5 of the FTC Act.”

In plain and simple terms, the accusation is that Hotspot Shield isn’t holding to its own privacy policy – not even remotely so.

Hotspot Shield, however, has denied any wrongdoing. In a statement to ZDNet, David Gorodynasky, CEO of parent company AnchorFree, commented: “The information Hotspot Shield users provide to us is never associated with their online activities when they are using Hotspot Shield, we do not store user IP addresses and protect user personally identifiable information from both third parties and from ourselves.”

Surprising allegations

Gorodynasky added: “While we commend the CDT for their dedication to protecting users’ privacy, we were surprised by these allegations and dismayed that the CDT did not contact us to discuss their concerns. AnchorFree prides itself on being transparent about its data practices and would be happy to engage in a discussion to clarify the facts and better understand the nature of the CDT’s concerns.”

In our VPN reviews, we always look closely at the privacy policy of any VPN firm, with a particular eye for making sure that any issues related to logging are clearly spelled out, and everything seems as transparent as possible.

The obvious problem, though, is that this policy document is all very well and good, but there’s no way to actually guarantee how closely it is adhered to by any given VPN provider.

We’ll be watching this affair closely to see how it pans out, but obviously enough, losing the trust of its users is not something Hotspot Shield will want to contemplate.

In other recent VPN news, Apple has banned some providers from its App Store over in China.

  • The best VPN services 2017

Best free iPad games 2017

So you’ve got an iPad, but have come to the dawning realisation that you’ve got no cash left to buy any games for it.

Have no fear, because the App Store offers plenty of iPad gaming goodness for the (unintentional or otherwise) skinflint.

  • Haven’t bought an iPad yet and not sure which is best? We’ve got them listed on our best iPad ranking – or you can check out the best tablets list to see the full range available now.

Our updated pick of the best free iPad games are listed right here.

Hoggy 2 is a platform puzzler, with a firm emphasis on the puzzling. It features some cartoon slime molds, who’ve got on the wrong side of the villainous Moon Men. These rogues have taken the heroes’ kids, and so parents Hoggy and Hogatha vow to get them back.

The Moon Men’s fortress is a huge maze peppered with jars. Within each jar is a room filled with platforms, enemies, hazards, and fruit. Eat all the fruit and you get a key. Get enough keys and you can venture further into the maze.

The snag is that getting at the fruit can be tricky. Hoggy 2’s levels are cunningly designed, often requiring you perform actions in a specific order and manner, making use of power-ups that transform the protagonists into trundling granite squares or screaming infernos.

Add in lush console-style visuals and a level editor, and you’ve got one of the biggest bargains on mobile.

You know a game’s not taking itself too seriously when it begins with the hero trudging through a blizzard, only to be faced by a giant heavily armed walrus guarding the fortress of a megalomaniacal genius.

But Evil Factory is just warming up, and subsequently revels in flinging all manner of mutated madness your way in its hard-nosed top-down arcade battles.

For each, you dart about using a virtual joystick, while two large on-screen buttons activate weapons. Unfortunately, your bosses are colossal idiots, and have armed you with the likes of dynamite and Molotov cocktails. Bouts often therefore involve dodging bullets to fling wares at a giant foe, before running away like a coward.

It’s silly, relentless arcade fun – or at least it would be relentless if the ‘fuel’ based freemium model didn’t butt up against one-hit-death and tough later levels. Still, if the stop-start nature of playing becomes irksome, fuel limitations can be removed with a $1.99/£1.99/AU$2.99 IAP.

With a name that sounds like something an angry railway employee would yell before slapping you, Conduct THIS! actually starts out as a fairly sedate railway management game. Little trains amble along, picking up passengers you have to direct to stations that match their color.

The controls are extremely simple: tap a train and it halts until you tap it again; and switches can be triggered to send a train the most optimum way at a junction.

However, the layouts you face very quickly become anything but simple, with multiple trains to control and vehicles to avoid – both of which sometimes unhelpfully disappear into tunnels.

This is a smart, colorful mix of arcade smarts and puzzling – even if it does have the capacity to drive you loco(motive).

If you’ve ever played the last level of PC classic Driver, with its psychotic police vehicles, you’ll have an inkling what you’re in for in Reckless Getaway 2. You pick a car and barrel about a little wraparound city, driving around like a maniac, until your inevitable arrest.

Well, we say ‘arrest’, but these police are crazed. SWAT vans will hurl themselves at your vehicle, oblivious to the carnage around them. Eventually, airstrikes will be called in, at which point you might question if the law’s applying a bit too much zeal towards grand theft auto these days.

Over time, the game’s repetitive nature palls a bit, and the physics is a bit floaty; but otherwise it’s a great fun freebie for virtual joyriders armed with an iPad.

This one’s all about counting really quickly. That admittedly doesn’t sound like much – but stick with it, because Estiman is actually a lot of fun.

It begins by displaying a bunch of neon shapes. The aim is to prod a shape that belongs to the most numerous group, and work your way to the smallest. Do this rapidly and you build a combo that can seriously ramp up your score. Now and again shapes also house credits, which can be used to buy new themes.

On iPad, the game looks great, and although some themes (such as gloopy bubbles) make the game easier, that at least gives you a choice if the minimal original theme proves too tricky.

And despite Estiman’s overt simplicity, its odd contrasting mix of relaxation (chill-out audio; zero-stress timer) and urgency (if you want those combos) proves compelling.

Its overhead viewpoint and tiny players might evoke arcade-oriented soccer games of old, like Sensible Soccer and Kick off, but Retro Soccer is very much a mobile oriented affair. In part, this is down to the main mode taking you through loads of challenges, rather than a league, but mostly it’s about the controls.

There are no virtual buttons and D-pads here – everything in Retro Soccer is about taps and gestures. You tap to move somewhere, dribble with the ball or pass. A swipe unleashes a shot if you’re within sight of the goal, or a scything sliding tackle that carves up a fair chunk of the field if you’re near an opposing player with the ball.

It takes a fair bit of getting used to and really needs the iPad’s large screen for you to have any hope of mastering the game. But stick around and you’ll find Retro Soccer an entertaining take on the beautiful game.

With its chunky graphics and silly demeanor, Westy West isn’t an entirely accurate recreation of the Wild West – but it is a lot of fun.

You hop about tiny towns, deserts, and mines, shooting bad guys and being rewarded for being the kind of sheriff who doesn’t also shoot innocents.

Although the controls mirror Crossy Road (albeit with a tap to shoot rather than leap forward), progression is more akin to Looty Dungeon, with you having to complete each miniature room (as in, shoot all the bad guys) before moving on.

The net result is a game that’s ultimately an entertaining arcade title, but that somehow also feels like you’re exploring a tiny universe – and one with character. It’s amusing when you’re facing a duel, and a pianist is rather conspicuously outside, furiously playing an ominous score.

We’re in broadly familiar territory with Bomb Hunters, which twins Crossy Road with bomb disposal. This means you get chunky graphics and a swipe-based take on Frogger, but must also quickly locate and deal with high-explosives that are soon to go off.

This twist transforms Bomb Hunters into a relentlessly frantic experience, and keeps you on your toes regarding the route you’re taking. Everything becomes markedly tougher when enemy snipers and grenadiers appear, and when some bombs only disarm when you complete a dexterity mini-game.

The swipe controls can be a touch iffy at times, but otherwise this is a smart take on an otherwise tired genre – and one that rewards repeat play through unlocks that boost your survival rate during subsequent games.

The clue’s in the title in this entertaining and arcade-oriented engineering test. In Build a Bridge!, you’re faced with a vehicle, a gap over which the vehicle would like to travel, and some materials to build your bridge. You lay down a structure on virtual graph paper, press play, and see what happens.

If your bridge falls to bits – as it invariably will on the first few attempts – you can go back, rebuild and try again. Should you want to properly test out your engineering skills, you must minimize the materials used to get a three-star award – tricky when you hit levels requiring outlandish solutions that incorporate jumps and hot-air balloons.

Some of the building can be a bit fiddly, but on an iPad Build a Bridge! proves a compelling test of your engineering skills.

Yes, we know: you’ve seen a dozen games just like this, essentially endless runners with a puzzle solving edge, complete with teleporters and multiple routes. But wait – all is not quite as it seems.

One thing DROP NOT! does have in common with several other games is you auto-tumbling about an isometric world, prodding the screen to abruptly change direction. Get it wrong and chances are you’ll fall off of a narrow elevated pathway into oblivion.

But unlike the competition, DROP NOT! isn’t algorithmically generated; instead, it has 20 handcrafted levels, transforming the game into an adventure you can master.

Beating it in one go from the start requires some serious memory and timing skills; if that all seems too much, points buy keys to unlock checkpoints you can start from, in order to discover all of the game’s secrets. Either way, this title’s far more than it first appears to be.

Here we have another endless runner mining gaming’s past for a hook to hang everything on. This time, Bomberman has been shoe-horned into the genre. Fortunately for Tiny Bombers, this works.

The basic premise, as ever, is your little character must keep running, lest they be eaten up by a game world falling into the abyss. To push ever onward, they can obliterate walls and other hazards by dropping bombs and then fleeing before they explode.

During each game, you can grab power-ups, collect coins to spend on new characters, and coo at the pretty graphics. From a longevity standpoint, Tiny Bombers is probably not another Crossy Road, but even so it makes for a fun and explosive change.

We shouldn’t encourage them, really. Transformers: Forged to Fight is packed full of horrible free-to-play trappings: timers; gates; a baffling currency/resource system. And yet it’s a horribly compelling title. Much of this is down to how much fun it apparently is to watch giant robots punching each other in the face.

If you’re unfamiliar with Transformers, it’s based around robots that disguise themselves as cars and planes as a kind of camouflage – and then they forget about all that, transform into bipedal robots, and attempt to smash each other to bits.

This game has various Transformers universes colliding, which for fans only increases the fun – after all, old hands can watch with glee as old-school Optimus Prime hacks Michael Bay’s version to pieces with a massive axe. But for newcomers hankering for one-on-one Street Fighterish brawls on an iOS device, it’s still a freebie worth grabbing.

With Darkside Lite, you rather generously get the entire arcade mode from superb blaster Darkside. What this means is a slew of fast-paced and eye-dazzling shooty action, where you blast everything around you to pieces, while trying very hard to stay in one piece yourself.

The twin-stick shenanigans echo the likes of Geometry Wars (or, if you’re really old, Robotron) in terms of controls, but the setup is more Asteroids, obliterating space rocks – and also the spaceships that periodically zoom in to do you damage.

The entire thing’s wrapped around planetoids floating in the void, making for a dizzying, thrilling ride as you attempt to locate the last bit of flying rock before some alien attacker swoops in and rips away the last of your shields.

This one’s from the Pac-Man 256 folks, but this time the classic titles being mined appear to be Dig-Dug and Mr. Driller. And, yes, that was a terrible pun, because Digby Forever is all about mining, your little hero drilling deep into the ground on a quest for bling, trying to avoid regular cave-ins and various underground ‘one touch equals death’ denizens.

Bar a baffling card power-up system, Digby Forever is a breezy arcade blast. Its little world feels very alive, with explosions blasting pixels across the screen, and various creatures going about their business. Intriguingly, it also deftly deals with that problem in endless games of starting from scratch – here, you always restart from where you were last defeated.

There’s a good chance Little Alchemy would make a scientist angrily hurl their iPad at a wall on their first experience with the game, on account of how fast and loose it plays with the laws of nature.

However, this portal of discovery, thinking outside the box, and, frankly, random guessing, is nonetheless a lot of fun.

You start with the classical elements (air; fire; water; earth), and combine them to create new objects. The aim is to figure out how to make over 500 things, from volcanoes to unicorns.

Some combinations are logical and amusing – a vacuum cleaner is a broom combined with electricity. But a helicopter? That requires you merge an airplane and a windmill. And now we really want to see someone combine those things in the real world.

For the most part, side-on endless runners tend to be ideal iPhone fare, but Archer Dash 2 has a twist that makes it a much better bet for your iPad. In this world of retro-style pixelated graphics, a little archer dashes along, aiming to scoop up blue gems, and jumping to avoid getting fried on electrified fences.

The twist here is the ‘archer’ bit – drag across the left-hand side of the screen and time temporarily slows, so you can aim and unleash an arrow to destroy obstacles or collect out-of-reach bling. Now and again, there’s a frantic boss battle to survive.

On iPhone, the game works fine, but only on iPad are you afforded the precision needed to have a lengthy dash rather than a short sprint.

With Dashy Crashy, the iPad shows bigger (as in, the screen) really can be better. The basics involve swiping to avoid traffic while hurtling along a road. New vehicles are periodically won, each of which has a special skill (such as the UFO abducting traffic, and the taxi picking up fares); and there are also random events to respond to, such as huge dinosaurs barreling along.

On iPad, the gorgeous visuals are more dazzling than on the smaller iPhone, and in landscape or portrait, it’s easier to see what’s in front of you, potentially leading to higher scores.

Also, the game’s multi-touch aware, so you can multi-finger-swipe to change several lanes at once – fiddly on an iPhone but a cinch on a tablet, making for an addictive, just-one-more-go experience.

We shouldn’t encourage them. Infinite Stairs is yet another endless game, almost entirely bereft of innovation – and yet it has two really clever bits that transform it into a surprisingly absorbing offering.

First, the visuals include plenty of large characters bursting with personality. But more importantly, the controls are clever. You get two buttons – ‘turn’ and ‘climb’ – for working your way up a zigzagging staircase to the heavens. ‘Turn’ not only flips you round, but also has you climb a step.

That might not sound like much, but as the timer rapidly depletes, you’ll mess up often in the more winding sections of staircase, curse your thumbs, have another go, and realize you’re once again glued to another endless runner.

Although Solid Soccer has the visual appearance of Amiga classic Sensible Soccer, this is a much more sedate affair, with decidedly strange controls that have more in common with Angry Birds than footie games.

As your little players scoot about the pitch, you use drag and release gestures to tackle and shoot, or drag back and slide left and right to dribble.

This all feels a bit floaty, but a few games in everything clicks, and you’ll have fun kicking off against online opposition. There is a sense of shallowness, however – there’s no offline mode and none of the extensive depth found in the likes of Active Soccer 2. Still, as a freebie iPad kickabout, Solid Soccer manages a scrappy win.

Snake meets land-grabbing in On entering the arena – populated by other players – you swipe to guide your little square about. Encircle a section of space and it fills with your color, boosting your territory score.

You must be careful to not collide with the walls surrounding the arena. Also, square trails are player’s weak spots. Run over an opponent’s and they’re removed from the game, leaving gems you can munch. But the same’s true for you – so watch out.’s a bit heavy on ads and bereft of audio, but the game itself is nonetheless compelling, not least because you can dive right back in for revenge should someone abruptly terminate your go.

Here’s yet another game with a ‘Verby Noun’ moniker, and blocky voxel graphics. But although Guessy Stars riffs off of Crossy Road in those areas, it’s in fact a nicely-designed trivia game, in which you have to guess 300 famous faces, grouped into 12 item rounds.

In each case, you get a basic clue and a figurine to spin. Tap in an answer (using a suitably blocky custom keyboard) and the figurine explodes all over the screen if you guess correctly. If you’re close – just a small misspelling away – the game amusingly moves into game show host mode, asking “Can we take that?”

Should you get stuck, ask for more clues – but note: replenishing your clue token stash requires IAP or watching ads.

On consoles, fighting games tend to need millions of buttons and players to have an eidetic memory to recall all the various combinations for special moves. Mercifully, Marvel Contest of Champions simplifies things for the touchscreen, and gives you the added bonus of having your favorite comic characters smack each other’s faces off.

The plot’s thin, but the side-on one-on-one scraps pack a punch, with you swiping to unleash attacks and holding the screen to block. Visually, it’s a treat, and the fighting element is entertaining and accessible.

And the freemium angle? Well, that can irk in the long term, but – like a Marvel movie – this one’s good for a quick blast every now and again, even if it’s a bit lacking in depth and longevity.

The world’s stretchiest canine’s found himself in a world full of sticky desserts and a surprising number of saw blades. His aim: get to the other end of this deadly yet yummy horizontally scrolling world. The snag: the aforementioned blades, a smattering of puzzles, and the way this particular pooch moves.

In Silly Sausage: Doggy Dessert, the canine hero doesn’t pootle along on tiny legs – instead, you swipe to make his body stretch like an angular snake until he reaches another surface, whereupon his hind quarters catch up.

The result is an impressive side-scroller that’s more sedate puzzler than frantic platformer – aside from in adrenaline-fueled time-based challenge rooms, which even Silly Sausage veterans will be hard-pressed to master. 

Do you like brick-bashing Breakout? Do you like ball-whacking pinball? If so, there’s a good chance you’ll enjoy Super Hyper Ball 2, which mashes the two together. Here, you get flippers to smack the ball around but also a little bat you move back and forth at the foot of the screen. Oh, and there are power-ups, too, which can be triggered to blow up hard-to-reach targets and bricks.

If that all sounds a bit like patting your head while rubbing your stomach, that’s not far off. Super Hyper Ball 2 can be like playing two games simultaneously.

Curiously, given its heritage, it can also be oddly pedestrian at times, but it’s mostly giddy fun, whether facing off against a laser-spewing skull boss, or smashing your way through a whirling disc with colorful bricks glued to its surface.

We’ve lost count of the number of puzzle games where you swipe to force a couple of blocks simultaneously slide about, aiming to make them both reach a goal. And on first glance, that’s Waiit.

But this title cleverly differentiates itself from mundane contemporaries by welding itself to the guts of an endless runner.

In Waiit’s vertically scrolling world, a universe-devouring entity is in hot pursuit. You must rapidly figure out routes to the next exit and deftly perform the swipes required to get both of your squares through unscathed.

Tension is mixed with charm as the little squares holler to each other by way of comic-style balloons. And although you’ll initially fail quickly and often – perhaps even hankering for a hazard-free zen mode – it’s Waiit’s relative toughness that’ll keep you coming back to beat your high score.

The best way to think about Brick Shot is as a radically simplified Tetris where you happen to be hurtling along at insane speeds. There’s just one shape here – a rectangular brick – and it must be fired along one of four columns, with you aiming to complete rows and make them disappear.

For the first fifteen shots, it’s pretty much impossible to mess up. The screen scrolls slowly, ensuring your aim is always true. Then Brick Shot ups the pace considerably, and even only having four columns to decide between can sometimes feel like three too many.

On the iPad at least, your fingers have space to rest and your eyes can more easily track incoming walls. Ongoing success unlocks alternate modes, although the straightforward original’s probably the best.

Coming across like Civilization in miniature, The Battle of Polytopia is all about dominating a tiny isometric world. You explore, capture villages, duff up opponents and discover new technologies in order to build more powerful units.

But the empire building is stripped back, with smart limitations for mobile. The ‘tech tree’ is abbreviated (trust us, you’ll understand when you play), and only one unit can sit in any given square. Also, by default you have a 30-move limit – although hardcore players can opt for a mode where you continue until only one tribe is left standing.

Despite its relative simplicity compared to Civilization, Polytopia has plenty of depth, and can be tough as you delve into the higher difficulty levels. Rather generously, you get the entire thing for free – IAP exists purely to unlock new tribes and boost the number you can face beyond three.

If you know your arcade history, you’ll know that Galaga is one of the earliest single-screen shooters. The sequel to Galaxian – where aliens started fighting back by way of dive-bombing – Galaga added ‘Challenging Stages’, where strings of ships would flit about rather than marching back and forth in formation.

Galaga Wars combines both approaches, increases the pace, adds glossy modern cartoonish graphics, and gleefully ends your war should your ship take a single hit. You must therefore weave through projectiles, efficiently offing opponents, and grabbing power-ups whenever they appear.

Regular boss battles up the ante in what’s a vibrant and compelling shooter. The excitement does eventually wane – levels never change and it’s a grind to reach later ones – but for a time this is a solid free blaster for your iPad, and for many of us that’s just the way we like our tablet gaming.

The original Flappy Golf was a surprise hit, given that it was essentially a joke – a satire on Flappy Bird. While Flappy Golf 2 is a more polished and considered effort, it’s essentially more of the same, giving you courses from the most recent Super Stickman Golf, and adding wings to the balls.

Instead of smacking the ball with a stick, then, you flap it skywards, using left and right buttons to head in the right direction. If you’re a Super Stickman Golf 3 aficionado, Flappy Golf 2 forces you to try very different approaches to minimize flaps and get the scores needed to unlock further courses.

For newcomers, it’s an immediate, fun and silly take on golf, not least when you delve into the manic race mode. The permanent ad during play also makes this a far better bet on iPad than iPhone, where the ad can obscure the course. (Disappointingly, there’s no IAP to eradicate advertising.)

This fast-paced rhythm-action game has you swiping the screen like a lunatic, trying to help your tiny musicians to the end of a piece of classical music without them exploding. Yep, things are tough in the world of Epic Orchestra – one bum note and a violinist or pianist will evaporate in a puff of smoke.

The entire thing is swipe-based. Arrows descend from the top of a narrow column at the centre of the screen, and you must match them with a gesture. At lower difficulty levels, this is insanely easy.

Ramp up the speed, though, and your fingers will soon be in a twist, despite the apparent simplicity of the task. A $1.99/£1.99/AU$2.99 IAP unlocks more songs, but you get five for free.

One of the most ludicrous one-thumb games around, Brake or Break features a car hurtling along the road. You can hold the screen to brake, and if you don’t, the car speeds up. Sooner or later, it’ll be hurled into the air and start spinning, thereby awarding you with huge points – unless you land badly and smash your vehicle to pieces.

There’s a lot of risk-versus-reward and careful timing here, with gameplay that offers a smattering of Tiny Wings and a whole lot of weird.

Most of said oddness comes by way of the environment, which lobs all kinds of objects at your car, and regularly has it propelled into the air by a grinning tornado. Stick out the game long enough (or open your wallet) and you can unlock new worlds and cars to further shake things up.

Instead of blazing through larger-than-life takes on real-world cities, Asphalt Xtreme takes you off-road, zooming through dunes, drifting across muddy flats, and generally treating the great outdoors in a manner that will win you no favors with the local authorities.

As per other entries in the series, this is ballsy arcade racing, with bouncy physics, simple controls, an obsession with boosting, and tracks designed to make you regularly smash your car to bits.

It’s also, sadly, absolutely riddled with freemium cruft: timers; currencies; nags – the lot. But if you can look past that and dip in and out occasionally to allow the game to ‘recharge’, there’s a lot to like in this racer that’s decided roads and rules are so last season.

There’s a delightful and elegant simplicity at the heart of Mars: Mars. The game echoes iPad classic Desert Golfing, in providing a seemingly endless course to explore. But rather than smacking a ball, you’re blasting a little astronaut between landing pads.

The controls also hark back to another game – the ancient Lunar Lander. After blast-off, you tap the sides of the screen to emit little jets of air, attempting to nudge your astronaut in the right direction and break their fall before a collision breaks them.

Smartly, you can have endless tries without penalty, but the game also tots up streaks without death. Repeat play is further rewarded by unlocking characters (also available via IAP), many of which dramatically alter the environment you’re immersed in.

Like a simulation of having a massive migraine while on a stomach-churning roller-coaster, Groove Coaster 2 Original Style is a rhythm action game intent on blasting your optics out while simultaneously making your head spin.

It flings you through dizzying, blazing-fast tracks, asking you to tap or hold the screen to the beat of thumping techno and catchy J-Pop.

The game looks superb – all retro-futuristic vector graphics and explosions of color that are like being stuck inside a mirror ball while 1980s video games whirl around your head.

Mostly you’ll stick around for the exhilarating tap-happy rhythm action, which marries immediacy with plenty of challenge, clever choreography tripping up the complacent on higher difficulty levels.

It never becomes a slog though – tracks are shortish and ideal for quick play; and for free, you can unlock plenty of them, but loads more are available via in-app purchase.

So crazy it has an exclamation mark in its name, Crazy Truck! is essentially a reverse Flappy Bird. Your blocky vehicle bounces around like a hyperactive hybrid of a 4×4 and a flea, abruptly returning to terra firma when you hold the screen.

This sounds simple enough, yet the controls are oddly disorienting, not least when your chunky vehicle’s tasked with avoiding waves of deadly bombs and rockets that litter the screen.. which is at pretty much every moment.

Games are therefore very short; and, frankly, we shouldn’t encourage this kind of iPad game, given that there are so many of them. But Crazy Truck! is colorful – if frequently frustrating – fun, and neatly has you tackle the same ‘course’ until you beat a virtual opponent. (Well, we say ‘neatly’; whether you’ll think that on your 27th attempt…)

Initially, Rings baffles. You’re served some colored rings and told to place them on a three-by-three grid.

But you soon realize you’re in color-matching territory, rings exploding when colors match on a horizontal, vertical or diagonal line.

The twist is that there are three sizes of ring, and sometimes pieces have multiple rings with different colors. You must therefore carefully manage where you place each piece, otherwise the board fills up in a manner that will have you desperately hoping for a tiny green ring before the game bats away your trifling wishes and mercilessly ends your game.

That won’t happen for some time though – the games tend to go on for too long, unless you’re paying no attention whatsoever.

However, if you can carve an hour out of your day, a session with Rings should prove a satisfying and relaxing diversion that gives your brain a bit of a workout. 

Rather than requiring you to build a tower, Six! is all about demolition, tapping to blast Tetris-like shapes from a colorful column. The tiny snag is a hexagon sits at the top, and the second it falls into the void, your game is over.

In theory, Six! is the kind of game that should be ridiculously easy. In reality, the hexagon is big and unwieldy and the tower narrow enough that you must take care removing blocks, lest the plummeting shape spin and fling itself to certain doom.

When that happens, the simple fun rather nicely concludes with a frantic ‘last call’, where you tap like a maniac to grab a bunch of extra points before the screen dims.

We have absolutely no idea what’s going on in Masky. What we do know is that this is a deeply weird but thoroughly compelling game.

According to the game’s blurb, Masky’s all about some kind of grand costume ball, with you dancing to mystic sounds and inviting other masked dancers to join you. What this means in practice is shuffling left and right, adding other dancers to your merry band, and ensuring the balance meter never goes beyond red. If it does, everyone falls over – masks everywhere.

Beyond the lovely graphics and audio, there’s a smart – if simple – game here. Some masks from newcomers added to your line shake things up, flipping the screen or temporarily removing the balance meter.

Inevitably, everything also speeds up as you play, making keeping balance increasingly tough. We don’t doubt the unique visuals count for a lot regarding Masky’s pull, but the strange premise and compelling gameplay keep you dancing for the long haul.

Perhaps our favorite thing about Level With Me is that it’s, really, very silly indeed. The premise is to balance things on a massive plank, precariously perched atop the pointy bit of a tower.

Said plank’s position is shifted by tapping water at the foot of the screen, launching massive bubbles. These counter whatever’s lurking on top, unless you mess up and everything slides into the sea and explodes.

Tasks come thick and fast, often lasting mere seconds. You must quickly figure out how to balance 10 people when they’re being chased by zombies, construct a hamburger when its component parts are being lobbed from the heavens, and pop balloons by using a trundling hedgehog.

The themes admittedly repeat quite often, but everything’s so charming (and your games are so short) that this doesn’t really matter.

It’s safe to say that subtlety wasn’t on the menu of whatever service Ding Dong Delivery represents. This is a brash endless runner of the tap head/rub belly variety. You control a delivery vehicle, smashing its way along a road, attempting to hurl takeaways at waiting hungry people who might think otherwise about ordering from you in future.

This is a two-button effort, one lobs food and the other switches lanes. Games mostly involve frantically mashing the throw food button, hoping for the best, while maniacally weaving between parked cars and avoiding idiots driving into the middle of the road without looking.

It’s part Paperboy, part Flappy Bird, and while the action eventually palls, it’s always good for a quick blast – especially when you start unlocking vehicles and get to deliver pizza using a massive tank.

The BAFTA-winning INKS rethought pinball for mobile, breaking it down into bite-sized simple tables that were more like puzzles. Precision shots – and few of them – were the key to victory. PinOut! thinks similarly, while simultaneously transforming the genre into an against-the-clock endless runner.

The idea is to always move forwards, shooting the ball up ramps that send it to the next miniature table. Along the way, you grab dots to replenish the relentlessly ticking down timer, find and use power-ups, and play the odd mini-game, in a game that recalls basic but compelling fare once found on the LED displays of real-life tables.

PinOut! is gorgeous – all neon-infused tables and silky smooth synth-pop soundtrack. And while the seemingly simplified physics might nag pinball aficionados, it makes for an accessible and playable game for everyone else.

There’s not a lot of originality in King Rabbit, but it’s one of those simple and endearing puzzle games that sucks you in and refuses to let go until you’ve worked your way through the entire thing.

The premise is hackneyed — bunnies have been kidnapped, and a sole hero must save them. And the gameplay is familiar too, where you leap about a grid-like landscape, manipulating objects, avoiding hazards, finding keys, unlocking doors, and reaching a goal.

But the execution is such that King Rabbit is immediately engaging, while new ideas keep coming as you work through the dozens of puzzles. Pleasingly, the game also increases the challenge so subtly that you barely notice — until you realise you’ve been figuring out a royal bunny’s next moves into the wee small hours.

From the off, it’s obvious Ollie Cats isn’t taking itself seriously. The aim is to ‘ollie’ (jump) an endless number of cats heading in your rad skateboarder’s direction. You can perform all manner of tricks (including grinding along fences when loads of cats suddenly appear), but the game in miserly fashion only bestows a single point per cat cleared, regardless of your amazing skills.

However, you can also be the cat. That’s right – it’s possible to play the game as a black moggie on a board, aiming to become the coolest feline around. There are fewer stunts in this mode, but it’s so ridiculous that the cat version of the game fast became our favorite.

There’s very much an old-school vibe about Sports Hero, and it’s not just the pixelated graphics, with characters so jagged you might cut yourself on their kneecaps.

There’s also the control method, which has you hammer virtual buttons to make the retro athletes sprint, swim or lift weights. You’ll look faintly ridiculous bashing away at your iPad’s display, but there’s something satisfying about such a simple, exhausting control scheme.

Sports Hero trips over the odd hurdle in its quest for a medal with its grindy nature. It very clearly wants you to grab an all-disciplines IAP, and so slowly drips XP your way for unlocks. But even with only a few events available, this is an entertaining title for armchair Olympians who fancy working up a sweat. 

In a marked departure from the impressive Phoenix HD and its procedurally generated bullet hell,Phoenix II shoves you through set-piece vertically scrolling shoot ’em up grinders. Every 24 hours, a new challenge appears, tasking you with surviving a number of waves comprising massive metal space invaders belching hundreds of deadly bullets your way.

A single hit to your craft’s core (a small spot at its center) brings destruction, forcing you to memorize attack and bullet patterns and make use of shields and deflectors if you’ve any hope of survival. You do sometimes slam into a brick wall, convinced a later wave is impossible to beat.

To lessen the frustration, there’s always the knowledge you’ll get another crack at smashing new invaders the following day. Regardless, this is a compelling, dazzling and engaging shooter for iPad.

Sharing DNA with Super Hexagon and ALONE…, Barrier X is the kind of game that merrily smacks you in the face for having the audacity to blink.

Hurling you at insane speeds along minimal 3D tracks that some idiot’s peppered with walls, all you have to do is head left and right to avoid crashing. But this isn’t so simple when blazing along at about a million miles per hour.

Comically, Barrier X speeds up every 15 seconds; and if you survive long enough further challenges are unlocked. Suddenly, you’re told to travel through (rather than avoid) certain barriers, and to shoot rivals, all while attempting to not become so much space dust.

Minimal visuals and a thumping soundtrack further add to Barrier X’s brutal charms – it’s an exhilarating, exciting title among the very best of its kind.

If you’ve experienced Colin Lane’s deranged take on wrestling (the decidedly oddball Wrassling), you probably know what you’re in for with Dunkers. In theory, this is side-on one-on-one basketball, but Dunkers is knowingly mad.

You only get two buttons, one of which dodders your player back towards their own basket, while the other lurches them into the air and in the opposite direction. All the while, their arms whirl like a hysterical clock.

You battle as best you can, grabbing the ball from your berserk opponent, fighting your way to the basket, and slam dunking victoriously. The entire thing is ridiculous, almost the antithesis of photo-realistic fare like NBA 2K; but we’d also argue that it’s a lot more fun.

An excellent example in how iteration can improve a game, The Little Fox was almost impossible upon release. But a reduction in speed and some restart points proved transformative, enabling you to immerse yourself in a sweet-natured, great-looking pathfinding arcade outing.

The titular fox is on a quest that takes the bounding carnivore through 13 varied lands. Pathways comprise hexagons littered with collectables and hazards, and at any moment you can only turn left or right or continue straight on.

At the original breakneck pace (still available as an in-game option), this all feels too much. But when slowed down, The Little Fox reveals itself to be a clever, imaginative, fun title, with surprises to be found on every planet the furry critter visits.

It’s hard to imagine a less efficient way of building and maintaining a zoo than what you see in Rodeo Stampede. Armed with a lasso, you foolishly venture into a stampede and leap from animal to animal, attempting to win their hearts by virtue of not being flung to the ground.

You then whisk beaten animals away to a zoo in a massive sky-based craft – the kind of place where you imagine the Avengers might hang out if they gave up crime-fighting and decided to start jailing animals rather than villains.

Despite overly familiar chunky visuals (Crossy Road has a lot to answer for), this fast-paced, breezy game is a lot of fun, with you dragging left and right to avoid blundering into rocks, and lifting your finger to soar into the air, aiming to catch another rampaging beast.

Much like previous entries in the series, Super Stickman Golf 3 finds a tiny golfer dumped in fantastical surroundings. So rather than thwacking a ball about carefully tended fairways and greens, there are castles full of teleporters and a moon base bereft of gravity. The Ryder Cup, this is not.

New to the series is a spin mechanic, for flipping impossible shots off of ceilings and nudging fluffed efforts holewards on the greens. You also get turn-by-turn battles against Game Centre chums and a frenetic multiplayer race mode.

The spendthrift release is limited, though, restricting how many two-player battles you have on the go, locking away downloadable courses beyond the 20 initially built-in, and peppering the game with ads. Even so, you get a lot for nothing, should you be after new side-on golfing larks but not want to pay for the privilege.

Apparently the national sport of Slamdovia, a country where blocky people look like they just stepped out of a Commodore 64, Wrassling is like wrestling combined with a dollop of sheer stupid.

You’re dropped into the ring and must fling your opponents into the inky gloom before they do the same to you. Ridiculous controls (spin your arms with all your might!) and absurdly bouncy physics add to the game’s oddball nature, which will put a smile on your face before it’s promptly smashed into the canvas and then rudely hurled into the air.

With more than a hint of Fruit Ninja about it, Bushido Bear finds a sword-wielding teddy defending the forest against endless waves of evil demons. You get a brief warning about where your assailants will appear, and must quickly drag paths to move your bear about; it’ll then get suitably slashy and stabby, hopefully not blundering into an enemy in the meantime.

It’s a fast-paced affair, and you’ll need swift reactions to survive. Over time, you unlock additional frenzied furry animals, each with their own particular skills. And, amusingly, when a bear is killed, its colleague can be thrown into the fray, ready for some angry ninja bear vengeance!

If you like the idea of golf, but not traipsing around greens in the drizzle, WGT: World Tour Golf is the closest you’ll get to the real thing on your iPad. Courses have been meticulously rebuilt in virtual form, based on thousands of photographs, and WGT’s control scheme is accessible yet also quite punishing.

There’s no mucking about spinning balls in mid-air to alter your shot here – mess up and you’ll know about it, with a score card massively over par. But this is a game that rewards mastery and perseverance, and you feel like a boss once you crack how to land near-perfect shots.

WGT is, mind, a touch ad-heavy at times, but this is countered by there being loads to do, including head-to-head online multiplayer and a range of tournaments to try your hand at.

In Clash Royale, two players battle online, sending out troops to obliterate their opponent’s three towers, while simultaneously protecting their own. It comes across a bit like animated chess, if chess pieces were armed to the teeth and ranged from a giant robot with a huge scythe to an army of skittering skeletons.

The troops you have available come by way of cards you collect, from which you select a deck of eight. In matches, elixir gradually tops up, which can be ‘spent’ deploying said troops, forcing you to manage resources and spot when your opponent might be dry.

Clash Royale is very much a freemium game. You can spend a ton of real-world cash on virtual coins to buy and upgrade cards. However, doing so isn’t really necessary, and we’ve heard of people getting to the very highest levels in the game without spending a penny. But even if you find yourself scrapping in the lower leagues, Clash Royale is loads of fun.

Following in the footsteps of Tomb Raider and Hitman, Uncharted: Fortune Hunter has been squirted into your iPad in puzzle-game form. Hero of the hour Nathan Drake must nab loot by working out how to not-horribly die across dozens of grid-based puzzles. Fortune Hunter lacks the polish and atmosphere of Lara Croft GO and Hitman GO, but it’s still worth grabbing.

The puzzles are smartly designed, and ideal for mobile play, taking only a few minutes each to solve. And if you own the latest PS4 Uncharted, some of the iPad achievements can benefit Drake on your console (even if said benefits might only be a natty new hat).

Tie-ins between indie game companies and major movie houses often end badly, but Disney Crossy Road bucks the trend. It starts off like the original Crossy Road — an endless take on Frogger. Only here, Mickey Mouse picks his way across motorways, train lines and rivers, trying to avoid death by drowning or being splattered across a windscreen.

But unlock new characters (you’ll have several for free within a few games) and you open up further Disney worlds, each with unique visuals and challenges.

In Toy Story, Woody and Buzz dodge tumbling building blocks, whereas the inhabitants of Haunted Mansion are tasked with keeping the lights on and avoiding a decidedly violent suit of armour.

Elsewhere, Inside Out has you dart about collecting memories, which are sucked up for bonus points. And on the iPad, the gorgeous chunky visuals of these worlds really get a chance to shine.

Forget-Me-Not is a distillation of the very best classic arcade games. A little square mooches about procedurally generated mazes, munching flowers, and shooting anything that gets in its way. When the flowers are gone, you grab the key and make for the exit.

It’s a simple concept (as are all the best arcade games), but what makes Forget-Me-Not memorable is how alive everything feels. Varied maze inhabitants regularly beam in, some doddering about while others wage all-out war, with the demented vigour of the most psychotic videogame characters.

The net result is a frenetic neon mash-up of Pac-Man, Rogue, Wizard of Wor and a half-dozen other 1980s classics, but one that manages to match or surpass all of them. That it’s entirely free (of price tag and IAP) makes it iPad gaming’s biggest bargain.

This smashy endless arcade sports title has more than a hint of air hockey about it, but PKTBALL is also infused with the breakneck madness associated with Laser Dog’s brutal iOS games.

It takes place on a tiny cartoon tennis court, with you swiping across the ball to send it back to your opponent. But this game is *really* fast, meaning that although you’ll clock how to play PKTBALL almost immediately, mastering it takes time.

In solo mode, the computer AI offers plenty of challenge, but it’s in multiplayer matches that PKTBALL serves an ace. Two to four people duke it out, swiping like lunatics (and hopefully not hurling the iPad away in a huff, like a modern-day McEnroe, when things go bad).

As ever, there are new characters to unlock, each of which boasts its own court and background music. Our current favourite: a little Game Boy, whose court has a certain famous blocky puzzle game playing in the background.

At first glance, Looty Dungeon comes across like a Crossy Road wannabe. But you soon realise it’s actually a very smartly designed endless dungeon crawler that just happens to pilfer Crossy Road’s control method, chunky visual style, and sense of urgency.

You begin as a tiny stabby knight, scooting through algorithmically generated isometric rooms. You must avoid spikes and chopping axes, outrun a collapsing floor, and dispatch monsters. The action is fast-paced, lots of fun, and challenges your dexterity and ability to think on the move.

As is seemingly law in today’s mobile gaming landscape, Looty Dungeon also nags at the collector in you, offering characters to unlock. But these aren’t just decorative in nature — they have unique weapons, which alter how you play. For example, an archer has better range than the knight, but no defensive shield when up against an angry witch or ravenous zombie.

It’s not every day you get to become a robot superhero, protecting the public in the retro-futuristic Helsinki. But future Finns should be thrilled Byteman is about, because their capital city appears to be chock full of burning buildings, robbers, and villains escaping in helicopters.

Your task is to fly about, using your radar to swoop in and be all heroic, without slamming into a building while doing so. The controls are straightforward (move with your left thumb and ‘speed boost’ with your right), and there’s a handy radar to figure out which cases to prioritise.

It all comes across a bit like a robot superhero Crazy Taxi, albeit one where the valiant android must occasionally head above the clouds to recharge its solar panels. (We bet Captain Marvel never had that problem.)

In the tiny isometric world of Traffic Rush 2, traffic lights are seemingly anathema to the general public. Instead, dangerous crossings are manned by the kind of people who need the steely nerve of an air-traffic controller. Cars rush in, and each can be temporarily stopped with a tap or given a boost with a swipe. Your job is to keep the traffic flowing and avoid a hideous pile-up.

Of course, a hideous pile-up is inevitable, not least when you’re dealing with an increasing number of cars coming from all directions, driven by people who we’re pretty sure have never taken a driving test in their lives.

Fortunately, wreckage is instantly cleared with the tap of a button, enabling you to have another go. Additionally, as is seemingly law these days, Traffic Rush 2 has you collect coins, receive ‘rewards’, and grab prizes from a machine. These enhance the game, adding new vehicles to the mix, and making the crashes a bit more colourful.

Endless 3D avoid ’em ups have been a mainstay on the App Store ever since Cube Runner arrived way back in 2008. Geometry Race, like the older title, is keen on you learning a fixed course over repeat attempts, rather than battling your way through semi-randomised landscapes. Unlike Cube Runner, though, Geometry Race is a visual treat.

For reasons unknown, your spaceship finds itself zooming through worlds packed full of geometric obstacles, such as huge toppling letters and marching cubes. Beyond not colliding with anything, you must grab fuel to recharge your ship and coins that can be used to unlock better spaceships and additional worlds.

The lack of variety may eventually dent the game’s own long-term survival on your device, but for a while Geometry Race is bright and breezy fun.

Although Hectic Space 2 looks like it’s been wrenched kicking and screaming from a 1980’s 8-bit console, this is a thoroughly modern bullet-hell shooter. You slide your finger vertically on the left side of the screen to move your ship and the sole aim is survival, which involves avoiding projectiles while your ship’s automatic weapon blasts anything in your path.

The gaudy graphics oddly prove beneficial, making it easy to spot enemy fire (red — so much red), and are occasionally dazzling when facing off against inventively designed bosses.

You know you’re not sitting in front of an old Atari when a giant skull bounces around the screen, or a bunch of Space Invaders changes formation, becoming a massive gun that fires countless bullets your way.

The original iSlash came across a bit like a thinking man’s Fruit Ninja combined with arcade classic Qix. Each challenge involved slicing off bits of a wooden box, carefully avoiding the shuriken bouncing about within.

iSlash Heroes is more of the same in freemium form, albeit with revamped graphics, a load of new levels, bosses that muck about with the board as you play, and some infrequent irritating social gubbins that occasionally blocks your way for a bit.

Despite some niggles, it remains a smart, engaging arcade effort, which works especially well on the iPad, given that the large screen enables you to be a bit more precise when slicing off those final slivers of wood required to meet your target.

This block-merging puzzle game is based on dominoes, where you place pieces on the board, and when three or more identical tiles sit next to each other they’re sucked into a single piece with a larger number.

Should three or more sixes merge, they create an M. Merge three of those and they obliterate a three-by-three section of the board, giving you temporary breathing space.

The claustrophobic nature of Merged! means you must think carefully when placing every piece, and try to create cascades that will quickly increment tile values. It’s a bit too random at times, and has some distasteful freemium trappings, but otherwise this is a fine puzzler for your iPad.

At some point, developers will run out of new ways to present endless runners, but that moment hasn’t yet arrived. Surfingers tries something a bit different, marrying the genre with a kind of stripped-back breakneck match puzzler. You must line up the blocky wave you’re currently on to match whatever’s coming next, lest your surfer abruptly wipe-out.

At first, this is leisurely and simple, with you swiping up and down, avoiding maniacs in low-flying hot-air balloons, and collecting stars. But before long, you’re two-finger swiping to get past massive rocks and buried spaceships, surfing across snowy mountains and sand dunes, and thinking a dip in the shallows might have been a smarter move. And it turns out even being an ice-cool crocodile riding a rubber duck won’t save you if those shapes don’t line up.

Touchscreens have opened up many new ways to play games, but scribbling with a finger is perhaps the most natural. And that’s essentially all you do in Magic Touch, which sounds pretty reductive – right up until you start playing.

The premise is that you’re a wizard, fending off invading nasties who all oddly use balloons to parachute towards their prize. Match the symbol on any balloon and it pops, potentially causing a hapless intruder to meet the ground rather more rapidly than intended. Initially, this is all very simple, but when dozens of balloons fill your field of vision, you’ll be scrawling like crazy, desperately fending off the invasion to keep the wizard gainfully employed.

The first thing that strikes you about Into the Dim is that it transforms your iPad into a giant Game Boy – at least from a visual standpoint. Its chunky yellowed graphics hark back to handheld gaming’s past; but to some extent, this is also true of Into the Dim’s mechanics.

It’s a turn-based RPG, featuring a boy and his dog exploring dungeons, outwitting enemies, and uncovering a mystery. But whereas most modern mobile fare offers procedurally generated levels, Into the Dim’s dungeons have all been carefully individually designed. It rewards planning, strategic thinking, and patience; and although the game’s finite nature means it can be beaten, doing so will make you feel like a boss, rather than a player being put through the ‘random mill’ time and time again.

Taking the most famous video game character of all and shoving him into an endless freemium title could have ended disastrously. Fortunately, Pac-Man 256 is by the people behind Crossy Road – and it’s just as compelling.

In Pac-Man 256, our rotund hero finds himself beyond the infamous level 256 glitch, which has become an all-consuming swarm of broken code that must be outrun. Pac-Man must therefore speed through the endless maze, munching dots, avoiding ghosts, and making use of power-ups dotted about the place.

And there aren’t just power pellets this time round – Pac-Man can fry ghosts with lasers, or implement stealth technology to move through his spectral foes as if they weren’t even there.

Routing cabling in the real world is a source of fury, and so it might not be the smartest procedure to make into a game played on a device with a glass screen. But Aux B turns out to be a lot of fun, routing INs and OUTs, across increasingly large and complex patch boards, striving to make music blare forth.

There are 80 levels, although towards the end, you wonder whether someone should have a quiet word with the gig organiser and suggest a set-up that’s a wee bit simpler. (And once you’re done with the 80, the game continues randomising levels forever, placing you in a weirdly entertaining mixing desk ‘purgatory’.)

Very occasionally, free games appear that are so generous you wonder what the catch is. Cally’s Caves 3 is rather Metroid, except the hero of the hour is a little girl who has pigtails, stupid parents who keep getting kidnapped, and a surprisingly large arsenal of deadly weapons. She leaps about, blasting enemies, and conquering bosses. Weapons are levelled up simply by shooting things with them, and the eight zones take some serious beating — although not as much as the legions of grunts you’re shooting at.

It’s always the way — you’re looking for work, armed with your useless degree, and all that’s available is a job in a sweltering chocolate factory, under the watchful eye of an angry penguin overseer. At least that’s the story in Coolson’s Artisanal Chocolate Alphabet, which hangs an absurdly addictive word game on this premise. Sort chocolate letters from a conveyor belt into boxes with slots, creating words while doing so; make your boss slightly less angry by spelling out seafood whenever possible; and don’t let too much chocolate fall into the trash!

The notion of a freemium on-rails Crazy Taxi must seem like sacrilege to Dreamcast fans. And yet although a serviceable port of the original arcade game exists, it feels a bit awkward on a touchscreen device. Surprisingly, Crazy Taxi City Rush manages to capture some of the original’s spirit and madness.

You belt along city streets, picking up fares and dropping them off within tight time limits, all while cheesy rock music is hammered into your ears. There’s more than a whiff of freemium, but if you’re prepared to grind a bit and spend wisely on upgrades, you won’t have to dig into your real-world wallet.

In a world of exploitative freemium gaming, Crossy Road shows an entire industry how things could be done. The basic gameplay is endless Frogger — avoid traffic, navigate rivers by way of floating logs, and try to not get splattered across the front of a speeding train. But the genius is in triggering people’s collector mentality. During the game, you pick up coins, which can be pumped into a one-armed bandit that dispenses new characters. These often dramatically change how the game looks and plays. You’ll want to collect them all. You can of course buy them outright, but Crossy Road is generous in flinging coins your way. Nice.

Time travel weirdness meets the morning rush hour in Does Not Commute. You get a short story about a character, and guide their car to the right road. Easy! Only the next character’s car must be dealt with while avoiding the previous one. And the next. Before long, you’re a dozen cars in and weaving about like a lunatic, desperately trying to avoid a pile-up. For free, you get the entire game, but with the snag that you must always start from scratch, rather than being able to use checkpoints that appear after each zone. (You can unlock these for a one-off payment of $2.99/£2.99/AU$4.49.)

With its numbered sliding squares and soaring scores, there’s more than a hint of Threes! about Imago. In truth, Threes! remains the better game, on the basis that it’s more focussed, but Imago has plenty going for it. The idea is to merge pieces of the same size and colour, which when they get too big explode into smaller pieces that can be reused.

The clever bit is each of these smaller pieces retains the score of the larger block. This means that with smart thinking, you can amass colossal scores that head into the billions. The game also includes daily challenges with different success criteria, to keep you on your toes.

Pool for massive show-offs, with the table’s pockets removed, Magnetic Billiards is all about smacking balls about in a strategic manner. Those that are the same colour stick together; the aim is to connect them all, preferably into a bonus shape, whereupon they vanish. Balls of different colours must not collide, but can ‘buzz’ each other for bonus points; further points come from cushion bounces. For free, you get the ‘classic’ level set, with 20 tables. If you want more, a $1.99/£1.49/AU$2.99 ‘skeleton key’ IAP unlocks everything else in the game.

With iPads lacking tactile controls, they should be rubbish for platform games. But savvy developers have stripped back the genre, creating hybrid one-thumb auto-runner/platformers. These are entirely reliant on careful timing, the key element of more traditional fare.

Mr. Crab further complicates matters by wrapping its levels around a pole. The titular crustacean ambles back and forth, scooping up baby crabs, and avoiding the many enemies lurking about the place. The end result is familiar and yet fresh. You get a selection of diverse levels for free, and additional packs are available via IAP.

Having played Planet Quest, we imagine whoever was on naming duties didn’t speak to the programmer. If they had, the game would be called Awesome Madcap Beam-Up One-Thumb Rhythm Action Insanity — or possibly something a bit shorter. Anyway, you’re in a spaceship, prodding the screen to repeat beats you’ve just heard. Doing so beams up dancers on the planet’s surface; get your timing a bit wrong and you merely beam-up their outfits; miss by a lot and you lose a life. To say this one’s offbeat would be a terrible pun, but entirely accurate; it’d also be true to say this is the most fun rhythm action game on iPad — and it doesn’t cost a penny.

We imagine the creators of Smash Hit really hate glass. Look at it, sitting there with its stupid, smug transparency, letting people see what’s on the other side of it. Bah! Smash it all! Preferably with ball-bearings while flying along corridors! And that’s Smash Hit — fly along, flinging ball-bearings, don’t hit any glass face-on, and survive for as long as possible.

There are 50 rooms in all, but cheapskates start from scratch each time; pay $1.99/£1.99/AU$2.99 for the premium unlock and you get checkpoints, stats, iCloud sync, and alternative game modes.

One of the most innovative multiplayer titles we’ve ever played, Spaceteam has you and a bunch of friends in a room, each staring at a rickety and oddball spaceship control panel on your device’s display. Instructions appear, which need a fast response if your ship is to avoid being swallowed up by an exploding star. But what you see might not relate to your screen and controls. Spaceteam therefore rapidly descends into a cacophony of barked demands and frantic searches across control panels (which helpfully start falling to bits), in a last-ditch attempt to ‘set the Copernicus Crane to 6’ or ‘activate the Twinmill’ and avoid fiery death.

A somewhat chessish two-player effort, Outwitters finds teams of angry sea creatures battling to the death, first helpfully arming them with surprisingly dangerous weapons. (It turns out crabs eschew claws when they’ve a mortar cannon to hand.)

Despite the cartoonish visuals, this is a deep and immersive strategy experience. Games are further complicated by a ‘fog of war’, which means units cannot see any further than they can move. This makes Outwitters tough to master but more rewarding on doing so and chalking up your first victories.

The best puzzle game on mobile, Threes! has you slide cards about a grid, merging pairs to create ever higher numbers. The catch is all cards slide as one, unless they cannot move; additionally, each turn leads to a new card in a random empty slot on the edge you swiped away from. It’s all about careful management of a tiny space.

On launch, Threes! was mercilessly cloned, with dozens of alternatives flooding iTunes, but 2048 and its ilk lack the charm and fine details that made Threes! so great in the first place. And now there’s Threes! Free, where you watch ads to top up a ‘free goes’ bin, there’s no excuse for going with inferior pretenders.

“Expect retro graphics and megatons of enemies,” says the developer about this twin-stick shooter, adding: “Don’t expect a story”. With its vector graphics and Robotronish air, PewPew brings to mind Geometry Wars and Infinity Field, but without a price tag.

Despite being free, PewPew nonetheless boasts five modes of shooty goodness. These range from the aptly named ‘Pandemonium’, where enemies spin around the screen on dying, to the more thoughtful (but still manic) ‘Chromatic Conflict’, where you can only shoot foes whose colour matches your ship.

It turns out if you’re a sheep that thinks the grass is greener, you should check out the other side of the fence first. In Flockwork, wooly heroes make a break for freedom, but end up immersed in a kind of ruminant hell. Your task: help the sheep escape.

The tiny snag is that all the sheep move as one, meaning you must use a combination of quick thinking, finger gymnastics and fast reactions to ensure they don’t drown, get eaten by clockwork wolves, or end up getting stuck behind walls like wooly idiots.

At some point, a total buffoon decreed that racing games should be dull and grey, on grey tracks, with grey controls. Gameloft’s Asphalt series dispenses with such foolish notions, along with quite a bit of reality.

Here, in Asphalt 8, you zoom along at ludicrous speeds, drifting for miles through exciting city courses, occasionally being hurled into the air to perform stunts that absolutely aren’t acceptable according to the car manufacturer’s warranty. It’s admittedly a bit grindy, but if you tire of zooming about the tracks in this game, there’s no hope for you.

QatQi starts off a bit like Scrabble in the dark, until you figure out that you’re really immersed in a kind of Roguelike mash-up. So although the aim is to make crosswords from a selection of letters, you’re also tasked with exploring dungeons to find score-boosting stars and special tiles.

This results in QatQi being a bit like a puzzler on top of a puzzler. You must balance the best works with the ability to move on, trying hard to not get backed into a corner. Undos soften the blow if you mess up, although you’ll need IAP to buy more.

Tiny people in a tiny skyscraper need you to feed then tiny sushi and do other tiny tasks. Things can, inevitably, be sped up by not-so-tiny IAP cash infusions, but if you’re a patient sort, and keen on micromanagement games, Tiny Tower is a charming, enjoyable title that will eat many tiny moments out of your day.

The basic aim of Tilt to Live is simple: avoid the red dots, either by cunning dodging and weaving or by triggering explosive devices in the arena. At the time, this wasn’t especially innovative, and Tilt to Live has itself since spawned two (paid) sequels.

Even so, the game manages to appeal, largely due to its polish and sense of humour — the latter of which is especially handy when you miss your high score by moments during a particularly gruelling game and fancy flinging your device out of the window. You get the basic mode for free, and others can be unlocked by in-app purchase.

It’s not the most interesting-looking game in the world, but luckily the magic of Choice of the Dragon is in its witty prose. Playing as a multiple-choice text adventure, akin to an extremely stripped-back RPG, this game is an amusing romp. It also, through a combination of stats and branching pathways with more than two options, boasts more depth than many more recent stabs at text-based iOS adventuring.

It’s hard not to love Frotz when you see its App Store description ‘warn’ that it involves “reading, thinking, and typing” and that if you “just want to blow stuff up”, it’s not the app for you. And that’s very true, given that this is an interactive fiction player.

You load titles written for the Z-Machine format (such as the famous Zork trilogy), and explore virtual worlds by typing in commands such as ‘go north’ and ‘put the long dangly bit into the Tea Substitute’. As you might expect, Frotz works particularly well on an iPad (rather than the smaller screen of an iPhone), and it adds a menu for common commands to speed you along a bit.

In Triple Town, you have to think many moves ahead to succeed. It’s a match game where trios of things combine to make other things, thereby giving you more space on the board to evolve your town. For example, three bushes become a tree, and three trees become a hut.

All the while, roaming bears and ninjas complicate matters, blocking squares on the board. At times surreal, Triple Town is also brain-bending and thoroughly addictive. Free moves slowly replenish, but you can also unlock unlimited moves via IAP.

Pinball games tend to be divided into two camps. One aims for a kind of realism, aping real-world tables. The other takes a more arcade-oriented approach. Zen Pinball is somewhere in-between, marrying realistic physics with tables that come to life with animated 3D figures.

Loads of tables are available via IAP, including some excellent Star Wars and Marvel efforts. But for free you get access to the bright and breezy Sorcerer’s Lair, which, aside from some dodgy voice acting, is a hugely compelling and fast-paced table with plenty of missions and challenges to discover.

Who knew you could have such fun with a five-by-five grid of letters? In Letterpress, you play friends via Game Center, making words to colour lettered squares. Surround any and they’re out of reach from your friend’s tally. Cue: word-tug-o’-war, last-minute reversals of fortune, and arguments about whether ‘qat’ is a real word or not. (It is.)

With almost limitless possibilities in videogames, it’s amazing how many are drab grey and brown affairs. Frisbee Forever 2 (like its similarly impressive forerunner) is therefore a breath of fresh air with its almost eye-searing vibrance.

There’s a kind of Nintendo vibe – a sense of fun that continues through to the gameplay, which is all about steering a frisbee left and right, collecting stars strewn along winding paths. And these are a world away from the parks you’d usually fling plastic discs about in – here, you’re hurled along roller-coaster journeys through ancient ruins and gorgeous snowy hillsides.

Proving that great ideas never die, Shadow Era brings trading cards to life on the iPad. What you lose in not being able to smell the ink and manually shuffle the deck, you gain in not being able to lose the cards or have them eaten by the dog. It’s all very swords-and-fantasy oriented, and just like in real life you can also buy extra cards if you feel the need.

Score! takes the basic premise of a million path-drawing games and wraps it around classic footie goals. The combination works really well, with you attempting to recreate the ball’s path in the best goals the world’s ever seen. Failure results in a baying crowd and, frequently, improbable goalkeeping heroics.

The game’s since had a sequel, but we prefer the original, which is less aggressive in its freemium model.

The original Monsters Ate My Condo was like Jenga and a match-three game shoved into a blender with a massive dollop of crazy. Super Monsters Ate My Condo is a semi-sequel which takes a time-attack approach, shoe-horning the bizarre tower-building/floor-matching/monster-feeding into a tiny amount of time, breaking your brain in the process.

Essentially, you aim to manage like-colored apartments in a single-column tower, flinging unwanted floors into the maws of flanking beasts. Lob gems their way and they’ll power-up in a suitably odd manner. Give them the wrong colour, and they’ll have a massive tantrum, potentially destroying all your hard work.

Argh! That’s pretty much what you’ll be yelling on a regular basis on playing this endless racer. Cubed Rally Redline shouldn’t be difficult. You can go left or right on five clearly defined lanes, and there’s a ‘time brake’ for going all slow-motion, Matrix-style, to weave through tricky gaps; but you’ll still be smashing into cows, dinosaurs and bridges before you know it.

You’ll persevere if you’re particularly bloody minded, or just to see what other visual treats the developer’s created for hardcore players.

In Smash Cops, you got to be the good guy, bringing down perps, mostly by ramming them into oblivion. Now in Smash Bandits it’s your chance to be a dangerous crim, hopping between vehicles and leaving a trail of destruction in your wake. Smartly, this can all be done with a single finger, which is all you need to steer, drive and smash.

The game also amusingly includes the A-Team van and a gadget known only as the Jibba Jabba. We love it when a plan comes together!

If you liked this, then make sure you check out our best free iPad apps roundup!

Firefox is the latest web browser to add support for VR viewing

Mozilla’s open-source web browser will soon be compatible with virtual reality headsets, as Firefox’s big update Tuesday adds support for both the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive.

Dubbed Firefox 55 and launching August 8, the upgraded web browser for Windows PCs will now include WebVR — the platform that allows web browsers to function with VR headsets.

Competing browsers like Google Chrome and Microsoft Edge added WebVR support earlier this year, so Firefox isn’t too far behind the trend of adding support for VR content over the web.

However, VR isn’t the only feature coming with Firefox 55. In addition to the usual stability and security updates, the latest version also includes Firefox Screenshots — a new way to capture images on your screen, edit and export them in a shareable format without leaving your browser.

While expected to debut tomorrow, it’s worth noting Firefox 55 may still take some time to roll out to everyone. That said, it should finish well before September 26, when the next major update of Firefox is expected to release.

Via Engadget

  • HTC Vive vs Oculus Rift: Which headset is for you?

You’ll soon be able to customize the Xbox One’s Home screen any way you like

Though it’s come a long way since launch in 2014, Microsoft is still hard at work cleaning up the Xbox One’s trademark messy Home screen.

In its latest attempt to clear up the clutter, Microsoft is introducing an update that, among other things, brings a customizable Home designed to get you right to your favorite games, apps and friends.

Rolling out now to members of Xbox’s Insider program, starting at the Alpha Ring tier, the updated home screen allows you jump back into your most recent game from the very first menu, plus shortcuts for your favorite games and friends — chosen and organized at your discretion.

But wait, there’s more!

In addition to the Home menu, the Community screen — where users share their game clips, achievements and other goings-on with each other — is also getting a revamp for easier browsing. 

The Guide tab, used for quick navigation on the side, has also been tweaked for faster use — making getting to certain shortcuts like the settings menu that much quicker.

It’s not just Xbox owners who will benefit from this update, either. Windows 10 users will also get a redesigned Game Bar feature that allows console and PC players to quickly access streaming and broadcast options mid-game.

While we’re glad Xbox is (constantly) re-tooling its interface for ease-of-use, the reliance on cluttered icons and excessive ads remain the primary bane of the console’s menus, which should probably get fixed before the Xbox One X shows up later this year.

Curious how exactly your console interface will look soon? You can learn more about making the perfect home screen and everything else planned for Xbox’s upcoming UI update in the video below:

  • Get ready for loads of Xbox One deals this Black Friday and Cyber Monday

LG V30 fully unmasked in leaked promo materials

We weren’t sure if we’d get a good look at the LG V30 before its expected unveiling at IFA 2017, but that all changed today thanks to some leaked promo material.

The images are courtesy of Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s HitRecord, the media company working with LG to show off the new phone’s camera chops. As Droid Life spotted, the phone appears fully, front to back, several times in footage that was set live today and is now unpublished. Oops!

And what do we see? The most prominent photos show off a phone that looks a lot like the LG G6, complete with small bezels, a tall 18:9 display and a dual-lens camera on its back. In essence, it looks like a larger version of the G6 and not a whole lot more–which is to say that it’s not reminiscent of a V-series phone whatsoever.

Credit: Droid Life

More of a G than a V

The LG V10 and LG V20 earned the reputation as LG’s experimental branch of smartphones, complete with innovative features not seen in its core lineup of flagships. It opted for dual screens and dual-lens cameras well ahead of the competition and didn’t slack on the niceties, like a removable battery and microSD support.

While it’s hard to say which of these features the V30 will not have, it makes sense that it would pivot, even if the apparent departure is a little disappointing. As LG is certainly not the only player at this point with a two-screened phone, perhaps it is chasing after a different feature that will catch the competition off-guard. 

We already know that the V30 will feature an OLED display, which will make it an ideal candidate for Google Daydream certification, so what else could it be? Until we find out with certainty, maybe we can count on LG and its marketing partners to leak out even more snippets of into.

Image credit: Droid Life

  • Via The Verge
  • Big rivalry: Samsung Galaxy Note 8 release date, news and rumors

The best free backup software 2017

Backing up data isn’t sexy or exciting, but it’s important. Unfortunately, many of us only become convinced of the importance of having an up to date backup when something goes catastrophically wrong. There’s nothing quite like a failed hard drive to sharpen the mind, and lead to a resolution to do things a little differently in the future.

But where do you start with backing up data? It needn’t be completed – you can create a manual backup by simply copying your important files to a spare hard drive, but it makes far more sense to turn to dedicated backup software to automate the process.

Using backup software not only means that – in many cases – you can have backups updated for you on a regular basis so you don’t have to remember, but also speeds up the process dramatically. Here are the five best free backup applications you can use.


Easeus Todo Backup Free

EaseUS Todo Backup Free holds onto its place at the top of our chart thanks to its clear interface and backup options to suit any level of experience

1. EaseUS Todo Backup Free

A perfect balance of automatic protection and manual control

EaseUS Todo Backup Free has lots of bases covered: backing up individual files and folders, whole drives or partitions, or creating a full system backup. There’s also a ‘smart’ option that automatically backs up files in commonly used locations, and you have the option of using cloud storage. Backups can then be scheduled, running as incremental, differential or full backups as required (see below for a full explanation of the differences).

While there is a paid-for version of EaseUS Todo Backup available, opting for the free edition does not mean that you make many compromises. You can still run backups on a schedule, but lose the ability to have these backups triggered by various events – not something most people will miss. The same goes for command line-driven backups, PC-to-PC data transfer, and Outlook backup.

A few features are exclusive the the premium version, but EasusUS Todo Backup Free is more than enough for just about everyone out there. Just watch out for the bundled bloatware during installation and opt to skip it.

Review and where to download: EaseUS Todo Backup Free


Comodo BackUp

Backup and Sync is a new addition to Google’s arsenal, and works a little like Dropbox

2. Google Backup and Sync

A new backup tool that uses Google Drive to store your files

Google Backup and Sync isn’t a traditional backup tool by any means, it is cloud-based and just what you are able to back up will depend on how much online Google storage you have available. While you are given a limited amount of space for free, and there are various ways to boost it without having to part with any money, in reality Google Backup and Sync is not going to be a full system backup tool for most people.

  • How to back up files with Google Backup and Sync

For backing up key files and folders, however, it’s superb. You can easily specify any number of folders for the software to monitor, and any changes, additions or deletions are implemented near-instantaneously.

As the name suggests, the software can be used to synchronise files between computers, and they are accessible through on any device via the Google Drive web app. An excellent, if slightly limited, backup tool.

Download here: Google Backup and Sync


AOMEI Backupper Standard

Cobian Backup is well designed and offers an excellent range of backup optionse

3. Cobian Backup

Advanced backup software with a wealth of options for experienced users

Cobian Backup is the most advanced free backup tool around, and might be overkill for most people, but if you know exactly how you want to configure your backups then you can be confident it’s going to meet your needs.

The program can be used to create and schedule multiple backup jobs, and files can be archived to another local hard drive, network location or, if you have access to one, an FTP server. Cobian Backup can back up to multiple locations at the same time, so it’s possible to run multiple backup jobs simultaneously. 

Backups can be compressed to save space, and there’s optional encryption to keep your data secure.

Cobian Backup loses when it comes time to restore data – there’s no simple wizard to automate the process, so you’re left on your own having to copy files back into place, decrypting and decompressing first if necessary.

Still, for backing up your most valuable data, this is one of the most comprehensive tools out there.

Download here: Cobian Backup


Personal Backup

Paragon Backup & Recovery is a great free backup tool for beginners thanks to its wizard-driven interface and automatic backups

4. Paragon Backup & Recovery

Set-and-forget options make this the easiest way to back up your system

Paragon Backup & Recovery does an excellent job of making the process of backing up as simple as possible, holding your hand with a wizard-driven interface. You can opt to back up your entire computer, partitions, select files and folders based on location, or files based on their type. There’s a lot of flexibility.

Once that’s done, just set a schedule and choose the type of backup you want to want to create and then leave the software to take care of things by itself.

That’s not all – as its name suggests, this isn’t just a backup too. Even though you can use it without having to part with a penny, Paragon Backup & Recovery is a whole data management toolkit, and also includes an impressive CD or USB-based recovery system that can be used to get your data back even if you’re not able to boot into Windows.

It’s all very impressive. Once you’ve signed up for a free account, this program is a thing of beauty.

Download here: Paragon Backup & Recovery


Genie Timeline Free

It’s not the prettiest backup software you’ll ever see, but FBackup is very capable, offering a choice of interfaces to suit your level of experience and confidence

5. FBackup

A choice of advanced and simple modes and automatic scheduling make this a good free backup option if some tools here look intimidating

FBackup has a slightly unpleasant (and Office-inspired) interface, but don’t let that put you off. Beneath the ugly exterior is a capable backup utility, although it isn’t as feature backed as tools like Paragon Backup & Recovery.

FBackup offers a choice of wizard and advanced modes. Whichever you choose, it’s easy to create backup jobs comprising files and folders, which can be saved to local or network drives, removable disks, or Google Drive. Scheduling is available to keep your backups up to date.

There are in-program ads suggesting you upgrade to the paid-for Backup4all, but thankfully they are relatively unobtrusive so hopefully you’ll be able to ignore them if you’re not interested.

The free version of the program lacks a few features, but these might be inconsequential, depending on your kneeds. If you can live without encryption, FTP backups, email notifications and incremental backups, Fbackup is well worth checking out.

Download here: FBackup

Backup types

When you’re choosing backup software it’s worth understanding the different types of backups.

An image is an exact copy of an entire drive or partition, including all installed programs and system files. If you need to reinstall Windows, you can boot from the image file and avoid having to reinstall all your programs and reconfigure your Windows settings. Note that you can’t use an image to restore your system on a different PC.

Images are very large and take a long time to create, so you won’t want to make one every day. For everyday backups, you’ll only want to copy the most important data on your PC – your documents, photos and music, for example. There are several types of regular backup:

  • Full backup: a copy of all selected data.
  • Differential backup: a copy of the data that has changed or been added since the last full backup.
  • Incremental backup: a copy of the data that has changed since the last backup, whether that was full backup or incremental.

Each differential backup will be larger than the last, but to restore your system you’ll only need the full backup and the latest differential one. Incremental backup files are smaller, but to restore your system you’ll need your full backup as well as all subsequent incremental ones, which takes longer.

The best Google Pixel and Pixel XL deals in August 2017

Google’s latest flagship phones are the Google Pixel and the larger Google Pixel XL – and they’re fantastic phones. The Google Pixel replaces 2015’s Nexus 5X, and is the smaller offering that comes with 32GB or 128GB storage, a 5-inch 1080p display, 4GB of RAM, 12 megapixel camera and a whole lot more. While the Google Pixel XL takes the place of the Nexus 6P as the larger, more premium, smartphone from Google. It comes with a 5.5-inch 2K resolution screen, 4GB of RAM. Check out our Google Pixel review for more information.

Generally speaking, prices are still climbing  after a rock-bottom June and a so-so July, with the days of our favourite rock-bottom £17.99 tariff now a distant memory. But then again, a couple of excellent EE tariffs have just presented themselves – see our handpicked deals below.

Before that, we’re listing the best Google Pixel deals in our price comparison chart so you can always find the cheapest prices – not just on Black Friday. Plus, if you find a deal you like at, you can enter the code 10OFF to get a tenner off the price of the handset.

More options: iPhone 7 deals | iPhone 7 Plus deals | Samsung Galaxy S8 deals | Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus deals | SIM only deals

Google Pixel and Pixel XL deals deals

google pixel phone deals

The UK’s best Google Pixel deals:

Underneath that you’ll see what we think are the best Google Pixel deals. These are all chosen purely on the basis of value – unlike some other sites we don’t manipulate the order of these deals for commercial gain.

Google Pixel and Pixel XL deals

Google Pixel and Pixel XL deals on EE

Google Pixel 32GB | £15 upfront (with 10OFF code) | Unlimited mins and texts | 2GB data | £22.99pm
This tariff just became one of our very favourites on the great Google Pixel, with attractive figures on both eth upfront and monthly costs. And there’s more good news – EE is the network to be with for the fastest data speeds. Total 24 month cost is £566.75

Get this deal: from

Google Pixel and Pixel XL deals deals


Google Pixel 32GB | £124.99 handset (with 10OFF code) | 3GB data | Unlimited calls and texts | £29pm
O2 prices have really fallen from grace since the curtains have been drawn on the network’s Double Data discounts. But if you’re intrigued by its Priority rewards (i.e. cheap lunches, free coffees, first dibs on gig tickets, etc) then this is the minimum you’ll need to spend – and it’s sadly also a touch more expensive than last month. Total cost over 24 months is: £820.99

Get this deal: from

Google Pixel and Pixel XL deals deals


Google Pixel 32GB | £259.99 upfront | Unlimited mins and texts | 1GB data | £17.99pm
Even though the upfront cost has now shot up, this is the least you can spend right now to get the Google Pixel on contract. We pine for the days when it was a big chunk cheaper. But still…you can hardly argue with getting your hands on the Google Pixel for only £17.99 a month. Total 24 month cost is £691.75

Get this deal: from

Google Pixel and Pixel XL deals deals

google pixel xl deals

The UK’s best Google Pixel XL deals:

You’ve reached the bit where we round up all of this month’s best Google Pixel XL deals, and that’s because you want a phone that’s got the same power as the Pixel, but cranks everything up a notch. Get ready to see what we’ve chosen to be the best Google Pixel and Pixel XL deals for EE, O2 and Vodafone.

Google Pixel and Pixel XL deals deals


Google Pixel XL 32GB | £99.99 | Unlimited mins and texts | 3GB data | £35pm
Sorry, but we’ve got some bad news. If you’d been in the market for the marvelous Pixel XL a few weeks ago, you could have got this deal for much less money but double the data. This is now the cheapest way to own a new Pixel XL on contract – still not bad considering the size and quality of the phone. The total 24 month cost on this deal is £939.99

Get this deal: from Carphone Warehouse

Google Pixel and Pixel XL deals

Google Pixel and Pixel XL deals on EE

Google Pixel XL | £209.99 upfront (with code 10OFF) | 16GB data | Unlimited minutes and texts | £38pm
This is the big phone with biiiiiiiig data. 16GB is a bountiful monthly allowance that will do you nicely for streaming and downloading loads of content. It’s cheaper than it was last month as well, which is a nice touch… so you’re saving over £100 through the cost of owning this powerhouse of a phone! Total cost over 24 months is £1121.99

Get this deal: at

Google Pixel and Pixel XL deals

Google Pixel and Pixel XL deals on EE

Google Pixel XL | Free upfront | Unlimited mins and texts | 40GB data | £62.99pm
There are no Three deals at all on the Pixel or Pixel XL, and that means no unlimited data deals. So we’ve dug out the next best thing. An almighty 40GB data plan from EE. The mega data is matched by the eye-watering price. But that’s what you’re going to have to pay for this amount of roaming. Total 24 month cost is £1511.76

Get this deal: direct from EE

Google Pixel and Pixel XL deals

Now let’s break down the best Google Pixel and Pixel XL deals by network…

Google Pixel and Pixel XL deals

Google Pixel and Pixel XL deals on EE

Best Google Pixel and Pixel XL deals on EE

Google Pixel 32GB | £259.99 upfront | Unlimited mins and texts | 1GB data | £17.99pm
Even though the upfront cost has now shot up, this is the least you can spend right now to get the Google Pixel on contract. We pine for the days when it was a big chunk cheaper. But still…you can hardly argue with getting your hands on the Google Pixel for only £17.99 a month. Total 24 month cost is £691.75

Get this deal: from

Google Pixel 32GB | £15 upfront (with 10OFF code) | Unlimited mins and texts | 2GB data | £22.99pm
This tariff just became one of our very favourites on the great Google Pixel, with attractive figures on both eth upfront and monthly costs. And there’s more good news – EE is the network to be with for the fastest data speeds. Total 24 month cost is £566.75

Get this deal: from

Google Pixel 32GB | FREE upfront | Unlimited mins | Unlimited texts | 5GB data | £27.99pm
Desperate for a Google Pixel deal on EE that gives you bountiful 4G internet and unlimited minutes and calls? Then look no further, as this just-improved deal is a cracker if you rely on using your smartphone to access the internet when out and about. The main perk? The handset is now absolutely free. The total 24 month cost on this deal is £671.76

Get this deal: from

Google Pixel and Pixel XL deals

Google Pixel XL 32GB | £174.99 upfront | Unlimited mins | Unlimited texts | 3GB data | £32.99pm
It feels a bit like we didn’t know how good we had it – some of the Pixel prices we saw in June are now a distant memory. In those halcyon days, you could get the Pixel XL with 2GB for less than £700 over two years. At least this month you’re getting the Pixel XL with 3GB of data for only a tenner more over the lifetime of the del. The total 24 month cost on this deal is £966.75

Get this deal: from

Google Pixel and Pixel XL deals

Google Pixel XL 32GB | £124.99 upfront (with code 10OFF) | Unlimited calls and texts | 8GB data | £37.99pm
If you want to get the Google Pixel XL on EE with a few more GBs to play with, then this deal is fairly good value. At the moment, the minute you stray over 8GB data, prices go sky high. So best to stick with this one if it;s enough data for you. Total 24 month cost on this deal is £1036.76

Get this deal: at

Google Pixel and Pixel XL deals

Google Pixel XL | Free upfront | Unlimited mins and texts | 40GB data | £62.99pm
There are no Three deals at all on the Pixel or Pixel XL, and that means no unlimited data deals. So we’ve dug out the next best thing. An almighty 40GB data plan from EE. The mega data is matched by the eye-watering price. But that’s what you’re going to have to pay for this amount of roaming. Total 24 month cost is £1511.76

Get this deal: direct from EE

Google Pixel and Pixel XL deals

Best Google Pixel and Google Pixel XL deals from Vodafone 

Google Pixel 32GB | FREE upfront (with code 10OFF) | 16GB data | Unlimited calls and texts | £34pm
Vodafone prices are gently beginning to fall again after a massive hike following a bargain start to the summer. Here you get 16GB of data per month for your £34. But the best news is that the handset is now absolutely free when you use our exclusive 10OFF discount code. Total cost over 24 months is: £816

Get this deal: from

Google Pixel 32GB | £114.99 phone (with code 10OFF) | 32GB data | Unlimited calls | Unlimited texts | £46 per month
With the deal above locking out any of the single-digit GB deals, we had to go BIG to offer something else for your delectation. So we went really big, moving into the more-than-30GB territory. It’s dropped by a whole fiver this month… but who cares when you see how much data you’re getting? Total cost over 24 months is £1218.99

Get this deal: from

Google Pixel XL | £209.99 upfront (with code 10OFF) | 16GB data | Unlimited minutes and texts | £38pm
This is the big phone with biiiiiiiig data. 16GB is a bountiful monthly allowance that will do you nicely for streaming and downloading loads of content. It’s cheaper than it was last month as well, which is a nice touch… so you’re saving over £100 through the cost of owning this powerhouse of a phone! Total cost over 24 months is £1121.99

Get this deal: at

Best Google Pixel and Google Pixel XL deals from O2

Google Pixel 32GB | £124.99 handset (with 10OFF code) | 3GB data | Unlimited calls and texts | £29pm
O2 prices have really fallen from grace since the curtains have been drawn on the network’s Double Data discounts. But if you’re intrigued by its Priority rewards (i.e. cheap lunches, free coffees, first dibs on gig tickets, etc) then this is the minimum you’ll need to spend – and it’s sadly also a touch more expensive than last month. Total cost over 24 months is: £820.99

Get this deal: from

Google Pixel 32GB | £44.99 handset (with 10OFF code) | 20GB data | Unlimited calls | Unlimited texts | £39pm
Hey everyone! Look! A deal that’s cheaper this month – and this is a bit of a cracker. For less than last month you’ll get twice the data – yeah, there’s no cashback to play with, but who’s counting when you’re getting this many bytes on O2? Total cost over 24 months is: £980.99

Get this deal: from 

Google Pixel XL 32GB | £99.99 | Unlimited mins and texts | 3GB data | £35pm
Sorry, but we’ve got some bad news. If you’d been in the market for the marvelous Pixel XL a few weeks ago, you could have got this deal for much less money but double the data. This is now the cheapest way to own a new Pixel XL on contract – still not bad considering the size and quality of the phone. The total 24 month cost on this deal is £939.99

Get this deal: from Carphone Warehouse

Google Pixel XL 32GB | £154.99 (with 10OFF code) | Unlimited mins | Unlimited texts | 20GB data | £39pm
You get an absolute stack of data (20GB a month, no less, which we reckon should be more than enough for most people and is DOUBLE the amount this month) and a reasonable(ish) monthly tariff with this deal. And even better news: the handset is cheaper this month too! The total 24 month cost on this deal is £1090.99

Get this deal: from

Middle Earth: Shadow of War trailer, release date, news and features

Updated: It’s been revealed that Shadow of War will feature loot boxes. Read on for a full breakdown of how they’ll work in the game. 

Original article continues below…

We’ve known since February that Middle Earth: Shadow of War is coming and from what we’ve seen so far it looks like it’s going to be a stunning game.

As a launch title for Microsoft’s upcoming Xbox One X and a hotly anticipated sequel in its own right, we got a good look at some more gameplay for the game at this year’s Microsoft E3 conference. In the time since, we’ve learned that Shadow of War will include many of the same features that its predecessor had – including a major emphasis on the Nemesis system. 

To that end, Shadow of War will let you import your arch-nemesis from the first game, as well as your most loyal follower to help fight in Shadow of War. (See the Nemesis Forge trailer below for more details.)

Want to know more? We’ve gathered everything we know about Shadow of War including its release date, trailers and all the gameplay that’s been revealed so far into one place so you can return to Middle Earth prepared for war. 

Cut to the chase

  • What is it? It’s the sequel to the 2014 action role playing game Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor
  • When can I play it? October 10 2017 in the US and UK, with a release date tbc in Australia.
  • What can I play it on? PS4, Xbox One X, PC


 So far we’ve had five big trailers for Shadow of War.

The most recent is a gameplay trailer that was shown at Microsoft’s E3 conference. The trailer showed off the game’s combat with an orc, of which there will apparently be seven new kinds. It also went on to show how players would be able to establish relationships with their generals and rely on them to direct forces while they perform sieges on enemy fortresses.

Prior to this there was a mammoth 88 minutes of gameplay with developer commentary which showed off Talion conquering an Orc fort. 

Prior to this in April IGN released an exclusive gameplay trailer which showed off the game’s 4K visuals.

In March Warner Bros Interactive also released a 16 minute gameplay trailer which talked players through the upgraded Nemesis system as well as the new follower recruitment system. 

Naturally, the first glimpse of the game we got, though, was the cinematic trailer that was released in February which certainly seemed to promise epic battles in an expansive open world. 

Last but not least is the Nemesis Forge trailer which details how the Nemesis system will work in the second game, and how you can import enemies and allies from the first game in the series. 

Release date

After being pushed back from its original August release date, Middle Earth: Shadow of War will be released on PS4, Xbox One and PC on October 10 2017 in the US and UK (no Australian release date has yet been confirmed). We also know that the game will be one of the big launch titles for Microsoft’s upcoming 4K console Xbox One X so we can expect a special high performance re-release for this platform when it’s launched in November. 

When the game launches, players will have the option to buy the game in either standard, silver or gold editions with the more expensive editions offering access to more content including story expansions. 

It’s worth noting, though, that these story expansions will be available to purchase as separate DLC when they become available for those who don’t purchase the Gold edition of the game. 

Hands on impressions

From our half hour play session at E3 2017 the game appears to have a very similar feel to it as its predecessor. Combat is very focussed around anticipating and countering your enemy’s strengths, whether it’s dashing around shield-wielding enemies, or parrying the attacks of faster orcs. 

Although story-missions are still present in the game, this time around there appears to be much more of a focus on siege missions, where you use an army to attack an enemy stronghold. 

We had a chance to play through a fortress assault for ourselves, giving us a look at how the mission-type works, as well as a nice overview of the enhanced abilities our protagonist has in the new game. 

A fortress with stats

You begin the fortress assault like any other mission in the game, by approaching the mission start point and pressing the right bumper on the controller. 

Each fortress has an overlord, who you’ll need to take down to capture it. Before you get to them though, there are a number of victory points, which are each guarded by a war chief. The assault we played had three of these points, but a representative from Warner Bros suggested that as many as six may be present in larger fortresses. 

Starting the mission brings up a planning screen where you’ll be able to see the features of the fortress and equip your army appropriately. Certain soldiers will be able to break down walls for example, while others will be well-equipped to deal with select enemy types. 

Heading into battle

Although our army was capable, their strength paled in comparison to what we were capable of. 

Using our ‘Shadow Strike’ ability we were able to very quickly teleport up to, and take out, the enemy archers – essentially clearing a path for our army. 

Having your own army means that you can spend less time attacking ordinary foot soldiers, and much more time on the higher level enemies. Before long we had used our Shadow Strike once again, this time to mount a dragon, allowing us to rain down fire on our enemies. 

The war chiefs

Much like Shadow of Mordor, the new game places a lot of emphasis on knowing your enemy’s strengths and weaknesses before you take them on. Our first war chief was a bow-toting orc that was resistant to us vaulting over time.

This meant that we both had to keep nice and close to him to keep him off-guard, while also dodging around, rather than vaulting over, him. 

Once a chief’s health is down to a certain level you’re given the chance of dominating them, which recruits them to your army. The process takes a couple of seconds, which leaves you vulnerable to any other enemies in the vicinity, but it’s worth it if you want to boost your numbers. 

Unfortunately, at the moment there doesn’t seem to be any means of giving this information to the soldiers on your side. Once I got the war chief’s health down enough to dominate them, they were promptly offed by an orc on my own team. Clearly my managerial communication still needs some work. 

Gotta get that loot

Although loot was present in the previous game, it’s been much expanded in Shadow of War. You’re able to pick up new swords, daggers, bows, armour and cloaks, and you’re also able to augment your ring with different special abilities. 

A developer also teased that there’ll be legendary armor sets which will give you an ability bonus if you equip them all simultaneously. 

With a new legendary dagger equipped, we headed toward’s the fortresses boss, the overlord. 

Getting over the overlord

After so much buildup, the overlord fight ended up feeling a little anti-climactic simply because it was so similar in many ways to the war chief fights that had proceeded it. 

Sure, the overlord had slightly more health and some pretty beefy minions, but the fight was very similar in structure to those that had proceeded it. 

We spent the ten minute fight keeping our distance and picking off the enemy’s health with our bow, while intermittently having to dash away to drain some enemy archers and refill our health. 

This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. After all, the core combat in Shadow of War is still exceptionally solid, and you’ve got a lot of different abilities at your disposal to allow you to vary your fighting style. 

But at the end of the day the overlord felt similar to what had come before, albeit with slightly higher health. 

Victory! For now…

After a few more well-placed shots, we were eventually able to dominate the overlord and bring them over to our side, triggering a short cutscene where we emerged victorious from the fortress to greet our cheering army. 

Much as being killed by an enemy war chief causes their level to go up, winning battles in Shadow of War causes your army’s level to rise. We get the sense that you’ll grow quite attached to your band of orcs over time, as you fight alongside them in tougher and tougher battles. 

Shadow of War feels like it’s retained everything that made its predecessor one of the more surprising hits of 2014. The expanded nemesis system is thoughtfully done, and we appreciate the additions made to the loot system. 

Our one reservation was that the overlord fight we played felt a little too similar to what had come before it. Then again, with a core combat loop this strong, this might not end up being such a bad thing after all. 

Confirmed features

Loot boxes

Warner Bros. has revealed that Shadow of War will feature loot boxes. The loot boxes will contain orcs (for use with the nemesis system), XP boosts and gear. 

You’ll be able to buy them using an in-game currency ‘Mirian’ (which is earned by completing various tasks within the game, but can also be found in the game’s world), or ‘Gold’ which is available to buy in addition to winning it in game. 

Warner Bros. has assured fans that players who pay for content will not get anything that’s unavailable to everyone else, but there are still likely to be those who’ll take issue with people being able to take shortcuts by paying money. 

What’s the story?

Once again, players will enter Tolkien’s world and take up the role of Talion, a ranger killed by the Black Hand of Sauron whose body has bonded with the wraith of the Elf Lord Celebrimbor. 

Having recently forged a new ring of power, this game will follow Talion and Celebrimbor’s original story during the midst of the battle for Middle Earth as they attempt to use the new ring’s power to face Sauron and the Nazgul. Aside from the fact that it’ll follow on from the events of the first game, not too much is known about the narrative of Shadow of War. 

Despite following on from the first game, though, it doesn’t look like you’ll have to have played that before picking up Shadow of War as the developers have said that they’re keen for this to be an entry point into the series for new fans. 


Gameplay is something we’ve had an extensive look at for Shadow of War both through its various trailers as well as our hands on session detailed above. . 

Like Shadow of Mordor, this will be an open world third person adventure though this time it looks like the game will be much larger in terms of scale with more of an emphasis on personalization, role playing and large battles.

At its core, though, the gameplay will very much build on Shadow of Mordor’s gameplay, bringing back the Nemesis system and similar melee combat mechanics. 

Nemesis returns bigger and better

The Nemesis system that was such a big and highly praised part of the first game is unsurprisingly returning. For those unfamiliar with it, the Nemesis System was an innovative method of enemy design which involved pitting the player against procedurally generated but personalized bosses who had learned from the player’s previous defeats in the game. 

This time the Nemesis System will be even bigger and as well as influencing the enemies you fight it will also apparently have an impact on the larger game world around you so that entire fortresses are molded by your actions as Talion. 

This time around, Monolith has said that it wanted to step slightly away from the highly single player focused experience of the first game and create something that captured the epic scale of the battles in Tolkien’s world, giving the player the opportunity to be at the center of them. 

This will be done through sieges and battles. The player will be able to capture a fortress through instigating a siege with their army and it’ll be up to the player to kill the fortress Overlord (boss) and essentially clinch the battle. There will be many ways to weaken the fortress before attacking it (assassinating the bosses for example) but it’ll be up to the player what approach they take.

Recruiting allies 

A new feature that will appear in Shadow of War is ally recruitment. This is something that appears in many games but it looks like it could offer serious depth in Shadow of War; different allies will be useful in different ways and players will have to balance their benefits with the risk that they could betray them at any time. 

These recruited followers will be important, then, as players will have to use them to manage the large armies they build in order to attack enemies fortresses while they concentrate on their own close-quarter combat. 

New enemies and skills to fight them

New skills and skill trees will also be introduced, giving the player more control over how they play in this larger and more responsive game world. 

As you’d expect, this time around players will encounter brand new orcs and trolls (seven new kinds of orcs, apparently!) as well as new kinds of Garug and entirely new creatures called Drakes, which are essentially fire-breathing dragons. 

Players will also apparently take on Balrogs, Sauron and the Nazgul so it appears the plan to increase scale extends across every aspect of the game. 

  • Don’t miss all the latest E3 news

The best Sony Xperia XZ deals in August 2017

The Sony Xperia XZ is another remarkable phone from Sony, which boasts some amazing features that put other flagship smartphones to shame, and if you’re looking to get your hands on a great Xperia XZ deal this month, then you’ve come to the right place!

We’ve put together this list of amazing deals that give you the handset and loads of allowances for an affordable price.

There are plenty of reasons why you’d want a Xperia XZ – it has one of the market’s leading cameras and fantastic build quality. The 5.2-inch screen is 1080p and looks fantastic, and there’s plenty of power underneath the gorgeous exterior to make the Sony Xperia XZ one of the most powerful handsets on the market – and it’s comfortable to hold as well, despite the large screen size.

And now is an ideal time to buy. Despite being so new and us being so far away in the calendar from Black Friday, we’ve just seen a big price drop on the Xperia XZ – we’ve collected the best of those deals below.

More options: Sony Xperia Z5 deals | Sony Xperia Z5 Compact deals | Sony Xperia XZ Premium deals | Sony Xperia XZ Compact deals


The UK’s best Sony Xperia XZ deals:

The best Sony Xperia XZ deals

Read further down the page to see all our recommended Sony Xperia XZ deals, but these top three are what we think are the absolute best Xperia XZ deals out there in the UK today. And if you’ve heard about the new, improved Premium models, you can head to our Xperia XZ Premium deals, too.

Sony Xperia XZ deals

best Sony Xperia XZ deals

Sony Xperia XZ | £58.99 upfront | Unlimited mins | Unlimited texts | 2GB data | £22.99pm
This is an excellent Sony Xperia XZ if you don’t mind putting up a little cash upfront. You have to pay a perfectly reasonable £59 at the start, but then monthly payments are just £22.99! And you get 2GB of data rather than the 1GB we’re used to. Snap this up NOW! Total cost over 24 months is £610.75

Get this deal: from Mobile Phones Direct

Sony Xperia XZ deals

best Sony Xperia XZ deals

Sony Xperia XZ | Free upfront | Unlimited mins | Unlimited texts | 8GB data | £32pm
Now this is a very tempting deal for the Sony Xperia XZ on the Three network. You get the handset for no upfront cost, unlimited minutes and texts and a very nice 8GB of 4G data each month, which should be more than enough for most people.  Total cost over 24 months is £768

Get this deal: from

sony xperia xz deals

best Sony Xperia XZ deals

Sony Xperia XZ | Free upfront | Unlimited mins | Unlimited texts | 20GB data | £39pm
O2 has some great Xperia XZ in August. This might be the best one this whole month, as it gives you an absolutely huge 20GB of data each month, along with unlimited minutes and texts, plus the handset for no upfront cost. All of this, for just £39 a month. This is a real steal, especially as last month this deal was offering ‘only’ 15GB – so you’re getting an extra 5G each month for the same price! Total cost over 24 months is £936

Get this deal: from Carphone Warehouse

Now let’s break down the best Sony Xperia XZ deals by network…

sony xperia xz deals

Best Sony Xperia xz deals on vodafone

Best Sony Xperia XZ deals on Vodafone

Offers extras like Spotify and Sky Sports

Sony Xperia XZ | Free upfront | Unlimited mins | Unlimited texts | 1GB data | £36pm
This is one of the cheapest Sony Xperia XZ deals on Vodafone, and there’s no upfront cost. You get unlimited minutes and texts and a 1GB of 4G data, which should be plenty for most people who only occasionally browse the internet on their smartphone. Best of all, the monthly payments are pretty reasonable at £36. The total cost of this deal over 24 months is £864

Get this deal: from Vodafone

sony xperia XZ deals

Sony Xperia XZ | Free upfront | Unlimited mins | Unlimited texts | 4GB data | £42pm
This Sony Xperia XZ deal is very good if you like a bit more 4G data to check Facebook and listen to Spotify while you’re out and about. This deal comes with 4GB worth of data each month, unlimited minutes and all the texts you need. The new handset from Sony is included with no upfront cost, which is nice.  The total cost of this deal over 24 months is £1008

Get this deal: from

sony xperia XZ deals

Sony Xperia XZ | Free upfront | Unlimited mins | Unlimited texts | 16GB data | £48pm
This is a very good Xperia XZ deal for people who love streaming movies, listening to Spotify and browsing the web on their phones. There’s no upfront cost for the Xperia XZ, plus you get unlimited minutes and texts as well as a huge 16GB of 4G data each month – perfect if you want to use the Xperia XZ’s fantastic screen to watch films on Netflix. The total cost of this deal over 24 months is £1152

Get this deal: from

sony xperia XZ deals

Best Sony Xperia XZ on EE

Best Sony Xperia XZ deals on EE

Sony Xperia XZ | £58.99 upfront | Unlimited mins | Unlimited texts | 2GB data | £22.99pm
This is an excellent Sony Xperia XZ if you don’t mind putting up a little cash upfront. You have to pay a perfectly reasonable £59 at the start, but then monthly payments are just £22.99! And you get 2GB of data rather than the 1GB we’re used to. Snap this up NOW! Total cost over 24 months is £610.75

Get this deal: from Mobile Phones Direct

sony xperia XZ deals

Sony Xperia XZ | Free upfront | Unlimited mins | Unlimited texts | 2GB data | £32.99pm
This deal is a good alternative if you don’t want to pay anything upfront. You get the Sony Xperia XZ handset thrown in for free, along with 2GB of 4G data and unlimited texts. The good news is that this month the cap on talk time has been lifted, so you can natter away for as long as you want, and you get unlimited texts as well. The monthly cost is pretty great considering how new the Xperia XZ is, and you get £72 cashback in August as well, lowering the monthly cost further to £29.99. Total cost over 24 months is £719.76

Get this deal: from Mobile Phones Direct

sony xperia XZ deals

Sony Xperia XZ | Free upfront | Unlimited mins | Unlimited texts | 5GB data | £32.99pm
This Sony Xperia XZ deal is ideal for internet addicts as you get unlimited calls and a generous 5GB of 4G data each month, which should be plenty for most people, letting you stream music from Spotify without too much worry. Again, you get the Xperia XZ handset for free. Considering the free phone and generous allowances, this is definitely a deal worth considering. Total cost over 24 months is £791.76

Get this deal: from Mobile Phones Direct

sony xperia XZ deals

Best Sony Xperia XZ on o2

Best Sony Xperia XZ deals on O2

The network with extras like O2 Priority

Sony Xperia XZ | Free upfront | Unlimited mins | Unlimited texts | 2GB data | £32pm
For the past few months O2 didn’t have a lot of amazing Xperia XZ deals, but the good news is that has changed in August. This deal is the cheapest way to get the handset without paying upfront. You get unlimited minutes and texts, and 4G data is capped at 2GB a month, which should be enough for many people who don’t do a lot of browsing on their phones. Total cost over 24 months is £768

Get this deal: from Carphone Warehouse

sony xperia XZ deals

Sony Xperia XZ | Free upfront | Unlimited mins | Unlimited texts | 3GB data | £35pm
This is another good Sony Xperia XZ deal on O2. You get the Xperia XZ, unlimited minutes, unlimited texts and a very nice 3GB of 4G data each month, which gives you plenty of wriggle room to download apps and games, stream movies and music and browse the internet. Total cost over 24 months is £840

Get this deal: from Carphone Warehouse

Sony Xperia XZ | Free upfront | Unlimited mins | Unlimited texts | 20GB data | £39pm
See what we mean about O2 offering some great Xperia XZ in August? This might be the best one this whole month, as it gives you an absolutely huge 20GB of data each month, along with unlimited minutes and texts, plus the handset for no upfront cost. All of this, for just £39 a month. This is a real steal, especially as last month this deal was offering ‘only’ 15GB – so you’re getting an extra 5G each month for the same price! Total cost over 24 months is £936

Get this deal: from Carphone Warehouse

Best Sony Xperia XZ on Three

Best Sony Xperia XZ deals on Three

The network with unlimited data

Sony Xperia XZ | Free upfront | Unlimited mins | Unlimited texts | 1GB data | £30pm  
This Xperia XZ deal has got a lot more attractive since last month, as talk time is now unlimited, and the monthly price has dropped by £1! Sure, the 1GB of 4G data isn’t huge, but if you don’t mind limiting your online activity when out and about, this is a tempting offer. Total cost over 24 months is £720

Get this deal: from Affordablemobiles

Sony Xperia XZ | Free upfront | Unlimited mins | Unlimited texts | 2GB data | £32pm
This deal gives you a bit more freedom, as the talk time has been boosted to unlimited minutes, and the 4G data allowance has been doubled to 2GB, while texts remain all-you-can-eat. This remains one of the best ways to get the excellent Sony Xperia XZ on the Three network, and again the monthly cost has dropped by £1. However, before you go for this deal, check out the one below for an even more tempting offer. Total cost over 24 months is £768

Get this deal: from

Sony Xperia XZ | Free upfront | Unlimited mins | Unlimited texts | 8GB data | £32pm
Now this is a very tempting deal for the Sony Xperia XZ on the Three network. You get the handset for no upfront cost, unlimited minutes and texts and a very nice 8GB of 4G data each month, which should be more than enough for most people.  Total cost over 24 months is £768

Get this deal: from 

Details of the 4K Apple TV pop up in the HomePod firmware

It’s hard keeping products a secret when you have to release firmware code for other, connected products you’ve already announced, and the code that developers have got their hands on for the Apple HomePod has already revealed some iPhone 8 secrets.

Yet more digging into the HomePod data by iOS developer Guilherme Rambo has revealed references to a “4kHDR”, “HDR10” and “Dolby” display modes, suggesting this smart speaker is indeed going to be able to beam content to a brand new, 5th-gen, 4K Apple TV.

Such a box definitely feels overdue at this point, with most new TVs on the market 4K-compatible, and the rumors have been swirling for a while that Apple has one in the works. Rival devices like the Amazon Fire TV and the Google Chromecast Ultra are already fully 4K prepped.

Video editor Marc Bach weighed in to note that the “HLG” or Hybrid Log Gamma mode is in fact a third HDR mode, giving the new Apple TV support for three different HDR formats, on top of the 4K resolution for movies, TV shows, and maybe even a few games.

HDR or High Dynamic Range boosts brightness and contrast to give a better range of colors in a picture – it gives more detail in darker and lighter areas of a picture. No one can decide on one HDR format though, which is why it looks like the Apple TV is going to support HDR10, Dolby Vision, and Hybrid Log Gamma.

Other details of the upcoming Apple TV are pretty thin on the ground: 4K support is a given, but a bigger hard drive and more complex apps have also been mooted, as well as improved Siri support. Late 2017 is looking like the most likely launch window.

  • Here’s everything we know so far about the 5th gen Apple TV

Via Apple Insider