The Unplugged Phone

The snake oil practically sells itself. Wingnuts have been convinced that both Apple and Google are on the wrong side of the woke-commie-libtard / heroic-patriot tribal divide. But, just like people who are sane, wingnuts’ phones are deeply integrated into their lives. They’re thus stuck in a catch-22 — they don’t trust Apple or Google and definitely don’t want either company to profit from them, but seemingly every phone they might want to buy is either an iPhone or an Android phone dependent on Google services… More here.

Excellent analysis by John.

Rudderless HTC

Presumably the buzzword gimmicks are meant as a distraction from the fact that the HTC Desire 22 Pro is a generic-looking mid-range phone. It has a Snapdragon 695, a 120 Hz, 6.6-inch, 2412×1080 LCD, 8GB of RAM, 128GB of storage, and a 4520 mAh battery. It has Android 12, a fingerprint reader, wireless charging, a microSD slot, and an IP67 water-resistance rating, which HTC only describes as “splash proof.” For cameras, you have a 65 MP main camera, a 13 MP ultrawide, 5 MP depth sensor, and 32 MP front camera. HTC’s spec sheet curiously also lists “Face ID” as a feature, which is an Apple trademark. HTC probably means generic face recognition… More here.

HTC was the king before the iPhone and before any other company it jumped on the touch screen only format to compete. From that point onwards it has been nothing but failure and I am surprised phones are still released to this day. Time to give up, do something else and find a way to thrive again.

The BMW Motorsport-branded Iqoo 9 Pro

Remember when phones were fun? Recently, I’ve slotted my SIM into a bunch of high-end models that will never come to the US. The latest, the BMW Motorsport-branded Iqoo 9 Pro, is a ridiculous, over-the-top smartphone that can’t help but make you smile. Of course, like a high-performance sports car, this phone is completely impractical as a daily driver in the US. Inspired by its out-of-the-box design, I couldn’t help but use it for a few days anyway… More here.

I mentioned how phones should have more personality the other day. If this is to be the end result, I take it all back.

Samsung Galaxy (Note 22☺) S22 Ultra 5G First Thoughts

(In case of variances – UK model – Black – 512gb/12GB – Dual sim – direct from Samsung)

Been a while since I reviewed anything – but since it’s arrived 2 days before official launch day, it’d be rude not to give some initial impressions (clearly they’re more relaxed than Apple about launch day protocols).

I will, albeit probably poorly, attempt to avoid comparing to my Z Fold 3 which has done me really well barring some niggles. Things I really want to check out – the camera (so different to the Z Fold 3’s average 12MP snapper), and the s-pen (built in). All photos were taken with an iphone 13 mini except for the camera comparison ones.

I’ll spare you an over the top unboxing essay. I’m sure there’s plenty of those elsewhere. It’s the usual new era minimalist approach – small black box, including phone plus unnecessary (imo) usb-c cable & ejector pin. NO extra s-pen nibs that I can see (unlike historically, maybe the pen is one unit now)

This thing is one solid lump, which is good, as my Z Fold 3 while feeling really high quality and sturdy, still left me nervous when its opened up.

After the standard Samsung setup process, its time to play. Careful ejecting the sim card tray and not the microphone hole right next to it :/

Right, lets take a quick look at that camera, specifically the zoom. What I tend to do is take a standard picture, and then zoom in. My door handle (cropped) as part of a x1 shot…

My door handle x10…

So you can see the level of detail that the optical zoom means that you gain.

The pen is excellent. As responsive as the s-pen pro I have with my fold 3, and with all those features (due to the Bluetooth capability). One complaint – Samsung notes can now to sync to one note (it could do so with the ZFold 3 too), but for whatever reason, the integration is only to one note “feed” (huh?) which means it only appears in a special place and you have to then move notes you want to keep, into full one note. An odd quirk, that may become annoying.

The fingerprint reader feels much better than it was on my old S21 ultra as well. Its nearly as good as the one on the Z Fold 3 (which is a dedicated side one built into the power button). I’ve only had one false negative so far which is nice.

A final quick nighttime shot before I send this to Shaun. Excuse the flare from the window (its cold out there), but otherwise it looks at a glance, impressive. The picture shows far more than my eyes do.

Full verdict to follow, but in the first few hours, the Galaxy Note 22 (oops) looks to be an excellent all-round device. And if you like a decent zoom, then vs the best from Apple, it’s a winner. I think the battery life is yet to be clear (it was down 15% for me after light use, but all those initial setup services will be greedy.)

It’s sold out in some specifications (from Samsung) until April 2022, so book early to ensure disappointment.


Ditching their smartphones

She recalls that one of the pivotal moments that led to her decision was a day at the park with her two boys, aged six and three: “I was on my mobile at a playground with the kids and I looked up and every single parent – there was up to 20 – were looking at their phones, just scrolling away,” she says.

“I thought ‘when did this happen?’. Everyone is missing out on real life. I don’t think you get to your death bed and think you should have spent more time on Twitter, or reading articles online.” More here.

I am going to try this. OK, I’m not…

Bringing excitement back to the smartphone

The iPhone 13 gets closest to that kind of emotional payoff of increased satisfaction with its battery life, which is so strong it has banished battery anxiety from my daily routine – even on the now-rare days I bounce between meetings.

For iPhone admirers, this new machine will doubtless represent pleasingly crisp continuity. But if you’re looking for something to make you appreciate the smartphone again, you may not get what you want from the iPhone 13… More here.

The reality is that 95% of people do not get excited by smartphones and that the majority are mature enough to just want better practical features such as battery life and cameras. In 2021 a phone is a phone and expecting a wow factor from a new model is like expecting an emotional buzz from a new washing machine.

Maybe one way to bring back more positive emotions would be to offer hardware customisation that would make the devices more personal to the owner. Such as the modular concept below. You can read more about it here.

The modularity dream for a phone that can swap parts like a Lego brick is still longing for perfection and this concept fuels the fire. Just like the Fairphone, Nicola Morelli’s Soul smartphone concept gives us something to dream about. A phone that can turn into a high-end DSLR camera or turn into a high-end customizable accessory for fitness freaks. The Nintendo Switch-like interactive vibe is more about changing the format of the gadget using extensive modules rather than just adding functions with internal hardware swapping. Soul itself is one of the modules and the other attachable modules are called bodies. The main module itself can be used as a basic smartphone when you don’t require any other functions.

The Wild West Days of Phone Design

I do miss the Wild West days of cell phones, before we’d all settled on glass rectangles. It’s always fun to watch competing manufacturers trying to figure out the ideal form for a new thing, and it’s not the home runs as much as the swing-and-a-miss designs that I find the most interesting. In particular, that five-year span just before the first iPhone came out is when designers seemed to have a lot of latitude to experiment… More here.

Isn’t it strange how the best and most quirky designs appear when a product is in its relative infancy (click the link above for some true quirkiness). It is almost like the manufacturers see the most popular form win and then they all fall in line. This happens in cars, watches, phones and so many other major product categories.