Ugh, Smartwatches.

I’ve spent the better part of the last year or so with a smartwatch or smart something-or-other strapped to my wrist. It has been a miserable experience. From Android Wear to Pebble to Apple Watch to Samsung’s new Tizen-powered Gear S2, I think it’s safe to say that I’m smartwatch’d out. I need a break. My wrist needs an immediate break or I might snap.  (more…)

OnePlus, Stop Apologizing, and Just Make Your Phone Available

To begin, I would like to share a quote, first spoken by Lao Tzu. “The flame that burns twice as bright burns half as long.” To me, these few words speak volumes with regard to the way new companies on the block market themselves. Everything is “hype” this and “never settle” that. The fact of the matter is, getting people excited for an unreleased product is incredibly easy. Yell out a few top-tier specs, then slap on an affordable price and boom, now you have the entire Android community praising you.

But then you make the most incredibly poor decisions with marketing, such as a “sexist” contest, destroying perfectly good phones when they should be donated to those in need, and most importantly, not delivering on what you promised for a second year in a row.

If you need me to connect the dots for you, I’m talking about OnePlus(more…)

Thoughts on the Galaxy Note 5 from an iPhone User [Opinion]

Late last year I was sitting in my car playing with my tiny iPhone 5c. I had just finished reviewing the Sony Z3v and it dawned on me. I missed Android. I started messaging with everyone at Droid Life and within a few minutes I decided I was going to switch to Android. I have an upgrade coming up in October so I figured I would upgrade to the Note 5 since it would be the latest phone out then. Then I got to spend some time with the Galaxy S6. It was a great phone with some shortcomings, but surely the Note 5 would be the phone for me.

More time passed and I continued to evaluate. Would the Note 5 meet my needs? Can I live with a more advanced OS that doesn’t get apps or updates first? Can I give up iMessage for SMS? I had lots of questions and few answers. Read on to get my impressions of the Galaxy Note 5 and what I decided.  (more…)

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?

View Results

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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?
(more…)