Nexus 5X: – Usage update

Well, hi again folks, just thought I would pop by and give an update on my usage of the Nexus 5X as per my previous post. Seen here.

General usage

Well, the general usage has been Ok with no real major issues that have caused much of a problem. So comparing it to my usage of the Nexus 5 over the last two years, there has been nothing I have had to cope with that is out there, so to speak.

Any Problems

The one problem I have encountered and only on one occasion was that the rear camera refused to focus and was making lovely clicking noises whilst trying to do this. I did the usual research online to find that I was not alone and others had experienced this problem as well. I had restarted the phone and the issue has gone and I have never experienced it again. But very puzzling with an online mix of, get a replacement to don’t worry if restarting it has cured it all will be fine. I have decided to monitor and see if it reoccurs and if it does a replacement would be in order I feel.

Battery life can also be an issue and I have noticed that it is not as good as my Nexus 5 and that had a reputation of battery burn. So again recharging when at my desk and then just keeping an eye on it as the day progresses when I am out and about.

I did get a charging pack a year or so ago that allows me to charge my tablet and phone when out and about. Again I had to buy a USB C cable for this as it did not have one.

The other thing I found whilst researching online about the Nexus 5X was that the power charger supplied maybe issuing a charge all the time and may not be stopping when the device does not ask for any. This is called intelligent charging and in some cases the Nexus 5X charger doesn’t act intelligently. I haven’t tested this out in any way as I am not sure how to at this stage. The video I watched online was a chap that does this for a living and had built kit to test these out and asked you to check your own one. Of course, most people won’t be able to.

Conclusion at this stage

My conclusion at this stage, which is still early days of usage is that I am happy with the phone and the amount I can get done, the most useful thing is the fingerprint scanner for the very pickup and unlock facility. Negative on this however, would be putting the phone away in my pocket and accidently touching the sensor on the rear and unlocking the phone to put it in my pocket. Done that a few times. Not a good thing.

Other than that, a good phone, at a great price when I bought it and will hopefully keep me going for a while.

Will try and do some features on the camera and other functions as I encounter their usage.

Houston we have a…..Nexus 5X, what’s all the fuss about?

Nexus 5 phone

New Nexus 5X phone

So it seems my love affair with Google’s Nexus range hasn’t been too badly damaged by the Nexus 9 experience, largely due to my painless daily use of a Nexus 5 phone for a good few years now. Like all good things that has now come to an end; it’s time for a change to ensure I get the full use of Android Nougat when it’s launched later this year. With that in mind, I decided to bite the bullet and get a Nexus 5X – after all, it seems the next sensible step after my great experiences with the Nexus 5.

Granted, it has been out for a while now (and I did wait for the price to drop) but a sale made it too good to pass up, so I purchased it. The plan being that the 5X, along with my sim only package on Three, will keep me going for a while now (unless someone wants me to test drive a phone for them?).

What is the Nexus 5X?

Seems a reasonable question for any of you who have not heard of it before. It is the second five-inch handset from Google and LG, and has much-upgraded hardware over the original Nexus 5, as well as some nice built in extras (including a fingerprint reader and one of the best camera’s to be found in a mobile handset).
LG Nexus 5X hardware specifications

Operating System Android 6.0 Marshmallow
Display 5.2 inches
FHD (1920×1080) LCD at 423 ppi
Corning Gorilla Glass 3
Fingerprint- and smudge-resistant oleophobic coating
Rear Camera 12.3MP
1.55 μm pixels
f/2.0 aperture
IR laser-assisted autofocus
4K (30fps) video capture
120 fps slow motion video capture
Broad-spectrum CRI-90 dual flash
Front Camera 5MP
1.4 μm pixels
f/2.2 aperture
Processors Qualcomm Snapdragon 808 Processor, 1.8GHz hexa-core 64-bit
Adreno 418 GPU
Memory & Storage RAM: 2GB LPDDR3
Internal storage: 16GB or 32GB
Dimensions 147.0 x 72.6 x 7.9 mm
Weight 136 g
Sensors Fingerprint sensor
Sensor Hub
Accelerometer
Gyroscope
Barometer
Proximity sensor
Ambient light sensor
Hall sensor
Android Context Hub
Ports Micro USB Type-C
3.5 mm audio jack
Single Nano SIM slot
Battery 2,700 mAh
Other LED notification light

 

The phone came nicely presented in a box with sliding sleeve that, once removed, let you remove the lid and expose the contents as per the cover photo.

The box contained the phone, USB C charger and cable, a small tool to remove sim port cover, and the usual quick start leaflets etc. The handset has a very nice feel in the hand, and the weight is Ok. Side by side, the screen appears to be larger height wise than my old Nexus 5, but the width looks very similar.

Moving data across

This is always the time-consuming part, but it’s not anywhere near as bad as it used to be. With the use of a Google account, and your data being backed up online in various guises, it is now a much easier process when it comes to re-establishing a phone, or setting up a new one.

I choose the option on setup to transfer account information from a previous device. Following the onscreen instructions, I simply touched the back of the devices together and the transfer started. In a short time the account and then all the apps and setting came across to the new handset.

I still had to do some final tweaking in various apps to allow them to update on the new device, as well as some minor setup on the device itself, before I transferred the music and files I wanted across to my new device from my old one. But that was it, the phone was running and Bob’s your uncle. (Well I did have an Uncle Bob.)

Out of the box, the phone updated the Operating system – getting all the security fixes it had missed while it was hibernating. So here we are, after around 40 minutes for account transfer and updates, with a handset that’s ready to go.

How has the last 5 days been?

I have been using it for around 5 days at the time of writing, and here are my initial thoughts and experiences.

First of all, I must say I am impressed, it is great to use and feels great in the hand – I have it in a new case for extra protection. My biggest issue, if I had one, would be the USB C charging scenario – it sounds great and gives fast charging. Sadly the cable supplied with the phone has USB C at both ends and does not plug into my ANKER charging hub, it only plugs into the charger that came with the phone. I can’t even use it at my laptop to charge via a USB port. This is a bit of a nuisance and needs to be addressed – it has required me to purchase a separate cable with USB C at the phone end and a standard USB plug at the other. I will now need a few of these for the car and other areas I charge the phone a lot, leading to extra costs.

My other issue is no QI charging. I have a pad in my lounge that I used to drop my Nexus 5 onto and it charged. At my desk, I had a stand that I placed my Nexus 5 into and it charged. Sadly now neither of them can be used. Why drop this great way of charging a device?  It was very easy and meant there was no need to fumble about with cables. It seemed like the future, and yet it has been now taken out of the equation again.

The phone use itself is similar to the Nexus 5, in my day to day use the battery doesn’t seem much improved – I am still charging each night for the next day’s use. Screen seems sharper, and I am impressed by the fingerprint unlock – this means I can pick the phone up with either hand and it can be instantly unlocked with the touch of finger. The camera delivers very clear pictures, and the video allows for slow motion and delivers a nice clear picture as well.

I’ll be back!

Had to fit in a terminator quote somewhere. I will be back over the next few weeks with my findings as I use it for work and social purposes. But so far so good. Just need Google to sort the Nexus Tablet range out and I’ll be a happy chappy again.

Up the Alphabet we go.

N9 review photoI thought I had finished with my last post about the Nexus 9, but I decided to sign up for the Google Beta testing of the new Android N on the N9.

So, I duly signed up and downloaded the update, with the occasional warning about it being unstable and not a finished product. Hey, I felt the N9 was running so poorly anyway that it couldn’t get any worse.

I was wrong!

I was very wrong and it can and has gotten worse. N downloaded and installed an optimised. All the standard stuff we have now become familiar with when upgrading or installing Android.

I read all the extras that were available via N and thought they would be good to try out. However my N9, (Thanks HTC for getting it so wrong with this product), had its own ideas in mind.

I had previously mentioned the various problems I was having with the N9 in my previous reviews and had suggested you give it a wide berth. My opinion is still the same.

So what has got worse?

Well, where do I start? Seriously, all looked well and the minor changes to layout were there and all seemed Ok.

Now, after using it for a few slow, very slow weeks, some apps are unstable and not happy at all and crash with an on-screen message asking if I want to close or wait.

The screen changes orientation at will and then logs out of the desktop and you have to log in again. This is so annoying when you are not even touching it and watching a video and when you log in again it has closed it down.

Battery life seems to be very poor and remember it was not good before this improvement.

I am a fan

You wouldn’t think I was a fan of Nexus devices with these posts, but I am and would have a nexus device tomorrow again. Not a N9 however and am looking at a Pixel C.

I think Google could do so much better here and have lost the plot on the N9 and the Pixel C is too heavily priced at present taking away from the ethos that was there when I bought my N7 way back. Low price and highest spec on the market. Come on Google get the focus back to the users and the loyal fan base and get Nexus range back on track and support the people who are supporting you.

So, as far as going up the alphabet, I am sure that Android N will be great when launched and I am only experiencing the bugs that will be ironed out before it does. I do operate very mobile in my business and private usage just now and feel slightly out on a limb on which device to purchase next. One that has raw Android and is cost effective.

Final Nexus 9 Post………..do not pass here!

N9 No entryI thought it was time I updated you guys on the use of my Nexus 9.

I am all for Google and their Nexus range of products, my Nexus 5 is one, if not the best phone I have used. The Nexus 7 2013 version tablet I had was excellent with superb battery life and did everything and more than I needed it to do.

However, as previously mentioned, I purchased the Nexus 9 and gave you some tasters in my previous two posts.

I have now been using it for an extended period and here is my last summary for you to look over.

Pros

Larger screen
Faster processing
Easier to type and handle and view information

Cons

Battery life is just not good, less than a few hours of constant usage and it is down by 40 percent or less. The main culprit it tells me is the screen. I have it set to automatic brightness and the slider at about a third. Not good, as my Nexus 7 lasted for two days, yes you read that correctly two days.

The Nexus 9 seems to load slowly and then the screen periodically freezes and seems to be performing some task in the background as all the hardware then freezes. Power button won’t even switch it off unless you hold it in for a prolonged period.

To summarise it, I would not recommend purchasing the Nexus 9 as it just does to live up to what it claims and as a business owner that uses it constantly for communication and work, it is just not doing what I would like in a manner that makes it a piece of hardware I can recommend…..

Google, if you are reading this you need to sharpen your game here and get a tablet out there that people will be happier with and that can take off with business users as well as the general public. A sad day for my Google and Android revolution……………

What are your thoughts?

Hands on with the Nexus 9 Tablet

N9 review photo

Nexus 9 Review

Have now been using the Nexus 9 for a few weeks now and it was to replace my Nexus 7 2013 model.
First impressions is that it is obviously larger with the 8.9 inch screen. I got the 16 GB model the same Storage I used in the Nexus 7. No issues there. Speed seems OK and it upgraded itself within a day of getting it to Marshmallow the latest version of Android.

Here are the specs for the Nexus 9

Display                                 8.9inch screen

Resolution                           2048 X 1536 pixels, 288 pixels per inch (PPI)

Storage                                16GB

Processor                            2.3 GHz

Ram                                     2 GB

Rear camera                        8-megapixel, flash – yes

Front Camera                      1.6 – megapixel

OS                                        Marshmallow

Battery Capacity                  6700mAh

Wi-Fi                                     802.11 a/b/g/n/ac

Weight                                  425g

So how does it compare with all my daily work tasks?

I use my Nexus every day for work tasks and handle all my social media feeds and emails. As well as typing up documents and accessing the cloud and Internet. I mean I REALLY use it from morning until night it is at my side and always on hand for all the various activities that I do throughout my working and leisure day.

The Nexus 7 handled all this and I never had an issue with performance and battery life. I do run a good number of apps and have multiple desktops. Which is why I find using a tablet computer so useful.
The Nexus 9 has handled all the work loading, but the main things that are different are: –

  • Battery life is less than good. It lasts less than a day, where my Nexus 7 lasted up to two days. The screen being larger seems to burn all the battery power. I have drained it down and recharged it to try and recondition the battery. It hasn’t helped. I find myself charging it during the day and every night. This is not so good and some online trawling of the net suggests that others are finding a similar thing. The upgrade to Marshmallow was supposed to help this but in fact I have noticed no improvement.
  • The screen sometimes also is sluggish and doesn’t respond. Not sure what is causing this.
    It is larger to carry but the pay-out is the better display and larger screen to display data and show clients what I want them to see.
  • It also has no QI charging, which I got into with my Nexus 7. Place it on a pad and off it goes and charges up, no fiddling with connectors anymore. Then they drop it. No fast charge either. Which I did not have with my Nexus 7 but hoped it might be a standard for Nexus devices. But seemingly not with HTC as they produced the Nexus 9 and my Nexus 7 was ASUS. Come on Google get it together.

I am going to continue using it and see how things go. If a cure or fix comes out for the battery life this would be great. So Google if you are reading this what you are up to and what can be done? Get in contact.

What about you guys?

How do you go mobile as they say and is the move to Phablet phones taking away the market for tablet computers? The sales statistics suggest that the sales of tablets has dropped due to phones becoming larger and I have met a few associates who have gotten rid of their tablet computers as their phones are large enough for them to do all they want to do.

What do you use and how is it performing?

Comment below and let us know.

Andoid Wear Brief Update.

Thought I would update my Android Wear post and let you know some of my experiences…

Watch and screen Protection

Well, I wore the watch for w few weeks before my son suggested that we get screen protectors for the glass. He had sourced a tempered glass stick on protector that did protection to level 7. Which meant it was shatter and scratch proof. Sounded like a great idea.

They arrived and my son fitted it to his watch and then to my watch. I used it and all went well. Time for holidays came and I was loading the cases into the boot of the car and the watch clunked of a case or the edge of the boot and I glanced down to see grinded edge on the glass protector.

This happened and few more times as I went about everyday actions and the bottom edge of the protector had small cracks heading upwards. During my holiday I managed another grinded edge of the protector making the look of the watch face not very appealing.

My son had not managed anything and his was still perfect. He said it was because I wear my watch on my right wrist and that is the hand I do everything with. Hence I abuse it. He may well be right. I tended to think that the glass protector was just sticking up enough to be vulnerable to being caught.

I eventually gave up and ordered a stick on flexible cover for the screen with high scratch rating. I prized the glass one off and you can see in the picture how I liked that.

screen protector

Screen Protector?

 

 

It cracked from the small hairline cracks up through the glass. So my experience would be to avoid these particular protectors and stick with the flexible ones, which I have had on for week now and no problems reported even though I have bumped the watch a few times. You can see the small ginded edges at the top left and side of the screen.

Watch usage

On another probably more interesting note. The watch has been performing well and I have found it beneficial to have an instant pop up of the emails and posts coming up on my watch so I can glance and decide if I action them now on my phone or leave them until a more convenient time.

My son also informed me about a wonderful app that in Scotland is very useful. It is called Rain Alarm Pro. It scans various weather and rain pattern feeds at set intervals and lets you know if you are about to be hit with a downpour. I have used this a few times recently as it installs onto the watch as well and shows me the likelihood of you getting soaking wet. It has enabled me to take cover and watch as others run for shelter.

Battery has been OK, really depending on how many notifications I get to the watch and how I interact with them. I charge it every night by default anyway.

First usage summary

So my first summary would be to say that it is still a bit of a novelty and I am not sure how useful this will be, but as Apps develop and they become more interactive it may well make life easier. The benefit I am finding just now is the fact that I do not need to delve into my pocket every time my phone makes a bleep, as my watch shows me the gist of it.

Watch this space for more, no pun intended….or was there?

Who’s in control?

sicial interaction

Eye Contact

I spend, probably like yourself based on the fact you are reading this, a lot of my time interacting with connections and friends on social media. Technology has become my tool for everyday life and connection to the correct people and areas for my personal life and my business life.

I often here myself tell people when I meet them, that I love technology and where it is taking us. We can handle and do so much more than we have ever been able to do in the past.

Until I bumped into this chaps YouTube Video, wow this made me think and challenged me and touched my sensitivity about what it happening all around me.

Check it out the read on for my initial thoughts after watching this video.

Well what do you think? I hope you watched it all to the very end.

I think it was well written and constructed and touches a lot on what society is now doing. Where we are placing our time and ideas. For some the security of having instant friends that interact with you remotely can be reassuring and social media in the past has been known as a medium to save people’s lives because they posted on it in a time of need and help was given.

But, the questions I suppose we are asking ourselves are, are we in control of it or does it take control of us? And is it changing society for the better?

If you do what the chap in the video did and simply walk down the street and take a bus or tube train and watch the amount of face down glued to the device people there are, it will astound you. But because this is a current 21st century thing we accept it I suppose as a sign of the times we are in.

I wonder what the future will look back and say. Will museums and documentaries reflect on this changing social culture as a good thing or a bad thing?

I still think the flexibility of mobile working and connectivity is amazing for running my business, but I am now challenging where I stand with talking to people. Actually looking in their eyes and engaging with them. Hence my top picture. Laughing out loud together in the same room and space.

I am a people person and always have been since high school and I always like to get in front of a person to talk over things, whether work or private concerns. Remote working only takes me so far and I am sure others are in the same boat.

What are your thoughts on this video and does it challenge you in anyway?

Well done to Gary Turk for making this and challenging where are and where we are going.

Android Where? Or should I say Android Wear.

Android Wear

Android Wear

Yes, I have succumbed to the phenomenon that is Android wear and a testing a LG G Watch with my Nexus 5 phone to see what it can do and if it is really a great benefit to me in what I do.

I run a business and use mobile a lot as I am generally out and about and not tied to a desk as much as I used to be. This is a good thing and I like it, I use my Nexus Tablet and my Nexus phone to juggle all the information that is generally thrown at me every minute of every day. Up to this point the combination of my tablet, Phone and desktop have sufficed in keeping me mostly on top of the information overload.

Being a techie and as some would say a Geek I have also been aware of new developments and the hype around Android Wear, (and the Apple watch, bank loan wear).

So Father’s day came and I asked my sons to give me some money and I would add the rest and treat myself to not the top end but the lower end of the wear market as I am still uncertain how this will make my life better.

First Impressions

I have been using the watch now for around two weeks and here are my first impressions.

Ease of setting up was good and it immediately updated itself as the previous wear software had been getting bad press. The new software has changed the watch interface and usage considerably.
It connects to some of the popular Google Apps immediately and gives some interesting interactions through the watch face. Other apps are downloadable and there are a multitude of watch faces that can be installed to change the look and interaction with the watch.

The watch arrived with the watch itself, strap attached and a charging USB cable and cradle.

When placed on charge it automatically switches on and starts the charge. I have found that over the time I have been using it the battery charge survives depending on how much interaction you have with the watch, early on not long as I was using it a lot in setting up etc.

Connectivity was excellent and it connected to my Nexus 5 with ease and has interacted no problem. All though through Bluetooth and my other fear was the phone battery not lasting. At the start this may have been an issue as I was playing with the watch and downloading and changing settings etc.

But generally it has not drained the battery as much as I suspected it might. So that’s a good thing.

I have tended to place the watch on the charging cradle overnight and not worry about it during the day. It charges using pins on the rear of the watch body. I have cycled through some watch faces to get the one I use the most as well as playing with the LCARS one being a huge TNG fan.

Apps that have impressed

The usage of it I suppose is the question and I am still evaluating the benefits. However when an email pops in and I glance at my watch to see the heading and gist of it, I can take action quickly or just swipe it off to tackle it later. So I am finding that quite useful, not having to rake my tablet or phone out of my pocket every time it buzzes. Weather on the phone face and Google NOW journey times are useful at a glance.

My scary moment was the first time I used my phone for Google Navigation recently with the watch and it pinged the route navigation to the watch face. This caused me to giggle glance at the watch and loose concentration on the road. So good or bad thing I am unsure at this time with that one. I am sure you can disable it and I haven’t as yet.

Early days

So it is early days and I am sure I will find more intriguing benefits of having this Android wear device, I haven’t as yet answered a call from it in private or public. Looking like Dick Tracey I suppose. I suppose the answer to the title is Andoid everywhere.

I may post another update soon, but is anyone using these wear devices to great effect?

If so what are you using and what are you doing with it?

It would be great to hear from you.

The Communication Revolution

communication revolution

Communication Revolution

Nice to talk to you, how are things going?
Can you drop me a day and time for a meeting?
When can we talk about the training you need?

You know I see around a hundred questions a day coming my way in various guises and usually keep on top of them, but I have noticed recently that I have dropped the ball on a couple and  wondered why.

I use technology for most things and particularly admin, tasks and communication so how can this be happening? Well in fact the very saviour that I use to keep me organised is the very thing that is making me drop the ball.

How is technology failing me?

I have been doing some historical research and asking the question of how we communicate and of course using my age, no comments here please, as I remember using various versions of communication over my years in industry and business.

Here is a rough breakdown of what I experienced: –

  • Phoned into the office once or twice a day to see if there were any messages for me
  • Got a pager that bleeped when the office needed me, then found a phone and phoned into the office
  • Technology improved and I got given a pager that had a scrolling screen across the top and I could read the messages. This was amazing, where was technology taking us?
  • Got my first company car with built in car phone, large box in the boot and aerial on the roof. The handset took up most of the foot well and a microphone hung in your face as you drove. But, hey that was advances in technology and don’t be fooled I loved it. It also meant I now couldn’t hide anywhere.
  • The next was a company car with a cradle and no large box in the boot and no aerial on the roof. The phone had it all built in and could be removed from the car. What…I was lost for words and it was great. It fitted in my pocket and I could call the office or any clients I wanted. This was just amazing.
  • Then on top of all this I was given a small portable compute that had all my product range on it that I was selling and could work out a quote on the spot for a client. I was then hooked on technology. The tech kept me informed and allowed me to be more flexible in what I was doing, simply brilliant. I could juggle all these no problem and I was mobile even back then.

So where are we now? And I still haven’t answered why technology is letting me down?

Yes, sorry was caught up in nostalgia when times were developing fast and things were simpler.

Now I sound like my gran.

Well, now we have the Internet, the cloud, the web, back then we didn’t so communication was done differently. Now I can get communication from all sections of the Internet that I am active in and believe you me there are a lot of them. Because I am also mobile a lot of the time these communications come in as I am on the hop and I read them quickly and think I will answer that when I get back to base and have time to think it through and check a few things out.

So where do my communications come from now? Well here is the current list and I may have missed some: –

  • Letter, or snail mail as it is called.
  • Emails, quite a lot of emails to various accounts I use
  • Direct messages I get from Facebook, three possible accounts
  • Direct messages I get from Twitter, three possible accounts.
  • Emails I get from LinkedIn
  • Messages I get from my blog I founded and write
  • Messages form my website activity
  • Messages from any LinkedIn groups I am in
  • Messages from Facebook pages I manage
  • Google Hangouts, sometimes a few open at one time talking to more than one person, like holding two phone calls at once.
  • Skype, which I must admit I don’t use a lot really
  • Phone calls on landline and on mobile
  • Text messages
  • Even my file server at home emails me when it updates or has had a problem…….

So my dilemma is that I have on occasion been out the office and mobile and got a message through one of these mediums and read it over and thought I will answer that once I can put a reasonable response together. I then get back to base and there is something in my mind about a message I must answer so I open my emails and check each account, all emails have been read, which of course they have as I looked at it when I was out and about. So it doesn’t jump out at me.

Or on occasion I can’t find an email and think how else did the message come in and spend a bit of time going through all of the above until I hopefully stumble across it. An example recently was one that I had read over when I was out and about that it was a direct message and then my day got busy and confusing. When I got back to base I looked and it wasn’t there. I checked emails and other areas and couldn’t find it. Finally I think found it as a direct message to one of my Twitter accounts I use.

So maybe you can see my dilemma, the very thing I have embraced to make my profile and business public and found easily is also the very thing that is causing me to be juggling so many forms and ways to communicate that I occasionally drop the ball.

What’s the solution, or is there one?

Well, the solution is obviously a difficult one. I could peal back the activity to the essential areas and not over complicate things. Hence only check and receive important messages. But being into all the aspects of the current Internet I find this difficult to rationalise. I even teach people to use it to its fullest. No I will just have to be more organised again and make sure I am aware of the source of communications that come my way and prioritise and deal with them as appropriate. A few extra hours each day might be useful.

What are you experiences of this phenomenon, is it something you have experienced or is it just me?

OnePlus One Phone Review

OnePlus One Phone

OnePlus One Phone

History

Before arriving in the land of OnePlus, I had owned an HTC Desire, HTC Desire HD, Nobrand Chinese Phone™, and a Nexus 4 – the N4 being the nicest phone I had owned to date. Being nexus device, it was thoroughly hackable – I was frequently installing different ROM’s, kernels, etc. to get the most out of it. In finding out about the OPO, I was looking to see if the same flexibility would be present (and guaranteed to remain so). I wasn’t disappointed.

Introduction

Getting an OPO

This is the trickiest part. Having found out about the phone late summer, I was only really in the market for a new phone around October – this was, as family can vouch for, my time of bombarding social media feeds with competitions (winning is better than buying on the wallet) and posting inane chatter on the OnePlus forums. This is the prescribed way of getting an invite, which currently, of December 2014, is the only real way of getting a device (the two preorders seemed a bit shambolic with many users complaining of problems placing orders).

Unpacking the OPO

The OPO arrived in reasonable time and I set about unboxing it. What arrived was an envelope which contained a box, which just so happened to have more boxes inside. Boxception. However, a nice boxception with the inner boxes being fashionably designed and pleasing to look at. This being said, I didn’t look at them for long. The device itself is a large (coming from an N4) phablet, with a nicely textured back (I ordered the 64 GB “sandstone” model). I also ordered a clear clip-on case to prevent the device getting mangled when lying on desks.

Here are some pictures of the unboxing (admittedly, pretty poor pictures – I was in a hurry to unbox!): Images of unboxing. There’s also a size comparison between the Nexus 4 and the OPO.

Notice the plain, cardboard box that it all comes in. Fairly minimalistic!

Initial Impressions

Size

“This thing is BIG, but not too bulky…” This would be how I feel about the device a month down the line. It’s a big device to handle. My Wife is completely not interested in using it, as it’s too large for her hands. My hands, whilst not gigantic, have pretty good reach…and I still find myself using both of them to access menus.

Speed

In use, the OPO is a fast, responsive and pleasant device. CM11s (the custom version of CyanogenMod that runs on the OPO as stock) is well tailored to the device. I had no lag flicking through menus, no issues watching Netflix, or streaming content. It’s quite hard to tax the quad core 801 – 3Gb RAM helps to keep things moving along.

Screen

The 5.5” screen is gorgeous. I had read online that the colours aren’t as vibrant as other devices, and the blacks aren’t as black – I haven’t found this to be the case. It looks good. It responds well. The colours seem reasonably accurate – enough for a phone anyways. I don’t plan on doing huge amounts of image/video editing on the OPO!

Does it fit in pockets?

Sure does! Gets a bit awkward trying to sit down sometimes, but a little shuffling and all is well. If you’re a skinny-jeans type…you’ll definitely need another solution though!

Usage

Does it work well as a phone?

Yes.

How does it cope with media, Netflix, Google Play Music, Movie files etc.?

I’ve not noticed any slowdown, or difficulties in playing files, until I started using a Lollipop ROM where codecs weren’t quite plumbed in. This was soon resolved, and now I can watch movies and listen to music/podcasts to my heart’s content.

Any good as a PDA? Is the term ‘PDA’ even still used?

Seems to be. The large screen is excellent for reading emails and web pages, viewing calendar entries, as well as social media feeds. The only downside to such a screen is the distance your fingers have to travel: the OPO is a big phone. As for using the term ‘PDA’, this was how I used to rock and roll: Palm IIIe.

How’s the camera?

As far as phone cameras go, the OPO is pretty good! I’ve never had a phone camera that can take such detailed and rich photos as the OPO. The ability to shoot and save a .DNG is a boon too: when things aren’t quite right, you can quickly adjust in your favourite editor and hopefully sort them out. They offer much more latitude than the standard JPEG output. See this link right here for some examples.

That screen looks good, but is it a pain to hold and use? How does it fare with colours? What about this yellow tinge™ I’ve read about?

A wee bit pain is a good thing, right? Means you know you’re alive! This was a valid concern for me when purchasing the phone – the Nexus 4 is a 4.7” device, so screen size wasn’t an issue as my ever-agile thumbs could quickly jump across the whole screen. Whilst the OPO did present problems at first I quickly adjusted – there’s a crafty way of holding it one-handed that allows for a slight adjustment and the top of screen is then usable. Take my word for it!

The yellow tinge that folks have been moaning about – this I did notice, and it bothered me for all of 30 seconds after which I realised that the amount of time I’d be staring at a pure white screen was pretty minimal. I’ve stopped noticing it now, and it hasn’t affected my use of the OPO at all. Even on text-heavy sites, where there’s lots of white-space its fine. Seems like folks have been finding this to be an issue that resolves itself over time (or with the use of a UV lamp…): Reddit page about the issue going away.

What’s the battery life like? Does it last all day with moderate usage?

This is where the OPO shines for me. I commute to work (roughly 40 minutes each way) and I enjoy listening to podcasts there and back. On previous phones, I could do this but would always have a nagging sensation that I’d run out of juice if I then wanted to view media/play games/photo edit etc. during the day. With the OPO, I don’t need to worry: the SoC (SnapDragon 801) has a nifty feature for audio playback which really maximises battery life. Watch the video explaining it all here. This has certainly proved true for me. Negligible battery drain whilst commuting, enough juice to back up the phone, download and flash ROM’s, play some games (Godus is the current favourite) and pfaff around on social media. Photos and the occasional video on a lunchtime stroll happen fairly regularly. At the end of day, I’m sitting happy with 30-40% left. This is without any custom kernels or underclocking.

So you enjoy some gaming – what games run well, and how’s the performance?

So far I’ve played some Ravensword (which runs well, but I’m convinced could look better), Godus, Carmageddon (looks identical to how I remember it back in the day), Cogs…so some new, some graphically intensive. So far, nothing has troubled it, although I did notice that Godus had intermittent issues – but I thought this was more likely the nightly CM12 build I’m on rather than the OPO.

There was a recent kerfuffle between OnePlus and CyanogenMod…

Ah, yes. This came across as playground politics. The OPO is still guaranteed updates for the next two years from CyanogenMod, so I’m not that bothered.

Caveats

Are there any caveats with the device? Anything that should make a potential buyer reconsider?

The only thing that I’ve read, that really seems to be a tripping point, is the returns procedure. It seems to be overly complicated and I’ve not really read of anyone successfully managing to return a device…but then again, I’ve not really been needing to research this as my OPO is currently working fine.

The only real caveat for me is the unwillingness of insurance companies to insure. My current company rejected my custom after I informed them I would like to change my policy to cover the OPO. Supposedly the OPO wasn’t shipped from Britain (it was, from the British warehouse OnePlus put in place). I reckon they didn’t know what it was, and so refused to insure. For £281 delivered though…is insurance something I need to concern myself with? The verdict is still out!

Conclusion

Any last words?

Buy this phone. If warranties are a concern, realise that you’re getting a high-end device (I know it’s not cutting edge, but then for £281? C’mon!) For not a lot. The build quality is good, the individual components are great, and the overall experience is pleasant. I’ve not looked back! This is genuinely the best device I’ve owned so far.

Guest Blogger this month is Gordon Thomson BSc Hons Applied Computing, Application Developer.