• Reviews and Hands-on

    by Published on 09-17-2014 12:21 PM
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    The under $200 prepaid market in Canada has been heating up. Between the Moto G, ZTE Grand X and now the Alcatel OneTouch Pop Icon weíve got some really great choices.

    The Pop Icon is available from TELUS for $200 on a plan or $130 pre-paid with a $10 credit while on Koodo prepaid you pay $200 and get a $20 credit. If youíre getting one, I recommend picking it up on TELUS prepaid.
    ...
    by Published on 09-12-2014 08:36 AM
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    Just to be clear, this isn't a review for jerks, but rather an accessory for them.

    Ever make an online purchase that you almost instantly regret? Something that seems like a good idea when you're looking at the product page, but turns out to be a massive disappointment once it arrives and you take it out of the box? That's Griffin's PowerDock 5, a shoddily-built, pointless accessory that nobody needs.

    Seriously, this thing will make you hate yourself. ...
    by Published on 09-09-2014 01:51 PM
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    I'm watching the Apple webcast (which is the worst, most buggy stream I have ever watched). Here are some highlights.

    iPhone 6 and 6 Plus:

    Apple just announced 2 iPhones, the 4.7" iPhone 6 and 5.5" iPhone 6 Plus. Both of which have curved displays.


    The 6 has a 1334 x 750, 326ppi IPS display while the 6 Plus has a 1920x1080, 401ppi one.
    Each display has full sRGB wide color gamut and 'dual-domain pixels' to give a wider angle of view.



    The iPhone 6 is 6.9mm thin while the 6 Plus is 7.1mm.



    To take advantage of the bigger screen, the Plus supports landscape mode in the menus.
    It also has 2 up displays in many apps like the email client and dedicated copy and paste buttons in landscape.

    Both are powered by the 64bit Apple A8 processor with 2 billion transistors (A7 had 1 billion) which has up to 25% faster CPU performance and 50% faster GPU

    The iPhone 6's will come with a new M8 motion co-processor which has a barometer (for stairs).
    ...
    by Published on 09-04-2014 11:08 AM
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    In the past year or so, the market has seen a big shift. You can call it the rise of the usable sub $200 phone. First came the Nokia Lumia 520 and Motorola Moto G which had the under $200 market to themselves for quite some time. Now we have competitors which offer even more than the Moto G for well under the $200 price point. Among others, Iím talking about the Blu Studio 5.0C HD and the ZTE Grand X which Iím checking out today.

    The X is a Bell exclusive and goes for $149.99 off-contract. I should point out that the ZTE Grand X sold by Bell has much better specs than the Grand X thatís sold south of the border.

    While there are a number of $150 phones in Canada, the X has 2 features which really set it apart. First off, you get a 5Ē 1280x720 high definition screen. Most phones in at this price point either come with a 854x480 or 960x540 display which is usually smaller. You also get 1GB instead of 512MB of RAM which makes the X a much more capable phone. ...
    by Published on 09-04-2014 10:38 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.
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    by Published on 08-30-2014 11:46 AM
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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.
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    by Published on 08-27-2014 08:04 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 08-22-2014 09:55 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.
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    by Published on 08-21-2014 08:35 AM
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    I'm a big fan of the location-based app Foursquare, or at least I was. I never really cared much for its social media aspectsóthe leaderboards, the mayorships and all that. So I should be thrilled that the developers decided to break out the social stuff and move it to a new app called Swarm, repurposing Foursquare proper as a recommendation engine to more effectively compete with the likes of Yelp.

    Instead, they've very nearly ruined the experience for me. What's worse, in a little test I did last weekend, the new Foursquare app doesn't even work. ...
    by Published on 08-20-2014 04:40 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 08-19-2014 07:35 AM
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    2. Commentary and Analysis,
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    4. Carriers
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    There's been a fair amount of blowback on these forums in regards to Roam Mobility's migration to LTE data. If you didn't know, users have had to pay a $1.95 upgrade fee per SIM for LTE access in the U.S.A. And as far as I know, that upgrade is mandatory. Perhaps more contentiously, access to LTE requires that a new phone number be assigned to your Roam Mobility SIM.

    What no one seems to be talking about, however, is the new service itself. I think it's pretty great. ...
    by Published on 08-18-2014 08:35 AM
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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 08-12-2014 02:44 PM
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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 08-08-2014 08:30 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 08-05-2014 11:54 PM
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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
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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
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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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    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 09:27 AM
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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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    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.
    ...
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