Thursday, 27 June 2013

I'm not Anti-Apple, but that doesn't mean Apple must be good

I have been asked many times regarding my stances whenever there's a conversation about tech, for example: "Why so anti-Apple?", "Why all the negativity about Apple?", "You’ve always been an Android fan,” and many more. All these questions and statements come from my family, relatives, friends and even on social media. I wanna take this opportunity on this post and said, “NO, I am not anti-Apple.”

I think the assumption was made probably because when people asked my tips on what smartphone I would recommend to them, I recommend them go for Android smartphones rather than the iPhone. There’re reasons to that, I would love to go through that.

On why people ask why I always recommend them Android phones, it is because they tend to start with “what phones have good specifications that you think is good?” This will gives me an impression that you want a phone with a good camera, speakers, top of the line processors and memory. In that case, I choose Android 10 out of 10 times, because it’s what they asked for. Apple isn’t and won’t be in contender for best performance, what they offer is software, the system inside it. If you ask me on which phone I would recommend if you want the ease of use and smoothness, or unified softwares across the iOS platform, iPhone is the choice.

I am not an anti-Apple, anti-Android, anti-Windows Phone kind of guy. Yes, I do prefer Android, but I would recommend any good phones to anyone, based on their preferences. I understand there are always people with different needs and wants in their life, smartphone is no exception.

Apple is a great brand, I admit. They have been building great software with a decent hardware. The iOS of iPhones and iPads have been great, with great smoothness, almost lag-free experience and easy to pick up and use. With the closed system of the OS, it’s really easy to transfer content from device to device in Apple’s ecosystem. I was impressed and like the iPhone 3GS and 4 and even the the lastest iPod Touch. Not to mention that the Mac line-up is incredible as well, the great looks of Mac OS and ease of integration between iOS and Mac is useful as well (Microsoft, learn from this!).

But iPhone won’t be good for those who are after specifications. The processor is not the fastest, not enough memory to stack up against the big boys. Heck, I won’t recommend iPhone for camera until iPhone 5. The closed system of iOS is one of the big flaws as well, the use of App Store or iTunes is a must by default, there’s no other option for the users, no competition, and it’s hard to get apps at an affordable price for iOS.

Another problem with Apple is that they overhype things too much. Sure, it works, but ever since the late Steve Jobs left the company, many of the news seems meh for now. The iPhone 5 lacks the 'WoW' factor of iPhones, the 4th iteration is just pure milking of the iPad brand. The decision to dump Google Map as the go-to map application for iOS for the disastrous Apple Maps didn’t help the cause either. The recently iOS 7 unveiling is more like a been there, done that from other companies.

You could say that Android is my go-to OS. I admit that, I love Android. Why? Because in Android, is all about flexibility, and I love that. You could use Android phones as everyday phone, to power user where you can manage a whole lot of tiny details inside the phone. Android is open source software, means that phone makers can use it with their own customisation, and it’s competitive too. Vendors like Samsung, HTC, Sony, Huawei, Motorola and others to keep competing to get the most out of the software and make a good hardware. With an open system, you can get content anywhere you like, don’t like Google Play Store, get it from Amazon or any similar stores.

The worst thing of Android could also be the best thing of Android, the open source. This leads to uncontrollable fragmentations of the Android ecosystem, I could say that there are hundreds of thousands of cheap phones and cheap knockoffs of famous brands available in China right now, running Android. There’s so many customisations done to different phones on the market, so updates and after sales services are poor on phones with lower price point. With those big vendors keep slapping their own skin on top of the OS, the experience can be ruined as well. Only phones with Nexus brand and Google Play Edition (the recently relaunched HTC One and Samsung Galaxy S4) can be considered as pure Android experience.

Lastly, it’s the Windows Phone. Now in the new iteration of Windows Phone 8, Microsoft is looking more and more serious as a contender for mobile market. Windows Phone is more between Android and iOS, with customisation and some closed system security. Windows Phone have been set up a range of specs developers can work on, this means even the lower spec-ed Windows Phone can run smoothly on many of the apps. And the sleek and flat UI is extremely attractive too. I only have test drives of Windows Phone devices, and I can say the Windows Phone has the potential to be a big player.

The partnership between Nokia and Microsoft for Windows Phone seems to have paid off too. I previously doubted it, but I was wrong. With Nokia, Windows Phone have a brand new opportunity to break into new market faster, particularly Asia, where Nokia has a strong brand presence. And Nokia has the best camera for phone without a doubt, the camera quality of Nokia Lumia 920 is top notch!

Flaws? Well, right now the apps ecosystem of Windows Phone is still lacking, so apps and games is less than what Android and Apple offered. It's a short experience of the Windows Phone for me, so not much to criticise yet.

In the end, Apple is great! But that doesn't mean I like it, and I won't totally shun Apple because they still offer great stuffs and advantages over its rivals, but I admit that there are obvious flaws from all three systems. So, don't call me Anti-Apple, I'm open to everything.

Sunday, 16 June 2013

Review: Man of Steel

75 years since his first appearance in the media, and more than 6 years since his last appearance on the big screen, Superman, also known as the Man of Steel gets a big and fresh reboot. The reboot is what Superman needed, and it was done very well. After all, he is the first of all the superheroes.

Before you go into the theaters or waiting for home media to be released, you have to know this, you can't compare this to the old Superman franchise. It is so different from the old ones that a lot of people didn't like the change. For me, personally, Man of Steel is a good Superman movie in its own right.

If you're craving for a more action movie route, Man of Steel is definitely the movie for you. Right from the first moment the movie started, you're introduced to the fiery & crumbling world of Krypton, the birth planet of Superman. Jor-El (Russell Crowe) is directly placed into the fight with General Zod (Michael Shannon), the main villain of the movie. As far as the action sequences go, Zack Snyder nailed it, it was brilliant! But at the same time I feel that some of the action sequences have dragged far too long, a bit unnecessary to be honest.

After the opening, the movie slows down a bit. It is time to explain the theme of the movie. Since this is the reboot of the franchise, origin story is inevitable, but executed in a different way. I think the use of flashbacks to tell the origins of Superman (Henry Cavill) is a smart move, with him finding himself who he really is, then think of his past is really good. Not to mention great cast and performances by Amy Adams (Lois Lane), Laurence Fishburne (Perry White), Kevin Costner (Jonathan Kent) and Michael Shannon (General Zod). Henry Cavill plays the role of Superman well, but sometimes he might played the role too seriously.

In general, Man of Steel is finally a Superman film that we all need and want to see. Despite the overblown and over long action sequences, they were brilliant done. The good performances by some of the cast and a different take on Superman is a great plus to the movie. I think it deserves a sequel.

Score: 3.5/5

Saturday, 1 June 2013

First 10 Days with the HTC One

I know I have been blabbering for awhile now, as you remember I also posted few months back. I have decided to get myself an HTC One, and I have to say it's a great choice!

I have been using HTC phones for quite awhile, since the HTC Desire S, my previous phone, for more than two years. Over the course of the time, HTC did not captivate me with another great phone, Sensation is okay at best, EVO 3D is pure gimmick with the 3D camera, even the One X which is a great phone, does not stand out in the crowd. Probably due to their falling market share and profit, HTC needs an amazing phone, quick!

So here it is, the brand new HTC One! Labelled as the one to save HTC, HTC One makes a wholesome change to HTC's smartphone war charge.

And it does, the first thing anyone, including me, notices is the unbelievable build quality of the phone. The unibody aluminum design definitely makes the One stands out in the crowd. I once placed it on the table in my class the other day, a lot of classmates walked passed the table and noticed the striking phone on the table, that is definitely plus. I have never seen a smartphone so well built like this, not even iPhone or the Motorola Razr came close!

The phone is designed with one thing in mind, speed. The phone features a 1.7Ghz Qualcomm S600 quad-core processor, 2GB of RAM, Adreno 320 GPU and 32GB of storage. I've been using the past few days and it hardly slowed down at any given moment with its quad-core processor at work. It does slow down a bit during gaming session, but that is a thing that is still plaguing the Android platform. Overall, the One is one snappy phone.

Let's talk about the screen and audio of the phone, shall we? The phone has a 4.7 inches 1080p SLCD screen with pixel density of 468ppi, it is the most beautiful screen I've seen in a smartphone, the screen is sharp and has a very good contrast. Watching YouTube videos with this phone is a pleasant experience, and added with the front stereo speakers, dubbed the "Boomsound", is an icing on the cake. Speaking of speakers, the front stereo speakers of HTC One, added with the Beats Audio enhancements, is the best Beats integration in HTC ever. The sound quality of the phone is top notch, the sound is crystal clear, even without the headset on.

The phone has a 4MP 'Ultrapixel' camera, which has lower megapixels and bigger sensors, this result in photos with terrific lighting, it perform really well in night shots. The only trouble with the 4MP camera is that, it lacks details in certain situation. Below are some of the shots I've taken (click for better picture):


The only mixed feeling so far is the UI, which features the HTC Blinkfeed, which allows you to customise news content, social media content in your homepage. It is definitely handy to browse through the latest information I desire, but sometimes it is a bit overwhelming with tons of information at one go. The problem with Blinkfeed is that it cannot be removed, which I would love to because I can turn off from time to time.

Nonetheless, HTC One is the best phone I've experienced in the past few years. The built-quality is second to none, excellent performance, stereo quality with Beats is great. The camera, although it is only 4 megapixels, has been made up by the better camera sensors. This is one phone I would love to recommend to anyone.