Why you might want to pass on the iPhone X

Screen Shot 2017-09-12 at 3.58.55 PM

I think everyone by now has heard the news about the 10th anniversary iPhone, the device called the iPhone X.  Starting at $999 and packed full of new and/or revolutionary features, the iPhone X is hailed by some tech websites as perhaps “the future of the smartphone.”  And while I do feel like there is a lot to like about what Apple has done, I think there are also a few reasons you might want to hold off buying the most expensive iPhone ever.

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Verizon is a bad company doing bad things

[Op-Ed]Rumored new Nexus program full of question marks and probably bad news for Verizon customers

There was some troubling info floating around the internets in the last few days; most notably this report from the ArsTechnica, wherein Verizon has basically admitted to doing “Verizon” things.  While the current FCC chair is very interested in making net neutrality a thing of the past, it is still the law of the land for now.  And under it, Verizon’s blatant throttling of a service like Netflix is in violation of it.

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Where have all the good small phones gone?

Row of modern mobile phones on white

The recent rumors of the 2017 Google Pixel devices got me thinking; while the larger Pixel device appears to be a significant redesign, and looks very promising so far, the smaller regular Pixel device (made by HTC) will basically look very much the same in terms of design. While very little other info is currently available in the way of specs at this point, Google’s decision put more design and R&D into the Pixel XL is following the same trend as most of the larger OEMs in the last 2 years: larger smartphones are becoming more and more the norm. Which begs the question: where have all the good small smartphones gone?

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Feature – The best phone(s) for the money


I get asked pretty regularly about the phone that I use, and what phones I’d recommend most people to buy.  So that got me to thinking – what are the phones I’d recommend to most people?  And the first question is usually “what is your budget?”  The good news is that there are options for folks in just about every price range.  So, what is the best phone you can get for your money?  Let’s explore…

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OEM Stock Watch 2017 – part 2


This is part 2 of our feature on OEM Stock Watch 2017.  If you haven’t already, make sure you go back and check out part 1 to get our feelings on how the other major OEMs are doing this year.  Once you’ve done that, click on through to read part 2!  Part 2 covers what my (Shawn) thoughts are on the rest of the OEMs; Sean P. will have his parts coming in a special part 3 (as soon as his RL work stuff calms down a bit)

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[Rewind] How wireless carriers are bringing about the “datapocolypse”

In light of the recent (and on-going) issues surrounding net neutrality and the FCC’s role in our wired and wireless broadband future, I wanted to repost this article from 4 years ago (if you can believe it) – a lot of what I talked about is still in play today.  Please enjoy!  We, as smartphone fans and users, are moving into a very unique time in our history.  Mobile usage of smartphones (and other mobile devices like laptops and tablets) has increased the demand for mobile wireless broadband to astronomical levels.  Mobile carriers are providing this service to consumers, and are seeing profits skyrocket as users are removed from so-called unlimited plans onto more carrier friendly (and profitable) tiered data plans.  No longer do consumers need unlimited calling plans – they need bigger and bigger data packages.  This shift to mobile consumption of data by users on such a large scale and the incredible price gouging of consumers by voice and data providers is moving us towards a state of what I’d refer to as the “datapocolypse” –  where the demand for data is so great and the cost of getting it is so much that (as the saying goes) something’s gotta give.

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I attended one of the (secret) free Apple Workshops – and I really enjoyed it


There has been some news out of Apple lately about how they are going to be launching a series of instructional courses at their retail store locations called “Today at Apple.” These sessions cover a wide variety of topics, including using software products associated with Macs, iPads, and iPhones, as well as a basic intros on how to take better pictures with your iPhone.  These workshops are going to be leveraged going forward as a key piece of Apple’s retail strategy, but here’s the funny part:  these classes already exist.  And I went to one this week.  Here’s how it went.  Spoiler – if you read the title, you’ll already know a bit about how I felt when I left.

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Monday morning briefing

8026351Here are some of the things that were interesting to me from over the weekend (or very early this morning) – this will be in the spirit of the the Silicon Theories features, where we highlight a few things and then explore them in depth at a later time.  Please enjoy!

  • The Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus just came out…and we’re already talking about the next ones:  rumors are starting to surface about the Galaxy S9 and its supposed inclusion of the newest Snapdragon processor (labeled the S845 for now) and while interesting, some of this is just plain bad news.  We’ve talked about how we feel about the Qualcomm/Samsung partnership putting other OEMs in a bad way on the podcast, and I think this could set a very bad precedent.  If other OEMs have to either 1) wait for the latest and greatest chips for their phones until AFTER Samsung gets them or 2) released with last year’s silicon, it puts most at a competitive disadvantage.  See:  LG and HTCs phones from this year.  Good for business – maybe?  Good for the consumer – probably not.

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OEM Stock Watch 2017 – part 1


As the year is reaching its midway point, we wanted to take a look at how we felt the major mobile device manufacturers were doing, and we thought it would be appropriate to treat them like we would any other big company…by rating their “stock” (according to both Sean P. and myself) We’ll give our thoughts on everyone from Apple to ZTE, and loads more in between. Because the list is so big, we will do it in two parts, with part 1 today and part 2 coming next week.  So without further ado, let’s give you a look into the crystal ball of these two day traders!

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[Opinion] The best phone you’ve never heard of: the OnePlus 3T

I’ll start this article by saying there probably aren’t too many of you interested in buying a new smartphone right now.  And there are a bunch of new phones coming in the first half of 2017 – offerings are likely from LG, Samsung, and even HTC.  So for most people, playing the waiting game makes a lot of sense.
Having said that, if you are (or at the very least might be considering a purchase in the next 2/3 months) there’s a phone you probably haven’t heard of but should make your list.  If you listened to the Best of Tech 2016 Silicon Theory podcast (and you really should), you probably know where I’m going.  Let’s talk a little bit about the OnePlus 3T.

When released in November of last year, the OnePlus 3T had top of the line specs.  We’re talking a Snapdragon 821 processor, 6GB of RAM, and either 64/128GB of internal storage (but no SD card slot)  Its packing a 5″ 1080p display (1080×1920) and a 16MP rear camera and a very nice 3400mah battery that should have no issues getting you through a full day of use.  Check out the full rundown of specs over at GSMArena here.  And as we touched upon in the Best of Tech 2016 pod, this phone is a great value starting at a very reasonable $439 unlocked.  Now, it is a GSM only phone, which means it will only work on AT&T and T-Mobile (and their MVNO resellers) so sorry Verizon and Sprint folks – you can’t get your hands on this one.  
This phone works great, has a quality display, and solid battery life.  It was the Favorite phone of 2016 from Droid Life and the Verge hailed it as “the best smartphone value you can buy.”  No small praise indeed.  OnePlus is a smaller OEM, and they certainly aren’t going to sell as many phones as Samsung, Google, or Apple – but they are competing in the same market as the phones from these makers, and that’s a big deal for a small company.  Android Police had a balanced take on the 3T (which you can read here) but even they agree – many won’t bat an eye at the price point when compared to other phones on the market.   
the OnePlus 3T, Apple iPhone, and Google Pixel
The OnePlus 3T also features a really fast fingerprint scanner, Dash Charging (OnePlus’ version of Qualcomm’s Quick Charge or the Rapid Charging in USB Type-C devices), and a 16MP front facing camera too.  It doesn’t offer an SD card slot (as noted above) or any water resistance rating, but with a 128GB option and a solid case some might not mind so much.  A solid smartphone with 90% of the features and options of the big boys, but at just a little over 50% of the price.  I think its fair to say this OnePlus 3T is a really great mobile device, and many people with a GSM carrier should give it a long look.
All that’s why the OnePlus 3T is the best phone you’ve never heard of.  For more information, or to pick one up, head over to the OnePlus website and get after it.