Sunday, August 26, 2012

Is Nokia next on Apple's hit list?

A second generation Apple iPod nano with a Nokia Lumia 800

I always wondered when Apple would let their lawyers loose on Nokia for their Lumia 800/900 and upcoming WP8 device.  But with Nokia's really low uncompetitive sales, I have a feeling Apple won't bother with Nokia yet.

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Samsung Galaxy S II UK International 4.0.4 ICS Released and Impressions

In a process much faster than this year's 4.0.3 update, UK international (XEU) phones get Ice Cream Sandwich (ICS) 4.0.4 just a few weeks after the initial roll out.

If you're running Samsung stock 4.0.3 ICS then 4.0.4 is a must get

The About Screen showing 4.0.4The Samsung 4.0.4 firmware introduces even larger font in the UI and the icons are back in the menu
Changes Noticed:
  • Larger font throughout user interface
  • Screen capture changed back to pre-ICS which is hold center key and Power button at the same time
  • Much improved user interface response and transitions
  • Some UI menus are stock ICS (greyish with aqua blue) like the WiFi selection
  • Faster key recognition at the lock screen
  • Browser no longer shows URL bar when you scroll (I turn on Labs > Quick Controls to compensate)
  • Scrolling in the native browser changed back to prefering scrolling left, right, down, up instead of scrolling based on your exact finger swipe motion
  • Font changes: Adds Rosemary font
  • Adds Display battery percentage option in Display menu to display both the standard green battery icon and the percentage at the top
  • Fixes the auto-sync Exchange e-mail when connected to WiFi
  • Calculator now vibrates the phone at each key press
  • A "More" link has been added to the bottom right of Calendar descriptions can be expanded to see the whole description
In comparison to the battery life of 4.0.3, this firmware gives me slightly better results:

  • On average usage I get 25 minutes of battery life for every 1% of battery loss.
  • Leaving the phone on with display off, all data off, RAM memory cleared, and no background apps running, I get a little over 1.5 hours for every 1% of battery loss.
  • With heavy GPS usage and occasional WiFi usage, I get about 7 minutes for every 1% of battery loss
  • Recharging from empty takes a little over 3 hours

With ICS 4.0.4, the Samsung Galaxy S II can get over 100 hours of battery life with light usage.

If you're on 4.0.3 right now then you should definitely upgrade to 4.0.4.  The improved user interface performance is well worth the upgrade.  The only drawback is the increased font size which increases menu scrolling.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Why a Google tablet like Nexus 7 won't gain traction

Google debuts its latest and greatest smartphone OS, Android Jelly Bean, with the Nexus 7

Designed to compete against market leader, Apple iPad, the new Google tablet will get more competition from large sized phones called phablets and make only a slight dent to the iPad marketshare.

No real competition for the iPad:
  • Even though Android market penetration has been phenomenal, there are still more quality apps on the Apple AppStore due to numerous reasons (OS fragmentation, less paying users)
  • The iPad's 11 inch screen size makes content consumption much more satisfying than a small 7 inch
  • With very little marketshare in the tablet area, most app developers will continue to target the phone market so the Google tablets with just run upsized phone apps unlike the the thousand of iPad specific apps.
More competition from fellow Android devices:
  • Phablets such as the Samsung Galaxy Note at 5 inch creeps into tablet area while including 3G/4G connectivity and calling capabilities.  Phablets sold on contract can potentially undercut the price of tablets
  • Android phones like the Galaxy Nexus and phablets will eventually get Jelly Bean
  • With very little marketshare in the tablet area, most app developers will continue to target the phone market so the Google tablets won't be able to differentiate or gain from the added display real estate
Although Jelly Bean was hyped up with a new Nexus tablet, it's minor version update, 4.1 from Ice Cream Sandwich's 4.0, is really just a minor update which doesn't bring any significant functionality.  I was really hoping for the rumored docking feature.

Friday, June 08, 2012

Samsung Galaxy S II better in drops than Samsung Galaxy S 3

ElectronicsBreak on YouTube conducted drop tests between the Samsung Galaxy S 3 against the iPhone 4S. Unfortunately the SGS3 doesn't handle drops as well.

They also conducted drop tests between the Samsung Galaxy S II (SGS2) and iPhone 4S.  Here the SSG2 handles the drop tests much better.

I think it's safe to conclude that the SGS2 is a much better at taking falls than the SGS3. Another reason not to upgrade.

Watch the videos below:

Saturday, May 19, 2012

10 Reasons I won't be Buying the Samsung Galaxy S 3

Samsung's flagship phone had high expectations before its announcement.  It's still a top phone but I won't be buying it.

Sunday, May 06, 2012

Battery Drain on Samsung Galaxy S II Ice Cream Sandwich

If you've recently updated your Samsung Galaxy S II (SGS2) to the latest ICS firmware, you may have noticed worse battery life - at least I did.  But give it some time and it'll get better.  Just take a look below.

Monday, April 23, 2012

My Samsung Galaxy S II Ice Cream Sandwich Impressions

By now you've probably read numerous reviews on Samsung's Ice Cream Sandwich (ICS) firmware for the Samsung Galaxy S II or read over the manual.  So I won't cover the big changes here but look at the minor changes from version 2.3.4.

*UPDATE - ICS 4.0.4 fixes many of the issues listed below*

Source: Samsung Official Kies
Android version: 4.0.3
Build Number: IML72K.XWLP7

Here's the high level of what you get:
  • Faster web browser with added features
  • Slightly better graphics performance
  • Stereo sound video recording
  • SNS integration into phonebook
  • Better UI for switching apps and killing them
  • Face unlock
  • Built-in data usage monitor
  • Brighter Screen
  • Ability to run Google Chrome

Here's Samsung's Guide to ICS for the Galaxy S II:

Now for the subtle differences:
  • WiFi connection drains battery faster
  • Auto Display brightness is brighter in dark rooms
  • Laggy response - clicking on less frequently used apps on the homescreen takes a while to start
  • Laggy transitions - certain closing animations are slow but changing the "Transition animation scale" in the Developer options helps reduce the transition length
  • Less responsive touchscreen - the lock screen takes a split second before registering pin input
  • ICS Email app loses calendar invite "When" and "Where"
  • ICS calendar sync defaults "In case of sync conflict" to "Update to phone".  You should switch that to "Update to server", otherwise you may accidently send everyone "odd" meeting changes
  • More confirmation prompts - turning on silent mode from the power button prompts the user, turning on "Airplane mode" as well
  • Font changes - Default (roboto), Choco cooky, Helvetica S
  • Ability to add Weather to the lock screen
  • Adds the alarm and, if charging or low, the battery
  • Adds following games: Archipelago, Bubble Defense 2, Parachute Panic
  • Adds Google apps: Google +, Messenger, Play Books, Play Movies
  • Adds AllShare (Sharing content via WiFi)
  • More Developer Options like Force GPU rendering (doesn't help the UI too much), Window/Transition animation scale, etc.
  • Notifies the user when roaming and data roaming is disabled and WiFI network requires login
  • Adds WiFi Direct
  • Adds "Back up and reset"
  • As with 2.3.5, scrolling to the end of pages no longer have the "bounce" effort but use a blue highlight
  • Faster status notification animation
  • Copy and paste implementation has changed to standard Android
  • Screen capture changed to standard Android which is hold volume key down and Power button at the same time
  • Scrolling in the native browser is no longer prefers scrolling left, right, down, up but scrolls based on your exact finger swipe motion - makes scrolling straight down a zoomed in page more difficult unless you have steady hands
  • Infrequently, WiFi doesn't turn on when toggled on at notification bar.  The WiFi icon will show up at green but the bar will appear grey.  Occasionally hitting the power button to turn off the screen will cause the phone screen to turn off but it's not possible to turn the screen back on with the home key or power button.  Toggling airplane mode On then back to Off will re-enable WiFi but you'll need to do this every time until the next time the phone is restarted
  • Native mail client crashes when viewing attached HTML
  • Native mail client stops syncing with Exchange 2010 via 3G - it'll work for a while then suddenly stop

*UPDATE - ICS 4.0.4 fixes many of the issues listed above*

Right after I upgraded, I did run into the Exchange and Active Sync e-mail read flag issue where reading it on my computer didn't update my phone but switching the "In case of sync conflict" option to "Update to phone" in Accounts seemed to solve that issue.

Although the homescreen remains the same on the Samsung Galaxy S II with the TouchWiz layer, the settings and Google apps have all been updated.  Samsung had added a lot of custom elements to Gingerbread to improve Android usability and Google has now added it Ice Cream Sandwich so you won't lose much functionality but see a difference to how it's implement (i.e. taking screenshots with volume key and power key).  You'll also notice subtle differences such as better screen color rendering but also shorter battery life.  Samsung Galaxy S II gets about 20% less battery life than Gingerbread.

In the first day I had Ice Cream Sandwich, I wish I had an option to downgrade back to Gingerbread but after a few days of use, I'm liking Ice Cream Sandwich for the faster browser and the screen does look a little better.  Is it worth upgrading?  You won't notice that much differences from Gingerbread but if you're on the fench it's worth a try if you can live with the few bugs.  If you haven't thought about upgrading, I don't recommend bothering.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Generic UK Samsung Galaxy S II 4.0.3 ICS Released

If you've somehow resisted the urge to flash your generic UK Samsung Galaxy S II (GT-I9100) with one of the numerous Ice Cream Sandwich (ICS) ROMs waiting for the official ICS release then your wait is over!

Connect your SGS2 to Samsung Kies and you'll see the ICS available:

Here are the firmware details:

Last modified: 2012-04-09
Latest firmware: I9100XWLP7/I9100XEULP5/I9100XXLPS/I9100XWLP7
File name:
Version: Android 4.0.3

So go get it!  Stay tuned for my impressions.

Source: Samsung Kies,

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Three First Impressions of Windows Phone 7

If Microsoft is to have a fighting chance with Windows Phone 7 then it better make a good first impression.

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Three reasons Windows Phone 8 Metro/Modern UI is bad

1. Poor use of display real estate poorly
  • Menu title split across multiple screens isn't professional
  • A big black bar on the home page's right side for just an arrow
  • Tiles on the home screen are too big (lots of scrolling) and boring (like a static IE logo): Unlike what Microsoft tells you, bringing information to the home screen isn't unique, Symbian and Android have it via widgets
  • Too much scrolling for the same thing: Text is way too large by default. Contacts that normally take a page on iOS or Android needs scrolling through 1.5 screens or more in Metro UI
2. Too much scrolling needed
  • Page names are listed at the top but spread across the multiple screens so I can't see what pages are available to me without having to scroll through each one
  • Unconsistent UI transition: When you click an option, the current UI will flip out to the left but clicking the back button doesn't cause the last page to flip back from the left to replace the current screen but shows the current screen flip back and the last page just blink in. 
3. Easy to quickly lose menu context
  • Overuse of flashy transitions that aren't intuitive to the user what's happening and deep scrolling
  • Small non-descript icons: In a few places in the UI, small + or arrows icons are presented but it's difficult to tell what each would do without clicking on each one