Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Motorola Moto E now available in Canada


After a few month since its official unveiling, our friends at Motorola have let us know that the Motorola Moto E is now available to Canadians. Motorola has partnered with Staples to make it available unlocked for $179.

Specs include a Qualcomm Snapdragon 200, 1GB RAM, 4GB internal storage, microSD slot up to 32GB, 4.3in 540 x 960 qHD.

As we've already mentioned in the past, the Moto E is priced a bit strangely considering the fact that the Moto G is available, depending on the carrier, in Canada for as little as $150 without a contract. This is offset by the fact that the Moto E is unlocked out of the box but it isn't a great plus considering the spec gap between the Moto G and Moto E.

Nevertheless, it's great to see the option available for those who are looking for a more affordable handset for traveling or to take to the carrier of their choice and have the flexibility of choosing the low priced plans.

Friday, July 4, 2014

LG G3 officially arriving in Canada on August 1st

After LG announced its latest flagship handset last month there was little doubt in our mind that it would make its way to Canadian shelves. Yesterday, we got confirmation from our friends at LG that the G3 will in fact be headed to Bell, MTS, Rogers, Sasktel and Videotron on August 1st.

We are a bit surprised to see TELUS not on the list of launch carriers given that the G2 was available to its customers. Here's a refresher of the specs:
  • Chipset: Qualcomm Snapdragon™ 801 (up to 2.5GHz Quad-Core)
  • Display: 5.5-inch Quad HD IPS (2560 x 1440, 538ppi)
  • Memory: 16/32MB eMMC ROM / 2/3GB DDR3 RAM / microSD slot (128GB max)
  • Camera: Rear 13.0MP with OIS+ and Laser Auto Focus / Front 2.1MP
  • Battery: 3,000mAh (removable)
  • Operating System: Android 4.4.2 KitKat
  • Size: 146.3 x 74.6 x 8.9mm
  • Weight: 149g
  • Network: 4G / LTE / HSPA+ 21 Mbps (3G)
  • Connectivity: Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, Bluetooth Smart Ready (Apt-X), NFC, SlimPort, A-GPS/Glonass, USB 2.0
  • Colour: Metallic Black, Silk White, Shine Gold, Moon Violet, Burgundy Red
  • Other: Smart Keyboard, Smart Notice, Knock CodeTM , Guest Mode, etc.
Check out the Press release after the break.


Sunday, June 29, 2014

Big announcements at Google I/O


This week is always huge for Android fans as it's Google I/O. So we've rounded up all of what went down at Google I/O as far as Android is concerned and what we can expect in the coming months.

Android One


While this may not concern Canadians as much as the other announcements this week, Android One is an important step for Android to grow as a platform and capture a large percentage of the "next billion" smartphone users in developing countries.

With Android One Google aims to bring a $100 smartphone that has the core Android experience without the premium cost today's flagships. This new initiative by Google will probably not have much of an effect on North America, but one never knows as the Moto G seems to have gained some noticeable traction in Western countries.


Material Design


As a follow up to the now venerable "Holo" design first introduced in Honeycomb, Material Design is the next major overhaul to Android but also can be used for websites and Chrome Apps. The design is a departure from the dark Tron-ish tones of Holo and opts instead for a card like simple geometric shapes similar to the design in Google Now. Material Design will be making its debut on Android L.

Android L

Of course the big announcement that most were waiting for is the new version of Android. This year Google did a few things differently, for one this version of isn't named just yet, nor does it have a number yet. It's simply referred to as the Android L update. It feature many new improvements, like the new Material Design and many more features like:

ART ( Android Runtime)

The new Android Runtime which was included with Android 4.4 KitKat as a preview to developers and Users will be the default runtime in the next version of Android. Google touts a improvement in performance by 15-20%. For many already running ART it seems like compatibility was already pretty solid so we look forward for ART to start rolling out to all users.

New Multitasking

With Android L, there is a new revamped Multitasking/App Switching system that aesthetically is a platform for the new Material Design and functionally adds a few new tricks like being able to display states from an app such as the different tabs in Chrome. Devs will be able to tie in their apps to this functionality with new APIs. 

Enhanced Notifications and Lock screen

Notifications get revamped as they now are more integrated with the Lock screen. There are now different levels of privacy that apps will have to classify their notifications for users to be able to rest assured sensitive information won't bubble up to the lockscreen. 

Also improved in the lockscreen is it being more context aware and not enforcing security when the user designates specific coordinates or connections to certain bluetooth devices.

Project Volta (Battery Life)

Project Volta is Google's attempt at attacking battery life like how they attacked sluggishness in Android with Project Butter. We are particularly excited by Project Volta as battery life seems to be the real last frontier for OEMs to out do each other.

New Business oriented features (Samsung KNOX in Android Branch)

Google is also looking to add business capabilities to Android by working closely with Samsung to get KNOX or KNOX like features into the main Android branch. We are a bit surprised by this as we would expect Samsung to keep KNOX as a nice differentiator for their devices but it seems like now all Android users will be able to benefit.

Android Wear

Androids Wear was announced a couple of month ago, but this week we finally get to see some actual hands on with working devices being handed out to I/O attendees. The LG G Watch and Samsung Gear Live are now available to the masses while the much anticipated Motorola Moto 360 will have to wait till the end of the summer.

Android Auto


With Apple making moves to try to capture the car market with CarPlay, its only natural for Google to try to do the same with Android and Android Auto. Google is looking to provide GPS mapping/navigation, Music control, Telephony, SMS composition and playback and Web search capabilities.

Android TV


Google has had many attempts at cracking the TV market with Google TV. This time, it's going to rely on the strength of the Android ecosystem to do it (although Google TV did leverage Android). So far things looks promissing as Google's Play Store offerings are as strong as ever and offer quite a compelling offering of multimedia.

Other announcements

There were also a couple of other great pieces of news including Chromecast improvements which include full mirroring capabilities from Android device to Chromecast and improvements to Chrome OS allowing users to run Android apps natively on the laptop OS.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Samsung officially announces the Galaxy Tab S 8.4 and Tab S 10.5 and are coming to Canada June 27th


While Android still has many strides to make in the tablet market, Samsung marches on with two new offerings. The Galaxy Tab S 8.4 and Galaxy Tab S 10.5 represent a renewed commitment to their belief that Super AMOLED is the best display technology available.

The 8.4 inch form factor isn't necessarily Samsung's first shot at this form factor as we saw the TabPRO 8.4 earlier this year. The biggest difference between the two is obviously the switch from an LCD display to a Super AMOLED display. The other big differences include a back reminiscent of the Galaxy S5 and new "Simple Clickers" that allow specially designed cases to be attached to the tablet.

The 10.5 inch form factor is a tweak on the usual 10.1 inch form factor we've seen from Samsung. Like the Tab S 8.4 is sports a super crisp 2560x1600 display

Specs for both tablets include a 8.4/10.5 inch 2560x1600 Super AMOLED display, Exynos 5 Octa at 1.9GHz + 1.3GHz or Snapdragon 800 2.3GHz Quad Core, 8MP w/ LED Flash + 2.1MP Full HD, 3GB (RAM), 16/32GB internal storage expandable via microSD by up to 128GB.

Both tablets run Android 4.4 KitKat. The 8.4 has a 4900mAh battery while the 10.5 has a 7900mAh battery. They will also come with a number of accessories including specialized cases that attach via the Simple Clickers on the device bodies. There is also a Bluetooth keyboard specially designed for the Tab S 10.5.

According to MobileSyrup, they will be available in Canada starting June 27th.

Check out the official press release and pics after the break

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Samsung's original Galaxy Gear to be updated to Tizen


When we reviewed the Samsung Galaxy Gear last year, we were very intrigued by the potential of this new product category, but were disappointing by key aspects like battery life. According to SamMobile, Samsung will be updating the original Galaxy Gear to Tizen. This will come with a few benefits such as improved battery life, standalone music player (for music stored directly on the device) and all this being seamless to the user.

Word of warning the update via Kies will wipe the Gear completely.
Check out SamMobile's video of the Galaxy Gear in action with the update after the break.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

LG officially announces the G3


LG wasn't going to stay idle while Samsung, Sony and HTC were going to push their 2014 flagships. Today, they announced their flagship for 2014, the LG G3. Without surprising many, the G3 falls inline with jsut about every spec leak that we've seen in the past few months.

Specs include:

  • Chipset: Qualcomm Snapdragon™ 801 (up to 2.5GHz Quad-Core)
  • Display: 5.5-inch Quad HD IPS (2560 x 1440, 538ppi)
  • Memory: 16/32MB eMMC ROM / 2/3GB DDR3 RAM / microSD slot (128GB max)
  • Camera: Rear 13.0MP with OIS+ and Laser Auto Focus / Front 2.1MP
  • Battery: 3,000mAh (removable)
  • Operating System: Android 4.4.2 KitKat
  • Size: 146.3 x 74.6 x 8.9mm
  • Weight: 149g
  • Network: 4G / LTE / HSPA+ 21 Mbps (3G)
  • Connectivity: Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, Bluetooth Smart Ready (Apt-X), NFC, SlimPort, A-GPS/Glonass, USB 2.0
  • Colour: Metallic Black, Silk White, Shine Gold, Moon Violet, Burgundy Red
  • Other: Smart Keyboard, Smart Notice, Knock CodeTM , Guest Mode, etc.
Interestingly, RAM will depend on on the storage option chosen. The 16GB will come with 2GB of RAM while the 32GB comes with 3GB of RAM.  Sadly, the metallic looking back is in fact plastic but we'll reserve judgement till we have our hand on the phone. LG did make some significant changes compared to the G2 by including a removable battery and expandable microSD storage which seems to be making a big comeback in 2014. 

The 5.5 inch display seems to be clearly in phablet territory but with such tiny bezels LG has the footprint of the phone in the range of other flagships. At 1440p, the density is at a retina demolishing 538ppi, we'll see if the potential diminishing returns of the DPI increases clearity on the display.

Overall, this very solid hardware paired with what LG calls "simplified" software makes for a very compelling choice on paper.

No word on Canadian availability, but considering how the G2 was widely available to several carriers in Canada we expect the same of the G3.


Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Android 4.4 KitKat rolling out to Canadian Sony Xperia Z/ZL today

While the Xperia Z and ZL aren't exactly "spring chickens" of the smartphone world, that doesn't mean they should get the same upgrade treatment as other former flagships. With it's 5-inch 1080p display, Snapdragon 600 processor and 2GB of RAM, there is no reason for the either the Z or ZL to be left out of the upgrade to Android 4.4 KitKat and Sony has rectified that situation by finally pushing out an update to the latest version of Android.

If you're an Xperia Z or ZL user on Bell, Rogers, MTS, Mobilicity, Videotron and WIND you should be getting the update starting today. Use the PC companion app to get your update.