• Devices

    by Published on 11-08-2013 09:05 AM
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    A lovely double date was had last night with Howard and his Mrs. An added bonus was that I got to take home a brand-new black 16GB Nexus 5 to try out.

    I've only had it in my hands since dinnertime last night, but so far it's looking like a worthy upgrade from the Nexus 4. Here is a brain-dump of my first impressions about the device...

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    by Published on 11-07-2013 12:04 PM
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    Ray's been playing with the Z30 and just finished up his video review. Check it out:



    The Z30 we're playing with is from TELUS. I've used it a little. While the Z30's screen doesn't have any more resolution than the Z10 the extra size makes a big difference. The keyboard is easier to use and it's more pleasant to look at.

    Performance is snappy but what really stands out are the speakers. They sound almost as good as the HTC One's but what really sets the Z30 apart is that they're much louder than One's. They're the loudest speakers I have ever heard on a phone.

    Battery life also seems pretty strong. Battery life on the Z10 was a weak spot so I'm glad Blackberry fixed this on the Z30.

    The camera is similar to what you get on the Z10/Q10 - it's not terrible but it's not particularly awesome either. Then again, you don't buy a Blackberry because you want an awesome camera. ...
    by Published on 11-07-2013 09:29 AM
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    With its 6.44Ē display the Sony Xperia Z Ultra is a pretty unique device. On one hand it competes with other large phablets like the 6.3Ē Samsung Mega and 6.1Ē Huawei Mega. On the other hand, under the hood the Ultra packs much more of a whallop compared to the Mega and Mate which are mid-range phones. Itís the only high-end phone with a 6Ē+ display right now.

    As such, it doesnít really have any competitors. Sure, the Samsung Mega and Huawei Mate have similarly sized screens but they sport more modest specs and are theyíre substantially cheaper.

    The Samsung Galaxy Note 3 has similar guts but it only has a 5.7Ē display which sounds big but when you have them side-by-side, the Ultra is substantially larger. Theyíre not really competitors either.

    So, sorry, Iím not going to compare the Ultra with anything though I will say, if you want an enormous phone then it doesnít get any bigger than the Ultra.

    If you want the biggest possible screen with the highest specs and water resistance this is your only ticket. ...
    by Published on 11-04-2013 08:55 PM
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    Letís face it, the real reason I tested this phone was to try out the camera. The lure of a 41-megapixel camera was just too great. Now I canít speak for most people who might get the Lumia 1020, but I strongly suspect that the camera will be at the top of their list of reasons for buying it. For that reason the bulk of this review will be devoted to the camera, though I do touch on most of the other hallmarks of my phone reviews.
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    by Published on 11-01-2013 08:55 AM
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    I myself was out and about when the LG Nexus 5 finally showed up on the Google Play Store yesterday, and by the time I got to a proper computer there were no more to be had. You'll have to believe me when I say that I only really checked out of curiosity, and I'm not planning on ordering my Nexus 5 just yet.

    But this Nexus 4 owner is most definitely getting one. I've owned every Nexus device except the Nexus 10 tablet. I don't take hardware subsidies on phones, and an annual handset upgrade/hand-me-down cycle suits both me and my girlfriend very well.

    If you're considering the Nexus 5 there are some compelling reasons to grab one as soon as you can, but also some benefits to waiting a bit.

    It's win-win either way, really.

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    by Published on 10-29-2013 10:31 AM
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    Just got an interesting email from Juniper Research with some Q3 2013 smartphone shipment numbers. There were a total of over 250 million smartphones shipped which is up almost 49% from Q3 2012 and up 10% from Q2 2013.

    No surprise are the top 2 players: Samsung shipped 85 million smartphones for a 34% market share. Apple sold 33.8 million -14%.

    Is 14% marketshare going to be enough for Apple to maintain their ecosystem in the long term?

    The surprise is that Nokia shipped 8.8 million Windows phones and 6 million Asha Smartphones for a market share of just under 6%. Breaking that down, Nokia's Windows phones accounted for 3.5% marketshare.

    8.8 million is a lot of phones - Nokia is definitely building some momentum with Windows Phone but they still have a long way to go before they can challenge iOS for number 2.

    LG clocked in at 12 million smartphones or 4.8% marketshare.

    Actually, Huawei, ZTE, and LG shipped a combined 37 million phones for a marketshare of just under 15%.

    Blackberry managed 3.7 million phones for a marketshare of 1.5%. Ouch. ...
    by Published on 10-29-2013 08:49 AM
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    The worst thing that I can say about Oppo is that they didn't pick me to participate in their N1 Pioneer program. But they have shown excellent judgment in including Mr. Marques Brownlee, so we're cool.

    Some of you may know this Chinese company for its DVD players. But 2013 has seen a lot of buzz about their Android smartphones as well. In that department here's what Oppo currently has on offer:

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    by Published on 10-22-2013 09:12 PM
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    In Canada, earlier this year most of us said goodbye to 3 year contracts and hello to 2 year ones. This has had an interesting effect on how we buy phones and how carriers subsidize them. Previously, when 3 year contracts were the norm, carriers were willing to subsidize phones more heavily. This meant most phones sold where either expensive top-of-the-line models or cheap entry level ones.

    However now that weíve bid adios to 3 year contracts an interesting thing has happened. Carriers now have two tiers of 2 year contracts. In order to get carriers to subsidize phones like they used to youíll now need to spend ore per month. If you want a more affordable plan you can still get a phone but it wonít have all the bells and whistles unless youíre willing to spend a lot more on the phone.

    So now thereís a demand for more affordable smartphones which are better than what youíd usually get on prepaid. Itís the rise of the mid-range phone.

    For $149 you can get the cappuccino with 4 shots of foam Samsung Galaxy S4, but it will cost you each month. If you donít want to spend so much per month youíll have to settle for a cup of Tim Hortons coffee GS4 Mini which also costs $149. So whatís the difference between the 2? ...
    by Published on 10-16-2013 09:00 AM
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    Android modders who frequent the XDA Developer Forums seem to fall into three main categories when it comes to devices. There are those who simply want to extend the life of the device they already have. Others, like me, remain faithful to the Nexus line of phones and tablets, enjoying as a result the widest selection of compatible custom firmware. And then there are those who won't settle for anything but the best. They will choose a device on its own merit, and overcome any and all manufacturer restrictions to make it their own.

    The Galaxy Note 3 is one such device.

    Some very clever minds have been hard at work on Samsung's flagship phablet, improving and/or fixing it depending on your point of view. Obtaining root was just the beginning; the video below, from XDA's official YouTube channel, highlights three additional mods:

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    by Published on 10-05-2013 12:56 PM
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    When you look at the Smartphone market, right now itís dominated by Samsung and Apple. Things are going great for them but if you were to ask them what competitor they fear most Iíd bet you their answer would Huawei. Not HTC, LG or Sony.

    I mean eventually Smartphones will reach a point where companies canít keep charging up to $800 a phone. If that ever happens there will be a big race to the bottom to see who can make the best, cheapest phone. If that happens many people figure Huawei will be in a good position.

    While they donít compete at the very top of the market, many people donít realize but Huawei actually makes really good affordable Smartphones. The Y300 I tried a while back isnít going to win ďPhone of the YearĒ but for what it costs itís an amazing deal.

    Now we have the Huawei Ascend Mate. Itís a phone with a 6.1Ē phone that only costs - wait for it - $400 off contract. At $400, itís not going to have going to have specs like the LG G2/Galaxy Note 3/Sony Z1 but for what it costs you get a get a pretty good deal.

    With a 6.1Ē the Mate should be awesome at media consumption. If youíre sitting on the train, there arenít many phones which are better than the Mate for watching and streaming videos - Right? Letís check it out:

    Huawei has found a pretty good niche for the Note. At $400 off-contract, or $99 on a 2 year with the $40 a month, plan it doesnít really have any competitors. There arenít that many phones with huge 6Ē+ screens on the market and the ones that come close cost significantly more. About the only one that comes to mind is the Samsung Galaxy Mega and maybe a used Note 2.

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    by Published on 10-05-2013 11:32 AM
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    Many people don't know that LG stands for "Lucky Goldstar". When Panasonic and Sony were all the buzz in consumer electronics, Goldstar just couldn't compete. That classic Japan vs Korea battle also applied to Honda vs Hyundai or Toyota vs Daewoo. It's a very different landscape right now and the Kimchi is everywhere doing very well. It's amazing what a rebranding strategy can do: Howard, I think it's time to kick it up, Gangnam style.

    As with all my reviews, here's the bottom line for those with ADHDhhddhhdhddh - The LG G2 is not worth the $200 (on-contract) pricetag. I'd still get the Nexus 4 at the current rock-bottom price or get all the frilly bells and whistles of the Samsung Galaxy S4. The LG G2 is clearly a precursor to the G3 (or whatever nomenclature they choose to avoid colliding with Samsung) and you'll be swimming in regret throughout that 2yr contract.
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    by Published on 10-03-2013 05:17 PM
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    Today I had a chance to play with both the Xperiz Z1 and Ultra Z.



    You can think of the Xperia Z1 as being similar in size to the Galaxy S4. It has a 5", 1920x1080 display, with 2GB of RAM and 16GB of storage - it one ups the GS4 with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 quad-core SoC, 20.7 megapixel camera, support for more LTE bands plus it's a Cat 4 device. You also get a sexy aluminum frame and a glass front and back. Best of all, you get all that stuff in a device that's water and dust resistant.



    Speaking of water resistance the Z1 is now more water resistant than it's predecessor the Z. At the same time, they've made it easier to use because now there's now no cover over the headphone jack. I am a little annoyed that they didn't make the microUSB jack water resistant too. ...
    by Published on 10-03-2013 09:00 AM
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    Howard has been gracious enough to sublet his Galaxy Note 3 for a couple of days before it's due back at Samsung Canada. There are already a lot of really good reviews out there, including his; I've decided to share my thoughts on the Note 3 with a series of annotated screen grabs using the S-Pen.

    I know -- genius, right?

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    by Published on 10-02-2013 09:15 AM
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    Before anything else you need to know that the ZTE Open, the first widely-available phone running Mozilla's Firefox OS, is a cheap piece of crap. That's not necessarily a bad thing.

    Any mobile operating system that's not called Android or iOS is struggling right now, and anything that's not BlackBerry or Windows Phone isn't even on most users' radar. But there are other would-be contenders out there, and Firefox OS, with its promise to deliver the open web to mobile devices, is at the very least a compelling idea.

    Canonical and Mark Shuttleworth went big in promoting Ubuntu as a smartphone OS. Their campaign to raise $32 million USD for a limited run of the Ubuntu Edge very famously failed over the summer. Mozilla and ZTE have an altogether different scheme for Firefox OS; for just $79.99 USD anyone in North America or the UK can purchase an unlocked ZTE Open via eBay.

    That's how I got mine. I didn't get in on the first batch as they sold out in a single weekend. The second run added Canada as a shipping option, with extra fees. My grand total was $100.38 CAD.

    So what to expect from an $80 phone? As you can imagine, not much.

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    by Published on 10-01-2013 09:30 AM
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    Iíll admit, when the Note II came out I wondered if we hit a point where phones would keep getting better but at a slower pace. While the Galaxy S4 was a good phone when it was released it wasnít a huge jump forward from the Note 2. However, when Samsung unveiled the Note 3, it began to look like they were about to release a monster on the market. Letís check it out.

    If you want a second opinion on the Note 3 please check out our other review of the Note 3 here.
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    by Published on 10-01-2013 09:15 AM
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    Yesterday saw a big leak of specs for the forthcoming Nexus 5. Each new tidbit seems to reaffirm that the next Nexus will follow in the footsteps of the 4 and 7 rather than the original Nexus One -- it won't be a premium device, per se, but will instead deliver impressive technology at an equally impressive price.

    If this is indeed the case then specs-wise then the LG G2 will easily trump the new Nexus that it's supposedly based on -- a bigger screen, better camera, bigger battery... You get the idea. Today I'll add some additional thoughts into the mix, which might make you reconsider the LG over the Nexus as your next device. Or not.

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    by Published on 09-28-2013 09:46 PM
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    Apple recently released their new flagship phone, the iPhone 5s. However, unlike previous years where they took the old iPhone and discounted it, theyíve replaced the old 5 with a new model - the 5c.

    Apple isnít saying why they choose the letter ďCĒ, but the first things that come to my head are Cheap, Colour and Chinese. Apparently Apple is really targeting China with the release of their new iPhones. As for cheap, the 5c is only $100 cheaper than the top-of-the-line 5s. So, while itís cheaper, itís still priced like an iPhone. Probably the best guess is that the ďCĒ stands for colour. Yup, you can get the 5c is white, blue, yellow, green and pink.

    Itís funny but coloured phones arenít that common in the marketplace and when there are different colours, theyíre usually just white and black with maybe some other colours being made available months after launch. With the 5c you can get it in all 5 colours from the very beginning.

    Outside of the 5s and the 5, people might cross-shop the 5c with the Samsung Galaxy S4, HTC One which cost similar money or are slightly cheaper on-contract.
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    by Published on 09-26-2013 08:45 AM
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    Ok, technically the photos below were taken with the LG G2 -- but we all know that the same optics will almost certainly make their way into this year's Nexus phone, right? So really the title of this post is only a bit misleading, RIGHT?

    Right, so yesterday I took Howard's Rogers-branded G2 with me on a stroll through the back alleys of downtown Toronto, to see what the camera could do. I purposefully looked for challenging lighting conditions -- saturated colours, bright sunlight and dark shadows, all in the same shot.

    There's also a short video at the end, captured in 1920 x 1080 HD at 60 fps.

    It's all very subjective, and not meant to be a camera test, just some samples of hopefully interesting subject matter to give you an idea of what to expect from the G2's optics.

    Note that the photos are embedded from my Flickr account so that you can view them in their native resolution. If you want you can also compare them to similar shots taken with my Galaxy Nexus and Nexus 4.

    So without further ado, please enjoy these exclusive photos taken with the Nexus 5.

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    by Published on 09-25-2013 09:48 AM
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    If you follow my reviews you'll notice I routinely complain about Super AMOLED displays and how they're not very good outside. Last year's Galaxy S III was very difficult to see, the Note II was a step in the right direction but was still not good enough. The Galaxy S4 was a big leap forward but it was still a step behind LCD.

    After I got my Note III the first thing I did was try it outside. What do you think?
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