Phandroid » Industry News http://phandroid.com Android Phone News, Rumors, Reviews, Apps, Forums & More! Fri, 19 Dec 2014 02:52:41 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0 Verizon strikes patent deal with Google to fight off the trolls http://phandroid.com/2014/12/16/verizon-google-patents/ http://phandroid.com/2014/12/16/verizon-google-patents/#comments Tue, 16 Dec 2014 19:46:58 +0000 http://phandroid.com/?p=155370 verizon wireless logo brick wall featured

Looks like software vendors and OEMs aren’t the only ones looking to stop patent trolls dead in their tracks. Verizon is the latest to sign a deal with Google that will see them licensing Google extensive library of mobile patents, many of which were snapped up in their original purchase of Motorola Mobility.

Terms of the agreement weren’t disclosed, but we imagine Google dealt Verizon a fair price in order to make this happen. Verizon says they’ve been fighting the good fight when it comes to patent reform, and that while today’s deal is a good step to protect themselves by being better equipped to fight back against patent trolls, their heart is still set on seeing the entire system overhauled or reformed to keep people from stifling innovation.

Whether Verizon and all the other tech innovators are going to be successful in their plight remains to be seen, but for now all they can do is keep loading up the guns and aim them back at the very trolls who have them in their sights.

[via Verizon]

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T-Mobile Uncarrier 8.0 introduces Data Stash, which is “rollover” for your unused data http://phandroid.com/2014/12/16/t-mobile-data-stash/ http://phandroid.com/2014/12/16/t-mobile-data-stash/#comments Tue, 16 Dec 2014 15:35:15 +0000 http://phandroid.com/?p=155318 t-mobile-data-stash

T-Mobile’s John Legere has just announced Uncarrier 8.0, and it’s being called Data Stash. Basically, whatever 4G LTE data you don’t use from the data plan you pay for, you’ll get back to use on your next billing cycles.

The CEO cheekily referred to it as “rollover for data,” a nice nod to the rollover calling minutes trend that shook the wireless industry up way back when. Legere spoke about the travesty of customers paying for a set amount of data, but losing the unused amount at the end of each period as billing cycles reset.

The data can’t be banked forever — you have 12 months to use each bit of leftovers you didn’t get to eat each month — but that’s long enough to make us take notice and spark a degree of appreciation inside of us.

The program does require a Simple Choice postpaid plan with qualifying data of at least 3GB for smartphones and 1GB for tablets, so pre-paid customers need not apply. T-Mobile also stresses that this is available for any Simple Choice customers, whether they’re individuals, on a family plan or part of a business plan.

Here’s the full rundown on how it works:

  • Starting with your January bill cycle, Data Stash will be available to all T-Mobile postpaid Simple Choice customers.
  • Sign up for a postpaid Simple Choice Plan with 4G LTE data for your phone (minimum 3GB 4G LTE data) or tablet (minimum 1GB 4G LTE data).
  • Use your data all month to stream, surf, and download worry-free.
  • At the end of the month, all your unused 4G LTE data – rounded up to the nearest megabyte – rolls into your stash to be used any time in the next 12 months.

To top that off, the company man revealed that they’d be kickstarting the program by giving everyone 10GB of data to play with on top of the amount they already pay for each month. That bucket of data won’t expire until the end of next year so you’ll have plenty of time to chew through it.

As many bold moves as T-Mobile’s made over the past couple of years, this arguably contends for the biggest yet. It’s something that makes a lot of sense and one of those things that makes you wonder why it didn’t happen sooner. All we can hope for now is that other carriers fall in line to make this an industry standard feature of subscribing to wireless service.

[via T-Mobile]

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T-Mobile Uncarrier 8.0 announcement coming tomorrow http://phandroid.com/2014/12/15/t-mobile-uncarrier-8/ http://phandroid.com/2014/12/15/t-mobile-uncarrier-8/#comments Mon, 15 Dec 2014 15:56:32 +0000 http://phandroid.com/?p=155234 03/26/2014 T-Mobile Un-Leash Announcement

Welp, T-Mobile’s continuing their explosive Uncarrier movement with yet another announcement. Tomorrow is 8.0, and we should be expecting something big as T-Mobile has yet to disappoint on any of these announcements (well, unless you count the iPhone-specific ones as disappointments, anyway).

T-Mobile CEO John Legere will be on tap to discuss the company’s announcements, and it’s all being live streamed via Yahoo at 10:30am Eastern time for everyone to see. It should be live at this link here once that time comes so be sure to bookmark it and circle back. Of course, Phandroid will be on top of the news so don’t worry if you can’t watch it live.

T-Mobile’s moves over the past couple of years have forced competing carriers to step their game up and match the insane value that being part of Magenta provides. The carriers have seen increased churn rate (that is, people leaving to switch to another carrier), which means their pocket books have taken a bit of a beating.

It’s not enough of a beating for them to be concerned just yet, but if they let T-Mobile keep rolling with all these exciting announcements and perks it might not be long before they’re forced to match wits and ways. Whatever happens, though, consumers will be better off because of it.

[via T-Mobile]

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Unlock your Chromebook with Android 5.0 Lollipop’s Smart Lock http://phandroid.com/2014/12/08/unlock-chromebook-android-lollipop-smart-lock/ http://phandroid.com/2014/12/08/unlock-chromebook-android-lollipop-smart-lock/#comments Tue, 09 Dec 2014 02:41:10 +0000 http://phandroid.com/?p=154842 Chromebook_Nexus_Smart_Lock_Easy_Unlock

Back at Google IO 2014, we learned that Google would be bringing Easy Unlock or Smart Lock to Chromebooks later on this year. The feature would allow Google’s two computing platforms to work together, forming a trust relationship, and use that relationship to sign into your Chromebook without the need to enter a password every single time. As long as your smartphone is nearby, running Android 5.0 Lollipop, and unlocked, you can sign into your Chromebook with just the click of a button.

The Smart Lock feature isn’t available on the stable channel of Chrome OS yet, but is readily available if you’re okay with getting your hands a little dirty with the developer channel of Chrome OS. You’ll need to hit up your device’s About page and change your Chromebook to the developer channel. Once you select the proper channel, your Chromebook will download the developer channel update and reboot. Once you’re rebooted and running the latest developer version of Chrome OS, you’ll need to make a few more changes under the hood to enable Smart Lock as these features are still disabled by default.

Open up a Chrome browser window and type in chrome://flags. Next, you’ll want to navigate your way to the Easy Unlock and Easy Sign-On experimental features. You can find them by hitting Control-F and searching for ‘easy’. Once you find them, enable the features and reboot your Chromebook once again. Now when you head into Settings on your Chromebook, you should see the new option appear as shown below.

Smart_Lock_Chromebooks

 

Once you enable Smart Lock, your Chromebook will run you through the setup process, which attempts to Bluetooth pair your Chromebook with a nearby device running Android 5.0 Lollipop. If you have other Chromebooks, they’ll be synced automatically to allow the same paired device to unlock them too (if they’re on the developer channel with Smart Lock enabled). Below your profile icon on your Chromebook, you’ll now see a new lock icon which displays as amber when either your Android phone or tablet is locked or out of range. When you see a green unlocked icon, you’ll know that signing into your Chromebook is just a click away thanks to your unlocked Android device. Additionally, you can enable ‘Smart Lock Proximity Detection’ from chrome://flags, which will keep your Chromebook unlocked if your device is only a few feet away and not the default 100 feet.

Chromebook_Easy_Unlock_Nexus_6_Bluetooth Chromebook_Easy_Unlock_Nexus_6 Chromebook_Easy_Unlock

If you haven’t figured it out yet, this feature goes hand in hand with Smart Lock on your Android device. Having to constantly enter your password, PIN, or pattern on your smartphone just to keep your Chromebook unlocked might seem a little redundant or annoying. You can easily get around that annoyance by enabling Smart Lock on your Android device too. For example, if an Android Wear device is connected to your smartphone as a trusted device, your lockscreen will be disabled on our Android device and your Chromebook will be unlocked as a result, if all devices are in range. If you don’t have a Bluetooth device to keep your Android phone or tablet unlocked, you can enable Trusted Places as well.

Don’t worry, your devices don’t have to be unlocked all of the time with these features enabled. If you go from a secure setting to a less secure one, you can simply tap the unlocked icon on your Android device’s lockscreen or click the green unlocked icon below your profile and either device will ask you for a password the next time you attempt to use it.

While Smart Lock is an extremely powerful combination, it’s also worth mentioning that any time you disable device security there’s always a risk. You don’t have to enable these features as they’re not for everyone in every situation. If you want to give them a try, they’re available.

Now, if we could only unlock our Chromebooks from our Android Wear smartwatches and cut out the middle man.

[via Computerworld]

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New “G Pen” trademark suggests LG will challenge Samsung Galaxy Note’s S-Pen http://phandroid.com/2014/12/08/lg-g-pen-trademark/ http://phandroid.com/2014/12/08/lg-g-pen-trademark/#comments Mon, 08 Dec 2014 20:53:25 +0000 http://phandroid.com/?p=154785 lg-g3-stylus-3

Samsung made it cool to use a stylus with a smartphone again, and it seems a few of their competitors want in on the fun. One of those competitors is headquartered in their very own South Korean backyard, and we’re speaking of none other than LG.

The company tested out the use of a stylus with a smartphone with the LG G3 Stylus spin-off, though they failed to capture any meaningful interest. Aside from the fact that Samsung’s “been there, done that,” the LG G3 Stylus’s pen was a run of the mill capacitive stylus that had its own docking bay built into the smartphone. It doesn’t help that the phone’s specs screamed mid-range and couldn’t hold a candle to the original LG G3.

g-pen-trademark

But a new trademark by LG suggests they could be looking to get serious about this thing. The company has claimed “LG G Pen” in the USPTO, though the trademark filing doesn’t tell us much about their exact plans. The description is littered with vague and open-ended terms relating to pretty much any piece of technology you can think of, and even a few things outside that realm. (“Rings of precious metal,” anyone?)

There are many possibilities for the use of this name. It could be that LG’s looking to take that same capacitive stylus, sell it standalone and simply market it for use with any of their existing products. They could be rebranding it for use with the LG G4 when or if it eventually launches. We could even see it used as a major focal point for a new stylus or tablet altogether.

But none of that alone would steal any thunder from Samsung’s premier phablet. LG would have to do a lot more work to create an exciting stylus experience than to simply create a crawl space fit for a somewhat-ordinary plastic stick.

hover-note-4-phandroid

Samsung’s S-Pen for their Note line of devices employs many advanced bits of technology such as pressure sensitivity and and hover detection. That much is possible thanks to Samsung’s hefty stake in the world’s leading digitizer company Wacom, though LG shouldn’t have much trouble licensing the technology from the same or a competing company if they so wish. They’ll have to do that much if they wish to seriously challenge Samsung’s stronghold on the market they practically created.

LG has also trademarked “G Scrawl,” the description of which has equally as many open-ended terms as the G Pen’s. It’s possible this could be the name of a new app for scribbling pictures and notes that LG would look to market for the G Pen.

It doesn’t sound like LG will go it alone in the near future, either. Lenovo also trademarked a new stylus-related mark — WRITEit — that tells of an app that can interpret handwriting from the use of a stylus or digital pen.

We haven’t heard anything from Lenovo’s camp on the mobile front when it comes to a digitized stylus, though the company does currently sell stylus accessories for their ThinkPad computer/tablet hybrid lineup. Whether or not either of these companies are looking to one-up Samsung at their own game remains to be seen, but one thing’s for sure — a lot more companies are starting to realize the potential of marketing a pen to use with these huge smartphone and tablet displays being doled out as of late.

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Report: LG to put G Pro line on the sidelines to focus on flagship offerings http://phandroid.com/2014/12/08/lg-g-pro-sidelined/ http://phandroid.com/2014/12/08/lg-g-pro-sidelined/#comments Mon, 08 Dec 2014 17:30:41 +0000 http://phandroid.com/?p=154752 LG logo wm watermarked

It seems 2015 will be the year of downscaling for many smartphone manufacturers. A new report from Korean publication Herald Corp suggests LG is looking to slim down in the next year to come. According to them, LG feels that their LG G Pro line of smartphones is getting redundant and that they’ll be looking to get rid of it to focus on what should eventually be the LG G4.

LG introduced the G Pro series a couple of years ago to appease the crowd who valued bigger displays above all, and aside from increased screen size it typically employed similar or even slightly better specs than the flagship mainstay it looked to supplement. But considering LG has been pushing the size envelope on their main G lineup (the LG G3 is 5.5 inches) the LG G Pro is seemingly no longer necessary.

This allows LG to do more than just cut unnecessary fat. Taking another premium device out of the equation allows them to put an even bigger spotlight and focus on the main flagship. This is true not only for areas of advertising and marketing, but also in loading up the best possible specs and features into their main flagship that they can.

We’re still sure to see a spin-off device here and there (such as Mini variants and LG’s usual smattering of entry-level and mid-range options), but only one king can sit atop a throne, and for LG that’s likely to be the G4.

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HTC already planning a second RE Camera http://phandroid.com/2014/12/03/htc-re-sequel/ http://phandroid.com/2014/12/03/htc-re-sequel/#comments Wed, 03 Dec 2014 16:53:07 +0000 http://phandroid.com/?p=154466 htc-re-standing-colors

The HTC RE Camera, HTC’s first activity camera for folks who like recording their adventures hands-free, hasn’t proven it’s worth its skin, but the Taiwanese company is already planning on the sequel. HTC North Asia president Jack Tong confirmed as much to Focus Taiwan. The reasoning? Well, they just want to get more diverse in an increasingly competitive smartphone market.

Tough competition out in South Korea, Japan, China and here in the United States has made it tough for any competitor to maintain solid growth. Even the smartphone behemoth known as Samsung is beginning to feel the harsh effects of a declining market. It’s not all that odd to see HTC putting forth this much effort to enter an arena that they aren’t at all familiar with.

We’re not sure what it says to the current HTC RE’s sales performance that HTC is already thinking on its successor (especially considering the company has yet to release public sales figures), but if it’s bad then at least it isn’t so bad that they don’t believe there’s a market for it. For now, we’ll continue to enjoy the HTC RE that’s only been on the market for a month’s time.

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Sprint will cut your bill in half for switching from Verizon or AT&T http://phandroid.com/2014/12/02/sprint-cut-bill-in-half/ http://phandroid.com/2014/12/02/sprint-cut-bill-in-half/#comments Tue, 02 Dec 2014 16:35:17 +0000 http://phandroid.com/?p=154359 sprint cut your bill in half event

Sprint’s making it pretty hard to consider scratching them off your list of carriers to consider switching to this holiday season. A new promotion will have them “cutting your phone bill in half” for switching from either AT&T or Verizon. Their example is a family of four on Verizon paying $140 per month for 10GB of shared data. Sprint will give you that same amount of data, as well as unlimited talk and text, for $70.

The promotion begins December 5th, and Sprint says it’ll be as easy as printing out your latest bill or uploading it to their website in order for them to hook you up with the appropriate goods. They’re also still running a big ETF promotion that will pay your way out of any lingering contracts you might be tied to (up to $350 per line).

One caveat is that you will need to trade in your old Verizon or AT&T phone when purchasing a new Sprint phone, though that shouldn’t be much of an issue if you don’t plan on going back to those carriers anytime soon. But that’s pretty much the only downside we can find. Sprint says you’ll enjoy your discounted rate plan for as long as you are a customer so you could have those rates for the next 10 years if you so wish.

Unfortunately there’s no word on how long this will last, so you’ll want to take advantage of it as soon as possible if you feel like it’s something that could help you and your family save a crap ton of money. Head here for all the details.

[via Sprint]

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Android 5.0 Lollipop is still on less than 0.1% of all Android devices, but how long will that last? http://phandroid.com/2014/12/02/android-lollipop-adoption-rates/ http://phandroid.com/2014/12/02/android-lollipop-adoption-rates/#comments Tue, 02 Dec 2014 13:35:49 +0000 http://phandroid.com/?p=154340 android platform distribution december

Google has released the latest platform distribution numbers for Android, a periodic report that gives developers an idea of what they should be targeting when developing their apps. The biggest takeaway for the 7-day period ending December 1st? Android 5.0 Lollipop isn’t even represented on the chart. Google doesn’t show platforms which account for less than 0.1% of the total install base, which means Android 5.0 Lollipop hasn’t yet made a meaningful dent in adoption rates.

But that’s not to sound doom and gloomy — Lollipop is still relatively new, with most folks only getting a taste if they have a Nexus or Google Play Edition phone. That, or be one of the happy campers who bought Motorola’s latest phones. New platforms always take a few months to get off the ground and into many of the popular handsets so this shouldn’t be alarming anyone at the current juncture. KitKat didn’t have a hot start either, but it went on to command a 33.9% of the share as of yesterday.

All of that is to say that the lack of Lollipop isn’t something to be worried about. It will come, and it will be a glorious time when it does. For now, just sit tight and enjoy KitKat (it’s always getting new features at a frequent pace thanks to Google Play Services).

The rest of the numbers lay out as you’d expect them to. Alongside the aforementioned KitKat and Lollipop percentages, Jelly Bean combines for a whopping 48.7% of the share, Ice Cream Sandwich is still alive and well at 7.8%, and Gingerbread unfortunately still lingers around with a pretty good chunk at 9.1%.

[via Google]

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Google Nexus 6 review, a whale of a phone built by Motorola http://phandroid.com/2014/11/30/nexus-6-review/ http://phandroid.com/2014/11/30/nexus-6-review/#comments Sun, 30 Nov 2014 16:22:55 +0000 http://phandroid.com/?p=154135 Nexus_6_Midnight_Blue-4

Since the release of the Nexus One in January 2010, Google has made the Nexus line of devices some of the most important devices across the entire Android community. Nexus devices represent Android as a whole and in theory pack everything that Google has to offer, acting as somewhat as a reference device for the Android ecosystem. With the launch of Android 5.0 Lollipop the device set to tackle the daunting task of showcasing Google’s ‘sweetest’ update to date is none other than the Motorola made Nexus 6.

When Google purchased Motorola Mobility for 12.5 billion dollars in 2011, many Android fans became elated as Motorola has often been seen as an industry leader when it comes to design, quality, and performance. The thought was that someday we’d see a Motorola made Nexus phone and we’d see a marriage of hardware and software to the tone of something that only Apple could accomplish. While Google has since sold Motorola to Lenovo, we’re still seeing that dream come true in the form of a Nexus.

Nexus_6_Midnight_Blue_Cloud_White-3

In the past, Nexus phones may have lacked or had a subpar feature, such as battery life or camera quality, and it was generally accepted due to the phones extremely wallet friendly pricing. That isn’t the case this time around. Google didn’t focus on aggressive pricing as they did with the Nexus 4 and Nexus 5, but have accomplished something that’s possibly even more important to the average consumer, launching on every major carrier here in the United States. With top tier hardware and carrier support, Google’s strategy with the Nexus 6 differs from previous devices not only with quality, but with pricing and availability.

Before we get started, it’s worth mentioning that I was pretty critical of Motorola’s “Shamu” when rumors started to surface surrounding the Nexus 6. We were flooded with credible reports stating that Google and Motorola were working on a phablet, a term that just makes me shudder. I very publicly stated that a smartphone of this size would not be something on my wishlist, in fact, I stated it would be the first Nexus phone that I didn’t want at all. I’ve never owned a phone that sported the “phablet” (shudder) moniker as my daily driver until now.

How have my thoughts changed over the past 5 months, from rumor, to actually using the massive phone? Let’s get started with the Nexus 6 review below.

Nexus 6 Specifications

  • Price: $649 / $699 from Google Play Store
  • SoC: Qualcomm Snapdragon 805
  • CPU: Quad-core 2.7GHz Krait 450
  • GPU: Adreno 420
  • Display: 1440 x 2560 5.96″, 493PPI
  • Memory: 3GB RAM
  • Storage: 32GB / 64GB (no microSD)
  • Cameras: 13MP rear with dual-LED flash / 2MP front
  • Battery: 3220mAh
  • Gorilla Glass 3
  • NFC
  • Qi Wireless Charging
  • Ports: MicroUSB, 3.5mm Audio
  • Dimensions: 159.3 x 83 x 10.1 mm
  • Weight: 184g

Hardware Design and Feel

The overall design of the Nexus 6 is somewhat different than what we’ve seen from previous Nexus phones and tablets over the past couple years, even including the new Nexus 9. The Nexus 6 doesn’t sport a flat back as other Nexus devices. In all honesty, it’s literally a blown up Moto X 2014, from the speaker grills, to the SIM tray, to the back, and to the metal edges that encompass the phone.

Nexus_6_vs_Moto_X

There are some differences between these cousin devices though. Unlike the Moto X from this year, the Motorola dimple on the back of the Nexus 6 is more akin to the style of the original Moto X from last year. The power buttons have been slightly moved too from the smaller Moto X design, moving them down more towards the middle of the phone to accommodate the larger size.

The Nexus 6 is a very solid feeling smartphone that just feels great in the hand albeit it’s massive size. The curved backing of the Nexus 6 allows the phone to fit and feel very comfortable in the palm of your hand. That said, not all tasks can be completed one handed all of the time. I find myself attempting to use the Nexus 6 one-handed, which does work for many short termed tasks as I mentioned, but ultimately using the phone two-handed for longer interactions is the way to go as it’s much more comfortable.

Nexus_6_Buttons

The phone does fit in my front pocket without any issue, though I do find myself having to adjust my tighter jeans a little bit before I sit down. It’s nothing that’s out of the ordinary as I’ve had to adjust for a large set of keys from time to time, so that I do no stab myself in the leg. It’s something you get used to and eventually it’s a task that becomes second nature. And sometimes, I’ll just take the phone out of my pocket before I sit down too.

Nexus_6_Cloud_White

As someone that has never used a phone that’s even close to this size before, I will say that after a week I didn’t mind the large size anymore.

Display

The 5.96 inch display of the Nexus 6 is truly one of the better displays you’ll find around thanks to the AMOLED panel. The 1440 x 2560 resolution with 493 pixels per inch provides an incredible viewing experience and a great amount of detail. On some lesser dense displays I can see the pixels. On this display, I could not. The display on the Nexus 6 is very vibrant with color and provides excellent viewing angles.

Where the glass meets the side of the phone, the minimal bezels and sweeping design allow for easy side swiping navigation gestures as your fingers very naturally glide over the edges. While this does help, no matter how you look at it, the Nexus 6 is a huge phone and navigating the large display will not be for everyone.

WiFi, Bluetooth, Data, and Call Quality

Motorola is known far and wide throughout the Android world as providing some of the best radios in the business. The Nexus 6 backs up those claims with ease. I had great WiFi performance, connecting to my 802.11AC router at home with impeccable speeds. The Bluetooth 4.1 radio connected fine to my Bluetooth speakers, Google Glass, and Moto 360 without hiccups. I live in an area that has very poor cell reception, but the Nexus 6 performed well while on Straight Talk via AT&T’s network. At home my dBm ranged from about -100 to -119 (not the phones fault) and I had much better service around town with a dBm in the -90’s.

Call quality on the Nexus 6 is on par with the rest of the device’s hardware. Voice comes in loud and clear, without the need to strain your ear to hear the person on the other end of the call.

Speakers and Audio

Thankfully, the Nexus 6 sports two front facing speakers and not just two front facing speaker grills like the Moto X 2014. The Nexus 6 has not only great audio quality, but produces sound that is actually quite loud. In fact, I found myself turning the volume down a notch or two during frequent jam sessions with the Nexus 6 around the house.

I have a fairly long commute and often listen to Google Play Music while in the car. With every smartphone I’ve owned, I found myself subconsciously reaching for the volume button on my steering wheel to crank up volume. My car doesn’t haven’t Bluetooth support, so sadly this doesn’t do anything. With the Nexus 6, I found myself not yearning for louder music as often as I had with other smartphones. Simply put, I’m quite pleased with the speaker performance of the Nexus 6 which is a night and day different when being compared to the Nexus 5.

Nexus_6_Speaker

Additionally, the speaker grills on the Nexus 6 aren’t flush with the display surface, jutting out ever so slightly. You’ll either love or hate this. Personally, I like this feature as the speakers ever so slightly lift the display off of the surface if you happen to place the phone face down, helping to prevent minor scratches.

Camera

Another pain point for Nexus users has often been the camera. There’s no easy way to say it: Nexus devices generally have subpar camera output, especially in low-light. However the Nexus 6, with it’s focus on hardware quality and design, performs just as well as the rest of the package in the camera department, and I’m quite impressed.

The rear camera on the Nexus 6 sports a 13 megapixel shooter with auto focus, optical image stabilization, and dual-LED “ring” flash, which is powered by the Sony IMX214 CMOS sensor.  The rear camera is able to capture 4K video at 30FPS.

The front facing camera on the Nexus 6 comes in the 2MP HD flavor and is able to capture video at 1080P.

My impressions of the Nexus 6 camera are quite positive as mentioned above, producing great photos in normal mode, eye popping vibrant photos in HDR, and performing quite well in low light scenarios. However, the occasional HDR overprocessing does exist and sometimes normal photos can seem a bit washed out. These very minor issues can most likely be tweaked with software. Overall, the quality and detail of the Nexus 6 camera is a major improvement over previous Nexus offerings.

Nexus 6 Normal Nexus 6 HDR Nexus 6 Normal Nexus 6 HDR Nexus 6 Normal Nexus 6 HDR Nexus 6 Normal Nexus 6 HDR Nexus 6 Normal Nexus 6 HDR Nexus 6 Normal Nexus 6 HDR Nexus 6 Normal Nexus 6 HDR Nexus 6 Nighttime Flash Nexus 6 Low Light No Flash Nexus 6 Low Light Flash Nexus 6 Low Light HDR Nexus 6 Nighttime Indoor Flash Nexus 6 Nighttime Flash

Everyone has different expectations when choosing a mobile camera. Take a look for yourselves at the images above before you make a decision on the camera. You can also view all of my photos taken with the Nexus 6 here.

Battery Life

The final pain point of Nexus users or Android users as  whole surrounds battery life. The battery life portion of the review is always quite hard and highly subjective as each user has quite the different setup, including usage habits, applications installed, and even signal strength can play a major role in overall longevity.

The Nexus 6 is equipped with a 3220mAh battery, which depending on who you are, might seem a little small seeing as the battery has to push a QHD display and a beefy Snapdragon 805 processor. The battery optimizations done in Android 5.0 Lollipop gives the Nexus 6 respectable battery life, maybe even great battery life depending on your use cases.

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As I sit here writing this review, my Nexus 6 is at 17%, has been off the charger for 24 hours, and has a little over 2 hours of screen on time. Based on my usage the past day, the battery meter is telling me that I have about 10 hours left until I’m fully drained.

Throughout the past week I’ve had similar experiences, able to gain 4+ hours of screen on time during 18-20 hours of use or 3 hours of screen on time with about 28-30 hours off the charger more than once. That’s not always the case though. On two occasions I had my battery die in about 14 hours, with only 3 hours of screen on time, however I do believe the severe lack of service was to blame for one of those days and the other was due to an odd Google Play Services bug which kept my phone awake for 3 hours straight.

Performance

And speaking of bugs, let’s talk a little bit about the performance of the Nexus 6. I’m not going to read a lot into benchmarks or numbers as I don’t feel they’re worth all that much in the grand scheme of things. I’m much more concerned with real world scenarios. Additionally, some benchmark applications aren’t updated to support the hardware properly or even the latest version of Android properly. For those that like big numbers though, here they are:

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The Nexus 6 takes a very long time to start-up, I’m talking a little over a minute. I wouldn’t say this is that big of a deal, because most people don’t reboot their devices all that often. It’s just mildly annoying. That said, once your device is up and running the Nexus 6 is extremely fast and responsive.

Moving around the Google Now Launcher I see no jitteriness or lag moving from home screen to home screen or launching the application drawer and swiping through the pages. The animations on the Nexus 6 don’t hinder performance or slow down the devices hardware unlike other OEM devices. I don’t see any lag while launching the Overview (Recents) or when tapping the Home button.

Sometimes opening the camera can be a little slower than I would prefer, this seems to be a random occurrence though. No matter if the camera opened slow or fast, shooting a photo is always instant, unless doing HDR, which does take an extra second to begin processing, which then takes about 3 seconds itself. You can continue shooting more photos while they’re being processed in the the background.

Shooting video in 4K seems to work quite well, unless you’re moving around. As you move the phone around you’ll notice a slight hiccup from time to time, skipping a frame. This doesn’t always translate to what is recorded when you’re watching the video as you can see in the sample above. My guess is the display is having trouble keeping up with what’s being recorded. Once again this is most likely a software bug that can be fixed in the future.

When it comes to stability, the stock firmware on the Nexus 6 is very stable, with only minor hiccups. I’ve had the Google Camera app on the Nexus 6 crash on me a few times and I’m not quite entirely sure what caused the issue. I believe this happens when switching from HDR to normal and back and forth again over and over while also looking at photos as they’re queued up to be processed. I’ve also had Google Cloud Print crash on me a number of times and I’ve never even attempted to print anything from my Nexus 6. So there’s that. Everything else is very reliable and very fast though.

Android 5.0 Lollipop

The Nexus 6 is the very first phone to ship with Android 5.0 Lollipop and will act as a reference device for the entire ecosystem. I won’t go too far into all of the ins and outs of Lollipop nor will I touch on some of the more prominent features as these aspects of the platform have already been covered in Phandroid’s previous articles.

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The Nexus 6 comes with encryption enabled out of the box and you won’t be able to turn it off unless you’re into tinkering with your Nexus. This is a new feature of Android 5.0 Lollipop and will be enabled on all future new devices. While this is a great step forward in terms of security and privacy, some will argue that encryption hinders the device’s performance. I haven’t tested this theory, but there’s plenty of supporting evidence out there.

Android 5.0 Lollipop also allows carriers to automatically install their bloatware applications if you activate your phone with their SIM card inserted at the time of activation. These applications are generally for account management and can easily be uninstalled to remove their blemish from your stock Android experience.

Lollipop also has a new feature where a device will verify the subscription status when a user attempts to use the built in WiFi Hotspot functionality. I’m using Straight Talk via AT&T’s network and my Nexus 6 wants me to visit AT&T’s website or call AT&T’s customer support while trying to enable the built-in WiFi Hotspot. Since I’m not an AT&T customer, that warning message that’s display is of little value to me. I do find it slightly annoying that I can no longer tether, which I only used in very rare situations, but it’s technically not supported on Straight Talk, so I’m okay with it.

One of the better features of the Nexus 6 and Lollipop surrounds notifications. Ambient Display on the Nexus 6 or Lollipop in general is Google’s take on what Moto X users have been accustomed to for a while. The screen will pulse in a low power state when the phone has active notifications ready to be seen. Whenever you touch the screen, the display lights up, ready for action. Additionally, when there are no notifications to be seen and you’d like to see the time, picking up the Nexus 6 and bringing it into the upright position displays the time. Then, just a simple upwards flick of your finger across the screen unlocks the phone and you’re ready to go.

There is no Tap to Wake functionality as seen on the Nexus 9, however with Ambient Display and the Nexus 6 waking upon picking up the device, I really see no need for it and did not yearn for that feature at all.

Again, the Nexus 6 is a massive phone. Normally devices in this category have some sort of functionality to help users deal with the extra screen real estate. Apple offers reachability and Samsung offers split screen or windowed mode. While not everyone uses those features on their respective devices, it would have been nice if Google would have implemented a feature or two into Lollipop to take advantage of the extra screen space.

Conclusion

Coming from the Moto X 2013, then the Moto X 2014, and disliking extremely large phones in general, I was quite apprehensive about Google’s Nexus 6. If I haven’t made myself clear, this is an insanely large phone that just will not work for everyone. However, given the chance to use it for over a week, I don’t mind it’s size and every other phone feels extremely tiny now. Even though the Nexus 6 is one of the larger flagship phones currently available, Motorola has done a fine job at maximizing the display, producing a device with minimal bezels, and more importantly, the Nexus 6 feels extremely solid and well put together in your hand.

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The only problem right now seems to be actually obtaining the Google’s “Unicorn” device. They’re still back ordered and many are still awaiting shipment details. And to top it all off, the Nexus 6 isn’t available on all carries at this time. Only Sprint, AT&T and T-Mobile are selling the Nexus 6, besides the Google Play Store and Motorola’s online store.

At the beginning of my review I mentioned that the Nexus 6 is supported on all major carriers in the US, while that is technically true, it does come with a major asterisk. At the time of writing, you cannot purchase the Nexus 6 from Verizon nor can you activate a new SIM / account with the Nexus 6 in mind. You need to go through a few small hoops, such as buying a new SIM, activating the SIM in another Verizon device, then taking that activated SIM out of that phone, and finally popping it into the Nexus 6. If you’re already a Verizon customer with a nano-SIM all you need to do is transfer the SIM from your current device to the Nexus 6 and you’re all set. This really only causes issues for those looking to move to Big Red and will continue to do so until Verizon officially supports the device.

If the Verizon debacle doesn’t apply to you, I urge you to head into a store and check out the Nexus 6 before purchasing it. It’s a very large device that just won’t work for everyone. If you can handle all that Shamu has to offer, the Motorola built Nexus 6 is probably one of the top designed phones available on the market right now.

As for me, I was wrong. I won’t be going back to the Moto X after all. The Nexus 6 has superior battery life, a superior camera, and will receive the latest bug fixes and enhancements for Android 5.0 Lollipop before the Moto X. And after all, the Nexus 6 is Motorola made. It screams quality from every angle of the device, just as we’ve been hoping for years. We finally have our Motorola made Nexus and I couldn’t be happier.Nexus_6_Midnight_Blue_Cloud_White-2

Be sure to leave us a comment  below and let us know what you think of the latest Nexus phone and don’t forget to drop by our official Nexus 6 forums for additional tips, tricks, and information.

 

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Samsung being sued for supposedly stealing “Milk” name http://phandroid.com/2014/11/25/samsung-milk-lawsuit/ http://phandroid.com/2014/11/25/samsung-milk-lawsuit/#comments Tue, 25 Nov 2014 16:20:05 +0000 http://phandroid.com/?p=154003 samsung milk video icon

Samsung Milk Music and Milk Video have proven to be nice services for helping folks discover new digital media, but it appears the service has landed them in a bit of trouble. The Wall Street Journal reports that Samsung is being sued by Milk Studios over use of the name in Samsung’s latest apps.

Samsung reportedly received requests to stop using the name as early as March, though after months of mulling it over they decided they would continue to use it. Samsung and Milk Studios actually have a bit of history, with the former said to have used the latter’s services quite a bit (18 different contracts) in the past.

Milk Studios makes its name and fame from its photography and multimedia studios in Los Angeles and New York, renting out space for folks who need fashionista backdrops for their photo shoots. Milk Studios also deals in areas of film and television casting, advertising, fashion and art and more — your typical high-end artsy fartsy company.

Unfortunately Samsung declined to comment so the company hasn’t yet told their side of the story. We imagine they’ll be looking to find a way to keep the “Milk” name attached to their apps, whether that be through settlements or a legal loophole. Or perhaps they’re confident that they have rights to the name altogether. Of course, Samsung has much bigger legal matters on their hand at the moment so perhaps they just aren’t interested in crying over spilled milk.

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Report: Samsung missed Galaxy S5 sales expectations by 40%, looking to relieve JK Shin of duties http://phandroid.com/2014/11/24/samsung-galaxy-s5-sales-2/ http://phandroid.com/2014/11/24/samsung-galaxy-s5-sales-2/#comments Mon, 24 Nov 2014 13:32:03 +0000 http://phandroid.com/?p=153886 Samsung Galaxy S5 DSC05785

The news for Samsung just keeps getting worse and worse. The South Korean company found itself on a bit of a skid in 2014, missing revenue and profit estimates left and right. Much of that was due to a couple of miscues in mobile that led to executive JK Shin getting a hefty pay cut and Samsung making a major change to their production strategy for 2015.

But things may be worse than we originally imagined. According to the Wall Street Journal, Samsung sold just 12 million units of the Samsung Galaxy S5 in its first four months on sale, which is around 4 million units shy of where the Galaxy S4 was within the same time frame. That may sound like a lot by any other company’s standards, but Samsung is the top dog in the smartphone game and they assumed they’d be able to sell a lot more.

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The company reportedly missed estimates by a whopping 40%, which means they spent a ton of money producing a ton of units that will just sit inside warehouses. The report suggests Samsung missed expectations in all markets aside from the United States, with the biggest drop coming in China — sales were down an alarming 50% in that corner of the globe.

Much has been made about the recent uptick of competition in China, with companies like Xiaomi and Meizu coming to market with impressive devices with equally impressive price tags. Samsung’s name alone might have been enough to help them edge the competition just a couple of short years ago, but this emergence of quality, affordable products seems to be putting a bigger dent in their bottom line than even they may have imagined.

So what else is Samsung looking to do to help overcome these deficits? Well, the same report goes on to suggest that head of mobile JK Shin might be handing his keys over to co-CEO Yoon Boo-keun. The duo were appointed joint CEOs (the former of mobile and the latter of consumer electronics) back in 2013 following pleasing results in their respective areas of business. This move would look to consolidate consumer electronics and mobile into one division, with just a lone CEO overseeing everything.

More than just disappointing performance, though, this shift could spawn from Samsung’s recent surge in the smart home area. With every appliance and TV looking to become “smart” it only makes sense that mobile and consumer electronics become one in the same.

It’s not that the current dual-pronged setup is holding Samsung back (we imagine their divisions all work quite well together as is), but there’s no reason they can’t use this opportunity to adopt a new look as they attempt to climb back atop the mountain they’ve been on all these years.

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Sony’s 21 megapixel Exmor RS IMX230 smartphone camera sensor looks to change the game for 2015 http://phandroid.com/2014/11/17/sony-exmor-rs-imx230-official/ http://phandroid.com/2014/11/17/sony-exmor-rs-imx230-official/#comments Mon, 17 Nov 2014 16:12:29 +0000 http://phandroid.com/?p=153336 Sony-Building-Logo-600x450

Sony this morning announced a new camera sensor made for smartphones that they’ll look to introduce starting April 2015. It’s the Sony Exmor RS IMX230, a stacked 21 megapixel CMOS sensor that features the world’s first image plane phase detection autofocus system that makes for super fast focusing.

Alongside fast focus, image plane phase detection helps improve focus tracking for fast-moving targets, something other smartphones look to handle with software but often aren’t up to scratch. Sony uses 192 different autofocus points to help achieve that, a mark rivaling what you’d find inside a mirrorless SLR camera.

Sony also mentioned that the sensor is capable of capturing high resolution HDR images, as well as capturing HDR-enhanced 4K HD footage (most phones will lower image quality to equip HDR capabilities). For comparison’s sake, they note that the 13 megapixel IMX135 sensor captures HDR images at 3.2 effective megapixels, while the IMX230 can grab the full capabilities of the sensor. Here’s a quick comparison shot to note the massive difference in image quality:

sony imx230 sample comparison

The achievement is such an important one as HDR technology becomes an industry standard for folks who want to capture images and footage with balanced lighting. So when’s it coming? Tough to say for sure. April 2015 availability of the sensor doesn’t mean we’ll be seeing it in smartphones that soon.

We imagine Sony will load their biggest 2015 flagships up with it when that time does come, though, and we wouldn’t be surprised to see other OEMs tap Sony for the sensor in various smartphones at its reasonable price of around $18 per unit. Sony is also planning a 16 megapixel unit with the same features, though that particular sensor isn’t expected to arrive until later in 2015. Unfortunately there aren’t any other samples to be had from Sony at this point, but we’ll be looking to chase some down as time goes on.

[via Sony]

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Verizon’s updated ETF policy won’t start shaving dollars off until 8 months in http://phandroid.com/2014/11/14/verizon-etf-changes/ http://phandroid.com/2014/11/14/verizon-etf-changes/#comments Fri, 14 Nov 2014 20:48:43 +0000 http://phandroid.com/?p=153302 verizon-ominous

Folks looking to sign up with Verizon won’t like this one: they have made a pretty big change to how their ETF policy works. As it stood just yesterday, the company would hit you with a $350 early termination fee for breaking out of a smartphone contract within its first month, though they’d shave off $10 every month until it expired.

That is no longer the case. A recent change to the policy now  keeps the fee firmly at $350 throughout the first 7 months of a contract. It isn’t until the 8th month that you’ll begin to see the fee deteriorate, and it’s broken down like so:

  • $10 reduction each month between the 8th and 18th month
  • $20 reduction each month between the 19th and 23rd month
  • $60 reduction on the final month.

Comes out to be about the same by the end of it all, but it certainly doesn’t look as appealing to break out within the first year and a half of the contract’s life. This is no doubt a move to counter T-Mobile’s promise to pay folks’ early termination fees for leaving their current carriers. Make it much more expensive for T-Mobile and it just might pressure the carrier to back out of that promise.

Of course, such a move could also note that the tactic is working beyond their wildest imagination. T-Mobile has added more and more customers each quarter, after all, and they’ve stolen the title of fastest growing carrier thanks to their new unCarrier strategy.

We’ve always gushed over the potential T-Mobile’s bold moves would have on the competitive state of the industry, though we’d rather see competing carriers look to add more value to their offerings instead of using sly tactics like this to try and stiff the competition.

A business has got to do what it’s got to do, though, and you can’t really tell Verizon much about how to run theirs — they still command the largest user base and the best network despite being known to have some of the priciest service, after all. The change goes into effect starting today for new contracts, though any contracts signed prior to the change are still subject to the old $10 deduction each month. You can read the full text of the change straight ahead.

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WHAT HAPPENS IF MY POSTPAY SERVICE IS CANCELED BEFORE THE END OF MY CONTRACT TERM?

If you’re signing up for Postpay Service, you’re agreeing to subscribe to a line of Service either on a month–to–month basis or for a minimum contract term, as shown on your receipt or order confirmation. (If your Service is suspended without billing, that time doesn’t count toward completing your contract term.) Once you’ve completed your contract term, you’ll automatically become a customer on a month–to–month basis for that line of Service. If you cancel a line of Service, or if we cancel it for good cause, during its contract term, you’ll have to pay an early termination fee. If your contract term results from your purchase of an advanced device on or after November 14, 2014, your early termination fee will be $350, which will decline by: $10 per month in months 8–18, $20 per month in months 19–23, and $60 in the final month of your contract term. For other contract terms entered into on or after November 14, 2014, your early termination fee will be $175, which will decline by: $5 per month in months 8–18, $10 per month in months 19–23, and $30 in the final month of your contract term. If your contract results from your purchase of an advanced device prior to November 14, 2014, your early termination fee will be $350 minus $10 for each full month of your contract term that you complete. For other contract terms entered into prior to November 14, 2014, your early termination fee will be $175 minus $5 for each full month of your contract term that you complete. Cancellations will become effective on the last day of that month’s billing cycle, and you are responsible for all charges incurred until then. Also, if you bought your wireless device from an authorized agent or third–party vendor, you should check whether they charge a separate termination fee.

[via Verizon]

 

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Samsung Mobile chief gets pay cut by nearly 50% following poor performance http://phandroid.com/2014/11/14/samsung-mobile-pay-cut/ http://phandroid.com/2014/11/14/samsung-mobile-pay-cut/#comments Fri, 14 Nov 2014 17:41:43 +0000 http://phandroid.com/?p=153278 Samsung Galaxy S4 JK Shin

While Samsung still sits firmly atop the smartphone world, the company hasn’t been able to maintain the same pace of growth they enjoyed throughout the past few years. After recent financial results showed a 60% drop in net profit year-over-year, Samsung Mobile head JK Shin has taken a pretty steep pay cut. He was paid $630,000 for last quarter’s performance, nearly half of the $1.5 million he earned in Q2.

Despite the poor performance, Samsung as a whole continues to rake in the dough. They reported revenue of $43 billion in the third quarter for a still-not-bad profit boost of $4.3 billion. So why the sharp decline? It’s tough to say without a clear look inside Samsung’s operations, though it’s possible the company’s desire to push innovation in areas of TV and mobile could be driving the costs of research and development way up.

Another possibility is that Samsung simply can’t stop some of these up-and-coming smaller guys from eating into their market share. Worldwide smartphone share is shifting day by day, with manufacturers from the Asian sector seeing perhaps the biggest uptick in market share and sales. Affordable, yet capable, smartphones from Chinese and Taiwan OEMs are capturing the interests and dollars of many, and stiffened mobile competition overall (from the big guys like HTC, Sony, LG and Motorola) means Samsung doesn’t have it quite as easy as they once did.

There’s no easy answer for rebounding, but this price cut for JK Shin should be a big enough kick in the pants to find whatever strategy they can to make sure they reverse course and get back on track to the sort of growth Samsung’s shareholders are used to. We’ll see if the launch of the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 and Note Edge will do anything to help Samsung out as we look ahead to 2015.

[via Wall Street Journal]

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