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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    Microsoft sure does like to change the way things are named! Windows CE gave way to Handheld PC and Palm PC, then to Palm-Sized PC, then Pocket PC was replaced by Windows Mobile Standard, Professional, and Classic. Windows Phone came along when Microsoft rebooted the platform in the wake of competition from Apple and Android. Windows Phone 7 was followed by Windows Phone 7.5, then 8.0, and most recently 8.1. Did I miss any? Are you confused yet? Then again, one could argue whether or not Microsoft's naming has been more or less confusing than Android's "sweet tooth" classification (it ...

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    Flagships, mid-tier, and entry-level phones. Each have their own demographic target. Each carefully balances pros versus cons, and power versus price. Flagships generally cost between US$400 and $600 for smartphones, and a couple hundred more for phablets. Mid-tier phones typically run about half that, though things start to get muddy when you try and calculate the cost of a mid-tier or entry-level device without a carrier subsidy. What you rarely see is a phone with really good specs and a really low price tag. Then again, the ASUS ZenFone 2 seems like it might be such a device. We got ...

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    Samsung, despite being something of a copy-cat, makes great hardware. It's smartphones, especially those in the Galaxy S family, are fabulous pieces of hardware. Phablets like the Note, and the Note Edge cater to those of us who want larger devices, but don't want to pack around a tablet (or a tablet and a smartphone, too). That said, there are a growing number of situations and circumstances where a tablet is simply the right tool for the job. Thanks to what we've seen from Microsoft in Windows 10, Samsung tablets will soon have some real competition. Where we came from Not that long ago, ...

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    We've covered Google's Project Ara in the past. To recap, it's an experiment Google is undertaking wherein our smartphones (and perhaps someday our tablets, too) are built the same way many of our desktop computers are, with modular components. Currently, Google is promoting a skeletal framework and set of protocols and standards into which individual components can quickly and easily slide into place. Want more RAM? Buy a new RAM module to replace your old one one. Want a better camera? Buy a new camera module. It sounds really interesting and, other than the horrible hodgepodge ...

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    We saw a lot of really cool innovations from Microsoft today. There's so much to be excited about in the coming months. New hardware will be released that will run Windows 10, new phones will be announced. Cortana (Microsoft's answer to Siri and "OK Google") will land on the desktop and help give you the information that you want right when you want it - without even having to take your hands off the keyboard. What you might have missed, however, was Microsoft Photos. Photos? Really? After all we saw today, why am I focusing on the Photos app?! Technology is great. It enables us to do so ...

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    I ordered my 32GB Midnight Blue Nexus 6 from the Play Store on November 5th, 2014. Two weeks later it was on its way to the Pocketnow Boston office so Michael Fisher could give it the full review treatment. After patiently waiting, my Nexus 6 finally arrived here, in Utah, about a month ago, my first impression wasn't positive: "holy crap, this thing is huge!" I went to work setting it up (an easy task thanks to Lollipop's new "getting started" process), and have used it as my daily driver exclusively since that day. The life of a tech journalist marches ever onward and I have other phones ...

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    On the surface, the Samsung Z1 isn't a very compelling phone for most of us. It's only got ¾ GB RAM (768 MB), a dual-core 1.2 GHz Processor, and a 1500 mAh battery.  I doesn't stop there, either. With 4GB storage, and a 4-inch screen with a resolution of 480 x 800, you're not going to see the Z1 competing with anything even approaching a "flagship". That's okay for it's target: emerging markets. After all, it runs the lightweight Tizen OS - not Android. What if it did run Android? What if the Samsung Z1 were an Android One phone? Android One Android One is a relatively new program ...

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    Not that long ago whenever you talked about mobile tech it went hand-in-hand with a stylus that you'd use to input all your data. Our PDAs, whether Palm Pilots, Window CE Palmtops, or Apple Newtons, all came with a stylus. Most were basic, but there were web stores that offered upgrades to add a little panache to what would otherwise be a plain stick tipped with a special piece of plastic. With every new PDA came a visit to PDApanache.com to pick up a metal stylus. Plastic just didn't have enough heft to it, and let's face it, a shiny metal stylus simply looked better! The past That was ...

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    One of the things we all like about Android is the ability to customize our smartphones and tablets to suit our personalities and the way we each use our devices. Out of the box, stock and unrooted, Android is a very powerful operating system. With just a couple taps you can enable sideloading of apps, and you can even install any of several app stores. However, if you're brave enough and with a little technical know-how, you can OEM unlock and root your device. From there, the sky is the limit! In the past we've talked about various hacks, apps that require root, custom ROMs, and more. ...

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    In January of 2012 something magical happened: executives from Asus and Google got together and began work on a project that would change the face of mobile computing. Apple had released the first iPad two years earlier and OEMs had followed suit with tablets powered by Android shortly thereafter. All the options - both Apple and Android - were relatively costly. What Asus and Google did changed the industry. Those two powerhouses came together and built a tablet with very respectable specifications and a price that couldn't be matched. This strategy pushed the prices of tablets across the ...

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    Apple controls the entire user experience from hardware to the operating system that runs on its smartphones and tablets. Microsoft controls the operating system that OEMs put on their hardware. With Android, however, the story is a bit different. Google (and others) work on the core operating system, but OEMs are free to modify the experience to suit their branding requirements and make hardware that is more varied than any other mobile platform today. If that sounds like an invitation for chaos, you might be right! To try and rein things in, Google has three programs to help guide OEMs ...

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    I'm a Power User, I always have been. Back in the days of the Apple Newton, the MessagePad 2000 wasn't enough for me. I had to upgrade it to the 2100 (technically the 2000U, but who's counting?). My desktop computer is sporting 8 cores (though it's really only four hyperthreaded cores). Although my Nexus 5 suited me just fine, I had to get the Nexus 6. Generally speaking, whenever you see me I'll be running the latest and greatest tech. I had always imagined that everyone wanted "the best", and didn't consider the possibility that I might be an anomaly. If that's the case, why do so ...

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    We live in a world where everything is available "on the cloud". We have more online storage options that I can count. Streaming radio is not only so widespread, the majority of online radio stations even stream for free on the T-Mobile "uncarrier" network. Netflix, Hulu, YouTube and others offer streaming video with HD resolutions, even up to 4K. We have LTE that provides data speeds in the dozens of Mbps, HSPA+ picks up the slack when we wander outside of LTE coverage, and we're almost always within range of someone's WiFi bubble. Even with all those streaming options and methods, I ...

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    I've been rather impressed with the SoCs that Qualcomm has been releasing under the "Snapdragon" brand, and really fell in love with the chips with the S4 line up back in the day. The S4 Pro was the sought after processor for smartphones and tablets - back in 2012. As we all know, technology marches ever onward. Phones and tablets powered by the Snapdragon 800 series took center stage in 2014. Now that 2015 is upon is, there's a new generation of SoCs on deck, but the Snapdragon 810 is quite a bit different than any Snapdragon you've seen before. Not Krait Qualcomm makes the Snapdragon ...

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    If you ask "certain" people, they'll tell you that Android is inherently laggy (then again, if you don't ask them, they'll eventually volunteer that opinion anyway). In the past, generally speaking, Android hasn't been "laggy" per se, the operating system just handles processes and priorities differently than others may. Put simply, as soon as you touch the screen of an iPhone or iPad all processing stops while the OS devotes its full attention to your interaction - at the expense of stopping everything else. This gives the impression of fluidity and speed, but in reality, processes take ...

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    Some phone makers have to scramble to combat the wave of people reporting its new models are bending... other manufactures embrace it as a feature! The latter being the case for LG's latest smartphone, announced at CES 2015, the G Flex 2 - and based on its spec sheet and our hands-on experience, it's already the best smartphone of 2015. Will it bend? When shopping for a new phone or tablet, we generally look at build quality as a major deciding factor. Bending is usually an indicator of sub-par workmanship, and whether consciously or not, products that bend quickly earn a "pass". ...

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    I'm a big fan of Qi wireless charging (just in case you didn't know that already). I use an Anker charger on my desk at home. My Moto 360 smartwatch came with its own Qi wireless charging stand (but I can put it on any other charger just in case I need to top it off throughout the day). I have two chargers at work. I even have a wireless charger in my car and a Zens battery with Qi built right in. (And just in case your phone or tablet doesn't come with Qi out of the box, you can add it quickly, easily, and very inexpensively!) It sounds perfect, right? There is, however, a problem with ...

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    I've been a T-Mobile customer since the company was called Voicestream - yeah, that long. One of the things I always loved about the service was that I could tether a PDA, tablet, or laptop to my phone and be able to get work done anywhere I needed to. I'm not a road warrior, so I don't use a lot of data when tethered, nor do I tether very often, but I need to be able to tether with only a little notice. Regardless of whether I was using Windows Mobile or Android, tethering was never terribly difficult, I just opened the settings, turned it on, and away I went. When Android KitKat came ...

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    We've long been fans of Qi Wireless Charging, but not all devices support the standard. Devices that include Qi can be recharged through electromagnetic induction rather than by directly connecting to a power source via  a charging cable. This requires some additional components inside Qi-compatible devices as well as a "base station" or charging pad, but once you've tried it, you'll very likely be hooked. However, if your phone or tablet didn't come with Qi support built-in, you may have thought you were out of luck. Not so! If your smartphone or tablet has a micro-USB port, it's ...

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    Yesterday I talked about why I rooted my Nexus 6. No, it wasn't to run a custom ROM (though that's a great reason to root your smartphone). No, it wasn't so I could run a custom kernel (although that's another wonderful reason to root as well). My reasons for rooting the Nexus 6 were much more basic: so I can run tools and utilities, and make configuration changes that I wouldn't otherwise be able to do. Many of you mirrored my sentiment, and even listed off a lot of apps and utilities that you use thanks to rooting your own phones (thank you for that, by the way, I've got a whole lot more ...

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    There was a time (not that long ago) when Power Users needed to root their Android-powered smartphones to do anything really powerful with them. Primary among those reason was to flash a custom ROM. These days stock Android includes many of the features and functionality that were previously the exclusive realm of custom ROMs. Sure, there are still ample reasons to flash a custom ROM, but for an increasing number of us Power Users, "stock plus root" is good enough. Here's why I went with a Nexus 6 root, but kept the stock ROM. Tethering I'm one of those people who doesn't tether a lot, ...

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    One thing all our portable electronics have in common, whether smartphone, tablet, phablet, or wearable; or Android, Windows Phone, or iOS, is the battery. Unlike desktop computers that get their power through a plug in the wall, all of these devices have to carry their own power source onboard, and battery capacity hasn't really kept up with the rest of the tech inside our devices. To combat this, OEMs have tried to introduce new ways to keep our portables charged. From SoCs that are more energy efficient, more power conscious code, Qi wireless chargers, and now we even have speed ...

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    In this line of work you see a lot of tech: phones of all sizes, tablets from the major vendors, and people you barely know seek you out to get your opinion on whatever is new, or to show off whatever they're packing. Most of the time it's pretty cool. Sometimes it can be creepy. At the end of the day, the positives generally outweigh the negatives, which makes it all worth while. I've been interested in cutting edge tech since I was in high school - maybe even before.  I've seen the evolution from huge "mobile phones" to small and svelte "cellular phones", and I've seen that trend ...

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    Samsung's flagship smartphone is the Galaxy S line of phones, with the most recent iteration being the Galaxy S5, a 5.1-incher with an HD display. With rumors of an upgrade beginning to circle and speculation running wild, what do I want out of the Galaxy S6 - the logical successor to the Galaxy S throne - and what must Samsung do to secure it's top spot in the upcoming year? 64-bit Apple's already gone 64-bit. Desktop computers and laptops have been 64-bit for years. Servers have been 64-bit for even longer. It's time for the switch to 64-bit in our mobile electronic devices, too. Many ...

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    By now we should all know that we need to lock our smartphones, phablets, and tablets, right? How many of us actually do? I know I do! That's mostly because I live in a household with grubby little hands that try to get into all my new toys review units. The other reason is because I work with a bunch of practical jokers. They always want to change my ringtones to something inappropriate. I don't where where they got the idea from, I only pick up their unattended iPhones and say "Siri, call me Star Lord". We all know that passwords are the most secure, but they take too long to type in. ...

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