Category Archives: Editorials

The best phone of 2017 – Editorial

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The best phone of 2017 according to my views and usage testing a wide range of flagships, budgets and medium priced phones. 

The answer is not quite straight forward and here’s why.

The problem with the top end flagship is often design. Made with materials to make the phone look gorgeous but ultimately with poor grip meaning a case is a must have. The other problem is QHD or 4K screens and still with a 3,000mAh battery.  I have used the Lenovo P2 and recently the Asus Zenfone 3 Zoom both of which have 5,000mAh batteries or more. Once you have experienced a battery of this capacity that lasts 2 days, you realise how much you have become a victim to constant charging of your phone. 

Now if you have a big battery you need quick charging. Really fast charging if possible. Qi wireless charging is a bonus if included. But if you have a monster sized battery the need for wireless charging is negated. 

Cameras.  The best phone of 2017 needs the photo quality of shots from the iPhone 7 and Samsung S8.  Plus HDR quality of the Google Pixel. The phone camera needs ultra fast focusing of the Samsung S8. The microphones need to be as good as those from the S8 and have auto focusing front facing camera with OIS and one that can record QHD stereo. Then the camera needs the optical zoom and portrait mode of the iPhone 7 Plus, the monochrome lens from the Huawei P10 Plus and the wide angle lens of the LG G6.  In terms of the default camera app, this needs to be a cross of the Samsung S8 and Huawei P10 Plus. It needs to include all the manual controls at your fingertips but the simplicity of working every time perfectly in auto. The camera app needs to include the special light painting and wide exposure modes of the Huawei camera app. 

When it comes to audio the best phone of 2017 needs the quad dac from the LG G6 along with its Bluetooth stack and aptx HD. The headphone jack needs to remain. Stereo speakers with the minimum quality of the iPhone 7 Plus but ideally at the level of the HTC U 11. 

When it comes to screens this is a one horse race. The phone needs a panel from the Samsung S8. So than means a phone with a 6 inch screen with minimal bezels meaning it’s a big as 5 inch phone from several years ago. 

In terms of durability this needs to be at the level of the LG G6. IP68 dust and water resistant along with a MIL spec for drop resistance. 

Finally the crucial aspect of any phone is the software and processor. A phone needs the processor from the latest iPhone. Powerful yet efficient. In terms of software, it needs to run a merging of iOS and Google android. iOS needs the google assistant merged with Siri. The Apple cloud services replaced with the Google cloud including Google Photos. 

So summarising the best phone of 2017 will have 3 lenses, normal, wide and optical zoom, a 5,000 mah battery, stereo speakers, a headphone jack, 32 bit audio with a built in headphone amp, hi res Bluetooth, an amoled  screen with minimal bezels , running andriOS, a great camera app and be durable against dust, water and accidental drops. Not much to ask for is it 🙂

Improvements for 2018 that I would like to see is a phone that can have one camera lens that merges all 3 options and wireless charging that works without having to place the phone on a pad. 

So what would be your best phone ?

Android Apps are coming to Chrome OS – Editorial

On the second day of Google I/O, Google announced that the entire Google Play Store would be present and Chrome OS and Chromebooks. All the apps and games would run on Chromebooks.

Yesterday I said the following – “ultimately Google is moving towards a vision where the Google Cloud, Artificial Intelligence and Virtual Reality control your life.”

I also mentioned “Android Instant Apps – this allows Google load and run specific parts of Android apps on devices without downloading and installing the whole app first. Apps are made in modules by developers for this to happen.”

Now merge both of these together and the Chromebook becomes a super fast, super powerful and on demand computer. If you have used a Chromebook already, you will already know it is super fast, nimble and can already manage 95% of all day to day tasks.

Provide a platform to use apps on demand and via the cloud as you need each part, and its a match made in heaven. Now this is likely 12-24 months away, but the Google Play store will arrive on Chromebooks by later this year.

I do wonder if Google have just pulled off a masterstroke against Microsoft and their cloud and Apple. Personally I would like everyone to succeed as well as someone like Amazon. As they say, competition is healthy.

Camera Decisions – LG G5 vs Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge

Here’s the dilemma. Do you want the camera from the LG G5 or the camera from the Samsung Galaxy S7 / S7 Edge.

The LG G5 takes amazing shots with both rear lenses and allows for cropping on every photo. The 8mp 135º wide angle lens is epic. Nothing gets close on a phone.

Foggintor Quarry, Dartmoor #lgg5

Can the LG G5 do action shots. Yes it can. See below.

Watch out! Here comes George #Dartmoor #lgg5

But here’s the point about the Samsung Galaxy S7 camera. It’s super fast and accurate. A short while ago I had to show someone a few photos of my dogs. I ended up choosing the shots that I took from the S7 as they were more fun ones and closer up and in focus.

Here come the girls - Tiggy & Fury with big happy faces #Dartmoor

George Selfie on Dartmoor - drenched in water #Dartmoor #dog

So long as you are fairly near to your subject the S7 will hit the jackpot, even with heavy sharpening and post processing. But as soon as there is some distance like the shot below, cropping is not worth it due to the lack of pixels, whereas cropping this shot below on the LG G5 would be a breeze.

Are Chromebooks about to become awesome? – Editorial

Several tech websites are reporting that Google is about to introduce some new updates to Chrome OS to allow around 1 million android apps to work on Chromebooks. This is likely to be introduced at Google I/O.

Is this happens, the Chromebook will become the most compelling laptop type device in ages. I have used several Chromebooks and for 95% of my workflow they worked beautifully. Super fast and cheap and easy to wipe clean and pass on to another person too. And with just a few of my android apps a Chromebook would take on a new lease of life.

Would android apps working on a Chromebook make you re-evalate purchasing one?

What’s going wrong with the world’s tech press?

Yesterday evening I read a few reviews and articles from a cross section of well known tech websites. Within all the headline was a controversial word or statement.

I read a review from Arstechnica covering the LG G5. It was a scathing headline grabbing review. It was also clear not much real life usage had occurred. Now take for example Android Central. Phil Nickinson published his review of the LG G5 and was also not happy with the G5 and also had a headline grabbing title. However, at least Phil justified why he was unhappy with the phone, and that was a good thing.

Android Authority had 2 articles up regarding the HiFi DAC for the LG G5. One was a review of the HiFi DAC. This was a well constructed piece so therefore people would probably believe what was written. Except it was factually incorrect. And then there was an attention grabbing headline re it not coming to certain countries. LG have never said that. The accessories need to pass various regulatory departments.

I could go on as BGR and Engadget also had articles that didn’t sit well with myself in terms of standards. Unfortunately, we live in the world where sensational titles and articles create more web traffic and in turn more income.

What Smartphone should I get next? – Editorial

Approximately twice a year the mobile industry announces major smartphones but the decision as to which phone to choose is becoming harder and harder.

I think Samsung were wise and got their new Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge phone out of the blocks early and in the process they lapped out millions and millions of £££’s. The expression timing is everything might be what helps Samsung sell more android phones than any other manufacturer this year. It also helps that the S7 range is a very polished device in a multitude of ways.

However, the world also has other manufacturers releasing new phones from Huawei, Asus, Xiaomi, Meizu, LG, HTC and a whole host of other Chinese companies. The notable new phones currently include the LG G5, Huawei P9, Xiaomi Mi 5 and tomorrow the HTC 10 will be announced.

The Huawei P9 on paper looks like a decent piece of kit with its rear dual lens Leica branded camera technology. The P9 also features a whole host of other technology too. This phone was originally on my short list, but I have seen so many out of focus shots. I put this down to the lack of optical image stabilisation with the users not realising they had to hold the camera still for a split second longer. Whilst some of the photos from the P9 are stunning, consistency and sharp focus needs to be spot on more times than not.

That leaves the Xiaomi Mi5 and LG G5. The Mi 5 has a good camera, looks beautiful but is let down slightly in low light versus the competition. The shots are good, but not at G5 and S7 level.

So my next phone will be the LG G5 and my retail version should have arrived a few weeks ago, but production delays have impacted the delivery date. However, I am also interested to see what HTC announce at 1pm UK time tomorrow on http://www.htc.com. HTC are claiming that their rear 12mp sensor will feature Ultrapixels and will be class leading. Boom sound, great battery and more are all meant to be included in this phone.

Will HTC be the one to watch?

The Beauty of iOS Apps – Editorial

Here I am about one month into my ownership of the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge thinking about some of the apps on iOS that I used to use daily and trying to find alternatives on android.

The Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge is all about the camera and to get the most out of the camera you really need to use the official Samsung camera app. Camera FV-5 has just been updated to work with the newer Samsung phones from the S6 onwards. But really there aren’t any other sophisticated camera apps that work on these newer android phones. If you own an iPhone, camera apps and decent camera apps are in abundance.

And that’s the beauty of iOS. In any specific or specialised category you will find a couple of class leading apps. On the camera app front on iOS there are at least 5 decent camera apps, but my personal favourite that add some extra value are Nightcap Pro and ProCamera+ HDR which have nothing even close on android that offers the full range of functionality. Photo editing is another league on iOS.

The gaming catalogue on iOS is huge. Often android apps and games are ruined by adverts. A good example is Scrabble. On android game play is ruined totally by adverts. But not on iOS.

So apart from the photography apps, do you have any specialised favourite iOS or android apps?

Controversy – Which is better – Android or iOS? – Editorial

Before I start, I want to make something quite clear. This is not a platform bashing editorial, it is a more down to earth look at how I now perceive the two largest mobile operating systems.

I am certain some of you will disagree, rage, cry, smile or weep. But whatever you do, if you leave a comment keep it constructive and factual. As the moderator, I will use my powers if necessary. Hopefully this won’t be necessary.

The background behind this article. To support iOS, I am using the iPhone 6S Plus, Apple TV 4th Gen, Apple Watch, iPad Air and Macbook. To support android, I am using the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge, Gear S2, Gear VR, Level One Pro Bluetooth headphones and Macbook.

So lets look at iOS first. My observations are tighter integration within the hardware and software across all Apple devices. Apps on the iPhone look better and there is a much wider range of apps across many categories. iMessage and FaceTime are integrated across all Apple devices. Receive a SMS on your phone, reply on your MAC. You get the picture. Seamless. Handoff is another nicety. Viewing a website on your iPad, move to your MAC and continue reading the same page. Other aspects of iOS is Apple Pay. In the UK there is still no other option. 3D Touch is handy on the iPhone.

So now lets look at android. Google services are better integrated as expected. Hardware is leap years ahead. QHD screens, curved screens, ultra battery saving modes, wireless and fast charging, fast wireless charging and much more. No special cables needed for connecting to the phone. Eg for USB On The Go. Connecting cameras, USB sticks and more is standard. Miracast, DNLA and bluetooth and more are not restricted in capabilities as on iOS. iOS will often need apps or workarounds. Background services actually work on android without being stopped after 10 minutes e.g. uploading to flickr or Google Photos. Android flagship phones now take the lead with camera quality especially LG G4 and Samsung S7. Bluetooth audio includes APT-X on phones. This produces a better quality music playback via compatible headphones. Apple include this on the macbook but not iPhone. But then APT-X High Definition is now available. So music playback via headphones is ahead. Virtual Reality has arrived. Where is Apple? The Samsung Gear S2 smartwatch is so fantastic to use. The mode of operation is a breeze and far more logical than the Apple Watch. However the Apple Watch is streaks ahead in developer support and apps. So that means with the Gear S2, so long as it does what you want from day 1 you will be fine. However, neither watch is perfect.

And now lets cover off the subject of apps. I have come to the conclusion if you live on iOS you tend to have more apps. On android you don’t need as many apps. The app gap on popular apps has gone. Speciality apps are still king on iOS. But there are apps on android that don’t exist on iOS and offer more functionality. I was surprised to find that Flickr on android is better than the iOS version. You can add your photo to as many groups on android at once, on iOS it only allows one group at a time.

Gaming. iOS has a better selection of games. BUT you can’t play game emulators on iOS but you can on android. I have bluetooth game controllers for both iOS and android. iOS support is lacklustre at best, whereas on android it is way ahead. This is mainly due to the fact android has better support for bluetooth profiles.

Cloud services goes to android. Even Apple knows how good Google are at the cloud, to the point where Apple are going to start using Google’s cloud service.

So you could say if you want varied hardware designs, want to listen to music in higher quality, experience virtual reality, view everything on the best phone displays in the world, take photos with the best camera, game like a gamer with proper support for game controllers, then use an android flagship phone.

Or if you want polished apps, lots of apps, Apple Pay (UK), 3D Touch, speciality apps, universal use of iMessage and other integrated Apple Services, then use iOS.

At the end of the day it does boil down to personal preference. And sometimes, even if its not the best choice, it might be you’re using a phone that you know how to use and are comfortable with its operation.

There is one last point that for many is really important and that is after sales support and service. This is a one horse race that goes to iOS. Nobody currently beats the Apple after sales support and simultaneous software updates.

So that’s my viewpoint. As to which is better? Depends…