You've been warned: the Galaxy Note II was probably my favorite smartphone of 2012, and it looks like its successor, the Note 3, is stealing my heart all over again. With big hardware improvements across the board, as well as substantial additions to software, the Note 3 feels like a true next-generation sort of phone. Samsung has rather effectively ruined every other large-screen device for me, and frankly, probably every other phone released this year.
Back in early July, I reviewed what has since been my favorite portable Bluetooth speaker: the Ultimate Ears BOOM. It really lives up to its name, delivering top-notch sound quality that's nearly impossible to find in most speakers twice its size. Of course, that kind of quality comes at a price – a $200 price, to be exact. And if you wish to utilize the Double Up feature that lets you use two BOOMs at the same time, that price doubles.
Last year's Note 10.1 was a first for Samsung. It was the first 10-inch tablet to carry the Note name, and the first consumer tablet that made good use of a stylus. It brought about many innovative, though not perfectly executed, features that changed the way Android worked. Multiple apps on the same screen, handwriting input and palm rejection, and the like were all relative newcomers to the tablet scene. And for the most part, they were all well received by those who bought the tablet.
Let me just start by saying that I like the DROID Maxx and DROID Mini. Why conclude a review before I begin it? Because so many people have already concluded that they cannot like these phones. Motorola's new devices have proven incredibly polarizing among enthusiasts, especially to Google and Android diehards who held on till the bitter end to a fantasy (and that is what it was) that the company would come to the rescue of marginalized power users.
Expandable storage seems to be dying off in Android. The
excuses reasons are varied, but the writing seems to be on the wall. Of course, each time a new flagship rolls off the line sans microSD slot, fans cry out in frustration. SanDisk is taking on the challenge of making an accessory meant to bring expandable storage to any device. The result is called SanDisk Connect, a pair of portable drives with Wi-Fi that your phone or tablet can connect to for file storage or content streaming.
One of the things that makes the Nexus series of phones so enticing is the extremely affordable pricing options. When the Nexus 4 first hit the scene, it was only $300 for an 8GB model and $350 for the 16GB, then Google slashed the prices by $100, making them even more affordable. In a world where most high-end mobile phones can't be purchased for less than $550-600 off-contract, Nexus pricing is a breath of fresh air.
All you have to do is get to the luminous beam of light at the end of the level. That's all it takes to progress through Incredipede. However, actually figuring out how to get there is a bit of a challenge. In each level your buggy avatar has to mutate to make its way onward, growing new limbs and muscles as needed. This kind of experimental gameplay has a tendency to go wrong, even if it starts out strong.
Android devices are a little under-represented in the area of high-end accessories, and when it comes to cases, you can't get much more high-end than Portenzo. But the Nexus 7 has carved itself a nice little niche, and the American case maker has extended its full line of book-style protective coverings to the Nexus 7 2013. With three case styles ranging from $35 to a whopping $145 (more than half as expensive as the base model Nexus 7 itself), these accessories are not for the feint of heart or the light of wallet.
A few weeks ago, I went on my semi-annual trip from Texas to Virginia to spend some time with my family that lives there. Throughout the duration of my stay, I had to tether for internet access, as I generally stay with my grandparents (<3), who don't have internet. They're extremely old-school country folks who like to keep things simple. Visiting them is actually incredibly refreshing – the air is pure, and lifestyle is vastly different than what I'm used to.
I am generally of the view that when it comes to high-end smartphones, most such phones are now squarely in the "pretty good" category. While the internet moans and groans about SD cards, removable batteries, and heavy-handed UI modifications, these things are trivial to most people in the day-to-day operation of a device. But much in the same way some car enthusiasts refuse to relinquish the manual transmission, some smartphone enthusiasts will not let go of the microSD slot until it is pried from their cold, dead fingers.