03 May 2016 ~ 3 Comments

Huawei takes on Apple and Samsung with release of P9 Plus

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Top smartphone manufacturers are being forced to deliver increasingly unique and exciting features in order to differentiate their premium offerings. For example, the Galaxy Edge has a wrap-around screen and the iPhone has a reputation for delivering stunning photographs but the differences are becoming blurred as the phones are all offering very similar features. Huawei are now boldly delivering the new P9 – a phone which is definitely distinctive and completely different. With an innovative twin camera from Leica, one of the world’s best camera makers, they have created a lot of positive feedback from critics and users alike.

What makes the new offering from Huawei so unique is the setup of the dual cameras. Other manufacturers such as LG also offer a dual camera setup, but the P9 is different since it combines the data from both its rear sensors to create its 12 megapixel photographs. One camera shoots in colour while the other is designed solely for black and white pictures.

Michael Sykes, senior European product manager for Huawei, said: “If you let in more light you have better low-light capability, but you also get higher contrast ratios in black and white photography, so you can have really sharp and crisp black and white photos, and you can add depth information”.

The phone is also very attractive with a 5.2” 1080p display which runs almost to the edge of the phone. In spite of the large screen, the P9 is still thinner than the iPhone 6S. With 3GB of RAM and an 8-core processor, the phone has enough performance to meet most needs. The P9 comes in 32 and 64GB versions but includes a microSD slot so it is possible to add an extra 128GB of storage.

The ground-breaking design of the twin camera and the collaboration with German camera-maker Leica is seen by many analysts as an excellent strategic initiative by Huawei which could see the company establish itself as a premium brand and a serious player in the smartphone market. Huawei has shown significant growth in the last year giving it third place in terms of market share and the fastest rise in sales of any of the major brands.

If you are in the market for a premium smartphone, and you want the best camera phone currently available, then the P9 is probably your best choice at the moment. The P9 is expected to sell for around £450 in the UK.

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26 April 2016 ~ 3 Comments

iPhone SE – New Old iPhone

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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?

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03 March 2016 ~ 1 Comment

Samsung S6 Edge wins best screen

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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.

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