By Allan Pulga
News last week of Motorola's profitable second quarter indicate promise for the embattled phone maker.
IDG News Service reported (Aug. 11) the company sold 8.6 million smartphones in Q2, up from 6.5 million in Q1, and more than double what it sold in Q2 2013. IDG said this growth was largely due to popularity of its Moto G (pictured above) and Moto E phones.
IDG also noted these sales numbers "pale in comparison with those of Apple and Samsung, which sold 35.2 million and 75 million phones last quarter, respectively." Nevertheless, Motorola's resurgence surprised industry analysts.
Also working in Motorola's favour: Rumours it is working with Google on a 5.9-inch Nexus phone. But wait, Google sold Motorola's mobile division to Lenovo, right? Don't worry. Lenovo is doing just fine in the mobile game too.
By Allan Pulga
TechCrunch reported (Aug. 8) on an Android feature that prompts whomever finds your lost phone to call you right away.
"If you lose your phone, just head over to Google’s browser-based Android Device Manager," wrote TechCrunch's Greg Kumparak. "Tap the lock button, toss in a "Recovery Message” (read: a plea to whoever finds the phone to not be a jerk) and an unlock password, and add a phone number where you can be reached."
By Allan Pulga
CDN reported yesterday (Aug. 7) that Chinese phone maker ZTE has entered the Canadian mobile market with its Grand X Android smartphone.
The phone, which features a 5-inch HD display, a 5-megapixel camera and a 1.2 GHz quad core processor, is available through Bell or Virgin Mobile for $149 unlocked (or $0 on a 2-year contract)
By Allan Pulga
Apple has apparently been bringing its A-game in terms of mobile devices lately: The Verge (Aug. 6) named its iPad Air "the best tablet you can buy."
This, just a couple months after it named the iPhone 5s "the best phone you can buy."
On the iPad Air, The Verge's Dan Seifert wrote:
"When everything is added up, the best tablet is Apple’s iPad Air. The
fifth version of the tablet since Apple introduced the iPad in 2010, the
iPad Air is extremely well built, exceptionally thin and lightweight
(one pound exactly), and performs very well. Its battery easily lasts
multiple days, its processor is very fast, and its high-resolution
display is excellent. The screen is the No. 1 most important part of a
tablet, and the Air’s is great for reading, while vibrant and colorful
enough for video. There’s really nothing to complain about when it comes
to the Air’s hardware."
Seifert gave the iPad Air a rating of 9.3.
He noted that it was basically a tie for first place, but put the iPad Mini as runner-up. Here are his Top 5 tablets:
- Apple iPad Air: 9.3 ($423-$500)
- Apple iPad Mini: 9.3 ($340-$400)
- Asus Nexus 7: 9.0 ($230)
- Microsoft Surface Pro 3: 8.0 ($757-$800)
- Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4: 7.8 ($400)
One thing about the Surface Pro 3 that jumped out at me was its price tag ($757-$800). Perhaps that has something to do with its abysmal sales performance to date.
By Allan Pulga
Yesterday, BGR's Zach Epstein reviewed the new LG G3, which released in the U.S. this month.
Epstein points out that the G3 is in a "nice window of opportunity" right now, with hype surrounding the springtime releases of the HTC One M8 and the Samsung Galaxy S5 tailing off, and with Apple's iPhone 6 release still a couple months away.
Some highlights from Epstein's review:
- Display: The G3 is the first widely available smartphone with a quad HD (2K) display. "It's incredible," he says.
- Software: "LG has done a nice job of adding value to Google’s Android 4.4 software without being overbearing, (unlike Samsung's TouchWiz software)." He acknowledges there is some carrier bloatware on the device, however.
- Industrial Design and UI: "LG’s decision to move the power/sleep and volume buttons to the back of the handset gives the phone a fantastic look from the front, but they’re not terribly comfortable or convenient to use despite claims made in LG’s marketing."
- Camera: "Focusing the G3’s 13-megapixel shooter is lightning fast thanks to laser-assisted focus, and it captures photos and videos that are very clear and vivid. Edges are nice and smooth, and color reproduction is also impressive. The camera features optical image stabilization as well, to help prevent blurring."
- Two complaints: 1) The phone is gorgeous and sleek, but "feels plasticky" compared to the HTC One M8 or the iPhone 5S. 2) The phone is too big, at 5.76 inches tall by 2.94 inches wide and 0.35 inches thick.
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By Allan Pulga
When Amazon announced the Fire Phone last month, it didn't seem all that revolutionary. Early reviews are confirming that.
Amazon touted the phone's key selling features "Dynamic Perspective" (a display that offers 3D-like visuals, pictured above) and "Firefly" (which lets you scan things to buy them online, and presumably on Amazon).
Here's what reviewers had to say about them, and the rest of the phone, this week. (It becomes available in the U.S. tomorrow, July 25, on AT&T.)
- Adriana Lee, ReadWriteWeb: "App developers seem to be excited about the new things they might do with Firefly and Dynamic Perspective (just imagine it for gaming). But for now, these features aren’t much more than novelties that hit the battery. Hard."
- Lee called the Fire Phone's battery life "pathetic." She also noted the phone is only available in the U.S. and on AT&T.
- The Fire Phone runs a special version of Android, which ties the phone to its own app store, cutting out Google Play completely. This is bad for longtime Android users, who may have to re-download many apps. "Popular apps - like Google Maps and Google Drive - aren't even available."
- Andrew Cunningham, Ars Technica: "Dynamic Perspective, while not of a whole lot of practical use, is the kind of showroom feature a brand new phone like this needs to stand out. Firefly is just as impressive, and it's much more useful."
- Cunningham praised FireOS' motion controls and said the camera and battery life are both pretty good. He also called Amazon Prime (free for the 1st year, a $99 value) and Cloud services "decent add-ons."
- But should people buy the Fire Phone over competing devices? " For the time being, the answer is no," he says.
- Geoffrey A. Fowler, Wall Street Journal: "The Fire (and its head-tracking controls) is the grown-up equivalent of a 9-year-old riding a bike with his hands in the air. "Look, Ma, no hands!" It's a neat gimmick, but it won't get you very far."
- Like Lee, Fowler bemoaned the Fire Phone's poor battery life, calling it "the biggest reason I wouldn't switch" to the device. "In my battery torture test, which involves streaming a video over Wi-Fi with the screen at 50%, the Fire lasted just 6 hours and 40 minutes, 16% less than the Galaxy, and 25% less than the iPhone."
And there you have it. I would agree that battery life is typically a big differentiator when choosing a flagship phone. For me, so is the camera. But as many reviewers have pointed out, before you switch from your current phone to this one (at a cost of $200 with a contract or $650 unlocked - when only AT&T will carry it), its unique features need to be compelling, its common features superior, AND you should keep all the apps you like. So far, the Fire Phone offers none of the above.