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Archive for the ‘Mobile Phones’ Category

4.7″ iPhone 6 and 5.5″ iPhone 6 Plus announced: bigger, faster, smarter

Tuesday, September 9th, 2014

Today Apple unveiled their new iPhones, ending months of rumours and speculation. As expected, two models debuted, both far larger than their predecessors. One model measures 4.7 inches, while the other spans a phablet-sized 5.5 inches. The new iPhones include a faster processor, contactless NFC payments, an improved camera and many other upgrades. Let’s take a closer look at what was announced.

Design

The most notable difference between the iPhone 5S and the iPhone 6 is undoubtedly that of size. The display of the iPhone 5S measured just four inches across the diagonal, but the iPhone 6 is available with a 4.7-inch or 5.5-inch screen. That’s a massive jump for Apple, who just two years ago were shipping a flagship phone with a 3.5-inch screen.

Apple are including a one-handed mode to alleviate some of the ergonomic downsides of these larger displays. The larger height and width of the iPhone has also allowed Apple to shrink the thickness of the iPhone. It’s now 6.9mm for the iPhone 6 and 7.1mm for the iPhone 6 Plus, while maintaining the same weight. The larger size is cleverly considered by Apple, who have added a ‘reachability’ gesture which moves the screen down so you can reach the top buttons.

Size isn’t the only difference between the iPhone 6 and iPhone 5. The new phones also include a noticeably thicker border between the caps on top and bottom and the main rear panel. These are intended to improve reception, giving signals a place to escape the metal body. Other details include a lock button on the right hand side instead of the top, a circular flash and a camera lens that protrudes from the chassis.

Specifications

One of the biggest new features of the iPhone 6 is contactless payments through a scheme called ApplePay. Like some bank cards in the UK, the NFC chip built into the phone allow you to pay for purchase in stores with a tap onto a point-of-sale terminal. The feature is safeguarded through the TouchID fingerprint sensor and a Secure Element. Apple have partnered with Visa, MasterCard and American Express for contactless payments, which appears in a upgraded Passbook iOS app.

The iPhone 6 will include a higher resolution 1334 x 750 pixel IPS display, which as mentioned earlier measures 4.7 inches. The iPhone 6 Plus, on the other hand, has a 1920 x 1080p screen at 5.5 inches. Inside either phone, you’ll find a new Apple A8 64-bit processor, 1 GB of RAM and at least 16GB of internal storage (up to 128GB). The whole thing is powered with a 1810mAh battery – small by Android standards, but enough for Apple to claim the same battery life as ever.

There’s an upgraded 8-megapixel camera on the rear, and a 2-megapixel camera up front for all your selfie needs. The iPhone 6 Plus also boasts optical image stabilisation, which allow the camera to operate at slower shutter speeds without being affected by shaking.

Features

One of the biggest new features of the iPhone 6 is its contactless payments system, called Apple Pay. Like some bank cards in the UK, the NFC chip built into the phone allow you to pay for purchase in stores with a tap onto a point-of-sale terminal. The feature is safeguarded through the TouchID fingerprint sensor. Apple have partnered with Visa, MasterCard and American Express for contactless payments, which appears in a upgraded Passbook iOS app.

The iPhone 6 launches with iOS 8, with includes a lot of new features that bridge the feature gap between iOS and Android. Messages now includes multimedia content, third-party keyboards are now possible, and Apple have built a fitness app called Health which interfaces with iPhone sensors and the iWatch. More Android-like features include improved notifications (which can now be actioned directly from their dropdown menu or the lock screen) and widgets (in the notification center).

Accessories

The iPhone has always enjoyed a wide range of third-party accessories, and the iPhone 6 is no different. We’ve already begun to add both iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus accessories to our virtual shelves, and we’ll add dozens if not hundreds of additional accessories over the next few weeks. These range from cases and covers to chargers, in-car accessories like car chargers and car holders, battery packs, desk stands and screen protectors.

Most people will pick up at least one iPhone 6 cover for their new phone, and we’ll be well covered here. The iPhone 6 cases section of our shop already includes nearly 100 items, and will only grow from there. There are slightly fewer iPhone 6 Plus cases available, but these too will grow in number. Expect cases from all the biggest names, including OtterBox, LifeProof, Spigen, Moshi, Zenus, Belkin and many more.

UK price and release date

The iPhone 6 will go on pre-order from Friday, and the full launch will be on September 19th. The iPhone remains a premium handset, and as such will command a full price point when purchased sim-free. The 4.7-inch model comes in at £539, while the 5.5-inch model is slightly more expensive at £619. Of course, the iPhone 6 will also been available on contract.

Conclusion

So – the iPhone 6 has finally been announced! I’m excited to see the public and critical reception to the new phone, so please leave me your comments and impressions below. You can also reach us on Twitter @mobilefun or on Facebook at Love Your Mobile.

5 smartphones worth upgrading for

Tuesday, September 9th, 2014

Last month, I advised that you wait until September to pick up a new phone as so many new models were being announced. Now September has arrived, so I’m going to show you five of the most promising new smartphones. All of these phones will go on sale in the coming weeks, so if your contract is up or you’re looking to buy a new smartphone sim-free, these are the ones to look out for.

5. Sony Xperia Z3 Compact

What it is: A smaller version of Sony’s flagship Z3 smartphone.

Why it’s worth it: The Z3 Compact is a calculated reaction to the trend of ever-larger flagship phones. Unlike most ‘mini’ phones, the Z3 Compact is just as powerful as its full-size brother, offering top-notch internals and an excellent camera. The body looks and feels high-end too, with a gorgeous squared off glass look that’s also waterproof. If you want a reasonably-sized phone without settling for 2012-era specifications, the Z3 Compact is a good shout.

Read more about the Sony Xperia Z3 Compact or see Xperia Z3 Compact accessories.

4. Nokia Lumia 830

What it is: Microsoft’s self-described affordable flagship Windows Phone.

Why it’s worth it: High-end Nokia Lumia phones come with great PureView cameras, beautiful bodies and the slick Windows Phone OS. The Lumia 830 is Microsoft’s attempt to bring these features down to the middle range of the market, and includes a 10-megapixel PureView OIS camera, wireless charging and a svelte premium body wrought from polycarbonate and aluminium. If you’d like an introduction or an update to the world of Windows Phone, the 830 is just the ticket.

Read more about the Nokia Lumia 830 or see Lumia 830 accessories.

3. Samsung Galaxy Alpha

What it is: Samsung’s best looking phone, designed to compete with the iPhone 6.

Why it’s worth it: Samsung have made plasticky phones for years, but that’s slowly beginning to change. The Galaxy Alpha is their first attempt at a new design language, and comes clad with a chamfered aluminium frame that measures just 6.7mm thick. It looks a little like an iPhone, and comes with specs to match the upcoming iPhone 6. That includes a 4.7-inch 720p display, 32 GB non-removable storage and a 12-megapixel camera.

Read more about the Samsung Galaxy Alpha or see Galaxy Alpha accessories.

2. iPhone 6

What it is: The next iPhone, aka the best selling phone worldwide in Q4 2014.

Why it’s worth it: The iPhone 6 is the first properly large iPhone. Two years ago Apple first made the jump to four inches, and now they’re going all the way up to 4.7… and later, 5.5 inches. That means more screen real estate, more readable text and bigger movies and games. The iPhone 6 also includes NFC for the first time – for contactless payments – and the latest and greatest Apple A8 processor.

Read more about the Apple iPhone 6 or see iPhone 6 accessories or iPhone 6 Plus accessories.

1. Motorola Moto X

The original Moto X was a critical darling, with a highly customisable and classy design and clever software features that people actually used… but it lost the spec war, and sales didn’t meet expectations because of that. Now the second-generation Moto X is here, and now it’s firing on all cylinders. The new X has a new metal frame that looks great (and it’s still fully customisable, even including wood and leather backs). It’s got those great features (voice controls and battery saving over clean Android. Maybe most importantly, it’s got leading specs as well: a 5.2-inch 1080p screen, latest Snapdragon 801 processor and good 13-megapixel camera. The Verge have already called it the best Android smartphone, and from what I’ve seen I’m inclined to agree.

Read more about the Motorola Moto X or see Moto X (second gen) accessories.

Conclusion

Of course, there are probably more than five smartphones that are worth considering. The Samsung Galaxy Note 4, which will probably sell millions of units, is a great choice for anyone that really wants a big screen or stylus support. The One M8 remains a paragon of industrial design several months after its release. The Sharp Aquous Crystal won’t see a UK release date, but does look futuristic and gorgeous. And of course, the second-generation Motorola Moto G looks set to be a big success with an incredible amount of performance and features for the price… but this is a top 5, not a top 10 or a top 20.

What do you think of the selections? Got any questions? Let me know in the comments below, or speak to us on Twitter @mobilefun!

LG announce L Fino and L Bello mid-range phones

Thursday, August 21st, 2014

This week LG added a couple new mid-range phones to their arsenal, the L Fino and the L Bello. The phones, which are set to be announced formally at IFA 2014 in Berlin, are intended as “first smartphones” for teenagers or those in emerging markets. They include some features which have proved popular on the LG G3, such as rear-mounted buttons and minimal front bezels. Some software elements have also made it over, most notably the “Knock Code” feature that allows you to unlock the phone by tapping your pattern on the screen, forgoing the need to tap the rear-mounted buttons to wake the phone.

In terms of specifications, both phones are pretty reasonable. The Fino is the smaller and less powerful of the two, with a 4.5-inch 480×800 display, 1.2GHz quad-core processor and 4 GB of internal storage. The Bello is marginally better equipped, with a 5-inch 480×854 screen, 1.3GHz quad-core processor and 8 GB of internal storage. Both phones share 1 GB of RAM, 8-megapixel rear-facing cameras, 3G connectivity and Android 4.4.2 on board.

The phones look to be well-supported with accessories as well. QuickCircle cases, like those for the LG G3, will be available. If you’re not familiar with them, these are flip cases with a circular window cut into the front cover. The window allows you to touch and control the screen beneath, as well as let you read status and notifications without needing to open the cover. You can see the time, answer or reject calls, and even run QuickCircle-specific games in the window. We’ll have more details on both LG L Fino and LG L Bello accessories and their availability in the days to come.

What do you think of the LG L Fino and L Bello? Let us know in the comments below. You can also reach us on Twitter @mobilefun. Thanks for checking out the article and have a good weekend!

Pro Tip: Don’t buy a phone or smartwatch until September

Wednesday, August 20th, 2014

The beginning of September is looking like a massively busy period, as the IFA trade show kicks off and almost every major mobile company has an event planned. Scores of smartphones and smartwatches will be announced here, and most will start shipping later in the month.

For this reason, right now is the worst possible time to buy a phone or smartwatch–wait until these releases are out of the way, and then reap the benefits of lower prices or newer devices on the market in late September and October.

Don’t believe me? Just have a look at what’s coming in September:

Smartphones*

Samsung are releasing the Galaxy Alpha and the Galaxy Note 4. Motorola are releasing the Moto X+1 and Moto G2. Sony are releasing the Xperia Z3, Z3 Compact and Z3 Tablet Compact. Nokia are releasing the Nokia Lumia 530, 730 and 830. HTC are releasing the One M8 with Windows and the J Butterfly. Chinese companies Meizu and Huawei are releasing the MX4 and Ascend Mate 7, respectively. Sharp are releasing the Aquous Crystal. Most importantly of all, Apple are releasing at least one new iPhone, the iPhone 6.

Smartwatches

September looks equally busy for smartwatches. Motorola are the biggest confirmed players here, with the eagerly anticipated Moto 360 set to launch. ASUS and LG have also teased new smartwatches for IFA, while Sony are rumoured to also be showing a watch at the event. Apple are the wildcard here–it’s not known if they’ll announce the iWatch at their September 9th event, but if they do then it’ll be massive.

Press Events

Here’s a breakdown of all announced or heavily rumoured events:

September 2nd

Meizu (MX4)

September 3rd

Samsung (Galaxy Note 4)
Sony (Xperia Z3, Z3 Compact, Z3 Tablet Compact, SmartWatch 3)
ASUS (smartwatch)

September 4th

Motorola (Moto X+1, G2, 360)
Nokia (Lumia 730, 830)
Huawei (Ascend Mate 7)

September 9th

Apple (iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Air)

Signing off

September is going to be an awesome time for mobile fans, and there’s only one way to ruin it: by purchasing a smartphone or smartwatch just before its successor is announced. Wait if you can, and you’ll find cheaper smartphones or newer models in a matter of weeks. My recommendation? iPhone 6 or Galaxy Note 4. But don’t decide now – there will be a lot of excellent choices in the weeks to come!

*Not all of these phones will see European releases – the One M8 with Windows and Aquous Crystal have been announced for US markets. The J Butterfly and Aquous Crystal are launching in Japan. The MX4 and Ascend Mate 7 will launch in China. Still, it’s possible to import these phones.

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.

Index of Mobile Phones