HTC One M9: Better with Each Passing Year

As one of the most sought after cellphone brands in the market, HTC is known for its efforts to keep polishing its hit formula showcased in its previous handsets until it finally reaches the ideal it has been working toward. That’s what the company has attempted to bring forward with the HTC One M9.

Potential users would be glad to know that in most ways, the new handset is indeed a thoughtful refinement of the predecessors of the One series and the complaints, if any, form those devices haven’t gone unheard by the makers.

Hardware

While it becomes irresistible to compare the M9 to the One series phones that came before it, it is an interesting comparison. HTC’s new flagship phone channels more of the original One M7’s angular structure and has the same sloping back. The major improvement however, strikes with a more potent camera that is a square-shaped, sapphire-covered pod hosting a rather traditional shooter with 20-megapixels. Besides that, even the nano-SIM and microSD card slots sit nicely into the left and right edges of the handset. The microSD card slot takes cards up to a thumping 2 terabytes. How the phone looks is also more or less the same as its predecessors. However, the changes seem noticeable when you look at that 5-inch, 1080p screen fitted with incredible subtlety. The phone houses one of Qualcomm’s Octa-core Snapdragon 810s, 3GB of DDR4 RAM, 32GB of storage and support for super-fast LTE Cat 9 data speeds.htc new

Software

HTC has done a pretty good job of dialing back its influence on Android over the past few generations, and has brought out a version of Sense that is both smarter and great at getting out of your way when you want it to. If you’ve worked with the M8, you’ll feel a great sense of familiarity with the new handset by HTC. The new gadget has just about all the software features that The M8 flaunted on top of Android 5.0.2. It also comes with a few other smart and fresh bits.

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Camera

When shot in bright, proper lighting, the M9 brings out detailed photographs with nicely reproduced colors, although they can be a little washed out compared to the M8. As such, the 20-megapixel camera is a great photographic channel on the phone and does try to keep you happy along the way even if it does not look very elegant.

htc3Speaking of the cellphone in a nutshell, it definitely scores well in performance and has a top-tier build. Sense 7 is a thoughtful feature too and the phone’s quick charging option works well. On the downside, the main camera of the phone is a bit lackluster and the battery too seems to be a bit slight. However, the phone is a remarkable piece from one of the greatest phone makers we have. So go for it!

Amazon Fire Phone: Simply Unique or Good Enough?

This is the phone with which Amazon plunged into the smart phone industry. The Amazon Fire phone was launched with many a unique features and has done pretty well for itself and the users. We dig a little deeper here to figure out exactly what the device has in store.

Hardware

Amazon seems to have put a lot of effort in the Fire phone’s innovative features and perhaps lost focus on making the device appealing. The Fire phone appears more to be a prototype than a phone with a competitive look and design. Looks should have been even more import for them at a time when well-designed gadgets like the iPhone 5s, LG G3 and HTC One M8 have already hit the market with a bang. The Fire definitely feels thicker than all of these phones because of its blocky design. It is thicker than the iPhone 5s and Galaxy S5, just as thick as the LG G3 and thinner than the One M8 and Moto X
amazonSoftware

The phone comes with Fire OS 3.5, a proprietary operating system based on the Android 4.2 open-source platform (AOSP). It is quite similar to the concept used for the Nokia X and other devices sold in China in order to provide more flexibility to the manufacturers to build what they desire without being bound to use Google Play Services. Fire OS is more or less about Amazon and features Instant Video, Kindle books, Newsstand, Audible audiobooks, music, and games. If you want to download apps, you’ll need to use the Amazon Appstore for it, which features about 240,000 titles.

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Camera

What we like about the Fire is that Amazon didn’t compromise even a bit on its imaging performance. The camera boasts of a 13-megapixel sensor with a five-element lens, f/2.0 aperture and optical image stabilization (OIS). What it captures clearly beat out the iPhone 5s and Galaxy S5. The camera takes great shots with appropriate detailing.

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Snapshot

PROS

CONS

Mayday assures quick access to tech support

Exclusive to AT&T, no global options

Comes with free Prime membership for a year

3D effects can lead to motion sickness

Call quality is good

Restricted ecosystem

Dynamic Perspective; Firefly needs improvement

Features interfere with battery and performance

Verdict

To cut the long story short, Amazon has indeed tried to bring out the best in its debut phone, there isn’t much of an incentive for users to switch carriers or platforms to purchase it. Its unique features don’t seem to offer enough utility, and come at the expense of both battery life and performance.

The Budget Smartphone Moto G

budget smartphone

It’s no news how Moto G took everyone by surprise when it was first introduced as the perfect budget cellphone. With a small price tag of under $200 and off-contract availability, it was indeed easy for people to mellow down their expectations of the device and not anticipate it to be the quickest or the smartest of the lot. But the Moto G was a surprise. It was one of those gadgets that ended up being more than simply satisfactory. Both the price as well as performance of the Moto G has been one of the best in the industry and it has rocketed to the top of the list as one of the best “cheap” smart phones one could own.

So here we are a year later, presenting the new Moto G, which isn’t much of a game changer and we pause here to ask, does it really have to be one? What we actually need to figure out is if this year’s model has met the standards set by its predecessor and is superior in any way? For what we know, the new Moto G flaunts a camera that is undoubtedly better than the original one. The Android 4.4.4 interface is a treat and will be liked by one and all. The device also feels crisp in hand despite the aging internals. And let’s face it, it is pretty darn inexpensive. A smartphone for the same price is not available anywhere with similar performance standards. While there are numerous pros to this new model, it is not without a few cons. The device has no LTE support. Also, the screen of this model isn’t very crisp as compared to the previous year’s model.

Moto G looks much like last year’s batch of Motorola devices with only a few noteworthy differences. The phone does have a more expansive, 5-inch 720p display and barely has any edges on the left and right. Also, a shiny pair of front-facing speakers above and below the screen help the Moto G impersonate the Moto E quite convincingly. On top, the tiny notification light glows the moment someone sends across an email or texts on your Facebook wall. All in all, that is what the device has to offer in terms of the visual appeal. However, the good news is that Motorola’s wallet-friendly strategy hasn’t changed a lot since the previous year’s release of Moto G, and that works pretty well for all of us!

OnePlus One: A Refreshingly Good Looking Cell Phone

oneplusone

This cell phone’s motto, “Never Settle,” says it all when it comes to the Chinese company’s mission of making and selling the perfect smartphone. Its first attempt is the One, which is a premium-looking cellphone with customizable top-shelf specs. The best part? It is afford ably priced at $299 unlocked and free of contract, which is far less expensive than many other handsets that do not offer what this phone has to offer. While it does sound like the One is too good to be true, we wanted to see if indeed it is.

The OnePlus One actually does not appear to be a phone costing $299. Its arched spine, polycarbonate build, elegant chassis and amazing specifications can easily make someone mistake it for a much costlier phone. In a way, that could probably be because various other companies in the market are trying to market their own devices with such features for a much higher price.

One would certainly wonder then as to how a startup like OnePlus has priced its flagship device at a lower cost than many of its peers. In a way, the company doesn’t seem to be going after big money for a while. OnePlus has no track record to rely on apart from the fact that its founder and much of its workforce came over from Oppo, which has a reputation for making great devices (but at a much higher price). In that respect, keeping the price down is quite an investment for the company in its nascent stage.

The phone is indeed a great value for money. It has a fantastic display and a premium hardware. Boasting of top-of-the-line specifications, the firmware is as customizable as you can get. While there are minor stutters in the processor-intensive tasks, the phone overall offers for a smooth user experience. It has a low speaker volume which can also be easily managed.

For a price of $300, there is actually no other phone coming close to what the OnePlus One offers. Not only does it look and feel like a premium device, but it also offers the amazing specifications you look for in a flagship smartphone. So if you’re really looking for a high-end phone on a budget, your search ends here.

LG G Flex2: Has the Phone come up the Curve?

lg flex

The new G Flex2 is out and is making heads turn. It is smaller and is way sleeker and better looking than its predecessor. It does bring up some questions though about the strangely curved screens which has more to do with the phone’s design than its functionality. And this is not all. With all the new gimmicks and features this phone has to offer, let’s figure out if it’s actually worth buying.

The G Flex2 is LG’s latest flexible flagship phone, and it certainly shows improvements on its predecessor in more ways than one. It is indeed stylish, has good horsepower, and displays a better screen. The smart phone is one of the nicest curved phones that have appeared on scene till date but more or less, that is essentially all that it will be known for.

In many ways, however, the G Flex2 is indeed better and brighter than the original version. It is definitely a thought through refinement of everything that held back its ancestor. With the exception of the necessary microphone, headphone jack, a micro-USB port below and a teeny Infra-Red blaster atop, the edges of the phone are completely empty. The company has yet again placed the power and volume buttons onto the back of the phone, below the main 13-megapixel camera and laser autofocus module.

It’s no wonder that the phone has a gorgeous, stunning design and boasts of great video and gaming experience, few of the stock lollipop features in the handset are actually missing. The phone has a good camera and offers n easily changeable battery. However, its custom user interface seems a bit off and slow resulting in an overall lag in the phone’s usability. With a front-facing camera that doesn’t seem very promising, the phone wouldn’t be able to impress those with a fetish for clicking selfies.

BlackBerry Classic: A Blast from the Past

blackberry

For all of BlackBerry’s most ardent fans who still miss the times when QWERTY keyboards ruled the cellphone arena, with their efficient sets, the big news is that BlackBerry Classic has finally arrived. Although the name says it all, we must still dive deep to see what this phone brings with its blend of modern and classic features and feel to figure whether or not it is worth your money.

The BlackBerry Classic is sturdy and solidly constructed such that it looks like less of a phone and more of a tool. One thing this handset doesn’t share with its previous versions is the ability to shed the rear cover for a quick restart or the needed swap of batteries. The good thing, as will be appreciated by most BlackBerry fans, is that its physical QWERTY keyboard still rocks the way it used to do. On the other hand, finding or installing apps is a little cumbersome. In some areas, you might experience hit-or-miss performance which is certainly not a plus. Among other things that are not so good about the phone, is that the battery is not removable – at least not by yourself. The camera is mediocre and will serve the average user but those with higher expectations will definitely want something better. But besides all the not-so-good things, the device is loaded with useful and interesting software touches which give it the required refreshing touch. Regardless of the features and specifications, the phone’s throwback design will be loved by BlackBerry fans.

The front of the phone is just the sort of blast from the past that everyone is likely to expect. The historic look seems complete with the old notification light that will pulse as soon as an email hits your inbox. A 2-megapixel fixed-focus camera also sits nicely above the 3.5-inch square 720p screen. However, with slightly lower performance and an app system that will require quite a bit of getting used to, the Classic is indeed best suited for absolute die-hard productivity seekers and devoted BlackBerry fans.

 

 

World’s First Ubuntu Phone – BQ Aquaris E4.5

Ubuntu Phone

After an entire year of talks doing the rounds about Ubuntu’s first smartphone and everyone getting curious, the British company Canonical has finally managed to bring the world’s first Ubuntu operated phone – BQ Aquaris E4.5 to the market. The smartphone has been developed by BQ, a Spanish company, and will initially be available in Europe. This rebellious phone will definitely change the way of interaction as seen in existing smartphones.

Interestingly, the Ubuntu arrives without any apps. Instead, the device introduces “Scopes”–a modified look into the mobile user interface. Scopes are “simple” dashboards that resemble Android widgets and will be responsible for integrating content and services in an excitingly new user friendly way. They will bring in content like music, videos and news in a series of home screens instead of separate players and apps rather than just laying them separately in grids the way it happens in Android and iOS based phones. This will make it easy and comfortable for users and will save them the inconvenience of scrolling through screens of icons to find their app.

The Aquaris E4.5 is powered by a MediaTek SoC with 1.3GHz quad-core processor with an internal storage that sports 8GB and can be further expanded through a MicroSD slot. The smartphone features a 4.5 inch qHD display with 960×540 pixels of resolution, an 8 megapixel rear camera and a 5 megapixel front-facing camera. All these are the kinds of specs that the urban consumer looks for in a handset and so we expect that those searching for such features will find their answers in this new device by Canonical. The phone has Dual SIM support and the battery capacity is 2150mAh, stuffed in a 137 x 67 x 9 mm body weighing 123 grams. For those who largely depend on their phone cameras for all kinds of picture captures, this handset seems to have delightful specifications. Its main camera, in particular, features autofocus, dual flash and full HD (1080p) recording ability. It is also equipped with high-quality BSI sensors and a Largan lens.

The operating system isn’t the only thing that is different in this phone. Unlike other mobiles, this smartphone will be sold in a completely different way. It will come out in flash sales that will continue for only a limited time.

Ubuntu is a totally different concept in mobile operating systems. It is an ‘upstart OS’–a potential alternative to Android or iPhone. The BQ Aquaris E4.5 Ubuntu Edition will be showcased at the industry trade show Mobile World Congress 2015.

The LG G2 Review

lg g2 reviewWith the smartphone market getting more competitive by the day, LG decided to make a major change to its flagship phone LG G2’s physical appearance. Yes, the distinctly attractive device has three of the buttons on the backside. The mobile manufacturer has come to observe that the viability of utilizing the sides of handsets needs to be explored owing to the bigger sizes that are available.

The G2 model of LG has achieved a middle ground between the Optimus G and the Pro, size-wise, breaking through the screen barrier of 5 inches with a screen that is a bright 5.2 inches big and 1080p IPS. The rest of the features of the device are similar to any other flagship Android phone that are it’s peers. The features include optical image stabilization, remote control blaster, a mixed bag of proprietary software features and Android 4.2.2. Some other new features include 24-bit / 192 kHz audio recording and playback. The phone was expected to be the first Snapdragon 800-powered smartphone to reach US stores. The processor is one of Qualcomm’s most potent mobile processors even today.

There are many reasons one would like to buy this phone. It has an amazing battery life suited to the needs of users today, who are almost always on the go and do need to use their mobile devices when not plugged in. For such users, the LG G2 extends great battery support and utility value. The bright, expansive 1080p screen of the phone is another feather in the hat for the device. It is large and clear enough to provide the user with a nice viewing experience. Among other things, as listed above, the phone has buttons on the back, which seem to be a unique placement. Whether the manufacturers have successfully leveraged the available space adding a certain value to the list of features or simply used the back space to stand out from the rest, only time and users can tell.

Among the good things, there are some areas where the handset has not done really well. For example, it is known to have an inconsistent camera function. Now this is a big no-no for customers of today who require good cameras in handsets as a major utility feature. Also, some of the software additions seem redundant in the phone.

Still, all said and done, the device has fared pretty well among its peers and has lived up to many of the user’s expectations. So those who own it do have reasons to enjoy using it and those who don’t certainly have reasons to own one!

The Most Epic Flagship Phone of the Year – Xiaomi Mi Note

The Most Epic Flagship Phone of the Year - Xiaomi Mi Note

Xiaomi released its latest flagship handset this month to the global market and was received with a huge fanfare. Mi Note boasts of impressive specs – packing more RAM, a bigger battery, and more powerful camera. While everybody was expecting Xiaomi to launch the Mi 5 as well as the phablet Note 2, it came as a shock when the Chinese smartphone maker launched the Xiaomi Mi Note at an event. The Xiaomi Mi Note‘s refined steel and glass design is as good as it can get. With its trim design, powerful hardware and camera, the Mi Note is a premium high-end phone that sets the benchmark for the company’s upcoming flagships, all while selling at a much more affordable price than competing phablets. The Mi Note is Xiaomi’s most expensive phone to date and is the company’s first step out of the low-to-mid-range price market.

The 5.7-inch Mi Note is designed to be slimmer than the iPhone 6 Plus and with a larger display, while boldly borrowing its name from Samsung’s Galaxy Note series. Its full, high-definition display has a resolution of 1,920 x 1,080 pixels, which equates to a pixel density of about 390 ppi (pixels per inch) and 1400:1 contrast ratio. Xiaomi has used ‘Dynamic Contrast Pixel Adjustment Technology’ which automatically improves contrast in darker areas to make pictures in the phone appear better. The phone weighs 162 grams and is actually a hair’s breadth thinner at a thickness of 6.95mm.

Inside is a Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 processor, 3GB RAM, 16/32GB storage and a 3,000 mAh battery. Xiaomi crams a 13MP Camera with optical image stabilization and two-tone flash on the rear while the front camera is a 4MP unit with a larger sensor than usual.

With both a curved glass front and rear, the Mi Note opts for rounded edges that resemble Apple’s iPhone 6 Plus on the front, but the rear curved glass (Xiaomi calls this 3D glass) is more like the bend of Samsung’s Note Edge without it being a display, of course.

Apart from the devices themselves, Xiaomi also launched some new accessories including an over the ear headphone and the Mi Box Mini media player.

Feel Light with Sony Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact

sony tablet

Sony’s latest slate, the Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact is a nice smart device if you have a penchant for owning light-weighing gadgets. Now, when you hear the name, do not make judgments on its size based on the moniker. Beware that Sony refers to the 8-inch tablet as compact to merely classify it from its two erstwhile 10.1-inch devices. The company has so far lived up to the consumers’ expectations of the quality of its premium product and gladly continues to do so. The two smartphones that make up the remaining Z3 family have taken people by surprise and satisfied. Sony’s latest tablet is next in that legacy of good quality devices. With elegant looks and powerful features, the Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact has many feathers in its hat to keep you interested.

To start with, the body has a thin and light design with an amazingly beautiful display. With such aesthetic presentation, it does not lag behind in performance. The device is quick with its functions and has a long battery life. Although it’s expensive when compared to flagship tablets available in the market that have similar sizes, the strong and useful features justify the pricing. For those looking to utilize the camera of their tablet devices, the Tablet Compact may not be a delightful experience.

Sony has previously experimented with many off-beat designs, but now it tends to take a clear no-nonsense approach. The Tablet Compact has an intentional, square profile, rounding slightly only on the corners and sides. While some might feel that the device looks boring because of it, there are others who regard it as stylishly simple.

All said and done, Sony’s Z3 Tablet Compact is a well-designed and well-constructed device. It is thin and light to rest in your hands and has a noteworthy display. Its brisk performance and long battery life make it quite a promising device to buy. Although the price of the piece makes one hesitate to make the purchase because there are other lighter tablets which do not cost that much, the Tablet Compact is certainly a good choice and an owner’s delight.