Posts from the “Smartphones” Category

My move to iPhone XS Max

My default daily driver has been the iPhone 7 Plus for almost 2 years and it’s been an absolute work horse. I use it to produce and publish my podcast, “In the Weeds with Dexter Johnson”, take thousands of photos and be my main email and consumption machine. It’s been great; however, I started to get the itch for something new and iPhone XS Max came for a scratch.


Rundown

What made me switch? I’m the same person that’s been on record saying that notches of any type are terrible and an eye sore. Additionally, I’ve noted that I’ve had concerns about the true screen real estate that one could gain with a notch and rounded corners. What’s most interesting is that a Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus, not an iPhone, first convinced me that I could live with an impediment on my screen. From simply using the device and seeing that I wasn’t missing much, I felt that the newest iPhone could be a great, if not great, upgrade — notch and all.

While the notch can be an issue for the unoptimized app, apps that take it into account, can have the same amount of polish and beauty of any app that you’re used to using. Additionally since the UI of the iPhone doesn’t put a lot of items on the top of the display, unlike Android with notifications and more, having the cut out isn’t a major issue and while it doesn’t disappear, I can honestly say that it’s very immersive and you don’t notice it often.

Using the device is a breeze. iPhone XS Max is still an iPhone and that’s not a bad thing. It behaves and operates in the same way that iOS has in the past with a few exceptions — most importantly, it is very reliable and responsive. With iPhone X, XS and XR say goodbye to the famed home button and hello to gesture navigation that is simple and intuitive to pick up and start running. At this point, about 24 hours in, I’m multitasking with ease flicking the navigation bar from side to side to switch between apps and I’m using the device like a pro as if I’ve had it since release.


Wrap-up

I’m loving this device, the edge to edge (mostly) glass creates a truly immersive experience which is what we’ve always wanted. So while the notch may not be perfect, it’s good enough for now, good enough for me and also good enough for me to write and construct this entire review on, image and all.

iPhone XS Max is a winner.

Samsung Galaxy S10, the best Android smartphone right now

There, I said it, there is really nothing else to read — unless you want to learn about how smooth interacting with the device is, how it matches up to the competition or the hole punch for the two front facing cameras actually interact with the device.  It’s a quick takeaway, but Samsung is truly doing something great here and it should not go unnoticed.

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Samsung Galaxy S10+


Design and Use

(*My main interaction and time was spent with the Galaxy S10+, which this hands-on will focus on.)

Samsung knocked the ball out of the park here with an incredibly light design housing a massive 6.4″ AMOLED display that is industry and class leading.  For full specifications of the Galaxy S10E, S10 and S10+, go here.  This display stretches to each side, curving over to the edge and going almost to the top and bottom as well — almost.  There is a small bit of continuity cut off due to the hole-punch cutout for the front facing cameras and in my use and to my surprise, were not too impeding in the use of the device.  The cameras essentially sit in the notification space and leave the rest of the screen open as a gigantic media-centric canvas.

What does this mean for daily interactions on the device?

Plain and simple — the hole-punch does not get in the way, unless you really, really want it to.  Even during expanding a YouTube video from regular pillarbox to full-screen, the camera cut out doesn’t kill the viewing experience — say that about a traditional “notch”.  See below:

Video on Galaxy S10+.  No zoom versus zoom.

Using the Galaxy S10+ is a breeze with apps opening fast and seamlessly, as someone who has tested out most of the flagship Samsung phones in recent memory, the optimizations put in place by the company get better and better and One UI is certainly helping out here.  One UI is Samsung’s attempt at simplifying the user interface of a smartphone on a big display.  With that being said, touch points are larger and placement of items on the display make it much easier for one-handed use, which is something most of us wish to do.  Additionally, One UI seems to cut out a lot of the “crap” and jankiness that older Samsung smartphones included out-of-the-box and looks and feels a lot easier on the eyes.  Although One UI is an improvement in performance, we still see the usual shutter lag present in most Android smartphones and the S10 camera is no exception.  While the photos turn out excellent and going between all three camera modes (2x, 1x and telephoto) are a breeze — when I tap the shutter button, I expect a photo then not a milli-second or two later.


Wrap-up

When it’s all said and done, if you want a great all-around performer, this device is for you.  Samsung keeps getting better and better and while us techies, including myself, constantly talk about the Pixel — many seem to forget that.  This years Pixel 3 XL is an absolute abomination to look at and many argue that the only reason to even buy the phone is for the camera; however, when Samsung has put together the most complete Android phone of the year, it’s simply too hard to ignore.

Welcome Samsung Galaxy S10, the current best Android smartphone of 2019.

Hands-on with iPhone XS and iPhone XR

iPhones XS, XS Max and XR are available and I’ve gotten a chance to spend time with each.

In previous episodes of my In the Weeds podcast, I’ve been vocal about my dismay towards the notched display; however, I’ve always heaped praise upon the secure and stable iOS.  My in person feelings are exactly the same; yet, I’ve got a few different opinions regarding Apple’s implementation of the display notch housing the True Depth camera array for FaceID.


Quick & Dirty

These new iPhones feel fantastic in the hand, whether you are holding the XS or the special XR, in fact, I would argue that the XR feels a bit heavier and more substantial in the hand — which isn’t a bad thing.

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iPhone XR in Product Red.

Starting off at $749, the iPhone XR is likely the most compelling device for most users looking to upgrade.  Featuring a large 6.1″ display, featuring Apple’s distinct notch housing FaceID components, although this display is LCD and less than 1080p, it still looks great from most angles.  Additionally, since this display technology isn’t quite as robust as the OLED panels on iPhones XS and XS Max, the bezel surrounding the display is slightly larger — yet still bearable and unobtrusive.  Performance is notably great; however, the model I experienced in store appeared just a slight step behind its XS and XS Max counterparts.

iPhones XS and XS Max offer that same design except sleeker, and wrapped in a stainless steel band. iPhone XS Max especially felt great, not only due to the increased screen size, but the fact that it truly displayed more information on webpages and in apps versus those assets simply appearing larger, which is a huge selling point.  Performance is what you’d expect — simply unmatched in consistency and speed.

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iPhone XS Max

Furthermore, let’s talk about these notches. On the smaller devices, I found the notch a touch more intrusive; however, with the larger iPhone XS Max, it almost (almost) seemed to disappear. The larger screen, giving you more information is almost certainly a win in every case.

Wrapping Up

Overall, the device experience is great on all of the new Apple smartphones. iPhones XS and XR are here for the taking with arguably the best hardware and software experience on the market.

Google Assistant Continued Conversations

“Hey Google, What’s the weather?”

–Answered

“Can you add an umbrella to my shopping list?”

This is beautiful.  Not only is it useful to continue your conversations because we usually have more than one command to issue, now — as promised at Google I/O 2018, but it brings to life the realization of a more “present” assistant.


How it works?

What happens when you say the “Ok Google” or “Hey Google” wake phrase, the user will see the lights on their Google Home device light up, indicating that Google Assistant is listening.  From there, a question is asked followed up by a succinct and hopefully, correct response.  With Continued Conversations, this changes to an abrupt ending to Assistant continuing to listen for 8 seconds for additional commands, which it will respond to if issues or delete the audio if no commands are issued.  When the user is done issuing commands, simply say “Thank you” and Assistant will reply, “No problem” letting you know that the conversation is over.

With Google arguably having the smartest assistant, the brings this digital assistant to the next level.

YouTube: Tech With Brett


Get out there and give it a try!

You get a notch, you get a notch, everyone gets a notch!!

APPLE!! This is your fault. You’ve started a terrible trend in smartphones and you need to fix it because as of Mobile World Congress it has officially gotten out of control.


Background

iPhone X was released last year with the promise of a full screen experience, although it’s clearly a pipe dream because the screen is interrupted because of a notch that houses the device’s True Depth camera system. Many Apple apologists claim that this notch disappears, while it mostly does, it’s still unsightly and calling it a feature is just being tone-deaf to the market. No one asked for a display that wraps around a component of the device. We want larger screens, however — why should developers have to pay the cost of having a screen larger than the iPhone Plus devices with LESS usable screen real estate because of the rounded corners and ears to the left and right of the notch?

Needless to say, it’s not pretty, functional or winning any design awards from DexJohn’s PC. In the case of edge to edge screens, while maximizing screen size….Samsung with the Infinity Display did it right, not Apple.


Fast forward

In walks every Android OEM that loves to copy Apple without reason. Some even tout that the notch on their device is smaller! But once again, who asked for it?

No one.

Although the decision to make a notch on the display is ill-advised, Apple at least does it for a reason — facial recognition. Android device makers and Google have not yet “cracked the code” on this tech, so at this point you’re copying to copy and not introducing anything new or better than the original flawed and uninspired design from Apple.

All in all, it needs to stop. These screen notches are a problem for apps, developers and end users (whether they realize it or not) and they are just plain stupid looking.


Wrap-up

Stop it, please.