Category: cell phones


Superphone Evolution

Samsung clawed themselves  to the top of the smartphone mountain and have reigned King of super-sized smartphones for a while now. Their sleek looks and crisp specs managed to woo Techsnoop from the beloved HTC Evo line-up. Led solidly by the Galaxy and Note super phones, Samsung forced everyone, including Apple to up their phone game. Now Samsung finds themselves in an uncomfortable position. They still have premium phones, but many competitors have managed to improve their specs and catch up. And, at a lower price.

Note Evolution

Credit: CNET

The Note 4 is a premium phone and needed only minor upgrades for the Note 5. A faster processor and possibly a slimmer profile would have been great. The improvements to the S-Pen are solid. Why in the name of all that is tech-savvy would Samsung take a step back and have a non-removable battery? The Note line is not for the messaging-selfie obsessed crowd. This is a phone for multi-tasking professionals and we don’t want non-removable batteries and non-expandable storage. Ask HTC, as they lost this market to the Note when they adopted these features.

Techsnoop has several non-negotiable requirements for a phone. One is excellent camera, another is expandable memory, and a third is removable battery. Samsung has dropped the last two on the Note 5 and ensured that this phone is not on the list of considerations for upgrade. Phone makers listen to your customers; we don’t want cloud storage at the expense of expandable storage. It is not an acceptable trade-off.

The Note 5 has a great screen, nice upgrade features and the latest Android OS along with the upgraded S-Pen. The specs are a modest upgrade from the Note 4 and makes the phone a good choice for some who are not super users. But with both built-in battery and non-expandable storage, the Note 5 doesn’t make Techsnoop’s contender list for upgrade. Perhaps Samsung will wake up with the Note 6.

What are your deal-breaker features on a smartphone?

HTC One M8It’s no secret that Techsnoop likes HTC products. Having been an EVO owner since 2010, Techsnoop has followed the brand through its ups and downs. With a superior product and ground breaking features (remember the 8 megapixel camera? HTC was first), HTC was in the unenviable position of having a superior product with sub-par marketing. But they have been trying to turn this around.

Here’s To Change

Techsnoop thinks they have struck marketing gold. The new commercial series with Gary Oldman is clean, hip, and captivating. It also generates the all-important “buzz” factor. Yet, purposefully or not, they have also dredged up the spirit of Steve Jobs. Yes, Gary Oldman in his geek-hip frames and crew-neck black shirt provide a new millennium contrast to the wire-frame, turtle-necked Jobs. Jobs was a master showman using mood lighting and emotional appeal to tout products for a targeted audience.

The new HTC One M8 ads use similar techniques in a clean, fresh way that appeals to the information overloaded generation. Techsnoop approves. Let us know in the comments if you agree with this approach.

 

Recently, PayPal’s President, David Marcus berated his employees in writing, on not using the company products and even for forgetting their passwords. He summed up by stating that staff should get with the program or look for another job. Now, as a small business advocate, Techsnoop concedes that companies have the right to set their own standards and rules. Whatever the company thinks is best is their right, within law.

However, there are tried and proven methods for properly managing and motivating staff, and intimidation and ranting are not on the list. In fact, if you were to take a poll of employees around the world, Techsnoop would bet a case of Coke-Cola that these behaviors are guaranteed to make staff sabotage a business just before moving to another job. By the way Coke-Cola, Marcus supports his employee’s hacking of your machines. Perhaps an investigation is needed?

DKemp Designs Coke collage

The problem arose during a test of a new PayPal mobile enabled business some employees refused to install the app on their devices. While testing of technology products is absolutely to be encouraged, this is America and when an employee uses their money to purchase a device, for their use, an employer has no right to demand that it be used to support their business objectives.

If PayPal or any other business wants to utilize employees for product testing, provide the equipment and connect it to their own bank accounts for this purpose. Perhaps the employees do not want the employer to have access to their banking information or do not feel comfortable with mobile purchases in general. Maybe their device is a lower level Android and doesn’t run well with too many apps. Or perhaps the employee feels the application sucks and doesn’t want it on their device.

Remember, applications have broad permissions to access information on your device and can be used for hacking, identity theft and outright bank fraud. Demanding that your employees open themselves to these issues with no obligation to support them in case of an event is unconscionable.

Reactions to this snafu have been mixed. Some have defended the remarks as misunderstood “passion” for his company while others have noted that this leadership style is outdated and that the company needs to look at their products more closely.

Techsnoop believes the words of the message speak for themselves. PayPal is insisting that employees use their personal time and equipment to support the company goals with no reward other than being “passionate PayPals”. Further, Marcus instructs these “Passionistas” to pressure and intimidate their colleagues creating an uncomfortable work atmosphere. Mr. Marcus, as a previous HR staffer Techsnoop wants you to know harassment on the job leads to litigation.

Weigh in on the PayPal discussion in the comments below. Is it passion or intimidation?

HTC One Max

Credit: CNET

The One Max is HTC’s answer to phablet lovers in the big screen wars. Like its sibling the HTC One, this is a beautiful phone with metal casing and great speakers. In a wink at Apple, it includes a fingerprint scanner.

Packed with serious specs, this is a solid offering into the giant phone market. But to truly take on this market HTC will have to address weight, processor power and camera quality.

Winning specs are; a 5.9-inch (vs. 5.7 Note 3) 1080p display, metallic body,strong battery life, SD card slot, crisp giant display with true-life colors and the new HTC Sense 5.5 which allows you to turn off Blinkfeed (cheers and whistles).

Losing specs, 1.7GHz quad-core processor and 4 megapixel ‘Ultrapixel’ camera, weight(7.76 ounces).

The fingerprint scanner is located on the back under the camera and can be used to open specific apps in addition to unlocking the phone. This makes it more useful than just a way to unlock the phone. It can instantly give access to the camera, navigation or other functions to save time.

Performance

Credit: CNET

Credit: CNET

The HTC One Max handles 3D games like Asphalt 8 smoothly and with excellent color and clarity. Full on HD streaming also gets the thumbs up.

Only the 1.7GHz processor gives pause. While sufficient for current games and movies, it doesn’t leave much room for upgrades. This is reminicent of the original EVO which was an excellent phone that couldn’t be upgraded to new specs after the first year. This is an area HTC will have to address to stay in the smartphone game.

Battery life is on par with the HTC One, a day or more with normal use or a boost for super users who game and stream heavily. Super streamers and gamers should not be surprised that any phone will need recharging during the day. In fact, all superusers should just keep a charger handy.

 

Pictures

htc one max camera

Credit: CNET

Techsnoop is not a fan of the Ultrapixel technology. Side by side testing usually shows it to be OK, but in real-time use, extra megapixels capture light and movement a bit better. That said, the photos taken with the 4 megapixel, Ultrapixel HTC One Max look decent (see sample right).  HTC, go back to more megapixels, Samsung is killing with 13 megapixels and no small amount of Ultrapixels is going to convince customers.

 

 

Wrap Up

The One Max is a great phone, but unfortunately, it was released after the Samsung Note 3. With a snappier processor and lighter weight, many will opt for the Note 3. A small 1.83 ounce weight difference from the Note 3 doesn’t sound like much, but may be just enough to tip a sale.  With hand-held tech, hand and wrist fatigue are real considerations. HTC must stop responding to other phone makers and go back to innovating.

The One Max should be available at Sprint and Verizon in November. Let us know in the comments which phablet is for you, or do you lean toward smaller screens.

Samsung Galaxy Note 3Techsnoop has been a long-time fan of the HTC EVO series phones.  With large screens, beautiful displays and great cameras, these phones re-shaped the future of the smartphone landscape.  And while there is still mad love for the brand, at long last, a phone has come that disrupts this love affair.

Samsung Galaxy Note 3

Overlooking for the moment, the add-on gear, the Note 3 has a 13 megapixel camera, 60 frame per second HD video, 3GB RAM, and … wait for it, it comes in PINK!  Techsnoop followers will know of the fondness for pink tech.

The Note 3 has been upgraded with a 3200 mAh battery for up to 4 hours extra use, a 2.3 GHz processor (for comparison my laptop has a 2.20 GHz processor) and a 5.7 inch screen.  With these upgrades, Samsung has also addressed customer concerns about speed, battery life and the plastic casing.  The new back is a leather-like material giving a soft and gripable surface, there is a metallic trim on the edge and the bezel has been reduced slightly.  Overall the effect is of a premium phone worthy of its heavy-duty specs.  The S Pen has been upgraded to make using the Note 3 more intuitive with a short learning curve.

Introducing…

The Galaxy Note 3 was introduced on September 4 with much fanfare from Samsung.  But it was a venue for more than just a new smartphone.  The Note 3 has partner tech that makes it work seamlessly for productivity and fun.

First up, Samsung Gear.  The age of the smart watch has arrived with bells and whistles.  The Gear watch allows you to check messages, answer calls and take pictures without ever taking your phone out.  It also includes S Voice to allow for complete hands free usage of your note when fiddling with a large touch screen is not convenient (like driving).  And it is backwards compatible with the Note 2.  Specs for the Gear are;

1.63-inch Super AMOLED screen  320×320 resolution
Dual core processor 800MHz
1.9 MegaPixel wrist camera 720p
Speakers in the device’s strap
Accelerometer
Bluetooth 4.0 LE
Android Jelly Bean
512MB of RAM
4GB of storage
Available in six colors:
Jet Black, Mocha Gray, Wild Orange, Oatmeal Beige, Rose Gold, and Lime Green with initial pricing of $300.

 Galaxy Gear Watch

The Galaxy Note 3 10.1 tablet is also made to integrate with the Note 3 phone.  You can share apps and notes seamlessly.  The S Pen makes apps like Photoshop Touch extra useful for small businesses like DKemp Designs.  While the total sticker for the three devices may be a bit pricey, the specs, security and flexibility make this a worthy trio to own for the multi-tasking business owner.  All in all, Techsnoop gives this tech trio a 5 star rating.

Check out the Samsung Unpacked video and let us know if you will be switching to the Note 3 when you upgrade.

 

samsungs3 vs iPhone5This ultimate test of smartphones lies firmly in the “don’t try this at home” category.

Both phones are placed in a Blendtec blender and blended till smooth.  While this is not an accurate test of a smartphone’s capabilities, notice that the Samsung Galaxy S3 took a lot longer to turn to e-dust than the iPhone 5.  Surprising since many have dissed the Galaxy S3 as seeming frail in construction.

Apparently, thinness and lightness are not an accurate predictor of durability.  Congrats to the Galaxy S3 for standing up to the Blendtec for a longer time.  Ultimately, however, no phone is going to compete with high-density steel blades rotating at high speeds for long.  But, your phone may survive a few additional drops from your pocket longer.

Techsnoop had the opportunity to get up close and personal with the HTC EVO 4G LTE recently.  The reviews don’t do this phone justice.

It can be argued that the original EVO kicked off the serious smartphone wars.  This phone was worthy competition that put Android on the playing field as a great OS.  Yahoo lists this as one of the best smartphones to buy and it truly is.

Weight; the new EVO is incredibly thin and light, but has a larger screen than the original.  This alone makes it worth changing if, like me, you still have the older model.  It is also very thin, but still feels like it will hold up over time.  Some of the recent thin smartphones seem like they will break if you hold them too tight.

Screen; the screen resolution is so crisp, you feel like you can walk into the picture.  The HTC Sense UI is intuitive and easy to use.  Navigation is speedy and multi-tasking is the whole point of this interface.

Camera; the 8MP camera on the original EVO spoiled me for all others.  The new EVO does not disappoint here.  An 8MP camera that takes HD video and allows rapid fire photo taking while in video mode is a game-changer.  This model also has built in photo filters that allow you to change angles without adding a lens.

Overall, all the things you loved about the original EVO are here on steroids.  Take a look from the Sprint launch event.  And of course, all this comes in an unlimited data package available only from Sprint.

The HTC One X has been generating a lot of buzz, for great reasons.  Great screen, lots of enhanced features and a sleek look.  If you are considering this as an upgrade option, here it is;

Ok, admit it.  You are addicted to Angry Birds.  Whenever you have a free minute, or even under your desk at work, you’re not texting, you’re shooting birds at pigs with a slingshot.  You compete with friends and family to see who can get to the upper levels first and who has the high score.

I’m with you.  Yes, I resisted at first, thinking “shoot birds at pigs, really, I have better things to do”.  Turns out, I don’t.  And neither do millions of other people.  Angry Birds is a bona fide cultural hit across nations, languages and now possibly, planets.

Rovio has taken a simple game and made physics addicts out of over 700 million people.  And you thought physics didn’t have real life uses.

HTC One XIf you follow Techsnoop, you know how I’ve been whining about the lack of upgrade to the HTC EVO. The EVO was a phone that brought Android into head-to-head competition with the iPhone.  Size and features combined to create a great tech tool.  Lately Samsung has been swamping the market with great smartphones.  Well, HTC has apparently not been taking this sitting down.  Enter the HTC One X (working name).

I love large screen phones and great cameras.  If this is you, then check out the new HTC One X/Jet coming to Sprint (around June, 2012).  It has a 4.7-inch screen, 1280-by-720 Super LCD 2 screen, 1080p HD video, and the most important for me, an 8 megapixel camera.  Sorry, 5 megapixels doesn’t do it for me anymore.  For you musicphiles, the One X sports Beats Audio.  Other goodies; 16/32 GB storage, 1 GB RAM and a blazing fast dual core processor which has been compared favorably to current quad core processors.

To give it even more punch, HTC has added a feature that lets you stream video and other content wirelessly to your TV.  The TV dongle plug in is sold separately.  This takes couch potato multi-tasking to a whole new level.

The form factor is “candy bar” or the long, semi-square familiar shape we are accustomed to in smartphones.  The interface is touch screen with HTC Sense for improved response and of course, Ice Cream Sandwich is the OS.  Techlicious says that the camera will offer “an estimated 0.7-second shot time and a 0.2-second autofocus — and a F/2.0 lens that HTC says captures 40% more light than other smartphone cameras”.  PC Mag calls it “Android’s hero product of the year”.  And Laptop Mag has labeled it “Best Smartphone”.

The HTC One X is a worthy successor to the EVO.  Now, I have the unfortunate choice between the Samsung Note and the HTC One X, providing Sprint adds the Note to its lineup in time.  Fortunately, Samsung has added a Galaxy Note 10.1 inch tablet to its lineup, so I may just opt for both.  Gratefully accepting donations to the cause.