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.

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    The day that they said would never come is finally here - well, sort of: Android Wear now works on iPhones! I know, I never thought I'd see the day, but here we are. Naysayers and critics will be quick to point out that only one wearable is officially supported, the LG Watch Urbane (for now). Not long after the announcement, however, we learned that the Moto 360 works just fine connected to an iPhone - but only if it runs Android Wear 1.3 (which doesn't come on the watch out of the box). That fun little tidbit gives us the impression that any smartwatch powered by Android Wear and running ...

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    Most phones these days have at least one camera - or more. The one that faces you is referred to as the "selfie-camera", and the other is usually called the "main camera". The one on the back is usually pretty high-end: several megapixels, image stabilization, LED flash, and oodles of more features. The one of the front usually is lower-end: fewer megapixels, no image stabilization, and an LED flash is all but non-existent. Part of the reason for all this is space - camera modules are fairly bulky and take up quite a bit of space inside a phone. The other reason? Cost. Cameras are fairly ...

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    Unless they're made by Apple, when you think about smartphones and tablets, chances are they've got a Qualcomm Snapdragon powering them. Generally speaking, when we rank devices they typically fall into one of those three categories: entry-level, entry level, midrange, and high-end. Oddly enough, Qualcomm's SoCs are also segmented by device class, but Qualcomm opted for four tiers (rather than three), this can make it a little confusing to tell which category a device falls into - such is the case with the Snapdragon 6xx family. According to Qualcomm, Snapdragon 6xx processors are ...

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    The LG G Watch and the Moto 360 caught my eye when Google introduced Android Wear. The G Watch beat Motorola to market, I bought it so I could go hands on with the new platform and the new OS. I didn't mind the squarish face, but I was really enamored with the round face of Motorola's watch - despite the "flat-tire" that so many complain about. As soon as the Moto 360 was available, I bought it. To this day, I haven't regretted the choice. The flat-tire doesn't even bother me like I thought it would (it's there to house the ambient light sensor, just in case you didn't know). There are, ...

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    When I wear a timepiece on my wrist it's got to do something more than just tell the time. My daily tasks are almost identical and I easily lose track of the day of the week. (Those of you who don't have that problem don't know the struggle which those of us who do go through on a day to day basis.) Nonetheless, today's watches generally solve that problem, displaying not only the time, but the day of the week and the day of the month. Smartwatches, on the other hand, display much, much more than that - if you want them to. In addition to all that, I also get notifications from my apps, I ...

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    HTC is no stranger to making striking hardware that performs well, but most of us likely think of the flagship One lineup when we hear the name HTC. The Desire brand, however, is a little bit different. Way back in the day, the original HTC Desire was basically a Nexus One with an optical sensor instead of the Nexus' roller ball. Since then the Desire family has slid into the mid-tier realm, and such is the case with the HTC Desire 626 which was just launched on AT&T. Like prior phones that carried the Desire moniker, this phone is a pleasant plastic unit with front-firing speakers. We ...

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    If you're an Android power user you're probably familiar with the name Francisco Franco. The franco.Kernel updater app (and associated Franco kernels) have long been a favorite among rooted users - myself included. But what happens when a developer turns their attention and talents away from kernels and governors and optimizing for thermal thresholds? In this case, they turn their attention to your pictures. Not long ago Google updated (or "replaced", depending on who you ask) its Gallery app with "Photos". Don't get me wrong, Photos is an awesome app with cloud integration, zooming, and ...

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    There was a time (not too long ago) when Samsung reigned supreme in the fuzzy space that existed somewhere between a smartphone and tablet. We dubbed these devices "phablets", and although that sounded pretty funny, the term sort of stuck. These devices bridged the gap between the previously distinctly different device types. Screens were bigger, that was the first thing you'd notice when comparing devices, but those weren't the only things that were different. Phablets generally had bigger, removable batteries, not just to power their larger screens, but to extend the usable time we ...

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    Samsung's Galaxy Note 5 is official and you'll be able to get one on August 21st. But is it still going to appeal to power users? Here's what Samsung took out of the Galaxy Note 5, and what was left in. Earlier today we talked about rumors which indicated that Samsung would be using a non-removable battery in the Note 5, and wouldn't be including a microsd slot. So far, those rumors seem to hold true - however, it might not be as bad as it seems. Removable Battery Unlike other Notes before it, the Note 5 will not be coming with a user replaceable battery. This means users will have to ...

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    Do you want to store your entire music collection on your phone? Would you like to have the movies you like on a card that you can carry with you everywhere you go, even if you're outside of data coverage (or have already burned through your allotted data)? Do you need a spare battery to help get you through the day, or make sure you have enough juice for an extra-long flight? Are you glad that you can pre-charge some batteries to take with you, so you don't have to be one of "those people" who is constantly searching for (and ultimately tethered to) an electrical outlet? Lucky for you, ...

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    HTC makes beautiful products. Historically, the company was selected by HP and Compaq (among others) to build the hardware that carried their corporate brands for years. Since then, HTC has tried to break into the market as its own brand - and has done remarkably well. When you think of smartphone brands, HTC ranks up near the top, alongside Apple, Samsung, and others. The financial side of the company, however, has been a bit more rocky. The solution? Following another difficult quarter with an operating loss of US$252 million, HTC makes cuts to try and restore profitability. Back in ...

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    As far as form-factor goes, the original Nexus 5 is arguably one of the best I've seen in the last several years - and that's saying a lot! Its 4.95-inch screen comprised almost 71% of the phone's face and hit the sweet spot between functional size and pocketability. That screen packed in the pixels, too, with a full HD (1080 x 1920) display at a pixel density of around 445 ppi. Sure, inner workings of the Nexus 5 are a bit dated by today's standards. A 32-bit, quad-core Snapdragon 800 clocked at 2.3 GHz, teamed up with an Adreno 330 GPU and 2GB RAM is a bit, well, "yesterday", and ...

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    It wasn't that long ago when Motorola was bought and later spun off from Google. Motorola is now held by Lenovo. Thankfully for us, much of what Motorola was before the Google acquisition has survived. Motorola's biggest strength has arguably been it's great hardware - and its direct-to-the-customer ability to customize those phones - to an extent. However, in 2015, that's all changed - and the 2015 Moto X makes it look like Motorola that we used to know may have lost its way. In recent years, Motorola highlighted three phones: The Moto E, Moto G, and Moto X. Each could be customized in ...

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    There was a time not that long ago when you could only buy an iPhone for use on AT&T's service. That was back in 2007. It wasn't until 2011 that Verizon and Sprint picked up the phone. Cricket and Virgin Wireless joined the party in 2012, and you couldn't get an iPhone on T-Mobile until 2013. (This didn't stop people from unlocking their iPhone and moving it to another carrier, but that's a different topic.) It took the late Steve Jobs a year and a half to negotiate five years of exclusivity with AT&T. According to sources, in exchange for around 10% of iPhone sales from ...

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    I've just come down from basically a month using the LG G4 exclusively. It's a great phone, and its svelte leather cover looks amazing in my shirt pocket!  I've been generally happy with the phone. The screen looks great and is big enough to get everything done that I need to. Calls sound good. LTE and WiFi perform well, although Bluetooth is a little spotty. The one major drawback has been the speed. As I mentioned in my "review rebuttal" I got around this by installing and using the Google apps (Calendar, Keyboard, Now Launcher, etc.) in place of the stock LG equivalents. That worked ...

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    I've owned two smartwatches powered by Android Wear, the LG G Watch and the first-generation Motorola Moto 360 - the latter of which is on my wrist right now. Both are great watches, but both leave a lot to be desired. Before we jump into what those are, keep in mind that this is just about the hardware. Things I want in the next version of Android Wear, the operating system that runs on the Moto 360, is an entirely different article. Having gotten that out of the way, let's move on to the 800 pound gorilla in the room, shall we? Battery Life Initially, battery life on the Moto 360 was ...

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    Some years we see amazing jumps in the technological specs that come packaged into smartphones. Other years, not so much. Regardless, smartphone makers try to release a really remarkable smartphone almost every year - but it seems like they miss that target more often than it's hit. Part of that is likely due to the the fact that OEMs are engaged in a specs battle. Each maker has a product to build, and that product is measured by the sum of its parts. One with this processor, the other with that. One with X amount of RAM, the other with Y amount. And so on. On paper it's not difficult to ...

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    Most of the time we all love it when our phones get system updates. They might contain bug fixes, add new features, update our operating systems with a new look and feel, make our phones faster, or they might contain critical security patches to keep our information safe. All this depends on what's in the update, of course, but there's one roadblock standing in the way of these updates - and it's forced upon us without our knowledge or consent. Bloatware Bloatware is most often defined as generally unwanted software included on phones by the manufacturer - or the carrier. The first ...

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    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 ...

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    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 ...

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    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 ...

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    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 ...

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    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 ...

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    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). ...

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    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 ...

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