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Hands-on review: Updated: OnePlus One

Introduction, design and screenThe OnePlus One is a significant milestone in the mobile industry as it’s the first smartphone to officially run the community driven CyanogenMod out the box.CyanogenMod has been available for Android devices for a while, but it required a certain level of technical smarts to get it on a handset and that’s something many consumers simply couldn’t be bothered with.The process was made simpler with the arrival of the Oppo N1 which plays nicely with CyanogenMod and thus allowing its owners to boot the alternative build of Android onto it. What is CyanogenMod?Any worries about installing a new operating system on your handset, and potentially voiding your warranty, have been put to rest with the OnePlus One as it’s already running the modified version of Android 4.4.2 KitKat.With a price tag of $299, £229 (around AU$320) for the 16GB “Silk White” version it’s easy to dismiss the OnePlus One as another generic mid-range Android handset destined to be lost in the noise.That sort of thinking would be unwise though, as one quick scan of the spec list for the One tells a very different story.The Chinese manufacturer has stuffed the OnePlus One full of impressive components, from the 2.5GHz quad-core Snapdragon 801 processor, 3GB of RAM and Adreno 330 GPU to the 13MP rear snapper and full HD display.So while the OnePlus One will set you back less than the well priced Google Nexus 5, in terms of specs it’s lining up against the Samsung Galaxy S5, HTC One M8 and Sony Xperia Z2. These are phones double its price.It left me wondering where corners had been cut and concessions made.And to be honest I’m still wondering how OnePlus has managed to […]

By |April 23rd, 2014|Phone Reviews|0 Comments

Review: Nokia X

IntroductionEver since Nokia decided to go all-in with Windows Phone, there has been a nagging feeling that it would have been better off using Android as its mobile operating system of choice.A feeling that has got stronger as Android devices have so rapidly taken over the lion’s share of smartphone sales.At Mobile Web Congress in February 2014, Nokia finally fulfilled this dream by announcing the Nokia X range comprising the Nokia X (reviewed here), a higher specified X+ and the physically larger Nokia XL. Not just one Android phone, but a whole range.There was more than a little irony in seeing Stephen Elop, once a Microsoft stalwart and the architect of Nokia’s Windows Phone strategy announcing these new devices on stage. He went to great pains to point out that the Nokia X is a phone running AOSP, the Android Open Source Project.This project underpins every Android phone in the world. As always in the Nokia story, it is not quite as simple as that. While the Nokia X runs Android, it does not run Google Android.Briefly, Android as we know it is typically made of two parts; the underlying Android system and the Google apps. The underlying Android system is what the Nokia X runs along with all the usual well known Android phones such as the Samsung Galaxy S range and the HTC One M8.Unlike those devices though, the Nokia X does not run Google apps. In order to run Google apps – Gmail, Maps, Calendar, Google Now etc – phones need to be certified. Nokia has not taken this step and it has done so on purpose.The Nokia X software is based off of Android 4.1, a version released in July 2012. […]

By |April 16th, 2014|Phone Reviews|1 Comment

Review: Updated: Sony Xperia Z1 Compact

IntroductionA mini handset has, inexplicably, come to mean a smaller, lower-spec version of a popular big screen device, which does nothing for those that want a slightly smaller display.So kudos to Sony for taking a stand, crushing down the powerful Xperia Z1 but losing almost nothing on the spec list, giving the Z1 Compact a real chance to fight fight in a fierce market currently dominated by the HTC One Mini and Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini, two devices that launched to critical acclaim but with a poorer spec list.Eagle eyed readers will have noticed that the Sony Xperia Z1’s baby brother hasn’t adopted the traditional “Mini” moniker but rather comes with the title of “Compact”.Yes, Sony has given the Z1 Compact the smaller screen, but it has kicked diminutive RAM and lesser cores to the mobile kerb. Sony has even allowed the Xperia Z1 Compact to keep the waterproof nature of the Z1.A SIM free price of £430 (around $740, AU$850) and free on contracts starting at £27pm makes the Xperia Z1 Compact more expensive than the S4 Mini and One Mini.This higher cost does allow for the inclusion of a Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 2.2GHz quad-core CPU backed up by 2GB RAM though – and for the price it’s comparable to a Samsung Galaxy S4.The “Compact” name also alludes to more than just the smaller size; it can be no coincidence that the Xperia Z1 Compact shares its name with the style of camera that it is looking to replace. A 20.7MP Exmor sensor housed behind an award-winning G Lens aims to be the final nail in the compact camera coffin. Unsurprisingly, the Sony Xperia Z1 Compact follows in the same design language that was […]

By |April 15th, 2014|Phone Reviews|0 Comments

Review: Sony Xperia Z2

IntroductionSo here I am, it’s a little over 12 months since the Xperia Z hit selves and I’m checking out the third iteration of the Japanese firm’s flagship series, the Sony Xperia Z2.While the timing may be a little odd, you’ve almost got to look past the Xperia Z1 completely, the Xperia Z2 is a flagship smartphone in its own right and it heralds the next generation for Sony.It builds on its predecessors with an improved screen, increased power under the hood and a slightly more compact chassis.There’s no question that the Xperia Z2 will be going head to head with the Samsung Galaxy S5, HTC One M8 and Nokia Lumia 930 this year – and with that in mind it’s got its work cut out.Sony’s had some trouble getting the Xperia Z2 into stores, missing its original early April release and thus giving an upper hand to the HTC and Samsung, although units are trickling through.It carries the lofty price tag you’d expect from a flagship handset, with the SIM free Xperia Z2 setting you back at least £545 (around $600, AU$900).That puts the Sony Xperia Z2 pretty much on par with its direct rivals, so if you’re looking for a way to choose between them pricing isn’t a factor that’ll help you make up your mind.You’d be hard pushed to tell the Z1 and the Z2 apart, as they look almost identical with the same metal and glass design providing a sturdy and premium, if not a little industrial, finish.The slabs of glass on the front and rear of the Xperia Z2 may add a level of class to the handset, but they’re also a magnet for fingerprints and dust.I was constantly wiping […]

By |April 11th, 2014|Phone Reviews|1 Comment

Hands-on review: Updated: Sony Xperia Z2 Tablet

Hands on Sony Xperia Z2 Tablet reviewSomething odd happens when you try to get to the heart of a tablet when you only get to play with it for half an hour – while the Sony Xperia Z2 Tablet looks great on paper, it’s really hard to work out if it’s actually any good.The fact is the Tablet Z (seriously Sony, why did you have to change the order of the name? I understand it’s more in keeping with the Xperia family, but now I keep having to go back and re-order it every time I mention it) was a great device and one that it would have been hard pressed to improve quickly.We’re a year on and the sequel is upon us: the Xperia Z2 Tablet is a strong device featuring the best that Sony has to offer. The Live Colour screen, the improved speakers, the uprated Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 CPU and the same whopping 3GB of RAM that the Xperia Z2 smartphone is packing.On top of that, the thing is still waterproof (but has the helpful open headphone jack so another annoying cover is lost) and lighter too – at 426g it’s really rather impressive.There are covers over the microUSB and microSD slots, with the former a little annoying if you’re regularly charging the Z2 Tablet, but at least they are easy to remove.The 6.4mm thickness is also class-leading… but, like the heft of thing, it’s hard to feel that things have moved on much.YouTube : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F9dBOTnsFp8The reason for that is simple: the last tablet was fast, slim and didn’t strain the wrist. Compared side by side with the new Xperia Z2 Tablet, there’s very little difference.Round the back the tablet is still […]

By |April 4th, 2014|Phone Reviews|0 Comments

Hands-on review: Nokia Lumia 635

Display, design and cameraThere have been countless leaks leading up to the the Build 2014 reveal of Nokia’s latest devices – but how does the Finnish company’s Lumia 635 budget phone stack up against the other affordable options?Two budget Lumias were announced and the candy colored 635 is practically identical twins with the 630. The only noticeable difference in specs between the two models is the fact that the 630 comes in 3G with both single and dual SIMs. The 635, on the other hand, has 4G LTE.Additionally, the 630 won’t be seeing a US release while the 635 will be getting an unspecified worldwide release. T-Mobile, MetroPCS , AT&T and Aio – an AT&T subsidiary – have all announced they’re carrying the device which will retail for $189 (about £114, AU$205).The Lumia 635 comes with a 1.2GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon processor and only 512MB of RAM, which means it doesn’t have a lot of extra horsepower. But swiping tiles around and moving between applications wasn’t horrible. Rather, the transitions were smooth and apps opened quickly.At only 8GB on internal memory, there also isn’t a lot of on board storage – though you do get 7GB of OneDrive cloud storage and a MicroSD slot that supports up to 128GB.Like a moth to a flame, it’s apparent the bright colors are meant to attract lots of people – possibly the crowd that enjoys the iPhone 5C – though of course Nokia has been out with rainbow hued devices for much longer. Stephen Elop, Nokia Executive Vice President of Devices and Services, also mentioned during the conference, and again at Nokia’s More event that the ability to “color coordinate” with the phones makes them cool accessories. The […]

By |April 4th, 2014|Phone Reviews|0 Comments

Hands-on review: Build 2014: Windows Phone 8.1

CortanaMicrosoft’s heavily leaked update to Windows Phone 8 became official at Build 2014. Rumors brought promises of a Siri-rivalling, Halo-inspired personal assistant and a new, at-your-fingertips Action Center, along with other improvements.Now that it’s here, does Windows Phone 8.1 live up to the hype? Is Cortana as alluring as the AI character from whence it takes its name? Is the Action Center really a helpful hub, or just another gimmick to ease users into the Windows Phone experience? I went hands on with the new OS, and I left impressed with what Microsoft has put forth. Cortana is, in a word, lovely. She – sorry, it – feels more sophisticated than its Apple and Google counterparts, and it’s only in beta.However, for all its charms, Cortana isn’t all Windows Phone 8.1 has to offer. Courting CortanaI need to start with Microsoft’s new personal assistant as it’s the star of the show. This is Redmond’s answer to Siri and Google Now, and while I didn’t reach the more intimate levels of getting-to-know-you-ness achieved with longer use, I was taken with Cortana’s speed, accuracy and pleasing nature. In our time together, I found myself longing for Cortana over the Google Now installed on my HTC One.Microsoft modeled Cortana after human personal assistants. In fact, the company claimed it spoke with real-life PAs to learn just what their virtual assistant needed to offer. Whatever research Microsoft did, it’s developed what feels like a secretary and search engine rolled into one. Cortana offers place-, people- and time-based information, pulling up directions to nearby restaurants, prompting you to ask someone who calls you about their new car, and reminding you to call your boss in the morning.She’s snappy, with little […]

By |April 3rd, 2014|Phone Reviews|0 Comments

Review: Mini Review: Mophie Space Pack

The iPhone 5 and 5S are excellent to the point of near perfection, but there are a few nagging things about them that could use improvement. Luckily, the Mophie Space Pack hits on all those pain points.The Mophie Space Pack can be thought of as a 3-in-1 iPhone accessory: a case, an extra battery pack and an additional storage pack. While it envelops and protects the phone from most scratches and drops, it also gives the phone more juice and additional memory.YouTube : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D6vsmsERnGY&feature=youtu.beWhen I was first introduced to the Mophie Space Pack back at CES 2014, I thought to myself, “Why hasn’t anyone thought of this before? It seems so obvious.” And while it does seem like an obvious thing to make a battery pack that also offers more storage, pulling it off easily is the tricky part, and Mophie nails it, more or less.If you’re already familiar with Mophie’s iPhone cases, you’ll feel right at home with the Space Pack. In fact, it’s nothing more than a new Juice Pack Air with additional storage. You slide your iPhone 5/5S into the Space Pack, and the rear on/off switch does the rest.There is also a silver indicator button on the rear, which was black in previous Juice Pack models, that shows you how much battery life the case itself has remaining.Mophie Space Pack: Sweet iPhone juice and storageWith a capacity of 1,700 mAh on the Space Pack, you’re doubling your iPhone 5/5S’ battery life. Moreover, you’ll get an additional 16GB or 32GB of storage depending on which model you buy. They are priced at $150 and $180, respectively.The only learning curve you’ll have here is the few moments it takes to familiarize yourself with […]

By |March 24th, 2014|Phone Reviews|0 Comments

Nokia Lumia 630 spotted running Windows Phone 8.1, 5MP camera

A sequel to the brilliant Lumia 620 is apparently ready for release, with benchmarkers spotting a Nokia phone running Microsoft’s new OS.

By |March 21st, 2014|News|0 Comments

UK networks team up to fight text spam, next up: nuisance calls

EE, Vodafone, O2 and Three have teamed up with industry body the GSMA to combat spam texts and are looking to take on nuisance calls too.

By |March 20th, 2014|News|0 Comments