Phones

By July 13, 2014 Read More →

Screen casting from Android to Chromecast

cast_screenThose lovely people at Google are currently packing in the ultimate feature for the Chromecast, screen casting. Now, anything on your Android device can appear on the TV. Google are pushing sharing features more so than gaming and apps by saying “You can share photos stored on your phone with a group of friends, or scope out the scenery for your next family vacation together on the big screen using Google Earth.”

This feature is currently in beta and will roll out on popular Android phones or tablets from Samsung, HTC, LG, and others over the next few days. Look out for the 1.7 update of the Chromecast app on Google Play store to use this new feature. 

By July 11, 2014 Read More →

Breakthrough in battery life

urlSometimes it’s the obvious things which go unnoticed for a while yet turn out be be the perfect solution to an old problem. Such is the likely the case with a new scientific breakthrough in battery tech. Researchers at University of California and the Bourns College of Engineering may have just figured out an easy and cheap way to triple the battery life of our smartphones and tablets.

One of the researchers, graduate student Zachary Favors, came up with the idea to add sand to existing battery tech. At some point it dawned on Favors that there is typically a large amount of Quartz in sand. This turned out to be the key to the team’s discovery. Here’s a quote with more of the details:

There are no reports on how quickly this breakthrough will make it to market, but the outlook is quite good. We will keep you updated as to if/when this starts hitting our favorite devices.

Posted in: Gadgets, Phones, Tablets
By July 9, 2014 Read More →

Is it going to be the iPhone Air 4.7?

a0fbd9ab-a283-404f-91ab-6e3f812cfdaaAccessories firm Spigen has listed 4.7-inch and 5.5-inch iPhone 6 covers on Amazon, with the larger model said to include the Air branding. The images show what might be a dummy model of an “iPhone Air” alongside a caption: “There’s something in the Air.” It’s a long wait until Apple is expected to announce a device or two in September.

 

Posted in: Phones, Rumours
By July 7, 2014 Read More →

Uncharged devices no longer allowed on US bound flights to counter terrorism

iPhone4-flatAmerica is banning uncharged mobiles or laptops on US-bound flights over bomb fears. A new measure is bound to cause chaotic scenes at airports around the globe, and is part of the US Transportation Security Administration’s effort to boost surveillance amid concerns that terrorists are plotting to blow up an airliner.

Jason Fernyhough, from mobile accessories distributor Accessory Lab, comments on the news: “most people board planes with enough charge in their devices for a few hours at most as, more often than not, devices will typically be switched off during flights. However, with this new security drive, I can see charging stations appearing at airports, rather like paid for Wi-Fi hotspots. Cafes and public areas will no doubt benefit from additional revenue, but also airport retailers selling mobile device chargers will see panic buying. In the short term, airport infrastructure will take a while to set up the charging booths and the cost to charge for passengers won’t be low, so we believe that there will be a boom in portable chargers and they will become a travel essential.

“To avoid any risk of being refused boarding on all US bound flights, portable chargers and power banks will ensure travellers have the ability to power up multiple devices and charge them very quickly before they board a flight. The keys considerations for travellers will be speed of charge, charging capacity, size of charger, durability and compatibility, which is useful for multiple devices.”

Accessory Lab has a range of chargers branded Olixar that will ensure anyone travelling to, or around, America can reach their destination. Please see information below.

Accessory Lab is also offering some advice on what to look for in a charger here: http://www.accessorylab.co.uk/2014/07/07/power-banks-and-portable-chargers-buying-guide

All Olixar products are available to buy now at www.mobilefun.co.uk, with prices starting from £19.99.

Posted in: Laptops, News, Phones
By July 1, 2014 Read More →

How Social Media Shaped Cell Phone Design

shutterstock_180921581In 1984, “The Brick” started the cell phone revolution—even with its bulky size and cost. Eventually the phone evolved into a sleek design with capabilities beyond the vision of the original designers of the mobile phone. In the last 30 years, cell phones have been updated from bricks to flip phones to the iconic iPhone. But phones weren’t the only thing that was changing. We were also revolutionizing the way we communicate with each other. Innovative social media platforms available on cell phones have enabled us to connect in a different ways. Designers have to continually keep up with the trends, so who knows where we will end up 30 years from now. Here are just a few ways that cell phones have advanced:

Increased Camera Capabilities

Social media platforms like Snapchat and Instagram, who boast a base of 26 million and 200 million users respectively, have forced companies to release phones with enhanced camera capabilities.

Selfie was without a doubt the biggest word of the year. People would take photos using their front-facing cameras and call it a selfie. Even though Sony Ericsson first introduced the front facing camera in 2003 with the Z1010, it wasn’t until Apple released the iPhone 4 that the phenomenon really took off. Now, virtually all smartphones include a front-facing camera so users can take selfies at the Grammy’s, on top of the Christ Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro, or take selfies at the gym.

Sprint’s PM8920 released the first camera phone, featuring a 1.3-megapixel camera. This number is dwarfed in comparison to what we have today. The iPhone features an 8-megapixel camera, the Sony Xperia contains 13-Megapixel camera and the Nokia Lumia 1020 has an astounding 41-megapixel camera. The increase allows users to take higher quality pictures to share with their friends on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Phone buyers are now cognizant of the camera quality in smartphones and often account for that in their purchasing decision. Even more amazingly, these phones are a fraction of the price they were in the ’80s and they are widely available from the major service providers.

Enhanced Video Recording

Smartphones are also equipped with the latest video technology. The best smartphones have the capability to shoot at a high frame rate. The amount of frames per second (fps) is the amount of unique images created in a second, thus raising the quality of the video. The Mobile Choice Awards named the HTC One the Best Video Phone of 2013 because it shoots at a remarkable 30 fps, allowing users to create videos mimicking the quality of Hollywood films. The newest technologies also work to regulate light so your shots have the optimum brightness.

YouTube, Instagram and Vine also are responsible for the advancement in video capability for smartphones. People love to share their experiences on video through their social media networks. Whether it’s capturing a child’s first step or recording your favorite band’s set, you will want to record it to share with your followers. Beyond sharing intimate, family moments there is a growing amount of people making money from their smartphone videos. Some Youtubers and Viners are even making a living off their creative aptitude, and they will continue to push for further video capturing innovations.

Keyboard Design

Cell phone manufacturers have had to alter device designs to keep up with all the different types of messaging and status updates. Innovative keyboard design all started with the immensely popular Sidekick, which featured a slide out keyboard that allowed users to easily text their BFFs. The BlackBerry has also been at the forefront of keyboard design because of their easy layout, which has sustained a dedicated base of users. Nowadays, touch screen keyboards are king as it allows users to quickly enter their status updates. There are even swipe keyboards that allow users to type faster than ever.

Posted in: Editorial, Phones
By June 30, 2014 Read More →

The Phones Show Chat episode 245 – Gareth Myles, Watering the Gear

phoneshowofficialWe didn’t manage to podcast this week due to Matt’s operation to have a toy penguin removed from his sinus, however Gareth was asked to participate in The Phones Show. Have a listen to this relaxed and friendly walk through the latest mobile phone news and views from Steve Litchfield and Ted Salmon.

 Download Phones Show Chat episode 245 (“Gareth Myles, Watering the Gear”,29/06/2014) manually (Size: 34MB, 70 minutes duration).

Phones Show Chat 245 – Show Notes
…with Steve Litchfield & Ted Salmon and Special Guest Gareth Myles(TwitterTracey and Matt)

Errata
Steve’s Amazon Affiliate Link at tinyurl.com/amazesteve!
Apologies for the AllAbout Server Outage this week

Device Week
Nexus 5
Moto G
Samsung Galaxy Note 2
Samsung Galaxy Note 3
Samsung Galaxy S5
LG G3
HTC One Mini 2
Nokia Lumia 920
EE Kestrel
Nokia Lumia 1520
Nokia Lumia 1320 - Steve’s AAWP Review
Tracy and Matt Unboxing the HTC Desire 816

Live Draw
We make a draw for smartphone accessories each week. And this week’s winner is…Richard Dorman! Do get involved before the next draw by joining the Virtual Pint of Beer a Month Club! It could be you!stevelitchfield.com/paypal.htm & tinyurl.com/pspromo

Phones Show Flickr Group
Found at http://www.flickr.com/groups/phonesshow - Join the Group here
Last week’s Picture of the Week should have been: Train by Chris Kelly 

Train

Picture of the Month: Cat in Grass taken by Olivier with a Nokia Lumia 1020

Cat in grass

Steve’s AAWP tutorial for uploading to the Phones Show Flickr group for Windows Phone
Steve’s Android Beat tutorial for uploading to the Phones Show Flickr group for Android
Thanks to Richard Yates for management

Forum Classifieds
Don’t forget to look at the bargains over at pscforum.co.uk - And also to check out Kev and Nick’s podcast

Google Plus Links
Andre Wolff spots the HTC Desire 816 rearing it’s head in Germany, Matt Burkinshaw asks whether DIY is really the only way to get a screen repair for his Nexus 5, Ian Maxfield leads the charge to order a Samsung and LG Wear watches, the Android L Keyboard is available as an apk and if you are brave enough, here’s the Android L Developer Preview

App of the Week
Brightness Level for Android, free

NFC Dog
Thanks again to these guys, see nfcdog.com for all NFC tag needs!Phones Show Chat 210 (MP3 link) had the interview with nfcdog.com’s Tim Belfall – well worth a listen!

Follow us…
TwitterFaceBook and Google Plus

Posted in: Phones, Podcast
By June 29, 2014 Read More →

Reviving Blackberry: What Their Plan is To Mount a Comeback

9193372352_c10a310d30_zIn 1999, the first BlackBerry to hit the market was an email pager. At the time, it was a huge step in technology and connectivity. However, the company has faced recent woes as other smartphone companies chip away at their market share with newer and more advanced phones. Yet, behind the vision and leadership of a new CEO, the company has plans to mount a comeback and regain some of that market.

 

Once A Dominant Force in the Market

Before 2007, BlackBerry was one of the biggest phones on the market and the go-to phone for business people. It was one of the first phones on the market that could handle more than just calls and email. However, the company didn’t expect the threat that the iPhone would have on their market. While BlackBerry believed that people cared about security and efficiency on their phones, Apple focused more on ease of use and performance. In the end, sales for the company tanked, and they faced an uphill battle to regain the top spot they once held.

 

A New CEO with A New Vision

In 2013, BlackBerry tried to regain some its smartphone market by releasing the all-touch Z10. However, consumer reception was weak, and the company ended up having to cut its workforce by 40 percent and take charge of nearly $960 million in unsold phones. In the end, CEO Thornsten Heinz stepped down, and the company brought in John Chen, former CEO of Sybase to turn things around. Chen made it clear that his vision for turning around the struggling company was to focus on their core strength of providing strong and secure phones to businesses in the health care, government and financial industries.

 

Providing Services to the Enterprise Market

Chen also believes that the business market, which is often called the enterprise market, is where the company’s core customer base lies. He felt that by listening to what this market does and doesn’t like about their phones, he would be able to serve them better. As a result, Chen learnt that there were many features that BlackBerry had abandoned that customers actually enjoyed and wanted them to bring back. In the end, Chen also felt it was necessary to assure the over 60 million mobile phone subscribers that they weren’t going to get lost in the rush. However, he did point out that to bring the financial side of the company back up, they would be focusing on the enterprise market first.

 

Focusing on Business Services

Part of what the phone company is eyeing in the enterprise market is the latest trend of BYOD, or bring your own device. Here, companies are allowing their employees to bring their personal mobile devices to the workplace, and use those devices to conduct business and access confidential company information. While there are security concerns with BYOD, companies also see it as a way to increase productivity and employee satisfaction. With the latest BlackBerry phones, utilizing BlackBerry BYOD can make companies for efficient and cost-effective with minimal effort. They can offer the security BlackBerry is known for, while still providing a device employees are comfortable using.

 

The Newest BlackBerry Releases

The Z3 is the latest device that BlackBerry will launch. This phone will release in Indonesia first, before expanding to other markets in southeast Asia, and it’s expected to compete with other low-cost smartphones in that market. Additionally, Chen announced that at some point in the foreseeable future, the company would also be releasing a faster phone with 4G connectivity to the rest of the world. This phone, called the Q20, will have a keyboard and control keys with a track pad in response to consumer demands.

Like so many other companies, BlackBerry has faced its share of highs and lows. The company was criticised for not completely acknowledging how much of a threat the latest generation of smartphones would be to their market share. However, under the leadership of their new CEO, and with the release of new phones, they believe they’re ready to compete in the market once more.

 

Posted in: Editorial, Phones
By June 27, 2014 Read More →

5 accessories every smartphone owner needs

allveb-2Your smartphone might’ve replaced everything from the humble calculator and calendar to the digital camera and MP3 player, but you still need the odd accessory to get the most out of it. Check out our list of must-haves below.

1. Smartphone case

High-end smartphones are worth upwards of £500, so it’s important that you shield them against damage. Repairing cracked screens is expensive, and scratches and scuffs ruin the appearance of your handset, reducing its resale value.

It’s a good idea to buy your smartphone case direct from the manufacturer, as it’s more likely to hold it snugly and leave spaces for connectors and camera lenses. You can browse the range of Nokia cases here, HTC cases here, Samsung cases here, and Apple-approved iPhone cases here.

2. High-quality earphones

Most smartphones come with a pair of earphones, but they’re not always of the highest quality. If you want to make the most of watching movies, listening to music and playing games on your device, purchasing some new earphones might be a good idea.                      

John Lewis has a wide range of premium headphones, and includes a minimum two-year guarantee with every purchase. Take a look at the reviews as well as the specifications to ensure you invest wisely — Bose tends to be one of the top brands.                

3. Speaker dock

For similar reasons, a speaker dock is a must-have. Smartphone speakers can’t produce high volumes and tend to compromise quality. Get your hands on a Bluetooth dock so you can enjoy quality sound wirelessly. There’s one for every budget available at Amazon.     

4. Emergency phone charger

One of the few downsides to owning a smartphone rather than an old-school handset is the reduced battery time. All those apps, a high-resolution screen and impressive processors are power hungry, so you can often find yourself low on juice.

For those occasions you need to charge while on the go, a power pack is a necessity. Check out the range at Gizoo, which includes chargers that are compatible with most devices. There are compact power packs that are small enough to fit in your pocket, and larger models that can top up your battery again and again.

5. Window mount

Anyone with a smartphone and a car needs a window mount. These accessories keep your device safely away from hands, so you’re not tempted to answer texts or check emails unsafely. They’re also indispensable when using your handset’s built-in sat nav.                                                                               

                                                                               

                                                                               

                                                                               

                               

Posted in: Editorial, Phones
By June 23, 2014 Read More →

ZTE announce a couple of new phones on Virgin

image002ZTE and Virgin Media announced the release of the stylish ZTE Blade L2 and ultra-affordable ZTE Kis 3 in the UK. The ZTE Blade L2 is now available to purchase in store and online from both Virgin Media and Argos for £89.99* PAYG, with the ZTE Kis 3 available for just £49.99* PAYG.

The ZTE Blade L2 is the latest smartphone to come from the popular Blade series, featuring an elegant design, 5’’ touch screen and slim 8.9mm white exterior frame. Also on offer, is the ultra-affordable Kis 3, designed to be the perfect entry-level smartphone at a great price. 

 

ZTE Blade L2 specifications:

  • Operating system: Android 4.2
  • Size and weight: 142.5×72.2×8.95mm
  • Display: 5.0”FWVGA (480x854Pixel)
  • Camera: 5 megapixel camera with AF/ LED Flash, 0.3 megapixel front camera
  • Network: GSM/UMTS, GSM 900/1800/1900 MHz, WCDMA 900/2100 MHz
  • Battery: 2000 mAh
  • Processor: 1.3 GHz Quad-Core processor
  • Memory: 1GB RAM, 4GB ROM
  • Other: GPS, WiFi 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.0, Dual SIM

image004

ZTE Kis 3 specifications:

  • Operating system: Android 4.4
  • Size and weight: 126×64.7×10.7mm
  • Display: 4.0”WVGA (480x800Pixel)
  • Camera: 3 megapixel camera
  • Network: GSM 900/1800/1900 MHz | WCDMA 900/2100 MHz
  • Battery: 1400 mAh
  • Processor: 1.2 GHz Dual Core
  • Memory: 512MB LPDDR2/3 + 4GB eMMC | MicroSD (Up to 32GB)
  • Other: GPS with AGPS, WiFi 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.0, Dual SIM

 

ZTE and Virgin Media launch the Blade L2 and Kis 3 in the UK

20 June 2014, Brentford, UK – ZTE and Virgin Media today announced the release of the stylish ZTE Blade L2 and ultra-affordable ZTE Kis 3 in the UK. The ZTE Blade L2 is now available to purchase in store and online from both Virgin Media and Argos for £89.99* PAYG, with the ZTE Kis 3 available for just £49.99* PAYG.
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The ZTE Blade L2 is the latest smartphone to come from the popular Blade series, featuring an elegant design, 5’’ touch screen and slim 8.9mm white exterior frame. With a 1.3GHz quad-core processor and 5MP camera which includes multiple settings from continuous shot, panorama and anti-flickering to a multi-angle view that can easily be turned into 3D animation, the ZTE Blade L2 has plenty to offer in both style and performance at an affordable price point.
[cid:image004.jpg@01CF8C6E.9E0654E0]
The ultra-affordable Kis 3, is designed to be the perfect entry-level smartphone. The ZTE Kis 3 features the latest Android 4.4 KitKat OS a powerful dual core 1.2GHz processor as well as 512MB RAM to provide smooth multi-tasking and app usage. The 10.7mm thin body and large bright 4” screen makes it easy and enjoyable to browse the latest news, watch videos and view photos.

Chris Edwards, Marketing and Business Development Director at ZTE said, “It is our mission to make smartphone technology accessible to everyone and the introduction of the Blade L2 and Kis 3 is no exception. The Blade & Kis series have been extremely popular with Virgin customers and it’s great that Virgin and Argos will be adding to its portfolio with two new ZTE smartphones.”

Jamie Heywood, director of mobile at Virgin Media added, “Both of these handsets pack a real punch for their price point. The Blade L2 offers elegance with a solid design while the Kis 3 will allow customers to get their hands on the latest Android handsets at a fraction of the price.”

The ZTE Blade L2 can be purchased in store and online from Virgin Media and Argos today for £89.99* PAYG including £10 top up. The ZTE Kis 3 can also be purchased from Virgin Media and Argos for just £49.99* PAYG, including £10 top up.

*includes a compulsory £10 top-up

Posted in: News, Phones
Tags: ,
By June 19, 2014 Read More →

The Amazon Fire Phone

Amazon-Fire-Phone-Music-LibraryAmazon on Wednesday finally took the wraps off of one of the worst kept secrets in the industry: the Fire Phone. The new handset is powered by a quad-core 2.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon processor and it features a 4.7-inch 720p HD display that Amazon claims is bright enough to be visible in outdoor lighting. Also contains 2GB of RAM, dual stereo speakers, a 13-megapixel rear camera and front-facing camera for video chats.

The phone includes unlimited cloud-based photo storage, a handy addition given that the handset features six individual camera modules in total. Four of the camera modules are low-power units that track the user’s head in order to help facilitate 3D effects and motion gestures that make up the main features of Amazon’s software. For example, deep integration with Amazon’s various Prime services, including its video service and the newly unveiled Amazon Music offering. 

Another key feature is Firefly, this uses the camera to scan barcodes on products and pull them up in Amazon’s store. Firefly can also listen to music or TV shows using technology similar to Shazam to recognize them and pull them up in Amazon’s digital shop, right down to a specific episode of a TV show as demonstrated. There is a dedicated Firefly button that pulls the feature up in one second, according to Amazon.

Phone numbers and email addresses are recognized by Firefly as well. Once they are, they can be added to a new contact or used to initiate a call or email. A Mayday service, which provides a direct line of communication to Amazon’s customer support team via video chat. Reps can help users diagnose and resolve any issues, and they can also take control of the phone to help, if need be.

The Amazon Fire Phone will start at $199.99 on contract with 32GB of storage, and a 64GB version will be available for $299.99. Off contract, the phone will be priced in line with the iPhone, starting at $650. With any purchase option, the phone includes 12 months of Amazon Prime service for free.

As you have guessed there is little in the way of UK launch details, I’m sure Christmas will be a perfect time…

 

amazon-fire-phone-announced

Posted in: News, Phones
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