Droid Turbo: $200 Price Tag, Amazing Battery

November 21, 2014  by Allan Pulga
Droid Turbo - Source: Engadget

Motorola's latest phone has impressed many with its affordable price ($200) and exceptional battery life. The device, however, is currently only available in the U.S. (on Verizon).

Here's what the experts had to say about the Droid Turbo:

Engadget: Motorola Droid Turbo review: better than the Moto X, but only a little (Nov. 11)

  • Rating: 90/100
  • Pros: Long battery life; attractive Quad HD screen; powerful performance; camera a clear improvement over the Moto X's
  • Cons: Less charming design than the Moto X; no expandable memory; it's exclusive to Verizon

CNET: Powerful Droid with an enduring battery, at the right price (Nov. 18)

  • Rating: 4/5
  • "Even with its hefty design, the Motorola Droid Turbo's robust battery, powerful processor and vivid display put it on the short list for Verizon customers."
Droid Turbo - Source: CNET

PC World: Droid Turbo review: Motorola's big red phone is almost unkillable (Nov. 18)

  • Rating: 4/5
  • "If you’re locked in to Big Red and are looking for an all-around great phone that can do just a little bit more than your friend’s—and you don’t mind its uninspiring, utilitarian design—the Droid Turbo is worth your consideration."

The Verge: Motorola Droid Turbo review: More specs come with more compromises (Nov. 19)

  • Rating: 7.7
  • "Good stuff": Long battery life; useful software features; fast performance
  • "Bad stuff": Chunky, heavy design; lots of bloatware; slow camera

Now about that battery... Gizmodo's Darren Orf wrote (Oct. 30) that although Verizon advertised the phone as having a battery that lasts 48 hours, he tested it and said, "in my short time with the Droid Turbo, two days seems like a stretch."

Orf used the phone as he would any phone, unplugging from the charger at 8 a.m., using it throughout the workday (battery life was at 35% as he left work), a bit in the evening and didn't charge that night. "My phone was dead by 11 a.m. the next day."

So, we've been forewarned.

A Rundown of Nexus 6 Reviews

November 17, 2014  by Allan Pulga
Nexus 6 - Source: TechCrunch

All the major tech review sites weighed in on the new Nexus 6 smartphone last week. Here are some of the highlights:

 CNET: Prepare to pay for the biggest Android Lollipop powerhouse (Nov. 12)

  • Rating: 4/5
  • "Although the Nexus 6 trails the slimmer Samsung Galaxy Note 4 in processor performance and native productivity features, it's still the most powerful pure Android handset available and the largest Nexus yet."

 The Verge: Nexus 6 review: Go bigger or go home (Nov. 12)

Nexus 6 - Source: The Verge

  • Rating: 8.6/10
  • "Good stuff": Stock Android Lollipop; big, beautiful screen; fast performance
  • "Bad stuff": Camera is only average; some software bugs; unpredictable battery life

Engadget: Google shows it can make a big-screen phone (Nov. 12)

  • Rating: 86/100
  • "The Nexus 6 is Google's first attempt at a phablet, and is the most premium Nexus we've seen to date. It's powerful, high-res and comes with the latest and greatest version of Android. But be warned that it's difficult to use with one hand, and its battery life is average at best."
  • No rating.
  • Pros: It’s huge; solid battery life; beautiful screen; Lollipop (Android 5.0) is freakin’ gorgeous; loud, front-facing speakers
  • Cons: Seriously, it’s huge; the lack of expandable memory slot is a deal breaker for some

MKBHD, with Verge, Describes His 'Dream Smartphone'

November 17, 2014  by Allan Pulga

Self-made tech review wunderkind Marques Brownlee collaborated with the Verge Video team last week (Nov. 12) to assemble his dream "Frankenstein beast of a phone."

The 4-minute video is fascinating not just in outlining Brownlee's design and spec preferences, but in the Verge Video team's interactive diagrams - which morph and mold according to his narration. Very cool stuff. (See video below.)

Here's a brief summary of the devices from which Brownlee's "Dream Smartphone" borrows:

  • Body: HTC One M8 (with squared corners like the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 and back panel texture from Nokia Lumia series)
  • Screen: LG G3
  • Specs: Quad core Snapdragon 805 processor; 3 GB RAM; Adreno 420 GPU
  • Battery: Moto Droid Turbo (has a 3,900 mAh battery)
  • Camera: iPhone 6 Plus... BUT it doesn't shoot 4K video so, he goes with the Galaxy Note 4 camera
  • OS: pure stock Android 5.0 Lollipop
  • Storage: 128 GB onboard flash storage

Microsoft Launches 'Band,' a New Wearable

November 7, 2014  by Allan Pulga
Microsoft Band video screenshot

Last week (Oct. 29), Microsoft released a video (embedded below) announcing its new wearable, Microsoft Band.'

The company describes it as a "smart band... powered by Microsoft Health" that allows users to "live healthier, be more productive, and stay connected with the people and moments that matter most."

Unlike many other wearables, which are exclusive to a specific OS (e.g. Android wearables only connect to Android phones), the Microsoft Band is compatible with Windows Phone, Android or iOS. For Windows Users, it connects with Cortana for voice command and search. It retails for $200, but Gizmodo reports its SDK won't release until early 2015, so users are limited to its existing features and integrations until it opens up to developers.

Gizmodo's Mario Aguilar (Nov. 7) said the Band's strengths are in its sensors and ability to track useful metrics (heart rate, run/step stats, GPS, calories, sleep, UV, etc.). As for weaknesses, he said the touchscreen interface is "a big disappointment," noting it's not pretty and notifications are "almost more of a pain than they're worth." He suggests waiting until developers jump on the Microsoft Health platform and the company works out some of the UI kinks before you buy one.

ZDNet's Matthew Miller was more impressed overall (Nov. 6): "The Microsoft Band looks great, the constant heart rate monitor does a solid job both day and night, the multi-platform support is more than we have seen from anyone else, and the smartwatch functionality is more powerful than I imagined."

The Story Behind the OnePlus Phone

October 17, 2014  by Allan Pulga
The One by OnePlus - Photo credit: Jim Wilson/NY Times

The New York Times published an interesting profile (Oct. 8) on OnePlus, the Chinese company behind the affordable phone called the "One."

"This month, OnePlus, a start-up based in Shenzhen, China, will begin taking orders for the One, a fantastic low-price phone that tech enthusiasts across the globe have been lusting after for months," wrote the NY Times' Farhad Manjoo.

Manjoo raves about the phone. He's been using it for over a month and calls it "one of the best smartphones (he's) ever used." He says it's loaded with the latest specs and it runs CyanogenMod, a version of Android that's more flexible and user friendly than "the cumbersome flavors of Android now stuffed into rival phones."

I suppose Manjoo means the One is less bogged down by manufacturer bloatware. Very interesting.

The best part? The phone sells for $299 unlocked, which is amazing if it's truly loaded with competitive specs. Manjoo later added that the One is "just about the fastest Android phone you can buy, and its 5.5-inch screen is stunning," however its camera does not deliver the sharpness or color accuracy of some of its rivals.

Manjoo likens the One to the Nexus 5, "another high-quality, low-price phone — but over all the One is more powerful, and far prettier, than the Nexus."

Another catch may be customer service, tech support and repairs, which may be hard to come by here, across the Pacific let alone in English.

So who's making this phone? "OnePlus was founded late in 2013 by Pete Lau, a veteran of the Chinese tech business who was taken with the idea of creating a high-end smartphone for the masses," Manjoo writes.

"His vision was not unique; as the price of the components in smartphones plummeted over the last few years, a rash of Chinese start-ups emerged to make high-quality, low-price phones."

OnePlus is different, though, because of its desire to take its phones beyond the Chinese market. "Early on, Mr. Lau divided the company into two semiautonomous units, one catering to Chinese customers and the other devoted to the international market," Manjoo noted.

OnePlus estimates its sales to date are between 150,000 to 300,000 phones a month to the U.S. and up to a million devices a month over all, which Manjoo calls "an admirable feat for a tiny, year-old start-up."

These are definitely a company and a phone worth keeping an eye out for. I'm curious to see this device if/when it arrives in Canada.

Google Announces Android L, New Nexus Devices

October 17, 2014  by Allan Pulga
Android L - Source: The Verge

On Wednesday (Oct. 15), Google announced the latest version of its Android OS, along with three new Nexus Devices.

The new version, called Android 5.0 Lollipop (Android L for short) will power the new Nexus 6 smartphone, Nexus 9 tablet and Nexus Player streaming media device.

"Lollipop's most obvious new features come in the form of visual enhancements and user interface changes, which Google has dubbed Material Design," wrote The Verge's Dan Seifert (Oct. 15).

"The platform has new, more fluid animations, a cleaner design with a bolder color palette, a revamped multittasking menu, and offers new ways to interact with your voice. Many of the new Material Design features can be seen in the recent updates that Google has released for its own Android apps such as Google+.

"The Material Design initiative is meant to unify the software's look and feel across various form factors, whether that's a tablet, smartphone, home media streamer, or something else."

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