Samsung Galaxy Note 8 Review

After an unfortunate and unceremonious exit with the Note 7 last year, Samsung is back in full force this year with the Note 8, and it's easily the best Note device to date.

If you read the reviews last year, you'd find reviewers calling the Note 7 almost perfect. How do you improve on something that's almost perfect?

Well, Samsung's response to that was the introduce the Infinity Display in the S8 and S8+, and now to bring that same, amazing display to the Note 8.

Google Inc. Is Now a Subsidiary of Alphabet Inc.

Google Inc. is now a subsidiary of Alphabet Inc. Say what? Well, until today we've always known Google as a single massive tech company that began delving more and more into new projects and ambitions. With that process, over the years Google has acquired many companies. Some of these companies were acquired because Google believed that the businesses themselves would be profitable and beneficial, such as Nest, others Google acquired to integrate them into other Google properties, and others still Google acquired for their potential benefit to the world at large.

Today, Google has announced a number of massive changes to the company structure. The largest change is that there is now a new Parent Company called Alphabet Inc. Formerly, Larry Page and Sergey Brin were CEO and President of Google respectively. Now, they are CEO and President of Alphabet Inc. respectively. Sundar Pichai is the new CEO of Google.

Beyond that, several projects/teams that were part of Google are now being separated from Google and being treated as standalone businesses under Alphabet Inc., such as Google Auto, Calico, Google Ventures, Google Capital, Nest, and more.

Ultimately, if this makes Alphabet look like a big collection of companies, that's because it is. The idea here is that investors have been worried about Google's "moonshots", so with this new structure, it allows investors to rest easy in the core Google business, and the other projects/companies can receive funding without having to justify themselves as being "google products", thus adding a lot more flexibility.

As for why the name "Alphabet" here's what Larry Page said: "We liked the name Alphabet because it means a collection of letters that represent language, one of humanity’s most important innovations, and is the core of how we index with Google search! We also like that it means alpha‑bet (Alpha is investment return above benchmark), which we strive for!"

To read the whole post that Larry Page wrote about the new changes check out Alphabet's wesbite at

Overall, this is a big change for the company, and I kind of wonder what direction this will go in eventually. What comes to mind for me is Samsung Corp. Samsung is also a giant collection of companies, but doing so has actually created some problems for the company. The most recent example being their disconnect between the mobility division and the division that develops the mobile processors. It'll be interesting to see what the future holds for Google and Alphabet.

What do you think of this massive change? Do you like the name Alphabet? Let me know on the comments below!

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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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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.

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.

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.


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).


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.



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.

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).

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 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](](
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.



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.


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.

Battle of the Mobile Web Browsers

We’ve been here before. The Web Browser War continues to rage on endlessly across all platforms. But while it is all too common to hear about comparisons of what browser is the current king on the desktop (Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Internet Explorer, Opera, Safari), we don’t nearly as often hear about browsers on mobile devices. Let’s be honest, if the browser that came with your phone isn’t one of the 5 below, it probably sucks (lookin’ at you Samsung), so it’s best to get a replacement browser that is faster, does more (or less), and is better in general.

Today, we’re going to do just that. We’re going to have a look at the top browsers currently available on Android: Google Chrome, Dolphin Browser, Mozilla Firefox, Opera, and Javelin Browser.

We’ll be looking at a few aspects. User Interface/Experience, Performance, Features, and Compatibility.

Note: Performance measurements are unscientific, and are more "real-world" evaluations.

*Note 2: Compatibility measures browser compatibility with technologies on the web which is important to ensure that everything will work in the browser as expected. *

Google Chrome


We all know about Chrome. Google has put a lot of time and effort to create a web browser that is updated nearly at the same pace as their desktop counterpart. The two best parts about Google Chrome are that since it’s such an important and mature browser, it’ll work with just about everything, and also if you have a google account, you can synchronize your settings, passwords and bookmarks. Let’s not forget about the speed.

User Interface/Experience – **8/10 **– As expected of a mature browser, the scrolling is smooth and lag free even on content heavy sites. Chrome has come a long way to making sure of this. Pages render correctly, animations play seamlessly, and HTML5 works as well as it should. Links to YouTube videos are finally sent directly to the YouTube app if you have it installed. Google has added plenty of subtle animations in their browser to make the usage a little more pleasing. Things like the transition between tabs, opening the menu, gestures, and more are all done in a natural and smooth manner. I do find that the lack of full screen support (though the top bar does go away when scrolling down) is a little disappointing.

Performance – 10/10 – Most pages load incredibly quickly. Speed is absolutely spot on here. There are some occasions where certain Social buttons will take a moment to load or will snap into place, but this may be the website’s fault.

**Features **– 6/10 –** **Chrome is a relatively straightforward browser. It doesn’t add too many bells and whistles in terms of extras that stand out. It does however include a few notable features. The ability to swipe between tabs by swiping the top bar is convenient. A feature for data compression is very helpful as well. Synchronization with your Google account is an absolutely delightful feature. And an Incognito mode for Private Browsing is a welcome addition as well.

Compatibility – 21/26 – Interestingly enough, Chrome was one of the 3 lower ranking (in this comparison) options when it comes to compatibility with tests. The main problems found had to do with Audio, SVG animations, Mutation, HTTPS, and IRI + IDN.

Overall – 45/56 – 80%



Dolphin Browser


Dolphin Browser is one of the champions of Android Browsers. It came along a long time ago when chrome was still struggling to deliver consistent performance and had tons of bugs. It also promised super fast performance and excellent time-saving features. Since then, Dolphin has evolved to stay ahead and in the game by redesigning the UI 3 times, continually improving performance, and adding new features such as a robust gesture support, themeing engine, and extensions ability.

User Interface/Experience – 7/10 – Dolphin features an interface with tabs at the top with the search bar directly beneath it, and a constantly present menu at the bottom. You can also swipe from the sides to reveal the bookmarks bar, and the Control Panel. It also has a new tab page that you can customize with desired webapps or favorite websites. While Dolphin tries really hard to make the app as minimal as possible, I still feel that it clutters itself with all of its features. Also, less screen real-estate is a definite negative.

Performance – 8/10 – Dolphin feels very snappy. Pages load quickly and everything feels fast. The only problem here is with scrolling. While it is smooth and lag-free, I’ve noticed that when scrolling quickly, the canvas doesn’t seem to be able to keep up with the fast scrolling, thus letting you see giant areas of white space until the canvas catches up.

Features – 9/10 – Dolphin has a comprehensive Gesture system that you can customize to do just about anything in the browser. If you like gestures, this thing is king. If you don’t like the standard white and green colors of Dolphin, fret not, because with Dolphin you can download themes which skin the entire browser. Add-ons are also a great feature that let you add new features created by 3rd party developers.

Compatibility – 23/26 – Dolphin essentially experienced similar problems as Chrome, but did not have an issue with SVG animations or HTTPS.

Overall – 47/56 – 84%



Mozilla Firefox


Mozilla Firefox is a well known browser in the desktop space, with a massive following. On mobile, Firefox has struggled for a long time in the performance department and also the User Interface which has often been very cluttered and lacking in screen real-estate. Well, times have changed and Firefox is doing extremely well. Let’s see how well they’re doing.

User Interface/Experience – 10/10 – Firefox has a sleek new interface with beautiful animations. Tap the tabs button and the search bar swoops down revealing the tabs currently open and access to your bookmarks. Firefox also has a menu extremely similar to Chrome’s, but more condensed and even better looking. Aesthetically, Firefox, in my opinion, easily bests Chrome and Dolphin.

Performance – 6/10 – Firefox begins to show some places where it suffers here. The app itself is extremely responsive and fluid, but when it comes to page loading, things get a little iffy. There’s stuttering when scrolling, it’s clear that the canvas can’t keep up with loading tiles as you scroll so you again see a lot of white space, and scrolling seems to be severely limited in speed. Sometimes it even takes a little bit for Firefox to register my touch in a swipe. It’s acceptable performance, but it just doesn’t compare to the competition.

Features – 4/10 – Firefox is also a pretty straightforward browser. No big bells and whistles here. Essentially the same featureset as Chrome.

Compatibility – 24/26 – Firefox performs the best when it comes to supporting the different web technologies. Only some issues with SVG animations and IRI + IDN support.

Overall – 44/56 – 79%



Opera Browser for Android


Opera is another oldie in the browser game. Opera underwent a massive change a couple of years ago and has since become a surprisingly impressive experience. Opera was the pioneer of the “Speed Dial” new tab function that virtually every browser now employs. It’s good to see it alive and well here. Let’s see what else has changed.

User Interface/Experience – 6/10 – Opera uses a unique interface that has elements that feel more like the new iOS multitasking from iOS 7 for tab management, mixed with a slightly outdated looking search bar. If you’re a former iOS user, Opera may actually feel quite good to you. There’s nothing particularly wrong with the app; it just feels a little dated.

Performance – 10/10 – Opera is fast. Very fast. While I do recognize the occasional stutter, I never see any canvas loading issues and white space, and pages pop up incredibly fast. Hard to determine if this or Chrome is faster.

Features – 7/10 – Opera has a hallmark feature known as Off-Road mode (Chrome has something similar). Off-Road mode is a feature you can toggle on and off right in the menu button, that will run the pages through Opera’s servers before coming to you, in order to compress the pages and save you data, and potentially increase page loading speed. This feature is extremely handy if you have a small data cap, or are in an area with bad service and slow speeds. Opera also sports a Discover page which is basically just a mini news aggregation page. Speed Dial is here and it works like a charm.

Compatibility – 23/26 – Opera performed identically to Dolphin.

Overall – 46/56 – 82%



Javelin Browser


Javelin Browser is the new kid on the block, and it’s here to potentially change the way we browse. With it’s brilliant “Link Bubble”-inspired Stack feature and a fresh modern flat design, and full screen (KitKat and above) ability, it’s truly a new take on the browser, while retaining the simplicity of browsing. Did I mention it has a built-in Reading Mode that is awesome?

User Interface/Experience – 10/10 – Javelin uses a modern flat design, with sliding menus on the left and right for a side bar and options menu. The top search bar and it’s tabs are similar to what you’d see in a desktop browser, but with the new bright and flat design.

Performance – 8/10 – Javelin is fast, but does exhibit some canvas loading issues. During scrolling, you’ll see the white spaces, an occasional stutter, and presumably to make itself faster, text blurring (which means it hasn’t loaded yet). Besides that, the app itself is lightning fast and fluid, and it has no problem loading elements relatively quickly.

Features – 10/10 – Javelin succeeds where Dolphin did not. It adds a ton of features that are truly useful and incredible, without making the app feel cluttered or bloated. Quite the contrary, this is the least cluttered app of the entire comparison as it maintains a minimal design language. The most exciting feature is the Stack. Let’s say you’re browsing Twitter and you find a link to an article you’d like to read. Normally you would click it, and it would take you to your browser, where you would wait until it loads, you’d read it, and you’d have to exit the app to return to Twitter to continue browsing. Not with Javelin. If you use Facebook Messenger, think about ChatHeads (the floating bubble). When you use Javelin, you tap on the link and a bubble pops up on top of your Twitter feed and it animates to signal that it’s loading. When it’s done animating, you can tap it and hovering above your feed is the entire article (which you can activate Reading Mode to reduce the entire thing into pure text). When you’re done, hit the back button and the bubble goes away and you’re still in your Twitter feed. True multitasking. I mentioned Reading Mode, which is awesome. It also has several powerful security features such as blocking location detection, VPN, a built-in Ad-Blocker, and opt-out of Analytics. This is an incredible browser that you should definitely try, at least because of Stack.

Compatibility – 23/26 – For a new browser, Javelin performs admirable and on par with the rest of the browsers in this comparison (even above Chrome), making sure to support most of the web standards and technologies.

Overall – 51/56 – 91%


And the Winner Is: Javelin Browser! javelin

But wait…

OK, I have to clarify something here. Browsers will forever be a matter of personal preference, so take the above “Winner” with a grain of salt. While I sincerely hope that you enjoy Javelin as much as I do, the other browsers are incredibly well built and will serve you extremely well as well. I’ve long been a Chrome user, and before that a dedicated Dolphin user, and only recently have I switched to Javelin. Things change. That’s why articles like these pop up all the time. The three I just mentioned, are my favorites, and you should definitely try at least these three out.

So what Mobile Browser do YOU use? Do you use one I didn’t mention? Let me know in the comments below!