The Evolution of Sony Xperia Z Smartphones

How Sony have evolved the Xperia Z smartphone over 24 months & 6 handsets

Sony Xperia Z Evolution

The Apple iPhone and Samsung Galaxy smartphones may dominate in terms of numbers and general public interest, however putting up a strong fight is Sony with its line of Xperia Z handsets.

2 years on from the first device and 6 variations of the Z smartphone later, just how has the range developed?

In the following video, accompanied by the written story, we summarise how the Sony flagship range has developed from the original media-grabbing Z through to the current Xperia Z3 and Z3 Compact.

[Read more…]

New In – enCharge UK Power Socket Wall Plates with USB

enCharge UK Power Socket USB Wall Plate

In 2014 we showcased Connekt Gear’s UK power socket with USB ports. It proved to be a very popular and cost effective solution to a very modern problem. We’re still selling these at £20 by the way, with a £5 discount for every 2 purchased.

If you’re looking for something with a bit more style to it however, enCharge have recently released a very similar product, although it comes in a range of metallic finishes more suited to a modern design.

The basic premise is exactly the same as the Connekt Gear model; you can replace existing 2-way wall plates in your home with this new one, then benefit from having 2 extra USB sockets for charging smartphones, tablets and other devices, saving you space and time hunting for chargers!

The maximum output on the USB module is 2.1A, so you can reasonably charge a single large tablet, quickly fill up a standard smartphone, or reliably juice 2 small devices or phones. There’s also built-in surge protection and the installation is a quick and simple job for anyone with electrical experience.

At £26 these enCharge units are slightly more expensive than the Connekt Gear models, however if you’re looking for a decent upgrade to a few rooms with some style, then the extra few quid is well worth it.

Order enCharge UK Power Socket USB Wall Plate from Clove Technology

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

LG G3 Pros & Cons

SIM free lg g3The LG G3 succeeded the G2, a phone that dared to be different with its design choices. Released late in the Summer of 2014, the G3 was the final flagship phone from the major manufacturers, arriving after the Samsung Galaxy S5, HTC One M8 and Sony Xperia Z2.

This release choice was a double-edged sword – it allowed LG to focus their design and marketing on features others hadn’t included, however they inevitably lost some traction by being the last to the playing field.

Cons

Whilst it doesn’t affect the performance of the phone, the construction is not the chic metallic design that promotional pictures make it out to be. The entire back panel is a removable plastic with a metallic finish which, to give credit where it’s due, does still look quite good.

Consumers are becoming more discerning however and at the high end plastic is no longer cutting it. LG were able to gauge price points at launch and price accordingly, although now with all of the same generation well into their lifecycles, you might decide a plastic phone isn’t for you.

Also keeping LG’s costs down to undercut the competition was a lack of IP rating. Where HTC got away with this in 2014 by having a premium iPhone-inspired aluminium unibody, there wasn’t really much of an excuse for LG. Samsung were able to seal up their backplate with simple rubberising and a USB port cover to gain an IP 55/57 description, LG probably should have done the same. The result is a lower cost unit, however do you run the risk of not having that protection on your top of the range phone?

For all of LG’s advertising bluster about the ‘laser autofocus’ on the G3, the final results were somewhat lacklustre. That’s not to say the feature didn’t work, in fact it worked very well, the issue was in LG’s camera app and image processing. Focussing and taking a picture were remarkably quick and easy, supporting LG’s claims, however their camera software is lacking in comparison to other 3 top Android manufacturers.

Without comprehensive features and what seems to be below-par post processing, the G3’s images can be a little washed out and you may struggle in low light conditions. The camera is better than many mid-range phones, however it’s easily the least impressive of high-end offerings from the big 5 names (including Apple) from 2014. This is definitely more of a point and shoot, a camera for the moment rather than a portable replacement.

Again not following a worthwhile trend, LG only issued the G3 with one single speaker. Dual speakers and quality audio processing are available from Sony and HTC, yet LG decided not to follow. Once again this could have been a cost-per-unit money saving choice, however it definitely detracts from the phone as a whole.

LG_G3_Shine_Gold_Hands_On3

Pros

The design is excellent. Comfort and artistic appreciation are subjective of course, yet LG’s rear mounted buttons and carefully chamfered edges make the G3 a real stunner. Coupled with a tiny bezel to the sides complemented with a suitably slim one for the top and bottom, the screen dominates the front of the phone. It’s hard to believe the G3 has a 5.2″ display as the overall profile is smaller than those with less real estate.

Following on from the screen’s size, the quality is simply superb. The 2K resolution may be considered overkill for many, however the results are incredibly impressive. Everything is bright and tangible, awash with colour and details other displays would never pick out. If you happen to play new games, watch videos while commuting or perhaps enjoy browsing through artworks in your spare time, the G3’s screen has to be seen to be believed.

LG know how to do the basics well and this extends to the G3’s connectivity options. Everything you might require is here, including wired video out over HDMI (via Slimport adapter) and wireless screen sharing with Miracast. 4G LTE bands are covered, Qi wireless charging is included as standard without the need for additional accessories plus you also have a removable battery and support for expandable storage.

LG offer a wide array of applications and features on their top phones. The closest rivals in this space are probably Samsung, no surprise when they are geographical rivals too! Both Korean manufacturers put a lot of extra apps on their phones but if you take the time to investigate them all, you’ll probably find a good many more than just one you’ll use regularly.

Add to this a very clean and simplified user interface on the G3 and you have a usability dream. There will always be those that prefer stock Android, however LG’s UI is an example of how to skin Android well. A personalised and branded experience with valuable extras that never becomes intrusive or annoying.

Order the LG G3 from Clove

Windows 10 – how will this affect my smartphone?

phone_startIs the future Windows 10?

Following the recent event held by Microsoft, we have gained an insight into the future of Microsoft smartphones and how they will function.

Firstly most of you will probably notice the “Phone” part is gone from the branding of the platform available on smartphones.  The reason for this is that Microsoft has worked towards providing a universal experience whichever device type you are using.

With Windows 10 they are finally realizing this combining of products by consumers to do similar tasks, so instead of offering different experiences depending on the device you are using, there will instead by just one universal way of interacting.

This means that you will have exactly the same experience whether you are using a smart phone, tablet or desktop computer, allowing for easier movement between each device to carry on working.

[Read more…]

Honor 3C Review

Wow, what a great phone

Honor_3C_Hands_On_Photo (20)The Honor 3C is a new entrant to the smartphone market that looks to offer exceptional value for money, but many may be questioning who are ‘Honor’?

Honor comes about as a reaction to Oppo, OnePlus and Xiaomi who have been growing rapidly in select markets of the world thanks in part to the value they create in devices.

Honor is actually a brand developed, financed and supported by the Chinese giant that is Huawei. However, they wish to distance themselves and let Honor stand on its own two feet, but to you and I we can take comfort in knowing that the parent company is a hugely resourceful and experienced entity that bring this to the Honor brand.

According to the Oxford English dictionary the word ‘honour’ is to have high respect and great esteem for.

My initial impressions of the 3C lead me to believe come the end of this review I will have this respect for it, but only time will tell, so lets take an in depth look at what you get with the 3C.

[Read more…]

Doro Liberto 820 – How To Call, SMS and MMS

If you’ve picked out the Doro Liberto 820 as your next phone here are a series of videos from Doro that will make your journey with us that little bit smoother.

First up how to make your first call, send your first text message and compose your first MMS or picture message.

Doro have designed the 820 around you, bringing their expertise to the smartphone world and these videos will act as a visual guide to getting the most from your new phone.

If you have any questions on your purchase feel free to get in touch and if you are ready to jump in to the world of samrtphones you can pick up the Doro Liberto 820 by clicking on the blue button below.

We’re always at the end of the phone on 01202 552936 if you would prefer to speak with us.

Buy the Doro Liberto 820

 

CAT S50 Pros & Cons

CAT_S50 The newest addition to the CAT range of tough smartphones is the S50. This builds on Cat’s now established brand in the smartphone space with a number of welcome improvements on previous models.

We’ve seen great uptake on their B15 and B15Q models in the last year and a bit, so where does the S50 stack up, and does it fall down at any point? To listen to Jon’s 60 second quick review, head to the bottom of the article.

Cons

The S50 screen lacks some ‘punch’ or real vibrancy. At this price we were never likely to see a display that rivals the high resolution Super AMOLED or SLCD of Samsung or Sony’s flagship devices, however the S50 is still somewhat muted in its colour reproduction. Some of this may also be down to the toughened screen covering too. It’s not a deal breaker though and if you’re in the market for a tough phone then it might not bother you as some compromises have to be made.

Unfortunately the camera results aren’t particularly great. The final images are a marked on improvement on previous Cat smartphones but still fall well short of more established brands. The issue probably isn’t the hardware; the S50’s 8 MP module is likely to be the same as those used in many other handsets, so the issue will rest with the software.

Cat don’t expand a huge amount on the base Android operating system, which for many is a good thing. However the standard camera provision has been lacking in quality on Android for some time. The big players in the Android game all lay their own camera application and software on top and the final results speak for themselves. The S50 will still take OK looking stills and video, although if that’s a primary feature for you then be aware the standard should be higher than this.

Cat_S50_B15Q (7)

Lastly the Cat name is still not that desirable with many consumers. This is a tough subject as the brand is synonymous with toughness and a particular demographic, so the design of the handset, as well as catering to this look, also has to meet a certain specification which impacts on the design.

Cat are gaining customers with effective advertising and by currently being the most well-featured tough phone in the market. That particular accolade might not last forever though if a savvy contender comes along. There may well be a number of potential customers simply unaware of how well-specced the S50 is, or who are put off it by similarly priced or featured devices from more established brands. This is something for the marketing team at Cat to consider, but right now the S50 and its brothers are still viewed as ugly ducklings. Even he became a swan eventually though.

Pros

We’ll run through the spec list in more detail shortly but simply put, the Cat S50 is the most advanced toughphone available right now. By toughphone I’m referring to a smartphone that is specifically advertised as being more ‘rugged’ than standard. For instance the Sony Xperia Z3 or Samsung Galaxy S5 might have an IP rating for waterproofing, however they’re not marketed as toughphones and certainly don’t have anything about their design that indicates they are better designed for harsh environments.

The S50 comes in a lot slimmer than other toughphones. This is primarily due to the choices in materials. Many toughphones are encased in a thick rubber shell; this offers excellent impact, shock and drop protection but the phone itself then suffers from being unwieldy, heavy and not pocket-friendly. By opting for a more uniquely designed, machined metal casing, Cat have been able to trim the fat so to speak, producing a rugged phone without the extra weight. The corners and edges are still reinforced, but done more cleverly with engineering knowledge rather than a quick to implement rubber sheath.

Android 4.4 KitKat. 4.7″ 720p HD display. 1.2 GHz quad core Snapdragon 400. 2 GB RAM. 4G LTE. Qi wireless charging & NFC. It doesn’t break the boundaries of smartphone capabilities but is far and away the most capable rugged phone right now. Many rugged phones fail to keep up with the pace of the smartphone industry, being underpowered and suffering from legacy OS issues but not Cat. Their range is and continues to be up to date with consumer trends, offering the perfect bridge phone for anyone wanting modern capabilities with a safety net for rough working environments.

Cat_S50_B15Q (3)

The audio experience on the Cat S50 is actually very good. Not only is the speaker loud and capable of delivering a decent quality of sound, Cat have teamed up with Waves for audio enhancement across the phone. This is an example of their commitment to the brand, and hopefully indicative of their ongoing support. Perhaps we will see more added-value features such as this in their future phones, yet another feature to set themselves apart from other cookie-cutter toughphones.

The battery clocks in at 2,630 mAh which is ample for a full day’s use. Plus Cat saw fit to include Qi wireless charging abilities, so if you have a Qi dock handy or happen upon one of the more frequently appearing public charging areas (Starbucks & McDonald’s have been getting in on this) then you can quickly get a top up. Not even all the big names in Android are on-board with fitting Qi as standard yet!

As a final plus the Cat S50 runs Android 4.4 KitKat in almost stock format. There are a few additional apps and tweaks but mostly the OS is untouched. This is great if you are part of an organisation looking to deploy S50s – you can develop and manage custom applications and easily customise the phone without having to work round the manufacturer’s additions to Android.

Order the Cat S50 from Clove Technology

BlackBerry Passport Pros & Cons

BlackBerry PassportThe BlackBerry Passport is an interesting new concept device. It is designed to be an effective business tool and get jobs done efficiently in that space, whilst offering a unique and eye catching profile.

Here we take a look at what the Passport does well, along with some areas for improvement. Also check out the end of the post for our 60 second quick review.

Cons

There’s no two ways around it, the Passport is a big phone. Large screens and two-handed use are the norm for the top-end devices these days, however the Passport really does take some getting used to as the profile makes it much wider than anyone would really be used to, plus at almost 200 grams it is also quite weighty.

The overall effect is similar to the kinds of portable computer or PDAs of years gone by, albeit much slimmer. This will be a sticking point for some; if you have small hands then you might struggle. To double check go and find your actual passport. The dimensions should be almost identical, so if you can imagine it being heavier, this is the kind of size you would be dealing with on a daily basis.

The BlackBerry 10 OS is very functional, far more so than it was a year or so ago, although it still seems to lack a certain fluidity in use. It is quite reliant on you using particular gestures to speed up navigation, however there still seem to be some counter-intuitive design decisions. The page for open applications / multitasking for instance seems clunky if you regularly use the running apps button on Android.

BlackBerry_Passport_Hands_On (4)

The app ecosystem remains limited for some. Most of the communication basics and popularised apps are covered, although support and update rates are low. The introduction of Android apps is welcome but as they are not native introduces a mild performance hit. If you are coming to BlackBerry from another system, this remains something to thoroughly research as you may find something you find very useful to be unavailable.

The keyboard is useful however it lacks a physical numerical row (which is displayed on the touchscreen). This was clearly a decision made in the design stages. You get used to it after a while but it never stops being a little bit jarring when you have to use numbers or symbols and get thrown from keys to touch. Additionally,  2 stage key functions.

The screen is of excellent quality however the unique 1:1 ratio is not really attuned for video playback or gaming. Unless apps are coded to support the ratio (most won’t be), you’ll find the dual bane of media lovers: black bars or stretched content.

Pros

On paper the Passport has a really great list of specifications. The Snapdragon 800 processor is close to top of the range, 3 GB of RAM allow for intensive multitasking, there is global 4G LTE support and the screen is capable of full HD, albeit in an interesting ratio. BlackBerry have come under fire before for not providing devices with cutting-edge hardware, this cannot be said of the Passport.

Connectivity is well catered for across the BlackBerry range and the Passport doesn’t shy away from this tradition. 4G LTE is available on global networks, and high speed WiFi connections are also supported. Miracast and HDMI out via Slimport are nice to see, many Android phones miss out on these and one wonders if Apple will ever catch this train or continue with their own branded wireless ecosystem. As a quality extra for the more techy out there, there are even network diagnostic tools in the connectivity settings.

Sound quality is well above passable. There are front-mounted stereo speakers for a more immersive sound than rear-mounted units, plus the volume can go well above what many would need without distortion. From our testing we have also had some excellent audio recording results.

BlackBerry_Passport_Hands_On (4)

Camera quality is a contentious issue on many phones. Megapixels don’t mean everything and with high pixel & sensor size, good processing and a quality photographer, you can get a lot more out of 8 megapixels than 20. With a 13 MP sensor and f/2.0 lens, the Passport is capable of some quality results. BlackBerry have also spent a lot of time developing the camera application on their whole range. There’s a huge number of features and post-processing techniques to rival the best of mobile photography from other manufacturers.

The large keyboard is very intuitive to use. It’s designed for two-handed use and when you get to grips with it makes for some very nippy typing. The innovative integrated touch panel is also excellently implemented. Once you learn its sensitivity, you can zip your cursor around documents or lengthy emails with ease, perfect for some quick editing. Using it to select menu options as also simple – BlackBerry certainly understand user input as well as any.

Getting past the odd screen ratio might be a learning curve, however you can’t deny the actual screen quality. Everything is sharp, vivid and bright from videos and games to simple articles and shopping sites.

The battery life of the Passport is one of its standout features. The 3,450 mAh cell is huge and with some impressive power management going on behind the scenes, even somewhat heavy users can eke out 2 full days.

Order a BlackBerry Passport from Clove Technology

Save £55 on BlackBerry Passport – Now £399

BlackBerry_Passport_Hands_On (2)Save £55 on the flagship BlackBerry Passport

For a limited time, you can now save £55 off the cost of a SIM free BlackBerry Passport in either Black or White colour.

Previously £455 including VAT you can now purchase the Passport for £399 inclusive of VAT.

A more unique product, but one that could really enhance the productivity of your daily life key features of the device include:

  • BlackBerry 10.3 OS
  • 2.2 GHz Quad-core processor
  • 4.5” extra wide LCD display
  • 3 row QWERTY keyboard
  • Use the keyboard as a touchpad
  • BlackBerry Assistant
  • 32GB internal storage
  • 4G LTE connectivity
  • 13MP camera with OIS

Order the BlackBerry Passport for £332.50+VAT (£399 inc VAT)

In addition to the hardware features, there are a couple of value added software tweaks which make the Passport a more desirable smartphone than you may first think.

The addition of the Amazon Appstore and the ability to side load Android apps, means app availability is less of an issue than it once was.

BlackBerry Blend also allows for remote access to the handset, even if its many miles away along with the ability to easily connect to a desktop computer for more of a traditional computer set-up, the difference here is that the Passport is doing all the work.

We have written a full review on the BlackBerry Passport here, if you would like to read it, or watch the following video which summarises it in around 60 seconds.

Of if you would simply like to take advantage of this superb offer, head over to the Clove website to purchase your SIM free Passport now.

Order the BlackBerry Passport for £332.50+VAT (£399 inc VAT)

Honor 6 Unboxing

huawei-honor-6-frontWe’ve had an influx of new handsets over the past couple of months and the Honor 6 is the newest of the new. The Honor brand comes with backing from Huawei who are massive players in the world of mobile hardware and mobile communication infrastructure.

The Honor 6 does come packing some very impressive specifications, one of which is the screen and from the above picture you get an idea of what to expect. The 5 inch screen has a resolution of 1080 x 1920 (445 ppi) and this will see pictures and other media really stand out. Put this up against the iPhone 6 Plus, Z3 and the Galaxy S5 and the results will be similar.

You’ll find a Sony 13 MP camera with the Honor 6 so stand by for some very good looking pictures. A huge front facing 5 megapixel camera takes care of video calls and selfies.

Power comes from the 1.7 GHz & 1.3 GHz (2x quad core) processor and keeping everything running smoothly is 3GB of RAM.

As Jon says in the video, the Honor 6 is aiming at those who want the high specs but without the high price tag. At just under £250 you get a lot of phone for your money.

Take a look at the unboxing video above and let us know your thoughts.

Buy the Honor 6 from Clove Technology for £249.99