Nexus 5



The Nexus line of phones have been Google’s attempt to show Android OEMs how they should build their phones.  But companies like Samsung, LG, and HTC all have built their own Android devices that differs greatly from Google’s Nexus phones. It’s not to say that those devices aren’t as good. In some cases they are better.

The past iteration of the Nexus phones they have been lackluster. The Nexus 4 lacked LTE and it had a below par camera. But nonetheless the Nexus brand is very popular among Android die hard fans. With the release of the Nexus 5 Google also released their latest version of Android version 4.4 dubbed “Kit Kat”.  This new version has refined many areas of the mobile OS. Coupled with a 5″ screen, blazing fast processor, and a solid build construction the phone seems destined to be one of the best Android devices of the year.

I’m not going to go deep in depth about the Nexus 5. You can view the hundreds of reviews already on the internet that covers every details of the phone. Here, I’ll be covering my opinion of this phone and whether or not you should buy it.

The Nexus 5 as a whole is a fantastic device. It’s thin, light, and it feels great in the hand. With Kit Kat this new OS focuses a lot on the UI experience. The voice activated Google Now search is fantastic and I find myself using it more and more. The phone is amazingly fast and opening apps and swiping through menus is instantaneous.  If you’re coming from an other Android device then you’ll feel right at home. There are some GUI changes but it shouldn’t be too difficult to get use to. But if you’re coming from another OS then there is a little bit of a learning curve, but it shouldn’t be any more difficult than switching to any other OS. Those who already entrenched themselves in the Google ecosystem will get the most benefits. Gmail, Google Drive, Google+, and Google voice are tightly integrated into Android, and if you rely heavily in anyone of those services its difficult to use any other OS.

Where the Nexus 5 dropped the ball is with it’s camera.  The camera is slow to focus and the options and modes for the camera are lacking compared to what the Galaxy S4 or HTC One offers.  Some research on the web has indicated that Google may release an update that improves the camera, but until then the Nexus 5 camera is almost useless when capturing a dynamic scene with lots of movement. I have a 14 month old son, so capturing photos of him playing almost always produces blurry photos. If there is one positive aspect of the camera it is the HDR+.  Pictures taken with this mode produces great photos assuming you’re taking pictures of a static object.

At the end of the day the Nexus 5 is a fantastic phone and the fact that Google is selling the 16GB model at $350 off contract makes it the value in the smartphone market today. If Google manages to push out an update to improve the camera it can really make the Nexus 5 one of the top phones on the market. So should you buy this phone?   Yes. Buy it or at least consider it when you’re looking to get a new phone.  Keep in mind there are other things to consider. For example, if you’re coming from an iPhone you’ll be losing the apps you purchased from the app store. And if you’re all about taking great photos with your cellphone then you might want to wait and see if Google updates their camera.

Rating: ★★★★★★★★½☆

Incredibly Fast
Uses latest version of Android
Inexpensive ($350/$400 for 16GB/32GB)
Great build quality

Extremely slow camera focus speed
Average battery life

Nexus 7 2013


I’ve been using the latest nexus 7 for over two months. It’s been a fantastic device. I’ve used it for casual gaming, email, internet browsing, and reading ebooks. The 7 inch size makes this device extremely portable. I take it to my class everyday and use it to follow along with lectures and Powerpoint slides.

This Nexus 7 runs the latest version of Android and unlike other Android tablet this OS is a stock version and doesn’t come with any bloatware you would get from other manufacturers. This tablet has a  1920 x 1080 resolution and videos and pictures look great the front and rear camera are typical tablet quality that are nothing to get excited about. In addition, the battery life isn’t bad either. I can use this tablet all day with a full charge without any problems.  Current tablets on the market today are under-powered and lags behind on the version of Android. This Nexus 7 is fast and smooth and it can handle almost anything you throw at it. When it comes to a 7 inch tablet it doesn’t come any better than this.

Good battery life
Good build quality
Good screen

Lack of quality accessories
Power and volume buttons can be difficult to press

Rating: ★★★★★★★★★★

Galaxy Note 2 Review

When you first hold the Galaxy Note 2 in your hand the first thing that comes mind is, “holy cow, this thing is huge.”  Samsung’s super sized phone is somewhat a cross between a large phone and a small tablet. When the phone was first announced I knew I was going to get it.  I currently use a Blackberry 9900, iPhone 4s, and an iPad 3 for various activities such as games, taking pictures/videos, web browsing, and email/texting.  The Galaxy Note 2 was going to consolidate at least two of those devices if not all of them.

Last Friday I came into a crowded AT&T store looking to pick up the phone. It seems that the Nokia Lumia 920 was also being released the same day. Both phones were very popular by the time I got mine there were only a couple of Notes left and most of the variants of the Lumia 920s were sold out.

Setting up the brand new phone was easy. If you already have a Google account then signing in with it will sync all your contacts and emails.  For those coming from an Android device they will feel right at home.  The Note 2 comes with the latest Android OS, Jelly Bean 4.1.1, so you know you’ll be running the latest and greatest OS when you buy it (at least until the Jelly Bean 4.2 comes with the Nexus 4).

When it comes to hardware specs the Galaxy Note 2 is the best phone in the market today. The phone is incredibly fast, the battery life is amazing, the camera takes amazing videos and photos, and the screen is bright and vivid. But with all those awesome specs the phone wasn’t for me.  As it turns out size does matter. With my Blackberry or  iPhone I can operate it easily with one hand, but with the Note 2 it can be very cumbersome. As a father with a new born its difficult to use the Note 2 to take pictures or videos of my son.  I find my self fumbling with the phone when I quickly need it. Keep in mind this is when you’re operating it with one hand. But with two hands the phone is great and easily manageable.

The large screen of the Note 2 is its greatest strength and its weakness. The Note 2 isn’t for everyone. Like me, I thought it was, but after using it I realized that having a physical keyboard and operating it with one hand when needed was much more important than having lots of apps and a large screen.  So depending on your lifestyle or your typical smartphone use the Note 2 might or might not be the best phone you can get.

One of the additional features the Note 2 has is the stylus which Samsung calls the S Pen.  Samsung has its own apps that utilize the stylus functionality.  Personally, the S Pen is more of an added bonus to the Note 2. I find it difficult to see how I could use it often, so more power to those who can find the S Pen as a daily use app.

Rating: ★★★★★★★★★☆

Amazing battery life
Camera takes great pictures and videos
Large beautiful screen
Runs the latest Android OS, at least until the Nexus 4 comes out next week

Cumbersome one-hand use
Very expensive ($299 with two year contract)

Does Microsoft have what it takes be the come-back kid in the mobile phone business?

Earlier this week Microsoft announced their new mobile platform, Windows Phone 7 . They are taking the same route similar to Google’s Android by having their platform be available for different manufacturers and on different mobile carriers (Except for Verizon). Saying Microsoft is late to the battle of mobile devices is the understatement of the year. A little more than 5 years ago Windows mobile was one of the dominating OSes in the mobile market. Now it represents a whimper of a market share compared to Apple’s iPhone, Google’s Android, and RIM’s Blackberry phones. For the past several years Microsoft sat on their laurels only to watched their competitors past them by. But will the new release of Windows Phone 7 be enough to put themselves back in the mix with the rest of the big dogs?

Many analysts have already noted that Microsoft is a little too late to the game and the best they can do is vie for 3rd place. And some believe MS’s new platform is the new Palm. With the recent failure of the Kin Microsoft doesn’t look to be in any kind of position to play around with this new platform. They need it to be a huge success and anything less is a failure.

I think it’s a little too early to count Microsoft out yet. They got something that none of the other guys have; a popular and powerful office suite, the Xbox Live service, and a huge install base of Windows users. If they are able to meld their products into something an end user can use effectively and efficiently they can bite a huge chunk of their market share back. From the preview of the devices MS is looking to differentiate itself from the rest by implementing a unique user interface. With large icons and widget style views it makes sense where MS is going: to providing quick access to information and apps.

So far they are taking the right measures by getting their platform onto many devices and carriers as possible. Billions of dollars have been pumped into marketing and getting developers on board and only time will tell if Microsoft can claw it’s way back to the top. Will you be getting a Windows Phone 7?

Froyo leak for Samsung Captivate

For those of you who owns AT&T’s Captivate you can now rejoice on the fact that there is a Froyo leak for the device.

What is Froyo? It’s the name for the Android 2.2 OS. The Captivate comes stock with Eclair, which is 2.1. The Froyo OS is a significant update to Android. It provides several new features (Wifi Hotspot, Flash support, save apps on SD…) and speed improvements.

Head over to Android Central or XDA Developers to get the leak. But remember that this is not an official release so there won’t be any official support. So far my experiences with it is great. Much better than the stock OS and the mobile Wifi hotspot is well worth it.

Posted with WordPress for BlackBerry.

Samsung Captivate Review

AT&T just released their newest Android phone, the Samsung Captivate. This device is undoubtably Big Blue’s biggest and baddest Android phone. The Captivate sports some amazing specs for a phone: 4in Super AMOLED screen, 1Ghz Hummingbird cpu, 512MB of RAM, Bluetooth 3.0, 720p video recording and 16GB of internal memory. Compared to other newly released phones such as the Droid X and Evo 4G the Captivate is a contender as one of the better phones running Google’s OS.

Coming from the HTC Aria the Captivate is much larger. Its almost impossible to discretely hold the cell phone in your hand or placing it on a table at meeing. It’s a head turner. As big as it is, it’s not uncomfortable to hold. The phone is thin and not too heavy and it fits in pant pockets easily. As for the screen, I think it’s a great size for internet browsing and texting in landscape mode. Small screens such as the HTC Aria makes it difficult to comfortably type unless your in landscape mode. The same goes with other phones such as the iPhone. When I had one I wish it was a tad bit bigger.

The Super AMOLED is amazing. Comparing the Captivate to iPhone 4 at an AT&T store I almost couldn’t tell the difference in quality. But the iPhone does edge the Captivate in overall quality as the iPhone has higher pixel density and the colors are a little more brighter. The Captivate has a slightly bluish tint to it, but it’s hardly noticable. To the average user they will not notice any difference at all, in fact some may say the Super AMOLED looks better than the iPhone since the Captivate contrast ratio is 50,000:1 where as the iPhone 4 is only 800:1 which aids viewablity in outdoor environments.

I was hoping Samsung and AT&T delivered the phone with the latest Android version, Froyo 2.2, but instead it comes with Eclair 2.1. There are rumors about updates being released in August or September, but I’m not holding my breath. Like other manufacturers, Samsung uses their own UI overlay on top of Android’s stock UI. Samsung’s Touchwiz 3.0 is not bad, but it’s not as good as HTC’s Sense UI. It’s too bad Samsung doesn’t allow the user to turn off their overlay and just use Google’s default one, but there is an option. You can always download other UIs from the Android Market. Launchpro is a great one. I’ve been using it and I must say its much better than Samsung’s and HTC’s. It’s currently in beta and the lack of widgets and themes may turn some off to it, but development for it is going strong and a paid version will be released soon if not already. Calls are clear and haven’t lost a call yet even in low reception areas. The speakers are loud, but they’re located on the back of the phone, so if you place the phone on its back it can muffle the audio. But there is one gripe I have with this phone. The backlight of the softkeys located at the bottom turns off within a few seconds. If you’re using the phone in the dark it makes it hard to see where those keys are located.

The overall usability of the phone is great. There are a few things that hold it back from being fantastic. Such as AT&T’s and Samsung’s lockdown on its software defeating the purpose of having an open phone. The lack of a camera flash can also be a deal breaker for some. It’s hard to see why any manufacturer would make a phone without one. But one thing is for sure, the Captivate is the best Android phone for AT&T and if you can overlook some of the minor annoyances it may be the best Android phone on the market.

Rating: ★★★★★★★★½☆

Fast and smooth UI
Large comfortable AMOLED screen
Record 720p video
Google services integration

No camera flash
Softkey backlight dims too quickly
No sideloading of apps
Samsung Touchwiz needs to be more polished

AT&T’s newest Android phone

This is the Samsung Captivate. Its AT&T’s newest Android phone. Compared to the HTC Aria this phone is enormous. It sports a 4in. AMOLED screen that looks incredible. I guess this is their answer to the Droid X and the Evo.

It just got released today, so head to your local AT&T store to check out the demo.

I’ll post a review in a few days.

HTC Aria Review

I got an HTC Aria earlier this week and have been using it full time ever since. This is my first Android device.  I’ve got to play with other Android devices on Verizon and Sprint, so I was able to compare how it works to the other Android devices on the market.  The HTC Aria is a sleek looking touch device. The device is as thin as an iPhone 3G(s) but shorter and narrower. It feels great in the hand and the heft to it makes it feel very solid, but it’s small size can make it difficult to type and text when in portrait mode. Landscape mode is best for typing on this slim phone. The soft coated paint on the back makes the device feels like it’s already in a case and the best part it doesn’t attract dust and lint. The battery life is decent. I can get a full workday’s use out of it, but don’t expect it to go a full 24 hours without charging.

What surprised me about the phone is the quickness of it. Sliding through the menus and opening apps were quick and responsive. The Aria uses HTC’s Sense UI and it adds a lot of flair to the interface. Those who have used other HTC Android phones will feel right at home with it. As my first Android it took me awhile to get use to all the different menus and the entire interface. Coming from the iPhone and Blackberry this Android device is a breath of fresh air in a market where the dominant OSes are getting stagnant.

With Android all your Google contacts, emails, and calendar are easily synced up leaving one the think why Apple is charging for MobileMe and why RIM doesn’t have anything similar. If you’re a Google Voice user then Andriod is a must-have. It intergrates seamlessly with your phone and there’s no need to fiddle around with an app or use a web browser.  Android allows you to customize what you want to display on your phone and how to display it. The widget feature is what makes it possible.  The Android Market is not as extensive as Apple’s (Who is?) but it still has a boat load of apps. One thing that’s holding the Aria back is AT&T. They’ve locked down the device so apps can only be install by the Android Market. It really defeats the purpose of an open-ended device. But for the most part people won’t be bothered by it, it’s only the power users who want the ability to side-load apps onto their phone.

There are a million comparisons I can make with the iPhone and Blackberry and what I can say is that each of those devices do well in certain categories and poorly on others, and Android is no exception. There are things that Android definitely does better than the iPhone and Blackberry and there are some areas that it needs some more polishing, but the road ahead is very bright. If you’re stuck on AT&T and looking for a non-iPhone touch device the HTC Aria can easily fit the bill. But if you’re not bound to a particular network you have plenty of Android options such as the upcoming Droid 2, Droid X, and Sprint’s EVO.

Rating: ★★★★★★★☆☆☆

Google services integration
Snappy performance
Solid fit and finish
Responsive capacitive screen

Can’t side-load apps
Comes with Android 2.1 (Hopefully it gets Froyo 2.2 soon)
Can be too narrow for typing
Optical track pad is useless
No flash for camera

Dell Mini 5, iPad killer?

Engadget has some hands-on pictures HERE.

The device currently runs on Android 1.6, but they expect by the time its release (within a few months) it should be sporting the 2.1 OS.  The rumored price for this baby is $1,100. That’s pretty expensive if it aims to compete with the iPad or other tablets and netbooks on the market.

From the pictures alone, and it running the Android OS it’s already more interesting than the iPad. I’m sure it’ll support flash and is able to multi-task.