Mr Aberthon https://mraberthon.com The Hotspot & Phone Professional Sat, 15 Dec 2018 01:57:51 +0000 en hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.9 Netar Unite Express Review https://mraberthon.com/netar-unite-express-review/ https://mraberthon.com/netar-unite-express-review/#respond Mon, 03 Dec 2018 23:20:08 +0000 https://mraberthon.com/?p=14019 Looking for a way to stay online while on the go? Try out the Netgear Unite Express. Of course, you can find out all about it first, as we'd written up an extremely thorough look into this hotspot.

The post Netar Unite Express Review appeared first on Mr Aberthon.

]]>
Mobile hotspots are probably the most underrated cell phone accessory around. Given their relatively low price, they should be a part of everyone’s travel bag.

If you have young kids, you’ll know that sharing your phone or tablet is just an occupational hazard. You’ll also know, having found out the hard way, that they have no concept of data use. Whether it’s how much, or what they download. A good mobile hotspot will help you to control both of those things, whilst allowing up to 10 people share a single data connection.

The Unite Express is a budget-range offering from Netgear, one of the leaders in data devices and mobile hotspots. It is available from Mr Aberthon for just $59, or barely the price of family pizza night. Sometimes, the simple things are the best things, but does the Unite Express use simplicity as a tool or as a way to save money?

Scores For the Netgear Unite Express

Netgear Unite Express hotspot lying on a pink laptop and near an iPad and smartphone

The Unite Express has been rated 4.3/5 by our experts at Mr Aberthon. They liked almost everything about it and felt it offered good value for the price. The score breakdown is as follows:

Price (4.5/5)

Portability (5/5)

Features (3.75/5)

Performance (4/5)

Just about anyone can find a use for a mobile hotspot, even if they don’t realize it. Families on a trip, business people on the road, people in WiFi dead spots, all will find a lot of use for the Netgear Unite Express.

For some, it will be an essential part of their business needs. Even today, not everywhere has a WiFi network publicly available. If you work on the road, as a salesman, truck driver or whatever, it’s useful to be able to get a laptop online when you need to. The Unite Express does all that, and with the absolute minimum of fuss.

Understanding The Netgear Unite Express

Netgear Unite Express in use at a clipart beach promo

A mobile hotspot isn’t like a home router, although it does allow some of the same features in a roundabout sort of way. Just as you can connect a bunch of devices to your home network by using a password, so you do exactly the same with the Unite Express.

The device creates its own WiFi hotspot with a password that you set. Now when the network name appears on someone’s device, they can connect to it as long as you have given them the password. If you haven’t, they can’t. It’s as simple as that.

You can connect up to 10 devices at once, although it needs to be said that each of the 10 will take a share of the available bandwidth. Even though the Netgear Express is 4G, there’s still a finite amount of bandwidth available at any one time. If you have 10 people all trying to watch 4K movies, then you’ll hit a point where it just isn’t possible. This isn’t a limitation of the Unite Express, it’s a limitation of 4G services in the US at present.

The Unite Express uses 802.11 n WiFi which, whilst not the fastest available, still has a lot more bandwidth capacity than 4G can throw at it.

Main Specifications

Size

4.4 x 2.7 x 0.6 inches
Weight

4.6 oz

Network

GSM Only (Unlocked)
Max. Devices

10

Battery

10 hrs Continuous, 240 hrs Standby
Micro SD Slot

No

3G bands

850, 1900, 2100
4G bands

700, 850, 1700, 1900, 2100

Security Features

Netgear Unite Express at a clipart camping ground

As well as using a secure password to access the network, you can also set up guest Wi-Fi access. This generates a random password that is single use only. Only one user can use the password, and it expires immediately on login. This doesn’t disconnect the user, but does mean that they cannot reuse the password if they disconnect. This is a great way to make sure young family members are sneaking online when you don’t know.

Public Wi-Fi in places like Starbucks is great, but it’s also potentially insecure. You don’t actually know who might be monitoring your activity online. Additionally, if you see the official WiFi network name as, say, “starFi”, would you automatically notice if it were “star_Fi”, or even “5tarFi”? Anybody with a smartphone or a laptop in the same place can create an ad hoc network with a similar name and an identical password. They can then monitor everything you do. Online banking login? No problem at all with the right tools.

With the Unite Express guest login, that can’t happen. Nobody knows the password except you and the person you give it to. If you use your smartphone on mobile data, it’s pretty secure unless you have an app that isn’t secure at all of course. The Unite Express recreates that same network security.

Price of the Netgear Unite Express

It’s a lot to ask someone to pay hundreds of dollars for a device they might use only a few times in any year. But $59? It’s a steal, frankly. You will get mobile hotspots with better features, but you’ll also pay a lot more. The best thing about the Unite Express is that you can set and forget. Unless you do use guest logins regularly, or want to change your network name or password, you’ll only ever need to go through the setup process once. Even then, it takes just a few minutes.

It does have its competitors, though, even at this price. Even within the Netgear range, there are similar devices, each with slightly different specs. As an example, there is no touch screen on the Unite Express. This really helps to keep the price down. As you go further up the Netgear range, you have the standard Unite at $99, the Unite Explore at $149 and you can go all the way up to the revolutionary and groundbreaking Nighthawk Mobile Router. Each brings new functionality at each stage, with improved performance. But, if your needs are reasonably modest, the Unite Express is a great place to start.

Design of the Netgear Unite Express

clipart people at the park using the Netgear Unite Express

Mobile hotspots aren’t sexy by anybody’s standards. However they do need to be compact and light for maximum portability. Fortunately, the Unite Express is exactly that.

It’s about the size of a pack of playing cards, and about the same weight. The finish is a nice textured grey, and there is only a power button and the non-touch screen display to look at it.

Functional, is probably the best way to describe it, but, after all, what else do you need?

Conclusion

There are better mobile hotspots than the Unite Express, but they cost more. The lack of a touch screen is a little disappointing, but not enough to want to pay a lot more for the privilege of having it. Battery life is good, without being stellar, offering up to 10 hours continuous use. There’s no fancy stuff like being able to pass charge to another device, and there’s also no Micro SD card slot. Other devices a little higher up the chain have one or more of all those, so you do get only the basics with the Unite Express.

However, it is 4G, which some aren’t, and it performs very well. For the price, it’s tough to do better.

The post Netar Unite Express Review appeared first on Mr Aberthon.

]]>
https://mraberthon.com/netar-unite-express-review/feed/ 0
ZTE Blade Spark Review https://mraberthon.com/zte-blade-spark-review/ https://mraberthon.com/zte-blade-spark-review/#respond Wed, 28 Nov 2018 03:24:13 +0000 https://mraberthon.com/?p=14047 Take a look at the fabulous cameras, the fingerprint sensor, the size, memory and just about everything else, and you will be impressed with the Blade Spark. Yet are there any downsides to this amazing device? Find out in this in-depth review.

The post ZTE Blade Spark Review appeared first on Mr Aberthon.

]]>
In the last 5 or 6 years, the long-term duopoly of Samsung and Apple has been challenged increasingly by smartphone makers from the far east. HTC, Huawei, Xiaomi and more have emerged to show that the best smartphones needn’t cost the prices the big 2 were trying to get away with. One of the leaders of this technical revolution was ZTE.

What ZTE did, rather than immediately try and challenge for the top end of the market, was to aim at the real bread and butter of the industry. Collectively, far more mid-range devices are sold every year than are high-end devices. It was this far more accessible market which ZTE set their sites on. They used very high quality components to create smartphones with all the specs of a flagship smartphone, but at a fraction of the price.

As a result, the ZTE brand gained traction quickly, leading to an excellent range of smartphones that were as affordable as they were impressive.

Introducing the ZTE Blade Spark

The ZTE Blade Spark taking an image of greenery

On paper, the ZTE Blade Spark doesn’t look like any kind of budget smartphone. It has a level of hardware, at least on paper, which looks able to outrun any of its rivals at this price point. A big screen, a bigger battery, and high pixel cameras front and back.

The Blade Spark also brings features which, up to this time had been limited to the big ticket smartphones. As we know from experience, though, packing a smartphone with hardware is no guarantee of quality. To see how the ZTE Blade Spark measures up, we handed it off to our team of testers to see what they think.

The ZTE Blade Spark is available for just $129, brand new and fully unlocked.

Scores For The ZTE Blade Spark

The back of the ZTE Blade Spark  showing its camera lens

Our reviews team gave the ZTE Blade Spark a total score of 4.3/5. This is taken from the categories below:

  • Design (4/5)
  • Build (4.3/5)
  • Display (4.1/5)
  • Cameras (4.6/5)
  • Hardware (4.6/5)
  • Software (4/5)

As it turns out, the list of high spec components didn’t disappoint. What ZTE claimed the Blade Spark is capable of, it pretty much was. The list of hardware in the device just seems to go o and on, and it all works really well together. Having a lot of hardware can put pressure on both the CPU and battery, but we saw almost no evidence of that.

Full Specs

The bottom of the ZTE Blade Spark while on a wooden table

Size

6.14 x 3.06 x 0.38 in
Weight

6.12 oz

Display Size

5.5”
Display Resolution

720 x 1280 px

Cameras

13MP / 5MP

Internal Storage

16GB
MicroSD Card Slot

Yes – up to 128GB

4G

Yes

Battery Life

17 hours talk time / 10 days standby

Price

$129

Design and Build

A side view of the ZTE Blade Spark while its lying on a wooden table outdoors

Let’s be brutally honest here. It’s kinda difficult to get enthusiastic about modern smartphone design. The ZTE Blade Spark looks perfectly okay, it’s just that it looks like almost any other smartphone. That’s not really a criticism, merely an observation. Actually, it’s probably not fair to just judge the ZTE by it’s (a bit plain) front cover. The criss-cross effect on the back case actually looks and feels pretty nice. It also helps to make the large case of the Blade Spark a lot easier to handle, even with average sized hands.

The Blade Spark is also a little thicker than most of its rivals. Side by side, this can make the Blade Spark look a little chunky, but it isn’t bad news for users. That extra thickness, and we’re talking only about 7 0r 8/100th of an inch, adds to the feeling of security in the hand. The Blade Spark is over 6″ tall, so that extra bit of something to hang on to is not in any way a bad thing.

Display

Someone using the ZTE Blade Spark to play a racing game

The Blade Spark has a 5.5″ screen. If you’re coming from something like an iPhone, it will look absolutely huge to you. With a 720 x 1280 px resolution, a 5.5″ display is probably the maximum size that can be effective, before quality starts to suffer. Big displays and low resolutions can result in a soft image, lacking any kind of sharpness. The Blade Spark does manage to stay the right side of the clarity line, with pictures looking good and bright, and movies look just great on the almost cinematic screen.

As an example of the great hardware ZTE have packed in, the display has both a proximity sensor and an ambient light sensor. The proximity sensor is what causes the display to go off if you’re on a call because it knows it’s against your ear. Or it can show the notification screen if you pass your hand over the sensor area. The ambient light sensor is even more useful. If you use a smartphone in a very dark room, without the sensor, it feels like the phone can be seen from the moon it’s so bright. The ambient sensor reduces or increase the brightness of the display according to the environment. Both sensors can be a big help in preserving battery life, as the display is the biggest drain on power by far.

Cameras
Taking a picture of a forest using the ZTE Blade Spark

At 13MP and 5MP, the cameras of the Blade Spark have a lot in the tank. The rear camera is really and truly excellent. It takes outstanding still pictures, and great quality Full HD video. You can record time lapse video, make video calls and even share videos directly from the app. Also, you can pause recording, to end up with a single file instead of several short clips.

You have several options for images such as HDR, panorama, timelapse and even multi-exposure to capture multiple scenes in a single image. Full manual control over exposure, focus and more is also an option.

The cameras of the Blade Spark, backed up by a great use of the camera app, are a great experience. We’d actually say it’s one of the most responsive and useful camera setups we’ve seen. This is regardless of the low price of the ZTE. The cameras here are just that good.

The front camera is also an excellent performer, with quality selfies being produced every time. Although there is no LED flash, there is the “white screen” method available. This produces a bright white display to provide light for selfies.

Hardware

A hand showing the ZTE Blade Spark  in front of an outdoor wall

The processor in the Blade Spark is a very useful quad core, 1.4Ghz CPU with dedicated graphics processor. This means the Blade Spark is zippy enough to cope with everything you ask it to do in normal everyday use.  Internal storage is a healthy 16GB, and you can add a further 128GB if you need to.

The battery is simply huge. Because of the extra space in the large case, ZTE have added a 3140 mAh battery. It should be plenty to keep you running all day and more.

On the back case is a fingerprint sensor. This can be used to unlock the phone quickly and easily. It might also be used in compatible apps, such as banking, for extra account security. We wouldn’t really have expected a fingerprint sensor on a smartphone at this price. Props to ZTE for adding it.

The USB connector is USB-C. It might mean you need to ditch all your old USB cables, but see that as a positive. USB-C connectors are not only much stronger than previous version, but also reversible. So, no more having that little guy who lives inside your phone flipping the port around when he sees the cable approaching.

Software

The apps in the ZTE Blade Spark

The ZTE ships with Android 7 Nougat. This is one of the best Android versions in recent years. It is stable and fast and adds a whole host of extra security measures. ZTE also don’t load apps onto the Blade Spark that you just don’t need. That fact alone would normally be enough to impress us and put the score up a notch or two.

Great hardware, perfectly capable software. It’s a winning combination.

Conclusion

We said, right at the top of this review, that ZTE give value for money. The Blade Spark shows that we were right. The sensors built into the display, a fingerprint sensor and great cameras are a fine example of how to put a smartphone together. Just as importantly, it’s an example of how to do it for an amazingly low price.

The post ZTE Blade Spark Review appeared first on Mr Aberthon.

]]>
https://mraberthon.com/zte-blade-spark-review/feed/ 0
LG G4 Review https://mraberthon.com/lg-g4-review/ https://mraberthon.com/lg-g4-review/#respond Wed, 28 Nov 2018 03:05:07 +0000 https://mraberthon.com/?p=14041 With great cameras, quick system and large memory slot, you are bound to be impressed with the LG G4. Want to know all of its ins and outs before considering it as your smartphone? Well you are in luck right here with our comprehensive review of the device.

The post LG G4 Review appeared first on Mr Aberthon.

]]>
LG are among the most innovative smartphone manufacturers around. Where many follow, it is usually LG at the front trying out new things.

Some work well, some not so well, but the company deserve a lot of credit for never letting the rest of the industry get too comfy. As part of that strategy, we have the G4 smartphone, the flagship of the LG range. The G4 was something of a triumph at the time of its release in 2015. For the first time, LG truly challenged Samsung , Apple and the rest. Before that, although the innovation was there, performance was adequate but not exceptional.

But, 3 years on, is the G4 still a competitor? We gave it to our smartphone experts to see. You can get the LG G4 brand new and unlocked from Mr Aberthon for $199. This price also includes a free second battery.

Introducing the LG G4

The LG G4 in its on position standing upright

When something is given the “flagship” tag, certain expectations immediately appear. Performance, looks and top specs on the display and cameras are usually top of the list.

On paper, the G4 plays all the right notes. But is it playing them in the right order? At Mr Aberthon, we do demand more from any flagship device than we’d expect from a device further down the list. We do make some allowances for a device which is now 3 years old, but we would also still expect it to be as good, if not better than most mid-to-high end models from most manufacturers.

Scores For the LG G4

A man in a red shirt holding the LG G4

The overall score for the LG G4, as determined by our team at Mr Aberthon is 4.2/5. This is broken down by category below.

  • Design (4/5)
  • Build (4/5)
  • Display (4/5)
  • Cameras (4.5/5)
  • Performance (4.25/5)
  • Hardware (4/5)
  • Software (4.5/5)

4.2/5 is a very decent score for a smartphone which is now 3 years old, and which has been superseded by three further iterations of the G series. In the main, the G4 proved a very capable performer, and still worth consideration today.

Full Specs

A closeup of hte home buttons of a LG G4

Size 5.86 x 2.99 x 0.25-0.38 in
Weight 5.47 oz
Display Size 5.5”
Display Resolution 2560 x 1440 px Quad HD
Cameras 16MP / 8MP
Battery Capacity 3000 ,Ah
Battery Life 20 hrs Talk / 440 hrs Standby
4G Yes
Internal Storage 32GB
Micro SD Card Slot Yes – Up to 256GB
Price $199

Design and Build

The slim side view of a LG G4 lying on a white table

The G4 isn’t quite so “sharp” in design as some LG smartphones. However, it still looks great, and has a nice grey textured back. The rear case is curved slightly, which provides a nice feeling in the hand, even for extended periods.

There’s no great revolution in the design of the G4, with the possible exception of the shape of the display. If you look at the G4 side on, you will see a subtle, but definitely noticeable curve from top to bottom. This is to make sure that the display looks the same all the way up and down. Often, smartphone displays only look their best from a single angle, with colors appearing differently in different areas of the screen, according to your line of sight. The curved screen fixes this pretty well, and is a good idea that more makers should employ.

The curve actually extends to the case itself, making the G4 a little thicker at one end than the other, and providing the best feeling of grip possible.

There’s certainly nothing to complain about from the design and build quality. It’s nice looking, it’s solid and it feels great.

Display

A hand holding the LG G4 near a window

With a 5.5″, Quad HD display, you’d be entitled to believe that the display is decent enough to make any use of the G4 a good one. And you’d be right. It’s an IPS LCD display, rather than the more common Super AMOLED used by Samsung and others. This can mean that blacks aren’t quite black due to all pixels receiving power constantly. The resulting lack of contrast can be disappointing, but there’s no sign of it here. Whatever LG have done to get the best from the display, it has worked wonderfully well. Colors and sharpness are crisp and vibrant, without being overdone, and contrast is as good as any Super AMOLED screen.

Why Quad HD and not 4K? Well, to be blunt, it really isn’t necessary on a 5.5″ display, and certainly not with a pixel density north of 500 ppi. The higher the number, the sharper the image, so it’s unlikely that a 4K display would actually offer that much more.

Movies and games all looked excellent on the G4, with smooth playback from the excellent processor and never a hint of tearing or other problems.

Cameras
Two hands holding the LG G4 to take a picture

We’re quite happy to say that the rear camera on the G4 is as good as anything anybody else has put on a camera to date. And we include Samsung and all their cameras in later devices. One big plus for the G4 is the f/1.8 maximum aperture. In short, the lower the f number, the more light hits the sensor. At f/1.8, there’s a ton of light being utilized. This means that even low light images are vibrant and crisp. They don’t have any of the nasty digital noise you often see in low light smartphone images.

A special infrared sensor sets white balance and exposure, and you also have image stabilization and laser autofocus. Without getting into too much detail, if you are a keen photographer, you’ll love the ability to shoot in RAW mode, producing the Adobe standard DNG files. All in all, this may be the best equipped rear camera we’ve seen. As a bonus, it also shoots 4K video.

The front camera is equally impressive. At 8MP, it outshines many rivals, and is very good in low light. Dark environments often prove too much for most front cameras, which generally lack flash, but the G4 copes very well. There are also selfie gestures available to avoid having to reach for the shutter button.

Performance

The LG G4 in use over a white table

Mostly, we see smartphones sporting Quad Core or Octa (8) Core processors. The G4 is a little unusual in that it has a Hexa (6) Core setup. In effect what this does is give outstanding performance, but only up to a point. Push the G4 too far and it will start to drag a little. Admittedly, we had to push it further than you’ll ever need to in real world use, but we’d have preferred LG to go a little further. However, just to reiterate, the G4 is blazingly fast in normal use.

Battery life is also very good. LG claim 20 hours of talktime from the 3000mAh battery. Tests showed the G3 didn’t get that far, but it outpaced anything else it was up against by some distance.

The G4 is quick and reliable which, if we were all honest about it, is half the battle.

Hardware

The back of the LG G4

802.11ac dual-band WiFi, Bluetooth 4.1, enhanced GPS, NFC, Infrared, FM Radio, the list seems endless. Fast charging providing 50% in 30 minutes is available, as is wireless charging although you’ll need an optional cover for the latter.

There’s also a Micro SD card slot.

Software

A Closeup view of the apps on a LG G4

Usually, this is where we complain about how much bloat manufacturers add to their smartphones. This time, we’re going to let it pass. There is some, but not much, and the fact that the G4 uses the fabulous LG UX interface really makes up for it. LG add a ton of useful features to the stock Android through UX.

You have a smart cleaning tool to free up space. You can have the option to run two apps at once, in a split screen mode and you have smart settings. This is where you can set up tasks to automatically activate on certain conditions. For example, connect bluetooth headphones and your music app can start. You can ask the G4 to change the sound profile based on your location, This is handy if you want to run a quieter profile in your home. A great option is to turn off WIFi when away from home. The constant searching for WiFi can take a lot of juice out of the battery, so it’s an incredibly useful feature.

Yes, we love the LG UX.

Conclusion

The G4 might be 3 years old, but you’d never know it. It still performs wonderfully and is still a match for any smartphone out there. As it happens, it may well be LG’s best G series phone up until the recent G7 ThinQ was released. That says something about how good it is.

The UX is also the best manufacturer interface available by miles. make no mistake, the G4 is one darned good smartphone.

The post LG G4 Review appeared first on Mr Aberthon.

]]>
https://mraberthon.com/lg-g4-review/feed/ 0
Samsung Galaxy S4 Review https://mraberthon.com/samsung-galaxy-s4-review/ https://mraberthon.com/samsung-galaxy-s4-review/#respond Wed, 28 Nov 2018 02:45:02 +0000 https://mraberthon.com/?p=14033 Always a great company, Samsung created the Samsung S4 to top the line of the time. Yet is it still worth it to buy it today when a couple of years have passed? Take a look at the facts in this complete guide to the Samsung S4.

The post Samsung Galaxy S4 Review appeared first on Mr Aberthon.

]]>
The Galaxy series of Samsung smartphones actually has several incarnations. All budgets and requirements are catered for but, sitting at the very top of the pile is the Galaxy S. It took a while for a lot of smartphone manufacturers to wake up to what was needed at the top end of the market if they were going to rival the iPhone for people’s hearts and minds. Samsung were one of the first manufacturers to focus on a developing series of smartphones as opposed to a one-off device. It’s probably no coincidence that the Galaxy S series is the number one contender, with the iPhone, for the top spot.

As far as brands, and not just single series’ of smartphones go, Samsung is still the number one by quite some margin. Although the company’s market share has reduced in recent years, it is still the number one in global smartphone sales.

Despite pressure from other far east brands like Huawei, vivo, HTC and others, Samsung has managed to maintain its edge as the leader.

Introducing the Samsung Galaxy S4

The Samsung Galaxy S4 held in front of a brick wall

Although not the most recent Samsung Galaxy S device, the S4 still packs a substantial punch. Indeed, when stacked against current mid-range smartphones, it fares very well. But is it fair to judge a flagship device against less-expensive models? In this case, we think so. The tech specs of the S4 are really now in line with current mid-range releases from a range of manufacturers. And you’re not paying flagship prices any longer for the S4, which further justifies the comparison shift.

In fact, despite the S4 now being 4+ years old, the specs put it above almost all current mid-range devices but at a lower price. This makes the S4, and other older flagship phones, a very viable consideration when looking for a new smartphone without paying hundreds of dollars.

With a quality display, lightning fast processor, quality cameras, wireless charging and much more, the S4 is still a very capable and desirable smartphone. But exactly how capable? We asked our smartphone team to have a look and put the S4 through its paces.

The Samsung Galaxy S4 is available for just $149, brand new and fully unlocked.

Scores For The Samsung Galaxy S4

A Man in a sweatshirt holding the Samsung Galaxy S4 facing himself

Our reviewers gave the Samsung Galaxy S4 an overall score of 4.4/5. This is based on the following categories:

  • Design (4.3/5)
  • Build (4.2/5)
  • Display (4.7/5)
  • Cameras (4.6/5)
  • Hardware (4.4/5)
  • Software (4.1/5)

It’s a fair assessment of the Galaxy S4 to say that the hardware, in particular, has stood the test of time extremely well. Not only do some components still easily outstrip any mid-range smartphone, they also give many high end phones a run for their money. It might seem a little odd that we would recommend a 4 year old smartphone, but here it is. The Galaxy S4 is a terrific smartphone at a terrific price. If this were released today, it would fly off the shelves with the performance it brings.

Full Specs

The Samsung Galaxy S4 standing upright in front of bright bokeh

Size

5.38 x 2.75 x 0.31 in
Weight

4.59 oz

Display Size

5”

Display Resolution

1920 x 1080px Full HD
Cameras

13MP / 2MP

Internal Storage

16GB

MicroSD Card Slot

Yes – up to 64GB
Battery Life

17 hours talk time / 15 days standby

4G

Yes
Price

$149

Design and Build

A hand holding the Samsung Galaxy S4 at an angle in front of a brick wall

Unmistakably Samsung, is the best way to describe the Galaxy S4. All Samsung smartphones have an entirely consistent look. There are some slight variations across the different models, but there’s still no way to not know the S4 is a Samsung phone. The faux metal band around the edge of the S4 makes a comeback here. It helps to give a more premium feel than the plastic case might otherwise have brought. Samsung have actually gone to some lengths to reduce the size and weight of the S4. It’s just 0.31″ thick and weighs an incredibly lightweight 4.59 oz. Despite these very modest figures, the S4 does feel pretty solid. Any more weight loss and the device might have started to actually feel a little too light for a flagship phone. As it is, it’s just about perfect.

Unlike later models, the home button is still a nice hardware version. There’s nothing like feeling that “click” under your fingertips. It makes finding it in low light so much easier, and is one of the sad losses of “innovation” in the smartphone industry.

Although there’s nothing particularly groundbreaking about the design of the Galaxy S4, it is all warmly comfortable. The power and volume rocker buttons are on opposite sides to each other, which is always a good thing. The buttons also feel very solid in use.

All in all, you could put a Samsung Galaxy S4 alongside any comparably priced smartphone and not see any indication that the S4 has done anything other than age very well.

Display

The Samsung Galaxy S4 lying horizontally on a table showing a pretty sunset image

Even today, many mid-range devices are still carrying 720p displays. That the S4 has a 1080p Full HD screen is testament to the quality of the phone. And, as one of Samsung’s amazing Super AMOLED displays, the quality is just superb. Colors are, like with all Samsung phones, big and bold with plenty of saturation and contrast.

Despite the relatively small dimensions and weight of the Galaxy S4, the display is a nice 5″ in size. This is the perfect size for all round use. Although not the big, cinematic experience we are now seeing with plus sized smartphones, it is very simple to use one handed. The 5″ display also offers plenty of screen space for social media, email etc. , and still fits easily into any pocket.

Cameras

Closeup of man in long orange hair holding the Samsung Galaxy S4

In all honesty, the S4 does come from a time when front cameras were still not the priority. Sensor costs, generally, meant that all the effort went into the rear camera, with the front camera reserved for selfies. Although “only” 2MP, the front camera of the S4 does have a few tricks up its sleeve. It can record Full HD video and also allows both cameras to be used simultaneously for either still images or video calling.

The rear camera, though, is something else. At 13MP, and with the ability to record Full HD video, that might be enough. However, the quality of the images and video is also top drawer stuff. But, if you still want more, the list of features for the rear camera is breathtaking. There’s something called “Sound & Shot” which allows up to 9 seconds of audio to be captured with a still image. Although not something you’d want for everyday shots, it’s a great option for special moments.  You then have “Drama Shot” which combines several frames into a single image. This is great for shooting moving objects in a single still image.

The camera app itself isn’t complicated, and is aimed at keeping things easy to access and easy to use. You also have panorama and, HDR  modes, together with lots of filters to improve your photos.

The rear camera on the Galaxy S4 is still just about one of the best you can get.

Hardware

The Samsung Galaxy S4 with its white back facing the camera while standing upright on a white table

You won’t see too many mid-range smartphones with an 8 core processor. Quad core is much more common, which makes the S4 a little bit special at this price. It didn’t matter what we threw at the S4, it just strode purposefully on, matching our needs and expectations with power to spare.

Dual band, 802.11 ac WiFi, Bluetooth, NFC and even an infrared port make up an impressive feature set. You get 16GB of internal storage which, if not enough for you, can be expanded by another 64GB in the MicroSD card slot.

The 2600 mAh battery offers up to 17 hours of talk time or 15 days of standby. There’s also wireless charging for the ultimate convenience.

Software

Someone playing a game on the Samsung Galaxy S4 while in front of a computer screen

As well as the great camera app mentioned above, the Samsung Galaxy S4 has a few more surprises. Air Gesture allows you to move between images or other content quickly, and also lets you answer calls all without touching the screen. You can share your screen with your contacts quickly and simply.

Perhaps best of all, if you are watching video, and look away from the screen, the Galaxy S4 detects this, and pauses the video for you. It will even remember the spot across sessions, and let you pick up exactly where you left off. We weren’t convince this would work flawlessly, but it did so almost all the time. We found that just glancing away with eye movement didn’t always pause the video, but head movement did it every time. The more we used it, the more useful it became as we got the hang of triggering it every single time.

Samsung also include their well-liked S Health suite of apps. These provide a full health and exercise group of apps that are very useful, and very well done.

Conclusion

It would be unfair to say the Galaxy S4 struggles to compete with brand new flagship smartphones. Put any flagship from 4 years ago up against its present day alternative and none would fair as well as the S4.

Performance is outstanding, the display is amazing and the rear camera is just too good not to be impressed.

For $149, we really don’t think you’ll find a better smartphone.

The post Samsung Galaxy S4 Review appeared first on Mr Aberthon.

]]>
https://mraberthon.com/samsung-galaxy-s4-review/feed/ 0
Netgear Nighthawk Mobile Router Review https://mraberthon.com/netgear-nighthawk-mobile-router-review/ https://mraberthon.com/netgear-nighthawk-mobile-router-review/#respond Sun, 25 Nov 2018 20:52:26 +0000 https://mraberthon.com/?p=14016 Just as a lion is the king of the forest, the Netgear Nighthawk is the top of the line. So much so, that it is pretty much incomparable to the rest of the hotspots available.

The post Netgear Nighthawk Mobile Router Review appeared first on Mr Aberthon.

]]>
The Netgear Nighthawk Mobile Router is a sort of cross between the type of router you may have at home, and a mobile hotspot. It isn’t truly a router in that it can do everything a true router can do, but it does go much further than most mobile hotspots.

Netgear have long been a leader in devices for receiving and transmitting data. It seems reasonable, then, that they might be in a position to claim some sort of superiority as they do with the Nighthawk Mobile Router. But here’s the immediate glaring issue. The Nighthawk Mobile Router is expensive. Very expensive, in fact, in comparison to most mobile hotspots. Does it do enough for its money to justify the high price?

We set our mobile data experts loose on the Nighthawk to decide exactly that.

Scores For The Nighthawk Mobile Router

Netgear Nighthawk with a blue and black background

When tested by our experts, the  Nighthawk Mobile Router scored 4.4/5. Such a score is rare, as there’s almost always something which will drag the overall total down a little. Although that is the case her with one category, the rest kept the level high.

Anybody who is serious about staying connected on the move will love the Netgear Nighthawk Mobile Router. But, oh, that price.

Price (4/5)

Design (4.75/5)

Hardware (4.5/5)

Performance (5/5)

Portability (4.75/5)

Availability (3.5/5)

People Who Would Benefit From Owning A Nighthawk Mobile Router

A Woman using her ipad via the Netgear Nighthawk

Mobile hotspots  are useful for just about anybody who travels even modestly with family or friends. But the Nighthawk Mobile Router is for those who demand more. It’s no casual device for just getting online occasionally. Instead, it is meant for those who need serious mobile data access on a regular basis.

The performance from the Nighthawk Mobile Router is the key. It will, unlike almost all mobile hotspots, outrun every single network out there. If your 4G speed is anything like fast (and not all are, by the way), then the Nighthawk will easily keep up with bandwidth to spare. Some people who would have a genuine use for it would be:

  • People who need an ultra fast data connection all the time
  • Anybody who needs to know they can get online at a moment’s notice
  • Someone who works out of their car or a hotel room on a daily basis
  • Just about anybody serious about remote working in difficult conditions

Pricing The Nighthawk Mobile Router

People camping and using the Netgear Nighthawk as an internet source

As great as the Nighthawk Mobile Router is, there’s no getting around the cost. The cheapest we can find, even for a used model, is around $150. Brand new, even with a hefty data contract, you will be facing an initial cost well above $100. For an outright purchase, you will need something approaching $300+ before you even get near the retail price.

And that, for many people, will be a problem.

However, the Nighthawk Mobile Router isn’t really aimed at casual users. The target market is those who truly have an everyday need  for such a device. This usually means people who will see it as a business purchase, and then the price becomes easier to swallow. Tech heads who like to have the best will also see the appeal, despite the high cost. For everybody else, though, it is a bit of a stretch, financially.

Understanding the Netgear Nighthawk Mobile Router

The Netgear Nighthawk  on a rockbed

A true router uses upload and download links to pass information through a broadband connection. The Nighthawk is restricted to using the available mobile data connection of the SIM card it carries. It does have an ethernet port, but it is output only. You can attach the Nighthawk to any computer that has an ethernet port (they all do), and use the mobile data connection coming from the Nighthawk. It’s wired tethering, basically, but via ethernet.

The key to the Nighthawk Mobile Router is speed. It has 4G LTE Cat 16 speed capability. By now, most people will know what 4G and LTE mean in some sense. But the Cat 16? As with any official standard, sometimes they get extended by 3rd parties. LTE isn’t really an official 4G standard, but it is accepted as a parallel standard which broadly mirrors true 4G. Within LTE, we have various speed categories, and we’ve now reached Cat 18. Cat 17 and Cat 18 are actually not consumer standards, so Cat 16 is the fastest practical speed available.

In theory, it means download speeds of 1Gbps. This is 1000Mbps or around 125 Megabytes per second download speed. However, there are no 4G networks currently delivering such high speeds. In the US, the average 4G speed is – brace yourself – about 30Mbps. Which begs the question, what is the point of the Nighthawk?

Despite average 4G speeds of the US being among the worst in the world, there are pockets of access which are much faster. In some areas, you may well get over 250 Mbps . The point of the Netgear is that it will be fast enough wherever you are, and will be future proof as 4G technology improves.

Design of the Nighthawk Mobile Router

Plugging wires into the Netgear Nighthawk

Slightly larger than the usual mobile hotspots we see it is, nevertheless, a nice looking device. Square, with a circular display screen in the center, and a couple of buttons, it looks very stylish indeed. The textured finish also adds to the feeling of a premium product. It is a little weighty at 8.5oz, but that is because the battery is enormous. At 5040mAh, Netgear reckon you’ll get 24 hours from a single charge, even if 16 hours of that is watching YouTube videos. That is a long way better than any smartphone will give you.

The only issue we have with the overall design is the lack of a touchscreen. Even basic mobile hotspots today have a touchscreen for common admin functions. The Nighthawk Mobile Router will allow some admin via button sequences, but most is done through a browser interface. This seems a little bit of a weak spot in the armory.

There are USB-C and USB-A ports for attaching other storage devices or offloading some of the battery charge to another device. There is also an Ethernet port for tethering to a laptop.

Hardware and Software

Using the Netgear Nighthawk on an ipad

The hardware in Nighthawk Mobile Router is just about as good as it gets. Qualcomm are the best mobile modem maker around, and their X16 modem is the best they do. This makes the Nighthawk the best there is.

There is also true dual band WiFi 802.11 ac. The ac suffix is the fastest available WiFi speed at present, and dual band not only provides maximum capability, but also maximum speeds to those devices supporting the 5GHz band.

Having USB-C and USB-A ports is an excellent touch, and being able to transfer power to another device is also a good addition. The ethernet port is there if you need it, although we’d probably have preferred another USB-C port, given the restrictions of ethernet on the Nighthawk.

Software is also excellent. It is a bit of a pain needing to use a browser for all but very basic functions, but it is worth it if you need to do anything extra. If you’ve ever logged into your router at home, then you’ve seen how extensive your options for parental control, filtering and lots more are. The Nighthawk has all that a standard broadband router has, and the interface is clean and easy to navigate.

The Competition

A Child using the Netgear Nighthawk as a wifi source for his ipad

Seriously, what competition? There are other excellent mobile hotspots available, but none come close to the potential of the Netgear Nighthawk Mobile Router.

Netgear themselves do some great hotspots such as the Unite Pro or the excellent budget model the Express. ZTE also have the Velocity and Novatel have the Mifi 2. Both are very good performers, full of features. Both also cost a fraction of the Nighthawk Mobile Router.

But, if speed is king for you, then you need the Nighthawk.

Conclusion

A Far view of the Netgear Nighthawk on a blue and black disco background

Yes it’s expensive, but is it overpriced? For some, yes, for others, possibly not.

The fact is that there’s nothing quite like the Nighthawk, so there’s not a lot to actually compare it to, like for like. It takes 4G to a whole new level, as long as your network supports Cat 16. Even if it doesn’t, whatever speeds you do get will always be maximized by using the Nighthawk.

Often the biggest problem with the Nighthawk is supply. At times, it is very difficult to get hold of, and this is keeping the price higher than it probably should be. Anybody who does get their hands on a few sell out almost as quickly. We have the same problem here at Mr Aberthon.

If we are out of stock when you check, and you want to be kept informed of when they land in stock, you can do so by dropping us a line.

The post Netgear Nighthawk Mobile Router Review appeared first on Mr Aberthon.

]]>
https://mraberthon.com/netgear-nighthawk-mobile-router-review/feed/ 0
Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini Review https://mraberthon.com/samsung-galaxy-s4-mini-review/ https://mraberthon.com/samsung-galaxy-s4-mini-review/#respond Sun, 25 Nov 2018 19:39:19 +0000 https://mraberthon.com/?p=14085 Small devices sometimes mean lesser advantages, but no so with the Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini. Here you'll learn all of its elements and how Samsung definitely got it right.

The post Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini Review appeared first on Mr Aberthon.

]]>
The best Samsung smartphones don’t come cheap. This isn’t a Samsung thing, of course, as all manufacturers like to maximize profit on their flagship smartphones. It’s also why most of them recognize the need to produce more affordable smartphones. Samsung, as a company, release more smartphones than anybody else. Their range is vast, with everything from feature phones for a few dollars, to the hi-tech and hi-spec Galaxy S and Galaxy Note ranges heading their catalog.

What they haven’t done much of is produce smaller devices, of the type Apple persevered with for so long. The S4 Mini is one of only 4 Mini versions of the Galaxy S range produced by Samsung. For whatever reason, Samsung killed the line even when the S6 Mini was seemingly only weeks from a scheduled release. It’s possible that the tide had already turned, and that Samsung thought they might be spread too thinly at the top end of the market. Who knows?

Either way, the S4 Mini proved very popular with consumers thanks to its easy handling and high performance.

Introducing the Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini

The Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini lying on a white background

The Galaxy S range of smartphones from the kings of the industry, Samsung, is an undoubted success. The problem is that not everybody can afford them. As top end smartphone prices lurch towards a thousand dollars, and sometimes over, it’s clear that there has to be other alternatives.

For Samsung, as well as introducing the J series and other devices, they also released a mini version of the S series flagship phones. Despite the name, the S4 Mini is not simply the S4 but smaller. Instead, Samsung wanted to create a fully scaled down version. The case, and the components were all taken down a notch to produce a smartphone which, although not as high spec as the full S4, would offer a similar level of performance.

In reality, aside from the very similar looking – but smaller – case, nothing has made it across from the S4 to the Mini. But does the performance promise from Samsung stack up? Let’s see.

You can buy the Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini for just $149, brand new and fully unlocked.

Scores For The Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini

Holding Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini

Our panel of reviewers gave the galaxy S4 Mini a final score of 4.2/5, made up from category scores as below:

  • Design (4.5/5)
  • Build (4.2/5)
  • Display (4/5)
  • Cameras (4.1/5)
  • Hardware (4/5)
  • Software (4/5)

None of our testers held out much hope for the S4 Mini, based on the specs. But, after a few hours, we couldn’t tell much difference between much higher-specced – and much higher priced – smartphones. It seems Samsung did their homework in figuring out the power:performance ratio perfectly. The components may not be top line, but Samsung still manage to bring a top line smartphone experience.

Full Specs

Holding up the Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini

Size

4.91 x 2.41 x 0.35 in
Weight

3.77 oz

Display Size

4.3”
Display Resolution

540 x 960 px

Cameras

8MP / 1.9MP
Internal Storage

8GB

MicroSD Card Slot

Yes – Up to 64GB
4G

Yes

Battery Life

12 hours Talk time / 300 hours Standby
Price

$149

Design and Build

Comparing the width on the Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini

If you like the Samsung approach to smartphone design, you will like the S4 Mini. Apart from being a bit smaller all round, it is almost a carbon copy of the full S4. Clean lines, and a quality all round feel make it a surefire winner in the design stakes. Everything, down to the satin strip Samsung put around the S series case is here, and it looks great.

Although plastic, it never really occurs to anybody that the S4 Mini isn’t a quality piece of build technology. It is compact enough to suit all hands, and all purses or pockets. In fact, it’s diminutive dimensions make it an ideal first smartphone for younger users or older people. There’s no weight to the S4 Mini, to speak of, and it’s just about perfectly put together.

Display

Playing a game on the Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini

With a smaller phone, naturally, comes a smaller display. At 4.3″, the display on the S4 Mini is noticeably smaller than most smartphones today. But, for all that, if the point of a smartphone is to be smaller, then you have to expect a smaller display. As a result, Samsung have limited the display to 540 x 960 px. This, on paper does sound disappointing, and we would have preferred if Samsung could have seen their way to maybe a 720 x 1280 px display.

However, at 4.3″, the slightly lower resolution isn’t such a big deal. On a 5″ display or bigger, then it would have been a problem. At 4.3″, though, not so much at all. This brings us back to Samsung having clear thoughts about what the S4 Mini needed to be competitive. The display is Samsung’s legendary Super AMOLED type, so every pixel performs amazingly, with colors that leap off the screen and a sharpness way beyond what might ordinarily be expected from the resolution.

Cameras

The s4 vs the Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini

There’s a basic rule of thumb with camera sensors, the smaller the sensor, the smaller the pixels. And the higher the pixel count on a small sensor, the smaller again, the pixels will be. Smartphones have very, very small sensors. In all honesty, sensor makers have worked technological miracles to get the quality they do for sensors in use in smartphones today. Which makes it a worry that, in a small smartphone like the S4 Mini, the sensor might just be overwhelmed trying to produce decent pictures.

We wouldn’t have been surprised if Samsung had limited the camera to 5MP, to compensate for the space reduction inside the case. They didn’t, though, they went with the 8MP they’d been using to that point. And we’re glad the did. The rear camera is just an amazing bit of hardware. It packs so much quality into each image that we’d be happy to see such pictures being produced from the full S4. They’ve also added panorama and HDR options, to make the camera as flexible as possible. You can also record 1080p Full HD video.

The front camera is a little more basic, at 1.9MP, but it does give very good pictures if reasonable light is available. In low light, they do get a little grainy, but for selfies, they are perfectly acceptable.

Hardware

Looking into menus on the Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini

To continue the surprises of delivering mid-range performance from almost-budget components, the processor in the S4 Mini is a dual core, 1.7Ghz affair. It is, though, all relative. With a smaller resolution display to drive, a high end CPU would just be a waste of funds. As it is, the S4 Mini is a nippy little smartphone and we had to push it way beyond normal usage limits before we saw even a minor hiccup in performance levels.

You get 8GB of internal storage, with a MicroSD Card slot for up to another 64GB. We did wonder if limited space would push Samsung to drop the card slot for the S4 Mini, and we’re glad to have been wrong.

The battery gives good longevity, at 12 hours talk time and up to 300 hours standby. There’s also the nice bonus of dual band WiFi, together with Bluetooth, GPS and NFC, as well as an FM radio.

At the risk of repeating ourselves, the bang per buck of the components left us very pleased.

Software

Home button on the Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini

By using Android in the S4 Mini, Samsung provide access to the most popular mobile OS in use today. It’s also a surprisingly unbloated Android install too. Samsung do, on occasion have the tendency to go a little far with the apps they bundle with their smartphones. This time, though, they have kept things to the minimum.

There’s also the Samsung TouchWiz overlay on the stock Android home screen. It’s a good addition, and increases the intuition level of using Android significantly.

Conclusion

If you have been frustrated by trying to deal with phones that are just too big for you, then the S4 Mini is ideal.

Specs are good, and performance is excellent. That Samsung managed to pack so much into such a small case is remarkable. The S4 Mini will never disappoint.

The post Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini Review appeared first on Mr Aberthon.

]]>
https://mraberthon.com/samsung-galaxy-s4-mini-review/feed/ 0
NEC Terrain Review https://mraberthon.com/nec-terrain-review/ https://mraberthon.com/nec-terrain-review/#respond Sun, 25 Nov 2018 19:20:34 +0000 https://mraberthon.com/?p=13991 Working in the construction field or simply a high physical workplace? Then you need to read up all about the NEC Terrain smartphone, it may just very well be your answer.

The post NEC Terrain Review appeared first on Mr Aberthon.

]]>
Ask anyone to make a list of smartphone manufacturers. We’ll bet a dollar to a dime that if you asked 100 people, none of them will mention NEC. The company are, though, one of the biggest names in data and networking hardware infrastructure. Although NEC have only nibbled at the very edges of the smartphone market over the years, their contribution to the industry is immense. It’s arguable that, without NEC, the smartphones we know today would actually resemble the smartphones we knew a decade ago.

Such is the measure of what NEC have brought to the smartphone table that, without them, we wouldn’t have 3G/4G phones, color displays or even cameras in our phones. It was NEC who pioneered all these technologies, and which now form the backbone of all present smartphone research and development.

And so, the introduction of not just an Android device, but a rugged one at that, might seem like an odd first step into the market. To see whether NEC’s long and illustrious technology background could transfer to the phone industry, we passed the Terrain onto our bunch of professional smartphone destroyers – sorry, reviewers – here at Mr Aberthon to see what they think.

The NEC Terrain is available for $399, brand new and fully unlocked.

Introducing the NEC Terrain

NEC Terrain being held in hands over a desk

One thing all manufacturers have in common when releasing a rugged smartphone is the tendency to make the name appropriate to the tough nature of the device. Samsung have the Rugby and Active series, Kyocera the Dura and so on. It’s no surprise then, that NEC called their device Terrain.

The Terrain does its best to straddle the “real” smartphone and tough smartphone genres. It’s not a full screen device, but the display is afforded more space on the front of the case than is the case with most rugged phones. One of the main issues we have with rugged phones is that there are no official tests available for phones, in order for manufacturers to claim compliance with various standards. Occasionally, manufacturers will offer specifics such as water resistance or drop test heights, but not many. As a result it’s down to reviewers to put any rugged phone through its paces.

On the surface, at least, the NEC Terrain looks capable. As with most rugged smartphones, certain technical compromises have been made in order to add protection. The Terrain is clearly designed for a tough work environment, with features we’d expect to see in such circumstances that we wouldn’t expect on non-rugged devices.

Scores for the  NEC Terrain

A worker talking on the NEC Terrain

Our team of reviewers gave the Terrain an overall score of 4.3/5. This is determined based on the scores for the categories below:

  • Design (4.2/5)
  • Build (4.8/5)
  • Display (4/5)
  • Cameras (4/5)
  • Hardware (4.3/5)
  • Software (4.2/5)
  • Durability (4.8/5)

A score of 4.3/5 might sound high for a phone which certainly doesn’t have the high quality components of some smartphones. But that would be to deny what the Terrain is actually intended to do, and who it is aimed at. Any rugged phone will always be slightly niche, in terms of the target market. The key is that it not only meets the needs of users, but does so while providing suitable durability for even the worst, phone-destroying environments. There are a couple of weak spots with the hardware of the Terrain, but it does exactly what it promises to do.

Full Specs

The NEC Terrain near tools

Size

5.02 x 2.54 x 0.57 in

Weight

6.07 oz
Display Size

3.1”

Display Resolution

640 x 480 px
Cameras

5MP / 0.3MP

Internal Storage

8GB

Micro SD Card Slot

Yes – Up to 32GB
Battery Capacity

1900 mAh

Battery Life

10 hours Talk time / 14 days Standby
4G

Yes

Price

$399

Design and Build

Hands holding the NEC Terrain

The NEC Terrain is yet another smartphone which offers more than a nod to the Blackberry design team. As it happens, the NEC designers could have chosen a lot worse acts to emulate. because the Terrain is designed for heavy duty environments, it is likely that gloves will be an essential part of someone’s daily life. This makes a hardware keyboard not just preferable, but essential. The keys themselves have plenty of “click” in them. This, again, makes using gloves when typing very easy. Even through thick material, it is still obvious that a key has been pressed, which is not always the case with hardware keyboards.

If we were to be picky, we’d have liked the keys to be slightly bigger, as we did have some next-door key typos. But, it’s smaller keys or a smaller display or a wider phone, and we did find that we adapted after a while.

Overall, we quite like the look of the Terrain. It won’t be winning any awards, but nor does it look like it was made in Russia in 1982. It has enough to look okay and, probably more importantly, it fits nicely in pockets and is easy to grip in all conditions.

Rugged phones, by necessity, tend to be on the heavy side. But, with all credit to NEC, the Terrain tops the scales at a little over 6 oz. This is less than half an ounce above the current smartphone average, which is a remarkable achievement. Given the protections built in to the Terrain, we’d have expected it to be a lot heavier. The phone feels incredibly solid in the hand, and really feels like it can survive the world and all it throws in its direction.

Display

Looking over someone's shoulder who is looking at the NEC Terrain

When making a rugged phone, the display is often one of the components to face compromise, and that’s the case with the Terrain. Because of the nature of rugged phones, the display doesn’t need to be Full HD, even. It needs to be functional, rather than breathtaking, and needs to be tough.

The display on the Terrain is SD, rather than HD, at 640 x 480 px. If we’re honest, we’d have liked it at 720p, as some of the graphics do start to suffer when images have high contrast. But, having said that, the display is perfectly adequate. Its smaller 3.1″ size does mitigate some of the missing pixel count, and actually returns a pixel density of 258 ppi. This rates well with much higher resolution displays, and means the low resolution of the Terrain isn’t as obvious as it might be.

But, at the risk of repeating ourselves, the display isn’t the point of the Terrain. And it is also very well protected, so we’re willing to forgive the low pixel count, for the most part.

Cameras

Back of NEC Terrain sitting in woodchips

Surprisingly for such a device, the NEC Terrain does have 2 cameras. Usually, there would only be a rear camera in all but the high end rugged devices, and sometimes even then. This makes the addition of a front camera very welcome. It’s not the best camera, at 0.3MP, but it’s better than none at all.

The 5MP camera on the rear of the Terrain actually performs very well. Images are nice and sharp, and easily good enough for inspection or evidence purposes on a work site. Best of all, you have the option to shoot 720p video with the rear camera. This, again, is incredibly useful for business purposes to have HD video available if it is needed.

Hardware

Side view of the NEC Terrain

We’ve talked about compromises made with the display and cameras, which are borne out of necessity. NEC have looked at what is needed and what isn’t, and built the Terrain accordingly. It really is built like a tank, albeit a small one on which you can make phone calls. There’s a dual core processor at its heart, which deals with things nicely. You get a reasonably generous 8GB of internal storage, with a Micro SD Card slot which allows another 32GB. Given that the camera isn’t particularly greedy with the file sizes it produces, many people may never need to add an extra Micro SD card.

WiFi, Bluetooth, GPS and NFC are all included which, again is a refreshing change. For some reason, a lot of rugged phones seem to cut down on connectivity options, but not here. And, of course, you have 4G. Although the Terrain isn’t a data-dependent device in the same way as say, a Galaxy S or an iPhone, it’s nice to have the option. The 1900 mAh battery provides 10 hours of talk time or 14 days of standby.

A key component in phones like the Terrain and its intended uses is Push To Talk. PTT allows a group of similarly equipped phones to work like walkie talkies. It is done by creating an ad hoc WiFi network in the group. Range will depend on the environment, but this is such a useful feature for a lot of people. The Terrain also has loud speakers. Very loud speakers, actually. Not designed for music, but for use in noisy workplaces, the front speakers were very impressive.

Software

The NEC Terrain leaning against a mountain wall

The Terrain runs Android, the most popular mobile operating system in the world. This makes it far more versatile a device than some rugged phones. Often, because of the nature of them, rugged phones tend to have proprietary operating systems. To have access to Android, and the Play Store is a refreshing change. The version of Android is also near-stock. This means that NEC have chosen not to weigh the phone down with any kind of skin or their own apps. If you’ve ever had this on a smartphone, you’ll know how great it is.

Because of the near-vanilla Android, there’s not a lot to talk about in terms of software. What the Terrain does, it does well. And it doesn’t try to do anything other than what it needs to.

Durability

Hand picking up NEC Terrain from a puddle of water

We are now used to seeing smartphones with IP67 or IP68 ratings. These indicate the level of dust and water protection. The difference between the two is that IP67 represents waterproofing for 30 minutes in 3 feet of water, and IP68 30 minutes in 6 feet. It’s no surprise that the Terrain has the highest rating available, of IP68. Where most smartphones stop, though, rugged phones are just starting.

The Terrain meets requirements for compliance with MIL-STD 810G. The MIL-STD stands for Military Standard. The 810G is the level of compliance the device meets. For smartphones, 810G is the highest available. Standards above this are for ordnance or other military equipment. The problem comes with the fact that manufacturers don;t need to test for all parts of the 810G standard. They allowed to pick and choose, and they do.

For phones, compliance with the following parts of 810G are common:

  • Water
  • Dust
  • Extreme temperatures
  • Thermal shock
  • Oil
  • Chemicals
  • Drop
  • Salt
  • Humidity
  • Vibration

The key tests for most phone users are things like waterproofing and drop testing. In tests, the Terrain coped well with both. Water had absolutely no effect, and the screen even responded to the touch underwater. This is not common for any phone, as the water usually doesn’t allow the conduction of the small charge from the fingertip required to use a touchscreen.

In drops from a height of 4 feet onto concrete, apart from some cosmetic scratches, the Terrain never flinched. Over time, of course, constant drops may take a cumulative toll, but we saw no evidence of internal damage. Usually, claiming MIL-STD 810G compliance for drops involves testing from 6 feet. However, we drop our phones when holding them, or getting them out of our pockets, so 4 feet is a more realistic drop height.

Conclusion

Someone picking up the NEC Terrain from the dust

We’d have absolutely no hesitation in recommending the NEC Terrain to anybody with a need for a rugged smartphone. That it runs on Android is a real benefit, and performance is pretty good all round. The Terrain is tough enough to survive almost anything, but lacks nothing of the features that we now see as standard in a smartphone.

The post NEC Terrain Review appeared first on Mr Aberthon.

]]>
https://mraberthon.com/nec-terrain-review/feed/ 0
Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge Review https://mraberthon.com/samsung-galaxy-s7-edge-review/ https://mraberthon.com/samsung-galaxy-s7-edge-review/#respond Sun, 18 Nov 2018 23:10:00 +0000 https://mraberthon.com/?p=14045 Read and learn as you check out this review on the S7 Edge and therefore, the S7 as well. Comparing the two will show some differences, yet whichever way you go, you are sure to be a winner.

The post Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge Review appeared first on Mr Aberthon.

]]>
Samsung are the kings of the Android smartphone market, no question. It’s true that some makers have started to eat away at the Korean giant’s share of that market, but it will be some time before Samsung fails to lead the way.

A big part of their success has been the Galaxy S range. The flagship smartphone has long been the benchmark for other manufacturers to catch up with. It’s probably fair to say that, up until the S5, the series was part great and part a little bit average, with not everything going according to plan. From the Galaxy S5 onward, though, Samsung has proved its worth as the Android leaders. New features, massively improved spec upgrades, and just a better all round experience has impressed reviewers and users, alike.

The S7 took things a step further again, and the Edge variant added a massive new dimension to how a smartphone display is designed and used. To see how well the Galaxy S7 Edge stacks up today, we asked our reviews team to run it through its paces. You can see what they thought below.

You can get the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge for just $479, brand new and fully unlocked.

Introducing the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge

The Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge diagonally lying on a table

Inevitably, the S7 Edge has far more in common with the standard S7 than not. We’ll take a look at exactly what is the same and what is different later. On its own, the Galaxy S7 Edge is something of a triumph for Samsung. The edge to edge display, hence the name, promises to dazzle users with a high quality, high resolution experience, whether gaming, watching movies or just jumping around the web.

The S7 Edge also promises better battery life, dedicated gaming features, water and dust resistance, and more. There’s a range of new and exclusive accessories, and a special “edge” feature for customized shortcuts.

The specs show the S7 Edge to be a cut above, and our team agreed. They gave the Galaxy S7 Edge an overall score of 4.7/5. This is broken down into the categories below:

  • Design (4.8/5)
  • Build (4.8/5)
  • Display (4.9/5)
  • Cameras (4.5/5)
  • Software (4.6/5)
  • Hardware (4.8/5)

So, as you can see, the big talk from Samsung seems to be largely justified. The S7 Edge really does feel like a watershed moment for smartphone design. The leaps taken here will undoubtedly eventually filter down not just to Samsung mid-range devices, but to the market generally.

Full Specs

A hand holding the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge on an angle to show the side view

Size

5.94 x 2.86 x 0.30 in

Weight

5.54 oz
Display Size

5.5”

Display Resolution

2560 x 1440 px
Cameras

12MP / 5MP

Internal Storage

32GB
Micro SD Card Slot

Yes – Up to 512GB

4G

Yes
Battery Capacity

3600 mAh

Battery Life

27 hrs Talk time / 350 hrs standby
Price

$479

Design and Build

The Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge lying flat on a wooden table showing its bottom port

Let’s be honest, most smartphone designs stopped being sexy years ago. Once we got to the standard slimline, narrow bezel front face, everyone just settled in for the long haul. Then came the Edge and similar devices. Suddenly, we had displays going to the very edge of the front case and wrapping round to meet the back case. The extra half inch, or so, of display size sounds minimal, but the actual visual effect is amazing, Not only does the phone itself look much nicer, sleeker and, yes, sexier, but the display itself is lovely to use.

Our fear, with the S7 Edge was that it might feel a little fragile. After all, all that glass means more chance of it shattering. And yet, the phone feels incredibly solid without being especially heavy. The curved back keeps the S7 Edge nicely settled in the hand, and the buttons are right where you’d want them to be. The inclusion of IP68 water and dust protection is also very welcome. The S7 Edge is a true step up in design and build quality.

Display

Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge Display in use

It’s hard to actually say how good the Edge display looks in every single sense. It looks great in design and build, and the quality is just sensational. A 5.5″, Quad HD display might well have been enough on its own but, when you pair it with Samsung’s Super AMOLED approach it just starts to sing. We can honestly say we’ve never seen a better display on any smartphone. 4K displays offer little, if any, improvement over the S7 Edge. Colors and contrast are exceptional, viewing angles are greatly improved, and the overall feeling is simply one of excellence.

Many hours of use with movies and gaming in particular, left no feeling of fatigue. In fact, the only issue we had with the display at all was our tendency to grab the S7 Edge as we would any other, which left finger smears on the display itself. That, though, says more about us than the phone.

Cameras

The Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge Camera

Another of Samsung’s lauded features is the quality of the cameras they install in their phones. At first, it seems curious that they have dropped the pixel count slightly in the S7 Edge, to 12MP, but with good reason. The quality from the new camera surpasses all that has come before, especially in low light. A lack of light will kill the quality on any smartphone image, but the S7 Edge handles it all really well, maintaining detail and sharpness beyond anything else we’ve seen.

If you are serious about photography, but don’t want to lug a real camera with you everywhere you go, then the S7 Edge gets you closer to the dSLR experience than any smartphone ever has. Crucially, you can shoot in RAW. Usually, any phone or compact camera will process the pictures you take before it gets as far as appearing on screen. This means you get the image as the manufacturer wants you to see it. With RAW images, you effectively get a digital negative, with no processing whatsoever. This means you can use Photoshop or other editing software to make the image look how you want it to, and not Samsung.

But, if you choose to have the camera do the work, you will get colorful, punchy and ultra sharp images. The autofocus is instant, and image stabilization keeps everything nice and steady on your behalf. The rear camera can capture 4K video, and the front camera 1440p Quad HD video. There’s no LED flash on the front camera, but the screen illuminates to provide enough light for selfies in even the darkest room.

Software

The Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge standing upright on a table

Samsung have, for several years, used their own TouchWiz to present their own version of Android to users. For a few years, they packed it with appalling apps of their own in order to try and add some value to proceedings. Fortunately these days they tend to stick to apps which are, mostly, useful. As many manufacturers now do, Samsung have focused the apps around health and staying fit. The apps they provide are also pretty good at what they do.

The very edge of the S7 Edge display has a special dock are which is revealed by running your finger along the phone edge. This dock, actually called “the edge”, lets you put info widgets in of your choosing, as well as commonly used features and apps. We were skeptical at first, but it’s actually terrifically useful. However, the serious software stuff really kicks in for those who like using their smartphones for gaming.

Samsung have included a special Game Launcher. As well as collating your games in one place, you have several new options available before you start. You can mute notifications and alerts, and adjust gaming settings to save battery. The cherry on top, though, is that ability to record your gameplay without a 3rd party app.

Hardware

A hand tilting the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge to show its side

The gaming improvements mentioned above do come at a cost. Gaming is notoriously heavy on both processor and battery life. Fortunately, the quad core CPU has sufficient oomph to avoid any stutter or lag, even with online gaming. And the battery is a huge 3600 mAh which will charge from dead to full in just 100 minutes. Wireless charging is also built right in without the need for wireless sleeves or other nonsense.

Another big improvement in the S7 Edge is the audio quality. For too long, manufacturers have based their music credentials on how many songs the phone can store, but that’s just not enough any more. As well as  using high end audio components to produce real improvements in quality with the default settings, Samsung go further. There is a small utility to test the extent of the frequencies you can hear, which then tailors the mix of the audio to suit. The difference from the default is quite remarkable. This is a particular help for older users, as our ears lose access to higher frequencies as we go through life. It’s a nice, and very welcome touch.

You get 32 GB of internal storage, and a Micro SD card slot for a further 512 GB if you need it. The fingerprint sensor is sensibly placed on the front, instead of the rear case, and reacts almost instantly.

Galaxy S7 Edge Vs. S7 Standard

The Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge comparing in size to the The Samsung Galaxy S7

As you’d expect, much of the internal hardware is the same, but there are differences. Size, is the most obvious difference. The S7 Edge is slightly bigger in height and width, but only by fractions of an inch. And yet, the S7 Edge also manages to be marginally slimmer. The battery of the S7 Edge is 3600 mAh, compared to the 3000 mAh of the S7. Part of the reason for the bigger battery, which makes the slimness of the S7 Edge even more remarkable, is the bigger display.

The 5.1″ of the S7 and the 5.5″ of the edge is actually a bigger difference than it sounds. The S7 Edge display just looks better and feels better in use. Not that the S7 display isn’t great, it truly is, but the Edge is just a better experience.

Otherwise, everything you read about the Edge, you can apply to the S7. Both are outstanding smartphones packed with features and quality. The $479 price tag of the Galaxy S7 Edge is actually not much different to the standard S7 but, oh, that curved screen.

The post Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge Review appeared first on Mr Aberthon.

]]>
https://mraberthon.com/samsung-galaxy-s7-edge-review/feed/ 0
Cat S30 Review https://mraberthon.com/cat-s30-review/ https://mraberthon.com/cat-s30-review/#respond Sun, 18 Nov 2018 21:08:49 +0000 https://mraberthon.com/?p=14038 Having a strong, rugged, reliable yet quick smartphone is a must when working in the workforce. Yet how great did the Cat S30 do on our scores? You'll find out right here in our complete review.

The post Cat S30 Review appeared first on Mr Aberthon.

]]>
Cat is a brand owned by the Caterpillar company. Caterpillar are probably best known for their tractors and other farm or agricultural machinery. They expanded the brand to clothing, notably their work-boot fashion range, some years ago. Eventually, they made the step into the smartphone industry with the intention of building a phone to match the toughness of their vehicles.

The Cat range of smartphones, by their nature, is not intended as a budget range. However, in the mid-range smartphone market, they offer a lot for the money. Great performance, married to incredible toughness, means that they go beyond the niche rugged phone customer base. Cat phones may not have the ultra high specs of some flagships, but that would miss the point of them.

The S30 was the first in the S series, and was very highly regarded by users and experts alike.

Introducing the Cat S30

Cat S30 on a rock front view

On release, the Cat S30 caused something of a stir. We’d seen many rugged phones before, but none which promised such a combination of toughness and performance. And in a full screen smartphone too. The display is by far the weakest point of any smartphone. And yet here were Cat, claiming the S30 would survive a drop onto concrete from 6 feet. Often, manufacturers will claim drop resistance, but without giving specifics. The Mil-STD 810G standard does have such a drop test, but none of it relates specifically to smartphones. We rely on manufacturers doing their own tests and staying honest about the results.

As a result, it’s refreshing to see Cat actually state what the S30 can survive. Actually, the MIL-STD 810G standard goes much further than what Cat claim for the S30 in terms of durability, and it is likely that the phone will clear the minimum requirement. However, the tests Cat do cite will cover most requirements for the protection of a smartphone.

We asked our team to have a look at not just the ruggedness of the S30, but the performance as well. After all, it’s no good having a phone that would survive being run over by a train, if it’s unusable as an actual smartphone.

You can buy the Cat S30 for just $199.95, brand new and fully unlocked.

Scores For The Cat S30
Seeing the Cat S30 on a rock near trees

Our reviews team gave the S30 a total score of 4.3/5. This is an overall average of the categories below:

  • Design (4.2/5)
  • Build (4.4/5)
  • Display (4/5)
  • Camera (4.1/5)
  • Ruggedness (5/5)
  • Hardware (4.2/5)
  • Software (4/5)

Given that it is now a couple of years since the release of the S30, our team really like how it has stood the test of time. In particular, they were beyond impressed at just how tough the S30 is.

Full Specs

Cat S30 covered in dirt and dust

Size 5.59 x 2.86 x 0.52 in
Weight 6.38 oz
Display Size 4.5”
Display Resolution 480 x 854 px
Cameras 5MP / 2MP
Internal Storage 8GB
MicroSD Card Slot Yes – up to 64GB
Battery Life 18 hours Talk time / 936 hours Standby
4G Yes
Rugged Yes
Price $199.95

Design and Build

View of the Cat S30 on a rock

Cat settled on a fairly consistent design for their smartphones from the off. If you are going to build a truly rugged phone, then some design compromises are inevitable. The S30 isn’t the prettiest smartphone, as a result of the compromises, but nor is it the ugliest. In reality, Cat actually did a great job of balancing the extra toughness against keeping the S30 looking like a smartphone.

Drop resistance which, if we’re honest is the biggest test – and biggest worry – for any smartphone, is key to the S30’s appeal. Cat have tested the phone from 6 feet onto concrete, and claim it will survive. Our tests showed they’re probably not wrong. Onto the sidewalk outside, the S30 case seemed to absorb everything it needed to. After one drop onto the curb edge, it did take a little piece of the case out, but the S30 itself survived without a scratch. The squaring off of the case corners clearly helps to absorb the impact and distribute it sufficiently. Making sure no one section of the phone takes the whole force is essential when trying to resist harsh drops.

The buttons on the front face are all physical buttons, which our team always think is a good idea. The rear case is grooved which, on first glance, perhaps isn’t the best look. Until you use the S30 with thick gloves, that is. Then, the grooves make a huge difference to the grip available. On that subject, the side buttons could perhaps have been just a shade bigger to facilitate the use with gloves, but they are well located otherwise.

Display

The settings open on the Cat S30

The 4.5″ display isn’t especially hi-res at 480 x 854 px, but this doesn’t seem to affect performance too much. Graphics and images are clear and the colors are good, and the screen is easy to read in very bright conditions. Given that the S30 is for outdoors as well as indoors, this is a real plus which is missing from many smartphones.

The display won’t win awards, but it does what it needs to do. The pixel density is enough to keep things sharp, and we had no issues at any time with any task we were doing.

Cameras

The side buttons of the Cat S30 while lying on a rock

Although the camera is becoming an increasingly competitive part of the sales pitch of any smartphone, it is necessary to approach many claims with caution. More pixels doesn’t necessarily mean better pictures. It’s a case of what the app does with those pixels, and how efficiently it does it. Images from the rear, 5MP, camera are good. The app is quick, and focus is also fast. The LED flash is brighter than many devices, making it genuinely useful.

One important aspect of the rear camera is the ability to capture Full HD video at 60 frames per second. The standard for many smartphones is still to record Full HD at 30 frames per second. By doubling that rate, the camera provides super smooth recordings. Given that the S30 is designed for industrial environments, images and videos may be required for inspection or maintenance uses. In such circumstances, the smoother the video recording, the better.

The 2MP front camera also does its job well. There’s no gimmicks with the camera. In fact there’s nothing above being able to take selfies, but the images are clear and bright with good color. If you won’t miss the filters and nonsense many front cameras foist on you nowadays, then this is as good a selfie camera as any.

Ruggedness
Water being poured on a Cat S30

Try as our team might, they failed to break the S30. As well as the drop resistance, the phone is dust resistant, and waterproof to a depth of 6 feet for 30 minutes. Amazingly, the screen still works underwater, which is not common on smartphones at all. Cat also claim that the S30 is oil and chemical resistant. Oils and chemicals which might do harm to smartphone simply aren’t available to device testers, unfortunately, so we will need to take Cat’s word for it. Normally we’d be reluctant to do that but, seeing as how the S30 outperformed Cat’s drop test claims, we’re happy to accept it here.

Never once, during our deliberately clumsy handling of the S30 did we fear it would break, and it didn’t. We can’t speak for any cumulative effects of constant drops, of course, but we’re more than happy with what we saw. We really do think that the S30, along with all the S series actually, is as tough as it gets.

Hardware

Cat S30 being turned around by someone holding it

Because the display on the S30 has limited resolution, the Quad Core processor is easily enough to drive things along. It is helped, in no inconsiderable measure by the 3000 mAh battery. Somehow, Cat manage to squeeze huge batteries into their quite normal sized smartphones. The life according to the specs is 18 hours talk time and nearly 40 days of standby. It took a huge amount of constant movies running on the S30 to get it to surrender close to a full charge. This is important if you work in a job where charging points could potentially be miles away from where you are.

8GB of internal storage is great for what isn’t really  a media device. You can, though, add a further 64GB vie the MicroSD card slot, if you so desire. The S30 has external speakers, also. Most smartphones today have a hands-free mode, of course, but this is completely next level stuff. At the side of a very busy road, we had no problems hearing the other end of the conversation on loudspeaker. This, again, shows Cat didn’t just add features out of duty, they actually though about what was needed.

WiFi, Bluetooth, GPS and even an FM radio make up the comms list.

Software

Someone swiping on the screen of the Cat S30

The Cat S30 ships with Android 5.1. Cat have, wisely, chosen not to bloat the S30 with apps or other unwanted and unneeded software. In general use, we found no lag or glitching, even when switching between apps.

Startup is also pretty fast, again probably due to the almost stock version of Android installed.

Conclusion

The S30, at $199.95, is an excellent choice not just for those with specific rugged needs, but for anyone who wants their smartphone to last. The S30, in all honesty, will last a lot longer than just about anything else.

The post Cat S30 Review appeared first on Mr Aberthon.

]]>
https://mraberthon.com/cat-s30-review/feed/ 0
Samsung Galaxy S4 Active Review https://mraberthon.com/samsung-galaxy-s4-active-review/ https://mraberthon.com/samsung-galaxy-s4-active-review/#respond Sun, 18 Nov 2018 16:51:04 +0000 https://mraberthon.com/?p=14030 A cool phone and a strong phone don't often come together. Yet Samsung has accomplished it, as you will read about in this thorough review on the Samsung Galaxy S4 Active.

The post Samsung Galaxy S4 Active Review appeared first on Mr Aberthon.

]]>
Samsung have long been a major provider of rugged mobile devices. However, with only one or two exceptions, such phones tend to be flip, or feature phones. Rarely do we see full screen smartphones given the rugged treatment. If we do, the lengths gone to to toughen up the phone are not as great as we might like.

And so it was a surprise when Samsung first announced that they were going to release an “Active” version of their flagship Galaxy S smartphones. The company’s pedigree in rugged phones is unquestioned, and they have made full screen rugged smartphones previously. But the Galaxy S range is a high end, very well specced smartphone with a superior pedigree.

Such a device would mean significant investment from Samsung, and people would expect to be able to trust that their expensive flagship smartphone would actually survive the odd trauma.

To see if that is actually the case, we passed it onto our team of less than gentle reviewers to see just what the Samsung Galaxy S4 Active can withstand.

You can get the Samsung Galaxy S4 Active for just $149, fully unlocked and brand new.

Introducing the Samsung Galaxy S4

A hand holding the Samsung Galaxy S4 Active showing its front page screen

There’s no doubting the quality of the standard Galaxy S4. Currently available for just $149, it is still a match for all but the best of the high end flagship devices available today.

One of the considerations when manufacturers decide on a rugged smartphone is the size and weight. If you add extra protection to any device, it will always take on extra bulk. And that bulk means extra weight. As a result, some compromises may need to be made in order to keep the weight down as low as is practical. This is also the case with the S4 Active. There’s nothing which looks, at first glance, like any kind of problem, but there are component compromises to stop the cost ballooning with the extra technical measures needed.

At the end of the day, to live up to its name, the S4 Active needs to be tough. That Samsung have not re-branded it, but stuck with the Galaxy S name, shows what confidence they have in the phone meeting expectations.

Scores For The Samsung Galaxy S4 Active

A closeup of the bottom buttons of the Samsung Galaxy S4 Active

The score our team awarded the Galaxy S4 Active is 4.3/5. This score is achieved by way of individual scores awarded for the following categories:

  • Design (4.6/5)
  • Build  (4.4/5)
  • Display (4.1/5)
  • Cameras (4.2/5)
  • Hardware (4.2/5)
  • Software (4.4/5)

The overall score for the Galaxy S4 Active is just a shade lower than the score we awarded the standard Galaxy S4. The reason is simply that one or two components don’t match the specs of those in the standard S4. However, the gap isn’t so big as you might expect. The Galaxy S4 Active is still an excellent performer and, at $149, it’s a steal.

Full Specs

Comparing the Samsung Galaxy S4 Active against the S4

Size 5.5 x 2.81 x 0.36 in
Weight 5.40 oz
Display Size 5”
Display Resolution 1920 x 1080 Full HD
Cameras 8MP / 2MP
Internal Storage 16GB
MicroSD Card Slot Yes – up to 64GB
4G Yes
Battery Life 17 hours talk time / 15 days standby
Price $149

Design and Build

Water being poured onto the Samsung Galaxy S4 Active

Although technically a rugged smartphone, the Galaxy S4 doesn’t reach some of the heights which we’d expect today from such a device.  The S4 is water and dust-proof, and does appear to have some drop protection, although Samsung don’t advertise that particular fact. This means that the S4 Active may not quite reach the trued hardcore rugged standards of some. However, it also means that those who need phones with some extra protection built right in will find the Galaxy S4 Active a real benefit.

Samsung do claim dust-proofing, and that the S4 Active is waterproof to 3 feet for 30 minutes. In our (very unscientific) tests we found this to be the case. We actually left the S4 Active in a bowl of water for an hour, and it still worked perfectly well. Given that most water-based smartphone mishaps usually mean being dropped in a pool, bath or toilet, then we think you’ll be okay here. Also, in a huge bonus, despite being waterproof, the back case can be removed to replace the battery. This is almost unheard of if waterproof smartphones, so kudos to Samsung for achieving it.

As we mentioned above, Samsung make no claims about the S3 Active surviving any kind of drop, so we won’t say here that it will. But, we did drop it more than once during our tests and it survived intact. We’ve dropped other phones just once and seen a mess of spiders web cracks on the screen, but not with the S4 Active. Of course, we might just have been lucky but, regardless of what Samsung do or don’t claim, the phone does seem to be reasonably robust.

Display

The Samsung Galaxy S4 Active leaning against a brick wall

The display of the Galaxy S4 Active is one are which has seen costs reduced from the standard S4. Instead of the Super AMOLED display in its close relative, the Galaxy S4 Active has a TFT display. It is still 1080p Full HD resolution and, to be totally fair, there’s no discernible drop in quality. Side by side, the Super AMOLED does have more “oomph” to the display, with brighter colors. However, the colors on the TFT of the S4 Active are actually far more accurate. To us, if it means keeping costs down, then the trade off seems perfectly acceptable.

We found movie watching to be easy and a very pleasant experience. We also found that we didn’t get the disappointed feel we sometimes get when viewing camera phone images on a big screen, Often, with Super AMOLED screens, when you look at pictures on the phone, they look amazing. Then when viewed on a different device, it seems to lack color and contrast in comparison. With the TFT of the S4 Active making a better job of reproducing the true colors on screen, what you see on the phone is what you see on the monitor. We think this is a good thing, overall.

Cameras

Holding the Samsung Galaxy S4 Active and showing its back to the camera

The 8MP rear camera of the Galaxy S4 Active produces some of the best images we’ve seen in a smartphone at this price. It might not be the biggest pixel count ever, but Samsung have squeezed every bit  of the available quality out of the sensor. Photos are sharp and have great color, and the 1080p Full HD videos are also excellent quality.

The 2MP front camera also produces great selfies and can also record 1080p Video.

One key feature of the Galaxy S4 Active is its ability to take photos underwater. Most waterproof cameras stop at simply not being destroyed when immersed in water. The S4 Active actually uses that to its advantage. Underwater, the volume rocker button becomes the camera shutter button. This allows you to take pictures underwater, something very few smartphones are capable of. You do need to respect the 3 feet/30 minutes rule for keeping the phone in the water, but it’s a terrific feature to have.

Hardware

The Samsung Galaxy S4 Active on the ground

The Quad Core processor of the Galaxy S4 Active makes sure that the phone responds instantly to any action. There’s no lag opening or switching between apps, and no stutter or tearing when watching hi-res video. You get 16GB of storage and a MicroSD card slot that can take another 64GB if needed. There’s WiFi 802.11 ac, dual band, so you will get the fastest speeds available.

The battery will provide more than a days use, and you have several other connectivity options like Bluetooth 4, and NFC.

Software

Showing the front of the Samsung Galaxy S4 Active in front of a table

The Galaxy S4 Active utilizes Samsung’s Gesture controls. This allows you to scroll or swipe through various pieces of content including images. It makes using the phone with gloves on a breeze. However, you can actually use the touchscreen with gloves on if you wish, which is great.

The S4 Active is upgradable to Android 5, which is still the most commonly used version of Android around.  Although not festooned with extra features, the general feel of how the Galaxy S4 Active uses what it has is great.

Conclusion

The Samsung Galaxy S4 Active is everything you’d expect from a tough smartphone, Dust and water proofing plus, at least in our experience, the ability to withstand the odd drop. It all makes the S4 Active a top choice.

The post Samsung Galaxy S4 Active Review appeared first on Mr Aberthon.

]]>
https://mraberthon.com/samsung-galaxy-s4-active-review/feed/ 0
iPhone 6 Review https://mraberthon.com/iphone-6-review/ https://mraberthon.com/iphone-6-review/#respond Tue, 06 Nov 2018 22:22:18 +0000 https://mraberthon.com/?p=13966 Keeping up with the Jones' is tough, yet Apple did fabulous with the iPhone 6. Read this review to learn all the details of it's success, from its insides to it's outsides.

The post iPhone 6 Review appeared first on Mr Aberthon.

]]>
Like all great consumer battles over the years – Pepsi Vs Coke, VHS Vs Betamax, Dick Dastardly Vs. Yankee Doodle Pigeon – Apple often find themselves locked in a battle with Samsung for the hearts and minds of smartphone users. The difference between Apple and the rest, is that the company produce only a single line of handsets each year, the iPhone.

Usually, when it comes to Apple against the rest, lines are drawn based more on loyalty than anything else. Android and iOS are at the heart of the war, with iOS exclusive to Apple but Android being a true open source OS. What isn’t in dispute, though, is that it was Apple who started the smartphone revolution back in 2007. In hindsight, the original iPhone had more missing than it actually provided. The camera was awful, there was no 3G capability and the OS was slow and often unresponsive. Copy and paste functions were still 2 years away, you couldn’t attach images to texts, and there was no sign of the promised app store.

With the exception of an app store, these were all things which the likes of LG, Nokia and others had been providing for over a year. However, the iPhone was  a huge success, mainly because of what it promised for the future instead of delivering itself. The iPhone 6 was, unsurprisingly, the 6th iPhone model to be released. It would have actually been the 5th, had Apple not squeezed in the 5C between the original iPhone 5 and the 6 to fill the gap left by never releasing an iPhone 2.

The iPhone 6 is available for $349, in A+ (refurbished as new) condition and fully unlocked.

Introducing the iPhone 6

iPhone 6 lying on a table near a headphone set and camera lens

Apple are among the biggest tech companies in the world. Although they’ve always had a loyal user base of desktop and laptop computers, it is the iPhone which made Apple into the behemoth it became. With the exception of the leap from the original iPhone to the iPhone 3G, the Apple hardware story is really one of evolution, not revolution. Much of what Apple do is very proprietary, both with hardware and software, and getting to the root of things can be difficult.

The iPhone 6 did, however, bring a larger upgrade between models than had gone before. The processor saw a huge improvement, as did the battery life. Apple Pay was introduced and the display size saw its biggest jump in size up to that point. For fans of Apple, the iPhone 6 was a delight to behold. Many felt it was the iPhone they’d been promised by Steve Jobs in 2007 actually made life. Together with it’s in-series upgrade the 6S, the iPhone 6 is the third biggest selling mobile phone of all time with sales in excess of 200 million units worldwide.

Scores For The iPhone 6

Camera view of the iPhone 6

Our team of reviewers awarded the iPhone 6 a score of 4.5/5. This is based on the categories below:

  • Design (4.8/5)
  • Build (4.4/5)
  • Display (4.2/5)
  • Cameras (4.6/5)
  • Hardware (4.3/5)
  • Software (4.7/5)

Apple do, on occasion, remain stubbornly unwilling to make daring decisions with the iPhone. One of these concerns the display. The iPhone 6 display is good, very good in fact, but it struggle a little to keep up with Samsung’s best. Apple do an amazing job of working with the pixels they have, but a display which doesn’t make it to Full HD always risks being overtaken. This was the only thing about the iPhone 6 which caused a bit of concern.

It’s not even close to being a reason not to buy the iPhone 6, however, and the display is plenty good enough for any use. We make the comments simply in comparison to what others are doing with displays on their own models. The iPhone hasn’t been left behind, but they do need to up the display game quickly if that is to remain the case.

Full Specs

Purple overlay on the iPhone 6

Size

5.44 x 2.64 x 0.27 in

Weight

4.55 oz

Display Size

4.7”

Display Resolution

750 x 1334 px
Cameras

8MP / 1.2MP

Internal Storage

16GB
Micro SD Card Slot

No

4G

Yes
Battery Capacity

1810 mAh

Battery Life

14 hrs talk time / 810 hrs standby
Price

$349

Design and Build

The outside of the iPhone 6 especially the camera

The iPhone 6 was a beautiful device on release, and it continues to be so today. The top and bottom bezel of the front now seems a bit big compared to later iPhones, but it doesn’t stop the iPhone from being very appealing.  The choices of silver, space grey or gold finishes also adds the overall attractiveness of the iPhone 6.

As well as being a nice size to hold for just about anybody, the iPhone 6 is almost un-feasibly slim. The weight is a full ounce less than what you’ll find in most of its competitors, and this makes the device very, very usable.

Although distinctly lightweight, the iPhone 6 is a long way from ever feeling anything less than a super-premium smartphone. Apple know how to design products, and they put every bit of their expertise into the design of the iPhone 6.

Display

Angled view of the iPhone 6 on a desk

On pure resolution, Apple don’t come close to matching every single one of its Android-sporting rivals. Fortunately, what Apple do with the pixels they have is close to miraculous. Never would you know that the display of the iPhone 6 is barely a third the resolution of the equivalent Samsung, LG or HTC devices. Side by side, there is a slight difference with hi-res movies, but in isolation it just never comes close to being an issue.

At 4.7″, the iPhone 6 was a relatively huge leap forwards for Apple. Up to the 5s, iPhones topped out at a 4″ display size. Apple recognized that this was starting to look a little small in the market. As a direct result, they upped their game considerably for the iPhone 6. The increase is quite marked when side by side with a 4″ screen.

Cameras

The iPhone 6 taking pictures of two cell phones

The cameras on the iPhone 6 only saw minor upgrades from the 5s. The rear 8MP camera is the same pixel count, but does handle the processing differently. As a result, the images from the iPhone 6 camera are really quite exceptional. Laser-driven autofocus makes locking onto the subject almost instant, and this brings great sharpness and clarity to every picture. You can change the exposure of any image after taking the shot. which is also very useful.

Video on the rear camera can be taken at 1080p Full HD resolution but, crucially, this is at 60 frames per second which makes any resulting recordings silky smooth.

The front camera sounds unduly modest at 1.2MP, but Apple again do a great job with the pixels. As well as producing good selfies, though, the front camera app is the real star. Where most manufacturers leave the front camera to just taking basic selfies, Apple upped the stakes. The selfie camera has face detection, HDR and can record at 720p resolution. Of course, Apple intended the camera for Face Time as much as selfies, which is why they limit the resolution. Video uses a huge amount of bandwidth. This might not be an issue of WiFI, but can be a bottleneck on cellular connections.

Hardware

iPhone 6 on a white background

All in all, Apple use their hardware exceptionally well. If you compare the specs of the iPhone 6 to the Samsung Galaxy S7 side by side, you’d wonder how they are neck and neck for users’ dollars. The Galaxy S7 looks streets ahead in raw power and technology. It is testament to Apple’s engineers that the iPhone 6 is, indeed, very much a competitor to Samsung’s flagship.

With 16GB of internal storage, you have enough space to carry a tone of audio files around. We’d have liked more RAM than the 1GB apple give. But, in fairness, Apple know what their devices need, and there’s never any suggestion of things getting sluggish. The ARM A8 processor is also excellent, and very efficient, which will help the speed.

The fingerprint sensor on the front is also a welcome addition. It’s a feature which, until you have it, you wouldn’t realize was so useful. Battery life is also much improved and will have enough juice to keep you going for as long as you need.

Software

Viewing notifications on the iPhone 6

There’s little that we can say about iOS which you haven’t heard a million times. It is, despite the almost paranoia-driven approach to keeping its secrets which Apple take, a terrific OS. Apple don’t bloat the iPhone 6 with anything. You get to choose exactly what you install and what you don’t. As long as it’s from the Apple app store, of course.

The iPhone 6 ships with OS 8, but is fully upgradeable to iOS 12. This, again, is a good indication that the iPhone 6 packs a lot of power. iOS 12 can be resource hungry at times, and yet Apple have no reservations about making the upgrade available.

Conclusion

The iPhone 6 being held outdoors in the winter

The iPhone 6 is truly a great smartphone. Perfect? Not quite, but it comes pretty darned close for most things. It was a big leap for Apple over the 5s, and set the standard for the models which came later. You don’t get to sell over 200 million units of anything, unless it’s up there with the best in its field.

The post iPhone 6 Review appeared first on Mr Aberthon.

]]>
https://mraberthon.com/iphone-6-review/feed/ 0
ZTE Velocity Review https://mraberthon.com/zte-velocity-review/ https://mraberthon.com/zte-velocity-review/#respond Tue, 06 Nov 2018 00:05:14 +0000 https://mraberthon.com/?p=13954 Hidden mostly from view, hotspots solve two great issues that most internet users have. The Velocity is a perfect example of those solution in a very cost effective device.

The post ZTE Velocity Review appeared first on Mr Aberthon.

]]>
We now all have routers at home to provide us with broadband services. Outside the home, we largely rely on mobile data. This brings a couple of problems. Unless you have an unlimited data package, you can burn through your allowance quickly. And unlimited data can be either costly or not as unlimited as you think.

But, quite curiously, data only contracts tend to be quite a bit cheaper than combined phone/text/data options. Put a data only SIM card in the hotspot, and you have a cheap and effective way to use 4G mobile data on not just your smartphone, but on up to 10 or more devices. It’s an especially effective strategy if you’re overseas or out of your usual carrier’s coverage zones. The kids can play games or watch movies, an you can work or keep up to date with social media. Best of all, you’re doing it all with a Wi-Fi connection, which is much easier on your own smartphone battery than mobile data is. The hotspot is doing all the heavy lifting, and providing some great added benefits.

Despite this, mobile hotspots are still a criminally underrated device. They take enormous pressure of both battery life and data contract charges when out of Wi-Fi range or on a long trip with family. Although most aren’t packed with the kind of feature list you’ll see on a smartphone, it’s only because it isn’t really necessary to have them.

They also cost relatively little in comparison to the cost of many smartphones. A good example is the ZTE Velocity which is currently available for just $59. But is it any good? We passed the device over to our team of hotspot testers to see what they thought.

The ZTE Velocity

Hand holding the ZTE Velocity Hotspot in front of foliage

The fact is that hotspots aren’t so much about what they have as how they use it.

Although considered a budget mobile hotspot, the ZTE Velocity, on paper at least, seems to be well stacked in terms of the features it has. It’s often a case of wondering what much more expensive hotspots have over budget models, given they all do basically the same thing. In the end, what it comes down to is performance. The list of features on mobile hotspots doesn’t actually vary too much between devices, regardless of costs. What differs is the quality of the components involved, and the Velocity actually has a very decent spec for the price.

The Velocity is easy to set up, and easy to use. After the initial setup, unless you want to change something, you never need enter the settings ever again.

As hotspot devices go, it’s simple and effective, and is a valuable tool for anybody who travels regularly. It’s also an incredibly inexpensive way of keeping the family connected whilst on vacation, whilst also being able to control access.

The ZTE Velocity is available for just $59, brand new and fully unlocked.

Full Specs

ZTE Velocity Hotspot with a mountain in the background

Size

4.49 x 2.48 x 0.67 in
Weight

4.59 oz

Touchscreen

Yes – 2.4” Color
4G

Yes

WiFi Bands

2.4Ghz/5Ghz (not simultaneously)
Max. Users

10

Micro SD Card

Yes – up to 32GB
Price

$59

Design and Build

Let’s face it, mobile hotspots are pretty basic looking plastic boxes. However, the ZTE Velocity does have one or two things in its favor. The touchscreen is a decent size at 2.4″, and goes beyond the size of most hotspots. The Velocity is also surprisingly slim. Again, many hotspots are a little thicker, and it’s nice to have something which fits easily in any pocket or purse.

The Velocity also feels very sturdy. It isn’t heavy, by any stretch, but it has a really solid quality to it. Being the kind of device which is liable to just be thrown into a bag and sit there for months, potentially, this is important. It isn’t a rugged device, of course, but it does feel like it has a chance of working every time you realize you need it.

Ease of Use

ZTE Velocity Hotspot being used for a business meeting between two people

You can do the initial setup for the Velocity quite easily on the 2.4″ color touchscreen on the hotspot itself. Unless you need to start doing some more complex setup tasks, which you rarely will, this will usually be enough. You don’t need to use a web browser, but the option is available if necessary. We had the device set up and ready to go in less than 5 minutes. To then add a guest account took another 2 minutes. All through the touchscreen.

The display itself will show the signal strength, battery charge, how much data you’ve used and how many connections are open. You don’t really need too much more than that.

If devices were priced on how easy they are to get going with, the ZTE Velocity would cost a lot more than it does. It’s simplicity itself.

Performance

Sharing the password for the ZTE Velocity Hotspot

The crux of any mobile device is how well it does the job it was designed to do. Leaving aside everything else, the data transfer from the Velocity is remarkably good. Being 4G capable, the Velocity is reliant on the quality of the connection to the nearest cell tower. After that it is entirely reliant on its own WiFi performance to incoming data to each connected device.

Fortunately, the Velocity does a great job in both cases. As long as you have a decent network connection, and the network provides decent 4G speeds, you should be fine. At least up to a point. The fastest WiFi speed available on the Velocity is 802.11 n. This means no ac speeds for real power users. However, it’s still plenty to stream even the most demanding movies. 802.11 n WiFi is many times faster than real-world 4G. Although 4G has a high theoretical speed, networks rarely provide speeds above 50Mbps, and even this is only in very short bursts. The actual average 4G speed from US networks is about 16Mbps. This is about half of the average 4G speeds in most of Europe. Even at its worst, 802.11 n WiFi will provide 54Mbps and, at its best, 600Mbps.

In practical terms, the WiFi will always outrun the data. The only drawback in performance specs is that fact that the Velocity runs a sort of Dual Band-lite WiFi setup. It can handle both the 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands, but not at the same time. So, if you have a single device connected which can only run at 2,4GHz, the rest need to do so as well. This isn’t ideal but, as more and more devices support the 5Ghz band every day, it does add some future-proofing.

A Word About Security

Typing in the passport for the ZTE Velocity Hotspot

Setting up a password on the ZTE Velocity is easy. Changing it afterwards is just as simple. Single-time guest access is also really easy to do. The password for guest access can be a random sequence, and expires immediately on first use. This means password sharing is impossible, and allows just one connection period. After that, reconnecting requires a new password.

We do wish that guest access could be time limited, and that filters could be applied to both guest and non-guest access. However, those tend to be features for devices higher up the price charts. Nonetheless, for the price, the Velocity handles security pretty well.

Summary

ZTE Velocity Hotspot held between thumb and pointer fingers

Although there might be one or two omissions on the ZTE Velocity which do expose it as a budget mobile hotspot, a little, they’re not deal breakers. These are the lack of simultaneous dual band WiFi, and limited – if still very effective – guest security options. For most users, these will never rear their heads at all, so we’re really only taking about true power users needs.

We found the speed and reliability to be excellent with 2 or 3 phones connected to the Velocity. After that, we did start to see some slowdown and some stuttering on HD movies, but this is mostly down to the limits of 4G and the network provider, than anything else. For 7 devices all running social media or web browsing, though, we didn’t experience any slowdown at all. Overall, we have to say we were pleasantly surprised with how good the Velocity is.

For the price, it’s unlikely you’ll find anything better.

What Users Say…

Man using the ZTE Velocity Hotspot while in the park

“This is a great, simple product”

“Easy to set up. Easy to use. It works great, and allows me WiFi wherever I go.”

“I love it, you can connect to the internet any place where there is cellular service”

“It worked well. No problems, decent battery life, (easily one day and almost 2) easy to reload with additional data”

“Hands down the best GSM mobile hotspot on the market money can buy for under $100”

“Range is not great, but price was better than expected, and the overall trade-off is positive”

The post ZTE Velocity Review appeared first on Mr Aberthon.

]]>
https://mraberthon.com/zte-velocity-review/feed/ 0
Samsung Galaxy S5 Review https://mraberthon.com/samsung-galaxy-s5-review/ https://mraberthon.com/samsung-galaxy-s5-review/#respond Mon, 05 Nov 2018 23:10:09 +0000 https://mraberthon.com/?p=13937 With Samsung creating new phones quite often, we need an in-depth analysis to distinguish each from the next. The Samsung Galaxy S5 surpasses all of its older peers with flying colors, so this review is one worth reading up.

The post Samsung Galaxy S5 Review appeared first on Mr Aberthon.

]]>
The Samsung Galaxy S range of smartphones is the flagship range of the biggest smartphone manufacturer in the world. The Galaxy S4, predecessor to the S5, has outsold every iPhone model apart from the iPhone 6/6 Plus. This made it a very hard act to follow. It is common for people to upgrade smartphones every 2 years, rather than every year. Indeed, so good was the S4, that it took the release of the Galaxy S7 to get close to the S4 sales figures.

The upside to this is that it means that there are good deals available for the Galaxy S5. As an example, the current cost of a brand new, fully unlocked Samsung Galaxy S5 at Mr Aberthon is $199.

The S5, although now 4 years old is still very much a flagship device. How much so, we asked our expert team to tell us.

Introducing the Samsung Galaxy S5

Scrolling through the Samsung Galaxy S5

The Samsung Galaxy S4 was a triumph for Samsung. It showed the company to finally be a match for the innovation of Apple. The pressure was then on Samsung, of course, to repeat the feat. And repeat they did. A bigger display, more power, a bigger battery, better cameras, protection from water and dust and lots more heralded the coming of the S5.

At a time when 720p HD displays were common the S5, like the S4, had a 1080p Full HD display. This set it apart from the iPhone models of the time, which were still limping along with massively underwhelming resolutions. In fact, it wasn’t until the iPhone X that standard sized Apple smartphones reached the Full HD mark. The iPhone 6 Plus and later did have Full HD displays, but Apple persisted with lower resolutions for the standard lineup. This remarkable fact means that the S5 still graphically out performs any Apple non-Plus smartphone, apart from the iPhone X.

The Galaxy S5 also packs a punch with the rear camera. The first 16MP camera to find its way into a Samsung smartphone set the benchmark for image quality. The camera app also saw some significant improvement over the often complicated version on the S4.

Scores For The Samsung Galaxy S5

Man speaking on a Samsung Galaxy S5 near a porch fence

Our team produced an overall score for the Samsung Galaxy S5 of  4/5, which is a great result for a smartphone now over 4 years old. The scores are broken down as follows:

  • Design (4/5)
  • Build (3.5/5)
  • Display (4.5/5)
  • Cameras (4/5)
  • Performance (4.5/5)
  • Hardware (4/5)
  • Software (4.5/5)

Generally, our team struggled to pick out any faults with the galaxy S5. The typical Samsung software hasn’t aged quite so well as it might, but everything else is still incredibly competitive.

Full Specs

The app store open in the Samsung Galaxy S5

Size

5.59 x 2.85 x 0.32 in
Weight

5.11 oz

Display

1920 x 1080 Full HD
Cameras

16MP / 2MP

Internal Storage

16GB
Micro SD Card Slot

Yes – Up to 256GB

4G

Yes
Battery Capacity

2800 mAh

Battery Life

21 hrs Talk / 390 hrs Standby
Price

$199

Design and Build

Someone holding the Samsung Galaxy S5 tilted

If you’re coming from the very smart metal and glass of an iPhone, even Samsung’s flagships can feel a little cheap. The plastic case of the Galaxy S5 could be a little nicer, but it doesn’t ever actually have a cheap feeling. However, there’s no getting away from the fact that it does look cheaper than its rivals. The perforated effect on the rear case is very grippy, with none of the bar of soap worries you have with a metal case. Nonetheless, despite looking okay, Samsung really should have done more to offer a true premium experience.

Aside from the case, there’s little new about the design of the S5. By this point, smartphones were evolving, rather than being truly revolutionary in any way. This means designs have tended to follow a pattern. Samsung are very keen on showing a path through the Galaxy S series and so, while the S5 is certainly better than the S4, there is still work to do.

The Galaxy S5 is the first Samsung S model to have some water and dust proofing. It is only IP67, rather than the now more common IP68, meaning dust protection and waterproofing for up to 30 minutes in 3 feet of water. Given that most water damage is caused when smartphones are dropped in pools or even toilets, IP67 should be enough. Assuming, of course, that the phone is recovered quickly.

A USB 3.0 connection was cutting edge in 2014, but is rather cumbersome today. The USB-B connector has turned out to be almost as proprietary as any of Apple’s ridiculous connector developments over the years. File transfer speed is good, but getting a spare cable isn’t as easy as you might think, and certainly not as cheap as even the new USB-C standard.

Display

Playing a game on the Samsung Galaxy S5

Samsung do lots of things well. You don’t get to be the biggest maker of tech products on the planet by not doing so. One thing which they are rarely beaten on is the displays in their smartphones. AMOLED have long been prized for their low power requirements and excellent color reproduction. The Super AMOLED displays now used by many smartphone manufacturers is actually a Samsung development of the standard for touchscreen displays.

Samsung also tweak the display settings internally to make punchy colors and excellent sharpness. The display of the Galaxy S5 demonstrates the technology amazingly well. Although “only” 1920 x 1080 px Full HD resolution, it’s easy to forget that it isn’t Quad HD or 4k. The display is really that good. On side by side comparisons, we were hard pushed to tell which was the Full HD and which was the 4K display.

At 5.1″, the display on the Galaxy S5 isn’t huge, but it is plenty big enough for everyday use.

Cameras

The camera of the Samsung Galaxy S5

The 16MP rear camera on the galaxy S5 is an amazing bit of hardware. Image quality is excellent, and even video – so often a weakness in any smartphone, is incredible 4K quality. The camera app is a little slow to fire up, but is much easier to use than the app in the S4. Auto-focus is still among the fastest we’ve seen before or since and real-time HDR is an absolute boon. All smartphones incorporate an HDR mode into their apps, where several images at different exposures are combined into one “super” image. The S5, however, allows you to see HDR applied even before you take the shot. It’s a neat trick, which is also fast enough not to delay the taking of a picture.

Shutter reaction speed, the time from hitting the button to taking the picture, is adequate, without being exceptional. Later Samsung Galaxy S devices have become much quicker, and this is one of the few times the S5 shows its age.

The front camera isn’t the very best, at 2MP, but these were times when the front camera was strictly low-res selfies only. The quality is still good, and certainly good enough for social media. The front camera can capture video at 180 Full HD, and both cameras can be used simultaneously during a video call.

Performance

An ground up view of the Samsung Galaxy S5 while being held

The overall performance of the Galaxy S5 is excellent. A quad core processor sounds a little lightweight for a flagship smartphone nowadays, but most run at 1.5 or 1.7 Ghz. The processor in the Galaxy S5 runs at 2.5 Ghz, which is a significant difference in raw power.

Benchmark tests show the Galaxy S5 to be somewhere between the iPhone 5S and iPhone 6 in performance terms. This is probably about right, given the comparable ages of all three phones. But, of course, benchmarks don’t tell the whole story. The S5 feels really sharp and zippy the vast majority of the time. The only lag we see is when opening the camera app. Otherwise, it all runs along rather nicely.

Overall Hardware

The back of the Samsung Galaxy S5 on a wooden table

As with all smartphones, regardless of age, we see good and bad. Fortunately, the Galaxy S5 delivers far more of the former than the latter. The introduction of a fingerprint sensor is a real plus, especially as it is incorporated into the home button. None of the”somewhere on the back” nonsense we see with other models.

Dual-band 802.11 /b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi is also a massive boost for download speeds. As well as Bluetooth, GPS and NFC, there’s an infrared port. Originally, infrared was for the transferring of files between devices. Now, it is commonly used as a TV or other remote. Before you dismiss this an not needed, think about all the times you need the TV remote and it is across the room. Now, you can be even lazier than ever just by firing up the right app on your phone.

16 GB internal storage was par for the course at the time. Although not exactly stingy today, it’s not a huge amount. Fortunately there is a MicroSD card slot to take another 256 GB if you so choose.

The overall standard and specs of the hardware is still pretty relevant 4 years after release.

Software

Samsung Galaxy S5 being used near plants

Samsung software always delights and infuriates in equal measure. The company have long used their own TouchWiz interface on top of the stock Android installation. As well as that, they’ve often packed a ton of apps onto all their devices. They’ve done the same with the Galaxy S5, sadly. Some of them are actually pretty useful, and there is a real emphasis on health-related apps. But, as always, we’d have preferred the option to not have them.

Android itself moves along nicely, slow camera app notwithstanding. Otherwise it’s pretty standard stuff. One of the irritations of Samsung is that they change the location of various settings every time they put a new phone out. You look for a particular setting, and it isn’t where it should be. Why they do this is anybody’s guess, but it is seriously annoying. Of course, once you get used to it, it’s not an issue, but it just seems so unnecessary.

Conclusion

Samsung Galaxy S5 on the edge of a wooden table

The Samsung Galaxy S5 is still, by anybody’s standards, a serious smartphone. It might not be the biggest hitter nowadays, but it’s good enough to knock it out of the park from time to time. It’s certainly good enough to get around the bases when it needs to. But enough baseball metaphors. The galaxy S5 is still an excellent choice for anybody wanting good, well above average performance, for well below the average flagship price.

It’s also a great introduction to anybody moving across from Apple of Windows devices who don’t want to have to break the bank to do so. To say you could do worse doesn’t really do the Galaxy S5 justice. You could do a lot worse, actually. And pay a lot more for the privilege.

The post Samsung Galaxy S5 Review appeared first on Mr Aberthon.

]]>
https://mraberthon.com/samsung-galaxy-s5-review/feed/ 0
Cat S31 Review https://mraberthon.com/cat-s31-review/ https://mraberthon.com/cat-s31-review/#respond Mon, 05 Nov 2018 22:27:51 +0000 https://mraberthon.com/?p=13922 Talking tough often isn't enough, we need our phones to survive everything it may encounter. The Cat S31 is tough as nails and works great no matter what type of work gloves you've got on. Find out more about it right here.

The post Cat S31 Review appeared first on Mr Aberthon.

]]>
The Caterpillar company have their origins in tractors and farm machinery. The Caterpillar name came from the first use of a continuous track around the wheels used to drive the vehicles. The company expanded first into the wider farming and construction industries, into military vehicles and then into electronic guidance systems for agricultural vehicles. Caterpillar then began offering their own finance and insurance terms to buyers, rather than through a 3rd party finance company. Eventually, the company started to license the Caterpillar brand to other products. Now, we see products like clothing, boots, watches and, of course, mobile phones.

The first Cat cell phone appeared in 2012. All Cat phones are made by the Bullitt Group, a company specializing in manufacturing products under license for global brands. The Cat range was designed and developed to match the reputation Caterpillar already had for producing tough products. As a result, the phones produced all have high levels of protection built in, together with features specific to heavy industry uses.

Introducing the Cat S31

Man looking at camera holding the Cat S31

The S3x range of Cat phones is aimed at the mid-range smartphone market. The S31 incorporates all the rugged features of the flagship S6x range. The S31, though, has a greater emphasis on affordability and appeal to everyday usage needs. It is still ideal for use in heavy duty workplaces, but the price allows it to better transfer to the everyday world of the average smartphone user.

Built to last, with IP68 and MIL-STD 810G protection, Cat have gone further than most to prove the S31’s durability. In most examples of rugged phones, manufacturers will claim MIL-STD 810G compliance without actually demonstrating it. There are no rules for testing smartphones against the standard, so manufacturers are left to do their own tests. Although the MIL-STD 810G standard does expect minimum requirements to be met, manufacturers rarely release actual test results or offer limits to the various claims.

Cat, though do provide testing specs, which makes it much easier to establish exactly how tough their phones are without finding out too late.

To find out whether the Cat S31 smartphone is a viable smartphone for general use or if it offers a lot more, as Cat claim, we asked our team of rugged phone testers to cast their eye over the device.

The Cat S31 is available for $329.95, brand new and fully unlocked to any GSM network.

Scores for the Cat S31

Cat S31 camera with leaves afar

Our reviews team awarded the Cat S31 a score of 4.5/5. This is an average from the categories below:

Design (4.1/5)

Build (4.8/5)

Display (4.5/5)

Cameras (4.4/5)

Durability (5/5)

Hardware (4.4/5)

Software (4/5)

Our team were unanimous in their praise for the S31. The overwhelming view was that, although perhaps a little more pricey than most mid-range phones, the S31 is worth every cent.

Full Specs

Zoomed in view of the Cat S31

Size

5.75 x 2.93 x 0.50 in
Weight

7.05 oz

Display Size

4.7”
Display Resolution

1280 x 720 px

Cameras

8MP / 5MP
Internal Storage

16GB

Micro SD Card Slot

Yes – up to 128GB
Battery Life

30 hours Talk time / 38 days standby

4G

Yes
Price

$329.95

Design and Build

Often out of necessity, rugged phones lack some of the sleekness of many smartphones. After all, if you’re going to survive being dropped from 6 feet onto concrete, you will need some design changes. The squared off corners of the S31 case goes a long way to add the protection needed for those drop specs. Unfortunately, they also make it look just a fraction industrial. The S31 is an industrial phone in many ways, of course, but it does mean that it becomes a decent, but not great, looking smartphone.

The back case has grooves cut into it, which don’t offer a great deal with bare hands, but make a difference when wearing gloves. The deep grooves make gripping the S31 with think gloves on, far easier. In honesty, they’re substance over style, but we’re actually okay with that. Better a smartphone is usable and a little plain, than having Hollywood good looks and being impractical. The overall feel of the S31 is one of solid chunkiness. It’s a fair bit thicker than any non-rugged smartphone, but that is a good thing.

We’d probably describe the looks of the S31 as “striking”. Whether this is good or bad will depend entirely on your personal taste. We will say, though, that we grew to like the look a lot. At first glance, it’s a long way removed from the likes of the Galaxy S9 or the iPhone 8, but we still ended up liking it just as much.

Display

Cat S31 lying a the edge of table with fall foliage nearby

It’s difficult for smartphones to protect their display for any length of time. Often, whether the display survives any kind of drop is down to pure luck, rather than by design. Even those phones claiming to be drop resistant usually don’t instill a huge amount of confidence. With the S31, though, it’s all very different. Try dropping a smartphone onto concrete, and the sickening crunch of metal and glass will make your hair fall out. When we dropped the S31 from 6t onto the tiled office floor, there was a dull thud and a small bounce, but no more. It landed face down, so there was that momentary reluctance to pick it up and turn it over. When we did, though, there wasn’t a mark anywhere. That we were impressed doesn’t begin to tell the story.

As for the actual display quality, the 4.7″ size has a 720 x 1280 px HD resolution. Given that Cat probably never meant for the S31 to be a specialist media device, the resolution is more than enough. Clarity and color is excellent, and it has a couple of tricks up its sleeve for use at work or in extreme conditions. There are a few smartphones which have a second level of sensitivity built into displays for use whilst wearing gloves. Usually, this means gloves that are fairly thin, and not as used in industrial environments. The S31 claims that wet hands and any type of glove offer no barrier to using the display. In tests, we found that very wet hands made absolutely no difference, the touchscreen responded every time. Even more impressively, we couldn’t find a pair of gloves thick enough to prevent the screen recognizing touches.

Cameras

Arm taking a picture using the Cat S31

When we saw the specs for the cameras on the S31 – 8MP rear, 2MP front – we initially lacked a little enthusiasm. But that was before we used them. The front, 2MP camera is pretty basic, admittedly, not being able to record video. But, the images are a different matter. They were up with the best we’ve seen from a camera at 2MP or less. The rear camera, again, not the best in terms of features were also excellent. It looks like Cat have recognized that the S31 camera may well be used for inspection or evidence purposes, and so they have made sure to use quality components.

Colors and sharpness were excellent, and the LED flash performed very well. Being able to record 720p video is also a great addition, for the same work-related reasons. Perhaps the camera isn’t the pro experience some might want, but it’s easily good enough to impress.

Durability

Cat S31 lying face down on leaves in camping grounds

We’ve already talked about the strength of the display protection on the S31, but the things Cat have done to make the phone a true rugged device are very impressive. The S31 will also remain operational in temperatures ranging from -22 to 131 degrees Fahrenheit. At such temperatures many smartphones will have long given up, and their batteries sucked dry. As well as great drop protection, the S31 also has protection against physical shock. Technically not the same thing as an actual drop, sudden shock G forces can actually be much greater than impact from height.

The S31 is also dust proof, and will withstand submersion in up to 6 feet of water for 30 minutes.

There’s no doubting the ability of the Cat S31 to survive almost any environment. In all honesty, the phone may well outlive us all.

Hardware

Cat S31 lying on tree trunk

We’d assess the overall hardware standard as upper mid-range. A good Quad core processor does it’s job well, and there’s 16GB of internal storage with a Micro SD card slot for up to a further 128GB. You get 4G, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi  and GPS, which isn’t always the case on rugged phones. Having them means that the S31 is capable of being a good smartphone without the extra protections Cat added.

The huge 4000 mAh battery gives 30 hours of talktime, which is about twice the average for any smartphone. It will also sit in standby for 38 days. This battery life is essential if you are in an environment where charging point won’t be right next to you, possible for days on end.

There’s also an ambient light sensor, which controls the screen brightness for all environments. In bright sunlight, the extra power built in by Cat kicks in and ensures the display is still easy to read.

Following on from the above comments about wearing gloves, admittedly, we didn’t have truly heavy duty gloves available, but even the thickest skiing gloves we had worked okay. Multi-touch wasn’t quite so accurate, but it’s unlikely you’ll need them in circumstances in which you’re wearing high-end protection on your hands.

Software

Man holding Cat S31 with both hands while sitting

First, the best thing about the S31. Cat haven’t added anything you don’t need. You get an almost-stock Android which provides a fast, slick experience. This, again, is a nod to the industrial intentions of the S31 target audience.

The S31 ships with Android 7. As yet, Cat haven’t announced any upgrade possibilities for the phone, which is unusual. It’s quite possible one may appear in time but, no matter if it doesn’t, Android 7 is a great version of the Google OS.

Conclusion

If you work in construction, oil or any other heavy duty industry, the Cat S31 is one of the best choices available. In fact, it may just be the best bang for buck rugged phone available.

It’s survive almost anything, and has specs more than high enough to give a great smartphone experience.

The post Cat S31 Review appeared first on Mr Aberthon.

]]>
https://mraberthon.com/cat-s31-review/feed/ 0
LG K10 Review https://mraberthon.com/lg-k10-review/ https://mraberthon.com/lg-k10-review/#respond Tue, 30 Oct 2018 21:55:55 +0000 https://mraberthon.com/?p=13893 Taking a look into the LG devices, you'd be happy to note that the K10 ranks quite well. In fact, its screen's slightly curved edge and quad core processor will surely appeal to the younger generation, as well as anybody who wants a great phone at a decent price.

The post LG K10 Review appeared first on Mr Aberthon.

]]>
LG are another smartphone manufacturer who have been a big part of the market for many years. Their flagship phones can, at their best, rival anything from Samsung, Apple or anybody else.

Long time innovators, it’s almost a surprise when LG release a smartphone without some sort of brand new feature none of us have ever seen before. However, whether there’s a surprise in the specs or not, there’s no mistaking the fact LG produce solid, high-performing smartphones every single time. The new innovations LG suddenly produce aren’t always a big hit with users from day 1. But, eventually, we see those new features making their way into other brands, in one form or another.

This reputation for excellence and innovation filters down to the “standard” smartphones LG produces. Never, it seems, do they release anything that isn’t anything but impressive.

Introducing the LG K10

Man talking on the LG K10

The K10 is something of a new approach for LG. Usually, each series in their lineup will have its own distinctive look and feature set. This time, with the K10, they’ve squeezed a mid-range smartphone into the same styling as their flagship G range.

Their is, though, one obvious difference, the display. At 5.3″, it is just about the biggest in LG’s non-phablet lineup. Best of all, it is on a device which is well below the 6″ overall size threshold at which the way we handle and use a smartphone needs to be reviewed. Having such a display on such a comparatively small device is remarkable.

But, is that enough? Is a big screen all that’s needed nowadays to impress users? The fact is that no, it isn’t. We now demand a great deal from our smartphones, and spend a lot more time on things like social media than we do watching movies or streaming video. This means that you can’t just throw a shiny surface on it and expect it to sell. The rest of the package needs to keep up. To see if the K10 manages that, we asked our team to take a look at what was going on underneath and report back. Below, you will see what they thought.

Scores For The LG K10

Hands playing game on LG K10

The overall score given by our experts for the LG K10 is 4.5/5. This is as a result of the individual score for each category below:

  • Design (4.6/5)
  • Build (4.5/5)
  • Display (4.3/5)
  • Cameras (4.6/5)
  • Hardware (4.5/5)
  • Software (4.3/5)

Any worries we had about the rest of the K10 not matching up to the big, bold display were soon put to rest. The K10, might just be one of the best “crossover” devices we’ve seen. Bigger than a smartphone, smaller than a phablet, it is idea as a multimedia device which remains truly portable in all circumstances.

Full Specs

Closeup of the LG K10 speakers while on a rock

Size

5.75 x 2.94 x 0.35 in
Weight

5.01 oz

Display Size

5.3”
Display Resolution

720 x 1280 px

Cameras

8MP / 5MP
Internal Storage

16GB

MicroSD Card Slot

Yes – Up to 32GB
Battery Life

13 hours Talk time / 20 days Standby

4G

Yes

Price

$149

Design and Build

Hands tilting the LG K10 phone

We mentioned in the intro to the K10 that LG have used the same styling as on their flagship G range, specifically the G4. This makes the back case just a little more rounded, which is important for a bigger than average smartphone like the K10. Remarkably, considering the size of the display, LG have somehow managed to keep the weight down to a mere 5 oz. Although a plastic body, it feels remarkably premium, and far more solid than its light weight might suggest.

The slight, 2.5 degree ARC gives the K10 a seam-free appearance, and adds greatly to the visual attractiveness of the phone. This “pebble” design has proved popular for LG devices, and we really do like what we see here.

The K10 is, no doubt, a good looking smartphone. On release, LG stated that they hoped the K10 would appeal to younger users as a media device, and so they took steps to keep it fresh looking. Whether it will appeal to younger viewers, we can’t say, not that it matters. Nothing about the K10 suggests for a second that it is anything but a grown up smartphone for grown up people.

Display

The LG K10 in a cave near a monument

If you asked us outright, about the resolution we’d expect on a 5.3″ display, we’d always say 1080p Full HD. And so it was a little bit of a surprise when we saw how good the display of the K10 is, and then realizing it is “only” 720 x 1280 px. A 720p resolution is actually still the most common resolution in use today. We also now see, with display technology advancing rapidly, that display resolutions aren’t the make or break they might have been a few years ago. Yes, a 4K display is great, but resolutions below that level tend to rely on what manufacturers do with them, than actual pixel counts.

When running 4K video through the K10, the effect was amazing. Although unnecessary on a 720p display, we run 4K video to see if the phone can keep up with the extra demand from the quality. Which the K10 did, by the way. We also tried an SD 640 x 480 px video, they type your old TV used to show. The up-scaling done by the K10 made the low res picture better than it had any right to be.

Whatever LG have done to get this level of performance out of the K10 display, they’ve done a magnificent job. So, if you’re wondering why the display didn’t score higher, it’s just a couple of simple things which prevented a better score. We found that ultra-high contrast images lost just a fraction of sharpness. We should add that it’s unlikely that you will ever take such an image, but it is one aspect of how we test the display. In general use, the display is just great. The other thing is that there is no ambient light sensor. It’s a small point, but one which can matter.

Cameras

side profile closeup of man holding LG K10

The rear camera on the K10 is 8MP, and the front 5MP. Both take images which put much of the competition to shame, with bright, punchy colors and great sharpness. But where the cameras really excel is with the app LG have provided. Sometimes, we see apps packed with options that 90% of people will never use. This time, though, LG have packed the app with options that aren’t just useful, but may well turn out to be essential.

Both cameras can record 1080p Full HD video, both allow the pausing of video recording, and also allow a still image to be taken without interrupting the recording. We do see more of these things on smartphones now, but they are usually limited to the rear camera. To have them on both is an excellent development. Both cameras also have GeoTagging available. If you are travelling, it can often be difficult to remember exactly where you were on any given day. With GeoTagging, the camera records the GPS data along with the image.

Images can be taken using a variety of methods. You can use the on screen shutter button, the volume key or, best of all, your voice. At first we were skeptical about the use of voice recognition for taking photos, and whether it would even work. Not only does it work, but we really wish every smartphone had the feature. With the front camera, you get the “white screen” selfie light, and can take pictures using gestures. All this makes for a terrific experience with the cameras.

Hardware

Back of LG K10 while on cement

The quad core processor performs admirably, even under extreme pressure. There is 1.5GB of RAM memory which does okay as well. Internal storage is 16GB, with the option to add up to another 32GB in the MicroSD card slot.

The battery is also a very good performer, with 13 hours of talk time and 20 days of standby. Only after subjecting the K10 to really heavy pressure, beyond what it would face in normal use, did we start to see a noticeable dip in battery life.

Software

hand holding the LG K10

With the K10, you get LG’s, frankly wonderful, UX 5.0. It adds a tone of useful stuff to the Android installation, including extra security and more. There’s LG’s QuickMemo feature which lets you write or draw on just about any screen.

There’s also a clip tray, where you can put anything you want, and bring it up at the bottom of the screen whenever you need. This is a great way of storing a collection of information or data which you can then easily send in an email or text.

Conclusion

The K10 is the only device in this particular range from LG, so it would have been easy for them to get the specs wrong and produce a horrible white elephant. Instead, they did just about everything right. Form the display size to the design of the K10, LG have produced a marvel of a smartphone. And one which deserves all the plaudits it gets.

The post LG K10 Review appeared first on Mr Aberthon.

]]>
https://mraberthon.com/lg-k10-review/feed/ 0
LG G Vista Review https://mraberthon.com/lg-g-vista-review/ https://mraberthon.com/lg-g-vista-review/#respond Tue, 30 Oct 2018 18:42:11 +0000 https://mraberthon.com/?p=13840 Let yourself be guided through the detailed and thorough review on the LG G Vista. This device is fabulous with its clear screen, large size and swift software. The price will surely seal the deal.

The post LG G Vista Review appeared first on Mr Aberthon.

]]>
The LG Vista range of smartphones is designed to provide a powerful, but cost effective alternative to the more expensive flagship devices from both LG and other manufacturers. It was also one of the first devices to introduce large displays in standard smartphones. Not so big as to qualify as a phablet but, at the time of release, a few eyebrows were lifted at the display size. At the time, Samsung were at 5.1″, and Apple were still turning out 4.7″ displays on the iPhone 6. Both fell far short of the 5.7″ display on the Vista.

But, as has been said many times, size isn’t everything. If you’re going to be big, you also need to be good. LG, in their marketing, claim the Vista to be “a sleek and smooth experience”, and offering a “comfortable one-handed grip”. Both are vital in any smartphone, but especially when you get to devices touching 6″ overall size and above.

Does the LG G Vista live up to expectations? See what our experts think below. The LG G Vista is available from Mr Aberthon, unlocked and brand new, for just $164.

Introducing the LG G Vista

hand holding up LG G Vista in front of greenery

With its 5.7″ 720p HD display, the G Vista is big enough to make people sit up and notice. Couple that with LG’s reputation for great smartphones with looks and performance as standard, and it’s difficult not to be impressed, at least on first look.

The full spec sheet details, while not quite the equivalent of the flagship devices are certainly more than competent enough to get the job done. LG, as always, have taken a less is more approach to the design. Inside, though, the company seem to have left nothing out. One or two components may be a generation down from the very best available, but with good reason. You can’t pack any smartphone with the best available and then not expect it to cost a lot of money.

Compromise, in many cases, is actually a good thing. Given that people own a smartphone device, on average, for almost two years before upgrading, price is clearly an issue. And that interval is rising. Back in 2013, we changed our phones every 20 months, now it’s every 23 months. The demands of apps is also slowing, meaning that your smartphone is likely to be perfectly capable of running smoothly for longer than was the case a few years ago.

That’s why a price of $164 for the LG G Vista is a fantastic deal.

Scores for the LG G Vista

Man smiling while looking at video playing on LG G Vista

The Vista achieved an overall score of 4.3/5. This is made up of the following category scores:

  • Design (4.2/5)
  • Build (4.4/5)
  • Display (4.1/5)
  • Cameras (4/5)
  • Performance (4.5/5)
  • Hardware (4.1/5)
  • Software (4.2/5)
  • Usability (4.5/5)

The G Vista excelled in a couple of areas, but was above average for all the categories.

Full Specs

Woman taking a picture of herself using the LG G Vista

Size

5.99 x 3.12 x 0.36 in
Weight

5.89 oz

Display Size

5.7”
Display Resolution

1280 x 720 px

Cameras

8MP/1.3MP
4G

Yes

Battery Capacity

3200 mAh
Battery Life

20 hours talk time / 27 days standby

Internal Storage

8GB
Micro SD Card Slot

Yes – up to 64GB

Price

$164

Design and Build

LG G Vista lying on grid on ground

LG promise that the Vista will be comfortable to hold and, actually, they’re right. Only the smallest hands will need to stretch to use the Vista while keeping the other hand free. The gently curved rear case is textured to aid grip, and does feel nice in the hand. The rear buttons are easily accessible, and are also textured differently to the case for easy location.

The overall size is just a fraction under 6″ high. This stops the Vista – just – from becoming a phablet. It is, like most smartphones, good looking without being exactly pretty/ LG have never dressed up their devices to win a beauty contest, they like to keep them simple. The finished effect is a decent level of sleekness to the whole package.

The weight is also pretty good for a device this big. At 5.89 oz, it weighs only slightly more than average. That average, of course, includes a lot of much smaller smartphones.

Display

Man watching video on LG G Vista while sitting on park bentch

This is the point where everybody says “Ah, but it isn’t a Full HD display”. Well we’ve got news for you. Only in the last year has a Full HD display been the norm on smartphones. High end models have pushed it to Quad HD or even 4K, but the rest have made 720p HD displays the most common in the history of smartphones.

And, in all fairness to LG, the quality of the display is pretty good. The IPS display type does carry some benefits over the more common, and more expensive Super AMOLED displays. Although blacks aren’t ever quite true black on IPS, whites are whiter. The effect of this is that IPS displays perform much better in bright sunlight, and are generally sharper at close viewing distances.

In our testing, everything from movies to games ran very smoothly. No tearing or stutter was evident, even on very high resolution files.

Cameras

Zoom up of LG G Vista lying on white grid

If we were only looking at the rear camera of the LG G Vista, the score would certainly be higher. At 8 MP, the pixel count isn’t especially high, but that can be a good thing. Smartphone camera sensors are almost ridiculously small. Every pixel packed onto them then requires its own chunk of the available light to work properly. The more pixels, the less light available to each, and the worse the low light performance. By limiting the pixels, quality generally improves, and this is what LG seem to have done here. Images from the front camera are bright and sharp, with excellent color reproduction. One good reason for this is the laser focus system. Although more common now, LG were at the forefront of the technology. The result is fantastic sharpness and lightning fast focus lock.

The front camera is a little less capable, at 1.3 MP. This wasn’t an unusual pixel count when the Vista was released, but has long been superseded. However, it doesn’t tell the entire story. Although only 1.3 MP, the images from the front camera are perfectly acceptable for selfies and online use. You can use gestures to fire the selfie trigger as well, which is useful. It would have been nice to have more pixels to play with, but what are there actually do a decent job.

Performance

A quad core processor is plenty to drive the hardware the Vista has. Hi-res displays can be a real drain, but limiting the display on the Vista to 720p takes a lot of the stress away. It also means the two most expensive components needn’t always mean a high price.

At no time did we ever feel like there was any lag when opening or switching apps. The camera app is a little slow to open, but that’s not actually that unusual. 3rd party camera apps very often respond faster than stock apps, so it’s usually a limitation of the app, not the smartphone.

Generally speaking, we were struggling to see any discernible speed difference between the Vista and a Galaxy S8+.

Hardware and Software

LG G Vista lying on grid on ground

We’ve already touched on most parts of the Vista hardware. We should reiterate that the quality of the individual components is good enough to do whatever you need a smartphone to do, despite not being cutting edge. The ultimate win on the hardware front is that minor compromises in the components means a hugely reduced cost.

One true highlight we’ve yet to mention is the astonishing battery performance. LG promise 15 hours of talktime, but testing shows it often easily goes past 20 hours with capacity to spare.

In terms of the software, The Vista runs Android 5.1, and does a great job of it. LG, like so many of their competitors do tend to pack out their devices wilt their own apps. Sadly, also like most of their competitors, most of those apps are useless, and just take up space. Fortunately, deleting them is easy, and should be one of your first jobs. Other than that, the way LG present Android is outstanding. Nearly all makers put their own skin on top of the stock Android installation, and LG are no different. LG, though, don’t tend to throw in too many unnecessary features.

But what LG have added, in the main, is very useful. Some highlights are running two apps in split screens, double tap to wake and an inbuilt Office-type app. Best of all, in our opinion, is a special “Guest Mode”. This lets you set up unique unlock patterns which, when used, will restrict access for that user. Now, you can let the kids play with your phone without finding out they’ve installed a ton of apps you don’t want, or been dialing Australia.

Usability

LG G Vista held in someones hand

Any device which is larger than the average smartphone will have a big chunk of its usability decided by how easy it is to actually handle and use one handed. You should know that you will need to make some adjustments to get used to the extra size of the Vista. But, after a couple of hours, what felt like having to stretch a long way actually gets a lot easier.

Watching movies, as you might expect, is a great experience on the 5.7″ display. Gaming, especially those with fast moving screens is also so much easier due to the amount of detail available. The extra features LG provide, particularly split screening are also incredibly useful. They do take a little getting used to, and it’s easy to split the screen by accident. Once you get the hang of it, however, it’s such a time saver.

Conclusion

It’s unlikely that you will find better for less. LG are good at what they do, and the Vista shows every bit of that goodness.

For $164, even if the Vista wasn’t as good as it is, it would still be difficult not to recommend it.

The post LG G Vista Review appeared first on Mr Aberthon.

]]>
https://mraberthon.com/lg-g-vista-review/feed/ 0
Nokia Lumia 830 Review https://mraberthon.com/nokia-lumia-830-review/ https://mraberthon.com/nokia-lumia-830-review/#respond Tue, 23 Oct 2018 18:48:01 +0000 https://mraberthon.com/?p=13782 If you haven't yet checked out the Nokia Lumia 830, you are missing out. This in depth review delves into all the cool features that Microsoft has given it as well as the advantages its Windows software.

The post Nokia Lumia 830 Review appeared first on Mr Aberthon.

]]>
Nokia have had a torrid time of it over the last few years. As recently as 2013, the company was second only to Samsung in terms of units sold globally, out-selling Apple by nearly 2:1. Within a year, the brand was on its knees, and not even in the top 10. A large part of the downfall was that they simply hadn’t kept up with smartphone trends. Nokia insisted on persevering with its Symbian OS, when everybody else who wasn’t Apple had switched wholesale to Android.

Consequently, Nokia ended up so far behind the pack, that the market value of the business dropped from $110 billion to $6 billion in just 5 years. At the lowest point for the company, Microsoft stepped in and bought the mobile phone arm of Nokia. This included the Lumia range of Windows Mobile devices.

Remarkably, throughout the turmoil, Nokia continued to produce outstanding smartphones. Microsoft eventually sold the brand back to HMD Global, a company run by former execs of Nokia Mobile, and a full range of Nokia smartphones, this time running Android, is on the market. Nokia themselves are development partners with HMD global.

The Lumia range of smartphones includes the 830. The 800 series is a step down from the flagship 900 series, but the higher numbers, like the 830, tend to outperform the low 900 numbers. This makes the 830 either sort of a mid-range flagship device. But does it still cut it? Let’s see what our team think.

Introducing the Nokia Lumia 830

Seen is the Nokia Lumia 830 being held over jean pants

In truth, Microsoft Mobile has never really got going. Despite the backing and the deep pockets of Microsoft, they just couldn’t break the stranglehold of Google and Apple in the mobile operating system marketplace. It’s actually something of a shame, because any long time user of Windows Mobile, particularly Windows 8 and Windows 10 will tell you it’s the best mobile OS available.

Indeed, one of our team is so convinced at the quality of all Lumia phones that he just wanted to give the 830 a 5/5 for everything and go and get lunch. He uses an Android phone now, but guess what? He uses it on the new Nokia 8 from HMD Global.

As for the Lumia 830 itself, it has a good processor, a good rear camera, lots of storage options and runs Windows 10 Mobile. This makes the crossover between desktop and smartphone seamless. Although Windows Mobile can’t really compete with Android and iOS, it is a terrific system, and still has the full support of Microsoft.

The Nokia Lumia 830 is currently $179 on Mr Aberthon, brand new and fully unlocked.

Scores For The Nokia Lumia 830

Side profile view of the Nokia Lumia 830

The overall score our experts gave the Nokia Lumia 830 is 4/5. This is broken down as below:

  • Design (4/5)
  • Build (4/5)
  • Display (4/5)
  • Cameras (3.5/5)
  • Hardware (4/5)
  • Software (4.5/5)

If we leave out the perceived lack of apps (and we’ll get to that later), the software behind the Lumia 830 is excellent. The legendary Nokia optical tricks also play their part. The Lumia 830 isn’t perfect, but it stands its corner very well, and is a match for any Android or iPhone device at the same price.

Full Specs

Nokia Lumia 830 Lying on a round wooden table

Size

5.49 x 2.78 x 0.33 in
Weight

5.29 oz

Display Size

5”
Display resolution

1280 x 720 px

Cameras

10MP / 0.9MP
Internal Storage

16GB

MicroSD Card Slot

Yes – Up to 256GB
Battery Capacity

2200 mAh

Battery Life

15 hrs Talk / 528 hrs Standby
4G

Yes

Operating System

Windows 10 Mobile
Price

$179

Design and Build

Nokia Lumia 830 Surrounded by headphones on a wooden table

One slightly odd aspect of the Nokia Lumia range is the lack of design consistency. Some, such as the 920 have a metal, curved back cover. Others, like the 830, are flat and smooth. The 830 also allows for interchangeable back covers, so you can have a stylish grey or a bold bright green. for Nokia, and Microsoft, the Lumia range has always been about personality, and the colors reflect that. Colorful rear ends aside, the Lumia 830 looks sleek and smart, and is refreshingly angled in these times of curves and rounded corners.

The build quality, as with all Nokia phones is outstanding. The metal frame brings a real feeling of stability and strength. We’d probably have liked a little more feeling from the buttons, but this is an issue with all smartphones nowadays. As bodies get thinner, so there is less room for buttons that are particularly substantial.

Display

Nokia Lumia 830 open to its music player

Nokia use an awful lot of their own designs and innovations in their smartphones. When most manufacturers have turned to Samsung for their Super AMOLED displays, Nokia chose an IPS LCD screen with their patented ClearBlack technology. This makes any device far better than the resolution might indicate. On the 830, the entire picture, edge to edge is sharp and massively impressive. The 5″ 1280 x 720 px HD resolution may not have numbers people shouting from the rooftops, but Nokia manage more with this display than many do with much higher resolutions.

Not once did we feel that we weren’t watching at least a Full HD display.

Cameras

Nokia Lumia 830 While taking a picture with its multiple lenses

If you know anything about Nokia cameras, you know that they have always led the way on both pixel count and, crucially, quality. As far back as 2010, Nokia were using 12 MP cameras in some models. By 2012, we had the Nokia 808 Pureview, with a mind boggling 41 MP. You didn’t get a 41 MP image. Instead, what the camera did is take the 41 MP image and then scale it down to 8 MP. This meant incredible clarity and unbelievable sharpness. Indeed, when compared side by side, some pro snappers couldn’t tell the 808 images from a high end Nikon dSLR image.

We don’t have all those pixels in the 830, however. What Nokia did in the meantime was use the technology differently and instead scaled down the MP counts of the cameras. The Lumia 830 only packs 10 MP, but its output is every bit as good as the 808. Nobody does smartphone cameras better than Nokia.

So why do the cameras only score 3.5/5? it’s because of a very disappointing 0.9 MP camera in front. We haven’t seen 0.9 MP cameras anywhere since about 2005, and yet here it is. It’s better than most at twice the MP, due to the technology employed, but it’s still a curious decision by Nokia.

The plus point for the front camera is that it shoots amazing quality 720p HD video. This is to go with the equally impressive 1080p Full HD video from the rear camera.

Hardware

A Man holding the Nokia Lumia 830 and the camera section is seen

On the comms side we have 802.11n dual-band WiFi, Bluetooth 4, GPS, NFC and an FM radio built in. The processor pushing all this along is a neat quad core 1.2 Ghz. You also get wireless charging.

Battery life is excellent. Nokia’s published figure of 12 hours of talk time doesn’t sound much in comparison with some devices, but who uses their smartphone primarily for talking these days. When you consider that you will get well over 20 days of standby, you see how efficient the Lumia 830 is.

Software

The Nokia Lumia 830 Being held in from of 2 school bags

Now, the 64 thousand dollar question. What about the apps?

You will hear everywhere that Windows Mobile is dead because it doesn’t have any apps. If you have a Windows PC, fire up the Microsoft app store. All those apps there, you can use on the Lumia 830. All the major players, such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat all have official apps. There are also many 3rd party apps to do the same job. You may not have 2 million apps to choose from, but you will always find what you need.

Windows 10 Mobile is just awesome, and don’t let anybody tell you otherwise. You can move seamlessly from smartphone to desktop and back, including picking up where you left off in documents and reading material.Windows 10 mobile is fast and smooth, and far less fiddly that either iOS or Android.

It really is a shame that the OS can’t make a real impact on the smartphone world. It really is that good.

Conclusion

The nokia lumia 830 being held while seated and above a pair of jean pants

You might, depending on your current viewpoint, have to suspend some of the beliefs you have about any smartphone running Windows. Once you get used to the obvious differences, you will find it a delight to use.

The Nokia Lumia 830 is an excellent reason to make a switch to Windows, and that you can do it for just $179 at Mr Aberthon is fantastic. Try it, you just might like it.

The post Nokia Lumia 830 Review appeared first on Mr Aberthon.

]]>
https://mraberthon.com/nokia-lumia-830-review/feed/ 0
Samsung Galaxy S7 Active Review https://mraberthon.com/samsung-galaxy-s7-active-review/ https://mraberthon.com/samsung-galaxy-s7-active-review/#respond Tue, 23 Oct 2018 18:16:40 +0000 https://mraberthon.com/?p=13755 From an unbeatable camera with a score of 5/5, to the durability that few can beat, the Samsung Galaxy S7 Active is beyond amazing. That is exactly why it is such a highly requested device by adventure lovers as well as just about everyone else.

The post Samsung Galaxy S7 Active Review appeared first on Mr Aberthon.

]]>
We would like to say that smartphones are robust, durable devices which are built to last. Except they’re not. Or at least most of them aren’t. Occasionally, though, manufacturers will go the extra mile and create true rugged phones. Samsung, actually, have been doing it for years. They have an extensive range of rugged phones from flip-tops to flagship smartphones. Although there are other brands doing it as well as Samsung, few have committed to doing it for so long, and with such consistent results. That they make a rugged version of their very best phone is also an amazing thing to see.

And so, to see if the hot streak continues, we handed off the Galaxy S7 Active to our quite clumsy and irresponsible team of smartphone breakers. See what they thought below.

The Samsung Galaxy S7 Active is available for $599, brand new and fully unlocked from Mr Aberthon.

Introducing the Samsung Galaxy S7 Active

Samsung S7 Active zoomed in showing back case

All models of the Active version of Samsung’s flagship smartphone range has, to date, had almost identical specs to the standard S equivalent. Some components do get changed out of necessity due to limits on space in the case when the rugged protection measures are in place. Another reason is that making a phone ultra durable can be costly. And so, some other components may need to have a slight downgrade in order to keep the eventual launch price controlled.

Not this time, though, Instead, Samsung made a bigger case and put the exact same components inside, except for one. They upped the battery from 3000mAh to 4000mAh. It’s hard to imagine that the S7 could be bettered, but we think it has. It is a little bulkier, obviously, and a little heavier, but it is still the Galaxy S7 underneath.

The Galaxy S7 Active really makes us wish all manufacturers would follow Samsung’s lead and make their smartphones even just a little less fragile.

Scores for the Galaxy S7 Active

Samsung S7 Active behind held in someones hand

Our team of experts awarded the Galaxy S7 Active an overall score of 4.45/5. And they didn’t even break it. The overall score is an average of the scores for several categories thus:

  • Design (4/5)
  • Build (4.5/5)
  • Display (4.5/5)
  • Cameras (5/5)
  • Hardware (4.5/5)
  • Durability (4.5/5)
  • Software (4/5)

The standard S7 is still one of the best phones Samsung have ever produced. Making it Active is absolutely no detriment to that fact. Yes, it’s a little bulkier, of course, but that’s the point.

Full Specs

Size

5.86 x 2.95 x 0.39 in
Weight

6.53 oz

Display Size

5.1”

Display Resolution

2560 x 1440 px
Internal Storage

32GB

MicroSD Card Slot

Yes – Up to 200GB
Cameras

12MP / 5MP

Battery Capacity

4000 mAh
Battery Life

32 hrs Talk / 384 hrs Standby

Rugged

Yes – MIL STD-810G
Price

$599

Design and Build

Samsung S7 Active lying on floor covered in water droplets

It’s really not the point of any rugged smartphone to look sexy. But, to be fair to Samsung, the S7 Active is a little more subtle than previous incarnations. The bumper corners have reduced somewhat over the years, for sure. But, there’s no getting away from the fact that the S7 Active is a little on the big side for a device with a 5.1″ display. But don’t be disheartened by a score of 4/5 for design. Not even the Cat S series would ever be worth a 4.5, and they are seriously good looking rugged phones.

But, whilst the S7 Active may lack a little finesse in the design, it really makes up for it in the build quality. Chief amost all is the fact that you still get 3 hardware buttons, as opposed to a hardware home button and touch back and recent button. Having three definite clicks to feel helps tons when wearing gloves.

Drop the S7 Active in 6 feet of water and it will survive for up to 30 minutes. Take it to the beach and sand won’t matter. Shake it, bend it, dip it in oil, take it from oven to freezer if you like. None of it will matter. With military grade protection, there’s every chance it’ll live longer than you will. The display, Samsung tell us, will survive a drop of 5 feet onto a hard, flat surface. Try that with any other phone, we dare you.

The S7 Active feels as solid as a rock. The extra grip from the corner bumpers also offsets some of the extra size you need to adjust to. It’s weird to say it, but it’s as strong as it is capable. Often, that isn’t the case at all, as one gets sacrificed for the other.

Display

Samsung S7 Active on cement near waterfall

The 5.1″, Quad HD display is probably Samsung’s best ever outside its 4K screens. Bright sunlight is no match for the Super AMOLED construction, and a mindbogglingly high pixel density of 576 ppi means the image on screen looks sharp enough to cut steel. Colors are amazing and contrast is always perfect.

At no time, whether browsing images or watching movies, did we wish we had a better display. The only thing which stopped the display getting a perfect 10 isn’t even the fact that it’s not a 4K display. It’s that the S7 Active is a full quarter inch taller than the S7, and yet none of that space was used for a bigger display. we do get why, of course. If Samsung had added a bigger display, it wouldn’t have been the S7 Active, it would have been a new device altogether. And probably a more expensive one, at that.

Cameras

Samsung S7 Active being held showing the camera back

Other manufacturers had already moved to 16MP when Samsung were putting the S7 Active together, but they chose to go with 12MP, and what a good decision that was. The biggest weakness of any smartphone camera is always low light performance. More pixels means smaller pixels. This, in turn, means less light per pixel. By restricting the pixel count, Samsung have made sure they get bigger than average pixels onto the sensor. They also have a lens with a maximum  f/1.7 aperture. This is seriously good in lens speak, as the lower the number the more light can get to the sensor in one go. It won’t match the output from a pro camera in low light, but it’ll beat any smartphone as a result.

In daylight, the images are just sensational. We’ve never really been convinced that any smartphone could take the place of a digital SLR but, unless you have a compelling reason to lug a big camera bag around, this gets close enough not to bother. The same goes for video recording. Not only can the rear camera capture 4K video, it can also record Full HD at 240 frames per second.

The front camera is a healthy 5MP. It’s not quite as good as the rear camera, they never are, but it’s good enough. There’s no 4K video, but Quad HD 2560 x 1440 px is readily available. There’s a “white screen” selfie flash that is a bit of a shock the first time you use it, it’s so bright.

For other manufacturers reading this, that’s how you get a 5/5.

Hardware

Samsung S7 Active side buttons

The rest of the hardware in the Galaxy S7 Active is actually pretty standard for a smartphone at this level. Dual band 802.11ac WiFi, Bluetooth 4.2, A-GPS, NFC and an FM Radio make up the package.

There’s 4G, of course, and you have both fast and wireless charging available. Not that you’ll need it quite so often. With normal use, we got 2 full days out of a single charge from the 4000 mAh battery.

You get a 32GB of internal storage, with a MicroSD card slot that will take another 200GB.

Software

Samsung S7 Active on a wooden picnic table

Samsung have refined their software inclusions over the years. You Still get a lot of stuff, and you might not need all of it, but more and more is useful. There are lots of health-related apps, and the camera app has everything from beginner to expert catered for.

The TouchWiz interface on top of Android is also better every year. It’s smooth and quick, with no discernible lag at all.

The S7 Active ships with Android 6 Marshmallow, but is fully up-gradable to Android 8 Oreo. This is great news and shows that there’s plenty of life in the S7 models.

Conclusion

 

The Samsung Galaxy S7 Active is, easily, one of the best smartphones available. Samsung may have added further component upgrades and the odd tweak with the S8 and S9, but the S7  is still capable of going up against either and standing its ground. Try saying that with an iPhone 6 against the iPhone X.

We can’t recommend the Galaxy S7 Active enough. If you don’t need the extra durability, then we apply the same recommendation to the standard Galaxy S7.

The post Samsung Galaxy S7 Active Review appeared first on Mr Aberthon.

]]>
https://mraberthon.com/samsung-galaxy-s7-active-review/feed/ 0
Samsung Galaxy S6 Review https://mraberthon.com/samsung-galaxy-s6-review/ https://mraberthon.com/samsung-galaxy-s6-review/#respond Sun, 07 Oct 2018 18:31:29 +0000 https://mraberthon.com/?p=13738 Thinking of Samsung Galaxy devices usually insinuate really high costs. Yet this amazing Samsung Galaxy S6 is now in a very reasonable price range, making it a great buy. That is true even with the few little quirks it may have, as is seen with every other device as well.

The post Samsung Galaxy S6 Review appeared first on Mr Aberthon.

]]>
Any smartphone which professes to be a flagship model needs to be good. When it comes from the undisputed kings of smartphone makers, it needs to be really good.

The Galaxy S range, from Samsung is, as a rule, consistently among the best selling smartphones every time there is a new release. Samsung use it to show new technology and new ideas, and they spend a small fortune advertising the fact. But that doesn’t mean it’s actually as good as it should be.

To see, we ran it past our own team of experts here at Mr Aberthon. They came up with a class leading score of 4.3/5.

Galaxy S6 Scores

Samsung Galaxy S6 being shown in upright position

Using a custom set of scoring criteria, our experts came up with the following scores:

  • Price (4.5/5)
  • Phone design (4/5)
  • Hardware and Camera (4.5/5)
  • Internal Software(4/5)
  • Overall Performance (4.5/5)

The general feeling was that the Galaxy S6 is an outstanding smartphone worthy of its flagship status. It isn’t without flaws, but they number fewer than most other smartphones at this level.

The Samsung Galaxy S6 will suit just about anybody who is looking for the maximum performance return from a smartphone. The price probably puts it out of reach of casual phone users, but heavy users will easily get their money’s worth from the Galaxy S6. It looks good, performs very well, and is backed by the biggest smartphone maker on the planet. That means custom apps and accessories, all at your fingertips.

Pricing of the Galaxy S6

Two samsung galaxy devices being compared

The Galaxy S6, despite now being a couple of years old, is still a very capable smartphone. At the time of release, it was a significant chunk of cash for anyone to spend, costing $850. Although this sounds reasonable today, against the $1000 flagships we now see, it was a lot for the time. Samsung actually recognized this, and soon dropped the price by $100.

Of course, as time has passed, the price has dropped further. At Mr Aberthon, you can buy a brand new, unlocked, Galaxy S6 for just $299. This is an excellent price for what is still an excellent smartphone which is still selling at the $400 mark.

Generally, any Samsung Galaxy S model holds its price pretty well, so to see the S6 available at barely 1/3 the original retail price is good news.

Galaxy S6 Competitors

Samsung Galaxy S6 Taking an image of a brick wall

The immediate competition for any Galaxy S release will be the iPhone. As such, the main competition came from the iPhone 6. The Galaxy S6 pretty much beat the iPhone 6 hands down on almost every aspect. Whilst Apple had been standing still for too long, Samsung had forged ahead. The display was better than the iPhone, the cameras were tons better, and the overall performance was just superior in every way. It is telling that Apple didn’t release a major upgrade iPhone for two years. Only the iPhone 6S made an appearance in the two years from the iPhone 6 to iPhone 7. As good as the iPhone 6S was, it wasn’t enough of a leap from the standard 6 to keep up with Samsung.

Other manufacturers also had to rush to keep up. Both Sony and LG, often prime innovators made a bit of a mess of the next 2 years playing catch up with Samsung. Both have finally returned to form in 2018 with excellent flagship models in the Xperia XZ2 and G7 ThinQ, respectively. It’s also noticeable that both Sony and LG have pushed the design envelope considerably, in an effort to be different.

In case you hadn’t seen, Nokia are back in the race too. We don’t see much of Nokia in the US, but they are still a well loved brand across Europe, Africa and the middle east. Sales in those regions allow the company to fund promotion in the US, so expect a real push in the next year or two. Huawei and Xiaomi are also making a massive dent in Samsung sales. The Chinese manufacturers have made huge strides in market share in the last 3 years. All those brands have smartphones which can now compete with the Galaxy S6.

Galaxy S6 Design

Samsung Galaxy S6 Camera being displayed while lying on a backpack

The Galaxy S4 and S5 were something of a design nightmare for Samsung, For reasons known only to them, they went with an all plastic body. For many, this meant that the feel of those models was far from flagship standard. Thankfully, the S6 has a glass front and back, with a metal rim to take the edge of any potential damage risk. It looks great, and feels great in the hand, too.

All the buttons have been repositioned slightly, to make them more intuitive, and the home button now feels really solid. A stark contrast to the home button of the S5, which felt like it would break every time you pressed it.

The headphone jack is on the bottom edge, which always seems a little odd to us. Most users will also tell you that they prefer it on the top of the phone.

Unfortunately, in their obsession with thin phone design, Samsung have made a critical design error on the Galaxy S6. The ultra-thin profile means that the camera unit protrudes out from the back of the case in a prominent bump. This means it never lies flat, and you have to wonder what damage is done to the camera every time you lay it down.

Overall, the design is good, and the Galaxy S6 does look great, but it’s far from perfect.

Hardware Highlights and Specs

Samsung Galaxy S6 being logged on using a fingerprint scanner on home button

For years, manufacturers have been in a fierce battle to equip their phones with the best cameras available in a smartphone. Samsung haven’t always won that fight, but the Galaxy S6 cameras at least show that Samsung can do it when it needs to. The 16MP rear camera is outstanding, and is a match for anything available elsewhere. 4K recording and slow-motion are included and work perfectly. The front 5MP is a little less impressive. That’s not to say it’s a poor camera, it isn’t. It just gets exposed a little by the quality of the rear camera. It does, though, allow dual-camera video calling and recording.

Samsung’s Super AMOLED displays take some beating, and the Galaxy S6 is up there with the best. With a 2K pixel count (which is 4x HD), and colors which just leap off the screen, it’s a pleasure to watch movies on.

A welcome addition to the Galaxy S6 arsenal is a decent fingerprint scanner. Just when you though Samsung were never going to match Apple’s scanner, they actually go and better it. It is easy to set up and, in our experts experience, flawless in operation. Hone is the “swipe” method of the S5, to be replaced with a single touch sensor. Finally, Apple don’t have bragging rights on fingerprints.

Size

5.65 x 2.78 x 0.27 in

Weight

4.78 oz

Storage

32GB

Micro SD Card Slot

No
Display Size

5.1”

Display Resolution

1440 x 2560 px
Cameras

16MP/5MP

Fingerprint Sensor

Yes
Fast Charging

Yes

Battery

2550mAh (17hrs Talk Time)

Conclusion

Samsung Galaxy S6 lying on a table near a plant, a watch and a camera lens

Smartphones, generally, don’t age particularly well. technology moves so fast that many feel dated even before they launch. It’s testament to the quality of the Galaxy S6 that it is still a competitor against even the newest smartphones. If you don’t want to pay $800+ for a new phone, get the Galaxy S6 for $299, and you won’t even feel like you’re missing out.

There are quirks and annoyances, like the protruding rear camera, lack of Micro SD card slot and slightly disappointing battery life, but the Galaxy S6 is one of our highest rated smartphones. You might find better, and you might find cheaper, but you won’t find better at this price.

The post Samsung Galaxy S6 Review appeared first on Mr Aberthon.

]]>
https://mraberthon.com/samsung-galaxy-s6-review/feed/ 0
The Lifespan of a Smartphone https://mraberthon.com/the-lifespan-of-a-smartphone/ https://mraberthon.com/the-lifespan-of-a-smartphone/#respond Wed, 18 Jul 2018 16:00:08 +0000 https://mraberthon.com/?p=12717 Does your smartphone last as long as you wished it did? Here we share some valuable advice on this very topic; the lifespan of a smartphone. Using these guidelines, you should be able to guess how long the device will last you, even before you buy it.

The post The Lifespan of a Smartphone appeared first on Mr Aberthon.

]]>
Smartphones are part of the fashion industry nowadays. Designs come thick and fast and manufacturers try to make them ever more appealing. The problems come later down the line, when your smartphone no longer fits the bill for being current.

Smartphones actually have a reasonable shelf life from a hardware point of view. The issue is when manufacturers stop pushing software updates out to models just a couple of years old. Apple got caught with their fingers in the register when it emerged that they were deliberately slowing older models down. They say it was to preserve battery life, everyone else says it was to force customers to upgrade.

But, as long as manufacturers are reasonably consistent with how they implement the update policy, it is at least a level playing field. Then, it comes down to the hardware. Is it good enough to keep up with app demands? Or good enough to prevent frustration with seemingly increasingly slow responsiveness? All valid question, but are there any valid answers?

Smartphone Software

Although we all use apps every day, the core of any phone is the operating system. Currently, we are at iOS 11.3 and Android 8.1. Actually, Apple will tell you we’re simply at iOS 11, because they consider sub-versions to be minor fixes. Google do it a little differently, and issue security and minor updates separately and on a monthly basis with the month being the name of the update. In Android, 8.1 was quite a major update over 8.0, so you will always see the sub-version of the latest release.

Android Operating Systems

Generally speaking Apple will push new major versions of iOS to the current and 2 previous iPhone models. Effectively, this means that any phone older than 3 years will no longer get major updates. Security updates will still be available for iPhones running older versions, but that’s it. With Android, each manufacturer is free to establish their own update path. Most follow the same path of 2/3 generations before they stop issuing major updates. The monthly minor and security updates remain available for much longer.

Manufacturers of Android smartphones also often add their own skin on top of the base Google Android version, sometimes including their own suite of apps. This can mean delays in getting the update out to users.

Once you stop getting major updates, it doesn’t mean that your phone will stop working. It just means that any new features introduced in new versions of the OS will not be available. To most people, this isn’t really an issue. The vast majority of smartphone owners probably couldn’t even tell you what version they have of their respective OS. It is only the nerds amongst us who really want the latest and greatest. Everybody else is usually happy with what they have until something breaks.

Apps

App versions isn’t such a big deal in most cases. Some developers, though, will always insist on using every byte of memory and every cycle of the processor for their apps. This is in spite of knowing that they may be ruling out users of older models from running the new version. Thankfully, more and more app developers are starting to see that this approach doesn’t really serve anybody’s best interest. It is becoming more and more unusual for apps to stop working on older phones, especially the big social media giant’s apps like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

One area where it may be an issue is with gaming. If a new game is particularly processor-heavy, it may just be a fact that older phones just might not have the necessary power to run them. It’s the same with hi-res video. More and more smartphones are recording 4K video today. Even though few have a 4K display, they still need to be able to keep up with the higher resolution of the original video. Again, this might be a problem for older smartphones.

Smartphone laying down with soical media icons above it

Smartphone Hardware

As we’ve touched on above, the hardware limits of older phones might put some pressure on what they can handle from a graphical standpoint. Processors advance more rapidly than just about any other component of a smartphone. Not so long ago we were all running single-core CPUs. Now, quad-core and higher is the norm,. This means 4 times the amount of data can be processed at once, than is possible with a single core. It doesn’t take a math genius to work out what a difference that can make.

Cameras, although getting better overall, haven’t been quite such a big advancement. Flagship phones now have two lenses to improve control and quality, but many single lens cameras produce stunning images.

Displays are always a massive selling point for smartphone manufacturers. The more pixels, the harder the sell. In truth, although it does make a difference, the software of the OS will often be a huge influence on the quality of an on-screen image. Smartphone screens, with their relatively small size, make it difficult to distinguish quality levels unless the resolution is massively different.

How To Know The Lifespan of  a Smartphone?

If you take into account what we’ve said above, especially on the OS version and the number of cores in the processor, you will have an idea of how long your phone may last before starting to look creaky. Dual-core is still feasible – just. Quad-core is now very common and 8-core on flagship models. Generally, if you look at quad-core, there are some bargains to be had. If you can get a phone that is still within the update cycle for the OS, that’s great. But you will find massive price reductions when any phone reaches its perceived “end of life”. Because prices get so low, it makes it easier to choose a device and then upgrade in a couple of years.

Average Lifespan of mobile devices on a graph

We guarantee that nobody will know you have an older device unless you tell them.

Check reviews. Often, the best review sites will go back and update their own reviews. This tends to happen if there have been big downwards shifts in the pricing. What might have got 3 stars before may well now get 4 or 5 stars at the lower price.

Look for owner forums online. Have a look at the rate of the posting of new threads on the subject. If a forum for a particular device used to be very busy but now has no activity, it might be an indication that the phone hasn’t aged well. Alternatively, flick through some of the reviews on Amazon from “Verified Buyers”. These are often the only way to be sure it’s not competitors or otherwise disgruntled users merely trolling.

Outliving The Warranty

A 12 month Warranty isn’t really an indicator of how long a smartphone should last. The warranty lasts that long because people expect it. Look for reports of major bugs or critical issues, and whether they ever got fixed. If the fix isn’t made within a few weeks, it probably never will be. If the manufacturer doesn’t care about that, chances are the phone isn’t too well loved by anybody.

But there’s no reason why, with a little care, a smartphone should last for just as long as you need it to.

The post The Lifespan of a Smartphone appeared first on Mr Aberthon.

]]>
https://mraberthon.com/the-lifespan-of-a-smartphone/feed/ 0