1. Golfdriver97's Avatar
    The holidays are right around the corner. The organized chaos of shopping for gifts will soon be on everyone's mind. "What should I get for this person?" is one of the hardest questions, especially if the recipient is hard to shop for. Cell carriers, and even retail stores are starting to show a trend of slashing prices to sell Smartphones and tablets around Christmas time.

    In 2013, Android Central Ambassadors VDub2174, and Eclipse2K originally thought of the idea, and the Android Central Ambassadors wrote up a collective guide on the devices we carry, and how we have them set up. This will not be much different. We are going to show you the same thing; what we have, how it's set up, what we like and dislike about the device. This brings a unique perspective about each of our devices, and another point of view on how each one has held up since we got it.

    Now, to get things started:
    11-09-2015 09:06 AM
  2. Golfdriver97's Avatar
    2015 LG Nexus 5X

    Spec refresher:
    -5.2" screen
    -1080 x 1920 resolution
    -SnapDragon 808
    -16/32 GB Internal 2GB RAM
    -2700 mAh Li-Po battery.

    2015 Holiday Smartphone Guide-screenshot-nov-30-2015-8-46-57-am-.jpg

    The Good:
    -It is fast. The snappiness of the touch response, the flow of everything from entering and exiting apps is amazing. I have also been off of Vanilla/AOSP since May, so this is a nice return.
    -The screen. It's quite nice. It can get pretty bright compared to some of my other devices. Whites are pretty close to pure white. It is an off-white, kind of like a warm red tint.
    -Rate of Charge. It's really quick. I can often get a decent top up in about 30 minutes.
    -Battery. My battery has finally settled in on 11-12. I can browse the forums, read several blog articles, play a few turn based games, which is the bulk of what I use my phone for. I can usually unplug around 10 am and be down to about 30% remaining about 12 hours later.

    The Neutral:
    -The Fingerprint sensor. I am not saying it's bad; it's actually my first one. It is nice to have to open your phone, but this isn't a make or break thing for me.
    -Button placement. The volume rockers on the opposite side would have been ideal for me, similar to the Nex5. But, they could have been worse.
    -USB-C. It's nice that this is going to the new standard. But with only a USB-C/USB-C cable, you would need to purchase a USB-C/USB-A cable separately* to use anything like an external battery or to do data transfers or root the 5X. Google has one for sale in the Play store, for about $15.

    The Bad:
    -I think I am going to say the physical size of the device. I would have been happy with an updated Nex5, but at the same time, this isn't really that bad. I like the device a lot, and this could be more considered a neutral point.



    HTC M8
    Note: My M8 is NOT stock. I am using SlimROMs SlimKat.

    Spec refresher:
    -5.0" screen
    -1080 x 1920 resolution
    -SnapDragon 801 CPU
    -Launched with 4.4 KK, update to 5.0 LP.
    -16/32 GB internal 2GB RAM
    -2600 mAh Li-Po battery (sealed)

    Screenshot:
    2015 Holiday Smartphone Guide-screenshot_2015-11-27-09-02-08.jpg

    The HTC M8 was my first HTC device. I got it when I changed to AT&T in April of 2014. It is now my official backup device.

    This is a Super LCD3 screen, measuring at 5". The overall dimensions are 146.4 x 70.6 x 9.4 mm. This is mainly due to the dual front speakers, which was in the prior M7.

    The Good:
    -The screen is quite nice. Whites are close to true white, and it can get pretty bright at the max setting.
    -The front speakers are nice to have, but since having gone back to devices that have rear speakers, I don't really miss them. I personally consider it a bonus.
    -The battery life is really good. The type of battery used lasted me easily a work day with my habits. I would consider myself a medium-light user though.

    The Neutral:
    -The power button placement. At the top is cumbersome, but there are ways around that with either apps, or in my case, I was able to add a screen off button in the Nav bar.

    The Bad:
    -The overall height of the device. Part of that is the speakers, and part is the black bar with HTC's logo in it. Not sure if that was absolutely needed, but it adds to the height. Some of this can be negated with a couple apps and changes.


    Upon request, I will provide information about my setup, including widgets, apps, etc.

    *The Huawei 6P came with both types of cables. I wish LG would have done the same, and even raised the price of the device by $15 or $20. I would have gladly paid it.
    davidnc likes this.
    11-09-2015 09:10 AM
  3. UJ95x's Avatar
    I'm going to be reviewing the Samsung Galaxy Note 4, which I've had for about 8 months now.

    Specs:

    - 5.7" Display
    - 2560x1440
    - Snapdragon 805
    - Released with 4.4.4, updates available to 5.1.1 (6.x expected)
    - 32 GB internal storage, external SD slot supporting up to 256GB
    - 3200 mAh battery (Removable, replaceable and with extended batteries available)

    Onto the review...

    Display: This phone's display is fantastic. It's extremely sharp and the size makes it pretty great for media consumption. It is also one of the most accurate displays on the market, meaning that the colors being are closer to what they actually are. I like being able to look at a picture and knowing that it is a good representation of what the scene or subject actually looks like. For those of you who prefer saturation and vibrant colors, this phone can do it too. Samsung has several display modes that you can swap between fairly easily, so you can enjoy whatever you're viewing regardless of what color gamut you prefer

    Camera: The Note 4 had one of, if not the best camera of 2014. It has a quick shutter so it handles motion pretty well, and it manages to hold up in low light. It's not quite as good as some of the newer phones (particularly the Samsung flagships of 2015), but it is still capable of producing high quality images in most scenarios and you won't be disappointed

    Battery: This is the thing that I love most about the phone. Battery is my #1 priority when looking for a new phone, and this phone meets and surpasses my needs. Even as a heavy user, I have only had my phone die on me once in the 8 months I've had it. I can easily get 6+ hours of screen on time over a full 24 hours off the charger (currently averaging exactly 6 hours SoT over about 29 hours total). On top of being an endurance beast, it is removable, meaning you can easily swap the battery (or even use an extended one if it somehow isn't enough for you) and it charges up extremely quickly (provided you use the included charger or your own QuickCharge 2.0 charger of course). All but the heaviest of users will easily get through a day with this.

    Software: A lot of people agree that Samsung makes some of the best hardware amongst Android OEMs, but are not big fans of TouchWiz (Samsung's Android skin). Now, I've always preferred stock Android to manufacturer skins (even though stock Android lacks a lot of simple features that have been in TouchWiz for years), but I didn't find too much to complain about on this version of TouchWiz. With Lollipop, the biggest visual difference in skins, is in the settings menu and dropdown shade. But the colors in more recent versions of Android aren't as bad as they used to be, and with launchers being available for all Android phones, the day to day experience isn't too different from what you'd get on a Nexus or LG phone and you get some extra features like battery percentage (which is only in Android M, and even then is limited to being inside the battery icon), multi-window, floating windows and all of the S-Pen features (drawing on the screen is really useful from time to time).

    General Performance: This is closely tied to the software that comes with the phone, but I thought it deserved its own category. For the most part, this phone runs very well. It's vastly improved over the TouchWiz of old and doesn't make this phone feel like it's running on mid-range specs. It does have a slight delay when hitting the recents button, and for some reason it's still really slow to open the stock gallery app from the camera app, but I haven't ever felt like this phone is laggy or "slow". It's definitely not as light or smooth as stock Android, but the performance is by no means bad either. At the time when I bought this phone, I thought the slight downgrade in software performance was worth the trade off to get a phone with the best battery life, display and camera available on an Android phone.

    Build quality: Not much to be said here, but I thought I'd throw it in just in case that was a concern for anybody looking to buy this phone. The build quality is pretty good. I've dropped my phone a few times and have only had small dents on the metal edge. The pleather battery door provides good grip and can also be easily replaced in case of any damage. Only complaint for this phone would be the gap where the display meets the edge of the phone. Occasionally get dust in there and I have to blow it out.

    Miscellaneous: One of the things I suspect people would still be interested in the Note 4 for would be the expandable storage and removable battery. The Note 5 did away with both, which upset a lot of power users that were looking to upgrade from older Note models. On the 4, you can use microSD cards up to 256 GB (though I'm not sure when one would need almost 300GB worth of data all at once) giving you tons of extra storage for media and that can come in handy if you're recording in 4K. On top of that, you can also buy spare batteries for quick replacements on the go, or simply buy larger third party batteries so you can use your phone to your heart's content without worrying about having to charge up.

    Closing thoughts: Overall, I would say this phone is still a good buy for those who want a great hardware experience but aren't happy with Samsung's decision to remove the expandable storage and removable battery. The battery life and display are very similar, you still get a great camera and you really only miss out on the new SPen and improved fingerprint sensor. At this point, you're probably also saving a few hundred dollars compared to buying a new Note 5.

    If you still want a good hardware experience but aren't a fan of TouchWiz, be sure to check out the reviews of the Nexus 6P in this thread as well.
    Golfdriver97 and davidnc like this.
    11-09-2015 08:17 PM
  4. dpham00's Avatar
    Sure, I think we can use it.
    Samsung Galaxy S6/Edge/Edge Plus and Note 5

    I have used the S6 Edge, S6 Edge Plus, and Note 5 as a daily driver, all on Verizon. Although I haven’t spent much time with the S6, my usage on the other variants should be similar enough at least for this review.

    Pros:
    -Great Camera
    -Premium Feel and Look
    -S-Pen (Note 5)
    -Fast Performance

    Cons:
    -Edge screen not very useful (S6 Edge/ S6 Edge Plus)
    -Not very comfortable to hold (S6 Edge/ S6 Edge Plus)
    -Lack of removable battery and MicroSD slot

    Hardware:
    Hardware wise, Samsung started improving the “premium” feel of their devices in the Note 4, and they really hit home with the S6/Edge/Edge Plus. This is due to the glass back and the rounded metal frame.
    They all feature a thin bezel, and in particular, the Note 5 feels very comfortable to hold due to the reverse curve of the glass back, which is a major plus, in comparison to other devices of similar screen size. However, the Edge doesn’t feel that comfortable in the hand, and the Edge Plus in particular, due to its size and Edge screen, makes it a bit unwieldy. A case does help to alleviate some of this.
    The S-Pen in particular is a nice addition on the Note series. I don’t use it all the time, but the scroll capture and smart select features do come in handy when I need it. And the screen off memo is nice when you are in a hurry and need to take a few notes quickly, without having to unlock the phone and open an app.

    Display and Edge screen:
    The display on the Note 5 and S6/Edge/Edge Plus are all top notch. They are the best displays that I have seen. As a tip, you can change the screen mode, if you wish to use a different setting.
    As for the Edge screen, on the S6 Edge, you get a People edge, which is a shortcut to a few contacts of your choosing. On the S6 Edge Plus, in addition to the People edge, you also get the Apps edge, which allows you to easily access a few apps of your choosing. BUT, you must use the People and Apps edge on the same side, and you can cycle between the two. There is also a night clock, and the Edge screen can also be used for notifications.
    Keep in mind that the Edge screen actually takes up a part of the main display. So any app that you use would be partially displayed on the Edge screen. Also, touching items on the screen right at the edge seem can be difficult at times.
    Overall, while I liked the look of the Edge screen, functionally speaking, I didn’t really see a big advantage. And you can use a Pie app to get similar access to apps.

    Camera:
    The Camera is all around excellent. You can double click the home button from any screen to turn on the camera. The time to shot is very good out of all the Androids that I have tried. The quality is good as well. If you want a camera that is simple to use and works well in auto mode, then the Note 5/S6/Edge/Edge Plus are an excellent choices.
    For manual mode, the G4 is arguably a better device, however, in low light and with motion, it seems to take a long time to take a shot.

    Performance:
    The Note 5 is a fast device and runs much more uniformly than the Note 4, which inexplicably had random hic-ups. For people who push their phones, like fast charging while using hotspot and using the phone at the same time, the S6 and Note 5 are very good choices. Other devices like the G4 or Turbo 2 would falter under extended heavy load, and get throttled much more heavily than the S6/Edge/Edge Plus and Note 5.
    The S6/Edge/Edge Plus and Note 5 has a tendency to kick background apps out of memory, when loading a new app. For apps that require a lot of loading time like Temple Run, then it would load much quicker than the competition initially. However, if you switch to another app and go back to it then chances are the system will have kicked Temple Run out of memory. Bottom line is that Samsung uses aggressive memory management. Other devices using closer to AOSP memory management will keep apps in memory much longer.

    Battery life:
    In my usage, the battery life on the S6 and S6 Edge are mediocre. The Note 5 and S6 Edge Plus have a slightly larger battery, but have substantially longer battery life. Keep in mind that everyone uses their phones differently, and I have seen people with good and bad battery life on just about every device. I am a very heavy user and no phone to date will last me a typical day.

    Software:
    Samsung pretty much skins the software to look very similar, year in and year out. Although this year, Touchwiz feels as a lighter skin than in previous years. There are nice additions like the reset button in the power menu, and toggles accessible with a single swipe of the notification bar (AOSP requires a swipe, and a tap). Samsung also added Wi-Fi network and Bluetooth device identification under the toggles, a nice addition from last year. Samsung also chose to do screen shots by pressing the power and home buttons simultaneously or with a palm swipe, something I much prefer over the AOSP power plus volume down button, which I have accidentally changed the sound profile numerous times on other devices. I have installed Nova launcher on most devices that I use, so the home screen looks the same no matter what device. Samsung allows you to install various themes, which lets you further customize your device.
    Those wishing to disable packages beyond what is allowed in the app manager can use Package Disabler in the Play Store to disable just about any package except Knox (unless you have the old version)
    For those that like to root, then Samsung is obKNOXious in that regard. The last phone I rooted was the Thunderbolt, so I don’t really see this affecting me though.

    Other considerations:
    Samsung chose to keep the heart rate monitor on these devices, something that other manufacturers left out. I personally use the hrm all the time and find it as a nice tool. Of course, there are smart watches with a hrm, if that works for you.
    The fingerprint scanner works really well and is fast though not as fast as later devices like the Nexus 6P.
    There is no microSD card slot and no removable battery. Although, the S6/Edge has the 128gb option which should be enough for most people. And there is a case with a battery and microsd slot built in for the S6, which should alleviate this issue.
    davidnc and Golfdriver97 like this.
    11-10-2015 03:22 PM
  5. B. Diddy's Avatar
    Rather than talk about a phone, I'd like to highlight my ASUS ZenWatch (1st generation), which I think would make a great gift for someone else or yourself. When I think of what makes a good gift, it ought to be something that you wouldn't normally buy for yourself because you don't "need" it, but still wouldn't mind having one out of interest (or pure lust). It also shouldn't break the bank (unless the giftee is really important to you). The ZenWatch (and the newer ZenWatch 2, which is very similar from a hardware and price standpoint) meets those criteria nicely. Instead of reviewing the ZenWatch outright (see Phil's actual review here and the ZenWatch 2 review here) or reviewing Android Wear itself, I'm just going to point out what I specifically like about this watch.

    2015 Holiday Smartphone Guide-img_20151017_135039.jpg 2015 Holiday Smartphone Guide-p_20151116_135724.jpg


    Build and Design


    I'm old school, so I actually want to wear a watch in order to see what time it is--I don't want to pull out my phone to check there. I also want that watch to look classy, and appropriate for work. There are many Android Wear watches that, in my opinion, are too thick or massive for the average wrist, and therefore don't look like a standard dress watch. The ZenWatch's overall dimensions are much closer to what I consider a conventional dress watch, and it's significantly thinner than other Android Wear watches (with the illusion of further slimness by the way the sides of the watch are designed). The rectangular shape of the watch and the square screen seem to turn some people off, but there are certainly many examples of rectangular dress watches, so this does not bother me at all. In addition, the fairly sizable bezels that tend to be the subject of criticism don't bother me either, because every real watch I've ever owned has a bezel. I actually find it unnatural for a watchface to extend to the very edge of a watch's body.

    The leather band that came with the watch is high quality (and genuine leather, not "bonded" leather or pleather). I'm partial to leather bands on watches, but I ultimately swapped it for the nice Hadley Roma metallic band you see in the above photo, since I was concerned the leather might become discolored from sweat if I wore it while exercising. The quick release mechanism makes it easy to swap bands.

    Build quality is exceptional. The brushed stainless steel body with the "rose gold" tinted sides looks great and has held up without a scratch over several months.


    Performance

    The ZenWatch is generally smooth. Sometimes transitions or screen touches may seem a little leisurely, but day to day use has not yielded any major frustration for me. OK Google commands work exceptionally well. The screen isn't the best among Android Wear watches in terms of brightness or resolution, but as long as I use a watchface that has brighter hues rather than subdued ones, I can still read it in sunlight without problem on brightness levels 5 or 4. Resolution isn't noticeable for me unless I peer closely (which is not something you're going to do on a regular basis).

    Battery is remarkably good. From the time I take the watch off its charger at around 7:30 AM to the time I go to sleep around midnight, it's only gone from 100% to 50-60%. This may vary, depending on the watchface, as well as what kinds of watch apps you use on a regular basis. I primarily use WatchMaster, which has a large selection of elegant and modern watchfaces.


    Software

    ASUS has a huge selection of preinstalled watchfaces (50 at last count), many of them quite nice. ASUS also has its own watchface design app that allows you to create your own (FaceDesigner). There are also useful apps and features like Remote Camera (which shows your camera's viewfinder on the watch screen, and allows you to take the shot by tapping the watchscreen), Forgot Phone Warning (which will buzz your wrist if it gets out of range of your phone), and a built-in compass. Of course, Google's own Android Wear apps for things like Google Now and Google Maps continue to get better and better.


    Functionality


    By this, I mean how it helps my daily life. When Android Wear was first introduced, I was doubtful as to how it might be useful for me, as opposed to just being a watch that can change watchfaces easily. But I've encountered a few very important uses:

    1. Using OK Google to dial numbers while driving. If I need to dial an actual phone number while driving (as opposed to selecting a contact from my phone), I have to use use a touchscreen dialer on the dashboard of my car, rather than speaking the number. Touchscreen dialers can be difficult (and dangerous) to use while driving. This is solved by saying "Ok Google, dial xxx-xxx-xxxx" to the watch (Of course, this can be done with the phone as well, but it means OK Google detection has to be turned on for any screen, which can contribute to battery drain.)
    2. Quickly and unobtrusively checking if a message or call is important to respond to immediately. This is important for my work as a doctor, since it's preferable not to be interrupted or distracted when speaking with a patient. It's much more disruptive to fish my phone out than it is to simply tilt my wrist and glance down at the notification.
    3. Responding to a text message if unable to type on the phone. The voice dictation for text message replies works quite well (although I only use it for relatively short responses).
    4. When logging in remotely to various work-related sites, I have to use secure token methods likes DuoMobile. When I get a DuoMobile authentication request, the notification appears on my watch as well, so I can authenticate without fishing out my phone. Since this is something I do frequently, this minor convenience becomes quite helpful.


    Negatives

    Although I like the ZenWatch a lot, it's obviously not perfect. Keep in mind that some of these flaws might be related to Android Wear itself, rather than this particular watch. These are the minor quibbles I have:

    1. If the watch is out of range of the phone for a little while, it occasionally has trouble reconnecting until I reboot the watch (which, fortunately, doesn't take very long).
    2. Although there are lots of nice preinstalled watchfaces, there are also some I'm not crazy about--but you can't remove them from the watch, only hide them. This goes for some preinstalled apps as well, like ASUS's own fitness app and Up for Jawbone.
    3. The 1st generation ZenWatch doesn't have wi-fi capability (while the ZenWatch 2 does); however, I've never quite seen the utility of the standalone wi-fi function, since I can't think of a situation when I'd be somewhere outside of home with wi-fi, where I didn't have my phone as well (unless I forgot it).
    4. The charger is a bit awkward and kludgy. A charging stand would've been more convenient and nicer to look at.


    Summary

    An elegant, useful, and relatively inexpensive gift of its kind. The ZenWatch 2 retails for $149, but is currently available for as low as $129 at places like Best Buy and B & H Photo.
    davidnc and Golfdriver97 like this.
    11-16-2015 02:44 PM
  6. Javier P's Avatar
    My daily driver since September has been a Moto X Play (Brazilian dual SIM model XT1563). It's a mid-range phone that gives you a lot of muscle for the money. Let's start for the obvious.

    Battery - 3630 mAh.

    Huge battery with an amazing autonomy. Battery life is quite important for me and this is one of the main reasons why I bought this phone. With medium to heavy use I usually get more than 24 hours from a full charge. You can check some stats and my averages in the screenshot below.

    The phone came with a Turbo charger (Power 15) in the box that helps to top this monster up very quickly. In average the charging rate is about 1% per minute, a bit more when the battery level is low and it slows down the closer it gets to 100%.

    Screen - 5.5" IPS LCD Full HD, 1080 x 1920 pixels (~403 ppi).

    It's an excellent display, very bright, nice colours, with good viewing angles and not much reflection. I normally use the phone in very bright outdoor conditions and adaptive brightness with a 50% level is enough most of the time. Very pleasant for reading or watching media. There's just a mono speaker at the bottom and it's good and loud enough.

    Size and weight - 148x75x10.9 169g.

    This phone is big and a bit on the heavy side, but surprisingly very comfortable to hold. The curved back and the original shell give a lot of grip and it's not slippery at all. The bezels are very small with a great screen to body ratio (~75%). All together makes very easy to use the phone one handed, a must for me.

    Camera.

    Excellent camera for the money. The manual focus is quite good (once you get used to it), the level of detail is amazing and the stock app is really fast. In low light situations the photos are not so good though, some noise and less detail.

    Memory.

    The 2gb of RAM are enough for normal use, apps open fast and, in general, multitasking is a breeze. Occasionally some hungry apps (yeah Chrome, I'm looking at you) will trigger an over aggressive RAM management, kicking "weaker" apps out of memory.

    Performance.

    The SD 615 can handle anything you throw at it with no problems and the general UI performance is good. In all this time I've never had a crash or any important lag, redraw or performance issue. In some places I've noticed a couple of animation stutters and very occasional hiccups. They are not terrible, not general and don't bother me much, but ... you need to get used to them.

    I find that Nova runs smoother than the stock Now launcher, maybe just because I'm used to my custom animations settings. Recent updates for the Google app made Now launcher more fluid and the same happened with the Play Store after the latest version. So, all indicates that there's room for software optimisation and those issues are not due to hardware limitations.

    Phone.

    Oh yeah, believe it or not some people still use these gadgets to make calls! This is very important for me, specially using two lines on a daily basis. Calls are loud and clear and never had a problem even in places with poor signal (quite normal for me). All radios are very good and very often better than other phones when compared under the same conditions.

    Software.

    There's not much on top of Android and I like this. I use only one of the Motorola apps, Moto Display. The wake up feature and interactive notifications are very useful and I would really miss them if I bought a different phone.

    Storage.

    There are two different models, with 16 or 32gb. I found an offer I couldn't resist and went for the 16gb model. It comes with 11gb for user storage and this is enough for me, considering that I can use the SD card to save my media files.

    Overall.

    So, as you can see I'm quite happy with this phone, great value for money and I would recommend it to anyone who wants a lot of muscle without spending much. Marshmallow is round the corner and if it improves those minor performance issues it would become the best mid-range phone, hands down.

    My setup.

    I use Nova launcher to keep my home screens clean and adapted for one handed use. The one finger gestures are set to access the notification shade, quick settings and screen off. Every icon, even in the dock, is a folder with a swipe up action to open the most used app in it.

    I use Zooper Widgets to display some system information with "on tap actions" to open the related app (Gsam, alarm, calendar, tides, etc). I try to keep all my stuff no more than two thumbs away

    From time to time I change the wallpaper and the icon packs but the general setup stays more or less untouched and shared between phones, using Nova backup. Right now I'm using a black & white theme.
    Attached Thumbnails 2015 Holiday Smartphone Guide-1447853601819.jpg   2015 Holiday Smartphone Guide-1447853620728.jpg  
    davidnc and Golfdriver97 like this.
    11-18-2015 07:33 AM
  7. belodion's Avatar
    NEXUS 7 2013

    There's only one thing that needs saying about the Nexus 7 2013: Get one if you can.
    But I'll say a little more.

    The Asus Google Nexus 7 2013 is a 7" tablet with 2gb RAM, Snapdragon S4 Pro clocked at 1.5gHz, 1920x1200 pixel display, and 16/32gb storage. The 3590mAh battery gives up to 9h of use. There is a 5mp rear camera, a 1.2mp front one, and the ability to shoot 1080p video.

    Asus have done a superb job with this device. I'll refer to it as the N7/2, to distinguish it from the first version, the Nexus 7 2012, a substantially different device.

    The finish is a smart, sort-of-rubbery plastic that affords the right amount of grip. There is no raised edge surrounding the Gorilla Glass screen, so add a screen protector if you're likely to put the device face down. The size allows you to hold it in the vertical position with one average-size hand for quite a long time before you feel the need to change your grip. It's the width which is likely to be a strain eventually - only to be expected in a tablet, so no complaints there - rather than the weight, which is not a problem. There's a nice balance to it....not heavy at top or bottom.

    The bezels east and west are small enough by tablet standards, but the bezels north and south have been criticised for being too large. Pish! They are in fact just right for keeping your thumbs away from the screen area when holding with both hands in the horizontal position.

    Light up the display of the Nexus for the first time and you'll be stunned by the quality. There are 323 pixels-per-inch, a far higher density than is the norm on most other inexpensive tablets. You will not be troubled by pixels. I'm actually using the tablet to write this, and I can't see a single pixel, although there are millions of the things there somewhere. This is one sharp LCD-type display. Viewing angles are good thanks to IPS.
    Colours are rich without being oversaturated. The colour gamut is 100% of the sRGB. If there's a colour out there, you'll see it on the Nexus. Again, a low colour gamut is not unusual on other inexpensive tablets....and indeed some expensive ones. But the N7/2 knows how important screen quality is in a tablet - which is after all mainly a media device - and socks it to you accordingly. All your photo viewing, film watching, game playing, or just web browsing, are the more enjoyable for it.
    A high maximum brightness setting allows you to use the device outdoors in bright conditions with little trouble. The lowest setting is exceedingly dim....get lost in a pitch-black Journey To The Centre Of The Earth subterranean cavern (why do people do that?) and you'd be able to do a great deal of reading before you expired, with none of the eye fatigue or vague headache caused by too bright a display.
    Overall, especially because of the sharpness and colour, it's difficult to see how you could wish for a better display in a tablet.
    IT'S WONDERFUL.

    The tablet is - or was - available in Wifi-only 16gb or 32gb, or Wifi and Mobile-Data-Enabled, 16gb or 32gb.
    You will have to make do with those 16 or 32 gigabytes of internal storage. There is no memory card slot. So make do with them and don't complain! There's such a thing as Cloud storage, isn't there? There's such a thing as deleting stuff, and not downloading too much stuff? Certainly. The N7/2 is so good, it's worth foregoing expandable storage.

    My own N7/2 came out of the box running Android 5.0. After setting up, and after about thirty app updates, there followed several successive system upgrades....seven, in fact, culminating in the latest version of the OS, Android 6.0. There were no problems at all with either downloading or installing.

    Connection to Wifi is faster on this device than any other device I've used, and it holds the connection faultlessly.

    Sound from the two rear-facing stereo speakers is good. They handled the rich variety of sounds of Britten's Young Person's Guide To The Orchestra at full volume with no distortion, and if they can do that, they're doing pretty good. Of course, the Young Person can enjoy higher sound quality in private by plugging in earphones.

    In use, the tablet is fast and responsive. Apps load quickly. Scrolling is smooth. The roomier version of the stock Google keyboard - a favourite keyboard of mine - is a joy to use. The S4 Pro processor seems to have plenty of whizz. In fact, I believe it's actually an underclocked S600.

    No-one particularly expects good cameras on a tablet. That of the N7/2 has received it's-okay-but-that's-all reviews, but I was pleasantly surprised by the overall quality when I first used it. It is not, perhaps QUITE up there with my Nokia Lumia 1020 or my LG G4, but the results are good, and sometimes very good. So far, I've had no positively bad results, but I haven't used the camera much. I must remember to use the tablet in public, to annoy the people who scorn that practice.

    As a Nexus device it runs a clean version of Android. Nice. No bloatware or tricky UI, and you get Marshmallow and monthly security upgrades.
    Of course, we're talking about a device which has been out of production for months. The Google successor to it is the Nexus 9, itself no longer new. But there are are new N7/2's still in stock here and there. If you find one, grab it, because they won't be available for much longer, and so far as I can see, do not as yet have a true successor.
    More than anything, it seems to me, this device is about the display. All the other stuff is a bonus.




    Posted via the Android Central App
    davidnc and Golfdriver97 like this.
    11-23-2015 05:11 PM
  8. belodion's Avatar
    LG G4

    The LG G3 exploded into the Android world in the first part of 2014....and what a device it was. One of the first devices with a quadHD display, I was fortunate to acquire one of the early ones at a time when the G3 forum was still a young forum. It soon lit up with excitement, enthusiasm, passion and admiration for this newcomer. Of course, there was, as with all devices, some negative stuff as well, but the G3 forum is still active and the G3 itself still a phone worth buying.

    All that applies to the G4, and then some. The G4 became available in the first part of 2015, and is a worthy successor to the earlier device. You could say that it's basically the same, but better in all respects.

    Let's look at some basic specs.

    The G4 has a 5.5" LCD IPS display; 2550x1440 pixels, giving a resolution of 535ppi; a Qualcomm Snapdragon 808 processor clocked at 1.8gHz; 3gb of RAM; 32gb of internal storage, with memory card slot; 16mp front and 8mp front cameras; and a removable 3000mAh battery. It takes a microSIM.

    As with the G3, LG managed to produce a large-screen device with remarkably small bezels. The plastic casing has a patterned metallic finish with good grip. You have the option of replacing the easily-removed back with one of a series of leather-covered ones. The display has a slight concave curve to it....you can safely lay it face down on a flat surface without fear of scratching the glass.

    Hard buttons are sited on the back of the device. The central button is Power, and a ridge on it makes it easily findable by feel....a thoughtful detail. Above and below that are the Volume Up and Down buttons. All three are easily operated blind by the forefinger.
    The screen navigation buttons are, very considerately and importantly, customisable in both the number and function of buttons displayed, and their positions. Thus, if you are used to Samsung's bottom right Back button, you can set up your G4 the same. This customisability accommodates the needs, familiar habits and preferences of all users. Not all manufacturers offer this. But LG does.

    So you light up the display. Straight away, you see two differences compared to the G3. There is no trace of the sharpening artefacts visible on text in particular, and the display colours are richer. This is no OLED display, but certainly, colours are rich without being oversaturated. In a side-by-side comparison with the G3, the G4's blacks are blacker. It's a display that is almost OLED in appearance.
    The vast number of pixels could be said to be unnecessary in a 5.5" display. Whether or not that's true, the display is utterly free of pixels under normal viewing conditions, and although I haven't tried it, may make it especially suited for VR applications, which will no doubt become more widespread in the future.

    Signal strength as indicated in the status bar, and more precisely in the dBm and asu figures in About Phone, Status, Signal Strength, show a marked improvement in the G4....some G3 users found this to be a weakness, but comparison of the measurements I made with both devices show a gain of about -10dBm in the G4.

    LG's Android skin is respectful and civilised. You do not have great anvils of heavy-handed and confusing UI flung at you. Swipe down from the top of the screen to reveal a wide range of shortcuts. As well as the shortcuts immediately showing, you can swipe from the right to reveal more. Long-press the Recents icon to open several screen and system settings options. Long-press a blank bit of home screen to get at the Apps, Widgets and Wallpapers options; at the same time, you can scroll through all your onboard apps, the icons of which are shown in two horizontal rows....swipe through them from right or left.

    Tap the Management app folder for quick access to frequently-used apps, such as Battery Usage, Apps, Storage, as well as the general Settings app if wished. You can add or remove icons in that folder.
    Smart Notice, a screen widget similar in its function to that of Google Now, is sited by default at top of the main home screen. It can be removed if wished, but keeps you posted with weather and other basic info, as well as notifications suggesting that you do this-or-that....

    ....Suggesting that you Open Smart Clean, for example, because you have a number of unused apps taking up unnecessary storage, and would you do something about it please.....


    ....Because the G4, like the G3, does like to clear things up after you, and you are strongly aware of the disapproval with which neglected things are whipped from under your nose and stashed away in some dark cupboard, the door firmly closed. In fact you can get at them again by looking in About Phone, Update Centre. Some users who have found that they are missing some apps which they could swear that they used to have, have discovered forgotten treasures in there.

    Smart Settings offers Tasker-like functions....do THIS for THAT to happen. For example, I've set YouTube to open when I plug in earphones.

    The Q Slide feature allows you to open apps in floating windows above the main app that you're using. Swipe down from the top of the screen to access the Q Slide apps.

    Long-press the Back button to open the Dual Window function, which allows you to run two apps at the same time, one on the upper half of the screen, the other below. Not all apps can be used in this way, but it's a useful feature.

    Double tap Volume Up to open the Quick Memo app for notes.

    Double tap Volume Down to launch Camera....it can also be set to take a picture immediately. Alien vessels, phantom beings, and visitors from the future need no longer hang about while you fiddle around trying to find your Camera app to grab proof of their existence. Press-press-snap and the thing is done.

    Press Power and Volume Down to take a screenshot....this can be done with a single fingertip.

    Knock Code allows you to set up a pattern of taps to unlock the phone if you prefer that to a PIN. To use Knock Code, you must also set a backup PIN.

    Double-tap the screen to wake the phone, or double-tap a blank area of home screen to make it sleep. You'll be surprised at how gentle the taps can be, and yet it still works.

    The rear camera is arguably the crowning glory of the G4. A 16mp sensor, larger than that of the average phone, with an f1.8 lens, it is positioned centrally above the Volume Up button, the textured surface of which warns you not to go further north with your forefinger. To the sides of the lens glass are the flash, and the infra-red laser focussing window.
    There are three basic shooting modes: Simple, Auto, and Manual. The latter mode makes it very much a photographer's camera, but at the same time can be used simply in either of the other modes.
    Results are outstandingly good. When the device was new, it struck me that this was possibly the best camera on an Android phone at the time. It may still be. Even if not, it's certainly up there with the very best of them. I found that it acquitted itself admirably in contest with my Nokia Lumias 930, and even 1020. In my opinion, both the Nokias - more so the 1020 - have the edge, but the G4 is not far behind, and to some extent these things are subjective anyway. I'm talking about an overall comparison, rather than any one aspect of performance. Here's a comparison I did:
    http://forums.androidcentral.com/sho...d.php?t=536358

    The G3 camera was already good, but the G4 is better. I did a comparison of the two here:
    http://forums.androidcentral.com/lg-...4-cameras.html

    The G4 forum contains a wealth of other photo samples and comparisons, for those who are interested. Of course, it also contains a lot of other useful stuff, most notably the encyclopedic collection of links to tips, fixes and info researched and collated by member sswitzer. It deserves a mention....take a look in the Stickies section of the G4 forum.

    Battery life is good. I'll say no more than that, because different users get different results for various reasons, but it's certainly good.
    Quick charging is an option if you want it.

    Some users, myself included, experience missed taps and spaces with the stock keyboard. For me, installing another keyboard did not fix this....for others, it does. A firmware update may address this in the future.
    The G4 ships with Android 5.0, and my own specimen at present is running 5.1. I speculate that the Marshmallow upgrade will be sent out in early 2016....it was in February 2015 I believe that the G3 was upgraded to Lollipop. The snowdrops were out, I recall.

    The G4 is smooth and fast, with, for most users at least, none of the lag that dogged some specimens of the G3 in its early days. It's highly customisable, more so than a pure Android device, but if you don't like the custom options, you can sweep most of them away if you prefer. Several months down the line, the G4 offers serious competition to more recent devices, and is available for a moderately tall pile of banknotes, but not as alarmingly tall as is required for some other flagship devices.

    Posted via the Android Central App
    davidnc and Golfdriver97 like this.
    11-24-2015 08:47 AM
  9. Almeuit's Avatar
    Nexus 6P - 32 GB Aluminum

    This will be my review / opinions on the Nexus 6P. I have had my unit for about a month now. Just for the sake of history this year (yes only this year haha) I have used a Note 4, iPhone 6+, ASUS ZenFone 2, LG G4, Galaxy S6, Moto X Pure Edition, and now the Nexus 6P. This is my first ever “Nexus Experience” so it really was a new journey for me.

    This review was done on a Nexus 6P (32 GB Aluminum) on the T-Mobile network in FL.


    Build and Design

    This phone reminds me of the HTC One M7. The metal finish on this feels very solid and smooth, however, with that smoothness the phone can at time be slippery. I always ensure to be safe whenever pulling it out from my pocket. I did order the Nexus 6P Case from Google (should have it soon -- I post a mini review about that once I get it). Other than that the phone feels like Huawei wasn’t messing around when building this phone.

    Sorry for the photos ... forum is flipping them not sure why haha.

    2015 Holiday Smartphone Guide-img_3471.jpg2015 Holiday Smartphone Guide-img_3472.jpg2015 Holiday Smartphone Guide-img_3476.jpg

    All the regular ports are there but at the bottom we have the new USB-C standard. I haven’t had a chance to test speeds since I really don’t have many files I store on the phone but I am sure it is just fine. We also have the Fingerprint Scanner on the back. I can say this is one of the BEST FP scanners I have ever used. If you have tried the iPhone one I would dare to say it is better than that. All in all though regarding the build Huawei did a real good job making this phone feel very “premium” and not something cheap or plasticy -- which I know some in the smartphone scene have hated a lot lately with older phones.


    Screen Quality

    Huawei packed in a Samsung AMOLED screen in the Nexus 6P and I am very glad they did. Don’t get me wrong… I never had an issue with the LG G4 or Moto X LCD Screen but once I switched to this phone I remembered why I like the AMOLED screens. The colors and screen looks amazing. I enjoy just using the phone more since it feels nicer to look at when browsing AC, movies, texts, etc. The auto brightness is kind of wonky -- or well I should say slow. It can take the phone a second or two to realize the change in lighting and kick in but that doesn’t bother me that much. Just a small gripe if I had to give one but then again .. That is more software.


    Software

    The software is probably exactly how you would expect it -- good ol’ vanilla Android MarshMallow just like Google wanted it. There is no additional software from Huawei or anything. Strictly pure Google -- and I can say I love it coming from the other phones. I never was one to scream to the high heavens about bloatware from manufactures (like Samsung) or carriers (like T-Mobile) until it either A) took up too much space OR B) started to use way too many resources (such as my battery). I don’t like what T-Mobile is doing on their branded phones where you have to work to disable their “My Account” app with a disabler app because it pings GPS non-stop and kills the battery. I never understood bloat like this. Or well I get why they want that information but it should be optional. With the Nexus 6P I simply don’t have to worry about it.

    Stock MM runs AMAZINGLY on the Nexus 6P. I have never had a phone this smooth. It definitely feels like the hardware was built to go with the software -- like that perfect sandwich (sorry I am hungry) . So far with multi-tasking I haven’t been able to see a slow down or issue. If you want a stock / fast phone without the bloat .. snag this beast.

    2015 Holiday Smartphone Guide-screenshot_20151105-234953.jpg2015 Holiday Smartphone Guide-screenshot_20151106-000555.jpg

    Of course the best thing is .. UPDATES! No more waiting for a carrier or anything and getting “the latest and greatest” when they feel like it. I get my stuff directly from Google and to be honest.. I am digging it. I got my November security update within a few days of NOvember hitting (they do a stage roll out to no slam the server). A few days versus 9, 10, 11+ months? That is a win in my book. This alone may turn me into a Nexus junky since I like having all the new “toys” to play with so .. OS Updates that are iOS style is a big plus in my book.


    Battery Life

    The battery so far on the Nexus 6P has been great. The phone seems to do power management pretty well. I gauge battery on how long it can last me through the day while also getting some good use. I don’t expect a phone to last 3 days and have 2 days of SoT at 99% brightness and last -- that just isn’t realistic. I have been averaging about a good solid day of use with 3.5-4.5 hours of SoT. The battery can get hit pretty bad if in a lower signal area (like other phones).

    The new Doze feature within Android MM is VERY noticeable. If you are one who uses your phone in the morning but then let it sit on your desk at work for an hour or two while you get your morning going -- you’re going to notice it. Doze kicks in and puts apps in a “sleeping” state so the phone just lightly sips the battery. Overnight I have seen as little as 1% battery drain (the average is about 2-3% overnight.. and by overnight I mean 8+ hours). Google definitely did a good thing with Doze. The only catch is the phone has to be sitting still (like on a desk) versus your pocket to kick in. Either way I am a fan and I believe most Android users will once the other phones are on MM (as long as it isn’t messed with by manufacturers/carriers).

    2015 Holiday Smartphone Guide-screenshot_20151114-110638.jpg2015 Holiday Smartphone Guide-screenshot_20151114-110622.jpg


    As for the new USB-C standard I have had no issues with it. I usually have a charger at home, at work, and in the car so I don’t have many to replace. The “fast charging” with the stock charger works just like my older QC devices.

    If you do have a ton it could become costly. If you do happen to buy some USB-C cords please ensure they are up to standard. A Google Engineer named “Benson Leung” has been reviewing cords on Amazon so I would look for his review to ensure the cable you’re about to buy is up to standards.


    Camera

    I have no complaints on the camera. I did have lots of friends (and forum teammates) with the Nexus 6 and they even admit it struggled versus the other smartphone cameras. The other reviews you may have read about the 6P are true -- This thing can take some pretty good pictures. I am by no means a camera expert -- and I will be the first to admit that -- but I do know the difference between a horrendous picture and one that is completely okay for use in texts, social media, etc.

    I am a “point and shoot” camera user. Below are some examples with the stock Google camera that comes with the Nexus 6P. All photos were on auto with auto HDR enabled.

    2015 Holiday Smartphone Guide-camera1.jpg2015 Holiday Smartphone Guide-camera2.jpg2015 Holiday Smartphone Guide-camera3.jpg2015 Holiday Smartphone Guide-camera4.jpg2015 Holiday Smartphone Guide-camera5.jpg2015 Holiday Smartphone Guide-camera6.jpg

    To be honest I haven’t had a real “bad” picture yet. The focus seems to focus pretty quick with the laser and it enables me to snag some pictures of my Nephew as he runs around (of course he sits still until I pull the camera out .. gah!). I can only go on my friends words about previous Nexus phones but I can say it seems like Huawei worked to fix this issue in the Nexus 6P. As for video -- I don’t take much so I can’t really comment on it. I am going to test it some more and update this review.


    Network / Cell Strength

    This section will be small since cell strength will vary greatly by your area and your carrier. I wanted to touch on the subject a little bit since I have seen posts where some are worried about the radios within the 6P. For me on T-Mobile I can say it has been great. I was using the Moto X Pure Edition before this and I can say (for me) I actually get better signal strength / speeds with my 6P. I was kind of shocked when sitting in some areas and having -10 to -15 less dBm since Moto is known for their radios. The best part about the 6P is, like the Moto X Pure Edition, it supports ALL US carriers. This means that AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and yes … even Verizon users can snag this phone and it’ll work. Just slap the SIM in and go! VoLTE also works as shown below with the speed test while on a speakerphone phone call.

    2015 Holiday Smartphone Guide-screenshot_20151111-163752.jpg2015 Holiday Smartphone Guide-screenshot_20151122-195732.jpg

    For those of you on T-Mobile I can answer that YES the stock “WiFi Calling” built into Android MM does work. No additional software needed (example below).

    https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B5o...ew?usp=sharing (sorry hit the limit for pictures within post).


    Conclusion

    Well … you made it to the end of my long winded review! YAY! . My conclusion in regards to the Nexus 6P is simple .. buy it! I really think a lot of people would love this phone if they gave it a chance. The phone is built to feel very solid like the previous HTC One phones, the software is solid / supported directly from Google so you get all the goodies, and the camera is a great one for snapping the moments of life .

    If you have any questions or I left something out please do not hesitate to ask me (PM or whatever) and I will be more than happy to answer!
    11-29-2015 01:04 PM
  10. Laura Knotek's Avatar
    Moto X Pure Edition

    I have used the Moto X Pure Edition as a daily driver on AT&T since I got it in October 2015.

    Pros:
    -Great Camera
    -Premium Feel and Look (I customized mine using Moto Maker and ordering direct from Moto)
    -Unlocked and unbranded (can be used on any US carrier)
    -Fast Performance
    -Fast charging
    -Stock Android with no carrier bloatware
    -supports microSD card
    -excellent call quality
    -water resistant (not waterproof)-good if exposed to some water such as raindrops, which also resists fingerprints
    -excellent stereo speakers on the front of the device

    Cons:
    -Somewhat slippery to hold
    -Lack of removable battery
    -Terrible customer service: My device died after 6 months of use. The refurbished unit Moto sent me was a brick because they failed to remove the previous owner's Google Account prior to FDR. The refurb had to be returned. It took me 3 weeks to get a working device.
    -No updates since February 2016, not even security updates

    Hardware:
    Hardware wise, this device is great.
    The curved shape and thin bezels make it easy to hold and use, despite the size. The only drawback is the slippery feel to the back, but I usually use a transparent TPU case when I’m on the go, which makes it easier to grip.

    The water resistance also makes this the first phone I’ve had that wasn’t a fingerprint magnet. I do not need to clean my screen multiple times a day.

    Display:
    The display on the Moto X Pure Edition is excellent. I like LCD better than AMOLED, since LCD is easier to read in bright sunlight and does not suffer from burn-in. I set my brightness to around 50%, and I am still able to see the screen easily in all light conditions via adaptive display.

    Camera:
    The Camera is all around excellent. You can twist the phone to turn on the camera. The time to take the shot is very good. A nice camera feature is adjusting the brightness before taking the shot by making it brighter or dimmer while looking at the subject on the screen. The quality is good as well. If you want a camera that is simple to use and works well in auto mode, then the Moto X Pure Edition is great.

    For manual mode, there are camera apps from Google Play that allow more customization. I recommend ProShot.

    Performance:
    The Moto X Pure Edition is a fast device and is great for multitasking. I have not experienced any lag or random reboots.

    Battery life:
    In my usage, the battery life on the Moto X Pure Edition always gets me through the day without needing to plug it in. If the battery does run low, the Turbo Charger charges the device very quickly.

    Software:
    Motorola provides a stock Android experience with a few Moto-specific apps, which are useful and not bloatware. I especially like Moto Display, since it shows notifications on the screen by just waving my hand over the screen. Moto Display will also recognize when I am looking at the screen. I have my screen timeout set to 15s, but it will stay on indefinitely as long as I am looking at it.

    Twisting the phone twice while holding it opens the camera.

    Holding the phone and making a double karate chop motion turns on the flashlight.

    Other considerations: The Moto X Pure Edition supports microSD cards. This is a great feature, since many current Android devices do not have microSD card slots.

    The very best feature is that this device is unlocked and unbranded. It will work on any US carrier’s network. I did not need to do anything to get it to work on AT&T. I simply removed the nanoSIM from my AT&T branded 2013 Moto X, and placed the SIM in the Moto X Pure Edition. Everything worked. I did not need to edit APNs or call AT&T to get it provisioned. The price cannot be beat either. I got the 64GB version for only $499, which is a bargain for an unlocked/unbranded device with these specs/features.

    Bottom line: I should have waited for the Nexus 6P. This device doesn't get updates, and Moto has terrible customer service. If the device works properly, it is great. However, expect a long wait if it has to be returned for any warranty issues.
    davidnc and Golfdriver97 like this.
    11-30-2015 01:04 AM
  11. joe-fandroid's Avatar
    2015 LG Nexus 5X
    -USB-C. It's nice that this is going to the new standard. But with only a USB-C/USB-C cable, you would need to purchase a USB-C/USB-A cable separately* to use anything like an external battery or to do data transfers or root the 5X.
    Actually I found it annoying that Android 6 Marshmallow does not expose a file system to the user. So you won't find folders for your Music, Photos or Documents that you can manipulate easily, even if you got the right cable and connected the device to a laptop. Seems like Google finally got around to doing what Apple always does -- dumb down everything for the user, so only programmers can do anything interesting or intelligent. The bottomline is that you'll need to use Apps to do anything interesting, even for moving files around. I found "Airmore" app which works pretty good. But why is this function not part of the core Android 6? WTF?
    11-30-2015 06:55 PM
  12. Golfdriver97's Avatar
    Actually I found it annoying that Android 6 Marshmallow does not expose a file system to the user.
    There is a file explorer embedded in the OS. It's under Settings>storage. You can copy files to another location and upload them to Drive or Photos. The copy to command is limited though.
    Laura Knotek likes this.
    11-30-2015 09:07 PM

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