iphone

Tip of the Day: Keep your contacts safe with Google Contacts

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Who doesn’t want to keep their contacts safe? Ever gone through the terrifying experience of losing your phone or having it break only to realize you don’t have your contacts backed up?

Well, with Google Contacts you’re covered. Android users already have this feature built-in by default, but iPhone users can simply add their GMail accounts to their devices and switch the default contacts location to that, and they’ll be set. All your contacts will be synced to Google and accessible at any time at contacts.google.com.

Check it out! It’s great!

DBrand Phone Skins Review

Have you ever wished that the looks of your physical device (phone) was different, or that it should feel different? Naturally, the common solution to that wish is to put a case on your phone.

But if you’re like me, you don’t like cases. For whatever reason, I don’t like the unnecessary added bulk, don’t need the protection (I’m careful), and half the time it takes away from the look of the phone.

Enter DBrand Skins. These vinyl skins allow you to change the look of your device by applying a skin onto your phone. (Not just my Nexus, but a multitude of phones are supported).

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These skins are thin, high quality, protective to a degree, and look & feel damn good.

I got one for my Nexus 6 because I felt that the back of it was a little bland and too slippery (total grease & fingerprint magnet).
My skin was the Black Carbon Fiber skin and it looks & feels awesome!

It’s really easy to install, has room for correcting while applying so you can do it properly, and the fit is perfect. The precision on these things is absolutely impressive.

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They’ve got over 9000 combinations since you can mix and match skins. Like you could have a Black Carbon Fiber back, and Mahogany Wood Skin on the side of your iPhone. Luxurious combo I might add. It’s also not that expensive. Each piece costs $9 so a full front, sides, and back set would run you $27+shipping. Not bad at all considering many good cases out there cost the same if not way more sometimes.


So, if you’re looking to change the look and feel of your device, while keeping it thin and light, look no further beyond DBrand Skins.

Google Nexus 6 Review

It’s that time of year again, when Google releases a new Nexus device! This time, manufactured by Motorola, the Nexus 6 is fundamentally changing the game compared to previous Nexus devices. In the past, Nexus devices have always had the benefit of having near top-end specs, decent build quality, the latest pure stock android, and a low price to match.

Not this time. Now Google has made the Nexus 6 have truly top-end specs, high end build quality, still the latest pure stock android, but a higher pricetag to match the high end product that has come out of this. At $649 off-contract, does the Nexus 6 live up to its name and the Nexus brand? And how does it fare against its fierce competition like the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 and the iPhone 6 Plus?

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Design

I’m sure you’re wondering why the Nexus 6’s competition is the Note 4 and iPhone 6 Plus. Well, the reason for that is because it’s a big phone. I mean REALLY big. The Nexus 6 features a massive 5.96 inch Super AMOLED display, making it bigger than the Note 4 and in physical size as tall but wider than the iPhone 6 Plus. Don’t be dismayed by its size though, as the way this phone was designed makes it more manageable than you might think.



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The Nexus 6 has a sloping back made of plastic, but feels good (maybe not Nexus 5 good, but still). The slopes curve onto the edges where you’re presented with an extremely thin and satisfyingly premium aluminum bezel. And this is the trick right here. The other two mentioned devices are flat on the back, but with the curves on this device, it feels more comfortable in the hands despite being bigger. It fits better to the contours of the hand and since the edges are so thin, any part of your fingers can grip it easily.

If you’ve ever seen a Motorola Moto X (2014), then you’ll recognize the design instantly because it’s basically a blown up version of it. The glass on the front has curved edges (also known as 2.5D glass) which allow your fingers to slide off the sides naturally. This is particularly useful because of how the new Android Lollipop interface is designed.


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Finally, it also has two front facing stereo speakers that are subtle but stick out a little. Some think of this as a downside because it can’t make the phone stay flat on a surface, but I see that as a good thing because the glass won’t touch a table, thereby preventing scratches. The same kind of thing has been taken into account for the camera. The rounded flash module that wraps around the camera is slightly protruding (nothing like the iPhone 6, but more just like a smooth round bump), notable to protect the glass camera lens (the opposite of what the iPhone does) which is really nice on Motorola’s part.

I find that this is easily one of the best designed phones of the year, because of it’s ergonomic nature. Aesthetically it’s really nice and definitely looks and feels premium, but i’d say the Note 4 and iPhone 6 Plus still look more premium.

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I’ll be honest. If you have tiny hands, you will not under any circumstances be able to use this phone with one hand, but some people with larger hands can (I can).

nexus-6-tear-down_1-686x380Hardware/Performance

Google held nothing back with the specs on this Nexus. It sports a quad-core Snapdragon 805 Processor with a clock speed of 2.7GHz, 3GB of RAM, a 13MP camera with OIS (Optical Image Stabilization), dual front facing speakers, Turbo Charging with an included 9V Turbo Charger, a 5.96 inch QHD (2560×1440) Super AMOLED display, 32GB or 64GB of Storage, Qi Wireless Charging, Bluetooth 4.1 LE, a massive 3220 mAh Battery, and even a level of water resistance (Splash resistant according to Motorola).

As a result you get nothing but pure, unadulterated, raw performance. Everything on this device just flies effortlessly. The new animations in Android Lollipop help this in a visual sense as all the transitions are smooth and everything feels like one flowing, consistent experience.

Benchmark scores these days are a little pointless since they don’t really demonstrate real-world performance, but suffice it to say that the Nexus 6 beats just about everything out there except on some occasions where sometimes the Note 4 or iPhone 6 Plus (web benchmarks) wins. I will also note that a significant portion of this performance loss (as if it’s losing right?) is due to the forced software encryption built into Android Lollipop. Benchmarks ran without the encryption show the Nexus 6 handily beating the competitors. More on this later.

This is also a good time to mention that I personally believe that we’re starting to hit a point where no matter which high end device you buy, you can rest assured that you’re going to have an excellent experience in the performance department. As a result, priorities in deciding which device to buy should lie elsewhere.

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](http://www.stefankamer.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/Android-5.0-Lollipop-lockscreen-homescreen.jpg)Software

Ah, software. The crown jewel of owning a Nexus device is the ability to have stock android, the way Google intended it. No skins layered on the system, no gimmicky features, no bloat, no nothing. The result of having stock android is having the smoothest android experience imaginable. This experience is only highly improved upon by the all new Android 5.0 Lollipop that first launched with the Nexus 6. m1oeovart3m1qhrwxib0

Android Lollipop brings with it countless improvements. So many that it is easily marked as the largest update to Android in its entire history so far.

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Some of the major changes include the new fluid animations that are absolutely everywhere you look in the system. There’s so many of them that I’ve had the device for 2 weeks now and still get surprised by new stuff I find. Lollipop also has a new notifications update. With the ability to see and deal with notifications on the lockscreen, notifications were already awesome on android, but are now infinitely better. The notification shade also has the quick settings in a single pane rather than two separate panes. Priority mode allows you to get a much more powerful version of the “Do Not Disturb” feature of iOS, Multiuser access allows you to have multiple accounts (all password protected) on a single device, App Pinning allows you to keep nosy friends from moving around in your phone when you let them use a specific app, and Chrome Tabs now act as separate apps in your Multitasking (now called Overview) menu (this is optional though).

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Lollipop is truly a sight to behold and a welcome change and direction for Android. As always, whenever one of these major updates comes to Android, the devices feel fresh, new, and rejuvenated. It’s more true than ever now with Android 5.0 Lollipop.

nexus-6-back-camera-1500x1000Camera

Nexus devices are historically known to have the camera as a severe achilles’ heel. So you’d expect the same here, right? Well, no longer, says Google. I can happily report that the camera of the Nexus 6 is fantastic. I’ll admit it right now though, it’s not as good as the cameras on the iPhone 6/6 Plus, Galaxy Note 4, and Sony Xperia Z3, but it is right up there with them. The 13 megapixel camera can shoot 4K video and take very sharp and detailed photos. Colors seem to be very realistic most of the time. It does struggle in low light conditions, and the special flash built into the device, while better than typical flashes is still only ok in terms of helping the situation. I’ve taken several shots with the camera and am not disappointed at all.

[![Untouched shot of Grand Central Station (Somewhat lowlight) CLICK TO ENLARGE](http://www.stefankamer.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/IMG_20141122_062622-1024x760.jpg)](http://www.stefankamer.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/IMG_20141122_062622.jpg)
Untouched shot of Grand Central Station (Somewhat lowlight) CLICK TO ENLARGE

I’ll also mention though, that Android Lollipop brings the ability for the camera to take RAW files. This sets up the potential for higher quality images greatly, most importantly if you’re going to be editing those pictures in any kind of way. RAW files contain vastly more information about the image than a regular JPG, and as a result can make images much better exposed, and flexible for editing without ruining the shot. There are already apps in the Play Store starting to take advantage of this. Results are VERY positive.

Battery Life

Ok so this phone has a massive 3220 mAh battery, so it should have an awesome battery life right? Sort of. You’ll also remember that this phone has a massive screen pushing nearly 4 million pixels at any given time. Further, measuring battery life is a highly subjective concept. How I use the phone, may not reflect how you will use the phone. Suffice it to say that while the phone doesn’t have some kind of glorious battery life, I find myself never rushing or looking for a charger. Ever. I will leave my apartment in the morning around 10AM and get back home at about 11PM and still have about 10-15% battery life. In this time I’m usually having about 3-4 hours of Screen-On-Time. My usage includes web browsing, youtube videos, lots of music streaming, lots of RSS news reading, phone calls, lots of texting, and lots of Facebooking/Instagramming. That being said, I’ve heard of others getting vastly better battery life, and others still getting a little less desirable results. To remedy this in a massive way, Google/Motorola have included a 9V Turbo Charger with the phone. Basically, what this will do is take your phone from 5% to about 20-25% battery life in 15 minutes. That is estimated to give you an extra 5-6 hours of battery life. This feature is tremendously useful. Oh, there’s also a Battery Saver Mode where the system turns off animations (sadly making everything pretty choppy), and reduces power usage so you can get a couple of more hours out of your last 10%.

All in all, I’m quite satisfied with the battery life of the Nexus 6, and have no complaints.

Side Note on the Software Encryption

So, I mentioned earlier that performance was impacted by the forced Software Encryption that Google has added to Android Lollipop. Basically, this means that your device is encrypted and extremely safe from hackers and the government (provided that you have a lock or code on the phone). For some reason, the encryption on the phone is being done by software rather than hardware, which is having a significant impact on the performance and battery life of the device. Let me be clear though. When I say affecting performance and battery life, I’m not saying that they’re bad. They’re actually awesome even with the impact. What I’m saying is that the device can potentially go much higher and better without the encryption. This has been tested and proven to be true by the Android modding community. It’s an involved process to decrypt the system and reap the benefits, but if you’re a techy like me, you might want to look into it. I personally don’t want to sacrifice performance and battery life for security. Not yet at least.

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nexus-6Verdict

All in all, the Nexus 6 is a fantastic device. Amazing performance, excellent camera, gorgeous display, awesome front-facing speakers, and Android Lollipop make this easily one of the best buys currently available. However, the decision between this device and the Galaxy Note 4 is tough. The Note 4 will give you better battery life, the S Pen, an even better display, and a better camera, but will give you Samsung’s Touchwiz and the experience of having a skinned and bloated device. Off contract, at $649, the Nexus 6 will give you almost everything the Note 4 has, and better software for less money. On Contract, is the same story but affects your pockets less. The decision really lies with whether you prefer having stock android, front facing speakers, and a bigger screen or the aforementioned features. You decide. I know I did. And the Nexus 6 is my new Daily Driver.

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Let me know what you think about the Nexus 6 or Note 4 below 🙂

Smartphone Sales Records No Longer Impress Me

Apple just announced that they broke another sales record this year with over 10 million sales of the new iPhones over the past weekend. But does this actually matter anymore?

Smartphone sales records no longer impress me. The whole system is set up to break records every year by the biggest players: Apple and Samsung. Think about it. Why do they keep breaking the records every year, consistently? Could it be because they are making better phones every year? Sure, it’s true for both, but it’s only incremental if you really think about it.

But what are the real reasons? There’s the economical & business aspect, there’s the technology aspect, and then there’s the psychological aspect. The former is that the entire world’s economic state is continually improving. More people than ever before are capable of affording to buy these devices, and this goes up every year. Purchasing power is going up everywhere. Take Brazil for example. A study was just released showing that for the first time in history, Brazil is no longer among the countries that have over 5% of the population going hungry. This is indicative of food being readily available through higher purchasing power or government programs. Either way, more money is coming into the hands of the people, and what do they do with it? Buy more stuff.

The second reason is the people who already own the previous generations, now probably have to get a new phone because either:

  1. Their batteries suck (even though when they got it, it was great)
  2. They broke the glass
  3. It’s slow (and this works because most people don’t know that you can simply restore to factory settings)
  4. Their contract is up and they feel entitled to get something new to get their money’s worth

Finally, the psychological aspect. People like me are the reason this exists. Peer pressure. You see a bunch of your friends and family get the new device (probably because of the last two points), and they brag about it and show their enthusiasm, and you’re like “Oh…mine kinda sucks now”, and all of a sudden you’re inclined to upgrade as soon as possible to be able to get to their “level”. This is unfortunately a part of our consumer society mentality, and it sucks for people who can’t manage their finances right, but it also pushes technology further faster, because you don’t have as many people staying behind and settling with the old.

So no, sales records don’t impress me anymore, because as long as these two companies keep making roughly the same product, but slightly better, it will keep happening.

Here is the Apple Watch

Apple has just unveiled the Apple Watch. Everyone has been expecting and waiting for Apple to bring in the supposed “Killer Smartwatch”. Suffice it to say that this is not it. Featuring a design that mirrors the new iPhone 6, it has a lot going for it, but also misses the mark on important details, including price.

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Screen_Shot_2014-09-09_at_3.02.41_PMThe Design/Hardware

The Apple Watch features a design similar to the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus with rounded sides, rounded glass, a button on the right side, and a button/spinning knob on the right side as well.

You heard that right, a spinning knob (they’re calling it the Digital Crown). It’s supposed to have the feel of the classic watch knobs that you used to use to set the time.

The screen and body is rectangular, but we’re not sure exactly how big it is because you can’t distinguish where the bezels begin and end. This works in the device’s favor in terms of adding sleekness. The glass is made of sapphire crystal. The body of high quality and meticulously designed aluminums, gold, and rubbers.

The bands are all magnetic, and proprietary, so you can’t swap it out for a watch band that you have lying around. You’d have to get what Apple offers and that’s it.

It also comes with a heart rate monitor and a Taptic Engine which respectively delivers your biometric data and gives you vibrating notifications.

The device charges using a new custom magsafe cable that attaches to the back of the device. No word on battery life yet.

Options

There are three variants of the Apple Watch. Each of which comes in two different sizes, sort of mimicking the traditional men’s and women’s watch selection, though there’s no reason a woman wouldn’t be able to wear the larger variant.

– Apple Watch (Depicted above on the right)

– Apple Watch Edition (made from 18k Gold)

– Apple Watch Sport (Depicted above on the left)

You need an iPhone to use it

Sorry Android & Windows Phone users, no Apple Watch for you.

Software

The software is a little odd. Everything seems a little too small. It features a zoomable (use the Digital Crown) home screen where you can reach installed apps that are all circles.

Siri is built into the device as well as Maps, a dedicated Photos app, and more.

It also has a little drawing application that you can use to send little notes to people with Apple Watches.

Price

Considering the cost of other Smartwatches on the market range from $199-$249 (the latter end being the Moto 360 which is the best Android Wear device on the market currently), the Apple Watch is expensive.

The Apple Watch starts at $349.

Conclusion

Apple can do better. Since iOS users didn’t really have anything besides the Pebble, this is a welcome addition into the Apple ecosystem. Even still, having seen what Android Wear can do and how it does it, Apple should have done better. So now iOS users have a smartwatch. And they deserve better.

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Here’s the Apple Watch Commercial

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Q2gH1PGTrg

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