• howard

    by Published on 01-23-2015 03:55 PM
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    In late 2013, an interesting trend emerged in the marketplace; Motorola released the Moto G which was the first relatively inexpensive phone that didnít suck.

    The bar was raised In 2014; for the same money you could now pick up something with a quad-core processor, 5Ē HD display and a 8 megapixel autofocus camera: Iím talking phones like the ZTE Grand X (Z933 - Canadian version) or the Blu Studio 5.0C HD.

    Later in 2014 we got different permutations on this formula; The HTC Desire 510 and Nokia Lumia 635 added LTE but they forced you to give up the 5Ē HD display and 8 megapixel camera. LTE makes these phones more attractive to carriers but as far as Iím concerned, trading these 2 features to get LTE is just not worth it.

    Now we have the ZTE Grand X Plus (Z826). With the Plus you get a 5Ē display, 8 megapixel camera, quad-core processor AND LTE. You donít have to make any compromises! You get all this for $200 from Fido.
    ...
    by Published on 12-21-2014 01:43 PM
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    Boxing day is almost here so I threw together a list of phone and tablet deals.

    If you're willing to sign your life away, my top picks are:

    iPhone 6 16GB for TELUS on BestBuy or Futureshop for $79.99 (do yourself a fav and get the 64GB instead).

    Samsung Galaxy S5 for Bell/TELUS/Rogers on BestBuy or Futureshop for $0 plus you get a $175 gift card. If you're the type to experience buyers remorse remember the GS6 is probably 4 months off so expect lots of remorse as you're peppered with rumors of it.

    The Nexus 5 on Koodo/Virgin is $0 from BestBuy or Futureshop plus you get a $125 gift card.

    The Sony Z3 Compact on Bell and the LG G3 on Rogers are both $0 with a $100 gift card at Futureshop. Both are solid phones.

    If Prepaid is your thing here are some picks. Remember, a prepaid phone is an unlock code away from being unlocked with no contract:

    Visions has the LG F4n flip phone (okay, it's not a smartphone) for only 9 bucks, NINE BUCKS.

    Nokia Lumia 635 for $79.99 on Rogers from BestBuy and Futureshop. Our friends down south had these for $49.99 but for 80 bucks the 635 is still a good deal.

    Motorola Moto G first gen (8GB, no mSD) is $79.99 on TELUS at London Drugs. 'Nuff said.

    Samsung GS3 on TELUS for $198 at Walmart.

    Most of the unlocked phones are at Canada Computers, Staples and NCIX:

    Acer Liquid S1 for $229.99 at Canada Computers. I reviewed one before, originally it was a terrible deal at $379.99 but at 229.99 is an absolute steal, 5.7" HD display, usable processor, 8MP (not the greatest) plus it recently got an Android 4.4 upgrade. Buy Buy Buy!

    NCIX has the Sony Z Ultra is 359.99 at NCIX. It's an enormous phablet with a 6.44" display.

    If a Tablet is your fancy there are tons and tons of Galaxy Tabs on sale from the 4 to the S to the Pro to the Note to the Note Pro to the OMGWTFBBQ. To be honest, I don't recommend any of these Tabs, the S is susceptible to screen burn in (happened to mine), the Tab Pro is still too expensive as is the Note and the ridiculously priced Note and Tab Pro versions.

    If you HAVE to buy a Samsung Tablet, stick with the 8" and 10" Tab 4 versions for around $230 and $270 respectively at many places. At least they're sort of cheap.

    If you want an iPad the Air the 16GB is $368 at Walmart which is decent for what it is but still, overall a warm deal.

    The Best deal is the original Surface Pro with 4GB of RAM and 128GB of storage refurbished for $399. This is a full-fat version PC in a tablet form factor. Hook a monitor, keyboard and mouse to it and for many people, it can replace a full-on PC. BestBuy and Futureshop have it.

    Lastly, Canada Computers has the the Lenovo Miix 8" Windows 8 Tablet. This is a full-on Windows 8 computer in a 8" Windows Tablet body for only $158. It only comes with 2GB of RAM but to be honest, the small display keeps you from really getting into RAM troubles. I don't actually recommend this one but it IS a good deal.

    Don't forget, Futureshop and BestBuy start ONLINE on Dec 24th at 8PM EST.

    Follow the jump for a complete list of deals!
    ...
    by Published on 12-16-2014 11:01 AM
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    Itís that time of the year again; youíre thinking of picking up a phone for that special someone but donít know what to get. Here are my top picks: ...
    by Published on 12-15-2014 02:01 PM
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    To Android users, the Nexus brand stands front and center. It stands for freedom from manufacturer crapware. Unlike other Android phones, Nexus are usually unlocked plus their boot loaders are easily unlocked so you can easily throw on a custom ROM.

    They also receive Android updates the moment Google releases them, and not 6 months later if ever like other Android phones.

    Most importantly, a Nexus phone meant you were getting a great phone at a great price.

    Here's the latest Nexus from Google which this time around, is made by Motorola: The Nexus 6. Like previous Nexus (Nexuses? Nexii?), the 6 lacks manufacturer crapware, it has an easily unlocked boot loader and it receives timely updates. However, the Nexus 6 is $750 which makes it the most expensive Nexus ever. However, itís also the most speced out Nexus ever. Is it still a great deal? ...
    by Published on 12-02-2014 11:41 AM
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    Since flagship phones displays have been increasing in size over the past few years, new segments in the market have opened up for phones which have slightly smaller displays. One interesting segment are smaller versions of flagship phones.

    One of the first was the GS3 Mini; which was really a budget phone named after the GS3. This trend continued the following year with the HTC One Mini and GS4 Mini.

    However, earlier this year Sony added a twist to this trend when they released the Z1 Compact. Unlike the competition, the Z1 Compact was not a budget phone in expensive clothes; it was the first Ďminií phone with full-sized specs.

    Hereís their follow up, the Z3 Compact. Let's check it out: ...
    by Published on 11-26-2014 06:58 PM
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    With Black Friday around the corner I thought I'd throw together a list of phones, tablets and other related items together. Rather than organize it by store, it's grouped by unlocked phones, contract phones, prepaid, etc.

    If you find any other good deals please let me know and I'll add them.

    Note this is for Canadian only:
    ...
    by Published on 11-18-2014 07:55 PM
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    I donít know about you but it seems Sony is constantly putting out new flagships. Indeed, recently theyíve had a policy of releasing a new flagship every 6 months. The problem with this is that that newer versions often donít differ much from previous versions. The upside is that this helps to really put downward pressure on the prices of their older models which are almost as good as the newer ones.

    Of course, if you end up buying the latest model you might feel burned when rumors of its replacement start making the rounds a week later but I guess thatís part of the Sony Xperience.

    Hereís Sonyís latest, the Xperia Z3.
    ...
    by Published on 11-14-2014 05:55 PM
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    Last year, Motorolaís flagship, the Moto X kind of got lost in the shuffle. While it was a solid effort of Motorolaís part, some of the features they gave it to differentiate it from the competition didnít really catch on.

    The specs werenít up to, well, they werenít up to spec and one of the most important differentiators, the customizability wasnít even available in Canada! To be honest, Iím surprised they sold any here.

    This time around, letís see if the second Gen X fares any better:
    ...
    by Published on 11-11-2014 02:07 PM
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    Motorola really shook up the industry last year when they released the Moto G. Up until then, the thought getting such a sharp display in such an affordable brand name phone was just a dream.

    However, fast forward a year and the market has caught up with the G, particularly in the display size department. Fortunately, just as competitors were starting to catch up, Motorola released their new second generation Moto G. Letís see how it stacks up. ...
    by Published on 11-04-2014 06:58 PM
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    Hereís the HTC Desire 510. Itís a new entry-level-ish phone with LTE from HTC that costs $180 Canadian off-contract.

    Currently, the under $200 market in Canada requires you to make a choice. You basically have to choose between having a high definition display or having LTE. You canít have both unless youíre willing to spend another $50.

    The problem with this is that both high def screens and LTE are awesome features. If a phone were Ice cream, a HD display would be chocolate sauce while LTE would be peanuts - itís not a choice you want to have to make.

    When you have LTE, apps download faster, webpages pop up more quickly, and in general, you do less waiting. On the other hand, high definition displays are usually nicer to look at. Thereís no blockiness or jagged edges to distract you.

    So where does the Desire fit in? It has LTE which is great and a 854x480 display which isnít so great. Letís check it out: ...
    by Published on 10-28-2014 04:58 PM
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    Hereís my Samsung Galaxy S5 Active review. Since Iíve already reviewing the GS5 and *spoiler alert* itís basically the GS5 with more plastic on it. Iím not going to go as in-depth with the Active. Itís more a comparison of the Active with the regular GS5. Since the GS5 Active is the ďActiveĒ, does that make the regular GS5 the ďGalaxy S5 Couch PotatoĒ?.
    ...
    by Published on 10-24-2014 10:20 AM
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    2. News,
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    4. Carriers

    Thanks for HC - no "i" for pointing this out.

    Rogers just announced their LTE-Advanced rollout that combines their band 17 (B block 700Mhz) and band 4 (AWS) spectrum.

    I'm not sure how this would work. Rogers owns the "A" and "B" 700Mhz blocks in Southern Ontario. However, I don't think any phones support the "A" block so right now, it's not really useful. That leaves them with a 5Mhz pairing whereas on AWS they're running a 10Mhz pairing.

    Unless, they're using both up and downlink on block B and pairing it with just 10Mhz of their AWS spectrum?

    Or is it possible to run pairings of different sized blocks?

    Can someone please explain?

    *EDIT* just got confirmation it's 5+10Mhz. So 75Mbps down and 25mbps up?

    *EDIT 2* looks like milan03 beat me to it
    ...
    by Published on 10-23-2014 09:57 AM
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    As humans, we have an innate curiosity to find out which is the best. Which car is the fastest? Who can eat the most hot dogs? Who can stuff the most number of snakes in their pants?

    Hereís something else to pique your interest; What is the worldís toughest phone? According to the Guinness Book of World records, itís the Sonim XP3300 feature phone which survived a drop from 25m (82ft).

    Thatís great, but who really wants a feature phone these days? Fortunately, Sonim now has a follow up; the XP7 Smartphone. It's available now on Bell and TELUS for $649.99 or $199 on contract. It may be coming to the US too.

    It runs Android and is built with the same design principles as the XP3300. Instead of trying to be the sexiest phone around like the iPhone 6, Galaxy Note 4, etc, the XP7 is designed to be as tough as possible.

    Letís check it out.
    ...
    by Published on 10-15-2014 04:48 PM
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    Google and Motorola just announced the Nexus 6.

    Think of it as the 2014 Moto X's bigger brother. Here are the specs:


    • 6" 2560x1440 display AMOLED display
    • dual core 2.7Ghz Qualcomm Snapdragon 805
    • LTE (2/3/4/5/6/12/13/17/25/26/29/41 + carrier aggregation 2-13, 1-17, 2-29, 4-5, 4-13, 4-17, 4-29
    • Gorilla Glass 3
    • 13/2MP cameras
    • dual LED ring flash
    • stereo front facing speakers
    • 802.11ac (2x2)
    • 159.26 x 82.98 x 10.06mm
    • 184g
    • 3220mAh battery
    • QI wireless charging
    • 32 or 64GB of RAM


    It will run Android 5.0 Lollipop and get this, it will be $749 direct from Google (or subsidized from a Carrier).

    I don't know about you, but the best thing about Nexus phones is that got a great phone at a great price. $749 is more than double what a 16GB Nexus 5 cost and while it's not a terrible deal (the iPhone 6 Plus is $859), it's priced high enough to break the heart of Nexus fans everywhere.

    The way I see it, the OnePlus One has now become the phone of choice for Nexus enthusiasts.

    What do you think? ...
    by Published on 10-15-2014 04:48 PM
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    HTC and Google just announced the Nexus 9 tablet. It will be the first Android tablet to run Android 5.0 Lollipop.

    The specs are impressive:
    • 8.9" 4:3 ratio display (like the iPad - is this going to be the new trend for Android tablets?)
    • 2048x1536 resolution
    • Gorilla Glass 3
    • 463g
    • 2.3Ghz Nvidia Tegra K1 64bit dual-core processor
    • 8/1.6MP cameras
    • stereo front facing speakers with HTC BoomSound profile
    • available magnetically attached keyboard with multi-angle stand
    • 802.11ac (2x2)
    • 153.6 x 228.25 x 7.95mm
    • 6700mAh battery


    The body has a metal frame and a soft touch back. It will be available in 16GB, 32GB and an LTE version with 32GB in white, black or sand.

    It will be available for pre-order on Oct 17th. ...
    by Published on 10-14-2014 11:54 AM
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    It only took 5 years but Apple is now back to parity with Samsung when it comes to screen-size. With that in mind, Samsung is now under even more pressure to make sure that they deliver a hit with the Galaxy Note 4.

    Did Samsung deliver the goods? Letís check it out:
    ...
    by Published on 10-09-2014 11:05 AM
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    Lately, Iíve been trying to check out as many phones in the under $200 segment which as many strong entries like the Alcatel OneTouch Pop Icon, Blu Studio 5.0C HD, ZTE Grand X, Nokia Lumia 635 and of course, the now venerable Moto X (8GB HSPA version). Then, thereís the under $400 segment which is basically owned by the Google Nexus 5.

    But what if youíre trying to spend between 200 and 300? What choices are there? For some reason, there arenít a lot of choices here. Off the top of my head, the only offerings I can think of are the LTE version of the Moto G for $250 unlocked, the Alcatel OneTouch Idol X+ and the new Moto G which isnít released in Canada yet.

    Fortunately, if we expand our field of view we can consider phones not normally sold here. GearBest was kind enough to send me the iNew V8, a phone that sells for $219 USD. They also gave me a coupon to share that brings the price down to $195.99. The code is:

    GBV8LM

    With the coupon and after currency conversion, import taxes and brokerage fees, the V8 works out to around $260 CDN.

    Never heard of the iNew company? Donít worry, neither have but I will say, their phones never get old (sorry I couldnít resist). ...
    by Published on 10-08-2014 01:29 PM
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    While weíve been spoilt for choice when it comes to regular Smartphones, it feels like the QWERTY phone has been on life support for the past while. However, one thing Iíve noticed about QWERTY fans is that theyíre a loyal bunch. Some may use iPhones or Androids but many of them donít really enjoy it. Then, there are the die hards who will only give up their QWERTYís when you pry it from their cold dead hands. Yup, QWERTY phones can have that effect on people.

    Itís been over a year since the Blackberry Q10 came out and if I may be perfectly honest, it was already a bit dated when it hit the market. The screen felt small and wasnít that great, the processor felt dated and while it had a QWERTY keyboard, it didnít really feel like a special device.

    Fortunately, Blackberry just released the Passport and boy, is it ever a special device. Itís dominated by itís huge 4.5Ē square shaped display. Inside, it has a Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 SoC - while itís about a year old now, itís follow ups, the 801 and 805, are only slightly faster. The rest of the spec sheet reads 32GB of storage, 3GB of RAM, 13MP camera with optical image stabilization and stereo speakers. To say the Passport has good bones would be an understatement.
    ...
    by Published on 10-05-2014 04:16 PM
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    I just got a Blackberry Passport the other day and wow, is it ever - different. Letís just say Iíve never had so many people say to me: ďThatís hugeĒ.

    Now give me a second to wipe the smirk off of my face, but everyone seems to get very excited when I when I whip it out my Passport. But really, just how big is it?

    Since I havenít had enough time to really give it a fair shake, I figured Iíd share some pictures of the Passport to give you a sense of of its size.
    ...
    by Published on 10-03-2014 04:58 PM
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    I was lucky enough to get a North American spec, Samsung Galaxy Note 4 today. Since I haven't played with it much I don't have much to say about so rather than trying to scramble together a review, I thought I'd share some pictures:

    Here it is next to some competitors:



    Apple iPhone 6+, Samsung Galaxy Note 4, Galaxy Note 3.

    While the screen size is unchanged, it looks like the Note 4 is a tiny bit taller. It does have a larger battery and a heart-rate monitor on the back though so I guess that explains the tiny bump in size.

    More importantly, the bottom bezel is a little bit taller which I find helps a lot in the usability department. ...
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