Saturday, 4 February 2017

Motorola Moto G - 1st gen to 4th gen in 2017

Motorola returned to the smartphone world with a storm in 2013 after Google bought their mobile side in 2012. Launching three new lines they were instantly catapulted in to the Android limelight. 

The E range is budget, the G range is mid way and the X, and later joined by the Z, are the high end. The G range stood out as a happy medium with Motorola packing some serious punch into these compared to its competitors.

I have had the opportunity to use all four handsets in the G range. In fact all four have been in our house over the past few weeks, so I am comparing them and how they perform in 2017.

All Moto G handsets follow a similar minimal look. The back has the camera and flash and trademark dimple, the top has the headphone socket, the bottom the MicroUSB socket for charging and data transfer. The right side has the power/lock button as well as the volume rocker.

Moto G (XT1032)

The original Moto G - released in 2013 - is the smallest of all, featuring a 4.5” screen and no MicroSD card slot. A heavy but well built device. The lack of MicroSD card slot is a big turn off for me as the built in 8GB is too limiting without expandability - although also available in 16GB version.




It can handle social media and YouTube videos without issues and even gaming is possible due to its quad core processor and 1GB RAM - but space will be your main concern. It shipped with Android 4.3 Jelly Bean and received 5.0 Lollipop which it runs very well. As a four year old handset it still performs very well for its intended tasks - but lacks the new look OS, which had a major visual overhaul in Marshmallow.

Later on, variants were released that included 4G and MicroSD card slots - although I have never seen any of these.

Moto G2 (XT1068)

The second generation Moto G - released in 2014 - upped the stakes, growing to a 5” screen and adding an MicroSD card slot. It has a more plastic feel, which gives it a lighter feel without making it feel cheap. 




The bigger screen, drastically improved cameras and inclusion of a MicroSD card slot put it at a huge advantage over its predecessor - despite both having the same CPU and GPU. This model was well received by the media and offered serious value for money.

It still performs superbly today, running Android 6.0 Marshmallow (shipping with 4.4.4 KitKat) and easily keeps up with other newer handsets on the market. My daughter has this model and she uses it for light gaming, messaging and music with no issues. It really is a joy to use and doesn't feel like a three year old phone. The battery is easily as good as new phones and she can stretch hers for days. An interesting bonus too is that the G2 has stereo front speakers - producing superb sound for a phone (as far as I know, the only version of the G range to feature them). Later on, a variant, the XT1072, with 4G support was released.

Moto G3 (XT1541)

The third generation Moto G - released in 2015 - took the same design and tweaked it slightly. The back is the big give away featuring a textured back casing for easier grip. The cameras were upped once again offering a very capable 13mpx rear camera offering 1080p videos (over the 720p of previous G handsets) and dual LED flash, the front camera is taken to 5mpx. A slightly better CPU and GPU were introduced and it also added 4G/LTE in all models.




However the performance difference between the second generation and third generation is barely noticeable. My son has the third generation and he loves it. He plays a lot of games and never once complains about speed or delays, the only issue he has is the 8GB internal storage which can limit your apps even though Marshmallow introduced combined storage for internal and SD, it doesn’t work just as it should. There is was a 16GB model which had 2GB of RAM but I am not sure if it was released in the UK. (Editors note: the 16GB/2GB variant only seems to have been sold on Amazon UK, and I too have never seen one in the wild).

The battery size was increased by over 20%, which makes an already decent battery life even better and it features IPX7 water resistance which means it can be submerged in water - although I have never wanted to test it. 

One final addition over its older brother is the ability to wake the phone just by picking it up. Motion triggers the screen to wake, which is a handy feature.

Moto G4 (XT1622)

The fourth generation Moto G - released in 2016 - makes further leaps over the previous version, upping the screen even further to 5.5” (1080P instead of 720P in the previous generations) and cramming in impressive Octa Core processors, 2GB RAM but did keep the same camera specs as the G3. The device is splash-proof rather than water resistant like the G3 had been. 




My wife recently picked up a G4. The performance gain in the new specifications are fantastic. This handset flies and for something in the mid-range market and price range gives even top end handsets twice its price a run for their money.

I was a little dubious about the 5.5” display - especially as both my wife and I had phones with 4” screens - but the phone is large but not uncomfortable in the hand, and the huge display makes reading web sites and playing games great. The larger display is now 1080 - upped from the 720 of previous devices.

It packs in a whopping 3000mAh battery which sees my wife through nearly two days of average use. It ships with Android 6.0 Marshmallow - but is due for the 7.0 Nougat update shortly.

It is also the first Moto G handset to be produced under Lenovo, after acquiring the mobile side from Google.

Moto G5
Due for release in March 2017, the specs are not yet known for the Moto G5, however rumours are it will feature a 5.5" screen and Octa-Core 2Ghz and 3GB RAM.

Conclusion

The whole Moto G range has blown me away and my dismissive attitude towards Android handsets have changed considerably. All four released handsets offer so much power for so little money, it is hard to see why most people would need anything more expensive or powerful.

For the budget conscious the Moto G2 is a great bargain - however it lacks 4G. The Moto G3 is a little more expensive but does have better camera, slightly better processor and 4G.

The Moto G4 is still new and commands a much bigger price tag - but worth it. The original Moto is still good but its cameras are poor and lack of MicroSD card slot might cause space issues.

For me the G2 is the sweet spot between features and price.

Find below a comparison summary of the four models.

Moto G: Nov 2013, Quad Core 1.2Ghz, 1GB RAM, 4.5” screen, 8/16GB internal, 
no SD slot, 5mpx cam, 1.3mpx front cam, 2070mAh battery and Lollipop.

Moto G 2: Sept 2014, Quad Core 1.2Ghz, 1GB RAM, 5” screen, 8GB internal, 
SD slot, 8mpx cam, 2mpx front cam, 2070mAh battery and Marshmallow.

Moto G 3: July 2015, Quad Core 1.4Ghz, 1GB RAM, 5” screen, 8/16GB internal, 
SD slot, 13mpx cam, 5mpx front cam, 2470mAh battery and Marshmallow.

Moto G 4: May 2016, Octa Core 1.4/1.2Ghz, 2GB RAM, 5.5” screen, 16/32GB internal, 
SD slot, 13mpx cam, 5mpx front cam, 3000mAh battery and Nougat.

Written by Simon Royal. Follow me at twitter.com/simonroyal

Thursday, 2 February 2017

Kindle Fire 5th Generation Mini Review

Tablets are big business. A lot of peoples computing needs can be handled just by using one. While Apple and Google dominate the market, Amazon have a foot in the door too. Expanding on their Kindle book readers, Amazon have the Fire range - combining an e-reader and regular tablet.

My son got a Kindle Fire 5th generation as a present and I spent some time getting to know it. This model features a 1.2Ghz Quad Core processor with 1GB RAM, 8GB internal storage, card slot and a 7” screen. For a 2015 device the 1.9mpx fixed focus rear camera and 0.3mpx front camera perform very badly.

I did take some sample pictures to use on this article, but just couldn’t get them from the Fire to my Mac. Bluetooth wouldn’t work. Email needed setting up despite already doing this once. So I gave up.

It has a 7” screen that is surrounded by a rather large black border. This might seem an odd thing to write about, but it was something I noticed straight away. I wonder if it is to enable easy holding when using it as an e-reader.

It is a heavy device but seems well built. It has a minimalist look. The power/lock button, volume rocker, headphone port and MicroUSB charging port are all on the top. The MicroSD slot is the only thing on the right side.




This is an Amazon tablet. Their FireOS is a reskinned version running atop of Android 5.0 Lollipop. However this brings me to the main gripe with the Fire - it has no access to standard Android apps despite being Lollipop based, there is no Play Store. Instead it has its own Amazon Appstore. You sign in with an Amazon account not a Google account. This is not an Android tablet, which without prior knowledge a lot of people might not know this.

Once set up you are faced with a homescreen plastered with Amazon apps and book suggestions - giving a very cluttered look. This tablet can of course be used for surfing, email, FaceBook and Twitter to name a few things, but oddly lacking an Instagram app so be aware this might not cover all your needs. There are an impressive amount of apps and games, but it is just annoying that Android purchased apps will need buying again from the Amazon Appstore.

UPDATE: It is possible to sideload the Play Store and associated services, by downloading the APK files and allowing your Fire to accept 'apps from unknown sources' - full instructions on HowToGeek.com.

One other thing I don't like is your lock screen is used as an advertising medium - like a digital billboard which changes each time you lock it.



From a hardware point of view this is a very fast device. Apps and games load very fast and the whole OS is very fluid - helped by the Quad Core processor and 1GB RAM.

We have to touch on the e-reader side. You can download books directly on the device and reading them is great due to the crisp and bright screen which of course being touch means you can flick through pages too.

Battery is as good as any other tablet, but falls short of the amazing life of a dedicated e-reader. As a hybrid though, it does very well on both parts.

You may have gathered from this review that I am not too impressed with the Fire. As a tablet it is well built and runs fast with great battery life and is ok for surfing, FaceBook or Netflix, but the lack of Android compatibility puts it in the niche market and it is not clear when buying one what its limitations are.

For me a Android tablet with the Amazon app would be a better choice.

Written by Simon Royal. Follow me at twitter.com/simonroyal


Editors Notes:
I have set up a Kindle Fire before for a friend and found the restricted Amazon app store was quite inconvenient and found I had to side-load a few apps like Dropbox to make things easier, but it is a bit of a faff really. I would only really recommend a Fire for absolute basic tablet needs, a better choice would be a second gen Nexus 7 or a Nexus 9. In the last few years though, smaller 7 or 8 inch tablets have fallen out of favour since the advent of ~6 inch smartphones and the introduction of touchscreen Chromebooks with Android apps. 


Saturday, 28 January 2017

Motorola Moto G : 4th Generation Review

I’ve been an iPhone user for many years, but when my kids wanted decent smartphones we looked around and was pointed in the direction of Motorola - not a name synonymous with decent phones these days. However the last few years their Moto range has taken the Android world by storm.

I bought my son a Moto G third generation last year and it blew me away. My daughter then got a Moto G second generation and we were just as impressed.. These might be mid range handsets, but they offer serious power that can even rival high end handsets.

So when my wife wanted to switch from iPhone - there was only one manufacturer to look at, Motorola. She opted for the Moto G fourth generation.

Unboxing revealed an amazing looking handset. For a handset that can be bought for £150 brand new SIM free you get a lot of hardware. While the G3 wasn’t a massive leap over the G2, the G4 is a huge improvement over its predecessor. 

The G4 packs in a 5.5” screen, Octa-Core processor, 2GB RAM and 16GB built-in storage with an SD slot. Compare this to the G3 with it’s 5” screen, Quad-Core processor, 1GB RAM and 8GB built in storage and it is easy to see the improvements the G4 has.

Build
They might be plastic, but Motorola make good solid handsets. The G4 is no exception. It feels strong and sturdy. Its removable back does seem a little flimsy, peeling it off I had a brief worry it would break. The back has a rubbery feel which great for grip.




It is a large phone - especially when you are used to an iPhone 5 or SE with their 4” screen - but the handset fits neatly in the hand. It is thinner than previous models and despite its size feels like it weighs less, although officially both weigh 155g.

The back features the camera, flash and the Moto dimple. The bottom features the MicroUSB port for charging, and connecting to a computer, and the right side has the power/lock button which has a textured feel and also the volume rocker. The top has the headphone socket.

Screen
The 5.5” screen is superb. It is large and very bright and the 401ppi makes it very crisp. Colours look vibrant and viewing angles are great. One thing I have found on all Moto is the screen is very sensitive to touch, which takes a little getting used to.


Cameras
The G4 has the same 13MP camera and 5MP front camera as its predecessor although the front camera now features a ‘selfie flash’ mode similar to the Galaxy S7 and iPhone SE. It shows a white screen illuminating your face in low light.



Back camera: outdoor shots



Front camera: outdoor shot and indoor shot



Back camera: indoor shot

Call/Music
It is a phone primarily, so call quality is important. This handset has the clearest and loudest call quality I have ever experienced on a phone. I live in a poor signal area and still had no issues even indoors.

Music playback was also as good as you get on a phone. I’m not a fan of banging out choons on a tiny phone speaker - no matter what the manufacturer claims - but it performed decently and when hooked to a Bluetooth speaker it was superb. Listening over headphones also produced very loud sound - something I like from a phone.

Performance
This handset is no slouch. Everything is a dream to use on it. Surfing the web, Facebook, Twitter, listening to music, gaming and even navigating the OS, this Moto is amazingly fast.

It’s large screen makes viewing web sites, browsing social media, watching YouTube videos and looking at your camera roll a superb experience.

Battery
It packs in a 3000mAh non-removable battery. Out of the box it was almost fully charged and setting it up, performing the 6.0.1 update and installing her apps made no dent in the battery. The following day, she continued to play with it, made calls and listen to music connected to a bluetooth speaker and by 10pm it still had over 70% battery left. That is very impressive.

OS
As with other Moto handsets, Motorola offer a nearly vanilla Android experience with a few Motorola apps thrown in. It shipped with 6.0 Marshmallow and is due 7.0 Nougat in the near future. The Android world generally falls short of the massive four year of updates you get in the Apple world - however you are talking about a phone that is a quarter of the price.

Conclusion
I was already seriously impressed with the Moto G range - and this large, elegant G4 has seriously turned my head. I can’t fault it in any way.

My ageing iPhone is in need of updating and for the first time I am seriously swaying away from iPhone.

Written by Simon Royal. Follow me at twitter.com/simonroyal

Monday, 12 December 2016

Secondhand Smartphone Upgrade: From 2014 Moto X to 2015 Moto X Play

Just recently I decided I could do with an upgrade from my 2014 Moto X, one that has or will receive Android Nougat, as the 2014 X will not get it due to the age of the CPU. I was considering a Motorola Nexus 6 but it is still a bit out of my budget, but then I spotted a Moto X Play XT1562 at a great price, unlocked and boxed with it's original charger, so I took the plunge and traded up.


First impressions are the 5.5 inch 1080P IPS screen is great, though not quite as black as the AMOLED 5.2 inch screen on the 2014 X. I mainly notice this with Active Display, when it wakes to show the clock when picking it up (it uses the accelerator to detect movement) or when shows a notification. It also does not have the 'wave to wake' feature where you can wake it by waving your hand over the screen, as if you were a Jedi, which is a shame but not a deal breaker. There's no gyro, compass or temperature sensor which is slightly baffling considering the previous model had them.


On the backside of my device is a nice replaceable rubberised back cover which stops it from slipping out your hand, which is handy on such a big heavy device. I loved the old real walnut back on my old X but this rubberised back is more practical, particularly if you do not intend to use a case. It feels a bit heavier than either my old X or my LG G3 but kind of in a reassuring way, it doesn't feel unbalanced. Underneath is a huge non-removable 3630mAh battery. Well it is huge compared with the puny 2300mAh battery in my old X! The SIM/SD card tray is at the top of the device the same as the older X. The usual volume and power buttons are on the right hand side.  


After restoring all my apps during the setup process, which Marshmallow (and above) makes pretty simple now, I setup Nova Launcher with knock to lock and made it look even more stock than it's default launcher. The weather widget is Moto's ripped from the Moto Z and can be downloaded here. The mostly stock Android, that is usual with Moto devices, is buttery smooth on this device, significantly so from my old X, most likely down to the octa-core (4x1.7 GHz Cortex-A53 & 4x1.0 GHz Cortex-A53) CPUs inside, compared to the quad-core 2.5 GHz Krait 400 in the old X.

Camera

The rear camera is very impressive, at 21MP, and does not feel like they threw more pixels at an 8MP device like the Sony Z2 I had. The front camera has 5MP, which is also an improvement over the 2MP on the previous X. One feature I really like is you can get straight into the camera from the lock screen by quickly pressing the power button twice (it vibrates in conformation) or you can quickly twist the device side to side like the old X, which I found took some practice to get right and was slower in practice. Volume down button acts as a shutter button, if you prefer that to tapping the screen, and holding it enables burst mode. The default camera app is a slightly improved, you can manually control the exposure, which I don't remember being there previously. I also noticed that you can use slo-mo on the 'selfie' camera too, unlike on the old X. There used to be a halo effect around the edges of buildings with HDR shots, there's none of that with this device. My only real criticism camera-wise is lack of Photosphere mode in Google Camera due to the lack of a gyro. It takes decent sharp detailed images all the way to edges but I'll let you judge from some photos I took using the stock camera app:

Fairly low light during sunrise:



Misty morning:


Panorama:


I think a user could probably get even better images using third party cameras, particularly to replace the slightly sub-par panorama mode. The Play takes fairly decent 1080P videos, probably about the same or slightly better than my old X. I am surprised it lacks the 2K video recording in the older X, though I never really used it due to the amount of space the recordings take up and the slo-mo recordings are lower in quality too. I have collated a selection of my recent photos using the X Play in an album here.

Battery

The battery life with the 3630mAh battery on the Play is amazing, particularly compared with the older Moto X, I'm usually getting about a day and a half of battery life, and nearly 5 hours screen on time! With particularly high camera usage one time, it dipped to about 3 hours screen-on time. I take a lot of photos, browse the net a lot, and use Hangouts and Facebook Messenger, though I don't play any games.

Conclusion

The Moto X Play feels like it was created for media lovers, with it's huge battery and excellent 21MP/5MP cameras (which is only let down by the lack of a gyro) and MicroSD slot. The near-stock Marshmallow 6.0.1 OS is buttery smooth on the device and it is officially scheduled to receive Nougat sometime early next year. I also really like the 5.5 inch screen which feels large compared with the 5.2 inch of the old X, but the device still manageable in my hands, particularly with the nice rubberised back. It is worth also considering the Moto X Style (which has a gyro and bigger higher resolution screen, but a slightly smaller battery) and also the Nexus 6, but they are still a bit more costly secondhand compared with the Play. So overall, I am very pleased with the X Play so far, it suits my usage well. I consider it the best Android phone I have had so far, having previously owned the 2014 Moto X, Sony Z2, LG G3, Moto G (1st and 2nd gen), Nexus 5, Samsung Galaxy S3, Motorola Atrix 4G and HTC Hero. It is also the youngest device I have had being only just over a year old. Hopefully it will be even better under Nougat when that arrives in the new year, I shall update this review then.  

Update 15/01/2017: Motorola has confirmed that the EU version of the Moto X Play will get the Nougat update by the end of January.



Good:

  • Excellent battery life
  • Great cameras (21MP and 5MP)
  • Splash and dust resistant
  • Micro SD slot
  • Fast charging
  • Upcoming Nougat update
Bad:

  • No gyro or compass sensor.
  • No 2K video recording.




Tuesday, 29 November 2016

An SSD replacement brought my HP Chromebook 14 back from the dead.

Just recently my first gen HP Chromebook 14 started crashing and rebooting randomly, and almost exactly 2 years after I received the device new, the 16GB SSD inside completely died. Unlike the new Macbook Pro, or quite a few Chromebooks, the SSD is actually replaceable. With a little Googling I found a useful blogpost on how to replace it. Instead of going the whole hog and plumping for a 128GB drive, I went for a 32GB SSD due to budget constraints and the worry that it might play up again.




Pulling the Chromebook apart was quite a delicate job, and I am not really keen on doing it on laptops, but it went OK. I even tried re-seating the display cable to fix the flickering I have been getting recently. I put it all back together but had take it apart again because the SD card reader's catch stopped working, the card would not stay in, so I had to put the springiness back into that. Also there's a screw left over...there's always one! Then it was a case of inserting the recovery SD card to restore ChromeOS. It is good to get it going again after having to use my old heavy Dell Latitude E6500 (with Kubuntu) instead for a week or so. I missed the near instant response a Chromebook has when you want to quickly jump on the net, and the hassle-free updates and ultra quick boot time. It's nice to have a little extra onboard storage space and I just hope this SSD lasts longer than 2 years as I really do not like opening this thing up! It's also good to know that the battery is also easily replaceable too.















Sunday, 11 September 2016

iPhone 7 And The Removal of The Headphone Jack.

So, yet again Apple makes an incremental update to their iPhone range with ever so slightly tweaked design, slightly faster CPU, better cameras and removal of the headphone port, supposedly allowing better quality audio, but actually a ploy to eek more money on accessories, such as their £159 AirPods, and whatever sludgy sounding overpriced crap (Apple-owned) Beats produce these days. And it still does not have wireless charging, which Apple will probably debut that on the iPhone 8, call it new and "magical" and use their own particular incompatible format.



I keep hearing the same arguments by various tech people that removing the headphone jack is no big deal because we used to have phones that had proprietary adaptors for headphones. Those people seem to forget that every device maker had proprietary connectors for charging or headphones so you ended up with a box full of all these different cables. Nowadays, all chargers are Micro USB or USB C, except Apple. We don't want to go back to the dark ages of tech! If you are stuck somewhere without a charger or headphones you can usually borrow a charger off somebody or pop into a pound store and get a micro USB lead or ear buds in an "emergency". And headphone makers will have to have work with Apple to get their Lightning and wireless headphones working with the iphone 7 (and maybe not working with non-Apple devices). I doubt the overpriced wireless AirPods will work properly with non-Apple devices either.




The use of a Lightning port to analogue adaptor cannot really improve audio quality (since analogue is still the destination) and Bluetooth headphones just aren't up to the quality of decent wired headphones. Plus the headphone jack component was pretty tiny and maybe could have been moved back to the top of the device instead. And although headphone jacks can break with abuse, they are still tougher than the awful quality of Apple Lightning cables!   


I have also heard the argument that removing the headphone jack helps with making the iPhone 7 water resistant, but other device makers seem to have no trouble making their devices water resistant without removing it. iPhone 7 users who want to use wired headphones while charging their device will have to buy an adaptor from Apple (£49) or elsewhere, and not lose it. iPhone users tech lives must be all about buying and (not) losing adaptors! 



Meanwhile, outside of the Apple Reality Distortion Field..

Of course the recently released Motorola Moto Z had  beaten Apple to it and debuted with a lack of headphone jack earlier this year, not that is a feature to boast about. Sadly Motorola are a shadow of their former self ever since Lenovo took them over. I have a 2014 Moto X, their last really great non-Lenovo device. 

The day before Apple's event, at a fairly dull, lower key, event, LG announced it's V20 phone with high quality quad DAC audio output, fast onboard modem, 4GB RAM, and fingerprint scanner. The specs are great and it's actually an innovative device compared with the iPhone 7. It brings it's 4 camera setup to the V range and keeps a removable battery, SD card slot, second screen along the top, and still has a headphone port! It's DAC includes a dedicated headphone amp too. The only thing I don't really like with LG is their skin over Android, but it is impressive to see it's the first Android device to ship with Nougat out the box. Having a massive SD card would be useful in the device for those who like to travel with lossless audio and for recording high quality UHD videos, which LG have added "Steady Record" electronic image stabilization (EIS). They have also improved the manual camera settings, including volume input levels on the HD stereo mics. It's also pretty tough device as it has a body MIL-STD 810G Military spec Transit Drop Test rating. Also, I am not sure whether it'll actually appear in the UK, since the V10 didn't. 





But it's Apple that usually get all the publicity, particularly from the mainstream newspapers (for example BBC and The Guardian) who usually fawn over the new iDevices, though with the removal of the headphone jack, that has taken centre stage in the press. Only time will tell how well the iPhone 7 goes down with the public, though of course there always seems to be a hardcore Apple fanboy following that will buy it anyway, even at the higher prices they are now here in the UK. I can only hope sanity prevails and the removal of the headphone jack really won't be a trend for future Android devices.  



Further Reading:



Wednesday, 31 August 2016

Motorola Moto G - 2nd Generation vs 3rd Generation

A few weeks back I bought my son a Motorola Moto G 3rd generation and for what is, a mid-range handset, I have been seriously impressed with it.

So when looking for a phone for my daughter I instantly looked at the Moto range. A faulty Moto E had to be returned, and finally I settled on a Moto G 2nd generation.

The Moto G range are Motorola's mid range phones sandwiched between the budget Moto E and the top end Moto X, so you don’t expect premium performance - but the Moto G are decent performers and are reasonably priced. You get serious bang-for-your-buck.

Specs

The 2nd gen was released in September 2014, less than a year later the 3rd gen was released. The 2nd gen is slightly smaller, thinner and lighter than its successor. They both feature a similar body shell, 5.0” IPS LCD screen with 294 ppi and Corning Gorilla Glass 3, 1GB RAM. The 3rd gen adds IPX7 certified - it is water resistant up to 1 meter and 30 minutes.

The 3rd gen is available in 8GB model which has 1GB RAM - which my sons is - as well as 16GB model which has 2GB RAM.


Where the two differ are marginal. The quad-core 1.2Ghz processor in the 2nd gen is upped to a beefier 1.4Ghz. The GPU has been upped slightly too. The cameras go from a 8 megapixel main with LED flash capable of 720p videos and 2 megapixel front, to a 13 megapixel main with dual LED flash capable of 1080p videos and 5 megapixel front. 


Mobile Network

My 2nd gen is a XT1068 model which has no 4G, whereas later ones did. The 3rd gen however does have 4G.

Android Version

The 2nd gen shipped with Android ‘Kit Kat’ but is upgradeable to ‘Lollipop’ and ‘Marshmallow’, whereas the 3rd gen shipped with ‘Lollipop’ and upgradeable to ‘Marshmallow’ with a possibility it will received ‘Nougat’.

Battery

Both feature built in non-removable batteries, but the 3rd gen increases capacity by about 20%.

Performance

I ran both side by side. Both are running Marshmallow and there really is a negligible difference. Apps and games ran pretty much the same, with only a second or two between them and not always in the 3rd gens favour.

Pokemon Go and Facebook - two rather heavy apps for any device ran the same on both. Opening Chrome and loading pages over WiFi there was no difference.

Cameras

The cameras on both handset are very impressive. The 8 megapixel camera on the 2nd gen produce crisp, sharp and well balanced pictures and the increased 13 megapixel on the 3rd gen do just as well.

Front cameras aren’t for much more than taking selfies or video calls. The 2 megapixel on the 2nd gen produced decent images and the upped 5 megapixel on the 3rd gen were even better.

Call and Audio Quality

Both handsets were great for calls, producing clear and very loud calls. Music playing on both were as good as you get from any phone. Personally I don’t like music blasting out from a small plastic device - couple it with a Bluetooth speaker or a pair of decent earphones and I am much happier.

Conclusion


My kids are happy with both handsets. There isn’t much difference between the two. The 3rd gen has slightly higher specs, improved camera, water resistance and a possibility of receiving Android ‘Nougat’.

Both handsets are decent performers.

Written by Simon Royal. Follow me at twitter.com/simonroyal