2014 is less than two weeks from being officially in the books. It has been a solid year for smartphone tech, especially on Android, though I’m not sure this year carried the same weight or significance as years past. Don’t get me wrong, it was a good year and a bunch of really great smartphones were released that will last a long time, I just don’t know how many of them will be all that memorable in a couple of years from now. With that said, we still need to decide who came out on top.
We saw follow-up flagships from all of the major players, like Samsung, Google, Motorola, LG, Sony, and HTC. None of them really took any chances, but they all still delivered phones that you would have no difficulty finding supporters of. Beyond the standard crew, we also saw Sony finally enter the US market while its newest flagship was still fairly fresh, and OnePlus made a big splash while pissing people off along the way. Like I just said – there were a ton of options, all of which were good in their own right.
We will have our DL staff top lists here shortly, but for now, we want to know the DL reader phone of the year. Who are you taking?
We know that not everyone here owns a Nexus device or new Moto X and has been basking in the beauty of Android 5.0 “Lollipop” for a couple of weeks. And since that is the case, that means that a lot of you are probably running Kit Kat or maybe even Jelly Bean (hopefully, nothing older). But, because this is Droid Life and we like to find out for sure through polls, we are going to do that now with a simple question of, “Which version of Android is your phone running?”
As the numbers roll in, it should be interesting to see how an Android community compares to Google’s official distribution numbers. On December 1, Google updated the numbers, showing KitKat at 33.9%, Jelly Bean at 48.7%, Ice Cream Sandwich at 7.8%, and Gingerbread at 9.1%. I would venture to guess that these will be much different. Still, let’s see!
Over the last couple of years, we have really tried to open everyone’s mind to the idea that there are options outside of carrier contracts and the subsidy phone discount. From covering the best prepaid providers to talking about full retail phone prices and the initial launch of carrier device payment plans, you should all be well versed on the methods available for buying a new phone without a lengthy agreement. But even with all of that coverage, some of you are perfectly happy with the subsidy model and do not have a problem buying a phone on-contract or you are using the last few work-arounds remaining to keep things like unlimited data plans. And you know what? There is nothing wrong with that.
This morning, though, I was listening to Verizon CFO Fran “ShamWow” Shammo speak at a conference about the current trends in wireless, which just so happen to be device payment plans. Verizon has Edge, T-Mobile has Jump, and AT&T has Next, to name a few. Shammo insisted that while they will continue to offer Edge, 70% of their customers still to this day choose the subsidy model.
And that got me thinking – I wonder what the DL community is trending towards? Are you still locked into a wireless contract or are you now fully month-to-month?
Throughout the day, thanks to topics like the Nexus 6 having encryption that can’t be turned off without taking matters into your own hands, we have seen the emergence of a healthy discussion around the topic of tinkering. When we say “tinkering,” we are talking about understanding adb commands, flashing recoveries or images or ROMs, and generally deciding that you can make your phone better than it is out of the box. As the conversation has grown, a number of readers have taken it back to what we used to consider to be the initial step in becoming a tinkerer, and that’s through rooting a phone. And that thought has revived this poll question, which we try to run at least once a year, but haven’t seen December of 2013. In other words, it’s time.
So, let’s do this. In the poll below, all you have to do is answer by choosing if you are “rooted” or “non-rooted.” From there, to continue this conversation, feel free to jump into the comments section and talk about the phone you own, if you are rooted or non-rooted, why you fall into either of those categories, etc.
As you may have noticed, a whole lot of app updates have hit Google Play this past month, bringing Material Design aesthetics to all Android users, not just those lucky enough to already have Lollipop.
To list a couple of the more major updates, Gmail, Play Store, Play Music, and Maps got very updated looks, but then you have apps like Drive, Docs, Slides, and Wallet that not only received new looks, but new features as well. Each update was very important for that exact app.
Our question today is quite simple – which one has been your favorite so far?
If you still don’t have a few of these updated apks, follow the links to our previous write ups above where we provide the apk files when available.
How many hours per day do you spend looking at your phone? That’s essentially what we are looking for when we ask, “What is your typical screen on time in a day?” Actually, it’s deeper than that, because it’s a metric (if you can call it that) that we look at while doing reviews to give you a sense of the battery life we are getting with a particular device.
I can tell you that I average around two hours of screen on time per day, but that can jump up to three or four hours during a review period. I would consider myself to be a pretty average user, since I sit at a computer doing most of my work during the day, with the phone acting as a sidekick until it becomes my main computing device at night. But I know that many of you are using your phones for everything, from the minute you wake up until the minute you lay your head on a pillow. With that type of use, I can imagine that five hours could be average.
So, let’s find out what the official Droid Life average is for screen on time.
For those new, you can find screen on time by jumping into Settings>Power/Battery and then tapping on “Screen” in the list of items gobbling up battery power.
Google has done something with the Nexus 6 that we weren’t sure we would ever see – compatibility and availability with every major wireless carrier in the US. In case you missed the wildness of last week’s Nexus 6 announcement, just know that you should be able to buy the new Nexus phone and use it on AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, US Cellular, and Verizon. Yes, that says “Verizon.” We don’t have pricing or launch dates from many of the carriers (T-Mobile says November 12), but all have confirmed in some way or another that they plan to carry the phone. Verizon confirmed directly to us, even though they didn’t issue a press release.
So now that you got your wish – carrier choice with a Nexus phone – it’s time to tell us which carrier you plan to use the Nexus 6 on.
Thanks to numerous polls we have conducted in the past, we know where on the list of importance your phone having a microSD card is; extremely high. In fact, we have many readers who will apparently skip a device entirely if it does not feature expandable storage, but for others, it is much less of a deal breaker.
With Google and Motorola releasing the Nexus 6 with only two models, a 32GB and 64GB storage option, the lack of a microSD card slot may be a big deal. For the larger 64GB storage option, the price goes up another $50 to $699, which could be a deterrent to a few potential buyers. Keep in mind, 32GB of onboard storage will likely leave you with 22-27GB depending on the size of the system.
To make this short, we want to know what you need all of that additional microSD storage for. Do you need to have your music library with you at all times, unwilling to use precious data to stream it? Do you need countless photo galleries on your person at all times? Do you enjoy downloading large file games to your device?
The question is, what has you folks absolutely needing a microSD card on your phone? In the comments, please feel free to elaborate on your particular situation.