Omio is rounding up all the mobile phone reviews over the past week from the major tech titles in the UK.
This is all in order to bring you an all-inclusive and encompassing view of the opinions, from the various handset reviewers.
Best budget Android smartphone there is? Must be the Moto G
Regular readers of my phone reviews for El Reg will be well aware that I like cheap devices.
On these very pages I have sung the praises of handsets such as Huawei’s Ascend G310 and ZTE’s Skate – aka the Orange Monte Carlo – after being impressed by the quality they offered for the money demanded.
Granted they didn’t render the same polished user experience or the same advanced features as their more expensive stablemates, but they catered to a market that couldn’t afford the prices, often higher by a factor of three or four, commanded by the likes of the latest iPhone or Samsung Galaxy S.
With the new Moto G, Google-owned Motorola is touting a handset that will massively increase Android’s grip on the budget market, offering for peanuts a device that gives nothing substantive away to smartphones costing three times as much.
The G crushes the Windows Phone 8 competition and shows Apple bosses to be as greedy as I’ve always suspected.
The Reg Verdict
It’s easier to list the Moto G’s failings, such as they are: a fixed battery, no 4G/LTE radio, no infrared transmitter and no storage expansion. That’s really it.
In every other way – design, build, performance, software and capability – the Moto G is every bit as good as the likes of the Nexus 4 and Samsung Galaxy S3, both flagship Android devices this time last year that cost more than two and three times as much as the £135 G, respectively.
The G’s price is a ludicrously small amount of money for a gadget of this quality. I’m stuck for reasons to buy anything else unless you really must have a larger screen – buy a Nexus 5 or an LG G2 – or a much better camera – go for the the Xperia Z1 or Lumia 1020.
Why you’d buy an iPhone instead, unless you are indissolubly linked to the iOS ecosystem, or suffer from advanced Googlephobia, is beyond my reckoning. Read the Moto G full review on The Register.
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Nokia Lumia 2520 review
We can’t say we ever thought we’d be reviewing a Nokia tablet. But here we are. And the Lumia 2520 isn’t just Nokia’s first ever tablet, it’s a polycarbonate slice of tech history in glossy red (and glossy white, matte cyan and black).
It’s the first Nokia to run Windows 8 rather than Windows Phone 8 and it comes with 4G capabilities to set it apart from run-of-the-mill Wi-Fi-only Androids. The 10.1in tab is also one of the only new Windows RT tablets on the block – practically everyone has abandoned this version of the latest Microsoft OS, except for Microsoft itself. And it will no doubt be one of the last Lumia devices launched before Nokia is swallowed up by Microsoft. So this isn’t just any old tablet.
For all the cooing over the new Nokias, though, there’s a good reason everyone’s ditched RT and that’s because it’s as limited as a mulled wine-powered scooter. So without a great app store or access to PC programs, and with that hefty £400 pricetag, the 2520 will have to level up by successfully defending itself against some tough tech questions before facing the big boss: is it good enough that you should think about buying one?
If you’re happy with the Lumia body, there’s lot to love about the 2520, which injects some much needed fun into Windows tablets. It’s lighter and more compact than the Surface 2 with a punchier Full HD screen, better battery life, 4G and excellent Nokia apps.
The flawed Windows RT OS is just too much for us to live with but if you can trade creative apps for the Office suite and plump for the Power Keyboard, it could just work. Then again, full-fat Windows 8 tablets that aren’t limited to the Store, such as the Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet 2, offer full-fat Windows 8 and can be picked up from £450.
The 2520’s a delight once you get to know it but the disconnect between that unwieldy form factor and desktop mode on one hand and it’s 4G capabilities, fun apps and camera skills on the other still remains. This isn’t the take-everywhere tablet just yet. But with Microsoft and Nokia’s business future melded so tightly that only a mammoth Oreo cookie splitter could divide their fates, we’ve got high hopes for next year’s Microsoft Lumia Surface 2.520. Read the Nokia Lumia 2520 full review on Stuff.
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Nokia Lumia 1520 review
When it comes to smartphones, size matters.
It dictates a smartphone’s ergonomics, user-friendliness and, to a degree, capabilities. And as Samsung has proved with its wildly successful phablets, lots and lots of people think bigger means better.
The 1520 is certainly big. In fact, it’s a big list of big firsts for Nokia, and for Windows Phone.
It’s the first full HD WinPhone. It’s the first WinPhone phablet, its 6in screen dwarfing even the burliest flagship Androids.
There’s more. It’s the first WinPhone to sport the excellent quad-core Snapdragon 800 processor, which puts it head and shoulders above its peers in the number-crunching stakes. It also happens to pack one of those excellent PureView cameras.
On paper, then, the 1520 is everything a big-screen smartphone needs to be, plus a whole lot more besides. But with Windows Phone in the driving seat, it’s clear that size isn’t everything – it’s what you do with it that counts.
The 1520 is the biggest, most powerful Windows Phone to date, and continues Nokia’s legacy of pushing the Windows Phone envelope.
While it might not have the large sensor of the Lumia 1020, its camera is still hugely impressive, producing shots that are good enough to lay your compact cam to rest.
Its huge 6in screen is superbly bright and clear, even in daylight, and Windows Phone 8 runs faster than a jetpack-wearing cheetah.
But Windows Phone 8’s app curse, coupled with a lack of imagination from Nokia to take advantage of the largest screen to hit a Windows Phone device to date, mean that the 1520 isn’t yet worthy of a five star rating.
Still, it’s a sign of great things to come. Put the 1520’s insides and screen resolution into the 1020’s successor, and you’d have the most compelling Windows Phone handset to date. Read the Nokia Lumia 1520 full review on Stuff.
– Check out all the Nokia Lumia 1520 deals on OMIO today!
iPad mini 2 with Retina display review
The new iPad mini 2 (or iPad mini with Retina display, if you want to give it Apple’s elongated title) is the next step in the smaller tablet wars – and with Google and Amazon stepping up their respective games, the Cupertino brand needed something that hit back with strength.
However, even with that landscape, we were still surprised when Apple announced the iPad mini 2 on stage, coming with things like the A7 chip under the hood and a 128GB iteration to satisfy those that crave a lot of HD action.
On top of that, there’s the much-needed Retina screen (as the name might have told you) and an improvement in battery size to help power those pixels more effectively.
However, there’s the big issue of price, which Apple has had to balance carefully over recent years. No matter how much you like the look of the iPad mini 2, you have to factor in that it will set you back nearly £320 (US$399, AU$479) for the lowest-spec 16GB model with Wi-Fi connectivity only.
The iPad mini 2 is almost flawless in so many ways. The rich App catalog mean it’s a device that will grow with you, and the 64-bit A7 chip and Retina display are certainly future-proofing users from an outdated device.
The design is still the best in the tablet category, with perhaps only the LG G pad 8.3 coming close.
On top of that iOS 7 is at least a step forward, and finally being able to see things in the clarity they deserve is hugely important.
Even gaming is sensational on this tablet, which is essentially all the first mini should have been… and a little more.
But the price is still something that really jars when you consider the rivals. The Nexus 7 has a crisp and clear screen, a strong app catalog (although not as polished) and a decent build – for so much less cash.
The Amazon Kindle Fire HDX follows the same path, but with a better processor – although not the greatest user interface.
We were torn when scoring the iPad mini 2 as, in a vacuum, there’s nothing that touches it apart from the larger Air, and these are tablets in different categories. You wouldn’t own both, but the iPad mini 2 is no longer a sidekick to the larger model.
Given the weight and size reduction of the iPad Air too, there’s a strong argument to be for just stepping up and buying the larger tablet if you want to invest in a premium product – there’s not much difference in price now Apple has upped the cost of the smaller option.
So here’s the upshot: if you’re willing more on a tablet and want it to be a little more portable, then the iPad mini 2 with Retina display can’t be beaten. It’s slick, fast, powerful and comes with so much free software and design wins that it will provide a trouble-free existence for many years.
But if you’re thinking about saving money, the competition is strong too. It’s nowhere near as good as the iPad mini 2, but for the cost reduction you can forgive a multitude of sins.
The iPad mini 2 might not be a sidekick to the Air in terms of spec but, thanks to Apple raising the price even further this year, it’s playing second fiddle to its larger brother. Read the iPad mini 2 with Retina display review full review on TechRadar.
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Samsung Galaxy Ace 3 review
The Samsung Galaxy Ace 3 is a 4-inch mid-range Android smartphone that all of a sudden feels very insignificant next to the Motorola Moto G. Priced at £200 SIM-free, the Ace 3 is more expensive than the Moto G and has a less impressive specs list with exception of its 4G support, one of the few missing features on the Moto G. If you want a 4G phone but don’t want to spend big, the Ace 3 is an affordable option. That aside, there’s very few reasons to spend more to get a lot less.
The Samsung Galaxy Ace 3 is a cheap 4G phone, but it’s that’s no match for the new king of the cheap smartphone, the Motorola Moto G. Read the Samsung Galaxy Ace 3 review full review on Trusted Reviews.
– Check out all the Samsung Galaxy Ace 3 deals on OMIO today!
Motorola Moto G review
The Moto G may have all the hallmarks of being a smartphone made by Motorola but from the start it’s clear that underneath this is a phone that has been almost entirely influenced by the company that owns it, Google.
Materialising in the form of a simple question that will no doubt be haunting Samsung, Sony and its competitors for some time, the Motor G asks just how far can you push the boundaries of what is classed as a ‘budget’ phone.
Motorola Moto G: Verdict
We can only assume LG and Motorola were in the same room when they thought up the Moto G and the Nexus 5, and almost certainly someone from Google was in that room. Both are outstanding examples of what happens when instead of trying to cram everything in without thinking of the consequences, you sit down and list all the features people actually need from a modern smartphone and then make sure they do those proficiently and relative to the amount they’ll be used.
A perfect example being the camera, by sacrificing Megapixels the Moto G excels in other areas, but does the camera feel like such a big compromise? Actually no, considering all we really use our cameras for is uploading heavily filtered iterations to social media, the idea that we’re then going to blow them up and hang them on our walls is, we would say, pretty niche.
In return for this ‘compromise’ you get probably the best HD screen on a smartphone that isn’t a flagship device. If there was one clear issue we have with the Moto G it’s the lack of LTE, yes its competition definitely won’t either but we’re increasingly heading towards a market where 4G is standard, regardless of spec sheet.
Ultimately though it’s a small point, one that becomes even more muted when you consider that you’ll be holding a phone that has a stunning display, a quad-core processor and the latest version of Android KitKat guaranteed and how much did it cost you? Under £150. Read the Motorola Moto G review full review on T3.
– Check out all the Motorola Moto G deals on OMIO today!
iPad Air review
The iPad practically invented the tablet computer. Sure, there were tablets before, and plenty of devices since have added more features like styluses and in-built keyboards.
But for all that, the iPad is still the best of the bunch as far as the public and technology press is concerned.
The question is for how much longer? We took the latest iteration of Apple’s tablet a test drive to find out.
The only real downer is the price. The Air starts at £399 – that’s for the 16GB Wi-Fi-only model. If you want more storage, you have to pay for it – the 32GB Wi-Fi-only model is £479, right up to £639 for the 128GB one.
Add a data connection and the cost quickly escalates – from £499 for the 16GB version, up to a frankly insane £739 for the 128GB one.
If you can do without the extra storage, you’ll save yourself a bundle of cash.
You can get the Air on contract too. It’s free on contracts starting at £36 a month. Or if you want to pay upfront to lessen the monthly outlay, it’s yours for a one-off fee for £119 and then £29 a month on Three, who supplied our review device.
If you’ve got the money, this is the best full-sized tablet around right now. If you’re not sure about it, try out the iPad Mini – if you can do without the Retina display, the standard Mini is just £249.
It’s a shame the Air isn’t cheaper, but then it’s not a tablet for the budget market. It’s a best-in-class powerhouse in a ridiculously slim and light chassis. And it’s fantastic. Read the iPad Air review full review on uSwitch.
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