Phandroid » Handsets http://phandroid.com Android Phone News, Rumors, Reviews, Apps, Forums & More! Sat, 19 Apr 2014 20:57:16 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9 KitKat for the Verizon LG G2 now rolling out over the air http://phandroid.com/2014/04/19/verizon-lg-g2-kitkat-ota-update/ http://phandroid.com/2014/04/19/verizon-lg-g2-kitkat-ota-update/#comments Sat, 19 Apr 2014 20:53:36 +0000 http://phandroid.com/?p=138623 LG G2 Verizon Wireless

After reporting yesterday that the KitKat update for the Verizon Wireless LG G2 was finally ready — but only accessible via LG’s installer for Windows PCs — that same update is now officially available and rolling out over the air. If you haven’t been prompted (and don’t feel like hassling with plugging in/installing extra software), you can now jump into your Settings > About phone > Software update > Check new > to pull the update on your G2 manually.

Verizon LG G2 KitKat OTA update

Having rolled out for all other major US carriers), Verizon’s LG G2 finally joins its brothers and sisters in the winners circle. Aside from bringing all the usual KitKat goodies, you should see some minor improvements to LG’s UI, as well as compatibility with KitKat-only apps like Google’s recently released Google Camera app. Enjoy!

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8 things I hate about the Samsung Galaxy S5 http://phandroid.com/2014/04/19/8-things-i-hate-about-the-samsung-galaxy-s5/ http://phandroid.com/2014/04/19/8-things-i-hate-about-the-samsung-galaxy-s5/#comments Sat, 19 Apr 2014 15:36:05 +0000 http://phandroid.com/?p=138566 Samsung Galaxy S5 back DSC05780

WARNING: Loads of opinion ahead, leave your fanboyism at the door. If you’re looking for a honest opinion, please proceed.

With that out of the way, I just want to say I understand well that there is no such thing as the “perfect” smartphone. Like my mother used to tell me, you’ll never find the perfect woman, only the perfect woman for you. Because, Android is a wonderful mess right now, manufacturers put a lot of time and effort into offering their unique versions of Android, that simply put — aren’t for everyone. Having owned the Samsung Galaxy S5 for a full week now, I think it’s time to stop beating around the bush: this phone simply isn’t for me.

Bu don’t get me wrong, I tried to make it work, I wanted to make it work. Despite my friends and family warning me that buying the Galaxy S5 would only end in heartbreak, I went against their better judgement and purchased the phone anyway. Why? There were only 2 features on my mind: SAMOLED display, and the high-resolution ISOCELL camera. Like a great pair of…. eyes on a woman, they’re all I saw. Everything else? I figured that would work itself out. “I could always put a case over it and TouchWiz is all new,” I told myself. Boy, was I wrong. May I present to you, my list of top 8 things I hate about the Samsung Galaxy S5.

1. TouchWiz Lag

I like to think of myself as a patient man. Whether it’s kids, pets, or the ‘ol gf, it takes a lot to get under my skin. But one area I absolutely have zero patience for is in my electronics. Laptop, camera, you name it. Having owned a HTC One (M7), Nexus 5, and an LG G2 for all these months, maybe I’ve just been spoiled by snappy, lag-free performance. Who knows.

What I do know is that there is something horribly wrong with the fact that you can have a phone with the latest Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 processor, software based on the the newest, lightest version of Android yet (KitKat), and yet still somehow serve users a piping hot plate of lag on a silver platter. It takes a special kind of “software” to mess that up.

Whether it’s waking up the phone from a sleeping state, waiting for the keyboard to popup or catch up with typing, opening the multitasking menu or applications — lag, lag, mother-effin-lag. I couldn’t handle it. I kid you not, I was having nightmares that my phone was getting laggier and laggier, only to wake up and find myself in cold sweats.

Is a .8 second lag going to kill you? Probably not. But I paid too damn much for this phone only to have to”suffer” with lackluster performance. Still don’t believe me? See this video here. I mean, what’s the point of upgrading to a faster processor, when you don’t actually reap any of the benefits? The Galaxy S5 is Lag City. Population: you.

2. Limited Internal Storage

Galaxy S5 Storage constraints

External storage is great — when there are apps that actually support. Aside from KitKat making things fun with the way apps handle external storage, finding applications other than games that can actually be moved to the SD card is rare. Sure, you can always root and move everything to the SD card, but that’s a topic for another time. You can have a 128GB UHS 1 micro SD card in the phone, but a 16GB Galaxy S5 — the only version currently offered by US carriers — sucks. There’s no way around it, and I don’t understand how this was overlooked.

3. Touchscreen Sensitivity

Galaxy S5

No, I’m not saying the Galaxy S5′s display isn’t responsive enough. The problem I’m have is that that it’s too responsive. I know, that sounds like a silly thing complain about, but when you type as quickly as I do, the phone is registering screen taps/long presses I never meant it to. In fact, I thought for a minute there I was losing my mind. Really, who would notice something like this?

I think this might have something to do with S5′s new “Air gesture” feature that allows you to interact with the display, without actually touching it. This also means the phone can register screen presses even while wearing gloves — a great feature for sure — but not when it messes with normal use. There is a reason, after all, they included an option to disable it. But even when disabled, it’s far too sensitive (note: I’ve had it disabled since day 1). A great idea, just one better left on paper.

4. Camera

Sony A7 vs Samsung Galaxy S5

Woah, woah, woah. I’m not saying the Galaxy S5 camera isn’t great. It is. But my problem is it only performs well in the most ideal of situations. Taking it out on a bright Spring day, shooting some pics of the kids by the pool, it performs wonderfully. Images are razor sharp.

My issue? As soon as you lose some of that light — shooting indoors on a cloudy day, or a dimly lit restaurant, etc. — everything turns to absolute sh*t. Don’t believe me? Just take a look at my comparison photo above. One side you have a picture I snapped with my full frame camera to show you exactly how much light was actually in this scene. On the right is how well the Galaxy S5 handles in the smallest dip in light: like a muddy mess. Not good. In fact, there were many a times, my Nexus 5 performed better than the Galaxy S5. Don’t believe me? Check out this image here.

5. S Emoji

Galaxy S5 emoji

You’d think that having the system wide emoji support in KitKat would be great new feature, but not when you see what Samsung’s done with them. Say hello to the most hideous emoji’s this side of the iPhone. Like some kind of bastardized version AOL smileys meets Lisa Frank, they look horribly out of place on Samsung’s new minimal interface. What I don’t get is, why even change them? What was so wrong with Android’s stock emoji that you had to create these abominations? Not cool.

6. Chrome Bezel

Samsung Galaxy S5 water logo wm DSC05776
Like many of the items on this list, this ones more a subjective opinion. So let me just say, I abhor chrome. I don’t want it near my electronics, I don’t like it on my rims, and I sure as heck can’t stand it on my smartphone. I thought we left this behind with the original Galaxy S? Whenever I see it, it reminds me of 1950′s future and not modern smartphone design we see on devices like the HTC One M8.

Besides its looks (which I found myself wanting to sand paper away or Plasti-Dip over), the chrome rim around the side of the phone is actually raised, creating a lip around the glass. Everyone praised the Nexus 4 for including beveled edges on the sides of the display (something we also saw in the HTC Sensation back in the day). This ensured sliding the ever growing UI elements from the sides of the display was always a pleasurable experience. The Galaxy S5 is the complete opposite of that.

7. USB Flap / No Wireless Charging

DSC05798

Until USB 3.1, becomes the new standard, it’s bad enough we have to put some level of thought or concentration into getting our USB cable inserted correctly into our smartphones. If you thought that was annoying, how about not being able to access this port until you first removed a plastic flap? I get why it’s there, I do. In order to IP67 certify the Galaxy S5, some ports would need to be covered. But it doesn’t make it any more convenient.

Besides needing a healthy amount of fingernail to get the damn thing open, the real problem I have with the S Flap, is it wouldn’t even be an issue if Samsung simply included wireless charging with the device. Sure, you could always spend an extra $30 and order one direct from Samsung, but why should you have to? It’s because between the fingerprint scanner and heart rate monitor, Samsung had to cut those “little” features no one really cares about (sarcasm).

8. Fingerprint Scanner Home Button

Galaxy S5 Fingerprint Reader

When Apple introduced the fingerprint scanner in the iPhone 5S, for the most part, it was done well. Offering a medium level of security, you were able to press the home button as you’d normally do, but this time it’d only take you to the homescreen if it recognized your fingerprint. Great for keeping snooping eyes out of your phone, sure it wasn’t full proof, but it was enough security for most cases.

As we all know, the Galaxy S5 uses a similar security feature, with a new fingerprint scanner found in the home button. Only problem is in their implementation, you actually have to slide your finger across the home button, not simply press it. Why is this a pain in the ass? Because this means every time you go to unlock your phone, you’ll have to use 2 hands to do it. Once again, I know it sounds crazy to complain about, but think of all the times you’re using your phone with only 1 hand available. Holding a beer, your gf’s hand, walking the dog, eating. Requiring 2 hands to simply unlock your phone is a major oversight, and one that should have never made it out of R&D.

Samsung Galaxy S5  back cover removed DSC05768

Before I leave you, I just want to remind that this is merely the opinion of a single lonely blogger (no matter how right it is). Also, there are a lot of things I like about the Galaxy S5 that many of you may find more valuable than the minor annoyances listed here. Things like the small bezels, battery life, the Super AMOLED display (along with saturation controls), camera (when shooting in daylight), super quick 2A charging, removable battery, or its weather proofing.

Those are all great things, wonderful things about the Galaxy S5. But unfortunately, things that for me couldn’t outweigh the “bad.” Come tomorrow I’ll be packing up my Samsung Galaxy S5, heading on over to my local T-Mobile, and eating their ridiculous $50 restocking fee. Here’s to the Next Big Thing.

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My Galaxy S5 isn’t as water resistant as I thought http://phandroid.com/2014/04/19/galaxy-s5-water-damage/ http://phandroid.com/2014/04/19/galaxy-s5-water-damage/#comments Sat, 19 Apr 2014 14:46:28 +0000 http://phandroid.com/?p=138637 Ever since it was announced people have been asking- how waterproof  is the Galaxy S5? As seen in our full review, its weather resistance is one of its best new features. Or at least it’s supposed to be. This morning I woke up to find my front and rear camera had some odd bubbles forming all over each lens.

s5-water-damage-back

S5-water-damage-front

That doesn’t look good. At all. So we tested a picture.

S5-water-damage-selfie

And a screencap of the screen for safe measure.

S5-water-damage-selfiescreencap

Samsung describes the S5 as “resistant to sweat, rain, liquids, sand and dust, so your phone is protected for any activity and situation,” but the technical designation is IP67 Certification. That means water damage should not be possible in liquid immersion up to 1 meter.

I subjected my Galaxy S5 to liquid submersion twice:

Galaxy S5 in Toilet

Waterproof: Samsung Galaxy S5 vs HTC One M8

That was several days ago.

I’m the first to admit that waterproof and water resistant are two different things, and I would normally never purposefully put my phone in harms way, but IP67 designates that this phone should not face water damage under these circumstances. Testing these types of things is why we do these reviews.

The Galaxy S5 is very good about reminding you close your charger door snugly and make sure your battery cover is snapped on COMPLETELY before continuing. This is a message you shouldn’t dismiss (although it allows you to) because the reminder is a good one. I can say with confidence that during both water tests my phone back cover and battery port were completely secured.

Somehow, though, water snuck its way into my battery.

S5-water-damage-battery

After cleaning it off, snapping the cover back on, and firing up the camera… the drama continued.

S5-water-damage-camera-error

Twenty minutes later the camera begun loading again, but not without bubbletastic cloudiness ensuing.

So now I’m at a crossroads. This seems like a problem that will not correct itself. It also seems like a hard case to prove the water damage didn’t happen due to fault of my own. I could have separated the battery cover and gone deep sea diving for all they know.

I joke of course, but these types of water tests have been popping up all over the web, with some people even going swimming with the device.

I’m not exactly sure how this happened or how the story will end, but I felt it was a development worth sharing. I want to point out that this has been MY experience but in no way am I claiming it’s indicative of a Galaxy S5 problem as a whole. Have any other Galaxy S5 owners had similar situations? Has your Galaxy S5 been put to the water test? Head on over the Galaxy S5 Forums to share your stories!

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CyanogenMod 11S – OnePlus One UI showcased for all to see http://phandroid.com/2014/04/18/cyanogenmod-11s-oneplus-one-ui-showcased-for-all-to-see/ http://phandroid.com/2014/04/18/cyanogenmod-11s-oneplus-one-ui-showcased-for-all-to-see/#comments Sat, 19 Apr 2014 03:33:47 +0000 http://phandroid.com/?p=138614 CyanogenMod11S

Earlier tonight we saw a supposed leak of the upcoming OnePlus One. The leak included press renders of the phone, a variety of back covers, and supposedly depicted the phones upcoming UI. Carl Pei of OnePlus took to the official OnePlus forums moments ago to put an end to the rumors running rampant this evening:

There has been a lot of speculation and excitement about the operating system of the OnePlus One. As you know, we’ve been working with the Cyanogen team on this product for quite some time, starting from when OnePlus was just an idea. Both teams have been deeply involved in both the software and the hardware parts of the experience, and it’s been an amazing ride so far.

Although we’re still running pre-production versions of CyanogenMod 11S, I’d still like to share with you some of the things that the Cyanogen team has been working on.

The new stuff is pretty cool, so here’s a taste of what’s to come.

Screenshot_2014-04-19-10-35-50 Screenshot_2014-04-19-10-35-15 Screenshot_2014-04-19-10-27-44 Screenshot_2014-04-19-10-27-31

So there you have it – the default UI of CyanogenMod 11S. If you’re not a fan of CM’s new UI for Android, Steve Kondik has confirmed in the past that if you’d like to go back to the standard CM and Android Holo UI, you can. Just as shown above, visit CM’s Theme settings and select as much or as little Holo as you heart desires.

EDIT: I reached out to Carl asking for a screenshot with software keys. Here it is!

Screenshot_2014-04-19-11-24-25

What do you think of the OnePlus One’s UI and CyanogenMod 11S? Let us know in the comments.

Source: OnePlus

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OnePlus One press renders leaked – interchangeable wood, carbon fiber, and denim back covers too http://phandroid.com/2014/04/18/oneplus-one-big-leak/ http://phandroid.com/2014/04/18/oneplus-one-big-leak/#comments Sat, 19 Apr 2014 02:04:46 +0000 http://phandroid.com/?p=138576 OnePlus One 1

We’ve had our reservations about the OnePlus One. An upcoming smartphone that’s made a name for itself for being different from “the other guys,” we haven’t actually seen any product. To top it all off, the leaks we have seen appear to be nothing more than a rebranded Oppo Find 7. But all of that may have changed tonight.

Some new “leaks” are once again piquing our interest, allegedly showing the upcoming smartphone, not only in a variety of press renders, but some of the removable back covers that will be available for the device as well. We have to admit, the phone and the “StyleSwap” covers look pretty damn cool. Take a look.

OnePlus One StyleSwap back covers

Design wise, the phone looks very similar with the Oppo Find 7 only the display looks as if it’s floating on the front of the device. An interesting design choice, we’re wondering if this might be in an effort to keep the display from shattering should the phone fall on one of the 4 corners. You’ll see USB cables featuring both micro and Lightning connectors. Only white and black were pictured, but we’re guessing the red “Never Settle” back cover we saw in a previous leak will also be available around launch.

With CynogenMod Inc. on board, it’s strange we see a UI more in tune with Xiaomi’s MIUI than AOSP. It’s possible CM could be loaded for western markets, while that custom UI we’re seeing in the above images is for China.

After taking a good look at the device, what do you think? This is the final puzzle piece as we await the phone’s launch on April 23rd.

OnePlus One BabySkin back OnePlus One leak small OnePlus One back uncovered OnePlus One size OnePlus One cables OnePlus One SIM tool

 

[OnePlus BBS Forum | via Android Authority]

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Motorola working on an even lower spec’d Moto G, could it be the $100 Nexus? [RUMOR] http://phandroid.com/2014/04/18/motorola-low-spec-moto-e-rumor/ http://phandroid.com/2014/04/18/motorola-low-spec-moto-e-rumor/#comments Fri, 18 Apr 2014 21:31:24 +0000 http://phandroid.com/?p=138563 moto-g-14

Looks like Motorola may have found their market. In an attempt to build upon the success that was the low-cost Motorola Moto G, the soon-to-be Lenovo owned OEM may soon release an even lower spec’d smartphone to help further capture the low-end market.

moto-e-leak

Uncovered by Brazilian site TechnoBlog, this unnamed phone (Moto E, perhaps?) will come in 3 slightly different variants (XT1021 with single SIM, XT1022 dual SIM, and XT1025 dual SIM with digital TV). If the Moto G wasn’t quite so low-end for you, this Moto G Lite drops them as far as anyone should be willing to go. Here’s a quick spec list:

  • 4.3-inch display
  • 1.2GHz dual-core processor
  • 5MP camera
  • 1GB RAM
  • 4GB internal storage
  • 1,900mAh
  • Android 4.4 KitKAt

Currently, the phone is rumored to launch in May, although whether or not we’ll see this outside of emerging markets remains to be seen. We should note an earlier rumor from today that mentioned we could see a new $100 Nexus smartphone. Given Motorola’s history with releasing Google Play edition variants of their devices in the Play Store, we can’t help but wonder if it could be the smartphone leaked with the specs above. But it seems the real question is: how low can Motorola go?

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Battle of the Blur: Galaxy S5, HTC One M8, Google Camera http://phandroid.com/2014/04/18/background-blur-galaxy-s5-htc-one-google-camera/ http://phandroid.com/2014/04/18/background-blur-galaxy-s5-htc-one-google-camera/#comments Fri, 18 Apr 2014 20:33:23 +0000 http://phandroid.com/?p=138513 The trend in smartphone camera tech this year seems to be the addition of hardware and software that help users blur backgrounds, creating stunning effects previously reserved for high-end cameras and DSLRs. You saw it on our reviews of the HTC One M8 and Galaxy S5, only to have Google bring their own solution with the announcement of Google Camera app on the Play Store.

panoramic-featured-blur

We marched our way to Building 44 – home of the Android Dessert Statues – and tested out all three to determine the differences. This will make the debate of the Galaxy S5 vs HTC One M8 a whole lot more complicated.

HTC One M8 Camera

The “blurrred background” effect sits squarely on the One M8′s turf. This is one of the primary reasons HTC added a second lens: the first takes the actual picture and the second collects depth information, allowing the user to not only blur backgrounds after the picture is taken, but to change which item in the picture is the focal point, subsequently blurring the rest.

Here’s a picture taken with the HTC One M8 Camera in automatic mode.

M8-Normal-KitKat

Then I used HTC’s UFOCUS to tap on the KitKat and blur the background with ease. Quite beautiful, although you can see it had a little trouble around the edges of the KitKat due to it’s shiny, reflective surface.

M8-Blurred-KitKat

Supposing we wanted a different dessert as our optical delicacy? No problem. Same picture, different tap, different result, equally awesome. One of the great and unique things about the HTC One M8 camera is that you can select a different item to serve as the focal point- you won’t find that on the Galaxy S5 or with the Google Camera App (on any phone).

M8-Blurred-Gingerbread

Now let’s stick with the HTC One M8 but give Google Camera a try for the preferred software.

HTC One M8 with Google Camera

The Google Camera is available for download and can be used on any Android phone with Android 4.4 KitKat or above. For this comparison, we fired up the app on both the HTC One M8 and the Galaxy S5 and took photos with each, comparing the results with the native camera of each.

We took the pictures from a number of distances. From further away the Google Camera had some difficulty- here it not only focuses on the KitKat, but also keeps the lawn and jellybean in focus. This is mostly due to the feature being designed for closer up pics, but despite the quality, it’s cool that you can use it wherever you want.

M8-Google-Camera-Far-Some-Difficulty

As we could predict, when we got closer the quality was much better and the blur was much more accurate.

M8-Google-Camera-Blurred-Good

At times, with the right distances and lighting, we’d even say the quality of the effect was excellent.

M8-Google-Camera-Blurred-Better

But at other times it faltered, possibly due to human error in the process of taking the picture and guiding your hand upward.

M8-Google-Camera-Blurred-Bad

The Google Camera works differently than either the HTC One M8 or the Galaxy S5. Whereas the HTC One M8 effect is made possible from its hardware, Google Camera achieves blurred backgrounds with its software.

To achieve the effect you move your camera vertically, similar to the motion of taking a panoramic picture. To put it in video game terms: you strife with the camera upwards.

Now let’s jump over to the Galaxy S5

Galaxy S5 Camera

What a disaster. The Samsung Galaxy S5 was able to take some great photos of the statues, but no matter how close or far we stood to various statues, the selective focus would not kick in. We got a pretty great picture of the scene itself, but as you can see, blurred backgrounds are nowhere to be found, no matter the distance.

g5-selective-focus-fail3 g5-selective-focus-fail-far g5-selective-focus-fail-close

The Galaxy S5 Selective Focus feature seldom works unless you’ve got just the perfectly right conditions, subject, background, and distance. Here is an example of it working properly with a nearby Google sign.

g5-selective-focus-sign-before-blurs5-selective-focus-sign

Now let’s stick with the Galaxy S5, but open up the Google Camera app and give that a whirl.

Galaxy S5 with Google Camera

This is pretty shocking: whereas I couldn’t get a blurred background picture of the statues to save my life on the S5, I was able to do it with ease on the Google Camera using the Galaxy S5. The resulting photos were pretty amazing, from a number of different distances.

s5-selective-focus-google-camera3 s5-selective-focus-google-camera2 s5-selective-focus-google-cam1

Downsized Photos

There is one really important caveat with the Google Camera: it downsizes photos. The Galaxy S5 maintained huge image sizes with the blurred effect and HTC One M8 photos were as expected. Both were larger than the somewhat tiny resulting photos of the Google Camera.

  • Galaxy S5: 5312 x 2988
  • HTC One M8: 2688 x 1520
  • Google Camera: 1024 x 576 (on both phones)

Although the Google Camera produced much better quality than perhaps even the HTC One M8, photo size is something you’ve got to consider depending on where these photos will end up.

Side-by-Side Comparison

Here four images stacked for easier comparison:

HTC One M8:

M8-Blurred-KitKat

Google Camera (on the HTC One M8):

M8-Google-Camera-Blurred-Better

Google Camera (on the Galaxy S5):

s5-selective-focus-google-camera2

Galaxy S5 Fail:

g5-selective-focus-fail3

This will definitely heat things up in the already viscious battle of the Galaxy S5 vs HTC One M8. If you haven’t already, check out our full Samsung Galaxy S5 Review and HTC One M8 Review!

What combination do YOU think performs best?

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OnePlus One 50MP camera samples leaked, show an incredible amount of detail and bokeh http://phandroid.com/2014/04/18/oneplus-one-50mp-camera-samples/ http://phandroid.com/2014/04/18/oneplus-one-50mp-camera-samples/#comments Fri, 18 Apr 2014 19:06:38 +0000 http://phandroid.com/?p=138524 OnePlus One WFSoLyV

Throwing even more coal into their hype train’s furnace, the folks at OnePlus are now (officially) showing off the photo capabilities of their upcoming handset, the OnePlus One. Taken by OnePlus forum member Martin Mal, the images show, not only an impressive amount of detail, but a healthy helping of bokeh as well. This is actually the second time photos from the handset have “leaked,” the first time showing a few snapshots that weren’t in their full resolution.

First thing you may notice is these are actually 50MP images, delivering an output of 8,160×6,120 resolution and weighing about 10MB in size. We’re guessing the phone is employing a similar feature to that of the Oppo Find 7especially after the most recent leak — that allows the phone to piece together 8MP images into a single 50MP shot. If you look at the HDR image here, it’s shot in a more typical 4,160×3,120 (13MP) resolution at only 3MB in size.

OnePlus One BcA1lvx OnePlus One c890QRm OnePlus One vdf1Qi2 OnePlus One bhLqGPX OnePlus One Nugv4Zr OnePlus One eHPrn9w

Once again, the depth of field is incredibly impressive from a smartphone standpoint, especially considering it doesn’t appear to be the typical software tricks we’ve seen from HTC or Samsung. Not bad, OnePlus. Not bad at all. We know how much importance some of you place on your smartphone cameras, making the OnePlus One’s low $400 price point sound even more attractive. We can’t wait for the phone to be unveiled, even if you’ll need an invite to purchase one at launch.

 

[Google+ | OnePlus Forums]

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Will Google bring a MediaTek-powered Nexus for under $100? http://phandroid.com/2014/04/18/mediatek-nexus-rumor/ http://phandroid.com/2014/04/18/mediatek-nexus-rumor/#comments Fri, 18 Apr 2014 18:00:24 +0000 http://phandroid.com/?p=138515 Nexus-logo-featured-LARGE

The Nexus line has always brought us affordable devices without any carrier or OEM influence (well, except for that one Verizon Nexus phone which shall not be named). New rumors suggest Google feels like they haven’t gotten the cost of admission low enough, though, with murmurings of a budget option coming by way of MediaTek.

According to a report by MTKSJ, Google will look to target that nice $100 price point that the Moto G was introduced at. Unfortunately it doesn’t sound like this device will be quite as stout as the Moto G is for the cost. MediaTek silicon isn’t often impressive in the few devices that use them, with quad-core and octa-core chipsets in various phones often feeling more sluggish than some dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon devices.

We can’t pass judgment on anything that isn’t officially known to exist, though, so we’ll just leave it at that. It’s not surprising to see Google attempting to emulate the same success the Moto G had for Motorola, which became the company’s best selling smartphone of all time. Let’s just hope they don’t have to cut too many corners to achieve that.

[MTKSJ via Electronista]

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Samsung Galaxy S5 vs HTC One M8 http://phandroid.com/2014/04/18/samsung-galaxy-s5-vs-htc-one-m8/ http://phandroid.com/2014/04/18/samsung-galaxy-s5-vs-htc-one-m8/#comments Fri, 18 Apr 2014 16:43:07 +0000 http://phandroid.com/?p=138148 So you’ve read both our HTC One M8 Review and our Samsung Galaxy S5 Review and you still can’t decide which to get. Welcome to the universe… you’re not alone. They’re both great phones – best on the market, even – but neither are perfect. Read on as we pit them head to head in several categories before giving you the verdict on which to call your own.

Design & Hardware

HTC and Samsung have gone two very different directions with the designs for their flagship phones.

Hardware: Samsung Galaxy S5 vs HTC One M8

HTC has worked hard to craft a device that looks and feels premium, putting appearance and personality above all else. That all starts with a metal unibody frame that looks beautiful, feels sturdy, and has some nice heft. The  iconic front speaker grills command attention.

Samsung foregoes some luxury for the sake of mass marketability, attempting to build the one-size-fits-all device that everybody loves. They’ve done a pretty darn good job thus far. The Galaxy S5 looks more typical, is covered in plastic, has some questionable finishes, and a removable battery cover.

If that doesn’t seem very glamorous, that’s because it isn’t, but those choices also allow Samsung to pull off a bigger screen, in a smaller and lighter package, while cramming in more hardware.

That flexibility will help Samsung in other areas, but from a design perspective the HTC One M8 is a notch above all of the competition, including Samsung’s S5.

Hardware Winner: HTC One M8
Overall Score: 1 to 0 (HTC One M8)

Display/Screen

Whether you’re talking about phones, TVs, computers, or even touch panels on household appliances, displays are something that Samsung always seems to get right. The Galaxy S5 screen is no different: it’s hands down the most gorgeous screen I’ve ever seen on a mobile phone… and I’m not the only one with that opinion.

Screen: Samsung Galaxy S5 vs HTC One M8

That’s a bold statement, but it’s worth noting that the HTC One M8 isn’t far behind. The key difference is the outrageous level of brightness, vibrancy, and contrast found on the Galaxy S5 display. For some people the One M8 screen might be preferred because it looks less artificial with more natural colors. If that floats your boat, go for it- but I’m personally picking the S5 and sticking with it.

From a spec standpoint their displays are nearly identical:

  • One M8 Display: 5-inch, Full HD 1920 x 1080, 442 ppi
  • Galaxy S4: 5.1-inch, Full HD 1920 x 1080, 432 ppi

This is a matter of preference of course and the choice is made much more difficult when comparing the phones side by side. In reality, whichever phone you choose to use, you’d be incredibly happy with the display. Both the One M8 and Galaxy S5 have market leading screens, but I heavily prefer the latter above all else.

Screen Winner: Samsung Galaxy S5
Overall Score: 1 to 1 (tie)

Software & Experience

The Samsung Galaxy S5 and HTC One M8 both run Android 4.4 KitKat and each overlay their own custom UI- the S5 with Touchwiz and the One M8 with Sense 6. Taking advice from users longing for more of a stock Android experience, each company has vowed to tone down the bloat while still delivering added value through unique integrations throughout the software.

For home screen experiences HTC brings Blinkfeed to the table while Samsung offers My Magazine. They both let you customize an easily accessed feed with social network accounts and news content, but Blinkfeed is much more robust while My Magazine seems a bit half baked. Thankfully you have the option to remove both- but give Blinkfeed a chance, it works well enough to consider keeping onboard.

Software: Samsung Galaxy S5 vs HTC One M8

Navigating your pages and apps is much easier with the HTC One for two primary reasons: the app drawer is designed distinctly different from your home pages and the it follows many more of Android’s standard guidelines. Samsung’s Touchwiz app drawer looks so similar to the home screens that it’s easy to confuse the two, wander with your finger, and get lost.

Diving into the settings is where the software customizations go next level. Samsung has thankfully buried some of its highly touted settings of generations past, but they’re mostly still available, which makes exploring and finding the settings you want a bit of a chore. Each have some really great comparable features worthy of praise such as:

  • Do Not Disturb / Blocking Mode
  • Battery Saving Options
  • TV remotes to go with the IR Blasters
  • Greatly improved camera software

That being said, Samsung still has some fat to trim from Touchwiz. In addition to a slight delay when opening native apps like dialer and contacts (we’re talking fractions of a second), the experience can seem scattered, with incomplete experiences in some areas and too many options in others. If Samsung can choose focus areas and reinvest their energy to initiatives they deem most important, they’ll be doing themselves and their customers a huge favor. Right now they seem undecided on far too much, which provides HTC with the opportunity to walk away with the software category.

Software Winner: HTC One M8
Overall Score: 2 to 1 (HTC One M8)

Camera

The divergent approaches of Samsung and HTC don’t end with design:  they’ve gone completely different routes with their cameras. Mobile cameras have become somewhat of a megapixel marketing war with consumers crowning the bigger number the better camera. If you chose the better camera based purely on megapixels, Samsung would be crowned prince automatically, besting HTC by a megapixel count of 16MP to 4MP. The Nokia Lumia 1020 – a Windows Phone with a 41MP camera – would be crowned King.

Camera: Samsung Galaxy S5 vs HTC One M8

But it isn’t all about megapixels. Really, megapixels determine how many pixels are in your photos, which directly correlates to their size (in dimensions and file size). The majority of photos taken with your phone are shared only on the web, which means even the 2688 by 1520 pictures taken with the One M8′s 4MP camera are too big for Facebook.

That doesn’t make the Galaxy S5′s 16MP camera overkill, though- it has its benefits. Want to blow up a picture as a poster or canvas? Or perhaps zoom in on a part of a picture? The Galaxy S5 is the only one between the two that can perform this luxury with any significant quality.

The prerequisite of doing anything with your photos is having good photos you want to do something with. In perfect, sunny conditions, the Galaxy S5 probably slightly edges the One M8 in terms of photo quality. As soon as those conditions change it’s the HTC One M8 camera that is better able to handle adversity. I want consistency in a smartphone camera and if I wanted a great camera for traveling I’d opt for a DLSR, point-and-shoot, or Galaxy Camera before either of these.

But wait: the HTC One M8 has some magic up its sleeves. It doesn’t just have a dinky 4MP camera on its rear… it’s got TWO lenses: one actually takes the photo and the other collects depth information, allowing for some amazing effects and wizardry with what HTC calls the Ultrapixel Duo Cam. Samsung has a software-based post production alternative, but it doesn’t come close to touching HTC’s 2 lens phenom in that department. The duo cam is not a gimmick… it works amazingly well and is an absolute blast to use.

Selectivefocusclose.jpg
Taken with Galaxy S5
orioles-back-blurry
Taken with HTC One M8

To top it all off, the HTC One M8 has a 5MP front facing camera that ensures selfie snappers are delighted.

Travelers using a mobile phone as their only camera might disagree, but for its consistency, outrageously fun duo cam integration, and attention to selfie detail, I’m giving this highly debated category to the HTC One M8.

Camera Winner: HTC One M8
Overall Score: 3 to 1 (HTC One M8)

Multimedia

The name multimedia inherently dictates that more than one form of media is being discussed. In the case of this comparison, though, I’m going to cut to the chase: the HTC One M8 BoomSound speakers put it several horse lengths ahead of the Galaxy S4.

Most phone’s these days have an earpiece at the top front of the phone and speakers either somewhere on the side or on the back. In the case of the Galaxy S5 it’s on the back, bottom left. The HTC One M8 meanwhile boasts dual front facing speakers that not only look epic, but sound epic.

Multimedia: Samsung Galaxy S5 vs HTC One M8

I often find myself in odd situations where I’m using my phone as a jukebox. If you do too, you won’t find a phone whose speakers sound more loud and full than the BoomSound speakers on the HTC One M8. Since some people label gadgets as “sexy”, I’m calling the One M8′s speakers voluptuous: it’s a full and beautiful sound that carries itself well.

voluptuous-speakers

I find myself wanting that great sound in so many situational moments. Sometimes it’s sitting on the couch playing an immersive game like Dead Trigger 2 and the sound effects bring excitement to the action. Sometimes it’s with a group of friends with whom I want to share a Youtube video without cupping the speaker and oddly switching between looking and listening, looking and listening. Other times it’s just talking to someone on speaker phone and expecting good sound quality.

You’ll get okay sound quality with the Galaxy S5 but the further you turn up the volume the more tinny and shaky it sounds. That being said, Samsung’s audio quality while headphones are plugged in or while using bluetooth is very good. Nothing though – and I mean nothing – tops HTC BoomSound at this point in time.

Once again, there will be plenty of people who never use their phone speakers who disagree with this pick… and that’s fine. That’s good for you to know and you should calculate it into your personal buying decision.

Multimedia Winner: HTC One M8
Overall Score: 4 to 1 (HTC One M8)

Performance

This is a hard category to pin down, not only because benchmarks between the two devices vary based on what benchmarks you choose, but also because manufacturers have begun adjusting their hardware to specifically perform better in benchmarks. Not to mention, how you use your phone in real-life may vary from what the benchmark scores for and taking it one step further, how YOU use your phone will differ from me- and thus we could have totally different experiences.

Performance: Samsung Galaxy S5 vs HTC One M8

Based on my experience using both devices extensively for over a week, they were both top notch. They both were as swift and smooth as I’d expect from flagship phones by top manufacturers.

That being said, while I experienced virtually no hiccups from the Galaxy S5, I spotted a few roadbumps while using the HTC One M8. It’s quite possible that the blame should be placed on the shoulders of an app developer whose bad coding caused something flukey.

In the end, both devices performed so well that the winner came down to a rather nitpicky decision, but I’m comfortable picking the Galaxy S5 since my experience with its hardware performance was close to flawless. Stock Android evangelists may notice a slight delay (fractions of a second) in navigating, which can likely be blamed on Touchwiz.

Both devices run a Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 processor with the Galaxy S5′s being a tiny bit beefier.

Performance Winner: Samsung Galaxy S5
Overall Score: 4 to 2 HTC One M8

Battery

Where HTC picks up the win on design it simultaneously picks up the loss on battery life, but not because it didn’t perform well. Both phones had above average battery life that usually lasted me through the day without concern. The S5 and One M8 now both have special modes you can place your phone in for when battery life is at a premium and you desperately need to conserve.

s5-vs-m8-battery

Although battery life was comparable, I’m going with Samsung on this category for two primary reasons:

  • I preferred Samsung’s Power Saving Mode which offered two different severity levels as presets, especially enjoying the option to remove the backlit buttons and turning the phone gray scale.
  • Samsung’s back cover is removeable, so should I start to use the phone more heavily and require a bigger battery, an extended battery will likely be available. It’ll make the phone thicker, but you gotta do what you gotta do, right?

It should be noted that Samsung’s battery is slightly larger at 2800mAh compared to the One M8′s 2600mAh.

Battery Winner: Samsung Galaxy S5
Overall Score: 4 to 3 (HTC One M8)

Wildcards

Some features simply don’t fit into a category and in typical Samsung fashion, there are a bunch in the Galaxy S5. Only this time, instead of packing all the fun into the Software, Samsung has done some really interesting things on the hardware side.

The home button now doubles as a finger sensor, allowing you to lock your screen and other areas of your phone by sliding your finger over the home button and scanning your fingerprint. We’ve seen the idea in the iPhone 5S and although Samsung’s version doesn’t work as well yet, it’s still a pretty interesting feature tossed into the mix.

On the back of the phone is another sensor- a heart rate monitor. Activate it through Samsung’s S Health app, which is becoming quite the lifestyle hub, and it can read your heart rate by placing your finger over a grooved indentation just below the rear camera. It’s an accurate feature and definitely cool, but similar to the fingerprint scanner you’ve got to be incredibly precise where you put your finger, making it a bit frustrating.

The finger scanner and heart rate monitor are cool wildcards, but likely limited in use to a select percentage of the population. However, one new Samsung hardware feature takes the wildcard section all on its own: weatherproofing.

Waterproof: Samsung Galaxy S5 vs HTC One M8

The Galaxy S4 is IP67 certified which means you can use it in the rain, drop it in the toilet, use it in the shower, even submerge it in a couple feet of water while still recording video (don’t go any deeper)! If you’ve ever needed to replace a phone due to water damage you’ll appreciate this greatly and in reality, EVERY phone should have this feature. No longer do you need to fear water when you’ve got your S5, you can embrace it!

Wildcard Winner: Samsung Galaxy S5
Overall Score: 4 to 4 (tie)

Verdict

A tie? Blasphemy!

In all honesty it’s a pretty telling conclusion: both phones are great, include some awesome features, but have their flaws. Their pros and cons come in different areas, making each phone suitable for different types of people.

s5-vs-m8-winner

Personally, I’d go with the HTC One M8 because I’m dying for its audio experience, love its camera to pieces (simply fun to use), and have a separate camera I use for traveling. I’m a Galaxy Note 3 owner and would love try something new while I keep one eye on the upcoming Galaxy Note 4.

The Bottomline

Declaring a decisive winner is up to you, not me, as you’ll weigh the value of the above categories far differently based on your preferences and circumstances. Here are some suggestions based on the above.

Should you get the Galaxy S5 or HTC One M8?

  • If you listen to music on your phone constantly, get the HTC One M8
  • If you use your phone’s speaker often for music, videos, or games, get the HTC One M8
  • If you travel often and this will be your primary camera, get the Galaxy S5
  • If you’re clumsy or want to treat your phone with some liquid disrespect without breaking it (rain, shower, toilet, Seattle) , get the Galaxy S5
  • If you prefer a finely crafted device made of metal instead of plastic, get the HTC One M8

If you fit into a combination of the above, walk into a store, play with each, and make your decision with hands-on experience. If you want further counseling, don’t trust one sales person at random, instead head to Android Forums for advice from thousands.

And lastly, here is the spec comparison for your convenience:

Galaxy S5 vs HTC One M8 Specs

Which would YOU choose?

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10 “hidden” Samsung Galaxy S5 features you probably already know about (as told by Samsung) http://phandroid.com/2014/04/18/10-hidden-galaxy-s5-features/ http://phandroid.com/2014/04/18/10-hidden-galaxy-s5-features/#comments Fri, 18 Apr 2014 16:35:55 +0000 http://phandroid.com/?p=138494 Samsung Galaxy S5 hand DSC05788

Many people are of the popular opinion that TouchWiz has gotten bloated beyond repair. No matter which side of that line you stand on, TouchWiz on the Samsung Galaxy S5 is packed with more features than you know. Samsung has detailed 10 hidden features that many of us may or may not have known about. Grab your Galaxy S5 and get ready to dive in:

  1. You can write on it with a Pencil. For those times where a finger just isn’t enough. On a more normal note, we’re glad it doesn’t require a capacitive stylus for pen input. How to do it: Settings, then Display, then enable the ‘Increase touch sensitivity’ feature.
  2. Tilt the phone to construct a smart playlist. You can turn the phone to landscape mode while in the music player to get a smart playlist based on the currently playing song. Neato.
  3. Use the toolbox to get a shortcut to your favorite apps anywhere in the OS. We already knew this one, but I guess Samsung thought it was truly secret. You can press and hold it and drag it to the edit button if you want to edit the apps inside.
  4. Use “Private Mode” to protect your sensitive things. Because nothing’s worse than a snoopy child or spouse putting their nose where it doesn’t belong. Whether it’s photos, video, voice recordings, voicemail, documents or more, you can protect any of it by heading to the Settings menu.
  5. Kids Mode. Yup, give your child a safe sandbox in which to play with your phone. Parental controls are aplenty here, including the ability to set how much time they can use the phone before they’re locked out. You can even download new apps and have them show up as “gifts” on the Kid Mode home-screen so they’ll have a nice surprise waiting.
  6. Enable camera from the lock-screen. Settings > Lock Screen > Camera Shortcut. Voila — an icon that can take you directly into the camera from the lock-scree. Nothing new, exciting, hidden or secretive about that.
  7. New Camera Modes. Virtual tour lets you take a series of photos that can be presented as a digital tour for friends, family or clients later on, while shot and more gives you some post-snap effects to apply.
  8. Priority Senders in messaging. Get a lot of texts but only really care about a few people? Have their names stay at the top of the messaging app at all times — the others can wait.
  9. Show caller information while you’re in the call. Go to Settings > Call and check the Show Caller Information box to see the last message you got from them, and any recent updates from them on Google+.
  10. Accept incoming calls without being kicked from your app. This is probably the most useful of them all –there’s nothing worse than getting a call in the middle of a round of Quiz Up only for that annoying friend of yours to want to talk about absolutely nothing. The popup will let you answer (even in speaker mode, if you want) or decline the call without interrupting what you’re doing. Quite frankly, we wish all phones had this option. Settings > Call > Call Notification to enable that one.

And that’s about it. Obviously there’s a lot more that you can do on the Samsung Galaxy S5 — much of which we covered in our review, and some that will be touched on in upcoming tips and tricks articles — but this is a pretty nice starter kit to get you going. Let us know of anything cool you’ve found buried deep into the tons of settings menu this phone has.

[via Samsung]

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HTC said to be working on optical zoom lenses for 2015 http://phandroid.com/2014/04/18/htc-optical-zoom-cameras/ http://phandroid.com/2014/04/18/htc-optical-zoom-cameras/#comments Fri, 18 Apr 2014 15:13:04 +0000 http://phandroid.com/?p=138491 htc one m8 featured large camera

HTC has been taking a lot of flak for the cameras they’ve been sticking on their flagship devices. The HTC UltraPixel sensor from yesteryear is sufficient for most ordinary needs, though there is an eventual ceiling in terms of quality up against sensors inside phones like the iPhone 5S or the Samsung Galaxy S5.

But they could be looking to change that next year. Vodafone informant Symon Whitehorn apparently let slip that HTC is closest to the advances the mobile industry needs for smartphones to be able to outdo high-end point-and-shoot cameras, and even approach DSLR-like capabilities.

He said in order for any of that to happen we’d need to see some form of optical zoom, noting that we should be on the lookout for something from HTC within the next 12-18 months.

Not lost on us is the fact that there are phones with optical zoom lenses out there, such as the Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom and the upcoming Samsung Galaxy K. The difference is those phones add quite a bit of girth to add those capabilities — we imagine Vodafone’s insight into HTC’s plans hint toward that being possible in a more traditional, slim form factor.

Either way, it’s something HTC’s going to have to do if they want to change the public opinion that has grown about their imaging capabilities with the apparent lack of a vertical jump in their latest offering.

[via Vodafone]

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Verizon LG G2 KitKat upgrade now available through PC tool http://phandroid.com/2014/04/18/verizon-lg-g2-kitkat/ http://phandroid.com/2014/04/18/verizon-lg-g2-kitkat/#comments Fri, 18 Apr 2014 14:11:30 +0000 http://phandroid.com/?p=138489 lg-g2-6

Seems Verizon wanted to deliver some KitKat love without drumming up a ton of noise, as they’ve quietly started rolling the upgrade out the upgrade to their LG G2. It’s build VS98024A, but there’s one catch in order to get it — you’ll need a Windows PC, as it’s only available using the Verizon Software Upgrade Assistant.

The tool is available by hooking your LG G2 up to your Windows PC using a USB port. You should be prompted to install it automatically. From there, follow all the prompts and you should be well on your way to KitKat.

There’s no full changelog to be had at this time, though you can expect everything that comes with the base KitKat upgrade. Any LG or Verizon changes will have to come with official word, but we have a feeling that won’t take long to come to light. Give it a go on your G2 if you have one and let us know how it’s treating you!

[Thanks to everyone who sent this in!]

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Verizon DROID MAXX now available in two new colors, half the storage http://phandroid.com/2014/04/18/droid-maxx-new-colors/ http://phandroid.com/2014/04/18/droid-maxx-new-colors/#comments Fri, 18 Apr 2014 13:41:17 +0000 http://phandroid.com/?p=138486 droid maxx new colors

Verizon’s DROID phones are getting a bit long in the teeth, so the company feels the need to spice things up a bit. The Motorola DROID Maxx — considered to be the highest end model out of the three — is now available in a new glossy red package, as well as the kevlar black with chrome highlights. You can see images of the changes above.

But more than that, these things also come in at a $50 discount (making them $99.99) at the expense of half of its storage — down to 16GB from 32GB. It’s a shame Verizon decided to halve the storage considering that was one of the biggest redeeming factors about its lack of a microSD card slot, but if you aren’t down with that then you’re just as free to go with the original model.

You can find the models online today if you’re interested, but you won’t be able to get an in-store look until they hit shelves April 22nd. Swing over to Verizon to check them out.

[via Verizon]

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LG Lucid 3 now available from Verizon Wireless http://phandroid.com/2014/04/17/lg-lucid-3-now-available-from-verizon-wireless/ http://phandroid.com/2014/04/17/lg-lucid-3-now-available-from-verizon-wireless/#comments Thu, 17 Apr 2014 23:05:18 +0000 http://phandroid.com/?p=138460 LG-Lucid-3-Verizon Wireless

Arriving today at Verizon Wireless is the recently leaked LG Lucid 3. A variant of the LG L90 we took a look at during our time at Mobile World Congress 2014, the smartphone offers a fair amount of hardware, free of charge (with a 2-year contract and after $50 mail-in rebate). In an effort to get their wireless customers off their dumbphone, Verizon says they’ll even kick in an extra $50 in trade-in value for those who turn in their basic phone with Edge (but only for a limited time).

LG Lucid 3 specs

  • 4.7-inch qHD display
  • 1.2GHz Snapdragon 400 quad-core processor
  • 5MP camera
  • 1GB RAM
  • 8GB internal storage (micro SD card expansion slot)
  • 2,440mAh battery
  • NFC
  • Android 4.4.2 KitKat

As most new LG phones these days, the LG Lucid 3 features the manufacturer’s new “KockCode” feature, allowing you to secure your device with an invisible passcode, executed simply by tapping on the display. Similar to knock-to-wake, the code can be entered even while the device is sleeping for added convenience.

The phone may not “wow” you in the specs department, but then again, it’s not supposed to. With a healthy range of specs at an affordable price, the LG Lucid 3 makes a great smartphone for Android users on a budget.

Purchase on Verizon Wireless: LG Lucid 3

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