The latest rumors are in – and its BIG folks…get it? The latest phablet superphone is coming, and allegedly soon. HTC seems poised to launch the XL version of their very well reviewed HTC One device on October 15th. As this is just a few days away, we should be able to confirm or deny this very, very soon.
Invitations have been sent out, to multiple international regions, and (according to translation of a Chinese site) the actual announcement date will be the 15th. Anyone (other than Sean of course!) looking forward to making this their next smartphone phablet purchase? See some of the leaked photos below.
- Fearless Predictions for 2014
- Two Tech Geeks look back at the Best of Tech 2013
- Verizon’s honoring a website glitch that gives hundreds (perhaps thousands) of upgrades AND keep unlimited data plans
- More device reviews as fast as we get our grubby hands on them
We appreciate everyone taking the time to read our site. We welcome comments as well – if you want the scoop on a smartphone or other device, or just want to get some more info on an article, feel free to comment and we’ll do our best to answer your questions.
While not a new device, and not technically a “smartdevice,” I did want to give my thoughts on the Pill wireless speaker from Beats by Dre. This was a recent gift and something I’d had high on my wishlist for a while now. If you are in the market for something like this (or if you aren’t now, you may be soon) and want to know how it works, what it does, and whether its worth its $199 pricetag (on sale now for $179!), read on!
How It Looks:
How It Feels:
Everything about this device says “solid.” Its heavy when you first pick it up, and you “wow – this thing is well built.” And it is. Aside from the paint itself (which may or may not get chipped, depending on your usage) this device feels like it could take the day to day grind with ease. The included carrying case is soft touch, black like the speaker itself, and completely encases the Pill during transport. The only down side here is the case fits only the device, not the AC adapter or cable, meaning you got to lug those along separate from the speaker. A minor quibble, but one that you’d want to be aware of before you take it to a party and leave the accessories behind because you forgot them.
How It Works:
|Image courtesy of Beats by Dre|
The Pill comes in a wide variety of colors to please almost any palate or interior decorator, a few of my favorites (aside from black) are the silver and neon green – eye catching design and colors make these winners in my book.
|Image courtesy of Beats by Dre|
The Final Word:
|Image courtesy of Droid-Life|
At long last – the search is over. Many of you will recall that I lamented over the lack of phone choices to replace my Galaxy Nexus (see the article here ) but I lament no more! I have taken the plunge and purchased the G2 from LG, and honestly, I couldn’t be happier. What the heck? you may ask – as this device was on the short list of possibles and was discarded as being unsuitable for my needs. Well – no one is happier to be proven wrong than me. Let’s take a closer and more in depth look at how LG’s newest flagship smartphone won me over.
Wow you’re probably saying…that’s a really big nutshell. Yeah, it kinda is. But the G2 really deserves it. For those not familiar, here’s a quick rundown of specs:
*2.26GHz Snapdragon 800 quad core processor
*Adreno 330 graphics processor
*Beautiful 5.2″ FHD display, IPS LCD, little to no bezel and on screen keys
*2GB RAM, and 32GB internal storage, and 3000mah battery
*13MP rear camera, with optical image stabilization (OIS)
|Image courtesy of Slash Gear|
Yeah – on paper this bad boy will pretty much destroy any other phone currently out there. LG has done a great job of putting together some fantastic hardware. One of the reasons the screen is so large and has so little bezel was the design choice to move the physical control buttons (power, volume up/down) to the rear of the phone (as seen in the picture) Some may argue this is too radical a departure from modern design to work – honestly, it hasn’t bothered me at all. It took a day or two to get used to…and that’s it.
|Photo courtesy of BGR.com|
While not loaded with stock Android, as I’d wished for, the LG UI skin really isn’t so bad. Many of the the UI’s features are usable, and actually helpful. The toggles in the notification shade are placed well, the Samsung-esqe additions (smart screen and such) can be turned off if unwanted, and within a few minutes, I found myself with a very different experience than what comes right out of the box. Many of the “busy” features included might take a little time to warm up to, but better to have them than not I say.
As for the rest…well suffice it to say that because the “Loki” patch works, I’ve already been able to root the device, push out a custom recovery, which then allowed me to wipe the phone and flash a custom ROM. All this technical geekery really means is that, much like my beloved Galaxy Nexus, I can take advantage of the hard work and dedication of the ROM development community. And from early returns, it looks like the future in that area is going to be very, very bright.
So – my wife and I have Verizon Wireless and our contract(s) are coming due right after the 1st of the year. We both are grandfathered into unlimited 4G plans, so as we look to replace our phones, we are considering buying off contract to preserve this precious data commodity. I have the Galaxy Nexus LTE on Verizon and as an Android enthusiast, I love it. So when I’m looking at all the new phone tech that is coming out these days, I take careful stock of it. And at the end of the day, I am stuck with one question: why is it I can’t find the phone I want to replace my beloved Galaxy Nexus?
Buying the first generation of anything can pose certain challenges. And while I love my GNex, it does have some shortcomings. The screen isn’t terrible, but better screens have come out in the last year or two. Processor power and speed are always going up, and most importantly, battery life has taken a good jump forward since the GNex was released. So in my next phone, I know I want certain things: I want long battery life on LTE, a fast processor, good to great camera, big beautiful display, and an unlockable bootloader. This would normally all add up to a “Nexus” device, but Verizon will not stand for another Google Nexus product. Apparently unlockable bootloaders will bring down Verizon’s network or start the zombie apocalypse or something. So this means that I’m left with a list of slightly imperfect options that force me to choose between the lessor of all evils.
The contenders right now are: Droid Maxx, HTC One, LG G2, Motorola X (Moto X)
Droid Maxx Pros: super large battery, solid Moto build quality & radios, futuristic appearance
Cons: locked bootloader, physical buttons, only 720p screen, Verizon bloatware
HTC One Pros: beautiful design, great screen, good speakers, good specs, potentially unlockable
Cons: smallish battery, physical buttons, Verizon bloatware (stop me if you heard this before)
Moto X Pros: great design, decent camera, unique software features, stock Android (mostly)
Cons: smaller battery, only 720p screen, mid range specs, excessive price point
LG G2 Pros: large battery, cutting edge specs, great 5.2″ 1080p screen
Cons: unusual design, locked bootloader, Verizon bloatware, LG skin
After going to the various AT&T and Verizon retail stores and visiting all these phones in person, I’m torn. The Moto X and HTC One feel great in hand – both with a premium feel. The HTC One has a nice camera, but the Moto X’s camera has been universally panned by every person to review it. The One is a little bigger, the Moto X a little smaller – but the 2300mah battery on the One gives me pause, as the 2100mah on my GNex doesn’t last a full day (albeit with an older gen, dual core processor running it) and the Moto X is a little too small for my taste (and its “only” a 720p screen to boot). I’d really like a screen somewhere in the 5″ 1080p range, which would naturally push me in the LG G2’s direction. But with hardware buttons on the rear of the device and a locked bootloader, I’m not sure if this is really the device for me. The 3000mah battery and cutting edge specs are otherwise very attractive.
The Droid Maxx is, in a word, frustrating. What on paper would seem like the clear winner is held back those annoying physical buttons (which should never appear on a smartphone, IMO) and the decision to use a 5″ 720p display panel. The Motorola X8 computing system does have some neat features (always on listening, Active Notifications) but while I’m fond of its footprint and kevlar backing, the wife informed me (her words, not mine) that “we wouldn’t be getting because it looks like an ice scraper.” While I’m not 100% sure what that even means, she’s obviously not fond of the devices overall appearance. Which leaves me back at square one again.
The rumors of the Nexus 5 are intriguing, and its hard to argue against something that looks as good as the below (alleged) pictures of the device:
But with the very real possibility that this next Nexus will NEVER come to Verizon, I’m circling back to the beginning again. And I didn’t even consider other devices (such as the Galaxy S4 from Samsung, which is locked down tighter than a drum from a developer standpoint) that I knew weren’t going to meet my needs right up front. Can’t these carriers and phone makers see – put out a great phone with a big, clear 1080p screen, great rear camera (with a quality 10-12MP sensor), and give it a battery that will last all day with LTE, and then let folks unlock it to let it reach its full potential. I long for that day to arrive…but I fear it will be a long, long while coming.
**UPDATE: I have in fact chosen my new device, and I couldn’t be happier! A full review and the thoughts on my decision coming soon…
|Image courtesy of Apple.com|
So…yeah. I’m an Android guy. Have been for a long time, and its still my current phone. But as many already know, I DO own Apple products. Yes, even me. For all my bashing of their not really being a tech company more than a marketing company and not having had an innovation since the iPad first debuted, I do like and purchase (or ask for as gifts) some of their devices. This puts me in a unique position: to be on the outside looking in. No “iSheep” fanboiness here…I’m looking solely at how the device works best for me. And I have to be honest – I wish Apple would have left my iPod touch the way it was before iOS 7.
I really couldn’t live without my iPod. For all my posturing, I love this piece of tech. It makes my daily commute more bearable and allows me to listen to my entire library of music in a small, portable package. And it has done so since they had little trackwheels and clicky buttons. And when I got my latest iPod touch (see my review here) I was elated. And recently, when I heard about the upgrade to iOS 7, I figured “why not?” I was actually a little interesting in getting a chance to play around with it, and I’d seen the early release photos of what it was supposed to look like as well. But the reality did not match the idea I had of what the experience was going to be like in my mind.
First off, lets get the obvious out of the way – the colors are hideous. Flat out annoying. And standardized icons have been changed (along with some of their names) to boot. Which (for me) means that after downloading and launching it for the first time, my first thought was “did something go wrong with this install?” Because things sure look and feel off around here. Folders no longer look like folders, but more like grey blobs in which other, more colorful blobs reside. Facetime was moved out of the folder blob where I had placed it, and it was now front and center on my home screen. Really, Apple?
|Image courtesy of Apple.com|
Okay, okay – maybe I’m being overly critical you might say. The colors don’t look that bad. And haven’t you been saying that iOS is tired and could use an update? Yes – perhaps all of these things are true. But there’s tweaking and there is radical redesign; this is the latter. And not all change for the sake of change is good. Just because I don’t like it doesn’t mean others won’t either…but as with most things Apple, you don’t get a choice. With my Android phone, if I don’t like how the stock look and feel of things is, I can install a custom launcher and then choose from dozens (if not hundreds) of other icon packs, themes, and other such to change it over and over and over again until I find something I like that works for me. Rather than the “Apple tells me that I will love it” (whether I love it or not) approach.
My annoyance with iOS 7 is more than skin deep however. There are other relatively minor changes that are puzzling too. For example, on iOS 6 one of the features I used most was a double button press to wake the screen which, if your last activity was playing music, would wake the iPod to the music player and allow you to play the current or next track with just a single additional tap on the screen. This is gone in iOS 7, now replaced with the double button press taking me to the lock screen and asking me to swipe to unlock, then pressing again on the music player to start my track playing. While not important to some, this is one of the main features I used with my iPod, and now it takes longer to get my music to play. Perhaps this has something to do with more security in this version of iOS, but honestly, its more irritating than anything else about the operating system to me.
|Image courtesy of Apple.com|
Hey, its not all bad – the Control Center feature (accessing your settings from a single contextual swipe up menu from the bottom of the screen) is useful and actually decently implemented. Not something radically innovative again, as this “feature” (in various forms) has been in versions of Android for a while now, but at least it was well thought out. The new animations for things opening and closing/launching is neat, but hardly something I would hang my hat on if I was touting the merits of the overall operating system. The sorting of pictures (excuse me, Photos) into Collections and Moments is long overdue, and a vast improvement over the glut of photos en masse in Camera Roll – but again, this is something that should come as the icing on the cake, not the cake itself. And all these changes come at a price – even my less than 1 year old iPod touch (5th gen) stutters and lags a bit when performing routine tasks. I can’t imagine what the new iOS its doing to owners of iPhones from the 3S-4S range.
Most of the changes seem forced, copies of other operating systems innovations (the tabbed multi-tasking or Safari tab switchers come to mind immediately) or fall into the catagory of just plain “why haven’t we had this until now?” I think that Apple’s leadership realized that they needed to make a big splash with something and they were counting on iOS 7 and the new iPhone 5S/C to do just that. Well, maybe just the iOS 7 and 5C since the 5S (as usual) is mostly just a spec bump and a new gold color chassis. For my money, I’ve been thinking more and more often how I wish I had my old drab looking iOS 6 look and feel back. At least with it, I knew where everything was.
Hey all…I know its been a while, but never fear – your favorite Two Tech Geeks are still around. As we all know, life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans and a few real life issues have forced both of us to take a little hiatus, but look for more articles on the site soon! (in fact, truth be told I’m working on 2 right now!)
If you have, thanks for sticking with us. If you left, well…you’re always welcome to come back anytime!