DROID Turbo Review

The DROID brand deserves the majority of credit for the amount of early success that the Android operating system had in 2009 and 2010. From the original Motorola DROID to the original DROID Incredible, this was the brand of phones that people flocked to if they wanted a phone outside of the iPhone, not just because of a great marketing campaign, but because these were top of the line phones. Ask most of the readers on this site which phone got them started on Android, and you shouldn’t be surprised to hear them say, “The OG DROID.” It’s an iconic phone that helped launch Android to the top.

But as the years have flown by, the DROID brand’s popularity has diminished, largely due to the Samsung Galaxy takeover and other competitors focusing on releasing a single flagship phone across all carriers. DROID has always been there, but it doesn’t seem to have been given the attention it had in early years. The DROID brand, since 2011, has become watered down, stale, and if I’m being honest, kind of annoying, leaving it with little influence.

And then came the DROID Turbo, a device that beats almost every other phone spec-for-spec, has ditched the red robotic eye and obnoxious “Drooooooooooid!” sounds, and doesn’t look like the Terminator designed it. It’s still a bit flashy depending on the color you choose, but it feels durable, can probably take a bullet, and is a serious competitor in a crowded space. It also might be the DROID phone you have been looking for, after all these years.

This is our DROID Turbo review.  (more…)

Nexus 9 Review

It has been almost two years since the release of the Nexus 10, which first hit shelves on November 13, 2012. For anyone who has been wanting to use a Nexus tablet larger than a Nexus 7, Google has definitely been testing your patience. Fast forward to today and we finally have a new Nexus slate, made in partnership between Google and HTC of all companies, which stopped making tablets for the US market a tad over two years ago.

The Nexus 9 is supposedly HTC’s new “commitment” to the tablet market, and I have to tell you, using an HTC-made Nexus device is somewhat like shaking hands with a dear old friend. HTC’s last venture in the Nexus category was with the original Nexus phone many years ago, so it is nice to see them partnered with Google once again.

Officially, this is the first publicly available device to run Android 5.0 “Lollipop,” also coming powered by NVIDIA’s 64-bit Tegra K1 processor and 2GB of RAM. That alone is enough to excite any Android fan, so you can imagine my desire to dive into the tablet as quickly as possible.

We have been fortunate enough to take the Nexus 9 for a spin over the weekend, and we are ready to deliver our verdict on whether this should be your next slate.

This is our Nexus 9 review. (more…)

Sony Xperia Z3 Compact Review

I love Sony’s current approach to smartphones. They start with a flagship phone that has top tier specs to compete with anyone. But then to compliment that phone and appease those of us who don’t like oversized phones, they release a smaller, “compact” version that doesn’t lack in any department. These “compact” phones are flagship-level devices, unlike the “mini” phones that LG and Samsung tend to release each year as alternatives to their own flagships.

As you all know, I can’t stand the trend of smartphones these days, which is to constantly make everything as big as possible. (No, folks, bigger is not always better.) Sony gets that. And this year, they are proving that by releasing the Xperia Z3 Compact, a smaller, but equally impressive version of the Xperia Z3.

The Compact line from Sony is not new to me, as I tested the Z1 Compact earlier this year for a month or so. All I can say after using both it and the Z3 Compact is that I wish more manufacturers would do similar things with smaller phones. They feel amazing in hand, can be used with one hand, and are a fantastic option. Let’s talk about this particular model in more detail.

This is our Sony Xperia Z3 Compact review.  (more…)

Samsung Galaxy Alpha Review

After being announced by Samsung, the Galaxy Alpha was a device we saw unexpected excitement for. Maybe it is the new design language Samsung implemented for the hardware, or the fact it features decent specs in a smaller package, but many people across the web seemed interested in the device, so we decided to pick one up and try it for ourselves.

Having spent my time with an iPhone 6 before the Galaxy Alpha, the smaller size was no big deal, as I was already accustomed to a display smaller than 5″. However, making that jump between iOS and Android was a weird one, as the operating systems are certainly very different from each other, but it felt great to be back on Android. Plus, given that a few in this industry labeled the Galaxy Alpha as an “iPhone Killer,” I was excited to see if the phone could live up to that hype.

This is our Galaxy Alpha review.  (more…)

iPhone 6 Review

In short, the iPhone 6 is not the phone for me. Shocker, right?

I spent the last two weeks with the iPhone 6 by my side out of both curiosity and to become even more familiar with Android’s biggest competitor. I have seen all that iOS 8 has to offer (at least at this point). I have experienced Apple’s finest. I have experienced Apple’s vision for Android. Yes, I just said that.

If there are two conclusions that I can take from this experience, it’s that I now understand why millions upon millions of people want this phone each year, but also that I am still confused at the obsessive, often times obnoxious, need for all-things-Apple, especially involving the iPhone. This is a nice phone, don’t get me wrong. However, this is not something to obsess over or to use as a prop to help you look down upon people who don’t own one. The iPhone is not a status symbol. You should not stand in lines for days to own one. It’s a really good smartphone – it just isn’t the best smartphone. It certainly isn’t running the best mobile OS.

Here are some final thoughts to put this experiment to bed.  (more…)

Moto X Review (2nd Generation)

Last year’s Moto X earned “Top Android Phone of 2013” honors from our staff even though it had some pretty major flaws. With its below-average 720p display and mostly-terrible camera, the overall package still bested the rest of smartphones in the game, thanks to its perfect size, Moto Maker customizations, and incredible software add-ons from Motorola. So what happens when Motorola takes what it created from last year’s best Android phone and tries to improve it in all areas, especially those two we just mentioned? You get the Moto X (2nd generation).

With generation two, Motorola has gone with a bigger 1080p display, because that’s what their research showed that people want. They also tossed in a 13MP camera, premium metal frame, and added options like Leather to Moto Maker, but managed to keep a phone that looks and acts very similar to last year’s model. So did Motorola get it right again? Let’s find out.

This is our Moto X (2nd generation) review.  (more…)