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 →
BlackBerry’s famous hardware keyboard is finally becoming available on the company’s latest operating system called BlackBerry 10 in the coming days, and the company’s new phone is called the BlackBerry Q10. Meshing up BlackBerry’s brand new OS with the same core features and specs of the BlackBerry Z10, the Q10 is the answer for die-hard BlackBerry fanatics. But considering how good the on-screen keyboard is on the Z10 — it’s the absolute best software keyboard I have ever used, in fact — is the Q10 even necessary in this day and age?
In many circles on competing services like Twitter, Facebook is the Nickelback of social networks. People love to discuss how awful it is and to joke about it constantly, mocking various aspects of the service and business such as how fast and loose it plays with users’ privacy. Everyone seems to have a Facebook account and yet no one seems to use the service actively. But just as Nickelback manages to sell millions of albums each year despite seemingly having no fans, Facebook — the social network people love to hate — has a billion monthly active users. More →
In the global smartphone market, Samsung (005930) is a force to be reckoned with. The company extended its lead during the fourth quarter as it shipped an astounding 63.7 million smartphones, representing 29% of the global market according to research firm IDC. Samsung’s next closest competitor was Apple (AAPL) which sold 47.8 million iPhones for 21.8% of the market during the same time span. The story is much different when it comes to tablets, however. IDC estimates that Samsung shipped 7.9 million tablets in Q4 2012 for 15.1% of the global market, which represented big year-over-year growth put still paled in comparison to Apple’s 43.6% share. In other words, Samsung still has a lot of work to do. More →
With smartphones, as with any category of consumer electronics, we have no choice but to accept compromises. This has been the case throughout the history of cell phones and it continues to hold true even with best handsets on the market today. Apple’s (AAPL) iPhone 5 features a class-leading design with fast, smooth software, but it has a comparatively small display and lacks some of the great new functionality we’ve seen introduced on other platforms in recent years. The Samsung (005930) Galaxy S III is a sleek handset with a stunning screen and a great feature set, but it feels like a cheap toy, as does its successor. Nokia’s (NOK) Lumia 920 packs plenty of punch in a sleek package, but it’s thick and heavy, and it is missing a boatload of top apps. It’s inevitable — some level of compromise is inherent in all smartphones. More →
The HTC One (2498) smartphone comes at an important time. As good, thoughtful and purposeful as HTC’s products are, the company hasn’t been doing as well as it used to. Samsung’s (005930) been on a roll, and Apple (AAPL) is Apple. The latest flagship smartphone from HTC is the One, and it is a complete reset. It features a beautiful aluminum case, much lighter HTC Sense interface, and a load of innovative features that aren’t available on other smartphones. It’s a bag of tricks in a magician’s hat. So how does the HTC One stack up against the latest and greatest from the company’s competitors? Read on to learn more. More →
I first laid eyes on Microsoft’s (MSFT) Surface tablet just about four months ago. It was a rainy Monday morning in Redmond, Washington and we were barely into the first 20 minutes of a full day of meetings when I knew the Surface was a huge, huge deal. Microsoft — the world’s largest software company, responsible for the operating system that powers roughly 92% of all personal computers on the planet — was now a hardware vendor. More →