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PaulOBrien

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Everything posted by PaulOBrien

  1. On the hunt for a cheap SIM only deal? iD Mobile, the Carphone Warehouse MVNO that runs on the 3 network, is offering 10GB of 4G data with rollover, unlimited SMS, 300 mins and spend capping for £10 a month on a 30 day contract, via uSwitch. Bargain! The headline feature for me, aside from the 10GB data, is data rollover. How does it work? It automatically rolls over your unused data allowance to the next month, giving you a second chance to use it. Last month you had some data left over. Data Rollover gives you a second chance to use it. Your unused data is rolled over to this month, and gets used first. You've got all month to use it up. Your unused monthly data allowance always rolls over to the next month. Pretty cool eh! To sign up for the offer, head on over to the uSwitch site. View full item
  2. On the hunt for a cheap SIM only deal? iD Mobile, the Carphone Warehouse MVNO that runs on the 3 network, is offering 10GB of 4G data with rollover, unlimited SMS, 300 mins and spend capping for £10 a month on a 30 day contract, via uSwitch. Bargain! The headline feature for me, aside from the 10GB data, is data rollover. How does it work? It automatically rolls over your unused data allowance to the next month, giving you a second chance to use it. Last month you had some data left over. Data Rollover gives you a second chance to use it. Your unused data is rolled over to this month, and gets used first. You've got all month to use it up. Your unused monthly data allowance always rolls over to the next month. Pretty cool eh! To sign up for the offer, head on over to the uSwitch site.
  3. It might feel like Android tablets are dead (on the whole, it's hard to argue, let's be honest), but there are still some pretty compelling devices out there. One of my personal favourite tablets is the Samsung Tab S2 8.0, which I have in Qualcomm / LTE flavour. It's great, but unlike the Tab S3 (which unfortunately is only available in the larger size) it doesn't have any specific stylus support. So, as a big fan of previous Adonit stylii, I jumped at the chance to try the new 'Droid' model. The Droid is Adonit's first 'micro precision disc stylus' specifically designed with Android users in mind. Currently priced at £16.99 on Amazon in black, blue or silver, it features a newly engineered 4.75mm non-removable micro-size disc. So what's is this 'micro disc'? The majority of capacitive stylus models on sale today feature either a foam / rubber tip or a metallic fabric tip. This is because the screens on tablets are not designed for precision stylii, and need a larger capacitive surface area than a fine tip will provide. Of course, the risk of scratching or marking the screen has to be mitigated too. Adonit pioneered the alternative approach (which admittedly has now been replicated by others) of having a very fine tip, but providing the larger surface area required with a transparent disc. While this might sound a little odd in theory, it's always worked exceptionally well in practice with the original large disc - now that it's been reduced in size, is it still as good? The Droid's micro disc is 32% smaller than on previous models and is ideal both for tablets of all sizes and for phones too. The disc itself is made from PET material, designed to never scratch your screen. It's hinged so you can write or draw at any angle and the dampening tip also helps to provide a more natural writing experience. The stylus body itself has an ultra slim, stylish design with a 7mm diameter and weighs just 13g. The threaded lid, which protects the disc when it's not being used, has a handy clip which I find ideal for keeping it handy in my bag. So this all sounds great in theory... but how well does it work? I'm pleased to report - just as well as its predecessors. The smaller disc really does improve the experience while not compromising on the overall feel or accuracy. While the body of the stylus itself is slimmed down, it's not reduced to such a level that it's uncomfortable to hold for extended periods of time. I could imagine wanting a slightly chunkier version with the same small disc to keep in the pen pot at home, but it's definitely a win for me. My usage scenario is mostly around diagrams or taking notes, but my daughter, who also uses a Tab S2 8.0 is a far more demanding customer - she uses Adobe Draw extensively on her tablet to create 'signs' she posts on Instagram (kids today eh?). I gave her the stylus to try and... I fear I'm never getting it back! The Droid is her first experience of a micro disc stylus, having previously used a narrow foam tipped model. As will be the case for most people, she found the switch a little bit odd at first, as the feel is very different. After a short period of acclimatisation however, she's really happy. I recently gave her an iPad 2018 to try and an Apple Pencil and she preferred the feel of the Adonit! Should you buy one? If you're looking for a stylus for your phone or tablet, I would recommend giving the Droid a try. But really giving it a try, don't discount it because it feels a bit different at first. It's well made, very accurate, fantastically portable and very reasonably priced. I like the blue one best!
  4. PaulOBrien

    Adonit Droid stylus for Android review

    It might feel like Android tablets are dead (on the whole, it's hard to argue, let's be honest), but there are still some pretty compelling devices out there. One of my personal favourite tablets is the Samsung Tab S2 8.0, which I have in Qualcomm / LTE flavour. It's great, but unlike the Tab S3 (which unfortunately is only available in the larger size) it doesn't have any specific stylus support. So, as a big fan of previous Adonit stylii, I jumped at the chance to try the new 'Droid' model. The Droid is Adonit's first 'micro precision disc stylus' specifically designed with Android users in mind. Currently priced at £16.99 on Amazon in black, blue or silver, it features a newly engineered 4.75mm non-removable micro-size disc. So what's is this 'micro disc'? The majority of capacitive stylus models on sale today feature either a foam / rubber tip or a metallic fabric tip. This is because the screens on tablets are not designed for precision stylii, and need a larger capacitive surface area than a fine tip will provide. Of course, the risk of scratching or marking the screen has to be mitigated too. Adonit pioneered the alternative approach (which admittedly has now been replicated by others) of having a very fine tip, but providing the larger surface area required with a transparent disc. While this might sound a little odd in theory, it's always worked exceptionally well in practice with the original large disc - now that it's been reduced in size, is it still as good? The Droid's micro disc is 32% smaller than on previous models and is ideal both for tablets of all sizes and for phones too. The disc itself is made from PET material, designed to never scratch your screen. It's hinged so you can write or draw at any angle and the dampening tip also helps to provide a more natural writing experience. The stylus body itself has an ultra slim, stylish design with a 7mm diameter and weighs just 13g. The threaded lid, which protects the disc when it's not being used, has a handy clip which I find ideal for keeping it handy in my bag. So this all sounds great in theory... but how well does it work? I'm pleased to report - just as well as its predecessors. The smaller disc really does improve the experience while not compromising on the overall feel or accuracy. While the body of the stylus itself is slimmed down, it's not reduced to such a level that it's uncomfortable to hold for extended periods of time. I could imagine wanting a slightly chunkier version with the same small disc to keep in the pen pot at home, but it's definitely a win for me. My usage scenario is mostly around diagrams or taking notes, but my daughter, who also uses a Tab S2 8.0 is a far more demanding customer - she uses Adobe Draw extensively on her tablet to create 'signs' she posts on Instagram (kids today eh?). I gave her the stylus to try and... I fear I'm never getting it back! The Droid is her first experience of a micro disc stylus, having previously used a narrow foam tipped model. As will be the case for most people, she found the switch a little bit odd at first, as the feel is very different. After a short period of acclimatisation however, she's really happy. I recently gave her an iPad 2018 to try and an Apple Pencil and she preferred the feel of the Adonit! Should you buy one? If you're looking for a stylus for your phone or tablet, I would recommend giving the Droid a try. But really giving it a try, don't discount it because it feels a bit different at first. It's well made, very accurate, fantastically portable and very reasonably priced. I like the blue one best! View full item
  5. On Twitter, one of the most common questions I get asked is 'should I buy from this site, the price seems too cheap?'. The site in question is normally one of the big grey importers, such as eGlobalCentral, Tobydeals, Quality Deals. So what are they, why are they so cheap and should you use them? A grey importer is a site that sells devices originally intended for sale in another country, in the UK. This means that they can get the device potentially cheaper abroad and still sell it in the UK at a reduced price, even after (theoretically) paying all applicable taxes and shipping. As a consumer, what are the implications of using these sites? Aside from the fact that what you buy may have the wrong plug on, the obvious one is around warranties. As the devices aren't intended for the UK, making a warranty claim with the manufacturer is going to be complex at best, potentially expensive if you need to return the device and completely impossible at worst. What about returns to the seller? Again, as the companies are not UK based you won't receive the same consumer protection you would here, but there's no doubt the discounts are very appealing. If you do decide to take the plunge, there's a few things you can do to protect yourself and help smooth the process. The first thing to understand is that you're unlikely to get your product quickly. The way things seem to work is that the seller will ship from abroad (typically China) to a UK 'warehouse' who will then ship on to you, removing any risk of import taxes for the buyer. This is OK, but it often takes a while unless there just so happens to be local stock, so you'll have a bit of a wait. The actual purchase and delivery process can also be a bit strange because of the process involved. Many sellers like to issue a local tracking number soon after order confirmation, however this number will then appear to 'do nothing' while the package makes its way to the UK, before suddenly showing progress as the UK leg of the shipment begins. We said above that normal buyer protections don't apply, but what can you do to help protect yourself in the event of an issue or dispute? We've learned the hard way, but always, always try and pay using either PayPal or your credit card. Both offer buyer focused protection policies which don't necessarily guarantee you'll see a positive outcome, but do tip things in your favour. Always opt for shipping insurance. Even more important than this is to document everything as evidence should issues arise later. When the package arrives? Take a photo. When you open and unbox it? Video it in case there's problems. If you find issues later? Make the problem as clear as possible with media you can share with both the seller and the payment handler. Follow the above and chances are you'll be OK. Ultimately you need to decide... Is the risk worth the reward? I recently purchased a Gear Sport from eGlobalCentral. UK street price - £250. Their price - £155. Saving - 38%. It's easy to see why these sites are very popular. One final tip for this piece - many grey importers offer cashback via the main UK cashback sites such as Quidco or Topcashback, so always remember to check there before buying. How has your experience of these sites been? Share in the comments!
  6. PaulOBrien

    Huawei P20 Pro unlocked mint £490

    Single SIM I assume? P
  7. PaulOBrien

    FS - HTC U11 Plus - Mint - 128gb / 6Gb RAM - £350

    I have too many phones atm, but this is a stunning phone and that's a great price!
  8. PaulOBrien

    MoDaCo data breach: Full statement

    Earlier today a number of users contacted us to inform us that data breach tracking site, haveibeenpwned.com, is notifying users of a data breach of the MoDaCo database. After initial investigations, we have determined that this report is correct - a dump of the MoDaCo database has been extracted by an unauthorised entity. First of all - we are of course very disappointed that this has happened, the security of your data is very important to us - I appreciate we've let you down in this regard but hope we can allay some concerns and do our best to rebuild your confidence starting now. MoDaCo runs on a market leading CMS, is regularly updated and runs on a server which too receives regular updates and security scans. We chose the CMS we use because it receives frequent security fixes and most importantly, stores passwords in a very secure Blowfish based form. In that regard, we think that passwords are well protected against unauthorised use, however a small amount of additional data (such as username and email address) are also included in the dump. We have determined that the breach is likely to have occurred by way of a compromised Administrator account. We have taken action to prevent this vector being accessible in this way in the future, for us it is a lesson learned, albeit in a very difficult way to stomach. We are also liaising with the CMS provider to determine additional ways to mitigate similar attacks going forward. Finally, should any users wish their data to be removed from MoDaCo, of course we will arrange for that to be completed. Should this be the case, please complete the 'Contact Us' form using the link at the bottom of every MoDaCo page. This will raise a support ticket to be actioned by the admin team. Once again, I offer my sincere apologies and ask for your understanding in this matter. Cheers, Paul Note: This message is also being sent immediately by email to all users.
  9. PaulOBrien

    How do I delete my account

    Please use the `Contact Us` link at the bottom of the page, when logged in, to create a support request requesting account deletion. Thanks.
  10. PaulOBrien

    FS - Oneplus 6 256gb - EXC - £475 + Postage

    Pesky keyboard! P
  11. A few little hints for getting the most out of the Classified Ads forum! You can quickly access this forum by using the URL https://classifiedads.modaco.com You can follow the Classified Ads forum on Twitter via https://twitter.com/MoDaCoAds You can get emails on new topics by using the 'follow' button in the main forum list You can sign up to a RSS feed of the Classified Ads forum on http://www.modaco.com/rss/1-classified-ads.xml Enjoy! :) P
  12. PaulOBrien

    Hints - Quick access, Twitter feed and RSS Feed

    Of course, click the 'messages' icon at the top, or click on a member name and press 'message'. P
  13. PaulOBrien

    FS - Oneplus 6 256gb - EXC - £475 + Postage

    I wouldn't advise posting your e-mail address in a public forum.
  14. Well, it looks like the HTC Endeavor (or whatever it shall eventually be called) won't be the only device appearing at MWC sporting a Tegra 3 chip... as it will be joined by the LG X3 (internal name P880), LG's new flagship device! Our secret source inside LG has been in touch to let us know that the features include... 4.7" HD 720x1280 screen Tegra 3 Quad core processor (1.5GHz on single core, 1.4GHz when on 2-4 cores) + SMP Core (core companion) for IDLE task operations which will save battery life 2000mAh battery 16GB internal memory + microSD slot 8MP camera with ultra fast shutter 1.3MP Front Facing camera Ice Cream Sandwich 4.0.3 Now, not only has our contact spilled the specs (which confirm what have been posted elsewhere), but they've winged us a couple of screenshots too, which i've posted below (click for full size versions). What can we glean from the screenshots? We can see the device is benching at a jaw-dropping 4412 points in 'new Quadrant' and we can see the device is indeed running Android 4.0.3 but with a 2.6.39 kernel, which is the latest release from Nvidia (thanks flibblesan for pointing that out!). The theme in the screenshots looks fairly vanilla, so hopefully LG won't hack about stock Android too much on this one (I know, wishful thinking!) I also took the opportunity to prod said contact about the forthcoming Optimus 2X update to ICS and, predictably, it's 'in progress but not ready yet'. LG device buyer beware...? If you decide to buy new LG gadget and estimate the quality of recording and reproduction of video on this smartphone by yourself, you may need to convert your videos including HD to the desired format. I recommend free software from Freemake, since it supports the maximum amount of different audio and video formats, and also contains ready presets for a variety of smartphones - from the oldest to the newest flagships. The program runs on Windows, conversion takes a few minutes. The ability to convert YouTube video to mp3 for listening to music on smartphones is included. You can download Freemake video converter here.
  15. PaulOBrien

    Google Daydream Mint £35 inc delivery

    If you want your MoDaCo username updated to reflect your Twitter name let me know! P
  16. Have you always wondered what goes on at a phone launch event? Want to meet the Honor and MoDaCo teams? Well here's your chance to find out - and meet us! MoDaCo together with Honor UK is offering 5 lucky readers the chance to come along to the Honor 10 launch in London on the 15th May! All you need to do to enter is complete the steps on the Gleam entry form below and ensure you are available on the big day. Honor will cover your travel to the event (up to a limit of £60) and as well as enjoying a the launch you'll leave with your very own Honor goody bag. Good luck, and hopefully we'll see you there! Win a ticket to the Honor 10 UK launch on 15th May
  17. PaulOBrien

    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
  18. PaulOBrien

    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...
  19. PaulOBrien

    Ask MoDaCo: The Teclast X98 Pro

    Regular readers may recall that we recently launched our new Teclast forum. The Teclast X98 Air II and 3G have been wildly popular amongst enthusiasts due to their ultra competitive price, solid specs and dual boot Windows / Android setup. Both retail for around £125 at Gearbest. They now have a successor however, in the form of the X98 Pro, which bumps the processor to an impressive Cherry Trail X5-Z8500 model and doubles RAM to 4GB. Storage remains at 64GB, seriously impressive specs for ~£170 via this Aliexpress seller. We now have one in the office for review - so we're fielding your questions in this topic in the Teclast forum. Unlike the original which shipped with Windows 8.1 and Android KitKat, the Pro ships with Windows 10 and Lollipop 5.1 preinstalled. The downside is you no longer get a free year of Office 365, but it does save having to do the upgrade manually. We've intrigued to see how the new model fares from a battery and heat dissipation perspective. So, do you have questions? Ask away! View full item
  20. PaulOBrien

    Ask MoDaCo: The Teclast X98 Pro

    Regular readers may recall that we recently launched our new Teclast forum. The Teclast X98 Air II and 3G have been wildly popular amongst enthusiasts due to their ultra competitive price, solid specs and dual boot Windows / Android setup. Both retail for around £125 at Gearbest. They now have a successor however, in the form of the X98 Pro, which bumps the processor to an impressive Cherry Trail X5-Z8500 model and doubles RAM to 4GB. Storage remains at 64GB, seriously impressive specs for ~£170 via this Aliexpress seller. We now have one in the office for review - so we're fielding your questions in this topic in the Teclast forum. Unlike the original which shipped with Windows 8.1 and Android KitKat, the Pro ships with Windows 10 and Lollipop 5.1 preinstalled. The downside is you no longer get a free year of Office 365, but it does save having to do the upgrade manually. We've intrigued to see how the new model fares from a battery and heat dissipation perspective. So, do you have questions? Ask away!
  21. Have you always wondered what goes on at a phone launch event? Want to meet the Honor and MoDaCo teams? Well here's your chance to find out - and meet us! MoDaCo together with Honor UK is offering 5 lucky readers the chance to come along to the Honor 10 launch in London on the 15th May! All you need to do to enter is complete the steps on the Gleam entry form below and ensure you are available on the big day. Honor will cover your travel to the event (up to a limit of £60) and as well as enjoying a the launch you'll leave with your very own Honor goody bag. Good luck, and hopefully we'll see you there! Win a ticket to the Honor 10 UK launch on 15th May View full item
  22. Thanks to Huawei Mobile UK, we're giving away a Huawei P Smart in the rarer Gold and White colour, featuring 3GB RAM and 32GB storage, a 5.65" Fullview display, 13MP+2MP cameras and super-quick fingerprint unlock. To go with your phone you'll also win a Huawei Band 2 Pro (that's the higher spec one with GPS built in). Entering is easy, with a required Twitter re-tweet and additional options for more entries! The competition is not region restricted and the winner will be chosen at random using the Gleam system. Visit this page to enter!
  23. PaulOBrien

    Coming Soon: MoDaCo and the Honor 6X

    Honor have this evening announced their new, dual camera, mid range champion, the Honor 6X. You know what that means? We've already started work on enthusiasts / developer tools for the device! Over the coming weeks, we will be delivering for the 6X... TWRP custom recovery Root Stock flash and region change SIM unlock guide Bootloader unlock guide Stock-style guide EMUi and stock custom ROMs And more! Stay tuned to our new Honor 6X forum area for content as it becomes available!
  24. If you've been following the launch of the Samsung Galaxy S7 / S7 Edge, you may have read that adoptable storage, a Marshmallow feature that lets you use the microSD card just like internal storage, is missing. The S7s do include a feature where you can move apps to SD card, but it's not quite the same. The good news? You can enable the feature using ADB and it seems to work great, including in hybrid ('mixed') mode. In order to set adoptable storage up, you will need a computer with working 'adb' and, of course, a microSD card in your phone, the faster the better (I personally use a 128GB EVO+ in my own device. Here's the process! 1. BACK UP THE DATA YOU HAVE ON YOUR MICROSD CARD. Your card will be formatted by this process, so make sure you have saved any pictures, videos etc. from your card to your PC before you start. 2. Decide how you want to split your card. You can either commit 100% of the card to internal storage, or split between internal storage and conventional SD. This option is useful if you like to unplug your card and put it in your PC. I would probably recommend committing the whole card. 3. Open your command window / terminal on your computer and type the 'adb shell' command (with your phone connected of course). You will need to enable USB debugging in developer settings (which in turn is displayed by tapping the build number of the device 5 times) in order to see the option. 4. Type 'sm list-disks' to list the disks available for adoption. It'll look something like below - take note of the disk ID (disk:179:160 in this example). 5. Partition the disk. For this we use the 'sm partition DISK TYPE RATIO' command. For example, to partition the disk above as fully adopted storage (aka private) I'd use the command 'sm partition disk:179:160 private'. If I wanted a 50/50 split between adopted and regular, I'd use the command 'sm partition disk:179:160 mixed 50'. Easy right? 6. This process will take a while, but when it's done, the Settings -> Additional Settings -> Storage view on your device should show the new Internal Storage. Note that, for some reason, the total space isn't reported correctly as you can see in this image, however everything seems to work OK. When you install apps, they will generally install automatically to the storage with the most space available, although you can manually move things around if you want to, perhaps for performance reasons (the real Internal storage will likely always be a bit faster). 7. If you want to see another view of how you are doing for space, you can use a third party tool such as FreeSpace or FreeSpace Plus. And that's it! Let us know how you get on, and enjoy your new, expanded S7! View full item
  25. If you've been following the launch of the Samsung Galaxy S7 / S7 Edge, you may have read that adoptable storage, a Marshmallow feature that lets you use the microSD card just like internal storage, is missing. The S7s do include a feature where you can move apps to SD card, but it's not quite the same. The good news? You can enable the feature using ADB and it seems to work great, including in hybrid ('mixed') mode. In order to set adoptable storage up, you will need a computer with working 'adb' and, of course, a microSD card in your phone, the faster the better (I personally use a 128GB EVO+ in my own device. Here's the process! 1. BACK UP THE DATA YOU HAVE ON YOUR MICROSD CARD. Your card will be formatted by this process, so make sure you have saved any pictures, videos etc. from your card to your PC before you start. 2. Decide how you want to split your card. You can either commit 100% of the card to internal storage, or split between internal storage and conventional SD. This option is useful if you like to unplug your card and put it in your PC. I would probably recommend committing the whole card. 3. Open your command window / terminal on your computer and type the 'adb shell' command (with your phone connected of course). You will need to enable USB debugging in developer settings (which in turn is displayed by tapping the build number of the device 5 times) in order to see the option. 4. Type 'sm list-disks' to list the disks available for adoption. It'll look something like below - take note of the disk ID (disk:179:160 in this example). 5. Partition the disk. For this we use the 'sm partition DISK TYPE RATIO' command. For example, to partition the disk above as fully adopted storage (aka private) I'd use the command 'sm partition disk:179:160 private'. If I wanted a 50/50 split between adopted and regular, I'd use the command 'sm partition disk:179:160 mixed 50'. Easy right? 6. This process will take a while, but when it's done, the Settings -> Additional Settings -> Storage view on your device should show the new Internal Storage. Note that, for some reason, the total space isn't reported correctly as you can see in this image, however everything seems to work OK. When you install apps, they will generally install automatically to the storage with the most space available, although you can manually move things around if you want to, perhaps for performance reasons (the real Internal storage will likely always be a bit faster). 7. If you want to see another view of how you are doing for space, you can use a third party tool such as FreeSpace or FreeSpace Plus. And that's it! Let us know how you get on, and enjoy your new, expanded S7!
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