• Commentary and Analysis

    by Published on 02-10-2017 08:00 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Commentary and Analysis

    I caught something on Twitter yesterday that has me more than a bit confused. As you may or may not know, this week the CRTC conducted a public hearing this week in review of Canada's Wireless Code. The following excerpt from the hearing was tweeted as a graphic—I did a copy/paste straight from the official transcript.

    For reference, THE CHAIRPERSON is CRTC Chair Jean-Pierre Blais and MS. CARSTEN is Rhonda Carsten, Director of Wireless Marketing for SaskTel.

    4180 THE CHAIRPERSON: Would you agree with me that if phones were more readily unlocked, a consumer rather than getting this $3 a day package from you for roaming in the United States or perhaps a higher price for roaming elsewhere could actually insert a SIM card from a foreign carrier?

    4181 MS. CARSTEN: We do as part of our process that we communicate to customers when they contact us with regards to international roaming and the rates, we do make it available to them to unlock their device. There is that fee associated with it but it is a one-time fee and it is a permanent unlock for that device so that they can do exactly what you reference by picking up a SIM in an international destination and utilizing those local rates that would be cheaper for them.

    4182 THE CHAIRPERSON: So how much is that unlocking fee?

    4183 MS. CARSTEN: It’s the same fee.

    4184 THE CHAIRPERSON: So $50?

    4185 MS. CARSTEN: One time based on the same cost structure that we will provide you with information about.

    4186 THE CHAIRPERSON: So if in December 2016 I was going down to the United States on holidays I’d pay $50 and if I was going 3 months later again and I want to use a SIM card option to manage my fees I’d have to pay another $50; is that correct?

    4187 MS. CARSTEN: No, no, you only pay the one time and then that device is unlocked. And every subsequent trip you make, regardless of what country you go to, you don’t have to pay again to unlock that device. It’s permanently unlocked.

    4188 THE CHAIRPERSON: Even in Canada?

    4189 MS. CARSTEN: Yes.

    4190 THE CHAIRPERSON: So it’s not just a roaming option. You’d be unlocked forever?

    4191 MS. CARSTEN: Correct.
    TL;DR The CRTC doesn't know what SIM-unlocking is...?

    Granted, the person who tweeted this is a known shill for Canada's Big Three carriers, and may well have cherry-picked this specific exchange to make the CRTC look bad. A reply to the tweet additionally pointed out that Mr. Blais in that moment might have been deliberately pedantic—"playing dumb"—to get what might seem like obvious details about SIM-unlocking on record.

    I certainly hope that's the case. If Canada's regulatory telecommunications body doesn't understand a core technology of mobile phones, we're in for a bad time.

    For more on the public hearing see additional comments in this thread.

    Source: CRTC Transcripts via an industry apologist on Twitter

    by Published on 02-09-2017 08:00 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices,
    3. Commentary and Analysis

    I've been subscribed to TechAltar for a while now, and was pleased to see one of the videos from that YouTube channel grace the front pages of popular subreddits like r/Android, r/OnePlus and r/Pebble this week. The dude who appears on camera—I think his name is Martin?—clearly knows what he is talking about, and nowhere is this more apparent than in his latest production.

    His theory, in a nutshell, is that serving the tech enthusiast is not a sustainable business.

    He cites two notable examples: Oppo and Pebble. Perpetually a hit with the Kickstarter crowd, Pebble still struggled to find a wider customer base. Distribution through Best Buy and the like, more fashion-conscious designs like the Pebble Round, doubling down on fitness tracking with heart-rate sensors... none of this could ultimately save the company; its geek-cred became a fatal thorn in its side.

    Then there's Oppo, a company that Martin (?) actually worked for in Shenzhen, China for a time. It wasn't all that long ago that Oppo too was an enthusiast brand—as I recall, there was a version of their 2013 N1 that ran CyanogenMod out of the box. But there came a point where the company decided to pivot away from its tech-savvy fanbase and focus on more consumer-friendly products. The result? Oppo is now, according to The Economist, the number one OEM in the world's biggest smartphone market.

    So what's the early adopter to do? TechAltar's advice is to not get too attached to your favourite brand, and be ready to jump to the next thing once it comes along. Hopefully we will always have a next thing to jump to...!

    by Published on 02-06-2017 08:30 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Commentary and Analysis

    I've been sitting on some really good links about Cyanogen, Inc. and its co-founder Steve Kondik for a while now, but have resisted posting them here because together they tell such a sordid and convoluted tale. But it looks like the dust has settled and we finally have closure, so here we go...

    You'll recall that in September of 2013 CyanogenMod, the most popular custom ROM for Android, incorporated into Cyanogen, Inc. Their business model was solid—the rising tide of Chinese-branded smartphones could never even hope to do well in the west with the bloated, ad-ridden software tolerated at home. The new Cyanogen OS made its famous début on 2014's OnePlus One, incorrectly called CyanogenMod 11S by yours truly. And then things got weird.

    Cyanogen, Inc.—or, more accurately, its CEO Kirt McMaster—f**ked over OnePlus when it (he) made an exclusive deal to provide software for Micromax, an Android OEM in India. For a time OnePlus was effectively blocked from selling phones in the world's second largest smartphone market. A few months later McMaster boasted to Forbes that Cyanogen was "putting a gun to Google's head".

    Fast forward to the summer of 2016, where Cyanogen, Inc. decided to get out of the Android ROM business altogether, laying off 20% of its staff and "pivoting" to market the only other intellectual property it had—a scant few customized Android apps.

    The one bright spot through this mess was the continued availability of the free CyanogenMod ROM—that is until Steve Kondik, the founder of the project, told his side of the story to the CM community in an open letter:

    My co-founder [McMaster] apparently became unhappy with running the business and not owning the vision. This is when the "bullet to the head" and other misguided media nonsense started, and the bad business deals were signed. Being second in command, all I could do was try and stop it, do damage control, and hope every day that something new didn't happen. The worst of it happened internally and it became a generally sh**ty place to work because of all the conflict.
    Shortly after posting this, Kondik was fired from the company he himself had started. And shortly after that, the Inc. shut down all the infrastructure that had made the Mod possible.

    But all is not lost: CyanogenMod lives on in the form of Lineage OS, with Kondik and some other key talent running the show. Though ROMs are currently available for only a few devices, many, many more are in the works.

    And what of Cyanogen, Inc., and the CEO that ruined everything? Well, the news from Android Police over the weekend is that McMaster has a new logo on the door of Cyanogen's old HQ, and a smashed Tesla in the parking lot. Talk about a train wreck...

    Sources: Android Police (1) (2) (3)

    by Published on 01-24-2017 08:30 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices,
    3. Commentary and Analysis

    I'm an Android user and, despite the fanboy graphic you see above, I come in peace.

    Yesterday I came across a list of 10 reasons why people buy iPhones instead of Android phones. As a student of smartphone history it piqued my interest; while it's an inescapable fact that Android is currently the world's most popular computer OS (and that includes Windows on desktop computers), it also seems to be true that in certain parts of the world—Japan, the U.S. and Canada are immediate places that come to mind—you still see more iPhones than Androids in people's hands.

    Why is that?

    There are undoubtedly many answers to this question; I've added my own to the list that I found, and I'm hoping that you'll do the same...

    1. They like iOS better than Android

    I've definitely some firsthand evidence to support this. I remember showing my niece whatever Nexus phone I was using at the time and she promptly handed it back, saying that it was "too confusing". With home screen widgets and app drawers versus screen after screen of app icons (with folders for advanced users) I can appreciate that.

    2. iPhones support all of the apps that most people want

    It's not nearly as much of an issue as it was a few years ago, but with some game titles—Super Mario Run, for example—it's still very much the case.

    3. They’ve heard all kinds of things (true and false) about the security of iOS

    I would think the opposite, that iPhone users have heard all sorts of bad things about Android security. To some extent it's a fair point.

    4. iPhones play well with other Apple devices

    Hey, in for a penny, in for a pound, right?

    In all seriousness, just as the Linux-based Android OS makes for a good fit with my desktop Linux computers, the tight integration between iOS and Mac OS makes a good case for why you'd use both.

    5. They’ve already owned an iPhone

    I'll admit that I completely missed the boat when the iPhone 3G came to Canada; at that time I was still a Mac user, but also a cheerleader for Team Nokia. In fact, I only really bought a Nexus One in 2010 to try out a new carrier (Mobilicity) and also because Nokia decided not to lend me an N8.

    Bad move, Nokia.

    6. iPhones are easy to recognize

    I think what the list is trying to say is that iPhone is a safe, dependable choice—which until Google's Pixel didn't really exist in the Android ecosystem.

    7. iPhones aren’t packed with bloatware added by the carrier

    With a few exceptions Android is guilty as charged; no argument here.

    8. They think an iPhone will last longer than an Android phone

    I would say that the opposite is true—depending on the phone, of course. With a good custom ROM I could still use my 2014 Nexus 5 or OnePlus One as a daily driver if I wanted to.

    9. iPhones seem easier to resell than Android phones

    Can't deny that. I would further say that getting a subsidized iPhone might even be worth locking yourself into a carrier contract if you plan on selling it right away.

    10. They aren’t comparing phones based on raw specifications

    Even if they were, iPhone hardware is made to run iOS, so you'd still have a solid case for the iPhone being the better choice.

    When all is said and done the only really important thing is that you use what's right for you. Nonetheless, any comments you add below will help us Android users understand you better.

    Source: Cheat Sheet

    by Published on 01-17-2017 08:30 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Commentary and Analysis,
    3. Apps

    I'm very late to the game here, but I finally got around to watching the new season of Black Mirror on Netflix last night. If you've never seen Black Mirror, it's basically Twilight Zone meets the Internet. "Nosedive", the first episode of the show's third season, is set in a dystopian near-future where everyone is constantly being rated by their peers, with very real implications for the goods, services and even people they are able to access.

    If you find such a premise to be a bit far-fetched, you might be surprised to find out that a similar rating system is in use right now in mainland China.

    The Chinese government is calling it "social credit"; as The Washington Post reports, the reasons behind it are fairly pragmatic:

    At the heart of the social credit system is an attempt to control China’s vast, anarchic and poorly-regulated market economy, to punish companies selling poisoned food or phony medicine, to expose doctors taking bribes and uncover con men preying on the vulnerable.
    Here's the scary part: social credit is being expanded from businesses and professionals to the rest of the population. Enrollment in the social credit system could be mandatory as early as 2020.

    One initiative to get China's 700 million Internet users to embrace the idea is Sesame Credit, a joint venture between Alibaba, Tencent and, of course, the Chinese government. I found an excellent analysis of Sesame Credit on, of all places, a YouTube gaming channel:

    If you thought social media was already bad, gamifying obedience will surely make it much, much worse.

    Source: Washington Post

    by Published on 12-30-2016 08:30 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices,
    3. Commentary and Analysis

    My final submission for 2016 will not be an arbitrary list of top 5 or top 10 devices, but instead a consideration of hardware trends I've observed over the past year. It's by no means complete, just the things that spring immediately to mind.

    The Endangered Audio Jack

    The good news, for Apple's stockholders at least, is that iPhone 7 owners seem perfectly willing to go without the standard audio jack that remains on almost every other phone currently on the market—the Moto Z is also missing the 3.5mm plug, but I've honestly never seen one in use outside of a Motorola boardroom.

    There are rumours that next year's Galaxy S8 won't have an audio jack, either. But why? The only justification I can think of is the continuing obsession with impossibly-thin phones that nobody asked for.

    Dual Cameras

    Smartphone OEMs have at least innovated their way around the dilemma of putting a zoom lens on an impossibly-thin phone. What started on the LG G5 was ultimately brought to the masses on the iPhone 7 Plus. Huawei's P9 also has two cameras, but for a different purpose—the two sensors capture different colour information to produce a more vivid result.

    Anyway, the trend of dual-camera smartphones is something I expected to continue into 2017. But there's actually another way to put a zoom lens on an impossibly-thin phone: slap an actual optical zoom onto the back, and throw in a Hasselblad logo for good measure.


    Modular phones were also a trend in 2016, but I'm not yet convinced that it's going to stick. A pair of new Moto mods were announced earlier this month, but LG's Friends have expanded to include a slew of decidedly non-modular accessories. Even more telling is that leaked renders of next year's LG G6 show no signs of any modularity whatsoever.

    And let's not forget that Google's own modularity experiment, Project Ara, is dead.

    Catching Up

    I'll close off by mentioning an innovation from last year that I didn't get to enjoy until 2016. Dual SIM support made an early appearance on the ASUS ZenFone 2, and was also a feature on 2015's OnePlus 2. This infrequent world traveller got to use it on his OnePlus 3 over the summer, and as a fan of cheap local SIMs I can safely say it's a feature that I'll no longer be able to do without.

    Feel free to add your favourite smartphone innovations of 2016 below!

    by Published on 12-29-2016 08:30 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Commentary and Analysis,
    3. Carriers

    Our year-end retrospective continues with a look back at the notable carrier-related stories of 2016. Note the strong bias towards the Canadian market in what follows, as that's where I happen to live. Sorry, eh?


    Bell Acquires MTS

    Our biggest story of the year had to be Bell's takeover of Manitoba Telecom Services, a deal that was recently approved by the CRTC. This regional carrier was at least partly responsible for one of the most popular Canadian plans on Howard Forums, the $55 (now $48) Manitoba/Saskatchewan (now just MB) plan from Koodo. Some links:

    BCE Buys MTS: Some Notable Quotes

    Winseck and Klass Weigh in on BCE and MTS

    How The Colony Could Learn from The Empire


    Wireless plans in Canada continue to mimic gas prices; the guy on one corner continues to raise or lower prices (mostly raise them) to match the guy on the opposite corner. The one bit of good news: WIND—I mean, Freedom Mobile now supports LTE data, albeit on only two devices.

    This is What Wireless Competition Looks Like in Canada

    Egregious New Data Overages Coming to Fido; Other Carriers to Follow?

    Freedom Mobile’s LTE Network Now Live in Toronto and Vancouver

    S**t Guy Laurence Says

    Notable Plans

    Queuing for SIM cards? Only in Canada.


    Zero-Rated Data

    In studying the U.S. wireless market from afar it seems to me that this was the most contentious issue of the year. I myself am a strong believer in net neutrality; zero-rated services are awesome if you're subscribed to the carrier that offers them, and awful if you're not... which is kind of the point.

    The Dangers of Zero-Rated Data

    Netflix Video Throttled on AT&T and Verizon

    Ars Technica Profiles FCC Chair Tom Wheeler

    Notable Plans

    How to get Unlimited Internet on Sprint for $500/year (tax-deductible)

    If there are any big carrier-related stories that I've missed—particularly from the United States—feel free to add them below!

    by Published on 12-28-2016 08:00 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Commentary and Analysis

    I'm using a year-end retrospective post on Wareable as the inspiration for my own year-end retrospective on smartwatches. But this isn't just a reblog—I think there's at least one big story missing in that post, which I'll tell you about at the end of this one.

    Apple Watch Series 2

    I do agree that the second-generation Apple Watch is a big deal, but probably not for the same reasons as most people think. With its refocus on fitness tracking we suddenly saw a $500 USD (on average) luxury item chasing a $100 USD Fitbit. For me, there was no better indication that smartwatches had lost the plot.

    The Death of Pebble

    The smartwatch pioneer also doubled down on fitness in 2016, but it was too little, too late. If you were interested, there's one more factor that likely contributed to the company's demise: Japan Display, Inc., the supplier of Pebble's e-paper screen, is having its own financial woes.

    The Rise of The Hybrid

    Fossil Group reportedly began 2016 with a promise to launch 100 wearables by year's end. Unfortunately their Android Wear products all include Motorola's contentious flat tire as a standard design aesthetic. But they've also popularized an entirely new class of smartwatch: the hybrid. These devices are light on smartwatch features—basically a vibration motor and, if you're lucky, a programmable light or subdial to track your steps—but big on battery life and traditional watch movements. Nokia also got in on this nascent product category with its acquisition of Withings.

    Android Wear

    2016 ended without the release of Android Wear 2.0, but what everybody seems to have missed is a major tipping point in the platform. Android-powered smartwatches are now available from no less than four traditional watch companies—Casio, Fossil, Nixon and even Tag Heuer. I still expect Android Wear to eventually capture the bulk of the smartwatch market, just like Windows did with personal computers in the 1990s.

    Hopefully along the way we'll find something more useful for them to do than show notifications on our wrists and track steps.

    Source: Wareable

    by Published on 12-13-2016 08:30 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Commentary and Analysis

    Hey everybody, check this out... The OnePlus 3T smokes the much more expensive Google Pixel XL in a real-world side-by-side speed test. HAH!

    There's just one problem: according to this sober editorial on XDA, "real-world" side-by-side comparisons like these are inconclusive at best. The author, Daniel Marchena, likens them to an episode of Top Gear—or rather, The Grand Tour—that is, entertaining to watch, but not at all instructive:

    Applications like Geekbench 4 are tests done in a specific testing environment. They are self contained, and thus are less likely to be affected by the environment directly. Contrary to this, a speed test is open to a host of variables like touch response times, background processes, the amount of user data synced, which side of Google’s beloved A/B testing a phone could be involved in, the application state, the unavoidable human error…
    To illustrate his point, Daniel ran five separate side-by-side comparisons between the Pixel and the LG V20. To see the wildly-varying results, check out the link immediately below. And to see more side-by-side videos, I'm afraid that you'll have to look elsewhere from now on.

    Source: XDA Developers

    by Published on 12-08-2016 08:00 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices,
    3. Commentary and Analysis

    Exhibit A: The original iPhone, running iOS 1.0, vs the T-Mobile G1, running the first release of Android. These two revolutionary devices could not have been more different—despite Google famously going back to the drawing board when the iPhone made its début.

    Exhibit B: The current iPhone vs the Google Pixel. The software and ecosystems are distinct but not dissimilar—both have their own app stores that run the same popular apps, albeit on different codebases. Design-wise they're largely the same, both slabs of mostly screen. And the prices? Well, the prices are identical.

    Don't get me wrong, smartphones have gotten exponentially better over the past decade. What I'm saying is that they've progressed to the point where they've largely become boring. At least for me.

    There is still innovation to be found, but you have to look for it. The notion of modular phones is interesting, but the execution of that idea by the likes of LG and Motorola is little more than a gimmick; Fairphone's proposition of upgradeable and recyclable phone parts is much more sustainable. Too bad you can only get one in Europe.

    Then there's Google's Project Tango, bringing augmented reality to the palm of your hand. But at present it's available on only one device, and reviews of that device aren't very good.

    Are my expectations for smartphones too high? Always. And I find both Google and Apple guilty of chasing profits more than innovation. To both of them I have this to say: Stop being boring!

    by Published on 12-01-2016 10:26 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices,
    3. Commentary and Analysis,
    4. Reviews and Hands-on
    Article Preview

    I’ve been using my iPhone 7 Plus for a few weeks now and since I don’t have time for a full review, I thought I’d share some observations and compare it with my 6s Plus.

    First off, Apple finally ditching the 16GB base model. These days, you can do so much with a Smartphone, it’s irresponsible to sell such an expensive phone with such a skimpy storage configuration. It’s like selling a minivan that only has 1 seat in it.

    Models start with 32GB which is a useful start. The other configurations have 128 and 256GB of storage, up from the 6s Plus’ 64 and 128GB respectively, at the the same price points, which in a way, makes them a better deal - if you could call a $1000+ phone a good deal.
    by Published on 11-17-2016 11:58 AM
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    2. Devices,
    3. Commentary and Analysis,
    4. Reviews and Hands-on
    Article Preview

    I just checked out Motorola’s JBL Soundboost speaker, and Easy Share Projector Moto Mods for their Z series phones. Next up is their camera accessory; the Hasselblad True Zoom.

    Hasselblad is known for their professional grade medium format cameras. So what is their logo doing on this decided un-professional looking camera? Did they really help Motorola develop a camera accessory or did they just have a bunch of extra Hasselblad stickers laying around?
    by Published on 10-31-2016 07:00 AM
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    2. Commentary and Analysis,
    3. Reviews and Hands-on
    Article Preview

    So I'm going to be away for a few weeks—after I post the news round-up later today you won't hear from me again until Monday, November 21st. As a parting gift I'd like to share an excerpt from a fantastic book I've just finished, Losing The Signal: The Spectacular Rise and Fall of BlackBerry. Whether or not it qualifies as a Halloween ghost story isn't for me to decide.

    I'll set the stage for you: The year is 2010, and a delegation of RIM executives is at Mobile World Congress to meet with Verizon, their biggest carrier partner. Their relationship by that point is already strained, and Verizon is doing quite well with the Moto Droid. Anyway, in preparation for the rollout of their new 4G network the carrier is meeting with OEMs to see what 4G-capable hardware they have available.

    To borrow a hackneyed phrase from BuzzFeed, you won't believe what happens next! ...
    by Published on 10-26-2016 07:30 AM
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    2. Devices,
    3. Commentary and Analysis
    Article Preview

    Before you start saving up for that jaw-dropping Mi Mix, there's something you should know: someone has found a backdoor in MIUI, the Android ROM that runs on Xiaomi phones and tablets.

    The Libre Guy grabbed this screen from a terminal app on his Mi Pad, running the netstat command. What does it mean? I'll let him explain:

    What this means is that Xiaomi has a background app constantly running which establishes a connection with some backend servers as soon as you connect to the Internet. For example, as shown on the first line, an app is listening on the XMPP port and connected to the IP When I looked up this IP Address on the Internet, it was traced to some Chinese ISP, thus confirming my suspicion.

    What this essentially means is that the person on the other end of this connection may be doing anything to our device through this established tcp connection. Now, it could well be the case that the app is genuinely listening for an update or something, but as we all know, a backdoor such as this can be exploited by any hackers and used in unintended ways.
    Recalling that time I found ES File Explorer phoning home to China I immediately pulled my Redmi 1S out of storage and installed OS Monitor to see if I could find the same thing. Spoiler alert: Not really. ...
    by Published on 10-20-2016 07:00 AM
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    2. Devices,
    3. Commentary and Analysis
    Article Preview

    Wareable posted a feature this week using data gathered from various studies to paint a picture—in broad strokes—of the current wearable market. Sources include CCS Insight, NPD and First Insight (direct link to PDF).

    I'll admit that precious few of these "insights" are in any way surprising; the most encouraging data point for me is that there's a large potential market out there for cheaper hardware. And who doesn't want cheaper hardware?

    Anyway, read on for more! ...
    by Published on 10-19-2016 01:49 PM
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    2. Devices,
    3. Commentary and Analysis,
    4. Reviews and Hands-on
    Article Preview

    I’ve been playing with the Motorola Moto Z and some Moto Mod accessories for it. I recently checked out the JBL SoundBoost Speaker Moto Mod. Initially, I was unsure of how much sense a proprietary accessory would make, but Motorola managed to make it work and I loved the SoundBoost.

    Next up is their Moto Insta-Share Projector. It’s a pic projector that attaches to the back of a Motorola Moto Z family phone (currently there are 3 compatible Z family phones with presumably more to come). There are pogo plugs on the back of the projector which mate to connectors on the back of a Moto Z. It uses magnets to hold it in place which I assure you, hold it very securely. ...
    by Published on 10-19-2016 07:00 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices,
    3. Commentary and Analysis,
    4. Reviews and Hands-on

    Some embargo must have been lifted yesterday; around lunchtime my RSS feeds and YouTube queue were suddenly filled with reviews of Google's new iPhone, like the video you see here from The Verge's Dieter Bohn.

    This morning's plan was to post some links for your reading pleasure, but this longtime Nexus fan couldn't resist the urge to throw in his own snarky comments along with them. Let's start with Dieter, who says that the Pixel phones go "toe to toe" with the iPhone, and that the Pixel "doesn't fall down". This gets right to my fundamental problem with Pixel. It copies the iPhone so much, from its exorbitant price right down to the long-press actions on app icons, that it begs the question: Why wouldn't someone just buy an iPhone? ...
    by Published on 10-13-2016 08:44 AM
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    2. Devices,
    3. Commentary and Analysis,
    4. Reviews and Hands-on
    Article Preview

    I’ve been playing with a Motorola Moto Z and a few Moto Mod accessories for a few days and thought I’d share some thoughts on how they work together.

    But first off, I have to mention what really jumps out about the Z is just how thin it is. I mean how can something this skinny pack flagship specs? What’s more impressive is that they managed to do this without having to resort to a gigantic bezel or skimping on the battery capacity.

    They didn’t skimp on features either, on the back are series of 16 pogo pins which allow you to attach a variety of add-ons called Moto Mods. Motorola isn’t messing around either, they sent me 4 different Mods with the Z including:

    • a serious sounding speaker from JBL
    • external battery pack for extended Pokemon Go so I can finally catch enough Dratini to evolve it
    • Camera with 10x optical zoom from Hasselblad
    • Pico Projector so the wife and I can watch Brooklyn Nine Nine on the ceiling

    These can all attach to the back of the Moto Z using magnets. In case you’re wondering; Yes, they attach very securely - they won’t come off unless you want it to and even then it takes a bit of coaxing.

    As it turns out the thinness, allows the Z to stay manageable even when you have a Moto Mod attached.

    So, far the one I’ve used most is the JBL speaker. I’ll talk more about the other mods in another write up. It’s considerably thicker than the Z and at 145g it basically doubles the weight of the package. Fortunately it’s very sculpted so it doesn’t feel too strange in my hand when I have it connected.
    by Published on 10-13-2016 07:30 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices,
    3. Commentary and Analysis
    Article Preview

    $1,179 CAD. That's what Google Canada wants for a 128 GB Pixel XL. To say that I'm not interested would be a massive understatement.

    And it's not like I don't love gadgets; it's just that I buy enough of them to have a pretty good idea of what I'm willing to spend. As a reference, here's my own personal computer allowance:

    Desktop computer - $2,000 - upgraded every two to three years
    Laptop computer - $1,000 - upgraded every two to three years
    Smartphone - $500 - upgraded every year
    Smartwatch - $250 - upgraded every year

    But wait, you say, you can get a 32 GB Pixel for only $899 CAD. Yeah, no thanks... over the summer I bought a ThinkPad for the same price. ...
    by Published on 10-11-2016 07:00 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices,
    3. Commentary and Analysis
    Article Preview

    Samsung's strategy of beating Apple to market with their own flagship phablet has now completely, irreversibly and permanently backfired. Early this morning The Wall Street Journal reported that the product has been discontinued altogether.

    In Canada and the USA it was the carriers who bore the brunt of Note7 returns during the initial recall, and when it became clear that replacement devices were also faulty it was time to cut their losses—on Sunday AT&T decided to stop selling the Note7, followed soon after by Best Buy, Sprint and Verizon.

    For Samsung it's been a disaster on three fronts—manufacturing, sales and PR. A user of a faulty replacement Note7 received a text message from Samsung that was clearly not meant for him:

    Just now got this. I can try and slow him down if we think it will matter, or we just let him do what he keeps threatening to do and see if he does it
    All this has at least one mobile industry expert—Tomi Ahonen—to wonder if this is the end of the Note line altogether. According to him, the damage to Samsung's brand will last for at least a year, if not more. ...
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    Yes, it is possible you can be taxed on it. An...

    Yes, it is possible you can be taxed on it. An example of this was if your cellular provider offers you a "discounted, free or buy-one-get-one" device you still pay taxes on the retail value of the...

    veriztd Today, 01:34 PM Go to last post

    Are you referring to the call blocker I'm using...

    Are you referring to the call blocker I'm using (which is Calls Blacklist)? I think I've been using it for about 3 years. Only one instance of being charged for a missed call so far. Not sure if...

    a107 Today, 01:27 PM Go to last post

    Relztrah, no. That means ALL your apps are...

    Relztrah, no. That means ALL your apps are optimized, except for the ones you see in the list in your screenshot.

    To see the optimized apps, tap the dropdown arrow and select All apps.

    Boz1 Today, 01:26 PM Go to last post

    Thanks for the help! Sent from my SM-G988U1...

    Thanks for the help!

    Sent from my SM-G988U1 using HoFo mobile app

    ipoddave Today, 01:22 PM Go to last post

    Taxes on "free" features? "No-cost Feature Information" on my bill

    I saw this on my Verizon bill. Does this mean that they are charging me taxes on my "free" Disney+ account, and possibly even Apple Music, even though I'm not usingit?

    No-cost Feature Information...

    MisterBill Today, 01:17 PM Go to last post