• Devices

    by Published on 08-22-2014 09:22 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices,
    3. Commentary and Analysis
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    This humble post has been gestating in my feeble brain since I attended an Alcatel event with Howard, shortly before my summer break. I originally set out today to write about "peak Samsung", about how the world's number one manufacturer of smartphones has found itself in a position where it has nowhere to go but down. But that's not the story, at least not for me. Apple ceded its smartphone bragging rights to Samsung in late 2011 but seems to be doing fine nonetheless; likewise, it's not like Samsung is going to go bankrupt anytime soon.

    The story as I see it is the ascendency of the Chinese smartphone industry. Chinese manufacturing is, of course, nothing newówe all know that American, Korean and Taiwanese brands have had their devices assembled in China for years. But suddenly it's seems like we're at a tipping point where Chinese brands are cool.

    How did we get here, anyway? ...
    by Published on 08-20-2014 04:40 PM
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices,
    3. Reviews and Hands-on
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    Today, Iím reviewing the Mazda3. Why a Mazda3 you ask? Why are you checking out a car? The answer is simple, Iíll review anything if I see it as an accessory for my phone. Until recently, cars and phones were very separate pieces of technology. You might be able to use your car to make calls and maybe play music from your iPod but other then that, thereís been very little integration between the two.

    That is until now. While weíre still in the initial stages of bringing the two together, itís still worth checking out where weíre at right now. Mazda let me borrow a 3 with their solution called Mazda Connect which is what Iím checking out here: ...
    by Published on 08-20-2014 08:35 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices,
    3. Tips,
    4. Commentary and Analysis,
    5. Exclusives,
    6. Carriers
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    What's it like using a smartphone in the county with the world's fastest LTE networks? Despite having hardware with incompatible bands of LTE, there were no complaints from my girlfriend and I during our vacation in Australia these past two weeks.

    Back in the spring I wrote about an OpenSignal report naming Australia as the country with the fastest LTE speeds overall, an average of 24.5 Mbps for download. Maybe that doesn't sound so fast, but remember that it's an average of four carriers. Based on price (and convenience) we went with two prepaid SIMs from the country's number two carrier in terms of speed. Here's how we got on. ...
    by Published on 08-18-2014 08:35 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices,
    3. Tips,
    4. Reviews and Hands-on,
    5. Apps
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    ... Aaaand I'm back. Did you miss me? Don't answer that.

    As I battle with jet lag over the next few days I'm making good on my promise to share some mobile-related insights from my two-week vacation in Australia. Today it's Android Wear. I got in on the first run of the LG G Watch back in July with this trip in mind; here's how I got on with it while I was away. ...
    by Published on 08-14-2014 09:08 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices,
    3. Contests and Giveaways
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    Who needs an invite? We're giving away a 64GB OnePlus One! If you don't know what the OnePlus One is make sure you check out my review.

    To enter you can leave a comment on this post, like us on Facebook and like the link this post that appears on our Facebook page, or follow us on Twitter @howardforums and tweet a link to this post with #HoFoOnePlusOne

    Any one will give you an entry, two or all three will give you that many chances to win.

    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 mobile OS does the OnePlus One run on? 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 Friday August 29th at 9:00 PM Pacific and the winner will be chosen randomly within three days afterward. If the winner does not respond to us within 24 hours of being contacted, a new winner will be chosen. ...
    by Published on 08-12-2014 02:44 PM
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices,
    3. Commentary and Analysis,
    4. Reviews and Hands-on
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    Hereís the Alcatel OneTouch Idol 2 S. Yes, the name of this phone weighs in at an impressive 9 syllables which is more than the Samsung Galaxy S 5 which has a measly 7.

    Seriously though, the Idol 2 S has a 1280x720 display with a quad-core Snapdragon 400 processor, 1GB of RAM and LTE. Yup, itís a Motorola Moto G competitor.

    However, at $299.99 off contract as a Bell exclusive, the 2 S actually costs $50 more than the Moto G LTE on Rogers. So what do you get for your extra $50?
    ...
    by Published on 08-11-2014 08:49 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices,
    3. HowardForums,
    4. Contests and Giveaways
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    We're giving away an invite to purchase a 64GB OnePlus One!

    We'll be choosing a winner randomly on Tuesday August 12 around 8AM EST.

    If you're the winner, you'll only have one day to purchase the OnePlus One as the invite expires then. Please don't enter if you don't intend to buy it.

    The OnePlus One costs $299 USD for the 16GB or $349 for the 64GB. Note that you also have to pay for shipping and possibly import taxes and brokerage fees. If you're in Canada that means after currency conversion the 64GB version will cost you around $480.

    To enter just reply to this thread. If you do enter, MAKE SURE YOU CHECK YOUR FORUM PM AND OR EMAIL after we pick a winner. You snooze, you lose!

    Oh and in case you don't win the invite, we'll be giving away a OnePlus One later this month! ...
    by Published on 08-08-2014 08:30 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices,
    3. Reviews and Hands-on
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    Hereís my review of the Blu Studio 5.0C HD. Iím re-using the intro from my hands-on article of this phone I posted a few days ago so if youíve read that, just skip to the last paragraph of the intro and start reading.

    Lately, Iíve been trying to get my hands on as many affordable phones. With entry level handsets, itís always interesting to see how many features manufacturers can cram in without over-inflating the bottom line. After all, I keep saying this but itís worth repeating: The amount of money you have to spend on a phone that doesnít suck keeps falling.

    As this happens it will transform the industry. Companies that are too reliant on selling high-end phones but donít have enough Brand equity will fall to the side (Iím thinking Sony and HTC) while those who understand how to thrive in a low margin environment (those who know how to squeeze water out of the proverbial rock) will thrive.

    Motorola and their relatively powerful brand have been making splashes on the wallet friendly end of the market with their Moto G and E. Other powerful players in this space in North America include ZTE, Huawei and Alcatel which are all seeing their market share grow at Samsung and their high-end Galaxy lineís expense.

    Then there are other players who are posed to take advantage of the shifting market like BLU. Iíll be honest, Iíve never heard of Blu until someone mentioned them in the comments of one of my phone reviews. I decided to check them out and asked them to send me something cheap and cheerful to try.

    The 5.0C was described to me as being a Moto G killer. I noticed Bell is also bringing the ZTE Grand X which is another phone that competes directly with the 5.0C.
    ...
    by Published on 08-05-2014 11:54 PM
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    2. Devices,
    3. Reviews and Hands-on
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    Lately Iíve been trying to get my hands on as many affordable phones. With entry level handsets, itís always interesting to see how many features manufacturers can cram in without over-inflating the bottom line. After all, I keep saying this but itís worth repeating: The amount of money you have to spend on a phone that doesnít suck keeps falling.

    As this happens it will transform the industry. Companies that are too reliant on selling high-end phones but donít have enough Brand equity will fall to the side (Iím thinking Sony and HTC) while those who understand how to thrive in a low margin environment (those who know how to squeeze water out of the proverbial rock) will thrive.

    Motorola and their relatively powerful brand have been making splashes on the wallet friendly end of the market with their Moto G and E. Other powerful players in this space in North America include ZTE, Huawei and Alcatel which are all seeing their market share grow at Samsung and their high-end Galaxy lineís expense.

    Then there are other players who are posed to take advantage of the shifting market like Blu. Iíll be honest, Iíve never heard of Blu until someone mentioned them in the comments of one of my phone reviews. I decided to check them out and asked them to send me something cheap and cheerful to try.

    They sent me the $149 Studio 5.0C HD and the $119 Studio C Mini which are both available from Amazon. They were described to me as Motorola Moto G and Moto E killers. Letís check them out: ...
    by Published on 08-05-2014 09:02 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices,
    3. Commentary and Analysis,
    4. Reviews and Hands-on
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    The lower-end of the market is probably the most interesting part to watch because as the Smartphone market matures, you donít have to spend as much as you used to, to get a decent phone.

    One of last yearís heros was the Motorola Moto G. The Moto G was and still is a very usable phone for under $200. It came with a bunch of goodies you donít typically find on other sub $200 phones like a 4.5Ē HD display a Gig of RAM and a quad-core processor.

    Hereís Motorolaís follow up to the G, the Motorola Moto E.
    ...
    by Published on 07-31-2014 08:28 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices,
    3. Tips,
    4. Reviews and Hands-on
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    If you were looking for an upstart mobile OS to unseat Android, I can confidently say that this ain't it.

    I loaned my Firefox Flame to Howard last night, perhaps prematurelyóI need to get some parting shots in before I possibly never write about Firefox OS again. It's that bad. It's also a shame, because Mozilla has lots of (I can't believe I'm about to say this) "brand equity" for freedom beards like yours truly. Honestly though, after putting up with Firefox for the past ten days, I'm pretty much over it.

    I've already written about how the Flame lacks the basic PIM features of PDA phones from seven years ago; here are some more reasons why you probably want to avoid it. ...
    by Published on 07-30-2014 09:38 PM
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    2. Devices,
    3. News,
    4. Reviews and Hands-on
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    Just got back from an Alcatel event in Toronto where they announced that the Alcatel OneTouch Idol 2 S is coming to Bell and Virgin Mobile.

    It's a mid-range LTE enabled device that has:

    • 5", 1280x720 IPS display
    • LTE (band 1/2/4/7/17)
    • 1.2Ghz Qualcomm Snapdragon 400
    • 1GB RAM
    • 8GB storage
    • 8/1.3MP cameras with 1080P capture
    • 2150mAh battery
    • MicroSD


    It will launch with Android 4.3 with a 4.4 update within 3 months of launch.

    It will be available in white or slate.
    ...
    by Published on 07-30-2014 09:37 PM
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    2. Devices,
    3. News
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    I just got back from an Alcatel event in Toronto where they announced that the OneTouch Idol X+ is coming to TELUS.

    It has:
    MediaTek MT6592 Octa-core processor with 8 Cortex A7 cores
    2GB RAM
    16GB storage
    5" 1920x1080 display with Gorilla Glass 2
    13/2MP cameras
    HSPA+ (21Mbps)
    2500mAh battery
    2 year warranty.

    It will come in 'Bluish Black' (it looked black to me but maybe you have to take it out in the sun. And will cost around $349 off contract.

    In terms of finish and feel, it's a little bit thicker than the Idol X but the back feels much nicer.
    ...
    by Published on 07-30-2014 09:27 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices,
    3. Commentary and Analysis,
    4. Reviews and Hands-on
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    When it comes to marketing, nothing gets people more interested in a product than telling them they canít buy it.

    Meet the One from OnePlus. It has guts which are similar the Galaxy S5, Xperia Z2, LG G3, HTC One M8 but at $299 it costs half what they cost. Oh, and if you want to buy one, you canít unless you get an invite from OnePlus.

    Now Iím not cool enough to get an invite but Andrew definitely is and was kind enough to lend me his.

    Letís check it out: ...
    by Published on 07-29-2014 02:22 PM
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    2. Devices,
    3. Commentary and Analysis,
    4. Reviews and Hands-on
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    Samsung has always had plenty of Tablets on the market. Itís part of their strategy to have a lot of choices and you know what? It seems to work for them. First came the Galaxy Tab, then the line up bifurcated into the Tab and the Note which then added the Note Pro and now, their newest; the Tab S. Itís very similar to the Tab Pro line but with 3GB of RAM, a fingerprint reader and a Super AMOLED display. It comes in 2 sizes: a 10.5Ē model and the 8.4Ē which weíre looking at today.
    ...
    by Published on 07-29-2014 08:18 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices,
    3. Rumors
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    If rumours reported yesterday turn out to be true then Google's Nexus program is indeed alive and well.

    Back in June Android Police reported on the Volantis, a leaked 8.9 inch QHD tablet from HTC. Now they've found evidence of another, smaller device. An anonymous tip and confirmation from another site seem to suggest that this year's Nexus phone will be a 5.9 inch phablet from Motorola. With a fingerprint sensor. ...
    by Published on 07-28-2014 08:30 AM
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    2. Devices,
    3. Reviews and Hands-on
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    In days of old when Nokia's Symbian was my mobile OS of choice I was all about SyncML, an open standard for the synchronization of calendars, contacts, notes and tasks. Long before "cloud computing" was the annoying buzzword that it is today I was happily syncing my data to my online account at Memotoo. Yes, I had to initiate each sync manually and yes, I had to pay for the service. But Memotoo and SyncML gave this nascent freedom beard safe harbour from the clutches of Google and Microsoft Outlook for many years. I didn't even start using Gmail until I switched to Android in 2010.

    What does any of this have to do with Firefox OS? Hang on, I'm getting to it! ...
    by Published on 07-25-2014 09:45 AM
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    2. Devices,
    3. Reviews and Hands-on
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    If I didn't make it clear in my introductory post earlier this week, the Firefox Flame marks my first-ever experience with a dual-SIM device. I can think of at least two scenarios where this would be useful: When you're travelling you could use a local SIM for data and not miss any important calls or texts from home. And when you're at home you could use a cheap, prepaid SIM for calls and texts and another for data with a more affordable tablet or hotspot plan.

    That's the theory, anyway; let's see these duelling SIMs in action! ...
    by Published on 07-25-2014 08:11 AM
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    2. Devices,
    3. Commentary and Analysis,
    4. Reviews and Hands-on
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    About 18 months ago, Sony introduced the Xperia Z which debuted a new look for their phones. The Z had a minimalist look with surfaces which were sandwiched by glass, a power button which was located further down the side than normal. It was also dust and water resistant. Hereís the latest evolution in their Z line, the Z2.

    Hardware-wise, itís belongs to the same generation of phones as the Samsung Galaxy S5, HTC One M8, LG G3 and One Plus One and is maybe a ľ of a generation ahead of the Sony Xperia Z1, Galaxy Note 3/LG G2.
    ...
    by Published on 07-22-2014 08:00 AM
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    2. Devices,
    3. News
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    Yesterday Chinese phone-maker Xiaomi launched its latest flagship device, the Mi4. With a machined metal frame and swappable back covers it's definitely a looker, and should prove to be a hit in Xiaomi's home market and beyond. ...
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