• Devices

    by Published on 11-10-2015 08:37 AM
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    The last few ZTE phones that have come across my desk were all outstanding phones for the money. The problem with this is that the people that typically buy those kind of phones have no idea who made it.

    If ZTE wants to move upmarket, they’ll need to replicate their formula of offering more phone for less dough.

    ZTE’s budget line is called “Grand” so here’s their range-topper, the Axon. You can find at Fido for a very un-ZTE $400. I can’t think of any other $400 phones that come with a Snapdragon 801 SoC, 32GB of storage and a metal body. They’re definitely off to a good start; let’s check out the rest of the package. ...
    by Published on 11-10-2015 06:25 AM
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    Time to see what the 12.3 megapixel shooter on the back of the Nexus 5X can do—and for that we head to Graffiti Alley, in the Fashion District of Toronto.

    The 5X is a pleasure to shoot with. Google's camera app fired up quickly and captured shots without pause. The very handy shortcut of double-pressing the power button gets you to the camera even faster, without the security hole—exiting the camera app without unlocking the phone brings you right back to the lockscreen, every time.

    Lighting conditions for this session saw a fair amount of shadow as the early morning sun began its ascent towards noon. Note too that the images here link to Flickr, so you can pore of the details at full resolution if you so desire. ...
    by Published on 11-09-2015 07:50 AM
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    For the next two weeks (I think) I have both the LG Nexus 5X and the Huawei Nexus 6P in my possession. As the means exist to root and theme Android's latest iteration, I'll be making each Nexus my full time device in turn, and reporting my findings here. Remember, I don't do phone reviews—instead, consider this an ongoing journal of observations from a hard-core Nexus user.

    I'm starting with the 5X. I've already indicated a fairly strong bias towards this year's non-phablet Nexus, and want to see if that opinion holds after 5 days of use. I spent about two hours setting it up yesterday; here are my findings thus far. ...
    by Published on 11-06-2015 07:10 AM
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    Here's the Moto 360 v2 that Howard reviewed a few weeks back. I got a chance to play with it too; here it is at its best in its inductive charging stand, the perfect travel clock.

    Wait, I was supposed to put it on my wrist...?

    In the year and a half that I've been testing smartwatches I've come to an important realization: I don't particularly care for them. ...
    by Published on 11-04-2015 01:47 PM
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    I don’t use tablets very often. There are 2 main reasons why; First off, there’s no nice way to put it but when it comes to tablets, I’m a cheapskate. While I’m fine spending top dollar on a flagship phone, I’m hesitant to open my purse strings - sorry man’s bag - when it comes to a tablet.

    Secondly, if I do get a tablet it must have LTE. I’m too lazy to tether off my phone, it has too much of an impact on my battery plus I use way too much data to leave it on anyways. Don’t even get me started as to how many days it takes me to realize I forgot to turn it off. However, LTE usually commands quite a price premium - something my wallet is allergic to.

    My parsimonious purse strings purse strings simply won’t allow me drop a stack on a tablet with LTE, I’d rather having no tablet than have an expensive one with LTE.

    Fortunately, ZTE’s Grand X View might be just the answer for me. It's only a cheque book friendly $240 straight up on Bell. I can dig that price.
    ...
    by Published on 11-04-2015 01:26 PM
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    The LG Nexus 5x signifies two changes in Google’s Nexus strategy. First off, it’s the first Nexus that’s actually smaller than its predecessor while at the same time, the line itself bifurcates into regular and phablet sizes.

    To me, the smaller size tells me that that for now, the market has decided that they're happy with how large phones are in general. The 6p is also smaller than the 6 but it’s still one of the larger phones on the market, which should satisfy people like me who don’t mind something a little bigger.

    The 5x is for people who don’t want to sacrifice portability and reach-ability for the largest size possible. ...
    by Published on 10-30-2015 12:12 PM
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    Last year’s Nexus 6 gained a lot of flack from me and Andrew for its high $749 price tag. Up until then, the previous couple of Nexii phones offered tremendous bang for relatively speaking little bucks. Expensive phones are fine if they’re best-in-class products but while the Nexus 6 is a nice phone, there were better choices available.

    Here’s the follow up, the Nexus 6p from Huawei.

    Compared to the 6, the 6p receives a minor price cut; the 32GB model starts $699. It gains a rear-mounted fingerprint reader but loses the optical image stabilization.

    Is the 6p a worthy contender? Let’s check it out.
    ...
    by Published on 10-30-2015 06:40 AM
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    Last night Howard and I went to a gala dinner event celebrating the launch of a new senior-friendly cell phone, The Jethro SC051 "ARCCI". After a hearty blue plate special the tables were cleared, and just before 5pm Jethro, the CEO of Jethro, took his place at the podium.

    "Are you ready for the next chapter in mobile innovation?" he teased.

    The audience answered back: "Speak louder, we can't hear you!"

    Ok, none of this actually happened. But I did get my mom a new cell phone this week. ...
    by Published on 10-27-2015 07:20 AM
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    I've learned this lesson the hard way from a previous life as an Apple fanboy, being among the very first to purchase new computers and/or laptops only to find them plagued with early production issues—like FireWire ports that didn't work or fried logic boards out of the box.

    This was back in the early 2000s, mind you. But cut to late 2015 and it seems there are a few hiccups with Google's new line of Nexus phones. This isn't meant to scare anyone who's already pulled the trigger on a new 5X or 6P; it's more to comfort those who haven't. ...
    by Published on 10-26-2015 07:22 AM
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    Kudos to YouTuber (and fellow Canadian) Linus Sebastian for applying his knowledge of high-performance PCs to mobile phones. Just don't expect to see a water-cooled smartphone in production anytime soon.

    It started out as a test to prove/disprove claims that the new iPhone outperforms this year's MacBook—which, in a previous video, Linus had found to be thermally throttled. The solution? Open up the CPU by cooling it down with ice water. Could the performance of the iPhone 6s be improved using the same method?

    Actually, no. But... it's an entirely different story with a phone powered by the infamous Snapdragon 810. ...
    by Published on 10-22-2015 07:45 AM
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    Today's post from yours truly is not about the Nexus 6P, despite the fact that I got to play with Howard's loaner from Huawei over lunch yesterday. Today's post is about some other phones that were on the table.

    It was around this time last year that Google announced the Moto-made Nexus 6, a gargantuan phone with a gargantuan price tag—well past the $500 I've traditionally budgeted for my annual purchase of an unlocked phone. This year a 128GB 6P is again right up there at $849 CAD, which begs the question: What can $500 get you nowadays? ...
    by Published on 10-21-2015 09:17 PM
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    Great Smartphone! It's Oct 21st and the Nexus 5x and 6p that I sent for back in 1985 are finally here!

    I was going to write a whole spiel about the 5x and the 6p but I ran out of time so I took the easy way out and just snapped a bunch of pictures.
    ...
    by Published on 10-21-2015 06:45 AM
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    It's Nexus season in Canada.

    Today I'm tagging along with Howard to yet another event space in downtown Toronto—this time, for a thing sponsored by the makers of the new Huawei Nexus 6P. In other words... Huawei.

    The Canadian launch of this high-end pure Android flagship has been delayed until November 2nd, but if early reviews are any indicator it will be entirely worth waiting for. Even iVerge loves it, and they hate Android. ...
    by Published on 10-20-2015 11:17 AM
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    I had a chance to try the new HTC One a9 the other day. HTC is calling it their new flagship but if you follow HTC closely you’ll know that they typically announce their “hero” phone in the first quarter of each year.

    Time to put on my conspiracy hat; I reviewed HTC’s 2015 hero phone, the One M9 a few months back and found it left me wanting. On paper, it had the right mix of ingredients for a flagship, Qualcomm’s first 64bit top of the line, Snapdragon 810 SoC, 5” 400+ PPI display, 3GB of RAM, 32GB storage, 20 megapixel camera, etc. But while they got the ingredients right, the recipe wasn’t follow properly and we were left with a phone that didn’t really distinguish itself from it’s predecessor, the M8.

    It could be argued that the M9 was a mistake - that said, in the past HTC also usually releases something interesting later in the year. Last year it was the Nexus 9 (a tablet), while previous Q3/Q4 oddities include the HTC One Max (a Phablet), HTC One X+ (they don’t typically do “+” versions) and the Butterfly (one of the first 1080P phones).

    The Q3/Q4 surprises are typically not aimed at the market as a whole like the Q1 heros. The One Max and Butterfly only saw limited distribution across carriers.

    Anyways, since the M9 has had a difficult life and they already have the a9 waiting in the wings, they’re saying that it’s going to be their new flagship for the entire market to help them through the the holiday season.

    I wondered if the a9 represented the end of the M line but was assured that that’s not the case.

    Let’s check it out.
    ...
    by Published on 10-16-2015 06:55 AM
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    It looks like iPhone 6s and 6s Plus owners have a bit of a surprise lurking beneath their screens. Apple's new A9 chip, one of the most important components in these new devices, have been sourced from two different manufacturers—Samsung and the Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC). Depending on which chip you have, your phone's battery life may be affected by up to 30%.

    The good news is that you'll only see this disparity if you're running the Geekbench benchmarking app. Real-world differences are negligible. ...
    by Published on 10-15-2015 06:30 AM
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    Today at lunchtime I'll be tagging along with Howard to an HTC event in downtown Toronto. The timing is curious, as HTC has scheduled a big launch of something next Tuesday, October 20th in New York City. That something is widely expected to be the HTC One A9, a new flagship once thought to be targeted solely for the Chinese market, to woo would-be iPhone users there.

    Thanks to a premature listing by Orange France (since removed) we now have some official images of the device—like the one you see here—along with a price: 599.90€, which at today's rates is equal to about $686 USD or almost $884 CAD. ...
    by Published on 10-14-2015 08:41 PM
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    I’ve been reviewing a lot of $250-$400 phones lately and for good reason; With phones like the Moto X Play, Asus ZenFone 2 and Alcatel OneTouch Idol 3, this segment of the market is just red hot with competition.

    Not to be left out, Sony has their $300 locked on Bell and Virgin, Xperia M4 Aqua which brings a very uncommon but very practical feature - water resistance. Let’s check it out.
    ...
    by Published on 10-14-2015 07:32 AM
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    Well, this is pretty great news to come home to...

    Howard loaned me a 16GB ASUS Zenfone 2 back in August, and the sad truth is that I've barely touched it. Though the price is appealing and the dual-SIM an intriguing feature for someone who probably travels too much, the bloatware on this phone has, for me, rendered it all but unusable. And good luck installing a ROM of your own; as I wrote back in August, this procedure is far more difficult than it should be.

    That is, until now. ...
    by Published on 10-13-2015 08:45 AM
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    One of my favorite phones of 2015 is the LG G4. It’s a fantastic all-around package with no significant weaknesses. More importantly, the fact that Samsung removed some key features from the GS6 and then hiked the price makes the G4 a no-brainer.

    Still, while the G4’s price is reasonable, it still sports a flagship price tag. Fortunately, if you don’t want to fork out too much dough, there are now more choices than ever when it comes to mid-range phones.

    Here’s the LG G4 Vigor, which possesses some of the G4’s qualities but comes with a much more palatable $350 CAN price tag. ...
    by Published on 10-09-2015 11:14 AM
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    When the iPhone 6 Plus was released last year is was the biggest change to Apple’s iPhone since the original model. Up until then, for whatever reason, Apple had resisted market trends and stuck with small screens for their iPhones.

    With the 6 Plus they jumped at least 2 sizes so suddenly, you didn't need to look elsewhere if you wanted a phone with large screen. The thing with the 6 Plus though is that it wasn’t much of an improvement over the 5s in the processing power department.

    The problem with this is that since its SoC was only marginally faster than its predecessor. So it didn’t really feel any faster. More importantly, just like its predecessors the 5s and 5, the 6 Plus only comes with 1GB of RAM while its competition comes with 2 to 4GB of RAM which makes a big difference when you’re switching programs.

    While the iPhone has usually enjoyed a performance advantage over its competition, the fact that the 6 Plus wasn’t much faster than the 5s meant that they had a chance to catch up and in some cases, surpass it. So a jump in performance is sorely needed.
    ...
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