Showing posts with label smartphone. Show all posts
Showing posts with label smartphone. Show all posts

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Samsung Galaxy Note 4 review

The Samsung Galaxy Note 4 is the fourth generation device of the South Korean's supersized smartphone, taking over from the Galaxy Note 3 and adding a more expensive tier on top of the Galaxy S5.

Talking of price you'll need a small fortune to buy a Note 4 outright with a SIM-free price tag upwards of £560. If that's a bit steep then you can get it free on two year contracts starting at £38 per month.

You've also got to consider the size - the Note 4 is all about offering a big screen experience and if you're not a fan of oversized mobiles then you're not going to like this.

Still with us? Good, because there's a lot going on inside the Galaxy Note 4 to tempt you to part with a large wedge of cash.

Plenty to shout about

First and foremost is the 5.7-inch display Samsung has slapped on its latest phablet. Okay, so it's the same size at its predecessor, but it's been given a mighty boost in the resolution department.

The Super AMOLED panel now boasts a QHD (1440 x 2560) resolution, making it pin sharp, with incredibly vivid images and bright colours. If you love watching movies and gaming on the go the Galaxy Note 4 is a dream to gaze at.

So we're pretty smitten with the screen, but what other treats does the Note 4 hold? Well on the rear, just below the 16MP camera is a heart rate monitor. Fire up the S Health app, stick your finger over the red light and it'll tell you how many beats per minute the old ticker is going at.

It's not the most convenient of locations for a heart rate sensor, they fare much better on wearable devices, but at least it works. Samsung also claims it's able to measure your stress level, although we found it to be pretty hit and miss.

The biometrics don't stop there, as hidden beneath the physical home key on the front of the Note 4 is a fingerprint scanner.

Unfortunately it's not quite as good as Apple's Touch ID on the iPhone, with Samsung's offering requiring you to swipe your print down the key.

The success rate can vary, and while most of the time it'll recognise you in one or two attempts and unlock the handset there are occasions you'll have to have three or four goes. And that gets frustrating.

Check me out

At least when you pick the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 up it feels like a device which is going to set you back several hundred pounds - which can't really be said for its plastic heavy predecessors.

The Note 4 sports a smart, slender aluminium frame which provides a premium look and feel to the handset - a quality sorely lacking from many Samsung devices.

Round the back you still get that familiar, removable plastic rear cover - c'mon, you love it really - providing access to the battery, SIM tray and microSD slot.

It's just 8.5mm thick, meaning you won't have any trouble sliding it into your skinny jeans, but with dimensions of 153.5 x 78.6mm it'll likely poke out the top and really test the fabric's stretchability.

The sheer size of the Galaxy Note 4 also means it's a bit of a beast to manage in the hand, and you'll want to employ both mitts when it comes to tapping out some text.

If style really is important to you then the faux leather backing will probably be a turn off (we don't blame you), and you'll want to sneak a peek at the iPhone 6 Plus or HTC One M8.

S Pen, not Pen S

A Galaxy Note smartphone wouldn't be complete without Samsung's own, more-than-stylus, S-Pen and the Note 4 is no exception.

Samsung has improved its stylus for the Note 4, with improved accuracy and sensitivity translating into a smoother, more natural handwriting and doodling experience on screen.

The handwriting recognition software has also been given a boost, meaning it's better at deciphering your scrawls, although we found that using our thumbs with the on-screen keyboard was a much quicker way of entering text.

You can do more than just draw and write with the S Pen, as it also allows you to cut out sections of screen and save them as images for later. Plus it makes snapping two apps side by side on screen pretty easy. We found it's far more fiddly to manipulate this multi-tasking function with our podgy fingers.

Rarely did we find ourselves reaching for the S Pen though. The majority of tasks on the phone can be done perfectly well - and most of the time more quickly - with your finger, so fumbling for the stylus was more of an inconvenience.

A happy snapper

The Samsung Galaxy Note 4 has one of the best cameras currently available on a smartphone, with the rear facing 16MP lens capable of some quite stunning shots.

Snaps are kept blur free thanks to OIS (Optical Image Stabilisation) and the dual-LED flash will brighten those dingy nightclub shots - although over exposure may make your intoxicated mates look like a pack of rabid zombies.

There's a small selection of camera modes within the app; rear-cam selfie, selective focus and panorama, but there's also the option to download more - although the selection isn't overly awe-inspiring. Sound & Shot? No thanks, Samsung.

Taking pictures is easy thanks to the expansive QHD display, giving you crystal clear detail of your subjects and the super slick shutter speed means you'll be able to capture the moment before it passes.

OIS also helps out in low-light, and while the Note 4 won't magic extra lighting out of thin air it does do a commendable job of improving these shots.

Power up, and down

Samsung has stuffed the Galaxy Note 4 full of power with a punchy 2.7GHz quad-core processor (a step up from the 2.3GHz offering in the Note 3) and sizeable 3GB of RAM - that's a lot of bang for your buck.

This means the Note 4 glides through pretty much any task you throw at it. Graphically intensive games such as Real Racing 3 run without a hitch and coupled with the vibrant QHD display it makes for a great gaming experience.

Another good example of the Note 4's power is shrinking a full HD movie to a floating window, allowing you to access the rest of the handsets, be it sending a quick text, checking your emails or updating social media. And all without a pause for though from the Note.

The Android interface has been subjected to Samsung's TouchWiz interface, and while it's a more refined offering than on previous Note handsets it can take time to get used to when coming from another Android device.

It is fluid, with smooth navigation and rapid app loading times allowing you to whizz around without any hint of slow down.

All that power and the high resolution display does mean the Galaxy Note 4 consumers a lot of a battery - but luckily Samsung has been able to squeeze a large, 3220mAh power pack inside.

That's only 20mAh bigger than the Note 3 which did make us worry at first, but you can quite comfortably get a whole day of use from the Note 4 on just a single charge.

If you fancy watching a movie you'll lose around 19% of battery over 90 minutes, which  isn't too shabby. That's with screen brightness at full, so you could improve on that figuring by dimming the display a bit.

When you are running low, Samsung's fast charge technology will get you back 50% of your battery in just 30 minutes - perfect for a quick charge up before heading out for the night.


If you're in the market for a supersized smartphone you're not going to do much better than the Samsung Galaxy Note 4.

It's got a better screen, more power and a stronger camera than the iPhone 6 PlusOnePlus One andNokia Lumia 1520 making it the standout phablet on the market.

Samsung's design language in both its hardware and software may not be to everyone's taste, but if you can get past this then you'll be laughing.

The screen is fantastic, we can't praise it enough - and your eyes will thank you if you do decide to plump for the Note 4.

We're still not completely convinced that the S Pen is a necessary addition. There will always be a small pocket of users who swear by it, but we expect the vast majority of Note users ignore it for most of its life. Poor S Pen.

Sure it's expensive, but Samsung has packed in a huge amount of features into the Galaxy Note 4 - some more useful than others - to make you feel like you've got a decent amount of bang for you buck.

If you're not quite convinced check out the aforementioned iPhone or the QHD toting pair of the LG G3 and Nexus 6 - but for an all-round powerhouse the Note 4 comes out on top
Samsung Galaxy Note 4 release date: Out now

Samsung Galaxy Note 4 price: £560+

Thursday, 16 October 2014

Google launches Nexus 6, Nexus 9 and Nexus Player

After Much rumouring, the next wave of Google's homegrown Nexus devices are here, plus a new Android TV box.

Google has officially launched the Nexus 6 smartphone, Nexus 9 tablet and the Nexus Player Android TV box.

The Nexus 6 by Motorola sports a 5.9-inch QHD display, quad-core Snapdragon 805 processor, 13MP rear camera, 2MP front camera and the choice of either 32GB or 64GB of internal storage.

Meanwhile the Nexus 9 rocks up with an 8.9-inch display, 64 bit Nvidia Tegra K1 processor, 2GB of RAM, either 16GB or 32GB of internal storage, 8MP rear camera and 1.6MP front snapper.

Both the Nexus 6 and Nexus 9 run Google's latest operating system, dubbed Android Lollipop (or Android 5.0).
The Asus-made Nexus Player is a slightly different proposition, and it's the first device to arrive running the new Android TV platform.
Nexus Player provides a way of streaming movies, music and videos to your television as well as providing gaming functionality plus it's Google Cast Ready - allowing you to throw content from your Chromebook, tablet or phone direct to your TV screen.

In terms of when you can get your hands on both the Nexus 9 and Nexus Player will be available for pre-order from October 17 with an in store release date of November 3.

The Nexus 6 will go on pre-order later in October and is due to hit shops sometime in November. There's currently no word on price for any of the products

Saturday, 27 September 2014

Sony Xperia Z3 review: Hands-on

Sony Xperia Z3 review

Sony Xperia Z3 review

The Sony Xperia Z3 is the brand's latest flagship smartphone and as you'd expect, it replaces the Sony Xperia Z2.

As part of Sony Mobile's largest product launch to date, the Z3 is also joined by the Sony Xperia Z3 Compact, Sony Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact, the budget Sony Xperia E3, Sony Smartwatch 3 and Sony SmartBand Talk.

The Xperia Z3 has plenty of competition in the form of the Samsung Galaxy S5,HTC One M8 and the iPhone 5S  iPhone 6 but what does it bring to the table. We went hands-on to find out...

Sony Xperia Z3: Size and build

Sony is sticking to the familar design of the Z2, albeit with a few tweaks. The new handset has the same 'omnibalance' design, with the premium silver power button once again placed halfway down the edge.
It's very slightly slimmer than the Z2 and also slightly lighter. It certainly feels comfortably to hold and it's also more durable, too. Sony has added nylon caps to the corners of the phone, which means that if you drop it, it's less likely to break.

What's more, it's the has the highest waterproof rating available on a smartphone, Sony tells us, so it should survive any accidental submersion.

It'll be available in the usual black and white plus two new colours - copper and rather nice green (see the gallery above).

Sony Xperia Z3: Features

The Xperia Z3 is the world's first smartphone with PS4 Remote Play - a feature that will also be available on the Z3 Compact and Z3 Tablet Compact.
A gaming mount (sold separately, price TBC) uses a sat-nav-style sucker to attach your device onto your PS4 controller so that you can play over your home Wi-Fi network, using your phone or tablet's screen. That means that you can play on your phone or tablet in another room to free up the TV for someone else, or even partake in some seriously antisocial multiplayer.

In theory, you could use it on Wi-Fi networks outside the home, as long as your PS4 is left on, but Sony doesn't recommend it as it can't guarantee the quality. We haven't had a chance to try this out properly yet, but we did have a go attaching the phone to the controller using the mount, which worked a treat. The PS4 function won't actually work until November, Sony tells us.

The phone also features DSEE HX, which converts audio to near high-res quality. We had a demo and can report that the conversion was definitely noticeable when switching between modes, but then the original sounded pretty good to start with.

Sony Xperia Z3: Camera

The camera has the same basic spec as the previous model but with a few important refinements. The Z3 includes the world's first 12800 ISO rating, which should make it better for low light shooting.

It also includes an improved SteadyShot mode, ported over from the maker's camcorders. You'll also get a new wider angle 25mm lens, so you'll be able to pack even more into your shots. There are also several new software features including Face In - a mode that takes photos with the rear camera while including a selfie in a box in the same shot. We reeled off a few test shots - which all looked great - but we're looking forward to trying out the finished product in some more testing conditions.

Sony Xperia Z3: Screen

The 5.2-inch screen sports a full HD 1080p screen, with Sony making the deliberate decision not to go 2K as it doesn't think it's worth it on a screen this size. We have to agree.

Packing the brand's Triluminos and X-reality processing tech, along with IPS, the screen looks great and has really good viewing angles.

Sony Xperia Z3: Performance

Running on the latest version of Android, the Z3 has 3GB of RAM and 16GB of on-board storage. While we haven't tried out a final version of the phone just yet, navigating around the OS in our hands-on time was slick with no lag at all. Obviously we'll be testing that out further as soon as we can get a full sample in for testing.

Sony Xperia Z3: Battery

Sony is making a bold claim of a two-day battery life - again, we haven't had time to test that yet, but we're certain intrigued. Along with the existing power-saving mode introduced on the Sony Xperia Z1, the Z3 also has a power-efficient screen.

Sony Xperia Z3: Verdict

While it may seem quite soon for Sony to be replacing the previous model, the Xperia Z3 looks set to be a very strong contender in the smartphone battle. The improvements are subtle but significant and the PS4 functionality is sure to be a massive selling point for gamers. Stay tuned for a full review.

Sony Xperia Z3 release date: October 2014

Sony Xperia Z3 price: TBC

Apple iPhone 6 vs Apple iPhone 5s: What's changed?

iPhone 6 vs iPhone 5s: Display

First we had 3.5-inches, then the iPhone 5 gave us 4-inches, but now, finally, we have an iPhone with a 4.7-inch display. As with all iPhones since the 4, Apple has attached the Retina Display moniker to the iPhone 6 meaning pixels will, hopefully, be a complete pain to spot.
Speaking of the resolution, it is now 1334x750 (the iPhone 6 Plus is 1920x1080) which is a nice increase from the 1136x540 of the iPhone 5 and 5s. Apple says the 6 has 38% more pixels than the 5s, along with a broader angle of view.
Can it match up the 1080p displays of Android superphones like the Samsung Galaxy S5 or even the 2K versions on the LG G3 and Samsung Galaxy Note 4? You'll have to wait for our full review to find that out. 

iPhone 6 vs iPhone 5s: Size and Build

Increasing the screen size from 4-inches to 4.7-inches clearly means the device itself is going to be quite a bit larger, but how bigger actually is it?
Well, the iPhone 5s came in at 123.8 x 58.6 x 7.6mm, with a weight of 112g, the iPhone 6 on the other hand tips the scales at just 6.9mm thick - making it one truly thin phone.
Instead of the straight lines that made up the iPhone 5s, Apple has gone much more curvy with the 6, rounding off the sides and giving the phone a look that resembles the iPad Air and iPad Mini.
All the side mounted buttons have been given a refresh, while the on/off switch has thankfully been moved from the top to the side. The Lightning connector and headphone jack still cover the bottom.
Aluminium, as you’d probably expect is still the material of choice, though the display is now covered in strengthened glass (not sapphire though), so expect scratches to be much fewer and far between.

iPhone 6 vs iPhone 5s: Features and Performance

While almost every high-end Windows 8 and Android smartphone has packed NFC for countless years now, Apple has finally decided to stick a Near Field Communications chip inside its flagship smartphone. Having NFC means the iPhone can now make use the new Apple Pay feature, which lets you add cards into the Passbook by just taking a picture of it.
iOS8 obviously will come preinstalled, with its array of features like improved notifications, extensions, the Health app and more.
Apple, as usual, hasn’t delved deep into the specs for the new iPhone 6, though we know it runs on a dual-core A8 processor, with a 64-bit architecture, and with a suspected 1GB of RAM. Apple says the CPU is 25% faster this year, with 50% faster graphics and the device should be able to run at full power throughout the charge cycle.
Apple showed off a few game demos during the presentation and we have to say the graphical detail, which is provided by the new Metal engine Apple announced at WWDC, looked pretty fantastic.
Last year’s iPhone 5s was the first Apple phone to pack a 64-bit processor, an A7, so the jump to A8 should give improved performance along with better battery management. You'll also have access to the brand new M8 coprocessor, which tracks motion and works in tandem with HealthKit in iOS8, great for keeping an eye on your daily step count.
One of the new features of the M8 is that it can tell the diffference between cycling and running, plus there's also a barometer.
The WiFi has thankfully been upgraded to 802.11ac, a feature that previously wasn't supported.
16GB, 64GB options for internal storage are available, though for the first time a 128GB choice is available for the phone. Notice no 32GB option?

iPhone 6 vs iPhone 5s: Battery

Keeping that 4.7-inch display toting iPhone juiced up is a battery that Apple claims will easily see you through the day, offering 10 hours of LTE browsing, the same as the 5s.

iPhone 6 vs iPhone 5s: Camera

One of our favourite aspects of the iPhone 5s was its 8-megapixel, sapphire covered snapper that boasted an f/2.2 aperture, backside illuminated sensor and a nifty true tone flash.
It was fast, took some of the best pictures we’ve ever taken with a smartphone and had a flash that we didn’t instantly turn off and never even think about putting it back on again.
So, what improvements can we look forward with the iPhone 6? Well for one the 8-meg sensor is still here, as is the same aperture, though there is a new feature called 'focus pixels' and an improved image engine which offers advanced noise reduction and faster autofocus. Image stabilisation is also offered, though on the iPhone 6 it's only digital, but on the 6 Plus it's optical.
1080p video is supported for both 30fps and 60fps and there's an improved hyper slow-mo mode.
Up top there's a new FaceTime HD camera, with better face detection and an all new sensor that lets in 81% more light, plus the ever popular 'burst selfie' mode.

iPhone 6 vs iPhone 5s: The Verdict

While we were pretty sure we were going to see a new iPhone today, it's still good to finally be able to say it's official. it seems that Apple has finally moved the iPhone forwards for possibly the first time since the iPhone 4 gave us that first Retina Display, thanks to that bigger screen and features like NFC

Thursday, 25 September 2014

Samsung shows off battery-sharing cable for your mobile devices

Samsung's latest tech accessory is the Power Sharing cable, a battery buddy-up system that'll let you drain juice from one device and power up another.
The cable is double-ended with micro-USB connectors, meaning it's good to go with any micro-USB-friendly device.
In terms of Samsung, that means it's good for all the latest category flagships like the Samsung Galaxy S5, the Galaxy Tab S, and the Galaxy Gear smartwatch.
"The new Power Sharing cable gives multi-device users a versatile way to charge their devices - it lets users share the power of their Galaxy battery with either thei own devices or a friend's no matter where they are," says the Korean tech firm.
To work the new wares, you'll first need to download Samsung's Power Sharing app from either Samsung Apps or the Google Play Store.
Once that's sorted, you can then select the amount of power you want to shift over, and then plug in both devices. Voila, instant juice.
Sammy also says its cable is teeny enough to 'fit in a pocket and purse'.
The Power Sharing cable ships in two colours, namely black or white, and retails for £15 - although Samsung says it's nearly out of stock, so get your bids in quick if you're keen.

Apple's iOS 8.0.1 gets pulled after breaking TouchID and networks

Apple has pulled iOS 8.0.1 after it emerged that the update was preventing some iPhone features from working correctly.
The update was designed to provide some minor bug fixes, and largely to make sure HealthKit was working correctly.
In reality, the software Apple pushed over actually stopped the TouchID sensor from working, as well as removing cellular data networks, for a large number of users.
A Redditor (hamy89) reported an official response from Apple via online chat that read: "we have identified an issue with the new iOS 8.0.1 release and our engineering team is hard at work to correct this for all of our customers as quickly as possible."
The message continued: "We greatly apologise for the inconvenience and greatly appreciate your patience. As of right now there is not ETA on the fix but we will have one shortly."
Following the (unsurprising) internet furore, Apple offered a fix that would re-install iOS 8.
"We have a workaround for you if you have an iPhone 6 or iPhone 6 Plus and you lost cellular service and TouchID functionality today after updating to iOS 8.0.1," reads the statement.
"We are also preparing iOS 8.0.2 with a fix for the issue, and will release it as soon as it's ready in the next few days."
Unfortunately, re-installing iOS 8.0 means the Health app is not working once again, so it's not short of trading one problem for another.
This fiasco follows an on-going en masse complaint over iPhone 6 Plus handsets reportedly 'bending' or 'warping' for many users under normal usage.

Samsung's relaxing on mobile to focus elsewhere

Samsung is reducing efforts in its mobile division, with the Korean tech firm reportedly shifting a large number of software engineers to work on other projects.
The WSJ says around 500 software engineers will be leaving the 'mobile unit', to work on 'consumer eletronics, TVs, network, printer, and its corporate software R&D divisions.'
The change-up could signal that Samsung's content with its current mobile software, and wants to bring other parts of the company up to par.
Samsung's smartphones and tablets are some of the firm's most popular products, and take up prime position in the eyes of many consumers.
It's worth noting though that Samsung's TouchWiz Android skin is often slammed for poor design. Tizen OS is also fairly unpopular. Both are products of the software engineer workforce.
Samsung spoke to the WSJ regarding the move, with the firm suggesting its transfers were intended 'to further strengthen the company's overall software prowess.'
It's important to remember that we're not actually sure how many software engineers will be remaining in the mobile divison, although we do know the firm had just north of 40,000 software engineers as of 2013.
Samsung also said it wanted 'to enhance [its] competitive edge in the Internet of Things (IoT) industry and increase synergies for the Tizen platform.'
Smart home platforms are a target for many firms right now, so a focus on the Internot of Things by Samsung is unsurprising.
Earlier today we heard Amazon was working on its own smart home tech, designed to make it easier for customers to make purchases via the retail giant.

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Nearly half of Apple's mobile users now have iOS 8

Apple's latest mobile operating system is now installed on 46% of devices since it began rolling out to users on the 17th October.
The new OS has yet to overtake iOS 7, which currently sits at a 49% adoption rate. There's several reasons for this.
For starters, many simply can't upgrade - iPhone 4 users for instance - as the new OS simply isn't supported on devices that old.
There's also likely a healthy contingent of Apple users who are happy to stick with iOS 7, either out of preference, or for performance reasons.
iOS 8 has been reported by many as causing a noticeable slow-down on some models, particular the iPhone 4S.
Alongside these groups, there'll also be many who simply just haven't got around to upgrading yet, or simply don't know how to.
The figures will have been especially bolstered after Apple managed to sell upwards of 10 million iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus units over the launch weekend, all of which will come with iOS 8 installed as standard.
Interestingly, there's also a remaining 5% of Apple device users running operating systems before iOS 7. That's old school.
The new statistics show up on Apple's developer support page for the App Store. It's handy for devs to know how many people are using a given OS, as incentive to provide app compatibility for olders systems.
By comparison, just 24.5% of Android users are using Google's latest 4.4 KitKat operating system.

Monday, 15 September 2014

The latest Samsung ad says iPhone 6 is 'imitated' Galaxy Note

Fresh out of Samsung's Apple-scorning ad department comes a new video tarring the iPhone 6 Plus as a Galaxy Note copycat.
The ad, titled 'Galaxy Note 4 - then and now', goes to great lengths to show off how the Korean firm did big screens first. 
The video begins by highlighting the early criticism of Samsung's sizeable phablet, although it comes across a bit sore.
"When the Galaxy Note launched in 2011, it was ahead of its time, and naturally when things are new and different, sometimes people aren't ready for them," explains the narrator.
"Experts saw the bigger screen are were like 'you look like you're talking into a piece of toast.' 'The note is an unwieldy beast.' Now it's not being dismissed by competitors, it's being imitated,' says Sammy, gleefully.
Samsung launched its original Galaxy Note at IFA Berlin in 2011, with the slate touting a 5.3-in screen. This was the same year Apple showed off its iPhone 4S, which offered up a much smaller 3.5-in display.
"Thing is, the Note is more than big," continues Samsung's go-to gusher. "It's about being more productive. More innovative. More fun."
The disembodied voice then shows off a selection of tweets that slam Apple's latest beefed-up blower.
"Is it just me or does the new iPhone 6 Plus look like a Samsung Galaxy Note 2 (from 2012) - minus the stylus?" reads tweet #1.
Behold: Damian Holbrook - bringer of truth, spinner of wisdom, and assured sage...
"It's cute how Apple thinks their phablet is a fresh idea when Samsung has been excelling at them for years already #nextbigthing," goes tweet #2.
The video then winds down with a closing thought: "The new Samsung Galaxy Note 4 - the next big thing is here."
This ad joins a raft of preceding campaigns targeted at Cupertino wares, including a six-video torrent last week that hit out at the recently launched Apple products.
What's more, an ad last month, titled 'Screen Envy', teased iPhone users for lackluster screen real estate.
The video sees two friends, each armed with their respective Apple and Sammy smartphones, chatting grapevinery on the iPhone 6.
Sammy also released an ad mocking the (then upcoming) iPhone 6's rumoured screen size increase, as well as a further two ads jeering at the iPad's display quality.

Samsung Galaxy Note 4 review: Hands-on

The Samsung Galaxy Note was the first device that made us take phablets seriously. With its larger screen and productivity tools aiming to help us consume, create and share content quicker, it set the benchmark for those with a liking for the larger things in life.

No surprise then that the Koreans have stuck with a winning formula for the latest version - the Samsung Galaxy Note 4.

Following on from the Samsung Galaxy Note 3, improvements come in five lovely flavours with upgrades for the screen, camera, multi-tasking, battery life and voice functions.

Samsung Galaxy Note 4: Display

The Note 4 boasts a super sharp 5.7” Quad HD Super AMOLED display with 500 ppi pixel density.

Up close video playback and images look impressively sharp with good contrast and rich colours that’ll make this a good option for entertainment and gaming as well as work.

The adaptive display means the screen should hold visibility well in a good range of light conditions although we only got to see it in action under the glare of some Berlin conference room lights.

Samsung Galaxy Note 4: Camera and Photo Features

In addition to a 16 megapixel rear camera, the Note 4 packs a 3.7 megapixel front facing camera with an F1.9 aperture default 90 degree wide angle lens that claims to let in up to 60 per cent more light and has added selfie smarts.

It doesn’t matter if you call yourself a smartphone or a phablet, these days if you don’t help people taking a good selfie you’re nowhere. Luckily the Note 4 has this covered with 120-degree ‘wide selfie’ mode.

Much like snapping a panorama picture but this time of your own face, the selfie mode lets you get more of you and your surroundings into a single shot. A neat trick if the groupie is your snap of choice.

To make it all that little bit easier the rear-mounted heart rate sensor also acts as a trigger for snapping selfies and there’s optical image stabilisation there too to ensure good pictures from even the shakiest hands.

Samsung Galaxy Note 4: Features

So what’s new for the ‘it’s not a stylus’ S Pen? Well for a kick off, the Samsung super intelligent digi-pen has a new improved responsiveness that enables new handwriting features like a calligraphy pen and fountain pen.

Samsung has doubled the press sensitivity, enabled the S-Pen to read the speed, tilt and pressure of your virtual pen strokes more effectively. The results are effortless, free flowing hand writing that actually feels easier than it would if you were using the real thing. It’s the most impressive digital writing experience we’ve had to date.
To add a little more to the writing experience Samsung has also buddied up with Mont Blanc to create the first set of screen writers, the Mont Blanc Pic and the e-StarWalker.

For those who prefer to record rather than scribble notes, a small but impressive new feature is the Note’s new directional voice recording.

Three built-in microphones let you capture audio for up to eight people, remove background noise and isolate individual voices in playback.

Meanwhile the humble PC mouse makes a re-appearance in S-Pen form too. Recreating the left click actions you’d find on a mouse to select and copy words or pictures. A quick click of the button on the S-Pen enables you to select everything on a page that you draw a marquee around and it’s all shareable to other Note 4 apps.

Capturing, editing and organising real world scribblings is another trick the Note now has up its sleeve. With the new Snap Note function you can take photographs of notes on real world objects, let’s say on a whiteboard for example, and the Note will automatically adjust the angle to flatten the content and then let you erase the individual pen strokes, drawings or words you don’t need.

You can then clip and collate different cuttings, making it easier to capture information that’s been created outside of the virtual world of the Note.

Samsung Galaxy Note 4: Design and Build

In all honesty the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 looks much like the Samsung Galaxy Note 3. It comes with a very similar signature texture back in four supposedly fashion-friendly colours - frosted white, charcoal black, bronze gold and blossom pink.

From a design perspective, if you liked the Note 3 you’ll probably like the Note 4.
Samsung has added a cut metal frame and 2.5D glass that first appeared in the Galaxy S3 but has been toughened up. The Note 4 weighs in at 176g and is 8.5mm thin.

Samsung Galaxy Note 4: Battery Life

The Note 4 packs a 3220mAh battery and now features the ultra power saving mode that we first saw in the Samsung Galaxy S5, giving you the option to pair back your Note to all but the very basic functions to extend its battery life.

Added to that there’s new fast charging, that claims to give you up to 50 per cent battery inside 30 minutes – that’s allegedly 30 per cent quicker than the charge time we’ve seen on previous devices.

Samsung Galaxy Note 4: Verdict

It’s still a big phone so if you don’t like big phones this isn’t for you but with a range of clever new tricks, the Note 4 is probably the best productivity tool you can put fit in your pocket right now.  
Samsung Galaxy Note 4 release date: October 2014

Saturday, 13 September 2014

Apple’s 5.5-inch iPhone 6 Plus gets its official reveal at Apple’s 2014 launch event

Apple introduced last year’s iPhone 5S with a colourful, affordable sidekick in the form of the iPhone 5C and the dual-release mentality has carried over to 2014.

However, this year, Apple has targeted the trend for larger devices that was brought about by the likes of the Samsung Galaxy Note 4, the Sony Xperia Z Ultra and the HTC One Max.

The result is the iPhone 6 Plus, a 5.5-inch “phablet” that sits somewhere between the also-announced 4.7-inch iPhone 6 and the 7.9-inch iPad mini with Retina Display.

Like the new iPhone 6, the iPhone 6 Plus features more a curved, rounded and slim chassis that borrows more of its aesthetic from the iPad mini than previous iPhone generations.
It’s only 7.1mm thick with a back made from anodized aluminium with a stainless steel Apple logo on the back.

It appears most of the internet chatter regarding the specifications of the iPhone 6 Plus was on the money. The new smartphone features the rumoured 1920 x 1080 screen resolution, which means Full HD video viewing. Like it’s smaller brother, the iPhone 6 Plus uses "ion-strengthened glass" to better fare with scratches and knocks.

Inside is Apple’s newly announced 64-bit A8 processor and the company was keen to play up the gaming prowess of the new iPhone, although it's unclear what effect that larger screen will have on battery life.

Storage has been given a tidy boost to 128GB bringing it alongside the iPad mini. If you don’t need that much then fear not as 16GB and 64GB variants are also available.

Apple has gone down the tried-and-tested route with the iPhone 6L’s camera. It uses the same 8MP f/2.0 aperture lens as the iPhone 5S and the iPhone 6.
However, with the iPhone 6 Plus, Apple has added optical image stabilisation rather than the digital image stabilisation featured in the iPhone 6.

As with the iPhone 6, the iPhone 6 Plus will be arriving with the latest version of iOS out of the box.
In terms of cost, the iPhone Plus will start at $299 for the 16GB model, then go up to $399 for the 64GB version and finally $499 for the 128GB model. Like the iPhone 6, it'll be available to pre-order on September 12 and arriving in the shops on September 19.

Sunday, 4 May 2014

Google Project Ara will use new 3D printing method

Manufacturer 3D systems announced in a blog post the new techniques that are being implemented for the 3D-printing platform for Google’s Project Ara. 
The unconventional process will help bring to life Google’s vision of a smartphone that can be upgraded easily and cheaply by the consumer with complete control over the device's hardware design. 
3D Systems explained that the conventional 3D printing process suffers from frequent changes in speed, so the company is working on a continuous motion system that’s fast enough to handle mass production and generate “millions” of the parts. 
The company said it is also working on conductive inks for printing functional parts that are both hard and soft in a colour spectrum that includes cyan, magenta, yellow, black, white, and clear/transparency.
That means you’ll eventually be able to build your ideal smartphone, using only the parts you want to incorporate and leaving out the unnecessary extras. 
The new printing process should ensure Google’s Project Ara is up and running in time for its January 2015 launch date. 

Thursday, 10 April 2014

Samsung Galaxy S5 test proves phones strength

The Samsung Galaxy S5 may be dust and waterproof, but let’s face it. Most of the damage our smartphones recieve is more from knocks and scratches.
So what better way to test out how hardy the Samsung Galaxy S5 actually is than to take a hammer and a knife to it. Okay, so may it’s a bit over the top, but as you can see in the video below, it does actually hold up surprisingly well.
Much to the tester’s surprise, they accidently puncture the battery during the test. So if you’ve ever wondered why batteries come with that warning about not puncturing them, now you know why.
Obviously we don’t recommend you take a hammer or a knife to the phone. But if you do think you might need something a little more rugged than the phone itself, then check out our Samsung Galaxy S5 cases round-up.

Sunday, 6 April 2014

Why the future for gaming is smartphones

Why the future for gaming is smartphones
In 2013, gaming is more advanced and more popular than ever, but it’s not PlayStation Portables or Nintendo DSs we’re playing on – PlayStation Vita, the PSPs anticipated successor has been much less popular than anticipated -  it’s our smartphones!
The appeal of smartphones is that they combine two or more devices into just one; why carry a PDA or a camera when you could just carry a smartphone? The same can be said for gaming.
Here we take a look at the reasons why smartphone gaming as become so popular, as well as highlighting some top picks and new technologies – so try to stay off Angry Birds for five minutes, it’ll be worth it!
High tech features
While an Android or iPhone might not pack as much of a punch as consoles when it comes to hardware power, their high-tech features have become essential enablers of games which otherwise wouldn’t work, location-based activities using GPS tracking for example.
Accessories created specifically for, or utilised by, smartphones have vastly increased the capabilities of the mobile gamer. Products like the PowerA Moga – a controller which claims to unleash the gaming power of your Android and create a console-like experience on the go – or the iController which promises to do the same for iPhone, have brought a whole new level to handheld gaming.
Don’t forget your basic accessories either, things can get a little intense when you’re gaming so make sure you invest in a good screen protector, they’re available online at Mobile Madhouse. You wouldn’t want to smash your smartphone now that it’s your essential portal to the gaming world!
Smartphone gaming is also becoming increasingly social; Android’s Ingress for example, a hugely popular real-time, alternative-reality gaming app hosts a huge online community, and showcases the capabilities of Android

Saturday, 29 March 2014

Leak demos Nokia Lumia 630 running Windows Phone 8.1

Following previously leaked images of the Nokia Lumia 630, a hands-on video has now cropped up online ahead of the rumoured launch at Microsoft Build next week.
The video, courtesy of Coolxap, shows the improved Windows Phone UI as well as the new Action Centre notifications panel and its five megapixel camera interface.  
The Nokia Lumia 630 is said to be packing a 4.5-inch 854 x 480 screen display, a quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 processor and 1GB RAM.
Although the hands-on video below looks at a black model, the Lumia 630 is expected to launch in a range of bright colours.
According to leaks, it will be the first Windows Phone with on screen buttons, rather than the physical ones found on most devices today.
Nokia has announced an event scheduled for April 2, the first day of Microsoft’s Build conference, where it’s expected to announce Windows Phone 8.1 devices such as the Lumia 630 and Lumia 930.
Rumours also suggest that other Windows Phone 8.1 devices will make an appearance such as Nokia Lumia 1820, Lumia 1525 and Lumia 1520 V.

Monster launches 24k gold phone chargers

Tech firm Monster has partnered with Harrods to retail a limited edition range of 24K gold and platinum powercards.
Just like Monster’s standard powercards, these credit-card lookalikes will charge your iPhone 5S back to half health, should you run out of juice.
Unlike the standard issue cards however, the gold and platinum versions will set you back £1,200 and £1,300 apiece. Decadence or insanity? We’re not quite sure.
There are only ten powercards available to buy, with each device coming with its very own individual number and presentation case. It's the least you'd expect, considering the price.
Stocked exclusively at the luxury London retailer, these costly cards will fit right in amongst Harrods’ other premium products.
If your wallet is ever-brimming with cash, you can go snag yourself a gilded powercard from the department store’s third floor, currently home to Harrods technology event - running until 11th April.
If that doesn’t break the bank, you’ll be glad to know Monster has also crafted a pair of luxury headphones for their Harrods range - dubbed the DiamondZ - looking to set you back a further £250.

Friday, 28 March 2014

BlackBerry puts the squeeze on leakers

John Chen, who took over the beleaguered company in November, has threatened both leakers and the media with criminal proceedings if they report on any “critical and confidential project” until BlackBerry is ready to discuss it.
He described the leaks as both “distracting” and “misleading”. He said that it harmed stakeholders’ ability to properly understand what the company was doing as said that they are “seldom advantageous” for business.
“I recognise that, in some cases, the leaks reflect people’s genuine interest in BlackBerry,” Chen wrote in a post via BlackBerry’s official blog.
"There are a lot of people whose enthusiasm for our company and our products makes them want to know what we will do next — and that can be a tremendous asset for us as a brand.
“But, when curiosity turns to criminality, we must take strong action.”
He said that BlackBerry will now “take appropriate actions to prevent leaks from happening”. According to Chen, the company is already pursuing legal action against an individual for leaking information.
Chen admitted the company’s new approach would probably leak to fewer “blog posts with photos and rumours of the next BlackBerry smartphones”.
It is unlikely that Chen would have any success in suing publications as he has threatened.
In 1996, the Appellate Court in the United States ruled in a similar case brought by Apple that trade secrets are fair game for journalists – both offline and online – to report on.
In other words, don’t expect the rumour stories to stop flowing anytime soon.


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