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26 April 2016 ~ 6 Comments

iPhone SE – New Old iPhone


Apple just announced the iPhone SE and is billing it as the most powerful four-inch phone ever. Using the four-inch display and aluminium casing similar to the 2013 iPhone 5S, the company claims it took a “beloved design, then reinvented it from the inside out”.

The new phone is very similar to the 5S, but it has the power and performance of the new 6 series which makes for a very attractive overall package. Technical specifications are very similar to the iPhone 6S and 6S Plus with a 64-bit A9 chip and an M9 motion co-processor which should give the same processing and graphics performance found in the flagship models. Photographic specifications are also the same with a 12 megapixel iSight camera capable of capturing 4K video. Live Photos is included in the SE package, which brings your still photos to life with sound and movement.

The new phones all share improved wireless specifications which give faster LTE and Wi-Fi. It is now possible to browse the web, download apps, and games, and stream video over 802.11ac Wi-Fi and LTE at higher speeds than on the iPhone 5S.

Techradar describes the iPhone SE in a review as “a simply brilliant palm-friendly phone”. It really is a very good phone, especially if you like a smaller and more manageable phone which sits comfortably in your hand (and even more so if you have a small hand, which can often struggle with the larger smartphones). And of course, the low price makes it the most affordable iPhone in the market.

The iPhone SE is a bold step by Apple to target a market niche ignored by Samsung, LG, and other Android smartphone manufacturers. Apple is offering consumers a premium small screen smartphone with the features and technical specifications found in its top models. The compact Android smartphones, by comparison, are all offered with downgraded features and low specifications. It’s a shame that, until now, there hasn’t been as much choice.

This might also have been somewhat shortsighted from the Android manufacturers; Apple confirms that the “compact” smartphone market is still very strong, particularly in China. More than thirty million four inch phones were sold by Apple last year which probably accounts for Apple’s reasoning behind the production of the iPhone SE. It is a well calculated gamble which we expect to pay large dividends for the company.

With a starting price of just £359, the new iPhone SE should prove to be another winner for Apple. What do you reckon?

02 April 2016 ~ 5 Comments

Tesco buying back Tesco Mobile shares

tesco mobile phone

Tesco Mobile is on the move onwards and upwards. The supermarket chain has just announced aggressive plans to grow its mobile market share in the UK through a planned buy-out of its current joint venture with O2 while securing new agreements with Hutchison (Three Mobile) to give it increased access to the most profitable side of the UK mobile market.

Tesco currently has about 4.5 million customers and operates as a virtual network utilizing O2’s resources. It uses O2’s cellular towers and does not need to worry about having its own network infrastructure. This gives it access to O2’s 70% 4G coverage of the UK market.

Hutchison’s proposed £10.25bn takeover of O2 will see a change in the mobile market in the UK as Hutchison will then be in control of both the 3 and the O2 networks. Although the figures probably pale in comparison, Tesco is determined to grow its share of this market to provide an alternative profit stream to the tough grocery market. Meanwhile, Three Mobile will welcome Tesco’s plans since they will help counter the opposition it has received from the competition watchdogs regarding the impact of the acquisition on the UK mobile market.

Sharon White, head of the communications regulator Ofcom, voiced her opposition to the deal last October and in a recent letter to the Financial Times stated that “a combination of Three and O2, creating a new market leader and reducing the number of UK networks from four to three, would damage competition and leave consumers poorer ”.

The Telegraph has reported that: “Tesco is an interested party in the merger review process. It is important that any landscape created by the merger process allows challenger brands, such as Tesco Mobile, to deliver the best possible services for UK customers, and champions consumer choice.”

Tesco has had a 50:50 joint venture with O2 for thirteen years and is planning to buy back a portion of Tesco Mobile shares which O2 owns. It is rumoured that such a deal could cost Tesco up to £300 million. At the same time, the supermarket wants to secure a long-term deal with Three Mobile for capacity in the new network after the merge with O2. Tesco’s intention to build its mobile base is a radical about-turn for Tesco CEO Dave Lewis who last year announced his intention to sell off Tesco Mobile to reduce its £22bn debt.

We wait to see how this development will impact users. Will it mean increased costs or increased value? What do you think?

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03 March 2016 ~ 1 Comment

Samsung S6 Edge wins best screen

Samsung S6 Edge 6

In its recent review of the top smartphones for 2016, The Week choose the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge as the handset with the best smartphone screen. This is an opinion shared by many technology critics who regard the Galaxy S6 and the S6 Edge as two of the best smartphones available at the moment.

The Samsung S6 Edge was declared the winner of the Best Phone in the 2015 TechRadar Phone Awards while the S6 was voted their best smartphone for 2016.

The design of the Samsung S6 Edge is undeniably beautiful. The fact that the curved glass looks good is already enough to make people want this phone. But the curve has a purpose too. It is an additional area for communication and this really makes it different from the rest of the smartphones on the market.

The technical specifications are excellent. The main display is 5.1 inches with an impressive QHD, 1440 x 2560 resolution which gives excellent clarity and sharpness. This married to Samsung’s Super AMOLED technology makes for a bright and vibrant display. The pixel density of 577 ppi is one of the best in its class. With Gorilla Glass 4 covering the S6 it should be less prone to cracked screens than its primary competitor the iPhone 6.

The real innovation in this phone is the fact that the curved side screen provides some pretty useful functions. If the main screen is off, a quick slide of a finger along the edge of the screen will reveal an overview of important notifications such as news headlines, sports scores, or updates on time, date and weather. Any new text message will also scroll along the edge screen in its entirety.

Another enjoyable feature of the screen is People Edge which manifests itself as five circles to which you can assign five contacts (“My People”). These are then easily available for texting, calling or emailing. Another useful feature is that when you pick the phone off a surface, it will notify you on the screen whether you have any missed calls, texts or emails from your My People contacts.

When you place the handset face down and you receive a call, text or email from you key contacts you will be notified by a discreet light on the side display. The colour of this light can be customised to match your key contacts. On receiving a call from My People, you are able to dismiss the call and send a pre-written text message to that person by placing a finger on the heart rate monitor for two seconds.

The Samsung Galaxy S6, White Pearl 32GB (SIM free) is currently available from a new low of just £360.