Articles about Smartphones

Huawei Honor Holly: Budget phone without budget performance [Review]

honor-holly-900x506

If I wanted to pinpoint the most important development in the smartphone sector in the last two years, it would probably have to be the rapid rise of Chinese manufacturers. Huawei is one of the companies that has forced the mighty Samsung to consent to a rapidly declining market share in the huge Chinese market. Now it is going even further to conquer the world.

The Huawei Honor Holly that I review here is a typical example of what is on offer. It signifies what consumers in rising Asian markets want most: A large screen and good performance that will allow operation as the user’s only device. Let’s take a closer look.

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Mom's Nokia Lumia Icon is gone -- she has a vintage Moto X now

Moto X

I can attest firsthand to the rising health-care costs everyone talks about. My mom went to hospital on January 30th for outpatient surgery. Still woozy from anesthesia, she left her Nokia Lumia Icon Windows Phone in the bed's blankets. The hospital ships the linens to Canada for cleaning, and, well—cue the violins—that handset is gone to cellphone heaven or into someone's greedy, grubby hands. Wouldn't you know, Medicare won't cover the cost of replacing the phone.

Neither will Asurion pay up. The nerve. When reporting the phone lost, Verizon suggested adding insurance to the phone line and later filing a claim. The Lumia could be replaced for $99 deductible. I must admit to a little apprehension, but, hey, cost was just 10 bucks. Damn, three attempts to file a claim all failed, with Asurion insisting that the phone was lost before insurance was applied. Either these insurers are smartypants, or this is a popular scam. Whichever, mom's hospital visit was an unexpected, health-care cost.

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Sony will only update Xperia Z series Android phones to Lollipop

Sony will only update Xperia Z series Android phones to Lollipop

There is one complaint that is constantly levelled at the Android ecosystem, and that’s the notion that it's a platform that has become very fragmented. For all of Google's bluster about Lollipop, only a tiny proportion of handsets are actually running the latest version of the operating system. This is something that doesn't show signs of changing soon.

Sony has revealed news that will undoubtedly upset many smartphone owners -- only the Xperia Z series is in line for an Android 5.0 upgrade. No Lollipop for the Xperia T2 Ultra, the Xperia M2 Aqua or anything from the E series. A perfect demonstration of why fragmentation is so prevalent. Anyone with a non-Z series Xperia is stuck with KitKat, Jelly Bean or whatever version of Android they may have.

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Hosted web apps could solve Microsoft's Windows Phone problems

Hosted web apps could solve Microsoft's Windows Phone problems

Despite my colleague Wayne Williams' eloquent suggestion that the naming conventions used for Lumia devices is part of the reason for the low uptake of Windows Phone, the platform still has a serious problem when it comes to apps. Whether there is a real problem or not, the perception is that Windows Phone -- or Windows 10 for Phones -- is rather lacking in the app department. Fear not... Microsoft has a solution.

Rather than pumping out a glut of new apps of its own, or encouraging developers to produce third-party apps, Microsoft is adopting a slightly different tactic. At MWC 2015 this week the Lumia 640 and Lumia 640 XL were revealed, but Microsoft also announced that web apps will be permitted in the Windows store. Could this be what app-hungry consumers have been waiting for?

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Samsung Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge unboxing and hands-on videos

Samsung Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge unboxing and hands-on videos

Fresh from the unveilings at MWC 2015, Samsung has released official unboxing videos for its two latest Android devices -- the Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge. Published on YouTube, the video clocks in at under three and a half minutes -- no epic-length unboxings here! -- and gives us a close-up look at the flagship handsets.

Both devices appear in fairly unassuming, plain white boxes, unadorned with imagery or other distractions, but it's the contents that everyone is interested in. It's the Galaxy S6 Edge that is unwrapped first, and fans of the Galaxy series are sure to be impressed by what they see.

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Apple, Microsoft and Google need just one mobile improvement -- battery life

Apple, Microsoft and Google need just one mobile improvement -- battery life

Let’s face it, you’ve picked the mobile operating system you like. Whether you’ve opted for an iPhone, a Lumia handset or a device running Android, the chances are you’re not going to switch allegiances no matter what others may do or say to try to convince you otherwise. At the same time, few people would argue that their handset of choice is perfect.

You’ve picked your side when it comes to OS, but what about the handset itself? Apple, Samsung, HTC et al keep releasing slightly tweaked versions of last year’s handset, perhaps adding a faster processor, a larger screen and more memory. One thing is constantly overlooked, however -- battery life. And it’s time for things to change.

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Save big with this Motorola Moto X deal

2014 Moto X deal Tracks Air by Sol Republic x

The second generation Moto X is among the best Android smartphones on the market today. It is also one of the more affordable flagships, costing $499.99 off-contract. However, it can be had for less by taking advantage of this deal that Motorola has running in its online store.

Here's the gist: if you want to buy an off-contract second-generation Moto X also throw in an expensive pair of Tracks Air by Sol Republic x headphones in the cart, priced just shy of $200. The total cost? Well, it's merely $449.94.

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Android apps crash more than iOS apps

Android apps crash more than iOS apps

With MWC 2015 underway in Barcelona, the tech world is laser focused on mobile devices at the moment. Whether your mobile device preference is an iPhone, an Android handset or a Windows Phone device, your decision will have been swayed by a number of things -- price, brand reputation, knowledge of the ecosystem, and range of apps. Android may be the most popular choice at the moment, but this appears to be in spite of problems the platform suffers form.

A new report from Crittercism suggests that Android apps crash more frequently than their iOS counterparts. But this is not the only bad news for Google's mobile operating system; the report also finds that the fragmentation of Android persists.

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BlackBerry will keep making smartphones -- unveils Leap mid-ranger, new slider

BlackBerry The Slider

BlackBerry shipped an insignificant number of smartphones last year, but the Canadian maker is not giving up the fight yet. Today, at MWC 2015, it announced a new mid-range handset, called Leap, and revealed an upcoming slider phone, which CEO John Chen referred to as "The Slider".

Leap is clearly not designed for the typical BlackBerry aficionado, as the smartphone is an all-touchscreen affair, with no physical QWERTY keyboard in sight. Such designs have not helped BlackBerry woo consumers nor business clients so far. The Slider though is the more conservative of the two, looking at it from the perspective of BlackBerry fans.

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Blackphone 2 caters to the enterprise, the security-minded and the paranoid

Blackphone 2 caters to the enterprise, the security-minded and the paranoid

Yep, we know all about the NSA, thanks Edward. Yeah, it's possible (probable?) that a government agent somewhere is listening to or recording your conversations. And yes, even if you're not one of the tin-foil hat brigade, there's a danger that someone could tap into your phone. But you don’t have to be paranoid to want security; there are plenty of companies and enterprise customers for whom security is of the utmost importance.

While much of the news coming out of MWC 2015 has been dominated by Microsoft's Lumia 640, the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge, and tablets from Sony, there's always room for something a little different. Following on from the security-focused Blackphone, Silent Circle used the Barcelona event to announce the follow-up -- the Blackphone 2.

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Microsoft's Universal Foldable Keyboard loves iOS, Android and Windows equally

Microsoft Universal Foldable Keyboard loves iOS, Android and Windows equally

Every mobile operating system would have you believe that it has the best built in keyboard. It's clear that plenty of people disagree judging by the number of alternative keyboard apps that exist in the Windows Phone, Apple and Android stores. Sometimes even the best software keyboard isn't good enough, but few people are enamored with the idea of carrying around a full size Bluetooth keyboard.

There are numerous mobile keyboards that are particularly suitable for use with smartphones and tablets, and today at MWC in Barcelona, Microsoft threw its hat into the ring with the Universal Foldable Keyboard. Bearing more than a passing resemblance to a large money wallet, this svelte device connects via Bluetooth to whatever mobile device you happen to be using -- including the newly announced Lumia 640 and Lumia 640 XL.

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Microsoft launches Windows 10-ready Lumia 640 and Lumia 640 XL

Microsoft launches Windows 10-ready Lumia 640 and Lumia 640 XL

It was something of a poorly kept secret, but this morning at MWC Microsoft announced the two latest additions to its range of Lumia handsets. News of the Lumia 640 and Lumia 640 XL had already crept out over the weekend thanks to a slightly premature news release that was later pulled, but now the handsets are official and "keeping you prepared for anything".

These may be fairly low-end phones, but there's one thing the handsets are prepared for -- Windows 10. The 5-inch Lumia 640 and 5.7-inch Lumia 640 XL will arrive with Windows Phone 8.1, but are in line for a Windows 10 upgrade. To increase the appeal of the phones, Microsoft is throwing in a one-year license for Office 365, 60 minutes of international Skype calls each month, and 1TB of OneDrive storage. But what about the specs?

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Smartphones hit 7 inches as Huawei announces MediaPad X2

Smartphones hit 7 inches as Huawei announces MediaPad X2

The announcements are coming thick and fast from MWC 2015 in Barcelona. As well as the Huawei Watch, Huawei also announced the MediaPad X2. As you might guess from the name, this is a tablet, but dual SIM support means that it is essentially a gigantic smartphone with no less than 7 inches of screen to play with.

And it's more than just the dimensions that are supersized -- the 2.0 GHz Kirin930 64 bit octa-core packs quite a punch. Being a brand new device, it's little surprise that Android 5.0 Lollipop is found pre-installed, and this is supplemented by the third version of Huawei's own Emotion UI. But there is much more to this phone/tablet crossover -- perhaps the first device to genuinely justify the horrific portmanteau phablet.

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There's something HTC should learn from the M9 launch

HTC One M9_Silver_Left

Some advice for HTC and other mobile device makers: You need to adapt your PR strategy to the modern web. Seeding devices to so-called professional reviewers is a lose-lose strategy. There you should take cues from Motorola, which marketing strategy, while by no means perfect, depends more on the many rather than the few.

Today, as expected, the HTC One M9 launched on Mobile World Congress Day 0. I am struck by two early reviews, which couldn't be more different in their assessment—and one surely is quite damaging to perceptions about the smartphone: "HTC One M9 hands-on: Improved craftsmanship, camera, and HTC Sense are compelling" by Matthew Miller for ZDNet and "HTC’s One M9 is the world’s most beautiful disappointment" by Vlad Savov for The Verge. Miller had the device for a day and Savov for a week. Neither narrative is ideal for HTC, although ZDNet's is closer to identifying benefits that matter, as opposed to The Verge highlighting features that aren't.

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IKEA announces furniture with integrated wireless charging for phones

IKEA announces furniture with integrated wireless charging for phones

Starting in April, IKEA will start to sell furniture with integrated Qi wireless charging points. The Scandinavian flat-pack furniture store, famous for the likes of the BILLY bookcase, plans to launch a range of home furnishing in North America and Europe, before extending the rollout worldwide.

You might expect that sofas would be a natural home for wireless charging -- just pop your smartphone on the arm so it can power up while you watch your favorite shows -- but in fact it is tables, desk and, surprisingly, lamps which will boast the feature. It's not just phones like the Galaxy Note 3 and Nexus 5 that can take advantage of wireless power, but also tablets like the Nexus 7.

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