Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Apple's new ads are stupid

Compared to my previous phone (HTC Evo 4G), my new phone (HTC Evo 4G LTE) is both bigger (4.7" screen vs. 4.3" screen) and smaller (8.9mm thick vs. 12.7mm thick). In fact, the same is true of almost all new smartphones with bigger screens--They've pretty much all gotten bigger screens, became thinner in profile, as well as gotten lighter. Do they all defy the laws of physics?

In one of Apple's recent ads for the iPhone 5, the following statement was made:

"There are laws to physics, right? So, explain this--How can something get bigger, and smaller? There's more of it. And... less of it...? Well, I guess the Laws of Physics are, more like, general guidelines."

I think anyone with a basic understanding of science and physics should feel insulted by this ad. What they're talking about has absolutely nothing to do with physics. If they think anyone should truly buy into their idea that what they've done to the new iPhone, which they're implying breaks the Laws of Physics, they must be assuming these people lack the intelligence to know the difference.

Ten years ago, I had a 27" CRT TV. Today, I have a 50" LCD TV. The CRT was probably around 4' deep, and weighed a lot more than my 50" HDTV, which is less than an inch thick. There's definitely "more" of my new TV, not only does it have a larger display screen, it also has much higher resolution. And there's definitely less of it, because it is not only significantly thinner, it is loads lighter, as well.

But then, even before the advent of high definition television, you could have gotten a bigger display from something smaller and lighter. It's called a projector.

Another one of their ads posits that because "your [left] thumb" goes from the bottom right corner of the iPhone 5's new 4" screen to the top left corner, it's "either (A) an amazing coincidence, or (B) a dazzling display of common sense."

Now, my thumb does the exact same thing, except I can reach both corners on my phone's 4.7" screen. Imagine that!

Common sense tells me that, just because my hands are big enough for me to reach both corners with my thumb, doesn't mean that everyone else has hands the same size. Some people will no doubt struggle to do the same thing and have no choice but to use both hands, while others will have bigger hands than mine. At six feet tall, my hands might be slightly bigger than your average male.

Their other two ads are barely worth mentioning. The ear buds ad suffers from the same lack of common sense as the thumbs ad--It basically assumes that everyone's ears are shaped the same. If they were really trying to make sure the ear buds fit comfortably in everyone's ears, they should have included multiple ear bud options, like Jawbone does with their bluetooth headsets.

As for the panorama pictures ad, that functionality has been available elsewhere for quite some time now...

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Say hello to my little friend

"Only" 60Hz. More than enough, I say.
"That man is playing Galaga. Thought we wouldn't notice. But we did."
Twisted fun.

Finally, I've upgraded the 32" TV I had in my living room to a larger 50"; it's working well, and I've moved the 32" to my room, and will retire the CRT that's been sitting in its stead, collecting dust. Gonna have to take it to a recycling place.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

iPhone 5 - "Blah"

The "big" tech news of the day is Apple's introduction of its latest iteration of the iPhone... which isn't really news, since they've pretty much all been leaked already, but Apple basically confirmed what the official changes are, over the previous iPhone 4S.

Let's take a look at these changes, shall we?

  • Bigger screen - 4 inches 16:9 vs 3.5 inches 3:2
    Two years ago, Steve Jobs ridiculed all the Android phones with bigger screens, saying that "3.5 inch handset size is the 'sweet spot' for mobile phone design; big enough to produce detailed, legible graphics, but small enough to fit comfortably in the hand and pocket." And what do we see now? A bigger screen. But Apple has a history of dismissing products it currently doesn't own a piece of, only to release a new product in that market later, and proclaim itself the innovator of that space, and rumors were already flying around last year that Apple would introduce an iPhone with a larger screen. It simply didn't arrive until this year.

    In this case, Apple is playing catch-up with the competition, where consumers are buying phones with larger and larger screens in excess of 4.5+ inches. My old phone from two years ago was 4.3 inches, with a 15:9 widescreen aspect ratio.
  • Thinner and lighter - "World's thinnest smartphone" at 7.6mm
    Not really anything innovative here, just your usual "spec bump"; smartphones seem to constantly be getting thinner and lighter, so it makes sense that a new phone being released is thinner and lighter. It does help in making a phone with a larger screen more pocketable, so the thinner design is welcomed.

    However, iPhone 5 will not be the "world's thinnest smartphone" - I'm not saying that by the time it is released, another phone will come along and be thinner. I'm saying that a thinner smartphone already exists. Chinese phone maker Huawei has a phone that's 6.8mm thin. Not that it's going to stop the hoards of Apple fanatics from taking Apple's claim as gospel. Who knows, maybe Apple will sue Huawei for keeping Apple from taking that title.
  • New CPU - Apple A6
    Supposedly twice as fast as its predecessor, the A5, Apple was mum about much of the details of the new processor. This, like the previous point, is your usual spec bump. One would hope that they've upgraded the chip to a 28nm fabrication process, which is the size of all the current Android flagship phones.

    The important thing here, though, is not really the technical specs. As long as it actually performs well, numbers don't really matter.
  • New Antenna - 4G LTE
    Did I mention that my two-year-old phone already had 4G? Granted, it was WiMAX instead of LTE, but Verizon also launched their own LTE phone more than 1.5 years ago. Talk about being behind the curve...

    My guess is that Apple probably didn't want to release a phone with LTE until after there's enough LTE coverage, and/or had a better way to manage the battery life when the LTE antenna is on. Which is understandable. But even now, there are many regions in the US not covered by any LTE network, so maybe it's strictly a battery thing.
  • New Connector - "Lightning"
    Probably the worst "upgrade" of all time. If you're going to change your connector and force all your existing customers to upgrade their accessories, why not make it a standards-compliant connector, instead of a proprietary one? And charging people $29 for an adapter that likely costs you less than $5 to manufacture is just the epitome of greed.
  • New earbuds
  • Updated Camera - Better low-light performance, panorama stitch mode
    As far as low light performance goes, won't know how it actually performs until the phone is released, but would be better if the actual image sensor is larger. Panorama mode has been available on Android for a while now.
  • New Map/Navigation
    This is more of an iOS 6 upgrade than an iPhone 5 upgrade--You don't necessarily have to have an iPhone 5 to get iOS 6, and maps/navigation should be part of the OS upgrade. Finally with built-in turn-by-turn navigation. Which Android has had for about 4 years... and the Android version has navigation with mass transit, a function lacking in the new iOS navigation. How innovative!
That seems to be mostly it. Looks like the iPhone is mostly playing catch-up with Android, and in some instances aren't even able to match some of the top-of-the-line Android phones. So, in short, blah.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

US Carrier Smartphone Prices

With the recent AT&T announcement that they're going to have similar data share plans as Verizon, I've decided to take some time to figure out how much each of the four national carriers would cost for family share plans.

Some things to note:
  • Even though AT&T will retain their current family share plans prices and not force you to this new data sharing plan when you sign a new contract, I have not included their current pricing in this comparison chart.
  • T-Mobile's data plan is actually "unlimited"; that is to say, you can use more than the 2GB limit in your billing period and won't be charged extra, however, your data beyond 2GB will be throttled (slow).
  • T-Mobile's non-contract prices should be lower. I did not check what they would be, however.
  • Under the new data share plans for both Verizon and AT&T, text and talk are both unlimited. So technically, the equivalent plans for T-Mobile and Sprint are their "unlimited talk" plans. However, Sprint offers "any mobile"--That is to say, with Sprint, you can call any cell phone number in the US (or receive calls), and talk for however long you want, and those minutes will be free and not part of your allotted "any time" minutes. So unless you make a lot of calls to landlines, you won't need that many minutes, making it almost the same as unlimited talk. YMMV.
  • These prices are for smartphones only. Since we're mainly concerned about the cost of data, non-smartphones need not apply. I'm also not taking tablets into account.
  • Verizon's data share plan also includes "free hotspots"; I don't know if AT&T's new plan does the same, but Sprint and T-Mobile both charge extra if you wish to turn your phone into a mobile hotspot.

P.S. I don't know why the header has "pHones" instead of "Phones"; I swear they were fine when I created the file in Excel. Somehow in the conversion to Google Docs, they decided to change which letter to turn into upper case. Don't know how that happened.

Friday, May 25, 2012

HTC's next flagship phone

After almost two weeks of being stuck in customs, it's finally here. And not a moment too soon. My original HTC Evo 4G is running low on space, so I pretty much can't install new apps, or even keep some of them updated.

The new HTC Evo 4G LTE boasts a 4.7" Super LCD2 screen with 16:9 aspect ratio at 1280x720 resolution, compared to the original Evo 4G's 4.3" LCD screen with 15:9 aspect ratio and a resolution of 800x480.

The rear camera still protrudes, just like the original Evo. However, there's no glass (clear plastic?) that can be scratched like with the original Evo. You'd have to really go out of your way to try and scratch the camera lens on this one.

The new kickstand, missing from the Evo 3D and Evo Shift 4G, returns for this true successor to the original Evo, is much sturdier, and can be used three-ways.