Tag Archives: Android

IFA 2013: Sony Xperia Z1 Android phone with 20.7MP camera and 5″ HD screen

xperia-Z1-hero-black-somegadgetguy smartphone androidSony has its work cut out for itself in scratching out a niche in the Android ecosystem. They’ve been releasing quality hardware, and their fan base, while small, is passionate. With the announcement of the Z1, they’re hoping to give the Galaxies and Ones a run for their (customer’s) money.

The Xperia Z1 sports a five inch 1080p “Triluminous” LCD utilizing the same color tech found in Sony’s TV lineup. Under the hood you’ll find a Qualcomm 800 quad-core CPU paired up with 2GB of RAM which should handily outperform the GS4 and HTC One. 16GB of onboard storage is lean these days, but you do have access to an SD card slot to expand. A non-removeable 3000mAh battery should perform decently, but we haven’t seen many real world battery tests of the Qualcomm 800, so the increased battery capacity might get eaten by the more powerful internals.

The camera is a huge 20.7MP job with a 27mm wide angle lens (good for group shots and landscapes) and a fast f2.0 sperture for low light sensitivity. The image sensor is the same size as those found in most point and shoot cameras. Hopefully that combo works out, as there’s no mention of image stabilization on board, and 20 blurry megapixels are no fun.  If you pull the shot off however, Sony is including software to aid in sharing to your family and friends and favorite social networks.

xperia-Z1-gallery-03-1240x840-7d3dbfe4986436b7f56e2252c3114236Also of note, while not a rugged device, it will feature enhanced water resistance like that found on the original Xperia Z. So you folks who drop your phone in fluids (I don’t want to know what you drop your phone in, please don’t tell me) will have a little extra piece of mind that your handset might actually survive a two year contract.

the Z1 will ship with Android 4.2.2 alongside Sony’s custom skin and widgets, and availability is set for “later this month” No word yet on pricing and availability, but it will come in black, white, and purple, so that’s cool.

All the rest of the details on the Sony site.

IFA 2013: Sony delivers on Cyber-Shot QX10 and QX100 bolt on Camera Lenses – UPDATED

sony qx10 white camera accessory android ios cyber-shot somegadgetguySo many different tactics to improving mobile photography. Galaxy Cameras and Nokia Lumias wow us with their photo and video quality, but often come at the expense of additional bulk. Sometimes you just want to keep your phone as slim as possible, but want the option of a good camera when you need it. That’s literally Sony’s new approach for their pair of camera attachments the QX10 and QX100.

The QX10 is a 1/2.3″ point and shoot style 18.9MP CMOS image sensor with a 10X optical zoom. Lens aperture is a little on the slow side at f3.3, but Steady Shot image stabilization is included to help with low light sensitivity and motion blur.  The QX10 is available for pre-order for $249.99.

sony qx100 camera accessory android ios cyber-shot somegadgetguyThe QX100 is a step up, and includes a 1″ 20MP CMOS sensor. That’s roughly one third the size of an APS-C SLR sensor, which is HUGE for a phone accessory. You lose out on some zoom range, only a 3.6X zoom, but you make up for it with a light absorbing f1.8 max aperture and Steady Shot. This thing should be a low light monster. Pre-order price is $499.99.

Both attachments feature NFC+WiFi pairing, a really novel solution for combining this type of hardware to compatible phones. Currently Sony’s site only shows the Xperia Z as a compatible handset, yet the footnotes claim they’re “Compatible with virtually all iOS and Android smartphones. Smartphone case or protective cover may prevent attachment”.

This is an interesting approach to product engagement. The more open it is, the more likely consumers will play with Sony gear, and hopefully we’ll see more mindshare for Sony phones moving forward.

Full spec sheets for QX100 and QX10.

UPDATE

That was fast folks! The QX10 and QX100 are both already available for pre-order on Amazon. Get shooting folks!

Updated: The next version of Android to be called “Kit-Kat”? Plus Nexus 7 Giveaway!

Here we thought we were all SO CLEVER thinking the next version of Google’s mobile operating system would be called “Key Lime Pie”.

Well fresh from the Twitters, Senior VP in charge of Android and Chrome OS Sundar Pichai just posted this tweet:

For those not hip to Google Android names, every major revision of the OS is given a tasty dessert name. Starting with version 1.5 we’ve seen Cupcake, Donut, Eclair, Froyo, Gingerbread, Honeycomb, Ice Cream Sandwich, and we’re currently on Jellybean. This marks the first version of Android to use a proper product instead of a generic dessert name.

On a personal note, Kit-Kats (especially authentic British imports) are one of my fave candies.

UPDATED!

It looks like Kit-Kat is getting in on the fun too. The pair just launched The Android KitKat page, and are hosting the story of Android’s development, and the journey which took them to 1 billion activations. To celebrate they’re giving away a Nexus 7 and Google Play credit.

Is it wrong that I kinda wish I could win a Kit-Kat?

Google has posted the video of KitKat Droid’s statue being unveiled at the Google campus. Watch out around 37 seconds into the video to catch a glimpse of what might be the next Nexus phone!

MORE UPDATES: the video below just went private! Looks like someone at Google finally noticed the leaked Nexus?

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sMJ5APvE6uU&w=640&h=480]

Rumor: Samsung to release Galaxy Note 12 by years end?

move player net galaxy note 12 rumor renderComing out of South Korea, courtesy of MovePlayer.net, are reports of a leaked image of what could be a Galaxy Note 12. Now I’m not entirely sold on the idea of large tablets. Even at a fairly reasonable ten inches, larger tablets often become home convenience items. Gadgets used in comfort and safety, but rarely leaving the house.

What worries me even more is Samsung’s insistence on including hardware control buttons. On phones I think they’re great (if you include a menu key HTC), but even on a smaller tab like the Galaxy Note 8, they often felt like they were in the way, especially using the tab in landscape. This render shows those buttons below the screen in landscape. I’m not sold on that. I’d prefer Samsung use on-screen controls like the Nexus tablets so those controls move with the orientation of the screen.

Lastly, twelve inches doesn’t sound remarkably big, but that screen size can be somewhat cumbersome to hold. Discussing this rumor on Youtube, I demonstrated the difference between an iPad and my Lenovo Twist, a laptop which screen-swivels into a 12.5″ slate.

Rumors point to a 2560×1600 resolution display, which should look gorgeous on a screen this size. We’re all used to wimpy Ultrabook and Macbook Air low res displays around 13″. Plus since it’s called a “Note” we should see support for S-Pen.  Besides that we don’t really know much else about it.

If this is released it could be a really interesting, dare I say audacious, device, but I’ll be really curious to see how it performs out in the wild… Of my living room… because I’d probably never want to leave the house with it…

(via GSM Arena, Pic courtesy MovePlayer.net)

HTC to update all variations of One to 4.3 by end of September?

ATT HTC One Mini software update jelly bean 4_3If you’re checking out HTC Phones on AT&T, you’ll notice something a little curious. Firing up the One Mini you’ll see it’s running Android 4.2.2, which is a newer version of the operating system than the flagship full-sized One which is currently rocking 4.1.2. One of the biggest changes in the update can be seen on the right. The notification tray quick toggles for things like WiFi, Bluetooth, etc.

The update for 4.2.2 is already live in the UK, much to the chagrin of some One customers in the USA. Support for Android handsets has always been a dicey conversation. The relationship between Google, manufactures, and carriers can often delay support to end users. This support gets even more contentious when some phones are updated but others are not.

Apparently the Verizon version of the One will ship with 4.2.2 pre-installed. President of Global Sales Jason Mackenzie took a couple minutes to respond to some of the comments on Twitter.

Minor though it may be, it does include some nifty usability improvements like that aforementioned notification tray update. When pushed on the timing of this update Mr. Mackenzie replied:

And hopefully that’s what we’ll see. The changes between 4.1 and 4.2 and 4.3 weren’t substantial enough for Google to even change the name of the update. They’re all called “Jelly Bean”. Yet this still gives customers the impression that some are being left out in the cold. That they aren’t getting bug fixes and patches. Not a great feeling to have when you supposedly have a premier handset.

As I’m currently using the AT&T HTC One, I’ll be following up on coverage as soon as some kind of update reaches us.

Coming Soon: The Netatmo Urban Weather Station

netatmo urban weather station preview somegadgetguyWe recently moved, and we live closer to a highway now. We’re not in one of those areas being studied by scientists thankfully, but I’m still concerned about the effects of roadway pollution on our air quality.

Plus we moved to a hotter part of the Valley. Yikes.

I’m really curious to see how the netatmo Urban Weather Station performs. On the surface it’s a handy little way to see what the weather is like without all that pesky “opening a window” nonsense, but deeper than that it carries sensors to track air quality, humidity, CO2, and the audio level in side your home.

Handy weather and air quality reports tailored exactly to your home via a computer, Android, or iOS device.

Will report back once I’ve put it through its paces!

A Real Person Review: Mrs. GadgetGuy’s Thoughts on the Samsung Galaxy S4

galaxy s4 real person review somegadgetguy comparison long term (8)It’s important not to lose perspective when reviewing phones. You experience so many different devices that your threshold for “good” and “bad” gets severely fine. Occasionally I like to include other people on my long term reviews.

My wife Marie would never consider herself to be “tech savvy”, yet living in a household covered in glowing rectangles she does have some unique opinions on the technology she invests in. She’s spent some time playing with Samsung’s Super Phone the Galaxy S4. I asked her some questions about her experiences so far.

What phone/phones did you use before the GS4? Which have you liked? Which have you disliked?

galaxy s4 real person review somegadgetguy comparison long term (1)I’ved used the Blackberry, the Galaxy S2, the iPhone, and the Motorola Photon. I loved the Blackberry, but was soon totally addicted the the Galaxy S2. I know most iPhone devotees will disagree with me, but I found the S2 to be more intuitive to use than the iphone. The dedicated menu and back buttons really helped. I despised the Photon. It was an android, and had a hardware keyboard, so I thought I’d love it, but I didn’t. I never used the keyboard (it was too cumbersome). Despite resetting it and “turning it on and off,” I felt like it was really buggy much of the time.

Thoughts on build quality, design, and ergonomics of the GS4?

galaxy s4 real person review somegadgetguy comparison long term (9)The only issue I really had with the GS2 was it’s size. I have smaller hands and it felt huge. I’m told that the GS4 has a 5 inch screen and the GS2 only had a 4.5 inch screen and yet holding it in my hands, the GS2 felt really clunky. The GS4 feels really slim and it doesn’t cause people around me to ask if that is my “tablet”? It feels comfortable to hold and I can use it one handed (much easier when trying to answer the phone while walking the dog).

Just because I’m paranoid, I do keep a bumper on the phone, and I use screen protectors on all my phones. I want them to look proffesional when I have to use them at work.

How is the screen? Size good or bad? Have you used it for media or video?

galaxy s4 real person review somegadgetguy comparison long term (6)The screen is beautiful. I’m a big Netflix and Hulu watcher and the screen is really crisp and clear. I’m not bothered at all by the fact that it is a small screen because all the details are there to see. It’s replaced a lot of my tablet usage. It really is shocking compared to other phones I’ve used.

How does the phone perform? Has it locked or slowed down on you? App performance?

So far I have had none of the bugginess of the Photon. I use Google voice and it’s a pretty seamless transition. I haven’t had to “Turn it on and off again” to get things to work properly. I use pandora, google music, calendar apps, and the kindle app pretty regularly and I have had no issues. Also, since it’s an android, after updating the calendar on my phone, I can see and access those updates right away via any other device (desktop, tablet, etc). LOVE that.

Thoughts on the camera? What kinds of pics/video do you like to take? Does the GS4 camera accomplish that usage?

galaxy s4 real person review somegadgetguy comparison long term (3)I don’t really take a lot of pics and I’m not the photographer in the family (as I’m sure most readers are aware), so I can’t speak to all the various camera settings. I’ve tried a few, but wouldn’t be able to say if they made the picture better. I did notice this past weekend after taking a lot of pics in strange low-light, that most came out really well. In focus and clear.

Have you had an issues using WIFI GPS or NFC?

Sadly, I haven’t used the awesome NFC option yet. But I love knowing it’s there. I use Wifi pretty regularly and it’s easy and has always worked. It’s fast on our home cable internet connection. I’ve used several apps that would require GPS (Google Maps/Navigations, Waze, MyTracks, etc) and it has always been able to fire right up. It only has issues if I am not in a great signal area. So, not a problem with the phone.

How does the phone handle phone calls? Is the earpiece loud enough? Speakerphone?

Calls are clear. The speakerphone is loud enough to be heard clearly, but I prefer to use a headset option.

What do you think of the software that came pre-installed? Touchwiz UI? AT&T apps? Are menus easy to use/find? Settings?

galaxy s4 real person review somegadgetguy comparison long term (7)Menus are easy to find and use. I’ve played with them a bit more on this phone than any other because, again, they are pretty intuitive. I have not used any of the AT&T preset apps. I’ve been using the pre-installed keyboard and I have had no complaints. I like that auto-correct is not automatic. It offers a suggestion and I can choose that word if I want, but it won’t change it automatically.

It was easier going to the GS4 than trying out the Photon. There’s a ton more software on the GS4 than the GS2, but it looks “right”, like I know where everything is. I haven’t turned on gestures, but I like the eye tracking features. I keep my screen time out really short to save battery.

Speaking of, how has battery life been?

So far, I have been able to go all day with the phone without being worried about the battery. I do have to charge it every night, but that’s been pretty normal since leaving Blackberry.

galaxy s4 real person review somegadgetguy comparison long term (5)Any final thoughts? Do you enjoy using it? Does it feel like an upgrade over other phones you’ve used?

This phone definitely brings all the best aspects of the GS2, while fixing the minor issues I had with it. I have no complaints about this phone, and would definitely recommend it to friends and family. Especially if they are big Google app users. They work together so well.

Thanks Marie!

A Letter to HTC: The HTC One Mini isn’t THAT mini…

Dear HTC,

I like the One Mini a lot. I think you’ve largely succeeded in bringing a nicer experience to the mid range Android ecosystem. The fit and finish are outstanding, and in many ways it out shines its bigger brother One. There are a few things I’m going to be critical about when I wrap up my review, but honestly there aren’t any severe deal breakers here. It’s a great little phone.

You know what is bothering me about the HTC One Mini however? Your advertising for the phone.

You remember two sentences ago, when I said it was “…a great little phone”? The problem is, it’s not THAT little. In fact it’s ever so slightly bigger than the Moto X. This wouldn’t be a problem by itself. The phone IS smaller than the original One, so you have every right to call it the “Mini”. I guess I’m just a little disappointed to continue seeing press pictures of the Mini like this on your official HTC site:

htc one mini ad size comparison somegadgetguy

Nice! That makes the Mini look like it’s a tiny wunder-phone. A Mighty Mouse here to save the day from all of these gargantuan mini-tablets! Huzzah!

Unfortunately reality look more like this:

htc one mini size comparison somegadgetguy

Yeah… See that’s not what you showed us it would be. That’s actually pretty close in size to the original One. This is the problem with forced perspective and Photoshop. Moving the Mini in front of the One would actually make the One appear to be smaller as it would be slightly farther away from the “camera”. To recreate the size difference you showcase I actually had to move the One closer to the camera:

htc one mini size comparison faked somegadgetguy

I know, I know a LOT of tech has to be crammed in there like a 4.3″ 720p screen and those terrific Boomsound speakers. I get it. But you didn’t have to lie to us.

Ahem, I mean, you didn’t have to exaggerate the differences in size for dramatic effect.

Love,

SomeGadgetGuy

P.S.

Click here to watch my video first impressions of the HTC One Mini.