• Devices

    by Published on 09-04-2014 11:38 AM
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    When Samsung introduced the first Galaxy Note, (letís conveniently forget about the Dell Streak 5) it spawn a new class of device; the Phablet. What is a phablet? Phone + Tablet. Back then, it was phone that had screen that was bigger than 5Ē and to a lesser degree, a phone that doesnít fit in your back pocket. However, in the 3 years since we started talking about phablets, regular smartphones have been creeping up in size to the point now that there are many devices with 5Ē or bigger screens which we donít really think of as phablets. Take for example the Blu Studio 5.0C HD or the ZTE Grand X (review coming soon). Both have 5Ē displays, and are quite inexpensive at around $150. people donít usually consider those to be phablets.

    So these days, what makes a phone a phablet? Since many phones are now bigger than 5Ē and many donít even try to fit in a back pocket, Iíd say a Phablet is anything with a screen bigger than 5.5Ē. 0.5Ē doesnít sound like a lot but it actually makes a big difference.

    Now we have some mild phablets like the Galaxy Note II which has a 5.5Ē screen. Then we have big phablets like the Huawei Ascend Mate 2 4G which Iím checking out today with is rocking a 6.1Ē display.
    ...
    by Published on 09-03-2014 12:08 PM
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    I just finished watching a YouTube livestream of Samsung's big show at IFA. We all expected a new iteration of the company's flagship phablet, and weren't disappointed. But there were some unexpected product announcements too. You can see everything for yourself at Samsung's official media site for the event.

    I'm not gonna lie, this is basically a copy-paste job from Samsung press releases, reformatted and with the marketing-speak stripped out so that you can more easily read it all in one place. There's a lot to cover, so let's get to it! ...
    by Published on 08-30-2014 12:46 PM
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    These days, pretty much all smartphones come with multiple processing cores. I canít remember the last phone I tried that had less than 2 cores. Correct me if Iím wrong but all phones sold in North America had 4 cores or less, that is till now. The Alcatel OneTouch Idol X+ is now available with a whopping 8 processor cores which you can all use simultaneously. Yes, EIGHT cores.

    If you donít know what that means, let me explain that to from a marketing perspective; 8 cores is double the number of cores in a 4 core and four times as many as a 2 cores.

    Itís the follow-up to the Alcatel OneTouch Idol X which I checked out a couple of months ago. The X+ is available from Koodo for $300 while its $350 on TELUS.

    The way I see it, at $300 the Idol X+ has 1 main competitor the Samsung Galaxy Note II - admittedly because itís also $300 outright. I donít recommend buying the X+ at $350.

    One other interesting point about the X+ is that it comes with a 2 year warranty which is not common in this industry.
    ...
    by Published on 08-30-2014 12:06 AM
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    Please join us in congratulating our OnePlus One giveaway winner: ...
    by Published on 08-27-2014 09:04 AM
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    Here is the Sony Xperia T3; Sonyís svelte new phone with a large 5.3Ē screen thatís only 7mm thick. Itís available from Bell for $49.95 on a 2 year ďLiteĒ plan, $399.95 outright or $449 unlocked from Sony. For your money you get a large 5.3Ē screen, a 7Ē thin profile, quad-core 1.4Ghz Snapdragon processor, 1GB of RAM, an 8MP camera, 2500mAh battery and the latest version of Android.

    Is that enough for your money? Letís check it out: ...
    by Published on 08-26-2014 07:54 AM
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    I'm a big fan of OpenSignal. Beyond giving me direction on where to take my summer vacation, they've got an incredibly useful website which will quickly and easily let you know which carrier has the most towers and strongest signal where you live.

    The team recently published their annual and unfortunately-titled Android Fragmentation Report. Using the "f" word is really the only bad thing about itóApple fanboy sites like The Next Web are shamelessly spinning this as a shortcoming of the Android ecosystem, and I don't necessarily think that's the case. Ultimately it's just a data set, beautifully visualized to provide a bit of insight into the world's most popular OS.

    Let's have a closer look. ...
    by Published on 08-22-2014 10:55 AM
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    Itís been a while since Iíve reviewed a Windows Phone. The last one I managed to get my hands on was the Lumia 1020 - a phone with a fantastic albeit deeply flawed camera.

    Anyways, since I last tried Windows Phone, the operating system has been updated to 8.1 but it isnít available on every phone yet - my Lumia 920 is still getting by with an older version though itís possible to update it using the 8.1 developer preview..

    Which brings me to the Nokia Lumia 635 that Iím checking out today. Itís my first taste of Windows Phone 8.1 and at $149 or $199, itís Canadaís most affordable LTE Smartphone.
    ...
    by Published on 08-22-2014 10:22 AM
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    2. Devices,
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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 05:40 PM
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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 09:35 AM
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    4. Commentary and Analysis,
    5. Exclusives,
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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 09:35 AM
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    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 10:08 AM
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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 03:44 PM
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    2. Devices,
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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 09:49 AM
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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 09:30 AM
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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 08-06-2014 12:54 AM
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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 10:02 AM
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    2. Devices,
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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 09:28 AM
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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 10:38 PM
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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 10:37 PM
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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.
    ...
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