• Devices

    by Published on 11-18-2013 08:20 AM
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    Don't call this a review; it's more a dump of random observations about Motorola's new Moto G.

    I've had a pre-release unit in my hands for all of five days, and I can really only compare it to the Nexus 5 currently on loan from LG Canada, plus my own LG Nexus 4. But as I will hopefully demonstrate, the Moto G compares quite well to both of them.

    Let's take a closer look...

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    by Published on 11-15-2013 12:10 PM
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    The other day Steve Punter (site) and I decided to do a camera shoot out. Right now I have almost all the flagship devices sitting on my desk including the new Nexus 5 so we figured why not?

    I remember back in the day when most phones came with VGA or megapixel cameras. The megapixel phones were much better than the VGA ones but either way, they took pretty lousy pictures.

    Back then, a built-in camera was a nice thing to have but if you wanted to capture an important memory, you’d be wise to bring a proper camera along with you be it a point-and-shoot or even something with a large sensor and removable lens.

    In the past couple of years a funny thing has happened. While point-and-shoots have improved during that time, they passed this invisible line where they took pictures that were ‘good enough’ for most people.

    Yeah, a SLR with a fast lens will take better pictures in a variety of conditions but then again, there’s that saying that that the best camera is the one that’s with you. A SLR will run circles around a camera phone in terms of handling, performance, speed, and quality but then again, a camera phone fits in your pocket - It’s always with me. So which one really is best?
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    by Published on 11-14-2013 10:33 AM
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    The Nexus 5 is the newest iteration of the Pure Google Experience smartphones. Like the Nexus 4 before it, this one is manufactured by LG (and it has their logo on it lest you forget). It’s roughly based on the new LG G2, but the two phones differ in a number of ways. The most obvious is that the G2 has a 13-megapixel camera and a 5.2-inch display, while the Nexus 5 has an 8-megapixel shooter and a 5.0-inch display.

    This time around Google has decided to officially support LTE. While there was a working LTE radio in the Nexus 4, it could only be made to work on Band 4 which virtually limited it to use in Canada, plus you had to make a change to the settings each time you booted the phone to get it to work.
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    by Published on 11-14-2013 10:07 AM
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    ***Comments are now closed. Good luck!***

    We're giving away a Nexus 5! To enter you can leave a comment on this post, if you use Facebook "like" us and then "like" the link to this post that appears on our Facebook page, and if you are a Twitter user follow @howardforums and tweet about it using #HoFoNexus5 and linking to this post. Any one will give you an entry. Doing all three will give you three chances to win.

    *Contest Rules: 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 is the latest version of Google's mobile operating system? U.S. winner will be responsible for all taxes and customs. Wireless carrier compatibilty 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.

    Contest ends on Tuesday November 19th 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.

    Good luck!
    by Published on 11-13-2013 11:22 AM
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    This morning I visited the swanky offices of Google Toronto to watch the launch of a new Motorola handset, broadcast live from Brazil to select audiences in London, Mexico City and Toronto — along with the rest of the world via YouTube.

    That handset is the Moto G. The 'G' stands for 'global'.

    It's touted as delivering a premium smartphone experience for a third of the price. In some parts of the world it will be a revolutionary device. In the United States it will be at the very least a massive bargain. In Canada? Well, in Canada it'll be locked to Telus...

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    by Published on 11-08-2013 08:05 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 11:04 AM
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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 08:29 AM
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    With its 6.44” display the Sony Xperia Z Ultra is a pretty unique device. On one hand it competes with other large phablets like the 6.3” Samsung Mega and 6.1” 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. It’s the only high-end phone with a 6”+ display right now.

    As such, it doesn’t really have any competitors. Sure, the Samsung Mega and Huawei Mate have similarly sized screens but they sport more modest specs and are they’re substantially cheaper.

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

    So, sorry, I’m not going to compare the Ultra with anything though I will say, if you want an enormous phone then it doesn’t 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 07:55 PM
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    Let’s 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 can’t 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 07:55 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 09:31 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 07:49 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 08:12 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 we’ve 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 you’ll now need to spend ore per month. If you want a more affordable plan you can still get a phone but it won’t have all the bells and whistles unless you’re willing to spend a lot more on the phone.

    So now there’s a demand for more affordable smartphones which are better than what you’d usually get on prepaid. It’s 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 don’t want to spend so much per month you’ll have to settle for a cup of Tim Hortons coffee GS4 Mini which also costs $149. So what’s the difference between the 2? ...
    by Published on 10-16-2013 08:00 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 11:56 AM
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    When you look at the Smartphone market, right now it’s dominated by Samsung and Apple. Things are going great for them but if you were to ask them what competitor they fear most I’d bet you their answer would Huawei. Not HTC, LG or Sony.

    I mean eventually Smartphones will reach a point where companies can’t 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 don’t compete at the very top of the market, many people don’t realize but Huawei actually makes really good affordable Smartphones. The Y300 I tried a while back isn’t going to win “Phone of the Year” but for what it costs it’s an amazing deal.

    Now we have the Huawei Ascend Mate. It’s a phone with a 6.1” phone that only costs - wait for it - $400 off contract. At $400, it’s 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 6.1” the Mate should be awesome at media consumption. If you’re sitting on the train, there aren’t many phones which are better than the Mate for watching and streaming videos - Right? Let’s 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 doesn’t really have any competitors. There aren’t that many phones with huge 6”+ 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 10:32 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 04:17 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 08:00 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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