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Gadgets Reviews Series Smartphones

Tech21 Impact Mesh Case Review

This is the fifth article in a series reviewing the Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini.

In the second article of this series I claimed I would be reviewing Tech21’s case next week. I changed my plans several times, however finally, today it is going to be reviewed!

I am going to rate this case against the same criteria that I rated the FlexiShield case, so it is easy to make a comparison.

Tech21 S4 Mini Case Review

Price

Tech21’s case currently costs around £25, which is about £15 more than the FlexiShield one. The FlexiShield case was very competitively priced, however I do feel that the Tech21 one is worth the extra expense.

Design

Like the FlexiShield case, the Tech21 case is also reasonably flexible. My S4 Mini fits perfectly into the case, and unlike the FlexiShield case, all the ports and sensors are pretty much perfectly aligned. Furthermore the depth of the case means that if it is resting on its back, the camera isn’t touching the ground.

I really like how this case has two buttons for volume, as one thing that annoyed me with the FlexiShield case was that it was all one button, so you were never sure which button  you were pressing!

D3O diagram
How D3O molecules react under pressure.

Unlike any other case on the market, the Tech21 Impact Mesh case has D3O embedded into the design. D3O is an ‘intelligent’ (or smart) material which is pliable and malleable, however when put under stress, the molecules interlock and it becomes rock solid – absorbing the impact.

The case certainly works, as I have dropped and banged my phone several times, yet it still works and there isn’t a scratch in sight! To see a D3O case put to the test check out this video.

I haven’t noticed my phone getting as hot in this case either, although it does appear to lack ventilation, like the FlexiShield alternative.

Aesthetically, I think my phone looks really good in the case. It is stylish and sleek, and I think it actually makes the phone look better.

Impact Mesh Vs Impact Maze

Tech21 make two very similar versions of this case for the S4 Mini, the Impact Mesh Case and the Impact Maze Case. The only real difference is that the Mesh has dots on the back and the Maze has lines. I personally prefer the dots, hence why I went for the Impact Mesh.

Protection

As mentioned above, Tech21’s case offers great protection thanks to the D3O. Like the FlexiShield, this case has a lip which means if you put the phone screen down, the screen doesn’t touch the ground.

D3O case for the S4 MiniAs you would expect, the case protects the phone from superficial dirt and smears, and is easy to wipe clean.

The D3O protects my phone from pretty much every angle.

Rating

The Tech21 Impact Mesh Case is stylish and offers my S4 Mini great protection, it is priced higher up the range than the FlexiShield, however, I feel the design quality justifies this.

Overall I rate Tech21’s Impact Mesh Case 4.5 star. Four and a Half Star

I would like to thank Mobile Fun who provided the case for this review.

Next Time

Next time I will be reviewing a car holder for the S4 Mini.

Categories
Gadgets Reviews Series Smartphones

S4 Mini screen protector reviews

This is the fourth article in a series reviewing the Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini.

This week I am going to do a comparison of two different screen protectors. I have tried each protector for around a month now, so have a fairly good knowledge of them.

I am going to try a new format in this post and compare the two in a table. The two screen protectors are Anker’s Ultra-Clear Screen Protector and Muvit’s Matte and Glossy Screen Protector.

So here goes…

Anker Muvit
Image Anker S4 Mini Screen Protector Muvit S4 Mini Screen Protector
Protection
3/5
(Stops superficial dirt and smears)
3/5
(Stops superficial dirt and smears)
Clarity
5/5
(Virtually invisible)
2/5
(Quite fuzzy to look through)
Clarity over time
4/5
(Gathers smears which wipe off)
2/5
(No real change)
Protectors
3 included 2 included
Ease of Application 4/5
(Easier than most)
3/5
(Standard application)
Fit 3/5
(Leaves a bit around the camera and the button uncovered)
4/5
(Leaves a bit around the camera uncovered)
Responsiveness 5/5
(What screen protector?!)
4/5
(Less responsive at the sides of the screen)
Longevity 3/5
(After time occasionally peals off at edges)
4/5
(Stays in place for a long time)
Price £3.99 (Free P&P) £9.99 (+£1.99 P&P)
Overall Four Star Two and a Half Star

So overall if you were only to buy one, buy the Anker protector, as it offers clarity, protection and responsiveness for a very good price. Had I not tried Anker’s protector, the Muvit one would probably have scored three star, however what really lets it down is the clarity. It is evident that you have a screen protector installed and the only reason to use it would be to stop your screen from getting damaged.

If you are curious about a rating – or disagree with it – let me know in the comments below.

Next Week

After my four week break I know it is dangerous to claim I know what is happening next week, but I think you can probably expect an article on a Tech21 case… but it might change!

Categories
Gadgets Reviews Series Smartphones

Using the Galaxy S4 Mini

This is the third article in a series reviewing the Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini.

Last week I finished by saying:

“In the next post in the series I will be reviewing Tech21′s Impact Shield case for the S4 Mini. See you then. :-)”

I lied.

I haven’t had a chance to use the case as much as I would like, so have delayed the article a week, so I can write a better review.

In this post I am instead going to talk about my experience of using my S4 Mini on a day to day basis.

Organisation

One of the main features I have benefited from thanks to my ‘smarter’ phone is that it has improved my level of organisation. I was already a reasonably organised person before I got my phone, however having a calendar which comes pretty much everywhere with me and can create alarms and reminders, is pretty useful!

Because I always have my calendar with me, I am able to make decisions and plans more instantaneously, which can be advantageous. That said I am now heavily dependant on my phone and were I to be without it, I would struggle to keep track of my diary. Hopefully I would be able to retrieve my schedule from Samsung, as I do try and keep my contacts and calendar backed up with Samsung sync.

Battery

In June last year, (so 15 months ago now) Joe questioned (here on Technology Bloggers) if smartphone battery improvements were on the way. I can tell you now that they weren’t! Major improvements are yet to materialise. :-/

A BlackBerry Curve 8900 in its case
My BlackBerry Curve 8900.

I used to have a Blackberry Curve 8900 which would last around two to three weeks between charges. Despite using as many power saving features as I can, I am charging my phone pretty much every day. If I had mobile data, WiFi, GPS, Bluetooth and Near Field Communications on all the time, with full screen brightness, and was using my phone a lot, I reckon I could drain it (from full) in just a few hours. The camera is a big drain on the power, as are all other processor intensive activities. That said, considering its size, the camera is amazingly good.

With regard to charging I try and turn my phone off if I am doing a full charge, but usually just trickle charge. I have researched how to maintain the battery life and have found that modern smartphone batteries are designed to be charged little and often, and they don’t like being pushed to extremes (empty/full and also high/low temperature). Keeping your battery between 30% and 90% is the best area. My battery seems pretty healthy, so the trickle charge appears to be working. 🙂

Overheating

One thing I’m not impressed with is how my phone sometimes overheats, so much so, I have to remove it from its case and can’t hold it as the back gets really hot. Considering the storage space and processing power my 124.6 mm tall phone houses, I am frankly amazed that it doesn’t come with a huge fan attached to the back. My 67.98 cm³ (which sounds like a lot, but really isn’t!) phone houses two cameras, one of which is a brilliant 8MP, a HD screen, 1.5GB of RAM, and, among other things, a 1.7GHz processor!

It is no wonder when I put my phone under stress by using a lot of features at once (like for example SatNav functions, as these are quite processor intensive and uses mobile data, GPS and the screen) it starts to overheat. For the size it is, I can’t complain, however I think future phones should be slightly bigger to incorporate better cooling systems, in order to prevent internal component damage from overheating.

Apps

One of the main reasons I chose an Android phone is because of the huge range of applications available. Most of the apps for Android are free, which is a bonus! Some do take liberties however, and demand unreasonable privileges; like the Facebook one, hence I haven’t installed it, but Facebook were going to want to glean all they could from you, weren’t they.

I now have an app to wake me up at the best time in my sleep cycle, an app which can send an SOS message via the backlight, an app to scan barcodes, an app with the latest news, oh, and amongst others, Angry Birds (although I am trying not to use it as it is a real time zapper)!

I have often been known to say ‘there’s an app for that’ but that’s because it is true; almost anything you want to do, there is an app to help you!

Android

On the first article in this series, David from The Only Cog asked about what he called the ‘Disney layer’ that Samsung add to Android – i.e. their slight OS tweaks. He asked the following questions:

“Can it be turned off? How do you find it? What version of Android is it running?”

Google Android's LogoHere are my answers. I have looked into it, and as far as I can tell, Samsung’s altered version of Android is fixed, and you can’t downgrade to the standard OS. That said, I think the changes they make are just to make things look better and also to add a further level of control for users.

The second question therefore doesn’t apply. In response to the third, I am currently running Android 4.2.2 (which came pre-installed) although I think the S4 Mini will be among the first to get 4.3, (Android KitKat) probably just after its big brother the S4 receives the upgrade.

Slogan

Samsung’s slogan for the S4 Mini is “Minimalism Maximised”. I completely agree with what they are saying, the phone has the convenience of a small phone, but the power of a bigger one. I prefer “tiny but powerful”, maybe the S5 Mini will adopt that one. If so I want royalties Samsung! 😉

Next Week

As promised, next weeks article will be a review of Tech21’s D3O infused case. See you then.

Categories
Gadgets Reviews Series Smartphones

Reviewing Mobile Fun’s FlexiShield case for the S4 Mini

This is the second article in a series reviewing the Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini.

In this article I will be looking at a FlexiShield case for the Galaxy S4 Mini.

Which Case?

If you browse Mobile Fun’s site, you will see they have a huge range of cases for the S4 Mini, (at the time of writing, they had around 80) so choosing the right case can be a challenge. Different cases have different purposes, so in order to get the right case for you, you need to decide what you want to use it for.

Here are some of the different functions you might want from a case:

  • Protection – probably number one for most people
  • Design – a stylish case can add to the phones aesthetic appeal
  • Storage – some wallet style cases also allow you to store credit cards in the cover
  • Functionality – the Samsung official case lets you access some functions through the window in the screen cover, whilst saving power by not keeping the whole screen on

I want a case which protects my phone and also looks good. Protection is my top priority, as I don’t want to damage my phone, although if I can make it look better in the process, that’s a bonus.

Mobile Fun’s FlexiShield Case Review

The first of the two cases I have chosen to review is Mobile Fun’s own brand FlexiShield case.

Mobile Fun: Galaxy S4 Mini FlexiShield CaseI am going to be honest, I didn’t have high expectations of the FlexiShield case, as I had looked at reviews of a similar case for the S4 Mini’s big brother, (the S4) and they weren’t very positive. This meant that when I received the case and discovered how great it was, I was pleasantly surprised! 🙂

Price

One of the reasons for my initial doubt was the price. The case currently costs less than £10, which is one of the cheapest S4 Mini cases on the market. Samsung’s Official case (which offers very little protection in comparison) costs around £18, so in terms of protection, the FlexiShield one is very competitively priced.

Design

S4 Mini FlexiShield Case chargingThe FlexiShield case is surprisingly durable, as you would expect from the name, the case is quite flexible, yet when it is fitted on the phone it is very strong. The case fits the phone perfectly, and leaves all the vital ports and sensors accessible. The top ports are all perfectly aligned, however access to the camera and bottom microphone, whilst still accessible is slightly off-centre, which looks a little untidy.

My phone is the white version, so I chose the ‘Frost White’ version of the case, and it looks great! The phone is still visible, as the case is semi-transparent.

The power and volume buttons are covered by the case, so all you have to do to access them is push on the side of the case. Similar cases have recesses where the buttons are, making them hard to press, however this is not an issue with the FlexiShield for the S4 Mini.

At times my phone does appear to be overheating when in the case, however this is usually only when it isn’t in a well ventilated area. The phone is fine when I have it in my pocket, just don’t go and wrap it in a blanket!

Sometimes when GPS and mobile data are on and the phone is trying to process something (like mapping) I do notice the back getting hot, so I usually remove it from the case.

Protection
Whilst the FlexiShield can’t offer the same protection that a D3O case can, it does offer a reasonably high level. When fitted on the phone, the case covers all of the back and sides and has a lip which is elevated over the top of the phone, meaning that no matter how the phone falls (proving it is falling onto a flat surface, not a spike or something!) the case will take the impact, not the device itself.

Mobile Fun's Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini FlexiShield CaseRather by accident, I tested the true protection of the case by throwing my phone about a meter across the room, where it came to land on the floor. The thud when it hit the ground wasn’t reassuring, however the case had absorbed the impact, meaning my phone was intact. I wouldn’t advise you thrown it at the floor, however if you do drop/throw it, the case will provide some protection.

The case does a great job of protecting the phone from marks and stains. It is really easy to clean with a damp cloth, and keeps your phone safe from harm.

Rating

Mobile Fun’s own brand case is very competitively priced for what it offers: durable, well designed protection for the S4 Mini.

UPDATE: Having reviewed Tech21’s Impact Shield case I am downgrading this case from 4 star to 3 star.

I rate Mobile Fun’s S4 Mini FlexiShield case three star.Three Star

Next Week

In the next post in the series I will be reviewing Tech21’s Impact Shield case for the S4 Mini. See you then. 🙂

Categories
Gadgets Reviews Series Smartphones

A series reviewing the Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini

The Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini was launched on the 1st of July 2013. Six days later (on Sunday the 7th of July) I bought the phone on a 24 month contract.

A Series

Having owned an S4 Mini for a few weeks now I have decided to write a series reviewing the phone.

In this series I will be looking at the phone as a whole, as well as comparing it to its brothers and cousins from Samsung’s Galaxy series. I will also be giving my verdict on various accessories and cases that I have tested.

The series will post every Tuesday.

Introduction over; lets get started!

Why S4 Mini?

Anyone who has chosen a smartphone will know that it isn’t an easy decision. Most people have a personal favourite brand, however there is a lot of choice which makes it difficult to decide which device is right for you.

I have to admit, I had been bitten by the Apple bug. Apple are very good at marketing, and my experience of their products had made me think they were the best.

However when visiting phone shops, I asked staff whether they would buy the Galaxy S4 or the iPhone 5, and every single one said the S4; most also agreed that the iPhone is overpriced for an inferior gadget.

Apple’s magical effect started to ware off and after asking my friends which phone they would have, I decided that I would be going for a Samsung device. I also considered Blackberry, HTC, Nokia and Google devices, but non really wowed me.

The thing I don’t like about the S4 is its size. I think a big screen is great, but the phone is huge! The S4 Mini is almost the same in terms of technical specifications, however is slightly less powerful and much smaller. The S4 Mini is pretty much exactly the same size as the iPhone 5.

Samsung's S4 Mini, S4 and S3 Mini

I feel that Samsung’s slogan for the S4 Mini perfectly describes the phone ‘Minimalism Maximised‘. It is a super powerful, high spec phone, packed into a pretty small case. The S4 Mini has the spec of the S3, but the functionality of the S4.

Android

In the past Android had a reputation for being an over complicated operating system for the technically minded, however major advancements in the last few years mean that now it couldn’t be easier to use.

Something I love about Android is the home screen. Apple’s iOS only lets you store app shortcuts on your home screen, which is a huge limitation when you consider the features Android offers. On my home screen I have the weather, a handful of apps, and a search box. Scroll to the left and I have the news and to the right my calendar. No need to open anything, it’s just there; one of the reasons why I love Android.

The fact that it is open source really shines through, as everything is built with users in mind. For example, with iOS, you have to stop every app individually, however with Android you can close all your apps at once. Weather, news, your diary, alarms, music, messages and loads more are right their on Android, without you having to load anything. Data usage, battery status, free memory, you name it, Android will tell you. I think you get the picture: I love Android!

Next Time

Next week I will be looking at a FlexiShield Case for the S4 Mini.

Categories
Computers Gadgets Games Media Smartphones Technology

Parenting in the Age of Digital Technology

Last month the Northwestern University in the USA published a national survey entitled Parenting in the Age of Digital Technology. The report is available for free download through the Parenting CC Portal , but here I would like to take a quick look at some of the findings and questions raised and see if we can provoke some debate.

Multiple Screen Viewing
Multiple Screen Viewing

The study explores how parents are incorporating new digital technologies (iPads, smartphones) as well as older media platforms (TV, video games, and computers) into their family lives and parenting practices, and it gives an idea of how parents use and view this technology.

We should point out that this is a US based survey.

The 10 key finding could be seen as the following:

1 While new media technologies have become widespread, a majority of parents do not think they have made parenting any easier.

2 Parents use media and technology as a tool for managing daily life, but books, toys, and other activities are used more often.

3 Parents still turn to family and friends for parenting advice far more often than to new media sources like websites, blogs, and social networks.

4 Parents do not report having many family conflicts or concerns about their children’s media use.

5 There is still a big gap between higher- and lower- income families in terms of access to new mobile devices.

6 Parents are less likely to turn to media or technology as an educational tool for their children than to other activities.

7 Parents assess video games more negatively than television, computers, and mobile devices.

8 For each type of technology included in the survey, a majority of parents believe these devices have a negative impact on children’s physical activity, the most substantial negative outcome attributed to technology in this study.

9 Many parents report using media technology with their children, but this “joint media engagement” drops off markedly for children who are six or older.

10 Parents are creating vastly different types of media environments for their children to grow up in, and, not surprisingly, the choices they make are strongly related to their own media use.

Some other interesting points arise, such as that 40% of families are described as media heavy and spend more than 11 hours a day in front of the screen. Half of all families surveyed have 3 TV’s or more in the house. 40% of 6 to 8 year olds have a TV in their bedroom. 70% of parents state that having mobile devices has not made parenting easier with 40% stating that they have a negative social skills effect upon the children.

The conclusions are in some ways surprising though as the authors demonstrate evidence that parents are still more likely to resort to traditional means of entertainment as rewards and punishment, and they are convinced enough about the educational possibilities offered by so called new media to not worry too much about their negative effects.

An interesting read if you have half an hour, but comments and debate about the summary above would also be educational.

Categories
Business Computers Internet News Smartphones

Taxing the Smartphone

On Monday a report was released in France that contained the suggestion that a tax should be levied on Internet devices in order to raise money to promote and protect French cultural production.

A Tax Paid Phone
A Tax Paid Phone

For several years France has had a policy of taxing broadcasters and spending the money on supporting its own film and entertainment industries, but revenues are falling. The problem seems to be that many more people are accessing their entertainment via the Internet and therefore not contributing to its production cost.

The Lescure report as it is known suggests a tax of between 1 and 4% on any Internet capable devices (smartphones, eBook readers and games consoles included), but as we might imagine many of the producers of these devices are not happy about the proposal.

Money has to be raised to maintain the entertainment industries, but many of the companies that provide access to this entertainment are not based in France and do not contribute. They probably don’t want to either, and so we come across the same problem that I wrote about last week, collecting national taxes from international corporations based in another state is never easy, and borders are porous.

The proposed tax would replace one already in existence upon storage devices. Currently tax is levied on blank CD’s and memory sticks as well as computers with hard discs.

The manufacturers complain that the price of the devices would rise leading to fewer sales, although the author of the report argues that such a small percentage increase would make little difference, and would not even effect the home job market because most of these devices are assembled overseas. A 1% tax would raise something of the order of 90 million Euro a year.

The problem remains though. As our sources of entertainment move away from pay TV, publicity funded channels and national subscription systems such as the BBC, money is taken away from the producers and associations that represent and fund these industries. Some see the fact that Google and Apple amongst others are operating outside the tax system and are not contributing to the industries that they make their money from as unfair, and hope that this change in tax law will go some way to evening out the field.

The Wall Street Journal goes into a little more depth on the matter in its free online edition.

I wonder if France takes this step if others in the EU will follow. There are many different ways of making money through so called free downloads as we all know, but the money ends up in the pockets of the provider and not the producer and the industries involved are feeling the pinch. Maybe this needs to change.

Categories
Reviews Smartphones

The Samsung Galaxy S4

This coming Saturday, Samsung’s latest smartphone, the Galaxy S4, goes on sale.

Smartphone Battles

2009-2012 smartphone market by provider
Global smartphone market share by provider.

Like with most mass market technology, there is a war going on in the smartphone industry. In 2012, according to market analyst firm ICD, Samsung controlled 30.3% of the global smartphone market, 59.5% up on the 19% of the market it controlled the year before.

There is no doubt that Samsung is currently the dominant force in the smartphone market. The firm seems to slowly be winning its battle with Apple, and looks set to take on Google next, with rumours that it soon plans to ditch Google’s Android operating system altogether.

Nokia are predicted to make a comeback (how successful I am unsure) thanks to Windows RT, and makers of BlackBerry, RIM, are also looking stronger in 2013 after the release of BlackBerry 10 earlier this year.

Galaxy S4

Samsung are trying to steal even more of the market from its competitors with the Galaxy S4, so it has pulled out a few stops, maybe not all the stops, but quite a few, to make sure that the phone is a success.

So, the phone has loads of new features, to make it slightly better than its predecessor – the S3.

The S4 has a slightly bigger (5mm to be exact) screen, boasting a whole 5 inches of full HD display, which no doubt gives it amazing clarity. The new phone is also slightly thinner than the S3.

You can buy a Galaxy S4 in black and white, or as Samsung like to call them: black mist and white frost. I have never looked at a phone before (smart or not) and thought “that looks like frost” or mist, but maybe the S4 really does; or maybe it’s just marketing.

Touch and use even with gloves - Samsung Galaxy S4Samsung claim the latest edition of its Galaxy is usable even with gloves on, hopefully reducing the cases of zombie fingers – Jonny, you might be able to use it! 😉

The phone has various other new features, such as Samsung WatchON, which connects your phone to your TV, turning your phone into a remote control.

Another new feature is the multi-speaker capability – if you have more than one handy, you can sync them together to create a better quality of sound.

The S4 will also come with built in 4G compatibility, which the original S3 didn’t. If a fast internet connection is important to you when you are on the go, then the S4 is probably a better choice than the S3.

Eye-Tracking

Probably the most exciting new feature of the Galaxy S4 is the new eye-tracking technology. The phone uses its front camera to monitor the users eye movements, and uses can use this function for a host of different activities.

One of the features which uses the eye-tracking technology is video playback. If you are watching something, and then look away, the device automatically pauses the media for you. Furthermore, eye-tracking technology can be used to scroll up and down a page, without the need to even touch the screen.

Photos

There are two interesting developments in the photographic area of the phone, the first is that you can now add audio snippets to pictures, to enable you to catch even more of the moment. You can also merge video with picture, creating partially animated pictures – sort of like the photographs in the Harry Potter films.

The S4 can also use (and display) the front and rear camera simultaneously, which shows that its quad-core ARM processor is pretty quick!

Your Thoughts

So what are your thoughts on the S4? If you are getting one, do let us know!

Do you think that Samsung have done enough to fend off the competition from its closest rivals?

Personally I think the S4 looks like it is set to become the best smartphone on the market when it goes live at the end of the week.

Categories
Apps Reviews Smartphones

There’s an app for that

On June the 26th 2007, smartphones didn’t exist. Mobile phones, and computers were two very different things. A day later (27/06/2007) Apple launched the iPhone.

You could argue that there were ‘smartphones’ pre-iPhone, but many in the technology industry view the iPhone as the tipping point and birth-date of the modern smartphone – no inverted commas.

With the launch of the iPhone, came the launch of apps. A few years later along came tablets – and what would a tablet be without apps?

In this post I want to explore some of those apps. Not the apps like Angry Birds, Rayman Jungle Run, Skype and Fruit Ninja though, they are what you expect from applications – games and communication. In this post I am going to explore some of the more innovative uses for apps.

Mirror

Ever desperately needed a mirror just when there are none in sight? Mirror by mmapps mobile, is a free app for Android which turns your phone into a usable mirror! The app even lets you zoom in and out and freeze the mirror, something that no mirror I have ever used does.

The app is available in many different languages, and similar apps are available for iDevices, however mmapps mobile don’t make an ‘i’ version.

Square Wallet

Square Wallet is an application which lets you fully embrace mobile payment. With Square Wallet, you can link your credit card to your phone, and then, in a surprisingly large number of retailers, pay for goods, using your phone! The app also lets you track transactions, so you can keep track of what you are buying.

Square Wallet is available for iDevices with iOS 5.0 or later, and Androids via Google Play.

Inflora Flower App

Interflora smartphone appTen years ago, who would have thought that you could be out and about, and on a device which fits in your hand, and order a bouquet of flowers? Probably not many people!

The flower delivery company Interflora has an app where you can do just that. Naturally its called Interflora, and can be download for free for iDevices – any iPod, iPhone or iPad with iOS 3.0 or later. Interflora is also available to download for Android devices. The app gives you access to a wide range of flowers, information (such as delivery details and a description) and prices; you can even order your gift using the app!

Zite Personalised Magazine

If you like to keep up to date with the latest news, and you like the news your way, then Zite is the perfect app for you.

Zite trawls through your Facebook and Twitter feeds to work out what you like to read. The application then created you your very own personalised magazine to read, and the more you use it, the cleverer it gets, and the more tailored your content become – to a point where it should only be displaying content you really want to read.

Zite is available for free for all iDevices with iOS 6.0 or later, although the developers state that is is specifically designed for the iPhone, as opposed to tablets. Zite is also available on Android.

Flow Powered

Flow Powered - NutellaAmazon have recently released an augmented reality app called Flow Power, which can identify millions of real life products (using your phones camera), and can then tell you more information about them.

The app ‘knows’ thousands of books, games and CDs, and is able to tell you about almost anything, if you scan the barcode.

Be it a novel, or a box of chocolates, the app can tell you how much it costs and what other people think of it – pretty clever huh?

Flow Powered is available for Android via Google Play and iOS 4.2 and more recent iDevices through iTunes.

It seems like there is an app for almost everything these days, be it an app to help you apply make-up, order flowers or tell you the price of a video game. There’s an app for that!

Smartphones really are smart.

Categories
News Smartphones Technology

An analysis of the iPhone 5

Is is nearly 3 months since the 6th incarnation of Apple’s iconic iPhone, the iPhone 5, was released. Often I think it is more interesting to discuss a technology a few months after its release, rather than just straight away, as faults have been exposed, and there are opinions about long-term use.

In this article I am going to explore what the critics think of the iPhone 5, the good, the bad and the faulty!

So what makes the iPhone unique from any other phone? Samsung would argue very little, because as soon as Apple’s latest smartphone was released, Samsung announced that it was filing a lawsuit against Apple, because it had infringed many of its patents.

Size and Weight

The iPhone 5
The iPhone 5 is bigger than its predecessor (the iPhone 4S). It is taller, the same width, and slightly thinner. When smartphones first hit the market, there seemed to be a race to make them smaller. Now however, the trend seems to be towards developing a bigger screen. Tablets are getting smaller and smartphones are getting bigger – will the two ever merge? I think they might, so watch this space!

Despite being bigger, the latest model is 28g lighter than the previous model, weighing an amazing 112g. Considering the technology inside the device, that is an impressive weight!

Camera

The pace of development of inbuilt cameras in mobile phones is staggering. The iPhone 5 has an 8 megapixel camera, which is very competitive considering that just a few years ago, 8MP was pretty good for a digital camera – which isn’t also a phone.

Reception

One of the main criticisms of the iPhone 5 is that it has stopped being a phone. Logically the primary purpose of a smartphone should be to call and text people, browsing the internet, using apps, taking pictures and other features are optional extras, and shouldn’t be the main function of the device. That said, there have been many reports about people finding that the iPhone 5 has really bad signal problems. I know of two people who are on the same network, one with a Samsung Galaxy S III and one with an iPhone 5. The person who owns the Galaxy can almost always get signal, whilst the person who owns the iPhone can’t. When the phones are in the exact same place, the Samsung device can get signal, but the Apple device can’t.

Speed

Because of all the new features of the phone, it needs to have a good processor, and it does. There was hope that it might have a quad-core processor, which it didn’t, however it does have a pretty good A6 processor, which is very speedy, and is what makes the iPhone 5 feels quick and slick. Match that performance with the 4-inch Retina display, and you have a very fast and flashy phone!

Siri

Siri has seen a few updates, but nothing major. The initial introduction of Siri in the iPhone 3GS was revolutionary, and there is still relatively little viable competition out there for Siri, however one expects an iPhone to come with Siri these days.

Maps

The iPhone 5 was the first phone released by Apple with iOS 6 – which had Apple Maps installed. Apple Maps is Apple’s own version of Google Maps, which has replaced Google Maps on the operating system.

Some of the navigation features have been praised, as having better clarity and being more useful than the Google alternative; especially due to the inbuilt Siri compatibility.

That said, there are major issues with Apple Maps, in that it can be really inaccurate. Australian police have actually advised people against using the software, after they had to rescue motorists stranded in the wilderness of a national park who were trying to find a city, which Apple Maps thought was in the middle of the the wilderness, not where it should have been!

Many places are not where they are meant to be, some just a few miles out, others quite a lot further! One example is Berlin. You know, that city in Germany. The capital city of Germany. Well according to Apple Maps, Berlin is on the continent of Antarctica, which isn’t only the wrong continent, but also the wrong hemisphere! Have a search for Apple Maps fails, and you get some pretty funny results!

Berlin, Antarctica - Apple Maps
Apple Maps really does think that Berlin is in the Antarctic!

Awards

The iPhone 5 isn’t short of awards. The phone is top of Time Magazine’s top 10 gadgets list 2012, which is a big achievement!

Sales of the phone are something else for Apple to celebrate. In the first three days of the phone being on sale, there were 5 million sales! That is 1 million more than the iPhone 4S got in its first three days.

Your Thoughts

Do you own an iPhone 5? If so, what do you think of it? Do you like the phone and iOS 6, it it revolutionary, or was it a waste of money?