Smartphones - News & Reviews

Below you can find news and reviews about the SIM free smartphones that we range on the Clove website.

Smartphones look similar for a reason

It is quite clear whether you have a passion for mobile technology or not that the market is awash with many different phones that all look very similar and do very similar things, with only marginal differences between them.

If you have ever thought choosing a new phone is more difficult than ever, then you would be right because it is.  The great advantage is that you and I have more choice than ever before but that could be argued as a negative.

However one topic surrounding the vast array of phones on the market today that keeps being raised is around design.

Many seem to complain about phones looking too similar, not being innovative enough and looking unattractive.

Yet when something very different and innovative comes along like the YotaPhone 2, it gets criticised  by many for being unnecessary or a gimmick when in fact as a smartphone it is not all that bad.

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The blurred line between mobile phone, feature phones & smartphones

featurephonesCan you tell me the difference between a mobile phone, feature phone or smartphone?

The Oxford English Dictionary defines each as:

Mobile Phone - A portable telephone.

Feature phoneAny of various telephones enhanced with computer technology; (later chiefly) spec. a mobile phone incorporating features such as Internet access and music playback, but lacking advanced functionality such as the ability to run general-purpose computer applications; 

Smartphone - Any of various telephones enhanced with computer technology. Later chiefly: spec. a mobile phone capable of running general-purpose computer applications, now typically with a touch-screen interface and Internet access.

If you read the above, it will be clear to see how there is not a great deal of difference in the definition between a feature and smartphone.

This is what has been occurring in the mobile space for some time.  Many of us now own a smartphone often because the prices of smartphones not to mention the capabilities make it the better option to go for.

I encounter people looking for a basic mobile, through to a smartphone, but modern terminology has confused those who are less interested or technically aware.  It is not uncommon to find someone who needs a basic mobile phone and what in my mind is not even a feature phone.  On the other hand I get people who say they want a smartphone when really a feature phone would suit them better.

But what do we refer to is as? Is it our mobile phone or our smartphone?

Few would refer to a a feature phone, but many still own a feature phone.

I have come across a bit of snobbery in my time, those who do not have a mobile phone they have a smartphone.

Ultimately the term is interchangeable as a smartphone is still a portable telephone and the vast majority of new mobile phones are smartphones. I refer to each model as a smartphone but when asking someone what device they use, I would ask what phone do they have.

What name do you tend to use or is it a combination?

What devices do we use at Clove? – February 2014

We have the pick of the bunch with phones here at Clove. We see the good the bad and the ugly when it comes to smartphones, so you may be interested to know which handsets we use and why.

So in no particular order, here is a list of what some of us currently use and why in each users own words..

Josh – Sony Xperia Z Ultra (Hutchinson 3 Contract Offer)

Sony_Xperia_Z_Ultra-17_thumb.jpgUntil recently I had been using Nexus devices (4 & 5) for some time and enjoyed the customisability of the OS. Seeing a number of phones come and go in the office though, I had been drawn to the build quality of the Sony Z range, a stark contrast to the somewhat rushed construction of the Nexus handsets.

With the end of a contract looming, I checked operators for the best deal on Sony devices. 3’s One Plan (true unlimited data / tethering) was perfect for me and the recent Sony handsets were available at the usual monthly subsidy on top of contract charges. Doing the maths I wasn’t being swindled so I went for a contracted handset over a full price SIM free device / SIM only contract combination.

It was a toss up between the Z1 & the Z Ultra. I chose the larger handset as a) I am not particularly interested in taking pictures and b) I test a fair number of mobile games and use my phone to read a lot of news articles and web videos, making the huge screen all the more important to me. Pulling content off the home media server over DLNA is also fairly simple.

Screen size, quality & resolution are undoubtedly the best bits of the Z Ultra, although if you use your phone outside a lot (which I don’t) the screen glare is pretty unbearable. I also find Sony’s Android customisation to be the least intrusive of the major manufacturers and my perception of their attitude towards consumers to be better.

The size is undoubtedly a turn off for many in terms of portability, although the Z Ultra isn’t actually that weighty in the hand. I’m used to wearing baggy jeans & jackets with big pockets so carrying such a large handset doesn’t bother me, however it’s something to take into consideration.

The screen takes its toll on the battery too. Sony include a relatively big cell and STAMINA mode is great at extending the life during the day, but the level ticks down almost visibly with that massive screen on. I have found the (quite expensive) CP -12 extended battery case and stylus to be a practical necessity if I’m away from power for an extended time, although this does add considerable bulk to an already large phone.

The Z Ultra is the very definition of a niche device. It does exactly what it sets out to do and, for me, I couldn’t really want it to do more.

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Clove’s top 10 smartphones of December 2013

It is the season to be jolly and many will be feeling such when the likely open the box of one or more of the following devices this festive season.

The competition is getting tougher and tougher not only through specs but prices too.

Motorola have smashed the chart this month with one particular device, but others from LG and Sony still remain fairly strong.

As we have said before and will say again, a top 10 list is influenced by many factions.  What ranks at number 1 for us may well be someone else’s number 10.

The following is our top 10 for December 2013 based on demand, feedback and our own personal hands on time.

10. Nokia Lumia 1520

It arrived only a matter or days ago and opinions are still few and far between, but the 1520 deserves a spot in the top 10 as it appeals to a small but select number of users who desire Note or Z Ultra style devices but on the increasingly popular Windows platform.

It feels remarkably good in hand considering it size and with a 20 megapixel camera its not short of power.

Wireless charging is available out of the box and the simple office integration makes it great for many business users.

Buy Nokia Lumia 1520 HERE.

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Clove’s top 10 smartphones of November 2013

There have been few new phones come to market in the last month, but what has happened is the market has settled and now we are getting reviewers and user feedback on these handsets, giving a better reflection of how good the phones really are.

As we have said before and will say again, a top 10 list is influenced by many factions.  What ranks at number 1 for us may well be someone else’s number 10.

The following is our top 10 for November 2013 based on demand, feedback and our own personal hands on time.

10. Nokia Lumia 625
Nokia_Lumia_625_-Black_Front_FacingBig screen performances on a small screen budget best sums up the 625.  Prices at around £250 inclusive of VAT, there is a great deal of value to be had from this device.  A 4.7” screen is great for movie playback and web browsing, whilst a strong chassis and reasonable camera make this a bit more of an all round performer.

With Nokia build quality you can be assured of excellent audio and call quality.

Buy Nokia Lumia 625 HERE.

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Smartphones & Tablets In Meetings – Clove Vlog #65

NotebookIn our 65th vlog, I ask whether you use your smartphone, tablet or laptop as a way of taking notes in a meeting?

Even working within the smartphone industry, I am afraid to say that I and the vast majority of those I meet still use good old fashioned pen and paper.

That is not to say things are not improving, but as yet even the Galaxy Note series does not seem to outdo the simple paper based solution for quick note taking.

Much of this comes down to speed and ease of use; the electronic solutions just don’t have it yet.

Am I wrong though and are many people are using them in ways that I am not?

Image Source: Freedigitalphotos

Clove’s top 10 smartphones of October 2013

The top 10 smartphones for September 2013 received quite some interest, so now we follow up with our top 10 for October.

As we have said before and will say again, a top 10 list is influenced by many factions.  What ranks at number 1 for us may well be someone else’s number 10.

The following is our top 10 for October 2013 based on demand, interest, sales & product specifications.

10. HTC One Mini

As the name implies it is smaller than it’s big brother, the HTC One but it need not mean it lacks on features.

We like this handset a great deal but it has somewhat been lost amongst all the HTC One talk.

Whilst it has not received the same media attention, because if you want something more pocket friendly with decent performance then the One Mini is a superb option. 

For the music lovers who hold impromptu concerts from their phone then the One Mini packs the punch your party needs thanks to dual front speakers and HTC BoomSound technology.

Buy HTC One Mini HERE.

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