Posts by Michael Fisher

Michael Fisher has followed the world of mobile technology for over ten years as hobbyist, retailer, and reviewer. A lengthy stint as a Sprint Nextel employee and a long-time devotion to webOS have cemented his love for the underdog platforms of the world. In addition to serving as Pocketnow's Reviews Editor, Michael is a stage, screen, and voice actor, as well as co-founder of a profitable YouTube-based business. He lives in Boston, MA. Read more about Michael Fisher!

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    Say the word “tablet” today and you probably picture something like this. Even back in 2011 –the origin year for today's deep dive into nostalgia– the word conjured up a big slab, not an oversized eyeglass case. But the latter is just what we got with the Sony Tablet P, a bizarre foldable mobile device that better resembled a palmtop computer than any "tablet" I'd ever seen. It was weird – but that's just why I liked it. The Sony Tablet P was the first review device I ever requested (and the first of many I never received). Three years later, thanks to eBay, I finally got the ...

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    Updated 3:55pm ET to include statement from AT&T. A couple years ago, my younger, whipper-snappier self put a question to the masses: why were we still using traditional SMS text messaging? Given alternatives like Google Voice, iMessage, WhatsApp and the like, SMS seemed positively archaic with its 160-character limit and lack of rich messaging functions. Worse yet, wireless carriers were charging a lot for the privilege of using this outdated system, demanding upwards of $20 per month for unlimited access to a resource that cost them essentially nothing to provide. Flash forward to ...

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    Qualcomm's Snapdragon 810 is one of the most controversial pieces of silicon in recent memory. The OnePlus Two is the imminent sequel to one of the best-reviewed smartphones of the past few years. And very soon the two will come together to produce one of the most anticipated products in mobile. Then it's going to get trashed in the press, because it "overheats." And then I'm going to roll my eyes so hard they get stuck. To be fair to the very smart folks who've written very smart articles on the subject, Qualcomm's Snapdragon 810 definitely isn't the best system-on-a-chip the company ...

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    The HTC One M9 does many things well, but being "active" is not among them. Its IPX3 splash-resistance rating doesn't cover accidental dunks in the swimming pool; its soft aluminum housing is more scratch-prone than some of its plastic competition; and its cover glass may or may not be the latest from Corning. For those in search of a rough-and-tumble smartphone, there are certainly better options out there – but what if you want a device that can look good when it needs to, hold up to abuse when it doesn't, and even (when necessary) walk the fine line in-between? That's what its ...

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    It's tough to get excited about tablets nowadays. With the rise of ever-more-capable large format smartphones like the Galaxy Note 4 and Google Nexus 6, the "large" screens of tablets are no longer as alluring – and their higher price tags not quite as easy to justify. To really stand out, a modern tablet needs an element of novelty (like the innovative Sailfish OS on the Jolla Tablet), a rare hardware feature (like the water-resistance of Sony's Xperia line) or a compelling productivity enhancement (like the S Pen stylus on Samsung's larger Galaxy Note tablets). The Galaxy Tab S2, ...

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    If your virtual assistant of choice comes from the world of Halo, great news: she’s not confined to Windows Phone anymore. As we reported earlier today, an early Windows Insider build of Cortana for Android has leaked to the masses, and we've got it running like a dream on our Samsung Galaxy S6 review unit. It's a prerelease version, so performance might not exactly match what we'll see from Microsoft's final take, but it's a pretty darn polished Beta – and we're here to share it with you in our very first Cortana on Android hands-on! Check out the original news post for a few more ...

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    Update: Warning - peaking audio levels at the beginning and end of this podcast. Enjoy! Yo dudes. This week was gnar, dudes. First we get word from Commodore that they're (sorta) back and they've got a fleshtone phone to prove it. Then we hear that some kind of modern-day Iron Man is building a phone out of a material called "liquidmorphium." Then we go hands-on with an all-metal, super-stylized ZTE phone, before hearing that Samsung's new smartwatch is gonna have a digital crown and a rotating bezel control. And that's not even half of the geekgasm that was this week in mobile tech. All ...

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    If you’ve got an LG G4, you’ve got a pretty solid smartphone. We enjoyed our time with the new flagship, finding it to be a "leather looker with a killer camera" in our full review – and in some ways it even compares favorably with the Galaxy S6 and HTC One M9. But out of the box, it’s lacking one cool feature that OEMs have steadily been adding to their smartphones: Qi wireless charging. Sure, you could buy a Quick Circle case from LG to enable this feature, but it’s pricey – and not everyone finds a booklet-style case convenient. Fortunately, as we recently learned from a ...

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    Anyone accusing modern smartphones of being dull probably needs his eyes examined. With phones like the extravagant Galaxy S6 edge, the curvaceous LG G4 and the precision-machined HTC One M9 on store shelves, we seem in the midst of a golden age of Android smartphone design. But here's the thing: all of those are mainstream smartphones. Big-name manufacturers on big-deal wireless carriers, covered to death by big-time publications. You see these phones on the street, on the bus, and dangling from your friends' pockets and purses. They're great, sure, but they're so damn commonplace. ...

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    What do you do when you’re HTC and you want to create the perfect blend of price, design, and specs? You build a Desire phone. The company invited us to take an early look at its new HTC Desire 626, and we happily obliged. Join us as we go hands-on! HTC Desire 626 hands-on gallery [gallery columns="5" ids="441292,441293,441294,441295,441296,441297,441298,441299,441300,441301" orderby="rand"]   We’re actually taking a look at two phones here: the Desire 626 for postpaid Verizon and AT&T, and the 626S for a variety of prepaid carriers (including Cricket, MetroPCS and Boost Mobile, ...

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    Each of the two largest wireless carriers in the US offers its own ruggedized Android smartphone exclusive. The Samsung Galaxy S6 Active (which we reviewed last month) is exclusive to AT&T; the Motorola Droid Turbo (which we reviewed last November) is exclusive to Verizon Wireless – and neither will work very well on a network it wasn't designed for. So if you’re already beholden to –or have a strong preference for– one of those operators over the other, congratulations: your choice is made. But if you’re a free agent and either network will do, the hardware makes all ...

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    By now you've seen the stories coming out of San Diego Comic Con featuring the new top contender for nerdiest phone gadget of 2015, the Wand Company's Star Trek Bluetooth Communicator. Some folks close to the manufacturer have known about the project for months, while others attending SDCC are going hands-on with the prototype even as I type these words. Because I'm in neither of those groups, I've spent the afternoon sitting in a New York sidewalk cafe fruitlessly throwing money at my computer screen and waiting for it to cough up a communicator of my own. I'm taking a break from that ...

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    Update (July 13, 5:00pm Eastern): Thanks for making three years of this possible. We start Year #4 this week. Hope you'll tag along. Laying off 7,800 people (in addition to the 18,000 from a few months back) and taking a $7.6B writedown on your highest-profile mobile acquisition ever isn't a great way to show your commitment to your smartphone platform ... but that's just what Microsoft did earlier this week, in the "Nadella Memo Heard Round the World." But are things really as gloomy as they seem for Windows Phone? We'll talk about that, plus news from Motorola, OnePlus, Sony and Amazon ...

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    Most new device launches go the same way: usually the press gets review units before they’re widely available, and we get to use them for a few days -or a week if we’re lucky- as we work on our review. Then press day arrives. The embargo on media coverage lifts, and everyone posts their reviews and videos at the same time. It’s a huge frenzy, commenters go nuts, and it’s a giant explosion of frantic opinion-sharing activity. For about … a day. And then it all goes away. Sure, there’s followup coverage as people find bugs and hidden features, but after that initial blast, not ...

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    In an email to employees Wednesday morning, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella dropped the sobering news hinted at by his "tough choices" memo of several weeks ago: the company is "fundamentally restructuring" its phone business. Phrasing the changes as part of Microsoft's ongoing "reinvention," Nadella said Microsoft would cut up to 7,800 jobs globally over the next several months. The cuts will take place primarily in the company's mobile-phone business, which grew from the acquisition of Nokia's Devices and Services business in April of last year. Nadella also announced that Microsoft would ...

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    I recently paid a visit to my childhood home in rural New York, and because I'm not a normal person, it stirred memories of telecom from days gone by. Between updating my parents' smartphones and walking around to determine which corners of town were still waiting for LTE, I saw quite a few older handsets strapped to the belts of the predominantly pragmatic locals, mixed in with the tourists' generally flashier iPhones and Galaxy S6s. It got me thinking about mobile phone features from years past, features we considered indispensable in the days of old but don't really give a hoot ...

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    If you've been hanging around Pocketnow for the past few weeks, you know of our recently rekindled interest in Google's Nexus 6. We brought our AT&T demo device off the back burner last month, kicking off the summer with an After The Buzz re-review of Motorola's oversized phablet, followed by a feature piece on Google's Nexus 6-only Project Fi service. Despite its monstrous dimensions and (arguably) high price tag, the Nexus 6 has a devoted following among Android fans – and with Android 5.1 having smoothed some of Lollipop's launch wrinkles, most of us here at the P-Machine ...

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    As fun as it can be to marginalize and criticize them, smartwatches are magical pieces of technology. From something as mainstream as an Apple Watch to something as fringe as a Cogito Classic, today’s wristborne wearables are modern miracles of miniaturized intelligence. As I say at the top of every Pocketnow Weekly podcast, these real-life tools are the manifestation of many childhood dreams, mine included … and it’s incredible to stop and think about just how complex they really are. All of which makes it doubly frustrating when these supposedly “smart” devices screw ...

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    Editor's note: In the gulf between iPhone releases and in the run-up to the next Windows Phone resurrection, the ratio of Android to non-Android phones in our review inventory continues to rise. As a result, this piece is written from a predominantly Android-centric perspective. Everybody wants awesome smartphone battery life. Whether you’re addicted to the latest power-draining augmented reality game or just trying to get through a day of texting and talking, the panic moment is a familiar one: mid-afternoon, no charger in sight, and a pop-up dialog warning you that you’re 15% away ...

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    You could be forgiven for getting a little sick of hearing about Samsung's new Galaxy S6 Active. By the time this piece hits the feeds, Samsung's rugged superphone will have gotten unboxed, drop-tested, compared with its lighter-weight Galaxy S6 sibling and given the full review treatment. We tend to cover smartphones to death here at Pocketnow, and this mil-spec box of techno-toughness is certainly no exception. But there's more to say about the Galaxy S6 Active, and this time the story is a very specific one. If you've listened to the Pocketnow Weekly podcast or checked out our After ...

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    This morning, as we prepared for what turned out to be a pretty solid installment of the Pocketnow Weekly podcast, a leaked image hit our feeds that suddenly sent us scrambling to update the rundown. It was the press render seen above, featuring a dramatic view of a sleek new BlackBerry handset with front-firing speakers, a curved glass display ... and Android as an operating system. Sure, we'd heard rumblings about such a thing before, but today's leak put a name to the rumors ("BlackBerry Venice") and a face to the specs (a Snapdragon 808 processor, 3GB of RAM and a 5.4-inch Quad HD ...

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    Update (July 7, 6:00pm): Job finally done. Thanks for being patient. There's an Apple patent that might have us all sharing files with handshakes in the not-too-distant future. Sprint's new CEO is finally fed up with John Legere and recently said so on Twitter. Android is running on BlackBerry. And there's a 10,000 mAh (or 10Ah, if you prefer) smartphone out there that, judging from the photos, is not the size of a household refrigerator. All this news demands more than a quick blurb on the front page; it should be immortalized in the halls of podcast history, and that's what we're ...

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    Maybe it's because I'm still giddy from the change-high I got from my switch to T-Mobile earlier this year; maybe it's because I recently confessed to liking the Nexus 6 more than I did a few months ago; or maybe it's because I'm trying to save money after a lengthy spending spree ... but for the past 48 hours I've been practically obsessed with the notion of trying out Google's new wireless service, Project Fi. We reported on Project Fi, Google's North American virtual wireless carrier, back in April, and the service has been slowly growing ever since. For now, Project Fi is open ...

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    If you've been following along for the past few weeks, you know I've been a little busy – too busy to focus on the latest Android Wear developments, in fact. But that doesn't mean I've been oblivious to the goings-on in Google's wearable world: during my review period with Pebble Time I took all kinds of mental notes on how the new smartwatch compared to Android Wear. During that time, I watched our editor-in-chief's LG Watch Urbane review video ... and all I kept coming back to was this: You don't have to feel bad if this is making you laugh. The first time I saw it, I too took a ...

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    Most new device launches go the same way: usually the press gets review units before they’re widely available, and we get to use them for a few days -or a week if we’re lucky- as we work on our review. Then press day arrives. The embargo on media coverage lifts, and everyone posts their reviews and videos at the same time. It’s a huge frenzy, commenters go nuts, and it’s a giant explosion of frantic opinion-sharing activity. For about … a day. And then it all goes away. Sure, there’s followup coverage as people find bugs and hidden features, but after that initial blast, not ...

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