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Archive for the ‘Android’ Category

SIM-free Samsung Galaxy Alpha coming soon to Mobile Fun

Thursday, August 14th, 2014

The Galaxy Alpha is the latest Samsung handset, and the very first to use their new metal design language. We’ll have the handset in stock, sim-free and unlocked, very soon. In the meantime, let’s take a closer look at the next big thing from Samsung.

Design

SIM Free Samsung Galaxy Alpha 32GB - Black    SIM Free Samsung Galaxy Alpha 32GB - White

The Galaxy Alpha sports an interesting look, with a chamfered metal frame with Samsung’s typical plastic front and back. The back cover feels similar to the Galaxy S5, with that dimpled look. The overall look is somewhere between the Galaxy S5 and the iPhone 5S, and it’s a huge improvement over the purely plastic designs we’ve seen from Samsung in the past.

The phone is incredibly skinny too, measuring just 6.7mm – about a millimetre thinner than the iPhone 5S – and weighs about the same, despite a much larger 4.7-inch 720p display.

The phone comes in four colour variations: dazzling white, charcoal black, sleek silver and frosted gold and scuba blue. Knowing Samsung, we’ll see additional colours if the phone proves a success.

Hardware

SIM Free Samsung Galaxy Alpha 32GB - Gold    SIM Free Samsung Galaxy Alpha 32GB - Blue

The Samsung Galaxy Alpha with a nice hardware specification; not quite at the top of the pile like the Galaxy S5, but still perfectly respectable for a mid to high-end device.

The heart of the phone is its Exynos 5430 octa-core processor, which is the first mobile SoC built on a 20nm process. The CPU uses around 25% less power than before, while also including a new audio co-processor. The new CPU is powerful too, scoring higher marks than the Galaxy S5 or HTC One M8 in the AnTuTu benchmark.

The CPU is backed with 2 GB of RAM and 32 GB of internal storage, although there’s no microSD card slot to add more. A 12-megapixel rear camera and 2.1-megapixel front-facer are also included. Everything runs off a 1860mAh battery, thanks to the more efficient CPU.

Software

The Galaxy Alpha will come with the latest version of Android to be fully released, which is 4.4 KitKat. An upgrade to Android 4.5 L seems a given, judging by Samsung’s past record in upgrading their mid-range and high-end handsets.

The phone will run the same TouchWiz UI as the Galaxy S5, with a number of nifty features added on top of the stock Android experience. You’ll get the ability to run two apps side-by-side, a comprehensive camera app loaded with modes and more Samsung apps than you can shake a stick at. The built-in fingerprint sensor is another nice feature, allowing you to sign into your phone with a (careful) touch of your finger.

It’s a strong selection, and while some might prefer a cleaner experience, if you’re looking for features then you can’t do much better than Samsung’s latest.

Summary

The Galaxy Alpha looks to be a surprisingly capable phone, and one of the best looking handsets that Samsung have ever released.

Links

Signing off

Thanks for checking out the article and the phone! Be sure to let us know if you’re going to pick up the Galaxy Alpha, or tell us why not! You can reach us in the comments below, or on Twitter @mobilefun.

Take control of your smartphone games with these handy joysticks

Wednesday, August 13th, 2014

Smartphone Joystick    Smartphone Joystick

Mobile phones and tablets have brought a new gaming revolution, with the keyboard and controller paradigms of yesteryear playing second fiddle to touch screens and accelerometers on these gadgets. Yet sometimes touch controls just aren’t precise enough, and to really excel you need to go back to these earlier input methods. It’s possible to get a full-blown controller and hook it up to your phone or tablet, but sometimes that’s just not necessary.

Instead, just grab one or two of these tiny joysticks and attach them directly to the screen with their suction cup. Once attached, moving the joystick will produce an effect on the screen below, letting you play touch-screen games with ease. You’ll be able to control your game much more cleanly, making it easier to score headshots or juke past defenders. You’ll get tactile feedback, and the same easy controls that you’d find on retro arcade cabinets to modern console controllers… and all without batteries, pairing, setup or hassle. Just stick and play. And when you want to play a different game or stop entirely, it’s simple to unstick the suction cups and re-attach when you want to play again.

Smartphone Joystick    Smartphone Joystick

The Smartphone Joystick is made from milled aluminium, granting a perfect feel and long-lasting durability. Each joystick is tiny too, so you can easily keep a couple in your pocket or in your bag. The joysticks are sold in packs of one or two, and even with two you’ll be paying the fraction of the cost of a traditional mobile phone controller. One will allow you to play games designed around a single thumb stick, while two will let you play shooters and other dual-stick games.

The smartphone joysticks provide an easy middle ground between touch screen controls and a traditional console-style game controller. For more information on these helpful joysticks, please visit the product pages linked below:

Thanks for checking out the article and be sure to let us know what you think of this handy gadget in the comments below!

Samsung Galaxy Alpha announced: the first metal Samsung phone

Wednesday, August 13th, 2014

Samsung announced the Galaxy Alpha today, their first phone to use their new metal design language. The phone looks like a cross between the iPhone 5 and the Samsung Galaxy S5, with a large screen, 6.7mm thick chamfered metal frame and dimpled plastic removable back.

It’s pretty impressive inside as well. There’s a 4.7″ display, a 12-megapixel camera, 1860mAh battery and a quad or octa-core Samsung Exynos processor. The phone has a few downsides compared to the more expensive Galaxy S5 flagship though, including no removable storage (although 32 GB of internal space is provided standard), no waterproofing and a 720p screen.

For the most part though, the Galaxy Alpha looks like a better phone than the S5. While the metal used here doesn’t make for as good a design as the iPhone 5S or the HTC One M8. Still, it’s a step in the right direction for Samsung, who have pledged to use new and higher quality materials in a drive to turn around their flagging sales figures in the past few months.

We’ll have a full range of cases and covers for the Galaxy Alpha. It’ll be important to prevent scratches on that new metal section, so we forsee small and tight-fitting covers to be a popular item. In addition to cases, we’ll also try to provide a good level of accessories for the new Galaxy Alpha phone.

The sim-free Galaxy Alpha is available for pre-order at Mobile Fun now, with an expected release date of September and a price of £499.

We’ll announce cases and other accessories for the device as we add them to our store, so stay tuned to the Mobile Fun blog. You can hear about new articles and accessories via our Twitter (@mobilefun) or Facebook (Love Your Mobile). Thanks for checking out the blog and be sure to let us know what you think in the comments below!

Have a look at this perfectly styled Galaxy S5 battery case

Tuesday, August 12th, 2014

PowerSkin Ultra-Thin Samsung Galaxy S5 Extended Battery Case - Black

Want an awesome case for your Galaxy S5? Take a look at the PowerSkin, an ultra-thin extended battery case. It protects your phone, gives you a day more battery life, and fits the style of the Galaxy S5 perfectly.

The PowerSkin includes a 2,200 mAh battery, tucked into the back of the case. That means you get 170% battery life – good for 36 hours of talking, 16 hours of web browsing or 18 hours of video playback. It’s a big boost for the Galaxy S5, and it’s an impressive feat given just how slim this extended battery case is. The case is easy to use as well, with handy LED indicators to show how much charge remains.

This case matches the Galaxy S5 perfectly too. The colours have been Pantone matched to the original S5 colours, so you’ll find that it’s exactly the same style as the factory-made rear cover. The dimpled texture from the Galaxy S5 also makes an appearance, resulting in a pretty convincing facsimile.

The PowerSkin is available in white and black, and they will be coming soon to Mobile Fun. For more information or to place your pre-order, please visit the product pages linked below:

PowerSkin Ultra-Thin Samsung Galaxy S5 Extended Battery Case - White

Glove app review: how to find the best mobile network

Friday, August 8th, 2014

It’s always super annoying to deal with a crappy mobile signal – not least because it’s never clear what the exact issue is. Is your phone just bad? Maybe you’re on the wrong network? It’s maddening, and with the long commitments inherent in mobile contracts, you don’t have the luxury to switch carriers willy-nilly until you find one that suits you.

Glove is an app that attempts to solve this problem, allowing you to find the best mobile carrier in the places you actually use your phone. Here’s how it works.

Finding a carrier that fits like a glove

For three days, the Glove app runs in the background of your phone, using GPS to note down your location. Ideally, during these days you’ll be at home, be at work, and be anywhere else that you spend a decent amount of time. It compares your current signal strength with crowd-sourced results from other mobile carriers in the same area.

After three days, it presents you with a selection of carriers; ideally these recommendations will provide you with the best possible signal strength and data speeds in your area. The app also shows you deals for each carrier to give you an idea of what’s available should you decide to switch.

My experience using the app

I ran Glove for three days, encompassing a pretty standard pattern for me – working at home, traveling to the Mobile Fun offices, and spending time in town. Once the three days are up, I got an excited notification… stating that the results would be coming soon.

A few minutes later, and the results were actually available. O2 (including giffgaff) were rated as the best (score 4.33/5), followed by EE (3.29), Vodafone (3.15) and my current carrier Three (1.68). I’ve had some issues with signal strength with Three, particularly indoors, compared to O2, so the ratings seem at least somewhat realistic.

The offers promised by the app were only available for O2, and required that someone actually call you up and give them to you (which I didn’t acquiesce to). There was also an option to ‘see plans’ for each carrier, but these merely took me to each carrier’s generic web store, without any specific recommendations. It was a bit disappointing after running the app for three days; I had expected something more personalised at this latter step.

Of course, it’s hard to tell how accurate the final results actually are. The cynical side of me suspects that the app will just refer you to the carrier that it gets the best bonuses from; ultimately this is a free app without ads so these referrals are the only way the developers will get paid. Hopefully though, the value of providing an accurate (and ethical) service will eclipse that of short-term money-making for the company.

Wrap-up

Ultimately, I’ve got mixed impressions of the Glove app. While the app is easy to use and seems to produce an accurate picture of carrier signal strength, there are still only four carriers it can compare between, none of which you’re likely to have overlooked.

I would have also liked to see a better final step. It would have been brilliant to have it include tracking of calls made, texts sent and data used in order to produce a few recommended contract or pay-as-you-go plans on the carriers it suggested. Instead, you’re just left at a carrier’s generic store page, where there’s still an almost overwhelming amount of choice.

Regardless, considering the app is free and requires no interaction, it’s hard to really knock it. You may as well run it on your phone, and see what carrier recommendations it produces – you may just find you get a recommendation that you didn’t expect.

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