It’s 2015, Why Do All Android Phones Still Include a “But”

The year is 2015 and we still don’t have a perfect smartphone. I’d argue that there isn’t even a phone that is all that close to being perfect. I’m not saying that all of today’s phones are bad, because most are very, very good and you will probably be satisfied with whatever you choose. But every single one of them includes a big “but.” Hear me out.

Over the past few years, we have seen display technology from Samsung that looks more life-like than your TV and is mindblowingly good. We have seen processors reach PC-like power and efficiency levels. RAM is insanely fast. The Galaxy Note 5 has 4GB of it, people. 4GB. Storage is also faster than ever before. We even have fast wireless charging now! Cameras are reaching point-and-shoot territory. No, smartphone cameras are coming close to eclipsing some point-and-shoots. Metals are being used. Glass is too. Phones look like high-end watches or jewelry, yet do more than a computer in many instances. Technology is, well, pure awesome right now. So why is it that every single Android manufacturer can’t make us the perfect phone.

Why isn’t there a perfect option right now?   (more…)

Near Future Consternation [Opinion]

A lot of people seem to be upset that the OnePlus 2 does not have NFC. As we all know, OnePlus likes to talk a big game. They are the ones who “#neversettle,” after all. But how can this flagship killer actually kill flagships without NFC? Why not just include it?

Here’s the thing – Near Field Communication, or NFC as the kids are calling it these days, simply doesn’t matter in 2015. I want you to come with me on a journey back to yesteryear. No, literally, think back to 2014. Everyone thought that once Apple added NFC to the iPhone, NFC would become a big deal. The teens would be bumping their phones to exchange contacts, every single store in America would support mobile payments, and all of the big issues plaguing our country would be solved.

Well, it’s been almost a year since NFC was added to the iPhone exclusively for contactless payments and you can still hardly use it anywhere. Even major businesses like Starbucks are continuing to use barcodes for payment like it’s 2011. And it isn’t just Apple’s problem. While Android phones have been able to pay for things with Google Wallet and myriad of other services, most stores still want a credit card. (more…)

I’m Using the Nexus 6 Right Now…and Dammit, I Kind of Like It

I reviewed the Nexus 6 some eight months ago now, saying that it was the best Nexus yet and that everyone should try to get their hands on it at some point to see if they could handle the whale-like size. That was one of the last times I spent serious time with “shamu,” because for me, this big of a phone is just too much to handle. And not only that, but the Galaxy S6 arrived shortly after, a phone that I still would consider to be the best phone you can currently buy.

Over the last couple of weeks, though, something happened to my T-Mobile Galaxy S6. It has become a total lagfest of a disaster that needs constant reboots and RAM wipes and task kills in order to function. I don’t know why this is happening, but I’m leaning towards blaming the Android 5.1.1 update that it received in mid-June. My unlocked Galaxy S6 that is still on 5.0.2 seems to be fine.

Because of the recent frustrations that the Galaxy S6 gods have pushed down upon me, I’ve found myself firing up a Nexus 6. I couldn’t tell you what brought me this way instead of to the G4 or Moto X or variety of other phones on my desk (that’s a lie, I’m about to tell you why), but this is where I’m at. And you know what, as big of a sea creature as this may be, I’m kind of liking it at the moment. Like, really liking it.  (more…)

Tuesday Poll: How Often Do You Upgrade Phones?

It’s 2015 and almost all of your options for upgrading to new phones while keeping unlimited data through places like AT&T or Verizon have been killed off. I would imagine that in order to upgrade these days and not fork out $600 up front, many of you have decided to give up on unlimited and either sign a new contract or go with a device payment plan. This is the unfortunate and sad world we live in.

Because of this potential change, there is a chance that many of you are upgrading at much different intervals than you have in the past. When we asked you two years ago how often you upgraded, the majority of you said, “Every 2 years.” Then last year, we asked the same thing and  you either all won the lottery or decided that smartphones were worth spending cash on and said “whenever I see a new phone.”

Today, we want to see if anything has changed. Are you still upgrading whenever you want or are you waiting for your specific upgrade dates through payment plans or contracts?

How Often Do You Upgrade Phones?

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Can We Get a Better Digital Assistant Without Violating Our Privacy? [Opinion]

AI, or artificial intelligence, is an old idea, but it’s still probably the most important technological leap that we’ve yet to make. We’ve been inching closer with things like Google Now, Siri, and Cortana, but we are still so far away. As we inch closer, though, there’s an implementation battle happening. The question we have been asking for the past few years is whether Google will get better at design faster than Apple will get better at web services. I think the new question we need to wrestle with is, can Apple make better apps and services without violating our privacy faster than Google can do so by hoarding all of our information and possibly violating our privacy?
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Google Photos: Privacy Nightmare or Memory Bliss? [Opinion]

Google announced a lot of neat things at Google I/O last week, but the most news worthy item, in my opinion, has by far been Google Photos. The app/service is stunning for its ability to not only store all of your photos and videos for free, but also for creating animated GIFs, highlight videos, collages, and most importantly, letting you search through your images based on the content. It’s an insanely great product, but all of those features have been decried by some of the media over privacy concerns. Sure, Google lets you search through all of your photos based on the location, people in them, objects in them, etc., but that just means Google will be selling advertisements based on your photos, right?

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Why I Will Forever Continue to Buy Unlocked Phones

I love unlocked phones. I really can’t see myself sticking with a carrier-branded or locked phone at any time in the near future. In fact, if I have it my way, I’ll never buy another for personal use. Unlocked phones are the phones I regular choose as my day-to-day devices because they not only offer incredible value, but they are filled with added bonuses you may not realize unless someone points them out to you. They are the phones for tinkerers, for tech nerds, for early adopters, and also for those looking for the best bang for their buck.

This is why.  (more…)

Smartwatches Aren’t Smart Enough

Smartwatches are back in the news again thanks to Apple’s latest event, and it has me thinking about a topic that I am tired of thinking about. It’s not necessarily that I don’t want a smartwatch or that I can’t see their prospective usefulness, but rather, much of the press seems to be going through the motions of gazing out at the distant future and hoping it appears on the latest wearable.

Almost everyone seems to agree that Apple failed to provide a story for the product, or the ideal reason why we should want an Apple Watch, which has led to some people remaining skeptical until they try it and others waxing on about how it, unlike Android Wear, is going to change everything. It’s that second group that I’m growing weary of. I keep hearing stories about how the Apple Watch is going to save so much time, and how it will enable us to be more personable since we won’t be looking at our phones anymore, and how it will remove friction from our lives when we use our watch for everything.

Are smartwatches really the thing that will make us better conversationalists, use our phone less, and get more work done? Let’s take a look at some of the promises we have been hearing about smartwatches and examine just how viable they are. (more…)