Get a 6-month Xbox Game Pass for under £24 from Amazon

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Gain access to a number of great action games.
Gain access to a number of great action games.
Image: microsoft

The Amazon Spring Sale might be over but there are still a whole load of great deals to consider.

There are great offers on TVs, smartphones, kitchen appliances, and more, with discounts available on the biggest brands. There are also a few very interesting deals for gamers. Specifically, Xbox gamers.

You can now get a download code for a six-month Xbox Game Pass for just £23.99. That’s a considerable reduction on the normal price of £42.64. If you bag this deal then you’ll receive two stackable codes, and you must redeem each code individually. You get the first three months for £23.99, and then a further three months for free.

The three-month Xbox Game Pass code will expire though, so you must redeem it by May 25. You can then play highly-anticipated new games like Sea of Thieves, State of Decay 2, Crackdown, and more on the day they are released. New games are added every month too, so you’ll always have something new to play.

Download and discover titles you’ve always wanted to play and revisit old favourites that you’ve been missing with this deal.

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Samsung's Galaxy Fold might ship in June, but nothing's simple

Samsung's Galaxy Fold might ship in June, but nothing's certain at this point.
Samsung’s Galaxy Fold might ship in June, but nothing’s certain at this point.
Image: Raymond Wong/Mashable

Samsung’s Galaxy Fold — the $1,980 folding phone whose launch has been delayed after several reviewers reported issues with the screen — might launch on June 13.

This is according to an email that AT&T has been sending to its customers — but, unfortunately, it’s not as simple as that. 

As The Verge points out, Samsung hasn’t confirmed June 13 — or any other date — as the new, official launch date. Furthermore, AT&T’s email to customers says that “federal regulations” require the company to ask customers to accept a new shipping date, which might mean AT&T had to choose some date and they went with what they thought was most likely. 

Officially, Samsung said it needed time to evaluate the feedback from early reviewers, which is why it had to delay the Fold’s launch. “We plan to announce the release date in the coming weeks,” the company said on Monday

The Samsung Galaxy Fold is one of the first of its kind — a foldable smartphone whose 4.6-inch display unfolds into a 7.3-inch tablet. It’s got a 7-nanometer processor, 12GB of RAM, 512GB of storage, and a total of six cameras: a 10-megapixel shooter on the cover, a dual, 10/8-megapixel selfie camera on the front, and a triple, 16/12/12-megapixel camera on the rear. 

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Why Bran is probably wrong about the Night King on 'Game of Thrones'

Bran should stick to creepy staring
Bran should stick to creepy staring
Image: hbo

Game of Thrones subtly dropped one of the series’ biggest reveals in the second episode of Season 8. After seven years of mystery and endless theories, we finally have an answer to what the White Walkers want. 

“He wants to erase this world, and I am its memory,” Bran says of the Night King. “He’ll come for me. He’s tried before, with many Three-Eyed Ravens.”

But as straightforward as this end goal sounds, it’s actually a lot more complicated than Bran makes it out to be. (Typical.)

Yo bro I heard you were talkin' shit

Yo bro I heard you were talkin’ shit

Image: hbo

In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Night King actor Vladimir Furdik teased that in Season 8, “People will see he has a target he wants to kill, and you will find out who that is.” Furdik went on to explain that it’s because, “He wants revenge… Everybody in this story has two sides—a bad side and a good side. The Night King only has one side, a bad side.”

To the casual watcher, all of this only confirms the assumption that the White Walkers just came back to take over and end humanity. But for hardcore theorizers, this shatters many expectations, including those about the fundamental core of this story.

Which is why, among many other reasons, you shouldn’t trust that Bran knows the truth about what the White Walkers want. Actually, you shouldn’t trust any of the Three-Eyed Ravens’ visions.

For starters, Bran’s seemingly simple explanation raises so many questions in itself: What exactly is the Three-Eyed Raven’s job? Who was the first one ever made, who created him, and why? Where does the Three-Eyed Raven’s power come from? Why would the Night King want revenge against man? And why would he have started raising his army to go south if the Three-Eyed Raven was north of the Wall the whole time? Wouldn’t he have tried harder to kill Bran when he had him cornered in the cave?

I mean Bran was quite literally a sitting duck here

I mean Bran was quite literally a sitting duck here

Image: hbo

But before we try answering all those, let’s talk about why we shouldn’t take Bran’s assessment of the White Walkers’ ultimate goal at face value.

Bran in essence paints it as an eternal battle between the Three-Eyed Ravens and the White Walkers. Yet the motivation he ascribes to the Night King — arguably the series’ most pivotal mystery — seems not only overly simplistic, but counter to Game of Thrones‘ core themes. 

George R. R. Martin has repeatedly stated that his series dismantles this exact fantasy genre trope about a battle between a pure evil and pure good. As he said in a 2011 interview, “A villain is a hero of the other side.”

He went deeper in Rolling Stone, saying:

The war that Tolkien wrote about was a war for the fate of civilization and the future of humanity, and that’s become the template. I’m not sure that it’s a good template, though. The Tolkien model led generations of fantasy writers to produce these endless series of dark lords and their evil minions who are all very ugly and wear black clothes. But the vast majority of wars throughout history are not like that. 

“A villain is a hero of the other side.”

Yet that cliche is exactly what Bran sets up, with Three-Eyed Ravens throughout history saving the future of humanity from the mindlessly evil Night King and his ugly undead minions. 

But let’s put aside the deep textual analysis mumbo jumbo for now. If Bran isn’t telling the full story, how do we make sense of the Three-Eyed Raven and Night King’s relationship in a way that’s more aligned with Game of Thrones‘ themes?

Well if Game of Thrones has taught us anything, it’s that morality comes only in shades of grey. And when it comes to the Three-Eyed Raven, there’s lots of dubious intentions if you start questioning where his source of magic comes from.

Almost certainly, the Children of the Forest are partially behind the power and origin of the Three-Eyed Raven. You know, the same Children of the Forest who created the Night King by tying an innocent man to a tree and turning him into a weaponized monster against his own will.

Bran and other Three-Eyed Ravens derive their power from what fans dub the “weirnet,” a.k.a. the network of magical weirwood trees that allow them to see visions and events of the past, present, and future.

That’s what Sam means when he explains to Bran, “Your memories don’t come from books. Your stories aren’t just stories. If I wanted to erase the world of men, I’d start with you.”

But bearing witness to a select amount of events in Westerosi history doesn’t actually make Bran or the Three-Eyed Raven “all knowing,” or the keeper of mankind’s memory at all.

The Three-Eyed Raven’s knowledge is fallible and without its own biases.

For one, the weirnet is limited to Westeros — and an increasingly small region of it, since the weirwoods were cut down thousands of years ago in the south. Because a weirwood tree needs to be present for an event to become part of weirnet, the Three-Eyed Raven’s understanding of history would not include the rest of the world.

So despite Bran and the previous Three-Eyed Raven’s repeated insistence otherwise, they absolutely do not know everything. According to the legends of the Long Night that Sam read about in Season 6, the White Walkers were actually a much larger global problem the first time they came,  expanding into Essos (that’s why you’ve got things like the Lord of Light and Azor Ahai prophecy). 

Bran is not the keeper of their history and memory. And it just goes to show you that the Three-Eyed Raven’s knowledge is fallible and not without its own biases.

Their power to see into the past, present, and future is dictated by the Children of the Forest, whose consciousnesses basically become embedded into the weirwoods after they die. And if you ask us, they’re a pretty iffy source! 

Don't trust the Children of the Forest to be man's savior!

Don’t trust the Children of the Forest to be man’s savior!

Image: hbo

Remember that the Children of the Forest were at war with mankind for most of their existence in Westeros, and didn’t leave on the best of terms after man slaughtered them to extinction. 

It’s especially hard to trust their perspective on the White Walkers, whose creation was their greatest cosmic mistake. They have their own agenda, though we don’t know what it is. The knowledge that the Children of the Forest pass on through the Three-Eyed Raven is tainted by their one-sided perspective on who and what the White Walkers are and what they want.

It’s not unlike the way Melisandre rationalizes using tricks and glamor to manipulate people into believing whatever furthers the agenda for the Lord of Light. Sure, there are some truths in her visions in the flames, and a real sincerity in her religious belief. But that does not make her source of magic morally good or all knowing whatsoever.

Sry, Bran, but you know only a little more than Jon Snow. Maybe

Sry, Bran, but you know only a little more than Jon Snow. Maybe

Image: hbo

Indeed, the Red Priests are an especially apt comparison for the previous Three-Eyed Raven, a.k.a. Bloodraven. In the books he’s a super shady character, not the wise old man in a tree from the show. He’s described as this grotesque corpse, decomposing and cloaked in darkness and blood. 

He even tells Bran, “Darkness will be your cloak, your shield, your mother’s milk. Darkness will make you strong.” That sure doesn’t sound like The Good Guy Saving All Humanity From Ultimate Evil! 

But what does all that mean for how this will all shake out on the show?

A recently popularized fan theory went as far as to speculate that Bloodraven and the Three-Eyed Raven were two different people all along, trying to manipulate Bran into doing dark biddings. But that seems too convoluted for the show. 

Others speculate that the Night King was originally a Three-Eyed Raven turned into a White Walker by mistake, and now he and Bran are like two opposing forces of the same magical powers. But that’s also hard to imagine fitting into the show. Perhaps the Night King was instead a Three-Eyed Raven betrayed by the Children of the Forest, making his vengeful vendetta at least more sympathetic.

Seems legit

Seems legit

Image: hbo

The more logical fan theory on the Three-Eyed Raven’s origins is that the first one was the savior northern legends call the Last Hero. Allegedly, the Last Hero defeated the White Walkers the first time by going Beyond the Wall to get help from the Children of the Forest. That sounds a lot like Bran’s arc. (The Last Hero even lost his dog on the journey, like Bran with Summer.)

Still others theorize that perhaps the Night King truly is motivated by nothing more but the need to end all human life. Certainly, he is still angry about being turned into a White Walker, as shown by his constant use of the spiral pattern. Game of Thrones writer Dave Hill said that:

As we saw with Bran and the Three-Eyed Raven, the spiral pattern was sacred to the Children of the Forest, who created the Night King by sacrificing a captured man in a spiral “henge of stones.” The Night King then adopted the symbol as a sort of blasphemy, like Satan with the upside-down cross.

Honestly, it’s hard to make too many educated guesses about what the new major piece of information Bran dropped actually means. The show has remained frustratingly vague when it comes to answering even the most basic questions about the Three-Eyed Raven, like WTF he even is or does.

Yup, he's definitely pissed.

Yup, he’s definitely pissed.

Image: hbo

But what we do know about Three-Eyed Ravens should give us reason to question him, rather than rally around his perspective on what the White Walkers want.

Game of Thrones is a story about how everything is not as it seems, and that mankind’s history, legends, wars, and memories are often riddled with lies. The alleged rape of Lyanna Stark, which launched an entire war, turned out to be a love story. The bastard son of Ned Stark was actually heir to the Iron Throne all along. The evil monsters who want to kill everything actually began as innocent men who never asked to become monstrous.

Ultimately, there has to be more to the White Walkers than meets the eye — even if it’s the three eyes of an “all knowing” raven.

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Pixel 3a leak shows Google's mid-range phone in full


Google is likely set to reveal mid-range Pixel 3a and 3a XL devices on May 7th, and now we know what they’ll probably look like. A leak from Evan Blass, aka @evleaks, shows a notch-free device with a fairly basic design, single rear camera and a rear fingerprint reader. That’s a bit out of step with other mid-level devices we’ve seen recently like Samsung’s Galaxy A70, with rear multi-camera setups and nearly bezel free displays.

Thanks to an earlier leak from Google itself, we already know that the Pixel 3a and bigger 3a XL will likely have 2,160 x 1,080 and 2,220 x 1,080 displays, respectively. Other specs include Snapdragon 670 and 710 processors for the smaller and larger phones, 4GB of RAM and the same Pixel Visual Core that powers the incredible cameras on current Pixel 3 devices.

It might be hard for buyers to wrap their heads around a notch-free device, given that most manufacturers have shrunk or even eliminated them altogether. However, there’s no need to worry much about the lack of a multi-camera setup, as the Pixel 3 and 3 XL get along just fine without that. If the Pixel 3a has a similar camera setup, as rumored, and costs in the $400-500 range, it should be a mighty tempting option for lots of buyers.

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iFixit’s Galaxy Fold teardown reveals its biggest design flaw

Though it’s not technically the first time we’ve seen the innards of the now-delayed Samsung Galaxy Fold, iFixit’s teardown of the folding device is absolutely the most informed and detailed we’ve seen. Following up on its post speculating on the possible causes of the various screen breakages we’ve seen on review units, iFixit’s teardown analysis seems to reveal a fundamental design tradeoff Samsung had to make — one that may have doomed the phone.

It seems as though Samsung focused quite a bit on ensuring the mechanics of the hinge would be a sturdy and dependable mechanism for folding and unfolding a screen. Yet for whatever reason, the Galaxy Fold does not have enough protection against the ingress of debris. And because that screen is so incredibly delicate (as any OLED is if it’s not protected by something like Gorilla Glass), that was a significant risk.

It was a risk that didn’t pay off, as no fewer than three different review units developed bulges under their screens at the hinge. Our unit exhibited the issue, as did the unit that was given to Blick, as did the unit given to Michael Fisher. One of those bulges — the one on our review unit — ultimately damaged the screen.

We still can’t know the full reasoning behind Samsung’s decision to delay the launch of the phone, but this debris/bulge problem feels much more fundamental than the fact that the protective layer on the top looks like a screen protector that should be peeled off (but, again, should not be as that breaks the screen as well). The bulk of the rest of the reviewers who had broken screens tried to remove that layer — a natural inclination since the review unit packaging didn’t have any warning on it.

In any case, iFixit’s teardown reveals that the hinge mechanism for folding and unfolding the phone is incredibly robust and — from a certain perspective — well designed. It certainly seems plausible that the hinge itself could stand up to Samsung’s oft-touted 200,000 robot-powered unfoldings without issue. As iFixit writes, there are two separate types of hinges: a center hinge that “distributes the opening force equally, ensuring that the two halves of the phone open synchronously” and two side hinges that “allow for some horizontal play in order to absorb any torsion force.”

Though the hinge itself might be strong and rigid enough to prevent direct damage to the screen through twisting or flexing, it seems as though Samsung was unable to come up with a design that kept dust or debris from getting inside it. Looking at the front of the phone, there’s a 7-mm gap between the screen and the edge of the phone right at the top and bottom of the crease. For whatever reason, Samsung didn’t try to fit a flexible rail over that portion of the screen to prevent dust from getting in.

That small gap probably isn’t the biggest problem, though. No, the biggest problem appears to be the gaps on the back of the hinge. iFixit notes that “the spine is flanked by massive gaps that our opening picks hop right into. These gaps are less likely to cause immediate screen damage but will definitely attract dirt.”

I can’t say with any degree of confidence that those rear gaps are how debris got into my review unit, but that’s my current working theory. I also can’t help but think of the silicone protective layer Apple eventually added to MacBook keyboards and whether Samsung should have considered adding such a thing to the Fold.

As of this writing, Samsung has still not informed us what the debris was that broke our review unit — but at this point, it hardly seems to matter if it was sand, lint, the molding clay we briefly used (and rigorously cleaned off) to hold the phone up, or something else entirely. The bottom line is that it seems as though the basic design of the Galaxy Fold made it entirely too easy for debris to get under the screen. And even though the device specifically doesn’t have an IP rating for dust, it sure seems like the next iteration should get one.

As for the rest of the teardown, it’s certainly worth a read. Much of it comes off like a bog-standard smartphone teardown with all the usual chips and battery rating and repair-hostile adhesive. But because this is a completely new form factor, there are completely new design elements to look at, the sort of thing we haven’t had on a phone in a very long time. Many of Samsung’s design decisions are surprising, but one thing isn’t: iFixit’s repairability score is a dismal — and predictable — two out of ten.

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