Mobile Phones

Nov 13

The Top Five Mobile Phones for 2013

It’s been a pretty big year for gadgets and an even bigger one for smartphones with numerous releases such as the LG, Samsung Galaxy 4, Nokia Lumias, HTC One and the iPhone. I have put together a list of my top five phones for 2013.

Samsung Galaxy 4Samsung Galaxy S4
This is Samsung’s biggest release of the year aside from the Samsung Tab 3. It is the most powerful and desirable device that they have created yet bar the Tab. For those of you who dread large phones you will be pleased to know that the S4 is the same size as the S3. It feels like a completely different phone from the S3 and in my opinion it is a much better design – the chrome on the side gives it a much more premium look and on a more practical level it allows you to grip it a lot easily. More importantly the keypad is easier to type on and the functionality is a lot more appealing. The S4 has an amazing camera (13 megapixels!) and has been described as one of the best on the market. I would certainly second that, the pictures you take with the S4 contains lots of colour and light and only the Nokia Lumia 925 and 1020 can rival it. It is the OS with 441 pixels per inch that makes this model stand out, the screen resolution contain very sharp text and video and you are not hampered the dreaded blackout that you get with the S3 when the sun comes out. Other perks from the S3 are a much faster processor and more storage space for media thanks to an expandable memory card slot. There is also Bluetooth 4.0 and 4G. On a downside the battery life does not last much longer and you still need to top up half way through the day.

The Samsung Galaxy 4 comes in white, blue, black and red and is available on all mobile networks.

Blackberry Q10BlackBerry Q10
This is about the only phone on the market that offers a QWERTY keyboard. In true Blackberry form you have to switch on the phone from the top but the Q10 has a twist, you can swipe up from the bottom of the display to switch it on. It is the perfect size as it fits into the palm of your hand and feels sturdy and safe in your hands. Aesthetically this is the most stylish Blackberry with a keyboard and is based on the Bold 9000 which I loved. That model was 50% screen and 50% keyboard but the Q10 is 70% screen and 30% keyboard which works very well. On the technical aspect it has two gigs of ram, Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 processor, 345 hours standby time and up to 13.5 hours talk time and supports 4G. The screen resolution is 720 pixels x 720 pixels but as the screen is smaller than most smartphones you do get a pixel density but overall an awesome screen.

The OS is Blackberry 10 and to use the model you create two profiles, one for work and another for personal use. Each profile can have its own data, apps and network permissions. You can access your work email, documents and company intranet from your work profile, then switch to personal use, secure in the knowledge that all of your sensitive data is protected. You have an 8 mega pixel camera which allows you to take pictures that are clear and sharp, you can also manipulate your pictures by cropping, lightening and darkening. For those of you purists who hate touching the screen there are loads of shortcuts on the keyboard that allow you to carry out functions such as scrolling, zooming in and out, going back pages, searching documents and reloading web pages. The downside of the Q10 are the lack of apps also you can’t turn auto brightness on or off which is a tad annoying.

The Blackberry Q10 comes in black and white and is available on all mobile networks.

Nokia Lumia 1020Nokia Lumia 1020
If you want an amazing camera then this is the phone for you, in fact this is the only phone for you. The Nokia Lumia 1020 has an incredible 41 megapixels so you can create supersize images. In fact the Zoom feature allows you to blow up an image to poster size. You have a lot more control over this camera – you can change the exposure, shutter speed, ISO focus or white balance – or you can just leave the camera on auto so it makes the adjustments itself. The PureView technology produces sharp and crisp images which are amazing on the eye. The video captures footage with stereo sound even at the loudest concerts thanks to Nokia Rich Recording, which handles sound pressure levels six times louder than conventional smartphone microphones.

The 1020 opens and closes apps very quickly which is pure bliss after using the S3 which left a trail of apps in your wake while eating up your memory. The 1020 is slightly chunkier and larger than its predecessor but the design is very appealing if you like colourful devices. The exterior has a zoom lens on the back but it is tastefully designed so it does not look obstructive. The downside is that the camera amp on the back prevents the phone from lying flat on the table so no typing while it is on the table. Also there is a bit of delay between taking images which is really annoying if you are shooting a live event.

The Nokia Lumia 1020 comes in yellow, white and black and is available on all mobile networks.

HTC-One-miniHTC One Mini
If you are not at all in love with all the large phones on the market then you HTC One Mini might be the one for you. It is a sleek compact version of the HTC One phone and fits perfectly into your pocket fit. It may be smaller than its bigger brother but the mini still packs a mean punch by hosting features such as HTC Zoe which is a three-second living photo that brings your pictures to life and HTC BoomSound, which delivers amazing sound through front-facing stereo speakers. There’s also HTC Blinkfeed, a personalised homescreen that delivers updates from news channels and social networks. A perk for those interested in the mini is that it contains the updated Zoe Highlights feature, which automatically creates a 30-second montage of your best videos and pictures – set to a soundtrack of your choice from your music library. Design wise the HTC Mini is quite impressive with the chrome casing that makes it look very expensive, I always like the way the model curves at the back so it can slot perfectly into your palm. Genius. On the tech side the mini contains Snapdragon 400 processor making it dual-core, 1.4GHZ, 1GB of RAM, 32GB of internal storage, 13.27 hours worth of 3G talk time and an impressive standby of 692 hours. The device contains an UltraPixel Camera which captures 300 per cent more light than traditional smartphone camera sensors. The speed of the camera is impressive and allows you to take great images while you are on the move or capturing fast paced action.

The HTC One Mini is comes in silver, red and blue and is available on all mobile networks.

iPhone 5s
There is always mass hysteria when Apple drops a new phone and it’s no different when the iPhone 5s was released a few years ago. This model runs on iOS7 which is more sleeker and cleaner than iOS6. This OS is for people who love colour because trust me it is full of it. Surprisingly this is one of the smaller models on the market and is dwarfed by the likes of the S4 and Nokias but it is really pretty to look at. It is very light and beautifully made with the chrome and metal casing however it is very fragile so if you buy this phone you need to be careful that you do not drop it. The 4 inch display has a screen resolution of 1136 x 640, making it razor sharp at 326DPI.

The new A7 chip gives you CPU and graphics performance up to 2x faster than the A6 chip. Even more impressive, A7 makes iPhone 5s the first 64-bit smartphone in the world. The camera combines the best of the HTC Mini in that it takes great pictures in the dark and of the S4 and takes lovely daytime shots. What makes this phone stand out is Touch ID which registers your finger print which is invaluable in case your phone is lost or stolen. The downside is the battery life which is very weak although it does charge very quickly.

The iPhone 5s comes in silver and gold and is available on all mobile networks.

Jun 13

The Nokia Lumia 925

Nokia Lumia 925

On Tuesday I was invited by 3 Monkeys PR to see the unveiling of the Nokia Lumia 925. There was a time when Finish brand Nokia seemed dead in the water after being taken over by a flurry of Blackberrys and iPhones but thanks to a fantastic partnership with Windows, Nokia have found a new lease of life. The Nokia Lumia fleet were launched in 2011 and since then they have gone from strength to strength with a selection of spectacular models and the Lumia 925 is the newest edition to the group. Unlike the other models it has a metal design which gives it a very sophisticated feel. A few people might have found the previous models of the Lumia a bit childish with the bright colours and the tiles but this new model will certainly change their minds.

At 13g the Lumia 925 is a touch bit lighter and with just over 12 hours talk time, it has a larger battery which is a huge relief for someone who is constantly tweeting, instagramming, texting, emailing and taking pictures. The interior of the phone has the usual impressive features that we have come to expect from the Lumia series. The model contains the latest Pureview camera innovation with a 8.7-megapixel sensor but the 925 has an additional lens element which also allows you to take fantastic images whether it is light or dark. There are also great apps such as HERE Maps where you can discover the nearest restaurants, pubs and shops wherever you are. HERE Drive is basically a digital sat nav that guides you to your destination. The Nokia Smart Camera is a life saver, allowing you to shoot a sequence of photos and making it easier to capture great moments. Say goodbye to all those dud shots while your subject in mid flow. Sadly Instagram is not supported but you can get round that with clone like apps such as Metrogram. The images look awesome, very clear and glossy. I have not sussed out how to get Pinterest but I am still working on it.

My only gripe about this phone is that as it is a Windows phone and I am very Google orientated I cannot sync my calendar with the map facility as I can with my Samsung and Blackberry. Unfortunately that is an essential feature for someone who has to navigate themselves to different events on a regular basis. Despite this the Lumia 925 is one hell of a phone; it looks good and feels great in your hands. I have not quite got to grips with typing on a touchscreen but the screen for the 925 is really easy to use. The chrome finish of the model gives it a very luxurious feel that everyone will aspire to.

The Nokia Lumia 925 is available from major phone outlets.

Apr 13

Blackberry Z10

Blackberry Z10

I did snort when I heard that Alicia Keyes was made the global creative director of Blackberry and I laughed out loud when it was rumoured that she tweeted the news from her iPhone. Blackberry have been in crisis for a couple of years, once the pioneer of smartphones they took their eye of the ball by trying to ram their tablet down our throats and pushing out dodgy devices after device. With Samsung, HTC, Apple and even Nokia are made their mark on smartphone universe it looked like Blackberry had bit the dust. Suddenly their cute devices looked very dated compared to the lush iPhones, HTC X and Ssmsung Galaxies that had flooded the market. Something needed to be done and Blackberry retreated to strategise and emerged with a new brand name, new ambassador (cough Alicia, drop the iPhone) and new smartphone. Enter Blackberry Z10, the phone that would put the brand back on the map. Well I decided to check out the Blackberry Z10 to see what the big deal is all about.

The phone is powered by Blackberry 10 which is the now operating system, the Blackberry Z10 and offers you a seamless way in using your apps and features. Like the Windows Phone you can keep all your favourite apps in one place so you have instant access to them. Blackberry’s piece de resistance is the BlackBerry Hub which gives you instant access to your emails, text messages and BBM. Since those are the tools that I use most then I really love this feature. The keyboard is not bad; it feels easy to type ond has a punchy feel when you swipe the keyboard. It is made to understand and adapt to our writing style, so we can type faster and more accurately. I didn’t really see any real evidence of this but I did feel more secure typing on this model than my Samsumg. It did feel odd having to constantly swipe upwards in order to move from A to B and with no back button, navigating between apps and screens was a real pain.

Overall the Blackberry Z10 is a massive improvement from their recent models and if you are a real communicator then this is the phone for you. The Blackberry Hub is a real seller but as a regular Smartphone the cons are too much for me to consider it as an option. Lack of compatibility to Instagram and Pinterest is annoying but at least the Whatsapp tool is a lot better than the previous version. In terms of touch screen phones the Blackberry Z10 does not really offer anything dramatically different from the other phones out there but the Blackberry Q10 which is keyboard based may be a different matter.

The BlackBerry Z10 is available on all major networks and sold in from Carphone Warehouss.

Apr 13

An Afternoon with Holly Willoughby and Windows Phones

Holly Willoughby

Holly Willoughby posing with her Windows Phone

I am typing this post on my brand new Windows Phone. Last week I was invited to attend an event with Windows and Bounty mums. It was held at the Covent Garden Hotel and hosted. by TV presenter, Holly Willoughby. The aim was to promote how Windows Phones can help busy parents organise their lives by educating and entertaining kids and offering tools that allows them to manage their household chores. The brilliant feature, Kid’s Corner was praised a lot as it allows parents to share their phone with their child but while fully controlling what their kids can see on the screen. Kids Corner sops kids from making accidental phone-calls, misdirecting emails and making unapproved purchases. The format was a round table discussion where avid Windows Phone users shared their opinions about the model and the benefits. The room was full of Mummy bloggers, journalists as well as Bounty ambassadors and they all had something valuable to add to the. discussion. Holly kicked off the talk by telling us how valuable the phone is to her life; as a modern day lady she has to juggle career and family and she was a huge fan of the calender feature which allows her agent to see her itinerary and add meetings and events in for her. Other features that got the thumbs up were Sky Drive which allows you to access your files anywhere, the connectivity with Microsoft Office as well as the variety of games on offer.

We were lucky enough to be gifted a Windows Phone 8X for HTC to take away with us. I have been using Blackberrys for the last three years and I got my Samsung S3 late last year so I am not at all familiar with the Windows Phone. To me it is the phone with all the squares but what I didn’t know was that those squares are pretty dynamic. They are Live Tiles and essentially keep you up to date with what is going on in the lives of your family and friends. You can arrange your screen and decide on what updates that will appear on it. After hearing about all the wonderful features, I could not wait to get started on it and I was impressed with what I saw. The phone is a bit smaller than most Smartphones so that makes it a lot more portable and the keypad is a lot more easier to type on. The navigation of the phone is also a lot more clearer and simple – whilst with the Samsung you ended up with open windows every time you opened an app, that ate your memory, with this phone all you have to do to exit an app is press the back arrow sign. I love the interface of the Windows Phone because all the fonts on it is the same across all apps unlike the Samsung where the font is tiny on Whatsapp and Facebook yet microscopic on text messaging. However what I love about this phone is the camera. I adore the fact that you have easy access to it simply by pressing the button on the side. This is really useful for me especially at times when I want to whip out my camera and take a quick picture. This feature really kicks my Samsung Galaxy into touch. Looks like iPhone and Samsung have a real challenger on their hands.

Mar 13

Sony Xperia Z

Sony Xperia

So while Samsung, iPhone and HTC corner the smartphone market all the other brands struggle to keep up. Sony’s response to the avalanche of Smartphones that do everything except make the tea is the Somy Xperia Z. Like all the other big boys the Sony Xperia is also a large handset with a five inch display, but while the HTC and S3 feels light, the Xperia for some reason feels a lot heavier due to it’s chunky build. It contains a 1.5GHz quad-core processor, 2GB of RAM, a 13.1-megapixel camera, 4G cellular connectivity and 16GB of built-in storage, which can be augmented using microSD cards. It also has the sharpest level of HD available on a mobile phone. The handset also houses a 13 megapixel fast-capture camera with next-generation Sony Exmor RS™ to ensure that you always get crystal clear photos, wherever and whenever they are taken. It works spectacularly in all light conditions and is the first handset ever to allow HDR video capture on a mobile phone. This is the first big Android launch of 2013 and it is certainly an interesting one because it has a mixture of old and new. The design is is a bit dated and reminds me of the new Blackberry Z0. In fact it is rather like a fitted kitchen with all the ports and openings covered with flaps. It gives a seamless style but I find it annoying as you have to search for a while for all the ports that you need. Functionally the phone has a lot going for it – it is water resistant and dust proof and if you ever dropped it from a great height it would survive unlike other models that chip easily.  How it works as a phone remains to be seen.

Feb 13

Samsung Galaxy SIII

Samsung S3

So after a lot of umming and urring, tooing and froing I have finally snapped my the Samsung Galaxy S III. I was torn between the Samsung Galaxy S III orS3 as it is known and the Samsung Note II but the S3 won due to practicalities and good old fashioned economics. I was planning to use the Note as a mini tablet and maintain my Blackberry Bold but that was not possible due to the fact that you cannot have the same mobile number operating on two phones and it makes no sense to have two separate sim cards. With S3 I can use it as a phone and a micro tablet so the decision was made. I picked up the phone on Saturday and I  chose the pebble blue as blue is my signature colour. I have heard how great the S3 is but I was not prepared for how fabulous it turned out to be. The concept of the S3 is that it is inspired by nature, it is designed to see, listen, respond, and enables you to share the greatest moments of your life. Well I can confirm that it lives up to its words.

First of all the camera function is amazing and rivals any DLSR and makes every image you take look clear and crisp. The camera syncs with Google so you have all your data ie contacts, calender and emails on tap. Also the web browser is excellent and loads quickly – the phone is even powerful enough for you to watch videos on it. The best thing about having an Android phone is the amass of wonderful apps that are at your disposable. With Blackberry you are more or less an outcast and do not have access to decent apps, so to be able to experience the wonders of Instagram and Kindle is awesome. Even the apps that I was using on my Blackberry such as Whatsaps, LinkedIn and Facebook are enhanced on the S3. What I love about the S3 is Google Maps, on the Blackberry it was total pants but on the S3 it works like a dream. I tested it on Monday when I headed off to the BenefitXmas do and it got me there safe and sound.

Ok the touch screen takes a while to get used to, the prescriptive text can be annoying and I will admit that the phone is a bit on the large side in comparison to the Blackberry but all I need is a great case and I will be home and dry. The only downsides that I can think of is that you have to charge it quite a few times during the day. I charge it at night and then once again during the day. Luckily it has a facility where you can see how much battery life you have left and you get a signal when the phone is fully charged. The S3 comes with 16GB so I don’t need to worry about running out of space with all my images bur considering that it has Picassa on it which holds all my old images then that is a good thing. I can confirm that the S3 is a joy to use. Together with the Griffin Stylus Pen that I was gifted by the kind ladies from Talk PR I am ready to take on the world.

The Samsung Galaxy S III is available on all major mobile network providers.

Pic taken from Flickr thanks to JonR Cook

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