• Devices

    by Published on 05-26-2016 01:33 PM
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices,
    3. Commentary and Analysis,
    4. Reviews and Hands-on
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    Last year, instead of releasing one Galaxy S flagship, Samsung’s S line bifurcated into regular and curved versions with the Galaxy S6 and the Galaxy S6 Edge. Later on, the Edge line split again with a Galaxy S6 Edge Plus.

    In 2016, Samsung merged the S6 Edge and S6 Edge Plus into, wait for it, the Galaxy S7 Edge.

    Last year, the GS6 and GS6 Edge weren’t all that different so I thought the regular version was the smarter choice. However, this time around, the difference between them is more pronounced. The screen size on the Edge has grown from 5.1 to 5.5” with a few other changes under the hood.

    Is the regular version still the one to get or has it been supplanted by the Edge? ...
    by Published on 05-25-2016 06:32 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices,
    3. Rumors
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    The other day while rummaging through a drawer I came across a pair of bright red USB cables and thought to myself: "What a shame about OnePlus."

    Despite a controversial marketing campaign and the invite system that everyone loved to hate, their first smartphone was actually pretty good; if nothing else the OnePlus One at least showed the world that in 2014 an extra 32GB of onboard storage didn't have to cost an arm and a leg.

    Then came the OnePlus 2, which pretty much ruined the brand for Western markets—this "2016 flagship killer" (first sold in 2015) shipped with a USB-C cable that wasn't up to basic spec. It was quickly followed by the OnePlus X, a device that no one asked for and few customers seemed to want.

    But Carl Pei and company haven't thrown in the towel just yet. Their OnePlus 3 will be officially unveiled on June 14th. And this one will at least have NFC. ...
    by Published on 05-24-2016 10:00 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices
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    Over the weekend Pebble was teasing a big announcement for this morning, and now that 10AM Eastern has come and gone we know what that announcement is.

    It's another Kickstarter campaign.

    That is, a Kickstarter campaign for four new products—the Pebble 2 and Pebble Time 2 (both with heart rate sensors) plus two versions of an entirely new product called Pebble Core. ...
    by Published on 05-20-2016 06:35 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices,
    3. Apps
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    Fresh off the news that Chrome OS outsold Mac OS X for the first time ever in the USA comes another bombshell: Your cheap and cheerful Chromebook might soon be able to run Android apps as well. Even better, those apps will be able to run in resizable windows on your Chrome OS desktop.

    Here's Liliputing's Brad Linder to explain:

    We’re not just talking about games—the entire Google Play Store experience now works on Chromebooks, including Google Play Movies, Music, Photos and Newsstand. Android notifications will be delivered through Chromebooks and you’ll be able to share files between Chrome windows and Android apps.
    It's pretty much great news for everyone, with the possible exception of the folks working on Remix OS. ...
    by Published on 05-18-2016 06:30 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices,
    3. Commentary and Analysis
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    Oh yes, watch geeks exist. In fact, the image for my last Wearable Wednesdays post was lifted from aBlogtoWatch—a site I've since added to my RSS reader to better marvel at the stunning luxury timepieces they write about.

    This week I'm featuring another excellent piece from Wareable, wherein the author Sophie Chara talks to three mechanical watch experts about their views on connected wearables. The entire post is very much worth your time; my favourite quotes are posted immediately below. ...
    by Published on 05-17-2016 06:40 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices
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    This will be the last thing I write about these two phones for a while; any additional news over the next few days will be posted in the afternoon news round-ups. It just so happened that their launch in India this morning coincided with my morning coffee.

    The only real surprise here is that both the G4 and G4 Plus are actually the same size, each with a 5.5 inch full HD screen. The G4 Plus adds the physical home button/fingerprint sensor and an option with more storage and RAM. ...
    by Published on 05-16-2016 06:20 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices,
    3. Rumors
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    As an addendum to last week's post, here are two new press renders of the 4th generation Moto G—sorry, Moto Gs. There are two of them.

    First up is the XT1622. According to Android Central it's launching in India tomorrow, but has already received FCC certification for the USA. "But wait," you say, "I thought the new Moto G had a physical home button/fingerprint reader..." Nope, apparently that's a feature of its bigger brother, the XT1642—Otherwise known as the G4 Plus. ...
    by Published on 05-12-2016 10:30 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices,
    3. Commentary and Analysis,
    4. Reviews and Hands-on
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    I remember when HTC was synonymous with Smartphones. While most of us were still pressing the “3” button twice to enter in the letter “e”, HTC was making Smartphones with HTML web browsers, email, MS office with WiFi and Bluetooth.

    However, their 2015 flagship, the HTC One M9 left something to be desired. If I was to describe it in one word it would be “underwhelming”. On paper it was an improvement over the 2014 M8, but in the real world, it was more of a sideways step rather than a step forward.

    The camera had beefy specs but it wasn’t really that great, the processor should have been formidable but wasn’t really any faster than last year’s model. It just didn’t stand out.

    Fortunately, HTC isn’t messing around with their 2016 flagship; the HTC 10 lines up much better with its competitors.

    In Canada, the HTC 10 is available unlocked from HTC’s website for an eye-watering $999 Canadian. Otherwise, it’s a Bell exclusive. At $349.99 Canadian on contract it’s $50 more than the LG G5, $50 less than the GS7 and $150 less than the GS7 Edge . Let’s check it out:
    ...
    by Published on 05-12-2016 06:35 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices,
    3. News
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    Here's Marty Cooper, who built the world's first cell phone for Motorola in 1973. Today he sits on the board of a company called Energous, which just got approval from the FCC to deploy a new type of wireless charging.

    Through radio waves.

    The technology, branded as WattUp®, is currently capable of charging hearing aids and similarly small medical devices. Medium and large-scale transmitters are planned for release by 2018. Energous isn't the only player in this new space—uBeam is attempting to charge phones with sound waves, while Wi-Charge is working with lasers. But, according to Cooper, Energous has been at it the longest, has commitments from strategic partners and uses a technology that can charge at longer distances than its competitors. ...
    by Published on 05-11-2016 07:15 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices,
    3. Commentary and Analysis
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    One vision for the future of smartwatches would look very much like personal computers today. As the technology gets better (smaller) and Google courts the likes of Swatch and Timex, Apple will inevitably be reduced to a boutique player in the smartwatch space; Android Wear will run on everything else—just like Windows on desktop PCs.

    Wareable's James Stables sees an entirely different future for the connected computers on our wrists. Why? For the simple reason that wristwatches follow fashion much more than tech. ...
    by Published on 05-09-2016 06:25 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices,
    3. Rumors
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    If these renders are to be believed, we now know what 2016's Moto X, Moto G and Moto Droid look like. This first image is supposedly the Moto X. The images were published by a Google+ account called hellomotoHK; they were republished by Android Police, so presumably there's some legitimacy to them.

    New to the X is a physical home button with what will almost surely be a fingerprint reader. There's also a curious 16-pin assembly on the back. Finally, there's a cutout in the bottom lens assembly that might possibly house a dual LED flash, but at the very least will attempt to make users feel better about the flat tire on their Moto 360 smartwatch. Yeah, I went there. ...
    by Published on 05-05-2016 06:32 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices
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    Here's a funny story that you may have missed; it broke while I was on break.

    A previous post about 2016 being the year of the dual rear camera smartphone included news of the Huawei P9 and P9 Plus—both with camera modules designed and presumably manufactured by famous German camera maker Leica. Well, guess what? Turns out those modules are actually being made by Sunny Optical Technology of China. Oops. ...
    by Published on 05-04-2016 06:35 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices
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    A quick heads-up for Canadians reading this: there are two really good deals on round smartwatches right now, ones that won't last long.

    Until May 9th Google is offering $125 CAD off the sticker price of the Android Wear-powered Huawei Watch. Unfortunately, it can't be combined with the $50 credit that Google previously offered to folks like myself who purchased a Nexus 6P. Also, the cheaper silver model is currently listed as out of stock.

    And for Pebble fans there's an even better deal. ...
    by Published on 04-29-2016 06:40 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices
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    What we're looking at here is a thousand-dollar paperweight that I carried with me across Asia. What a fail.

    Two days into my twelve-day trip this Fujifilm X-T10 mirrorless digital camera suddenly and inexplicably stopped talking to its kit lens—as bizarre as that sounds it's apparently a frequent problem with these cameras. What does Fuji have to say about it? From their own support pages:

    The camera is malfunctioning or defective. Please contact the place of purchase.
    Done and done, Fuji. The camera is being shipped back to Amazon today. The whole experience has given me a new appreciation for smartphone cameras, and how far they've progressed in a relatively short time. ...
    by Published on 04-28-2016 06:35 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices
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    The T-Hotel is my favourite place to stay in Hong Kong. Tucked away in the sleepy village of Pok Fu Lam, this boutique property is actually a training facility for hospitality students. Simply put, you get the five-star hotel service of tomorrow, today—and at two-star hotel prices, I might add!

    My girlfriend and I stopped over in Hong Kong for a few days on our way back from Seoul. A new service for T-Hotel guests is a complimentary Android phone from handy, with free data for the duration of their stay. When I first wrote about handy exactly two years ago it was a freebie you could only get from the city's most expensive hotels; it was an unexpected perk to be able to try it out on the cheap. ...
    by Published on 04-20-2016 03:22 PM
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices,
    3. Commentary and Analysis
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    The other day, I wrote about my Nexus 4 and how it’s still able to get the job done. What I didn’t mention was that I was also fiddling with my Nexus One from many years ago. While a bit smaller, feature wise, it’s not all that far from the current crop of Nexus’.

    Oh and before I continue, all the pictures here were taken with the very same Nexus 4 I wrote about yesterday. It’s old, not obsolete!

    I mean the recipe for a smartphone hasn’t changed all that much. They’re still basically just a processor, touch screen, RAM, storage, camera(s), speaker(s), radio and software, all crammed into a bar like device. Despite manufacturer’s best efforts, this recipe probably won’t change for a while.

    Along the way, companies have tried to mix things up. Samsung includes a heart rate sensor on many models. The Note series includes a stylus. They also included a UV sensor on the Note 4.

    A few have tried infrared blasters. There are a handful of phones with dual rear cameras, for various reasons including 2 different focal lengths, fake bokeh effects, 3D, you name it.

    Call it innovation or running out of ideas, but there is one feature which is slowly becoming a standard feature which I absolutely love; the fingerprint reader.
    ...
    by Published on 04-18-2016 07:43 PM
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices,
    3. Commentary and Analysis
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    Forgive me for the provocative title, but I was doing some spring cleaning the other day when I stumbled across my old LG Nexus 4. Released in late 2012, it’s now a little over 3 years old and no longer gets the latest version of Android from Google.

    I turned it on and it still works just fine. It got me thinking; just how fast is it compared to something more contemporary? And since when is something barely 3 years old not contemporary?

    Since the Nexus 4 came out, it’s seen 3 generations of successors. After the 4 came the LG Nexus 5 in 2013. 2014 saw the Motorola Nexus 6 while 2015 saw a pair of Nexus (Nexi?); the Huawei Nexus 6P and LG Nexus 5x.

    If I may jog your memory, the Nexus 4 came:


    • quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon Pro 1.5Ghz SoC
    • 2GB RAM
    • 8GB or 16GB storage
    • 4.7” 1280x768 LCD
    • 8MP rear camera
    • 1.3MP front camera
    • 2100mAh battery
    • Android 4.2 at release now at 5.1.1


    Aside from lacking official LTE support and the slightly lower resolution display, the 4 doesn’t seem very far off from the latest Nexus devices. So, what kind of jumps in performance do we see from one generation to the next?
    ...
    by Published on 04-15-2016 11:05 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices,
    3. Commentary and Analysis
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    Previously I discussed the merits of both the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge and HTC 10’s speakers. If you missed it, both have different strengths but are excellent in their own way.

    To make things more spicy, I figured I’d toss the iPhone 6s Plus and Huawei Nexus 6P into the equation.

    Next up, let’s talk screens; The HTC 10, Edge and Nexus all have 2560x1440 displays while the iPhone gets by with a more modest 1920x1080. If you look really closely there is a small difference in sharpness between the Androids and the iPhone’s display. However, all displays have more than 400PPI which to my eyes is enough that I don’t really care about having more.
    ...
    by Published on 04-14-2016 02:43 PM
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices,
    3. Commentary and Analysis,
    4. Reviews and Hands-on
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    Since Andrew is off for a couple of weeks, I’m going to try to take over and share some thoughts each day. Recently, I’ve been playing with the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge and HTC 10 (LG G5 is coming but not here yet) so I figured I compare the 2. I’ll have full reviews for all 3 phones eventually but for now I’m just going to focus on specific areas.

    As a reviewer, one of my jobs is to figure out if newer models are better than previous ones. However, when it comes to features, once they’ve reached a point where they’re “good enough”, most people stop caring about them.

    A good example is screen size. Once phones breached 5.5ish inches most people stopped clamouring for bigger screens. It’s not to say that future phones won’t get bigger, just that the current crop of screens are large enough for most. If we find new ways to use our phones that require a bigger screen, this will obviously change.

    Another thing people don’t really about anymore is camera resolution. As long as you have more than 10 megapixels (enough to also capture 4K video) most people don’t really care about having more. It’s enough for Facebook/Instagram and thus enough for most.

    Still, there are still areas which can use some improving. Areas which I’ll be focusing more on.



    First up are the speakers. The 10 and Edge both have 2 speakers; one on the earpiece and a bigger one on the bottom. ...
    by Published on 04-13-2016 06:57 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices,
    3. How-To
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    When I travel, nothing beats the World Watch watchface for Pebble. Monochrome though it may be, no other face I've tried lays out so clearly the local times at my stopover, destination and back home.

    Grabbing a screen from my Pebble, however, is needlessly complicated. So much so that I thought I'd post a quick guide so that other smartwatch users can share their favourite watchfaces as well. If you wear a Fitbit you can stop reading here. ...
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