Category Archives: HTC

Android Causing WiFi Router Lockups

I’ve had an Android phone for about a year and a half (the HTC Evo from Sprint) but primarily because of battery use issues I’ve never used it on my home WiFi network.

In the interim, a few months ago I purchased a Barnes & Noble Nook Color, which runs a custom version of Android. I’ve also experimented with dual-booting the Nook with CyanogenMod 7, an open-source version of Android. When I dual-boot into CyanogenMod 7 and connect to my Apple Airport Extreme router, the router will loose Internet connectivity after only a few minutes, requiring me to cycle the router’s power off and back on to restore connectivity.

Now that I’ve been able to install the authorized version of Netflix onto the Nook after Barnes and Noble’s latest Nook OS update, I tried running Netflix on the Nook on my home network. After watching video for 15 or more minutes, my Apple router loses Internet connectivity.

My youngest brother has a newer HTC Android phone, and after he connected to my local WiFi network almost immediately the Apple router lost connectivity. It happened so frequently at one point that I was beginning to think the router was dying.

However, after futher experimentation I’ve determined that if I don’t connect any Android devices to my WiFi, the router seems to work as flawlessly as ever.

Time to check Mr. Google. Using the Google-suggested search term “android crashes router” (the term pops up immediately after I start typing “android cras   “ so I know plenty of other people are looking for a solution) 4,730,000 results come up. After reading through a number of posts by people experiencing the same issue, I have yet to come up with a definitive answer. What is it about a variety of versions of Android connecting to WiFi that is causing many different brands of routers to lose Internet connectivity? The problem is by no means an Apple Router/Android WiFi incompatibility – it therefore seems more likely an issue with Android itself, or at least certain Android builds.

The suggested fixes range from people suggesting that they try to update their router’s firmware to trying to confine the router to Wireless “G” only.

Ironically my HTC Evo phone can also be used as a WiFi hotspot. I can connect any Android device to the Evo’s WiFi hotspot feature and transfer all the data I want without issue. In other words, Android cannot cause my Android phone’s hotspot feature to lose Internet connectivity.

It would be logical to assume that this problem is an Android software issue. The problem seems inconsistent, most probably because of the patchwork-quilt variety of Android hardware and custom OS builds.

So far, the problem hasn’t even seemed to be officially acknowledged as an issue. I suspect that bad Android battery life has prevented a lot of people from trying to connect their Android phones to their home networks via WiFi, so mass numbers of people likely haven’t experienced the potential WiFi router crashing problem.

Of the people that do connect their phones to home WiFi routers, some people never have a problem, while others are constantly plagued by it.

Android crashing WiFi routers is enough to cause me to veer away from future Android devices, unless and until the problem is solved. Phase one of the chaos of the Windows desktop has spread to smartphones.

Welcome to the new Windows fractal – it’s name is Android.

I Feel Stupid

Windows Phone 7Over the break, there’s been a bit of discussion by some of the big names regarding the reasons why Windows Phone 7 handsets haven’t been flying off the shelves this holiday season. Charlie Kindel started the debate with “Windows Phone is Superior; Why Hasn’t It Taken Off?” and largely faults the relationship between the OEMs, Microsoft and the carriers.

MG Siegler responded with a fairly weak response largely citing the mantra of “too late and not enough apps” but as can be seen from today’s news of 50,000 apps in the Windows Phone Marketplace, the latter argument really isn’t that valid.

As usual, Robert Scoble hits the nail on the head. People buy Android or iOS because it’s a safe bet and they don’t want to look stupid or uncool by buying something else. Microsoft Windows Phone 7 and RIM’s Blackberries simply don’t have the gold-plated appeal of a sure-thing.

And he’s right. I was a big Palm fan and look how that turned out. I do feel stupid. After spending years waiting for Palm to move from PalmOS to WebOS and then HP promising to do big things. I bought in with a succession of Pre phones and pre-ordered a TouchPad. Maybe I shouldn’t be so shallow and have a less of an ego, because WebOS is a great operating system and even with the smaller app selection, it does 99% of what I need a phone to do. But when everyone else is, “Have you got this app and that app” on their Galaxy S IIs and iPhone 4Ss, you do feel a bit of a chump.

So thanks, HP. I feel stupid.

Boost Smartphone Battery Life

Mugen Power Batteries LogoToday’s smartphones are energy-sucking devices that can rarely go for a day or two without charging. I fondly remember my Nokia 6210 that could go a business week without needing a charge, but enough of the reminiscing.

If you do have a thirsty smartphone (or you get one for Christmas) and you find that the battery lets you down, you might be interested in Mugen Power Batteries, suppliers of replacement batteries for smartphones and other devices. Typically, a Mugen battery will offer an extra 10%-25% over the OEM battery of the same size. Take the battery for the HTC Wildfire S – the OEM is 1250 mAh but the Mugen version is 1500 mAh, giving an extra 22% more juice.

If you really need much more power, Mugen also sells batteries so big that you need a new back cover to fit it in. For the Samsung Galaxy S II, Mugen offers a 3200 mAh battery which nearly doubles the energy of the stock battery (1650 mAh), but the battery size increases too and a new back cover is needed. If you value talk time over aesthetics, it’s the only way to go.

Even Apple products are catered for, though as the iPhones et al don’t have user-replaceable batteries, the additional power has to come from an external unit.

Mugen are fairly well-known if you follow any of the main smartphone forums, and there are other vendors out there, but they seem to have the widest range with a good reputation, so if you need more power for your smartphone, check them out.

Android Leads UK Smartphone Race

Android LogoIn the UK, Android is beginning to dominate the smartphone space, with 50% of handsets sold in the last quarter running Android. RIM (Blackberry) and Apple are almost level pegging on 22% and 18% and with half of UK adults now owning a smartphone, Android has an impressive lead.

Breaking the Android figures down, HTC is the top dog, with nearly 45% of Android handsets sold. Samsung is picking up the pace at 38% but Sony Ericsson is the big loser, falling to 8.5% of the Android market.

Surprisingly, this means that HTC, Samsung, RIM and Apple are each taking about a quarter of the market. Compared with mindshare that Apple generally has and the dominance in the tablet market, it’s clear that the iPhone is under performing.

Personally, I would agree with the figures. Looking round the office, Android phones are definitely in the majority followed by iPhones and Blackberries. I think Blackberries are popular with younger people as both my nephews have that brand of phone. The breakdown of the Android shares also rings true. This time last year, it would have been exclusively HTC smartphones but now there are quite a few people sporting Samsung devices.

The research was carried out by Kantar Worldpanel ComTech over the past 12 weeks. To be fair, this probably means that iPhone sales were down as people waited for new model but there’s no doubt that Android is the no.1 smartphone OS in the UK.


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.

HTC Gratia Hands-On Review

As a mid-tier offering, the HTC Gratia doesn’t appear to get the same notice as the Sensations, Desires and Incredibles, which is a shame because it’s a good phone and will suit those who want a small Android phone but don’t have the cash for a top-end device. If you haven’t heard of the Gratia before and you live in the US, that’s because over there it’s known as the Aria. It’s largely the same device.

To get the specs out of the way, it’s an Android 2.2 device with a 3.2″ 320 x 480 touchscreen. Weights in at 115 g and measures 58 mm wide, 104 mm tall and 12 mm thick. All the expected radios and gadgets – 3G, wifi (b/g), bluetooth, GPS, compass, 5 MP camera, microSD expansion slot – the full specs are on HTC’s site (though it lists the Android version as 2.1).

As you’ll see from the pictures below, the review model had a white plastic back that had a slightly matt finish to it. The phone felt comfortable in the hand and the detail of the extra screws on the back gave the Gratia an “industrial” edge, which I liked. I didn’t try to find out if the screws actually held anything together or were only for effect.

Taking the back off reveals the SIM slot, the microSD slot and the battery. At the bottom left, the two contacts are for aerials that were embedded into the back cover. The micro USB connector is in the middle. The back covers the sides, top and bottom as well.

Side on, there’s a sense of the shape and how it feels in the hand. It’s not a thin phone, but it’s not a fat one either.  It’s comfortable. As with most devices, there’s a little bit of bevelling to make it feel thinner than it really is.

Enough on the physical, what’s it like to use as a phone? Unsurprisingly, it’s much like every other HTC Android 2.2 phone. It comes with the HTC Sense enhancements and there did seem to be a few little extra launcher customisations that I hadn’t seen before. Unfortunately, I didn’t have another phone handy to compare and they may simply be incremental updates that went along with 2.2.

Generally, the phone was responsive using both the touchscreen and the trackpad. Animations were smooth and scrolling up and down lists was good. The usual slew of apps was present and the Gratia has access to the Android Market if you need more. Audio and video playback was fine with no glitches or jerkiness on the files I tried. Some other reviews said the Gratia was “underpowered” but I can’t really say that performance was an issue, though I’m not a big game player which seems to be the focus of the issue. And of course, if you do have lots of apps open, it will begin to slow down.

Setting up apps with accounts to access email, Facebook, Twitter, etc. was all by the numbers, as it were. I was up and running with the Gratia within minutes of turning the phone on.

Battery life was ok – I got a day’s worth of work out of it with some to spare and that’s with a bit of email, bit of surfing, bit of music listening. A typical day as far as I was concerned, but the Gratia will need recharged overnight for the next day.

Pricewise, off-contract the Gratia is generally available around £275 with the best prices being close to £250. I was unable to find any UK mobile telco carrying the Gratia at present so I can’t comment on contract prices.

Overall, this a fine mid-range smartphone at a fair price. There’s plenty to recommend and not too much to complain about. For someone looking for an Android 2.2 phone that’s not going to break the bank off-contract, this is a good choice.

Thanks to HTC for the loan of the Gratia.

HTC Dual USB Car Charger

If you spend a lot of time in your car and frequently need to charge your devices there then HTC has a cool little gadget for you.  The HTC Car Charger plugs into your vehicle’s 12v outlet and outputs two standard USB charging ports.  It also comes with a coiled USB / mini-USB cord.  However it can be used with any standard USB / mini-USB cord, such as the one that comes with pretty much all phones these days.  It also claims it can us “intelligent variable rate charging prevents overcharging your battery.”

It’s official rated for HTC devices including: HTC Desire S, Sensation, EVO View 4G, Flyer, Droid Incredible 2, Droid Incredible S, EVO 3D, Inspire 4G, Thunderbolt, EVO Shift 4G, Merge, Wildfire, Desire Z, Desire HD, Aria, Desire, Evo 4G, Droid Incredible / Nexus One, T-Mobile G2, T-Mobile myTouch Slide.  However, any phone that charges in this method will work just fine with this device.

It retails for $19.95 over at the Andoid Central store, but if you search around online then you may be able to find a better deal.  In fact, that’s exacly what I am going to be doing this evening.