Authors Posts by Sam Jones

Sam Jones

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Sam Jones always knew the place to look for the best iPhone deals. Comparison sites like uSwitch had all the information that he needed when he was looking for a bargain.

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Credit: BigStockPhoto.com

If you had a chance to analyze the Net Applications’ May 2013 release of NetMarketShare monthly operating system statistics it would be clearly obvious to you (as it is the whole world) that sales of PC’s are continuing to dive. Yes, not just fall but dive! One factor that might be further accelerating this downfall is the infamous and notorious Microsoft Windows 8.

Windows 8: the Black Sheep of the Family

Reviewing the performance of Windows 8 since its release, one can safely conclude that Windows 8 easily lags behind its predecessor Windows Vista at identical points in their life-cycles; Windows Vista being the first rogue child of Microsoft’s Windows line up.

Don’t get me wrong. Windows is still the dominant desktop operating system. Amongst all operating systems currently available for PC’s, Windows 7 is ranked at the top. This is followed by the still popular Windows XP. Vista also makes this list coming in at number 3.

But what this list does not tell us is that Windows is not the dominant END user operating system if you include tablets and smartphones. What is even more troubling is that Windows 8’s growth rate lags further and further behind Vista’s dismal numbers when it was released in 2007.

If we track the lifecycle of both Windows Vista and Windows 8, Windows 8 in its first month was behind Vista by more than 0.5%. And now – a few months on – Vista is leading by a whopping 3.64 percent. Surprisingly, Vista was considered a “flop” when it was released, yet Windows 8 is turning out to be even more so.

Windows 8.1 to the Rescue?

Enter Windows 8.1., Microsoft’s desperate attempt to stabilize the sinking ship which is Windows 8. Hoping against hope, Microsoft has re-invented Windows 8 by coming out with Windows 8.1, or blue, if you prefer.

What remains to be seen however is:

      a) Has Microsoft made the right changes? And…
      b) Did these changes come too late for fans to forgive them?

My instinct tells me that things are not going to get better for Windows 8. Be it 8.1, 8.2 or even 8.10. For one thing the changes are not that significant. Microsoft has brought back the start button (in a way) but all it does is take us back to that dreadful Metro interface. I’m pretty sure Windows XP and Windows 7 users will not care about this at all.

But even if Windows 8.1 does get users to love Windows 8 just a bit more, there is no way that it will make people fall back in love with the PC again.

Windows and PC’s on the Decline

Coming back to the overall decline of the PC and, in turn, Windows losing its dominant position as the END user operating system, the following fact cannot be overstated in the least: Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android have captured the lion’s share of the end user market and command 65% market share as compared to Windows 35%.

Another setback for Microsoft is that Windows is currently considered a non-player when it comes to tablets and smartphones, even though there are Windows phones and tablets on the market. None of Microsoft’s smartphone/tablet OS’s – be it Windows 8, Windows Phone 8, or RT – even reached 0.01% of the market share.

So What’s Next?

Microsoft took a risk by revamping Windows with Windows 8. With Windows 8 it tried to create a platform that would work on PC’s, notebooks and at the same time be suited to touch devices such as tablets, smartphones and hybrids. Where Microsoft went wrong however was when they gutted the OS of some key features that normal users had come to think of as their birth right.

No doubt, for the near future Windows will still matter because some people will always need a PC. But the question that Microsoft needs to answer is how long people will put up with substandard Windows releases?

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We’re not sure what Samsung’s game plan is, but it seems that they release a new phone almost every week! In my opinion they want to saturate all segments of the mobile market and leave people no other option but to buy a Samsung. Could be effective if it works.

In this weekly showdown, Samsung recently announced another phone from its Galaxy series, the Galaxy S4 Mini. Although I don’t really see a point in releasing a gorgeous phone like the Galaxy S4 and then following it up with a Mini version, Samsung believes that there is a market for people who want the features of the S4 but not the size.

The past few years have seen phones getting bigger and bigger with manufacturers squeezing the tablet space, but according to Samsung there is a piece of the pie to be had for the huge Mega’s and Note’s as well as the diminutive Mini’s – this being proven by the successful launch of the S3 Mini.

Price and Features

Back to the S4 Mini; the Galaxy S4 Mini is scheduled for release in July. It is also possible to pre-order the phone now, if you just can’t wait and you’re willing to spend 500 euros to get one.

Although the 500 euros price tag does seem a bit steep for the Galaxy S4 Mini, especially when an additional 50 euros gets you big brother Galaxy S4, it does make up for it with its features. The Galaxy S4 Mini plays around in the 4 inch screen area, 4.3 inches to be exact. This used to be a standard on phones a few years back but now categorizes the Mini niche.

The only other major player still operating in this area is Apple with its iPhone. In the Android space, there are very few, if any brands offering high end specs in this segment. This may be the reason for the launch of the Galaxy S4 Mini and the success of the Galaxy S3 Mini.

Another reason for giving life to the Galaxy S4 Mini (or the mini series on the whole) could be to elevate Samsung’s flagship phones (S4s, S3s) above the competition, mainly the iPhone. The Mini’s with their similar size to the iPhone can be left to tackle it and the S4s can have an open playing field.

To give you a better idea of the Galaxy S4 Mini, below is a comparison between it, the iPhone and the HTC One S

comparison chart samsung galaxy s4

If you want my perspective, the Galaxy S4 Mini has more RAM, a better front camera and is lighter, with the rest of the specs being almost equal, making it superior to both the HTC One S and the iPhone 5.

However, the difference is not as significant as it seems on paper and of course there is the question of why shouldn’t I just spend a little more and get myself the Galaxy S4 (Biggie) instead?

The Verdict

Although it does make sense to target the smaller screen niche (even when you have a hit like the Galaxy S4), the S4 Mini might not give the consumer many reasons to lose focus on the S4 itself, especially when the price difference is not that significant. It however could be another nail in the coffin for the illustrious iPhone.

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cell tower

There are plenty of mobile service operators to choose from on the UK market, and knowing which operator to go for can be confusing. Whilst most operators offer an array of packages, some networks are simply better at some things than others.

Today we’re looking at the best operator to choose for various reasons, from those that offer the best business mobile deals to those that have the biggest calling plan options. So, if you’re looking to switch operators, or you’re signing your first mobile contract, then read on to find out which operator is going to be the best for you.

The Best Coverage

Coverage is pretty important when it comes to choosing an operator. Operators have different numbers of cell towers in different areas, meaning that some networks have better service in some areas than others. You can check out coverage on an operator’s web page. Poor coverage is going to give you poor service; you’ll get bad call quality and slow mobile data speeds, and may even find that your phone doesn’t work at all.

If you live in an urban area, you’ll probably find that you get decent coverage with most operators. However, those that live in more rural locations might have more of a problem. In general, the operator that offers the best coverage is T-Mobile, so if you’re having problems with getting service, you might want to look at their plans.

The Best Business Mobile Deals

If you’re looking for business mobile deals then the best company around is going to be O2, for several reasons. Firstly, O2 offers specific business contracts, with calling plans that are geared towards business customers, with high data limits and unlimited messaging. This means that you’ll have the good reliability of service that you need in a business phone. They also offer discounts to self-employed and freelance customers. Secondly, O2 has great deals on contract business phones.

Business phones tend to be high end, expensive models, and signing an incentive contract with O2 can get you a great business phone for little or no money down. And you don’t end up paying significantly more on contract than you would if you bought the phone direct. For business customers, O2 is a great choice.

The Best Mobile Data Plans

Whilst the cost of calling minutes and text messaging is fairly uniform amongst operators, the cost of mobile data isn’t. Data often makes up the most expensive part of your calling plan, meaning that operators often offer low data limits to keep prices down. If you’re an internet addict and want a great mobile data plan then you should look at Three. Three have the cheapest data plans on the UK market, as well as some of the largest. Plus, Three’s All You Can Eat data is truly unlimited.

Many operators offer unlimited mobile data but then employ a fair usage policy. This policy allows the operator to slow down your mobile data speeds if they think that you’re using too much data, even if your plan is supposed to be unlimited. Three do not have a fair usage policy so you can use as much data as you like.

The Best Big Calling Plans

If you’re a heavy phone user then you’re probably getting some pretty hefty bills. The problem with most mobile contracts is that they put a limit on the amount of text messages, calling minutes and mobile data that you can use for your monthly fee. Once you exceed those limits you end up paying some pretty expensive extra charges for any extra services that you use. Big users often break their monthly limits and therefore get big bills.

Heavy users can benefit from signing unlimited contracts that place no monthly limits on texts, minutes and data, but these plans are often pricey. However, T-Mobile currently offers the biggest calling plan for the cheapest price. The Full Monty plan is a completely unlimited contract and costs significantly less than any other comparable plan on the market.

The Best Roaming Operator

Anyone who frequently travels knows how expensive mobile roaming charges can be. With most operators you pay not only premiums for making calls and sending texts from abroad, but also for receiving calls and texts. These charges can add up to a pretty shocking bill when you get home. If you travel a lot and need to use your mobile then the best operator for you is going to be Orange.

You’ll have to sign a regular contract and then add a roaming package as an optional extra to take advantage of their great prices, but it’s worth doing. For a small extra fee each month you can use your mobile abroad for the same prices as you pay inside the UK. Plus, Orange offers the best prices for calling abroad as well. For travelers and those with friends and family out of the country, Orange gives you some great deals.

The Cheapest Operator

When it comes to low cost, Vodafone has the cheapest calling plans on the market. Be aware that these contracts do come with very low monthly limits, particularly for mobile data. However, if you’re looking to sign the cheapest contract that you can get and can keep to the limits that you are given, then Vodafone is the company to go with. These are particularly good contracts for light phone users.

The Best Pay as You Go Operator

If you don’t want to sign a contract and prefer to have a pay-as-you-go phone then most operators will meet your needs. The costs of texts, minutes and data are pretty much the same with nearly all UK operators nowadays. The one exception is Virgin Mobile, which offers more expensive calling minutes than any other network.

When it comes to benefits, Orange probably offers more than anyone else. Their Animal Plan programs will let you choose certain perks each time you load credit on to your phone. However, benefits change weekly as companies offer deals, so it’s worth comparing networks before getting a pay-as-you-go plan.

When trying to get find great business mobile deals Sam Jones knew exactly where to look. He had great success with online price comparison sites in the past and so sites like uSwitch were the obvious choice. Start with the information in this post, and then go do your own comparison if you need more details or are in a different location.

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Compare Nokia Lumia 928 to Samsung Galaxy S4

Nokia has long been a master in the mobile phone arena, but the advent of the smartphone has thrust Samsung into the limelight. Two of the latest devices from these competing giants are the Nokia Lumia 928 and the Samsung Galaxy S4. Comparing these two devices head-to-head in a number of different categories is the best way to find out which one will suit your needs.

Android Tablet or Android Phone?

It is worth noting that there are a plethora of 7-inch tablets that are cheaper than the larger premium phones. If you are primarily looking for the bigger phones to use as an entertainment or work device then you could go for an Android Tablet. You get more power for your money with tablets than with phones. Of course you will have to buy a SIM version if you want to use the android tablet as a phone too.

Now Back to the Review and the Phone Designs

While they are similar to a certain extent, it could be said that the Nokia wins because it is more stylish than the Samsung. However, the S4 is thinner and lighter so if this is what you are looking for in a phone then the S4 would win your battle.

The design of the Lumia 928 does make it seem more solid
than the S4, and that it would survive a fall better.

The design of the volume controls can be important. Both of the devices have designs that are distinct to their manufacturer, but the S4 does seem to be more responsive. The ports incorporated into the designs are the same except for the video-out function only found on the S4. The S4 sport model also has an IR blaster, which can be used as a universal remote control.

  • The Cameras

In terms of the cameras the S4 is the winner with a 13MP camera with LED flash and a digital image stabiliser. The Lumia 928 comes with an 8.7MP camera, an optic image stabiliser and a Xenon flash.The resolution that the devices shoot at is the same. Of course, these are only the rear facing cameras.

Both devices do come with a front facing camera as well. The specs on these cameras are less impressive with the S4 having a 2MP camera and the Lumia 928 having a 1.2MP camera. In industry terms, the front facing S4 camera is pretty impressive.

  • Device Displays

The S4 does have a better screen resolution at 1080 x 1920, while the Lumia 9828 only has a resolution of 768 x 1280. Both of the devices have deep colours and wide viewing angles, but the S4 wins on the display. The S4 has sharpness to the picture that is lacking in the Lumia 928. The S4 also has increased sensitivity, which allows you to operate the display while wearing gloves.

  • Functionality and Interface

It is hard to pick a winner in the category of interfaces and functionality as this is down to personal preference. This is due to the fact that the S4 uses the Android operating system while the Lumia 928 uses Windows Phone 8. Of course, if you are looking at the depth of the device and pure functionality then the S4 is the winner. The inclusion of the newer TouchWiz Nature UX technology increases the experience of the S4 to a new level.

If you are looking for a more dynamic experience then the Windows Phone 8 interface of the Lumia 928 is the winner. The look of the interface is new and different to other phones. There are also a number of live tiles that you can use to navigate the phone. However, all of this pales into insignificance when you consider the number of features that the S4 can offer through the Android interface. Remember that the android interface is the same as found on the expensive android tablet; it is extremely functional.

If you are looking for organizer functions then the S4 is way head of the Lumia 928. The S4 uses the Google Now organizer, while the Lumia 928 is still using the Bing experience. The ease of typing on the phone is won by the Lumia 928. Many people find it easier to type on the Windows Phone 8 keyboard than the Samsung keyboard. However, you could download the excellent Swype app and get a much better typing experience on the S4.

Memory and Processors

The memory and processors of the phones are very important because you do not want lag when you try to do something. The S4 does have a better processor with the quad-core Snapdragon, which is combined with 2MB RAM.

The Lumia 928 has a dual-core processor , which is coupled with 1MB of RAM. The shocking thing with this category is that in some respects the Lumia 928 dual-core actually does better.

The time it takes to do most tasks is the same with these devices. However, there are certain activities where the S4 does lag a bit while the Lumia 928 does not. This would not affect the overall usage of the phone, but it does tell you that the newer and bigger processors do not always win.

In terms of memory the S4 does come out on top. Both of the devices come in a 32GB version, which is more than enough internal memory for most people. The upper hand for the S4 comes with the microSD slot that this device includes. The Lumia 928 does not have a slot for external memory expansion.

Internet and Connections

On the surface, the internet experience of both devices is the same. Both of these devices come with 4G connectivity and have smooth navigation and instant web page rendering. However, if you take the time to really browse the internet you will see that the S4 does come out the winner. There are a number of little features included in the Android device that improves the experience.

In terms of connectivity, these devices are quite equally matched with the same connections available. However, the Lumia 928 does have wireless charging while the S4 comes with video-out connections. There are also certain S4 models that come with the IR Blaster.

Multimedia Viewing

A lot of people view media on their phones more than anywhere else. When you are looking at music then the Lumia 928 wins. The Windows Phone 8 music player has a better interface and the device speakers give a louder and clearer sound than the S4. However, in terms of video viewing the S4 does better because of the better display.

The Battery

Both devices offer a single day of battery use if you are not doing anything too demanding. While this is ideal for the average user, heavy phone users will have to charge their phones regularly during the day.

Tablet or Phone?

If your phone is really your entertainment or workstation you really should consider an Android tablet. It is even possible to get a smartphone and tablet together in a contract, with both devices offered free of charge.

With 4G rolling around the country we are no doubt going to be doing more on our tablets and smartphones, and less on our laptops.

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iPhone 5 Samsung xperia z comparison
Click image to read Sony Xperia Z overtakes iPhone 5 in mobile phone chart
iPhone 5 Samsung xperia z comparison
Click image to read Sony Xperia Z overtakes iPhone 5 in mobile phone chart

Comparing the iPhone 5 Sony Xperia Z

Rarely have phones in the smartphone market looked as good these two devices. The manufacturers are at very different stages of their smartphone development processes. This article will look at a bit about Sony, and then a bit about Apple, and then we’ll compare these phones on their specifications. By the end we’ll come to a verdict about which is better.

Sony and their New Image

Sony has split from Ericsson in the manufacture and design of their phones. This has been an amazing decision. Sony managed to get the previous flagship model into the hands of James Bond in the film Skyfall, and certainly they have been incredibly successful with their phones in lots of different ways.

The Sony Xperia Z is a beautiful phone in the Sony mold.
It is sexy and chic yet flashy and flamboyant.

Sony have, with this phone, launched themselves into the top end of the smartphone market. For me, this is the third best phone in the market place at the moment.

The iPhone 5 and iPhone Deals

Apple had a really interesting 2012. The Apple iPhone 4S and the Apple iPhone 5 were extremely successful in the market place. Indeed, the Apple iPhone 5 was released to a fervent clamor from Apple supporters, who bought around 50 million phones in about a week.

It was one of the most successful launches in history. However, they were in and out of court with Samsung over patent infringements; fighting hard to try and protect their intellectual property. They were widely criticized by analysts in the industry for lacking innovation in their latest model.

It’s widely agreed that Apple is going to have to release a superb phone in the iPhone 5S or iPhone 6 in order to regain the attention of both consumers and the industry.

There’s some speculation that the next phone will have a 4.7 inch display and also that there will be iPhone deals on phones as cheap as $300. Only time will tell whether we will see a mega scree iPhone of 5.5 inches, and whether we will see the budget model that is being suggested.

The Phone Comparison

Without further ado, let’s have a look at the phone comparison.

  • The Operating Systems

The Sony Xperia Z runs off the Android 4.1.2 operating system, and the iPhone 5 runs off the iOS 6.1. To me, Android is always better than the iPhone operating system simply because you have more apps at 700,000 and the user interfaces are skinned for different phones and are always very interesting

 

  • Dimensions of the Phones

The Sony Xperia Z measures 139.1x71x7.9 mm, while the iPhone 5 measures 123.8×58.6×7.6 mm. In thickness they are very similar; the Sony Xperia Z is necessarily bigger in order to carry the 5 inch display instead of the 4 inch on the iPhone 5.

In terms of weight they are quite different, with the Sony Xperia Z measuring 146 grams and the iPhone 5 just 112 grams.

  • Water Resistant and Dust Proof

The Sony Xperia Z has the special feature that it is water resistant and dust-proof. It is IP 57 certified and this makes it incredibly resilient and more able to see you through the inevitable accidents over a 24-month contract.

  • The Displays

The display on the Sony Xperia Z, for me is far superior. It has 443 pixels per inch compared to 326 pixels per inch on the iPhone 5. The difference is discernible to the naked eye and the extra inch on the Sony Xperia Z really does make a difference, too.

  • Battery Life

The Sony Xperia Z far out-performs the iPhone in terms of battery life. On stand-by time, it has 550 hours, which is above the average for phones. This compares to just 9.4 hours for the iPhone 5. The iPhone 5 battery life is about half that of the average phone.

On talk time on 3G, the Sony Xperia Z again beats the iPhone, with 14 hours compared to 8 hours on the iPhone 5.

  • The Hardware

The Sony Xperia Z sports a 1500 MHz quad-core processor. The iPhone 5 sports a dual-core 1300 MHz processor. It also has double the RAM of the iPhone 5.

In memory capacity, the Sony Xperia wins again. Although the iPhone 5 and the Sony Xperia Z enter with 16 GB models, the Sony Xperia Z has a Micro SD card slot that can add an additional 32 GB of storage.

  • The Cameras

The camera on the Sony Xperia Z wins at 13.1 MP compared to 8 MP on the iPhone 5. It’s not just megapixels that dictate the quality of a camera, but they certainly help. Indeed, the Sony back camera takes better pictures than the iPhone in most conditions.

  • The Verdict

The iPhone 5 does disappoint in many regards. It simply isn’t cutting the mustard at the top end of the industry at the moment. It is still a very good phone. Certainly, Apple lovers will continue to purchase the iPhone brand series phones; however Apple will have to improve in order to keep up with the pace of technology and the amazing releases from the likes of Sony, Samsung and HTC.

It’s well worth looking out for iPhone deals on the iPhone 4S. You can get iPhone deals that represent terrific value because the iPhone 4S is still a very good phone in premium high end of the market terms, and is comparable to the iPhone 5 on performance in most regards.

Top Tip

It is easy to become fixated on the phone you want and to forget about the financials. You should set a budget and ensure you get the best phone and the best allowances you can. If you are a heavy consumer of internet on your phone then you could end up with hefty bills if you scrimp on the allowance of internet data you get. Sometimes it is a balancing act between the phone you want and the allowances that you need.

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