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Best AT&T Android phones

Posted by wicked November - 24 - 2014 - Monday Comments Off

AT&T logo [aa] (2)

AT&T and Verizon Wireless have been engaged in a bit of a cold war for the top carrier spot in the United States for some time now. While both carriers have a great selection of phones, many people think AT&T’s selection is a bit broader. AT&T has everything from the best flagship devices to midrange phones, all the way down to budget friendly options. We’ve already taken a look at the best phones you can buy on Verizon, and now it’s AT&T’s turn.

We’re taking a look at the best phones on AT&T in pricing categories: phones above $150, those under $150, and those under $50. We’re talking about on-contract pricing here, so don’t get too excited! We have, however, listed the off-contract prices for your convenience. Also, the prices listed here are all from AT&T directly, so you may be able to find them cheaper on Amazon!

Editors note – we will be updating this list as more devices hit the market.


Best phones above $150

#1 – Samsung Galaxy Note 4

Last year’s Note 3 was a beast of a phone, and somehow Samsung managed to make it better. Thanks to it’s 5.7-inch Quad HD Super AMOLED screen, big 3220mAh battery, and 16MP rear-facing camera, the Galaxy Note 4 is meant to draw in just about everyone. It’s running Android 4.4.4 KitKat, and should be updated to Lollipop sometime in the near future.

If you’re thinking about picking one up, however, that comes at a big price. $299.99 will get you the phone when you sign a 2-year contract with AT&T, or if you want it off-contract, it will cost you $825.99.

The Note 4 is the best Samsung has to offer, and is one of our favorite phones of 2014.

Specs

  • 5.7-inch Super AMOLED display with 1440 x 2560 resolution
  • 2.7GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 805 CPU
  • 3GB of RAM
  • 32GB of on-board storage, microSD expansion up to 128GB
  •  16MP rear cam, 3.7MP front cam
  • Removable 3220 mAh battery
  • 153.5 x 78.6 x 8.5 mm, 176g
  • Frosted White, Charcoal Black, Bronze Gold, or Blossom Pink
  • Android 4.4.4 KitKat (Lollipop update coming down the pipeline)

Read more

Buy now from $299.99


#2 – Google Nexus 6

The Nexus 6 is a staple on any list of top Android handsets of the moment regardless of the carrier, looming large both literally and through what it represents – Google’s vision of what Android software should be like and what hardware that software needs in order to truly shine. That’s always been the case with Nexus devices, but the Motorola-made Nexus 6 is nothing like the understated Nexus 5, which almost vanished in the background to let Android shine through. The Nexus 6 is big and powerful; it makes a statement about its user and it turns heads.

The biggest drawback of the Nexus 6 is the one that makes it stand out – with its six inches display, the Nexus 6 will never be a good choice for everyone. However, if you’re fine with the size, there’s a lot to like about this phone – the screen is amazing, the processing package is top-notch, the camera is powerful, and build quality is as good as any. Plus, even if Motorola and other phonemakers are upping their updates game, Nexus is still the way to go if you like your phones up to date.

It is worth noting that the AT&T model does have some carrier branding, but otherwise is the same as the Nexus 6 you’d get unlocked or through any other carrier. As for pricing? The phone will set you back $249.99 with a two year contract, or $682.99 outright.

Specs

  • 5.96-inch Super AMOLED display with 1440 x 2560 resolution
  • 2.7GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 805 CPU
  • 3GB of RAM
  • 32/64GB of on-board storage, non-expandable
  • 13MP rear cam, 2MP front cam
  • Non-removable 3220 mAh battery
  • 159.3 x 83 x 10.1 mm, 184g
  • Midnight Blue, Cloud White
  • Android 5.0 Lollipop

Read more

Buy now from $249.99


#3 – LG G3

At the time of it’s release, the G3 had some of the best specs on a smartphone to date. It made headlines as the first phone to boast a Quad HD display, and along with it came a big 3000 mAh battery. The massive (at the time) screen, powerful 2.5GHz processor, and sleek build quality became a force to be reckoned with amongst other flagships.

You can pick up the G3 for $199.99 with a two-year contract, or $579.99 off-contract. This is still a great option for people who want a great big screen without making too many sacrifices.

Specs

  • 5.5-inch LCD display with 1440 x 2560 resolution
  • 2.5GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 CPU
  • 2/3GB of RAM (depending on storage option)
  • 16/32GB of on-board storage, microSD expansion up to 128GB
  • 13MP rear cam, 2.1MP front cam
  • Removable 3000mAh battery
  • 146.3 x 74.6 x 8.9 mm, 149g
  • Metallic Black, Silk White, Shine Gold, Moon Violet, Burgundy Red, Blue Steel
  • Android 4.4.4 KitKat (Lollipop update coming down the pipeline)

Read more

Buy now for a penny!


Best phones under $150

#1 – Motorola Moto X (2nd Gen.)

The successor the the first Moto X brings a bump up in almost every specification, while keeping its modest stature. With the original X, Motorola didn’t set out to make the phone with the best internals… they set out to show the market that a phone can still be great while dialing down in the spec department. This is something we need to remember when talking about the Moto X (2014). It still has an impressive build, great screen, and a comfortable in-hand feel. With the added bonus of customizing your phone however you’d like, this is the perfect phone for anyone who wants a truly personal device.

The Moto X (2nd Generation) can be purchased from AT&T for $99.99 with a two-year agreement, or $526.99 contract-free. If you want to check it out, make sure to go through Moto Maker to build your phone exactly how you want it. For those looking to save even more, however, Amazon has the phone right now for just a penny with contract!

Specs

  • 5.2-inch AMOLED display with 1080 x 1920 resolution
  • 2.5GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 CPU
  • 2GB of RAM
  • 16/32GB of on-board storage (no microSD slot)
  • 13MP rear cam, 2MP front cam
  • Non-removable 2300 mAh battery
  • 140.8 x 72.4 x 10 mm, 144g
  • Customizable via Moto Maker
  • Water resistant
  • Qi wireless charging
  • Android 4.4.4 KitKat (Lollipop update coming very soon)

Read more

Buy now for a penny!


#2 – Samsung Galaxy Note 3

What was arguably the biggest change in design in the Note line, Samsung’s Galaxy Note 3 began getting us really excited about big phones. It’s big battery, super fast Snapdragon 800 processor, and 1080p screen made for a worthy successor to the original Note. Due to constant feedback on their previously used materials, Samsung went with a nice, faux-leather back that really made it feel like a premium notebook.

The Galaxy Note 3 is available on-contract at AT&T for $149.99, and off-contract for $564.99. The Note 3 is a really great phone. It was one of our favorite phone of last year, and continues to stay a strong contender in AT&T’s lineup. If you’re looking for a (relatively) inexpensive phablet, the Note 3 is for you.

Specs

  • 5.7-inch Super AMOLED display with 1080 x 1920 resolution
  • 2.3GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 CPU
  • 3GB of RAM
  • 32GB on-board storage, microSD expansion up to 64GB
  • 13MP rear cam, 2MP front cam
  • Removable 3200mAH battery
  • 151.2 x 79.2 x 8.3 mm, 168g
  • Jet Black, Classic White, Blush Pink
  • Android 4.4.4 KitKat (Lollipop update coming down the pipeline)

Read more

Buy now for a penny!


#3 – HTC Desire EYE

Some could argue that the HTC Desire EYE is a niche device, though we’d beg to differ. The Desire EYE has some pretty decent specifications, toting a Snapdragon 801 processor, 1080p screen, microSD card expansion, and… oh yeah, a 13MP front-facing camera. If it weren’t for the camera, this would still be a worthy phone for your 2-year contract. It flies through HTC’s Sense and has a great in-hand feel.

Our only gripe with the phone is the quality of the cameras. HTC has never been the camera giant we all want them to be, but we can tell they tried with this one. Both cameras take decent quality photos, but you can still absolutely tell which ones are taken with the front or rear cameras.

In all, though, the Desire EYE is a great, midrange phone that anyone could be happy with. You can pick one up from AT&T for $149.99 on-contract, or for the off-contract price of $549.99.

Specs

  • 5.2-inch Full HD display with 1080 x 1920 resolution
  • 2.3GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 CPU
  • 2GB of RAM
  • 16G of on-board storage, microSD expansion up to 128GB
  • 13MP rear cam, 13MP front cam
  • Non-removable 2400mAh battery
  • 151.7 x 73.8 x 8.5 mm, 154g
  • Blue, Red, White
  • Android 4.4.2 KitKat (Lollipop update coming down the pipeline)

Read more

Buy now from $149.99


Best phones under $50

#1 – Moto X (1st Gen.)

Ah, the memories. Motorola aimed to show us that they could make an inexpensive phone with midrange specifications that performed as well as the competition. They managed to succeed with the Moto X. Many people grew very fond of this device thanks to it’s smaller-than-usual 4.7-inch screen, stock Android software, and that weird dimple on the back that fits your index finger just right. All of these features coupled with Motorola’s own software enhancements (Active Display, Touchless Control, Moto Assist), made for one heck of a great phone. It wasn’t the best phone on the market, spec-wise. But it didn’t need to be. It didn’t have tons of extra software features that nobody needs, nor did it have a nice 1080p display. The Moto X will continue to be one of our favorite Android phones of all time.

If you’d like to purchase one from AT&T, the on-contract price is $49.99, or the off-contract price is $399.99. If these specifications aren’t quite enough for you, however, we’d recommend heading over to see the Moto X (2nd Gen.).

Specs

  • 4.7-inch AMOLED display with 720 x 1280 resolution
  • 1.7GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro CPU
  • 2GB of RAM
  • 16/32/64GB on-board storage (no microSD slot)
  • 10MP rear cam, 2MP front cam
  • Non-removable 2200mAh battery
  • 129.3 x 65.3 x 10.4 mm, 130g
  • Customizable via Moto Maker
  • Android 4.4.4 KitKat (Lollipop update coming down the pipeline)

Read more

Buy now for a penny!


#2 – Moto G 4G LTE

att-moto-g-lte

Not to be confused with the 2nd gen Moto G or even the original, the Moto G 4G LTE model was introduced between these two generations packing the same overall specs as the original, but with a few changes including microSD and support for LTE.

Aside from this, you get the same 4.5-inch 720p display, a Snapdragon 400 CPU with 1GB RAM and everything else you’d expect from the original Moto G. Unfortunately you don’t see the camera or display size upgrades found on the newer Moto G, though this is still a heck of a device even now.

Specs

  • 4.5-inch LCD display with 1280 x 720 resolution
  • 1.2GHz Qualcomm quad-core Snapdragon 400 CPU
  • 1GB of RAM
  • 3G/GSM
  • 4G LTE and microSD
  • 8GB and 16GB storage options
  • 5MP rear cam, 1.3MP front cam
  • 2070 mAh battery
  • 143g weight, 129.9 x 65.9 x 11.6mm
  • Removable colored backs
  • Android 4.4 KitKat

Read more

Buy now for $.99


#3 – LG G Vista

att-lg-vista

For users who value multimedia capabilities over other things, the Vista is a great choice. It has a 5.7-inch screen that’s great for watching movies or shows, a surprisingly great 8MP camera, and has a big, removable battery for the road warriors out there. If you don’t mind the 8GB of internal storage and 720p display, the Vista may be the one for you. And if you need to consider price when purchasing your next device, it’s pretty darn cheap.

The LG G Vista is $49.99 with a contract through AT&T, or $354.99 without one.

Specs

  • 5.7-inch IPS LCD display with 720 x 1280 resolution
  • 1.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 CPU
  • 1.5GB of RAM
  • 8GB of on-board storage, microSD expansion up to 32GB
  • 8MP rear cam, 1.3MP front cam
  • Removable 3200 mAh battery
  • 152.1 x 79.2 x 9.1 mm, 167g
  • Metallic Black
  • Android 4.4.2 KitKat

Buy now for a penny!


How do like our list? Is there any device you’d add or remove when it comes to pricing categories? Let us know your opinions in the comments!

Deal: get a Galaxy S5 for $1 on contract (AT&T, Verizon, Sprint) from Amazon

Posted by wicked November - 24 - 2014 - Monday Comments Off

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Black Friday is looming, but you don’t have to wait until November 28 to benefit from great technology deals, as discounts and promos are already out in force.

Case in point, Amazon is offering the great Samsung Galaxy S5 for just one dollar on contract, with an AT&T, Verizon, or Sprint agreement. Normally, Samsung’s flagship would cost you $199 with a two-year contract on either of these three carriers, or you’d have to sign up for a monthly installment plan to get if for free.

The deal is valid for several models of the Galaxy S5 (16GB), as well as the rugged Galaxy S5 Active (AT&T) and Galaxy S5 Sport (Sprint).

Featuring a waterproof construction, a beautiful Full HD screen, and a panoply of hardware features, the Galaxy S5 remains an excellent device to this day. For details about the Galaxy S5, check out our in-depth review and our tag page. The promo is valid until tomorrow, November 25!

Interested in this deal?

Samsung may be planning to replace its head of mobile division

Posted by wicked November - 24 - 2014 - Monday Comments Off

MK-CQ969_SAMSUN_9U_20141123190036 The Wall Street Journal

Samsung makes many mobile machines. Within the time it takes someone to repeat that phrase ten times fast, chances are the Korean company will have either announced or released a new product. Having been the top dog for so many years now, Samsung is facing increased competition from OEMs around the world, something quite visible with last quarter’s tumultuous financial turnout.

Having previously announced a plan to reduce handset product lines in the coming year and a pledge to new forms of devices, Samsung may now be seeking to restructure its executive management. According to a story by The Wall Street Journal, Co-CEO B. K. Yoon may be taking over the mobile division, with J. K. Shin, fresh from his recent pay cut, may be going elsewhere. Yoon is currently in charge of home appliances and television products, and thus WSJ speculates this could foster a more connected relationship between the digital device families.

Spigen Screen Protector 9H Strong Surface Samsung Galaxy S5-1

While the restructuring talks are off the record at the moment, chances are something will come up sooner or later. These days more drastic measures are necessary to compete with the growing presence of Chinese OEMs, especially Xiaomi, which last quarter saw its share of global sales increase to the #3 spot.

There are already rumors floating around about the Galaxy S6, but even if the flagship is everything one could hope for and more, there is still a very high probability it won’t perform in the market as well as the S3 or S4 because of the presence of cheaper rival products. Likewise, Samsung’s strong hold in the Chinese and Indian markets has severely diminished as of late.

T-Mobile is excited to announce its Nexus 6 has no branding or bloat

Posted by wicked November - 23 - 2014 - Sunday Comments Off

nexus 6 review aa (14 of 14)

Brands. Some people love them, some people hate them. For companies however, brand logos are like endless free advertising. In the mobile world, brand awareness can get pretty noticeable if not downright obscene. Like two birds of a feather, these logos often flock with a lot of bonus software: things that most people commonly refer to as bloat. Put the branding and bloat together and let’s just say things are not pretty.

Google’s Nexus line is unfortunately no stranger to either once carriers get involved, however, things were a bit better with the LG devices. While AT&T has gotten all warm and cuddly with the new Nexus 6, T-Mobile is openly proclaiming its right to be out-of-sight.

In a recent post on Google Plus, T-Mobile Senior Product Manager Des Smith offered some peace of mind for the Un-carrier’s customers:

No Corporate Logo, No Bloatware, no crap you don’t want on the #Nexus6 from +T-Mobile​: That’s Un-carrier – listening to our customers and giving them what they want, not sticking a stupid corporate logo and a bunch of crap software I know you guys don’t want on your #Nexus device.

We know you guys buy a #Nexus6 to avoid that kind of thing!

Google did want to highlight the Virtual Preload (VPL) capabilities on Lollipop, so we made MyAccount available if you want it… But you can totally delete it. That’s what we do.

Hope you like what we’ve chosen to do there (or more importantly, what we’ve chosen not to do

While some users might not care either way (especially if they plan to put their mammoth mammal phablet in a case), there is something downright pernicious about carriers stamping their name on a device that is suppose to be unadulterated and “pure”. To this end, T-Mobile must be applauded for putting the customer first. Good job guys. Now the only thing stopping people from enjoying this vanilla experience is actually getting their hands on one. (eBay prices are just outrageous!)

Samsung Galaxy Note Edge review

Posted by wicked November - 22 - 2014 - Saturday Comments Off

The Bottom Line

PROS
  • Curved screen is first of its kind in the market
  • Note 4 design returns, until you get to the right side
  • Performance is top tier
  • Camera is still quite powerful
  • When the curve proves useful, it's great
  • Hardware offerings are robust
  • S Pen is still its ace in the hole
CONS
  • The curved display remains weird even after you get used to it
  • Ergonomics take a hit when the curve is factored in
  • When the edge doesn't work, it's infuriating
  • High cost brings the curve's existence into question
8.7

The Galaxy Note Edge is unique, but that might not be enough for many.

Up until recently, most smartphones have generally had the same form factor – a slab of glass, surrounded by a square body – and that gets boring. It’s not often that we see a new form factor readily available for the public to purchase. In fact, it almost never happens when it comes to the smartphone world. Believing that the industry needed a slight push on the hardware front, Samsung announced something very cool alongside the Galaxy Note 4, back at IFA 2014.

That device is the Galaxy Note Edge. It resembles the Note 4, but it’s still different. Instead of offering a plain slab of glass on the front, the side of the display gently curves around the right edge. Samsung is obviously trying to push the boundaries on how we use our devices, but is that enough to warrant purchasing this device over the Galaxy Note 4? Does it offer enough of a mainstream feature that people will get behind?

Find out this, and more, in our Samsung Galaxy Note Edge review!

Design

samsung galaxy note edge review aa (4 of 26)

Here is where the Note Edge really stands out from the competition. It looks exactly like a Galaxy Note 4, but with one huge change. Obviously we’re talking about the right edge of the display. It changes the way we use the phone, sure, but in all other aspects, you can absolutely tell that it’s a Note device. The Edge uses the same faux-leather back, glossy-plastic front (complete with a big, tactile home button), and brushed-metallic sides as the Note 4.

The right side of the device almost looks as if someone melted the glass and let it cool. The curve is where we see the new handling experience that the Edge brings, in software and in hardware. Due to the added slippery-ness of the edge, there’s a slight lip on the screen, which Samsung hopes will help aid in holding it. Although we haven’t dropped the phone quite yet, we’re even more nervous to than on most other phones. Now that the display wraps around to two edges of the device, there much more of a chance of cracking it once it’s dropped. Since the right edge is the main feature of the phone, cracking it would be detrimental to the user experience.

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The button layout has been switched up quite a bit on the Edge, moving the power button to the top of the device. It’s definitely a change, especially since basically every other Samsung phone has had the power button on the right side. Waking the device is still very easy, thanks to the tactile home button, but it’s still odd getting used to reaching up top to put it in standby.

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The other edges of the device still have the brushed-metallic look to them, and gives the Edge a nice, premium feel in-hand. The back is still removable, and covered in the familiar faux-leather plastic backing from the other Note devices. We’re happy Samsung decided to include a removable back and premium materials around the device, as it still makes for one heck of a great feeling phone.

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Let’s be honest, this device looks weird. A good kind of weird, though. It generates a lot of looks from people, and is usually followed up with, “What’s going on with your phone?” Albeit generally positive reactions, it still gets a lot of looks in public. Let’s just say that this device has piqued our interest in terms of design. We aren’t picking it up everyday because it’s the best all-around device, but mainly because it’s something new. It changes the software and the hardware experience completely, and we’re continually excited to see how it fairs from day to day.

Display

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Obviously the display on the Note Edge is one of the biggest differences between this handset and the more traditional Galaxy Note 4. The 5.6-inch display not only looks unique, it actually has slightly more than a Quad HD resolution at 2560 x 1600. Of course, the 160 extra pixels on the right side of the display don’t really improve the viewing experience in any way, as they are reserved for a number of panels and controls.

The display might have a unique edge to it, but the rest of the characteristics are pretty typical of Samsung, meaning the same signature saturation and high fidelity. Text is sharp as ever, and I still enjoyed media and games just as much as I did on the Note 4. That said, I have to admit that the extra curve can be more than a little distracting at times, and I wasn’t too happy anytime I accidentally triggered it and thus covered a sliver of my Netflix or Youtube video up top.

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Turning to the curve itself, it’s important to note that it can actually turn on independently from the rest of the display. This means you can use the curve as a clock on a night stand, or as a quick way to few basic notifications. Touch sensitivity here is as good as you’d expect, though interaction is limited to swipes and touches.

We’ll get into more details about how the curve changes the experience a bit later in the review. The big takeaway is that, yes, the display has a higher resolution but it really makes no difference in the grand scheme of things.

Performance

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The influence of the Edge’s sibling returns here with the handset packing the same Snapdragon 805, Adreno 420 CPU and 3GB RAM as the Note 4. Of course, that’s not a bad thing. The Note Edge is absolutely a beast, providing a reliable, enjoyable experience.

Like the Note 4, the Note Edge packs one of the smoothest iterations of TouchWiz to date. While there are rare moment of stutter or lag, they are few and far between. In other words, no matter what you throw at it, the Note Edge should be able to take it all in stride.

The new addition of the panels in the curve don’t detract from the general experience found the device either, as everything still runs smoothly. I do notice that some new animations have been added in to draw attention to the side, as all of the apps slide in from the edge – but these are just aesthetic changes.

Hardware

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Apart from the curved display and its capabilities, the Galaxy Note Edge basically offers everything you’d get with its flagship sibling, making this one of the most feature-packed devices currently available as well. Usual Samsung features such as removable back cover, that gives you access to the replaceable battery, SIM slot, and microSD card slot, make a return here.

Call quality is decent, and while the external speaker does get quite loud, it is plagued with the issues that affect any speaker that is placed at the back of the phone. Recent Samsung additions like the heart rate monitor and the multiple microphone setup, that helps with recording specific parts of the sound spectrum, also make a return with the Note Edge.

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Of course, the main draw with any Note device is the S-Pen stylus, that provides precision usage and note taking abilities, like easily clipping parts of the screen for later usage, access to the S Note, and the Action Memo. The  S-Pen itself has also been enhanced to allow for an even finer writing experience. The S-Note application now comes with Photo Note, that captures the lines and designs of any scene, and makes them editable, which is great for making signs, blackboards, or any presentation open to your creativity. Everything said and done, while the S-Pen can prove to be an integral feature of the Galaxy Note Edge, it does feel somewhat weird, especially when you, literally, fall off the edge.

As expected from a device with such a large form factor, the battery life is quite impressive. The 3,000 mAh unit lasted for around four hours of screen-on time, with the standby time and other power consumption features allowing me to reach at least a day and a half of usage on multiple occasions. While my usage might have been a little higher than most, what is appreciated is Samsung’s fast charging capabilities, that allows you to recharge the device very quickly.

Camera

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Keeping with the Galaxy Note 4 specifications, the Note Edge features a 16 MP rear shooter, bringing with the expected Samsung quality, and various modes to videos. That said, I still had quite a significant problem with the handling experience.

With the Note Edge, a lot of the controls that are used with various applications have been moved to the “curve,” which is actually quite useful, but proves to be a terrible idea in the case of using the camera. While you still get access to some on-screen buttons to adjust the settings, the controls and the quick settings are all on the curved edge, whose ergonomics are unfortunately just not made for smartphone camera shooting.

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I was never able to snap photos with one hand, as reaching the shutter button was quite awkward, and constantly resulted in a feeling of the phone falling. The placement of the controls don’t destroy the experience entirely, but this is certainly an example of how an innovation like this does need a lot more thought put into it.

The quality of photos taken still remain the same however, including high levels of saturation that makes for overly vivid photos, which are nonetheless received well by the general user. Various modes are available, including HDR and Selective Focus, which does end up being a hit or miss feature. Low light performance is somewhat helped by the optical image stabilization, but photos do lose detail and get quite grainy the darker the situation becomes. That said, the pictures are still reliably good in well lit situations, which should be pleasing for most users.

Software

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Finally, when it comes to software, TouchWiz makes a return in all its glory, but now with a new element to accommodate with the curved screen. Before we get to the curve, the software experience that we’ve covered in the Galaxy Note 4 review continues here, especially with regards to multi-tasking. While TouchWiz has seen an update with regards to its aesthetics, there is still an over saturation of available features, as you will see in an overly long Setting list. The ease of multi-tasking is a focus with the latest iteration of TouchWiz, and is clearly seen in the new Recent Apps screen, which also includes a new button to quickly trigger the Multi-Window feature. All the numerous multi-tasking features all make an appearance with the Note Edge as well.

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Multi-tasking is of course a very a big part of the Note experience, is actually at its most capable on the Note Edge, especially when you factor in the curved edge. A panel full of icons or folders that you can customize allow for shortcuts to your favorite apps at all times, which is one of my favorite aspects of this new curved display. A variety of other panel specifications like data tracking, a dedicated news ticker, one that will show notifications in real-time, and a ruler for quickly measuring anything are available here. You also have the ability to personalize the panel in which you have the ability to include a small phrase or drawing, to truly make the “edge” your own. The curve also ends up being the control panel for most applications, but this does end up being annoying in some cases. While not having the controls on screen while watching videos is appreciated, the horrible camera controls are a let down.

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The software does use the curve to a good extent, even if not every situation yields a good experience. It definitely is a great place to put perpetual shortcuts, and a good way to easily check the time, but whether these features are enough to justify the need of an “edge” is still unknown.

Gallery

Pricing and final thoughts

Pricing does prove to be an issue in the case of the Galaxy Note Edge, with the device on occasion costing $150 more than the Galaxy Note 4, which is essentially the same device, save for the edge. Whether that edge is enough to justify the difference in price is entirely up to you, but all said done, the overall experience is mostly the same with the comparatively cheaper Galaxy Note 4.

So there you have it – the Samsung Galaxy Note Edge! Different, is the best way to describe the experience while using the Galaxy Note Edge. While the steep price point of this smartphone is certainly a drawback, the allure of something new is definitely undeniable. While the differences between the Galaxy Note Edge and the Galaxy Note 4 may not be enough to justify the signifcant difference in price, if you’re someone who is craving exclusivity, and basically just want something unique, the Galaxy Note Edge may just be the device you seek.

What do you think is the best phone of the year?

Posted by wicked November - 21 - 2014 - Friday Comments Off

samsung galaxy note 4 vs galaxy s5 quick look aa (1 of 7)

Every Friday for well over a year, we’ve expressed our team’s thoughts on various Android-related issues in a feature series we call Friday Debate. Generally speaking, the format has changed very little since its inception. This week, however, we’re switching things up a little bit.

While we’ll still focus on one topic and post responses from our team members, we also are now involving the community as well! Ahead of this article, we asked our forum users the question “What do you consider the best smartphone of the year? Do you have a favorite tablet?” And we received quite a few solid responses. While all the responses were well thought out and worth reading (click here to see them all), we’ll showcase two of the responses that we really felt stood out:

Cowen K. Gittens

Google Nexus 6. Why? Because it’s just awesome.

First of all, it comes with stock Android 5.0 Lollipop right out of the box, with future proof capabilities. This means that you won’t only be first to get Lollipop, but you’ll also get other Android updates in the future. And that’s what I like the most about the Nexus 6.

I was a really big fan of Samsung. I had their Galaxy S3, which at the time was probably the best phone to get. I was more than disappointed when they announced that the S3 I9300, one of Samsung’s best selling flagship smartphones, wasn’t getting an update to KitKat. So knowing that there’s a smartphone out there that will get stock android updates, instead of depending on third parties custom ROMS and launchers, gives me some sort of peace of mind.

Then comes the 13MP camera. From the Shootout done by Android Authority’s Joshua Vegera, the picture qualities are pretty impressive. Maybe not the best, but good enough for me to want to have the phone. I am also interested in the phone’s front facing speakers. Maybe they aren’t as premium as HTC’s, but they seem to produce excellent quality.

Another thing that impressed me about the Nexus 6 is it’s battery life and fast charging capabilities. If I can get at least 6-8 hours of a lot of usage on any device, think that’ll work wonders for me.

The only deterrent I have in regards to the Nexus 6 is the pricing. But considering it’s premium qualities and capabilities compared to other flagship devices from it’s competitors, I think it’s worth the extra cash.

The Pikachu Mafia

For me, the best power house phone of the year is a toss up between the Droid Turbo, the Note 4, and the Nexus 6. If I had to pick just one however, I would probably end up going with the Note 4 (I’m just going to write off Droid Turbo now because you can only get it through Verizon, ewwww). Please bear in mind though that the Nexus 6 is extremely competitive with the Note 4 in my eyes, also I do not own either phone so this is just speculation based off of what I’ve read.

For starters I think the screen size on the Note 4 is better than the Nexus 6. Six inches of real estate screen space is a lot, and takes some getting used to. I have medium sized hands so I think I could manage, but I could certainly see people with smaller hands struggling to use it. In terms of specs, both phones are very similar as well: both have 2K displays, Snapdragon 805 processors, and large batteries that can get you through the day. Samsung also has its signature removable battery and expandable storage. The Nexus 6 does have better sounds quality thanks to its front facing speakers, and I hate how most OEMs put their speakers on the back or bottom. However, it’s not necessarily as huge of a selling point for me personally because I would probably have some in ear headphones on a good amount of the time.

On the other hand, what is a huge selling point for me is that camera. Both phone lines have done a lot to increase the quality of their cameras over the years, however I think the Note 4 does take the edge from various photos I’ve seen on the web. OIS seems to work pretty well on the Note 4. I also kind of like my photos a bit over saturated most of the time, and I think the HDR shots come out better on Samsung’s phone as well. It comes with the S Pen as well, which is a cool little gimmick and a great asset to artists or people who love to multitask.

Not having Lollipop out of the box is of course a downside, although in a few months I believe that will be a moot point. I know that doesn’t change the here and now, but in retrospect it’s not quite as big of an issue. Not getting updates immediately is a downside, however. Overall both phones are amazing and either one could easily be seen as better. They both have their pros/cons and honestly I could see myself changing my opinion to the Nexus 6 in the future because that’s just how close they are in my eyes!

What Team AA has to say

Now that you’ve had a look at what some of our community members think, it’s time for Team AA to weigh in:

Jonathan Feist

I refuse to answer the question of what I think is the number one Android phone of 2014 without mentioning more than one phone. There are strengths in each device, and weaknesses, but more importantly, most of my choices serve a slightly different purpose and certainly mean different things to different people and the industry.

Enough with the stalling, you want to know what I consider the number one Android phone of 2014? The original (2013) Motorola Moto G. Initially released in November of 2013, the Moto G barely had the chance to change the world by the time ‘best of 2013′ lists began rolling out. But change the world it has. As the number one selling Motorola handset of all time, and perhaps the best bang for the buck Android device on the market (even compared to the 2nd Gen. Moto G (2014), at least until 16GB/32GB models come along,) I believe the Moto G has made the most impact on the most Android users this year.

Now, the Moto G is certainly not the most powerful phone, or a phone that shook things up in any way, but it has become a solid reference device, one that I think has reached more users in more ways than even the Nexus 5, in all its glory. Of course, the Nexus 5 could have easily been my choice here today, but I do not believe it made it as far outside of our Android enthusiast community as it could have.

As mentioned, I need to talk about more phones, namely, the OnePlus One and the Nexus 6.

The Nexus 6 is pretty much the most powerful device around, and certainly one of the largest Android phones expected to slide into a person’s pocket. Google has a history of dropping Nexus device after Nexus device that basically rode the wave of technology, releasing with very respectable specs for their time – no other Nexus device has managed to cause such a stir as the Nexus 6.

We’ll leave the conversation for another time, but in releasing a monster of a powerhouse phone, Google’s Nexus 6, built by Motorola, if you needed a reminder, is the first Nexus device that feels like a consumer release, as opposed to being a developer release. Like it or not, that is a huge shift in ideals, well suited to such a huge phone.

Finally, that OnePlus One. Now, bare with me a moment, I do not wish to suggest that the phone, the One itself, is the phone of the year, and I certainly do not want to suggest that OnePlus is the vendor of the year, but what a difference they have made.

OnePlus set out to shake up the industry with their onslaught of “Never Settle” campaigns and social media wins, and losses. While it is my opinion that the phone they pushed out was good, it certainly wasn’t great. On the same note, never settling typically referred to the specs of a device compared to its price, but it is hard to recommend the hassle involved to actually purchase a One, instead of just grabbing something close in price, like the Nexus 5 or original Moto X.

Despite what I perceive as OnePlus failing to reach their goals, I still believe their alternative approach made an impact. No, not on the industry exactly, rather, on consumers. Android consumers were presented with a high-end device at a very reasonable price, and while this may not have stopped many from purchasing phones that sold up to the $1000 mark, it certainly made some people stop to think about what they needed out of a phone.

It may be a stretch to suggest that some of the success of the Moto G is due to people looking at expensive phones, comparing them to the OnePlus One, getting frustrated by the process and walking over to the sub-$200 handset instead, but I know it has happened.

This is why the Moto G is my choice for best Android smartphone of 2014. Plainly put, if you need a solid Android device that will not steer you wrong, that will not break the bank, offers no controversy and only compromises in ways that do not detract from the experience, leaving buyers with little to no regrets, the 2013 Moto G is as good an option as you’re likely to find.

Of course, the Moto G wins this award somewhat posthumously. It is still a solid device, but newer hardware may be the better choice for purchase as we move into 2015.

Eric McBride

I can hardly believe that I’m saying this, but for me personally, I have a clear winner for the best phone of 2014. As a matter of fact, even with all the great devices that have arrived in 2014, this device (for me personally) still has no competition.

The Samsung Galaxy Note 4 is my CLEAR winner for best phone of 2014, and here are my reasons why.

Ever since the arrival of the Galaxy Note 1, I saw very early that the Note line was going to make a massive splash. When I had the Note 1, people were like “what in the name of Odin is that?”. When I moved to the Note 2, people responded with “wow, it’s a huge Galaxy S phone, but looks much better than the one you had before”. On to the Note 3 and people were saying,”boah, it’s big, but that is one sexy….phone?”. The Note 4 basically took the Note 3 and its features, sprinkled some more awesomesauce on top, and the end result is simply stunning.

The Note 4 to me is Samsung’s real flagship. Yes I said it. Premium design, great hardware, and…brace yourselves (as 2 years ago I would have called this blasphemy)…Touchwiz at it’s finest. Now I know what you may be thinking: “There are phones out there now with better hardware”. That may (arguably) be true, but there is one component that makes the Note 4 so great, and I again actually can’t believe that I’m saying this:

The S-pen is not only great, but I’m using it ALL THE TIME.

I have owned 14 Android devices, so it’s not like I’m someone that only rides the Samsung wave. But I simply cannot believe that no other OEM has came up with their own stylus software like Samsung has. With the Note 1 and 2, I rarely used the pen and was more interested in the size and specs. With 187 games installed on my phone, performance and screen size means something to me after all. The Note 1 and 2 provided both. But with my Note 3, I find myself literally using the Spen on a daily basis, and am still dumbfounded that nobody else has developed a phablet with such capabilites.

Now to be fair, I don’t have a Note 4. Will I be buying one? No I won’t, simply because the ROM I run on my Note 3 gives me so many Note 4 features (stay tuned for details on how to get that) that I can’t justify the upgrade. I can tell you now that the Note 4 Spen capability has sold me beyond belief, and that in all honesty, I’m already 90% sure that my next phone will be the Note 5 (unless someone else comes out with a device with similar features). Don’t get me wrong…the Note 4 has some things hardware wise that I would love to have (mainly image stabilization on a hardware level vs software), but I still consider it a minor upgrade if you have a ROOTED Note 3 that can take advantage of Note 4 features.

Samsung has done a hell of a job with this device. Some of the best hardware in the world, great build quality, an ever improving and evolving Touchwiz (which will probably be even better with Lollipop), and an Spen that allows me to do things that no other phone can do. And that’s the bottom line. There might be phones out there just as big or bigger, some a tad faster, some cheaper (way cheaper actually) and some of better build quality, but in terms of offering features that no other phone can accomplish that I actually use, nothing in my eyes comes close to the Note 4.

Matthew Benson

My pick for best phone in 2014 is something that was announced in 2013 (and released, but only in Korea). It was also heavily ridiculed by those who didn’t get it, as a banana phone or novelty item. Yes, I’m talking about none other than the LG G Flex! Despite my having used an insane number of phones in the past year alone, the G Flex has stood out on so many different levels. In particular:

(1) The shape/screen: Sure its not 1080p, but there is something undeniably amazing about a plastic LED. When set to Vivid mode, the display looks almost as saturated as an SAMOLED panel. Likewise, the curve of the phone is both visually impressive, and lends itself quite well to the larger size, as it’s easier to hold and manage.

(2) The software: I know this is going to incite the ire of countless Android purists, but if you ask me, the modified LG skin variant seen on the G Flex is actually everything TouchWiz should be but isn’t. The sheer customization alone is wonderful: you can actually change the layout of the software navigation keys for starters. Then there is the fact that every icon can be replaced with whatever you like. Finally, the default Dark theme looks wonderful if you ask me.

(3) The battery: Hands down the most impressive thing about this phone was the power cell giving it life. I have this ongoing problem with the devices I use: they never live up to the estimates. Even when reading or watching hardware reviews and hearing about how Device X provides Y hours of battery life, it never holds true for me. Heck, last Saturday I had to charge my Nexus 9 twice and by the end of the day it was almost ready for a 3rd time. Maybe it’s because I buy imported devices and therefore they aren’t designed for optimal Japanese frequencies. Maybe I am just unlucky. Either way, the G Flex is just AMAZING. The battery, which LG developed specifically for the phone, can last me a day and a half, if not two, WITH normal/heavy usage. Given the screen size in particular, that is a darn impressive accomplishment.

If I had to pick a runner-up, it would be the Galaxy Note Edge, if only for its interesting use of the Edge display. Still, I had some minor issues with said second screen at times, and the battery and software really don’t hold a candle to the Flex.

Robert Triggs

I’m having a hard time picking a favourite this year. Not because there aren’t any good smartphones, there are plenty, but because none of them are really exemplary. I mean, where’s the excitement?

To me, it seems that the big OEMs are quite happy to rehash the same “perfected” formula from last year. It might produce good phones, but it’s cheap and lazy. So instead, I’m going to award my phone of the year to one that has tried to push the envelope, even though it might not be the most popular handset out there.

My favourite phone this year is the Oppo N3, its hardware competes with the vast majority of other flagships and Oppo has managed to cram in more features than a Swiss Army knife. The swiveling camera hasn’t changed too much from last time, but the remote control option is great for capturing the perfect remote shot. That little O-Click remote is a great addition that I’m surprised no-one else is using. Controlling your music from afar is genuinely useful, as it being able to locate your phone remotely, at least if you’re as forgetful as me.

The fingerprint scanner is also more practical than a lot of other designs, unlocking your phone with a simple touch rather than tedious swipe. Color OS 2.0 may not be perfect, but again the features are put to good use rather than just pointless add-ons. Gesture shortcuts are a particularly useful feature that I try to emulate myself with Nova Launcher.

The N3 doesn’t have the very best hardware, the best looks, and isn’t best value for money, but Oppo has probably tried harder than anyone else to improve over last year’s flagship.

Joe Hindy

This is such a complicated question because there is no clear definition of what makes a phone great, let alone the best. Do we judge by camera, screen, specs, price, or what kind of Android it is running? It could be anything! Much like Jon above, I simply can’t imagine trying to pick out just one phone or tablet, so I will pick out three of each.

Best budget phone and tablet: Moto G and Nexus 7 2013. Both devices will get Lollipop which is not usually the case with budget phones and while the specs are a tad outdated, the price/performance ratio is quite good. Especially with the Moto G. While I’m not a carrier of the “stock Android flag”, I do believe that on budget devices, the less impact OEMs have on the already taxed hardware, the better. Both of these devices run stock (or at least, very close to stock) Android which allows their hardware to be relevant even if its past its prime. They’re cheap, they work well, and they do it for a better price than the competition. My runner up for best budget phone goes to the HTC Desire 816. I’m also aware that the Nexus 7 2013 wasn’t actually released this year but it’s still on the market and there haven’t been many $200 tablets that could compete with it on as many levels as it would take to not include the Nexus 7 2013 in my picks.

Best mid range phone and tablet: HTC One M8 and the NVIDIA Shield tablet. Say what? The HTC One M8 is a midrange device? Well, yes and no. If it were a person, it would be “upper middle class” which is still middle class but among the upper echelon of the middle class. It has the price point of a high tier device but it just doesn’t have that “ground and pound oomf” of devices like the Note 4, the Nexus 6, or the Xperia Z3. That said, Boomsound is awesome, the build quality is awesome, the screen is awesome, the camera is passable, the specs are good, and its easily rooted. That’s par for the course. The NVIDIA Shield Tablet is best midrange because of its awesome price point but occasional quality control issues. It’s not a 50/50 gamble or anything absurd but you get the idea. To get to $299 for a 16GB variant, some corners had to be cut somewhere and NVIDIA seems to have cut them in all the right places.

Best high end phone and tablet: The Note 4 and the Nexus 9. The Note 4 is just a grand slam. It’s iterative of the Note 3 (like Rob said) but that doesn’t mean it’s not a glorious device. It’s huge, it has the latest specs, it has S-Pen, and when you have something that beastly, the small issues in Touchwiz seem like much less of a big deal. The Nexus 6 could probably go here as well for you minimalists out there, but feature for feature, pound for pound, the Note 4 seems to do it just a little bit more right in my opinion. The Nexus 9 is the first 64-bit (Android) tablet on the market and that is a big enough deal to have it here. It embodies what the Nexus program set out to do which was create an example from which other OEMs can reference and the Nexus 9 does that in spades. It’s also fairly well priced, has great specs, and will get Android updates for at least a couple of years.

Honorable mentions include the Galaxy S5 in midrange, the Note tablets for high end tablets, OnePlus One in midrange (if only their Q&A were better), the Xperia phones and tablets (pretty much all of them), and of course, the Note Edge.

Now it’s your turn

You’ve heard what some of our forum members think, and the thoughts of our team as well. Now it’s your turn to vote in the poll, and voice out your thoughts in the comments below.

Xiaomi could be world leader five years from now, thinks CEO

Posted by wicked November - 20 - 2014 - Thursday Comments Off

xiaomi ceo lei jun Fortune

If you live outside China, Malaysia, or Singapore, chances are you’re not very familiar with the name Xiaomi. Founded in August 2010, in Q3 2014 the Chinese company was ranked as the 3rd largest mobile OEM in the world. The WORLD. That is no small accomplishment to say the least, with companies like Sony, Motorola, LG, and HTC – all established players – wishing they could have such a coveted position. In fact, even the dominant giant, Samsung, couldn’t pass up the opportunity to scrutinize how the company has managed to be so successful. Then again, for a relatively new company to sell $163 MILLION worth of phones in 12 hours is pretty darn impressive indeed.

Here’s the catch though: Xiaomi isn’t content with its newly acquired bronze placement; it wants gold. It’s so confident, that CEO Lei Jun (currently China’s 23rd richest person) has likened his company to Apple, and proclaimed that it will become top dog within 5-10 years. Even more shocking? Apparently, China’s Steve Jobs may be planning for a global product launch after it reaches #1.

Xiaomi Q3 2014 smartphone sales

Xiaomi’s sales have exploded in 2014

Given the rate at which things are progressing for the fledgling company, it’s safe to say Lei Jun may even best his own expectations, as Xiaomi is now targeting India for domination, along with other fast growing markets like Indonesia, the Philippines, and Brazil. Given the large number of customers there, it’s not unreasonable to assume that next year will see even bigger success and more money rolling in the door. Samsung stands to lose out big-time if more and more large markets fall to its rivals, and, even with a more streamlined product line being planned, it’s difficult to say what will happen. Still, it does have those folding screens on the way, something that Xiaomi apparently doesn’t, though given their potentially high cost, that’s probably going to be a shallow victory at best. Let’s see what the future has in store(s)!

For those who want to get a glimpse of what may come, be sure to check out our in-depth coverage of Xiaomi products and news.

Ericsson projects 6.1 billion smartphone subscribers by the end of 2020

Posted by wicked November - 18 - 2014 - Tuesday Comments Off

You might be forgiven should you look at the current smartphone market and think “this is as good as it gets”. We have QHD screens, 64-Bit CPUs, 4GB of RAM (maybe), displays of all sizes and shapes, and now even wearables to saturate ourselves with. You also might be forgiven should you think this is as much as it matters: smartphones aren’t new anymore, and so chances are most people around you already have one or plan to buy one eventually.

Still, Ericsson has released its November 2014 Mobility Report, indicating (among many things) that 2014 has been a very big year. Take a look:

15627286520_a8660a5394_o Ericsson

As you can see, mobile subscriptions have climbed significantly this year, although the breakdown itself is interesting in terms of exactly what type of subscription we’re talking about here:

15192684513_f434cd781a_o Ericsson

LTE only comprises a tiny fraction of the market, although it’s clearly growing steadily. Instead,  the HSPA/GSM market it just about to hit its peak, with around 2017 beginning the gradual decline. GSM/EDGE-only service has already started its gradual decline.

Perhaps the most interesting chart, however is this one:

screen-shot-2014-11-17-at-11-12-28-pm Ericsson

Quite an incredible projection, to say the least. 6.1 billion smartphone subscriptions by the end of 2020. That is over double the current number, and will in no small way be accomplished by sales in developing countries, including the absolutely massive Chinese market which is already exploding. It’s safe to say that there is big money to be made in the budget arena, providing there’s enough marketing at least.

Please be sure to check the source link for the full details, including many, many graphs and charts about all kinds of mobile related goodness!

Report: Android One not off to a smashing start

Posted by wicked November - 18 - 2014 - Tuesday Comments Off

android one

One. No, not The One, but another One. The ways things are going however, it might as well be The One That Could Have Been. We’re talking about Android One for reference, and, less things change quickly, that Monica(r) is going to be true.

First and foremost, for those that forgot, Android One was announced at Google I/O earlier this year, and with it, a promise that Mountain View would be handling all of the updates for these low-priced devices aimed at developing countries. Though some might not be aware, not one but three One devices launched in India mid-September, but the problem is not one of them has done well. Those trying to find out why need only look at Samsung’s plight: stiff competition.

2.5 percent of phones shipped in India in October were Android One

Consumer sales is a game of numbers, and for the last two weeks of September, a total of 230,000 units running Android One were imported into India. But it gets worse: only 200,000 devices were imported for the entire month of October, according to data shared with The Economic Times by local marketing firm Cybex Exim Solutions. To put things into even better perspective, “for the month of October, roughly 8 million smartphones were shipped into [India], of which Android One would be just about 2.5%,” a source told The Economic Times. Compare this with the extremely rosy expectations that were originally had.

Suffice to say, this is not good. Various conditions seem to have been at play here, including (1) overestimating demand, (2) supply problems from China, (3) extremely limited on-board storage -we’re talking 4GB total- and (4) the fact that said smartphones were initially only sold online. Compare this to any number of similar budget products released by Xiaomi and even Motorola which may have either better features or else lower prices.

Android One 001621

Google of course, remains confident, with a spokesperson reporting”very strong sales and consumer interest”, although Counterpoint Research Analyst Tarun Pathak remarked that, “the USP of Android One such as software updates and other Google services of the device were not publicised. That was another reason for the lukewarm response toward Android One devices.” So, here we have a problem of a sheer lack of marketing, such that consumers may not have realized these budget products were in fact, fully sanctioned Google devices.

Although by no means a decisive loss for the Android One platform, unless sales begin to pick up in the next few months, it’s possible that Google will end-up having to eat crow. As budget products get more consumer friendly, and as large OEMs begin to attach their names to them, the competition will only get more fierce. Likewise, this should be viewed as somewhat of a warning to companies like Samsung, as simply making cheap devices isn’t enough to win over customers.

Sony Xperia Z3v Review

Posted by wicked November - 17 - 2014 - Monday Comments Off

The Bottom Line

Almost as good as the original

PROS
  • Solid build quality
  • Front-facing speakers
  • Vivid display
  • Exceptional battery life
  • Wireless charging
CONS
  • Old design
8.5

While with some differences, if you were hoping to get your hands on the Xperia Z3 in the US at a subsidized rate, the Sony Xperia Z3v, available exclusively from Verizon Wireless, may be your best bet.


Buy now from $199.99

Unless you’re willing to pay full price for an unlocked model, it is otherwise quite difficult to get your hands on Sony smartphones in the US. A lack of network carrier partners is to be blame, but that is slowly changing, with Verizon Wireless having their latest flagship smartphone on offer, albeit with their own twist on it. So how much of a difference is there between the original Xperia Z3 and the Verizon version? We find out in the review of the Sony Xperia Z3v!

Sony Xperia Z3V-30

As mentioned, the Verizon version of the Sony Xperia Z3 is slightly different from the original, with the biggest difference coming in terms of design. While you still get the glass on the back and front, the curved metal frame has been replaced with one that is plastic, with metal inserts, and is a lot more flat, actually reminiscent of the Xperia Z2. This choice in design certainly feels like a step back, considering how great the curved sides of the Xperia Z3 look, but if you prefer a flatter profile, you won’t have much to complain about with the Xperia Z3v. You still get the solid build quality that you’d expect from Sony though, and is still quite thin at 8.9 mm. Great features from the Xperia Z3, such as the front-facing stereo speakers and the IP68 rating for resistance against dust and water, also make their way to this Verizon exclusive.

Sony Xperia Z3V-27

Other than the differences in design, the Xperia Z3v is largely identical to its namesake, boasting the same 5.2-inch 1080p IPS LCD display, and packing a quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 processor, clocked at 2.5 GHz, the Adreno 330 GPU, and 3 GB of RAM. This processing package, coupled with Sony’s minimalistic software experience, results in the smooth and seamless performance that you’d expect. Sony has also been improving its display tech with every iteration, and be it reading text, watching videos, or playing games, you will have a great time doing anything on the display of the Xperia Z3v.

Sony Xperia Z3V-21

The battery gets a slight bump to 3,200 mAh, compared to the 3,100 mAh unit of the Xperia Z3. This may not be enough to create a noticeable difference, but as was the battery experience on the Xperia Z3, you can easily push the battery life to a day and a half, if not beyond, with the Xperia Z3v. The Xperia Z3v can also be charged wirelessly, with any Qi wireless charger, a feature that isn’t available with the original.

Sony Xperia Z3V-26

There are also no surprises here when it comes to the camera.  The 20.7 megapixel sensor makes a return on the Xperia Z3v, along with an unchanged camera software experience, which is packed with a ton of features, some more useful than others. The only quirk with the camera, which we’ve noticed with previous flagship Sony smartphones as well, is the fact that the 20.7 megapixels can be taken advantage of only in manual mode, which lets you shoot in a 4:3 aspect ratio. Everything said and done, you can certainly get the same level of picture quality with the Xperia Z3v, with very sharp and detailed images, with a great amount of color.

Sony Xperia Z3V-34

When it comes to the software, you get Android 4.4 Kitkat out of the box, with Sony’s minimalistic Xperia UI on top. As we’ve seen, the Xperia UI maintains a stock-like look and feel, keeping things relatively light, and therefore fast, apart from a few additions built in by Sony, such as Small Apps, Walkman, and Gallery. You also get PS4 integration with the Xperia Z3v. That said, this is a device available exclusively from Verizon, so there is no shortage of carrier bloatware on board, which does draw a little away from an otherwise clean Android experience.

And so, there you have it – the Sony Xperia Z3v! This device does feel a lot like a beefed up Xperia Z2, at least in terms of design, but with specifications and features identical to its namesake, it’s definitely almost as good as the original. The Sony Xperia Z3v is available from Verizon at a subsidized rate of $200 with a 2 year contract, or for the full retail price of $600. If you were looking forward to getting your hands on a Sony flagship, this may be your best bet.

Buy now from $199.99

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