Play It Big with Blackberry Passport

Blackberry Passport

A gadget with a bizarre design often gets people talking. While that is true about Passport, the latest handset by Blackberry, there are many other features about the phone that have caught people’s attention. Let us see what else there is to the phone that also has the most competitive specs among BlackBerry handsets.

The square shaped device is the first phone with a physical keyboard since the Motorola Droid 4 or the BlackBerry Q10. The unusual thing is that by modern smartphone standards, it is not a typical keyboard that we see on other phones. The Passport’s Qwerty keyboard is a flattened, hybrid setup with both physical and virtual elements and a uniquely placed traditional-looking space key.

That said, there’s more to the Passport than just its odd shape and size. The big-sized smartphone’s keyboard doubles as touchpad. With its robust build, the device also has a long battery life, which is one of the first things users look for in today’s fast-paced lives.

The Passport has a 3.5mm headphone jack and power button on the top, with micro-USB and micro-HDMI ports, as well as stereo speakers at the bottom. The right side of the phone features volume control buttons separated by a convenience key used for BlackBerry Assistant and media play or pause. Four mics suitably grace this big device, including one hidden in the phone’s earpiece. The phone also sports a 2MP front-facing camera above the display.

On the back of the phone lies its 13-megapixel camera with LED flash, as well as a removable section above the metal separator, which holds the nano-SIM and microSDXC slots. The handset’s sturdy and long-lasting battery is a hefty 3450mAh piece, which cannot be removed from the phone.

All in all, if size and shape don’t matter to you much, the Passport is the best BlackBerry 10 device to own, and comes with a number of flagship-quality specifications to give you a rich user experience.



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Nokia Lumia 830: The New Mid-Range Device

Nokia Lumia 830With an attempt to bring the metal frame and PureView camera branding of high-end Lumias down to the mid-range smartphone price level, the Lumia 830 with the freshly minted Microsoft Mobile is a smartphone priced at $100 with a two-year contract on AT&T ($450 contract-free). Although, such moves by big mobile companies run the risk of sending the wrong message when trying to lower the price. Whether Microsoft shaved too many corners off of the 830’s aluminum body is something time will tell. Meanwhile, here is a sneak peek into the good and bad about the phone.

The quad-core 1.2GHz Snapdragon 400 processor and 1GB of RAM powering the Lumia 830 seems to be an intentional move towards making the phone mid-range, but its general performance doesn’t leave too much to be desired. Apps launch and close swiftly, and general navigation around the Windows Phone 8.1 UI is fluid and bumble-free. Browsing mobile web pages is easy and smooth, with a tad bit of tiling when zooming in and out of desktop sites.

As far as the design is concerned, the ports and buttons are located in the typical Lumia style. The phone mostly sticks to the standard layout seen on many a Lumia we have seen in the past few years. The volume rocker lies to the right edge near the top whereas the power key is located right in the middle with the camera key toward the bottom. The headphone jack sits front and center along the top edge along with the micro-USB port up there as well (which is different from past phones). The Lumia 830 achieves a nice balance with its premium aluminum frame and mid-range internals. Those looking for a solid camera experience at this price range should take a good look. Unlike the 5MP front shooter on the lower-tier Lumia 735/730, the 0.9MP unit in the Lumia 830 phone is strictly average. It’s fine for quick snaps and Skype, but does not extend its reach beyond that.

All in all, The Lumia 830 has got the high-end looks and a capable camera of flagship-level phones, combined with the fair performance and display resolution of mid-range and budget models.

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With HTC One M8, You May Not Feel the Need to Switch At All

HTC One M8The HTC One M8 continues to be one of the more popular Android devices. Its high-resolution display and beautiful design have surely set a benchmark in handset designs such that it is quite comparable to the Apple phone designs.

The Snapdragon 801 processor has boosted the phone’s battery and processing speed dramatically which have certainly impacted gaming, movies, photography, and over all browsing in a grand manner. All of these superb features packed into the elegant metal (most of it) body are surely going to take the competition for a ride. The bigger 5in LCD display makes everything on the screen look more appealing and more clear. With a peak brightness of 491cd/m2 and sRGB color spectrum coverage of 93.7%, the M8 is among the best LCD screens seen in a smartphone, competing with the iPhone 5s in terms of brightness and contrast. Although the camera lacks a megapixel upgrade due to which pictures are a little less sharp than they would otherwise be, the speed of the Duo camera is great and is coupled with useful features. The front-facing BoomSound speakers are a great addition to the beautiful display of HTC One M8 that make watching YouTube videos a joy. The speakers are impressively loud, but also very clear, with no signs of distortion or clipping when pushed to their limits.

We urge you to hold this phone for a few seconds and try not to feel at least a small flicker of smartphone attraction. It’s got great specs, a splendid design and some clever hardware innovation at a time when the competition is holding on to software to do the same thing. All in all, the phone will be worth every penny that you invest in its purchase. It’s beautiful and has smart hardware to back it up.

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Sony Xperia Z3 Compact–Offering Great Stuff in a Small Package


Sony Xperia Z3 CompactIn the recent few years, many of the major smartphone players have resorted to introducing mini versions of their best-selling, high-end devices with an aim to satisfy those who still crave a smaller device. While the race has not been easy for these smartphone manufacturing giants as it’s difficult to include the high-end specs in a smaller chassis. Yet, Sony has managed to take things in stride by preserving as many high-end features as possible in its smaller devices. Its recent innovation in this domain is the new Xperia Z3 Compact (Z3C), which flaunts the best of the 5.2-inch Z3 into a 4.6-inch body, and is basically everything you could want in a smaller smartphone.

At a glance, the Z3C might not appear to be the most convenient device to carry. For starters, there’s a thin, sharp rim around the two glass panels on either side of the curved border, and the corners of the device are only slightly curved. Additionally, the back panel offers minimal grip because of the slick glass used. The phone is relatively small at 127 x 64.9 x 8.6mm (5 x 2.56 x 0.34 inches) and slightly heavier for a phone of this size, at 129g (4.55 ounces); yet its weight has no negative impact on its handling. Overall, it can be said that the phone will be received well by the audience. There’s undoubtedly a huge demand for big-screen devices, but with the Z1 Compact and newer Z3 Compact, Sony’s continuing to cater to those who want a smaller handset without giving up high-end specs.

The Xperia Z3 Compact includes an elegant design, a (mostly) good camera, strong computing power and spectacular battery life. Although the phone does not promise a great shooting experience because of its poor low-light camera, it settles the scores well with its high-end specs. Some of the best features of this small device are that it holds on for quite a while with its incredible battery life. With its top-tier performance and flagship design, the phone offers a smooth user experience and a build quality that is no different than the flagship model it imitates. All in all, the handset is reduced in size, but not capability.

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The Samsung Galaxy Note 4 Resembles a Mini Tablet

Samsung Galaxy Note 4Having experienced working on small gadgets fitting snugly in our pockets, we now enter the era of the phablet. The device that makes all other phones seem comically small is slowly becoming people’s favorite and an unexpected hit.

The bigger and better handset by Samsung may not be artwork but can certainly be termed a beautiful device. The Note 4 is quite usable as it has been made very thoughtfully. Even though bigger in size, it fits in your hands pretty nicely such that the buttons and the screen are intuitively placed and easily accessed. The stylus is almost invisible until you pull it out and unlock the device.

For those looking for Samsung’s traditional removable battery or SD card slot, the device won’t disappoint them. The thin back slips off effortlessly and reveals the strong 3220 mAh battery and a small slot for a MicroSD card. Although the back cover appears to be too thin and flimsy, it is sturdy enough to keep things safe in the back of the device.

The screen, which is a full 5.7 inches, displays 2,560 x 1,440 pixels at 515ppi. With such great specs, it offers a great experience for reading, drawing, and general use. For a phablet, the screen is actually the best part and is great for people who can’t see the font on smaller phones. As far as the phone’s camera is concerned, Samsung deserves accolades for packing so many pixels onto such a small surface. It has a Snapdragon 805 processor that runs a Quad-core Krait 450 CPU at up to 2.7 GHz per core. Flaunting such high-end specs, the phone assures fast service for everything.

Samsung has packed an entire laptop’s worth of features into its package of phablets and has indeed done a good job of it. The device is a solid, useful, and usable phone designed for users who need a bit more real estate or at least for those with big hands. For many, the device promises to make them phablet converts, and this is certainly the best of the breed.


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Treading a New Path: The Xperia Z3v

The Xperia Z3v

Sony’s latest handset, the Xperia Z3v, is a new age gadget that’s beaming with innovation. The smartphone is a waterproof device, something that is very difficult to offer in smartphones. Next, it can capture 4K video and plays high-resolution audio. And if you’re still looking for more, the device can even stream games from your PlayStation 4. With these unusual but much needed features, the phone has added to the telling technological bundle for the company’s latest flagship phone, a variant of the Xperia Z3. Sony Xperia Z3v is exclusive to Verizon in the U.S. and costs $199 with a two-year contract.

The great news for PlayStation owners is that the phone’s PS4 Remote Play adds an extra layer of convenience. It is able to stream gameplay from a PS4 console in real time. It does so with the optional mount costing $59.99 that fits onto a standard PlayStation controller

If you are a photography enthusiast, you will be glad to use this smartphone as it can shoot videos at 4K resolution, providing for a sharp and clean viewing experience. Equipped with a storage capacity of 32GB, you don’t need to bother yourself with the space the 4k resolution videos will grab. If need be, you can extend the storage up to 128GB using a microSD card.

With an impressive 20 megapixels, the rear camera has matched the pixel count of a good digital camera, making it redundant. The phone’s camera also comes with a bag of tricks to use the camera in the most creative ways. Playing high-res audio is definitely something that most phones can’t do, which makes this phone unique. It’s also equipped with digital noise cancellation technology.

Although this superb handset is available with only one carrier, which automatically limits its reach, it surely gives you a lot for your buck.


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Redefining Design: HTC Butterfly 2

HTC Butterfly 2

With its smooth feel and elegant looks, the HTC Butterfly 2 has given a new definition to smartphone designs. The stacked components inside the phone’s body render it a clean, curved back. Also, the phone’s edges narrow down at the corners allowing the phone to sit flawlessly on your palm. Although the Butterfly series may not be known as HTC’s defining series of handsets, it has come out to be one of the most capable cellphones that the company can flaunt. Boasting of a strong foundation, the HTC Butterfly 2 stands tall with a solid HD 5 inch screen, HTC’s trademark stereo speakers and HTC Sense 6.

With two spectacular handsets released prior, the HTC One (M8) as the fresh Windows Phone version and the more affordable HTC One (E8) with its polycarbonate body and mostly the same specifications, the HTC Butterfly 2 is the last one in the lineup. This also could explain why the phone is expected to be at par with the HTC One handsets. The HTC Butterfly 2 phone has a rich audio set up featuring Android 4.4.2 KitKat as its operating system. The display of the phone introduces new image technology that reduces color washout and enhances picture brightness.

The duo camera setup with portrait editing features and a 13 mega pixel primary sensor definitely boasts fresh technological advancements. For people with a higher dependency on their phones as storage devices, the device offers 16GB of built-in memory and provides for expanding that as well with a microSD card slot. The HTC Butterfly 2 is dust-protected and can go under water up to 1m deep for about 30 minutes, which it manages to do without any protective flaps over the 3.5mm headphone jack and the micro USB 2.0 port.

Inspired by simplicity and developed for high-end performance, the HTC Butterfly 2 combines peoples’ needs with their desires in order to bring out a phone that functions well and is fashionable too. For many, this might be enough to label the phone as HTC’s most viable option against the fast paced competition from Samsung and Sony mobiles.

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Verizon Backs Down on Throttling the Data Hungry

Government Cell Phone ServiceWe are all aware of how Verizon announced plans in July of this year to choke the connections of customers hungry for data, which the federal regulators termed as a disturbing move. However, the company is back tracking now.

Verizon is finally dropping its plan to decelerate the speeds of 4G connection for certain customers using the unlimited data plans. Concluding that it was a problem with unlimited data plans, Verizon quit offering them to new customers. However, subscribers who signed up for the unlimited plans before Verizon ditched them in 2012 were allowed to keep those plans, of course, only if they pay the full price after they get a new phone. The wireless giant said in July that it would periodically slow the connection speeds of those customers when the network usage would be heavier, only if they fall within the top 5% of data users.

The company set out with the move in July hoping that this would help it manage its network. But network management was rejected as an explanation by the federal regulators for pacing down the connections of paying customers. Rather, it was interpreted that the company was trying to buy people into plans based on their usage, for which the customers would have to purchase by the gigabyte.

In the current week, Verizon said that honoring the ongoing dialogue over the last few months regarding network optimization, they have prepared themselves to step back from the expected move that they had announced back in July. Although the move by the company is being seen as a strategy to appease the federal regulators, Verizon has actually been successful in doing so. The revised decision shared by the wireless company this week has been received well by the regulators as well as critics.

Mobile connections vary from broadband because the wireless spectrum is an exhaustible resource, which means that the management of traffic becomes relatively more challenging for network carriers. However, this does not exempt them from becoming part of any new regulations, more so when the FCC mentioned that they might also roll out new regulations pertaining to net neutrality for the mobile web.

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Motorola’s Moto X: The Next Big in the Android Phone Market

Motorola’s Moto X

Motorola’s Moto X

As we slowly become used to carrying huge handsets for all our needs, be it calling, net surfing or even video calls, it only adds a pinch of ease to our lives to hold something like the slim and light-weight second-generation Moto X. This 5.2-inch android phone with 1080p OLED screen sporting gorilla glass is definitely a step ahead in the space when compared with the latest android phones available in the market today.

The steel device comes with a small dimple at its back to help position your finger while clasping the phone. The company, which is still on thin ice, at least in terms of its market share, has thrown everything it can into materials to get this smart phone the features it has.

The phone has only two buttons – a rocker for the volume and a single multi-functional button on the right. A large 13-megapixel camera sits nicely at the back of the handset and a smaller 2-megapixel camera adorns the front. Among the many unusual ways this phone makes use of the camera, one of them allows you to wake the phone up by moving your hand in front of it to see notifications. Conversely, you can also bring back the phone from its sleep position and talk to it by setting a unique “wake up call,” “Hey, Moto, what’s up?” or a similar voice recognition pattern. These two features appear to be a bit uncomfortable initially because the phone consistently perks up while it’s at rest. However, the features do not reduce the phone’s battery life, which lasts about a day on one charge.

For folks looking to upgrade their original Moto X, another excellent flagship phone by Motorola, this model is a good bet. It is also slightly bigger than the older Moto X and is a better product. The materials used are excellent and the phone fits well in the hand. Last but not the least, this Moto X also boasts of an excellent Geekbench score. Clocking in at 979, a few points higher than the M8 and considerably higher than the original flagship phone of Motorola, the 2.5GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 chip certainly brightens up this second-generation Motorola device.

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Apple’s iOS 8 Finally Arrives Beaming with New Features

Apple iOS 8

The eighth release of Apple’s awaited mobile operating system, iOS 8, was finally announced at the Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) 2014. Adding new aspects, iOS 8 is indeed beaming with a plethora of new features as well as the enhanced old ones to provide a better user experience. Below are some highlights of the amazing features of this platform.

  • Interactive Notifications: Notifications in this version permit the user to respond to texts without leaving an app already in use.
  • Health Hub: The biggest new addition in iOS 8 is this app that collects your health and fitness data. Not only this, the health data will also pour in from external accessories, like Nike’s armbands etc.
  • Multitasking View: The new multitasking view shows a list running apps, recently called numbers as well as frequent contacts.
  • QuickType: QuickType, which is used for predictive typing will suggest whole phrases, based on what you have typed, and not only your word choices. Additionally, iOS 8 allows installation of third-party keyboards.
  • Family Sharing: The feature called Family Sharing has made it possible to create a family group of up to six with individual Apple IDs that can share a single set of iTunes media, App Store content and more.
  • Siri: In iOS 8, the always-on Siri features the Shazam song recognition service and flaunts streaming voice recognition and 22 new dictation languages.
  • Photos App: The Photos app now offers even more options to edit photos. The so-called Smart Editing has become richer, easier, and will now sync edited photos across devices.

Developers got their hands on iOS 8 earlier but users with compatible iDevices had to wait until September 17th to upgrade to the next iteration of Apple’s mobile platform. Make sure your apps take advantage of all the great new features in iOS 8, which is now available to hundreds of millions of customers around the world as a free download.

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