• Devices

    by Published on 08-26-2015 07:32 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices,
    3. Commentary and Analysis
    Article Preview



    I've written about China's powerful and peculiar smartphone market a number of times now. 2014 may or may not have been the year of the Chinese Android smartphone; Lenovo's acquisition of Motorola Mobility was certainly big news, and the OnePlus One easily took the crown as most polarizing device of the year.

    And yet here we are in mid-2015, and the invasion of Chinese smartphones—the ones made by Chinese companies, not just manufactured in China—doesn't seem to have started yet. There are a few available options for purchase (dragon2knight would probably know more about them than me) but the bigger companies like Xiaomi and Meizu have yet to make inroads into Western markets.

    Today I've cobbled together some links to help us figure this out. ...
    by Published on 08-25-2015 07:28 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices,
    3. Tips
    Article Preview



    It's mid-range madness!

    Howard is giving away an ASUS ZenPhone 2 and has posted his reviews of the 2015 Moto G and Moto X Play. Thus, it seems only fitting that I report on the status of rooting and ROMing this trio of 2015 devices. All of them have forums on XDA, which is a good sign.

    Benefits of root access include the ability to block ads system-wide, plus greater control over apps and the access they seek to your personal data. A custom recovery will enable you to back up and restore an entire image of your OS and a custom ROM will grant you additional powers to change your UI as you see fit.

    Android modding usually requires a personal computer with two Android communication protocols—adb and fastboot—installed. Just remember, this is going to be an overview, not a how-to. ...
    by Published on 08-24-2015 03:29 PM
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices,
    3. Commentary and Analysis,
    4. Reviews and Hands-on
    Article Preview


    Among flagships, Motorola’s X line has always been a bit hard to understand. The first one costs slightly less than competing flagships but it gave up some specs compared to them. Ditto for the second gen X.

    Now, we’re on the 3rd generation and Motorola has mixed things up. The X lineup now bifurcates into the Moto X Pure and the Moto X Play. The Pure is a true flagship with the request flagship specs and price tag. However, the Play is the more interesting model. It trades some big specs for a more a palatable price tag.

    We’re now in the “Good enough” era of smartphones where flagship ownership is no longer mandatory to have a good experience.

    It mixes some flagship-ish features which some midrange ones to bring the price tag down to $400. Throw a large 3630mAh battery into the pot and we have something very unique. Let’s check it out. ...
    by Published on 08-24-2015 01:19 PM
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices,
    3. Commentary and Analysis,
    4. Reviews and Hands-on
    Article Preview


    With school just around the corner, many of you are thinking of picking up a decent phone on a budget. No doubt the original Moto G will probably come up quite frequently. The problem is that the original Moto G came out 2 years ago and its successor, the 2014 didn’t get people quite as excited partly because it lacked LTE, partly because it was priced too high and partly because it didn’t gain much traction with carriers (probably because of the LTE issue).

    Anyways, they’re back with their newest G, the 2015 Moto G. The addition of LTE is a no brainer but now they’ve changed the game with the addition of water resistance for under $200. Hmmm….
    ...
    by Published on 08-24-2015 07:10 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices,
    3. Rumors
    Article Preview



    So there was quite a bit of news for Android fans over the weekend. Let's get right to it!

    What we're looking at here is apparently the Huawei Nexus (codenamed "Angler"), showing front-firing speakers, a fingerprint scanner and a rather retro-looking camera assembly on the back. It was posted to Google+ early this morning and seems to have originated from the popular Chinese social networking service QQ. It does match up with some earlier CAD renders—except for that camera assembly.

    On the subject of fingerprint scanners... ...
    by Published on 08-24-2015 02:01 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices,
    3. HowardForums,
    4. Contests and Giveaways



    We're giving away an Asus ZenFone 2! Before entering please check out our review.

    To enter you can leave a comment on this post, like us on Facebook and like the link to this post that appears on our Facebook page, or follow us on Twitter @howardforums and tweet a link to this post with #HoFoAndroidGiveaway. Any one will give you an entry, two or all three will give you that many chances to win. Bonus: if you are a HowardForums Premium Member you will automatically get an extra entry (for it to count you must enter in at least one of the aforementioned ways)! If you are not currently a Premium Member you can sign up or renew here.

    Contest Rules and Terms: Contest is open to U.S. and Canada users who do not reside in Quebec. If a Canadian wins they must answer the skill testing question: What tasty treat is Android M named after? U.S. winner will be responsible for all taxes and customs. Carrier compatibility not guaranteed. Odds of winning depend on number of entries received. Only one entry per method described above allowed. Contest not open to HowardForums staff and their families. Rules and Terms and contest details can be modified at our discretion at any time and without prior notification.

    Contest ends on Monday September 7th at 9:00 PM Pacific and the winner will be chosen randomly afterward. If the winner does not respond to us within 24 hours of being contacted, a new winner will be chosen.

    Good luck!
    by Published on 08-21-2015 07:20 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices,
    3. Commentary and Analysis
    Article Preview



    Mission accomplished.

    When it comes to our smartphones, the most personal of personal computers, everyone has their favourite feature. And for the enthusiasts among us I suspect that every user also has their own personal line in the sand, that one thing they've come to depend on and refuse to do without.

    For me it's NFC.

    It might be because I'm still holding on to the foolish notion that Canada will somehow get its mobile payments act together, having seen contactless payments work so seamlessly in Hong Kong and Japan. But even without a working Google Wallet app I still find NFC to be extremely useful. Thanks to Android Beam I can share an app, photo or web page with almost any other Android user just by tapping our phones together. Even in 2015 it still feels like the stuff of science fiction, and its one of those increasingly rare tricks that the iPhone can't do.

    Up until a few weeks ago I was hunkering down for a long wait on a pair of OnePlus 2 invites—until I heard that NFC would not be included. On my OnePlus One I had made do for the better part of a year without wireless charging or an OIS camera. But no NFC? No deal. ...
    by Published on 08-20-2015 07:30 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices,
    3. How-To
    Article Preview



    This week at the Intel Developer Forum in Shenzhen, China, Fossil was on hand to very briefly tease an Android Wear-powered watch. Apparently only LG can make round smartwatches—either that, or the Moto 360's signature "flat tire" has become an acceptable design aesthetic.

    Anyway, having another traditional watchmaker on board as a Wear OEM is a big break for Google and an important step towards owning the wearables market, along with all the biometric data that comes with.

    Serious question, though: Does Android Wear have a killer app yet? That is, beyond Google Now? ...
    by Published on 08-19-2015 07:15 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices,
    3. Rumors
    Article Preview



    It's a BlackBerry, but it runs Android. It has a physical qwerty keypad, but Lollipop navigation buttons as well. It's the BlackBerry Venice Slider, and if rumours are to be believed, it's coming to your carrier before Christmas.

    Famous phone leaker Evan Blass—who, for the record, was bang-on about Samsung's fall device launch—tweeted last night that the Venice would be available on all four US carriers come November. I can't imagine any reason why it wouldn't be available in Canada as well. Specs for the device are rumoured to be as follows:

    5.4 inch 2K display
    18 MP OIS rear camera (5 MP on the front)
    1.8 GHz Snapdragon 808 processor with 3 GB RAM
    Android Lollipop ...
    by Published on 08-18-2015 07:20 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices,
    3. Commentary and Analysis
    Article Preview



    Yup, I got to try out Samsung's keyboard case at the briefing Howard brought me along to yesterday, the one that will instantly transform your 2015 Galaxy Note 5 into a 2005 Nokia E61. I have to admit that it's a clever (if hideously ugly) accessory—when not in use it snaps onto the other side of a companion backplate behind the phone—but it's something I would expect to find at Pacific Mall more than from the biggest smartphone manufacturer on the planet.

    Samsung is clearly not holding back in the goofy accessories department. But when it comes to devices it's an entirely different story. Especially for the Canadian market. ...
    by Published on 08-17-2015 07:05 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices,
    3. Exclusives
    Article Preview



    Let's try this again.

    This afternoon Howard has invited me along to an appointment with his contacts from Samsung Canada, no doubt to show off the new Galaxy Note 5 and Galaxy S6 edge+. If you ever wanted to grab the ear of the Canadian electronics arm of this multinational conglomerate, this might be a rare opportunity to do just that.

    The usual caveats apply here. The last Samsung event I attended was a fairly structured affair, where everyone was sat in front of a Galaxy Tab to follow along with a very long and very dry PowerPoint presentation before actually getting to see what we were there to see. I don't know if they'll be willing to submit to your questions, but I'll ask them nonetheless. ...
    by Published on 08-14-2015 07:20 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices
    Article Preview



    Shut up.

    Yes, I'm the guy who wrote all about how Nexus jumped the shark last winter with this beast of a phone at a no-less beastly price—an outright affront to what users of the Nexus 4 and 5 had come to expect from Google's developer-friendly phone. And yesterday UPS dropped a 64 GB one off at my door.

    I told you, shut up.

    I've been in the market for a hardware upgrade, and it has become increasingly clear to me that the OnePlus 2 is not the upgrade I want (nor the company I want to deal with, for that matter). That leaves this Android modder and infrequent world traveller with little choice other than Nexus. But wait, aren't there a pair of new Nexuses coming out in just a few months?

    For the last time, shut up! ...
    by Published on 08-13-2015 07:49 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices,
    3. Commentary and Analysis
    Article Preview



    It's Note 5 reveal day! Woo?

    I have to say that I was a bit surprised at the apparent lack of interest to the leaked press images and specs for Samsung's Galaxy Note 5 (and S6 Edge Plus). Were I a Note user myself I suppose I'd be none too pleased at the prospect of a non-removable battery. Howard seems to be even more dismissive of the Note line; according to him a phablet-sized iPhone has made the Note altogether irrelevant.

    But I can still vividly remember being in Hong Kong (in 2012, I think) and seeing Notes and Note 2s everywhere—the super-sized phone was easy to spot in the hands of kids, moms, dads, grandparents... Everyone seemed to have one. I suspect that for a lot of users Samsung is Android, and for a good couple of years there the Galaxy Note was king among Android phones, if only for its size.

    Truth is, I've always admired the Note series—I've just never used one as my daily driver. Here's why. ...
    by Published on 08-11-2015 10:18 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices,
    3. Carriers
    Article Preview



    One minor revelation from yesterday's pow-wow that Howard and I had with Motorola Canada is still sticking with me: the 3rd iteration of the cheap and cheerful Moto G will only be available from carriers here.

    As a champion of unlocked phones, that makes me sad.

    I can only guess that selling phones to carriers in this country is a better business than offering them SIM-free through other channels like Staples or Ingram Micro. Either that, or nobody's buying the SIM-free versions. And I suspect it's the latter. ...
    by Published on 08-10-2015 06:50 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices,
    3. Exclusives
    Article Preview



    You've heard of an AMA? Think of this as an AUAMA.

    Howard has invited me along to a Motorola event happening in downtown Toronto later this morning, which will almost certainly be about the new Moto G and Moto X Play. Remember, the Moto X Pure/Style edition is not coming to this country, probably because we're not a big enough market for Moto Maker.

    The last Moto event I attended—for the 2nd-gen X and Moto 360 smartwatch—was in a hotel suite where we got some face time with actual execs from the company. Assuming today goes down the same way, it should be a good way for you to get your questions answered, straight from the source.

    I'll post any findings as a reply here. The event is scheduled for 11:30 am, so get your questions in quick! ...
    by Published on 08-07-2015 06:55 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices,
    3. How-To
    Article Preview



    What a mess.

    Don't get me wrong, I'm absolutely loving my new Pebble Time—it's the black one on the left. I maintain that Pebble has the most useful smartwatch OS available today, and the addition of their new Timeline UI only makes it better.

    No, my problem is with Kickstarter, and the fact that I live in Canada. And also me leaving any shred of common sense behind in the quest to be an early adopter. It's a long and sordid tale, so grab a cup of coffee and make yourself comfortable before reading on. ...
    by Published on 08-06-2015 07:28 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices,
    3. Commentary and Analysis,
    4. Rumors
    Article Preview



    What we're looking at here is the back of a prototype Nexus 6, clearly showing an onboard fingerprint sensor below the camera. The sensor was scrapped before launch, perhaps because it would have added to the already-outrageous retail price. But I digress...

    Cut to present day, where there is mounting evidence that fingerprint scanning will indeed be a thing for Nexus in 2015. Other devices already have it—notably the Samsung Galaxy S6—but if Google is indeed adding it to their Nexus line it most likely means wider support for biometric security within Google apps.

    Is this a good or bad thing? I'm honestly not sure. ...
    by Published on 07-31-2015 07:26 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices,
    3. Commentary and Analysis
    Article Preview



    So upstart smartphone-maker OnePlus has just shunned Android Police, one of if not the most trusted Android blogs worldwide.

    Around 8pm Eastern Time last night their editorial team got a direct call from the company, informing them that they would have no access to review units, no invites for giveaways and no further communication. It's most likely the result of an angry rant posted on AP earlier that afternoon, calling out OnePlus's marketing as lies.

    All the sources will be posted below. But if you'll indulge me, I'll highlight what I think are the important bits first. ...
    by Published on 07-30-2015 10:05 PM
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices,
    3. Reviews and Hands-on
    Article Preview


    Without a doubt, one of 2013’s most significant phones was the original Moto G. It combined decent specs with an affordable price tag or to put it more bluntly. It was one of the first phones that didn’t suck that was also easy on the wallet.

    However, it’s follow-up the 2014, wasn’t quite the cult classic that its predecessor was. While the specs were greatly improved, Motorola also tried to move the price up-market. That plus the fact that fact that the, “decent yet affordable” segment of the market was starting to become crowded made life difficult for it.

    While people still talk about the original Moto G, the 2014 got lost in the mix pretty quickly so Motorola has its work cut out for the 2015 Moto G.
    ...
    by Published on 07-29-2015 08:55 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices
    Article Preview



    The LTE Bands. All of them, or as many as I can get. That's my minimum requirement for every phone I buy from here on out.

    This Canadian was still with WIND Mobile when he first experienced LTE on a rented mobile hotspot in Japan; after that, nothing less would do. But there was a problem: the Nexus 4 that would go on sale at the end of that year had no LTE support—at least not officially. The Nexus 5 that I purchased in late 2014 came with an LTE radio, but only for the Americas; to this day I've yet to experience LTE data in Hong Kong, my other favourite Asian tech utopia.

    Fortunately our pair of OnePlus Ones support both European and Asian bands of LTE, so using the UK's Everything Everywhere network in transit to our summer holiday was just like using our phones at home. Which is exactly the way it should be. ...
    Page 1 of 48 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 ... LastLast