Friday, 21 March 2014

Oppo Find 7 - The best phone that you havent heard of?

Cheaper knock-off phones are continuously improving and the latest effort from Oppo is the most obvious example of that.

The Oppo Find 7 is Chinese-made and fits the bill of everything consumers wanted from the S5. Take a breath, read the below and try not to double-take... It's not easy...

The Find 7 screen is 5.5" wide and hits an incredible 538ppi. Nearly 100ppi more than its competitors. This screen resolution is 1440x2560 and is protected by Gorilla Glass 3.

Simply - it's a 2.5GHz, quad-core processor with 3GB RAM behind it. That's some power to reckon with. It currently runs Android 4.3 (imaginably pretty smoothly!) and is likely to be updated to Kit Kat soon.

There seems to be a trend back in the direction of removable SD cards in 2014 and the Oppo Find 7 joins that trend. Whilst internally, the Find 7 boasts 32GB storage, it can store externally a whopping 128GB. (!)

By the Find 7's standards, the camera is a little average. That's not to say it's bad by any means. Oppo still boast a 13MP rear camera with a Sony sensor that allows for 4K video, and the front camera has a 5MP camera. Excitingly, the Find 7 has included a feature that merges five x 10MP photos to creat a 50MP 'Super Zoom' image.

With all this, you'd be safe to assume the battery-life would be pretty poor. Well, we're not 100% but Oppo have done their best to resist this issue by inserting a 3,000mAh battery and enabling quick charging to 75% in 30minutes. Impressive.

So, is there a problem? Well, the name. Horrible. But other than that? Very, very little. It looks good (though we don't know much about build materials or indeed quality) and under the chasis it will rival pretty much anything out there. So this is the point where I tell you that it'll cost £1,500, right? Wrong. It will retail at £388. Not at all bad.

Anything more, I'll get it to you. But here's the acid-test - would you buy one? Or are you too trusting of a brand name?

Thursday, 20 March 2014

Everything you need to know about Android Wear and wearables

There was one obstacle between wearable technology and success - and that was style.

Now, thanks to Android Wear and the commitment from manufacturers, we've overcome that obstacle. On Tuesday 18th March, Google announced the first OS that makes wearables (smartwatches) really appeal to the consumer market. The OS (as seen below) maximises Google Now and we can now see how Google see Google Now in the long run.

Here's what Google say about Android Wear:
  • Useful information when you need it most. Android Wear shows you info and suggestions you need, right when you need them. The wide variety of Android applications means you’ll receive the latest posts and updates from your favorite social apps, chats from your preferred messaging apps, notifications from shopping, news and photography apps, and more.
  • Straight answers to spoken questions. Just say “Ok Google” to ask questions, like how many calories are in an avocado, what time your flight leaves, and the score of the game. Or say “Ok Google” to get stuff done, like calling a taxi, sending a text, making a restaurant reservation or setting an alarm.
  • The ability to better monitor your health and fitness. Hit your exercise goals with reminders and fitness summaries from Android Wear. Your favorite fitness apps can give you real-time speed, distance and time information on your wrist for your run, cycle or walk.
  • Your key to a multiscreen world. Android Wear lets you access and control other devices from your wrist. Just say “Ok Google” to fire up a music playlist on your phone, or cast your favorite movie to your TV. There’s a lot of possibilities here so we’re eager to see what developers build.

Despite only being announced on Tuesday, we've already seen exciting devices launched by Motorola and LG. We could also be looking at HTC's first entry when they launch the HTC One 2014 on Tuesday (which I'll be live Tweeting from) and we know for sure that Samsung and ASUS are soon to join the party.

So what have we got so far?

Moto 360

Launched by Motorola, the Moto 360 is perhaps the most exciting Android Wear launched this week.

Aside from being your everyday time-telling watch (and not a bad-looking one either), the Moto 360 will display everything Google Now would usually inform on: weather, live-scores, meetings and locations. Not only that, the Moto 360 will have Google Maps integrated and be able to provide turn-by-turn instructions, as well as delivering normal messages such as email, text and Google Hangouts.

Alongside Motorola, LG also joined the fun by announcing the LG G Watch.

LG have been very general on the details of the G Watch so far but here's what Dr Jong-Seok Park, LG CEO, said:

"The opportunity to work with Google on LG G Watch was the perfect chance for LG to really pull out all stops in both design and engineering.

With the LG G Watch, LG is continuing the milestones we’ve set in wearables following in the foot-steps of the world’s first 3G Touch Watch Phone in 2009 and the Prada Link in 2008. We’re confident that a well-designed device has the potential to take the smart wearable market by storm.”

Going off what we can see - LG seems to be heading along the lines of the Pebble and the Gear with the rectangle design. We can only assume that the OS will function in a similar way to the Moto 360 and Google Now integration.

Further additions to the Android Wear amoury will be added shortly and I'll update you when they're announced. 

To summarise all of this - the beauty of Android Wear (and in particular the work of the manufacturers) has suddenly made the smartwatch a desirable item. That's a big step.

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Was this the biggest announcement at MWC?

The headlines of MWC were understandably drowned in the news of the Samsung Galaxy S5. However, something that went under the radar was a strong and positive piece of news for Microsoft and Windows Phone.
At the beginning of MWC, Microsoft announced that LG, Huawei, Lenovo (who have recently bought Motorola) and ZTE were to become partners of Windows Phone. This is a strong move from Microsoft - and a showing of Windows 8 intent from some big name manufacturers. Possibly the biggest signing for Microsoft will be Huawei, who will be looking for a strong 2014 - and that may be where Microsoft will be most pleased. With Nokia showing a bit of love for Android, Microsoft needed to make sure that attention didn't stray far from Windows 8.

Windows 8 is making steady progress in winning the hearts and minds of consumers, and that's no surprise. As a far-cry from the familiarity of Microsoft, it was always going to take time to mature. As I mentioned previously, with Microsoft's long-term goal of Windows 8 becoming a '360 OS', and the OS already set for the future, the steady progress will suit them. Microsoft need to focus on mobile, and let the tablets/desktops/laptops follow.

What do you think? Fallen in love with Windows 8 as yet?