iPad or Android tablet?

Monday 1st September 2014 by William Judd in Android, Buyers Guides, iPad, Tablets.

When the iPad was released in 2010, the reaction was one of puzzlement – why would we need a supersized iPhone that can’t make phone calls? But by 2011, the second generation iPad had started to convince people, who found the long-lasting, instant-on device handy for keeping around the house or taking on trips. In a move that foreshadowed increasingly large mobile phones, there was definite value in consuming content – videos, books, websites – on a more expansive display.

The first tablet-specific version of Android was released around the same time as the iPad 2, but the open operating system was ill-suited for the larger screen sizes. Where Apple had mandated strict standards for iPad apps, in Android land it was a free-for-all. Many developers ticked the necessary boxes to say their apps were ready for tablets, but little else. That meant Android tablet apps were just giant, stretched out phone apps – not an ideal experience.

Fast forward a few years, and the playing field has become more even. Apple have evolved their offering with the iPad Mini, high resolutions displays, thinner dimensions and more apps, but Android has come along even more quickly. Now there are Android tablets available in a wide range of sizes, styles and capabilities.

So which should you choose? Let’s break it down.

iPad: Strengths

So – the iPad. It’s the quintessential tablet, and its popularity is one of its greatest strengths. It means you’ll find a wide range of iPad accessories, from iPad cases and covers to chargers, screen protectors and stands. You can find accessories to fit pretty much every need and every style. With only two models – iPad Mini and iPad Air – to be released recently, an entire industry can work easily to support them.

The same popularity also makes the iPad the biggest target for app developers, allowing them to finetune their apps to suit the iPad and make the very best use of its screen and capabilities. That translates into better apps, and more of them.

Apple have always tried to make their products easy to use, and that continues with the iPad. The Apple tablet is simple in places, but that ensures that there’s little that you quickly won’t learn how to do. Even complex tasks like cloud printing are presented well, making it easy to get things set up properly.

Finally, the iPad is well designed, with powerful hardware and a stylish look. The tablet’s processor and GPU are regularly listed among the best in the business, and the battery life of the tablet is considerable too. The iPad is also good looking, with a slim metal design that feels solid and dependable in your hands. The most important strength of the iPad is its display though, which is generally pixel-dense, bright and well-calibrated.

iPad: Weaknesses

Of course, there are downsides to Apple’s approach. The simplicity they have wrought means that more advanced controls are hidden or not present at all, leaving the operating system far less customisable than its peers. Apple’s tight control of their app store also allows them to remove apps they find objectionable, particularly those on questionable moral or legal ground.

The iPad’s premium materials and hardware command a premium price, making the iPad more expensive than similarly equipped Android tablets. Additional storage is also costly, with a 32GB model costing £80 more than the 16GB option – and there’s no option to add more storage with a microSD card later.

iPad: Recommended tablets

If you’re looking to pick up an iPad, there are only two real models to choose between: the iPad Mini with Retina Display and the iPad Air. The iPad Mini has a gorgeous 7.9-inch display, while the Air moves to 10.1-inches. Both tablets are well crafted out of aluminium, and boast good battery lives in addition to their well-tuned screens. The iPad Mini is the better choice for portable use (with one hand), while the iPad Air makes a better tablet for keeping at home (with two hands).

Android: Strengths

The strength of the Android operating system for tablets is breadth and depth. In almost any attribute you can name – dimensions, speed, capabilities, camera, price - there will be tablets that hit every point on the range. Sony produce a range of powerful, waterproof tablets with good cameras. Samsung opt for slim workhorses, many with styluses built in. Amazon have a range of high-performance tablets, tied into their own ecosystem, for a low price. These are just the tip of the iceberg; with sufficient time you should be able to find an Android tablet to fit any requirements.

You also have a lot of choice with an Android tablet after you’ve purchased it. It’s possible to buy microSD cards which will extend your available storage cheaply, and there are a decent range of other tablet accessories available too. While there aren’t as many third-party accessories available as there are for the iPad, that means tablet makers like Samsung and Motorola often produce an excellent first-party range.

Customisability is another advantage with Android. It’s often possible to make deeper changes than on iOS, and there’s also the option to install a new variant of the Android operating system (like CyanogenMod) that will allow you even greater control. There are very few questions you can ask that start “Can I…” that end “No.”

The final advantage to Android is often price. Google and Amazon are well known for their low-cost tablets that still deliver an excellent experience with good hardware; their content-first strategies mean that they’re willing to sell tablets at a loss in order to get you using their stores for apps, music, videos and books.

Android: Weaknesses

As we saw with the iPad, there’s a definite trade-off between simplicity and customisability. The average Android tablet errs towards customisability, which can be overwhelming.

There’s also a high amount of variability when it comes to the design of Android tablets, in terms of both software and hardware. Many Android tablets – including barebones Android found on the Nexus series – are well designed and look good, but there are also many tablets saddled with confusing interfaces, poor designs and underpowered hardware.

The final bugbear for Android is that of apps. You’ll find some great tablet apps, but lazily designed, stretched out mobile phone apps are still relatively common. The large range of Android devices also makes it harder for developers to optimise their apps, so you may find you’re arbitrarily unable to install apps if you aren’t using a well-known device.

Android: Recommended tablets

Google make some of the best Android tablets, which come with a clean version of Android, good hardware and an aggressive point. The most recent release, the Nexus 7, is a great choice with a sharp 7-inch display, good battery life and a simple, durable outward design.

Samsung are the biggest sellers of Android tablets, thanks to a massive range of models, a host of software additions to stock Android and slim designs. The Tab S 10.5-inch tablet is the most recent, and offers a good battery life, a bright and beautiful screen, and a slim chassis.

Sony operate at the highest end of the Android market, with top-notch screens and cameras and stylish waterproof bodies. The Xperia Z2 Tablet is a good example of their approach, with a squared-off waterproof body, good screen and relatively untouched version of Android on board.

Conclusion

Thanks for checking out the article – we hope it made it easier for you to choose an Android or iOS tablet! If you have any questions or comments, then please leave them below or speak to us on Twitter @mobilefun.

Top 5 latest Galaxy S5 cases: September 2014

Monday 1st September 2014 by William Judd in Android, Mobile Accessories.

In this article, we’re going to share five of the very best cases available for the popular Galaxy S5, new for September 2014. Let’s get started!

5. Spigen Slim Armor View – Smooth White

Spigen Samsung Galaxy S5 Slim Armor View Case - Smooth White     Spigen Samsung Galaxy S5 Slim Armor View Case

The Slim Armor View is a clever combination of Spigen’s earlier slim armour cases with a transparent window, like you’d find on Samsung’s S View cases. The combination is a case that excels in both protection and utility, with a dual-layered TPU design and a polycarbonate midsection. The clear window in the front of the case allows you to see incoming calls and other notifications with ease, while an internal magnet allows the case to wake and lock the phone as it’s opened and closed. A dimpled rear cover completes the Samsung look.

4. Ballistic Urbanite Case – Red / Black

Ballistic Urbanite Samsung Galaxy S5 Case - Red/Black    Ballistic Urbanite Samsung Galaxy S5 Case - Red/Black

Our next case is the Ballistic Urbanite, shown here in a fetching red and black colourway. The Urbanite is all about delivering protection without excessive bulk. The case’s unique HexTec six-sided drop protection technology is singularly effective against knocks and falls, with reinforced ballistic corners to protect the phone inside. A raised lip around the screen prevents damage there too.

3. Encase Genuine Leather Wallet Case – Brown

Adarga Galaxy S5 Leather-Style Wallet Case    Adarga Lumia 630 / 635 Leather-Style Wallet Case

The Encase Genuine Leather Wallet case is one of the best looking on the market. As the name suggests, this case is made from real leather to provide that unmatched natural look and feel in your hand. The case is practical too, with a full complement of pockets for credit cards and cash. A classy case.

2. LifeProof Fre Case – White

LifeProof Fre Case for Samsung Galaxy S5 - White    LifeProof Fre Case for Samsung Galaxy S5 - White

The LifeProof Fre is the only case on this list that isn’t available at the time of writing, but it’s so good that I’ve included it anyway. The case offers incredible protection, including waterproofing and dustproofing. The LifeProof Fre also meets or exceeds military standards, allowing it to protect your Galaxy S5 from drops, falls, scratches and a range of other hazards. Despite this laundry list of qualifications, the Fre remains surprisingly slim.

1. OtterBox Defender Series Case – Blue

OtterBox Defender Series Samsung Galaxy S5 Protective Case - Blue    OtterBox Defender Series Samsung Galaxy S5 Protective Case - Blue

Our final case today is the OtterBox Defender. The Defender is one of the best selling cases available for the Galaxy S5, and it’s easy to see why. The case offers incredible protection against drops and scratches, although it lacks the waterproofing of the more expensive LifeProof case. The Defender includes a built-in screen protector, silicone port covers and a detachable belt clip holster that doubles as a kickstand. Particularly in this new blue cover, the case looks great too.

Conclusion

So there we have it – five great new cases for the Galaxy S5. If you have any questions or comments, please leave them below. You can also reach us on Twitter @mobilefun. Thanks for reading the article and have a good one!

Samsung Gear Circle Bluetooth headset announced

Friday 29th August 2014 by William Judd in Android, Mobile Accessories.

This week Samsung announced a cool accessory alongside the Gear S smartwatch. It’s called the Gear Circle, and it’s a unique piece of functional jewellery; a Bluetooth headset and a necklace both. The Circle provides vibration notifications when worn, alerting you to incoming texts, emails and more even when you don’t have the headset in your ears. It’s a nice and subtle way of knowing you have to check your phone, without anyone else in the room hearing the alert.

Of course, these headphones can also be used to listen to music or talk to your friends. The high quality apt-X Bluetooth connection works as well for controlling your phone via voice commands as it does for music. The headphones have a surprising amount of bass, with a crystal clear mid-range too.

One question you might have is – how long do these headphones last? The answer is quite reasonable: 11 hours when talking or 9 hours when listening music. That should be enough to get you through a couple of days, and the headsets recharge quickly using their micro USB port – so you can use the same cable to charge the headphones as your phone. You could even use a micro USB power sharing cable to charge the headphones using your phone!

The Samsung Gear Circle will be coming soon to Mobile Fun. To register your interest and to learn more, please visit the product page linked below:

Thanks for checking out the article. Be sure to let us know what you think of the headset and Samsung’s other announcements in the comments below. You can also reach us on various social media outposts, including @mobilefun for Twitter and Love Your Mobile on Facebook.

Samsung announce Gear S curved display smartwatch

Friday 29th August 2014 by William Judd in Mobile Accessories, Smartwatches, Wearables.

Samsung’s Gear Fit wearable was critically panned upon release, but everyone liked its unique curved display. The curve looked good, and it also allowed Samsung to include a much larger screen than ever would be ergonomic otherwise. Today, Samsung unveiled another curved display wearable: the Gear S smartwatch.

The first thing you’ll notice about the Gear S is that its Super AMOLED display is massive. That flexible screen has allowed Samsung to fit a 2-inch 360 x 480 screen on your wrist, without a significantly bigger footprint than the 1.65-inch Gear Live. The effect is quite striking, particularly together with the analogue watch face that Samsung have chosen in their press shots.

When it comes to hardware, the Gear S has one big trick up its sleeve: connectivity. You’ll find a SIM card slot on the back of the watch, which’ll allow it to operate independently of a smartphone. The Gear S also includes Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS, an accelerometer, a gyro, a compass, a heart-rate monitor, an ambient light sensor, a UV sensor and a barometer. It’s an impressive litany of sensors and connectivity options. One nice advantage of  this is that you’ll be able to go for a run, record your route and fitness information, all without a smartphone bouncing around in your pocket.

Otherwise, the Gear S mirrors what we’ve seen from Samsung wearables in the past. It runs the Tizen OS and is powered by a dual-core 1GHz processor, backed with 512MB RAM and 4GB internal storage. Performance was generally improved in Samsung’s Tizen follow-up to its initial Android-based watch OS, so we should see a reasonably smooth interface here once again. The final important piece of the internals is the battery, which is 300mAh. It doesn’t sound like a lot to me, but Samsung have claimed that the device will last two days.

The Samsung Gear S is coming soon to Mobile Fun. For more information or to place your pre-order, please visit the links below:

If you have any comments, please leave ‘em below in the normal place or speak to us on Twitter @mobilefun.

Win a £550 smartphone for voting in the What Mobile Awards

Thursday 28th August 2014 by William Judd in Mobile Accessories, Special Offers.

Want a chance to win a £550 smartphone and help out your friends at Mobile Fun in the process? All you need to do is vote for us in the What Mobile Awards, where we’ve been nominated for Best Accessory Retailer. Each person that votes in the Awards is entered to win one of four top-end smartphones: the iPhone 5S, Galaxy S5, Xperia Z2 and the HTC One M8.

You can vote for Mobile Fun at Question 13 on the voting page. From there, just proceed to the final question and hit ‘done’ to save your score… and don’t forget to fill in your contact details if you’d like to be eligible to win a phone!

>> Click here to vote in the What Mobile Awards <<

Thanks to the support of our customers and community we’ve won Best Accessory Retailer for the past two years, and we’d appreciate your vote once again. Let’s make it three times running!