Archive for the ‘ANDROID PHONES’ Category


Saturday, October 21st, 2017

Henry Sapiecha

I switched from Android to iPhone for two months. Here’s what I learned

Saturday, January 30th, 2016

Commentary: This Google fanboy lived with an iPhone for two months. What made him go back to Android?

motorola-moto-x-pure-edition-0012-008 image

Android users are embracing the iPhone. According to Apple CEO Tim Cook, 30 percent of new iPhone buyers had switched from an Android device in the July-to-September 2015 quarter. And this week, Cook reiterated that the trend is accelerating, saying: “We were blown away by the level of Android switchers that we had last quarter [October through December]. It was the highest ever by far.”

As an avid Android user, I had never thought of switching, but was curious why others were jumping ship at higher rates. Was it the larger screens that debuted with the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, finally bringing the iPhone to parity with Android phablets? Perhaps frustration over the lack of Android software updates?

I decided it was time to try iOS for myself. I removed the SIM card from my Moto X Pure and popped it into a brand-new iPhone 6S. I’ve used an iPhone on a few occasions for work purposes, but this would be the first time I was using an iPhone (albeit a temporary loaner) as my personal phone. That means not carrying my Android device with me for two months, which included a hectic week in Las Vegas for the CES trade show.

I switched from the Moto X Pure to the iPhone 6S for two months. Josh Miller/CNET

I’ll state one obvious thing right up front: both Android and iOS, at this point, are very mature operating systems. They’re also, at this point, more similar than different from each other. And while I was moving from one high-end phone to another, I was focusing on software differences, not so much hardware ones, although I’ve included some below.

That said, here were the things that I noticed most when I went from Android to iOS.

Where Apple wins

Timely software updates

I started using the iPhone in early December and since then received two software updates (iOS 9.2 and iOS 9.2.1) with a third set to arrive shortly (iOS 9.3). And these software updates are available around the world, simultaneously, to all supported iPhones regardless of wireless carrier. As a result, iOS 9 is running on more than 75 percent of all iOS devices, which includes iPhones, iPads and iPod Touches, according to Apple’s App Store Distribution page. Even more impressive, the company is still updating the iPhone 4S, which was released back in 2011.


Apple is still updating the iPhone 4S, which was released back in 2011. James Martin/CNET

For Google’s operating system, the situation couldn’t be more different. The latest operating system, Android 6.0 Marshmallow, was released in late September and is found on less than 1 percent of Android devices. (You can thank the large number of Android hardware partners — and their insistence on customizing the OS — for that, but it’s still frustrating for the user.) Bottom line: Unless you are on one of Google’s Nexus devices, you rarely receive software updates on Android.

That’s not the case for Apple.

Apps still come to iOS first

It’s not nearly as bad as it used to be, but developers still tend to develop apps for iOS first. The live-streaming app Periscope was available on iOS two months before Android. Facebook’s Paper app and new Sports Stadium are only available for the iPhone, as is the the NYT Now app. Periscope’s new GoPro compatibility can only broadcast from iPhones for now as well. And the list goes on.

Touch ID is incredibly fast

I’ve used fingerprint sensors before, but Touch ID feels faster than the rest. I rarely saw the lock screen. A simple press on the home button would turn my screen on and unlock it within seconds. I also found Touch ID to be more reliable than others I have used, such as the one of the Nexus 6P and Samsung Galaxy S6.


Where Android still wins

Fast charging

I had to charge the iPhone at least once, sometimes twice during the work day. I’ve come to expect this with many smartphones, but charging the iPhone can be a real pain. It takes over 2 1/2 hours to go from zero to full.

A majority of recent high-end Android devices include a quick-charging feature. I could get about 8 hours of power from a 15-minute charge on my Moto X Pure. The huge market for iPhone battery packs and charging accessories shows that battery life remains a challenge for iPhone users.

Many recent high-end Android smartphones include a fast-charge feature. Josh Miller/CNET

Front-facing speakers

The Moto X Pure is one of a handful of Android devices that include front-facing speakers — a feature I desperately missed. The iPhone speakers sound clear, but they just don’t seem to get loud enough. I like to listen to music when I take showers. The speakers on the Moto X were able to get loud enough to overcome the sound of the water, but this wasn’t the case for the iPhone. I ended up having to pair it to a Bluetooth speaker to get my morning music fix.

OS-level Google integration

It’s scary how much I rely on Google for both work and personal use. While the search giant has all of its essential services on iOS, I miss how everything was integrated with Android. The Google Now home screen on my Moto X Pure provided me with all the essential information I needed — traffic information for my commute home, package tracking, stock information, suggested articles based on my interest, and more.


Freedom, efficiency and customization

Android gives users freedom over almost every part of the operating system. You can change texting apps, the look of icons, the default Web browser, and more. While iOS lets you choose from a variety of third-party keyboards, you can’t set any apps to be used by default.

I also noticed that actions on iOS tended to require extra steps. For example, on Android I can choose to connect to a specific Wi-Fi network in the notifications pull-down. While iOS will let you toggle Wi-Fi on and off through the Control Center (the menu that appears when you swipe up on the home screen), you have to go into the Settings app and click Wi-Fi to choose a specific network.

The upcoming iOS 9.3 update will let you 3D Touch the Settings app to jump directly into the Wi-Fi settings, but it’s still not as quick as pulling down the notifications menu.

And the winner is…ANDROID

Overall my experience was enjoyable. The iPhone 6S is a great phone, and I recommend it to almost everyone. The camera is top-notch, the phone runs smoothly and the operating system is easy to navigate.

But in the end I won’t be sticking with it. Android is more of a natural fit for me. I’m more efficient on my Android device and I love the deep Google integration. I also like that I can make my device look and feel unique with custom icons, launchers, widgets and home screens.

At least, that’s the case for now. Let’s see what Google and Apple have on deck for 2016.


Henry Sapiecha


Seven ways iOS 9 will change your iPhone

Monday, August 10th, 2015

iphone images

OS9 features a lot of small changes that add up to one big one.

When you first boot up the iOS 9 beta on an iPhone, things don’t seem that different. Same old apps, same old homescreen, same old camera.

With a few minutes, this familiarity begins to fracture. It’s kind of like visiting your parent’s house after they slightly rearrange their furniture: things are seemingly the same but you still feel slightly nauseous.

In other words, there is plenty of new stuff here, it’s just not jumping out at you like the massive redesign of iOS 7, or the complete reworking of notifications in iOS 8 last year. Here are seven seemingly small things that add up to a pretty hefty change to your iPhone.
1: New font

No, there isn’t a redesign, but there is a new font, everywhere. After wedding itself completely to Helvetica over the years — particularly in iOS 7 — Apple have broken free of the Swiss typeface hegemony, using their own ‘San Francisco font’ for the operating system. San Francisco is inherited from the Apple Watch, where it was built for greater readability on that tiny screen.

Here’s the thing though: Helvetica and San Francisco are both sans serif Akzidenz-Grotesk-inspired typefaces, so they don’t look too different. I follow this stuff closely and I forgot there was a new font at first.


2: Low power mode

Apple are certainly not the first to envision a ‘low power mode’ for users to turn on when they need that extra boost to get them through the day. Many users, myself included, have been hacking their own low power mode for years — you turn the brightness to nothing, you turn on airplane mode whenever you’re not actively using your phone, and you pray.

But Apple’s power mode does much more than just dim the screen, while still letting you use your phone as intended: it handicaps the processor, so you can still do everything, only a teensy bit slower. An iPhone 6 will feel like iPhone 5S, an iPhone 5S will feel like an iPhone 5, and so on. It also disables background app refreshing and mail fetching (mail fetching is often the biggest culprit when it comes to battery life), and disables all the obvious things like animated wallpapers.

Unlike Samsung’s offering, it doesn’t do anything as drastic as grayscale the screen — but with the type of display Apple uses, that wouldn’t save much power anyway.
3: Selfies and screenshots folder

It’s a small change that will save a lot of people a lot of frustration. While iOS 8 enraged many with its new organisation of photos into ‘collections’, the organisational features for your camera roll that iOS 9 introduce are much less intrusive.

Specifically, Apple now build a smart folder of your screenshots and selfies. Your big ‘one bucket of all my photos’ camera roll is still there, but if you quickly want to get to something you screenshot a few weeks ago, you can do it in seconds. It sure makes doing writeups with multiple screenshots easier!
4: Lowercase keyboard

Another small frustration-busting change — the iPhone keyboard now shows lowercase letters when you’re in lowercase mode and capital letters when you’re not. No more tapping the shift button endlessly trying to work out which mode you are in!
5: New app switcher

One of the larger visual changes in iOS 9 hits you right in the face the moment you double press your home button. Gone is the 2D row of app previews; in is a 3D stack of apps which reminds me a whole lot of the old Windows 7 alt-tab screen. This change doesn’t make app switching any more usable — in fact, in the beta it is quite buggy — but it is certainly a new look.

6: Back to app button

You know when you open a link on Facebook in Safari, but then want to go back and comment on it, but can’t find the original post? Or one app opens another app for authentication, but doesn’t send you back in a hurry? It’s easy enough to forget you are in an app at all, but iOS 9 gives you a status bar reminder/button of however you got to wherever you are, allowing you to quickly go back to the app you originally opened.

In the Beta, it displays a ‘back to search’ button if you got to the app through a search — which might be slightly annoying for those of us who open almost all of our apps through the search interface.
7: A general tune-up

iOS 9 feels snappy, and it’s a lot slimmer than its predecessor. It’s a beta, so there’s bugs, but my main iPhone with iOS 8 feels slightly sluggish in comparison. Apple promise serious speed and battery improvements, particularly for those with a 4S. I haven’t had a chance to seriously check out the 4S performance yet, but some of the improvements just seem like common sense. For example, if your phone can’t use a certain feature of an app because it is too old, it won’t download all the code for that feature, saving precious precious space.

While we’re talking space, here’s the big news on the tune up: iOS 9 is just 1.3GB, while iOS 8 was 4.58 GB. For anyone on a 16GB iPhone, this is a pretty big deal.

For everyone else, Apple’s ‘Metal’ programming language should make apps hand off more tasks to the GPU, increasing performance and battery life. Apple promise a whole extra hour of battery life.
And one big thing: Intelligence

Okay, this is cheating a little bit. Apple’s new ‘intelligence’ features — an updated search, an updated Siri, and a general feeling of proactive smarts throughout the system — are easily the largest part of iOS 9, but also the hardest to appreciate in an early glance. These new features worm their way into every part of the system, hopefully making your iPhone feel like a smart personal assistant instead of a slow calendar.

Want to remind yourself of an invitation you just said yes to? Just ask Siri to “remind me about this”. Want to know that random number who is calling you? iOS will look through your email and try to work it out. These features, which mimic and extend the kind of functionality Google pack into Android with Google Now, signal a completely new course of computing that we’re all embarking on.


Henry Sapiecha

Samsung Galaxy S6 (32GB) review: Simply, the best Samsung Galaxy

Tuesday, May 26th, 2015

samsung s6 phone image

  • Expert Rating

    4.75 / 5


  • Metal and glass body
  • Leading 577ppi screen
  • Powerful computing innards
  • Good battery life
  • Great 16MP rear- and 5MP-front cameras
  • Improved finger scanner
  • Light TouchWiz software


  • No expandable storage
  • Battery is non-removable


Henry Sapiecha


Tuesday, August 27th, 2013




Henry Sapiecha

black diamonds on white line


Tuesday, April 2nd, 2013


Make and Receive free Phone Calls Android


Henry Sapiecha



Sunday, March 10th, 2013
 Samsung Galaxy S3 (AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, U.S. Cellular, Verizon)

1…Samsung Galaxy S3 (AT&T, Sprint,

T-Mobile, U.S. Cellular, Verizon)

Pumped with high-performing hardware and creative software features, the Samsung Galaxy S3 is an excellent, top-end phone that’s neck and neck with the HTC One X.

Price: $99.99 (check prices)

4 stars Excellent Editors' Choice - Samsung Galaxy S3 (AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, U.S. Cellular, Verizon) Read full review

Don’t be Naked to the world.

Public WiFi is just that. Public. Every time you use a public wifi hotspot, you’re naked to the world. Hackers can steal your data out of thin air.

Learn more about how to protect yourself on public WiFi.


Samsung Galaxy Note 2 (AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, U.S. Cellular, Verizon)

2…Samsung Galaxy Note 2 (AT&T, Sprint,

T-Mobile, U.S. Cellular, Verizon)

Samsung delivers a powerful, boundary-pushing device that gets a lot right. Yet its complicated features and high price raise questions about its purpose.

Price: $99.99 – $749.99 (check prices)

4 stars Excellent Read full review

HTC Droid DNA (Verizon Wireless)

3…HTC Droid DNA (Verizon Wireless)

With quad-core power, 4G LTE, a lovely 5-inch screen, and a stunning design, the $199.99 HTC Droid DNA is currently Verizon’s best Android deal.

Price: $49.99 – $599.99 (check prices)

4 stars Excellent Read full review

LG Nexus 4 (T-Mobile)

4…LG Nexus 4 (T-Mobile)

While the LG Nexus 4 wins on internal performance and user experience, anyone shopping for an unlocked phone should consider a comparable LTE handset first.

Price: $199.99 – $549.99 (check prices)

4 stars Very good Read full review


Motorola Droid Razr Maxx HD (Verizon)

5…Motorola Droid Razr Maxx HD (Verizon)

Motorola’s fast, stylish Droid Razr Maxx HD offers outstanding battery life, but its camera captures unimpressive images.

Price: $99.99 – $649.99 (check prices)

4 stars Excellent Read full review

VPN Protected Laptop

Cybercrime at Hotels?

Let’s face it, hackers love hotels. And not because they want to get away and sip margaritas by the pool. The huge volume of personal information collected, transmitted, and stored by the hospitality industry has made it a prime target for cybercrime. Learn More


Thursday, February 28th, 2013

The phones of MWC


Check out these 32 top android phones as shown at the world mobile congress.

Nokia Lumia 720


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Nokia Lumia 720

 Of all the new devices that Nokia introduced at the show, the Nokia Lumia 720 is the most high-end. It has the familiar Lumia unibody design, but it adds a microSD card slot that you can use with cards up to 64GB. Also, it’s capable of wireless charging, it has 8GB of internal memory, and a 6.7-megapixel camera with an f/1.9 aperture and an LED flash.

LG Optimus G Pro

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LG Optimus G Pro
 The Optimus G Pro is another attempt by LG to build a hybrid smartphone and tablet (or a “phablet,” if you will). It has 5.5-inch full HD IPS screen with a 1,920×1,080-pixel resolution — giving a high 400ppi. Fortunately, it’s a 16:9 aspect ratio, which is more standard on mobile phones than the 4:3 ratio on LG’s earlier Intuition


Alcatel One Touch Fire


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Alcatel One Touch Fire

 The Alcatel One Touch Fire is one of the first smartphones to run Firefox OS, a new software that aims to light a fire under Android. That alone gives it some street cred, even if the other features aren’t quite as noteworthy. It has a single-core 1GHz Qualcomm processor, a 3.2-megapixel camera, and a microSD card slot.

Acer Liquid E1

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Acer Liquid E1
 The Acer Liquid E1 has midrange features and relatively low-resolution 4.5-inch display, but it also brings Android 4.1 Jelly Bean and powerful external speakers.


Huawei Ascend P2

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Huawei Ascend P2
Huawei continues its quest for the high-end market with its new Ascend P2. It runs Android 4.1 Jelly Bean and features a 4.7-inch, 720p HD display with a 315-pixel density, a 85-degree viewing angle, 500-nits brightness, and Gorilla Glass 2. Inside you’ll find a 1.5GHz quad-core processor, a 13-megapixel camera, and a 1.3-megapixel front-facing camera.

Alcatel One Touch

Scribe Easy


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Alcatel One Touch Scribe Easy

Equipped with Jelly Bean, Alcatel’s One Touch Scribe Easy has a cool magnetic cover and a stylus you can use to transcribe handwriting into text in several custom apps. The size is a little awkward, and the specs won’t surprise you, but it won’t take a big bite out of your wallet, either.

LG Optimus F5


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LG Optimus F5

 Part of LG’s new midrange F series, the Optimus F5 has a 4.3-inch display, a 5-megapixel rear camera and a 1.3 megapixel front-facing camera, a 1.2GHz dual-core Snapdragon processor, 8GB of onboard storage, and Android 4.1.1 Jelly Bean.

LG Optimus F7


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LG Optimus F7

 The higher-end Optimus F7, which rocks a 4.7-inch IPS display, features a wide and slim physical home button, bracketed by the standard capacitive back and menu buttons. It runs on a midlevel 1.5GHz dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon processor, Android 4.1.1 Jelly Bean, an 8-megapixel rear camera, a 1.3-megapixel front-facing camera, and a 2,540mAh battery

ZTE Grand Memo


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ZTE Grand Memo

 Another big phone or small tablet (depending on how you see it), the ZTE Grand Memo has a huge 5.7-inch display with Android 4.1.2, a 13-megapixel camera, and a 1-megapixel front-facing camera.

Geeksphone Peak

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Geeksphone Peak
 With a with premium hardware, a 4.3-inch display, and a 1.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 dual-core processor, the Geeksphone Peak is the best way so far to experience Mozilla’s browser-based operating system. Other features include a proximity sensor and accelerometer, an 8-megapixel rear-facing camera and 2-megapixel front camera, 512MB of RAM and 4GB of flash memory, microSD and Micro-USB ports, and a GPS receiver.

Alcatel One Touch



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Alcatel One Touch Idol X

 By phone standards, the 5-inch One Touch Idol X is enormous, yet a few design tricks make it seem smaller than it really is. It runs Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, the rear cover is coated in a colorful rubbery material, and you can choose between two versions of the phone. One has an 8-megapixel camera and a microSD card slot and the other is a dual-SIM model with a 13-megapixel camera and no memory-card slot.

Nokia Lumia 520


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Nokia Lumia 520

 More midrange than the Lumia 720, Nokia’s Lumia 520 has a 5-megapixel camera that can record 720p HD video, and 8GB of storage. There’s no flash, and Nokia bypassed wireless charging, presumably to help keep costs down.

Tizen OS


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Tizen OS

It’s not in a real phone quite yet, but the Tizen Association showed off its new mobile OS. Japan’s NTT Docomo will be the first carrier to sell a Tizen smartphone and Samsung will be the first company to make such a device this summer.

Samsung Galaxy



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Samsung Galaxy Xcover

So, why the strange name? Well, it’s because Samsung’s Galaxy Xcover is really a Samsung Galaxy S3 Mini in a rugged shell. It’s IP67-certified, which means it’s dust-proof and waterproof up to 1 meter for 30 minutes. It’ll survive a dunking in your drink or the bathroom, and it’ll survive you washing it afterward. Inside it has a chunky dual-core 1GHz processor with 1GB of RAM, and Android 4.1 Jelly Bean. The display is a 4-inch touch screen with 800×480 pixels

ZTE Open


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ZTE Open

Another new phone running the Firefox OS, the ZTE Open is faster than Alcatel’s handset, but at this stage it’s not powerful enough to rival most smartphones. The screen has a mere 480×320-pixel resolution, for example, and the camera is a 3.2-megapixel job.

Cat B15


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Cat B15

 Encased in a thick rubber skin, the rough ‘n’ tumble Cat B15 can operate in temperatures from -20 to 55 degrees Celsius (-4 to 131 degrees Fahrenheit) and can withstand up to 6-foot drops (1.8 meters). Features include Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, a 4-inch touch screen with Gorilla Glass, a 1GHz dual-core MediaTek processor, and a 5-megapixel camera

Alcatel One Touch


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Alcatel One Touch Snap

The Alcatel One Touch Snap sports a 1.2GHz quad-core MediaTek processor, a large 4.5-inch screen, 1GB of RAM, and 4GB of internal memory. All this drives the phone’s Android 4.2 Jelly Bean software along at a, well, snappy clip.

Alcatel One Touch

Snap LTE


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Alcatel One Touch Snap LTE

The One Touch Snap LTE is similar to its sibling, but it supports LTE, it has a slightly larger 1.4GHz Snapdragon dual-core processor, and its profile is just a bit thicker (4.65 inches).

NEC Medias W N-05E


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NEC Medias W N-05E

 The NEC Medias W N-05E isn’t the first handset we’ve seen with two screens. You can fold out the twin 4.3-inch qHD displays to make it a 5.6-inch tablet of sorts, but the whole thing just seems awkward.

Samsung Galaxy Grand

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Samsung Galaxy Grand

With a design that sort of resembles the Galaxy S3, the Samsung Galaxy Grand has a 5-inch LCD display with rounded corners and a wide home button. Features include Android Jelly Bean 4.1.2, 8GB of internal memory, a microSD card slot, and Bluetooth, and a 1.2GHz dual-core processor.

Acer Liquid Z2

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Acer Liquid Z2

Though the single-core processor and the 3-megapixel camera make it largely an entry-level device, the Acer Liquid Z2 runs on Android 4.1 Jelly Bean and it has a dual SIM card slot.

Alcatel One Touch Star

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Alcatel One Touch Star

Though positioned as an entry-level phone, the One Touch Star has a bright and vibrant 4-inch AMOLED display. It runs Jelly Bean, has some great editing apps for its 5-megapixel camera, and you can get it in a variety of colors.

Fujitsu Arrows

X F-02E


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Fujitsu Arrows X F-02E

The Fujitsu Arrows X F-02E is a powerful Android phone that has an exquisite screen, a quad-core 1.7GHz processor, a 16.3-megapixel camera, a fingerprint scanner, and a water- and dust-resistant shell.

LG L 7II, L5II, and



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LG L 7II, L5II, and L3 II

LG also introduced more devices for its previously established L series. Though all of the handsets run on Android Jelly Bean, they offer varying designs and features. The L7 II (left) is the most high-end of the bunch. It has a 4.2-inch display with an 8-megapixel camera, and a 1GHz dual-core processor. The L5 II (middle) brings a 4-inch screen, a 5-megapixel camera, and a 1GHz single-core processor; and the L3 II (right) sports a 3.2-inch screen, a 5-megapixel camera, and a 1GHz processor

Geeksphone Keon


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Geeksphone Keon

Another phone running the Firefox OS, the Geeksphone Keon will be priced between $100 and $150 when it goes on sale in the next few weeks worldwide (it will be the first Firefox OS phone available to buy). Like the Fire, it has a 3.5-inch screen and it’s wrapped in a bright “Firefox orange” casing.

Nokia 301


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Nokia 301

Nokia takes us back to classic Nokia designs with the candy bar 301. The 2.4-inch QVGA display, which isn’t a touch screen, has a 320×240-pixel resolution. There’s a 3.2-megapixel camera (no flash), which includes panorama mode, and burst mode with up to five shots in a sequence. You’ll only find 256MB of internal storage, but you can save media on up to 32GB of external storage.

Samsung Galaxy Fame


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Samsung Galaxy Fame

 Though it carriers the Galaxy name, Samsung Galaxy Fame won’t count as a premium device. Indeed, with its low-resolution 480×320-pixel screen, 1GHz processor, and 5-megapixel camera, it won’t take a big bite out of your wallet.

Nokia 105


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Nokia 105

Intentionally created for the entry-level cell phone markets in China, Indonesia, India, and Nigeria, the Nokia 105 focuses on calls, long battery life, and only a few little extras. It has a tiny 1.5-inch display and no camera, but you do get a flashlight, an FM radio, alarms, and a reminder app.

Doro PhoneEasy 622


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Doro PhoneEasy 622

Launching in Europe, the senior-friendly Doro PhoneEasy 622 has a flip design that’s smaller than what we’ve seen from the company before, but it still has big controls and a user-friendly interface. Also, it’s the first Doro to feature video recording.

Fujitsu Stylistic S01


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Fujitsu Stylistic S01

Fujitsu’s Stylistic S01 also is aimed at seniors. The feature set for the Ice Cream Sandwich device hits a bit lower than most Android phones, but it has access to all of the Google’s apps that you’d expect.

Samsung Galaxy Young

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Samsung Galaxy Young
About as basic as they come, the Samsung Galaxy Young is a single-core phone with a 1GHz processor and 512MB of RAM, a low-resolution 480×320-pixel display, and a 3-megapixel shooter. So you can see why they call it “young.”
Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha


Tuesday, December 11th, 2012

China’s Xiaomi Technology is a fairytale for nerdy entrepreneurs.

Less than three years after its founding, the smartphone maker is valued at $US4 billion and evokes Apple-like adoration from its fans, some of whom are desperate enough to skip work for a shot at buying the latest product the day it goes on sale.

China’s media say I am China’s Steve Jobs, 

Founder Lei Jun dresses like the late Steve Jobs, in jeans and a black top. He has created a fervent fan base for Xiaomi’s moderately priced high-end smartphones by mimicking Apple’s marketing tactic of attaching an aura of exclusivity around its products.

Lei Jun, founder and CEO of China’s mobile company Xiaomi. Photo: Reuters

Before Xiaomi, the 42-year-old Lei was a key investor in China’s early internet scene, co-founding start-ups including, which was eventually sold to, and the recently listed YY Inc.

Born in Xiantao, a small city in China’s central Hubei province better known for breeding Olympic gymnasts than billionaire technocrats, Lei brushes off comparisons to Jobs but concedes that the Apple visionary was an inspiration.

“China’s media say I am China’s Steve Jobs,” Lei said in an interview.

Dresses like the late Steve Jobs … Lei Jun. Photo: Reuters

“I will take this as a compliment but such kind of comparison brings us huge pressure,” said Lei, who grew up assembling radios as a hobby. “Xiaomi and Apple are two totally different companies. Xiaomi’s based on the internet. We are not doing the same thing as Apple.”

Hot sales and fans

Xiaomi has already sold 300,000 of its latest phone model, launched in October. The Xiaomi phone 2 has specifications similar to those of Samsung Electronics’ Galaxy S3 and Apple’s iPhone 5 but a top-of-the-line model sells for about $US370, half the price of an iPhone 5.

The late Steve Jobs. Photo: Getty Images

Unlike the big domestic smartphone players, such as Lenovo, ZTE and Huawei, which work with telecom carriers to sell a large volume of smartphones, Xiaomi sells most of its phones online and in small batches.

This small volume strategy creates pent-up demand that gives Xiaomi free marketing buzz. The first batch of 50,000 phones released on October 30 sold out in less than two minutes. Subsequent larger batches have also sold out in minutes.

Lei, who has nearly 4 million followers on China’s popular microblogging platform, Weibo, feeds the buzz by dangling teasers about new products and launch dates.

“We’re not a company that chases sales volume. We chase customer satisfaction. We look for ways to give the customer a great surprise,” Lei said.

His vision for an exclusive mid-tier brand that builds up incrementally, rather than swamping the market, has found financial backers. In June, Xiaomi raised $US216 million from Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund, the Government of Singapore Investment Corp, and a few of Lei’s friends, local media reported, giving it a valuation of $US4 billion.

“China is ripe for its own Apple, HTC or Samsung,” said Hans Tung, managing partner at Qiming Venture Partners, a venture firm backing Xiaomi. “The country is big enough, there are enough mobile internet users and mobile phone consumers. Therefore having its own mobile ecosystem built up by a domestic brand makes sense.”

Xiaomi, which was founded in April 2010 and only started selling smartphones in October 2011, is on track to sell 7 million units this year, exceeding its target of 2 million.

Xiaomi is already profitable and is expected to rake in sales of up to 13 billion yuan ($1.9 billion) this year.

“Our product only sold for a year and hit sales of $2 billion. That is pretty impressive,” Lei said, adding Xiaomi was not considering an initial public offering within the next five years.

Tung said Xiaomi’s net margins were 10 per cent. This suggests its net profit could hit $US200 million this year.

Mo Xiaohua, a 24-year-old accountant, is a proud Xiaomi fan who only recently bought her first Xiaomi phone. For many who use Xiaomi phones, the customisable themes and the weekly updates are a big draw.

“I like Xiaomi because among China’s brand smartphones, its value is the best,” Mo said. “Now that we have such a good China branded phone, we need to support it.”


‘Black back flats’

Xiaomi has its fair share of detractors who doubt it will have a happy ending. They say the smartphone game in China can only be won with wide distribution and high volume or a big brand with distinctive designs.

Xiaomi, whose attraction is its price and high technical specifications, does not win points for cutting-edge design.

“This is a world where people are now cranking out ‘black back flats’, that’s what all these phones are when you put 10 on the table… Xiaomi is not going to stick out,” said Michael Clendenin, managing director at RedTech Advisors. “In this world, the market is driven by two things: one is massive volume and two huge brands.”

ZTE and Huawei have set smartphone sales targets for this year at about 30 million and 60 million respectively. The firms have traditionally dominated the cheap low-end smartphone segment but have been pushing into the mid-price range.

ZTE said it launched 11 types of smartphones in the mid-price range of 1500-2500 yuan ($229-$382) this year, up from six last year. Apple released its mid-range tablet, the iPad Mini, in China on Friday.

“Xiaomi had great headline appeal a year ago… but the problem is now you have got guys like ZTE and Huawei and Meizu with phones that are priced in a similar range,” Clendenin said.

China is expected to surpass the United States as the world’s largest smartphone market this year with 165-170 million unit sales, up from 78 million last year, Gartner said.

Analysts said Xiaomi had to ramp up volume and address technical problems and a shortage of customer service centers if it wanted a shot at the big league.

“One of the challenges of being in the middle is that you can get squeezed,” said Duncan Clark, chairman of Beijing-based consultancy BDA.

Lei is resolute that he will prove the naysayers wrong.

“In this industry, I think the most important thing is to get love from your customers,” he said. “If you are popular with your customers, you succeed.

Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha


Sunday, March 4th, 2012


As a response to public fears about radiation levels following the Fukushima crisis, a Japanese organization called Radiation Watch has launched Pocket Geiger, a Geiger counter iPhone peripheral and accompanying app aimed at concerned individuals.

New Scientist reports that the peripheral has eight photodiode sensors to detect radiation and aluminum foil to screen alpha and beta particles. Second generation peripherals, known as Pokega Type2, do away with the need for batteries, using the connected iPhone as a power supply.

The app functions as the Geiger counter display, but also uploads data to a Radiation Watch server where readings are collectively mapped for an overview. Apparently there are over 10,000 users, though the viewing of maps is limited to Radiation Watch members.

The main advantage of the Pocket Geiger appears to be cost. Where a typical personal Geiger counter would cost well into three figures, the peripheral and app cost a mere US$46 – or $65 for the Pokega Type2.

Of course, the WikiSensor app we looked at last October did away with the peripheral entirely.

Sources: New Scientist, Radiation Watch


Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha