What’s New in Android 5.1? Here are a Few Things.

Yesterday, Google took the wraps off Android 5.1, which remains as Lollipop and is mostly an update that pushes performance improvements and bug fixes. With that said, there are still a whole bunch of subtle changes here and there that you will either appreciate or probably never notice unless someone were to point them out to you. New animations, tweaks to the way settings work, and better instructions in areas like Screen Pinning are a few of the new additions.  (more…)

Choosing the Best Smartphone Camera [Opinion]

Megapixels. Sensors. Aperture. White balance. Shutter Speed. Optical Image Stabilization. Ultrapixels. ISO. Bokeh. Exposure.

Every year we see new flagship phones released, followed by more buzz words explaining why each OEM has the best camera on their smartphone. If you are not a camera aficionado, seeing these kinds of words probably raises more questions than it does answers. Do I actually need optical image stabilization in my smartphone? This phone has a 20 megapixel camera compared to this one’s 8 megapixel camera, so the 20 megapixel camera is better, right? How do I cure the f-stop blues?

Here’s the truth: in the best lighting conditions, any modern smartphone can take decent pictures, but it does take some education to know which smartphone has the best camera in the most situations. My goal is not to give you a Photography 101 lecture, but rather, to give you some basic pointers so you can better understand what different manufacturer’s cameras are offering. Read on to find out a little bit about how cameras work, what marketing information actually matters, and what this all means when you are comparing smartphone cameras. (more…)

LG G Flex 2 Unboxing!

It only makes sense that the talk of the last few weeks has been focused on Samsung and HTC’s announcements at MWC. After all, they did give us the Galaxy S6, S6 Edge, and One M9, all of which should be incredible devices when they hit retail outlets. But let’s not forget that LG is giving us a new phone next week that was originally introduced at CES back in January. Yes, the LG G Flex 2 is still coming, if anyone is still interested. We picked one up, partly because we want to get our review out there for those interested in buying it, but also because we need something to pass the time while we wait for Samsung and HTC’s goodies to arrive. It has been too long since we had a new phone in house.  (more…)

4 Ways Samsung can Win Again With the Galaxy S6

Samsung is going to announce the Galaxy S6 on Sunday, we know that for a fact. They may even announce a Galaxy S6 Edge as well to add some depth or adventure to the “S” line. I don’t care what you say or think about Samsung and their TouchWiz and use of unapologetic plastics, they are still the phone manufacturer to set your sights on, and that includes these two new phones. Their new phones will be what everyone else measures up to. Apple will care. So will HTC and Motorola and LG and the little guys in China who are selling their phones for little margin. Samsung is still a really, really big deal. So with that and their horrific 2014 in mind, let’s talk about what we would like to see from that next-gen phone in order for it to be a massive winner to us.

The Galaxy S5 was, without sugar-coating it, a disaster. It wasn’t innovative. It wasn’t fresh. It wasn’t pretty. Samsung paid the price for that last year. With the Galaxy S6 and its slanted-edge brother, Samsung needs to do something very different. Sure, they can keep a similar silhouette or that obnoxious home button, but the rest needs to change.

Here are the things we would love to see in the next Galaxy, some of which is based off of teasers, leaks and rumors. (more…)

First 15 Apps I Install on Every New Android Device

As a part of this job, I have the (depending on how you look at it) pleasure of setting up new Android devices more often than any normal human should. The process, which has become much easier and more automated on Lollipop, can be both tedious and exciting. On one hand, you have to sign-in to every single app all over again, but on the other, you get to start playing with a brand new phone or tablet. For the most part, the joy of using a brand new phone outweighs the 20-30 minutes it may take to set it up.

Over the years, my setup process has become much tighter, leaner, and more efficient. Instead of installing a hundred or so apps with each new device that comes across my desk, I often only install a select few apps that I can’t live without. Since I tend to spend only a couple of weeks with a phone during a review period before sending it back to its owner, I’ve realized that I probably don’t need three different Twitter apps and a package tracker and credit card managers and four different photo editors.

These days, when I setup a device, I can get get by with a group of specific apps that you wouldn’t typically find pre-installed on a phone. Obviously, I’m a huge Google services user, but those related apps are all installed before I boot a new phone for the first time. If we look outside of those (Gmail, Hangouts, Maps, etc.), here are the first 15 I install every time.  (more…)

Show Off Your Watch Faces (and Smartwatches) Day! [February 2015]

Around 40% of you now own some sort of a smartwatch, according to a recent poll of ours. That means that 40% of you have an additional display outside of the one on your smartphone or tablet that can be customized! Yessir, it’s time to do a “Show off your watch faces” day, just like we do with home screens.

Since this is a new addition to our ongoing “show off” series, it will work slightly different. Because we want to see more than just your screen, this time we will ask that you take a picture of your smartwatch and then submit it through the comments. That way, we can see your watch face, watch, band of choice, and how it all plays together.

So down below, be sure to upload the picture of your watch, but then also tell us what the watchface, watch, and band are.

Ready?  (more…)