Friday, 19 December 2014



Good evening, Synapse Circuit Readers! Season’s Greetings! It’s great to see you as always! I hope that all is well and that you are winning in your preparations for Christmas!

Hey, are you due for an upgrade? You ought to read the Synapse Circuit Smartphone Christmas Recommendations!

#SynapseCircuitTopSmartphones #GalaxyNote4 #G3 #GalaxyS5 #MotoX2014 #MotoG4G2013 #MotoG2014 #Fonepad7LTE

I find myself asking that question almost every time I do a bit of mystery shopping visiting London’s mobile retail outlets... What happens is this: Whenever I am in a mobile retail outlet store invariably a complete stranger comes up to me and says something along the lines of, “I am done with the iPhone! It’s s**t! I am going for a...” Hold that thought! I will tell you what these men (they are all men) tell me that they are getting instead at the end... Let’s get it on! Here are my recommendations...

This is my current daily driver! The form factor is just amazing when compared to the Galaxy Notes 2 & 3; it no longer feels like a “phablet” and I am surprised to find that I can operate it with one hand – bearing in mind my hands are quite big! I take a size ‘large’ in Marigold gloves! The real metal edge really does make a difference but I would have gotten the Note 4 regardless because the Galaxy Note concept is the pinnacle of Android handsets. In my mind it destroys the iPhone 6 Plus in every way:-

* 5.7” Quad-HD screen; the best screen going!
* 16MP camera; 4K video recording and excellent 1080p video options!
* Android & TouchWiz combination is outstanding as it allows for great functionality!
* The S Pen; the latest S Pen design is awesome and in use it feels very natural!
* Removable battery and storage expansion via microSD card up to 128GB! Superb!
* The design is far more superior; the iPhone 6 and Plus are the blandest designs ever!

Read the full review here: Synapse CircuitGalaxy Note 4 Review

It’s unsurprising that the Galaxy Note 4 has become more desirable than the Galaxy S5 as Synapse Circuit predicted that the 5 inch plus form factor is no longer an issue; the Galaxy S4 just looks like a Galaxy Note (3 & 4) mini in comparison. We LOVE the big screen form factor than not! Sure, there are those out there that say they prefer a smaller screen yet the demand for the larger screen keeps escalating!

Please note (see what I did there?) that despite the up to 6” handset there are apps specifically for the tablet! Don’t kid yourself thinking, “Yeah, I have the best of both worlds!” No! What you have is a darned good handset but there are some useful apps out there on the tablet! Let’s move on...

2. LG G3
LG did exceptionally well with the LG G3; it beat Samsung by placing a quad-HD screen on a premium handset! Some may argue that the Galaxy S5 should have come second but when you take the unique design and simple functionality into consideration this is what made the G3 one of the best premium handsets on the market today and it no doubt affected the Galaxy S5 sales.

The 5.5” q-HD screen justifies what I have been saying all along about ‘Phablet Phenomenon’. Another thing is that LG decided to add a removable battery! Well done! The 13MP camera is pretty darned good too! There’s storage expansion via microSD card up to 2TB! WOW!!!

For some reason Samsung didn’t release the UK version of the Galaxy 5 with a quad-HD screen however they (Samsung) put a great deal of effort into making the Galaxy S5 everyday proof with water and dust resistance. The pulse reader helped to make the Galaxy S5 a must have for Android sportspersons with the enhanced S Health functionality!

The Galaxy range of camera is consistently excellent and the Galaxy S5 16MP camera gave it a considerable advantage for ardent mobile photography fans! If correct the 16MP camera is the same one that is in the Galaxy Note 4! Again, the removable battery and microSD up to 128GB!

Now if you prefer to buy your handset outright and you’re looking for a balance between features, hardware and functionality then the Motorola Moto X 2014 might be an option! What is immediately striking about the Moto X 2014 is the brilliant design what with the front-facing speakers! What’s more is that you are able to customize the Moto X 2014 to look the way you want it to which is a great idea! The base Moto X 2014 costs £419 that gives you:-

* 5.2" AMOLED full HD 1080p display.
* 13MP camera which is above average - not the best but very good.
* 16GB storage
* 2.5GHz quad-core Snapdragon CPU from Qualcomm

Considering that some of the super-premium handsets can cost around £650 to £750 the Moto X 2014 is very competitively priced. See the full review here: Synapse Circuit Moto X 2014 Review

One unique feature is the ability to use your voice to interact with the handset! It’s also water resistant!

5. MOTOROLA MOTO G – 2013 & 2014
WOW!!! Motorola certainly came back from the abyss with a range of handsets from premium to budget! Here in joint fifth are the Moto G 2013 4G and 2014 3G models! Let’s start with the last year’s Moto G...

Moto G 4G around this time last year sold out in just about every mobile retail outlet in London! It costs £145 and you do get quite a decent handset for the money – especially with 4G connectivity thrown into the mix!

* 4.5” 1280 X 720 HD, 329 ppi display!
* 8GB of internal storage; microSD cards up to 32GB
* Qualcomm MSM8x26 quad-core A7 1.2GHz
* 5MP camera

If you like your handset compact and modest then this will certainly do the job! It’s so inexpensive that it could become a secondary handset or ideal for a teenager.

The second generation Moto G came back strong but controversially without 4G! The screen gets bumped up to 5 inches but the ppi is reduced from 329 to 294, the design is in keeping with the Moto X 2014 and the amazing front-facing stereo speakers and an updated Qualcomm 1.2GHz quad-core CPU! Just add £5 to the cost! The camera is upped to 8MP and it is very good!

The great advantage with both models is that you get more or less a pure vanilla Android experience! You just have to weigh up if the 5” screen and front-facing stereo speakers are more desirable than having 4G! I personally went with the 2014 model as I have 3 main 4G handsets that I use daily! Both handsets represent exceptional value! It has been understood that the Google Nexus 5 handset is no more once the stock has sold out, well the Moto G models can replace it – kind of! What I do hope for is a second generation Nexus 5 that will be a step up from the Moto G 2014 i.e. full HD 5.2” display, 2GB RAM, 16GB storage, 2GHz quad-core CPU, 13MP camera and stereo front-facing speakers for around £200! Oh, it’s gotta have 4G too! The potentially huge 6” display on the Nexus 6 may prove to be too much for some but I like it! Speaking of the Nexus 6, I didn’t get an opportunity to review it – maybe next year! However, it does look good though!

Oh, the Moto G 2014 has a dual nano SIM capability! Cool!

Motorola Moto G 2014 Review

And lastly...

Okay, this might seem like an odd choice but if you are looking for a true “phablet” then the Fonepad 7 LTE could truly offer you the best of both handset and tablet!

* 4G LTE!
* 7" 1280x800 display!
* 2X2:Intel® Atom™ Multi-Core Z2560 Processor 1.6 GHz with Intel Hyper-Threading Technology!
* Dual front speakers!
* 16 GB of internal storage!
* 1.2 MP front-facing camera and 5MP rear camera!
* MicroSD expandable up to 32GB!

The only downside is that on the fly you will need a Wi-Fi connection if you want to use it as a phone! Unfortunately, because it is a 7” device it is registered as a tablet and as a result you can’t use the data aspect of a standard SIM. If you haven’t read my solutions to this proposition here’s what you can do:-

1. You can use a Mi-Fi device which is a personal Wi-Fi unit; most network providers offer up to 15GB of data for around £15 to £20 on 4G!

2. If you happen to have a main driver (another handset) you can use it as a personal Wi-Fi spot and tether the Fonepad 7 LTE to it – especially if you have an unlimited data plan! Some network providers prevent tethering or limit it to around 2GB! You can get around this by using a tethering app – the best ones are usually the ones you pay a little for!

3. You can rely on “trusted” Wi-Fi spots i.e. if you are a coffee bar poser like I sometimes am the Wi-Fi in such places is usually free!

4. I am quite sure that you can use a data only SIM that typically gives you 1GB for around £8 or 10GB for around £15! Obviously, you will have to shop around for the best value. Do ask your network provider to give you a deal as you are a long term costumer and you might get the 10GB for £10 or £12 instead of £15!

From there you download these free messaging, voice and video calling apps such as Viber, Skype, LINE, Kakao, Tango and WeChat for fine examples as alternatives to a typical mobile SIM. When used sparingly such a set-up can work! But you have to be careful of apps that use data in the background – especially social networks, news and weather feeds and GPS!

The choice is yours!

The Fonepad 7 LTE costs around £200 but considering you get a tablet and a phone it is pretty good value! Once again, there are some apps that are only available to the tablet and you may find that these apps are crucial to your daily operations. It would be ideal for network providers to allow for the standard SIM to work with phone enabled tablets in the foreseeable future!

Fonepad 7 LTE Review

If you are thinking of leaving the iTunes phone ecosystem here are some sound reasons to go Android!

01. If you are not going to be anal about this idea of “premium” you can pick up a decent handset for a much lower price ratio in comparison to the iPhone either to purchase outright or on a monthly contract!

02. You have so much choice! You can have a screen size that suits you!

03. There are so many different designs to choose from! The HTC One M8 is a great looking handset and you are probably wondering why it is not on this list...’s the camera that lets it down! Other than that it does look amazing! If photo and video is important to you like it is to me then the HTC One M8 will almost certainly disappoint! But if you just take pictures to update your social networks, etc then give it a go by all means!

04. In addition to having different internal memory configurations you can extend the storage with a microSD card!

05. As a power-user you might appreciate that many Android handsets come with a removable battery! Nothing worse than having a phone for business only for the battery to die on you midday!

06. If you are not going to be anal about this idea of “premium” you can pick up a decent handset for a much lower price ratio in comparison to the iPhone either to purchase outright or on a monthly contract!

07. The key Google apps i.e. Drive (Docs, Sheets and Slides), Chrome, Translate, etc communicates better in the Android environment.

08. Google Now is better than Siri!

09. You can get a hybrid phone and 7” tablet that will not break the bank!

10. The Android operating system gives you more scope and is not as restrictive as iOS.

11. Android productivity apps outputs to a file format compatible with PC and Mac!

12. By rooting (jailbreaking on the iPhone) handset you can choose from a fairly wide range of custom ROMs and have more control over your device and privacy.

13. If you are not happy with the user interface overlay such as TouchWiz, Zen and others you can replace it / them with a launcher! Not forgetting that Android has great widgets to add to the customization!

14. If you are not happy with the default keyboard you can replace it with another and / or have multiple keyboards that you might use for different apps. That said, I personally prefer the official Google Keyboard app as it does the job! At the moment, as far as I am aware, third party keyboards meant for use with iOS brings up instability issues!

15. In addition to Google Now you can use virtual assistant apps such as Speaktoit Assistant that allows the user to give voice commands to interact with the handset.

You’ve invested into the OSX and iOS ecosystems i.e. your desktop / laptop is a Mac; you may think that it is easier to keep everything firmly uniformed.

Yes, I opened this article with various strangers approaching me in mobile retail outlets that randomly tell me what they think of the iPhone and why they are ditching it. Here’s the handsets they are getting instead:-

1. Samsung Galaxy Note; it was version 3 at the time and it wouldn’t surprise me if there is more of an uptake for the latest and best version, 4.

2. Samsung Galaxy S; at the time of being approached the Galaxy S5 was and still is on the market.

3. Sony Xperia Z3; the Sony handset has made quite an impact on the mobile phone market. Many people like that designs, I don’t appreciate the design of Sony handsets.

4. HTC One M8; many people love the design and metal body of the One M8 (and M7) but I wonder if they are happy with the camera results.

5. LG G3; LG has created a fantastic design language in the G3 that makes it so very desirable over many handsets. I make no secret that I am a Samsung person primarily for the build, functionality, removable battery, microSD card and power but the G3 is very tempting. It could very well be that my next handset will be a choice between the Galaxy S6 and the G4! But well done, once again, to LG for this stunning design!

I still have no clue as to why 90% of the time I visit a mobile retail outlet that a total stranger approaches me to let me know what he feels about the iPhone and why he is ditching it!

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Yes, I am well aware that the site is due an update soon! It’s coming...

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