Phone Issues

So in about 2 weeks it’s going to be my Galaxy Nexus’ 1 year anniversary. Yes I am aware that the GNex released 2 years ago and I bought the phone 2 weeks before the launch of the Nexus 4 (I was impatient, needed a new phone). For the past couple of months I’ve been having major issues, the phone was fine, installed a custom rom and after a while it got too buggy and laggy. So I went back to stock, it was fine for about a week or two and started getting major lag issues once more. I’ve repeated this process a lot of times and I get the same results.

People (well my parents mostly) say I tinker with my phone to much. Well that’s the reason I bought an Android phone, to play with it! I’ve heard of people doing majorly insane shit to their phones and it always works fine for them, no matter what ROM I run, what kernel I use, my phone always seems to lag.

So now it’s time for a new phone, I thought I had decided what I wanted but I still am not too sure. I’m pretty much set on the Sony Xperia Z1. Why? The three things that matter in a phone to me personally have been fulfilled. Excellent Build Quality? Check. Good camera? 20.7 megapixels of Check. Performance? in the name of the Snapdragon 800 I pronounce you Checked. A major plus is that it’s wwaterproof So I don’t have to spend cash on that GoPro I’ve been hankering for. The only issue I feel I might have with this phone is Sony’s software. Which actually doesn’t really seem that bad anymore, once you throw in a nice launcher and 3rd party apps, you can replicate the stock experience. I could also root it and run a custom ROM but something tells me that ROM’s are not going to be able to take full advantage of that camera.

The other option I had was to go with the Xiaomi Mi3. You probably don’t know what that is. Well Xiaomi is a chinese phone manufacturer much like Oppo, and they sell high end phones at lower prices than the likes of the bigger name brands. The Mi3 has all the latest specs; 1080p, 13MP, great build quality and even gives you the choice between a Snapdragon 800 and Tegra 4 chip. Which is nice. And with the Mi3 I wouldn’t mind running a custom ROM if it’s gonna be as supported as the Oppo Find 5 (you can run custom rom’s without having to root the phone). But in order to avoid making the purchase and there not being support for the device, I’m currently installing MIUI v5 (the Xiaomi OS) on my GNex to see if it’s bareable. I’ve tried it before but didn’t like it.

Now you’re going to say “Goddamit man you’re messing up your phone” well hey, it’s already messed up and I needed to refresh it anyway.

 

(post imported from snazzyham.com)

Apple’s September 10th Event – Opinions

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So, this morning was Apple’s highly anticipated and majorly hyped iPhone event. We all knew what they were going to launch, even they knew that we knew what they were going to launch. That being said there were some things that did not seem to appear in the rumor mill and some things that were highly inaccurate and disappointing.

Let’s start it off with the iPhone 5C. We presumed this was coming for almost two years now, and it’s just like we expected. Exactly like the iPhone 5 but made of plastic, or as Jonny Ive calls it “Unapologetic plastic”. I wouldn’t know how it feels until I get to hold it for myself but considering it’s an Apple product it should feel premium nonetheless. They also  showed off this case that looks like a preschool kid took a hole puncher to a normal silicon case. Some may like it, I do not. Aside from that the only difference with the 5C and the 5 is a slightly larger battery and a better front facing camera. This brings up the question, would you rather get a 5 for a lower price or get a 5C? I know I would rather get the 5 as it feels more premium (I presume) as compared to the 5C, however in America where most people rely on a contract based system it makes more sense to get the 5C since the 5 has been discontinued officially. You also have to take this from Apple’s standpoint, the 5C is cheaper to make than the 5 and would be a newer product so it would obviously sell better than last years model. Also, the 5C is intended to be sold to people that have never owned iPhone’s before. Consumers would be more attracted to picking up a newer but now “mid-ranged” handset rather than an older model, no matter the specifications, that’s just the way our brain works. But fore some of us, where we buy phones off contract and prepaid, it makes more sense to pick up the iPhone 5 since it most probably will be the same price of the 5C when it launches here and the 5 is aluminium and therefore more premium, as I’ve mentioned. One thing that really upsets me about the 5C is that it’s still an ‘On-Contract’ phone.  For months we heard that Apple was going to stick out it’s middle finger to the carriers and release the phone of contract for a price of approx. $329 pre-paid, which would have made this one of the most sought after phones in history, purely due to it’s ready availability and no requirement to commit to a 2 year contract.

 

Moving on we have the iPhone 5S. Now a lot of people are disappointed at the lack of innovation with this model but you come to expect that with the S model phones. In fact the 5S is a bigger jump from the 5 as compared to the 4S from the 4. That being said there isn’t really much to talk about here. There’s the fingerprint scanner which is just as gimmicky and unrequired as Siri, although I could see a  lot of people using that for the App Store downloads. I hate having to put in my password every single time and the finger print could be really useful for that and not much else. It all depends on developer support. They also have a new A7 chip with 64bit architecture, which in my opinion is major overkill and not even needed on a phone, I would understand putting it on the iPad (better performance for vide.o and photo editing apps) but other than that I’m not too sure about it. Who knows, it could increase performance and we might end up giving up the ‘number of cores race’ in favour for better architecture. The one feature that I actually care about in the 5S is the new flash they have going on. It’s a flash with every colour temperature, which means that instead of just bursting a light like normal it will choose the intensity and colour of the light to flash according to the subject, this would make your snaps from that night at the club a little less icky and really complement skin tones. I don’t really use flash much so I wouldn’t use this feature but I guess it would be nice to have sometimes.

That was bascially all that was important from Apple’s event, iOS 7 will begin rollout on September 18th and they spoke about other minor things that no one cares about. No iWatch, No TV, no new iPad. What do you think? Will that be sometime next year or in October? Do you want to pick up either one of the new iPhones? I personally would not given how much I love android and there’s not much in iOS that can really pull me away from that but it’s still always fun to play with new technology.

Until next time folks!

Android Phones: Overpowered or Compromised?

Take a good look at the android phones that are around today. Have you noticed that some of them tout so many features yet always have something very lackluster about them? I mean look at the so called ‘Flagship’ phones out there now, the Samsung Galaxy S4 has brilliant performance and a superb camera, in exchange of that they chose to neglect build quality and make it out of plastic, bad plastic. Now look at the Lumia 1020, the tank of a phone overcompensates widely in the camera department but the lack of app support in windows phone renders the phone to be in what I can only call exasperating. 

Now let’s take a look at the mid-range devices. The underdogs in my opinion. My favourite of which, the HTC One Mini. It has a great build quality, a good enough display and a mediocre camera. I know it is the same camera as the One but it’s not, it lacks OIS (optical image stabilization) which actually makes a huge deal. Had they ditched the HTC One and the HTC One mini and made just one phone in between with no real compromise or over compensation, it would have been the perfect phone for me. 

 

You may be thinking, what exactly am I talking about. Well here it is, why must manufacturers over-compensate so much on one aspect of the device that they have to skimp out on the other. Why must we have the highest end specs and power but still skimp out on build quality. Why must smaller phones lack the necessary features to making it a useable device. Why can’t we have just ONE product that doesn’t go overboard on any aspect and doesn’t skimp out on any as well? That would be the phone to get. 

Think about it. One of the hardest decisions you have to make when picking up a phone is to go High End Vs. Cheap Price, more simply it becomes Overpowered Vs. Underspecced. Is this a battle we have to face? I can honestly say I’ve had this fight for so long that I’m still stuck with my almost 2 Generation old Galaxy Nexus. There just hasn’t been a phone so far that sits perfectly in the middle of what I would call a perfect fit. I considered the HTC One Mini but the lack of OIS disappointed me, the Moto X seems promising but there aren’t any plans of it being made available internationally as yet and that AMOLED display is really putting me off. 

Maybe what I’ve said makes sense to you and you can relate to it. Maybe I’m just too hard to please. Either way, the decision regarding a new smartphone has to be made and each day the battle grows more infuriating, no thanks to the manufacturers and designers around the world. Oppo, let’s hope you’ve got something up your sleeve with the N1. 

 

Samsung Chromebook Hands-On!

Google is known for venturing into any and every tech related field they can, from the web to mobile to even food somehow. A couple of years back, they decided to one up they’re chrome browser and create Chrome OS, an operating system that was basically the browser. Fast forward some time, chrome os has become much more advanced than before all while sticking to it’s clear reasoning, to be a web based operating system, with everything moving to “the cloud,” why have a heavy, expensive Windows or Mac operating system acting as a middleman? Why not just have the browser be the OS? At it’s inception chrome wasn’t really much, it was missing quite a bit of it’s features and basically wasn’t that appealing. Now though, with the second generation of Chromebook laptops in our hands, there might just be a place in all our hearts for the Chrome OS.

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The first Samsung Chromebook that came out was more of a test, they wanted to see if there was a market for it and if they got any feedback. Sure enough, they got feedback. People spoke about how it was a good idea but it was too expensive for something that does so little, it was too clunky, battery life was poor, etc, So samsung took all those comments and made the Macbook Air  Samsung Chromebook 2.0. The new device featured a slim and trimmed down body, a much better display and keyboard, an ARM processor as opposed to an x86chip, which almost tripled the battery life, threw in 100GB of free Google Drive storage for a year and best of all? Priced it at $249. Ever since I heard that I’ve been dying to get my hands on the chromebook and finally, I did so here are my thoughts and opinions. This is not a full review as I did not spend enough time with it to review it in depth.

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As soon as I switched on the device I was impressed. I just had to sign into my google account and everything was there already, all my extensions and plugins and everything i needed. It was fast and smooth and had no issues opening up any webpages I threw at it, even the graphically intensive ones. I could even log into my plex web console and stream all my tv shows and movies from my PC, and that’s where the twist comes in.Although the chromebook is a great device. It’s most certainly not a desktop replacement. I could see myself giving up my tablet for this any day of the week. The addition of the keyboard plus the full interface desktop browser makes this device makes this more capable for productivity and other tasks as compared to a casual toy, which is how I look at tablets, well larger tablets. I have other opinions on tablets like the nexus 7 but I’ll save them for a later post.

So who do I think this is targeted at? The masses. Say you want to have a powerful desktop PC for all your gaming/editing needs but still need something to be able to take notes in class or in a meeting, that’s where the chromebook comes in. It is to the world what netbooks never where and in my opinion what the tablets tried to be, a robin to your batman. And with that I end this relatively short post, but feel free to bask in the beauty of the chromebook with the images below.

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Paranoid Android 3.60 (Hello HALO) Review

Some of you may have read my recent post about the time I’ve spent with my Galaxy Nexus. Ironically the day after I wrote that post (which was a couple of weeks before I had posted it) My phone stopped working. I mean completely, it refused to open the app drawer then when I tried rebooting it went into bootloop and ultimately crashed. That was the tipping point for me, I took it as a sign. My phone was screaming at me to go back to the old ways of root apps, sick customizations and custom rom’s. So what other choice did I have?

The first decision was, which ROM do I use? This was a relative no-brainer, Although I wanted to go with AOKP as I had used it briefly and loved it, all the hype right now seemed to be surrounding paranoid android and it’s “Hello HALO” feature. For those of you who are unaware of what HALO is, and no it’s not the game, it’s a sort of unified chathead, where all your notifiaction appears in a chathead like format. Before I give you my review, I would like to point out that I’ve been using Paranoid android for 26 days right now and my opinion stems from that time spent with it.

To be honest I was underwhelmed. I was expecting something that would blow my mind away, like AOKP and CM10.1 did. Cause they felt like stock android on steroids. Paranoid Android however felt like that one schizophrenic part of the android 4.2 system that was out of place from the rest. The whole time I used it the concept of the ugly duckling came to my mind. It’s pretty much the same as stock android on the inside, it has the same features, but it’s not pretty. I also ended up comparing Paranoid Android to your typical highschool douchebag. It’s trying to be something that it’s not. You get the feeling like you know he’s a good guy but he’s trying too hard to be something he’s not.

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In all actuality, my experience with PA wasn’t all that bad. I was just expecting something over the top and my expectations were set too high for it. That’s not to say there weren’t some parts of it that didn’t completely blow me away. For instance, the standby battery life was brilliant, simply outstanding. I have those days where I just don’t use my phone all that much, like when I’m really busy at work and have tons of meetings and deadlines. Usually by the time I reach my office (at 8:00am)  it’s at 84% and by 5:00pm it’s below 15%. Imagine my surprise when I pulled my phone out of my pocket at 5:30pm one day and see my battery at 78%? Even on the days that I use it moderately I end up leaving the office with 30-40% which isn’t really that great compared to other phones but compared to stock android it’s brilliant. As you can see from the screenshot of my battery information on the right (that small bump on the graph was when I was transferring music onto my phone) The kernel does a great job of managing power.

There are a few other things I liked about paranoid android. For example, I liked the fact that I can change the status bar colour and icon colour to match the app that I’m in, this actually helps in space perspective. For example, I made the colour of the status bar green in whatsapp and faded blue in instagram so that it made it seem like my screen was actually bigger, it’s a nifty trick. But you must also keep in mind that it took me ages to get the right colour combination. I also liked that the lag was noticeably less compared to stock android and that my battery didn’t heat up as much, but then again that’s the case on every other ROM.

Screenshot_2013-06-29-15-49-26  The main reason I wanted to try out PA was HALO, I love chatheads and I dreamed of the day where I would get whatsapp functionality for Whatsapp. It’s safe to say I was hugely disappointed. I understand that it’s in beta, that’s why I’m not going to say anything about the errors and the bugs. What annoyed me was the way it worked in general. When you click on the bubble your app opens, that’s obvious, what annoyed me was that when I clicked on it again, instead of closing the app back into the bubble, it just opens another window. That irked me more than you’d think. I hated having to open an app and hit the back button to close it, if I wanted to do that I would stick to android’s built in multitasking as it offers the same functionality. After a while what I realised was that HALO is basically offering me what I already have, but giving me less than 50% the screen real estate. This for me made the whole concept of HALO utterly redundant.

PIE control is another feature that PA touts around. In my experience with it it definitely looks cool but is really just a gimmick. It takes to long for it to pop out, just so we can go back or home. It looks really nice and makes you feel like you’re using a gadget out of minority report but at the end of the day for a power user like me it’s really more of a hassle then it is a feature to talk about. The extended desktop functionality is useful when I need extra real estate and know that I’ll be within that one app for a long Screenshot_2013-07-12-09-41-54time but otherwise is just problematic. One would think after reading what I just wrote that the simple solution would be to use PIE in conjunction with HALO but trust me, once you try it you’d see for yourself why it really does not work.

There are a couple of other gripes that I have with this ROM, such as the over exaggeration of colours, which makes you feel like you’ve dived into the deepest realm of the matrix and the fact that my cell reception has dropped intensely ever since I flashed PA but these are small things that I can live with. All in all Paranoid Android is fine if you’re on a device where you want the stock android experience but in my opinion the entire ROM itself is a gimmick and just doesn’t have what it takes to keep up with the better ROM’s available out there.

Disagree with my opinions or have something you need to add? Sound off in the comments below or shoot me an email at sohamthenerd@gmail.com

Until next time folks.

The Galaxy Nexus Experience, 8 Months Later

Samsung and Google’s second child in the mobile department, the Galaxy Nexus has been around for almost two years now and although the Nexus 4 improves on many of the gripes I have with the Galaxy Nexus, I never made the switch. That’s partly due to the fact that I picked up the Galaxy Nexus a week before they announced the Nexus 4. Even though the GNex has been around for quite a while we can’t necessarily call it “old-gen”. With a dual-core processor, 1GB of RAM and a 720p display, the GNex is probably the best mid range android handset around today. Having said that there definitely were a few instances where I’ve wanted to bang my phone against the wall.

Let’s start with software. The biggest advantage to buying a nexus device is that you get the assurance that your software is probably going to work better on your phone as compared to anything else you might pick up as it is maintained by google itself. It runs the latest version of android (4.2.2) and its smooth, most of the time. My biggest problem with the phone is probably the battery. Not the battery life (which is abysmal) but the battery itself. My battery is constantly at 38 degrees but more that often above 47. That not only makes the phone really hot but also causes an immense performance drop. Swiping through home screens takes long and it takes the phone about 3 seconds to register touches. Apps like the gallery and browser are unusable and often force close. Apps that are more power hungry refuse to even open and often cause the phone to just crash.

The thing I love the most about my phone is how customisable it is. Rooting and tinkering with a nexus device is a breeze, especially with Wugs toolkit. There’s nothing about the phone you can’t change. When I got the phone I went crazy with all the things you could customise. I was running CM10.1 with Franco’s Kernel, used ROM toolbox pro to root and configure the little things, changed my font, my boot animation, my softkeys and made many other customisations. This however brings me to my next point.

At the beginning when I had the phone it was flawless. No lag, never force closed, no issues. However, after a while, one by one issues started to arise. It got so bad that I had to do a complete wipe of the phone and go fully back to stock. I’m now on the stock ROM with the stock kernel and action launcher + flatro icons on the front end. Things were never the same however. It could be due to the battery over heating or maybe some other issues. I tried loading Paranoid Android over the weekend to try out the ‘HALO’ feature, much to my dismay my phone was beyond unusable. I went through all the checkpoints (wipe system, cache, dalvik, etc.) but nothing worked. The phone booted up fine but navigating through the home screens and menus were a nightmare. Everything lagged like it never lagged before. I couldn’t open any apps and when some would open I wouldn’t be able to use them (like the settings app).  So alas, I restored my nandroid backup and even though its running well now on stock android, I steel feel like I’m a burger without fries or like SpongeBob without Patrick, I feel like I’m missing a part of me.

Windows Phone 8: View from the eyes of an Android Freak (Day 1)

The battle for the “Best Mobile OS” has been going on for quite a while now, with iOS and Android hogging the lead and leaving the others so far behind that they cant even begin to see the dust yet. There are many who have tried to challenge they’re dominance, others who are content with staying behind. One company that’s been battling endlessly with Apple and Google is Microsoft. Apple and Google started entering the smartphone market around the 2007-2008 time period and by 2009 they had revamped the entire concept of smartphones and touch screens. Microsoft on the other hand was still lacking in the mobile department, they were probably too preoccupied with the “Vista” problem. Microsoft’s mobile OS was  basically a smaller version of windows xp. It was hard to use, you couldn’t really figure out how to work it that well even if you were a huge geek and the worst thing was the resisitive touch screen, that was just terrible. Fast forward to October 2010, Microsoft announced a completely revamped ‘Windows Phone OS’ with a completely revamped “metro” interface and it was beautiful. I was lovestruck. Sadly though as with all new software, it had it’s issues. Jump forward to 2013. Microsoft’s been in the market for 3 years and they’ve had time to fix their issues. So is Windows Phone 8 a worthy competitor for the No. 1 spot?

 

My first day with windows phone 8 has been a blast. As with every new phone, I spent endless hours downloading new apps, customizing it (as much as windows phone would allow me to) and tinkering with it in every which way. I picked up the Lumia 520, which is the lowest end and ‘cheapest’ Windows Phone device in the market so obviously my expectations were low, surprisingly it blew me away. From the minute I turned it on the phone was fast, fluid and mellifluous. I really was not expecting such performance from such a low end device. Multitasking and opening apps were smooth, there was no input lag whatsoever.

The biggest Complaint people have about windows phone now days is that it’s app collection is terrible. On the contrary, I was able to find a replacement for my 5 most used apps quite quickly. Keep in mind I don’t use as many apps as I used to since I’ve been really tied down at work. My most used apps on my nexus are Falcon Pro, Instagram, Feedly, PocketCasts and Whatsapp. What I use on windows phone; Twitter, Instance (not that great but instagram should be coming soon), Nextgen reader, Podcast and Whatsapp. See, no trouble. One thing however is that some alternatives for free android apps were paid on windows phone. Just a small annoyance. My favourite thing about windows phone is the brilliant sync integration. I literally just had to sign in to Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn and immediately it started populating my entire device with my data. The photos app had my facebook photo’s, the people tile was an integrated feed of my facebook, twitter and linkedIn and the me tile had all my information already. Other than that you can even use facebook chat through the default messaging app, that’s brilliant!

One of the biggest gripes I’ve had however is that there’s no unified notification center, so I tend to miss a lot of notifications and only become aware of them when I scroll through and see the tile. That and the fact there are no quick toggles for settings like WiFi and bluetooth, altough I’m certain you can pin those settings to your start screen, you still have to open the app and switch the toggle.

Apart from that, I’m quite astonished. I’ve never been this satisfied with a phone of this pricepoint before. Devices at this price point have always irked me more than they have impressed me. Keep in mind I haven’t even had the phone for a full 24 hours yet and I plan on using the phone for at least two weeks or more before I give you my full and final opinion, which will most probably be in the form of a YouTube review so stay tuned folks and make sure to subscribe or keep coming back so that you don’t miss anything.

Thanks for reading!