Review: THL T7 Smartphone 4800mAh Powerful 4G

Introduction

I wasn’t really sure what to expect when I was offered this phone to review, given it’s price tag and specifications, it seemed a little odd. From what was advertised, it seemed to pack in a lot for such a low cost. The question is, does it match what is on offer?

Manufactures Description

  • 4800mAh POWERFUL BATTERY: It is a big challenge for techniques and technology to have 4800mAh big battery in only 9.1mm thinness phone, but we finally achieved both in THL T7
  • FASTER 4G LTE NETWORK: Provide fast web connection for downloading apps, streaming content and staying connected with social media
  • EFFECTIVE UNLOCKING METHOD: The fingerprint technology has 360 degree accuracy, which means that the user doesn’t have to bother about what position the finger should have when it touches the sensor. Gently press your finger on the sensor and your fingerprint will activate the phone and unlock it. Up to 5 fingerprints can be saved. Supports unlocking of homescreen.
  • 5.5” HD IPS SCREEN: The 5.5” HD screen with IPS material has excellent color reversal conversion performance, so not matter from which angle viewing, you can enjoy the bright,saturated, nature screen

Pro’s

  • Well designed
  • Premium feel
  • Good quality screen
  • Snappy response

Con’s

  • Made for lefties?
  • Average camera

Design

So let’s talk about the design and build quality first. The first thing that struck me about the THL T7 was the size. It’s a nice big screen, but there isn’t too much wasted space. The screen is extremely close to the edges, and the top and bottom of the device aren’t overly large. This has enabled them to keep the phone from becoming too big, but it is still worth noting, this is a big phone, it is a 5.5 inch display after all.

The build quality is much better than expected, and when compared to other devices in this price bracket it’s top class. The phone has a solid feeling metal frame that looks and feels great. On the back you’ll find a plastic casing which feels metallic at first touch, the camera at the top with a flash, and the finger print sensor just beneath, and finally a small speaker grill on the bottom of the rear casing.

There is a dual sim set up for those who need it, but if you don’t need multiple sims, then the second sim slot doubles up as a MicroSD slot. This is great for users who want more memory.

The only thing that I found a bit odd is that the lock/power key is on the left of the phone. It’s not a huge issue, but it definitely feels like a phone built for lefties.

Functionality

The phone is a speedy little beast. I found pretty much all apps loaded quickly and that switching between menu’s was seamless. The hardware inside of this phone really handles everything, giving a smooth experience throughout.

It’s also worth noting that there was a software update available straight out of the box, so once you’ve got the phone connected to the internet you might want to do this.

One thing that really let the phone down, especially how good it is in pretty much every area, was the camera. Capturing photos is extremely slow, so slow in fact that I could never get anything more than a blurred shot of something that moved. Even taking a completely still photo gave average results, which is a real shame given the camera specs. I’m not really sure what it is that causes the lower quality, software or hardware, but no matter what I did with the settings, photo quality was average at best.

On the plus side, the video quality I captured was good. I managed to get some good looking video which made up for the lacking camera quality when it came to stills.

Battery life on this is good. The phone packs in a large battery, but given the screen size and spec, it needs it. From what I found, I got between 4-5 hours of screen on time out of the phone which was easily enough to last a full day. This included checking emails, surfing the web, using whatsapp, keeping my Twitter account updated, and a few calls.

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Conclusion

So, the real question is, should you consider this phone? The short answer is yes. For the price you can’t go wrong. It’s powerful and has a great looking screen with awesome build quality. Yes, the camera is a little lacking, but for the price it’s not actually bad, just not what I was hoping for considering how good everything else is on this device.

It’s a very reasonable price for a pretty great bit of kit. Definitely worth checking out!

Uncharted Goes Mobile

If you’re a console gamer you’re likely aware that Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End was just released as the latest addition to the Uncharted series. Published by Sony, it’s exclusively available for the PS4, though it’s still being regarded as one of the biggest game releases we’ve seen yet in 2016. Reviews will be forthcoming in the next few weeks, but in the meantime I wanted to take a look at a smaller release that came out as a sort of companion to A Thief’s End: the UNCHARTED: Fortune Hunter app by Playstation Mobile, which was uploaded to app stores earlier this month.

While some might envision a console-like app game the likes of which we’ve begun to see related to some other titles, what Fortune Hunter provides is actually more akin to some other spinoff games we’ve seen of late. The clearest example might be Lara Croft GO, which accompanied the release of Rise Of The Tomb Raider on consoles. It basically took the setting and image of the larger console game but twisted into a puzzle solver/obstacle course game built for mobile. A similar spinoff was designed in the form of Hitman GO (to accompany the recent console game, Hitman), and both of these titles were developed by Square Enix.

Regarding the Uncharted series, there have actually even been some similar arcade and mobile games that almost seem like indirect adaptations of the main series. Perhaps the most intriguing is Betfair Casino’s Daring Dave & The Eye Of Ra, a slot machine game that closely resembles Uncharted in image and character. “Daring Dave” has a similar Indiana Jones vibe to Nathan Drake (indeed, the game even says it allows you to channel your inner Indiana Jones), and the idea is to spin a slot reel into a treasure hunting adventure.

Others might imagine a mobile spin on the Uncharted series and think of games like Imangi Studios’ Temple Run series. That particular series has been around for some time now and has gone through different themed versions, but the original game does evoke the same general sense of adventurous treasure hunting.

However, while all of these games certainly seem similar to the Uncharted series in their own respective ways, UNCHARTED: Fortune Hunter is the true mobile accompaniment in the spirit of Lara Croft GO or Hitman GO. In this game, your only task is to guide Nathan Drake along different puzzle grids (basically from a bird’s eye view), avoiding obstacles and “switches” as you work your way toward a prize on a pedestal. That’s about it as far as what the game entails, though there are plenty of little features built in to keep it more engaging than the average mobile puzzle experience.

To begin with, there’s at least some action involved in the form of little animations of Drake taking on obstacles, and that sets the game head and shoulders above Hitman GO, at least. You’re also tracking down famous treasures from history (as you do to some extent in the larger console games) and interacting with Sully, another key character, along the way. Naturally the puzzles grow progressively more difficult, and the prizes more significant – but unlike in some similar games there’s actually value to the greater prizes. You can essentially use them to unlock new puzzles, get new character outfits, or even link to your PlayStation Network account to earn rewards in Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End.

UnchartediOS_1Ultimately, it may not be the most intricate or mind-bending puzzle game you’ll be able to find on a mobile device, but it may still be the most satisfying game of its type. Both as a mobile version of an Uncharted game and as a specific side game to A Thief’s End, it’s quite a lot of fun.

3 Months With Windows Phone 10

Well it’s been 3 months now of using Microsoft’s latest mobile OS in it’s consumer iteration, and I thought I’d post a little on my thoughts. For a few months before the final release I was using an Insider build of the OS on my Lumia 640 which got me really excited about the future of Windows Phone. So how does it measure up to my expectations?

The unfortunate truth is that the current build of Windows Phone feels very much like it did when I used it 6 months ago. It is still a buggy and infuriating mess. This was something I could forgive back in the testing period, but now, when it’s meant to be in the hands of consumers, it needs addressing. The flaws of the OS are huge, with apps continuously crashing and just refusing to work. Since upgrading to my Lumia 950 I’ve found myself relying on a spare Android device for almost everything.

Go to use the camera, resuming, resuming, resuming, crashes. Repeat, crashes. Restart the phone, it works! This is the same for multiple applications, and no amount of software updates have made the OS any more stable.

To make matters worse it seems Microsoft are desperate for feedback. Right now it seems about 25% of the time I use an app I get a message pop up and stop me from using my device that says “Rate this app now!” No matter how many times I say no, Microsoft comes back with a vengeance asking again, and again, and again. Now we aren’t talking random free apps, we are talking about the phone book, the calculator, the damn built-in apps!

I won’t go into my thoughts on the Lumia 950, there’s not enough time in the day to talk about how flawed that device is, but Microsoft seem indifferent to their latest mobile OS. It seems that the current issues have existed for a long time, but they just aren’t getting addressed. Does Microsoft secretly want their mobile arm to die quietly? It seems that way.

What about all the good things though? What about Continuum? That looked awesome! No. It’s ok, but again, we are months in and nothing has changed, there are almost no universal apps outside of Microsoft’s own apps, and the entire experience is a laggy mess. It’s ok to use if you have nothing else at hand, but it’s far from perfect, in fact, it’s far from average. I expected more, but Microsoft seems lost in it’s attempt at getting people to develop for their mobile OS. We did just hear news about them scrapping their own app porting solution in an attempt to push developers towards their newest acquisition. Maybe in the long run this is a good thing, but in the short-term it delays everything again.

It isn’t all bad, and to be fair I’m too close to the situation. I’ve paid a lot of money for my device, and it’s the worst mobile experience I have EVER had. I love the idea of Windows Mobile, but I don’t think Microsoft are committed to the platform any more. Maybe they will surprise me, but I can’t stress this enough. If you’re curious to see what Microsoft’s mobile OS has to matter, turn away, bang your head on a wall, and chose Android or iOS. Window’s Mobile is still a beta OS and nowhere near ready for consumers!

Samsung Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge Get Official

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ll know pretty much all there is to know about the Samsung Galaxy S7 range. Today though, the devices have been officially announced, and there’s a nice little video to go along with the announcement.

The form factor of both devices remains very similar to last years models, but the internals have been beefed up, and the memory card slot is back!

Both devices will come with either a Snapdragon Qualcomm 820 SoC, or Samsung’s own Exynos 8890. Paired up with 4GB of memory, these devices promise some fantastic power. Throw in the fact that Samsung promises support for Vulkan, a new technology that will help developers to truly harness the hardware available for gaming, this years models truly could be something spectacular.

Another feature to return alongside the memory card slot is waterproofing, only this time, Samsung has gotten serious. Both models are IP68 rated, which means they are no longer just water resistant.

Camera wise, the S7’s pack a 12MP sensor, but the lower MP count isn’t something to turn away from due to an innovative technology in the f/1.7 aperture and Dual Pixel technology. The new camera promises fantastic low light shooting and super fast auto focus.

That’s just a quick overview of some of the features, mainly focusing on what’s returned or different from the previous versions. Check out Samsung’s video for more, and sound off in the comments below.

 

Review: Microsoft Lumia 950

Likes
• Light weight
• Lightning fast
• Awesome camera
• Dedicated camera button

Dislikes
• Random key presses
• Reboots
• Average battery

Introduction

So I finally have it, my Lumia 950. With the arrival of Microsoft’s first flagship handset, running their latest mobile operating system, things could really shape up and get interesting. The real question is, can Microsoft’s latest device hold its ground, especially when the competition is already fierce?

In all honesty, if you’d have told me 6 months ago that I’d be using a Windows device as my daily driver, I’d have laughed myself to death. I hated Windows 8 and disliked Windows Mobile just as much. The whole thing just seemed to be a mess, but after trying the Insider version of Windows 10 Mobile, my ice cold heart started to melt. A few months later and I’m wielding a Lumia 950.

So, let’s take a look at my thoughts and impressions.

Look and Feel

The first thing you’ll notice about the Lumia 950 is how nondescript it looks. A plain black slab with rounded corners. There’s no metal, but I don’t mind, the plastic shell feels durable with its matte finish, and it’s replaceable. On the rear of the device you’ll find a silver windows logo, camera hump, and triple LED flash. At the top is a single 3.5mm headphone jack, then left side has nothing, the bottom has a USB C port, and then the right side has volume rocker, power/lock button, and a camera key!

So all in all, it’s pretty plain, but it looks smart. The Lumia 950 resembles something I’d expect to see if the HTC HD7 and the Samsung Galaxy S2 had a baby. It feels light weight and comfortable to hold, and as I mentioned above, the back is replaceable and there are already some awesome looking rear cases hitting the market. Check out the Mozo shells as an example.

The display! Oh it’s gorgeous. It’s bright and the viewing angles are insane. This is one of the best displays I’ve seen. The quality is absolutely fantastic. I always hear people talk about the quality of blacks on the screen, and until using the Lumia 950 I hadn’t really paid any attention. In the dark the blacks blend in completely, leaving nothing but the colours on the display. It makes for a pretty interesting illusion when you’ve just got a Windows logo hovering above your hand when the phone boots up in the dark. Out of all the displays I’ve seen on a phone, this has to be the best I’ve seen.

Camera

The Lumia range have always been known for their fantastic camera’s and the Lumia 950 is no exception. The device is capable of capturing amazing photos with very little effort, but if you’re into playing with camera settings then you’re in luck!

There are a range of settings that you can customise, allowing for better manual shots to be captured. Also, for those who really seek quality, you can capture in both JPEG and DNG formats.

When using the Lumia 950’s camera I was impressed by how well the automatic settings worked. The auto focus was pretty good at finding it’s target, and macro photography works well with this device. I’ve used plenty of mobile phone cameras and when it came to close up shots they always seemed to struggle at close range, the Lumia 950 however performs great here.

The addition of the camera shutter key is a welcome one. It not only allows you to load the camera quickly just by clicking the button, but it also allows for better photography. You can hold the phone in a more natural position which will help minimise shake, and just click the button, there’s no need to try and get your finger on the screen. There are also two levels to the camera shutter key, a light press will focus the camera, and a second harder press will capture the photo.

The camera performs well in low light situations, with images coming out with very little noise compared to other smartphones (I’m looking at you Xperia Z5!) and for those truly dark situations you have a triple LED flash. Now, like most phone camera flashes this one isn’t great, with a tendency to light things up too much, draining colour from the subject, but it does perform better than most others. I would have preferred a Xenon flash like the Lumia 1020 had, but then I also like not having a huge camera hump.

I love playing with cameras, and the Lumia 950’s is a pleasure to use. From my experience it blows the competition out of the water, even the Xperia Z5 range.

Windows 10

I think it’s safe to say that regardless of the hardware Microsoft threw at their latest handset, unless they got the operating system sorted then it was destined to be a sinker. So how is it? A pleasure to use is the answer!

There’s something great about the simplistic look of my home screen. It’s easy to navigate to every app or service I use on a regular basis and the home screen doesn’t feel crowded despite having almost every app I use pinned to it. Love them or hate them, Live Tiles are back, and for the first time ever I find myself preferring this over the competition. My folders are organised, becoming one big live tile, for example, all of my office applications are in one folder, with the Live Tile cycling what is on display so I can see all the apps in the folder at a quick glance.

Windows 10 is lightning fast, with apps opening quickly and multi tasking working like a dream. The settings menu’s have been cleaned up, making individual options a lot easier to find now, unlike previous iterations in which it was sometimes impossible to find a setting you needed.

The Action Centre has also been improved, resembling Windows 10’s desktop counterpart. Pull down from the top and you’ll see your notifications, and just above these you’ll find your 4 most commonly used settings. Hit the expand button and you’ll find more quick settings, enabling you to toggle features quickly without digging deeper. These quick settings can be customised, allowing the user to chose which quick options you can add to your Action Centre.

As is always the case with Windows Mobile, the Lumia 950 comes with a host of Office Applications. We’ve got Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, and Outlook. These apps have all been massively improved and are a pleasure to use, even on the smaller screen. Outlook allows you to pin your individual email accounts to your home screen, letting you get to the email account you want faster, rather than having to fish through the app. Of course, these apps all become even better when you hook your Lumia 950 up to a monitor and use Continuum (More on that later)

So, it all seems pretty great right? Well, just remember that Windows 10 Mobile has literally only just launched for consumers, so you will find issues. So far my phone has rebooted every couple of hours (although this seems to have stopped since a software update last night) and certain apps seem to go a little mad, or just not work properly (I’m looking at you Groove Music!). I’m sure there will be updates landing quickly, but it’s worth taking into consideration that you will face issues during this early stage.

Despite these issues, the overall feel of the operating system is great. I absolutely love it. Is it for everyone? Probably not, but if you want something that looks and feels professional, is productive and easy to navigate, then Windows 10 Mobile is worth a look.

Windows Hello and Continuum

Windows Hello is perhaps my favourite feature of my Lumia 950. There’s just something fun about lifting my phone up and having it scan my eye to unlock! I mean, who wouldn’t have fun with that?

Once I got over the gimmick I found myself impressed by how accurate the scanner is. You can train it multiple times in the settings, which obviously helps increase accuracy. Windows Hello works in darker conditions, it works at arms length or right next to my eye, and it works at angles so you don’t need to stand like a statue, you can just unlock your phone naturally. If you switch between wearing glasses, then have no fear, Windows Hello recognises my eye with or without my glasses.

Now, there are two big problems with Windows Hello. The first is that it makes me unlock my phone like Derek Zoolander, I always seem to stop and strike a pose. Hopefully this will end soon! The other issue is that almost everyone who has seen me use this feature has immediately asked “What happens if you lose both of your eyes?”, this is normally followed by me being given some pretty insane hypothetical situations that I have to come up with solutions for.

When Microsoft announced the Lumia 950 they also revealed Continuum. This made me weak at the knees, and seeing it in action still has me really excited. As I mentioned above there are plenty of productivity apps and once they’re loaded up in Continuum they look just like their desktop counter parts. This is quite frankly awesome!

It’s in the early stages right now and doesn’t allow for multiple apps to run in windowed mode which is a shame, but hopefully with future updates Continuum will become even more similar to the Windows 10 desktop we are all becoming used to.

One thing that I feel is worth mentioning is that Continuum works with pretty much all forms of display adapters, both wired and wireless. I originally thought it would only work with Microsoft’s Display Dock, but then I paired my 950 with my Amazon Fire TV and BAM! Continuum worked. You can load Continuum with Miricast devices, standard HDMI adapters, basically anything that will pair your phone with a display. Pretty handy.

I won’t go into a massive amount of detail regarding Continuum as it deserves it’s own article, and also I need to spend more time with it before I can form any more opinions.

The App Gap

Whenever anyone talks about Windows Mobile, the ‘App Gap’ always seems to get thrown in there. Now, let’s be honest, there is a lack in applications for Windows mobile, but with universal apps working across all Windows 10 devices, it looks like the future could get brighter. For me, the app issue isn’t a big one. Everything I need and use on my phone I can download, with only a few apps that I’d like missing from the store.

However, there is one huge and glaring issue, and that’s maps! Here Drive is no longer the default sat nav app, which is understandable, but what really breaks my heart is that the application is no longer available to download. This wouldn’t be an issue, but Microsoft’s own maps app just isn’t as good.

Oh well! Things will get better, especially with universal apps, and to be honest there are already plenty of apps available.

Battery

One thing that I loved about my Lumia 640 was the battery. I was getting about 3 days of usage so I was hoping that the Lumia 950 might deliver similar results. Sadly it doesn’t, in fact, it’s one of the let downs on this device. Now, it’s not bad by any means, I get at least a solid day, we are talking at least 24 hours, but I wouldn’t like to try and get all the way through the second day without a charge.

One of the benefits is how fast this device charges. I plugged it in for about half an hour and came back to find the battery had almost completely charged from practically being flat. Now that’s impressive, I only wish the battery lasted a little longer, but it’s certainly not below average so it will do!

Conclusion

Well, that’s a brief overview of my thoughts on the Lumia 950. I absolutely love it and I can’t wait to see what comes with future updates to the software. This isn’t a phone for everyone, and probably shouldn’t be one that users who absolutely love their applications should get just yet, but this is definitely worth keeping an eye on. If Microsoft can deliver on their promises to get more apps onto their platform then they stand a very real chance of gaining market share in the mobile sector.

My only concern is how poorly Microsoft have handled the launch of the Lumia 950 and 950 XL. They confused potential buyers with where and who they could buy the phone from, there was also a lack of launch date and a huge delay between announcement and actual launch. To top it off, in the UK right now this device is still pretty much vapourware. It’s almost impossible to find in any stores which makes adoption… Well… Impossible! Fingers crossed Microsoft will pull their fingers out and give this device the support it deserves.

So, would I recommend this phone? Yes! Absolutely. I will be using this phone as my personal device and would put this head and shoulders above the competition in so many departments. It feels great and the camera is superb. If you’re a fan of the Windows ecosystem then this could be your next mobile purchase.

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iPhone 6 Rumors

We all know it’s coming, in fact in just less than a week we will know all the juicy details, but in the meantime there are plenty of rumours to keep us going. So what are some of the big ones on everyones mind?

Bigger Screen

This one seems pretty likely with all the leaked pictures we have seen and also with the competition increasing the size of their displays so dramatically. Will we see a larger iPhone display? I’d like to think so. I like the current size of the iPhone, but it is pretty tiny, especially after using other devices for a large amount of time. a 4.7″ display seems like a good size to settle one and if there is also a larger 5.5″ device to go along side the 4.7″ that would really make things interesting.

NFC

Will we finally see Apple embrace NFC in their next device? Although some would see this as Apples attempt to play catch up I honestly think if Apple implement NFC in their device then we will see the market finally change. NFC has been around for a long time but no one has really taken it seriously. Apple have the power, influence and ability to really kick NFC into life, gaining a good range of partners to bring it into the retail sector. Could they have what it takes to really spark mobile payments?

Lightning Headphones

Now here’s one I really hope isn’t going to come true. Some believe that Apple will kill the 3.5mm jack and allow the use of headphones through the lightning dock only. Although I could see Apple stepping in this direction, allowing them more control over what headphones their customers use, I really hope this doesn’t come true.

Saphire Display

A super strong display that only diamond can scratch? Sign me up! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve pulled my gadget from my pocket only to find a brand new scratch on the screen. If Apple can bring this rumour to life then I’d be more than happy.

Conclusion

Well there isn’t a conclusion, it’s all just rumour. We have to wait until September 9th when Apple will unveil their next iPhone. Apple have a lot to prove, so I’m excited by what we may see on the day. In the meantime all we can do is wait!

Nokia Lumia 1020 Review

Introduction

The Nokia Lumia 1020, a beast of a handset wielding a monster of a camera. Some would say it’s crippled by its operating system, whereas some truly enjoy the Windows Phone ecosystem. I decided to give it a try, taking the phone for a spin and giving Windows Phone a chance on a high end handset. So what did I think?

Look and Feel

The Lumia 1020 is a big phone, but it feels nice in the hand. It has curved edges with no horrid sharp corners like some phones have, making it much more comfortable. The polycarbonate shell looks fantastic and promises to keep your phone looking smart throughout it’s life.

Despite Nokia getting the curves and the look right, the phone is chunky. One major area that makes this device uncomfortable to hold is the camera lens. Granted, its one of the phones best features, but it comes at a cost, sticking out of the back of the phone and making it awkward to hold in one hand.

Camera

There’s a lot to say about the camera on the Lumia 1020, but I can sum it all up with just one word, wow. This device takes the best pictures I have taken on any smartphone currently on the market. The picture quality is absolutely outstanding and the range of shooting features really is impressive.

The biggest thing for me that really stood out is the xenon flash. There are no situations where it’s too dark to take a picture with the Lumia, the flash helping to capture brilliant photos even in extremely low light conditions. The pictures aren’t void of life, or washed out like they are with a standard LED, and this feature has really come in handy.

Battery

Here’s where things take a turn for the worst. I’m used to smartphones and their tendency to drink battery, however the Lumia may as well be a landline phone! At best I’m lucky if I can squeeze 12 hours from my device, and that’s with relatively low usage. For anyone who needs a phone to last the day then look elsewhere, or at least stock up on battery packs.

What I liked

There are a few things that really impressed me. Obvious the camera is right up there, but the Nokia Here Drive feature offered amazing sat nav. It has a whole host of features and hands down blew every other devices built in GPS out of the water.

What I disliked

The battery! This is by far the most disappointing aspect of the Lumia 1020, ruining an otherwise great phone. I’ve tried all sorts, lowing my brightness settings, turning off most of my wireless functions, but no matter what I do, the battery is just poor.

Conclusion

So I thought I would hate this phone, only enjoying the camera, but oddly I’ve found myself growing very attached. The camera is great and I’ve even grown to like windows phone, something I never thought would happen.

The major things people need to consider when deciding if you want this device is the size and the battery. Phones are getting bigger, but they are also getting slimmer. The Lumia is big and relatively fat. The battery will most likely be a deal breaker for most people. Luckily I work with chargers all around me, but if I didn’t have constant access to the mains then I don’t think I could put up with this phone despite how much I love everything else about it.

If camera and price are at the top of your list, then give this device some consideration. If portability and battery are at the top, then turn away now.

My new Lumia 1020

I’ve recently switched to a Nokia Lumia 1020 running Windows Phone 8.1 and so far I really like it. I’ve had a hate hate relationship with all Windows products over the last few years but after seeing a demonstration of the new features on 8.1 I decided to give it a go.

As always I’ll write a full review after I’ve spent more time with the device but I’m pleasantly surprised so far. It’s well built and feels premium and the camera is fantastic.

Blackberry Q10 Review

Introduction

The Blackberry Q10 is the latest flagship qwerty device from the declining Canadian manufacture. It’s their premium model, the go to for business phones. So how well does it stand up against the competition and can it deliver something that other manufactures are missing?

Look and Feel

The first thing that struck me about the Blackberry Q10 is how well it is made. It feels premium and looks great. It has a good weight about it and feels durable, unlike some of the plastic competition out there. The textured back cover adds a little extra grip while also looking the part, with a carbon fibre look to it.

The main feature of this phone, its qwerty keypad, feels and responds excellently. I didn’t realise how much I missed using a hardware keyboard until I took the Blackberry Q10 for a spin. The keys are large and well spaced and the whole thing just fits nicely with the OS, especially when used as a business device.

User Interface

The operating systems is pretty good. I’ve only seen little short sharp bursts of Blackberrys own OS in action, playing with it for small amounts of time. This was the first time that I gave the OS any true attention and I must admit I’m impressed.

I love the multi tasking on the device and the gesture controls. You have your application panels, and when you finish with an app they will appear as tiles on your main screen, giving you the option to close them once you no longer need them. Having my open apps visible made me close them down when I was done with them, helping me to save battery where possible.

Gesture control works pretty well, swipe up to minimise an app and return to your main menu, really simple, effective, and above all, easy to use.

The operating system just worked, and it worked nicely. It’s main downfall… apps… or lack of. I loaded up the Blackberry application store and punched in the name of my two most commonly used apps to find neither were available. Now i understand you can side-load Android apps but for the average consumer this isn’t going to be overly appealing.

Battery

For a smartphone the Blackberry Q10 came out above average for its battery. I got a solid two to three days worth of juice out of this device and that’s with some good solid usage. It’s not quite as good as some of the Blackberrys we’ve seen before in terms of battery but it’s hand down better than the competition.

What I liked

I loved the keyboard. As I said before I didn’t realise how much I’d missed a hardware keyboard but using the Blackberry Q10 has reminded me how nice a physical keyboard on a smartphone can be.

What I disliked

Lack of applications has to be my biggest gripe with the phone. Why Blackberry haven’t started funding developers is beyond me. They are too reliant on the fact that this will be used as a business phone, or that people will just instal Android apps, but in reality neither is true.

Conclusion

My time spent with the Blackberry Q10 has left me with mixed feelings. It is a good solid device with a fantastic operating system, but the lack of application support leaves the device with an uncertain future.

I honestly thought I would hate the phone but I’m more than a little impressed. I would quite happily have this as my personal device. If applications aren’t overly important to you and battery life, combined with a fantastic keyboard are at the top of your list then this could be the device for you.

After my experience I wouldn’t write Blackberry off just yet. If they can work some magic and get developers on board, then there maybe some life left.





Blackberry Q10 Hands On

So I’ve decided to give the Blackberry Q10 a test drive. I’ve always found Blackberry’s newest operating system to be quite intriguing and I’m not sure why. I guess it just looks clean and it also has some pretty intuitive stuff on there.

I’ll post a full review shortly but my first impressions are mixed. It’s been 24 hours and so far the battery is pretty good, hands down beating my iPhone 5S. The keyboard is lovely to use and makes me miss the good old days when there were plenty of QWERTY devices available. Where the Blackberry Q10 really falls down is apps.

Now I know you can side load Android applications onto the device but that really seems like a long winded mess. I still cannot understand why Blackberry haven’t put a huge focus on getting developers onboard with their operating system! Bribe them if you have to! Now, you don’t need an app for everything, the browser is more than capable, but at times it falls short.

So I shall continue my test drive of the unknown. It’s only fair I finally give a Blackberry device some attention rather than judging the things before I’ve even had a proper play.

Wish me luck, there is a chance one of us won’t survive this experience…

iPhone 5S Review

Introduction 

Its been a long time since I used an iPhone for personal use. I fell in love with Android some time back and shunned the iPhones seeing them as basic and small so I really expected to dislike the iPhone 5S, in fact I wanted to dislike it. However the opposite has happened, I’ve fallen in love with it.

Look and Feel

Apple have done what Apple do well, built a device that looks and feels amazing. Its superbly lightweight and the screen looks fantastic despite it being relatively small. The iPhone feels premium, beautifully crafted and fantastic to handle.

I’ve been put off the smaller screen of the iPhone for some time now, preferring the mammoth sized displays you find on Androids. However using the iPhone reminded me of what this device is, its a phone. It no longer takes up every bit of space in my pocket and it feels comfortable to hold during lengthy calls. It still does everything else well while at the same time doesn’t over stretch its purpose. With tablets at such reasonable prices why do we also opt for giant displays on our phones?

If you are used to previous generations of Apple devices then you may find yourself in need of new charging or dock accessories as the port in the iPhone 5 and above has changed. There was outcry when this happened but at the end of the day it saved on time and also this device charges up extremely fast.

User Interface

I wasn’t a fan of iOS 7 on the iPad but on the iPhone it works well. Its punchy and sharp and responds extremely fast. Noticeable differences from the previous OS are the complete change of style, new launcher options and revamped multitasking.

We still lack some of the customisation options that you would find in an Android device but iOS 7 is pretty nice. Its fast and intuitive and above all else its extremely simple to use. Like all previous iOS devices Apple have maintained that quality where anyone can pick up a device and find their way around it regardless of experience.

Camera

Here’s where things aren’t quite as good. The camera is an improvement over previous models and the dual LED flash is a welcome addition. I managed to snap some great looking pictures on the go and with the additional camera functions, such as slow motion videos, things got really fun.

However, where the camera falls down is against its competition. Its the best Apple camera on any of its devices but when pitted against competition flagships it falls short. The main devices I have used along side the iPhone 5S are, Galaxy Note 3, Xperia Z1 and the Lumia 1020. What we do need to consider however is that they pack a better camera but they are also huge devices when compared to the iPhone. Its a trade off you need to decide on.

Battery

Battery life was surprisingly good, easily lasting me a full day. Its what I’ve come to expect from this kind of device. It won’t blow you away and you’re still going to need to charge this on a daily basis.

What I liked

Surprisingly I loved the size of the device. It felt almost perfect to use as a phone with all the smart added extras. For me it is nearly perfect as I carry a tablet around everywhere I go and have the option of using my iPhone as a mobile hotspot. For some, the size will be a let down, for others a massive bonus.

What I disliked

The price. Yes Apple have made a beautiful and premium device but I still cannot accept that it is worth the asking price. It has lovely features and is well crafted but its a hefty price tag.

Stand Out Feature

The finger print reader for me was the stand out feature. I expected it to be a gimmick, something that rarely worked. Instead I found it to be fully functional and pretty handy. Literally I pressed my thumb on the home key and voila! No need for patterns, codes or pin numbers.

Conclusion

In conclusion I loved the iPhone 5S and I can’t really fault it. Potential buyers need to decide on what they really need from a phone and take a look at what other devices they carry. If you lug a tablet around with you then the iPhone is a nice companion. If you’re looking for an all in one device for heavy browsing on productivity on the go then this device probably isn’t for you.

Is it worth the price tag? Hard to justify really. However its one of the most surprising devices I’ve used in a long time and for once I’ve been pleasantly excited while using the iPhone.

Check it out here: iPhone 5S

Xperia Z1 Review

Introduction

The Xperia Z1, Sony’s latest flagship, is an amazing bit of kit. The specs are formidable and the build quality is fantastic. So what does this all add up to in real world use?

Look and Feel

As I mentioned above the Xperia Z1 is a wonderfully built piece of kit. It feels premium to hold. It’s a combination of glass and metal which really helps the Z1 to stand out against the competition.

The screen quality is superb, full HD 1080 with Bravia technology which really makes the screen stand out. The colors look natural and the picture quality is extremely sharp. I really can’t fault the display on the Xperia.

Where the Xperia falls short is the size of the thing. It’s a big phone, and that’s coming from someone who used the Galaxy Note 2 for almost a year. Due to the device being water and dust proof Sony have compromised on size. The Xperia Z1 is far larger than its rivals and at times can be pretty uncomfortable to hold, its sharp corners digging into your palms and making one handed usage almost impossible.

User Interface

The Xperia Z1 runs on Android and is extremely snappy, responding to almost everything I could throw at it without any lag. I found that Sony hadn’t loaded the device with too much bloat ware and their custom launcher was nice to use which is a pleasant surprise.

Camera

The Z1 packs a whopping 20.7 mega pixel camera which works fantastically well in low light conditions due to the size if its lens. Adding to this is the return of the hardware camera key on the side of the Z1 which helps to snap those perfect shots.

I absolutely loved and hated the camera on the Z1. It’s an odd beast, either taking some of the best shots I’ve ever managed or alternatively snapping nothing but a blurry mess.

I found that a lot of the issues cropped up when I used Sony’s ‘Superior Auto’ shooting mode which automatically switches settings in order to capture the best shot. I’ll warn you now, more often than not it gets things wrong.

Switching the phone into manual shooting mode gives a much higher chance of snapping a fantastic shot, but still my experience was plagued with awful blurry pics. I don’t know why the Z1 is inconsistent but unfortunately it is. In comparison to other smartphones it may be capable of taking the better pictures but more often than not it will let you down.

Battery

For a phone like this the battery life is pretty good, which is handy considering it is built in. Consistently I’ll get a full days worth of battery which includes just over 4 hours of screen on time. For the power users amongst you I would suggest carrying a portable battery if you are going to be away from a charger for a lengthy period of time.

What I liked

I absolutely love the build quality and waterproof feature on this phone. The Z1, despite its size, is a joy to handle. Throw in the added bonus that I don’t have to worry about using it in the rain and I can capture novelty underwater photos and you’re onto a winner.

What I disliked

Potentially the best and the worst feature on the Z1, its camera. I loved how amazing some of the photos captured on the device look but I hate how inconsistent it is. Even in the exact same scene, with the exact same settings photo quality will differ drastically.

Ultimately it ruins the camera for me as it just can’t be trusted to capture those fantastic shots it is capable of. Fingers crossed it is just a software fault and not hardware.

Conclusion

The Xperia Z1 is a beautiful phone with the specs to match. For those camera enthusiasts amongst you it is worth giving a shot, that is if you can tolerate the inconsistent quality issues.

Be warned, for those who have smaller hands this may not be the device for you. It’s closer in size to the Galaxy Note 2 than it is to its 5 inch screen competitors.

For a full run down of specs check out the Sony Xperia Z1.



CES 2014

So CES is just around the corner and I must admit I’m intrigued to see what this years show has to offer.

I’m sure we will see a whole range of wearable tech being shown off with manufacturers battling to be the first to get this right. So far no one has really brought a product to market that has had a large market appeal so 2014 could prove to be exciting for wearables.

Tablets have my attention. I’m tired of the increasing specs and what I really want to see is something with a larger screen. Samsung are rumoured to be working on something around the 12 inch mark. With bezels getting smaller there’s so much more room to increase screen size. We’ve seen it happen with mobile phones so fingers crossed that will translate into the tablet market.

My Top 10 Gadgets 2013

Below is a list of my top 10 favourite gadgets that I used throughout 2013. I got to play with a whole load of different toys and enjoyed most of those. Check out my thoughts below and click the links for more details in Amazon.

1: Macbook Pro Retina 13 inch 

 

Recently I took the plunge and upgraded from my 11 inch Macbook Air and I’m very glad I did. The Macbook Pro is a stunning machine. Its fast, responsive and above all the screen is beautiful.  

I’m no Apple fan boy, far from it in fact, but I’ve got a place in my heart reserved for MacBooks. So far my pro has served me well and is a fantastic step up from my Macbook Air. I love the larger screen size and the retina display is to die for. 

The device just feels premium and is everything I could ask for. For what I need, the Macbook Pro Retina is perfect and I would recommend it above everything else. True love has been found in 2013. 

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The Samsung Galaxy Note 2 was my personal phone for the best part of 2013 and I loved it. I recently changed to the Sony Xperia Z1 and find that I miss the screen size and stylus from my Note. Even it’s cheaper plastic finish isn’t enough to put me off, in fact its a bonus, making the device light weight. The Note 2 is easily my favourite phone that I used in 2013. 

Sony hit a niche market with this product. The camera on my phone is one of the biggest features I use and now with the QX10 lens I don’t really need to worry about the camera quality onboard my chosen phone. The device has god battery, is small and compact and relatively easy to use even for an amateur like myself.  

The zoom is absolutely fantastic and snapping pics in low light conditions is amazing. The lens far exceeds any dedicated camera built into a smart phone that I have used so far and that includes the Nokia Lumia 1020. 

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So I felt it was time to upgrade my graphics card in 2013 and I’m glad I did. This was the first year that I played some big name single player games from start to finish and actually enjoyed them. Games like Bioshock Infinite ran like a dead dog on my previous card but after installing my GTX 680 it ran like a dream. 

Nvidias physx also added a little spice compared to my previous AMD card. Its nothing to really shout about but there were a few noticeable differences in certain games that caught my eye, the biggest being in Planet Side 2 with its oddly beautiful teleporter effects. 

2013 was the year that I returned to dedicated portable gaming hardware thanks to Pokemon’s lure. I had always used a tablet or phone for casual gaming, singing the devices praises and condemning portable gaming hardware, saying how redundant it was. It wasn’t until I returned to true hardware controls that I realised how wrong I had been. 

The 3DS is a lovely size and very comfortable to hold. Its got a great sized screen and has a pretty good catalogue of games. I’m glad I made the move back to a portable console and couldn’t be more impressed with this device. 

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I have a love hate relationship with Sony. I want to love their products but I’ve always been unlucky in the past with all my Sony branded products going faulty. So with great reluctance I gave up my note 2 and got myself an Xperia Z1. 

Am I glad I did? Kind of. The camera is hit and miss, half of the time it takes better quality photos than I’ve ever taken before, the other half it captures horrid blurs. It feels so solid and premium unlike most Android devices which is a welcome change and the waterproof feature actually works! Its beyond fast, responding like lightning and very rarely lagging. 

The downside is its huge and my device is already faulty which is a real shame. I’ve had it exchanged and the second unit was faulty so it appears my bad luck with Sony has continued. 

The Nexus 7 is my tablet of choice at the moment. Its a relatively low cost, yet powerful device. Sporting pure Android with no manufacturer interference leaves the Nexus running blazingly fast. 

Its light weight and feels great in the hand, its rubberised back and sides stopping it from sliding all over the place and making it easier to grip. The screen size is both a positive and a negative, small enough for light browsing, gaming and work but too small for anything more. 

Overall I’m impressed with the Nexus and have so far enjoyed using it on the train to work.  

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Ah the iPad mini. This would easily be my device of the year if it wasnt for a certain software update. The iPad mini feels and looks fantastic. The screen size is perfect for on the go work and gaming. Its not too big and not too small, the best tablet size I have used. The battery life was good and it ran smoothly, never skipping a beat. 

So what changed? iOS 7 landed, turning my iPad mini into a horribly slow device. My iPad was so slow it had become unbearable to use. I understand that older Apple hardware begins to run terribly slow as new software updates land but the iPad Mini was still a current device at the time of iOS 7. In my opinion this was a terrible move by Apple. 

I miss my iPad mini as it was easily the best tablet I have ever used. After the way Apple destroyed my device I don’t think I’ll be taking the plunge and updating to the latest model. 

My first Windows 8 tablet. There is huge potential from these hybrid devices but I still don’t feel like any manufacture has gotten dit right so far. I really enjoyed my time with the Ativ Smart PC Pro but it ultimately felt like a jack of all trades. As a tablet it was average and as a laptop it was average. 

The keyboard dock was plagued with disconnection issues and as tablet the device was just too big and bulky. The thing that really killed my experience was Windows 8 which offered a very jarring experience. Modern UI and desktop mode just don’t fit together at all killing any seamless experience you would expect from a device such as this. 

The concept is sound and the potential is massive but I can’t help but feel that these hybrid devices are just lacking. 

So I mentioned already that I have a love hate relationship with Sony and the same applies with the Xperia Tablet Z. I loved the feel of it. Its so slim, with a beautiful screen and gorgeous matte finish. Its probably the nicest looking Android tablet out there. 

However its incredibly slow. Almost everything I did on the device was laggy unless I installed a custom launcher. Web browsing was poor and just navigating menus was slow. I’m not entirely sure what Sony did to this device to make it respond so poorly! Needless to say my time was short lived with this device.