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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    The Moto X, as modest and bland as it appeared on paper, was, by and large, one of the most impressive smartphones of 2013. Unlike most new phones, I could recommend it to buyers without a sliver of doubt. While its camera wasn't all that great and the specs were far from the best, it was an incredibly solid, well-rounded smartphone with lots of lightweight value adds in the software. This came as a surprise to most when the Moto X was finally revealed. The months leading up to its announcement, the so-called X Phone (or XFON) was rumored to come with all the best specifications possible ...

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    Most will agree that Windows Phone 8.1 was more than just a minor point update. We even gave it a full review. It bore a ton of new and useful features which finally put Windows Phone on the map for many people. Cortana, for example, is a major win for the platform. Action Center is a no-brainer. And the Start page got some much-needed pizzaz. The Windows Phone 8.1 update has come and gone. Maybe it's just because I don't use Windows Phone regularly, or maybe it's just because the platform still needs a lot of work. But talk of Windows Phone 9 has already started, and many seem to believe ...

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    Usually, when I hit Publish on a review, I've had enough time to mull over the words and reread everything enough to be completely certain of everything I wrote. And if I question anything, I can just grab the phone, double-check my thoughts, and reassure myself that I got it right – right then and there, firsthand proof. In all the phones I've reviewed, there was only one time I can recall that I hit publish and immediately wanted to take it back. It wasn't that I was unsure of what I had said. It was that, no matter how certain I was, I didn't want to believe what I wrote. I remember ...

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    "What do you need most in a smartphone?" That is always my answer to anyone who asks me which smartphone they should buy. People assume that because I review smartphones for a living and have played with most of the new models, I have all the answers and automagically know which smartphone they should purchase at any given time, right off the top of my head. I don't. Everyone needs something different. Maybe you need something with a larger screen for watching movies, browsing the web, or gaming. I know my sister wants something smaller, since she has rather petite hands, and I know my mom ...

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    For many of us, web browsing is the heart and soul of our mobile usage. Browsing web pages from a coffee shop on your phone or buying something from Amazon while waiting in line are what make modern smartphones so different from their ancestors. Mobile browsing today is not all that bad, fairly enjoyable, and actually pretty efficient. So how do the two most popular mobile platforms compare when it comes to mobile browsing? Ignoring all the third-party options available on both and not considering meaningless benchmarks or page load times, the out-of-the-box browsing experience on Android ...

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    For many of you, the new school year is just beginning. Others have just a few days or weeks before they're back in the classroom, as well. Fortunately, the transition back into the school year doesn't have to be so hard. Education and productivity applications are available in droves. There are literally hundreds of note taking applications, task list managers, calendar apps, and more. There are even applications where you can go to ask questions about your homework, or knowledge engines to reference, right from your phone. If you're after help inside or out of the classroom, we have a ...

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    I remember how free I felt the first time I dabbled in alternative operating systems on my old family PC. After growing tired of using Windows Vista, I started looking around and asking friends what I should do. One suggested trying Windows XP Black Edition, a hacked version of XP, and another suggested trying various builds of Linux. Ultimately, I gave Ubuntu a try. I never looked back. From that day, I stopped using Windows. It felt incredible to load whatever software I wanted onto my hardware. This instilled a certain mentality in me that carried over to smartphones, which were ...

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    When it comes to analyzing the quality of a smartphone's camera, there are two main approaches. There's the guided style: "We had a gander at the new [Smartphone] from the fine folks at [Smartphone Manufacturer], and we took its camera out for a spin to see how it performed under a variety of lighting conditions. When it comes right down to it, this camera is [excellent][great][good][not so good][horrendous] ... and here's why." And then there's the choose-your-own-adventure method: "We took [Smartphone] for a test drive to see how its camera performed, and rather than taint the results ...

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    Our review of the Xiaomi Mi4 went up earlier this week. In short, it's a really nice piece of hardware with some serious software issues. However, MIUI has been around for some time and a major update – MIUI version 6 – is just around the corner. It's always been known for its deep customization options and putting the power in the hands of the user. While we did talk a lot about the software on the Mi4, we had to skip over some of the more nitty gritty features. That's just the way it goes with time-sensitive review periods. As such, we've picked three of our favorite Xiaomi Mi4 ...

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    The stylus has had a pretty traumatic life. It was a necessary tool back in the beginning of the smartphone and PDA era, as mobile operating systems weren't designed with stubby fingertips in mind. Rather, buttons, soft keyboards, and entire UIs were fixated beneath resistive touch screens, which didn't discriminate between a user's fleshy digits or retractable pen tips. Quite literally, you could use just about any ol' object as a stylus, so long as it was strong enough to squeeze the protective plastic coating and digitizer together. The finer the point, the better. The stylus all but ...

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    The selfie phone is an actual thing – or it's becoming a thing. As much as that makes me not want to live on this planet anymore, it's actually a good thing. No, the word "selfie" itself is a monstrosity. But that front cameras on smartphones are finally getting the attention they deserve is a wonderful thing. Today, the front camera is where fond memories and borderline narcissistic social culture meet. A group of friends out for an increasingly rare night on the town all huddle around one person's phone to capture the fleeting moment forever. Meanwhile, fishing for compliments, a ...

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    The debate over build quality, design, and materials in the smartphone realm will never end. The matter is largely, if not entirely, subjective and typically boils down to preference and personal experiences. No one material is wholly better than another. Plastic bends, scratches, cracks, and it often feels incredibly cheap. Metal typically feels nicer and gives phones some much-needed heft, but scratches and dings even worse than plastic. Unlike easily replaceable plastic battery doors, metal usually is not easily or affordably replaced. And glass is also weighty, but it shatters, ...

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    Xiaomi is a company we didn't have a lot of experience with before last month, and understandably so. The Chinese company is only four years old and didn't start expanding its business internationally until last year. Clearly, the company is doing something right, though. Its Mi3 handset from earlier this year has reportedly sold out in mere minutes on more than one occasion and Xiaomi replaced LG as the fifth-largest smartphone manufacturer in the world earlier this month. Back in July, Xiaomi announced the newest addition to its high-end smartphone lineup, the Mi4. The specs and pricing ...

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    When we reviewed the HTC One M8, we were discovered it was one of the best looking and feeling Android handsets around. In fact, very few other Android smartphones even come close in build quality and design. Not only is its hardware impressive, though, it's a great smartphone through and through. It's camera isn't mind-blowing, but it's far from the worst; the Sense 6 software is actually very nice; the BoomSound speakers provide a one-of-a-kind, pocket-sized multimedia experience; and things like battery life and network performance are great. Xiaomi, being a company based on many of ...

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    Each year, the Nexus rumors tend to get the Android community all worked up. There's more to the Nexus mystery than other device rumors. For instance, there is always speculation about which manufacturer will be the chosen partner on a given year. And, right out of the gate, the Nexus smartphone will inevitably have a different course than its competition. It's reference hardware, often with topnotch specifications; it's typically sold at roughly half the cost of a normal smartphone; it gets first dibs on future firmware updates; and it gets tons of attention from development communities. ...

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    Xiaomi is making waves in the smartphone industry. It's ousted LG as the fifth-largest smartphone manufacturer in the world, sold out of its Mi3 in mere seconds countless times, and created compelling product after compelling product. Still, not everyone is convinced Xiaomi is deserving of all the praise and success it has earned seemingly overnight. The four-year-old company sometimes uses some pretty sheisty tactics. It's accused of ripping off the late Steve Jobs' style – from his wardrobe to his presentation style. The company is said to have been built on similar principles as ...

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    Just last week, Xiaomi kicked LG off the list of top smartphone manufacturers as it took fifth place for itself. And more than once, it's managed to sell out of its Mi3 handset in record time. Clearly, it's doing something right amidst all the controversy it's leaving in its wake. The question now is, can its newest handset, the Mi4, compete with what many have declared the best smartphone of the year thus far, LG's G3? With the G3, LG has managed to woo tons of consumers. The 5.5-inch QHD display is packed into a remarkably small package, the LG UI is actually a pleasure to use, and it's ...

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    Xiaomi has been turning a lot of heads of late. The four-year-old company recently became the fifth-largest smartphone manufacturer in the world, but not without causing a good bit of controversy first. It's been the target of constant criticism over taking a lot of inspiration from none other than Apple and even caught flak for stealing copyrighted images on its Mi3 product page. However, the company is maturing and its most recent smartphone lends a great deal of credence to that. The Mi4 comes with some of the best specifications found in most flagships today, and its stainless steel ...

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    Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi is making waves – selling out of its Mi 3 handset in mere seconds, becoming the world's fifth-largest smartphone manufacturer, and announcing a seriously high-end smartphone for far cheaper than all its competitors. Back in July, Xiaomi announced the latest iteration of its Mi series of smartphones, the Mi4. Surprisingly, at just $459.99, it comes with almost the exact same specifications as its toughest competition. It has a Snapdragon 801 SoC, 3GB RAM, 16 or 64 GB fixed storage, a 13-megapixel camera, and a 3,050mAh battery. No to mention, it has almost ...

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    We've taken more than one look at the LG G3 so far. Michael reviewed the original South Korean version, to which I completely corroborated shortly thereafter. Then I received a U.S. variant, the AT&T model for review. That went live last week. However, about halfway through July, LG announced a newer, slightly upgraded variant of the G3, called the G3 Cat.6. It comes with the newer Snapdragon 805 SoC with advanced data speed capabilities. The Cat.6, as the name suggests, is capable of hitting theoretical download speeds upwards of 225Mbps. So what's the true difference? Do they look or ...

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    Ever since Google announced Android Wear in March, wearable fans around the web have been drooling over renders, pictures, and videos of Motorola's upcoming smartwatch, the Moto 360. Unlike its Android Wear counterparts, the Moto 360 has a circular display, sleek and classic design, and actually looks premium. The Samsung Gear Live and LG G Watch, on the other hand, more closely resemble reference hardware with very little attention to style. Michael parallels the G Watch from LG to its barebones hardware for Google's Nexus smartphones, calling it "a combination of glossy and matte ...

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    What's on your phone? Perceived as excessive mobile users, we here at Pocketnow get asked this question more than just about any other question. The thing is, not all of us are heavy users. And even those of us who are don't necessarily rely on a bevy of applications to get us through the day. On the flip side, some of us hoard applications and never use them. Some of us install upwards of 100 applications and use most of them on a regular basis. Most of us, however, reside somewhere in the middle. So what do the Pocketnow editors have on their phones? Which applications do they deem ...

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    Samsung has long been the king of Android. Its Galaxy S smartphone has far outsold any of its competitors' Android handsets by the millions, quarter after quarter, year after year. It's aided in pushing mobile hardware and Android as a platform forward, and has even attempted to fork the Android ecosystem by instilling its own ecosystem within Android, selling movies, music, and other digital content through its own store. Samsung has, for the better part of its smartphone career, largely steered the direction of smartphones and led the industry. That is, until recently. Over the last two ...

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    One year ago, almost to the day, I received the Sony Xperia Z Ultra in the mail from Negri Electronics. Brandon and Michael decided I would be the one to review the massive 6.4-inch smartphone from Sony, likely because I've always had a penchant for extra large smartphones – excessive smartphones. Just two months before the Xperia Z Ultra landed on my doorstep, I had reviewed the Galaxy Mega. All things considered, I really liked it. Its specs and display could have been better, but Samsung did a pretty good job at keeping the Mega's physical footprint reasonable – more like the Galaxy ...

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    Many of LG's very best smartphones over the years have been easily forgettable, not visually stimulating, and overwhelmingly mundane. We'd also call them under appreciated, as many of them were firsts for the industry. The Optimus 2X, for instance, won a Guinness World Record for being the first dual-core smartphone. The Optimus LTE, if my memory serves me correctly, was the first smartphone with a 720p display. The Optimus 3D was the very first glasses-free 3D smartphone. And so on. LG has a ton of smartphone firsts under its belt and, surprisingly, the G3 isn't one, unless you count the ...

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