Android

Berlin and IFA, a busy week and more

I had a great time in Berlin, Germany while covering IFA for Coolsmartphone.com. When I say covering IFA, there was a lot more going on around the trade show as there always is.

IFA 2016

IFA 2016

IFA 2016 - #IFA16

IFA is the world's leading trade show for consumer electronics and home appliances. Held in the beginning of September each year in Berlin, it's a trade show that sets up the scene nicely for the global trading period in the run up to the holiday trading period.

50 Shades Of Mockodile

50 Shades Of Mockodile

I arrived in Berlin the day before the madness of press week started and covered a series of press conferences over the next few days: Acer, Samsung, Lenovo, Huawei, ZTE and others. As well as press conferences, I visited many stands of brands more or less well known to the general public. There was a decent amount of mockodile to cover too. How could I not cover beautiful mockodile?

Beauty Makeup!

Beauty Makeup!

In the midst of this busy IFA week, I found time to catch up with friends old and new. We discussed the announcements and wares on show, consumed much beer and cocktails and when in more philosophical states put the consumer electronics product world to right.

For the first couple of days I paired up with Peter Holden of TalkAndroid.com. Peter is a top chap with a sense of humour who also has a great in-depth knowledge of the tech industry. We survived an Uber Taxi ride with a maniac driver who was actively trying to crash the Prius we were in. Having survived that we then went on to cover more press conferences with significantly more adrenaline to burn off.

It was cool to hang out with Bryan Burnett of TWiT. He was over in Berlin from the other side of The Pond with Padre SJ covering IFA before he headed off travelling around northern Europe. I'll be catching up with him in Petluma later this month when Candice and I are on vacation.

I'm a fashion blogger now, thanks to the Huawei Nova Plus Beauty Makeup 2.0.

I'm a fashion blogger now, thanks to the Huawei Nova Plus Beauty Makeup 2.0.

To sum up IFA and the surrounding press conferences and announcements: big tech companies have reached the point where they speak to the end users, often not needing the tech press as much as they needed to. Just looking at Huawei and Samsung's events, the highlights were a selfie masterclass and watch bros on stage talking about emotions of watch design. The advent of the fashion blogger or instagram celebrity on the tech scene is here. Maybe that's why they invite me to these events: I'll find a mockodile angle on anything shiny.

iPhone 7 and Apple Watch Series 2

It is difficult to ignore the media frenzy that ensues when the fruity phone company announce their new devices. This time Tim Cook took to the stage to announce the Apple Watch Series 2 and the iPhone 7 (in its two variants).

This is waht the iPhone 7 should have been able to do. Thanks Oatmeal!

This is waht the iPhone 7 should have been able to do. Thanks Oatmeal!

As we called it at Coolsmartphone, the devices now lack 3.5mm audio jacks. Some of my legwork at IFA confirmed this as many vendors were very active in selling their new wares.

Coming Up

This week at IFA was pretty crazy, and my two main mobile devices I used to cover the trade show deserve honourable mentions.

Xiaomi Mi Max

Xiaomi Mi Max - Big Phone with Big Sandwich

Xiaomi Mi Max - Big Phone with Big Sandwich

I purchased this device specifically as a workhorse to cover IFA. The massive battery, big screen which makes two thumb typing easy and reasonable 16MP camera made it a success. If you travel a lot or really need all day battery life I would recommend this device.

Honor 8

Honor 8 - So Shiny!

Honor 8 - So Shiny!

The Honor 8 is my cameraphone of choice now. the snaps it takes are to my liking and with Google Photos sync it made managing the content I was creating simple. I love the way the Honor 8 feels in my hand though I live in terror of it slipping out. Battery life got me through the day

I'll be on vacation with Candice in the US of A and Canada from late next week, but before I leave I plan on publishing my full review of the Honor 8 on Coolsmartphone and starting the Huawei Nova Plus review. As usual any feedback is welcome, please do let me know what you would like to see in the upcoming reviews.

I'll be at Big Android BBQ Europe

I'll be at Big Android BBQ Europe this week representing Coolsmartphone.com in my role as Chief Pixel Density Enthusiast.

Big Android BBQ Europe is the Android developer conference in Amsterdam and this year it takes place from August 14th to August 16th.

Would you like to show off what you've been working on or shout out about a product and have it covered on Coolsmartphone.com? Get in touch with me on Twitter and I'll be happy to schedule a session with you.

I'm looking forward to Big Android BBQ Europe 2016, expect to see my coverage on Coolsmartphone.com.

Coolsmartphone.com Podcast 141 - Honor for the brave!

Yesterday evening I was a special guest on the Coolsmarphone.com podcast. Wilkin Lee of Honor (Huawei) and I were hosted by James Pearce.

As well as discussing Honor, Huawei and a few other smartphone related topics, we even managed to mention mockodile... I had great fun and look forward to the next time I'm on the show. Thanks to James for having me back!

Head over to Coolsmartphone.com to get the full podcast, as well as links to other sources of the audio only show.

Honor Holly Review

Budget Android smartphones are a favourite category of mine. In the last few years the devices under £100 have been getting better and better to the point where they now reach the subjective "good enough" place. This is my review of the Honor Holly, the 5" budget device which is part of the Huawei sub-brand Honor portfolio.

Spec Sheet

5" 1280x720 IPS LCD Display

Mediatek MT6582 1.3 GHz Quad-core processor with 1GB RAM and Mali 400MP GPU

8MP autofocus camera with LED flash / 2MP selfie camera

Dual-standby Micro SIM support. HSPA (3.5G)

16GB internal storage / MicroSD slot for up to 32GB cards

Android 4.4.2 KitKat with Huawei/Honor launcher (and minor modifications) based on AOSP.

Removable 2000 mAh battery.

Impressions

Honor is a sub-brand of Huawei. Think of the Honor/Huawei as Mini/BMW. The Honor Holly is a budget device which offers incredible value for money in the current smartphone market. At time of writing, the Honor Holly is priced at £89.99 on Amazon.

GoatZ being demoed on All About Android 213

GoatZ being demoed on All About Android 213

I really enjoy using my Honor Holly. The HD screen is just the right size at 5", typing on it is easy without having to be too accurate with screen taps and swipes. The screen is more than adequate for regular smartphone use, even for watching HD video.

Under the screen you have the back button, home button and menu button which are capacitive buttons on the front panel.

The MediaTek system on a chip performs very well for the device class. Battery life in the same daily use as my Samsung Galaxy S5 actually lasts longer. Social networking apps, news reading and podcast listening run smoothly with very few slowdowns if any. Call quality with the SIMs I tested on (Vodafone UK and Tesco Mobile) was excellent, as was overall reception even in Edinburgh's Old Town.

Honor Holly back

Honor Holly back

The 8MP camera performs reasonably well, but to manage to offer the device at its price it was one of the corners that had to go. Not great, but still a reasonable camera in good lighting conditions and it produces decent cat pictures...

Sample cat picture taken with the Honor Holly

Sample cat picture taken with the Honor Holly

The front facing 2MP camera is great for social media use and takes good pictures in ideal lighting conditions but suffers in low light.

The software on the Honor Holly is a mixed bag. Using this device feels more like using a reference MediaTek device with an incomplete attempt from Huawei to give it some EMUI love. The EMUI version here is 2.3 running on Android 4.4.2. Most of the apps are AOSP ones, such as the camera, but some of them are Huawei's own product, like the launcher and some skeumorphic leftovers. The end result is an inconsistent icon set with an iOS-like launcher with no drawer. For the average end user this will be something easy to get used to and something they will live with blissfully unaware.

I struggled to live with the Huawei launcher offering, and ended up installing Action Launcher 3 and the Moonshine icon pack, just to stay in the comfort zone of my most used setup. Once the device was as I wanted it I was much happier.

Action Launcher 3 with Moonshine icon pack. That's better!

Conclusion

The Honor Holly offers amazing value for money and is a great piece of hardware for the price. The screen is clear and crisp, the battery life is excellent and the dual-SIM and storage options are best in class.

As you may have surmised from my personal impressions I am not a fan of the software offering, but with a small effort it is easy to overcome this.

I would thoroughly recommend this device to anyone looking for a good value for money smartphone under £100. If 4G is not super important (it isn't), in my view this is better value than a Moto E 4G.

What endears the device to me particularly is the pleather soft back which has no fake stitching. I'm still looking for a mockodile back...