Archives for

Review

Sony Xperia Z1 Compact vs Moto G vs Galaxy S4 Mini vs HTC One Mini – Specs and Benchmark Comparison

Finding a niche for Sony’s fresh new Xperia Z1 Compact, formerly known on the down low as the Z1 Mini and wrongfully assumed to be one and the same as the Z1s, is no easy task.

Sony-Xperia-Z1-Compact

On the one hand, though Sony’s marketing department was much craftier than Samsung’s or HTC’s by evading the meager-sounding “mini” moniker, the Compact is for all intents and purposes a diminutive version of the 5-inch Z1. Hence, the 4.3-incher belongs with the GS4 mini and One mini in the mid-sized, mid-range section of the smartphone totem pole, right?

Not so fast. Because while it’s small (by 2014 standards), the Z1 Compact packs quite the punch. In fact, if early benchmarks are to be trusted, it’s about as zippy as the Z1. Besides, it’s much too pricey to start a battle against fellow Mini contenders on even ground.

Moto-G-Galaxy-S4-mini

So where does that leave prospective Z1 Compact buyers who’d like to make the most informed choice possible? Ultimately, I’d assume size and portability will play the key part in your decision, so fair or unfair, here’s how the Compact stacks up against the Samsung Galaxy S4 mini, HTC One mini and… Motorola Moto G. You didn’t really think we’d forget about the best budget option, did you?

Z1 Compact vs. Moto G vs. S4 mini vs. One mini – design comparison

A tough nut right off the bat. All four have their aesthetical flaws and strong points, though in the end eclipsing HTC’s iconic aluminum unibody layout proves too much for the three other featherweights. The One mini is just too darn elegant and robust to suffer defeat, albeit its extreme tallness (132 mm at a 4.3-inch diagonal) certainly makes the victory bittersweet.

HTC-One-Mini

Meanwhile, the bulky figure (11.6 mm profile and 143 grams weight) costs the Moto G dearly, the thick bezels don’t do the Z1 Compact any favors, and the S4 mini is, well, overall lackluster, with no wow elements and a “healthy” plasticky vibe.

Display face-off

The four-way battle is quickly narrowed down to a three-way duel, as the S4 mini is the sole competitor to boast sub-720p resolution: 960 x 540 pixels.

Xperia Z1 Compact

But it’s downright impossible to pick a victor from the HD triad, as the Z1 Compact and One mini basically tout identical screens (4.3-inch with 1,280 x 720 pixels), while the Moto G keeps the res intact, going a little higher on the real estate (4.5 inches) and thus slightly lowering the ppi bar (326 vs. 342). Decisions, decisions…

Processing speed, RAM and camera smackdown

It’s a no contest. Actually, “no contest” doesn’t even begin to describe it. The Z1 Compact is so far ahead of its rivals here that I don’t know why I’m still bothering to go ahead with this masquerade of a comparison. Oh, right, there’s a huge pricing gap that eventually balances things out.

Sony Xperia Z1 Compact

Back to the bout on hand, let’s let numbers do all the talking: quad-core 2.2 GHz Snapdragon 800 SoC, 2 GB RAM, 20.7 MP rear-facing camera, 2 MP front snapper. Mmkay?

Software and battery life

In theory, packing such a beast of a CPU like the S800 should take quite a toll on autonomy. Only Sony thought of everything and equipped its 4.3-inch flagship with a monster of a battery, tipping the scales at 2,300 mAh.  

That’s 230 mAh more than Moto G’s ticker, and 400 mAh and 500 mAh leads respectively on S4 mini and One mini’s cells. On paper therefore, Sony has the upper hand, thanks to a hypothetical 18-hour continuous battery life in 3G talk time. Moto G’s numbers are pretty much in the same ballpark, with the One mini and S4 mini coming in behind, at roughly 13 and 12 hours.

kitkat-versus-jelly-bean

As for software, despite Sony’s big little guy breaking cover the most recently, it’s actually the G that wins, thanks to an unusual and almost unbelievably swift Android 4.4 KitKat upgrade. The next best thing, 4.3 Jelly Bean, is found on both the Z1 Compact and S4 mini, whereas the One mini is dead last, with on-board 4.2.

Benchmarks

No commentary is really needed here, as the cold numbers do a splendid job in painting a complete and unequivocal picture:

Sony Xperia Z1 Compact – 20,500 points in Quadrant, 33,000+ in AnTuTu, 54 fps in GFXBench Egypt HD 2.5 Onscreen, 1,200 Vellamo Metal, 740 Sunspider

Moto G – 8,000 in Quadrant, 16,000 AnTuTu, 27 fps GFXBench, 540 Vellamo Metal, 1,400 Sunspider

Benchmarks

Samsung Galaxy S4 mini – 7,000 in Quadrant, 14,500 AnTuTu, 33 fps GFXBench, 600 Vellamo Metal, 1,200 Sunspider

HTC One mini – 6,000 in Quadrant, 11,000 AnTuTu, 24 fps GFXBench, 600 Vellamo Metal, 1,200 Sunspider

Note: All tests work on a higher is better principle, save for Sunspider, where the lower scores signal faster devices.

Via [Phone Arena], [Fone Arena], [Expert Reviews], [GSM Arena], [Hardware Info], [Pocket Now]

Pricing, connectivity and others

We can’t stress enough there’s a big, big price difference between the Z1 Compact and One mini and S4 mini, and another one between the three and the Moto G. Don’t ignore it, take it in, think things through carefully and meticulously and then and only then make your final decision.

Starting from bottom to top, the G goes for $180 off-contract (with 8 GB built-in storage and no microSD card slot, mind you), the GS4 mini is $350 give or take, the One mini $430, and the Z1 Compact, which is technically not up for grabs yet, should cost around $500.

Moto-G-price

Something else to consider? Maybe that the G doesn’t support 4G LTE connectivity. Or that the Z1 Compact is water and dust-protected. You get NFC only on Sony and Samsung’s contenders, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0 across the board, and storage expansion again on just the S4 mini and Z1 Compact.

Hoping I haven’t made your call even more complicated, I bid you farewell for the day and pass the mic to anyone pondering the purchase of one of these beauties. The comments section is open, don’t be shy. 

HTC One vs HTC One Max Specs Comparison: More Than Meets The Eye

The recipe seemed simple. The exact same ingredients, just in a bigger package. Not even much more evolved, just bigger, as rumor had it the One max was not going to take One’s hardware a step further, but instead keep things equally as “modest”, with Snapdragon 600 power and 2 gigs of RAM.

HTC-OneHTC-One-Max

And sadly, that particular rumor proved spot-on. Only you can’t simply call the One max a bigger One and go about your business. That’s not the full story.

Sure, the spanking new 5.9-incher has an almost overwhelming number of flaws and the timing of its formal intro looks like a catastrophic failure, what with the Nexus 5 likely landing in 24 hours and Samsung’s Galaxy Note 3 taking off as we speak.

But at the same time, the One max does take plenty of One features up a notch, having an array of strong suits that ultimately manages to crush its weaknesses and paint the picture of a truly evolved device, one that is both bigger and better. And here’s exactly why:

HTC One vs HTC One max – design and build quality comparison

(Almost) everybody likes aluminum. Most folks love it. So much that Samsung, which stubbornly and aggressively defended plastic for the past couple of years, is reportedly planning a design overhaul for both the Galaxy S and Note families.

HTC One max

But one thing everybody hated about the otherwise elegant and sturdy metal was that it restricted end users from doing the two things that conserved their freedom: swap the battery and expand the storage on their phones by prying the back cover.

That was due to the already legendary aluminum “unibody” and you could either make do with the constraints or move to plastic. Option C didn’t exist, until the One max became official. And while the fellow is just as premium-looking as its little brother, it replaces the unibody construction with a two metal-piece build.

htc-one-max-promo

Again, that’s exactly as reliable and kewl, plus it offers easy access to what’s behind the back cover. Unfortunately, you still can’t pull the battery away and switch it… unless you’re an expert with screwdrivers. And willing to void the warranty. As far as storage goes, there’s no limit to how high you can go. Well, there is, 32 gigs plus another 32, but you get the idea.

Meanwhile, it’s important to note the bezels also look thinner on the One max than the One, but alas, the 5.9-incher tips the scales at a bonkers (and not in a good way) 217 grams. Ouch! In fact, chunky is the word of the day when you add the 10.3 mm thick profile in the equation too, the two numbers being 74 grams and 1 mm over the little fellow’s measurements.

Display face-off

Nothing revolutionary or groundbreaking in any way here, simply an upping of the ante in the size department (5.9 vs. 4.7 inches) and the same 1,920 x 1,080 pixels resolution (aka Full HD). Of course, the pixel density goes significantly down, from 469 to 373 ppi, but don’t you think for a second One max’s panel will be in any way less crisp, colorful and vibrant.

htc-one-max-display

Processing speed and cameras

Even the biggest, most fanatic and biased HTC aficionado has to admit to being a little disappointed about seeing the same old, dusty S600 CPU powering the One max, but let’s look at it from a different angle. How would you describe last spring’s One from a hardware standpoint? Is it a powerhouse? I think it is.

HTC One max-3

And the same exact quad-core 1.7 GHz processor, along with an identical Adreno 320 GPU and 2 GB of RAM, are found inside the One max. Besides, there’s a good shot HTC skipped on Snapdragon 800 to keep the price low. And isn’t that a noble goal, worth a few sacrifices? I think it is.

Meanwhile, the cameras are identical on the One and One max too (4 UltraPixel on the back and 2.1 MP on the front), which is also a little underwhelming, but looking at the big picture still satisfying even for hardcore photo buffs.

Software and battery life

I know, it would have been downright dreamy to see the One max running Android 4.4 KitKat out the box, but since the new OS is yet to be detailed and rolled out to Nexus devices, it was also Utopian.

HTC Blinkfeed

On the bright side, you do get the next best thing: Android 4.3 Jelly Bean, plus HTC’s latest and greatest Sense 5.5 UI and plenty of exciting little treats, such as BlinkFeed, Zoe, Sense Voice, etc.

As far as battery goes, HTC really went all-in, which is one of the reasons the Taiwanese couldn’t keep the weight very low. One max’s ticker is quite massive, at 3,300 mAh, so an autonomy of roughly 24 hours in continuous talk time is definitely in the cards.

Others

The people spoke, HTC listened – there’s a fingerprint scanner on One max’s back, reported to work almost exactly as smoothly as the one fitted on the iPhone 5s. A little gimmicky? I for one think so, but if you don’t like it, you don’t have to use it.

HTC One max-fingerprint

Other perks included in the One max package are a pair of mind-blowing front-facing BoomSound Speakers, all the connectivity options you could ever need (Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0, NFC and even 4G LTE on Verizon), as well as oodles of sensors. Bottom line, every single trick the One has up its sleeve, plus a much cooler speaker system and fingerprint recognition technology.

Which brings me to the conclusion of this comparison. If you like your phones big, go for it. Don’t even think about it, as it’s so clearly better than the One. It’s a Max, for crying out loud.  

Samsung Galaxy Note 3 Review Roundup: Trendsetter or Trend Follower? Or Maybe Both…

Amidst accusations of benchmark cheating, which among others would likely overturn the pecking order in our epic comparisons and smackdowns, region-locking scandals and intensifying rumors of a Galaxy Note 3 “Active” variant with curved display being in the works, you might have actually missed the biggest event of the fall as far as the Android landscape is concerned.

galaxy-note-3

It’s here at last

That’s right, the GNote 3 went up for sale… in a number of markets, with all the rest set to follow suit over the next couple of weeks or so. Stateside, the spectacular 5.7-inch phablet can be scored at the time of this writing via T-Mobile and AT&T (both on and off-contracts), while Sprint and Verizon continue to sit on the sidelines (not for long though).

With the rolling out of the first commercial units to everyday users, the reviews have started popping up all over the interwebs, including those of the tech-focused online publications we all read, love and/or respect.

galaxy-note-3-2

So after months and months of waiting, speculating and waiting some more, it’s finally time to see whether Samsung has yet another hit on its hands or the first flop in… a while. Is the Note 3 in reality as spectacular as it looks on paper? Is it worth upgrading from the Note 2? How about from the Galaxy S4? And last but not least, how does it handle the increasing Sony and LG competition? Well, let’s see, shall we?

Quick side note: As the Exynos flavor of the Note 3 is bound to be once again limited to a small number of markets, we’ve only taken into consideration reviews of the Qualcomm model, packing a quad-core Snapdragon 800 CPU.

Engadget

The good:

  • Samsung’s designing team has worked its “voodoo magic” splendidly once again, managing to fit the 5.7-inch Note 3 into a more compact body than the 5.5-inch Note 2;
  • The display looks great, with bright and vibrant colors, brightness and contracts that make images “pop” and wide viewing angles;
  • There’s a bevy of Samsung-specific apps that add to the overall productivity of the device, squeezing every drop of S Pen functionality and making the user feel special;
  • The overall performance “has to be applauded”, even if you ignore the cold, raw numbers of benchmark tests (wink, wink).

galaxy-note-3-4

The bad:

  • An overly saturated screen at times;
  • Some of the software perks don’t add real value or simply don’t work as advertised, making the system a little bloated;
  • Disappointing speaker quality;
  • Slightly overpriced.

galaxy-note-3-5

Bottom line: This is Samsung’s best Note yet and “if you’re thinking about making the step up, we say get it while it’s hot”.

The Verge

Pros:

  • Raw power isn’t everything, but there’s plenty of raw power here;
  • In spite of the vibrant display and always power-demanding CPU and GPU, the battery can likely last for 48 hours or more for most day-to-day users;
  • Though still plasticky, it has a much more premium and comfortable overall look and feel;
  • Improved S Pen productivity and oodles of software optimizations, tweaks and perks.

galaxy-note-3-6

Cons:

  • It may be compact, but it continues to be uncomfortably large for some, especially due to a “squarer, less ergonomic shape”;
  • The TouchWiz UI is bloated, gimmicky and often downright annoying;
  • The bright and colorful screen is inferior to those on the LG G2 or HTC One.

galaxy-note-3-3

Verdict: Samsung’s opponents in the phablet arena are still forced to play catch up to the Galaxy Note, even if the spanking new 5.7-incher doesn’t “reinvent the wheel”.

CNet

Solid points:

  • Ultra-compact body and much more elegant and sophisticated overall look compared to predecessors;
  • Gorgeous screen that really makes use of both the extra real estate and Full HD resolution;
  • Wickedly fast and extremely capable 13 MP rear-facing camera;
  • Excellent call quality, with no distortions whatsoever;
  • 15-hour battery in continuous HD video playing.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Weak points:

  • Too expensive, going for $300 with most two-year American contracts;
  • It still feels cheap, as the back cover remains plasticky and fragile, despite not looking the part anymore;
  • It’s compact… for a phablet, but otherwise it’s huge and hard to handle.

galaxy-note-3-8

Conclusion: Third time’s the charm for Samsung’s Galaxy Note family, which finally reaches maturity, although it can’t yet break into the mainstream as, say, the Galaxy S line.

Phone Arena

The good:

  • More advanced and deeper S Pen integration, with improved accessibility and productivity;
  • Marvelous display, especially when pitted against GNote 2’s screen;
  • It’s not for everyone, but TouchWiz has plenty of neat tricks up its sleeve;
  • Explosive battery, capable of running for a full 24 hours in heavy usage and close to two days in “normal usage”.

galaxy-note-3-9

The bad:

  • Despite not being technically overpriced in that it’s worth every penny you cough up for it, its on-contract $300 price tag is borderline insane;
  • Sub-par built-in mono loudspeaker, even if it produces clear tones and no significant distortions;
  • Gimmicks, gimmicks and more gimmicks, as unique features like Air View and Gestures are not sufficiently well executed to be fully productive and useful.

galaxy-note-3-10

Final wrap-up

First of all, I know. Four reviews may not seem like a representative sample of what the whole internet thinks about the Galaxy Note 3. But they come from websites that are as reliable as they are diverse, so, with a few minor exceptions, you can bet your asses everyone out and about will come to the same conclusions as these four guys.

What are the conclusions? In a nutshell, that the Note 3 improves greatly on the legacy of its forefathers and fits the profile of the most qualified candidate for the title of best phablet large phone this year.

Is it groundbreaking? Hardly. Is it worth the upgrade from the Note 2 or S4? Most definitely. Will it be left in the dust in a matter of six or nine months? Probably. But that’s how mobile technology works nowadays.

Top 5 Reasons Google’s Nexus 5 Will Crush The Competition (Even The iPhones and Galaxy Note 3)

Following an unusually hot spring in the smartphone landscape, which saw the Galaxy S4 and HTC One battle it out for gold (though sadly it wasn’t much of a contest in the end), and a much quieter summer, the fall season got off to an explosive start courtesy of two major IFA announcements.

LG-Nexus-5-mockup

The contenders

You can’t not love Samsung’s Galaxy Note 3, what with its crazy compact body, faux leather back, 3 gigs of RAM and all, but at the same time Sony has finally stepped up to the plate, with an Xperia Z1 that probably doesn’t strike you as elegant, but compensates with inner beauty (i.e. Snapdragon 800 power and tremendous battery life), plus a top-notch 20.7 MP rear-facing camera.

It didn’t take long for Apple to join the party as well, with a somewhat underwhelming iPhone 5c, but also a 5s that, as much as we hate to admit it, is a clear and fierce contender. Yet I’m here to tell you, nay beg you to hold off for a month or so before deciding to commit to any of these beasts.

Nexus 5

I know, the temptation is suffocating, everyone’s upgrading around you, also pressuring you to get with the times. But what if you cough up $700 tomorrow and realize in just 30 days it was all just a huge mistake?

What if the true game-changer, the big kahuna, the top cat is right around the corner? Impossibru, you say? Hardly, since Google and LG are, as we speak, putting the finishing touches on the Nexus 5. And here’s how the N5 will blow your minds away, wiping out the Z1, Note 3 and 5s competition in the process:

No more cutting corners

Big G already went all in this year with the second-gen Nexus 7, which is no longer a mid-ranger anyway you look at it, and there’s no reason to think they’ll skimp on N5 specs either. Comfortably sized, Full HD screen? You got it. The best, zippiest mobile processor around? Check.

LG-Nexus-5

Plenty of RAM to go around? Not a problem. Massive battery, optional 4G LTE, NFC, up-to-date, silky smooth software, high-quality camera? A resounding yes sir all around.

True, the coveted microSD card slot will likely still go missing, as will a fingerprint scanner, but on the whole you won’t be able to complain about having to make sacrifices with the Nexus. And besides, who needs fingerprint recognition anyway?

Budget is still the word of the day

It may seem a bit far-fetched, you’ll probably not buy it until you see it, but we have every reason to believe the N5’s pricing will not be considerably bloated. Sure, a slight upping compared with the N4 is probably to be expected, but not more than $50 or $100 extra.

nexus-5-leak

And come on now, do you really need to hear the other three reasons if the N5 is to start at roughly $400 outright while not cutting any significant hardware or software corners? Jeez, you’re demanding.

Ramping up production

Aside from not packing LTE speeds and downsizing a little in the display or camera department, what was the number one issue with the N4? Limited availability, you got it. I’m pretty sure you all remember how fast the phone was flying off shelves, and not (just) because it was so popular.

Nexus-5-Render

But mostly, because Google and LG weren’t ready to handle decent demand. Well, mainly LG. So what makes me think this year will be any different? Call it a hunch. The truth of the matter is I don’t have proof the Nexus co-branders have or plan to ramp up production. Yet if Google decided once again to put its trust in LG, my guess is they did it based on more than words.

Also, with Samsung going forward with Tizen plans and HTC reportedly working on its own mobile OS, Android needs to develop a sort of independency from hardware manufacturers. And what’s the best, easiest way to do that? Make the newest “pure Google phone” a hit, bingo.

iOS? iOS who?

This is not easy to admit, but for years and years and years we Android aficionados have looked with envy at the simplicity, ease of use and smoothness of iOS. But no more. Jelly Bean has already stepped things up considerably compared with Ice Cream Sandwich and Kit Kat is bound to put Android on top of iOS in each and every possible way.

Android_KitKat

Though we’re still a little light on 4.4 details, specifics and updates, I have a hunch (another one) that all those Key Lime Pie-focused rumors were not in vain. Meaning that Kit Kat should come with improvements to multitasking, a rehashed UI, and, to shut iSheep Apple fanboys up, support for 64-bit chips.

Mind-blowing CPU and GPU performance

This actually ties with the first reason mentioned a little earlier (and in a way, with the fourth), but I feel it needs a bit of an emphasis. It’s no secret anymore, the Nexus 5 will come packing a quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 chip and Adreno 330 graphics processing unit.

qualcomm snapdragon

Not exactly a very special combo, since the GNote 3, Xperia Z1 and LG G2 are essentially built the same way, right? Wrong. Based on a couple of leaked benchmarks, the N5 may just top the performance of the iPhone 5s, and, for that matter, of every other high-end phone around.

How come? Well, probably because Android 4.4 will help the system take everything to the next level. And that’s not something we usually say about Nexus devices, is it?

Now do you understand why you have to wait until mid-October?

Kindle Fire HDX 7 vs Google Nexus 7 2013 vs Apple iPad Mini – Specs Comparison

With all the hoopla surrounding Apple’s new iPhone 5s and 5c, their full-metal and “unapologetic” plastic builds, 64-bit new processor that’s sooo much zippier than 32-bit chips inside Androids and so on and so forth, the tech world pretty much ignored what I think should have been treated as an equally as important product unveiling: that of Amazon’s new Kindle Fire HDX slates.

ipad mini vs nexus 7 vs kindle fire hdx

And though we here at The Droid Guy rarely wear capes or masks while out in public (at home is a different thing), we’d like to try to do the HDX some justice today.

After all, Amazon has been for all intents and purposes the pioneering OEM of the now booming small than 10-inch tablet market, taking a huge gamble with the first-gen Kindle Fire back in 2011 and subsequently getting copied by Google and Apple.

Okay, maybe “copy” is a bit of an overstatement. Yet think of it this way. Were it not for Amazon to roll out the Fire two years ago, do you really think Big G and Asus would have been so serious about the Nexus 7 project? How about Apple and their iPad Mini, which Steve Jobs never approved of?

Nexus-7-vs-Kindle-Fire-HDX

So you see, we owe Amazon and their Fires a great deal of gratitude and trust, which is why it’s time for another one of our legendary specs comparisons. This time, we’re pitting the new Kindle Fire HDX 7 against the 2013 Google Nexus 7 and Apple’s first-gen iPad Mini. Why also the iPad Mini? Just for kicks, not that we’d ever consider going for it. Ready, set, fight:

Design and build quality

Even if no hardcore, devoted Android fan would even give the iPad Mini a second thought, we have to be fair, unbiased and admit it – those Cupertino folks sure know how to design a pretty and sturdy slab of silicon.

iPad Mini

And while I don’t want to open that plastic vs. metal Pandora’s Box again, things are I’m afraid pretty clear here even for “unapologetic” fans of plastic. The iPad Mini breezes through the design and build quality battle, courtesy of a 7.2 mm thin profile, incredibly light 312 grams chassis and most of all smooth, silky and tough as nails aluminum unibody.

As for the fight for second place, it’s not easy to choose between the Fire HDX and N7-2 solely based on aesthetics, as the two share very many common points. They’re plasticky yet not flimsy, sleek, elegant and even rock similarly massive bezels. Ultimately, I’d personally choose the Nexus, as it’s thinner and lighter, but I totally understand if anyone thinks otherwise.

Display comparison

Extra screen real estate or superior pixel density? That, my friends, is the million-dollar question, but as far as I’m concerned the answer is pretty clear-cut: ppi any day. Besides, iPad Mini’s panel is only 0.9 inches larger, whereas the N7 and Fire HDX sport oodles of extra pixels. 1,920 x 1,200 each, to be more exact, which come to stunning 323 ppis, so almost double iPad Mini’s 162. For shame, Apple, for shame!

The-new-nexus-7

Meanwhile, at least for the time being, the two Androids are tied in first place, as their displays look pretty much identical… on paper.

Processing speed, RAM and cameras

Dual-core 1 GHz vs quad-core 1.5 GHz vs quad-core 2.2 GHz? Puh-lease, that’s not even a real contest. And yes, I know the iPad Mini doesn’t exactly need two extra cores, but even with Apple’s wicked optimization skills and their tight ecosystem, there’s no way in hell the measly dual-core CPU, coupled with 512 MB of RAM (2006 called…), can even compete in the same league as the Fire HDX.

amazon-kindle-fire-hdx

A Fire HDX that, again on paper, should smoke the new N7. Sorry, Google, and too bad for your 2 gigs of RAM, but there’s a reason Qualcomm updated from the Snapdragon S4 Pro to the S600 and then the S800 that Amazon now uses.

As far as cameras go, the ranks pretty much turn upside down, with iPad Mini’s 5 MP/1.2 MP shooters dominating the fight, followed by the N7, whose cams pack identical sensors, but less features, and the HDX, which lacks a main, rear-facing snapper. Then again, when’s the last time you used a slate to take a photo? Crickets, am I right?

Software and battery life

There’s so much to discuss in the software department and so many differences between the three that I’d rather not even start. What’s obvious is the choice here is a matter of taste. Sure, Apple’s iOS 7 and App Store appear to have the edge in smoothness and app support, but Android has come a long way and the vanilla 4.3 pre-loaded on the 2013 Nexus 7 is just all-around spectacular.

Nexus 7-Android 4.3

At the same time, Amazon has been making great strides with their Android fork, although you still need to be head over heels with the company’s store and products and willing to make a few sacrifices to dig Fire HDX’s on-board OS.

In terms of battery life, the battle is very much open, as there’s no way to know… yet how HDX’s ticker behaves in real life. Amazon is currently promising an 11-hour autonomy in “mixed use”, which would be very close to iPad Mini’s “up to 10 hours” life and considerably north of N7’s 9 hours of continuous use. But again, let’s wait and see.

Pricing, connectivity and others

For an aging slate, the iPad Mini has held its own rather decently in the comparison so far, but what completely disqualifies the 7.9-incher is its preposterous pricing. $350 with 16 GB of storage and Wi-Fi? Forget about it, especially with both the HDX and N7 starting at $230.

Kindle Fire HDX price

And then there were two. Both packing 16 GB of on-board memory in their low-end configs, optional 4G LTE, but no microSD slots. So it all comes down to whether you want Kindle’s extra oomph or N7’s better cameras, slightly cooler design and smoother software. Well, which one will it be? We’re all ears.

iPhone 5s vs Galaxy Note 3 vs LG G2 vs Sony Xperia Z1 – Benchmark Comparison, Take One

If it’s not obvious already, you’re on an Android blog. And you’re reading the words of a relentless, unapologetic (wink, wink) Android aficionado. But that doesn’t mean I, as well as everyone here at The Droid Guy, don’t like to keep an open mind and just discard everything that doesn’t run Google’s silky smooth mobile OS.

android-vs-apple

So as hard as it might be for you to believe, I’m willing to give Apple’s new iPhone 5s a chance to divert my attention away from such jewels as Samsung’s Galaxy S4 and Note 3, LG’s G2 or Sony’s Xperia Z Ultra and Z1.

Sure, their newest best thing is tiny, sports a display that’s crammed and low-res and a rear-facing camera that on paper can’t hold a candle to Z1’s stupendous 20 MP snapper. But maybe Apple’s seemingly gimmicky 64-bit A7 CPU can turn things around for the iPhone 5S and make it such a powerhouse that all the flaws will pale in comparison.

Still, with the new iPhone only available for a few days and the GNote 3 or Xperia Z1 mostly unavailable around the world, we’ll have to give it some extra time until thorough enough reviews and benchmark tests will be performed to prove beyond the shadow of a doubt which of the three is the numero uno smartphone out there in terms of raw speed.

galaxy-note-3-vs-iphone-5s

For now, we’ll have to settle with just bits and pieces, which are very important, mind you, but not 100% conclusive. Here goes the first part of the iPhone 5s vs Note 3 vs Xperia Z1 vs LG G2 ultimate benchmark smackdown.

SunSpider (lower is better)

iPhone 5S: 416 milliseconds

Galaxy Note 3: 650 ms

Xperia Z1: 830

LG G2: 900

iphone-5s

In lack of iPhone 5s scores in popular benchmarking tools such as AnTuTu, Vellamo or Quadrant, we have to start the festivities with SunSpider, a test of browsing muscle. Probably unsurprising, Apple’s big guy puts one in the win column quite comfortably here, due to both its road-opening (we can’t deny them that) 64-bit processor and very particular software optimizations.

While the LG G2 and Xperia Z1 are clearly no competition for the 5s, we have to underline Note 3’s score came by way of a pre-release prototype’s test, meaning the commercial unit will likely get much closer to the iPhone. Then again, it’s unlikely to beat it, so point Apple.

Geekbench 3.0

Xperia Z1: 2,800 points

iPhone 5s: 2,500

LG G2: 2,100

Galaxy S4 Octa: 2,000

Sony Xperia Z1

Well, well, well, guess what, not all browser benchmarks are so kind to the new iPhone. Granted, the 2,500 score is pretty darn impressive, but since Geekbench theoretically relies more than anything on CPU performance, it should be pretty disappointing (for them, certainly not for us) to see Z1’s Snapdragon 800, a 32-bit SoC, kick A7’s ass. And by so much!

Meanwhile, the GNote 3 is yet to be taken through the Geekbench hoops, so I took the liberty to add the octa-core variant of the GS4 in the mix for comparison purposes. And true, this thing has nothing on the 5s. But a 500-point edge for a device released six months after its adversary is certainly not that remarkable, is it?

GFXBench 2.7 T-Rex HD offscreen and onscreen

iPhone 5s: 24.7 Fps and 37.4

Galaxy S4 LTE-A: 26.4 Fps and 26.5

Xperia Z1: 22.9 Fps and 24.1

LG G2: 21.8 Fps and 23.0

iPhone 5s GFX

The iPhone 5s takes this battle and is now two for three, which we have to admit is a very nice record. But it’s also not a conclusive one, since the Note 3 is once again missing the battle. Meanwhile, the LTE-Advanced flavor of the Galaxy S4 actually puts up a decent fight against the 5s, defeating it in the off-screen chapter of this very thorough GPU benchmark test, but being subsequently put to shame onscreen.

What does that tell us? Intriguingly, that the biggest iPhone 5s selling point in the performance department might not be the CPU after all, but instead the graphics processing unit. Or so it seems.

3DMark Unlimited – Ice Storm

Galaxy S4 LTE-A – 17,000 points

Xperia Z1 – 16,800

LG G2 – 15,400

iPhone 5s – 14,000

samsung-galax-s4-lte-a

Now this is embarrassing. And I won’t even try to contain or hide my delight. How could I? I mean, the iPhone 5s came dead last in a competition based on a very meticulous and trustworthy test, which essentially measures how the CPU and GPU work together towards an only goal.

And once again, the Note 3 is yet to have its performance tested. Can you imagine how much Samsung’s 5.7-incher will change the ranks both here and in Geekbench and GFX Bench? I can and I tell you, it won’t look pretty for Apple.

But let’s back up for a second and look at the Ice Storm scores one more time. Something there that draws your attention? A shocker, maybe? Well, yeah, the Korean-only LTE-A GS4 comes out on top, defeating Apple’s “big” guy by an incredible margin of 3,000 points. With the risk of repeating myself, that… is… really… embarrassing.

Early conclusions

That’s a wrap, kind gentlemen and lovely ladies, but be sure to look through the source links below for more benchmarks, mostly starring the iPhone 5s. And remember, all the above is just a sample of the much too complex and complicated smackdown between the best smartphones of today.

iphone_5s_64_bit

Also, it’s too early for verdicts. Granted, the 5s looks mighty strong from a number of standpoints. But at the same time, given all that 64-bit hoopla, the world expected more. Did you? Is anyone really, truly, seriously considering jumping ship from Android to iOS? And if so, are you sure you don’t need a checkup?

Sources: Anandtech, Gizmodo, GFX Bench, Appadvice, PC Mag, YouTube, Tbreak, GSM Arena

Samsung Galaxy Note 3 vs. HTC One Max – (Early) Specs Comparison

Battle of the giants, take two. The duel between Samsung’s Galaxy S4 and the HTC One, which split the Android world into two this first part of the year, might have ended with a no contest win for the former (as far as sales are concerned, at least), but something tells me the GNote 3 vs. One Max brawl is to be much more evenly matched.

samsung_galaxy_note_3_vs_htc_one_max

Of course, HTC continues to be the underdog, as Samsung has turned everything it’s touched in the past couple of years in solid, pure gold. Then again, there’s no more debating the Taiwanese have the upper hand in terms of build quality while being on-par with the competition in hardware and close enough in software.

And yeah, I know it seems far too early to put the Note 3 and One Max in a head-to-head bout, but come on, it’s not like their looks and spec sheets are a big secret anymore. That said and without further ado, I give you the clash of the century second part of 2013, the royal rumble, the ultimate smackdown or however you want to call it:

Design and build quality

Technically, the Note 3 and One Max are brand new phones. In essence however, they’re nothing but jumbo-sized versions of the Galaxy S4 (with S Pen support) and HTC One respectively. Which makes this duel so very easy to settle.

HTC-One-Max

Granted, the big plastic vs. metal debate is far from wrapped up, with still as many fans of the former as of the latter, but given Samsung’s execs have themselves caved in and will reportedly seek to “improve” the image of upcoming Galaxy stars, I think it’s very clear who comes out on top here.

Winner: One Max

Display

It’s funny. Until now, Samsung had the upper hand in display size (5 inches vs. 4.7), while HTC prevailed in pixel density (469 ppi vs. 441). The One Max however will be larger than the GNote 3 (5.9 vs. 5.7 inches) and sport the exact same 1,920 x 1,080 pixels resolution (aka Full HD), so the resulting ppi will be lower (373 vs. 386).

Galaxy Note 2 Note 3

With that in mind, you’d probably be quick to hand this win out to Samsung, especially that the Koreans seem to have done a fantastic job in boosting the usable screen real estate compared with the Note 2 while keeping the total size of the chassis under control.

But as usual, it’s a matter of taste. Dig larger screens? Then go for the One Max. Want something a little more compact (though by no means tiny) and with a top-notch ppi? The Note 3 is your man.

Winner: It’s a tie

Processing speed, RAM and cameras

Here’s where things get a little tricky. While the One Max is nearly guaranteed to pack a quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 CPU and 2 GB of RAM, Note 3’s internals remain under contention. Most likely, Sammy’s “next big thing” will come in two flavors, one with S800 heat and the other powered by an Exynos 5 Octa processor.

Qualcomm-snapdragon-800

But what about the RAM? Will there be the traditional 2 gigs or will that get bumped up to 3? And the camera, will it be a traditional 13 MP unit as well or up the ante in pixel count and/or with optical image stabilization?

As soon as we get definitive answers to all those questions, we can name a winner in this battle. For the time being, we’ll call it a draw also, even if chances are One Max’s UltraPixel snapper will be no match for the Note 3 regardless.

Software and battery

Pre-loaded Android 4.2 Jelly Bean or Android 4.3? Probably the latter will be valid for both phones, but if you ask me the bigger, more important question is which of the two will get upgraded to 5.0 Key Lime Pie first. Sorry, HTC, but as much as you stepped up to the plate lately, I still don’t trust you when it comes to swift software updates, so point Samsung.

Android-5.0-Key-Lime-Pie

And another point for Samsung as far as the battery is concerned – the Note 3 is rumored to come with a 3,450 mAh ticker (and remember, smaller screen), compared with the One Max, tipped to carry a 3,200 or 3,300 mAh battery.

Winner: Galaxy Note 3

Others

No microSD support for One Max, non-removable battery, but a never before seen (in Western smartphones, that is) fingerprint scanner. Hmm, this is a tough one, so my guess is it will all go down to pricing, availability and, as cynical as it might sound, marketing.

HTC-One-Max

Yes, marketing, and I’m not ashamed of admitting it. I, like most of you out there, am a victim, nay a product of consumerism, which bases its foundations on advertising. Though you may not realize it at times, many of your purchases are aided or influenced by how much buzz surrounds what phone, tablet, TV or blender.

Robert Downey Jr

And since there’s a good chance the Note 3 and One Max will cost about the same and hit the same carriers at around the same time, what will drive most of you to buy one or the other will likely be how much you’ll see of Robert Downey Jr. and how many billboards and anti-Apple ads Samsung will invest dough in. End of story, though I welcome as usual all opinions and thoughts, especially those contrary to my own. You have the floor.

Motorola Moto X Review Roundup

A lot of (virtual) ink is currently being spilled by the online media in regards to the Motorola Moto X, the newly unveiled smartphone that some consider to be the start of a new era for Android, while others, and I quote, “the underwhelming cure that Apple may have been looking for”.

moto-x-front

As usual, I like to take the cautious route when talking about a device that I’ve yet to handle or personally make the acquaintance of. In theory, I don’t think the Moto X has what it takes to challenge the Android big guys of today and tomorrow.

But just to be on the safe side and make sure I come off as objective as I’d like, I’ll give the floor to people who’ve actually gotten to test the thing out. Namely, people from reputable online publications such as Engadget, CNet or The Verge.

They’ve thoroughly reviewed the Moto X, and, because I know very well time is of the essence for most of you, here are their conclusions and impressions in short:

Engadget

The good:

  • Stellar battery life (over 11 hours of continuous use in video reproduction test and probably more than 24 hours in real-life);
  • Silky smooth software, sans a lot of pre-loaded junk, but with plenty of killer Android features like Active Display;
  • Excellently optimized hardware to take advantage of software features such as Active Display, Quick Capture or Touchless Control;
  • Solid overall performance, in spite of the custom processor’s running of just two cores (18,000 AnTuTu score, close to 9,000 points in Quadrant, roughly 2,500 in Vellamo).

moto_x_software

The bad:

  • Price is too damn high ($200 with two-year contracts);
  • Moto Maker restricted only to AT&T version for starters;
  • Obvious speed disadvantage compared with similarly priced phones like Samsung’s Galaxy S4 or the HTC One, not to mention the expected oomph of the upcoming LG G2 or Galaxy Note 3.

Motorola_Moto_X_colors

Bottom line: “It’s the smartest smart object” around, but it can’t compete with devices rocking higher-res displays and faster processors. Not when it doesn’t offer customization options to all its potential buyers.

Cnet

Pros:

  • Well-crafted design, with softly rounded curves, Kevlar backing and a screen that’s decently sized, but not colossal;
  • Surprisingly capable 10 MP rear camera, both indoor and outdoor, in direct sunlight or in more challenging lighting conditions;
  • Close to stock Jelly Bean interface, but with neat added goodies like voice command capabilities;
  • Endless variety of customized designs;
  • Solid battery life: 10 hours and 9 minutes of continuous use when playing HD movies (more than the HTC One and just 20 minutes less than the Galaxy S4).

Moto-X-camera

Cons:

  • Fast enough for a dual-core device, but not screaming fast: 8,500 points in Quadrant, roughly 3,500 less than the HTC One and down almost 3,000 points compared with the GS4;
  • No expandable storage;
  • The 720p OLED display, while crisp and vivid, is not as sharp as Full HD screens used by Samsung or HTC on their latest flagships.

MotoX

Verdict: It’s a definite contender, especially in respect to design, battery and software, but it’s obviously short of perfection.

The Verge

Strong points:

  • Moto X’s build quality is great, despite not rocking a metal chassis, and is as good-looking as it is comfortable to hold and use;
  • It’s one of the first ever “clean” Android devices that will hit all major US carriers in that form;
  • Aside from being pure and neat, the software includes enough exclusive features and functions to make the users feel special for choosing it;
  • Day to day performance in gaming, multimedia or browsing shouldn’t be a problem, in spite of the using of mostly mid-range specs;
  • It ran for more than 7 hours on a single charge in the website’s traditional battery test, which puts it clearly ahead of the HTC One and Galaxy S4 and it also lasted 15 hours of heavy real-life use.

Moto-X-marketing

Weak points:

  • A middling 720p screen with over-saturated colors makes the Moto X look far from premium in this particular department.
  • Despite being zippy and delivering crisp pics in no time, the phone’s “Clear Pixel” shooter suffers from severe post-processing issues;
  • It feels underwhelming compared with direct opponents in its price range, lacking a certain “wow” factor.

motorola-x8

Bottom line: “It’s not a perfect phone, but it’s pretty damn good”. The design and customization are what really make it stand out from the crowd, though they still don’t make it any better than the GS4 or HTC One.

SlashGear

The good:

  • It’s sturdy, solid and, while it doesn’t breath elegance from each pore, it sits somewhere in the middle of the whole “metal or plastic” controversy, with build materials that don’t feel cheap in any way;
  • More hand-friendly than the norm in terms of size;
  • Runs almost pure Android, but it’s the “thoughtful” tweaks and special features that actually make it better;
  •  The battery lasted for over 21 hours of “typical use”.

moto-x-wood

The bad:

  • The camera, while overall pretty capable, has a couple of subtle flaws;
  • It’s pricey;
  • The speaker is often loud and suffers from distortions.

Moto Maker

Verdict: The Moto X “deserves a chance to convince”, being in almost every way as impressive as its rivals, even if on paper that may not seem the case.

Final wrap-up

Four reviews are hardly enough to convince me the Moto X is this way or that way, worth its money or not, but a few things seem clear-cut nevertheless.

moto-x

A. The battery life is stellar, B. The Moto X sports an award-winning design, even sans all the color options and so on, and C. If it would get a price cut tomorrow, it should skyrocket to the top of each and every one of your shopping lists. The rest is still up for discussion.

Why the Chromecast isn’t for everyone, and why I returned mine

Screen Shot 2013-07-30 at 10.18.13 PM

When Google announced the Chromecast a few days ago, everyone was on it. The $35 price tag was pretty much a no-brainer, and every tech junkie pulled the trigger to purchase one as soon as it was available on sites such as Amazon and Google Play. I did so myself, and received it two days later thanks to Amazon Prime shipping.

But now it’s gone. On its way back to Amazon, as I’ve returned the $35 dongle. Why? Here’s my opinion on the device and why it didn’t work for me, and why it might not work for you.

google-chromecast-2

Complexity

This was the biggest issue for me with the Chromecast. In order to play video or music, you need to be using a secondary device to ‘cast’ the content onto your television. Personally, I hate that. I wish Google had a singular Netflix or YouTube app installed in the Chromecast, but that would require an App Store with the dongle as well-something that I don’t think can fit into such a small device. It’s not a big deal to always pull out your phone or computer when you need to watch something on your TV, but at the same time it isn’t ideal if you have something that can already play Netflix and YouTube by itself, such as an Apple TV, PS3, or Xbox 360.

google-chromecast-3

However, casting Chrome onto your Chromecast is ideal, and could be worth the price tag itself. Apple already does this with Airplay, but it costs $99-more than twice the cost of the Chromecast. I can see casting your Chrome browser being extremely useful in presentations at work, or for school. You can easily show your peers what you’ve been working on, without the need of plugging in a projector, or using extra cables to plug into your laptop.

Summary

Most of my Twitter followers have been saying: “Why not just keep the dongle? The 3-month Netflix code pretty much pays for itself.” That’s a good point, but really, I’d like to have my $35 back since I’m not going to be using it at all. I don’t need to cast Chrome onto my TV-I barely even touch my TV unless I’m gaming. I don’t need another device to playback Netflix or YouTube, and I certainly don’t see the point of playing music through my TV.

Google did create an awesome device in the Chromecast, but it’s not for everyone, so think twice before you purchase it. I would recommend it to those that don’t have a streaming device at all for their TV-no cable, no gaming consoles, no Roku, no Apple TV, nothing. At $35, this is an extremely good deal to give your TV instant streaming abilities.

But, if you possess any kind of streaming device that can do what the Chromecast can already do minus casting your Chrome browser, than this is an impulse purchase. And you should save your money, as $35 can get you 35 dollar-menu items from McDonalds. Who doesn’t want more McChickens?

 

 

HTC One vs HTC One Mini – Specs Comparison

There are only two ways one can view the HTC One these days. Either you think of it as the best Android smartphone around, or the number two, behind Samsung’s Galaxy S4. There’s no third option, unless you also consider Sony’s Xperia Z Ultra, which however is not available for sale yet.

htc_one_mini_htc_one

HTC One Mini Specs and Features

But what about HTC One mini? It’s clearly not a game-changer, it’s not targeted at power junkies and is in no way a flagship device, but how “bad” is it compared with big bro? Can it be described as an upper mid-ranger, full-blown mid-end device or, worse, a low-ender?

No prizes for narrowing that down to two options, since not even the biggest, craziest Android speed addict out there (and I say that with love) could ever look at something as cool as the One mini and say it’s an entry-level gadget.

That said, how about we ditch all the chitchat and get down to the facts? The cold numbers, specs and features that make the One mini a downgrade compared with HTC’s current top-liner.

Design and build quality

Unlike Samsung, whose Galaxy S4 Mini really does look “mini” from a mile away compared with the original GS4, HTC seems to have been given HTC One mini’s design much more thought. The Taiwanese have clearly intended for the aesthetic differences between their two leading phones to be as subtle as possible.

htc-one-mini-vs-htc-one-2

In the end, they’ve nailed that perfectly, but that’s not to say the One mini is an “architectural” marvel. It’s robust, solid and elegant, just like its brother, it rocks the same aluminum unibody that’s attracted so many devotees of late, but it’s a little tall.

In fact, it’s only four percent shorter than the 4.7-inch One. And that’s despite the usable screen real estate measuring 4.3 inches in diagonal. It’s also a mere 5 mm narrower than the One, so all in all the bezels could have been slimmer.

htc-one-mini-vs-htc-one-1

Plus, the One mini is no featherweight, weighing in at 122 grams (15 more than the GS4 Mini, 21 less than the One). On the bright side, it is exactly as thin as its sibling, rocking a 9.3 mm profile.

Display

There’s absolutely no way we can make this comparison so as the One mini can win, but it’s not like you’ll ever find someone in their right mind to say the 4.3-incher’s screen is mediocre. It may not be perfect, but it’s crazy crisp.

htc-one-mini-vs-htc-one-3

It boasts a 1,280 x 720 pixels resolution (aka HD) and 341 ppi pixel density, which is clearly not as impressive as the 1,920 x 1,080 pix res and 468 ppi of the One. What I dare you to do is take a 720p and 1,080p smartphone without knowing which one’s which and try to tell the difference. Trust me, you’ll never pull it off.

Processing speed and cameras

If you really want to find something “wrong” with the One Mini, here’s where you’ll want to look. The little guy’s dual-core 1.4 GHz Snapdragon 400 CPU is no match for the quad-core 1.7 GHz Snapdragon 600 inside the One. Or for the 1.7 GHz Snapdragon 400 powering the GS4 Mini, for that matter.

htc-one-mini-vs-htc-one-4

Sadly, HTC has also decided to couple the 400 SoC with just 1 GB of RAM, so multitasking might be a little tricky… if you’ll want to run like 10 apps at once.

Meanwhile, the cameras of the One mini and One are almost identical, though there are a couple of very subtle differences. The rear snapper lacks OIS (optical image stabilization) on the 4.3-incher, whereas the front-facing cam packs a lower-res 1.6 MP sensor (vs. 2.1).

Software

To keep it short and to the point, the One mini is essentially a clone of its bigger brother in software terms. Not that that’s a bad thing. On the contrary, in fact, since the soon to be released 4.3-inch phone is to run Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean with Sense 5.0 UI on top and all of the “goodies” that make the 4.7-inch One special.

htc-one-mini

Battery life and others

It’s obviously way too early to try to rate One mini’s real-life autonomy, but with a measly 1,800 mAh ticker powering the thing I wouldn’t be very optimistic. Then again, the One has an edge of just 500 mAh in this department and, after putting the always power-hungry Full HD screen and superior processor in balance, chances are the gap between the two phones will be pretty small. Maybe like an hour or so in talk time.

htc-one-mini-vs-htc-one-5

As for other elements that could help you decide between the two, there are only a couple that come to mind. There’s the storage space (the bigger One comes with 32 or 64 GB, while the smaller device has just 16 gigs in tow), pricing and connectivity.

Most of the ports and connectivity options are the same between the two, but one important thing that the One mini lacks is NFC. Oops! Finally, we’re hearing £380 will be the off-contract starting price in the UK, which makes us presume America will get it for $400 tops in an unlocked flavor and $100 with two-year pacts.

Wrap-up

Starting from the bottom, the One Mini should have a pricing ace up its sleeve of about 300 bucks in an off-contract flavor compared with the original One. Enough to warrant a buy? That depends. If you’re not fazed by its slightly too big body and not very impressive SoC/RAM duo, hell yeah!

htc-one-mini

But darn it to hell, HTC, you were so close to perfection with this thing that the 1 GB RAM just makes me boil with anger. Who’s with me?

Images via [Gizmag]

Samsung Galaxy S4 vs Sony Xperia Z Ultra – Specs Comparison

Game-changer. You hear that term so often being thrown around in relation to this or that smartphone, this or that tablet that it’s essentially lost any meaning and value it ever had. But where does that leave us when a true game-changer comes our way?

Galaxy S4 Xperia Z Ultra

Well, we have to think of other attributes to describe it. How about, say, “ultra”? It doesn’t sound so catchy by itself, so let’s attach it to the words “Sony”, “Xperia” and the letter “Z”. The result? The Sony Xperia Z Ultra, probably the most spectacular Android device released so far in 2013. Scratch that, in history.

Yes, it’s big, in fact yes, it’s massive, but when did that become a downside? Worst case scenario, it’s an inconvenience, but one that I know most of you will be willing to neglect once you hear of the thing’s other specs.

Now, I already called the Z Ultra the most spectacular Android device ever, but is it also the best? No other way to tell but compare it to the current best. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the first, the ultimate, the comprehensive Xperia Z Ultra vs Galaxy S4 comparison.

Design and build quality

This is no way to start a versus post, but a little disclaimer before anything. No one’s touched the Z Ultra yet (well, for more than a few minutes or so), no one’s played with it (enough), so all we have right now are cold numbers, assumptions and impressions from the outside.

That said, I’m pretty sure there’s no way the Ultra will look and feel in any way poorer when held in hand than the way it does on paper. Yes, the thing is massive and yes, you might look ridiculous holding it next to your ear.

sony-xperia-z-ultra-design

But who cares when it’s 6.5 mm thin, made of aluminum and glass, premium in every way, sleek, svelte and graceful? Meanwhile, you probably already know what GS4’s deal is. It looks fairly nice by some standards, but much too plasticky and cheap for me.

Winner: Z Ultra

Display

Comparing a 5-inch panel with a 6.4-incher might be like apples and oranges in a sense, but ultimately it’s not about the size, it’s how you use it. Erm, the display, I mean. We already know GS4’s Super AMOLED screen is spectacular, with a 441 ppi, impressive viewing angles and very bright colors, so the question is how does the Z Ultra compare.

Xperia Z Ultra screen

It should compare very nice, since it’s Triluminos (read: brighter and more colorful than the norm) and Full HD. That’s in theory, while in reality, based on a few existent hands-on previews… it’s still very cool. Clearly better than Xperia Z’s in every way, but probably poorer than GS4’s in terms of contrast.

Then again, it works with all kinds of pens and styluses, which is a big plus.

Winner: It’s a tie

Processing speed and cameras

I know, I know, it’s not fair to compare a new phone with one that’s almost three months old, but the fact of the matter is between the time the Ultra is released and Samsung’s Galaxy Note 3 becomes available, Sony has the upper hand against old Sammy here.

Snapdragon 800

That’s because the Z Ultra comes with Snapdragon 800 heat in tow. And based on preliminary benchmarks, Qualcomm’s newest quad-core chip should be at least 20% faster than the 600 found inside the GS4.

In terms of cameras however, Sony seems to have dropped the ball, inexplicably fitting an 8 MP snapper on Z Ultra’s back. True, a higher megapixel count does not automatically a better cam make, but even Xperia Z’s 13 MP unit was worse than Galaxy S4’s, so there’s no real fight here.

samsung-galaxy-s4-cameras

Winner: Another tie

Software

Android 4.2 Jelly Bean vs Android 4.2 and we seem to have another tie on our hands. Well, not so fast, since most of the times the difference here is made by the little details. You know, the pre-loaded goodies, the skins and so on and so forth.

The thing is both these individuals have their ups and downs. The GS4 has oodles of exciting special features, like Smart Stay or Smart Pause, but most of them are gimmicks. The others, don’t really work as advertised.

samsung-galaxy-s4-software

Meanwhile, the Z Ultra has a more toned down customized UI, a closer to stock Android experience, but, and this might sound strange, not enough gimmicks. What can I say, a gimmick or two never hurt anyone.

Winner: Tie again?!?

Battery life

I’m not going to beat it around the bush here, as it’s much early to proclaim a battery life winner. Even on paper it’s hard to give one or the other the edge, since the S4 is a 5-incher packed with a 2,600 mAh ticker, whereas the Z Ultra has a 6.4-inch screen and 3,050 mAh battery. Oh, well, the reviews and battery tests are coming, so let’s wait and see.

samsung-galaxy-s4-battery

Winner: Inconclusive

Others

While Sony is yet to make an official statement regarding price, the Z Ultra will likely be costlier than the S4. By how much, we don’t know. Another small but important detail that can tip the balance one way or the other is Samsung’s flagship can be found everywhere from major electronics retailers to grocery stores, while Sony’s crown jewel is unlikely to come earlier than August.

On the flipside, the Ultra is protected against water and dust, two features that are really starting to count for some.

Xperia Z Ultra water

All in all though, I have to declare this battle a tie too, which brings me to the final verdict. That’s right, you guessed it, the two phones are tied overall. Yes, the Z Ultra has a few extra aces up its sleeve, but ultimately 6.4-inch “handhelds” are not for everyone.

What I’m trying to say is if you want portability (well, kind of), go for the S4. If you want speed and great looks, wait for Sony’s Xperia Z Ultra. It will be worth it, trust me.

Via [Stuff] and [GSM Arena]

Sprint HTC One Review

We’re a bit late to the party, but as they say..It’s better late than never.

The HTC One has to be one of the top Android handsets you can buy in 2013, even though it’s already June. The device, which sports a 1080p 4.7″ screen, 1.7Ghz Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 CPU, 2GB of RAM and a 4MP “Ultrapixel” Camera, is no slouch. However, is it the device to get for you? We’ll find out in the full review.

(more…)

Samsung Galaxy S4 vs LG Optimus G Pro (AT&T Version) – Specs Comparison

Samsung’s Galaxy S4 might have (barely) survived and come on top in the head-to-head battle against the HTC One, but we already have a new challenger to the throne. Well, this one has been around for a while too, but it’s only now starting to make a solid bid for the smartphone heavyweight title, as it has finally been made official for the US.

Samsung-Galaxy-S4-vs-LG-Optimus-G-Pro

Yes, it’s LG’s super-sized 5.5-inch Optimus G Pro, an even bigger and in some ways more technically impressive beast than the GS4. The G Pro unfortunately starts the duel with two massive disadvantages, on account of LG’s somewhat shady reputation in the States and the limited availability that comes from the big guy’s exclusivity status on AT&T.

Taking that into account, does the Optimus G Pro have what it takes to recover the lost ground and at least prove like a solid S4 alternative? Let’s see…

Design and build quality comparison

Besides disappointing with sub-par software support, LG has always been seen by folks in the US as Samsung’s more modest relative. You know, like the cousin that always looked up to you, but made you feel embarrassed when going out by picking his nose.

Also, people have constantly accused LG of copying Sammy’s designs, which, to be honest, has flagrantly happened more than once in the recent past.

Samsung-Galaxy-S4-vs-LG-Optimus-G-Pro-2

Why am I telling you all this? Well, I want you to understand that LG has really turned the page with this G Pro. True, the thing still looks uncannily similar to the S4, with basically the same glossy plastic exterior, overall industrial look and relatively thin bezels.

But darn, is LG’s 5.5-incher sexy! The textured back is clearly a love or hate design element, but when it comes to the thing’s dimensions you can’t not like it. Though bigger than the S4, the G Pro feels very nice in the hand and is just exquisite from top to bottom.

The same can of course be said about Samsung’s flagship, but I won’t go into detail because I already did that.

Winner: It’s a tie

Display

Though obviously we haven’t had the chance to take the AT&T version of the Optimus G Pro for a spin already, chances are it’s the exact same phone as the Korean model that several big tech websites have tested.

lg-optimus-g-pro

And if that’s the case, LG has a problem – G Pro’s IPS LCD screen is clearly inferior to S4’s AMOLED when it comes to color reproduction, viewing angles, contrast and brightness. Basically the only thing the 5.5-incher has going for it is the size, but that’s not much of an advantage either because the S4 actually has the higher ppi.

Both panels sport Full HD resolutions (1,920 x 1,080 pixels), but it’s the S4 that boasts a stunning 441 ppi pixel density, compared with “only” 401 ppi for the G Pro.

Winner: Galaxy S4

Processing speed and cameras

Again, we are yet to see and test the AT&T G Pro, but if it’s anything like the Korean variant (and it probably is), the Galaxy S4 has the edge from a performance standpoint too. LG’s spearhead packs a 1.7 GHz quad-core Snapdragon 600 CPU and 2 GB of RAM, whereas the Samsung big guy features a 1.9 GHz 600 processor or octa-core Exynos 5, plus the same 2 gigs of memory.

In both variations, the S4 scores considerably higher in benchmarks like AnTuTu, GLBenchmark or Geekbench, meaning you’ll likely get a little extra juice from the 5-incher in gaming, multimedia playing or web browsing.

As for cams, they’re essentially identical on paper, sporting 13 and 2.1 MP sensors (the G Pro) and 13 and 2 megapixels (the S4). However, in real life the GS4 is clearly better in regards to the main snapper, which produces sharper, brighter and more detailed pics.

Winner: Galaxy S4

Software

The software battle comes down to the classic Android 4.2 vs 4.1 duel, with the latter unfortunately coming out the box with the G Pro. We also can’t ignore LG’s recent muddy track record with updates, which makes us guess a 4.2 and subsequent 4.3 or 5.0 bump will not happen very soon.

Jelly Bean

The GS4 wins extra points here with a much more complex exclusive UI added on top of Android, coming with neat and unique features like Smart Stay, Smart Pause, S Health or S-Voice. Then again, if you like your Android experience to be closer to stock, you’ll appreciate LG’s very subtle tweaks and the highly customizable UI.

Winner: Galaxy S4

Battery life

Given the Optimus G Pro packs a much larger ticker than the GS4 (3,140 mAh vs 2,600), you’d think LG will finally catch a break and win at least a single battle of this comprehensive vs post of ours. Unfortunately (for LG), it’s not that simple.

lg-optimus-gpro-battery

According to GSM Arena, the G Pro comes clearly on top in terms of talk time autonomy, but loses the web browsing and video playback battles, ultimately falling short of the S4 in “endurance” too. But how do you explain Samsung’s giant wins here despite rocking the smaller battery? Simple, it also sports the smaller screen and likely has better optimized software.

Winner: Galaxy S4

Others

As you can see, “good enough” is not enough to beat the GS4 to the punch and the final section of our comparison can’t change things too much. Both phones come with LTE speeds, both have expandable storage and user-removable batteries, plus things like NFC, Bluetooth 4.0 and Wi-Fi.

The G Pro does win points for coming with 32 GB of on-board storage in its base config (compared with 16 gigs for the GS4) and for having slightly better audio quality thanks to a Dolby mobile sound enhancement system, but it’s far too little and too late for things to be turned around.

Winner: Optimus G Pro

Final verdict

It’s clear LG has come a long way from, say, two years ago and it deserves all the praising for its recent progress, but it’s still not a worthy adversary for Samsung. The G Pro is no pushover in any way, it looks very nice and packs awesome hardware, but is it the best high-end Android smartphone of the moment? Hardly.

On the flipside, if you do prefer your gadgets bigger and are not so set on owning the phone with the zippiest processor, the most unique software features (read: gimmicks) and the sharpest display, go for LG’s Optimus G Pro and don’t look back.

Via [Phone Arena], [GSM Arena], [Android Authority] and [Ubergizmo]

Acer Iconia Tab A1 Previewed Ahead of Release, Looks Like A Very Strong iPad Mini Challenger

Acer’s first 2013 stab at challenging the likes of Google’s Nexus 7 and Apple’s iPad Mini might have been a little underwhelming, but the Taiwan-based company is anything but a one-trick pony. The Iconia Tab A1 has looked much better on paper than the B1 ever since it first starred in a “leak”, and now, courtesy of Bulgarian website Tablet.bg, we have the chance to see it in the flesh as well.

Acer Iconia Tab A1

And although it’s still at least one month away from its commercial release, I have to say I’m already pretty impressed by the thing and excited to see it on store shelves. Sure, it has its flaws, but if rumors about a $170 starting price point turn out to be true, it’s going to be very hard to say no to the A1.

Before getting down to the tab’s Bulgarian preview, let’s take one more look at its spec sheet, as revealed by Tablet.bg:

  • 7.9-inch IPS panel with 1,024 x 768 pixels resolution
  • Quad-core 1.2 GHz MediaTek MT8125 CPU
  • PowerVR SGX GPU
  • 1 GB of RAM
  • 8/16 GB of internal storage space
  • Android 4.2 Jelly Bean
  • 5 MP rear-facing camera with auto focus
  • VGA front webcam
  • Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.0
  • GPS, accelerometer, gyroscope, microSD card slot, micro USB 2.0
  • 3,250 mAh battery
  • 11 mm thickness
  • 460 grams weight

Not too shabby, eh? Again, if and only if the Iconia Tab A1 will cost below $200. Otherwise, I for one am definitely going to find fault with the measly battery (the 7-inch Nexus 7 has a 4,325 mAh ticker), the not so great 1,024 x 768 pix res panel, or the inexplicably bulky figure (the iPad Mini weighs a full 150 grams less than this thing and measures just 7.2 mm in thickness).

But let’s see what the guy at Tablet.bg handling the gadget has had to say about the experience, shall we? First off, the design is essentially praised for being “clean and simple”, unlike the cheap-looking Iconia B1.

The new 7.9-incher is said to be easy to hold, ergonomic and fairly elegant, though I’m still a little fazed about its chunkiness.

Moving on to the display, this is also praised, especially for using the high-quality IPS (In-Plane Switching) technology. The pixel density is the same 162 ppi as on the iPad Mini, but considerably behind the 216 of the Nexus 7, whereas the viewing angles are simply described as “impressive”.

Unfortunately, the tab’s previewers have been unable to benchmark the A1 and test its processor’s speed or battery life, but at least on the former we expect the thing to perform decently, albeit obviously not exactly on-par with the iPad Mini and N7.

Finally, from a software standpoint the A1 looks surprisingly “high-class”, thanks to the latest and greatest version of Android – 4.2 Jelly Bean – and a few special tweaks like the adding of something called Acer Life Image and Touch WakeApp.

Bottom line, look forward for mid-June or early July, when “sources” claim the Acer Iconia Tab A1 will be launched and be prepared to welcome one of the strongest Android-based iPad Mini contenders to date. And a short message for Apple – be afraid, be very, very afraid!

Via [Tablet.bg]