09 May 2016 ~ 3 Comments

LG introduces new modular smartphone

lg-g5

LG’s newest release is the first smartphone released this year with some truly innovative features. Instead of concentrating on camera wizardry, or high-performance specifications, LG are offering a new way of looking at the modern smartphone. The new LG G5 allows the user to customise their phone to suit their needs.

Clad in an attractive anodised aluminium case, it is an elegant and classy phone without the cheap looking-plastic bits some manufacturers seem so fond of using in their premium smartphones. The handset is a competitive 159g in a slim 7.7mm package. Screen size is 5.3 inches, which seems to work well without making the phone too bulky to handle easily. It’s an excellent compromise between big-screen readability and a manageable size which fits easily into a pocket.

The distinctive feature of this phone is its modular approach, which reveals itself with a pin-line seam that runs across the rear bottom end, of the phone. Push this and the LG G5’s expansion module disengages from the rest of the handset so that it can be extracted from the phone, complete with a removable battery. The modular design means that additional camera or music modules can easily be added to the phone to extend its features and customise the phone to meet its owner’s needs. The most obvious downside of the modular construction is that the phone is not water or dust proof.

G5-2

Initially, the phone is being offered with two expansion modules, but others will be launched in the future. The first module is a camera extension called the CAM Plus. This adds a comfortable grip and DSLR-like controls to the phone with dedicated buttons for power, shutter, zoom and movie recording. Significantly it also adds an extra 1,200mAh battery which will increase photographic and recording time.

The second module is focused on people who desire improved audio from their mobile device. It is called the B&O Play module and was jointly developed with high-end audio specialists Bang & Olufsen. This delivers high-resolution audio playback which can be used with the phone or as a standalone DAC attached to your hi-fi or PC.

lg-g5-friends-0428-w782

The LG G5’s camera is its other innovation. It is a two camera setup with one camera using a standard lens and the other a wide-angle lens. The standard camera has a resolution of 16-megapixel with a 75-degree field of view and a bright f/1.8 aperture, laser autofocus and a three-axis optical image stabilisation for excellent photographs in low light. The secondary camera has a 135-degree wide-angle lens with an eight-megapixel resolution and an aperture of f/2.4. It captures a broad view of a scene giving you the choice of a standard or wide-angle shot every time you take a photograph.

The LG G5 is a very interesting and attractive smartphone with great features. An unlocked G5 is available at the moment from just £460.

Continue Reading

Tags: ,

26 April 2016 ~ 3 Comments

iPhone SE – New Old iPhone

iphone_se1

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?

Continue Reading

27 December 2015 ~ 0 Comments

Android Marshmallow 6.0 is now out

android marshmallow relseased

The latest operating system update for Android phone users has been released. Continuing the tradition of confectionary-themed code names, we now have Marshmallow for version 6.0. The updates began with Android 1.5 Cupcake and were then followed, alphabetically, by names like Gingerbread, KitKat, and then Ice Cream Sandwich for version 4.0.

Unsurprisingly, the Google-developed Nexus was the first phone to get the new Android operating system. Manufacturers who work closely with Google, and who developed Nexus devices, such as LG and HTC, will be first in line for the upgrade. Sony, Samsung and others will get Android 6 early in 2016. However, Samsung has indicated that owners of the Galaxy Note 5 and S6 Edge+ should have received their Marshmallow updates in time for Christmas. The version for the standard S6 and the S6 Edge will be released in January while the Note 4 while Android for other models will only be available towards the end of January .

So what is exciting about Marshmallow? After all, it is not a major design update like Lollipop was, but there are some exciting new features. A major emphasis is on increasing battery life. Other general improvements include better app permission controls, standardised support for fingerprint scanners, more granular volume controls, USB-C support and new Google Now features.

The new fingerprint sensor functionality means that you can unlock your phone with your finger and when Android Pay is released in the UK you will be able to make payments without opening apps.

Android 6.0 opens the way for improved voice control features. Users will soon be able to speak to their apps – and the apps will even talk back. This natural way of speaking to our smartphone and the apps installed on it could revolutionise the way we interact with our devices. Probably not soon, but it could.

To improve battery usage Google has announced the Doze feature. Using motion sensors to detect whether a device hasn’t been moved for an extended period of time, Doze will switch it to a deeper sleep mode that consumes much less power. Doze will still allow alarms to go off and key notifications to come through.

Google says it took two Nexus 9 tablets, one running Lollipop and the other Android Marshmallow, loaded the same apps and settings on both, and then tested the standby power drain on the two. Apparently, the Nexus 9 running Android Marshmallow lasted up to two times longer than its Lollipop counterpart which is pretty damn impressive. These results sound very impressive and should lead to noticeably better battery life.

One of the new features which should prove very popular is Now on Tap which is essentially an updated Google Now and allows for contextual and location based information when using apps like WhatsApp.

In summary, many of the updates are aimed at developers and should lead to improved user experiences for Android users. What are your thoughts?

Continue Reading