Showing posts from May, 2023

Why I was wrong about AirPods… and right at the same time!

It's a fair cop. I was wrong about Apple's AirPods. But also right, at least up until the last year or so. Bear with me... I'd always hated the circular plastic outer-ear Apple headphones - they came with every iPod and early iPhone and they sounded tinny and awful, plus they weren't comfortable in my ears for extended periods. So I always refused them and went to third party headphones. Apple then redesigned them to be more 'sculpted' - which mostly helped the comfort issue. But not the audio. Then they went wireless with AirPods, which looked a little stupid (and still does, to some extent, even years later), plus the audio issues remained, at least compared to the competition. But... we come to the third generation of AirPods  (roughly £170 as I write this). They're sculpted, so adequately comfortable now. The long stalk is now shorter so they look marginally less stupid (plus so many people wear them that they don't stand out so much in 2023). And, b

Folding phones and… water!

I recently declared that a phone needs to be lifeproof to be... well, Steve-proof, and that this partly means a decent degree off waterproofing, for use when it's raining (this is the UK!) and for surviving the occasional dunk in washing up water or similar. Which largely precludes the use of 'folding' phones, as in devices which unfold along their length to reveal a mini-tablet. However, there are some subtleties here, if we look at specifications and review materials. So I thought a brief table might be helpful. Device Official IP rating Notes Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 IPX8 No official dust rating, though brushed hinges seem to keep most dirt out in JerryRigEverything tests. Oppo Find N2 none Advertised as 'dust and water resistant'. So OK for use in the rain, for example, but it won't survive a dunking. Vivo X Fold 2 none Teardowns have shown water gaskets and various protections, so again probably fine in the rain, even down the be

Why I'm so obsessed with phone updates...

Time after time I hear myself on-air complaining about a late or missing update to a smartphone. In the grand scheme it doesn't matter that much, surely? Why should it matter to a phone user whether their device is on 'March 2023 Android security' or err... 'April'? Or indeed 'February'? Well, it normally doesn't. Certainly most phone users have no awareness of the security status of their devices.  The security-smart answer is that users need protecting from themselves. All operating systems have some bugs, some vulnerabilities, due to their complexity, and exploiting (and fixing) these is a perpetual game of 'whack a mole' played between hackers and software developers.  But if a serious vulnerability is found in Android OS then simply going to a booby-trapped web page or being tricked into downloading and installing something dodgy, let alone knowingly downloading 'cracked' commercial apps and games from the dark web, then the phone ca

Lifeproof - a phone ruggedness prerequisite

Yes, yes, manufacturers usually quote durability specs (materials, IP rating, etc.) when advertising their phones, but for me it comes down to a certain minimum - if a device is man enough (or, I guess, woman enough!) to survive real world daily use. So, for example, I have my iPhone 14 Pro Max. It: has a stainless steel chassis has 'Ceramic Shield' glass is IP68-rated for dust and water, so is essentially waterproof to the nth degree, you can wash it under the tap or in the bath if it gets dirty is encased in tough clear TPU (and belt-holstered ) Then, to one side, the other smartphone I'm captivated by, the Microsoft Surface Duo, two displays, 360 degree hinge, and so forth. Amazing potential for productivity, a folding tablet in the pocket, effectively. It: has two Gorilla Glass Victus displays, with Gorilla Glass backs has no IP rating, thanks mainly to the 360 degree hinge mechanism and likely ingress of dust and water can't be cased due to the need to fold closed