Posts by Taylor Martin

Based out of Charlotte, NC, Taylor Martin started writing about technology in 2009 while working in wireless retail. He has used BlackBerry off and on for over seven years, Android for nearly four years, iOS for three years, and has experimented with both webOS and Windows Phone. Taylor has reviewed countless smartphones and tablets, and doesn't go anywhere without a couple gadgets in his pockets or "nerd bag." In his free time, Taylor enjoys playing disc golf with friends, rock climbing, and playing video games. He also enjoys the occasional hockey game, and would do unspeakable things for some salmon nigiri. For more on Taylor Martin, checkout his Pocketnow Insider edition. | Google+

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    This article is my 628th piece of content (give or take) for Pocketnow. After somewhere over half a million words written (not including video scripts), it's also my last. I have been sitting on my bed every night this week, staring at a blinking cursor and trying to figure out where to even begin. No goodbye is easy. I've been putting this one off, just like I've been avoiding the inevitable for the last three years. Before I get into all that, let me begin by saying thank you. Thank you to Pocketnow – especially Brandon. Michael, and Anton – for believing in me and giving me the ...

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    As is the case for most smartphones these days, the One M8's time in the spotlight was very limited. Unlike the One M7, which won awards for all of 2013 (and even some in 2014), the One M8 is quickly fading into the background as competitors pile dozens of overpowered, chiseled pieces of art on shelves. Just look at the Oppo N3, LG G3, Note 4, Nexus 6, Moto X (2nd Gen), and the Droid Turbo. On paper, these phones make the One M8 look old and dated. Many newer phones come with innovative features I only wish I could have on the M8. And some even rival the look of the M8 – something I ...

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    HERE Maps has sort of been the salvation for navigation for Windows Phone users, especially offline navigation. The praises of this feature are sang across the internet almost any time the service is mentioned. Many prefer Nokia’s take on mapping over the baked-in Bing Maps on Microsoft’s mobile platform and understandably so. Although Nokia’s mapping services, such as navigation or transit directions, are divided across multiple applications, it’s typically a more reliable and renowned service. HERE Maps is one of the parts of the business Nokia didn’t sell to Microsoft, so ...

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    I admittedly do not have a ton of experience with Oppo. The first Oppo phone I ever held was the Find 7a I reviewed earlier this year. The first time I even heard the name Oppo was when the N1 was announced, and that was only because it had a massive 5.9-inch display and a rotating primary camera which can be likened to some flip phones from way back when. Outside that, my knowledge of the company, its products, and its perception globally is pretty limited. That’s mainly because Oppo hasn’t thrust itself into the U.S. market like some of its compatriots have. Huawei and ZTE, two other ...

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    Google teased its new software update, previously known as the Android L Preview, back at the I/O 2014 developer conference back in June. It showed off new features a new and improved recent apps menu, lock screen notifications, and Project Volta, meant to improve battery life. Among the most important changes, however, is the all new design language, called Material Design. This new interface design is meant to make the UI react to the user’s input the same way their analog – or material – counterparts would in the real world. There is depth and a visible hierarchy to the way ...

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    This newfangled tech world is some sort of heaven for pixel junkies. A few years ago, the thought of a 4K (3,840 by 2,160 pixels) monitor, television, or projector wasn’t terribly far-fetched. 4K projectors and cameras have been available since the early 2000s, but personal monitors and televisions in ultra high-definition are a far newer product of this pixel-obsessed world. Prior to 2013, however, the buy in price to the budding world of 4K was illogical for most of us normal humanoids who don’t draw six-figure salaries each year. The first 4K televisions were large and expensive. ...

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    I remember a time when a 4.3-inch display on a smartphone seemed absolutely absurd to most. My friends would ask me, "Why would anyone want a phone that big? I can do everything just fine on my phone." At that time, the average high-end smartphone sported a display that measured, diagonally, anywhere between 3.5- and 3.8-inches. An average person could palm any given phone and reach all four corners with their thumb without adjusting their grip of choking-up on the phone. Those days are but a faint memory now. Three years ago, when I was carrying a then-normal 4.3-inch smartphone, I ...

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    Personal privacy and device security are two ever-important concerns in an increasingly digital world. Where there is personal, private, and potentially important information being stored, there is always someone out there who seeks to use it for personal gain. Harmless or not, keeping your information and devices locked down is never a bad idea. It's always smart to keep wandering eyes out of your sensitive information, even if you have nothing to hide. Fortunately, there is an increasing number of ways to beef up security your mobile devices. Most of the security measures are ...

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    At WWDC this year, Apple announced a brand new feature for iOS devices and Macs called Continuity. The idea was to streamline the process between switching devices and to make iOS and Mac OS work more closely together. It's a software feature that lets you use your iPhone, iPad, and Mac interchangeably, for almost any task. Answer an incoming phone call on your iPhone using your iPad or Mac, load the same web page you have open in Safari on your Mac on your iPhone, or load the spreadsheet you've been editing on your iPad on the Mac, all without having to sift through dozens icons and other ...

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    Last year, I called the Moto G "a surprising pleasure to use." When I revisited it for our After The Buzz series, I said it was stil the best bang for your buck. Anyone who has owned or used the original Moto G will likely corroborate those sentiments. It's a damn good phone for the money – no ifs, ands, or buts about it. Motorola took us all by surprise last year, not just because the Moto G was dirt cheap, but also because it was a fantastic smartphone for anyone just looking for the bare essentials – maybe even those looking for a little more. The result was one of the most ...

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    Paying with your smartphone using NFC is nothing terribly new. Our own Michael Fisher showed us how to use Google Wallet on the Verizon Galaxy Nexus – something that wasn’t officially supported at the time – back in April 2012. It was as simple as tapping the phone to a compatible card reader, entering your Google Wallet PIN on the phone, tapping once more to confirm, and grabbing your receipt on the way out. Apple had shown some interest in mobile payments before WWDC earlier this year. Two years ago, alongside iOS 6, it introduced Passbook, a catch-all for all your loyalty and ...

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    We've talked about iOS 8 and all the new and useful features plenty of times now, but we haven't had the chance to focus on those individual features and, more importantly, the third-party support for said features. One of our favorites, which actually surprised us, was the introduction of widgets in the Today section of Notification Center. These widgets display different types of at-a-glance information, provide shortcuts to different features or settings, and even help your remember things. There are dozens (maybe even hundreds or thousands) of applications which have been updated with ...

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    Taking photos is an activity practically everyone partakes in, whether it be for a profession, capturing an important moment, keeping track of vital information, or just for fun. Out of sheer convenience, smartphones have quickly become the go-to device for snapping photos for the vast majority of the population, and also because mobile camera technology has improved exponentially since the turn of the century. Smartphones often make rather amazing cameras, and they slip into your pocket much easier than their dedicated point-and-shoot counterparts. It may not be a direct comparison ...

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    While smartphones haven’t exactly changed all that much in the last two or three years, the services and applications that make them run definitely have. The apps and services are smarter, more affordable, and more openly available to a wider array of devices and operating systems. More specifically, cloud storage is available in abundance. Two years ago, cloud storage was relatively expensive, corresponding mobile application support was sparse, and there were only a few services to choose from. However, the level of competition in the space has risen tenfold. Probably more – ...

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    Today was Apple’s day to breathe new life into a slowly stagnating lineup of iPads that … do exactly what the original iPad did, only faster. Going into today’s announcements, we were told we might see something new, something potentially game-changing. Rumors suggested there could be an iPad Pro (or Plus) with a 12.9-inch display. Theories about what the larger iPad would entail have varied from “not much else” to a full-on Mac OS tablet or a device that could switch between iOS and Mac OS on the fly. Either way, that didn’t happen today. Instead, today’s iPad announcement ...

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    When Apple announced iOS 8 at WWDC earlier this year, I actually got very excited for an iOS update for the first time … possibly ever. I use iOS daily and, despite popular belief, I don’t hate it. However, for the last few years, iOS has been a bore, and it’s been a little behind the curve, particularly in the ability to share information between apps, or interoperability. This stemmed from a combination of Apple’s walled garden, as many like to call it, and sandboxed applications. Apple only officially allowed cross-application sharing between a few, select applications, like its ...

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    Sony has earned a reputation – be it good or bad – for releasing new phones almost twice as fast as its competitors. While Apple, Samsung, HTC, and the handful of other globally known OEMs typically release an updated version of their various smartphone lineups once per year, Sony keeps its hero series of Xperia devices fresh with an update every five to seven months. That’s approximately one-fourth the typical 24-month agreement here in the States, or one-sixth the 36-month contracts elsewhere. It’s not just the flagship Xperia Z handsets that are updated so frequently either. The ...

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    Right now, I’m carrying two nearly all-metal smartphones as my daily drivers: the curvaceous HTC One M8 and the giant, plate-like iPhone 6 Plus. Why did I choose metal? You could say I have an affinity for metal phones, but you wouldn’t be entirely correct. I’m attracted to pretty things that are made exceptionally well, that feel like they’re worth the money I spent on them. I like products that look and feel like a company went above and beyond to make them stand out, products that resonate a sense of perfectionism. It just so happens that when it comes to smartphones, those that ...

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    Rumors and leaks have referred to it as Shamu for the last several weeks, but today we now know it as the latest addition to Google’s beloved smartphone line, the Nexus 6. Not surprisingly, most of the rumors were spot-on. This smartphone is a behemoth – not only in size, but also on paper. The Nexus 6 seemingly has it all: a 5.96-inch QHD AMOLED display, 3GB RAM, either 32 or 64GB of inbuilt storage, dual front-facing speakers, a 13-megapixel rear camera with optical image stabilization, a Snapdragon 805 with a quad-core Krait 450 CPU clocked at 2.7GHz and Adreno 420 GPU, and a ...

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    Admittedly, I'm a case junkie – not because I love cases, but rather because I'd rather keep the appearance of my phone pristine for as long as possible. When cases are the only valid option, I like to switch it up, because I get bored with cases quickly. I've already bought three for the iPhone 6 Plus. Ergo, I'm an inadvertent case junkie. But cases aren't the only form of protection for your precious smartphone. If you have one of the select phones dbrand chooses to support, you have a host of other options for protecting your phone. dbrand is the maker of exquisite wraps for your ...

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    Having a long past with legacy BlackBerry smartphones will do something to you. It will make every new phone you buy feel inferior in at least one way: battery life. I often write that a phone’s battery life is great, decent, amazing, or passable. But when I write it, I only sort of meant it. That's not to say I'm lying, but I typically quantify a phone's stamina in relation to other, modern smartphones when, honestly, I’m rarely ever impressed by a smartphone’s ability to keep a charge. When I was 16, I bought my very first BlackBerry after having trouble with the Motorola Q (on ...

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    The Samsung Galaxy S5, while not a showstopper or ground-breaking piece of hardware, is a great smartphone, designed to appeal to a very large demographic. However, its size is simply too large for some. What if there were a device with almost the exact same specifications in a smaller package? Would that phone be as good – or even better – than the Galaxy S5? That phone does exist but, unsurprisingly, it isn't made by Samsung. Instead, Sony makes it, and it's the smaller version of its newest hero device, the Xperia Z3. It's called the Xperia Z3 Compact and it's nearly a spec for ...

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    In terms of size alone, it would stand to reason the Sony Xperia Z3 Compact is a better match for HTC's One mini 2 and the full-sized Xperia Z3 is better suited for a comparison with the One M8. The latter may still be true, but the Xperia Z3 Compact is actually strikingly similar to the One M8, at least on the inside. Both phones have front-firing audio, similar chipsets, the same RAM, similar storage options, the same battery capacity, and most of the same connectivity options. The One M8 does have infrared and the Z3 Compact has water resistance not found on the One M8. Otherwise, it's ...

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    Sony's cameras are great. We here at Pocketnow swear by them. Most of us use a version of Sony's micro 4/3 NEX series cameras for our stills and videos. Sony's smartphone cameras, on the other hand, haven't always been the best. But in recent months, that has changed. The shooter on the Xperia Z2 was one of the best Android smartphone cameras money could buy. And preliminary reviews of the Xperia Z3 are showing similar results. But what about the miniature version of the Z3, the Xperia Z3 Compact? Well, it shouldn't be all that different. Both use the same 20.7-megapixel image sensor and ...

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    In the last two years or so, one word in particular has become increasingly popular in this industry: flagship. Samsung’s new flagship this or that. What’s the best flagship of 2013? Is this new phone Company X's flagship? It gets tossed around endlessly, and practically every new high-end smartphone is considered a “flagship”. But what is a flagship, exactly? What does the term actually mean? Are we using it improperly and, thusly, altering its meaning in the mobile realm? According to Wikipedia, a flagship is "the best or most important thing owned or produced by a particular ...

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