Holiday Tech Gift Guide 2015

holiday tech gift guide

The Hottest Tech Gifts to Give, Plus Other Deals and Shopping Advice

2015 was a big year in the tech world. From new iPhones to Hoverboards and Drones, there is no shortage of technology to give (or receive) this holiday season. Whether you’re shopping for a kid’s first phone, looking for something more advanced, or anything in between, hopefully you find our first holiday tech gift guide beneficial!

The Best New Toys

This was the year of the hoverboard (no they don’t actually hover) and if this item makes its way onto your teenager’s Christmas list but you don’t know where to start looking, let this article guide you. Drones are another hot item on the market and this article gives you several budget options, depending on how fancy you want to go.

When it comes to smartphones – the iPhone 6S, OnePlus X, Nexus 6P and Galaxy S6 Edge, among others were all released in 2015. Consult our Smartphone Comparison Guide and if you’re looking for the latest tablet, check out our review of the iPad Pro.

For the Kids

Let’s face it, in today’s world many kids are getting their first smartphone before they hit puberty. How much you want to give them is up to you, but it’s not always necessary to hand over the latest, greatest mobile device to a pre-teen when these 5 smartphones will do just fine.

Also, you don’t have to go through an expensive carrier like Verizon in order to fulfill your child’s wish of a new smartphone. You can buy them a brand new device and get them set up on our Prepaid Services saving you money and keeping you in control.

For the Gamer

Keyboards, headsets, microphones and other accessories make great gifts for the video game enthusiast in your life. The gaming industry is bigger than ever and with that comes the constant release of new gadgets and accessories. Here are 7 ideas to get you started.

Accessories

If the person you’re shopping for already has all the latest technology, how about some extra accessories? You can shop for phone cases, external battery chargers, cables, screen protectors and more at our locations in Tulsa and North Little Rock. In addition, new tablet and laptop accessories, such as the Apple Pencil, generally come separate from the devices themselves. You can make someone very happy this year with an enticing add-on to their already-top-of-the-line device.

Happy shopping!

iPad Pro Review: Is Apple’s Most Expensive iPad Ever Worth It?

Starting at the small price of $799, you can have yourself one of Apple’s latest and most impressive innovations, the iPad Pro. Of course, the $799 price is for the 32GB Wi-Fi-only model. You’ll have to pay $949 for the 128GB Wi-Fi-only model and $1,079 for the 128GB model with Wi-Fi and cellular connectivity. So what’s all the fuss about? Is the iPad Pro really worth spending as much as you would on a quality laptop? We investigate below.

 

 

iPad Pro

Tablet Features, Notebook Performance

A big draw to the iPad Pro and something Apple certainly bragged about, is the tablet’s A9X processor, a chip built by Apple that they claimed had almost double the CPU performance of the iPad Air 2. Not only is it better than previous generations of iPads, but one study rates the performance even better than the 12-inch Retina MacBook.

For such a powerful device, the iPad Pro is still relatively lightweight. With a 12.9-inch Retina display, the device is only 6.9 mm thin and weighs only 1.57 lbs. On the downside, some have complained that the tablet is too big. A bigger screen is nice for multi-media, especially considering the iPad Pro’s 5.6 million pixels (the highest resolution of any iOS device), but the increased screen size has caused an awkward display in some iOS apps and let’s face it, people want to be mobile with their tablet and some prefer a smaller device.

Keyboard and Pencil

Apple wanted to make sure that the iPad Pro was not only as powerful as some notebooks, but also had similar, if not better, capabilities. Enter the Smart Keyboard and Apple Pencil.

The keyboard is waterproof, provides a good typing experience and actually sits flat on your lap. The Apple Pencil is weighted and feels very natural in your hand. Its accuracy is impressive too, as Lauren Goode mentioned in her review on The Verge:

“The Pencil’s greatest feature, then, is its precision. In my experience there was almost no latency between the Pencil and the screen it really felt like I was using a pencil or pen. Unlike styluses that rely on Bluetooth connectivity, the iPad Pro senses when a stylus is near the display and scans for a “tip signal” 240 times per second, Apple says. There are also sensors in the tip of the stylus that detect pressure and tilt, for stuff like shading.”

The bad news about these features? Apple charges extra, rather than including them with an already-expensive iPad Pro.

Other Pros and Cons

The front and rear-facing cameras have been improved, there are 4 built-speakers and iOS 9’s multi-tasking capabilities allow you to use multiple apps at once. However, the multi-tasking feature is still limited and users have claimed frustration with it.

Here’s the bottom line: the iPad Pro is not taking over laptops anytime soon. But it is indeed a step in that direction. It has closed the gap, and as third-party developers implement more technology and features, expect the gap to close even more.

Looking Ahead to the 2016 Smartphone Market

2016 Smartphone Market

As a whole, smartphone technology gets better every year. Some of that can be attributed to improved technology that allows users to take better pictures, store more data and possess a more durable phone. Another major factor has to do with third-party app developers and marketing efforts. Every year, better, more relevant apps are released and businesses continue to push mobile marketing. As a result, consumers have more choices, options and a better overall product.

What does the 2016 smartphone market have in store? Time will tell, but the rumors are already flying around:

The Samsung Galaxy S7

Expected to be unveiled in February of 2016, Samsung may be working on some sort of pressure-sensitive screen that rivals Apple’s latest original feature, 3D Touch. Other hot rumors about this phone include the potential capability for it to project holographic icons and that a new type of USB connector will open the door to a whole new class of devices.

LG G5

Despite the fact that LG released it’s relatively successful LG G4 this past April, experts are predicting the release of the LG G5 sometime between February and May of 2016. With a 16-megapixel sensor, the LG G4 was one of the best cameras seen in a smartphone in 2015. If LG takes things a step further, expect to see a high-res 20-megapixel camera in the next model.

HTC One M10

Some are saying that the HTC One M10 will determine how well of a shot the company has in the smartphone industry. Expect this new device to be released in the spring of 2016 with more RAM, a better display, USB Type C connection support and Android Pay functionality. It also wouldn’t be surprising for HTC to release a smaller model.

iPhone 7

Despite record sales from their last two models, Apple might just release a new smartphone for the third year in a row, along with the second version of the Apple Watch, in September or October of 2016. Early rumors suggest a thinner, yet strong frame, 2k display, wireless charging, front-facing speakers and an 8MP front-facing camera.

Remember, all of these predictions are really just in the rumor stage. Nothing is certain yet. Perhaps the only certainty is more change and upgrades. As mentioned above, third-party developers have a major hand in the utilization of this technology and along with the tech upgrades, expect more apps, more marketing and increased participation from emerging markets.

What do you want to see next as far as smartphone technology? Are you excited or burnt out by the constant need for the next thing?

Samsung Introduces Z3 on its Household Tizen Operating System

Samsung Z3 on Tizen

While Samsung Electronics Co. relies on the Android platform for most of its devices, the company has big hopes for its own OS, Tizen. They recently released the Samsung Z3 which will be the second smartphone to operate on Tizen.

Haven’t heard of or used Tizen? That’s because Samsung is focusing on releasing it in emerging markets, specifically India. Samsung has, however, released their wearable, the Gear S2, with the Tizen operating system here in the U.S.

The Samsung Z3 is designed specifically for the market in India and certainly won’t be a competitor to the Android and Apple operating systems that dominate here in the U.S. Let’s have a look at the spec sheet anyways:

  • 3 GHz quad-core processor
  • 1 GB of RAM
  • 8 GB of expandable storage
  • 5-inch 720p display
  • 8 and 5 MP cameras

As we mentioned, this spec sheet pales in comparison to the dominant phones and operating systems on the market. However, it is a step up from the Samsung Z1— their first experiment with the Tizen OS.

Time will tell if the Tizen platform will ever make its way into bigger markets. As of now, third-party app developers are hesitant to jump on board, which is a major hurdle. The first step for Samsung and Tizen is to achieve success competing with Microsoft and Blackberry in emerging markets around the world.

Read more on Tizen and Samsung’s newest smartphone here.

A Brief Smartphone Comparison Guide

Comparing smartphones and deciding which is best is tricky because everyone has their personal preferences. People are also loyal to certain brands and may only be looking to buy an iPhone because they already have a Mac or iPad.

There are also arguments that the amount of megapixels in a camera do not necessarily mean a better camera and a high resolution doesn’t mean that much at all. Another thing to consider is the trade-offs in a high battery life. mAh, represents the total amount of energy a battery can store at one time; however, the higher the mAh, the larger and heavier the phone is.

Despite all the personal preferences and the arguments over which metrics should be used in determining the best phone, here are a few facts you can use in this brief smartphone comparison guide:

smartphone comparison

 

Which smartphone is your favorite and which metrics are most important to you when deciding what to buy? Do extra features and specialties outweigh the basic specs? Are you loyal to a certain manufacturer or platform? Maybe you just go for the cheapest phone on the market! Leave us your thoughts in the comments.

Three Major Announcements from the Apple Event

Apple Keynote Introduces New iPad Pro, Apple TV and iPhone 6S

If you rushed out to get an iPhone 6 Plus, it’s no longer the newest mobile device from Apple. At their annual keynote in San Francisco yesterday morning, Apple CEO Tim Cook took the stage and proclaimed, “We’re about to make some monster announcements.”

They went on to unveil some major new software and hardware, which not only impacts Apple product purchasers, but sets a trend for the rest of the industry and consequently, consumers loyal to other companies. Here are three of Apple’s most recent introductions:

iPad Pro

 

It’s massive display of 12.9 inches and 5.6 million pixels, according to Apple Senior VP Phil Schiller, appeals to a professional, business-minded crowd.

The iOS 9 operating system is touted as the “most intuitive, advanced, and secure mobile operating system in the world,” and will allows users to be more productive and creative.

The smart keyboard and the new stylus should also help the iPad Pro appeal to those who want to use the device more like a desktop. However, at only 6.9 mm thin and weighing 1.57 pounds, it should still feel like a tablet. It will be available in November.

Apple TV

 

Apple wants to fundamentally change television with their new operating system, tvOS. Well, at least help further along the already-ongoing change TV has undertaken in the last several years.  In short, the new Apple TV, which includes a more-enhanced Siri with a button on the remote, a Touch Surface on the remote which promotes swiping, and more apps and games are “Coming Soon” for $149. Its competitors, Roku, Amazon Fire TV and Google Chromecast are still available for $99, $99 and $35, respectively. Will you pay extra for Apple’s product?

iPhone 6S

 

Although it’s unusual for Apple to release a completely new phone back-to-back years, behold the 6S and 6S Plus!

The 12-megapixel iSlight camera will capture better photos and take 4k video. 3D Touch seems to be one of the bigger innovations, sensing how much pressure you apply to the screen. This will seem to allow users to “peek” and preview emails and other types of content if you give the phone a subtle tap.

Clearly, 3D Touch is the most novel and significant announcement Apple made this year. There will be a learning curve, but this could be a norm on every mobile device within the next few years. It’s functionality will only become more relevant, especially for gaming, as app developers utilize 3D Touch with their own apps.

Leave us your thoughts in the comments and on Social Media. Are you lining up to purchase Apple’s new products? How significant were the announcements this year? Is paying a premium for Apple products worth it, or do you go the route of cheaper, but comparable items from other manufacturers?

 

Apple September Event: Speculation, Rumors & What to Expect

We’re getting closer to that time of year. Not football season, but Apple’s annual fall event. It will take place this year on September 9th.

The company uses these events to promote upgrades and make big announcements. What can we expect this year? Apple, of course, hasn’t announced anything but there is plenty of speculation and rumors floating around. Here’s what you can expect:

The iPhone 7?

Probably not yet. After all, the iPhone 6 and 6 plus were just released at last year’s event. You can; however, expect Apple to unveil a new operating system that has significant upgrades including calls through WiFi.

iPad Pro

Although you may not see a brand new iPhone, there have been rumors of a new iPad. This one might be huge – with a 12.9-inch display and ports to support a mouse, keyboard and a USB 3.0 port.

Apple TV

This device is overdue for an update! Will we see increased storage and a new remote? The folks at CNET do a great job of gathering up all the rumors.

The Apple Watch

It hasn’t really taken off, yet. But expect Apple to keep working on this device – fixing the bugs, creating updates and adding functionality.

Most of these rumors will indeed probably come true on September 9th, or at least close to it. There will also most likely be several surprises. Stay tuned for more updates and commentary and remember, if you’re experiencing any issues with your cellular devices, contact us and we’ll be happy to help!

Leaked Photos of Google’s New Nexus Smartphones

The rumors and leaks for Google’s smartphones are growing! Leaked photos of the two new unreleased Nexus smartphones, manufactured by LG and Chinese telecommunication equipment maker Huawei, have hit the Web within the past week.

One photo, which leaked in the Google Nexus Community Indonesia shows what appears to be the LG device. You’ll see the back-facing camera lens and below it the small circle that seems to confirm the rumors of a fingerprint scanner. The display size is reportedly 5.2 inches.

 

The new Huawei Nexus 6, which is being tested with a 5.5 and 5.7-inch display screen, was also leaked by @OnLeaks, AKA Steve Hemmerstoffer of Nowhereelse.fr

 

According to @OnLeaks, both smartphones will feature USB-Type C ports, fingerprint sensors, front-facing speakers and a metal frame.

When will they be released? A date hasn’t been announced yet, but speculators say October or November of 2015 make sense, in time for Black Friday/Christmas shopping season. The new smartphones will most definitely run the much anticipated Android M.

You can read more rumors here and of course, stay up-to-date with our blog for smartphone news, tips and advice.

The Most Fragile Smartphones

Fragile Smartphones

We can all agree that smartphone technology is getting better every year. The one downside to these improvements? Sometimes the best, newest cell phones are also the most fragile and susceptible to damage.

Insider Monkey just made their own list of the 6 Most Fragile Smartphone That Definitely Need Protection. That list included the following phones:

  1. Samsung Galaxy S4
  2. LG G3
  3. Samsung Galaxy Note 3
  4. HTC One M8
  5. Nokia Lumia 1320
  6. Apple iPhone 6/6+

Some of those listed above, notably the iPhone 6/6+, are the newest cellular devices on the market with the best technology in the world.

Durability is something manufacturers have yet to master. Most of us wouldn’t trade a smartphone for an archaic flip-phone, but you could practically throw those off a bridge and not see any damage.

When it comes to cell phones in 2015, durability and longevity have moved down on the list of why we want a particular smartphone model. There’s not anything wrong with that, it’s just important to realize that the newer devices need extra care and protection – and if something does go wrong, you need to know where to fix the problem.

That’s where we come in. Contact us, stop by one of our locations in Tulsa or North Little Rock, or give us a call and we’ll be happy to answer your questions and provide solutions to your broken device problems.

3 Necessary Smartphone Accessories

Ever go into a Verizon, AT&T or another carrier’s store to purchase a new phone and have a pushy sales-person throw extra “needed” parts and accessories in your bag? Maybe you are looking for extra parts, but you don’t want them forced on you, some of them are unnecessary, and you would probably like to shop around.

As the technology in our cell phones has skyrocketed, the technology in extra parts and accessories is keeping up. There are so many parts out there, but which ones do you really need? Here are 3 suggestions:

Power Banks

Car chargers and older models of external battery chargers are out the door because of these new charging ports. Find one that is compatible with your device and enjoy the benefits! Many power banks will hold a charge for days, allowing you to plug your dying phone in anywhere; they’re small enough to fit in a purse or bag; and some have multiple USB inputs for multiple phones.

Smartphone Accessories

Camera Accessories

In an age where smartphone photography is at an all-time high, doesn’t it makes sense to look for accessories that will make shooting on your smartphone better and easier? From replaceable lenses to mounts to tripods, there are many options out there. Check out this article from gizmag to view some of the best new options in 2015.

Cases/Screen Protectors

You probably already realize the value of protecting your smartphone by owning a case and screen protector. If not, get on it! Although, we’re happy to fix your phone when it cracks or breaks, why not get a layer of protection that prevents that?

At Cellular Repair & Exchange, we have several parts and smartphone accessories for you to choose from in-store. Come on in and get the parts you want that will compliment your cell phone usage perfectly.