Type: 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
So, 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
In 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'
If you've got an Android phone, then the customisation of your phone doesn't just end with your background image and apps - you can do things right on your homescreen, to save fiddling around with an app to complete common tasks. Here's our pick of the five best home screen widgets.
A few years ago the HTC Desire was the Android phone to have. Elegantly designed, it could do everything an iPhone could, but at a better price. Then the Samsung Galaxy came along, and dominated the Android field.
Suddenly it seemed like everyone had a Galaxy... apart from me. I opted for the battery gobbling HTC Desire HD rather than a Galaxy S2 - which was like the larger, uglier, deceased younger brother of the original Desire.
Back to 2013 and HTC have recently released the Desire 500 - can they win back my love? Here's my review.
The 500 is squarely aimed at the midmarket Android user. The top end has the metallic HTC One now, leaving the plastic 500 to those on a budget. This said - it still feels solidly built.
The screen is a fairly large 4.3" though perhaps disappointingly, isn't HD - running at only 848x480 resolution. What appears on it still looks nice and crisp - it's only when playing a HD video that you notice the things start to look a bit fuzzy.
Surprisingly despite HTC's endless TV adverts touting the dual speakers on the HTC One, this new 500 only has a single speaker. It does the job, but it doesn't actually blow you away.
Interestingly too, unlike some Android devices, the Home and the back buttons are still buttons on the casing - not just sat permanently at the bottom of the screen. They're not proper buttons - but the touch sort that you don't press down or pop up. You know what I mean.
Perhaps the biggest thing to note isn't what's there, but what is missing. Unlike other Android phones, the 500 doesn't have an easily removable battery. You can replace it - but this entails snapping off the entire back cover of the phone. Not the end of the world but more fiddly than would be ideal.
On the inside, it's powered by a 1.2ghz Qualcomm Snapdragon 200 - not the fastest processor in the world, but it still seemed to do most things okay. Switching between apps still felt fast and quick, even when switching between fullscreen video and web browsing. Similarly there's 1GB of RAM - which seems about standard with other phones in this bracket.
Unfortunately storage is only 4GB - which on the review phone I was sent, was almost running out with very little installed on there - so you're definitely going to want to expand it with a MicroSD card - which sadly isn't included.
Connectivity-wise the phone has everything you'd expect - all of the normal wifi and bluetooth standards, as well as DLNA for media streaming and there's even NFC, which is a nice bonus.
Camera-wise, again nothing spectacular - but competent. There's an 8 megapixel rear camera and a 1.6MP on the front - and it can shoot in 720p.
On the software side, the phone is running Android Jellybean, albeit a version covered in HTC's own custom software. For Android purists, this is likely to irritate (and I bet it'll mean you'll have to wait longer for the KitKat upgrade), but HTC Sense seems to have come along leaps and bounds since the Desire HD.
Perhaps the biggest difference, if you've not used an HTC recently is the addition of "BlinkFeed" to your home screen. What this does is aggregate different sources of updates together - so once you've provided the right credentials, it'll show a selection of your tweets, and Facebook updates, as well news stories from a variety of sources including many newspapers. Whether you want to be confronted with the mugshot of the latest murderer when you unlock your phone though, is up to you.
The phonebook nicely integrates with Twitter and Facebook accounts too, so you can get a snapshot of what they're up to before calling.
Plus HTC Sense provide an additional backup solution - ideal for paranoid.
My one worry with all of this though is what it will do to battery life - if the homescreen is refreshing every few minutes, and the Twitter entries in your phonebook do the same... that's a lot of data and a lot of processing. So don't be surprised if you end up switching these off so your phone will last more than a few hours.
All in all, the HTC Desire 500 seems like a competent piece of hardware. As a midmarket phone it fill it's role very comfortably - offering a slick Android experience at what will no doubt be a reduced price.
If you're looking for something new and don't want to break the bank, this could be a good choice - but if you're a "power user", then you might want to look elsewhere.
Type: Android Jelly Bean tablet PC
Price as reviewed: £199
At the end of the day, not everyone has a wallet beefed up enough to be able to purchase a tablet such as an Apple iPad or Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1, however there are plenty of other options out there that are, well almost as impressive - and the Archos 101 Platinum is one of them - a budget Android tablet built to impress those looking for a tablet that's both decent and affordable.
The 101 Platinum is very similar to some of Archos's other tablets that we've seen announced over the last few months, sporting the typical boxy, square-like design. While some people do prefer to have tablets with rounded edges so that they can hold them in comfort, the 101 Platinum feels extremely good to hold in the hand - partly due to the fact that it has been created out of solid plastic and aluminium. And this is shocking, because it only costs £199.
So where's the trade off? Well this isn't the thinnest tablet on the market though at 10mm, neither is it the lightest at 636g. However looking around the 101 Platinum, you'll notice the usual techie bits'n'bobs. At the top of the tablet, you get nothing, with the left side housing the power key that also doubles up as the lock button, the volume rocker, a micro SD card slot, along with two connectivity ports, the charger port - which is annoyingly made for Archos's own tablet charger - and the 3.5mm jack for things audio related.
The front is dominated by a rather large 10.1-inch capacitive touchscreen, offering up a 1280x800 resolution that's capable of providing some sharp tones and bold colours. Again though it's far from the best out there and is certainly no match for the iPad's Retina display.
Powered by a quad-core processor clocked at a promising 1.6GHz, the tablet is capable of carrying out perpetual tasks on a regular basis, proving to be one of fastest budget tablets that you can currently find on the market. Also, you get 2GB of RAM and 8GB of internal storage - and while this can be expanded via the micro SD card slot, it's just not a good enough to see only one memory option.
Price is probably the reason why Archos has decided to keep the overall Android Jelly Bean operating system at a more stock experience. Although one could easily argue that it would've been nice to have seen some sort of personalisation attempt from Archos, helping them differentiate from the constantly growing competition out there.
Being a typical Android device, you get access to all of Google's services such as Gmail, YouTube and Maps, with the ability to download a lot more from the Play Store - the place where you'll be able to find apps and games. It's also worth commenting on the fact that the tablet's stock browser is great to use.
Media playback and gaming
Archos has always been known for its excellent entertainment devices, although sadly, the 101 Platinum isn't exactly the best tablet for solely watching videos and listening to music on - video and sound quality are acceptable rather than inspired.
You get a 2- megapixel rear-camera, along with a front-facing for video calling, as well as HD video recording. Sadly this is one of the worst cameras I have seen on a tablet. Colours just lack clarity and colour.
The 101 Platinum features a rather decent battery that's capable of getting you through a full day - maybe not as impressive as rival, pricier tablets - but it's still impressive, nevertheless.
If you are in the market for a 10inch tablet the 101 Platinum is well worth considering. While the camera and sound quality are not the best, you're still getting an impressive package for just £199! The tablet's metal casing and impressive display - not to mention the fast processor - give it the edge over many of its budget rivals.
Review by Nicholas Fearn of GadgetXpert
On a limited budget but want a tablet? Why settle for a 7" tablet when - if you're prepared to look beyond the big brands - there are some ten-inchers that could fill the the tablet-shaped hole in your life. Here's some of the cheapest.
With Halloween less than a week away, it's time to get in the spirit of things! Here's five top Halloween games for your Android phone.
Do not adjust your display. pic.twitter.com/9VjNt34iYH— @evleaks (@evleaks) October 8, 2013
Big news from Samsung it seems that the curved smartphone that has been doing the rounds is imminent. An image of the device have been leaked on Twitter alongside a crescendo of gossip that the phone will be announced on October 10th - that's tomorrow. The rumour has been sparked by the date on the phone.
Samsung has been experimenting with flexible screens for a while and showed its first version at CES in January.
So Tesco have announced that they're getting into the tablet game with the announcement of the Hudl tablet. Running Android Jellybean 4.2.2, has a 7" 1440x900 screen, and will only set you back £119. Presumably they can afford to be so competitive because the point of the tablet is to point you into the direction Tesco's built-in money-spinners, like the Blinkbox on-demand film service.
Personally, I'm looking forward to the inevitable Hudl Extra, which will be the size of an aircraft hanger, and Hudl Metro, which will be tiny but found seemingly every 300m in South London.
But what if you don't want to, well, Hudl? What if you want to go your own way? There's plenty of choice out there, and here are five of the most interesting alternatives.
So this winter looks like being a bumper one for big screen mobiles aka Phablets. The Sony Xperia Ultra Z is already in the stores with the Samsung's Galaxy Note 3 set to follow soon and whispers of a Nokia big screen mobiles too. And now HTC is set to follow suite with the HTC One Max - a phone that is rumoured to sport a 5.9inch screen.
Chinese social network Sina Weibo has published these images of what it claims is the device alongside Samsung's 5.7-inch Galaxy Note 3 and it does seem to suggest that the mobie will have a 5.9inch screen .
Other features that are also being suggested are a 1080p display, a 3,300 mAh battery, a Snapdragon 600 processor, and 2GB of RAM. The rumours also say that the large version of the HTC One won't share its smaller sibling's key features- that stunning aluminium screen and instead will be made from a combination of plastic and aluminum.
If you were intrigued by the Samsung Galaxy Gear watch but a bit disappointed that it only worked with one phone - the Note 3 - and not the S4 you splashed the cash on a few months back, we may have some good news.
Cnet is reporting that a Korean news site Daum is suggesting that version two of the phone is in the pipeline and will arrive next year. And among the many enhancements are that it will work with a wider range of phones. The site says that the second iteration of the watch could be unveiled at CES in January
This is not an especially surprising move. It was massively important for Samsung to get there first with the smartwatch ahead of Apple. However by limiting its distribution Samsung could gauge reaction to the watch's launch as well buy a bit of development time before it made the device more widely available.
It is clear that the Gear is nowhere near the finished product. It might have some interesting and innovative features such as the apps and the camera, but I wonder if the Gear is really just a prototype to establish the market sector with the more finished device following next year.
Samsung might also look at the price too. Samsung, like Apple, is keen to lock consumers into sticking with its mobiles and if you buy a watch that works with a certain brand's phone then you are likely to stay with that brand when it comes to an upgrade. So maybe Samsung will reduce that rather aggressive $300 price too.
Here's why the smartwatch battle is so important to both Samsung and Apple.
Well now that we know all about what Apple have planned for the next few months the limelight turns once back onto Samsung and how the Korean company will respond to some of the innovations that the US company unveiled on Tuesday.
So no surprises then that Samsung is already hyping up the samsung Galaxy S5 and suggesting that it will have that gamer-friendly 64-bit processing.
The company's co-CEO JK Shin told Korea Times that the next generation of high-end Samsung Galaxy phones will have 64-bit processing."Not in the shortest time. But yes, our next smartphones will have 64-bit processing functionality,"
Although he didn't implicitly say the S5 you can be that's where 64 bit processing will debut
There is also growing speculation about what the phone will like too. It seem very likely now that Samsung will ditch the plastic for its flagship mobile and opt for metal
There are already rumours that the new phone will sport an improved 16 megapixel camera too.
And as for that fingerprint sensor... Well there were rumours that Samsung was going to beat Apple to the punch by unveiling the innovation on the Galaxy Note 3. It didn't materialise, but surely it will be part of the specifications of future Samsung mobiles.
We have written lots about Sony's new high-end mobile the Xperia Z1 in the last few months. If you want a good summary of all it can do - check here.
Anyway now it is finally here and you can see a video of it in action.
Just to recap - it sports a 20.7MP camera sensor, a 5-inch 1080p display and a Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 quad-core processor all wrapped up in a very cool waterproof shell.
Doro, the Swedish company that makes simple to use mobile phones is back with a new model. The Doro Liberto 810 keeps the company's trademark ultra accessible interface - the - but wraps it around an Android 4.1 based smartphone. I guess the theory is that you can work out how to do the basics from day one and then maybe explore more of your handset as time goes by.
It is also light and comes with a soft touch casing. The company believes that the simple to follow icons and trio of prominent physical keys on the handset shouldn't fox anyone.
The phone also incorporates the predictive text on steroids system Swiftkey and comes with a specially curated selection of apps from the Google Play store.
Chris Millington, Managing Director of Doro UK and Ireland says: "The name Liberto was specifically chosen for our new smartphone as it sums up the essence of the device perfectly. In ancient Rome, servants and slaves of the empire could earn their full citizenship to become fully contributing members of society. Such people were known collectively as 'the Liberto'. This new mobile helps people, who might be hesitant about using a smartphone, to fully embrace modern society. We are liberating those who perceive smartphones to be overly complicated and crowded with difficult-to-use apps. Our new mobile will bring them into a world of technology in a positive and engaged way.
It will be available in the UK next month.
Like Samsung Sony have traditionally used IFA to unveil its premium products and this year it could be all about a new high-end phone. It has pretty much confirmed that it will use IFA to launch the the Xperia Z1 which has been referred to in the past as the Sony Honami.
It is a top-end mobile whose headline feature is a groundbreaking twenty mega pixel camera which will be powered by its own dedicated shooting button.
The phone is also likely to tick all the high-end spec boxes in that it will feature a 5-inch 1080p display, boast a Snapdragon 800 quad-core processor, backed by 2GB of RAM, 16GB of internal storage, plus 4G LTE, NFC and a 3,000mAh battery are also on board
It will be waterproof too like the other Xperia mobiles.
Sony is also likely to debut a new type of laptop tablet hybrid which sounds like a reinvention of the VAIO Duo 11.
After all that talk of the iWatch it appears that Samsung is going to get there first with its Galaxy Gear smart watch. We don't know a huge amount about the watch at present except to say that it will team up wirelessly via Bluetooth with Galaxy mobiles and offer truncated versions of the stuff that you do on those handsets, So alerts for incoming calls, text messages, Twitter and facebook updates and plenty more. It is also likely to have some dedicated features built in too and expect an app rush as developers come up with innovative add-ons for it.
As for specs we are expecting a 2.5-inch screen, dual-core processor, sensors for fitness tracking and some kind of camera which should link directly with the phone.
One thing that won't be happening is a flexible display - so if you want to get an idea of what it might look like check out the recent Sony smartwatches.