Author Archive

About

Find more about me on:

Here are my most recent posts

Light your iPhone photos with the Nova Flash

Wednesday, October 22nd, 2014

Professional portrait photographers love using portable flash units to get the best possible photos, but that same option hasn’t been available to iPhone photographers… until now. We’re introducing the Nova Bluetooth iPhone Flash, a portable flash unit that provides radically better-looking photos. Skin tones will look more natural, details will be richer and shadows softer.

The Nova works simply: Just load up the Nova photo app on your phone with Bluetooth turned on. You can see the Nova is connected via an icon in the lower right of the app. You can test the flash here, but the easiest thing to do is just take a photo by hitting the shutter button. The Nova flash will fire instead of the iPhone’s built-in flash, giving you a much better looking photo. You can adjust the warmth and intensity of the flash to suit your conditions within the app, including settings for gentle, warm, neutral, bright or custom.

Nova Bluetooth iPhone Flash    Nova Bluetooth iPhone Flash

The Nova Bluetooth iPhone Flash is constructed from 40 warm and cool LEDs, which allow it to be adjusted to suit different lighting situations. The flash unit is the size of a credit card, so you can slip it in your wallet or in your pocket without issues. As the connection is done over Bluetooth, there’s no messy setup process either – just a helpful flash whenever you need it. It’s actually a lot of fun to try out different settings and positions to get a good result, and once you’ve gotten the hang of it you’ll amazed at the quality of photos you can produce.

Nova Bluetooth iPhone Flash    Nova Bluetooth iPhone Flash

We gave the Nova Flash a spin, and it really works. You get a strong burst of light, warm or cold as per your settings, which is much more natural looking than the tiny unit that’s built into the iPhone 6 Plus. You do need to try different positions and angles to get the best look, but right from the start you get better results, particularly in low-light situations where you’d normally be faced with either terrible flash tones or incredibly grainy flash-free shots.

Left: with built-in flash. Right: with Nova flash, warm setting.

The Nova Flash is a brilliant piece of kit, and an essential iPhone 6 or iPhone 6 Plus photography accessory. The case is even stronger for older iPhone models, which have worse flash units and consequently much worse low-light photography without a flash replacement like the Nova.

What do you think of the Nova Flash? Let us know in the comments below! You can also reach us on Twitter @mobilefun or on Facebook at Love Your Mobile.

Spec Ops: iPhone 6 Plus vs Nexus 6 vs OnePlus One vs Note 4

Wednesday, October 22nd, 2014

In this article, we’re going to consider how the biggest phablets of the year stack up. We’ll be looking at three Android smartphones – the Nexus 6, Note 4 and OnePlus One - in addition to Apple’s iPhone 6 Plus. Let’s begin!

Display

Nexus 6 Note 4 OnePlus One iPhone 6 Plus
5.96 inches 5.7 inches 5.5 inches 5.5 inches
2560 x 1440 2560 x 1440 1920 x 1080 1920 x 1080
 493 ppi 515 ppi  401 ppi  401 ppi

It seems only natural to start with the defining feature of these phones: their displays. Each one comes with a display greater than 5.5 inches across the diagonal, putting them firmly in phablet (phone / tablet hybrid) territory. The One and 6 Plus are the smaller pair, while the Note 4 and Nexus 6 are closer to the tablet end of the scale. Despite their greater size, the higher resolution 1440p displays of the Note and Nexus grant them denser screens, which should make text and images appear more crisply.

Display technologies are also important; the Nexus 6 and Note 4 use AMOLED while the OnePlus One and iPhone 6 Plus are using IPS LCD displays. AMOLED is traditionally more power-efficient and has more vibrant colours, while IPS LCD tends to be more colour accurate with better viewing angles. Each display used here is high-end though, and so these differences are minimised.

Ultimately, there’s little here to differentiate these phones from each other; rather it depends what size you’re most comfortable with. We’ll get more into that with our next item – dimensions.

Winner: Tied

Dimensions, Weight and Materials

Nexus 6 Note 4 OnePlus One iPhone 6 Plus
159 x 83 x 10.1mm 154 x 79 x 8.5mm 153 x 76 x 8.9mm 158 x 78 x 7.1mm
184 grams 176 grams 162 grams 172 grams
Metal-framed plastic Metal-framed plastic Metal-framed plastic Metal

Given the differing screen sizes, we have surprisingly close results when it comes to dimensions. The Note 4 comes out barely ahead, thanks to fitting a 5.7-inch screen in dimensions close to the 5.5-inch OnePlus One. The iPhone 6 Plus is the outlier here, with a very wide and tall body for its screen size. Despite this, it pulls something back with a svelte 7.1mm thickness.

Each phone is constructed better than many of its peers and predecessors; the Note 4′s metal frame is a big improvement over the all-plastic body of the Note 3, for instance. When it comes to durability and in-hand feel, the sandstone back and metal frame of the OnePlus One give it the edge in the my eyes, with the iPhone 6 Plus’ fragile but gorgeous metal body close behind.

Winner: OnePlus One

Internals: CPU, RAM, Storage

Nexus 6 Note 4 OnePlus One iPhone 6 Plus
Snapdragon 805
quad-core 2.7GHz
Snapdragon 805
quad-core 2.7GHz
Snapdragon 801
quad-core 2.5GHz
Apple A8
dual-core 1.4GHz
3GB RAM 3GB RAM 3GB RAM 1GB RAM
32/64GB 32GB + microSD 16/64GB 16/64/128GB

When it comes to raw power, the two most recent Android phones – the Nexus 6 and Note 4 – have the edge. Their Snapdragon 805 chipsets provide an excess of CPU and GPU horsepower, just ahead of the OnePlus One’s older Snapdragon 801 chip. The iPhone 6 Plus seems outgunned here, but the Apple A8 chipset is surprisingly good for its clock speed, and offers similar performance to the 801 in many benchmarks.

Where the Apple handset really falls behind is in RAM, offering only 1GB compared to the 3GB of its rivals. This has a very noticeable effect, as you can only keep a couple of apps open at a time. Go back to an app you had open a few minutes ago, and you’ll have to launch it from scratch. Having to reload tabs in Safari every time you go back to the app gets old really fast. Conversely, these Android handsets can keep apps ready to go in the background for ages, saving your position in the app and saving you time and data.

When it comes to storage, the 6 Plus’ default 16GB loadout is quite limiting, and the jump to 64GB is expensive. The OnePlus One avoids this with a cheap jump to 64GB, while the Note 4 and Nexus 6 start with 32GB of storage onboard (and the Note 4 can add more storage cheaply with microSD).

Winners: Nexus 6 and Note 4

Battery Life

Nexus 6 Note 4 OnePlus One iPhone 6 Plus
3220 mAh 3220 mAh 3100 mAh 2915 mAh
24hr talk-time 20hr talk-time 20hr talk-time 24hr talk-time

One advantage to going with a phablet is that you can fit a giant battery inside. These phones’ batteries average over 3,000 mAh, granting the ability to talk for nearly a full day. Using the giant display reduces these figures somewhat, but with mixed usage you’re still looking at one or two full days of use between recharges. The iPhone 6 Plus is particularly impressive, with 24 hours of talk time from the smallest battery in the field.

Winner: iPhone 6 Plus

Camera

Nexus 6 Note 4 OnePlus One iPhone 6 Plus
13-megapixel
OIS, dual-LED flash
16-megapixel
OIS, LED flash
13-megapixel
dual-LED flash
8-megapixel
OIS, dual-LED flash
2160p30
1080p60
2160p30
1080p60
2160p30
1080p60
720p120
1080p60
720p240
2-megapixel 3.7-megapixel 5-megapixel 1.2-megapixel

While Android manufacturers have been chasing the spec sheets with higher megapixel counts, Apple has been focusing on image quality. The 6 Plus is their best effort yet, and takes fantastic pictures compared to other smartphones. Still, the higher megapixel counts of these Android phones do allow for better results in well-lit conditions like landscape shots. Ultimately though, the 6 Plus takes better pictures. The only disappointment is the front-facing camera, which at 1.2-megapixels is behind the competition.

When it comes to videos, it’s a little closer. Each Android phone shown here boasts 4K 30fps video recording, while the iPhone 6 Plus has excellent 240fps slow motion video at 720p. The slow motion video seems more useful than 4K, so once again the edge goes to the iPhone.

Winner: iPhone 6 Plus

Connectivity

Nexus 6 Note 4 OnePlus One iPhone 6 Plus
8-band LTE 6-band LTE 6-band LTE 12-band LTE
WiFi ac
Bluetooth 4.1
NFC
WiFi ac
Bluetooth 4.1
NFC
WiFi ac
Bluetooth 4.1
NFC
WiFi ac
Bluetooth 4.0
NFC (Apple Pay)

Connectivity is an interesting area. On the one hand, the iPhone 6 Plus has twice as many LTE bands as most of its competitors, making it much more likely you’ll find your favourite carrier is supported. Conversely, the Android phablets have a slightly later version of Bluetooth – 4.1 – which includes better coexistence with LTE signals, smarter connectivity and direct data transfers between Bluetooth accessories. The Android representatives also include NFC, which can be used for a range of purposes like transferring files, reading ads or contactless payments, while the iPhone 6 Plus only uses NFC for Apple’s own contactless payment system.

Winner: iPhone 6 Plus

Software and features

Nexus 6 Note 4 OnePlus One iPhone 6 Plus
Android 5
Stock
Android 4.4
TouchWiz
Android 4.4
CyanogenMod 11S
iOS 8.1
Stock
Water-resistant
Wireless charging
Stereo front speakers
S-Pen stylus
Removable battery
Multi-window
Fingerprint sensor
Tap-to-wake
Optional soft buttons
Touch ID
Continuity

Features are probably the hardest aspect of a phone to reduce down to a simple comparison, but at least you can see the features that each manufacturer wants to highlight (that we haven’t touched on already). Each phone has its strong points: the Nexus 6 has a strong hardware design with water resistance, wireless charging and stereo front-facing speakers, while the OnePlus One focuses more on software features like tap-to-wake and optional soft buttons. The iPhone 6 Plus’ Touch ID is the best implementation of a fingerprint sensor thus far, while Continuity allows the phone to work well with Mac computers. The Note 4 is probably the feature king though, with the S-Pen and some unique multi-tasking / multi-window features that make good use of the large screen.

When it comes to software, it’s a matter of preference. iOS 8.1 lacks the depth and customisation of Android, particularly compared to the CyanogenMod build on the OnePlus One, but does many things well and looks beautiful. iOS also boasts the larger app store, and more apps appear exclusively here than on Android. Conversely, many apps are just off-limits on iOS – you can’t get a torrent client, emulators or any content which Apple finds offensive or overly political.

Winner: Note 4

Accessories

Nexus 6 Note 4 OnePlus One iPhone 6 Plus
39 products 140 products 27 products 221 products

When it comes to accessories, Apple have enjoyed a healthy advantage almost since the first iPhone. With only a couple of models to choose from, accessory makers can be assured of a big market for each item they produce. The biggest Android models enjoy similar popularity, but the Nexus 6 and OnePlus One are not as well supported.

Winner: iPhone 6 Plus

Price

Nexus 6 Note 4 OnePlus One iPhone 6 Plus
£529 ($649) - 32GB
£569 ($699) - 64GB
£575 ($749) - 32GB £229 ($299) – 16GB
£269 ($349) - 64GB
£619 ($749) - 16GB
£699 ($849) - 64GB
£789 ($949) - 128GB

When it comes to price, the OnePlus One is the least expensive and the iPhone 6 Plus is the most. The iPhone 6 Plus also puts the highest premium on additional storage, with the next tier costing an extra £80 compared to £40 for the Nexus 6 and OnePlus One. The Note 4 has only one storage option, but does come with a microSD card slot which allows even less expensive storage upgrades.

Nexus 6 prices are based on announced US prices and previous UK conversions, including VAT, and should be reasonably accurate.

Winner: OnePlus One

Overall

Nexus 6 Note 4 OnePlus One iPhone 6 Plus
1 win 2 wins 2 wins 4 wins

As it stands, the iPhone 6 Plus seems the best phone in more categories than its peers, taking home victories in battery life, camera, connectivity and accessories. The Note 4 won in hardware and features, while the OnePlus got the nod for dimensions / materials and price. The Nexus 6 took only one win in terms of hardware, which it shared with the Note.

Ultimately though, each of these four phones is a viable choice. The Nexus 6 offers bleeding edge specifications with the latest version of stock Android; the Note 4 is the feature-king with an improved design and good hardware; the OnePlus One has a great in-hand feel and is so inexpensive; the iPhone 6 Plus has an awesome camera and battery life, and enjoys a strong app and accessory ecosystem.

I hope this breakdown has made your choice easier. Let us know which one you’d pick in the comments below, or share your questions. Thanks for checking out the article and have a good week!

The best Android and iPhone controller: Phonejoy!

Tuesday, October 21st, 2014

Phonejoy GamePad Smartphone Controller    Phonejoy GamePad Smartphone Controller

Today we’d like to introduce the latest Kickstarter success story: the Phonejoy gamepad for smartphones and tablets. The Phonejoy provides easy, tactile controls for your favourite games and is uniquely adapted to fit smartphones of all sizes. Patented EasySlider technology allowing the controller to fit your phone and then shrink down for storage or use with tablets and computers.

The Phonejoy is a far cry from touchscreen glass and even earlier smartphone controllers when it comes to speed, accuracy and ease of use. You get a console-quality feel here, with accurate dual analogue thumbsticks, a clicky d-pad and action buttons, and snappy quad triggers. These combine to make for an easier play experience than ever, giving you a competitive advantage against the suckers using inferior controllers.

Phonejoy GamePad Smartphone Controller    Phonejoy GamePad Smartphone Controller

To adapt that classic phrase, the best controller is the one you have with you. The Phonejoy aims to be just that, as it shrinks down to be smaller than your wallet – perfectly pocket-sized.

So – you’ve got your Phonejoy, now what do you play? There are already hundreds of quality games on Android and iOS that support the controller out of the box. You can also use the Phonejoy on Windows and Mac OS X, granting you access to thousands of additional games with gamepad support. Phonejoy maintain a list of compatible games on their site, making it easy to find new games to play with your new controller. These range from classics like Sonic and Grand Theft Auto to new mobile games like Real Racing and FIFA.

Phonejoy GamePad Smartphone Controller    Phonejoy GamePad Smartphone Controller

Interested in picking up a Phonejoy for yourself? Have a look at our product page linked below, and you can place a pre-order or register your interest. The Phonejoy is expected to be in stock in just a couple days’ time, so you won’t have long to wait!

Phonejoy GamePad Smartphone Controller    Phonejoy GamePad Smartphone Controller

Thanks for checking out the Phonejoy. If you’d like to look at some less expensive smartphone controllers, you might want to see the Official Samsung Wireless Smartphone Gamepad for Android or the MOGA Ace Power Gamepad for Lightning iPhones.

Be sure to let us know what you think of the controller in the comments below, or see us on Twitter @mobilefun or on Facebook at Love Your Mobile.

The golden age of Nexus smartphones is over

Monday, October 20th, 2014

Google’s Nexus line has lost its way. After a few beautiful generations of affordable smartphones that offered stock Android on the best hardware, the Nexus series has become a premium proposition, indistinguishable from other models on the market.

The golden age of Nexus smartphones began with the release of the Nexus 4 in late 2012. The phone was a marvel of its time, boasting a beautiful 4.7-inch screen, a fast processor, a slick glass-backed design and even fanciful extras like wireless charging. This was all great, but the killer feature was the price. At $299, the phone was half the price of similarly equipped rivals and sold accordingly. Half a year later, the price dropped further to $199, prompting another wave of interest in the phone.

The Nexus 5 was a strong follow-up when it launched a year later. The new phone included a larger 5-inch screen, more robust design, better camera, LTE support and updated internals for $349. Again, the phone sold well despite its limited supply, providing an excellent introduction to Android for thousands of customers.

Now it’s 2014, and we have the obvious follow-up: the Nexus 6. The phone comes with many familiar upgrades: a larger 6-inch display, faster internals, a better camera and of course a new version of Android. Yet the price is completely inconsistent with past versions. At $649, the phone is one of the most expensive Android smartphones on the market.

The higher price tag coincides with the erosion of the Nexus line’s unique feature: stock Android, the operating system as it comes from Google with minimal changes to its look or feature set. Many phone makers are now turning to a near-stock version of Android for their phones, and the remainder are dialling back their customisations and producing lighter skins.

So if you want a Nexus-style phone – with good hardware, clean software and a killer price – then where should you turn? One good option is the OnePlus One, which was released in June for a very Nexus-like price: $299 for a 16GB model, or $349 for a 64GB version. The phone is quite solid, with a fast processor, a great 5.5-inch display, 3GB of RAM, a good camera and excellent battery life.

If you don’t fancy the OnePlus One, then there are other good Android phones on the market for a reasonable price. The Xperia Z3 Compact has near-stock Android, a smaller 4.6-inch display, a good camera and awesome battery life. The Moto X, the phone upon which the Nexus 6 is based, also comes with stock Android, a slick design and reasonable hardware. The Moto G is a more low-end proposition, but still offers clean Android and reasonable hardware at an absurdly low price.

While alternatives exist, it’s still disappointing that Google have taken the Nexus line in this direction. The phone is no longer an easy recommendation for Android newcomers; instead it returns to being in the domain of Android enthusiasts only.

It’s hard to say what the change will mean for the future of the Nexus line. It’s possible that Google will hear the feedback of its fans and lower sales numbers, and return the line to its roots with a lower price point next time. But then again, it’s also possible that Google decide to break off the line entirely. We’ve heard rumours for some time that Google want to kill off the brand; perhaps this is their way of doing so with a bang.

Ultimately,  it’s a sad decline and potentially an ignoble end to a brand that got me – and so many others – interested in Android. Goodbye, Nexus – it was good knowing you.

Here’s why you shouldn’t buy the iPad Mini 3

Monday, October 20th, 2014

Last week Apple announced their latest tablets: the iPad Air 2 and the iPad Mini 3. Both tablets are on pre-order now for £80 more than their predecessors, but only one is worth buying. Here’s why.

The Air 2 is something of a technical triumph for Apple, incorporating a faster processor, Touch ID sensor and improved camera in a dramatically thinner frame. Apple spent the bulk of their presentation over the Air 2, and it makes sense – the tablet is a significant advancement over the original Air, and is now probably the most desirable tablet in the world.

Conversely, the iPad Mini 3 was touched upon with uncharacteristic haste. That’s because there simply aren’t any real substantive changes between the Mini 3 and the Mini 2. In fact, the list of useful changes is precisely two items long: the tablet now includes the Touch ID fingerprint sensor and is available in gold. That’s it – no thinner chassis, no upgraded processor, and no improved camera.

If you had a choice between the two tablets at the same price, then you’d pick the Mini 3 – why not? But instead, Apple are selling this tablet for an £80 premium, which makes no sense at all.

So my advice to you is this: if you want a small Apple tablet, pick up the Mini 2 while you still can, and avoid the Mini 3 unless you simply must own a tablet rendered in champagne gold. At £239 the Mini 2 is simply the far better deal.

n.b. If you have an iPhone 6 Plus, you may want to steer clear of the Mini line altogether. The increased screen size of the newer iPhone models means you’ll get much less of a boost in screen real estate when moving from an iPhone to an iPad Mini than owners of previous iPhones did. Already many 6 Plus owners are leaving their iPad Minis at home because they already feel  they have a big enough screen in their pocket.