Tag Archives: Qualcomm

Samsung Galaxy S5 VS HTC One M8. Which is best?

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The Samsung Galaxy S5 and the the all new HTC One are two of the biggest handsets to be released this year. With both companies hoping to build on the success of previous models, we are sure to see some aggressive competition. The Samsung Galaxy S range has seen some of the most popular smartphones ever made and sales have matched and even beaten those of the ironing iPhone. For HTC however, It is no lie that they have been struggling lately. That said, the original HTC One won universal praise and is considered one of the best smartphones ever made. As such both companies will be hoping to top sales figures and claim the title of ‘smartphone of the year’. The question then, is which one should you get?

Design and build.

Yet again Samsung have stuck to their previous design philosophy by using an all plastic construction. The device does not look that dissimilar to the GS4 and still incorporates a aluminium look band which runs around the edges. The corners however are slightly squarer and the device now looks more like the Note 3. Samsung have gone for a leather look back for the device and although similar to that of the Note 3, it does look more plasticky. The Samsung Galaxy S5 is by no means an ugly device but the all plastic design started feeling old about three years ago. An added bonus with the GS5 however is that it is certified as water proof.

The original HTC One really challenged the excellent build quality of the iPhone with a mainly metal build. HTC have never in my mind built an ugly phone but the One was a step forward. The new HTC One M8 is even better that the original. HTC have now used a build which consists of 90% metal and the plastic rim of the original is gone. It is slightly taller and fatter than the original but it matters little. The HTC One is a stunning looking device.

There is frankly no competition here. The build quality of the HTC blows the GS5 out of the water (literally). Im frankly getting a little tired of Samsung’s choice of build materials and I really cant understand the reluctance to include a little metal. I probably won’t buy another Samsung because of this.

Specs

Both devices have some pretty awesome specs and use relatively similar hardware. Both use Qualcomm’s latest Snapdragon 801 processors with Adreno 330 GPU’s. These are some of the latest hardware components on the market and as such both devices are lightning fast. The GS5 however has a slight clock speed advantage at 2.5GHZ compared to the One’s 2.3GHZ. In reality however there will be little difference in performance. Both devices also sport 2GB RAM and will be available with either 16GB or 32GB internal storage. With regards to batteries, the Samsung’s is slightly bigger at 2800mAh vs HTC’s 2600mAh. Again there is little realtime difference as software optimisation will be a big element of battery life.

Its worth mentioning that the GS5 also incorporates a heart rate monitor and a finger print reader. It may be that this sways it for you, particularly if you are into your sports!

Its a difficult call to make with such similar specs, but with the GS5 wins technically with its higher clocked processor and slightly bigger battery. Not to mention the additional hardware mentioned above.

Screen

Screen technology is always a controversial issue with opinion playing a big part. This is an issue of LCD technology vs AMOLED technology. AMOLED usually produces more vibrant colours and better contrast, but LCD tends to produce more accurate colours and sometimes appears sharper. Personally I love the popping colours of a AMOLED display and Samsung have always made pretty awesome displays.

Samsung’s GS5 sports a 5.1 inch full 1080p Super AMOLED HD display with HTC’s One incorporating a 5 inch LCD 1080p IPS display. Both are incredibly good and are likely some of the best screens available. Technically the HTC has a higher pixel density with 441 pixels per once (PPI) compared to Samsung’s 431. This really wont make any difference however with the difference being marginal.

This is very difficult to call as it all comes down to personal opinion. Both screens are exceptional. Although I prefer AMOLED, I know plenty of people will prefer LCD. Lets call this one a draw.

Cameras

This isn’t going to be a straight forward comparison with both devices having different ideas about smartphone cameras. The samsung uses a 16mp auto focus snapper compared with HTC opting for an ultra pixel camera at 4MP. The HTC cant really compare to the Samsung with regards to pixel count as the GS5 is way higher. The Ultra pixel camera on the HTC however has supposed to capture more light and as such claims to be better in low light situations. Clearly however if you want larger high quality pictures then the Samsung will be best for you. HTC do have a trick up their sleeve however with the inclusion of a second sensor used to create debt. This means you can play around with the background and create 3d like images.

Its worth mentioning that the One incorporates a front facing 5 MP camera which is great for selfies. The GS5’s front camera has a lower 2MP sensor. That said Samsung have an advantage in that the GS5 records video in the 4K format whereas the One only supports 1080p. This may change however.

Whilst the HTC One’s intuitive camera can create some really cool effects, it cant really compete with the high pixel count of the GS5. Samsung are pretty good at doing cameras and as such this will be a win for Samsung.

Software

Both devices will come preinstalled with the latest version of Android – 4.4.2 Kitkat. Both will also include the latest UI’s (user interface) – HTC using Sense and Samsung Touch Wiz. HTC’s Sense 6 will include the innovative ‘Zoe’ app which allows you to put videos and pictures together into short clips. Blink feed is also included which works a bit like Flipboard. The GS5 has something similar called ‘my magazine’. The GS5 is also heavily fitness optimised and includes Samsung’s new ’S Health’ fitness tracker software which works with the imbedded heart rate monitor.

This is very difficult call to make with the GS5 perhaps being more desirable to fitness fanatics. However, I have said it before and I will say it again, HTC Sense is way better that Samsung’s Touch Wiz. This sways it for me and I reckon the HTC One is the better device where software is concerned.

Conclusion

Technically, judging by the comparisons above both devices are equally impressive. The GS5 has possibly a better camera and some cool but perhaps gimmicky add ons, but the HTC One is far better looking with a much nicer design. Really, both devices are exceptional and both should sell by the bucket load. It’s really going to come down to which one you prefer.

If you want my opinion then I prefer the HTC One. Build quality is a big motivator for me and the device looks much cooler that the GS5. It will likely last longer too. The camera isn’t really an issue for me as I only take casual images on my smartphone. The One’s ultra pixel camera is perfect for quick pictures and has loads of flexibility when it comes to adding cool effects. Also, as mentioned above I really cant forgive Samsung for continuing to use plastic. Its outdated and it feels cheap. Smartphones have become fashion accessories and I don’t think samsung are going to win any prizes.

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Updated Smartwatch guide

With everybody talking about wearable technology at the minute the smartwatch is certainly the one to watch. What was seen by many as a bit or a gimmick is now starting to be taken seriously and 2014 I think is going to be the year that the smartwatch really takes off. Wearable tech is something which I find really interesting and as such I wanted to put this guide together. I myself was one of the ones who thought the Samsung’s Galaxy Gear was a bit of a gimmick, and only now am I starting to see the potential in the smartwatch. What exactly a smartwatch is is still open to debate. As such I have tried to cover different takes on the smartwatch in this guide and I hope you find this interesting.

Pebble range

Pebble

The original Pebble which was initially funded through a kickstarter project is a waterproof smartwatch built around an e-paper type display. Compatible with both iOS and Android devices, the concept is that you can access push messages on your wrist. Once connected to you Android or i-device via the Pebble app you can download different clock faces and select exactly which notifications get pushed to the device. The battery should last about 5-7 days off one charge. Although the Pebble is not the most powerful or innovative smartwatch on the market it is possibly one of the most talked about. And, unlike other smartwatches It isn’t trying to be a smartphone on your wrist but rather a means of being able to access basic information from your smartphone.
The Pebble retails at about £89 and comes with a magnetic charging cable.

Pebble Steel

The newer upgraded and slightly cooler Pebble Steel made an appearance at CES 2014. The original Pebble had received some criticism for being a bit plasticky and lacked that premium feel. The new Pebble Steel incorporates an all metal build with much more premium looks. The Steel retains the specifications of the original but has as vastly improved design.The old Pebble will still be available at $149 with the Steel coming in at $249. The extra hundred dollars brings a much more premium all stainless steel design, a choice of stainless steel or leather strap and much more conventional styling.

Samsung Galaxy Gear range

Galaxy Gear

The Galaxy Gear was Samsung’s answer to the smartwatch. Originally launched in line with the Note 3, the Galaxy Gear is now compatible with other top end Galaxy devices. Unlike the Pebble, the Gear is basically a small computer on your wrist and is only compatible with Android Samsung products. Where the Pebble may be a little plasticky for some, the Gear is made from slick aluminium and incorporates a colour super AMOLED capacitive screen. Although not a stand-alone smartphone it does have a single core 800mhz processor delivering the power and incorporates a 1.9 MP camera and two speakers. The general idea is similar to the Pebble in that it is designed as and extension to your smartphone and manages notifications. The Gear however also has voice recognition and allows you to take calls from the device. Downsides are that the battery only lasts about a day and you will pay in the region on £250 – £300 to own one. It also doesn’t help that at launch a Samsung exec was  quoted as saying that the Gear lacks that certain something.

Samsung Gear 2

CES 2014 saw the announcement of the Gear 2 in line with the launch of the Samsung Galaxy S5. Samsung have dropped ‘galaxy’ from the title, probably because of the change in OS from Android to Tizen. The Gear 2 builds on the success of the Gear by removing the camera from the wrist strap and incorporating this into the device itself. This makes for a much slicker strap design and and such is much slimmer than the original. The camera also incorporates 720p video. One of the problems with the original was its huge asking price. Well unfortunately at time of writing the Gear 2 will be no better and is expected to retail at about £250. The device retains 512MB RAM like its predecessor but fortunately improves vastly with the inclusion of a 1GHZ dual core processor. The Gear 2 also has a little brother called the Gear 2 Neo. The Neo is specced exactly the same as its big brother but loses the camera. This means the device is smaller and lighter. It also has interchangeable wrist straps. Expect to pay about £165.

Sony SmartWatch 2

SmartWatch 2

The SmartWatch 2 is Sony’s second attempt at a smartwatch. Much improved over the SmartWatch 1, the SmartWatch 2 is more refined and has a larger LCD touch display. Battery life is not bad either and can achieve about 5 days. The device is very similar to the Galaxy Gear in that it is only compatible with android devices but it does have some pretty good native apps including Facebook and Twitter. Like the Gear and Pebble however you will need to manage the SmartWatch 2 from your Android by using Sony’s own app. Build quality is pretty good and incorporates both aluminium and plastic and the only physical button is the power button. The on screen capacitive buttons mimic those found on an Android smartphone and the device is also water resistant (but not fully waterproof). Expect to pay about £130 in the UK.

Meta Watch

Meta Watch

The SmartWatch company MetaWatch recently announced ‘Meta’, a new brand of ultra cool premium smartwatches. Where is previous MetaWatches have been accused of being ugly, the ex fossil engineers at MetaWatch have designed the Meta range with both functionality and aesthetics in mind.The new Meta range of watches have been designed by Frank Nuovo (formally of Nokia and Vertu) so we can expect a lot of attention to quality and detail. The Meta range will sport high quality e-ink type displays making for good sunlight legibility and see of use.

Martian

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The Martian is possibly one Samartwatch you haven’t heard of. When compared to the Pebble, SmartWatch 2 and Gear, the Martian is different in that it doesn’t try to look like an obvious SmartWatch. It’s other USP is that it is designed to handle voice commands and links up with Siri for iOS and Google Now for Android. It’s designed to look like a retro analogue watch and has a premium stainless steel build. The Martian, like the Gear, actually enables phone calls from the device and is pretty cool in that it vibrates when you get notifications. The Martians main limitation is that it does not have a full digital display and as such notifications are displayed on a small single line screen at the bottom of the device. This means no app support and limits the amount of information you can actually receive. If however you want a more traditional looking watch which works as a Bluetooth headset then this may be the one for you. The Martian is available in several different designs but the Passport model which is only available in the US at the minute will we you back $299.
I’m watch

I'm watch

The I’m watch is a bold and bulky smartwatch constructed from aluminium and links up with both iOS and Android devices. It sports a colour LCD display with curved glass and has 4GB built in memory should you wish to download music straight into the device. It also has a 3.5 mm jack for charging which also allows for audio output to your headphones etc. The I’m watch runs an optimised version of android but unlike other smartwatches you will need to optimise settings and download apps from the website. Fortunately there are customised apps for Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, weather and more, and these should all look nice on that large screen. The device is powered by an 454mhz processor and has 128GB RAM in tow. Downsides are that the I’m watch has pretty poor battery life and at present Bluetooth connectivity is very temperamental. Furthermore users have complained that the software is not up to scratch and is slightly clunky. Another downside is the price. In the UK this will cost about £299 from the online store. At time of writing however this is on sale for a more respectable £219.

Motorola MotoActv

MotoActv

The MotoActv is a different take on the Smartwatch idea. This is not an extension of your smartphone but rather a standalone fitness tracker for hardcore athletes. The MotoActv runs on an optimised version of android and comes in 8 and 16 GB versions. The device is made from high quality metals and has a premium, robust look and feel. It’s also water resistant. The MotoActv has a built in music player and includes a GPS receiver and accelerometer. It also has 40 preset modes for different exercise types and can also be connected to various accessories such as a heart rate monitor. Like other sports trackers you can upload all of your workouts etc to the website portal and track your progress. The MotoActv can be picked up from Amazon for £163.99.

Qualcomm Toq

Qualcomm Toq

The Toq is an interesting concept as Qualcomm state it is not designed to compete with other products, but rather to show off various technologies. Moreover this will only be available in the US at this time. One of the purposes of the device is to showcase Qualcomm’s Mirasol screen technology. This is basically a power efficient always on e-ink type full colour display and should bring with it greater battery endurance. The device also supports wireless charging and Bluetooth stereo headphones which can also be charged the same way. Like much of the competition the Toq is only compatible with Android and it allows you to access basic information like notifications, reminders, weather and stocks etc. it allow allows the user to send and receive messages. Qualcomm who are typically known for making processors state they want to work with other companies to sell the technology. However, they have hinted and increasing production depending on demand. The current cost is about $349 so you better have deep pockets.

Neptune Pine

Neptune Pine

The Neptune Pine is yet another take on the smartwatch concept. The big difference here is that the Pine is being marketed as the smartphone replacement. It is a totally standalone device which gives complete smartphone functionality but without the need to connect it to a smartphone. The Pine sports a 2.4 inch 320 x 240 QVGA screen, VGA front facing camera, 5MP rear camera and is powered by a 1.2 ghz dual-core Snapdragon processor. It aims to do it all; smartphone, sports tracker, telephony and even doubles up as a head camera. Unfortunately it won’t support 4G due to size limits however it will be capable of making video calls via the front facing camera. The developers have acknowledged that many people won’t want to replace their phone completely and as such there is a handy tethering mode so it can be used as an extension to your smartphone. The Pine is currently up for pre order at $215 for the 16 GB and $262 for the 32GB model.

 

I find the smartwatch revolution very interesting and look forward to seeing what happens over the next couple of years. I think the problem that the smartwatch is facing at the moment is one of identity. I don’t think the smartwatch yet knows who it is and I’m not sure the user knows what they want. Do we want something which replaces our beloved smartphone, or something which enhances it? Whilst the majority of current smartwatches work in unison with the smartphone, as we have seen the Neptune Pine tries to set a new direction. For me the Pine tries to be a bit of a master of all trades. I don’t see this as the right direction. I love my smartphone and wouldn’t want to replace it with a mahoosive smartphone watch. All I want is something which tells me I have an upcoming appointment without having to get my phone out of my pocket. I also find voice control very exciting as such a smartwatch can be used as a hands-free device. Being able to access other basic notifications like breaking news and twitter notifications would also be acceptable. Having a small screen is limiting and as such I only want important and specific information being pushed to my watch. Only time will tell which direction the smartwatch takes but at the minute I think this is very much open to debate.

I’d be really interested to hear of people’s opinions and experiences. Please feel free to comment.

5 reasons to buy a Samsung Galaxy Note 3

We all know that the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 is a pretty competent phone. With a sweet screen, bags of power and that intuitive S-pen, the Note 3 is easily one of the coolest smartphones of 2013. However I want to go one step further. To me the Note 3 is one of the best smartphones ever made. Here are 5 reasons why:

That screen

Yes that screen! You have all heard about that stunning 5.7 super AMOLED HD window to the world. Well it really needs to be seen to be believed. Personally this is the best smartphone screen on any device right now. The colours simply leap from the screen and with a dpi of 386 this makes for a truly world class viewing experience. Seriously guys go to your local phone shop right now and have a look at this display. It really is breathtaking. Movies and games are an absolute pleasure and feel right at home on the Note 3. But did I mention how good the display is!?

The power

The Note 3 is technically the most powerful smartphone on the market. The device is built around Qualcomm’s flagship Snapdragon 800 processor clocked at 2.3GHZ, coupled with an Adreno 330 GPU (international version). The device is also the the only smartphone currently to include 3GB of RAM. This all adds up to make the Note 3 one hell of a serious b**tard! Gaming is buttery smooth and because of the snapdragon 800 inside the international version it also supports 2k video.

S-pen

The Note 3 has one major trick up its sleeve when compared to other phablets. It is the only smartphone to incorporate the intuitive s-pen or similar accessory. The S-pen is massively intuitive as it allows hand writing recognition right out of the box and with features such as air gestures the Note 3 is truly intuitive. The S-pen is also great for enhanced accuracy and makes quick access to your favourite features much more pleasant. The S-pen is packed with cool features and really makes for a very unique user experience. I love it.

The size

Yes controversial I know. To some this would be a major downside. To me however and like minded tech enthusiasts the size is what makes the Note 3 so brilliant. Although large, the device is very thin and relatively light. If you just love browsing the internet, watching video content and playing games then you will truly appreciate the size of the Note 3. Obviously the device needs to be large to support that gorgeous screen, but with that slim waist line you will hardly feel it in your pocket! Personally I hate small smartphone displays. I really struggle with my IPhone 5s and find it strains my eyes. It’s also difficult to type on and as such I really wish it was larger! The Note 3 doesn’t have these issues however and that’s why I love it.

The camera

The Note 3 sports a 13MP camera on the back with LED flash. The image quality is really very good and again is complemented by that stunning display. The note 3 has the ability to film video and take pictures at the same time and gives easy access to some great on-screen effects. As mentioned already the Note 3 also supports 2k video playback and guess what? Yep you guessed it the video playback looks stunning on that display! Although the camera does not give the best low light performance it does perform very well in normal conditions and has a great HDR mode.

So there you go, 5 reasons why the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 is so great! I’m sure some people will disagree so please feel free to comment. By the way did I mention how good that display is?

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HTC One is official

Yesterday HTC officially launched its hotly anticipated flagship ‘One’. The device features a stunning 4.7 inch Super LCD 3 screen with a whopping 469 ppi (pixels per inch). As expected the One is based around a powerhouse Qualcomm quad-core processor of the Krait 300 variety (as seen in the LG Optimus G Pro). An Adreno 320 GPU will keep things ticking over nicely in the graphics departments and 2GB RAM will should make operation buttery smooth.

ImageThe camera HTC have opted for is an interesting choice. HTC have broken out of the pixels race and instead opted for a 4 mega pixel snapper. Each pixel we be about twice as large as standard smartphone camera pixels and HTC reckon this will allow in more light thus allowing for better low light performance and better overall picture quality.

As if these specs aren’t enough, the device looks totally stunning with its curved back and aluminium casing. i’m sure you will agree the HTC One looks amazing. Then next question is when can I have one?