Category Archives: Phone

Samsung Galaxy S3 Update

Samsung Galaxy S3About a month ago I retired my trusty Sprint Evo 4G (original Wimax version) and got a Samsung Galaxy S3.

My initial impression of the Galaxy S3 was quite positive. I’ve spent a considerable amount of time now with the Galaxy S3, so I want to give a bit of an update on my experience with it. I drive a truck over the road and also use it as a podcast aggregator and playback device, so I am spending even more direct time with my phone than the average consumer might.

The Sprint version of the S3 is currently using the so-called “Ice Cream Sandwich” Android 4.04.

Battery life is excellent compared to the three previous smartphones I’ve had over the past several years using the stock battery that came with it.

The large 4.8” inch AMOLED LCD high resolution touchscreen is superb, with excellent color saturation. The extremely thin form factor allows me to easily carry the phone around in a front pocket.

Performance remains excellent even though I’ve installed several dozens and dozens of apps. App performance is rock solid. I had many of the same apps on my HTC Evo that would sometimes crash or cause problems that run perfectly on the Galaxy S3. I attribute this performance increase to more primary phone memory and perhaps better overall hardware design architecture. It’ likely that people that experience problems with certain apps are really experiencing lack of enough physical memory in their device in the same way that desktop computers experience fewer crashes and more overall stability when they have more physical RAM in which to execute the program code.

The Galaxy S3 has excellent WiFi performance. Connected to a Verizon MiFi 4G WiFi hotspot the WiFi has no slowdown issues even when simultaneously using Bluetooth.

The Bluetooth functionality works pretty well overall, but not quite as good as the HTC Evo. I have a JVC Stereo-Bluetooth-capable stereo in my pickup that functioned just fine with the Evo in speakerphone mode that doesn’t work properly with the Galaxy S3. I can hear callers through the stereo speakers but they cannot hear me through the return channel microphone. I don’t know if there is a Bluetooth version number conflict that could possibly resolve the problem via a JVC firmware upgrade, or if the problem might be resolved when Sprint and Samsung release the next “Jelly Bean” version of Android for the Sprint version of the Galaxy S3.

This problem with the S3’s Bluetooth not working properly with my JVC stereo is even more perplexing, since it works perfectly well with the other Bluetooth devices that I own, including a Tango TRX high fidelity Bluetooth stereo speaker that also can work as a speakerphone.

Overall I’m extremely pleased with the Galaxy S3. This is one of the most amazing pieces of technology I’ve ever owned.

In my opinion, the Galaxy S3 is currently the best phone on the market today.

A Review of the Galaxy Nexus HSPA

I had been an owner of an iPhone since the first one came out. This past March, my iPhone died and I needed something new and inexpensive. I picked up the Motorola Atrix 2 for less than $100.00. After the I got a new phone feeling wore off, I almost immediately regretted the purchase. I didn’t like the bloatware that AT&T had added to the phone. It also quickly became clear that it was not going to be updated and I would be stuck on Gingerbread until I brought a new phone. I thought about waiting for the new iPhone in September, but that would force me to sign up a new 2 year contract with AT&T and the phone would still cost me over $400.00. The answer clearly was an unlocked phone. I wanted something with the latest build and without the carrier bloatware. That is when I started looking at the Galaxy Nexus HSPA, which had been dropped to a price of $349.00 ($381 with taxes and shipping) for the unlocked version through the Google Play Store. Then I discovered it would work with my AT&T sim card and was scheduled to be upgraded to Jelly Bean from Ice Cream Sandwich. I ordered one this past Tuesday and it was in my hand Saturday morning.

The first thing I did was transfer the Sim card from the Motorola Atrix 2 to the Galaxy Nexus HSPA and it worked fine. Once I powered up the phone it had me sign into my Google Account and synced the information to the phone. When I checked for a system update, Jellybean was available for download and install. Once I finished charging the phone, the download and installation of Jellybean went fine. I installed some of the apps I had purchased from the Google Play store previously. I then started to play with the phone. It is slightly taller than the Motorola Atrix 2, but much thinner and lighter. I think the screen is gorgeous. I especially notice it when looking at text.  The text is so clear and crisp. Some people say the image is grainy at full brightness, but to be honest I haven’t noticed it. Everything moves smoothly, there is no herky-jerky motion when you open an app or move from page to page. Google Now came with the installation of Jellybean. I still learning how to use it and I realize that there are privacy concerns involved with it for some, but I love it potential.

The Galaxy Nexus HSPA is has its downside. First the back cover is very flimsy and hard to put back on. I didn’t get a full day out of the battery today, so I have downloaded a battery widget to see what is draining it. The camera is not the best, but it is pretty good. Despite these small and solvable problems I love the Galaxy Nexus HSPA so far. I love having no bloatware and in 15 months I will finish with my contact with AT&T, assuming I don’t pay to get out earlier. If you are looking for an Android phone with no contract, then the Galaxy Nexus HSPA is worth a look.

SoftBank Unveils a Radiation-Scanning Phone

SoftBank,the third largest Japanese phone carrier, is releasing something new for its Summer of 2012 lineup. The new Pantone 5 SoftBank 107SH Android smartphones will have integrated radiation detectors. It is able to detect estimated gamma radiation of between 0.05 and 9.99. Press a button to activate the radiation detection feature. Wait ten seconds for it to take a reading. It will place the location that the reading was taken onto a map.

SoftBank is debating on whether or not to add a social aspect to this, for people to share their radiation readings. This is because the readings can vary, depending on how they are taken. Another issue is that there isn’t a hard definition of a minimum dangerous level of this type of radiation. These phones will go on sale in Japan in July of 2012. A price has not yet been set.

There is a lot of concern in Japan about the harm that can come from high radiation levels. This is especially worrying for parents of young children. There has been a call for radiation monitoring at schools and other public facilities in the country. Parts of northeastern Japan are still off-limits because of the high radiation levels after the Fukushima nuclear power plant was devastated by a huge earthquake and tsunami that occurred in 2011.

The Pantone 5 series of SoftBank phones come in eight bright colors. The advertisements show the phones with an image on their screen of ice cream cones that match the color of the phone it is being displayed on. The phones have a 3.7 inch screen with 854 x 480 pixels resolution. They are powered by a 1.4 GHz single-core processor. The phones also have a 4-megapixel rear-facing camera, Bluetooth 3.0, and will run Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich.

A Facebook Mobile Phone?

New rumors have been coming out in the last couple of days that Facebook is going to build their own mobile phone. That they have been headhunting Apple engineers who worked on the iPhone. During the initial interviews they are being asked specific questions that only would be asked by someone who was building a mobile phone. Like a lot of people I was confused about why Facebook a social media company would want to build a mobile phone, then I thought about the one thing that Facebook is known for and that is control. Currently, Facebook apps are limited by the platform they are on whether Android, iPhone, Rim or Windows Mobile. There are things they may want to do but they can’t because of the limitations the iOs puts on them.

Facebook on the web is built to be a walled garden, where a person could spend their whole time on line there. As an app on a mobile phone that they don’t control the walled garden has a gaping hole in it. If they build their own mobile phone, then they control the platform, the message and therefore the consumer. This would give them a captured audience they can market mobile ads too, something those who have invested in Facebook have been looking for.

The problem with this idea, is there is no indication that the consumer is calling for a Facebook phone. Facebook will have to persuade both the consumer to buy a Facebook phone and developers to develop on the Facebook platform. Developers who are already spread thin working on the iPhone, Android and the Window Mobile platform. Also do the carriers want another platform to deal with. I think most Facebook users would rather Facebook concentrate on improving the apps that already exist.

Vertix Raptor Helmet Communicator

Vertex Raptor II Helmet Communicator

Veteran biker, Andy “Hog” McCaskey, checks out Vertix‘s Raptor helmet communicator. Let’s roll!

Vertix Raptor-i is a Bluetooth-based helmet communication system that brings together phone, intercom, radio and music player functions into a single unit. It’s perfect for any activity where wearing a helmet is the norm including motorcycling, motorport and skiing.

A microphone and speaker are fitted inside the helmet and Raptor unit goes on the outside. The unit’s controls are designed to be operated with gloves on and a remote control will be available in a few month’s time. Noise-cancellation and auto-gain control to ensure that voices can be heard clearly even at speed.

For the intercom function, two Raptor units can be paired together so that rider and pillion can talk or two riding buddies can chat between bikes.

The MSRP for the Vertix Raptor-i is $160 and it’s available now.

Interview by Andy McCaskey of SDR News and RV News Net.

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Buying a Good Android Phone Takes A Lot of Research

Android Phone I have decided to replace my iPhone 4 with an Android phone so I started to do some research. One of the advantages of the Android system is there are a lot of choices. One of the biggest disadvantages of the Android system is there are a lot of choices. Yes, what makes the Android system great may also be it’s biggest weakness. It is too easy to make the wrong choice. The first thing I had to decide on was which carrier I was going to go with. For me that decision was fairly easy I am still in the middle of my contract with AT&T and I am not willing to pay the early termination fee, so I am staying with AT&T. However if I was at the end of my contract I would have to choose between AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, Tmobile or perhaps a local provider. So how do you decide, the best way to decide is not by phone, but service availability. The best phone in the world does little good with poor coverage. So what coverage is best in your area. Look around which service provider do most of your friends have. Look at the coverage map for the provider you think you might want to go with, how is the coverage in your area.

Once you’ve chosen the provider you are going with then you can start looking at phones. Do you need a phone with a physical keyboard or do you want a touch screen. What about the camera, how many pixel do you want it to have. Are you looking for a phone that has social media front and center or is this a phone for business. How big of screen do you want. This where I recommend actually physically holding one in your hands. Some of the phones with the bigger screens felt awkward in my hands, if you have large hands they maybe perfect. What do reviewers both professional and consumer say about your phone. When looking at the reviews, think is what they are complaining about important to me or not. These are all questions you should ask yourself.

Once you find the best phone for your situation, then you need to decide if you want to go with a contract or no contract. You can get a phone for free if you agree to a two-year contract, however if you decided to break that contract before the time is up you are looking at a steep termination fee. Also many free phones are on older versions of Android and may not upgrade. If you decide to go the no contract route, you will have to pay full price for the phone, which can be over four hundred dollars.

The final decision you have to make is the version you want to go with. Thirty-five percent of Android phones are still on Froyo, although that number is going down as more and more phones move to Gingerbread, which now makes up fifty percent of all phones. Which leads to another problem with Android, the up grade process. Different phones, get up graded at different times depending on the manufacture or the service provider or sometimes not at all. The newest Android version coming out is Ice cream Sandwich, some but not all phones on Gingerbread will upgrade to Ice cream sandwich. Which ones will upgrade is still unclear, it is important when reading articles on which phone will upgrade that you read the most recent article, because the list can change daily.

After I did the research I ended up going with the Motorola Atrix 2 with At&T. It has gotten good reviews from most review sites and consumers. It appears it will be getting Ice cream Sandwich at some point in time. I was able to pick it up for $49.00 as an upgrade through the Amazon store. I am supposed to get it sometime later this week. Once I use for a bit I will give a full review of the phone itself. The bottom line is if you want to get a good Android it takes a lot of research and time.

Mobile Telcos – Phone Company or ISP?

Three LogoIf you ever needed evidence that mobile telcos (MNOs) are moving their business focus from telephones to data, then look no further than a recent post on Three’s blog. Phil Sheppard, the company’s Director of Network Strategy, revealed that 97% of the traffic flowing through Three‘s network was data. Only 3% was voice.

Also staggering was the growth in smartphone data use which grew 427% in 14 months. Yes, over 400% in slightly more than a year. It’s clear that in the last year, lots of people have upgraded to smartphones and are now actively using them online. There’s probably a combination of reasons for the explosion but the wider choice of handset models at a range of price points will be the main reason.

Three has always paid attention to data, being the first mobile company to offer 3G in the UK back in 2003, but with figures like this, it would be a fair assumption that every mobile telco is now shifting more data than voice traffic and that means these companies are more like mobile ISPs (Internet Service Providers) than phone companies. Whenever you hear an announcement by one of these companies, think about it in these terms.

Laza HTC Evo 4G Extended Alternative Battery

Phones come and phones go. Our expectations change. Technology marches forward – well most of the time, except when it comes to the bane of wireless pocket tech – battery life.

I’ve had my Sprint HTC Evo 4G phone for more than a year at this point and I’m still very satisfied with its overall feature set as well as it’s performance. The big ongoing problem has been battery life. With the stock battery that came with the phone I have been lucky to get 5 hours out of it just on standby, perhaps extending that a bit by turning off automatic data synching. The original Evo 4G eats battery power like crazy. I knew this would be an issue going in, but unlike a lot of people I can keep my phone plugged into external power most of the time I’m in my truck, so the power devour issue mostly doesn’t cause me too much trouble. In all fairness, turning off data completely in the settings would vastly extend the Evo’s standby time, but this defeats the purpose of having a super smartphone.

There are times when the phone has to be running on it’s internal battery, and I need extra battery life. I got to searching for alternative Evo batteries on Amazon.Com, and I ended up purchasing this Laza HTC Evo 4G 3500mAh Extended Battery + Cover for along with Laza Sprint HTC Evo 4G Extended Battery Silicone Case Black. I was able to get both of these items along with three extra screen covers for $22.54 from Amazon, a real bargain compared to pricey alternative, less-capable batteries sold by Best Buy or Sprint.

The replacement battery is thicker, and therefore the new back is needed to accommodate the extra battery thickness. It makes the phone thicker, hence the need for the alternative extended battery silicone case.

As previously stated, it does make the Evo 4G thicker than before, but even with the extra girth it still easily fits into my pants pocket.

The new battery does vastly increase the phone’s standby time. In normal use it would probably last me all day. Of course, I’m not a normal user – most of the time the Sprint WiFi Hotspot feature is turned on and the phone is paired with my iPod and frequently with my Macbook Pro. Using the phone as a WiFi hotspot I can probably get about 5 to 6 hours of heavy data usage before pushing Android into automatic shutdown. Overall, I love my Evo 4G and would still buy one today were I in need of a new phone.

Laza also sells a variety of extended batteries, backs and accommodating cases in a variety of colors for other Android phone models – simply search Amazon for “Laza.”

If you want extra battery life from your Evo 4G, I recommend checking out Laza.

“Mobile Phone” First Used In 1947? No…

According to a tweet today from @oedonline and subsequently retweeted by British author and actor @stephenfry, the first use of the term “mobile phone” was in Yank, The Army Weekly back in 1947. The context was, “They say the mobile phone will enable Doc Jones to start out on his rounds and keep in touch with his nurse back in the office.” Very prophetic.

Except that it seems to be wrong…it was 1945. Firstly, Yank ceased publication in December 1945 and secondly, one of the OED’s own quizzes has the question, “When did the mobile phone first enter the English language?” and then helpfully provides the answer of 1945. March issue apparently.

Given that Stephen Fry has over 2.7 million followers, this small error has propagated enormously, especially as the OED only has 8,000-odd followers. If you now do a search in Google, most of the hits reference Stephen Fry’s tweets. Only one entry in the whole ream of results actually is correct.

The Internet is a powerful tool for spreading information…and misinformation.

PS I’d like to emphasise that this post is in no way a criticism of Stephen Fry, of whom I’m a great fan.

Netflix Finally Meets Android

Netflix is finally coming to Android devices, albeit slowly, to specific devices at a time. So far, the free Netflix app will show up in the Android Marketplace on the HTC Evo 4G, the HTC Incredible, the HTC Nexus One, the HTC G2, and the Samsung Nexus S.

I have (and still love) a Sprint HTC Evo 4G, so upon discovering that Netflix was available I immediately installed it. The app appears to have a design very similar to the iPod/iPad/iPhone/iOS version, which I also have installed on my iPod Touch 4.

Check the Android Marketplace on your device as well as the Netflix.Com website for additional Android devices as they are added.