HTC Butterfly 2 video review

December 2, 2014

What’s almost identical to the HTC One (M8) but features a plastic shell and a 13MP camera? The Butterfly 2, natch :) After using this phone on and off for a few weeks, I came away suitably impressed. Sure, it’s not quite as sexy as the Desire 816, but it’s super light weight and packed with goodness. As for that 13MP camera, while it’s not as impressive in low light as its Ultrapixels sibling, it’s more versatile overall. The only missing ingredient is OIS — are you listening, HTC? Check out my video review.


Amazon Fire Phone video review

December 1, 2014

Ah yes, the Amazon Fire Phone… Long anticipated but ultimately flawed! Here’s my video review.

Forget the gimmicky Dynamic Perspective for a minute. Put aside Firefly and Mayday. Ignore the forked version of Android that lacks essential support for Google services. What you’re left with is a phone that features an odd mix of specs — some mid-range (4.7-inch 720p display) and some high-end (13MP camera with OIS) — in a well made but expensive package.

The story could end here. Amazon could improve the software and launch more affordable hardware in the future. But none of this solves the Fire Phone’s core problem: it’s an AT&T exclusive subsidized via the traditional operator model. What happened to Whispernet? Amazon missed the awesome opportunity to become a MVNO and completely remove the carrier from the customer experience.

Update: As I pointed out in my video review, the Fire Phone is now on sale for $199 unsubsidized, which is more affordable than the original full price of $449.


HTC Desire 816 video review

November 30, 2014

While HTC missed the mark with last year’s One max, it redeemed itself with the Desire 816 (and its followup, the Desire 820). I spent several weeks enjoying this large mid-range handset and came away very satisfied. The Desire 816 looks fantastic and performs well all around. It’s definitely one of my favorite HTC phones this year, despite the lack of NFC or manual camera controls. Here’s my video review.


YotaPhone (gen 1) video review

November 29, 2014

What’s got a 4.3-inch 720p IPS panel in front and a 4.3-inch E Ink display in back? The YotaPhone, natch!

It’s been over a year since the Russian manufacturer launched its first generation product, and I’ve been using it on and off for several months. While this handset is handicapped in north-America (1900MHz 2G is the only compatible band), it provides a unique and interesting user experience.

A much improved YotaPhone was announced at MWC last February and I’ll be getting one to play with, but in the meantime, check out my gen 1 video review


Nexus 9 video review

November 3, 2014

I just spent a few days traveling with HTC’s brand new Nexus 9. It’s definitely the best Android tablet I’ve ever used, and Lollipop is absolutely wonderful. Here’s my video review!

The 8.9-inch IPS display looks gorgeous, and the stereo BoomSound speakers are terrific. NVIDIA’s 64-bit Tegra K1 is super fast, and battery life appears to be holding up so far.

Still, there’s room for improvement. Both the power/lock key and volume rocker are difficult to locate by feel and provide little tactile feedback. The 8MP rear camera lacks HDR. It’s also a bit too heavy for my taste.

Finally, there’s the matter of price. $399 buys you last year’s iPad Air or today’s iPad mini (now with Touch ID), which offer a significantly better tablet-optimized app ecosystem…

 


Samsung Galaxy S5 review

July 14, 2014

Yes, I’m a bit late to the party here, but I’ve been using the Samsung Galaxy S5 for several weeks now, and here’s my video review (finally).

- Cons: looks and feels cheap, TouchWiz is a mess, camera lacks OIS
- Meh: phase-detection AF, heart-rate monitor, fingerprint scanner
- Pros: gorgeous display, fantastic battery life, water resistant

Special thanks to the friendly people at Samsung for lending me a review unit.


LG G Pro 2 review

July 13, 2014

Launched at MWC in February, the G Pro 2 is LG’s answer to Samsung’s Galaxy Note 3. I finally spent some quality time testing this phone (alongside the G3), and came away pretty satisfied. What’s not to like about a large 5.9-inch 1080p IPS panel, 13 megapixel camera with OIS, Snapdragon 800 with 3GB RAM, and decent battery life? Here’s my video review.


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