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PaulOBrien

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About PaulOBrien

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    It's My Party
  • Birthday 07/29/1976

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    http://www.MoDaCo.com

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    Norfolk, UK

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    So... many... phones...
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  1. Which Huawei / Honor 18:9 mid-range phone should you buy?

    Glad it's useful, perhaps something similar for the 16:9 models, of which there are many, is in order! P
  2. Amazfit Bip Review

    Thanks. Interesting they shipped from UK based stock! For runs and bike rides it's perfect, with TCX export via the third party app.
  3. Amazfit Bip Review

    Smaller than a Steel I would say!
  4. The Huawei / Honor march towards domination rolls on with the introduction of a raft of mid-range devices featuring the previously flagship 18:9 screen size. For the UK at least however, exactly which device you should buy isn't clear at all. With the Honor 7X, the Honor 9 Lite and the Huawei P Smart all close in price, which one is the one to have? Let us help you choose! We're going to look at the features of each, finishing with pricing so you can decide which is for you. Screen Huawei P Smart: 2160x1080 5.65" Honor 7X: 2160x1080 5.93" Honor 9 Lite: 2160x1080 5.65" The headline feature of all the devices is their 18:9 screens. All are 2160x1080 in resolution, but the Honor 7X goes for the larger size. For comparison, think of the 7X as Galaxy S8 Plus sized and the P Smart and 9 Lite as Galaxy S8 'regular' sized. Your thoughts here are going to be a big factor in your decision! SIM Slots Huawei P Smart: Single SIM Honor 7X / Honor 9 Lite: Dual SIM (or 1 SIM + microSD), 4G + 2G on second SIM A big black mark against the P Smart with only single SIM support. Note that on the dual devices, unlike on higher end phones, the second SIM is limited to 2G. Battery Huawei P Smart: 3000mAh Honor 7X: 3340mAh Honor 9 Lite: 3000mAh The larger size of the 7X pays dividends in battery size, gaining 340mAh (or over 10%) against the smaller phones. Operating System Huawei P Smart: Android 8.0 + EMUI 8 Honor 7X: Android 7.0 + EMUI 5.1 (Oreo to follow) Honor 9 Lite: Android 8.0 + EMUI 8 The 7X launched first, so perhaps it's not surprising it uses Nougat rather than Oreo. An update is expected in Q2 2018 however. NFC Huawei P Smart: Yes Honor 7X: No Honor 9 Lite: Yes Probably the biggest negative of the 7X is that it has no NFC support. Memory / Storage Huawei P Smart: 3GB RAM, 32GB storage Honor 7X: 4GB RAM, 64GB storage Honor 9 Lite: 3GB RAM, 32GB storage Camera Huawei P Smart: Rear 13MP + 2MP, Front 8MP F2.0 Honor 7X: Rear 16MP + 2MP, Front 8MP Honor 9 Lite: Rear 13MP + 2MP, Front 13MP + 2MP Don't let the higher megapixel count fool you - in our testing, the Honor 9 Lite takes the best pics of these devices. Dimensions / Weight Huawei P Smart: 150.1 x 72.1 x 7.5 mm, 165g Honor 7X: 156.5 x 75.3 x 7.6 mm, 165g Honor 9 Lite: 151 x 71.9 x 7.6 mm, 149g The Honor 9 Lite is noticeably lighter than the other devices. Colour Huawei P Smart: Black Honor 7X: Blue Honor 9 Lite: Blue or Grey The Honor signature blue is surely the way to go! Common features All the devices use exactly the same CPU - the very capable Kirin 659 mid-range processor (16nm Octa core, 2.36 GHz x 4 + 1.7GHz x 4). Connectivity wise, here's where you'll see mid-range cost savings compared to more expensive devices. All the devices lack 5GHz Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5.0 and use microUSB rather than the newer USB-C (Huawei's proprietary fast charging is included). All of the devices have a rear mounted fingerprint sensor. Real pricing Huawei P Smart: £230 (from John Lewis currently OOS, also available from Vodafone) Honor 7X: £240 (Laptops Direct) Honor 9 Lite: £199 with free Honor AM61 Bluetooth sport earphones (Honor UK) So which one should I buy? Let's start with which one you shouldn't buy. I don't see a particularly good reason to buy the P Smart. It's more expensive than the Honor 9 Lite, is single SIM only and that aside they are effectively the same device. Which brings us to the 7X and the 9 Lite. Your choice will probably come down to whether you want a bigger device with more storage - if this is important to you, then the 7X is probably the way to go. But if you want the best phone at the best value... my pick is the Honor 9 Lite. It's extremely good value (particularly with the current free earphones offer), it's stunning to look at and the camera is surprisingly decent. 3GB RAM vs 4GB RAM is largely academic in real use and 32GB will be OK for most people (you can also expand via microSD). If you do buy one of the above, let us know what you think! View full item
  5. The Huawei / Honor march towards domination rolls on with the introduction of a raft of mid-range devices featuring the previously flagship 18:9 screen size. For the UK at least however, exactly which device you should buy isn't clear at all. With the Honor 7X, the Honor 9 Lite and the Huawei P Smart all close in price, which one is the one to have? Let us help you choose! We're going to look at the features of each, finishing with pricing so you can decide which is for you. Screen Huawei P Smart: 2160x1080 5.65" Honor 7X: 2160x1080 5.93" Honor 9 Lite: 2160x1080 5.65" The headline feature of all the devices is their 18:9 screens. All are 2160x1080 in resolution, but the Honor 7X goes for the larger size. For comparison, think of the 7X as Galaxy S8 Plus sized and the P Smart and 9 Lite as Galaxy S8 'regular' sized. Your thoughts here are going to be a big factor in your decision! SIM Slots Huawei P Smart: Single SIM Honor 7X / Honor 9 Lite: Dual SIM (or 1 SIM + microSD), 4G + 2G on second SIM A big black mark against the P Smart with only single SIM support. Note that on the dual devices, unlike on higher end phones, the second SIM is limited to 2G. Battery Huawei P Smart: 3000mAh Honor 7X: 3340mAh Honor 9 Lite: 3000mAh The larger size of the 7X pays dividends in battery size, gaining 340mAh (or over 10%) against the smaller phones. Operating System Huawei P Smart: Android 8.0 + EMUI 8 Honor 7X: Android 7.0 + EMUI 5.1 (Oreo to follow) Honor 9 Lite: Android 8.0 + EMUI 8 The 7X launched first, so perhaps it's not surprising it uses Nougat rather than Oreo. An update is expected in Q2 2018 however. NFC Huawei P Smart: Yes Honor 7X: No Honor 9 Lite: Yes Probably the biggest negative of the 7X is that it has no NFC support. Memory / Storage Huawei P Smart: 3GB RAM, 32GB storage Honor 7X: 4GB RAM, 64GB storage Honor 9 Lite: 3GB RAM, 32GB storage Camera Huawei P Smart: Rear 13MP + 2MP, Front 8MP F2.0 Honor 7X: Rear 16MP + 2MP, Front 8MP Honor 9 Lite: Rear 13MP + 2MP, Front 13MP + 2MP Don't let the higher megapixel count fool you - in our testing, the Honor 9 Lite takes the best pics of these devices. Dimensions / Weight Huawei P Smart: 150.1 x 72.1 x 7.5 mm, 165g Honor 7X: 156.5 x 75.3 x 7.6 mm, 165g Honor 9 Lite: 151 x 71.9 x 7.6 mm, 149g The Honor 9 Lite is noticeably lighter than the other devices. Colour Huawei P Smart: Black Honor 7X: Blue Honor 9 Lite: Blue or Grey The Honor signature blue is surely the way to go! Common features All the devices use exactly the same CPU - the very capable Kirin 659 mid-range processor (16nm Octa core, 2.36 GHz x 4 + 1.7GHz x 4). Connectivity wise, here's where you'll see mid-range cost savings compared to more expensive devices. All the devices lack 5GHz Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5.0 and use microUSB rather than the newer USB-C (Huawei's proprietary fast charging is included). All of the devices have a rear mounted fingerprint sensor. Real pricing Huawei P Smart: £230 (from John Lewis currently OOS, also available from Vodafone) Honor 7X: £240 (Laptops Direct) Honor 9 Lite: £199 with free Honor AM61 Bluetooth sport earphones (Honor UK) So which one should I buy? Let's start with which one you shouldn't buy. I don't see a particularly good reason to buy the P Smart. It's more expensive than the Honor 9 Lite, is single SIM only and that aside they are effectively the same device. Which brings us to the 7X and the 9 Lite. Your choice will probably come down to whether you want a bigger device with more storage - if this is important to you, then the 7X is probably the way to go. But if you want the best phone at the best value... my pick is the Honor 9 Lite. It's extremely good value (particularly with the current free earphones offer), it's stunning to look at and the camera is surprisingly decent. 3GB RAM vs 4GB RAM is largely academic in real use and 32GB will be OK for most people (you can also expand via microSD). If you do buy one of the above, let us know what you think!
  6. Amazfit Bip Review

    The Amazfit Bip is not a Smartwatch. The Amazfit Bip is a fitness tracker with some Smartwatchy traits and a whole host of possibilities. The Amazfit Bip is basic in many ways and lacks the features on many of its peers. The Amazfit Bip is cheap, fun and I love it. Intrigued? Read on! Your first question might be ‘Who is / what are / Amazfit?’ – Amazfit is a brand of Huami who in turn are part of a company you almost certainly have heard of, Xiaomi – the Chinese Smartphone behemoth. As with many Xiaomi group products, the Bip majors on price vs performance and is only officially available in Xiaomi’s Chinese home market. The device is known as both the Bip and the Bip Lite and is available in both Chinese and (often slightly more expensive) English versions. If you’re buying, you can pick up either – if you end up with a Chinese version, it will convert to English the first time you connect it to the English Mi Fit app, which is downloadable from the Play Store. The Bip typically costs under £50 from the usual Chinese retailers (GeekBuying – where I bought mine, Gearbest etc.) and is available in 4 colours – black / black, grey / grey, orange / blue and green / green. I have the black, but I am very tempted to pick up a grey (near white) one too. From a design perspective, the Bip feels like a cross between an Apple Watch and a Pebble. Certainly most people seem to mistake it for an Apple product, despite the subtle Amazfit branding on the front and the obviously inferior screen. The screen is where the Bip feels particularly similar to a Pebble – it’s a 1.28" 176x176px transflective LCD that has excellent visibility even when not backlit and performs particularly well in sunlight. A lift of the wrist activates the backlight and although the screen is basic, it serves its purpose well, has basic touch functionality and no doubt contributes to the device’s excellent battery life. Stamina really is the biggest selling point of the Bip – despite the fact that it’s very compact, claimed life from the 190mAh battery is 4 months of disconnected use, 45 days of normal use connected to a Smartphone and an incredible 22 hours of continuous GPS use. These claims sound outrageous and not remotely achievable but you know what? I don’t think they are far out, which is an incredible achievement. I use a Gear S3 Classic or a TicWatch E normally and much as I love those watches (and functionally they are mostly superior), having a watch I don’t need to charge every day or every other day really makes a huge difference, particularly as it’s small enough to use for sleep tracking without being uncomfortable. The IP68 rated Bip is made from 'polycarbonate with zirconia ceramics' (I literally have no idea what that means) with a silicone strap and feels both very well built and comfortable to wear. I’m particularly impressed that the screen is coated with 2.5D Corning Gorilla Glass. I’ve had many a problem with Pebbles scratching easily in the past and thus far, the Bip has escaped this fate. 20mm straps will fit the Bip and the included strap has quick release pins – I’ve picked up a metal mesh strap from Amazon for the princely sum of £2.99, which improves the style of the watch for non-sport use immensely. The watch clips into the included USB charging dock in a very satisfying way (although if you’ve changed the strap for one that doesn’t split in the middle it’s a bit awkward) and the watch charges very quickly. I like that the Mi Fit app shows a notification when charging is complete too. Available for download from the Play Store, the Mi Fit app is the link between your phone and the watch. The app shows an activity log, last heart rate measurement courtesy of the PPG sensor (note: heart rate is measured periodically or continuously during activity, but not continuously otherwise – more on that later), sleep stats, weight goals (useful if you want to pair a Xiaomi smart scale) and a goals section plotting your progress against defined targets. A separate tab allows you to start outdoor running, treadmill, outdoor cycling or walking activities as well as viewing further detail on previous activities. The profile tab is where your goals, friends, personal details and a host of watch specific settings can be configured. A rather strange ‘behaviour tagging’ menu lets you select from a whole host of activities to tag your exercise, but it feels a bit lacking and would be better more tightly integrated into the activities section. The watch section allows you to choose from a selection of watch faces, configure Android Smart Lock to use the watch to bypass the lockscreen, enable incoming call notifications, set alarms, toggle app notifications, enable idle alerts, find your watch, set which arm you are wearing the watch on, toggle the lift to wake functionality, enable more detailed sleep tracking by utilising heart rate (at the expense of battery life), set up your location for weather details and choose which items are displayed on watchfaces. The Mi Fit app does a great job of maintaining a stable connection to the Bip. I’ve used many, many fitness bands and smartwatches where the connection just isn’t reliable enough – I half expected the same to be true of Mi Fit, but the company has clearly gained a lot of useful experience from the millions of Mi Fit bands shipped – connectivity was rock solid. On the watch itself, most of the time you’ll be in ‘locked’ mode, where information will be displayed on screen (this is dependent on your watchface, I tend to have time, date, battery level and step count) and touches on the screen are ignored. Exiting the lock mode is as simple as pressing the button on the right of the device, after which a simple animation will ‘sweep’ across the screen indicating the device is unlocked. Sweeping from top to bottom on the screen will open the quick ‘DND’ (Do Not Disturb) menu, where a tap on the screen will toggle between 3 modes – Off, On and ‘Smart’, which is where the watch will detect when you’ve fallen asleep and automatically enter DND. Neat and it works. Sweeping from bottom to top will scroll through any application notifications in turn and show a ‘Clear’ option at the bottom of the list (as of the latest update, individual items can be dismissed too - a big improvement and it's good to see the firmware is still being improved). Notifications are basic. You will see an icon and some information derived from the on-device notification (for Gmail for example, I see an envelope icon, a subject and a snippet of text) but notifications aren’t actionable. Still useful I would argue, but of course this is far from the featureset of a ‘full’ Smartwatch. Sweeping Left or Right on the main screen will switch between the Bip’s main menus. The ‘Status’ menu displays steps, heart rate, distance, calorie burn and activity session length. The ‘Activity’ menu lets you start any of the aforementioned 4 activities as well as viewing history and an activity settings option lets you configure auto-pause (except for the treadmill workout), heart rate alert, pace alert and distance alert. After an activity is started, you can either wait for a GPS / GLONASS fix from the Sony module (which uses A-GPS to speed time to first fix) or start tracking immediately. When in an activity, the screen changes to display time, speed, distance and heart rate, with other stats a further sweep away. A favourite activity can also be started with a long press on the button, which is also the shortcut to pause or end an activity. The interface is intuitive and the display informative. The Weather menu shows the weather for the location configured in the Mi Fit app for today and the next few days, the Alarm menu allows you to toggle the alarms configured in the app and the Timer menu includes both Stopwatch with split functionality and countdown modes. The Compass menu is exactly as the name suggests and the Settings menu allows you to configure some main watch options such as the watch face, button long press action and screen brightness. The device isn’t super powerful so everything isn’t silky-smooth, but it’s responsive enough. The Bip is cool, but it’s a lot about managing expectations. If you’re expecting a top end Smartwatch for under $50 you’re going to be disappointed, but if you’re looking for something a bit different that’s surprisingly well supported by third parties, then you’re likely to be pleasantly surprised. So what does the third party app support look like? I mentioned previously that Xiaomi / Huami have a lot of experience in this area thanks to their Mi Fit bands. The popularity and extreme low cost of the bands has also spawned a thriving developer community to enhance and expand functionality that in turn has also looked to support the Bip. I would normally warn against relying on third party developers for key functionality (and indeed this is a risk you’ll have to consider yourself), but the fact that there are multiple developers with multiple app options supporting the device not only helps to mitigate this risk, it also seems to have a spawned a healthy competition amongst the offerings. I’m currently using ‘Notify and Fitness for Amazfit’ which set me back a couple of quid from the Play Store (money well spent!) and the increased value it’s giving me from the Bip is substantial. The key features of Notify and Fitness for me (and believe me, there are a lot!) are continuous heart rate tracking, track export to 3rd party applications (which enabled me to record my snowboarding directly on the watch as 'cycling' then upload to Endomondo and flip the activity type), a wider selection of watchfaces (although the actual process of switching is somewhat rudimentary as it effectively flashes the device!), improved notifications and button customisations. So would I recommend the Amazfit Bip? Absolutely. It’s probably the best $50 bit of a tech I’ve bought in a long time and much more impressive than I expected. More fully featured alternatives do offer a lot of additional functionality (at a higher price), but also come with their own downsides. Now if only Amazfit would officially sell the device in the UK...
  7. Amazfit Bip Review

    The Amazfit Bip is not a Smartwatch. The Amazfit Bip is a fitness tracker with some Smartwatchy traits and a whole host of possibilities. The Amazfit Bip is basic in many ways and lacks the features on many of its peers. The Amazfit Bip is cheap, fun and I love it. Intrigued? Read on! Your first question might be ‘Who is / what are / Amazfit?’ – Amazfit is a brand of Huami who in turn are part of a company you almost certainly have heard of, Xiaomi – the Chinese Smartphone behemoth. As with many Xiaomi group products, the Bip majors on price vs performance and is only officially available in Xiaomi’s Chinese home market. The device is known as both the Bip and the Bip Lite and is available in both Chinese and (often slightly more expensive) English versions. If you’re buying, you can pick up either – if you end up with a Chinese version, it will convert to English the first time you connect it to the English Mi Fit app, which is downloadable from the Play Store. The Bip typically costs under £50 from the usual Chinese retailers (GeekBuying – where I bought mine, Gearbest etc.) and is available in 4 colours – black / black, grey / grey, orange / blue and green / green. I have the black, but I am very tempted to pick up a grey (near white) one too. From a design perspective, the Bip feels like a cross between an Apple Watch and a Pebble. Certainly most people seem to mistake it for an Apple product, despite the subtle Amazfit branding on the front and the obviously inferior screen. The screen is where the Bip feels particularly similar to a Pebble – it’s a 1.28" 176x176px transflective LCD that has excellent visibility even when not backlit and performs particularly well in sunlight. A lift of the wrist activates the backlight and although the screen is basic, it serves its purpose well, has basic touch functionality and no doubt contributes to the device’s excellent battery life. Stamina really is the biggest selling point of the Bip – despite the fact that it’s very compact, claimed life from the 190mAh battery is 4 months of disconnected use, 45 days of normal use connected to a Smartphone and an incredible 22 hours of continuous GPS use. These claims sound outrageous and not remotely achievable but you know what? I don’t think they are far out, which is an incredible achievement. I use a Gear S3 Classic or a TicWatch E normally and much as I love those watches (and functionally they are mostly superior), having a watch I don’t need to charge every day or every other day really makes a huge difference, particularly as it’s small enough to use for sleep tracking without being uncomfortable. The IP68 rated Bip is made from 'polycarbonate with zirconia ceramics' (I literally have no idea what that means) with a silicone strap and feels both very well built and comfortable to wear. I’m particularly impressed that the screen is coated with 2.5D Corning Gorilla Glass. I’ve had many a problem with Pebbles scratching easily in the past and thus far, the Bip has escaped this fate. 20mm straps will fit the Bip and the included strap has quick release pins – I’ve picked up a metal mesh strap from Amazon for the princely sum of £2.99, which improves the style of the watch for non-sport use immensely. The watch clips into the included USB charging dock in a very satisfying way (although if you’ve changed the strap for one that doesn’t split in the middle it’s a bit awkward) and the watch charges very quickly. I like that the Mi Fit app shows a notification when charging is complete too. Available for download from the Play Store, the Mi Fit app is the link between your phone and the watch. The app shows an activity log, last heart rate measurement courtesy of the PPG sensor (note: heart rate is measured periodically or continuously during activity, but not continuously otherwise – more on that later), sleep stats, weight goals (useful if you want to pair a Xiaomi smart scale) and a goals section plotting your progress against defined targets. A separate tab allows you to start outdoor running, treadmill, outdoor cycling or walking activities as well as viewing further detail on previous activities. The profile tab is where your goals, friends, personal details and a host of watch specific settings can be configured. A rather strange ‘behaviour tagging’ menu lets you select from a whole host of activities to tag your exercise, but it feels a bit lacking and would be better more tightly integrated into the activities section. The watch section allows you to choose from a selection of watch faces, configure Android Smart Lock to use the watch to bypass the lockscreen, enable incoming call notifications, set alarms, toggle app notifications, enable idle alerts, find your watch, set which arm you are wearing the watch on, toggle the lift to wake functionality, enable more detailed sleep tracking by utilising heart rate (at the expense of battery life), set up your location for weather details and choose which items are displayed on watchfaces. The Mi Fit app does a great job of maintaining a stable connection to the Bip. I’ve used many, many fitness bands and smartwatches where the connection just isn’t reliable enough – I half expected the same to be true of Mi Fit, but the company has clearly gained a lot of useful experience from the millions of Mi Fit bands shipped – connectivity was rock solid. On the watch itself, most of the time you’ll be in ‘locked’ mode, where information will be displayed on screen (this is dependent on your watchface, I tend to have time, date, battery level and step count) and touches on the screen are ignored. Exiting the lock mode is as simple as pressing the button on the right of the device, after which a simple animation will ‘sweep’ across the screen indicating the device is unlocked. Sweeping from top to bottom on the screen will open the quick ‘DND’ (Do Not Disturb) menu, where a tap on the screen will toggle between 3 modes – Off, On and ‘Smart’, which is where the watch will detect when you’ve fallen asleep and automatically enter DND. Neat and it works. Sweeping from bottom to top will scroll through any application notifications in turn and show a ‘Clear’ option at the bottom of the list (as of the latest update, individual items can be dismissed too - a big improvement and it's good to see the firmware is still being improved). Notifications are basic. You will see an icon and some information derived from the on-device notification (for Gmail for example, I see an envelope icon, a subject and a snippet of text) but notifications aren’t actionable. Still useful I would argue, but of course this is far from the featureset of a ‘full’ Smartwatch. Sweeping Left or Right on the main screen will switch between the Bip’s main menus. The ‘Status’ menu displays steps, heart rate, distance, calorie burn and activity session length. The ‘Activity’ menu lets you start any of the aforementioned 4 activities as well as viewing history and an activity settings option lets you configure auto-pause (except for the treadmill workout), heart rate alert, pace alert and distance alert. After an activity is started, you can either wait for a GPS / GLONASS fix from the Sony module (which uses A-GPS to speed time to first fix) or start tracking immediately. When in an activity, the screen changes to display time, speed, distance and heart rate, with other stats a further sweep away. A favourite activity can also be started with a long press on the button, which is also the shortcut to pause or end an activity. The interface is intuitive and the display informative. The Weather menu shows the weather for the location configured in the Mi Fit app for today and the next few days, the Alarm menu allows you to toggle the alarms configured in the app and the Timer menu includes both Stopwatch with split functionality and countdown modes. The Compass menu is exactly as the name suggests and the Settings menu allows you to configure some main watch options such as the watch face, button long press action and screen brightness. The device isn’t super powerful so everything isn’t silky-smooth, but it’s responsive enough. The Bip is cool, but it’s a lot about managing expectations. If you’re expecting a top end Smartwatch for under $50 you’re going to be disappointed, but if you’re looking for something a bit different that’s surprisingly well supported by third parties, then you’re likely to be pleasantly surprised. So what does the third party app support look like? I mentioned previously that Xiaomi / Huami have a lot of experience in this area thanks to their Mi Fit bands. The popularity and extreme low cost of the bands has also spawned a thriving developer community to enhance and expand functionality that in turn has also looked to support the Bip. I would normally warn against relying on third party developers for key functionality (and indeed this is a risk you’ll have to consider yourself), but the fact that there are multiple developers with multiple app options supporting the device not only helps to mitigate this risk, it also seems to have a spawned a healthy competition amongst the offerings. I’m currently using ‘Notify and Fitness for Amazfit’ which set me back a couple of quid from the Play Store (money well spent!) and the increased value it’s giving me from the Bip is substantial. The key features of Notify and Fitness for me (and believe me, there are a lot!) are continuous heart rate tracking, track export to 3rd party applications (which enabled me to record my snowboarding directly on the watch as 'cycling' then upload to Endomondo and flip the activity type), a wider selection of watchfaces (although the actual process of switching is somewhat rudimentary as it effectively flashes the device!), improved notifications and button customisations. So would I recommend the Amazfit Bip? Absolutely. It’s probably the best $50 bit of a tech I’ve bought in a long time and much more impressive than I expected. More fully featured alternatives do offer a lot of additional functionality (at a higher price), but also come with their own downsides. Now if only Amazfit would officially sell the device in the UK... View full item
  8. Wileyfox, purveyors of high quality yet low cost Android Smartphones, are looking to disrupt the market by introducing cut price, lock screen ad supported versions of their devices branded ‘Add-X’. Initially offered on the Swift 2 Plus, Swift 2, Spark X and Spark +, Add-X will also be extended to the Swift 2 X in the coming months. The cost savings against RRP are impressive, although in reality reductions are offset by the fact that retailers (e.g. Amazon) typically carry the devices at a decent discount already. Add-X offers adverts that are tailored to the user’s age and gender on the lockscreen while still allows access to notifications. Users swipe right to unlock their phone as normal and swipe left to see more. This is an additional step over the standard one touch fingerprint unlock. Michael Coombes, CEO of Wileyfox said: Offers will periodically include a discount or a preview of a sale – all selected to provide Wileyfox customers with brands, products and services that they would want to see. Over time a proprietary AI and machine-learning technology will tailor ads based on a user’s behavior to serve more of the brands and offers they are looking for. Advertisers on the Add-X initally currently include Dominoes, intu and Ministry of Sound. Wileyfox smartphones with Add-X are available from www.wileyfox.com, Amazon UK, Carphone Warehouse, eBay and ao.com with pricing as follows: Wileyfox Swift 2 Plus - £119.99 (£189.99 RRP) Wileyfox Swift 2 - £99.99 (£159.99 RRP) Wileyfox Spark X - £79.99 (£139.99 RRP) Wileyfox Spark - £69.99 (£119.99 RRP) So what are Add-X devices actually like in use? I’ve been using a Swift 2 Plus for a while now and honestly, the ads are pretty unintrusive and occasionally interesting. For people looking for a decent discount on their handset, it’s definitely worth considering. Personally I’m not a fan of the Spark devices, but the Swifts (and particularly the Swift 2 X when it comes onboard) are a steal at this price. Ads can be removed after purchase for a one time £40 payment and yes, if you’re a bit handy with the Android hacking you’ll be able to shut them off (no, I won’t tell you how) but I really commend Wileyfox for trying something quite different and making a decent job of it. How do you feel about Add-X? Would the cost savings tempt you to put up with the ads?
  9. Wileyfox, purveyors of high quality yet low cost Android Smartphones, are looking to disrupt the market by introducing cut price, lock screen ad supported versions of their devices branded ‘Add-X’. Initially offered on the Swift 2 Plus, Swift 2, Spark X and Spark +, Add-X will also be extended to the Swift 2 X in the coming months. The cost savings against RRP are impressive, although in reality reductions are offset by the fact that retailers (e.g. Amazon) typically carry the devices at a decent discount already. Add-X offers adverts that are tailored to the user’s age and gender on the lockscreen while still allows access to notifications. Users swipe right to unlock their phone as normal and swipe left to see more. This is an additional step over the standard one touch fingerprint unlock. Michael Coombes, CEO of Wileyfox said: Offers will periodically include a discount or a preview of a sale – all selected to provide Wileyfox customers with brands, products and services that they would want to see. Over time a proprietary AI and machine-learning technology will tailor ads based on a user’s behavior to serve more of the brands and offers they are looking for. Advertisers on the Add-X initally currently include Dominoes, intu and Ministry of Sound. Wileyfox smartphones with Add-X are available from www.wileyfox.com, Amazon UK, Carphone Warehouse, eBay and ao.com with pricing as follows: Wileyfox Swift 2 Plus - £119.99 (£189.99 RRP) Wileyfox Swift 2 - £99.99 (£159.99 RRP) Wileyfox Spark X - £79.99 (£139.99 RRP) Wileyfox Spark - £69.99 (£119.99 RRP) So what are Add-X devices actually like in use? I’ve been using a Swift 2 Plus for a while now and honestly, the ads are pretty unintrusive and occasionally interesting. For people looking for a decent discount on their handset, it’s definitely worth considering. Personally I’m not a fan of the Spark devices, but the Swifts (and particularly the Swift 2 X when it comes onboard) are a steal at this price. Ads can be removed after purchase for a one time £40 payment and yes, if you’re a bit handy with the Android hacking you’ll be able to shut them off (no, I won’t tell you how) but I really commend Wileyfox for trying something quite different and making a decent job of it. How do you feel about Add-X? Would the cost savings tempt you to put up with the ads? View full item
  10. Paul,

    Is there any chance you or an admin could delete my account from your site and records please?

    I've been receiving notifications since November and have PM'd you a number of times.

    If there's something further I need to do then please let me know.

    Donal

  11. Let's get some custom ROM tweaking going on for our 6Xs! :) Together with my own MoDaCo Custom ROM for the Honor 6X, I've created a custom ROM starter template for anyone who wants to have a go. It's a bit different. Basically, this ROM template will let you create your own custom ROM VERY easily. Easier than ever before. All you have to do is... download my ROM template zip make the changes to the system of your phone just as you'd like them for your custom ROM run some commands on your device via ADB add the resulting files to the template zip That's it! No messing around with install scripts, no rebuilding anything complex, just mod - and go! ;-) Preparation ONLY if you are completing the process for the first time, you need to set up a file on your microSD card - so launch an ADB shell and type the following commands... touch /sdcard/exclude echo app > /sdcard/exclude echo priv-app >> /sdcard/exclude echo delapp >> /sdcard/exclude ROM build Once you have your system up and running how you want it, and you're ready to distribute it (just the system and cust dirs mind, it won't pull the data dir, so your personal data is safe), reboot to recovery, launch an ADB shell and type the following commands: mount /system tar -X /sdcard/exclude -zcvpf /sdcard/system.therest.tar.gz /system/ tar -zcvpf /sdcard/system.apps.tar.gz /system/app /system/priv-app /system/delapp mount /cust tar -zcvpf /sdcard/cust.tar.gz /cust You'll then end up with 3 new files on your SD card - system.apps.tar.gz (which is apps and priv-apps from system), system.therest.tar.gz (which, as the name suggests, is the rest of the system partition!) and cust.tar.gz with is the cust partition contents. Update the template zip with these 3 files and that's it. It's ready to distribute for people to flash via TWRP! If you have updated the boot image, you'll need to replace that too, the easiest way is to do a TWRP backup then pull that file from the SD card and drop it into the template zip as boot.img. That's really it! I hope this inspires a few people to start playing around with custom ROMs for the 6X... more cool things coming soon! :) Oh and the all important template file... DOWNLOAD - r1-customromtemplate-honor-6x-bln-l21-b122.zip [ROMRAID] MD5: eb7e2639b1cd8e3e9f47297b27983fa9 P
  12. TWRP Recovery 3.0.2.0 for Honor 6X

    I've been working on creating the basic device tree needed to get the latest TWRP built for our Honor 6X and most importantly, accepted as an official TWRP recovery. The recovery is now officially supported by TWRP, and you can download my device tree here. P
  13. All Honor devices currently shipped with a locked bootloader. As long as manufacturers provide a way to unlock, then we're down with that - it helps keep your device secure and means that if you lose it, it's harder for people to steal your data (the process of unlocking the bootloader wipes the phone). There are two ways to unlock your Honor phones bootloader, which will then allow you to install things like custom recoveries, custom kernels / ROMs etc. The first is using the official Honor method, which is free, and the second is using a third party, which costs €4 Euros, but may be the quickest option if the official method isn't working for you. The official method In order to unlock your Honor device using the official method, complete the following steps: Visit https://www.emui.com/en/plugin.php?id=unlock&mod=detail and either create a new account or login with an existing Huawei account. In the form displayed after logging in, enter: Your phone model (BLN-L09 for the Honor 6X) Your phone serial number (this can be found in Settings -> About -> Status) Your phone IMEI1 (this can be found in Settings -> About -> Status) Your phone product ID (to find this, open the dialler and enter *#*#1357946#*#*) The captcha code Press the 'Submit' button. At this point you will either be provided with a code, or you will receive an error such as 'The Huawei ID used to apply for the unlock code has not been used on the device for more than 14 days.' If you get the error, you will need to use the unofficial method below. Open a command window on your PC / Mac, which needs to have 'adb' and 'fastboot' installed from the Android SDK. Enable USB debugging by tapping the build number in Settings -> About 5 times, then going back and selecting the option from the Development menu. Enable OEM unlock in the Development menu. Connect your phone to the PC and approve the security prompt on the device screen. In the command window on your PC / Mac, enter 'adb reboot bootloader' to enter fastboot mode'. In the command window on your PC / Mac, enter 'fastboot oem unlock [insertnumberhere]', of course using the number provided by the Huawei site. YOUR PHONE WILL WIPE ITSELF AT THIS POINT! That's it! You're done! The unofficial method In order to unlock your Honor device using the unofficial method, if for example you receive the '14 day' error from the Huwei site, complete the following steps: On a Windows PC, download and install DC-unlocker from https://www.dc-unlocker.com/. On your phone, enter Manufacturer Mode - open the dialler and enter *#*#2846579#*#*. In the app that then opens, select Project Menu -> Background settings -> USB ports settings -> Manufacturer Mode. Download the Huawei driver pack from https://files.dc-unlocker.com/share.html?v=share/88D4A98C154D4E19AF9D4A1EF09BA620. Install the Huawei driver pack by extracting the file you just downloaded (using WinRAR or similar) and running 'DriverSetup' After installing the driver pack, connect your phone to the PC. In Device Manager, after the automated driver install, you should have no 'Unknown Devices'. Launch the previously downloaded DC-unlocker application. From the drop down lists, select 'Huawei Phones' and 'Auto Detect Model'. Press the magnifying glass icon - the app will then search for your phone. You should see an image like the one below showing your phone is found. At this point, press the 'Buy Credits' option to set up your DC-Unlocker account and purchase the 4 credits required for code retrieval (this will cost €4). You can also do this directly from the DC-Unlocker website. After your credit purchase is complete, click the 'Server' section and enter your new DC-unlocker login details. Press 'Check Login' to validate the details (if the server is busy, this may take multiple attempts). Click the 'Unlocking' section, and click 'Read Bootloader Code'. Do NOT click 'Unlock'. Again, if the server is busy, this may take multiple attempts. The white area of the app will now display the bootloader code. Screen grab this just in case! Open a command window on your PC, which needs to have 'adb' and 'fastboot' installed from the Android SDK. Enable USB debugging by tapping the build number in Settings -> About 5 times, then going back and selecting the option from the Development menu. Enable OEM unlock in the Development menu. Connect your phone to the PC and approve the security prompt on the device screen. In the command window on your PC / Mac, enter 'adb reboot bootloader' to enter fastboot mode'. In the command window on your PC / Mac, enter 'fastboot oem unlock [insertnumberhere]', of course using the number provided by the DC-Unlocker process. YOUR PHONE WILL WIPE ITSELF AT THIS POINT! That's it! You're done!
  14. I'm going to straight up admit that, while EMUI does add a ton of useful tweaks and improvements to Android, not everything in it is to everybody's taste, particularly if you are a big stock Android fan. In this guide (which was written based on Honor 6X shipping software but probably works well on most Huawei / Honor devices), I'll take you through ways to make your device feel more like stock. Feedback is welcomed and I'll be updating this document frequently with additional info and improvements. I am going to walk through the process from a freshly reset device, but you can of course pick out just the bits you want! Launcher After going through the setup wizard on your device and configuring your Play Store account, one of the first things you will likely want to do is replace the standard EMUI launcher. It's particularly non-stock feeling due to it's lack of app drawer. This is nice and easy, because the standard Android launcher is available from the Play Store. The process From the Play Store, ensure all currently installed apps are up to date (particularly 'Google'). From the Play Store, install 'Google Now Launcher'. In the Settings app, select the 'Apps' option, press the Advanced button and select 'Default app settings'. In this screen you can specify the standard Launcher. Choose 'Google App'. Press the home key and you're done, you should now have the standard launcher! Further tips On pre-Marshmallow devices, you may notice that third party launchers (including Google's) don't correctly make the top and bottom bars transparent. Sadly this includes my favourite launcher, Action Launcher 3. Another alternative, Nova Launcher, does have this feature however. Icon themes As you can see in the above images, even with a custom launcher installed, many icons (such as the Play Store) are 'customised'. These backgrounds are applied using a theme. The default Honor 7 theme is called 'Spectrum', but I've made a special version, 'Spectrum Pure' that removes these icon customisations. The process From this post on MoDaCo, download the 'Spectrum Pure' .hwt theme file. Copy the .hwt file to /sdcard/HWThemes on your device (you can use the built in 'Files' app for this if needed). Launch the 'Themes' app, select the 'Mine' tab, select 'Spectrum Pure' and press 'Apply'. When you go back to the homescreen, your customisations should be gone! Note that some launchers need to be restarted to pick up the change, so if in doubt, reboot your device. Third party apps A number of third party apps are installed out of the box, thinks like '50+ free games, 'Bubble Bash', 'Dragon Mania', and Puzzle Pets. You can get rid of these if you prefer. The process In the 'Settings' app, select the 'Apps' option. Select the app you would like to disable in the list and press the 'Uninstall' button. Further tips The Facebook and Twitter apps can be removed in the same way if you don't want to use them. Additional Honor apps As well as third party apps, a number of additional apps are included by Honor that have no stock Android equivalent. You can remove, in the same way as above: Backup Compass Honor Club Mirror Smart Controller (if you remove this though, you will need to install a different app to enable IR functionality) Vmall WPS Office The process In the 'Settings' app, select the 'Apps' option. Select the app you would like to disable in the list and press the 'Uninstall' button. Disabling un-uninstallable apps The above apps are all easily uninstalled, but there are also other apps that while you can't uninstall them, you can disable them. The apps you might want to disable are: Email (if for example you are using the Gmail app instead) HiCare Magnifier Notepad Weather The process In the 'Settings' app, select the 'Apps' option. Select the app you would like to disable in the list and press the 'Disable' button (this will be greyed out for system apps). Keyboards Out of the box the Honor 7 includes a Huawei customised version of Swype and 'Android Keyboard (AOSP)', which is a basic build of the stock Android keyboard. If you are not using Swype and you want to use the stock Keyboard, you should use the Play Store version rather than the provided build to ensure you get updated. The process From the Play Store, install 'Google Keyboard'. Launch Google Keyboard and complete the setup wizard (this is important!). In the 'Settings' app, select the 'Apps' option. Select the 'Menu' button and the 'Show System' option. Select 'Android Keyboard (AOSP)' and press 'Disable'. Select 'Huawei Swype' and press 'Disable'. Calendar Honor have replaced the stock Calendar app with their own, however Google Calendar can be installed from the Play Store. The Honor Calendar app is not un-installable or disableable, however using adb access from a computer, there is another solution. The process From the Play Store, install 'Google Calendar'. On your device, enable USB debugging by tapping on the 'Build Number' in 'Settings' -> 'About' multiple times, then from the newly visible development menu, clicking the 'USB Debugging' checkbox. On your computer, from a command prompt / terminal, run the command 'adb shell' - accept the security prompt on your device. Run the command 'pm hide com.android.calendar'. You should now have only one Calendar app in your launcher, as shown below (before / after shot!). Clock Just as with the Calendar app above, the stock Android clock application can be downloaded and the Honor equivalent disabled using ADB. The process From the Play Store, install 'Google Clock'. If you haven't already done so, on your device, enable USB debugging by tapping on the 'Build Number' in 'Settings' -> 'About' multiple times, then from the newly visible development menu, clicking the 'USB Debugging' checkbox. On your computer, from a command prompt / terminal, run the command 'adb shell' - accept the security prompt on your device if required. Run the command 'pm hide com.android.deskclock'. You should now have only one Clock app in your launcher. Messaging If you are not a fan of the Honor Messaging app, you can download and install the Google version and, once again, remove the Honor version. The process From the Play Store, install 'Google Messenger'. Launch the app and set it as your preferred handler for text messages. If you haven't already done so, on your device, enable USB debugging by tapping on the 'Build Number' in 'Settings' -> 'About' multiple times, then from the newly visible development menu, clicking the 'USB Debugging' checkbox. On your computer, from a command prompt / terminal, run the command 'adb shell' - accept the security prompt on your device if required. Run the command 'pm hide com.android.mms'. You should now have only one Messaging app in your launcher. Files, Music, Recorder, Videos Stock Android doesn't have a Files app per se, nor music, recorder or video apps. These can be removed using the same method as above. The process If you haven't already done so, on your device, enable USB debugging by tapping on the 'Build Number' in 'Settings' -> 'About' multiple times, then from the newly visible development menu, clicking the 'USB Debugging' checkbox. On your computer, from a command prompt / terminal, run the command 'adb shell' - accept the security prompt on your device if required. To remove 'Files': Run the command 'pm hide com.huawei.hidisk'. To remove 'Music': Run the command 'pm hide com.android.mediacenter'. To remove 'Recorder': Run the command 'pm hide com.android.soundrecorder'. To remove 'Videos': Run the command 'pm hide com.huawei.hwvplayer'. These applications should now have disappeared from your launcher. Screen Lock and Torch The Screen Lock and Torch shortcuts are currently parts of packages that can't be disabled without ill effects - these need to be removed via a custom ROM. FM Radio This can be removed using the 'pm hide' process, but this will remove all FM Radio functionality (there is currently no stock Android equivalent app). Calculator The stock Android calculator currently isn't available from the Play Store - I will post the APK here in due course. Contacts / Dialler The Contacts / Dialler cannot be changed to the stock Android versions at this time. Notification pulldown / Settings app / Stock app icons / Lockscreen The notification pulldown colours, settings app colours and icons, stock app icons and lockscreen can be modified using a custom theme. I am working on a 'Stock Android' EMUI theme that I will post here in due course. Stay tuned.
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