Posts by Joe Levi

Joe graduated from Weber State University with two degrees in Information Systems and Technologies. He has carried mobile devices with him for more than a decade, including Apple's Newton, Microsoft's Handheld and Palm Sized PCs, and is Pocketnow's "Android Guy". By day you'll find Joe coding web pages, tweaking for SEO, and leveraging social media to spread the word. By night you'll probably find him writing technology and "prepping" articles, as well as shooting video. Read more about Joe Levi here.

Contact Joe Levi

  • by |

    For those of you keeping track, until a few weeks ago my daily driver was the Motorola-made Nexus 6. For the time being I've switched to the LG G4 with the Qi wireless charging hack Michael Fisher told you about. What you may not know is that I almost didn't purchase my Nexus 6 - at the time I felt it was simply "too big". At the time, the next runner up was the Moto X. I went with the Nexus, and after a week I was convinced that I'd made the right choice. But the times, they are a-changin'! My experience with the G4 has helped to solidify my opinion that Android has matured to the extent ...

    Share
  • by |

    Despite smartphones powered by Android occupying the #1 position these days, because of their various shapes and sizes, it still seems like I see iPhones more frequently than any other phone out there. That's why I was ecstatic when, while waiting in line at Disneyland, I saw a man talking on a OnePlus One. It's the first time I'd ever seen one "in the wild". Before I got the chance to talk with him about it he disappeared into the crowd. Why was I so impressed with the sighting? The OnePlus One was supposed to be the flagship smartphone that upset the establishment. From a price and ...

    Share
  • by |

    As efforts like After The Buzz, the Pocketnow U-Review, and Empty Nest demonstrate, we’re constantly searching for fresh ways to review mobile technology. The newest product of those efforts is Pocketnow’s “Review Rebuttal” series, in which a member of our team is assigned to test a smartphone or tablet that’s already gone through our standard review process. While the resulting video or editorial doesn’t affect the “official” Pocketnow review score, we hope it provides added context by showcasing an editor’s personal opinion, rather than a team-wide consensus. We call it ...

    Share
  • by |

    When looking at smartphones and tablets, we often obsess over cores and gigs and screen sizes. While all those are important to weigh when evaluating a device, the component we see the most - that we interact with the most - is the screen. When talking about computers in days gone by, the fight was between LCD (liquid crystal display) and CRT (cathode ray tube) - with CRT eventually becoming all but a footnote in the annals of history. Today, the battle is between LCD and LED (light emitting diode) - more specifically between IPS and AMOLED. IPS LCD IPS (in-plane switching) was ...

    Share
  • by |

    None of us "like" out-of-date things. Updates to apps and operating systems bring us new features, improved functionality, better user interfaces, and (most importantly) bug fixes. We all hate bugs, but bugs vary in severity from mildly frustrating to zero-day security holes that can be exploited to do all kinds of nasty stuff. Depending on their type and scope, patches and updates aren't things that arrive on our smartphones and tablets all that easily. Each bringing its own set of challenges and frustrations. Apps Applications get updated with whatever frequency their developers deem ...

    Share
  • by |

    Back when Google first introduced its Play Music All Access service, with unlimited "radio stations", I signed up, eager to try it out. After taxes the service cost me US$8.51/month - the same as my Netflix subscription. I quickly found that I didn't listen to music as much as I thought I did, and cancelled the service, pocketing the money to spend on other things. Friends and co-workers swore by various streaming services like Spotify, Pandora, Songr, Rdio, SoundCloud, and others, but I didn't like gobbling up my data to play my music (even though T-Mobile later made all that free). ...

    Share
  • by |

    Across these United States we use an Emergency Services System that we refer to simply as "9-1-1". Those are the digits that you press on any phone when you need to save a life, stop a crime, or report a fire. For all other purposes, callers should contact non-emergency services - at least that's the message from the Utah Department of Public Safety. Unfortunately, that leaves a lot out. For example, the other day while driving to our property to check on the construction progress of our new house I noticed a semi in front of me cutting cars off and weaving in his lane. As I fell in behind ...

    Share
  • by |

    We have smart phones. We have smart cars. Some of us even have smart homes - but the smart homes of yesterday usually have to be professionally wired and programmed. Thanks to modern technology, the capabilities of smart homes are changing, and the interoperability of devices with each other, and controllability from our smartphones and tablets is finally within reach of the average person. Unfortunately, all these different components that go into a smart home are fairly disconnected from each other. We rely on services like IF (formerly IFTTT) and apps like Tasker to build recipes and ...

    Share
  • by |

    The movie Terminator Genisys is in theaters now, and is warning us away from computers that think for themselves (remember, Genisys is Skynet!). No, Pocketnow didn't turn into a movie reviews website while you weren't looking, but the movie does draw some parallels with the topic, so we'll run with it. Just in case you didn't know (SPOILER ALERT!), in the Terminator stories, Skynet becomes self-aware and all but destroys humanity. The way it does this is through a computer technology called "machine learning", and Google has just deployed it to fight spam in your inbox. Machine learning ...

    Share
  • by |

    Why do so many corporations support BlackBerry and iOS, but not Android? That's a question I get asked quite often, and one that I find myself in the middle of with my own employer. I don't work for Pocketnow full-time. I've got a day job with a manufacturing company right here in Northern Utah. While this takes time away from reviewing awesome new hardware and hacking custom ROMs and Kernels on my platform of choice, it gives me a unique perspective. I carry an Android that I bought with my own money even though my day job offered to buy an iPhone for me. That choice came with some ...

    Share
  • by |

    We've all experienced it, as time passes our smartphones and tablets seem to get slower and slower. We've told ourselves that it's just all the crap valuable software that we have installed. We've told ourselves that applications keep getting bigger and more complex (and ultimately slower). We aren't wrong. All those things contribute to both actual and perceived slowdowns, but there may be one other contributing factor that is not only slowing us down, but hurting battery life in the process. How much? According to one study, smartphones could be 20 times faster and battery life could be ...

    Share
  • by |

    Reading the articles on Pocketnow, you might think that everything is always perfect and that we never have problems with our tech. That couldn't be further from the truth! Here are just a few tech failures that I've had to deal with this week. Do you have the time? I love my Moto 360 smartwatch - despite the fact that changing the band on it literally drew blood. It gives me the information I need right when I need it, thanks to its always-on, battery munching Ambient Display. Earlier this week right around noon, I noticed a low-battery card pop up on the round display strapped to my ...

    Share
  • by |

    Ever since junior high school I've worn a smartwatch - whatever the definition of "smartwatch" was at the time. Whether it was a calculator watch with a calendar and contacts storage, or a watch with an altimeter, barometer, and moon phases, I tried to wear the latest tech on my wrist. Yeah, I'm a geek, but you already knew that. Most of those watches had plastic bands, but as I've gotten older I've gravitated to metal or leather bands. One of the first upgrades I performed on my LG G Watch was the installation of a black metal band. My Moto 360 came with an elegant leather band, but I ...

    Share
  • by |

    Founded in 1985, Qualcomm has made the processors that enable our mobile devices since it started making CDMA base stations in 1990. Since then the company has focused its attention on SoCs - systems on a chip - that are at the core of today's smartphones and tablets. Qualcomm is even taking aim at the processors that run in servers and datacenters and Snapdragon processors have even found their way into our smartwatches. Then the Snapdragon 810 was announced, and things started to go downhill - quickly. Snapdragon 810 To bring you up to speed on the Snapdragon 810 debacle, the chip ...

    Share
  • by |

    Whenever you look at a wireless provider's coverage map, you'll probably notice a few things right off: coverage is best in major population centers and along the highway corridors that connect them. Stray too far from either and your signal strength drops. Signal strength impacts more than you might think, and that drop happens more often that you might think and why you might want to pick up a signal booster for your car! Signal Boosters Put simply, a signal booster listens for radio waves on cellular frequencies, then boost them with an amplifier, and sends that signal to an antenna ...

    Share
  • by |

    T-Mobile has been doing some very "un-carrier" things for quite some time now. That's not by accident - instead it's a very strategic plan to woo customers away from the more "traditional" Stateside cellular providers and give them a taste of how things are across Europe and in other parts of the world. From all-but eliminating contracts to offering some of the only "unlimited" plans that still exist, T-Mobile has been boldly changing the way people look at and use cell phones, and with the recent unveiling of JUMP On Demand, it doesn't look like Magenta will be changing that anytime soon. ...

    Share
  • by |

    For those of you who didn't already know, I just got back from an epic road-trip vacation that covered more than 2,500 miles (4,000 km), and took me through four states. What's more, the route I selected took us through some very out-of-the-way locales and far from cellular data coverage. Being the tech nerd that I am, I loaded up my smartphone with Google Maps and went about pre-loading areas for offline use. When offline ability first came to Google Maps it was a pain to use. You'd select an arbitrary area, and zoom in and out until you could save the selection to your device. These ...

    Share
  • by |

    Contrary to some rumors circulating around the Internet, I'm not dead (not yet anyway) - I've just been on vacation for the last two-and-a-half weeks. I had a wonderful time with my family, saw some beautiful places, soaked up some sun, and spent way too much money on food. Since I am "Joe the Android Guy™" after all, I had plenty of tech in tow, but before we dive into that, let me give you a little background about how we went about our trip,then share some vacation tech tips to help your next excursion be more enjoyable. Including my mother-in-law, we have eight people in my ...

    Share
  • by |

    There are three major components to evaluate whenever you talk about network speed: latency, download speed, and upload speed. For most of us, that translates into "how fast does it load" when talking about web pages or other content, or "how high is the resolution" when streaming video. We've already gone through quite a few iterations of wireless systems, "5G" is arguably the fifth generation of mobile networks and is the "the next major phase of mobile telecommunications standards beyond the current 4G/IMT-Advanced standards". The Past Over the years there have been many standards for ...

    Share
  • by |

    You probably don't know this about me, and forgive me if it's TMI. Back in my college days I was recovering from an illness that caused short-term memory loss. My coping mechanism was writing everything down. Since analog notes are hard to search through, I turned to the digital world to get help me find whatever information I was looking for. One of my all time favorite devices at the time was the HP Jornada - which got me through a few years in college. It was durable, quick, and helped organize my life. This little device held my schedule in its calendar app, my personal and college ...

    Share
  • by |

    Snapdragon, MediaTek, Exynos, and A8 are  SoCs - systems on a chip - that might be powering your smartphone or tablet right now. All of these processors follow the RISC style of computer chip technology, unlike CISC (Complex Instruction Set Computing) chips which are typically based around the x86 or x64 platform and power most desktop and laptop computers these days. RISC chips feature a reduced instruction set and have been stereotypically "underpowered" compared to their CISC counterparts, and therefore limited to mobile applications. With the increase in capabilities and popularity ...

    Share
  • by |

    Back in the early days of cell phones in these United States, cellular phones were purchased from the carrier along with a service plan. Those plans came with ridiculous pricing by today's standards - some cost more than US$5 per minute! If you needed to replace your phone (if it was lost, stolen, broken, or even if you wanted to upgrade) you had to go back to your carrier and have them update your account to point the new device. Each device had a unique ID assigned to it, so this process wasn't particularly difficult, just inconvenient and fairly time consuming as you were forced ...

    Share
  • by |

    If you're reading this article, chances are that you own a smartphone - a device that's transforming the consumer electronics playing field. It's a remarkable little device, regardless of whatever operating system it runs, which cellular carrier it's on, or its formfactor. Almost universally, a smartphone has a touchscreen, a telephone capabilities, an additional speaker, a camera (sometimes two or more), a high-speed, always-on connection to the Internet, and a whole bevy of sensors. Because of it's jack-of-all-trades utility, the humble smartphone has been replacing what used to be ...

    Share
  • by |

    At the Google I/O 2015 keynote we were shown pieces of the next version of Android, currently codenamed "Android M". While we don't know what the final dessert name will be we were treated to a Developer Preview of Android M (just like last year with Android L). Not everything we saw in the keynote is available in the Developer Preview, but many of the features are. If you want to give the Developer Preview of Android M a try on your supported device, head over to the Android Developer website and flash away. It's buggy, as one might expect, so proceed at your own risk. In the meantime, ...

    Share
  • by |

    Today and tomorrow, Google is hosting its developer conference, Google I/O 2015. Like last year, we got to see the next version of Android for the very first time. Also like last year, Google isn't giving away the name of the next version, it's simply referred to as it's letter - in this case: Android M. This morning Dave Burke, VP Engineering (Android) at Google, took the stage, giving us all a first-hand look at Android M. Though nothing was mentioned about the version number of this upcoming release, the changes that were mentioned sound a lot like Android M will be version 5.2 rather ...

    Share
Mobile Version