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…)

OnePlus One Review

The OnePlus One has grabbed more headlines over the past few months than almost any other phone outside of an iPhone. Some of them have been good, many have been, well, not so good. The phone boasts incredibly good specs with an equally good price point, yet the world isn’t able to buy one because OnePlus can’t seem to get their sh*t together. Apologies for the strong words, but this phone had the potential to be a game changer, yet here we are months after it was announced and the general public still cannot buy it.

We were lucky enough to pick one up because this is what we do for a living, but that also made this review quite difficult. You see, we have had our OnePlus for almost two months now and have absolutely enjoyed every minute with it. The problem is, reviewing it seemed silly if none of you could buy one for yourselves after we said our piece. Thankfully, more invites are about to open and a handful of readers have begun asking for this review in case they get the chance to buy one.

So, here you go – this is our OnePlus One review.  (more…)

LG G3 Review

Quad HDs. Lasers. Floating Arcs. Q all the things. LG has filled its new G3 flagship with so many keywords and flashy marketing terms that you can’t help but give it a look. And you know what, you would be a fool not to give it more than a look.

LG has slowly been rebuilding its reputation over the last couple of years, partly with the help of Google and the Nexus brand, but also thanks to last year’s G2 and some of its recently released tablets. The Korean company has even tried to become the alternative to Samsung and those looking for something different. LG wants to be taken seriously, so they are playing with design ideas (rear buttons), testing out new materials (self-healing backs), and of course, pushing out new display types often (think of the curved panel in the G Flex).

The LG G3 feels like the culmination of all that LG has worked for. It introduces new technologies, its accompanying marketing plan is taking direct shots at Samsung, and they finally have people truly excited about one of their products. It’s time to take a long look at whether or not LG has ultimately succeeded.

This is our LG G3 review.  (more…)

Samsung Galaxy S5 Review

The first half of the last two years has been all about the competition between HTC and Samsung’s new flagships. This year, the battle became testier than ever thanks to HTC calling out Samsung for what it perceived to be a lack of innovation and the continued use of plastics in its Galaxy S5. While you could argue that HTC is either wrong or right, there is no denying the continued success of all things Samsung, with the Galaxy S5 likely only continuing the trend.

We aren’t necessarily going to try to settle the battle between these two (that is up for you to decide in the end), but after having reviewed HTC’s new One (M8), it is now time for us to share our thoughts on Samsung’s Galaxy S5. Tim and I have spent three weeks with the phone, so as you can imagine, we feel like we have a pretty good grasp on everything it has to offer. And just like with our M8 review, we have tag-teamed this one.

This is our Galaxy S5 review.  (more…)

HTC One (M8) Review

HTC is back this year, with a new flagship device titled the One (M8). Last year’s One (M7) was mostly well-received, as the company announced they would be refocusing more on creating the best device possible and stepping away from over-the-top marketing and flooding of the market with mid-range devices. The company wants the consumer to do the marketing for them, and as we all know, word of mouth is by far the strongest form of advertising.

In 2014, major devices are on the roadmap from all of the top OEMs such as Samsung, Apple, Motorola, and LG. If HTC wants to remain competitive, it is without question that the One (M8) would need to blow the socks off of anyone who touched it. It needs the right specs, the right features, and the right build quality.

While the company was able to do most of these things, the M8 did fall somewhat short in a few categories, but if you have been paying attention, there is no shortage of people willing to argue that the One (M8) is one of the greatest smartphones ever made.

Both Tim and I have had more than a week with the One (M8), so we have tag-teamed our full review, going over the pros and cons of the device.

This is our HTC One (M8) review.  (more…)