09
Mar
2017

The Samsung Galaxy A5 2017 – Introduction and overview

Well my venerable Asus Zenfone 2 died on me. The failure mode was quite interesting: the battery was reading about 5% when I plugged it in one day, and the charge immediately shot up to 50% and stayed there. I left it charging for a while but it never budged. I used it as normal and eventually it shut off. No “Low Battery” or “Android is shutting down” messages, just straight to black.

RIP šŸ™

So I plugged it back in and left it to charge. I have a USB current meter that proved to be useful in determining the charge rate, and I knew it was charged when the current dropped to zero (there was no charge LED). All attempts at powering the phone up were fruitless. I can get it to vibrate once but the screen won’t come on. The phone will then sit for a bit and vibrate again, and after about 2 minutes it’ll vibrate again – like it’s in some weird boot loop. I have disassembled the phone, disconnected and reconnected the battery buy no dice. The phone seems to get fairly warm whilst its doing this boot loop stuff – so I reckon there is a glimmer of life.

I could also get it to show up in Linux as an Intel device connected over USB, but it continuously disconnects and reconnects. It does not mount any storage over the USB, so I have lost all the stuff that was on the phone (which is okay, because the lot of it is on Google Drive).

Anyway, if other people have any ideas/fixes I am keen to hear them!

Obviously, being a 23-year-old, I cannot function without a smartphone. Sad, I know, but there it is. I had to switch back to my Sony Xperia U, which was a painful process. Going from a 5.5 inch screen with an Intel Quad Core 4GB RAM to a 3.5 inch screen with a dual core ARM 512MB RAM is not a pleasant experience.

I thought this used to be a big phone back in the day

I was on Pay-As-You-Go with Three for a while, and I decided it was time to just get a contract phone. I decided to go with the recently released Samsung Galaxy A5 2017 since the online reviews were strongly positive. And I gotta say – it’s entirely deserved.

This is a seriously slick phone. Very glossy, which is very nice to look at – but it seems to pick up fingerprints very easily and can be a bit slippery to hold. Also, I would advise against putting this in a pocket with your keys (I am not sure on the scratch resistance).

Above you can see how glossy the device is (sorry for the grainy photos – I was using my tablet in low light).

The screen on the phone is an AMOLED display. It is, in a word, stunning. I don’t think I have ever seen another screen quite like this. It is 1080p with a pixel density of 424ppi – plenty for my needs. It’s sharp, and with the infinite contrast ratio, I get fooled into thinking the screen is off between scenes in films and TV shows. Each pixel provides its own source of light – this eliminates the need for a backlight. This leads to someĀ incredible battery life and a neat feature where the screen can stay on, only displaying the clock and your notifications without killing the battery.

So it’s getting into the evening – I unplugged the phone at about 8am and did not plug it in at all today. I used it as a GPS twice (to work and back), whilst also using it occasionally for emails. Even with a heavy day, I have not yet managed to completely drain the battery. The supplied charger is a 9V fast charger too – it can take the phone from 10% to 90% in about 45 minutes. Awesome stuff!

As for the camera – well you can be the judge:

The rear and front cameras are both 16MP and can both record at 1080p (no 4K or slomo unfortunately). The great camera quality and screen really do make the images look awesome. Also pictured are some parts for my upcoming Ryzen build… sooooooooooon

This is just a short(ish) look into the Samsung Galaxy A5 2017 – so far I am very pleased with the device. I will be writing more about the performance and software in the upcoming weeks!

04
Feb
2016

Connect to two Bluetooth devices at once in Android

So I now use a Bluetooth-enabled car stereo, and I was also recently given a hands-free device. The stereo itself does support voice calling but I haven’t bothered to wire in the microphone, and I was thinking I might not bother and use the hands-free Jabra alongside it.

What I wanted to be able to do is play music out of the stereo over Bluetooth, and use the Jabra hands-free for voice calls. Turns out, this is not entirely straightforward on Android.

Normally, it doesn’t let you connected to two devices at once. But, it turns out you can – if you make sure that each device does not have a conflicting service!

For instance, see the screenshots below:
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If you have each device selected with different services, then you’ll be able to connect to both devices at once (if your hardware allows it). It seems to work just fine on the Asus Zenfone 2.

Anyway, hope this little snippet helps!

17
Nov
2015

Android 6.0 Marshmallow: Battery Life Improvements!

So I’ve been using the latest (as of now) version of Android for a little bit on my Nexus 7 2013 tablet and so far, I am very impressed!

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Three days of standby time! That’s so much better than even what KitKat was doing when I first got the tablet.

Lollipop was plagued with battery issues. Background processes would keep running and wasting power, resulting in a really high “Android OS” usage time:

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The above screenshot was taken from the Asus Zenfone 2, which is still only running Android Lollipop 5.0! Hurry up Asus and get Marshmallow going! The standby time on the Zenfone 2 is good but it would be so much better once it’s been updated!

More to come soon!

10
Nov
2015

Android 6.0 Marshmallow Is Here!

The OTA update finally dropped for my 2013 Nexus 7!

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Stay tuned for my thoughts and critique!

09
Oct
2015

Nexus 7 2013 Bluetooth problems fixed!

A while back I complained about Bluetooth issues with the Nexus 7 2013, where I had loads of stuttering problems. It didn’t matter what app I used, stuttering was persistent.

Fortunately, that seems to be fixed now!

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Hurrah!

11
Jul
2015

New Recommended App Game!

Behold! Agar.io!

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This is a really good App version of the online game Agar.io, where you compete with others online as blobs. You grow by eating smaller blobs and by attacking other players, with the goal to reach the No. 1 spot! I’ve already wasted far too much time on this game, and the servers can be a bit laggy (considering there are hundreds of thousands of people playing) but it is very addictive! Enjoy!

30
Jun
2015

Vessel is finally on Android!

A beta version of the video platform Vessel is now available on Android! And, even though it is in beta, it is surprisingly good!

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Video’s look great, the app hasn’t crashed for me (yet) and the app seems to be very responsive on the Google Nexus 7 2013.

One thing I don’t get is that the navigator is on the left on the desktop web version of the site, but in the iOS and Android apps its on the right. Weird, especially considering every other app in the universe puts its navigator on the left!

Finally! I don’t have to use the horribly slow iOS app on my iPhone 4 to watch stuff on Vessel!

09
May
2015

Antutu Benchmark: Some random benchmarks

I found the Antutu Benchmark on the Apple App Store, so I decided to compare my iPhone 4 to my other mobile devices:

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So the iPhone 4 scores 7353 points. The Google Nexus 7 2013 scored:

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28124 points (not too surprising since the tablet is running a quad-core Snapdragon S4 Pro vs the iPhone’s single core).

I fired up my old Sony Xperia U (1.0 GHz dual core):

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Some slightly higher scores here atĀ 9241Ā points (makes sense since the Sony has more cores). I still prefer using the iPhone over the Xperia U since the iPhone actually receives calls properly and iMessage is nice (but groups don’t work properly, more on this later).

I’m not sure if these scores are relateable between iOS and Android, but if they are it seems that my iPhone 4 actually hasĀ lessĀ processor power than my Xperia U, but still has better real-world performance. Interesting, I will be doing more benchmarks soon!

29
Apr
2015

Vessel on Android needs to hurry up!

Common guys!
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22
Apr
2015

Android 5.1 let’s you hide un-used quick settings!

Before, it was hard to remove un-used quick settings from the quick settings bar in Android 5.0. Now, Android has been updated with this:

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Just hold down the icon and press hide. Hooray!!