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Google's new Android Wear OS, specially created for smart wearables and smart trackers and smart watches and smart anything else you could possibly strap to your body, launched with a bang this week.

We already like the look of Motorola's Moto 360, which is the first product to be announced running on Android Wear, but can't help but think Google may have missed an opportunity when it comes to wearables.

Watch the video above and you're given a peek into life with an Android Wear device strapped to your arm. Sure it's a promo video, but everything just seems so pointless and clunky. Republic Publishing's James Holland sums up the most ridiculous part of the video (around 0:50 where a woman is running for a plane) better than we ever could:

"Android Wear isn't smart enough to determine that she's not 'out for a run', but running for her flight. It's clever enough to present the boarding pass at the right time, in the right place, but dumb enough to obscure it with a pitifully low 'calories burned' message at exactly the wrong time. She even looks pissed off as she swipes it away, grimacing apologetically to the airline staff. Contextual computing, this is not."

In his post Wound up by smartwatches, Holland goes on to identify some of the things he'd love to see in a smart watch, like wireless charging, as well as a ban on the word smart. But we think he really hits the nail on the head with his second point, which is that we don't need an OS or a product that's solely geared up to replace a phone.

Most of us have phones. Most of us pay an arm and a leg each month to have phones and the last thing we'd want to do is pay even more for another device that just does exactly what the phone does. Most of the notifications that the promo video tries to wow us with, like how long it'll take to get to work, the name of a song and, shock horror, a text message are all things we already knew how to find out and watch and view and respond to on our phones years ago.

If tech giants want to continue to call their watches smart then they need to do something a little bit more than just transfer what's going on on your phone to your wrist. Because really, when is your phone not in the palm of your hand or a matter of centimetres away?

Of course many of these gripes might just be with the Moto 360 - maybe Android Wear works a lot better with other devices? Possibly. But we can't help but wonder whether the focus on smart wearables has just been on taking the phone experience to your wrist instead of doing anything smart at all.

cheapest-android-tablet-big.jpgYes it won't be anywhere near as good as an iPad, yes it looks a bit lame and plastic-y, yes it says "refurbished" on the side, but that doesn't mean that at under £20 the UK's cheapest Android tablet isn't more than capable of getting you on the internet and allowing you to play some of your favourite games on-the-move.

The 7" Scroll from Storage Options is running on Android 4.0, has an 800 X 480 resolution capacitive screen and 4GB of memory. This means it's a great option for those on a budget who want a simple tablet to carry around and browse the internet with. It's also ideal for those with kids who are pestering them for a tablet but are reluctant to invest too much in something that'll either be buried in the garden or thrown from a great height within 24 hours.

Although the product is refurbished, it's guaranteed to have been repaired and cleaned to a standard and does come with a three month warranty to cover your back.

Only a select few of the Scrolls are available from Aria for £19.98, so move fast!

android-big.jpgYesterday Google revealed that it plans on branching out into wearables in a big way with the launch of a software development kit in two weeks' time.

According to sources, the SDK will allows developers to create all kinds of wearable devices, like fitness trackers and smartwatches, using the Android operating system.

Google has revealed that the kit is likely to be ready in two weeks.

evernote-handwriting-big.jpgEvernote's Android app is already pretty awesome, allowing users to integrate text, to-do lists, photos and more seamlessly into their notes. In a blog post today the team explains that with its latest update it wants "to extend the Evernote experience" even more and it believes the best way to do that is with a neat handwriting feature.

Users just need to tap the paperclip icon and choose a thickness and colour to scrawl their notes with. They then tap the drawing to revert back to text mode.

Like the screenshot to the left, users will be able to add handwriting sections into their notes alongside text and images too - the chemistry class example is a pretty good way of illustrating the need to move back and forth between the different kinds of notes.

Get the Evernote app (or just update it) from Google Play.

mwc-hola-big.jpgSo MWC is over for another year! And the world's mobile bigwigs have left the tapas bars and headed home. But what caught our eye at this year's exhibition? Here are ten things we learnt this week.

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1 By far the sexiest item at the show was the Samsung Gear Fit - With its curved AMOLED screen this is how I'd imagine that the iWatch will look. It also works with any Samsung Galaxy phone which potentially gives it a very wide reach. The jury is out though on how useful it will be. It is not as highly specified as the Galaxy Gear 2 or other fully specified smartwatches, so you can read messages but not respond to them. For fitness types the heart rate monitor and its accompanying software is handy, though annoyingly it doesn't measure your heart rate on a 24 hour basis. So Samsung have created a stunning design, but the rest of the Fit is a bit of a work in progress.

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2 The Sony Xperia Z2 has an amazing screen - Sony's next generation smartphone has a significant wow factor in the clarity and resolution of its screen. That camera looks very impressive too. More on it here.

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3 Nokia's X Series cheapo Android phones might do surprisingly well - Kudos to the company for doing that it perhaps should have done a year ago and launch Android phones. The new mobiles, the X, X+ (which both have a four inch screen) and XL (five inch screen) should appeal to the millions who still have a soft spot for the Nokia brand but can't afford larger and higher spec phones. The Windows style tile system makes it easy to use too, and that price, shame though about a relative iffy camera.

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4 Samsung's Galaxy Gear 2 watch has a great camera - The jury is also out on the new Samsung Galaxy Gear watch, but this time it works with any Galaxy phone - the original was Note 3 only - and the camera is actually rather good for a two mega pixel jobbie. I bet this fella fancies one.

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5 The cheesiest ad of the week winner is this... - Just what is he doing with his hand?

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6 Samsung are being a bit over protective of the S5 - Rather odd really as the phone didn't appear at the main show and was only available for viewing to the privileged few behind closed doors.

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7 Curved screens, you can keep them - LG seem to be fighting a losing battle in convincing punters and the industry of the merits of curved screens as featured on its G Flex six inch screen mobile. They might apparently be much better for viewing video with superb colour saturation, but no one seems too interested.

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8 Ford are doing some very clever things with the car dashboard - Its AppLinks platform is starting to roll out across Europe and there just huge potential to customise phone apps so that make getting information or entertainment easier for the driver. The voice controlled Spotify app works very well and Glympse could prove to be highly useful.

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9 The smartphone might just be about to hit an innovation buffer. We have now had innovative apps, bigger screens, ever higher quality cameras. However a lot of the secondary brands launches Huawei (whose seven inch phone/tablet hybrid the MediaPad X1 is pictured), Lenovo etc at MWC had a decidedly similar feel to them. And how much of leap is the Samsung Galaxy S5 on from the S4? Maybe smartphone tech is hitting an innovation wall.

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10 MWC is still The Olympics for petty criminals - All those phones and tablets, all those industry types on a bender down the Ramblas, and half of the best pickpockets from southern Europe. Barca's police must really hate MWC.

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It has been rumoured for quite a while and now it has been confirmed, Nokia doesn't just make Windows phones, it is also manufactures Android ones too. But in typical Nokia style there's a twist or two.

At MWC 2014 it unveiled the Nokia X, X+ and Xl smartphones, but as CEO Stephen Elop insisted these aren't just bog standard Android mobiles. He said that: "The Nokia X is built on Android open source software. We have differentiated and added our own experience." And that means keeping the company's Windows style tiles, inspite of the fact that the engine running the handsets is Android.

The phones aren't that high spec either, but are designed to fit somewhere in between the company's budget Asha mobiles and its Windows Lumia top-enders. The X sports a 4-inch IPS capacitive display, 1GHZ Qualcomm Snapdragon dual core processor, 512MB RAM & 4GB eMMC, a 1500mAh battery.3MP camera, dual SIM cards, expandable storage via a MicroSD card. Not surprisingly it still comes loaded with lots of Microsoft goodies including Maps, MixRadio, Skype and OneDrive.

The X+ also has a 4in screen and similar spec but with more RAM, while the XL boasts a 5inch screen. The handsets also come preloaded with Skype and other Microsoft friendly fair, including Maps and MixRadio, Skype and OneDrive.

The prices are as you'd expect very competitive with the Nokia X out now for 89 Euros, the Nokia X+ available in Q2 for 99 Euros and Nokia Xl coming soon at 109 Euros.
I guess these phones are aimed at emerging markets, but they could also build up a significant following among cash-strapped Britons too.

MWC 2014 - Creoir re-invents the smart watch

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Mobile World Congress is surprise surprise awash with wearable gadgets including some biggies from both Samsung and Sony One smaller company though that has been creating a bit of a buzz in the wearable space is Finnish firm Creoir. It has developed a smartwatch that is built on the Android operating system but resembles old school watches.

It has a custom user Android interface but the watch which also sports a touch screen display ,is also compatible with iOs devices too. also on board is Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0, an accelerometer, e-compass and an ambient light sensor and USB connectivity.

It certainly looks stylish too with build includes stainless steel and crystal finish. There's no news yet on a potential launch.

archos 546.jpgType: Android gaming tablet
Price as reviewed: £179

Archos's first attempt to enter the 'gaming tablet' market was way back in 2012 (a huge year in terms of tech), with its original GamePad - though it didn't quite work for me, unfortunately. Many moons on though, and I've managed to get my hands on the French-based manufacturer's GamePad 2, which carries a ton of improvements to both design and power when compared to its predecessor.

Design

At first glance, the GamePad 2 could easily be mistaken as a Sony PS Vita or PSP. It is only really distinguished by an a larger form-factor and the Archos logo which has been nicely placed under the tablet's respectable 7- inch display. The tablet is reassuringly solid and comes in at 200.5 mm x 154 mm x 9.9 mm, weighing 400g.

You'd think an Android tablet weighing 400g would be pretty heavy to hold, compared to Google's Nexus 7 which is actually over 100g lighter, though surprisingly, the GamePad 2 has a nice weight to it. As well as this, it's solid and sports slightly curved sides which add to a tight and sustainable grip.

Looking around the GamePad 2, you'll find the usual ports and buttons (power/lock button, volume rocker, 3.5mm headphone jack, micro-USB charging port and the added extra of a mini-HDMI), along with some physical gameplay controls such as a D-pad and two analogue sticks - just like the PS Vita.

Display

With the GamePad, you get a 7- inch panel which offers up a 1080p resolution. I did a few tests to determine the quality of the GamePad 2's display, and have to say that I think it's rather impressive, with an excellent colour balance - a huge improvement when compared to the original GamePad.

Interface

The GamePad 2 has been pre-loaded with Google's Android 4.2 Jelly Bean operating system - not KitKat - and features a more stock experience, with little design input from Archos. Personally, I don't mind this, however it would've been nice to have seen some sort of software customisation.

Power

Archos hasn't just improved the overall design and display of the GamePad 2, as you also get a 1.6GHz quad-core processor that is much faster than the original GamePad - though clearly not as whizzy as the Advent Tegra Note's Tegra 4 processor as touted by some of its rivals.

In terms of memory, you're able to choose from 8GB and 16GB options, although you can easily expand the memory, either way, as you're able to make use of the micro-SD card slot. In fact, if you can get an extra 64GB this way, which means you wouldn't necessarily need to splash out on the more expensive 16GB model just to get an ample amount of space to store your apps and games.

The 5000mAh battery was also great when it came to actually using and testing the GamePad 2, providing plenty of power for browsing the web, updating my Facebook status and playing a few games.

Gameplay

If you intend on purchasing the Archos GamePad 2, then you would've obviously been attracted by its gaming abilities and how it sports full gaming controls - which is unique for an Android tablet.

The GamePad 2 has been highly supported by Gameloft, who are known for wide variety of licensed movie-based and other games, providing the tablet with access to a range of different titles -including Modern Combat and Asphalt 8, which have been pre-installed and don't cost you a penny.

Testing out the gaming capabilities of the GamePad 2, I was very impressed with the updated D-pad and analogue sticks, and found the mapping feature very useful when it came to playing a number of different titles from the Play Store.

Verdict

The GamePad 2 is a fine Android tablet in terms of power and overall performance, and is a huge improvement over its predecessor - perfect if you're someone who's obsessed with games. Whether you need it over a more conventional tablet, it is a decision that only you can make.


It's 2014! Which is exciting, but it also means that the Christmas period is officially over - and so there's no excuse for just sitting on the sofa watching TV. It might also be a good time to get fit - so here's our top five Android fitness apps.

Just in time for Christmas HTC have announced that users of their slightly-more diminutive HTC One Mini smartphone will be getting an upgrade to the "latest" version of Android - 4.3, better known as Jelly Bean.

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It's just in time too, as the pretty soon an even newer version of Android - dubbed KitKat - will no doubt become the standard to beat (we've already seen it in the Nexus 5). The upgrade will guarantee the phone's compatibility with newer apps and updates - so users will definitely be able to use the latest version of all of, say, Facebook and Vine, without being stuck on increasingly broken older versions.

The update also brings with it an update to HTC's own HTC Sense user interface, which replaces the default Google skin. The big selling point of Sense is the "BlinkFeed" homescreen, which aggregates different social media and news updates - so you're able to see what your friends are up to without even loading up Facebook. Apparently the latest update also adds compatibility with Instagram and Google+.

Additionally, the camera has received a boost - with new controls for exposure and being able to lock the focus on a particular shot. And there's even a new HTC Sense TV app offering TV listings, which can be customised to feature whatever package of channels you have on your TV.

We're not sure when the update is due to hit, but expect to see your phone blinking with a notification soon.

goldshad.pngOn a vaguely related note, HTC's marketing department have been busy too. They recently transformed the cobbles of London's Shad Thames by painting them gold to promote the new golden HTC One. As we've seen with the new gold iPhone 5S - apparently the metal is having a renaissance and is no longer seen as tacky but is actually super classy. So for once the streets of the capital were actually paved with gold... or at least, had some gold paint on top of the usual veneer of winter despair.

archos_45_titanium.jpgProduct type: Android smartphone
Price as reviewed: £100

Over the years Archos has primarily been known for manufacturing and selling tablet style entertainment devices. However, this has now changed with the firm grabbing a slice of the mobile market with its very own range of Android smartphones like this budget-orientated offering, the 45 Titanium.

Design

Interestingly the design of the 45 Titanium reminds me of the Sony Xperia T. Which, while it won't mean that Archos scores highly for originality means that is has delievered a stylish and solid looking and feeling handset.

The front houses a, these days average for a budget smartphone, 4.5- inch display. Above that, you'll find the speakerphone and a front-facing camera. Below the display are three touch-sensitive buttons: menu, home and back.

The left has been kept completely blank, with the right stealing the limelight with both the volume rocker and power/lock button placed next to each other. The top is where you'll find a 3.5mm audio jack and micro-USB port for charging. Kudos to Archos for placing everything in a nice order.

Display

Archos has done an OK-ish job with the display for the 45 Titanium, espcially bearing in minds its budget status. Its 854x480 resolution is capable of providing an overall satisfactory contrast and density for viewing photos and watching videos. Maybe blacks could be a tad darker, but every other colour seemed OK. Oh, and whites - they seem too yellow for my liking.

Interface

The 45 Titanium comes pre-loaded with Android 4.2 Jelly Bean, so sadly not Kit Kat, the latest version. That said, you do get access to all of Google's latest services and apps, including GTalk, Gmail and of course, the Play Store.

Little customisation to the user interface has been implemented by Archos, with the handset sporting a more stock feel. This isn't a necessarily a bad thing, but with the 45 Titanium I found everything to be too slow for my liking - which isn't me being awkward.

The keyboard, particularly, is problematic. It seemed that I was having hassle with it
constantly: you could be typing out a perfectly short email and it wouldn't do anything but freeze and stop altogether.

Power

I hate slow smartphones, and the 45 Titanium is one of them, despite being powered by a 1.3GHz dual-core processor which you could argue is quite reasonable for a device of this sort of price. And to be even more negative (I'm by no means the Grinch), you only get 4GB of internal memory.

The battery life also disappointed me. After a full charge, the phone 45 Titanium barely reached three-quarters of a day - and I had only been using it for sending a few emails and browsing the net.

Camera

Archos has supplied the 45 Titanium with two cameras: a 5-megapixel rear-facing and a VGA front-facing. The rear-facing is obviously the main camera for taking photos and videos with (which is at 720p quality), though I found the quality rather poor compared to pricier models. That is often the case with budget smartphones though.

Verdict

I must admit I am not too keen on the phone. It is slow, with a poor battery performance and a not great camera. There are better budget smartphones out there.

udozithumb.pngOnline shopping is great, but unless Amazon drones become a reality some time soon, we're still restricted to having to wait until tomorrow for our stuff. But what if you want something a bit quicker?

Udozi is the app that is trying to solve this problem. It's been out on the iPhone for over a year now - and has today launched on Android. The idea is that it's like every other shopping app - but will tell you which shops locally have whatever you're looking for in stock.

It's a great idea - and something I've wanted for ages. You simply plug in your location, what you want and whether you're walking or driving and it'll search:

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Then bring up the most relevant results:

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Before offering details on the product and how to get to the shop:

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But does it work? The company claims to have 160 national chains and independent retailers on board, having opened their inventories - including the likes of Toys R Us, Maplin and Evans Cycles.

I had a go with the app from central London and results were certainly a mixed bag. "PS4" turning up nothing, and "iPad" only returning accessories - all listed from the same particular shop. Even a search for "trousers" returned only four pairs (!) from the same obscure shop - so there's clearly a long way to go before the coverage is quite there. If they can get all of the big highstreet retailers on board (think all of the shops on Oxford Street), they'd be sorted and it could be genuinely useful... but now unless you're looking for an Evans branded bike-pump, it leaves something to be desired.

Still - give it a download, as that will mean the presumably small company will be able to boast more users in order to get the bigger stores on board - which will mean a better service for everyone!

5 new Android homescreen launchers to try

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The great thing about Android is that it's just so customisable compared to iPhone. Not only can you install apps and widgets, but you can even install entire new homescreen launchers - replacing the app that launches apps on your phone. There's loads of great options - and here's our pick of five of the most interesting.

Top 10 Free Christmas Apps for Android

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Yesterday we covered iOS apps, but today is the turn of Android - as Christmas hurtles towards us, what can you do on your phone to make the mood a little more seasonal? Here's our pick of ten free Christmas apps for Android.

HTC One Max.jpgType: Android phablet
Price as reviewed: £500

Things have been tricky for HTC over the past few years - mainly due to competition from rivals such as Samsung and Apple. Anyhow, despite this, they have managed to create possibly one of the world's sexiest Android smartphones - the One. And now we have a much larger, coughs, phablet, version of it, the One Max, matching the recent trend of phone-tablet hybrids that seem to be slowly taking over the whole marketplace.

Design

The One Max is an absolutely huge handset measuring in at 164.5 x 82.5 x 10.3mm - which isn't at all good for keeping in the average trouser pocket. Well, unless you want literally half of the Max hanging out of it? I also found it very heavy, weighing 217g. This reflects on the fact that it has been made out of metal, just like original One, which I suppose is nice as it feels a lot more expensive to hold when compared to the Note III, but I know there are a lot of people out there who would find it too large and heavy to use comfortably.

The front of the One Max is where you're going to find the 5.9- inch display (that's bigger than the Note III, but smaller than the Sony Xperia Z Ultra and Samsung Galaxy Mega), BoomSound dual front stereo speakers, along with basic stuff such as the speakerphone, front-facing camera and sensors. I personally find the overall handset attractive, but the front just does it for me: I'm geeky like that.

Now let's look around the sides of the phone: the left houses a button that allows you to take the Max's battery cover off, with the volume rocker (which was extremely responsive when in use) and power/lock button (also responsive) placed on the right. You'll find the micro-USB port down the bottom and the 3.5mm headphone jack at the top. Very basic stuff, but nicely placed, in all honesty.

The back is very interesting. First of all, it's concave in appearance, offering up a metal back-plate as opposed to a full unibody. The plate keeps the battery from falling out of the One Max - although I really did find it very flimsy when testing - and it's not exactly easy to get on and off. But more than this, you can see the camera lens and LED flash, along with that all-important fingerprint sensor (which I'll take about later on) and the wireless charging sensors.

Display

With most of the HTC products that I've reviewed before, I've always found their displays rather impressive. Again, I'm impressed with a display on a HTC product - the One Max which sports a 5.9-inch panel with a 1080x1920 resolution. I did a few tests inside and outdoors, was really happy with the quality that I got. Colours look overall sharp and vibrant, and the contrast was also good. It's also worth mentioning that the touchscreen technology used is nice and responsive. No problems there.

Interface

The One Max comes running on the Android Jelly Bean operating system, with HTC's Sense 5.5 actually powering the whole user experience. I personally would have liked to have seen the latest version of Android, KitKat, but I suppose we all have some sort of whacky dream. That said, I had no problems with Jelly Bean whatsoever, although the Sense UI, I thought, looks rather cluttered.

Fingerprint scanning

Just like the iPhone 5S, the One Max comes with the ability to use your fingerprints as a means of security. Whilst it seems good and all, I don't think it's as good as what Apple has done with its TouchID method - I just found the whole process of setting it up rather annoying and frustrating, added with the fact that it wouldn't even recognise any of my fingers. Also, I think the sensor itself (located on the back of the Max) is dull and ugly. Looks like I have something against fingerprint scanners.

Media

One of the most attractive things about the Max has to be its entertainment capabilities. It has a gorgeous HD display for watching movies on, along with two BoomSound stereo speakers that are built for crystal clear sound. I killed two birds with one stone by watching a mini movie on YouTube, testing the video and sound quality at the same time. I was very impressed.

Power

The Max is a very fast when in use, thanks to a 1.7GHz quad-core processor and 2GB of RAM. To test its capabilities, I played a game of Angry Birds (a less power-consuming game) and a racing stimulator (a more power-consuming game), and had no problems at all. This just goes to show that the processor is excellent. You can also choose between 16/32GB of memory and get a 3300mAh battery that's capable of lasting a day after being fully charged.

Camera

Possibly one of the Max's headline features is its 4- megapixel camera based on HTC's UltraPixel technology. The quality of photos taken in daylight are amazing. But despite this, I wasn't that impressed when it came to using the camera in the dark - it just seems that the flash isn't strong or bright enough to fix this problem. On a more positive note, you get full HD recording at 1080p that's capable of producing amazing videos - both during the day and night.

Verdict

If you're willing to carry around a phone that's almost the size of a skateboard, then the One Max could be the perfect option to go for. Ignore that - even though it's big - because the Max is seriously an impressive handset, despite having some flaws. Maybe not as good as the Note III, but I still personally like it.

rsz_1tumblr_inline_mx5s24djec1rkrghv.jpgType: Android phablet
Price as reviewed: £450

The Samsung Galaxy Note 3 combines the Note moniker's raison d'etre for combining both the power and performance of a tablet PC, but all chucked into the slim body of a phablet. Thanks to that glorious 5.7inch screen it has been built to add delight to daily tasks such as browsing the internet, playing games and watching videos. It also sports an overall improved design and spec line-up when compared to its predecessor.

Design

Ok, so it is big, but then again nowhere near the size of the Galaxy Mega. It measures in at 151.2 x 79.2 x 8.3 mm, which means that you could well need a suitcase to carry it in. Maybe that is a bit of an over exaggeration, because it should fit into most trouser pockets quite reasonably - but it's definitely a large device to use as your daily driver. However, in saying that, it is a lot lighter than its competitors, weighing only 158g.

Looking at the front of the Note III, you can clearly see that it is a Samsung product due to the fact that it sports pretty much the same layout that has been used right across the Galaxy range for the last two years. The rest of the Note III's facial is dominated by the 5.7- inch display that I have already said is large.

On the left side, you'll find the volume rocker which I personally found very responsive, with the power on/off button located to the right that also felt extremely good to use. The top houses a 3.5mm headphone jack, with the Micro-USB placed at the bottom, alongside the loudspeaker.

The back is where you'll find the camera sensor, but interestingly, it now offers up a faux leather look, which I found much more appealing and nicer to touch and feel when compared to other Galaxy Models that I've seen in the past. Some people do dislike that it's not real leather, but it works for me.

Display

Samsung has an excellent track record for producing gorgeous displays, and they have done it yet again with the Note III. Thanks to its 1080x1920 resolution, colours look amazing, perfect for watching a movie or two. And when I took it outside (on a nice day), I found out that it's viable when in the sunlight - which impressed me, because when testing the Note II back in 2012, I found that it needed to improve in this area. Plus, the 5.7- inch touchscreen is nice and responsive to use.

Interface

Samsung's TouchWiz user interface, chucked on top of Android Jelly Bean, is in my opinion, much better than the stock version and competing UIs such as HTC's Sense. I love the whole simplicity of the UI and how sleek it is, yet sporting apps that you could arguably say are suited for people who you may call 'tech experts'. And if you want to download more, then you can easily head over to the Google Play Store where there are thousands of options to choose from.

One of the main plus points of the Android operating system has to be the ability to personalise the whole layout. During the testing process, I haven't once stopped fiddling with the Note III's homescreen, constantly adding new widgets and taking old ones away. Don't ask, but I've always found that a lot of fun! Perhaps it's because I've been using iOS for far too long.

One of the main software features of the Note III is the ability to use the S Pen - which has been redesigned, now looking a lot better than ever before - to take down notes and draw pictures. I found the S Pen very useful when I needed to write something down and couldn't find a pen or any paper. Some people won't like it, but others will think it's awesome.

Media

I have to be honest, the Note III is probably one of the best options to go for should you want a device for entertainment purposes. Watching videos and playing games is a dream, and it has a good speaker, too.

Power

If you pay more for a phone, then the chances are that it's going to be impressive in terms of power and performance. The Note III is exactly that, producing amazing speeds as the result of a quad-core 2.3GHz processor, backed up with 3GB of RAM and choices of 16/32/64GB of memory. The battery life was also great, lasting a whole day and a bit on a full charge - much better than my iPhone 5.

Camera

With the Note III, you get a 13- megapixel camera and 4K video recording - a feature for Samsung to brag about, as it's something most current smartphones/phablets don't offer. In terms of the overall quality, I was very happy with photos taken with the Note III, although I didn't really find the flash strong enough when using the camera in the night. However, in saying that, I had no obvious problems when it came to taking videos - the quality is quite superb - I really do mean that.

Verdict

The Note III may be huge, but it's certainly not as big as some of the phablets that you can find on the market today - using the HTC One Max as a great example - meaning that if you want a something bigger than the average smartphone, yet don't want it to be humongous, then the Note III could be the best option to go for. This is a sound re-invention of what is fast becoming a classic device.

samsung-galaxy-granbd2.jpgSo, after the Galaxy Note 3 and the Galaxy mega Samsung has announced the impending arrival of yet another large screen mobile, The Galaxy Grand 2 boasts a 5.25-inch display with a resolution of 1,280 x 720 with a 16:9 aspect ratio.

It also comes with a quad-core 1.2GHz processor, just 8GB of internal flash storage and a 2,600mAh battery with a promised 17 hours of call time and 10 hours of video playback. There is also an 8-megapixel rear camera which is accompanied by a slew of Samsung software features like Best Face, Best Photo and Continuous Shot.

It comes in white or pink and features twin SIM card slots but is not 4G compatible.

I guess this is Samsung offering a lower specced cheaper big screen phone largely for buyers in emerging markets. There are no details yet on whether the handset will be available in Europe or the US. I hope they do bring it over as I think it could tempt some British buyers who liked the idea of the Galaxy mega, but may have been put off by its non Quad core processor.

Samsung Galaxy Mega review

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Type: Android smartphone

Price as reviewed: £300

Fancy a really big phone? Well Samsung isn't just touting its high-end Galaxy S3 Note. There's also a cut down version - the Mega - which sports a huge 6.3inch display. That's significantly bigger than the Note 3. In fact only the Sony Xperia Z Ultra - from the big name makers at least - is bigger. Yet the specs, and the price are lower than the Note 3. I get the impression that this is aimed at people who can't afford both a tablet and a phone. In fact Samsung has even muttered about students being its prime audience.

Design

When you take the Galaxy Mega out of its box, the size is a real shock! It really is almost comparable to a 7-inch tablet...it's that big. And due to it being so humongous, I found it very hard at first to comfortably hold it. After a while, using it with one hand become easier, although you'll probably want to use two hands just in case you were to end up dropping the Mega or even causing physical damage to your arm or hand. It's also worth mentioning that it's not the lightest of devices at 199g, either.

Looking around the Galaxy Mega, you get a 3.5mm audio jack at the top, with the volume rocker on the left side, the power/lock button to the right, and the micro-USB charging port placed at the bottom - everything placed nicely as they should be! And all the elements are lovely and responsive to use.

Probably the biggest attraction - and excuse the pun - has to be the Mega's gigantic 6.3- inch display. Sporting a resolution of 720x1280 pixels (note the Sony Xperia Z Ultra and Galaxy Note S3's screens are both 1080 x 1920 pixels), colours are not only sharp, but they're also vibrant and bold - perfect for watching plenty of YouTube videos. And thanks to the responsive capacitive touchscreen technology used, I had no problems whatsoever when navigating around the display.

Under the hood, the Mega is powered by a somewhat disappointing dual-core processor clocked at 1.7GHz, mainly because you would expect to see a high-end smartphone, especially a phablet, sporting a quad-core version. But nevertheless, I had no problems when it came to the overall performance - probably down to the fact that there's plenty of memory (8/16GB) and 1.5GB RAM. It has more than enough oomph for most applications, it just isn't as speedy and as highly specified as some of its rivals.

Interface and apps

While the Galaxy Mega is pre-loaded with Android Jelly Bean, Samsung's very own TouchWiz user interface is way more apparent. I currently use an iPhone, but I have used a few Samsungs in the past, and happen to really like TouchWiz - I find it sleeker and packing more punch that its HTC counterpart, Sense. Maybe that's just me, but I just think it is a lot easier to use and really enjoy customising the homescreen with the variation of Samsung widgets that are available to use.

More on the Google side of things, you get access to many of the search engine's popular apps such as Gmail, Talk and Google Plus, as well as the Play Store where you're able to download free and paid items such as apps, games, magazines, e-books, music and movies - just like with iTunes.

The stock browser is also impressive. I found it very easy to use and I really liked the overall look and feel of it! Plus, because of the Mega's huge display, I had no problems when it came to using the keyboard - its keys are spaced out well and it was very responsive. It made messaging a dream, too.

Another thing that I was happy with when testing was the dial pad. Again, just like the built-in keyboard, the keys have been spaced out nicely to ensure you never accidently press a different number. And call quality is excellent too.

Camera

Samsung has supplied the Galaxy Mega with a 1.9- megapixel front-facing camera for video calling, along with an 8- megapixel rear-facing sensor and 1080p video recording for serious stills and videos.

When using the camera for stills, I was very happy with the user interface - again, very easy to use - as it should be! And I was well impressed with the quality of my photos: they look lovely and crisp, along with the videos that I took.

Battery life

When it came to battery life, I never encountered any time where I was faced with the handset running out - unlike my beloved iPhone 5 - this is all thanks to the Mega's 3200mAh battery.

Verdict

Personally, I'm a huge fan of the Galaxy Mega and what it stands for. If you want an inexpensive big screen mobile, and aren't too fussed about the latest super fast processor and the highest res screen, this is ideal.


Review by Nicholas Fearn of GadgetXpert
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It sounds like Samsung has plans to take its curved screen mobile on another step next year. Bloomberg is reporting that the Korean ginsta have hatched plans to release a mobile phone with a screen that wraps around the edges. The idea being that users will be able to read messages keep up with news by looking at the phone from an angle.

Blomberg says

The phone will use an upgraded version of Samsung's technology called Youm, currently featured in the Galaxy Round handset that curves upward, the people said, asking not to be identified because the plans haven't been released. The three-sided display may be used in the S or Note series of handsets or may be the first in a new line not yet named, the people said. Samsung plans to have the three displays operate independently.

As ever it is an uncredited leak - but it would be incredible if samsung, and indeed Apple too- wasn't working on a something like this to differentiate their handsets from their smartphone rivals.

Samsung showed the Youm handset for the first time at the CES show in Las Vegas in January 2013. It would therefore be true to form to follow up with its latest incarnation at CES 2014.

Medion-lifetab-E7312_03_horiz_ASDA.1.jpgIn the market for a cheap-ish Android tablet? Well now you have another model to add to your list. German maker Medion has just launched a £77 7" Android 4.1 Jelly Bean tablet - the MEDION LIFETAB E7310 - which is going on sale at Asda.

Specs are pretty much what you'd expect, solid but rather basic, It weighs 305g, is equipped with a dual-core processor, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and front and rear facing cameras. ring outstanding value for money.

Screen-wise the model has a multitouch display with 1024 x 600 pixels. Inside is features an ARM Cortex A9 1.4 GHz dual-core processor, 8GB internal memory (which can be expanded by up to 64 GB using a microSD, microSDHC or microSDXC memory card) and a USB 2.0 connection

It features 2 MP camera on the rear and a 0.3 MP front camera.and comes with a range of apps built in including 'Documents to Go' and the creative application 'Drawing Pad'

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