Opinion

Some thoughts on the new iPhone 5c and the iPhone 5s

I wasn’t going to write anything about these because I didn’t think I had anything to say but then I thought what the hell.

iPhone 5c

So the iPhone 5c. Honestly, I’m not surprised Apple didn’t make a cheap iPhone. They did the same with the MacBook Air. Everyone expected them to make a cheap MacBook Pro. Instead, the priced it higher than what people expected but delivered a better product. They did the same with the iPhone. They still have the 4S if you want a cheaper iPhone. Anything cheaper than that would come with severe compromises and that’s not how Apple rolls.

The new colors look nice. I know Nokia likes to take credit for the colors but it’s not like Apple never made anything in color (just look at the iPods and the previous Macs). Let’s not even get into what Nokia phones looked like before the iPhone. And Nokia has been making color phones since ages now. If Apple was taking inspiration from Nokia, every iPhone since the first one would be in color. And they would be selling their hardware division to Microsoft. But let’s not make fun of the dead. 

Reviews

Hands-on with the Samsung Galaxy S4

So finally got a chance to spend some time with the Galaxy S4 yesterday. Honestly, I wasn’t expecting much since for all intents and purposes it is a Galaxy S III S/+/Advance/Whatever. But I was still fairly impressed by the device.

Let’s start with the design. The design sucks; there are no two ways about it. The Galaxy S III design has grown on me over time but it still looks meh. The S4 actually looks bit worse because of the crazy pattern Samsung has going on on the surface. The brushed metal finish on the S III looked way better in comparison. It’s still cheap looking, glossy plastic and feels cheap in your hands. The build quality is good, though. As in, it feels cheap but it doesn’t creak or flex in your hands and Samsung’s plastic is known to be durable.

The improvement in design comes from the flat sides, which makes the S4 easier to hold than the S III. The S III is fairly usable for such a large phone but the curved edges constantly slip from your hands. The sharper, flat sides of the S4 provide better grip and makes it one of the most ergonomic large screened phones I’ve used. Samsung also has a convenient key arrangement on the sides, which reduced unnecessary stretching of fingers.

The display looks fantastic. The higher resolution completely compensates for the PenTile matrix’s shortcomings and even after staring long and hard I couldn’t spot individual pixels, leave alone any sub-pixel irregularities. The panel is also an improvement over the S III’s. It’s brighter, the colors are more natural and does not have that greenish tint that plagues the S III’s display. There are also some color options that let you tone down the saturation levels further.

Compared to the One’s display, the S4’s display looks every bit as good. The colors are more saturated but I don’t think that’s a bad thing. It’s a matter of preference and a lot of people prefer it that way (the way people prefer big bass over natural, uncolored sound). You can fall in love with either display and you won’t be wrong. I prefer the S4’s display, simply because it is bigger, without the phone itself being any bigger than the One.

The software on the S4 is ridiculous. I generally prefer Samsung’s customizations but they have gone way overboard this time. Sure, you can turn off everything but there are just so many things to turn off this time it’s frustrating. Just look at this image of the expanded notification screen to get an idea of some of the software features on the phone.

The software also looks ugly. I’m fairly used to TouchWiz now but the color combination still looks jarring and puerile compared to the simplicity of stock Android or even the new Sense 5. You get used to it after a while but I wished Samsung concentrated more on the design than simply adding more features. There is one nice touch, though. The lockscreen animation is fantastic. It’s a bit hard to explain and is best experienced first hand so make sure you check it out when you use the phone.

From the short time I spent with it I think on its own the S4 is a really good smartphone and if you ordered it or are going to get one then you made a fine choice. Between this and the One, it’s a matter of personal preference and you can’t go wrong with either. I’d go with the S4 because of the bigger screen, higher resolution camera (Yeah, you need those extra pixels. Fuck those who say megapixels don’t matter. They don’t know jack shit. Try taking crops from a 4 megapixel sensor and you’ll know what I mean.) and some useful software features among the sea of useless ones. But if hardware feel matters to you or if you need a phone with speakers louder than most laptops then the One is also an excellent choice.

As for upgrading from the S III? I wouldn’t recommend it. Being an S III owner myself, I was fairly impressed by the improvements on the S4. However, I don’t think they are big enough to warrant upgrading to this phone, especially not at the current price. Perhaps later down the year I might change my mind if the price drops significantly but if you have an S III and would want to hold on for the next year’s model I would say you’re making a sensible decision.

Opinion

If you’re importing the Nexus 4, here’s something you should consider

I believe I am a bit late in writing this but if you still haven’t pre-ordered your Nexus 4 there is something you need to consider.

Most gadgets launched these days have some technical issues in the first batch. These issues usually surface immediately in the first couple of weeks after the device goes on sale. The companies are usually quick to rectify them in the later batches and if you bought one from the earlier ones they will quickly replace them for you.

Except if you live miles away in a different continent.

Now I’m not saying the first batch of Nexus 4 will have hardware issues but if they do there is no way to know until the phone has been out in people’s hands for a while. If you were in the US, you could just send the device back for replacement. But what will you do if you imported the device? Wait for LG to sell the phone here in the hopes that they might be able to fix the problem?

Which is why I suggest you hold your horses for a month or so to see if there are any issues with the initial batch. If that is not the case and you don’t hear any major problems being reported then by all means go ahead with your purchase.

P.S. – I admit I did not think of this while I was trying to pre-order the device for myself earlier this week.

Opinion

Regarding the Nexus 4 pricing in India

Google finally announced the Nexus 4 earlier this week, even though weather in the US tried its best to stop the launch (for what it’s worth, Google couldn’t hold the event and had to rely on press releases to make people aware of the launch). Other than the impressive hardware, which is basically the Optimus G in a different body running stock Android, the other impressive aspect about it is the price, which at $299 and $349 for the 8 and 16GB models unsubsidized is great.

The thing is, I don’t think we will get the same prices in India. Or anywhere close, for that matter.

There are couple of reasons why this phone is so cheap in the US. First of all, the Nexus devices were never about making money off the hardware but to showcase the platform and push it to as many buyers as possible. It’s a long term game, where Google, just like Amazon, plans on reaping the benefits from a platform used by millions of people, through ads and content sales from their store.

Secondly, the Nexus 4 does not have LTE, for which Google has its own reasons but then they also can’t, in good conscience, price it the same as other LTE smartphones, regardless of how capable the phone might be otherwise.

Things are different in India. Google doesn’t sell as much content in most of the markets outside the US, so they have few reasons to offer the Nexus devices there, leave alone at a low price.

Moreover, there is no LTE in India, so the battleground is even and actually tilted in favor of the Nexus 4. If the phone is launched in India, it will instantly become the best Android smartphone on the market. Period. Nothing else comes close, neither in terms of hardware nor the software. To think LG would sell this phone cheaper than some of its own phones even though it is significantly better would be naive. For reference, LG’s current flagship phone, the Optimus Vu, costs 30k in India and it’s nowhere as good as the Nexus 4.

This leaves two options in front of LG; either price the phone high enough to not jeopardize its own smartphones or not sell the phone in India at all. Either way it sucks for the buyers but I have a feeling LG would go with the second option. I know they said that they might launch the phone in November in India but then again, ASUS also said they’ll announce the Nexus 7 in October and we’re yet to see that happen.