Tag Archives: Editorial

My Thoughts on the Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+ – And Yes the Red iPhone 7 Plus looks better!

Samsung officially launched the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+ smartphones. The S8 comes with a 5.8 inch screen and the S8+ a 6.2 inch screen. The S8 has a 3,000 mAh battery versus the S8+ with a 3,500 mAh battery. Apart from that the phones are identical.

Key Features

– Infinity Display – with AOD, Multi Screen, Edge Screen
– Bixby AI with Hardware Button
– Security unlock with Face, Eyes, Fingerprint and PIN
– Camera – 8mp front camera with Auto Focus. Same hardware for rear camera as S7.
– Samsung Pay
– Samsung DeX – Desktop dock
– Samsung Connect
– Bluetooth 5, also connect 2 bluetooth devices independently
– Water Resistant as last year
– Micro SD card support
– Gorilla Glass 5 back and front
– New 10nm Exynos Processor or Snapdragon 835 in some countries.

Pricing £690 and £780.

So what do I think so far. On paper it seems small upgrades over the S7 Edge. Larger screens. New screen aspect ratio. Better processor. Bluetooth 5. Virtual hidden front screen home button. Finger print sensor next to the rear camera. The new VR Headset with Bluetooth controller look nice as did the new Samsung Gear 360 camera.

I will be honest, I wasn’t blown away. The new processor combined with the software is the one aspect of this phone that will make a difference for it. Small bezels and glass edge to edge means more screen breakages if dropped. The rear mounted finger print sensor next to the camera lens is stupid. It will be difficult to reach for left handed people and will end up with finger print smudges on it. At least the camera software advices you to wipe the lens if it detects smudges. Samsung is hoping face unlock will be the preferred method.

Bixby does nothing at the moment as on launch this is a Korea and US feature only. Samsung Pay is not available in the UK. So 2 of the key features highlighted at the Samsung Unpacked event are not available in the UK yet. Bixby is larger than just one phone of course, and in future could link into Samsung Smart Things and a lot more. But currently it does nothing in the UK and will probably take time to develop.

The DeX Dock has potential, maybe if you used Citrix app on your phone and then used the larger screen with the dock. But running android apps seems odd on a larger screen.

The near Gear VR looks superb as does the new Gear 360. The Gear 360 now works with iOS from iOS 10 upwards.

The camera uses the same hardware as the S7. So the improvements are all down to software and the prowess of the new processor. I do believe we will see improved quality images. Samsung has added snapchat type filters within the camera app.

The battery sizes are too small. No wonder Samsung has implemented a screen resolution reduction feature in the battery saving settings. The smaller S8 should have had a least 3,500 mAh and the S8+ should have been 4,000 mAh minimum. It appears Samsung has played it safe with its batteries, which is understandable, but these phones are going to run flat fast.

The new aspect ratio means app developers will have to update their apps to adjust to the new screen size. This impacts the LG G6 as well.

At this price point, Samsung faces stiff competition. It will probably sell well but honestly I would look at all the options out there, including the phones still to be announced in April.

Finally, out of all the colours available currently for this new S8, I still prefer my red iPhone 7 Plus.

What about you?

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The Future of Smartphones – is it software or hardware?

It’s getting close to flagship 2017 season, with new phones coming out from LG, Samsung, Sony, Huawei and many other manufacturers.

Many people are guilty at looking at just the hardware specifications and deciding that a 23mp camera is better than a 13mp camera as an example. However, as many of us know, the quality of the camera sensor, software processing and hardware chips supporting the camera can make a massive difference to the quality of the photos. 

LG this year have opted to refine their offering over the G5. The G6 hardware and software appears to have been refined in unison to provide a better user experience. Obviously I will put the G6 through its paces like I have with the G4 and G5. Whilst the Samsung Galaxy S8 hasn’t been officially announced by Samsung, the leaks are huge and it appears Samsung has gone for small hardware changes. So what could make this phone significantly better, just the software.

Sony makes phones with gorgeous looking hardware but the software lags behind its competitors. It’s cameras flaunt massive specifications yet in auto mode are very hit and miss in terms of quality. This is crazy as Sony’s camera division makes some of the best cameras and the Sony camera sensors are also found in most flagship and non flagship phones from the iPhone to Samsung. 

So this then moves on to how important software integration with the respective hardware has become. Adobe released an update to its lightroom mobile application on iOS and android to provide a HDR raw camera shooting mode whereby the end result is a raw HDR processed image. I have been testing this update, and the results are really impressive. Take the Google Pixel phone. Google has shown how important software integration is with the hardware, producing a smooth running phone with a camera that shoots great photos just using the auto mode. Apple does exactly the same with the iPhone. 

This year I am going to pay more attention to the software and hardware experience as a whole. I also believe whilst hardware refinements and small advancements are a given, it will be the software that will help drive a phone to greater success. 

Photo source – @evleaks

BlackBerry KEYone – Video Overview & Thoughts + Full Specifications

The BlackBerry KEYone, formally known as the BlackBerry Mercury has now been officially launched at MWC.

The Key Specs / Features

– OS – Android 7.1.1 Nougat
– Display 4.5-inch, 1620×1080, IPS LCD,434ppi
– Processor Snapdragon 625, Adreno 506 GPU,RAM 3GB
– Storage 32GB
– Expandable microSD up to 2TB
– Rear Camera 12MP (1.55 micron) f/2.0, PDAF, dual-tone LED flash, HDR, 4K, 30fps
– Front Camera 8MP f/2.2, 1.12-micron pixels,Selfie flash,1080p/30 video
– Battery 3505 mAh
– Charging Quick Charge 3.0
– USB-C
– BlackBerry Software DTEK security suite, Launcher, Hub & Other Apps
– FIPS 140-2 Full Disk Encryption
– Connectivity Wi-Fi 802.11ac, 5GHz, Bluetooth 4.2 LE, NFC, GPS, GLONASS
– Dimensions – 149.1 mm x 72.39 mm x 9.4 mm
– Weight 180 grams

Video Overview

My Thoughts

The BlackBerry KEYone will go on sale at the beginning of April for £499 in the UK.It is going to be up against the Huawei P10, LG G6, Samsung Galaxy S8 and maybe a few other phones. However, I don’t think this will be an issue as this phone is not trying to compete in the same way.

For starters the keyboard, its the only keyboard on an android phone. Having reviewed many previous BlackBerry’s including the recent DTEK50 and DTEK60, the reliability of regular security updates was re-assuring. The KEYone is going to follow in the same manner. The additional BlackBerry software apps and tweaks will make a difference to the overall experience. The keyboard can have a shortcut assigned to every key. The keyboard also includes a fingerprint sensor and acts as a trackpad. The grippy back is the same that came with the DTEK50, meaning you won’t drop it.

The BlackBerry KEYone looks like a phone that could be used one handedly with ease. It has the same camera sensor as the Google Pixel too.

So whilst the specs may not scream out at you as pure high end flagships ones, I reckon this phone will be great to use, for those that want a keyboard on an android phone, regular security updates and decent battery life.

At £499 it will face a lot of competition so it will be interesting to see how well it sells. For me this is the most exciting BlackBerry in ages!

More information is available at – http://www.blackberryworld.com .

Source – CrackBerry Kevin/YouTube/AndroidCentral

Fitbit shares sink on dismal results – details along with my opinions!

Via Reuters:-

Wearable fitness device maker Fitbit Inc’s revenue forecast for the key-holiday shopping quarter fell well short of analysts’ estimates, hurt by soft demand and battery issues with one of its new wristbands.

Shares of the company, which also reported lower-than-expected quarterly revenue, plummeted more than 30 percent in extended trading on Wednesday and were set to hit record-low levels on Thursday.

Fitbit forecast revenue of $725 million to $750 million for the October-December quarter, the company’s fourth. That was well below analysts’ average estimate of $985.1 million, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

FitBit have had production issues with the new Flex 2 band due to difficulties finding small enough batteries which won’t be resolved until the end of the year.

Also Fitbit is facing tough competition from the likes ofApple Inc, Samsung Electronics, Xiaomi and Garmin Ltd, whose devices have features that rival those in Fitbit’s devices.

I understand the competition issues but how can you not have enough batteries! Also, Fitbit won’t support Apple Health which is turning off users, including myself.

Rear Cameras with high DxOMark Scores are Pointless Now – This is Why?

Zoom Test

I have used 4 smartphones with more than one lens setup. These include the LG V10 (with 2 front cameras), the LG G5 (with a normal and super wide lens), the Honor 8 (with a colour and monochrome lens) and the Apple iPhone 7 Plus (with a wide and telephoto lens). The photo above is using the iPhone 7 Plus wide and then telephoto lens.

The additional camera tricks these dual lens phones can pull off often outweigh the benefits of a single camera with higher quality scores, often produced by DxOmark. I know some of you will say DxOmark scores are inaccurate, well actually they are correct as the are measuring the camera sensor, not the sensor plus software plus ease of operation etc.

But we now have reached a point where a DxOmark of 80 and above is good enough, often very good. Any errors in exposure etc can be covered up with a filter or are so insignificant it doesn’t matter if the photo is pixel perfect. So it now falls to having a dual lens setup and the artistic options these provide. In my experience using the 4 phones, I can honestly say I would always pick a dual lens camera phone setup over a single rear camera lens that had a higher photo quality output.

My one proviso is that a dual lens camera setup is quick and speedy to take a shot. A fast processor and ISP are needed for these lenses. My last thought is that whoever snaps the shot, knows the basic photography techniques on how to compose a photo properly!

Samsung Note 7 – The Full Specs & My Thoughts – Is it worth £749

Note 7

Samsung announced the new Samsung Note 7 yesterday. Judging by the reaction on social media the reaction was low and for a number of reasons.

First lets take a look at the key specs below –

  • Android 6.0.1 (Marshmallow)
  • 5.7” dual-edge SAMOLED Quad HD 2560 x 1440 (~518ppi)
  • Octa-core (2.3 GHz quad + 1.6 GHz quad) Samsung Exynos 8890 processor (64 bit, 14 nm process)
  • 4GB RAM (LPDDR4)
  • 64 GB storage / micro SD support
  • 12 MP dual-pixel OIS f/1.7 main camera
  • 5 MP f/1.7 selfie camera
  • Biometric security – fingerprint and iris scanner
  • 3,500 mAh battery – wired & wireless fast charging (Qi, WPC & PMA)
  • NFC for payments with Samsung Pay & Google Wallet
  • Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac (2.4/5GHz)
  • Bluetooth v4.2 / USB Type-C, / GPS with Glonass & Beidou
  • LTE Cat.12 / LTE Cat.10 / LTE Cat.9 *May differ by markets and mobile operators*
  • 153.5 x 73.9 x 7.9 mm / 169 grams
  • IP 67 / 68 water and dust resistant
  • The first thing to strike you is its design. It looks like a Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge with just a few tweaks in the hardware department. But comparing it further with the S7 Edge, there are small but important tweaks. First the glass edges are gently curved now equally on both sides with the Note 7. The Note 7 glass is Gorilla Glass 5 instead of Gorilla Glass 4 found on the S7 Edge. The Note 7 comes with 64gb storage instead of 32gb found in the S7 Edge. The Note 7 has changed the micro USB port for USB Type C port . IP68 carries over to the S Pen, meaning you can take notes underwater. As all the remaining specs are the same as the S7 Edge, actually what you have is a powerhouse of a phone. But is it worth sim free £749?

    There are two ways of looking at this. Samsung have priced this in the same region as an iPhone 6S Plus 64gb. Which of the two phones would you prefer to have? Is the Samsung Note series strong enough to carry a price of £749. I say yes. I would also point out that it excels in both hardware and software. There is not another device like it! Looking at this from the Note series, it has everything now from IP68, 64gb storage plus micro SD card support and so on.

    The other way of looking at it is that it is crazy expensive. This would be the case if you had a S6 or S7 Edge as it doesn’t offer that much. But if you move up from a Note 4 then you are getting all the latest specification. I hear some screams that £749 is a joke. The OnePlus 3 is only £329 and surely the difference isn’t worth £400. Well this all depends on your priorities for a phone. £400 buys you a better screen, camera and the list goes on. Each difference adds up in pounds and pence. So they are not the same, but the experiences between a OnePlus 3 and Note 7 might be both enjoyable. So it boils down to your personal budget and how much you want the Note 7.

    Question is, where do you sit. £749 is fine or is it a rip off when you can buy devices like the OnePlus 3?

    The 3.5mm Headphone Jack is History – Moto Z removes it as will other new phones – Editorial & Details

    Moto Z

    Lenovo just held a press event where it launched several new phones including the new Moto Z. One feature quietly not glossed on was the fact there was no headphone jack. Instead sound came via the USB port.

    Motorola aren’t the first manufacturer to omit the 3.5mm headphone jack and certainly won’t be the last. Using the USB Type C port for audio will emit a higher quality sound.

    Apple are rumoured to remove this 50+ year old analogue part in the next iPhone.

    So is it a disaster. Hardly. For years I have used the USB port to take audio from my phones and into a dedicated DAC to obtain the best possible sound quality. Audeze already sell the EL-8 that come with an Apple lightning connector to plug in to the lightning port. And there are other companies that have ditched the headphone jack connector on their headphones too.

    The Moto Z does come with a USB Type C headphone adapter so you can still use all your old headphones.

    So why the change. Well as I mentioned the headphone jack is old tech and is 50+ years old now. 24 bit sound can be obtained or higher from the USB Type C socket. 24 bit bluetooth Hi Res sound is now possible. So you can now connect Hi Res Bluetooth headphones and drop the wire altogether. Or if the device has Qi Wireless charging , you could use the USB Type C connector whilst charging.

    This change will upset many people at first. Life changes so people will move on eventually and forget the past.

    And lets not forget if you have no headphone jack, that is one less hole to let water in!

    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.

    Moving to USB Type C – The Pitfalls and Solution

    Apart from the Samsung Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge nearly all the other phones and devices are now moving to USB Type C.

    I was initially dreading the problem of needing to charge a device and not having a USB Type C cable on tap. Then there was all the hot steam about compatibility.

    Actually, there really isn’t an issue as the solution is quite simple. This is what I have done personally. Each item listed is a direct link to the store that I purchased the cable from.

    Olixar Multi Pack of USB Type C cables – I bought this 4 pack of USB Type C cables from Clove Technology. This is a superb pack. 1 x 2 metres cable. 2 x 1 metres and 1 x 10cm cable. This covers all the spares Type C cables needed with varying lengths. These are all approved again.

    Anker Quick Charge 3 Wall Charger – as most devices now have Quick Charge 3 I wanted a spare wall charger that was backward compatible. Anker came to the rescue.

    Anker USB Type C with 56 ohm resistor – if you just want a single cable, Anker have a low cost option which again as above with all the others is the approved option with a 56 ohm resistor.

    Ravpower USB Type C Adapter / OTG – and finally I needed an adapter that would also work as a OTG cable. This works a treat.

    So there you have it. I have a wide selection of USB Type C cables and never a problem with not being able to charge my accessory or phone. All the above items are cables I have personally bought!

    Highlights of the Apple’s Q2 Earnings call – Plus Editorial

    So Apple held their Quarter 2 earnings call last night.

    Below are the key highlights –

    – 51.2 million iPhones sold vs 61 million sold the year before
    – Mac sales 4.03 million down from 4.56 million from the year before
    – 10.2 million iPads sold down from 12.6 million from the year before
    – Quarterly revenue of $50.6 billion / net income of $10.5 billion /$1.90 per diluted share.
    – Apple Music revenue up from £11m paying subscribers in Jan to £13m in April.
    – Apple makes more money from its services than selling macs. App Store, iTunes and iCloud services have increased 35% from last year
    – Apple Pay income not significant enough to declare figures.

    Is it doom and gloom that sales have declined around 13%. Not at all. Apple also still has $233,000,000,000 in cash.

    Lets repeat again what Apple sold despite the decline. It sold over 51 million iPhones, 4 million macs, 10.2 million iPads along with accessories and Apple Watches. And the net income is still $10.5 billion. That is still one hell of a result.

    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?

    Camera Focusing Speed is Everything – Here’s the Proof

    The Samsung Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge camera only has a 12mp rear camera, but it comes with the fastest focusing speed in the house. And sometimes, this is the only point that matters. Lots more detail is irrelevant if you miss the moment.

    I have loads of examples to prove this point but below are 3 shots snapped last night.

    First up my 2 female labradors, Fury and Tiggy. They were running at the time. I slightly cropped the photo to bring the dogs more in to the frame.

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

    Next up is George. Looks like a selfie but actually he was running at full force. I was able to crop this shot slightly to focus more on George and lose more of Tiggy’s body on the right.

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

    And lastly just to prove how fast the S7 camera is, Fury photobombed this macro. The camera still got her chin and tongue. This shot was completely untouched.

    Photobomb Macro - Fury bombs in #fastdog #Dartmoor #macro

    I really like the shot above 🙂

    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?