While Google want to dominate the emerging markets with their Android One line, a new breed of high-specification, low-price budget phones are coming out of China and heading west
While Google want to dominate the emerging markets with their Android One line, a new breed of high-specification, low-price budget phones are coming out of China and heading west. Is it curtains for premium handsets?
With the increasing power and resources of the Chinese mobile phone industry, are we witnessing a basic shift in the market? Will this new breed of Chinese start-ups alter how the likes of Samsung, Apple, HTC, Nokia and the rest do business? Or is the fuss over the new batch of Chinese smartphones so much hot air? But what a fuss! The new Chinese designs are offering very high specifications for such a low price point that industry observers are getting very excited.
One such company that is firmly in the headlines is OnePlus, a new company founded in China by former engineers from the technology manufacturer, Oppo. One of them is Peter Lau, a former vice president at Oppo, a company known for manufacturing high-end consumer devices such as smartphones and DVD players. He is the brainpower behind OnePlus.
Hbernate background apps so they don’t waste your battery
One of the realities for Android ownership is that when you have a lot of applications installed on your device, it can adversely affect both battery life and overall device performance. The simple reason for this is that even when you are not using an app in the foreground, there may be background services running or the app and itssoftware may be active in the background.
If you have a rooted phone, Greenify can be used to cleverly resolves this issue by completely hibernating background apps so that they no longer consume any resources. Here’s how to use it:
LG’s G2 became quite the unexpected hit with its innovative rear-mounted buttons and tiny bezels. Can its big brother repeat the feat?
If you like your phones on the big side (we don’t want to say ‘phablets’, but you know what we’re talking about…) then your choices are somewhat limited. The Samsung Galaxy Note 3 has been the one to have up to now, with commendable efforts by HTC in the form of the HTC One Max and Sony with the Xperia Z Ultra. After the good but not exceptional original G Pro, LG is back with another shot at the format with the G Pro 2. Is it the new king of the hill?
At 5.9 inches, the new device has a larger screen than the Note 3, matching HTC’s One Max. All of the devices have a full HD 1920 x 1080 resolution, which is common to all flagship devices at the moment – the forthcoming G3 will likely be the first device from a major manufacturer to make the push to Quad HD (aka QHD – 2560 x 1440). A Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 CPU is paired with 3GB RAM, again matching the Note 3 while besting the Snapdragon 600 found in the One Max, which is starting to look a little ‘last generation’ now. 16GB or 32GB of storage is onboard, expandable via micro SD, wireless connectivity is as exhaustive as you’d expect with dual-band Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0, NFC and LTE support. Imaging comes courtesy of a 13-megapixel rear camera with Optical Image Stabilisation and a 2.1-megapixel front camera.
From a design perspective, LG has very much opted for a common design language when the G Pro 2 is compared to its smaller G2 sibling. The two key elements of the design – the expansive screen with tiny bezels on the front and the innovative button placement – are immediately apparent and the former comes courtesy of the latter. By moving the buttons to the back, LG reduces the space needed around the screen allowing for an ultimately smaller device with a screen that really ‘pops’ as you use it.
A chat app that needs no internet connection
The unique selling point of this basic instant messaging app is that it works even without an internet connection or mobile signal. The original iPhone app, released a few weeks earlier, achieves this by using iOS 7’s built-in multi-peer connectivity framework that enables users to chat locally via Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. However, for the Android version, the developer had to employ a different technique: ‘multihop mesh networking’, which can be used to link devices, peer to peer, into large webs. The only problem is that the two technologies aren’t compatible, so Android users can’t talk to iOS users. Another downside is that unlike the iOS app, the Android version can’t send photos.
To start a chat with someone locally, both devices need to be fairly close – ideally within about 30 feet. Select the Nearby tab in the app and you can see how many users are within range and join conversations. In our tests, we discovered that indeed no internet connection was required to chat locally, although it seemed that at least one device needed to have Wi-Fi turned on to initiate the hook-up – after which the conversation could continue using just Bluetooth.
The obvious downside is that there is absolutely no privacy for chats, so anyone using FireChat nearby could potentially eavesdrop – or butt in – on your conversation. Nor is there any way to block another user. Indeed, the app’s Everyone mode (requiring an internet connection) is an unregulated chat room of 80 random users where all human life is present. On the plus side, you have the convenience of not having to log in and you can employ any username you like. In addition, at least your local chats should be safe from internet snoopers.
Navigating worlds that look like M.C. Escher paintings in Monument Valley, the hit game now on Android
After gaining a massive following on iOS, Monument Valley has made its long awaited debut on to Android devices. Throughout the game you play as the silent princess, navigating her through beautifully sculpted buildings across a wide selection of levels. Your main aspect of control in the game is to be able to twist and turn each tower you climb. The 3D perspectives work great and you’ll find that to complete each level, you need to turn the tower frequently enough to avoid any mistakes.
Occasionally you’ll find obstacles or enemies blocking your way, but these require only a bit of thinking to navigate past successfully. The further you get into the game, the more elaborate the towers become and the more puzzles you will face as you climb. Despite this, the difficulty never really stretches you and instead of ramping the difficulty up, the developers have helped players to simply enjoy the experience a whole lot more. The atmosphere is enhanced when you incorporate the use of sound in Monument Valley. Although there isn’t a soundtrack, as such, the game relies on environmental sounds and subtle additions here and there to highlight some of the more dramatic moments.
The most striking aspect of the game, however, has to be its graphics. Monument Valley is simply a stunning game that has been animated perfectly. Levels look unique and the minimalist theme works a treat throughout. There’s also a fairly decent story alongside the game, which although won’t win any awards, it does enough to draw the player in and offers a good amount of closure at the end.
Set up Microsoft Remote Desktop so you can access your PC from almost anywhere with your Android in just five steps.
If you’re looking for a familiar computing experience delivered to a smaller package, then this is the way to go. With an official Microsoft app, which is free to download from the Google Play store, you can get your home Windows experience up and running on your Android device. It can be a little fiddly, especially if your PC isn’t set up to work as a remote desktop, but there are some excellent tutorials on the MS website that walk you through getting your machine set up to essentially stream its desktop to your phone or tablet. This is probably the toughest of the tutorials we’re walking you through here, and it can be frustrating trying to get your PC and your phone talking to each other properly. Still, if you persevere you’ll end up with a desktop experience on your Android that means the files and folders you manipulate will be replicated on your laptop the next time you go to it, which isn’t half bad at all really.Install the app
First up you’ll need to grab the app from the Google Play store and get it installed. It doesn’t cost you a penny, but it’s a good idea to make sure the version of Windows you’re running is compatible before you do. The compatible versions of the OS are easily found via a link. Insert your details
The computer you’re connecting with needs to be on the same wireless network as your phone and you’ll need the computer’s name, and the username and password for the admin account. If you’re unsure what your laptop is called, check in its settings. Get connected
If everything has gone smoothly then you should be able to connect straight away and you’ll see the complete Windows desktop on your Android screen. Remember you’ll need to be running a compatible version of Windows. Versions that use Remote Assistance only won’t work. Get yourself going
Some things are a little different from the regular Windows experience, mainly because you’re tapping rather than using a mouse, but everything you can do on your computer you can now do on your Android. Just make sure the computer stays powered while you work. Disconnect when done
To pull the plug on the connection, all you need to do is open up the start menu and hit the Sign Out option. This will reset your Android back to a simple Android device, and leave any changes you made to your desktop as well. Pretty good for a free app we think.