Tag Archives: Editorial

Huawei Mate 8 – is 6 inches too big? Plus details of specifications

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Huawei have announced the Huawei Mate 8, a 6 inch screen slab of phone with the following specs –

– 6-inch 1080p display spec covering 95 percent of NTSC gamut.
– 2.5D glass
– new octa-core Kirin 950 chipset, 16nm FinFET+ CPUs (4 x Cortex-A72 and 4 x Cortex-A53), ARM’s flagship Mali-T880 GPU and integrated LTE Cat 6 modem
– Fingerprint sensor on rear – new advanced sensor able to read 3rd level of detail
– 16mp rear camera plus dedicated image processor
– Colours – Champagne Gold, Moonlight Silver, Space Gray and Mocha Brown
– Android 6 with Emotion UI
– Pricing in China $500 for 3GB RAM /32GB of storage, $690 for 4GB RAM / 128GB of storage.
– 4,000mAh battery

The specs stack up on paper to potentially translate to a fine beast of a device. But we will see this over in the UK?

My main grip is its size. As a phablet, a 6 inch screen is pushing the boundaries of what is acceptably comfortable to hold in one hand, and with the need to use the fingerprint sensor on the rear, could translate to a very awkward in hand experience.

However, on paper and based on the outlined specs and press renders it sure looks like a fine piece of kit. Will 2016 be the year Huawei overtakes Samsung?

Source – Engadget

O2 and EE to block adverts – Editorial

“According to Businessinsider O2 is at advanced stages to actively implement using technology that can block mobile ads at a network-level before they even get served. In addition, the company is considering whether to offer customers easy access to ad blocking apps and browser extensions. O2 is also working with advertisers to improve the standard of mobile advertising.”

O2 is not alone. EE have stated they are looking to block adverts. Is this a good or bad thing?

The positives will be a faster web browsing experience and less battery drain caused by adverts. However, I have noticed that with some ad blockers web sites do not run properly. Personally, I do not use any ad blocker, except on two websites where they take the biscuit for over indulgent adverts.

If O2/EE block the adverts, how will good quality websites that rely totally on the advertising income survive? I can tell you know, people will not want to pay to access information. If O2/EE control the adverts, what right do the have to decide what we see and don’t see? Are they really doing this to act as the gatekeeper and charge advertisers a fee to pass through their filters?

This seems more about taking a cut of the advertising revenue than reducing bandwidth and or improving the customer experience.

What are your views?

Apple Music lands on Android – So What Comes Next?

Yesterday Apple released Apple Music on Android complete with a 3 month trial for new users. If you sign in to Apple Music on android with the same email used on iOS you can use your iOS subscription to play your tunes on Apple Music with your android device now.

The release of Apple Music on android is significant. It competes directly with Google Play Music and Amazon Music. By offering more of their services on a range of hardware, Apple has moved itself even deeper into the online service offerings.

Maybe, Apple realises that smartphone growth has peaked so now its time to spread its wings to compete elsewhere.

What do you think? And have you downloaded Apple Music on your android phone?

Apple iCloud – It Really Doesn’t Work – Editorial

I had a vision, one vision, a clear and concise vision. Buy the latest iPhone, integrate everything into the Apple iCloud for that perfect seamless Apple eco experience.

So what could possibly go wrong? Read on….

The first step in this conquest for pure Apple cloud nirvana was making sure all my PIM data was updated on Apple iCloud. This was achieved by copying by Google contacts and PIM data into the iCloud equivalents. This worked rather well.

Next was to turn on iCloud Photo library from my mac and have a full copy of my photos up in the Apple Cloud. This didn’t work initally. This was solved only by visiting an Apple store and using their wifi to upload. It also took ages.

The iCloud Photo experience hasn’t improved. I have now had to turn this feature off on my iPhone 6S Plus and just use photostream. The problem is caused by my upload speed being too slow versus the constant flow of new photos. I also manually connect my iPhone 6S and sync photos. I still have a copy of my photos with Apple iCloud and will continue to do so as I like the structured folders and overall integration. This isn’t working though. Duplicates are appearing all over the place. And some can’t be removed.

So next job was to subscribe to iTunes Match and Apple Music. This has been a total disaster beyond belief. Whilst Apple has been offering accessible support, it has left me in a position of 10% of my iTunes library ruined. Apple support left me after several support calls in a greater disaster.I now had around 41 drm protected tracks which were not drm in the first place, and still 10% of my music library lost by using Apple’s Cloud services. If it was not for my quick thinking, the number of DRM protected tracks would have increased 5 times. I would stress, these issues were not caused by my human hands but Apple and or their iCloud services.

So my issues are far from over. Apple are continuing to see what they can do to recover my music library.

To be continued…..

So 36 hours later since first writing this post, and it was worded somewhat stronger in version 1.

Mossy, from Apple Senior support, last night via remote access and some pure genius, salvaged all my iTunes music and video library and that now syncs perfectly with my iPhone 6S Plus. Local backups on Time Machine!

Except now Photos on my MacBook still does not tally with Photos on my iPhone. Grrrr. Another call later and this is the position.

I have duplicate photos on my iPhone, not on my MacBook. I am running iOS 9.02 and El Capitan on my MacBook.I now have turned off iCloud Photo library as I don’t trust what its doing to my devices. I might turn on My Photostream, but its off for the moment. I have several unresolved issues that will take another evening to get sorted or maybe not.

BUT I have a question that I hope somebody can answer. I want to understand the behaviour of the iPhone and MacBook syncing via lightning cable. It seems that if I take a lovely photo of say 4mb or a panorama of 18mb in file size, after syncing back to my iPhone its only just over 1.4mb. Is this normal behaviour? Can the option for full resolution photo synced be left on? Or do I have a fault somewhere?

THEN if I went back and used iCloud Photo library cloud services, it appears you can have the whole full resolution photo downloaded on to your iPhone or a lower resolution. This also means having to pay Apple for a higher cloud storage. But using your own lightning cable and MacBook it appears you cannot do this.

In my opinion this does not appear right unless I am missing a setting somewhere.

Update 2 – I have decided to turn on iCloud Photos again on all devices, and give it another shot. I really need this to work, as it turns out this will be the key way to ensure I get the high res versions on my selected devices.

Preparing to ditch Google for Siri – Editorial

A lot can happen in the world of technology in a space of 6 months.

In the world of Gavin’s Gadgets the change in direction can be even faster. Back in February 2015, I wrote this piece https://gavinsgadgets.com/2015/02/02/i-have-sold-my-soul-to-google/ on how I had sold my soul to Google.

On Saturday 12th September, I was a guest again on the Phones Show Chat Podcast – http://stevelitchfield.com/sshow/chat.html . Steve Litchfield asked me how I could simply switch operating systems at the blink of an eye. What Steve was referring too is my change from my current phone, the LG G4 and LG Watch Urbane to the iPhone 6S Plus and Apple Watch on 25th September. The LG G4 plus all my accessories will be sold within a week after receiving the iPhone 6S Plus. For the record, the LG G4 has been by far the best smartphone I have ever used. So why the change?

Well those that know me well, will also know that I enjoy using all operating systems. However, this time Apple has made a few changes that make the jump somewhat more attractive. Firstly, the iCloud storage pricing plans have been lowered to a far more reasonable and competitive level, meaning I can totally use the Apple eco system to its fullest, without paying over the top for cloud storage. I updated my iCloud contacts and calendar data to mirror that held on Google, so now I don’t need to even sync my contacts and calendar from Google. As a backup, I still have all my photos, media, docs and music sitting on Google Drive along with a further backup of photos and docs in Dropbox, but now going forward I intend just to use Apple iCloud for everything. Before, I sync my photo library to iCloud along with my music, I will have to tidy up my photo library on my mac.

I held off starting my 3 month Apple Music trial, but will activate this with my new iPhone 6S Plus. Now with regards to the iPhone 6S Plus, I already have received the official leather Apple case from Apple, along with some Spigen screen protectors.

So what am I looking forward to with the new iPhone? Well the new 12mp camera and all the software trickery that goes with it. iOS apps, iOS 9, 3D Touch, Apple Pay, using the phone with the Apple Watch and with everything tightly integrated. I really missed iMovie on the phone. This piece of software is so powerful and slick and even as of today’s date there isn’t really an alternative on android. And now with the lower iCloud storage plans, I can use Apple for everything.

As time moves on, it really seems that to get the most from your phone, it is best to ensure you use the respective cloud and apps that are part of your phones operating system. So if ever I moved back to Google, I still have a copy of my data on Google Drive and if a miracle occurs and Microsoft takes over the world with its new Windows 10 phones, I have a partial copy of my data sitting on One Drive.

Now, let’s see if I can keep this phone for a few years 🙂

Is Microsoft taking over android? – details

Microsoft seems to be taking a new path recently, trying to push its services across all platforms. If you buy a new Samsung phone, Microsoft apps are pre installed with 100gb One Drive storage for 2 years.

With Microsoft pushing its mobile services like One Drive, Office 365, Bing and Cortana for android, how much longer will it be before Microsoft could offer its own android phone without the need for any Google services? As another example, Bing can now be activated instead of Google Now on the long press of the home button.

So what do you think? Is this Microsoft’s plan for the future?

Editorial – Why are we bothered about Smartphone Cameras?

Tavistock Viaduct, Devon

A phone is often scored by its camera. But have we lost the plot? Depending on which side of the bed you get out of, you will either say that the Samsung Galaxy S6 or LG G4 currently holds the mantle for the best camera on a phone. Of course, you might be the sort of person that is hiding under the bed with a Nokia Lumia 1020.

In a few months time, there will be even more claims from manufacturers that their new phone has an even better camera. But why are we bothering to care anymore. Nearly every phone available nowadays comes with a camera that is simply, good enough. Take the new Motorola Moto G 2015, this has the camera from the Nexus 6, minus optical image stabilisation.

I think its time to prioritise what we need in a phone. So I would want a 6″ 1080p screen, Snapdragon 820, 5,000mAh battery, Qi charging, Quick Charging 2, FM Radio, Dual sims, 64gb storage plus micro SD slot, 16mp camera with OIS, 5mp on front, fingerprint scanner, USB C, APT-X, decent sounds, and made of grippy plastics. Front screen to be made of Gorilla Glass 4. With these specs what more is needed.

And with that camera scenario, just buy a small decent point and shoot, that can be always in a pocket. The photo shown above is from the Sony RX100 III. No need to worry now about how good the camera is on a phone!

Editorial – Are Android Phone Manufacturers panicking over the next iPhone?

There is no doubt that Apple is currently selling millions of iPhones all over the world and at the same time making decent profit margins on each phone sold. It is an incredible feat.

The new iPhone(s) due to be announced and released in September have the potential to sell like crazy again, especially if the rumoured improvements are true. For example, iPhones have had a 8mp rear camera for years. Rumours are this will be increased for the better to 12mp. Force Touch – this also might arrive on the next iPhone, along with all the minor bumps in processor and other components.

Normally, smartphone manufacturers wait until IFA to announce their products, but this year we have seen many companies make product announcements already, and some to announce earlier than usual to try and combat the iPhone threat eg Motorola, Samsung, Sony, Honor and more.

How can an android phone manufacturer compete at the luxury end when you can buy for £120 an Elephone P8000. This has a 1080p 5.5 inch screen, Octa Core Processor, Fingerprint sensor, unibody metal design, 3gb ram, 16gb storage, micro sd card to 128gb, less than 9mm thin, 13mp Samsung rear camera and so on. There are plenty of other examples too. Ok, its not a QHD screen with 32gb storage, but the entry level specs will still do a decent job. With the iPhone there is only one or two new iPhones a year. So if you want an iPhone, you have to buy an iPhone. Market cornered!

I do worry how Samsung will fare with the new Note 5. It is all internal memory, no replaceable batteries or micro SD card slot. This will go against the grain of what its customers want but it will be copying the iPhone 6 Plus design of fixed storage and non removable batteries.

The only hope is there is some new feature(s) on the next wave of android phones that truly are the next big thing!

Editorial – Is the flagship phone dead in the water?

This year I have been fortunate enough to have reviewed a large number of phones. As the year has moved on each phone does ultimately become another rectangle with minor differences over the last phone reviewed. Rarely does a new phone come along that is a “game changer”.

Cheap budget phones are starting to offer 2gb ram and 1080p screens as standard. At this point if a £150 phone does all you need why bother with a £660+ flagship from Apple or Samsung?

Ok, flagships are moving to QHD screens, but even that price point is lowering to £400 or even less in some cases. Camera? This is an area where flagship phones generally do excel. But if you are sharing your photos only on social media, any camera will suffice.

For a flagship to really survive, it has to offer stunning build quality and desirability backed up with faultless software and after sales support.

So what do you think? Are these changes affecting how you will decide when or what to buy next?

Editorial – Amazon PrimeDay – Bonanza or Borderline?

Unless you had been hibernating yesterday, you would have heard about Amazon holding a one day sale, called PrimeDay for all its Prime members. It was billed by Amazon as bigger than Black Friday.

Well if you follow Amazon’s website you will know that prices fluctuate daily, hourly and even by the minute. Based on what I have seen over the recent years, the best deals often occur the week before Black Friday or randomly in December. Personally, I did not think the deals on offer yesterday were better than Black Friday.

These big day sales seem to offer old stock mixed with a few reasonable headline grabbing items. In fact, I noticed with PrimeDay, a percentage of electrical items from 7 months ago still being flogged. And then there was the endless cables, power adapters, power this and power that.

The next aspect of the sale was the discount being claimed. It was often overstated. Instead of using the discount from the lowest price it had been on sale on Amazon, the discount shown was typically off the RRP, or close to it. Is Amazon alone in the practice? No not at all. Nearly all online shopping stores and the high street participate in this way.

However, that is not to say it is all doom and gloom. There were several decent items available, and so long as you were actually going to buy it, then whatever amount you saved was a bonus. Also, an older electrical item is not to be discarded just because of its age. A decent pair of headphones will always sound good for example. For example the AKG K702 headphones were £110. That is unbelievable. These headphones were once over £330 and sound terrific. Another example. The original Pebble Smartwatch was being offered at £64.99 in 3 colours. The black had 40% of the stock redeemed and the red 44% redeemed. FitBit offered the Charge HR and Surge Smartwatch at its lowest prices to date. If Haribo Teddy Bears were your favourite sweet there was a good deal on a 3KG bag. That was so so so tempting 🙂

Personally, I decided to give Amazon Fire TV Stick a go. I was planning on buying this so the fact I saved a few pounds was a bonus. My wife had seen a box set of DVD’s at the weekend. I told her not to buy it just in case it was in the PrimeDay sale. It was and it was £14 less and this was the lowest price it had ever been on sale. The discount shown was also correct too.

The winners are clearly Amazon. Not only did the create a huge spike in sales on a single day but they also probably sold loads of Prime memberships leading up to PrimeDay. A true masterclass of marketing by Amazon! For example Amazon sold 35,000 Lord of the Rings Blu-Ray sets in 15 minutes and a Kate Spade handbag was sold out in a minute. However, not all shoppers were happy as Reuters reports – http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/07/15/us-amazon-com-primeday-idUSKCN0PP2WH20150715

So did you bag a bargain? And if so what did you buy?

Below are some tweets by frustrated shoppers –

Sources – reuters.com/wired.com/twitter.com