I have a love-hate relationship with Samsung’s smartphones. I love the displays and, feature spam aside, many of Samsung’s software enhancements offer great features on top of Google’s Android platform. But I hate Samsung’s plasticky housings that make the phones feel like cheap toys compared to devices like the HTC One and iPhone 5s, and I also often find Samsung’s phones to be oversized. The Galaxy Note 3 changed none of that; the screen is gorgeous, the Note-specific software features are great, the build feels cheap and plasticky, and the device is far too gigantic to be used comfortably. So why can’t I put it down? More →
Apple’s iPhone 5s represents the biggest “S” upgrade an iPhone has ever seen. The guts of the phone have been completely overhauled, just as BGR exclusively reported they would be back in May. Beyond the internals, Apple’s new Touch ID fingerprint scanner also makes the 5s the first “S” upgrade ever to include a major new user-facing hardware feature. The processor is better, two of the color options are new, the battery lasts longer, the camera takes better photos and even the display is slightly easier on the eyes thanks to its cooler tone. But as a total package in the context of being an upgrade from last year’s iPhone model, Apple’s iPhone 5s may very well be the least impressive jump to date. More →
Top smartphone makers have a bit of a problem. They got so good at selling smartphones that there aren’t enough people left to buy them at the amazing pace the market has enjoyed over the past few years. The smartphone market is still monstrous, of course, but growth is key and growth is slowing. So for market leaders like Apple and Samsung, it’s time to look for the next big thing. According to a growing number of industry watchers, that “next big thing” is smartwatches and annual sales are already projected to explode into the hundreds of millions of units in the coming years. But are all these companies just trying to make fetch happen, or are wrist-worn devices like Samsung’s new Galaxy Gear smartwatch really the future of mobile computing? More →
Samsung has a problem, but the first step on the road to recovery is admitting it. There are a few common themes that characterize all of Samsung’s recent flagship devices. They all feature positively gorgeous displays packed into plasticky hardware that typically feels cheap and flimsy. They all are met with tons of hype when they launch, and they all rack up huge sales numbers. And finally, they all have a problem that we here at BGR have taken to calling “feature spam,” where Samsung packs as many new features as it can into each new device. This troubling trend keeps Samsung from focusing on truly innovative and useful hero features, and from offering services that lock customers into its ecosystem. But things may soon change for the better. With the new Galaxy Note 3, Samsung has finally begun to pump the brakes and recognize that overstuffing its devices with gimmicky features might not be the best approach. More →
Apple took the wind out of a lot of sails when it unveiled the iPhone 5c earlier this month. It’s not that the device itself was disappointing — quite the contrary, in fact. Apple’s new iPhone 5c is exactly what we were expecting it to be after months of rumors and leaked parts. In a nutshell, it’s an iPhone 5 wrapped in a new plastic shell that comes in five bright new colors. But of course there is much more to Apple’s colorful new smartphone than meets the eye. While some pundits spent days following the 5c’s unveiling discussing how much of a departure it is from the Apple of old, that notion really couldn’t be any further from the truth. In fact whether or not Apple itself knew this when it first debuted the iPhone back in 2007, the iPhone 5c was an inevitability. More →
Apple’s task in renovating its mobile platform with iOS 7 could not have been more difficult. In every sense of the phrase, it would be a balancing act. iOS is one of the most popular computing platforms in the world and when it comes to revamped operating systems, users are beyond finicky.
It’s far too easy for companies to fail.
On one hand, you have something like Windows 8, which was too new. Longtime Windows users didn’t know what to make of the new tile-based Start screen and they panicked. As a result, Windows 8 went nowhere fast.
On the other hand, you have a platform like BlackBerry 10, which was far too now. BlackBerry’s latest mobile software indeed features a fresh coat of paint, but it doesn’t really add any compelling new features that rival platforms are lacking.
LG really surprised me with the Optimus G in 2012, and I was hoping history would repeat itself with the brand new LG G2 in 2013. The company has always built good phones, but the Optimus G was an unexpected class leader with cutting-edge specs, sleek software, solid performance and fantastic hardware made mostly of glass. It was an awesome smartphone. When LG unveiled the smartphone’s successor last month though, it raised a lot of eyebrows. The vendor spent a surprising amount of time focusing on trivialities like the phone’s volume and power buttons, which have been moved to the back of the device, and it really failed to wow us with exciting new features. But now that the G2 is hitting store shelves in the U.S., is there more to this phone than meets the eye? More →
The Moto X is a big bet for Google and Motorola. It’s a phone that wouldn’t have existed if Google had not paid $12.5 billion for Motorola over a year and a half ago, and one that lets Google introduce its vision of a mass-market Android smartphone without taking center stage. In a world filled with everything from major smartphone manufacturers to non-name white-box vendors producing Android devices, why and how does this new flagship phone from Motorola shine through? It all boils down to something very Googley — data.
Google uses data like no other company, and with the Moto X it took an average of what screen size is acceptable to most consumers, the most comfortable shape of the phone based on data from focus groups, and features that exist just to try to fix statistical problems. One example is how, on average, we check our phone for the current time more than 50 times a day.
The most impressive thing to me about the Moto X though, is how un-Googley it feels. It’s a phone that actually has character, purpose and meaning, even though it was created in a test tube. It doesn’t feature the most mind-blowing hardware and it’s not the fastest Android phone in the world, but it doesn’t need to be.
It just needs to be the first iPhone of the Android world, and here is why it delivers on that.
Reviewing Nokia phones hasn’t been easy over the past two years. It’s not that the company’s phones were bad or overly complex in some way, it’s just that we have been hoping for so much more than Nokia has been able to deliver. The Nokia Lumia 800 was a great start. The Lumia 900 was a solid follow-up and the Lumia 920 and Lumia 928 were better still. But the real problem with Nokia’s Lumia smartphone lineup has always been that while Nokia and Windows Phone in general offer plenty of nice features, they don’t really offer any compelling differentiation compared to Android and iOS, which rule the global smartphone market with an iron fist. With the Nokia Lumia 1020, that finally changes — but will it be enough? More →
When asked to list the top smartphone brands in the country, most people would rattle off a combination of the usual suspects. Apple… Samsung… LG… Nokia… HTC… BlackBerry… Sprint? While the nation’s No.3 carrier certainly doesn’t belong on that list, there will be some people who skip the big names when buying a smartphone in the coming months and opt instead for the Sprint-branded Vital. With features like a 5-inch HD display, a 13-megapixel camera and a stock Android Jelly Bean experience, this unexpected smartphone packs quite a punch for a handset that costs less than $100. For some users, in fact, the Vital is an even better option than many of the leading smartphones on the market. More →
After a handful of dismal quarters during which Nokia lost billions, the vendor has recently shown signs of life. But not in the United States. Nokia’s first big attempt at a comeback in the U.S. was the Lumia 900, and the company returned later in 2012 with the Lumia 920. Neither phone was received with much enthusiasm from consumers. In the Lumia 900’s debut quarter, Nokia shipped 600,000 total Lumia phones in the U.S. When the Lumia 920 launched in the holiday quarter last year, Nokia’s U.S. Lumia phone shipments totaled 700,000 units and then slid to just 400,000 units in the following quarter. Nokia now returns with its third flagship phone for the U.S. market — the Lumia 928 — and it’s changing things up this time around. More →
The king is dead, long live the king. The Galaxy S4 helped Samsung keep its impossible promise and unlike most products that see the kind of hype this one did ahead of its debut, the S4 actually delivered. This new handset is an improvement over its predecessor in every way and we loved it when we reviewed the Galaxy S4 last month. But after spending some time with Samsung’s new flagship phone, I also see a worrying trend emerging in the Galaxy S4 and it’s one that could potentially get Samsung into trouble down the road. More →
What company is rolling out an iterative update to its best-selling smartphone in the world? One that builds upon the success of the previous model, yet for the most part retains the same shape, design, and form of last year’s phone? If you guessed Apple, you’d be wrong. The brand new Samsung Galaxy S4 improves upon the Galaxy S III in almost every way, but with HTC’s One already winning on materials and even user interface design, can Samsung build on its current momentum without reinventing the home button? More →