U|Karbon Skins – Sony Xperia Z3 Compact

Recently we started working with U|Karbon, a UK based provider of custom skins for smartphones, tablets, laptops, games consoles and more.

The skins are manufactured from DI-NOC™, a tough, high-quality PVC film which is flexible, cleanable and uses an adhesive that ensures bubble free application every time.

The other great aspect is the raised 3D texturing which provides the look and feel of genuine carbon fibre, also removing them leaves no residue! At just 0.2 mm thick, U|Karbon skins add virtually no bulk whilst providing excellent scratch protection and a unique look.

Z3C-ukarbon-red-black

More than one member of the Clove team now has a U|Karbon skin on their phone (Sony Xperia Z3 Compact and LG G3) and both are extremely happy with the results.

Carbon_Skin_15_Percent_Off

To order a skin in one of black, white or signature red, please use the following link: Sony Xperia Z3 Compact U|Karbon.

You can also use the code ‘Clove15′ on their checkout for a 15% discount!

MiPow colour range – Playbulb & Candle videos

playbulb_color_blog_1MiPow’s innovative speaker and LED light combo has been one of those interesting products – something that seemed a little silly at first but then instantly justified itself after a demonstration.

It’s been a consistent seller here at Clove since release, with a price of £50 that sits at just the right point between gift, toy and an actually quite useful gadget which performs well.

Building on the Playbulb’s success, MiPow have now improved on the original by introducing an adjustable colour LED into the mix. With the updated app you can change the displayed colour remotely, as well as picking from a variety of colour transitions and styles.

With Bluetooth multipoint technology you can also create groups of Playbulb products, ensuring they all have the same colour and phase options at the same time, and stream the same music where applicable.

Check out our own videos below for a brief demonstration of both products

MiPow PLAYBULB Color

An update to the original Playbulb, the new colour version costs £79.99 – first retail stock is expected in early January.

MiPow PLAYBULB Candle

playbulb_candleThe candle version is an excellent portable ambient light source powered by AA batteries.

It doesn’t feature the speaker, however is a fantastic item to be used indoors as a night-light or perhaps down the beach for when the sun goes down.

The PLAYBULB candle is available individually for £19.99 or in packs of 3 for £49.99 for a saving of £10.

HTC Desire EYE – now available

The new selfie phone from HTC now available SIM free

HTC-DESIRE-EYE-BLUEA few weeks ago we reported making a pre-order page available for the all-new HTC Desire EYE. The innovative ‘selfie phone’ features a 13 megapixel camera on both the front and back of the handset, as well as some pretty powerful overall specs.

This is one of the final big name releases of 2014 and shows that HTC are still committed to making high quality smartphones with interesting flourishes for the consumer.

Alongside the powerful 13 MP cameras (and yes if you love selfies it really does make a difference!), you’ll find a full HD 5.2″ screen, up to date processor and LTE support.

There’s also HTC favourites such as Blinkfeed and ZOE, plus a whole host of additional camera features in the updated HTC EYE camera application including Face Tracking, Screen Share, Split Capture, Face Fusion, Live Makeup, Auto Selfie, Voice Selfie, Photo Booth and Crop Me In.

Order a SIM free HTC Desire EYE today from Clove Technology

HTC Desire EYE at a glance

  • Front facing 13 MP camera with autofocus and LED flash
  • Android 4.4.4 (KitKat)
  • 5.2″ 1080 x 1920 multi-touch (~424 ppi)
  • 2.3GHz Snapdragon 801
  • 4G LTE (Bands 3, 7, 8, 20)
  • 16GB storage / micro SD up to 128GB
  • WiFi / NFC / Miracast / BT 4.0 / DLNA
  • GPS / GLONASS
  • 151.7 x 73.8 x 8.5 mm
  • 154 grams

Deff Travel Biz Magnetic Connector Cable – Now In Stock

One of the most successful accessories of this year has been a very simple one; the Deff MicroUSB Magnetic Connector Adapter for Sony Xperia devices.

This handy little unit sits on the end of a standard micro USB cable and attaches to the magnetic charging ports of the Sony Xperia Z1, Z1 Compact, Z2, Z3 and Z3 Compact, negating the need for opening the USB port cover.

The tip is great but something many people have asked for is a full cable that ends in the magnetic adapter – something Sony have yet to officially release in the UK. We spoke to our contacts in Japan and lo and behold, such a product was being developed!

Deff_Magnetic_Cable_Banner

We placed an order for these a few weeks ago and are pleased to say that we are now in stock of the new Deff Travel Biz Magnetic Connector Cable. Priced at just £15 (£12.50 ex-VAT), the cable has a full size USB connector at one end for use with USB sockets on mains chargers, computers, portable battery packs and other power sources.

Being an integrated design with a smaller profile, this adapter cable is also more inclined to stay attached to the magnetic charging plate when the phone is moved, as well as being more compatible with some 3rd party cases.

The cable also features a built-in LED that changes from red to blue to show when it is either connected to power or delivering charge to a phone.

Order a Deff Travel Biz Magnetic Connector Cable today

BlackBerry Classic – browser and apps

BlackBerry-Classic-Black-FrontWe’re inching ever closer to BlackBerry’s official Classic announcement – due on the 17th – so here’s another post looking at some of the features we can expect to enjoy.

The BlackBerry Browser is a bit of an understated trump card in BB10. It was originally designed from the ground up for the Z10 and is integrated fully into the BB10 operating system.

Unlike standalone browsers on other systems, the BlackBerry Browser has functionality that is directly linked to other parts of your BlackBerry phone such as the messaging hub. It has also been consistently found to be the fastest mobile browsing platform, outperforming Opera Mobile, Safari, Chrome for mobile, Dolphin, IE10 and more!

When it comes to apps, you will find both BlackBerry World and the Amazon Appstore preloaded on the Classic, providing access to a great range of productivity enhancers, games and other useful tools.

The deal with Amazon brings the opportunity to natively download Android applications, without Google Play, that are guaranteed to run on your Classic.

You can also sideload Android apps quite easily, should you have the knowledge to do so and be after something that isn’t available through the Amazon front. As a nice touch, sideloading apps won’t affect your warranty.

PRE-ORDER the SIM FREE BlackBerry Classic from Clove today

X or G? Which 2nd generation Moto should you choose?

Motorola_Moto_G_2nd_GenOver the last 18 months Motorola have slowly but surely managed to win back consumers with their affordably priced smartphone range. Not only have they carved out a range of devices that meets different price points, they have also taken note of consumer needs, ensuring each rung in their product ladder is properly tailored to suit.

The first generation Moto G and X (along with the later released Moto E and G-4G) were examples of how to hit a low price point, whilst still cramming in as much useful technology as possible and without compromising on build quality or wasting resources.

The trend continues with the Moto G and Moto X 2nd Gen releases for 2014/5. Both have now been available for a good few months and have proven just as popular as their older counterparts. In this post we’ll take a look at where they improved upon their originators and also how they stack up against each other.

What are the improvements over the 2013/4 models?

Moto G 1st Moto G 2nd
OS Android 4.3 (5.0 compatible) Android 4.4.4 (5.0 compatible)
Camera 5MP / 1.3MP front 8MP / 2MP front
Screen 4.5″ 720×1080 5.0″ 720×1080
Processor 1.2GHz quad-core Snapdragon 400 1.2GHz quad-core Snapdragon 400
Storage 8/16 GB 8 GB with micro SD support
Dimensions 129.9 x 65.9 x 11.6 mm 141.5 x 70.7 x 11 mm
Battery 2,070 mAh 2,070 mAh
Extras Stereo speakers, dual SIM

There wasn’t a huge amount of difference between the two Moto G versions. The biggest improvement, no pun intended, was the increase in screen size. A chalk and cheese development – 5 inch screens aren’t for everyone – at a time when screens were continuously getting bigger, this did make the 2nd generation the most affordable 5 inch device on the market with this specification.

Another useful addition was the unexpected inclusion of dual SIM functionality for the UK market.

Those looking for 4G are catered for by the 4G version of the original 2013 G – this has the smaller screen but does also benefit from the SD card support. This model won’t be around forever however, so if you want a high quality budget 4G device then act quickly. If Motorola pull the Moto G 4G from their range you’ll have to look to other brands as the only LTE enabled Moto will be the X.

Moto X 1st Moto X 2nd
OS Android 4.3 (5.0 compatible) Android 4.4.4 (5.0 compatible)
Camera 10MP / 2MP front 13MP / 2MP front
Screen 4.7″ 720×1080 5.2″ 1080×1920
Processor 1.7GHz dual-core Snapdragon S4P 2.5GHz quad-core Snapdragon 801
Storage 16/32 GB 16/32 GB
Dimensions  129.3 x 65.3 x 10.4 mm  140.8 x 72.4 x 10 mm
Battery  2,200 mAh  2,300 mAh
Extras Quick charge, 4K recording

Unlike the Gs, there was quite a big bump in specs between the two Moto Xs, probably because there was also the largest amount of time between the two releases.

In terms of raw hardware everything from the processor to the screen got a boost befitting of a flagship upgrade. With the Moto X it’s not all about the hardware however.

The original X was the first phone to offer an ‘always-listening’ option, whereby many features of the handset could be operated by voice commands alone. These features came apart in conjunction with Motorola’s ownership by Google, allowing them to add serious value to the Android OS, without creating an intrusive skin or alienating those looking for a simple smartphone.

Moto-G-2nd-Gen-Clove-Review-2

The second generation Moto X has continued along this path. At a glance you have a powerful and capable Android smartphone with very little customisation. Scratch the surface however and there are a number of added features which can drastically improve productivity and usability.

As well as the ‘OK Google’ listening feature (which can be changed to a tagline of your choice), there are extra sensors for face tracking, a screen glancing feature for checking notifications with barely any battery drain and many more. Check out our very own Chris Spackman’s full review of the Moto X 2nd Generation for more details – from the brain of a man who uses one every day!

So which should I pick?

As with every buying decision, the choice ultimately rests with what you need. Both the new Moto G and X are aiming at a particular type of user and tailor to them extremely well.

The Moto G is earmarked for someone who is aware of smartphones and wants to have access to modern technology without breaking the bank. The 5 inch 720p screen offers comfortable viewing of most media, the camera provides decent results, and basic Internet and Bluetooth connectivity is covered.

Spending more money will undoubtedly get you higher specifications in any of the key areas, however this is the best all round device for under £150. Not only does it simply do everything most people need it to, it does it efficiently and looks half decent to boot.

moto-x-bamboo-maker-screengrab

The Moto X is a supercharged handset – a flagship phone with all the features and modern tech that justifies the higher price tags of today’s best mobiles. All the major manufacturers produce a smartphone of this caliber and whilst most people don’t tend to buy them outright, often getting a subsidised deal from a contract provider, the higher price tags can be broken down into tangible benefits.

With the Moto X 2nd gen you receive a phone with premium construction materials and finish as well as very close to the current bleeding edge specifications.

Motorola have been canny enough not to totally push the boat out in order to make some savings though. By not including a QHD resolution screen or a new Snapdragon 805 processor, some savings are passed to you without really compromising on ability. Motorola’s suite of added features also stacks up well against the competition.

The chances are if you’re looking at the £400 plus market you’re already weighing the Moto X up against other phones. Rightly so – there are pros and cons to every device. Part of the Moto X’s appeal though comes from using it, several of the additions that set it apart from the crowd are tied closely to the Android OS and their appeal is not so obvious until you have the phone in your hands for a few days.

BlackBerry Classic – navigation keys

We’re getting excited about the upcoming BlackBerry Classic here at Clove. At £339 first SIM free stock is expected in early January, although we’ve received a pre-production unit and will have a comprehensive hands-on and review for you very soon!

Until we’ve got this ready, we’ll be running through some of the features that BlackBerry are hoping will have people flocking to the Classic.

We’ve already covered the return of traditional BlackBerry user’s favourite trick – keyboard shortcuts – so on we move to the other half of this design story, the navigation bar.

blackberry-classic-navigation-bar

It seems like a very simple thing, although for traditional BlackBerry users, these physical buttons were an all-important part of what made a BlackBerry a BlackBerry.

Not only does the trackpad offer fine control for selecting from menus, it also becomes an excellent pointer and navigation aid when browsing. Now as we approach the end of 2014, many websites have been designed to be mobile friendly, however there are a great many that aren’t and the extra aid in scrolling and selection can be an absolute blessing.

The physical buttons are also a great way to navigate through the phone. All of BB10s touch gestures are included of course, so you can still swipe away to your heart’s content, however the presence of the solid clicky buttons gives you an added option to do what you need to quickly. Enough from me though, watch the official BlackBerry video below for a bit more info

Flexible phones in 2015? SmartKem certainly think so.

Consumer technology moves along at a rapid pace, one only superseded by the minds and companies behind the scenes, running the science and developing the products of the future. SmartKem, based in Manchester, are one such company.

Specialising in the manufacture and delivery of their own organic semiconductors (the sciencey bits that make e-ink and flexible displays work), SmartKem are one of a few companies well positioned enough to know what they’re talking about when it comes to the future of mobile displays.

SmartKEM-folding-phone-mockup

Speaking to Mobile Today, SmartKem’s head of strategic marketing Mike Cowin said: “There’s a new product on the market with a fixed curve but this is just the beginning. Then it will be a progression to bi-foldable and tri-foldable.” The fixed curve he mentions is clearly a reference to the Galaxy Note Edge, Samsung often one of the first major manufacturers to market with new technologies.

Flexible. Curvy. Mobile.

Mobile screen technology has developed massively in a few short years. The trend to higher resolutions has effectively ended at QHD (quad HD – 4 times 720p or 2560 x 1440).

There really is little point going higher at mobile screen sizes, although it’s almost guaranteed someone will try and squeeze a 4K screen at under 6 inches next year, even if it’s a lesser known manufacturer trying to grab headlines.

samsung-flexible

The next stage now that costs are falling, is to bring the curved and flexible technologies being shown off in huge panels at electronics expos over the last few years to phone sizes.

We’ve already seen demo screens like this, although actually getting one to sit on top of the phone tech, as a usable portable device, is clearly going to be the next big step.

If we are to believe Mr. Cowin, then we could be looking at such phones by this time next year, he states that SmartKem have been “in talks with the world’s biggest OEMs” and the “two most popular phone manufacturers in the world right now” so that their technology will be “available in late 2015″.

Reading between the lines we can probably expect the ‘two most popular manufacturers’ to be Apple and Samsung. The other big names such as Sony and LG are never really left lagging behind though, although if everyone will be using the exact same technologies remains to be seen.

Another fantastic line from Cowin is “You’ll be able to smash it with a hammer and it won’t break, it’s that flexible … there is a natural progression for a new type of form factor”. Looking at the foldable mockup image above certainly sets pulses racing! The hammer quote might be pushing things a little far by the time tech reaches consumer hands in an actual product, however it’s certainly a statement of intent manufacturers will be looking to.

It’s an exciting development to read this sort of information – it seems an age since flexible screens began appearing in the news and at expos, yet their journey to smartphones is taking some time. With these comments from SmartKem, maybe 2015 could be the start of an incredible new wave of devices.

U|Karbon Skins – Sony Xperia Z3

Recently we started working with U|Karbon, a UK based provider of custom skins for smartphones, tablets, laptops, games consoles and more.

The skins are manufactured from DI-NOC™, a tough, high-quality PVC film which is flexible, cleanable and uses an adhesive that ensures bubble free application every time.

The other great aspect is the raised 3D texturing which provides the look and feel of genuine carbon fibre, also removing them leaves no residue! At just 0.2 mm thick, U|Karbon skins add virtually no bulk whilst providing excellent scratch protection and a unique look.

Z3-ukarbon-red-black

More than one member of the Clove team now has a U|Karbon skin on their phone (Sony Xperia Z3 Compact and LG G3) and both are extremely happy with the results.

Carbon_Skin_15_Percent_Off

To order a skin in one of black, white or signature red, please use the following link: Sony Xperia Z3 U|Karbon.

You can also use the code ‘Clove15′ on their checkout for a 15% discount!

BlackBerry Classic – classic keyboard shortcuts

BlackBerry are going back to what they do best with the upcoming BlackBerry Classic. With a design reminiscent of the Bold and Curve devices that were once the epitome of smartphone chic, the Classic is a device that hopes to usher in somewhat of a renaissance to BlackBerry fortunes.

Priced at £339, we are currently taking pre-orders with first stock expected in early January.

PRE-ORDER the SIM FREE BlackBerry Classic from Clove today

BlackBerry-Classic-Black-Front-2

The Classic will of course run BlackBerry’s newest software, BB 10.3, with all the added features this includes. BlackBerry Blend for one is an absolutely brilliant addition for remote access to your emails, texts and BBMs from a PC anywhere in the world and is something we’ll look at more closely in an upcoming post.

What will be getting many longstanding BlackBerry fans (and many of those who may have turned their back on the platform in recent years) excited is the return of the iconic BlackBerry keyboard and navigation layout.

After the consumer market embraced the move to all-touch, physical input quickly lost popularity; Android sliders with keyboards also hung around for a few years but they have long been unavailable from mainstream manufacturers.

There are those however that still believe a keyboard and trackpad is the best for productivity and efficient communication – the Classic is aiming itself squarely at those customers.

As a nod to to previous users and a treat for newcomers, traditional BlackBerry keyboard shortcuts will be available! You will also be able to create your own shortcuts for launching apps or quick dialling. The video below is an introduction – whether the full suite of messaging, typing and navigation shortcuts seen on traditional BlackBerrys will return remains to be seen

User-Manual-Pop-Up