20 July 2017 ~ 0 Comments

Google Pixel 2 – Will it live up to expectations?

The latest offering from Google promises a lot. Will the search engine giant finally be able to compete with the best from Samsung and Apple? The LG G6 is also up there with the top two, so Google will have to create real magic to claim the top smartphone crown.

The Pixel 2 will probably be launched in October, twelve months after the launch of the Google Pixel and Pixel XL. It is assumed that Google will launch the new phone around the anniversary of the launch of its predecessors.

At this stage all we have are rumours, but the phone is no longer under development and is now undergoing extensive testing and fine-tuning prior to its launch. This means that the review handset doing the rounds behind closed doors will be almost exactly what we can expect to see in October. Does the Google Pixel 2 have the features to make it a winner?

Google owns its own cloud services, and the Pixel 2 will more than likely continue with unlimited full resolution cloud backups of all photos and videos taken. The phone will also get immediate Android OS updates within none of the performance annoyances many other Android phones have to deal with.

An excellent camera is essential for a premium smartphone, and the Pixel phone fulfils expectations by being both fast and producing top quality images. It offers the added bonus that it is extremely easy to deliver winning shots repeatedly.

Superb all-round performance is one of the most important requirements a smartphone needs if it has aspirations to be the best phone in its class. This is where the Pixel 2 does not disappoint. It offers instant response and consistent smoothness which is unmatched by any other Android phone. Add this to a very impressive battery life and you have the makings of a giant killer. The Pixel’s battery gives all day performance without worry about regular top ups. The Pixel 2 is also likely to have a waterproof design, which has become the standard in upmarket phones.

Where does the Pixel 2 lose ground against the current leaders of the smartphone race? The most obvious feature which is lacking is the wow factor in its design. The Pixel 2 needs some excitement in its visual packagin. There is no denying that both the Samsung and the Apple deliver desirable phones. Their designs make a statement, and at this stage, the Pixel 2 does not look the part. It is not unattractive, but it is not exceptional, and a top phone needs to be exceptional.

What will the Pixel 2 cost in the UK? Initial speculation is that the Pixel 2 will apparently carry a loftier price tag than its predecessors – something we hope doesn’t turn out to be true. The old one started at £599 (or £719 for the XL version) so it was already quite expensive.

How much would you pay for one?

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07 February 2016 ~ 1 Comment

How Windows Phone is growing faster than Apple and Android in the UK

Windows Phone is regarded by many as not being able to compete with the mighty Apple iOS and Google’s Android-powered smartphones. Indeed, we’d usually agree with the argument that Microsoft is “doomed to irrelevance in the mobile age”. However, it may be time to reconsider the reports of the imminent death of Microsoft’s smartphone operating system. According to the latest figures, it certainly is not dying in the UK.

Smartphone operating system market shares for the year ending December 2015 compared to the year end 2014 shows some interesting trends. Android’s market share grew by 1.8 percent while Apple’s iOS declined by 3.1 percent. Meanwhile, Windows Phone showed better growth than Android at 2.3 percent (albeit from a much lower base).

A curious fact which emerges from the Kantar Worldpanel ComTech global analysis shows that the UK is the only Western market where Microsoft phones are showing growth. In China, Windows showed a 0.5 percent growth in a market currently dominated by Apple.

The performance of Windows Phone in the UK is probably linked to the success of Microsoft’s Lumia 950 and 950 XL handsets which were launched in November. Both phones have been well received by the public and if they had been released earlier in 2015 the UK sales growth for Windows Phone would have been even more impressive. This success contradicts Gartner’s view last year, which predicted that the Lumia won’t have much of an impact on Microsoft’s dismal performance in the global markets.

It’s not all good news for Microsoft though as the overall Windows Phone market share has tumbled across the globe to 2.2 percent and analysts do not see much hope for improvement from that base. Without strong support from OEM partners and mobile app development, the future looks bleak for Microsoft mobile. However, the new Lumia handsets are very popular with users who want a functional smartphone without much need for additional software or applications. And this market will probably keep driving the sales of Windows Phone.

What do you think? Where do you see Windows Phone this time next year?

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29 January 2016 ~ 4 Comments

Could the UK see Samsung Galaxy S7 before April?

Galaxy_S6_Edge

The much-anticipated premium smartphone offering from Samsung, the Galaxy S7, might be available in the UK by April, following its anticipated release in the United States on 11th March. Another date doing the rounds on the rumour mill is 4th March for the US launch. However, some sources are claiming that the UK might see it as early as the 11th March.

As with previous launches, it is expected that Samsung will announce four new handsets, the Galaxy S7, S7 Plus, S7 Edge and S7 Plus. It seems likely that the S7 screen size and screen resolution will not change as the current 5.1-inch display is considered an optimal size and resolution for standard smartphones and screens. What will be new is a pressure-sensitive touchscreen, imitating the latest offering from Apple in the iPhone 6S and 6S Plus.

Expected new features on the phones include fast charging via the USB Type-C port, an upgraded camera and wireless charging. The S7 will possibly have expanded storage made possible with the addition of microSD support and this might allow additional storage of up to 128GB. An interesting speculation is that the S7 front camera resolution will be 12 or 16 megapixels while the front camera will drop from 12 to 5 megapixels. It is assumed that this change is to allow more light in on a camera where resolution is not the primary consideration. Rumours persist of a camera with 12 megapixel and f/1.7 aperture to enable better low light photography which would be fantastic.

The operating system will be Google’s Android 6.0.1 (Marshmallow), which is the latest version. It is possible that the S7 will be IP67 certified (dust and water resistant) like the Galaxy S5.

To ensure that the S7 meets the demands of power-hungry consumers it is possible that the new phone will feature the Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 chipset. This should make for a very fast phone which will hopefully be coupled with an improved battery management system which will mean better battery life.

What will the new Galaxy S7 cost in the UK? At this stage pricing is pure speculation but it would be safe to assume a starting price of around £600 SIM-free. Not a bargain at the price, but decent value for money and squarely in competition with the new iPhone 6S. Buyers looking for a phone in this category will be hard pressed to make a choice between the two – although the consensus seems to favour the current Galaxy S6 as a better all-round phone.

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