Displaying items by tag: Review

The US government has confirmed that the proposed merger deal between telecommunication operators T-Mobile US and Sprint will undergo a forensic examination in an effort to determine whether or not the deal represents the best interests of consumers.

Published in Telecom Operators

Indian officials have resisted advances from US technology giant Apple to move some of its production to the country – but they did state that they are in the process of reviewing its overall manufacturing policy.

According to reports, Apple sent a letter to the Indian government in which it expressed its desire to assemble iPhone devices and move production to India –and subsequently requested financial incentives from the authorities in order to do so.

However, Indian officials rejected their advances and refused to give in to Apple’s demands for special concessions. The government recently launched a ‘Made in India’ initiative in an effort to attract foreign investors.

Indian Technology Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said he and his colleagues would keep an ‘open mind’ ahead of negotiations next week with Apple executives. It is believed an official told Reuters that the government intends to make policies for the industry and not individual companies.

Information Technology Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said yesterday India would keep an “open mind” in negotiations next week at a meeting with Apple executives. An official told Reuters the government should make policies for the industry, not individual companies.

The smart-phone giant sought a number of concessions, including a 15-year wavier of customs duties on imported iPhone components, and new and second-hand manufacturing equipment.

It has also been reported that three government departments, revenue, industry and IT are reviewing Apple’s requests for concessions to assemble iPhone’s in India. Officials have conceded that due to the country’s high import duties – it severely impacts the competitiveness of manufacturers looking to export.

Apple CEO Tim Cook visited India last May and met with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi – and the issued of Apple assembling iPhone’s and moving production to the country were raised.

Complicating a move to local production is the country’s local sourcing rules, which require foreign firms with single-brand retail outlets to source 30% of the sales value of their components from India within five years of starting operations.

In June 2016 the government reversed a decision not to ease local sourcing rules for Apple and granted the iPhone maker a three year waive on the requirement, which clears the way for it to open Apple Stores in the country.

The reversal is part of a major reform package of the country’s foreign direct investment policies announced by the head of the country’s central bank.

India is the world’s second largest smart-phone market, where growth outpaced the global market in Q3 as demand for mobile broadband connectivity soars and operators rapidly expand their 4G network coverage.

Published in Government

Life’s good when leading labels take an innovative approach to new products as opposed to following common trends. In the early days of mobile phone manufacturing (remember the good old Nokia 3310?) the leading mobile brands at the time were fighting to lead the market by producing devices that stood out from the rest of the cell-phone crowd. The likes of Nokia, Samsung, Siemens, Sony Ericsson and Sagem weren’t afraid to experiment with their handsets. Fast-forward to 2016, and these days, the smartphone market is all about mimicking the dominators; namely Apple, Samsung and Google, out of fear of being left behind.

In an overcrowded smartphone market, with majority of models looking and act the same, LG has emerged with one of the most innovative and classic mobile devices so far this year. Picking up the GLOMO Award for ‘Best New Smartphone’ at Mobile World Congress 2016, the LG G5 is one of the most appealing flagship smartphone models currently on the market, catching up to its industry competitors, thanks to one groundbreaking feature: a switchable modular design. The G5 may not be the most groundbreaking smartphone in terms of physical appeal, but it makes up for it in terms of functionality.

Pushing performance boundaries

Looking at it from front and back, the LG G5 doesn’t really grab your attention, but its mechanical ingenuity definitely deserves merit. The device is reasonably lightweight and sleek – a classical smartphone to look at; and it doesn’t feature a home button on the front screen – an idea that Apple is rumoured to be implementing with its iPhone 7. The G5 is equipped with Qualcomm’s new Snapdragon 820 chipset, propelling it to the top of the list in terms of cutting edge smartphone technology. The new processor provides unparalleled performance aided by 4GB of RAM ensuring speed and reliability.

The G5 features a Type-C USB, which unfortunately means that previous Micro USB chargers aren’t compatible. It was a bold move by LG to make the move to Type-C, seeing as it’s only a matter of time before it takes over. The G5 model also comes equipped with Qualcomm’s Quick Charge 3.0 standard, despite the fact that Type-C does not officially support it. However, the phone doesn’t come with a 3.0 charger, instead opting for the 2.0, able to fully charge the device’s 2800 mAh battery within an hour.

The special switchable modular units LG calls “Friends” are the defining characteristic of the LG G5. The modules attach to the bottom of the handset. At a glance, you wouldn’t know that the bottom part of the phone could detach, pulling out the battery with it. The feature is well hidden. The process is simple: holding down a small button on the lower-left edge of the device releases the modular section, allowing the user to pull out (with little effort) the battery section. The modular section also features the speaker, microphone and USB Type-C charging port. The process is simple and effective.

Two modules are currently available for the G5 model, both manufactured by LG. The Cam Plus module is for photography enthusiasts. It adds more volume to the back of the phone and is intended to improve the grip for budding photographers. It also has a dial for controlling the camera zoom, buttons dedicated to shutter and video recording, and a ‘spring-loaded slider’ specifically for turning the camera on without delay when the phone is in sleep-mode.

The Cam Plus module can also boost the phone’s battery life (featuring a 1200 mAh cell inside), useful if you don’t have a spare battery on you to conveniently pop in. The only downside is that the module is bulky and doesn’t allow the phone to sit flat on a surface.

While the first module is aimed towards photography lovers, the second module aims to improve audio, created in conjunction with Bang and Olufson, delivering 32-bit audio, able to be used as a standalone unit with other devices when not bonded with the G5. The Hi-Fi Plus module is more expensive at around £150 and more specialized. It might be considered over-the-top, considering that the G5’s 24-bit DAC is already much better than the 16-bit DAC in the Samsung Galaxy S7. In addition to these modules, another part of LG’s “Friend” strategy is its virtual reality headset.

You could argue that LG’s attempt to offer optional upgrades to the LG G5 didn’t make the impact that was intended, seeing as some reviews argue that the available modules are not worth investing in. But for any budding photographer or music lover, the additional modules could be a lot of fun and beneficial. At this stage, LG hasn’t confirmed that any additional modules will be made by LG or a third-party manufacturer.

If the detachable module design doesn’t tickle your fancy, then the G5’s dual-camera setup on the back of the device should peak your interest. The 16-megapixel camera features an 8-megapixel wide-angle (135 degrees) camera with the ability to capture more than the human eye is capable of. You can switch between the two cameras by tapping an icon at the top of the screen.

Nondescript appearance

In terms of physical appearance, the LG G5 has classical appeal, but could struggle to stand out at first glance. It features a large 5.3-inch IPS panel screen boasting a 2560x1440 resolution, encased in a metal body. Sadly, its physical appeal is the only aspect of the G5 lacking innovation and character. In comparison to the LG G4 which featured a unique black rear leather panel, the G5 is somewhat nondescript.

LG’s choice to feature a metal casing should have earned it points, but it ultimately fell flat because of the primer covering it, making the material appear as plastic and look cheap. The South Korean manufacturer had to go so far as to release a statement assuring its customers that the G5 does in fact possess a metal body.

One of the most appealing physical features of the G5 is the sloped edge at the top of the front screen. It feels nice when you swipe your finger down to bring up the notifications. The left side of the device features the volume control, while the back of the device has the dual cameras and central power button which also doubles as a fingerprint scanner, similar to the Nexus 5X and 6P.

Is it worth your investment?

Whether or not featuring the power button on the back of the device is a good idea is debatable. While it allows you to unlock the phone as soon as you pull it out of your pocket as your finger naturally rests on the back of the device, the placement of the button is inconvenient when you want to unlock the phone while it is flat on a table surface. You have to pick up the phone to unlock the screen, unlike the Galaxy S7 and iPhone, which both feature front-facing power button/fingerprint scanners.

Taking all of this information about the LG G5, what do we know? We know it has changeable modules offering the capability of swapping out the battery, something which no other Android smartphone offers in 2016. We also know that the G5 has a brilliant dual-camera, with the added ability of taking wide-angle photos (which will no doubt be copied by rivals in the future).

Lastly, we know that even though the LG G5 is functionally great, it doesn’t pack a punch in terms of physical appearance, but by no means is it ugly… just plain. If you want a reliable, traditional-looking, premium smartphone, priced at around $700 (Amazon), then the LG G5 could be the perfect mobile for you.

Published in Devices

Is the Apple Watch a luxury or a necessity?

Written on Monday, 16 May 2016 11:55

Apple’s fiscal year results ending September 26, 2015, provided an insight into the success of the Apple Watch, the latest trending tech-wearable to hit the market. Apple CEO Tim Cook did not share exactly how many Apple Watches were sold during that time, but buried in the company’s annual report filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, it’s noted that the Apple Watch accounted for over 100 percent of the annual growth of Apple’s net sales according to its “Other Products” reporting category.

During that period, Apple reported revenue growth of over 20 percent, from $3.38 billion to $10.06 billion, meaning the Apple Watch could have contributed at least $1.7 billion, according to a report by VentureBeat. This number could be even higher seeing Apple Watch sales “more than offset the decline of iPod and accessories sales,” between April and June, says Apple CFO, Luca Maestri.

“We shipped a lot [of watches] in the first quarter, then the last quarter we shipped even more,” said Tim Cook during the Wall Street Journal Digital conference. The Apple Watch may have drawn in profits and generated excitement, but with strong competitors in the market such as Huawei, Motorola, Samsung and LG, the smartwatch arena is only going to get more crowded with more options to choose from. Even Swiss watchmaker Tag Heuer is preparing to launch a $1,800 Android Wear and Intel-powered smartwatch in November.

Apple Watch: Pros & Cons

How will the Apple Watch compete? Is it really worth your money? That is the question many consumers are asking themselves today, especially when the Apple Watch 2 is on the horizon. Because of this, Apple Watches recently dropped in price, making it a little more tempting to don in 2016, especially because its app count is also higher making it more worthwhile than it has ever been.

The Apple Watch is a very personal and convenient device, perfect for anyone expecting a gadget fully-tied to your iPhone. It is compatible with the iPhone 5 and other newer iPhone models. The watch is available in various case materials, colors, sizes and unique interchangeable watch bands. The cheapest Apple Watch model, according to Tech Radar, costs $299 (£259, AU$429) which is a lot lower than the launch price of $349 (£299, AU$499), peaking at a ridiculous $17,000 (£13,500, AU$24,000).

The Apple Watch clearly exists within a niche market, primarily suited to Apple-lovers/collectors who take tech, luxury and convenience seriously. With prices dropping, it suggests that Apple is preparing to release something new soon. Apple speculators reckon the Apple Watch 2 will be released sometime around September along with the iPhone 7.

With the newly introduced lower prices, now is a better time than ever to buy an Apple Watch. The question is: should you? The Apple Watch is able to receive your messages and mail directly from your iPhone which is convenient and it can even locate your iPhone when it’s lost, using what some consider being the easiest Find My iPhone app yet. Apple is reportedly building on this idea, proposing a Find My Watch app, reversing the handy iPhone retrieval.

Adding to this, Apple is also looking into adding a detector to the device which would deploy a light vibration against the wrist when you wander too far away from your iPhone. Do these features justify the high price of the Apple Watch? It really depends on how often you lose your iPhone!

There are other conveniences the Apple Watch does to lure you into a purchase. For example, checking into a flight is made easier thanks to a QR code. In addition, the Apple Watch features an efficient fitness tracker, which enables you to keep track of how many steps you take, calories you burn, and your heart rate. Using it on the go, the Apple Watch is expected to last for about 18 hours of regular use before the battery runs out.

In October 2015, the Apple Watch OS 2 update was released after a slight delay. The update opened up the Apple Watch’s engine, digital crown and microphone to developers, meaning there will be many more apps to come in order to enjoy the Apple Watch experience. The update also features Wi-Fi connectivity, more Siri capabilities, email replies and more customizations.

There are several beneficial features of the Apple Watch that make the purchase worthwhile. It’s an aesthetically pleasing device to wear on wrist; it looks good, it’s lightweight, and less chunky (only 42mm) compared to its Samsung counterpart. The ability to glance at the watch screen every time you receive a message is an advantage, saving you from having to pick up your iPhone every time you receive a message. In addition, the Apple Pay app has already made its way into countries such as the U.S. and Singapore, as well as the Uber app, which can both be used on the Apple Watch.

So should you buy an Apple Watch? Comparing various Apple Watch reviews, one thing’s for sure: the Apple Watch is not an iPhone replacement. For instance, the smartwatch can makes call, but is not able to add new contacts to the device memory. In addition, it can dictate text messages and send them as an audio or transcription, but it does not have the ability to edit the text. Likewise, the Apple Watch can recognize and name songs through the Shazam app, but it requires an iPhone microphone to do so, which sort of defeats the purpose.

The Apple Watch doesn't do that much, but no smartwatch does, and Apple’s advantage is that it’s primed to get the best of the developers' produce (in just the same way as the iPhone and iPad did) to get premium apps that will make owning a smartwatch the best that it can be. Once you've purchased the Apple Watch and got over the high price, it is a genuinely useful thing to have around at times. The new OS 2 advancements make it even better.

Overall, the smartwatch concept is going to become more useful when the hype dies down and new apps emerge. Apple set the stage for other competitors to step up to the smartwatch challenge, the same way Apple set the stage for tablets and smartphones. But in doing so, some of Apple’s competitors have emerged as tough competitors, namely Samsung. At the end of the day, it really comes down to personal preference and having spare cash to spend on niche products. The Apple Watch is a luxury, not a necessity. 

Published in Gadget