Smartphones have been getting closer to this Star Trek-like form factor for years. Just as the original Samsung Galaxy Nexus appalled us all with a giant 4.7” screen in 2011, a vision of the future from Google, the Xiaomi Mi Mix here with a screen that almost touches the edges on three sides, with a 6.4” display in a form factor smaller than any previous sub-6” phablets, is a clear indication of where things are going. And we know where they’ll end up – we saw it on TV, on Star Trek Next Generation 20 years ago…
Author Archives: Steve Litchfield
Bitcoin is a phenomenon of the digital age, a currency without borders or regulation, a form of money that is totally anonymous – and, as a result, it has been taking off slowly but surely over the last five years, especially among geeks and tech-enthusiasts. If you have an Android smartphone then there are applications, widgets and utilities which can help you manage your bitcoin stash, send funds and keep a close eye on what the market is doing. Here’s my Top 5.
Six months on from our last Top 10, here’s the Christmas 2016 list, with mainly new content – as you’d expect in a busy smartphone world. And, in terms of variety and value, we’ve never had it so good in the Android world, even if all but one of the top of the line phones are still as eye-wateringly expensive as ever…
Time to answer a few questions. Yes, this is Google’s headline Android phone for the year. Yes, it goes under the Pixel brand rather than Nexus. Yes, Google’s marketing department has gone into overdrive trying to create a genuine consumer phone that can more obviously match the Apple iPhone 7 Plus. And yes, as a result it’s arguably at least £200 too expensive here in the UK. And similarly across the world. But is the super speedy and phenomenally well put together Google Pixel XL worth the branding premium?
Security scares are everywhere in 2016, both on the desktop and on mobile. But how worried should you be as an Android user? In short, not very – but that doesn’t mean you should relax completely, I still have some hard hitting advice to impart and some settings that I’d strongly advise are in place. Read on and (hopefully) be reassured….
The cracks are starting to show in the smartphone world, I believe. Under incredible pressure from Chinese manufacturers like Huawei/Honor, Meizu and Xiaomi, the old guard are having to change tack and try something different just to survive. So we had LG and its ill-fated detachable bottom module, and now Sony has abandoned its ‘three sizes’ strategy in favour of the same size but having three levels of specification, with the Xperia X the first to be available. Hmm…. While I applaud the choice of specs, I do think this ‘one (physical) size fits all’ strategy is potentially more confusing in the long run.
With thousands (literally, if you include storage, finish and market variants) of smartphones running Android right now, picking a top 10 was never going to be easy. But we sorted through and went ahead anyway. By the way, absent from the top 10 are any of the multitude of Chinese designs (including Xiaomi) flooding the East and sub-continent – most simply never appear in Europe and the West in any quantity – and I don’t apologise for only picking smartphones here that I can personally vouch for in one way or another.
If there’s one company you can count on to shake things up with something different for each year’s flagship then it’s probably LG. They like taking risks – and that’s fine – but after evaluating the latest, the G5, it does seem as if they went a bit too far this time. Unpleasant edges, a wacky replaceable bottom concept, a dual camera that doesn’t really add much. Read on for the details in our LG G5 review, but it just doesn’t feel like a top-end flagship. And that’s a crying shame, given the absolute top end specifications and ambitions.
For the true geek, especially one who values the planet we all exist on, the Fairphone 2 is perhaps the ultimate smartphone. That it’s demonstrably not the best ‘bang per buck’ or indeed the prettiest phone out there, is almost irrelevant in light of the game changing Unique Selling Point here – you can take the Fairphone apart. Officially.