Archive for the ‘Product Reviews’ Category

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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Samsung Galaxy S5 review: hands-on

Monday, July 14th, 2014

Pros:

  • Bright and beautiful AMOLED screen
  • Less plastic, more premium than previous Galaxy devices

Cons:

  • Gimmicky hardware additions
  • TouchWiz modifications may not be to everyone’s taste

The Samsung Galaxy S5 is the latest in Samsung’s line of flagship Android phones, refining rather than redefining the series.

Running Android Kitkat (4.4.2) out of the box and with the requisite TouchWiz additions (now loved and hated by Samsung fans in equal measure), alongside a 2.5ghz Quad Core Processor, interaction with the S5 feels silky smooth.

Its 5.1” 1080P AMOLED Screen gives a striking first impression and the relatively thin bezels prevent it from edging too close to ‘phablet’ territory also keeping it fractionally smaller than the Sony Xperia Z and HTC One (M8), its two closest competitors. The fantastic screen also perfectly showcases the new 16MP Camera which is capable of filming at 4K.

The review model is ‘Pearl White’ but the S5 is also available in Black, Blue and Gold (not quite the champagne gold which seems to be ‘in’ now, but close) and has a ‘dimpled’ finish making it feel much less plasticy than previous Galaxy models.

One of the more interesting additions to this year’s model is a heart-rate monitor located on the back of the device, just below the camera lens. It’s closely integrated with Samsung’s S Health App but its necessity is questionable.

Further, and in a clear attempt to ape the iPhone 5 and HTC One Max whilst adding another USP, the S5 includes a fingerprint scanner – ideal for upping security on the device although its reliability is something that requires a longer term test. So far the consensus is that this is not as accurate and useful as the one featured on the iPhone 5S.

Following the trend set by the Sony Xperia Z, The S5 is both water and dust resistant. Although not to quite the same extent, it will easily survive a drop in the sink or on the beach.

In conclusion, the Galaxy S5 is a worthy successor to the S4, improving significantly enough to make the upgrade worthwhile whilst also performing favourably when compared to close competitors (the Sony Xperia Z2 and HTC One (M8)). Price-wise it does tend to be the cheaper of the 3 flagships so certainly a strong contender for your hard-earned cash.

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Top 3 HTC One covers

Thursday, May 23rd, 2013

If you’re looking for a HTC One case and aren’t quite sure what you want then read on. I picked out my favourite three HTC One covers and had a play around with them. All three give access to the phone’s ports and features such as the camera, volume controls and charging port so they don’t sacrifice functionality for beauty.

Note: These are the ones that  I personally like but we have tens more on our virtual shelves so please do browse our entire catalogue before you make up your mind.

3. Belkin Micra Fine Ultra Thin Case for HTC One

Belkin Micra Fine Ultra Thin Case for HTC One

The Belkin Micra Fine case in ‘sorbet steel’ is a great little HTC cover. It’s stylish and thin and, although it is a tough polycarbonate snap-on case, it feels soft to the touch.

The Belkin really is ultra thin so it doesn’t add any bulk to the handset. Slim and lightweight, it provides great protection against scratches and light bumps or knocks nonetheless. The Belkin Micra Fine cover also comes in a ‘clear steel‘ colour variant.

Belkin Micra Fine Ultra Thin Case for HTC One back

You can see from the image above that the Belkin changes colour slightly when fitted on the phone. It looks much better on then off which is what we’d want and  it has an almost metallic look.

There is only one thing that I dislike about the Micra Fine and that is the fact that it changes the design of the HTC One. While it is a beautiful cover I can’ t help but feel the HTC One is even prettier.

2. Trident Aegis Case for HTC One

Trident Aegis Case for HTC One back vertical

I fell in love with the Trident Aegis case. I know what you’re thinking – I just said that I don’t want a case that alters the design of the HTC One and now I’m covering the phone up in green. Well, here’s why:

I’m not sure why but I might just like the design of this case more than that of the HTC One. The Aegis comes in two parts: a soft shell that goes over your device followed by a hard shell for added protection. But that’s not all; included in the pack you’ll also find a screen protector and a cleaning cloth.

If you’re looking for 360° protection then go for a Trident or an Otterbox cover. Otterbox makes notoriously good cases renowned for the amazing protection they offer but their HTC One Commuter Series and Defender Series cases didn’t make the top three as I was looking for something with a bit of colour.

Trident Aegis Case for HTC One pack contents

I really like how solid it feels and although this case adds quite a bit of bulk it makes sure you know that there’s a reason for it. Rugged and strong, the Aegis is the odd one out in this list. Think of it as the exception.  If I were to go on a trip or if I’d generally spend more time outdoors, camping or horse riding, this would be my number one choice. Seeing as I don’t, I have chosen something more suitable for my lifestyle.

1. Crystal Clear Case for HTC One

Cyrstal Clear Case for HTC One back

The Crystal Clear case is great because it covers the back and sides of the HTC One while at the same time allowing users to show-off their handset. Fully transparent, this case looks even better on the silver version of the HTC One. It fits the HTC One perfectly and fitting it is as simple as snapping it on. I recommend caution when taking it off; stay calm, be gentle  and you should be able to remove it without causing any damage.

Cyrstal Clear Case for HTC One front view

This HTC One cover is so low-profile you’ll forget it’s on in a few days – and that’s exactly what I was looking for: subtle protection. It protects the One from scratches and bumps or drops and it’s almost imperceptible to the touch and the eye.

Conclusion

Yes, my favourite HTC One case is a simple, transparent case – but why? I like the Crystal Clear case as it protects the smartphone’s back and sides without interfering with its design; this cover is almost invisible. The HTC One has such a beautiful design, I don’t want to spoil it.  Don’t agree? Have a look at the HTC One promotional video below and think again. It’s probably the best looking phone on the market at the moment.

 

 

If you’re looking for more photos of the three cases reviewed here please take a look at the gallery below.

 

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Samsung Galaxy S III Official Flip Cover Review

Friday, June 8th, 2012

In this review, we’re looking at one of the first genuine Samsung cases for the Galaxy S3:The Flip Cover in Chrome Blue.

A SEAMLESS REPLACEMENT REAR COVER

We’ll start out by installing the Flip Cover. Unlike most covers and cases on the market, the Flip Cover actually replaces the back cover that comes with the Samsung Galaxy S3. You just pop off the back cover, and clip in the Flip Cover in its place. This looks and feels very nice – it’s a seamless, natural replacement that works well no matter the colour combination.

There are a couple of benefits to this approach. The first is that the phone retains its ultra svelte chassis – as you’re replacing material rather than adding to it, the phone isn’t noticeably thicker than with the default cover.

The back cover found on the Flip also seems to be better than the default – it seems to be more durable, and has noticeably less flex. This should mean that it will more easily resist damage to the rear of the phone, protecting the Samsung Galaxy S3 if dropped or scratched.

Unfortunately, the back cover isn’t significantly more grippy than the default rear cover, meaning the S3 is still a bit slick to the touch. This wasn’t an issue for me, but it is worth mentioning if you’re prone to losing your grasp on your phone – in this case a thicker and more grippy case might be a better choice, e.g. the Mesh Vent case.

THE FLIP COVER

So now we move onto the core of this particular accessory: the Flip Cover itself. This vertically mounted cover is very thin, providing excellent screen protection; again without much bulk at all. The synthetic materials used provide a bit of impact dampening, but the main benefit is protecting the screen from scratches.

When you’re using the phone, you can flip the cover onto the back of the phone. This gives you full access to the screen, without even the corner coverage that you’d get with a traditional bumper case.

You also have the option of keeping the flip cover over the screen while you’re on a call, as there are cutouts in place to allow you to use the microphone and speaker as normal. If you’re using the phone in a desk stand or car holder, then you can simply flip the cover to the rear (shown here) – all of the official accessories include more than enough space for the phone and the flip cover in this way.

There are also cutouts for the camera, LED and speaker on the rear and the headphone and micro USB sockets on the bottom of the Galaxy S III’s frame.

A FITTING CASE

The Flip Cover for the Galaxy S III is a well designed case that should be at the top of your list. If you’re looking for a case that provides a seamless and natural look then the Flip Cover is a brilliant choice.

For more information on the Flip Cover, please visit the product page linked below or ask us a question via the comments section below, Facebook, Twitter or Google+. Thanks for reading.

BookBook for LookLook

Wednesday, March 14th, 2012

BookBook Case for iPhone 4

Still a rare item around town, the BookBook iPhone 4 case can be found in the hands of most scarf and glasses wearing hipsters. Artists in all forms, be they painters, photography buffs or advertising campaign brainstormers prefer this Book Book all-in-one vintage leather case and wallet over any other iPhone holder.

Not being a hipster myself, I still find the BookBook practical and visually attractive really. And if you, like me, know the phrase “wallet, keys, phone” all too well (coupled with a series of gestures and patting of pockets) then you’ll see how useful this is for someone that tends to forget things at home. I’m glad that I can keep my phone and wallet in the same place, as they are the most important things (and sadly, most commonly used) when out in town.

The BookBook for iPhone 4 really is designed for the iPhone 4/4S. By that I mean that it has special cutouts for the wide array of ports and features. It also has a pretty sturdy build, which means it can protect your credit cards and driving licence from bending.

All in all, this little case is full of character. The originality of its old book look really appeals to those in search of something different and its phone case/wallet combination adds real-life practicality. It’s good looking and practical, what more could you want from a phone case? Sure, I agree it would be great if the wallet came with a £50,000 limit credit card but other than that, it’s awesome.

I clearly love it, but what do you think? Too artsy? Great? Let us know.

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