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Archive for the ‘Android’ Category

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.

Top 5 Galaxy Note 4 accessories – October 2014

Monday, October 20th, 2014

Today we’re going to have a look at some of the best accessories available for Samsung’s latest release, the Galaxy Note 4. Our list will contain protective items – cases, screen protectors – and more utilitarian bits and pieces too. Let’s get started, eh?

5. Official Samsung Galaxy Note 4 Extra Battery Kit

 

Official Samsung Galaxy Note 4 Extra Battery KitOfficial Samsung Galaxy Note 4 Extra Battery Kit

The Galaxy Note 4 has quite reasonable battery life already, but having easy access to an extra day’s supply is always handy. This battery kit provides both a spare battery and a separate charger, allowing you to put both batteries on charge overnight so you’ll wake up with twice the power available. The charger is barely bigger than the battery itself, so it’s no problem to take it with you when you’re travelling either.

4. Official Samsung MHL 2.0 HDMI Adapter

Samsung Galaxy S4 / Note 3 MHL 2.0 HDTV HDMI Adapter    Samsung Galaxy S4 MHL HDTV Adapter - ET-H10FAUWEGWW

If you want to watch a video on your phone, why not watch it on the biggest screen available? This handy adapter connects your phone to a TV, monitor or projector, mirroring your display on the larger screen. That’s brilliant for watching YouTube clips or entire TV episodes, playing games and just browsing the web. The adapter provides both power and a video link, so you’re able to charge your phone at the same time.

3. 64GB Samsung MicroSD Card Class 10 UHS-1

Samsung 64GB UHS-1 Grade 1 MicroSDXC Pro - Class 10Samsung 64GB UHS-1 Grade 1 MicroSDXC Pro - Class 10

This microSD card provides 64 extra gigabytes of storage space for your phone – more room for songs, videos, photos, apps and anything else you might want to keep on your phone. This storage is fast too, with rapid transfer speeds thanks to the card’s Class 10 UHS-1 rating.

2. MFX Tempered Glass Screen Protector

MFX Samsung Galaxy Note 4 Tempered Glass Screen ProtectorMFX Samsung Galaxy Note 4 Tempered Glass Screen Protector

This screen protector for the Note 4 is made of tempered glass, which provides much better protection than a traditional plastic screen protector. The ultra-thin glass is coated with an anti-shatter film to keep it in good condition for longer. This screen protector is also easier to apply than a plastic version, with no possibility for air bubbles thanks to the rigid material.

1. Spigen Neo Hybrid Case – Satin Silver, Champagne Gold, Electric Blue, Electric Red, Metal Slate

 

Spigen Neo Hybrid Samsung Galaxy Note 4 Case - Satin SilverSpigen Neo Hybrid Samsung Galaxy Note 4 Case - Electric Blue

This attractive case uses a combination of TPU and polycarbonate to provide a good combination of protection and durability. The TPU back cover will protect the phone’s internals from damage and the back from scratches, adding rigidity to the case. The polycarbonate frame absorbs the force of shocks and falls, preventing the phone from breaking its screen or getting scratched up. The case is quite slim too, and comes in a couple of colour options that look brilliant with the Note 4. That’s why this case is our number 1 accessory pick.

Conclusion

So there we have it – five accessory recommendations for the Note 4. If you have any questions or comments about Note 4 accessories, I’d welcome them in the comments below. You can also reach us on Twitter @mobilefun or on Facebook at Love Your Mobile. Thanks for checking out the article and have a good weekend!

KidFit: a wireless fitness tracking wristband for children

Friday, October 17th, 2014

Fitness trackers have become increasingly popular over the last few years, so it’s not a surprise to see a fitness tracker specialised towards tracking the activity levels of children. The KidFit Fitness Tracking Wristband is just that, offering kid-specific fitness tracking through a small, durable wristband.

 

The KidFit connects to iPhone or Android phone over Bluetooth, and works with devices running iOS 7 (or later) and Android 4.3 (or later) – which includes most phones made in the last couple of years. You just install the free KifFit app, wirelessly sync the wristband, and away you go.

KidFit Childrens Wireless Fitness Tracking Wristband - Black    KidFit Childrens Wireless Fitness Tracking Wristband - Black

You can set goals and tasks for your child, encouraging them to stay active during the day and to sleep well at night. There’s an easy-to-understand scoring system, which gives marks out of 100 to judge how well they’re doing at accomplishing these goals. You’ll also see direct information on how many steps they’ve taken, miles they’ve walked, and hours they’ve slept. Four LED indicators on the wristband itself show you when the wristband is tracking sleep or activity, syncing or charging.

KidFit Childrens Wireless Fitness Tracking Wristband - Black   KidFit Childrens Wireless Fitness Tracking Wristband - Black

Anything produced for kids needs to be robust, and happily the KidFit is just that. The durable snap-on design is rated X3 for water and dust resistance, ensuring that it can withstand rain showers or dunks in the sink. The band is one-size-fits-all, so all you need to do is pick a colour that your child will enjoy. There are four available:

KidFit Childrens Wireless Fitness Tracking Wristband - Black    KidFit Childrens Wireless Fitness Tracking Wristband - Black

Be sure to let us know what you think of the KidFit in the comments below! We’re happy to answer your questions there too. If you prefer, you can talk to us on Twitter @mobilefun or on Facebook at Love Your Mobile.

Index of Android