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…)

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…)

Do You Give a Sh*t About VR?

I don’t. But who am I? Every tech company on Earth thinks that you and I should care about VR. It’s the next tablet frontier, and you know, that went so well for Android OEMs.

VR is everywhere. Samsung is in on it – they have two Gear VR headsets now, each of which only works with a single phone. HTC partnered with Valve on one. Occulus is still doing its thing, we think. Sony is too. Don’t be surprised if LG takes a whack at it. Google is ready to bring Android to VR, reportedly. Companies are putting together “mind blowing” demos of it to sell the press on. Somehow, it’s working in that sense. Regular tech press (the smartphone-reviewing kind, not those at actual gaming conferences), who know so much about gaming and VR (that would be sarcasm), love VR. They all take front-facing selfies of VR headsets on their heads to be like, “I am VR. Blown mind is me. Great demo, guys!”  (more…)

5 Things Android Enthusiasts Care About Today

Last week I had the chance to hang out with Kellen and Tim while I was visiting family in Portland. One of the things that we talked about was what it was like to be an Android enthusiast back in 2009 and on. Back then, Android was about rooting, installing custom ROMs and kernels, customizing your device, and pushing the limits of the hardware.

It was also about not using an iPhone; at the time the iPhone was considered the state of the art device, and it would arguably continue to be a superior overall package for several years. While the iPhone had more apps and a more established ecosystem, the Motorola Droid boasted both a physical and software keyboard, real multitasking (it’s hard to remember now, but the iPhone didn’t get real multitasking until iOS 4), a higher resolution camera with a flash, customizable home screens with widgets, expandable storage, and a user-replaceable battery. It was the antithesis of the iPhone in so many ways, and those of us that used it were proud to say we didn’t use iPhones.

As I was reflecting on this, I began to wonder what it means to be an Android enthusiast today. How much has changed and how much has stayed the same? Read on for my top five things Android enthusiasts care about in 2015. (more…)