Monday, 9 March 2015

Free Internet is like Facebook does philanthropy, but with my money: Vodafone CEO

Taking on social networking giant Facebook’s ambitious ‘free internet’ plans, telecom major Bharti Airtel chief Sunil Mittal has said the companies should do ‘philanthropy’ if they stop charging for mobile internet.
Facebook has launched an ‘’ initiative under which users can access internet free of charge for select websites if they come through a partner telecom operator.

Incidentally, Airtel Africa is one such partner for Facebook, while rival Reliance Communications has partnered Facebook in India for this initiative, which is based on assumption that bringing more people to the internet fold by offering them free service initially is good for the industry.
Mittal, who met Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg at the Mobile World Congress, said that the social networking major is right in its thinking that such a would expand the market, but telecom operators also need to get their revenues and charge for the services.
“I told him (Zuckerberg) that you are right that this ( expands the market. At the end, you must understand that we (telecom operators) need to charge you for something. SMSes have gone more or less, voice is going down and they (Facebook) recognise that,” Mittal said in a media interaction here.
“If you are going to make the data free, then let’s do completely philanthropic projects. Government must make spectrum free, there should be free network, but it is not happening,” the billionaire industrialist said, while adding that telecom companies were as such not making large money.
At the same event, UK-based telecom giant Vodafone’s global CEO Vittorio Colao reportedly said about Facebook’s free-of-cost internet plan that “it is almost like Zuckerberg does philanthropy, but with my money.”
The comments, incidentally, come at a time when a high-pitched auction is underway in India for spectrum and committed bids worth about Rs 86,000 crore have come in within first four days of bidding — crossing the minimum targetted amount of Rs 82,000 crore. The auction will resume tomorrow, as more unsold spectrum is left and there are expectations that the overall auction may cross Rs 1 lakh crore.
Telecom companies say they invest billions of dollars in spectrum, network and other operations, but they argue that internet-based entities offering pseudo-telecom services are piggy-backing on the mobile operators’ networks without bearing much investments on their own.
Mittal cautioned that investments in mobile networks by industry will go down as Internet-based messaging and calling services are ‘cannibalising’ revenues of telecom firms.
“He (Zuckerberg) is saying that make lite version of Facebook free of data charge, so that people will upgrade. People will come to internet for the first time. The point is that it is self-serving for them,” Mittal said. Telecom operators have been facing pressure on their financials from the emergence of a number of Over-The-Top (OTT) firms like Facebook (through its WhatsApp messaging service), Skype and Viber, which on their part claim to be helping telecom operators grow business.
“We (telecom operators, social media and over-the-top players) are good for each other but they, regulators and politicians must understand that networks’ investment must be on reasonable terms. Gone are the days when telecom companies were making large amounts of money,” Mittal said.
“OTT players must understand pains of the mobile industry. Sometimes we are seeing as gatekeeper, bad guys. The fact of matter is spectrum – there is cost, network there is cost and tariff has gone up by only 3 paise in last three years,” he added.
In December, Airtel had announced separate charges for Internet based calling services but withdrew it after an outcry on social media.
“The rate that we announced was exactly the same rate as a voice call. If you do one minute VoIP (internet based calls) in kilobyte terms it would be exactly the same as voice call. It was exactly the same as one minute call,” Mittal said.

Motorola Moto Turbo With 5.2-Inch QHD Display Launched at Rs. 41,999

Motorola India over the weekend teased the launch of the Motorola Moto Turbo in the country, and now, Flipkart on Monday has started taking pre-orders for the smartphone, which is priced at Rs. 41,999. The Flipkart page notes that the smartphone will be released in the third week of March.

The online retailer is also giving away launch day offers such as 100 percent cashback for 25 consumers and extra 10 percent off on the handset if purchased with American Express Cards. Notably, both the offers are only valid for Monday.

The Motorola Moto Turbo is a new variant of the Motorola Moto Maxx, which is the global variant of the Motorola Droid Turbo that is exclusive to US mobile carrier Verizon. Back in February, Flipkart teased the launch of the high-end Moto Turbo on Flipkart without revealing more details about the handset.
(Also see: Motorola Moto Turbo vs Samsung Galaxy S6 vs HTC One M9 vs Xiaomi Mi Note)

Going by Flipkart's listing of the Moto Turbo, the handset comes with identical specifications as the Moto Maxx. It also sports two material builds - Ballistic Nylon and Kevlar Fibre on the rear.

Samsung Galaxy S6, S6 edge pre-orders reach 20 million

Samsung Electronics has more reasons to celebrate as its latest flagship Android devices received a total of 20 million pre-orders. That's a record high for the South Korean tech giant who is hoping that the two new models will exceed the past smartphones particularly the Galaxy S4 and Galaxy S5. The first country to receive pre-orders of the Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 edge was the Netherlands.

Information about the record-breaking pre-order came from an unidentified Samsung executive. He said that the Galaxy S6 received 15 million orders while the Galaxy S6 edge got 5 million from various mobile carriers all over the world. In Europe, the contract-free entry level Galaxy S6 (32GB) is priced at 700 euros (about $759) while the S6 edge is 850 euros ($921).

Shin Jong-kyun, Samsung Electronics' Mobile Chief, shared with the Korean media during the MWC last week that the response to the two new Galaxy models was better than before and as expected. He noted that pre-orders "are really huge". This is good news for a big company who suffered huge losses the past few months in the high-end phone category.

This year, Samsung is said to launch an aggressive promotional campaign to market the Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 edge, hoping to making a lot of money before Apple outs the next iPhone model.

The Galaxy S5 wasn't exactly a winner compared to the Galaxy S4 but the S6 and S6 edge seem better with the Exynos 7420 processor, more memory, and the flexible OLED display screen. More than a week after the official launch, the two latest Galaxies have scored highest in a recent processor benchmark.

Here is a quick rundown of the specs of the Android 5.0 Lollipop-powered Galaxy S6 and S6 edge: 5.1-inch OLED QHD display, 2560 x 1440 pixel resolution, Corning Gorilla Glass 4, Exynos 7420 processor, 32GB/64GB/128GB built-in storage capacity, LPDDR 3 3GB RAM, 16 megapixel main camera with optical image stabilizer.

Do you think the Samsung Galaxy S6 and S6 edge will beat the past Galaxy models?

Best smartphones to look forward to in 2015

Best smartphones to look forward to in 2015
With the pace of smartphone evolution moving so fast, there's always something waiting in the wings. No sooner have you spied the latest handset, then there's anticipation of something else, the next big thing to envy.
We've rounded up the best smartphones for 2015, those we consider to be the best across all platforms, and we've regularly updated that list as the smartphone world has evolved.
You can find those in our Best smartphones 2015: The best phones available to buy today feature.
Here we're looking at those phones that haven't yet launched, those we know are coming, or are anticipated. As we run towards Mobile World Congress 2015, we enter the busiest time of the year for smartphone launches.
We'll be updating this list on a regular basis, with those device rumours we think are credible and exciting, and devices just announced but yet to hit the shelves.

HTC One M9

The HTC One M9 is an evolution of the M8 in may ways. It sticks to a similar design, but adds refinement at every level. We loved the M8 design and the M9 just makes it tighter, sharper and more premium than ever before. 
Importantly it's better in the hand than the M8, with a more defined profile so it sits well in the hand. It also hasn't grown from 2014. In fact, it's slightly smaller, but still offers a 5-inch full HD display, which is lovely.
Internally there's plenty of power with the latest Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 chipset and 3GB of RAM. There's been a switch around in the cameras too, with 20-megapixels on the rear and the 4-megapixel UltraPixel on the front, which should address some of the criticisms of the previous handset.
There's been some fun elemments added to Sense 7, but it pretty much sticks to the experience that was there before. It sits nicely on top of Android 5.0 and it's slick and fast from what we've seen so far.
Some might say that the HTC One hasn't changed enough from the previous device and in some ways that's true. If you're happy with your M8, this isn't a complete reinvention. But this is a phone that carries a lot of luxury with it.
HTC One M9 will be available at the end of March 2015.
READ MORE HTC One M9: The devil is in the details (hands-on)

Samsung Galaxy S6

Samsung didn't have the success it wanted with the SGS5, so it's a total overhaul with the Galaxy S6 (and its parter in crime, the S6 edge). 
Unveiled at Samsung Unpacked at Mobile World Congress 2015, the SGS6 certainly feels premium: it's all machined metal and Gorilla Glass 4 both front and back. That's the kind of finish we've been calling for for a couple of years and here, finally, Samsung has really pulled it off. However, it does mean a non-removable battery in this latest model.
Behind the front glass is a 5.1-inch Quad HD Super AMOLED screen that, in typical Samsung style, looks great. It's all punchy colour and contrast across the 2560 x 1440 resolution panel, and thanks to slender edge bezel the phone feels an ideal size, avoiding the wide phablet territory of some competitors, such as the LG G3.
Interestingly Samsung has ditched Qualcomm as its processor partner, instead opting for the self-made Exynos chipset comprising a 64-bit octa-core setup (pairing quad-core 1.5GHz and quad-core 2.1GHz units with 3GB DDR4 RAM).
Now that's all a lot of numbers, but it's an important change: with the SGS5 we felt there was a little something lacking in terms of user interface fluidity, and having used the SGS6, which runs on Android Lollipop out of the box, it felt slicker. How well it holds up after extended use we'll have to wait and see when we review the phone in full.
Claims of the best smartphone camera money can buy were rife at the Unpacked conference too, the Korean giant particularly keen to peck away at Apple and the iPhone 6. Combining 16-megapixels on the front with an f/1.9 lens and optical image stabilisation the latest software works a charm.
Elsewhere the SGS6 has a fingerprint scanner and heart-rate monitor tech as per the SGS5, but none of the waterproofing of the earlier model. Something had to give for that new design and, this time around, it's the ruggedness for the sake of design. Samsung does also range Active products, so perhaps we'll see an S6 Active in the future as recompense.
Overall we think Samsung has done a cracking job with the Galaxy S6 - but it's the S6 edge (below) that really pushes things that much further.
READ MORE Samsung Galaxy S6 preview: Giving the people what they want

Samsung Galaxy S6 edge

The Samsung Galaxy S6 edge takes the curved concept of the Note 4 and wraps it around a wholly different idea. In essence it's a design piece; a darn good-looking slice of phone design at that, with the left and right screen edges curving away in an almost bezel-free format.
The functionality, however, isn't there as it is in the Note Edge. Sure, the S6 edge has a favourite callers feature, accessed from a click-and-drag of the side edge, but it's not the full-on secondary app listing.
And we don't have a problem with that, because the S6 edge is all about Samsung showing off what it can do in design terms. Curved glass, a metal body, and all the top specs pulled directly from the "standard" S6 squeezed into a phone like no other.
Our moans about it are fairly minor: it feels too light for a 5.1-inch phone (that might sound like a bonkers complaint, but it feels like a stiff breeze would pinch this phone from the hand); the various finishes seem capable of sucking in the world's supply of grubby fingerprints (it's a total magent for them); and like the SGS6 there's no waterproofing or removeable battery.
The only question now is whether this curved screen version of the S6 will cost the earth. We hope not because, well, just look at it. It's lush.
READ MORE Samsung Galaxy S6 edge: Bye bye bezel

Microsoft Lumia 640 XL

This 5.7-inch Lumia gives you a big screen Windows Phone experience, but really isn't that expensive. That's not uncommon for Windows devices recently, with the Lumia 640 XL available from €189, which sounds like a bargain.
It isn't the most powerful Windows Phone available, but there's some intesting details, like the 13-megapixel camera on the rear with Zeiss optics. There's also a 5-megapixel camera on the front, making it more appealing than the regular Lumia 640 it launched alongside.
In the hand it feels pretty good and although big, we think it's just about managable. The design is typical of Microsoft Devices in the post-Nokia era, and although it's plastic, it feel solid enough.
The 640 XL was launched alongside plenty of talk about Windows 10, but it's running Windows Phone 8.1 with Lumia Denim. It was slick and fast enough in our demo, but there's no telling what the real-world performance will be like.
READ MORE Microsoft Lumia 640 XL: Big brute packs in Zeiss lens (hands-on)

Sony Xperia Z4/Z3S

Of all the devices forthcoming, least is known about Sony's plans for the Sony Xperia Z4. Sony didn't have an event at MWC 2015, as it skipped out of its previous hardware cycle.
There isn't a huge amount to go on, but it's suggested that we'll see a slightly new face on the Z4 with a repositioning of the front-facing speakers, and perhaps a step up to Quad HD resolution for the display. It's been suggested that the casing will be exactly the same, rather than there being a redesign.
Rumours suggest an updated camera too, but still with 20.7-megapixels and optical image stabilisation on the back. A boosted front camera is likely too, as is Android 5.0 Lollipop.
There's no date on the Sony Xperia Z4 release at the moment, but with MWC out of the way, we suspect Sony will let things settle, before announcing it's next superphone later in 2015.
READ MORE Sony Xperia Z4 rumours

HTC One M9 Plus

The rumour of the HTC One M9 Plus has come up a couple of times. It was suggested that the HTC One M9 Plus would appear alongside the HTC One M9 at MWC, but that wasn't the case.
So that might mean that we're still expecting this other device to surface. There's talk of a 5.5-inch display, so it's not much bigger than the 5-inches of the HTC One M9.
Images have appearing of a device with Duo Camera, so it might be that HTC is going to stick to that concept for this second device. We'd expect the internal hardware to be the same - Qualcomm Snapdragon 810, 3GB RAM - but using the Duo Camera would be an interesting move following its lukewarm reception in 2014.
It's also been suggested that the HTC One M9 Plus will be limited release, perhaps destined for Asia only.
READ MORE HTC One M9 Plus news and rumours

Sony Xperia Z4 Compact and Ultra

The Sony Xperia Z4 Compact is apparently going to arrive with 3GB of RAM, a 20.7-megapixel camera, 32GB storage, and a 4.7-inch screen with 1080p resolution. You can also expect a 3,000mAh battery, Cat 9 LTE, wireless charging and IP68 water and dust proofing.
The Sony Xperia Z4 Ultra should arrive with a 6.44-inch display with a QHD resolution. It should also come with 3GB of RAM but a smaller 16-megapixel camera and larger 4,000mAh battery. Unlike previous versions of the Ultra this model should also come with a stylus.
Sony has made a start on the Z4 family with a new 10-inch tablet, but there's been no sign of any phones just yet.
READ MORE Sony Xperia Z4 news

Huawei Ascend P8

Huawei has confirmed that the Ascend P8 is coming and that it will be launched at a global event in London on 15 April.
Aside from pinning a date on the launch of this new handset, Huawei has said little else about it and there's been no leaks to speak of either. However, given that the focus has been on thin and light, we'd expect that to continue.
Huawei has also used its own hardware, so it will probably come with the latest generation of HiSilicon chipset and with Huawei being one of the largest providers of telecommunication infrastructure, you can bet it will be well-specced for 4G LTE support too.
Huawei's big consumer play has often been the camera performance, so we'd expect something like a 13-megapixel rear and 8-megapixel front camera. 
Whether there will be an Arsenal FC special edition remains to be seen.
READ MORE Huawei Ascend P8 rumours and news



The LG G4 could arrive with the smallest bezel on any screen yet, if the prototype devices shown off by LG are anything to go by. We're expecting a screen around 5.5-inches, probably with a 2K resolution, like the G3.
LG has said in an interview that the LG G4 will have a radically different design to the G3 and could possibly use metal in the body. There's some discussion around whether it will use the Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 chipset, or use its own hardware that is in development. 
LG has also confirmed that there's work to be done around the user interface, with a desire to clean things up for the user. LG has confirmed that a new user interface will be revealed before the LG G4 is announced.
There have been previous reports that the G3 will be given a year in the market before the update is announced, which would give us a date of late May or early June for the LG G4 release.
READ MORE LG G4 what to expect

Asus ZenFone 2

Asus has been one of the first companies to launch a new device in 2015. The Asus ZenFone 2 was launched at CES 2015.
Asus has stuck with Intel for the hardware, with an Intel Atom Z3580 paired with 4GB of RAM, which should make for a really powerful handset.
There's a 5.5-inch display, with 1920 x 1080 pixel resolution as well as a 13-megapixel camera on the rear. Asus is making great claims about this camera, saying it will offer low light performance like you haven't seen before. We'll be the judge of that.
The ZenFone 2 has rear volume controls, like the LG G3, and it ships with Android 5.0 Lollipop skinned with Asus' Zen UI.
Fortunately, despite some premium specs, the ZenFone 2 comes with the $199 starting price tag. We're yet to hear exactly where it will be on sale, however.
READ MORE Asus ZenFone 2 preview

Asus ZenFone Zoom

We didn't see this one coming, until Asus teased "optical zoom" in an oh-so-obvious way. But Asus now has a smartphone with optical zoom that was announced at CES 2015.
There aren't many cameras with optical zoom around and the ZenFone Zoom is a world away from the Samsung Galaxy K Zoom. Samsung's model is more like a camera, however, with 10x optical zoom and a 20MP sensor, along with Xenon flash. The Asus, however, is fairly slimline, cramming the 3x optical zoom 13MP camera into a body that's still pretty slim.
To assist that camera is laser autofocusing, but we're yet to see if this all fuses together nicely, or if it's a mish-mash experience.
Elsewhere the Asus ZenFone Zoom has a 5.5-inch display and will launch with Android 5.0 Lollipop, along with Zen UI. It's still some way off, however, with no word on when it might be available.
READ MORE Asus ZenFone Zoom eyes-on

Microsoft Lumia 1020 replacement/RM-1052

This rumour is a little on the loose side, but a newly-leaked image has appeared showing a Lumia model with a big camera bump on the rear. The Lumia 1020 was a mobile photography star, but has never been replaced and all of Microsoft's recent devices have been at the budget end of the spectrum.
There's a chance that you're looking at a new high-end PureView model, known as the RM-1052, but equally it could be a prototype of the cancelled Nokia McLaren.
But it's nice to dream that Microsoft Devices will fill the high-end with a 5-inch Windows 10 device with a great PureView camera.
We're not convinced by the bodywork, the metal and plastic fusion doesn't look like a finished consumer device, but it could be the birth of a new photography star for 2015.
Stephen Elop announced at MWC that a new flagship would be coming later in the year, so Windows 10 will have itself a new device to play on.
READ MORE Microsoft Devices news and reviews

Google Project Ara

Created by Motorola, and now shifted over to Google after the sale of Motorola to Lenovo, Project Ara isn't due to early 2015 but is essentially an exoskeleton that allows users to modify what parts they want. That way someone that wants to spend the bulk of their budget on the camera, but doesn't need as much storage, can chose to upgrade that way. Perhaps one person will skip NFC in favour of faster 802.11ac Wi-Fi, for example.
There should also be third party components on offer that will allow for competitive pricing as well as new types of parts - like sensors. A person with diabetes may want a blood sugar sensor where another may not.
Users can also looks forward to different textured options that they can 3D print off at home themselves. The speed this phone can develop at, without costing us as much, is very exciting indeed.

Asus ZenFone Zoom eyes-on: The phone with 3x optical zoom

Asus ZenFone Zoom eyes-on: The phone with 3x optical zoom
Asus has shown off a new smartphone called the ZenFone Zoom. The company didn't give the media a chance to touch and hold the ZenFone Zoom on the show floor, but we did find it on display.
To highlight the 13-megapixel rear camera - which sticks out the backside quite like the 41-megapixel Lumia 1020 - as well as the cameraphone's 3x optical zoom feature, Asus showed how the Android 5.0 smartphone could zoom in and read very small details. The company showed the phone's camera zooming in on hard-to-read details, such as writing found on a money note, and seemed quite proud of the feat.
An Asus representative talked to Pocket-lint a lot about a Laser Auto Focus feature that allows for speedy focus like the LG G3, as well as other nifty features like optical image stabilisation and a manual mode for controlling white balance, exposure, ISO, shutter speed, and focal point. Although we didn't get to test these features out, they certainly sound great on paper.
On the front of the device, Asus has included a 5-megapixel camera. Again ... we didn't get to see how it performed, but that's not surprising considering the phone's rear camera is what makes this smartphone a cameraphone.
Elsewhere you're looking at a 5.5-inch full HD display on this model.
The ZenFone Zoom will launch in Q2 2015 for $399. We hope to get hands-on time with the device before then.

Samsung Galaxy S6 hands-on: Giving the people what they want

Samsung Galaxy S6 hands-on: Giving the people what they want
Samsung has unleashed its latest flagship handset onto the world in the form of its Galaxy S6.
Improvements to battery life and charging, performance, the screen, the cameras, software and a redesign make this appear to be a big jump for Samsung.
But are all these changes enough to make you want to upgrade or is it more incremental changes that don't offer much more? We go hands-on to find out.

Design do-over

Samsung was long rumoured to be going back to the drawing board with its Project Zero plans for the Galaxy S6. It hasn't disappointed.
The Samsung Galaxy S6 certainly feels premium, all encased in Gorilla Glass 4, front and back. The smartphone inside the glass shell is made from machined metal so it looks expensive and feels strong. Although the all glass design does make the worry of dropping it a bit more pressing than on older handsets. That said Gorilla Glass 4 wasn't on older handsets and Sammy adding glass to the front and back suggests it's confident the new stuff is strong. We didn't have a chance to drop it in our hands-on time, and to be honest we didn't want to let it go.
The glass on the rear is a little slippery in the hand, but since the iPhone 6 has a similar feel it's clearly not an issue for many since that sold plenty. At 6.8mm it feels super slim but thanks to that metal unibody it also feels strong, and light. Apparently the metal is stronger than that used in competitor handsets, Samsung says. It also couldn't resist mentioning it won't bend.


The Samsung Galaxy S6 is a close as you'll get to bezel-free on a Samsung without going for the more expensive Galaxy S6 edge option. The handset feels like mostly screen in the hand which is great as it's verging on phablet territory with that 5.1-inch Quad HD Super AMOLED screen.
As you'd expect from Samsung the Super AMOLED kicks out vibrant colours and refreshes smoothly. Going for a Quad HD resolution means 577ppi which is immediately clear after looking at the Galaxy S5 with its 1080p resolution.

A new power

One of the big issues for most people that Samsung has addressed with the Galaxy S6 is battery life and performance. While the battery itself should last longer thanks to the efficient processor Samsung has focused on recharging too. Now its flagship handset comes with wireless charging capabilities built-in. That means throwing it down on a table with wireless charging is all it takes to juice up.
But Samsung didn't stop there, it also improved the speed of charging. The handset can charge fast, really fast. Samsung says this is the fastest charging smartphone out there. It takes 10 minutes of charging to get 4 hours of use. From zero to 100 per cent should be done in half the time it takes the iPhone 6, says Samsung.
Samsung says both WPC and PMA wireless charging are compatible with the handset so charging should be easy anywhere.
The downside to all this is that the battery is no longer removable and you won't find microSD expansion anymore.

Camera cleanliness

Samsung has opted to simplify the camera experience. Packing the same 16-megapixel sensor as the S5 the camera on the Galaxy S6 has an upgraded aperture to f/1.9 for better low light shots.
Auto focus appears to have been improved over the Galaxy S5 in spite of it also being faster.
The camera is always ready to go and with a double tap of the home button it can open in 0.7 seconds.
On the front is a 5-megapixel selfie camera which also has that f/1.9 aperture and Auto HDR. It also uses a low light feature to combine multiple photos to find the brightest image, this worked well both on the front and rear cameras.
Samsung has added an icon that lets you access everything right there without the need to scroll. This is a big step up from the last phone. There is also a professional mode for those feeling a little more creative.


The Samsung Galaxy S6 is powered by the latest 14nm 64-bit Exynos octa-core processor backed by 3GB of RAM. In short we couldn't slow it down. No matter what combination of tasks and multi-tasking we threw at it the Galaxy S6 kept up. How that translates to battery life isn't clear from our short time with the handset but Samsung assures us that the processor is efficient enough to make that a worry of the past.
DDR4 RAM means 80 per cent faster memory while 14nm chips mean 35 per cent more energy efficiency, says Samsung.

Software start-over

Samsung, historically, crammed its handsets with apps it had made so as to offer more to the user. It now looks like it has realised people are happy to download their own apps if and when they want them. The result is a far less cluttered handset that feels more like a pure Android experience than previous versions.
The phone comes with Android Lollipop with Samsung TouchWiz UI over the top, so it still has a Samsung feel. There's just less bloatware meaning more memory so you don't have to go through deleting everything to make the device personalised.
Mobile payments are now possible with the handset thanks to NFC, Samsung's Knox security and fingerprint reading. We'll have to wait to give this a try as it won't hit the UK until later in the year with the US getting it first by summer, says Samsung. Samsung Pay has been introduced to allow payments with the mobile that isn't limited by NFC, anywhere that accepts cards can take it.
Nice touches like being able to organise your settings window in a personalised manner have appeared on this version of the software.

First impressions

Samsung seems to have listened to what its users want. Battery life and build quality are the two things people have been crying out for improvements in and they're exactly what Samsung has delivered.
In the long run it'll be interesting to see how the all-glass body stands up to drops. But with Cat 6 LTE, wireless fast charging and tap to pay this phone feels future proof. We can't imagine asking for much more from a handset. That said this time next year we'll probably be doing exactly that.
The Samsung Galaxy S6 will be available in White Pearl, Black Sapphire, Gold Platinum, Blue Topaz and Green Emerald in 32GB, 64GB and 128GB variants from 10 April.

HTC One M9: The devil is in the details (hands-on)

HTC One M9: The devil is in the details (hands-on)

The HTC One M9 has probably been the most leaked handset in recent history, but it isn't until you have this device in your hand that you can appreciate the quality it brings with it.
HTC's aim with the new M9 was to address the weaknesses of the One M8, rather than going back to scratch and coming up with something entirely new. While Samsung might be undergoing that process of reinventing the SGS6, HTC is coming from a position of design strength. And that's exactly what the HTC One M9 hangs on to.

Exquisite build

HTC's design has been impressive for a number of years and the One M9 really takes the best of the M7's profile and applies it to the full metal body of the M8. This is the better of both devices, a best of both worlds.
In one sense, the tight zero-gap construction remains, but HTC has now looked to other luxury products for inspiration. The watch industry has played its part in industrial design inspiration and there's a lot in the fit and finish of the M9 that's more like a luxury watch than a smartphone.
The M8, despite the metal unibody, hung on to a plastic display surround, which is now gone. So too are the plastic covers that housed the BoomSound speakers. Now there's a tight metal front piece that meets the metal back. 
The finish is interesting too. Again harking to the watch industry, you can have anodised, dual tone finishes, allowing two colours to be used together seamlessly. The model we got our hands on was silver, trimmed with gold edges, but it's the same piece of metal, there are no unsightly joins or seams. 
The other colours are gunmetal grey, gold, and pink and gold. Gold is very much on trend at the moment and the quality of finish should win a lot of fans.
HTC One M9 preview
It's through that attention to detail that the M9 elevates itself as a new device. At first glance it's similar to the M8, but in the hand, it feels like something greater, a true successor. 
Those who found the M8 a little slippery will be relieved that the M9 now affords better grip, thanks to the profile of the edge. It might be a little sharp even, but it feels tighter and better in all respects. 
Across the back, the profile is very much as it was before, so it sits nicely in the hand. The dimensions are similar to the previous handset, at 144.6 x 69.7 x 9.61mm. It weighs 157g, so there's a reassuring heft to it.
HTC One M9 preview
HTC has shifted the buttons around on the M9. The power button is now on the side, rather than on the top. This means that you no longer have to reach to the top to hit that button, but we found it a little too low down. It's in the centre of the right-hand side, but we feel it could be a little higher to make it slightly easier to hit.
We suspect the power button has been pushed down slightly because there's one of the card trays at the top too. We can't help feeling that the card trays should have both been on the left, leaving more space for the power and volume.

Upgrading the internal hardware

Stepping beyond the exterior aesthetics, the HTC One M9 comes with the latest 64-bit 2.0GHz octo-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 chipset. There's 3GB of RAM and from the time we've spent with the phone so far, it's been slick and fast in operation. There's a very definite snap to Lollipop and Sense 7, showing a distinct step forward over the M8.
We might have found the LG G Flex 2 wasn't a step forward, but the HTC One M9 feels like a better showcase of Qualcomm's new hardware.
HTC One M9 preview
There's 32GB of internal storage, expandable via microSD, giving you plenty of space. Naturally you get all the connectivity you'd expect of a flagship smartphone, wrapped in that IPX3 protected body.
HTC doesn't shout about weatherproofing, but IPX3 means that it's fine when it gets rained on. It's just not comprehensively designed to be dunked in water like the Sony Xperia Z3, but you don't need to worry about glancing at Google Maps when it's raining.

Display stays realistic

Although there are internal hardware updates, many will be interested in the display changes, or lack of them. HTC has stuck to 5-inches, which we think is the right decision, meaning that this phone isn't expanding just to keep up with rivals.
Where we've seen others ramping up the size and the resolution, HTC has stuck to 5-inches, 1920 x 1080 pixels, 440ppi. Some will undoubtedly dismiss this as not being progressive enough, but at this size, we think it is the right decision.
HTC One M9 preview
HTC has used some great displays on it's devices over the past few years, sticking to LCD panels, offering realism over the aggressively saturated look of some rivals. The M9 is full of colour, but the tone looks a little greener than the M8, although this might change before the handset comes to market.
It still has great viewing angles and that visual pop that you'd expect from a good quality display.

Sense 7 brings a few new treats

HTC Sense is now in its seventh iteration, and with it comes a focus on personalisation. You might think that HTC has been the master of personalisation dating back to the HTC Hero, but the new Themes turns that on its head. 
Sense 7 will let you quickly and easily customise just about every element of the homescreen environment. There are pre-set themes to download, you can create your own theme from a photo you take, as well as go through and tweak everything from the shape of the icons or the highlight colours, to the colour of the keyboard.
HTC One M9 preview
If you get bored of the look of your phone and don't want to switch launchers, Themes gives you an easy way out. You can also now change the control buttons from the normal back, home, recent apps, with the option to add in another - like notifications or display off. That's something that LG has been doing for a while, and it's likely to be popular for HTC.
Aside from Themes, Sense 7 looks to enhance BlinkFeed further and take over your lock screen, bubbling up information that you'll need. Meal suggestions recommend places you might like to go and have lunch, for example.
Another area where HTC wants to take over your phone is on the home screen, with a widget that will change your apps based on your location and what you're doing. Rather like the Cover app, it learns your pattern of use, offering three sections for home, work or when you're just out and about.
HTC One M9 preview 
There's an unfortunate "recommendations" folder here too that aims to draw your attention to new apps, but you can customise what you see, or completely remove this widget. 
There are some other changes across Sense, changes to Zoe and the Gallery - with lots of editing options - as well as some changes to the camera which we will talk about shortly.
HTC One M9 preview 
Overall, the step to Sense 7 is a series of refinements, rather than a huge reworking. It sits over Android 5.0 Lollipop, and as we've come to expect from Sense, it was slick and fast to use. 

Dolby BoomSound

HTC has kept the BoomSound speakers on the M9, this time partnering with Dolby to enhance the audio offering. There's now a "theater" mode, which widens the sound stage to make your movies more immersive. The results are good from the mode, adding a noticeable separation.
There's then a music mode too, which flattens things out again for better delivery. As before, the BoomSound speakers sound excellent, offering some really good quality audio.
HTC is also making a play for multiroom audio, adding support for more wireless speaker systems into HTC Connect. Using the three finger gesture, you'll be able to throw your music to AllPlay speakers. We haven't seen this in action, so don't know exactly how the implementation will work, but it's another string to the M9's bow.

Cameras: All change

Sticking to the theme of fixing problems that the M8 encountered, the M9 has a switch around in the cameras. 
There's now a 20-megapixel rear camera with f/2.2 lens, sitting under a sapphire glass cover. The front camera is HTC's UltraPixel camera that used to be its rear camera.
Talking about the front camera first, this is a smart move. UltraPixel is capable in low light and has enough resolution for the sort of job you're asking of it - which is a win for good quality selfies.
The rear camera offers 4K video capture now, as well as having plenty of resolution. The camera app is pretty much the same as previous editions, so most things are easy enough to find, and you still have manual settings if you want them. There's no auto HDR, which we find a little irritating, as you still have to dig it out and hit the button.
But there are other changes afoot for the camera, including future options that will let you be able to capture raw and jpeg, meaning more advanced users will then be able post-process those raw files for better results. In the future HTC plans to launch a camera store to make it easy to add new features, but we're yet to see how this will be integrated.
HTC One M9 preview
When we used the camera, the software wasn't final, so we can't pass any judgments on it at this time: we'll have to wait for a final review unit.

First impressions

The HTC One M9 really excels in design. It's taken the M8 - a phone that we really liked - and made improvements to the fit and finish that really make a difference when you have this phone in your hand. 
It isn't a huge change from before, however, and the software experience is very much as it was, so in many ways, this is HTC sticking to familiar territory. If you're an M8 owner then you might be tempted to hold off - Sense 7 will probably be coming to your device anyway and there isn't a huge step change delivered by the M9. For those with an M7 the design improvements will be immediately noticeable.
For some, however, it might look as though HTC hasn't changed enough about the HTC One and with the Samsung Galaxy S6 launching on the same day, this great handset finds itself pitched straight into adversity.
We will bring you our full HTC One M9 review as soon as we can. The HTC One M9 pricing hasn't been announced, but it's expected to be similar to the M8. It will be hitting shelves at the end of March.

Best smartphones 2015: The best phones available to buy today

Best smartphones 2015: The best phones available to buy today

So, you want to buy a new phone? If you're looking for the best smartphone of 2015, you've come to the right place. We will guide you through the hottest mobile phones of the year to save you time when you go to your local phone shop.
We continually update our best smartphones feature to reflect recent launches, recognise price changes, and putting 2015's latest devices alongside the best of 2014. All the listed devices have been fully reviewed by us.
We're at a time of change in smartphones - new models are incoming, old models are falling by the wayside and the desirability of some of last year's models are waning.
Our best smartphones list covers all operating systems, all sizes, and prices, so you'll be armed with everything you need to consider when choosing to buy your next device. Of course, the most important factor in buying a new device is making sure you have the best smartphone for you. The best for your budget, the features you need, the size that feels right and platform that suits you best.
Be sure to let us know what you think is the best smartphone in the comments below.
19. Motorola Moto E
The Moto E continues Motorola's aim to deliver smartphones on a budget. This compact handset is incredibly cheap, but still manages to offer plenty of features.
The design is solid, for starters, and although the display is lower in resolution than many of the devices on this list, so too is the price. That's a significant factor, as this handset only costs £89.
You'll get all the glory of Android at almost disposable prices, but this isn't the fastest phone around and the camera performance isn't great. It lacks 4G connectivity, but does offer a range of coloured changable backs, so you can make it suit your style. There's now a second-gen Moto E, adding 4G and costing £109, that's likely to knock the original aside.
Buy the Moto E because you want smartphone features at a great price.
FULL REVIEW: Motorola Moto E review
DEALS: Motorola Moto E best deals
18. Nokia Lumia 1520
Nokia Lumia 1520
The Nokia Lumia 1520 brings Windows Phone into the realms of the phablet, but it does it with aplomb, giving you a device that offers size, power and a great camera performance, although this device is getting a little old.
Nokia's (now Microsoft Devices) commitment to the platform, dragging apps - kicking and screaming - over to Windows Phone really enhances what's on offer, but also pouring home-grown features in too.
We've been critical of some of the moves of Windows Phone in the past, but the Lumia 1520 feels like the hero device that was needed. It's powerful, it's wonderful to use and it's the rival of Android peers that rule the big-screen phone world.
Buy the Nokia Lumia 1520 if you want the biggest Windows Phone experience.
FULL REVIEW: Nokia Lumia 1520 review
DEALS: Nokia Lumia 1520 best deals
17. Microsoft Lumia 735
The Lumia 735 was launched alongside the Lumia 830, but it manages to match the specs in many areas, whilst also beating the price of its launch buddy, making it an interesting device.
It offers a great Windows Phone experience packed into a handset that's not too big and plenty affordable. It offers the latest Windows Phone 8.1 with Lumia Denim, which sees Microsoft's mobile devices getting stronger all the time.
There's a great pairing of cameras. There's a lovely front 5-megapixel camera and a rear 6.7-megapixel camera. Although the rear camera isn't the highest resolution, it's a good performer and offers Zeiss optics.
It's not the most powerful handset around, but the price at just £189 makes it difficult to ignore.
Buy the Microsoft Lumia 735 because you want a great all rounder without spending a fortune.
FULL REVIEW: Microsoft Lumia 735 review
16. Nexus 6
The Nexus 6 is a pure Google phablet and that's one of its strengths: it offers a pure Google experience, unfettered by manufacturer additions. Not so long ago that was a huge differentiator, but thanks to faster update cycles and Google's gradual unbundling of many of the Android apps - including the Google Now Launcher - the Nexus experience isn't as rare as it used to be.
The Nexus 6 takes the Moto X design and scales it up to 6 inches. There's plenty of space to play and you get a great high-resolution display to go along with that, along with powerful Qualcomm Snapdragon 805 innards.
The camera isn't the best however and compared to something like the Note 4, there's very little that this big phone does with the extra space, apart from be big. It isn't hugely expensive at £499, however.
You still have the advantage of fast update times, being head of the list for Google, but as a phablet, we think you might find Samsung's offering more enticing.
Buy the Nexus 6 because you absolutely have to definitely have the pure Android on the big screen.
FULL REVIEW: Nexus 6 review
DEALS: Nexus 6 best deals
15. LG G Flex 2

There's also a really impressive camera on the back which is slick and fast and performs well in most conditions. Add 4K video capture to the list and you've a smartphone package that sees you ready for the future. It also cost £379.99 SIM free, which is a reletive bargain.
Buy the LG G3 because you want a big screen experience in a managable package.
DEALS: LG G3 best deals
5. Motorola Moto X (2014)
Moto X 2014 review
The Motorola Moto X has been reborn for 2014 in this second generation device. Boosted to offer a larger 5.2-inch display, the design of the Moto X sits nicely in the hand, but most appealing of all are the options to customise, including a leather back if that's what takes your fancy.
The Moto X's unfettered Android experience is one of its strengths, as is the speed of updates as new Android versions come along, but at the same time, its rivals are much more fully featured, offering more straight out of the box. There's good battery performance and plenty of power on offer at a price that undercuts most rivals.
The weakness, however, lies in the camera, which isn't a consistent performer. There's also no microSD card which most Android rivals offer, but that's reflected in the £419 price.
Buy the Moto X for an Android experience that's almost pure and customisation options that are unrivalled.
FULL REVIEW: Moto X (2014) review
DEALS: Moto X (2014) best deals
4. Sony Xperia Z3
Sony Xperia Z3
Sony has had a number of passes at its flagship model. Fortunately, the Xperia Z3 is where it all comes together. The body design has been refined to the point where the size now feels confortable. Slimming the body pays dividends, but so too does refining the edges and construction.
That's not all the Xperia Z3 offers though. The 5.2-inch display sits in front of powerful hardware that's speedy in execution of all your tasks.
Sony runs a number of customisations to Android through its own skin, but avoids the worst of duplication. Yes, there's some bloat and things are geared towards those using Sony's services, but it doesn't completely obliterate the Android experience in the process.
Then there's a great pair of cameras, the rear offering great quality, plenty of options and some lovely results. This is the best of Sony's handsets, the flagship device where Sony's perseverance paid off. At £499, the price is creeping down.
Buy the Sony Xperia Z3 for a powerful, waterproof, sharp shooting, Android handset.
FULL REVIEW: Sony Xperia Z3 review
DEALS: Sony Xperia Z3 best deals
3. HTC One M8
The HTC One M8 delivers design and user experience. There's no doubt that this is a premium device at the top of the Android pile. It's slick and fast and the refinement of Sense 6 adds plenty to Android 5.0 Lollipop. But its desirability is slipping, as its replacement, the HTC One M9 will be appearing by the end of the month.
The design is great, with a premium metal body offering a great feel in the hand. But this handset isn't only good looking, it offers a great 5-inch full HD display with some of the nicest visuals you'll find on a device at this size.
The camera is the reletive weakness for this phone, with the Duo Camera features not really appealing, and a feeling that there's insufficient resolution in some conditions, even if the low light performance is pretty good. 
Buy the HTC One M8 for it's design, power and mature user experience, but be aware that it's still priced at £549 and by the end of the month, the One M9 will have replaced it.
FULL REVIEW: HTC One M8 review
DEALS: HTC One M8 best deals
2. Samsung Galaxy Note 4
Samsung Galaxy Note 4
Samsung has long ruled the phablet roost and the Galaxy Note 4 cements its mastery with big handsets: the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 is sensational. It's recent release means it's still a handset that has plenty of power with a Snapdragon 805 chipset, and it retains plenty of appeal.
Samsung manages to differentiate itself from the pack by filling the Note 4 with features that really make use of the screen space and the hardware. This isn't just about making a big phone, it's about making it useful.
Samsung's commitment to the S Pen is noteworthy in itself. Whether you choose to use the stylus or not, it genuinely opens up features that others simply don't offer.
There may be some bloat and a feature too many, but Samsung's software is neatly backed by some of the best performing hardware around. There's a fantastic display, plenty of power and endurance packed into a frame that's been sympathetically designed. Oh, and then there's the camera, which is amongst the best you'll find on an Android handset.
If you're looking for the best big screen experience around, then look to the Samsung Galaxy Note 4.
FULL REVIEW: Samsung Galaxy Note 4 review
DEALS: Samsung Galaxy Note 4 best deals
1. Apple iPhone 6
The iPhone has never topped the our best smartphone charts, but in the iPhone 6 Apple has taken a big step forward. The size, for starters, gives us the screen space we've been asking for years. It might not be the highest resolution around, but it's a great quality display, a visual treat.
That's paired with design that's excellent. It's slick, with a high quality finish, with this bigger iPhone sitting nicely in the hand. It looks great, it feels great, and it's a pleasure to use.
The TouchID implementation is the most effective we've seen, and with Apple Pay having an impact in the US and coming to other countries, it could be a key to unlocking much more than your just your phone. The camera too offers great, consistent, results, with simplicity that many rivals lack. It might not pack in the most megapixels, but it does give you great consistent results.
This is all wrapped in the refinement of iOS 8. Apple might have been playing catch-up with Android in some areas, but in iOS 8 there's a consistency of experience that some other platforms lack, not to mention the huge developer support.
Buy the iPhone 6 because you want a premium handset offering a bigger Apple experience than ever before. Also because it won Best Phone at the Pocket-lint Gadget Awards 2014.
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