• Commentary and Analysis

    by Published on 08-24-2015 04:29 PM
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices,
    3. Commentary and Analysis,
    4. Reviews and Hands-on
    Article Preview


    Among flagships, Motorola’s X line has always been a bit hard to understand. The first one costs slightly less than competing flagships but it gave up some specs compared to them. Ditto for the second gen X.

    Now, we’re on the 3rd generation and Motorola has mixed things up. The X lineup now bifurcates into the Moto X Pure and the Moto X Play. The Pure is a true flagship with the request flagship specs and price tag. However, the Play is the more interesting model. It trades some big specs for a more a palatable price tag.

    We’re now in the “Good enough” era of smartphones where flagship ownership is no longer mandatory to have a good experience.

    It mixes some flagship-ish features which some midrange ones to bring the price tag down to $400. Throw a large 3630mAh battery into the pot and we have something very unique. Let’s check it out. ...
    by Published on 08-24-2015 02:19 PM
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices,
    3. Commentary and Analysis,
    4. Reviews and Hands-on
    Article Preview


    With school just around the corner, many of you are thinking of picking up a decent phone on a budget. No doubt the original Moto G will probably come up quite frequently. The problem is that the original Moto G came out 2 years ago and its successor, the 2014 didn’t get people quite as excited partly because it lacked LTE, partly because it was priced too high and partly because it didn’t gain much traction with carriers (probably because of the LTE issue).

    Anyways, they’re back with their newest G, the 2015 Moto G. The addition of LTE is a no brainer but now they’ve changed the game with the addition of water resistance for under $200. Hmmm….
    ...
    by Published on 08-21-2015 08:20 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices,
    3. Commentary and Analysis
    Article Preview



    Mission accomplished.

    When it comes to our smartphones, the most personal of personal computers, everyone has their favourite feature. And for the enthusiasts among us I suspect that every user also has their own personal line in the sand, that one thing they've come to depend on and refuse to do without.

    For me it's NFC.

    It might be because I'm still holding on to the foolish notion that Canada will somehow get its mobile payments act together, having seen contactless payments work so seamlessly in Hong Kong and Japan. But even without a working Google Wallet app I still find NFC to be extremely useful. Thanks to Android Beam I can share an app, photo or web page with almost any other Android user just by tapping our phones together. Even in 2015 it still feels like the stuff of science fiction, and its one of those increasingly rare tricks that the iPhone can't do.

    Up until a few weeks ago I was hunkering down for a long wait on a pair of OnePlus 2 invites—until I heard that NFC would not be included. On my OnePlus One I had made do for the better part of a year without wireless charging or an OIS camera. But no NFC? No deal. ...
    by Published on 08-18-2015 08:20 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices,
    3. Commentary and Analysis
    Article Preview



    Yup, I got to try out Samsung's keyboard case at the briefing Howard brought me along to yesterday, the one that will instantly transform your 2015 Galaxy Note 5 into a 2005 Nokia E61. I have to admit that it's a clever (if hideously ugly) accessory—when not in use it snaps onto the other side of a companion backplate behind the phone—but it's something I would expect to find at Pacific Mall more than from the biggest smartphone manufacturer on the planet.

    Samsung is clearly not holding back in the goofy accessories department. But when it comes to devices it's an entirely different story. Especially for the Canadian market. ...
    by Published on 08-13-2015 08:49 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices,
    3. Commentary and Analysis
    Article Preview



    It's Note 5 reveal day! Woo?

    I have to say that I was a bit surprised at the apparent lack of interest to the leaked press images and specs for Samsung's Galaxy Note 5 (and S6 Edge Plus). Were I a Note user myself I suppose I'd be none too pleased at the prospect of a non-removable battery. Howard seems to be even more dismissive of the Note line; according to him a phablet-sized iPhone has made the Note altogether irrelevant.

    But I can still vividly remember being in Hong Kong (in 2012, I think) and seeing Notes and Note 2s everywhere—the super-sized phone was easy to spot in the hands of kids, moms, dads, grandparents... Everyone seemed to have one. I suspect that for a lot of users Samsung is Android, and for a good couple of years there the Galaxy Note was king among Android phones, if only for its size.

    Truth is, I've always admired the Note series—I've just never used one as my daily driver. Here's why. ...
    by Published on 08-06-2015 08:28 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices,
    3. Commentary and Analysis,
    4. Rumors
    Article Preview



    What we're looking at here is the back of a prototype Nexus 6, clearly showing an onboard fingerprint sensor below the camera. The sensor was scrapped before launch, perhaps because it would have added to the already-outrageous retail price. But I digress...

    Cut to present day, where there is mounting evidence that fingerprint scanning will indeed be a thing for Nexus in 2015. Other devices already have it—notably the Samsung Galaxy S6—but if Google is indeed adding it to their Nexus line it most likely means wider support for biometric security within Google apps.

    Is this a good or bad thing? I'm honestly not sure. ...
    by Published on 08-05-2015 08:23 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Commentary and Analysis,
    3. Apps
    Article Preview



    "For our tech-savvy UGO Wallet users, unfortunately we don't support rooted phones..."

    Riiight, because a user with root access can do all sorts of nefarious things. It's like, someone with admin access on their computer or something...!

    Don't believe they hype, dear reader; mobile payments remain a hot mess in Cana-duh, and UGO Wallet does nothing to change that.

    UGO Wallet's raison-d'être isn't a bad one—lighten your wallet by loading all your loyalty cards onto your phone. When it comes time to use them the app will generate a bar code that can be scanned at the register. Easy. And great for UGO, as they're presumably collecting your spending habits and selling them to third parties.

    Yesterday Bloomberg Business ran a feature on UGO, trumpeting their 50,000-strong user base under the looming shadow of Apple Pay. iPhone users seem quite taken with it; it's currently boasting a 4.5-star average rating on the AppStore. Over on BlackBerry World there's no shortage of praise in the reviews there.

    On Android they've attempted to add mobile payment functionality, and have failed miserably. ...
    by Published on 07-31-2015 08:26 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices,
    3. Commentary and Analysis
    Article Preview



    So upstart smartphone-maker OnePlus has just shunned Android Police, one of if not the most trusted Android blogs worldwide.

    Around 8pm Eastern Time last night their editorial team got a direct call from the company, informing them that they would have no access to review units, no invites for giveaways and no further communication. It's most likely the result of an angry rant posted on AP earlier that afternoon, calling out OnePlus's marketing as lies.

    All the sources will be posted below. But if you'll indulge me, I'll highlight what I think are the important bits first. ...
    by Published on 07-17-2015 08:05 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Commentary and Analysis
    Article Preview



    So today I leave on my summer vacation. I'll be posting Your Daily News Round-up later this afternoon, but after that you won't hear from me on these pages again until Tuesday, July 28th—possibly later than that if jet lag gets the better of me.

    I did want to leave you all with something cool to check out while I'm away, a link that I've been saving for just such an occasion. XDA has managed to pull off something fairly spectacular, a worldwide atlas of their users.

    They've collected anecdotal data from literally everywhere on the planet—North and South America, Europe, the Middle East, Africa, India, Asia, Australia, New Zealand... It's very much worth having a look at what people are paying for their mobile phones and service in different parts of the world.

    And to get you started, I've copied and pasted the table of contents for your convenience! ...
    by Published on 07-13-2015 07:48 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Commentary and Analysis
    Article Preview



    Over the weekend Crain's Chicago Business posted a very cool audiovisual tribute to Motorola, the Windy City's hometown tech hero. I can't recall ever seeing anything like this online; you should definitely check it out.

    Fitting for a famous mobile phone maker, the tribute is 100% responsive, and renders perfectly on a phone or tablet. In case you need further enticement to see it for yourself, here are a few fun facts about Moto that you may or may not have known. ...
    by Published on 06-19-2015 08:05 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices,
    3. Commentary and Analysis
    Article Preview



    Fandroids beware: the second-generation flagship killer from OnePlus will run the Snapdragon 810. Yes, that Snapdragon 810—the one that throttled the LG G Flex 2, lost a major OEM (Samsung), lit up the HTC M9 and still sucks on the new Sony Xperia Z4.

    This thing is a dud, end of story.

    And yet here's OnePlus, trumpeting the 810 in its forums like its users didn't know any better:

    Our engineers debated endlessly over which CPU would be the perfect fit for the 2. While we played around with other options, we always came back to the 810. Its speed and ability to multitask while maintaining optimal battery performance remain unmatched amongst others in the industry.
    Wat? ...
    by Published on 06-11-2015 08:25 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Commentary and Analysis
    Article Preview



    A blog post from mobile guru Tomi Ahonen can be a fairly intimidating thing. Not only does the former Nokia exec confront you with a wall of text, but his from-the-hip style can sometimes be hard to follow.

    You cannot deny, however, that Tomi's posts are full of insights, and his latest missive on the enduring power of the humble text message is no exception. Here are just some of the things I learned from parsing through it.

    First up is a debunking of what I previously took as truth, that WhatsApp had overtaken SMS as the world's dominant mobile messaging platform. Here are Tomi's numbers:

    • WhatsApp - 900 million active users;
    • Facebook on mobile - 1.2 billion mobile users;
    • Email on mobile - 2.2 billion active users;
    • Email on any tech - 2.5 billion active users;
    • Internet on any tech - 3 billion active users;
    • SMS - 5.4 billion active users.


    Or, put another way...

    • SMS reaches nearly twice as big an audience as the total Internet on mobile and PC;
    • SMS reaches twice the total user base of email on both PCs and mobile;
    • SMS reaches two and a half times the ownership of all smartphones, Androids, iPhones, Blackberries, etc. combined;
    • SMS reaches about 4 times the total audience of Facebook—less if you include also PC-only users, more if you only count mobile users;
    • SMS reaches six times the active user base of WhatsApp.


    Right then, so much for WhatsApp! ...
    by Published on 06-10-2015 07:47 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. News,
    3. Commentary and Analysis,
    4. Apps
    Article Preview



    At the start of rush hour this past Monday morning Toronto's Transit System failed, and failed hard. Just after 5:30 am the radio communications system went silent, and as a result service on all four subway lines was halted until after 7 am. Shuttle buses could not be brought in as they too rely on radio communications, so thousands of commuters were pretty much stranded.

    Enter UBER, who made some headlines of their own for seemingly taking advantage of the situation with surge pricing. UBER says that once they learned of the TTC shutdown they capped their fares at 3x the normal rate; the screen grab you're looking at (via Twitter) says otherwise.

    Anyway, there is actually a reasonable explanation for UBER's exponentially raised rates, which I didn't fully understand until I read a statement they released later that day: ...
    by Published on 06-09-2015 08:23 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Commentary and Analysis,
    3. Apps
    Article Preview



    Silicon Valley, great show. You should check it out...

    Anyway, yes, Internet radio is one of three standout features in the forthcoming Apple Music app for iOS—along with a streaming music service and Connect, billed as a virtual backstage pass to your favourite artist.

    The app is apparently coming to Android as well, something we've not seen since iTunes first came to Windows computers way back when. So I guess it's a big deal—unless, of course, you're one of those people who's not already on board with the idea of paying a monthly subscription fee to listen to music.

    Like me. ...
    by Published on 06-04-2015 08:04 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Commentary and Analysis,
    3. Apps
    Article Preview



    What we're looking at here is the first launch of the official Twitter app for Android, running on the BlissPop custom ROM. Thanks to the baked in permissions manager from CyanogenMod (and OS), I was able to block Twitter from helping itself to my address book before I even logged in to my account.

    Twitter's likely defence would be that it's only providing a means to help you find your friends on the service. Why then, does the app not hold off until I use that specific feature?

    I'll tell you why... Back at the dawn of the Facebook era there was a saying that if you weren't paying for the product then you were the product—that is, your personal information was being bought and sold by advertisers. The same holds true for the modern day smartphone user, it seems, with your contact list as the currency-of-choice.

    Protection from these egregious requests has been available to rooted users for a long time, but a proper permissions manager for stock Android is only coming with its next major revision. That upgrade can't come soon enough. ...
    by Published on 05-29-2015 08:07 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. News,
    3. Commentary and Analysis,
    4. Apps
    Article Preview



    The developer preview of Android M is already out, with tech bloggers and other rabid fandroid in a mad rush to install it on their old Nexus devices and report their findings. Me? I'm just getting acquainted with Android L, so I'm good.

    A quick glance through the bullet list of Android M's standout features might make you think that Google is gunning for CyanogenMod, BlissPop and the like. Today I'll take you through those new features, and hopefully demonstrate that there remains at least one good reason to consider a community build of Android over stock. ...
    by Published on 05-20-2015 08:50 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices,
    3. Commentary and Analysis
    Article Preview



    Oppo has announced two new mid-range smartphones—or affordable flagships, depending on your point of view. The R7 and R7 Plus each feature a full metal chassis, 5 or 6 inch Full HD display, Snapdragon 615 Processor, 3 GB of RAM, a 13 MP camera and the not-terrible-for-an-OEM-ROM Color OS.

    They also support dual SIMs, but do so in a way that's pretty much useless for the end-user.

    Take another look at the photo above. At first glance you might think: "Oh, that second slot in the SIM tray can accommodate either a Nano SIM or micro SD card. How clever!" But there are two BIG problems with this design. ...
    by Published on 05-15-2015 08:20 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Commentary and Analysis,
    3. Carriers
    Article Preview



    ... Apparently not a prepaid plan at all.

    This is an oddly-specific thing to shop for, I know. But in case someone reading this is in the market for something similar, I've already done the research for you. A buddy's daughter is getting her first-ever smartphone for her 13th birthday, a hand-me-down from yours truly. So yesterday her dad and I took to the lower-level carrier kiosks of Toronto's Eaton Centre in search of a suitable provider and plan.

    The kid's requirements are as follows: no data (WiFi only), and as much calling and texting as we can get, for as little per month as possible. If we were purchasing a phone and a plan this would be a no-brainer—we'd pick up an unlocked Moto G or Moto E at Staples and immediately proceed to WIND Mobile, to activate it on their $25 Talk and Text Plan. The vast majority of this new teenager's communication with her friends will likely be via SMS, WhatsApp or whatever it is kids use these days; voice calls will mostly come from fretful parents wondering where she is.

    But alas, there's a complication: the phone that she's getting is the made-for-Rogers first-gen LTE Moto G, which I took home from a Moto event this time last year. It's unlocked (for some reason) but unfortunately doesn't support AWS. Yes, it's overkill for a teenager who isn't going to use LTE but hey, it's also a free phone. ...
    by Published on 05-14-2015 08:35 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Commentary and Analysis,
    3. Carriers
    Article Preview



    And I couldn't be more proud. Or more grateful for Koodo's $55 SK/MB plan.

    Ordinarily she wouldn't go anywhere near the generous (for these days) 5 GB ceiling of the plan we're both on, but a perfect storm of two elements—a sudden obsession with a YouTube channel and a finicky WiFi radio on her OnePlus One—made for an exception.

    The final tally for the damage was 704.52 MB (our new billing cycle starts today); for this she'll be dinged a mere $10 on our next bill—a lot less than the Big Three's current overage rates, I might add. More importantly, that 5 GB data bucket kept her overage low in the first place.

    It got me thinking more about streaming video on smartphones. It seems to me there's a real disconnect between all the wondrous services available and the cold, hard cost of mobile data. Our home broadband connection has a monthly data bucket of 300 GB; streaming many hours of Netflix is no problem for us. But YouTube, along with the likes of these new streaming apps like Periscope and Meerkat, can easily gobble up much more data than what's available in a typical smartphone plan. ...
    by Published on 05-12-2015 08:22 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices,
    3. Commentary and Analysis
    Article Preview



    So last Thursday San Francisco-based Fitbit filed for a $100 million IPO on the New York Stock Exchange. Good for them. But in this age of Android Wear and Apple Watch someone's going to have to explain to me why their products continue to be so popular. For me the most vexing of all is the $250 USD Fitbit Surge™ you see above. It supports notifications so it's technically a smartwatch, but it does hardly anything else that you'd expect a smartwatch to do.

    I guess I don't really need an explanation; I know full well that Fitbit has become a generic term associated with fitness tracking, like Kleenex and Q-tips® for the things that they do. I also know that part of Fitbit's appeal is the smartphone app and online account that you get with every device, so that you can track your fitness and compete with your friends.

    But you know these things aren't accurate, right? ...
    Page 3 of 17 FirstFirst 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 LastLast