Android Advisor Issue 08 - 2014 UK

May 27, 2016 | Author: Keisuke Vorarlberna | Category: Types, Creative Writing
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Android Advisor Issue...

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LATEST SMARTPHONE, TABLET AND APP REVIEWS

ANDROID

ISSUE

08

ADVISOR

Android L vs iOS 8

How Samsung, Sony, HTC, LG and Motorola killed the iPhone 6

BEST NEW TABLETS

FOR ADULTS AND KIDS

Welcome... I

t’s that time of year when Apple launches its new tablets and smartphones – and now smartwatches – in an attempt to claw back market share from Android. Is it going to work? Not a chance. Because while Apple is busy catching up with Android, Google is on to bigger and better things. Such as Android L. We’ll take an early look at the differences between Android L and iOS 8 overleaf. Samsung is Google’s best-known hardware partner – the number of Android phones, tablets and smartwatches it sells is frankly crazy. But at least you can guarantee there is something for every budget and every type of person; the same isn’t true for Apple’s line-up. We pit the best of Apple against the best of Samsung from page 28, and discuss which manufacturer you should look to when buying your next mobile device on page 12. Of course, there’s really no need for all these petty Android vs iOS, and Samsung vs Apple, arguments. We’re not in the playground now. And the fact is competition will only ever be a positive thing for consumers (read our thoughts on page 20). But if you want competition you’ve got it: there is so much great new tech out there right now – from tablets and phones to smartwatches and accessories. It’s a great time to be an Android fan. As always, we hope you’ve enjoyed this issue of Android Advisor. Feel free to send us your feedback via facebook.com/AndroidAdvisorUK or email [email protected]

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Android L vs iOS 8 We see how the latest version of Android performs against its newly updated rival, iOS 8 Availability The final version of iOS 8 launched in September, while the finished Android L is expected any day now. You don’t have to wait that long to check out Google’s new offering, however – if you’re running a Nexus 5 or 7 you can get the developer preview. To run iOS 8 you’ll need an iPhone 4s or later, or iPad 2, iPad mini or later; for Android L you’ll need a Google Nexus 5 or Nexus 7 to get the developer preview, and it will roll out to other devices soon. ;EEG6΄[email protected];525H;EAD

Design The design of iOS 8 is mostly unchanged from that of iOS 7, which is no surprise as it was iOS 7 that brought the major design changes. iOS 8 has that ‘flat’ design, ditching all signs of skeuomorphism for minimalism. This year, it’s Android’s turn for a bit of a design shake-up. Google has introduced a new ‘Material Design’ look for Android, which has also been offered to developers for use in their Android apps. Android L brings more depth to the operating system’s appearance using shadows, and also  [email protected];525H;EAD΄;EEG6

automatically generates little patches of colour based on the content being displayed. Additionally, there are new animations and touch feedback, so the overall look and feel is both smooth and responsive.

Notifications In Android L, you’ll find new, enhanced notifications. You’ll be able to get see them on your lock screen, and they’ll be automatically listed in priority order. Swipe them away to dismiss them, or you can double tap to open them in the relevant app. Similarly, notifications have improved in iOS 8. They’re now interactive, so you’ll be able to reply to text messages, accept calendar invitations, snooze reminders and even Like Facebook statuses you’ve been tagged in – all without having to leave your current app. You can already swipe them to automatically go to the relevant app, but you can’t yet swipe to dismiss them (that’s new).

Lock screen As mentioned above, Android L brings a new lockscreen to its devices. As well as being able to see notifications, you’ll also be able to swipe up to unlock, right to launch the dialler or left to launch the camera. In iOS 8, the lockscreen is as it was before. Simply slide right to unlock it or upward to access the camera. There’s no quick way to access the dialler.

Multitasking Multitasking in iOS 7 was already pretty good, but Apple has taken it a step further by adding ;EEG6΄[email protected];525H;EAD

recent and favourite contacts to the screen when you double click the home button to access the multitasking menu. These contacts appear in a handy list along the top of your screen, to allow you to quickly call, text or get in touch via FaceTime. Android L brings multitasking to a new level for its users, too. Now, open apps will appear as cards in a carousel, which you can browse through by sliding up or down on the screen. To close a particular app, simply swipe the card to the left or right. What’s cool (and it’s something that iOS can’t do yet) is some apps will show multiple cards

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depending on how you’re using them. For example, if you’ve got multiple tabs open in Chrome, you’ll see each of them as an individual card on the multitasking screen.

Security Google has introduced a new personal unlocking feature that will enable users to unlock their smartphone or tablet without entering their passcode, but only when they’re close enough to a device such as an Android Wear smartwatch. Apple has its Touch ID fingerprint sensor, which is built-in to the home button of the iPhone 5s. In iOS 7, it was only able to unlock the device or be used instead of entering Apple ID details, but this will be opened up to third-party developers with iOS 8 – so users will be able to use their fingerprint to access other apps such as banking applications. The wealth of new security features in both Android L and iOS 8 won’t be available to everybody, of course. If you don’t own an iPhone 5s or an Android Wear smartwatch, you won’t be able to use them.

Battery life We don’t yet know exactly how Android L and iOS 8 will affect the battery life of the devices they’re running on, but both let you identify how individual apps are draining power, and to make improvements based on their consumption. Android L has an additional battery saving mode, which iOS 8 doesn’t. Google claims that the new battery-saving mode bundled with Android L will give the Nexus 5 about 90 minutes more battery life. ;EEG6΄[email protected];525H;EAD 

New developer features Both Google and Apple have added some new tools for developers that could mean lots of exciting new abilities will arrive on Android and iOS devices soon. It’s particularly surprising that Apple has opened up iOS to developers – as it’s a company that has always been known for its closed nature. Apple has introduced what it calls Extensibility, which basically means that apps in iOS will be able to ‘talk to each other’ like never before. For example, using Action extensions, Safari could gain a Bing translate feature, taking advantage of the Bing app’s capabilities. Or, Safari could gain a Pin button for Pinterest users if that app is installed. The possibilities here are endless, and extremely exciting for iOS users and developers. Another element of Apple’s extensions is ‘Today extensions’ which are actually widgets that can be chosen to appear in the Today view in iOS 8’s Notification Centre. Android has had home screen widgets for a long time, so Apple is bringing itself in line with its biggest rival with this feature. Widgets and other extensions are much more restricted in iOS 8

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compared to those in Android, though. Apple is keen to keep its OS secure and, historically, didn’t allow developers to release apps that were just widgets or keyboards. For the first time, iOS 8 allows users to install third-party keyboards. Google has added several new features in Android L for developers, such as direct links to apps from Google searches carried out using Chrome (something that’s already been available for a while, but only for a select bunch of developers). Apple used last year’s iOS 7 to first introduce 64bit compatibility to the operating system, and that continues with iOS 8. For Google, however, Android L represents the first time the operating system has been compatible with 64-bit devices. We expect to see many more smartphones and tablets with 64-bit chips to emerge in the coming year. This should mean speedier and smoother performance, and a big power boost for Android devices.

Health and fitness Both Apple and Google have unveiled fitness and health-tracking platforms for their OS updates. Apple’s offering is called Healthkit, which works with the new Health app; while Google’s is called Google Fit for Android. Both have similar purposes: they’ll help you keep an eye on your health and fitness thanks to the sensors on your mobile or wearable devices, and also some input from you. Healthkit and Google Fit are platforms for developers to take advantage of, but Apple’s Health app is a bit like Passbook, pulling together data from other health and fitness apps into one, easy-to-access place. ;EEG6΄[email protected];525H;EAD 

Hey, Siri; OK, Google There’s no doubt that Apple’s new ‘Hey, Siri’ trigger to activate the voice assistant hands-free, is a feature borrowed from Android’s ‘OK, Google’ activation for Google Now. However, this works only if the device is running on external power or if Siri is already open. Plus, in a similar way to Google Now, Spotlight in iOS 8 will let you search more than just the contents of your phone, including the App Store, iBooks Store, Wikipedia, Maps and iTunes. It’ll also display local film times and friends’ trending news.

Handoff Also new in iOS 8 is Handoff, a feature that’s going to be a huge bonus for anyone with multiple Apple devices. It’ll mean that, if you’ve been writing an email on your way home and have just got in the door, your Mac will automatically ask whether you’d

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like to continue writing it using OS X instead. It’s not just for emails, either. Most Apple apps that work across both OS X and iOS will work with Handoff. You’ll also be able to pick up calls on your Mac, and see all of your text messages, even if they’re not part of iMessage. Some of these features are available for Android, too, although third-party apps are required, and it’s not all quite as seamless or refined as Apple’s Handoff. If you own a Chromebook, Android L will automatically unlock your laptop when your smartphone or tablet is close by, and notifications will appear on both your laptop and mobile device.

CarPlay and Android Auto With Android L Google has introduced Android Auto, which is similar to Apple’s CarPlay feature unveiled with iOS 7 last year. They are both very similar services, using your smartphone to offer you information and controls on your dashboard, including maps and music.

Compatibility Another factor to take into consideration when comparing these two updates is compatibility. iOS 8 will be able to run on the iPhone 4s or later, the iPad 2 or later and both generations of iPad mini. Those with Android devices might have more trouble getting their hands on Android L straight away. If you own a flagship phone or tablet from Samsung, HTC, LG, Sony, Motorola or any other bigname brand you should get the update quite quickly. Anyone with a Google Nexus 5 or Nexus 7 should get access to Android L right away. ;EEG6΄[email protected];525H;EAD 

Apple or Samsung? As the two biggest players in the smartphone market, we consider whether your next smartphone should be a Samsung Galaxy or an Apple iPhone

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hould I buy an iPhone or a Samsung is a question we are often asked. Oddly. There are, after all, myriad high-class smartphone makers on the market. But it is the iPhone that retains the mindshare it gained when exploding the smartphone market in 2007, and Samsung is the only brand that comes close. In fact, you could substitute Samsung for HTC, LG, Sony or Motorola

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– all have high-end devices that, in our opinion, are every bit as capable as Apple’s new iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, and together they are the reason Apple will continue to lose market share in 2015. But let’s give Apple a chance. Here we attempt to put aside our Android bias and give you an honest rundown of your options.

Variety, availability, price range Samsung wins this. Of course it does. No-one makes more varieties of smartphone than does Samsung, and its current products range in price from the £145 Fame up to the high-end S5 and Note 4. Screen sizes range from the 3.5in Fame up to the frankly massive 5.5in Note 4. And there are even more specialised devices such as the Galaxy K Zoom that is a phone-camera rather than a camera phone. Yes, all of these devices are Android-toting touchscreen smartphones, but that is to forget

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the ATIV S Windows Phone, and to lay aside the knowledge that the Galaxy Note devices have a stylus for more complex input. Oh, and while almost all Samsung handsets are plastic there is some variety in the metallic Galaxy Alpha. And that is before we get into varieties of colour and spec. If it is variety you want, Samsung beats Apple. But variety is another way of looking at inconsistency, and if Apple locks down and limits its product range, it does so because it wishes to sell only at the high-end of the market. This tends to

Apple can’t match Samsung’s spectrum of the cheap and expensive, the big and the small, but it has a few handsets to sell these days mean that you get a good experience when you buy an iPhone. And you may be surprised at the current range – it can’t match Samsung’s spectrum of the cheap and expensive, the big and the small, but Apple has a few handsets to sell these days. Available to buy new today from Apple is the iPhone 6 Plus, the iPhone 6, iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c. Surprised? These are all touchscreen iOS smartphones, but they range in price from the £319 Phone 5c up to the £789 iPhone 6 Plus. Screen sizes range from 3.5in to 5.5in (sound familiar), and like Samsung there is a variety of onboard storage options from 8GB up to 128GB. Samsung wins out here by also offering storage expansion slots on most of its handsets, but it is fair to say that the iPhone range is broader than it has ever been.

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Apple iPhones are pretty widely available on the high street these days, and you can of course buy directly from Apple. You don’t have the latter option with Samsung, but it is also fair to say that Samsung phones are available from more UK vendors than are iPhones. Perhaps this reflects the wider price variant, and the cheaper range to which Samsung drops. Apple wants to keep hold of its margin at the high end, and Samsung chases volume. But it is only fair to say that both iPhones and Samsung phones are easy to find on the UK high street. (There are supply issues with the iPhone 6 Plus at the time of writing, but this is unlikely to last.) ;EEG6΄[email protected];525H;EAD 

Build and performance We’re often asked – again – to ‘prove’ that either Samsung or Apple phones are better. Faster, usually. Indeed, we’ve written a whole in-depth feature about which smartphones are fastest, based on synthetic benchmarks. The trouble is that, with the best of intentions, this sort of thing is meaningless. Every iPhone we have ever used has been super-fast – at least to start off with. And the same is true of every Samsung handset, with the exception of the truly cheap ones that tend to be a little laggy. But you get what you pay for in the smartphone world. The cheapest iPhone – the 5c – is a two-year-old 5s in a plastic case. And it is priced accordingly. Some synthetic benchmarks will tell you that Samsung   [email protected];525H;EAD΄;EEG6

is the fastest, or iPhone rules all. But in reality it is nonsense. Pay good money for an iPhone or a Samsung and you will get good performance. The question of design and build is more nuanced, but boils down to this: out of the box iPhones tend to be prettier, but Samsungs are more robust. You will need a case for your aluminium iPhone, but most Samsung phones are constructed principally of plastic. It may not look as shiny, but it is likely to withstand life in your pocket a little better.



Most Samsung phones are plastic. It may not look as shiny, but it is likely to withstand life in your pocket a little better Android vs iOS Samsung vs iPhone is equal to Android vs iOS. And it isn’t a simple question to answer. Android isn’t like it used to be: if you are new to the smartphone game there’s no obvious winner. These are the two most popular and best mobile operating systems around so it’s about picking which one is right for you. In essence, if you are a long-term iOS user you are probably best off sticking with what you know. You have after all almost certainly spent a lot of cash on apps that you’ll have to spend again in Android. But it is worth considering that your iTunes music files will work in Android, and Android offers the opportunity of shopping around for music, movies, books and TV shows.



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So, basically, Samsung phones offer more opportunity for customisation, and a variety of places from which to buy. iPhones offer a more locked down but curated experience. Samsung phones mean that Google is using Android to collect anonymous data to be used to anonymously target advertising. But iPhones force you to pay through the nose for iTunes (and no Samsung has ever forcibly downloaded Bono and his mates on to your phone). Read our Android L vs iOS 8 article on page 3 for a more detailed comparison on these two operating systems.  [email protected];525H;EAD΄;EEG6

The verdict If you are in the market for a new smartphone and have never owned either an iPhone or a Samsung, rest assured that you are looking at two of the best brands around. But not the only brands. Samsung will offer you something at the cheaper end of the market, but it won’t be anything like as good as an iPhone... or a higher-priced Samsung. And both brands offer a variety of handsets, but Samsung’s variety stretches wider. Ultimately, work out what you want from a phone and how much you are prepared to pay. Then consider the marginal differences between Android and iOS, and make a decision. And remember to try before you buy.

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Opinion: Everybody steals Did Samsung copy Apple, or did Apple copy Samsung? And, as the consumer, do we really care, asks David Price

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few years ago, I was asked to appear (extremely briefly) on a Channel 5 news programme and talk about Apple’s then patent dispute with Samsung. In those days, the case seemed to have been going on for longer than Jarndyce v Jarndyce, and patience was running thin;

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most observers felt that Judge Koh should knock the executives’ heads together and tell them to stop wasting the court’s time. Having never ‘done TV’ before, I was unprepared for a classic presenters’ trick: rehearsing the interview beforehand as a means to appropriate my carefully prepared remarks and use them as part of the filmed questions. (Keep your powder dry during rehearsals if you don’t want to look like a mug – there’s a bit of free advice for prospective TV interviewees.) But more than this, I remember being thrown by the suggestion that Apple v Samsung “is just a playground argument, isn’t it?” We were talking about products that bring in billions upon billions in high-margin revenue. How much more serious could it get? The more I think about patent litigation, however, the more I wonder if the presenter was right after all – and as an Apple fan, the more relieved I am that Tim Cook’s attitude to the courts is so much more hands-off than his predecessor’s. Defending your

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intellectual property is one thing, but most of the major showdowns in the great mobile patent wars, once you forget about the number of noughts on the claims for damages, have been just as ‘he started it’ petty as the average primary school dispute. Because, when it comes down to it, all tech companies – indeed, all inventors – steal each other’s ideas in some sense of the word. It’s unavoidable. And it’s a good thing. It’s how the transport industry went from horse-drawn carriages to space shuttles within a lifetime. You couldn’t double the number of transistors on a chip every 24 months if somebody had a patent on the transistor, and charged everyone else a licensing fee. Steve Jobs once famously claimed – in characteristically melodramatic tones – that Android was a “stolen product”, arguing that Google boss Eric Schmidt had used his time on the Apple board to gain an unfair advantage when launching Android a short while after the iPhone. (I’d take this with a grain of salt, but it’s probably fair to say that Android was, at the very least, inspired by the iPhone, and that in its absence, it would have looked a bit more BlackBerry-esque.) And yet, all these years later, it’s Apple that’s most often accused of technological larceny, with

All tech companies steal each other’s ideas. It’s unavoidable. And it’s a good thing

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While it’s reasonable to defend the specific implementation of a concept, the ideas need to be open for the good of the industry observers pointing out that the widgets, systemwide customisation options, whole-word predictive typing, app preview videos and other ‘new’ features in iOS – even down to the “Hey Siri!” hotword voice activation – had appeared in some form in earlier editions of Android. In the end, the truth is that each one of these great software platforms is utterly indebted to the other: that inspiration is a two-way street, and a vital part of the process of innovation. In 1979 Apple strolled into Xerox’s research facilities and absorbed lessons that would manifest themselves in the Lisa graphical user interface; Microsoft took those ideas and carried them forward into Windows (at which point Apple did what it has since become famous for doing: rang up the lawyers). But the synthesis of those ideas, and the healthy competition between operating systems in the years that followed, forced each company to be more innovative. iOS and Android couldn’t possibly exist in their present incarnations without the other to spur them on, criticise and compete with them, and frequently inspire them. And, while it’s entirely reasonable to defend the specific implementation of a concept, the ideas themselves need to be open to everyone for the good of the industry.



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Opinion: Childish arguments Martyn Casserly provides his thoughts on the Apple vs Samsung – and now Microsoft vs Google – disputes

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t a recent bullying-prevention class in her school, my nine-year-old daughter was given some rather interesting advice: “Say something to confuse them!” This left me

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Google was presented as an untrustworthy menace, reading your emails, stealing your data, setting fire to your favourite scarf and mugging your cats wondering whether the teacher in question thought that bullies were in fact evil robots from 1970s sci-fi TV shows. If they were then this is sound advice, as a surreal response would instantly send the automaton into a spiralling frenzy of logic, bleating “Does not compute! Does not compute!”, until finally their circuits exploded in a cloud of confusion. Like a playground spat, anyone who followed the patent disputes between Apple and Samsung over the past year or so will be able to tell you the two companies aren’t very fond of each other. The two companies locked horns repeatedly until it was decided that Samsung had to pay around a billion dollars in damages. This sparked one of our favourite modern internet rumours, when some people suggested that Samsung was filling up a fleet of trucks to deliver the blood money to the Apple campus all lovingly counted out in individual cents. As wonderful as this seemed, the logistics alone would probably have doubled the cost of the suit itself, so the mountain of money never came to be. Not to be outdone, Microsoft flexed its advertising budget in the direction of Google, launching the Scroogled campaign. In this series of ads, the search specialist was presented as an untrustworthy menace, reading your emails, stealing your data, setting fire to your favourite scarf, mugging your cats, and generally being a jolly nuisance.



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Chromebooks had a separate mini-campaign, which included Z-list celebrities explaining how it wasn’t a real laptop because it didn’t run Windows or Office – which, of course, would be seen as a selling point by others. Microsoft got so excited with its Scroogled catchphrase that it even had T-shirts printed and sold them in its store. Google responded to the attacks by saying that competition in the wearable sector was indeed heating up, then dropped the microphone and left the stage. Then China got involved, banning Windows 8 entirely on any government-linked machines. The reasons for this OSacide boiled down to the country mumbling something about energy emissions, but those of us who live to draw wild assumptions think it’s more likely linked to Microsoft’s outrageous behaviour when it prematurely ended support for Windows XP (which runs on an estimated 50 percent of PCs in China) after a paltry 13 years. Of course, it could also have had something to do with the US House Intelligence Committee declaring several months before that Chinese technology manufacturers Huawei and ZTE were spying on Americans through their routers and other branded devices. This became a particularly ironic claim when reports were subsequently leaked showing

Z-list celebrities explained how Chromebooks aren’t real laptops because they don’t run Windows or Office

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Samsung, I don’t care what Apple’s doing. Does that mean you have to do the same? No. So put down that prototype and brush your teeth that the NSA had used invasive techniques to spy on Huawei corporate servers. Of course, the NSA hadn’t just kept its generous surveillance and freedom-bringing joy to the Far East. Oh no. Sadly, it came as no great surprise when Edward Snowden revealed that the agency had, in fact, been watching and storing pretty much everything that happened anywhere in the world – except for its own offices, which somehow seemed incapable of presenting records of its endeavours. So, in a short space of time we’ve gone from a spat over how round a phone’s corner should be, to everyone in the world in essence living in the Big Brother house. To quote that paragon of modern journalism Ron Burgundy, “Wow, that escalated fast.” The truth is, they’re usually such good companies. But, when everyone’s watching, they sometimes get over-excited. A good night’s sleep and they’ll be as right as rain. What’s that Microsoft? Yes, you can wear the Scroogled shirt in bed, but tomorrow that goes to the charity shop. Now, no talking to Google or brokering trade agreements with China, you need your rest. Samsung, I don’t care what Apple’s doing. Does that mean you have to do the same? No. So put down that prototype and brush your teeth.



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Samsung Galaxy S5 vs Apple iPhone 6 How do Apple and Samsung’s flagship smartphones compare? We find out

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amsung and Apple are key rivals, so naturally we wanted to compare the top-end smartphone from each manufacturer spec for spec. Let's see how the brand-new iPhone 6 and six-month-old Samsung Galaxy S5 compare. The iPhone 6 costs from £539 for the 16GB model, £619 for 64GB and £699 for 128GB. By comparison, the older Samsung Galaxy S5 is now available for around £400, despite its £599 RRP.

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Design What’s more important, good looks or durability? That’s the argument presented by the good-looking iPhone 6 and the more durable Galaxy S5. The iPhone 6 retains that luxurious and premium desirability Apple is so good at, and is both thinner and lighter than the S5. However, we’ve seen nothing to suggest the device is any less delicate than before, so it will require a case if you want to avoid wear and tear. Samsung’s use of plastic in its flagship smartphones is something we’ve criticised for a long time, but it does at least have the advantage that the device is less delicate. The Galaxy S5 is also dustand waterproof, which is a bonus. ;EEG6΄[email protected];525H;EAD 

Screen The headline news with the iPhone 6 is a larger screen. But its 4.7in display is still smaller than the 5.1in panel on the Galaxy S5. The resolution is lower, too, with the full-HD S5 offering 432ppi and the 750x1334 iPhone 6 topping out at 326ppi. Apple and Samsung use contrasting screen tech: the iPhone 6 uses a LED-backlit IPS LCD panel, while the Galaxy S5 uses Super AMOLED. Both offer great viewing angles, but the iPhone 6’s display looks more natural than do Samsung’s popping colours.

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Processor and memory With the iPhone 6 Apple has introduced its new A8 chip, which it claims offers 25 percent more CPU power and 50 percent better efficiency than the A7. The new M8 co-processor can identify what type of activity you’re doing, estimate distance and, with the introduction of a barometer, detect elevation change. Apple doesn’t state the amount of RAM, but we’re hearing that it’s 1GB. Inside the Galaxy S5 is a Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 processor, also found in many of its high-end Android rivals. It’s quad-core, clocked at 2.5GHz, and is accompanied by 2GB of RAM. The phone also has the ability to track steps without the need for a separate device connected over Bluetooth. While the processor and memory specs differ, as will – we’re sure – synthetic benchmark results, we’re talking about two top-end smartphones. You can expect smooth performance with either device.

Storage The amount of storage you need will depend on how you use your smartphone. Both S5 and iPhone offer 16GB as standard. While Samsung lets you boost storage via microSD (up to 128GB), Apple would ;EEG6΄[email protected];525H;EAD 

rather you paid for that storage up front: there’s no support for removable storage, but the iPhone 6 is also available in 64- and 128GB versions.

Other hardware With the core hardware covered, let’s look at additional features. With the iPhone 6 Apple has added a few things already found in the S5, such as 11ac Wi-Fi and NFC; the latter will be used for ApplePay, which is available only in the US until sometime next year. Both phones have a fingerprint scanner built into the home button, while the Galaxy S5 also has a heart-rate scanner and an IR blaster. If you intend to do any 4G roaming, the iPhone 6 supports a greater number of LTE bands.

Cameras When it comes to photography it may surprise some that Apple has stuck with an 8Mp iSight camera on the iPhone 6, although it does now have phase detection autofocus, digital image stabilisation and

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slo-mo video at 240fps. It has the usual features such as HDR and panorama, too, but it limited to 1080p video at 60fps. The Galaxy S5 can record video in 4K quality at 30fps and does 1080p at 60fps with digital image stabilisation and phase detection autofocus. It has a 16Mp stills camera, but the pixel size is smaller at 1.12 μm compared to the iPhone’s 1.5 μm. Both have a dual-tone LED flash, too, so we’d say the 4K is the standout difference here. If you’re a selfie fan then the Galaxy S5 has a decent 2Mp camera, which can shoot video at 1080p. The iPhone 6 has a lower-resolution 1.2Mp Facetime HD camera, which is limited to 720p video.

Software Software is the key difference between these two phones. While the iPhone 6 runs iOS 8, the Samsung Galaxy S5 runs Android KitKat with Samsung’s TouchWiz UI; it will soon be upgraded to Android L, too. Check out our feature on page 3 to see how they differ.

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Samsung Galaxy Note 4 vs Apple iPhone 6 Plus Samsung and Apple’s phablets go head to head in our specification comparison review

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pple and Samsung both launched their new flagship phablets in September. Samsung’s done this all before, but for Apple it’s its first attempt at a phablet. Does it really stand a chance against Samsung’s know-how? Let’s find out. Even though the Galaxy Note 4 is priced at a hefty £575 (at Clove), the iPhone 6 Plus is even more expensive – one of the most expensive smartphones we’ve ever seen, starting at £619. There’s only one model of the Note 4, whereas Apple offers the 6 Plus in three capacities – you could spend up to £789 for the top-end model.

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Design Apple puts a lot of effort into making each iPhone thinner than the last; the iPhone 6 Plus is 7.1mm, which is impressive for a phone this size. The Galaxy Note 4 is not much thicker at 8.5mm, and both weigh very similar amounts at 172- and 176g respectively. Either way, you’re buying a huge phone. The fact Apple has moved the power button from the top to the side on the iPhone 6 Plus is testament to this. Samsung and Apple normally employ contrasting use of materials when it comes to phones and although the Note 4 has a metal edge, it still uses a faux leather rear cover. The iPhone is still a combination of glass and aluminium, with an iPadlike rounded shape. We’ve held both phones and the iPhone 6 Plus is more desirable, but like previous iPhones it feels delicate. The device will need a case if you don’t

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want to tarnish its shiny exterior, whereas the Galaxy Note 4 feels more durable.

Screen With its 5.5in display it’s a huge jump in size for the iPhone 6 Plus (1.5in bigger when compared to the iPhone 5s). However, it’s still not as big as the Galaxy Note 4 which remains at 5.5in like its predecessor. There’s no difference in size then, but let’s look at resolution. Not only is the iPhone 6 Plus the biggest ever, it’s got the highest resolution and pixel density of any smartphone Apple has made – a display which it calls Retina HD. It uses a full-HD (1080x1920) resolution, resulting in a pixel density of 401ppi. Samsung has opted for a Quad HD resolution like the LG G3, meaning the Galaxy Note 4 has 1440x2650 pixels and a resulting pixel density of 515ppi. The iPhone’s screen is still excellent – just not as excellent.

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Processor and GPU The Galaxy Note 4 is one of the first devices to come with a 2.7GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 805 (or a 1.9/1.3GHz Exynos octa-core processor in some markets). It’s a 64-bit processor, so ready for Android L, and the phone has 3GB of RAM. Apple’s A8 is another 64-bit ARM-based CPU. This dual-core chip may seem less impressive, as does the 1GB of RAM, but Apple does this to save power and maximise battery life. The A8 is more powerful than the A7 before it, and the M8 co-processor can now detect activity types and elevation. The Galaxy Note 4 may win on paper, but the iPhone 6 Plus has benchmarked better than any other phone we’ve seen to date and shouldn’t be underestimated. That said, we’ve yet to run our benchmarks on the Note 4. As two high-end phones, we’d struggle to find someone who is disappointed by the performance of either. ;EEG6΄[email protected];525H;EAD 

Storage As we mentioned earlier, the Galaxy Note 4 is available in just one model, 32GB. Apple offers three choices: 16-, 64- and 128GB. The Note 4 has more storage as standard, plus it has a microSD slot that lets you add up to 128GB. If you want that much storage on the 6 Plus you’ll pay through the nose for it.

Wireless The pair are fitted with the latest dual-band 11ac WiFi and NFC, although the latter is used by the iPhone 6 Plus only for Apple Pay, and only in the US for now. While the iPhone 6 Plus has Bluetooth 4.0, the Note 4 has version 4.1. Apple’s new smartphone supports more 4G LTE bands, which will make it better for roaming, but the Note 4 has faster 4G with Cat 6 (300Mbps) compared to Cat 4 (150Mbps). Bear in mind that these are just theoretical maximums.

Unique features With top-end design and core specs, unique selling points are becoming more and more important to differentiate smartphones. Let’s look at what the iPhone 6 Plus and Note 4 have on offer. Both phones have a fingerprint scanner, while the Note 4 adds an S Pen stylus, heart-rate monitor, UV sensor and an IR blaster.

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Cameras The rear-facing camera on the Galaxy Note 4 is 16Mp and comes with Smart OIS (optical image stabilisation). The HDR mode also offers a live preview, which is nice touch. Apple has stuck with the same 8Mp iSight camera, but has made upgrades, including phase detection auto focus and optical image stabilisation. The latter isn’t even available on the iPhone 6. On the video side of things the iPhone 6 Plus has improved face detection and slow motion video at 240fps – twice that of the iPhone 5S – plus timelapse video. However, it doesn’t shoot video in 4K quality like the Galaxy Note 4. Samsung wins on the front camera, with a 3.7Mp snapper that’s also capable of full-HD video. The iPhone 6 Plus has an improved FaceTime HD camera, but is 1.2Mp and limited to 720p HD video.

Software Another key difference between these phones is the software they run. Check out our feature on page 3 to see the differences between iOS 8 and Android L. ;EEG6΄[email protected];525H;EAD 

Coming soon: Nexus 9 & Nexus X It’s not just phones on which Apple and Google will compete; both are also lining up their next tablets

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pple was due to launch its new iPad Air and mini tablets, plus potentially an iPad Pro, the week after we went to press. But a Google product launch is also imminent, and not only will we see the final version of Android L, but some new devices on which to promote it. Of the rumours we’ve seen, the most likely are of a potential Nexus 9 tablet and Nexus X phablet.

HTC Nexus 9 According to rumours, HTC is working on a Nexus 9 device codenamed Volantis. Convincing leaked images reveal a very similar style and design to the Nexus 7. Both HTC and Nexus logos are printed on the back, which appears to have the same matt-finish plastic rear cover. The shape suggests a possible aspect ratio of 4:3 – like the iPad mini – which would be a departure from the 16:9 found on the Nexus 7. If the rumours are to be believed then for that money you get an 8.9in display with a 2048x1440 resolution (that’s 281ppi), an nVidia Logan Tegra K1  [email protected];525H;EAD΄;EEG6

64-bit processor, 2GB of RAM and 16- or 32GB of storage. Cameras will be 8Mp and 3Mp, with an LED flash. The Nexus 9 will measure just 7.87mm and weigh 418g, with a ‘zero-gap’ aluminium construction and front-facing stereo speakers. The Nexus 9 may also come with a Type Cover.

Motorola Nexus X The other product thought to be in the pipeline is a Nexus X phablet, built by Motorola and codenamed Shamu. It’s expected to look like a larger version of Motorola’s flagship Moto X, with a 5.9in Quad-HD (2560x1440, 496ppi) display and a fingerprint reader. According to rumours the Nexus X will run a Qualcomm Snapdragon 805 CPU and have 3GB of RAM, 32GB of storage, plus 13- and 2Mp cameras. With all the contradictory rumours flying around, however, it’s quite possible that Google will launch both a phablet and a smartphone.

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Best new products We round up some of the best new Android devices and accessories

Samsung Galaxy Note Edge Phablet One of the most interesting smartphones to launch for years is the Note Edge with its new take on the curved screen. In essence, it’s a Galaxy Note 4 with an additional screen section on the side that can be used to display icons, notifications and more. A UK release for the device is still up in the air. Around £650 inc VAT samsung.com/uk

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Sony Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact Tablet Sony has finally made a smaller tablet and the hard-to-pronounce device is one of the thinnest around at 6.4mm. The 8in Z3 Tablet Compact has Sony’s classic style and is water-resistant. Key features include support for high-res audio playback and PS4 Remote Play. £329 inc VAT sonymobile.com/gb

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Samsung Gear VR Virtual reality headset Rather than an Oculus Rift rival, the firm has teamed up with Samsung on the Gear VR. It offers a 96-degree field of view and a touchpad for control. The price might seem outstandingly affordable but you’ll need to slot in a Galaxy Note 4 for it to work. £150 inc VAT samsung.com/uk

Lenovo Tab S8 Tablet Lenovo’s latest effort is a contender for best-value tablet with its sub£150 price tag. Not only is it well built, it also comes with decent specs. Its 8in screen offers 1920x1200 resolution, and there is a 64-bit Intel Bay Trail-T Atom Android L-ready processor and front-facing speakers. £149 inc VAT lenovo.com/uk/en

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Sony Xperia Z3 Compact Smartphone We liked the Xperia Z1 Compact and are even more impressed with the Z3 Compact. It has a larger 4.6in screen in a slimmer and lighter body, new colours and many of the full-size Z3’s features, including a 20.7Mp camera, high-res audio and PS4 Remote Play. £429 inc VAT sonymobile.com/gb

LG G Watch R Smartwatch The hype around the Moto 360 has been monumental, so LG has quite rightly announced its own round smartwatch. It runs on Android Wear and has almost identical specs to its rivals, which makes the design the unique selling point. The device will come in black or silver with a leather strap included. £199 inc VAT lg.com/uk

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Cardboard projector Smartphone projector We like simple, cheap and nifty gadgets and this one ticks all those boxes. The cardboard smartphone projector does what it says on the tin, allowing you to project what’s on your phone via the cardboard housing (complete with retro styling) and an 8x glass lens. £15 inc VAT firebox.com

Asus ZenWatch Smartwatch Asus has joined the smartwatch party with the ZenWatch. The wearable gadget runs Google’s Android Wear OS, and features a stainless steel case, leather strap and 1.63in 2.5D curved screen. £199 inc VAT asus.com/uk

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Motorola Moto X (2014 Smartphone The second-generation Moto X has some nice upgrades including a Full HD 5.2in screen and a 13Mp camera. The Moto Maker has now reached the UK so you can custombuild it with different colours, materials and engraving — although some cost extra. £419 inc VAT motorola.co.uk

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Samsung Galaxy Alpha Smartphone Samsung has finally introduced some cold, hard metal into a smartphone design in the form of the Galaxy Alpha. Like the Galaxy S5, it has a fingerprint scanner and heart rate monitor, though, the Alpha has a smaller 4.7in 720p screen, a 12Mp camera and no microSD card slot. £500 inc VAT samsung.com/uk

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nVidia Shield Tablet Tablet If you’re looking for a tablet to game on, then check out the nVidia Shield Tablet. It’s been created specifically for gamers, and as such has an optional dedicated wireless controller. Inside is a Tegra K1 processor and up-front is an 8in Full HD display. £239 inc VAT nvidia.co.uk

USB wall socket USB wall socket Fed up of losing your charger or struggling to find a free socket when you do have it to hand? This straight swap charging plate has two USB ports for charging your devices while other things are plugged in. And if nothing is plugged in the ports won’t draw any power. £20 inc VAT groupgear.co.uk

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Asus ZenFone Smartphone Announced back in January at CES, Asus has decided to bring its budget ZenFone range to the UK. There are three different sizes available ranging from 4- to 6in. All come with Intel Atom processors (apart from the 4G model) and removable rear covers in various colours. £99 inc VAT asus.com/uk

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Parrot Rolling Spider Mini-drone Until now Parrot’s drones have been big and expensive. The Rolling Spider mini-drone weighs just 55g and can be controlled from a free mobile app. Optional wheels let the drone go up walls and race across ceilings. £89 inc VAT parrot.com

Cogito Classic Smartwatch Not all smartwatches have a huge touchscreen and the Cogito Classic is one of them. Instead, it looks like a regular wrist watch, while providing notifications in the background when connected to an iOS or Android device. It’s available in different colours and is waterproof up to 100m. £129 inc VAT cogitowatch.com

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New product: HTC Desire Eye HTC’s Desire Eye continues the selfie craze with a 13Mp front-facing camera

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he selfie is one of the biggest trends of 2014, and we’ve witnessed the launch of various smartphones dedicated to the craze. As expected, HTC announced the Desire Eye as we went to press. Here’s what you need to know about the HTC Desire Eye. Announced alongside the HTC Re camera, the Desire Eye will launch early November from HTC.com and selected retailers including Three and Carphone Warehouse. A price has yet to be announced, but we expect it to be in the upper midrange: £300- to 400.

Specs and features The unique selling point of the Desire Eye is its 13Mp front-facing camera and dual-tone LED flash. This is for improved selfies, and that same camera is also found on the rear of the phone. It’s worth noting that it also comes with a dedicated shutter button on the side, much like Sony Xperia handsets. It looks similar to the recently announced Desire 820, but has an IPX7 rating, which means it is water-resistant. We suspect it is splashproof rather than fully waterproof, however – HTC says not to use the product under water.  [email protected];525H;EAD΄;EEG6

Core specs include a 5.2in full-HD screen, a Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 processor, 16GB of internal storage and a microSD card slot. The device comes with Android 4.4 KitKat and HTC’s Sense 6 user interface. It’s the launch device for the HTC Eye experience, which uses face tracking to keep you (and your friends) perfectly framed at all times. The software also supports screen sharing and ‘Split Capture’, which combines simultaneous photos and videos taken on the front- and back cameras into one split-screen image or video. Crop-Me-In places you at the heart of the action by cropping you from the image or video taken with the front-facing camera and positioning it within the scene captured by the main camera.

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New product: HTC Re camera This odd-looking device is a rival to the GoPro – and it’s actually pretty cool

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TC’s RE camera is a small handheld camera that allows you to “naturally capture and fully experience the moment, through video and photography, without anything getting in your way”. It’s a rival to GoPro, Autographer and others. HTC has confirmed that the RE camera will be available through EE, Three and “selected consumer electronics retail partners” in the UK from early November. The device will cost £169.

Specs and features HTC says that the RE camera, which looks just like a periscope, will ‘re-imagine the point-and-shoot category’ with its 16Mp CMOS sensor, wide-angle lens and full-HD video recording. It comes in a range of colours, including white, blue, green and orange. The RE camera doesn’t have a power button. Instead, a sensor in the grip knows when you’re holding it and switches it on, helping to avoid any missed photo opportunities. The single shutter button will take a photo with one tap and record video when long-pressed. With the accompanying RE app – available for iOS and Android – you can get a live viewfinder in which to frame shots and watch live action. It also provides  [email protected];525H;EAD΄;EEG6

a way of browsing photos and videos already stored on the camera, and can back up all the content to your phone and the cloud. ΄ ?_bcWZZb͜Χ ͙ W]4?AEbR]b^a͜ ͹QRUaRRfWQR͹ M]UZRZR]b͜SΧ ͙ ΄_̓ S_beWQR^͜ _̓ gbZ^f\^cW^] ΄4^\_McWOWZWch͛2]Qa^WQ ͙ M]QWAE^aZMcRa ΄;B Qdbc͹M]QfMcRa͹aRbWbcM]c͈;B fWcVPM_͉ ΄83bc^aMUR͜\WPa^E5d_c^ 83 ΄3ZdRc^^cV ͙>6͜ ͙]͜\WPa^GE3͜Χ W]caW_^Q ΄:5\WPa^_V^]R͜b_RMYRa ΄  2V OMccRah ͈   ?_ _V^c^b ^a  Va  W]b

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Review: Samsung Galaxy Tab S 10.5 The Tab S 10.5 is poised to take on the iPad Air and Sony Xperia Z2 Tablet, but how does it fare? ΋ ΄bM\bd]U͙P^\ΧdY ΄

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Design and build The Tab S looks very similar to previous Samsung tablets, although it takes a few design touches from the Samsung Galaxy S5. Like the smartphone it has a dimpled plastic rear cover, which feels cheap in contrast to the device’s metal edge, a physical home button and a pair of touch-sensitive keys. There is also a fingerprint scanner. Two circles on the rear work with Samsung’s optional Book Cover. This accessory clips on to the tablet and holds on tight. It’s available in various colours and allows you to tilt the tablet into four viewing positions. The Tab S is just 6.6mm thick, making it thinner than the iPad Air but not quite as petite as the Sony Xperia Z2 Tablet. At 465g it’s nice and light for a tablet with a large screen, and it’s easy enough to hold it one-handed for a reasonable amount of time. That’s lighter than the iPad Air, but Sony’s tablet is an even lighter option.

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Unlike Samsung’s S5 and the Xperia Z2 Tablet, the Tab S is not dust- or waterproof. Samsung claims 50 percent of tablet owners use their tablet for watching, or reading content, so it makes sense for it to also claim the Tab S has the “world’s greatest screen” for a tablet. At 10.5in and with a 16:10 aspect ratio this display is well suited to watching films and TV shows. The resolution is extremely high, at 2560x1600, and stunningly crisp with a pixel density of 280ppi. This Super AMOLED panel makes content look great but, as we’ve found in the past, it can be a bit over the top. An adaptive display mode aims to adjust the display’s gamma, saturation and sharpness, depending on the content to hand.

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Samsung has also supplied a pair of stereo speakers, even if they are side-mounted. The Tab S 10.5 is packed with technology, including an IR blaster and a fingerprint scanner. It supports 802.11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0 and GPS, but not NFC. A 4G LTE model is also available, adding roughly £100 to the price. You get a choice of 16- or 32GB of storage, and a microSD slot lets you add a further 128GB. A generous 3GB of RAM is coupled with Samsung’s Exynos 5 Octa processor, which has four 1.9GHz cores and four 1.3GHz cores. The more powerful cores are employed for demanding tasks, while the remaining four place less strain on the battery when the tablet is busy with simpler tasks. The Tab S performed very well in our benchmarks, with 2769 points in Geekbench 3 (slightly higher than the Xperia Z2 Tablet). It was also very close to its Sony rival in SunSpider with 1079ms. However, in our graphics benchmark, GFXBench 3.0 T-Rex, the Tab S underperformed with just 14fps. This is in comparison to the Xperia Z2 Tablet’s 27fps. ;EEG6΄[email protected];525H;EAD 

And it’s not just in the latter benchmark that the Tab S struggled: we found it surprisingly laggy on occasion, even when it wasn’t under a particularly great load. Should you really want to take a photo on a 10.5in tablet, the Tab S 10.5 is well-equipped with an 8Mp rear-facing camera with an LED flash. There’s also a 2.1Mp front camera for video chat and selfies.

Software The Galaxy Tab S 10.5 runs Android 4.4.2 KitKat with Samsung’s latest TouchWiz software. It looks just the Galaxy S5 interface, with the same icons, widgets and drop-down notification bar. We like the way recent apps pop up at the bottom of the screen rather than taking over completely,

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and you can swipe in from the right to access MultiWindow, which lets you run two apps side-by-side. Another handy item if you have a compatible Samsung smartphone is SideSync 3.0, which lets you respond to calls and text messages. The Magazine UX makes sense only if you use the built-in email and calendar apps – use Google’s alternatives and nothing will appear here, and you can’t remove it. Runtime is excellent, thanks to a high-capacity 7900mAh battery. In standby it holds its charge incredibly well, and even when used to watch video you’ll get around 12 hours playback from the Tab S.

Verdict The Galaxy Tab S 10.5 is one of Samsung’s best ever tablets. It has a thin and light design, although there is still too much plastic. Hardware is decent, with an impressive display and great battery life. It’s got pretty much everything you could want in a tablet, and it is priced competitively against its key rivals.

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Review: Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4 Samsung’s baby Tab S is the best new tablet we’ve seen in 2014 ΋ ΄bM\bd]U͙P^\ΧdY ΄

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Design and build As with its bigger brother, the Tab S 8.4 comes in Dazzling White’ and ‘Titanium Bronze’. It’s also very thin and light, just 6.6mm thick and 294g, making it easy to hold in one hand. The design is very ‘Samsung’, and the Tab S 8.4 takes the dimpled plastic rear cover, physical home button and fingerprint scanner from the Samsung Galaxy S5 smartphone. The Tab S 8.4 is, like the 10.5, compatible with Samsung’s Book Cover, which explains the two oddlooking circles on the rear. Not only does it protect the screen but it allows you to tilt the tablet in four viewing positions. Despite the slimmed down chassis and smaller price tag, the Tab S 8.4 shares many of its hardware specifications with the Tab S 10.5, in our view making it the better buy.

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So, while the screen is a couple of inches smaller, it adopts the same 16:10 aspect ratio and whopping 2560x1600 resolution, producing a higher pixel density of 359ppi. In fact, that’s the highest pixel density we’ve seen on a tablet. The quality shows: this Super AMOLED panel is amazingly crisp and clear, and totally lives up to Samsung’s claim that it has the “world’s greatest screen” for a tablet. The punchy colours can be a little oversaturated, but an adaptive display mode adjusts the gamma, saturation and sharpness depending on the content. Side-mounted stereo speakers are better than no stereo speakers, and combined with the high-res screen make this a fantastic tablet for watching films, browsing photos and playing games. They pack a reasonable punch, but quality deteriorates at high volume levels. Unlike its rivals the Tab S 8.4 features both an IR blaster (oddly this is found on the device’s side) and a fingerprint scanner. Storage is 16- or 32GB, plus you can add a microSD card up to 128GB in capacity. The Tab S 8.4 is fitted with the same processor and RAM combo as its bigger brother: you get Samsung’s Exynos 5 Octa-core processor, with four 1.9GHz- and four 1.3GHz cores, plus 3GB of memory. It’s no surprise that it performed almost identically to the 10.5 in our benchmarks. In Geekbench we

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saw 2675 points; SunSpider measured 1089ms; and in GFXBench the 8.4 turned in the same lowly 14fps. From a user perspective, performance is smooth. But, as with the Tab S 10.5, at times we found the 8.4 laggy, even when it wasn’t under a significant load – sometimes just switching on the screen or opening an app could hold us up. Connectivity wise you’ll find 802.11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0 and GPS, but no NFC. The smaller Tab S 8.4 is more likely to be used for photography than its larger sibling, so it’s good to see the same camera setup. You get an 8Mp rear camera with LED flash, plus a 2.1Mp front camera. Both cameras are of decent quality.

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Software Alongside Android 4.4.2 KitKat Samsung has preinstalled TouchWiz. As we mentioned in our review of the Tab S 10.5, this is not our favourite mobile OS overlay. However, it has both good and bad points, and whether you like it will largely come down to personal taste. This interface mirrors that of the Galaxy S5, with the firm’s own icons, widgets and dropdown notification bar. We like the Multi-Window multitasking functionality, and the Recent apps menu pleasingly won’t take over the entire screen. SideSync 3.0 is also useful when paired with a

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Samsung phone, letting you respond to calls and texts on the tablet. There’s is a multitude of quick-access buttons in the notification bar, including sliders for brightness and volume. The Magazine UX is much like HTC’s BlinkFeed, sitting to the left of the main home screen and providing content tailored to your interests. The calendar and email sections will be useful only if you use Samsung’s own apps, however. A load of free content is up for grabs via Galaxy Gifts. Having submitted a proof of purchase form online, Samsung will let you download some apps for free, including RunKeeper and Cut the Rope 2. Even better are the three- and six-month free subscriptions to Sky’s Now TV service and Deezer. Battery life isn’t as good as with the Tab S 10.5, given the smaller 4900mAh battery. We found with average use it would last a few days.

Verdict The Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4 is one of the best Android tablets ever made. In hardware terms it’s the best you can buy right now, and the design is very thin and light. There is very little not to like here, and only the lower price of the Nexus 7 might sway you.

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Review: Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 8.0 The Galaxy Tab 4 is a great device, but it needs a price drop to truly compete with its rivals ΋  ΄bM\bd]U͙P^\ΧdY ΄

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doesn’t have a faux-metal band, but a thin chrome-like bezel with smaller rounded corners. The rear camera is central instead of in the topleft corner, but there’s still no LED flash. There’s still a single rear-facing speaker but the Micro-USB port is now on the bottom edge, not the side. On the right are the power and volume buttons. Below are two pop-out covers: one for the micro SIM card and one for a microSD card (up to 64GB). Either side of the physical home button are two touch-sensitive controls. They don’t light up, so you can’t find them in the dark, and are a pain when the tablet is held in landscape mode — it’s all too easy for a wayward thumb to press one. There’s no metal in the casing so although build quality is good, the Tab 4 lacks a premium finish. The relatively low resolution of 1280x800 makes for a very low density of 188ppi, so text look fuzzier than on high-res screens. Some people may not find this an issue, but it could be a disappointment for others. ;EEG6΄[email protected];525H;EAD 

At least the panel is decent quality — it appears to be the same screen used in the Tab 3. Colours are vivid and viewing angles and contrast are good. It’s nice and bright but, like all glossy touchscreens, too reflective to be much use outdoors in bright light. One of the main differences is the processor. The older model had a dual-core 1.5GHz chip, but the new one has a 1.2GHz quad-core CPU. You can immediately tell the Tab 4 is a low-powered device by swiping between home screens. It’s fast enough for basic tasks such as email and web browsing, and running two apps on screen at the same time. The change of processor also means a change of GPU, from an Adreno 305 to a Mali 400 MP4. It’s a step backwards, and the benchmark results speak for themselves. In GFXBench, it managed only 3.5fps in the Manhattan test and failed to get much above 10fps in the T-Rex. Although you’ll still be able to play the latest games, the graphics quality is pared back to maintain smooth framerates. The Tab 4 8.0 has a GPS receiver, Bluetooth 4 (with aptX support), 802.11n Wi-Fi, support for WiFi direct and also ANT+ — used on sensors such as heart-rate monitors and bike speed/cadence counters. Most people won’t notice or care about ANT+ support, but might miss the IR blaster usually found on Samsung tablets. One feature worth noting is the Tab 4’s ability to run two apps on screen at once. You can use split-screen  [email protected];525H;EAD΄;EEG6

in landscape too, and it’s easy to adjust how much space to give each app by dragging the dividing line. Other features include SideSync 3 — handy if you also own a Galaxy smartphone. Similarly, you can mirror your tablet’s screen wirelessly onto a compatible Samsung HDTV using the Link app. You’ll find the usual collection of Google apps including the Play Store as well as Samsung’s own app store. Oddly, the main camera still has just a 3Mp sensor, and the front-facing webcam a 1.3Mp sensor. The back camera shoots only 720p video, and has no stabilisation at all. Both photos and video are dismal but are usable if you’re desperate. As well as lack of detail, the poor-quality lens means parts of the image can be in focus while other are blurry. One other thing to be aware of is that the lens isn’t particularly wide-angle, so you can’t fit as much in as you might expect. Switch to video mode and the image is even more zoomed in.

Verdict Even though the Tab 4 8.0 is cheaper than the Galaxy Tab S and Tab Pro tablets, it’s expensive when compared to its rivals. ;EEG6΄[email protected];525H;EAD 

Review: Tesco Hudl 2 Tesco’s original Hudl was one of the bestselling tablets last Christmas, so how does its successor live up? ΋ ΄cRbP^͙P^\ ΄

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he original Hudl, a budget Android tablet sold exclusively in the UK through Tesco, has sold  ͜d]Wcb͙@^fFRbP^WbOMPYfWcVWcb bdPPRbb^a͜cVR:dQZ ͜M]QWcͭbU^cMZ^cc^ZWeRd_c^͙ The Hudl 2 has seen a slight price increase, now £129 rather than £119, but it still offers extremely

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good value for money. Tesco Clubcard Boost, in which £5 of vouchers is worth £10 against items sold in its stores, means you can get your hands on the Hudl 2 for as little as £65. Plus there’s £60 worth of vouchers in the box, including a £25 Blinkbox credit. The original Tesco Hudl remains on sale at £79 while stocks last.

Design and build The Hudl 2 has a similar but not identical design to the original. It uses the same type of plastic casing, which has a nice matt finish and a rubbery grip. It feels nice to hold in the hand, despite being a little larger and heavier – 401g up from 364g. It is, however, thinner at 9mm compared to 10.5mm. Tesco has done a good job of making the Hudl 2 look more sleek and desirable. Its clean lines and rounded corners are pleasing to the eye. It has similarities with the HTC Flyer and iPhone 5c. A couple of caveats are that the holes for the rear speakers aren’t symmetrical, with one side cut off by the camera and the seam that runs the edge. There are more colours to choose from this time, including blue, red, orange, white, pink, purple, turquoise and black. Plus there is a choice of four cases, ranging ;EEG6΄[email protected];525H;EAD 

between £10- and £30. For kids there is a bumper case to protect the Hudl 2 as it’s thrown off the sofa and dropped on the floor.

Hardware Several hardware upgrades are evident, and most pleasingly to the screen. Not only larger – now 8.3in – it has an impressive full-HD (1920x1080) resolution. The display is bright, offers good viewing angles and nice colours. With a pixel density of 272ppi everything looks crisp. At this price, you absolutely cannot fault the Hudl’s screen. Tesco claims that the Hudl 2 is three times faster than its predecessor. This is thanks to an Intel Atom quad-core processor clocked at 1.83GHz. Tesco has also doubled the amount of RAM to 2GB. Geekbench 3 didn’t show this three-times improvement, but an increase from 1371- to 2165 points is very good. Graphics are also improved, with GFXBench’s T-Rex test turning in 17fps (the original managed 5fps). Java performance, too: SunSpider turned in 768ms against the original Hudl’s 1397ms.   [email protected];525H;EAD΄;EEG6

The device is nippy and smooth the vast majority of the time, and it copes very well with web browsing and gaming. There are some signs of lag, such as when switching between user profiles, plus occasional jerkiness when moving between home screens, although nothing major. There’s just one model of the Hudl 2, which offers 16GB of storage. A microSD slot lets you boost this by an additional 32GB. This is standard for a budget tablet, although we were disappointed to find just over half the internal storage was consumed by the OS and preinstalled software out of the box. Tesco has upgraded the rear camera to 5Mp, yet downgraded the front cam to 1.2Mp. There’s no LED flash, and photo quality isn’t great, but with careful composition you can take some decent shots for sharing online.

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As before there are rear-facing stereo speakers, and Dolby sound to boot. The multimedia experience is more than acceptable, given the price. Connectivity-wise the Hudl still features dual-band Wi-Fi, GPS and a micro-HDMI port. Tesco says it will offer eight hours of battery life, which is one hour less than the original Hudl – likely down to the upgraded screen. We found battery life to be good, if nothing special. With varied usage the Hudl 2 will last a few days before needing a recharge.

Software The Tesco Hudl 2 runs the most recent version of Android, KitKat 4.4, and the platform is largely   [email protected];525H;EAD΄;EEG6

untouched. You will find the addition of My Tesco, a hub for everything Tesco – from grocery shopping to Blinkbox. We’ve seen this before, but on the secondgen Hudl it features a redesigned Google Now cards-style interface. There’s also a Top Apps list, plus a Get Started app that will help new users get to grips with the software and configure their device. More handy for some users is the built-in parent controls. This app displays only in landscape, but that minor gripe aside it can help you control what your kids can and can’t access online via a safe browser and whitelists for specific sites and content. You can also configure up to seven user profiles, customisable in terms of age and suitability, and set time limits for individual users. The system is easy to use, but not flawless. The time limit can’t be altered by task – for instance, you can’t allow your child more time on the Hudl 2 in which to read rather than play games. And in allowing your child access to the web you must allow entire domains rather than specific sites, for example bbc.co.uk rather than bbc.co.uk/cbeebies. Neither will the address bar function as a search bar – you need to enter the full URL.

Verdict The cameras are still not great, but in almost every area the Tesco Hudl 2 has been improved and it’s still a bargain at £129 or even less with Clubcard Boost. The software is good, but it takes up valuable storage space, and non-Tesco customers won’t get the most out of it. A great screen, decent processor and microSD card slot make this an excellent tablet. ;EEG6΄[email protected];525H;EAD 

Hands-on: Sony Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact Sony has joined the compact tablet gang with its Z3 Tablet Compact. Here’s our hands-on from IFA 2014 ΋ ΄b^]h͙P^͙dY

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t may be a bit of a mouthful and what the Xperia Z Ultra should have been at launch, but Sony has finally satisfied our desire to see a compact tablet. The Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact will launch this autumn at £329.

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This is one seriously thin and light 8in tablet. We were impressed by the new Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4, which is 6.6mm and 294g, but Sony has trumped this at 6.4mm and 270g. It’s almost like holding a phone because the device is so slender – holding it one-handed is a breeze. Available in black or white, the Z3 Tablet Compact doesn’t have a glass rear cover like its smartphone counterpart but is still dust- and waterproof. Its soft-touch plastic rear cover matches that of the Xperia Z2 Tablet. Its IP68 rating is something you won’t find on other tablets and may be a big advantage – there’s nothing stopping you watching BBC iPlayer in the bath or taking underwater photos of sea life while snorkelling. As we’ve mentioned the Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact has an 8in screen, putting it in direct competition with tablets like the iPad mini, Nexus 7,

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Galaxy Tab S 8.4 and LG G Pad 8.3. Sony has opted for a full-HD (1920x1200) resolution, and the screen looks nicely crisp and has the advantage of Sony’s Triluminos tech and Live colour LED. Inside is a Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 quadcore processor, which is the same as that found in previous Sony devices such as the Xperia Z2 Tablet, but the chip is clocked higher at 2.5GHz. Alongside this is 3GB of RAM, and we can report smooth performance during our time with the tablet. Despite the faster-clocked processor, Sony touts an impressive 15 hours video playback from the 4500mAh battery. In terms of storage only a 16GB model is available (11GB available out of the box), but Sony offers a microSD card slot for adding up to 128GB. An LTE model lets you add 4G data. On the standard model you get 802.11ac Wi-Fi, NFC and Bluetooth 4.0 LE, but no IR Blaster or wireless charging (although there is a dock connector on the side if you wish to buy a compatible accessory).  [email protected];525H;EAD΄;EEG6

If you’re into tablet photography then the Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact has a pretty decent 8.1Mp rearfacing camera with an Exmor RS sensor. However, the 2.2Mp front camera is arguably more useful, especially for video calls. A new feature to the Xperia Z3 range is support for High-Res audio (including DSD files) when using the right headphones. If you don’t own such files, Sony’s DSEE (digital sound enhancing engine) HX technology promises to upscale content to near high-resolution quality.

Software Sony has done little to tweak the Android KitKat interface and the Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact looks much like previous Xperia devices, with Sony styling and apps such as Walkman. There is one key new feature which will set gamers’ hearts racing, though. Like the Xperia Z3 and Z3 Compact smartphone, the tablet includes support for PS4 Remote Play. This means you can play PS4 games on the tablet over Wi-Fi with a DualShock 4 controller. Sony will sell an optional GCM10 Game Control Mount to create a sort of make shift handheld console.

Verdict It’s great to see Sony finally make a smaller tablet, and the 8in form factor is proving increasingly popular. The Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact is superthin and -light, and waterproof to boot. Hardware is decent but not mind-blowing, so rivals such as the Galaxy Tab S offer more in the way of gadgetry. PS4 Remote Play will appeal to gamers. ;EEG6΄[email protected];525H;EAD 

Review: Leapfrog LeapPad3 and XDi Ultra These tablets are specifically built for kids, but are they worth buying over a standard Android tablet? ΋>RM_BMQ ͝΋J5WGZcaM΄ZRM_Sa^U͙P^\

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VR>RM_Sa^U>RM_BMQWb^]R^ScVR\^bc popular tablets for kids, being a top seller for cVR_MbccVaRR4VaWbc\MbRb͙FVRZMcRbc\^QRZb W]PZdQRcVR>RM_BMQ M]Q>RM_BMQGZcaMJ5W͙

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The Ultra is a larger, higher-resolution screen 7in tablet, but in terms of functionality there isn’t a huge difference any more between the 5in entry- and toplevel models of LeapPad. The LeapPad3’s smaller screen is still ample space for Leapfrog’s large range of fun, educational apps and games. It might even suit smaller hands better than the larger and slightly heavier Ultra model. Later on in this review we look at the differences between the two LeapPads and compare to suggest which might be best for you. The new LeapPads build on the success of the original LeapPad Explorer and later LeapPad 2 and LeapPad Ultra, which won multiple toy awards and were Christmas bestsellers. Its principal rival in the kids tablet battle is Vtech’s InnoTab 3S tablet.

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Should you buy your child a LeapPad or a normal tablet? The LeapPads differ from normal tablets – such as the iPad or Androids – as they are built specially for kids; Leapfrog recommends them for children aged three- to nine. We think three- to seven is a more realistic age range, although our eight-year-old tester still enjoyed using them. Any older than seven and we think children would prefer a more mature tablet, such as Amazon’s Kindle Fire HD, which has decent parental controls such as screen-time limits. LeapPads are also more robust than fragile adult tablets. The LeapPads, and compatible software, are tailor-made for learning while having fun. They are not tablets that you can use for email and to play dumb-but-fun arcade games. You buy a LeapPad not only to entertain your child, but principally to help their education, from reading and writing to maths   [email protected];525H;EAD΄;EEG6

and logic puzzles. They are childproof (well, as much as anything can be) and child-safe, as they are closed devices compared to other tablets that aren’t configured to child-only environments. The LeapPads are much cheaper than other tablets, although the educational software is certainly more expensive than from Google Play. Some don’t like the fact you can’t load a LeapPad with movies or properly browse the internet; see below for an explanation of the limited internet capability. Again this misses the point of them as safe, fun, educational devices that teach kids learning skills in a fun and child-safe environment. If you just want a movie player for long car journeys then consider buying a standard Android tablet.

Design Thankfully both tablets are not overly childish in design, unlike some of their competitors, and are

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rather stylish in their own way. Both are available in green or pink. Unlike your screen-shattering Android tablet the LeapPads are built to survive clumsy and/or destructive kids and their friends, with impact zones to protect the screen and tablet’s innards. The LeapPad3’s 5in capacitive touchscreen is responsive to a child’s touch, and also comes with a soft-tipped stylus – as does the larger 7in backlit touchscreen of the Ultra XDi. Weighing just under 0.4kg the LeapPad3 isn’t too heavy for kids as young as three. The larger Ultra XDi (0.65kg) probably requires a little more strength than the youngest users might have. Indeed, Leapfrog recommends the Ultra for users aged four- to nine, as opposed to the LeapPad3’s threeto nine age range.   [email protected];525H;EAD΄;EEG6

Setup The LeapPads are easy to set up, and link via your computer to the Leapfrog App Centre, which holds over 500 purchasable apps and games. Parents set up the LeapPad for their children by starting a free Parent Account at Leapfrog.com. You can set up to three profiles so that one LeapPad can be used by more than one child. This means that children of different ages or abilities will have the apps and games set to their profile rather than one-size fits all. Having more than one LeapPad can also be fun as there are peer-to-peer games that can be played between tablets. Once set up all the apps are easy for kids to get to grips with, being walked through gameplay – so parents shouldn’t need to sit with their child all the time they are playing. In fact, the children won’t want you cramping their play, and as all the software is

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kid-friendly you don’t have to worry about anything inappropriate – unlike with most tablets that can have less appropriate apps downloaded.

Wi-Fi and browsing Last year’s LeapPad Ultra added Wi-Fi, peer-to-peer gaming, and kid-safe web browsing to the platform. This has now been extended across the whole range of LeapPads, making the LeapPad3 almost feature-identical to its big brother. Leapfrog uses Zui technology as its backbone technology for web browsing. Together they built LeapSearch, a proprietary kid-safe web browser that parents can trust. Parents often don’t consider that other tablets are just a click away from all the dangers of the internet, although there are ways of adding parental controls and internet-safe features to normal tablets. Give your child unrestrained access to an Android tablet and you can’t guarantee that little Jonny or Jane won’t browse into the web’s rough stuff.

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With LeapSearch’s parental tools, including a fourdigit security code, parents are in control of what their child is able to access using their LeapPad. LeapSearch is very much a closed environment of pre-approved, whitelist YouTube video and site content. An example of an approved website is PBS Kids. Over 200 parents and teachers review the content available on Zui, and Leapfrog’s team of learning experts have to review and approve all web and video content available on the Ultra. It is updated on a weekly basis to ensure content is kept fresh. But if you’re expecting thousands of web pages to browse you’ll likely be disappointed. You can’t access CBeebies or the Disney sites, for instance. And the videos on offer, although educational or fun, aren’t as good as those you might find on an unconstrained internet. Most of the content right now is photos or videos of animals, and there’s no search, which makes the ;EEG6΄[email protected];525H;EAD 

LeapSearch name somewhat irrelevant. Clearly this is a tiny fraction of what we’d expect of the internet, but most kids can stare at cat video and photos for longer than cats can stare at each other. Some of the web categories are too American – yes, ‘football’ is NFL, but there is at least a ‘Football soccer’ section, albeit again American. There is a lot of great educational content in there and some neat ‘How to Draw’ video tutorials, but it’s definitely limited to some parents’ browsing wishlists. LeapSearch works well but seems a little slow, although this may have been our Wi-Fi connection at the time. On other supposedly child-friendly web browsers we were quite quickly able to browse to inappropriate content. Leapfrog’s closedenvironment approach removes this element of parental worry, and is a major benefit of choosing a closed system rather than the iPad or Android. But don’t expect a huge amount to browse. It’s a great idea but in need of expansion to be truly useful.

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The addition of Wi-Fi gives parents and children extra benefits, too. Parents can now directly sync content to their child’s LeapPad Ultra. And the kids can play peer-to-peer games with their LeapPad Ultra pals.

Specs Both LeapPads now feature more cost-efficient rechargeable batteries – the older LeapPad2 used to rely on endless AA batteries. Battery life is around six hours for the LeapPad3 and eight hours for the Ultra XDi. The LeapPad3 has 4GB of storage for apps, photos, videos and music. The Ultra XDi has twice this at 8GB. If making videos is going to be an important part of your LeapPad activity then the extra storage makes sense, although you can of course transfer photos and videos taken with the tablet to your laptop or PC. Leapfrog says 4GB is enough to store 20,000 photos, which sounds like more than enough, even for a tap-and-snap-crazy child. The LeapPad3’s 5in touchscreen has a resolution of 480x272 pixels. The larger Ultra XDi has a 7in backlit screen measuring 1024x600 pixels, and offers easier gameplay, although the smaller screen is not cramped. Other technical specifications you probably don’t need to bother too much about include processor speed. Weirdly the Ultra’s 800MHz chip speed is slower than the LeapPad3’s 1GHz. All the games and apps come with annoying (to adults) music and sound effects so the volume controls are a godsend, as is the headphone jack. ;EEG6΄[email protected];525H;EAD 

Both LeapPads have the same 2Mp front- and back cameras as the previous LeapPad 2. The LeapPad3 measures 190x130x25mm and weighs 400g, while the Ultra XDi is 230x155x23mm and weighs 650g.

Apps and games The LeapPad3 comes with 10 free apps, including Calculator, Notepad, Clock, Calendar and Voice Memo, plus you can choose an extra app to download from the Leapfrog app store. There’s also Music Player (with 10 learning songs), and you can add your own MP3s to the tablet. Pet Pad Party and Pet Chat let kids play and communicate with their friends over a Wi-Fi network.  Photo Fun Ultra lets kids customise and edit their photos with carnival, mirror and blender effects, nine colour tint filters and silly masks that turn an ordinary picture into a personalised creative masterpiece. The effects are fun but pretty basic. The LeapPad Ultra XDi has all these apps, plus Art Studio Ultra and Roly Poly World, both worth   [email protected];525H;EAD΄;EEG6

£12.50. The former lets kids draw and colour masterpieces, then bring them to life with fun effects and animations, using a variety of pattern brushes, backgrounds and frames, plus tool colours, sizes and options. Roly Poly World sees them tilt and turn the tablet to collect gold coins, find gems, herd cowbugs and battle bandit and pirate bugs, as well as pick up spelling skills. The App Store is stuffed with games and apps, all of which aim to merge learning with fun. You can buy more learning games and videos, interactive storybooks, e-books and music, based on subjects such as reading and writing, maths, science and creativity. There are Disney-themed games, including Ben 10, Monsters Inc and Frozen. Other brands include Octonauts and Moshi Monsters. Wallace & Gromit and Peppa Pig. All the child brand favourites are here, which might make up for the lack of Angry Birds, Temple Run and other mobile apps. There aren’t any third-party games, so the Leapfrog educationists retain complete control and parents needn’t worry about inappropriate content. You can’t get Angry Birds and other Android apps on the LeapPad, so parents might still have to hand over their own device on occasion. Children have the chance to watch trailers and create a wish list of new apps at the App Centre. Parents can choose whether children may view pricing and buy buttons. Parents used to 69p smartphone apps will likely choke on the prices, which range from £3.50 to as much as £20, although most are in the £5- to £7.50 bracket. To be fair to Leapfrog all the software ;EEG6΄[email protected];525H;EAD 

is thoroughly tested by educational PhDs and is aimed at encouraging structured learning so the value should be higher than an arcade app on your iPhone. There are also no nasty in-app purchases to be worried about. The LeapPads also combine well with Leapfrog’s LeapBand kids activity tracker.

LeapPad3 or Ultra XDi? Now that both LeapPads have Wi-Fi and LeapSearch there’s not a huge difference between the two tablets, apart from size. The 5in LeapPad3 is smaller and lighter than the Ultra XDi and its 7in screen. The cameras and video capabilities are identical, as are most of the settings. However, the Ultra XDi

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does have twice the storage as the LeapPad3, which you may find appealing if you want to load the tablet with videos, music and photos. The LeapPad3 costs £89, and the Ultra XDi is priced at £119. Online retailers will likely offer both at a discount in the busy run up to Christmas. We’ve seen the LeapPad3 as low as £80, and the Ultra XDi a bargain at under £90 on Amazon, so it’s worth shopping around.

Verdict The specially built-for-kids LeapPad3 and LeapPad Ultra XDi are similar in specs and functionality. The larger 7in Ultra XDi has twice the storage as the 5in LeapPad 3, but younger children may prefer the 3’s smaller size and weight. We think their upperage range is seven rather than Leapfrog’s claimed nine, but our eight-year-old tester still enjoyed her time with both. While the hardware is cheaper than normal tablets, note that the software can be more expensive. The advantage of Leapfrog software is that, while not as cheap as normal mobile apps, it has been built by educational PhDs with both fun and learning in mind. With its whitelist web browsing it’s safer online than most adult tablets, although it’s limited in its scope from that point of view. The LeapPads are bestsellers every year and the latest models build on an award-winning and popular formula without any huge leaps forward in terms of design or functionality. ;EEG6΄[email protected];525H;EAD 

Review: Motorola Moto G 2014 The best ever budget phone has been updated for 2014, and it’s still one of the best deals around ΋ ΄\^c^a^ZM͙P^͙dY ΄

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o sooner had Motorola updated the original ?^c^8fWcV 8M]QM\WPa^E5PMaQ͜cVRaRͭb M]^cVRad_QMcR͛cVR?^c^8͙FVMcͭbaWUVcͼ MP^\_ZRcRZh]Rfb\Mac_V^]RfWcVcVRbM\R]M\R͙ HRahP^]SdbW]U͙

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The second-gen Moto G is easier to find online by searching for its part code: XT1068. Visually, though, the 2014 model is easy to tell apart from the original (and revised 4G version) thanks to the prominent front-facing speakers and larger 5in screen. The new Moto G costs from £149 for the 8GB version, which is all you’ll be able to buy in the UK. Motorola is now selling the smartphone directly from its website, and it isn’t much more expensive than the revised 4G Moto G, which you can pick up (in 8GB format) for £130. We’re sure that discounts will be available soon from other retailers.

Design and build The new Moto G addresses feedback Motorola received from the original and has a bigger screen, better speakers and dual-SIM card slots. Unfortunately, support for 4G has been dropped, so this phone is limited to 3G. Design-wise, the new Moto G follows the original almost exactly. There’s no metal and no disguising the plastic finish: it feels cheap compared to the plastic iPhone 5c. However, let’s not forget the massive difference in price between those phones. Buttons and ports are in the same places, and the rear cover is removable to reveal both SIM slots and the microSD slot (which accepts up to 32GB). ;EEG6΄[email protected];525H;EAD 

It’s bigger than its predecessor in width and height, but not in depth – it remains the same at roughly 11mm. Weight is practically the same, too, at a shade under 150g. The handset is well balanced and feels lighter than you’d expect. There are two colours, black and white, and you can buy coloured rear shells for £10 in the following colours: Chalk, Black, Violet, Spearmint, Raspberry, Royal Blue, Turquoise and Lemon Lime. Flip shells have a magnetic front cover, which turn on and off the Moto G when opened and closed  [email protected];525H;EAD΄;EEG6

it. These cost £22 and come in Chalk, Black, Royal Blue, Turquoise, Lemon Lime and Cherry. The smartphone isn’t much bigger overall, but the 5in IPS display feels like a nice upgrade over the 4.5in of the original. Even so, it’s a bit disappointing that the resolution is still 1280x720, meaning a drop in pixel density to 294ppi (compared to 329ppi). It’s still a great screen, though, with vivid colours and great viewing angles. Brightness is decent enough, if not the brightest around.

Performance Oddly, Motorola hasn’t upgraded the processor. The Snapdragon 400 quad-core chip runs at 1.2GHz and has the Adreno 305 graphics processor. That means performance is the same – which is to say very good, especially at this low price. In Geekbench 3 we saw an average score of 340- (single-core) and 1144 (multi-core) points. These

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scores are on par identical with those of the original Moto G: 334- and 1168 points respectively. In GFXBench 3 the Moto G returned 11fps in the T-Rex test – exactly the same as the old model, so no surprises there. Web browsing performance is measured using SunSpider 1.0.2, in which the new Moto G managed an average of 1526ms, marginally slower than the original’s 1504ms. In other territories the new Moto G will also be available in a 16GB version, and both this model and the 8GB version have dual-SIM slots. The bad news is that 4G is not supported. If you need faster mobile internet, you’ll have to either go for the revised firstgeneration Moto G or look elsewhere. The handset has the basic specs you’d expect: 802.11n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0 and GPS. Note that the  [email protected];525H;EAD΄;EEG6

Wi-Fi is at least dual-band, so will work with dualband routers that support 5- as well as 2.4GHz. Compared to the single rear-facing speaker of the original Moto G, the new front-facing speakers are superb. There’s no need to turn up the volume so much since the audio is directed straight at your ears. They’re not great for music, but when playing games and watching videos on YouTube or iPlayer, you’ll really appreciate both the stereo separation and the decent quality.

Cameras The mediocre cameras have been upgraded, with an 8Mp sensor at the rear and 2Mp at the front. As before there’s an LED flash at the back. Video is still captured at only 720p, which is strange as 8Mp is more than enough for 1080p. We found still image quality much better than video. One slight disappointment is that the images from our test Moto G weren’t sharp to the edges of

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the frame. For the most part you won’t notice this, but it’s easy to spot when you zoom in on photos. Instead of using Google’s own Camera app you get Motorola’s. This is easy to use and includes Panorama and HDR modes. You can tap to focus, and tap and hold to take photos in burst mode. The HDR mode can be auto, on or off. This can make a huge difference in the right circumstances. It’s worth bearing in mind that the app defaults to 16:9 photos, which crops the top and bottom and uses only 6Mp of the sensor’s resolution. If you want the full 8Mp switch to 4:3 mode, which returns those top and bottom sections. Video lacks detail, even considering the 720p limit. It’s not as jerky as some phones we’ve tested recently, but there’s no optical stabilisation either.   [email protected];525H;EAD΄;EEG6

Audio is recorded in stereo and is usable enough. If you want to have a bit of fun, there’s a slo-mo video mode that also records in 720p. It’s best to hold the phone still rather than moving it about in this mode if you want to avoid getting jerky footage.

Software One of the benefits of buying a Motorola smartphone is that in essence you get plain Android, with nothing in the way of manufacturerimplemented overlays and customisations. Motorola has also guaranteed an upgrade to the new Android L mobile OS when it launches later this year, but for now the Moto G ships with KitKat 4.4.4. It’s worth noting that there are no hardware- or touch-sensitive buttons – the usual Android trio are found onscreen, and in some apps such as the Camera you have to swipe to display them.

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You do get Motorola’s useful Migrate app, which helps transfer all your stuff from an old Android smartphone or an iPhone. Plus there’s Motorola Assist app, which can automatically detect when you’re driving and read out incoming text messages. Using Google Now you can even dictate a reply without touching the phone. Assist also has a sleep mode, which silences the phone between ‘quiet hours’ that you set, a Meeting mode that uses your calendar to work out when to keep quiet, and a ‘Home’ mode that will read out texts so you don’t have to pick up the phone.  If you’re considering the new Moto G for its dual-SIM slots, bear in mind that the old model was also available with two slots – if you can find one. The benefit of this new version is that it’s very easy to switch between SIMs, and an Intelligent Calling feature will learn which numbers you call   [email protected];525H;EAD΄;EEG6

from each SIM and automatically switch to the appropriate SIM. You can manually select the SIM to use, but pop-ups will offer messages such as “You called this number on the other SIM last time. Do you want to switch?”. The Moto G’s battery life is pretty good. With light use it lasted exactly two days before demanding a recharge. That light use involved around an hour of watching YouTube, an hour of web browsing, several phone calls and some emails.

Verdict With a bigger screen, much better speakers and improved cameras, the new Moto G is a great budget smartphone. The lack of support for 4G will be a deal-breaker for some, though. It isn’t without its rivals, but if you’re specifically looking for a budget dual-SIM Android phone, it’s a good choice.

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Review: HTC Desire 610 A mid-range successor to the One M8, the Desire 610 has got a lot going for it ΋ ΄VcP͙P^\ΧdY ΄

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he HTC Desire 610 is HTC’s latest mid-range smartphone, a cheaper sibling to the flagship TC One M8 and successor to the HTC

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Coral sample sent to us for review. The Navy Blue and White options are much nicer. Elsewhere the design is good. Despite its plastic casing, the Desire avoids looking tacky or cheap. A matte coating around the edges and on the front is nice, but we wish HTC had extended this to the glossy rear. The bezels are rather large, making this phone’s dimensions much bigger than its 4.7in display might suggest. It’s also relatively chunky at 9.6mm, although it doesn’t feel fat. And at 143.5g prolonged use is comfortable. The Desire 610 is a solid and well built smartphone, with nicely finished buttons and a discreet flap covering the SIM and microSD slots.

Hardware and performance A 4.7in display is of a useful size, but its resolution is limited to just 540x960, with a pixel density of 234ppi. At this price that’s not unusual, but it’s disappointing given that the HTC’s front speakers would otherwise have made the Desire 610 a great device on which to watch movies and play games. ;EEG6΄[email protected];525H;EAD 

Snapdragon 400 processor as is found in the Motorola Moto G, which it couples with 1GB of RAM. Performance is sufficient, but given the £90 price difference between these two handsets we might have expected a little more. The HTC fared reasonably well in our benchmarks, averaging 1224ms in SunSpider and 1161 points in Geekbench 3 (multicore). It also managed 15fps in GFXBench 3.0’s T-Rex test. These results put it on par with the cheaper Moto G. You’ll find launching apps on the HTC Desire 610 smooth and quick, and we didn’t notice any lag while navigating the device or launching apps.  There’s 8GB of built-in storage, which can be expanded via microSD (up to 128GB). Connectivity includes 4G LTE and 3G, as well as NFC, Bluetooth 4.0 and 802.11ac Wi-Fi. It’s not surprising to see a lack of additional features such as an IR blaster at this price. An 8Mp rear-facing camera has an aperture of f/2.4 and an LED flash; it can also capture 1080p  [email protected];525H;EAD΄;EEG6

video. We were pleased with its results. Meanwhile, the front-facing camera is 1.3Mp and can capture 720p video. A wide range of filters and effects are found in the Camera app, including HDR, vignette, depth of field, vintage and greyscale. When looking back over your photos you’ll find a gimmicky but fun video slideshow playing at the top of the screen in the Gallery app. HTC’s Zoe app offers an expanded version of these video slideshows, enabling you to share them with friends. The HTC Desire 610 runs Android 4.4 KitKat with HTC Sense 6.0. It’s a marked departure from standard Android, but features a clean design, a simple navigation system, easy-to-access settings and some extras, including the aforementioned

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aggregator. (You can remove BlinkFeed if it’s not your cup of tea.) You’ll also get HTC Sync Manager, which is particularly helpful for anyone switching from an iPhone or another Android phone, and offers a quick and easy way to get your files including music and photos on and off the Desire 610. HTC Connect is also supported, letting you easily connect to your home-entertainment system to play audio and video from the Desire 610. It’s a bit like Apple’s AirPlay system. HTC says that the 2040mAh non-removable battery will last up to 15.8 hours of talk time or up to 650 hours on standby. We found the 610 managed up to two days of general use without charging, but if you spend much of your time watching video and playing games you will find your mileage will vary. Pleasingly, HTC also offers a power saving mode and an extreme power saving mode for when the battery level becomes critical.

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Verdict The HTC Desire 610 will appeal to anyone looking for a reasonably priced and good all-round smartphone. Its HTC Sense software is sleek and easy to use, and you’ll be satisfied with the battery life. We really enjoyed our time with the HTC Desire 610 and have few qualms other than the large bezels and slightly disappointing display. But while the HTC Desire 610 is a very good phone when considered on its own, bring into the picture the Nexus 5 and Motorola Moto G and it becomes difficult to recommend. The latter offers a £90 saving and very few sacrifices, while Google’s handset costs an extra £60 but has a faster processor, a better display and more. ;EEG6΄[email protected];525H;EAD 

Review: HTC Desire 816 If you can grab this phone for around £200 you won’t be disappointed ΋ ΄ VcP͙P^\ΧdY ΄

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Design and build FVR WbMeMWZMOZRW]M@^YWM͹Z selection of hues, but we prefer cVRfVWcR\^QRZfRfRaRbR]cS   [email protected];525H;EAD΄;EEG6

review. The casing is all plastic – no surprises there – with a glossy non-removable rear panel and matte-finish sides and front. Volume and power buttons are at the top of the lefthand side, slightly unusual but easy to get used to, and there’s a headphone socket on top. The Micro-USB port is on the bottom, and a pop-out panel on the righthand side hides the nano-SIM and microSD slots. good, if not up to the level e much more expensive ne 5c or the cheaper Plus One. e of the compromises made ep down the price is the resolution. This works out at pi – a far cry from the 401ppi e OnePlus One and 445ppi of exus 5. still an IPS panel, though, h means the resolution is nly weakness. Colours and ast are strong, and it’s great atching videos, which look enough. ou prefer to use built-in kers rather than headphones, esire has the advantage C’s BoomSound stereo kers. These sit either of the screen. They’re not anding, but a clear step e smartphones with a single ;EEG6΄[email protected];525H;EAD 

rear-facing speaker, such as the Lumia 1320. They’re ideal for catch-up TV, YouTube and games.

Hardware There’s another compromise: processing power. The 816 has a Snapdragon 400 processor: four cores running at 1.6GHz and backed by 1.5GB of RAM. It feels zippy enough in general use, but it’s no match for the Nexus 5 or OnePlus One with their much speedier chips. It’s the same story for graphics: the Desire could manage only 11fps in GFXBench T-Rex, but the other two phones deliver smooth 24fps-plus gameplay. Our review model didn’t have NFC (HTC says this is an optional feature), nor does the 816 benefit from 802.11ac Wi-Fi – it’s limited to 802.11n, and 2.4GHz not 5GHz. There’s GPS, though, and Bluetooth 4.0. A small bonus is that it supports aptX for better Bluetooth audio streaming if you have a compatible speaker system.

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The microSD slot will accept cards up to 128GB, and you’ll certainly want to add to the meagre 8GB of internal storage. Around 6GB of this is available. The 816 supports 4G, and we had no complaints about signal strength or call quality in our tests. We also ran the smartphone through Geekbench 3 and SunSpider. In the former test the 816 managed 439 points in the single-core component, and 1503 points in the multi-core segment. In SunSpider it managed 940ms. Keen photographers will probably be looking at the 816 because of its cameras. At the front is a 5Mp snapper that can also shoot 1080p video, and there’s a 13Mp main camera with an LED flash at the back. It’s the same arrangement as on the HTC One mini 2. Video options include 720p and 1080p, but you can also switch to 60fps or slo-mo. Video quality is reasonable, given the right conditions. It’s fairly sharp and the stereo sound track helps improve the perception of quality. One big issue is that there’s no stabilisation, so video footage is shaky. But, as with the One mini 2, there’s too much compression for our liking, leading to a lack of detail. ;EEG6΄[email protected];525H;EAD 

With stills you’ll get better results if you switch to HDR mode whenever there’s high contrast in the scene, as the main camera doesn’t deal with bright backlighting very well. There’s manual control over ISO and EV correction, plus a selftimer, but not much else. Photo quality is decent unless you zoom in and look at the actual pixels. Snaps are fine for small prints or sharing online but, unfortunately, this is not the best smartphone camera we’ve seen.   [email protected];525H;EAD΄;EEG6

With a 2,600mAh battery, we found it necessary to enable the Power Saver mode to get the 816 through a full day. There’s also an extreme power saving mode, which turns off practically everything (and dims the screen) to eke out an extra day of life when you’re unable to charge your device.

Verdict Like HTC’s 610, the Desire 816 sits awkwardly between other smartphones in terms of price, with rivals including the OnePlus One, Nokia Lumia 1320 and Nexus 5. You won’t be disappointed if you can find one around £200.

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Review: Sony Xperia T3 Need a bigger screen? Sony’s T3 is a good phablet that’s available at a reasonable price ΋ ΄b^]h\^OWZR͙P^͙dY ΄

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Design and build The T3 follows the same square design Sony has adopted for its Xperia smartphones over the past few years. This slab has thick bezels, but an attractive stainless steel frame. Unlike premium Xperias, the rear is not made from glass, but has a soft-touch plastic cover. It’s available in black, white and purple. Also unlike other Xperias, this rear cover is contoured at the edge, allowing the T3 to sit better in the hand, although it’s still difficult to use onehanded. Neither does it feature IP67-certified dustand waterproof protection. Sony claims the T3 is the thinnest 5.3in phone in the world. True, it’s nicely svelte at just 7mm and 148g, although no other 5.3in phone springs to mind.

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The build quality is reasonable, but nothing special. Despite the primarily plastic design, the steel frame makes the T3 reassuringly solid. But small flaws – clicky, wobbly buttons and those chunky bezels – signify its mid-range price. The recess for the ear piece also collects dust and dirt very easily.

Hardware and performance The Xperia T3 delivers as expected for a mid-range smartphone. The 5.3in screen has only a 720p resolution, although benefits from Sony’s Triluminos technology for good colour reproduction. It has a nice natural look and the IPS panel makes for great viewing angles.   [email protected];525H;EAD΄;EEG6

There’s also 8GB of storage, which Sony lets you boost via microSD (up to 32GB). A middle-of-the-road Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 quad-core chip is clocked at 1.4GHz. Paired with 1GB of RAM it delivers smooth, if not outstanding, performance. The Xperia T3 scored 1389 points in our tests running Geekbench 3, 11fps in GFXBench’s T-Rex test and 1342ms in SunSpider. Given the Sony T3’s low-power processor and low-resolution screen, battery life is good. The non-removable 2500mAh battery should offer a couple of days of use, and with light usage you might even get three. NFC and 4G are supported, but connectivity is otherwise fairly basic. You’ll find 802.11a/b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0 LE and A-GPS, but no IR blaster. As always, Sony delivers on the photography front. We were pleased to find the Exmor RS for mobile image sensor in the Xperia T3’s 8Mp

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camera. A dedicated camera button lets you launch the Camera app from any screen; half-press it to focus, while a second press captures the scene. Sony’s Superior Auto Mode will suit most users and achieve decent results in most lighting conditions, but don’t be scared to switch to manual mode. Here you’ll find various shooting modes, the most useful of which is HDR. Other camera modes include Creative effect, Timeshift burst, Sweep Panorama and AR effect. These are all fun or helpful, sometimes both, but we’re not taken with the Portrait retouch option. On the video front you can shoot in full-HD quality, and there’s a 1.1Mp front-facing camera that can take decent selfies in good light. This is limited to 720p video recording. Sony’s software hasn’t changed much over the past couple of years. The Xperia T3 comes with Android 4.4.2 KitKat and the now familiar Xperia user interface. While we like the fact Sony’s interface is clean, simple, stylish and easy to use, it doesn’t really   [email protected];525H;EAD΄;EEG6

add any major features. It’s pretty much stock Android with Sony styling, which means you get some decent wallpapers, widgets and a slightly different lock screen. Sony preloads some additional apps. We like the Walkman, Album and Movies apps for browsing and accessing different media. Less attractive are those enticing you to buy content from the Sony Entertainment Network. You can just ignore these. Other additions include OfficeSuite (handy for opening various documents) and Gamin Navigation, which sounds good but is only a 30-day trial.

Verdict The Xperia T3 is a good but not great smartphone, which will suit those wanting a large screen smartphone without spending loads of cash. It delivers on this, but you should also consider the slightly smaller £299 Nexus 5 for improved performance and a better screen, or even Sony’s own 6.4in Xperia Z Ultra.

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Review: Samsung Galaxy S5 mini A more compact version of the Galaxy S5, the S5 mini also has some slimmed-down specs ΋ ΄ bM\bd]U͙P^\ΧdY ΄

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riced in line with its closest competition, the :F4A]R\W]W ͜cVREM\bd]U8MZMghE \W]W Z^^Ybc^ORMU^^QQRMZ͙3dccVRcW]h_aWPRUM_ ORcfRR]WcM]QcVRbcM]QMaQE ͈΋  E;?͹SaRR͉ ZRMQbdbc^f^]QRafVhM]h^]R\WUVcPV^^bRcVWb b\Mac_V^]R^eRaWcbSdZZ͹b_RPbWOZW]U͙

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The most obvious difference between little and large is the screen. Not only is the mini’s display smaller, at 4.5in versus 5.1in, it’s also just 720p against the S5’s 1020p. The processor-, memory- and storage options have also been downgraded, and the Wi-Fi, main camera and battery capacity reveal more cutbacks.

Design and build Despite these tweaks, in terms of design the S5 mini is exactly what its name implies: a smaller version of the Galaxy S5. It’s available in the same colours – white, black, gold or blue – and has the same dimpled plastic rear cover. As with the S5 this cover is removable, giving access to an also-removable battery, plus SIM and microSD slots. Unlike other phones with removable covers, the S5 mini won’t flex or creak under pressure. And that’s reassuring, given that Samsung claims this phone features IP67-rated dust- and waterproof

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protection. It doesn’t have the same fiddly (annoying) Micro-USB cover flap as the standard S5.  Samsung has been heavily criticised for this rear panel, and we have to agree: it makes the S5 mini look much cheaper than it is. That’s not to say this is a bad-looking phone, although it’s got nothing on the all-metal HTC One mini 2. A sleek slab with rounded edges, the S5 mini’s design is identical to that of previous S-series handsets. You get a 3.5mm headset jack and IR blaster on top, power on the right side and a volume rocker on the left. At the front is a physical home button, which now includes a fingerprint sensor, plus two software buttons: Recent apps and Back. Turn it over and you’ll find an 8Mp camera with single-LED flash, a speaker and a heart-rate sensor.  Its smaller dimensions make the mini a much better fit in the hand than the larger Galaxy S5, even

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if that does mean sound is muffled from the rearfacing speaker, while its extra width makes up for the reduced weight in securing a grip.  At 4.5in this phone’s display is hardly tiny, but the 0.6in between S5 and S5 mini is noticeable.  Because Samsung uses a Super AMOLED panel, the S5 mini’s 720p HD panel is much betterlooking than most. Its colours are bright and vivid, and the phone’s 326ppi pixel density is still up there in what Apple terms ‘Retina’ quality (indeed, it has the same pixel density as both the iPhone 5s and HTC One mini 2). Text is sharp and clear, and viewing angles are good.

Hardware and performance With a 1.4GHz quad-core processor, 1.5GB of RAM and Mali 400 graphics, we weren’t expecting mindblowing performance from the mini. In Geekbench 3 the Samsung Galaxy S5 mini recorded 372 points in the single-core test, and ;EEG6΄[email protected];525H;EAD  

1186 points in the multi-core component. That’s only slightly faster than the HTC One mini 2’s 1153 points. In GFXBench the mini managed 9.5fps in the T-Rex test. That’s sufficient for casual games, but it’s a long way from the best we’ve seen. Finally, in SunSpider, Samsung’s tiny Galaxy recorded 1104ms, putting it slightly behind the older Samsung Galaxy S4 (1092ms), but ahead of the HTC One mini 2 (1504ms) and LG G2 mini (1698ms).  In terms of real-world use we found the Galaxy S5 mini fairly snappy. There is some lag when opening apps, but it’s reasonable in day-to-day use.  The S5 mini comes with 16GB of onboard storage, of which 11.62GB is available. There’s a microSD slot that lets you add 64GB, and you can also take advantage of Google Drive and third-party cloud-storage apps. Like the S5 the mini is a 4G phone, but it doesn’t feature Samsung’s 4G- and Wi-Fi-pairing Download Booster. Neither does its dual-band Wi-Fi connectivity stretch to 802.11ac, and the mini doesn’t support MHL or DLNA. Wi-Fi Direct, Wireless Hotspot, NFC, Bluetooth 4.0 and GPS are all present.   [email protected];525H;EAD΄;EEG6

It’s only 8Mp, but we were impressed with the S5 mini’s rear camera. This is paired with a single-LED flash and autofocus, plus several filters and special-effect modes. There is an impressive amount of detail, with no evidence of blurring. Colours are realistic, too. The rear camera is also capable of shooting fullHD video at 30fps, which is decent but down from the 4K video of its bigger brother. Following on from the full-size S5, the S5 mini features a fingerprint scanner, built into the Home button. It can be used to unlock your device, verify your Samsung account or pay with PayPal. It also takes the S5’s heart-rate sensor. The Galaxy S5 mini runs Android 4.4 KitKat out of the box, and will be upgraded to Android L. Samsung overlays its TouchWiz UI, which has seen a few tweaks, including a redesigned Settings menu with round, colourful icons, new quick-access buttons for S Finder and Quick Connect, and the ability to hide any preinstalled apps that are cluttering up your app tray.  The S5 mini’s 2100mAh battery easily lasted a day in our tests, while an Ultra Power Saving Mode turns off non-essential features to squeeze out useful extra capacity.

Verdict The S5 mini is a decent Android phone, but it struggles to justify its price. The dust- and waterproof casing is a nice touch, but the heart-rate monitor and fingerprint scanner are welcome but not essential additions. ;EEG6΄[email protected];525H;EAD  

Review: Asus Fonepad 7 LTE If you need a 7in tablet that can make phone calls this could be it. But do you really need that? ΋΄dY͙Mbdb͙P^\ ΄

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he Asus Fonepad 7 LTE certainly qualifies as a ‘phablet’. It’s a 7in tablet that also acts as a phone. It might not be to everyone’s taste but it does its job well. At £199, it seems a little overpriced, particularly compared with Asus’s own impressive £120 Memo Pad 7. However, that model doesn’t have a SIM-card slot, so there’s no 3G/4G connectivity and you can’t make phone calls and send texts.

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The FonePad 7 comes in black or white, unlike the Memo Pad 7, which is available in several bright colours. We tested the black unit, which has a slightly sparkly, textured finish on its plastic back. Unfortunately, rather than adding a bit of glamour, this looks tacky. Aside from this, we found the overall design and build of the Fonepad 7 to be solid and attractive, though, the bezels around the display are a little thick for our liking. Dust and dirt tended to get stuck in the uncovered microSD and Micro-USB port, too. Then there’s the matter of weight and thickness. It’s a great size overall, measuring 198x120mm, but

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it’s thicker than many rival tablets at 10.5mm, such as the Memo Pad 7’s 9.6mm and the Nexus 7’s 8.7mm. It also feels heavy, at 333g compared with the 295g of the Memo Pad 7, though, it’s only 2g heavier than the larger 7.9in Retina iPad mini. We found the Fonepad 7 easy to hold in both portrait and landscape orientations, though, it did begin to feel heavy after prolonged periods of time – watching a film on the train home or browsing the web for several minutes, for example. Additionally, if you’re planning on using the Fonepad to make phone calls without using the speakerphone functionality or plugging in headphones, you’ve got to hold it up to your ear. Not only does it look silly, it’s also uncomfortable – a Bluetooth headset or headphones with a built-in mic will be a good investment. The Fonepad 7 has a 7in HD display with a 1280x800 resolution IPS panel, which is disappointing when compared with the Nexus 7’s

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323ppi display. However, the screen is bright and crisp enough to enjoy watching movies, browsing the web and viewing photos. Inside is a 2x2 Intel Atom Multi-core Z2560 processor clocked at 1.6GHz, and paired with 1GB of RAM. That’s not as impressive as the MemoPad 7’s quad-core 1.86GHz 64-bit processor, but it’s still pretty good for a tablet at this price. We still found that the Fonepad 7 LTE coped with most tasks we threw at it, launching apps quickly on most occasions, even the Camera app. You’ll get the option of either 8GB or 16GB internal memory, but it’s not a decision you’ll need to take too seriously, as there’s a microSD slot for adding up to an extra 64GB storage if you need it. Plus, you’ll get 5GB lifetime Asus Web Storage space for storing photos, videos and other files in the cloud, with an additional 11GB for the first year. ;EEG6΄[email protected];525H;EAD 

The Fonepad 7 LTE has 802.11a/b/g/n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0, as well as 3G and 4G LTE connectivity if your contract supports it. There’s no NFC, though, or other premium features like an IR blaster. The Fonepad 7 has rear- (5Mp) and front-facing (1.2Mp) cameras. We particularly like Asus’s camera app, which offers filters and effects as well as features such as Smart Remove for getting rid of unwanted objects from a photo. Asus has given the Fonepad an Android 4.4 KitKat update complete with the new Asus ZenUI. This   [email protected];525H;EAD΄;EEG6

offers a flat, simple and colourful interface with easyto-understand icons and nicely designed apps. We were impressed by the battery life, too. Asus claims that it’ll last for 11-and-a-half hours of constant use, or 735 hours in standby. Our test unit managed four days between charges, and in that time we used it to take photographs, record video, browse the web, make phone calls and run apps. It’s got a 15Wh, non-removable battery.

Verdict For anyone looking for a 7in tablet that can make phone calls, the Asus Fonepad 7 LTE is worth a look, though, we’re not convinced anyone would want to.

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Review: ZTE Blade L2 If you’ve not got much money to spend on a phone the ZTE is attractive, but you could do better ΋΄jcRdY͙P^͙dY ΄

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he Blade L2 is the latest super-budget b\Mac_V^]RSa^\4VW]RbR_V^]R\MYRa LF6͙2c΋͜WcbPZ^bRbcaWeMZWbcVRbM\R͹ _aWPR?^c^a^ZM?^c^6͈cW]hdaZ͙P^\Χ\^XZR͉͜M ͙ W] `:5͹bPaRR]2]Qa^WQ=Wc=Mc_V^]RfWcVMQdMZ͹P^aR _a^PRbb^a͙FVWb_V^]RͭbSMbcRacVM]?^c^a^ZMͭb cheapest handset, but speed isn’t everything in the VWUVZhP^\_RcWcWeRb\Mac_V^]R\MaYRc͙ @RWcVRa͜^SP^dabR͜MaRZ^^Yb͜MZcV^dUVcVRhQ^ VRZ_͙IVRaRMbcVR?^c^6WbW]PaRQWOZhfRZZOdWZc͜ XdbcMbZWUVcZhPVd]YWRaeRabW^]^SWcbORbc͹bRZZW]U pebble-design Moto G, the Blade L2 caused us _a^OZR\bReR]ORS^aRfRcda]RQWc^]͙



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The rear cover is removable, allowing you to access the SIM and microSDXC slots – we say removable, it felt like it had been superglued on. Once you’ve prised off the cover once, it’s much easier to remove, but this isn’t necessarily a good thing. With the 2000mAh battery inside a nonremovable model there’s no need to get under the cover, yet you’re left with a phone whose chassis now creaks under pressure. It’s not all bad. The all-white ZTE doesn’t suffer the usual tell-tale budget belly, measuring just 8.95x142.5x72.2mm. It’s not too heavy either, at just 130g. And despite the now-creaky chassis, the Blade L2 is fairly sturdy, with nothing rattling inside. It’s plastic, sure, and with a silver plastic trim that is rather obviously painted plastic rather than chrome bling. But this is a ridiculously cheap smartphone, which feels good in the hand – despite its large 5in screen – and its ports and buttons lie about the chassis exactly as you’d expect. The speaker might have been betterpositioned, not only on the rear but falling directly under the palm of your hand. Turning our attention to what’s on the inside things start to look up for the Blade ;EEG6΄[email protected];525H;EAD  

L2. A quad-core processor and 1GB of RAM at £89 is very good, even if this MediaTek chip is clocked at only 1.3GHz. We found it faster than the Moto E’s 1.2GHz dual-core Snapdragon 200 and 1GB of RAM combo. Significantly faster, in fact: in Geekbench 3’s multi-core test, the ZTE scored almost twice as high as that of the Moto E, with 1191 points versus its 608. We also recorded 356 points in the single-core test. The Moto E’s 400MHz Adreno 302 graphics took the upper hand over ZTE’s 416MHz ARM Mali-400 in GFXBench, though. In the T-Rex graphics test, we recorded just 9fps for the ZTE, but 11fps for the Motorola. Even ZTE’s £39 Kis 3 scored 12fps. That’s not to say graphics are unusable on the Blade L2. Although we found frames a little sluggish, we were able to stream video from the preinstalled YouTube app and play casual games such as Temple Run 2 and Jetpack Joyride without issue. The 5in screen is also welcome, if only for its size: viewing angles are poor and the display is dull at all but its maximum brightness setting. With a 480x854 resolution and 196ppi pixel density, the Blade falls short of the Moto E’s qHD (540x960) 256ppi display in terms of clarity. In fact, the L2’s screen even falls short of that of the Kis 3, which has a 233ppi density. Amazingly at this price you get support for microSDXC, which makes up for the 4GB inside.   [email protected];525H;EAD΄;EEG6

The ZTE gives away its low pricing on the connectivity front. Not only does it lack NFC, 4G and 802.11ac Wi-Fi, but it features old Bluetooth 3.0. The 2000mAh battery should get you through a full working day, but with the screen brightness ramped up don’t expect any more. The Blade L2 has a 5Mp rear camera with an LED flash. A device that can take photos whenever the moment happens is a useful thing to have in your pocket, but this isn’t going to replace your dedicated camera. It’s slow to focus, and colours washed out. On the front is a 0.3Mp webcam that will do the job for Skype, but this isn’t a phone for taking selfies. With more than half (56.5 percent) the Android phones in use today running Android Jelly Bean, the Blade L2 is in good company. But a device that ships brand-new running Jelly Bean at a time when KitKat is about to be superseded with Android L isn’t a good sign. After all, this isn’t even the latest version of Jelly Bean (4.3), this is 4.2.2. The Motorola Moto E, which ships with KitKat, certainly beats it in this regard. As does ZTE’s own Kis 3, also running KitKat. ZTE has tweaked the standard Android OS slightly. To access the phone from the lock screen, for example, you have to press and hold the lock icon rather than swiping across the screen.

Verdict The Blade L2 has a lot to offer at just £89, with a quad-core processor, a large screen and support for microSDXC. But while it may be faster than the Motorola Moto E, in many respects the ZTE is the inferior phone and even gets shown up by the significantly cheaper ZTE Kis 3. ;EEG6΄[email protected];525H;EAD  

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