honor

What a week! Nougat, All About Android & Honor 8

It's been quite a week! I'll focus on the geeky positives here, because quite a lot happened.

Nougat

On Monday evening I updated my Nexus 6P and Nexus 9 to the public release of Android 7.0 Nougat. A pretty painless experience, the update weighed in at between 40MB and 50MB. There was no app optimisation process which sped things up considerably. There was no major change for the Nexus 6P, testament to the fact that the final beta was pretty much production ready. The NExus 9 on the other hand improved further. No lags or slowdowns yet, so I'm now happy to use the HTC made device again.

All About Android 280

On Tuesday (Petaluma Mean Time), early Wednesday morning here, I was a guest on All About Android. It was great fun being on and discussing the week's latest Android news and hardware, and it was the first time I was on the show with Flo. As usual I brought some bad puns, some goat and mockodile and my rampant opinionism to the table. 

This was the first episode of All About Android in the new TWiT Studio in the East-side of Petaluma. It was very thoughtful of Lisa, Leo and the rest of the TWiT crew to choose that location as the hotel Candice an I stay in when in Petaluma is across the road and it is within walking distance from the Lagunitas Brewery. I plan on being in Petaluma at the end of September and the end of October, so keep an eye on TWiT.tv for my future appearances.

Honor 8

Not long after All About Android finished, I went to Edinburgh Airport and to Paris from there. In Paris I was a guest of Honor for the launch of the shiny new Honor 8.

Honor8

The Honor 8 is Honor's new flagship and is definitely an eye catcher. With its shiny glass design, impressive spec sheet and awesome camera setup it has immediately placed itself in my current top 4 smartphones for everyday use. Leigh was great support for Coolsmartphone coverage from the UK, and yesterday I published a sample camera gallery to show off how awesome the Honor 8 camera is. I'll be passing my Huawei P9 on to Candice who will no doubt do great things with it. Expect my review of the Honor 8 after I've been using it for IFA.

#ShotOnAndroid #ShotOnHonor8 #Honor8

#ShotOnAndroid #ShotOnHonor8 #Honor8

Coming Up

Speaking of IFA, I'll be covering the consumer electronics show in Berlin for Coolsmartphone next week and the one after. I'm excited by all the WiFi connected LED bulbs I'll see there. Or maybe not...

Oh well, keep an eye on my Interknight presence (that one is for you Alex Dobie) in the coming week for IFA coverage and my other ramblings. Expect to see the #honor8 and #ShotOnHonor8 tag used a lot, I'm enjoying the shiny new blue smartphone.

Changelog - First Fortnight of 2016

In the Changelog I go through the top news in tech and mobile, and maybe provide a few extra snippets. Opinions are my own, and links provided are to my preferred news sources.

We're into 2016 and this is the first Changelog of the year. 2016 started with the tech news explosion that was CES, the Consumer Electronics Show, which is held in Las Vegas. CES is a massive trade-show where most consumer electronics and tech companies have some sort of presence. Nowadays there are less actual product launches during the show as tech news lifespan during CES is short lived. Below are the main CES Changelog items.

Huawei announce the Honor 5X for the US market. A mid-range Android device in price, but which delivers considerable bang for buck, you'll only have to put down $199 for it when it goes on sale towards the end of this month. This is a very US-centric announcement as the Honor 5X has already been available in China for a while and is expected to come to Europe "soon". Phil Nickinson of Android Central did a good hands-on with the 5X.

Huawei also announced the Jewel and  Elegant editions of the Huawei Watch. Thanks to Alex Dobie for pandering to my "mockodile thing" in his tweet.

Car Tech was a big thing at CES 2016. Most automotive companies now want to use the consumer electronics and systems on board their vehicles to be a value-add proposition for thier customers. Lots of talk about smartphone integrations, as well as Ford showing off Amazon's Echo integreation. Below is Yahoo Tech's quick video summary.

Hoverboards and CES. I dislike using the term, because if it doesn't hover or have a Mattel logo in my view it isn't a hoverboard. Heavy! Anyway, these mini-segway thingamabobs were very popular towards the end of 2015 to the point that "user testing" prove they are not entirely "consumer proof" [insert rant about average customers of consumer electronics]. When in Asia on business last year they were a very big thing in Shenzhen and I was tempted to put a disco-light boombox two-wheeler in my suitcase on the way back. Many different "hoverboard" companies were at CES, but what caught my attention was the booth raided by authorities due to patent complaints.

Android distribution numbers. Moving away from CES, Google announced the Dashboard update for Android distribution numbers. This is always an interesting snapshot of where Android is in Google markets. Lollipop (Android 5.x) is now more than 32% of the devices using the Google Play Store. Marshmallow (Android 6.x) has just passed 0.7% of the market. Gingerbread (Android 2.3.x) has now almost completely sunsetted at 3%. Full Android Dashboard report here.

BBC 3 new logo unveiled. The BBC showed off the new BBC 3 logo and the interwebs went a bit bananas. I'm not sure what went on at the BBC, but I have a gut feel that they just wanted to troll everyone. Some were angry and most of us just sat back and chuckled. I even made my own effort with a banana for scale, obviously.

March Of The Droids 2016 tickets are now on sale. I'll be at the event this year MCing. A great Android themed event and an occasion for you to meet like-minded people in real life, this year the event takes place in Edinburgh. Purchase your tickets here.

Microsoft discontinues support for IE 8, 9 and 10. This is actually a good thing for the internet. It will eventually force more users onto more modern browsers. Edge has me pleasantly surprised by how good it is. Brave move from Microsoft which also will improve things for the rest of us.

Skyscanner, my employer, was in the news too. This news confirms Skyscanner is a company well set for doing great things going forward.

Xiaomi announced the Redmi 3. At the price point it will deliver incredible value for money, as well as good battery life (4000 mAh) and a bit more of a quality build. It is on my shopping list. More on the announcement here.

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...

Review(s) coming up!

The first review which will go up on matteodoni.com will be the one on the Honor Holly.

I've had the Honor Holly since mid March and I have been thoroughly enjoying using it.

The 5" Android device has a 1280x720 screen, runs on a quad-core Mediatek chipset and takes two micro SIM cards. The 8 megapixel autofocus camera on the back has flash and the front facing selfie camera is a 2 megapixel unit.

The next review will be the Honor 6 Plus one. I've had the 6 Plus for less than a month and have been blown away by the dual camera setup.

I'm really enjoying using Squarespace to create posts, this may increase the frequency of my blogging.