Last Thursday, I started a 6-day vacation to Victoria, BC that was booked months in advance, partly because the trip involved being on hand to cheer on a family member during her Iron Man, but also because no one launches phones in June and it was thought to be a safe bet to be away. Silly Kellen. Moto(rola) and Lenovo announced the Moto Z and Moto Z Force on Thursday, while OnePlus took some time yesterday to unwrap the OnePlus 3. Yes, my trip managed to not only overlap two major phone announcements, but WWDC was packed in there too, for good measure.
Since I was away for most of the fun and Tim took on all tasks, I was able to watch from a distance and form some opinions on how these two phone launches went. I’ll just say this – there are two blueprints here for launching a phone and only one of them is even close to being right, while the other is about as bad as it gets. (more…)
With Motorola on the verge of announcing its newest phone fit with modular capabilities and LG having just come off a an opening month or two where it introduced its take on a modular phone, I think it’s clear that smartphone makers have realized that in order to survive going forward, they need to do something new. It’s time to innovate again. It’s time to take chances, offer more value in new ways, make phones more than just phones, and move beyond the simple, slab smartphone that just gets the basics right. The smartphone world needs something new, something fresh. The last thing it needs are a bunch of devices that the average consumer can’t tell apart but seem to fit a tech media narrative of what they view as success or good.
Many of your favorite smartphone makers, outside of Samsung, are struggling and have been for years. Since the early gold rush to Android supremacy four and five years ago, the industry has matured, maybe even plateaued, and made it extremely difficult for anyone to succeed. Companies like Samsung and Apple are still doing quite well as they established dominance long ago and haven’t given it up, partially because they have massive marketing budgets, but also because they keep making great products that mean something to owners of them. For companies like Motorola and LG, they can’t compete with that reputation or marketing budget by just doing the same old thing. And that right there is why I’m glad that they are both taking chances by going this modular route. (more…)
If you are at all considering an Android tablet purchase at the moment, feel free to stop. I say that because in a couple of weeks, Android apps and the Google Play store will arrive on select Chromebooks. By the end of the year, those same apps will arrive on dozens and dozens of additional Chromebooks at varying prices and in a variety of forms, some of which can emulate a tablet experience. This major move of Android apps onto Chromebooks from Google has all but eliminated the need for Android tablets to even exist.
Let me explain. (more…)
Here’s a pro tip on a Wednesday – stop buying Motorola and Verizon’s exclusive DROID phones if you care at all about software updates or security. I say that because Motorola and Verizon don’t seem to care about keeping them up-to-date, even as Google and the rest of the Android industry are at least doing their best to provide timely security patches. Not only are owners of these phones missing out on new features, but they are susceptible to non-patched security vulnerabilities that most phones are protected from.
Marketed as the ultimate flagships when they launch, the DROID brand of phones have become laughing stocks in terms of support. At this point, we are well beyond blaming Motorola’s thinned out support staff and Verizon’s notoriously slow update approval or testing process. This is borderline offensive and should deter you from even considering a Turbo 3 or whatever robotic name these two cook up and sell you on later this year. (more…)
LG went big this year with the G5 flagship in introducing a modular design, a concept that many in the Android world have been excited about, thanks to similar efforts such as Project Ara. Unfortunately for LG, and essentially anyone who decides to purchase this phone, LG forgot one major aspect of making a modular phone — the actual modules. (more…)
If Nexus rumors are your life, you will already know that reports have been circulating, claiming that HTC has be chosen by Google to create this year’s Nexus device. In those reports, it was even written that HTC would make not just one, but two Nexus devices for 2016. When these reports first surfaced, I thought to myself, “Crap, guess I won’t be buying any Nexus phones this year.”
To me, HTC’s past attempt at a Nexus device, the Nexus 9 tablet, was one of the more underwhelming tablet experiences I have had. It’s just boring. Looking back at it, I wouldn’t necessarily say it was HTC’s fault, but Android in general is ridiculously shallow on tablets. However, with the latest software tweaks we have seen from Android N, maybe that will change soon.
My point is, HTC might be making this year’s Nexus device, and after seeing the HTC 10, I don’t think I’m as disappointed as I was when the rumor first hit the street. Let me explain why. (more…)
As the Android ecosystem has grown, it’s become apparent that many Android users, some of our readers included, are splitting up into what I see as cliche cliques. Years ago, when I first started visiting Droid Life as just a reader, we all united behind a common goal. That goal was to essentially show iOS users that our seedling mobile OS was going to be awesome, one day running on the majority of smartphones throughout the world. After all, iPhone users were the apparent pompous elitists who poo-pooed anything other than iOS.
It’s 2016 now, and wouldn’t you know, Android is massive. In late 2015, Google revealed that there were 1.4 billion Android activations to date across the globe, and undoubtedly, that number continues to grow each day. The issue is, not all of these activations are the same phone, or even close for that matter, while iOS activations are united by similarities with each phone released by Apple. Each year, the iPhone sees a slight hardware and software upgrade, and each year, the same people upgrade to it. It’s basically an ever-growing family of people with the same smartphone experience. On Android, the experience on each phone differs greatly, and because of this, Android users of one particular phone will see users of a different phone as an enemy. They will argue about specifications, hardware design, software updates, OEM skins, and the list goes on. (more…)
Yes, Samsung, as the world’s largest smartphone manufacturer, you should be able to release an unlocked version of your flagship phones. Apple does it. Google certainly does it. Hell, even Motorola and HTC are doing it these days. Why aren’t you? Seriously, why aren’t you? If it’s a carrier issue, get the f*ck out of here. You are big enough that you shouldn’t be giving in to all carrier demands. Of course, we’re pretty sure you are, just look at the bloatware and branding all over the US carrier variants of the phones you sell. That’s really unfortunate. (more…)